– Scandinavian seafarers, from the early Middle Ages. Mostly these were free peasants who lived on the territory of present Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Outside their home country, they were pushed by the thirst for profit and overpopulation of the Motherland. The vast majority of Vikings were pagans.
The leader of this diverse group of warriors, traders and travelers was headed. The old Norse word “Viking” is not tied to any specific locality, referring only to a person who goes to sea. Viking campaigns and their way of life, a lot of legends and myths are composed. But not all of them are reliable.
All the Vikings were dirty and wild.
This is how they are represented by numerous feature films and cartoons. In fact, these men and women are quite attentive to their appearance. In the Viking settlements, during excavations, quite a few razors, tweezers and crests were found. Archaeologists found there even the remains of soap, which the soldiers independently cooked. In England, generally considered to be vikings clean, because they washed once a week, on Saturdays. In the Scandinavian languages, until now the word Saturday in literal translation means a bath day. True, today the descendants of the Vikings do not even think about the origin of that word.
All the Vikings were tall blondes.
In the films, the Vikings appear before the audience as tall, strong men with blond hair. But when analyzing historical records, and on the basis of excavations, it was found that the average growth of these warriors was about 170 centimeters. But this is not much even for that time. The picture with blond hair is more complicated. Vikings really considered them an ideal option, but that’s not all of them had such a color of hair. To somehow correct this misunderstanding, warriors used a special soap with a whitening effect. It is worth noting that the Vikings were quite hospitable, among them there were a lot of strangers. It is known that their ranks included not only Spaniards, Italians, French and Portuguese, but even Russian. It is clear that they all could not be fair-haired.
Skulls served as drinking bowls for the Vikings.
This legend was born thanks to the work of Ole Worm “Reuner seu Danica literatura antiquissima” of 1636. There he wrote that the Danish warriors drink from curved branches of skulls. Apparently, the horns were meant. But with the further translation into Latin, only the word skull (skulls) remains. This was the basis for this myth. And even during the excavations, there was not found a single cup made of skull.
The Vikings lived in Scandinavia.
The Vikings did appear in Scandinavia, but eventually settled around the world. They reached North Africa, Russia and even North America. Why this expansion occurred is due to several theories. The most common is due to the fact that gradually in Scandinavia depleted land resources, and the population increased. So the Vikings had to look for new places to live. It is also necessary to take into account the fact that after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, trade between Western Europe and Asia deteriorated significantly. Vikings were forced to look for new, richer places.
The Vikings had primitive and crude weapons.
Another feature of Vikings in movies is their rough armament – clubs and axes. Often warriors are generally depicted without any weapons. But the Vikings were good gunsmiths. In doing so, they used composite forging technology. This was used in the manufacture of the famous damask blades. As a result, the Viking weapons were quite strong and sharp. In the folklore of the soldiers there is a legend according to which the sword could be checked by lowering it into a creek. Water came down the water, if the blade cut it, then the weapon could be considered quite sharp.
Vikings all hated.
Almost all the previous misconceptions gave rise to this.It is believed that the Vikings were everywhere unwanted guests and outcasts, all hated them. In fact, they hated them no more than any foreign nation, but for some reason they are silent about respect for the Vikings. French King Charles II, known as Charles the Simple even gave the Vikings land in the territory of the present Normandy. And the daughter of the monarch was even given over to Rollo, one of the warrior leaders. These “tamed” Vikings subsequently more than once defended France from the raids of their other tribesmen. Yes, and in Constantinople, the Vikings were respected for their courage and strength. It is said that the Byzantine emperors even had a special Varangian guard. It consisted of Swedish Vikings.
Vikings were cruel and bloodthirsty.
Indeed, the Vikings’ attacks looked bloody and cruel. But this is exactly as long as you do not remember other soldiers. Then the battles simply were not conducted otherwise. Cruel and bloodthirsty were all – the British, the French, the Spaniards … King of France Charles the Great, who lived in the same era with the Vikings, almost completely exterminated the tribe of the Avars. This ancient people lived for a long time on the Volga and on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Under Verdun, the king ordered the heads of five thousand inhabitants of Saxony to be chopped off. So the Vikings did not stand out particularly for their cruelty. But they had their own peculiarity. Vikings completely destroyed everything that was associated with alien religions. Temples and monasteries were destroyed, ministers were destroyed. This behavior was very frightening to others, so that they saw the masts of the Viking ships on the horizon, they tried to escape without resistance. This behavior people and tried to justify the cruelty of the Vikings.
Vikings only did what they robbed their neighbors.
There were not many warriors among the Vikings. Most of the people engaged in craft, agriculture and livestock. Exit with expeditions to the sea was a pleasant addition to the income, but this behavior was then inherent in all, even civilized countries. Most of the Vikings lived peacefully all their lives on the lands now called Iceland and Greenland. These people were considered experienced traders who dealt with representatives of other countries and peoples.
All the Vikings wore horned helmets.
Often even women are depicted in such helmets. Meanwhile, this is the biggest misconception about Vikings. Today, no evidence has been found, either in excavations or in documents, that these people actually wore horned helmets. All found headgear horns just do not have. Moreover, their very design does not provide for such excesses. Such a delusion is most likely due to the ancient Christians. Those considered the Vikings as accomplices of the devil, and therefore they had to wear horns on their helmets for intimidation. Perhaps the fact that the Norwegian god Thor had winglets on his helmet probably played a role. With a certain imagination they could be mistaken for horns.