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October 4, 2008 at 7:16 pm #1297October 4, 2008 at 7:26 pm #13343
Is it perhaps because the Vikings weren't really sponsored by any one particular state/kingdom? Also, did they really have a “home base” or were they more like travelling invaders and settled wherever they conquered and then moved on after they expoited the resources?There was a series on the history channel about this recently. (I think the video is available on youtube)October 4, 2008 at 7:54 pm #13344
I'm pretty sure they were settled in the Scandinavian areas of Europe, such as Norway and Sweden. They did eventually settle in other areas, such as Ireland (Dublin was founded by Vikings in 988) and the Normandy area of France (hence the name “Normandy”). But these were settlements that happened after decades or centuries of raiding and returning to base, raiding and returning to base.I just watched a lecture which talked about how the Vikings started out (late 8th/early 9th centuries) as "summer raiders". They would plant their crops in the spring, make raids in the summer, then return for harvest in the fall and remain there over winter. Eventually they began to make winter on the Continent near areas that they raided. But in the end I think they still had their "homeland" in Scandinavia.October 4, 2008 at 8:39 pm #13345
I'm pretty sure they were settled in the Scandinavian areas of Europe, such as Norway and Sweden.
You're likely correct. It was tribal at that time in that region I believe. Now on the other hand, maybe the Vikings weren't viewed as much of a threat. Maybe the word raiders can be replaced with traders?And to comment on Dublin was founded by Vikings: Yes, they settled there, and controlled Dublin at one point, but for the most part the Vikings were under the influence of Irish leaders (according to "Medieval Ireland An Encyclopedia").October 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm #13346
You're likely correct. It was tribal at that time in that region I believe. Now on the other hand, maybe the Vikings weren't viewed as much of a threat. Maybe the word raiders can be replaced with traders?
One of the points brought up in the lecture was that the Vikings were a trading community prior to the 8th century and apparently had a trading route that extended in an arc from the Mediterranean, up to Scandinavia, down through Russia, perhaps as far south as Baghdad. It is unclear to historians, however, as to why they went away from this trading lifestyle and adopted their plundering ways, starting perhaps around the late 8th century. A few theories have been advanced as to why this came about, but none are certain.October 4, 2008 at 10:54 pm #13347
What were some of the theories?October 5, 2008 at 1:15 am #13348
There were three that were mentioned:1) Overpopulation led to the need for expansion;2) Centralization of power by Viking monarchs forced aristocrats to go elsewhere to find treasure;3) Fighting among the Vikings' Eastern trading partners (I'm thinking the Muslims in the Middle East) cut off a commercial channel for the Vikings, forcing them to try to make their way in the world through plunder.All of these remain as theories, however, since the evidence behind all of them is not strong.October 5, 2008 at 3:30 pm #13349DonaldBakerParticipant
Was there any possibility that the Vikings were used as a means to keep the population in line? Sometimes it is useful for a government to have an external threat to keep its people loyal. Perhaps the Carolingians suffered the Viking raids for just such a purpose.October 5, 2008 at 5:13 pm #13350
Was there any possibility that the Vikings were used as a means to keep the population in line? Sometimes it is useful for a government to have an external threat to keep its people loyal. Perhaps the Carolingians suffered the Viking raids for just such a purpose.
Interesting theory. Given its conspiratorial nature, though, I'm surprised it would be coming from you. ;DIn light of the theory let's consider a few things which might support it: 1) early raids were often done on monasteries which were a) relatively defenseless and b) held booty in the form of gold/silver/whatnot. Would they have been though to be strategically "expendable" for the empire?2) eventually, I believe that regular payments (danegeld) were made to the Vikings in lieu of putting up a fight. Would this have been permitted to instill fear by the Carolingian rulers in the Frankish population without bringing destruction on property/people of the Empire?3) the raids supposedly started and ended (~9th-11th centuries) without much explanation. Could these dates be explained by a shift in Frankish political strategy that no longer welcomed Viking "help" to control the population?Of course, I'm just throwing things out there, and some of what I said might be easily refutable.October 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm #13351
On #3 – could it be because the Vikings eventually decided it's better to just keep the peace and settle?October 5, 2008 at 7:29 pm #13352
On #3 – could it be because the Vikings eventually decided it's better to just keep the peace and settle?
I suppose it could be, but if we approach history from an historical "cause and effect" progression, it would still invite us to ask what led to such a decision. In other words, something would have led to such a decision. Otherwise it would seem strange that such a significant lifestyle/cultural change would be made.An explanation as to why the Viking raids stopped was also given in the lecture I watched. Eventually, Vikings settled in the coastal Normandy area of France but were eventually defeated by one of the Frankish kings. As part of the surrender, the Vikings were allowed to remain in that area but had to become Christian and were required to defend the kingdom against other Viking raids. The Viking leader, whose Christianized name became "Robert", was also given a title (something like "count"). I think it was around this time Viking raids ceased.October 6, 2008 at 7:47 pm #13353
As to my initial post, I may have found the answer why the Franks didn't react more aggressively towards the Vikings, at least during the raids in the mid- to late-9th century. The Carolingian Empire was turning into a mess after Charlemagne's death and after his son, Louis the Pious, enacted his Ordinatio imperii. This created internal tiffs among Louis' children, Lothar, Pepin, and Louis the German (and also Louis' child from another marriage, Charles the Bald). The domestic drama that ensued led to the imprisonment of Louis the Pious by his children on two separate occasions. I think this reached its high point starting around 830, around the time the Viking raids increased. After the death of Pepin in 838 and Louis the Pious in 840, the remaining brothers began battling it out among themselves and didn't resolve it until the Treaty of Verdun. This fragmented the once unified Frankish kingdom.So internal political distractions could very well have played a part. At least this is what I took from the most recent lecture I watched.October 7, 2008 at 11:11 pm #13354DonaldBakerParticipant
I would go with the infighting theory. The Vikings were allowed to take from expendable monasteries so that the Franks could concentrate on stabbing each other in the back. 🙂February 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm #13355
I'm thinking now that the Carolingian military may not have been the well-oiled machine we may otherwise think it was. It is possible that the army has successes due to sheer numbers rather than strategic or technological superiority. Although Charlemagne was able to make quick work or the Lombards in northern Italy, he did have some difficulty in conquering the Saxons to the northeast. Why couldn't the Saxons be defeated more easily? Going back to the Vikings - could they have proved to be too difficult an enemy? The Vikings seemed to be surprise attackers and seafaring masters of the day. Perhaps these strengths were without answer in the Carolingian arsenal. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard anything about a Carolingian navy, which may suggest it was a non-factor.February 25, 2009 at 8:25 am #13356scout1067Participant
The Vikings had a decisive edge over the Carolingian host because they had strategic mobility. They were not tied to the land as the local militias were. The very nature of the feudal host made responding to raids difficult. They also had the advantage of being able to pick their targets, which guaranteed them the initiative. The problem with fighting raiders is that the raided do not know where they will strike and this led them to try and defend everywhere which effectively meant they defended nowhere.One of the reasons Europe became so castellated was the Viking raids this unwittingly gave the defenders a defense in depth which is the only way to really combat a raiding strategy. The castles reduced the mobility of the raiders and allowed reaction forces time to respond to the threat. The defense in depth will not defeat raiders but it will keep their depredations to a minimum and make raids much less catastrophic.