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Friday, April 23, 2021

How different were Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Vikings?

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Today we refer to Viking Age Scandinavians generally as Vikings as though they were one group. But the people known as Vikings weren’t an entirely homogeneous mass of people.

There were Norwegian Vikings, Danish Vikings, and Swedish Vikings (We won’t have a separate category for the Icelanders since they were originally Norwegian, after all, and didn’t really go Viking like their counterparts eastward did, they also developed a more settled society.

There are issues which makes this claim really difficult to dispute over.

Firstly, documentation of the early Viking raids did not have many sources.

There are little to none written sources showing the early raids of the Vikings from these regions.

Secondly, the Vikings were not divided into states so it would be harder to identify where each tribe orginated from exactly.

The tribes and earldoms were in constant conflict which made it hard to follow who owned and occupied who.

We know that they spoke the same language, however, there would’ve been some change due to geography. For example; the mountains between Norway and Sweden and water between the Nordic countries and Denmark.

It is safe to conclude the Vikings had a prominant culture which was regionally divided.

Types of Vikings

Danish Vikings

The Danish Vikings, also known as Danes, were the most politically organized of the different types of Vikings.

This is why Danish kings played a greater role in Viking invasions long before Norwegian/Swedish Vikings.

The Danes were the strongest of the Norsemen both in political and military power.

They were also the first of the three to convert to Christianity (almost entirely by the end of 9th century).

The Danish Vikings wanted to discover and pillage the West.

Their focus was put on France, England, and the Mediterranean parts of the world.

The Danes were the original “Vikings”.

The bulk of the raids came from Denmark, Southern Norway and Sweden (the areas around the Kattegat and Skagerakk sea areas).

Norwegian Vikings

The Norwegian Vikings were utterly crazed warriors.

Almost all Vikings who used axes in combat were from the Norwegian part, as far as the archeological evidence allows.

The Norwegians were the best boat builders and sailors.

The Norwegians remained pagan for a while, not so long as the Swedes, but still respectably so.

The Norwegians are said to be arguably the bravest of the three types of Vikings.

They were the most pioneering and adventurous; sailing to Iceland, Greenland, and America.

Swedish Vikings

The Swedes, then known as Varangians, or Rus stayed true to their pagan ways for the longest out of the three (until early 12th century).

They ventured to discover and pillage new lands in the east along the Volga and Dnieper rivers.

Their expeditions, however, were of a different sort than the Danes and Norwegians in the West.

They were excellent explorers and tradesmen, but simply not as violent as the other types of Vikings (in relative terms, of course, they terrorized many primitives along the Baltic).

The goal of the Rus was primarily to trade (or so we think). They established long trade routes to the middle east and around the Black Sea.

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