23 April 2008

Thursday 13: Causes of the Viking Age

By Michelle Styles

The Vikings gave their name to an entire age--generally held to be between 793 AD and 1066 AD. But what were the causes and why did they suddenly burst on the world stage?

1. Environment: the Scandinavian land mass has little arable land, but lots of waterways, and trees.

2. A growing population

3. Land hunger: this is thought to be a secondary cause as the initial Viking activity was raids rather than land settlement.

4. Advent of sea worthy ships: there was great technological innovation just prior to the Viking age, in particular in large scale serpent or dragon boats.

5. Lack of food self-sufficiency

6. Climate change

7. Desire for trade: the Vikings needed other goods

8. Desire for plunder and quick wealth

9. Relatively poor sea defences, particularly in Britain.

10. The Anglo-Saxon Christians could not conceive anyone attacking a church.

11. Changes in the social structure: a consolidation of power among fewer and fewer of the Scando elite, leading to dissatisfied royal exiles who thirsted for a way to return to power.

12. The warrior culture which rewarded wealth acquired through conquest

13. A desire for adventure