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