The Scandinavian peninsula is almost 2,000 km deep in Europe. Long ago it was inhabited by the northern Germanic tribes, which in Western Europe were called Normans, that is, “people of the North”. Of these, Danes, Swedes and Norwegians separated, who later formed their states.
Most of the Scandinavian Peninsula was occupied by forests and mountains. The land is of little use for agriculture, therefore for the Scandinavians the sea was of great importance, and their main occupations were navigation, fishing, cattle breeding and hunting.
Scandinavians knew seafaring from time immemorial. They have studied the sea routes well, and skilfully moved along the coasts with narrow and winding bays – fjords. Normans were fine shipbuilders, and their ships were then
The Normans themselves proudly called their ships “the horses of the sea”. The nose of the ship was decorated with a dragon or a snake cut from a tree. According to beliefs, this gave the ship a magical power, protected it from evil spirits and frightened off enemies. When the Normans pestered the shore and pulled the ship to dry land, the head of the beast was taken off so as not to anger the local gods. The inhabitants of the North gave names to the ships, treasured them and protected them. As there were no nautical charts, the Normans found their way through the sun and the stars, the shoreline.
At the dawn of the Middle Ages, the Normans lived in tribes, each headed by the Yarl, or by Konung the military leader, who had a well-armed squad. Every soldier gave him an oath of loyalty.
At the end of the VIII century. In Scandinavia there were no more than 2 million inhabitants.