Attacks of Scandinavians continued intermittently from the end of the VIII century. and until the second half of the 11th century. In France, the “northern people” were known under the name of the Normans, in England they were called the Danes, in Byzantium – varangas, in Russia – by the Varangians. In the Scandinavian warriors who went to other countries, they called Vikings. The word “Viking” comes from the ancient Scandinavian word “Vic”, which means “bay”, “bay”, that is, the place where the participants of the campaigns were based.
In 793, Vikings on their ships pestered to the east coast of England, robbed and burned the monastery there. Thus began almost three hundred years of the Norman campaigns, which
Seeing the ships with the heads of dragons and snakes on the nose that rushed under red or striped sails, the frightened residents of the coastal territories ran and hid in the nearby forests with house belongings and cattle. Those who did not have time to do it, perished or were taken prisoner. Together with the stolen good, they were loaded onto ships and transported to Scandinavia. Everything that they could not take with them, the Vikings destroyed: the cattle were killed, the houses were burned.
Among the Vikings, the most brutal in battle were warriors-beasts, the so-called Berserkers, which in translation means “like a bear”. In addition to warriors-bears, there were wolf warriors. Perhaps these are different names of the same warriors – many berserks had the nickname Wolf or Bear. During the attack, they seemed to reincarnate in predators. Berserks refused to protect their equipment and defense weapons. Ancient legends tell how the warriors went into battle without mail, covered with madness, seemingly mad dogs and wolves. It is believed that berserkers chewed poisonous
Attempts to resist the Vikings were first unsuccessful. Shocked residents of countries, which were constantly attacked by the Vikings, for a long time remained defenseless before this threat and saw in it God’s punishment for sins. This was confirmed by prayer, which first sounded in 888 and was introduced into all church and monastery services: “… and from the fierceness of the Normans guard us, Lord!”
From the second half of the 9th c. The Norman raids take on new forms. Vikings are becoming increasingly independent of their settlements in Scandinavia and do not return there for the winter. Instead, they begin to build fortifications in the coastal regions of England and France and use them as bases for prolonged predatory campaigns and land grabbing.
One of the Norman strongholds was at the mouth of the River Seine. It was from there that the Danish Vikings periodically attacked and ravaged the defenseless cities of Northern France and even four times sieged Paris. The raids of the Scandinavians were terrorized by the population of Germany, Spain and Italy.
European rulers were forced to collect from their subjects and pay the Normans as a compensation considerable sums. This type of tax began to be called “Danish money”. Sometimes when paying tribute to the leaders of the Vikings, an agreement was concluded, according to which they supposedly pledged to protect the population from other Scandinavians. However, all these measures were unsuccessful and the raids continued.
In the early X century. The Vikings captured part of the territory of Northern France. Overlapped by Earl Rollon. In 911, the French King Charles III, Rustic in exchange for peace, gave him these lands in his possession. So there was actually an independent duchy of Normandy.
However, the Vikings’ campaigns had not only an aggressive character. The Norwegian Vikings discovered and colonized Iceland and Greenland. At the turn of the X-XI centuries. Leif Happy reached the shores of North America and gave it the name “Vinland”. However, there the Normans failed to gain a foothold, so the way to America was permanently forgotten. Only 500 years later, Christopher Columbus once again discovered America for Europeans.
Vikings also attacked Eastern Europe. In this direction, the Swedes, known in Russia as the Varangians, predominantly acted. They took part in trade and predatory campaigns to the White Sea and the Northern Baltic, reached the Volga and the shores of the Caspian Sea. Here the Swedes traded with Arab merchants. Dnepr they swam into the Black Sea and traveled to Constantinople. This was the way “from the Varangians to the Greeks”, mentioned in the Old Russian annals.
At the beginning of the XI century. The attacks of the Vikings went into decline, and in the second half of the century ceased.
As a result of the Varangian campaigns, Scandinavia’s close political, commercial and cultural ties with Kievan Rus were established. Yaroslav the Wise and other princes willingly granted shelter to exiles – Scandinavian kings and princes. In Novgorod in the late X century. lived Norwegian king-Viking Ulv Tryggvason.
In Kiev, the hospitable refuge of Norway’s Bird Olav the Sacred has found. In Russia his son and heir Magnus Dobry has also grown up. At the court of Prince Yaroslav, the Norwegian king-viking Harald Surovy lived for a while. He even married the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise Elizabeth. After the death of Harald, Elizabeth Yaroslavna married Danish King Sven Estridsen. Yaroslav the Wise himself was married to Ingigerd, the daughter of Swedish king Ulag Scottonung. The grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, the great Prince of Kiev Mstislav I Vladimirovich, married a Swedish princess.