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The Vikings Civilization and Their Attitude to War

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Vikings was a civilisation originating in Scandinavia now known as four major countries; Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden during the 8th to 11th century. The Vikings did many things including go to war, farm and trade with other countries. Vikings were allegedly blood thirsty raiders who went to other lands just purely to raid and murder. However, through warfare, the Vikings demonstrated that not all they did was raid. Vikings warfare strategy, weapons and armour proved that Vikings were a people that made a significant impact on the world.

Certain laws were in place to stop the Vikings from viciously murdering the people they triumphed, and this proves that they are not blood-seeking raiders. After the Vikings raided and pillaged, they often would’ve kept people that they raided from to sell as slaves or to use them for themselves. Warfare proved that not all the Vikings did was raid. William R Short says that “Another form of valuable taken in raids were people, to be sold as slaves” which shows that because they raided and had laws, they had to show mercy to certain people, “Melkorka Mýrkjartansdóttir says she was taken as war booty when she was fifteen years old.” Short can be quoted from directly because of his use of primary sources using words directly from sagas. William Short believed that because the Vikings took slaves to sell and to use, that shows they did show mercy towards the people they raided and then not blood thirty raiders. Castella and Short both agree that even though they raided a lot and stole the Vikings would still be merciful towards people that they had pillaged from. As a result, the Vikings were humane and would not just brutally murder they people they took from.

The Vikings were predominantly farmers that went to war and battle, looking for land to settle on and farm. Vikings raided for land, loot and for places to settle on, they did this because they had a growing population to feed and house. Battling and warring shows that not all the Vikings used raiding for was just for the blood. Tom De Castella says that “The Vikings stole everything they could, like cattle, money and food” this proves that they also would’ve taken land to farm. Castella can be trusted to directly quote because of job at BBC. Tom thinks that even though they raided and stole that they also would’ve taken land. Tom and William both concluded that because they raided and stole, they took land to settle on and farm for their people. Because of this it can be shown that they went to war and battle for the common good of their people.

The Vikings had a belief system that they thought if they fought well in battle they would go to Valhalla, and that battling was a duty to god. Valhalla was the hall of Odin that the Vikings believed that they would go to if they died in battle. The Vikings believed that when they fought the Vikings could go to Valhalla if Odin and the Valkyries deemed them worthy. After the Vikings died, they would’ve been happy because they believed going to battle or war was a duty to their gods. Warfare proves that because they died after battling, they could go to their version of heaven. Daniel McCoy says, “According to Snorri, those who die in battle are taken to Valhalla, while those who die of sickness or old age find themselves in Hel, the underworld, after their departure from the land of the living”. This shows that going to battle was there duty to Odin. Because of this the Vikings would’ve been blindsided when they died purely believing that they would’ve gone to Valhalla if they were good enough at fighting.

To conclude, the Vikings believed that going to war and battle was there one entrance to Valhalla and that if they went to war, they could feed their people. The other reason is because they had laws in-place they couldn’t kill people they’d have to show mercy to their slaves. This proves that the Vikings weren’t just blood-thirsty raiders, but they were actually a humane race of people. The Vikings were controversial people that many people still don’t know to much about and how they weren’t just ruthless, blatant killers.   

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