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2. Erik the Red: Founded Greenland’s First Norse Settlement

Changes occurred not only in the Norse societies, but also throughout Europe where the raids took place.


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At the beginning of the Viking age, Norse society tended to be egalitarian, with a large number of free, land-owning farmers who had the necessary means and time to engage in raiding. A ship, required for raiding, was a substantial investment, and one couldn't leave one's farm unless there were enough hired hands available to take care of the farm chores while the owner was out raiding.

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By the end of the Viking age, this balance had changed. There were a small number of privileged, wealthy men, and a much larger number of landless men who were tied to the land they worked in order to pay their rents and fees, while supporting their families. These people were not available to go raiding. At the beginning of the Viking age, many European lands had no central authority figures.

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Instead, petty kings and local chieftains were the rule in most lands. At the beginning of the Viking age, the Norse societies tended to avoid central authority. A story from the Frankish annals illustrates this aspect of the Viking culture. When a band of Danish raiders arrived in Frankish lands, they were met by a Frankish emissary, who asked to be taken to the leader of the Viking band.

He was told, "We are all leaders here.

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By the end of the Viking age, most European lands had strong central authorities, including trained, standing armies capable of mounting effective defenses against Viking attacks. Generally, the Vikings were not trained, organized troops.

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While skilled at arms, their shock tactics were ineffective against trained, professional soldiers supported by the king. Another change that occurred as a result of the Viking attacks was that some of the more desirable targets were fortified or modified, making them less susceptible to Viking raids.


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Monasteries built easily defendable towers, where valuables and people could be moved quickly in the event of a raid. Some monasteries were moved inland, away from the reach of ship-based Vikings.

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The island monastery at Iona was raided three times by Vikings, in the years , , and Beginning in the year , the monastery was moved about 20 miles 35km inland for safety. The Christian church arrived in the Viking lands at the end of the Viking age. The Viking raids were not in keeping with some of the tenets of the Christian church, so it is not a surprise that the arrival of the church and the decline of raiding are closely tied.

The Viking age ended when the raids stopped. The year is frequently used as a convenient marker for the end of the Viking age.

It was the last major Viking incursion into Europe. He found a crack in the aging wood of the floorboards and thrust his spear up through the hole, where the Viking bridge defender continued to stand his ground.

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Suits of mail in those days were skirt-like, extending down to the thigh or knee, and so this peculiar strike bypassed the Viking's armor entirely. He was impaled in the groin by the surprise attack, and crumpled to the ground. The English army continued across the bridge, after having lost an estimated 40 warriors to the single defender. The delay provided Hardrada and Tostig enough time to form his men into a shieldwall, but the power of the English army overwhelmed their position. English soldiers killed Hardrada and Tostig along with thousands of their warriors.

Godwinson spared the life of Hardrada's son Olaf, returning him to Norway to report the defeat. The English had killed so many Vikings that only 24 of the original ships were needed to ferry the survivors back to their homeland. The massive Norse war machine had been smashed, and the Viking Age was effectively over in England.

The third pretender to the throne moved against southern England, and so Godwinson once again called on his Saxon army to march at a dangerously rapid pace. Giles, Oxford College, Image of the Viking warrior is from an unknown artist, but appeared in the Osprey Publishing book Warrior 3: Viking Hersir Nuggets Archive. April 11, The Middle Ages. A Viking warrior typical of the time. The English army continued across the bridge, after having lost an estimated 40 warriors to the single defender The delay provided Hardrada and Tostig enough time to form his men into a shieldwall, but the power of the English army overwhelmed their position.