In the early Middle Ages, when most of Central and Western Europe was dominated by the Frankish Empire and the Near East, North Africa and the Spanish Peninsula were held by the Byzantine Empire, a small group spread fear and terror throughout the coastline: the Vikings.
The first raids began at the end of the eighth century. The first dated robbery occurred on June 8, 793 on the island of Lindisfarne off the English coast today. There, the Vikings attacked the monastery there, stole it and slaughtered the priests. However, this was only the beginning of a long series of raids, especially in the early days monasteries and churches met, as they already had considerable treasures in the early Middle Ages and thus represented a worthwhile goal.
From Denmark, the Vikings first headed for the English coast, while Norwegian Vikings raided the northern English Orkney and Shetland islands before moving on to Ireland and Iceland.
Their surprising and rapid attacks were made possible by the use of their dragon boats. These were designed with their sleek hull for speed to go unseen to the shores at dusk.
In Dublin as well as in northern France, bases were gradually created from where the Vikings could move on or overwinter. In the 9th century, the raids were also conducted along the coast of western France, western Spain to the Canary Islands and northern Morocco. Meanwhile, from Sweden, the Vikings moved east to today's Russia, where they even reached Constantinople in 839.
But not only as a warrior made the Vikings at the time a name, even as a business partner or later mercenary they earned. Especially with the Byzantine Empire prospered a trade in rare materials or slaves, which made the Vikings on their raids across today's Russia. Thus, e.g. from the Greek word sklabos (Slavic) the later, until today common word "slave".
Also well-known from this period is the Byzantine elite unit of the "Varangian Guard", which consisted almost entirely of Viking mercenaries.
At the end of the 10th century, the isolated Viking tribes allied themselves to larger armies. Thus, in 991 a Viking army entered the southeastern coast of England at Folkstone and penetrated deep into the English countryside, where at Maldon in Essex the Anglo-Saxon militia was destroyed and only after receiving a handsome ransom money left the country.
The union of the individual tribes led to the end of the 10th century also to Olaf Tryggvasson Norway proclaimed a kingdom. At the beginning of the 11th century, he was succeeded by Knut the Great, who combined Norway, Denmark and England to form a Nordic empire.
Already at that time there were hardly any raids by the Vikings. From plunderers, the Vikings became businessmen or settled in conquered territories. For example, in Northern France, where the Vikings settled, gradually adopted the language, culture and beliefs of the people already living there. These Vikings were called Normans and even then played a major role in Europe. For example, The Norman Normandy (the Conqueror), with Normandy (the Conqueror), succeeded in enforcing his claim to the throne of England in 1066 with 700 ships. In the decisive battle on October 14, 1066 William defeated the British troops with a deception and the slaughter of his counterpart Harold and thus gained control of England.
A similar example occurred in southern Italy, when the Norman army first supported the Byzantine Empire in the liberation of their possessions from Arabs, but subsequently wrested them from the Byzantines themselves and prevailed against the Roman courtier Robert Guiscard in power struggles and in Sicily and southern Italy his own empire created.
You can find the right literature here:
The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings
In AD 793 Norse warriors struck the English isle of Lindisfarne and laid waste to it. Wave after wave of Norse ‘sea-wolves’ followed in search of plunder, land, or a glorious death in battle. Much of the British Isles fell before their swords, and the continental capitals of Paris and Aachen were sacked in turn. Turning east, they swept down the uncharted rivers of central Europe, captured Kiev and clashed with mighty Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
But there is more to the Viking story than brute force. They were makers of law - the term itself comes from an Old Norse word - and they introduced a novel form of trial by jury to England. They were also sophisticated merchants and explorers who settled Iceland, founded Dublin, and established a trading network that stretched from Baghdad to the coast of North America.
In The Sea Wolves, Lars Brownworth brings to life this extraordinary Norse world of epic poets, heroes, and travellers through the stories of the great Viking figures. Among others, Leif the Lucky who discovered a new world, Ragnar Lodbrok the scourge of France, Eric Bloodaxe who ruled in York, and the crafty Harald Hardrada illuminate the saga of the Viking age - a time which “has passed away, and grown dark under the cover of night”.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings (Hist Atlas)
Viking marauders in their longships burst through the defences of ninth-century Europe, striking terror into the hearts of peasants and rulers alike for two centuries. But the Vikings were more than just marine warriors and this atlas shows their development as traders and craftsmen, explorers, settlers and mercenaries. With over sixty full colour maps, it follows the tracks of the Viking merchants who travelled deep into Russia, of Viking mercenaries who served in the emperor’s bodyguard at Constantinople, and Viking mariners who sailed beyond the edge of the known world to North America.
The Age of the Vikings
The Vikings maintain their grip on our imagination, but their image is too often distorted by myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships to explore. The Age of the Vikings tells the full story of this exciting period in history. Drawing on a wealth of written, visual, and archaeological evidence, Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage. He not only explains the Viking attacks, but also looks at Viking endeavors in commerce, politics, discovery, and colonization, and reveals how Viking arts, literature, and religious thought evolved in ways unequaled in the rest of Europe. The Age of the Vikings sheds new light on the complex society, culture, and legacy of these legendary seafarers.
The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion
The Viking Spirit is an introduction to Norse mythology like no other. As you’d expect from Daniel McCoy, the creator of the enduringly popular website Norse Mythology for Smart People, it’s written to scholarly standards, but in a simple, clear, and entertaining style that’s easy to understand and a pleasure to read. It includes gripping retellings of no less than 34 epic Norse myths – more than any other book in the field – while also providing an equally comprehensive overview of the fascinating Viking religion of which Norse mythology was a part. You’ll learn about the Vikings’ gods and goddesses, their concept of fate, their views on the afterlife, their moral code, how they thought the universe was structured, how they practiced their religion, the role that magic played in their lives, and much more. With its inclusion of the latest groundbreaking research in the field, The Viking Spirit is the ultimate introduction to the timeless splendor of Norse mythology and religion for the 21st Century.