Pillage! Plunder! For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge!
We all know about the Vikings.
And what we all know is, their defense sucks, they have no offensive line, their quarterback can't pass gas, and the coach needs.....um....oops.
Wrong Vikings. Sorry.
Vikings were the big burly men, (and women), who pillaged, plundered, and yes, even raped the lands of anyone unlucky enough to be seen by them.
They came from scandinavia, and were the terror of Europe and Russia for quite a few years.
We've all heard the stories of how they would attack a coastline, kill the men and take the women and children for slaves. All the wealth they could grab and all the food/trade items they could transport. They were basically pirates.
Except they weren't.
No, while there were viking raiders, the majority of vikings were actually peaceful. They conducted mostly trade with Europe and Russia. There's evidence of their goods making it to China.
And, we all know they were in North America long before Columbus.
The real vikings are a race of people we are trying to place in the realm of mythology. The stories are more exciting than reality.
In real life, Hagar the Horrible would have been named that because of his smell, not because he invaded a different country every month. (ok, not really. Vikings were actually very clean for their time. They bathed frequently and practiced personal hygiene regularly. I guess spending winters huddled together makes you not want to smell. )
And, everyone by now knows vikings never had horns on their helmets. No warrior did. Not on their battle helmet, at least. Maybe for some ceremony, maybe, but not actual combat. Horns prevent a sword of axe from just sliding off your head. It transfers all that energy to your brain cage, and if you don't die, you become human jello.
One thing we do know is, vikings were excellent sea men. Their longboats took them from Norway to Iceland, to Greenland and then to Newfoundland. There is evidence that they may have made it as far south as Maine or even New Hampshire.
And, if you believe a farmer in Minnesota, they went there too. There are doubts about the authenticity of the Kensington Rune Stone, though.
Stone markings have been found in New York and Pennsylvania that could be from vikings. Experts can't agree if they are 100 years old or 1,000 years old.
Way back in the 800's, the Slavic people that ruled the city-states in modern day Russia were tired of Celts from Britain invading. They asked a group of vikings to protect them. While they actually preferred trade and farming to war, they were good fighters.
Well, they did a good job. Such a good job that, one viking named Rurik became Grand Duke over all the territory. Since Rurik ruled the land, the land became known as Rus, and it's people.....Russians. This line of vikings ruled in Russia until 1548 when the second son of Ivan the Terrible died childless. (Ivan had previously killed his first son in a fit of irritation. He intended to slap him, but hit a little too hard. The son died.)
Over to the west, due to rising expenses, the vikings had to abandon their settlements in Newfoundland. The ones in Greenland may have been abandoned, died off from disease, or been weakened by fighting with the Inuit. For whatever reason, they left.
And, while they once ruled almost all the British Isles, they were either overthrown, assimilated or just left.
One of the places in Europe where they really left their mark, though, was the northern coast of France. Vikings, or Norse Men, invaded France regularly. Eventually, some stayed. They built farms, married local women and settled down.
Eventually the king of France made a deal with them. If they would protect the coast from future raids, he would give them their lands and throw in titles. It was too good a deal to pass up for these norse men, or normans. To this day, many of the long time inhabitants of the Normandy coast are descended from vikings.
Personally, an uncle on my mothers side traced my maternal heritage back as far as they could. It's actually fun to read the book. I'm descended from Erik The Red, and I'm something like 16th cousins to the current king of Norway. My direct ancestors at one timed claimed the crowns of England and Ireland.
*note* That's not so special. Most people of scandinavian heritage can say exactly the same thing. And you can claim relationships to all the major figured of your heritage. Considering everyone in the world is related on some level...that's what happens when you start off with such a small gene pool.
Anyway, a lot of what people think they know about vikings isn't actually how the vikings were.
And, no matter what you see Crazy Eddie wearing, vikings did not use funnels as helmets either.
*disclaimer* if todays oddities post seems....weak and disjointed, well....I'm tired and if I didn't write this Monday night when I should really be in bed, I wouldn't have had one for today. I generally write my weeks posts on the weekend, but was too busy this weekend to do more than two. I'll try to do better tomorrow.