Tuesday, October 09, 2012


The Vikings sailed most of theNorth Atlantic , reaching south to North África and east torussia , and themiddle east, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries. Vikings underLeif Ericsson , heir toErik the Red , reached North America , and set up a short lived settlement in present-day Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada The motives driving the Viking expansion form a topic of much debate in Nordic history. One common theory posits that the Norse population had outgrown agricultural potential of their Scandinavian homeland. For a coastal population with superior naval technologies, it made sense to expand overseas in the face of a youth bulge effect. However, this theory does little to explain why the expansion went overseas rather than into the vast, uncultivated forest areas on the interior of theScandinavian peninsula . It should be noted that sea raiding was easier than clearing large areas of forest for farm and pasture in a region with a limited growing season. No such rise in population or decline in agricultural production has been definitively proven.
England suffered from internal divisions, and was relatively easy prey given the proximity of many towns to the sea or navigable rivers. Lack of organized naval opposition throughout Western Europe allowed Viking ships to travel freely, raiding or trading as opportunity permitted.
The decline in the profitability of old trade routes could also have played a role. Trade between western Europe and the rest of Eurasia suffered a severe blow when the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century. The expansion of Islam in the 7th century had also affected trade with western Europe. Trade on theMediterranean Sea was historically at its lowest level when the Vikings initiated their expansion.. By opening new trade routes in Arabic and Frankish lands, the Vikings profited from international trade by expanding beyond their traditional boundaries
Following a period of thriving trade and Viking settlement, cultural impulses flowed from the rest of Europe to affect Viking dominance. Christianity had growing presence in Scandinavia , and with the rise of centralized authority and the development of more robust coastal defense systems, Viking raids became more risky and less profitable.
As the new quasi-feudalistic system became entrenched in Scandinavian rule, organized opposition sealed the Vikings' fate. Eleventh-century chronicles note Scandinavian attempts to combat the Vikings from the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, which eventually led to Danish and Swedish participation in the Baltic Crusades during the 12th and 13th centuries. It also contributed to the development of the Hanseatic League .One of the primary profit centers of Viking trade wasslavery . TheChurch took a position that Christians should not own fellow Christians as slaves, so chattel slavery diminished as a practice throughout Northern Europe. Eventually, outright slavery was outlawed, replaced with serfdom at the bottom rung of Medieval society. This took much of the economic incentive out of raiding, though sporadic activity continued for a few decades beyond the Norman conquest of England.

Thank you Tobito for your contribution