For centuries, simply speaking of the word “Vikings” has caused panic among Europeans.Although they are renowned for their cruelty, these people were far more than a nation of persecutors.
The Vikings have created elaborate commercial routes and have settled in many of the territories they have conquered. They were sophisticated warriors and navigation experts, stirring the fascination of our contemporaries.
In this article, we present you five things about the Vikings, which will help you get into the culture of these fearsome warriors easier.
The fact that the Vikings were skilled in the art of navigation is well-known. In spite of the fact that they were using light and long vessels, which were easily diverted from the wind and currents, the Vikings managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean several times.
They have arrived to Iceland and Greenland, territories in which they have settled. Leif Eriksson also arrived in North America about 500 years before Christopher Columbus .
Unlike sailors in the middle ages , who often strolled along the shore to navigate, the Viking sailors sailed thousands of miles off the coast without heading for the dry line. Moreover, the Vikings often sailed to the Polar Circle.
Only in summer, when the Sun never sets, they could not rely on the stars to orient themselves. To know where the direction is going, the Vikings used some very sophisticated wooden solar dials.
On days when it was cloudy, they used some “magic crystals” (called “magical” because no one else understood how they were working) polarizing the light.
The Nordic legends speak of some “crazy” Viking warriors who burst into an access to uncontrollable rage and violence during the battles. A study published in the 1959 American Journal of Psychiatry published for the first time the “hallucinogenic hypothesis” about the source of this madness.
According to the authors, the violent behavior of those warriors was caused by drugs : more precisely, a hallucinogenic fungus, called Amanita muscaria (known in Romania under the popular name of Mushroom Sponge or Muscar ).
Due to the unfavorable conditions in the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Vikings attacked their southern neighbors. That’s why they are surrounded today by a bloody reputation.
However, the raids were not the most important thing in the Nordic culture. These ancient sailors have created a multitude of routes and commercial networks.
They distributed in Europe and Asia ivory pollen and polar bear skins from Greenland, silk and spices from Constantinople and amber in the Baltic region.
For most of their history, the Vikings were pagans and believed in a multitude of gods, including Odin, Thor, and Ferry goddess Freya. The gods of the Vikings lived in Asgard, a world connected by Earth through a rainbow bridge, called “bifrost”.
Prophecies in the Nordic mythology spoke of a battle of the end of the world called Ragnarok, which will kill the gods and cause a cataclysmic flood that will destroy the Earth.
Between the 8th and the 11th centuries, some of the Viking’s favorite targets were the medieval monasteries and churches, poorly defended and riches.
However, at the beginning of the 12th century, most Vikings had already converted to Christianity, so attacks of this kind gradually ceased.