A Brief History of the Vikings
by Jonathan Clements
Editor: Little, Brown Book Group
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From the wrath of the Vikings deliver us, O LordBetween the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings made a leap from their Scandinavian homeland to trade, raid and invade along the coasts of Europe.Their influence and extensive expeditions from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far away as Africa and the Arctic.But they were great sailors or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or extremely pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern European ones.This concise study puts medieval chronicles, northern sagas and Muslim accounts alongside the latest research in magic rituals, genetic profiling and climatology.It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe of Saint Olaf and King Canute to Lucky Leif.He explains why the Danish king Harald Bluetooth left his name to a wireless technology of the twenty-first century; what a future saint laughter as she buried the living foreign ambassadors; why so many Icelandic settlers had Irish names; and how the last Viking colony was destroyed by English looters.Extending beyond the traditional “Viking age” of most books, a brief history of the Vikings places sudden movement of the Scandinavian population in a broader historical context.It presents a balanced assessment of these infamous sea kings, explaining their rapid expansion so much its supposed halt.Supposed because, at the end of the day, the Vikings do not disappear: they have transformed into us.
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