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A Brief History of the Vikings: The Last Pagans or the First Modern Europeans?

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Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Scandinavian homeland to trade and raid along the coasts of Europe. Their influence extended from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans? This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual ...

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Overview

Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Scandinavian homeland to trade and raid along the coasts of Europe. Their influence extended from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans? This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual magic, genetic profiling and climatology. It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe to Saint Olaf, from King Canute to Leif the Lucky. Extending beyond the traditional ‘Viking age' of most books, A Brief History of the Vikings also places sudden Scandinavian population movements in a wider historical context. It presents a balanced appraisal of these infamous sea kings, explaining both their swift expansion and its supposed halt. Supposed because the Vikings never really went away. Instead, posits Clements, they became a part of who we are today.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786715992
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/10/2005
  • Series: Brief History of Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Clements is the author, co-author or translator of over thirty books, including Pirate King, The Moon in the Pines and Confucius. He divides his time between Finland and England.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The fury of the Northmen

    A fairly good overview of the Viking period of Scandinavian history. The book mainly follows the exploits of the Viking kings, from Harald Fairhair through such later leaders as Hakon the Good, Olav Trygvasson and St. Olav ("the Stout"), Svein Forkbeard and his descendents, and finaly Harald the Ruthless; although it does cover other elements of Viking culture, such as settlement in the Shetlands and Orkneys and Ireland, the founding of Russia, and the exploration of Iceland, Greenland and Vinland (the earliest European name for North America). The drawback of this book is the main drawback of most history books: it concentrates on wars, conflicts, explorations, etc., but gives very little attention to the human contexts of these things -- that is, the historical cultures against which these episodes played out. This is, to an extent, understandable here, as Vikings were specifically the criminal and pirate element of Scandanavian society, and so a history of Vikings proper would not do more than touch on these aspects. But it is still regretable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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