Chronicles of the Vikings: Records,Memorials,and Myths / Edition 1

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The Vikings are not known for their literate legacy. Little of what they once inscribed in runes on wood, bone, and stone has survived. However these runic inscriptions are a valuable primary source of information on the Viking Age. They alow us to see the Vikings from their own point of view, unlike the records of prejudiced observers who saw the Vikings only as savage invaders. Chronicles of the Vikings attempts to show the Vikings through their own writings: runic inscriptions left behind, poems of their official skalds, literary works that entertained them, the few prose historical accounts that derive direct from Vikings, and eyewitness reports of how the northern peoples lived.

Chronicles of the Vikings defines the social values of the Viking Age, their heroic view of life which sometimes contrasts with their more prosaic way of looking at things. It looks at the problems they encountered in discovering, populating, and cultivating new lands, the difficulties of keeping law and order and the solutions they tried. We discover how they coped with famine and other natural disasters, travel and its perils, something of their popular culture, proverbs and aphorisms, and their sometimes irreverent approach to their gods and goddesses, the supernatural, magic and charms. Both at home and overseas, the Vikings live in this book.

To understand the primary sources it is essential to have some idea of how they came into being and how they were preserved. In his extensive introduction, R.I. Page discusses the problems involved in using writings of this sort and looks at the information that is preserved solely in these primary sources.

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Editorial Reviews

Tim Clarkson

'I would recommend this book as a worthwhile addition to any medievalist's bookshelf, whether it be as a pedagogic or research tool or as a purely recreational tome. My only quibble is a minor one: the title might at first glance seem somewhat misleading to scholars, for this is by no means a collection of dry "chronicles" but a vivid anthology of writings from one of the most maligned groups in European history.'

Lesley Abrams

'... a wealth of riches on the Viking Age and a view of that time and people which depends on a fine historical assessment of the evidence that survives. His very accessible survey of available sources and his exposition of the ways they should be used are masterful and pointed.'

Page (Anglo-Saxon, U. of Cambridge and U. of Nottingham) lets the Vikings speak for themselves with new translations from primary sources such as runic inscriptions, poems by official skalds, literary works, the few prose historical accounts not by their enemies, and eyewitness accounts of how they lived. Chapters examine their homelands and peoples, settlements and land holding, heroic and unheroic lives, law, myth and religion, and other aspects. Canadian card order number: C95-931684-1. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802071651
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,022,337
  • Product dimensions: 6.71 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

R. I. Page is Emeritus Elrington and Bosworth Prrofessor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, and a noted authority on Norse literature. He is the author of Runes and Norse Myths.
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Table of Contents

Preface 6
l Getting to know the Vikings 9
2 The Viking homelands and their peoples 40
3 Settlement and land-holding 58
4 Vikings outside Scandinavia 77
5 The heroic life 105
6 The unheroic life 139
7 All sorts and conditions of men 150
8 Law 173
9 Myth, religion and superstition 182
10 The conversion to Christianity 222
Lists of texts quoted 232
Index 236
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