Big Era 793-1050 AD
In the middle: Harald Bluetooth 911-980 AD
Why the Viking Violence At That Particular Time;
And Against Christians mostly
Harald. We thought we knew you.
Did those events help trigger the 250 years of Viking raids. Similarly, did an ancient Roman defeat at Varusschlacht back in 9 AD, its disciplined legions slaughtered by Germanic tribes, echo in a fear of the Germanic tribe's fervor, that Rome's successor, the Roman Church militant, had to quash at all costs. Was Charlemagne driven, with the Pope's armies in tow, to overkill. Or is Sachsenhain a legend? Charlemagne's court biographers are mum.
To what degree does history trigger later responses against a group that sees itself as attacked.
Does racial memory carry meaning. See the New York Times. Parcels containing bombs in printer cartridges were addressed to persons with historical names from the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition, see ://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/world/02terror.html; and A-6, the NYT 11/3/2010.
- Diego Deza, Inquisitor. See Deza's portrait and bio at ://www.nortonsimon.org/collections/browse_title.php?id=F.1970.06.1.P/ ; and
- "Reynald Krak", who is Reynald of Chatillon 1125-1187? Young. Brutal. Treacherous. And executed. (or Reynald de Chatillon, Chatillon in northwest France). Krak is an old city in Jordan, with a fortress dating back to the Crusades. Reynald took the throne in Christian Palestine when it became vacant and broke an important truce with Saladin, and is seen (it looks justified) as cruel and deceitful, see ://www.lpj.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=743%3Akarak-parish&catid=89%3Aparoisses-en-jordanie-&Itemid=116&lang=fr/
Find Harald Bluetooth's mark at://www.fortidensjelling.dk/jellinge5.htm; more at ://www.cphpost.dk/culture/culture/122-culture/49329-archaeologists-uncover-harald-bluetooths-royal-palace.html
Harald Bluetooth. Perhaps entombed in thise Cathedral column. A mid-era Viking. Was he a leader with engineering skills, and foresight, and a wise man.
If the Viking Era dates from the attack on Lindisfarne monastery in 793 (not all agree), and extends to the Battle of Hastings 1066, then we are looking at a relatively brief period of time - say 250 years at most - of relatively unbridled raiding and slaving and Christian-killing. In that time, Harald Bluetooth stands as a measured, wise ruler, respectful of old ways, but willing to embrace the new, at least for a while.
We offer here a Violence Test. First, meet Harald to get an idea of the extensive culture of the Scandinavians. Then see their violence in 250 years, in the context of a long timeline, blending many available timelines, to see if the West and its attitude and actions against others is a smoking gun over millenia. Go.
Now moved, because of length, to Studying War: Western Ethnic Violence Timeline
Did Bluetooth mean a dead incisor, for example, as my husband used to have (Jon Bluetooth), or is it from Blatand, meaning dark-skinned, and great man. See ://www.cs.utk.edu/~dasgupta/bluetooth/history.htm/ There are accounts of the Danes being dark, and Norwegians and Swedes light. DNA shows some odd migratory patterns, another tale. More on Bluetooth: at ://www.fortidensjelling.dk/jellinge5.htm/
For a short period, he also ruled a very limited part of Norway. Find a biography at ://www.palowireless.com/bluearticles/picoking.aspVikings/. We think of mindless violence, raids, slaughters, maces, battle axes, no mercy, grab the loot, the slaves, then back in the longboats to some safe fjord in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, laughing all the way with merry sagas throughout the long winter, and then Repeat. Is that so? We suggest here that you meet a real Viking, and explore his time's setting. He was ruler about 140 years after the first really ferocious raid of Vikings on British Isle monasteries (attack on Lindisfarne in 793 AD); and by his time, Viking advances included settlements, and more methodical attacks as part of invasions. The Northmen (Normans) ultimately invaded England and prevailed at Hastings in 1066.
Military matters: For defense against the Christian armies, as well as some against fellow Vikings from Norway, he built large and precisely placed trelleborgs, ring forts, in Denmark and Sweden.
He built a large bridge at Velje, DK, anticipating Otto's success in moving north into Denmark. Against Otto and competing Vikings, he was an excellent military strategist, a precise builder, and oversaw engineering feats (bridges, forts) for defense against Germans and other Viking groups.
Civil matters: He built vast burial mounds at Jelling, one later found empty and perhaps constructed for himself; another for his father, Gorm the Old; and set vast Rune Stones to glorify the memory of his father and mother, and his own feats. When he converted after pressure from HRE Otto II from Germany pressing north, he also built a church later at that same site, and moved the remains of his father beneath the church. Another Rune stone, apparently raised by an earlier Wife and at a site a small distance away, has been moved to the church site as well.
He joined in the Viking invasions of France, and their settlement in Normandy (this colonization, a result of the French King buying off the Vikings, to keep them from sacking Paris and other sites further) leading to the Norman invasion of England at Hastings 1066). Harald Bluetooth: an "enlightened" Viking participated in the Normandy establishment. Then focused on defending against the Holy Roman Emperor Otto, beating at the borders of Denmark.
Harald in Normandy: This may be an error in identification, someone else being at Bayeux: See ://books.google.com/books?id=d-XiZO8V4qUC&pg=PA435&lpg=PA435&dq=Harald+Bluetooth+Normandy&source=bl&ots=btReyj8VMx&sig=Uja9DaMUoPfVIy1QnaI7P7kf3Xo&hl=en&ei=l7DQTJ_VI4vknQenwN2NBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Harald%20Bluetooth%20Normandy&f=false/ Someone else, please research.
We continue to ask: Was there more to the ferocity of the Roman Church and its military leaders against the Saxons than we think; and did that lead to the Viking response back. Its neighbors, the Saxons, long broken up, some earlier to the British Isles, but those remaining virtually decimated by slaughter and forced migrations.
fostered to promote Christianity and belittle Scandinavian culture
My assumption had been that the Vikings were a wild bunch of raiders, slaughtering all in their path for fathomless reasons except the lucre they stole, and love of bloodshed. We had seen several in the series of ring forts, or "trelleborgs" he caused to be constructed; see Sweden Road Ways, Viking Culture, Trelleborgs, and Harald ; and read of the 1/2 mile long Ravning Bridge near Velje, Denmark, 979 AD, that was 18 feet wide, to enable a north-south access route as part of defenses against Germans. See ://www.visitvejle.com/international/en-gb/menu/visitor/nature/vejle-aadal/produktside/gdk019491/the-ravning-bridge-and-ravning-station.htm/.
Vikings could do that? What other Vikings were admirable, skilled, knowledgeable, and not primarily savage in attacks.
So we began to check the context for Harald's life, including his role in the Viking-Norman settlement at Brittany.
Explore the Idea at Varusschlacht
- that the Roman legions were so defeated, so shocked at the fervor and fury of the Germanic tribes,
- that the uncentralized tribes could actually defeat the famous legions,
- that they literally did not recover.
- Our focus here, Harald Bluetooth I of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth Gormson (Son of Gorm, and that would be Gorm the Old), Harald Blatand or Harald Blatann (Haraldr blatonn Gormssen as Old Norse for Harald Bluetooth, Gorm's Son). With each spelling comes some variations in search results. Try the above as Harold, not Harald, for example. A "Master Builder" - see The Vikings, A History, by Robert Ferguson, Penguin 2009
- Ragnar, Viking Chieftain, attacked Paris
- 885-886 AD Rollo, Viking Chieftain; Norman (Northmen) colony in France, Brittany, as payoff for stopping raids toward Rheims, Rouen, and past Paris (Rollo himself probably was not present at that attack on Paris specifically) on the Seine River; William the Conqueror, the Norman, used that area for staging the invasion of England in 1066
- Erik the Red, Viking Chieftain, led colonists to settle on Greenland
- Leif Ericsson, son of Erik, conducted explorations sailing to Labrador, Baffin Islands, Newfoundland, "Vinland" - Gaspe - Nova Scotia coast? Settlements 980-1020 perhaps.
- Canute - King of Denmark rules in England, Danelaw established, broad areas of settlement, influence, (invasions beginning 865, then some 130 years later, governing in Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire
For Vikings only, see this site: ://www.scaruffi.com/politics/vikings.html/ Get an idea of when and where they went. I am interested in the site name, scaruffi, because the root skarf is Icelandic Norse, Otkell, Son of Skarf, in the Burnt Njall Saga, etc. Trivial pursuit. Then again Piero Scaruffi sounds Italian. All is imagination, is that so?
Note there is no violence until the Vikings have to fight the Franks.
Vikings in context in a summary way, a history of violence before and after:
persecutions of contrary-believing Christians.
- see long list and dates and acts as to Jews at this timeline, at Jewish Persecution at ://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/HistoryJewishPersecution/ (note that the persecutions pre-era of Mohammed are attributable to Christians)
- institutional church forcing conversions and killing nonconformists, in much the same way that earlier Rome had persecuted Christians
- slaughter of "barbarians" who would not convert, in geographic expansion of church 'n turf
- full-blown wars against non-submissive European groups "slow to convert", including Saxons, Norse ://www.worldtimelines.org.uk/world/europe/northern_eastern/AD 800-1250/The_creation_of_the_Scandinavian_kingdoms
- 1095-1248 or so, Crusades outside and in Europe
- killing witches and heretics, The Burning Time 1350-1500,
- The Inquisition, continuation against heretics, witches
With the bombs found (see current news) headed toward Chicago, and addressed to persons or names from the Crusade era, and the Inquisition, can we doubt that racial memory of Western incursion and exploitation has a role in later reactions to the West, who is still there. In those lands. Who can find the exact message of Osama after 9/11 -- wasn't there something about getting out of their lands? Go check.
See FN 1 for the full, or at least a more complete, timeline. A work in progress.
Extensive timeline combining various sources at FN 1.
What had happened in, for example, the century or less before to set them off, if anything. Did Christian activities trigger it. What had the record been as to the Christians in killing other people, before the Viking waves of killing. Were the Christians any better, in their way, except that the West honors them as killing for The Faith? Then expand the timeline forward. Once the Vikings had settled and become mainstream again, what did the Christians do. Did they stop their killing? Who has kept up the violence for millennia. Who the barbarian.
Our schoolchild history of Vikings comes from those promoting Christianity, and demoting everybody else. It paints a few Vikings -- the explorers -- as fine folk, but somehow all the rest are a violent scourge without reason, from the Northlands in the Dark Ages: bursting from the seas and rivers in their swift longboats, heaving hacking death upon the peaceful, killing the helpless as well as the armed, victimizing Christians in particular where they could be found, including the holy lonely in monasteries whose defenses were few, but treasure great. Why, intone the recorders of the time and now, did they arrive like that, out of nowhere and against the true faith!
Put a face on the Vikings. What weight to be given to the other view of Vikings, as traders, poets (see sagas), artisans, artists, carvers, rune-stone makers, town-founders; and when does that go too far from the reality of the blood, to the sappy. Revive the ferocity? Vet.
- I am interested in the theory suggested (among others) that the Norse had good reason to lash out against Christians wherever they could be found: the theory points to the force of the Christian push to take over and convert, by killing and population removals (Charlemagne) and the mass beheading, allegedly and for example, of 4500 Saxon prisoners, helpless in that position, by Charlemagne.
How did the Christian slaughter of the Northern tribes in Europe, especially Charlemagne's execution by beheading in a day's time, four thousand five hundred Saxon prisoners, already defeated, even if after 30 years of fighting against Charlemagne for their own way of life. Was the Viking rise in response to Christian incursions, through violence, into Northern Europe.
Or were they merely crazy, crazed people.
One historian, Robert Ferguson in his book, Vikings, A History, Penguin 2009, suggests that their sudden explosion in European political affairs, after centuries of being not any different from others who raided and took, was a religious response. A religious war. Look at the history, the timeline, see the violence of the Christians in perspective, and meet Harald Bluetooth. What did the Christians do to set the stage for the backlash.
Were Papal and Holy Roman Emperor obsession with the Norse related to some memory of the untamable northern Tribes, the ones that defeated even the Roman Legions, at least that one time. That resonated. Stamp it out! These people get furious. And they did. See the Berserkers, the most fierce of the fierce Vikings, see http://library.thinkquest.org/C003446/a.php?b=16/
Why demonize Vikings so much. Especially, look at the eras after the Breakup of Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire 850-900 AD. Charlemagne's sons couldn't hold it together, and finally arrived an ambitious Successor when his sons fell apart, came along; Otto the Great 912-73 AD. Follow the dots in Europe: Then came forcible expulsions of Jews from European countries (Spain started it in 1492); then the Burning Times, against Rome's identified "witches" and heretics; then the Inquisition; then Protestant vs. Catholic; and more heresy justifying killings, and colonies doing it to each other, and genocides of native Americans, the Vale of Tears, then invasions by corporations into other lands, and on and on. Not just Western ecclesiastical militant incursions into turf and mind; with forced conversions or executions for the stubborn, at home and abroad, for centuries thereafter. But morphing into heresies of economics.
This is a work in progress. Unfinished. But the idea is interesting that the Vikings' little 250 years of mayhem was triggered by centuries of worse mayhem by Christian expansionists, who then continued centuries after the Vikings were going to school board meetings. First for deity, now for profit.
Now moved, because of length, to
Studying War: Western Ethnic Violence Timeline