Were the Vikings Barbarians
Were the Vikings Barbarians
A barbarian is a member of a people considered by those of another nation or group to have a primitive civilization. In today’s world stereotypes about race and culture are common, and most people believe that the Vikings were savage brutes. Contrary to popular belief the Vikings were actually civilized people. The Vikings being barbaric people is just one of the many stereotypes that surround them. Their society had similar morals and ethics to the ones we have today.
The Vikings were not barbaric people as they were very civilized, they have many stereotypes about them which would have caused them being portrayed as barbarians, and they were more advanced in their morals and ethics compared to the rest of Europe. Despite all the stereotypes the Vikings faced, they were highly civilized people. The Vikings used combs, soap and bathed once a week so they were above European standards at the time contrary to what many people believe. They were merchants, farmers, and pioneers, so it wasn’t always about pillaging for the Vikings.
The Vikings were explorers and the 1st to land in North America and sailed to Greenland and Iceland. Bjarni Hjerlofsson accidentally discovered North America when his ship went off course from Iceland to Greenland. Leif Ericsson later went on to land in Newfoundland and established a settlement. Uncivilized people are not capable of travelling to North America because there ships wouldn’t be made well enough to cross the Atlantic, or they wouldn’t even be capable of building ships.
If the Vikings were barbaric people their weapons would have been crude. However, the Vikings were master craftsmen and crafted astonishing weapons. The Vikings were also traders, and they traded with many countries, as their trade routes extended from Asia, North America, Africa and included many countries in Europe. The Vikings bought Silver, spices, wine, silk, jewelry, glass and pottery which they paid for with Silver coins. They also sold things to other countries such as honey, wheat, wool, wheat, fur and ivory.
They were able to trade peacefully with these other countries which proves they weren’t barbaric people. The Vikings also had their own myths regarding gods. They worshiped many gods such as Odin and Thor. They have a deep mythology that uncivilized barbaric people are not capable of. Most people don’t know about all of that because they have many stereotypes that engulf them. The Vikings have many stereotypes surrounding them, and there is good reason for this.
One of the many stereotypes surrounding them is that they wore horned or winged helmets. The Vikings never wore winged or horned helmets as that would have been a terrible idea and it would have been advantageous for their enemies. Their appearance is also a stereotype, they are often depicted as big, hulking men, but in reality they were around 5’7 in height which is average by today’s standards. Another stereotype the Vikings face is that it is believed that they weren’t well liked during their time.
But in actuality they were respected by other nations, or civilizations, and even the French King Charles the lll gave his daughter to the Viking chief Rollo in return for the Vikings protecting France against wilder Vikings. The reason the Vikings were depicted as savages or brutes is because when they attacked monasteries the monks left biased reports about the Vikings behind which led to the stereotypes we have today. The Vikings had a very modern moral and ethical code based off what we have now, making them anything but Barbaric.
The Vikings practiced a form of democracy, and they based law and order on the thing system. The thing had legislative and judiciary powers, every free man had to attend the thing, women and handicapped people could attend it as well and the Vikings elected their king at it. The Vikings had no memorized law but a man known as the “lovsigemann” opened the Thing by saying the laws, which he had memorized by heart. The thing was a democratic constitution; everyone was considered a citizen except for slaves and outlaws. It was more of a democracy than the one in Athens which only included 10% of the population.
Their social behavior was based on an unwritten system of honor or a code of ethics. A man of honor was a principled man, hospitable and generous, and offered a helping hand to friends in need. Viking women had more rights than women at this time, and more than some women today. Viking women were allowed to inherit property, divorce and get dowries back. Especially fit women were allowed to become warriors known as skjoldmo, which means “shield girl”. Women in the United States military weren’t even allowed to be in combat until January 2013!
The Vikings can be looked to for modern day morals and ethics because of how their civilization was structured based off things like the fact they had a democracy, and they gave women rights. The Vikings were not barbaric people as they were normal, civilized people, they have a plethora of stereotypes surrounding them, and there morals and ethics are similar to the ones we have today. Based off actual history and not stereotypical nonsense or biased history reports the Vikings were not barbaric brutes, but ordinary, civil people.
The stereotypes that surround them portray them as something they are not and make people believe they did things they didn’t actually do such as being dirty, unclean people. Their morals and ethics are very similar to what we have today, such as rights for women which is something other women didn’t have for a very long time. The Vikings are portrayed as things they are not, they are not the barbaric people they are made out to be, and instead they are some of the most important figures in history as they laid the groundwork for our society today.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 29 September 2016
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