At the end of 8th century, a group of people called Norsemen carried out a series of violent raids across the Northern Europe. They terrified many people in the region. During those aggressive invasions they destroyed lots of monasteries and towns, killing countless number of people or taking them prisoner.
Those were the people that we call today as Vikings.
The meaning of the Vikings is ‘’inlet of the sea”. And it was derived from Old Norwegian word Vik. Vikings were very smart in ship building and sailing, and their feasts of exploration across the sea are still admired today .By around 1000 AD with the influence of Christianity Vikings stopped worshiping Norse gods and adopted Christianity. The settled in many of the places they hard raid.
Before the spread of Vikings their home lands were located in in Northern Europe, in the modern day Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. They were not heavily influenced by other European societies because they were far away from Vikings. Vikings religious beliefs were polytheistic meaning that they believed in many gods. Viking society had three main classes. Within these Viking classes each class knew their role and responsibilities. The most powerful and wealthy class was known as Jarls. They had the power to rule the lands and command in battles. The Jarls earned their lands and power by inheritance or by being successful in battle. The power of Viking king was decided by the Jarls. Without their support king could not rule even a small number of people.
The people who were in the middle level of the Society were known as Karls. They were the majority of Viking community. They could become anyone that they like as farmers, shipbuilders, fisherman, hunters, merchants, blacksmiths or weavers. Most of the Vikings who went on raids were Karls because they liked to take part in adventures. Because of this they had a good practice in weapons like swords and axe.
Slave of Viking community were known as Tharls. Only few rights were offered to them and they could not own lands. They had to work for their masters who were Karls and Jarls. Most of the Tharls were prisoners who captured in raids. Not paying debts could also be a reason to become a Tharl. If a Tharl broke the law they could be beaten, maimed or killed. At that times killing his or her slave was a right of the master.
At the beginning Viking agriculture was mainly based on agriculture. But with the increase of their population lack of good farming lands became a problem. They wanted a method to increase their supplies and they tried on trading. Viking merchants sailed across the down rivers and seas, carrying lots of trading items like smoked fish, leather, slaves and many more. As there was no use of money they exchanged those goods for iron, silver, wine and many other things that they want. Later, coins came to use and they traveled faraway land like Russia and Central Asia to sell their goods. Vikings were great ship builders and sailors so they had no fear of traveling far in sea.
Vikings worshiped many different gods. Like most of the civilizations in in the world Vikings also had their own beliefs about the world creation. In this beliefs it includes stories about gods, giants, and monsters. Those stories are known as Norse or Viking mythology. The Vikings believed that gods are responsible for the different scenarios of day today life such as harvest, fertility, love, family and war. To get better result in those areas such as a better harvest or success in battle, it is believed that Vikings made human or animal sacrifices for their gods.