The History of the Vikings

The History of the Vikings

Viking Age, Guests from Overseas, Nicholas Roerich,PD-Art

The Vikings were from Scandinavia in Northern Europe, which consists of three countries: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. They were also known as Norse or North people. They came to England in 789 AD and fought with the British people for centuries. They didn’t just fight though, the Vikings settled and became farmers, craftsmen and traders. In this article you will learn about the history of the Viking people and what eventually happened to them.

The Vikings begin their pirate raids, 789 – 866

Vikings voyages: light blue: Itineraries of the Vikings, light green: main settlement areas, in the first millennium. Author: Bogdangiusca, GFDL.

The Vikings started to attack English shores in the 8th century. In 793, the Vikings were successful in their attack on Dorset. In the same year, they destroyed the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumbria. The early Vikings had their own religion and belief system — they worshipped various gods, one of the most famous of whom was Thor, the God of Thunder. Christian churches were often targets of Viking raids. Monasteries also kept gold and treasure, and the Vikings knew they were poorly defended by the monks.

As the Vikings took on England, they also ventured just across the channel and attacked the coast of France. Their influence was so great that an area of northern France was named for these “North Men” — we now know it as Normandy.

By 840, the Vikings had made to Ireland and took over Dublin. They also traveled to other countries by sea, including Spain, Turkey and Russia. By 866 in England, they had established a capital of their English kingdom called Yorvik, led by a Danish king. This city is now called York.



The Vikings take on Russia, almost conquer England and travel to Greenland, 871 – 970

Portrait of Alfred the Great. PD-Art.

The Vikings continued to take on the world, an example of which was in 872 when Kiev, in modern day Ukraine, became the centre of Norse reign across Ukraine and Russian domains.

The Norse had settled in much of the North of England but they continued to try to take more English land. Alfred the Great became the King of Wessex in 871 and with his army, put a stop to Viking advancement in England.

King Alfred made a deal with the Danish. He split England in two in a special agreement called the Danelaw Pact.

As the century turned, the Vikings raided the countries along the Mediterranean coast. Fewer than 100 years later, the Vikings were traveling to Greenland and exploring Newfoundland waters in Canada.

The Vikings take England, 991 – 1016

King Æthelred in an early thirteenth century copy of the Abingdon Chronicle, PD art.

The English King Æthelred II was the first in England to pay the Danegeld. Translated, “Danegeld” means “Dane tribute” — or Danish tax. It was paid to the Vikings to stop them from attacking the English land and people.

Since leaving Scandinavia over 200 years before, the Vikings had started to convert to Christianity. The Norse spread the word of Christ throughout their settlements. In 1000 AD, Greenland and Iceland had become Christian countries as well.

In the year 1000, the Vikings began to explore the North American coast. It took ten years for the Norse to attempt to settle in America, but the settlement was unsuccessful and the Norse left again within five years.

Meanwhile in Ireland, the King of Ireland, Brian Boru, fought to reclaim his country. In 1002, he finally beat the Norse. In England, the peace between the Vikings and the English was disturbed — the Danes no longer accepted the Danegeld and they conquered the rest of England. The English king Æthelred was forced to escape to Normandy where he had a family. By 1016, the Danes had complete control of England under the rule of Knut (Canute) the Danish King. The last official Norse King of Jorvik was Eric Bloodaxe.



The last of the Viking attacks, 1042 – 1066

Edward the Confessor enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry. Author: Myrabella,PD art.

Edward the Confessor was crowned King of England in 1042. He may have been the son of the absconded king, Æthelred, but the Danes who lived in England supported his rule. He was known as The Confessor because he was deeply religious. Most of his reign was peaceful, but he had an ongoing feud with Godwine, the Earl of Wessex. Despite this, Edward, who had no children of his own, left the crown to Godwine’s son Harold, who became the king of England in 1066 after Edward’s natural death.

King Harald Hardrada, the Norse king of Norway, used the opportunity of Edward’s death to try to claim a portion of England back. He was unsuccessful, and was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. This is regarded as the of last Viking attacks in Europe, and the point where most agree that the Viking age ended.

William, the Duke of Normandy, was angry when he heard the news that Harold was king of England, because he believed that Edward had promised the crown of England to him many years before. He attacked England and defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings. He was known as William the Conqueror, and became the King of England.

The Vikings had settled successfully in Normandy, and it was therefore some of the original Norse decendants who helped William the Conqueror bring down the British monarchy.

As for the rest of Europe, the world had changed beyond recognition from the days of the early Vikings raids. Raiding was only part of the Norse culture, however, and many people who originated from Scandinavia had established lives, homes, families and trades in the various countries across Europe. These people simply continued to live in settlements, and their ancestors still live on today.

To learn more about the Vikings, visit:
10 Interesting Facts About the Vikings.

VIKINGS! Video Playlist.

A detailed playlist of the videos is listed below.

The Playlist:

  1. Facts about Vikings – All about Vikings in 120 Seconds by IP Factly
  2. Who were the Vikings? In a nutshell by NutshellEdu
  3. Building a Viking Ship by S2NMedia
  4. Sword Fighting As It Was For the Vikings by MuseumSecrets TV
  5. You Had to Be Strong Just to Wear the Armor as a Viking by MuseumSecrets TV
  6. History of England: From Vikings to Normans by PaxBrittanica
  7. VIKINGS, conquers of Northern EUROPE and Vinland (America) by ygdrasil21
  8. Viking journeys 1 by BirkaViking
  9. 2 by BirkaViking
  10. 3 by BirkaViking
  11. 4 by BirkaViking
  12. The Viking Ships part 1 by ygdrasil21
  13. 2 by ygdrasil21
  14. 3 by ygdrasil21
  15. 4 by ygdrasil21
  16. Viking Settlers in Ireland by vteditor2003


Click here to view the complete list of sources..


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