Jomsvikings: Legendary Viking Military Unit of Great Heroes
Viking legends are not merely about one single hero but a company of heroes as well. They grew up, joined army, fought side by side, and went to Valhalla. The most famous Viking army by far has been the Great Viking Heathen Army led by great Viking kings. Another who might not be as famous as the Heathen Army, yet equally mighty, was the Jomsvikings.
WHO WERE JOMSVIKINGS?
Jomsvikings were a company of young Scandinavian mercenaries of 900s and 1000s. They worshipped Odin and Thor. Jomsvikings army would fight for any king or lord who hired them with high fees.
Legendary sources like the Jómsvíkinga saga, King Olaf Tryggvasson’s Saga, and stories found in the Flatey Book mentioned their names and their great achievement. Their stronghold was allegedly southern shore of Baltic Sea. However, the historical existence of the Jomsvikings still remains a debate, let alone their stronghold.
Viking Jomsvikings was a Viking military unit who worshipped Odin and Thor
The scarcity of materials and their historical accuracy are being disputed by both historians and archaeologists.
The beginning of this military unit remains a big question. Some sources claimed that it was established by Harald Bluetooth, Danish King. Later, he selected Palnatoke "Toke the Archer" and the chieftain of Fyn island to lead the Jomsvikings. Another source said Palnatoke formed the unit himself.
THE CODE OF JOMSVIKINGS
Indeed, not everyone was accepted into a mighty military unit. In other words, the Jomsvikings carried out some highly selective tests to choose who could join them as brothers in battles. Membership was restricted to men of great courage between 18 - 50 years old. The exception was a 12-year-old boy named Vagn Åkesson who won a duel when he reached 12. In order to join the army, they must prove their fighting skills, their ambition, and brave by taking duel with a Jomsviking.
The Battle of Svolder, at which the Jomsvikings fought with Denmark and Sweden against Norway
Any organization needs a code of conduct to display core values, uphold cultures, and function well. So did the Jomsvikings.
Whoever got admitted to the military unit would have to adhere to their set rules. Any violation of the rules would be punished by being dismissed from the army. A dismiss from a military unit was no simple thing in the Viking Age. It was an insult to the whole family.
Each Jomsviking warriors would live and fight not only for those who paid them but to defend their brothers. They would take revenge for the deceased brothers if necessary.
No speaking ill or quarrelling was accepted in the unit.
They were not allowed to show fear or run away from the enemies who were equal or inferior to them. Orderly retreat in the face of a greater military unit was acceptable.
No women or children were allowed to step inside their fortress. However, no sources mentioned whether the Jomsviking had any affair outside the fort walls.
For a long time, the Jomsvikings had been treated as a myth. Until 2009, the archaeologists made an exciting excavation outside the English town of Weymouth in Dorset county.
It was a mass grave full of ancient skeletons.
At first, the skeletons were believed to belong to the Roman warriors or Anglo-Saxon. Further research debunked the former theories saying that the skeletons stood more chance of belonging to the Scandinavian men.
DNA analysis showed that the skeletons belonged to the Scandinavian men of their twenties. Some of them filed their teeth which was a tradition of Viking warriors.
What excited the archaeologists the most were the cuts on the neck and head bones. It said that these warriors met their final days in a brutal way. They died from execution not from behind but when they looked directly in the eye of the executors.
Icelandic Sagas told the courageous Viking warriors refused to be executed from behind. Looking directly in the eye of the executors not only proved their courage but also haunted the executors. Also, this could be linked with their worship of Odin. Because Odin only accepted the brave fallen warriors to Valhalla the Great Hall, the Vikings wanted to prove their courage to join Odin in Valhalla.