Were the Vikings Really Brutal?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Were the Vikings Really Brutal?

As we might see through many sources of social media, the Vikings are currently depicted as the brutal forces calling. But is this true, historically?

The answer is, yes, they were. The Vikings were brutal. But this is only true when we compare Viking deeds with modern deeds. Comparing the Vikings with other medieval tribes, they were not that brutal. 

So the answer, from a historical viewpoint, is definitely a no. 

Back to the Viking Age, these peasant warriors started to raid because of wealth. All of those who dared to voyage and travel across the ocean were likely to return home with their pockets filled with gold and their future life full of respect. That's it. 

They were just as brutal as anyone else of those time. If they could take something with physical strength, they did. But if they could make more fortune by trading instead of killing (as well as saving their time and energy), they did. If anyone paid them for their military skills, they would follow them. 

Viking warriors

Viking warriors seeking for new land

Fairly speaking, if they did not defend themselves, they would be killed, Enemies were all around and the nature of Scandinavia was also tough. As populations increased quickly, they had to find some new places. And they traveled across the ocean to reach the new land. And they found Iceland, Greenland, Vinland, etc. All they did were to protect themselves and their families as well. 

They could establish peaceful villages in a new land if the locals did not mean to harm them. Unfortunately, these "locals" often thought the Vikings as the pagans and barbarians. Accordingly, the war happened. And to survive, the Vikings had to be tough and somewhat brutal. 

Society back then was not as civilized as we are today. Brutality in modern time might be common in the Medieval age. Beheading is now considered inhumane but was obviously common in the past. If a servant unintentionally dropped a cup of tea on the king, he might be killed by the king's order. That's to say the ancient concept of brutality and what is now are different. 

Looking things in a positive way, many things can be learnt from the Viking warriors: loyalty, warrior spirit, burning desire to learn something new, religious tolerance, ambition to pursue what they want, etc. That's what keeps me and many Viking enthusiasts connected with this long-gone glory of the Vikings. 

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