Viking expansion
The Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s sailed most of the North Atlantic, reaching south to North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and east to Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries. Vikings under Leif Eriksson, heir to Erik the Red
Erik the Red
Erik Thorvaldsson , known as Erik the Red , is remembered in medieval and Icelandic saga sources as having founded the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. The Icelandic tradition indicates that he was born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Thorvald Asvaldsson, he therefore...

, reached North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and set up a short-lived settlement in present-day L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows
L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village in Canada, and in North America outside of Greenland...

, Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

, Canada.


The motives driving the Viking expansion form a topic of much debate in Nordic history. One common theory posits that Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 "used force and terror to Christianize all pagans", "baptism, converting or death by iron and blood”. "Vikings and other pagans wanted to avenge". Professor Rudolf Simek confirm that “it is not a coincidence if the early Viking activity occurred during the reign of Charlemagne” . Because of the penetration of Christianity in Scandinavia, serious conflict divided the Norway for almost a century .

Another one common theory posits that the Viking population had outgrown
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

 agricultural potential of their Scandinavian homeland. For a coastal population with superior naval technologies, it made sense to expand overseas in the face of a youth bulge effect. However, this theory does little to explain why the expansion went overseas rather than into the vast, uncultivated forest areas on the interior of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Scandinavian Peninsula
The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula in Northern Europe, which today covers Norway, Sweden, and most of northern Finland. Prior to the 17th and 18th centuries, large parts of the southern peninsula—including the core region of Scania from which the peninsula takes its name—were part of...

. Moreover, no such rise in population or decline in agricultural production has been definitively proven. It should be noted that sea raiding was easier than clearing large areas of forest for farm and pasture in a region with a limited growing season. These shortcomings are addressed by the hypothesis that the expansion was caused by a shortage of women, with the intention to acquire wives
Raptio is a Latin term referring to the abduction of women, either for marriage or enslavement . In Roman Catholic canon law, raptio refers to the legal prohibition of matrimony if the bride was abducted forcibly...


The decline in the profitability of old trade routes could also have played a role. Trade between western Europe and the rest of Eurasia suffered a severe blow when the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 fell in the 5th century. The expansion of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in the 7th century had also affected trade with western Europe. Trade on the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 was historically at its lowest level when the Vikings initiated their expansion. By opening new trade routes in Arabic and Frankish lands, the Vikings profited from international trade by expanding beyond their traditional boundaries. Finally, the destruction of the Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

n fleet by the Franks afforded the Vikings an opportunity to take over their trade markets.

Viking settlements in Ireland and Great Britain are thought to have been primarily male enterprises. A cemetery on the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 for example includes mainly male Norse burials, with females from the local indigenous population. Irish and British women are mentioned in old texts on the founding of Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, indicating that the Viking explorers had acquired wives and concubines from the British Isles. Genetic studies of the Shetland population indicates that Viking family units were the norm among the migrants to these areas. Genetic studies of the population in Iceland and the Western Isles/Isle of Skye show that Viking settlements were established mainly by unattached male Vikings who subsequently acquired women from among the local populations. This may be explained in terms of physical distance to new settlements from the Scandinavian homeland; closer settlements were more suitable for family migration while frontier settlements further north and west were left for groups of lone male colonizers.


Traditionally, the earliest date given for a Viking raid is 789 when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

three ships from Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 sailed to Portland Bay
Isle of Portland
The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, long by wide, in the English Channel. Portland is south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A tombolo over which runs the A354 road connects it to Chesil Beach and the mainland. Portland and...

, in Dorset. There, they were mistaken for merchants by a royal official, and they murdered him when he tried to get them to accompany him to the king's manor to pay a trading tax on their goods. The next recorded attack, dated 6 January, 793, was on the monastery on the island of Lindisfarne
Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the north-east coast of England. It is also known as Holy Island and constitutes a civil parish in Northumberland...

, off the east coast of England. The resident monks were killed, thrown into the sea to drown or carried away as slaves along with some of the church treasures. After repeated Viking raids, the monks fled Lindisfarne in AD 875, carrying the relics of Saint Cuthbert
Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Saint Cuthbert was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in the Kingdom of Northumbria, at that time including, in modern terms, northern England as well as south-eastern Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth...

 with them.

In 840 and 841, Norwegians raided during the winter months instead of summer, as was their usual tactic. They waited on an island off Ireland. In 865 a large army
Great Heathen Army
The Great Heathen Army, also known as the Great Army or the Great Danish Army, was a Viking army originating in Denmark which pillaged and conquered much of England in the late 9th century...

 of Danish Vikings, supposedly led by Ivar the Boneless
Ivar the Boneless
Ivar Ragnarsson nicknamed the Boneless , was a Viking leader and by reputation also a berserker. By the late 11th century he was known as a son of the powerful Ragnar Lodbrok, ruler of an area probably comprising parts of modern-day Denmark and Sweden.-Invader:In the autumn of AD 865, with his...

, Halfdan
Halfdan was a late 5th and early 6th century legendary Danish king of the Scylding lineage, the son of king named Fróði in many accounts, noted mainly as the father to the two kings who succeeded him in the rule of Denmark, kings named Hroðgar and Halga in the Old English poem Beowulf and named...

 and Guthrum
The name Guthrum corresponds to Norwegian Guttom and to Danish Gorm.The name Guthrum may refer to these kings:* Guthrum, who fought against Alfred the Great* Gorm the Old of Denmark and Norway* Guthrum II, a king of doubtful historicity...

, arrived in East Anglia. They proceeded to cross England into Northumbria and captured York (Jorvik
Scandinavian York is a term, like the terms Kingdom of Jórvík or Kingdom of York, used by historians for the kingdom of Northumbria in the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings; in particular, it is used to refer to the city controlled by...

), where some settled as farmers. Most of the English kingdoms, being in turmoil, could not stand against the Vikings, but Alfred of Wessex managed to keep the Vikings out of his county. Alfred and his successors were able to drive back the Viking frontier and retake York. In 886, the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum
Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum
The Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum is an agreement between Alfred of Wessex and Guthrum, the Viking ruler of East Anglia. Its date is uncertain, but must have been between 878 and 890. The treaty is one of the few existing documents of Alfred's reign; it survives in Old English in Corpus Christi...

 was formalised the boundaries of their kingdoms and the Viking Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

 territory, with provisions for peaceful relations between the English and the Vikings.
A new wave of Vikings appeared in England in 947 when Erik Bloodaxe
Eric Bloodaxe
Eric Haraldsson , nicknamed ‘Bloodaxe’ , was a 10th-century Scandinavian ruler. He is thought to have had short-lived terms as the second king of Norway and possibly as the last independent ruler of the kingdom of Northumbria Eric Haraldsson (Eric, anglicised form of ; died 954), nicknamed...

 captured York. The Viking presence continued through the reign of Canute the Great
Canute the Great
Cnut the Great , also known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden. Though after the death of his heirs within a decade of his own and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history, historian Norman F...

 (1016–1035), after which a series of inheritance arguments weakened the family reign.

The Vikings did not get everything their way. In one instance in England, a small Viking fleet attacked a rich monastery at Jarrow
Jarrow is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, located on the River Tyne, with a population of 27,526. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936.-Foundation:The Angles re-occupied...

. The Vikings were met with stronger resistance than they expected: their leaders were killed, the raiders escaped, only to have their ships beached at Tynemouth
Tynemouth is a town and a historic borough in Tyne and Wear, England, at the mouth of the River Tyne, between North Shields and Cullercoats . It is administered as part of the borough of North Tyneside, but until 1974 was an independent county borough in its own right...

 and the crews killed by locals. This was one of the last raids on England for about 40 years. The Vikings instead focused on Ireland and Scotland.
The Viking presence in the British Isles dwindled until 1066, when the Norwegians lost their final battle with the English at Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...


It is important to bear in mind that not all the Norse arriving in Ireland and Great Britain came as raiders. Many arrived with families and livestock, often in the wake of the capture of territory by their forces. DNA analysis shows that a major part of the ancestry of English people in northern East Anglia, eastern Yorkshire and in the Lake District is Scandinavian in origin, presumably from colonists around this time. The populations then merged over time by intermarriage into the Anglo-Saxon population of these areas. Many words in the English language are from old Scandinavian languages, showing the importance of this contact.


The monastery at Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

 on the west coast was first raided in 794, and had to be abandoned some fifty years later after several devastating raids. While there are few records from the earliest period, it is believed that Scandinavian presence in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 increased in the 830s.

The isles to the north and west of Scotland were heavily colonized by Norwegian Vikings. As time passed many left or got run out but some stayed and assimilated. Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

 were under Norse control, sometimes as fiefs under the King of Norway, and other times as separate entities under variously the Lordship of the Isles
Lordship of the Isles
Lordship of the Isles may refer to :*The title and territory of the Lord of the Isles, in the west coast of Scotland*Lordship of the Isles , a region of the fictional World of Greyhawk in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game....

, Earldom of Orkney
Earldom of Orkney
The Earldom of Orkney was a Norwegian dignity in Scotland which had its origins in the Viking period. The title of Earl of Orkney was passed down the same family line through to the Middle Ages....

 and the joint Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. Shetland and Orkney were the last of these to be incorporated into Scotland in as late as 1468.


In 722, the Cornish
Cornovii (Cornish)
The Cornovii were a Celtic tribe who inhabited the far South West peninsula of Great Britain, during the Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman periods and gave their name to Cornwall or Kernow....

 gained a victory at the Battle of Hehil
Battle of Hehil
The Battle of Hehil was a battle won by a British force, probably against the Anglo-Saxons of Wessex in the year 721 or 722. The location is unknown, except that it was apud Cornuenses ....

, probably holding Wessex from expanding into Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

. The enemy may have been a Saxon
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 army led by King Ine, and the battle may have been somewhere near the Camel estuary
River Camel
The River Camel is a river in Cornwall, UK. It rises on the edge of Bodmin Moor and together with its tributaries drains a considerable part of North Cornwall. The river issues into the Celtic Sea area of the Atlantic Ocean between Stepper Point and Pentire Point having covered a distance of...

, perhaps near modern day Padstow
Padstow is a town, civil parish and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town is situated on the west bank of the River Camel estuary approximately five miles northwest of Wadebridge, ten miles northwest of Bodmin and ten miles northeast of Newquay...

. This battle, recorded in the Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae, or The Annals of Wales, is the name given to a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles deriving ultimately from a text compiled from diverse sources at St David's in Dyfed, Wales, not later than the 10th century...

, as well as the Vikings' continual attacks on Wessex, enabled Cornwall to stay autonomous from Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

 for the next 100 years. (Up until 838 the eastern Cornish
Cornish people
The Cornish are a people associated with Cornwall, a county and Duchy in the south-west of the United Kingdom that is seen in some respects as distinct from England, having more in common with the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom such as Wales, as well as with other Celtic nations in Europe...

 border was still on the River Exe
River Exe
The River Exe in England rises near the village of Simonsbath, on Exmoor in Somerset, near the Bristol Channel coast, but flows more or less directly due south, so that most of its length lies in Devon. It reaches the sea at a substantial ria, the Exe Estuary, on the south coast of Devon...

-River Taw
River Taw
The River Taw rises at Taw Head, a spring on the central northern flanks of Dartmoor. It reaches the Bristol Channel away on the north coast of Devon at a joint estuary mouth which it shares with the River Torridge.-Watercourse:...

 line). The Danes provided tactical support to their Cornish allies by raiding Wessex which weakened the authority of the Saxons. In 831 AD, the Danes raided Charmouth
Charmouth is a village at the mouth of the River Char in West Dorset, England, with a population of 1,687 according to the 2001 census.-The village:...

 in Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

, in 997 AD they destroyed the Dartmoor
Dartmoor is an area of moorland in south Devon, England. Protected by National Park status, it covers .The granite upland dates from the Carboniferous period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The...

 town of Lydford
Lydford, sometimes spelled Lidford, is a village, once an important town, in Devon situated north of Tavistock on the western fringe of Dartmoor in the West Devon district.-Description:The village has a population of 458....

, and from 1001 AD to 1003 AD they occupied the old Roman city of Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

. In 1013 Wessex was conquered by the Danes under the leadership of Sweyn Forkbeard.


Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 was not colonized by the Vikings significantly as in eastern England. The Vikings did, however, settle in small numbers in the south around St. David's, Haverfordwest
Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales and serves as the County's principal commercial and administrative centre. Haverfordwest is the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire, with a population of 13,367 in 2001; though its community boundaries make it the second most populous...

, and the Gower. Place names such as Skokholm
Skokholm is an uninhabited island off the coast of south west Pembrokeshire in Wales, lying south of the neighbouring island of Skomer. The whole island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest as is Skomer. The surrounding waters are a marine reserve, all part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National...

, Skomer
Skomer is a 2.92 km² island off the coast of southwest Wales, one of a chain lying within a kilometre off the Pembrokeshire coast and separated from the mainland by the treacherous waters of Jack Sound....

, and Swansea
Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

 remain as evidence of the Norse settlement. The Vikings, however, were not able to set up a Viking state or control Wales, owing to the powerful forces of Welsh kings, and, unlike in Scotland, the aristocracy was relatively unharmed.

Nevertheless, following the successful Viking alliance with Britanny in 865, the Britons made their peace with the Danes, and a Viking/Welsh alliance in 878 defeated an Anglo-Saxon army from Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

, although there were still some occasional skirmishes between the Britons of Wales and the Danes.

The city of Swansea was founded by the imperialist Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, who by 1013 was King of the Danes, Anglo-Saxons and Norwegians. Swansea is a corruption of the Norse Sweyns Ey, which means "Sweyn's island". The island refers to the area around the estuary of the river Tawe. The neighboring Gower Peninsula
Gower Peninsula
Gower or the Gower Peninsula is a peninsula in south Wales, jutting from the coast into the Bristol Channel, and administratively part of the City and County of Swansea. Locally it is known as "Gower"...

 has some place names of Norse origin (such as Worm's Head; worm is the Norse word for dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

, as the Vikings believed that the serpent-shaped island was a sleeping dragon). Twenty miles (32 km) west of Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

 on the Vale of Glamorgan
Vale of Glamorgan
The Vale of Glamorgan is a county borough in Wales; an exceptionally rich agricultural area, it lies in the southern part of Glamorgan, South Wales...

 coast is the semi-flooded island of Tusker Rock
Tusker Rock
Tusker Rock is a rock in the Bristol Channel, situated about 2 miles west of Ogmore-by-Sea, Bridgend, Wales. It takes its name from Tuska the Viking, a Dane whose fellow Vikings semi-colonised the Vale of Glamorgan....

, which takes its name from Tuska, the Viking who established a settlement in the area.


The Vikings conducted extensive raids in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and founded many towns, including Dublin, Limerick, Mullingar
Mullingar is the county town of County Westmeath in Ireland. The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act of 1542, proclaimed Westmeath a county, separating it from Meath. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath...

, Wexford, Waterford and Leixlip
-Politics:Since 1988 Leixlip has had a nine member Town Council , headed by a Cathaoirleach , which has control over many local matters, although it is limited in that it is not also a planning authority...

. Literature, crafts, and decorative styles in Ireland and Britain reflected Scandinavian culture. Vikings traded at Irish markets in Dublin. Excavations found imported fabrics from England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, Persia, and central Asia. Dublin became so crowded by the 11th century that houses were constructed outside the town walls.

The Vikings pillaged monasteries on Ireland’s west coast in 795, and then spread out to cover the rest of the coastline. The north and east of the island were most affected. During the first 40 years, the raids were conducted by small, mobile Viking groups. From 830 on, the groups consisted of large fleets of Viking ships. From 840, the Vikings began establishing permanent bases at the coasts. Dublin was the most significant settlement in the long term. The Irish became accustomed to the Viking presence and culture. In some cases they became allies and also intermarried throughout all of Ireland.

In 832, a Viking fleet of about 120 ships under Turgesius
Turgesius was a Viking chief active in Ireland who is said to have conquered Dublin. It is not at all clear whether the names in the Irish annals represent the Old Norse Thurgestr or Thorgísl...

 invaded kingdoms on Ireland’s northern and eastern coasts. Some believe that the increased number of invaders coincided with Scandinavian leaders’ desires to control the profitable raids on the western shores of Ireland. During the mid-830s, raids began to push deeper into Ireland. Navigable waterways made this deeper penetration possible. After 840, the Vikings had several bases in strategic locations throughout Ireland.

In 838, a small Viking fleet entered the River Liffey
River Liffey
The Liffey is a river in Ireland, which flows through the centre of Dublin. Its major tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac. The river supplies much of Dublin's water, and a range of recreational opportunities.-Name:The river was previously named An Ruirthech,...

 in eastern Ireland, probably led by the chieftain Saxolb (Soxulfr) who was killed later that year. The Vikings set up a base, which the Irish called longphort
A longphort is a term used in Ireland for a Viking ship enclosure or shore fortress. Longphorts were originally built to serve as camps for the raiding parties in...

s. This longphort would eventually become Dublin. After this interaction, the Irish experienced Viking forces for about 40 years. The Vikings also established longphorts in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

, Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

, and Wexford
Wexford is the county town of County Wexford, Ireland. It is situated near the southeastern corner of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is connected to Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network...

. The Vikings were driven out of Ireland for a short period around 900, but returned to Waterford in 914 to found what would become Ireland's first city. The other longphorts were soon re-occupied and developed into cities and towns.

The last major Irish battle involving Vikings was the Battle of Clontarf
Battle of Clontarf
The Battle of Clontarf took place on 23 April 1014 between the forces of Brian Boru and the forces led by the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada: composed mainly of his own men, Viking mercenaries from Dublin and the Orkney Islands led by his cousin Sigtrygg, as well as the one rebellious...

 in 1014, in which a large force from the pan-Viking world and their Irish allies opposed Brian Boru
Brian Boru
Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, , , was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill. Building on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and especially his elder brother, Mathgamain, Brian first made himself King of Munster, then subjugated...

, then the High King of Ireland and his forces, a small contingent of which were Viking defectors. The battle was fought in what is the now Dublin suburb of Clontarf
Clontarf, Dublin
Clontarf is a coastal suburb on the northside of Dublin, in Ireland. It is most famous for giving the name to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, in which Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, defeated the Vikings of Dublin and their allies, the Irish of Leinster. This battle, which extended to districts...

 on Good Friday of that year. Boru, the Irish High King had allowed the Viking King of Dublin; Sigtrygg Silkbeard, one year to prepare for his coming assault. Silkbeard responded by offering the bed of his mother to several Viking lords from Scandinavia, Ireland and Britain. The savage melee between the heavily mailed Norse and the unarmoured, yet undaunted Gaels ended in a rout of the Vikings and their Irish allies. Careful accounts were taken by both sides during the battle, and thus many famous warriors sought each other out for personal combat and glory. High King Brian, who was nearly eighty, did not personally engage in the battle but retired to his tent where he spent the day in quiet prayer. The Viking Brodir of Man chanced upon Brian's tent as he fled the field. He and a few followers seized the opportunity, and surprised the High King, killing the aged Brian before being captured. Brian's foster son Wolf the Quarrelsome
Wolf the Quarrelsome
Ulf the Quarrelsome, or Ulf Hreda, is described in Njals Saga as a brother to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014...

 later tracked down and dispatched Brodir by disembowelment. Wolf watching as Brodir marched and wound his own innards around the trunk of a large tree. The battle was fairly matched for most of the day and each side had great respect for the prowess of the other; however, in the end, the Irish forced the Norse to return to the sea. Many of the fleeing Vikings were drowned in the surf due to their heavy mail coats as they struggled for the safety of their longships; others were pursued and slain further inland. After the battle, Viking power was broken in Ireland forever, though many settled Norse remained in the cities and prospered greatly with the Irish through trade. With Brian dead, Ireland returned to the fractured kingdom it had once been, but was now cleared of further Viking predation.

European continent


The name of Normandy is derived from the settlement and conquest of the territory by Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 during the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. The Duchy of Normandy
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

 was created for the Viking leader Rollo
Rollo has multiple meanings. It may mean:a first name*Rollo Armstrong, member of British dance act Faithless* Rollo May, American psychologist...

. Rollo had besieged Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks Charles the Simple through the Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte
Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte
The Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte was signed in the autumn of 911 between Charles III of France and Rollo, the leader of the Vikings, to settle the Normans in Neustria and to protect Charles' kingdom from any new invasion by the "northmen". No written records survive concerning the creation of the...

. This treaty made of Rollo the first Norman count of Rouen. In addition, Rollo was to be baptised, marry Gisele, the illegitimate daughter of Charles, and become the vassal of the king. In exchange for his homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory which he and his Viking allies had previously conquered.

The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romance languages
Gallo-Romance languages
The Gallo-Romance branch of Romance languages include French and the other langue d'oïl dialects, Occitan , Catalan, Franco-Provençal, Gallo-Italic, and other languages - Other possible classifications :...

 and intermarried with the area’s original inhabitants. They became the Normans – a Norman French-speaking mixture of Scandinavians
Scandinavians are a group of Germanic peoples, inhabiting Scandinavia and to a lesser extent countries associated with Scandinavia, and speaking Scandinavian languages. The group includes Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, and additionally the descendants of Scandinavian settlers such as the Icelandic...

 and indigenous Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

Rollo's descendant William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the Norman Conquest culminating at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings occurred on 14 October 1066 during the Norman conquest of England, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II...

 while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants.

West Francia & Middle Francia

West Francia and Middle Francia
Middle Francia
Middle Francia was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious...

 suffered more severely than East Francia during the Viking raids of the 9th century. The reign of Charles the Bald coincided with some of the worst of these raids, though he did take action by the Edict of Pistres
Edict of Pistres
The Edict of Pistres or Edictum Pistense was a capitulary promulgated, as its name suggests, at Pistres on 25 July 864...

 of 864 to secure a standing army of cavalry under royal control to be called upon at all times when necessary to fend off the invaders. He also ordered the building of fortified bridges to prevent inland raids.

Nonetheless, the Bretons allied with the Vikings and Robert
Robert the Strong
Robert IV the Strong , also known as Rutpert, was Margrave in Neustria. His family is named after him and called Robertians. He was first nominated by Charles the Bald missus dominicus in 853. Robert was the father of the kings Odo and Robert I of France. Robert was the great-grandfather of Hugh...

, the margrave
A margrave or margravine was a medieval hereditary nobleman with military responsibilities in a border province of a kingdom. Border provinces usually had more exposure to military incursions from the outside, compared to interior provinces, and thus a margrave usually had larger and more active...

 of Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

, (a march created for defence against the Vikings sailing up the Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

), and Ranulf of Aquitaine
Ranulf I of Aquitaine
Ranulf I was a Count of Poitiers and Duke of Aquitaine . He is considered a possible son of Gerard, Count of Auvergne, and Hildegard , daughter of Louis the Pious and Ermengard...

 died in the Battle of Brissarthe
Battle of Brissarthe
The Battle of Brissarthe was fought on 2 July 866), between the Franks and a joint Breton-Viking army near Brissarthe, Neustria. It was marked by the death of Robert the Strong, the Neustrian margrave, and Ranulf I, the duke of Aquitaine....

 in 865. The Vikings also took advantage of the civil wars which ravaged the Duchy of Aquitaine in the early years of Charles' reign. In the 840s, Pepin II
Pepin II of Aquitaine
Pepin II, called the Younger , was King of Aquitaine from 838 as the successor upon the death of his father, Pepin I. Pepin II was eldest son of Pepin I and Ingeltrude, daughter of Theodobert, count of Madrie...

 called in the Vikings to aid him against Charles and they settled at the mouth of the Garonne
The Garonne is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of .-Source:The Garonne's headwaters are to be found in the Aran Valley in the Pyrenees, though three different locations have been proposed as the true source: the Uelh deth Garona at Plan de Beret , the Ratera-Saboredo...

 as they did by the Loire. Two dukes of Gascony
Duke of Gascony
The Duchy of Vasconia , later known as Gascony, was a Merovingian creation: a frontier duchy on the Garonne, in the border with the rebel Basque tribes...

, Seguin II
Seguin II of Gascony
Seguin II , called Mostelanicus, was the Count of Bordeaux and Saintes from 840 and Duke of Gascony from 845. He was either the son or grandson of Seguin I, the duke appointed by Charlemagne....

 and William I
William I of Gascony
William I was the Duke of Gascony, appointed in 846 following the death of Seguin II in battle with the Norse assaulting Bordeaux and Saintes. He himself had to fight the Vikings and died during an attack on Bordeaux in 848. He was the last Frankish-appointed duke...

, died defending Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 from Viking assaults. A later duke, Sancho Mitarra, even settled some at the mouth of the Adour
The Adour is a river in southwestern France. It rises in High-Bigorre , at the Col du Tourmalet, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Bayonne. It is long, of which the uppermost as the Adour du Tourmalet. At its final stretch, i.e...

 near Bayonne in an act presaging that of Charles the Simple
Charles the Simple
Charles III , called the Simple or the Straightforward , was the undisputed King of France from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919/23...

 and the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte by which the Vikings were settled in Rouen, creating Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 as a bulwark against other Vikings.

In the 9th and 10th centuries the Vikings raided the largely defenceless Frisian
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

 and Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 towns laying on the coast and along the rivers of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. Although Vikings never settled in large numbers in these areas, they did set up long-term bases and were even acknowledged as lords in a few cases. They set up bases in Saint-Florent-le-Vieil
Saint-Florent-le-Vieil is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.-Geography:The Èvre forms the commune's western border, then flows into the Loire, which forms the commune's northern border.-References:*...

 at the mouth of the Loire, in Taillebourg
Taillebourg, Charente-Maritime
Taillebourg is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France.It is built on a rock, overlooking the Charente River, 9 km downstream from Saintes....

 on the mid Charente, also around Bayonne
Bayonne is a city and commune in south-western France at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, of which it is a sub-prefecture...

 on the banks of the Adour, in Noirmoutier and obviously on the River Seine (Rouen) in what will become Normandy.

Antwerp was raided in 836. Later there were raids of Ghent, Kortrijk
Kortrijk ; , ; ) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province West Flanders...

, Tournai
Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

, Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

 and the areas around the Meuse
Meuse is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse.-History:Meuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

 river, the Rhine, the Rupel
The Rupel is a tidal river in northern Belgium, right tributary of the Scheldt. It is about 12 km long. It flows through the Belgian province Antwerp. It is formed by the confluence of the rivers Dijle and Nete, in Rumst. It flows into the Scheldt at Rupelmonde. Towns along the Rupel are...

 river and the tributaries of these rivers. Raids were conducted from bases established in Asselt
Siege of Asselt
The Siege of Asselt was a Frankish siege of the Viking camp at Asselt in Frisia in the year 882. Though the Vikings were not forced by arms to abandon their camp, they were compelled to come to terms whereby their leader, Godfrid, was converted to Christianity....

, Walcheren, Wieringen and Elterberg (or Eltenberg, a small hill near Elten
Elten is a small German town located in Northrhine-Westfalia. It has a population of around 4,500. Since 1975, it is part of the town Emmerich am Rhein. Between 1949 and 1963, Elten was part of the Netherlands . There is a substantial minority of Dutch citizens.- External links :*...

). In Dutch and Frisian historical tradition the trading centre of Dorestad
In the Early Middle Ages, Dorestad was the largest settlement of northwestern Europe. It was a large, flourishing trading place, three kilometers long, situated where the rivers Rhine and Lek diverge southeast of Utrecht in the Netherlands near the modern town of Wijk bij Duurstede...

 declined after Viking raids from 834 to 863; however, since no convincing Viking archaeological evidence has been found at the site (as of 2007), doubts about this have grown in recent years.

One of the most important Viking families in the Low Countries was that of Rorik of Dorestad (based in Wieringen
Wieringen is a municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It consists of a former island, also named Wieringen, and there are plans to make Wieringen an island again by widening the Amsteldiepkanaal into a lake called the Wieringerrandmeer.-Population centres :The...

) and his brother Harald (based in Walcheren
thumb|right|250px|Campveer Tower in Veere, built in 1500Walcheren is a former island in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary. It lies between the Oosterschelde in the north and the Westerschelde in the south and is roughly the shape of a rhombus...

). Around 850 Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 acknowledged Rorik as ruler of most of Friesland. And again in 870 Rorik was received by Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 in Nijmegen, to whom he became a vassal. Viking raids continued during this period. Harald’s son Rodulf and his men were killed by the people of Oostergo in 873. Rorik died sometime before 882.

Buried Viking treasures consisting mainly of silver have been found in the Low Countries. Two such treasures have been found in Wieringen. A large treasure found in Wieringen in 1996 dates from around 850 and is thought perhaps to have been connected to Rorik. The burial of such a valuable treasure is seen as an indication that there was a permanent settlement in Wieringen.

Around 879 Godfrid arrived in Frisian lands as the head of a large force that terrorised the Low Countries. Using Ghent as his base, they ravaged Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

, Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

, Liège
Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....

, Stavelot
Stavelot is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006, Stavelot had a total population of 6,671. The total area is 85.07 km² which gives a population density of 78 inhabitants per km².-History:...

, Prüm
Prüm is a town in the Westeifel , Germany. Formerly a district capital, today it is the administrative seat of the Verbandsgemeinde Prüm.-Geography:...

, Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, and Koblenz
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the Deutsches Eck and its monument are situated.As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the...

. Controlling most of Frisia between 882 and his death in 885, Godfrid became known to history as Godfrid, Duke of Frisia. His lordship over Frisia was acknowledged by Charles the Fat
Charles the Fat
Charles the Fat was the King of Alemannia from 876, King of Italy from 879, western Emperor from 881, King of East Francia from 882, and King of West Francia from 884. In 887, he was deposed in East Francia, Lotharingia, and possibly Italy, where the records are not clear...

, to whom he became a vassal. In the siege of Asselt
Siege of Asselt
The Siege of Asselt was a Frankish siege of the Viking camp at Asselt in Frisia in the year 882. Though the Vikings were not forced by arms to abandon their camp, they were compelled to come to terms whereby their leader, Godfrid, was converted to Christianity....

 in 882, the Franks
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

 sieged a Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 camp at Asselt in Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

. Although the Vikings were not forced by arms to abandon their camp, they were compelled to come to terms in which their leader, Godfrid, was converted to Christianity. Godfrid was assassinated in 885, after which Gerolf of Holland
Gerolf of Holland
Gerolf or Gerulf was the second count of this name who is attested in the area of Friesland . Gerolf's main area of power seems to have been in Kennemerland. Count Gerolf is often regarded as the founder of the County of Holland, although the actual name "Holland" is from a later time...

 assumed lordship and Viking rule of Frisia came to an end.

Viking raids of the Low Countries continued for over a century. Remains of Viking attacks dating from 880 to 890 have been found in Zutphen and Deventer
Deventer is a municipality and city in the Salland region of the Dutch province of Overijssel. Deventer is largely situated on the east bank of the river IJssel, but also has a small part of its territory on the west bank. In 2005 the municipality of Bathmen Deventer is a municipality and city in...

. The last attacks took place in Tiel
' is a municipality and a town in the middle of the Netherlands.The town is enclosed by the Waal river and the Linge river on the south and the north side, and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal on the east side. The city was founded in the 5th century AD....

 in 1006 and Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 in 1007.


By the mid 9th century, though apparently not before there were Viking attacks on the coastal Kingdom of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

 in the far northwest of the peninsula, though historical sources are too meagre to assess how frequent or how early raiding occurred. By the reign of Alfonso III
Alfonso III of León
Alfonso III , called the Great, was the king of León, Galicia and Asturias from 866 until his death. He was the son and successor of Ordoño I. In later sources he is the earliest to be called "Emperor of Spain"...

 Vikings were stifling the already weak threads of sea communications that tied Galicia to the rest of Europe. Fletcher mentions raids on the Galician coast in 844 and 858: "Alfonso III was sufficiently worried by the threat of Viking attack to establish fortified strong points near his coastline, as other rulers were doing elsewhere." In 861, a group of Vikings ransomed the king of Pamplona, whom they had captured the previous year, for 60,000 gold pieces.

Raiding continued for the next two centuries. In 968 Bishop Sisnando of Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

 was killed, the monastery of Curtis was sacked, and measures were ordered for the defence of the inland town of Lugo
Lugo is a city in northwestern Spain, in the autonomous community of Galicia. It is the capital of the province of Lugo. The municipality had a population of 97,635 in 2010, which makes is the fourth most populated city in Galicia.-Population:...

. After Tui
Tui, Galicia
Tui , in Spanish Tuy, is a town in Galicia , in the province of Pontevedra. It is located on the left bank of the Minho River, facing the Portuguese town of Valença....

 was sacked early in the 11th century, its bishopric remained vacant for the next half-century. Ransom was a motive for abductions: Fletcher instances Amarelo Mestáliz, who was forced to raise money on the security of his land in order to ransom his daughters who had been captured by the Vikings in 1015. Bishop Cresconio of Compostela (ca. 1036 – 66) repulsed a Viking foray and built the fortress at Torres do Oeste (Council of Catoira
Catoira is a municipality in Galicia , in the province of Pontevedra. Catoira is also known because of Torres do Oeste ruins.-Local festivals:The most important celebrations include...

) to protect Compostela from the Atlantic approaches. The city of Póvoa de Varzim
Póvoa de Varzim
Póvoa de Varzim is a Portuguese city in the Norte Region and sub-region of Greater Porto, with a 2011 estimated population of 63,364. According to the 2001 census, there were 63,470 inhabitants with 42,396 living in the city proper. The urban area expanded, southwards, to Vila do Conde, and there...

 in Northern Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, then a town, was settled by Vikings around the 9th century and its influence kept strong until very recently, mostly due to the practice of endogamy
Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. A Greek Orthodox Christian endogamist, for example, would require that a marriage be only with another...

 in the community.

In the Islamic south, the first navy of the Emirate was built after the humiliating Viking ascent of the Guadalquivir
The Guadalquivir is the fifth longest river in the Iberian peninsula and the second longest river to be its whole length in Spain. The Guadalquivir is 657 kilometers long and drains an area of about 58,000 square kilometers...

 in 844 when they sacked Seville. Nevertheless, in 859, Danish pirates sailed through Gibraltar and raided the little Moroccan
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 state of Nekor
Kingdom of Nekor
The Kingdom of Nekor was an emirate in the Rif area of modern day Morocco, with its capital initially at Temsaman but later at Nekor. It was founded by an immigrant of Yemen, Salih I ibn Mansur al-Himyarī in 710 AD, by Caliphal grant...

. The king's harem had to be ransomed back by the emir of Cordoba. These and other raids prompted a shipbuilding program at the dockyards of Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

. The Andalusian navy was thenceforth employed to patrol the Iberian coastline under the caliphs Abd al-Rahman III (912 – 61) and Al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II was the second Caliph of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus , and son of Abd-ar-rahman III . He ruled from 961 to 976....

 (961 – 76). By the next century, piracy from North Africans superseded Viking raids.

In 844 the Vikings attacked al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, the administrative area of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 ruled by Muslims. They sacked Lisbon, Cadiz and Medina Sidonia, and then captured Seville. However, the Muslims counterattacked and defeated them. The survivors fled. The Vikings carried out further raids on al-Andalus but the Muslims fought back effectively.

The first Viking longships reached the Iberian Peninsula in 844 AD, some 50 years after their first expeditions hit hard Northwestern Europe. In this year, one Viking group looted Gijón (on the north coast) and disembarked at A Coruña, but they faced a tough response from the Asturian king Ramiro I, who for a moment neglected the fight with the Moors (Arabs) to deal with this danger.

The Vikings retired and in the next weeks they looted the neighborings of Lisbon before advancing on the river Guadalquivir and attacked Sevilla. But the Blammen ("Black Men", Arabs) defeated them at Tablada and the Vikings retreated to their northern home.

In 860, a new fleet attacked Galicia (northwestern Spain), the Portuguese shores and Sevilla; it crossed the Mediterranean and wiped out the Balearic Islands. They attacked Pamplona after crossing the Ebru river and captured the king of Navarra, Garcia Iniguez, who paid a ransom for his release.

Another great campaign took place in 968. The jarl ("warlord") Gundraed attacked Galicia with 100 ships and 8,000 warriors. They roamed freely for years and even occupied Santiago de Compostella, but the Vikings were finally defeated by the troops of the count Gonzalo Sanchez.

They moved southward, but the Moorish in Spain were at their peak in that moment and the armies of Al-Hakam II easily rejected the pirates. Around 1,000 Norwegian Vikings tried another attack on the area, but with no result.

Eastern Europe

The Vikings settled coastal areas along the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, and along inland rivers in Russian territories such as Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga
Staraya Ladoga , or the Aldeigjuborg of Norse sagas, is a village in the Volkhovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Volkhov River near Lake Ladoga, 8 km north of the town of Volkhov. The village used to be a prosperous trading outpost in the 8th and 9th centuries...

, Novgorod and along major waterways to the Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...


The Varangians or Varyags (Russian, Ukrainian: Варяги, Varyagi) sometimes referred to as Variagians were Scandinavians who migrated
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 eastwards and southwards through what is now Russia, Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 mainly in the 9th and 10th centuries. Engaging in trade, colonization, piracy and mercenary activities, they roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, reaching and settling at the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and in Constantinople.

Ever since the second half of the 8th century, the Vikings have traveled south
along the Russian rivers. Archaeological findings suggest that Karelians also
took part in the trade between the Russian lands and the Baltic Sea region. Karelia
is favorably situated in the middle of the river trade route from Scandinavia
and Central Europe to Russia. This trade route was first used by the Vikings on
their way to Constantinople and the Arabic lands, and later by Gotlandic traders
and the Hanseatic League in their trade with Novgorod. (Korpela 1996 = J. Korpela: Kiovan Rusj. Keskiajan eurooppalainen suurvalta. Joensuu.)


to Landnámabók
Landnámabók , often shortened to Landnáma, is a medieval Icelandic written work describing in considerable detail the settlement of Iceland by the Norse in the 9th and 10th centuries AD.-Landnáma:...

, Iceland was discovered by Naddoddr, one of the first settlers on the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, who was sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands, but got lost and drifted to the east coast of Iceland. Naddoddr named the country Snæland (Snowland). Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 sailor Garðar Svavarsson also accidentally drifted to the coast of Iceland. He discovered that the country was an island and named it Garðarshólmi (literally Garðar's Islet) and stayed for the winter at Húsavík
Húsavík is a town in Norðurþing municipality on the north coast of Iceland on the shores of Skjálfandi bay with 2,237 inhabitants.-Overview:The income of the inhabitants is derived from tourism and fishing, as well as retail and small industry...

. The first Scandinavian who deliberately sailed to Garðarshólmi was Flóki Vilgerðarson
Flóki Vilgerðarson
Flóki Vilgerðarson was the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript. He heard good news of a new land to the west, then known as Garðarshólmi....

, also known as Hrafna-Flóki (Raven-Flóki). Flóki settled for one winter at Barðaströnd
Barðaströnd is an area of historical interest in northwestern Iceland. It is the coast between Vatnsfjörður and Sigluneshlíðar in southern Vestfirðir region. This is the place where Flóki Vilgerðarson first set up winter camp....

. It was a cold winter, and when he spotted some drift ice
Drift ice
Drift ice is ice that floats on the surface of the water in cold regions, as opposed to fast ice, which is attached to a shore. Usually drift ice is carried along by winds and sea currents, hence its name, "drift ice"....

 in the fjord
Geologically, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.-Formation:A fjord is formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice...

s he gave the island its current name, Ísland (Iceland).

The first permanent settler in Iceland is usually considered to have been a Norwegian chieftain named Ingólfur Arnarson
Ingólfur Arnarson
Ingólfr Arnarson is recognized as the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland. According to Landnáma he built his homestead in Reykjavík in 874...

. According to the story, he threw two carved pillars overboard as he neared land, vowing to settle wherever they landed. He then sailed along the coast until the pillars were found in the southwestern peninsula, now known as Reykjanesskagi. There he settled with his family around 874, in a place he named Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

 (Bay of Smokes) due to the geothermal steam rising from the earth. It is recognized, however, that Ingólfur Arnarson may not have been the first one to settle permanently in Iceland — that may have been Náttfari
Náttfari was a slave who escaped his master and became the first permanent resident of Iceland. Náttfari escaped from Garðar Svavarsson with a slave and a woman when Garðar set sail to the Hebrides from his new found land which he named Garðarshólmi, now known as Iceland, in the 9th century.Garðar...

, a slave of Garðar Svavarsson who stayed behind when his master returned to Scandinavia.


Two areas along Greenland's southwest coast were colonized by Norse settlers around 986. The land was at best marginal for Norse pastoral farming. The settlers arrived during a warm phase, when short-season crops such as rye and barley could be grown. Sheep and hardy cattle were also raised for food, wool, and hides. Their main export was walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

 ivory, which was traded for iron and other goods which could not be produced locally. Greenland became a dependency of the king of Norway in 1261. During the 13th century, the population may have reached as high as 5,000, divided between the two main settlements of Eystribygð
Eastern Settlement
The Eastern Settlement was the largest and first of the three areas of Greenland, settled in approximately 985 AD by Norse farmers from Iceland . At its peak it contained approximately 4,000 inhabitants...

(Eastern Settlement) and Vestribygð
Western Settlement
The Western Settlement was the smaller of the two main areas of Greenland settled in around 985 AD by Norse farmers from Iceland ....

(Western Settlement). The organization of these settlements revolved mainly around religion, and they consisted of around 250 farms, which were split into approximately fourteen communities that were centered around fourteen churches, one of which was a cathedral at Gardar. The Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 diocese of Greenland was subject to the archdiocese of Nidaros
Nidaros or Niðarós was during the Middle Ages, the old name of Trondheim, Norway . Until the Reformation, Nidaros remained the centre of the spiritual life of the country...

. However, many bishops chose to exercise this office from afar. As the years wore on, the climate shifted (see Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

). In 1379 the northernmost settlement was attacked by the Skræling
Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the indigenous peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland. In surviving sources it is first applied to the Thule people, the Eskimo group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century...

s (Norse word for Inuit). Crops failed and trade declined. The Greenland colony gradually faded away. By 1450 it had lost contact with Norway and Iceland and disappeared from all but a few Scandinavian legends.

North America

A Norwegian ship's captain named Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson
Bjarni Herjólfsson was a Norwegian explorer who is the first known European discoverer of the mainland of the Americas, which he sighted in 985 or 986.-Life:...

 first came across a part of the North American continent ca. 985 when he was blown off course sailing to Greenland from Iceland. Subsequent expeditions from Greenland (some led by Leif Erikson) explored the areas to the west, seeking large timbers for building in particular (Greenland had only small trees and brush). Regular activity from Greenland extended to Ellesmere Island
Ellesmere Island
Ellesmere Island is part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. Lying within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, it is considered part of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, with Cape Columbia being the most northerly point of land in Canada...

, Skraeling Island
Skraeling Island
Skraeling Island lies off the east coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.-History:The Norse referred to the indigenous peoples they encountered in Greenland and the New World as skræling , and the sagas make it clear that the Norse considered the natives...

 and Ruin Island for hunting and trading with Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 groups. A short-lived seasonal settlement was established at L'Anse aux Meadows, located in the northern part of Newfoundland, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...


The Greenlanders called the new found territory Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

. It is unclear whether Vinland referred to in the traditionally thinking as Vínland (wine-land) or more recently as Vinland (meadow- or pasture-land). In any case, without any official backing, attempts at colonization by the Norse proved failures. There were simply too many natives for the Greenlanders to conquer or withstand and they withdrew to Greenland.


Vikings may have discovered Svalbard as early as the 12th century. Traditional Norse accounts exist of a land known as Svalbarð - literally "cold shores". (But this land might also have been Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen Island is a volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean and part of the Kingdom of Norway. It is long and 373 km2 in area, partly covered by glaciers . It has two parts: larger northeast Nord-Jan and smaller Sør-Jan, linked by an isthmus wide...

, or a part of eastern Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

.) The Dutchman
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 Willem Barents
Willem Barents
Willem Barentsz was a Dutch navigator, cartographer, explorer, and a leader of early expeditions to the far north....

made the first indisputable discovery of Svalbard in 1596.
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