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Scandinavian Expansion in the Viking Age Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2020


It is imperative to mention that Norse expansion is a fascinating topic that has been actively discussed by scholars. There have been many disagreements between primary causes and reasoning behind some of the attacks, and it is possible to state that a consensus still has not been achieved. However, it is possible to identify particular patterns and relationships between various factors that have led to such processes. It is hard to argue with the fact that Vikings are viewed as strong and vicious warriors, and it would be beneficial to review the literature on this topic to get a better understanding of some of the aspects of this expansion.


The problem that Vikings had to deal with is that their lands were not viewed as suitable for agriculture, and it has led to resource shortages (Kendrick 43). The lifestyle has also played a vital role, and they were outstanding shipbuilders. The role of trade between the countries has increased at that time, and Vikings realized that it is an opportunity for enrichment (Barrett 677). They understood that their ships were much more advanced, and such a technological advantage could be utilized in raiding. A political situation was also not stable, and many families thought that they should move because living conditions at that time were not acceptable.

Another possible explanation for such actions is that Vikings wanted to avenge their people that have suffered as a result of invasions of European. For instance, Charlemagne wanted to ensure that Scandinavians convert to Christianity and punished individuals that did not want to obey. Such attacks had led to numerous conflicts in the region, and it could have caused many disagreements. However, the problem with this concept is that Britain was the first country that they attacked, and it is a significant contradiction. However, it is entirely possible that there was a misunderstanding, and they had to engage in a fight because of the circumstances.

Traditions of Vikings could also play a crucial role. Young people had to look for lands according to some of the beliefs. Also, it is widely known that they were used to selective procreation, and it had led to numerous problems. They tried to look for wives in other regions because they recognized that a shortage was present. However, the desire for enrichment may be viewed as the most reasonable theory because it was the core reason behind most expansions throughout history. One of the most significant aspects that should not be overlooked is that Vikings took advantage of the fact that people did not expect their attacks most of the time because they were hard to predict. It is imperative to understand that their boats were incredibly efficient, and they could be used to sail to regions that were viewed as not easily accessible.

Furthermore, villages that were under attack did not have enough time to react appropriately, and it was nearly impossible to organize a defense. Moreover, their ships could be utilized as an efficient way to escape if they were not able to control the situation and had to deal with enormous resistance. Another factor that should be highlighted is that their attacks have continued to be effective even after information about them has been spread. It was evident that they were ahead of their time, and their strategies were well-developed. They always refined their techniques and utilized new approaches. For instance, they have started using horses to become much more mobile, and their attacks were not as one-dimensional (Howard 26). They have occupied some of the territories and lived there for extended periods.

One of the misconceptions about the Vikings is that they hated Christianity. However, this argument is quite questionable. The core reason the attacked churches is because they understood that they can get access to valuable resources, and do not have to be worried about being caught because most churches were poorly defended. Moreover, pieces of evidence that suggest that they have converted to Christianity later (Taylor 27). A new religion was easy to accept for them, and they did not have any hatred towards individuals that were not pagan. Furthermore, they became much more careful in their battles and had to flee in some instances because of their religious beliefs. However, they had to deal with unfair trading practices from the side of Christians. It can be seen that a particular inconsistency is present. It is not likely that people who hated Christianity would consider converting to this religion. It is possible that some of the attacks were caused by religious factors, but it cannot be stated that this argument is reasonable as a whole. Another aspect that supports this perspective is that they did not destroy churches, and wanted to extract ransoms for members of the community that they have captured.

They attacked Britain in 793 and have started to assault people in the region (). One of the misconceptions about Vikings is that they rarely lost any battles. However, it is no true, but they did not give up and were determined to conquer the lands. Their beliefs also played a vital role in this case because they thought that individuals that died in combat are going to a place known as Valhalla, and it made them into incredible warriors that rarely had any fear (Schaffer 100). The purpose of attacks has also changed with time. They did not only want to steal the goods and escape but also planned to capture villages. Many towns were forfeited as a result, and it was a significant strategic advantage.

They have recognized that attacking monasteries is an efficient approach to become wealthy and have utilized the same strategies when invading Scotland and other countries. One of the most significant strengths of Vikings was that they were extremely mobile. However, the level of flexibility of their armies has reduced once they decided to settle on lands that they have already captured (Logan 103). They were close to the enemies, and it was not possible to abandon their homes, and they had to be defended. Many European countries recognized them as a common threat and have united to defend their territories. Moreover, Vikings had to look for other regions where they could expand.

Another fact that suggests that they were focused on the monetary gains is that they were willing to participate in discussions, and would leave the territory if they were paid sufficient funds. It is necessary to mention that they were able to establish relationships with some countries. For instance, Hrolf has protected France from other Vikings. They understood that they are at an outstanding position and could explore other territories. Their fights in Southern Europe are worth highlighting. They were defeated on numerous occasions by Muslims because they underestimated their enemies (Logan 110). They had to leave the territories that they have occupied in some cases. Some scholars suggest that they left Greenland because some individuals believed that they should get rid of their religious beliefs. However, no sufficient evidence that would prove this perspective is present.

It is paramount to note that the fact that Vikings were not united could be viewed as a significant weakness, and it is one of the primary reasons that their reign was not efficient in the long-term. The support of most attacks was limited, and they were started because groups of people were not satisfied with the actions of the government. Another aspect that needs to be considered is that many Viking ships have followed if they were aware of the fact that an attack was successful. However, the lack of unity was problematic, and it is possible to state that they did not have a common goal most of the time.


In conclusion, it is evident that Vikings were outstanding warriors and were able to take advantage of advanced technologies that they had. It is possible to argue about the reasons behind the expansion, but numerous pieces of evidence support the theory that they wanted to get rich and gain access to territories. Religion played a crucial role, but the fact that most Vikings have converted to Christianity is fascinating. Overall, it is possible to state that they had numerous strengths, but some weaknesses that they had has led to the demise of their era.

Works Cited

Barrett, James H. “What Caused the Viking Age?” Antiquity 82.317 (2008): 671-85. Print.

Howard, Ian. Swein Forkbeard’s Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017. Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2003. Print.

Kendrick, Thomas D. A History of the Vikings. North Chelmsford, MA: Courier Corporation, 2012. Print.

Logan, Francis D. The Vikings in History. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Schaffer, David. Viking Conquest. Sun Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2001. Print.

Taylor, Dereen. Vikings. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009. Print.

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