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Viking Age Britain 800-1100

A Viking Ship with the Tjald by Nicholas Roerich

‘From the fury of the Northmen, Oh Lord, deliver us.’ The Vikings (aka Northmen) burst on the scene in Britain in the late 8th century. In 793 the ‘heathen destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne by rapine and slaughter’. In that year ‘immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air.’

Terrified clergy feared their raids on monasteries, repositories of jewelled books, crosiers, and chalices, and very attractive booty. In 806 they massacred 68 monks and in 825 the saintly Blathmac and his monks were also martyred in a Viking raid. The petrified monks prayed to God for relief.

The Vikings got around—wherever they could sail—for three hundred years. Their longships, the cutting edge of medieval technology, allowed them to raid, trade and settle in various parts of Europe from Britain and France to Ukraine. Unfortunately for their reputation, their best-selling commodities were slaves. For example, the Norse ran a highly profitable slavery business in Dublin, a city they established. 

But the Norse had laws, lots of them. They gathered at assemblies called Things, which acted as parliaments and law courts. Every year one-third of the laws were recited. Freemen could attend the Thing but had to attend unarmed. Does that sound like the Vikings you’ve heard about? Many clans in Scotland and Ireland are descended from Viking settlers. 

Were they a people of the Middle Ages not so different from others or an evil people only interested in slaves and profit? Are they worthy of respect in your books? Read the history and decide for yourself. 

In this course you learn about:

  • The origins of the Vikings
  • Norse society
  • The Earldom of Orkney
  • Macbeth & Thorfinn
  • Harald Hardradr & 1066
  • How to use the sagas to inspire your stories

Who should take this course: 

  • Writers who want a deeper knowledge of Norse society
  • Writers who want to know more about warrior cultures
  • Writers who love the Middle Ages

Course Outline

Lesson One:

1. Origins of the Vikings

2. Peoples 

3. Raiding & Trading

4. Charlemagne

5. The Annals: Violence in the Viking Age 

6. The Ships

Lesson Two:

1. The Sagas

2. Classes in Society

  • thralls
  • carls
  • earls
  • skalds

3.  Warriors

4. Disagreements & Disputes

5. Raiding

6. Feasting 

7. Kinship

8. The Hávamál

Lesson Three:

1. Cold

2. Houses

3. Women

4. Women’s Clothing

5. Men’s Clothing 

6. Weapons 

7. Legendary Female Warriors

Lesson Four:

1. Norse Law

2. The Thing

3. Orkney in the Viking Age

  • Earl Sigurd
  • Torf-Einar
  • Macbeth  
  • Sigurd the Stout
  • Thorfinn the Mighty

4. The Hebrides & the Clans

5. Clans in the Kingdom of Scots (Alba)

6. Peoples of Scotland

Lesson Five:

1. England Before the Vikings

2. England & the Vikings

3. Wessex

4. Ireland Before the Vikings

5. Ireland & the Vikings 

6. The Battle of Clontarf: Reality & Myth

Lesson Six:

1. Norse Mythology

  • The Eddas
  • Norse Cosmology
  • Gods and Goddesses
  • Ragnarök

2. Pagan Burials

3. Christianity

  • The Appeal 
  • Hákon Haraldsson
  • Olaf Tryggvason
  • Harald Bluetooth

4. End of the Viking Age

  • Harald Hardradi

5. The Normans

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