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Were All Vikings Bloodthirsty Warmongers?

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The Vikings have been commonly represented as vicious, bloodthirsty, war loving warriors, but is this all true? Vikings originated in Scandinavia. The men were usually warriors but would have other jobs such as being a blacksmith. Whilst Vikings were terrible and ferocious pirates they also had a good side to them. Many people believe Vikings to be ruthless people but research suggests that this isn’t entirely true. Viking culture played a big part in their society. Viking were also traders, however they did raid other places quite often. Viking also had terrible punishments. But is the theory about Vikings being bloodthirsty, warmongers true?

Viking were raiders. The vikings were constantly raiding people either for land or resources. Being the amazing ship builders they were, the vikings had many advantages in movement to other countries and lands. The vikings would use this advantage to sail to places where they would pillage, plunder, rape and burn. The vikings were fearless warriors coming off their ships to raid villages. From these raids they would gain precious metals, such as silver and gold, and slaves. Vikings could then take this “loot” (loot was a term used for what they had taken from a village) back to their village and use this to trade. The men were to ones who would be the warriors and sometimes children. Children would be trained to become vikings from young ages to become warriors. The Vikings would raid during the warm seasons and when it got cold they would return back to their village.

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Viking culture has inspired many movies, it also shows that the vikings had more to them then raiding and killing. Viking were amazing craftsmen. The vikings created some of the best boats in history. The Viking longboat is very famous for so many reasons, they are some of the best boats without a motor. Being the amazing ship builders they were, they were also amazing sailors. Viking sailors could tell when they were close to land, if the water was fresh and were outstanding navigators. Vikings were excellent traders, they would go to new lands to trade their goods for other exotic goods that could be used for various things such as food, more trade and building houses. Vikings had very unique beliefs. They believed there were 9 realms, midgard (earth) is where they lived. Asgard is where the Gods lived. These Gods have influenced movies and books, Such as Thor. Thor as been taken on as a superhero in the Marvel universe but was inspired by Viking mythology. However within this culture there were some very bad punishments.

Viking punishments had to be one of the cruelest and inhuman punishments in existence, although many of them lived on in various forms in other societies for many hundreds of years after the Vikings. These punishments were for a variety of things ranging from being accused as a witch or murder. These punishments were called trails. If you passed the trail you were innocent, If not there was a much more severe punishment. One of these trails was the ‘Trail of water’. These trails was for women accused of being witches. The women were tied up and thrown into the sea. If theses women floated they were taken and burned, If they sank and drowned they were innocent. Another cruel trial vikings used was the ‘Trial of fire’. The accused was forced to hold something burning hot, such as iron straight from the furnace. After a period of time the accused would let go of this object and be sent home. After some time (usually 2-7 days) the “police” would see if the accused wounds had healed, If they had the accused was innocent, if they hadn't they were killed. One of the less cruel and more funny trials was the ‘Trial by cake’. The accused would be given a cake, If he/she ate it all they were innocent. If the accused choked or didn't finish the cake he/she would be killed. These cruel and inhuman punishments were part of Viking culture.

Vikings were very barbaric, but also had a very cultural and peaceful side to them. When they raided they were ruthless and non-forgiving but when they came back home they were very peaceful and calm people. This evidence suggests that the Vikings may have been misunderstood. So many people believe Vikings were the “bad guys” but where they? Their cultural side suggests that they were not. However, the punishments they used were cruel. In the end, Vikings were neither good or bad. They were just people. Like me and you the Vikings weren’t always perfect but showed their good sides less.

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Were All Vikings Bloodthirsty Warmongers? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Were All Vikings Bloodthirsty Warmongers?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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Were All Vikings Bloodthirsty Warmongers? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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