The Vikings - a short history, Martin Arnold, 2008, ISBN: 9780752445779

Bokrecension:

9
    Abbo of Fleury, Passio Sancti Eadmundi: "Unconquerable king... a terror by land and sea." Ivar the Boneless, a danish pagan of royal pedigree, arrived in England in 865. He probably traveled from Dublin, which had been founded by vikings almost 30 years earlier. Ivar had spent some 10 years going back and fourth from Denmark to Dublin, where he shared the rule of the city with the norwegian  viking Olaf the White.
    The character named as Imhar in the authentically contemporary Annals of Ulster equating with Ivar the Boneless. The absence of Imhar from the Annals while Ivar was in England, and the absence of Ivar (Ingware) fron the Chronicle while Imhar was in Scotland and Ireland make this correlation reasonable.
    English historian Roger of Wendover. In Strathclyde, Ivar enslaved hundreds. Ivar ascended the throne of Dublin in 871.
    The viking tongue, known as Old Norse.


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    The eddas provide a window onto the mind-set and beliefs of the vikings. The evil frost giant Ymir, and the cow Audumla, on whose milk the giant fed. From Ymir was spawned a race of giants. Nine worlds in which lived the nine races of mortals, immortals and monsters. Two races of the gods: the Aesir, who were the martial gods, and the Vanir, who were the fertility gods. Hall of Salin Warriors, Valhalla. Ragnarok, the norse apocalypse. Midgard, or Middle Earth. Midgard serpent Jormungand.
    In the lowest tier was Hel and Niflheim, the frozen realm of the dead, which was stalked by the fearsome dragon Nidhogg, the Corpse Tearer. Somewhere to the south of Hel was Muspell, a region of flame guarded by the giant Surt.
    Two bridges connected the nine worlds. Flaming bridge Bifrost, where the god Heimdall stood. Echoing bridge Gjallarbru, watched over by the giantess Modgud. The great ash tree Yggdrasil, tree of life that unified the cosmos. and also allowed access to a higher knowledge. In what could well be the mythologized representation of a shamanic rite. It was on Yggdrasil that the chief of the gods Odin hung for 9 days and nights in order to attain much of his magical power. The name Yggdrasil recalls this event and means "Odin's horse". Round the base of the tree sat the Norns, three mysterious women who wove the fates of gods and men.
    In the first era of the cosmos, the two races of the gods, the Aesir and the Vanir, were at war with each other, but soon after the indestructible matriarch of the Vanir was received into the company of the Aesir, the two sides were united.
    The great fortress Asgard. Odin's twelve warrior maidens, the Valkyries.
    It was viking armies led by generals from royal households who went into battle under Odin's raven banner.
    Thor, Frey and his sister Freyja, and Loki. Thor's character was clearly a hyperbole of male strength and vertility. It was Thor who was the scourge of the giants and the tribe of rapacious female monsters, the trolls. Thor's hammer Mjollnir was the favorite among viking foot soldiers, farmers and ordinary folk. Loki was of mized giant and Aesir parentage. The apocalyptic wolf Fenrir. Odin's favorite son Baldur. Loki's wife Sif.
    Norse mythology was typically violent, often lewd and sexualized. Its eschatology - doom laden. The central drama was the conflict between the gods and the giants. The masterbuilder Tale. The gods' stronghold Asgard. Loki's true identity as a rock giant.
    Poetic Edda is an unambiguous cycle of myths, with an orthodoxy of events.
    Sayings of the High One (Havamal).


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    Thietmar of Merseberg, a german writer in 1016, some 50 years after the conversion of Denmark, reported that at Lejre in Sjaelland, major cultic ceremonies had also taken place every 9 years.
    The creation of the world from the body of the frost giant Ymir and the death of the beloved god Baldur were both calendar events for blood offerings. Blot, a blood offering. The bones split in order to take auguries known as Hlaut.


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    Annals of Ulster record of 918: Ragnall king of the Danes and the two jarls Oitir and Gragabai... Gothfrith grandson of Imhar....
    Berserk Vikings were clearly psycopaths. Haklang, the berserk leader was killed.
    Harald Bluetooth sponsored viking brotherhood known as the Jomsvikings, who had 300 longships at their disposal at a secret stone fortress in the Baltic, although no evidence has been found to support this claim.
    A monk from the monastery of St. Omer in Flanders wrote a report. Roman commentator reports northern germanic raiders using sail as early as the late 5th century.
    The cargo ship Knörr. The viking longship Karve.
    Heimskr in Old Norse language, translates literally as "homish" but actually signifies "idiot".


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    In 789, in the southern english town of Dorchester, at Portland, was first viking attack. Mercian king Offa. One priceless treasure that the vikings in their ignorance would scarcely have appreciated - the beautifully illuminated Lindisfarne Bible.
    England's population at that time was probably little more than a million.
    Scandinavian traders had for decades been active in Northumbria. Scotland was raided in 795, 802 and 806.


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   Almost 40% of the names of towns and villages that were once in the viking kingdom of York contains elements from the Old Norse language, most evidently in the place-name endings of -by and -thorpe, which indicated the quality of the land.


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    Carolingian Empire, which in modern terms encompassed Germany, Slovenia, parts of northern Spain, Austria, Switzerland, much of Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Even the Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire acknowledged Carlemagne's singular authority in the west.
    The leader Widukind escaped the butchery of the River Weser. Widukind's response was to flee north and seek refuge among the Danes.
    Aachen, Carlemagne's capital south of the Rhine.
    The chief sponsor of viking raiders from Denmark during the late 830s and the 840s was King Horik, who quickly perceived the opportunities that were opening up in Francia. Horik had seriously upset the Franks by protecting the deposed Harald Klak, who had allied himself first to Louis the Pious and then to Lothar and had then turned renegade and sacked the royal mint at Dorestad on the Rhine.
    According to the contemporary Annals of St.-Bertin, in 845 Horik sent 600 longships down the Elbe with the intention of invading the East Frankish kingdom, but he was turned back by a saxon army loyal to king Louis the German. Not wanting to go home empty-handed, Horik stopped off at Hamburg, and attacked the great ecclesiastical center. Among them was the revered missionary to the pagan north, Anskar/Ansgar. After this, Horik returned to Denmark, but 120 of his longships, captained by certain Ragnar sailed into the River Seine and descended on Paris.
    Back in Denmark, Ragnar reported to Horik that the land was rich and fertile and the people cowardly (Abbey of St. Germain).


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    The historian Ibn Kutia recorded what happened next: ...host of 16,000 Madjus was marching on Moron. When the Madjus saw the moslem army...
    A temporary accord between the Frankish bothers led to a concerted effort to protect the northern territories from the likes of King Horik, who had apparently recovered from his superstitious misgivings.
    Their island encampment at Oissel, near Rouen. Commanding the assault was Bjorn Ironside. Viking leader called Weland.
    Ermentarius recorded situation.
    Danish brigand Hastein.
    French historian Dudo of St.-Quentin conjured the essence of Hatein's reputation in classical hyporbole.
    In the spring of 859, Hastein and Bjorn set sail with 62 longships.
    Arab historian Ibn Adhari: "they took many prisoners, stole lot of money and made themselves master of the city where they settled".



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    The founding of Rus. In 859 according to Primary Chronicle, vikings advenced down the rivers of Eastern Europe. A year later, the Slavs rebelled and Rus were driven back "beyond the sea" (VART?).
    In 862 three brothers came according to Primary Chronicle.
    Aggressive viking movement east across the Baltic Sea can be traced  in obscure legends dating from the 7th century, but it was merchants and craftsmen during the 8th century that vikings began permanent and peaceful settlement at bases such as Grobin and Elbing on the Baltic's southeastern shores.
    As early as 839, for the Annals of St.-Bertin record that the Byzantine Emperor had arranged for a party them (ruthenians-ukrainians) to safely escorted to Francia via the Mediterranean Sea.
    Vikings were too fearful of the Slavs.
    The next recorded visit to Constantinople was some 20 years later. Askold and Dir sailed on june 18 860 with fleet of 200 ships to the Black Sea.
    Photius sermonized: a nation among slaves, leaderless...
    News of Askold and Dir's wealth and prominence as rulers in Kyiv soon reached Novgorod. Tensions were bound to have resulted, for two distinct Rus factions were now intent on controlling the same river passages. Oleg who succeeded Rurik in Novgorod (HUR?) in 879, took the view that there should only be one. From this point onward, Rus power was centered at Kyiv.
    Much depended on keeping the Slavs in check, harvesting their trade goods, and taxing their wealth.
    The greeks supported Pechenegs as bulwarks against their enemies. To gain the cooperation of the pechenegs, Oleg again needed the cooperation of the greeks. Oleg died in 914. Oleg said to have been "at peace with all nations".
    Arabs, whose only experience of the Rus thus far had been as peaceful traders (BEFORE 912). Year 912, Oleg was simultaneously engaged in forming an alliance with the Khazars who controlled the wide territory between the Balck and Caspian seas. No trader could pass through their lands without paying tax.
    Finding the muslim lands south of the Caspian virtually undefended, the Rus ran amok. The towns of Abusgan and Ardebil, were burned to the ground.
    Oleg's ward, Igor, succeeded him and was forced to spend the first 5 years of his rule suppresing Slav uprisings in the northwest of his realm and leading a campign against the ever-troublesome pechenegs in the south.
    Byzantine Empire attacked by Bulgars in the 920s, by the Magyars in the early 930s. In 941, Igor decided to rectify the situation by waging war on Byzantium (Constantinople). Igor's first attack been forewarned by the Bulgars. The Byzantine diplomat Liudprand of Cremona witnessed the event.
    3 years later Igor tried again., this time with viking mercenaries from Sweden and the Pechenegs, among others from the Slavic tribes. Gifts of gold and silk were sent from the emperor, and Igor's army stood down. Igor's coalition partners of Slavs and Swedish mercenaries, they either returned to their homelands or went west to relieve their pent up energies by harrying the Bulgars. Igor suggested they go east. They entered the caspian sea and sailed inland up the river Kura on its west coast toward the town of Berda.
   Most of them were poisoned there. Rest of them were butchered by the arab leader Marzuban ibn Muhammed. The consequences of what the vikings had done in Berda were soon felt in Kyiv, for now the Khazars imposed a trade embargo. Igor raised his taxes on the Slavs. It was the Derevlian Slavs who killed Igor in Dereva in 945.
    Igor's son and heir, Svyatoslav and mother Olga accepted a Derevlian delegation in Kyiv. The Rus cavalry forced the Derevlians back into their stronghold at Iskorosten, where Igor have been killed. Olga died in 969. She was an archetypal rus queen. She oversaw relations between Kyiv and Novgorod, ensuing the pre-eminence of the Kyiv, and founded numerous new trading posts (VILKA?). In 957 she visited Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Trade agreements with Byzantium flourished. Olga set marked the beginning of the integration of the Rus, and thus the Slavs into the broader politics of Christian Europe. The Rus (ruthenian-ukrainian) king, Olga's son Svyatoslav hankered after complete domination rather than integration. Svyatoslav's ambitious plan was to extend Rus territory west as far as the Danube. Defenders of the muslim east against any further Rus aggression, were experiencing disunity within their realm, so much so that certain factions approached Svyatoslav for his assistance. Svyatoslav's intention was to establish a new Rus capital at the town of Pereyaslavets on the Dunabe, where he judged that all the riches were concentrated. Within 3 years Svyatoslav trebled the size of Rus. With Svyatoslav and the Rus army absent, the Pechenegs saw their chance and swarmed north and surrounded the walls of Kyiv. Olga and her grandsons were trapped inside. Svyatoslav saved them and prepared for his return to Pereyaslavets. Olga sharply reminded her son where his duty lay - beside her in Kyiv. She had a point, for Novgorod was on the brink to declaring itself independent, as were other major centers across the Rus kingdom. Svyatoslav's suggested remedy was to appoint his 3 sons to act as his regents in his absence, allocating to each of them principalities in Kyiv, Novgorod and Dereva. Only when Olga died 2 years later did Svyatoslav feel free to put his plan into effect and return to Pereyaslavets.
    He captured the bulgar royal family in Preslav. Then he ransacked and burned the towns of Adrianopolis and Philippopolis. In the summe of 971, the great emperor John Tzimisces and Svyatoslav finally faced each other across the dusty level plains outside the town of Dristra (modern Silistra) on Dunabe, where the rus had established their headquarters. Fighting alongside the Rus was a vast throng of Slavic mercenaries, even Pechenegs.
    Leo the Deacon described rus leader Svyatoslav: he crossed the river in a kind of Scythian boat, he was of medium height, he had bushy brows, blue eyes and was snub-nosed, he shaved his beard but wore a long and bushy moustache, his head was shaven except for a lock of hair on one side as a sign of the nobility of his clan, his neck was thick, his shoulders broad and his whole stature pretty fine, he seemed gloomy and savage, on one of his ears hung a golden earring adorned with two pearls and a ruby set between them, his white garments were not distinguishable from those of his men except for cleanness.
    In the spring of 972, Svyatoslav died by Pechenegs. The death of Svyatoslav was in many ways the end of an era. Rus and Greeks became largely reconciled.
    A main source of Rus wealth, suddenly dried up in the late 970s when the Arab silver mines ceased to be productive.


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    Volodymyr came to power after 6 years of bloody competition  with his half brothers for the right to succeed Svyatoslav. Volodymyr was a heavy drinker, a human sacrificer who idolized the Slav gods, and a notorious and insatiable womanizer. Volodymyr's long-suffering swedish wife Ragnheid. Consolidation and political acceptance were the achievements of Volodymyr's rule. In 1015, Volodymyr died and turmoil once again broke out over the succession, this time pitting the appointed heir Jaroslav against his usurper brother Svyatopolk. Jaroslav eventually gained the upper hand in 1019, and with it the title of Grand Prince of Rus. Later known as Jaroslav the Wise, he expanded his political alliances. He married Ingigerd (Ingegerd/Ingegärd), the daughter of the swedish king Olof Skötkonung, and their daughter Ellisif went on to marry Harald Hard-Ruler (Ruthless, Hårdrade, Hardråde), the future king of Norway. Harald's half brother, the posthumously sainted Olaf Haraldsson, sought refuge with Jaroslav. Magnus, Olaf's son, remained in Jaroslav's safekeeping until he could return north. Rus was now meshed to both the north and east of Europe politically. Jaroslav was determined to establish the particular cultural character of his kingdom. Religious texts were translated into the slavonic language. He was the enlightened and progressive European ruler.
    In 1043 Jaroslav sent his son to the Black sea (WHY? WHO?). First, since the time of Volodymyr, elite viking mercenaries known as varangians had been sent to the greek emperors.
    Greek historian Cedrenus wrote about 15,000 Rus corpses littered the Bosporus. Any Slav tribe that dared to express hostility or failed to deliver tribute was brutally suppressed. By the time Jaroslav died in 1054, the political alliances that he had formed across Europe...
    In reality, the commercial activities of the Rus would have meant transactions involving millions of silver and gold coins, as well as a vast of ruthenian-ukrainian fixed-wight silver neck and arm rings known as gryvnia/grivna.
    Arab writer and traveler Ibn Rustah reported: Rus is an island around which is a lake, and the island in which they dwell is a 3 days' journey through forests and swamps, covered with trees. They have a king who is called Khaquan Rus (probably "Hakun the Rus"). And they make raids against the Saqalaba (slavic land? slavic realm?).
    Rus has a basis in historical truth, such as the Saga of Eymund and Saga of Ynvar the Widefarer.
    It was from Jaroslav's Kyiv that Harald Hard-ruler went on to achieve the highest possible rank in the greeks.

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