The Viking Age

Great Essays
The Viking Age was an era in European history during which the peoples of the Baltic and Scandinavia surged onto the world stage as pirates, raiders, traders, and fearless explorers. There are many controversies and theories as to why the Scandinavians chose, or were forced, to leave the far northern reaches of Europe. Various indications have suggested a possible population increase that correlates with available farming land, which in turn, connects to an increase of people looking to settle. However, there are also more economic triggers for the expansion of the Vikings in addition to other demographic and social aspects of Viking society. These include a variety of trading connections that have existed in the Baltic for years, the availability …show more content…
When taking into account the various environmental, cultural, and political circumstances that intertwine with one another to create a uniquely charged socio-economic atmosphere, the assumption that the Vikings were, first and foremost, a product of their age is evident. As previously mentioned, this essay will argue that it was the underlying economics and want of wealth that drove the Vikings out of Scandinavia. To further elaborate on this argument, I will discuss the context of the other various societal factors which implicate with the time. Before analyzing the economic components that led the Vikings to seek out lands beyond their own, it is important to establish the social precedence that helped to determine the wealth seeking mindset found among Vikings. The societal demographic that made up the Viking populations, eventually allowed for the circumstances to create the economic system of raiders and expansion through explorers, traders, and piracy. There have been indications that Scandinavia experienced an increase in population that puts a strain on the already scarce resources and farmland, which in turn, acted as an economic motivator to leave Northern Europe in search of a stable livelihood . On the other hand, there also have been theories to suggest that there was a larger ratio of men to women due to the practice of …show more content…
Archaeological digs revealed the existence of trade in the Baltic region years before the presumed beginning of the Viking Age in the 8th century. The small port town of Helgö, Sweden was uncovered to be an important centre for trading and metalworking almost four centuries before the initial Viking expansion out of Scandinavia. The existence of Helgö only goes to prove that the early Scandinavians had connections to cultures outside of the Baltic regions, and therefore, they were able to draw on influence from foreign ideas and knowledge. The extent of the trade in the port town was international. Some artefacts have been found in excavations from the far reaches of the known world at the time; for example, a bronze figurine of a North Indian Buddha, Irish crozier head, and the Coptic bronze ladle uncovered at the sight act as evidence of a significant flux of trade in Northern Europe in the “Pre-Viking” era. This port serves as an example that pre-existing commerce and regional production using natural resources already existed in Scandinavia, and subsequently acted as a basis for the commencement of economic growth in Northern Europe by the beginning of the Viking Age. In addition, Lundström comments, “The Baltic area experienced fairly extensive trade, and sites such

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