The people who lived in Scandinavia in between the years 800-1100 were called Vikings. The word Viking is believed to come from “från viken” wich means from the bay. Yearly on Vikings was considered as a kind of pirates because of the pillage and plunder they became known for. Scandinavia consisted of a lot of smaller countries which was ruled by different chiefs and kings. For the most part various wars were played out between them and the winner got the losers land area.
Vikings were great storytellers and often shared different fairy tales by the campfire. A good storyteller had high status by the villagers. They were very religious people and the gods they worship was called “asar” and the most popular of the gods were Oden. Vikings believed that it was he that decided who was allow in to his hall in Valhall and party all day when they died, the Viking paradise. The second most popular god was Tor, the one who had power over thunder. His battle hammer “Mjölner” was wore around the neck as a jewelry. The community of Vikings consisted of chiefs, free men and thralls. The thralls were slaves that the owner could threat as they wanted, but some of the thralls could earn their freedom. The free men were mostly farmers which was a pretty hard life. To get some extra money and things the men gathered in groups and went out on a foray. You may think of the Vikings as a bloodthirsty warrior with swords and shields but actually they were common farmers.
During these raids they made their way with ships, the Vikings were very skilled boat builders and sailors. They traveled all over Europe and a good bit into Asia. Eventually they was able to reach North America as well. Often they travelled without having raids in mind and just wanted to connect with other parts of the world and create trade routes. At many new places they stayed and formed colonies which eventually in some cases grew and became cities.
The battle of Hastings in year 1066 usually counts as the last battle of the Vikings. The French Viking descendants invaded England and after a tough battle between the Anglo-Saxon king Harlad Godwinsson and William the Conqueror who led the attacking Normans. The Normans won the war and ruled England up to the year 1485.
Viking swords were usually broad and short. The blades were for chopping, not stick. In battle, the blow was aimed at the head, neck and shoulders.
The long ax was swung from top to bottom. They aimed at the head, neck and shoulders. But even if it was swung sideways during a field battle, it would be difficult to detect. The warrior who used the long ax stood without a shield. But there were no problems, as they could walk with shield-bearing swordsmen in front of them. The long ax was very long, hence the name.
A Viking army usually advanced in width. Then they seemed more than they really were. It used to scare the opponents a bit.
There was a special kind of warrior, who was called a “bearer”. They often had an inherited mental disorder that allowed them to get excited to an incredible rage, as they became incredibly powerful and did not feel any pain. Sometimes the bearers ate poisonous mushrooms, such as fly agarics, to help the madness on the stack.
Such people could hardly associate with ordinary people. The bearers stood in the front line and bit their shields when the rage came over them. When they then rushed forward, few were stupid enough to stay to fight them. Not even those who fought on the same side as the bearers came too close.
Before the Vikings became Christians, they worshiped the Asa gods. There were 15 known gods, and all were very human. These were Oden, Tor, Loki, Balder, Tyr, Heimdall, Frej, Freja, Njord, Skade, Vidar, Höder, Brage, Idun and Ull. These were human because they could quarrel, fight and make mistakes. They could even be killed. They believed that every god was the protector of an area.
They worshiped their gods by performing rites. The most common rite was called “blot”. It was about sacrificing to the gods. By “bloting”, the Vikings believed that they were giving strength to their gods. They were also “bloting” for luck in trade, happiness in love or battle. The three most important blots recurred year after year. These were the alva blot in October for a good harvest, the midwinter blot in January for good coming years and the victory blot to celebrate the arrival of spring. They sacrificed to the different gods depending on what they wanted. Various animals such as horses and bulls were killed and the blood was collected in bowls. Sometimes stallions were incited to fight against each other until one of them fell.
At the top of the food chain during the Viking Age were the chiefs. Then came the Earls. The third on the list were free men. Last on the list were the slaves. Among the free men you will find several occupational groups such as craftsmen, traders and farmers. A free man usually owned a farm with associated land for cultivation.
The Viking-age woman had a respected position in society. She was considered equal to her husband in almost everything. When the men were out traveling, the women took care of the household and the defense of the farm, if necessary.
In general, the Vikings can probably be considered as great romantics and gentlemen, as any other people. It was considered rude of a real Viking not to read a love poem to his wife from time to time.
The slaves had all snagged hair and simple white shirts. They were always the ones who did the hardest work in a household. A really hard-working slave could be elevated to “break”, and become the one who was the base for the other slaves.
The creation of the world
According to the Vikings, the world was created by sparks. They used to tell it through a fairy tale. It read like this: From the beginning, there were only two things, the burning land of Muspelheim in the south and the frozen Nifelhel in the north. Between these lay the gigantic void Ginnungagapet.
One day, ice from Nifelhel was hit by sparks from Muspelheim and from the melted water came two living creatures, the primordial Audhumla and the giant Ymer. Ymer fed on the milk from the primeval, otherwise he slept the most. From his armpits he sweated out terrible men and women, and his one foot bore a son with the other. All these strange creatures became the Rhymes, the frost giants, who then developed into several other giants. Audhumla licked a giant stone in front of the giant Bore. He was not as ugly or evil as Ymer’s children, and eventually managed to find a giantess with a similar disposition with whom he could form a family. Bore was the first ancient god. He has survived as “King Bore”, which is a symbolic name for the winter. His son Burr had the first three Asa gods, Oden, Vile and Ve. These brothers grew up in the Ginnungagapet with their nasty relatives the giants.
I have written a short summary about the Vikings due to the fact that they are a symbol of the Nordic countries, which is also snus. Actually, they both have nothing more in common than that. Snus did not exist at that time. One can not stop being captivated by the Vikings and how they lived.
Svea Tobacco has a bunch of snus varieties that refer to Vikings, so if you want to get a little sense of the time without having to loot, you can try these snus varieties.
Odens Original Portion
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Thunder Frosted Original Portion
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