A Brief History of the Vikings (Brief Histories) Paperback – 15 Sep 2005
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The last pagans or the first modern Europeans? A consice history of the Vikings
From the Back Cover
'From the Fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord.'
Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Scandinavian homeland to trade, raid and invade along the coasts of Europe. Their influence and expeditions extended from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans?
This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual magic, genetic profiling and climatology. It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe to Saint Olaf, and King Canute to Leif the Lucky. It explains why the Danish king Harald Bluetooth lent his name to a twenty-first century wireless technology; which future saint laughed as she buried foreign ambassadors alive; why so many Icelandic settlers had Irish names; and how the last Viking colony was destroyed by English raiders.
Extending beyond the traditional 'Viking age' of most books, A Brief History of the Vikings places sudden Scandinavian population movement in a wider historical context. It presents a balanced appraisal of these infamous sea kings, explaining both their swift expansion and its supposed halt. Supposed because, ultimately, the Vikings didn't disappear: they turned into us.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
After an introductory chapter on Norse myths and belief systems, Clements has adopted a broadly geographical approach to his subject. Thus there are chapters on Viking expeditions west to Greenland and the fabled Vinland, and on their remarkable ventures down the rivers of Russia to Byzantium and Baghdad. In between there are chapters on the succession of raids on the British Isles that led to Danelaw in the eastern half of England, and a running theme of the way factionalism played out in what we today know as Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
If at times the fighting, betrayals and inter-marrying threaten to blur in the mind, that's just the way Viking history is - complicated. Yes, there are a few typographical errors, but nothing to justify the reaction of some reviewers here. Clements writes with commendable style and humour and includes a proper index and bibliography. The handful of photos aren't especially enlightening, but are well reproduced and, best of all, Clements has included dynastic tables for each kingdom that are a considerable help in unscrambling people and dates.
Not introductory, then, so much as a short book containing all the average non-specialist reader will want to know about the Vikings and their impact on our history and imagination.
Clements also explains well the gradual conversion to Christianity and the long period of its coexistence with the older, and widely tolerated paganism. He is dryly amusing on how deeply converted some of the rulers were. In any event the guiding principle of Viking royal family life seemed to be that if one's brothers or father were still alive then one fought them; if they were dead then one avenged them. It was all very clear cut.
However the book is let down by some appalling typographical errors: mis-spellings, repeated phrases and just plain gibberish. The reader can, I think, always work out what is meant, but one shouldn't have to put up with this in the first place.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK if you dont want to get bogged down with too much detail. Notes at the back if you wan to know morePublished 9 months ago by mr roger j parkhouse
We chose not to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre when we were in York so I took the opportunity to plaster over a few of the gaps in my Viking history knowledge by downloading A... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Stephanie Jane
It is a good book to read whilst one is traveling around the Fjords on a cruise ship.Published on 20 July 2014 by Mr. RCH VASEY
A fantastic product, exactly what you wish for. Its defiantly worth all the money you buy it for, you couldn't find it cheaper anywhere else!Published on 21 Jun. 2014 by mrs m j selsby
I wanted to like this book, but I found it a bit boring wading through it. On the good side, it is crammed with facts and info - the author is obviously very knowledgeable, but I... Read morePublished on 9 May 2014 by Andrew Davis
Didn't enjoy this book that I was looking forward to reading it didn't give enough insight into the battles for my likingPublished on 24 Feb. 2014 by Neil