The Vikings provides a concise but comprehensive introduction to the complex world of the early medieval Scandinavians. In the space of less than 300 years from the late eighth to the late eleventh centuries CE, people from what are now Norway, Sweden and Denmark left their homelands in unprecedented numbers to travel across the then-known world. Over the last half-century archaeology and its related disciplines have radically altered our understanding of this period, and beyond the stereotypical Viking raider we can now perceive a cosmopolitan mix of traders and warriors, craftsworkers and poets, explorers and colonists. Over the course of the Viking Age, their small-scale rural, tribal societies gradually became urbanised monarchies firmly emplaced on the stage of literate, Christian Europe. In the process they transformed the cultures of the North, created the modern Nordic nation states and left a far-flung diaspora with legacies that still resonate today.
This volume explores the society and economy, identity and world-views of the Scandinavian peoples, and their unique religious beliefs that are still of enduring interest a millennium later. The Viking expansion is discussed in detail, including analyses of its origin and consequences for a vast area stretching from the Asian steppe to North America, culminating in the long-term reshaping of Scandinavia itself. Written by one of the leading experts in the period, this book presents students with an unrivalled guide through this widely studied and fascinating subject, revealing the Vikings as a sophisticated civilisation of fundamental importance for the later course of European history.