Graphic Organizer The Vikings changed Europe

Did the Vikings have a “softer side”?

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Did the Vikings have a “softer side”?

The Vikings excelled in the decorative arts — embellishing functional objects like swords and runic inscriptions, and crafting beautiful adornments, especially jewelry. Many Viking decorative motifs were adopted by the scribes who made illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages.

The idea that the Vikings introduced “democratic government” to places where they settled is largely a Romantic myth, but they did found the city of Dublin, among others.

It is also untrue that the Vikings were in any way more egalitarian toward women than the rest of the world at the time.

We often use — misuse? — the terms “Viking” and “Norman” interchangeably. Is there a difference?

Yes, the Normans were essentially the descendants of the original Vikings who settled in northern France and the Frankish natives of the region.

In your “On Point” interview you suggest that those who became Vikings were losers in their own land, because if they had succeeded as landowners and farmers, they would have stayed home. Is that right?

Not quite, but the Vikings were looking for opportunities that they didn’t have at home, and I think they were largely younger brothers who wouldn’t inherit property.

So the Vikings really didn't wear horns on their helmets?

No. That was the invention of the costume designer for the first production of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” in 1876.

Click here to listen to Winroth’s “On Point” interview.

Student Handout #4 – Primary Accounts of Viking Raids

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