In the 8th century, the people of Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden found it difficult to produce enough food for their needs. The typical landscape of the Vikings included rocky lands, long winters, steep mountains and fjords which made farming a challenge. While many Vikings were modest farmers and shepherds, it was challenging to find enough land to sustain everybody. It is during this period that Scandinavians, who later became known as Vikings/Northmen, began to send out raiding troops in search of food and booty.
The word "Viking" literally means "people of the bay" however; it is primarily translated to "pirates." The term Viking was used mostly to illuminate the Scandinavian people raiding activities than the people themselves. While the Vikings got their reputation from the plundering tribes that hunted for better and more hospitable lands; this does not deter most Vikings from seeing the behavior of these select few as the redemption of their community. This was due to the fact that if they failed to secure new lands upon which their people could settle, those at home would starve.
It is also possibly that as a result of the daily happenings, the Viking people did reward aggressiveness and violent qualities in their children greatly. There are people who witnessed horrifying incidences during their travels through the Viking territories and even wrote accounts of what they saw. for instance, if you read these accounts, you will be shocked to see a mother praising her son for using an axe to brutally slaughter a rival tribes child.
Not only were Viking Children, both boys and girls encouraged to fight, but there was also some special preparation and training involved. Before a fight, the Vikings usually took a psychedelic stimulant that allowed them to fight with virtually super-human endurance, vigour and fearlessness. Accounts of the Vikings' mercilessness and skill at battle is what struck great fear in the hearts of everyone who heard about Vikings fighters and their raids.
In other places, the Slavic society's name for Vikings was 'Rus,' which means 'rowing men.' Viking control of the Slavic river set-ups was so widespread that the area became known as 'Russia.' When some Vikings discovered the great quality of the land in the European region, they decided not to return to Scandinavia.
At the beginning of the 10th century, Europe was at the climax of the purported Viking' age. The Viking era essentially refers to the period that the Scandinavian pirates, merchants, explorers and warriors explored, pulverized and traded in numerous parts to stay in Europe. Scandinavian seafaring warriors from the countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden had made invasions in the Slavic regions and northern Europe, as well as infiltrated as far as the North American continent where Normans later settled, and Asia Minor. In many regions, these Nordic plunderers had finished their raiding and had become both colonists and traders.
In the year 911, a Viking attack fleet under the command of the famous Hrolf the Ganger - Ganger meaning "walker" - a name given to him due to his height as apparently; Hrolf was relatively tall and long-legged for the era and no horse was huge enough to transport him, arrived at the Seine Valley. Determined to strip the region of its value. At this time in history, France, as is presently known, did not exist. The area was divided into countries and duchies that owed just some minor loyalty to the Frankish King Charles II, also known as Charles the Simple.
The Vikings who remained in France came to be known as the Northmen, Normans, their descendants later settling New France. Hrolf the Ganger was among the first great Norman leaders. A fierce battle in 911 between the French and the Normans brought about a peace settlement agreement. It appears as if Charles came to the conclusion that he could not match up against the Danish raiders on a military level and reasoned that he could buy them off; which was actually very common in the European region when it came to Viking invaders. However, instead of King Charles II offering the Danes silver and gold (how the term "Danegold" came into being); the Northmen were granted ownership of their own lands on the French coast in exchange for their leader, Hrolf becoming a Christian. Hrolf and his army were given the land around Rouen; an act that can be viewed as a relatively sensible decision by the king given that the region was already under Hrolf's control and King Charles II the Simple had no actual means to displace the invaders.
Hrolf converted to Christianity in 912 and accepted to be baptized, and had his name changed to Rollo in the process. Consequently, Rollo the Ganger successfully became the first Duke of Normandy - the land of the Northmen. The Vikings intermarried with local communities and progressively adopted the French language. Unsurprisingly, Rollo and his followers had assumed the Franks' laws, language, customs, religion, warfare tactics and political organization within two generations. It is during the reign of Duke Rollo that the local expression for the "Norsemen" gradually changed to "Norman" and this pretty much stuck henceforth. They had turned into Franks wholly by name, for they were known as Normans people of Normandy the land of the Northmen or Nordmanni. They at times fought for the French king, however; they still maintained their independent state and chose to follow their own leader who was popularly known as the Duke of Normandy.
The Nordmannis' adoration of the sea and their drive led to the commercial prosperity that they greatly enjoyed. By mid11th Century, the land of the Northmen, Normandy had risen to being one of the most influential states in Christendom. While the Normans enjoyed immense success as farmers, they still felt the urge to invade other lands. It is their desire for conquest, together with inadequate obtainable land that led most of the Vikings to pursue military goals in foreign countries: from Spain (fought the Moors); to Byzantium where they fought the Turks; and in 1061 to Sicily where they fought the Saracens; not forgetting 1066, when they invaded England and set it on the path of domination. The main reason for all these conquests being their unwavering belief in primogeniture - that when a Norman died all his property was to be inherited by his eldest son. This always led to younger sons departing from their paternal homes to go in search of their own lands and subsequent wealth.
Having converted to Christianity, the Normans feared that when they died, God would punish them for the crimes they had committed such as stealing land. In a bid to protect themselves and alleviate their guilty conscience, the Northmen used some of the loot obtained from their invasions to construct monasteries and, of course, churches. Their leaders also went on pilgrimages to the Holy Lands.
Vikings were also excellent merchants as they had garnered lots of experience in their trading excursions in almost every part of the world. It is believed that those that lived in Franc and England were very influential when it came to shaping their destinies. Vikings are also popularly known as Norsemen. When traveling, they used their longships as they traveled around the earth in places such as Iceland, Russia, Greenland, and Newfoundland. The Viking Era/Age was the period of growth for the Danish Vikings. Their activities have played a significant part in shaping the history of Scandinavia, Ireland, Britain, Normandy, Brittany and several other parts of Europe.
The Vikings have always been linked to Denmark which is, in reality, the Home of the Vikings. The Vikings are believed to have been in charge of the building of the Danish Kingdom as they advanced the history and culture of the said Scandinavian Country. The Vikings are bold people mainly because they have the "Barbaric North" Blood running through their veins.
Normans, the Viking Descendants were also believed to be predatory brutes that were capable of frightening merchants and traders in virtually every part of Europe. The Vikings are also particularly great at seafaring. With most of their houses placed along the coastlines of Denmark; they ensured that they either lived in small villages or huge fortresses where their longships could be seen. Apart from longships, the Viking families also lived in longhouses and stayed with their cattle in one large room.
The Vikings were also shrewd in domestic matters as well. They designed procedures for making a thin, extra-sharp and malleable sword that has never been duplicated ever since. Additionally, they also came up with a type of knitting that allowed one to cut a sweater and not get it frayed at the cut. This was particularly very useful for fishermen who sported the woolen apparel at sea and often tore their attire on fishing equipment.
The fifth Duke of Normandy was Robert the Devil, who died in 1035 while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He was a direct descendant/successor of Rollo the Ganger. Conventionally, the duke's eldest son became the next leader. In Robert's instance, this proved tricky as he had not produced any son's in his marriage. Nevertheless, Robert indeed had an illegitimate son known as William. After deliberations by leading Normans, it was decided that William, who was only 7 years old then, was to be crowned as the new Duke of Normandy.
For the next 12 years of his youth, the duchy was in an endless state of mayhem. The uprising of the barons came to a peak in 1047 when the entire lower Normandy came up against him. Then aged 20, William crushed the rebellion on the field of Vales Dunes, near Caen with assistance from his medieval overlord, Henry I of France. The castles of the defiant nobles were destroyed and the aristocrats never disregarded the duke's power ever again. By the time of William's great-great-great grandsons reign, also known as Duke William; The Normans had merged their rule over a vast area stretching from the Cherbourg peninsula to the River Somme.
As far as history is concerned, Normans are best known due to their conquest of England in the year 1066. While this mission was definitely an ego-boosting accomplishment, it was far from the first incident of Normandy expansion and conquest. Even before Duke William's arrival on the beach at Pevensey and subsequent fall on his face and cry, "I have the earth of England in my hands!" The Normans had already penetrated Southern Italy. You should, however, note that it is not conclusive as to the authentic source of this statement - it is not clear whether the statement was by Duke William himself or a different Norman knight in the raid force.
In 1066 when Duke Edwards the Confessor died, he left a faltering succession. The throne was taken by his chief lord, Harold Godwinson, who was hurriedly crowned. Within no time, Harold encountered two attacks - one from William, the Duke of Normandy and the other from Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway in collaboration with Tostig who was Harold Godwinson's brother. In September 1066, Harold Godwinson's managed to defeat the Norwegian attack at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He was however overpowered and slain shortly afterwards (on 14th October the same year) at the Battle of Hastings.
Afte the Victory, William became popularly renowned as The Conqueror. He brought a new nobility to England from Normandy, the land of the Vikings and some other parts of France. He also reinforced patrician lordship and moved on to the reorganization of the church. Even so, William was careful to reserve the great administrative mechanism that had differentiated the rule of previous Anglo-Saxon Kings. At William's demise, his lands were divided as follows: His first-born son, Robert took control of Normandy, while his second-born son, William Rufus, became king of England.
Rufus' strength lay in effectively dealing with the revolts, including the threat of his elder brother, Robert whom he defeated during an attack of Normandy; and went on to maintain the dominant kingship of his late father. Vikings ruled England for three centuries (300 years). This is why so much of their language influenced English. Normandy sovereignty was retained until 1144 when it was attacked and conquered by Count Geoffery of Anjou. The dukedom was this incorporated into the Angevin Empire which lasted until 1204 when King Phillip employed military force in bringing Normandy back into the French circle, together with Touraine, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, and Poitou. And for the first time in three hundred years, Normandy was again under Noble rule.