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The Vikings - Pirates, Traders, Explorers Illustration

The Vikings
Exploration

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The Vikings were great sailers and adventurers. Their homeland was in Scandinavia, or modern day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The word Viking means a pirate raid. People who went raiding in longboats were referred as going "a-Viking".  Most Norsemen stayed in their village their whole lives. But some were adventurers. In the summer months, or perhaps even for years, they left their farms to their wives to manage, and went a-Viking, to raid and loot foreign villages. Mostly they followed the coastline of seas and rivers. They entered Russia, Britain, France, and Germany in search of treasure. Some never returned to their farms, which perhaps explains why women could get a divorce rather easily.

Looters: Viking invaders had especially good luck in Britain. The monasteries along the shoreline were filled with coins and jewels and other riches. The monks who lived in the monasteries did not have weapons. The Vikings emptied many a monastery of its treasures. The monks called the Viking invaders "Danes", even though the Vikings came from Sweden and Norway as well as Denmark.

Traders: Some Vikings were traders. Instead of looting, they set up a network of trading partners in Russia, France, and Germany.

Pirates:  Some Vikings became full time pirates, and made a living at stealing from others.

Explorers: One famous Viking explorer is Leif the Lucky. Leif and a small band of men sailed across the sea and landed in North America about 500 years before Columbus discovered America. For a while, there was a Viking settlement on the coast of North America. But the Viking settlers had many problems with the natives. They missed their homeland. They returned home.  

Viking Voyages (smithsonian, interactive)

Viking and Liking It (Time Warp Trio)

Viking Timeline of Exploration

Looting - Norse law & the difference between looting and stealing

Traders, Goods, Money

Leif the Lucky

Famous Viking Explorers

Eric the Red & his son, Lief Ericksson

Viking Longships

Viking Settlers

Viking Government