The Viking Age is a period of European history spanning from 793 to 1066. It is best known for its seafaring culture and its raiding, trading and colonizing activities throughout Northern Europe. In this blog post, we'll delve into the Viking Age timeline - starting with the Vendée period that preceded it - to better understand why this era was so influential in shaping early European culture.
The Vendel period (550-793 AD)
The Germanic Iron Age, divided into a First Germanic Iron Age (marked by the entry of the Danes into history) and a Second Germanic Iron Age, is known in Sweden as the Vendel Period. This era saw a rapid expansion of trade in northern Europe and an increase in migration to new areas. During this period, Scandinavia also experienced dramatic social changes that had profound consequences for subsequent generations.
753 marks the start of the Viking Age with the founding of the first Swedish settlement Aldeigjuborg (now Staraia Ladoga) near Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 789 a raid was recorded on the Isle of Portland in England by Vikings from Norway, and in 793 the monastery of Lindisfarne in England was sacked by Vikings from Norway.
The Viking Expansion (793-850 AD)
In 793, three ships arrived on the island of Lindisfarne off the east coast of England, marking the start of what would become one of history's most famous eras: The Viking Age. From then on, the Vikings embarked on numerous expeditions to "discover" new lands beyond Scandinavia. They colonized Iceland around 870 and Greenland around 986. In total, the Scandinavian territories extend from Newfoundland in Canada to Baghdad in Iraq!
In 795 the Danish Vikings made their first attack on Ireland. In 799, there is mention of a Scandinavian fleet attacking and plundering a monastery on the Aquitaine coast at Noirmoutier.
Around 800, Irish colonists discovered Iceland and created trading posts in Skiringssall and Birka. 802 marks the establishment of the Vikings in the Orkneys, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, where they would remain until 1405. In 804, Charlemagne destroyed Slesvig (the capital), which caused many Danish ships to take refuge in England or Norway. In 825 there was an expedition to Constantinople where they pillaged its outskirts for three days before being driven off by Greek fire engines which hurled them from the high walls surrounding the port area of Constantinople.
In 834, King Godfred I established the Danelaw, which gave Jutland control of East Anglia and Northumbria; it is known as the "Great Heathen Army" which invaded England during this period (865-875). in 838, two groups went up the Seine, in France, and plundered the towns located on its banks, from Rouen to Paris. They also attack cities in Spain, such as Lisbon, Portugal, before moving on to Italy, sacking Pavia, Lombardy (841).
842: Looting of Jumièges and Quentovic (France).
The raids on these two ports mark one of the first recorded instances of Viking violence in continental Europe. Jumièges and Quentovic were two important free trading ports that linked Britain to Europe. By attacking them, the Vikings disrupted trade between Britain and mainland Europe. This is just one example of how their attacks have had far-reaching consequences across Europe.
843: Sacking of Nantes (France) and Battle of Messac (France).
In 843, Nantes suffered a particularly brutal attack from the Vikings of Vestfold who massacred the bishop and his parishioners before leaving with their booty. In the same year, Renaud de Nantes won a decisive battle against Hasting – an allied Viking chieftain – at Messac, with the help of Lambert, Count of Nantes, and the Breton chieftain Nominoë. This victory marks a turning point in French resistance to Viking incursions into their country.
844: Failed raids on La Coruña and Seville (Spain).
In 844, the Viking forces launched an expedition against Portugal but failed due to Portuguese resistance led by Alfonso III who managed to repel them thanks to superior tactics and better trained soldiers. The Vikings then attempted two raids on Spanish cities - La Coruña and Seville - but were once again repelled after encountering strong opposition from local forces loyal to King Ramiro I.
845 - Siege of Paris and sacking of Hamburg (Germany).
In 845, Paris was besieged by Viking forces led by Ragnar Lodbrok who demanded tribute from Charles the Bald in exchange for protecting the city from destruction. Charles eventually agreed to pay Ragnar 7,000 pounds a year for three years to prevent Paris from being sacked like so many other cities before it. In the same year, another successful raid took place in Hamburg (Germany) where the Vikings plundered the monasteries for gold and silver before returning home with their spoils.
The decline of the Vikings (850-1066)
The Viking Age ended after repeated military defeats forced many Scandinavian rulers to convert to Christianity, marking a break with their traditional values and beliefs. As Scandinavian kings adopted Christian traditions such as monogamy and pledged allegiance to major European powers like England and France, their political power waned over time until they were completely replaced by others. ruling families in 1066.
1066 - The Battle of Stamford Bridge and the Norman Conquest
The year 1066 marks an important turning point in the history of England, but also in that of the Vikings. On September 25, 1066, King Harald III Hardrada (successor to King Harold II) was defeated at Stamford Bridge by the forces of King Harold II.
It was the last major battle between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in England, until the invasion of William the Conqueror a few weeks later, on October 14, 1066, with his Norman army. This invasion marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain as well as the end of the Vikings' significant influence in England, but not their influence on other parts of Europe nor their warrior heritage. fierce throughout history!
1085 – Last attempt by the Danes to reconquer England
In 1085, the Danish king Canute IV attempted to reconquer England, controlled by Anglo-Saxon forces since Alfred the Great's victory at Edington in 878. This last attempt ended in failure with the death of Canute IV in St Albans. However, it is not without consequences: William I uses it as an excuse to launch his own conquest of England and begins what will be known as the Norman Conquest.
1103 - Norwegian King Magnus Barfot dies in Ireland
During his reign, Norwegian King Magnus Barfot extended Norway's influence across Europe. He launches several raids in Scotland, Wales and Ireland and even manages to conquer Dublin for a short time. In 1103 he died during an expedition to Ulster (Ireland), marking the end of Norwegian rule in Europe for many years to come.
1151-1153 - Looting of the eastern coasts by the Norwegian king Eystein Haraldsson
During the reign of King Eystein Haraldsson, Norway continued its expansionist policy with raids on the eastern coasts of Scotland and England, from 1151 to 1153. This policy was largely due to its desire for wealth and power and to his attempts to improve Norway's position in Europe. Unfortunately for Eystein, these campaigns ended in defeat for Norway when he was killed in battle against Scottish forces near Renfrewshire, Scotland.
1171 - Death of the last Scandinavian king Askulf Mac Torkil
After being driven out by the Anglo-Norman forces during the years 1170-1171, Askulf Mac Torkil tries one last time to reconquer his kingdom before succumbing to death by engaging in battle against them near Dublin (Ireland). With his demise, any hope of the Norse regaining control of Dublin or any other city lost during this period is gone.
1185 – The Normans launch a victorious expedition from Sicily to Salonica in the Balkans
After conquering Sicily in 1060-1091, Norman forces led by Roger II launched a victorious campaign from Sicily to Salonika (Greece) in 1185-1186, which allowed them to control much of the Greek coastline and coastal towns such as Corinth and Patras. This campaign marks an important turning point for the Norman power, whose influence extends beyond Italy, in other regions of Europe, notably in Greece and even in Anatolia (Turkey).
1263 - Death of Norwegian King Haakon Haakonsson in Orkney (Scotland)
The last great Viking chief is Haakon Haakonsson, who died during an attempted invasion of Scotland in 1263-1264, near Orkney (Scotland). His death marked the end of Norse rule over Northern Europe and the Viking Age, which began with the first recorded raid on the monastery of Lindisfarne in 793 AD and ended in 1263 AD when Haakon died fighting Scottish forces near the Orkney Islands (Scotland).
The Viking Age timeline begins with its predecessors, the First Germanic Iron Age and the Second Germanic Iron Age, and ends with lasting changes in Scandinavian culture caused by the widespread adoption of Christianity by the powerful rulers of this period. This abandonment of traditional Norse beliefs marked the decisive end of an era whose legacy lives on to this day through literature, art, architecture, language, music, etc. Website owners who want to incorporate some of Scandinavia's rich cultural heritage into their projects or content strategies need look no further than these historical roots!