The Vikings were Norse seafarers, who traveled the ocean trading and raiding to their hearts content. They sailed all over Europe and although they were mostly traders, they were also pillagers and Viking warriors are known to be some of the most ferocious. All Viking men were required to own weapons, and were permitted to carry them at all times. Many Viking warriors would use axes which was strange for the time. They would also use swords and spears. At the start of a battle Viking warriors would fire off arrows but would normally switch to swords later. This was because bows and arrows were less honourable than swords.
Eric killed anyone who got in the way of him achieving power, which meant murdering all but one of his brothers. This slaughter earned him the nickname “bloodaxe”. Eric’s only living brother was Haakon. He likely never killed Haakon because he was his younger brother, however this may have been a mistake. Haakon tried to claim the throne for himself, and Eric was forced to escape to the British Isles. Eric was said to be a harsh dictator and the nobility quickly grew to despise him. They were the ones who convinced Haakon to take the throne for himself. Even though Eric had been driven from his kingdom he was still a badass and managed to become king of Northumbria, twice.
He ousted his father from the throne, and became King of Denmark. Sweyn continued fighting until he was also king of England and Norway. Forkbeard invaded England from the years 1002-1005, 1006-100, and 1009-1012. This was because England made the mistake of committing the St. Brice’s Day massacre, a massacre which killed Forkbeard’s sister and half brother. Forkbeard was largely unsuccessful in his first campaign. He had to abandon the first raid due to a famine, and ruefully returned to Denmark. The second raid went much better. Northumbria, the Kingdom of Lindsey, and the people of the Five Boroughs all bowed to him. He then took over Oxford, and Winchester, before running into challenges in London. London managed to hold it’s ground as a Viking leader defected to their side. However they eventually caved, and Sweyn was declared King of England.
Ragnar Lodbrok is one of the most famous Viking warriors. When he was 15 he killed a room full of snakes while wearing a pair of trousers made from animal skins. Doing this earned him the nickname “hairy breeches”. Ragnar is said to be descended from Odin himself. Leading 120 Viking ships he sailed up the River Seine to raid France. It was his most famous raid, and he had to be paid 7,000 French Livres to leave Paris after he had conquered it. He died when a raid into English land went wrong, and he was captured by an English king. Lodbrok was executed by being thrown into a pit of Vipers.
Ivar The Boneless
He was the son of Ragnar Lodbrok. Ivar was famous for not having any bones. This is said to be because of a curse put on him. His mother was Ragnar’s third wife who was said to be a witch. Ragnar was apparently told that he couldn’t sleep with his new wife until the third night of their marriage, but unfortunately he didn’t keep to this. It’s also possible that he suffered from a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta. A common disease among the British isles, it can cause people’s bodies to bend in ways that make it look as if they don’t have any bones. Although Ivar was boneless, he was not useless, and is said to have been wise, and adept at strategy.
Egil was a poet, farmer, and warrior from the Viking age. As Viking warriors go Egil was one of the most bloodthirsty, and one of the hardest to kill. He first killed someone as a child when he had been cheated during a game. He would kill people if they offended him, and eventually killed a friend of King Eric Bloodaxe, and his wife. They spent the rest of their life trying to get revenge. However Egil slew every man they sent to kill him. Eventually Egil found his way in front of Bloodaxe, and his wife, and asked for their forgiveness.
They refused and decided that in the morning he would be executed. It was not Egil’s fighting prowess that saved his life here, but his poetry. Before he was executed Egil recited a 20 stanza poem, which was so beautiful that the King and Queen forgave him for his crimes, and let him keep his life.
Ironside famously raided an Italian town, by pretending to be dead and organising his own funeral. As his men carried his coffin up to the city, and through the gates, he waited until they were through the gate before jumping out, and killing anyone in his way. He killed his way back to the gate, and opened it from the inside, allowing his awaiting army to pour inside, and raid the city.
Cnut The Great
Cnut wrote a letter to the people deeming himself “King of all England, and Denmark and the Norwegians, and some of the Swedes”. He conquered England in 1016, and Denmark in 1018. 10 Years later he became king of Norway in Trondheim, and eventually he owned the Swedish city Sigtuna.
Eric The Red
Eric founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland. He was probably nicknamed “The Red” because of the colour of his hair. Although other Norsemen had attempted to colonise Greenland, Eric was the first to do it successfully. Eric sailed out to a landmass he knew almost nothing about, and managed to find a part that was free of ice. He spent three years there exploring the island, while he was exiled.
Gunnar was one of the few ambidextrous Viking warriors. In battle he could kill equally well with either hand, and never missed a shot with his bow. Eventually he was killed in blood feud after killing two people from the same family.
Lone Viking At Stamford Bridge
Vikings exhausted from recent raids were resting at Stamford bridge, enjoying the spoils of victory. Suddenly they were ambushed by the English army of King Harold Godwinson who had marched 180 miles in four days to meet them in battle. The majority of the Vikings were either slain or fleeing, however there was one lone Viking who halted the entire British army. A giant Norse axeman blocked the narrow strait stopping the English from being able to cross the bridge. This one axeman managed to cut down 40 British soldiers alone. He was only defeated when a devious soldier, snuck under the bridge and stabbed him through the wooden planks beneath him.
This last stand gave the other Vikings time to form a shield wall and hold out for hours against the English. Eventually the Vikings were overwhelmed, partly because they didn’t have any armour. It looked as if the Vikings were done for, but then reinforcements charged into the battlefield led by Eystein Orre. They had marched so far that some the men collapsed as soon as they reached the battlefield but the rest were ready to fight. They fought and died to try and protect their Viking brothers but ultimately they couldn’t win, and were defeated.