The Vikings: A Short History
This concise history traces the 300-year saga of the pirates and warlords who poured out of Scandinavia between the eighth and eleventh centuries, terrorizing, conquering, and ultimately settling vast tracts of land throughout Europe. Undaunted by the might of the Arab caliphates and the Byzantine Empire, they founded Russia, originated the bloodline that came to rule France, and created a North Sea empire that included England. They also established settlements across the North Atlantic, notably in Iceland and Greenland, and their adventurous spirit and extraordinary seafaring skills led them to explore and briefly build colonies in North America. These were the Vikings, initially ferocious pagan warriors seeking land and booty under the banners of their gods, but eventually belligerent Christian kings commanding vast armies. Martin Arnold provides a lively and accessible account of the early medieval period that became known as the Viking Age. Drawing on rich literary and archaeological source material, Arnold vividly illustrates the two faces of the Vikings: on the one hand, savage, greedy, and implacable; on the other, adventurous, innovative, and artistic.
Martin Arnold is Reader in Scandinavian Literature at Hull University. He is the author of The Vikings: Culture and Conquest and The Post-Classical Icelandic Family Saga. He was the historical consultant for the BBC Radio 4 series, The Viking Way (2006). He is currently co-authoring with Tom Shippey (The Road to Middle-Earth) Legends of Viking Heroes forthcoming from HarperCollins. He lives in Scarborough.
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