This a gripping story of the last great Viking who is remembered most for his boast to the Saxons that he had come to conquer their land and ended up with just enough to contain his body. The full story is absorbing and goes some way to answering the question of where the Vikings went. – Most Highly Recommended.
NAME: God's Viking, Harald Hardrada, The Life and Times of the Last Great Viking FILE: R3150 AUTHOR: Nic Fields PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Vikings, Varangian Guard, Norway, Denmark, Scandinavia, England, Saxons, King Harold, King Harald Hardrada, campaigns, Mediterranean Europe, Battle of Stamford Bridge ISBN: 1-47382-342-0 PAGES: 366 IMAGE: B3150.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/s4cpq5a DESCRIPTION: This a gripping story of the last great Viking who is remembered most for his boast to the Saxons that he had come to conquer their land and ended up with just enough to contain his body. The full story is absorbing and goes some way to answering the question of where the Vikings went. – Most Highly Recommended. The history of the Scandinavian warriors and traders, who are known to history as the Vikings, seemed to come out of nowhere and, in little more than two hundred years, disappeared back there in one of history's great vanishing acts. That is really more a case of history being written badly by Saxons and Franks. Those Viking family sagas that were treated as secret history and handed down though the family heirs as a guide to future leaders, and as an account of those who had gone before, tell a much greater story. However the family sagas have been carefully maintained in privacy and only fragments have passed out of those families, most notably in being collected and used as inspiration by Sir Walter Scott for his writings, who collected the sagas of some of the Galwegian families. The first Viking traders set off from the Scandinavian lands much earlier and some family sagas appear to start in the early years of the first Century AD. Much of the trading and exploration voyages crossed the Baltic and followed the river networks south to the Black Sea and on to the Eastern Mediterranean. The traders also rode across what is now Russia and as far as China. They also sailed down the European coasts to Africa. In those early days their voyages were mainly trading trips in small vessels, or Knarrs, which were shorter but beamier craft, of greater freeboard, than the famous warships we know as the Longships. It is only relatively recently that archaeologists have begun to uncover artefacts that demonstrate the huge range of items traded by Vikings from vast distances beyond the Baltic. In the 8th Century, Vikings began to undertake more raiding voyages, finding Christian churches and monasteries rich sources of gold and silver. Some trading voyages turned to combat as trade negotiations continued on into armed exchanges. This was the point at which their neighbours started to take notice and English prayer books included prayers asking for deliverance from the Vikings. By the start of the 11th Century the Vikings had largely disappeared from history. The Golden Age for Vikings was less than two hundred years beginning in the latter half of the 9th Century. In reality the Vikings did not disappear, they integrated. England and Scotland have a very strong Viking heritage and the Normans were strongly of Viking stock. As the Vikings relied on verbal history, being economical with their writing, and built their ships and their homes in wood. Much of the evidence of them has disappeared. In recent years archaeologists have uncovered evidence of Viking settlements in North America and the first Vikings to arrive there may have reached what is now the New England coast of the USA as early as the 9th Century. Many mysteries remain, one intriguing mystery being the sunstone. The Vikings navigated using the compas and the sun wheel that are understood today. The compass may look different from the Viking compass but functioned in exactly the same way as a modern non-electric compass. The sun wheel may have fallen from favour for navigation at sea but was used commonly during WWII in the North African desert where the magnetic compass was unreliable. What the Vikings lacked was a time piece although there is some evidence that they used water and sand glasses. Their 'secret weapon' was the sunstone which could see the sun and the moon through cloud. Exactly what it was or how it worked is now lost to history unless an archaeologist uncovers one and finds out how to use it. Harald Hardrada lived at the end of the Viking period as it merged with the early Middle Ages. The popular image of the Viking is of a bloody pagan warrior and Hardrada was Christian but his history is every bit as colourful and the author has told his story very well. He served as a mercenary in the Varangian Guard and Vikings before him had served the Emperors in Constantinople long before his time, also serving as Princes of Golden Kiev which really meant they were members of a professional hired force protecting the local citizens.