Vikings (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Viking war bands drove the English and French to organize effective forces to counter Viking raids.
At the end of the eighth century, Scandinavian shipwrights combined a strong keel and mast with their flexibly built ships, which allowed raiders to plunder distant lands. Scandinavians were ruled by jarls, who were petty kings and chieftains. Each gathered a war band of warriors who had sworn to fight bravely, and in return, the jarl was to fight battles that would reward them with plunder and fame.
As each jarl sought to become king, his war band intimidated the locals and overwhelmed rival jarls. Some regional jarls became kingmakers because of the size of their personal armies. To provide fame and plunder, many jarls turned to raiding, which also attracted the best fighters. Olaf I Tryggvason of Norway was especially successful at this. In the 990’s, he raided England and thus created a powerful force that he used when he returned to Norway in 995 to claim the throne.
These Viking war bands were successful because of the mobility conferred by their ships. Successful opponents were those who fortified towns, cities, and bridges along...
(The entire section is 291 words.)
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