According to Bentley and Ziegler's Traditions & Encounters how did the Viking invasions influence the rise of Europe?

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The Vikings invaded Europe around AD 793 and contributed toward the evolution of English culture in a number of ways. Firstly, this invasion attributed to the rise of Christianity in England—as the European reaction to the invasion promoted nationalistic cohesion in defense of European culture at the hands of the Vikings. As such, a unifying religious force was necessary to protect English culture. Surprisingly, the Vikings conformed to this religious influence and assimilated more or less cleanly—or more peacefully—into the English culture as a result of peripheral events detached from religion.

The Viking invasion also promoted feudalism in contrast to monarchism as the English found themselves more or less overwhelmed by the Viking intrusion and at the mercy of their military strength, so the move to feudalism made sense to both cultures as a means to avoid further warfare during this time.

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Bentley and Ziegler make it clear that, in the short-term, frequent Viking invasions seriously undermined the stability of the Holy Roman Empire. Along with hordes of Magyars—modern-day Hungarians—and Muslim invaders from the south, the Vikings greatly contributed to the ultimate dissolution of the Empire. This despite the fact that Charlemagne had divided up his increasingly unwieldy Empire into three kingdoms in the hope that it would make it more manageable to govern.

Yet in the long-term, the Vikings' rapid assimilation into the territories they invaded and conquered conduced to the stability of Europe as a whole. It was the Norsemen whose descendants, the Normans, became the ruling class of both France, and after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, England. The dukes of Normandy were fiercely independent and it was this independence that provided a serious long-term challenge to centralized power, both secular and spiritual. Yet paradoxically it was also the Normans' independence that strengthened Europe by providing the basis for the rise of the nation state, which contributed greatly to the continent's becoming a major military and economic power.

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The Viking invasions of Europe influenced the rise and development of Europe in two important ways.  To be precise, it was the reactions of the Europeans to the Viking invasions that were more important than anything the Vikings themselves did.

First, Viking raids, and the reaction to them, helped to establish the idea that Christianity was a central part of the European identity and civilization.  (I have the brief edition of Bentley and Ziegler and this is not mentioned there.  However, it is mentioned in other texts from which I have taught.)  AS the Vikings settled in Europe, they became Christianized.  As this happened, they assimilated into European civilization (as, for example, the Normans did).  This showed that Christianity was a major force in creating a European civilization.

Second, Viking raids helped lead to the rise of feudalism, the political system that was to dominate Europe for centuries.  As the Vikings raided, they exposed the weaknesses of centralized monarchies.  The kings could not do anything to stop the Vikings and the local people became less reliant on those kings.  Instead, they turned to local aristocrats who could do more to provide security against the Vikings’ lightning-fast attacks.  When this happened, the local aristocrats came to have more power.  Over time, the increases in their power developed into the system of feudalism where local lords held a great deal of power and ruled their localities for the king to whom they owed allegiance.

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