They opened trade routes, founded magnificent cities and captured ancient hubs. The Saxons of England feared them but mocked their meticulous grooming habits. In short, they were pirates with style. This series follows the Vikings everywhere they went, revealing new discoveries that turn Viking history on its head and telling their incredible story through the eyes of privileged witnesses and the foremost experts on Viking warfare and way of life.
Their kings had names such as Svien Forkbeard or Eirik Bloodaxe, their ships plied the seas and rivers of half the globe. They were bloodthirsty warriors, but also traders and craftsmen. They were the Vikings. From Newfoundland to the Caspian Sea they robbed and traded fine furs and jewelry, slaves, weapons: anything that was worth something. They founded magnificent cities such as Kiev and Novgorod, and conquered ancient cities such as York and Naples. The Saxons of England feared them but mocked their clothes and grooming habits. In short, they were pirates with style.
The Viking era is the last of the great periods of barbarian attacks. It left Europe transformed, ripe for the rise of the new nations that marked the middle ages. Norsemen, another word for Vikings, conquered a quarter of France, half of England and a third of Italy. They founded cities and served as bodyguards to emperors in Constantinople while they pushed the frontiers of trade into Asia, exchanging walrus ivory and amber, furs and slaves for the fine gold and precious stones from southern lands. Their original homeland was the windswept north of Europe, the ragged and rocky fjords of Norway, the dark forests of Sweden and the bleak lowlands of Denmark. Their military technology was advanced – they built the first ever landing ships for their raids on England, their steel was better than any other, their hit-and-run tactics were invincible. Wherever they went, they spread terror and they ruled the lands they conquered with an iron fist.