|The very word is synonymous with savage fighting skill, rapacious plunder, and sheer love of battle.For three centuries the Vikings plagued Europe with brutal, lightning-fast raids and full-scale invasions that terrorized entire populations and brought mighty kingdoms to their knees. These fierce warriors from the north spread panic, mayhem, and death from the icy Baltic to the sun-drenched Mediterranean and deep into the heart of the continent. Why, then, does the modern world view the Vikings in a far more positive light than the Huns, the Vandals, and other " barbarian" hordes?
In The Viking, the acclaimed author of The Knight delves deep into Viking history, culture, and accomplishments to create a complex portrait of these seafaring warriors, explorers, artisans, poets, nomads, and settlers.Alan Baker explains the forces at work behind the age of Viking expansion, tracks the evolution of Viking raids from isolated attacks to well-coordinated assaults, and documents their impact on European military and political history.
Baker s riveting account of Viking military exploits documents 300 years of Norse incursions in the British Isles, France, Spain, Italy, and elsewhere; reveals the tactical and strategic secrets behind their astonishing success; and examines the entire arsenal of Viking weaponry, from the pattern-welded sword to the dreaded longship. His stirring re-creations of battles large and small capture the full fury of these warriors in action, especially the berserkers crazed fighters whose fearsome battle frenzies were often as lethal to fellow Vikings as to the enemy.
As renowned for their intrepid seamanship as for their fighting skill,Vikings ventured farther into the Atlantic Ocean than any other mariners of their day actually reaching North America 500 years before Columbus. Baker chronicles the journeys of Eirik the Red, Leif Eiriksson, and many other Viking explorers.He also traces the eastward and southerly excursions of the Viking traders known as the Rus, who came to dominate the region surrounding the Volga river and unified and gave their name to Russia.
Viking religion, mythology, and culture were distinctly different from the Christian feudal system of central and western Europe.This comprehensive history includes a clear and fascinating introduction to the Norse gods and Viking concepts of the afterlife. It also examines the day-to-day realities of life in Viking settlements, including the role of women, rules of conduct, clothing and jewelry, free people versus slaves, and more.
The Viking brings these legendary warriors and seamen to vivid life with rousing tales of valorous battle, heroic adventure, and surprisingly humorous Viking antics. It is must reading for anyone interested in military history, European history, maritime history, or the history of pagan cultures.