Norsemen in the Viking Age

Christiansen, Eric
Date published: 
March 2006

Histories of the Vikings have recently tended to emphasize political or social transitions. Eric Christiansen separates the Nordic peoples from the organizing principles which others have used and attempts to describe life in their homelands and colonies in terms of more, or less, ingenious responses to hostile environments at home and overseas. Guiding readers past some traditional and current controversies surrounding the Norsemen in the period 750-1050, the author discusses twelve key topics. After a survey of the ecology, social conventions and self-awareness of individuals and groups, he moves on to cover the major areas of Norse activity; politics, war, work and migration. The final chapters reconstruct viking-age ideas about the past, present and future in order to offer insight into contemporary behavior. Runic, poetic, and archaeological evidence is used to illustrate the author's arguments, whilst an appendix sketches the outline of modern research and the directions it is taking.