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CC Vikings Discussion Questions


PART 1: Answer the following prompt in 300 words. Based on the textbook and the sources below what do you think was the most significant legacy of the Vikings?

Abbo of Fleury: The Martyrdom of St. Edmund, King of East Anglia, 870 (Links to an external site.)

Three Sources on the Ravages of the Northmen in Frankland, c. 843 – 912 (Links to an external site.)

The Discovery of North America by Leif Ericsson, c. 1000 from The Saga of Eric the Red, 1387


Classmate 1 (Karson)

The Vikings are a fascinating people both for their pirate ways and unique customs, such as the burial of the men on boats underground. In the first document provided, Abbo of Fleury: The Martyrdom of St. Edmund, King of East Anglia, 870, Aelfric notes in a very positive manner about how King Edmund stood for Christianity, discusses issues with bishops he was “most intimate with,” and never gave up on professing the greatness of God until his death by the hands of the Vikings. The Vikings, however, are painted in an extremely negative light, and their way is actually more apparent through the lack of description about the group. In the passage, the Vikings are said to gain “victory in slaughter” stood out in the beginning paragraphs. To win by slaughter means that the Vikings outmatched their opponents in the areas they were invading. Later it is said that the leader of the Vikings, Ivar, “suddenly invaded the country, just like a wolf, and slew the people, men and women, and innocent children, and ignominiously harrassed innocent Christians,” which obviously points out that they were strong, determined, and not Christian. In the end, the tragedy of King Edmund stood as a test to the ferocious might of the Vikings following their word and non-stop attacking until the gentle king was dead.

The following document provided, Three Sources on the Ravages of the Northmen in Frankland, c. 843-912, with the first part being “from the Annals of St. Betin,” tell of the origins, habits, and methods of the Vikings. The Annals are essential because the text shows the Vikings were attacking just about everyone in sight around Europe. Also, the Vikings are, as described, “Danish pirates,” which cements their brutality and dedication to their way of life. Next, the most significant part of Abbo’s Wars of Count Odo with the Northmen in the Reign of Charles the Fat is the Vikings are yet again dedicated to attacking what they set their eyes on (and that they can be bought). The third part within the second document is arguably the most important because even after the Vikings are converted to Christianity, they continue to show their power by Rollo and his men improving their country and land.

Lastly, The Discovery of North America by Leif Ericsson, c. 1000 from The Saga of Eric the Red, 1387, shows the significant straight of the Vikings’ dedication but in a different area of activities. Leif Ericsson and the others made discussion, travel, and discovery critical.

Classmate 2 (Paul)

In many ways, the Vikings behaved as the nomadic Scythes of antiquity. In this sense, the Vikings entered the scene as raiders and bandits – using modern sea craft instead of Siberian horses. The Viking’s legacy in history can be separated into two parts: a European influence and a “New World” influence. Both influences served as a “testosterone shots” into lackadaisical medieval societies that changed them forever.

In the case of Europe, the Vikings took advantage of the soft underbelly of the Frankish Empire to claim land and social influence. Ancient England, called Anglia, under the peaceful and Christian rule of King Edmund was suddenly attacked by “the Danes with ship armies” as stated in The Martyrdom of St. Edmund. The King was killed as a martyr by Ivar, who was the Viking’s leader. While King Edmund became a post humus Saint by staying true to his Christian philosophy of “If I die, I live”, his kingship’s lack of preparation served notice to future raiders.

We see similar examples in lack of defensive preparation within continental Europe where Vikings used fast boats to invade port and river cities. The Three Sources on the Ravages of the Northmen in Frankland cite ten attacks over sixteen years. These towns were all sitting ducks and ravaged by the Vikings. This series of attacks ended in 912 with a meeting between the Vikings and King Charlemagne himself. Amazingly, Charlemagne paid ransom to Rollo, the Viking leader, with land in the Norman region. Even more amazingly, Rollo and his Viking followers converted to Charlemagne’s Christianity and ruled as the new Norman Duke with Christian rituals. Enter a new ethos in Europe: Viking mentality with Christian values.

The Viking’s New World influence had a different influence on history. Not because they were the first to discover Greenland or North America as this was mostly disconnected from European history – a side show. Rather, they were the first western contact with eastern native Americans. These interactions likely served as narrative stories among the native Americans on the existence of “foreigners” and their ways and weapons. This also surely caused them to prepare for future threats from invaders.

PART 3: Answer the following prompt in 300 words. Based on your readings below did the Mongols or the Vikings have a greater impact on Eurasia. Why?

Risala: Ibn Fadlan’s Account of the Rus

Three Sources on the Ravages of the Northmen in Frankland, c. 843 – 912


Classmate 1 (Jeremy)

The Vikings and the Mongols were both powerful groups on the outer edges of Europe which played large roles on society in Europe. The Vikings, infamous for their costal raids, laid siege upon many cities in Europe and held large influence after numerous raids. They peculiarly did not raid for colonialism or nation building, but to rather bring back their spoils to live off of and gain riches.

Now the Mongols were also a nomadic tribe of people who gain control over large amount of lands in a short period of time through sweeping conquest. Genghis Kahn was the most powerful and well known of these people. He was able to become the leader of all Kaans after gaining influence over all the people in the region through helping the poor. They created a single nation underwhich a large number of people lived under, but were largely disjointed. Marco Polo recounted on one of his treks in the region the magnificance of the messenging system the mongols used to spread information. He also talks about how he helped trade flourish in his kingdom with the use of a single universal currency which can be bought with riches.

Both played major roles in how Europe was shaped, but both had completely different results. The Vikings were a common foe of Europe, they raided and plundered and as a result Europe became more militaristic in order to defend from these attacks. While they were not gaining riches from invading they remained to themselves and did not have much interest in making Europe a better place. Meanwhile the Mongols sought conquest and made it a goal to improve upon the systems already in place. They improved the conditions for the poor providing a more fair system which relies on effectiveness for leadership instead of hereditary status. and they also made trade easier within their empire. Both had large roles, the Viking were mostly negative, and the Mongols were mostly positive; but in this case the positive had more of an effect long term than the negative.

Classmate 2 (Jessica)

I believe the Mongols had a greater impact on Eurasia. Although the Vikings set up important trading cities, they were mainly relegated to the coastlines, whereas the Mongols covered such a vast interior territory, and with impressive consistency over the entirety of the empire. The sources of Marco Polo’s that we read give us great examples of how they were able to do so. In “Chapter XXVI How the Khan’s Posts and Runners Are Sped Through Many Lands and Provinces” Polo gives us great insight into how the empire was able to quickly and efficiently dispatch news throughout their dominion. “And in this way the Emperor, who has an immense number of these runners, receives despatches with news from places ten days’ journey off in one day and night; or, if need be, news from a hundred days off in ten days and nights; and that is no small matter!” In this way, they were also able to quickly transport fresh foods over great distances where they otherwise would have gone bad over that same range. This must have partially helped to reinvigorate trade along the Silk Road, which proved to be another form of power for the Mongols, as they were able to put taxes on traded goods. How they managed money across Eurasia also had a great impact. In “Chapter XXIV. How the Great Khan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made Into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money Over All His Country” Polo explains how Khan was able to regulate a standard form of currency throughout the entirety of the Mongol territory. “With these pieces of paper, made as I have described, he causes all payments on his own account to be made; and he makes them to pass current universally over all his kingdoms and provinces and territories, and whithersoever his power and sovereignty extends.”


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