The Raiding Vikings

THE RAIDING VIKINGS

The exploits of the Vikings were on a grandiose scale. They embraced the whole of Europe. In the east these Northmen thrust down the great rivers of Russia to the Caspian and the Black Sea. In the west they sailed along the Atlantic coasts, past Arab Spain, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and so far and wide over in Mediterranean. Nor was this all. They reached out across the wild and unknown Atlantic, to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, and even to America. The direction each of the three Scandinavian lands faces, corresponds to, indeed determines, the sphere of influence its Vikings commanded.

The very names of the three countries are clues to their ancient history. Sweden is called in Swedish ‘Sverige’, derived from Old Norse Sviariki, the kingdom of the Sviar. It is not fortuitous that the very name of Sweden bears a reference to royal authority and kingship. As we have seen Sweden had a well-established monarchy long before the Viking Age. Denmark means the marc of the Danes, marc having earlier meaning of  ‘uninhabited border country’. In the present context the marc must be the region at the neck of the Jutland peninsula, the trackless waste south of the Danevirke, which divided the Danes from the Saxons in the south-west, the Danes’ marc, contracted to Danmark, came to be applied to the whole country. (1) When how much of Denmark’s history was connected with this disputed southern frontier territory of South Slesvig, it must be agreed that she was aptly named.

The name of Norway also has its old roots, different from those of Denmark and Sweden. Norway became a united kingdom at a much later date than its Scandinavian neighbours: when Harald Finehair imposed unity on its many independent tribes in the early part of the Viking period. Scandinavian romantic writers of the nineteenth century sometimes used the name-form ‘Norrige’, but this is only an invented name modelled on ‘Sverige’. Certainly Norway too has its marc, its northern border territory, ‘Nordmarken’, but this name was not applied to the whole of the country as happened in Denmark.

The name ‘Norge’ has a background of mercantile history, as is Norway’s extensive coast, from ore evident from its English and German forms, Norway, Norwegian. It manes the ‘North Way’, the trade route running along Skiringssal (on the west side of the Oslo Fjord) in the south, to the White Sea in the north. According to King Alfred, traders from the far north brought sealskins, pelts, and walrus teeth along this route. During the Viking Age Norway was often “Nordmannaland’, the land of the Northmen, but in the long run the significant mercantile name prevailed over the simple description of the land from its inhabitants.

A geographical factor determined the part each of the three Scandinavian countries played in the Viking raids. Right down the middle of the Scandinavian peninsula runs the long mountain range Kolen (the Keel), which forms the structural spine of the country. This range is mainly harsh, barren waste, and from the point of view of settlement divides the land into an eastward-looking and a westward-looking part.

The face of Norway was turned westward towards the great ocean and its many islands. It was principally the Norwegians, therefore, who took the lead in venturing on the vast and stormy North Atlantic with no knowledge of what might be beyond it.

Norway’s sphere of interest could be said to divide into two. The southern part, and the  first to be exploited, comprised the islands off the north of Scotland, which the Norwegians occupied at the beginning of the Viking period, gradually extending from them to the Scottish coasts, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and most of the coast bordering the Irish Sea – which during this period might justifiably have been called the Norwegian Sea. From these bases they penetrated deep into England, at times coming into contact with the Danes, and also into northern and southern France and so to the Mediterranean. France too was a region which Norwegians and Danes exploited side by side.

The second direction in which Norway’s sphere of interest developed was to the north – to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland – and the initiative in this development came from King Harald Finehair, who at the end of the ninth century brought most of Norway within his domain, and so forced many Norwegian nobles and free peasants to emigrate. These later Norwegian expeditions across the Atlantic were not in search of plunder, but were daring attempts at occupation of desolate and remote territory, made under special circumstances.

Sweden faces east. It is not necessary to dwell further on this basic point, as we have already dealt with its expansion across the Baltic in the early eighth century, and we shall see in a later chapter how its mercantile influence continued to penetrate through Russia and farther south to Byzantium and Arabia. Doubtless the Baltic was shared by the Swedes and the Danes.

South of the Scandinavian peninsula lies Denmark, consisting of the mainland of Jutland and numerous small islands. Jutland is physically joined to the central European continent, but in the Viking period the barren lands of south Slesvig separated Denmark proper from its southerly neighbours – the Saxons in the south-west and the Slavs in the south-east. Added to this natural barrier was the fact that the Vikings preferred to use the sea or rivers as ways of communication; which was the main reason why they expanded not south but south-west to England. The south-westerly advance of the inquisitive and adventurous Danes took them further along the whole coastline of France, forcing the Straits of Gibraltar and, together with the other Scandinavian peoples, right through the Mediterranean.

The Viking raids were inspired by several motives. On that account a mere chronological account of them would produce an obscure and contradictory pattern, and an attempt must therefore be made to classify them according to their varying motives and objectives. The Swedish scholar, Fritz Askeberg, has proposed a fourfold classification:

(1) Pirate raids conducted by individuals.

(2) political expeditions.

(3) Colonizing ventures.

(4) Commercial penetration.

Such a division, as Askeberg himself points out, cannot be universally applicable, and many of the raids doubtless proceeded from mixed motives. But, so long as it is remembered that this classification is in no sense a chronological one, it serves to put the Viking period into perspective.

The first category, that of private acts of privacy, is the least interesting, although it is probably the one which first come to mind when we think of the more popular tales about the Vikings. One Norwegian historian has claimed that these raids were genuine feats of exploration, and that the plunder acquired was no more than legitimate foraging, but this view approaches the naive. Raids of this kind were numerous throughout the Viking period, but a few typical examples deserve mention. The best-known, and also the earliest recorded, of these raids in the west is the plundering and destruction in 793 of the church and monastery on the tiny defenceless island of Lindisfarne, just off the Northumbrian coast. On this Holy Island St Cuthbert had worked as abbot and bishop over a century earlier. Lindisfarne was a daughter-house of the famous Iona in the Hebrides, and widely renowned in the Christian world as one of England’s most sacred places of pilgrimage. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates that terrifying omens – lightning and flying dragons – which were witnessed in 793 were followed by famine, and that shortly after these dolorous events, in June, heathens fell upon the island community and pillaged God’s house there. These heathens were Norwegian Vikings who slaughtered some of the monks, and robbed and burned the monastery. Alcuin, the, famous Northumbrian priest and scholar, who was at the time in the service of Charlemagne in France, wrote in horror to King Athelred of Northumbria and to his colleagues in England that the murderous raid was God’s punishment for the sins of the people. He found a further ominous portent in the rumour that during Lent drops of blood had fallen from the roof of St. Peter’s Church in York. He lamented that one of Christianity’s nobles shrines in England, St. Cuthbert’s church, should have been desecrated by the heathens – such a thing had not been thought possible – and implored god to save his country. This resounding and bloody deed served as a suitable prelude to Viking aggression in western Europe.

During the restoration of the ruins of the twelfth-century priory on Lindisfarne, English archaeologists found a curious carved stone apparently dating from soon after the assault on the earlier monastery and illustrating the dreadful event. On one side of the stone were carved the various symbols of Christianity: the cross, the sun and the moon, God’s hands, and worshippers at prayer. On the other side the attackers are seen, swinging their swords and battle-axes as they advance in single file, dressed outlandishly in thick jerkins and narrow trousers. This stone from Lindisfarne is a poignant monument – carved, perhaps, by some Anglo-Saxon monk who witnessed this early example of Viking pillage?

At the end of the eighth century, and the beginning of the ninth, many similar Norwegian raids took place on northern England, on Scotland, and on Ireland. some of these forays, known from literary sources, seem to have been launched from what is now Scottish soil: from Caithness and the Shetlands, the Orkneys, and the Hebrides. Archaeological evidence suggests that, when the Viking raids began, the islands were already to some extent colonized by Norwegians, who had presumably found them virtually uninhabited. They were consequently situated as bases for raids down either side of Scotland and records of several such assaults can be found in the chronicles. In 794 there was an attack on the monastery at Monkwearmouth (near Sunderland); where, incidentally, the Vikings ran into a disastrous storm which cost them heavy loss of life. In 795 there were descents upon St. Columba’s monastery on Iona, and the little Irish of Rechru (Lambay). during this year the Norwegians also raided the coast of Wales. In 797 they plundered Kintyre in Scotland, and St. Patrick’s Isle, Isle of Man. In 802 and 806 they revisited Iona and again laid it waste.

Such were the first pirate raids, which reached their peak in the ninth century. They were mainly carried out by lesser chieftains rather than by kings and earls, who had bigger objectives in mind. The Norwegians began them, but the Danes and Swedes soon followed suit. These minor raids were continued throughout the whole of the Viking period.

‘Political Expansion’

As an example of Viking activity in this section, Askeberg names the military operations carried out at the beginning of the ninth century by the Danish King Godfred, partly to the south-east against the Slavs (the Wends and Obotrites) of the Baltic coasts, partly south-east against Friesland, that is, against Charlemagne. Godfred is said to have moved the Slav town of Reric (probably in Mecklenberg) to the head of the Slie Fjord in Slesvig, and shortly before his death in 810 he launched a sudden and well-planned attack on Friesland, a province of Charlemagne’s empire. With a fleet of two hundred vessels he broke through the coastal defence and occupied the country, imposing on it a tribute of 200 pounds of silver. This was no pirate raid and equally it was not a colonizing venture (although as mentioned earlier it is often difficult to distinguish between the two). it was calculated and sudden warfare aimed at the conquest of territories which were politically and commercially valuable to King Godfred.

‘Colonization’

The biggest Viking campaign in the west were, however, undoubtedly motivated by a colonizing impulse, and it is these which give the great demonstration of power of the Viking period. They occurred in the latter half of the ninth century and the beginning of the tenth, being resumed in the early part of the eleventh century. Although the leaders were predominately Danish and Norwegian, Swedes also played their part in them. During this large parts of northern France, England, and Ireland, were occupied and ruled by the Vikings. The invasions were usually led not by heads of state, but by men of high rank. These leaders often held equal powers, with no one supreme commander. The Vikings insisted on this equality. When the Franks on the River Eure asked the Vikings who their leader was they answered in the famous words ‘We are all equals!’ (2) It was invasions of this kind which penetrated to Hamburg and to Paris; which under the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, reached England, and, under Rollo, northern France; meanwhile Norwegian Viking chiefs attacked Ireland. The usual method adopted was for the armies to occupy base camps along the coast during the winter months, and in spring to advance towards their goal; the colonization of the invaded country. Within the category of colonization expeditions must be included the previously mentioned Norwegian voyages into the Atlantic, to the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. Here, however, there was no need to fight for colonies; it was simply a question of taking up land which was almost or completely unoccupied.

‘Commercial Expansion’

The fourth and final type of Viking activity comprises the journeys in search of new trading opportunities. Little information survives about those to the west, but a great deal about those to the east. Swedish scholars insist that the immense outburst of activity from Viking Sweden to the south and south-east was directed to commercial ends. The mercantile pressure maintained by the Vikings through three hundred years, and the political significance of their activities during this period, will be considered more closely in a later chapter.

‘Origin of the Word Viking’

In a book about the Vikings it is natural to try to establish the actual meaning of the word ‘Viking’.

It is reasonable to suppose, although the evidence is not conclusive, that the word is of Norse origin, because it is rarely used in contemporary literary sources outside Scandinavia: the Frankish annals use the word Normanni, the Anglo-Saxons call them Dani, and although these terms certainly refer respectively to Norwegians and Danes it seems from the contexts that they were often used for Northmen in general. In German chronicles they are called Ascomanni, that is to say ‘ashmen’. because their ships were made of ash. In Irish sources they appear as gall (‘stranger’), or Lochlannach (‘northerner’0, and to the former were sometimes added the words ‘white’ (for Norwegians) or ‘black’ (for Danes), presumably after the colours of their shields or mail-coats.

In Byzantine and Arabic sources the Swedish Vikings are called Rus, a word borrowed from the Slavs who in turn had taken it from the Finns, whose name for Sweden is Ruotsi. According to Stender-Petersen, Ruotsi is a Swedish loan-word meaning ‘oarsmen’, and he also maintains that thev word Bapayyou (Old Norse Vaeringgar) given to Scandinavian warriors by the Greeks in the late Viking period originally meant ‘trading agent capable of giving security for his part in a deal’. In Spain the Vikings were known by the Arabic term Madjus (‘heathen wizards’).

As  to ‘Viking’ itself, Adam of Bremen, the German ecclesiastical historian writing about 1075, testifies that the word was used by the Danes themselves. He writes of ‘the pirates whom they [the Danes] call Vikings but we [the Germans] call Ashmen’. What is the origin of the word? Is it Norse, or a foreign borrowings?

If it is Norse it may be related either to vig ‘battles’,  or to vik ‘creek’, ‘inlet’, ‘fjord’, or ‘bay’. The first is plausible enough semantically but doubtful on phonological grounds. Derivation from vik ‘bay’ on the other hand has found much support; a Viking was a pirate who lay hidden in fjord, creek, or bay, waiting to pounce upon passing vessels.

We shall return to this explanation later. It has also been suggested that the word was related to the Norwegian place-name vik, the lands on both sides of the Oslo Fjord, and so meant a man from that region; but this theory is unacceptable, as the sources show that people of this region were called Vikverjar or Vestfaldingi (the latter term, meaning men from Vestfolf, is used in the Frankish chronicles which tell of the Viking attack on Nantes in 843).

If, on the other hand, the word ‘Viking’ is not a norse origin, it could be related to the Old English word for camp, wic, Latin vicus. On this theory, the Vikings were, to the Angl0-Saxons, ‘the camp folk’. This etymology was put forward by the great Norwegian linguist Sophus Bugge, and it is a fact that the word existed in Old English long before the Viking Age. The Swedish long before the Viking Age. The Swedish scholar Wadstein suggests yet another explanation; he agrees that the word originates in Latin vicus which he interprets ‘town’ rather than ‘camp’. The Vikings were then town-dwellers, and as the inhabitants of the earliest towns were mostly seafaring merchants who were often enough prepared to bargain with weapons as well as money, the shift to the meaning ‘pirate’ would not be unlikely. Wadstein considered that the town of Slesvig provided anexcellent example, the word ‘Viking’ perhaps originating there; a ‘Sles-Viking’ would be a typical Baltic pirate of that town.

The Danish authority on the early Viking Age, Johnnes Steenstrup, differed sharply from both Bugge and Wadstein, claiming that the word Viking is too rarely used in Anglo-Saxon sources for it to be of Old English origin; he concluded that it must be Norse. He rebutted Wadstein by pointing out that the inhabitants of the many towns whose names ended in -vic were never known as ‘Vicingar’.

Several other explanations have been offered: that the word is related to vikja, ‘to move, turn pass’ – bringing to mind a pirate moving off with his loot – or to the noun wikan, ‘a seal’, since the vikings were dexterous seal hunters; but these notions have found little support.

A theory which has won considerable acceptance, being supported , for example, by the Swedish linguist Elias Wessen, is one which derives Viking from the Norse word vik (‘creek, inlet’) already mentioned. On this theory a Viking is one who dwells in a creek or inlet, such being the natural hiding-place for a pirate on the watch for plunder. Fritz Askeberg objects that there was nothing characteristically Viking about lying in a sheltered creek – all sailors did it – whereas vikings chose islands for places of refuge and bases from which to launch attacks. Thus the island of Jeufosse in the River Seine served for many years as headquarters of the Vikings in their attacks upon Paris. Later the Vikings moved to a couple of islands near Rouen, nowadays part of the mainland, but still called Le Houlme (‘the islet’). At the mouth of the Loire lies the island of Noirmoutier, famous for its wine and salt, where in 834 the Vikings established themselves so thoroughly that the natives left. The Vikings brought over houses from the mainland, and for a long time used the island as a base for their raids on the hinterland of the Loire. (3) Askeberg gives several other examples: the Ile de Groix off Southern Brittany where a Norwegian burial ship has been found; the island of Camarque where the Vikings had a permanent camp in 860; the island of Walcheren at the mouth of the Scheldt, used by the Danish chieftains Harald and Rorik; and Thanet and Sheppey in the Thames, which served as winter quarters in the year 850 during the great Danish invasion of England. If, says Askeberg, the Scandinavian pirates were named after the terrain they favoured in mounting their attacks, they would be called ‘Eyings’ (‘islanders’), not Vikings.

Askeberg has his own hypothesis. According to him the masculine noun vikingr was used only in Denmark and the West Norse area (in eastern Scandinavia the word was vaeringi). It was used, however, not only to denote Northerners, but also generally in the meaning ;sea warrior who makes long journeys from his native land;. The feminine noun viking signified ; nautical raid to distant shores’. (4)

The first element of ‘Viking’ he maintains, is not Old Norse vik ‘creek’, but derives from vikja, ‘to move, turn aside’; its basic meaning is ‘receding curve, corner, or nook’. Landi vikr, for example, means ‘the land recedes’ or ‘curves back’. The feminine noun viking, then, originally signified ‘deviation, departure, or absence’, and the masculine noun vikingr, ‘one who makes a detour’, or ‘one who absents himself from home’.

However, this ingenious interpretations which fits so well the modern conception of the Viking has not met with wide approval, though it deserves consideration.

Very little material is available in contemporary literature about the peoples, lands, and towns of Scandinavia during the Viking period. What there is survives rather by chance. Three writers of quite different types have made their contributions. At the end of the ninth century the Anglo-Saxon king, Alfred the Great, wrote about trade-routes in the North Sea and the Baltic. The much-travelled Arab merchant Al-Tarushi gave an account of his visit to Hedeby (Hedeby-Slesvig) about the middle of the tenth century. About a hundred years later the German ecclesiastical historian Adam of Bremen described the geography and peoples of Scandinavia, the town of Birka, and the temple at Old Uppsala.

Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, the great adversary of the Vikings in England, was a highly educated man who attempted earnestly to enlighten his people. He took it upon himself to have translated into Old English the world history written about 400 by the Spanish monk, Orosius, and to supplement this by an account of contemporary knowledge about the lands and peoples of northern and central Europe. For this purpose he employed, at least in part, primary sources; that is to say, he relied upon the experience and opinions of travellers in those lands. As far as Scandinavia was concerned, he related conversations he had had with the Norwegian Ottar from Helgeland about northerner Norwegian trade and industry, the trade-routes to the south, to Skiringssal on the west coast of the Oslo Fjord, and thence to Hedeby. he recorded too what he heard from the Anglo-Saxon Wulfstan of a journey he had made eastward from Hedeby into the Baltic to the town of Truso, at the mouth of the Vistula river. Such early accounts are obviously of the greatest importance.

Ottar told king Alfred of his home in the remote north, of his reindeer herds, of the tribute he gathered from the Finns – walrus teeth, bearskins, and bird’s feathers – of the lengthy journey he had made round the North Cape to the White Sea. The walrus, Ottar says, has fine strong teeth, and from its skin excellent rope can be made. Here is the ‘North Way’, the great trade-route, which he knows so well; particularly the southern stretch from Helgeland to Skiringssal, a voyage which takes more than a month, even with favourable winds. Ottar’s descriptions of the countries and islands are, in their main features, reliable, and he gives a splendid general picture of the geography and natural characteristics of northern Norway: the broad wastes to be east and the narrow habitable coastal strip to the west. He ventured as far south as the Oslo Fjord and Slesvig simply because he knew that the markets for his goods were much better there; both Skiringssal and Hedeby were thriving market towns; but let us hear in King Alfred’s words what Ottar said of the passage south from the Oslo Fjord;

From Skiringssal he said that he sailed in five days to the port called aet Haethum [Hedeby], which lies between the Wends, Saxons, and Angeln, and belongs to the Danes. As he sailed from Skiringssal Denmark lay to port, while to starboard for three days was the open sea; and after that there was a further two days sailing before Hedeby was reached, during which time Gotland [Jutland] and Sillende [South Jutland] and many other islands lay to starboard. Here the Angles had lived before they came to this country [England]. During those two days islands belonging to Denmark lay to port.

Also through King Alfred, we hear from the Anglo-Saxon trader Wulfstan about his journey from Slesvig eastwards into the Baltic.

Wulfstan said that he left Hedeby and came to Truso after seven days and nights, and that the ship was under sail all the time. Wendland lay to starboard, while to port were Langeland, Lolland, Falster, and Skane, all of which belong to Denmark.

After that Burgendaland [Bornholm], which has its own king was seen to port, and, after that, first the land called Blekinge then More, Oland, and Gotland, all belonging to the Swedes. Right up to the mouth of the river Vistula, Wendland lay to starboard all the way.

Like Ottar’s, this description is a reliable geographical account of one of the early trade-routes; and together they constitute  our first real knowledge of the north.

Another and slightly older source of information (from c. 880) is Rimbert’s biography of Angar, whom he succeeded as Archbishop of Hamburg and Bishop of Bremen. Included in it are several valuable eyewitness accounts, particularly of the Swedes, but also of the Danes. The biography of Rimbert himself can also be mentioned, although it follows the rather stereotyped pattern of hagiographical works.

About the year 950, Hedeby was visited by an Arab merchant Al-Tartushi from the Caliphate of Cordova. Although the oriental must have felt completely out of his element  under those northern skies, he did provide us with a short a description of Heleby-Slesvig, the town at the head of the Slie Fjord.

Slesvig is a large town at the very far end of the world ocean. It has freshwater wells within the city. Its people worship Sirius except for a few who are Christians and have a church there. A feast is held to honour their deity and to eat and drink. Any man who slaughters a sacrificial animal – whether it is an ox, ram, goat, or pig – fastens it up on poles outside the door of his house to show that he has made his sacrifice in honour of the god. The town is poorly provided with property or treasure. The inhabitants’ principle food is fish, which is plentiful. The people often throw a newborn child into the sea rather than maintain it. Furthermore women have the right to claim a divorce; they do this themselves whenever they wish. There is also an artificial make-up for the eyes; when they use it their beauty never fades, on the contrary it increases in both men and women.

Later he adds:

I have never heard such horrible singing as that of the Slesvigers – it is like a growl coming out of their throats, like the barking dogs only still more brutish.

We are here provided with a number of specific facts about Hedeby, which there is very little reason to disbelieve.

Adam of Bremen wrote his history of the Archbishop of Hamburg about 1075. Some of his information on the Scandinavian countries was possibly first-hand, but it is evident that most of his knowledge, particularly that about Denmark, was obtained from his superior, Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen, and from his personal friend the Danish king, Swein Estridsson. Historically speaking Adam’s works are far from reliable, yet it is worth reporting here some of the material of his fourth volume covering the geography and ethnography of the north.

Demark’s consists almost entirely of islands; its main part, Jutland, stretches north from the river Eider, and from there it takes five or seven days to reach Aalborg. The shortest crossing to Norway is from the Skaw at the tip of Vendsyssel. The barren soil of Jutland is sparsely cultivated, and large towns exist only where fjords cut into the land. Fyn is separated from Jutland by a narrow strait which stretches from the Baltic to the town of Aarhus, whence one’ can sail to Fyn, to Zealand, to Skane, or right up to Norway.

A futher fifteen Danish islands are mentioned.

When one has passed the Danish islands a new world opens up in Sweden and Norway: two vast northern countries still very little known to our world. The well-informed King of Denmark has told me that it takes a month or more to travel through Norway, and that one can hardly journey through Sweden in two.

Adam comments upon the fertile Swedish soil producing rich crops and an abundance of honey, and upon the cattle breeding which, he says, surpasses that of all other countries. Many foreign goods are imported, and the Swedes are short of nothing. He then enthuses over the virtues of the Swedes in a fashion which brings to mind Tacitus’s description of the Germans; but he adds, however, that the Swede two or three or more women according to his means, and the wealthy and the princes have many more. They are excellent fighters in land or sea, and although they have rulers of ancient lineage the monarchy depends upon the will of the people. Among Swedish towns mentioned by Adam are Birka, Skara, Sigtuna, and Old Uppsala. Of the last named he describes the famous sanctuary which will be referred to again in Chapter 14.

Norway, says Adam, is the remotest country in the world and stretches north to an extreme latitude. its rugged mountains and intense cold  makes it  the least fertile of lands, only suitable for cattle-grazing. The herds pasture far out into the wastes. The Norwegians are brave warriors not softened by luxurious living: ‘Forced by the poverty of their homeland they venture far into the world to bring back from their raids the goods which other countries so plentifully produce.’ They are frugal in their eating as they are simple in their life and habits. Adam also mentions the forest and the arctic fauna of Norway, the aurochs, elk, blue fox, hare, and polar bear. Of the towns he refers only to Trondheim. Finally, he mentions Helegeland, Iceland, Greenland, and Wineland (in North America( as the northernmost countries of all.

References

(1) This must have happened before 900. In one of King Alfred’s writings, the foreword to his translation of Orosius’s world history, to which we refer later, there is the first extant reference to the name Denmark (Denemearcan). There is nothing unusual in a local name becoming applied to the whole country: the French name for Germany, Allemagne, derives from the province of the Allemagni, on the Upper Rhine.

(2) Nevertheless they maintained strict discipline among their forces, especially towards the end of the Viking period; a chieftain and his warriors were obviously far from equals.

(3) These Vikings were the Vestfaldingi mentioned above.

(4) Both these nouns, it must be observed, refer only to those Viking raids which fall into the first two categories mentioned on the categories mentioned earlier in the chapter.