The Norsemen were well known in northwestern Europe as peaceful and respectable traders, at least for several hundred years prior to 800AD. But in the late 700’s this peaceful activity evolved into plundering raids instead. The Vikings started to attack and plunder monasteries, towns and areas along coastlines. In the year 793 they attacked the Lindisfarne monastery and in the following year the Jarrow monastery.
Many theories have been launched concerning why the Vikings started with the plundering raids. Since the 1930’s, recommended books studying this question have maintained that over population was responsible for this activity. Later, this theory was supplemented with an explanation to the effect that there was also a spirit of adventure and a need for discovery.
Torgrim Titlestad, while discussing the issue in a book (Titlestad, Kampen om Nordvegen, 1996) , has suggested an alternative explanation. He has maintained that the Vikings were not beset by vulgarity, brutality or voracity; thereby becoming brutal murderers and rapists – so called “galloping coarseness”. First, he shows that The Vikings did not surpass their contemporaries in Europe in vulgarity and brutality. If anything, it was to the contrary. For example, The French king, Charlamange (Karl the Greate) (747 – 814 AD), cut off the heads of 4500 Saxons in one day. He first had them baptized, so their souls could find salvation before being decapitated. (These Saxons were executed because they didn’t accept the Christian faith).
Read the rest of this interesting article written by Bryan at Ásatrú World.