The Viking Age: Fury of the Northmen
Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the start of the Viking Age, from the attack at Lindisfarne to the creation of the Danelaw.----more----
Our story starts with the attack on the Lindisfarne monastery in 793AD. The monastery is famous for its treasures and how it helped Britain become Christian. No one is expecting an attack. So when the first heavily armed Vikings storm ashore it is a complete surprise. Monks are killed and enslaved, their treasures are stolen and altars destroyed. People around England and the world are stunned. The Viking Age has begun.
The Vikings are the words given nowadays to the people who lived in Denmark, Sweden and Norway a thousand years ago. However, back then people called them the Danes or the Northmen. They invented new ships called the Longship which had a flat bottom so it could go up rivers or straight onto beaches, but also had a keel so it could make long sea journeys. No one knows why the Vikings started to expand. Some think it was because of over population, some think it was just because their neighbours were weak, others think it was because of their shipbuilding technology, others think it was just to get richer. However, not all Vikings were raiders. They had inventors, explorers and traders too.
At first their raids were just trying to take money and slaves. However, over time they became more ambitious. The Vikings decided to conquer England. The Great Heathen Army full of Vikings marched into England. Kingdoms tried to pay them to go away with gold. This was called Danegeld. The Vikings conquered East Anglia and killed its King horribly. Then they conquered Northumbria and Mercia. Only Wessex stood against them led by its King, Alfred the Great.
The Vikings attacked Alfred one Christmas when there was supposed to be a peace. Alfred fled to the marshes. But he regrouped and fought back. A peace was made between the Danes and the Saxons. The Danes took the North and East of England. It was called the Danelaw. Many of the place names today are Viking ones.
We pause our episode there. Next week we will talk about the exploration of the Vikings as they sail to the Americas and to Constantinople; how they conquered all of England; and about the Danish Gods.
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