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Buku The Vikings by Allen Mawer

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The Vikings by Allen Mawer

Author:Allen Mawer

Language: eng

Format: azw

Publisher: Jovian Press

Published: 2017-02-06T16:00:00+00:00

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The Vikings by Allen Mawer

* * *

CHAPTER VIII VIKING CIVILISATION

………………

 

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The Vikings by Allen Mawer

Author:Allen Mawer , Date: June 6, 2019

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Author:Allen Mawer

Language: eng

Format: azw

Publisher: Jovian Press

Published: 2017-02-06T16:00:00+00:00
* * *

CHAPTER VIII VIKING CIVILISATION

………………

THE ACTIVITIES OF THE VIKINGS were all-embracing, and before any attempt can be made to estimate their influence in the various countries which came permanently under their rule, or were brought more or less closely into touch with them, some account, however slight, must be given of Scandinavian civilisation at this time, both on its spiritual and on its material sides. For the former aspect we must turn chiefly to the poems and sagas of old Norse literature, for the latter to the results of modern archaeological research. So far as the poems and sagas are concerned it is well to remember that they were to a large extent composed in Iceland and reflect the somewhat peculiar type of civilisation developed there at a period just subsequent to the Viking age itself. This civilisation differs necessarily from that developed in Scandinavia or in the other Scandinavian settlements, in that it was free from Western influence, but this is to some extent compensated for by the fact that we get in Iceland a better picture of the inherent possibilities of Viking civilisation when developed on independent lines.

At the beginning of the Viking age the Scandinavian peoples were in a transitional stage of development; on the one hand there was still much, both in their theory and in their practice of life, that savoured of primitive barbarism, while on the other, in the development of certain phases of human activity, more especially in those of war, trade, and social organisation, they were considerably ahead of many of their European neighbours. More than one writer has commented upon the strange blending of barbarism and culture which constitutes Viking civilisation: it is evident when we study their daily life, and it is emphasised in the story of their slow and halting passage from heathenism to Christianity.

We need not travel far to find examples of their barbarism. Their cruelty in warfare is a commonplace among the historians of the period. When the Irish found the Danes cooking their food on spits stuck in the bodies of their fallen foes (v. supra, p. 55) and asked why they did anything so hateful, the answer came ‘Why not? If the other side had been victorious they would have done the same with us.’ The custom of cutting the blood-eagle (i.e. cutting the ribs in the shape of an eagle and pulling the lungs through the opening) was a well-known form of vengeance taken on the slayer of one’s father if captured in battle, and is illustrated in the story of the sons of Ragnarr Loðbrók himself. Another survival of primitive life was the famous Berserk fury, when men in the heat of battle were seized with sudden madness and, according to the popular belief, received a double portion of strength, and lost all sense of bodily pain, a custom for which Dr Bugge finds an apt parallel in the ‘running amok’ of the races of the Malay peninsula. Children were tossed on the point of the spear and the Viking leader who discouraged the custom was nicknamed barnakarl, i.

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