When people think of the Vikings they often picture fearsome warriors; huge, intimidating men who excel at sword play and who live for the thrill of battle. And this is partly true; the Viking Pantheon of Gods advocate the honour and glory of battle, and promise rewards for those who die on the battle field. But did you know that they were also some of the very first pirates? Well they were; they specialized in lightning-quick raids on other vessels and even on villages (which sets them apart from most pirates).
The history of Viking Pirates
The history of these buccaneers can be dated as far back as the 5th century, but they really started to make an impression on the European mind on the 8th of June 793 C.E. They came to the island of Lindisfarne one morning on a sleek dragon headed Drekis long-boat. They hit with lightning speed and precision, storming and looting the monastery of all its valuables, loading the ship, and slaughtered the monks before slipping away before the alarm could even be raised. Their presence in the British Isles from then on was implicit and consistent; the fear that their speedy and efficient tactics, and unpredictable patterns of attack caused was a great ally to the Vikings.
Trained Warrior Pirates
When considering why there is such a history of fear regarding the Vikings it’s important to recognize how much more able, willing, and better equipped they were than the people that they were up against. Viking men and women were taught how to fight well, and had their own weapons, well made and cared for, which were so important that you could tell a lot about a Viking just by looking at their weapon. If it was entirely plain then it was likely that they hadn’t had their weapon for very long, or that they were of low status (or even both). Weapons were often named, had runes carved into them, and if these engravings were filled in with silver then you can be sure that the individual was of high social standing.
So, you see, pirates were not just the eye-patched, pegged-legged variety that you read about, you could say that vikings were among the first pirates.