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Thread: Viking Race, Ethnicities & Identities

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    Question Vikings Were Not One Race or Group but a Collection of Various Groups

    Contrary to some popular conceptions of the Vikings, they were not a "race" linked by ties of common ancestry or patriotism, and could not be defined by any particular sense of "Viking-ness." Most of the Vikings whose activities are best known come from the areas now know as Denmark, Norway and Sweden, though there are mentions in historical records of Finnish, Estonian and Saami Vikings as well.
    The new article also, says, Russia was named for vikings,
    To the east, Swedish Vikings known as Varangians had invaded eastern Europe and modern-day Russia (the name derived from "Rus," the name Slavic peoples used for the Scandinavian invaders)
    This article also claims that, other vikings had influence on the Byzantine empire.

    What commonly defined vikings, was not that they were one group, but that
    Their common ground--and what made them different from the European peoples they confronted--was that they came from a foreign land, they were not "civilized" in the local understanding of the word and--most importantly--they were not Christian.
    What I think is funny, is that the author, says "different from the European peoples they confronted". Vikings were also Europeans, so in my mind, it would be more correct to say other European peoples. Finally, groups called Viking confronted non-European groups as well, in Greenland, Iceland, etc.

    http://www.history.com/topics/vikings

    Apparently, according to this article, not all those called Viking were members of Germanic tribes, or descendants. It claims they were Saami, Finns, and Estonian Vikings, and that viking is more of a Norse word used for a Pirate.

    The name Viking came from the Scandinavians themselves, from the Old Norse word "vik" (bay or creek) which formed the root of "vikingr" (pirate).

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    Hmm, this article seems to try and rewrite history.

    I always thought the Vikings were a racial/cultural/linguistic group, it so happens that race/culture/language is Germanic.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    Contrary to some popular conceptions of the Vikings, they were not a "race" linked by ties of common ancestry or patriotism, and could not be defined by any particular sense of "Viking-ness
    Sounds like another try to degrade and take away our Scandinavian identity.

    Even though we were not unified into states a Norwegian, Dane, Swede and Gøte had a sence of belonging to ones nation. Norway was for example
    ”Norðmanna land” and Northvegr (Northern path). All of us had a sence of community with their people and land.


    The new article also, says, Russia was named for vikings,
    This is nothing new. Russia maintaned ties with vikings long after we founded the nation. Saint Olaf and others lived for a while in Russia.

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    Vocabulary problem

    Everything depends what people means by "Viking" & "Race"

    If you define a Race by genotype (to caricature blond hair/blue eye) or ancestor (at least 2 common great-great-great grand father/mother) and Viking as everybody that is on the ship that settles on York, Island, or whate ever, of course the Vikings are not one race.

    The captain/chief & sailors/fighter born & coming from the same fjord village have little in common with the slaves they kidnap or bought here, the architect, masson they may have hire there during their journey to the final place they settle to colony.

    Now you can define as "Viking" only the weapon bearing raiders, the free-men but not the slaves nor the "subcontractors".
    That means the "new aristocraty" (Rus', Norman,...) in the case of conquest - then they were quite racially homogens (let say "scandinavian").
    Except, of course if you consider that having an abducted celtic girl as one of the 4 great grandmother of a viking makes him from "another race". But with such logic, you would considered that William the Conqueror was not a Norman ! Nonsense...

    It's the same thing for the Merovigian & Carolingian Franks. If you consider only the kings & their knights (the exact terms were in these times Leudes, Commites/Counts, Paladins,..) and men-at-arm on the battlefield they are all german. If you consider the serfs, clerks, merchants,... that worked in the castle or the "army logistic" (cut the wood, drive the food chariot,..) they are of course, gallo-roman.

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    I also thought that the Anglo-Saxons and Norse/Viking culture and language were very similar. I know their arts and weapons are very similar and I have read somewhere that the language was not that different either.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hersir View Post
    Sounds like another try to degrade and take away our Scandinavian identity.

    Even though we were not unified into states a Norwegian, Dane, Swede and Gøte had a sence of belonging to ones nation. Norway was for example
    ”Norðmanna land” and Northvegr (Northern path). All of us had a sence of community with their people and land.




    This is nothing new. Russia maintaned ties with vikings long after we founded the nation. Saint Olaf and others lived for a while in Russia.
    It could be, I have never heard this theory before.

    Apparently, however flawed my understanding may be of this article, is that Scandinavians have the strongest ties to viking heritage because that was the biggest stomping ground for them.

    The article claims that Viking, comes from "The name Viking came from the Scandinavians themselves, from the Old Norse word "vik" (bay or creek) which formed the root of "vikingr" (pirate)."

    They are claiming that Viking, was just a Scandinavian word for Pirate, and that these pirates, in the Viking age, were comprised of many different bands of people during the Viking age.

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    Seems like common sense. Of course Danes, Normans, Rus, et cetera aren't all going to be alike.

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    Well, this all depends on how you define "Viking". The correct answer to this would be that not all Norse people were Vikings, but all Vikings were Norse. (Here, I'm using "Norse" as the supra-tribal term for all Scandinavian peoples.)

    Quote Originally Posted by SpearBrave View Post
    I always thought the Vikings were a racial/cultural/linguistic group, it so happens that race/culture/language is Germanic.
    The term Viking is not an ethnonym - it was only ever used for weapon-bearing sea raiders, warriors and sometimes the warrior-caste leaders (the Jarls). It didn't include the free peasants, nor the "subcontractors" as Lothringen put it. Neither did it include peoples who were ruled by a Norse aristocracy which had conquered them. When this happened, the Scandinavian ruling class was quite racially homogenous for a long time but the name of their ethnic group was applied to the entire nation they ruled. We all know that Russia got its name from the Rus Vikings who formed a ruling class over the Eastern Slavs (who themselves later repeated this on the Finnic tribes, when subjugating them.) So it's a misnomer to bunch together all these people under "Vikings".

    As for the Finns and Estonians being Vikings, it's very likely that they had picked up influences from their Norse neighbors across the sea, and emulated their pirate tactics. But it'd be wrong to include these Finnic people into the usual "Viking" definition. (I'm also trying to imagine one of the article's "Saami Vikings" without laughing and spraying coffee all over my keyboard. )

    I also thought that the Anglo-Saxons and Norse/Viking culture and language were very similar. I know their arts and weapons are very similar and I have read somewhere that the language was not that different either.
    Well, the Anglo-Saxons and the Norsemen both spoke related languages (although Old English was a West Germanic language, not a northern one), and had similar Germanic pagan religions. However, they split off from each other pretty early on, and the Anglo-Saxons were never really included into the "Viking" category.

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    Contrary to some popular conceptions of the Vikings, they were not a "race" linked by ties of common ancestry or patriotism, and could not be defined by any particular sense of "Viking-ness." Most of the Vikings whose activities are best known come from the areas now know as Denmark, Norway and Sweden, though there are mentions in historical records of Finnish, Estonian and Saami Vikings as well.
    As far as I know Scandinavia consisted of several (albeit related) tribes and tribal areas during the period known as the Viking age. A person's identity and sense of belonging during this time would likely have been connected to his family and to the tribe (by using mere induction, but I am open for corrections on any of the points I am making here).

    My understanding is that these tribal structures and loyalties didn't cease to exist during the period we now know as the Viking age, nor that "Viking" was the primary identity for the Scandinavian peoples of the time. Tribes which were closely related and between which there existed trade and other forms of communication might very well have thought of themselves as kin of lesser or larger degree, but would they have thought of themselves as "one"? Did they enter the viking age as separate tribes, forge together into one during it, only to split up afterwards? Or were varying degrees of separation the case during all three stages a more likely case?

    Hersir mentions nordmän as a term encompassing Norwegians of this time, and to me this seems like a more apt and genuine "supra-tribal" term which might have held meaning for the people back then, for those living in the Norwegian parts of Scandinavia.

    The article doesn't say at least that the Scandinavians would have felt a sense of unity with non-scandinavians, so any unity which might have existed could be down to specific relationships inbetween particular tribes and particular kings of tribal chiefs perhaps, with complexity defining these relationships over time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrioten View Post
    As far as I know Scandinavia consisted of several (albeit related) tribes and tribal areas during the period known as the Viking age. A person's identity and sense of belonging during this time would likely have been connected to his family and to the tribe (by using mere induction, but I am open for corrections on any of the points I am making here).

    My understanding is that these tribal structures and loyalties didn't cease to exist during the period we now know as the Viking age, nor that "Viking" was the primary identity for the Scandinavian peoples of the time. Tribes which were closely related and between which there existed trade and other forms of communication might very well have thought of themselves as kin of lesser or larger degree, but would they have thought of themselves as "one"? Did they enter the viking age as separate tribes, forge together into one during it, only to split up afterwards? Or were varying degrees of separation the case during all three stages a more likely case?

    Hersir mentions nordmän as a term encompassing Norwegians of this time, and to me this seems like a more apt and genuine "supra-tribal" term which might have held meaning for the people back then, for those living in the Norwegian parts of Scandinavia.

    The article doesn't say at least that the Scandinavians would have felt a sense of unity with non-scandinavians, so any unity which might have existed could be down to specific relationships inbetween particular tribes and particular kings of tribal chiefs perhaps, with complexity defining these relationships over time.
    Another way, that I am interpreting this article is that "Viking" was more of an activity, or a profession than a group of any particular people. Not all Scandinavians were Vikings, as we all know. But, that "Viking" was really a term for a profession, which was able to flourish, or popular during the Viking age.

    This article sort of explains it as an age, or trend, that various different individuals joined, or a lifestyle profession that they chose in that era.

    The article seems to be explaining it as more of an era of piracy that spread like wildfire. Vikingr, is said to be the Norse word for Pirate. And during the age of the Viking, unprotected borders, and monasteries made it very easy for the Viking to flourish. Other groups of people in the area, Finns, Estonians, and Saami, also had members of their groups that formed bands of Viking.

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