Scandinavians / Vikings Ethnicity in The True Dark Ages | World Anvil

Scandinavians / Vikings

The Scandinavians belong in three major groups of interest to the rest of Europe. They are the Norwegians, Swedish, and Danes, although the former two have the Sami people living to the north of them. As a whole, when raiding and/or trading are known as Vikings, and in general go by the names to the rest of Europe as : Northmen, Norsemen, or Normans depending on the peoples they interact with. Kingship of the different tribes & clans change regularly. Sometimes it will happen violently, and other times peacefully with a single king being offered the position to help bring a sense of stability to a region.   The Danes are in many ways the most organised at this point, being in the Jutland Peninsula north of Saxony. They have been influenced by the continent more, despite having strong ties to their brothers in the north. They are as warlike as any Norseman, and have developed the use of the Dane Axe more so than most. Their Huscarls are some of the best trained elite soldiers in all of the Germanic tribes, and regularly trade and/or settle in other regions. Denmark is relatively well protected being surrounded by sea on at least 3/4s of its sides, and has suffered little in Saxon raids. Like all Norsemen, they have a proud naval tradition.   The Swedes are still loosely organised, spread over their lands in fiefdoms, led by chieftains and the odd time by a major king. They are proud of their traditions, with a strong belief in their pagan gods, and also their arts. As warlike as any Norseman, they concentrate most of their fighting to the east and south east, into Eastern Europe, and have close ties to the brothers & sisters of the Rus (the Rus are originally Swedes). They have travelled down rivers like the Volga deep into Eastern Europe, and as far as the Black Sea. There they have made contact with the Middle East & Byzantium. When no acting as go-betweens & traders with these peoples they act as mercenaries, especially for the more powerful faction here like Byzantium. This has also gave them a better access to the Silk Road trade routes, and they make a fortune where possible from this, especially in northern furs / skins, and slaves.   The Norwegians have the most war-like reputation of the Norsemen, in part to their lands being slightly more inhospitable to the other Norseman lands. It is true that harsh conditions breed harsh men. The more northerly tribes & clans of Norwegians are feared warriors, and have been seen on & off round parts of Alba, Hibernia, Britain and the northern parts of Europe. They are expert seafarers and use this advantage, along with their ships, to launch lightning raids, sea battles, and even land battles to great success. When they fight the other Norsemen, they usually triumph, though it can still be costly in men & ships, and would prefer to fight along side each other than against. They make quite a bit of gold from raiding and selling slaves to other nations.   The Norsemen use dragon boats, with a distinctive keel, and a carved dragon head at the end of each ship. These allow then to terrify opposing sides, and to quickly beach the & launch ships, and drag them overland where need be. Each ship has both oars & a rectangular sail, and they can travel great distances with these. As a people in general they have travelled great distances, usually with their ships, making it to North Africa and the Middle East.   Their strongholds & temples are usually one and the same, with Great Halls being the centre of the community, and it in a motte-and-bailey system. They rarely build anything of stone, but some expert shipwrights, goldsmiths & carpenters, as well as good shock troops & hunters. They are known through out the northern Europeans for being fearless in battle, and tough in cold & wet conditions. They primarily use simple armours and helmets, with shields for defence, though their nobles & elites regularly use chainmail in some form or fashion, and metal helmets. The regulars will use, spears, axes, long knives and short bows regularly in combat, with swords used by the ones who can afford such a luxurious item. A few tribes have access to groups or families of berserkers, split into three groups: the Berserker, the Úlfhéðnar, and the Jöfurr. They all use shields, and a weapon with no other armour with the first using a bear skin, the second using a wolf skin, and the third using a boar skin.   The Norsemen believe strongly in the Vanir (fertility deities), and the Aesir (war gods). They are shamanistic in belief with strong animist tendencies. They also never force their religious beliefs on others. They have Things and Moots to act as a mix of courts, and tribal gatherings to sort out laws. Sometimes these correspond to religious ceremonies and sacrifices of animals, and even humans take place. These are usually in batches of threes and the odd time multiples of three, especially the number nine being sacred. This is due to Odin hanging himself to death on Yggdrasil for 9 days to get the secret to the runes. They use runic magic usually by women as this is seen as effeminate for men to do. Seiðr (sometimes anglicized as seidhr, seidh, seidr, seithr, seith, or seid) is the term used for magic. Volva is the name given to a seeress, and a man practising it is referred to as Ergi or Argr, meaning unmanly (former), and unmanliness (latter).   They also use silver in the form of hacksilver for payment, where they would wear a rod of silver in such a fashion if they could not barter or have coin, would cut of a part of the silver to pay. This is regularly done in their own lands, and settlements. Also, the women are able to divorce, compared to other countries, own land, and in some cases learn to fight (giving rise to Shieldmaidens). They are expected to rule over the household, especially if the men are away fighting.   They have close ties to giant-kin, elves and dwarves with all their worlds belonging to Yggdrasil, the great world tree of legend. Each will have their designated world they come from, with humans coming from Midgard. There are clans, and a few tribes, that have members of the giants, elves and dwarves in them, though the giants, and giant-kin are usually very rare due to the impracticality of sizes in those instances. In the majority of cases this is completely acceptable to other clans & tribes who see it as just the way of things, and especially with the elves & dwarves being seen as close kin to humans, just slightly more closer to the divine than humanity.


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