But y’all knew that 🙂 Here’s some content from a NatGeo article on the book I just bought but haven’t had time/focus yet to read, “The Age of the Vikings.” I just kept pumping my fist saying, “yes, yes!” the whole way through. I’m really looking forward to doing another one of these stories this winter!
When the account of the Nantes attack is scrutinized, “a more reasonable image emerges,” he writes. After stating that the Vikings had killed the “entire multitude,” for instance, the witness contradicts himself by noting that some of the clerics were taken into captivity.
In the year 806, for example, the slaughter of 68 monks on the Isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, sowed terror in Europe. Ferguson suggests that the move was designed to convince Charlemagne and others that it would be very costly to expand Christianity into Scandinavia by force. The Vikings “were fighting to defend their way of life,” Ferguson says.
Viggo’s eyes darkened. “Do you know why we raid monasteries?”
“Because that’s where the money’s at?”
“You know what the Franks have done to our people.”
Colum knew of Charlemagne’s homicidal mania, his burning desire to vaporize paganism, and pagans, from the face of the earth. “They destroyed Irminsul,” Colum said. “Your holy tree. They conquer your people, baptize them, then kill them anyway. Those who aren’t put to death are converted, and then put to death if they break any church rule, even if they only eat meat during Lent. The Franks wish to exterminate you rather than see you live as unbelievers. To you, killing Christians in turn is only fair. Especially if they have treasure.”
The Norse were prodigious traders, selling furs, walrus tusks, and slaves to Arabs in the East. Winroth goes so far as to argue that Vikings provided much needed monetary stimulus to western Europe at a crucial time. Norse trade led to an influx of Arabic dirhams, or coins, which helped smooth the transition to an economy of exchange instead of barter.
“Are…are you going to sell the manuscripts?”
Viggo chuckled. “Did you see any dealers of books in town?”
“No…but I saw Arab coins. Arab script on some of the pottery.”
Viggo looked Colum in the eyes, appraising him anew. “For a cloistered monk, you know a lot about the outside world.”
“I was at Clonmacnoise for many years before Iona. The abbey was near a large market town. I know the Arab silver coins are prized because of their quality. And Arabs buy books. We were always being frightened with the specter of our manuscripts ‘falling into infidel hands.’”
And here’s something I’ll work into Colum IV or V…
Along those lines, Winroth stresses just how entwined the Norse were with other Europeans. In the 840s a Viking named Rörik, whose uncle had been king in Denmark, plundered the coastal regions of the kingdom of Emperor Lothair, in what’s now Belgium and the Netherlands. Lothair then essentially hired Rörik to defend his land against other Viking raids, a common practice. Rörik became the equivalent of a European prince.
Oh yeah! Prince Viggo! That will make Colum his secret Prince Consort 🙂