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Vikings were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of northern, central, eastern and western Europe, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries.[1] The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Viking home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.[2]

Variants of name


Dalip Singh Ahlawat[3] writes that Danes, Vikings, Normans and Goths were descendants of Scythian Jats. [4]


Viking settlements and voyages

Facilitated by advanced sailing and navigational skills, and characterised by the longship, Viking activities at times also extended into the Mediterranean littoral, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Following extended phases of (primarily sea- or river-borne) exploration, expansion and settlement, Viking (Norse) communities and polities were established in diverse areas of north-western Europe, Belarus[5], Ukraine[6] and European Russia, the North Atlantic islands and as far as the north-eastern coast of North America. This period of expansion witnessed the wider dissemination of Norse culture, while simultaneously introducing strong foreign cultural influences into Scandinavia itself, with profound developmental implications in both directions.

Popular, modern conceptions of the Vikings—the term frequently applied casually to their modern descendants and the inhabitants of modern Scandinavia—often strongly differ from the complex picture that emerges from archaeology and historical sources. A romanticised picture of Vikings as noble savages began to emerge in the 18th century; this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival.[7] Perceived views of the Vikings as alternatively violent, piratical heathens or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations of the Vikings are typically based on cultural clichés and stereotypes, complicating modern appreciation of the Viking legacy. These representations are not always accurate – for example, there is no evidence that they wore horned helmets.


One etymology derives víking from the feminine vík, meaning "creek, inlet, small bay".[8] Various theories have been offered that the word viking may be derived from the name of the historical Norwegian district of Viken (or Víkin in Old Norse), meaning "a person from Viken". According to this theory, the word simply described persons from this area, and it is only in the last few centuries that it has taken on the broader sense of early medieval Scandinavians in general. However, there are a few major problems with this theory. People from the Viken area were not called 'Viking' in Old Norse manuscripts, but are referred to as víkverir (Modern Norwegian: vikvær), 'Vík dwellers'. In addition, that explanation could explain only the masculine (Old Scandinavian víkingr) and ignore the feminine (Old Norse víking), which is a serious problem because the masculine is easily derived from the feminine but hardly vice versa.[9] The form also occurs as a personal name on some Swedish runestones. The stone of Tóki víking (Sm 10) was raised in memory of a local man named Tóki who got the name Tóki víking (Toki the viking), presumably because of his activites as a viking.[10] The Gårdstånga Stone (DR 330) uses the phrase "ÞeR drængaR waRu wiða unesiR i wikingu" (These men where well known i viking),[11] referring to the stone's dedicatees as vikings. The Västra Strö 1 Runestone has an inscription in memory of a Björn, who was killed when "i viking".[12] In Sweden there is a locality known since the middle ages as Vikingstad. The Bro Stone (U 617) was risen in memory of Assur who is said to have protected the land from vikings (SaR vaR vikinga vorðr með Gæiti).[13] There is little indication of any negative connotation in the term before the end of the Viking Age.

Another etymology, that gained support in the early twenty-first century, derives Viking from the same root as Old Norse vika, f. 'sea mile', originally 'the distance between two shifts of rowers', from the root *weik or *wîk, as in the Proto-Germanic verb *wîkan, 'to recede'.[14] This is found in the Proto-Nordic verb *wikan, 'to turn', similar to Old Icelandic víkja (ýkva, víkva) 'to move, to turn', with well-attested nautical usages.[15] Linguistically, this theory is better attested, and the term most likely predates the use of the sail by the Germanic peoples of North-Western Europe, because the Old Frisian spelling shows that the word was pronounced with a palatal k and thus in all probability existed in North-Western Germanic before that palatalisation happened, that is, in the 5th century or before (in the western branch).[16]In that case, the idea behind it seems to be that the tired rower moves aside for the rested rower on the thwart when he relieves him. The Old Norse feminine víking (as in the phrase fara í víking) may originally have been a sea journey characterised by the shifting of rowers, i.e. a long-distance sea journey, because in the pre-sail era, the shifting of rowers would distinguish long-distance sea journeys. A víkingr (the masculine) would then originally have been a participant on a sea journey characterised by the shifting of rowers. In that case, the word Viking was not originally connected to Scandinavian seafarers but assumed this meaning when the Scandinavians begun to dominate the seas.[17]

In Old English, the word wicing appears first in the Anglo-Saxon poem, Widsith, which probably dates from the 9th century. In Old English, and in the history of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen written by Adam of Bremen in about 1070, the term generally referred to Scandinavian pirates or raiders. As in the Old Norse usages, the term is not employed as a name for any people or culture in general. The word does not occur in any preserved Middle English texts. One theory made by the Icelander Örnolfur Kristjansson is that the key to the origins of the word is "wicinga cynn" in Widsith, referring to the people or the race living in Jórvík (York, in the ninth century under control by Norsemen), Jór-Wicings. The word Viking was introduced into Modern English during the 18th-century Viking revival, at which point it acquired romanticised heroic overtones of "barbarian warrior" or noble savage. During the 20th century, the meaning of the term was expanded to refer to not only seaborne raiders from Scandinavia and other places settled by them (like Iceland and the Faroe Islands), but also any member of the culture that produced said raiders during the period from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries, or more loosely from about 700 to as late as about 1100. As an adjective, the word is used to refer to ideas, phenomena, or artefacts connected with those people and their cultural life, producing expressions like Viking age, Viking culture, Viking art, Viking religion, Viking ship and so on.[18]

The Vikings were known as Ascomanni ("ashmen") by the Germans for the ash wood of their boats,[19] Dubgail and Finngail ( "dark and fair foreigners") by the Irish,[20] Lochlannach ("lake person") by the Gaels[21] and Dene (Dane) by the Anglo-Saxons.[22]

The Slavs, the Arabs and the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs,[23] probably derived from various uses of rōþs-, "related to rowing", or derived from the area of Roslagen in east-central Sweden, where most of the Vikings who visited the Slavic lands came from. Some archaeologists and historians of today believe that these Scandinavian settlements in the Slavic lands played a significant role in the formation of the Kievan Rus' federation, and hence the names and early states of Russia and Belarus.[24] The modern day name for Sweden in several neighbouring countries is possibly derived from rōþs-, Ruotsi in Finnish and Rootsi in Estonian.

The Slavs and the Byzantines also called them Varangians (Russian: варяги, from Old Norse Væringjar, meaning 'sworn men', from vàr- "confidence, vow of fealty", related to Old English wær "agreement, treaty, promise", Old High German wara "faithfulness"[25]). Scandinavian bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors were known as the Varangian Guard.

The Franks normally called them Northmen or Danes, while for the English they were generally known as Danes or heathen and the Irish knew them as pagans or gentiles.[26]

Anglo-Scandinavian is an academic term referring to the people, and archaeological and historical periods during the 8th to 13th centuries in which there was migration to—and occupation of—the British Isles by Scandinavian peoples generally known in English as Vikings. It is used in distinction from Anglo-Saxon. Similar terms exist for other areas, such as Hiberno-Norse for Ireland and Scotland.

Viking Age

The period from the earliest recorded raids in the 790s until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 is commonly known as the Viking Age of Scandinavian history.[27] Vikings used the Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea for sea routes to the south. The Normans were descended from Vikings who were given feudal overlordship of areas in northern France—the Duchy of Normandy—in the 10th century. In that respect, descendants of the Vikings continued to have an influence in northern Europe. Likewise, King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, had Danish ancestors. Two Vikings even ascended to the throne of England, with Sweyn Forkbeard claiming the English throne in 1013–1014 and his son Cnut the Great becoming king of England 1016–1035.[28]

Geographically, a Viking Age may be assigned to not only Scandinavian lands (modern Denmark, Norway and Sweden), but also territories under North Germanic dominance, mainly the Danelaw, including Scandinavian York, the administrative centre of the remains of the Kingdom of Northumbria,[29] parts of Mercia, and East Anglia.[30] Viking navigators opened the road to new lands to the north, west and east, resulting in the foundation of independent settlements in the Shetland, Orkney, and Faroe Islands; Iceland; Greenland;[31] and L'Anse aux Meadows, a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland, circa 1000.[32] The Greenland settlement was established around 980, during the Medieval Warm Period, and its demise by the mid-15th century may have been partly due to climate change.[33] The Viking Rurik dynasty took control of territories in Slavic and Finno-Ugric-dominated areas of Eastern Europe; they annexed Kiev in 882 to serve as the capital of the Kievan Rus'.[34]

As early as 839, when Swedish emissaries are first known to have visited Byzantium, Scandinavians served as mercenaries in the service of the Byzantine Empire.[35] In the late 10th century, a new unit of the imperial bodyguard formed. Traditionally containing large numbers of Scandinavians, it was known as the Varangian Guard. The word Varangian may have originated in Old Norse, but in Slavic and Greek it could refer either to Scandinavians or Franks. The most eminent Scandinavian to serve in the Varangian Guard was Harald Hardrada, who subsequently established himself as king of Norway (1047–1066).

There is archaeological evidence that Vikings reached Baghdad, the centre of the Islamic Empire.[36] The Norse regularly plied the Volga with their trade goods: furs, tusks, seal fat for boat sealant, and slaves. Important trading ports during the period include Birka, Hedeby, Kaupang, Jorvik, Staraya Ladoga, Novgorod, and Kiev.

Generally speaking, the Norwegians expanded to the north and west to places such as Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and Greenland; the Danes to England and France, settling in the Danelaw (northern/eastern England) and Normandy; and the Swedes to the east, founding Kievan Rus'. Among the Swedish runestones mentioning expeditions overseas, almost half tell of raids and travels to western Europe. According to the Icelandic sagas, many Norwegian Vikings also went to eastern Europe. In the Viking Age, the present day nations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark did not exist, but were largely homogeneous and similar in culture and language, although somewhat distinct geographically. The names of Scandinavian kings are reliably known only for the later part of the Viking Age. After the end of the Viking Age the separate kingdoms gradually acquired distinct identities as nations, which went hand-in-hand with their Christianisation. Thus the end of the Viking Age for the Scandinavians also marks the start of their relatively brief Middle Ages.

Expansion of Vikings

Colonization of Iceland by Norwegian Vikings began in the ninth century. The first source that Iceland and Greenland appear in is a papal letter of 1053. Twenty years later, they are then seen in the Gesta of Adam of Bremen. It was not until after 1130, when the islands had become Christianized, that accounts of the history of the islands were written from the point of view of the inhabitants in sagas and chronicles.[37] The Vikings explored the northern islands and coasts of the North Atlantic, ventured south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople, and the Middle East.[38][39][40] They raided and pillaged, traded, acted as mercenaries and settled wide-ranging colonies.[41] Early Vikings probably returned home after their raids. Later in their history, they began to settle in other lands.[42] Vikings under Leif Ericson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America and set up short-lived settlements in present-day L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada. This expansion occurred during the Medieval Warm Period.[43]

Viking expansion into continental Europe was limited. Their realm was bordered by powerful cultures to the south. Early on, it was the Saxons, who occupied Old Saxony, located in what is now Northern Germany. The Saxons were a fierce and powerful people and were often in conflict with the Vikings. To counter the Saxon aggression and solidify their own presence, the Danes constructed the huge defence fortification of Danevirke in and around Hedeby.[44] The Vikings soon witnessed the violent subduing of the Saxons by Charlemagne, in the thirty-year Saxon Wars in 772–804. The Saxon defeat resulted in their forced christening and the absorption of Old Saxony into the Carolingian Empire. Fear of the Franks led the Vikings to further expand Danevirke, and the defence constructions remained in use throughout the Viking Age and even up until 1864.[45] The south coast of the Baltic Sea was ruled by the Obotrites, a federation of Slavic tribes loyal to the Carolingians and later the Frankish empire. The Vikings—led by King Gudfred—destroyed the Obotrite city of Reric on the southern Baltic coast in 808 AD and transferred the merchants and traders to Hedeby.[46] This secured their supremacy in the Baltic Sea, which remained throughout the Viking Age.

Motives of Expansion

The motives driving the Viking expansion are a topic of much debate in Nordic history. One common theory posits that Charlemagne "used force and terror to Christianise all pagans", leading to baptism, conversion or execution, and as a result, Vikings and other pagans resisted and wanted revenge.[47] Professor Rudolf Simek states that "it is not a coincidence if the early Viking activity occurred during the reign of Charlemagne". The penetration of Christianity into Scandinavia led to serious conflict dividing Norway for almost a century.[48]

Another explanation is that the Vikings exploited a moment of weakness in the surrounding regions. England suffered from internal divisions and was relatively easy prey given the proximity of many towns to the sea or to navigable rivers. Lack of organised naval opposition throughout Western Europe allowed Viking ships to travel freely, raiding or trading as opportunity permitted. The decline in the profitability of old trade routes could also have played a role. Trade between western Europe and the rest of Eurasia suffered a severe blow when the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century.[49] The expansion of Islam in the 7th century had also affected trade with western Europe.[50]

Raids in Europe, including raids and settlements from Scandinavia, were not unprecedented and had occurred long before the Vikings arrived. The Jutes invaded the British Isles three centuries earlier, pouring out from Jutland during the Age of Migrations, before the Danes settled there. The Saxons and the Angles did the same, embarking from mainland Europe. The Viking raids were, however, the first to be documented in writing by eyewitnesses, and they were much larger in scale and frequency than in previous times.[51]

Vikings themselves were expanding; although their motives are unclear, historians believe that scarce resources were a factor.[52]

The "Highway of Slaves" was a term used to describe a route that the Vikings found to have a direct pathway from Scandinavia to Constantinople and Baghdad while traveling on the Baltic Sea. With the advancements of their ships during the ninth century, the Vikings were able to sail to Russia and some northern parts of Europe.[53]

Migration of Jats to the New World

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[54] writes....we may very well attempt an account of migrations of Asias and Indian including remote ancestors of Jat to the New World across the Pacific ocean, on the other side of the globe, in the Neolithic period. Of late, the view that the Americas were totally unknown to Asia and Europe, has been widely challenged, and ample evidence has come to view now pointing to several people of the Old World having made incursions to the Americas in remote antiquity. The Reader's Digest in its book "Strange Stories, Amazing Facts" (1990 : 216 ff) says that "few lands have been discovered as often as America. The Phoenicians, Irish, Vikings, Welsh and Chinese voyaged to the New World before Columbus (1492 A.D.). A sixth century legend has us believe that a Buddhist monk, Hoei Shin, found a continent called Fusang. Was it America? No one has answered the question". Among these, we believe, people from India were the most important migrants to these continents, having crossed to them and actually settled-there.

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[55] writes... The fact, that a number of Saka (Scythian) tribes migrated from Sapta Sindhu and central Asia to the New World between 8000 to 12000 years ago, indubitably establishes the truth that the Old World was their cradle at that time. But, unfortunately, the ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine writers, and the subsequent European and Indian historians who followed them, do not stipulate the antiquity of these people earlier than, at the most, 2500 B.C. To suspect, however, as a few scholars do, that so far as the antiquity of the Sakas (Sacae or Scythians) is concerned, the) might have been the victim of a 'conspiracy of silence' of the ancient chroniclers and their disciples, will be very unfair to them. All in all, we may say that these writers on the Scythians (Sakas or Sacae or Getae) did not have the benefit of the evidence which, consequent upon the latest researches in various sciences, is available to present students of the subject to determine the antiquity and migrations of these adventurous people. It is, perhaps, Waddell, followed by Calvin Kephart, Bridget Allchins, Siddhartha and Purushottam Singh who drew directly or indirectly our attention for the first time to the honourable antiquity of the Sakas or Getae and their migrations. Kephart even goes to the extent of saying that these people, after moving from higher reaches of the Indus river (Sapta Sindhu) to the fertile valley of the Oxus, gave their name Gete to it in circa 8000 B.C. and became the progenitors of the White (Nordic or Aryan) race.

Jat History

Mangal Sen Jindal[56] writes....Vikings: "The most widespread and destructive raiders came from Scandinavia. During the ninth and tenth centuries, Swedes, Danes and Norwagians- collectively known as Vikings stormed out of their remote forests and fiords. The Danes took the middle passage, raiding England and the shores of Germany, France and Spain. By the 870's they had occupied most of England, north of the Thames. Also in the middle of the ninth century their furry broke upon the continent, where their long boats sailed up the Rhine, Scheldt, Seine and Loire. In particular the Danes devastated north west France,

History of Origin of Some Clans in India:End of p.99

destroying dozens of abbeys and towns." [57]

"West of the Oder estuary, on the other hand, the coast features contrast with those of Pomerania and between Rostock and Jutland the natural conditions for maritime commerce were excellent, since vessals found there abundant shelter, and could navigate well inland, off the east coast of Jutland the sea is shallow and sheltered from the west winds, and the Testiary rock which forms this low coastland has offered resistance to marine erosion: in consequence, the coast has not been smoothed out as in Pomerania but is actually deeply embayed. More-over in the Western part of the Baltic, islands are concentrated: Rugon stands at the mouth of the Oder; Funen and Zealand lie between Jutland and Sweden; and the island of Bornland and Gothland are situated in relation to neighbouring coasts as to form useful maritime stations or tradecentres." [58]

"Moreover, as early as 1526 the Dutch had formed the idea (which however, was not realized) of making Goteborg in south-western Sweden a great staple port, so that goods could be carried overland into the Baltic and the sound dues could be evaded. In order to avoid payment of the toll dues they sought also the route along the coasts of Norway to the Arctic and white Sea ports of Russia." [59]

"The Goths were the first to occupy Roman Dacia, A.D. 250 ; in 270 the province was abandoned, and the lower Danube re-fortified as the frontier line; whilst by 350 the Goths had pushed their territories as far west as the lower Tisza. Their subsequent invasion of Gaula may have followed the Roman Danubian roads; it is known merely that they crossed the Rhine and captured Metz." ... [60]

History of Origin of Some Clans in India:End of p.100


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