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Why Were Vikings So Much Better At Fighting?

Why Were Vikings So Much Better At Fighting?

They are credited with inventing the Western
version of the hair comb, and they were the first Westerners to use skis. They were the Vikings, and these accomplishments
are not what these Norse people are best known for. The Vikings captured the attention of the
world when they decided to terrorize parts of Europe and Russia with a series of raids
that occurred between the 8th and 11th centuries. This period of time came to be known as the
Viking Age. During these raids, they would loot communities,
destroy property, kill people, and take others as slaves. In 860, one monk wrote, “Everywhere the
Christians are the victims of massacres, burnings, plundering. The Vikings conquer all in their path and
nothing resists them . . . ” Their reputation in combat remains untarnished today even though
Viking experts such as Else Roesdahl caution “they did not win all of their battles – far
from it – even though many people seem to think so.” Why did the Vikings have the edge over those
they plundered? 1. The Vikings were well-trained. Males received weapons training at an early
age. In their youth, they engaged in “hunting,
sports and raiding” according to a BBC article. They learned how to fight not just for the
raids but also for self-defense. One sources describes how “it was a requirement
that all male Vikings had completed weapons training so they could defend their villages
during attacks.” In addition, Vikings had their own form of
martial arts called Glima. According to an ancient history website, this
style of martial arts “includes throws, blows, kicks, chokes, locks, pain techniques,
and weapon techniques.” There are two types of glima: combat glima
and sport glima. In the past, Viking warriors learned combat
glima, while men, women, and children learned sport glima. People still practice both forms of Glima
today. 2. The Vikings were well-armed. From a young age, Viking warriors were taught
to always have their weapons within reach and ready to use. One Norse gnomic poem called the Hávamál
offered this advice about being prepared to fight at all times: Let a man never stir on his road a step
without his weapons of war; for unsure is the knowing when need shall
arise of a spear on the way without. The BBC notes that “laws of the late Viking
period show that all free men were expected to own weapons.” However, this could be a problem for some
Vikings because weapons were expensive. History on the Net points out that “only
the richest Vikings would own the complete set of available weaponry: sword, sax (a short
sword), axe, spear, bow and arrows, shield, helmet and chainmail.” Vikings who were poor often had to settle
for carrying “an axe or a spear and a shield.” Instead of fancy metal helmets and chainmail,
experts speculate that they wore something that many of us don’t think of as protective
battle gear. The BBC reports that “reindeer hide is said
to have been used as armour,” and “caps of hide may have been commonly worn.” One way a poor Viking could get better weapons
was to work under a wealthier Viking because “magnates were expected to provide them
for their men.” Besides self-defense, weapons were important
as “symbols of their owners’ status and wealth” according to the BBC. Weapons with fancy decorations indicated high
social rank and great wealth. “Inlays, twisted wire and other adornments
in silver, copper and bronze” were just some of the ways the Vikings displayed their
wealth and power on their weapons. Only a privileged few owned an “Ulfberht”
sword, which had the reputation of being one of the finest weapons made during their time. According to an Epoch Times article, they
were “made with metal so strong and pure it’s baffling how any sword maker of that
time could have accomplished it.” Experts today are still trying to figure out
how these swords were crafted. One of them is modern blacksmith Richard Furrer,
who “forged a sword of Ulfberht quality” with technology of the Middle Ages. His work was featured in a NOVA documentary
called “Secrets of the Viking Sword.” Despite his great skill, Furrer called it
the “most complicated thing he’d ever made.” He also added that the ability “to make
a weapon that could bend without breaking, stay so sharp, and weigh so little would be
regarded as supernatural.” 3. The Vikings did not fear death. The Vikings were not afraid of death as long
as they lived and died with honor. Honor was one of the Nine Noble Virtues, which
were the foundation of a code of ethics that played an important part in Norse Paganism. According to one source, honor involved “one’s
reputation and moral compass,” and it “reminds us that our deeds, words, and reputation will
outlive our bodies.” Participating in raids was a win-win situation
for the Vikings. Dying in combat would add to their honor as
long as they fought with courage to the end. “It was honourable to die valiantly on the
battlefield – and honour was more important than anything,” says Roesdahl. The Vikings also believed an honorable death
in battle would earn them a one-way trip to a glorious afterlife with either the god Odin
in Valhalla or the goddess Freyja in Fólkvangr. If they lived, they could not only gain honor
for themselves but also enjoy their share of the loot from the raids. 4. The Vikings were masters at surprise attacks. One of the main reasons for the Vikings’
success in warfare was their ability to come upon their targets quickly and unexpectedly,
attack and plunder them, and then leave as quickly as they arrived before their victims
could get help or strike back. Viking longships made these surprise attacks
possible. According to the BBC, these ships ranged in
length “between about 17.5m (57.4 feet) and 36m (118.1 feet).” Equipped with sails and oars, they ran on
both wind power and manpower. Longships could reach an “average speed
of 10 to 11 knots (11.5 to 12.7 mph)” and commonly carried “crews of 25 to 60 men.” One source notes that the “Vikings praised
their boats for their lightness and flexibility.” Longships could be used for sea voyages, but
they could also handle inland waters. The BBC describes how the “shallow draught
of these ships meant that they were able to reach far inland by river and stream, striking
and moving on before local forces could muster.” The Vikings also engaged in some psychological
warfare to add to the terror caused by their surprise attacks. The BBC states that the Vikings placed “fearsome
figureheads . . . at stem and stern as a sign of warlike intent, underlined by rows of shields
mounted along the sides for defence or show.” They also placed fearsome looking troops called
berserkers at the front of their troop formations according to History Extra. One source describes the berserkers as “members
of an unruly warrior gang that worshipped Odin, the supreme Norse deity, and were commissioned
to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and ‘shock troops’, who would strike fear
into all who encountered them.” Berserkers were generally thought to wear
bear and wolf pelts instead of armor, but the National Museum of Denmark claims that
they fought completely naked. Their behavior was as shocking as their appearance,
especially when they were in a trance state known as berserkergang. This state led to a “great rage, under which
they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down everything
they met without discriminating between friend or foe” according to one source. 5. The Vikings often planned their attacks carefully. The Vikings were not afraid to use physical
force during raids, but they preferred to “work smarter and not harder” as the saying
goes. They looked for easy targets. The National Museum of Denmark states that
they liked to attack monasteries because they “often contained large amounts of ecclesiastical
silver and were not as well defended as the trading towns.” One military history website notes that the
Vikings also “attacked selected targets in coastal areas and near large rivers due
to superior strategic mobility.” In other words, they raided coastal and river
communities because they could easily arrive and escape from these locations on their longships. Location was not the only strategic concern
for the Vikings. According to, they also
relied on a “vast network” of spies who provided them with information about the activities
of their intended targets such as treasuries. Roesdahl describes how the Vikings “surveilled
the areas within their reach” and “then waited for the right moment to strike.” They also took advantage of areas with “political
unrest.” states that areas with “internal
struggles” were easy pickings because warring factions were more focused on fighting each
other than trying “to protect towns or monasteries against raiding Vikings.” This careful planning allowed the Vikings
to transition from conducting what History on the Net calls “small, disorganized raids”
to amassing “thousands of men into a Great Army” that allowed them to conquer and “colonize”
several countries, including “England, Ireland, northern France and parts of Russia around
Novgorod and Kiev,” toward the end of the Viking Age. Who do you think are the best warriors of
all time? Also, be sure to check out our other video
called What Was Life of a Viking Warrior Like? Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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100 thoughts on “Why Were Vikings So Much Better At Fighting?

  1. Vikings? They found Europe emptied after centuries of wars and invasions, no wonder they could collect everything they wanted at their leisure. Just like Arabs could do the same after Romans and Persians fought each other for 7 centuries: they had easy time on two exhausted enemies, so they could easily take Middle East, North Africa and Spain.
    And Vikings could only buy weapons and armors from the Franks, since they had no necessary technology.

  2. They weren’t better fighters. They surprise attacked villages and often ran away when confronted. Y’all watch too much tv🙄

  3. You forgot to add in that they also went as far as America. That has been historically proven. Long before Columbus were even thought of.

  4. Yeah you do have advantage when your strategy is suprised attacks against I'll prepared civilians who are weaponless.

  5. so did the vikings discover america first and did they fight rome

    thats what the books of httyd told us is that is was a viking who first discovered america

  6. Corection vikings did not wear hide armor becase it offer little protection poor vikings just used normal clothes for combat

  7. 7:35 You put a viking on Finland but not Denmark? O_o Clearly this is another person just citing things without proper understanding

  8. There aren’t a lot of actual written sources. Especially about beserkers.Some sources say that were a force of men who fought like animals. Mostly Christian sources.

    Other sources say they were more like champions to settle legal disputes not duels.

  9. The only horned helmets found in Scandinavia are from the BRONZE AGE, 2000 years BEFORE the Viking Age. Vikings didn't wear horned helmets. They'd have been too cumbersome in combat.

  10. They weren't better fighting, they were just raiders, attacking always in undefended areas. The myth comes from the Varangian Guard during the Bizantine empire. But those were proffesional elite soldiers.

  11. Well the entire idea of the Norse religion is that you want to die fighting in a losing battle. And that everything is fixed and fate can't ever be changed.
    They also had a technological advantage with better knowledge of metal working (for weapons and armor) and better knowledge of medicine than anyone else in Europe at the time.

  12. Spartans are the WARRIORS, at age 7/8 sons would be taking into the governments hands and be trained with extremes and abuse. They didn’t focus on trading besides making slaves do all the work for them in the empire and ONLY focused on getting stronger in combat and such through training.
    They were the definition of meatheads. Uneducated and overpowered

  13. Viking were ruthless because of the berserkers. And because they took shrooms before battle. Shrooms has a huge significance in the myth and the religion. It was used to commune with the Gods and to slaughter their enemies.

  14. A Viking is being a raider. Often Vikings during the Viking age where not religious. It’s like being a mercenary that attacks the richest target today.

  15. Vikings didn't have double bladed axes, maces, plate armor or horned helmets like these caricatures, also their shields we're held by hand, not straps over the wrist.

  16. I disagree with the opinion that the Vikings were the strongest, and that they were planning battles beforehand.
    Viking warriors were humiliated in Georgia. The king Giorgi II hired few thousands of Variags (Vikings) to achieve victory against rebelled lord of Sasireti, Liparit. While Giorgi II was planning the battle and thinking of tactics, Vikins decided act on their own desires and attacked the army of Liparit. Georgian warriors utterly demolished Vikings and humilated them by making the survivors use the road covered in flour (which was precious to Vikings, because their homeland lacked it). This behavior of Vikings resulted in further losses of th king.Vikings have never shown their faces after in Georgia.

  17. What question is that?! (only kidding) For me its definatly etheir Sparta (check that vid he did) or the Romans (again check that out):}

  18. get a viking as a shock troop, a Spartan spearman, a medieval knight as a tank, a japanese Samurai as a jack of all trades, a roman legionaire for close support, a Carthaganian armored elephant as a siege weapon, a mongol horse archer for harassing the enemy, a Persian catapracht as a shock cavalry, a Japanese ninja for spying, an American agent for also spying, give them all Katanas made with titanium, and side arms made of damascus steel, give them AK47s, and let them be led by Nicolai Tesla.

  19. As a historical fact all germanic people were best at fighting. Has nothing to do with outer circumstances. Even Napoleon the Great knew this.. .

  20. Here is something I always wanted to know. Maybe some Scandinavians have some opinions. Why do you think the viking region went from being so war-like to so pacifist?

  21. Native Americans had been able to fight off vikings. And vikings and Chinese relics had been found on north American soil

  22. The “Nine Noble Virtues” are a modern Odinist set of virtues that have more to do with Christian holdover than (what little we know of) historically accurate Norse pagan beliefs.

  23. They avoided any army or organized militia. As soon as France started building fortified bridges, the raids decreased or stopped. We are talking about thiefs and rapists, don't forget.

  24. This video makes it sound like they were some big warrior cult, trained from birth for battle.
    They were mostly just Swedish and Danish farmers who got together a few times a year to steal from vulnerable villages and churches.
    Their own martial art? It’s called wrestling, everyone did that. Expected to carry weapons? Everyone would have already had basic tools that could be used for defense, like an axe or a spear.
    They were like any other countries, with bureaucracy and invasions and exploring and trading.

  25. All that rowing must have gave them great upper body strength and they had the ability to heat steel 100 Celsius higher than other Europeans.

  26. The Vikings consumed a specific type of mushroom 🍄 that helped them survive the cold weather so they could survive in uncovered long ships and also ate this same mushroom that temporarily made them have no fear, feel less pain, and made them very aggressive to the point they basically had no reservations about killing men, women, children etc.

  27. The vikings won because every last one of them was a FREEMAN CAPABLE OF LEGALLY OWNING WEAPONS AND EVEN THEIR WOMEN FOUGHT IF THEY WANTED TO. …which is why those who favor despotic socialism hate them and us so much.

  28. This is Viking history told by a British and Roman point of view. As a person with Danish ancestry, this video makes me want to go berserk. (joke)

    Many of the Vikings relocated to the lands that they later inhabited because they were paid to defend the settlements and were given land to farm.

  29. All I know is that whole epic scene in the beginning of GLADIATOR with Russell Crowe is somewhat misleading.What seems to be a Scandinavian tribe or some halfass attempt to depict a Viking army getting brutally defeated by General Maximus is only somewhat true.
    Maximus Decimus Meridius (his full name is stated only once in the film) is a fictitious character!

    Although he did not exist, he seems to be a composite of actual historical figures. In the film, Maximus was Marcus Aurelius’ general. There was in fact a general by the name of Avidius Cassius, who was involved in the military campaign shown in the film, and, upon hearing a rumor of Marcus Aurelius’ death, declared himself emperor. He however, was assassinated by his own soldiers. It is true that there was, in the later Empire, a General by the name of Maximus who appears to have had revolutionary intentions. He is most likely an inspiration as well.

    A viking is defined as a Scandinavian pirate or sea raider during the period of about 795 to 1100 AD at the widest. … Thus it is impossible for western Romans before 476 AD to ever encounter vikings since no Scandinavians ever went on viking raids to Roman territories until after the western Roman Empire fell. The tribal people depicted in the beginning of GLADIATOR were the ancestors of who we would call "Vikings"….they predated Vikings by 600 years & were called the Marcomanni.

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