The Vikings were extraordinary warriors who pillaged Europe a thousand years ago.
They lived in tribes in North Europe (today Denmark, Norway and Sweden). The tribes lived in small villages or communities. Each community had a council called the Thing or Folkmoot, which was very important. It was even more important than the king or the chief of the community. The Thing decided should the Vikings go to a war; it gave judgments against criminals by its own laws. The laws were made by the people who were in the council. Those were nobles and freemen. The third social group, the slaves, couldn't have their influence over the Thing.
The Vikings looted a lot of European countries: England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia and Spain. A Viking explorer, Leif Ericson, found North America shores 500 years before Columbus did in 1492, and named the new land Vinland. Viking ships carried the settlers to the Greenland and Iceland before Europeans even heard of those islands.
The name, the Vikings, came after their age probably from the name of the pirate center in today southern Norway. The expression “to go a Viking” was used by the Scandinavians with the mining to fight like a pirate or a warrior. Most Scandinavians lead peaceful lives most of the time. Not all of them did fight like pirates incessant. However, during the fights, they looked unbelievable – warriors from the tales! Swords, axes, knives, cold shields and strong helmets were their famous equipment.
The Vikings spoke a Germanic language which had two dialects. All of the Vikings understood both of them. They wrote in runes.
In the Vikings' times it was allowed to have two, or even more wives depending of how wealthy the man was. They had two meals daily: one in the morning and the other one in the evening. Their religion was very important to them. The main gods of the Vikings were: Odin, Thor and Freya. The holy day was Wednesday. It was equal to nowadays Sunday.
We remember the Vikings as very brave warriors, but the excellent ship-builders, too. They had several types of the ships. The Viking pirates sailed near the shore without any problems, because the ships were very easy to navigate. They didn't use technology at all. While sailing, they navigated the ship depending on landmarks and seabirds.