The Early Society of Vikings

One of the many things Vikings loved to do in their free time was to tell stories about their Gods. Odin was said to be one of their most important Gods. However, he was not the most popular. Thor was the most popular God.

The Vikings lived in Scandinavia, which consists of modern day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Scandinavia had many mountains, forests, and other grassy areas. The Vikings who lived there were not just scavengers and raiders. A lot of them were peaceful farmers. The farmers lived on the coast of Scandinavia because it had fertile land for agriculture where they grew oats, carrots, wheat, rye, barley, and turnips. The Vikings also traded goods like deer antlers, pottery, wood, leather, ivory, iron and bone with villagers from neighboring towns.

A farmer usually did not work alone; most farmers had thralls, or slaves. Most of the people living in Scandinavia were karls, which were free people. In each community, the richest landowner was the leader. This person was called the jarl. As the population grew, there was not much farm land left. Therefore, the Vikings left Scandinavia in search of more farm land and riches.

The Thing was the Vikings' version of government. It was an annual meeting involving the locals that lasted multiple days. Any free man who needed to solve an argument or had a complaint had a chance to speak. His peers would listen to the appeal and try to give a reasonable judgment. If the petitioner rebelled against The Thing's ruling, anyone could kill them because they became an outlaw.

Although many movies portray vikings as savages, they were hard working people who were resourceful with what they had and what they were given. The Vikings became wealthy because of their efforts.

[Source: World History Encyclopedia]