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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 1:43 am    Post subject: Charlemagne's Carolingian Raids Of Scandinavia To Convert         Reply with quote

Rarely do I see anything published pointing out the fact that prior to the Viking raids of England and Europe that Charlemagne sent the Carolingian Army north to the Scandinavian lands to convert the pagans by force, in one particular instance where 4,500 men women and children were slaughtered by the Carolingians. This was prior to any Viking attacks and in "my" opinion these acts of force ordered by Charlemagne were the cause of the Viking attacks which were really retaliations.
Perhaps this is "Not popular" history? This is often omitted in books on the Vikings from what I have found.

Thought I would toss this out in the forum for discussion.

Bob
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 7:32 am    Post subject: Re: Charlemagne's Carolingian Raids Of Scandinavia To Conver         Reply with quote

Bob Burns wrote:
Rarely do I see anything published pointing out the fact that prior to the Viking raids of England and Europe that Charlemagne sent the Carolingian Army north to the Scandinavian lands to convert the pagans by force, in one particular instance where 4,500 men women and children were slaughtered by the Carolingians. This was prior to any Viking attacks and in "my" opinion these acts of force ordered by Charlemagne were the cause of the Viking attacks which were really retaliations.
Perhaps this is "Not popular" history? This is often omitted in books on the Vikings from what I have found.

Thought I would toss this out in the forum for discussion.

Bob


Interesting theory and there may be something to it !? Something not often mentioned and certainly I haven't read someone making the connection before to the later Viking raids.

The Viking may have been " ready " in any case to start their exploring/commerce/raiding ( depending on the day and opportunity. Wink Laughing Out Loud ) but the Carolingian adventure may have woken them up sooner or been the drop that make the glass overflow ? Also, any minimal, for the period, qualms about raiding and pillaging would be negated considering the " THEY CAME HERE FIRST AND KILLED SOME OF US " ! Revenge would have given them a little more motivation to
" visit " the Franks: A little Viking tourism. Wink Laughing Out Loud

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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob,


I suppose this isn't the very best topic for today, it being Christmas and all. But what the heck! Please, if you wouldn't mind, flesh out your information about these attacks. Were these attacks on what we call Denmark today or against Denmark and Sweden? I would imagine that Norway would have been largely protected by geographic isolation. I have to admit that I have never heard of them. A force of 4500 seems pretty large for that time and place, were there any pitched battles? I have read that the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity was pretty violent and I believe that the impetus for sailing to Greenland & Iceland was to escape forcible conversion among other things; although that would be at a much later date.

Its hard for me to see the Viking raids as being motivated by revenge as opposed to economics but I suppose such attacks would foster an us against them mentality.

Best regards,


Ken
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This idea has been mentioned before. I have only vague recollections, so may be way out here, but I thought that the Carolingian attacks/forced conversions were more on the Saxon lands (low countries/western germanic lands/maybe southern Denmark) than into the Scandinavian peninsula 'proper'.
Geoff
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
Bob,


I suppose this isn't the very best topic for today, it being Christmas and all. But what the heck! Please, if you wouldn't mind, flesh out your information about these attacks. Were these attacks on what we call Denmark today or against Denmark and Sweden? I would imagine that Norway would have been largely protected by geographic isolation. I have to admit that I have never heard of them. A force of 4500 seems pretty large for that time and place, were there any pitched battles? I have read that the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity was pretty violent and I believe that the impetus for sailing to Greenland & Iceland was to escape forcible conversion among other things; although that would be at a much later date.

Its hard for me to see the Viking raids as being motivated by revenge as opposed to economics but I suppose such attacks would foster an us against them mentality.

Best regards,


Ken


You're right not very Christmassy, but we are " crazy ". Razz Laughing Out Loud

Back to Topic: I think you misread the 4500 part as it seems that Bob was talking here of the numbers of women and children killed and not the size of the Carolingian army.

Could very well be Denmark or maybe this from Wikipedia that Bob is referring to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne#Saxon_Wars

Now how related to Vikings would the Saxons of this period be ? And how far North would the " resentment " and feelings of revenge be felt ?

I'm fairly sure that no Carolingian expedition would have gone much further than Denmark or maybe only close to Denmark ? Would this have had any cause & effect related to later Viking raids ? I don't know ! We need someone who has expertise in early Viking history and the age immediately preceding it.

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think there is a slight confusion...

As far as I know, Charlemagne never attacked any Scandinavian country. Not even Denmark. He had a war with the Saxons that lasted for a long time, a Saxon leader, Widikind, found refuge in Denmark, possibly many others, but there was no direct attack.

The slaughter Bob refers to seems to have happened in 782 near Verden. It was not a battle, in fact there are doubts about the very existence of this tragic event since no archeological proof was discovered.

Indeed Charlemagne was hostile towards paganism, and that could have participated in the motivation of the early raids. But I personally doubt it was the main motive...

As Jean said, Wikipedia has a lot of info on that. Alas I'm not the expert he is looking for Wink

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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am trying to find the information again that I had come across a few months ago. I posted before I found it again, thinking it would be simple to do. It had to do with Charlemagne seeking to Christianize the people in the north of the Scandinavian lands and I believe it was Sweden, in fact I am almost sure.
I will keep on searching till I find this again. I should have waited until I found it before I posted. Ah well.
Also, and I forgot to mention this, I was wondering if anyone else has come across information like this? The intent is not to start a debate or any kind of arguement, it is solely to seek knowledge.
It's going to drive me nuts until I find this information again. Laughing Out Loud
Actually, there is no intent to offend theological beliefs Exclamation I would NEVER do that!


Here are some of Charlemagnes other attacks for the meantime.

January 774 CE. Charlemagne vows to convert the Saxons, or, failing that, to wipe them out.

780 CE. Charlemagne decrees the death penalty for all who fail to be baptised, who fail to keep Christian festivals, who cremate their dead, who are hostile toward Christians, etc etc.

782 CE. 4,500 Saxon nobles are beheaded in one day at Verden on the Alter for refusing to convert.

804 CE. The last heathen resistance in Saxony is put down. In thirty years of genocide, from 774 to 804, two thirds of the Saxons have been killed.

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Bob
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

Well, I agree on both counts. I misread (actually mis-remembered) Bob's post and, yes, we are clearly crazy. That why we're here talking about what we're talking about. Beats watching football in my book.

Bob, no harm no foul, if you confused the Saxons with the Scandinavians, no big deal. It sounds, from the wikpedia note, like the northern Saxons were just across the Baltic from what would become Sweden. I think.

It is an interesting dynamic of religions that when they are small and weak they tend to be pacifistic in nature and when they are large and powerful they tend to be militant and aggressive.

I think that the conversion of the Scandinavians was pretty much a top down thing. Harold Finehair in Norway I think, I don't know who in Sweden. Harold Finehair and friends apparently could be pretty tough on recalcitrant pagans if I remember my readings ( I wasn't there in case any of you were wondering!) Also the Swedish flag is supposed to be inspired by someone holding a golden cross up to a bright blue sky prior to starting a "crusade" to convert the Finns.

I'm sure one of our Scandinavian contributors can set me straight, I've probably got at least some of the detail wrong.

Inasmuch as we're supposed to be talking about swords and the like. There is the story/saga of Thorvald Thorvaldson. Apparently he set out for Greenland and got lost so he and his men and family and some slaves landed on an island and lived there for a while. There wasn't a lot to eat and while he and his men were out trying to find food, his slaves stabbed his wife and stole a boat and sailed on. When he returned to camp he found his wife dead but their son, a suckling babe, alive. He and his men set sail with the baby and the only way he could keep the baby alive was to cut his own chest and feed the baby with his own blood. When they got to Greenland Lief Ericson's men made fun of him, saying he was a strange man capable of suckling his own child. This almost started a battle. He settled in Greenland and raised his son alone. When his son was older the boy told his father he was going to play with the big dog. When Thorvald heard screams he discovered his son was playing with a polar bear which he killed or drove off with a sword. Later when his son was older they were fishing and his son was swept from the boat and drowned and then the sea swept his son's body back into the boat. Thorvald is credited with composing a poem which is heartbreaking in its beauty about the death of his son. I read about this a long time ago in a book called West Viking written by Farley Mowatt



Ken
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it seems you guys have sorted it out mostly. I just like to add that the process of christianization of Scandinavia is very well researched and there are volumes of material about it, from all sorts of perspectives. It has been a popular field in academic circles in scandinavia for ages. Most of it is in local languages of course. But it is a fascinating period of our histpry, when what will eventually be three (late more) independent states actually starts to emerge. If you are interested I can give you some pointers. But I will not drag this thread OT Wink
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much for the feedback so far everyone. My primary question is, could this have been the primer that ignited the Viking raids? Since, as far as I know, there were no Viking raids on England and the European Continent prior to this activity.

This is intriguing to me.

Bob
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard this too. I recall having read it in two places but it beats me just where, sadly.

Makes sense to me. The Norse where great traders, and they seemed to raid Christian lands a lot. Probably was revenge -- even if the slaughter of 4500 never happened, word of it would "make" it happen, if you follow.

Interestingly, I am one of the above mentioned pagans.

M.

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Kjell Magnusson




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I don't think I've ever seen this mentioned at all in any Swedish history book, so general opinion is that it didn't affect the Swedish vikings at least I guess, though admittedly one should probably look more towards the danes and norwegians when wondering about raids towards France and the British islands. My rather un-educated guess would probably be that the viking raids were more a result of possibility, ie once all the required elements were in place (the raiders, the ships, and the victims), the raids got going mostly due to "universal" factors (greed, boredom) than any specific event acting as a trigger.
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Nicolai Overgaard




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with Kjell on this. Being a Dane myself and a student of History at the University I never heard that the killings of women and children in what is now northen Germany had any impact on the Danes. The Danes were at this time a fairly big people governed by one chief or king and I don't belive that what happened in early Germany would have affected their raids. As Kjell said it was more a question of conquest, boredom and greed.

Cheers

Nicolai
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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob, in the chronology of universal history published by the National Alumni back in 1905, the first landing by Danes is reported on the Isle of Sheppey in what is now England in 832, they ravage the Lowlands through 35 and 36 and then go up the Rhine in 37, they only hit the Loire region occupied by the Franks in 38, Charlemagne had been dead since 814. I really can't see retaliation as a motive, especially as the wars of Charlemagne were against the Saxons, the Huns, the Saracens and their allies the Basques. Also I would be careful with the use of the word genocide which has a particular connotation in its modern use: as Franks and Saxons are from the same racial pool of germanic peoples, it would be difficult to lay the term genocide at Charlemagne's feet. There didn't seem to be any intent on eliminating a people but rather the elite of a rival ideological ( read : religious) system, while readily accepting crossovers ( read: converts). This is not compatible with the concept of genocide as we understand it today and the concept didn't exist back then. Finally ,retaliation against the Franks would have been thin consolation to the Irish and Welsh who never were connected to Charlemagne but nevertheless were hit repeatedly, and occupied, by viking marauders. All for now, Xmas guests have arrived for supper. Season's cheer to all.
Bon coeur et bon bras
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean, that was a copy paste from a website I had found on the years and the activities and not my words.
I should have stipulated that now that you mention it. Thanks!

Bob
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harald Fairhair was as far as I remember a pagan. The christening of Norway became a political issue later, in the 900s.

I do however tend to belive that the opposition to christendom has been exagerated in later times. As polytheist the average norseman would not have any reason to be scheptical or hostile to a new god.
However, to the medevial scribes the "crusades" of the early kings speak of their virtue. Further more "new age" neo-pagans has the "repression" of traditional religion by christendom as one of their central themes, and project this on their image of the Vikings. (as pagan equal opportunity biker-indians)

However, one point about Norse religion that should be remembered is that it to was tightly tied to social status and politics.
The local leaders where also, in the capacity of their wealth, the religious leaders.
In a religion where sacrefice and feasts where central element, those who could afford to honour the gods gained a lot of status, as they could effectively deny whoever they disliked to take part.
Thus, introducing christendom strengthened the central ruler, by taking away some of the influence of local Big Men.

The social system where patronage and distribution of gifts where the prime political strategy, was also a key to the raiding. A big man needs wealth to distribute. The easiest way to acquire this was by raiding. It was low cost, and quite safe, as the chance of retaliation from an overseas target was virtually nil.
Internal raiding, however, was banned quite early on in the Scandinavian countries. Plundering within one's own country was punished by being outlawed. Thus, the "primitive warfare" of raiding the next valley and stealing their sheep was not that widespread.
Plunder as a part of war, however, was acceptable, if not strictly legal. Which is part of the reason every two bit pack of brigands in scandinavia has a pretender.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What I remember seeing those few months ago, took place in the mid 770's and it had to do with Charlemagne sending the Carolinginians North to the Scandinavian area. Not seeing this source for a few months I am now starting to wonder if it was indeed the Saxons up in the area of what is now Sweden?
I sure do appreciate all the feedback though, very much so Exclamation

Thank You

Bob
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec, 2007 1:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob,
The Saxons lived in what is today Germany on the European mainland while Sweden is located on the Scandinavian penninsula which is cut of from mainland Europe by the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The Carolingians were a land based power and had no ability to project power by water let alone so far north as the Scandinavian penninsula.
These two maps should help to clarify the geography, as you can see Saxony is a long way from Sweden,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Frankish_E...814-en.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Viking_Expansion.svg
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Audun Refsahl




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec, 2007 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ynglinge saga, the first book in snorres saga, covering the time before halvdan svarte (the black) harald hårfagres (fairhair) father, mentions several times "seakings" viking chiefs with a band of warriors that did not have their own land, but worked more like pirates or mercenaries, mostly in the baltic sea. this takes place way before the first attacks on england and france etc. theres no dating ofcourse, but counting generations you could guess some hundred years before the attack on lindisfarne. I have always just assumed that these guys just found an easier prey, and then spread the word back home.
the snorre saga does not mention any attacks from the carolingians or others, in sweden or norway.
however, snorre saga is not the most accurate historical document, as it is an oral tradition written down by a christian in the 1200s, with good intentions perhaps but still inaccurate, and I'm sure someone will protest using this as a source:)

just bacon...
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Daniel! Well one thing for sure, what I had read the carolingians definitely went to Scandinavia by order of Charlemagne to force conversion. I gotta find this again. It's driving me nuts! Laughing Out Loud

Bob
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