The Vikings were Scandinavian warriors who raided and settled in various parts of Europe, including England and Ireland, between the ninth and 11th centuries. The nations of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden arose from Viking kingdoms. A Viking called Rurik founded Russia's royal Rurik dynasty. The Normans (or Northmen), who conquered England in 1066, came from the French duchy of Normandy, which had been founded by the Viking leader Rollo. Even the elite palace guard of the Byzantine Empire was originally made up largely of Vikings called Varangians.
Vikings settled Iceland starting in the ninth century. They founded the first European settlement in Greenland in the 10th century. The short-lived 11th century Viking colony of Vinland was probably located in what is now Canada. By the 12th century the Viking Age was over, but the wide-ranging Norsemen had helped shape the modern world.
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The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings by Lars Brownworth. Brings to life the Norse world of epic poets, heroes, and travellers through the stories of the great Viking figures, including Eric Bloodaxe, who ruled in York, and crafty king Harald Hardrada.
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings edited by Peter H. Sawyer. Twelve leading scholars draw on the latest research and archaeological evidence to provide a clear picture of this fabled people.
The Vikings and Their Origins: Scandinavia in the First Millennium by David M. Wilson. Describes the history and culture of the Vikings, and discusses their influence on European civilization.
Viking Pirates and Christian Princes: Dynasty, Religion, and Empire in the North Atlantic by Benjamin T. Hudson. This book studies two Viking families who started as pagan raiders and reinvented themselves as Christian rulers.
The Vikings by Else Roesdahl. The Vikings had a major impact on European history through trade, travel, and far-flung colonization. This encyclopedic study paints a rich and compelling picture of Viking civilization.
The Norsemen in the Viking Age by Eric Christiansen. Describes families, politics, war, work, and more.
Vikings: Life and Legend edited by Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz, and Matthias Wemhoff; foreword by Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Explores Viking culture from a global perspective, focusing on the late 8th to early 11th centuries.
Women in the Viking Age by Judith Jesch. Covers most aspects of women's lives in the Viking age, and serves as a useful general introduction to the period.
Women in Old Norse Society by Jenny Jochens. A detailed study of the lives of Christian and pagan Norse women.
Egil's Saga translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards. Thought to have been written by Snorri Sturluson in about 1230, this panoramic Viking history chronicles the wars and rivalries of five generations of ruling clans in ninth and 10th century Iceland and Norway.
Vinland Sagas: Norse Discovery of America translated by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson. Translation of two medieval Icelandic sagas -- the Graenlendinga Saga and Eirik's Saga -- that describe how Eirik the Red founded a colony in Greenland and his son, Leif the Lucky, sailed south to explore an unknown land.
The Saga of the Jomsvikings translated by Lee M. Hollander, illustrated by Malcolm Thurgood. In 986 AD, Earl Hakon, ruler of Norway, won a battle against the Danes at Hjorunga Bay. Sailing under his banner were five Icelandic skalds (poet-historians). This saga relates what they saw and heard.
Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney translated by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards. Written around 1200 AD by an unknown Icelandic author, this saga describes the conquest of the Northern Isles (Scotland's Orkney and Shetland islands) and Caithness (a county in Scotland) by the kings of Norway during the Viking expansion of the ninth century, and goes on to narrate the history of the Earldom of Orkney.
Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum. An illustrated introduction.
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson. Recent research has added to our knowledge of the gods and goddesses worshipped in the Viking Age. This book describes the gods and their cults.
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson. Scholarly look at the similarities and contrasts between the religions of the pre-Christian Celts, Germans, and Scandinavians.
Nordic Religions in the Viking Age by Thomas A. Dubois. Examines the complex exchange of customs and religious beliefs between the pre-Christian societies of Northern Europe and the Christian nations of the Mediterranean.
Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas by Helene A. Guerber. Offers insight into the nature and meaning of the myths.
Norse Mythology by John Lindow. A guide to the gods, heroes, rituals, and belief.
Vikings in the Americas
The Vikings in Britain by Henry Loyn. Analyzes the reasons for the Scandinavian invasions and success in Britain, the permanent effects of the Viking movement on the language, art, and culture of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
Swein Forkbeard's Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017 by Ian Howard. King Swein of Denmark was more than a marauding Viking: He was a sophisticated politician who laid the foundations for a great empire.
Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ivarr to AD 1014 by Clare Downham. The author is a lecturer in Celtic in the School of Language and Literature of the University of Aberdeen.
Viking Age England by Julian D. Richards. This illustrated textbook examines Anglo-Scandinavian society, including rural settlements, towns, trade, crafts, burial rituals.
Vikings in Scotland by James Graham-Campbell and Colleen E. Batey. An overview of the archaeology of the Vikings in Scotland, concentrating on the eighth to 13th centuries in northern and western Scotland.
From the Vikings to the Normans by Wendy Davies. Covers the history of the British Isles from the Vikings to the Conquest. Leading historians discuss key themes, including monarchies and other political structures.
The Northern Danelaw: Its Social Structure, C. 800-1100 by D. M. Hadley. Examining the development of lordship, peasant status, and estates in the Northern Danelaw (now Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood. The Vikings were more than just marine terrorists, and this atlas shows their development as traders, explorers, settlers, and mercenaries.
Historical Atlas of the Viking World by Angus Konstam. Chronicles Viking achievements, drawing on archaeological evidence as well as Norse sagas and mythology.
Cultural Atlas of the Viking World edited by Colleen E. Batey and James Graham-Campbell. Includes a glossary, chronology, and numerous color illustrations.
The Vikings by Ian Heath. Military history from Osprey's Elite series.
The Viking Art of War by Paddy Griffith. Applies modern military thinking to the Viking art of war and examines their tactics, seamanship, mobility, strategy, and how they exploited victories and dealt with defeats.
Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard. A classic adventure novel.
The Adventures of Harald: Last King of the Vikings by Thomas J. T. Williams. An illustrated adventure telling the story of King Harald Sigurdsson.
Harald Hardrada: The Last Viking by Michael Burr. After being kidnapped by a Viking leader, a deformed teenager secretly vows revenge.
The King of Vinland's Saga by Stuart W. Mirsky. Adventure novel about a grandson of Leif Erickson.
Vikings: The Norse Discovery of America by Andrea Hopkins. For ages 4 to 8.
Viking by Susan Margeson. This introduction to Viking history includes color photographs of Viking ships and swords, clothes and shields, memorial stones and beautiful brooches. For children ages 8 and up.
The Vikings: Lords of the Seas by Yves Cohat. The story of the fabled Vikings, who discovered Greenland, colonized Iceland, pillaged Ireland, put France to the sword, voyaged to the gates of Constantinople, and seized the thrones of the tsars. For young adult readers.
The Vikings by Virginia Schomp. For children ages 10 and up. Explores the lives of Viking chieftains, farmers, and more.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Nova: The Vikings. A 2000 television documentary.
Vikings: Journey to New Worlds. A 2004 documentary (shown in IMAX theaters).
Vikings: Fury From the North. Goes beyond the familiar tales of conquest to examine the overshadowed aspects of Viking society. Visit sites where archeologists are excavating their cities and uncovering evidence that challenges long-held assumptions.
Barbarians. They were the bloodthirsty warriors who defied the Roman legions and terrorized Europe. Learn about the Vikings, Goths, Mongols, and Huns.