Vikings

We just love the Vikings,

And you guessed it, again as a result of following our gateway ancestor Catherine de Montfort the Booths are descendants of the Swedish Royal line of Vikings and further along Ukranian Royalty.

The Vikings (from Old Norse víkingr) were seafaring north Germanic people who raided, traded, explored, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries. The Vikings employed wooden longships with wide, shallow-draft hulls, allowing navigation in rough seas or in shallow river waters. The ships could be landed on beaches, and their light weight enabled them to be hauled over portages. These versatile ships allowed the Vikings to travel as far east as Constantinople and the Volga River in Russia, as far west as Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland, and as far south as Nekor. This period of Viking expansion, known as the Viking Age, constitutes an important element of the medieval history of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland, Russia, and the rest of Europe.

The Viking Age

Until the 9th century, the Scandinavian people lived in small Germanic kingdoms and chiefdoms known as petty kingdoms. These petty kingdoms and their royal rulers are mainly known from legends and scattered continental sources. The Scandinavian people appeared as a group separate from other Germanic nations, and at this time there was a noticeable increase in war expeditions (Viking raids) on foreign countries, which has given the name Viking Age to this period. At this time the seas were easier to travel than Europe’s inland forests, and the wild buffer regions that separated the kingdoms of the time were known as marches.

While the Danes and Norwegians went south and west, the Swedes went east. The large Russian mainland and its many navigable rivers offered good prospects for merchandise and, at times, plundering. These routes brought them into contact with the Byzantine and Muslims empires. Since the East was rich and well-defended, Viking activity there centered mainly around peaceful trade instead of pillage like in Western Europe.

Viking expeditions (blue): depicting the immense breadth of their voyages through on most of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, the Arctic and North America (going into Russia were Swedish Vikings).

Viking expeditions (blue): depicting the immense breadth of their voyages through on most of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Africa, Asia Minor, the Arctic and North America (going into Russia were Swedish Vikings).

During the 9th century, extensive Scandinavian settlements were made on the east side of the Baltic sea. The Tale of Bygone Years (dated to 1113) writes about how the tribe Varangians arrived in Constantinople, and of piratical expeditions on the Black Sea and on the Caspian Sea. The legendary expeditions by Rurik (Rørik) and Askold (Haskuld) established settlements that resulted in the first Russian states; Novgorod and Kievan Rus’, a predecessor state of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The Slavic tribes in Russia were weak and submitted to the Vikings with little resistance, but also rapidly assimilated their conquerors. Political ties with Russia ceased by 1050.

The Varangians accumulated some wealth from their foreign trades. A centre of trade in northern Europe developed on the island Birka, not far from where Stockholm was later constructed, in mid Sweden. Birka was probably demolished already during the 11th century, but remains show its wealth in the 9th and 10th century. Thousands of graves, coins, jewelry and other luxury items have been found there.[2]

There are also other locations in Sweden where precious treasures have been found, revealing a widespread trade between Sweden and eastern countries down to Asia.

Early rulers

Medieval Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon sources tell of Migration Age Swedish kings belonging to the Scylfing dynasty, also known as Ynglings. Some sources, such as Íslendingabók, Ynglinga saga and Historia Norwegiæ trace the foundation of the Swedish kingdom back in the last centuries BC.[3]

Some of these sources, the Anglo-Saxon Widsith and Beowulf, may date to the 8th century in their present forms, but retain oral traditions that are considerably older. Native Scandinavian sources are generally held to date no earlier than the 9th century in the form of skaldic poetry, such as Ynglingatal. As the Scandinavian sources were not put to paper until the 11th century, and later, their historic validity is controversial.

Consequently, historians can differ in the value they ascribe to the sources, in different contexts.   Historians also vary in how they define Sweden, some distinguishing between Sverige (the modern Swedish name for Sweden) and Svea rike (the medieval form of the Swedish name for Sweden) as two different nations.

Many kings only ruled over parts of the present territory of Sweden (See further Semi-legendary kings of Sweden), and so their validity as kings of Sweden may be questioned.

The first undisputed King of Sweden was Eric the Victorious, who lived around 970–994. He was succeeded by King Olof Skötkonung (late 960s – circa 1020), the first Christian king of Sweden.

Christianization

Swedes had contact with Christianity from their early travels. Christian influence on burials can be traced to the late 8th century in some parts of Sweden. Additionally, Irish missionary monks were probably active in some parts of Sweden, as demonstrated by Irish saints that were honored in the Middle Ages.

From the Holy Roman Empire, the earliest campaign to introduce Christianity in Sweden were made by the monk Ansgar (801–865). Ansgar made his first visit to Birka in 829, was granted permission to build a church, and stayed as a missionary until 831. He then returned home and became Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen. Around 850, he returned to Birka, where he saw that the previous congregation had faded away. Ansgar tried to re-establish it, but it only lasted a few years. However, archeological digs in Varnhem found a Christian burial ground established in the late 9th century. On the same spot, a stone church was built in the early 11th century, and a short distance away, Varnhem Abbey was established in the 12th century.

When Emund the Old ascended to the throne, around 1050, he had converted to Christianity. But because of his quarrels with Adalhard, Archbishop of Bremen, independence of the Church of Sweden was not obtained for another century. A decade later, in 1060, King Stenkil ascended to the throne. At the time, Christianity was firmly established throughout most of Sweden, with its chief strength in Västergötland. However, the people of Uppland, with their center in Uppsala, still held out for their original (heathen) faith. Adalhard had succeeded in destroying the idols in Västergötland, but was yet unable to persuade Stenkil to destroy the ancient Temple of Uppsala.

There are large gaps in our knowledge of the earliest Swedish regents. However, the last king who adhered to his native religion was Blot-Sweyn, who reigned 1084–87. According to legend, Blot-Sweyn became king when his predecessor King Inge refused to sacrifice at Uppsala. His brother-in-law Sweyn stepped up and agreed to sacrifice, which gave him the nickname Blot, which means sacrifice. Inge took out his revenge three years later, when he entered Uppsala with a great force, set Blot-Sweyn’s house ablaze, and killed him as he attempted to flee the burning wreckage.

It wasn’t until Eric the Saint (1150–60) that the Church of Sweden was to be organized on the medieval model. According to a late 13th century legend, Erik undertook the so-called First Swedish Crusade to Finland together with the equally legendary Bishop Henry of Uppsala, conquering the country and building many churches there. No historical record remains of the alleged crusade.

After the introduction of Christianity the importance of Uppsala began steadily to decline, and the kings no longer made it their residence. It was made the seat for the Swedish Archbishop in 1164. A cathedral was built on the place for the old Temple of Uppsala. One of the first to be consecrated there was the Swedish King Eric the Saint.

The event of Christianity effectively ended the Viking Age since a culture of plunder and raiding was anathema to Christian doctrine. It also put a halt to one of Scandinavia’s main exports, slaves.

House of Munsö

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The House of Munsö is one of the names of a protohistoric Swedish dynasty. Its early members of the 8th or 9th century are legendary or semi-legendary, while its later scions of the 10th to 11th centuries are historical.

It is also known as the House of Ivar Vidfamne, the House of Uppsala, or simply the Old Dynasty. Munsö is the island where a barrow has been claimed to be the grave of Björn Ironside, a legendary founding member.

The sagas, such as the Hervarar saga, contain extensive information on this dynasty for as many as 10 generations, but although, some of the 9th-century kings are held to be historical, modern Swedish historiography begins it with the late 10th-century king, Eric the Victorious. The king Björn, who was the father of Eric the Victorious, according to the sagas, is not accepted as historical by critical historians, unlike another 10th-century king named Emund Eriksson who appears in the work of Adam of Bremen.

For easy reference on legendary, semi-legendary and historical members of the dynasty (including some generations before Björn Ironside), the following family tree is based on Hervarar saga, and the uncertain identification of Styrbjörn the Strong and Tyra as the parents of Thorgils Sprakalägg. The connection with the House of Estridsen which began with Sweyn II of Denmark is consequently uncertain (the Swedish kings are in Black)

            Sigurd Ring
                 |
           Ragnar Lodbrok
                 |
     ------------------------------------------------------
     |           |              |           |             |
  Ivar     Björn Ironside    Sigurd       Ubbe     Halfdan/Hvitserk
                 |
        ------------------
        |                |
 Erik Björnsson        Refil
         |               |
         |           Erik Refilsson
         |               
       ----------------------
       |                   |
 Björn at Hauge      Anund Uppsale
                           |                     
                    Erik Anundsson
                           |
                   Björn (III) Eriksson
                           |                                             
           --------------------------------                             Harold I of Denmark
           |                              |                                    |
   Eric the Victorious             Olof (II) Björnsson                  ---------------  
           |                              |                             |             |
   Olof Skötkonung                 Styrbjörn the Strong  (pretender)  Tyra            |        
           |                              |                             |             |
           -------------------------      -------------------------------             |
           |                       |                     |                            |
   Anund Jacob                Emund the Old       Thorgils Sprakalägg[12]         Sweyn Forkbeard
                                   |                     |                            |
                                   |                     |                            |
                                   |                     |                            |
                       Anund Edmundsson heir             |                            |
                                                     Ulf Jarl               Estrid Svendsdatter
                                                         |                            | 
                                                         ------------------------------
                                                                        |
                                                                 Sweyn Estridson
                                                                        |
                                                                   Danish kings

Full list of Swedish kings. The names in parentheses are kings who are not mentioned in Hervarar saga, but who are mentioned in other sources:

Aslaug, Ragnar’s wife and the mother of his sons, was the daughter of Sigurd, whose ancestor Sigi was a descendant of Odin. Therefore, the entire house of Munso (and all their descendants) are descended from Odin.

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