Bible: Viking and Lindow P. Essay

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Words: 2510
Pages: 11

Vikings: How Religion Propelled Warring and Expansion
David Whitley Thomas
University of Memphis, Sociology of Religion 3860
December 2, 2014

Vikings would be the better term for the North Germanic Tribes, who were some of the most defiant, unpredictable, misunderstood and proud people to rome the medieval landscape. Their influential touch was spread from North America all the way to Black Sea. They terrorized and shaped the medieval Europe throughout most of the third century BCE till about the tenth century BCE. This branch of the Germanic tribes at first were isolated from most of the world when it fled north from the Roman Emperors into common day Norway and Sweden. They did this like their cousins the Celtics in Britain that were driven out of northern France and into England to escape the pressure and invasion of Rome. Because of this isolation the creation of a new type of religion formed for the mountain and sea faring vikings which is propelled by the religious ideals that their was only two good deaths either by sword or by sea. At first, the thing to know to truly learn about the history of the Norse religion you must first know of the Norse culture and lifestyles developed because of isolation. The land that they hail from is not particularity the best farming land this does not mean that they were not good at farming. On the contrary they are excellent farmers that we later find out when they conquer more fertile lands, but to survive they are more of a pastoral culture keeping sheep and cattle. This was because of poor shallow land but they did their best that they could with small farms to sustain a family or extended family with also giving tithe to the earl of the land. “Each village or territory was ruled by earls or chieftain type people and they were the head of their village and made the plans for farming and raiding through the years. The later years of Viking expansion there is a change with a earl not being the head but actually having a monarchal king who all earls answer too.” (Jones p. 37-39) There was other “classes” such as slaves from conquered people or indentured servants who could not survive on their own because of poor standing. Then there is the farmer class and this is the largest class in the viking world and all men and some shield wives in this class were expected to be trained and involved in the raids. Their were elite warriors that would be on the personal guard of the earl and then there was shield maidens who would be women who choose not to have wives but to be trained and fight in raids with men. The last group of shield maidens is a highly debated idea because of lack of evidence besides myths and stories. “There has been some archeological evidence to show the possibility of them with women’s graves containing axes and shields.” (Jones p.52) Through the culture we see what seems to be group of people that on the surface seem like most cultures throughout known Europe and Mediterranean world of the time. The main difference is what they ddi to survive and propel their people to prosperity is put into the minds and nightmares of other cultures being all backed and strengthened by their religion. The Norse mythology is truly different from most religions because of it’s cosmology and belief there is nine realms that all are here but on different plans of existences. Also unlike most religions there is no true moral good or bad. Unlike Christianity there is no hell or bad underworld and unlike Eastern traditions that believe in reincarnation through Karma you don't have to act a certain way morally to obtain the desired otherworldly rewards. But there are many laws that do govern the behavior of the people and their is a culture that structures what is expected of the viking people. There is just “Hel which is were all souls go unless they are claimed by one of the gods or goddess for a special task.” ( Lindow p. 13) The souls of the