Essay about History of Vikings

Submitted By gare_bear
Words: 755
Pages: 4

The term Norse usually refers to the Scandinavian people that lived during the period from the late 8th century to the 11th century. They are better known as the Vikings. Most people think of the Vikings as brutal savages, but they were highly skilled craftsmen and woodworkers. In fact, Vikings are to thank for the political system we have today. The Vikings were the most advanced civilization of medieval Europe, because they practiced a form of democracy, they had three social classes in which a person could move from one class to another, and they relied heavily on livestock and trading with other countries. The Viking’s political system was complicated, but has an important role in the political system of present day America. Though the Vikings spent most of their time exploring and venturing out into the sea, they did have a political system in their homeland. Their government was a basic form of democracy, and is believed to be the primeval form of today’s modern jury system. Although they practiced democracy, they did not consider all men equals. Even though slaves were not considered equal, they did have some rights. In each district, free men would meet regularly in a gathering called a “thing”. Technically, all men, excluding slaves, had an equal voice in the affairs of politics, debates over land, and criminal trials. Simple cases would only require the people present to judge, but for the more important cases, only twelve men would judge the case. However, the wealthier and more powerful people were able to sway others and tended to have more influence than those lacking wealth and power. The Vikings did have a King, but they considered themselves equal to their King, and in some cases the decision made by the people could overrule the King’s will unless the King’s decision seemed to be the more reasonable option. Not only did the Vikings provide a basis for modern democracy, but they even gave their women rights that most women in Europe were unable to delight in due to the belief of society during The Middle Ages.
The Viking society had three classes: slaves, freedmen, and nobles. At the top of the social ladder was the King. The king collected taxes and worked to protect those under his rule. Below the King was a landowning group known as the jarls that would lease their land. Beneath the jarls was the bulk of the culture, better known as the freedmen that were able to voice their opinions in politics. At the very bottom of the social ladder were the slaves. Slaves were able to move up in social ranking by purchasing their freedom, being bought free by a third party, or being freed from their owner as a gift. Once a slave has been freed, they have the same rights and duties as every other free person. Although the women of the Viking culture had lots of freedoms and rights in comparison to other European women at the time, they