The Most Peaceful Place on Earth

Iceland!  Just what you'd expect from a country that was exclusively settled by Vikings!

I guess it wouldn't be here.  Funny; it was just last Christmas we were noticing with worry that Ciudad Juarez, just over the border, had seen more people killed than Afghanistan.

This year, it's Chicago.


Texan99 said...

I was reading something about the Viking eruption lately that pointed out how they were fairly peaceful traders for a long while, then went kind of nuts for a period, then rather suddenly settled back down into businessmen. I didn't realize what an extensive trade route they had, not only in the west but down through Russia all the way to the Middle East. I also didn't realize how deeply they penetrated into most of Europe when they were in their wild-and-crazy phase.

A good fraction of my family tree -- the Southern cotton famers -- were Normans (Norsemen) who crossed into Great Britain, invaded Scotland, then came to America via Ulster. Not much maritime instinct left these days, I must say. Lots of blond hair.

Lars Walker said...

I'm coming over to a view, which I long resisted, that the Viking raids (beginning at Lindisfarne in 793) were a calculated response, organized by Denmark, to Charlemagne's massacre of the Saxons at Verden in 782. The message being, "You want a holy war? We'll give you a holy war."

I'm also convinced, however, that the raiding caught on, and was sustained, not by religious fervor but by simple profit motive. There's lots of upward mobility in accumulating treasure and slaves.

Just gave a lecture on this last Saturday.

Grim said...

I've always thought P. H. Sawyer had the right of it; as he points out, the first raids were on a small scale, and not led by the greatest men in Scandinavia. Only later do the larger fleets led by kings appear.

His thesis is that the first Viking raiders were thus outlaw bands being expelled by increasingly strong kings in Scandinavia itself; but the profitability of the exercise proved convincing to everyone for a while.

raven said...

Just think what they would have done if they had coffee...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Iceland has a lot of Irish in it as well, according to its DNA. The current running theory is Irish slaves, primarily women, brought to Iceland.

I'm not sure why that would settle things down any.

Subsistence farming and fishing without anyone nearby to raid takes the aggression out of one, perhaps.