The Vikings (Norsemen) and the Magyars


Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. Use the given links, texts, and pictures to answer the questions.


Invasions of Europe, 800-1000 AD

1. Which 3 groups were responsible for the invasions of this time period?

2. What 3 areas suffered attacks from multiple groups? Why do you think it was those areas that were targeted to heavily?

3. Why might have the Carolingian Empire been unable to fight off the invasions?


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Viking History (Norsemen)

4. Why did the Vikings first begin their invasions?

5. From which countries did the Vikings come?

6. In 1016, the Vikings made what significant accomplishment?


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In 911, Charles the Simple and his Frankish Army defeated the invading Norsemen lead by Rollo. In defeat, the Duchy of Normandy was created and given to Rollo. In addition, Rollo had to convert to Christianity and pledge loyalty to Charles the Simple. Rollo even changed from his Norse name to the Frankish name of Robert.

8. What strategy did Charles the Simple take in looking to seek long term peace with the Norsemen? Was it generally successful?


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Viking Culture

9. What type of religion did the Vikings believe in?

10. How did the Vikings believe the world would end?

11. Describe the Viking afterlife.

12. Somewhere around 1000 AD, Leif Ericson led a Viking expedition that led to a Viking settlement in Newfoundland. Look on this map for Newfoundland. This fact destroys one of the most commonly taught myths in American schools. What is it???

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"In the eighth century the inrush of the Vikings in force began to be felt all over Pictland. These Vikings were pagans and savages of the most unrestrained and pitiless type. They were composed of Finn-Gall or Norwegians, and of Dubh-Gall or Danes.” - Scott, Archibald 

"From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord!"
-attributed to monks of the English monasteries plundered by Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Writings like these created the image of the savage, evil, dirty Viking people raping and pillaging Christians throughout Europe. Read the following myths about Vikings and answer the question that follows:

" Viking armies were huge. The sources cite wild numbers for the size of Viking armies. P. Sawyer noted that they could be more specific on the size of the fleets. On the basis of the archeological evidence for the size of the boats, he suggested that Viking ships may have held fifty to sixty men. It means that Viking armies have to be numbered in the hundreds, not even in the thousands."

Abroad, Vikings did nothing except fighting and pillaging. Vikings did pillage many lands. However, plunder was only one among many other goals of their overseas expeditions. Vikings peacefully colonised Iceland, Greenland and many smaller islands. As explorers they crossed the Atlantic and reached America 500 years before Columbus. As international merchants of their time, they also peacefully traded with almost every country of the then known world.

Vikings were unclean. In England, because of their custom of bathing every Saturday, Vikings had a reputation of excessive cleanness. Ibn Rustah, a 10th century Persian explorer, explicitly notes the eastern Vikings’ cleanness. During excavations of Viking sites, combs are among the most frequent objects found. Vikings used tweezers, razors and special “ear spoons” to keep their ears clean. They also produced soap.

Vikings were exceptionally cruel and bloodthirsty. Vikings indeed were sometimes very violent. However, the question is whether Christian armies of the time acted in any substantially different manner. For instance, Charlemagne, who was Vikings’ contemporary, virtually exterminated the whole people of Avars. At Verden, he ordered the beheading of 4,500 Saxons. Vikings certainly were not as bloodthirsty as many Christians of their time."

source: Viking Myths

"One thing Vikings almost certainly did not wear on their heads was a horned helmet. Such a device would be impractical in battle, with excess weight poorly distributed, offering no real protective value. "

source:Viking Weapons


13. Why might history remember Vikings as bloodthirsty savages despite having behaved no different than Christians armies of the time?

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There are no questions about this site, but it has some pictures of 1200 year old Viking relics.
Viking Artifacts

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The Magyars

The Magyars consisted of seven hordes (tribes). They pastured their herds in the summer over the grasslands. They practiced a little bit of primitive agriculture, but their chief substance was still meat, mares, milk and fish. They spent most of their lives, and conducted their raids and campaigns on horseback. Their weapon of choice was bow and arrow.

The Magyars were all "free-men", and social differentiation between them was unnecessary because they supplied themselves with a good number of slaves by raiding the neighboring Slavs. They made their incomes by selling slaves in the Crimean markets. The basic social unit for them was the clan, and there was a varying number of clans in each tribe. The order and picking of the chiefs was mainly hereditary, but no one person had supreme authority.

In 889 AD, The Magyars were beaten in battle and lost their homes. The seven chieftains elected the most powerful man known to them, Arpad, son of Almus,  to lead them on a migration. They elected their head according to Magyarian tradition, and so therefore, Arpad had to be sworn with the ritual of drinking mingled blood.

 For the next half-century the Magyars were the scourge of Europe. They had raided many areas of the continent and ferociously attacked anyone that they came in contact with. They inflicted dreadful damage on Europe. However, the Magyars also suffered heavy losses in the fighting and sought peace.

The Magyars sought to join Christianity and establish their own country. Many churches however rejected the Magyars into their fellowship, so finally they were taken by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Vejak (St. Stephen I of Hungary) applied to Rome for recognition as a king. He was crowned the 1st King of Hungary by the Pope on Christmas Day, 1000 AD.

If you want to see something weird, click the link below. It is the preserved royal right hand of St. Stephen I of Hungary

Vejak aka St. Stephen I of Hungary's Right Hand

14. Why did the Magyars leave their home to raid Europe?

15. What does the story of Vejak being crowned as St. Stephen I of Hungary and forming the kingdom of Hungary reveal about the power that the church played in Medieval times?