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History of Norway, Part 1 - The Viking Age

Discussion in 'World History' started by thetrooper, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    This thread on the history of Norway - The Viking Age consists of 6 chapters
    (5 chapters on the history and one chapter with cited literature):

    1. Introduction, etymology.
    2. The Viking homelands, geography and social life.
    3. The Viking expansion, Viking invasions.
    4. Viking influence, art and trade.
    5. The end of the Viking age.
    6. Literature cited.

    Each chapter will be posted separately, and this is important for me:

    Please comply: do not post in this thread until all 6 chapters have been posted. Thanks in advance! If you really have to, contact me through the private channels.
     
  2. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    The exact beginning of the Viking age is commonly set at 793 when Vikings attacked the British island Lindisfarne and its end is marked by the failed invasion attempt on England by Harald Hårdråde in 1066. The Viking age spans over 250 years in the late iron age. The term Iron Age refers to the period in a civilisation's development at which time iron working was the most sophisticated form of metalworking achieved. Though well made bronze tools far surpass iron tools as far as hardness and utility are concerned the abundance of iron ore sources made iron cheap and contributed greatly to its adoption as the most common metallurgical process.

    The origin of the term viking is uncertain and debatable. The word vik could be translated to bay , creek or inlet , and the suffix -ing meaning coming from or belonging to . Thus Vikings would be people of the creeks . There are however norwegian and icelandic sources claiming that the true meaning is one who conducts naval warfare . And later on, the term became synonymous with raider of the sea . In modern scientific terms, the Vikings are all Scandinavians that participated in the expansion until the middle of the 11th century.

    Scandinavia is the cultural and historic region of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Scandinavian countries are Norway, Sweden and Denmark, which mutually recognize each other as parts of Scandinavia. The collective label "Scandinavia" reflects the cultural similarity between these countries despite their political independence. The usage and meaning of the term outside Scandinavia is somewhat ambiguous.
     
  3. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    Many local kingdoms came into existence in Scandinavia, and from them stemmed the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The Viking homelands consisted of these together with part of Finland (Åland). The original border of the Danish Viking kingdom was at the base of the Jutland peninsula, which today lies in north Germany. This represents a huge combined landmass extending from well inside the Arctic circle to over 1.200 miles to the South.

    Scandinavia has a long indented coastline, numerous islands and inland waterways. The harsh climate resulted in a scattered population. Natural inland barriers (dense forests, deep bogs and high mountains) and the low agricultural potential of much of the Scandinavian landmass, restricted both where people could settle and farm, and the nature and frequency of interaction between established communities. During the Neolithic period the Scandinavians had lived in small autonomous communities as farmers, fishermen and hunters. The Scandinavian people lived mostly along the coasts; fishing, sea-trade and water-borne communications played a significant part in their daily lives. The short growing season sufficed to meet the demand for grain, for cattle and stock grazing. Despite its enormous physical diversity, Scandinavia constituted a relatively uniform cultural area in the Viking Age. Vikings all over the Scandinavian homelands spoke almost the same language and worshipped the same gods.

    Viking society was self-regulated, law and order based upon common-meetings called Ting (every free man had a duty to meet at these common-meetings). The Ting had legislative and judiciary powers, but the Vikings had no written laws. A man referred to as a lovsigemann (law reader man ) opened the Ting by reading the laws (memorized by heart). The Ting was a democratic constitution, every citizen included except for slaves (trell - as the Vikings called them) and outlaws. Social behaviour was based upon an unwritten system of honor or code of ethics. The opposite of honor was disgrace, and because every man lived his life as a member of extended families, he could easily bring disgrace to his entire family (including his forefathers). A disgraced man could only restore balance in his social system by confronting the source of his fall from an honorable status. Thus, blood feud was a key component of this social system, a system which placed great importance upon maintaining personal honor. By virtue of the conservative power of the extended families who regulated the Ting system, its moral and ethics, Viking society was a self regulated society independent of the authority of a state. In 800 AD approximately 30 chieftains (small kingdoms) resided within the boundaries of what is modern day Norway.

    Because of the harsh climate and the many enterprises that took men away from home for extended periods, free-born women possibly enjoyed a base of power and responsibility for family and economic affairs not matched by women elsewhere in Western Europe. The duty of the Viking women was to run the house in such a way that the family had enough food during the long and dark winters. She made butter, cheese, dried fish and meat and smoked fish and meat as well. She would also have knowledge about herbs in order to make medicine for ill and wounded family members. Especially fit women could take on the cloth of armaments and be a warrior in the same way as the Viking men. These women were called skjoldmø (shieldgirl ).

    Throughout three centuries of Viking adventure, Scandinavian farmers, hunters, fishermen and trappers at home continued to lead the same lives as their forebears. Scandinavia was too far north and surrounded by too hostile waters for the cultural impulses from the centres of power in central and southern Europe to have much influence. Moreover, in the eyes of the Christinised Europeans, one fact united the Vikings above all others - they were pagans.
     
  4. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    The Vikings traveled extensively. In addition to sailing at open sea and along the coastlines, the Vikings traveled along the rivers in Europe. The Vikings were, in short, very mobile: the Swedish Vikings sailed the eastern route to Russia, Byzantium and the Arabic Caliphate. Danish and Norwegian Vikings sailed the western route to France, England, Ireland and across the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and northern America. Their ships penetrated the west European coast, sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea, from there to Spain, Morocco, Italy and the Holy Land. From the Baltic they penetrated the Continent, travelling up Russian rivers and waterways to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and all the way to Baghdad. They sailed the whole of the North Atlantic and discovered the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, settled parts of England, Scotland, Ireland and France (Normandy - an area which still bears their name). A Scandinavian settlement has even been discovered in Newfoundland, Canada.

    The Norsemen were well known in northwestern Europe as peaceful and respectable traders, at least for several hundred years prior to 800 AD. But in the late 700's this peaceful activity evolved into plundering raids instead. The Vikings started to attack and plunder monasteries, towns and areas along coastlines. There was a fairly uniform evolution; raids gradually changed from hit-and-run attacks to larger and more ambitious forays in which bands of sailor-raiders carved out holdings or base camps where they might spend the winter. The first raid we know about involved only three ships crossing the sea. In the year 836 the number of ships rose to 25. Eventually, by the mid- to late 9th century the armies grew in size and in the years 850-851 there were 350 ships reported on the river Thames near London. According to written records, the first time the Vikings spent the winter abroad was during the years 840-841 in Ireland.

    The reasons for this extraordinary outpouring of people from Scandinavia have been debated ever since the Viking Age. The motives for the Viking raids are not stated in any explicit or authoritative text. Anyhow, many theories have been launched concerning why the Vikings started with the plundering raids. The wealth of the South, long known from trade and travel, was an obvious attraction. Since the 1930's, recommended books studying this question have maintained that overpopulation was responsible. By the 8th or 9th centuries population growth was taxing Scandinavias limited resources for food and unclaimed land. Later, this theory was supplemented with an explanation to the effect that there was also a spirit of adventure and a need for discovery. Additionally, it is possible that the brutal wars conducted by Carolingian ruler and king Charlemagne (Karl the Great) against the Saxons in Germany in the 8th century may have warned the Northmen of a powerful enemy to the South. Charlemagne cut off the heads of 4500 Saxons in one day! Finally, it is stated that the raids were a reaction to fight back a constant threat from the more barbarian Christian Church.

    What is certain is that the Viking expansion was only made possible by the Vikings' legendary superiority in shipbuilding technology and their supreme navigation skills, which allowed them to travel further, faster and more surely than their contemporaries. Unlike other ships of that age, the Vikings' ships were capable of navigating shallow waters, characterised as slender and flexible boats. The keel on a typical Viking ship were usually about 0.5 meters beneath the water surface which also made them very fast. What is not expected from a boat like this is their good carrying capacity. Their well-constructed longboats could carry 50 or more men, even horses. This made the Vikings prepared to fight at sea, as well as on land. The ships could only be built up to heaped 20 meters seeing that the keel was made of an oak. The keel was heavily charged since the ship's low gunwales did not contribute with extra stability. The boats were elastic built which also prevented extra weight on the keel. The ribs were bound together with the boards, not riveted. Because of this, they could not splice the keel and therefore not build ships longer than the oak that was used. Another benefit with their boats' shallow keels was that they could sneak attack the enemy. The Vikings had the knowledge of navigating by stars over open seas. Many seamen did not have this knowledge, forcing them to sail along the coast. Over recent years, our knowledge of functional and regional variations in Viking Age boats and ships has been greatly increased by the excavations of wrecked or abondoned vessels. But it is the elegant lines of the Gokstad ship which have come to symbolize the exceptional achievements of the Viking seafarers.
     
  5. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    Signs of the Viking influence are found in the languages, vocabulary and place-names of the areas in which they settled. These offer clues regarding the density of migration, the ease of assimillation and the preservation of distinct northern institutions and usages. Archaeological evidence reveals a culture that was the most advanced in Europe in the manufacture of arms and jewelry, as well as shipbuilding. The Vikings also displayed an ability to mobilize economic resources and to dominate a hostile landscape. The Vikings created a rich body of vernacular literature in which they celebrated their heroic past. The Poetic Edda of Snorre Sturlason, who wrote in the early 1200s, portrays a pre-Christian Viking history and mythology.

    The vigour and vitality of the Viking age was also expressed in art. The surfaces of objects were covered with patterns created from the bodies of stylised animals in a centuries-old tradition. But in the Viking Age, new animal forms were created, such as gripping beasts and magnificent four-legged creatures, absorbing motifs and artistic impulses from outside Scandinavia. Nearly all Viking Age art is applied art (i.e. the decoration of a wide variety of objects used in daily life). Woodcarvers, sculptors and metalworkers brought a dynamism and inventiveness to their task which has left a rich legacy of extravagant animal ornamentation. Most of the finest surviving examples of art from the early Viking Age have been found in graves, especially on jewellery and weapons, while later Viking art is best represented on objects from silver hoards, from the developing towns and on the Scandinavian runestones. There are also small-scale carvings in other materials - amber, jet, bone, walrus ivory and, where it survives, wood - which remind us both of the skills of the Scandinavian craftsmen and of how well suited Viking Age animal motifs were to their purpose.

    Even before the Viking raids began, the markets of Europe to the south were always interested in the raw goods of the North Sea and the Baltic. Furs, timber. amber and slaves (mostly from Slavic regions) were primary commodities. Piracy was all very well for yielding sporadic bursts of wealth but only trade could yield a regular income. The achievement of the Scandinavians as traders rather than raiders proved the more enduring. Trading took place in different milieux, from simple fishing camps or minor trading stations, through to seasonal markets and densely settled towns. It was only in the Viking Age that towns began to emerge in north-west, northern and eastern Europe, amongst them the famous centres like Birka, Ribe, Dublin, Hedeby and Staraja ladoga. Several market places were founded during the 8th century and grew into flourishing Viking Age towns. Recent excavations in Viking Age towns and market places have produced a myriad of evidence for craft industries - debris from the making of everyday and luxury objects of glass, amber, bone, antler, wood, iron, bronze and precious metals, as well as for subsidiary industries such as ship repairing. The blacksmith, woodworker, bead-maker, specialist jeweller, horn- and antler-worker, leather-worker and stone carver carried out their businesses in workshops spread throughout the town.
     
  6. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    The Viking Age is thought to have come to its official end with the death of Harald Hardraada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 - the last direct Scandinavian attempt to conquer another land. Harald himself, who had previously served in the Varangian guard in Byzantium (among other adventures) and was known as a vicious and subtle strategist as well as a mighty warrior, is sometimes spoken of as the Last Viking. The Viking Age did persist much longer in some places. The Faroes, Shetlands and Hebrides, for example, might be said to have continued with a Viking Age culture for nearly another century. There are a number of interrelated factors that caused the end of the Viking Age - the formation of nations in Scandinavia under single, strong kings; the introduction of Christianity and widespread conversion (willing or not); the fact that the Arabic silver mines played out, sharply reducing the profitability of trading through Russia and forcing the Scandinavian countries to trade more with Christian Europe. The whole Viking Age itself can be viewed as a "pushing outward" of the Vikings, as raiders, as traders, as explorers, and as colonists. By the end of the Viking Age, the expansion stops and consolidation begins, and the cultures of the Scandinavian countries and colonies become decidedly Christian and begin to move into European feudal relationships. So whenever these things occured in a part of the Viking World, then that is more or less the date for the end of the Viking Age in that particular place.

    In Scandinavia during the 11th century, increased royal intervention led to the growth of new Scandinavian towns. Birka was replaced by Sigtuna; Hedeby by Schleswig, and so on. Almost all of these new towns have survived and developed into important modern centres: in Norway, Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo; in Sweden, Sigtuna, Lund and Skara; in Denmark, Aalborg, Odense and Roskilde, among others. Some of these new towns housed the seats of bishoprics and royal mints, the symbols of a new age as Scandinavia inexorably left her Viking past behind and increasingly became part of the European cultural mainstream.
     
  7. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    On the gathering of information: I am not a historian. All information here are gathered from other sources. My intention was to gather different information and put it together to match some aspects related to Civ3. After reading these posts you might understand why the Scandinavians were given their traits in the game. Nothing is mentioned concerning the Berzerkir, I'll leave that up to you now.

    The "spine" of this work is based on Swedish information:

    http://viking.hgo.se/ Kind permission from Olle Hoffmann.

    "Vikings," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004
    http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

    The person who provided me with the Viking age timeline (see post below) did not require a link to his pages.

    Consider the thread open... :)
     
  8. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    789 - The first Viking attack on England.
    793 - Vikings attacks the monastery at Lindisfarne.
    794 - Vikings attacks the monastery at Yarrow, but fails.
    795 - Vikings approaches the Irish sea and attacks on Ireland starts.
    797 - Vikings attacks Lambay, Ireland.
    798 - Vikings attacks Isle of Man (according to Ulster annals, but perhaps not correct).
    798 - Vikings attacks on France (before 800) begins.
    800 - Skiringsal and Birka trade centers are founded (approximately).
    802 - Vikings attacks the monastery at the holly Columbas on the isle Iona of the Hebrides.
    805 - Vikings attacks the monastery at the holly Columbas for the second time.
    813 - The magnificent Oseberg ship is built (dated by dendrochronology).
    820 - Vikings conquers the Isle of Man and establishes permanently.
    820 - Vikings attacks Flanders and approches the moth of river Seine.
    834 - The Oseberg ship is mounded (dated by dendrochronology).
    834 - Vikings approaches the river Thames, England.
    839 - Turgeis (Torgisl) and a big Viking fleet conquers Ireland and settles permanently.
    841 - Vikings under the leadership of Turgeis founds Dublin, Ireland.
    841 - Vikings burns Lillebonne, Caudebec and Rouen and destroys the abbeys of Jumieges and St Wandrille.
    843 - Vikings of Vestfold establishes a power base at the isle Noirmountier (Loire) and raids Nates.
    844 - A Viking raid on Seville is repulsed.
    844 - Turgeis is killed by the Irish, drowned in Loch Nair.
    845 - Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok attacks Paris along a big fleet.
    853 - Olaf the White conquers Ireland along a big Viking fleet.
    857 - Vikings raids Paris again.
    858 - Vikings captures the abbot of St Denis and claims ransome.
    859 - Vikings raids in the Mediterranean for the first time.
    860 - Rus (Sweds) Vikings attacks Constantinople (Istanbul).
    861 - The third big attack on Paris by Vikings.
    862 - Novgorod in Russia is founded by the Rus Viking, Ulrich.
    863 - Xanten demolished by Vikings.
    866 - Danish Vikings establishes the kingdom of York, England.
    870 - Harold Luva (Fairhair) starts his effort to gain full control in Norway.
    871 - Alfred the Great becomes king of Wessex; the Danish advance is halted in England.
    871 - Olaf the White returns to Norway, his brother Ivarr becoms ruler of Ireland.
    874 - Ivarr the Boneless dies, his sons continues attacks on north-eastern England.
    879 - Rurik establishes Kiev as power center of the Kievan Rus' domains.
    885 - A huge fleet of Viking ships attacks Paris, but fails in conquering the city.
    885 - Harald (Luva) Fairhair finally unites Norway as one kingdom, first in Scandinavia.
    886 - Alfred and the Danes splits England under the Danelaw pact.
    890 - The Gokstad ship is built (dated by dendrochronology).
    891 - The Vikings at Noirmountier (France) is finally beaten.
    894 - Turf-Einar, son of Rognwald and half brother of Rollo, becomes earl of Orkney.
    900 - Vikings raids in the Mediterranean again.
    902 - The Irish regains Dublin from the Vikings, and rules for fifteen years.
    911 - The Viking chieftain Rollo is granted land by the Frankish king and founds the Duchy of Normandy.
    917 - Vikings defeats Dublin by military power and regains the throne.
    928 - Kings Æthelstan and Harald Fairhair joins in a treaty to gain control of the Norse Vikings.
    930 - The first democracy (Alltinget) of the world is founded at Thingvellir, Iceland, by Vikings.
    940 - Harald Fairhair dies and his son Eirik Blood-axe struggle to gain full control of Norway, but fails.
    941 - Rus Vikings attacks Constantinople (Istanbul).
    947 - Eirik Blood-axe, son of Fairhair, gains control of York.
    949 - Olaf Crovan defeats Eirik Blood-axe, who flees.
    950 - Eirik Blood-axe regains control of York.
    954 - Eirik Blood-axe killed at the Battle of Stainmore in York, Vikings defeated by King Edmund.
    974 - Emperor Otto II of Germany attacks Denmark, but fails because of Norwegian help.
    976 - Maccus Haraldsson, first known king of Man, dies, his brother Gudrød approaches throne.
    976 - Angelsey (coast of Wales) is included to the Norse kingdom of Man.
    980 - Vikings starts regular attacks to gain control of England.
    984 - Viking leader Erik the Red discovers Greenland and starts settling.
    985 - The Jomsvikings attacks Norway, lead by Earl Sigvalde, but is firmly defeated at Hjørungavåg.
    986 - Viking ships sails in Newfoundland waters.
    991 - Viking chieftain Olaf Tryggvasson, along 93 ships, defeats Byrhtnoth at Maldon (August).
    991 - Æthelred II pays, the first Danegeld ransom, off £10,000 in silver to stop Viking attck on London.
    994 - Æthelred II pays off £16,000 in silver to stop Viking attcks on London.
    995 - Olaf Tryggvasson conquers Norway and proclaims a Christian kingdom.
    999 - Christianity reaches Greenland and Iceland by powers of Olaf Tryggvasson.
    1000 - Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, explores the coast of North America.
    1000 - Olaf Tryggvasson dies in the Battle of Svolder (coast of Vendland); Norway ruled by Danes.
    1002 - Brian Boru defeats the Norse Vikings and becomes king of all Ireland.
    1009 - Viking chieftain Olaf Haraldsson (St. Olav) attacks London by river and destroys London Bridge.
    1010 - Viking explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni attempts to found a settlement in North America.
    1013 - Danes, helped by Olaf Haraldson, conquers England; Æthelred flees to Normandy.
    1014 - The Vikings of Ireland are finally defeated in the Battle of Clontarf, but Brian Boru is killed.
    1015 - Vikings abandons the Vinland settlements at the coast of North America.
    1016 - Olaf Haraldsson regains Norway from the Danes; Christianity approaches Norway.
    1016 - Danes, under Canute the Great, gains full control over England.
    1018 - The coronation of Canute the Great, as King of England.
    1026 - Kings Anund Jakob (Sweden) and Olaf Haraldsson (Norway) attacks Denmark, but fails.
    1028 - Knut (Canute), king of England and Denmark, conquers Norway and Olaf flees.
    1030 - Olaf Haraldsson returns to regain Norway, but is killed at Stiklestad.
    1031 - Olaf Haraldsson becomes officially proclaimed a Saint, by Bishop Grimkel (August 3rd).
    1035 - Canute the Great dies, Magnus, son of St Olaf, expels the Danes from Norway and regains the kingdom.
    1042 - Edward the Confessor rules England, supported by Danes.
    1042 - Magnus, king of Norway, becomes king of Denmark.
    1045 - Magnus grants Harald Hardraada half of Norway, as a co-king.
    1047 - Magnus, king of Norway & Denmark, dies; Hardraada sovereign king of Norway; Claims Denmark as well.
    1047 - Svend Estridsson gains control of the Danish throne, but Hardraada won't give up his claim.
    1049 - Hardraada founds Oslo, Norway.
    1050 - Hardraade raids Haithabu.
    1062 - Hardraada defeats Svend Estridsson at the Battle of Nissen, but fails to gain control of Denmark.
    1064 - Hardraada gives up Denmark and recognizes Svend Estridsson as legal heir to the throne.
    1066 - Harold Godwinson defeats Harald Hardraada, who dies in the Battle of Stamford Bridge (Sep 25th).
    1066 - William, Duke of Normandy, defeats Saxon king Harold in the Battle of Hastings (Oct 14th).
    1072 - Vikings conquers Palermo.
    1085 - Danish Vikings makes a final attempt to conquer England but fails.
     
  9. Gagliaudo

    Gagliaudo Chieftain

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    I LOVE these great chronologies :goodjob: !!!
    Bravo @thetrooper ! :D
    Could I ask you for a (ore more) map with all the most important places of Vikings history (with original viking names ;) ) ???
     
  10. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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  11. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    The last link in the previous post is the best.
     
  12. Companiero

    Companiero proletarian par excelence

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    That was a nice info, but I'd like if you could send part 2 and more about the formation of the Scandinavian nations, cos what u posted so far i already knew most of it. ;o
     
  13. Gagliaudo

    Gagliaudo Chieftain

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    @thetrooper: thanx for linx :)
     
  14. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    I am heading for a very time-consuming period now (will probably last for 2 months). Time will tell, but I assure you that I will post again!
     
  15. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

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    Great work trooper! :goodjob: . :thanx: for your effort. Looking forward

    to your next write-up :scan: :D . Take Care, Greg
     
  16. zjl56

    zjl56 Chieftain

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    Thanks trooper.
     
  17. Esckey

    Esckey Chieftain

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    I have Viking blood by way of William of Normandy so this is mucho cool
     
  18. Rammstein

    Rammstein Barely hominid

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    Very very ambitious and accurate. I'm impressed. :worship:
     
  19. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    Thanks Rammstein!
     
  20. thetrooper

    thetrooper Schweinhund

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    In pictures from romanticism, vikings have wings on their helmets. Richard Wagner´s awesome opera, "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring of the Nibelung") was put on for the first time in 1876 in Bayreuth, Germany. The costumemaker, professor Carl Emil Doepler, created viking helmets with horns from cattle. As a matter of fact this type of helmet was invented at that time! So - viking helmets with cowhorns are only fairytales.
     

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