Here is one
thing that shows that Vikings were definitely nice people.
This is simple and it just makes sense.
We Vikings were merchants and traders who depended on our reputation. If we ever unfarily harmed anyone then for 50 years people would run away whenever they saw a ship on the horizon. That is all the proof anyone should need. I mean I shouldn't need to explain it anymore but I will.
We only would we have had to give up being merchants we would have gotten in trouble with the 'home office' for wrecking the trade in that area for 50 years. Getting into that 'trouble' mean a slow death by torture over a period of several days. Iceland had a parlaiment before any other country and a well formed legal system. Our laws extended where ever we sailed.
This part about merchants having to be nice is just logical and self evident. We also had to be justice and fairness embodied in order to survive. The myth of the murderer Vikings is explained on this page I wrote.
There are other proofs which show that the Vikings were nice guys but this is one which is entertaining and is a direct and vivid memory I have about cats.
We Vikings hated cats with a passion because they were troublesome. (I love my cat in this life. My 'cat conflict' is the biggest conflict that I have with my life when I was a Viking.)
At almost all the towns we stopped there were cats. They were there to clean the old fish bait and food left overs off the fishing boats. Of course they would want to go on our ship too and there was no way to keep them off it seems. Whenever you try to keep a cat away from somewhere they try twice as hard to get there. So they would sneak on board our ships at night looking for food scraps.
We could not be the most careful eaters when we had to eat and row at the same time so the cats always found a lot of food scraps. They would eat their fill and then fall sleep there. They would digest it, wake up and eat some more.
Then when the men started coming on board in the morning the noise would scare them and they would cower and hide somewhere that they could not be seen. They would be so frightened that they not come out. Then after we had gone at least 35 Km. and often after we had gone 50 to 100 km we would hear a low sound that went something like this: 'Meow'.
Of course we had no idea whose cat it was. If we just let the cat off at the next landfall we inevitably would find out that the cat belonged to the mayor's daughters and everybody would be really upset at us for stealing it!
So we always had to turn the ship around and 32 brave and fearless warriors would row double time to take the cat back to the last town and we had a schedule to keep.
About half the time the cat was considered a nuisance by the villagers. Those were cats that people would try to get rid of by throwing rocks at or even trying to drown. Inevitably it was these unwanted cats that we had ended up taking back.
Everyone would laugh at us and keep laughing for years. They would spread the story to villages for miles around. It would be the big joke they had heard in a long time and it would go on for years. Even when years had gone by, people we didn't know 150 km away would just laugh at us when they heard which Viking ship we were from. It happened several times to yours truely.
It did not help the Viking image at all. That image was very important to maintain at all cost*.
So WE HATED CATS but we took them all back.
Then we had to make up lost time because the schedule said we had to be at a certain place at a certain phase of the moon, let's say the full moon. People would walk up to forty miles to trade with us. If we were not there at the full moon they would leave and go home to attend to the things they absolutely had to do like feeding children and milking cows, etc.
What excuse did we have and what could we tell them? That we were late because we had to take back a cat? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds if it is not your cat? They would find out eventually. That story would travel or one of our men would get drunk and tell.
The truth of the matter is that we were honest. We didn't deceive about things of importance. To deceive about a matter of importance would diminish our honor. Any man without honor was not a man you wanted near you.
This attention that we paid to even cats shows you how nice we Vikings really were!
Even today if you lose your
cat 30 km from home the best person to find it is a Scandinavian. If they
find it with an address on his collar you will almost certainly get it
back. And they will drive 30 km to return him to his rightful owner.
*One thing that did happen because of it was that the women trusted us completely after that. By then we were pretty established and the tough Viking image which helped protect us wasn't really needed anymore.
© 2003 John Pinil