What about the reports of Viking raids?
If you want to know the behavior of a Viking it is easy. Just talk with a Scandinavian and you will essentially be talking with a Viking. Most Norwegians are about 70% Viking. A few on Iceland are 100%
They are very nice people.
Why does the bad reputation of the Vikings exist? It took me a very long time, in fact it took me two lifetimes to figure this reputation out. I had most of it figured out 1000 years ago but there were a few blank space left in that information. I got those blank spaces filled in by information that I got off the internet!
The reputation of the Vikings as merciless savages started with the raids on England's monasteries in the late 8th century. As I have found out they were not Vikings that made the first raids. The Vikings were framed. It was actually Pope Adrian's family.
I had conjectured that someone other than Vikings had made the raids a thousand years ago. Put simply I got into this when I found out that there was no evidence from any raids at the time among us Vikings. No chalices, no nicely woven cloth. None of that awesome amount of treasure ever showed up. Also no one had bragged about having raided Lindisfame and something like that would have been bragged about for 200 miles up and down the coast. A Viking could no more keep from bragging about their conquests than they could about anything else. No one had said a thing. So I knew it was not us. But who was it?
Now I can prove what I thought. There are now two main published records of what occurred back then which were not available when I was alive as Leif which now proves my theory.
In 789, three Viking ships arrived on the Wessex shore. The local reeve had been sent to greet them but he was killed on the spot. This event was recorded in a short entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Notice the words 'Viking ships' but no mention is actually made anywhere of Viking men. Also it never describes who the raiders actually were. The same thing is found in the next passage but the wording is slightly different.
"Here Beorhtric [AD 786-802] took King Offa's daughter Eadburh. And in his days there came for the first time 3 ships; and then the reeve rode there and wanted to compel them to go to the king's town, because he did not know what they were; and they killed him. Those were the first ships of the Danish men which sought out the land of the English race." Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Winchester MS)
Notice the words are now, 'ships of the Danish men'. Again the ships are of Danish origin but who the men are is not mentioned! It implies Norsemen but it never states it as such because they were not Norsemen.
It's important to know that this was rewritten 100 years after the actual event and probably by a historian under orders by the Catholic Church. However, it was written by an honest man who was not going to lie so he used high rhetoric not often seen since ancient Greek times when it was developed.
The two groups of words are a real giveaway. He didn't repeat the same word manipulation and hence the same lie. He twisted the English language twice and each time made good ones. 'Viking ships' and 'ships of the Danish men'. This is all the proof anyone with brains should need.*
The only evidence that even pointed to Vikings were the Viking ships which could be bought in what is now Belgium on the open market.**
To claim the Vikings did it is like saying a gang of Japanese robbed a bank because someone saw a Toyota drive away from the bank. Vikings were not involved at any of the early Monasteries raids.
There was never any one who saw them close up that survived to identify them. If you think about it for a second it seems pointless for Vikings to murder their victims since they often came back several times, unless they had to kill all the witnesses because the witnesses could identify them. Only the Catholics would have a motive to actually kill them. Only the Vatican (and Pope Adrian's spies) knew which Monasteries had riches and where they hid them.
So it had to be Pope Adrians men.
Vikings knew nothing about monastery's but the Vatican did and that is where the raiders must have gotten the information about the contents of the Monasteries.
Only the higher levels of the Catholic Church knew anything about what was in those monasteries and Pope Adrian was pope at the time. Here is the account of the first raid on a Monastery, in 793 at Lindisfarne England
"In the same year the pagans from the northern regions came with a naval force to Britain like stinging hornets and spread on all sides like fearful wolves, robbed, tore and slaughtered not only beasts of burden, sheep and oxen, but even priests and deacons, and companies of monks and nuns. And they came to the church of Lindisfarne, laid everything waste with grievous plundering, trampled the holy places with polluted steps, dug up the altars and seized all the treasures of the holy church. They killed some of the brothers, took some away with them in fetters, many they drove out, naked and loaded with insults, some they drowned in the sea..." Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum
Hold that level and especially the type of violence in your mind (for a few just seconds) and compare it to an attack in 799 that Pope Adrian's family was known to have made on his successor Pope St. Leo III (who probably intended to expose the Adrian family). This is the second published record which I told you proves what I had conjectured 1000 years ago.
Prompted by jealousy or ambition, or by feelings of hatred and revenge, a number of the relatives of Pope Adrian I formed a plot to render (Pope) Leo unfit to hold his sacred office. On the occasion of the procession of the Greater Litanies (25 April, 799), when the pope was making his way towards the Flaminian Gate, he was suddenly attacked by a body of armed men. He was dashed to the ground, and an effort was made to root out his tongue and tear out his eyes. After he had been left for a time bleeding in the street, he was hurried off at night to the monastery of St. Erasmus on the C;lian. Catholic encyclopedia
This is the same modus operandi, level of violent behavior as occurred at Lindisfarne. It was opportunistic, openly made in public with the same vicious lack of regard for authority as seen at the Lindisfarne attack. Ask any police officer to read these two accounts and they will probably tell you both attacks appear to have been made by the same 'gang'.
Pope Adrian's kin were probably the inside men at the Vatican for his family 'the family of Colonna'.
When the Vikings became Christians they shunned the Roman Catholic Church in favor of the Greek Orthodox Church for two main reasons. The Roman Catholic's long history of violence and the Roman's desire for gold (what we call 'money' or wealth). Those two constituted about 90% of the reasons we never joined the Roman Catholic Church. We thought neither violence or the material had a place in religion (and it doesn't seem to have changed much since then). The literature at the time will only refer to the reason Vikings disdained the Roman Catholics in very few places as 'their lack of piety' or 'lacking in pious behavior'. (This is one of the few instance's of us Vikings ever betraying our normally totally honest communication in favor of using 'politically correct' language but it was only done for the sake of the Catholic religion and God).
Those attacks had those same two components of violence and greed. To me it seemed all too obvious who had committed those crimes. However, 1000 years ago we Vikings had no inside information that could even begin to confirm or deny it. It is a big exhale for me to read these accounts that are now published and on the internet since they confirm everything that I thought 1000 years ago. My thoughts back then did not allow me to even think the Vatican was involved because it was pure heresy to think that their own Catholic Church might have been involved. It was thought impossible that Catholics could do something so violent to their own people (yet look at what they did to their own pope). The strangest part is that information about the attack on Pope Leo. I never heard about that back then. It must have been kept a church secret because back then I looked for something like that as evidence and I never found it.
The last place a Viking would ever attack was a monastery and they attacked no one at the time. You must understand that we had spent over 200 years establishing a great reputation as fair, honest and especially peaceful traders open to all. Then within a matter of less than five years our reputation was completely destroyed. That is when the Vikings started raiding Europe.
The only thing supporting the raiders being Vikings were the three Viking ships that were seen.
Using oars the
Pope's men could escape anybody who came after them by simply rowing into
the wind. They could escape any ship, except one kind, a real Viking ship
with real Vikings who could row twice as fast for days at a time if needed.
Another thing is that pretending to be Vikings was very easy to do.
The helmets were perfect for hiding their identity and even their hair color. They could have been Moroccan for all that was known about the raiders and it would have made a lot more sense if they were Moslems. However these so called 'Vikings' knew which churches had the most gold and silver so they have to had have connections with the Church while Moslems (and Vikings) didn't.
Also, if they had been Vikings they would have made 50 raids a year and not just one raid every three years on the average (for the first 40 years). The raiders obviously chose their prey and planned the raids from afar with great forethought.
The Vikings would have done it right. They would have landed with a hundred ships at a time all up and down the coast and not just one place with three ships and then run away.
The Vikings did not start their attacks until these lies messed up a two hundred year reputation for fairness and honesty in all our dealings.
Norsemen were so nice that the Church thought they would not react with violence. So they set up Norsemen to take the blame and then set upon them this crown of thorns. The English fell into line with these deceptions and as you see the English changed the records to put the blame on Norsemen. If England believed that the Norsemen had done what they claimed they would have been obligated to have declared war on the Norsemen but they did not so they were all in on the cover up.
Vikings put up with it for about 20-30 years until business dropped to about 25% of what it had been because of peoples lack of trust. Then the Norsemen had enough of the Church and English lies, accusations and insults. Then we kicked ass and took over much of England. If you treat others as if they are criminals, take away all their opportunities then don't be surprised if you end up making them into criminals that attack you since you are more criminal for having given them that unfair bad reputation.
I think we can take England and the Catholic Church to court for the slander it created. At least to get the Scandinavian people's reputation back to the way it should be.
*You can't learn rhetoric the way this man used it. This was once considered an art.
The man who wrote this account must have studied rhetoric in the original Greek because of his use of the emotions in combination with the patterns of human thoughts. He keys off of the excitement of the phrase itself to cause the reader to skip the less exciting issue and grab the more exciting issue in order to get them to misinterpret what actually occurred. We want to think that those ships had Vikings on board because it is so much more exciting than just having Danish ships without any Vikings. So we don't even notice that he only wrote down that there were Danish ships and nothing about there being Vikings or Danes on board.
These statements are really difficult to do right. If you knew how hard it is to make just one of these word plays that works smoothly then you would agree. Then realize that making two of them out of the same subject that slips right past most peoples consciousness is phenomenal. Try making one of them that people don't catch on to even ten centuries later and you will see just what I mean.
Aristotle's rhetoric Book 2 really gets into using the emotional elements in this manner but the translation into English doesn't work as well as it could. It's really not easy to directly translate since the Greeks and English do not see emotions the same. So the concepts must really be reconstructed in English for it to be understood. That is why I say the Chronicler studied it in the original Greek.
He may have learned it from the Moors because the Catholic Church outlawed it. They outlawed many teachings of the Greeks.
Also, after the Greeks, especially in Latin, the art of rhetoric itself became much drier and used less emotional elements until all the fun went right out of it. That's because the Romans abbreviated emotions or were disturbed by them and hid from them. Then the English ruined it entirely until it degenerated to the point where it is just called everything from campaign promises, to deceit to plain outright lying.
Maybe I should teach a class in it but maybe I better not. Too many people lie these days for me to want to help make them more effective at it.
**The Amsterdam area was like one big 'Viking car lot'. That is probably where the family of the Pope got theirs.
They were sold and resold and swapped. Many were used all over Europe. They were perfect for ferrying people. They were used even on lakes in Switzerland. Four men could row 40 people faster than they could walk.
Using oars the Pope's men could escape anybody under sail power who came after them by simply rowing into the wind. The only thing faster than a Viking ship is a racing scull. Like they use in the Olympics.
They could outrun any other ship and that is the reason that Pope Adrian's men never got caught.
© 2003 John Pinil