The Vikings

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good explanations I really like the care he takes to explain how the lay of the land affected the history of the people and the where the evolution of the words. Just a great course thank you.
Date published: 2020-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Vikings This was my first Great Course. I have to say that I learned a lot about the Vikings and their influence throughout Europe and into Asia. There were many aspects of their history and influence of which I had not been aware. All in all it was quite educational and informative. I did find that the presentations and speaking by Dr. Harl could have used some polishing. The hesitations with “um” etc did get annoying and even distracting at times. Mispronunciations also were noticed. I followed along with the furnished guidebook which helped me I believe. The family trees and presented names and relations of the royal families and rulers were often confusing. I watched the DVD’s and usually did one or two lectures early in the morning before the rest of the household awoke. I recommend reading the National Geographic, May 2000 issue. I found that the feature on the Vikings including the photos and map were helpful in summarizing and providing a great and very broad view of the entire set of lectures.
Date published: 2020-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well documented Dr. Harl talks fast and has a habit of saying, “None the less”. His lectures were easy to follow and while not always well done, his lecture slides were well placed and helped convey his thoughts. His map slides were especially helpful. Our knowledge of the subject presented was greatly increased by watching this lecture series. It tied several events with which we were familiar into a comprehesive narrative. We also enjoy his sense of humor.
Date published: 2020-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from to the point enjoy the detail and factual presention believable
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Presented Professor gave a fair presentation of Vikings contributions to our current world but did not skim over their rather barbaric tendencies.. His Barbarian Empires of the Steppes was also a very well presented in depth course. I enjoyed that one which is which is why I purchased Vikings.
Date published: 2020-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good material, poor instructor The material in this video is very interesting, informing, and adds to my understanding of the middle ages. The instruction tends to shout, talks so fact he gets ahead of himself, and has to resort to a series of ahs, ahs, ahs. Also he jumps from subect without sufficient context. Haaving said that, I have fourd the subject interesting.
Date published: 2020-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have purchased six lectures and can state they are all professionally done and deeply interesting.
Date published: 2020-01-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Cheap Box I disliked that the course came in a cheap DVD box where the DVD's were stacked on top of each other, instead of having separate holders for each disc. That's terrible for the longevity of the DVD's.
Date published: 2019-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent content, average presentation My interest is medieval European history with a personal focus on the Viking age due to family presence in NE England from about 800 AD to 1560 AD. I was anxious to see and experience this course. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the material and am very pleased with the content. My only concern is with Dr. Harl's presentation and speaking styles. There are way too many "uh's" and "ah's" for my taste. On balance though I would recommend the course for someone who already has an interest in the period and the culture.
Date published: 2019-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done Course I haven't completed the entire course as of yet but expect the rest to be just as well done as the first few lectures. I purchased Barbarian Empires of the Steppes by the same professor a few years ago and found it very detailed and educational
Date published: 2019-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative. I learned so much about the Vikings. Rather than being just a blip in history, Prof Harlequin's showed how important they were to the development of Western Europe as we know it.
Date published: 2019-11-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good information, poor delivery. I have numerous great courses, and the delivery of this one is below average. Way to many “ahhh”s in his delivery.
Date published: 2019-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Topic, So-So Presentation I was really looking forward to learning more about the Vikings as I did not know much about them. The context of the lectures was interesting and I did learn about them as a people and culture, but the overall presentation and flow of the course was lacking the engagement element to keep it interesting beyond facts. I'd recommend IF you are interested in the topic, but not IF you are new to the subject.
Date published: 2019-10-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great information. It's a grind though. I've learned more from this series on the Vikings than any other source, and it makes one realize in astonishment how much influence the Vikings had on our world and language today. Professor Kenneth goes into great depth while keeping the material understandable. My only critique is that this series seems to have been shot in the early 2000's and his speech patterns are dry, sometimes monotone. The information given is worth the grind, but it's sometimes hard to push through a few lectures at a time.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent series. Didn't realize how much the Vikings Acton accomplished,
Date published: 2019-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Vikings Great content and very Informative! Recommend.ended!
Date published: 2019-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Technical problems The content of the course was well organized and enjoyably presented. My complaints have to do with how the application works. I’ve seen the same complaints by others: the program is very slow to open each time you go back to it even if you were just using it a few hours beforehand. When one lecture ends it does not automatically proceed to the next lecture and this is irritating and dangerous to deal with while driving. There are other glitches and they crop up in every series I’ve purchased, eight so far. I would think in this day of technological advancement the company could hire a programmer able to fix these irritations. Based on content alone my rating would be five stars.
Date published: 2019-04-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from First course I could not get through. The Vikings you would think would be a very interesting course. It unfortunately was not the case. As much as I hate to give a bad review I feel I must. The course content was jumbled and disorganized. Professor Harl presentation was so hard to follow. There was no story. Never a beginning or an end. To make matters worse his actual speaking skills are weak. He uses the word "uh" in every other sentence and if that is not annoying enough he misspeaks words constantly. Bottom line. save your money.
Date published: 2019-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this series because my grandma was born in Stavanger and my grandpa was born in Olso...always had interest in Viking history. I absolutely loved the lectures . Listened to them about a million times ...while commuting ,travelling with the wife and kids etc.
Date published: 2019-03-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating course I have really enjoyed this Course. It's great to have a lecturer with such enthusiasm for and knowledge of what is a somewhat obscure subject in the English-speaking world. The only quibble is the frankly outlandish pronunciations that Prof Harl indulges in - but in time I decided it was quirky, but doesn't detract from his obvious scholarship. Thoroughly recommended.
Date published: 2019-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Professor! Great Professor who will keep you engaged and learning! Love the subject!
Date published: 2019-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating look at the Vikings Prof. Harl is one of the best presenters of the Great Courses and this one is no exception. He gives a comprehensive look at the history of the Viking Age and somewhat beyond. He covers the prehistory, and the settlement age, and what is known of Viking history and Norse Mythology and sagas. Interesting to me - and different than other books - he also focused on the transition of these lands into Christian kingdoms and what that transformation meant politically and economically. I also learned a lot about what happened to the settlements they made in Russia and other places, which helped fill some of the gaps from the medieval and Byzantine history I had read previously. Highly recommended if you have an interest in Medieval history or plan to travel to Scandinavia. Note that I listened to it on audio and find it perfectly suited to that medium.
Date published: 2018-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Harl the Jarl and His Scary Scandinavians This course is really a history of Scandinavia extending from the earliest human habitations in the Paleolithic Age to the late Middle Ages, a period of nearly ten thousand years. The Vikings occupy only the middle third of lectures, though they dominate the narrative. What we know about them depends on three kinds of sources: hostile Christian accounts that emphasize the horribleness of the barbarian invaders, Scandinavian sagas that stress their heroism and that of their gods, and physical remains studied by archaeologists for clues to everyday life. Viking raids changed everything in western Europe. With highly mobile long ships and infantry tactics making them almost unstoppable, the Vikings accelerated the breakdown of the Frankish Empire in Western Europe. In the Empire’s place rose a feudal order based on effectively independent provincial lords. In England a Viking army smashed three of four kingdoms. The surviving southwestern kingdom of Wessex was then able to claim—and eventually achieve--lordship over all England. Ireland was already a mess of warring clans, but the Vikings ended its cultural influence. In Scandinavia itself the accumulation of plunder and power produced warlords (“jarls”) strong and rich enough to establish the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway. These kings then accepted and promoted Christianity to make their rule effective. When the Vikings weren’t raiding, they were trading, creating a network that extended from the North Atlantic to the Black and Caspian Seas. Viking migrations produced very different results, depending on terrain, climate and the size of preexisting populations. In central England Danish settlers continued living according to their ancestral customs and speaking their home language. Thanks to them, we have many Old Norse words in our vocabulary. On the other hand, they soon submitted to English rule. In northeastern France Viking invaders under Hrolf/Rollo received permission (more or less) to take over the duchy of Normandy on condition of converting to Christianity. There the newcomers quickly adopted the Romance tongue and West Frankish institutions. The duchy itself became a new jumping-off point for the conquest of England and southern Italy plus Sicily. In Ireland the Vikings managed only to make themselves the strongest of several lordships and eventually lost even this local predominance to Irish counterattacks. Their Swedish cousins, the “Rus” or “Varangians,” did far better by establishing trading posts on the Dnieper River among the numerous forest-dwelling Eastern Slavs; these Rus founded and ruled the first Russian state based upon Orthodox Christianity and Old Church Slavonic. In Iceland there were no people at all, but settlers had more than enough difficulty handling the bleak landscape. They developed as exports cattle and great literature. The Vikings also colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, but cold and distance doomed them to failure, sooner in Newfoundland’s case and later in Greenland’s. Professor Harl’s presentation is, as always, somewhat lessened somewhat by his umms and uhhhs, plus some truly impressive verbal stumbling. I was irritated whenever he mispronounced Varangians as “Varingians.” He rushed quickly through Lectures 34 and 35, probably because he was trying to cover too much material on medieval Scandinavia. For some reason, a slide in Lecture 6 misspells trickster (in reference to the god Loki) as “trixter,” which has me thinking he really likes a certain General Mills breakfast cereal. Otherwise, the course is excellent in content and organization. I very much enjoyed Lectures 6, 7, 8 and 21 on Norse mythology, legends, poetry and prose. You will carry away a lot of knowledge about the Vikings. The most important is that—contrary to their popular image--they did NOT have horns on their helmets. Sorry, Hagar the Horrible!
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Comprehensive course with occasional flaws This is one of three excellent lecture series by Harl that I have listened to. This one nicely expands on the standard Viking 'raider or trader' theme to integrate well into general northern European history between about 700 and 1100. My favorite parts were the sections on the formation of the Scandinavian nation-states beginning after 850. I also liked Harl's appreciation of the sagas, and his frequent reference to these stories as illustrative of Viking life and times. (In general, Harl is very good about providing the historical sources for the materials he is presenting.) His lecturing style is not without criticism. As other reviewers have noted, he has a sort of 'non-linear' rhetorical approach filled with tangents and asides. It is sometimes as if he were reading a book and adding the supplemental footnotes with no indication that these footnotes are not, in fact, part of the main narrative. This can be distracting, and any listener will have to pay close attention to keep track of his lines of thought. I frequently found myself repeating sections after having no idea where he was in his story. A second minor issue is his often strange pronunciations and awkward syntax. Inconsistencies abound - e.g. Snorri Sturluson's last name is modified to Strew-le-son in the course of a single lecture. Bizarre or unusual pronunciations are frequent - e.g. Harald Hardrada is called Harald Har-dar-ee. (When I heard him refer to the Anglo-Saxon king Edgar as 'Egg-dar' it occurred to me that there might also be some kind of dyslexic-like tendency in place.) His treatment of adverbs is unique, at best. These adverb peculiarities are the most notable and feature in virtually every lecture. As a typical example, here is one I just listened to: - This was a period of also migration. Clearly he means "This was also a period of migration". This (and other similar sentences) might work if he included pauses before and after the adverb, as in "This was a period of -- also -- migration" but he doesn't, and the 'also' comes out sounding like an adjective of 'migration'. But his style and speaking issues are minor distractions and worth tolerating to benefit from his thematic insights into European history. In general, I think all the GC lectures should be viewed the same as college lectures, where the teacher's presentation is intended as a broad interpretive oversight to topics often addressed more comprehensively in supplemental readings. I often find myself listening to these courses, reading other books on the same subject, then listening to selected lectures again as a sort of general recap and means to integrate the various sources into a single narrative.
Date published: 2018-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting but moves F-A-S-T As a MN Vikings fan (yeah yeah yeah..), I wanted to learn more about this storied group of crusaders...beyond the all the generalizations normally associated with this band of invaders, pillagers. I haven't been disappointed so far. I'm only about 8 lectures into this course, but I like what Dr. Harl has to offer. His wealth of knowledge on Vikings is without question. However, the speed at which he delivers this information can be a bit overwhelming at times. From the poetry, to population dispersion, to jewelry, jade and weaponry, (not to mention Ammianus Marcellinus..) Dr. Hahl has covered a lot, and I'm looking forward to what's next. I'll report back. Until then - Skol!
Date published: 2018-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Vikings The Vikings course is very interesting. Having purchased other courses, we expected that the course would be well presented with a very qualified professor; we were not disappointed!
Date published: 2018-09-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Vkings This is the old style presentation of the lecturer standing behind the podium and using the same photos over and over again. The content is good and you do learn from the series but it needs to be updated.
Date published: 2018-09-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from exception that proofs the rule The rule: Prof.Harls Courses are excellent; sadly,this ,in my opinion, i own now all the Courses of prof.harl, gems like the course about the Ottoman empire or about the barbarian Empires, you name it, one is the exception : an endless stream of names,who can immpossibly be remebered for more than 5 seconds,no structure to the Courses, intersting details mixed with endless rambling..skip this one,especially the Audio Version,its painful and i struggle to finish the course
Date published: 2018-07-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good product Learn a great deal on the influence of the Vikings in the development of Western culture.
Date published: 2018-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful professor. Could have been shorter. I just finished enjoying the DVD version of this course, taking over 5 weeks to finish it. As always, Prof. Harl does a fine job with what to me has been an unknown historical subject. He really is a professor you would go out of your way to hear. The only criticism I have for the course is that it seemed too long, stretched a bit to get to the current 36 lectures. Other than that, the subject was of interest, and I had little knowledge of this topic beforehand.
Date published: 2018-07-18
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The Vikings
Course Trailer
The Vikings in Medieval History
1: The Vikings in Medieval History

Hostile Christian sources demonize the Vikings; Muslim accounts render them exotic; and recent revisionist historians downplay the impact of Norse raids. Archeological finds such as ship burials, coin hoards, and human remains, combined with close study of the Norse sagas of Iceland, can enrich and balance our understanding of Scandinavia's place in medieval history.

32 min
Land and People of Medieval Scandinavia
2: Land and People of Medieval Scandinavia

Scandinavia's landscape shaped its culture. Dense forestation led to small, close-knit communities, skill in woodworking, and to sailing as the primary means of long-distance transport. Long, harsh winters engendered skill in cold-weather travel, a unique cosmology, and the emergence of great halls where storytelling and hospitality traditions were born.

30 min
Scandinavian Society in the Bronze Age
3: Scandinavian Society in the Bronze Age

The physical evidence, expertly interpreted, paints a compelling picture of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia (2300-450 B.C.) Viking ancestors traded Arctic goods, amber, and slaves in exchange for foreign copper and tin to produce impressive bronze objects. New wealth fostered larger villages led by chieftains. A gilt bronze sun chariot, rock tracings, and other material culture indicate the beginnin...

30 min
Scandinavia in the Celtic and Roman Ages
4: Scandinavia in the Celtic and Roman Ages

Scandinavia fed off of trade with the Celts (450-50 B.C.) importing improved cart, ship, and metalworking technology. Contact with Rome (c. 50 B.C.-A.D. 400) enriched the upper classes with fine silver, ceramics, and glass. More ominously, Scandinavians returning from Roman military service brought back advanced weapons and armor. Petty kings surrounded by loyal bands of warriors emerged, along wi...

30 min
The Age of Migrations
5: The Age of Migrations

Between 400-700, as the Roman political order collapsed in Western Europe, Scandinavians poured in: Anglo-Saxons in England, Franks in Gaul, Swedish Goths in Italy and Spain, Danes in Frisia. Cultural ties were so close that Scandinavian legends celebrated legendary West Germanic figures for centuries. But in the 7th and 8th centuries, Christianization and linguistic change transformed these immig...

31 min
The Norse Gods
6: The Norse Gods

Norse religion was integral to Scandinavian life. A creation myth tells of primeval frozen wastes and sacred trees. The pantheon contained gods of war (Odin), sky (Thor), and fertility (Frey and Freya). The afterlife in Valhalla and other great halls was a reward for great deeds. Worship of these gods, and veneration of the ancestors united communities and separated them from Christendom.

31 min
Runes, Poetry, and Visual Arts
7: Runes, Poetry, and Visual Arts

As a non-urbanized culture, Viking society expressed its visual genius in elaborate woodcarving and intricate jewelry, not architecture. Gods were represented by charming cult statues and contacted through magical runic drawings. Without writing, great myths and legends were transmitted in great halls by poets, playing a harp and composing spontaneous, witty, and metrical verse.

30 min
Legendary Kings and Heroes
8: Legendary Kings and Heroes

The Epic of Beowulf (c. 675-725) and The Saga of Hrolf Kraki (c. 13th century) look back to the 6th century when legendary kings of Denmark and Sweden ruled from great halls and won great victories, albeit without the Viking longships of the 9th and 10th centuries. These figures were role models and inspirations to the sea kings and territorial rulers of the Viking Age....

31 min
A Revolution in Shipbuilding
9: A Revolution in Shipbuilding

Without the advances in shipbuilding that occurred in the 9th and 10th centuries, Viking success in raiding and trading would have been impossible. Viking vessels evolved from the earliest paddleboats to the great cargo and war ships that carried Viking goods and armies farther and faster than anyone else in the Medieval world.

31 min
Warfare and Society in the Viking Age
10: Warfare and Society in the Viking Age

Swords, bows and arrows, javelins, spears, and axes made up the Viking arsenal, but their greatest weapon was unit cohesion. Trained since youth, they were expert in winter travel and foraging, the building of fortifications, and coordinated attack in advanced formations like the "shield wall." The Great Army of 865-878 showed that, when massed together by the thousands, they could virtu...

30 min
Merchants and Commerce in the Viking Age
11: Merchants and Commerce in the Viking Age

From 675-840, Western economic and political activity revived, fueled by improved agriculture, growing towns and monasteries, and renewed Mediterranean trade. But it was the need for slaves in the Islamic world that led Vikings to pioneer extensions of this trade, southwest to Islamic Spain and southeast to Constantinople and Baghdad. Cosmopolitan market towns in Scandinavia eventually became sour...

31 min
Christendom on the Eve of the Viking Age
12: Christendom on the Eve of the Viking Age

The Carolingian Empire, which had actually conquered Germanic peoples under Charlemagne, possessed the economic and military strength to challenge the Vikings. But partition in 843 and civil conflicts between the nobles weakened Carolingian defenses, even as Frankish prosperity invited Viking raids. England and Ireland had cultural and economic ties to the Latin West through their vibrant and pros...

30 min
Viking Raids on the Carolingian Empire
13: Viking Raids on the Carolingian Empire

Vikings raided the Carolingian Empire throughout the 9th century, disrupting trade routes and depleting imperial coffers through the extraction of tribute (Danegeld). Local vassals stepped into the power void and claimed fiefs, while veteran Viking companies put down roots in the empire at fortified camps and bases. The axis of trade shifted away from the weakened empire, towards Scandinavia.

31 min
The Duchy of Normandy
14: The Duchy of Normandy

In 911, Frankish king Charles the Simple faced the Viking sea king Hrolf and a massive Viking fleet en route to Paris. With no money to offer as ransom, Charles offered Hrolf the land around the town of Rouen. Hrolf's warriors, and their families and descendants, forged the powerful feudal state of Normandy that would later found two great feudal kingdoms.

31 min
Viking Assault on England
15: Viking Assault on England

Vikings had been merchants in England for centuries when the first Viking raid destroyed Lindisfarne in 793. Viking raids climaxed in the Great Army's methodical ravaging of southern England and the Midlands from 865-878. They conquered three English kingdoms, but the fourth, led by Alfred the Great, fortified itself militarily and fiscally, preserving its independence.

31 min
The Danelaw
16: The Danelaw

Many Danes settled in the northern areas of England conquered by the Great Army. In the 9th and 10thth centuries, Anglo-Danish rule brought prosperity and lasting changes in language, customs, and legal institutions. But in adopting Christianity and becoming a landed class, these Danes also surrendered their Viking identity and, with shocking docility, accepted the rule of the kings of Wessex by 9...

31 min
Viking Assault on Ireland
17: Viking Assault on Ireland

In 432-433, St. Patrick brought Roman Christianity to Ireland, but not Roman government. So in the Viking Age Ireland possessed great, learned, clan-supported monasteries surrounded by chieftain-led tribes. Norse Vikings devastated the monasteries, dominated the river systems and coastal ports, and co-opted local chieftains, transforming Ireland into a hub for the slave trade to Muslim Spain.

31 min
Norse Kings of Dublin and Ireland
18: Norse Kings of Dublin and Ireland

In 917, Hiberno-Norse kings reestablished rule over Dublin and its hinterland, and many key ports. With Norse immigration in decline, however, they lacked the numbers to dominate the island. Cooperation, intermarriage, and assimilation marked Norse-Irish relations. Irish king Mael Sechlainn's victory over the Norse at Tara in 980 cemented their secondary position thereafter.

32 min
The Settlement of Iceland
19: The Settlement of Iceland

Iceland filled with settlers between 870-930. Some sought relief from an overcrowded Norway, some sought free land, and others desired freedom from the tyrannical Norwegian king Harald Finehair. On this remote, barely habitable island just below the Arctic Circle, a purely Scandinavian experiment in self-government produced a remarkably independent society of free farmsteads, minimally governed by...

31 min
Iceland-A Frontier Republic
20: Iceland-A Frontier Republic

The rugged terrain of Iceland necessitated egalitarianism. As men left home to hunt, fish, and tend pastures, women ran the households, handled legal settlements, and even acted as delegate chieftains. Law was informal, and justice "face to face," adjudicated by a trusted member of the community. These traditions persisted for centuries, even after timber depletion and civic unrest rende...

31 min
Skaldic Poetry and Sagas
21: Skaldic Poetry and Sagas

Icelanders preserved memories of their Scandinavian homeland and transmitted tales of the ancient Germanic gods through recited poems, consistent with an oral culture in which even law was recited publicly from memory. From the 10th century onward, literature became ever more ornate and sophisticated, culminating in the great written works of the 12th-14th centuries: the collections of Norse poetr...

30 min
Western Voyages to Greenland and Vinland
22: Western Voyages to Greenland and Vinland

The daunting climate and the ultimate paucity of marketable trade goods prevented Greenland from becoming a viable settlement, while Vinland settlements foundered due to hostile Algonquins and remoteness from the Scandinavian homeland. The American fascination with these voyages reveals a sentiment the Icelanders would have appreciated, a yearning for connection with an ancient past.

32 min
Swedes in the Baltic Sea and Russia
23: Swedes in the Baltic Sea and Russia

By the 8th century, intrepid Swedes had moved into the Russian forest zones, acquiring slaves to trade with Khazar middlemen that controlled the Volga. These Swedes, or Rus, braved rapids and marauding steppe-peoples, adapting to a foreign land and adopting some indigenous customs and institutions. The market towns they established formed the core areas of future Russian states.

30 min
The Road to Byzantium
24: The Road to Byzantium

The shift in Swedish trading activity from the Volga in the east to the Dneiper in the west was also a shift away from the Islamic world and towards a Byzantine Christian civilization that greatly impressed the Swedes. The Rus became mercenary allies and trading partners with the emperors in Constantinople and imported imperial institutions into an incipient Russian kingdom, beginning the process ...

30 min
From Varangians into Russians
25: From Varangians into Russians

Prince Vladimir of Kiev's momentous conversion to Orthodox Christianity in 989 was revolutionary. The Rus adopted literacy and the Slavic language, imported Byzantine builders to create masonry churches, shifted patronage from pagan poetry to Christian works, created cavalry and a military elite, and converted a slave-trade economy into an agricultural economy that would feed the great cities now ...

31 min
Transformation of Scandinavian Society
26: Transformation of Scandinavian Society

From 790-1000, a massive influx of silver led to the minting of Scandinavian coins and resulting monetized markets. Newly wealthy individuals, increasingly women, enjoyed their largess through imported luxury goods and personal ornamentation found in ever-more opulent ship burials. Overseas Viking kingdoms in Russia and England provided the model, and silver provided the means, for Christian Scand...

30 min
St. Anskar and the First Christian Missions
27: St. Anskar and the First Christian Missions

In a Viking-Age Scandinavia well served by the traditional gods of war, sailing, and prosperity, the Carolingian missionary St. Anskar had little success convincing the Vikings that Christianity was a powerful religion of victory. But by training Frankish clergy in the Scandinavian tongue, he put in place the institutions that would aid future Christian kings.

31 min
Formation of the Kingdom of Denmark
28: Formation of the Kingdom of Denmark

Denmark was forged under threat from the Holy Roman Empire to the south. Responding to Henry the Fowler's 934 invasion, the pagan king Gorm the Old raided the southern frontier, securing Jutland. His successor Harold Bluetooth precluded further invasions by Christianizing Denmark, fortifying the Danevirke, and establishing massive military camps. Harold's son Svein inherited a Danish kingdom with ...

32 min
Cnut the Great
29: Cnut the Great

Cnut the Great (1014-1035), along with his father Svein Forkbeard, reclaimed England for Scandinavia, but viewed himself as a pan-European king in the mold of Charlemagne. Though not remembered fondly by his subjects, his maintenance of a powerful fleet, innovative use of proxy rule, and savvy employment of marriage alliances turned Denmark from a fragile kingdom into a Christian North Sea Empire.

31 min
Collapse of Cnut's Empire
30: Collapse of Cnut's Empire

At Cnut's death in 1035, his sons clashed for control while also fending off Magnus the Good of Norway. In 1066, with Cnut's sons both dead and his nephew Svein Estrithson holding Denmark, Magnus's uncle Harald Hardardi attempted to wrest England from Cnut's distant relative Harold II. Harold repelled Hardardi but fell at Hastings to William the Conqueror, who had just begun to put Normandy on the...

30 min
Jarls and Sea Kings of Norway
31: Jarls and Sea Kings of Norway

Harald Finehair, a king in Upplönd, imposed his rule over Norway after defeating a coalition of jarls at the naval battle of Hafsfjord c. 875. Although his line ended in 970, another sea king, Olaf Tryggvasson, used his Viking fleet, and Christian institutions, to become king of Norway. Olaf fell fighting a Danish rival, Swein Forkbeard, at the naval battle of Svöld, and Norwegians again...

31 min
St. Olaf of Norway
32: St. Olaf of Norway

Converted in England, Olaf rose from a Viking raider to become a great Christian king of Norway, which he liberated from Danish rule in 1015. His heavy-handed rule led his subjects to expel and then kill him at the Battle of Stikelstad in 1030, but they later repented, and he survives in memory as Scandinavia's first royal saint.

31 min
Kings of the Swedes and Goths
33: Kings of the Swedes and Goths

Sweden, in resources and population, seemed destined for primacy in Scandinavia, but the Yngling kings of Uppsala did not profit from the Viking expansion in the East. In contrast to Norway and Denmark, Sweden lacked powerful sea kings that could forge a territorial state under hereditary Christian monarchs.

30 min
Christianization and Economic Change
34: Christianization and Economic Change

In the 11th century, distinct national churches emerged in the Scandinavian kingdoms. Christianity brought new prosperity and population growth. Cathedrals and monasteries stimulated the rise of market towns. Coulter ploughs, better tools, and the three-field system improved agricultural productivity significantly for the first time since the Iron Age.

31 min
From Vikings to Crusaders
35: From Vikings to Crusaders

By 1100, the Viking age had passed. On the eve of the Black Death (1347-1351), all three Scandinavian kingdoms shared similar fiscal and institutional weaknesses. The three kingdoms were united under the treaty of Kalmar, a weak union that dictated the course of Scandinavian history down to the Reformation.

31 min
The Viking Legacy
36: The Viking Legacy

The course of Medieval history was fundamentally altered by the Viking Age. The feudal states of Western Europe were born. The kingdoms of England and Scotland arose. Orthodox Kiev, founded by Swedish Rus, gave political organization to the East Slavic peoples. The three Scandinavian kingdoms emerged, as did the Norse settlements in the North Atlantic. The Vikings gave Christian Europe strength, a...

32 min
Kenneth W. Harl

We will be looking largely at archeological evidence and analysis done by anthropologists because we are operating largely in a world without writing.


Yale University


Tulane University

About Kenneth W. Harl

Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, Professor Harl has received numerous teaching awards at Tulane, including the coveted Sheldon H. Hackney Award. He has earned Tulane's annual Student Body Award for Excellence in Teaching nine times and is the recipient of Baylor University's nationwide Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers. In 2007, he was the Lewis P. Jones Visiting Professor in History at Wofford College. An expert on classical Anatolia, he has taken students with him into the field on excursions and to assist in excavations of Hellenistic and Roman sites in Turkey. Professor Harl has also published a wide variety of articles and books, including his current work on coins unearthed in an excavation of Gordion, Turkey, and a new book on Rome and her Iranian foes. A fellow and trustee of the American Numismatic Society, Professor Harl is well known for his studies of ancient coinage. He is the author of Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East, A.D. 180-275 and Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700.

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