Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Men of the North

When surprised me with news that much of my ancestry was Scottish (not Welsh, as we had thought), English, Swedish, and Dane, my interest increased in how that combination occurred. Today Micah Mattix quotes from a review by Tom Shippey, medievalist and Tolkien scholar, of several books about the Normans. Shippey:
The Viking Age​ is generally agreed to have ended, as far as England was concerned, on 25 September 1066, when Harald Harðráði, or ‘Hardline Harald’, was killed and his army all but annihilated at Stamford Bridge. This put an end to the steady progress of the Vikings from raiders to settlers to would-be conquerors: an attempted invasion by King Sweyn of Denmark three years later was abortive, and though Norwegians continued for many years to control the Scottish islands in the far North, their effect on the British mainland was negligible.

But if you take a more romantic view, the First Viking Age was succeeded within three weeks by the start of a Second Age, with the victory of William of Normandy at Hastings. By 1100, Norman princes ruled not only England and most of Wales, with much of Scotland and Ireland soon to follow, but also Apulia and Calabria in southern Italy, and Sicily. They had started the process of picking off parts of the Byzantine Empire, and a Norman prince was ruler of Antioch in the Levant. They were to play a significant part in the reconquest of Spain and Portugal from the Muslims, and had ambitions even in North Africa. Who were the Normans, after all, but the men of the North, descended from pagan pirates? ....
Micah Mattix, Prufrock, March 15, 2023.

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