Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques by William R. Short
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vikings as they were called were considered among the most fierce of seaborne raiders, known for their ferocity, plundering and taking captives. This group of Scandiavians, Germans etc occupied most of Northern Europe, Scandinavian Lands and the North Atlantic. In reality they were not called Vikings as Viking was more of a raid or an action. The people we call Vikings or raiders were not any more savage then raiders of that time. The so called Vikings got a bad rep because they were Pagan and held frast to the old ways.
Most of these Teutonic people were in fact farmers. There were also trade men among them. They saw the raid as a way of getting rich and acquiring more goods. They did not do it to conquer land or for any love of fighting. Their life was very militaristic an they were always armed in case of attack which could happen at any moment.
The book does a thorough job of analyzing the weapons available to the Vikings. Weapons construction is method along with some potential uses for the weapon and application on the battlefield. The Viking age ended in 1066 ad when most of them converted to Christianity and other Europeans were able to build strong armies to defend themselves. The Vikings did not leave behind any written example of their fighting techniques so historians are doing their best to piece it together. Any fighting techniques that have been culled were derived from medieval fighting manuals and Viking Legends from Iceland. The fighting manuals wee meant to serve as memory aids to those already trained which made piecing the techniques together all the more difficult. It is speculative at best. The last part of the book gives demonstrations of some fighting techniques that are filled out with instruction and plenty of photos. But do not try these at home.
Viking weapon and war paraphernalia included helmets, axes, swords, shields, saxes (short swords) spears, bow and arrow and chain mail. Archery was used occasionally in war but as Viking men were buried with their weapon only two graves has arrow head. It is believed that archery was used primarily for hunting. Almost every Viking man had an axe. Any one could get an axe. Axes could be used for wood cutting or combat. Axes served well as long range weapons and hooks that could cut and grapple. Chain mail was extremely expensive so not too many Vikings had it. Large bars of iron were shaved town to spaghetti strands and then made into rings. This took the work of an excellent craftsman. Swords were most valuable and were made by twisting 3 iron bars together and then smelting and hammering them. The tips and cutting edge but be over layered with steal. Swords could literally last for generations. The scabbards had an inner lining of wool which was overlade with wood and maybe another layer of wool topped of by wood or metal outer lining. A sword with out a scabbard was considered useless and dangerous without a sword.
If medieval weapons and Viking History is your things then this is a book you would want to check out.
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