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UNIT 10: Connections Across Water

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VIDEO SEGMENT: The Vikings

When the Roman Empire declined, trade in Europe deteriorated. This segment explores the Norsemen of Scandinavia — also known as the Vikings — and how they took advantage of Rome's decline to establish themselves as important traders and raiders in the east, south, and west.

Viking expansion most likely occurred as a result of adverse climate trends or overpopulation. Whatever the reason, by the ninth century they had begun to leave Scandinavia in narrow, open ships that could travel well on the open ocean and on rivers. With these ships, Vikings sailed along the rivers of Russia all the way to the Black Sea and Constantinople. They also brought Persian silver to the Carolingian Empire and exchanged it for local products, thereby linking Europe to Islamic trading networks.

In addition to their roles as traders, Vikings also established a fearsome reputation as raiders, attacking major cities such as London and Paris, as well as many smaller cities. Finally, Vikings used their seafaring skills to establish colonies in Europe, in addition to very distant Greenland and Newfoundland. Overall, the water-based skills of the Vikings allowed them to gain tremendous influence in Europe and beyond.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous, ILLUSTRATION OF A VIKING TRADING SHIP LEAVING NORWAY FOR AN EXPEDITION (1901-1933). Image donated by Corbis - Bettmann.

Anonymous, SILVER JEWELRY (VIKING) (800-1200 CE). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.


Anonymous, PICTURE STONE; DETAIL OF SHIP (800-1200 C.E.). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk.

Hot Pepper Studios, created for Bridging World History, NORSEMAN SETTLEMENTS 9TH CENTURY C.E. (2004). Courtesy of Oregon Public Broadcasting.



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