Vikings are Scandinavian navigators from the early Middle Ages. The vast majority of the Vikings were pagans.
This motley group of warriors, merchants and travelers was headed by a leader. The very same Old Norse word "Viking" is not tied to any specific locality, denoting only a person who goes to sea. But not all of them are reliable.
All Vikings were dirty and wild. This is how they are portrayed by numerous feature films and cartoons. In fact, these men and women were quite attentive to their appearance. During the excavations in the Viking settlements, quite a few razors, tweezers and combs were found. Archaeologists even found the remains of soap there, which the soldiers themselves cooked. In England, it is generally accepted to consider the Vikings to be clean, because they washed once a week, on Saturdays. In Scandinavian languages, the word Saturday literally means bath day. True, today the descendants of the Vikings do not even think about the origin of that word.
All Vikings were tall and blond. In the films, the Vikings appear before the audience as tall, strong men with blond hair. But when analyzing historical records, and on the basis of excavations, it was found that the average height of these soldiers was about 170 centimeters. But this is not much, even for that time. The picture is more complicated with blond hair. The Vikings really considered them the ideal option, but not all of them had this hair color. To somehow correct this misunderstanding, the warriors used a special soap with a whitening effect. It is worth noting that the Vikings were quite hospitable, and there were many foreigners among them. It is known that their ranks included not only Spaniards, Italians, French and Portuguese, but even Russians. It is clear that all of them could not be blonde.
Skulls served as drinking bowls for the Vikings. This legend was born from Ole Worm's "Reuner seu Danica literatura antiquissima" in 1636. There he wrote that Danish warriors drink from curved branches of skulls. Apparently they meant horns. But upon further translation into Latin, only the word skull (skulls) remained. This was the basis for this myth. And during the excavations, not a single goblet made of a skull was found.
Vikings lived in Scandinavia. The Vikings did appear in Scandinavia, but over time they settled all over the world. They reached North Africa, Russia and even North America. Why this expansion took place is explained by several theories. The most common is due to the fact that gradually in Scandinavia land resources were depleted, and the population increased. So the Vikings had to look for new places to live. It is worth considering the fact that after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, trade between Western Europe and Asia deteriorated significantly. The Vikings were forced to look for new, richer places.
The Vikings had primitive and crude weapons. Another feature of the Vikings in the movies is their crude weapons - clubs and axes. Warriors are often depicted without any weapons at all. But the Vikings were good gunsmiths. In doing so, they used the composite forging technology. It was this one that was used in the manufacture of the famous Damascus blades. As a result, the Viking weapons were quite sturdy and sharp. In the folklore of warriors there is a legend according to which a sword could be tested by dropping it into a stream. A hair descended through the water, if the blade cut it, then the weapon could be considered sharp enough.
Everyone hated the Vikings. Almost all previous misconceptions have generated this. It is believed that the Vikings were everywhere unwelcome guests and outcasts, everyone hated them. In fact, they hated them no more than any foreign nation, but for some reason they are silent about respect for the Vikings. The French king Charles II, known as Charles the Simple, even donated land to the Vikings in what is now Normandy. And the daughter of the monarch was even given for Rollo, one of the leaders of the warriors. These "tamed" Vikings subsequently defended France more than once from the raids of their other tribesmen. And in Constantinople, the Vikings were respected for their courage and strength. They say that the Byzantine emperors even had a special Varangian guard. It consisted of Swedish Vikings.
The Vikings were cruel and bloodthirsty. Indeed, the Viking attacks looked bloody and violent. But this is exactly as long as you do not remember about other soldiers. Then the battles were simply not fought otherwise. Everyone was cruel and bloodthirsty - the British, the French, the Spaniards ... King Charles the Great of France, who lived in the same era as the Vikings, almost completely exterminated the Avar tribe. This ancient people lived for a long time on the Volga and on the coast of the Caspian Sea. At Verdun, the king ordered the heads of 5 thousand inhabitants of Saxony to be cut off. So the Vikings did not particularly stand out in their cruelty. But they had their own peculiarity. The Vikings completely destroyed everything that was associated with religions alien to them. Temples and monasteries were destroyed, ministers were destroyed. This behavior frightened those around them very much, so seeing the masts of Viking ships on the horizon, they tried to escape without offering resistance. People tried to justify this behavior by the cruelty of the Vikings.
The Vikings did nothing but rob their neighbors. There were not so many warriors among the Vikings. Most of the people were engaged in handicrafts, agriculture and animal husbandry. Going out with expeditions to the sea was a pleasant addition to income, but this behavior was then common to all, even civilized countries. Most of the Vikings lived their whole lives in peace in the lands now called Iceland and Greenland. These people were considered experienced traders who did business with representatives of other countries and peoples.
All Vikings wore horned helmets. Often even women are depicted wearing such helmets. Meanwhile, this is the biggest misconception about the Vikings. Today, no evidence has been found, either in excavations or in documents, that these people actually wore horned helmets. All the headdresses found do not have horns. Moreover, their very design does not provide for such excesses. This misconception is most likely due to the ancient Christians. They considered the Vikings to be accomplices of the devil, which means they had to wear horns on their helmet to intimidate. Perhaps the fact that the Norse god Thor had wings on his helmet played a role. With a certain imagination, they could be mistaken for horns.