The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings
A timeline and list of characters, plus more maps, would have helped me. This is a history book. It is not a novel so I will tell a bit more of the "story" than usual. Who pulled the Viking trigger? Vikings killed lots of people but were they the merely the Guns. Well thats a bit obtuse. This is a history book about the Vikings based on more recent findings. In Viking history books the major question that is always raised but never plausibly answered, in the past, is "Why did the vikings start suddenly in AD to raid This is a history book.
In Viking history books the major question that is always raised but never plausibly answered, in the past, is "Why did the vikings start suddenly in AD to raid the European coast. This book proposes a new train of logic. The traditional arch villain, the Catholic church, put pressure on the christian kings to convert their barbarian minions. Charlemagne wanted to have the church as an ally as he took over surrounding lands so he forcibly converted every people he conquered. The Saxons of what is now the Netherlands, Denmark and Northwest Germany were among his most brutal conquests.
Charlemagne forcibly baptized some thousands I think then immediately beheaded them. Think of it as Charlemagne's "solution to the barbarian problem'. The Saxons were trading partners of the vikings. As such they vikings learned of the Christian approach to assimilation. Many Saxons became refugees in Viking lands. Communications among the widely spread out scandinavian lands was greater than normal for the time because of trading ships. News travels fast and wide to Norway, Sweden and of course their neigbors the Danes. The language of the scandinavians was more or less the same and very close to the west Saxons.
There is now evidence that the Wends They didn't become Vikings until they started raiding Christian Churches were peaceful traders with their Anglo saxon cousins in Britain for more than years previously. The 'Vikings' were no strangers to the Britons but the were new to the increasingly agressive Latin church blossoming in Britain forcibly converting barbarians there too.
The scene was set by 30 years of forcible conversions. Lindesfarne the first reported viking attack in may have been the result of a trading mission gone wrong further south when overly fanatic priests reacted to the hammer worshipping barbarians trading in christian parishes. Like all History books.. Jun 23, John Carter McKnight rated it really liked it. An excellent history of a difficult subject, one where most of the sources are either poets or adversaries. Ferguson's historiography is on display: I greatly prefer the breadth of his coverage of the entire Viking phenomenon, from Kiev to Vinland, to more provincial accounts, which tend to focus on the English experience.
As this does involve some "jumping An excellent history of a difficult subject, one where most of the sources are either poets or adversaries.
As this does involve some "jumping around," temporally and geographically, it may be disorienting to some. Ferguson's overarching thesis is that the Viking phenomenon was driven less by population and climate pressures than by a reaction against Christian cultural imperialism after the forced conversions of Charlemagne. It's not the only possible, or by any means sole, explanation, but it makes this book the one I'd been looking for, to provide an explanation of why the Norse converted to a Christianity so alien to their values. The account of the peaceful, elective conversion of the Icelanders in order to maintain social unity is contrasted with the endless back-and-forth butchery of England in particular.
I found this a very satisfying book in its scope, transparency of methods, and clarity of thesis. It's not a simple or rip-roaring narrative, for which some of the other reviews here have criticized it: Dec 09, Alex Telander rated it really liked it Shelves: Thankfully, there is The Vikings: Ferguson puts all the misconceived and incorrect notions of Vikings to rest, launching into a comprehensive history of these northern peoples and what affect they had on Europe from the eighth centuries on through the first millennium.
Ferguson pulls from many sources, and presents not just the viewpoint of the Vikings and their achievements, but also short histories on the northern British Isles, Charlemagne, and the various kingdoms of the European continent, showing how greatly affected they were by the Viking attacks and takeovers. A History will clear away the image of a horn-helmeted brute and replace it with a developed, complex culture that was intelligent and creative, and had reasons for the attacks against the various peoples of Europe.
For more book reviews and exclusive author interviews, go to BookBanter. Nov 06, Ryan Mishap rated it liked it Shelves: I will give a good review lest the author erect a "shame-pole" taunting my lack of manliness or perhaps become enraged enough to give me the "blood-eagle.
He separates the chapters by the areas the Viking raiders engaged. While this perspective split keeps us geographically clear, it makes a linear narrative almost impossibl I will give a good review lest the author erect a "shame-pole" taunting my lack of manliness or perhaps become enraged enough to give me the "blood-eagle.
While this perspective split keeps us geographically clear, it makes a linear narrative almost impossible--so much so that I wish each page had a Time Read-out along with the page number you are in the year and Harald Bluetooth has just Nonetheless, this was a fascinating and informative look at Northern Heathendom and just how extensive the Vikings foray were--and how much they shaped the coming Middle Ages of Europe, England and Ireland, and Russia indeed, the very term comes from Swedish area Vikings, the Rus.
Jan 17, Elizabeth marked it as to-read Shelves: Even non-fiction books need some sort of coherent narrative or sense of a plot taking you from the beginning to the end of the story being related. Ferguson's main problem is that he never manages to nail down that narrative thread, and without it the book is more an accumulation of loosely related facts and badly constructed at that. In addition, Ferguson seems to make an already difficult and confusing group of subjects unnecessarily more so through some misguided decisions about how to handle Even non-fiction books need some sort of coherent narrative or sense of a plot taking you from the beginning to the end of the story being related.
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In addition, Ferguson seems to make an already difficult and confusing group of subjects unnecessarily more so through some misguided decisions about how to handle the multiplicity of names and bilingual naming conventions. He will introduce an individual, give the nickname or translated version of the name, and then refer to that individual in any combination of those options without any consistency until he's finished with them.
Just bad editorial and authorial decision making there. Sep 16, Mark rated it liked it Shelves: Ferguson's theory is that the Viking Age was less about expansion and "lebensraum" than a culture war between the Odin-ists and the Jesus-ists. I must say, there's ample evidence than can be read either way, the good thing is that he puts it all together in one book like this, which makes for interesting reading, If only you can keep track of the different Olavs, Olofs, Sigurds, Sitgards, Eriks and Leifs, Haakons and Haralds and Harolds! But to say, yes, he does have a point. So do lots of other Ferguson's theory is that the Viking Age was less about expansion and "lebensraum" than a culture war between the Odin-ists and the Jesus-ists.
So do lots of other people on the other side of his issue. He leaves us go at saying it is "not" a Viking episode. But for that, he really leaves the Normans short changed. They weren't "real" Vikings , to him, for they settled down and weren't out "viking" at the time. Well, to each their own. It only made me partially Snorri. Unfortunately we know very little about the Viking Age. Robert Ferguson explains why and goes the extra mile to present us with what we do know and what we can somewhat assume.
He draws on numerous literary sources as well as advanced archeological methods and what we do find is impressive, definitely not the monolithic impression i personally had before starting this book. Still, no matter the intention, we know very little and for a casual history reader like myself, this is a bitch to read. U Unfortunately we know very little about the Viking Age. Unfamiliarity with contemporary linguistics and geography, and a messy narrative makes for frustrating reading. I felt lost, and often.
But overall, i 'm glad i read this, and i recommend it but i guess one will be better served if already acquainted with the subject. Aug 07, Elizabeth rated it it was ok. Ferguson is very clearly Christian and he is unable to look at things objectively because of this. In the space of a page he tells us that the destruction of 'heathendom' in Iceland was a good thing and then because Christianity does not allow for the more egalitarian political system of the allthing Iceland breaks out in civil war over who should be the new supreme ruler and it gets so bad that the Icelanders give themselves up to Norway.
Sounds totally worth it. It really impedes the reading o Ferguson is very clearly Christian and he is unable to look at things objectively because of this. It really impedes the reading of the book. He shouldn't be making judgement calls like that at all if we are supposed to take this book seriously. Oct 13, Court Hansen rated it liked it. I made the mistake of listening to the audiobook version of this instead of just reading it, and as a result, I was left confused every now and then since there are so many unfamiliar names.
For the parts I was able to keep track of, this was a great introduction to Scandinavian history, and the chapters about the founding of Iceland were particularly interesting. Jun 03, Alex rated it really liked it. Solid overview of Viking history and its transformation from bands of raiders to established Christian kingdoms. Covers a lot of ground - and does an admirable job mixing in known history, Icelandic sagas and archaeological evidence to tell the story. Apr 04, David Greco rated it did not like it.
I tried but just couldn't make it through this.
The Hammer and the Cross
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