For the most part, the people from the Nordic region were peaceful farmers. But there were a few who were far more brutal. Despite being a minority, Vikings have come to represent life in Scandinavia during the 8th through 11th centuries. Vikings earned their reputation by carrying out vicious raids anywhere their boats could take them. Here are some of the ways the Vikings were able to strike fear in their enemies, earning them the reputation of history’s original badass biker gang.
You can’t talk Vikings without talking about “the blood eagle”. The blood eagle was a twisted combination of execution and artistic expression preformed by the Vikings to let folks know who had done the dirty work.
Victims were laid down on their stomachs. Then their ribs were severed from the vertebrae with an extremely sharp knife (mind you, this is all while they were still alive). The broken ribs were folded out so they looked like spread-out feathers. The lungs were then pulled through the hole and placed on the side of the body to represent the wings.
According to Viking legend, the warlord Ragnar Lodbrok was killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes.
Vikings enjoyed reenacting this event on their enemies. One variation was to throw your victim into water pits filled with poisonous water snakes. So drowning and death by snakes.
Berserkers were soldiers possessed by magic that caused them to work themselves into a blood thirsty frenzy. They believed that under this magical control that they were invincible. Because of this invincibility, they usually opted for straightforward charges at the enemy instead of well-planned battle tactics. Despite this, berserkers were very effective in combat, striking fear into their enemies. Most forces would retreat at the sight of a berserker army.
Erik the Red
Erik the Red is probably the most notable Viking in history, mostly because he enjoyed being so damn brutal. In fact, it was his enjoyment of his work that lead to the discovery of Greenland. While in Iceland, this temperamental fellow got himself in so much trouble that he was placed in exile. It was during his exile that he found Iceland’s neighbor to the north.
Brutality wasn’t just limited to Viking men. Viking women liked to share in the conquest as well! The sister of Leif Erikson and the daughter of Erik the Red, Freydis Eiriksdottir was a conqueror in her own right. As the story goes, a pregnant Freydis, along with a group of Viking warriors were attempting to conquer a village and were having a rough time of it. That’s when Freydis grabbed one of her fallen comrades swords, exposed her breasts, and began thumping the sword against her chest while letting out a war cry. The opposing force ran away at the sight of this. Freydis and her soldiers then took the village and murdered all the children.