Norsemen are a group of
Germanic people who inhabited
spoke what is now called the
Old Norse language between c. 800 AD and
c. 1300 AD. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the
Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic
languages of Scandinavia.
Norseman means "man from the North" and applied primarily to Old
Norse-speaking tribes living in southern and central Scandinavia. In
history, "Norse" or "Norseman" could be any person from Scandinavia,
even though Norway,
Sweden were different sets of people
by the Middle Ages.
The Norse Scandinavians established states and settlements in England,
Scotland, Iceland, Wales, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Russia, Belarus,
Greenland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland and Canada as well as southern Italy.
1 Connection with Normandy
2 Other names
3 Modern Scandinavian usage
4 See also
6 External links
Connection with Normandy
Old Frankish word Nortmann "Northman" was Latinised as Normanni
and then entered
Old French as Normands, whence the name of the
Normans and of Normandy, which was settled by
Norsemen in the 10th
In the early
Medieval period, as today,
Vikings was a common term for
attacking Norsemen, especially in connection with raids and monastic
Norsemen in the British Isles. The Norse were also known
as Ascomanni, ashmen, by the Germans, Lochlanach (Norse) by the
Gaels and Dene (Danes) by the Anglo-Saxons.
The Gaelic terms Finn-Gall (Norwegian
Viking or Norwegian), Dubh-Gall
Viking or Danish) and Gall Goidel (foreign Gaelic) were used
for the people of Norse descent in
Ireland and Scotland, who
assimilated into the Gaelic culture. Dubliners called them Ostmen,
or East-people, and the name Oxmanstown (an area in central Dublin;
the name is still current) comes from one of their settlements; they
were also known as Lochlannaigh, or Lake-people.
In the 8th century the inrush of the
Vikings in force began to be felt
all over Pictland. These
Vikings were pagans and savages of the most
unrestrained and pitiless type. They were composed of Finn-Gall or
Norwegians, and of Dubh-Gall or Danes. The latter were a mixed breed,
with a Hunnish strain in them.
— Archibald Black Scott, The Pictish Nation, its People & its
However, British conceptions of the Vikings' origins were not quite
correct. Those who plundered Britain lived in what is today Denmark,
Scania, the western coast of
Norway (up to almost the 70th
parallel) and along the Swedish Baltic coast up to around the 60th
latitude and Lake Mälaren. They also came from the island of Gotland,
Sweden. The border between the
Norsemen and more southerly Germanic
tribes, the Danevirke, today is located about 50 kilometres
(31 mi) south of the Danish-German border. The southernmost
Vikings lived no further north than Newcastle upon Tyne, and
travelled to Britain more from the east than from the north.
The northern part of the
Scandinavian Peninsula (with the exception of
the Norwegian coast) was almost unpopulated by the Norse, because this
ecology was inhabited by the Sami, the native people of northern
Sweden and large areas of Norway, Finland, and the
Kola Peninsula in
The Slavs, the
Arabs and the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or
Rhōs, probably derived from various uses of rōþs-, i.e. "related to
rowing", or from the area of
Roslagen in east-central Sweden, where
most of the
Vikings who visited the Slavic lands originated.
Archaeologists and historians of today believe that these Scandinavian
settlements in the Slavic lands formed the names of the countries of
Russia and Belarus.
Slavs and the Byzantines also called them Varangians (ON:
Væringjar, meaning "sworn men"), and the Scandinavian bodyguards of
the Byzantine emperors were known as the
Modern Scandinavian usage
Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn (northern men), was
used correspondingly to the modern English name Norsemen, referring to
Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, Faroe Islanders, Icelanders, etc.
The modern Scandinavian languages have a common word for Norsemen: the
word nordbo, (Sw.: nordborna, Da.: nordboerne, No.: nordboerne or
nordbuane in the definite plural) is used for both ancient and modern
people living in the
Nordic countries and speaking one of the
Scandinavian Germanic languages.
The word Vikings: Vikinger in Danish and Norwegian Bokmål, and
Vikingar in Swedish and Norwegian Nynorsk is not used as a word for
Norsemen by natives, as "Viking" is the name for a specific
activity/occupation (a "raid"), and not a demographic group. The
Vikings were simply people (of any ethnicity, or origin) partaking in
the raid (known as "going viking").
On occasions Finland is also mentioned as a "Scandinavian
Finnish language is not Germanic or even
Indo-European, but Finland was for around six centuries a part of
Sweden (late 12th century to 1809), and around 6% of the Finnish
population still use Swedish as their first language. In the Åland
islands Swedish is by far the dominant language, seeing as how the
population there are ethnic
Swedes but belonging administratively to
Finland since 1917. Elsewhere in Finland the share of Swedish-speaking
people has been dropping ever since Finland gained independence in
1917, after the Russian Revolution. Iceland,
Greenland, and the
Faroe Islands are also geographically separate from
the Scandinavian peninsula. The term
Nordic countries is therefore
used to encompass the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland, the
Faroes and Finland.
Ancient Germanic culture portal
Danes (Germanic tribe)
Swedes (Germanic tribe)
^ Linden, Eugene (December 2004). "The Vikings: A Memorable Visit to
America". Smithsonian Magazine.
^ Pringle, Heather (October 19, 2012). "Evidence of
Found in Canada". National Geographic News.
^ Michael Lerche Nielsen, Review of Rune Palm, Vikingarnas språk,
750–1100, Historisk Tidskrift 126.3 (2006) 584–86 (pdf pp.
10–11) (in Swedish)
^ Louis John Paetow, A Guide to the Study of
Medieval History for
Students, Teachers, and Libraries, Berkeley: University of California,
1917, OCLC 185267056, p. 150, citing Léopold Delisle,
Littérature latine et histoire du moyen âge, Paris: Leroux, 1890,
OCLC 490034651, p. 17.
Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen 2.29.
^ Richards, Julian D. (8 September 2005). Vikings : A Very Short
Introduction. UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 15–16.
ISBN 9780191517396. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
^ Baldour, John Alexander; Mackenzie, William Mackay (1910). The Book
of Arran. Arran society of Glasgow. p. 11.
^ Scott, Archibald Black (1918). The Pictish Nation, its People &
its Church. Edinburgh/London: T. N. Foulis. p. 408.
^ "Primary History, Vikings: Who were the Vikings". BBC. Retrieved 19
January 2017. The name 'Viking' comes from a language called 'Old
Norse' and means 'a pirate raid'. People who went off raiding in ships
were said to be 'going Viking'.
^ "Scandinavia". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
^ "About Nordic co-operation". Nordic Council of Ministers &
Nordic Council. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved
25 March 2014. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway,
Sweden and the Faroe
Åland work together in the official Nordic
HowStuffWorks.com – Norsemen
Old Norse language
Homelands and colonies
North Sea Empire
Tactics and warfare
Raid on Seville
Sack of Paris
Siege of Paris
Cnut the Great's Invasion of England
Raids in the Rhineland
Arms and armour
Erik the Red