Viking Help

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Alan_F
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Viking Help

Postby Alan_F » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:15 am

Some help needed here - am talking to some bloke on armour archive who's claiming (amongst other things) that all of those who went on raids amongst the Northmen were nobles. His info seems to be purely derived from sagas, anyone got any actual historical evidence that says otherwise?


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Hobbitstomper
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Re: Viking Help

Postby Hobbitstomper » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:07 pm

It probably depends what you call nobility. The sagas individually name small numbers of high ranking nobility among shiploads of people (dozens to thousands). To pay for the ships needs someone who was pretty rich. I can’t imagine a common slave going viking but there would not be enough high ranking Viking nobility to take over a country (England) on their own.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics. So here are some I made up.

Lets assume a small raid of 10 ships. So a assuming a ship contains 30 nobles (nobs). 10 ships means 300 nobs. However, each family provides on average half a nob to go raiding and the average nob family is 8 strong. 10 ships represents a population of 4800 nobs.

A fighting population normally takes 10-12 times as many farmers to support it. So this would represent 50 000 peasants if the nobs were landowning gentry upwards or five to ten times this (say 400 000) if they were top ranking posh nobs (which I will call knightly-nobs or knobs). There were not 400 000 people in Norway at the time and they managed much bigger armies than 300 people in their raids.

So not all Vikings can be knobs, but I would expect a large minority of them were.



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Re: Viking Help

Postby Cena » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:57 pm

These are only my thoughts so feel free to say...rubbish ;)

If I was organising a raiding party I would be very selective in who I took, no ballast. The ship I am using would be worth a lot of cash in itself and there would be a fair amount of funding involved in the venture in one way or another. Someone would be expecting results so I would only take useful bodies with me. People with status and money would also have their own equipment and would be trained and motivated to perform well and fight there fore a positive result is more likely.

I am not saying they would all be nobs but I would not be in a hurry to take any more support in the way of the working peasantry than was absolutly neccesery.

Once I had subdued a local populace then that would be when I would take over all the supporting players and build a community. After all if you have your warriors kill off anyone who will fight you, you can then use the local low born to cook your dinner and service your needs while nicking their carefully stashed food and shiny stuff.......

Ermmm how does that sound ? bit simplistic but you catch my drift. :wink:



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Viking Help

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:19 am

Many ships were run on a "co-operative" basis with all the raiders families putting in a share to build and equip the ship. Then, at the end of the expedition, the profits were divided up equally between those who had put in the original stake money. Anyone who did not return from the trip, their families were given their share of the spoils. This meant that, given enough willing families, even relatively poor farmers good get a stake in an expidition to try to increase their income/food resourses. "Viking" raiding was originated to tidy up unwanted (i.e. underguarded) food stocks from other farmers along the coast - the "Strandhog" - and the great explosion in raiding during the 8th - 11th centuries is mearly a continuation of this.

Boatloads of "nobs" are unlikely until you get semi-organised armies out in search of colonies/danegeld.


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Alan_F
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Re: Viking Help

Postby Alan_F » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:34 am

Thanks for the help, the guy in question seems to have retreated from his original statement now.


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Hobbitstomper
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Re: Viking Help

Postby Hobbitstomper » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:26 pm

"The Viking Art of War" by Paddy Griffith has a whole chapter on the composition of Viking armies. Don't know how good it is.




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