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Norsemen,name given to the Scandinavian VikingsVikings,
Scandinavian warriors who raided the coasts of Europe and the British Isles from the 9th cent. to the 11th cent. In their language, the word "viking" originally meant a journey, as for trading or raiding; it was not until the 19th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. who raided and settled on the coasts of the European continent in the 9th and 10th cent. They are also referred to as Northmen or Normans. Recent research indicates that Norse raids of Western Europe may have been known in the early Middle Ages. Among the causes of the great influx (9th cent.) of Norsemen to the coasts of NW Germany, the Low Countries, France, and Spain were lust for wealth and power, search for adventure, and the attempt of King Harold IHarold I
or Harold Fairhair,
Norse Harald Haarfager, c.850–c.933, first king of Norway, son of Halfdan the Black, king of Vestfold (SE Norway). After succeeding his father, Harold initiated a series of battles against the other petty kings, climaxed by a
..... Click the link for more information. of Norway to subjugate the independent nobles of his land, thereby forcing them to look to foreign conquests. The impact of the Norse invasions was particularly lasting in N France. The invaders, whose major raids began c.843, sailed up the French rivers, particularly the Seine, and repeatedly attacked, looted, and burned such cities as Rouen and Paris. Their actions threatened to plunge France back into the barbarism from which it was just emerging. The Norsemen gradually established settlements, generally at the river mouths; thus they constantly threatened to renew their river raids, and they ruined French commerce and navigation. In 911, RolloRollo
, c.860–c.932, first duke of Normandy. As leader of the Norman pirates settled at the mouth of the Seine, he attacked (910) Paris and Chartres.
..... Click the link for more information. , one of their leaders, was invested by King Charles IIICharles III
(Charles the Simple), 879–929, French king (893–923), son of King Louis II (Louis the Stammerer). As a child he was excluded from the succession at the death (884) of his half-brother Carloman and at the deposition (887) of King Charles III (Charles the
..... Click the link for more information. (Charles the Simple) with the duchy of NormandyNormandy
, Fr. Normandie , region and former province, NW France, bordering on the English Channel. It now includes five departments—Manche, Calvados, Eure, Seine-Maritime, and Orne. Normandy is a region of flat farmland, forests, and gentle hills.
..... Click the link for more information. , originally the territory around Rouen. Rollo's successors considerably expanded their territory and were only nominal vassals of the French kings. The Norsemen accepted Christianity, adopted French law and speech, and continued in history under the name of NormansNormans,
designation for the Northmen, or Norsemen, who conquered Normandy in the 10th cent. and adopted Christianity and the customs and language of France. Abandoning piracy and raiding, they adopted regular commerce and gave much impetus to European trade.
..... Click the link for more information. . The name of Normandy itself and several Norman place names are survivals of the Norse period. The Norsemen did not differ essentially from the other Vikings, who were known as Danes in EnglandEngland,
the largest and most populous portion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2011 pop. 53,012,456), 50,334 sq mi (130,365 sq km). It is bounded by Wales and the Irish Sea on the west and Scotland on the north.
..... Click the link for more information. and as VarangiansVarangians
, name given by Slavs and Byzantine Greeks to Scandinavians who began to raid the eastern shores of the Baltic and penetrate Eastern Europe by the 9th cent. Their leader, Rurik, established himself at Novgorod in 862, thus laying the traditional foundation for Kievan
..... Click the link for more information. in Russia.
See T. D. Kendrick, A History of the Vikings (1930, repr. 1968); E. C. Oxenstierna, The Norsemen (tr. 1965) and The World of the Norsemen (tr. 1968).