X Close

The Viking war on woke They despised pious, hypocritical do-gooders

"Laughing shall I die!” Credit: The Northman/IMBD

"Laughing shall I die!” Credit: The Northman/IMBD


November 3, 2022   6 mins

The eighth day of June in the Year of Our Lord 793 dawned breezy and bright. On the coast of north-eastern England it seemed a day for strolling along the grassy cliffs and drinking in the sea air; for watching the sea-birds high above, and skimming stones across the green-grey waves; for gazing out at the distant horizon, and wondering what lay beyond.

On the island of Lindisfarne, the monks had been up for hours. Some were bent over their desks, copying the exquisitely illustrated Gospels for which their monastery was famous. Others were working in the kitchens, or cleaning in the chapel, or patiently sweeping the long stone corridors. But on such a fine morning, most of the younger men had slipped outside to work in the gardens. Life out here, two miles off the Northumbrian mainland, was often dark and wet and cold, so it was only sensible to make the most of the sunshine.

Lindisfarne, they all knew, was special, a place like no other. There had been a monastery here for more than a century, a sanctuary from the temptations of the sinful world. In recent months, pilgrims had brought reports of strange signs and omens. Some had talked of whirlwinds, and flashes of lightning, and great fiery dragons soaring through the heavens. But on such a morning as this, when all was well with God’s creation, storms and dragons seemed very far away.

And then one of the younger monks stiffened, and pointed, and gave a cry of warning. His fellows came running to see the sails
 and that was the moment everything changed.

What happened that day, as a Viking raiding party rampaged ashore, smashed their way into the church, looted its treasures and carried off shiploads of slaves, has become one of the great milestones in medieval history. The newcomers, wrote one horrified churchman, “poured out the blood of saints around the altar, laid waste to the house of our hope and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God like dung on the streets 
 Behold, the church of St Cuthbert, splattered with the blood of the priests of God and robbed of all its treasures — the most sacred place in Britain, prey for these wicked heathens!”

Today we remember this as the raid that opened the Viking Age, a 300-year orgy of violence and bloodshed, ambition and adventure, exploration, conquest, romance and horror. The gently embellished version above comes from the opening of my book about this period, Fury of the Vikings, written for children encountering history for the first time. It’s the sixth volume in my Adventures in Time series for younger readers, and judging by the feedback from my school visits, by far the most eagerly awaited.

What it is about the Vikings that fascinates us so much? In the last couple of years, we’ve been treated to the film The Northman as well as the TV shows The Last Kingdom and Vikings. One of the biggest hits this Christmas season is certain to be the video game God of War: Ragnarök — and even if you’re completely indifferent to video games, it’s worth noting that the previous Viking-themed God of War sold a staggering 20 million units at almost ÂŁ50 apiece. Another, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, has made more than $1 billion worldwide, more money than all but two of this year’s Hollywood blockbusters. The Vikings, in other words, could scarcely be a bigger draw.

In some ways this might seem a bit of a puzzle, for the Vikings don’t obviously fit into our current cultural moment. Although one or two painfully progressive academics have done their best to reinvent them — open some recent books and you find yourself ploughing through long, earnest paragraphs about their radical attitudes to gender fluidity and hitherto unappreciated enthusiasm for Islamic decoration — the plain fact is that the Vikings were decidedly, outstandingly un-woke.

Indeed, writing my children’s book, I found myself scouring the thesaurus for alternatives to “stabbed”, “smashed”, “crushed” and “splintered”, in a vain attempt to give each episode a different flavour. Severed heads naturally play a central part. “For years to come, Svyatoslav’s gold-plated skull was the chieftain’s favourite wine cup,” reads one random sentence. “The only sound was the drip-drip-drip of blood from the shattered remains of the archbishop’s skull,” reads another. To forestall any talk of the dreaded “sensitivity readers”, I made sure to recite some of these gorier bits to sample audiences and note the reactions. As I’d hoped, the children loved them, except for one little girl who frowned and shook her head. Afterwards she came up to me, still looking very serious. “Not enough beheading,” she said grimly. “More death, please.”

Some people, I know, find all this very unsettling. Visit a Viking exhibition today, and you’re more likely to be lectured about their multicultural trading links and lovely brooch-making than roused by their enthusiasm for ripping people’s eyes out and carrying off thousands of captives. The fact is, though, that violence was at the very heart of the Viking Age, because violence was how they made their all-important silver. And not just violence, by the way, but slavery. Nobody can be sure how many slaves the men of Denmark, Norway and Sweden shipped down the rivers of modern-day Russia and Ukraine to Constantinople and Baghdad between the eighth and eleventh centuries, but the total may well run into the hundreds of thousands. Some historians, such as the University of Uppsala’s Neil Price, talk of the Viking world as a “slave economy”; others have argued that the revival of the entire European economy after the fall of the Western Roman Empire was driven by slavery.

Yet more sensitive readers may be discomfited to learn that children don’t seem to find this a problem at all. Giving talks in primary schools, I’ve often noticed a frankly gleeful look in my listeners’ eyes when I describe terrifyingly tattooed raiders dragging sandal-wearing God-botherers into their longships. And when, a few months ago, I visited the excellent exhibition on the Vikings in the East at Denmark’s Moesgaard Museum, I was struck by the scene at one of the interactive terminals.

The terminal was running a kind of game, inviting children to fill their own Viking longship with a complement of slaves. You could only pack in so many, and you had to choose the captives most likely to fetch a pretty price in the bazaars of the East — a comely young woman here, a strong young man there. Most British or American curators, I imagine, would have a stroke at the very idea. At the very least they’d write an open letter to the Guardian calling for the closure of the museum, the incarceration of its employees and an end to the Tories’ confected culture war. But the kids loved it, openly salivating over the chance to destroy some imaginary villagers’ lives and earn a huge pile of silver dirhams. It was a brilliant way of teaching them how the Viking world worked, although it’s alarming to think that if the slave trade ever does return to the shores of the North Sea, it’ll give the Danes an enormous competitive head start.

What that episode also reminded me, though, is that children don’t like the Vikings despite their bloodthirsty violence. They like the Vikings because of their bloodthirsty violence. For although children can be very sentimental about themselves and about animals, they don’t tend to be sentimental about other people — as anybody who has taken their progeny to an exhibition of medieval torture instruments will tell you. Like the Victorians, we live in an age that romanticises children and seeks to shield them from sights and ideas we consider morally harmful. But embark on a detailed description of some hideous battle, and you’ll soon have your listeners’ eyes shining with delight. “What sort of history do you like best?” I asked one class during a school visit this autumn. “The sort with a lot of fighting,” a little boy said solemnly, to a chorus of approval.

In this respect, are children any different from the rest of us? There’s a reason people watch things like Vikings or The Northman, and it’s not because they’re interested in the rich tradition of Swedish jewellery-making. The Vikings are the last great example of a non-Christian European people to whom turning the other cheek and loving your neighbour sounded like utter gibberish. Their philosophy was almost unrelentingly pessimistic, shot through with an inevitable sense of doom and decline. They saw the world as a dark, cold, cruel place: a place of terrible savagery and dreadful misfortune, where trust was at a premium and betrayal and disaster were never far away, rather like the House of Commons.

Yet they were not nihilists. They thought there was tremendous merit in standing your ground and fighting your corner, sword in hand and a smile on your lips. In one of the most enduring Scandinavian tales, the epic of Ragnar Lodbrok — which inspired the series Vikings — our hero ends up in the Northumbrian king’s snake-pit, the serpents’ venom coursing through his veins. But instead of moaning and groaning about his mental health, Ragnar raises his voice in one last, defiant song. “I am ready to die,” he roars. “The servants of Odin are calling me home. With the gods by my side I shall drink my ale. My days are done; my life is over. Laughing shall I die!” And then he does die. But what a way to bow out!

So perhaps I was wrong, and the Vikings are the perfect fit for our current moment. They, like us, lived in an intensely dangerous, competitive world, where rival warlords struggled for resources. They, like many of us, shook their heads with disbelief at the naïve optimism of their American (or rather, Christian) neighbours, since the Northmen knew life ended only in unspeakable disaster. And they, like us, knew that winter was coming: in their case, the Fimbulwinter, the terrible wolf-winter foreseen by the gods, which would bring the battle of Ragnarök and the end of the world.

They loved tattoos, fancy fashions and stupid haircuts; they liked drinking, having sex and smashing people’s faces in. And the people they really, really hated were pious, hypocritical do-gooders who were always telling them to behave themselves. So they weren’t so different from us, after all.

Dominic Sandbrook’s book Adventures in Time: Fury of the Vikings (Particular Books) is published today.


Dominic Sandbrook is an author, historian and UnHerd columnist. His latest book is: Who Dares Wins: Britain, 1979-1982

dcsandbrook

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

135 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Simon James
Simon James
1 year ago

This omits the perhaps inconvenient truth that in England at least they eventually settled down, became Christian in many cases, got married to locals, started working on the family farm and ended up to all intents and purposes English. Boring perhaps but apparently happy.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

In other words most became WOKE, a necessary anti- chamber for ultimate decadence?
Sweden for example.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
1 year ago

Not clear why this has five downvotes. Why don’t the downvoters state what their problem is. Oh…..

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

I don’t see the connection between Christianity and being woke.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I don’t think there is a connection but if you are anti-Christian and you want to attract others to your view, maybe you assume the connection with wokeness. This assumed connection works the other way as well – hence the downvotes.
If your hero was, say, Winston Churchill because he got things done, he must have been a Viking – and you as well. If your hero was a wimp but was a very, very nice person, he and you must be wokes.
I think we need something like the Beaufort wind scale. We could then take all politicians (and Christians) and grade them on a 1-10 basis. 1 would be a super-Viking and 10 a super-woke.
Boris Johnson?

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

How can a woke be super?

Dave Sheehan
Dave Sheehan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

You make some good points, but I don’t see the Woke as anything “nice”. After my friend got murdered as a cop in the line of duty, the Woke showed up and they screamed at his mother “I hope all cops burn in hell!”. Don’t fall for their ‘nice’ gaslighting. They’re sadistic, vicious scum.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Sheehan

Not all of them. You are talking about an unpleasant fanatic minority, who by the way exist on both sides of the political spectrum (though I’ve argued it isn’t really a one-dimensional spectrum). Are the majority of the American electorate, having voted for Joe Biden, woke? If you describe anyone you disagree with as ‘sadistic vicious scum’ you are dehumanising them, contributing to.polarisation and ultimately the breakdown of your own society.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Like most one dimensional linear scales in human affairs and politics, it would be too simplistic. Was Liz Truss right wing? Well she was arguably on economics, but not on immigration policy! So Left and Right, the essentialist meanings of are for ever being disputed on this forum, are simplistic labels to say the least. We need more dimensions.

Simon James
Simon James
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

In Tom Holland’s book Dominion he argues that the relationship is pretty linear and straightforward. Well worth a read, can’t do it justice here.

Adam McIntyre
Adam McIntyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

Agree, Holland is basically describing “secular Christianity,” or Christian values without a God. This is what Western egalitarianism basically is — and the “woke” movement is absolutely a result.

Bruce Lewis
Bruce Lewis
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

You can be “woke” and have a very definite idea of the Christian God. The current pope of the Roman Catholic Church is an example. Not all “Christians” are Republicans.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Most modern secular values are ultimately derived from Christian values. Charity becomes the welfare state. Humility is transformed into things like diversity and tolerance. Turning the other cheek is pacifism and opposition to war. Mercy is rehabilitating criminals, opposing the death penalty, etc. I could easily go on, but most of secularism is just Christianity without God and reconfigured to suit the needs of today’s ruling class, who find the values useful but the notion of a higher authority than themselves unhelpful.

Adam McIntyre
Adam McIntyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Agree, with the caveat that without that “higher authority” — meaning, without any coherent philosophy or belief system, modern egalitarianism is nihilistic and, from a social evolution perspective, completely dysgenic.
Christianity/egalitarianism is a perfect example of a once-eugenic cultural trait that, in a changed world (global, technological) has become suddenly dysgenic. It should be discarded, but unfortunately our philosophers have failed us, and no coherent belief system has yet arisen to replace it.
To see Christianity’s failures in the modern world, consider that increasing obsession with equality means the end of empire, the acceptance of multiculturalism and globalism and mass migration, the rapid and exogenous technological development of the Third World leading to overpopulation in Africa and Asia, acceptance of degenerate social movements and behaviors, etc. All of this weakens the race (a biological-cultural construct.) If we do not extirpate egalitarianism quickly, the races not afflicted with the attendant uncertainty and nihilism will replace us: the non-egalitarian Muslims, the atheist Chinese, etc.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

What coherent belief system would you imagine should replace Christianity? Some Nietzsche-like will to power philosophy, something like Chinese collectivism, objectivism like Ayn Rand. It seems a lot of attempts have been made to replace Christianity and none have really succeeded. Some of the attempts to replace Christianity (Nazism, Communism) have caused a great deal of suffering and loss of life. Maybe that should tell us something.

Bruce Lewis
Bruce Lewis
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Institutionalized Christianity also “caused a great deal of suffering and loss of life” (ever heard of the Thirty Years War?)–just not recently.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Lewis

I think that’s true of institutionalized anything. I believe when humans think and act collectively, as a group, the results are usually bad. I think people are at their best when they act as individuals and respect one another as individuals, and the best way I’ve heard that stated is treat your neighbor as you would have him treat you.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

So is voluntary neighborliness a sort of collective-minded individuality? Nihilistic self-indulgence, for example, is quite individualistic Hospitals and schools are not built with singlehanded efforts.
So do we need individual or collective efforts? The obvious answer: Yes, we do. Any attempt to place virtue or right-mindedness squarely in either the individual or collective camp quickly becomes too reductive or riddled with exceptions to mean much. However, I’d contend that Western societies face little danger of overly communal or even unselfish prevailing attitudes these days.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Lewis

That was more a reaction of German princes against a big landowner, the Church, to expropriate its wealth. Quite similar to the ransacking of temples by Julius Caesar to finance his plundering campaigns.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

If you want to be cynical – people great and small did actually believe in the Catholic and Protestant causes. But yes, the adoption of Lutheranism gave princes the chance and excuse to expropriate the huge lands of the medieval church and keep it themselves or allocate it to their supporters.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Unfortunately ‘woke’ is probably the nearest thing to it, though possibly only half the population subscribe to some of it at the moment. The right wing attempts to find some sort of replacement ideology appear to be largely incoherent, anachronistic and even laughable (Catholic integralism?!).

I fear we are in a similar cultural period in the West, where the old paganism was replaced by Christianity over decades. There was some coercion, but more it was young people just imbibing the ideas from an early age and it becoming completely natural.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

Like the Vikings, the Muslim and the Chinese see Western civilization’s ruin via wokeism for what it is – artificial empowering of something that has no true power. Just like the Vikings did via violence, the Chinese are “calling the Western bluff” via economic and political devastating blows. Morally I also loath China’s dictator and the horrible abuses of the Muslim leaders, but (just like the Vikings) they know where to hit us. I love Western culture and fear that unless it takes a dose of humility and acknowledge that it has been led astray by wokeism, it will meet the same fate as the Lindisfarne islanders. Reality never cared for morality.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Reality never cared for morality? Surely Vikings, Mongols, Muslims and pre-Christian Romans all had their own moral codes – albeit very unwoke codes.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

True, but we are all on here, whatever our political differences, imbibed in specifically Western morality and ethics, not, for example, extolling and paying homage to our ancestors, as the Chinese do.

Pete Garbett
Pete Garbett
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Brilliant analysis! 
I would add fascist, ultra-nationalist Russia to China and the Ummah, as well as Hindu-fanatic India, with its obscene caste system (the antithesis of equality).

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

I think your endless use of the term ‘eugenic’ makes your views very suspect indeed. There is absolutely no such biological concept as ‘weakening the race’, except perhaps by intensive inbreeding. That was that famously engaged in by the Hapsburgs with baleful medical consequences to them, who were practising of course the precise opposite of miscegenation.

And I also question the idea that ‘egalitarianism’ is truly a driving principle of the modern West, albeit there is a mass of hypocrisy and virtue signalling on the issue. Why do we have today some of the highest levels of inequality seen in Western societies with the top 0.1% gaining ever more in wealth? At least, it seems a pretty ineffective form of egalitarianism. At least Mao largely succeeded in that, even if using utter brutality to do so!

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Most? I’d say all.

Adam McIntyre
Adam McIntyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

“Woke” is basically equality-obsession.
The Christians are absolutely equality-obsessed. See St. Paul’s edict that “there is neither man nor woman… but all are equal in the sight of God”.
The “woke” moment is maybe best understood as a kind of secular Christian revival. “Secular Christianity” is not an oxymoron btw — it is basically Christian values (mostly “equality”) without any deity.
This is not an original analysis, you can find it all over the internet.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

Indeed, I was trying to recall where I read that communism was radical Christianity “shorn of its god”. Popper perhaps?

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

Equal in the sight of God is like equality under the law, and is quite different from the obsession with “equity” that the woke faith has.

Paula G
Paula G
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

Without a Deity, without humility, without recognizing the sacrifice and the promise of eternal life
without seeing the system and the promise and the utility and sense of well being and security from believing
one goes into one’s own sense of one’s own power and gets into conflict
One can’t get religious here, but, try studying for a year, and preying
deliberately misspelled so as not to offend the algorithm
and see what you believe. Lots of resources out there online. Really give it twenty minutes a day, study and preying.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam McIntyre

Sure. There is a permanent conflict between equality (from Zarathustra, Gautama, Jesus) and a caste/class system.
The ‘woke’ movement try to sell equality but hardly attacks the concentration of wealth. It actually diverts attention to absurd issues such as the privileges of ultra-minorities: transgender people (actually a bunch of individuals) and other oddities. They are working to set up the foundation of a caste system in which people are classified according to weird ethnic and gender abstractions. At the end, a transgender would have more privileged than a white man or a woman fighting for gender parity.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

There is none!

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Woke =identity politics, so not very Christian or Viking.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

There’s no connection at all unless you are a woolly type of Christian that just wants to please the world.

Bruce Lewis
Bruce Lewis
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The current pope of the Roman Catholic Church most certainly does see a connection, and he’s the head of the largest Christian denomination on earth.

Rob C
Rob C
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Are you kidding me? Wokeness is just a subset of a universalist morality, which is equitarian. It’s just Christian morality, secularized and with supernatural beliefs removed, and taken to the logical end. (Jesus didn’t have it quite right.)

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob C

Wokeness is closer to Chuang Tzu, who believed he was a butterfly.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

There is a long evolving cultural connection, as well argued by Tom Holland and others. Firstly the idea that we should ipso facto have pity and concern for the weak and the poor was a very Christian (perhaps Jewish before that, but certainly Christian) innovation. That was revolutionary. Neither the Romans nor the Vikings would have had any idea what you were talking about. Even slaves wanted to be free themselves or possibly slave owners, not to abolish slavery. The concept that every human soul had value (including women) was unique and new.

Then we had in Western Christendom the state / church split, initially over the Investiture Contest, which had a profound effect on political institutions and dispersed authority, leading to the possibility of free cities, institutions and societies not completely under the thumb of a King or Emperor. And in the long run, political liberalism, which certainly did not arise in China or the Muslim world. (It was very different however in the Orthodox East, where church and state were much more closely linked).

We had eventually, the ever expanding of the ‘circle of concern’ from family to neighbours, to countrymen, to slaves, to women, to people of a different race, to homosexuals, to…. trans people. You can see how we got there, though it’s a complex and convoluted story.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

The good thing about the Vikings is that they are long in the past so that “Hope not Hate” won’t be persecuting this author for Vikingophobia.
A safe bet that no website will be publishing an equivalent page about the history (and currency) of a certain other group with equal if not greater brutality and alternative values.
Such is our “free world”. Sad.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

As they did in Normandy

hence, over here, we are Normands

men from the north.
Within one generation, old Norsk wasn’t spoken anymore and the heritage of this era can be found in farmers blue eyes 

 we are very proud of this heritage
..Barfleur before being besieged by Henry the V was founded by Norwegian Vikings and their legacy went in with the traveling bug which sent them to conquering England, settling in Sicily and Palestine 
..

David Ryan
David Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

That’s not his point though. He’s talking mainly about the visceral savagery of the Viking raids, not the subsequent settlements. Although those were hardly bastions of politeness either. Plenty of evidence for capital punishment, public display of decapitated heads etc in Viking towns like Dublin

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

I’m 10% Viking apparently, Scots/German/Irish Catholic the rest. English through and through.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon James

You can be both. I think they were basically farmers who went raiding from time to time for fun and profit. One theory of how English lost its gendered words is that it is essentially a pidgin language created because there were so many Danish fathers married to local girls. They essentially dumbed down the local language grammar so it was easier to learn.

Craig Bishop
Craig Bishop
1 year ago

I got my hair cut the other day in a barber shop in Cape Town run by a woman, who told me within minutes that she embraced her ADHD. She didn’t stop chatting the whole time, which I usually hate. But she told a fascinating story about young men wanting the Viking cut – basically a reverse mullet, with shaven sides and long on the top. Like they imagine Viking warriors might have looked. This woman was adamant that the growing of beards, as well as this so-called warrior style, even the ghastly man-bun, was all an attempt to reclaim some sort of imagined masculinity. Something in short supply, especially for young men trying to define themselves. Very interesting chat. She flatly refused to cut womans’ hair, she said, as it was too traumatic an experience. With men, apparently, you cut the hair and the man will be grateful and out he walks. But with women, you cut the hair, and in doing so, tweak her personality. So this woman claimed.

Last edited 1 year ago by Craig Bishop
Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Bishop

Most interesting. Unherd columist Naama Kata releasted a podcast (no 87) a few weeks back that sheds light on this. She intereviewed a young South African incel who argued along the lines of feminism having perverse effects at least in the big 3 cities 0 CT, Johanessberg & Durban. With the relatively feminised men finding no woman would want to date them, while hyper masculine men enjoying mutliple relationships, often leaving multiple baby mothers in their wake.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Interesting. Go figure that human biology persists to this day.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

I think it is a perverse attraction with women left on their own saddled with a child or two. The one’s I have seen live for a visit from the father whilst at the same time he is doing the same to other women.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Therefore, hyper masculine men behave as bastards and create shitholes. Denmark and Sweden are far better under female leaderships than Johannesburg – a very dangerous city, Pakistan, Somalia or any other country ran by gangs of violent men.

James P
James P
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Bishop

What she was describing is a Mohawk, a haircut attributed to the Mohawks of what is now eastern Canada. They were/are very well known for serious effectiveness in battle.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago
Reply to  James P

And nothing is left from them except a funny haircut.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago

Not sure how much direct evidence there is that Vikings “really, really hated” pious, hypocritical do-gooders. Christians generally well know we don’t consistently embody the virtues we uphold. Yet it was Christians who converted the Vikings, not the other way round. Granted, sometimes largely due to superior valour & force of arms. But often it was entirely peaceful, with slaves and other low status Christians converting pagan majority areas just by their words, Love & the example of their fine character. Probably too by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Much as we should never forget the horrors of war, especially in these times, good though to have this reminder of how thrilling & appealing conflict can be, especially to children. A personal fave as a lad was ‘Twilight of the Grey Gods’. A retelling of the Battle of Clontarf emphasizing the defeat of the Norse spiritual entities by the Triumphant Christ (And the fictional Odin even seemned to willingly aquiesce to this). Good luck with the book old sport.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

The ‘Vikings’ ultimately failed to stamp out Christianity in the British Isle, despite making a valiant effort.
Come back Eric Bloodaxe & Co, all is forgiven.

Malvin Marombedza
Malvin Marombedza
1 year ago

Careful what you wish for, Charles

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

“They saw the world as a dark, cold, cruel place: a place of terrible savagery and dreadful misfortune,
”

No wonder some saw Christianity as a light to be drawn to.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Christianity brings hope to the hopeless. As the western world slides ever farther into hopelessness I expect that Christ and His people will be there offering eternal hope.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

Alfred the Great was a christian who stood up to the Vikings. They were unable to overcome him by force of arms and it was a case of thus far and no further.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 year ago

I suggest a future episode of Doctor Who in which Greta Thunberg is transported back in time to be judged by her Viking forebears. Should be a ratings smash hit.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

“the Vikings . . . .like us, lived in an intensely dangerous, competitive world, where rival warlords struggled for resources.”

Where does Dominic Sandbrook live ? Britain today is not “intensely dangerous”.
Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan – Yes.
Britain – No.

The popularity of virtual extreme violence as entertainment is more likely due to boredom and a comparatively easy life. The first half of the last century was full of the reality of extreme violence and our parents and grandparents generations were sick of it. In the 21st century glorifying and revelling in it in the abstract, as the article seems to do, is only rational when you are certain you are not going to end up being hung, drawn and quartered (for example) somewhere down the line.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Ever been to South London?

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I grew up there, spent the last 2 years of my time there living on an estate on Brixton Hill.

For young black youths it is dangerous I grant you.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

And ‘Deliveroo drivers’ sadly.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

I was beaten up just using a park loo in S London.

Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

“The popularity of virtual extreme violence as entertainment is……”
…..because our society has become dominated by the sick profitmaking culture of giant corporations.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

Ah yes! The evil giant corporations are at fault. That’s the problem. Such as the Coen Brothers and most of the Hollywood studios and actors and their various unions. Certainly not the deviants who purchase this material by the billions of dollars?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I agree Warren.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

I am sure it desencitises violence. It cannot be good.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

If you are having to compare Britain to Ukraine to make the case it’s not actually that dangerous then already it’s proof that there’s something wrong. I’m often surprised how low quality of life (e.g. crime, anti-social behaviour etc) is normalised in the UK due to lowered expectations.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

I think we are often fooled into thinking our country is more dangerous than it is. According to the Global Peace Index with Afghanistan at number 1, Yemen 2, Syria 3 the most dangerous, and Iceland at number 163, New Zealand 162, Ireland 161 the safest, (the US is at 35) UK is 130 (Italy 132), not so bad.
https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/most-dangerous-countries

“intensely dangerous” we are not.

Having said that, it would be good to be even safer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

If you examine the methodology of that index you quote, you’ll see that if a country defunds its policy force and lets everyone out of its prisons it would become safer. Does that remind you of something?

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

I cannot find any evidence for that assertion. Here is the pdf of the Global Peace Index Methodology pages, (page 81 – 83) https://visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/GPI-2022-web.pdf.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

See pages 81-83 in that document you link (was 75-77 in the previous year’s). The weighted additive factors include incarceration rate and police rate as weighted factors with similar weights to perceptions of crime and homicide rates. So if perceptions of crime or homicide rates rise (about) an equal amount alongside a drop in the number of police officers that’s a net zero.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

But that is you personally coming to a conclusion on a hypothetical set of numbers. Also your equation isolates 4(?) indicators and leaves out the effect of all the other 19 indicators, no sensible, honest researcher would do that. Perhaps the index could be, or is used in that way by hostile actors but I don’t think the GPI sets out to enable such people.
It is a useful index imo.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

No doubt they had pure intentions creating this index, but still they’ve created something that behaves just the way I describe above. As for the other indicators, they’re no different. Taken together, this index boils down to saying fewer weapons and police makes a country safer. Very Woke and well-meaning on the surface of it, yet that’s an ideological position they take, it’s not a fact.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Britain is, apparently, a place in which lawyers argue that there is any conceivable legal reason for owning, let alone carrying a machete.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

One thing that I have never understood is why people think it is OK to glorify, celebrate, or make fun out of medieval violence and gore. Think London Dungeon. We should, certainly, try and understand what went on, and comprehend the all to human impulse for violence, martial glory, and gore that the kids cited in this article expressed. But making out that instruments of excruciating physical torture and pain are all part of a goofy, fun “fright experience” (just £29 per adult if you buy online, folks!)? There is something very detached about that. Ironically, perhaps, the more distant and alien to ourselves we portray medieval violence, the less we are able to interrogate in a moral frame and the less we might learn from it ourselves. It reinforces our delusion that we live in ahistorical times.

What we should be telling those kids is that anyone is capable of doing what the Vikings did and it’s only by diligent, conscientious, vigilant protection, nurturing and gradual, incremental reform of our Christian-heritage moral code and societal norms that we can stop such degeneration into “might is right”. After all, I’m sure the little girl who wanted “more beheading” might think it fit to revise her view if it were put to her that it could easily be her Mummy or Daddy who was on the chopping block. These days that would probably land you with a court order or something, but it might teach her lesson worth learning!

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

You’ll never get most children to empathise with what previous generations of the past went through in anything like how an adult can. Explain Alexander the Great or Caesar to them and they’re usually far more interested in the battles and conquests, not the lives of people that were turned upside down by having their homes destroyed and being sold into slavery or killed as a result of said conquests. Similar for me with WWII when I was a fairly young child. I wasn’t particularly interested in evacuees, the Blitz, Babyn Yar, the fate of POW’s captured by Japan etc until I was at least a few years older and my mind could somewhat comprehend those horrors.

At the end of the day, children develop very quickly as people, but there’s a lot there to develop and it’s naive I think to assume people with an age of only one digit will understand these horrors fully. Better to teach them the “cool” stuff which can then trigger an interest in the more brutal reality.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

True, but I think you can jolt them to at least think about the consequences and real world implications of the “cool” stuff by personalising the experience, eg what if it were your best friend who got gunned down in a battle etc. How would you feel? They might not look into it all in more detail until they are older but inculcating a narrative that there was this stuff that happened in the past, it was kind of gory, kind of cool, kind of scary, but that’s all gone now is, I believe wrong and dangerous.

Perhaps if Stephen King’s 13 year old antagonist Todd Bowden in his Apt Pupil had had the “gooshy parts” of concentration camp guard Dussender’s past contextualised and personalised for him at a younger age things might not have turned out as they did in that very clever morality tale.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Doubt the Vikings bothered with such civilised apparatus as a chopping block!

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

I mostly agree with you. And it highlights the sheer hypocrisy/ignorance of those who preach that a world void of religion will finally bring peace.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Warren, I think that those who foresee peace as the outcome of Christianity do not see that as a result of mankind’s actions or actions but, rather, as the result of the Biblical account of the world ending being true. If it is not (and, of course, if it is!) Pascal’s equation operates!

Grahame Wells
Grahame Wells
1 year ago

Funny how effete, do-gooder Christians defeated them on the battlefield (eg that Christian king Alfred) when they were organised and not caught off-guard by hit and run raids on defenceless monks and villagers, to kidnap and sell (how noble and courageous). Christian missionaries cast out their demons, healed their sick, preached redemption and hope. They confronted their gods who demanded human sacrifice. It’s pretty courageous to go defenceless to people who may torture then slaughter you for fun. Never get TV lionising them. The Christ they and the Saxons embraced was the Warrior Who defeated Satan and his myrmidons through his heroic death and resurrection. It’s wokeism that distorts history, romanticising indigenous cultures that were horrifically abusive. Wokeists see Christianity as the enemy, at least its biblical form tho having borrowed some of its value system such as equality (before God), human worth (Vikings couldn’t have cared less about people not in their clan or class, like pagan Romans) and justice before the law (a la Tom Holland’s Dominion).

Bruce Lewis
Bruce Lewis
1 year ago
Reply to  Grahame Wells

Nietzscheans (who are the opposite of Wokesters) also see “Christianity as the enemy.”

David Yetter
David Yetter
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Lewis

I’m afraid you misread the relationship between wokeness and Nietzsche. The woke are the idiot children of the Frankfurt School, Gramsci, Foucault and a host of anti- and post-colonialist thinkers who bought Lenin’s provably wrong imperialism theory wholesale, but somewhere along the way in that mostly Marxist pedigree, a bit of Nietzsche’s thought crept in in the form of trans-valuation of values: the woke by and large accept old racist (and sexist) stereotypes, but declare the qualtiies that use to be slurs to be proofs of the superiority of the marginalized (e.g. women being less rationals becoms ‘womyn’s ways of knowing”, people of African ancestry have superior musical sense, a gloss on “got rhythm”,..)

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Do Nigerian children thrill to stories of their ancestors going out and raiding other tribes to enslave them and sell them to the white man? Presumably if they do the assumption is that they will be the ones doing the enslaving rather than being enslaved just as the English children seem to work on this assumption.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I don’t believe we are allowed to state that truth anymore. It doesn’t conform to the narrative.

David Yetter
David Yetter
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Probably. I don’t think the validity of the insight into childhood Sir James M. Barrie expressed in the phrase “innocent and heartless” is confined to European children.

Thomas King
Thomas King
1 year ago

Interesting read, Mr. Sandbrook clearly knows his stuff. But I disagree with the premise that modern wokists find the Vikings’ violent depravity at all unpleasant or ‘problematic’. I’ve met quite a few who idolise them, sometimes because of the violence instead of despite it. And the simple reason is that their crimes were mostly perpetrated against Christians, and they themselves were not. They’re given allowance for all the slavery and human sacrifice as it was ‘just their culture’, and their raids and plundering are always seemingly couched in an almost defensive language, in that they were simply retaliating against those awful imperialistic Christians. I once had a friend who, not only adopted the worship of Odin and his pantheon and claimed himself to be pagan, but very earnestly and frankly angrily declared to me that the means by which Vikingdom was largely converted peacefully to the worship of Christ, the adapting of Norse customs and traditions and integration into Christian teachings to encourage and ease conversion, was tantamount to ‘cultural rape’ and was far worse than anything, including actual rape, the Vikings ever did to Christians. In other words those monks were asking for it.
Most wokists seem perfectly ok with violence, so long as it’s done to a person belonging to a group they dislike. In that way they’re just as tribalistic as the Vikings, just more obnoxious and hypocritical than they were about it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Thomas King
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

The author seems to be unaware that there is a fundamental difference between “woke” and Christianity.
Christianity teaches that mankind is precisely LIKE the Vikings. The victims at Lindisfarne lived in a world very similar to that of the Vikings, where might made right. Indeed, despite recent attempts to ignore or “correct” the written evidence, Anglo-Saxons were just as ruthless when they invaded Britian in the 5th C, as the Vikings were in the 9th C.
The crucial difference is that “woke” people teach a Sub-Marxist theory that argues that anything bad is part of a conspiracy to keep a given evil ruling elite in power. Moreover, since recorded history was written for these evil elites, things like the 1619 Project will automatically make us all better people.
Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that even if you change whoever is in power, and their narrative, it makes no difference. Whoever takes charge won’t act any differently, being inherently “fallen.” “Woke” Silicon Valley entrepreneurs will eventually become as corrupt as 19th C Robber Barons. Mankind by itself just can’t change.
I’d say that explains nearly all of the human behaviour seen in history.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
1 year ago

Given that there are 100s of ‘Viking’ place names of settlements all over the Danelaw, does this not mean that the view of the Vikings as primarily raiders is wrong.
Sure there were raids, but there is only so much smash-and-grab that you can do on a population. After a bit you have to stop, plough and grow.
The influence of Viking culture is central to English identity, with some linguists are arguing that modern English is a Viking language-structure with Anglo-saxon vocabulary.
Furthermore, the origins of English individualism , which enabled the Uk to become the first industrialised nation in the 18th century, have their origins in patterns of ownership most common in the ex-Danelaw areas even by 1066.
The rise of York as a European trading centre also suggests that it was trade, not raid which was the predominant Viking contribution.

Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Sure there were raids, but there is only so much smash-and-grab that you can do on a population. After a bit you have to stop, plough and grow.

Thanks to “Black history month” etc obsession and “enrichment” of our culture, few know any White history, least of all how the barbarian warbands eventually killed one another off with the result that the shy and modest agricultural people ended up founding the new civilisation properly called Western Christendom (plus the Celtic and the Eastern ones). Read Arnold Toynbee.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago

Re. children’s love of violence, Ogden Nash nailed it about ninety years ago..
DON’T CRY, DARLING, IT’S BLOOD ALL RIGHT
Whenever poets want to give you the idea that something is particularly meek and mild,
They compare it to a child,
Thereby proving that though poets with poetry may be rife
They don’t know the facts of life.
If of compassion you desire either a tittle or a jot,
Don’t try to get it from a tot.
Hard-boiled, sophisticated adults like me and you
May enjoy ourselves thoroughly with Little Women and Winnie-the-Pooh,
But innocent infants these titles from their reading course eliminate
As soon as they discover that it was honey and nuts and mashed potatoes instead of human flesh that Winnie-the-Pooh and Little Women ate.
Innocent infants have no use for fables about rabbits or donkeys or tortoises or porpoises,
What they want is something with plenty of well-mutilated corpoises.
Not on legends of how the rose came to be a rose instead of a petunia is their fancy fed,
But on the inside story of how somebody’s bones got ground up to make somebody else’s bread.
They go to sleep listening to the story of the little beggarmaid who got to be queen by being kind to the bees and the birds,
But they’re all eyes and ears the minute they suspect a wolf or a giant is going to tear some poor woodcutter into quarters and thirds.
It really doesn’t take much to fill their cup;
All they want is for somebody to be eaten up.
Therefore I say unto you, all you poets who are so crazy about meek and mild little children and their angelic air,
If you are sincere and really want to please them, why just go out and get yourselves devoured by a bear.

jim peden
jim peden
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

10/10 for rhyming corpoises with porpoises! Your poetry deserves a hand even if it doesn’t always scan.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago
Reply to  jim peden

Jim, this sn’t by me: it’s a poem by Ogden Nash (1902-1971), who specialised in humorous verse with absolutely no metrical regularity and full of outrageous rhymes (the latter in the tradition of W.S. Gilbert). He was perfectly capable of writing strictly metrical stuff when he wanted: probably the best known is the verse titled ‘Reflections on Ice-Breaking’, which runs:
“Candy
Is dandy,
But liquor
Is quicker.”
And ‘The Cow’ is pretty famous as well:
“The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.”

Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly
1 year ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

I grew up in Utah and I loved his poem about Senator Smoot; Republican, Ut; and his war on smut! I had it memorized as a lass.

Regan Best
Regan Best
1 year ago

Yeah and cool names like Olaf & Ragner and such. And w/nicknames like “Harvald the Skullsplitter” that pretty much says it all right?

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
1 year ago

My knowledge on the Vikings is a bit limited – but I like how the Viking kings fight alongside their men. It’s a very physical culture, and you see that in movies & tv shows about them, such as Vikings with Lagertha’s Shieldmaidens. Part of the appeal is having leaders who are willing to die by your side and for the glory of the people. I know this is a romantic idealisation. Academics writing on medievalism are quite to criticise those who find anything endearing about political cultures in the Middle Ages.
I’m Australian. We had a federal election earlier this year; Scott Morrison lost. And he just left and didn’t even seem sad or bothered about it, like there was nothing at stake, no loss of vision or anything. A few weeks earlier, I watch The Northman, and it’s all about lineage, tradition, home, family, vengeance and the afterlife. Wouldn’t want to live in early medieval Iceland. But gosh, the Vikings fascinate me!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Oh, “we live in an age that romanticises children and seeks to shield them from sights and ideas we consider morally harmful”, do we? Is that why little children are taken to drag shows, or are encouraged by their teachers and even some parents to surgically mutilate themselves? Seen the tatted, pierced, pink-haired children screaming at and spitting on adults they’re indoctrinated into hating? Where has this guy been?

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

So here now we go from extreme forms of Wokeist piety to celebrating raiders and enslavers. It’s a false dichotomy.

Simon Melville
Simon Melville
1 year ago

Well said Dominic: “open some recent books and you find yourself ploughing through long, earnest paragraphs about their radical attitudes to gender fluidity and hitherto unappreciated enthusiasm for Islamic decoration”
They were noted by every culture they encountered as being very violent – the modern reinterpretation that we should view them as misunderstood, wandering goldsmiths is swinging the pendulum too far the other way.

Carmen Carmen
Carmen Carmen
1 year ago

What we learn from this article is that the author is some type of viking historian and he doesn’t like “woke”. Interesting how this single word, invented for the purpose of demeaning certain type of people (add attributes here), is being used and overused with no end in sight. Here “woke” apparently means “hypocritical pious”. According to the woke general definition of today’s culture war those poor unsuspecting hard working monks are hardly “woke”. But nevermind, don’t waste an opportunity to further condemn “the woke”. At this rate of expansion, I predict that we are all going to be “woke” some day, and then what?

Amanda Kenwrick
Amanda Kenwrick
1 year ago

The whitewashing of Viking raisers is ridiculous. One only has to read Egilssaga to learn that the violent behaviour of their children was accepted. As to those who came later to trade, farm and settle, this in no way changed their essential character. They were, in all probability, Christian out of practicality. The Scandinavian countries only accepted Christianity to prevent being invaded by the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. In Iceland, silver casting moulds have been found that combine the Christian cross with the Thor Hammer. Seafarers thought that whilst the. Christian god might be OK to pray to on land, only Thor controlled the seas and weather.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
1 year ago

Everything you need to know about Vikings can be found in the 1958 film “The Vikings” with Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas. Excellent.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
1 year ago

Mr Sandbrook’s remarks about slavery reminded me of a very unfashionable way of dealing with our illegal immigrant problem. And Europe’s too. Slavery is primarily an economic structure. We can’t afford to look after all these illegal immigrants, we certainly can’t kill them or destroy the boats. But we could enslave them for seven years so they can earn their keep. Does Unherd have a writer who can go through the economic and social implications of this? It must be borne in mind that unless we want to make our immigration laws meaningless, we are going to have to do something.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Jeez Dominic
..”Ragnar raises his voice in one last, defiant song. “I am ready to die,” he roars. “The servants of Odin are calling me home. With the gods by my side I shall drink my ale. My days are done; my life is over. Laughing shall I die!” And then he does die. But what a way to bow out!”

You realise you’re also celebrating the suicide cult of Islamist jihadist mass murderers
.”Allahu Akbar” is their preferred, and much briefer, declaration to the afterlife I believe on the point of immolation of themselves and their victims.
I expect little Islamic children in their madrasahs, bored with lessons about religious rules, also glory in the tales of the deaths of westerners, with gory beheadings and all. Do we smile approvingly at that too?

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Dominic keeps using the phrase like us. I beg to differ and don’t believe in smashing peoples facing in and taking sex where you can get it. I would say speak for yourself Dominic not for us or at least not me. I don’t believe life has to end in unspeakable disaster. To me it seems like a hopeless cruel way of living. Like us? Not on y our life.

Paula G
Paula G
1 year ago

Oh, thank goodness they were Christians, those “God-botherers,” and not N words or P words or all the people whose feelings one is sensitive to!

Can the author point out the hypocrisy of these monks? Show me their weakness, when they fasted every day, and ate food you could not commit to eating for a week, you strong, modern and entirely unhypocritical writer? Also, contrary to the statement of the current Pope, they most likely kept to their vows of chastity, as do most BELIEVING Christian clergy.

Obviously, you need people to buy your book, so you are happy when children exhibit more bloodlust. Wouldn’t it be great if these children were never to become “hypocritical,” but well and truly let out their real emotions and slayed a few folks, unlike non-hypocritical, but rational, self-controlled, and sensitive to the integrity of others monks?

Who is the hypocrite, reveling in the bloodlust of children, when he wouldn’t ever let his bloodlust out? You mock the monks, for their self control, rather than acknowledging you yourself had to reign yours in. No, it is the “Godbotherers” who are hypocrites, and not yourself.

Thanks also for the casual denigration. Enjoy your tea, your wine in a plastic skull, and the new copies of your book sold today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paula G
Paula G
Paula G
1 year ago

On what planet were the Vikings so informed about the hypocrisy of the monks they were about to invade? Yeah, let’s get them, they thought, hearing on social media all about their Godbothering. Best informed. Slaying the right guys. Those Vikings sound pretty woke, this writer would let you surmise.

Yes, all a lark, not serious, but still choosing sides, and coming down hard against Christians, in a jokey, woke way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paula G
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

The important question isn’t whether children enjoy reading about beheadings and pretending to be Viking slave masters. The important question is not whether this is fun, but whether this is good. Children enjoy playing Grand Theft Auto too, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.
I had a good collection of toy soldiers, having inherited those of older brothers. Despite hours spent smashing those little figures into each other, arranging devious ambushes etc. none of us grew up to become violent killers.

As for the Vikings … as I’m about to undergo my fourth hand operation (the ‘Viking gene’) I feel I should be demanding compensation from the Danish government. There were my Hamilton ancestors, quietly minding their own British business, until, obviously, a pack of raping & pillaging Vikings arrived on the scene, leaving me to suffer the consequences.

Craig Bishop
Craig Bishop
1 year ago

True, that! I have a very good Swedish mate who lives in Stockholm. I cherish him dearly, but I do have to remind him every now and then, that his people stole my g.g.g.g.g grandmother, kicking and screaming, or perhaps whooping and chortling at the sheer blonde hunkiness, all the way into the longboat. And I’d like her back, please.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

I agree that playing with toy soldiers is innocuous and common. Playing “war” doesn’t mean you’re going to become a Navy Seal. Chasing girls on the playground when you’re 9 doesn’t portend being a rapist. Playing cops and robbers doesn’t mean you’re going to grow up to rob banks (or fight crime.)

But there are lots of things we do worry about children being exposed to, precisely because their brains are more fluid. Maybe we worry too much about things like Grand Theft Auto or Drag Queen Story Hour… but we do worry about them. So I find the uncritical acceptance of children practicing their beheading and enslavement skills kind of weird.

BTW: Go for it! Sue the Danes! Demand Vik-arations. 🙂

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

I do not care to read this – but could guess how it goes; modern culture has two loves, two passions – Woke and Satanism – you might think that pair are a bit incongruous, but they are flip sides of the same coin.

Sadistic Death Cult.

Naturally it will be loved by the entertainment and education industries.

Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Do bear in mind that the Wokerati consider no fate too unkind for those who challenge them, no matter how mildly or long ago. Theirs is not a rational position.

rob clark
rob clark
1 year ago

Thanks for what is no doubt a more accurate take on this time period. A refreshing escape from the “1619” revisionist history lessons some of our more “enlightened” folks preach here in the States.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob clark
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago

There are still plenty of them out in Newcastle on a Friday night, much to the displeasure of the sanctimonious cyclists on the City Council!

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 year ago

I think Dominic is onto something, especially around gaming. With AC Valhalla for example, it is a vision into another time that we can interact with in a safe manner without having to face any of the real consequences. Although that said, the game did berate me once for accidentally killing a monk during a raid on an Abbey which makes me think if the developers are utterly naive or more likely, it was too difficult to distinguish monks from revaluation civilians from a design perspective.

I think there’s also an attraction to how ancient and different they are too. Staying with gaming, this hit me with the first Rome Total War game where the empires and kingdoms the player can play as are so different to the modern era that it may as well be a fantasy game to all intents and purposes on a level of Tolkien for example.

Michael Furse
Michael Furse
1 year ago

As DS has discussed at length with Tom Holland on their excellent podcast, since the Vikings travelled extensively down the Dnieper and became the Kievan Rus, before going on to populate Western Russia, you can mount a robust argument that they are still at it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Furse
David Fawcett
David Fawcett
1 year ago

The closest modern parallel to the longboats of Vikings (looting, pillaging) are the rubber dinghies of Albanians who come to strip us of our wealth, and deal in drugs and slaves. There are billions of pounds Sterling being funnelled back to Albania, just like the gold and jewels that were stripped out of the Lindisfarne monastery. Back in those days we had King Alfred, who at least held the Vikings at bay for a while. Back in the present, there are no leaders, political or military, to push back the Albanians. We could have Suella Braverman, if she wasn’t so hampered by a footdragging Civil Service and her cowardly colleagues in the Tory party.

Matt Poling
Matt Poling
1 year ago

Christianity will defeat the west’s 21st century barbarians as well. We have a 2,000 year track record. Check back on Tuesday for a scoring update!

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

I suspect young boys prefer the blood thirsty tales a bit more than the young girls,(none mentioned in the article) but I could be wrong !

Last edited 1 year ago by 0 0
James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

From what I’ve read the Norsemen were community minded with a tendency to fish and farm, the third wave of their invasion. They were successful and had many testosterone fuelled young men like our football hooligans and marching students. Useful recruits for expansionist ambitions, stick them on a longship and get them out of the civic hair. Shame we ran out of new worlds, Australia and hundreds of years of French enmity. Shame about Mars. Cold and airless with Science requiring too much effort.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

Hmm . . . a curious race. But so very human, at the heart of it all!

Peter Beard
Peter Beard
1 year ago

I liked this article. Dominic is encouraging us not to feel guilty about our inherent fascination with our physical inclinations such as dominance and war, it is probably one of our evolutionary driving forces.
I can recall my Catholic education attempting to make me feel guilty about sex outside of a properly blessed Roman Catholic wedding. It was of course all tosh, and my lack of guilt hasn’t made me a sex maniac. Neither does my MMA black belt, which was huge fun to train for, make me a homicidal maniac.
I have no time for the pious puritans who oppressed the people with their self-righteousness. I do however sympathise with their victims, and I hope they continue to obtain a little merriment and comfort from the grisly evisceration of their self-serving tormentors.

James Gray
James Gray
1 year ago

Most of these serious responders are really just missing the joke, aren’t they? Or are they in fact “proving” the joke? Thanks for this fun piece, Dominic.

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
1 year ago
Reply to  James Gray

I agree, I thought it was a great piece written in a very entertaining way!

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago

It’s funny because absolutely true. At 5 I found a book of Norse myths and abandoned Chrisianity then and there and have been a happy pagan ever since.

US Military Parent
US Military Parent
1 year ago

Freddie,
The post-Covid era is breaking down at Unherd. I am interested in the 80% stuff, not this nonsense. Please fix.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Agreed!
Let’s have some stuff about what the ‘Chinks’ are up to in Hong Kong, the Israelis on the West Bank, and what is about to happen in the US of A, for starters.

Iris C
Iris C
1 year ago

A terrific article! Grimm also knew that children wanted dashing heroes and quaking horror, giving it to them in his fairy tales.
On a more sober note, I think that our desire (enforced by the state) to shield our children from hardships is one of the reasons why so many suffer from mental disturbances when they have to face reality out in the big, bad world. . .

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
1 year ago

And the people they really, really hated were pious, hypocritical do-gooders who were always telling them to behave themselves. So they weren’t so different from us, after all.”
Very clever…

Federico A. Nazar
Federico A. Nazar
1 year ago

Big difference! vikings didn’t have an enemy within:
https://scientificprogress.substack.com/p/the-plan-revealed

Gareth Rees
Gareth Rees
1 year ago

This was a fun and enjoyable read, albeit I was surprised to hear that the monks kept slaves on Lindisfarne. Perhaps the Vikings were just rescuing them? Seriously though, a ‘thumpingly’ good start to my Saturday morning. More please.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
1 year ago

This article was a welcome palate-cleanser to the Unheard piece I just read…

T Fisher
T Fisher
1 year ago

I went to one of those touring Viking exhibitions a few years back. It was almost comical how the creators had tried to balance their emphasis on “multicultural trading links and lovely brooch-making” with their efforts to portray Viking women as every bit the warriors as the men.