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Vikings and Western Slavs

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  Quote Mosquito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Vikings and Western Slavs
    Posted: 29-Sep-2004 at 18:41

Since our last discuassion about that on old AE on proboards i was looking for informations about slavic viking and Jomsborg vikings.

I found many controversies.

First - some historians claim that Jomsborg didnt exist.

Second - some historians claim that Jomsborg was a base of viking brotherhood who were recruited from the Western Slavs and Scandinavians (i guess that mostly comes from the Jomsviking Saga)

Third - There are historians who claim that scandinavian element was marginal and that Jomsborg was a base of slavic pirates, just like that island Rugen (or Rugia).

Fourth - In viking saga's we can learn about first rulers of Poland. There is controversy if the Burizleif king of the Vindland (or Vendland) was polish ruler Mieszko I or his son first polish king Boleslav the Brave. Some suggest that Scandinavians were calling both Boleslav the Brave and his father Mieszko with the same name and title Burizleif king of the Vindland. I have studied the KING OLAF TRYGVASON'S SAGA" and thats what i found:

"King Svein made a magnificent feast, to which he invited all the chiefs in his dominions; for he would give the succession-feast,or the heirship-ale, after his father Harald....(..)...The Jomsborg vikings came to the festival with their bravest men, forty ships of them from Vindland, and twenty ships from Skane."

So, from the 60 ships on which the Jomsvikings came to visit Sven (father of Canute the Great) who just become the king of Denmark - 40 were slavic.
On that feast someone decided to use the Jomsvikings to his plans. They drunk to much beer and were droven into the intrigue which ended bad for them:

"Thereafter for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings was filled and drunk the largest horn to be found, and of the strongest drink..(...)..Thereafter Earl Sigvalde emptied a remembrance bowl to his father's honour,and made the solemn vow, that before three winters came to an end he would go to Norway, and either kill Earl Hakon, or chase him out of the country.Thereupon Thorkel the Tall, his brother,made a solemn vow to follow his brother Sigvalde to Norway, and not flinch from the battle so long as Sigvalde would fight there. Then Bue the Thick vowed to follow them to Norway, and not flinch so long as the other Jomsborg vikings fought. At last Vagn Akason vowed that he would go with them to Norway, and not return until he had slain Thorkel Leira, and gone to bed to his daughter Ingebjorg without her friends' consent...(...)...when the Jomsborg vikings had slept off their drink, they thought they had spoken more than enough."

So, the Jomsviking sailed toward Norway in the force of the 60 ships, but the Norwegians were not surprised and met them on the sea with the 150 ships.

The earls Hakon and Eirik lay in Halkelsvik, where all their forces were assembled. They had 150 ships,and they had heard that the Jomsborg vikings had come in from sea, and lay at the island Hod; and they, in consequence, rowed out to seek them. When they reached a place called Hjorungavag they met each other,and both sides drew up their ships in line for an attack."

During the battle one of the Jomsviking's Jarl's found a chance to escape and left the battle which was lost. All together 35 ships escaped while 25 were still fighting. Most of the crews fought to death and the Norwegians captured only 30 wounded but still alive Jomsvikings. The norwegians begined execution:

"Vagn and thirty men were taken prisoners, and bound, and brought to land. Then came up Thorkel Leira, and said, "Thou madest a solemn vow, Vagn, to kill me, but now it seems more likely that I will kill thee." Vagn and his men sat all upon a log of wood together. Thorkel had an axe in his hands, with which he cut at him who sat outmost on the log. Vagn and the other prisoners were bound so that a rope was fastened on their feet, but they had their hands free. One of them said, "I will stick this cloak-pin that I have in my hand into the earth, if it be so that I know anything, after my head is cut off." His head was cut off, but the cloak-pin fell from his hand. There sat also a very handsome man with long hair, who twisted his hair over his head, put out his neck, and said, "Don't make my hair bloody." A man took the hair in his hands and held it fast. Thorkel hewed with his axe; but the viking twitched his head so strongly that he who was holding his hair fell forwards, and the axe cut off both his hands, and stuck fast in the earth."

After doing it the young handsome viking said famous:

"Eigi Eru Enn Allir Jomsvikingar daudhir" ("Not Yet Are All the Jomsvikings Dead").

Anyway, The Norwegians were impressed so much that rewarded him and the remaining 11 of the Jomsvikings who were not executed yet with life and let them go back to Jomsborg. The whole thing is also described in the novel of Bengston "Red Orm". Who has read it, knows what im talking about.

Farther the Saga says about king Sven Forkbeard and his connections with Polish prince:

"The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married to Gunhild, a daughter of Burizleif, king of the Vinds..(..)...Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, complained to his relation Earl Sigvalde, that the agreement was broken which Sigvalde had made between King Svein and King Burizleif, by which Burizleif was to get in marriage Thyre, Harald's daughter, a sister of King Svein: but that marriage had not proceeded, for Thyre had given positive no to the proposal to marry her to an old and heathen king. "Now," said King Burizleif to Earl Sigvalde, "I must have the promise fulfilled." And he told Earl Sigvalde to go to Denmark, and bring him Thyre as his queen. Earl Sigvalde loses no time, but goes to King Svein of Denmark, explains to him the case; and brings it so far by his persuasion, that the king delivered his sister Thyre into his hands. With her went some female attendants, and her foster-father, by name Ozur Agason, a man of great power, and some other people. In the agreement between the king and the earl, it was settled that Thyre should have in property the possessions which Queen Gunhild had enjoyed in Vindland, besides other great properties as bride-gifts. Thyre wept sorely, and went very unwillingly. When the earl came to Vindland, Burizleif held his wedding with Queen Thyre, and received her in marriage; bus as long as she was among heathens she would neither eat nor drink with them, and this lasted for seven days...(...)...It happened one night that Queen Thyre and Ozur ran away in the dark, and into the woods, and, to be short in our story, came at last to Denmark. But here Thyre did not dare to remain, knowing that if her brother King Svein heard of her, he would send her back directly to Vindland. She went on, therefore, secretly to Norway, and never stayed her journey until she fell in with King Olaf, by whom she was kindly received."

There in Norway she married Olaf King of Norway.

When king Olaf of norway became the husband of the Danish princess who was before married to the ruler of the Poles (prolly Mieszko I) he sailed to Poland to talk with polish ruler about the property of his wife which polish prince recived together with her. Saga also says that he had many friends there:

 (After his sister Ingebjorg's wedding, the king made ready in all haste to leave the country with his army, which was both greatand made up of fine men.)  When he left the land and sailed southwards he had sixty ships of war, with which he sailed past Denmark, and in through the Sound, and on to Vindland.  Heappointed a meeting with King Burizleif; and when the kings met, they spoke about the property which King Olaf demanded, and the conference went off peaceably, as a good account was given of the properties which King Olaf thought himself entitled to there.  He passed here much of the summer, and found many of his old friends."

When king Olaf was in Poland on the court of Polish ruler, he gets informations that king of Denmark Sven Forkbeard is gatheiring army against him and wants to attack him on his way back to Norway. They decide that Jomsborg vikings will give Olaf 11 ships which will join the norwegian fleet to protect the king. Decision is made by the Earl Sigvalde who seems to be an often guest if not an all time resident on the court of Polish ruler and Jarl of Jomsborg in the same time. Altough it looks like it was a trick and its real intention was to drive king Olaf into Denish trap:

"There came first a flying report to Vindland that the Danish king, Svein, had fitted out an army; and it was soon whispered that he intended to attack King Olaf.  But Earl Sigvalde says to King Olaf, "It never can be King Svein's intention to venture with the Danish force alone, to give battle to thee with such a powerful army; but if thou hast any suspicion that evil is onfoot, I will follow thee with my force (at that time it was considered a great matter to have Jomsborg vikings with an army), and I will give thee eleven well-manned ships."  The king accepted this offer; and as the light breeze of wind that came was favourable, he ordered the ships to get under weigh, and the war-horns to sound the departure.  The sails were hoisted and all the small vessels, sailing fastest, got out to sea before the others.  The earl, who sailed nearest to the king's ship, calledto those on board to tell the king to sail in his keel-track:"For I know where the water is deepest between the islands and in the sounds, and these large ships require the deepest."  Then the earl sailed first with his eleven ships, and the king followed with his large ships, also eleven in number; but the whole of the rest of the fleet sailed out to sea.  Now when Earl Sigvalde came sailing close under the island Svold, a skiff rowed out to inform the earl that the Danish king's army was lying in the harbour before them.  Then the earl ordered the sails of his vessels to be struck, and they rowed in under the island. "

Well, whoever want to know what happend next i suggest to read the whole Saga.

On the site of modern Jomsvikings i have also found some other interesting info:

That's how the Jomsvikings legend grew up.
Some of the Danish islands were attacked by Slavic pirates so often, that they have been depopulated at the end; later they have been settled again by Slavs from Pomerania. Danish invasions (with distinctly repressive character), like this from year 1043, shows that Vends (Slavs) were not easy neighbours for the Vikings; at the same time, when Scandinavian Vikings pillaged the West Europe, they own territory was pillaged by Vends.
In the book The Viking Art Of War (Chapter 'The Vikings and their neighbours), Paddy Griffith writes:
"To the south-east of Denmark lay the Wends (Vends) or the Slav tribes, who were in many ways just as effective raiders and traders as the Vikings themselves".
"The Slavs were always under threat of attack from the Vikings as well as the Franks."
"They also gave as good as they got , in military terms, sacking Hedeby in 1000 and harrying Denmark, Gotland , Oland and southern Sweden to such an extent that the Western Baltic was sometimes called Mare Rugianorum after the Slavic pirates of Rugen. The prevalence of treasure-hoarding in southern Sweden during the 1000s has led modern archeologists to believe that the threat was indeed a very serious one, and the Icelandic sagas themselves often seem to assume that "Vikings" in the purely piratical sense were almost as likely to be Wends (Vends) as Scandinavians."
According to our present knowlage, we can suppose that the team of pirates from Jomsborg was mixed, Slavic - Scandinavian, but after 1000 the Slavic element among the Jomsvikings was in majority.


In the end of 10 century, vikings from Jomsborg took part in campaign of Thorkel the Tall against England. However, in the famous battle of Svolde in 1000 A.D. (called a battle of three kings) they probably supported the king of Norway, Olav Tryggvason. The end to the stronghold put Magnus the Good (king of Denmark and Norway), who willing to prevent Danish lands and destroyed Jomsborg down to the ground in 1043 A.D.

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  Quote Polish-UkrainianCanadian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Feb-2005 at 20:54

I am confused.

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  Quote Scytho-Sarmatian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2005 at 02:03
Me too.
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  Quote TheOrcRemix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2005 at 23:21
me 3
True peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.
Sir Francis Drake is the REAL Pirate of the Caribbean
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  Quote Gazi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Mar-2005 at 13:38

So am I

Freedom is the recognition of necessity.-Friedrich Engels
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  Quote Socrates Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jan-2006 at 04:06
Well, i haven't read the entire text but I know for sure that western slavs did fight as mercenaries for northern kings-Ljutic tribe is an example...
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jul-2006 at 07:33
It's a bit off topic but I, think, important:
Fredegar's chronickle (book IV, p.XIV):
 
"In this year, the tenth of his reign (632-33), the king heard that the Guim, who were also called the Slavs, had invaded Thuringia with a large army. He quickly assembled the Austrasian army to go fight them. He went from Metz, through all of Ardenne, and arrived at Mainz, with an army that contained the best people and the finest knights of all of France and all of Burgundy. As he was drawing up his men to cross the Rhine, the barons of Saxony sent emissaries to him, asking that he abolish the tribute that they had paid in his time and in his father's time, up to the present."
In the following year, the Slavs , whom we mentioned again, began to wage war, on the orders of king Samo; they went beyond the borders of their own kingdom several times, invading Thuringia and other countries, to lay waste the kingdom of France. At that time, king Dagobert went into the kingdom of Austrasia; he crowned his son Sigebert [Sigebert III, b. 630, d. 656; a saint also] in the city of Metz, giving him the entire kingdom, on the advice of the barons and prelates, and with the assent of the noblemen of the entire kingdom. He set up Cunibert, archbishop of Cologne, and Adalgisus as governor and mayor of the palace, gave them a sufficient amount for the treasury, and left a charter with his seal for the gift that he had made. When he had crowned him and raised him to this honor, he went back to France, as was proper. The Austrasian French afterwards would not defend the kingdom in this area against the Guimes and the other nations [GD xxx, xxxi].
(my unerline - kingdom of France meant Austrasia and Neustria at that time)
 
and, 594 year:
"An incident. At this time the Huns came out of Pannonia and fought many bitter battles against the French in Lorraine, but queen Brunhilda and her grandchildren made them return to their own country by giving them gifts of money (The people who were called Huns then are now called Slavs, and the land that was called Pannonia is now called Slavonia)."
 
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  Quote polak966 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jul-2006 at 18:00
most sources ive read claim jomsborg was the viking name for wolin, and wolin did exist, tha is fact.
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  Quote medenaywe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Mar-2011 at 10:50
Vikings appeared in historian texts after fail of Charlemagne Empire!Was used personal navvy by him or lot
of mercenaries pirates served Frank Empire!?! 
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