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Viking fashionistas?

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Cambridge University hopes to persuade British children that Vikings were not as violent as they have been depicted. Supposedly they were fastidious, by the standards of the time, liked poetry and were interested in the fashion of their leggings. I think this Cambridge corrective might be a trifle one-sided.

Whether they were Danes or Norsemen they were regarded as Vikings if they engaged in the activities of pirates and plunderers. Undoubtedly some Vikings were interested in poetry - they were enthusiastic about sagas of warrior prowess. And they did become good farmers in England - the trouble was the land they chose to farm already belonged to somebody else.

Arguing against Cambridge's sanitized interpretation is the fact that Alfred fought nine battles with Vikings in one year alone. He fought these battles because they were pillaging and burning Wessex. When he defeated them in AD 878, he established peace only by fortifying his towns.

The horrors visited on Paris by the Vikings are well-documented. They repeatedly sacked France. In 884, they sailed up the Medway and attacked Rochester, but the city’s defenses held out until Alfred arrived. In 892-893 another huge host of Vikings invaded Wessex, but Alfred and his son Edward called up the fyrd and led the men of Wessex - warriors and farmers - to victory. In 894 Vikings moved up the River Lea and attacked London. Alfred moved his army between the Lea and London so the citizens could gather their harvest then constructed two forts to trap the Viking fleet. . .

Not exactly interested only in bathing and fashion, I'd say.

But their love of exploration and travel and their rare courage - these qualities have contributed to British history for more than a thousand years.

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