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Author Topic: Alternate History: Successful Viking Conquest of Britain, 1066  (Read 3124 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ebor
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« on: May 04, 2006, 05:45:06 PM »

One of my favorite 'alternate history scenarios'...

What if Harald Hardrada had defeated Harald Godwinson at Stanford Bridge, and then rushed south to repel the Norman invasion of his new kingdom. England's historical orientation would have been towards Scandinavia instead of towards France, with interesting potential results..

But I'm going far afield here.

Well, recall that Harald Godwinson's troops were worn from marching from Stanford Bridge to Hastings in a matter of days.  What would have had to also be different for Hardrada's men to get to Hastings and not be exhausted?  Recall also that Tostig was part of the Norse invasion force.  It seems likely that he was hoping to replace his brother on the English throne, even if it was under Norway some how.  Then there's the point that there had been plenty of interaction between France, England, Norway, Denmark and more from a long time.  Remember that King Canute was Danish and took the throne from Ethelred the Unready.  So Scandinavian influences were present. (and then there's the Danelaw).

What are some of the possible results of this change of history that you can think of?  I'm quite interested.

Ebor
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2006, 09:49:44 PM »

Well, recall that Harald Godwinson's troops were worn from marching from Stanford Bridge to Hastings in a matter of days.  What would have had to also be different for Hardrada's men to get to Hastings and not be exhausted?  Recall also that Tostig was part of the Norse invasion force.  It seems likely that he was hoping to replace his brother on the English throne, even if it was under Norway some how.  Then there's the point that there had been plenty of interaction between France, England, Norway, Denmark and more from a long time.  Remember that King Canute was Danish and took the throne from Ethelred the Unready.  So Scandinavian influences were present. (and then there's the Danelaw).

What are some of the possible results of this change of history that you can think of?  I'm quite interested.

Ebor

First off, there is no reason to assume that King Harald Hardrada would not have rested his men for two-three days, and then defend his realm from the invasion of the Duke of Normandy. The battle may not have been in Hastings, but would have been in the South of Endgland, excepting that his forces would have come off a fresh victory against the English Harald, and they would have been well rested now.

Secondly, of course there had been plenty of interaction between the countries you mentioned. However, after Hastings the interaction slowed and then stopped with the exception of interactions with what is now France, as the Normans did what many conquering powers would do: consolidate their power by limiting contact with foreign rulers. So, England was forced to gaze towards France, while under the Danes England would have been consolidated and gazing towards Denmark and Sweden.

Imagine the effect on the language we speak alone, as well as potentially not having the 100 years war. Would Agincourt instead have occurred in northern Germany against a different foe? What would the Viking rulers of Scandinavia have done if they could have used English longbowmen in their aggressive armies?
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2006, 10:47:04 PM »

The Vikings did take England. These Vikings were known as "Northmen" or "Normans". The Norman invasion is well documented.
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2006, 10:57:29 PM »

There were Norse influences all over Europe; a Viking kingdom in Ireland. Sovereignty over the Isles of Scotland, Isle of Man, the Orkneys, the Sheltands. A Norse unit was even set up in Constantinople; the Varangians guard. The “Rus” (hence the word Russia) were in control in the east. A Norman kingdom in Sicily was established.
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2006, 08:24:59 AM »

The Vikings did take England. These Vikings were known as "Northmen" or "Normans". The Norman invasion is well documented.


   Exactly- A good point that most people forget is that the Normans were Vikings. They were offered Normandy by the French in order to make them stop their raids. As soon as the Normans were settled though they bent over backwards to assimilate to the local culture. Hardrada's Vikings were less "refined" having never been Frenchy-f(r)ied. If Hardrada's Vikings had conquered, would the English Church had been less Roman in orientation (Hardrada had been a Varangian guard in Constantinople and the Pope had blessed his enemy William) Or was that just his day job and the distance too great and the prestige of the "Apostolic See" too great to overcome especially since the isles had been pointed thouroughly Rome-ward centuries before at the Synod of Whitby and the efforts of the Latin missionaries.
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2006, 04:30:09 PM »

First off, there is no reason to assume that King Harald Hardrada would not have rested his men for two-three days, and then defend his realm from the invasion of the Duke of Normandy.

Well, one has to take into consideration that it was not his home turf.  He'd come in ships and would there be enough supplies to take on a march?  Or would they sail down the coast?  Split the forces to have some guard the ships or sail them?  Would messengers with the news of William's landing have gotten a chance to tell Hardrada the news? The absence of range weapons/bows on the Norwegian side would still lead to a disadvantage. There are many factors to take into account.

Quote
The battle may not have been in Hastings, but would have been in the South of Endgland, excepting that his forces would have come off a fresh victory against the English Harald, and they would have been well rested now.
 

Stanford Bridge is about 250 miles from Hastings, for information's sake. How well rested would they be marching that far?  They wouldn't have had enough horses for everyone to ride.  Even rested, having to travel to find William's forces would take time and that would give William opportunity to find advantageous battle land or to set his troops.  

Have you read much on the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse?

Quote
Secondly, of course there had been plenty of interaction between the countries you mentioned. However, after Hastings the interaction slowed and then stopped with the exception of interactions with what is now France, as the Normans did what many conquering powers would do: consolidate their power by limiting contact with foreign rulers. So, England was forced to gaze towards France, while under the Danes England would have been consolidated and gazing towards Denmark and Sweden.

Maybe, maybe not.  I think that it is misleading to say that "what is now France".  At that time it was a number of different areas and was not consolidated.  Burgundy, the Acquitaine, Normandy were not united, though what became the Plantagenet line in England acquired vast holding through marriages such as that of Henry II to Eleanor of Acquitaine.  

Another factor that applied to focussing to the south was what is called "The Little Ice Age" that made for more ice in the northern seas and shorter growing seasons.  Things that once grew locally now had to come from the south.  Did you know that wine grapes once grew in England?

Quote
Imagine the effect on the language we speak alone, as well as potentially not having the 100 years war.

I can give you a couple of ideas on that here.  The author, Poul Anderson, once wrote a short essay on atoms using only words that would have come from the Anglo-Saxon/Norse/Germanic line "Uncleftish Beholding".  Here's an excerpt:

"The firststuffs have their being as motes called *unclefts*. These are mightly small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a tale of them like unto two followed by twenty-two naughts. Most unclefts link together to make what are called *bulkbits*. Thus, the waterstuff bulkbit bestands of two waterstuff unclefts, the sourstuff bulkbit of two sourstuff unclefts, and so on. (Some kinds, such as sunstuff, keep alone; others, such as iron, cling together in ices when in the fast standing; and there are yet more yokeways.) "

It can be found in its entirety here: http://www.grijalvo.com/Citas/Peculiar_English.htm

Then there's what computer terms likely would have been in Anglo- Saxon here:
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ctb/wordhord.html
 Smiley Wink  Very entertaining.


Quote

Would Agincourt instead have occurred in northern Germany against a different foe? What would the Viking rulers of Scandinavia have done if they could have used English longbowmen in their aggressive armies?

Would the English longbow even have developed under a Norwegian/Danish rule?  It evolved in the 1200's and onward in response to dealing with the Welsh.  It was not an Anglo-Saxon weapon.  
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-57608

There are many unknowns and 'might-have-beens' here.  It is interesting and fun to discuss and speculate.  But we can't know for sure what *would* have been.

Ebor
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2006, 05:01:49 PM »


 ÃƒÆ’‚  Exactly- A good point that most people forget is that the Normans were Vikings. They were offered Normandy by the French in order to make them stop their raids.


The word "Viking" referred to those Scandinavians who went on sea voyages, often to raid and plunder, though some was for trading.  It was something one did.  If one never left the homestead or land, he was an Icelander or a Dane, but he wasn't a "viking".   Another term that covered those from northern Europe was "Norse".

Hrolfr Ganger (Hrolfr the Walker, he was supposedly too big to ride a horse) who became known as "Rollo the Ganger" and finally Duke Robert of Normandy once he accepted Christianity, was Norwegian by accounts and he was part of a group that went a-viking in particular over the north of what we now know as France.  He was good at what he did and eventually made a treaty with King Charles the Simple that gave him the title of Duke of the area known as Normandy.  This was in 911.  I would suggest that the Normans had "Viking" roots, but they themselves by William's time were not "vikings".

Quote
As soon as the Normans were settled though they bent over backwards to assimilate to the local culture. Hardrada's Vikings were less "refined" having never been Frenchy-f(r)ied.

Well, I don't know about "refined". What do you mean by that?  The Norse had art and poetry (a warrior was counted as superior who could also make verse, see for example Egil Skallagrimson)  They had laws and a form of what might be called a parliament.  The "Thing" in Iceland voted to accept Christianity in the year 1000.  

Quote
If Hardrada's Vikings had conquered, would the English Church had been less Roman in orientation (Hardrada had been a Varangian guard in Constantinople

Hardrada's venturing to the Guard came up in the thread that started this one (what did the Old English call St. Mary the Virgin) and I provided a link to an on-line translation of the "Heimskringla" that tells about it.  He went there for adventure and pay.  He didn't go for any religious reasons.  I linked to other accounts of Norsemen going to Mikklegard to join the Varangian Guard, the earliest in the first part of the 900's.  That's where a strong fighter could gain wealth, if he lived, and then bring it back to Iceland or Norway or other parts of the northlands.  The second half of Hardrada's section of the Heimskringla has an account of 1066 and Godwinson and William down near the bottom of the page
http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/hardrade2.html

Quote
Or was that just his day job and the distance too great and the prestige of the "Apostolic See" too great to overcome especially since the isles had been pointed thouroughly Rome-ward centuries before at the Synod of Whitby and the efforts of the Latin missionaries.

I'm not sure what you mean by "his day job", but if you read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle there are numerous references to the clerics of England going to Rome for the pall or Rome sending people to England.  

Ebor
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2006, 09:15:00 PM »

The word "Viking" referred to those Scandinavians who went on sea voyages, often to raid and plunder, though some was for trading. ÂÂ It was something one did. ÂÂ If one never left the homestead or land, he was an Icelander or a Dane, but he wasn't a "viking". ÂÂ  Another term that covered those from northern Europe was "Norse".


    That's interesting, I was unaware of the distinction in terms- thanks.

Hrolfr Ganger (Hrolfr the Walker, he was supposedly too big to ride a horse) who became known as "Rollo the Ganger" and finally Duke Robert of Normandy once he accepted Christianity, was Norwegian by accounts and he was part of a group that went a-viking in particular over the north of what we now know as France.  He was good at what he did and eventually made a treaty with King Charles the Simple that gave him the title of Duke of the area known as Normandy.  This was in 911.  I would suggest that the Normans had "Viking" roots, but they themselves by William's time were not "vikings".

  Went a-viking is also interesting. Is the word Scandinavian in origin and what does it mean? Is it like.......valking (walking), one who is on a journey?
The rest of the sentence is basically what I meant in different words.

Well, I don't know about "refined". What do you mean by that?  The Norse had art and poetry (a warrior was counted as superior who could also make verse, see for example Egil Skallagrimson)  They had laws and a form of what might be called a parliament.  The "Thing" in Iceland voted to accept Christianity in the year 1000. ÂÂ

   Yes, true, every culture has some level of attainment but by refined I meant more civilized from our ancestors' (of the time) perspective. Since civilization refers to the "civis" or city and all that goes with that sort of society and the Vikings enemies in Western Europe were certainly more advanced in this area (one reason they had things worth plundering perhaps?).

Hardrada's venturing to the Guard came up in the thread that started this one (what did the Old English call St. Mary the Virgin) and I provided a link to an on-line translation of the "Heimskringla" that tells about it.  He went there for adventure and pay.  He didn't go for any religious reasons.  I linked to other accounts of Norsemen going to Mikklegard to join the Varangian Guard, the earliest in the first part of the 900's.  That's where a strong fighter could gain wealth, if he lived, and then bring it back to Iceland or Norway or other parts of the northlands.  The second half of Hardrada's section of the Heimskringla has an account of 1066 and Godwinson and William down near the bottom of the page
http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/hardrade2.html

I'm not sure what you mean by "his day job", but if you read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle there are numerous references to the clerics of England going to Rome for the pall or Rome sending people to England. ÂÂ


By his "day job" I meant something that would look good on a young prince's/ warrior's resume. It was the thing to do if you wanted fame, fortune, etc.  And I didn't really think it would be for religious reasons that he went just that he might have picked up some feeling for the east while he was there. Though I would suspect not. Were the Norsemen of his army still mainly pagan or had the people generally converted by that time?
   Thank you for the link, I'll check it out..........


God Bless!

Ebor
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2006, 11:01:00 PM »

The word "Viking" referred to those Scandinavians who went on sea voyages, often to raid and plunder, though some was for trading. ÂÂ It was something one did. ÂÂ If one never left the homestead or land, he was an Icelander or a Dane, but he wasn't a "viking". ÂÂ  Another term that covered those from northern Europe was "Norse".

Hrolfr Ganger (Hrolfr the Walker, he was supposedly too big to ride a horse) who became known as "Rollo the Ganger" and finally Duke Robert of Normandy once he accepted Christianity, was Norwegian by accounts and he was part of a group that went a-viking in particular over the north of what we now know as France.  He was good at what he did and eventually made a treaty with King Charles the Simple that gave him the title of Duke of the area known as Normandy.  This was in 911.  I would suggest that the Normans had "Viking" roots, but they themselves by William's time were not "vikings".

Well, I don't know about "refined". What do you mean by that?  The Norse had art and poetry (a warrior was counted as superior who could also make verse, see for example Egil Skallagrimson)  They had laws and a form of what might be called a parliament.  The "Thing" in Iceland voted to accept Christianity in the year 1000. ÂÂ

Hardrada's venturing to the Guard came up in the thread that started this one (what did the Old English call St. Mary the Virgin) and I provided a link to an on-line translation of the "Heimskringla" that tells about it.  He went there for adventure and pay.  He didn't go for any religious reasons.  I linked to other accounts of Norsemen going to Mikklegard to join the Varangian Guard, the earliest in the first part of the 900's.  That's where a strong fighter could gain wealth, if he lived, and then bring it back to Iceland or Norway or other parts of the northlands.  The second half of Hardrada's section of the Heimskringla has an account of 1066 and Godwinson and William down near the bottom of the page
http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/hardrade2.html

I'm not sure what you mean by "his day job", but if you read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle there are numerous references to the clerics of England going to Rome for the pall or Rome sending people to England. ÂÂ

Ebor
The term Viking continued to be used by those people who had settled in lands in Ireland etc. The Normans were just another group of Vikings out for conquest
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2006, 11:33:04 PM »

Went a-viking is also interesting. Is the word Scandinavian in origin and what does it mean? Is it like.......valking (walking), one who is on a journey?

"vik" means a bay, creek (as in something found along the shore, not like a narrow stream in the mountains) or inlet in the nordic languages like Icelandic and Norwegian and Swedish.  See here: http://www.zece.com/icelandic/?a=sh&le=v  for an Icelandic-English Dictionary.
One theory is that it refers to people around the large "vik" that was the waters between Norway/Sweden and Denmark from what I've read.  Another is that since ships generally traveled fairly close to land (no fancy navigational aids) and that was where one raided or traded along a coast with its "viks". ÂÂ

Quote
Yes, true, every culture has some level of attainment but by refined I meant more civilized from our ancestors' (of the time) perspective. Since civilization refers to the "civis" or city and all that goes with that sort of society and the Vikings enemies in Western Europe were certainly more advanced in this area (one reason they had things worth plundering perhaps?).

Maybe.  But there were cities in Norse lands and the findings there are often of a high degree if art and ability.  The grave goods from the Oseburg ship are not primitive.  Dublin was founded as a Norse trade town that grew to a "kingdom".  Then there were the settlements of Northumbria centered around "Jorvik" or York.  It was counted as a Norse Kingdom (they did take it over from the original inhabitants and then built on that).  There have been some fascinating discoveries of the remains of Jorvik.  Someday I would like to visit the museum ÂÂ
http://www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk/jorvik-navigation.htm
Here is a map of the Danelaw, the in effect Norse kingdom in England:
http://www.bownet.org/CyberBUS/vikings/viking_map_of_danelaw.htm

Also, the viking wasn't just for raiding but could mean trade voyages too.  There were different ships depending on what was the task.  The "Knarr" was wider to that it could hold more goods.  The Longship was for swift attacks.
Here's a bit on the ships:
http://www.bownet.org/CyberBUS/vikings/viking_ships.htm


I haven't studied the literature of the Normans or other other areas as much.  But there was a rich tradition of poetry and histories in both the Anglo-Saxon and Norse areas.  This would make an interesting study as to what differences (if any) were there in the culture of Normandy and say, the Danes. ÂÂ

Quote
By his "day job" I meant something that would look good on a young prince's/ warrior's resume. It was the thing to do if you wanted fame, fortune, etc.  And I didn't really think it would be for religious reasons that he went just that he might have picked up some feeling for the east while he was there. Though I would suspect not. Were the Norsemen of his army still mainly pagan or had the people generally converted by that time?

It wasn't so much looking good on a "resume".  When you read the link for the saga, Harald went east and south after things didn't go well after a battle; it was more of a exile so that he would last longer then his half-brother. With the experience and wealth and men he gained there he was able to return to Norway and gain the throne. The Norse were generally Christian by this time and had been for nearly 100 years. St. Olaf/King Olaf Sigurdson's saga is also in the Heimskringla starting here:
http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/haraldson1.html

Ebor

edited to fix spelling and links
I hope someday the :nsb thing will go away.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2006, 11:39:46 PM by Ebor » Logged

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