View Full Version : Viking history question
03-27-04, 01:57 PM
Where can I find out more information about the berzerkers? I was talking to my gf about some nasty Viking habits, like the throwing the weak children off a cliff, and I realized I didnt know anything about berzerkers. My own peoples (to a degree), and I know naught! Shameful.
I looked on Google and all, but mostly came up with sci-fi and fantasy stuff, or the St. Olaf's Rugbee Team homepage
Thanks in advance, yall.
Been a while since that sigs been around.. Its still too big though.. Edited by: Aidden at: 3/27/04 8:21 pm
03-27-04, 02:13 PM
I've always liked this article.
03-27-04, 02:18 PM
There's mention of them in the Sagas, but not anything concrete.
Basically they were warriors that did some rituals to work themselves up, cut themselves, took some drugs, dressed up in bear skins and ran at people with no regard to their own safety. This was a great demoralizer, but if their own troops happened to get in the way that was not a good thing.
Like I said, all accounts of them are probably exadurated to some degree, but they were held in high-esteem/fear in the Viking culture and they scared the pants out of other people.
If you want some good Viking stuff to read, read Njal's Saga, and the Elder Edda to start off with.
03-27-04, 03:49 PM
I asked a Norwegian kid about Berserkers once, and he was like, "Yeah, they did 'shrooms." Hehehe. where anger is big and fueled by hydrogen
03-27-04, 04:08 PM
If you're just after stuff about berserkers in particular be warned that there's not a whole lot of materials on them specifically. Snorra Edda is probably one of the better direct sources, but it's not exactly light reading. Also the berserkers were not a 'class', we're not talking like druids to the Celts, not a clear distinction who was and wasn't. Quite a few of the heroes of the various Sagas have berserker traits but are not mentioned specifically as berserkers. Skalagrim father of Egill, and to some extent his son, were probably both berserkers from the descriptions.
And yes, they did shrooms. The shroom is called in Icelandic berserkja sveppur, named after the berserkers. Pretty little red thing with white spots, I've found it a few times with my parents picking wild shrooms. It can be quite toxic, leathal in fact. It also causes some of the behaviour berserkers were known for such as the fits, like those caused by epilepcy, biting their shields and foaming at the mouth. And of course healthy amount of psychotic behaviour.
As for throwing the weak children over cliffs - not sure what source you got that from but that varied from region to region. That sounds more like the Swedish regions and southern Denmark regions. In general the Swedish Vikings had some pretty bloodthirsty ideas of fun, and the era matters a lot too. The further back you to the closer you get to the Visgoth influences and other Germanic tribes.
For instance in one of the Sagas (don't ask me which one, Egils or Njals I think) describes the Vifilstada fool, who from the description was obviously mentally retarded, and was kept on a leash out in the fields as a dog would, where he'd eat grass and make noises at strangers who came near. It's of note since despite it sounding cruel to us today such treatment was much better than many people would have expected from cultures of that era towards those weaker. The hero escapes a hunting party in that Saga by disguising himself as the fool. He wasn't killed and he was kept fed, clothed and safe (until the hunting party found out they'd been tricked and killed him in retaliation as I recall but that happened to everyone).
All my books are in Icelandic or old norse, which I doubt would be of much use to you. Plus I always prefered the mythology books. But if you're searching add in words like saga or norse. Should cut down on the sci-fi fantasy hits.
03-27-04, 05:19 PM
Quote:Pretty little red thing with white spots
So THAT'S what Mario's been eating.
03-27-04, 09:37 PM
would you like to make some F^*K bearzeeerrrrrkkkeerrrrrrr "I WANT TO FILL YOUR MOUTH WITH SPIDERS"
03-27-04, 10:19 PM
For instance in one of the Sagas (don't ask me which one, Egils or Njals I think) describes the Vifilstada fool
It wasn't Njals.
03-28-04, 12:26 AM
The History Channel had a damn good week on THE BARBARIANS!! Including the Viking berzerkers.
edit: yay for leaving out important words like, channel. HaraEdited by: DarkOmen42 at: 3/28/04 9:28 am
03-28-04, 03:53 AM
The Vikings -vs- Ghengis Khan
now that would have been a war.
03-28-04, 04:44 AM
Well not really as the Mongols appeared something like 500 years after the Vikings and had much more advanced war technology, such as heavy cavalry, something the Vikings did not use at all. I mean yeah Vikings kick ass, but common =D Currently known as Bagheera in Savage and Day of DefeatEdited by: Valrog at: 3/28/04 4:44 am
03-28-04, 06:51 AM
Whoops didnt realize that sig was too big. Ill make something else.
03-28-04, 06:54 AM
I always see the threads after the sigs have been removed... I wonder what it looked like... maybe it was monkeys....
03-28-04, 09:22 AM
Im no history expert, but didnt the vikings employ heavy plated armor centuries ahead of their time? They still would stand no chance against the Mongols, but at the time of the vikings nothing even came close. Edited by: Luute Sixstring at: 3/28/04 9:26 am
Viking armor was mostly normal clothes and hardened leather in some areas. Chain mail was a sign of wealth, a jarl would maybe have a chain mail vest and a sword. The huskarl would have wooden shields and spears and axes. The spear was the most common weapon of the era, followed by the axe, owning a sword was a sign of either a professional dueler or great wealth. Most Viking weaponry had dual purpose in utility, axes for either chopping wood or people, spears for hunting game or people. Helmets would be either metal + hardened leather or pure metal.
Raiding didn't really lend itself to a need for heavy armor, it slows you down too much, it's heavy and clumbersome enough that you'll sink like a rock if you fall off of the knarr. As any EQer knows the key to raiding is mobility, getting there fast, getting out fast, moving on to next target fast. Plus metal armor is too time consuming and expensive to be worth it. We're talking about people where the sword fighters would take a break from the fighting to straighten their swords back because the metal they were made with was so bad.
Hm, Vikings vs Mongols. On the ocean the Vikings would kick the Mongols ass, on land the Mongols would most likely win.
Oh, which leads me to an only slightly related rant. I saw the King Arthur trailer and me and my friends immediately went "WTF KING ARTHUR DID NOT WEAR PLATE ARMOR YOU MORON SONS OF A DOG'S ANAL MAGGOT!". What's with that? He wore chain mail at best! At that time the people in England had roughly the same weaponry and armor as the Vikings did. They didn't wear plate, they were not the shiny sparkling 13th century knights because it frigging wasn't the 13th century!!!! Stop putting him in plate armor and saying it's a true story! God damned asshats.
03-28-04, 11:01 AM
Koru: She comes from the land of the ice and snow, with the midnight sun, where the hotsprings flow. where anger is big and fueled by hydrogen
All your monks are belong to me. /ravage
03-28-04, 02:44 PM
So that's why all the people in the sagas had swords, huh. I thought they were more common than axes, but the rich thing would explain it.
03-28-04, 03:46 PM
Quote:key to raiding is mobility, getting there fast, getting out fast, moving on to next target fast
And remember, pillage before you burn.
03-28-04, 06:24 PM
It was a polar bear yawning. Now its a pic of sea anemones I took at the Seattle Aquarium.
Edit: DAMN! Uploaded wrong one, thats too big. Edited by: Ten Evenings at: 3/28/04 6:27 pm
03-29-04, 11:16 AM
When I think of Beserkers, I always imagine Sam Kinnison screaming...
03-29-04, 11:37 AM
There's also some mention of Berzerkers being linked in with shapeshifting in the sagas, as I recall. It was believed that they really did turn into the bears and wolves whose skins they wore - at least high on shrooms they would have themselves believed it
I definitely need to go visit Koru tho... a pilgrimage to Europe has been on my mind lately anyway, especially since I found a lake in Poland that has my last name, and have been exploring Slavic paganism as well (lot of influence from the Norse just before the Christian conversion, which is why I also follow Norse paths) (Back In Black)
Delissandra Splitshadow - Marauder of Clan X
Grandmaster Poisoner (250), Master Potter (195), Grandmaster Lush (200)
Why is it that the last piece I've needed from EVERY armor set, from Ravenscale on up to Stanos' Wicked is the PANTS?
I honestly am beginning to think it's a conspiracy founded by Glip!
On the king arthur thing, I think he's wearing a plate chestpiece, but chain elsewhere. He's supposed to be Romano British, with the heavy roman influence, so plate cuirass, greave ect over chain is likely.