Describe Viking Raiding Practices. How Did The Carolingians Respond To Viking Invasions Into Their Territory? How Did Alfred In England Respond?

1001 words - 4 pages

After finally subduing the Saracen threat from the east, the eighth century brought to Europe a new invader--this time, unexpectedly from the north. These Scandinavians seemed but harmless savages conducting minor raids in the beginning, but they would soon wreak havoc throughout the Carolingian civilization. Although the main cause of their first attacks on western Europe are not known, from the start of the ninth century these Viking raids were already spreading so quickly that there was no immediate end in sight (by the mid-ninth century, it was estimated that the Viking Rorik had under his command 600 ships raiding on the Elbe river alone (Bradbury 21)).Because, at first, the main objective of the Viking raids was mere plunder, the original targets of their melee were the easier targets of monasteries, trading outposts and any other lightly guarded target of movable wealth (Cambridge U 18-19). It was the objective of plunder and the absence of a desire to siege and acquire territory that lent the Viking strategy a path to success. Their raiding practices, in the beginning, consisted of the rapid deployment of 30-50 men aboard their longships--with a design that made it possible to travel the deep seas as well as the shallow rivers that ran deep into the European mainland.They would later combine the expert use of their longships, which already made it near impossible for contemporary Carolingian armies to track (also the randomness of the raids in such a vast area made any predictions obsolete), with a full swing transformation into the use of horses. At that point, they would use the ships to transport their armies and its supplies to a certain region, and then with supplies close at hand, the now horse-mobile Vikings could strike even faster at river/sea-side cities, and strike further inland away from their traditional target villages.Although there were earlier attempts to combat the Viking raids, such as Charlemagne's organization of English Channel defense via war ships, and Offa of Mercia requirement of military service from the church in 792 (Cambridge U 19), the most common practice among the Carolingians was the payment of tributes. These tributes, a "sure sign of the reality of [the Viking] threat" (Bradbury 22) consisted of anything from thousands of pounds of gold, silver, or other valuable metals to corn, wine, and livestock, and were paid by a city in lieu of the Viking's sacking the town through force. The problem with the tribute method was that although the particular group of Vikings that accepted the payment were, more often than not, loyal to their word not to attack the city, there was no overhead governing system of the various Viking groups that could prevent the next Viking raiding party from appearing and demanding tribute.Because of this passive approach, coupled with the internal strife of Frankia that followed after Charlemagne's death, the Viking raids became progressively worse and more frequent. This was made...

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