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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    did they actually carry axes?i read in some historical book published by DK,it said that Varangian guards carried swords and wore chain mail armour and wooden kite sheilds,its either they got it wrong or the guys at CA wanted to give the byzantines some power becuase they have the second worst selection after the mohads.
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    Member Member Stormer's Avatar
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    not sure proberly did ...
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    Corporate Hippie Member rasoforos's Avatar
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    i think they knew how to work an axe because they were vikings , but somehow i believe that they would use byzantine made armor and weapons since they were more or less a tactical unit , not just a simple mercenary unit , so they probably used swords as well.
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    Member Member Cooperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]guys at CA wanted to give the byzantines some power becuase they have the second worst selection after the mohads
    byzantines are one of the best factions there are, no worries about excommunication, some great units only available to you and a challenging starting position with enemies on all sides, who could not love playing as the byz.
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    Corporate Hippie Member rasoforos's Avatar
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    yep i have to agree , the byzantines are cool to play and have really cool units , how can someone say they dont?
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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Citera[/b] (rasoforos @ Dec. 25 2002,12:01)]i think they knew how to work an axe because they were vikings , but somehow i believe that they would use byzantine made armor and weapons since they were more or less a tactical unit , not just a simple mercenary unit , so they probably used swords as well.
    Why do all think vikings only used axes???

    They mostly used swords when they fought, exept when they had to fight slaves and lesser ones they used their axe.

    It was about honor. And the slaves in scandinavia at that time was allowed to use an axe in their work.. well i could go on with much more.. but i dont have that time rite now.

    Just so you all know vikings mostly used swords exept when they had to deal with slaves or lesser ones.
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    According to the Osprey Men-at-Arms book "Byzantine Armies 725-1000 AD" The Varangians mainly did use huge war axes. They weren't really a tactical unit though -- they were usually kept as palace guards and the emperor's bodyguards (since he couldn't really count on his own treacherous officers). The Varangians weren't actual Vikings most of the time -- some where, but for the most part the Varangians were Russians and displaced Swedes.
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    Spawn of Nyarlathotep Member GeWee's Avatar
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    TheViking, the most common weapon for the vikings was neither axes nor swords; it was spears.
    Swords were very expensive to make and were seen as status symbols just like in feudal Japan.
    Regarding axes and swords I think I remember from somewhere that axes were more widely used in open combat (on the battlefield) while swords probably were used more often in 'duels'.

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    Member Member TheViking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Citera[/b] (GeWee @ Dec. 25 2002,21:30)]TheViking, the most common weapon for the vikings was neither axes nor swords; it was spears.
    Swords were very expensive to make and were seen as status symbols just like in feudal Japan.
    Regarding axes and swords I think I remember from somewhere that axes were more widely used in open combat (on the battlefield) while swords probably were used more often in 'duels'.
    i dont know about you or how it is in the school today, but from first year at school we studdied about the vikings, and then later in gymnasium I studdied them as a hobby, later i started to have their belifs about their gods and Valhalla.

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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Well they are not really that diverse like british or turks(who have a lot of unqiue units).and most of their units are better of in early becuase in late its gonna be a problem..
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    Spawn of Nyarlathotep Member GeWee's Avatar
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    Sorry TheViking, I didn't mean to come off so 'lecturlerly', however the facts I've looked at speak for themselves..

    The weapons (weapon parts) most often found in graves and excavations from that period are spear- and arrow tips (yes, contrary to common belief the vikings used bow and arrow ), while axes and swords are more rare (the latter being more rare than the former). This is thought to be because they were very expensive to make, thus only rich families and their 'hird' (personal guards) could afford them.
    Those who weren't so rich (peasants and the like) could naturally not afford expensive swords so they had to use spears, javelins, bows and axes.

    At least this is what I've learned from various books as well as from the internet. If you have different facts then I then by all means pass them along. I'm only human so I could be wrong you know.

    (whoops.. messed up the quote)




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    Member Member Brother Derfel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (GeWee @ Dec. 25 2002,18:04)]Sorry TheViking, I didn't mean to come off so 'lecturlerly', however the facts I've looked at speak for themselves..

    The weapons (weapon parts) most often found in graves and excavations from that period are spear- and arrow tips (yes, contrary to common belief the vikings used bow and arrow ), while axes and swords are more rare (the latter being more rare than the former). This is thought to be because they were very expensive to make, thus only rich families and their 'hird' (personal guards) could afford them.
    Those who weren't so rich (peasants and the like) could naturally not afford expensive swords so they had to use spears, javelins, bows and axes.

    At least this is what I've learned from various books as well as from the internet. If you have different facts then I then by all means pass them along. I'm only human so I could be wrong you know.

    (whoops.. messed up the quote)
    I am afraid I have to agree with you a nd dispell TheVikings beliefe, the spear was the most common weapon.
    In the dark ages the sword was seen as a status symbol, that only men of high rank would weild. And rightly so for the sword was an expensive and difficult weapon to construct, and learn how to weild succesfuly.
    This is refelected by the main battle tactic of the darkages, that of the sheild wall. The two armies would form dencely packed lines of men with their sheilds interlocked and their spears raised above the sheilds. They would then march and conect with each other and basicaly start a pushing match for most of the battle. think of it like a rugby scrum only less violent . Casualties during this stage of the battle were very low, it was not until one wall gave way that casualties started piling up.
    Just so you know i am not making this up, i have read extensivly into this period, and am stuying to become an Archaelogist.
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    Member Member Spetulhu's Avatar
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    Not only were swords expensive, good swordsmiths were not exactly common either. IIRC many 'Viking' sword finds are Frankish swords, bought or stolen. The Frankish rulers in Viking-troubled areas did forbid people to sell swords to northmen, but that only raised the prices...



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    You can't ALWAYS judge history by archeological findings. I mean, there is always the possibility that somewhere in the hundreds of years between a sword's creation and the present day, some iron smith might have found it and melted it down, and made another sword -- or even some nice jewelry for the misses. How would we know that the sword ever existed?

    However, in this case, I also agree that the Vikings mainly used spears -- just like almost every other European warrior of that day. The spear was cheap, effective, easy to learn, and easy to make.
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    Member Member Mr Frost's Avatar
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    Whilst it is true that swords were relatively expensive , so too are houses and cars today and yet many people have {but very few are buried with them } .
    A sword was indeed powerfully symbolic , mine is a tool and symbol of my beliefs {it's a long story} , but a warrior {as opposed to say a farmer or artisan who would not need such expensive specialised tool as his trade -which would have required it's own set of special and expensive tools- took most of his capital to perpetuate as a warriors' trade took most of his} or anyone who owned a sword would be likely too pass it down to his eldest son {unless he became , say a scald or jeweler , then it would likely be to the eldest warrior son} rather than having it burried with him . A warrior would ALSO have spears , an ax {or several} and such and these would be what he "took with him" when dead . Swords were too valuable to burry unless the owner was very wealthy {and even then , a famous sword would still be passed on for the honour it carried with it } .

    Those only who use axes and spears in battle were likely either poor , amatures {farmers might decide to go a Viking for fun and profit } or perhaps limited by a wyrd , ill concieved oath {"...then I'll only ever use an ax *hick*" . When he sobers up Thorgrim realises he if he doesn't keep his drunken oath , that Jarl Braggi will use that to question his honour , and that was something Thorgrim knew he could not stand to have people think . Thorgrim was not the brightest of Danes , but he was honourable } or circumstance of fate .

    The great Axes of Harolds' Huscarls and the Axes of the Varangians were the exception rather than the norm . They were very particular weapons . Remember also , that any professional knows that each different job will likely require a different tool A sword is one kind of tool with it's own particular traits , a spear is another and is better in some situations , and an Ax yet again , but a sword is the most useful for a warrior of the times . The Norse were relatively prosperous {lots of wood , fish , trade and innitiative was a great start to prosperity in those days} and their sword smiths were second to non



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    Member Member ick_of_pick's Avatar
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    Anybody read the book Byzantium: The Apogee, by john julius norwich? any way its a history book that is entirely about the byzantines and is told like a story book, but it refers to the varangians as "axe swinging demons who would smash through horse and man alike" the truth is that varangians would be equipped with halberds and swords when protecting the emperor in his palace, but used axes for fighting so the swords were more for looks and status...

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    Sovereign of Soy Member Lehesu's Avatar
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    The way I look at it is this: You can't say they all had the same equipment. For example, if you look at a U.S. Army squad and its weapons, not everyone will be wielding an M-16; some will have M-4s, others M-60s. The same with the Guard. Some had swords, some axes, others spears, all depending on their preference, fighting style, and current assignment. Rarely would you see a unit with the EXACT same swords, shields, helms, etc.
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    Member Member Mr Frost's Avatar
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    Lehesu ... generally speaking , you would be right , however the Varangians were a specificly retained unit for not only combat , but {and likely every bit as importantly to the Byzantine Emperors} also for cerimonial show of power .
    They were also there to project a steriotype of a wild , feirce and very dangerous {which they were in actuallity was a wisey chosen bonus to the Emerors} northern barbarian .
    They may very well have "accesorised" their kit in actual battle , but would very likely have been specefically outfitted to present a visual {and psychological} impact enmass to remind the average Byzantine citizen {and visitors} to "don't f#@k with the Emporer " . I imagine that the great majority were presented much the same weapons and armour in that unit .
    Of course , I don't really know for sure ... your reasoning is quite sound .

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    In another unrelated post comparing Knights to Samurai, I learned that the Vikings are very good swordsmiths. Infact the Romans would actually buy their swords, because they were some of the best blades around aside from Damascus, as they used the same crafting style. They were steel bladed, Iron cored swords that retained their edge while still being easy and cheap enough to make. I'm sure the Vikings did use axes in combat, as THeViking stated only against 'lessers'. Wouldn't any Non-viking be a lesser? Pretty big loophole to use a very effective 'slaves' weapon.

    And bows were also common amongst hunters. I'm willing to conject that 90% of those archery remains were those of hunters and phesants. No Viking warrior would use a bow, ecspecially in a land full of forest. It'd be a waste of time.

    As for spears.. SPears were always the weapon of choice for a phesant levy. That shouldn't matter, we should be makeing the distinction between Viking warrior and phesant soldier, right?
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    Spawn of Nyarlathotep Member GeWee's Avatar
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    Katasaki Hirojima wrote:
    "Infact the Romans would actually buy their swords, because they were some of the best blades around aside from Damascus, as they used the same crafting style."

    So the romans, whose empire lasted until AD 476, bought swords from the vikings (AD 793-1050) did they?

    Aside from that fact the vikings at first bought or stole swords from France and Germany (even Italy). It wasn't until later years the vikings were able to manufacture their own swords.

    Edit: damn.. messed up the quote again..




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    Magister Vitae Senior Member Kraxis's Avatar
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    GeWee, you are right that the Vikings bought/stole Frankish swords and then perfected them to their own purposes. Before that they relied on smaller swords fairly similar to the Gladius, in fact they looked very much Frodo's sword with a fairly big handle and a slim middlesection. Beautiful weapons but hardly very effective in battle, a status symbol.
    But this was back in the 3-400s.

    Just because the Vikings didn't go out an plunder during the Roman age doesn't mean they weren't Vikings. You can call them what you want, but they had the same culture as the later Vikings, the same architecture and the same way of life. The main difference is that they did not have sails in their longboats making them confined to the areas that bore them.
    But a man that visited a Viking village in the 900s would not see that much of a difference from the same village in the 300s.
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    actually the term viking has a few meanings (1) refers to the actual acts of raiding etc and (2) to a fairly homogenous group of people from a geographical region that did the raiding. therefore when one talks of vikings, you should limit it to the generally agreed upon period from the raid of lindisfarne to the battle of stamford bridge (basically 793-1066)basically as defined by historians.

    as far as using archaeology, of course this is the best way to tell what ancient peopes were like. when weapons, personal items, structures, are found to be in a relative range of frequency throughout a large number of sites - you can make a strong statistical deduction from that info. archaeology is actual fact and tangible - and all things being equal is the best way understand the past.

    all the info indicates that axes and spears were far more prevalent in usage among the "average" viking warrior than the sword - as is the case of most dark ages/ middle ages militaries. remember that viking is a generic term - and so speaking in generalities - swords werent all that common - they were expensive and a status symbol - being that almost everyone at this time was "dirt poor" and that if everyone had a sword - its not really a status symbol is it?

    someone made the a bad analogy earlier saying that "cars are expensive now but we all have them - therefore lots o ppl had swords" this is a very bad analogy. the standard of living for a dark age ppl and modern western europeans is nowhere near the same. Having a nice sword / armor / horse wasnt like having a car - it was like being a millionaire.

    another mentioned making distinctions between warrior classes - and yes this should be done - but do not make the mistake thinking every viking was a housecarle either.

    another thing to note - lots of things change depending upon the time frame and it is here that alot of misunderstanding can occur. peg your comments to peoples, places and dates for clarification. In a general discussion about vikings - its not a good idea to talk about germanic peoples in the 300s AD as vikings or Danes/swedes/russians in 1235 AD as vikings either. you could have an enitrely differnt discussion about whether there were vikings in the 300s AD




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    also to zauba

    The ethnic composition of the varangian guard changed over time - but for the most part they were of viking origin or english.

    Varangians - were a group/name of vikings, as i recall somewhat south of novgorod, also the russians that you refer to were Rus vikings - not "russians" in the modern sense of the word - so they were very much viking.

    As far as what the varangians were used for - often personal bodyguards and elite garrison forces, but there are many occassions of them being used in large formations. there is at least one mention of 6000 varangians on campaign with the emporer - so at times they were certainly a large and powerful force

    you should also recall the treaty made in the mid 11th century between the byzantines and the Kievan Rus whereby the Rus were granted trading rights in exchange for srving the empire on military expeditions.

    The varangian guard was around for a very long time - and like often did within the empire - much changed with each new emporer, or according to circumstances, or with the passage of time.

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    Magister Vitae Senior Member Kraxis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Galestrum @ Dec. 29 2002,10:13)]actually the term viking has a few meanings (1) refers to the actual acts of raiding etc and (2) to a fairly homogenous group of people from a geographical region that did the raiding. therefore when one talks of vikings, you should limit it to the generally agreed upon period from the raid of lindisfarne to the battle of stamford bridge (basically 793-1066)basically as defined by historians.

    In a general discussion about vikings - its not a good idea to talk about germanic peoples in the 300s AD as vikings or Danes/swedes/russians in 1235 AD as vikings either. you could have an enitrely differnt discussion about whether there were vikings in the 300s AD
    I take it was mainly meant towards my post.

    Well, the term was not really used by the Vikings themselves, they called themselves whatever they liked such as the Men from Roskilde or similar.
    But since the culture of the people-to-be-called-Vikings-later-by-other-peoples was the same from the 300s to the 1000s you can certainly argue that the Vikings existed before anybody knew they were here.

    Indeed the Vikingage started at Lindisfarne but did it really cahnge that much for the vikings themselves? No
    To say there were no so called Vikings before Lindisfarne is much the same as saying the Mongols did not exist befroe they conquered China. They did exist under the names of their clans and smaller tribes, they were the same as the Mongols (and they never called themselves that as they continued to use their old names).
    A people is defined by their culture not what other people label onto them. That might be what they might be remembered from... other people.

    So the people were the same before Lindisfarne up to Stamford Bridge, you might not call them Vikings all the time but that is only because you define them from the victims point of view. They were the same people during this time.
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  26. #26

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    perhaps you should actually read what you quoted from me and see that i said "as defined by historians" - everything you just stated i knew.

    As far as there being vikings in the year 300 AD - that is very much open to interpretation. Additionally, the further back in time you go the harder it gets to say "look, there is a viking". The reason i stated that up front was to confine the discussion.

    Obviously the vikings did not just appear from nowhere and show up at lindisfarne, but then again its very hard to pinpoint anything truly "viking" pre 600s or so AD. Why? simply put, the vikings were a germanic people, but not all germanic people were vikings. Were the goths, saxons, angles, suebians, vandals, marchomanni vikings? or were they themselevs. They all shared the same relative geography, and a similar culture and ethnicity, but where does one end and the other begin? by this line of logic, we could attempt to trace vikings back to the stone age if we wanted too.

    If you feel that you know to such a degree of certainty, then you are far smarter than anyone else, or have information available that historians do not, because ive seen very few scholars say "look there is absolute proof of viking here in 600 AD" let alone 300 AD.

    Now what i think you are saying is - in the year 300 AD in Northern europe, there were peoples that had similar languages, customes, cultures, ethnicity, etc as the vikings - well we agree. Whether one can point to a recognized tribe in 300 AD and say definitively "they are viking" i doubt it. Also much of what is known about these people is very little, and written by romans during this time, being that these people did not have a written language for the most part of their own (during the time of rome)

    As far as defining the vikings from the victims point of view - of course they are defined that way - otherwise there would be no such discussion of vikings, like you said vikings were defined by non-vikings, therefore the term viking is limited by its very definition. otherwise wed have to discuss the raid of so and so the red, or of the this or that tribe. like much of the rest of europe, the viking world was very decentralized politically.

  27. #27
    Magister Vitae Senior Member Kraxis's Avatar
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    I'm not saying that the Vikings came about in the 300s, just that the people that lived back then were much the same as those people tend to call Vikings. Remember that the Jutes did exactly what the Vikings did later.

    The people I talk about had the same gods as the Vikings, not just similar gods but the same (some more or some less depending on area), while the Germanic tribes to the south shared a very similar spectrum of gods the names were very different Wutan and those. Granted literacy was not something that the people could flaunt, but what I have learned is that at that time the languages began to differ and the northern germanics becam seperated from the southern ones.

    It is impossible to back much futher than about the 300s as that was the time of the invasion by the Danes, who in turn ousted the Kimbri (at least I think that is the time), which then began a march to the south and eventually settled in what is now northeastern Italy.

    The Danes brought the gods with them from whereever they came, and settled down building a society around the village. Before that they had had more centralized leaders like the Goths and Vandals. That is exactly how the vikings lived, on a basis of villages, and that is also why the first raids were done by small bands of a few hundred at max.

    I don't care what other think, but I believe that should we place a Viking in a Dane villgae he would not have to adapt much concerning habits, language and gods. He would have to change his clothings and his armament but those are subject to quick changes and can't be considered that important. Had we sent him into a germanic village in southern Saxony he would be familiar with many things but he would have a hard time talking to them and many habits would be foreign for him. A Kimbri would have a much easier time.

    To me the Vikings (of Denmark) ended just before Canute as the kingdom of Denmark had been converted to Cristianity, while in Norway the old beliefs were still prevailing for some time, therefor we don't see many Danish raids or invasions after Sweyn Forkbeard (Svend TveskŠg) but the Norwegians continued even after Harald's death.
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