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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Amber's Swedish History - Chapter 3


The Great Migration

In the centuries following the birth of Christ everything was up for grabs. Some states disappeared, new ones took their place. Men were fighting each other everywhere there was enough room to swing an axe. The Chinese built a wall to keep barbarians out. Of course it’s different now, much more peaceful, except for the USSR breakup, Israel, and Palestine, Afghanistan, Korea, Viet Nam, Ukraine, Tibet . . . . The scenery changes, but the acts stay pretty much the same, if you ask me.



A lot of Swedes became mercenaries and fought with the Romans. The Swedish word sold means ‘pay’. The word, soldier, came from a Roman coin, solidus, which was what soldiers got paid with in those days.



Religious beliefs were also changing. The old Norse gods were: Odin, Thor and Frey. Odin rode a horse with eight legs and wrote poetry in his spare time. Nobody knows what the horse did – probably shopped for shoes.

The Swedes named days of the week after these gods. They called Thursday, Torsdag, after Thor, the god of thunder. Odin got Wednesday, Onsdag. I won’t bore you with the rest. You can probably guess where Friday came from. Animals were sacrificed to these gods, and when that didn’t work they started sacrificing humans. Christians missionaries began to arrive and were the sacrifice of choice when they could be found.


The Vikings where Scandinavian farmers who learned how to build ships, and decided to start plundering. They were very good at both plundering and shipbuilding.


Viking Ship at Roskild Museum – Denmark

They conquered London, besieged Paris, and stormed Seville. This went on for the next 250 years. Christian missionaries from Germany continued coming to Sweden and the Vikings plunderd them as well. Around the time of the first crusades a few Vikings got tired of plundering and became Christians. Other Vikings joined the crusades so that they could plunder for God.

A lot of missionaries were killed, but they finally got a toehold in Skåne and Gotland. Things started to get more organized. Petty Kings began appearing and shared power with the church, who said their rule was ordained by God. The Kings told people to believe what the church told them. The Swedes suddenly found themselves subject to authorities they’d never heard of before, but managed to remain one of the most heathen counties in all of Europe. They still believed in, Elves, Easter witches, trolls and stuff like that.

Erik Segersäll was the first king. He was known as, Erik The Victorious, but he didn’t really do very much except enjoy being king.



Some historians say there never was an Erik, that he is just a folk story. Others say there were three Eriks . . . whatever.

Swedish coins began to be minted in 995 A.D. by King Olaf Eriksson who historians say was the son of Erik The Victorious, even though they’re not sure there ever was an Erik the Victorious.
King Olof was known as the Tax King, so he was probably for real, like – death and taxes.


The Olof Coin

Next Wednesday – The Middle Ages

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