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A History of the Vikings (1968)

par Gwyn Jones

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1,3101410,754 (3.74)13
'What a superb book this is! Wise, well-informed, judicious and infinitely readable.' -Magnus Magnusson, Scotsman'an utterly splendid book, quite the most brilliantly written, balanced and explanative general work on the Vikings ever to appear in English or...in any language.' -Erik Wahlgren, Scandinavian Studies'A highly readable history.' -Oxford Time'no better book on the Vikings has ever been written, and it is one which every educated person with any interest in history should know about... Readers will be delighted to discover the eloquent and sparkling prose of a natural Welsh bard and storyteller who was one of the shining lights of University College, Cardiff. The man writes beautifully. There are not many history books one can pick up and start reading anywhere just for the sheer enjoyment of literary craftsmanship and even fewer as authoritative as this.' -Lloyds List 13/04/1994… (plus d'informations)
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Se trata de un buen libro de visión general sobre lo que fue la historia de los vikingos, normandos o varegos, que de los tres modos se denominaron según la zona del extenso territorio por el que diseminaron sus correrías a lo largo de la Edad Media. Por lo que a lo más interesante para mí toca, se obvia su aventura ibérica, ya que la península les quedó vedada para poco más que el pillaje a escape, después de la batalla de Tablada (11 de noviembre de 844), que ni se cita en el libro. Sin que se pueda negar el gran papel aglutinador que tuvieron en su tiempo, ni el terror que despertaban sus "raids", este episodio evidencia la gran leyenda que hay en torno los vikingos, la cual se reduce más todavía si se tiene en cuenta que el único rey que les opuso resistencia mediante una armada organizada en el Atlántico, el sajón Alfredo el Grande, consiguió salir con éxito en la empresa, y que tampoco lograban internarse en el Mediterráneo más allá de las puertas de Italia, donde empezaban a verse las galeras de Bizancio patrullando las aguas. De hecho, a Constantinopla llegaron por tierra (907), cruzando a lo largo de toda Rusia, casi treinta años después de haber establecido una capital en Kiev. ( )
  Eucalafio | Nov 14, 2020 |
Excellent scholarly writing on the Vikings but so short of photos. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Not much to look at but a basic history. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
It took me a little while to nibble my way through this fairly hefty history of the Viking Age (850 AD - 1066 AD). Jones wrote this history originally in 1964 but updated it in the 1980's. It is considered authoritative amongst the various scholarship out there, but it is a general history and covers a lot of territory. It's broken up in nice chunks ranging from culture, religion, trade, the various movements east, west, and south. Jones' main gist is that there is a lot of undue emphasis put on Vikings raping and pillaging all over the place. It's not that they didn't do that, but it's just that they were also doing a lot of other stuff like trading, making art, exploring, farming, and hiring themselves out as mercenaries all over the place. The stereotypical ravaging viking is so engrained in historical memory mainly because that was the only thing written down about Vikings during their time. This is because when the Norse went "viking" they liked to hit easy targets like nice plump monasteries on the coast of Britain and Ireland. No defenses, lots of valuables, weakling monks, why not raid them. Unfortunately the theological nerds had their revenge because they were the only ones really writing anything down for posterity, at least when it came to the Vikings. Most of these accounts are exaggerated too so the Vikings kinda got an inflated rep from the get go.
There is a really good chapter on Iceland, Greenland, and North America. Quite fascinating, especially after watching Valhalla Rising. Iceland really panned out as a Scandinavian colony and got really good at producing poets and sagas. This is mainly because most of the slaves and concubines that they took there were Irish Celts, who brought with them a certain set of skills and habits. It's Iceland, so I guess there isn't a lot to do but write epic war poetry and watch the volcanoes blow.
I didn't know about Normandy being basically a Viking colony turned French. Nor did I know it was basically a right of passage for the more violently inclined Norse to mosey on down to Byzantium to serve the Emperor there as a man-at-arms for a few years to get your fighting notches marked on your belt. They really did range far afield: present day Canada to Baghdad, and before the year 1000! In other words, they were pretty bad ass. Their decline seems to me to be caused by the evolution from nations to kingdoms, as well as the conversion to Christianity. I sort of wish that the Norse communities had kept their Norse pantheon and remained a "heathen" people, but alas, it was not to be. However, if you look at those countries today, they are some of the most atheistic, productive, countries in the world with the highest quality of life marks to boot.
In closing, if you want to read the sagas, or you already have and you need a nice dose of historical skepticism, this is a good book to start with. Also, it has an excellent bibliography pointing the interested reader in the right direction for more specific topics. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Sep 21, 2014 |
This is a very good overview of the Viking Age. I have used it as a textbook for a couple of college courses. My one critique is that Jones chose to break up the chronology a bit too much, in order to delve into topics, but that's mostly a pet peeve of mine. All in all, a very good book on the subject. ( )
1 voter Steve.Bivans | Jul 20, 2014 |
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'What a superb book this is! Wise, well-informed, judicious and infinitely readable.' -Magnus Magnusson, Scotsman'an utterly splendid book, quite the most brilliantly written, balanced and explanative general work on the Vikings ever to appear in English or...in any language.' -Erik Wahlgren, Scandinavian Studies'A highly readable history.' -Oxford Time'no better book on the Vikings has ever been written, and it is one which every educated person with any interest in history should know about... Readers will be delighted to discover the eloquent and sparkling prose of a natural Welsh bard and storyteller who was one of the shining lights of University College, Cardiff. The man writes beautifully. There are not many history books one can pick up and start reading anywhere just for the sheer enjoyment of literary craftsmanship and even fewer as authoritative as this.' -Lloyds List 13/04/1994

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