Differences Between the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian Vikings


Today when many people talk about the Vikings, they speak broadly on them being one group of people. The truth is that the Vikings in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were not entirely homogeneous.

What are the most common Viking mis...
What are the most common Viking misconceptions?

The Danish Vikings were the most political of the three groups of Vikings as they had the noble family behind them and their expeditions. The Norwegians Vikings were the most violent and traveled the furthest. The Swedish Vikings went through Europe and not westward as the Danish and Norweigan Vikings.

Both the Danish and the Norwegian Vikings traveled westward. The Swedish Vikings were the Vikings who traveled eastward. The Swedes were also the last group of Vikings to convert to Christianity.

Differences Between Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian Vikings

When many people think of the Vikings, they think of the Vikings as one group of people who went off to violently explore the world. But this is not true; today, we know that these three groups of Vikings were not the same.

During the times of the Vikings, Scandinavia had no consistent forms of government or anything that we considered a nation-state. 

Although the Vikings all spoke a similar language, there were some regional differences. Even today, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish can have a lot of similar words but with a different pronunciation or accent.

Even though all the Viking groups eventually did become Christian, the Danes became Christian first, then the Norwegians, and finally the Swedes. So even though they all became Christian, they did not become Christian at the same time.

The Vikings also traveled in different directions. Many Swedish Vikings went east with the Danes, and the Norwegians went westward. The Danes also had their nobility behind them, so they were more of a political group.

When we talk about the Vikings and the violence, we have pictures in our heads of a strong man carrying an ax and going into battle. But it was the Norwegian Vikings that were the most violent out of the three groups of Vikings. 

The Norwegian Vikings also had the best ships, navigators, and explorers. For this reason, they also were the Vikings that traveled the furthest.

Here are Some of the Differences and Information about the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish Vikings

Danish Vikings

The Danish Vikings, also known as the Danes, were the most politically organized of the different types of Vikings. The Danish king played a more significant role in the Viking invasions.

It also meant that the days for the strongest of all of the other two Vikings and had more political clout than the Norwegian and Swedish Vikings.

The Danish Vikings were also the first of the three groups of Vikings to convert to Christianity. The Danish Vikings were almost entirely converted to Christianity by the ninth century.

The main focus of the Danish Vikings was to discover and pillage the west. Their focus was on France and England and the Mediterranean area.

The Danish Vikings eventually helped form the country of Denmark.

Norwegian Vikings

The Norwegian Vikings can best be described as crazed warriors. The scenes of crazy Vikings with their axes in combat are scenes from the Norwegian Vikings.

Archaeological evidence shows that Norwegian Vikings were a powerful group of Vikings; what many think of Vikings today comes from the Norwegian Vikings and their axes and violent battles.

The Norwegians were also the best boat builders and sailors; these skills gave them the advantage of having some of the Vikings’ best boats and some of the best navigators out there.

The Norwegian Vikings were excellent explorers; they are known to have sailed to Iceland, Greenland, and even the Americas.

Unlike their Danish counterparts, they did not immediately embrace Christianity but remained pagan for a while.

Swedish Vikings

The Swedish Vikings were also known as the Varangians or Rus. Like their Danish and Norwegian counterparts who went westward to discover new lands, the Swedish Vikings went east, mainly along the Volga and Dnieper rivers.

The Swedish Vikings are also the last of the Vikings to convert to prove Christianity. They remained pagan for a long time and only converted to Christianity in the early part of the 12th century.

The Swedish Vikings were also very different from the Danes or the Norwegians. They were excellent explorers and traders and were not as violent as the Danish or Norwegian Vikings.

From archaeological discoveries, it seems that one of their primary focuses was to trade. They established trade routes into the middle east and around the Black Sea area.

The Swedish Vikings were known to terrorize groups along the Baltic, but their focus seems to be more on trade and not just pilferage.

Even though many people see the Vikings as one group of people, the Danish, Norweigan, and Swedish Vikings were three very distinct groups of Viking explorers.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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