Vikings

Course No. 3910
Professor Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.
Tulane University
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What Will You Learn?

  • Examine who the Vikings were based on relics and archaeological finds.
  • Investigate the Norse religions, which were integral to Scandinavian life and united many communities.
  • Explore Scandinavian poems, literature, and mythology to see how memories were preserved.
  • Take a deep dive into the legacy of Cnut the Great, his period of rule, and the collapse of his empire.

Course Overview

As explorers and traders, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of Western Europe. In this course, you will study the Vikings not only as warriors, but also in other roles for which they were equally extraordinary: merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas.

Professor Kenneth Harl synthesizes insights from an astonishing array of sources: The Russian Primary Chronicle (a Slavic text from medieval Kiev), 13th-century Icelandic poems and sagas, Byzantine accounts, Arab geographies, annals of Irish monks who faced Viking raids, Roman reports, and scores of other firsthand contemporary documents.

Among the topics you will explore in depth are the profound influence of the Norse gods and heroes on Viking culture, and the Vikings' extraordinary accomplishments as explorers and settlers in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. With the help of archeological findings, you will learn to analyze Viking ship burials, runestones and runic inscriptions, Viking wood carving, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork.

From 790–1066, virtually invincible Viking fleets fanned out across Europe, raiding, plundering, and overwhelming every army that opposed them.

By 1100, however, the Vikings had disappeared, having willingly shed their identity and dissolved into the mists of myth and legend. How did this happen, and how should we remember this formidable civilization that, for being so formative, proved so transient?

A Wide-Ranging Story, a Versatile Historian

The Vikings were a people whose history stretched from the Vinland settlements in Newfoundland to Baghdad. Accordingly, the telling of their story requires a historian of Professor Harl's considerable powers.

As he has shown in his other Teaching Company courses, The World of Byzantium, Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor, The Era of the Crusades, and Rome and the Barbarians, Dr. Harl has a special knowledge of Europe and the Near East, from antiquity through the Middle Ages. His expertise on nearly all of the peoples the Vikings encountered enables him to endow his lectures with the nuance and detail only a trained specialist can deliver.

The Past Is Never Dead: Scandinavian Beginnings

Professor Harl begins with a virtual tour of the unique Scandinavian terrain that determined that Viking civilization would be a culture like no other, a land and people apart from the rest of the world. Scandinavia was cut off by dense forests that kept individual settlements isolated from one another. The Scandinavian way of life was inherently temporary, for agriculture would not progress beyond the slash-and-burn technique until the end of the Viking Age. Villages lasted only a generation before soil exhaustion forced their abandonment, negating the possibility of permanent towns or lasting structures, political or otherwise. Anyone seeking wealth rather than mere subsistence had to look to the sea.

In this early part of the course you will also study in great detail the origins of the Vikings' ancient Germanic religion. You will learn the stories of the Norse gods and how the Vikings sought to honor them.

The lectures also examine how Scandinavians venerated their ancestors, great heroes of the past whom they emulated in life. Professor Harl demonstrates how we can glean the ambitions of the great Viking sea kings by examining the legendary exploits of their role models, such as the saga of the great ride of Hrolf Kraki, the 6th-century king of legendary Hleidr, a great Danish hall.

The Viking Edge

But culture only takes us so far. The Viking Age would have been impossible had the Scandinavians not possessed superiority in shipbuilding and warfare, and Professor Harl devotes two in-depth lectures to this achievement.

You will explore in detail how the design features of Viking ships allowed them to ride the waters rather than fight the waves, to be dragged across land from river to river, and to be beached in any port and sail almost anywhere. Many Viking victories resulted from the fact that their ships could sail several times faster than opposing armies could move on foot.

Contrary to the stereotype of slashing homicidal maniacs in horned helmets, Professor Harl discusses a precise, organized, battle-hardened army of men trained in warfare since boyhood. Vikings were extraordinarily fit, skilled in boarding ships, in leaping and jumping, archery, swordsmanship, and the wielding of axes. Even more frightful, they were fearless, regarding battle as a state of ecstatic joy and expecting thrill in victory or glory in Valhalla as they rushed at their foes.

Traders and Raiders

Viking warfare wasn't driven by any primitive, atavistic malice, or undirected rage. To them, it just made economic sense. We go a long way towards understanding Scandinavians' motivation and debunking popular stereotypes by seeing Viking raids as a logical extension of trading activities.

You will follow the Vikings as merchants who exploited trade routes in the Baltic, the North Sea, and on the river systems of Western Europe. They operated from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, selling everything from sealskin, whalebone, and amber to slaves.

Raiding was simply trade by other means. Vikings raided towns throughout the Latin West, and then set up impromptu markets to sell back the booty. They were indeed shocked to find a novel commodity in abbots whom the Christians paid handsomely to get back.

In Professor Harl's lectures we see the great adaptability of these Scandinavians, their willingness to evolve according to their local environment. Consider the divergent fortunes and destinies of just a few of the Northern peoples that left their Scandinavian homeland:

  • Under a deal negotiated with King Charles the Simple by their sea king Hrolf, the Vikings were awarded land in Normandy in exchange for protecting the Franks. Hrolf's descendants preserved their military prowess; they conquered England and Italy, eventually cutting off their ties to the sea and adopting the French language.
  • Swedish Vikings, known as "Rus," established outposts in Kiev and Novgorod. They used their Slavic subjects to clear the forests, allowing market towns to evolve into great cities, and a Rus king, Vladimir, would adopt Christianity as the official religion of the Rus state.
  • In a lightning campaign, the mostly Danish Great Army conquered three English kingdoms from 865–878 and settled in the northern half of England. They exerted a profound influence, transmitting 600 words into modern English and innovating the jury system that eventually passed into English law.

Because stereotypical images of the Vikings have long obscured the Vikings' importance in European history, you may learn something new in nearly every minute of these lectures. Did you know that:

  • We have Iceland to thank for preserving most of our information about what a pure Viking society was like. Icelanders preserved the old Norse traditions through storytelling during the long Icelandic winters. They eventually wrote down these poems, myths, and legends to create literature considered to be one of the miracles of the Middle Ages, deserving a place beside the Greek and Roman classics in the Western tradition.
  • Iceland functioned successfully without cities, taxes, or a complex government. You will study the simple yet effective political system—the Thing, the Althing, and the Law Rock—that made Viking Iceland a remarkable experiment in self-government.
  • An early Icelandic settler, Helgi the Lean, once remarked with characteristic Viking pragmatism and typical Icelandic wit, "On land I worship Christ, but at sea I worship Thor." A jest though it may have been, it seems prescient in light of the Scandinavian tendency to slough off the ancient gods at the water's edge.

The Beginnings of Modern Scandinavia

In the last part of the course, Professor Harl discusses how a variety of factors—wealth gained through Viking adventures, the creation of ever more professional Viking armies, increasingly better ships, and notably, conversion to Christianity—enabled Scandinavian monarchs to impose control and set up territorial kingdoms.

The creation of kingdoms and national churches was a testimony to the organizational skills of the Scandinavians, who lacked a history that connected them to the benefits of urban-based Roman civilization.

Who were the Vikings? Much more, perhaps, than you may have thought: raiders, seafarers, kings, and writers, a people who truly defined the history of Europe, and whose brave, adventurous, and creative spirit still survives today.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Vikings in Medieval History
    Hostile Christian sources demonize the Vikings; Muslim accounts render them exotic; and recent revisionist historians downplay the impact of Norse raids. Archeological finds such as ship burials, coin hoards, and human remains, combined with close study of the Norse sagas of Iceland, can enrich and balance our understanding of Scandinavia's place in medieval history. x
  • 2
    Land and People of Medieval Scandinavia
    Scandinavia's landscape shaped its culture. Dense forestation led to small, close-knit communities, skill in woodworking, and to sailing as the primary means of long-distance transport. Long, harsh winters engendered skill in cold-weather travel, a unique cosmology, and the emergence of great halls where storytelling and hospitality traditions were born. x
  • 3
    Scandinavian Society in the Bronze Age
    The physical evidence, expertly interpreted, paints a compelling picture of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia (2300–450 B.C.) Viking ancestors traded Arctic goods, amber, and slaves in exchange for foreign copper and tin to produce impressive bronze objects. New wealth fostered larger villages led by chieftains. A gilt bronze sun chariot, rock tracings, and other material culture indicate the beginnings of the Norse pantheon. x
  • 4
    Scandinavia in the Celtic and Roman Ages
    Scandinavia fed off of trade with the Celts (450–50 B.C.) importing improved cart, ship, and metalworking technology. Contact with Rome (c. 50 B.C.–A.D. 400) enriched the upper classes with fine silver, ceramics, and glass. More ominously, Scandinavians returning from Roman military service brought back advanced weapons and armor. Petty kings surrounded by loyal bands of warriors emerged, along with the first Scandinavian sailing ships that would soon take them abroad. x
  • 5
    The Age of Migrations
    Between 400–700, as the Roman political order collapsed in Western Europe, Scandinavians poured in: Anglo-Saxons in England, Franks in Gaul, Swedish Goths in Italy and Spain, Danes in Frisia. Cultural ties were so close that Scandinavian legends celebrated legendary West Germanic figures for centuries. But in the 7th and 8th centuries, Christianization and linguistic change transformed these immigrants into separate peoples, targets for Viking raids. x
  • 6
    The Norse Gods
    Norse religion was integral to Scandinavian life. A creation myth tells of primeval frozen wastes and sacred trees. The pantheon contained gods of war (Odin), sky (Thor), and fertility (Frey and Freya). The afterlife in Valhalla and other great halls was a reward for great deeds. Worship of these gods, and veneration of the ancestors united communities and separated them from Christendom. x
  • 7
    Runes, Poetry, and Visual Arts
    As a non-urbanized culture, Viking society expressed its visual genius in elaborate woodcarving and intricate jewelry, not architecture. Gods were represented by charming cult statues and contacted through magical runic drawings. Without writing, great myths and legends were transmitted in great halls by poets, playing a harp and composing spontaneous, witty, and metrical verse. x
  • 8
    Legendary Kings and Heroes
    The Epic of Beowulf (c. 675–725) and The Saga of Hrolf Kraki (c. 13th century) look back to the 6th century when legendary kings of Denmark and Sweden ruled from great halls and won great victories, albeit without the Viking longships of the 9th and 10th centuries. These figures were role models and inspirations to the sea kings and territorial rulers of the Viking Age. x
  • 9
    A Revolution in Shipbuilding
    Without the advances in shipbuilding that occurred in the 9th and 10th centuries, Viking success in raiding and trading would have been impossible. Viking vessels evolved from the earliest paddleboats to the great cargo and war ships that carried Viking goods and armies farther and faster than anyone else in the Medieval world. x
  • 10
    Warfare and Society in the Viking Age
    Swords, bows and arrows, javelins, spears, and axes made up the Viking arsenal, but their greatest weapon was unit cohesion. Trained since youth, they were expert in winter travel and foraging, the building of fortifications, and coordinated attack in advanced formations like the "shield wall." The Great Army of 865–878 showed that, when massed together by the thousands, they could virtually conquer all of England. x
  • 11
    Merchants and Commerce in the Viking Age
    From 675–840, Western economic and political activity revived, fueled by improved agriculture, growing towns and monasteries, and renewed Mediterranean trade. But it was the need for slaves in the Islamic world that led Vikings to pioneer extensions of this trade, southwest to Islamic Spain and southeast to Constantinople and Baghdad. Cosmopolitan market towns in Scandinavia eventually became sources of royal revenue and seats of royal power. x
  • 12
    Christendom on the Eve of the Viking Age
    The Carolingian Empire, which had actually conquered Germanic peoples under Charlemagne, possessed the economic and military strength to challenge the Vikings. But partition in 843 and civil conflicts between the nobles weakened Carolingian defenses, even as Frankish prosperity invited Viking raids. England and Ireland had cultural and economic ties to the Latin West through their vibrant and prosperous monasteries, but no means to resist attack. x
  • 13
    Viking Raids on the Carolingian Empire
    Vikings raided the Carolingian Empire throughout the 9th century, disrupting trade routes and depleting imperial coffers through the extraction of tribute (Danegeld). Local vassals stepped into the power void and claimed fiefs, while veteran Viking companies put down roots in the empire at fortified camps and bases. The axis of trade shifted away from the weakened empire, towards Scandinavia. x
  • 14
    The Duchy of Normandy
    In 911, Frankish king Charles the Simple faced the Viking sea king Hrolf and a massive Viking fleet en route to Paris. With no money to offer as ransom, Charles offered Hrolf the land around the town of Rouen. Hrolf's warriors, and their families and descendants, forged the powerful feudal state of Normandy that would later found two great feudal kingdoms. x
  • 15
    Viking Assault on England
    Vikings had been merchants in England for centuries when the first Viking raid destroyed Lindisfarne in 793. Viking raids climaxed in the Great Army's methodical ravaging of southern England and the Midlands from 865–878. They conquered three English kingdoms, but the fourth, led by Alfred the Great, fortified itself militarily and fiscally, preserving its independence. x
  • 16
    The Danelaw
    Many Danes settled in the northern areas of England conquered by the Great Army. In the 9th and 10thth centuries, Anglo-Danish rule brought prosperity and lasting changes in language, customs, and legal institutions. But in adopting Christianity and becoming a landed class, these Danes also surrendered their Viking identity and, with shocking docility, accepted the rule of the kings of Wessex by 954. x
  • 17
    Viking Assault on Ireland
    In 432–433, St. Patrick brought Roman Christianity to Ireland, but not Roman government. So in the Viking Age Ireland possessed great, learned, clan-supported monasteries surrounded by chieftain-led tribes. Norse Vikings devastated the monasteries, dominated the river systems and coastal ports, and co-opted local chieftains, transforming Ireland into a hub for the slave trade to Muslim Spain. x
  • 18
    Norse Kings of Dublin and Ireland
    In 917, Hiberno-Norse kings reestablished rule over Dublin and its hinterland, and many key ports. With Norse immigration in decline, however, they lacked the numbers to dominate the island. Cooperation, intermarriage, and assimilation marked Norse-Irish relations. Irish king Mael Sechlainn's victory over the Norse at Tara in 980 cemented their secondary position thereafter. x
  • 19
    The Settlement of Iceland
    Iceland filled with settlers between 870–930. Some sought relief from an overcrowded Norway, some sought free land, and others desired freedom from the tyrannical Norwegian king Harald Finehair. On this remote, barely habitable island just below the Arctic Circle, a purely Scandinavian experiment in self-government produced a remarkably independent society of free farmsteads, minimally governed by assemblies of free men. x
  • 20
    Iceland—A Frontier Republic
    The rugged terrain of Iceland necessitated egalitarianism. As men left home to hunt, fish, and tend pastures, women ran the households, handled legal settlements, and even acted as delegate chieftains. Law was informal, and justice "face to face," adjudicated by a trusted member of the community. These traditions persisted for centuries, even after timber depletion and civic unrest rendered the island dependent on Norwegian support and accepting of Norwegian rule. x
  • 21
    Skaldic Poetry and Sagas
    Icelanders preserved memories of their Scandinavian homeland and transmitted tales of the ancient Germanic gods through recited poems, consistent with an oral culture in which even law was recited publicly from memory. From the 10th century onward, literature became ever more ornate and sophisticated, culminating in the great written works of the 12th-14th centuries: the collections of Norse poetry and mythology, and the prose sagas. x
  • 22
    Western Voyages to Greenland and Vinland
    The daunting climate and the ultimate paucity of marketable trade goods prevented Greenland from becoming a viable settlement, while Vinland settlements foundered due to hostile Algonquins and remoteness from the Scandinavian homeland. The American fascination with these voyages reveals a sentiment the Icelanders would have appreciated, a yearning for connection with an ancient past. x
  • 23
    Swedes in the Baltic Sea and Russia
    By the 8th century, intrepid Swedes had moved into the Russian forest zones, acquiring slaves to trade with Khazar middlemen that controlled the Volga. These Swedes, or Rus, braved rapids and marauding steppe-peoples, adapting to a foreign land and adopting some indigenous customs and institutions. The market towns they established formed the core areas of future Russian states. x
  • 24
    The Road to Byzantium
    The shift in Swedish trading activity from the Volga in the east to the Dneiper in the west was also a shift away from the Islamic world and towards a Byzantine Christian civilization that greatly impressed the Swedes. The Rus became mercenary allies and trading partners with the emperors in Constantinople and imported imperial institutions into an incipient Russian kingdom, beginning the process of Christianization and political transformation. x
  • 25
    From Varangians into Russians
    Prince Vladimir of Kiev's momentous conversion to Orthodox Christianity in 989 was revolutionary. The Rus adopted literacy and the Slavic language, imported Byzantine builders to create masonry churches, shifted patronage from pagan poetry to Christian works, created cavalry and a military elite, and converted a slave-trade economy into an agricultural economy that would feed the great cities now taking shape. x
  • 26
    Transformation of Scandinavian Society
    From 790–1000, a massive influx of silver led to the minting of Scandinavian coins and resulting monetized markets. Newly wealthy individuals, increasingly women, enjoyed their largess through imported luxury goods and personal ornamentation found in ever-more opulent ship burials. Overseas Viking kingdoms in Russia and England provided the model, and silver provided the means, for Christian Scandinavian kings to form their own territorial states. x
  • 27
    St. Anskar and the First Christian Missions
    In a Viking-Age Scandinavia well served by the traditional gods of war, sailing, and prosperity, the Carolingian missionary St. Anskar had little success convincing the Vikings that Christianity was a powerful religion of victory. But by training Frankish clergy in the Scandinavian tongue, he put in place the institutions that would aid future Christian kings. x
  • 28
    Formation of the Kingdom of Denmark
    Denmark was forged under threat from the Holy Roman Empire to the south. Responding to Henry the Fowler's 934 invasion, the pagan king Gorm the Old raided the southern frontier, securing Jutland. His successor Harold Bluetooth precluded further invasions by Christianizing Denmark, fortifying the Danevirke, and establishing massive military camps. Harold's son Svein inherited a Danish kingdom with European-wide ambitions. x
  • 29
    Cnut the Great
    Cnut the Great (1014–1035), along with his father Svein Forkbeard, reclaimed England for Scandinavia, but viewed himself as a pan-European king in the mold of Charlemagne. Though not remembered fondly by his subjects, his maintenance of a powerful fleet, innovative use of proxy rule, and savvy employment of marriage alliances turned Denmark from a fragile kingdom into a Christian North Sea Empire. x
  • 30
    Collapse of Cnut’s Empire
    At Cnut's death in 1035, his sons clashed for control while also fending off Magnus the Good of Norway. In 1066, with Cnut's sons both dead and his nephew Svein Estrithson holding Denmark, Magnus's uncle Harald Hardardi attempted to wrest England from Cnut's distant relative Harold II. Harold repelled Hardardi but fell at Hastings to William the Conqueror, who had just begun to put Normandy on the map. x
  • 31
    Jarls and Sea Kings of Norway
    Harald Finehair, a king in Upplönd, imposed his rule over Norway after defeating a coalition of jarls at the naval battle of Hafsfjord c. 875. Although his line ended in 970, another sea king, Olaf Tryggvasson, used his Viking fleet, and Christian institutions, to become king of Norway. Olaf fell fighting a Danish rival, Swein Forkbeard, at the naval battle of Svöld, and Norwegians again acknowledged a Danish king. x
  • 32
    St. Olaf of Norway
    Converted in England, Olaf rose from a Viking raider to become a great Christian king of Norway, which he liberated from Danish rule in 1015. His heavy-handed rule led his subjects to expel and then kill him at the Battle of Stikelstad in 1030, but they later repented, and he survives in memory as Scandinavia's first royal saint. x
  • 33
    Kings of the Swedes and Goths
    Sweden, in resources and population, seemed destined for primacy in Scandinavia, but the Yngling kings of Uppsala did not profit from the Viking expansion in the East. In contrast to Norway and Denmark, Sweden lacked powerful sea kings that could forge a territorial state under hereditary Christian monarchs. x
  • 34
    Christianization and Economic Change
    In the 11th century, distinct national churches emerged in the Scandinavian kingdoms. Christianity brought new prosperity and population growth. Cathedrals and monasteries stimulated the rise of market towns. Coulter ploughs, better tools, and the three-field system improved agricultural productivity significantly for the first time since the Iron Age. x
  • 35
    From Vikings to Crusaders
    By 1100, the Viking age had passed. On the eve of the Black Death (1347–1351), all three Scandinavian kingdoms shared similar fiscal and institutional weaknesses. The three kingdoms were united under the treaty of Kalmar, a weak union that dictated the course of Scandinavian history down to the Reformation. x
  • 36
    The Viking Legacy
    The course of Medieval history was fundamentally altered by the Viking Age. The feudal states of Western Europe were born. The kingdoms of England and Scotland arose. Orthodox Kiev, founded by Swedish Rus, gave political organization to the East Slavic peoples. The three Scandinavian kingdoms emerged, as did the Norse settlements in the North Atlantic. The Vikings gave Christian Europe strength, and the era of the Crusades would have been impossible without them. x

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Your professor

Kenneth W. Harl

About Your Professor

Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.
Tulane University
Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, Professor Harl has received numerous teaching awards at Tulane, including the coveted Sheldon H. Hackney Award. He has...
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Reviews

Vikings is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 200.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Exceptional Effort As a university student, I was fortunate to take several classes with Professor Harl and I assumed that the recordings could not live up to our exploration of history together. I was wrong. With the exception of the give and take in his seminars, I found the the recording just as rewarding and stimulating as his classes I enjoyed years ago.
Date published: 2012-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best survey course on the Vikings I have read many books on the Vikings and most of them come off, after the fifth chapter, as being like reading any Russian novel in a foreign language. I mean to say the list of similar sounding names goes on and on and one Larson, Olaf, or Harold is indistinguishable from the many which preceded and the many which must surly follow. However… Prof. Harl has carefully avoided this "torture by Scandinavian name" while still covering the rich history of the Vikings from the time of the uninhabited ice age right through to the Renaissance. Others have called this course a slog, and of course, it can be for those of Western European culture. We have heard since youth the stories of Lindisfarne the coastal raiding, the wanton destruction and the barbaric treatment of their victims. However Prof. Harl goes the extra mile to show the genuine contribution to European history and the critical role the Vikings played in the emergence of the modern nation state. Many will be surprised at the critically foundational role played by the Vikings in the creation of England, Scotland, Normandy, Ireland and Russia. This is not a normal dates and names history course. If it were it would truly be a slog. But, Prof. Harl's enthusiasm, subject matter mastery and affinity for the Vikings comes through and make the course worthy of your investment and enjoyable to boot. At the end of this fruitful course, you will be more than knowledgeable on the subject of all things Viking.
Date published: 2012-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A slog, but worthwhile I suppose A previous reviewer mentioned that this course 'was a bit of a slog,' and I think that really nails it. It's not that the course isn't worthwhile---I learned a great deal---but it was usually not *fun* learning, as is the case with many other of the teaching company's courses. (A quick aside: I highly recommend Brier's Egypt course or Daileader's medieval history courses for examples of how wonderful it is when the material *and* the lecturer come together perfectly!) That said, it's still a lot better than some of the courses out there, both from the teaching company and also at undergraduate institutions. If you pay attention and stay focused, you'll learn a great deal, from the first fateful attack on the monastery Lindisfarne in 793, to the possible continual use of North American forests for timber by Greenlanders between the 11th and 14th centuries. But boy is it difficult to pay attention! Prof. Harl IMO doesn't breathe much life into this subject, and his presentation is quite dense and difficult to follow. There are exceptions of course. The most interesting lecture for me, predictably, was that covering the Viking incursions into North America. Also the lecture leading up to Hastings was pretty good. However for the most part the lectures were dry and unpleasant, at least to my palate. I wonder, though, if perhaps it would have been easier going if I had gotten the video/DVD version. Maybe if I had the benefit of visual cues, maps, printed names, etc., to go along with the audio, then I would have had an easier time paying attention and staying interested. So if anyone out there is willing to do the video version instead of audio-only, that might be a good idea. (Then again, maybe it wouldn't help that much---it's just an idea.) So in sum, here's what I recommend: If you're really interested in this subject, go for it. It's a rich and robust course with lots of material, and if you like it well enough then perhaps you won't mind so much the density of presentation. As mentioned, perhaps then the video would be better than audio-only. Also, if you have listened to a lot of teaching company lectures and you plan to listen to more, then this is a fine addition to have under your belt---above average in content if not quality, as teaching company lecture series go. However, if you're new to the teaching company, or if you're looking for something fun and engaging, this is very probably not the lecture series for you---at least not yet. It's just a big pain, with the rich material being the only and hard-won reward. In other words, I recommend it *only* as long as you know what you're getting into. I hope that helps.
Date published: 2012-01-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good content, maybe The material is interesting and the professor is enthusiastic. I learned a lot about the Vikings, particularly their extensive travels to the east and south as far as Constantinople. However, without having much background in the topic, I noted several incorrect statements that lead me to wonder how much of the material is correct. Further, the professor frequently led assertions and conclusions with "I", without indicating why his opinions should be considered valid on this topic. Did he really incorporate significant new personal research into this course? That seems very doubtful. I also had a lot of problems with the professor's style, to the point that I almost gave up before finishing the course. His frequent (~10 per minute) and pronounced "ums" and "uhs" were very distracting to me. (It actually helped to count them for a time, so I could later try harder to ignore them.) This is the first Great Course I've viewed that I must seriously consider returning.
Date published: 2011-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Vikings Delivers I have purchased several course by Professor Harl and I very much enjoy his presentations. He is an engaging lecturer. The Vikings promise to be an interesting subject and Professor Harl delivers. I gained a much better appreciation for the scope of Viking history. I was particularly interested in the Viking contribution to the founding of Russia, and the discussion on how the Vikings became domesticated after dominating the 9th-11th centuries.
Date published: 2011-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Vikings Were Really Not so Gross I loved this course and professor Harl, whom I thought one of the best speakers I've heard in the Great Courses series. He talks fast, providing lots of information, which is what I like. Slow talkers make me fall asleep. If you prefer slow talkers, who occasionally interrupt with a personal quip, you might not like this as much as I did. Before this course I knew nothing about the Vikings, but now I feel well informed on the subject.
Date published: 2011-12-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great course but ... I chose The Vikings CD course to correct my unfamiliarity with my Swedish heritage and the near absence of attention to Scandinavia in my American schooling. The bulk of The Vikings is about the history and the culture from which the Vikings sprang, those cultures they drew from or influenced and to which they contributed. The scope of their travels, religion, trade, slave trade, raiding and settling are all presented. That there is a wealth of information on the region we call Denmark and a dearth of information on Sweden is clearly explained. The overlap of pagan and Christian religions in both time and place is well presented and recurs in several of the lectures. The historical figures, various kings and their lines (nearly all pre-Danish), explorers, et al. are delineated. The sequence of the course is not entirely chronological. A lecture will often cover a period previously traversed, with a different topic or place as its focus. With an eye on the course title, though, the Vikings themselves are lost in the backdrop, a people tangential to their own story. It evokes a play in which the stage, the set and the music are elaborate and beautiful but the actors are half-seen with their voices muffled. At times I felt that the Icelandic poets who learned, wrote and recited Viking tales got more attention from Professor Harl than did the subjects of their sagas. Many, though to be fair not all, of Harl's lectures in The Vikings give the feeling that he needs to finish this recording session in order to catch the last bus/train/ferry home. Lectures sometimes begin at a conversational pace and tone then progress (regress?) into a hurried, hoarse near-growl that gives the sense that he needed a breather several minutes ago. In a lecture hall with body language apparent this may serve well. Playing the CD in the car it made him often hard to listen to. I was moved to switch to the radio and resume the lecture later when he'd had time to calm down. Sentences are often run together, though with long mid-sentence or mid-thought pauses. He uses more "um" than any other academic lecturer I've heard. His occasional rattling off of a sequence of names may be accurate but it's at a pace that's not illuminating. (The bus driver must be tapping his foot.) Names, especially, are brought up rapid fire and at a lecture's end I often don't know which person he talked about. At one time I popped the CD out of the player in the midst of one of those, irritated at his giving three versions of one person's name, hurrying and stumbling over the pronunciation of at least two of them, none of which had anything meaningful to do with that part of the lecture. I agree with the comment made by others that a person who studies a culture as thoroughly as Harl has done should also place value in learning proper pronunciation of the words in that culture's language. He loses authority when he dismisses authenticity. Based on my knowledge of the history of Europe outside Scandinavia, such as it is, I judge that Professor Harl knows what he's talking about. If you want the history of the region that spawned the Vikings and of their exploits and influence, this is definitely a course to use. One previous reviewer remarked that in some lectures Professor Harl had taken on more than would fit into the lecture and I agree. Overall, the course covers much more than I expected it would and that's worthwhile. The title of the course led me to believe it would have a narrower focus so perhaps it should be retitled. With this caveat and despite my grousing above, I certainly recommend this course.
Date published: 2011-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not my favorite subject! This course was a bit of a slog - I have never really been interested in the Vikings, and the course did not inspire any interest beyond the lectures and study book. That said, the Professor did an excellent job of explanation and presentation - and it is not his fault that every other historical character is named Harold. The course did help me better fit the Vikings and their history into the overall European Middle Ages - and I was quite interested in the contribution of Icelandic literature. But you will not see me spending any additional time on Viking History in the near future.
Date published: 2011-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This ain't your Captial One Vikings The title Vikings really doesn’t convey the amount of history covered in this course, however, since most people know so little about Scandinavian history, probably no other title would grab most peoples interest. The Viking period lasted from about 700AD to 1100AD, with the peak period from 800-900, but to truly understand that period, you need to understand how they got to that point. Most high school and college history classes focus on southern European history, leaving a gaping hole in northern European history. The Vikings truly altered European history without being an occupying empire, such as Rome. The Vikings is a very dense course, packed with names and dates that at times leave you feeling a bit bewilder. Somehow, the larger picture of Viking history does emerge and is memorable. The professor tackles various episodes of Viking exploit, and develops it for a period of about 200 years, say from 800 to 1000. Then he moves on to another episode of Viking history and you find yourself back to the year 800 again. At first it’s a little confusing, but it all comes together in the end. For this particular course I found the accompanying study guide to be a great read even on its own.
Date published: 2011-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Vikings from start to finish If you just want a few talks about Norsemen raiding England, this is NOT a course for you. Professor Harl gives us the full picture of Scandinavian life, from long before the famous Viking raids to the end of the Middle Ages. This includes talks about kings and wars, commerce, geography, and of course exploration (Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Vinland). Fascinating to me (as a half-Swede) were the talks about how Scandinavians were actually the ancestors of modern Russians. There are many useful on-screen maps, which I think are fairly essential to anyone wanting to absorb the material. I have to confess that my mind wandered a lot during these talks. One reason may be that several episodes have loads of (similar) names that are hard to keep track of without a scorecard. Another may be the Prof's delivery; my guess is that he would be a lot of fun to have in a face-to-face class, but something is lost in the vacuum of the Great Courses set. Also, the director should have instructed the Prof to LOOK AT THE CAMERA! He's frequently staring off to the left or right, and wears glasses that require him to lower his head and look over the top of the frames every time he addresses the camera, which gets to be annoying after awhile. Several viewers have complained about his pronunciation of foreign names, and his many "uhs." I didn't mind the pronunciation too much (except for how he says the English word European "yur-uh-PEEN"), and the "uhs" seemed to be the result of his very fertile mind working a lot faster than his mouth. I was a teacher for years and I'm sure I was guilty of using "uh" during lectures. So overall, a very informative course, but perhaps a bit too long for everyone but the most ardent Viking enthusiast.
Date published: 2011-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazingly good course We never knew how much influence the Vikings had in either the East or the West. Professor Harl presents this history in fascinating form, making it both enjoyable and memorable. We have another course by him that I can't wait to begin.
Date published: 2011-09-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insightful on Scandinavian Middle Ages This lecture series on the Viking Era is very beneficial especially to people with Scandinavian roots such as me. Professor Harls is a very good communicator as he offers a historical background of the Scandinavians, and then, proceeds to present their imposing impact on Europe. The lucrative involvement in the slave trade gives a basis for their intrepid exploits into the regions of the British Isles, Russia, Byzantium, Islamic lands, and much of Europe. His lectures related to the the expansion and influence of Christianity on the Vikings are very worthwhile as he covers the extensive missionary efforts by such men as St. Anskar, the integration of Christianity into the socioeconomic culture, and how Christianity is responsible to a significant degree for the demise of the Viking Era.
Date published: 2011-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from enlightening course I enjoyed the professor's presentation style, having listened to the course via audio download. I visualized the professor sitting in the passenger seat of my car, discussing the Vikings. I learned a great deal from this course, never having studied history in college. (I studied business and the sciences in my academic work.) I never realized how far the influence of the Vikings reached before taking this course. I have rowed and sailed a replica Viking ship from a local Sons of Norway lodge and found the professor's discussion of viking boat building very enlightening. I would have liked to learn more about the everyday life of the vikings including their housing arrangements, local holidays and foods. The professor did touch somewhat on these subjects.
Date published: 2011-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from much more than just vikings despite being called “the vikings,” this course is about far more than raiding and pillaging: in fact it ends up being a whole history of scandinavia through to the end of the middle ages. this makes it of great value since this region is generally neglected if not entirely ignored in other histories of the west. and because of the vikings’ activities overseas the lectures also cover formative periods in the histories of france, england, and ireland, as well as giving an impressive account of the birth of russia. it thus makes a nice companion course to “the early middle ages.” i was initially concerned when i saw that scandinavia is not listed as one of prof. harl’s specialty areas, but i needn’t have been. he is more than up to the task of providing a course at this level: you even get the sense that he spends his evenings sitting up reading icelandic sagas. and he structures his lectures nicely by beginning each one with the two or three main points to be covered, so that as you’re listening you can easily tell where you are and what’s still to come. i particularly appreciated prof. harl’s balanced treatment of religion. most histories of this time period are content to repeat the traditional view that pre-christian peoples were a bunch of benighted idiots worshipping monstrous and incomprehensible gods until they finally got it right, but prof. harl makes some effort to treat the pagan scandinavians fairly. this begins to break down a bit near the end, particularly in his unexpected dismissal of modern pagans in denmark, but most of the time he’s at pains to explain what pre-christian scandinavians valued in their religion and why they hung on to it so tenaciously. i got the sense that this was in part because prof. harl himself is much more interested in political history than in religion, but whatever the cause it led to a much more even-handed treatment of a subject usually presented only from the victor’s point of view. another strength of this course is that you come away from it with a strong sense of the distinct history & character of each of the three scandinavian nations, while at the same time keeping in view what they all had in common. a particular highlight for me was the account of the settlement and culture of iceland, a nation which assumed a cultural significance out of all proportion to its tiny population. i feel like i now have a strong and clear understanding of a cultural zone that i knew very little about before, and so if you need an introduction to this region of the world this course is a great place to start.
Date published: 2011-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Preparation for a trip to Scandinavia My wife and I completed this course in preparation for a trip to Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Sweden and Norway in August, 2011. My wife is a history major. Yet, neither she nor I realized the impact of the Vikings on Western and Eastern European, Byzantium, and Russian language, culture, law, governance and economics. Iceland is an excellent example of a country settled and developed by Vikings. Much of early Viking literature and sagas were written and retained in Iceland. Our study of "The Vikings" will take us to museums and sites that we would not have otherwise chosen. Dr. Harl is the ideal professor. He has extensive knowledge of his subject (as well as related subjects), he states his objectives at the beginning of the lecture and accomplishes his goals. His presentation is clear, logical and engaging. His extensive experience as a teacher comes through in these lectures. This is a great course for anyone wanting to broaden their knowledge of European history, and a must for anyone traveling to Scandinavia.
Date published: 2011-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a real education on the impact of the vikings on e don't recall any teaching of the viking invasions in high school or college. some discussion of viking raids in History of England courses. Now aware of the profound impact of the vikings on europeans, russians and eastern roman empire. one problem for me was the professor inserted too many "ahs" in his delivery. Was a little grating as one waits for the string of "ahs".
Date published: 2011-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First Really Good History DVD My wife and I just love Professor Harl's style and delivery. His body language is relaxed and confidant, he has a great voice, and his wry humor nicely balances cautious generalizations and respect for the historical record. In sharp contrast to several DVD's we watched on histories and other academic disciplines, Harl's lectures are enhanced and supported by really good maps and visuals. And the visuals aren't scattered around: they have been carefully selected and edited. I have been consistently unimpressed with historical surveys from this company. Giving Harl "high fives" is a first for me. I have had to bite my tongue to give even a "3" to any of the histories I have watched thus far. I'm a retired academic and don't enjoy hammering colleagues. But standards are just that, standards. But if you are looking for enlightenment in art and art history, all is not lost. We have bought several DVD's on museums and art history and would rate every one between a 4 and a 5. Lectures in these academic disciplines learn early on to balance words and images.
Date published: 2011-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Course -- But Learn Norse! I agree with an earlier reviewer that Professor Harl's frequent mispronunciation of Norse names and words is distracting and irritating. He could learn the basic rules of Norse pronunciation easily and quickly, without having to actually learn the Norse language. Other than that, Vikings is a good course and Professor Harl is a very fine teacher. He did an especially good job of showing the Vikings' influence on Western Civilization. I recommend it to anyone who wants a greater understanding of the Vikings.
Date published: 2011-06-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An awkward experience Professor Harl is an interesting choice for this particular material. While he has clearly spent a lot of time reviewing the general material to present it, expertise is lacking (critique his lectures as a professor of Old English and Old Norse literature and languages and I came to this series looking for possible approaches to teaching some of this material). This is not to say that, overall, I would raise great objections; in fact, he generally does a good job. However, there are three major short-comings to the course. 1) The least significant of the short-comings: Prof. Harl does not know how to pronounce Old English or Old Norse. Consequently, he butchers pronunciations of places and historical figures. In fact, he does not pronounce the same names the same way, but varies among pronunciations. Consequently, if one does not already know what is being discussed, matters are certainly a bit confused. Moreover, etymological explanations are simplified rather than explained. For instance, Aethelred Unraed is explained as 'ethel read' 'unread' (pronounced 'reed'), which is simply inaccurate. Harald Hardradi is incomprehensible in his pronunciation and is actually spelled on the screen as 'Harald Hardardi' and explained as occasionally being translated as 'hard as nails'. In fact, it is 'hard radi', hard-ruler. However, these are minor and forgivable errors from someone who is not intimately familiar with the Germanic languages (he is a scholar of Byzantium and the vast majority of the primary source material for all of this is in Latin). 2) More significant a concern is the ambition of each lecture. Prof. Harl attempts to pack too much information into each lecture and so undermines his intentions. Either he has to simplify complex material, often not discussing any detail, especially when discussing mythology and sagas, or he gets bogged down in detail and loses the main thrust of his discussion. If someone is looking for a serious introduction to Norse mythology or to saga literature, discussions of several long texts in 30 minutes will simply not be satisfactory. Several solutions would have been reasonable: a) he ought to have focused the aim of the course as a whole.on one of the themes he addresses, e.g. mythology or saga or history; b) he ought to have given longer or more lectures; c) he ought to have pared down the material that he was addressing so as to discuss some of the primary source material in detail. 3) The gravest fault in these lectures, however, comes in a host of factual errors, especially appearing in the lectures on Cnut. These are loaded with incontrovertibly erroneous material. For instance, Aethelred II is said to have been passed over for a return to his throne while he was in exile, it being given to his son Edmund. In fact, Aethelred was invited back from his exile in Normandy (famously being the first English king to receive terms for his rule from his national council), did die on his throne, and was succeeded by his son Edmund. When not simply erroneous, he often portrays information as under debate that is not, or portrays a very particular, and often misleading, version of history. While certainly entertaining versions, they are not very nuanced or even faithful to his sources. For instance, the apocryphal story of Cnut commanding the sea to stop is presented as an example of Cnut's hubris. In fact, it is told as an example of his piety, demonstrating to those who build him up that only God can control such things. All in all, Prof. Harl offers a number of fine insights. As an introduction in broad strokes, this is a reasonable lecture series. However, one needs to be aware that there are errors (as will happen in any lecture), some grievous. Moreover, one should be cautious about Prof. Harl's conclusions if they have not looked at the source material themselves. However, if one is simply looking for an initial introduction before going off to explore very exciting history, literature, and mythology, this may well whet your interest and propel you into interesting reading.
Date published: 2011-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from an eye-opener I listened to this some years ago on cassette tapes and was fascinated by it. Then I bought the DVDs and we both watched it about a month ago. Like some other reviewers, I was delighted to have the maps and so forth in the DVD format, but the series also works with just audio. Dr. Harl is knowledgeable and well-organized. The lectures seem balanced chronologically. We both felt that we'd gotten a nice, solid grounding heading into the Middle Ages in Europe. Well done!
Date published: 2011-06-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Coverage of Scandinavian History & its Impact I just completed the DVD version (36 half-hour lectures) of this course. For me, it was a good an illuminating course. I learnt a lot about the history of the Vikings and their significant influences to our modern world. This is my second course by Prof. Kenneth Harl (my first was his course on Alexander the Great & the Macedonian Empire - which was excellent). This course covered the chronological development of the Scandinavian society: The first third of the course talked about the Scandinavian society before the Vikings age (from the Bronze Age, to the Age of Migrations (400 - 600 AD)). This first third of the course also covered the religious myths, the martial ethos & the importance of poetry within the Scandinavian society, and the legendary kings and heroes during the pre-Viking age. This first part finished with a discussion on the future Vikings' 'competitive advantage' in shipbuilding and travel by sea. The second third of the course covered Viking raids from the late 8th century toward the Western European Carolingian empire (and the formation of the Duchy of Normandy), England, Ireland, and western parts of modern Russia all the way to Constantinople. It also covered Scandinivian adventures to occupy Iceland, Greenland and the north-eastern part of North America (modern-day Newfoundland). The last third of the course discussed the post-Viking age; it specifically covered the formation and further evolution of the three kingdoms in Scandinavia, namely: Norway, Denmark and Sweden. It also discussed influential historical Scandinavian leaders during this era including: St Olaf (from Norway) and King Cnut the Great (from Denmark - who temporarily unified Norway, England and Denmark). What I was truly impressed and didn't expect until I learnt them this course with were these following facts: 1. Significant Vikings influences in the development of England and the English language. 2. Significant Vikings influences toward the development of western European societies, including the establishment of the duchy of Nornandy. 3. The significance of the Swedish 'Rus' in the creation of the Russian principalities, including the introduction of Orthodox Christianity brought from Constantinople. 4. The transmission of literary and poetic tradition from Scandinavian settlers in Iceland toward the literary heritage of Western Europe during the middle ages and the world today.
Date published: 2011-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Groundbreaking, (for me)! I would have loved to have given this review the same title as the previous reviewer, but that would be... dishonest. "Blew the doors off" is about as great a way of putting my feelings for this course as I can think of. As someone who's been reading history books since he was in High School, it isn't often that I come across something that is new. And for some reason, I'd never gotten to the Viking period before. This course was an absolute joy to listen to, filled with stunning anecdotes, and providing a fairly cohesive narrative that was clear enough that I was able to fully recall it when I read a study of early medieval migration patterns. The course does open with an enormous amount of information on Norse legends. I found these lectures puzzling as this was a history course, not a mythology course. However, it became clear later in the course that these lectures are necessary when discussing Norse history. So much of Norse culture and even history is intertwined with their mythology that you simply cannot separate the two effectively. Norse mythology also gives a fantastic look into the cultural values of the Vikings. The general historical narrative was outstanding. Prof. Harl covers major events (and the minor ones) in Viking history in a way that makes it clear what their role was and how they came to shape the Viking conquest. Particularly excellent is his treatment of the incipient Danish state, development of shipbuilding technologies, and colonization of Iceland. Obviously, raids and the danelaw also receive excellent coverage, but that should be assumed from any self-respecting Viking course. This course is an absolute necessity for anyone interested in the Vikings or the Middle Ages. Having still not read a book solely on Vikings, I can't say how much of this material is unique, but I can say that you won't get any of it in many Western European-centric courses; for example, Prof. Daileader's otherwise outstanding courses on the Middle Ages devote all of 1 or 2 lectures to the Vikings. I would encourage the listener to take a look at a map of Scandinavia before listening to the audio version of the lectures; other than that, I found the geography actually translated better in the audio version of this course than in others.
Date published: 2011-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Blows the Doors Off I purchased the audio course to listen to during my daily commute. Several times I sat entranced in my garage, having arrived home before a lecture was finished. Dr. Harl gives you a thorough grounding in Viking history and culture in the preMedieval period, before embarking on his lectures detailing the Viking raids and the impact they had on the rest of European history. I have also listened to this lecturer's course on the Crusades. I wish I had listened to this course first, as it provides a lot of background on some of the major Crusaders who came out of kingdoms founded by Vikings.
Date published: 2011-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Grounding This review refers to the DVD's. I must confess I'm a great admirer of Dr Harl and believe i've acquired all of his lecture series. He not only presents subjects thoroughly in an interesting manner, but he leavens his comments with hilarious "one liners." With his constant movement, it would be hard to believe he's reciting from a teleprompter. He seems too natural and relaxed. My previous knowledge of the Vikings was confined to the comic strip, Prince Val, from my childhood. Dr Harl's lectures made a radical change. He starts with some general observations before beginning the history with the bronze age. As opposed to other cultures, he points out much of the ancient history of the Scandinavian peoples must rely on folk tales and archaeological findings. He then traces the developments over the centuries. I think the maps in the DVD's are crucial to understanding all of this history. What is surprising to me was the depth of the contribution to European society by the Vikings and the part they played in the origins of Russia. There are knowledge gaps that these lectures lead one to wish to explore. How did the planning of the raids occur? Was the destruction in their wake pointless or was there a purpose to it? Dr Harl points out slaves were the most valuable booty, but, unfortunately, the records are quite limited. Nevertheless, many questions remain. How was the slave trade managed? How were the slaves treated? We know more from recent scholarship of the vicious practices of traders and shippers of African slaves to the Americas. Is there a parallel for slaves shipped to Muslim territories? What was the basis of the hunger of Muslims for slaves? There are many more provoking questions about other subjects arising from Dr Harl's excellent presentation. I think these lectures create a better understanding of European history and are recommended to anyone wishing to enlarge his or her knowledge of our European antecedents. But, it is suggested one order the DVD's.
Date published: 2011-03-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hard to finish I'm glad I purchased the DVD version of this series of lectures because without the maps I would have been lost. There is certainly a lot of imformation but much of it seems to be unorganized and difficult to absorb and remember. Harl refers to a number of legends and stories but doesn't really explain many of them in depth. I felt like his passing references to them reflected a kind of intellectual snobbishnes and that I was in some way being patronized by his giant ego. Like some others have said, there were too many seemingly irrelevant names and the timeline was hard to follow. I had actually put these lectures aside after starting them and came back to them after several months. I did manage to get through them and I will admit there was some interesting material, I personally just didn't care for his manner of organization or presentation.
Date published: 2011-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from surprised well, this was sort of a throwaway - a relatively inexpensive on sale program. What the heck. What do I know about the Vikings. Well, Harl's actually pretty good, pretty animated, and very listenable. I found his delivery kept my attention, and I was really surprised at the information. Who knew how far the Viking influence ranged. North America, the middle east, Russia, England? Filled in a huge gap in my knowledge.
Date published: 2011-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Course This course was very good and very interesting. The only disappointment was that the Vikings don't seem to have as rich or as well known history as the rest of Europe. Professor Harl does a great job with the facts he has.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable and thorough This was a very enjoyable course and a very thorough job of not only the Viking Age, but pre & post effects of it. I'm sorry that its over.
Date published: 2011-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Entertaining Even though I'm half Scandinavian, I never knew how much we contributed to European history, even if it was mainly pillage, plunder and reproduce. I listened to the audio in the car and enjoyed it very much.
Date published: 2011-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive The course weaves information from many sources including (most of all) archeology, literature, art interpretation, archetecture,.. to provide comprehensive views of Viking customs, ethos, health, technology, politics, art, relationships, and their effect on the Vikings and their surroundings. The instructor alerts us to conclusions that are tenuous and those that are well accepted as he goes along. I’ve read many books on the Vikings and Scandinavia but knew less than half of what this course provided.
Date published: 2011-01-20
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