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Vikings (870 - 913) The saga of the men of the north

Gudfrid is a small landowner living in Denmark, east of Ribe. Knut is Swedish; he is a jarl - a small lord - with a large estate near Birka. Through this book, the authors - Jeremy Dardenne, Yann Kervran - and the Compagnie du Nord invite us to follow the life of two Scandinavian families and in particular their eldest sons, during the Viking Age.

Two similar, but different destinies

Over the pages, we discover the daily life of these two sons, Ketil and Harald, and their relatives. Work in the fields, maintenance of the estate and animals, trading activity in large ports such as Hedeby, marriage, divorce, food, the conditions of women and slaves are mentioned. Of course, as daring Vikings, Ketil and Harald go on an expedition. Ketil, the Dane, made his way to West Francia and encountered the troops of King Eudes (888, † 898), before eventually settling in the Normandy of Count Rollon († 928-933). Harald, the Swede, heads east, following the Varangian route which from Novgorod and Kiev leads to Constantinople; he rubs shoulders with Oleg the Wise (882, † 912) and succumbs to the blows of the Khazars. Two adventures, images of the two main axes of expansion of the Viking raids.

It is however a pity that the myths linked to Scandinavian mythology, with their share of magic which also permeated everyday life, are rarely mentioned. No sacrifices, no blots, no runes, no volva. Likewise, the two sons getting married, it would have been interesting to talk about the motherhood of their wives, childbirth, caring for toddlers, the education of children, which does not appear very much.

A superbly illustrated book

Vikings - Image from the book, courtesy of the publisher. All rights reserved Éditions Calleva "/> However, the story of these two men is endearing. In addition, it is carried throughout the book by magnificent photos which reproduce and illustrate the daily life and events mentioned in the text . Thus, boats, costumes, craftsmen, villages, houses, women, warriors and battles suddenly come to life. This multitude of superb photos, backed by a rich text, is the strength and beauty of this book. In addition, small inserts , here and there, deepen particular themes such as textiles, divorce or the tools of the craftsman.In fine, a meticulous and very documented reconstruction, implemented by the authors, both passionate about historical reconstruction and archaeological site, with the help of the Compagnie du Nord. This 1901 law association which brings together professionals in archaeological reconstruction and mediation, as well as passionate volunteers, has ten years of experience in the restoration. tution of four historical periods: the Vikings, the Carolingians, the Gauls and the Carthaginians.

The realization of the book was initiated by Yann Kervran, director of the Reporter du Temps collection at Calleva editions, a collection which already includes several books of this type on themes such as the knight in the Middle Ages and the Gallic warrior. It was spread over a period of two years. The members of the Compagnie du Nord, supported by other friendly companies, traveled to several sites, notably in Denmark in Ribe or Roskilde or the natural park of the prehistoric times of Samara, in order to use boats and places reconstructed during photo shoots.

To conclude

It is therefore a very beautiful work, rich in its iconography evocative of the reconstituted period, to be recommended both for the neophyte and for those who already know the Vikings. It is supplemented by a bibliography relating to the main works of Jean Renaud and Régis Boyer, eminent specialists in Scandinavian civilization. Jean Renaud also prefaced the book.


• Vikings, 870 - 913, La saga des hommes du nord, Jérémy Dardenne, Yann Kervran, Calleva editions, Reporter du Temps.
• The Northern Company.
Images are from the book Vikings, courtesy of the publisher. All rights reserved Éditions Calleva

Video: Warriors of the North (January 2022).