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Romanticism in the Viking Age

The Vikings are Scandinavian warriors who became the major players in the long and colourful period of the Viking Age during the later part of the 18th century. For three hundred years, the Viking warriors went from England to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the rest of the British islands in the European continent to raid, pillage, trade and sometimes settle on the land.

During the reign of the Vikings in smaller European towns and villages, the townspeople were always on the lookout for the familiar mast and hull of the majestic Viking ships. The excellent trading and navigational skills of the Norsemen further contributed to their success in raiding and pillaging of the lands.

Their main targets were often rich monasteries, but they also had a part in the growing of the economy in the villages due mainly to their exceptional skills as tradesmen.

Romanticism lends a positive air to a somewhat grim event or experience. During the later part of the eighteenth century in the westernmost part of Europe, Romanticism evolved.

Basically, Romanticism is an artistic movement composed of writers, poets, musicians, artists, as well as politicians and philosophers who displayed their knowledge through emotions and their imagination. The term Viking first had a connotation of Romanticism during the 18th century. On modern word usage, the word Viking literally means a group of people who went away on expeditions be it for raiding, pillaging or exploration purposes.

Poets, writers and musicians are instrumental with the Romanticism of the Viking Age. Here are some of the key personalities who contributed to the Romanticism of the 300-year period of the Viking saga:

1. Erik Gustaf Geijer


Erik Gustaf Geijer, a writer, historian and composer from Sweden, wrote the famous poem "The Viking". The popularisation of the poem "The Viking" is the major turning point which head marked the Romanticism during the Viking Age.

Here, the Viking is described as the opposite of a tall savage man who pillaged lands and robbed the people of their properties. Instead, a Viking was described as a Norseman who is a heroic, ideal seafarer.

2. Esias Tegner
Esaias Tegner is another Swedish writer who lent a romantic air to the people's perception of the Vikings. He has written the "Frithjofs Saga" or the story of Frithiof, which became popular all throughout the
United Kingdom and Germany.

This writer was born at Kyrkerud in the Varmland province. He was known as Sweden's father of modern poetry because of his romantic take on the Viking saga.

The Story of Frithiof was published in 1825 and its publication became the turning point in Tegner's career. The epic saga made him one of the most famous European poets during that time.

3. Richard Wagner


The famous German composer Richard Wagner is said to have strong influences of the Nordic mythology in his musical pieces. His Nordic influences further enhanced the Romanticism of the Viking era during that time.

The Romanticism of the Viking Age had a lot more to do with politics rather than having a direct relation to the history of the Viking Age. Its purpose was mainly to encourage the Swedes to claim Finland back, which they lost to the Russians in the 1809 war.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 29/07/2008



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