Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Romans and Scandinavia

Did the Romans ever encounter the Vikings?

Answer requested
by Mehmet Yılmaz

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Answered just now
There were certainly traders outside the … wait, you didn’t say Swedes or Danes in Augustus’ time, you said Vikings.


“The complicity of Björn in all this is unclear. However, a number of Frankish, Arab and Irish sources mention a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean in 859-861 where he was supposedly involved. After raiding down the Iberian coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, the Norsemen pillaged the south of France, where the fleet stayed over winter, before landing in Italy where they captured the city of Pisa.”

Björn Ironside - Wikipedia

But Pisa was inhabited by Romans, ergo … yes.

Now, if you meant Ancient Romans, and meant Vikings specifically as Scandinavians of the Viking age, no, since the Viking age is in the Middle Ages, after Antiquity.

On the other hand, if you meant Ancient Romans and Scandinavians of the people later represented by Vikings in the later Viking age, again, yes, at least indirectly.

It is very clear that the Danish King Peace-Froda is supposed to be contemporary of Caesar Augustus. Snorre and Saxo differ on whether he is identic to Froda Halfdansson or they differ as Froda I and Froda II. However, I’ll take Snorre’s word they were the same. Either way, the grandson (or second successor) of the false god Frey who was stepson to the false god Odin (both were men pretending to be gods by false miracles, probably done by hypnosis), was a guest with Froda Halfdansson and drowned in a vat of hydromel after getting drunk there.

If the people involved had not known at all about Romans, they would not have known Froda was contemporary to Caesar Augustus. We do know that Roman coins have been found in places from there dated to 1 C …

"After a brief episode under Augustus 4, mass export of coins from the Empire to the North resumed during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and continued — with varying intensity and many interruptions — until the late 5th, in some regions, even into A.D. 6th century."

Circulation of Roman Coinage in Northern Europe in Late Antiquity

We also know that about hundred years later, the Roman writer Tacitus mentioned the south of Scandinavia. In “Germanica” or “Germania”.

However, it would be historically incorrect to call Scandinavians back then "Vikings". But the Vikings knew about them, because Scandinavians cherished history.

And, this is an edit, there were Swedish Vikings at the court of Constantinople, which considered itself heir of Rome, so, as Romans. But, again, this is not Ancient Romans, and I consider the inhabitants of Pisa as equally Roman.

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