The word Viking in the Old Norse language actually translates to mean raider or pirate.  Norse youth during the Viking period were encouraged to go on “honorable” raids, but were expected to eventually settle down and farm when they matured.  The Vikings were particularly successful in their raiding activities due to the superiority of their boats in comparison to other people’s boats at the time.  Viking boats had a shallow draft and wide beam that allowed them to be beached in unexpected places surprising their intended victims.

Vikings followed a pagan religion that fostered the philosophical understanding that for most people death meant that they ceased to exist.  The qualities of bravery, generosity and loyalty were especially esteemed and would guarantee an afterlife.  Some scholars believe that the cessation of spiritual benefits of the raiding due to introductions of Christianity was the actual cause of the end of the Viking era.

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