I am pretty sure I have blood on my hands. I am at least half Viking – and given the mayhem the Vikings allegedly caused in my other homelands, I may well be a little more…
I have now finished Colin Thubron’s excellent book, “Shadow of the Silk Road” and questions of ancestry, tribe and history are subjects he addresses over the course of many nation states, ethnic groups and shared versions of history (accurate or not). Reinvention is not a modern concept.
We have always lived in half-truths, in perceptions, in mythology. History is an imperfect science so we never know exactly what happened in the past – although it is getting a lot harder in the age of social media.
But, luckily for the Vikings, there were no selfies or embarrassing posts on Facebook of the pillage you were hoping to forget… so Vikings can do a little rearranging of history without anyone being able to know for sure if it is just wishful thinking.
My knowledge of ancient history is improving but it is still shaky so I keep an open mind when it comes to the Vikings. No society is composed of only bad guys – and you need to understand the context in which people behave before you can even consider passing judgement of any kind.
This is the right mindset in which to enter Trondheim (the next stop on Hurtigruten). It used to be called Nidaros and was Norway’s first capital city. It was a port of departure for Viking expeditions. Apparently Leif Eriksson is Leiv Eiriksson in Norway, the dude who discovered Canada – Viking no matter what direction I turn 🙂
I take a little issue with the Hurtigruten info that says the first export of American goods to Europe took place in Trondheim in 1100 AD. That stuff came from CANADA, dude 🙂 At the time, I think it just came from Newfoundland. But not America…
The really big thing to see in Trondheim is the Cathedral. I have
seen a lot of churches! This is country 48… but I was impressed! It is something new. A little Viking, a little Gothic, a little Baroque… a piece of history, which is always more messy than people seem to remember.
It’s not too often a Viking becomes a saint and is the centrepiece of the market square. It’s not clear if he was a great guy – or just a great politician. But it does seem Vikings elected leaders so it’s nice to see some non-royal on display. Someone who had to do something for that sainthood beyond just be born into the right family…