Drawing on a wealth of written, visual, and archaeological evidence, Yale University Professor Anders Winroth sheds new light on the complex society and culture of the legendary seafarers who were the Vikings in his recent book The Age of the Vikings (Princeton University Press, 2014).
The Vikings maintain their grip on our imaginations, but their image is too often distorted by medieval and modern myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and developed a vast trading network. They traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships, not only to raid, but also to explore. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets and even the infamous berserkers were far from invincible.
Winroth not only explains the Viking attacks, but also looks at Viking endeavors in commerce, politics, discovery, and colonization, and reveals how Viking arts, literature, and religious thought evolved in ways unequaled in the rest of Europe. He shows how the Vikings seized on the boundless opportunities made possible by the invention of the longship, using it to venture to Europe for plunder, to open new trade routes, and to settle in lands as distant as Russia, Greenland, and the Byzantine Empire. Challenging the image of the Vikings that comes so easily to mind, Winroth argues that Viking chieftains were no more violent than men like Charlemagne, who committed atrocities on a far greater scale than the northern raiders.
By dismantling the myths, The Age of the Vikings allows the full story of this period in medieval history to be told. By exploring every major facet of this exciting age, Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage.
Copies of The Age of Vikings will also be available for purchase and signing following the program.
About the author
Anders Winroth (b. 1965, Ludvika) is the Forst Family Professor of History at Yale University. He specializes in the history of medieval Europe, especially religious, intellectual, and legal history as well as the Viking Age.
In 2003 Winroth was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which honors individuals for the originality and creativity of their work and the potential to do more in the future.
He is also the author of The Making of Gratian’s Decretum (Cambridge University Press, 2001), The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe (Yale University Press, 2012), and The Age of the Vikings (2014). His research is focused on the cultural, intellectual, and legal history of the European High Middle Ages and on the economic and social history of early medieval Scandinavia.
Winroth received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1996 and was the Sir James Knott Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1996-98. He joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor in 1998, was promoted to associate professor in 2003, and to full professor in 2004. He served as chair of the Medieval Studies Program 2005-07.
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