Viking trading - The Other Great Legacy of the Norsemen

Viking trading

The immense trading network that the Norsemen maintained, which spanned from Greenland in the west to Baghdad and central Asia in the east, and included nearly all of the peoples that lived in between, was one of the most impressive aspects of the Viking Age.

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Like other centuries before it, the Scandinavian economy throughout the Viking Age was largely a subsistence economy. The majority of people were farmers in rural areas. The majority of what each household required to survive was created by its members, and the ordinary individual had few luxuries. However, there was some internal trade even before the Viking Age, mostly in the form of seasonal rural marketplaces.

However, Scandinavia's earliest urban centers began to emerge around the Baltic Sea and the North Sea at the commencement of the Viking Age in the seventh century. These "trading towns," as they are now often known, housed only approximately 1% to 2% of the population, but their impact on the Scandinavian economy was far greater than that estimate might imply. That's because, as their name suggests, trading towns integrated Scandinavia into the larger Eurasian trade networks that were active at the time.

The majority of Scandinavian farmsteads made their own handicrafts, including the clothing, tools, and other necessities for their residents. However, more individuals were able to become experts in one or more of these trades as trading towns grew in popularity. Blacksmiths, jewelers, beadworkers, antler carvers, and other full-time artisans came to the trading cities to manufacture their wares for export to foreign markets rather than only for sustenance or the meager trade that happened internally.

The breadth and nature of Viking Age commerce are shown by archaeological investigations at Hedeby, one of the most significant Scandinavian trading towns:

Scandinavian furs were especially appreciated overseas because the region's frigid environment encouraged the development of thick, luxurious pelts in indigenous animals.

One of the two major trading pillars for the Vikings was furs. Slaves were the other. During this time, the slave trade was practiced throughout Eurasia, including by the Vikings. The Arab Caliphate was the main purchaser of the slaves that the Vikings traded, and most of the deals took place in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean ports like Venice and Marseilles.

Typically, the Vikings sold men and women they had taken during raids as slaves. Given that the Vikings regularly plundered one another's towns, it follows that they routinely sold one another into slavery. They don't appear to have differentiated much in this sense between Scandinavians and non-Scandinavians, pagans and Christians, etc.; all that was important to them was market value. Trade towns were targeted by Viking raids, and given the high value items they produced and traded, it is easy to see why. They would have been particularly alluring targets.

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The primary reason the Vikings participated in the era's international trade was to satisfy their kings' need for exotic luxury items. It should thus come as no surprise that the founders and rulers of Viking trading cities were frequently Viking chieftains themselves because such imported goods were magnificent status symbols.

The size of a chieftain's fighting army was frequently proportionate to his income since the wealthiest chieftains could afford to be the most kind to the warriors who fought for them. A chieftain's chances of success in raiding increased proportionately with the size of his army, which in turn increased both his wealth and the number of soldiers under his command.

Simple Viking farmers, however, occasionally had weights for silver, suggesting that they had at least a little amount of silver to buy supplies for their farm from the outside world. This demonstrates that, while though providing chieftains with luxury commodities was trade's primary function, it was by no means its exclusive goal. People who lived in the rural regions close to trade cities sometimes exchanged excess items, usually food, for other things that went through the trading towns.

Viking Trade and Settlement

The importance of Viking settlements to Viking commerce cannot be overstated. The initial amicable encounters between the indigenous Irish and the Vikings in Viking sites like Ireland were commercial in character. Another indication of how rapidly such settlements were assimilated into a new global economy is the presence of silver hordes in Ireland that contain coins from other parts of the Viking World. Here, the colonies' original strategic military importance changed to economic and political importance. Place names also reflect the Vikings' wider economic significance and influence. Old Norse refers to the Copeland Islands as the "Merchant Islands," which are located off the coast of Ireland.

As the sole persistent Norse impact in the area is in the language, which is both trade focused and trade specialized, Normandy linguistic characteristics also point to the importance of trade in the Viking colonization. [10] Based on isotopic studies of walrus ivory from the Viking Diaspora, it is also thought that the walrus ivory trade may have been the main source of economic subsistence for the residents in the Viking Greenland towns.

Slave Trading during Viking age

One of the most significant trading commodities was slaves. Slaves were bought and sold by the Vikings via their network of commerce. Thralls were the name given to Viking slaves. The Islamic world supplied a sizable portion of the imported slaves. Slaves and prisoners were frequently of utmost importance during Viking raids, both for their labor value and financial worth. Slaves could be purchased and sold,[3]: 106 paid off debts, and were frequently offered as sacrifices in religious rituals. The value of a slave depends on their abilities, age, health, and appearance. Due to the Arab Caliphate's great demand, many slaves were sold to them. The Vikings sold many European Christians and Pagans to them.

Northern Europe also had a slave trade, and there, more Norse men and women were bought, sold, and kept as slaves. Records from Archbishop Timber's life indicate that this was a fairly typical occurrence. Additionally, it is implied in The Life of St. Anskar that slaves were a traded good. Instead of only being taken into custody and sold into slavery, people were frequently additionally detained as ransom prisoners. With one narrative from the Fragmentary Annals describing Vikings bringing "Blue Men" back from raids in the south as slaves, it seems possible that Viking Age Dublin became the heart of the Slave trade in Northwestern Europe. Most likely captured during invasions in either North Africa or the Iberian peninsula, these slaves were Black Africans.

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