Norwegian-Icelandic history comes to us largely through an intermediary who recorded the oral tradition, but with the authority of one born to the culture. Meet Snorre Sturlason, Icelandic chieftain, poet, writer of sagas, 1179-1241 AD, information at http://nbl.snl.no/Snorre_Sturlason/utdypning; or, click on Translate on the main search page for Snorre Sturlason, to find the material in English.
Any trip to Norway benefits from some advance research about Snorre Sturlason and his work; and move then to what we think we know of
a) all the Kings that touched on or came from Norway, especially those named Harald, and
b) the Holy Roman Emperors pressing north from Europe and determining religious and political history. FN 1
FN 1. Lens on Vikings
Norse Kings and the Holy Roman Empire. The importance of absorbing at least some of the sagas. Without that framework, this Scandinavian past can blur. Our own schooling largely omits Scandinavia except for cavalier self-serving deprecations on Vikings written by the victors or, at the time, those besieged.
- Barbaric? No more than the rest of Europe at the time, with the peacefully trading Viking groups finally responding to barbarisms of the Holy Roman Empire swallowing up northern Europe, is that so. Barbaric only meant, in origin, not-Greek. In that sense, we all are Barbaric. See discussion at http://www.arild-hauge.com/eraids.htm. Note specifically and appropriately the cite to the barbarism of Charlemagne as a catalyst for the regions north to rise up and fight back.
- PBS last night also named the Church, the version of the Holy Roman Emperors, as the greatest enemy of the Vikings. We should expect passive responses? See the brand of crucible steel sword known as +ulfberh+t. Ulfberht for short, in Secrets of the Viking Sword, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html