The FIRST Pirates

I am addicted to the thought of Vikings.  If I were to chose any other garb to wear at the Renaissance Faires I attend, it would be as a Viking.  They were invariably the best warriors ever on the face of the planet, they were explorers and they were also the first pirates.  In fact, the argument could be made that without these stalwart people from the north, we might not have advanced quite as quickly as we did as a race.

The Vikings were explorers.  They were never satisfied with their own land.  They were always on the look out for another place to settle down.  The Vikings were masters of the sea.  They took their longships all over the European continent and beyond.  They have found Viking artifacts in what would become the New World years before Columbus set sail.  We know from history that Vikings sacked Rome.  We know that they made it to Africa.  And this is all before some cultures had even figured out that the world was round.  The interesting thing about the Vikings is that when they invaded an area – Ireland and North America for instance – they might just decide to move in.  They could take up residence and not only stay in the area but eventually begin to intermarry themselves out of existence.

Part of the reason that the Vikings were so successful as explorers was that they were unbeatable on the battlefield.  Vikings attacked and sacked towns with so much ferocity that the inhabitants normally gave up.  There are tales in Ireland of towns that would bring their valuables out and put them by the water so that they might avoid being invaded by the Vikings.  This is why I stopped watching the show Deadliest Warriors – they got it wrong. The Vikings would have beaten all of the ancient warriors and probably most of the modern warriors as well.  Vikings were a warlike people.  They fought as a way of life.

This made the Viking-seafaring life style very pirate like.  There are quite a few reasons for the Vikings being the first pirates:

  • They fought both ship-to-ship and on land.
  • They invaded and sacked towns, ships, castles and if they liked it enough they might just move in a stay.
  • They were innovative – long ships, square sails, rams, navigation, etc.

These things and many more made the vikings similar to pirates and certainly, the pirates learned form the Scandinavians became the ancestors of the pirates of the Golden Age.  Vikings were fearless, intrepid warriors on the sea that took what they wanted and were not afraid to explore their surroundings.