These days, the most common image we can capture on movies or books about the Vikings is raiding and plundering scenes. The Vikings thereby became the most brutal and violent characters of all time for their nonstop raiding activities. They kept spreading the seed of grief and terror to many places they had been. But what were actually the reasons for Viking raids?
The majority of the Vikings at that time lived on island and peninsulas. Therefore, there was no room to expand their land. The land they had wasn’t fertile enough to develop farming. They were even too mountainous for people to live on. That is not to mention the harsh weather that could destroy both the crop and the human. The option they had to think of was to look for another place. It was not only to conquer and settle but also to find things that their homeland lacked of.
The culture of the Scandinavian existed and flourished for many decades before the name of Vikings became the raiders. The most distinguishable change was the population. Why that? Advances in cultivation and technology promised a more wonderful and nutritious food for the Vikings. More crops and harvest ensured a life of sufficiency and surplus for the unfruitful years. The food became more nourishing, leading to the positive change in health. So the life span was prolonged, people lived longer while the infants were relentlessly coming to life. This gradually caused the population pressure in the Viking society. The population pressure motivated arguments between clans and clans as well as the drive to move away and find a new land.
Indeed, the Vikings coincidentally stayed in the same era with new technological advances at that time. The most noticeable was the sail-powered longship. The longships that could carry many men through the vast ocean were the most dangerous but still exciting thing to do. The new horizon was just at their sight. They got something to carry them toward that new horizon to step out of their ancestral land. So they did reach out for it, risking their own life to win a fortune or retreating back to their shells.
The Vikings wanted more. Their final destination was never to lead a normal life on a farm with cattle. They wanted more to satisfy not only themselves but their family as well. The fastest way to change their life was not sitting there and caring the crops. The fastest way but also the riskiest to become rich was to travel to another land. Plundering and raiding. Violence helped them to gain the advantage over their victims. They desired coins, slaves, livestock, treasures, and more importantly the fame and the higher social rank in their community. Once they had finished their raids and traveled back with loads of treasure, the eyes looking at them were full of admiration and respect. They were no longer free men. Those raiders had done honorable deed to change their life.