Viking Children: Tough Childhood and Life of Struggle

What is the most common Viking image we usually catch sight on the media? A man in a good shape was wielding his axe with skills and his eyes full of experience and suffering. To become a warrior, not to mention an elite one, one Viking had to sacrifice a lot. They had to venture their time, their youth, and generally their childhood. Though not many of the Vikings were warriors, most of the Viking children experienced an extremely tough childhood. It all boiled down to the fact that they had to survive in the environment where the nature was not their sole enemy.

Viking children had to go through a tough childhood

As mentioned, nature was not the only enemy to the Vikings. Besides the harsh weather, the Vikings had to encounter other savage tribes. In between looting and being looted, they chose to loot. But in order to loot, an army of warriors was a must. This urged them to train the Viking children very soon in order to make them elite.

The Viking children had to struggle since their first cry

A child has always been a happiness for the parents. But only a strong newly-born baby granted the feeling of happiness in the Viking Age. If the child was sick or physically disabled, their family would abandon him.

Viking children would be left dead alone in the jungle if he/she was a sick child. It was common in the Viking society
If the Viking newly-born baby was sick, he/she would be abandoned from their community since their birth

Commonly, the family would leave the sick baby in the jungle and let him die. It is inhuman in this day and age but in the Viking age, it wasn’t. Because the Vikings thought a sick baby was a misfortune for only their family but also their clan. Giving up on a sick baby since his/her birth was reasonable to the Vikings.

So for each Viking child, to be alive, they must be physically healthy first.

Until they reached 12 years old

Before the Viking children turned 12 – a remarkable period in their life, they must master sets of skills to survive in their community.

For the Viking girls, learning how to run the house was compulsory. They would always accompany their mothers and older sisters to watch and learn. There were many things to master though.

Besides doing the house chores, they had to master cooking skills, especially brewing the beverage. When they came up age, they need to run their family on their own because most of the time their husband would work outside the house.

Viking child on the arm of mother. The Viking childhood was completely different from ours now. Because they had to face many threats and dangers in since their birth
The most peaceful moment of a Viking child must be during their sleep on the mother’s arms

Cleaning the house, cooking and preparing the meals, milking the cow, making medicine, feeding domestic animals, etc. Those might sound easy but the Viking girls had to spend their childhood to master them.

Meanwhile, the Viking boys had little time to play, either. They would follow their father to the farm to learn. Generally, they need to know how to make little seeds become a fruitful harvest.

It was easy theoretically. But when they practiced, many challenges encountered. For example, a sudden storm which they could not predict would deprive them of their survival.

Viking children learnt to master sets of skills for survival. The Viking children life was completely different from what we have today
The Viking boys had to follow their fathers and brothers to the farm to watch and learn

Moreover, they had to learn how to use an axe – the weapon they had since their childhood. Hunting, chopping down the trees, fishing, etc. They had to practice a multitude of times before they skillfully control their axe.

When they finally reached 12

12 was an important phase for the Viking children because it marked the end of their childhood. Because the lifespan of the Viking was about 45 – 50 years old, their childhood generally ended at 12.

When the Viking children turned 12, the majority of them would have to get married. Their parents would arrange their marriage and the Viking marriage usually brought some economic or political advantage for both families.

As they got married by the age of 12, they became the real adults whether they wanted it or not. They had to embark on a new journey in life. The journey without the parental guide and a journey full of responsibilities not only for themselves but for their new family as well.

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