Slavic Vikings

Slavic Warriors

The ties between western slavic tribes, especially Poles and the vikings, especially Danes are well known mostly because of the archeological researches and scandinavian sagas.

Most of weapons and armours which Polish wariors used in the 10th and in the begining of the 11th were made in Scandinavia. Some wariors from the area of modern Poland were even joining the vikings while many vikings served as mercenaries on the court of first polish rulers.
One of the most interesting matters of the Viking-Slavic history is Jomsborg (today Wolin island and city) in Poland.
A slavic settlement where the Danes build a fort became a home of famous Jomsvikings who were most feared wariors renowned for their honour and their courage. They were well known on the whole Baltic area and feared by all the vikings who were coming back home from long journays with their spoils. Altough some historians claim that they were slavic pirates, there are evidences in the scandinavian saga’s that scandinavian element was strong if not dominant. Today most of historians agree that Jomsvikings were the mix of Scandinavians and Slavs who formed in Jomsborg famous viking society often called “Jomsviking League”. In the 11th century majority of Jomsvikings were Vends/Vinds (scandinavian word for Slavs) – especially after many of Jomsvikings were sluaghtered in unsuccesfull invasion of Norway – about which we know from the KING OLAF TRYGVASON’S SAGA. Finally they commited next big mistake and raided Denmark, in result Danish king sent his army, destroyed Jomsborg and killed most of the Jomsvikings.


Slavic Warriors

The vikings were calling Poles (in the 10th century a strong strong slavic tribe which was conquering surrounding slavic tribes) “Vinds”. Altough “Vinds”/”Vends” was the word which was describing all the western Slavs in the area of Baltic Sea.
The territory occupied by the western Slavs was a Vindland. Its ruler, the polish prince Mieszko I of the piast dynasty was known as Burizleif king of the Vindland.

Mieszko I ruler of Poland or in scandinavian version Burizleif king of the Vindland had 3 daughters, one of them married Sven Forkbeard king of Denmark, their famous son was Canute the Great. So, the mother of Canute the Great was the sister of the first polish king [b]Boleslav the Brave[/b], who even gave Canute a contingent of polish wariors for his invasion of England.

Lets look closer into “KING OLAF TRYGVASON’S SAGA” and what does it say about Jomsvikings and connections between Denmark and Poland.

“King Svein made a magnificent feast, to which he invited all the chiefs in his dominions; for he would give the succession-feast,or the heirship-ale, after his father Harald….(..)
The Jomsborg vikings came to the festival with their bravest men, forty ships of them from Vindland, and twenty ships from Skane.”

So, from the 60 ships on which the Jomsvikings came to visit Sven (father of Canute the Great) who just become the king of Denmark – 40 were slavic.
On that feast someone decided to use the Jomsvikings to his plans. They drunk to much beer and were droven into the intrigue which ended bad for them:

“Thereafter for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings was filled and drunk the largest horn to be found, and of the strongest drink…(…)..Thereafter Earl Sigvalde emptied a remembrance bowl to his father’s honour,and made the solemn vow, that before three winters came to an end he would go to Norway, and either kill Earl Hakon, or chase him out of the country. Thereupon Thorkel the Tall, his brother,made a solemn vow to follow his brother Sigvalde to Norway, and not flinch from the battle so long as Sigvalde would fight there. Then Bue the Thick vowed to follow them to Norway, and not flinch so long as the other Jomsborg vikings fought. At last Vagn Akason vowed that he would go with them to Norway, and not return until he had slain Thorkel Leira, and gone to bed to his daughter Ingebjorg without her friends’ consent…(…)…when the Jomsborg vikings had slept off their drink, they thought they had spoken more than enough.”

So, the Jomsviking sailed toward Norway in the force of the 60 ships, but the Norwegians were not surprised and met them on the sea with the 150 ships.

“The earls Hakon and Eirik lay in Halkelsvik, where all their
forces were assembled. They had 150 ships, and they had heard
that the Jomsborg vikings had come in from sea, and lay at the
island Hod; and they, in consequence, rowed out to seek them.
When they reached a place called Hjorungavag they met each other,and both sides drew up their ships in line for an attack.”

During the battle one of the Jomsviking’s Jarl’s found a chance to escape and left the battle which was lost. All together 35 ships escaped while 25 were still fighting. Most of the crews fought to death and the Norwegians captured only 30 wounded but still alive Jomsvikings. The norwegians begined execution:

“Vagn and thirty men were taken prisoners, and bound, and brought to land. Then came up Thorkel Leira, and said, “Thou madest a solemn vow, Vagn, to kill me, but now it seems more likely that I will kill thee.” Vagn and his men sat all upon a log of wood together. Thorkel had an axe in his hands, with which he cut at him who sat outmost on the log. Vagn and the other prisoners were bound so that a rope was fastened on their feet, but they had their hands free. One of them said, “I will stick this cloak-pin that I have in my hand into the earth, if it be so that I know anything, after my head is cut off.” His head was cut off, but the cloak-pin fell from his hand. There sat also a very handsome man with long hair, who twisted his hair over his head, put out his neck, and said, “Don’t make my hair bloody.” A man took the hair in his hands and held it fast. Thorkel hewed with his axe; but the viking twitched his head so strongly that he who was holding his hair fell forwards, and the axe cut off both his hands, and stuck fast in the earth.”

After doing it the young handsome viking said famous:
“Eigi Eru Enn Allir Jomsvikingar daudhir” (“Not Yet Are All the Jomsvikings Dead”).
The Norwegians were impressed and rewarded him and the remaining 12 of the Jomsvikings who were not executed yet with life and let them go back to Jomsborg.

Farther the Saga says about king Sven Forkbeard and his connections with Polish prince:



“The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married to Gunhild, a
daughter of Burizleif, king of the Vinds….(..)…Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, complained to his relation Earl Sigvalde, that the agreement was broken which Sigvalde had made
between King Svein and King Burizleif, by which Burizleif was to
get in marriage Thyre, Harald’s daughter, a sister of King Svein: but that marriage had not proceeded, for Thyre had given positive no to the proposal to marry her to an old and heathen king. “Now,” said King Burizleif to Earl Sigvalde, “I must have the promise fulfilled.” And he told Earl Sigvalde to go to Denmark, and bring him Thyre as his queen. Earl Sigvalde loses no time, but goes to King Svein of Denmark, explains to him the case; and brings it so far by his persuasion, that the king delivered his sister Thyre into his hands. With her went some female attendants, and her foster-father, by name Ozur Agason, a man of great power, and some other people. In the agreement between the king and the earl, it was settled that Thyre should have in property the possessions which Queen Gunhild had enjoyed in Vindland, besides other great properties as bride-gifts. Thyre wept sorely, and went very unwillingly. When the earl came to Vindland, Burizleif held his wedding with Queen Thyre, and received her in marriage; bus as long as she was among heathens she would neither eat nor drink with them, and this lasted for seven days…(…)…It happened one night that Queen Thyre and Ozur ran away in the dark, and into the woods, and, to be short in our story, came at last to Denmark. But here Thyre did not dare to remain, knowing that if her brother King Svein heard of her, he would send her back directly to Vindland. She went on, therefore, secretly to Norway, and never stayed her journey until she fell in with King Olaf, by whom she was kindly received.”

There in Norway she married Olaf King of Norway.

Anyway this Saga is quite interesting and says a lot about the connections between Western Slavs and Danes.

Whoever wants to read full text can find it here:

Source : AncientWarlords


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