The Northmen, the terror of the coasts for perhaps hundreds of years, didn’t set out to make life difficult for everyone. They began because they wanted to make life better for themselves and their families. The winters were long, the growing season for farming short, and life could be pretty harsh much of the year. Men of valor, men who wanted to protect their families and enrich themselves, moved outward in their efforts to do so.
Some were like Ragnar Lo∂brok, from History Channel’s VIKINGS. A farmer and fisherman, he wanted more – wanted to provide for his growing family, wanted renown as was considered favorable among his people. In the first season of this wonderful show, we see how he managed to do just that, using his creativity, strength, and battle prowess as well as people skills and compassion.
Quite a remarkable man, all the way around, eh?
Like the VIKINGS series to date, my trilogy has three parts, and the first part (first season, as it were) involved a man named Tuirgeis who led a raid to Éire – Ireland – to gain wealth for trading. The Northmen raided the Green Isle and then took goods and slaves across the ocean, to trade for what they wanted and needed back home. Nordweg.
As Ragnar found out in VIKINGS, Agnarr and Tuirgeis discovered in Éire’s Captive Moon that having a slave carries obligations. Ragnar found himself making friends with his Christian priest, in the television show. And Tuirgeis found himself eventually adopting Cowan—also a Christian—out of slavery and into his own family. Agnarr, too, found himself developing feelings for his captive, Charis.
Lives do carry obligations for those with the heart to feel them.
The people of the North were not heartless. They weren’t “bad” folks taken as a whole – they just had a set of goals that tended to take priority. The people of most import were their FAMILIES. Their friends, their villages. In Norway, there weren’t kingdoms in the early 9th Century, but there were loyalties to strong leaders, jarls, overlords. In the land of the Danes, there was a king to whom others pledged loyalty. Other people? Well, if they were weak enough to be victims, they didn’t deserve not to be, was the rationale of many.
This doesn’t excuse what they did, of course. Depriving someone of their freedom isn’t good in anyone’s book, but often one has to be on the other side of a problem before one sees it. For Agnarr, he felt a bit of that other side when the village of Balestrand was invaded by outsiders.
Problem is that for some, the acquisition of anything leads to the desire for more of it. Power, wealth, status, pride… All of these things can create a deeper hunger for more of the same, which is where a simple wish for bettering the life of a family can grow into a thirst for, say, ruling a people.
And ruling, as Tuirgeis finds out and as Ragnar Lo∂brok likely will discover, is far different than merely conquest.
Tomorrow: My favorite episode from Season One. 🙂