Review: Vikings and Goths

Review: Vikings and Goths

Vikings and Goths: A History of Ancient and Medieval Sweden

by Gary Dean Peterson

 

Vikings and Goths cover

I have a complicated history with Vikings. Until I wrote Twilight Empress, they were blood-thirsty raiders who raped and raided Europe in the middle ages and “discovered” the New World well before Columbus. Like most people, I developed this attitude based on movies and TV shows and didn’t look too closely at any data that contradicted the stereotype. As I studied more deeply—particularly the Scandinavian influence in the fifth century (pre-Viking Age)—I found a much more interesting history of a complicated society of farmers, traders, warriors, and—of course—raiders. I was also surprised to find that Vikings and Goths were related.

In my studies for Twilight Empress, I learned that the Goths who raided Rome in AD 410, established a kingdom in Spain and southern France, and toppled the last Roman Emperor in 476 were most likely Scandinavians. They probably migrated from their Swedish homeland to Poland in the second century, then to the area north of the Black Sea. The advancing Huns pushed them into the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries laying the ground work for the “Fall” of Western Rome. (Eastern Rome centered in Constantinople morphed into, what is now known as, the Byzantine Empire and lasted another thousand years.) I used this background in all my books set in the fifth century. (more…)

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History in the News: Italy’s Woes, Roman Recycling and Forensic Genetics

History in the News: Italy’s Woes, Roman Recycling and Forensic Genetics

History in the News:

Italy’s Woes, Roman Recycling and Forensic Genetics

The Gates of Nineveh

The Gates of Nineveh

The recession is hitting our historical heritage hard. Governments all over the world are cutting back on staff, delaying maintenance on existing sites, allowing sites to “disappear” in the name of progress or jobs. National Geographic has a slide show of twelve ancient landmarks on the verge of vanishing. Many of the stories in this round-up are touched by the money factor. We’ll start with Italy’s woes. (more…)

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