General Knowledge

Vikings: History and Mindset

This course looks at the forces that made the Vikings, their adaptive responses to changing circumstances, and most of all, their successful mindset. It asks the hard questions: What got them started? What gave them their edge? How did they manage to terrorize Europe for three centuries, from Ireland to Ukraine? What tactics did successful kings use against them?

Lessons follow the careers of famous Vikings, like Ivar the Boneless and Egil Skallagrímsson, and some not so famous, like Haesten, “the Vikings’ Viking.” Lessons also cover the Viking assaults on Ireland, England, Spain, Russia, and the Muslim world. Most of all, the course looks at the Viking response to death and the Viking sense of humor, with its characteristic mean streak as shown in many famous scenes.

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Created by Tom Shippey
10 lessons
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Free for 7 days. Then $7.5/mo.
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About the author

1 course

Tom Shippey has taught at six universities in the UK and the US, including both Oxford and Harvard. He is well known for his books on Tolkien and has published more than a hundred articles, many of them available online at (search “Tom Shippey”). A full list of books and other publications is available at