TOM SHIPPEY’S JUDGMENT ON “RAIDERS OR TRADERS”. I have posted several times on the issue of whether Vikings were “raiders” or “traders”. I have generally supported the “trader” side of the argument. For example, I posted here about a report in the Independent on a three-day conference at Cambridge University . The Independent concluded that: “New research suggests they were model immigrants who co-existed peacefully with the natives.” I used to tell the kids that the Vikings spread civilization. Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey had a review article in the London Review of Books (April 3) on an exhibit on the Vikings at the British Museum. (I have quoted Shippey several times, including here.) Shippey comes down strongly on the “raider” side of the issue. He rejects claims that Vikings prevailed because Viking ships were better than other ships of the time. Shippey is an authority on ancient languages and ancient myths (this wikipedia entry says that: “Like Tolkien, Shippey became fond of Old English, Old Norse, German and Latin, and of playing rugby.”). Shippey says that the legends of the Vikings show that “the societies of Scandinavia were just unusually aggressive, even by the high standards of Roman and post-Roman Europe.”

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