Scandinavia 750 CE

Scandinavian society was experiencing change as regional kingdoms were beginning to replace the local chiefdoms.

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What is happening in Scandinavia in 750CE

Scandinavia was a region in flux at this time. The hunter-gatherer and reindeer-herding Lapps were being pushed further north as Scandinavian farming communities spread northward. They carried with them a long tradition of seafaring; coastal routes had always been easier than the mountainous and swampy overland routes, and the well-sheltered coastal waters, fjords, lakes and navigable rivers meant that for thousands of years boats were the most important means of transport. The poverty of the soils in much of Scandinavia also encouraged fishing, seal hunting and sea-borne trade.

Since 500, Scandinavian society seems to have become more militaristic, dominated by a warrior elite led by warlike chieftains. Fortified settlements multiplied across the region. By the 7th and 8th centuries, the chiefdoms were being amalgamated into regional kingdoms. The most advanced of these kingdoms was that of the Danes, whose kings were powerful enough to have an earthwork barrier constructed right across the Jutland peninsula. Elsewhere, the Swedes and the Gotar of present-day Sweden formed powerful kingdoms, and in Norway, the fragmented nature of the land encouraged the development of small independent kingdoms along the coast.

The Scandinavians had had trade links with western Europe since at least Roman times, via the coastal routes along the North Sea. By this date also the Swedes were active as traders eastwards, along the Gulf of Finland, and had established a small trading colony on the banks of Lake Lagoda, just inland from the gulf.

Next map, Scandinavia in 979

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