Northmen from Scandinavia (q.v.) who traversed the waterways of Europe in the eighth and ninth centuries as pirates and merchants. From ca. 835 Viking raids on Britain (q.v.), Ireland, and the Carolingian empire became incessant. The first Rus (q.v.) were Vikings who established a state at Kiev (q.v.), from which they launched an attack on Constantinople (q.v.) in 860. In 988 Vladimir I (q.v.) of Kiev sent 6,000 Rus soldiers to serve with Basil II (q.v.), after which the Varangians (q.v.), as they were called, fought for Byzantium (q.v.). The elite Varangian Guard (q.v.) was stationed in the Great Palace in Constantinople (qq.v.). In the 11th century, adventurers from the Viking state of Normandy, carved out a state in southern Italy (q.v.) by 1071, then conquered Sicily (q.v.). Normans (q.v.) also fought as mercenaries in Byzantine armies throughout the 11th century, including at the battle of Mantzikert (q.v.) in 1071. Among the most famous Viking adventurers was Harold Hardrada (q.v.), whose career included service with George Maniakes in Sicily (qq.v.).

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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  • Vikings —    Raiders from Norway and Denmark who made forays into what was later known as the Low Countries, where they plundered towns such as Antwerp, Utrecht, Dorestad, Ghent, and Tiel. The economic and especially commercial development of these regions …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

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