Conquered and conquerors

In the Middle Ages during the 8th century, the lands of England were subject to invasions from the Vikings of Scandinavia.

These Vikings were also the great international traders of the 9th and 10th centuries:

  • They travelled to the Byzantine and Arab Empires to trade silks and spices for the slaves they captured in their many raids across Europe.
  • The Vikings founded Dublin as a trading centre and in England they transformed York into the most important trading town outside of London.
  • Jorvik, which was the Viking name for York, was not only a centre where goods were traded but also a place where things were made. There was manufacturing as well as commerce. Individual craftsmen made leather goods, metal tools and pottery for local sale. Other craftsmen made better quality goods in larger quantities that were used for bartering or selling in a wider market.
  • Jorvik became the base for the leaders of the Viking army that invaded England in 865. The Viking armies were not paid a salary and so risked their lives in battle to gain valuable objects, slaves or gold. After some fighting it became common for the English rulers to simply pay them large sums of gold and silver to go away. This treasure often found its way back to Jorvik and other Viking settlements in England and in Scandinavia.
Map showing the Viking's economic journeys between Scandinavia, York and Normandy