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Sea Kingdoms of the North. 862 AD to 1263 AD

In the year 862, Rurik of the Rus, an Eastern Viking Chieftain and his warriors were invited to rule over the Slavs of Ladoga and Novgorod. This was the first independent Eastern Viking Kingdom outside of Scandinavia. At almost the same time, in the year 866 AD, the Danish Vikings massed a “Great Heathen Army” and invaded the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. They conquered York and set up the Viking Kingdom of Jorvik, the first independent Western Viking Kingdom outside Scandinavia. These events took place almost a Century after the first recorded raid by Vikings on Lindisfarne Monastery in Northumbria. This pattern of massed invasion and migration across the northern seas against vulnerable coastal and river communities was followed up all around the shores of the Baltic, North, Irish, Celtic and Norwegian Seas, and the North Atlantic Ocean. Scandinavian Sea Kingdoms and Earldoms were carved out in far flung places such as Ireland, Normandy, Orkney, England, Man, Wolin, Ukrainia, Russia, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, the Shetland Islands, the Faroes, and Vinland. The common denominator of all these Sea Kingdoms was access from the sea by long ships. They looked outward to each other across the seas for trade, communication, migration and military support, instead of inwards towards their own central land masses. At their peak, many of the Scandinavian Sea Kingdoms were forged into one vast North Sea Empire by Knut the Great in the early 11th Century. After Knut’s death in 1035 AD the North Sea Empire was gradually broken up as indigenous peoples fought back against Viking control and forged new Medieval Kingdoms. The last Overseas Scandinavian Sea Kingdom to fall was the Sealordship of the Western Isles of Scotland held by King Hakon of Norway. Alexander the Third was King of mainland Scotland and determined to get control of the Western Isles and Highlands back in Scots control after 400 years of viking rule. The ground forces of Scotland met the sea forces of Norway in a battle on the West Coast at Largs in 1263. The battle was indecisive but the vikings withdrew, so the Scots regained control of all their lands. It was the end of Scandinavian control in Britain. In the 400 years from 862 to 1263, in response to Scandinavian invasions, Northern Europe was transformed from a Dark Ages world of petty Kingships to complex feudal Medieval Kingdoms that still live on today as our modern European Nation States. Even Knut’s Great North Sea Empire of a millennia ago has been dubbed a successful forerunner, and early model of the modern European Union. Capricornia Medieval Guild members recreate historically accurate personas and equipment from this highly formative and influential period of late Dark Ages, Early Medieval Northern European history. We do this by factual study of the cultures and peoples of these Northern Sea Kingdoms through archaeological finds, period manuscripts, period artworks, and surviving objects from the period. We reproduce the costumes and material culture of these peoples by first proving their existence within our time period by individually authenticating each item proposed, then faithfully reproducing its physical properties and historical use. By building upon each item with more authenticated items a member may then faithfully represent a persona or piece of equipment from a known culture of our time period. From these authentic personas and equipment we then go on to participate in living the lives of these personas at camps, feasts and historical displays.

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