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King Sigurd Magnusson, like King Harald before him, took up the fight against Moslem expansion by taking 60 Viking ships to fight in Portugal and Spain and then on to Morocco and the Balearic Islands. He was well received by his Norwegian predecessors (Normans) on Sicily, where Roger II Guiscard was duke. King Sigurd, with the consent of the pope, raised Roger to the rank of king and then proceeded on in 1110 to conquer the fortress Sidon, in Lebanon. The first cardinal to visit Norway was Nicholas, who later became Pope Adrian IV and his visit probably helped to make the Catholic Church the greatest power in Norway at the time. Most of the rest of the century was a period of confusion, marked by wars of succession and by a struggle against the growing power of the clergy. Nevertheless, there was expansion of trade and increasing prosperity. Sverre became king in 1184 and maintained a strong monarchy against both aristocratic and clerical opposition, thanks to support from small landowners. (Ref. 119, 95) Additional Notes


King Sverker amalgamated the Sveas and the Goths and was then succeeded by Eric IX Jedvardsson in 1150. Erik restored Christianity and then conquered the heathen Finns, establishing seven-century domination over those people. (Ref. 222, 119)


Cavalry was first used in Denmark in 1134 and this accentuated a feudal tendency as a new class of professional, military nobles appeared. In this period many Danes returned from England where William had started to persecute them and subsequently much Danish building had an English influence. Valdemar (or Waldemar) I, the Great, be came

Danish king in 1157 and gave the country a strong government, as trade increased. Copenhagen was founded as a market outlet by the chief minister, Bishop Absalon. Together the king and this minister wiped out the savage Wends, pirates from the Island of Rugen. Valdemar married two of his daughters to two of Frederick Barbarossa's sons. Absalon although not very scholarly himself, got his clerk, Saxe, to write Denmark's chronicles in Latin. Sweden never had such a chronicle and thus Swedish history is not well documented. (Ref. 117, 222)


It was raiding by the Finns on the Swedish coast which finally provoked the Swedish King Eric IX to retaliate by conquering Finland. He then withdrew most of his troops and left a Bishop Henry to convert the Finns. They promptly killed the missionary, although much later they made redemption by making him a saint. In the meantime, however, they reverted to paganism for another 50 years.

Overseas scandinavian centers

Iceland's Mount Hekla volcano erupted in 1104 and again in 1154, devastating farmland for 45 miles around its base. The Scandinavian colonies on Greenland continued throughout this century. (Ref. 222) Additional Notes

Eastern europe

Southern baltic area

When the Cuman invasion ended Russian trade with Constantinople, the exports of tallow, honey, wax and furs were sent via the Baltic to the West and the Baltic ports, already rich with fisheries, became even more important. In these states just south of the Baltic, Christianity came in by means of the German sword, through the Teutonic Knights, although the conversion was not actually official until after 1190. In the meantime, Poland subdued the Pomeranians (1102-1124) and King Boleslav III gained access to the Baltic Sea. He divided his realm into five principalities for his sons, with Cracow as the capital. The great landlords and knights had become well-defined social classes and along with the clergy became ever more powerful. After an eight year reign by Vladislav II (Ladislas), Boleslav IV took over in 1146. He was not a strong ruler and he lost territory to Albert the Bear and Henry the Lion. As far as the Germans were concerned, Poland was only a dukedom and Frederick Barbarossa again invaded Poland in 1157, forcing the submission of "Duke" Boleslav. There followed Mieszko III, who was so despotic that his own nobles drove him out in 1177 and then Casimir II, the Just. (Ref. 137, 222, 119)


This was the century of the decline and fall of the Kievan realm and according to the historical schema of Toynbee (Ref. 220) it represented the "Time of Troubles" in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Society, Russian Division. Between 1054 and 1224 there were 83 civil wars, 46 invasions of Russia, 16 wars waged by Russian states on others, and 293 princes disputing 64 thrones. (Ref . 49). Kiev, itself, succumbed internally to class warfare and a declining wealth, precipitated by the diversion of trade routes through Mediterranean channels and finally to external force as the Mongols invaded in the next century. The Cumans remained powerful in the south and continually raided until the local people fled north to the forest, emptying the steppe, but increasing the population of the central and northern principalities, including Moscow, which was founded in A.D. 1147, and Novgorod, which built up a far-flung empire far into the arctic. (Ref. 8). Vladimir Monomakh, Prince of Kiev, carried on numerous campaigns against the Cumans and his reign marked the last period of brilliance at Kiev. The Volga Bulgars still held the middle Volga region and prevented Russian expansion eastward. South of the Cumans in the Caucasus there was a large group of Alans and the Kingdom of Georgia. (Ref. 137)

The great banking houses of Florence started the European economy revival and Genoa followed. (Ref. 292)

The Irish text, the title of which translates as War of the Irish with the Foreigners, like many of the medieval sagas, is a piece of dynastic propaganda, written in this century. It starts with an account of Viking attacks of the 9th and 10th centuries and then goes into an heroic saga about 2 Munster kings, Mathgamain and his brother Brian Boru (further described on page 557), from whom the O'Brien kings traced their descent. (Ref. 301)

Throughout Scandinavia scattered royal estates having several houses served as bases for royal officials. (Ref. 301)

The death of King Magnus on his second expedition to Ulster in 1102, marks the end of the Viking Age. In western Norway two classes of freemen were recognized: the "hauldar", owning inherited land and other men of free descent, farming land not theirs by inheritance. The law of Trondelag recognized these two classes but also a third, lower class of landless freemen. "Mansbot" was an atonement price, the legal value of a man's life and varying according to his class. After a killing, a feud could be averted by paying the "mansbot" to the family, which could be extended to 4th or 5th cousins' Much that has been written about this may be pure fantasy, constructed by later medieval lawyers. Norway had a single king in this century, but his influence did not extend far inland. (Ref. 301)

Several Icelandic farms were smothered by tephra from the eruption of Mount Hekla, and many of these have been excavated. Power in Iceland was divided among many chieftains. The early church was not a royal institution, but early bishops were, in fact, chieftains. All chiefs fought for more land and power, but in the meeting of the Allthing once a year the unity of the country was symbolically expressed. This was the century when Icelanders began to compose sagas, first about Norwegian kings and Icelandic bishops, later about the families who were believed to have played prominent parts in the history of the country. Some 300 farms had been established in Greenland by this century. (Ref. 301)

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Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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