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The wild life of the Vikings..........

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Viking Chiefs in Vestern Europe

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In year 870 the northern part of the middle Franconian empire was divided up between East Franconia and West Franconia. At the coast the empire of Karl den Skaldede (Carl the Bald-headed) reached almost all the way to the Rhine, and he immediately allied himself with the viking chief Rurik who for a long time had secured a really good foothold in Dorestad and Friesland and who possibly was the nephew of Harald Klak.
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The policy pursued by Lothar and his successors had been to secure the hinterland via agreements with viking chiefs who got bases at the estuaries. Among other things Harald Klak had received Walcheren in year 841, and when Rurik began ravaging along the Rhine and Lothar could not conquer him, he met with Rurik and gave him Dorestad as well as other counties in return for a promise of fidelity. This happened in year 850. The political games between the Franconian empires, Denmark and the viking chiefs along the coast were far from distinct. Still, it is certain that Friesland several times housed claimants to the Danish Throne who gathered silver and made a status through good offices and who enjoyed the independence just like other magnates of the Franconian empire. As mentioned Harald Klak was driven away from Denmark and in year 855 Rurik and his relative Godfred for a short time obtained power over a part of the country but had to return to Friesland and Dorestad.  
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These chiefs could not or would not obstruct all assaults in the area. After the first attacks in the years 834-837 Dorestad was ravaged again in the years 846, 847, 857 and 863 and soon the city lost its importance probably because of the many viking attacks, changes in the reaches of the river and a huge flood. Also other places in Friesland were plundered. In year 867 Rurik was driven away by Friesland´s inhabitants and they feared that he would come back with Danish auxiliary troops. The last time he was heard of was in year 873.  
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Karl den Skaldede (Carl the Bald-headed) died in year 877, and in the following 11 years five different rulers had command over the West Franconian empire and this period was marked by internal struggle. The expeditions flared up again after a rather quiet period in Karl´s (Carl´s) last years where many vikings had been in Britain. They carried on ravaging along the coast, but also the hinterland in Flandern and the area along the Rhine suffered heavily. In year 880 i.e. Tournai and convents at the river Scheldt were ravaged and in year 881 the land between Scheldt and Somme suffered. In 882 it was told that the famous Hasting from Loire ravaged the area along the coast and that other vikings burned Cologne and Trier as well as a lot of convents in the country along the rivers Meuse, Moselle and the Rhine. Karl den Tykke (Charles the Fat) who had an Imperial title entered into an agreement with chief Godfred who was baptized and was given Friesland and the other fiefs which Rurik had once had. Other chiefs received gold and silver which he procured from the big treasures of churches and convents. Primarily, it was this kind of riches in which the vikings were interested. Riches which had been collected for centuries but also slaves and properties and gold from big cities. They were also able to procure big amounts by capturing prominent persons who had to be ransomed.  
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But Godfred had large ambitions. His wife Gisla was the daughter of Lothar the Second and her brother persuaded Godfred into rising in rebellion against the Emperor. As to the well-informed Regino´s chronicle he was promised half the empire if the plan succeeded. He sent a message to the Emperor that the condition of adhering to the promised fidelity and defend the borders which he had been trusted against attacks from his own countrymen was contingent of him also receiving Coblenz, Andernach, Sinzich and several imperial Crownlands. This was because of the quantity of wine which flowed abundantly here compared to the country which did not raise any wine and which he was given owing to the generosity of the Emperor. On many other occasions the argument of wine-producing areas was used in connection with delineation of frontiers and apportionment of land in the Franconian Empire, but actually the purpose was to get bases in the inland or if the request was refused it was an excuse for rebellion. The plan also included a large auxiliary troop which was called in from his mother country that had to be Denmark, but it was discovered and Godfred was killed in year 885. This was the last time a viking chief was appointed in Friesland.  
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The expeditions went on, but new fortresses were built and gradually the defence was better organized. Towards the end of the ninth century the palmy days were almost over. In year 890 a viking army tried to exploit an internal conflict in the independent Brittany, but in the end it was defeated and left in a northerly direction. In year 891 the army was defeated by the German King Arnulf at river Dyle, a tributary of the river Scheldt, and during the same year some recently built castles were mentioned. It might well be that some of the large and sometimes circular ring castles from that time are the ones that can be seen along the coast of what is now Northern France, Belgium and Zeland in the South of the Netherlands - among others Souburg in the island Walcheren. After some successful plunders in year 892 the army went to Britain with possessions and families probably because they wanted to settle there. The Loire chief Hasting did so too. However, the defence in Britain under King Alfred was effective and in year 896 the army surrendered and disbanded. Some of them went to the viking empires in East Anglia and Northumbria and others went back to the familiar areas around the river Seine.  
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Throughout the tenth century the Western European empires grew strong and the balance of power tipped. Now Denmark´s southern border was threatened and pushed over several times by the German empire. Towards the end of the century when the expeditions towards the west began again, there were a couple of plunders in the familiar and lucrative viking objective Friesland, but otherwise it was Britain that suffered. The viking period in Western Europe was over with the exception of the Normandy.

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