Viking Raids from the North

The most destructive raiders, however, were the Vikings. At home, they were independent farmers ruled by land-owning chieftains. When they took to the seas, they snapped the last threads of unity in Charlemagne's empire. These expert sailors and ferocious fighters burst out of Scandinavia, a northern region that now includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They looted and burned communities along the coasts and rivers of Europe from Ireland to Russia.

The Vikings were not just fierce warriors. They were traders and explorers as well. In their far-ranging voyages, they sailed around the Mediterranean Sea and crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

Leif Erikson set up a short-lived Viking colony on the continent of North America in about the year 1000. Other Vikings opened trade routes that linked northern Europe to Mediterranean lands. Vikings also settled in England, northern France (Normandy), Ireland, and parts of Russia.

Illustration of a king wearing a crown seated with a book, surrounded by men talking.

An illustration from the 1800s shows Charlemagne sitting back to listen as scholars and lords at his court read aloud to him, engage in lively discussion, and write in their manuscripts.


  1. Summarize In what ways did Justinian contribute to the flourishing of the Byzantine empire after the decline of Rome?
  2. Identify What was the impact of political and legal ideas contained in Justinian's Code?
  3. Explain What impact did the fall of Rome have on Western Europe?
  4. Describe How did Germanic tribes carve Europe into small kingdoms?
  5. Explain How did Charlemagne briefly reunite much of Western Europe, and what happened to his empire after his death?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments