The adoption of Christianity was a significant factor in changing Viking culture. Vikings turned away from plunder and toward settlement and governance instead. Norway had also had been unified in the 10th century, and the Vikings focused on building prosperous communities in the lands that they had previously plundered. They set up housekeeping in three main areas of Europe: the Normandy region of France, eastern England, and eastern Ireland. They additionally had settlements in Iceland, Greenland, North America and perhaps elsewhere.
Not only did Christianity make the Vikings more civilized, it also brought enhanced interest and knowledge about writing and education. The Norse Sagas, which previously had been passed on by word of mouth, were now written down. Literacy expanded rapidly, and after the protestant reformation in the early 1500’s, public schools were established for boys and girls and for rich and poor. Many official records, such as births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, were now recorded and preserved. Most of the records of various families during these times and later are the result of these accounts having been written and maintained by the church.
Sample Lesson Plan
Grade levels: 7-12 and college. College students should also research and evaluate the evidence for and against the authenticity of the Kensington Runestone and the Vinland Map, and perhaps others matters of some controversy.
Objectives: Students will:
Learn the factual information relating to the Vikings during the Viking era, including the influence of an expanding population, the structure of Viking long boats and including prominent Vikings Eric the Red and Leif Erikson.
Understand the necessity of making accurate revisions of written history based on reliable factual information and objective research.
Begin to understand the basic principles of 10th century Viking navigation.
Understand why the Viking long boats were both relatively safe and highly adaptable.
Recognize the enormous impact that climate change had on Viking activities and successes.
Understand that climate change is a natural phenomenon.
Understand the impact Christianity had on Norwegian culture in the 11th century and following. (The root word of “culture” is “cult,” meaning religion.)
Overhead projector and slides or power-point technology.
Student access to the internet.
A globe and various maps including the Vinland map and the Zeno map.