Real Viking History and the Imagined White Supremacist Past | Time
But far-right Viking medievalism is not about historical accuracy. Rather, it’s used to create narratives. So, to resist the medieval narratives that activate violent hate, we must create counternarratives — and to do that, we must understand the real Viking past and how it has been weaponized.
The term “Viking” possibly comes from the Old Norse word víkingr (sea warrior). As Stefan Brink and Neil Price’s The Viking World describes, historically, it referred to seafaring groups who traversed the seas, oceans and rivers to raid, trade and colonize around the 10th and 11th centuries. They established settler colonies across the Mediterranean, Caspian, Black, Arctic and North Atlantic seas and waterways, maintaining a presence in regions ranging from present-day Russia and Europe to the Americas. Crucially, they were not homogeneous seafarers as is often imagined; they were multicultural and multiracial. But until recently, scholarly discussions of the Vikings in relation to race and a Global Middle Ages had been sidelined.
So where does the white supremacist vision of Viking genealogy come from?
Despite the fact that real Viking history was multicultural, academic medieval studies have historically been to blame for the upholding of that imaginary past.