Tag Archives: Snorri Sturluson

Viking Berserkers

Berserkers were Norse warriors who fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury.  Whether their fighting fury was due to simply working themselves into a rage prior to battle or induced by drugs is debatable.  The berserkers were considered Odin’s special warriors and sometimes wore wolf’s pelt and carried a spear into battle.  They are featured prominently in the sagas and poems from yesterday’s posts where they were portrayed as ravenous men who looted, plundered, and killed across Europe.

The earliest reference to berserkers is in a skaldic poem composed by Thorbiorn Hornklofi in the late 9th century in honor of King Harald Fairhair, as ulfheðnar (men clad in wolf skins). The 12th century Icelandic historian and skald Snorri Sturluson description of berserkers in one of his sagas

“Odin’s men rushed forwards without armor, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild oxen, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon them.”

Imagine waking up to or being confronted by a horde of marauding Vikings sprinkled with berserkers while going about your daily business.  Going from free to dead or enslaved in a day. Tomorrow, check out a Viking raid gone REALLY bad – for the Vikings.  Rita Bay

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