Because we haven't had enough pirates here lately

This is all topsy-turvy. Iceland was raided by pirates 380 years ago? I should hope they would have responded by manning the longships and returning the favor.


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Read Thomas Sowell on slavery. This raid was a bit unusual for making it so far away from the middle east, but there was a major industry of slave-raiding along the coasts of Europe by Arabs and Turks for a very long time. The Saudis only outlawed slavery in 1960. (Someday, maybe they'll even prosecute the Saudis who continue to practice it.)

The United States commissioned the Constitution and the Constellation to attack the Barbary pirates, who were grabbing American ships and selling their crews and passengers as slaves in Algiers.


By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 16 Jul 2007 #permalink

Bob, the age of the vikings was long over by 1529! Vikings did raid the Muslims occasionally, but that was back in the 9th century. There may very well have been people from the Nordic countries as part of the defenders, but then they would have been Christian volunteers, not vikings.

FSM approves.

BoB O'H might be wrong on the timing, but I seem to remember reading that Vikings did serve as mercenaries in Costantinople during the Byzantine period.

MikeB, you're thinking of the Varangian Guard.

I read some revisionist take on the Varangians last year. They have often been portrayed as being an elite fighting force in the Byzantine service. However, one historian I read claims that rather than being some elite force, the Norse actually paid to be in the Varangian Guard because it was seen as a tremendous mark of prestige back home.

Harald Hardrada is probably the most well known Norseman to have served in the guard. After his service, he went on to become king of Norway. He tried to conquer England and was killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. The English king was then killed in battle a few weeks later fighting against the Norman William the Conqueror at Hastings.

Glad to see you getting back to your principal, though unlisted focus.