Many scholars mark the end of the Viking Age as when they were defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. The Vikings weren’t exterminated off the face of the Earth. They also didn’t disappear. However, this important battle marked the decline of their physical influence in the known world. The Viking influence in culture, language, sports, and a variety of other areas, including a still-relevant 20th century technology, still lives on today.
Battle of Stamford Bridge
King Harald Hardrada of Norway invaded England in 1066. Hardrada was allied with Harold II’s brother Tostig, who had been removed as Northumbria’s Earl a year earlier because of his cruelty.
The presence of the Viking warriors and the danger they represented forced the newly crowned Harold II and his army to march 185 miles to meet the invading force. They reached Stamford Bridge in four days and surprised the Vikings.
The two armies met with Harold II having the upper hand early. Hardrada was able to gain control of the battle, and the Vikings appeared to be favored for the victory. However, an arrow to the throat killed Hardrada.
When Harold II sued for peace, Tostig refused. Viking reinforcements had arrived, and Tostig thought he could defeat his brother, Harold II. Tostig was killed in the fighting, and the Vikings were defeated.
Viking Decline Not One Event
While the Battle of Stamford bridge may have punctuated the end of the Viking era, it was not the only reason for the end of the Vikings. After 250 years of dominance on the water, Vikings faced better organized armies. The Vikings that settled other areas of Europe intermarried and adopted the culture of those they lived near. Furthermore, the Scandinavian cultures became more like the cultures of the other countries in Europe at the time. The most important part of the change was likely the Viking conversion to Christianity and the religion’s teachings against plundering and killing.