Presentation Title

The Vikings and the Christians: Death and the Afterlife

Faculty Mentor

Samuel Claussen

Start Date

17-11-2018 9:45 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 10:00 AM

Location

C305

Session

Oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

The Viking Age was rife with death and dying, not only among the Vikings, but among the Christians that they raided as well. For as much dying as was present there were as many different ideas about death and the afterlife among the Vikings in their mythology. While the contemporary Christian conception of death was far more rigid, it contained a number of different ideas about the afterlife especially in the lived religion of the Middle Ages. The Vikings had many ideas about what could happen after their death most of which focused on the manner of death rather than on the actions or morality of a person during their life. The great warriors believed that their souls were brought up to Valhalla to fight for Odin. Many laypeople believed that they would be in the realm of Hel where Baldur went. Most unique was the hall of the disturbers on Nastrand. The Christians of the time had a more uniform belief which was focused heavily on morality and how one lived their life on earth, in regard to the afterlife the beliefs of the Catholic Church and its parishioners included the belief in Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven as different layers of the afterlife that a soul can go to. The Vikings conceptions of the afterlife are evidence of a culture that was focused on war and conflict whose only concern is community integrity, Christianity’s focus on a peaceful ideal afterlife gained through a moral life casts a stark comparison to the war-driven Northmen.

Summary of research results to be presented

Viking religion was far more martial than Christianity in the middle ages. Viking religion focused on carrying battle to the afterlife, whereas the Christian worldview saw heaven as a place of pastoral peace and tranquility, in a sense, a oneness with God. Because of these differences the two opposing religions were antagonistic, which slowed the Christianization of northern Europe. The conceptions of the afterlife found in popular works of the middle ages have some measure of similarity to the Viking conceptions of their own afterlife, there are significant cultural differences which caused Scandinavia to be the last vestige of paganism in Europe.

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Nov 17th, 9:45 AM Nov 17th, 10:00 AM

The Vikings and the Christians: Death and the Afterlife

C305

The Viking Age was rife with death and dying, not only among the Vikings, but among the Christians that they raided as well. For as much dying as was present there were as many different ideas about death and the afterlife among the Vikings in their mythology. While the contemporary Christian conception of death was far more rigid, it contained a number of different ideas about the afterlife especially in the lived religion of the Middle Ages. The Vikings had many ideas about what could happen after their death most of which focused on the manner of death rather than on the actions or morality of a person during their life. The great warriors believed that their souls were brought up to Valhalla to fight for Odin. Many laypeople believed that they would be in the realm of Hel where Baldur went. Most unique was the hall of the disturbers on Nastrand. The Christians of the time had a more uniform belief which was focused heavily on morality and how one lived their life on earth, in regard to the afterlife the beliefs of the Catholic Church and its parishioners included the belief in Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven as different layers of the afterlife that a soul can go to. The Vikings conceptions of the afterlife are evidence of a culture that was focused on war and conflict whose only concern is community integrity, Christianity’s focus on a peaceful ideal afterlife gained through a moral life casts a stark comparison to the war-driven Northmen.