inside the minds of scandinavian warriors

♦ The Viking World

by Lucie Malbos

Tallandier, 350 pages, €21.90

The Children of the Ash and the Elm

by Neil Price

Translated from English (Sweden) by Cécile Deniard

Threshold, 630 p., €27

From the Viking civilization, a powerful imagery has long clouded the historical reality. Who were these men and women who populated Scandinavia, and left it regularly for other horizons? Historian Lucie Malbos (1), a specialist in medieval Scandinavian societies, publishes her third book devoted to the Vikings – in February it was published Blue-toothed Harald: Viking, Christian King (Pasts composed editions).

Through the portraits of fourteen personalities, it allows here to meet in truth a culture behind the stories of bloodthirsty warriors. The sea occupied a fundamental space in the daily life and imagination of the Vikings, who developed marvels of engineering to conquer it. The study reveals a diversity of profiles, undermining the desire for caricature. Lucie Malbos shows how “the Vikings helped change the places they went, but were also transformed in the process”.

Distinguishing history from legend

“While Odin and Thor give way before the only God and his son, Freyja before the Virgin, the old customs (slavery, polygamy of male elites, clothed burial, etc.) are becoming rarerexplains the historian about the turn of the XIe and XIIe centuries. By definitively joining the Christian world, Scandinavia is opening a new chapter in its history, which it is now in a position to write itself, thanks to the Scriptoria, the manuscript copying workshops that are emerging in its monasteries. »

The Swede Neil Price, holder of the chair of archeology in Uppsala, also wants to distinguish the history of these Scandinavian peoples from legend. Based on recent archaeological sources, it plunges into the reality of the mentalities and spirituality of the Vikings. It shows the profound reworking of the European political and cultural map by the Vikings through new types of exchanges, migrations, and this as far as the American continent, Constantinople or China.

(1) Present from October 5 to 9 at the Rendez-vous de l’histoire de Blois, Lucie Malbos will take part in four meetings, including “Beyond the Viking phenomenon. Women and men of ancient Scandinavia”, with Neil Price’s translator, Cécile Deniard (Saturday 8 October at 9:15 am). Complete program on

La Croix journalists will be present in Blois: Friday, October 7 at 6:30 p.m., an interview with Jacques Sémelin on the deportation of Jews from France by Laurent Larcher (Literary Café); Sunday 9 October at 2.30 p.m.: “Saint-Paul the Navigator”, dialogue with Fr. Michel Quesnel led by Vincent de Féligonde (States General room).

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