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Children perceived to be weak would be left to die by abandoning them or throwing them into the sea.
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Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets, a look that was likely fabricated by 19th-century painters.
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They also didn’t use the skulls of their enemies as drinking vessels.
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Despite our ideas about them, Vikings actually bathed more frequently than most Europeans of their day.
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If wounded, Vikings were given onion soup because, once eaten, the smell emanating from their stomach would reveal whether their injuries were treatable.
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The most fearsome Viking warriors, clothed in animal skins and given to howling during battle, were known as “berserkers,” hence the word “berserk.”
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Scholars suggest that berserkers were able to enter their berserk state thanks to drugs including magic mushrooms, alcohol, and henbane.
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For more Vikings facts related to their journeys to North America, see this report.
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Many common English words still in use today — including Thursday, hell, knife, leather, window, and husband — come from the Old Norse language spoken by Vikings.
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Vikings named Thursday after Thor, the God of Thunder.
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They were able to readily start fires thanks to unique firestarters made from fungus boiled for days in their own urine.
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Most Viking men were peaceful farmers, not pirates and warriors.
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The name “Viking” means “pirate raid” in the Old Norse language, although Vikings didn’t actually use this word to describe themselves.
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Viking men bleached their hair blonde to conform to their society’s beauty standards.
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In 845, the Vikings sacked Paris with 120 ships and didn’t leave until they were paid 5,670 pounds of silver and gold.
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The Louvre in Paris was originally built in 1190 in part to act as a fortress against Viking raids.
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Read more Viking facts in this look at their origins and customs.
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Viking longships could travel up to 125 miles per day, which gave them the ability to reach and raid destinations much further away than other civilizations of the era.
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Modern archaeological evidence shows that Vikings sailed across Europe’s coast not merely as brutal raiders, but moreover as entrepreneurial traders and settlers.
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Vikings were active slave traders who would capture women and children and sell them in markets across Europe and the Middle East.
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Viking slaves primarily came from raids on Slavic, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon tribes and were called Thralls.
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While Viking military activity is most associated with northern Europe, they also invaded Spain, Italy, and areas across northern Africa.
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Reindeer hides were sometimes used as battle armor and reportedly worked better than chainmail.
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Viking hunters at sea killed game as large as walruses and whales.
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The Vikings worshipped Ullr, in part believed to be a god of skiing.
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Skilled Viking military leaders would organize their troops into a spear-like shape known as “boar formation” and then charge right at the enemy’s line point-first.
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Burial at sea was reserved for prominent members of society, who would be surrounded by weapons, valuables, and sometimes, sacrificed slaves.
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When a wealthy landowner died, his slaves were often sacrificially killed and buried next to him en masse.
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