willingly el guante
Falling back on one of me sources
(the catalogue (ISBN 84-7664-335-7) of the excellent exhibition organised by Fundació "la Caixa", in collaboration with Statens Historiska Museet, Svenska Institutet, Volvo and SAS in 1991), we find that sources for the Viking expeditions to the Ib. Pen. are basically Christian and Muslim chronicles, neither of which are likely to be particularly reliable (although I have a gut-feeling that the latter are marginally more factual
), especially as we know that to get here, following the so-called "Western route", the Vikings had already decimated the British Isles, laid siege to Paris in 885 with their "Great Army" - consisting of 700 ships & 28,000 men
(and having previously destroyed it in 845, after 63 ships had sailed up the Loire to attack Nantes in 843) - and generally overrun France, on their way to the Byzantine Empire, via North Africa. I therefore find it hard to believe that they were rebuffed everywhere they stopped off at in Spain, which is the official Sp. version of what happened in 844 when 54 ships landed near Gijón and raided the estuary of Arosa - only to be "forced" to go further south by Ramir I of Asturias who had defeated them at A Coruña.
So, if forced to flee, which is in effect what we are led to believe, how come they then had the strength to immediately and successfully attack Lisbon and Cadíz, after which they then sailed up the Guadalquivir to sack Seville?
Likewise, Ragnar Lodbrok's son, Björn Ironside and chief Hasting led 62 ships round the Peninsula between 858 and 862, attacked Algeciras and Orihuela before crossing over to Nekor (Morocco) and going back to do their stuff in the Balearic Islands, spent a year devastating the Rhône Valley, sacking Arles and Nimes. And what about when, in 859, Hasting sailed up the Ebro, turned right and went up the Rivers Aragón and Arga, and took the King of Pamplona, García Íñiguez, prisoner? With the 70,000 gold dinars they got in ransom, they headed off for the Italian Peninsula. (To be continued.)
Basically what I'm getting at is that - as we have seen with the historical accounts of other contemporary events, such as Covadonga, which was actually little more than a local revolt, Muslim troops being more concerned with raiding France, but which was later exaggerated beyond all proportion as the start of a crusade, or Reconquista, or more recent events, such as the Invincible Armada
- such accounts differ greatly and for differing reasons (often for religious motives, as in the case of the tale of both the Reconquista and the Armada) and the chronicles of the Vikings are one-sided 'cos they themselves didn't bother with keeping their diaries up to date which suited their victims as they didn't really want to go down in history as losers... But the Vikings basically got everything they axed
over the three centuries that they were being footloose and fancy-free all over Europe.
One particularly good example of this is the urban myth, originating in the Arab chronicler Ibn Fadlan's account, of the Vikings as being "the filthiest of Allah's creatures" when there is in fact little doubt as to their almost obsessive personal hygiene, with both men and women taking great care over their hair, moustache and/or beard, when worn. Likewise, the Old Germanic word for Saturday, lördag, = bath day. And one reason Vikings were said to be so popular among Englishwomen is precisely because of their cleanliness and care in dressing. It was the Spanish Arab Al Tartushi, who visited Hedeby in the 10th century, who commented on the fact that both men and women used eye make-up, with the result that "their beauty never fades; on the contrary, it increases in both men and women."
PS.Here's a somewhat more colourful version from Google Books: Kendrick, T. D. A History of the Vikings