The Viking Age–Raiders, Traders, and Explorers: A Four-Part Course with Jonathan Migliori - Context Travel

The Viking Age–Raiders, Traders, and Explorers: A Four-Part Course with Jonathan Migliori


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This course will survey the scope of Norse voyages during the Viking Age. We’ll follow these raiders, traders, and explorers not only around Europe but into the Middle East and across the Atlantic to North America.

For many people, the mention of the Vikings brings to mind bloodthirsty raiders and fearsome warriors. The truth is not only more nuanced but also much more interesting. A unique political situation and key advances in maritime technology drove medieval Scandinavians across the ocean to seek their fortunes. These seafarers were not a monolith: among them were monastery torchers, merchants who got rich in the Middle East, explorers who were the first people to set foot on new lands, imperial bodyguards, crusaders, and love poets.

Led by an expert on ancient history, Jonathan Migliori, M.A., this interactive course will trace the movements of the Viking Age Norse. After contextualizing the Vikings and overviewing their society, we’ll take a geographical approach to their voyages. First, we’ll cross the North Sea to the British Isles and France, then down the river networks of eastern Europe via the Baltic to Russia, Constantinople, and the Middle East, then finally over the uncharted North Atlantic horizon to Iceland, Greenland, and North America. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the Viking world.

Lecture 1: Who Were the Vikings?

In our first session, we’ll begin by identifying the Vikings, describing their society, and putting them in the wider context of early medieval Europe.

Lecture 2: Across the North Sea

The Viking Age is considered to have begun with the attack on Lindisfarne Priory in England in 793. We’ll also examine the establishment of Norse settlements in Normandy, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as the Vikings’ role in the creation of English identity.

Lecture 3: Across the Baltic and Black Seas

Norse ships’ shallow drafts allowed them to sail down rivers as well as the open ocean. This lecture will investigate how the Vikings used the rivers of eastern Europe to make it rich in Byzantium and the Middle East, as well as found the states that would eventually become Russia.

Lecture 4: Across the Atlantic Ocean

Sailing west brought Norse seafarers to uncharted lands and into contact with people who’d never met a European before. In our final session, we’ll discuss the discovery of the Faroe Islands and Iceland, as well as the Norse settlements in Greenland and North America.

Jonathan Migliori is an archaeologist and teacher from Providence RI with a B.A. in Archaeology, Classics, and Medieval Cultures from Brown University and an M.A. in Archaeology from Durham University, where he specialized in landscape studies of Roman Syria. He has participated in excavations in Rhode Island and Ostia Antica, and also worked in the Ancient Art department of the RISD Museum of Art. In addition to his ancient Mediterranean experience, his academic interests include early medieval English literature, the archaeology of the Viking Age, and historical linguistics. Currently, he is a teacher at The Wheeler School in Providence and spends the summers lecturing on history and archaeology as a Resident Historian with Viking Cruises.

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
50%
(3)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
33%
(2)
0%
(0)
V
V.
Dates, Names, Places

In my view, history is not just about dates, names, places, and action, it is about why those actions mattered. Whom did they impact, how and why? How did they change the course of history? What changed for the better and what changed for the worse, and why? Mr. Migliori's two course sessions thus far have taken the route of facts without analysis, facts without contextualization. The Vikings invaded England on XX date. WHY did they do this? As they won battle after battle, what were their larger objectives? After England they continued on to invade other places... HOW did their experience in England shape their next expansionist decisions and the invasions themselves? It's in the analysis that we learn from history. The facts are the skeletal structure, but the meat is found in the contextualization, the rumination, the thinking about the meaning of the facts. Mr. Migliorie does a lot of presenting facts and very little of the analysis. I found this to be frustrating and ultimately boring. Very disappointed in this course.

D
D.
Great course

Jonathan Migliori does an admirable job of weaving a large variety of details of Viking culture, conquests and language into a satisfying blend of just the right amount of overview and wading into the weeds. Interesting to see how these Middle Ages raiders continue to have a presence in the West. Fascinating course.

J
J.D.
Jonathan Migliori - Viking Age

Jonathan makes the fascinating history of the Viking Age come alive. He is an enthusiastic guide and expert. This series is one of my favorites.

M
M.L.
Vikings

Jonathan clearly enjoys the subject matter and is excellent in conveying the material in a orderly fashion as there is a lot of it. I also like his sense of humor.

J
J.
So much never knew

Part One was excellent. A necessary foundation for the series to spring from. Very interesting, informative, well and well presented.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
50%
(3)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
33%
(2)
0%
(0)
V
V.
Dates, Names, Places

In my view, history is not just about dates, names, places, and action, it is about why those actions mattered. Whom did they impact, how and why? How did they change the course of history? What changed for the better and what changed for the worse, and why? Mr. Migliori's two course sessions thus far have taken the route of facts without analysis, facts without contextualization. The Vikings invaded England on XX date. WHY did they do this? As they won battle after battle, what were their larger objectives? After England they continued on to invade other places... HOW did their experience in England shape their next expansionist decisions and the invasions themselves? It's in the analysis that we learn from history. The facts are the skeletal structure, but the meat is found in the contextualization, the rumination, the thinking about the meaning of the facts. Mr. Migliorie does a lot of presenting facts and very little of the analysis. I found this to be frustrating and ultimately boring. Very disappointed in this course.

D
D.
Great course

Jonathan Migliori does an admirable job of weaving a large variety of details of Viking culture, conquests and language into a satisfying blend of just the right amount of overview and wading into the weeds. Interesting to see how these Middle Ages raiders continue to have a presence in the West. Fascinating course.

J
J.D.
Jonathan Migliori - Viking Age

Jonathan makes the fascinating history of the Viking Age come alive. He is an enthusiastic guide and expert. This series is one of my favorites.

M
M.L.
Vikings

Jonathan clearly enjoys the subject matter and is excellent in conveying the material in a orderly fashion as there is a lot of it. I also like his sense of humor.

J
J.
So much never knew

Part One was excellent. A necessary foundation for the series to spring from. Very interesting, informative, well and well presented.