Was it because of their defeats by Alfred and the settlement of Normandy? Were there issues at home which changed their focus?

I did search through quite a few of the questions on here, but did not see this addressed.

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    The What if they had Not stopped? part of the question is off-topic here.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 23:10
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    Shame. This is actually a super astute question IMHO. You can often learn a lot more about a thing by turning it around like this.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 3:49
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    agree - its a good question that i'd never considered. Well done to OP Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 14:09
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    "In Scandinavia, the Viking Age is considered to have ended with the establishment of royal authority in the Scandinavian countries and the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion." (wiki)
    – Tomas By
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


A gradual diminishing of the factors that drove vikings to raid, as well as opportunities for successful raiding.

Why did the Vikings raid in the first place?

Vikings did not go far from home and risk their lives for the fun of it. There are many theories, and likely many overlapping factors, that caused the beginning of the Viking raids. For example:

  • Gender imbalance - in a polygynous society, with each man of status expected to have several concubines, there are obviously not going to be enough to go around without raiding.

  • Economic imbalance - at the beginning of the Viking Age, Scandinavia was not a very rich society. Once maritime technology allowed them to access the wealth of the lands plugged into the Mediterranean system of trade, it was a better way to make money than staying home.

So why might they have stopped?

  • They were successful! A gradual trickle of spoils back to Scandinavia (or settling of "surplus sons" elsewhere in Europe) and the damage inflicted on the economies being raided shifted the economic and gender imbalances closer towards an equilibrium. Raiding became much less necessary.

  • Integration of the Norse into Christian Europe - Viking chiefs were happy to get wealth without the risk of raiding. They would increasingly be paid off, such as in the case of Sweyn Estridsson or granted rule of European land. Scandinavia would eventually unify itself under three Christian kingdoms, putting an end to warlordism that both created warriors & encouraged them to leave and seek a more peaceful land, relieving the pressure to raid for women, and reducing the acceptability of raiding. As former vikings spread into Europe, they also gained opportunities for a steady salary as part of a mercenary army (this is how the Norman conquest of Sicily began).

  • Lack of targets - Atlantic coastlines fortified themselves, allowing the wealth of the land to be protected against raiding. Local rulers were able to organize an effective response to viking settlers. Norway took the opportunity to raid England when it presented itself, but this would be the last such raid.


Three main factors have played to stop the series of raids that have happened during the High Middle Age:

  • First factor: Reinforcement of European powers: the reinforcement of European powers and their unification proved to be in capacity of stopping Viking raids, by two means: First, defending their coasts and cities, second recruiting Viking soldiers for their own use (Byzantine Empire did that for example).
  • Second factor: Christianity and the reinforcement of Scandinavian kingdoms: these two factors proved very efficient in changing plundering raids into colonisation and/or trade-based migrations
  • Third factor: The establishment of territories obtained from local kingdoms, such as Normandy or Sicily, proved also to be attractive for the Vikings, that had better life in going in a friendly-owned country and have a high social rank, rather than raiding
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    Counterpoint: Viking raids began while Charlemagne still ruled, personally, a highly-centralized government. That worked fine to defeat and Christianize the Saxons, but was totally inadequate at countering marine invaders who showed up on an hour's notice. It was the increasingly decentralized responsibility for local defense as feudalism replaced Charlemagne's Empire that increasingly thwarted Viking raids. An Imperial army that mustered every Easter in Aachen was inadequate for sporadic coastal defense. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 23:26
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    Having doubts about "the third factor" : are there documented cases of Scandinavian moving to the Viking kingdoms of Normandy or Sicily after they were settled, being friendly welcome and enjoying "a high social rank" there ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 9:20
  • @PieterGeerkens Actually, reinforcement of power is not (always) synonym of centralized power, as well as unification is not entirely synonym of centralization. Yes, Charlemagne's empire was not that good at repelling the viking, but the worst part of the raids in France (siege of Paris for example) came 4 to 5 generations after. Harold was effective in repelling vikings Commented May 25, 2023 at 18:23
  • @Evargalo This comes from readings a long time ago, so I don't recall specific cases. But as I recall, yes Normandy and Sicily did expand with one group of Vikings establishing in a territory by "donation" under threat (e.g. Normandy) or capture, and more Vikings coming in Commented May 30, 2023 at 14:49

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