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Esta web apoia á iniciativa dun dominio galego propio (.gal) en Internet
10th Year - 2th Age - 25/10/2014
     THE VIKINGS INVASIONS
Relations between Galicia and Scandinavia were very intense and important during the glorious ages of the Galician kingdom, and the memory of this still lives on today.



The begining

During the early Middle Ages Scandinavia became a great militar empire in Europe. The Vikings conquered Britannia and Ireland, they established the Duchy of Normandy and attacked Brittany and Galicia, and they still destroyed important cities in the Mediterranean Sea.

In this same time the kingdom of Galicia was the economic and maritime power of the West and South of Europe. The Cambari annals in 1159 talk of Bizance, Germania and Galicia as the 3 main empires in Europe. Attracted by the kingdom richness, the Vikings organised several militar expeditions to Jakobsland.

The first Viking invasion in Galicia happened during the IXth century, and they were followed by a second, third and a last fourth invasion in the year 1038. These expeditions were carried out mainly for troops from Norway, Denmark and the Orkney Isles, and the historical facts are described by Galician, Scandinavian, Arab and Castillian scripts.

The Scandinavian pilgrimages to Galicia

The first Scandinavian pilgrims arrive to Santiago de Compostela after the visit of their first pilgrim, the king Sigurd of Norway, on Autumn 1108. The vestvegr (West route) from Scandinavia to Galicia was 8 days cruise. Other famous Scandinavian pilgrims were Saint Brigit of Sweden, one of the most important people in the history of Sweden, and Saint Andrew of Slagelse, one of the most venerated saints in Denmark, of which the legend says that he came to Galicia on a winded horse.

Coming from Norway, Iceland, the Orkney Isles, the Faeroe Isles and Denmark, the Scandinavians used to spend the winter in Galicia when sailing to the Holy Land as they participate in the Crusades. On the other hand, the Swedes just went to the Holy Land via the East and did not come to Galicia until the XIIIth century. Frisians, Germans and Flemish joined the Norwegians and Danish in the 1187 and 1217 Crusades, when 350 ships appeared in the port of Corunna. Later on, one third of the fleet shipwrecked on the Galician coast on their way to the Holy Land.

Galician influences in Scandinavia

The pilgrimage to Santiago has importantly remained in Scandinavia. The Vieira shell, symbol of both Saint James and Galicia, was brought back to Scandinavia by the pilgrims, and this explains its often presence in Scandinavian art and heraldry. Lots are as well those guilds and churches in Denmark, Sweden and Norway protected by Santiago. Another interesting example of the Galician influence in Scandinavia is the Union Flag of 1427, on which Santiago appears together with the coat of arms of the three Scandinavian countries.

Memory of the Middle Ages is the Scandinavian refrain "I would not like that at all even for all the gold of Galicia", and the remains of two place names and surmanes of Galician origin in Norway : Gallis and Jaksland, the first found in Andebeu (Vestfold) and the second in Royken (Buskerud). In Galicia we conserve the historical scripts and many ruins of the defensive towers built to prevent Viking attacks. Historical village of Catoira celebrates every year a performance to remember those times were Scandinavians and Galicians did know each other very well...

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