The Vikings of Scandinavia were skilled raiders and seagoers. Their longboats each capable of carrying about 30 men conducted raids throughout Europe's coasts and river estuary's (even reaching deep within Russia) during the period from the late 8th to mid 11th centuries. The Viking Hersir was a local military commander who owed loyalty to a Jarl or local lord. The Hersir commanded a unit of about 20 men and was normally equipped (depending on the period) with a conical helmet, a short chain mail coat, a wooden shield and a sword. Other Weapons included single and double handed axes. Horses may have been carried for overland routes but they always fought on foot, normally in a shield wall formation with the Hersir at the front and archers and slingers at the rear. Another formation was also used the 'Svynfylking' which was a variation to the shield wall but with several wedge like formations pointing towards the enemy creating a zig zag pattern. Although excellent against other foot troops the Vikings were frequently defeated by mounted troops.
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (21 March 2001), Hersir, Viking, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hersir.html
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