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◀️ Giving directions — Previous Lesson Next Lesson — Modern Sweden ▶️

SwedishCulture0 to A1 Course → Sweden's history → Vikings and Middle Ages

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Welcome to the lesson on Vikings and the Middle Ages in Sweden! In this lesson, we will delve into the fascinating history of Sweden, exploring the era of the Vikings and the significant impact they had on the country's culture and development. We will also learn about the Middle Ages in Sweden, including the architecture, art, and historical sites that still exist today. By the end of this lesson, you will have a deeper understanding of Sweden's rich history and its influence on the Swedish language and culture. So let's embark on this historical journey together!

The Vikings in Sweden[edit | edit source]

The Viking Age, which occurred between the 8th and 11th centuries, was a crucial period in Swedish history. The Vikings were seafaring warriors and traders who originated from the Scandinavian region, including Sweden. They played a significant role in shaping the history and culture of Sweden.

Viking Society[edit | edit source]

Viking society was organized into classes, with the upper class consisting of powerful chieftains and kings who ruled over smaller territories. The Vikings were skilled seafarers, and their ships, known as longships, were crucial to their success in trade, exploration, and warfare. These longships were designed for speed and agility, allowing the Vikings to navigate through rivers and reach distant lands.

Viking Expansion[edit | edit source]

The Vikings were not only warriors but also skilled traders and explorers. They traveled far and wide, establishing trade routes and settlements across Europe, Asia, and even North America. Their expeditions to distant lands, such as Greenland and Iceland, contributed to the expansion of their influence and the spread of the Old Norse language.

Viking Art and Craftsmanship[edit | edit source]

Viking art was characterized by intricate and stylized designs, often featuring animals, geometric patterns, and mythological symbols. They excelled in metalwork, producing exquisite jewelry, weapons, and everyday objects. The Vikings were also skilled shipbuilders, constructing their longships with great craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Viking Religion and Mythology[edit | edit source]

The Vikings had a complex belief system, with gods and goddesses who governed various aspects of life. They worshipped deities such as Odin, Thor, and Freya and believed in an afterlife where fallen warriors would be rewarded. Viking mythology and sagas, which were oral traditions passed down through generations, have had a profound influence on Swedish literature and storytelling.

The Middle Ages in Sweden[edit | edit source]

Following the Viking Age, Sweden entered the Middle Ages, a period that lasted from the 11th to the 15th century. This era saw the rise of Christianity in Sweden and the construction of magnificent churches and cathedrals. The Middle Ages also brought significant political changes, as Sweden transformed from a collection of smaller territories into a unified kingdom.

Medieval Architecture[edit | edit source]

One of the most notable aspects of the Middle Ages in Sweden is the architecture. Romanesque and Gothic styles dominated the construction of churches and cathedrals during this period. Examples of medieval architecture can be found across Sweden, with notable sites such as Uppsala Cathedral, Lund Cathedral, and Visby's city walls.

Hanseatic League and Trade[edit | edit source]

During the Middle Ages, Sweden became a member of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trading alliance of cities and guilds in Northern Europe. This membership allowed Sweden to participate in lucrative trade routes, contributing to the country's economic growth and cultural exchange with other Hanseatic cities.

Medieval Literature and Education[edit | edit source]

As Christianity spread throughout Sweden, written literature began to emerge. The church played a central role in education and the dissemination of knowledge during the Middle Ages. Monasteries and churches became centers of learning, where manuscripts were copied and preserved. The oldest known Swedish document, the Västgötalagen (Westrogothic law), dates back to this period.

Medieval Legends and Folklore[edit | edit source]

The Middle Ages in Sweden gave rise to various legends and folklore that are still celebrated today. Folk dances, songs, and traditional costumes are part of the rich cultural heritage that originated during this period. The medieval ballad tradition, known as "visor," has had a lasting impact on Swedish music and storytelling.

Cultural Section[edit | edit source]

Sweden's history is not only shaped by Vikings and the Middle Ages but also influenced by regional variations and cultural diversity. In the northern parts of Sweden, the Sami people have a distinct culture and language, with their reindeer herding traditions and colorful traditional costumes. In the south, the region of Skåne has been influenced by Danish and German culture due to its historical connections with neighboring countries. These regional variations add depth and richness to Sweden's cultural tapestry.

An interesting cultural fact is the tradition of Midsummer, one of Sweden's most beloved holidays. Celebrated on the summer solstice, Midsummer involves dancing around a maypole, singing traditional songs, and enjoying a feast of herring, potatoes, and strawberries. This festive occasion reflects the deep connection Swedes have with nature and the changing seasons.

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Now, let's practice what we've learned!

Exercise 1: Fill in the missing words Fill in the missing words in the following sentences to test your understanding of the Vikings and the Middle Ages in Sweden.

1. The Vikings were skilled ____________ and traders. 2. Viking art was characterized by ____________ designs. 3. The Middle Ages in Sweden saw the rise of ____________. 4. ____________ and Gothic styles dominated the architecture of churches and cathedrals. 5. The Hanseatic League was a powerful ____________ alliance.

Solutions: 1. seafarers 2. intricate 3. Christianity 4. Romanesque 5. trading

Exercise 2: Matching activity Match the following historical sites in Sweden with their descriptions.

1. Uppsala Cathedral 2. Visby's city walls 3. Lund Cathedral

A. This cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala and is one of the largest churches in Scandinavia. B. These well-preserved medieval city walls surround the town of Visby on the island of Gotland. C. This cathedral is known for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture and houses the famous astronomical clock.

Solutions: 1. A 2. B 3. C

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Congratulations! You have completed the lesson on Vikings and the Middle Ages in Sweden. You have gained insights into the Viking society, their impact on Swedish culture, and the significant developments during the Middle Ages. By understanding Sweden's history, you have deepened your knowledge of the Swedish language and culture. Keep exploring and learning, and soon you will be able to communicate with confidence in Swedish!

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