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Map showing area of Viking settlements during the 8th to 11th centuries. Also the trade and raid routes, often inseparable, are marked.

Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who speak one of the North Germanic languages as their native language. ("Norse", in particular, refers to the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.)

The meaning of Norseman was "people from the North" and was applied primarily to Nordic people originating from southern and central Scandinavia. They established states and settlements in areas which today are part of the Faroe Islands, England, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Russia, Italy, Canada, Greenland, France, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany.

Norse and Norsemen are applied to the Scandinavian population of the period from the late 8th century to the 11th century. The term "Normans" was later primarily associated with the people of Norse origin in Normandy, France, assimilated into French culture and language. The term Norse-Gaels (Gall Goidel, lit:foreign Gaelic) was used concerning the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture.

Vikings has been a common term for Norsemen in the early medieval period, especially in connection with raids and monastic plundering made by Norsemen in Great Britain and Ireland. Northmen was famously used in the prayer A furore normannorum libera nos domine ("From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord!"), doubtfully attributed to monks of the English monasteries plundered by Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries.

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Other names

The Northmen were also known as Ascomanni, "ashmen", by the Germans,[1] Lochlanach by the Irish and Dene (Danes) by the Anglo-Saxons.

The Slavs, the Arabs and the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs, probably derived from various uses of rōþs-, i.e. "related to rowing", or derived from the area of Roslagen in east-central Sweden, where most of the Norsemen who visited the Slavic lands came from. Archaeologists and historians of today believe that these Scandinavian settlements in the Slavic lands formed the names of the countries Russia and Belarus).

The Slavs and the Byzantines also called them Varangians (ON: Væringjar, meaning "sworn men" or from Slavic варяги with meaning enemies), and the Scandinavian bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors were known as the Varangian Guard.

Modern Scandinavian usage

In the Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn ("northern men"), was used to refer to the North Germanic population of Scandinavia (Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and Icelanders), thus corresponding to the modern English name Norsemen.

In the modern Scandinavian languages, no common word for Norsemen exists. In Swedish, the term nordmän is used, which corresponds to "Northmen". The Norwegians and Danish lack a word for the ancient North Germanic peoples. Usually they are simply (but incorrectly) called Vikings in both Denmark, Norway, as well as Sweden. In Norway, nordmann is the common demonym for a Norwegian. In Icelandic, Norðmaður means a man from Norway, but Norræn maður is the term for a "North Germanic man" (or "woman"/"people").

The word nordbo however, (Sw.: nordborna, Da.: nordboerne, No.: nordboerne or nordbuane in the definite plural) is used for both ancient and modern people living in the Nordic countries (Sw., Da., No.: Norden) and speaking one of the North Germanic languages (Sw.: de nordiska språken, Da.: de nordiske sprog, No.: de nordiske språkene/språka, dei nordiske språka/språki, Is.: Norrænt mál, Norrænt tungumál, or Norræn tunga).

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Norsemen article)

From Wikisource

The Norsemen
by John Greenleaf Whittier

GIFT from the cold and silent Past!
A relic to the present cast,
Left on the ever-changing strand
Of shifting and unstable sand,
Which wastes beneath the steady chime
And beating of the waves of Time!
Who from its bed of primal rock
First wrenched thy dark, unshapely block?
Whose hand, of curious skill untaught,
Thy rude and savage outline wrought?
The waters of my native stream
Are glancing in the sun's warm beam;
From sail-urged keel and flashing oar
The circles widen to its shore;
And cultured field and peopled town
Slope to its willowed margin down.
Yet, while this morning breeze is bringing
The home-life sound of school-bells ringing,
And rolling wheel, and rapid jar
Of the fire-winged and steedless car,
And voices from the wayside near
Come quick and blended on my ear,--
A spell is in this old gray stone,
My thoughts are with the Past alone!

A change! -- The steepled town no more
Stretches along the sail-thronged shore;
Like palace-domes in sunset's cloud,
Fade sun-gilt spire and mansion proud:
Spectrally rising where they stood,
I see the old, primeval wood;
Dark, shadow-like, on either hand
I see its solemn waste expand;
It climbs the green and cultured hill,
It arches o'er the valley's rill,
And leans from cliff and crag to throw
Its wild arms o'er the stream below.
Unchanged, alone, the same bright river
Flows on, as it will flow forever!
I listen, and I hear the low
Soft ripple where its water go;
I hear behind the panther's cry,
The wild-bird's scream goes thrilling by,
And shyly on the river's brink
The deer is stooping down to drink.

But hard! -- from wood and rock flung back,
What sound come up the Merrimac?
What sea-worn barks are those which throw
The light spray from each rushing prow?
Have they not in the North Sea's blast
Bowed to the waves the straining mast?
Their frozen sails the low, pale sun
Of Thulë's night has shone upon;
Flapped by the sea-wind's gusty sweep
Round icy drift, and headland steep.
Wild Jutland's wives and Lochlin's daughters
Have watched them fading o'er the waters,
Lessening through driving mist and spray,
Like white-winged sea-birds on their way!

Onward they glide, -- and now I view
Their iron-armed and stalwart crew;
Joy glistens in each wild blue eye,
Turned to green earth and summer sky.
Each broad, seamed breast has cast aside
Its cumbering vest of shaggy hide;
Bared to the sun and soft warm air,
Streams back the Northmen's yellow hair.
I see the gleam of axe and spear,
A sound of smitten shields I hear,
Keeping a harsh and fitting time
To Saga's chant, and Runic rhyme;
Such lays as Zetland's Scald has sung,
His gray and naked isles among;
Or mutter low at midnight hour
Round Odin's mossy stone of power.
The wolf beneath the Arctic moon
Has answered to that startling rune;
The Gael has heard its stormy swell,
The light Frank knows its summons well;
Iona's sable-stoled Culdee
Has heard it sounding o'er the sea,
And swept, with hoary beard and hair,
His altar's foot in trembling prayer!

'T is past, -- the 'wildering vision dies
In darkness on my dreaming eyes!
The forest vanishes in air,
Hill-slope and vale lie starkly bare;
I hear the common tread of men,
And hum of work-day life again;
The mystic relic seems alone
A broken mass of common stone;
And if it be the chiselled limb
Of Berserker or idol grim,
A fragment of Valhalla's Thor,
The stormy Viking's god of War,
Or Praga of the Runic lay,
Or love-awakening Siona,
I know not, -- for no graven line,
Nor Druid mark, nor Runic sign,
Is left me here, by which to trace
Its name, or origin, or place.
Yet, for this vision of the Past,
This glance upon its darkness cast,
My spirit bows in gratitude
Before the Giver of all good,
Who fashioned so the human mind,
That, from the waste of Time behind,
A simple stone, or mound of earth,
Can summon the departed forth;
Quicken the Past to life again,
The Present lose in what hath been,
And in their primal freshness show
The buried forms of long ago.
As if a portion of that Thought
By which the Eternal will is wrought,
Whose impulse fills anew with breath
The frozen solitude of Death,
To mortal mind were sometimes lent,
To mortal musing sometimes sent,
To whisper -- even when it seems
But Memory's fantasy of dreams --
Through the mind's waste of woe and sin,
Of an immortal origin!


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Norsemen

  1. Plural form of Norseman.







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