Norsemen refers to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language, belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish, and Danish in their earlier forms.
Norseman means "people from the North" and applied primarily to Nordic people from southern and central Scandinavia. They established states and settlements in areas that are now part of the Faroe Islands, England, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Russia, Canada, Greenland, France, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.
Norse and Norsemen applied to the Scandinavian population of the period from the late 8th century to the 11th century. The Old Frankish Nortmann "Northman" was Latinized as Normanni, famously in the prayer A furore normannorum libera nos domine ("From the fury of the Northmen release us, O Lord!"), attributed to monks of the English monasteries plundered by Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, and entered Old French as Normands, whence the name of the Normans and of Normandy, which was settled by Norsemen in the 10th century.
Vikinger has been a common term for Norsemen in the early medieval period, especially in connection with raids and monastic plundering by Norsemen in the British Isles. The term "Finn-Galls" (i.e. Norse Vikings or Norwegians)  (Gall Goidel, lit.: foreign Gaelic) was used concerning the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture.
"In the eighth century the inrush of the Vikinger in force began to be felt all over Pictland. These Vikinger were pagans and savages of the most unrestrained and pitiless type. They were composed of Finn-Gall or Norwegians, and of Dubh-Gall or Danes. The latter were a mixed breed, with a Hunnish strain in them".
However british assumptions of from where the vikinger came, was not quite correct. The Vikinger that plundered Britain lived in what's today is entire Denmark, Scania, the western coast of Sweden and Norway (up to almost the 70:th latitude) and along the Swedish Baltic coast up to around the 60:th latitude and the lake Mälaren. They also settled at Gotland island. The border to the Germanic tribes in the south is known as Danevirke, which today is found about 50 km south of the Danish-German border. The southernmost living vikinger lived no further north than Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and arrived to Britain sooner from the east than from the north.
The northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula (whith exception of the Norwegian coast) was almost unpopulated, but the few who lived there was the Sami people, the native people of northern Sweden and large areas of Norway, Finland and the Kola peninsula in today's Russia.
The Northmen were also known as Ascomanni, ashmen, by the Germans, Lochlanach (Norse) by the Gaels 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 Vikinger 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 supposedly deriving from the root "вар"—"profit" as coming from North they would profit by trading goods and not producing them, which had a negative connotation in Slavic culture of that time), and the Scandinavian bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors were known as the Varangian Guard.
In the Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn (northern men), was used correspondingly to the modern English name Norsemen, referring to Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, Faroe Islanders, Icelanders, Orcadians, etc.
The modern Scandinavian languages has no common word for Norsemen. Usually they are simply called Vikinger in Danish and Norwegian, and Vikingar in Swedish.
The word nordbo , (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 and speaking one of the Scandinavian Germanic languages. The modern people of Norway, Sweden and Denmark identify themselves as skandinaver (Scandinavians).
At occations, in Sweden (but rarelly in Norway or Denmark), Finland also gets mentioned as a "Scandinavian country". However since the Finnish language isn't a Germanic, or even an Indo-European language, Finland cannot be described as a Scandinavian country. Finland was though for around three centuries a part of Sweden (1521-1807), and around 6% of the Finnish population still uses Swedish as their first language. At the Åland island Swedish is even the by far most spoken language, but elsewhere in Finland the share of Swedish speaking people has been dropping ever since Finland became a free country 1918, after world war one.
The Nordic countries can thereby be defined as the Scandinavian countries and Finland.
Notes and referencesEdit
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2009)|
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