Viking Violent when necessary shirt
To call someone Scandinavian today a “Viking” is indeed intended as a compliment, but that would focus on things like endurance and tolerating harsh conditions. I personally have a rather low “comfort temperature” and will usually wear shorts as long as the temperature is above +12C; this has sometimes earned me the epithet “Viking”. The same could be said of the lumberjack who showed up at the nurse with a deep axe cut in the back, and when asked how he had managed to do this to himself, he just replied “For a practical-minded man, nothing is impossible”.
Maybe we Swedes got tired of our kings sending us to pointless wars with Denmark and crusades all over North Europe, though slavery and serfdom had ended already by 1200AD. The 1700s, after Karl XII was shot and the Swedish empire had ended, is called ”The times of freedom”. And then Gustav III tried to be an enlighted despot, but he was shot as well. And since then the parliament rules the king, and not the opposite, and we have not been at war in Sweden for 200 years. Finland stood up against Russia and Norway against Sweden-Denmark 100 years ago, and together we stood up for more equal rights and wealth distribution. And after The World war we formed a new Nordic Union which is pass free and a cultural cooperation and wealthy, based on high social mobility and low income inequality. The Vikings, like many Central Asian nomads, similarly nomadic tribes in Arabia, and various peoples in the Americas, had a culture which saw raiding strangers for loot as a respectable and even prestigious occupation. They were, in that respect, ferocious warriors. They took the business of smash-and-grab raiding seriously and they had great respect for people who were good at killing. On the other hand, the purpose of going off and being essentially Iron Age muggers in longboats wasn’t to defeat enemies in war. It was to get rich by taking other people’s stuff and killing anyone who got in your way. Not being stupid, the Vikings knew that civilians were the best targets for that. Raiding defenseless villages and peaceful monasteries was just good business. To call them cowards for this misses the point. In actual battle, Vikings were as brave (or not) as anybody else—see comparisons to other raiding cultures above—but raiding defenseless civilians was a different occupation. The Vikings’ bravery is orthogonal to their fondness for violent theft for fun and profit.