August 12, 2017

Norse by Northwest - S01E06 - The Varangian Guard.

The Varangian Guard - In this episode I’ll attempt to condense down some good information into a decent lesson on the Varangian guard. Who they were, how they formed, how they functioned and what some of the truths are behind the internet myths.
As usual it will be a primer on the subject to try and explain the Varangian Guard to people who might not have known who they were or what information out there is trustworthy. It'll be followed by an episode about The Vikings in Scotland.
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Intro and Outro music as always provided by the amazing Svanevit - www.svanevit.com

As always, I welcome any questions or comments. You can email me via or just go to the Website, and I accept messages on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Here is a quick example of dyed colours available in the Viking period, using Viking equipment etc.  They were able to achieve very bright, rich colours and loved to wear them.



And some examples of how fine fabric could be. These are spun threads found at the Must Farm dig in Cambridge and they are from The Bronze Age spun on a hand spindle.
That ruler is 1 centimetre. That's how incredibly fine they were able to make it. This was not the 'rough homespun' which people seem to imagine.


An example of how illustrations of a people in a specific artistic style can be problematic. (And how that makes confirming what the Varangian guardsmen wore that much more complicated.)

These are two illustrations of European people done by Japanese artists Circa 1600CE.




And here are a few images of the Varangian guard as depicted in the Byzantine style where they are not hugely distinguishable from other Byzantines unless there is a very large difference in rank. (Such as an emperor.)



I always recommend further reading, so here are a few links for you to peruse on the subject of The Varangian Guard.

The Varangians of Byzantium

The Viking Road to Byzantium

The Varangian Guard Wikipedia

Names of the Varangian Guard

The Laxdaela Saga

The Viking Answer Lady

Norse influences in the Elite of the Varangian Guard

The Making of Byzantium

History of the Byzantine Empire

Patriarch Photios of Constantinople


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