More indications the Vikings were not the only horrible and cruel people in the Middle Ages – part 6

Shield Wall – “Jorvik Viking Festival 2012” by alh1 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Some of the battles between churchmen in Ireland are described in The Vikings – A History, by Robert Ferguson.

There were limits to the severity of fighting between Irish tribes. In contrast, those horrible Vikings crossed the defined line and doing so presumably made them barbarians.

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Payroll cost for a Roman Legion – Part 2 of 2

The 5th Legion” by mikecogh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What might the payroll cost have been to staff a Roman Legion?

Previous post outlined the standard staffing of a Roman Legion in about 100 A.D.

The same Wikipedia article described earlier provided the relative pay of different positions. That allows for calculation of the total pay for a legion expressed in units of pay for a common soldier.

If we combine that calculation with the standard pay of 225 sesterces per year for a soldier, as mentioned here, we can calculate payroll for a legion.

Here is the relative pay calculation:

Continue reading “Payroll cost for a Roman Legion – Part 2 of 2”

Payroll cost for a Roman Legion – Part 1 of 2

Line of Roman soldiers advancing in battle formation. Shields up, swords drawn. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

What was the payroll cost to staff a Roman Legion?

Earlier post discussed that until around 81 A.D. a Legionnaire was paid 225 sesterces a year.

With the help of a Wikipedia article, we can make a guess at the total payroll for a Legion. (A side note, amusing to me, is that several of the sources of this article are books I’ve previously read.)

As the first step, let’s look at the estimated staffing of a Roman Legion in about 100 A.D. Keep in mind this is assuming the Legion is fully staffed, which was never the case, as I’ve read in several places. This is also for a legion with 50 centuries instead of the authorized strength of 60 centuries earlier.

Staffing for Roman Legion in about 100 A.D.:

Continue reading “Payroll cost for a Roman Legion – Part 1 of 2”

Vikings must have developed considerable skill at gathering intelligence

How did that raiding party figure out where to land? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For a while now I’ve been pondering how the Vikings knew where and when to raid. How did they figure out where to find the large collections of gold and silver?

As the Vikings approached the shore of England or Ireland, they would not have been able to send ahead their camera-laden remote-controlled drones to locate monasteries in the region.

They would not have been able to look at the photos from a recon jet or check out the area with an L-5 observation plane.

The Vikings landing at Lindisfarne in 793 probably didn’t make a random landing, walk around for an hour or two, and just happen to stumble on a monastery laden with gold and silver. They must’ve had some idea it was there.

Likewise, while on a looting spree through Frankia, they would not have been able to enter “monastery” or “silver storage” on their GPS to get the distance and direction to the nearest loot. While traffic on the river might give away there is a prosperous city somewhere upstream, it would not have been visible from the water that there was a monastery a day’s walk to the northwest of the bend in the river.

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Average pay for Roman Legionnaire

Silver Roman denarius. About one and a half day’s pay for a Legionnaire. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Another indication of average pay for Roman foot soldiers can be found in Wikipedia’s article Imperial Roman Army.

This pay rate applied during the reigns of Emperors Augustus and Vespasian, which means until about 81 A.D. After that point, debasement of the currency led to inflation and rising pay for soldiers. More on that later.

For general framework, this is the pay structure in effect during the time of the New Testament.

Here is a recap: 

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Ponder the supporting industry needed for shipbuilding and seafaring during the Viking age.

Largest reconstruction of a longship arrived in Dublin on 8/14/07 – “Viking Longship ‘Sea Stallion’ Arrives In Dublin” by infomatique is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ponder the extent of support needed to keep seagoing fleets of longships going to sea. Those state-of-the-art weapons needed maintenance and supplies.

Robert Ferguson suggests in The Vikings – A History that shipbuilding would have been a significant industry in many communities for the duration of the Viking age.

Think about the range of skills needed, as he mentions:

Continue reading “Ponder the supporting industry needed for shipbuilding and seafaring during the Viking age.”

One frame of reference for comparing time to construct large projects

With about 40,000 hours of labor, you could build this in around 900 A.D. ….

Image of Viking longboat courtesy of Adobe Stock.

..or with about 55,000 hours of labor, you could build this in 1942 A.D. …

B-17 at March Air Base Museum; photo by James Ulvog.

 

I’ve noticed a few guesses of the time it took to build things during the Viking Age. Here are a few points of reference:

Construction time of one longhouse and perimeter of winter camp in Viking Era

  • 24,192 hours – Long house 93’ long x 24’ wide x 25’ tall
  • 50,000 hours – 19’ tall wall around winter camp with moat 13’ deep x 13’ wide

How much labor did it take to construct a Viking longship?

  • 40,000 hours, surplus production of 100 persons for a year – Longship 98’ long (30 meters)
  • 28,000 hours, estimate of time for Vikings to build a 30 meter longship based on time for modern workers to recreate a longship using Viking techniques

In The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, Victor Davis Hanson provides extensive data about the economic output of various countries. In terms of hours to build a war machine, one tidbit is relevant here.

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Another idea on what kicked off the violent Viking Age

Viking shield wall – “Vikings in Archeon” by hans s is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

In The Vikings – A History Robert Ferguson suggests a different idea on the reasons for the start of the Viking Age, particularly in terms of the violence.

Chapter 3 on Causes of the Viking Age links together several things I’d not seen before.

One introductory comment points out that a Viking longship could be seen at a distance of about 18 nautical miles with good visibility. This is based on observations using modern reconstructions. If the sailors had a favorable wind, they could cover that distance in about an hour. If there were watchers on the shore there would be perhaps one hour notice before the arrival of a raid.

Author explains there were three major political powers that controlled Europe at the time. The Frankish Empire controlled most of Western Europe from what is today France to about the Oder river. The Byzantine Empire controlled what is currently Greece and Turkey. Several Muslim caliphates controlled Spain, Northern Africa, and what we call the Middle East.

Charlemange’s forced conversion of the Saxons

Starting in around 772, Charlemagne had as one of his main goals converting to Christianity the Saxons living on the northeast corner of his territory. The conversion was by force, of course, which is the way things were done in the middle ages.

In 772, his troops destroyed Irmensul, which was considered to be a sacred tree to the Saxons. That would have given great offense, obviously.

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More background on the Viking Age

Part of a large silver hoard, found in Denmark. “viking age silver jewellery” by mararie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I will write a number of post on some of the more interesting items I learned from Robert Ferguson in his book The Vikings – A History.

Dating the start and end of the Viking Age.

He makes a number of interesting points in his opening chapter. For example there are multiple ways to define the start of the Viking age and multiple ways to define the end. Different writers and people groups have defined the end in 1016, 1020, 1066, , or even as late as 1263 (p 3).

The author’s more status-based definition is that at the start of the Viking age generally speaking all of the Scandinavian people were pagans (he uses the word heathens). By the end of the Viking age essentially all Scandinavians were Christians.

Watch out for agendas

Another interesting point is he asserts most writers and historians have agendas when writing about the Viking age.

Continue reading “More background on the Viking Age”