Will mention just a few particularly interesting thing I found noteworthy.
Book starts out reminding us the information on the Vikings is limited.
Without a contemporary written history, we can’t look at the non-metallic and non-stone artifacts, such as clothing and homes, because they have long since have disintegrated. Written accounts, even those that are contemporaneous, are by people who are not Vikings and would thus not understand the Viking culture or mindset. (paragraph updated for readability)
As mentioned by other writers, comments by victims of Viking raids may have a bit of bias in their comments.
Starting and ending point of the Viking Age is vague
Contemporary comments for the first raids, such as during the famed Lindisfarne raid referred to the raiders as being “from the north” or “from the land of robbers” which suggests the Scandinavians had a reputation in place long before 793 A.D.
The 1492 trip by Christopher Columbus took two years of lobbying before the king and queen of Spain approved 2 million Spanish maravedis to fund the trip. A professor has calculated that would be comparable to about US$1,000,000 today.
The cost seems low to me. I’ll look at that more later.
Crew size was 87 according to this article. The accountant in me is driven to calculate the cost per crewman. That would give an average cost of $11,494. I’ll round that to $11,500 and ignore any adjustment for several crew members who died on the trip.
His trip took two months, nine days, which I calculate at 70 days (30+31+9).
In 1836, when Sherman started classes at West Point, he took a stagecoach for the trip. The journey from Zanesville, Ohio to Washington was three days, traveling night and day. Each stagecoach’s was loaded with nine passages on the inside and perhaps three or four on the roof of the coach.
A quick check on Google maps shows this journey is 345 miles on the modern I-70 and I-68. A trip that took three days and nights, say 72 hours, back in 1836 can now be completed in 5 hours 40 minutes, say just over 6 hours adding in a refueling stop.
That is a drop in travel time by a factor of 12, or a reduction of 92%.
In July 1846, company F of Third Artillery, with young first lieutenant Sherman aboard, sailed from the East Coast to California. They sailed around the Cape Horn. The company consisted of 5 officers and 113 enlisted men. The ship stopped in Rio de Janeiro for re-provisioning.
While in California Mr. Sherman built a very nice house, hoping that would entice his wife to move to California. He spent the relatively large sum of $10,000. This was in the early 1850s.
Things were different back in the 1800s. For just one particular thing, private citizens would gather contributions and give the funds to high-profile, popular people in public life. William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant each received such gifts.
The book also provides multiple comments on his compensation level and financial conditions. For his entire married life he struggled with finances, with his large and growing salary never been able to quite keep up with his wife Ellen’s taste for the good life.
Following posts will mention some comments in the book on cost of nice housing, gifts to public figures, travel times, and logistics.
While serving in the Army in California, Sherman formed a partnership and funded a retail store. He was making $70 a month. Each of the three men in the partnership chipped in $500 and drew out $2,000, make a profit of $1500 each.
Such a terrible, horrible person would first be dragged to the gallows by a horse. Then the condemned soul would be hung by the neck, but not until dead. No, the executioner made sure a lot of life was left for several additional steps.
The Sumerians developed the chariot, which was heavy and pulled by wild donkeys, or onagers. The wheels were solid. With that weight and propulsion, it was slow and cumbersome.
The Egyptians refined the concept, using spoked wheels made with bentwood construction and pulled by domesticated horses. This reduced weight and increased speed. Moving the axle to the rear of the chariot improved stability. Their chariots were fast and maneuverable.
Those chariots were also expensive.
The supporting logistics train required plenty of skilled craftsmen. The book says the following trades were needed to get chariots in the field:
Wheel makers (wheelwrights)
Bow makers (bowyers)
And in the field there would be people to manage the herds of horses and repair chariots.
Ongoing access to lots of light and heavy woods was needed, such as the cedars from Lebanon.
The author concludes by pointing out that warfare was pretty much the same in 1100 compared to 750. Warfare throughout that timeframe would have been highlighted by a focus on raids, taking everything of value from the enemy territory, avoiding high risk set-piece battles, and operating with limited objectives.