Lyle asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 2 months ago

What was up with Viking Berserkers?

They are referenced numerous times in the Sagas. Usually groups of 12 as elite bodyguards to the king. Also, they would travel the countryside engaging in duels to the death to gain other peoples property and land. 

From what I read in the Sagas, they could keep their frantic, psychotic state of rage for about one day (24 hours). Then, the next day they would be in bed like a sick person recovering all day.

How do you think they did it? For example, it is well-documented most people gas out in a real fight in about 30 seconds. Even seasoned fighters gas out quite often in MMA, especially the heavyweights. You are talking from a few minutes of fighting to tops being 20-25 minutes of fighting with a 1-minute break every five minutes. 

So, how he heck did the Berserkers keep their power for a full 24 hours? Sure, they weren't going crazy the whole time but in battle they were known to slaughter everything in sight in a fit of rage that lasted for an extended period of time. 

David Goggins, the baddest man on the planet says when you are dead tired and can no longer go anymore, you have only used 40% of your energy. Did the Vikings tap into this through their insane urge to fight and die for the Gods and kings? 

I don't buy that they were on drugs. Yes, they drank heavily, sometimes to the point of dying with a cup of beer in their hands. But, this crazy energy and stamina seems to be something to do with their mind and beliefs. 

Update:

Just look at the Viking Berserker at Stamford Bridge. He literally held off an entire army on a bridge while his comrades escaped. He slaughtered countless people until he finally was stabbed from underneath the bridge in a sneak attack. Berserkers were known for feats like this and are looked at by many as the greatest warriors in history. Look at it this way, we still use the word "Berserk" that comes directly from them to describe someone going crazy. 

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  • 2 months ago

    In fact, little is actually known about them.  They certainly have reputations to be sure - the Berserker at Stamford killed some 40 of the English before he was finally taken down.  But, actually what made them this way is not known.  Some postulate certain mushrooms, or other organic drugs were used.  Others suggest they were actually functionally insane.  No-one really knows today though.  There are plenty of stories of people doing seemingly insane, but terrifically brave things even in recent times.  Similar to Berserkers?  Who can say?

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

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  • 2 months ago

    Hyoscyamus niger, commonly known as henbane, black henbane or stinking nightshade, is a plant that is poisonous in large quantities. It is native to temperate Europe and Siberia. Henbane seeds have been found in a Viking grave near Fyrkat, Denmark, that was first described in 1977. This and other archaeological finds show that H. niger was known to the Vikings. Analysis of the symptoms caused by intoxication of this plant suggest that it may have been used by berserkers to induce the rage state that they used in war.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Ok, I see what you are saying. It is very possible they were a warrior culture that trained in a way to use extreme strength in a hypnotic state. Warriors throughout the ages have done this, albeit the Vikings seemed to be very good at it. They were ruthless without a doubt.

    Now, are the stories exaggerated as someone said? Yes, of course. Most are in history. However, the Vikings and specifically Berserkers have tales from both the winning and losing sides of them being extremely ferocious warriors you would not want to cross paths with. Just look at what the Vikings did, if they weren't the greatest warriors at the time they wouldn't have conquered and ruled as they did. 

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  • 2 months ago

    I see the problem here. Everyone from your karate sensei to your drill instructor will tell you to keep your head about you when **** goes down. But yet, Vikings were successful because they were loonies? I think historians actually have some explaining to do here. 

    We are talking legends here, not what really happened. No, Saint George did not really slay a dragon anymore than Vikings got their tactics from being lunatics. 

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