History of the Vikings
Discovery of Vinland
"The Vikings were the people who came from Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) from about AD 700 to about 1125. This period is called the Viking Age. Vikings traveled great distances in their longships, as traders, settlers and warriors. Many of the Vikings were tall and had red or blonde hair and beards. Villages on or near any coast in early medieval Europe lived in great fear of Viking attacks. Some of the countries most affected by Viking piracy were England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and France.
The first recorded raid in the west was at Lindisfarne in 793. Europeans were frightened of the Vikings because of their strong weapons, swift attacks, and cruel fighting tactics. They were known for their bad treatment of women, children and monks in the places where they fought. When the Vikings came to England, the English kings paid them to leave the country, but the Vikings took their money and sometimes fought them anyway. These payments were called Danegeld. From the 9th century to 1066, when the French Duke of Normandy, who became King William I of England conquered it, Danish and Norwegian Vikings ruled large parts of England.
Because of their longships, which could float in 4 feet (1.3m) of water, the Vikings were able to make their way up rivers and land deep inside a country. For example they sailed up the River Shannon in Ireland and built a harbour 60 miles (100 km) from the coast.
There was a difference in who led Viking raids. In the 9th century Viking Age raids were led by men who may have been exiles in their own countries. The later Viking raids in the late 10th century and early 11th century and were led by Kings. Some of the early leaders tried to become kings with the riches they plundered from Europe and Russia. Some were successful but most were not."
-- Simple English Wikipedia, http://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking