Vikings! Fierce warriors originating from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Sailing in their superiorly crafted and ingeniously engineered longships, they would explore, raid, and plunder from Russia to the Mediterranean and North Africa, to as far away as North America. Warriors whose lust for fighting and treasure would make them feared from the late 8th century and the raid on the monastery at Lindisfarne in 793 until the middle 11th century with the defeat of Harold Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in 1066.
The north men, as the Vikings were often referred to at the time, were driven by their lust for war and wandering, exploring and trading as well as raiding and conquering. They would be the bane of the English and Irish Iles, settle Iceland and Greenland, besiege the city of Paris on multiple occasions, raid as far south as Spain, North Africa and Italy, explore North America possibly coming into conflict with the native Americans, and even serve in the Varangian Guard under the Emperors of the Byzantine Empire.
The final act of the Viking age would be fought by one of its greatest kings, Harold Hardrada. Before Stamford Bridge, Harold spent many years fighting and making his fortune as a mercenary from the courts of Russian princes, to serving as the head of the Varangian Guard fighting the Saracens in the Mediterranean and even seeing action against the Normans in Italy. Upon his return, he would become King of Norway but it was his death at Stamford Bridge, with an arrow through the eye, that would effectively bring an end to the age of the Vikings.