A Viking reputation.

s you may have guessed, I am following History Channel TV Series Vikings.

vikings season 3

In Vikings season 4, an episode is titled (episode 4). Yol. …

or should it be юл as pronounced in Tatar? (sounds like Yol)

Could it be that at long last we are going to meet at long last the elusive Rus Vikings?

Do not forget that in Season 1, the now defunct Earl Haraldson mentions Russia (which is quite literally an impressive feat of time traveling as Russia certainly does not exist in 793AD.) What we have living in what will be known much later as Russia are Pagan Slavs who live in tribes. Russians they are not.

Season 2 remains silent about the Volga Vikings until Harbard the Wanderer in season 3 admits to have fathered Prince Olav of Kiev!

rus viking ibn fadlan

River Volga was very much a vital trade artery between Scandinavia and Constantinople. Ibn Fadlan chronicles are written about Rus Vikings. Which nicely ties in with Earl Haraldson funeral pyre and its Angel of Death (No, Ibn Fadlan never said she wore an helmet; by the way the word angel belongs to the Religions of the Book. As we are fans, we shall not raise therefore an issue at a Norse child – Bjorn- quoting casually the word Angel). Interestingly, a Viking chieftain was found having being buried in the fashion described by Fadlan in 1906 in Groix Island in French Brittany!). Let’s return to our Volga oarsmen. As this is the origin of the word Rus: oarsmen, rowers.

Where does this lead us?

A painting shows a Viking selling a slave girl to a Persian merchant.

A painting shows a Viking selling a slave girl to a Persian merchant.

Spoilers about Season 4 from almost the beginning advertise the presence of a Chinese slave woman. A slave that Ragnar’s men find inside Paris during the raid. Yidu to give her her name has been enslaved from China and brought to Frankia.

I do not buy Yidu found in Paris out of all places.

Yes, Franks will send about the same time of Marco Polo an envoy to Mongol kings to the express wish to convert said Asian people to Christianity. Louis IX of France (a descendant of Rollo and of a Rus Viking princess – yes, this is a small world after all) took religion seriously; it is not for nothing that Louis is known today as Saint Louis) had sent a few monks Eastward. But this was the 13th century; not the 9th or 10th one.

I do not see how she would have been sold to a Frank when her owner could have racked a fabulous sale in golden denarii ( ancestor of Dinar in use in 2016 Baghdad) in Constantinople. Unless she is a birthday gift from the Caliph or the Basileus to the Emperor (along the customary elephant one presumes.)

If M Hirst uses the script: slave found in Paris sailing up to Kattegat it will mean he is closing once again the door to Rus Vikings; But if Yidu reaches Kattegat via the logical slave road which traveled from India through the Great Tartary up to the Volga ending up… to Scandinavia: this would make a lot more sense.

юл means road, route, way. It is a very Slavic word still in use in Russian. Somehow, I suspect there is more in it than the admittedly more Viking but already quite traveled route of Yule, Jul. In one case, we have an episode linked to a period of the year; in another case, we have the introduction of new lands, new people and at long last M Hirst admitting Vikings partaking to human trafficking!

Jul, the Winter solstice. A family reunion where people can reminisce of the departed ones… Does this calendar-centered episode bring much else to the story line? I doubt.

On the other hand, Yol the Road does.

Vikings sold a lot of prisoners via the Volga Yol. Alexander Skirda – sadly not translated in English – explains in 2010 how Vikings traded with Tatars, Khazars who in turn traded not only with Baghdad but also the Far East.

vikings slavery ireland

Say what may. Do not forget Yidu is supposedly Chinese; if she ends up in Kattegat, she must have traveled some sort of slave trade route.

Does the above gives me hope we are going to enter the not so nice aspect of King Ragnar’s reign? Not that I say that the historical Franks who dabbled in castrating captured Slavs to sell them via Rhadanite Jews to the harems of Al-Andalus were simpering innocents. As you can see, nobody was nice and everybody was corrupt.

Vikings connected Scandinavia, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian Sea to Russian Rivers and Southern steppes while Tatars in which we can include Pechenegs, Turkoman tribes etc who in turn played an active role on the trade routes uniting the Indian Ocean to Byzantium, the Caliphate, via the Near East and Central Asia!

And I have yet to mention how Franks. Irish, English, Scot or Welsh people were enthralled and not for the best though I grant M Hirst to have shown how at first Athelstan is enslaved.

After three seasons of toadying to Ragnar, it is about time to unseat our character. Allowing him to get a step closer to the snake pit he has been fated to meet.

Adding quotes, links and more.



During the Viking age (793 – approximately 1100), the Norse raiders often captured and enslaved militarily weaker peoples they encountered. The Nordic countries called their slaves thralls (Old Norse: Þræll). The thralls were mostly from Western Europe, among them many Franks, Anglo-Saxons, and Celts. Many Irish slaves traveled in expeditions for the colonization of Iceland. Raids on monasteries provided a source of young, educated slaves who could be sold in Venice or Byzantium for high prices. Scandinavian trade centers stretched eastwards from Hedeby in Denmark and Birka in Sweden to Staraya Ladoga in northern Russia before the end of the 8th century. This traffic continued into the 9th century as Scandinavians founded more trade centers at Kaupang in southwestern Norway and Novgorod, farther south than Staraya Ladoga, and Kiev, farther south still and closer to Byzantium. Dublin and other northwestern European Viking settlements were established as gateways through which captives were traded northwards. In the Laxdæla saga, for example, a Rus merchant attends a fair in the Brenn Isles in Sweden selling female slaves from northwestern Europe. The Norse also took German, Baltic, Slavic and Latin slaves. The 10th-century Persian traveller Ibn Rustah described how Swedish Vikings, the Varangians or Rus, terrorized and enslaved the Slavs taken in their raids along the Volga River. Slaves were often sold south, to Byzantine or Muslim buyers, via paths such as the Volga trade route. Ahmad ibn Fadlan of Baghdad provides an account of the other end of this trade route, namely of Volga Vikings selling Slavic Slaves to middle-eastern merchants. Finland proved another source for Viking slave raids.  Slaves from Finland or Baltic states were traded as far as central Asia.


The Mongol invasions and conquests in the 13th century added a new force in the slave trade. The Mongols enslaved skilled individuals, women and children and marched them to Karakorum or Sarai, whence they were sold throughout Eurasia. Many of these slaves were shipped to the slave market in Novgorod. Genoese and Venetians merchants in Crimea were involved in the slave trade with the Golden Horde. In 1441, Haci I Giray declared independence from the Golden Horde and established the Crimean Khanate. For a long time, until the early 18th century, the khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. In a process called the “harvesting of the steppe”, they enslaved many Slavic peasants.







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