Slavery in the Medieval Viking World | Medievalist Matias Vanhanen


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In this episode Medievalist Matias Vanhanen takes us into a fascinating subject that is really obscure and one that provides immense challenges to researchers and that is slavery in the "Viking World."

We explore archaeology such as Slavic pottery and what it tells us about slavery in Northern Europe as we move to Iceland and see the prominence of "Celtic" surnames that appear throughout Icelandic history as slaves, concubines and hostages are transported throughout the area.

We take a look at what the Vikings called their slaves and why... does it revolve around ethnicity? Was there a second class of people who were not slaves but were still not completely free?

From trade routes and beyond to what primary sources such as Muslim explorers and the Irish Annals we are painted a complicated and often contradictory narrative as we have to sift through what is "real" and what is not.

From slave routs to Viking Ireland and Viking raids in Africa we watch as a complicated subject becomes even more complicated.

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Matias Vanhanen is an undergraduate student of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge focusing his studies on the history and languages of Northern Europe in the Viking Age.

He is from Finland and writes a blog that you can support at

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