Perhaps the main reason why Vikings are popular today is that they are the ancestors of Scandinavians, Scandinavian-Americans, Scandinavian-Canadians, Baltic peoples, and French Normans. Especially today, these descendants of the Vikings consider having Viking blood in their veins a point of personal pride. Certainly the popular image created through works of literature and other media have bolstered this pride, but these Viking descendants have also done a great deal to keep the memory alive. In Legend Land, the truth about the Vikings is less important than what the descendants of the Vikings think the truth is.
Viking descendants in other areas also find pride in their ancestors. Perhaps the best known of this is the people of Normandy, France. In 1911, at the one-thousand anniversary of the victory of the Vikings over the French, Normans celebrated their Viking heritage with elaborate festivals and parties that reinforced knowledge of the Viking legacy in French society. A more permanent reminder of the unique heritage of the Normans is found in Bayeaux, France. Housed in a special museum there is the gorgeous Bayeaux tapestry, dating to the late 11th century and measuring some 70 meters in length. This remarkable artifact commemorates the Norman invasion of England in 1066, when William the Conqueror of Normandy defeated the first king to unite England, King Harold, in the Battle of Hastings. William was a descendant of Count Rollo, also called Hrolf, who was a Viking chieftain that had been given Normandy in a peace agreement with the French king. The Norman invasion of England radically transformed the English language and English culture, and is rightfully a source of pride for these French descendants of the Vikings.
Other Europeans also point to the Vikings as a point of pride, including many living along the Baltic coast. Latvians and Estonians who live across the Baltic Sea from Gotland and along the Gulf of Finland reason that the Vikings undoubtedly visited their shores. Indeed, some cultural traditions, such as wooden boat building, might point to Viking influence in these areas.
In Legend Land, the descendants of the Vikings keep the memory of their ancestors alive and well, certainly contributing to their popularity. In fact, the Vikings seem to be a convenient identifier which differentiates certain groups, like the Normans or Scandinavian-Americans, from the rest of their countrymen. As an important part of so many individuals' identity, it is unlikely the popularity of the Vikings will wane anytime soon.
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