Art by Matt Smith
Now evuhryone always thinks that all the Vikings were these big-time pagan wahshippahs who all just got off by prayin’ tah fuckin’ Thor on some real nightmahrish voyage ‘cross the North Sea just so they could then prahceed tah go n’ jump ovahboahd n’ chahge up the beach tah some monahstahry in England n’ then go completely fuckin’ ape-shit behrsurk n’ rape n’ pillage evuhrything in sight. So it’s kindah like, yeah, these ahren’t exactly a group’ah guys you’d expect tah see down at Holy Cross fillin’ up the pews on Sunday morhnin’ gettin’ ready tah ask fahr fuckin’ fahgiveness. But thing is, the Vikings were ‘round fahr fuckin’ like 300 yee’ahs n’ so eventually mohr n’ mohr’ah ‘em stahted tah find Jesus.
But at fihrst it didn’t really mean jack shit to ‘em yah know? I mean, it’s like, they only found him ‘cause they were fohrced tah get baptized by some European monahrch as paht’ah their plea bahgain deal tah not get executed aftah losin’ a battle in a fahreign country. N’ these guys, they were pretty much always pretty fuckin’ practical — I mean the whole reason they loved sackin’ monahstahries so much in the fihrst place was ‘cause they were always fuckin’ loaded with mohr gold n’ silvah ’en the entiyah fuckin’ Kennedy compound n’ the monks couldn’t even fuckin’ defend ‘emselves. So you offah r’a group’ah practical predahtahs like this a deal where you dunk their heads undah watah n’ then othahwise just let ‘em pretty much go entiyahly unpunished n’ it’s no fuckin’ wondah they keep comin’ back fahr mohr yee’ah r’aftah yee’ah r’aftah yee’ah.
But it wasn’t just defeat in battle that intrahduced the Scandinavians tah church, yah know, ’cause sometimes a German bishop would alsah just show up there outtah the middle’ nowhere at some small-time Scanvinavian settlement n’ staht tryin’ tah convehrt the locals in a mohr peaceful mannah but that was usually ‘bout as successful as tryin’ tah buy a Pats playoff ticket on fuckin’ gameday. N’ tah top it all off, sometimes the bishops were total fuckin’ dicks ’emselves n’ would behave all confrontationally, yah know like just preachin’ fi’ah n’ brimstone n’ smashin’ up the sacred idols’ah Odin n’ Thor n’ Frej’s huge fuckin’ hahd-on n’ this would piss off the locals, n’ so then they’d go n’ they’d kill the crazy son’ah bitch since violence has pretty much always been the default human response tah disputes throughout all’ah histahry.
So I guess what I’m getting at is basic’ly, Christianity, it wasn’t doin’ so fuckin’ great in Scandinavia in the eahrly days’ah the Viking pehriod fahr the most paht, but eventually there were some people who stahted gettin’ intah it, little by little. N’ usually these were the guys who were impressed by all the Christian wealth down in England n’ France, n’ so they’d see all this loot n’ these magnificent stone cathedrals n’ shit n’ so they’d figyah, “Hey, yah know, why not give Jesus a chance too, ‘cause, shit, can’t huhrt right?” N’ so then they’d staht tah pray tah him right there ‘longside Thor n’ Odin n’ all the othahs which wasn’t exactly koshah, but they didn’t really give a shit since it was all new to ‘em anyway.
N’ then there were the guys who just fuckin’ straight-up convehrted. There weren’t a whole lot’ah these guys eahrly on n’ they were ‘bout as populah as the fuckin’ jackass who weahrs Yankees shit tah Fenway, but they got ‘round n’ just like all true New Yohrkahs, they fuckin’ sucked n’ no one liked ‘em.
So anyway, the yee’ahs ahr goin’ by n’ slowly mohr n’ mohr Scandinavians ahr convehrtin’ in some fohrm ah anothah n’ eventually the new religion is stahtin’ tah make some sehrious inroads with diffrent membahs’ah the vahrious royal families. One’ah the big ones was King Harald Bluetooth who convehrted in the 960s n’ went so fuckin’ fah r’as tah have his dead dad dug up from outtah his old-time heathen buhrial mound in Denmahk n’ then reinterred in an all-new Christian grave. Anothah was Olaf Tryggvason, who was the king’ah Nahway fah r’awhile.
Now thing ‘bout Olaf was, he was a fuckin’ fightah. This guy grew up in exile out in Russia where the Nahrse had been taking slaves — which is where our wohrd Slavic comes from, by the way — fahr fuckin’ genuhrations already befohr goin’ on tou’ah out in the Baltic n’ eventually on ovah tah England, where he teamed up with Svein Forkbeard n’ fought at Maldon like a true late night men’s hockey league goon befohr goin’ n’ attackin’ London n’ finally gettin’ baptized n’ paid tah fuck off n’ go home by the king’ah England himself. Only thing was, he had no home tah go to since his family had lost control’ah Nahway a long time ago, but since he was one’ah the great grandsons’ah the old Nahwegian King Harald Fairhair he had a legitimate fuckin’ claim tah the Nahwegian throne.
Now Harald Fairhair was the guy who got the whole Nahwegian unification process stahted like 100 yee’ahs eahrliah n’ alienated the fuck outtah anyone who didn’t like payin’ taxes tah some fah r’off fuckin’ douchebag who thought he was the best thing tah happen since the recipe fahr baked beans, which is why a lottah Nahwegians fled his fuckin’ tyranny n’ went off tah colonize Iceland n’ eventually Greenland n’ Vinland too. N’ this was always a so’ah spot fah Harald n’ his whole family since, yah know, they wanted tah consolidate as much fuckin’ powah as they possibly could, but they ended up losin’ it all anyway.
N’ so Olaf, bein’ the exiled grandkid’ah this guy, now he shows up in Nahway as a supah rich mothahfuckah, freshly baptized by the English king himself n’ with a shit ton’ah priests accompanyin’ him fahr good meas’ah n’ so ah’couhrse you can imagine Olaf’s goin, “This is fuckin’ sweet, I just got the financial n’ spihritual backin’ ah the King’ah England tah go n’ fuckin’ conque’ah my home country where I nevah even really lived but, yah know, I’m gonnah do it anyway.” N’ since Vikings had mohr honah ‘en present day politicians, he kept his wohrd n’ didn’t even evah bothah tah betray England n’ instead went ‘bout beatin’ his rival in Nahway who was this guy Håkon.
Now Håkon was in control’ah the country at that time n’ he was wicked hahdco’ah intah paganism. I mean, even the way he dressed — he was the kindah guy who would’ah fit in well up in Salem durin’ the month’ah Octobah. But anyway, between him bein’ a hahdco’ah Odinist n’ Olaf bein’ a straight-up evangelical missionahry type with a swohrd, the two weren’t exactly a pehrfect match, even if they weren’t tryin’ tah kill each othah in the fihrst place. But Olaf basic’ly just swooped in with his new English suhppohrt system n’ he just completely fuckin’ destroyed Håkon’s troops in no time n’ then Håkan went n’ got himself killed by his own slave. N’ so yeah, game ovah fahr him.
So now Olaf’s in control’ah all’ah Nahway n’ he wants tah consolidate his powah n’ he’s got silvah n’ he’s got priests n’ damned if he isn’t gonnah use ‘em both tah his best advantage. So he stahts out close tah home, spreadin’ the gospel n’ taxes in Nahway, n’ then eventually he stahts makin’ his way ‘cross the sea tah some small islands off the coast’ah Scotland, n’ befohr yah know it he’s settin’ his eyes on Iceland.
N’ fihrst thing he does is he decides he needs tah send some scouts ovah there tah check out the lay’ah the land n’ maybe convehrt a few people hee’ah n’ there n’ so he picks this Saxon Bishop guy named Frederick tah go ‘long with this othah guy Thorvald. N’ fuckin’ Thorvald, man, that guy was a fuckin’ nut job. I mean this guy had a tempah that would’ah made even fuckin’ Mike Milbury blush n’ so you can just imagine the shit stohrm that’s stahtin’ tah brew as these two freaks set out ’cross the watah r’on their way tah the Icelandic Commonwealth.
To be continued n’ whatnot