Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Harrying And Trading

"In the following summer [Hadding] led a fleet across the Baltic. They harried widely among the Wends, they rowed up the rivers of Gardariki, they came back loaded with gold, amber, furs, and thralls. Thus for a while afterward there could again be peacefulness in Denmark."
-Poul Anderson, War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999), p. 229.

Did they harry the primitive Wends but trade with civilized Gardariki or harry both? Thralls could have been captured or bought. Harrying or conquering primitive areas could be justified not by me but by some as civilizing the primitives and as giving the troops combat experience. How did the expedition across the Baltic ensure renewed peacefulness? Harried primitives are less likely to attack - maybe. Mutually beneficial trading certainly encourages peacefulness. We must not judge Hadding by our standards but we should assess him and his period nevertheless.


David Birr said...

It could mean that harrying the Wends and venturing into Gardariki, whether the latter was for trade or raiding, "got it out of the systems" of Hadding's Danes, at least to some extent. Or perhaps the wealth they brought back was used to persuade prominent Danish chieftains ("bribe" is such an ugly word) to be peaceful.

Both the ideas I just proposed could be true, too. (Or both could be wrong, of course.)

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Even more simply, perhaps, since the "historical" Hadding lived circa AD 460, the more advanced or highly organized Danes saw the Wends and Russians as prey to be plundered at will. I don't think the Wends and Russians had anything better than village chiefs at the time. I might be wrong, of course!


David Birr said...

Granted, your point, but I was referring to Paul's question, "How did the expedition across the Baltic ensure renewed peacefulness?"