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MA Thesis, Central European University Budapest, May (2009)


I have devoted my thesis to a comparative study of the Viking and Hungarian activities in the Frankish Empire and Northern Italy in the ninth and tenth centuries. My goal is to show that their success throughout Europe can be explained by examining the most important factors of their activities. I will examine these factors as a complex system. I also want to show that even though they caused destruction in Europe they still contributed Europe’s development in a long term.

A further aim of the study is to raise new conceptions for reaching a better understanding of the question how these pagan cultures were able to threaten Europe and the Frankish Empire for at least a century. To accomplish this goal I have chosen to write a comparative study of these two cultures distant from each other using the Franks, a Western European Christian civilisation, as a test case. The Franks serve as a kind of control group or operational base to help identifying similarities and differences in the activity patterns of the peripheral Scandinavian and Hungarian societies.

Numerous studies have dealt with the question of the temporary ascendancy of these groups, treating every possible and interesting field within Old Norse or Hungarian studies, but without a single effort to compare them to each other, probably because of the distance between them. This distance is mainly geographical and cultural. Temporal differences also exist but it is not too significant in the first phase of the Viking and Hungarian attacks. My research is justified by the fact that a comparison will always create something new or something more from the already available and known ingredients.

Another goal here is to establish patterns in pagan activities to show that not only military or social factors took part in the success of these peripheral cultures but a combination of these. I anticipate finding major correspondences and divergences which can be applied later in an extended Ph.D. research to every attacking group, be it Western or Eastern Scandinavian, Slavic, Arab or Hungarian, regardless of origin. I plan to create a matrix of factors where every group and field what was studied separately so far will get its correct place in the correct ratio. This will help objectify the impacts of these societies and move away from stereotypes based on nineteenth (and earlier) ideas.