• Lee Roach

The History behind Novgorod Song by Song Volume 3: Varangian Guard


As more Vikings from Scandinavia began making their way into Novgorod, a land once full of seemingly infinite riches became a land scarce in resources. For those looking to expand their wealth the only option seemed to lay southward. Emperor Basil offered these warriors ample pay for their services as body guards, 1st dibs on loot, and the finest weapons and armor in the world. Initially the intent of the Rus’ was to act as the Emperor’s personal army. These men became known as the Varangian Guard, a name that would soon be known all over the world.

The skill of these warriors was quickly utilized outside the realm of personal body guards. A navy seals of medieval times, they were often sent to settle disputes among the Byzantine Empire, expand its borders, or strike down social unrest within the walls of major Ottoman cities. From Syria to France no one was safe. Cities were taken by small Varangian forces; one after another they would be captured in spectacular fashion. A fortress in Italy was sieged when the Varangian leader Harald Hardrada faked his own death. Upon news of his passing Italian leaders thought it honorable to have their Castle become his final resting place. As the coffin of Harald Hardrada passed through the castle gates it was dropped blocking the doors from slamming shut, letting Harald’s men flood the city without opposition.

Victory after victory along the Mediterranean Sea gained the Varangian guard a higher and higher status among the Empire. They were revered as the rock stars of their day. They could afford lavish things, big houses, jeweled armor, the finest clothes, and multiple slaves. More civilized ways of living did not however completely change how these Vikings acted. Texts from the time reveal many instances where local residents of Constantinople had confrontations with the Rus’ mercenaries. Drunken fights with the towns people, rape, and stealing had been reported and the merge of these 2 societies was not made without its hard ships.

Despite these differences the overall consensus is that the Varangian were an important tool for the Byzantine Empire. An indispensable war machine vital to maintain order amongst the biggest Empire the world had ever known these fierce men were utilized for centuries before they faded from our history books in the in the 14th century.

Lyrics

chorus

Endless Riches flooded our homeland

Once wealth dried up

We sailed south

The promise of silver

The promise of gold

The prospect of fame

Made us leave home

Verse 1

Making an allegiance to a foreign enemy

The emperor Basil heard of our ferocity

Keeping our plunder collecting our wage

A royal guard thousands of mercenaries

Interlude

Mighty in stature afraid not of fire afraid not of steel

Ever fearless 6000 men axes in hand

Expanding an empire no one is safe from Byzantine

Conquering land from Syria to Sicily

Verse 1

Making an allegiance to a foreign enemy

The emperor Basil heard of our ferocity

Keeping our plunder collecting our wage

A royal guard thousands of mercenaries

chorus

Endless Riches flooded our homeland

Once wealth dried up

We sailed south

The promise of silver

The promise of gold

The prospect of fame

Made us leave home

Break down

Destroyer of all who dare oppose us

Led by Harald to countless victories

Purging Europe of non-Christian entities

Burning cities bathing in the blood of Islam

Fierce and loyal we sail across the sea in search of gold

Silver and jewels raping pillaging killing everyone

Stand up and fight with sword and shield and spear and axe in hand


#Novgorod #TheVarangianGuard #PestilentAge #ThehistoryofNovogorodsongbysong

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