Chapter 24: The Nordic reservoir – Scandinavia
Scandinavia became the very first settling areas for the Indo-European tribes in Europe—in fact they were settled so long in this region that the scientific name for their racial type, Nordic, came to be associated with the region itself, hence the oft used term “Nordic countries.”
[Many facts recounted by Kemp were unknown history for me, for instance, the British twice bombarding Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807, or that the Scandinavian tribe called the Rus gave their name to Russia. Kemp writes:]
By 850 AD, the first Christian Frankish missionaries had arrived in Sweden to convert the pagan Swedes to the new Jewish originated religion, Christianity. They achieved some success with the conversion of the Swedish King Olaf, and slowly the religion filtered down, displacing the long established Odinism which was the original religion of all the Scandinavians.
During the reign of Eric IX, from 1150 to 1160, the newly Christianized Swedes invaded Finland and forced Christianity onto the stubbornly pagan Indo-European tribes in that country. The Swedes were to rule Finland for two centuries as a result.
Eric himself was to die in a Christian setting: he was assassinated by a Danish claimant to his throne while he was attending mass. He was later deified by the church and made patron saint of Sweden.
Into the dissension of Norway a new ingredient was added: Christianity. In 995, Olaf I, a great-grandson of Harold Fairhair I, became king. Before his accession, Olaf had lived in England, where he had been converted to Christianity. He took the throne with the firm purpose of forcing Christianity on Norway and was partially successful, with his divine mission being interrupted when he was killed in battle with the Danes under King Sweyn I.
Norway was then ruled by Olaf II from 1015, who continued the evangelism of his predecessor, only this time taking the sword to all the pagans who refused to convert to Christianity.
By about 1025, Olaf was more powerful than any previous Norwegian king had been, thereby arousing the hatred of many petty princes who conspired with the Danish/English King, Canute the Great, who, in 1028, managed to drive Olaf into exile into Russia. Two years later Olaf returned and was killed in battle: he was subsequently deified and made into the patron saint of Norway, his bloodthirsty activities on behalf of Christianity in that country being ignored.
The Swedish Conquest
It is difficult to pin down any final proof of Viking raiders having originated in Finland. However, swords have been found in that region with inscriptions on them indicating that their owners served in the Varangian Guard of the Eastern Roman Emperor at Constantinople in the 9th and 10th Centuries—indications that some Finns took part in the Viking expeditions of that era.
Finland did not form any sort of early unified state: it was only with the Christianizing efforts of the Swedes from around 1050 AD that any form of central organization came into being.
The Swedish king, Eric, invaded what was still the unorganized territory of Finland in 1155 with the express aim of converting the Finns to Christianity. Easily defeating the scattered Finnish tribes, Eric then made his evangelical mission—carried out with the by now usual combination of preaching and execution of those unwilling to be converted—into a permanent colony, adding Finland to the Swedish state.
A Christian missionary from England, Henry, who had been preaching at Uppsala in Sweden, also took part in this evangelical mission to Finland: the pagans however killed him in 1156. Henry was later deified by the church and became the patron saint of Finland.