This post’s title comes from a chapter in Robert Ferguson’s The Hammer and the Cross, a book about Vikings. i was aware that the Vikings had plundered far and wide but i hadn’t realised they’d had quite this much contact with the pig-haters.

Curiously, the Muslims called the Vikings al-madjus, “the Magi”, because they thought they were fire-worshippers like the Persian Zoroastrians. It conjures up images of shiploads of blond rune wizards sweeping down on Muslim towns with loud galdr singing and all kinds of runic hoodoo. They slaughtered the Muslims and burnt down mosques, in true Viking fashion.

i can’t help but feel that Christian missionaries, instead of all this “you must become Christians and embrace love for all humanity” business, should have told the Vikings: “Look, there are these people to the east who don’t eat pig and want to put your women in burqas, why don’t you become Christians and we’ll form you into armies and send you against them and you can burn down their mosques and slaughter anyone you like.” i’m sure that would have appealed a bit more than the love and forgiveness stuff. Contemplate this blond German crusader (played by a Finn) taking an arrow in the throat and then (1.00 in) getting up to take a few of his enemies with him to Valhalla. Instead of killing him off in the first twenty minutes they should have made the whole damn film about him.

However, the chapter closes:

Yet we know enough by now to realize that there is no such thing as a typical Viking, and an enigmatic and unusually charming recollection of their presence is a tale told by one Arab chronicler of a certain group of al-madjus who got lost or separated from their companions in al-Andalus, somehow evaded execution, converted to Islam, and married local girls. They started a farm at Isla Menor on the Mediterranean coast between Alicante and Cartagena, where they presently established a reputation as producers of what was reputed to be the best cheese in the region.

Knowing Vikings as i do, i am confident that their version of Islam co-existed with the occasional human sacrifice to Odin, a lot of runic business, and that their superior cheese owed much of its quality to good old sorcery and paganism. Up the Vikings! Hoorah!

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