Talk:Great Heathen Army

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Separating fact from fiction[edit]

This article really needs a major rewrite, with proper references to the primary sources, in an attempt to separate the historical facts from the unreliable accounts of later chroniclers.

In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the invaders are referred to as Danes, but Aethelweard Chronicon Fourth Book states clearly that the fleet arrived in East Anglia "from the north". If the leader of the army (Hingwar, Ingwar, Iguuar, Inwaer, depending on the source) is Ívarr, the son of Guðrøðr the King of Laithlind (a Viking kingdom in Scotland), then this would make sense. Is there really any compelling evidence to link the army with the raiders of northern France (845 ff.)? As for Ivar the Boneless, Halfdann Ragnarsson etc, these figures are taken from much later Norse sagas and are not mentioned in any contemporary sources. The historicity of their father Ragnar Lodbrok is highly dubious. Eroica (talk) 12:51, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Wrong Name, Great Heathen Army[edit]

Yes I know its been debated, but its the wrong title, its biased: Heathen is a POV term. Heathen comes from Old English hæðen ("not Christian or Jewish"); cf. Old Norse heiðinn and this to 'an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person'. Its subjective. Its the POV from the Christain view. Not objective. Its like calling Cromwells army that invades Ireland a local Irish slang name with a religious bias. To the Vikings the Christians were different as they had non Viking mythology beliefs. Sure mention what the invaded called the Great Viking Army, but it was a Great Viking Army. That should be the title. Lets face it the Vikings smashed England and such a name as Heathen is like some derogatory revenge. Blade-of-the-South (talk) 01:50, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

I think that a nearer analogy would be the Nazis. Modern historians would say that the Nazis invaded Poland for example. So the Anglo-Saxon chronicle usually referred to Viking raiders as hæðen men. I believe that it is only the MS B ASC for 867 that actually calls it the micel hæðen here (Great Heathen Army). It is usually referred to as the hæðen here (heathen army) or the micel here (great army) or simply the here (army). However, although here is generally translated as meaning army a group of marauders or raiders would probably be more accurate. I agree with your points on the whole, although I am not convinced that the chroniclers used the term out of revenge, more as shorthand as we do with nazi. I would say that as most of the history books use the term Great Heathen Army, this is what anyone researching the subject would look for and we should stick with it on that basis.Wilfridselsey (talk) 08:01, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
History books can be an ass, even close history like WW2 is biased. Humans are by and large taken in easily. Blade-of-the-South (talk) 01:48, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the title of the article should be "Great Viking Army" as it is more accurate and non-derogotory than "Great Heathen Army", but moreover, I would like to know why the term "Great Danish Army" keeps coming back. That is even less accurate than "Heathen" title, because while it IS accurate to say that none of the Viking Warriors were Christian, and therefore the term "heathen" may be a pejorative, but it is not entirely inaccurate. However, calling the force that invaded England "Danish" is entirely inaccurate because it is very likely that the bulk of the invaders, including the men leading them, came from and lived on the Scandanavian Peninsula, of which Denmark, or Jutland as it was then called, is NOT a part. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

Comment- The name "Great Heathen Army" (micel hæðen here) is what the Anglo-Saxon contemporary records of the time called them, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was commissioned in Alfred the Great's time. It maybe derogatory, but so is viking, however it is the only name we have that is historically correct as we don't know what the vikings called their Great Army at the time. It certainly would not have been Great Viking Army or Great Danish Army as they are later historical references. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle referred to raiding parties as þa Deniscan (the Danes). Guthrum, who was defeated at Edington, went on to found Danelaw, suggesting that he was Danish. Having said that the army itself would have contained probably any spare freebooter from northern Europe. The army probably would have consisted of Scandinavian and non Scandinavian. The burial site at Repton contains the remains of Danes and Norwegians. If you google Great Danish Army then you will see that there are quite a few references to it. I guess that people try and soften history by coming up with nicer names but Great Heathen Army is the only one we have from contemporary records. If other names are in general use I see no reason why we should not refer to them in the article. But there should be a reliable reference for it. Wilfridselsey (talk) 10:22, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Your long reply to 23.116 is commendable, unfortunately that IP editor has a longer history of POV based edits to Norse history articles, with numerous attempts at introducing their own homemade historical bias, some of which can be read in their comment on this, which contains numerous erronous claims about early Danish history as well as Scandinavian history in general. So it is rather doubtful they are interested in any well worded and well sourced reply such as yours is. --Saddhiyama (talk) 16:48, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
Oh well you can but try! Thankyou for your compliments and concern. I had noticed that the IP address in question has a definite anti-Danish bias across several articles. Anyone who thinks that Heathen (meaning non-Christian or Jew) is more derogatory than Viking(that came to mean pirate, freebooter, kidnapper and protection racket specialist) is a bit deluded I suppose. Regards Wilfridselsey (talk) 18:36, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
A quick search turns up a number of reliable sources using the term Great Danish Army. That is the deciding factor here. If you have sources disputing that usage, please raise them. But stop deleting the term without authority. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 03:57, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Old English sources do not call them Vikings but generally use the terms Danes, Pagans or Northmen interchangeably. Other sources, specifically the Irish ones, do differentiate between them. I have added a note along these lines to the article in an attempt to address the constant vandalism of the article. Wilfridselsey (talk) 15:02, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
The very first sentence of the article states that the warriors originated from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Now it says this twice. All the vandalism comes from one user, who has now been asked to raise the question here to gain consensus and has not done so. The note is unnecessary for all but one user who will not finish the first sentence, and it is redundant. Laszlo Panaflex (talk) 15:29, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
You're right of course. However the note does explore the subject a bit more with an explanation that the ASC does not differentiate between the different countries and just calls them all Danes. The note is also used for the Northmen term so it is not entirely redundant! Wilfridselsey (talk) 15:47, 8 December 2014 (UTC)