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The Vikings descended upon Europe at the close of the 8th century, invading the continent's western seas and river systems, trading, raiding and spreading terror. In the north, they settled Iceland and Greenland and reached North America. In the east, Swedish Varangians established a river road to the Orient. With the collapse of the Viking commercial empire, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries struggled to survive, their hardships exacerbated by internal strife, foreign domination and the Black Death.
This book details the development of Scandinavia--Sweden in particular--from the end of the Ice Age, through a series of prehistoric cultures, the Bronze and Iron ages, to the Viking period and late Middle Ages. Recent research suggests a Swedish origin of the Goths, who helped dismember the Roman Empire, and evidence of Swedish participation in the western Viking expeditions. Special attention is given to Eastern Europe, where Sweden dominated commerce through the conquest of trade towns and the river systems of Russia.