Difference between revisions of "Viking birth dates"

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(Created page with 'Viking birth and death dates are a problem. The chief source of information on the Viking lines are the sagas - and in particular long lists of ancestors and children that occur…')

Revision as of 07:33, 20 December 2012

Viking birth and death dates are a problem.

The chief source of information on the Viking lines are the sagas - and in particular long lists of ancestors and children that occur in various sections, outside of the main discourse, and without any dates.

In fact, it's almost impossible to find a date in the sagas - most of them were written totally independently of the Christian calendar, and they seem to regard the count of passing years less interesting than the antics of the people the sagas are about.

Birth is only interesting when there are special circumstances; deaths are mostly interesting if they occur in battle - many people simply slip out of the saga once their part is done, never to be mentioned again.

Certain events have generally accepted dates - for instance, tradition shows the battle of Stiklestad, where Olav Haraldsson was killed, as occuring on June 29, 1030 (Julian calendar); the battle of Hafrsfjord is less certain - 872 is the most accepted date, but historians' estimates have ranged from that all the way to 900.

Nonetheless, nearly all saga-based entries have years on them - some based on estimates, some based on sheer guesswork - but few of them list their sources, so it's impossible to test them. It seems rude (and likely to increase confusion) to just delete them all, but it is also incredibly useless to start a discussion of which date is the "right" one.

Recommendations on dating

These guidelines are suggested for anyone who wishes to use time on dates on the Viking profiles.

  • Always use the "ca" marker!
  • If you put dates on the profiles, link to this page from the "about me" of the profile!
  • Put in dates as "ranges" - and don't be afraid to use a wide range!

Suggested guidelines for picking ranges

  • It's unlikely that a child is born less than 12 years after the birth of his parents. So the latest date for a father's birth should be >= 12 years before the latest date for the birth of his child.
  • It's unlikely that a father begets a child above the age of 65. If you think it happened, mark specially.
  • It's unlikely that a mother bears a child after the age of 45. (Remember - healthcare wasn't what it now is.)
  • The father must have been alive 9 months before the child was born. This means that his earliest possible death date is the year before his child's earliest possible birth date.
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