Cruise – Baltic Norwegian Seas
In the early Middle Ages, Norse (Scandinavian) merchants built a trade empire all around the Baltic. Later, the Norse fought for control of the Baltic against Wendish tribes dwelling on the southern shore. The Norse also used the rivers of Russia for trade routes, finding their way eventually to the Black Sea and southern Russia. This Norse-dominated period is referred to as the Viking Age.Since the Viking age, the Scandinavians have referred to the Baltic Sea as Austmarr (“Eastern Lake”). “Eastern Sea”, appears in the Heimskringla and Eystra salt appears in Sörla þáttr. Saxo Grammaticus recorded in Gesta Danorum an older name, Gandvik, -vik being Old Norse for “bay”, which implies that the Vikings correctly regarded it as an inlet of the sea. Another form of the name, “Grandvik”, attested in at least one English translation of Gesta Danorum, is likely to be a misspelling.) In addition to fish the sea also provides amber, especially from its southern shores within today’s borders of Poland, Russia and Lithuania. First mentions of amber deposits on the South coast of the Baltic Sea date back to the 12th century. The bordering countries have also traditionally exported lumber, wood tar, flax, hemp and furs by ship across the Baltic. Sweden had from early medieval times exported iron and silver mined there, while Poland had and still has extensive salt mines. Thus the Baltic Sea has long been crossed by much merchant shipping. The lands on the Baltic’s eastern shore were among the last in Europe to be converted to Christianity. This finally happened during the Northern Crusades: Finland in the twelfth century by Swedes, and what are now Estonia and Latvia in the early thirteenth century by Danes and Germans (Livonian Brothers of the Sword). The Teutonic Order gained control over parts of the southern and eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, where they set up their monastic state. Lithuania was the last European state to convert to Christianity.
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