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Bjarmaland (Biarmia) as illustrated in the Carta marina (1539) by Olaus Magnus
Bjarmaland (Biarmia) as illustrated in the Carta marina (1539) by Olaus Magnus

Bjarmaland (also spelt Bjarmland and Bjarmia; Latin: Biarmia or Byarmia; Old English: Beormaland)[1] was a territory mentioned in Norse sagas since the Viking Age and in geographical accounts until the 16th century. The term is usually seen to have referred to the southern shores of the White Sea and the basin of the Northern Dvina River (Vienanjoki in Finnish) as well as, presumably, some of the surrounding areas. Today, those territories comprise a part of the Arkhangelsk Oblast of Russia.

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  • ✪ 10 AMAZING Viking Facts you didn't know! True Stories Sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok!!


the Vikings also known as Norse peoples embarked on military mercantile and demographic expansion campaigns between the 8th and 11th centuries that played a crucial role in the early medieval history of the British Isles Scandinavia Estonia France and Sicily and they are world renowned as master of both war and sea stay tuned to number one to find out what famous extreme relay race is named after the fiercest of the Vikings number 10 Eric Bloodaxe Eric haraldson also known as Eric Blood acts was a tenth century Norwegian who ruled Norway and the kingdom of Northumbria in England the latter of which he ruled twice the sagas describe him as being full of valor and strength from a young age and it said that at the very young age of 12 he embarked on a career of international piracy raiding along the baltic coast of Denmark freesias Germany Scotland Wells Ireland France and even Lapland and Jarman land the latter of which is modern-day northern Russia unlike other Viking warriors thanks to Erik's time is ruler of Northumbria he is mentioned in numerous sources which are a mixture of historical facts folklore and political propaganda mostly he is portrayed as a Viking hero whose powerful and violent performances as a warrior brought him short-term successes he was clearly successful of what he did to obtain the numerous titles he held but not so fearsome that he was able to retain them nevertheless he is remembered in modern times by his epithet blood axe which is of uncertain origins although some believe it refers to his sling of his half-brothers for the rule of Norway while others attributed to his violent reputation as a raider number 9 Harald Bluetooth Harald ghorm son also known as Harald Bluetooth was a King of Denmark and Norway during the 10th century and founded the jelling dynasty he is perhaps most famous for introducing Christianity to Denmark a change from the previous pagan beliefs that had existed for millennia in that part of the world is also linked to the construction of the oldest known bridge in southern scandinavia the ravening bridge while the sagas portray him in a negative light in much more recent times he has been remembered by having the electronic device Bluetooth named after him you don't believe me Scandinavian ruins were used to create the logo number 8 Bjorn Ironside according to the tale of Ragnar son Bjorn was one of the sons of Ragnar lothbrok he was a powerful Viking chieftain and naval commander large Viking raids into the heart of the Mediterranean the exact date of his rule is unknown but it is estimated to be sometime during the 9th century his military prowess is evident in his raids in Sicily North Africa Italy and other Mediterranean places yet he wasn't just a fearsome warrior and Raider he was also sneaky and cunning according to stories while attempting to raid the town of Loony in Italy which they believed to be Rome at the time they tricked the inhabitants into cramming Bjorn access to the city in order to do this they pretended he was deathly ill and on his deathbed he decided that he wanted to receive Christian sacraments the unfortunate fall spell for the trick and he was taken into the city on a stretcher but to everyone's surprise he jumped off the stretcher and started killing people before opening the gates to the rest of the Viking horde although what we know of Bjorn comes from the sagas if he was a real person and he probably was he would have been a fearsome opponent to battle number 7 thor finn sigurðsson thor Fionn also known as 'the orphan the mighty was an 11th century earl of orkney which is a group of islands on the north east coast of Scotland Thor Finn was descended from a princess the daughter of king malcolm ii of scotland and so had some claim to the kingdom he was the most powerful of all the Earl's of Orkney whose territory spammed the Shetland Islands the he Bertie's as well as the Caithness and even Sutherland in northern mainland Scotland Thorin was raised a Christian and is famous for setting up the bishopric of work me his life is detailed in the heimskringla by the Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson as well as in the Orkney Inga saw a which is of anonymous authorship the ordinate details how orphaned defeated his nephew wrong vald Brunson who attempted to take Orkney from him as the story goes wrong vault set fired with orphans hall while he and his family were inside heroically Thor Finn smashed down the wall carrying his wife in his arms and fled to Caithness on the Scottish mainland orphan hidden exile over the winter and then returned in the spring mounting a surprise attack on wrong vault wrong vault fled his Hall and ran to the beach but he was tracked down and given away by of all things The Barking of his pet dog he was then executed by Thor Finn's foster father thorkil foster this isn't the only story available about for Finn the mighty and the saga details his bloody plundering campaigns in Scotland and it's believed he also mounted raids on England for loot and plunder number six Erik Thorvald s'en Erik Ford Wilson better known as Erik the Red made his fame by founding the first Norse settlement in Greenland it should be noted that the Saugus outlined the other Vikings made the trip to Greenland before Erik but they were unsuccessful in creating a permanent settlement as a result Erik is often incorrectly remembered as the first Viking to find Greenland kind of like Christopher Columbus status nevertheless Eric did famously established the first continuous settlement and ironically he named it Greenland to make it more appealing than Iceland so why did he do this well because Erik was exiled from Iceland or three years for killing Isles the foul number five Rolo Rolo has perhaps the most famous lasting legacy of all the Viking warriors in this list but not because of his own direct actions but because of his descendants after raiding parts of France Roma made a deal with the venn king of West Frankia Charles the third also known as Charles the simple which resulted in his becoming the first ruler of Normandy in return for protection against future Viking raids at times he has even been referred to as the first Duke of Normandy and his descendants would later be known as the Normans ironically it was one of rolos descendants William the Conqueror who invaded England in 1066 and completely changed the course of England's history forever not only that but his bloodlines can be traced to many royal families across Europe in more recent popular depictions of the Viking Rollo has been named Ragnar's brother but in reality there isn't anything to suggest this is true sorry to the Viking TV show fans number four Ivar the boneless Ivar the boneless was a fearsome Viking warrior and supposedly another son of Ragnar who famously led the great heathen army against the kingdoms of East Anglia Essex Kent merica Northumbria Sussex and Wessex all in modern-day England with his brothers to revenge the killing of their father Ragnar the origin of aivars nickname the boneless is unknown but it is a widely debated topic with some suggestions that it could have been linked to genetic conditions or a mistranslation of another word but this August state that he was lacking bones due to a curse the sagas also betray him as cunning and an excellent military leader during his campaigns in modern-day England legend states that when Ivar captured his father's killer I Allah the then king of Northumbria he executed him using the blood eagle what's that you ask well although this method has been debated by historians the blood Eagle involves opening the ribcage from behind and then proceeding to pull out the lungs forming a wing like shape this gruesome image of an act if it was a real punishment would have been a horrible way to die number three Leif Eriksson like his father Eric the Red Leif Eriksson is remembered as a great Viking Explorer in a display of exceptional navigational and seafaring skills Leif is attributed with being the first known European to have discovered continental North America centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived naming it Vinland archeologists and historians still debate the exact place they landed but it's possibly either Canada or somewhere around the Gulf of st. Lawrence while we don't have any accounts detailing Leif meaning the native population they do outline that his brother had contact which ultimately resulted in hostilities and killings it's impossible to imagine what the natives would have thought of the Vikings and vice versa but in the end the were no permanent Viking settlements in Finland although it is possible journeys to Finland continued for centuries after we just don't have the evidence to prove it number 2 Harald Hardrada now this is one Viking warrior who really excelled as a military leader alive during the 11th century he went on extensive travels before dying while trying to invade England in the year 1066 a year that marked a fundamental change in England's history at just 15 years old harald fought alongside his brother olaf haraldson in an attempt to reclaim the norwegian throne but things didn't go as planned and his brother was killed forcing Harald into exile but this wasn't the end of Harald he spent time in Kiev on Rus before obtaining the rank of captain in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the wise after this he moved to Constantinople where he quickly rose among the ranks and became the commander of the Byzantine Varangian guard and fought in Asia Minor Sicily and the Mediterranean Sea throughout all of this he amassed great wealth which he later used to fund a campaign to reclaim the Norwegian throne Magnus the then king of Norway and Denmark didn't want to fight his uncle so they agreed to share the throne until Magnus abruptly died a year later and Harald renounced his claim to Denmark as the sole ruler of Norway Harald said about crushing all local and regional opposition in Norway but he wasn't done yet he was then invited to claim the English throne and in September 1066 he landed in northern England as the head of a mighty army unfortunately luck wasn't on his side and he was defeated in the Battle of Fulford many historians mark Harold's death as the end of the Viking Age and what a better person to end it with then someone who fought was exiled rose to high ranks reclaimed his own throne and finally died doing what all Viking warriors love doing invading number one Ragnar lothbrok although the only evidence we have that Ragnar was a real historical character comes from the sagas he is perhaps them most famous Viking warrior ever known according to legends he was a Viking ruler who made his name by raiding Frankia and anglo-saxon England during the 9th century the named Ragnar appears in Frankish texts then named him as the Viking leader of a large force that attacked Paris however historians are wary to connect this person to the legendary Ragnar thankfully it's not just modern historians who get confused by Ragnar's history even medieval writers struggle to get their heads around the conflicting stories and it's believed that the Christian Danish chronicler sacks of romantic as' may have consolidated the conflicting accounts into the reign of one King Ragnar so as you can see trying to pin down Ragnar's achievements is incredibly hard but if the sagas and legends are anything to go by he was a fearsome warrior who is now one of the most well known popular Viking warriors which is ironic because he's a semi mythological person who may not have ever been based on a real single person but possibly a mixture of numerous people and their deeds what do you think about Ragnar do you think he really existed don't forget to subscribe for more interesting videos and take care


Norse voyagers in Bjarmaland

A Norwegian map of the voyage of Ohthere
A Norwegian map of the voyage of Ohthere

According to the Voyage of Ohthere (c. 890 CE), the Norwegian merchant Ottar (Ohthere) reported to king Alfred the Great that he had sailed for 15 days along the northern coast and then southwards, finally arriving at a great river, probably the Northern Dvina.[1] At the estuary of the river dwelt the Beormas, who unlike the nomadic Sami peoples were sedentary, and their land was rich and populous. Ohthere did not know their language but he said that it resembled the language of the Sami people. The Bjarmians told Ohthere about their country and other countries that bordered it.

Later, several expeditions were undertaken from Norway to Bjarmaland. In 920, Eric Bloodaxe made a Viking expedition, as well as Harald II of Norway and Haakon Magnusson of Norway, in 1090.

The best known expedition was that of Tore Hund (Tore Dog) who together with some friends, arrived in Bjarmaland in 1026. They started to trade with the inhabitants and bought a great many pelts, whereupon they pretended to leave. Later, they made shore in secret, and plundered the burial site, where the Bjarmians had erected an idol of their god Jómali. This god had a bowl containing silver on his knees, and a valuable chain around his neck. Tore and his men managed to escape from the pursuing Bjarmians with their rich booty.


The name Bjarmaland appears in Old Norse literature, possibly referring to the area where Arkhangelsk is presently situated,[2] and where it was preceded by a Bjarmian settlement. The first appearance of the name occurs in an account of the travels of Ohthere of Hålogaland, which was written in about 890.[3]

The name Permians is already found in the oldest document of the Rus', the Nestor's Chronicle (1000–1100). The names of other Uralic tribes are also listed including some Samoyedic peoples as well as the Veps, Cheremis, Mordvin, and Chudes.[4]

The place-name Bjarmaland was also used later both by the German historian Adam of Bremen (11th century) and the Icelander Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241) in Bósa saga ok Herrauðs, reporting about its rivers flowing out to Gandvik. It is not clear if they reference the same Bjarmaland as was mentioned in the Voyage of Ohthere, however. The name of the Bjarmian god Jómali is so close to the word for "god" in most Finnic languages that Bjarmians were likely a Finnic group. In fact, languages belonging to other language groups have never been suggested within serious research.[1]

Olaus Magnus located Bjarmaland in the Kola Peninsula in his Carta marina et descriptio septentrionalium terrarum (1539), while Johannes Schefferus (1621–1679) identified it with Lappland.

Origin of the name: the Bjarmians

Bjarmians cannot be connected directly to any existing group of people living today, but it is likely that they were a separate group of Finnic speakers in the White Sea area.[1] Toponyms and loan words in dialects in northern Russia indicate that Finnic speaking populations used to live in the area. Also Russian chronicles mention groups of people in the area associated with Finno-Ugric languages.[1]

Accordingly, many historians assume the terms beorm and bjarm to derive from the Uralic word perm, which refers to "travelling merchants" and represents the Old Permic culture.[5] However, some linguists consider this theory to be speculative.[6]

Recent research on the Uralic substrate in northern Russian dialects suggests that several other Uralic groups besides the Permians, lived in Bjarmaland, assumed to have included the Viena Karelians, Sami and Kvens.[7] According to Helimski, the language spoken c. 1000 AD in the northern Archangel region, which he terms Lop', was closely related to but distinct from the Sami languages proper.[8] That would fit Ottar's account perfectly.

Bjarmian trade reached southeast to Bolghar, by the Volga River, where the Bjarmians also interacted with Scandinavians and Fennoscandians, who adventured southbound from the Baltic Sea area.[5]


The Northern Land (Apollinary Vasnetsov, 1899).
The Northern Land (Apollinary Vasnetsov, 1899).

Modern historians suppose that the wealth of the Bjarmians was due to their profitable trade along the Northern Dvina, the Kama River and the Volga to Bolghar and other trading settlements in the south. Along this route, silver coins and other merchandise were exchanged for pelts and walrus tusks brought by the Bjarmians. In fact, burial sites in modern Perm Krai are the richest source of Sasanian and Sogdian silverware from Iran.[9][10] Further north, the Bjarmians traded with the Sami.

It seems that the Scandinavians made some use of the Dvina trade route, in addition to the Volga trade route and Dnieper trade route.[citation needed] In 1217, two Norwegian traders arrived in Bjarmaland to buy pelts; one of the traders continued further south to pass to Russia in order to arrive in the Holy Land, where he intended to take part in the Crusades. The second trader who remained was killed by the Bjarmians. This caused Norwegian officials to undertake a campaign of retribution into Bjarmaland which they pillaged in 1222.[citation needed]

The 13th century seems to have seen the decline of the Bjarmians, who became tributaries of the Novgorod Republic. While many Slavs fled the Mongol invasion northward, to Beloozero and Bjarmaland, the displaced Bjarmians sought refuge in Norway, where they were given land around the Malangen fjord by Haakon IV of Norway in 1240. More important for the decline was probably that, with the onset of the Crusades, the trade routes had found a more westerly orientation or shifted considerably to the south.[citation needed]

When the Novgorodians founded Velikiy Ustiug, in the beginning of the 13th century, the Bjarmians had a serious competitor for the trade. More and more Pomors arrived in the area during the 14th and 15th centuries, which led to the final subjugation and assimilation of the Bjarmians by the Slavs.

Later use

The collaborationist Quisling regime planned to build Norwegian colonies in Northern Russia, following a future success of Operation Barbarossa, and which were to be named Bjarmaland; but these plans never came to be.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Joonas Ahola; Frog; Clive Tolley, eds. (2014). Fibula, Fabula, Fact – The Viking Age in Finland. Vantaa: Studia Fennica. pp. 195–212. ISBN 978-952-222-603-7.
  2. ^ "Mythical Lands of Russia, Part 2: Bjarmia". Russia-InfoCentre ( Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  3. ^ Ohthere's voyage to Bjarmaland. Original text and its English translation.
  4. ^ Angela Marcantonio: The Uralic Language Family: Facts, Myths and Statistics. Wiley, Hoboken/NJ 2002, p. 21 ff. ISBN 0-631-23170-6
  5. ^ a b Steinsland and Meulengracht 1998: 162.
  6. ^ Janne Saarikivi: Substrata Uralica. Studies in Finno-Ugric substrate in northern Russian dialects. Doctoral dissertation. Tartu 2006: 28 (online text)
  7. ^ Saarikivi 2006: 294–295.
  8. ^ Helimski, Eugene (2006). "The "Northwestern" group of Finno-Ugric languages and its heritage in the place names and substratum vocabulary of the Russian North". In Nuorluoto, Juhani. The Slavicization of the Russian North (Slavica Helsingiensia 27) (PDF). Helsinki: Department of Slavonic and Baltic Languages and Literatures. pp. 109–127. ISBN 978-952-10-2852-6.
  9. ^ "Stroganoff - collectors of antiquities in Perm". ARTinvestment.RU. 2010-11-28.
  10. ^ Svetlana Kameneva. "Enigmatic relationship of Ancient Ural Culture And Sassanid dynasty" (PDF). Iran Zamin. Vancouver: The Ancient Iranian Cultural & Religious Research & Development Center. 1 (3): 2–4.
  11. ^ Norway's Nazi Collaborators Sought Russia Colonies. The Associated Press. Oslo, April 9, 2010 (article on Fox News).


Logo för Nordisk familjeboks uggleupplaga.png This article contains content from the Owl Edition of Nordisk familjebok, a Swedish encyclopedia published between 1904 and 1926, now in the public domain.

  • Steinsland, G. & Meulengracht Sørensen, P. (1998): Människor och makter i vikingarnas värld. ISBN 91-7324-591-7
  • Тиандер К.Ф. Поездки скандинавов в Белое море. [Voyages of the Norsemen to the White Sea]. Saint Petersburg, 1906.
This page was last edited on 8 December 2018, at 15:39
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