Beginning with the attack on Lindisfarne Monastery, England, in 793, small bands of Scandinavian warriors made violent incursions into European towns and religious centers. The historical accounts of their daring raids on these bastions of Northern European culture are undeniable, although the frightened monks likely exaggerated and dramatized the details of the events.
But Viking pillaging of places such as Lindisfarne were not brought on by a love of violence, as popularly assumed. Rather, the intense political rivalry between Viking chieftains demanded the constant influx of precious goods, primarily from raids but also from trade. Successful leaders then gave these items to their followers in exchange for loyalty.