What Was The Average Life Expectancy Of A Viking

What was the average life expectancy of a Viking? The average lifespan of a Viking

What was the average life expectancy of a Viking? Known throughout the world as famous warriors and explorers, Vikings weren’t the safest group in the early ages of humanity.

Many died as a result of battles and sieges on other lands, while others drowned, caught dangerous diseases, or simply passed away as a result of their harsh environment.

Though Vikings often accomplished a great deal during their lives, the average lifespan of a Viking was much lower than the modern Scandinavian.

Many Vikings died long before they had an opportunity to see their children marry, and three generations in a single family was extremely rare.

While the information we have about Viking life expectancy is limited, due to the restricted records available into Viking culture, archeological study has revealed some interesting facts.

Today, we’re going to explore the average life expectancy of a Viking, and what it meant to these people.

What was the average life expectancy of a Viking?

The Viking age wasn’t an easy time. Vikings explored the seas and achieved incredible conquests during the years of 793 AD to 1066 AD, long before we had the medicines and healthy diets which contribute to our longevity today.

As such, like many people in the middle ages, the Vikings had a somewhat limited life expectancy.

So, what was the average life expectancy of a Viking?

In general, most Vikings lived to be between 35 and 50 years of age. This corresponds with the typical life expectancy of many people in the middle ages, which typically ranged between 33 and 55 years of age. Notably, however, the average lifespan of a Viking at birth was much lower.

When a child was born into Viking culture, most parents didn’t expect them to live more than 20 years. Indeed, children and mothers were often lucky to survive childbirth, as birthing practices were often extremely dangerous during the middle ages.

According to some reports, around half of the children who survived birth only lived to be 7 years old.

Children under the age 15 made up around half of the population. Among those who did reach the age of 20, only about half reached the age of 50, with only about 15% of the total population living to the age of 50 or older.

Even wealthy Vikings weren’t any more likely to out-live the commonfolk.

What Was The Average Life Expectancy Of A Viking

How the average life expectancy of a Viking altered lifestyles

As Vikings weren’t expected to live nearly as long as most modern people today, they often matured and took their role in society much faster than we do in the current world. 

Viking women were commonly married quite young, with many marriages taking place at the age of 12. 

By the age of 20, virtually all men and women would already be married. 

Typically, marriage for a Viking woman wasn’t a romantic affair, but a business arrangement between two families. Most of the time, marriages were a way of building alliances between families, and ensuring wealth would be distributed towards the next generation. 

However, the feelings of a man and women were often considered, and men would commonly court their females

A typical woman in Viking culture would also start having children very young. Most women had around 7 children during her lifetime, with very little break in between pregnancies. During pregnancy, women were often required to keep working, which did lead to some lost pregnancies. 

Though children were excused from battles in most Viking communities, by the time a boy turned 16, he was often expected to take on the role of an adult in the society. Certain roles and tasks didn’t require children to be nearly as old. 

Indeed, most Viking children were expected to be able to run a household by the age of 12. 

Viking children didn’t go to a “school”, but boys were taught by their fathers how to contribute to society. Similarly, women worked alongside mothers and aunts, learning how to take care of animals, make clothing, and cook. 

Viking diseases and life expectancy

One of the primary reasons the answer to the question “what was the average life expectancy of a Viking” is so low, is these individuals were often exposed to various diseases. 

According to archeologists researching the skeletal remains of Vikings, many struggled with arthritis of the back, hands and knees, alongside common tooth problems

Scientists also believe Vikings were regularly subject to illnesses like pneumonia, as a result of the cold temperatures of the Scandinavian region. Additionally, lack of antibiotics meant wounds often became infected, causing many deaths throughout the middle ages. 

The living conditions were also very different for people living in the Viking age. Many families kept animals inside of their houses, which lead to an increased risk of infection and contamination. 

Additionally, a Danish study found many Vikings and their animals were plagued by parasites and intestinal worms, which caused them to waste away with time. 

What Was The Average Life Expectancy Of A Viking

What affected Viking life expectancy?

Aside from illness, there are many other factors which may have affected the average lifespan of a Viking. For instance, as hunters and foragers, Vikings may have starved to death if they were unable to find the right sources of food. 

Additionally, many Vikings died during travel to other regions, as long journeys by boat and horse could be extremely perilous. 

Perhaps the most significant issue influencing how long Vikings lived, was how common it was for this community to enter into battles. There are countless tales of epic battles with the Vikings over the years, as the community attempted to spread across new countries and civilizations. 

While some Vikings may have recovered from the wounds they incurred in battle, most wouldn’t last long after being grievously injured. Most cuts inflicted by swords and daggers would cause festering infections and fevers which eventually killed their victim. 

How long did Vikings live? The average lifespan of a Viking

It’s hard to say for certain how long the average lifespan of a Viking was, as archeologists are still discovering skeletons and historical relics to piece together the incredible history of the community. 

However, while most experts suggest Vikings could have lived to the age of 50 or above, the majority were likely to die long before they reached their fifth decade. 

The dangerous environment in which the Vikings lived made it difficult to enjoy a long and healthy life. Even if Vikings weren’t struck down during battle, they could easily fall victim to the parasites in the meat they ate, or die as a result of a particularly harsh winter in the Scandinavian region.

Female Vikings were under just as much threat of death as their male counterparts. They could easily fall victim to disease, and many died during childbirth, without access to the right medical care. 

Additionally, females could often get caught up in wars and battles too. 

Even children were known for getting into fights with lethal results. The famous Helgi and Bergr were only 12 and 10 years old when they avenged their father’s death and killed Þorkell Súrsson, according to the Gisla Saga. 

What Was The Average Life Expectancy Of A Viking

Understanding the average lifespan of a Viking

The answer to “what was the average life expectancy of a Viking” is complicated. On average, most Vikings could live to an age between 35 and 50. However, many Vikings wouldn’t make it to this age. 

The average lifespan of a Viking was affected by numerous external factors, from the battles they fought, to the environments they had to live in. 

Despite a relatively short lifespan, Vikings were able to fit a lot of activity into their years. Many fought in numerous battles, married a partner, and even had a number of children before passing away. 

Even if Vikings didn’t live very long, many managed to accomplish a lot. 

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