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Vikings values of bravery, honor and loyalty. Source: (Ben By AdobeStock)

Discovering the Drengr Code: The Truth About Viking Ethics

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Many cultures throughout history have had their own unspoken societal rules, and the Vikings are no exception. The Drengr Code was a code of ethics and principles that was believed to have been followed by the Vikings, the seafaring people from Scandinavia who were active from the 8th to the 11th centuries. 

This code emphasized the virtues of bravery, loyalty, and honor, and encouraged Vikings to live a life of courage and adventure. Though the Drengr Code has been largely passed down through the centuries by word of mouth, some ancient texts provide invaluable insight into the very morals the Vikings held near and dear to their heart. 

Drengrs, the Most Legendary Viking Warriors

So where did the term “drengr” come from? Drengr was a term used by the Vikings to describe a warrior of honor and bravery. Drengrs were a vital part of Viking culture and were highly esteemed in their community. According to Viking folklore, drengrs were known for their bravery, strength, and loyalty, and lived according to a strict code of ethics and values held by the Vikings.

This code of ethics was said to be based on the principles of courage, honor, and respect, and ultimately defined what it meant to be a true warrior amongst the Vikings. Within Viking society, those considered drengrs were some of the most highly esteemed and respected individuals in the community. While many of the exact details of the Drengr Code have not been well documented over time, the concept of the drengr is still remembered and celebrated in modern times as a symbol of the Viking spirit and way of life.

Old Norse Sagas: A Window into the Drengr Code

The little recorded information we have about the "drengr code" of Vikings comes primarily from Old Norse literature and sagas, written in Iceland during the 13th and 14th centuries. These ancient texts give us a glimpse of the more noble values of Viking warriors and their code of conduct, including bravery, loyalty, and generosity. 

The story of Sigurd in the Saga of the Volsungs. He lies with a bow on his back. (Public Domain)

The story of Sigurd in the Saga of the Volsungs. He lies with a bow on his back. (Public Domain)

Some of the most well-known sagas that mention the Drengr Code are "The Saga of the Ynglings," "The Saga of the Poets," and "The Saga of the Volsungs." These epic tales not only shed light on the Drengr Code but also offer a window into the social, cultural, and moral values of the Viking society. In addition to literary sources, archaeological evidence such as burial sites and artifacts can also give us some information about the Drengr Code. The grave goods found in Viking warrior burials, for example, have uncovered some of the weapons, clothing, and other possessions that symbolized the elite status of the drengr and warrior classes.

Seven Viking Age swords on display in Bergen Museum Arild Nybo from Forde Norway. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Seven Viking Age swords on display in Bergen Museum Arild Nybo from Forde Norway. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

While the information we have about the drengr Code is limited and the accuracy of the sagas is debated among scholars, these sources still provide captivating insights into the beliefs and values of the Viking society.

Viking Honor and Hospitality: The Drengr Code in Action

According to the ancient Drengr Code, bravery was not just a virtue but a duty in battle, and loyalty to friends, family, and community was of utmost importance. The code also celebrated hospitality, generosity, and the power of one's word and reputation, elevating the importance of honor and dignity above all else. 

The Drengr Code encouraged Vikings to be heroes in their own right, pursuing bravery and defending their loved ones with pride. It was passed down through oral tradition, shaping the culture and values of the Viking people and serving as a moral compass for their actions. Though there is little written record of the Drengr Code, generations that have passed it down orally have provided clearer context around it.

The code was so influential that it became a central part of Viking society, helping to maintain order and stability and contributing to the development of their warrior ethos. Vikings were judged on their behavior using this code, and those that did not fit the standard were treated as such. The impact of the Drengr Code on Viking society was significant, as it helped to shape the culture and values of the Vikings, and it influenced the actions and behavior of individual Vikings and the larger society. The code also contributed to the development of the Viking warrior ethos, and it helped to create a sense of identity and unity among the Viking people.

Despite its historical significance, the Drengr Code is largely unknown outside of academic circles and has been largely overshadowed by pop culture’s depictions of the Vikings as ruthless marauders. Nevertheless, the code remains an important part of Viking history and culture and continues to be studied and revered by those who are interested in this fascinating period of human history.

The Lost Secrets of the Drengr Code: To Be Discovered

The Drengr Code is a fascinating part of history that gives us a closer glimpse at the truth behind Viking communities. With a heavy focus on bravery, honor, loyalty, generosity, and hospitality, the ancient code paints a clearer picture of Viking values and how they came together as a people. It also contributed to the development of their warrior ethos, as it encouraged Vikings to live a life of courage and adventure. 

Though there is little known about the Drengr Code currently, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more evidence of it hiding out there, waiting to be discovered by curious eyes. With any luck, archaeologists and researchers will continue to uncover more about this famous code so we can continue to learn more about the fascinating life of the Vikings.

Top image: Vikings values of bravery, honor and loyalty. Source: (Ben By AdobeStock)

By Lex Leigh


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Pete Wagner's picture

Could be another Loki trick.  Maybe best to stay home in your quiet, peaceful village, with your loved ones, living forever, like Odin, ...until they killed him.

Nobody gets paid to tell the truth.

Lex Leigh's picture


Lex Leigh is a former educator with several years of writing experience under her belt. She earned her BS in Microbiology with a minor in Psychology. Soon after this, she earned her MS in Education and worked as a secondary... Read More

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