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Vikings vs. Pirates: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 9, 2024
Vikings were Norse seafarers known for exploring, trading, and settling across Europe from the late 8th to early 11th centuries, whereas pirates are sea robbers who attack ships and coastal areas for plunder, historically and in modern times.
Vikings vs. Pirates

Key Differences

Vikings were primarily active from the late 8th to the early 11th centuries, originating from Scandinavia. They are known for their explorations, raids, and settlements across Europe and beyond. Pirates, conversely, have been present throughout history, from ancient times to the modern era, without a specific regional origin. They are known for their acts of robbery and criminal violence at sea.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
The primary goal of the Vikings was to explore, trade, raid, and settle new lands. Their activities included farming, trading, and establishing new communities. Pirates, however, were primarily motivated by the pursuit of wealth through the plundering of ships and coastal settlements, engaging in acts of robbery and violence.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Viking ships, known as longships, were renowned for their speed, agility, and ability to navigate both open seas and shallow rivers. They were crucial to Vikings' success as explorers and raiders. Pirate ships varied widely depending on the era and location but were often adapted or stolen merchant vessels, modified for speed and armed conflict.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Vikings left a significant cultural and genetic impact on the regions they explored and settled, including parts of Britain, Ireland, and Russia. Their legacy is evident in historical records, language, and genetics. Pirates, while also leaving a cultural impact, are often romanticized in popular culture, depicted as lawless adventurers, which sometimes obscures the brutality of their actions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Viking society was composed of various classes, including farmers, traders, warriors, and chieftains, with a rich mythological and cultural heritage. Pirate society was less structured, often operating outside societal norms, with crews bound by a shared pursuit of profit and a code of conduct unique to each crew.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Time Period

Late 8th to early 11th centuries
Ancient times to modern era
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Jan 09, 2024

Primary Goals

Exploration, trade, raiding, settling
Plundering for wealth, robbery at sea
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Ships

Longships for open sea and rivers
Adapted or stolen merchant vessels
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Cultural Impact

Significant historical, cultural, and genetic influence
Cultural romanticization and historical impact
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Societal Structure

Structured society with diverse roles
Loosely organized, often operating outside societal norms
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Vikings and Pirates Definitions

Vikings

Seafarers known for raiding and settling in Europe.
Vikings established settlements in Greenland and Iceland.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Pirates

Individuals who engage in robbery at sea.
Pirates were feared along the Spanish Main.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Vikings

Norse explorers, traders, and warriors from Scandinavia.
The Vikings traveled as far as North America and the Middle East.
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Dec 18, 2023

Pirates

Outlaws living outside the law on the high seas.
Pirates often lived by their own code of conduct.
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Dec 18, 2023

Vikings

Medieval Scandinavians renowned for their shipbuilding.
Viking longships were advanced for their time.
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Dec 18, 2023
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Pirates

Mariners known for their lawlessness and violence.
Pirates terrorized the Mediterranean in ancient times.
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Dec 18, 2023

Vikings

Raiders and traders of the 8th to 11th centuries.
The Vikings left a lasting impact on England and France.
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Dec 18, 2023

Pirates

Sea robbers attacking ships for plunder.
The Caribbean was a notorious hotspot for pirates in the 17th century.
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Dec 18, 2023

Vikings

A people with a rich mythological and cultural heritage.
Viking legends are a key part of Norse mythology.
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Dec 18, 2023

Pirates

Characters often romanticized in folklore and media.
Pirates are a popular theme in movies and books.
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Dec 18, 2023

Vikings

One of a seafaring Scandinavian people who raided the coasts of northern and western Europe from the eighth through the tenth century.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pirates

One who commits or practices piracy at sea.
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Dec 13, 2023

Vikings

A Scandinavian.
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Pirates

One who makes use of or reproduces the work of another without authorization.
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Dec 13, 2023

Vikings

Plural of viking
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Dec 13, 2023

Pirates

One who illegally intercepts or uses radio or television signals, especially one who operates an illegal television or radio station.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pirates

To attack and rob (a ship at sea).
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Pirates

To take (something) by piracy.
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Pirates

To make use of or reproduce (another's work) without authorization.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pirates

To act as a pirate; practice piracy.
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Dec 13, 2023

Pirates

Plural of pirate
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What defines a pirate?

Someone who engages in robbery and violence at sea.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Who were the Vikings?

Norse seafarers known for exploration, trade, and raiding.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What were Viking ships like?

Longships, known for their speed, agility, and versatility.
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Jan 09, 2024

How did pirates acquire their ships?

Often by modifying captured merchant vessels.
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Jan 09, 2024

When did Vikings exist?

Primarily from the late 8th to the early 11th centuries.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Are pirates still active today?

Yes, modern piracy exists, particularly in certain high-risk areas.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What regions did Vikings explore?

Vikings explored Europe, the North Atlantic, and parts of Asia.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What's the cultural image of pirates?

Often romanticized as adventurous outlaws in popular media.
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Jan 09, 2024

Did Vikings have a written language?

Yes, they used runes for inscriptions.
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Jan 09, 2024

What weapons did pirates use?

Swords, pistols, and cannons were common.
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Jan 09, 2024

How accurate are Viking helmets in popular media?

Horned helmets are a myth; real Viking helmets were hornless.
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Jan 09, 2024

What is the legacy of Vikings?

They left a cultural and genetic impact across many regions.
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Jan 09, 2024

What is the Golden Age of Piracy?

A period, typically the 17th to early 18th centuries, when piracy was rampant, especially in the Caribbean.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What is a pirate's code?

A set of rules or guidelines unique to each pirate crew.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Did Vikings interact with other cultures?

Yes, through trade, exploration, and sometimes conflict.
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Jan 09, 2024

Were there female Vikings?

Yes, though primarily in domestic and sometimes in warrior roles.
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Jan 09, 2024

Are there famous female pirates?

Yes, such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What ended the Golden Age of Piracy?

Increased naval patrols and anti-piracy laws in the 18th century.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Were Vikings considered pirates?

They were raiders and traders but differed from pirates in their societal structure and broader goals.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What were common pirate flags?

Black flags with symbols like skulls and crossbones.
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Jan 09, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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