Before the Vikings, Scandinavia was inhabited by various Germanic tribes, known as the Norsemen. These Norsemen lived in small, isolated communities, largely dependent on farming, fishing, and hunting for sustenance. Their culture was defined by their pagan beliefs, which included a pantheon of gods and goddesses, as well as a strong sense of kinship and loyalty to their families and clans. The Norsemen were also skilled seafarers, venturing out on raiding and trading expeditions across the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions, establishing trading networks that extended as far as the Mediterranean Sea and the Byzantine Empire. These early Norsemen laid the foundation for the later Viking Age, which would see them become one of the most formidable seafaring and raiding forces in European history.
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