Roman Legion vs Vikings: who would win?

Your typical Viking shield.

Your typical Viking shield. Source: Wikimedia

Our last article about who would win in a battle between a Roman Legion and a Greek Phalanx has been such a success that we’ve decided to continue the series. This piece is about who would hypothetically win in a fight between a Roman legion and a Viking formation.


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Strategy

In a way, both the Romans and the Vikings were pillagers and plunderers. However, the way they went about it were quite distinct. For instance, the Vikings placed a lot of reliance on spiritual guidance of their gods, whereas the Romans spent extensive time developing military strategies that have proven to be quite successful.

Although both parties would use a technique known today as “The Shield Wall”, which served as an excellent way to protect a formation from being penetrated by the enemy, the Roman legions preferred to use it in smaller units to maneuver better. This would’ve given them an advantage over the Vikings on land. The fact that the Vikings preferred to charge into battle fearlessly with little planning whereas the Roman legions were professionals also speaks in favour of the latter.

However, naval history paints quite a different picture. Some historians believe that Vikings were the first “pirates”. Indeed, their sailing skills were well-developed and their longships could travel very long distances in shallow, as well as deep, waters. The ships were also very speedy for its time and could maneuver a lot better than the Roman ships. The Romans didn’t really place a lot of stock in the navy – they did have a fleet of sorts but they mostly relied on the ram in order to sink or immobilize an enemy ship.

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