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On This Day… Vikings Attack Paris!

Written by: George Chittenden : 13 Jun 2019

It was on this day, 25th November, back in 885 when Vikings lay siege to Paris. Danish Vikings sailed to West Francia in 885, but Charles the Fat, King of West Francia refused to bribe them. Angry and determined to make their voyage profitable the Vikings led hundreds of ships, and tens of thousands of men up the River Seine, reaching Paris on November the 25th. They attacked the city walls with a variety of siege engines but failed to break through.

An image from the popular TV show Vikings

An image from the popular TV show Vikings

The French had prepared by erecting two towers to guard each bridge, and they repulsed each Viking assault on the towers with a burning, sticky mixture of hot wax and pitch. The Vikings besieged the city, attacking the northeast tower with catapults, battering rams, and other war machines.

They set alight three ships to burn down the wooden bridge, weakening it enough for it to be swept away by heavy rains in February 886. Eventually the tower was captured, but by then most of the Vikings had moved on to pillage the surrounding countryside. However much to the frustration of the Parisians, the King, promised them a payment of 257 kg of silver!

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