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Spartan Warrior versus the Viking Warrior.

Updated on March 14, 2013

These Two ancient Warrior's from European History are in my opinion unmatched in ferocity and legend. I rate them both highly and admire their ability, weapons, tactics and achievements. Both Warrior's were hugely influential in changing the course of European and World History. The deeds of these Warriors has been put into spoken, lyrical and written word and has been celebrated through the years. For cultures that have been effectively extinct for generations, they are still able to capture the imagination and inspire different emotions to people in the Modern Age.

After my Deadliest Warrior inspired "Spartan Warrior versus Roman Legionnaire " comparison, I thought it was about time I pitted my two personal favourite Warrior's against each other. I will compare them in a similar way to the last comparison that I did and I would guess that the result will be pretty close. The Spartan civilization was extinct long before the Norse Viking's existed, so there will be a thousand year technological gap to factor into the result.

Drawing of a Spartan Warrior.
Drawing of a Spartan Warrior. | Source

Simularities of the Combatant's

Both the Viking and Spartan Warrior's were forged in a Warrior culture and battle defined their destinies. Defeat was acceptable as long as the Warrior was able to face his God's with his Sword in hand and honour in tact. It was better to die in battle than to survive the battle injured and succumb to injury later, both Warrior's would not want to be a burden to their people. Both culture's would abandon the newborn's who would not fit the required criteria to become self sufficent member's of the culture.

The Viking's or Spartan's who were not worthy of been the elite Warrior's or hero's their society craved where often be employed as Weapon smith's and other trade's essential to military success.

The Five Spartan Weapon's

  1. Xiphos - Short Sword two edged sword.
  2. Bronze Shield called the "Aspis"
  3. Javelin
  4. Dory Spear - 9ft long spear
  5. Kopis - A single edged curved sword

The Spartans

The Spartan's where a people of Ancient Greece who were militaristic and elitist in their approach to much of their way of life. Having conquered a neighbouring state, they used the defeated peoples as a servant class to their own cause. The Spartan military was taken from the elite of society and the recruits were brutalized into becoming well drilled and fearless Warrior's. The new recruits were taken from their families at a young age and went through a grueling training regime, so they might be judged worthy enough to wear the Scarlet Red of the Elite Warrior's.

A Viking Seax
A Viking Seax

The Five Viking Weapon's

  1. Langseax- Single edged blade, the size or a Sword
  2. Lindenwood Shield
  3. Linkmail - Steel links formed into a mail shirt
  4. War Axe - Brutal Steel head on a Six foot shaft
  5. Seax - A shorter single edged blade

The Viking's

Fearsome and wild the Viking's spread through Dark Age Europe, raiding foreign lands and honouring their Heathen Gods. The Huscarl class were the Elite of the Viking Age, and they were rewarded with Silver, Weapons and land by their War Leader. From the age of Eight the children of the Scandinavian's were taught to use their blade, the climate in the Northern lands was brutal and only the strong survived.

Owing to a lack of living space and farming lands the younger sons of the Scandinavian people had few choice's. They either became soldiers, Christian Monk's or went away from Viking shore's to earn their fortune.

Kopis versus Langseax

The Kopis is a long single bladed weapon, which although not overly useful in the Spartan line formation fighting. The Spartan Warrior's were able to use the longer blade weapon in formation, but it was not as effective as the Xiphos for the quick thrusting, hacking and stabbing of the battle line. The Kopis had a curve to it's blade which would have been ideal for a Cavalry weapon, in a one on one battle the Kopis would have given the Spartan Warrior a greater range than the Xiphos.

Rating 8.5/10.

The Langseax was a weapon used by the Viking's before they embraced the Germanic Broadsword weapon's in the early Eighth Century. The Langseax was a versatile tool for use in battle and around the homestead. The single edged blade would usually lend itself to been a hacking and slashing weapon. Due to its broken back profile and savage point, it was a good weapon for causing blunt force trauma, loss of limbs and severe puncture wounds to the torso. The Langseax was a weapon made from Steel, but due to a shortage of the raw materials in Scandinavia was not the Viking's primary weapon.

Rating 9/10.

In a One versus One fight, who would win?

See results
Spartan Warriors
Spartan Warriors

Linkmail versus Javelin

The Huscarl's of the Viking Age, had the best weapon's that the time period could provide. The Viking Warrior's tied up their wealth in weaponry and defensive armour. Linkmail had existed in the Roman period, and many Viking's bought Linkmail from the weapon's traders of Central Europe. The Linkmail offered a good deal of protection when the link's were hit with a slashing blow from a Sword, but could be penetrated by thrusts throw the linkage. The link's were made of Steel and it took thousand's of them to make one armoured vest.

Rating 9/10.

The Javelin had been used for thousand's of years, and the Viking's also had it as part of their arsenal. The majority of the weapon's length is made of wood, with only the tip requiring any expensive raw material or craftsmanship. The Spartan's used the Javelin in it's close order fighting to great effect, the Spartan used a shorter length Javelin that most other Warrior's as they had to negotiate the giant Aspros shield. The Javelin could also be thrown into an on coming enemy, causing an injury that removed the opponent from the battlefield.

Rating 8/10.

Lindenwood Shield versus Bronze Shield

The large circular Viking Shield's were made from LIndenwood which is a member of the Lime tree family. They were boarded together with a Steel Shield boss in the centre to protect the hand of the wielder. The Shield's were covered in a Hessian or hide material, the outside of the shield would have been edged with rawhide. Both the Viking's and Spartan Warrior's would have used the Shield as an offensive weapon as well as a defensive weapon.

Rating 7.5/10.

The Spartan Heavy shield or "Aspis" as it was called was a large circular shield which was designed to protect the wielder and lock into a defensive wall with other Spartan shields. The wooden frame was then covered in a Bronze exterior to protect the wood. The shields were robust and able to take a lot of damage, when combined with other shields they protected the main body of the Spartan fighter's. The Shield was often used to ram and shove enemies in battle, at the very least the strikes from the shield would have knocked opponent's off balance.

Rating 9.5/10.

Seax versus Xiphos

The Seax was a Steel single edged Knife used by the Viking's in everyday life and in the battlefield, every Viking no matter gender or station had a Seax. The everyday use for this tool was skinning and butchering animals, carving wood and numerous other domestic chores. On the battlefield historical sources tell of it's use to dispatch injured enemies, or even put their own mortally wounded Warrior's out of their misery. The Viking's used the weapon in battle when in a One versus One encounter or when they fought with Two weapons. It lacked the long range of a Sword, but it was a quick hidden weapon that could surprise an unaware opponent.

Rating 8.0/10

The Xiphos short Sword was a weapon often underrated by the rest of the known world, in the hand's of the Spartan's it was an instrument of pain and death. The hardened Iron blade was capable of removing limbs and opening up the belly of their enemy. The Sword was twin edged and constructed in a way that made the weapon an extension of the Warrior. The Sword was used in the Spartan Shield wall as a thrusting and jabbing weapon, once the Spear's and Javelin's where used up or lost.

Rating 9.5/10

War Axe versus Dory Spear

The Viking War Axe is a weapon that would install fear into any enemy with it's great arc of attack and intense power. A Viking with the Axe could hold back multiple enemies and decimate the Shield walls of many culture's. Unfortunately the Viking would soon tire in battle due to the amount of strength needed to swing the weapon. The War Axe or Great Axe was a heavy Steel axe head, sat on top of a sturdy wooden shaft.

Rating 7.0/10.

The Dory Spear was usually a Bronze tipped head fixed on to a 9 ft wooden shaft. It is often described as been used in One hand while the Spartan used his other hand to hold the shield. The Spear was perfect for keeping an enemy at a distance from the shield wall, but would have lost effectiveness after the Spartan's broke their defensive formation. If the Viking's attacked a Spartan Shield wall they would have used the same tactics they did when fighting the similar Anglo-Saxon formations. They would have used their heavy shields to force the spears downwards, once lowered the Viking's would either break off the spear heads or smash the Spear's length,

Rating 7.5/10.

In a pitched battle, which side would win?

See results

The Verdict

Both Warrior's were breed to fight from a young age and they championed the best their society had to offer. The way a Warrior died was more important than how the battle ended to the individual fighter, both culture's put great stock in the legend of their greatest heroes.

When I collated my results I came up with these scores...

Spartan Warrior received a total of... 43/50.

Viking Huscarl received a total of... 40.5/50.

I had to be overly critical with the Viking Age technology when assessing the Warrior versus Warrior. The Spartan's were more drilled as a fighting force than the Viking Huscarl's, as a unit the Spartan's would have fought better against an organised Viking force. If it came to a one on one fight, the Viking Warrior would have beaten the Spartan Warrior as his weaponry was superior in a stand up contest.

If you have any comment's or counter point's please comment below...


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 3 years ago from England

      Thank you they are valid points that you have raised. I appreciate your addition to the hub.

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      Enghis 3 years ago

      The bearded axe should be taken into account as well. The beard of the axe was made specifically to hook onto a shield and wrench it out of the wielder's hand. A spartan relies heavily on his shield, and doesn't fight anywhere nearly as effective without it.

    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 3 years ago from England

      Good question Harald, I tried to keep the bout more of a one on one short range battle. The Viking's did use the Bow as a weapon to open the conflict, usually a few volleys were fired before they switched to their primary weapon. It could be argued that the large Spartan shield could nullify the majority of the opponents arrows quite effectively, especially in the early Viking Age.

      Thanks for the comment.

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      Harald Harade 3 years ago

      The vikings used bow as a long range weapon?why isn't that taken into it.