During the golden Viking Age Berzerkers were fierce warriors who fought without restraint in battle. A Berzeker could be identified by the serkr, a shirt or coat, made from the pelt of a bear (ber). They fought in frenzied states of fury that were often worked up by acts against their honor or, as some historians believe, by certain foods.
The Ulfhesnar are the lupine equalvient to the Berzerkers, who wore a wolf’s pelt instead of a bear’s in battle (as seen in the second image).
Beowulf is thought to have been a Bezerker because of the bear pelt he wares during his battles in the epic.
Skald’s, or poets such as Snorri Sturluson, describes Berzerkers as high warrior heroes in his Ynglinga Saga. circa 1225.
However throughout much of the early sagas, Berzerkers were portrayed as bullies who raided and often defamed many of their own countrymen. Heroes, like the warrior Egil in Egil’s Saga, won fame by defeating such tormentors. While some noble warrior kings, as Hrolfr Kraki, used Berzerkers as personal warriors of their territories.
In art and in the Sagas, Berzerkers are often identified by the biting down of one’s shield. The act of biting into the shield was a display of unreasonable fury and anger of raving madness.
om nom nom!
CORRECTION: The name of the Hendrix song should be “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” There’s no “Baby.” The name of the Dylan song, contrary to popular belief, really is “Tangled up in Blue,” not “Blues.” Just…just one Blue. I realize this is not super important.
But it’s super important.
Today is the 559th anniversary of the traditional date for the printing of the Bible by Johannes Gutenberg on his movable-type printing press. He had printed a number of materials before the Bible (including his 31-line Indulgence, about which, to be frank, not much is known), and of course it is not at all clear exactly when the Bibles were printed or how long each one took to print, and the fact that there were anywhere from 160 to 185 copies originally printed using his new 42-line printing process makes an exact date of printing a hair close to apocryphal, but everyone loves a good anniversary (including, it should be noted, the USPS—though why they chose 1452 as the date to commemorate is puzzling when the earliest dates for Gutenberg’s Bible are more along the lines of 1454 or 1455). Forty-eight copies (or substantial remnants of copies) are known still to exist, one of which was in the possession of an eccentric old lady in this stamp enthusiast’s mater’s hometown in the 1950s. The last time a complete Gutenberg Bible changed hands was in 1978 for $2.2 million, so if you do happen to find one about the house, or even a single leaf from one….well, think how fortunate you are to hold a piece of the original Information Explosion in your mitts.
Issued on: May 5, 1954
From: Bonn, West Germany
Issued on: February 17, 2000
From: Berlin, Germany
Issued on: March 20, 1997
From: Tirana, Albania
Issued on: May 15, 1948
From: Budapest, Hungary
Issued on: September 30, 1952
From: Washington, DC