Vikings and Pirates: What are The Differences?

Vikings and Pirates

For long, the Vikings and the pirates have become the villains in many movies. This influences our way of thinking which is these folks were bloodthirsty and greedy for gold. Truth was, they were. Truth also was, they were not 100% similar to what depicted on the movies. Many people assume that the Vikings were actually pirates. But basically, they were not the same. Below are some differences between the Vikings and pirates.

The Vikings reached their glory around 9th century while pirates around 18th century. A period of nearly 1000 years changed humanity a lot, so did it change the Vikings and pirates. It includes technology, numbers, and the physiological warfare.

Vikings and pirates: Technology

Technology was the first to come to mind when we compare these two. The similarity between them was they spend much of their time at sea. Ocean was the most important journey in their life. Without voyages, both pirates and Vikings could not have such reputation. Viking ships were quite swift, fast, small, and could carry about 50 to 70 armed warriors. 70 was a very big number though.

Oseberg the most famous and beautiful Viking ship excavated

On the other hand, the pirates commonly used sloops and they were also fast. Pirate ships could hold about 70 or more pirates. However, most of the pirates ships were equipped with cannons and swivel guns. Pirate ships would fire their enemies with these guns and weapons like flintlock pistols and muskets would be an advantage from further afield.

Meanwhile, the Vikings prefered to use axe and swords. But not many of the Vikings could aford for themselves a sword. Back to the Viking Age, to make a sword might cost a lifetime fortune for a normal Viking. Some movies depicted the Vikings equipped their boats with shields. Historically, in combat, the Vikings would not place shields along the hulls of the ship because it would prevent them from approaching land easily.

Vikings and Pirates: Numbers

Numbers do not always determine who would be the combat winners. But having a larger number of warriors would be an advantages because it could intimidate the enemies.

A Viking long boat could carry about 50-70 men. And it was likely that all of these people would join battles. All of them. As to the pirates, they could fit far more men due to the capacity of the ship. 80 or more could fit a sloop. However, few big pirate ships could fit around 250 men. But the majority of the pirate ships were often small or avage types.

Vikings and Pirates: Physiological warfare

Psychological warfare is the planned tactical use of propaganda, threats, and other non-combat techniques during wars, threats of war, or periods of geopolitical unrest to mislead, intimidate, demoralize, or otherwise influence the thinking or behavior of an enemy.

Robert Longley

Physiological warfare is important, not only just for Vikings and pirates but also for any warriors of any times. The Vikings had fierece hearts that showed the untamed parts of humanity, I have to say. Once they joined any battle, they would show no fear. The truth was, they feared nothing. Death was not an intimidating concept for the Vikings. When a Viking warrior sacrificed himself in battle, he would be the chosen one to join Valhalla with Odin the Allfather the supreme Viking god. Death was not a scary thing for those who had for themselves an afterlife they had been desiring for their whole life.

A Viking warrior hailing Odin when he could join Odin the Valhalla the Great Hall of Fallen Warriors
A Viking warrior hailing Odin when he could join Odin the Valhalla the Great Hall of Fallen Warriors

The pirates, similarly, tried their best to terrify their enemies. They forced their enemies to lose heart and the surrender. However, the Vikings still had more reputation for their physiological warfare which changed them from a normal farmer into the fierecest warrior who raided around Europe.


Making any comparison between these two parties is quite unfair to the Vikings. A 1000-year time gap changed all of technology and humanity’s way of thinking. Of course, a simple longship made by the farmers, who had a wish to explore and change their life on the ocean, could not win over the powerful ship with cannons and gunpowder weapons.

This blog post is to merely list three major differences to distinguish Vikings and Pirates. Hope this help you understand more about these powerful warriors.

Leave a Reply