Candidate Profile

Provided by

Author / Writer
History - General
History - Maritime
Vikings & Scandinavia
Born and brought up in the north of England, Dr John Haywood studied medieval history at the universities of Lancaster and Cambridge (UK), and Copenhagen (Denmark). His doctoral dissertation, published as Dark Age Naval Power in 1991, was a study of north European seafaring before the Viking Age. The author of over 20 books, John Haywood has written on a wide range of historical topics but his main interests are the Vikings, maritime history and historical atlases. John Haywood formerly taught medieval history at Lancaster University, but he now divides his time between writing and working for Road Scholar, a US educational travel company, leading and lecturing to tour groups mainly in Iceland, Scandinavia and the Baltic, a region of which he has an expert knowledge. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain.

In his leisure time, John Haywood enjoys hiking, cooking, folk music and pubs. He has, when he was considerably younger and fitter, been a member of a mountain rescue team and served in the UK Territorial Army. He lives in Lancaster, near to the castle where, in 1612, one of his motherís reputed ancestors was hanged for witchcraft. He shares his life with his Danish partner, Charlotte, a clinical researcher, who he met while studying in Copenhagen.

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I can offer a wide range of topics on medieval and maritime history subjects.

1. Who were the Vikings?
This talk explores the origins of the Vikings and the causes of their dramatic explosion onto the European stage at the end of the 8th century. The talk also explains why the Viking expansion came to an end with the formation of the modern Scandinavian kingdoms.

2. Viking ships and navigation.
How did the Vikings build their ships and how did they navigate them in age before the magnetic compass and sea charts?

3. The Viking warrior.
This talk covers Viking weapons and battle tactics, the strengths and weakness of Viking armies, and the cultural attitudes that motivated warriors to take extreme risks to win fame and gold.

4. The Viking gods.
Viking religion reflected and legitimised the violence of Viking society. Who were the Vikings' most important gods? How did they believe the world had been created and how did they believe it would end? What were their beliefs about the afterlife?

5. Viking Age Iceland.
The history of Iceland from the first pioneer settlers, the creation of the Althing (one of the world's oldest parliaments) to its decline and loss of independence under the impact of environmental degradation, climate change and volcanic eruptions.

6. The Vikings in America.
The Vikings were the first Europeans to attempt the colonisation of North America. Usually thought of as being a short-lived movement, the Viking colony in Greenland (geologically part of North America) survived for 400 years. This talk discusses the reasons for the Vikings' ultimate failure to create permanent colonies in North America. It also discusses some of the famous hoaxes, like the Kensington runestone, which have been presented as 'evidence' of Viking exploration deep into the interior of the continent.

7. The Vikings in the East.
This talk tells how Swedish Vikings founded the first Russian state and created a trading network that extended from the Baltic Sea to Constantinople and Baghdad.

8. The Hanseatic League.
For hundreds of years in the Middle Ages this German-dominated confederation of cities dominated the trade of northern Europe (including that of England) and was a major influence on the cultural and political development of the Baltic region. No one can fully appreciate a visit to cities like Hamburg, Lubeck, Bergen, Gdansk, Riga or Tallinn without an understanding of the reasons for the rise and fall of the Hanse.

9. Scandinavia and the Baltic.
The history of the relationship between Denmark and Sweden and their Baltic neighbours from the first prehistoric traders in amber and bronze, their rivalry to dominate the region in the Middle Ages and early Modern Period, down to the present day.

10. The Sami people of the north.
The popular image of the Sami is one of nomadic reindeer herders. In reality this was only ever a minority activity, fishing, hunting and farming always being more important. This talk considers the varied history of the Sami and their struggle to maintain their language and cultural identity in the modern world.

11. Fish and ships: the history of the North Sea.
Since remote prehistory, the North Sea has linked as much as divided the nations that live around its shores and which have constantly competed to control its rich resources.

12. Russia and the West.
Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991 many in the west expected Russia to become a 'normal' capitalist democracy. Such expectations were deluded: the differences between the west and Russia go back long before Cold war rivalry. This talk explores the 1000 years of divergent cultural history that has made the modern Russian identity.

I also have presentations on the following subjects:

Who were the Celts?

The origins of Scotland

The Atlantic before Columbus

The Portuguese maritime expansion

Columbus and the flat-earthers: did Medieval Europeans really believe that the Earth was flat?

Airships over the Pole

The Arctic convoys

The Battle of the Atlantic

The Atlantic slave trade

Life in Nelson's navy

The history of Svalbard

The Pomors: Russia's Arctic Entrepreneurs

Norway in World War II

Iceland's Road to Independence

The Teutonic Knights

The Spanish Armada

Islamic Spain
In addition to my cruises with Viking, listed below, I was ship's lecturer for APT on Island Sky and Hebridean Sky 19/6-29/7/2018 in the Norwegian Fjords, the Baltic Sea and an Iceland circumnavigation and was a lecturer for Hurtigruten on Trollfjord in October 2019.
I have worked as a group leader and study leader on cruise-ship based tours for the US educational travel company Road Scholar since 2012 mainly, but not exclusively, in the Baltic region, Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard. Lecturing to adult audiences on a wide range of historical topics related to the areas we are travelling in is a central part of the job. In the course of my work I have built up a substantial library of teaching material and presentations which is adaptable to a wide of range of different travel itineraries.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sea SE190912 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Thursday, September 12, 2019
Viking Sky SK190218 In Search of the Northern Lights 12 Bergen Monday, February 18, 2019
Viking Star ST160918 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Sunday, September 18, 2016