The present volume is concerned with that period in the history of the Scandinavian peoples when they were growing, but had not yet fully grown, into nationalities, and when, therefore, their true national history had not begun. Every historic people has passed through this early formative period, its age of Sturm und Drang; and it may be said that every nationality which is worthy of the name has looked back upon that age with a peculiar affection and with a sort of reverence. It has, in consequence, overlaid the faint traditions of it with a garment of mythology, out of which it is in most cases possible only here and there to separate a shred of historical truth. The result is that the very phase in the development of the people about which we most long to know, is the one about which we are condemned to the completest ignorance. The Viking Age of the Northern Folk differs from the corresponding epochs in the history of other nations in this - that it is illuminated by a faint ray of real history lent from the pages of contemporary but alien chroniclers, the chroniclers, I mean, of Christian Europe. Were it not for this faint gleam, the earliest age of the Vikings would have remained for us as a mere tradition, something known to have been, but not presentable in any realizable form; much, in fact, what the Dorian Migration is in the history of Greece. As it is, by the aid of the contemporary records I have spoken of, we can present the northern migration in a clearer guise.