Berserk

Article

May 25, 2022

Berserker (or berserker, "bear shirt") - fierce warriors in the Scandinavian-German world, capable of thoughtlessly destroying everything in its path. The initial meaning of the word is "werewolf", "bear man". In Ukrainian folklore, he is known as Berserko, a Zaporizhzhya Cossack endowed with superpowers, who went out of his way to oppose an armed enemy.

Berserkers in sagas and in history

In "Eddie the Younger" it is noted that strong soldiers had a quick reaction and became berserkers at the behest of Odin. Murders and robbers were often called berserkers in sagas. Especially numerous mentions of warrior-beasts contain Scandinavian sagas, where they appear under the name "berserkers" ("those who turned into bears"). They are impulsive, angry, cruel, shameless, prone to orgies. Their god is Wotan or Odin, whose name means "mad, mad, mad, furious." Instead of clothes, they wear wolf or bear skin, before the battle they introduce themselves to the battle trance with ritual dances and drugs. The berserkers went into battle first, howling, gnawing on shields, tearing off their armor and clothing. The Saga of the Inglings tells us that "the god Odin made his men fight without shells and be as mad as dogs or wolves." They cannot be struck with weapons, and they fall on the battlefield not from wounds but from fatigue. Initially, berserkers were members of the men's military alliances of the primitive Germans, in which the initiation of youth took place. Following in the footsteps of the Roman nobles, who surrounded themselves with guards, German leaders created military forces - counties. These prototypes of the knightly wives of medieval Europe were originally composed mainly of professional berserker warriors. Such a committee was the wife of the Kiev princes of the ninth and tenth centuries. During the first millennium, berserkers were permanent members of knightly forces of various European countries. That is why medieval heraldry is so rich in images of animals: lions, bears, wolves, and warriors are still often compared to wild animals ("brave as a lion", "buoy tour Vsevolod"). Transforming into a beast during battle, the berserker is believed to have turned into a real wolf or bear at night. Hence the numerous legends of the peoples of Europe about werewolves, dog-heads, werewolves. In the IX-XI centuries berserkers �