The Nine Noble Virtues: Guiding Principles of Viking Life

9 virtues

Vikings are known for their fearsome reputation as warriors, but their culture was also shaped by a strong moral code known as the ‘Nine Noble Virtues.’ These virtues served as guiding principles in various aspects of Viking life, from personal relationships to warfare and everything in between.

Key Takeaways

  • The Nine Noble Virtues were the moral compass of Viking culture.
  • These virtues shaped the actions, relationships, and societal norms of the Vikings.
  • The Nine Noble Virtues continue to inspire and captivate people’s imagination about the revered nature of Vikings.
  • Virtues such as valor, honor, hospitality, truth, fidelity, discipline, industriousness, perseverance, and self-reliance were fundamental to Viking society.
  • These virtues not only fostered resilience but also contributed to the growth and prosperity of the Viking economy.

Valor: The Virtue of Courage in Viking Culture

Valor, or courage, was a fundamental virtue in Viking culture. The Vikings believed that fearlessness was essential for success in battle and in life. They valued bravery, strength, and an unwavering spirit in the face of danger. Viking warriors were revered for their courage and willingness to face death in battle.

Vikings viewed courage not only as a personal attribute but also as a duty to their community and society. Warriors who demonstrated courage were held in high regard and honored for their bravery and loyalty. They were seen as exemplars of Viking virtues and were often celebrated in sagas and poems.

The Fearless Vikings

The Vikings’ fearlessness in battle was a result of their belief in an afterlife. They believed that warriors who died honorably in battle would be taken to Valhalla, a paradise for warriors, where they would feast and fight forever. This belief gave them the courage to fight fiercely and without hesitation.

The Vikings also valued physical strength and skill in combat. They trained vigorously in martial arts, wrestling, and swordsmanship, honing their skills and developing their physical abilities. This training, along with their courage, gave them an edge in battle and made them formidable opponents.

The Legacy of Courage

The legacy of courage in Viking culture extends beyond their exploits on the battlefield. Their fearlessness and willingness to face challenges head-on continue to inspire people today. The Vikings’ emphasis on valor as a guiding principle is a reminder that sometimes, the greatest victories are won not by the strongest or most powerful, but by those who display the most courage.

Honor: Upholding the Code of Conduct in Viking Society

The Vikings believed that honor was the cornerstone of their society, and they lived by a strict code of conduct that emphasized integrity, respect, and loyalty. These values were deeply ingrained in their culture and influenced their interactions with each other and neighboring communities.

The Viking code of conduct, known as the hávamál, outlined the virtues that every member of the community was expected to uphold. These virtues included courage, honesty, hospitality, self-discipline, hard work, and, above all, honor.

For the Vikings, honor was not just a personal trait but an essential component of their social identity. A person’s honor was closely tied to their reputation, and any breach of trust or violation of the code of conduct was considered a grave offense.

One of the core aspects of honor in Viking society was the concept of frith or peace, which was maintained through mutual respect and adherence to the code of conduct. This sense of order and stability was essential to the Vikings, and any breach of frith was met with severe punishment.

The Vikings held themselves to high standards, and any violation of the code of conduct was seen as a failure not only of the individual but of the entire community. In this way, honor was not just an individual virtue but a collective responsibility.

The legacy of honor and the code of conduct that defined Viking society can still be seen today in the enduring myths and legends that surround this fascinating culture. From the fearless warriors who battled the elements and their enemies to the skilled craftsmen who created intricate works of art, the Vikings embodied the virtues of honor, integrity, and respect, leaving a lasting impact on the world.

Hospitality: Welcoming Strangers and Fostering Community

Hospitality was a virtue highly regarded by Vikings. Generosity and warmth were a common characteristic of Viking households, where guests were treated with utmost respect and hospitality. For Vikings, receiving guests was a way of showcasing their wealth, status, and honor.

Viking households were expected to provide for their guests, offering them food, drink, and shelter if needed. This custom of welcoming strangers and travelers was not only an act of kindness but also served as a form of social exchange, strengthening bonds within the community.

Viking travelers also relied on this custom of hospitality when making their way through a foreign land. Traveling long distances was a perilous undertaking, and the practice of offering hospitality to fellow Vikings created a sense of solidarity and safety.

Moreover, hospitality played a significant role in the economic growth of Viking settlements. Vikings would often trade goods and services with guests, further enhancing the prosperity of their community.

Overall, the virtue of hospitality was an essential aspect of Viking culture, emphasizing the value of community, generosity, and kindness. Welcoming strangers and fostering social connections not only created a sense of belonging but also helped shape the unique and enduring legacy of Viking society.

Truth: The Importance of Honesty and Sincerity

The Viking society emphasized the virtue of truth, valuing honesty and sincerity in their communication. The Vikings believed that truthful communication was essential to building trust in their relationships and maintaining their reputation. In fact, lying was considered a severe offense in Viking culture, and anyone caught lying would face severe punishment.

When it came to negotiations with neighboring communities or enemies, the Vikings prized the ability to negotiate with honesty and sincerity. They believed that truthful communication would lead to more favorable outcomes and long-lasting agreements. Even in battle, Viking warriors would often shout out their names and lineages, emphasizing their credibility and honorable intentions in the heat of the fight.

Aside from the practical benefits, honesty and sincerity were seen as essential for personal growth and spiritual development among the Vikings. Being truthful was considered a sign of moral integrity and an important aspect of self-improvement. The Vikings believed that by being honest with themselves and others, they could achieve greater self-awareness and spiritual enlightenment.

The importance of truth in Viking culture is evident in their literature and mythology. Many of their myths and legends revolve around truthfulness and the consequences of dishonesty. The story of Loki, the god of mischief and lies, serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of deceit and trickery.

Fidelity: Loyalty and Commitment in Viking Relationships

One of the most cherished virtues in Viking society was fidelity, which could be described as the unwavering loyalty and commitment between individuals. The Vikings considered fidelity to be central to human relationships, and it formed the foundation of their bonds with family, friends, and fellow Vikings.

“Fidelity is necessary in all relationships, whether it be between husband and wife, king and subject, or friends and companions. There can be no trust or respect without it.”

As the quote above suggests, fidelity was seen as a prerequisite for trust and respect between individuals. In a society where betrayal was severely punished, fidelity was valued as a virtue that ensured societal order and stability. The Vikings believed that the bonds of fidelity between individuals were sacred and unbreakable, and it was through these bonds that they found strength and support in times of need.

One example of fidelity in action is the concept of blood brotherhood, where two individuals would exchange blood by making small cuts on their hands and mixing their blood together. This ritual was considered a powerful bond of fidelity, symbolizing the merging of their lives and the promise to stand by each other no matter what.

Similarly, the Vikings placed a high value on keeping promises and fulfilling obligations. Breaking a promise or oath was considered a severe breach of fidelity, and could result in loss of reputation, status, or even exile from society.

Fidelity was also demonstrated in the Viking practice of revenge. If one Viking was wronged or harmed, it was the duty of their kin or friends to seek revenge on their behalf. This obligation was born out of the fidelity between individuals, and failing to seek revenge was seen as a sign of weakness and dishonor.

The Role of Fidelity in Viking Society

Fidelity played a crucial role in maintaining order and stability in Viking society. The unwavering loyalty and commitment between individuals ensured that trust and respect were upheld, and that promises were kept. This sense of trust and support allowed the Vikings to form strong bonds with each other and to face challenges with determination and resilience.

Moreover, fidelity was seen as a virtue that represented the very essence of Viking culture. The Vikings believed that the bonds between individuals were what made their society great, and that it was through fidelity that they could achieve greatness together. In this sense, fidelity was more than just a virtue; it was a way of life.

Overall, fidelity was a cornerstone of Viking culture, representing the bond of loyalty and commitment between individuals. It played a crucial role in maintaining order and stability in Viking society, and it remains a source of fascination and inspiration to this day.

Discipline: Self-Control and Order in Viking Life

Discipline was a fundamental virtue in Viking society, emphasizing the importance of self-control and order. The Vikings believed that discipline was essential in every aspect of life, be it warfare or daily routines.

Self-control played a crucial role in Viking warfare, ensuring that warriors did not lose their composure in battle and remained focused on their objectives. In daily life, discipline was necessary to maintain order and stability within the community.

The Vikings also practiced discipline in their religious beliefs, adhering to strict rituals and codes of conduct. The belief in the gods and the importance of their approval and blessings reinforced the need for discipline and self-control.

While the Vikings valued individualism, discipline was necessary to create a cohesive and functional society. The emphasis on self-control and order helped to ensure that everyone played their role and contributed to the greater good.

This virtue is also reflected in the Viking approach to trade and commerce. Discipline and organization were vital to the growth and success of their economy, emphasizing the importance of hard work and productivity.

Overall, discipline was a cornerstone of Viking society, promoting self-control, order, and stability. It ensured the successful functioning of the community, reinforcing the importance of individualism while still working towards the greater good.

Industriousness: Hard Work and Productivity in Viking Culture

The virtue of industriousness was highly valued in Viking culture, as it emphasized the importance of hard work and productivity. The Vikings were known for their exceptional craftsmanship and their ability to produce goods that were highly sought after in neighboring communities.

The Vikings were skilled in various trades, including shipbuilding, metalworking, and agriculture. They were able to turn their natural resources into products that were of exceptional quality, which allowed them to establish a thriving economy. Viking merchants traded with neighboring communities, exchanging their goods for resources that were scarce in their own land.

The Viking economy was based on the exchange of goods and services, with each individual contributing to the overall prosperity of the community. The Vikings were known for their self-sufficiency and their ability to survive in harsh conditions, which was a testament to their industriousness and resilience.

Hard work was not only valued in terms of economic productivity but also as a measure of individual worth. The Vikings believed that an individual’s worth was defined by their ability to contribute to the community, making industriousness a virtue that was deeply ingrained in their culture.

Overall, the Viking commitment to industriousness was a driving force in their success, both economically and as a society. Their dedication to hard work and productivity continues to inspire admiration and respect, making it one of the most enduring legacies of Viking culture.

Perseverance: Endurance and Resilience in the Face of Challenges

The virtue of perseverance was highly valued in Viking culture, and for good reason. The Vikings faced numerous challenges, including harsh weather conditions, hostile neighboring communities, and long voyages at sea. Yet, they persevered with remarkable endurance and resilience.

Endurance was a key aspect of Viking resilience. The long, cold Scandinavian winters posed a significant challenge to the Vikings, who relied on their ability to endure extreme weather conditions to survive. They developed various strategies to cope with the harsh winters, such as storing food and fuel, and creating warm and insulated shelters. Through their endurance, they were able to overcome the challenges posed by the environment.

Resilience was also a crucial aspect of Viking culture. The Vikings faced many setbacks, such as failed expeditions and lost battles. However, they never gave up, always striving to improve and succeed in the face of adversity. They believed that setbacks were opportunities to learn and grow, and they used their resilience to bounce back from defeat and pursue their goals with renewed vigor.

The perseverance of the Vikings is evident in many aspects of their culture. For example, their seafaring skills and long voyages were a testament to their endurance and resilience. They were able to navigate treacherous waters, withstand the elements, and endure the physical and mental challenges of long voyages at sea. Through their perseverance, they were able to expand their trade routes and knowledge of the world.

The Vikings’ commitment to perseverance also influenced their approach to warfare. They were fearless and determined, never giving up in the face of adversity. Their endurance and resilience made them formidable opponents, and they were able to achieve many victories through sheer determination and perseverance.

In conclusion, perseverance was a core virtue in Viking culture, embodying the endurance and resilience needed to face the challenges of the Viking way of life. Their unwavering commitment to perseverance allowed them to overcome adversity, achieve their goals, and leave an enduring legacy of Viking resilience.


The nine noble virtues, which served as the guiding principles of Viking culture, have continued to fascinate and inspire people around the world. The Vikings valued courage, honor, hospitality, truth, fidelity, discipline, industriousness, perseverance, and resilience. These beliefs shaped their actions, relationships, and societal norms.

Courage and fearlessness were integral to the mindset of Viking warriors. Honor was prized as a core virtue, with integrity, respect, and adherence to a strict code of conduct being highly valued. Hospitality was considered an essential aspect of Viking culture, with generosity and warmth being displayed by Viking households. Truth was crucial to Viking communication, with honesty and sincerity being highly prized. Fidelity formed the foundation of the bonds between family members, friends, and fellow Vikings. Discipline was significant in every aspect of Viking life, from warfare to daily routines. Industriousness was highly valued, contributing to the growth of their economy and overall prosperity. Perseverance was crucial, with endurance and resilience being vital in facing and overcoming challenges.

The nine noble virtues remain an enduring legacy of Viking culture, inspiring people to this day. Their influence can be seen in various aspects of modern society, from sportsmanship to ethical conduct. The resilience and revered nature of the Vikings continue to captivate people’s imaginations and inspire them to follow in their footsteps.


Q: What are the Nine Noble Virtues?

A: The Nine Noble Virtues are the guiding principles of Viking life. They include Valor, Honor, Hospitality, Truth, Fidelity, Discipline, Industriousness, Perseverance, and Self-Reliance.

Q: How did these virtues impact Viking culture?

A: These virtues influenced various aspects of Viking life, shaping their actions, relationships, and societal norms. They served as a moral compass, guiding the Vikings in their interactions with others and in their pursuit of personal and collective growth.

Q: Were the Nine Noble Virtues specific to Viking warriors?

A: While the virtues were particularly emphasized among Viking warriors, they were not limited to this group. The Nine Noble Virtues were valued and practiced by all members of Viking society, regardless of their occupation or social standing.

Q: How did the virtue of Hospitality manifest in Viking households?

A: Hospitality was a highly valued virtue in Viking culture. Viking households were known for their generosity and the welcoming of strangers. Fostering community and creating a sense of belonging were essential aspects of Viking hospitality.

Q: How did the virtue of Discipline play a role in Viking life?

A: Discipline was a fundamental virtue in Viking society. It encompassed self-control and order, permeating every aspect of Viking life, from daily routines to warfare. Discipline ensured that the Vikings were efficient and focused in their endeavors.

Q: Why was Truth highly valued in Viking communication?

A: Truth, honesty, and sincerity were highly prized qualities in Viking society. Honest communication was essential for building trust and maintaining strong relationships. The Vikings valued integrity and believed that truthful interactions contributed to the overall harmony of their communities.

Q: How did Fidelity shape Viking relationships?

A: Fidelity, loyalty, and commitment were crucial in Viking relationships. These virtues formed the foundation of bonds between family members, friends, and fellow Vikings. Upholding these values was integral to maintaining trust and loyalty within the Viking community.

Q: In what ways did Industriousness contribute to Viking culture?

A: Industriousness, hard work, and productivity were highly valued in Viking culture. The Vikings believed in the importance of contributing to the growth of their economy and overall prosperity. Their diligent efforts in various fields led to advancements and achievements that benefited their society.

Q: How did Perseverance play a role in Viking resilience?

A: Perseverance, endurance, and resilience were central to the Viking mentality. The Vikings faced and overcame numerous challenges with determination and steadfastness. Their unwavering resolve allowed them to adapt, survive, and thrive in the face of adversity.