The Cycle | February 28, 2013
>>> as my fellow cyclists are fond of pointing out there's random and some might say historic and nonless knowledge in my head. check out the new web series for more of that, steve's corner, if that's your thing but most of those facts about modern american political history . lucky for all of us, we have the history channel to fill in the gaps and in to scripted programming, history taking on one of the most terrifying groups of people ever. no, it is not congress. it is the vikings . word viking struck fear in the hearts of europeans of centuries. the boogie men in the north traveling across the sea to sack villages. they were traders, explorers and innovators finding the new world before columbus. the series may change that perception. michael hurst creator of "the tudors" hopes to shed a light on this. so, you know, michael , all kind of there in the set-up and a reflexive reaction of people saying vikings . we think of the marauders. they pillage, steal. you think in the present day they have a credit card ad that uses vikings that are behaving crazily. when's the truth? what's the right way?
>> you know, well, the good thing about that is, of course, people immediately do have a thought or do have a reaction. it's an amazing thing that around the world you just have to say the word vikings and it conjures up images and thoughts in people's minds which is a great lead-in to doing a series about them. you have to understand that most of what was written about the vikings written by hostile witnesses. that is christian monks. they, of course, were nonliteral, pagans and didn't write anything down. and their culture was destroyed after it was christianized. but what i found in the research was some extraordinary things. very briefly, that they were far more democratic than saxon western and francish culture. they had regular meetings and discussed things of property to justice. and perhaps even more interestingly was the attitude towards women. that women in viking culture could divorce their husbands. they fought alongside their husbands. and they could rule. so, there's a great deal of bad publicity that surround the vikings and this will address it. the show addresses that in many ways.
>> michael , is it true, though, that they were accurately remembered as extraordinarily tough and bad and able to sort of beat up almost all the other gangs in europe?
>> they were. of course. renowned fighters. but from their point of view, you can see that it was an advantage to them to be known as particularly ferocious because if you think about it, they came over from scandinavia. let's say originally on a raid in a couple of boats with about 60 warriors, 60 guys in the boat. that's a finite resource. they didn't know how many people they were going to come up against although they knew they were coming up against larger countries and probably larger armies. so of course it suited them to be known as particularly frightening when they turned up. and but they also had -- they were imaginative fighters. they uses lots of ruses an one of the best ones was if they thought they were outnumbered, they ran away. this was a brilliant ruse.
>> and michael , more and more people are actually getting their history from the media it seems like. do you think that's a good thing?
>> yes, i do think. i think it opens windows and doors for people. they shouldn't necessarily believe what they see and, of course, i'm writing dramas. not documentaries. but i think and i'm sure that a lot of people get interested in history by watching this kind of show. and a lot of them will do further research for pleasure. i know that the tudors series spawned a huge industry. in publishing, in reading, in visiting these historical sites. for many years, americans following henry ford thought that history was bunk. now i think they're waking up not only to european history and out of which they come but their own history. so that there is this huge renaissance, i think, in interest in history. because, you know, history made us what we are.
>> well, and michael , you know, as i'm sure i don't have to tell you, regardless of the time and the setting and the story line , you know, crafting a good television series starts with the characters so what was your -- what was your goal there in flushing out the story lines and these people?
>> well, we started with our sort of hero, i found this amazing viking leader who thought that he was descended from the gododin, and odin was the god of curiosity and poetry as well as slain warriors. i thought my central character would have this curiosity that would drive him to venture and explore west. i surrounded him with a family. he has a wife and two children. he's a family man. he loves his wife and his family, and the series in a way is also a family saga , and that's how we get into these people.
>> and into their culture.
>> all right. michael , thank you for that.
>>> up next, you think the vikings are scary, you haven't heard krystal talk about -- be afraid. but also, stay tuned. [ male announcer ] this is the opposite of