Berserkir


Berserkir is a part of Norse Mythology. They are warriors possessing super human strength wearing the skin of a wolf (sometimes a bearskin) as their armor and capable of summoning a demonic rage. The berserkir can be someone in bear shirt. But whichever they wear they have the ability to shape shift into a wolf, that’s why they have been associated to werewolves most of the time.

There’s a certain law during the feudal stat period in Norway. According to the said law, if a man was challenged by another man and he refused it he has to give all his property to the challenger.  The berserkir took advantage of this and with their super human strength it would be impossible for local farm men to defeat them to a challenge.  It’s a win-win situation to the berserkir, if he refused the challenge, then he has to give him his property and in the event that he died during the challenge, he would be able to seize his entire wealth.  The fear about a berserkir spread all over the town.  According to the myth, they will invite themselves in any feast, and would instantly kill those individual that they dislike.  They often killed their victims by breaking their bones or cracking their skull.

But they were regarded as a prime warrior, since everyone knows that they can use demonic powers and super human strength.  They also have a high tolerance on pain.  The exact description of berserkir was told in “The Book of Werewolves” by Sabine Baring-Gould.

“No sword would wound them, no fire burn them, a clubalone could destroy them, by breaking their bones, orcrushing in their skulls. Their eyes glared as though aflame burned in the sockets, they ground their teeth, andfrothed at the mouth; they gnawed at their shield rims,and are said to have sometimes bitten them through, andas they rushed into conflict they yelped as dogs or howledas wolves.”


The berserkir’s described rage would always be followed by an extreme exhaustion.  But the legend of the berserkir gradually diminishes as Christianity spread all over Europe.  Their attributes of super human strength is attributed to werewolves, while their name berserk comes from their uncontrolled behavior.

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