History of the World: Berserkers - Not Just For MMORPGS
Gamers are no doubt familiar with the Berserker class, but you may not know (at least, I didn't) that the Berserker was real. History of the World fills us in:
When the going got tough among the Vikings of yore, the tough got... well... certifiably nuts. As in "berserk", which has been translated as "bare of shirt" or "bear-skinned." Both descriptions may have been applicable to a group of Viking warriors who became known as Berserkers. These guys often went into battle without armor and sometimes even without clothes. But they were so pumped up with murderous rage that they were said to take on the spirit of a bear or a wolf and possess superhuman strength - which, some folklorists say, is the basis of the werewolf legend.
Berserkers were usually so caught up in battle that they didn't feel pain and could continue fighting even with what would be a fatal wound to most. We're still not sure how they got into such a state, but there are basically two schools of thought: either they had a really amazing pre-fight ritual that got their adrenaline really skyrocketing, or they were using some sort of a hallucinogenic or psychadelic substance that altered their state.
It's the greatest deal in the history of history books! Our first hardback, The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through History's Best Bits, hits stores later this month, and we're so excited that we've teamed up with the fine folks at Amazon.com to give you a special deal. Pre-order the book before October 27th and we'll throw in 6 FREE MONTHS of mental_floss magazine! Just click here to get the deal now.
For more about the book, check out our FAQ.