The debate on superiority between man and woman is never-ending. Even in the 21st century, the equality between males and females concerning their roles, rights, and responsibilities is just cliche. The same was there in the Viking society. There were numerous differences between viking women and men. Even the faces of women were more masculine than today. This information is enough to take the idea of how different their life used to be back then.
This article is prepared to have a peek into what it was like to be a woman during the viking age. The Viking era lasted from 793–1066 AD during the Middle ages. Along with having a unique term for women, i. e. shield-maiden, the viking period has brought numerous new concepts as per the women’s perspective.
Keep scrolling to understand better the traditions, roles, and culture of the women that were viking.
#1 – How was it like to be a female viking?
No matter how incredible it sounds, women who belonged to the viking age had a better living experience. Even in ancient times like it, the women had their freedom and could experience a sense of equality. However, the role and responsibilities of women were way too different than men.
There were numerous aspects where equality between males and females could be observed. Women could be landowners, clergy, or the in charge of the finances. This shows that they were not only restricted to households. However, the chores were still their exclusivity. Even with remarkable equality between both genders, it was still a patriarchal society. Viking men performed the dangerous and out-of-the-comfort tasks like hunting, farming, trading, and fighting while women were focussed on cooking, raising the children, and caring for their family.
#2 – Married viking women and their rights:
The marriages during those times were arranged with the concerns of the families. When they used to perform the marriage ceremony for girls, the age group was between 12 to 15; this shows the girls at a tender stage used to get married. Although the families were mainly responsible for fixing the marriage, the girl’s perspective still used to matter. Even after marriage, the woman can ask for a divorce on her own. She just needed to call witnesses to her home and marriage bed to declare the divorce in public.
Women could be considered managers as they manage the household and use to take care of their husbands and families. Another major role of these women at home was to raise the animals and contribute to the family’s income through it.Female viking had the potential to run the family by themselves if the man of the house somehow dies. For instance, the woman used to take her husband’s charge and run the business or farming and perform domestic chores.
#3 – Was there any instance of the presence of women in warfare in viking age society?
There were few exceptions where the women of the viking period also served in the warfare. In 971 AD, some women were involved with the Varangian Vikings to fight against the Bulgarians. Some cases showed that the group of shield-maidens used to learn skills that would be useful in the battlefield like swordplay, etc. For this skill learning, they used to dress up as men and take up the disguise training. A group of 300 such female viking warriorstook charge of the Battle of Brávellir in the mid-eighth century.
Another example is of an exceptional lady named Lagertha. She was a great help to Ragnar Lothbrok, a famous Viking on the battlefield set against the Swedes. Later, Lagertha was able to win the heart of Ranar because of her extraordinary courageous personality that he finally married her.
All these examples show that women of viking age were no less than men, even if it comes to joining the army and serving on the battlefield. Such women that can act as decision-makers in the war zones were called Valkyries.
#4 – Domestic responsibilities that the viking women have to keep up besides family members
The females of the viking age used to play a vital role in catering to her children, husband, and other family elders. Besides this, she was in charge of entertaining and welcoming guests when her husband was not in the house to do the honoring. Their houses were used as the centers for businesses, political and legal negotiations, so the females by then were also responsible for the variables that were present in the house. They produce products for trading in their residential locations. Therefore, the ladies who were mainly in charge of domestic chores and family maintenance used to take part in finances and trade the product from home.
Also, the females that belonged to the viking era were experts in storytelling and poetry recitation. They used these skills for imparting knowledge to the next generation by reciting the information to the young ones.
This shows that in the viking age, the man and woman as husband and wife work as partners to maintain their living.
#5 – Other interests of viking women include:
The women of the viking period were similar to other women of all times as they were also interested in clothing and jewelry. Their clothes were usually very creative and colorful and were always two to three-layered. Clothes were used to identify people’s social hierarchy back then as the quality of clothes corresponds to their social status. The jewelry that the women used to wear include necklaces, arm rings, and trefoil buckles.
All in all, these facts about the viking age showed that women were worth much more than the household in-charge. They had full freedom to live their life on their terms and conditions. They used to be treated as partners more than a liability to their husbands after marriage.