Viking women played their own role in society. Unlike in other civilizations, they had many rights as women. They were allowed to break their traditional roles as housekeeping servants to serve multiple roles in the community. These women were some of the most feared and celebrated women of their time.

Learned To Care For The House As Children

Viking children were not required to attend traditional schooling. Instead, they spent the majority of their time with their parents. Females often learned how to cook, clean, making clothing, tend to farms and more as they grew older. This helped to prepare them to take care of their own households when they were married, which could happen as early as 12 years old.

They Learned Men’s Duties As Well

When Viking men were off on raids, they could be gone for months out of the year. This meant that women had to learn how to take care of the farm, harvest the fields and other duties that the men of the house would usually do. When the men were away, everything was up to the women of the household.

Women Warriors

Although most women preferred to be at home with the children and making clothing as their mothers did, there were exceptions. Texts from other countries told of savage women warriors that would fight alongside the Viking men. It’s obvious that the Vikings were not sexist regarding who was allowed to yield a sword in times of battle. Instead, women could be whatever they chose to be, even if it was a warrior.

Women Had A Say In Marriage

Most Viking marriages were arranged marriages. A man would ask the bride and her family for her hand in marriage, and then the two families would agree on terms for a bride piece and dowry. If all parties did not agree, the marriage would not take place.

Unlike other arranged marriages in which the family had the only say, Viking marriages gave women a choice. According to viking customs if the woman did not accept his hand, regardless of what the families agreed upon, the wedding would not take place either.

After the marriage, women could request a divorce. This is one of the only civilizations that allowed women to file for divorce at the time. If a bride was not happy with her situation, she could leave. The dowry would also be returned to her or her family because the arrangement did not work out.

Land Owners

Viking women were also allowed to be landowners. Women could be single, have their own land and do whatever they like with it. Some women enjoyed having a farm, planting gardens or simply took care of the land while they did other things with their time. Women followed the same rules regarding owning property that men did.

Viking Women Could Make Money

Viking women were not bound to the limits of their husband’s income. Instead, they were always free to make their own money. Some women did this by making and selling various items, from handmade clothing to homemade jewelry. Often, they did this when they had time to so that they could make extra money for themselves or their household. When men were gone for long months on raids, the additional income would come in handy.

role of viking women in the society

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Viking Women Were More Likely to Die As Infants

Vikings were known for leaving children to die if they were born with a deformity. Sometimes, if children were too small or weak they were also left to die. It’s believed that this happened more often with women than with men as there was a strong lineage of British women in the Viking settlements. It’s believed that the Viking raids began as an effort for them to find brides.

Viking Women Bleached Their Hair

Blondes were very rare in Viking settlements and were considered to be more beautiful than brunettes. This led to most Vikings, especially women, using natural remedies in an effort to lighten their hair so that they could be blonde. Blonde women were more likely to be married to a man of their choice, etc.

Storytellers

Women were often the storytellers of the household. They passed down rich Viking history lessons and family history through a combination of stories, poems, and songs. Some of these were written down in the famous Icelandic Sagas. Aside from these writings, history was taught and remembered from one generation to the next via the women in the house.

Caretakers

The women of the house were allowed to do many things, but it was also considered their responsibility to take care of the family. This usually included their parents, their in-laws, children and sometimes foster children. If a child suffered the death of both his parents, they were often taken in by a neighbor that was already familiar with the child or children. They were then raised as one of their own, which fell on the woman of the household.

Viking Women Were Hostesses

It was also the role of the Viking women to entertain their guests. They would provide drinks and food, tell stories and promote conversation among those that came to the house. The only exception to this was if the gathering was for a business that pertained to the man of the house. In this situation, the woman did not entertain guests.

Multiple Wives

Viking men could have more than one wife. In some settlements, the prince or king could have a limitless number of wives. This may also have contributed to Viking men seeking wives from British settlements.

Protected By The Law

Viking women were not treated harshly and were protected against crimes such as rape by certain laws. While this did not always apply when Vikings were raiding other settlements as they could be quite savage, it did hold a place in the community. Women were allowed to refuse unwanted sexual advances by men, and this was respected.

 

Women in the Viking community were honored and treasured in ways that other civilizations could not compare to. They were treated with a certain amount of respect for their hard work, dedication and the way that they ran an estate. Viking women were valuable members of the community and were treated as such.

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