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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings - Marriage and Divorce - #TidbitThursday

This week we'll investigate the concept of marriage and divorce in Viking society.

Women enjoyed a freer lifestyle among Vikings than in some other societies during this time. They were almost considered equal to men. They exercised power over almost all aspects of the household, including overseeing the servants and slaves. She had to manage the production of clothing (spinning wool, weaving, stitchery, etc), the preparation of meals, cleaning, brewing, and more. They could inherit and own land and even engage in commerce and trade. Interestingly, a woman could not vote.

One example of a woman exerting her freedoms was Aud the Deep Minded who was the widow of King Olaf the White of Dublin. She sailed to Iceland and purchased land. She then directed the cultivating and farming of that land.

Girls married at young ages starting around 12.

Since betrothals were often treated like business arrangements, for couples to marry, a man or his family had to pay a bride-price of cattle or gold to the girl's father. The girl's father then paid a dowry to the groom's family. The actual marriage ceremony involved several days of celebration and feasting.

Fray or Freyr was the god of marriage, fertility and prosperity.

Divorce was relatively simple. When a couple decided to divorce, they told some witnesses their wish to separate. She could get back her dowwry and a portion of the household goods.

Picture References:
Frey - By Historiska museet - http://historiska.se/upptack-historien/object/109037-statyett-statyett-av-fro-av-brons/#group-3, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72131710


"Everyday Life in Viking Times" by Michael Gibson, ISBN#0-7500-1472-5
The Vikings: Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder (General Military) The Vikings (Journey into civilization)
Vikings, a Dark History Vikings: Warriors, Raiders, and Masters of the Sea (Oxford People)
The Vikings  

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