The Warrior Women of Ancient Norse Society

The Warrior Women of Ancient Norse Society

Much of the historical texts of the lives of women paint a picture of women who had little to no rights as compared to their male counterparts. Typically women, especially those of ancient European society, were expected to be under the authority of her husband; with the male in charge of all finances, land, and political posts; traditions that followed the Europeans even into the New World (Calloway, 2013). However, in ancient Norse society a woman experienced a latitude of freedoms that European women could only long for and would not see for many centuries to come. Viking women were in charge of financial matters of their families (Short, 2017), managed farms and property in the absence of their husbands (Short, 2017), led battles as warriors (Whipple, 2017), became powerful rulers and political leaders (Foss, 2013), and could acquire vast amounts of land ownership (Short, 2017).

Societal Standings

Although most modern-day film adaptations of Viking tales are centered around bloody battles and gruesome thievery with no basic regard for other humans (Gerdes, 2016), the ancient Vikings were a community of explorers (who did plunder other lands) who also valued their families very highly, especially that of their women. The women of ancient Viking society were often left alone while their husbands traveled the seas in search of new lands to conquer; therefore, they were the ones who were in charge of the management of resources. “When the men traveled abroad raiding, trading, or had gone hunting or fishing, the women were in charge of the work on the farm. This lead to that the women played an important part in society” (Le Fèvre Ph.D., 2014).  In fact, women were often seen as the overseers of property and when they became widows they were allowed to maintain the ownership, making it possible for a woman to accumulate vast amounts of land in her own name (Short, 2017). “The large estates were contemporary seats of power, and the woman of the house had the keys” (Foss, 2013).

The Warriors

One of the most fascinating aspects of ancient Viking culture and women’s rights were those of the women who were warriors and leaders upon the battlefield. Whereas, as recently as the 2013 women in the United States have had to fight for rights within the military (The Denver Post, 2013) the women in ancient Viking society not only fought in battle but led the battles themselves (Whipple, 2017). For many years some scholars believed that the fast amount of tales surrounding the powerful women warriors of the Viking age were nothing more than myth, often basing their viewpoints on a mix of the societal norm of male dominance and inaccurate scientific analysis of archaeological remains (Mcleod, 2011). However, archeological and DNA evidence has now proved beyond doubt the great importance of women in Viking battle (Hedenstierna-Jonson et-al, 2017). Graves of female Viking warriors have given forth a cache of weapons that any male warrior of the time would have swooned over. For example, in a 1,000-year-old grave, located in Sweden, archaeologists located a horde of weaponry and pillages, “The weapons indicated a life spent in fruitful pillage, the gaming pieces that there was strategy behind the violence. And two slaughtered horses ensured that needless death followed the warrior to the afterlife” (Whipple, 2017).

In conclusion, although the majority of history indicated that women have always been underneath their male counterparts in society, especially those of European civilizations, not all women have always been held back. In fact, the women of the Viking societies were often on equal par with the male members of their societies. The Viking women were in charge of much of the household and farms, managing not only the children but the financial aspects of the owned property. They were also political leaders and powerful landowners. However, most importantly to remember about Viking women was their ability to enter battles beside the male Vikings with equal footing and rights, rights that some women in the modern-day era are still fighting to secure.


Calloway, C.G. (2013). New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans. and the Remaking of Early America (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

Foss, A.S. (2013). Don’t underestimate Viking women. Retrieved from

Gerdes, C. (2016). How Historically Accurate Is ‘Vikings’? 9 Facts That Set the Record Straight. Retrieved from

Hedenstierna-Jonson, C., Kjellström, A., Zachrisson, T., Krzewińska, M., Sobrado, V., Price, N., & … Storå, J. (2017). A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 164(4), 853-860. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23308

Le Fèvre Ph.D., A. (2014). The Viking Network. Retrieved from

Mcleod, S. (2011). Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 ad. Early Medieval Europe, (3), 332.

Short, W. R. (2017). The Role of Women in Viking Society. Retrieved from

The Denver Post (2013, January 25). Equal rights in the military, finally. The Denver Post. Retrieved from

Whipple, T. (2017). Viking women warriors led the men into battle. The Times (London, England).

Native American Slave Trade

Europeans brought with them more than just disease and warfare during their invasion of North America, they also brought with them African slaves. Although Native Americans had a slave type of system pre-Europeans there was a difference from the Europeans the Native American slave systems. For example, Native American slaves were, in essence, captives from wars and were not treated as a type of inhuman or subhuman property, like the Europeans did with the African slaves.[1]

The Three Waves of Feminism in America

“Feminism is defined as the belief in social, political and economic equality between the sexes” (Issitt, 2013).  There have been waves of the feminist movement in America” the Suffragette Movement, the movements of the 1960’s – 1980’s, and the modern-day expanses which have moved into a more all-inclusive movement. Each era of the feminist movement has attempted to empower women and help bring an end to gender prejudice within society, with the modern movements focusing upon not only women’s empowerment but society as a whole.

A Shift in Government. The Cherokee Constitution.

The Cherokee Constitution was a reflection of the European influence upon Native American society.  When the Native Americans were first encountered by the Europeans, their cultures were misidentified based upon European conceptions. For example, “Indian societies, which were bound by kinship, clan, and village rather than by a larger tribal alliance”[1] was mislabeled as a tribal government system.

Land Ownership? A Different View.

Treaty of Fort Stanwix

One of the reoccurring themes in relation to conflicts between European settlers and Native Americans was the idea of land ownership. The European idea of land ownership was that of a titled deed or another official paper document. Furthermore, the European concept of individuals owning land was a foreign concept to that of the Native American communal living practices. Europeans also claimed land “they found in North America is theirs by “right of discovery”.[1]

African American Musical Contributions

Based on the paper titled “African American Musical Contributions: by Misty Hamilton Smith. Originally published on Nov. 26, 2017, for IDS 400 at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education.

The modern American music culture owes its start to pioneering African American musicians. Before Elvis, the so-called King of Rock n’ Roll, hit the stage, before The Beatles packed stadiums, there were African American pioneers of music who are now responsible for most of the sounds we enjoy today.

Settling on Stolen Land [Essay]

Based on the paper titled ‘Settling on Stolen Land” by Misty Smith. Originally published on Nov. 26, 2017, for HIST 314 at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education.

Settling on Stolen Land

Native Americans were thrust into a new world by their European invaders in which they did not desire or in many instances understand. In most instances, the interaction of the Native Americans with the Europeans depended greatly upon the geographical location. Some tribes greeted the newcomers as friends with the idea of expanding trade to be in their favor. Many other encounters between the Native Americans were misunderstood due to cultural differences between the Native Americans and their European counterparts, who only knew of their own cultural traditions. For the Europeans who were settling the new lands, they often planned their entire settlements around geographical areas in which trade access would be optimum, or where food and water would be easily accessible to the new settlements. However, the success or failure of their colonies was often at the hands of the Native Americans, in which lands they were trespassing and attempting to steal from their Native occupants.