The role of women throughout history has varied from society to society. The degree of discrimination, level of equality, societal position, and level of esteem afforded women has been markedly different from nation to nation. Ranging from patriarchal to matriarchal, human cultures have positioned women everywhere in between the spectrum of rulers and the ruled. Herein, the Scandinavian Viking society of the 9th century will be explored as it relates to the treatment of women. As will be demonstrated, the position towards women taken on by this society, and the position held by women within it, was both unique and in tone with the cultural norms of the era. .
Women in the Viking Era.
Women of the Viking era of Scandinavia, ranging from the 7th through 13th centuries, held a largely static position in society. Beyond wealthy women, as will be discussed at length below, the woman of the Viking era was tasked with many of the same common life demands. The common belief, a misconception, is that Viking women remained in the home or tending to the farm at all times, while the men engaged in the activities necessary to expand upon the Viking Empire. This was not the case, as the bodies of Viking women have been found in all regions in which the Vikings were known to have expanded into. This demonstrates that the Vikings brought women alongside them for their raids and missions of expansion (Jesch, 1991). The role of women however is still to be explored, as their role in the expeditions may have been very much the same as on the home front.
There is no archeological evidence that Scandinavian women travelled to central Europe in large numbers. This supports the perspective that their participation in expeditions of expansion was limited. Generally, Viking women lived within rural areas that were in proximity to the marketplaces and centers of trade the characterized Viking society. According to Jesch (1991) "Women living in rural areas in the Viking Age spent most of their time in the triangle of byre, dairy, and living quarters, providing their families with food and clothing"" (p.