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Saga of the Volsungs

            Women in medieval society were going through a lot of changes because of the fall of the Roman Empire and the introduction of Christianity as a recognized religion. Women were still oppressed of course, but there were many influences that caused them to take a true look at their place in society. The Saga of the Volsungs is an oral account written around 1200, but regards stories that took place during the European era of the third through the six centuries. It is a German epic about Sigurd the dragons layer, his family, the Volsungs, and their adventures (Lecture). Throughout this saga, there are a lot of different characteristics of women and medieval society represented, and examples of a few of these are gender and landscapes, and the other is kinship patterns.
             The new landscape in which the people of medieval society found themselves in was much unlike that of the Old Roman Empire. There was a decline of political concentration and urban life, with most men and women living in small villages. People abandoned the cities for a different type of life with a reorganization and localization of economies. There also weren't as many people, because the life expectancy wasn't as high, and a lot of women and children died in pregnancies.
             Because of this change in landscape and the rise of Christianity, many people began associating this new landscape with the female gender. They saw the land as being divine, and many Christian shrines, healing sites, springs, and wells were seen as having a touch of femininity. For example, it is known that the Germanic peoples had a seasonal religious calendar, and associated an earth goddess and fertility with a lot of its big festivals. Tacitus, who was a Roman historian in the first century, talked of the "earth-mother" Nerthus, and said that many believed that she "intervenes in human affairs." Many people also associated these goddesses with harvest, which was of utter importance to their economy.

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