These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend
These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend

These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend

Alli - October 13, 2021

These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend
“Svipdagr and Menglöð”. Google Images

If you’re a Viking man you can have a mistress

Extramarital affairs were a common occurrence in the Viking Age. Despite their ubiquity, infidelity was generally frowned upon and was eventually considered a crime for both men and women. If a woman was caught having an affair, her husband was believed to be justified in ending both her and her lover. But it seems that many Norse men adored their wives, judging by the last words of one man just before he was hung: “Happy am I to have won the joy of such a consort; ” said the condemned man of his wife. “I shall not go down basely in loneliness to the gods of Tartarus. So let the encircling bonds grip my throat in the midst; the final anguish shall bring with it pleasure only, since the certain hope remains of renewed love, and death shall prove to have its own delights. Each world holds joy, and in the twin regions shall the repose of our united souls win fame, our equal faithfulness in love ” (Saxo Grammaticus)

Unfortunately, not all Viking husbands practiced “faithfulness in love”. Marriage was meant to produce children. Family was one of the most important staples in Viking society. However, that did not mean he had to only share a bed with his wife. According to Adam of Breman, a man could keep as many frilles as he could afford. Society regarded any children from these liaisons as legitimate. Other accounts also mention that Norse men would also keep bed slaves. And it’s just as brutal as it sounds; these women did not have a choice in the matter. But, once again, since this was a male dominated society, women were expected to be held to higher standards. They were not allowed extramarital affairs despite her husband’s indiscretions. There were harsh penalties for women who were unfaithful during marriage.

These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend
Viking Queen. Google Images

Viking Women could divorce their husbands

While the law did not require that a woman consent to her marriage, it seems to have been a very good idea to get her approval, for in the sagas, “all five marriages made contrary to the stated will of the girl are unmitigated disasters, ending with the passing, maiming, or divorce of the husband”. The Icelandic law code,Grágás, allows divorce in only three cases. The first was if the couple gave each other “large wounds” or meira sar metiz, generally defined as those wounds which penetrated the brain, body cavity or marrow. The second was the case in which a couple was too poor to support themselves and had to rely on their families for support, in which case they could be forced to divorce by their kin, or a divorce might be granted “if one spouse with little or no money of his- or her own was suddenly charged with the support of poor relatives”, thus enabling the solvent member of the partnership to escape with his- or her goods safe from predation by in-laws. The third legal provision for divorce was if a husband tried to take his wife out of the country against her will. If one of these conditions was not cited,Grágás states that “no divorce shall exist”. This may be due to the fact that the redactions ofGrágás which we possess today have been influenced to some degree by canon law, for the sagas list a whole variety of grounds for divorce which are not mentioned in the law code.

The reasons given in the sagas for divorce would be familiar to any modern-day divorce court. First were problems with relatives, such as a family feud, or one spouse failing to treat the family of the other “with due consideration”. Family violence was also a reason for divorce, especially in those parts of Scandinavia heavily influenced by Christianity where divorce was harder to obtain. Aside from the “large wounds” cited inGrágás, a spouse might seek a divorce because the other partner made mocking verses about him or her, excessive anger or jealousy displayed by one spouse, or if one partner slapped the other. Slapping a spouse, especially in front of witnesses, was considered extremely humiliating. TheGulaþing Law of Norway made special provisions against a husband slapping his wife: if a man struck his wife in front of witnesses, she could not only claim monetary compensation for the blows equal to what he would have received had another man struck him, the wife had the right to divorce the husband on top of the fine after the third slap. Slapping a wife is the most common reason given for a divorce in the sagas.


These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend
Men in Viking society should never take a passive role… especially physically. Wikimedia.

Homosexuality for men was… complicated

Pre-Christian Norse views on homosexuality weren’t simple. While Viking cultures seemed to be accepting of physical relationships between two men, it was more complicated. Men were still expected to marry women. There was never a way out of that which did not result in social ostracism. But when married, a wife was expected to ignore any extramarital affairs her husband entertained, whether it be with men or women. But intimacy with a wife was always a must – mostly to procure children. Of course, we’ll talk a bit more about how a woman had legal grounds to divorce her husband if she was not satisfied in bed. So other than not being able to marry a male counterpart, it sounds like it was pretty open, right? This is where it gets even more complicated.

Viking men were known to violate both men and women as a ways to degrade and demean them during raiding trips. It was common practice. So penetrating a man was fairly common. However, it was considered extremely shameful if you were on the receiving end of that action. One of the worst insults an enemy could hurl at a Norse man was “sordinn” (penetrated). Any man branded as such would fight until a fatal end to defend his honor. These conflicts led to Scandinavian law codes making such types of insult illegal because of the violence that ensued with the slanderer often outlawed. However, if such abuse was believed or proven, it had grave consequences for the man in question. Although Norse myths tell of gods such as Loki and even Odin taking on a submissive role during intimacy., Norse mortal society did not tolerate passivity in men. The man in question would become a social outcast, branded ‘ergi”-or unmanly.’

These Dating Tips will Help Any Viking Get a Girlfriend
A depiction of a Viking Woman. History of Yesterday.

But it was also complicated for women who loved other women

While there are many people who like to think of the “butch” warrior lesbian Viking, we’re afraid to tell you that we don’t have any documentation of these figures. There is no mention of lesbianism in the sagas. Though many scholars believe that it was a fairly common practice among married women. Nor are there any references in other Old Norse texts to female on female relationships, so we cannot gauge pre-Christian attitudes to female homosexuality. However, Icelandic Christian law suggests lesbianism did occur in Norse society. In the 12th century, Bishop Porlakr Porhallson decreed “if women satisfy each other they shall be ordered the same penance as men who perform the most hideous adultery between them or with a quadruped.” So there was an obvious distaste and intolerance on it in later Viking culture.

Christie Ward, an independent scholar and expert in Norse mythology pointed out that many Vikings used to have relationships with multiple women. A Viking married one woman, but created a harem-like structure in his own house, having concubines from inferior social classes. A Viking’s wife then could develop a bond with other women under her roof. A bond which involved intercourse in many instances. There was a high tolerance for these types of relationships. A Viking’s wife, in fact, was more independent if compared to women in other societies of the time. She was in charge of the house from a financial point of view and could even decide to divorce her husband. There are also indications that Vikings practiced polygamy, which in their highly stratified society would have meant that poorer unmarried men might have had limited access to women, and would have targeted female slaves as concubines (or even wives).

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Scandinavian Facts – Did the Vikings Have Long Hair? Get the Facts!

History of Yesterday – The Viking’s Love Life

Live Science – The Real Reason for Viking Raids: Shortage of Eligible Women?

Alehorn – Norse Gods and Goddesses: Freya

History Channel – What We Know About Vikings and Slaves

Judith Jesch – Women in the Viking Age