If the vikings were such a patriarchal society why did they have such a thing as shield maidens?


A shieldmaiden (Old Norse: skjaldmær, Danish: skjoldmø, Norwegian: skjoldmøy, Swedish: sköldmö, German: Schildmaid) in Scandinavian folklore and mythology was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks and in Gesta Danorum.
If the vikings were such a patriarchal society why did they have such a thing as shield maidens?
No way in hell they were this fucking haut


  • Because their beliefs allowed for it (Odinism, Asatru), which far succeeded that compared to modern day western religions.
    33% (7)38% (10)36% (17)Vote
  • Because all they could accomplish was based upon strength of the people, the more helping hands they had the better the outcome
    52% (11)31% (8)40% (19)Vote
  • Something else
    15% (3)31% (8)24% (11)Vote
And you are? I'm a GirlI'm a Guy

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What Girls Said 13

  • Huh, interesting question! Had me thinking of various reasons.. well I suppose it depends on where the vikings were located and how big their community was. So if it was a smaller community, Id take it that they had the women and younger girls trained to fight for more protection against enemies as the men had to hunt while woman served for domestic duties such as caring for the children. Bigger communities wouldn't need to worry as much.
    However there was not a lot of mention about shieldmaidens in history documents so perhaps failing to mention woman fighting kept the patriarchal balance and order within the community. I studied egyptian history last year and they never had words to define "he" or "she", they described people with their names (the letter at the end of the name indicated whether they were a girl or boy) so perhaps this method was adopted into the Vikings methodologies.
    But woman have always been seen as the lesser species so would make sense to not mention women fighting in battles, would have put the men to shame.
    But thats just my opinion 👍

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    • 19d

      Oops didn't realise how big that text was 😅

  • Vikings were hardly all plunderers though... they were mostly farmers and traders (for a matter of fact they went all the way to India to trade as well).
    I could assume that in some cases women would've been seen as more beneficial if they could fight as well, especially considering the fact that raids and fights within the lands among rival groups were prevalent.
    I don't doubt that female warriors were a thing but they were certainly a minority. It was still a male dominated society overall. So I picked B

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  • It was still pretty male-dominated in that raping slaves was no more than raping property and women could never really be considered the leader of their own household buuuut it was definitely not quite as bad as we imagine and better than what I study in Greece and Rome, so they were a pretty cool people :P

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    • 19d

      Actually women could be Jarl's, the vikings considered strength and courage over gender.

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    • 19d

      @RegularTK421 I'm an ancient history student, dude, I got the whole 'different times, hard to find anywhere that was good' thing down by now.

    • 19d

      @fauchelevent Me too, I love ancient history lol.

  • I don't think I'd want to be in that society, Moso society didn't seem so bad though. More sexual freedoms, less double standards.

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  • Not sure about the shield maiden. With other things they let women own property and let them in on drinking games.

    They didn't let them spar with other Vikings due to not wanting them to die.

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  • Shieldmaidens haven't actually been proven to exist if I recall, they exist primarily in folklore.

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    • 19d

      a lot of what the vikings did is still shrouded in mystery. It hasn't been proven but it also has not been disproven.
      Hell, 20 years ago we thought that columbus was the first european to reach north america.

  • hmm they know how strong women are haha *checking my muscles*
    Did you see how Lagertha killed the Kalf?
    Women are way more ferocious sometimes.
    Vikings always respected power of women :3
    Plus as a woman It is enough to look at the enemy with puppy eyes and he's destined to die by your hands :D
    hehe how brutal I am!

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  • OH MY FREAKING GOSH!!
    That first picture was in one of my exams...
    This would have been helpful 3 weeks ago smh
    -_-#

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  • I didn't realise that they were that patriarchal to begin with...

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    • 19d

      Yup it was a male dominated society, women had more freedoms then western/European women at the time but it was a male ran and dominated society. Though that changed more or less depending on the nation.

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    • 19d

      @Phoenix98 yeh true true

    • 19d

      Mhmm ^^

  • She's so hot

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  • They had female warriors because they believed that if you were killed by a woman, you would not go to Valhalla. In their minds it was almost like they were cursing their enemies.

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  • Same as autumnbunny

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  • I don't no anything about Vikings

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What Guys Said 16

  • Many ancient societies had stories about female warriors, but most myths are based on some facts, that includes the Amazons, Volscian viragos, Valkyries etc.
    East Asia also had female Kung Fu masters in China (like Wu Mei and Yim Wing Chun), as well as female ninjas in Japan (Kunoichi), and some other, less know martial art women in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc.
    So, why would the Vikings be any different? Klingons from Star Trek also seem to be very patriarchal, but their women are quite dangerous warriors ;)

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  • One example of where they were pretty liberal doesn't really excuse all of the other examples where they aren't.

    Though I'm not explicitly stating that they were sexist. If anything, most ancient societies were utilitarian - they based their societal structure on what was most efficient. That meant that someone had to stay home, take care of the house and kids and etc while someone had to get bread or be sent to die on the battlefield like cattle.

    If anything, men and women both suffered from sexism back then. The only people who didn't were the nobility.

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  • Vikings weren't that patriarchal. Women could also become Earls, as far as I know.
    I'm not an expert in Viking culture, but if I'm not mistaken, Vikings valued more strength and will, than gender. But men tend to be stronger, so it was more common for men to take power.

    P. S.: Lagertha <3

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    • 20d

      Thanks for the invite, but I don't know jack shit about Vikings beyond that they Ave cool names... the football team, on the other hand, is booty

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    • 20d

      the 30th cannot get here fast enough... do they release 1 a month?

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      1 a month? I hope not, it should be once a week.

  • It's funny you should invite me to this question, I am actually watching the show Vikings right now.

    And while women were indeed free and were able to fight as shield maidens in battle they couldn't rule and the fathers and husbands were always the head of the household. And the men had the final say, also men were allowed to fuck and even rape or murder slaves including women so it was still a more patriarchal society even though women were more free in that time then most societies.

    Now this does indeed differ from country to country like in Iceland the viking there had very strict gender lines that would not be crossed. In their society women were not allowed to wear men's clothes, could not cut their hair short and could not carry weapons among other restrictions.

    Norse society was still a male dominated society but women did have more freedom then European societies

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    • 20d

      Aweeeeessssssommme
      Which episode and season?

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    • 18d

      lmaoo, only if there is a scotch chaser then i am in.
      rephrase: I meant a question

  • I'm not sure if they even did have shieldmaidens, and even if there were they wouldn't be so small and feminine. A woman like that wouldn't have anywhere near the amount of strength to fight an armed man, there's a reason even the most elite female fighters nowadays fight in a separate division to men.

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  • Female warriors were very common amongst vikings. It should be noted that vikings were sailors, raiders, merchants, adventurers, explorers. Not all vikings were raiders.
    content.usatoday.com/.../1

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  • Well if you put the hot shield ladies in the front like the opposing army will be too distracted to fight!

    Genius strategy!

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  • Weren't Vikings all about strength and who could drink the hard stuff and all that? I didn't know they were gender biased.

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  • They had a myth about Valkyries, they were divine warrioress from Scandinavian mythology, and they even had several goddesses, I guess their religion approved female warriors (unlike christianity, islam and judaism).

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  • I think B but you'll have to ask a Viking haha :D

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  • Check ale's comment

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  • you may have overlooked a tiny detail. yes, shieldmaiden were girls that decided to battle (mainly to escape marriage) BUT according to the religious believe they were NOT able to enter walhalla, which basically means they´re throwing their lives away... sounds not really emancipated, if you ask me.

    female warriors were the model for the valkyries who´s only job it is to pick up fallen warriors and bring them to walhalla...

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    • 19d

      They became valkyries

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    • 19d

      Haha oh thats cool, we do the same thing back in hawaii, we have our "W's" sound like V's
      at least they sound sound that way, like hawaii is actually Ha--vi--ie
      Hmm hang on, i gotta look this up...

      search.credoreference.com/.../valkyries_norse_mythology
      "Valkyries, meaning "Choosers of the Slain," were beautiful young women—sometimes immortal, depending on the Norse myth—who scouted battlefields looking for the bravest of slain warriors. Once they found the chosen warriors, they would escort them to Valhalla, hall of the chief god, Odin. There the Valkyries waited on the warriors, who prepared themselves for Ragnarok."
      Appears they were allowed in, but they were servants.

    • 19d

      yeah there are a few contradictions maybe it was added later. in some sources it says they were not allowed inside at all xD but yeah in the versions where they are allowed in, they are nothing but servants. again not really all that emancipated ^^

  • Bc it was often a fight for survival of the community

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  • they aren't real

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  • People like to portray any society, and era aside from their own as being backwards

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  • It was Patriarchal in a sense but not like in mainland Christian Europe but it was a warrior culture based being a strong warrior.. Women were still having to guve birth to the next generation which is risky enough but were allowed to compete with men on an equal footing in war. All Viking men were required to fight to defend their towns and villages and this is probably how it came to be that women became sheild maidens either as defenders of villages while the warriors were out or on raiding parties to make up the numbers. Its likely that most sheild maidens were highly skilled as they'd have to be to go up against the brute strength of warriors back then. Viking women had rights back then but it seems the mire "civilised" and Christian they became like all pagans the less rights women and the common folk had.

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