Guest Post by Author Suzie Grant: To Love or Not to Love

Today for my Something-New-Sunday, I have wrangled a friend of mine, author Suzie Grant, to come share a bit about the vikings she loves to write about and appropriately, she’s chosen to discuss their traditions on love and marriage and divorce. 

Viking women were considered among the few who had any “real” rights as women before the women’s rights movement. The Vikings were so far ahead of their time in my humble opinion it’s astounding how little it’s been studied or written about over the years. This culture fascinates me for that very reason. I have a real passion for this particular time period and I hope to share that with you.

The Icelandic Vikings were opposed to a central state dependent on the authority of a lord or King. They founded the world’s oldest, surviving parliament while Britain was mired in feudalism. Indeed, they were far, far ahead of their time for that very reason alone.

But what really captured my interest was the way they treated their women. They gave them more freedoms than any other culture in the world during those times. Women were held in high regard and the men treated them with respect. They managed the finances of the family. They ran the farm and villages when the men were absent. And Vikings created laws that protected women. For instance unwanted attention from a man was forbidden by society and women were encouraged to protect themselves, with force if necessary. And it was considered shameful in the extreme to harm a woman for there was no honor in that. Viking men chose a challenge and looked down on men who chose easy targets like women or children. Should any man be seen striking a woman, he would often be challenged and killed for his actions.

Although marriage was arranged between two families, often created when women were just girls or babies, she still held quite a bit of power. Though she had no say in who she married, if a Viking wife were truly unhappy, divorce was allowed by either party. It was not unheard of for a woman to marry several times in her life. And a woman owned property and when the marriage was dissolved, she took her property with her to return to her family.

The basic procedure for obtaining a divorce was for the couple to declare their intention before witnesses. If only one of the two spouses wanted the divorce then witnesses were called in, the dissatisfied party declared him or herself divorced. The declaration had to list the reasons for the divorce and has to be repeated before witnesses in the couple’s bedroom, in the front entrance to the house, and before a public assembly. The division of property ensued and the woman received one third of their shared property and was allowed to return home with the property she entered into the marriage with.

Marriage was a much more complicated process. Marriages had two parts: the betrothal and the wedding. The betrothal was a commercial contract between the woman’s guardian and the suitor. Interestingly, there are a few instances of the woman turning down the marriage proposal in the Sagas.

The groom’s family agreed to pay a bride price called the mundr and the bride’s father agreed to pay a dowry at the wedding. The two parties shook hands, agreed on a date and the deed was done.

The wedding was an elaborate ceremony. Feasting a drinking continued for several days usually at the home of the bride’s parents. There had to be at least six witnesses. The first part of the ceremony was used to invoke the God’s attention, often by sacrifice. The Groom would then present his bride with the sword of his ancestors, to hold this sword in trust for their future son. It signified the tradition of family and the continuation of bloodlines.

The bride then presented the sword which proceeded her to marriage from her father which represented the transfer of the father’s power of guardianship and protection to the groom. The exchange of swords was very ceremonial. Then came the exchange of rings. Then with joined hands on the hilt of the ancestral sword, they exchanged their vows.

The feast came next and the ceremonial wedding night. The most interesting thing about the Vikings was the morning gift. In the morning the two were separated for a short time and the woman was introduced into the “married woman’s coiffure.” Single women wore their hair loose. And then her hair placed in the hustrulinet. A long, snow-white, finely-pleated linen cloth.

The wife was escorted to her husband and in front of witnesses paid his wife a morning gift, signifying the marriage complete. She received the groom’s keys to his home which symbolized her new authority of mistress of the household.

It’s nice to see some form of woman power in history. It’s refreshing to know there are those who appreciated a woman for the real value she gave to society. Sadly, it took the rest of the world centuries to catch up. While it was unusual during the time period and often something we take for granted today, history has many secret gems like this in her grasp. We just have to take the time to peel back the folds and find them.

Thank you so much for coming by and sharing such fascinating details, Suzie. I have to admit I had no idea viking women of all people would have had so many rights and respect back then. Very neat.

Suzie writes a wide array of historical romances including westerns, including the Devil Ryder Series as well as a viking romance titled Valkyrie’s Vengeance.

If you’d like to know more about Suzie, please visit her website at www.suziegrantauthor.com and be sure to comment today for a chance to be one of two people chosen for an eCopy of one of Suzie’s backlist books.

14 comments on “Guest Post by Author Suzie Grant: To Love or Not to Love

  1. miki says:

    They sure were quite lucky. in the middle age in europe too we often forgot that women had rights in fact it’s napoleon who did the change by creating laws where the womens were even less than a child and couldn’t own anything. before they were merchand,owned property etc ( yes some of that liberty was lost if they married but they could choose and were able to live without being married after napoleon it wasn’t possibel anymore)
    vikings were even more thoughful but that’s because they knew they needed them ( after all when the men were off the women would have been able to create their own laws if displased with the way they were treated better to avoid a rebellion and give them their rights immediately)

    • Suzie Grant says:

      Miki! You are absolutely right about Napoleon! It’s really sad that it took women so many years to regain our rights to simple happiness. The Vikings were definitely way ahead of their time and it’s sad that much of their culture has been lost to time. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  2. Also, many of these traditions passed into the Highlands because of Viking invasions. Not sure when it all changed, but I do know that much.

    • Suzie Grant says:

      They did, indeed, Moonprincess. The Scottish are a fascinating culture as well! Many of our everyday words like shirt, Thursday, Friday were integrated into our history and originated through Vikings. We’ve kept quite a bit of their language but sadly much of their culture has been lost. Thanks for commenting!

  3. agouralady says:

    This was fascinating! I don’t know much about the Vikings, but after learning this much, I’m going to have to add a new genre to my reading list (strictly in order to advance my education, mind you!).

    • Suzie Grant says:

      LOL I am so glad I could inaugurate you into the Viking culture. They are a fascinating people and sadly, often misunderstood as raiders when they were in fact, farmers, businessmen and tradesmen as well. There are some fabulous authors who’ve written about Vikings. Johanna Lindsey has a fabulous book called Fires in Winter that initiated my love of vikings. Although, warning it was written years ago so it may not be up to our standards anymore. I can suggest Connie Mason, Bobbi Smith and Sandra Hill (Although I will say hers are more geared toward humor and less on historically accurate if you ask me, but still well written.) Thanks for stopping in, I am so glad I could share my love of the period with you!

  4. Alanna says:

    This was a really interesting post (I learned something new). I had no idea that the viking’s had established women’s rights. My perception of the vikings were that they were barbaric and less civilized (thanks to history class lol).

    • Suzie Grant says:

      LOL I am so glad I could bring that to light. Now I will say this when the men raided their enemies the women were considered slaves and “fair game” to horrible crimes. But Viking women were held with the utmost respect and honor. They were often placed on a pedestal which is exactly where we like to be if I do say so myself! =D So many people assume that because they were raiders they were barbarians but they were tradesmen, farmers, business men and world travelers as well. They have even found evidence of Vikings in America as well as in China. It’s amazing how far these men explored. Thanks for commenting Alanna, I am so glad you stopped by!

  5. Heather says:

    Fascinating! I have to admit I don’t know much about Viking culture, so I learned a lot of new things today. Thanks for sharing!

    • Suzie Grant says:

      Heather! I am so glad you swung by then! History has such an impact on who we are and where we are going that we should never forget it. It’s so sad how much history we’ve lost already. It’s estimated that we’ve already lost 40% of America’s history. So So I’m curious just how much history we’ve lost all around the world in other countries. I’m so glad you swung by and have a wonderful evening!

  6. Sarah R. says:

    Thank you for sharing your viking wisdom with us. I was aware of some of the things regarding women and the weddings, but I did not know anything about their divorce process and few other specific things you mentioned. I haven’t read in this genre for quite sometime, so I might have to get back into it.

  7. Suzie Grant says:

    Sarah R. I’m so glad you swung by and commented! I have to admit their divorce process was the initial reason I started to study and research the Vikings more. LOL what does that say about me? I was fascinated by the sheer amount of freedom the women had inside their households. And when you compare that to the way the rest of the world viewed women during that time, it simply hooked me. I’m glad to see I’m not the only Viking lover in the crowd! Have a wonderful evening and happy reading no matter the genre!

  8. Judy DV says:

    Thank-you Suzie. I think most stories about Vikings were just raping and pillaging. Although Sandra Hill wrote a very informative newsletter around Christmas stating facts about Vikings that were very enlightening as well.

    Thanks again.

    • Suzie Grant says:

      Thanks for swinging by, Judy! It does seem as if that perception has taken hold of the genre sadly but they weren’t saints. They did a lot of raiding. Sandra Hill is an excellent author. She writes a lot of humor in her work which I love to read but can’t seem to write for the life of me lol. My plots tend to be very dramatic. Thanks for sharing! I love to read about Vikings. I’d have to say 70% of my writing time is quite often used for research. I should really stay away from the net lol. It’s addictive. Have a wonderful evening!

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