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Polygyny, Concubinage, and the Social Lives of Women in Viking-Age Scandinavia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Archaeology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5753-4535
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Simon Fraser University.
2017 (English)In: Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, ISSN 1782-7183, E-ISSN 2030-9902, Vol. 13, p. 165-209Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper we utilize evolutionary theory, anthropological data, and historical sources to explore how marriage practices shaped social behaviours and attitudes towards gender in Viking-Age Scandinavia. We focus primarily on the normative practices of polygyny and concubinage, which have been shown by anthropological studies to legitimize behaviours that reinforce male power. Our survey found that many of these behaviours might have been prevalent among Viking-Age societies. These include competition among men seeking to gain access to the marriage market, female seclusion, and the bartering of women in marriage contracts. Inside the household, these practices may have precipitated an increased risk of domestic violence, the neglect of children, and the male domination of household decisions. However, we also identify a number of significant ways in which male power was contested and subverted by women’s agency, both within the home and in the context of wider society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 13, p. 165-209
Keywords [en]
Viking Age; women; children; polygyny; concubinage; marriage; operational sex ratios; gender; violence; power; conflict
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-410252DOI: 10.1484/J.VMS.5.114355OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-410252DiVA, id: diva2:1429969
Available from: 2020-05-13 Created: 2020-05-13 Last updated: 2020-05-15Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • nn-NB
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More languages
Output format
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