In 2015 Vikings Women was founded with the mission to increase, empower and further connect female fans and corporate women, and the impact they have through Minnesota Vikings Football. While football has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated sport, the Vikings have been making efforts to engage their female fan base. This week, we explore the Truth Behind the women of the historical Viking Age.
We often think of Vikings as men only. This is wrong, at least if you refer to Scandinavians in general. Women could be as far-travelled and battle-minded as men were.
Women filled many other roles, too. Whether as queen of the land or ruler of a household, women wielded power, especially in the absence of their mate. Others toiled as slaves, sometimes kidnapped from foreign countries. Women could be heathen sorceresses and priestesses, or in Christian times perform pious deeds and act as influential patrons of churches.
One Swedish runestone tells of a woman setting off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a 5,000-mile journey! Most women stayed on the homesteads, performing tasks traditionally allocated to them. Some women were rich and could bequeath much property to their heirs. Viking society afforded women a relatively high status, although never full equality.
Women followed men on settlement journeys, to Russia, France, Britain, Iceland, Greenland and North America. Here, Gudrid had Snorri, the first European reported to be born in the New World. Gudrid married three times, was shipwrecked, made a pilgrimage to Rome and became a nun in Iceland after her return. A true example that women in this culture were every bit as ‘Viking’ as the men.
Henrik Williams is the renowned authority of Old Norse languages, returning to the American Swedish Institute as an in-demand speaker on topics encompassing the Vikings, runes, Old Swedish and Old Icelandic. Awarded a 2015 Rudbeck medal for groundbreaking research, Williams is a scholar and Professor of Scandinavian Languages at Sweden’s Uppsala University. As a philologist, he studies languages in written historical sources, essentially combining literary criticism, history, and linguistics. A 40-year Minnesota Vikings football fan since his years as an exchange student, Williams is currently debunking Nordic myths and advising the team on the authenticity and meaning of its symbols.
These programs are made possible through the collaborative efforts of the American Swedish Institute, Uppsala University, American Friends of Uppsala University, Uppsala University Alumni Association – Minnesota Chapter, American Association for Runic Studies and The Minnesota Vikings. To learn more or reserve a spot please visit the link below.