Women at the Thing

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This chapter explores the role of women in the assembly (‘thing’) meetings in the Viking and early medieval period in Norway and Iceland and examines how the regulations surrounding this changed over time. A general trend among scholars has been, and still is, to describe the assembly as an exclusively male arena. Thing participants are most commonly described using variations of ‘chieftains’, ‘all men’, ‘the freemen’ or ‘the thingmen’. Examination of the primary sources, however, makes it clear that such statements are too simplistic and one-dimensional, as at least some women had full access to the assembly meetings, and many others may have participated on the margins. The issue of female assembly attendance has been touched upon, most notably by Else Mundal, Kjell Venås and Anne Irene Riisøy, but this study constitutes the first overarching study of the role of women at the thing. Three phases of assembly participation are addressed: 1) the situation as set out in the earliest extant laws, 2) the situation as set out in the next phase of Norse law, and 3) a brief examination of the situation in the Viking Age.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKvinner i Vikingtid
EditorsN. Coleman, N.L. Løkka
PublisherScandinavian Academic Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9788230401293
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • 25ref2021


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