Were there cases of Viking female rulers, as in queens without kings?

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
There were no Viking women as queens in their own right, only as a consort.

However, due to many of the men of fighting age being away often and for long periods, women did have an elevated position within Viking society at home. They had more freedom and control over their lives than was usual for women in Europe at that time, and could inherit land, and claim on a royal title could be made by a man on the basis of who his mother was. A woman also had the right to divorce her husband. What women could not do is join a felag, [fellowship], and so not become part owners of ships, nor were they warriors and there is no evidence that they were. The TV show is utterly ridiculous on this point, with women swaggering about with swords strapped to their waists, and bands of women warriors fighting and doing heavy lifting work, for instance, portage, all sheer fantasy, and I'm being polite just to call it fantasy. There were women and children with the Great Army, but they were put into a safe location before battle, not charging at the enemy in the front rank as the TV show wants us to believe.

But for all this, at home when the men were away, it was the women who ran the show, and enjoyed good status, in fact they had a similar status to women in Ancient Egypt, the highest in the ancient world and probably the highest until the twentieth century, but there was no Viking Hatshepsut.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Did the Vikings accept female rulers?
I can't think of any and it seems unlikely as the fertility cults of the first centuries of the first millenium, where priestesses were important, gave way to the warrior cults of the 2nd half of the first millenium. This was a male dominated society where the warrior was admired and followed.

Of course, there are clever women who marry wisely and obtain power that way. The saga of Sigríð Storråda, Sigrid the Haughty, is an example of this though she may not be a true life figure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigrid_the_Haughty
 
Jan 2018
283
Netherlands
There were no Viking women as queens in their own right, only as a consort.

However, due to many of the men of fighting age being away often and for long periods, women did have an elevated position within Viking society at home. They had more freedom and control over their lives than was usual for women in Europe at that time, and could inherit land, and claim on a royal title could be made by a man on the basis of who his mother was. A woman also had the right to divorce her husband. What women could not do is join a felag, [fellowship], and so not become part owners of ships, nor were they warriors and there is no evidence that they were. The TV show is utterly ridiculous on this point, with women swaggering about with swords strapped to their waists, and bands of women warriors fighting and doing heavy lifting work, for instance, portage, all sheer fantasy, and I'm being polite just to call it fantasy. There were women and children with the Great Army, but they were put into a safe location before battle, not charging at the enemy in the front rank as the TV show wants us to believe.

But for all this, at home when the men were away, it was the women who ran the show, and enjoyed good status, in fact they had a similar status to women in Ancient Egypt, the highest in the ancient world and probably the highest until the twentieth century, but there was no Viking Hatshepsut.
Well, much to my own surprise various media outlets have recently reported that archaeological evidence has confirmed the existence of female warriors:
https://www.tor.com/2014/09/02/female-viking-warriors-proof-swords/#470354
DNA Proves Viking Women Were Powerful Warriors - History in the Headlines
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,466
Dispargum
Are there any examples of Viking women acting as regents for their young sons?
 
Jan 2018
283
Netherlands
but there was no Viking Hatshepsut.
"While Hatshepsut was depicted in official art wearing regalia of a pharaoh, such as the false beard that male pharaohs also wore, it is most unlikely that she ever wore such ceremonial decorations, just as it is unlikely that the male pharaohs did."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut

The female skeleton mentioned in the second article of my previous post (for its source, see A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics - Hedenstierna-Jonson - 2017 - American Journal of Physical Anthropology - Wiley Online Library) did not show any traces of wounds that could have resulted from physical combat. This leaves open the possibility that the weapons had a purely ceremonial function and the woman in her lifetime was a ruler rather than a warrior, whose grave had to be furnished with the traditional (primarily male) "regalia", much like Hatshepsut.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
A lot of good information has already been shared here :)! I just wanted to add one more peace of minor detail. The term "Vikings" does not refer to a society or civilisation, in anyway. Thus the way it has been used in this thread thus far is technically incorrect.

The correct term would be Norsemen. The term "Vikings" actually refers to the activity of going on raids. Thus the correct use of the word would be something along the lines of, "The Norsemen who went on Vikings". Thus describing the activity not the people or "civilisation".
 
Jan 2018
283
Netherlands
But for all this, at home when the men were away, it was the women who ran the show, and enjoyed good status, in fact they had a similar status to women in Ancient Egypt, the highest in the ancient world and probably the highest until the twentieth century, but there was no Viking Hatshepsut.
I wonder if the overall position of Egyptian and Scandinavian women was so much better than, say, that of Roman women under the early Empire, or of Dutch women living in the coastal provinces of the Republic. Difficult to measure I think.
 
Jan 2018
9
Norway
There is Åsa of Agder, but I'm not sure if she counts because of her semi-legendary status? She was mother to Halfdan the Black (and so grandmother to Harald Fairhair).
She was Queen Regnant of the Norwegian petty kingdom of Agder, at least according to tradition.