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Ben Coomer




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2014 4:39 pm    Post subject: Female Vikings         Reply with quote

Found this interesting article:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/09/female-vikin...oof-swords

So, its hardly conclusive that there were lots of women fighting within the Viking ranks, but it is probably fair to say that it was not uncommon.

If nothing else, it might help explain why we see so many short hilts on viking swords.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2014 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You do realize the whole thing is an example of sensationalist media spin and is complete nonsense? The original study dealt with a tiny number of skeletons making it completely inadequate for drawing conclusions about Scandinavian civilization as a whole. Even more damning is the fact that the study says nothing about the female skeletons being warriors because there is no evidence that they were, indeed, warriors. It would be akin to someone finding a number of skeletons of soldiers who died during the Third Crusade, along with skeletons of the washerwomen and female camp followers, and therefore concluding from the female skeletons that women played a much bigger role in the fighting as warriors than previously thought.
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Joshua Waters




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2014 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A little clarification, The original article written by Shane McLeod back in 2011 was about migrants to eastern England during the 9th and 10th century's.

Here is an article about it www.medievalists.net/2014/09/03/2011-article-...attention/

I am not saying female viking warriors did not exist, but I do believe if the numbers of female warriors were that high, the victims of the raids would most likely have noted this. Most of the documentation of these raids was done by monks serving in monasteries which were popular targets for the vikings.

It's probably a sudden sensation because of the TV show Vikings, and what Marvel comics did to the Thor comic.

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Qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.

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Tom King




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2014 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The actual importance of this study is completely different than the media spin. Previously it was thought that the vikings conquered a region, then settled it with a second migration of women, children, etc. This find seems to show that they all came at once, rather than staggered.

but the number of skeletons studied was small, so it could be a fluke.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2014 4:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah. What the study actually indicates is that you cannot reliably determine the gender of human remains by their burial goods, and that at least in this one case women were among Norse settlers in significant numbers right from the start.

Norse settlers, mind. Nothing about this even remotely implies that half of viking crews were women.

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.themarysue.com/viking-warrior-women-disappointed/
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:00 am    Post subject: Female Vikings         Reply with quote

In Viking society some women served as shieldmaidens for their male counterparts.
Maybe that's the fact, I guess.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

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Last edited by Shahril Dzulkifli on Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In his “Gesta Danorum“ Saxo (Latin version of Danish Saxe; yep his names means “Seaxes“) writes that an old times some Danish women used to dress like men and spend all their times training with weapon.

His book was the glorify Danish history for an international audience (thus it's written in perfect classical latin, that was admired by Erasmus of Rotterdam) and yet in the most famous battle (Battle of Brávellir) that Denmark lost; there are named three maidens that fight as men in the Danish army. There are not grunts but commanders. If this was not the case according to legend you can be pretty sure that Saxo would have omitted it (he has not a high regard of women).

It's a battle between Danish King Harald and Swedish King Ring. Here follow Saxos information of the tree maidens fighting in the Danish army, while the great male hero Starkad fights in the Swedish.

“Now out of the town of Sle, under the captains Hetha (Heid) and Wisna“....“On these captains, who had the bodies of women, nature bestowed the souls of men. Webiorg was also inspired with the same spirit“

Wisna, a woman, filled with sternness, and a skilled warrior, was guarded by a band of Sclavs: her chief followers were Barri and Gnizli. But the rest of the same company had their bodies covered by little shields, and used very long swords and targets of skiey hue, which, in time of war, they either cast behind their backs or gave over to the baggage-bearers; while they cast away all protection to their breasts, and exposed their bodies to every peril, offering battle with drawn swords.“

Hetha, guarded by a retinue of very active men, brought an armed company to the war, the chiefs of whom were Grim and Grenzli;
The maidens I have named, in fighting as well as courteous array, led their land-forces to the battle-field.“

“Now Brun, being instructed to form the line on Harald's behalf, made the front in a wedge, posting Hetha on the right flank, putting Hakon in command of the left, and making Wisna standard-bearer.“

The battle:
“Starkad, who was the first to set forth the history of this war in the telling, fought foremost in the fray, and relates that he overthrew the nobles of Harald, Hun and Elli, Hort and Burgha, and cut off the right hand of Wisna.“

“The same man witnesses that the maiden Weghbiorg (Webiorg) fought against the enemy and felled Soth the champion. While she was threatening to slay more champions, she was pierced through by an arrow from the bowstring of Thorkill, a native of Tellemark.“

“then the Danes besought him to appoint Hetha over the remainder of the realm; but, that the fallen strength of the enemy might not suddenly rally, he severed Skaane from the mass of Denmark, and put it separately under the governorship of Ole, ordering that only Zealand and the other lands of the realm should be subject to Hetha. Thus the changes of fortune brought the empire of Denmark under the Swedish rule. So ended the Bravic war.“

So conclusion.
Hetha is the actual Commander of the right flank and Wisna is a standard bearer. They also have their own company of men under them. The men of Wisna are slavic Berserkers and Hetha comes with an armed company.
Wisna had the hand cut of by Starkad and Webiorg is killed by an arrow after defeating a champion.
Hetha are even backed by the Danes for leading Denmark, but King Ring only gives her the authority over the lands east of Skaane (Scania).

It's important that they are maidens.

According to icelandic sagas then a woman could don men's clothing and act as a man in any way, if she no longer had male relatives to give her revenge. As soon as a woman was married she could no longer be a "shield-maiden" (Danish Skjoldmø).

Mythologically Skadi is a shieldmaiden after the Aesir has killed her father Thiazi (she shows up in Asgard in full battledress as a man) and as compensation the Aesir allows her to choose a Norse God based on only seeing legs of the Norse gods. She chose Njord thinking it was Frey and ended up disappointed; but as married she was supposed to stop as shieldmaiden. The marriage between Mountain (Skadi) and Coast (Njord) was a disaster so Skadi roamed around being a skiing-hunter giantess. Her name (Danish: Skade) likely means “harm/injury“. She was the one behind putting venomous snake over Loke's head when he was captured....“nice“.

So you definitely could have female warriors and they looked acted and talked like men in every respects. They sex might be female but their gender was male (socially they are males) until married. Revenge must then be conducted by her husband and his family.
It was the females roll in the house to push the males to exact revenge, since most men are lazy and not eager to fight when they can drink and relax. In many sagas the women push and push for blood-feuds as they keep scores with whatever is told about their husband and his actions.
In the viking world human sacrifices are done by women (gydja's).
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J. Nicolaysen




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well that battle account by Saxo would certainly make a great movie. Thanks!

There are also accounts of women warriors in celtic, pictish and japanese myths and histories. While they may not have been a substantial part of any army, it is clear that several women served and commanded with distinction throughout the ages.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Nicolaysen wrote:
Well that battle account by Saxo would certainly make a great movie. Thanks!

There are also accounts of women warriors in celtic, pictish and japanese myths and histories. While they may not have been a substantial part of any army, it is clear that several women served and commanded with distinction throughout the ages.


The full account is in book VIII of Saxos work. It was supposed to have taken place in the 700's AD possible in Östra Götaland in present day Sweden, though it that time the Göta people were not “Swedish“ but their own people (a western and an eastern group). The language of the Scandinavians were called “The Danish tongue“.
Source [Project Gutenberg]: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1150/1150-h/1150-h.htm

Im excusing if this is VERY long, but it gives the importance of naming heroes of either side, since fame is everything and obscurity nothing. It's important to know that Brun (= brown a typical name for masking his identity) the military strategist of Danish King Harald is actually Odin in disguise (he knows the secret of the wedge formation). After having helped the Danes and the King for many years it's time for making sure that the King goes to Valhalla, so he kills the King himself. Odin will eventually turn on your after making you are hero, since such men are needed for Ragnarok. What better timing than the greatest epic battle of the North to collect him.
The Swedes are for Frey instead - the founder of their royal line.
Also it's important that for an educated European audience he makes an “roman interpretation“ of many Norse Gods and places (like Tartarus, Pluto, Orcus) - that is typical for Latin texts and Julius Caesar and Tacitus had done the same.

Saxo's introduction:
“STARKAD was the first to set in order in Danish speech the history of the Swedish war, a conflict whereof he was himself a mighty pillar; the said history being rather an oral than a written tradition. He set forth and arranged the course of this war in the mother tongue according to the fashion of our country; but I purpose to put it into Latin, and will first recount the most illustrious princes on either side. For I have felt no desire to include the multitude, which are even past exact numbering. And my pen shall relate first those on the side of Harald, and presently those who served under Ring."

The account:
"Now the most famous of the captains that mustered to Harald are acknowledged to have been Sweyn and Sambar (Sam?), Ambar and Elli; Rati of Funen, Salgard and Roe (Hrothgar), whom his long beard distinguished by a nickname. Besides these, Skalk the Scanian, and Alf the son of Agg; to whom are joined Olwir the Broad, and Gnepie the Old. Besides these there was Gardh, founder of the town Stang. To these are added the kinsfolk or bound followers of Harald: Blend (Blaeng?), the dweller in furthest Thule, (1) and Brand, whose surname was Crumb (Bitling?). Allied with these were Thorguy, with Thorwig, Tatar (Teit), and Hialte. These men voyaged to Leire [The Seat of the Danish Kings near modern Roskilde] with bodies armed for war; but they were also mighty in excellence of wit, and their trained courage matched their great stature; for they had skill in discharging arrows both from bow and catapult, and at fighting their foe as they commonly did, man to man; and also at readily stringing together verse in the speech of their country: so zealously had they trained mind and body alike. Now out of Leire came Hortar (Hjort) and Borrhy (Borgar or Borgny), and also Belgi and Beigad, to whom were added Bari and Toli. Now out of the town of Sle, under the captains Hetha (Heid) and Wisna, with Hakon Cut-cheek came Tummi the Sailmaker. On these captains, who had the bodies of women, nature bestowed the souls of men. Webiorg was also inspired with the same spirit, and was attended by Bo (Bui) Bramason and Brat the Jute, thirsting for war. In the same throng came Orm of England, Ubbe the Frisian, Ari the One-eyed, and Alf Gotar. Next in the count came Dal the Fat and Duk the Sclav; Wisna, a woman, filled with sternness, and a skilled warrior, was guarded by a band of Sclavs: her chief followers were Barri and Gnizli. But the rest of the same company had their bodies covered by little shields, and used very long swords and targets of skiey hue, which, in time of war, they either cast behind their backs or gave over to the baggage-bearers; while they cast away all protection to their breasts, and exposed their bodies to every peril, offering battle with drawn swords. The most illustrious of these were Tolkar and Ymi. After these, Toki of the province of Wohin was conspicuous together with Otrit surnamed the Young. Hetha, guarded by a retinue of very active men, brought an armed company to the war, the chiefs of whom were Grim and Grenzli; next to whom are named Geir the Livonian, Hame also and Hunger, Humbli and Biari, bravest of the princes. These men often fought duels successfully, and won famous victories far and wide.
The maidens I have named, in fighting as well as courteous array, led their land-forces to the battle-field. Thus the Danish army mustered company by company. There were seven kings, equal in spirit but differing in allegiance, some defending Harald, and some Ring. Moreover, the following went to the side of Harald: Homi and Hosathul (Eysothul?), Him...., Hastin and Hythin (Hedin) the Slight, also Dahar (Dag), named Grenski, and Harald Olafsson also. From the province of Aland came Har and Herlewar (Herleif), with Hothbrodd, surnamed the Furious; these fought in the Danish camp. But from Imisland arrived Humnehy (?) and Harald. They were joined by Haki and by Sigmund and Serker the sons of Bemon, all coming from the North. All these were retainers of the king, who befriended them most generously; for they were held in the highest distinction by him, receiving swords adorned with gold, and the choicest spoils of war. There came also.... the sons of Gandal the old, who were in the intimate favour of Harald by reason of ancient allegiance. Thus the sea was studded with the Danish fleet, and seemed to interpose a bridge, uniting Zealand to Skaane. To those that wished to pass between those provinces, the sea offered a short road on foot over the dense mass of ships. But Harald would not have the Swedes unprepared in their arrangements for war, and sent men to Ring to carry his public declaration of hostilities, and notify the rupture of the mediating peace. The same men were directed to prescribe the place of combat. These then whom I have named were the fighters for Harald.
Now, on the side of Ring were numbered Ulf, Aggi (Aki?), Windar (Eywind?), Egil the One-eyed; Gotar, Hildi, Guti Alfsson; Styr the Stout, and (Tolo-) Stein, who lived by the Wienic Mere. To these were joined Gerd the Glad and Gromer (Glum?) from Wermland. After these are reckoned the dwellers north on the Elbe, Saxo the Splitter, Sali the Goth; Thord the Stumbler, Throndar Big-nose; Grundi, Oddi, Grindir, Tovi; Koll, Biarki, Hogni the Clever, Rokar the Swart. Now these scorned fellowship with the common soldiers, and had formed themselves into a separate rank apart from the rest of the company. Besides these are numbered Hrani Hildisson and Lyuth Guthi (Hljot Godi), Svein the Topshorn, (Soknarsoti?), Rethyr (Hreidar?) Hawk, and Rolf the Uxorious (Woman-lover). Massed with these were Ring Adilsson and Harald who came from Thotn district. Joined to these were Walstein of Wick, Thorolf the Thick, Thengel the Tall, Hun, Solwe, Birwil the Pale, Borgar and Skumbar (Skum). But from, Tellemark came the bravest of all, who had most courage but least arrogance—Thorleif the Stubborn, Thorkill the Gute (Gothlander), Grettir the Wicked and the Lover of Invasions. Next to these came Hadd the Hard and Rolder (Hroald) Toe-joint.
From Norway we have the names of Thrand of Throndhjem, Thoke (Thore) of More, Hrafn the White, Haf (war), Biarni, Blihar (Blig?) surnamed Snub-nosed; Biorn from the district of Sogni; Findar (Finn) born in the Firth; Bersi born in the town F(I)alu; Siward Boarhead, Erik the Story-teller, Holmstein the White, Hrut Rawi (or Vafi, the Doubter), Erling surnamed Snake. Now from the province of Jather came Odd the Englishman, Alf the Far-wanderer, Enar the Paunched, and Ywar surnamed Thriug. Now from Thule (Iceland) came Mar the Red, born and bred in the district called Midfirth; Grombar the Aged, Gram Brundeluk (Bryndalk?) Grim from the town of Skier (um) born in Skagafiord. Next came Berg the Seer, accompanied by Bragi and Rafnkel.
Now the bravest of the Swedes were these: Arwakki, Keklu-Karl (Kelke-Karl), Krok the Peasant, (from Akr), Gudfast and Gummi from Gislamark. These were kindred of the god Frey, and most faithful witnesses to the gods. Ingi (Yngwe) also, and Oly, Alver, Folki, all sons of Elrik (Alrek), embraced the service of Ring; they were men ready of hand, quick in counsel, and very close friends of Ring. They likewise held the god Frey to be the founder of their race. Amongst these from the town of Sigtun also came Sigmund, a champion advocate, versed in making contracts of sale and purchase; besides him Frosti surnamed Bowl: allied with him was Alf the Lofty (Proud?) from the district of Upsala; this man was a swift spear-thrower, and used to go in the front of the battle.
Ole had a body-guard in which were seven kings, very ready of hand and of counsel; namely, Holti, Hendil, Holmar, Lewy (Leif), and Hame; with these was enrolled Regnald the Russian, the grandson of Radbard; and Siwald also furrowed the sea with eleven light ships. Lesy (Laesi), the conqueror of the Pannonians (Huns), fitted with a sail his swift galley ringed with gold. Thririkar (Erik Helsing) sailed in a ship whose prows were twisted like a dragon. Also Thrygir (Tryggve) and Torwil sailed and brought twelve ships jointly. In the entire fleet of Ring there were 2,500 ships.
The fleet of Gotland was waiting for the Swedish fleet in the harbour named Garnum. So Ring led the land-force, while Ole was instructed to command the fleet. Now the Goths were appointed a time and a place between Wik and Werund for the conflict with the Swedes. Then was the sea to be seen furrowed up with prows, and the canvas unfurled upon the masts cut off the view over the ocean. The Danes had so far been distressed with bad weather; but the Swedish fleet had a fair voyage, and had reached the scene of battle earlier. Here Ring disembarked his forces from his fleet, and then massed and prepared to draw up in line both these and the army he had himself conducted overland. When these forces were at first loosely drawn up over the open country, it was found that one wing reached all the way to Werund. The multitude was confused in its places and ranks; but the king rode round it, and posted in the van all the smartest and most excellently-armed men, led by Ole, Regnald, and Wivil; then he massed the rest of the army on the two wings in a kind of curve. Ung, with the sons of Alrek, and Trig, he ordered to protect the right wing, while the left was put under the command of Laesi. Moreover, the wings and the masses were composed mainly of a close squadron of Kurlanders and of Esthonians. Last stood the line of slingers.
Meantime the Danish fleet, favoured by kindly winds, sailed, without stopping, for twelve days, and came to the town (stead) of Kalmar. The wind-blown sails covering the waters were a marvel; and the canvas stretched upon the yards blotted out the sight of the heavens. For the fleet was augmented by the Sclavs and the Livonians and 7,000 Saxons. But the Skanians, knowing the country, were appointed as guides and scouts to those who were going over the dry land. So when the Danish army came upon the Swedes, who stood awaiting them, Ring told his men to stand quietly until Harald had drawn up his line of battle; bidding them not to sound the signal before they saw the king settled in his chariot beside the standards; for he said he should hope that an army would soon come to grief which trusted in the leading of a blind man. Harald, moreover, he said, had been seized in extreme age with the desire of foreign empire, and was as witless as he was sightless; wealth could not satisfy a man who, if he looked to his years, ought to be well-nigh contented with a grave. The Swedes therefore were bound to fight for their freedom, their country, and their children, while the enemy had undertaken the war in rashness and arrogance. Moreover, on the other side, there were very few Danes, but a mass of Saxons and other unmanly peoples stood arrayed. Swedes and Norwegians should therefore consider, how far the multitudes of the North had always surpassed the Germans and the Sclavs. They should therefore despise an army which seemed to be composed more of a mass of fickle offscourings than of a firm and stout soldiery.
By this harangue of King Ring he kindled high the hearts of the soldiers. Now Brun, being instructed to form the line on Harald's behalf, made the front in a wedge, posting Hetha on the right flank, putting Hakon in command of the left, and making Wisna standard-bearer. Harald stood up in his chariot and complained, in as loud a voice as he could, that Ring was requiting his benefits with wrongs; that the man who had got his kingdom by Harald's own gift was now attacking him; so that Ring neither pitied an old man nor spared an uncle, but set his own ambitions before any regard for Harald's kinship or kindness. So he bade the Danes remember how they had always won glory by foreign conquest, and how they were more wont to command their neighbours than to obey them. He adjured them not to let such glory as theirs to be shaken by the insolence of a conquered nation, nor to suffer the empire, which he had won in the flower of his youth, to be taken from him in his outworn age.
Then the trumpets sounded, and both sides engaged in battle with all their strength. The sky seemed to fall suddenly on the earth, fields and woods to sink into the ground; all things were confounded, and old Chaos come again; heaven and earth mingling in one tempestuous turmoil, and the world rushing to universal ruin. For, when the spear-throwing began, the intolerable clash of arms filled the air with an incredible thunder. The steam of the wounds suddenly hung a mist over the sky, the daylight was hidden under the hail of spears. The help of the slingers was of great use in the battle. But when the missiles had all been flung from hand or engines, they fought with swords or iron-shod maces; and it was now at close quarters that most blood was spilt. Then the sweat streamed down their weary bodies, and the clash of the swords could be heard afar.
Starkad, who was the first to set forth the history of this war in the telling, fought foremost in the fray, and relates that he overthrew the nobles of Harald, Hun and Elli, Hort and Burgha, and cut off the right hand of Wisna. He also relates that one Roa, with two others, Gnepie and Gardar, fell wounded by him in the field. To these he adds the father of Skalk, whose name is not given. He also declares that he cast Hakon, the bravest of the Danes, to the earth, but received from him such a wound in return that he had to leave the war with his lung protruding from his chest, his neck cleft to the centre, and his hand deprived of one finger; so that he long had a gaping wound, which seemed as if it would never either scar over or be curable. The same man witnesses that the maiden Weghbiorg (Webiorg) fought against the enemy and felled Soth the champion. While she was threatening to slay more champions, she was pierced through by an arrow from the bowstring of Thorkill, a native of Tellemark. For the skilled archers of the Gotlanders strung their bows so hard that the shafts pierced through even the shields; nothing proved more murderous; for the arrow-points made their way through hauberk and helmet as if they were men's defenceless bodies.
Meanwhile Ubbe the Frisian, who was the readiest of Harald's soldiers, and of notable bodily stature, slew twenty-five picked champions, besides eleven whom he had wounded in the field. All these were of Swedish or Gothic blood. Then he attacked the vanguard and burst into the thickest of the enemy, driving the Swedes struggling in a panic every way with spear and sword. It had all but come to a flight, when Hagder (Hadd), Rolder (Hroald), and Grettir attacked the champion, emulating his valour, and resolving at their own risk to retrieve the general ruin. But, fearing to assault him at close quarters, they accomplished their end with arrows from afar; and thus Ubbe was riddled by a shower of arrows, no one daring to fight him hand to hand. A hundred and forty-four arrows had pierced the breast of the warrior before his bodily strength failed and he bent his knee to the earth. Then at last the Danes suffered a great defeat, owing to the Thronds and the dwellers in the province of Dala. For the battle began afresh by reason of the vast mass of the archers, and nothing damaged our men more.
But when Harald, being now blind with age, heard the lamentable murmur of his men, he perceived that fortune had smiled on his enemies. So, as he was riding in a chariot armed with scythes, he told Brun, who was treacherously acting as charioteer, to find out in what manner Ring had his line drawn up. Brun's face relaxed into something of a smile, and he answered that he was fighting with a line in the form of a wedge. When the king heard this he began to be alarmed, and to ask in great astonishment from whom Ring could have learnt this method of disposing his line, especially as Odin was the discoverer and imparter of this teaching, and none but himself had ever learnt from him this new pattern of warfare. At this Brun was silent, and it came into the king's mind that here was Odin, and that the god whom he had once known so well was now disguised in a changeful shape, in order either to give help or withhold it. Presently he began to beseech him earnestly to grant the final victory to the Danes, since he had helped them so graciously before, and to fill up his last kindness to the measure of the first; promising to dedicate to him as a gift the spirits of all who fell. But Brun, utterly unmoved by his entreaties, suddenly jerked the king out of the chariot, battered him to the earth, plucked the club from him as he fell, whirled it upon his head, and slew him with his own weapon. Countless corpses lay round the king's chariot, and the horrid heap overtopped the wheels; the pile of carcases rose as high as the pole. For about 12,000 of the nobles of Ring fell upon the field. But on the side of Harald about 30,000 nobles fell, not to name the slaughter of the commons.
When Ring heard that Harald was dead, he gave the signal to his men to break up their line and cease fighting. Then under cover of truce he made treaty with the enemy, telling them that it was vain to prolong the fray without their captain. Next he told the Swedes to look everywhere among the confused piles of carcases for the body of Harald, that the corpse of the king might not wrongfully lack its due rights. So the populace set eagerly to the task of turning over the bodies of the slain, and over this work half the day was spent. At last the body was found with the club, and he thought that propitiation should be made to the shade of Harald. So he harnessed the horse on which he rode to the chariot of the king, decked it honourably with a golden saddle, and hallowed it in his honour. Then he proclaimed his vows, and added his prayer that Harald would ride on this and outstrip those who shared his death in their journey to Tartarus; and that he would pray Pluto, the lord of Orcus, to grant a calm abode there for friend and foe. Then he raised a pyre, and bade the Danes fling on the gilded chariot of their king as fuel to the fire. And while the flames were burning the body cast upon them, he went round the mourning nobles and earnestly charged them that they should freely give arms, gold, and every precious thing to feed the pyre in honour of so great a king, who had deserved so nobly of them all. He also ordered that the ashes of his body, when it was quite burnt, should be transferred to an urn, taken to Leire, and there, together with the horse and armour, receive a royal funeral. By paying these due rites of honour to his uncle's shade, he won the favour of the Danes, and turned the hate of his enemies into goodwill. Then the Danes besought him to appoint Hetha over the remainder of the realm; but, that the fallen strength of the enemy might not suddenly rally, he severed Skaane from the mass of Denmark, and put it separately under the governorship of Ole, ordering that only Zealand and the other lands of the realm should be subject to Hetha. Thus the changes of fortune brought the empire of Denmark under the Swedish rule. So ended the Bravic war.“
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Daniel Wallace




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the idea of a 'warrior' woman is always something that captures the imagination when drawing back in history.

Boudica of the Bretons, Eleanor of Aquitaine (who had gone on campaign twice), Joan or arch. I haven't personally read too much of their histories. what role they actually played in campaign I can't speak for.

I don't think its impossible an stretch to say that women took up arms - or even went to war. although the role they played in war - I can only draw on my own research from First Crusade sources. off of memory I can only remember a passage at the siege of Antioch where men and wives were mentioned - its pretty reasonable to say that if the text actually means 'wives' and not prostitutes which always follow marching armies, that they did come with the soldiers from Europe. at the time - the main body of the crusading army had not begun their settlement of the region, so where the 'wives' were picked up was either the local region, or came with them. did they actively fight, there's no evidence to support they ever did any actual fighting. they may have been just a part of a household structure.

the People's Crusade, on the other hand, leaves accounts of entire families taking off. but this was not a war party or army the those taking part seemed to be more a mob of fanatics and common people did they even intend to engage in war is a pretty good question.
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 4:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
the idea of a 'warrior' woman is always something that captures the imagination when drawing back in history.

Boudica of the Bretons, Eleanor of Aquitaine (who had gone on campaign twice), Joan or arch. I haven't personally read too much of their histories. what role they actually played in campaign I can't speak for.

I don't think its impossible an stretch to say that women took up arms - or even went to war. although the role they played in war - I can only draw on my own research from First Crusade sources. off of memory I can only remember a passage at the siege of Antioch where men and wives were mentioned - its pretty reasonable to say that if the text actually means 'wives' and not prostitutes which always follow marching armies, that they did come with the soldiers from Europe. at the time - the main body of the crusading army had not begun their settlement of the region, so where the 'wives' were picked up was either the local region, or came with them. did they actively fight, there's no evidence to support they ever did any actual fighting. they may have been just a part of a household structure.

the People's Crusade, on the other hand, leaves accounts of entire families taking off. but this was not a war party or army the those taking part seemed to be more a mob of fanatics and common people did they even intend to engage in war is a pretty good question.


I think the Athenian point of view that all women should be hidden away within the household have shaped the attitude of Europe ever since because we get our early literature from that source.
I think in a European context it's Athens that is the oddball and it was totally common for Indo-European speaking people to have women as warriors, though it seems they always took the social role as a man doing it.
Nomadic people generally always have tradition for warrior women, but with agriculturalism the idea of land inheritance makes the man more and more important and the woman a trading asset for child bearing.
The more traditional Indo-European the more female warriors - more agricultural and later urban the more male dominated.
The Spartans were such traditionalists and Spartan women were also known for the physical prowess and was participating naked with men at the Gymnopaedia where athletic and martial skills were shown each year in Sparta and they even participated in the olympics in running, chariot-racing and wrestling. Cynisca a spartan princess being the first female winner at the olympic games, winning the chariot racing. [their importance in child bearing meant though they didn't go on campaign with the men, but would off course be very able to fight for their homeland]

In archaeology it is totally accepted that the Nomadic Iranian people (such as Scythians) had warrior women as we find many female graves with weapon sets - the Amazon myth of Herodotus of an entire tribe of women-warriors is not likely true.
Above I showed that there certainly existed Scandinavian shield-maidens - though they might have been limited to aristocracy and prosperous farmers. The reason is - while the man was head of the family outwards - the wife had the keys and was the leader of the households inwards. The Public was his domain, the Private her domain.
The same is seen in Japan with Samurai-wives that surely could fight if the household was under attack especially important if the men were off on campaign. Again it was the upper part of society that had the warrior women.
See Japanese Warrior-wives: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onna-bugeisha
In the Viking world aristocratic women would likely have been trained the same way. [Note that the icelandic sagas are from christian times where women then were supposed to be way less martial - so female battle participation could have been deliberately downplayed]. Saxo's story above shows 3 women that with all certainty must have been aristocratic women taking on the revenge for their family.

The nomadic berbers in North Africa had warrior women against the Muslim Arab invaders in the 600's. They were lead by a Christian-Jewish Queen Dahya or al-Kahinat meaning "the sorceress" in arab. Father was possibly a Greek Byzantine-Christian and mother Jewish-Berber.
According to legend at least heard from modern day berbers you had guerilla warfare between berbers among them many women and arabs and they were feared by the arabs for castrating them when captured.
Russian women did the same in the eastern front in WW2 to axis soldiers.

Aristocratic women automatically were considered as martial women in old Scandinavia. They were “valkyries“ as they were the ones that performed human sacrifices. Ibn Fadlan described the burial of a prominent Rus on the Volga in 922 and there it is an old woman that performs the killing of the girl. She is called by him a “mal´ak al-maut“ (angel of death) which might be a direct translation of a Valkyrie from his informant.
Only aristocratic female Norse had the “-hild“ = battle in their names (also a name of a valkyrie).
Alf-hild = Battle-elf
As-hild = Battle-As(god) (1 áss, 2 æsir)
Arn-hild = Battle-eagle
Borg-hild = Battle-helper/rescuer
Bryn-hild = Battle-chainmail [German Brunhilde]
Ger-hild = Battle-spear
Gunn-hild = Battle-Battle [Gunn is a name of a valkyrie that also means battle, exactly like Hild] - so that is a name for a super martial woman.
Ragn-hild = Battle-advisor
Thor-hild = Battle-Thor.
This is just some of the most common female names with -hild.

Greek and arabs give quiet often the girls flower names with shows clearly the difference in attitude.

In Christian times it's hard to know if any women did any fighting in Europe as if the sources doesn't tell us is not a proof that they didn't fight (omission is not proof of it not being the case) as it could have been deliberately silenced by the writers.
I think it's what people are learning with HEMA that being good with european weapons doesn't mean you have to be a superman of strength. With training a woman could be an excellent swordsman or spearfighter and likely sisters would train with their brothers in the more traditional warrior societies. Anyways Spartan female were the result of selective breeding and Scandinavians being tall because of the milk and meat diet of rich people would likely have been taller and stronger than many foreign men they met on the battlefield. The germanic people thought the roman soldiers being dwarves in stature (as lower class romans lived on a vegetarian diet).
In Japan it seems the samurai wives were especially trained with the naginata and that is a pure battle weapon.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 6:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think part of the issue is even among groups such as the nomadic folk you mention most tend to be still heavily male dominated groups of warriors. That is not to say women did not fight, especially women from the cultural elite but the number of groups with a equal or heavier number of women fights largely has been limited in my experience to places fairly isolated from much of the world, a few islands in the Pacific come to mind but that is about it. Seeing as how most cultures seem to be patriarchal from fairly early in much of world history I am not overly surprised.

Now as to medieval Europe. I have for long time speculated in sieges in particular women likely played a part. That said there is very scare evidence. But as this is the case with much of history related to women fighting I think it should be looked at as something to address such, not per se as fact but look at the few examples and use them for what it is. We have Agnes Randolph, wife of the Earl of Dunbar who held off the English Earl of Salisbury a very able general. If the stories are true she was very much involved in the strategy and front lines that protected the castle. I have a hard time thinking women would not protect themselves and their families if push came to shove but for the most part it was not primary defense from what I see.

And do not forget that much of Europe took Roman concepts on a women's place as a building block. Fairly decided the Roman's were what the place of a woman in fighting was.

RPM
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
I think part of the issue is even among groups such as the nomadic folk you mention most tend to be still heavily male dominated groups of warriors. That is not to say women did not fight, especially women from the cultural elite but the number of groups with a equal or heavier number of women fights largely has been limited in my experience to places fairly isolated from much of the world, a few islands in the Pacific come to mind but that is about it. Seeing as how most cultures seem to be patriarchal from fairly early in much of world history I am not overly surprised.

Now as to medieval Europe. I have for long time speculated in sieges in particular women likely played a part. That said there is very scare evidence. But as this is the case with much of history related to women fighting I think it should be looked at as something to address such, not per se as fact but look at the few examples and use them for what it is. We have Agnes Randolph, wife of the Earl of Dunbar who held off the English Earl of Salisbury a very able general. If the stories are true she was very much involved in the strategy and front lines that protected the castle. I have a hard time thinking women would not protect themselves and their families if push came to shove but for the most part it was not primary defense from what I see.

And do not forget that much of Europe took Roman concepts on a women's place as a building block. Fairly decided the Roman's were what the place of a woman in fighting was.

RPM


Actually patriarchal society originates with agriculture - it becomes important when you have landownership that has to be inherited. With hunter gatherers you have sex with foreign people you meet and then stay in your family unit - so you avoid inbreeding. No need to be patriarchal as there is not much to inherit. When the male hunter died the wife had to be adopted by another or she would die unless she was a good hunter herself. That was the case for eskimos/inuits until 100 years ago.
You had women famous as being skilled hunters, while some were not.
The point is that in hunter-gatherer societies you are evalued by your personal skill level, not your sex and graves reflect that.
Graves from for instance stone age Denmark show a totally equal society in grave goods.

Nomadic societies are patriarchal but also have matriarchal is a secondary thread in society. If you mother were of higher social class than your father you got your mothers name even in late viking age (Christian) Denmark. Danish King Svend Estridsen for instance is named after his mother and not his father that was a “mere“ jarl (earl).
All writers from agricultural societies (Greek, Roman, Chinese) tells the same story about nomadic people of how their women are...so it must have been a common trait
Agricultural societies have a tendency to be very dominant patriarchal where the female are reduced to a breeding animal. The Athenian greek being very strict, the Romans less so.

It is interesting in what has happened with nomadic societies (the loss of dominance meaning that “agricultural attitudes“ took over as they became subordinate to them or religiously influenced by them?).
Until the 1300's the mongol women acted as warriors and even commanders......
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Mongolia

Male exclusivity in warfare might be something quite knew for nomadic peoples and religion (having become christian, buddhist, confucian or muslim) might have a huge part to play in this!!
I think many chinese sources also describe female warriors among nomadic people on the fringes (not only mongols).

I totally agree with your suspicion about women and sieges.
In medieval european warfare you generally wanted to avoid pitched battles. So when when one faction were of sieging someone elses castle, their own castle could in return also be sieged and it became a race who captured their prize first.
So quite often the commander of the castle would be the wife of the Nobleman that himself were away sieging somebody else.
I think when I remember reading about Seljuk Turks in Anatolia some of the same also happened....

You could also have female specialists when it came to siege warfare. These were often family secrets, so both sons and daughters would know about it. Also using a crossbow is possible for anyone, so female could easily being trained in using them.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes that is true for the most part that strong patriarchal societies follow agriculture and civilization but I am still not convinced most or many nomadic societies, most of which are patriarchal had this phenomena of large numbers of women warriors. Part is the Matrilineal lines do not mean warrior generally. In fact even in most places that are matrilineal they are not matriarchal from what I have seen. Yes they follow the woman's line but as in many places in Western Africa they follow along leadership of war to male members in the matrilineal society. So yes mothers line but not so with leadership in war and many times politics either. So even if they follow the woman's line political and military activity do not necessarily follow. I was reading something some time ago now that indicated something like 80% of all societies charted on Earth from the start of historic times have been patriarchal, including sedimentary and non-sedentary

"Agricultural societies have a tendency to be very dominant patriarchal where the female are reduced to a breeding animal."
Not sure I'd go quite that far for most agricultural societies but I get what you are saying. But even if Romans and some Greeks thought something similar their women could still own property in many cases, divorce and go in public, entertainment and such so they did do more than just make babies.

"That was the case for eskimos/inuits until 100 years ago.
You had women famous as being skilled hunters, while some were not.
The point is that in hunter-gatherer societies you are evalued by your personal skill level, not your sex and graves reflect that.
Graves from for instance stone age Denmark show a totally equal society in grave goods."

This does not mean the women were warriors still. I am not sure in Scandinavian culture the goods do not mean symbolic over real terms as well. There are far too many possible variables and from what I am seeing the number of grave goods of a martial setting in graves still are overwhelmingly male there. So more equality and options I think likely. Total. Not so sure. So total equality seems a bit too far to me. For example pre-Islamic Arabs had women leaders on their tribal and familial councils and such but few to no warriors that were women. Just because they have other jobs than what is standard in our society does not mean war was included. The groups that live in sub-Sahara Africa along the west have women working the fields and doing much of the work that in almost every other continent was a man's job but the men still were the warriors.

Once again though your examples very likely are minorities of female warriors. Mongol women are clearly more tied into politics than other Asian women for the most part I can think of but even in this they still are living in a society that is overwhelmingly run by men in this respect. I'd be wary of Wikipedia in this respect especially. Not much as far as references there. That should be a red flag right away.

I have looked a great deal at nomadic societies and I just do not think it was likely to have a large mix of women in the armies generally speaking from what I have seen. There are some exceptions and I'd love to see more evidence of this but just looking at many of their attitudes toward women and how structure works in distribution of jobs and such I am not convinced we see this to level you are indicating. Many of the nomadic societies for sure are more free with women's places than neighboring agricultural societies but that does not mean the women are all warriors still which is my point.

Greeks and Romans are grossly biased against women in politics or war so I have no doubt they malign in barbarians that employed women in war in exaggerated ways to show how barbarous they were as well.

So I am onboard with other societies, especially nomadic having more options for women but I'd like to see far more evidence of them being warriors to shift what I am seeing as of now.

In attacks on towns and villages women have just as much to loose as the men. To me it seems highly unlikely they were spectators. But I wish I has more evidence to go on. All I find over and over is about the townsmen as defenders sadly. I do think I came across an account in a siege in Brittany during the 14th I will see if I can dig it up.

RPM
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Yes that is true for the most part that strong patriarchal societies follow agriculture and civilization but I am still not convinced most or many nomadic societies, most of which are patriarchal had this phenomena of large numbers of women warriors. Part is the Matrilineal lines do not mean warrior generally. In fact even in most places that are matrilineal they are not matriarchal from what I have seen. Yes they follow the woman's line but as in many places in Western Africa they follow along leadership of war to male members in the matrilineal society. So yes mothers line but not so with leadership in war and many times politics either. So even if they follow the woman's line political and military activity do not necessarily follow. I was reading something some time ago now that indicated something like 80% of all societies charted on Earth from the start of historic times have been patriarchal, including sedimentary and non-sedentary

"Agricultural societies have a tendency to be very dominant patriarchal where the female are reduced to a breeding animal."
Not sure I'd go quite that far for most agricultural societies but I get what you are saying. But even if Romans and some Greeks thought something similar their women could still own property in many cases, divorce and go in public, entertainment and such so they did do more than just make babies.

"That was the case for eskimos/inuits until 100 years ago.
You had women famous as being skilled hunters, while some were not.
The point is that in hunter-gatherer societies you are evalued by your personal skill level, not your sex and graves reflect that.
Graves from for instance stone age Denmark show a totally equal society in grave goods."

This does not mean the women were warriors still. I am not sure in Scandinavian culture the goods do not mean symbolic over real terms as well. There are far too many possible variables and from what I am seeing the number of grave goods of a martial setting in graves still are overwhelmingly male there. So more equality and options I think likely. Total. Not so sure. So total equality seems a bit too far to me. For example pre-Islamic Arabs had women leaders on their tribal and familial councils and such but few to no warriors that were women. Just because they have other jobs than what is standard in our society does not mean war was included. The groups that live in sub-Sahara Africa along the west have women working the fields and doing much of the work that in almost every other continent was a man's job but the men still were the warriors.

Once again though your examples very likely are minorities of female warriors. Mongol women are clearly more tied into politics than other Asian women for the most part I can think of but even in this they still are living in a society that is overwhelmingly run by men in this respect. I'd be wary of Wikipedia in this respect especially. Not much as far as references there. That should be a red flag right away.

I have looked a great deal at nomadic societies and I just do not think it was likely to have a large mix of women in the armies generally speaking from what I have seen. There are some exceptions and I'd love to see more evidence of this but just looking at many of their attitudes toward women and how structure works in distribution of jobs and such I am not convinced we see this to level you are indicating. Many of the nomadic societies for sure are more free with women's places than neighboring agricultural societies but that does not mean the women are all warriors still which is my point.

Greeks and Romans are grossly biased against women in politics or war so I have no doubt they malign in barbarians that employed women in war in exaggerated ways to show how barbarous they were as well.

So I am onboard with other societies, especially nomadic having more options for women but I'd like to see far more evidence of them being warriors to shift what I am seeing as of now.

In attacks on towns and villages women have just as much to loose as the men. To me it seems highly unlikely they were spectators. But I wish I has more evidence to go on. All I find over and over is about the townsmen as defenders sadly. I do think I came across an account in a siege in Brittany during the 14th I will see if I can dig it up.

RPM


I totally agree with you that even with societies with a matriarchal component female warriors were not the norm, but always something special. Probably only tied with aristocratic women or women left without any male components.
I have never thought large number of women as real warriors ever were the case. My point is also that if women were warriors they were socially regarded as males and not women. Many nomadic people in Eurasia had had a strong shamanistic component and the “3rd gender“ was a fact in society. So men dressing as women (socially being women) and women dressing as men (being socially men) were not normal, but something that was seen on occasion.
Actually we are so used to in modern western society to have gender and sex being the same, that we have a hard time comprehending other societies where it's not.

Thats what I meant that in nomadic societies the patriarchal is primary and the matriarchal secondary; it's just it was socially possible under special circumstances for women to become warriors. As for vikings so long the woman wasn't married and that she had no male relatives to take revenges she could be on.

The problem is in archaeology is that it's not really possible to see the difference between male and female viking women as they look more the same that male and female scandinavians do today, so weapon-graves have just been automatically assigned to men and graves with “female“ components to women. More and more archaeologist think that might be wrong in many instances. I think the same very well apply to Scythian and Sarmatian graves (Iranian speaking people).
Quote: “It’s actually more difficult to determine the gender of a skeleton from the Viking era,” says Harvig. “The men’s skulls were a little more feminine and the women’s skulls a little more masculine than what we’re seeing today. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all skeletons from the Viking period, but generally it’s quite difficult to determine the gender of a Viking Age skeleton.” Source: http://sciencenordic.com/what-vikings-really-looked

It seems that in Indo-European culture that you had warrior women, but it was likely to be only members of the leading families (the conquered/servant people doesn't count). Spartan women would likely fight if Sparta was attacked, certainly not Helot women (as they would most likely held the invaders).
The “people“ were not tied by any land but by family networks, that could stretch over enormous distances in the bronze age and iron age. We have a very agricultural way of seeing a people as something tied to land (national borders).

For eskimos/Inuit being warriors it's very hard to know.
It's a sidetreck but some information about what really happened in Greenland based on a lot of new genetic studies:
Inuits crossed the Bering Strait around 1000 AD and arrived in Greenland in 1300 AD and then abruptly the native Dorset People disappeared (called Tuniit by the Iniut) and somewhat later also the Norse. It could just be climate change, but in a area with so few resources battle would certainly have taken place. In the viking ages the Dorset lived far to the north around Thule and Ellesmere Island whereas the Norse settled much more south, so warfare because only happened when vikings sailed for north on hunting parties (but it would perhaps be easier just to trade for ivory with the Dorset as the relationship between Norse and hunters were well established between Norse and Sami & Bjarmi (Samojed?) people in Scandinavia).
The Sagas tells of battles between Norse and “Skraelings“ In Greenland. It is likely battles between Norse and incoming Inuit people taking place as the Inuit expanding southwards and perhaps drove by warfare the Norse to extinction?
The people living in Greenland today are new immigrants that having been occupying North America more than 1000 years and so the same amount of time as Scandinavians whereas the Dorset people and it's ancestors was apparently genetically isolated for 4000 years in Greenland.
Source: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archi...-the-inuit

There are full Inuit armour made of walrus ivory in museums. Probably used bow and arrows or harpoons are weapons.
When people move around in small family units I think it's very likely everyone fought for survival when one group met another hostile group (both men, women and children). When raiding it would likely be the men as women would have to take care of the children while the men were away. The same likely happened between the canadian indians and the incoming inuit where it seems there are still bad blood between them today.

It has to be pointed out that warriors are something that doesn't seem to really exist from Stoneage Scandinavia. People had hunting skills and people also hunted other people with the same weapons. So kills were done when the other tribes were sleeping or by ambush. Good female hunters could have taken part as they were also victims.
A new study (only published in Danish) have shown that Denmark was extraordinary violent in both Stone Age and Neolithic (we all know it always was in Bronze age, Iron age and Viking age) with over 10% of all deaths being caused by kills that can be observed on the skulls (women often killed with crushing blows from behind as being clubbed while sleeping, men have mostly trauma caused by righthanded people onto the leftside temple). On Sjælland in the stone-age of all archaeological samples: It's 20% of all males and 12% of all females have had observable trauma on the bones after weapons (that's just enormous)!
Source: Fortidens Slagmarker. Krig og Konflikt fra Stenalder til Vikingetid. Jeannette Varberg, Gyldendal 2014.


Source: http://www.denblauwenswaen.nl/dbs3/public/ima...rsmose.jpg
Danish Stone age Porsmose skull. Man (35-40 years old) shot in the head (and also though the chest) from above and at close range. Perhaps someone hiding in a tree waiting???

Fighting on “battlefields“ between professional warriors are probably a result of bronze age martial ideology?! To be true it would have been dominated by male groups with the occasional female acting as a man?!

So I'm pretty much in agreement with you. I agree that women were not common in pitched battles, but it was not unthinkable in many cultures as it was in Athenian society. For hunter-gatherers I think women certainly fought in defense, while on offensive campaign it's uncertain but probably fairly rare. For Western Europe in the middle ages women might also choose to fight for their town as they know what to expect if their defenses were broken after a long siege!
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Women defending their homes are not necessarily warriors, and women helping to defend castles could simply be carrying rocks or arrow to the men, or sure, dropping stuff from the walls. I suspect that most women did know the basics of weapon use (reletive to the men in their social class!), but that did not mean they were at all trained, or used them with any frequency at all. We do know that some medieval women led forces and even wore armor or fought with weapons, but it's entirely possible to be an excellent general without ever touching a weapon or coming within bowshot of the enemy.

Spartan women never had to defend their homes, since Sparta was never attacked! There simply aren't any references to Greek or Roman women marching off to war as soldiers, though again, they could certainly have helped defend fortifications in extremis. But generally, what would be the point? If trained and armed killers are coming over the wall, a few girls chucking rocks are simply not going to do anything except make the invaders mad. They'd be better off heading out the back gate at high speed. I'm thinking more of a marching camp--obviously for a town under seige the options are more limited!

I'm also seeing some odd assumptions such as the woman would have to defend her farmhouse if her husband went off to war. That seems to assume that a "farmhouse" was home to ONLY one married couple and their 2.5 young children! Were not most households much more extended than that, and were not most farms at least loosely clustered into settlements? Such a settlement could easily send a number of warriors off somewhere and still have plenty of capable armed men for defense. Which is not to be saying I'd expect an easy time waltzing through the door of a Danish house if I knew that only the wife and her kids were inside! BUT it doesn't make the wife a warrior.

Be careful of assumptions! Even documented rarities do not make the rule.

Matthew
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Women defending their homes are not necessarily warriors, and women helping to defend castles could simply be carrying rocks or arrow to the men, or sure, dropping stuff from the walls. I suspect that most women did know the basics of weapon use (reletive to the men in their social class!), but that did not mean they were at all trained, or used them with any frequency at all. We do know that some medieval women led forces and even wore armor or fought with weapons, but it's entirely possible to be an excellent general without ever touching a weapon or coming within bowshot of the enemy.

Spartan women never had to defend their homes, since Sparta was never attacked! There simply aren't any references to Greek or Roman women marching off to war as soldiers, though again, they could certainly have helped defend fortifications in extremis. But generally, what would be the point? If trained and armed killers are coming over the wall, a few girls chucking rocks are simply not going to do anything except make the invaders mad. They'd be better off heading out the back gate at high speed. I'm thinking more of a marching camp--obviously for a town under seige the options are more limited!

I'm also seeing some odd assumptions such as the woman would have to defend her farmhouse if her husband went off to war. That seems to assume that a "farmhouse" was home to ONLY one married couple and their 2.5 young children! Were not most households much more extended than that, and were not most farms at least loosely clustered into settlements? Such a settlement could easily send a number of warriors off somewhere and still have plenty of capable armed men for defense. Which is not to be saying I'd expect an easy time waltzing through the door of a Danish house if I knew that only the wife and her kids were inside! BUT it doesn't make the wife a warrior.

Be careful of assumptions! Even documented rarities do not make the rule.

Matthew


Well most men weren't warriors either as they also only knew the basic of weapon warfare having to actually make a living in the world. .
Spartan women certainly learned martial skills and would have been able to fight IF Sparta had been under attack. They were probably better trained in martial arts than most non-spartan men in Greek cities. They would certainly be capable of more than throwing rock as they were trained in running, martial arts, chariot warfare and wrestling from early childhood.
Spartan women only trained their bodies, work was done by Helot slaves.
My point is that Spartan women with all likelihood had a more martial training than a citizen soldier of the Athenian Army!! Does that or does it not make them warriors??

It's very probable that Spartan, viking and scythian/sarmatian people simply had the notion that if both husband and wife were strong and skilled with weapons that offspring would be so as well. [basic observation of nature - if both your parents are very sporty and fit the greater chance of getting such an offspring, than if only your father is]. Though it's politically incorrect “breeding“ was certainly the norm in many warrior-elite societies and it was a cornerstone in Sparta that meant that women were polyandrous so to receive genes from the best men to bred many perfect Spartans.

So it's how we define a warrior - 1) someone trained with weapons, 2) someone actually seeing combat, or 3) only somebody that actually has it as an exclusive lifestyle doing nothing else?

If we go with the third option, then most men fighting in actual battles through history were NOT warriors either. Warriors were a very little aristocratic elite, but that doesn't mean that most men couldn't be summoned to fight and had learned martial skills to some extend at home.
During the middle ages you got with increase states more and more professionals (also mercenaries) as professional warriors, but before that it's was only very few. In clannish societies most men can fight, but only the Chief and his bodyguard would be actual warriors - the rest farmers or herders that still knew have to fight in basics.
An aristocratic female in some societies would likely have been trained to a greater extend than most males in that society (samurai females or Spartan women).
Some women in Viking Scandinavia were doing battle magic and they were seen as actual warriors in the society (valkyries). Seidr magic performed to knot the enemy and loosen their own - as in the Spearsong “Darradarljód“. So from that aspect THEY WERE WARRIORS as they were professional völva's/seidr-women often “hired“ (= receiving gifts) by Kings and Earls, if not fighting for their own family. Being a völva was a skill taught within families as Berserkers were a skill running in families.
NB: Receiving “pay“ in viking society made you a “thrall“. Free people received precious gifts, which they in the gift exchange system paid back with temporary loyalty. Stewards of the Kings Halls around Scandinavia called “Bryti“ were actually thralls, though they were likely very powerful locally. Most thralls had their own economy in viking society, but as they had no honour, they had no need for revenge. Eventually they could buy their freedom if they wanted to.
First with the Christian kings do you get “paid warriors“ with salaries for their job.

The only thing that disqualify females as warriors are nations that have soldiers which have to march long distances with a heavy backload on their shoulders....like a roman soldier. That is too hard for women in general, since their bodies are more designed to carry loads from their hips.
But as raiding parties on horseback, in guerilla warfare or as sea raider there is simply no difference. It's about skill level of weapon training from childhood. Even in modern times women participates naturally in war as on the eastern front in WW2 or in Israel's wars.
Women were pulled back from frontline in Israel, because it makes the men fight worse, as they naturally want to protect the women from harm and will surrender more easily if the female comrades are tortured before them.
So the conclusion is that in modern kind of warfare there is no difference in skill (unless you have to carry a lot of stuff). So in warfare that are not two huge marching armies of professional marching soldiers women are a natural fit in combat and most so called non-civilised people have practiced that kind of combat.

As I said earlier - modern HEMA has shown that strength really is not “that“ important. You can be a very good swordsman or spearfighter without be a bulging megaman.

So to conclude women have been fighting in wars and will continue to do so. Some have extensive training, but most have not and that in the same for men as well. Some places it was almost never happening, other places rare, for some it was more common (for instance some nomadic indo-european warrior societies).
But my point is that these women were likely socially men and dressed like men when fighting in offensive campaigns (viking shield-maidens and likely also Iranian-speaking nomads).
When women did most fighting it was likely in defense, but that doesn't mean they had no martial skills.
In that respect any garrison of males soldiers protected something are not warriors either........
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Well most men weren't warriors either as they also only knew the basic of weapon warfare having to actually make a living in the world. ...So it's how we define a warrior - 1) someone trained with weapons, 2) someone actually seeing combat, or 3) only somebody that actually has it as an exclusive lifestyle doing nothing else?


Hoo, boy--I don't see much point in bantering semantics, here, or we'll never get back to the original topic! Sure, we could distinguish warriors from soldiers and militia. What I'm saying is that in ancient and medieval Europe, the pattern and the norm was that women were not an official armed part of the military system. As a rule, there was no expectation that they would be trained or organized or levied or mustered, nor that they would equip themselves with weapons and armor, nor be equipped with such, in any normal day-to-day military situation. Heck, even most seiges did not end in a bloody storming of the walls and a fight to the bitter end! They were more often simple bets on how soon relief would arrive, and ended with either the attackers leaving, or the defenders surrendering peacefully.

There WERE women who participated in conflict--not necessarily fighting!--who were outside that pattern and norm. Very few, scattered through history.

Quote:
Spartan women certainly learned martial skills and would have been able to fight IF Sparta had been under attack. They were probably better trained in martial arts than most non-spartan men in Greek cities. They would certainly be capable of more than throwing rock as they were trained in running, martial arts, chariot warfare and wrestling from early childhood.
Spartan women only trained their bodies, work was done by Helot slaves.
My point is that Spartan women with all likelihood had a more martial training than a citizen soldier of the Athenian Army!! Does that or does it not make them warriors??


NO, it does not. Spartan GIRLS played in the gym--Spartan WOMEN ran their homes and raised children and wove cloth. At no time did they train to fight as hoplites nor in any other capacity. They were NOT part of any military organization--Athenian citizen males *were*. Practically all men of other Greek cities also trained their bodies up in the gym, in fact they'd continue that through adulthood. So at no point were Spartan women *superior*, physically, to Greek men.

Quote:
If we go with the third option, then most men fighting in actual battles through history were NOT warriors either.


Men typically did the fighting. Their societies dictated which ones needed what gear or had what obligations or rights, and drew up laws or regulations about levies, musters, organization, etc. Women were typically excluded from that.

Quote:
Some women in Viking Scandinavia were doing battle magic and they were seen as actual warriors in the society (valkyries). Seidr magic performed to knot the enemy and loosen their own - as in the Spearsong “Darradarljód“. So from that aspect THEY WERE WARRIORS as they were professional völva's/seidr-women often “hired“ (= receiving gifts) by Kings and Earls, if not fighting for their own family.


Huh, I clearly don't know that much about Norse society--I had thought that valkyries were the supernatural beings who carried the dead from the battlefield to Valhalla. But in any case, these women you mention sound like witches to me, not warriors at all. Were they a regular part of a levied force, or required on warships?

Quote:
The only thing that disqualify females as warriors are nations that have soldiers which have to march long distances with a heavy backload on their shoulders....like a roman soldier. That is too hard for women in general, since their bodies are more designed to carry loads from their hips.


And yet, plenty of societies that have not included long marches with backpacks have excluded women from military service!

Quote:
But my point is that these women were likely socially men and dressed like men when fighting in offensive campaigns (viking shield-maidens and likely also Iranian-speaking nomads).
When women did most fighting it was likely in defense, but that doesn't mean they had no martial skills.
In that respect any garrison of males soldiers protected something are not warriors either........


I think I've lost where you're trying to go. I *think* the topic started on an article about a half-dozen graves of (probably) women where we used to expect only men (i.e., the first wave of a migration). You can't turn these women into your definition of "warriors" by using a different definition to show that their men were not. And if women warriors were all that common in *any* culture, there would be no reason for them to become "socially men" when wearing trousers or armor--that sure as heck didn't happen in any culture I've studied! Maybe I missed something on that one?

Matthew
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Sep, 2014 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Spartan women never had to defend their homes, since Sparta was never attacked!


Pyrrhus attacked in 272 BC. But, as you said, there were enough men left to defend the city long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Ironically, in the next attack (on Argos after the siege on Lacedaemon had failed), Pyrrhus might have been killed by a woman who threw a brick or roof tile down upon his head.

Later on, the Romans under Flaminius attacked in 195 BC, and again this time there were enough men to defend the city for several weeks (although eventually the Romans managed to obtain a surrender).

Quote:
There simply aren't any references to Greek or Roman women marching off to war as soldiers,


No easily verifiable historical accounts, perhaps. If we're allowed to play more fast and loose by veering into the realm of mythical/legendary history, there were the Bacchae of Thebes (and I don't know whether women driven mad and given superhuman powers by a god really count as "soldiers.")
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