The Vikings and Homosexuality. Gunnora Hallakarva runs the Viking Answer Lady Pagea collection of essays on all sorts of aspects of Viking culture. She wrote this piece, which is a splendid summary of modern discussion on Viking homosexuality, and gave permission for its inclusion at the People With a History site.
There are no recorded instances of homosexual or lesbian couples in the Viking Age: One's sexual partners mattered little so long as one married, had children, and conformed at least on the surface to societal norms so as not to disturb the community. Those Scandinavians who attempted to avoid marriage because of their sexuality were penalized in law: The evidence of the sagas and laws shows Homosexuality norse culture male homosexuality was regarded in two lights: It must be remembered, however, that the laws and sagas reflect the Homosexuality norse culture consciousness of the Icelander or Norwegian of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, well after the pagan period.
The myths and legends show that honored gods and heroes were believed to have taken part in homosexual acts, which may indicate that pre-Christian Viking Scandinavia was more tolerant of homosexuality, and history is altogether silent as to the practice of lesbianism in the Viking Age.
The secular laws of Viking Age Iceland do not mention homosexuality. The only place where homosexuality is documentably prohibited is by the Christian Church. Homosexuality norse culture Icelandic Homily Book ca. Homosexuality was not regarded by the Viking peoples as Homosexuality norse culture evil, perverted, innately against the laws of nature or any of the other baggage about the concept that Christian belief has provided Western culture.
Rather, it was felt that a man who subjected himself to another in sexual affairs would do the same in other areas, being a follower rather than a leader, and allowing others to do his thinking or fighting for him.
Thus, homosexual sex was not what was condemned, but Homosexuality norse culture the failure to stand for one's self and make one's own decisions, to fight one's own fights, which went directly against the Nordic ethic of self-reliance.
Being used homosexually by another man was equated with cowardice because of the custom of sexual aggression against vanquished foes. In addition to rape, defeated enemies were frequently castrated, again testified to in several places Homosexuality norse culture Sturlunga saga. It is not known how widespread the practice of raping defeated foes actually was, or if it existed before the advent of Christianity, but in other cultures which have had as strong an ethic of masculine aggression as existed among the Vikings, the rape of defeated foemen was obligatory.
The attitude that homosexual usage of an enemy was a means of humiliation in turn would have weighed heavily against men in homosexual relationships: It is interesting to note that the Vikings considered that old age caused a man to become argr.
For a man who could not have children whether due to impotence, sterility, age, etc. There is ample documentation of homosexuality in insults. Judging by the literature, the Vikings were the "rednecks" of medieval Europe The end result would be a big axe in your head instead of a big cowboy boot in your Homosexuality norse culture, but the idea is the same. Concerning terms of abuse or insult.
There are words which are considered terms of abuse. Then there are three terms which occasion bringing such a serious suit against a man that they are worthy to outlaw him.