Medieval Masculinity In The Middle Ages

4701 Words19 Pages
In 1990, Fordham University hosted a conference on gender and medieval society, focusing on the issue of feminist studies as a frame from which medieval ideas of “manhood” are approached. In 1994, Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages was published as a result of that conference. A number of researchers contributed essays on the changes in definitions of masculinity during the medieval period, and looking at masculinity as another lens through which gender is to be approached, rather than a normative state to compare against in relating the lives of women in society. The focus was on demonstrating that the dominance of male oriented history did not just sublimate and ignore women but to a larege extend did the same thing…show more content…
Unna is presented in the saga solely in terms of her marital eligibility. She is acceptable, good looking, well brought up, and in short a good match to any man on the Island. The men around her such as her father, the husband to be Hrutr, and his half-brother Hoskuldr organize the union and there is no mention of Unna being consulted for her opinion in this process. Unna, at this point, is portrayed as powerless to give her opinion. "I have a bargain to speak to thee about; Hrut wishes to become thy son-in-law, and buy thy daughter, and I, for my part, will not be sparing in the mattes.” Then, at the wedding feast, she is described as low spirited. A case can be created for her low spirits as Unna attempts to explain to her father the failings within her marriage only to be silenced the moment opposition arises in the form of Hrutr demanding for her to cite a legitimate complaint. At a later time Unna is finally able to give voice to her concerns and is granted a divorce when Hrutr’s inability to consummate the marriage comes to…show more content…
“Tongue-Odd had an aunt called Kjolvor, who lived at Kjolvararstead.” “A woman named Arinbjorg lived at Arinbjorg Brook. …A woman called Thorunn lived at Thorunnarholt. She owned land down as far as Vidi Brook and up to the part belonging to Thurid the Prophetess… Thorunnar Pool in Thver River takes its name after her….” The appearance of woman settlers, the record of mothers with no matching records of a husband, and the supernatural power of women recorded in Landnám all indicate a Germanic and Icelandic appreciation for their female ancestors. “Icelandic sagas granted women fresh lands in imitation of men, but soon settled them down as wives and mothers.” While the great majority of settlers and figures in Landnám are male, there are enough women in the text to hint at a belief in their importance in the settlement of the country. Just as in Landnám, it is worth analyzing the appearance of all women within the sagas as an indicator of thirteenth century Icelandic gender

More about Medieval Masculinity In The Middle Ages

Open Document