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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 31 "...Than The Water Of The Womb"

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Book I, Chapter 31

However, while the social caste system and universal literacy were the areas in which Berk most drastically differed from other Norse cultures at the time, other, more subtle, differences lay in wait. Perhaps the most paramount of these was Berk's degree of gender-based legal equality; while Norse cultures generally were significantly more advanced than their contemporaries in Europe in this regard, Berk's legal codes differed significantly from that starting base. While Norse women could divorce and were able to inherit property and participate in combat, Hooligan women could also hold titles in their own names, purchase property, engage in commerce and lawsuits, vote in tribal Things, travel without a chaperon, and held other rights that were disallowed even in the most progressive Norse societies elsewhere.

This resulted in significant confusion to those interacting with and attempting to influence and control Berk's Norse. There were numerous cases where the assumption that the legal codes were effectively identical ran into the reality that they were not, exacerbated by the fact that the Hooligans used the same terms for different concepts.

Perhaps the best case of this is in the Hooligan "concubinage" structure, which had been comprehensively reformed in the 960s AD during the Chiefdom of Hiccup Haddock II. During these reforms, the concept was changed from a system of acknowledged lovers for a man in an arranged marriage to a legal definition of a temporary civil partnership that would expire after a given period unless renewed by the will of both parties. This civil partnership was designed to offer significant protections and legal guarantees for the woman (or, significantly more rarely, the man) thus attached. The intent of these reforms were to correct previous abuses that had grown with the concubinage system since the prior reforms after the outlawing of thralldom in the late 800s AD—specifically, that the wives, as head of the domestic household, were exploiting concubines and their children, who typically could not leave, even in the face of a failed relationship, without facing poverty.

As a result, the reforms attempted to financially incentivize peace and functional relationships in these polygamous households, by requiring the formal adoption of the (typically clanless) concubine into the clan, as well as their children, and the guarantee of a marriage price to be paid by the concubine-holder on behalf of their former partner in the event that their partner wished to marry someone else. And yet, the Hooligans still called this system by the old term of "concubinage."

This and other such areas of confusion of legal terminology caused problems for the machinations of, among others, the Norwegian jarls and the Catholic Church.

The Second Flowering Of Yggdrasil: An Analysis Of The Norse Resurgence, 1710


Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Anticipation for the gifts aside, Astrid is more excited over getting back into bed after she gets her morning gifts. Astrid even plans on breaking her aunt Badgerwit's record, Badgerwit having two husbands.note 
  • Realpolitik: It is not until after they went through with the ceremony does Magnus realize that Father Henriksson has essentially tricked Wulfhild into marrying Hiccup in a Christian Wedding, her not knowing that the Church had outlawed polygamy and delegitimizing his marriage to Astrid due to the church not recognizing pagan rites and thus complicating the political circus even further. Magnus and Wulfhild are forced into secrecy lest Berk takes it as a personal insult.
  • Win Her a Prize: As is tradition, Hiccup has prepared morning gifts for Astrid as payment for her giving him her virginity (which is months overdue in their case). Such gifts include a custom-crossbow, a flaming axe, a prototype flight-suit, treasure, a custom-made gold arm-band and legal co-ownership of the Haddock clan's herd of dragons.


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