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Social Structure of the Vikings


The chieftain.


The freemen.

The Chieftain The chieftain was the most important person in his part of land. He owned all the land but got help from slaves, his sons, and from his wife. He had a lot of money and went raiding other countries every summer, and came back with loot and slaves. In this time his wife looked after the farm. The Chieftain could often not read or write.

(Read about excavation of Chieftain's house in Norway.)

The Chieftain 's Wife She stayed home and looked after the farm when her husband was away. She spun, weaved, cooked, brewed very strong beer and taught her daughter to cook. She could read and write. She got married at the age of 16.

The Eldest Son The eldest son inherited all of his fathers land and money when his father died. All of his younger brothers would have to go and find their own land.

The Freeman Many freemen worked on farms. They did not own any land, but the chieftain allowed them to live on his land in return for their held with ship building, melting iron and farming.

The Blacksmith Blacksmiths were the most important freeman. They were very skilled and made beautiful jewellery, weapons, ship building tools and pots 'n' pans.

The TradesmanThe tradesmen went to the trading villages to trade their goods which were either stolen treasures, boats, animals, crops or slaves.

The Slaves Slaves did all the dirty work such as digging for iron and so. Normally a chieftain had around 12 slaves, but when he went raiding he captured more. Slaves were never allowed to carry any weapons.


The chieftain's wife


The blacksmith. Click on the image for a picture.

[Read more about Viking Social Organisation from another site.]



Pages Created: Wednesday, 10-September-97
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