Thursday, January 15, 2015

Michelle Styles: Shield Maidens -- Legend or Fact? plus giveaway

For many years, various historians and archaeologists have doubted if Viking shield maidens actually existed. Women warriors who fought along side and sometimes commanded men.  In fact, the first English woman mentioned in any context is a warrior – she objected to be jilted, hunted down her man and married him after some persuasion. True the archaeologists would say, the various sagas and legends speak of them but… women didn’t actually do such things.  As proof they would cite no grave had been found with both women’s brooches and weaponry together.  This was supposed to be the end of the argument.
Very recently, they started DNA testing bones found in various Viking cemeteries. Perhaps to the surprise of the male archaeologists, they discovered that some of the graves designated as male because of the weaponry actually had female bones  in them! The type of weaponry found in these graves was mostly throwing spears or bows and arrows — items which women could actually use with ease. Because of the differences in upper body strength, the broad sword can be difficult for most women to use effectively.
So it does look like there were female warriors after all.  But why no both items? The sagas  which mention shield maidens and women warriors make it very clear  that there is a difference. Women warriors do not do feminine or peace weaver things. In other words, women had a choice they could be warriors or they could be wives. The word wife in Old English literally means one who weaves. And a wife wove the fabric of a family together. 
Could a shield maiden ever become a wife? The sagas do speak of this but often it seems she does not continue her warring ways. However her husband can sometimes count her advice for strategy. T this stage, I would assume, she would be buried with her spinning whorls, brooches and other accouterments of female power over the household.

Anyway, as I wrote TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN before some of this DNA evidence started becoming widely available, I was very pleased that the archaeological record is now showing something that I felt to be true.

And because TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN will be published on 20 January, I wanted to offer the Tote Bags Readers a chance to win a signed copy of TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN (void where prohibited) . Please send the answer to the following question: 
What are the names of the hero and heroine of TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN to  before Wednesday 20 January 2015.
You can read an excerpt here

UPDATE: I drew Denise's name out of the hat and will post off her copy later today. Many thanks to all who entered.
The sea-king's warrior bride 
Legendary shield maiden Sayrid Avildottar will marry no man unless he first defeats her in combat. And in powerful sea-king Hrolf Eymundsson she has finally met her match. 
Hrolf may have won her lands—and her body—but can Sayrid welcome a stranger to her bed? The world of fighting is all she knows! With a husband intent on seducing his new bride, perhaps, just this once, Sayrid will discover that surrender can bring the greatest pleasure of all…

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN is out on 20 January. To learn more about Michelle and her books please visit 


Carol L. said...

I think I lost my first comment. I have always enjoyed your books Michelle. I'm looking forward to reading Taming His Viking Woman. Thanks for your post. Really interesting.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

dstoutholcomb said...

nice teaser for the book

Michelle Styles said...

Thank you both for your comments.