Morals are not only a value of great importance in today’s age, but they were also a value of great importance during the early eleventh century Vikings Age. What are morals? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines morals as something that is “considered right and good by most people : agreeing with a standard of right behavior.” The importance of morals in the Viking Age is shown in The Vinland Sagas. The Vinland Sagas is a book that has two sagas inside it called The Saga of the Greenlanders and Eirik the Red. Both sagas inform us of the Norse travels and attempt to colonize North America. They also tell stories of the different events that occurred during these travels. In The Vinland Sagas, translated by Keneva Kunz, the women were shown as individuals that have powerful religious, character, and family morals.
Morals were important and followed by the women in The Vinland Sagas. The first moral is to follow their religion. The Vinland Sagas talk about two religions: paganism and Christianity. The first religion talked about is paganism. In paganism, there are “Nine Noble Virtues” stated by the Patheos Library. One of these nine noble virtues is “Hospitality – kindness to strangers, travelers, and those who are in need” (Patheos Library). Gudrid follows this noble virtue in The Saga of the Greenlanders. Kunz translated, “A shadow fell across the doorway and a women entered, … Gudrid, Karlesefni’s wife, then motioned to her with her hand to sit down besides her …” (16). Even though Gudrid did not know this lady, she was still kind and welcomed her into her home, following the hospitality virtue of paganism.
The next religion that is talked about is Christianity. Throughout the saga, many people convert from paganism to Christianity. The women, especially Gudrid, found it easier to convert than most, if not all, men. In addition to following her pagan morals, Gudrid was also able to follow her Christian morals. In Eirik the Red, Gudrid is asked to participate in a pagan ceremony. However, she refuses because she now practices a new religion, Christianity: “These are the sort of actions in which I intend to take no part, because I am a Christian woman” (Kunz 32). Since Gudrid converted to Christianity, she does not want to be associated with paganism anymore, which is why she says that she wishes to not be a part of the ceremony.
Not only does Gudrid stick to her religious moral in Eirik the Red, Thjodhild does as well. Thjodhild builds a Christian church so that she is able to pray: “ … Thjodhild was quick to convert and had a church built … It was called Thjodhild’s church and there she prayed, along with those other people who converted to Christianity …” (Kunz 35). Since she was now a devoted Christian, she and other Christians needed a place to pray and that is why she built the church. Not only did she have a church built, but she also refused to sleep with her husband, Eirik the Red. Kunz renders, “After her conversion, Thjodhild refused to sleep with Eirik, much to his displeasure” (35). Since Eirik the Red was, as reworded by Kunz, “reluctant to give up his faith” (35), Thjodhild was reluctant to sleep with someone who was not Christian. Eirik the Red also did not agree with her conversion, so she did not agree to sleep with him. Therefore, Gudrid and Thjodhild both follow their religious morals, no matter what religion they were.
The next moral followed by the women in The Vinland Sagas is a character moral. I found this character moral to be loyalty. The women were or remained loyal to either their husband or boyfriend at that time. Gudrid’s husband, Thorstein, became very ill and died; however she did not leave his side. In The Saga of the Greenlanders, Kunz translates, “Gudrid had been sitting on a stool in front of the bench where her husband, Thorstein, had lain” (13). While Thorstein was sick, Gudrid could have easily left his side and not stayed with him, however…