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The Double Impact of Christianization for Women in Old Norse Culture
By Else Mundal
Gender and religion: European studies, eds. K. E. Børresen, S. Cabibbo and E. Specht (Carocci, 2001)
Abstract: The conversion to Christianity led to changes for everyone in Old Norse culture. Else Mundal considers changes to the status of women in the public sphere, the effects of marriage laws, and the ideas on the nature of woman. The question of whether Christianity resulted in an improvement, or a worsening of conditions for women in still open to debate.
In Old Norse source material, conversion to Christianity is always referred to as a significant event which divides history into the “before” and “after”. Although we acknowledge that Christian ideology was familiar in Old Norse society for a long time prior to the christianization when Christianity enjoyed the status of the whole sole accepted religion, the official transference to the new religion led to changes in daily life for both women and men from the very beginning. These changes became manifest, however, differently for women and men.