Civilized as the Vikings might be, they could not escape the class of slave and the deeds of slave trading. In the social structure of the Vikings, slaves were in the lowest rank. The Viking Slaves might be traded for money or products.
(Viking Slave Trade)
Ways to Become a Viking Slave
As far as the accounts retold, there were three main ways for a person to become a Viking slave:
- Born as a slave. Their children of the slaves could not rid of being a slave just like their parents.
- Captured in war. According to the old way of thinking, anyone who was captured in battle had been offered an excellent gift: their life, which he had to pay back an excellent gift: their freedom.
- Go bankrupt. When someone became poor and what they got was their freedom, they had to trade their freedom for fulfilling their fundamental material needs. This was common when a person got heavily in debts and his freedom was the only thing that he could offer his creditor.
Rights for Viking Slave?
If you are wondering whether the Viking slave got any right, no need to sleep on it. The answer is, no, they don’t.
In the Viking age, slaves were seen as advanced domestic animals. They lived in the darkest corner of the longhouse with the cattle. If the slaves misbehaved or did not behave like the way their master expected, they would get beaten. The life of the slave was in the hand of their masters who could punish their slaves as much as he wanted.
However, there were cases that the Viking slaves were respected. If the female slaves were beautiful enough to win any soul, they stood a chance of living in a good condition. The same situation happened to the male slaves who were the skillful craftsmen.
Slave Freed and Sacrificed
The most common or maybe the only one way for a Viking slave to be freed was their mastering giving them the freedom. Only when their master decided to let them go could they live the life of their own.
One Viking custom full of horror was the slave sacrifice with the death of the master. Specifically, when the master passed away, the Viking slave must be buried either on land or sea with their master. This was because the Vikings believed the slaves would escort their master to the afterlife where they again would serve their masters.
(Viking slaves sacrifice buried with masters)
READ MORE ABOUT VIKING SOCIAL STRUCTURE HERE