In order to bind men together and ensure peace, Germanic women of the highest rank sometimes served as peace pledges and were trafficked in marital exchange. Analysis of the women in The Wife's Lament, Wulf and Eadwacer, Beowulf, and Volsungasaga elucidates the political implications of such exchanges. This essay answers anthropologist Gayle Rubin's call for further exploration of traffic in women in her 1975 article "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex" and also acknowledges Karen Newman's challenge that feminists expand Rubin's paradigm to consider how women might function beyond the role of object. In fact, Germanic women had a number of possible responses to marital exchanges and could find ways to assert their influence as mothers and diplomats by king-making, or king-breaking, in their new husbands' homes. (CPJ)


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pp. 13-36
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