How much were two women worth in 11th century Iberia? For the Vikings the price was a blanket of wolf skin, a sword, a shirt, three scarves, a cow and some salt.

This fascinating story is part of research done by Helio Pires from the New University of Lisbon. His article, Money for Freedom: Ransom Paying to Vikings in Western Iberia, appears in the latest issue of Viking and Medieval Scandinavia.

Pires article examines the taking of prisoners and collecting of ransoms by Vikings on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula. He was able to uncover two documents, dating from the first half of the 11th century, where people described the payments they made to Vikings to return family members.

In the first case, Amarelo Mestaliz writes about how in 1015 a band of Normans came up the Douro River, where they looted and took captives for nine months. There they captured three daughters of mine, Amarelo, and [I] was left poor. The Normans started selling all their captives. Those daughters of Amarelo [were] called Serili, Ermesienda, Faquilo, and I did not have anything to give for them to the Normans. The document goes on about how Amarelo received help from a woman named Froila Tructesindiz, who loaned him fifteen silver solidos, which Pires believes was the ransom amount. Two years later, Amarelo repaid Froila after selling some of his goods.