Although it is widely held that the House of Grimm was the first true sovereign power within Blackmarsh, there was a time between the defeat of the Amani occupants of the land and the emergence of Grimm superiority that in fact, small human settlements dotted much of the burgeoning Miasma that cloaked the land. These small communities were often led by elderly women who, through experiences with the marsh itself and knowing of the troll lore that came before them, were capable of curing many ailments. The modern day “bog witch” is a lineal descendent of these village elders.
During the time of village elders, Blackmarsh’s general population ascribed to the notion of female led belief systems, normally because the Miasma itself seemed to favor women over men. With the coming of the Grimmlords though, there was a slow shift away from this as the might of men replaced that of the marsh.
While it is not a very difficult thing to attribute a degree of misogyny to the Grimm Era, many of the notions held by the leaders of the time were based upon perceived utility over a preconceived notion of masculine superiority. Because more men became commanders and warriors, men were valued more by the thoroughly goal-oriented Grimms.
There was a shift in this rationale during the reign of Omthar Grimm, who with the usage of dark arts, managed to empower Blackmarsh’s miasma so that it might be used as a weapon. Omthar’s wife, Esilia Grimm, whose skill with necromancy was by no means middling, completed the first effective means by which to channel the Miasma through a person rather than borrowing from it as the primitive bog witches did.
The marshmancers greatly advanced the position of women within Grimm society, which in turn saw a rise in female leaders. The Battlemaidens of Blackmarsh to whom many of the Great Houses of Blackmarsh can relate back to were, it is theorized, all galvanized into action by the perception of female superiority as emphasized by marshmancy. Of the leaders of the era, only Magda of the Dawn is anachronistically attributed to worship of the Light. If this is because of revision by later scholars or Magda’s prophetic state as a harbinger of the Light it is not certain.
Expansion of LordaeronEdit
The period of Lordaeronian expansion was a gradual one, first signifying the fall of the House of Grimm and then, slowly, the emergence of Lordaeron as a regional power. Warfare between Lordaeron and Blackmarsh's natives was a harshly contested thing, with the Light of Lordaeron's clergy proving an effective deterrent against many of the marshmancers previously held as unstoppable opponents. As seen with the emergence of feminine equality at the behest of military prowess, with the sudden loss of prestige there came a reduction in authority as well.
Lordaeron's hold in Blackmarsh was tenuous in the beginning of its annexation and so regional lords were allowed to moderate the going-ons of their subordinates. A return to the Ways of Old and The Faith was a common theme, with both attempting to recapture the lost power of the witches of yore and the marshmancers that had once been so triumphant against their foes. Ultimately, it was the Albrechts and Pendletons that shaped gender roles in Blackmarsh with neither placing much faith in either of the older religions.
The practice of male preference cognatic primogeniture came into being toward the end of this era, which was officially signified with the elevation of Wilhelm Albrecht to the position of viscount.
Age of the LightEdit
The introduction of the Clergy of Lordaeron into Blackmarsh was begun, initially, as a vanity project by Wilhelm Albrecht who greatly despised the backwater and often clannish nature of the viscounty he had inherrited. It was in his attempt to culturally revolutionize the province that the Spring Campaign resulted, primarily as an attempt to protect the old, pseudo-matriarchal philosophies from the modernized, patriarichal ones.
Hadrian Albrecht, the son of Wilhelm and a survivor of the campaign saw the destructive power of the marshmancers and bog witches as being too much to be left in the hands of his subjects. So it was that he began the Black Purge, a gruelling campaign in which women that were either proven or claimed practitioners of "Dark Arts" were rounded up and killed. There were many brutal methods of death and the social ramifications were clear: women that did not live by virtuous standards deserved death by horrific ones.
Hadrian's tactics worked and with the Light's support for knighthood, quickly turned men into protectors and women into creatures that required protection from their own base natures. This "golden age" of the Light has been regarded by many as the true birthplace for misogyny within Blackmarsh, as the notion of chivalry codified the inferiority of women in the eyes of many.
It was not until the emergence of Madelynne Albrecht as the first viscountess, as she was the only surviving child of her father, that change in gender roles began to take effect. Lordaeron at large was becoming increasingly egalitarian, but Madelynne was initially loathe to change. Only after she chose to declare herself queen, in the wake of the House of Menethil's fall, were massive reforms made to increase the position of women in Blackmarsh.
Among the institutions that have been altered to better accomodate the role of women as equals to men have been: the Church of Lordaeron, the Dawnguard, and a newfound reverence for the Battlemaidens of Blackmarsh. Ultimately, these changes have allowed the position of women to be seen as close to equal as men, with the most sweeping the revocation of the male-preference for inheritence. Now, the mother's lineage also will impact the holdings of the child, permitting the succession of the throne to move evenly from mother to son, or mother to daughter without loss of power.