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Gisela: And also this girl whom Sihtric loves, you will not belittle her.

Guhtred: She is an alehouse whore.

Gisela: And what is Aethelflaed? What is a peace-cow if not a whore?

Note: Aethelfaed is the daughter of a King.

In an episode of The Last Kingdom from season 2 of the show, one of the characters said peace-cow which I stated above, and I do not understand what is the meaning of it.

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  • From context I'd guess it's a disparaging term for someone who was traded (like a piece of livestock) off to be married for a peace offering, possibly with some Biblical connotations, but it's not a common English idiom. Mar 19 '21 at 20:31
  • Did you really believe that you were sent away to form an alliance with Angelynd, a nation that was brought to its knees by a sixteen-year-old boy? No, you were not sent away to be a peace cow. Mar 20 '21 at 18:18
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Not a common expression.

It seems, from reading more of the transcript, that a "peace cow" is an insulting term for girl (perhaps a princess) who is given in marriage to another kingdom in the hope of securing peace between the kingdoms. The transcript continues:

She will marry and be humped by a man she does not know and for a price.

So the speaker is suggesting that a princess who is married for convenience to a prince from another kingdom is no better than a prostitute. The speaker insults, the girl, the girl's father and the prince who will marry her in this sentence.

But this is not a common concept or idiom in English, and I can only understand it from the context.

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  • I would suggest that this sentence is incorrect "who is offered in marriage to another kingdom in the hope of securing peace" Why, she would be referred to by the "offering party as Princess" It would be the receiving party", or at least their supporters who would use derogatory terms. Therefore I suggest the sentence should read "who has been given in marriage, as a token of peace, by a defeated adversary"
    – Brad
    Mar 20 '21 at 1:26
  • I;ve changed it to given. I don't know about defeated parties, and my reading here is that the comment is as much about personal jealousy as political manoeverings. I don't think it makes much difference to the answer. The princess is the metaphorical "peace cow"
    – James K
    Mar 20 '21 at 6:43

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