Freydís Eiríksdóttir

Summary

Freydis Eriksdottir (years of life and death unknown) is the only daughter of Viking Erik the Redhead, the discoverer of Greenland, and sister of Leif Eriksson, who discovered the coast of North America. The only medieval and primary sources in which Freydis is mentioned are the two Vinland Sagas: the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Erik the Redhead. Although there is some difference, both sagas describe Freydis Eriksdottir as a courageous and strong-willed woman.

Freydis is described as the native sister of Leif Erickson. This was the first saga written at the end of the twelfth century and is a rough version of the retelling of events that took place in Vinland. Freydis is mentioned only once in this saga. It is the best known account of Freydis.

After expeditions to Vinland led by Leif Eriksson, Torvald Eriksson, and Thorfinn Karlsefni, Freydis decides to sail to the shores of North America to gain prestige and wealth. She makes a deal with two Icelanders, brothers Helgi and Finnbogi, that they will sail together to Vinland and divide all the spoils in half. Freydis met with her brother Leif Eriksson and asked him to give her the houses and stables he had built in Vinland. Leif allowed her to use the houses, but refused to give them to his sister for good. The brothers Helgi and Finnbogi made an agreement with Freydis that they would take thirty men each capable of bearing arms on their two ships, not counting the women. But Freydis deceived the brothers and took five more men aboard her ship. The brothers Helgi and Finnbogi, in their ship, docked early and occupied Leif’s houses. When Freydis and her men disembarked on shore, she demanded that the brothers clear Leif’s houses, which the latter had allowed her to use. Helgi and Finnbogi and their men built themselves a separate house on the shore of the lake, separate from Freydis and her crew. They decided to stay for the winter in Vinland. Soon there was strife and discord between the members of both teams. Freydis met with Finnbogi and negotiated with him to exchange ships, telling him that she wanted to leave the place. When she returned to her husband Thorward, Freydis claimed that Helgi and Finnbogi’s brothers had beaten her and, calling him a coward, demanded that he avenge his wife, or she would divorce him. Thorward gathered his men and killed Helgi and Finnbogi and all their men in their camp as they slept. When Thorward refused to kill the five captive women, Freydis took an axe herself and killed them.

Freydis wanted to cover up her betrayal and threatened death to anyone who would tell about the murders. She returned to Greenland after a year’s stay and told her brother Leif Eriksson that Helgi and Finnbogi had decided to stay in Vinland. However, news of the murders eventually reached Leif. He ordered the three men from Freydis’ team to be captured and tortured until they confessed to everything that had happened. Leif Eriksson stated that he did not want to do to his sister Freydis what she deserved, but that he foresaw that Freydis’ descendants would not prosper. The Saga of the Greenlanders concludes that the descendants of Freydis subsequently had a bad reputation.

In the saga Freydis is described as the half-sister of Leif Eriksson. Written after the Saga of the Greenlanders in the 13th century, Freydis is portrayed as a fearless and protective Viking warrior. She joined the expedition to Vinland led by Thorfinn Karlsefni, but is mentioned only once in the saga when the expedition was attacked by natives (also known as Skröling in Icelandic). The natives surreptitiously attacked the expedition’s camp at night and shot the warriors with slingshots.

Many of the northern invaders panicked, having never seen such weapons. As the men began to retreat in disarray, Freydis, who was pregnant, tried to stop them from fleeing. Freydis picked up the sword of the fallen Thorbrand and decided to engage the attacking natives. She unbuttoned her robe, exposing one breast, and, striking the hilt of her sword in her chest, emitted a furious battle cry. The Skrelings retreated to their boats and scattered. Karlsefni and his warriors approached Freydis and praised her for her courage.

Sources

  1. Фрейдис Эриксдоттир
  2. Freydís Eiríksdóttir
  3. ^ Kunz, Keneva (2001). trans. “The Saga of the Greenlanders.” The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection. London: Penguin. pp. 648–52.
  4. Rubio, Salva and Stebba Ósk Ómarsdóttir, Vinland: La Saga de Freydís Eiríksdóttir, Thule Eds, 2015, ISBN 978-84-15357-68-1
  5. [1] Kapitel 12, Ende des 2. Absatzes der Erikssaga; englische Übersetzung nach John Sephton: Eirik the Red’s Saga: A translation. Marples, Liverpool 1880.
  6. ^ Saga di Erik il Rosso, su sagadb.org. URL consultato il 30 giugno 2010 (archiviato dall’url originale il 4 maggio 2016).
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