Discover the incredible story of Freydis Eiriksdottir
Although the Viking civilization was forged by great men, the fact remains that Nordic women played a crucial role. In this respect, the Viking women warriors also made the battlefields tremble, especially the famous skjaldmö. And of all these women warriors, the story of Freydis Eiriksdottir is probably the most surprising.
Famous daughter of Erik the Red, she does not delay to walk on the steps of her father. Still very young, she participates in the discovery of Vinland and acquires the notoriety of terrible warrior. However, her ruthlessness will turn against her since it will give her the reputation of a traitor.
But before we get to that, let’s start by uncovering the story of the amazing Freydis Eiriksdottir. Find out how she went from a heroine to the forgotten traitor of history!
The Freydis legend: the skjaldmö with explorer’s blood
Freydis is the youngest daughter of the famous Viking chief Erik the Red. This great explorer is the Viking who founded the first Nordic colony outside Europe in Greenland. Only, before becoming the king and the Viking hero adulated by all, he was exiled from his native country.
Known to have a very angry character, Erik the Red committed an unforgivable act within the Nordic civilization. Indeed, after having killed a Viking, he was banished from his village in Iceland. During this period of 3 years, he embarked on an expedition to Greenland that will forever mark the history books.
It is during this journey that he met his only wife Thjodhild Jörundsdóttir, with whom he founded a humble family in Greenland. Thus, Freydis will grow up rocked by the exploits of her father.
In addition to bequeathing to her the precious legacy of an explorer, Freydis also inherits her father’s unstable and unpredictable character. Although this strong temperament will earn her the glorious title skjaldmö, the shield-wielding Viking warrior, it will ultimately lead to her downfall.
Who is Freydis Eiriksdottir?
Born in the year 970 AD, Freydis Eiriksdottir is the daughter of Erik the Red, but is not from his wife Thjodhild. In reality, this last one will give him only three sons Thorvald, Thorstein and the famous Leif Erikson.
Moreover, the name of Freydis’ mother remains unknown to this day. That is why historians assume that she is an illegitimate daughter of Erik Thorvaldsson and therefore she is only the half-sister of Leif Erikson.
Nevertheless, she had a relatively quiet childhood and grew up in the same household as her brothers. She even got along very well with her father and her older brother Leif. The proof is that her name “Eiriksdottir” means in Old Norse: Erik’s daughter.
Thus, over the years, she became a woman of strong character, even more courageous and fearless than the strongest Viking warriors. This is undoubtedly the reason why her husband Torvald is portrayed as weaker and less vigorous compared to Freydis.
In this respect, we find the first legend of Freydis in the saga of Erik the Red during the Vinland expedition. While she is 8 months pregnant, she does not hesitate to accompany her brother Leif Erikson and other prestigious Vikings.
Although this adventure marks the beginning of Freydis’ story, her tale remains one of the most mysterious in Viking mythology!
The story of Freydis Eiriksdottir
The mystery surrounding the history of Freydis is due to the fact that she is only mentioned a few times in the Nordic sagas. Indeed, although she comes from the prestigious lineage of Erik the Red, we only find her traces in two Nordic historical sources with very different accounts:
- The Saga of Erik the Red: it is a saga that traces the life of this hero. Written in the 13th century, we discover for the first time the 3 sons of Erik and his only daughter Freydis. This book focuses mainly on the adventures of Erik and those of his eldest son Leif. In this version, Freydis plays only a minor role.
- Grænlendinga saga : this book does not only focus on Erik the Red. It also tells the stories of the different Viking characters who participated in the discovery of Greenland and later of North America. We discover in this saga that Freydis participated in all the expeditions to Vinland.
Whatever the version, it is clear from these sagas that Freydis has a very temperamental nature. Indeed, she is described both as a brave warrior who can be very angry and ruthless.
Discovering Vinland and the New World
Growing up alongside his brothers and father, Freydis developed a taste for adventure and navigation. Thus, in the year 1001 AD, Leif Erikson, goes in search of blessed lands in the West. This is how he discovered a region that would correspond to Canada today, contrasting in every way with the climate and nature of the Nordic countries. He named it Vinland, because he found vineyards as far as the eye could see.
Three years later, his sister joined him on a new expedition. Only, unlike him, she did not come as a pacifist. Following unsuccessful trade, a conflict broke out between the Vikings and the Amerindians called “Skrælings”. According to many historical sources, the Freydis temperament was a major factor.
During this fight, the Skrælings quickly gained the advantage thanks to their new tools and weapons. Indeed, frightened by the noise of the catapults of their opponents, the Nordic warriors will flee.
However, Freydis is the only Viking who has the courage to stay on the battlefield. While she is 8 months pregnant, she continues the fight and repels an entire tribe of Skrælings.
The female warrior engages in a unique scene, to say the least. She brandishes her sword and strikes her chest while screaming Viking war songs in rage. Against all odds, this terrorizes the Indians and concludes the battle in favor of the Vikings.
This is how Freydis saves her people from a real bloodbath and becomes a skjaldmö.
Freydis the traitor
It is disappointed and full of bitterness that Freydis and the rest of her expedition return to Greenland. Jealous of the success of her other brothers overseas, she despises the leader of her group, Thorfinn Karlsefni.
She organizes an alliance with two Icelandic brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, to organize a new voyage to Vinland. From the start, they agreed to bring 50 men each, and then to share the gains equally. Freydis had asked her brother, Leif, to give her houses to establish a base from which they could move.
Unfortunately, the young Viking warrior was not entirely faithful to her partners. Right from the start, she fell behind in gathering more men than the others, and getting the upper hand on the rest. Once she arrived, she chased away the shippers from her team who had already settled in, on the grounds that as Leif’s sister, she deserved it more.
And things don’t stop there. When it was time to return, she planned a whole staging to take the earnings of the two brothers. She knocks herself out to complain to her husband that her cronies have turned against her.
Her husband suspects her scheme, but she threatens to leave him if he does not avenge her. A massacre occurs on the scene, and only five women are spared. Taken by a fit of rage, she decides to leave no witnesses, and finishes them off with her own hands. Moreover, she dares any member of her team to tell what had happened, under penalty of terrible reprisals.
In the end, Freydis believes she has committed the perfect crime, but the rest of the story does not necessarily go in her favor.
The fate of Erik the Red’s daughter
According to the legends of Norse mythology, nothing good ever happens to a Viking who breaks his word. But Freydis in her arrogance did not intend to keep her word from the beginning.
After the massacre she committed and yet another failure to found a village in Vinland, she returned to Greenland with her brother. Knowing his sister, Leif suspects that there is something wrong with her story. He decides to torture three of the men to reveal the truth of her betrayal.
Although he was angry, Leif could not bring himself to condemn her. So he decides to spare her, but predicts that Freydis and all her descendants will pay the consequences of her actions.
Only, one cannot be certain that fate has reserved for Freydis or her offspring. Indeed, no saga mentions her or her descendants after this episode. Perhaps this is proof that Leif’s prophecy has come true!
The role of Freydis in the cult series Vikings
After the death of Ragnar Lodbrok, his sons embark on a quest to exact their revenge on King Aelle of Nuthermeberie. After winning the famous battle of York, the great Viking Army takes many prisoners and slaves, including a beautiful and mysterious young woman. This is how we discover Freydis for the first time in season 5 of the series!
Although this representation is far from the historical character of Freydis, her role is no less colossal in the Michael Hirst series. From a slave to a queen, discover how she will bring about the downfall of King Ivar the Boneless
However, this was without counting on the Vikings series that brought this amazing warrior back to life in a whole new light. Without further ado, let’s discover who Freydis is in Vikings!
Lover, wife then traitor of king Ivar
Freydis is presented for the first time to Ivar as a slave to be sacrificed to the gods. Calm and without any anxiety, she obeys Ivar’s every order and ends up seducing him by flattering him. She whispers to him that after such a glorious victory, he must be the chosen one of the gods. Bewitched by her charm and her words, Ivar frees Freydis without ever knowing her name.
However, he is far from suspecting that this decision will completely change his future!
Shortly after Ivar’s victory against Lagertha, he meets the mysterious young woman again. This time, she finally reveals her name to him as Freydis, which looks strangely like the goddess Freyja. Ivar sees a sign from the gods, he asks her to become his confidante and decides to marry her.
This is how Freydis goes from a slave to a true Viking queen. However, an unfortunate fate awaits this brave and wise woman!
The unfortunate death of Freydis in the Vikings series
Ivar the boneless is one of the most complex characters of the series. Crippled and mistreated by fate, a new drama awaits him. Unable to procreate, Freydis does not hesitate to sleep with one of his servants to have a child.
The misfortune falls on the couple when the child is also born with a disability. Not wanting to repeat the mistake of his father, Ragnar Lodbrok, Ivar kills his newborn child to spare him a life of suffering. But Freydis goes into a rage and decides to take revenge on the murderer of his only son.
This is how season 5 of the series takes an unexpected turn. Motivated by his revenge, Freydis bequeaths himself to Björn Ironheart to kill Ivar. In a season finale full of twists and bloodshed, Freydis confesses his betrayal.
In the most intense scene of Vikings season 5, Ivar strangles him while crying. This time the roles are reversed and just like when they first met, he whispers to her that she will love him forever.
In any case, Freydis remains a colorful Viking character who has marked Nordic history. In spite of actions described as awful, this Viking is one of the first explorers and skjaldmö in history. Can we really judge her for trying to fit into such a brutal society!