The standard history popularized in the 19th Century tells us that only men were Viking Warriors. They did trading, fought wars, and treated women in a poor manner.
But, Norse mythology and now science tells us differently.
History does teach us that Norse women were much more liberated than other women at that time. They had the chance to enjoy social freedom.
They could own property, conduct business, get a divorce, and gain custody of their children. And, Norse folklore and mythology claim that women were also fierce warriors. Poems and stories feature weapon-wielding women called shield maidens.
The female Vikings are mostly mentioned by Snorri Sturluson in the 12th and 13th Century Iceland Sagas. And, some are mentioned in the writings of historical and semi-historical writers.
Here are the top 10 female Viking warriors in descending order:
10. Freydis Eiriksdottir
Born to: Erick the Red
Freydis Eiriksdottir was a daughter of a very controversial Viking Erick the Red. She was a shieldmaiden, fierce explorer with the hunter’s mentality and was tough and braver than many male Vikings of her time.
Freydis was pregnant at the time of the journey towards her fight. Despite her pregnancy, she did not stop fighting together with her brother Lief Eiriksson and their followers.
Freydis has been associated with two Norse Sagas, one known as ‘ The Saga of the Greenlanders’ and the other known as ‘ The Saga of Erik the Red.’
These two Sagas have her portrayed as a woman with two different personas.
According to Greenland saga, she was known to be an evil, greedy, cunning, and a bad woman. It was believed that she married her husband for money and used him as a medium to get her work done.
The saga of Erik the Red takes her as a hero for being fierce, tough, and for defending everyone during an attack by North Americans.
9. Brynhild Buðladóttir
Born to: King Buðli
Brynhild Buðladóttir, daughter of King Buðli, was popular because of her honesty and bravery. She was the most popular fearless and courageous Valkyries.
Though Brynhild was in love with a man named Sigurd, she was forced to marry Gunnar against her will. It is believed that Sigurd was given a potion, which made him forget about incidents that took place in his previous life.
Brynhild was a straightforward woman, who was fully against unfair deeds. So, she ordered her husband Gunnar to kill Sigurd, as he had betrayed her. At the time of Sigurd’s death, Brynhild laid down beside him and burned herself with him.
Later she was burnt in a carriage covered with pretty blankets and flowers.
Married to: Viking Ragnar Lothbrok
Lagertha was a shieldmaiden and a member of the royal house who was captured and enslaved by the King of Sweden after defeating the King of Norway. She was also known as the victorious shieldmaiden.
She was released by Ragnar and fought alongside him and his men. She was a fierce, brave, and courageous Viking, who helped in gaining the victory for Ragnar.
Her whole life is portrayed not as a historical woman but as a warrior woman. She was also described as a skilled amazon for her mental and physical qualities like of a Viking.
After Ragnor brought his new wife, Aslaug, to his home and asked Lagertha to treat Aslaug, as her sister. Lagertha denied and killed Ragnor. She took over the throne, though Ivor, son of Ragnor, was to claim for it.
She died in the mid 9th Century.
Born to: Viking Warrior Heidrek
Hervor, daughter of a great Viking Warrior Heidrek, was the Gothi commander. She was a powerful shieldmaiden with courage and skill.
Her father died before her birth, so from an early age, she started learning horsemanship, sword-fighting, archery and started fighting-beating the boys of her neighbourhood.
Later, as Hervor was able to win her first battle, she got a chance to lead her village’s raiding party. With the practice, soon became perfect at raiding and looted many villages along with her raiding party.
Born to: King Harald
Veborg, daughter of King Harald, was known as Wigbiorg or Webiorg. She was a powerful and courageous warrior.
The Viceroy King Sigurd, who was appointed by King Harald, was wanting to unite smaller kingdoms of Sweden into one.
Veborg along with 300 other shieldmaidens fought against, King Sigurd. She took the side of her father, King Hallard, who wanted to keep Sweden under many small kingdoms.
During this battle, Ubbe – warrior of King Harald, was killed by Starke – warrior of Sigurd. Veborg then cut Starke’s jaw off but could not kill him as he escaped.
Veborg was killed by Thorkell, a stubborn warrior. He was able to defeat her after a long-struggling fight which included multiple wounds and verbal argues.
5. ShieldMaidens, Valkyries & Heroines
ShieldMaidens were the mortal warrior women, who took armour to fight in the battle together with men.
Valkyries, as women-warriors, were an inspiration to every poet of that era. They were interesting characters during the Viking age. They were also known as shieldmaidens, swan-maidens, wish- maidens, and battle-maidens.
The most famous Valkyries are Brynhild, Gudrun, and Sigrun. Whereas the well-known swan-maidens are Alvit, Svanhvit, and Olrun.
They were given the task of killing a dragon or selecting slain warriors, who had been wounded during a battle.
These Valkyries were able to fly as they used to wear garments of swan feathers. So, they were known as swan-maidens They used to carry the slain warriors while taking them to the Valhalla hall.
Born to: Frost Giant Thiazzi
Skadi, daughter of frost giant Thiazi, was also known as the goddess of winters, skiing, and hunting. Her father, Thiazi, was killed by the god of Asgard ( Thor ).
As there were no male Vikings to avenge Skadi’s father’s death, she took all the weapons along with the helmet and went to Asgard to attack.
During her visit to Asgard, she was asked to marry anyone of the gods by looking at their feet. She got married to Njord. Their married life was not successful.
Skadi was the stepmother of two most valued Norse gods: Freyja and Freyr. Her death is still a mystery to this day.
Born to: Njord
Freyja, daughter of Njord and his sister Nerthus, was a goddess of beauty, fertility, love, sex, death, luck, and war. She was the most popular Norse goddess.
Being a goddess of fertility, love, health, and wealth, Vikings used to appeal to her for their stable married life, healthy children, and good harvests.
Freyja was a defender of weddings and love -affairs. She was known as Gefn, meaning a giver and was also well-known for her magic tricks.
It is believed that Freyja cried tears of gold as she went in search of her lost husband. She was the mother of two daughters: Hnoss ( preciousness ) and Gersimi ( treasure ).
2. Sigrid the Proud
Born to: Skogul -Tosti
Sigrid the Proud, daughter of a powerful nobleman of Sweden Skogul – Tosti, is also known as Sigrid the Haughty.
Sigrid was a stubborn warrior who loved to live her life on her own. She never followed other’s rules rather made others follow hers.
Sigrid got married to King of Sweden, Erik the Victorious. Soon after his death, she took over the throne and reign alone.
It is also believed that she burned two of her suitors, recognizing that they were after her only because of her wealth and land.
She was again asked to marry by Olaf Tryggvason who forced her to change to Christianity. As she refused to do so, he insulted her in front of everyone by slapping her.
Sigrid then got married to Sweyn Forkbeard and said to have killed Olaf in the Battle of Svolder. Though, there were rumors that he was still spotted by people all around, even decades after his death.
Also Read: Top 10 Famous Pirates in the history
1. Olga of Kiev
Married to: Igor of Kiev
Olga of Kiev, married to Igor of Kiev, is also known as St.Olga of Kievan Russia. After the death of her husband by the Drevlian Tribe, she was only focused on avenging them.
She tricked some of the Drevlian by taking them on a boat as an act of honouring and then buried them into a pit.
She again tricked some other Drevlian by calling them for a dinner and burned the house they were in.
For the remaining Drevlian, she invited them for a drink and asked her soldiers to kill them all.
Olga the Kiev had two children named: Sviatoslav I of Kiev and Uleb Iorevich. It is said that she, died on July 11, 969 AD at Kyiv, Ukraine.
Despite all of the details about these warrior women, female Vikings or their sagas, are taken as unrealistic events. They are considered as the events of magics or myths which cannot be relied upon.
Though it is believed that there are no or very little scientific pieces of evidence of the existence of strong, courageous female warriors, goddesses, Vikings, or deities in the present day. We could still find various mythology or literature about them in the past.
As we go with the literature of the ancient civilization, there were deities with powers. Such as Minerva, Fortuna: who could tell about the luck of a person. The homes of the Vikings were managed by the skill work of women.
Wars during the Viking age were basically fought using axes, swords, and spears. Women somehow were compelled to take part in such wars with weapons of their comfort.
Even after the Evolution of Christianity that started denying women’s rights and equality. Warriors like Brynhild or Hervor were worshipped by women doing household works, thinking that even women could be so courageous and powerful compared to males.