12/02/2008

Women of the week - Sigrid Storråda

Name: Sigrid Storråda
Born: Circa 955(?), Sweden
Died: Circa 1010(?)
Married to: 1. Erik Segersäll
2. Svend Tveskägg (Fork-beard)
Children: At least three sons
Occupation: Queen

To be quite honest, the authenticity of this woman has been disputed, and the jury is still out on whether or not she really existed - but today's historians generally seem to believe there might be some truth to her existence.

Sigrid is mentioned in the Icelandic sagas, but not Adam of Bremen who lived closer in time (but perhaps could not always keep straight the complicated family relations among the Nordic kings) - but how much of what is written there is a historical truth is open for debate.

She is supposed to have been the daughter of a local noble man, Skoglar Toste, but her birth-date is unknown. Somewhere around 975 she married the Swedish king Erik Segersäll (the victorious) and with him she got a couple, or so, children - among them Olof, who would later get the epithet Skötkonung (the meaning of this word is unclear). But Erik was not happy with his wife and divorced her - for unknown reasons, it was obviously not because she could not have children. She would later remarry, this time the king of Denmark Svend Fork-beard, and is supposed to be the mother of Canute the Great.

A couple of legends connected to Sigrid includes one that says that she was engaged to be married to Olav I of Norway. But things came to an end when she told him that she refused to become a Christian. He then hit her and said he refused to marry a heathen. After this she became a bitter enemy of the man and persuaded both her second husband and her son Olof to go to war against Olav - which would eventually end with the death of the Norwegian king. It is unclear if it should be seen as a twist of irony or a sign that the story really can not be true, since her own son was the first Swedish king to become Christian (and remain that till his death). Another story tells about how Sigrid, after being divorced from her first husband, got courted by minor kings - which annoyed her and in the end she had a couple of them killed through burning down the house they were staying in. That kept unwanted suitors away from her - though obviously not Svend.

Her epithet 'Storråda' means the one that makes great plans. In English she is often referred to as 'the Haughty' - based on her actions.

4 comments:

Nan Hawthorne said...

May I reprint this story of Sigrid Storråda in Random Biographies http://radnombios.blogspot.com with full credit to you?

DameBoudicca said...

Sure!

Nan Hawthorne said...

Thanks! I will also add your blog to Historical Blogs: Fiction & Fact http://historicalnovelblogs.blogspot.com - you are an archeologist?! i am green with envy.

Nan Hawthorne said...

Thanks so much.. also just added your blog to http://historicalnovelblogs.blogspot.com