Martin Luther King, Junior (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
“Wake early if you want another man’s life or land. No lamb for the lazy wolf.
No battle’s won in bed. “
– The Havamal or Book of Viking Wisdom
The legend of Blenda (also known as Blendasägnen) tells us of the nobel viking heroine Blenda, who allegedly rallied up hundreds of women from the towns of Konga, Albo, Kinnevald, Norrvidinge and Uppvidinge to form an army and brutally kill Danish warriors.
Lagertha Lothbrok played by actress Katheryn Winnick in the History Channel show Vikings.
According to the legend, the events took place in the time of Alle, King of the Geats (A-S Ælla), when this king lead the Geats in an attack against Norway (approximately between 500 – 750 B.C.).
King Alle had marshalled not only the West Geats, but also the South Geats (or Riding Geats) of Småland, and so many men had left for Norway that the region was virtually defenseless. When the Danes learned of their fragile stituation, they took advantage of it and attacked the defenseless small lands. It was then that Blenda, who was also a woman of noble descent, gathered the women armies on the Brávellir (Central of East Götaland according to Norse Mythology) and first seduced the Danish men by hosting a large banquet with wine, bread and a great deal of flattery before killing them in their sleep using weapons such as axes and staffs.
When Alle, King of the Geats (King of Sweden) returned he was so impressed by Blenda and her female army that he granted new rights for the women, which included both political and social rights such as equal inheritance (property, money and land) with their brothers and husbands, the right always to wear a belt around their waists as a sign of eternal vigilance, the right to beat the drum at weddings, and more. They were also given the prestigious right to wear the Royal Coat of Arms on their clothing – a tradition that has lasted to this day. Blenda is still recognized as a national hero in Sweden.
The legend of Blenda probably found it’s origins during the Battle of Brávellir (or Bravalla) in 750, where hundreds of women participated in the bloodshed. During this period in time it was not uncommon for women to fight in battle. Sweden had many legends such as the Valkyries, Shieldmaidens, Norns and Dís that spoke of such women. Sweden was Christianized from Norse Paganism in the 11th century.
From the Middle Ages until 1974, the King of Sweden claimed the title king of the Geats as “King of Sweden and Geats/Goths” or “Rex Sweorum et Gothorum”. The Danish monarchs used the similar title “King of the Goths” from 1362 until 1972.
Want to know more about Norse Mythology? Check out this documentary by the BBC on The Viking Sagas:
“Nor hold thou no other flower in such dainty
As the fresh Rose, of colour red and white;”
The Thistle and the Rose (The Thrissel and the Rois) William Dunbar, August 1503 in honor of the wedding between King James IV of Scotland to Princess Margaret Tudor of England.
The Tudor Rose is the symbol of the alliance between House of York (symbolized by a white rose) and the House of Lancaster (symbolized by a red rose). Both houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house who could trace their descent from King Edward III (1312 – 1377). It is credited to the Tudor dynasty for combining those two and creating what we know now as The Tudor Rose.
Historians disagree on the Red Rose of Lancaster. Some say it was originally a symbol of Henry’s great-grandfather John of Gaunt, while others insist that it was assumed to the House of Lancaster by Henry VII only after the wars were over.
The actual symbolism behind the White Rose of York had religious connotations as it represents the Virgin Mary, who was often called the Mystical Rose of Heaven. In Christian liturgical symbolism, white is the symbol of light, typifing innocence and purity, joy and glory. The origins of the emblem are said to go back to Edmund of Langley in the fourteenth century.
It was the 22 of August 1485 when Henry VII (who was blood-tied to House Lancaster) though outnumbered, ended the “Wars of the Roses” after taking the crown of England from Richard III in battle, becoming Henry VII King of England. He spend two more years afterwards wiping out other claiments to the throne. The “Wars of the Roses” is a civil war in England that lasted from 1455 until 1487. Historians still debate the true extent of the impact on medieval English life, and some revisionists, such as the Oxford historian K.B. McFarlane, suggest that the conflicts during this period have been radically overstated, and that there were in fact, no “Wars of the Roses” at all. It is notable that they did not produce widespread destruction and economic recession. Many places were largely unaffected by the wars.
Here is a fun clip by the great Horrible Histories with a War of Roses Report:
During the wars, many of the inns and hostels in the Yorkshire countryside (and elswehere) had roses carved in the ceilings panels and beams of the bar room. This had nothing to do with the white rose of the House of York but with the term “Under-the-rose” or in Latin “Sub-Rosa”. Warlike matters and espionage issues discussed “under the rose” were treated as being very sensitive and not to be repeated to others under pain of death.
In January 1486 Henry VII married Elizabeth of York, bringing the houses historically together. The marriage was one of political brilliance: their children would have Yorkist and Lancastrian blood, owning united claim to the throne from both their mother as well as their father’s side. It was then that the Tudor Rose first made it appearance. During the medieval war, neither parties cared much about roses or flowers. They were not part of the official coat of arms. Instead, servants wore emblems of the flowers on their liveries (servant uniforms). It was only during his wedding that Henry VII adopted the bicoulored Tudor Rose as a badge, cleverly making use of the fact that during this time, signs and symbols spoke louder than words. During his reign, Henry VIII had the “Round Table” at Winchester Castle – then belived to be genuine – repainted. The new paint scheme included a Tudor rose in the centre.
The rose symbols were first brought to promincence by William Shakespeare in his play Henry VI part 1. He wrote a scene set in the gardens of the Temple Church, where a number of noblemen and a lawyer pick red or white roses to show their loyalty to the Lancastrian or Yorkist faction respectively. However, it was not until the later 18th century that historians began the acknowledge the symbolic reconciliation of the Tudor Rose. That in turn causes Sir Walter Scott to refer to the conflict as “The Wars of the Roses” in his historical novel Anne of Geierstein.
Books and more (click on picture for information):
Still intrigued? Here’s a documentary about the Wars of the Roses: