“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: