Why people shouldn't bother Icelandic women.
There once was a port on the East side of Iceland that no longer exists. I'm trying to locate the ruins as it is the best site on Iceland, more information is here.
It was a whaling colony. The Viking children in boats would drive them into the harbor and then they and the women would all set on them with harpoons and kill the whole pod. Then they would render the oil and sell it to Europe.
The women and the children were able to slaughter large mammals without mercy and without guilt. That was the mind set of the Viking women and children and when the men went off they just kept killing the whales and rendering the blubber into oil..
It was certain that if any
invaders came it would be at that time of the year and while the men were
away. Then one year the Viking men had been asked to many questions about
the make up of the colony and so they tipped off the women. The women
were ready the next year in case they came. They did not tell the men
anything about their preparations in case any of the men got too drunk
and told the plans of the women to outsiders.
This is a story that came to me from several sources and so it is not as strong as my experiences and the memories they create. I keep adding more info as I recall it so this page keeps getting bigger. This event may sound terrible and bloody, it certainly was. However what happened was essential for giving Icelanders a peaceful lifestyle for many years. Had it been handled by any any other method th This was an earlier life I had as a Viking or pre-Viking or semi-Viking and it was as strong an experience so I recall the life as much as I did the one when I was Leif Erikson. It's hard to explain but the memories are vague so sometimes I have to change them. For example in the visions I would see a trident spear for fish and I'd think it was a pitchfork.
The first marauders came in two ships but we always had children acting as lookouts and mainly for whales. The whales would be chased into the bay where the women would kill them all as told here. Then they would render the whale blubber and make oil. It was something the women and children did on their own even when the men were home.
One time Marauders from south appeared on the horizon to steal the oil and kill us all. They knew if any of us got away they and their families would be killed in return. The child ran to a point and was able to signal everyone so they had vats of oil boiling by the time the marauder were ready to land.
The women had laid out a trap. The marauders thought the Viking women were in the process of rendering up oil from whale blubber but they actually finished the last batch two weeks before. The oil was a big part of the trap. As the marauders came in to land the women threw buckets of boiling oil on them and it singed quite a few so the Welsh pulled off from the shore off a short way.
They thought and the women were just using the oil because that is all they had to defend themselves with. So the marauders just stood off some distance and laughed at the women while covering themselves with shields and cloaks so the boiling oil would not bother them. They were going to wait until the women ran out of oil before they landed.
Then the women started yelling to each other like they were out of oil so the men came into land on the beach, Right before it they found they found out there was still oil left when the Viking women dipped branches with leaves on them in the oil and pulled them out dripping the oil. (Remember this is lamp oil and it is very highly flammable.) By this time the Welshmen and their boats are soaked with about 40 liters (10 gallons) of highly flammable oil and not a single one of the Welshmen realized it.
So they lit the branches and then the men and then the ships on fire. Immediately it spread all over the ships and within two minutes most of the men were in flames.
The men that were on fire jumped in the ocean to put out the fires and then rest just jumped into the water. The men did nothing and would not come to shore as the women were standing with pitchforks, spears as well as harpoons now. (They were tridents for spearing fish and not pitchfork's. My memories are in an 'image format' and the tridents look like pitchforks to me.)..
The marauders did nothing and as they watched their boats burning they offered to surrender but the women thought it was probably a trick and they did not want the men to surrender in any case. If the attackers want to surrender after attacking innocent women and children it's not the same as if an army surrenders after attacking another's army. One has as their intent, murder and the others intention is to fight a skilled warrior and win with honor on the field of battle. The difference is easy to see.
The marauders were down to about half their strength by then but there were still about 50 able bodied men. They got together as a group and with swords drawn came ashore. The women set aside their weapons and just rushed them with burning brands. The men were soaked in the oil so they ran back into the water but a few broke away and some ran down the coast but were chased down by gangs of Viking children and then some of the old women went and killed them.
Some of the men went up the hill but the women had built fires far away from the ocean on purpose. I don't know whether the men were trying to get away or to run down and capture some Viking women as hostages but the men's clothes were soaked in oil. The women just lit them on fire again and thought for sure they would die before they made it to the water. They made to the water but they screamed the entire time and even after they got the fire out.
The strange part is the women could have just let them die of exposure in the water but they did not want to wait. The braver women waded out to the marauders and killed them by thrusting the spears and harpoons into them underwater where their swords could not block them. They worked in pairs, one on each side. They would just wound each man, in the legs mostly, until there was a pool of blood indicating that the marauder was going to bleed to death because in cold water blood won't coagulate. Then they mercilessly left the man to slowly bleed to death while they went on to the next man.
The women on shore cheered them on and other women came in the water with burning branches to protect the women with the harpoons.
They killed all but one man and they left him alive just so that he could dispose of his comrades bodies and then they killed him too.
It was a European record for barbarism and it only took only once to convince everyone in Europe to leave Iceland Viking women alone.
What happened that made it so indelible in people's memories? They butchered the men and rendered them up and then put them in with the whale oil. The whale oil was sold to the wealthy and that meant royalty and they were the only ones that might start a war with Iceland.
Then after a year they let everyone know that their lamps had been burning Englishmen and specifically Welsh pirates. The European liked it because they hated the English and the English liked it because they hated the Welsh and they especially hated the Welsh pirates.
I don't remember where I was at the time but I do recall being pretty impressed when I heard this story. But it kind of bothered me that the women were colder, more ruthless and much more calculating in battle than Viking men were ever even accused of being.
I'm remembering that life better as I deal with the emotions I felt in that life. This was a very emotional issue for me because the emotions all piled up and they were tangled and I never could resolve them. I was never sure about emotions for the rest of my life. Why?
That was my village in my first life as a Viking. I was an adolescent and away on my first Viking voyage at the time. Of course I was looking for adventure and all my life I had been asking to go adventuring with the men.
You had to be big and strong and older (about 20) to prove that you had both the heart, strength and endurance. The boat only goes as fast as the slowest person and goes even slower if one person doesn't like doing it so if you can't keep up then it's everybody's problem.
I had exercised by rowing miles and miles everyday to get strong. Sometimes for five hours a day and then in front of them I rowed a great distance to prove to them that in spite of my young age they I could be a full part of their team. Even still they were reluctant since I was so young.
Look what happened when I left.
I missed the biggest Viking adventure of five lives by not staying at home!
I still had not dealt with those emotions and then there were emotions about the barbarism of the women and that really got to me.
All those emotions just kept getting more and more impacted and finally they became impossible to deal with on the night I got married. That was on the second new moon (weddings were never held on the full moon) after I got back. I got married to my childhood sweetheart and the sweetest girl I had ever known.
I was just talking before consummating the marriage to place her at ease. Being only an informal marriage consummating it was the high part of the ceremony and the essential part (or we were still single).
I asked her what she had done when the brigands came and she calmly said/claimed 'I cut off three of their heads and two of them while they were still alive'.
I didn't know whether I should marry her or stay single. I do recall many times after that looking at her laying next to me, so sweet and gentle a person and then I'd realize that she chopped off two men's heads while they were still alive and that would completely spoil it every time.
© 2004 John Pinil