Freydis saves the world
My sister Freydis was a heroine 1,000 years ago but the saga's evolved and made her into a mean person who would betray others. She was far from being either. In fact she was one of the nicest people in the world. She could never harm even an animal. When she would shear the sheep you could walk over and she would telling the sheep, 'Don't worry I'm not going to hurt you'. Then to honor her word and not accidentally cut the sheep she spent three times as long as anyone else. She got so upset when one moved and cut itself that we took over and asked her not to shear anymore sheep.
There are two accounts of what happened in the new world and each one was a Saga but they both were of the same series of events. That is how much the Sagas evolved in two directions and how far from the truth they often became.
In one of the sagas it was said that Freydis killed several women in Vinland and in the other saga it was a crew of men on a ship. It was the same occurrence but it was changed around and after a hundred or so years became both of those two accounts.*
It is confusing so you need
to know what really happened.
A Viking oath ceremony was a great ceremony and was taken very seriously. The oath was made to the leader in blood. If the person then violated that oath there was only one punishment, death. The agreement when you went to Vinland was not to have any close contact with Skraelings and when you went back to Iceland you had to stay in quarantine for one moon (month).
The disease the Skraelings had was a type of treponematosis which is generally called Yaws and it was probably before it mutated to create Syphilis and a less fatal form of Yaws. It was not Syphilis but like Syphilis it was 100% deadly. It's method of transmission however was both with close contact and sex like Yaws combined with Syphilis. However it disfigured like Yaws and was a skin disease that ate right down into the bones. I go into great detail about the disease on this page.
This is an overviews of those two disease.
These researchers believe that syphilis originated in the New World due to a mutation in the bacteria that causes yaws (Rothschild, 2000). Based on a study of 1,000 skeletons from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, Rothschild found no evidence of pre-Columbian Old World syphilis. According to his theory, Columbus' crew contracted syphilis in the New World and spread it through Europe. The following syphilis endemic of 1500 suggested that the European population was previously unexposed to the disease which rapidly spread once introduced. Furthermore, the Rothschilds found that the earliest yaws cases in the New World collections were at least 6,000 years old, while the first syphilis cases were 800-1,600 years old. This suggests that syphilis may be a New World mutation of yaws, which has a worldwide distribution. The discovery of treponemal antigens in the remains of a Pleistocene bear in the Americas, as well as an abundance of skeletal material with lesions that suggest treponemal agents, lend strong support for the presence of the disease in the New World pre-1492.ArticleHuman treponematosis and tuberculosis: evidence from the New World. El-Najjar MY.
Often when a disease exists for a long time it gets less deadly and it appears that is what happened with this very disease as this article states.
There is no evidence that
these two diseases could have arisen independently and de novo, especially
during the relatively short time since man's arrival in the New World.
Where a disease has been endemic for quite some time as appears to
be the case with human treponematosis and tuberculosis, milder forms
of the disease and improved host response could have developed in which
only the most severe cases would be observable. This explains the
rarity of skeletal lesions suggestive of these two human disease conditions
in prehistoric human populations.
If you still want to know more details about these diseases (yuck) then this is an over informative page, .
This explains why Christopher Columbus never ran across yaws. After 500 years it became so mild that he did not even notice it.
Two women in Freydis' colony were raped by Skraelings and they got the disease.
The rape was the first sexual contact with Skralings and it confirmed that it was a sexually transmitted disease. The two women were then cared for by members of the colony in shifts and some if not most of them came down with the disease showing that it was also spread by close contact (like with yaws). This dual form of disease spread was unheard of in Europe and Vikings suddenly realized how very dangerous the disease was when everyone who caught it died in less than six months.
This spelled the end of Viking colonies in the New World. It was far too dangerous to ever go there again.
The members who contracted the disease were then isolated as a group (this is seen in as a separate colony in one saga). They became desperate and convinced they could be cured in Iceland or Greenland so some of them tried to steal a small boat to sail back to Iceland. However they were caught.
Had they made it to Iceland or even Greenland they would have spread the disease and it would have killed perhaps seventy five percent of Europe's and Asia's population. Then every few years there would have been a new epidemic which would have killed up to 50% of the population of the Old World each time.
A council of settlers passed judgment on those who stole the boat. Freydis had to carry out the execution for two reasons. She was the leader and they made the oath to her personally. She executed them according to the law while the rest of the settlement of Vikings stood as witnesses.
It was a fine point of the law that those who stole the boat were going to avoid isolation when they got to Reykjavik Iceland but that had to have been their intent. This legal point was brought up later at the hearing before what was in essence a Viking Grand Jury when they heard this case. It was a huge trial and since there were dozens of issues (including exploration, disease, quarantine as well as questions about the execution of those who were trying to leave) involved it was probably held in Norway. The records of this hearing are probably in the government archives of Norway or Iceland.)
The oath was legal and she was only obeying Viking law so that is the reason she was not put to death in the Sagas as was the punishment for murder. Because she was allowed to live you must dismiss the idea that the Sagas were totally true and realize that Freydis performed a legal execution.
The only time in her life Freydis had to become hard she became hard as steel showing us her sterling Viking character. I cannot even imagine anything that would have weighed more heavily on her shoulders than what she did which was according to Viking law (and perhaps it still weighs heavily on her).
I can recall specifically when I was told of her executions. I asked, 'how could she do such a thing?' When I was told 'with a sword' I clarified my question by something like 'No, I mean how could she kill a whole group of people (it was over 20) when she couldn't even harm a sheep without coming to tears and then needing people to support her?'
There are two accounts (and if you suspend disbelief for a short time) and accept my memories as the truth then you can see the common thread that both Sagas came from.
You can even see how the true account was altered to make it into the two sagas. It's easier for me because I see them from a different reference point at the 'other side' of a thousand years. I should read the saga's at least, since my credibility is suffering from my misquotes of the Sagas. I have made more mistakes on this page because of those misquoting of the Sagas than I have from my memories of 1000 year ago.
Before they were written down which was about 200 years after they occurred the Sagas were used as children's stories and most likely bedtime stories. So they were simplified and then made into short moral lessons.
The most important issue with a child then was their health. Without antibiotics even a small illness was often fatal. At least one in twenty children died in early childhood of diseases. Most children had friends that had died and it was a horror that their parents never needed to remind them of. So all references to the fatal disease was eliminated from both Sagas. Then it goes without saying that a woman who killed everyone that got sick had to be taken out of the story,
Lets look at the first Saga in more detail and see if we can figure out how it was altered.
Upon arrival in Vínland, the alliance dissolved, and Helgi and Finnbogi built their own separate settlement there. Following a meeting in their camp, Freydís told her husband that she had been raped there, and asked him to avenge her. þorvarður took his men to the camp and killed the men there; five women survived. Freydís, however, was not satisfied, and killed the women with an ace.
The two raped women became Freydis. The people in isolation became a separate settlement. Those caught stealing the boat became the rapist and all references to the boat were entirely removed from the story (perhaps by a well meaning father who did not want to encourage his son in a life of crime by even the inspiration that the boat stealing episode might provide.
Freydis co-sponsored it with Helgi and Finnbogi and they left Greenland in two ships. The second ship went down, but no hands were lost. After the survivors were recovered, it was discovered they did not have enough supplies to get them to Vinland with everyone on board and they had traveled more than half the distance. Freydis ordered that all the men of the downed ship be killed, which the men of her crew carried out. There were a number of women from the second ship as well and when ordered to kill them as well, Freydis' men refused. Freydis picked up an axe, killed the women of the second ship herself and threw their bodies overboard.
During that expedition, which lasted three years, she was pregnant. The Vikings had a disagreement over trade goods with the natives of Vinland, whom they called Skraelings, and the natives attacked them, at which time she was late in her pregnancy. Outnumbered, the Vikings ran for their ships. As they approached the beach, Freydis tripped and fell, but the men continued on to their ships which were in sight. She was left to fend for herself. She picked up a dropped sword and stood to face the attackers. According to the account of the incident, she bared her breasts, beat her chest with her fist, and screamed a battle cry, ready to fight them. It is said that the natives stopped in their tracks upon seeing this, turned and ran back inland out of fright that a pregnant woman of their enemy would face them in that manner. A few weeks later, she gave birth to a son, the first child of European origin born in North America.
One of the pregnant women who was spared seems to have became pregnant Freydis in this Saga. However, I wonder if the word got mistranslated and instead of pregnant the word should have been translated to a word like ill.
This ill fated expedition was the last expedition to the New World. Vinland was taken off the maps and disfigured monsters were put in it's place. Many of the monsters looked like the disfigured Scraelings.
If it was not for the disease we Vikings would have settled the new world and civilized it by 1200 AD. Vikings were not your sit at home types. Nothing but disease could have kept back the tide of the Vikings from settling the New World..
The Skralings appreciated the trade goods we had more than any European ever did. They offered three women in exchange for one knife. (You think that was strange, there were even more bizarre offers.) Then once we figured out their rules of conduct it was not much of a problem getting along with them. A far as militarily their attacks with stone weapons numbered only fifty or so and were nothing compared to those durn Russian tribes like the Vandals whose attacks with sword came in waves of thousands.
(The secret to winning against the Vandals was to bring down the richest looking ones with arrows when they charged. The other Vandals would immediately stop to strip the bodies of the rich dead Vandals. The Vikings would back up 200 meters and wait for the Vandals to finish stripping the bodies of their friends and charge again. Then we would do the same thing again and again until the few poor surviving Vandals had become so rich they wanted to quit and go party with all that they had accumulated.
They would quit because
all they fought for were spoils and they did not care where they got them
from. So all the surviving Vandal men would be at the next battle. This time to
make sure they would follow behind a rich Vandal and kill them from
behind with their swords before we even got our arrows launched. That
was a different life. It was a lot colder in the east.
There is the answer to one of the biggest mysteries of all time,Why did the Vikings leave the New World.
Now you know why Freydis deserves more respect and love than she has ever gotten. We can thank Freydis for keeping a deadly disease out of Europe for another 500 years.
The men on Columbus's ship brought back Syphilis which killed millions but it was a far less virulent and deadly form of that group of diseases than the one which had infected the Vikings five centuries before.
is what I initially thought happened to the Viking colony that disappeared.
* This is what has been written about Freydís.
Freydís Eiríksdóttir was a Viking woman who sailed to Vínland Vinland in the early 11th century. She was an illegitimate daughter of Erik the Red and half sister to Leifur Eiríksson Leif Ericson. She was married to a man named Þorvarður.
Freydis was a member of the expedition led by Þorfinnur Karlsefni Þórðarson which, after the discovery of Vínland, attempted to make the first European colony there. A year after this expedition she and her husband traveled there again, with Icelanders For alternative uses, see Iceland (disambiguation).
Upon arrival in Vínland, the alliance dissolved, and Helgi and Finnbogi built their own separate settlement there. Following a meeting in their camp, Freydís told her husband that she had been raped there, and asked him to avenge her. þorvarður took his men to the camp and killed the men there; five women survived. Freydís, however, was not satisfied, and killed the women with an axe.
Following the incident Þorvarður and Freydís returned to Greenland and were exiled on account of their actions in Vínland.
Freydis was said to have worn men's clothes because she wanted to show courage.
The Saga of the Greenlanders (written in Greenland) and Erik's Saga (written in Iceland) differ on the details of Freydis Eriksdottir. According to the Icelandic account, Freydis was married to Thornfinn Karlsefni, however the Greenland account names a man called Thorvald as her husband. What is clear is that Freydis participated in two voyages to Vinland.
The first was as a member of Thornfinn Karlsefni's expedition. During that expedition, which lasted three years, she was pregnant. The Vikings had a disagreement over trade goods with the natives of Vinland, whom they called Skraelings, and the natives attacked them, at which time she was late in her pregnancy. Outnumbered, the Vikings ran for their ships. As they approached the beach, Freydis tripped and fell, but the men continued on to their ships which were in sight. She was left to fend for herself. She picked up a dropped sword and stood to face the attackers. According to the account of the incident, she bared her breasts, beat her chest with her fist, and screamed a battle cry, ready to fight them. It is said that the natives stopped in their tracks upon seeing this, turned and ran back inland out of fright that a pregnant woman of their enemy would face them in that manner. A few weeks later, she gave birth to a son, the first child of European origin born in North America.
The second expedition was about a year later. Freydis co-sponsored it with Helgi and Finnbogi and they left Greenland in two ships. The second ship went down, but no hands were lost. After the survivors were recovered, it was discovered they did not have enough supplies to get them to Vinland with everyone on board and they had traveled more than half the distance. Freydis ordered that all the men of the downed ship be killed, which the men of her crew carried out. There were a number of women from the second ship as well and when ordered to kill them as well, Freydis' men refused. Freydis picked up an axe, killed the women of the second ship herself and threw their bodies overboard.
© 2005-9 John Pinil