Thorgerd Egilsdottir (Old Norse Þorgerðr Egilsdóttir) was an Icelandic woman of the tenth century. She was the daughter of Egill Skallagrímsson and the wife of Olaf the Peacock. Olaf and Thorgerd had a number of children: the sons Kjartan, Steinthór, Halldór, Helgi, and Höskuldur and the daughters Thurídur, Thorbjörg, Thorgerd and Bergthóra. The ill-fated Kjartan would be his father's favorite.
Old Norse was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th century.
Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.
Egill Skallagrímsson was a Viking-Age poet, warrior and farmer. He is known mainly as the protagonist of Egil's Saga. Egil's Saga historically narrates a period from approximately 850 to 1000 CE and is believed to have been written between 1220 and 1240 CE.
The character of Thorgred Egilsdottir appears in several Icelandic sagas. She first appears in Egils Saga (Egils saga Skallagrímssonar), being born to Egil Skallagrímsson and his wife Asgerd. Thorgerd was the eldest of five children. It was said that “all of Egil’s children were promising and intelligent.”Later in the saga, it is mentioned that she was “a very fine women, wise, rather strong-tempered, but usually quiet,” and that she made a favorable match with Olaf. In chapter 79 of Egil’s Saga, Thorgerd manipulates her father for his own good. After the death of his son Bodvar, a grieving Egil takes to his bed and refuses to eat. Thorgerd is summoned by her mother to help. When she arrives at her father’s home she announces in a loud voice;
The Sagas of Icelanders, also known as family sagas, are prose narratives mostly based on historical events that mostly took place in Iceland in the 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries, during the so-called Saga Age. They are the best-known specimens of Icelandic literature.
I have had no evening meal, nor will I do so until I go to join Freyja. I know no better course of action than my father’s. I do not want to live after my father and brother are dead.
She then goes and lays down in another bed in her father’s bed-closet. Egil was pleased with his daughter and the love that she had shown. Soon she tricks Egil into eating dulse (or edible seaweed) by telling him that it would make him feel worse and that it was bad for him. Afterward, she tricks him into drinking milk, telling him first that it was water that she called for. After stating that “We’ve been tricked,” Thorgerd then manipulates Egil further;
What will we do now? Our plan has failed. Now I want us to stay alive, father, long enough for you to compose a poem in Bodvar’s memory and I will carve it on a rune-stick. Then we can die if we want to. I doubt whether your son Thorstein would ever compose a poem for Bodvar, and it is unseemly if his memory is not honoured, because I do not expect us to be sitting there at the feast when it is.
Egil, who was known for his poetry, composed a poem in honor of his deceased son, and in doing so soon began to recover from his grief. He eventually left his bed and gave Thorgerd gifts when she left.
Thorgerd Egilsdottir also makes an appearance in The Saga of the People of Laxardal (Laxdæla saga). In Chapter 23 her betrothal to Olaf the Peacock is described. Olaf and his father Hoskuld approached her father Egil at the Althing to make a match between Thorgerd and Olaf. Even though Egil approves of the match, he states that Thorgerd would have to be asked “because there is no man who could make Thorgerd his wife should she be set against it.”At first Thorgerd refused his offer of marriage, because she believed Olaf to beneath her in birth. After having a conversation with Olaf himself, and some convincing by her father, she finally agrees to the marriage. Her marriage was, by all accounts, an affectionate one.
Laxdæla saga ; also Laxdœla saga, Laxdoela saga, Laxdaela saga, or The Saga of the People of Laxárdalr) is one of the Icelanders' sagas. Written in the 13th century, it tells of people in the Breiðafjörður area of Iceland from the late 9th century to the early 11th century. The saga particularly focuses on a love triangle between Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir, Kjartan Ólafsson and Bolli Þorleiksson. Kjartan and Bolli grow up together as close friends but the love they both have for Guðrún causes enmity between them and, in the end, their deaths.
Thorgerd’s character is described in Laxdæla saga as; Everyone soon realized what a woman of strong character Thorgerd was: though she was not one to waste words, once she set her mind on something there was no swaying her – things had to go the way she wanted.This strong character is seen later in the Laxdæla saga when she seeks retribution for her slain son Kjartan. Her husband agrees to a wergild for his son’s death, but Thorgerd is set on vengeance. Being female, she has little option but to encourage her other sons. She takes then for a drive past the farm of man who killed Kjartan, and says;
Here lives Bolli, your brother’s slayer, and not a shred of resemblance do you bear to your great ancestors since you won’t avenge a brother the likes of Kjartan. Never would your grandfather Egil have acted like this, and it grieves me to have such spineless sons. You would have made your father better daughters, to be married off, than sons. It shows the truth of the saying, Halldor, that “every kin has its coward”. I see only too well now that fathering such sons was Olaf’s great failing. I will address my words to you Halldor...because you’ve taken the lead among your brothers. We will turn back now; I made the journey mainly to remind you of what you seem to have forgotten.
Thorgerd’s quest for vengeance even drives her to accompany the party that sets out to kill Bolli in retaliation for Kjartan. She states that “No one knows better than I do that it is likely my sons will require some urging yet.”When Bolli was cornered, Thorgerd “urged them not to hesitate to finish Bolli off and put some space between trunk and head.”
Thorgerd Egilssdottir also makes an appearance in The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpant-Tongue (Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu). This saga tells the tale of two men competing for Helga the Fair, Egil Skallagrimsson’s granddaughter and Thorgerd’s niece. Thorgerd plays a part in saving the life of Helga when she was an infant. Helga’s father Thorstein demanded that his infant daughter be exposed to the elements to die. His wife Jofrid secretly had the girl sent to Thorgerd to raise, while telling her husband Thorstein that she had followed his wishes. Six years later Thorstein went to attend a feast at his brother-in-law Olaf the Peacock’s estate. He noticed Helga sitting in the hall and remarked on her beauty. Thorgerd then told him the truth;
“Kinsman”, she answered, “to tell the truth, this beautiful girl is your daughter, not mine.” Then she told him everything that had happened, and begged him to forgive both her and his wife for this wrong.
Thorstein was so taken with the child that he forgave the women. He considered himself lucky that they had fixed his wrongs and he took his daughter home.
Thorgerd Egilsdottir fits a common character archetype in Norse sagas; the female inciter. In this instance a woman manipulates her husband or other male kin to exact revenge for her. In Scandinavian society at the time, women were unable to physically seek vengeance; therefore they used the means at their disposal, namely words and influence, to accomplish their goals.[ citation needed ]
Egil's Saga or Egill's saga is an Icelandic saga on the lives of the clan of Egill Skallagrímsson, an Icelandic farmer, viking and skald. The saga spans the years c. 850–1000 and traces the family history from Egil's grandfather to his offspring.
Skúli Þórsteinsson was an 11th-century Icelandic poet and warrior. He was the grandson of Egill Skallagrímsson and a courtier of Jarl Eiríkr Hákonarson. A short account of his life is given at the end of Egils saga:
Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu or the Saga of Gunnlaugr Serpent-Tongue is one of the Icelanders' sagas. Composed at the end of the 13th century, it is preserved complete in a slightly younger manuscript. It contains 25 verses of skaldic poetry attributed to the main characters.
Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland.
Bolli Bollason was a key historical character in the Medieval Icelandic Laxdæla saga, born around 1000. He grew up in Orlygsstadir, at Helgafell on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland. He divided his time between Helgafell and Tunga, the home of Snorri the Goði.[Note 1] He was held in the highest regard among the contemporary Scandinavian rulers, and also in the Eastern Roman Empire.[Note 2] It is believed that he had reached the rank of manglabites in the Eastern Roman army, and on his return to Iceland, his finery and recognition earned him the name "Bolli the Elegant".
Thorkel of Namdalen was a Norwegian jarl in Namdalen who lived in the mid to late ninth century CE. Thorkel married Hrafnhilda, the daughter of Ketil Trout of Hrafnista. Their son, named Ketil Trout after his grandfather, was to become one of the major players in the early settlement of Iceland. Through Ketil Thorolf was the grandfather of Hrafn Haengsson, the first lawspeaker of Iceland.
Ozur Toti was a 9th-century Norwegian hersir who lived in Halogaland. In the Heimskringla and Egil's Saga, he is identified as the father of Gunnhild Mother of Kings, the wife and queen of Erik Bloodaxe, though elsewhere she is identified as a daughter of Gorm the Old.
Rögnvald Eriksson or Ragnvald Eiriksson was, according to Egil's Saga, a son of Erik Bloodaxe. It is unclear whether Rögnvald was Erik's son by his wife Gunnhild or by another woman; the Heimskringla does not mention him among Erik's children with Gunnhild. When Egil Skallagrimsson escaped from Norway, he was pursued by Rögnvald, but killed him.
Olvir Hnufa or Ölvir hnúfa was a Norwegian hersir and skald of the late ninth and early tenth centuries, known from, among other sources, Egil's Saga, Skaldatal and the Prose Edda. Olvir was the son of the viking Berle-Kari and brother-in-law of Kveldulf Bjalfason, who married Olvir's sister Salbjorg Karadottir; he was thus uncle to Skallagrim and Thorolf Kveldulfsson and great uncle to the famous poet Egil Skallagrimsson. Olvir also had a brother named Eyvind Lambi. Olvir was a prominent member of the court of King Harald Fairhair, who united Norway under his rule in the late ninth or early tenth century. Among other famous skalds, he served as one of King Harald's court poets. He also served as a warrior in Harald's retinue, and fought at the pivotal Battle of Hafrsfjord on the king's flagship. He is best known for his involvement in the conflict between Harald and Olvir's kinsman Thorolf Kveldulfsson, which ended with the latter's death. Only a few fragments of Olvir's poetry survive.
Berle-Kari was a viking chieftain who lived in ninth-century Norway. His home was at Berle, in present-day Bremanger in Sogn og Fjordane county. Landnámabók names him as the son of Vemund, and brother of Skjoldolf, one of the early settlers of Iceland.
Eyvind Lambi or Eyvind Lamb was a Norwegian Viking and hersir of the late ninth and early tenth centuries, known from, among other sources, Egils saga. Eyvind was the son of the Viking Berle-Kari and brother-in-law of Kveldulf Bjalfason, who married Eyvind's sister Salbjorg Karadottir; he was thus uncle to Skalla-Grímr and Thorolf Kveldulfsson and great uncle to the famous poet Egill Skallagrímsson. Eyvind also had a brother named Olvir Hnufa, who became a famous skald at the court of King Harald I of Norway.
Olaf the Peacock or Olaf Hoskuldsson was a merchant and chieftain of the early Icelandic Commonwealth, who was nicknamed "the Peacock" because of his proud bearing and magnificent wardrobe. He is a major character in the Laxdæla saga and is mentioned in a number of other Icelandic sources. The son of a slave woman, Olaf became one of the wealthiest landowners in Iceland and played a major role in its politics and society during the latter half of the tenth century. In addition to the Laxdæla Saga in which he takes a leading role, Olaf also is mentioned in Egils saga, Njáls saga, Gunnlaugs saga, Kormáks saga, Grettirs saga and the Landnámabók, among others.
Atli the Slender was a ninth-century Norwegian jarl mentioned in several Old Norse sources, including Heimskringla and Egils saga.
Hoskuld Dala-Kollsson was an Icelandic gothi or chieftain of the early Icelandic Commonwealth period. He was the son of Dala-Koll who has a fjörd named after him, and Thorgerd Thorsteinsdottir, daughter of Thorstein the Red. His father died when he was a child and his mother married a landowner named Herjolf, who became the father of Hoskuld's half-brother Hrútr Herjólfsson. Hoskuld was enormously influential in northwestern Iceland, particularly in the Laxardal region, and is one of the main characters of the first half of Laxdæla saga. By his wife Jorunn he was the father of Bard, Thorleik, and Hallgerd and the grandfather of Bolli Thorleiksson. By his Irish concubine Melkorka he was the father of Olaf the Peacock and possibly of another son named Helgi.
Olaf Feilan Thorsteinsson was an Icelandic gothi of the Settlement period. He was the son of Thorstein the Red, jarl of Caithness, and his wife Thurid Eyvindsdottir. The byname "feilan" is derived from the Old Irish fáelán, meaning wolfling or little wolf.
Snorri Þorgrímsson or Snorri Goði was a prominent chieftain in Western Iceland, who featured in a number of Icelandic sagas. The main source of his life is the Eyrbyggja saga, in which he is the main character, although he also figures prominently in Njál's saga and the Laxdæla saga. Snorri was the nephew of Gísli Súrsson, the hero of Gísla saga, and son of Þorgrímr Þorsteinsson whom Gísli killed in revenge to fulfill a blood-oath.
Thorolf Skallagrímsson is an Icelandic character in Egils saga. He is brother of Egill Skallagrímsson and oldest son of Skallagrím Kveldulfsson and Bera Yngvarsdóttur. He closely resembles in looks and manner his uncle and namesake, Thorolf Kveldulfsson.
Helga the Fair is an Icelandic woman whose life and relationships are described in Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu. She is the daughter of Þorsteinn Egilsson and his wife Jofrid and is the granddaughter of Egill Skallagrímsson. Helga is trapped in a love triangle with Gunnlaugr Ormstunga and Hrafn Önundarson, which eventually leads to the men’s deaths.