Freydis Eriksdaughter in "The Saga of the Greenlanders"

Chapter 1


[...] Eirik's children were Leif, Thorvald, Thorstein and a daughter, Freydis. She was married to a man named Thorvard, and they farmed at Gardar, where the bishop's seat is now. She was a domineering woman, but Thorvard was a man of no consequence. She had been married to him mainly for his money.

Chapter 7



We now turn to Freydis Eiriksdottir, who set out on a journey from Gardar to meet with the two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, and to propose that they all make the journey to Vinland on their ship and have a half-share of any profits from it. They agreed to this.

From there she went to her brother Leif and asked him to give her the houses he had built in Vinland. He replied as he had before, that he would lend the houses but not give them to anyone. According to the agreement between Freydis and the two brothers, each was to have thirty fighting men aboard his ship and women in addition. Freydis broke the agreement straight away, however, and took five extra men, concealing them so that the brothers were not aware of them until they had reached Vinland.

Chapter 7


[...] They put to sea, having agreed beforehand to try to stick together if possible on the way, and they almost managed this. The brothers arrived slightly earlier, however, and had unloaded their ship and carried their belongings to Leif's houses when Freydis arrived. Her group unloaded their ship and carried its belongings up to the houses.

Freydis then said, 'Why did you put your belongings here?'

'We thought,' they answered, 'that you intended to keep your word to us.'

'Leif lent me the houses,' she said, 'not you.'

Helgi then spoke: 'We brothers will never be a match for your ill-will.' They removed their things and built themselves a longhouse farther from the sea, on the bank of a lake, and settled in well. Freydis had wood cut to make a load for her ship.

When winter came the brothers suggested that they hold games and arrange entertainment. This went on for a while, until disagreements arose. The ill-feelings split the party so that the games ceased and each group kept to its own houses. This continued for much of the winter.

Early one morning Freydis got up and dressed, but did not put on any footwear. The weather had left a thick dew on the grass. She took her husband's cape and placed it over her shoulders and went to the brothers' longhouse and came to the doorway. A man had gone out a short while earlier and left the door half-open. She opened the door and stood silently in the doorway awhile. Finnbogi lay awake at the inner end of the house.

He spoke: 'What do you want here, Freydis?'

She answered, 'I want you to get up and come outside. I have to speak to you.'

He did as she said. They went over to a tree trunk lying near the wall of the house and sat down there.

'How do you like it here?' she asked.

'I think the land has much to offer, but I don't like the ill-feeling between us, as I don't think there is reason for it.'

'What you say is true,' she said, 'and I agree. But my purpose in coming to see you was that I want to exchange ships with the two of you, as you have a larger ship than I do and I want to leave this place.'

'I suppose I can agree to that,' he said, 'if that will please you.'

After this they parted. She returned home and Finnbogi went back to his bed. When she climbed back into bed her cold feet woke Thorvard, who asked why she was so cold and wet.


She answered vehemently, 'I went to the brothers, to ask to purchase their ship, as I wanted a larger ship. They reacted so angrily; they struck me and treated me very badly, but you're such a coward that you will repay neither dishonour done to me nor to yourself. I am now paying the price of being so far from my home in Greenland, and unless you avenge this, I will divorce you!'

Not being able to ignore her upbraiding any longer, he told the men to get up as quickly as they could and arm themselves. Having done so, they went at once to the longhouse of the brothers, entered while those inside were still asleep and took them, tied them up and, once bound, led them outside. Freydis, however, had each one of the men who was brought out killed.

Soon all the men had been killed and only the women were left, as no one would kill them.

Freydis then spoke: 'Hand me an axe.'

This was done, and she then attacked the five women there and killed them all.

They returned to their house after this wicked deed, and it was clear that Freydis was highly pleased with what she had accomplished. She spoke to her companions: 'If we are fortunate enough to make it back to Greenland,' she said, 'I will have anyone who tells of these events killed. We will say that they remained behind here when we took our leave.'

Chapter 8


Freydis returned to her farm and livestock, which had not suffered from her absence. She made sure all her companions were well rewarded, since she wished to have her misdeeds concealed. She stayed on her farm after that.


Not everyone was so close-mouthed that they could keep silent about these misdeeds or wickedness, and eventually word got out. In time it reached the ears of Leif, her brother, who thought the story a terrible one.

Leif then took three men from Freydis's company and forced them all


under torture to tell the truth about the events, and their accounts agreed in every detail.

'I am not the one to deal my sister, Freydis, the punishment she deserves,' Leif said, 'but I predict that their descendants will not get on well in this world.'

As things turned out, after that no one expected anything but evil from them.

Source: Keneva Kunz, trans., "[Freydis Eriksdaughter and her husband Thorvard in] The Saga of the Greenlanders" in The Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection, preface by Jane Smiley, introduction by Robert Kellogg, (New York, London, Victoria (Australia), Toronto: The Penguin Group, 2000), 636-652. Notes: Translations first published in "The Complete Sagas of Icelanders," volumes I-V (forty-nine tales), Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, Ltd., Iceland, 1997.

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