Gudrid Thorbjarnardaughter in "The Saga of the Greenlanders"

Chapter 3


[...] The man [...] said his name was Thorir and that he was of Norwegian origin. [...] Leif then invited Thorir to spend the winter with him there, along with Thorir's wife Gudrid and three other men, [...]



Among the events taking place meanwhile in Greenland was the marriage of Thorstein Eiriksson to Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, who had previously been married to Thorir the Norwegian who was spoken of earlier. [...]

Gudrid was a woman of striking appearance and wise as well, who knew how to behave among strangers.



[...]Thorstein Eiriksson's condition worsened and he died. His wife, Gudrid, was overtaken by grief. All of them were in the main room. Gudrid had been sitting on a stool in front of the bench where her husband, Thorstein, had lain.

Thorstein the farmer then took Gudrid from her stool into his arms and sat with her on the bench across from her husband Thorstein's corpse and said many encouraging things, consoling her and promising her that he would take her to Eiriksfjord with her husband Thorstein's body and those of his companions. 'And we'll invite other people to stay here,' he said 'to provide you with solace and companionship.'

She thanked him.

Thorstein Eiriksson then sat up and spoke: 'Where is Gudrid?'

Three times he spoke these words, but she remained silent.

Then she spoke to Thorstein the farmer: 'Shall I answer his question or not?'

He told her not to answer. Thorstein the farmer then crossed the floor and sat on the chair and Gudrid on his knee.

Then Thorstein the farmer spoke: 'What is it you want, namesake?' he said.

He answered after a short pause: 'I want to tell Gudrid her fate, to make it easier for her to resign herself to my death, for I have gone to a good resting place. I can tell you, Gudrid, that you will be married to an Icelander, and you will live a long life together, and have many descendants, promising, bright and fine, sweet and well-scented. You will leave Greenland to go to Norway and from there to Iceland and set up house in Iceland. There you will live a long time, outliving your husband. You will travel abroad, go south on a pilgrimage and return to Iceland to your farm, where a church will be built. There you will remain and take holy orders and there you will die.'

At that Thorstein Eiriksson fell back, and his corpse was made ready and taken to the ship.


Thorstein the farmer kept all his promises to Gudrid faithfully. In the spring he sold his farm and livestock and loaded all his possessions aboard the ship with Gudrid. He made the ship ready and hired a crew and sailed to Eiriksfjord. The bodies were then buried in the churchyard.

Gudrid went to stay with Leif at Brattahlid, and Thorstein the Black built a farm in Eiriksfjord where he stayed as long as he lived, and was regarded as a most capable man.

Chapter 6


Thorfinn Karlsefni was [...] soon attracted by Gudrid and asked her to marry him, but she referred him to Leif for an answer. She was then engaged to him and their wedding took place that winter.

The discussion of a voyage to Vinland continued as before, and people strongly urged Karlsefni to make the journey, Gudrid among them. [...]


[...] At this time Gudrid, Karlsefni's wife, gave birth to a boy, who was named Snorri. [...]



After Karlsefni's death Gudrid took over the running of the household, together with her son Snorri who had been born in Vinland.

When Snorri married, Gudrid travelled abroad, made a pilgrimage south and returned to her son Snorri's farm. By then he had had a church built at Glaumbaer. Later Gudrid became a nun and anchoress, staying there for the remainder of her life.

Snorri had a son named Thorgeir, who was the father of Yngveld, the mother of Bishop Brand. Snorri Karlsefnisson's daughter Hallfrid was the wife of Runolf, the father of Bishop Thorlak. Bjorn, another son of


Karlsefni and Gudrid, was the father of Thorunn, the mother of Bishop Bjorn.

Source: Keneva Kunz, trans., "[Gudrid Thorbjarnardaughter 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, Auckland: 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.

Return to parent page