Blenda : Sweden's Greatest Heroine
Praise And Honors
King Alle and Prince Adolphus had expected to return to Vastergotland, after their triumphant victories in Norway to great fanfare, but everywhere they went they heard only the great tales of the exploits of Blenda and the women of the Konga Harad. The king went from being cocky over his great victories in Norway, to very quickly having a sense of deep shame for allowing his kingdom to go undefended at a time when a Danish army invaded .
Despite the utter humiliation of having been outdone by a group of simple maidens, who saved the kingdom from destruction, Adolphus could not help but smile. That, of course, was because these present day shield maidens had been led by Blenda, the woman he so dearly loved. Instead of the prince being the one who had earned the privilige to marry the fair maiden, it was the shield maiden who had won the right to wed into the king's family.
King Alle proceeded as quickly as he could to Smaland to place his army all along the border with Skane. If there was to be another attack on his Geatish kingdom it would not be turned back by maidens, but by his army this time. He need not have bothered however. The Danes, horrified by the news that two of their armies, one led by Prince Olof, and one by the Chieftain Guthbrand, had been completely wiped out by a Smaland army of women, immediately sued for peace. King Sweyn of Skane himself signed the treaty and assured King Alle that his people would never again invade the Kingdom of the Geats.
On their way back to Vastergotland King Alle and Prince Adolphus stopped at Varnslanda to allow the Smalanders, or riding Geats to go home. Under Hrolf's leadership, these Southern Geats had honorably distinguished themselves in battle against the Norwegian forces. For his service to the king Blenda's father had been given a gold arm ring while in Norway. The king of the Geats, however, had an even greater honor for Blenda. As he entered the great hall in Varnslanda, with Adolphus on one side, and Hrolf on the other, he was greatly surprised to see Blenda sitting on Hrolf's high - seat like a queen.
" Father ! " Blenda shouted as she jumped up off of the high - seat.
Trying to respect protocol Hrolf bowed to his daughter first. Seeing this, King Alle put his hand on his cavalry leader's shoulder and gave him a gentle push.
" Give your daughter a hug ! " the king told him .
As he looked over at his son he added with a thoughtful grin :
" For we are all family here ! "
Hrolf ran up the aisle between the dining tables and picked up his daughter and twirled her around in a tight embrace.
" It is so good to see you father ! " Blenda whispered in his ear while holding on tightly.
Hrolf put his daughter down and kissed her on the forehead.
" Let me look at my daughter, ..... the woman who saved Smaland from the Danes ! " he exclaimed with great pride and admiration.
" I am still the same little girl who would tug at your pant legs when I wanted your attention. " she replied shyly.
Hrolf looked long and hard into his daughter's beautiful eyes.
" No, my dear. You no longer belong only to me. " he told his daughter with a tear in his eye.
Hrolf pointed to King Alle, Prince Adolphus, and then to himself before continuing.
" While our names will be lost to history the name of Blenda of Varnslanda will resound through these Swedish lands like an echo in the mountains that never dies. You, my daughter, are Sweden's greatest heroine ! "
Then Hrolf hugged his daughter again.
Neither Blenda nor Hrolf had noticed that King Alle and Prince Adolphus had come forward and were now standing beside them. It was not until the king cleared his throat to gain their attention that they turned to face him. The king then did something very unexpected. He knelt down on one knee and held a sword up to Blenda.
" I have heard in glorious detail how you led the maidens of Smaland against the Danes with only inferior weapons at your disposal. I am told that you had only a dagger to defend yourself against the evil Prince Olof, .... and yet you triumphed, .... and added a great chapter of glory and honor to our history. " he told her gratefully.
King Alle then pulled the sword out of it's scabbard.
" In honor of your great victory, and to protect you in the future, I humbly, but proudly, present you with this sword as a symbol of our eternal gratitude ! " he told her with a huge smile.
Blenda took the sword and the scabbard from the king. She held the sword high over her head, and looked off into the distance as if she were speaking to all the warrior women who had since gone back to their villages in the Konga Harad.
" With the memories of those who died in battle fresh in my mind, and for those who fought with a ferocity seldom seen from women, I accept this great honor in their names ! " she announced proudly.
King Alle rose up and kissed Blenda on both cheeks.
" And now I think it is time that we discuss your marriage to my son ! " he told her with a big grin.
King Alle grabbed his son's hand and motioned for Blenda to give him hers. Blenda quickly placed the sword back into it's scabbard and reached out with her free hand . The king took her hand and kissed it before placing it on top of his son's hand. Then King Alle turned to Hrolf.
" If you approve of this union Chieftain Hrolf, then I do as well ! I invite you, and Blenda of course, to come to my great hall in Vastergotland for the greatest wedding feast ever held in the Kingdom of the Geats ! " he proclaimed proudly.
" If it is what my daughter wishes, then I approve whole heartedly ! " he told the king.
" I do ! " Blenda quickly replied as she put her arms around Adolphus.
Adolphus, as quiet as ever, looked deeply into the eyes of the woman he loved, and kissed her.
Despite angering the Bishop of Vastergotland the wedding was not held in a church, but instead took place at the king's great hall. It was a lavish affair that the Geats from all over Vastergotland, Ostergotland, and Smaland, talked about for years afterwards. Much like Blenda herself, it became a part of her legend, which much like the tale of her great deeds grew greater with each telling.
Shortly after the marriage of Prince Adolphus to Blenda, King Alle made sweeping changes to the way women were treated under the laws of his land. They no longer were belittled when it came to inheritance, and were entitled to an equal share of money and property, as were their brothers and husbands. They were forever more allowed to wear a belt about their waists, and on that belt many of these emboldened women strapped on a knife. No longer would they have to hide a weapon under their dresses as they did when they fought the Danes. And despite the strenuous objections of those who were in power in the church King Alle bestowed upon the women of his kingdom the right to beat drums at weddings, and to be an active participant in the ceremonies.
King Alle also saw that his lands, despite the new treaty with the Danes, were vulnerable from attack from the south, and combined the five Harad, or Hundreds, into one land now called Varend. The name Varend, or " defense " was an appropriate title for this area because under his direction it soon became a fortress for his Geatish kingdoms. Finally, King Alle decreed that the battleground around the village of Varnslanda, where the Smaland women defeated the Danish warriors, would now be known as Blandinge !
As with most legends Blenda rises higher in honor and glory with each new telling of her life and deeds. But that is the way of legends my friends.
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Blenda Epilogue
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.