Blenda : Sweden's Greatest Heroine
The Blink Of An Eye
It takes many years for eight generations of humans to live out their lives, but to the Gods and Norns it all happened in the blink of an eye. Perception is truly in the eyes of the beholder, and when you count time in millennium instead of weeks, months, and years, it flows swiftly like water over a falls in a fluid never ending stream.
With the passing of each season the landscape of Midgard was changed and shaped to the needs of each individual community. Trees were cut down for farmland, and villages sprang up near natural springs, and where rich soil was laid down by the retreating glaciers. Over time some of the villages, especially those located in advantageous positions for either commerce or defense, grew into fortified towns to protect their lands from those who wished to take away what they had worked so hard to build.
Kings came and went. Territories were won and lost. With some lands being combined peacefully through treaty or marriage alliances, while others were wrested away from their rightful owners by those with stronger armies. Southern Sweden was not immune to this ebb and flow of tide. To the west Vastergotland grew to be a great power. To the east Ostergotland became a regional cornerstone, while Smaland, " the small lands ", sat precariously close to the region known as Skane , which was ruled by the Kingdom of the Danes, who were not always friendly towards the Swedes.
This Swedish region was also known generally as the Kingdom of the Geats. And one king, a strong warrior named Alle, ruled over this region at the turn of the millennium, though each independent land had their own rulers who called themselves by various titles which included jarl or prince. Each Hundred, or Harad, fell under the territorial rule of this prince, but each village also had a chieftain, who exercised control over the affairs of the local folk.
King Alle had several sons, but the one who was most important to him was his oldest named Adolphus. For he was next in line to succeed him as King of the Geats. When King Alle had decided to lead his Geats against the Pagans of Livonia, it was a very young Adolphus who rode proudly by his side as they forcibly converted the Livonians to the White Christ. As the cross fell across these Baltic lands the earth ran red with Heathen blood. And when the Geatish king lead his warriors back home they were heralded as heroes by maidens who waved white handkerchiefs from the docks.
Then for two decades the clanging of swords was not heard throughout these southern Swedish lands. The Norse to their west, and the Danes to their south, were quiet as well. The king became fat and complacent. He had grown too fond of the easy life, and forgotten what it was to be a warrior. The king saw that his army had disintegrated into complacent Christian farmers, while his ships lay rotting on the docks of the fjord.
Even more disturbing to the king was that this age of peace, drinking and feasting, had softened his son and heir Adolphus to the point where he seldom wore his sword about his waist. And although the king was firmly established as a Christian, he wondered what the old Gods must think of them now . King Alle was sure that it had been many years since the Einherjar had received a new member from the Land of the Geats.
Then one day, Hrolf, the Jarl of the Harad Konga, came to visit the king with his eldest daughter, a beautiful strong looking woman named Blenda. The king took to admiring the young maiden almost immediately, and invited Blenda and her father to the Harvest Feast that was to be held in his great hall on the night of the Harvest Moon.
The king, with his eldest son Adolphus sitting by his side, was intrigued by the feisty maiden who had the looks and shape of a young lady, but who spoke of battle like a shield maiden of old. She recanted the old tales from the Viking age as easily from memory as the best of his skalds recanted them from the vellum they were written on in the new church language known as Latin.
During the telling of the tale of Beowulf Blenda pulled out a dagger from her belt and slashed at the air with it to show how Beowulf had cut off the hand of Grendel as it made it's escape from Heorot . King Alle was instantly intrigued by the bejeweled knife which seemed ancient in design, and asked if he could see it more closely. As the king was examining the old dagger he noticed some odd writing on the handle. It appeared to be written in runic letters, many of which had been worn off, but they seemed to be of a much older form of runes. Possibly even from a time before the Vikings ruled the northern lands.
" What does the inscription mean ? " the king asked.
Blenda giggled as the king handed the knife back to her.
" You would think it foolish if I told you ! " she replied.
It was then that Adolphus, who had been gazing deeply into Blenda's beautiful blue eyes, and not at the knife at all, joined in the conversation.
" Please tell us ! " the prince insisted.
Hrolf smiled at his daughter, and then nodded to her that she should tell the king and his son the tale.
Blenda held up the dagger and ran her finger below the inscription as she spoke :
" With this dagger a woman shall save Sweden, .... is all that remains to decipher . " she explained to the Geatish royalty.
King Alle's face hardened as he pounded his fist on the table.
" It is as though our ancient ancestors are mocking us ! " he shouted.
The king then added as he pounded the table again :
" And they are right ! We have become like women ! Soft and unable to stand and fight as we did in the past ! This ancient relic has made me see the error of our ways ! We must re - arm ! We must polish the rust off of our weapons, sharpen the blades to a fine edge, and once again prove that we are warriors worthy of calling ourselves Geats ! " he shouted.
Hrolf was terrified by the king's outburst !
" My Lord ! My daughter meant no harm ! The knife, the ' Dagger of Destiny ', is only a ceremonial gift that is to be handed down from mother to daughter. When my wife died it was my duty to continue the tradition and present it to my daughter. I am sorry if it has upset you, but I assure you that it is only a harmless tradition in our family and has no deeper meaning. " he told the king and his son.
King Alle quickly realized that he had projected his anger at his own people's laziness toward the young maiden who had merely been trying to entertain them.
" If I startled you maiden Blenda, I am truly sorry. But you are wrong Hrolf . This knife does represent something very important indeed . It reflects forward from the past a time when warriors, both men and women, did not have to worry if a Christian priest would condemn their heroic actions, or worry that the White Christ would not accept them into heaven if they went plundering across the countryside of their enemies . " he explained in a much calmer voice.
Suddenly, KIng Alle rose up and addressed the entire hall.
" It is not too late my fellow Geats ! We can rebuild our ships, and sail to the ends of the known world ! And there, ...., there we can reclaim our pride,.... and our glory,.... and most important of all we can regain our honor ! " he shouted to his startled guests.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : Love and War
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.