The Marriage Proposal
" Too Many Suitors ! "
Everyone in the Faroe Islands had become aware of the recent rise of Chieftain Sigmundur Brestisson to a higher status. Originally given this greater power by King Olav's decree, and later with the gift of the Faroes that was bestowed upon him by the Jarls Eirik, and Sveinn of Norway, with the blessing of King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, he now was a man who was looked up to. And many in the islands wished to share this " power " he had earned in Norway. Some tried to gain his favor with gifts or promises of friendship, while others wanted an even closer relationship with the chieftain, and to achieve this they sought out Sigmundur to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage.
At first they came only occasionally, but soon Sigmundur and Turið felt as if wave after wave of prospective husbands had come crashing upon the shores of Skúvoy, and were inundating the island with the great weight of their requests. " There are too many suitors ! " Sigmundur had told his wife. And most if not all were wholly unsuited to wed his daughter. Men of wealth, who were twice Tóra's age, came promising much gold for her hand, while some of the Northern Faroe Chieftain's brought their very young sons as a match for his daughter.
Sigmundur and Turið were not fooled by these offers from men who had dubious intentions. Like most parents they saw their daughter in a different light than others. They considered her to be a very desirable prospect as a wife, but there was no escaping the fact that at face value their daughter was not as appealing as other women in the Faroes. Tóra was a rather stout woman, who was not very pretty to look at. She did have a brave demeanor, with some going so far as to say that she acted more like a warrior than a woman. She also was a very intelligent person, who was considered by those she met to be much wiser than most.
Sigmundur quickly tired of all the suitors coming to Skúvoy and thought to himself that it would be nice if he could hold a contest in which they all fought to the death for her hand. He liked this idea very much because it would kill off all of those who were unsuited, many of which he detested, and with his daughter married to the strongest most able warrior he would no longer be bothered by the constant throng of men seeking his daughter's hand in marriage.
As a Christian, however, Sigmundur knew that he could not even suggest, let alone allow, such a contest to take place. But he had thought of another way that the many suitors could compete for his daughter. And he was certain that this idea would not only be acceptable to the Faroese people, but that this contest fit well into the context of the history of those who came after their first settler, Grim Cambran. After telling Turið of his idea, Sigmundur decided to announce the contest at his next Moot which was scheduled for the first week in October.
People came from all over the islands to hear what the Chieftain of Skúvoy had to say. Sigmundur felt it such an important announcement that he delayed the start of his Moot until the shoreline was dotted with over fifty ships of various sizes and shapes. And then, to the dismay of all of those who had come, he conducted all of the island's regular business first before turning his attention to the main topic of the Moot. With his wife sitting on his left, and Tóra standing to his right, he finally addressed those gathered at his assembly.
" It has come to my attention that there are a number of suitors who would like to marry my daughter Tóra. I will not, however, simply give away my daughter's hand in marriage as though it were a grant of land. No ! If any of you wish to become a part of my family then you will have to win her hand in a contest of skill, speed, and bravery ! " he told the eagerly listening crowd.
Then, as he pointed to his daughter, he explained what was required to " win " Tóra's hand.
" I have a proposal to make to all of you great seamen of the Faroe Islands ! A marriage proposal, if that is what you would like to call it ! And any man, under the age of thirty, can compete ! " he began, but then stopped as the older men in the gathering moaned at the age restriction.
When everyone had become quiet once again Sigmundur continued.
" Any eligible man, who can build a ship by April the first of next year may enter. The contestants must sail from Skúvoy to Iceland where they will seek out Eirik the Red who will give them a special coin. Then all they have to do is sail back to Skúvoy, and be the first to present that coin to me, to be declared the winner of the contest,... and of course my daughter ! " he explained.
While Tóra, who had not been told of the contest, winced at the idea of being won as a prize, instead of being courted out of love, those gathered at the Moot cheered what they considered to be a wonderful idea. Many shouted out their names, or their son's names, immediately. When Turið saw how many wished a chance to participate she rose up off of her high - seat, and quieted the crowd by raising a hand over her head.
" It seems that my husband has left out one tiny detail ! " she shouted.
" There will be a small,.... entry fee,... of one gold coin to have a chance for my daughter's hand ! " she informed all those eager to wed her daughter.
Sigmundur grinned at his wife's wisdom, and he was greatly surprised at how many still wished to enter the contest despite the addition of the fee. In the end twenty-three men paid for a chance to win Tóra's hand. Sigmundur was pleased as his wife counted the coins a second time, for he knew that not all of the twenty- three who paid would have their ships ready to compete by the April the first deadline.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : The Rush To Build The Best Ship
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.