Rich or poor she is said to have caught the eye of the merchant Thorfinn Karlsefni, who as was prophesied hailed from Iceland. Thorfinn in a bold move asked Gudrid for her hand in marriage, but she replied that Thorfinn would have to ask Leif Eiriksson who as her guardian would answer for her. Leif must have found the Icelandic man to be satisfactory because he agreed to the match, and they were soon married. It is after their marriage that Gudrid begins to urge her husband to plan a voyage to go back to the Vinland settlement.
Karlsefni, agreed with Gudrid on the idea of traveling to Vinland, and asked Leif Eiriksson if he could have the houses that he had built in Vinland. Leif, however, did not want to just give them away. He agreed only to lend him the houses for his stay in Vinland. Karlsefni then put together ships and men to voyage to the New World colony. They brought livestock, and whatever else they would need because it was their intention to set up a permanent settlement there. In the one Saga she is mentioned as only having given birth to a son Snorri, who was 3 when they left the settlement. ( This, if factual, makes Snorri Karlsefnisson the first European born in North America ) In the other version she also gives birth, but also tries to make friends with the Skraelings in the Vinland colony. Gudrid also has a vision while in her longhouse: " Gudrid was sitting in the doorway beside the cradle of her son Snorri when a shadow fell across the door, and a woman entered wearing a black, close - fitting tunic; she was rather short, and had a band round her chestnut - colored skin. She was pale, and had the largest eyes that have ever been seen in any human head. She walked up to Gudrid and asked her name. Gudrid replied, " My name is Gudrid. What is yours ?" The woman replied, " my name is Gudrid." Gudrid motioned to the woman to come in and sit with her but suddenly there was a great crash, and at the same moment the woman disappeared. This all happened just as Karlsefni' s men killed a Skraeling for trying to steal some weapons."
I interpret this story to mean the Native Americans were becoming friendly with the Vinland settlers, but after the killing of the Skraeling, there could be no friendship, only mistrust and war. It is rather odd that in the telling of this story the " woman" has chestnut - colored skin, but was pale to look at.
After several winters, and many problems, especially with the Native Americans, in the spring, Karlsefni let it be known that he wanted to stay in Vinland no longer, and made ready to sail back to Greenland. They brought back with them vines, grapes, pelts, and other valuable items it is said. After their return to the Greenland colony, Karlsefni, Gudrid and little Snorri went back to live in Iceland, and there had a second son in Skagafjord.
There seems to be some friction between Gudrid and her mother- in - law, who did not want to live with Gudrid. In Eiriks Saga it says that Karlsefni's mother felt that he had married beneath him, and she stayed away for the first winter. Gudrid then moved to Glaumbaer, but when the mother- in - law realized what an exceptional woman Gudrid was, she returned home and got along well with her thereafter. They soon after had their second son who was named Thorbjorn. Here Gudrid and Karlsefni and her two boys lived a happy and long life together.
Karlsefni did pass away before Gudrid leaving her a widow for the third time in her life. Gudrid, however, who was still a strong woman, and after her son married, decided to make a year long pilgrimage to Rome. It is said that she visited the Vatican, and spoke to the Pope himself. Her son Snorri, built a church for her, and when she returned home to Iceland she became a nun. The fact that she was able to travel to Rome and meet with the Pope shows me that at least at this later part of her life she had some wealth.
Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, is not forgotten by the people of Iceland, but is held in great esteem by them. In Laugarbrekka, Iceland, there is a sculpture of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, and her son Snorri. The mother is standing proudly with her son Snorri standing heroically on her shoulder, as they cross an invisible sea in a longboat. I think that this is a wonderful monument and tribute to a fine woman, who through her heroism and determined spirit has come down to us in written history while countless other names have been forgotten. In 2000, Margarate Elphinstone wrote a novelization of her story called , " The Sea Road ". So as you can see even after 1000 years we are still talking and writing about Gudrid the Far Traveler. She is just that wonderful !
Further reading :
The Vinland Sagas : The Norse Discovery of America. edited by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson, 1965.
Westward to Vinland, by Helge Ingstad, 1969. Translated by Erik J. Friis.
A History Of The Vikings, by Gwynn Jones.
The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, by Nancy Marie Brown, 2007.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !