Blenda is the heroine of a Swedish legend that led the rural women of Värend in an attack on a pillaging Danish army and annihilated the invaders.
According to the legend, King Alle of the Geats had led the Geats in an attack against Norway.
King Alle mustered not only the West Geats, but also the South Geats (or Riding Geats) of Småland. The king had mustered so many men had left for Norway that the region was virtually defenseless.
When the Danes (probably King Harald Wartooth) learned of Småland’s precarious situation, they took advantage of it and attacked the defenseless Småland. Blenda was a woman of noble descent in the Konga Hundred and she decided to send the fiery cross to rally all the womenfolk in the hundreds of Konga, Albo, Kinnevald, Norrvidinge and Uppvidinge.
The fiery cross, known as the Crann Tara, (bidding stick or budstikke or stembod) is a term for a wooden object, such as a club or baton, that is carried by a messenger which was used by Northern Europeans (Scotland and Scandinavia) to rally people for thing assemblies, defense, and as a declaration of war. The sight of it commanded all members to rally to the defense of the area.
A Hundred is a geographic division formerly used in northern Germanic countries.
The women armies assembled on the Brávellir (the location of The Legendary Battle of Bråvalla), which according to Smålandish tradition is located in Värend and not in Östergötland.
The Geat women approached the Danish Vikings and told them how much they were impressed with Danish men.
They invited the men to a banquet on Bråvalla heath (Bråvalla hed) where they were provided with food and drink.
After a long evening, the Danish warriors got drunk and fell asleep and the women killed every single one of them with axes and staffs.
When King Alle returned, he bestowed new rights on the women (Värends Rights).
They acquired equal inheritance with their brothers and husbands, the right always to wear a belt around their waists as a sign of eternal vigilance, the right to beat the drum at weddings, and so forth.
Blenda’s village was called Värnslanda and a location near the battle ground was called Bländinge.
Writer’s note: I guess you can see the Noble Geat woman Blenda, not really as a gallant warrior, but more as a sort of Norse Susan B Anthony. There isn’t much mention of the Rights of women prior to the Viking Age. We only know there was a difference mentioned of between nobles, free-men (karls), and thralls. But we do know women DURING the Viking Age did have a legal status and marital Rights as was kept by the lawspeakers.
Perhaps prior to the Viking age, women were considered not much higher in status than that of thralls. It is quite possible that they were considered no more than a free-man’s property as depicted in the film “Valhalla Rising.”
The ending results of this ‘Legendary Battle’ would have been the recognition of women in the Norse world.
- Carl Lundquist, Gunnar, Swedish dictionary. 4. ed (1938).
- Wilhelmina Stalberg. Notes on Swedish women. (1864-1866)
- Blendasägnen (Brenda’s Sage or The Legend of Brenda)
- Anders Erik and Daniel Bergman. Nordisk familjebok. University of California Libraries, 1907.
- Letters from Rupert’s Land, 1826–1840: James Hargrave of the Hudson’s Bay
- Featured image: “Blenda” painted by August Malmström (1829-1901)
Article by Njord Kane © 2016 Spangenhelm Publishing
Read more in: The Vikings by Njord Kane
The Vikings (The Story of a People) by Njord Kane
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