Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir: Beautiful But Deadly Viking Woman

Posted by Ms Elly on

Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir: Beautiful But Deadly Viking Woman

Many surviving sources give us an image of Viking woman as housewives and female warriors. One similarity is that they always supported their husbands and wished to provide their family as much as possible. But an Icelandic saga told a story of a Viking woman who was beautiful but deadly to her family as well her neighborhood. Her name was Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir.

A beautiful girl that made people fall for her for the first time

Hallgerður Höskuldsdóttir was born in 940 in Iceland. Her family had many members but she was regarded as the most beautiful ones. Since she was just a child, Hallgerdur was so pretty that everyone wanted to approach her. As she turned twelves, she was the most beautiful woman in the village. 

Her father was proud of this daughter. One day, the father asked his son, one of the half-brother of Hallgerdur, about his opinion of Hallgerdur. The son answered that she was beautiful but her eyes told him that her mind was not simple. She was filled with evil. This sister had the eyes of the thief - one of the most terrible things in the Viking society. 

Gunnar and Hallgerdur meeting for the first time

Gunnar and Hallgerdur meeting for the first time 

Meeting Gunnar and Marriage 

But whatever other people said about Hallgerdur, she became a beautiful woman and no one could deny this fact. 

At Althing, Gunnar Hámundarson who was a Viking warrior saw the beautiful Hallgerdur. From that moment on, the fates of the two were attached to each other. Gunnar fell for this woman so hard that he asked for her hand immediately. 

Njáll, a close friend of Gunnar, told him that his marriage with this Hallgerdur would end up nowhere and it would lead to trouble in their society. But love was blind and Gunnar did not listen to the warning of his friend.

Despite a good brotherhood between Gunnar and Njall, Hallgerdur and the wife of Njall became sworn enemies. 

The slap that made the woman reveal herself

It was during a famine that people in the village of Gunnar were left starving. Hallgerdur then came up with an idea that she sent a slave girl to the neighboring farm to steal food.

When knowing the table full of food, Gunnar learnt the truth. In his anger, he slapped Hallgerdur. This was because stealing was the most coward thing in their society. 

In the meantime, Gunnar also faced a sentence of outlawry. But he chose to ignore the punishment and continued to live inside his home. 

One night, Gunnar's house was surrounded by his enemies who attempted to kill him for what he had done. 

No one helped him in the middle of the night but Gunnar still managed to keep his enemies away. With a bow in his hand, he wounded eight men and killed two. He only stopped when an enemy of his managed to cut the string of his bow making him impossible to shoot. 

Gunnar spoke to his wife asking for some of her long hair to make up for the bow's string. But the evil wife refused to give him any hair. 

“I will pay you back for the slap in the face" said Hallgerdur the evil Viking woman

"Give me two locks of your hair, and you and my mother twist them into a bowstring for me."

"Does anything depend on it?" she said.

"My life depends on it," he said, "for they'll never be able to get me as long as I can use my bow."

"Then I'll recall," she said, "the slap you gave me, and I don't care whether you hold out for a long or a short time."

"Everyone has some mark of distinction," said Gunnar, "and I won't ask you again."

Without the help of his weapon, Gunnar was wounded and killed by his enemies who outnumbered him. This climaxed the hatred of Gunnar's mother toward the daughter-in-law to the point that Hallgerdur had to flee away. 

But this beautiful woman with the evil mind continued to insult and caused trouble to other people whom she met along the way. 

Þá skal eg nú, muna þér kinnhestinn.”

“I will pay you back for the slap in the face"


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