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Genuine Heroines - Gudrid

I’m a writer of honest fantasy, genuine heroines and wellness wisdom.

Genuine heroines are women who are tough, yet kind, who can rescue themselves, yet welcome the support of friends. They don’t wear bikini armour and they don’t fight hordes of baddies after three days of no sleep and no food. Inspired by genuine heroines throughout history, I write female characters with depth, complexity and passion

Therefore, I’m starting a new series of blog posts about historical female characters who I have found inspirational. They are explorers, adventurers, healers, rights activists and world changers. These are real world characters with exceptional stories that I’m excited to share with you.

First up:

Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir – the Far Traveller

Over a thousand years ago, in Iceland, Chieftain Thorbjorn of Laugarbrekka had a daughter, Gudrid. When she was of age, a young man named Einar proposed to her but Thorbjorn refused the offer of marriage because Einar was the son of a slave. Instead, Gudrid married Thorir, a Norwegian merchant.

Thorbjorn, Gudrid and Thorir set sail for Greenland but their voyage was troubled by poor weather and illness, with many of their crew dying. During their first winter in Greenland, Thorir took ill and died.

Gudrid then married Thorstein Eiriksson who was Erik the Red’s son. Erik the Red, so named for the colour of his hair and beard, was born in Norway but moved to Iceland when his father was exiled. Erik, in turn, was exiled from Iceland for three years and so moved to Greenland.

Gudrid and Thorstein travelled to Vinland (an area around the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada) but Thorstein became ill and died.

Gudrid moved back to Greenland and married the Greenland merchant Thorfinn Karlsefni. Gudrid wanted to establish a settlement in Vinland, so led an expedition of over sixty people, along with livestock and cargo. Whilst living in Vinland, Gudrid had a son who she named Snorri Thorfinnsson.

However, when Snorri was three years old, they moved back to Iceland. There Gudrid had another son, named Thorbjorn, before her husband, Thorfinn, died.

During her lifetime, there was a transition from the pagan Norse religion to Christianity. One evening, whilst Gudrid and her father were staying with friends, a seeress asked for the women present to help her sing protection songs as part of a ritual. Gudrid joined the seeress in chanting the ward songs, as she was taught the words by her mother.

However, Gudrid later converted to Christianity and, after the death of her third husband, made a pilgrimage from Iceland all the way to Rome and back. When she returned, she became a nun and lived in the church that Snorri had built.

Gudrid was a remarkable woman, surviving three husbands and travelling between Iceland, Greenland, North America and across Europe. She inspires me to write characters who are adventurous, tenacious and brave.

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