Viking Love, Rape and Incest

All of us know that the old Vikings of Scandinavia were cruel and brutal warriors because that is the way they have been depicted in modern times. In the Sagas, i.e. the medieval prose narratives of Scandinavian gods and heroes, they are first and foremost heroic and very brave figures. To these men it is no crime to set out on a predatory expedition as it is part of their plan to restore order. They conquer land which they feel belong to them and they kill enemies because that is necessary to obtain this goal. Some of their expeditions also seem to have a religious background as they want to serve their own gods by destroying those who are not part of their pantheon.

One of the most renowned warrior-heroes is the Danish viking Helge, the brother of king Roar. In some of the sagas he seems to have died a young man, but in others, like in the “Skjoldungesaga-fragment” he lives and he sure is a very active viking. His fate is to be known and remembered as the viking who raped the proud Olof who was married to a Saxon earl and who had derided him. However, this revenge, as it is, leads to the secret birth of a daughter who is so hated by her mother that she names her after her dog, i.e. Yrsa.

Several years after the birth of Yrsa her father, who still does not know anything about her, returns to the scenery for this rape and now he abducts this beautiful, young girl and brings her with him to Denmark where he marries her. Strangely enough this marriage becomes a success. Both of them are unaware of the incest they are committing and are happy when their son, Rolf Krake, is born. But now the vengeful Olof strikes out to destroy their illicit happiness by informing them of their close relationship. The unhappy Yrsa leaves the Danish court and she marries the Swedish King Adils who later tries to murder Helge and also Rolf. However, Helge lives to have another daughter, Skuld, by a woman who seems to be a kind of fairy. This daughter proves to be quite different from Yrsa as she is cruel by nature and quite demonic. She plays one of the main parts in the death of her brother, Rolf Krake.

At that point Rolf Krake had grown to become one of the most renown heroes of the sagas. He is even supposed to have been one of the very early kings of Denmark.



Source by Else Cederborg

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