Sigrid the Haughty

From Academic Kids

Sigrid the Haughty, Gunhilda, Sigrid Storråda, Świętosława, (967 - 1014). Is the mystic character which appears in many sagas and historical chronicles. It is not known whether she was a compound person (that is, whether few real woman lifes and deeds were attributed to one) or real.

In 980 (possibly 985) she married Eric VI of Sweden. She may have given birth to Olof Skötkonung who later became king of Sweden, but some doubt that.

After 994 she married Sweyn I of Denmark under the name Gunhilda. From this second marriage she probably had five children, including Canute the Great and Harold II of Denmark.


Who was she?

The information in Scandinavian sources are different from those of contemporary chroniclers, which suggest that she was Slavic.

Scandinavian sources

According to the Norse sagas, Sigrid the Haughty was the daughter of the powerful Swedish Viking Skoglar Toste. She married Eric the Victorious, the king of Sweden, and together they had the son Olof Skötkonung. She divorced from Eric and was given Götaland as a fief. After Eric's death, she married Sweyn Forkbeard, the king of Denmark.

Prior to this marriage, Olaf Trygvasson, the king of Norway had proposed to her, but she was offended by him when he demanded that she convert to Christianity. This affront, made her work towards Olaf's undoing by allying Sweden and Denmark against Norway. She was successful when Olaf fell against Sweden and Denmark in the naval Battle of Swold, in the year 1000.

She was given the cognomen Haughty when she had Harald Grenske burnt to death in order to discourage other petty kings to dare proposing to her.

The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus confirms the Norse sagas, when he writes that Eric the Victorious' widow Syritha had married Sweyn Forkbeard after having spurned Olaf Trygvasson.

Contemporary chroniclers

However, a theory holds that she was the daughter of a mythical Burislav (possibly Mieszko I of Poland and Dubrawka). The medieval chroniclers seem to support the hypothesis that her father was Mieszko I.

Medieval chroniclers who mention that mother of Canute was either Slavic or Polish:

  • Thietmar mentioned that the daughter of Mieszko I of Poland and sister of Boleslaw I of Poland married Sweyn I of Denmark and gave him two sons, Canute the Great and Harold II of Denmark, but he did not mention her name. He is probably the best informed from all medieval chroniclers, since he was contemporary to described events and well-informed about the events in Poland and Denmark.
  • Adam of Bremen mentioned that a Polish princess was the wife of Eric the Victorious and that she was the mother of Canute the Great and Harold II of Denmark. Adam's informations here are sometimes considered dubious.
  • "Cnutonis regis" mentioned in one short passage that Canute and his brother went to the land of the Slavs, and brought back their mother, who lived there. This does not necesarily mean that his mother was Slavic, but nevertheless it's strong suggestion that she was.
  • There is an inscription in "Liber vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey Winchester", that king Canute's sister name was "Santslaue" ("Santslaue soror CNVTI regis nostri"), which without doubt is Slavic name. J. Steenstrup suggested, that Canute's sister may have been named after her mother, hence coining (now generally agreed upon) hypothesis, that her Slavic name is Świętosława, but only as a reconstruction based on a single mention of her daughter's name and the hypothesis that she named her daughter after herself. This is also in favour of theory that Sigrid was daughter of Mieszko I.

Moreover, fact that Canute mother was Boleslaw sister may explain some mysterious facts which appear sometimes in medieval chronicles, as the mentioning of Polish troops in invasions of England.

External link

pl:Sygryda Storråda sv:Sigrid Storråda


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