Thursday, September 22, 2011

Freydis Ericsdotter, Who Murdered 5 Women in an Early American Viking Colony - 1010


Freydis Ericsdotter – Freydis was the daughter of Eirik the Red, the discoverer of Greenland.

This may not be a serial murder case, but rather a mass killing. It is nevertheless included here as an early example of multiple female murder of females.

EXCERPT from 1906 book: In the year 1006 Thorfinn Karlsfne, a wealthy merchant of Iceland, visited Greenland and remained through the winter. He was accompanied by three other merchants, who, with him, felt such deep interest in the new country to the south-west that an expedition of three vessels was fitted out, including more than a hundred men and women. Among the latter was one named Freydis – a reputed daughter of Eric the Red – the wife of a Greenlander, Thorvard, who commanded one of the vessels. If a tenth part of what is said of her is true, she was one of the most terrible Amazons that ever lived.

The expedition sailed in the spring of 1007. It promised to be the most successful of all the enterprises of that kind, but it ended in disaster. There was much quarreling among the women, and naturally, in time, it involved their friends and husbands. They spent the first winter on the shores, it is supposed, of Buzzards’ Bay [present-day Massachusetts and Rhode Island], and suffered much for want of food. The following summer a number of discontented members deserted the colony, but they were driven across the ocean to the coast of Ireland, and were captured and reduced to slavery.

The two remaining ships made a long exploring expedition to the southward. Just where they passed the succeeding winter is not known. For a time, when they returned to their old settlement, or its neighborhood, all went well, and they drove a brisk trade with the natives. But trouble soon came; the Northmen were attacked by the savages in overwhelming numbers, and though the white men fought with great courage, they were put to flight. The natives rushed after them like a mountain torrent, and doubtless would have slain every one, but for Freydis, wife of Captain Thorvard. She seized a sword, and beating her breasts with rage, she shamed the men, who rallied about her and soon put their assailants to flight.

The colony was abandoned in 1010, against the protests of Freydis, who saw how vastly superior in every respect the new country was to Greenland. By her indomitable will she succeeded in organizing a new expedition, which set sail the following spring. Her ambition and terrific temper soon divided the colonists into two parties of mortal enemies. Those who opposed her were slain, and among them were five women she killed with her own hand. The winter which followed must have been unspeakably gloomy to the survivors. They toiled hard in felling timber and gathering a few other productions, with which they set sail for Greenland. Freydis threatened with death any one who should tell of the massacre, but the truth gradually leaked out. Neither she nor her accomplices were punished, however, for what was certainly one of the most frightful misdeeds that can be conceived.

[Edward Everett Hale, Oscar Phelps Austin, Nelson Appleton Miles, George Cary Eggleston, The United States of America: a pictorial history of the American Nation From The Earliest Discoveries And Settlements To The Present Time, Volume 1. Imperial Pub. Co., New York, 1909, p. 5]

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