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Gunnhildr Freysdottir of Vikingrunionen (Norse) by Gambargin Gunnhildr Freysdottir of Vikingrunionen (Norse) by Gambargin
A concept drawing for the Viking Woman Warrior (Norse/Viking Shieldmaiden) of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series: Medieval Revisited  which is a recreation of the original HWS series based on the  AD 800 - AD 1400 era of warfare. Vikingrunion is a rather anachronistic representation of the various Scandinavian Norse under one single banner, representing the real-life Scandinavian Vikings during the Viking age, albeit like to the Kalmar Union that existed in the middle ages.

Inspired by the music: Sovngarde (EOS Skyrim OST)by Jeremy Soule


Hws Logo by Gambargin


INTRODUCTION

'789: In this year King Beorhtric took to wife Eadburh, daughter of King Offa. And in his days there came for the first time three ships of Northmen, from Hörthaland: and the reeve rode thither and tried to compel them to go to royal manor - for he did not know what they were - and they slew him. These were the first ships of the Danes to come to England.' - Thus, the first written report of the Viking Raids by the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings first victim and later on, their swore enemies. In our modern society, the Norse Vikings have occupied a rather romanticized image, especially in popular media. While their portrayal lies somewhere between the most fantastic of fantasy, to the grimmest accuracy, it is without doubt that these so called Norse vikings that originated from Scandinavia, have left a long lasting mark in the history of Europe....and perhaps, even beyond that of what we now perceive.


DRAWING COMMENTARIES

When it comes to the middle ages, there's no shortage of inspirations and works related to the Vikings. From their often romanticized mythology and portrayal, to the more scholarly and insightful research, there's just so many on which I really admire! So, this drawing is dedicated to the Vikings, as part of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series!

The challenge with the Vikings, as with portraying the Anglo-Saxons, is that, only few of their equipments, arms and armor survived; mostly from burial artifacts. Other sources like the Bayeux Tapestry gave a slight idea of their equipments and warfare, but other than that, most artists tend to mix their eqipments with those that existed during the Vendel period. A good example would be the mail shirt which are so often depicted, since no findings have ever unearthed Viking mail shirt from the era. However, the Anglo-Saxons did mentioned about their usage, probably only by the leaders and elite warriors (Gambeson and simple cloth were much more common!). Another example would be the Viking Helmets since only few of them survived from the Viking Age. One of the best example would be that unearthed from Gjermundbu Grave, while similar ones were found from the Pre-Viking Vendel Era. Winged helmets are the product of Victorian Era Fantasy, though illustration of Horned Helmet did exists, most probably used for ceremonial purposes.

As for the character depicted in the series, she is Gunnhild Freysdottir av Rogaland, daughter of Frey Hjalmarsson, chieftain of Rogalan, that ruled on the south western coast of what is now Norway. She is depicted in typical, but stylized Viking mail shirt, danish axe (two handed so technically she cannot use shield at the same time), viking round shield (which is rather small), seax and the stylized Vendel era-helmet. On the other hand, her retainer on the right is depicted with the Gjermundbu helmet, with the distinctive visor and nose guard. The warriors on the background are supposedly to be depicted with gambeson and cloth, with flat round shields.

The historical accuracy of this drawing is very subjective and could be very Historically Wrong Indeed. Shield-maiden, as far as Historians concerned, only briefly mentioned in Scandinavian Saga from Iceland, written long after end of Viking Age. There is no historical evidence that suggested if Women took part in Viking Era Warfare. Still, their depiction remains a staple within the artistic communities. On the other hand, the Anglo-Saxons did have a woman warrior who fought in their ranks, a woman by the name of Aethelflaed of Mercia.


REFERENCES AND OTHER RELATED MEDIA

May clash/make friends with the following:

The Celts Deirdriu and Gwenhwyfar of Celtic Alliance (Celts) by Gambargin, The Anglo-Saxons Frua Aelfwynn of Seaxna Rice (Anglo-Saxons) by Gambargin, The Byzantines Basilissa Sotirisa of Basileia Rhiomanion (Greek) by Gambargin

and maybe..the North American Indian Immookalee of Italwa Ani-Yvwuyu (American Indian) by Gambargin

Developed from the original sketch: Gunhildr Freysdottir of the Nordic Kingdoms

Drawn as part of the Nordic Alliances in the Historically Wrong Sketch Series, whose aim is to portray the post-viking Christianized Scandinavia, including the Kingdom of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Not to be confused with Asa Dagsdottir the Horny Viking

A Part of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series: Medieval Revisited - You can find more on the various faction on the map here:

HWS Medieval Revisited - Faction Map v.1.30 by Gambargin


HISTORICAL COMMENTARIES

Vikings, who doesn't know them? From their axes to their longboats, their distinctive helmet to their shield-walls, the Vikings have been the staple for many popular media as well as subjects of numerous historical research. Their profound impact on the history of Europe had somewhat an antagonistic connotation, since most of historical records were written by their victims. But regardless of their perception, the Vikings had left their legacy from land as far as North America, the British Isles, coast of Northern Spain and France, to the region as far as the Volga rivers in Eastern Europe.

Norse, or Norsemen, is an umbrella term for the group of Scandinavians, the Norwegian, Danes and Swedish, who shared a common language, religion and short of common culture. Despite the generalization, Scandinavian societies during the viking age were mostly self-contained and there was hardly any unity between the Norse people during the viking age; every village, tribes and communities were practically an independent power of their own. Not all of them were there barbaric warriors as media often depicted them to be, The Norsemen were also famous for their artisans, craftsmanship, poetry as well as Traders.

Historically speaking, Viking itself is the Old Norse word for "Sea Expedition", and since many of these "Vikings" were encountered with their longboats on their seaborn/seafaring expedition, they were refereed a such. Of course, this is just a general assumption, as the term Viking could be found with more or less similar context in Scandinavian Sagas and Chronicles of the Anglo Saxons (Their Germanic cousins). Apart from their "warmongering" activity, they were also known for their rather strange culture to the rest of christened Europe, and that is bathing. They wash themselves every Saturday, while the majority of Europeans probably bathed once in a few months. One explanation was, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe had plenty of water and woods to support communal bathing facility. For the rest Europe, most bathing facilities were built by the already extinct Romans and was very very expensive due to the lack of logistics to support them. Also, communal bathing was seen as "following the decadent practice of the pagan roman", so the idea pretty much discouraged many people to partake in such activity. However, while the Norse people bath on their washing day (Saturday in old Norse), most Europeans washes their undergarments quite regularly, so maybe it's just a different perception of hygiene =P

The Vikings entered mainstream history in 793 AD, where the sudden burst of Viking Norse raiders and their subsequent expeditions from their homeland in Scandinavia, terrorized most of the known world. To assume that the the Viking-era started in this year is somewhat not very precise, since Norsemen took part in trades and expeditions much earlier than that. Initially, it was the Norwegian who started the raiding activities, but the Danes and the Swedish followed shortly after. By the turn of the 11th and 12th century, the Vikings activities had largely ceased to exist. This was contributed to several factors which includes the spread of Christianity in Scandinavia, as well as the lack of weak "raiding target" since most of their neighbors have developed a much more organized military system and stronger defense in their frontiers (which makes raids less profitable and more dangerous).

Norwegian Vikings first raided settlements in Orkney, Hebrides, Shetlands and Isle of Man, but shortly after the Norwegian and Danes settled in the area and established their firm base, before turning their eye towards Ireland. By mid 9th century, the had established trading cities in Eastern Coast of Ireland such as Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Waterford and Limerick. The vikings in Ireland made little attempt to go beyond their raiding and trading activities, probably because the local Irish population were too warlike and hostile, even for the Norsemen taste. They gradually merged with the local population, giving the identity of Gaels or Norse-Gaellic, but the last of the Vikings were defeated by the united Irish army in 1014 under the High King Brian Boru. Apart from Ireland, the Norwegian Vikings had established colonies in Iceland and Newfoundland in Canada, making them one of the earliest European explorer who encountered America long before Columbus in late 15th century. 

Danish Vikings, on the other hand, were seen as a much more ambitious Vikings compared to their northern brethren. Their activities mainly focused along the English channel and western coast of the British Isles. They appeared in 834 and cam in force, giving a rather terrorizing image to their victims. Not Only that, the Danes raided settlements as far as Tours, Orleans, Asturias and these activities of raiding took part annually. The Danes were perhaps famous for Invading England and establishing their own rule from Northumbria to east Anglia called the Danelaw. For the next centuries, the Danes would wrestle the control of England with the Anglo-Saxons, but they were eventually defeated in the early 10th century by the combined forces of Edward the Elder and Aethelflaed of Mercia. Another famous example is the settling of Danes (mostly) along the northern coast of france, which was given by the Frankish King to the Danes, giving birth to the name of Normandy and their descendant, the Normans who later became one of Europe's most fearsome war-machine.

Swedish Vikings gave an interesting perspective as compared to their Danish and Norwegian brethren, since their Viking-ing activities took part mostly in Eastern Europe. The Swedes had been trading along the Baltic centuries since at least early 7th centuries, but the actual raid led by the Swedish Vikings took place at 852 AD, when they attacked Novgorod and demanded "Danegeld" from its citizen. They would proceed further with their activities along the Volga River, settling down in the region and ruled the local slavic population who reffered them as 'Rus'. The extend of the vikings (Mainly Swedish) activity in Russia is somewhat debatable, but in contrast to their Danish and Norwegian counterpart, it was mostly focused on trading and settling. Of course, by "trading and settling", such activities would often resulted in conflict with the local population, and more often than not, when arms were called, battle took place which yields loots, lands and slaves. In 10th century, they had established Kiev and attempted to attack the great city of Constantinople which ended unsuccessfully. By then, the Vikings or 'Rus' who settled in down in the region, had been completely assimilated with their Slavic subjects, leaving little traces of their Scandinavian origin.


Disclaimer: I am by no means expert in History, just a humble man with passion for learning history. Also, English is not my first language so if you do find any errors or would like to make a correction/feedback, please feel free let me know :) (Smile)
Add a Comment:
 
:icongondorle:
gondorle Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2015  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Thank you for that. Viking women were awesomely fierce and brave. Thank you for that.
Reply
:icongrassa48:
grassa48 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Very nice. As always, you capture the spirit of the times.
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015
Thank you for the compliment sir! :)
Reply
:iconvalkyrja-skuld:
The "Rus" were also called Varangians. One of these assimilated Viking chieftains's descendance became the first Tsar of Muscovy under the name of Daniel the First, centuries after his ancestors settled near Novgorod.
It is also interesting to know that the Russians also bathed once a week, on Saturday. The russian banya (baths) tradition still lives today, maybe this was a remnant of the Viking customs the Varangians brought with them.

Great job on this shieldmaiden. She remembers me of Eowyn of Rohan, in Lord of the Rings.
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015
Thank you! The Varangians as the Byzantine called them rus, it's an interesting part of history, I might dedicate a chapter for themselves!

I suppose about this bathing thing may have to do with how abundant forest and water are in eastern Europe. It was said that a house built without a bathing house was no house at all :D
Reply
:iconvalkyrja-skuld:
Valkyrja-Skuld Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015
True! And I believe no XVIIIth century European palace had baths...except Czar Peter the Great's Peterhof in St. Petersburg.
Reply
:iconaristi1982:
aristi1982 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015  Hobbyist
Amazing! Great details on the helmet!!
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015
Thanks bro :D
Reply
:iconkithsoban:
kithsoban Featured By Owner Edited Mar 14, 2015
helmet decoration looks exquisite. nice drawing. I always like viking helmets
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015
Indeed, Vikings helmet have this special thing with them :D
Reply
:icontheastronomicon:
TheAstronomicon Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for spears... @ background. (It is projected that more likely than not their primary weapon, ubersteel of awesome aside, was the humble spear, mostly because it's pretty damn basic and takes next to nothing to make and even less to use). That being said, I enjoy this work, the centralization of the image around Gunnhildr especially. A gold star, my friend.
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015
Ah yes, I was reading about how the spear was more common as compared to swords, especially during this era. Thank you so much for the compliment sir! :)
Reply
:iconmivpus:
mivpus Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
I love the detail in this, as well as the historical knowledge your portray. 
Far too often, the Vikings are shown with odd costumes and horns, where in reality, they didn't run around with a two-meter helmet made of feathers. I mean, I know the whole "horn thing" came when  monks saw them as devils and all, but I am glad your portrayl is this good.
Reply
:iconshadowviking:
ShadowViking Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I really like everything you've done in this series—phenomenally detailed and illustrated. Great work!
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014
Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm glad you like my work :)
Reply
:iconsusandevy:
susandevy Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
very nice details in helmet and shield !
a badass viking lady indeed !
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014
Viking lady with proper dress, ready for battle and maybe some other viking-ing activities :D
Reply
:iconisbjoernson:
Isbjoernson Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, the detail on your main character is stunning. Definitely a great reference! Thanks for uploading this.
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014
You are more than welcome sir, i'm glad my work could be of any help!
Reply
:iconbastler:
bastler Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014
Actually Vikings beside knights is not too fantastic, as knights were present in the Viking era, just not the "classic" full plate armored knights.
Reply
:iconiglybo:
Iglybo Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014
Love that helmet ^^
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
Thanks :D
Reply
:iconiglybo:
Iglybo Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014
:hug:
Reply
:iconarwendeluhtiene:
ArwendeLuhtiene Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
She's awesome!
Fortunately it's not really historically 'wrong', as there are attestations of Scandinavian/Norse warrior-women (the 'shieldmaidens') in records, tombs and stories :) 
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
You are definitely correct! It's a bit amusing for me bacause most people think of Norse warrior women as Valkyries or some maidens dressed in winged helmet and armor that looked like wonder woman! I think my shield-maiden is pretty boring compare to the Valkyries that most people make :D
Reply
:iconarwendeluhtiene:
ArwendeLuhtiene Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I think she's awesome!! :)
Many people are probably influenced by Wagner-style Valkyries, I suppose...Which I like as well, but of course, they're not really that accurate historically (especially considering the oh-so-tightly corseted mail and long skirts the opera singers used to wear). And then there's the same ol' innacurate depictions of 'Northern warrior-women' in Wonder-Woman bikinis, yes...

Personally, I think realistic shieldmaidens look way more awesome :) Let us hope Lagertha from 'Vikings' helps extending that image!
Btw, I showed your Viking and Anglosaxon shieldmaidens to my mum (whose working on a project about Anglosaxon culture and Beowulf), and she loved them too :) Thanks again for drawing so many realistic warrior-women, we definitely need more like these nowadays!


Reply
:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think she could probably clash with pretty much anybody! ;) Wonderful job on her. I love the details of her helmet and the pattern on the shield.
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
Thanks akitku! the pattern on the shield is probably the hardest, nordic and anglo-saxon art are beautiful, but really challenging to make =P
Reply
:iconbrowncoatmando:
BrowncoatMando Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist

maybe another Gunhildr- an earlier one, maybe an ancestor of the Gunnhildr I wrote for.

In any case looks like she comes from "the land of the ice and snow..." and not someone to cross , lest your head end up on a spearpoint, if not hers, the army at her back

Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
The land of the ice and snow....i could probably write a saga for her :P
Reply
:iconbrowncoatmando:
BrowncoatMando Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2014  Hobbyist
connect her to your 4 way war for England- think I sent you an email about that.
Reply
:iconbrowncoatmando:
BrowncoatMando Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014  Hobbyist
as long as it ends in the Highlands in the 1130s, maybe end it with her moving to the Hebrides where Deirderu's messenger finds her,
or maybe this is just an ancestor- hanging out with the likes of Ragnar Lothbrok and such

the name- names tend to repeat in dynasties so when her father is named Frey he kind of has to name his daughter Gunhildr.
Reply
:iconcharcoalfeather:
charcoalfeather Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Love the details, especially the helmet and the shield. And the longboat in the background looks amazing too. A great improvement over the original!
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
Many thanks for the compliment :)
Reply
:iconironsides11:
ironsides11 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
I really like her helmet. This is a huge improvement from the original (and the original was pretty good too!).
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
Thanks for that! :)
Reply
:iconckyhc:
CKyHC Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
cool)
Reply
:icongambargin:
Gambargin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014
Cheers :)
Reply
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