Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Usually when I think of Polish kings, queens or princesses, I associate it with Slavic culture only – as this is the culture they were brought up in. But we tend to forget that the world of kings and queens was probably even more international than a world of average person nowadays. They would get married into different dynasties to get support and new allies. They would arrange weddings of their sons and daughters already at their birth. The international connections were meant to bring them power and strength.
And so the story of Swietoslawa began. In Poland she is mentioned – if at all – as a sister of Boleslaw Chrobry, first of all Polish kings. But in Scandinavian history she plays quite a huge role. She is the main character (tragic one) of some of Scandinavian tales called Sagas. She has been remembered in the world of Vikings – the world, that seems to be so far away from the Slavic culture that we think of when talking about Polish dynasties.
Swietoslawa was born in the second part of the 10th century as a daughter of Mieszko I (the one that was supposed to form Polish country) and Dobrava (Czech princess that brought Christianity to Poland). In Scandinavian Sagas she is described as Sigrid Storrada (the Haughty). She was the queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
We do not know when Swietoslawa was exactly born (probably between 960 and 972). Already around 980 her father – Mieszko I – arranged her wedding with the Swedish king – Eric the Victorious. It was the political marriage that was supposed to strengthen Mieszko’s power at the Baltic Seaside. She had two known legitimate children with Eric – Olof and Holmfryd. After Eric’s death, she was a ruler on behalf of her young son.
She proved to be a great politician – or an envious woman as some may perceive her. In 996 she got married to a Danish and Norwegian king - Sweyn Forkbeard. Although she has been chased away by her husband – who in 1013 became king of England - in 1002, and hid at her brother’s , after Sven’s death her sons came to Poland to beg her to come back with them to Denmark.
The Nordic Sagas mention also her love and affection to Olaf Tryggvason. Some tales mention that she was rejected by him (what led her to the marriage with her second husband - Sven) while other mention that it was her rejecting Olaf’s proposal due to the fact that she would need to become Christian.
Some question the overall existence of Sigrid or her Polish origin. But many try to prove that Sigrid the Haughty, that has been described in Nordic Sagas, is the same person as Swietoslawa – daughter of Mieszko I and sister of Boleslaw Chrobry.