Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who is this woman?

"I would rather be in hell with Mr. Lave than in paradise with Mr Truid."
Görvel Fadersdotter was a Danish-Swedish (Scanian) landholder and county administrator, or squire, who held extensive tracks of land throughout Scandinavia in the early 16th century.

The map below gives a cursory sketch of her holdings, which extended into Shetland.
She is described as clever and sensible, with the ambition to "learn to count as a bailiff, hammer nails like a carpenter, think like a professor, construct as an architect and farm like a farmer", and she was reportedly successful in her ambitions. She managed her estates by the help of good tenants, and constructed the Torup Castle in Scania after her own drawings.

Görvel married three times:
  • in 1532 to Swedish riksråd Peder Nilsson Grip (1507–1533), 
  • in 1534 to Danish riksråd Truid Gregersen Ulfstand (1487–1545) 
  • in 1547 to Danish riksråd Lave Brahe (1500–1567). 
She had one child; her son Nils Ulfstand, (1535–1548), who died of the plague during a trip with his stepfather.

She only visited Norway once, but was from the 1530s a frequent guest of the Danish King, as he was of her. Among her estates, she preferred to live at Börringekloster in Scania, where she acted as the guardian of many daughters of the nobility.

So the picture comes through of a person who is quite powerful and rich, strong-willed, intelligent, and, as the quote from her reveals, not overly pious.

So what?

From the manuscript's carbon dating, we know that Görvel lived a century too late to have been involved in the Voynich. Yet the wording in the manuscript is clearly in a Fenno-Norse tongue, possibly Kven, and Görvel was by far not the only Scandinavian noblewoman with this amount of power, privilege, and drive. I was about to say land as well, but really Görvel takes the cake there. Her holdings were vast.

Sources on Fadersdottr

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