The Story of How Wilhelm Got His Name – Told by Gretta Vollan

I have been asked why I named my youngest son, Wilhelm. It is not a common Norse name, I will admit.

After I had my first son, Gunnar, and Thorbjorn had married my sister, Aesa, and become Jarl of our village, we were again on the battlefield, far from home. We were fighting with a group of warriors local to the region we were in. The fighting was fierce, the enemy was using a type of weapon called a “crossbow” and many of our side were going to be finding themselves in Valhalla that night. I had gotten separated from the rest of our Viking group and found myself fighting with our new allies.

One in particular had a fierce fighting style and a strong shield, strong enough to take the arrows from the crossbows. We fought well together. During a brief break in the fighting, I learned his name was Wilhelm, and he had been fighting to earn enough money to convince his heart’s desire, but had recently learned she loved and married another. The fighting started up again, I could see my Vikings nearby. I turned to see a crossbow aimed directly at me! Wilhelm sprang up, threw his strong shield in front of me, and took the arrow intended to end my life.

I felt I needed to reward his bravery, so I named my second son in his honor.