At first I hesitated if I should include Ingrid Ylva, since not much is known about her, but she is an important figure in Swedish History, since her descendants helped shaped Sweden into the Country it is today. She is also representative for what noblewomen did.
Not much is known about Ingrid Ylva. She was born in the late 1100s into a Swedish noble family. Some historians believe that she was the granddaughter of Sverker the Elder, a Swedish King. She married Magnus Minnesköld, who was a nobleman from the Bjälbo family. At this time, the Bjälbo family had a lot of influence. Birger Brosa was the Jarl, which meant he was second only to the king. It was a tumultos time, with a lot of strife between different families. Magnus died in 1210 ( or 1208), and after his death Ingrid ruled the family for a long time forward. And she did so very successfully.
Unike most noblewomen, she didn’t remarry for a long time, instead she focused on raising her four sons from her marriage with Magnus Minnesköld and making sure the family prospered. And she was very successful. Birger Jarl became Jarl, just like his uncle, and shaped Sweden. Her sons Karl and Bengt both became bishops of Linköping. She also had a stepson, Eskil that became Lagman (= judge, of a kind). I have no idea if she had any daughters as well, since there are no information about that.
She did have a lot of grandchildren that either were members of the Swedish Royal Family or married into the royal family of Norway or Denmark. This also made Swedish history really interesting later on…
There are rumors that she eventually re-married, after her sons were grown. This rumor is based on the fact that there is an Elof mentioned as a brother to Birger Jarl, but his descendents used a different shield.
Aside from raising her sons, she also ruled the family. While she might not have a lot of influence (or interest) when it came to warfare, she had the last word when it came to the household. Which might not sound as much, until you consider that household for a Noblewoman* meant all the houses the family owned. This means that she was consulted about marriages, informed about new servants (especially the higher ranking ones), new purchases of land. In addition to all this she also kept an eye on what happened at court, and kept in touch with her family in general.
(One interesting fact, unbased, that I read about Ingrid Ylva, was that she was a white witch, using her power for good. I’ll admit that made me go “Ooh.” Since I have a historical Fantasy series set in Sweden.)
This was the first post in a series of blog post. I think the next one will be about Birger Jarl’s laws. Or maybe even about the Jarl himself.
* This is an assumption by me, based on what Queen Margareta did ~300 years later. And while some things of course changed I suspect it didn’t change that much.