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Wealhþēow (pronounced ; also rendered Wealhtheow or Wealthow) is a legendary queen of the Danes in the Old English poem, Beowulf, first introduced in line 612.

Character overview

She is the WulfingWealhþeow is identified as a Helming in the poem, i.e. belonging to the clan of Helm, the chief of the Wulfings (Widsith, 21) queen of the Danes. She is married to Hroðgar, the Danish king and is the mother of sons Hreðric and Hroðmund and also of daughter Freawaru. The meaning of her name is disputed. One possible translation is "foreign slave" (Hill, 1990).

In her marriage to Hroðgar she is described as friðusibb folca (l. 1168), 'the kindred pledge of peace between peoples', signifying the Wulfing and Scylding interdynastic allegiance. Hence she is termed both 'Lady of the Helmings' (l. 620) (by descent, of the Wulfing clan of Helm) and 'Lady of the Scyldings' (l. 1168) (by marriage and maternity).

Two northern sources associate the wife of Hroðgar with England. The Skjöldunga saga, in Arngrímur Jónsson's abstract, chapter 3, tells that Hroðgar (Roas) married the daughter of an English king. The Hrolfs saga kraka, chapter 5, tells that Hroðgar (Hróarr) married Ögn who was the daughter of a king of Northumbria (Norðhymbraland) called Norðri.

The argument was advanced in 1897Gregor Sarrazin 1897, Neue Beowulf-studien, Englische Studien 23, 221-267, at p. 228-230. See also Fr. Klaeber (Ed.), Beowulf and the Fight at......
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