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You renounced your heritage, you embraced our world and our God and i have had your children and they are not Viking. And if i thought they were Viking.. i would kill them before killing myself.

– Gisla to Rollo, Two Journeys

Gisla of the West Franks is the daughter of the Emperor Charles and his most trusted adviser. She is also the fine wife of Rollo and mother of William, Marcellus and Celsa.

Biography 

Season 3 

In the episode Paris, we are first introduced to Duchess Gisla who is the daughter of the Emperor Charles of Frankia. Gisla is no fool nor a puppet and is much more involved than her father can ever be. The city is in a panic as Ragnar and his warriors scout a way into the fortified city. Gisla is committed to the people and believes that she and her father should stay and give them support.

Count Odo, one of her father's advisers who has helped fortify the city in preparation for the attack, advises the Emperor to leave or at least ask his brothers to help. Charles refuses to ask for help, insisting that he must prove himself to be a worthy successor to his grandfather, Charlemagne. Secretly, Charles is unsure and afraid of remaining in the city, and seeks his daughter's counsel. Gisla advises him that he must remain in Paris to show his bravery and commitment to his subjects. She quickly assures her father that she is certain he had already decided to do so on his own, allowing him to hide his uncertainty and save face.

After Charles retires, Count Odo brings up his marriage proposal, which the princess previously refused. He ponders why she has also refused so many other, better, offers of marriage. Gisla informs him that if he is able to keep the city safe, she will forever be in his debt, and offers him her hand to kiss, which he does. However, she does not make any explicit promise to marry him.

On the eve of the Vikings attack, Charles and Gisla enter the city cathedral, wearing their royal masks. While Charles keeps his mask and prays before the altar, Gisla removes her and looks upon the people so as to encourage them and maintain hope.

In the episode To the Gates!, Ragnar and his warriors lay siege to the gates of Paris. Safely locked away, Charles sits on his throne, wearing his mask, his eyes darting around the room in fear. Elsewhere, Gisla plans a counter-attack of her own and knows that, while the Northmen may have smaller numbers, they strike fear into her people and that is how they defeat and raid cities.

She is shown the sacred banner Oriflamme of Saint Dennis, the patron saint of France, by a monk. She then brings the Oriflamme to the cathedral and begs the bishop to bless it, which he does. Princess Gisla ascends the gates, presenting the Oriflamme to the Parisian soldiers, declaring that they should “Show no mercy! Fight on! Fight to the death!”. On the gate, she catches a glimpse of Rollo and the pair lock eyes before he is thrown over by a group of Parisians. Ragnar realises defeat and retreats with his remaining warriors.

In the episode Breaking Point, when the Vikings stage a subsequent night attack on the city, Gisla distributes daggers to her maids and commands them not to allow themselves to be captured alive by the heathens. The Princess then rushes to the besieged gate, accompanied by the Oriflamme. During the battle, she approaches the corridor and observes Rollo in combat, until Roland beckons her to retreat to a safer distance. After the Vikings retreat, she stares with disgust at the captured Sinric and Earl Siegfried. After Count Odo and Emperor Charles decide to spare Sinric, Gisla asks what is to be done with Siegfried. Count Odo suggests bartering or ransoming the Earl, but Gisla demands that he be executed. However, at his execution, Siegfried botches the beheading and tricks one soldier into losing his hand. Gisla just scowls at this travesty.

With the city running out of food and a spreading plague, Count Odo advises the Emperor to come to terms with the Vikings. The Princess vehemently opposes any negotiations with the Northmen, insisting that the Parisians "Should never give in to these vile pagans" because doing so would be failure for which they would be judged. Despite her protests, her father permits Count Odo to meet the Northmen to negotiate an end to the siege.

After Ragnar agrees to accept a ransom payment and end the siege, Emperor Charles holds a celebratory mass. Despite everybody else's high spirits, Gisla is sullen at the fact that her father had to pay the Vikings to leave and does not consider the outcome worth celebrating. She asks the Emperor, "How do you count that a victory, Father?". The Emperor dismisses her objections and promises that they will be better prepared for the next raid, before retiring to rest. Count Odo also approaches Gisla to discuss his prior proposal, but Gisla remains cold and stoic towards him, saying this is "Neither the time nor place for earthly things". Her rebuke enrages the Count, who then seeks the company of another woman eager to show her gratitude.

In the episode The Dead, Ragnar, who is believed to have died, is brought inside Paris in order receive a Christian mass before burial, springs out of his coffin before a shocked court and holds a knife to the Emperor's neck. Gisla herself attacks Ragnar, trying to pull him from her father. Ragnar then overpowers Gisla and takes her hostage, using her to move past the guards and reach the outermost gate. After reaching the outer gate, Ragnar releases Gisla and gestures for her to run away, which she does after staring at him incredulously. Ragnar's pallbearers then open the gate and allow the Vikings to enter and raid parts of the city.

With winter approaching, however, Ragnar decides to return home until Spring leaving Rollo and a few other warriors behind. Safe inside the castle, her father reveals his plan to win over the Vikings - with his brothers refusing to help, he must offer something more valuable than gold and silver: a marriage, to his daughter. Gisla refuses, but Emperor Charles says she will not refuse her ruler as an emissary has already been sent to the Viking camp. In addition to the offer of marriage to Gisla, the Emperor's delegation offers to grant Rollo lands in the Northern part of Frankia and the title of "Duke". Rollo, intrigued, comes to the castle to meet with the Emperor and his daughter. Before negotiations begin, Gisla stands up and spews her hatred and disdain for Rollo and the proposed marriage, refusing to go along with it. Rollo, apparently oblivious to what she is saying, simply smiles and says "Hello" in Old French.

Season 4

In the episode A Good Treason, Gisla's father escorts her down the aisle for her wedding to Rollo. Upon gazing at her future husband, the Princess begins to cry. The bishop tries to implore her to kneel at the altar so he can start the vows. However, when she does not bow her head in prayer, her father pushes her head down himself and commands the bishop to continue the wedding.

Following the wedding, Gisla resists even more fervently. Roland has to carry her over his shoulder to the bedchamber while she screams and thrashes. Gisla curses and spits and Roland, yelling that she wants to die. When she sees Rollo undressing for the bedding, she breaks down and weeps in prayer. After Rollo ejects everyone else from the bedchamber, he tries to comfort Gisla and assures her that she has nothing to fear from him. Gisla does not understand him and screams for him to leave her alone. Rollo seizes and embraces Gisla. She pulls out a dagger from the bed and holds it to his face, but Rollo just laughs. He takes a pillow from under Gisla's head and goes to sleep. Gisla threatens to cut Rollo with her dagger, but her attempts only tickle him. She is surprised and frustrated that Rollo actually falls to sleep in the midst of this.

In the episode Kill the Queen, Gisla enters a room and sees Rollo getting a haircut and is dressed like a Frankish noble. He respectfully bows to her and Gisla starts to laugh with her maidens ridiculing him.

In the episode Mercy, during a feast Rollo tries to approach her at the table where she sits along side her father. She remains hateful and cursing at him. When Rollo tries to call her his wife in Frankish she throws a cup of wine at his face saying that she would never be his women and that she wants a divorce before storming off. Rollo left feeling angry and defeated jumps over the table and scares some of the Emperor's subjects before striding off into another room. Charles asks Odo to go find him and beg him to stay. Odo finds him and tries to explain, however it is very difficult for Rollo to understand and so he suggests that someone should try to teach him how to speak the Frankish language.

In the episode Yol, Papal legate from Rome arrives to deal with their divorce. Rollo begs her to reconsider and she indeed admits she felt touched by his loyalty and dedication to learn their language. He then gives her his Viking band to show his allegiance to her. Later they are shown making love passionately in their bedchamber. Gisla later gets a new haircut and starts to behave more lasciviously, even taking Rollo to a nearby room to have sex during the Christmas feast.

In the episode Promised, Rollo and Gisla are shown in their bedchamber as two servants come in and place food on the table. Rollo strokes her hair and talks about how he cannot wait to take control of his Northern lands at his own court. Gisla jumps in by saying that they still have business here, family business. She then goes on to say that her father needs him because he is the only strong man that she knows that can support and guide her father in the right direction. Rollo suggests that her father also has Count Odo to which Gisla bad-mouths Odo by saying that she doesn't like him nor does she trust him, she amusingly adds that he may die in battle, getting slain by an unknown assailant, thereby having Charles to rely more on Rollo. Rollo takes her hand and tells her that only a coward kills a man by stabbing him in the back, to which Gisla then amusingly adds, that is only what a Viking would do and that Rollo is no longer a Viking, before seductively feeding her husband a piece of chicken.

In the episode What Might Have Been, the Emperor Charles pleads with Rollo to not change sides, to not go back to his brother, to which Rollo promises that he will not betray the Emperor nor will he betray Paris and that he will most definitely not betray his wife to which Gisla joyfully smiles before saying that they will prevail.

In the episode The Profit and the Loss, they are later shown together during the attack on the towers, where Rollo brought her to watch and carefully keep his eye on her. Later when the battle is won she and Rollo take a stroll on the beach and to her dismay she is surprised to see women among the dead on the beach. Rollo then tells her about the shield-maidens specially Lagertha. When she asks if she will ever meet her Rollo answers; "Maybe some day".   

In the episode Portage, while sat at the table with her father and Rollo. Gisla excitedly announces her pregnancy to which they all make a toast to the first grandchild of the new Frankish/Viking alliance. Later, Gisla accompanies Rollo who gains a new title and is awarded by the Emperor the Iron hand of Frankia. 

In the episode Death All Round, Charles proudly announces his daughter's pregnancy to his fellow subjects and gives Roland the title of Duke to Gisla's dismay. Later in bed she and Rollo start to discuss about his appointment and how dangerous it could be.

In the episode The Last Ship, Gisla is then shown praying to the Virgin Mary for Rollo's protection during the battle of the boats. When he returns bloody and batted, she is the very first to embrace him. Rollo is then named Caesar, after he wins the battle and defeats his brother Ragnar.

In the episode Two Journeys , Duchess Gisla is first seen sat on her Normandy throne with her husband, Rollo and their three children WilliamMarcellus and Celsa as Bjorn and the other Vikings enter the Palace. Her husband introduces her and their family to his nephews before one of the nannies takes the children away. Both Rollo and Gisla are confused as to why they are here and so Rollo asks his nephew Bjorn who replies saying "That he wants to go here" showing his uncle an old map of the Mediterranean sea. The only catch is that they have to sail through the Frankish coastline.  

Later, Rollo tells Gisla that the only way he'll let them pass is if he can go with them. Gisla argues with him and tells him that he is no longer a Viking and that he renounced his heritage and embraced her world and her God. Gisla threatens that if she thought that her children were Viking she would kill them and herself which angers Rollo. Rollo grabs her by the chin and tells her that everything she says is true. He then proceeds to tell her that he loves her and their children, but he cannot deny that part of him which is still Viking. Gisla however isn't having any of it and tells him that he isn't trying hard enough. Rollo backs away and tries to explain his feelings by talking about the thunder and how only she would hear thunder but he still hear's the God Thor beating his hammer. Gisla shakes her head and walks away. She then swiftly turns around and throws an ornament from the table in her anger. As it smashes into pieces, she bitterly says that if he goes away, whether he lives or dies that him leaving her would probably be the end of them.  

Duchess Gisla is then seen sat on her throne with her children by her side, scowling as her husband is no where to be seen.  

In the episode The Great Army, Gisla is still upset that her husband abandoned her and their children. She asks the guards to leave her and and her husband to talk. As soon as they are alone she lets rip of her pent-up anger and cusses at her husband in Old Frankish before she slaps and punches him in the face leaving Rollo stunned.  

Personality

Princess Gisla is a very elegant, strong-willed, independent woman who is the beloved wife of Duke Rollo and loving mother of William, Marcellus and Celsa. She is very brave and protective over her family and her people always giving them hope to hold on to. Gisla is very loyal and intelligent which is why she is her fathers most trusted adviser. She's a woman of considerable courage and resolution with a fierce determination and isn't afraid to speak her own mind and stand up for what she believes in.  

However, at times she can also come across as being a bit too self-possessed or spoiled and can be extremely stubborn at times. Gisla believes strongly in her Christian faiths and is very devoted to her Frankish Gods. She has a bad distaste for pagans who worship other Gods in whom she likes to call savages.

Quotes

Soldiers! Citizens of Paris! Behold the Oriflamme. Behold the sacred flag of Saint-Denis. Behold the sacred flag of Francia. Behold, soldiers of Christ. That wherever the Oriflamme is, no quarter is to be given to our enemies. Soldiers, show no mercy. Fight on! Fight to the death!

– Gisla, To the Gates!

Whatever my father says, I am not marrying this animal. I am a Princess of the blood, not a cheap whore. I would rather be burned alive than suffer this… thing, to so much as lay a hand on me. He is a filthy pagan. Therefore he has no soul. He is worse than the beasts of the field. I would rather my virginity and my virtue to the vilest dog than to this piece of warm meat. He disgusts me. He makes me want to vomit.

– Gisla to Rollo, The Dead

What's more important to you: our marriage, your appointment by the Emperor or your Viking soul?

– Gisla to Rollo, Yol

You renounced your heritage, you embraced our world and our God and i have had your children and they are not Viking.

– Gisla to Rollo, Two Journeys

Trivia

  • Gisla in Old German means "To Pledge".
  • In the Vikings (TV series), Princess Gisla's character is based on both the Princess Gisela of France and Poppa of Bayeux, both to have been said to be the consorts of Rollo, later known as Duke Rollo of Normandy.
  • Princess Gisela is the daughter (probably natural) of King Charles III "The Simple" of the West Franks.
  • Gisela's true existence is still being disputed to this day.

Appearances  

Season three appearances
Mercenary The Wanderer Warrior's Fate Scarred The Usurper
Born Again Paris To the Gates! Breaking Point The Dead
Season four appearances
A Good Treason Kill the Queen Mercy Yol Promised
What Might Have Been The Profit and the Loss Portage Death All 'Round The Last Ship
The Outsider The Vision Two Journeys In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning All His Angels
Crossings The Great Army Revenge On the Eve The Reckoning