The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sagas of Olaf Tryggvason and of Harald The Tyrant (Harald Haardraade), by Snorri Sturluson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Sagas of Olaf Tryggvason and of Harald The Tyrant (Harald Haardraade) Author: Snorri Sturluson Illustrator: Halfdan Egedius; Christian Krogh; Gerhard Munthe; Hjalmar Eilif Emanuel Peterssen; Erik Theodor Werenskiold; Wilhelm Laurits Wetlesen Translator: Ethel Harriet Hearn and Gustav Storm Release Date: July 17, 2007 [EBook #22093] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SAGAS OF OLAF TRYGGVASON *** Produced by Louise Hope, Charlene Taylor, Ted Garvin and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
The printed book’s only clue about authorship is in the Notes. All other information comes from the Norwegian edition and some illustrators’ initials.
Original author: Snorri Sturluson (generally spelled Snorre Sturlason in Norwegian).
Modern (1899) Norwegian translation: Gustav Storm.
Illustrators: Halfdan Egedius; Christian Krogh (CK); Gerhard Munthe; Hjalmar Eilif Emanuel Peterssen; Erik Theodor Werenskiold (EW); Wilhelm Laurits Wetlesen (WW). The illustrators are listed as a group; some may not be represented within these two sagas.
English translation (based on modern Norwegian, not on original): Ethel Harriet Hearn.
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Note markers shown in brackets [§] were missing from the printed text. Moved markers are individually noted.
OW it befell in the days of King Tryggvi Olafson that the woman he had wedded was Astrid & she was the daughter of Eirik Biodaskalli, a wealthy man who dwelt at Oprostad. ¤ When the downfall of Tryggvi had been accomplished, Astrid fled away bearing with her what chattels she might. And with her went her foster-father Thorolf Louse-Beard, who never left her, whereas other trusty men, loyal to her, fared hither and thither to gather tidings of her foes or to spy out where they might lurk. Now Astrid being great with child of King Tryggvi caused herself to be transported to an islet on a lake & there took shelter with but few of her company. ¤ In due time she bare a man-child, and at his baptism he was called Olaf after his father’s father. All that summer did she abide there in hiding. But when the nights grew as long as they were dark and the weather waxed cold, she set forth once more and with her fared Thorolf and the others of her train. Only by night could they venture in those parts of the country that were inhabited being in fear lest they should be seen of men or meet with them. In time, at even, came they to the homestead of Eirik of Oprostad. And since they were journeying by stealth, Astrid sent a messenger to the goodman of the house, who bade them to be led to an outhouse & there had set before them the best of cheer. Thence, when Astrid had abided for a while, her followers went unto their homes, but she remained there & with her to bear her company were two women, her babe Olaf, Thorolf Louse-Beard and his son Thorgills who was six winters old. They rested in that place until the winter was done.
¶ After they had made an end to slaying Tryggvi Olafson, Harald Grey-Cloak and Gudrod his brother hied them to the homesteads that had been his. But ere they came thither Astrid had fled & of her learned they no tidings save a rumour 9 that she was with child of King Tryggvi. ¤ In the autumn fared they to the north, as has been related beforetime, and when they were face to face with their mother Gunnhild, told they her all that had befallen them on their journey. Closely did she question them concerning Astrid, and they imparted to her what they had heard. But because the sons of Gunnhild were that same autumn and the next winter at strife with Earl Hakon, as hath already ere now been set forth, made they no search for Astrid and her son.
¶ When the spring was come, Gunnhild despatched spies to the Uplands, and even as far as Vik, to get news of Astrid. And when the spies returned it was with the tidings that she was with her father Eirik & there most like was she rearing the son that she had borne to King Tryggvi that was dead. Forthwith Gunnhild chose messengers and equipped them handsomely both with weapons and wearing apparel: thirty men chose she, and their leader was Hakon, a man of influence and a friend to herself. She bade them make their way to Oprostad to Eirik and from thence take the son of Tryggvi and bring him unto herself. ¤ Thereupon the messengers set out on their way, but when they were come nigh to Oprostad learned the friends of Eirik concerning their journey and went one evening unto him with the tidings. ¤ Straightway when night had fallen, Eirik bade Astrid make ready to leave, furnished her with sure guides, & set her eastwards with her face towards Sweden, to his friend Hakon the Old, who was a man in the exercise of potent sway. They adventured when the night was not far spent, & next day, towards even, were they come to a country-side called Skaun, and seeing there a homestead thither went they craving lodging for the night. Of their names they made a secret & their garb was but meanly. The yeoman who abode in the place was called Biorn Venom-Sore, a wealthy man was he but withal churlish, and he drave them away, & they came that same evening 10 to another homestead which was called Vizkar. ¤ Thorstein was the yeoman who dwelt there & he gave them shelter and good cheer for the night, and there they slept in good beds.
¶ Next day betimes came Hakon with the men of Gunnhild to Oprostad and asked for Astrid and her son, but Eirik said that she was not there, so Hakon and his men ransacked the homestead and bided till late even toward sundown, and gat them some tidings of Astrid’s road. Then rode they forth the same day and came almost as night fell to the house of Biorn Venom-Sore in Skaun, and there took harbour. ¤ Then Hakon asked Biorn if he had aught to tell concerning Astrid; and he said that some wayfarers had come there during the day and had asked for a night’s lodging, ‘I sent them away, and it is likely they sought a refuge elsewhere in the neighbourhood.’ Now a workman that had been of the household of Thorstein, being on his way to pass out from the forest, that same even happened to chance on the homestead of Biorn and learned that guests were tarrying, & further of what fashion was their errand; and all this he forthwith sped back to tell to Thorstein the yeoman. ¤ So while there was still a third of the night unspent, Thorstein aroused his guests and bade them begone, urging them harshly to bestir themselves. When they had passed a little way from the house then did Thorstein open unto them that the emissaries from Gunnhild were hard by at the house of Biorn seeking for them. ¤ They besought him for succour, and he set them on their way with a guide & some food, and their guide led them into the forest where there was a lake & an islet overgrown with reeds. They were able to wade out unto the islet & thereon hid they themselves among the reeds. ¤ Early on the morrow Hakon rode out from the homestead of Biorn over the countryside, asking he went for Astrid. When he was come unto the house of Thorstein demanded he if they had thither been and Thorstein said that certain folk had fared thither & had 11 gone on at daybreak eastwards through the forest. Then did Hakon bid Thorstein come with him because he was skilled in the knowledge of the tracks and hiding-places: and Thorstein set forth. But when they were come to the forest led he them away from where Astrid was. ¤ The whole of that day did they go seeking for them, but found them not. Then they came back on their road & related unto Gunnhild what had befallen. Astrid & her followers went forth on their way till they were come unto Sweden to the home of Hakon the Old, and there Astrid and her son dwelt a long while, and it was well with them.
¶ Gunnhild, she that was mother to the King, hearing that Astrid & her son Olaf were in Sweden, once more sent forth Hakon and a brave following with him, this time eastward to Eirik King of Sweden, with goodly gifts and fair words. The messengers were made welcome and given good entertainment, and thereafter Hakon made known his errand to the King, saying that Gunnhild had sent craving the King’s help so that he might take Olaf back with him to Norway: ‘Gunnhild will foster him,’ quoth he. ¤ Then did the King give him men to go with him, and they rode to the house of Hakon the Old, and there Hakon offered with fair words to take Olaf with him. Hakon the Old returned a friendly answer and said that it must so happen that the mother of the child should decide about his going, but Astrid would in nowise suffer the boy to fare forth with them. So the messengers went their way & brought back the answer unto King Eirik and they made them ready to return home; but once more prayed they the King to grant them help to bear off the boy whether Hakon the Old were willing or not. So the King yet again gave them a company of men & the messengers returned to Hakon the Old and demanded that the boy be allowed to fare forth with them, but as Hakon was unwilling that this should be, resorted they to big words and threats of violence, 12 and bore themselves wrathfully. Then did a thrall spring forward whose name was Bristle, and would have smitten Hakon but that he & they that were of his company withdrew hastily so that in nowise might they be beaten of the thrall: and back fared they to Norway and recounted to Gunnhild all the happenings of their journey & likewise that they had seen Olaf Tryggvason.
¶ Now Astrid had a brother, the son of Eirik Biodaskalli, whose name was Sigurd: long had he been remote from the land, sojourning in the realm of Garda (western Russia) with King Valdamar,§ by whom was he held in great honour. Now Astrid conceived the desire that she should hie unto this her brother Sigurd. Therefore Hakon the Old furnished her with trusty followers & handsome equipment after the best manner. And she journeyed in the company of certain merchants. It was for the space of two winters she had abode with Hakon the Old, and Olaf was now three winters old. It came to pass as they were heading eastwards across the sea some vikings fell upon them, men of Eistland (Esthonia) and took possession both of folk and goods, and some of the folk they killed & some they shared among themselves as thralls. Thus was Olaf withdrawn from his mother and passed into the custody of one Klerkon, an Eistlander. Together with him were committed Thorolf and Thorgills. Klerkon deemed Thorolf too old for a thrall, and that he would be of no use, therefore slew he him, but took the boys with him and sold them to a man, hight Klerk, for a good he-goat. ¤ A third man bought Olaf, and gave for him a good tunic or cloak. The man was named Reas, his wife Rekon, & their son Rekoni. There tarried Olaf long and it fared well with him, and always was he mightily beloved by the churl. Six winters did Olaf sojourn thus in Eistland.
¶ Sigurd Eirikson had come unto Eistland as an emissary of Valdamar King of Holmgard (Novgarod) to collect the tribute 13 belonging to the King & he travelled as a man of wealth with many folk much beladen in his train. ¤ Now it chanced that in the marketplace his eye lit on a certain fine boy whom he knew could not be of the country, & asking him his name gat for answer that he was called Olaf and his father Tryggvi Olafson and his mother Astrid, the daughter of Eirik Biodaskalli. Thus did Sigurd learn that Olaf was son unto his very own sister, and he asked him after what manner he had come to that place: and Olaf told him all that had befallen him. Sigurd bade him come with him to the peasant Reas, and when they were come to the churl paid he him what price was covenanted between them for the boys and bare them with him to Holmgard. But never a word did he relate of the lineage of Olaf, yet held he him in high favour.
¶ It was that one day in the marketplace lingered Olaf Tryggvason when there was a gathering of many people. And it chanced that amongst them, spied he Klerkon who had slain his fosterfather Thorolf Louse-Beard. Now Olaf had a small axe in his hand, and he drave it into the head of Klerkon so that it went right down into his brain: forthwith ran he home to his lodging and told his kinsman Sigurd thereof. Straightway did Sigurd take Olaf to the house of the Queen, and to her made known what had befallen. Her name was Allogia, and Sigurd prayed for her grace to protect the lad. The Queen beheld the boy and said that one so young and so well favoured must not be slain, and proclaimed her readiness to summon men fully armed. Now it fell in Holmgard that so great was the respect paid unto peace that it was lawful to slay any man who himself had slain another who was uncondemned; and therefore in accordance with their law and custom the people made assemblage together to take into custody the person of the boy. ¤ Then were they told that he was in the house of the Queen in the midst of an armed band; and this was also brought to the ears of the King. ¤ He made him ready to go 14 over to these armed men & give them his commission not to fight, and forthwith did he, the King, adjudge the geld-levy, the fine thereof being paid down by the Queen. Thereafter did Olaf abide in the house of the Queen and waxed to find much favour in her eyes.
¶ Now it was the law in Garda that men of royal blood should not dwell there save with the consent of the King, therefore Sigurd made known unto the Queen from what stock Olaf was descended and in what manner he had come thither, saying that because of dissensions he could not prudently be in his own country, and he prayed her to speak with the King upon this matter. Then did she approach the King beseeching him that he would help this son of a king even because so hard a fate had befallen him: & the outcome of her prayers was that the King pledged her his word and taking Olaf under his protection treated him with honour, as it was seemly the son of a king should be held in honour. ¤ Olaf was nine winters old when he came to Garda, & nine more winters dwelt he with King Valdamar. Olaf was exceeding fair & tall to look upon and of mighty stature & of great strength withal. And in prowess in sports, so it is told, was he the best of all the Norsemen.
¶ Earl Hakon Sigurdson abode with the Danish King, Harald Gormson, during the winter after he had fled from Norway before the sons of Gunnhild. ¤ Now Hakon had so much on his mind that winter that he took to his bed, and often lay wakeful, eating & drinking only so much as would maintain the strength in his body. Then secretly sent he his men northwards to Throndhjem to his friends there, & counselled them that they should slay King Erling if it might be that they could compass that deed; adding furthermore that he himself would fare back to his realm in summer-time. That winter they that were of Throndhjem slew Erling, as is aforewrit. ¤ Betwixt Hakon and Gold Harald was there a friendship close as that of brothers that have been laid in the same cradle and Harald 15 would lay bare his thoughts unto Hakon. ¤ Harald confessed he desired to settle on the land and no more live on his ship of war, and he questioned Hakon if he thought Harald would share his kingdom with him were he to demand the half. ‘Methinks,’ quoth Hakon, ‘that the Danish King will not refuse thee justice; but thou wilt know more concerning this matter if thou speakest thereon to the King; methinks thou wilt not get the realm save thou demandest it.’ Shortly after this talk spake Gold Harald to King Harald when they were in company 16 with many mighty men, good friends unto them both. Gold Harald then demanded that he should halve the kingdom with him, in accordance with the rights which his birth and lineage gave him there in Denmark. ¤ At this demand waxed Harald very wroth, & sware that no man had ever besought his father, Gorm, that he should become King of half of what pertained unto Denmark, nor yet of his father Horda-Knut (Hardicanute), nor again of Sigurd Snake-i’-the-eye, nor of Ragnar Lodbrok; & so great was his fury that none dared parley with him.
¶ Thence came it that his own position was now even less than before to the liking of Gold Harald, for no kingdom had he any more than aforetime; while to this was added the wrath of the King. So went he to his friend Hakon and made wail of his plight unto him, and besought of him good counsel, if he had such to give him, as to how he might become possessed of the realm; and he said he was minded to seek his kingdom by force of arms. Then Hakon bade him not breathe word of this to anyone lest it should become known: ‘It might cost thee thy life,’ he said. ¤ ‘Bethink thee diligently what thy strength is, for he who would risk so great a venture must be high-hearted and dauntless, shirking neither the good nor the evil, so that to which he hath set his hand may come to pass. All unworthy is it to take up great issues and afterwards to lay them down again with dishonour.’ Then did Gold Harald answer: ‘To such purpose will I take up this claim, that I will not even spare these my own hands from slaying the King himself if occasion serve, should he refuse me this kingdom which is mine by right.’ And therewith ended they their commune. After this came King Harald to Hakon, and they fell to talking together & the King told the Earl of Gold Harald’s claim to the kingdom, and with what answer he had rebuked him, declaring that he would by no means diminish his own kingdom, ‘but if Gold Harald hold fast to this his claim; then 17 see I nothing for it save that I should put him to the death for in him have I but little faith if he will not surrender this desire.’ The Earl made answer: ‘Methinks Harald hath set out on this matter with such earnestness that he is not like to set it aside; and that if it should come to a rising in the land, there would be many that would flock unto his standard and the main of them because of the love they had borne to his father. It would bring thee the greatest ill-chance shouldst thou slay thy kinsman, for in such case all men would deem him blameless. Nor will I counsel thee to become a lesser king than was Gorm thy father; he also very much increased his realm, but in no wise diminished it.’ Then said the King: ‘What then is thy counsel, Hakon? Wouldst thou that I should divide my kingdom, and have this unrest off my mind?’ ‘Our meeting will be again ere many suns set,’ answered Earl Hakon. ¤ ‘I will first ponder over this difficult matter, and thereafter give thee an answer.’ Then did the King depart and with him all the men that were of his company.
¶ Thereafter came it to pass that Earl Hakon betook himself once more to pondering and plotting, and permitted but few of his men to be in the house with him. Some days later came Harald again to the Earl, and they communed together, and the King asked of the Earl if he had thought deeply upon that matter whereon they had discoursed when they were last face to face. ‘On that matter,’ quoth the Earl, ‘have I lain sleepless both by night and day ever since, and I deem it the wisest counsel that thou shouldst hold and rule the kingdom that thy father had and that thou didst inherit after him, but that thou shouldst get for thy kinsman Harald another kingdom wherein he may have all honour.’ ‘What kingdom is that?’ inquired the King, ‘that I may lightly give to Harald, keeping the Danish kingdom whole the while?’ The Earl made answer, ‘It is Norway. The kings who rule there are hated by all the folk of their land, & every man wishes them ill, as is but meet.’ 18 Then mused the King aloud: ‘Norway is a great land, and the folk are a hardy folk; it beseems me to be a land ill chosen whereon to fall with a foreign host. Thus did it happen to us when Hakon defended the land; many men were slain to us but no victory did we achieve. Moreover Harald Eirikson is my foster-son and hath sat on my knee.’ Then saith the Earl: ‘Long have I known that thou hast given help to the sons of Gunnhild; yet with naught but ill have they requited thee. We will take Norway more easily than by fighting for her with all the hosts of Denmark. Send thou to thy foster-son Harald, and bid him receive from thee the lands and fiefs which they had aforetime here in Denmark. ¤ Appoint a tryst with him; then can Gold Harald in a short while win himself a kingdom in Norway from King Harald Grey-cloak.’ Then answered the King that it would be called of foul intent to betray his foster-son. ‘The Danes, I trow, will account it a better deed to slay a Norwegian viking than one who is a brother’s son and a Dane,’ answereth the Earl; & thereafter talked they on this matter until they were in full accord.
¶ Yet again came Gold Harald to speak with Hakon, and the Earl made known to him that he had so championed his cause and to such good purpose that there was hope that a kingdom might now be making ready for him in Norway. ‘Let us,’ said he, ‘hold fast by our compact. I shall be able to afford thee great support in Norway. Get thou first that kingdom. King Harald is now very old & hath but one son, a bastard, whom he loveth but little.’ To such measure did the Earl open up the matter to Gold Harald that the younger man was in full accord with him thereon; and thereafter did they all three take lengthy counsel, to wit, the King, the Earl, and Gold Harald full oft. Then sent the Danish King his men north into Norway even to Harald Grey-cloak, and they were right well furnished for their journey, and were made welcome with much cheer and in all courtesy were received by King Harald. They related 19 the tidings that Earl Hakon was in Denmark, and was lying sick unto death and well-nigh witless; and the further tidings that Harald the Danish King bade Harald Grey-cloak to him to take such fiefs as he and his brothers had held aforetime in Denmark, and to that purpose bade he Harald come to him in Jutland. Harald Grey-cloak laid the matter before Gunnhild and other counsellors and their views were not all of one accord, some fearing that this journey was not without peril by reason of the men that were set over against them to be dealt with; but the greater number were desirous that he should go by reason of the great famine that was at this time in Norway whereby the kings could scarce feed their men. And it was at this season that the fjord near-by which the kings most oft abode gat its name of Harding. ¤ In Denmark, as men had marked, the harvest had been at least of goodly measure, so that men thought to get thence what they required should King Harald have fief & dominion there. It was agreed therefore ere the emissaries departed whence they had come, that when summer was at hand Harald should hie to the Danish King, and pronounce his adhesion to the conditions King Harald proffered.
¶ So in due course when the summer sun shone in the long hours of night fared forth Harald Grey-cloak towards Denmark in three longships, & one of these was steered by Arinbiorn, the ‘hersir’§ of the Fjords.§ King Harald sailed from Vik over to Limfjord and took port at Hals, where it was told him that the Danish King was expected in a brief space. Now when King Harald heard of this, hastened he to make sail thither with nine ships, the which had been whiles mustered and set in readiness to take the sea. Earl Hakon had likewise armed his men & he also was about to set forth after the manner of a viking; at his word twelve ships, and they large ones, set their sails. When Gold Harald had fared forth, Earl Hakon spake to the King, saying, ‘Methinks we are like to row to war 20 and yet pay the war-fine[§] to boot. Gold Harald will now slay Harald Grey-cloak and thereafter take himself a kingdom in Norway. ¤ Thinkest thou that he will be loyal to thee when thou givest him so much power? Thus said he in my presence last winter that he would slay thee could he but find occasion to do so. Now will I bring Norway under thy sway and slay Gold Harald, if thou wilt promise easy absolution at thy hands for the deed. ¤ Then will I be thine earl, and bind myself by oath that with thy might to be my aid I will bring Norway under subjection under thee, and thereafter hold lands under thy dominion & pay thee tribute. Then wilt thou be a greater king than thy father was, inasmuch as thou shalt hold sway over two great peoples.’ ¤ Thus was this covenanted betwixt the King and the Earl; and Hakon set out with his men to seek Gold Harald.
¶ Gold Harald came to Hals in Limfjord, and forthwith offered battle to Harald Grey-cloak; and Harald, albeit to him were fewer men, went ashore, made him ready for battle & set his host in array. But or ever the onset took place Harald Grey-cloak spoke cheering words to his men, bade them draw their swords, and rushing first into the fray smote on either side. Thus saith Glum Geirason in Grey-cloak’s lay:
‘Brave words spake the swordsman,
He that dared to dye the grass sward of battle
With the blood of the foe;
And when Harald bade his men ply the swords in the strife,
His manly words did them mightily encourage.’
¶ There fell Harald Grey-cloak. Thus saith Glum Geirason:
‘The bearer of the shield,
He that clave longest to the ship,
In death lay stretched
On the broad marge of Limfjord;
On the sands at Hals
Fell the bounteous chieftain;21
It was his glib-tongued kinsman
That wrought the deed.’
¶ There fell with King Harald the greater number of his men; there, likewise, fell Arinbiorn the ‘hersir.’ Fifteen winters had passed since the fall of Hakon, he that was foster-son to Adalstein, and thirteen since the fall of Sigurd the Earl of Ladir. The priest Ari Thorgilson saith that Earl Hakon was for thirteen winters ruler of his heritage in Throndhjem before the death of Harald Grey-cloak; & that during the last six winters of Harald Grey-cloak’s life, saith Ari, the sons of Gunnhild and Hakon fought against one another, & in turn fled the country.
¶ Earl Hakon and Gold Harald met not long after the fall of Harald Grey-cloak, & straightway Earl Hakon joined battle with Gold Harald. Therein Hakon gained the victory; moreover Harald was taken prisoner, and Hakon had him hanged upon the gallows. Thereafter fared Hakon to the Danish King, and easily made his peace with him for the slaying of his kinsman Gold Harald. King Harald then called out a host from the whole of his kingdom and sailed with six hundred ships, and there went with him Earl Hakon and Harald the Grenlander, who was a son of King Gudrod, and many other great men who had fled from their free lands in Norway before the sons of Gunnhild. ¤ The Danish King set his fleet in sail up from the south to Vik, and when he was come to Tunsberg great numbers flocked to him. ¤ And King Harald gave the whole of the host which had come to him in Norway into the hands of Earl Hakon, making him ruler over Rogoland and Hordaland, Sogn, the Fjords, South More, Raumsdal, and North More. These seven counties gave he to Earl Hakon to rule over, with the same rights as Harald Fair-hair had given to his sons; only with this difference, that not only was Hakon there as well as in Throndhjem to have all the King’s manors and land-dues, but he was moreover to use the King’s money 22 and estates according to his needs should there be war in the land. To Harald the Grenlander gave King Harald Vingulmark, Vestfold, and Agdir as far as Lidandisness (the Naze) with the title of King, and gave him dominion thereof with all such rights as his kin had had aforetime, & as Harald Fair-hair had given to his sons. Harald the Grenlander was in these days eighteen winters old, & became thereafter a famous man. Then did Harald the Danish King hie him home with all the might of his Danish host.
¶ Earl Hakon fared with his men northward along the coast, and when Gunnhild and her sons heard these tidings gathered they together an host, but found obstacles to enrolling men at arms. So they took the same resolution as before, to wit to sail westward across the main with such men as would go with them, and thus fared they to the Orkneys and tarried there a while. Thorfinn Skull-cleaver’s sons were now earls there—Hlodvir, Arnvid, Liot, and Skuli. Forthwith did Earl Hakon subdue all the land and that winter abode he in Throndhjem. Of this speaketh Einar Jingle-scale in the Vellekla:
‘The Earl that on his noble brow
A silken fillet binds
Counties seven hath he enthralled
With their chattels, lands, and hinds.’
Now when Earl Hakon in the summer-time fared northward along the coast, & the people there made their submission to him, issued he proclamation that all temples and blood-offerings should be maintained throughout his dominions; and it was done accordingly. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
‘Seeing that he was wise
The folk-leader commanded that be sacred kept
The temple-lands of Thor and other Gods.
Home to glory across the billows
Did the shield-bearer steer the ship,
It was the Gods that led him.
23 ‘And the men-loving Æsirs gloat on the offerings
Whereby the shield-bearer is made of more account.
Bountifully doth the earth give forth her sustenance
When its lord builds temples for the Gods.’
All that is northward to Vik lies under the heel of the Earl;
Wide is the sway that he holds, mightily waxed by victories.’
¶ That self-same first winter wherein King Hakon ruled over Norway came the herring up along the coast, and before that in the autumn had the corn grown wheresoever it had been sown; in the spring men gat themselves seed-corn and the greater number of the peasants sowed their fields, and soon there was promise of a good harvest.
¶ King Ragnfrod, son unto Gunnhild, and Gudrod, he that was another son to her, these two were now the only sons of Eirik and Gunnhild who were still alive. ¤ Thus saith Glum Geirason in Grey-cloak’s lay:
‘Half is my hope of wealth downfallen since the strife,
The strife in which the life of the chief was lost,
The death of Harald weigheth me down,
Albeit his brethren twain have good things promised me,
And to them all men look for their welfare.’
¶ Now when Ragnfrod had abode one winter in the Orkneys made he him ready in the spring and thence shaped a course eastward to Norway, & with him were a chosen company in large ships. ¤ And when he was come to Norway learned he tidings how Earl Hakon was in Throndhjem, forthwith did he steer northward round Stad & laid waste South More; and some folks submitted to him as oft befalleth when warrior bands go through a country—those that they meet with seek help, each one wheresoever it seemeth likeliest to be gotten. When it was told to Earl Hakon that there was war in the south within More, caused he war-arrows to be sharpened and he equipped himself in haste & set sail down the fjord. Moreover an easy matter was it for him to bring folk around his standard. Earl Hakon and Ragnfrod sighted one another off the northernmost part of South More, & straightway Hakon gave battle, he that had most men but withal smaller ships. Hard was the struggle & therein waxed Hakon luckless; men fought from the prows and sterns, as the custom was in those times. Now there was a current in the sound, and all the ships 25 were driven into shore, so the Earl bade his folk rest on their oars, and drift to land at such place where he should deem it best to land; and when the ships grounded, the Earl and all his host sallied forth and haled them up on the beach, so that their foemen might not drag them forth again. Then did the Earl array his men on the banks, and shouted defiance to Ragnfrod to land, but they that were with Ragnfrod lay-to farther out, and though for a while they shot at one another, would Ragnfrod in no wise come ashore, and thereafter they parted. Ragnfrod sailed with his fleet southward to Stad, for he feared him that the land hosts might assemble and flock to Earl Hakon. But that earl waged war no more for unto his mind the difference betwixt the ships was over-great. In the autumn fared he north to Throndhjem, & there abode during the winter. King Ragnfrod therefore held all the land south of Stad: the Fjords, Sogn, Hordaland, and Rogaland. Many men were at his beck throughout that winter, and when the spring-tide came called he a muster and gat him many more. Moreover sent he far & wide over all these counties to gather together men and ships and what other stores whereof he had need.
¶ When spring was come Earl Hakon summoned men from out the very north of the country; many gat he from Halogaland, & Naumdal, so that right from Byrda to Stad came men to him from all the sea-boards. He reared a host from all the districts of Throndhjem, and likewise from Raumsdal. It was said that he had men from four counties; with him fared seven earls, and in their train were an exceeding large company. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
‘Thereafter, full of lust for slaughter,
Did the defender of the folk of More
Bring from the north a tale of men to Sogn.
From counties four called forth that warrior hosts,
Seeing in them sure help for all his folk.
26 To the war-gathering on the
Swiftly, to meet their warrior chieftain,
Hie lords of the land in number seven.
All Norway trembled at the warrior host;
Beyond the capes were borne unnumbered fallen.’
¶ Then Earl Hakon set sail with the whole of this host southward past Stad; and when it came to his ears that King Ragnfrod with his host had entered into the Sognfjord thither led he his men and there encountered him. ¤ Thereafter having brought his ships to land chose he out a battle-field whereon to fight King Ragnfrod. Thus saith the Vellekla:
‘Now did the chieftain meet in second battle
The slayer of the Vandals, and fell slaughter followed.
The prows were set to land,
And the ships steered even to the marches of the shires
At the bidding of the warrior.’
¶ And it came to pass that both sides did dress their battle and fought amazing fierce, but in men had Earl Hakon the super-abundance and the issue was to him. This was at Thinganes, where Sogn and Hordaland meet. King Ragnfrod fled from his ships, and of his folk there fell three hundred men. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
‘Fierce was the strife before three hundred were pressed
Beneath the claws of the carrion bird
By the host of the warrior chief:
O’er the heads of the sea-dwellers,
Thence could the conquering chief stride—
Aye, and the deed was glorious.’
¶ After this battle did King Ragnfrod hie him away from Norway and Earl Hakon brought peace to the land; he gave licence that the great host which had been with him in the summer should fare back northward, but he himself abode hard by there where he gained the victory, not whiles only that autumn but also throughout the winter that came after.27
¶ Earl Hakon took to wife a woman named Thora, who was exceeding fair. The daughter was she of Skagi Skoptison, a man possessed of much wealth. ¤ Their sons were Svein and Heming, & their daughter was Bergliot, who thereafter was wedded to Einar Tamberskelfir. Earl Hakon was over much given to women, and by them had many children. One of his daughters was called Ragnhild, and he gave her in marriage to Skopti Skagason, the brother of Thora. The Earl so loved Thora that her kinsmen became dearer to him than all other men, and Skopti his son-in-law had more influence with him than any other of his kindred. To him gave the Earl large fiefs in More; & it was covenanted betwixt them that whensoever the fleet of the Earl was at sea Skopti was to bring his ship alongside the Earl’s, and for none other was it to be lawful to lay his ship between their ships.
¶ Now it happened one summer when Earl Hakon was with his ships on the main that Thorleif the Meek was master of one of them, & Eirik, the son of the Earl, he being then some ten or eleven winters old, was aboard. Of an evening when they were come into haven, Eirik would not have it otherwise save that the ship whereon he was must be closest to the ship pertaining to the person of the Earl. ¤ Now when they made sail south to More there came likewise Skopti, he that was son-in-law to the Earl, with his long-ship well manned. Skopti, as his men were rowing towards the fleet, called out to Thorleif to leave the haven and let him lie-to there, but Eirik sprang up & answered back bidding Skopti hie him to another berth. Now Earl Hakon hearing that his son deemed himself too mighty to make way for Skopti, straightway called out to Thorleif bidding him leave the berth, or he would make it the worse for them, to wit, that he would have them beaten. So Thorleif when he heard this shouted to his men to slip their cables, and this they did according to his word; then did Skopti lie-to in the berth he was wont to have, nearest the Earl’s ship. 28 Now Skopti was called Tidings Skopti, & this had come about seeing that it had been agreed that when they were together he was to make known to the Earl all the tidings, or if it so happened that the Earl had heard them first then it was he that would tell the tidings to Skopti. Now in the winter that was after all that hath been before but now related, was Eirik with his foster-father Thorleif, but even so soon as the earlier spring-tide was he given a company of men. ¤ Thorleif moreover gave him a fifteen-benched ship with all the gear, tilts, and victuals that were needful. Eirik thence sailed from the fjord, and so south to More. Now it befell that Tidings Skopti was also at sea between his homesteads, & he too in a fifteen-benched craft; Eirik forthwith bore straight down on him and offered battle, and in the issue thereof fell Skopti, but Eirik gave quarter to such of his men who were not slain. Thus saith Eyolf Dadaskald, in the Banda lay:
‘Late in the day,
On the ski of the sea-king,
With combatants equal,
Fared the youth ’gainst the “hersir,”
Him the stout-hearted.
There ’neath the hand
That a bloody blade wielded
Fell Tidings Skopti.
(The feeder of wolves
Was food for the ravens.)’
¶ With that sailed Eirik south along the coast to Denmark, and adventured to King Harald Gormson, abiding with him the winter; but the spring thereafter the Danish King sent Eirik north, & bestowed on him the title Earl & therewith Vingulmark§ and Raumariki, to be beneath his sway even under the self-same tenure as had tribute-paying kings aforetime been in fief and tribute.
¶ In the days that were to come after waxed Earl Eirik, and men knew him as a mighty chieftain. 29 All this while abode Olaf Tryggvason in Garda, at the court of King Valdamar, where he had much honour & enjoyed the faithful love of the Queen. ¤ King Valdamar made him lord of the host which he sent out for the defence of his country, and for him fought Olaf divers battles and proved himself to be an able captain, and himself maintained a large host of warriors on the fiefs allotted to him by the King. Of no niggardly disposition, Olaf was ever openhanded to the men that were with him and who for this self-same reason held him in affection; but as oft times happens when men who are not of the country are exalted to power, or are so greatly honoured that they take the lead of the men of the land, many there were who envied him the love he had of the King, & even so much the more that of the Queen. ¤ Spake many men of that matter to the King, charging him to beware lest he should make Olaf over great: ‘For a man of the kind might be harmful to thee, would he lend himself to such a deed as to make thee and thy realms suffer, so crafty & beloved of men is he; nor wot we what he & the Queen have thus oft whereon to commune one with the other.’
¶ Now it was in those days generally the custom among great kings for the queen to possess half the court and to maintain it at her own charge, and for this purpose levied she her taxes and dues, in amount as much as she stood in need therefor. In this wise was it also with King Valdamar. ¤ The Queen held no less splendid a court than pertained to the King, and vied they one with the other as to which might procure men of prowess, each having it at heart to possess such men for themselves. Now it happened that the King gave heed unto words of this fashion, which men spake unto him, & he waxed silent and with countenance aloof from Olaf. And Olaf marking it well spake thereof to the Queen, and opened to her likewise how that it was the desire of his heart to journey even unto the north. His kin, said he, had held dominion there in days of 30 yore, & therefore he thought it likeliest that he would there obtain the more advancement. ¤ So the Queen bade him farewell, saying that wheresoever he might chance to tarry there would all deem him a man of prowess. ¤ Olaf thereafter made him ready for his journey, went aboard his ship, and stood out into the Eystrasalt (the Baltic). Thence sailing west came he to Borgundarholm (Bornholm) and made thereon a landing and harried all in the isle. The men of the land came together and did battle with him, but Olaf gat the victory and much booty.
¶ Now while Olaf lay-to off Borgundarholm, there was rough weather with a gale raging at sea, that their ships began to drag their anchors, for which reason did they set sail south to the coast of Vindland (Wendland)on which shore were good havens, whereon ships might ride at peace. ¤ There did they tarry for long whiles. ¤ The King of Vindland was named Burizlaf,§ & the three daughters to him were Geira, Gunnhild, and Astrid. ¤ Now at the place where there came ashore Olaf and his men did Geira hold rule & dominion, and under her he that exercised most authority was one hight Dixin. When it became known that strange men had come to the country who behaved themselves in seemly fashion & abode there in peace, Dixin hied to them with a message from Queen Geira bidding them sojourn in her land during the winter, seeing the summer was near spent, the weather threatening ill, & the storms waxing great. And being come thither Dixin saw on the instant that the captain of these men was one notable both for descent and appearance. ¤ Therefore recounted he to them that the Queen invited them to her with messages of friendship, & Olaf nothing loath did her bidding and went to Queen Geira as her guest. It came to pass that they twain thought both so well one of another that Olaf made ado to woo Queen Geira, and so it befell that winter that Olaf took Geira to wife, & gat he the rule of the realm with her. Thereof 31 spake Halfrod the Troublous-skald in the lay he made about Olaf the King:
‘The chieftain at Holm let the sharp-edged swords be dyed blood-red
Eastward too in Garda, nor can this be in any manner concealed.’
¶ Now Hakon, he that ruled over Norway, paid no tribute, the reason whereof being that the King of Denmark had made assignment to him of all the taxes to which the King had a right in Norway, by reason of the trouble & costs the Earl was put to in defending the land against the sons of Gunnhild.
¶ Now it befell in those days that the Emperor Otta§ was in Saxland (North Germany), & word sent he to Harald, King of Denmark, that he and the people that were his must be baptized & accept the true Faith, or else, swore the Emperor that he would march upon him with an host. So the King of Denmark admonished those that defended the land that they should be ready at his call, Danavirkicaused he to be well maintained, and his war ships were manned; thereafter sent the King to Earl Hakon commanding him that he must come to him early in the spring-tide with even as many men as he might muster. So at the first song of the birds Earl Hakon levied an host from all parts of his dominions, and many men were enrolled to him; this host bade he take ship to Denmark and with them sailed he himself to meet the King of Denmark, and by him was received in right seemly fashion. With the King were there at that hour many another lord proffering help, so that all told gathered he together an host waxing exceeding large.
¶ Now, as hath already been set forth, Olaf sojourned that winter in Vindland, & in the months thereof went he to those districts thereof which had formerly obeyed the rule of Queen Geira, but had now ventured to throw off allegiance & the payment of taxes. These did Olaf harry, slaying many men, 32 burning the homes of some, and taking much booty; then having rendered these realms subject unto himself turned he him back again to his stronghold. So soon as the spring-tide was come, did Olaf make ready his ships and put out to sea, sailing across to Skani (Scania) where he went ashore. ¤ The people of those parts assembled and fought against him; but Olaf was victorious and gat much plunder. Thence sailed he eastward to the island of Gotland, and took a merchant craft owned by men from Jamtaland who rendered a stout defence, but in such wise did the struggle end that Olaf cleared the ship, slew many men, & took possession of all the goods that were on board. ¤ A third battle fought he in Gotland; there likewise the day was to his strength and much spoil was to his hand. Thus saith Halfrod the Troublous-skald:
‘The foeman of the shrines slew merchants of Jamtaland
And men of Vindland in battle
As in days of youth had been his wont.
To those that lived in Scotland
Was the lord of “hersirs” the bane.
Is it not told that the giver of gold
Loved to fight in Skani?’
¶ Therefore gathered the Emperor Otta a mighty host; men he had from Saxland (north Germany), Frankland (France), and Frisland, whiles out of Vindland, likewise King Burizlaf§ contributed a large host. With the array went the King himself and his son-in-law Olaf Tryggvason. ¤ To the Emperor was a great body of horsemen, and so much the more a greater body of foot-folk. ¤ From Holtsetaland (Holstein) likewise came to him a large host. As it is said in the Vellekla:
‘So it befell likewise that the steeds of the sea
Southward ran ’neath the deft riders to Denmark,
And the Lord of the Hordmen, becoifed with the helmet,
Chief of the Dofrar folk, sought the lords of the Dane-realm.
And the bountiful King of the dark forest lands
33 Would in winter-tide test the warrior come from the north,
What time that doughty fighter gat from his chief a message
Bidding him defend the wall against the foes of Denmark.
Little gladsome was it to go against their hosts;
Albeit the shield-bearer did cause great destruction,
And the sea-hero incited to battle
When the warriors came from Frisland with Franks and Vandals.’
¶ Now Earl Hakon set companies above all the gates of the fortification, but the greater part of his host sent he along the walls to defend the places where the onslaught was hottest, and many fell of the Emperor’s host, but nothing did they win of the wall. ¤ So then the Emperor turned him away, and no longer made trial there. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
‘Spear-points were broken when in that war game
Shield clashed against shield and the foe gave not way;
The steerer of the sea-steeds turned Saxons fleeing thence,
And the chief ’fended the rampart ’gainst the foe.’
¶ After this battle went back Earl Hakon even unto his ships and would have homeward sailed unto Norway, but that he could get no wind, so accordingly he lay out in Limfjord.
¶ Now turned the Emperor Otta his host so that they faced around & hied them to the gulf of Sle (Sleswick), whereat gathered he together a large host and took his men across to Jutland. ¤ When the intelligence thereof came to the ears of the King of Denmark fared he forth against the Emperor with his host, and a great battle was fought betwixt them. ¤ The issue was to the Emperor, and thereon the King of Denmark fled away to Limfjord & took ship out to Marsey. ¤ Then did emissaries journey betwixt him and the Emperor, and a truce was covenanted, also that they twain should commune face to face. In Marsey, then, did the Emperor Otta and the Danish King confront one the other, & there a saintly bishop,§ Poppo by name, preached the faith before Harald, and to show the 34 truth thereof bare he glowing iron in his hand, and Harald testified that the hand of the holy man was unscarred by the heated iron. Thereafter was Harald himself baptized with the whole of the Danish host that were with him. ¤ Ere this had Harald the King, albeit that he abode the nonce in Marsey, summoned Earl Hakon to his aid, and the Earl had just come to the island when the King let himself be christened. So the King sent a message to the Earl to come to him, and when the Earl was come thither compelled him also that he should be baptized. After this manner was the Earl made a Christian, and all his men with him. ¤ Thereafter did the King appoint him priests and other learned men,§ and commanded him to cause all the people of Norway to be baptized into the faith and with this they parted. Thereafter Earl Hakon put out to sea to await a favourable wind, and when a breeze sprang up, lo! without more ado set he all the learned men to wade even unto the shore and upon that wind himself stood out to sea. The wind was from the west, and the Earl sailed eastward through Eyrasund (Öresund) pillaging whatsoever lands he sighted, & thereafter came east unto the Skani side, plundering and harrying wherever he put ashore. Now as he was sailing his course off the skerries of east Gautland put he ashore and offered up a great sacrifice, and whiles this was solemnized came two ravens flying up, loudly croaking, & for this reason deemed the Earl that Odin had accepted his sacrifice, and that good fortune would favour him in his battles. Even so burned he all his ships and came ashore with every man of all his host, and carried war throughout the land. Against him was arrayed Earl Ottar, he that held rule over Gautland, and they fought a great battle wherein was Earl Hakon victorious, & he slew Earl Ottar together with a great number of his host. ¤ Earl Hakon then marched hither & thither carrying war through both the Gautlands, until he was come unto Norway, & then took he the road right to the north, to Throndhjem. It is of this that the Vellekla speaketh:35
‘The foeman of those who fled consulted the gods on the plain, and
Gat answer Fret[§] from that the day was propitious to battle;
There the war-leader saw how mighty were the corse-ribs;
The gods of the temple would thin lives in Gautland.
A Sword-Thing held the Earl there where no man afore him
With shield on arm had durst to harry;
No one ere this so far inland had borne
That shield of gold; all Gautland had he o’errun.
With heaps of the fallen the warriors piled the plain
The kith of the Æsirs conquered, Odin took the slain;
Can there be doubt that the gods govern the fall of kings?
Ye strong powers, I pray, make great the sway of Hakon.’
¶ After that he had parted in all goodly friendship from the Danish King, fared Emperor Otta back to his realm of Saxland; 36 men say that he held Svein the son of Harald at the font, & that the child bore the name of Otta Svein. Harald, the Danish King, held by the Christian faith even to the day of his death. King Burizlaf, after these things, betook himself back to Wendland, & together with him in his company went his son-in-law King Olaf Tryggvason. Of the battle aforesaid telleth Hallfrod the Troublous-skald in Olaf’s lay:
‘The ruler of war ships hewed and smote asunder warriors
Even in Denmark to the south of Hedeby.’
¶ It was the space of three winters that Olaf Tryggvason abode in Wendland, even until Geira his wife fell ill of a sickness, whereof she died, and so great a sorrow was this to Olaf that he no longer had pleasure in living in Wendland. ¤ Therefore getting him ships of war once more went he forth plundering and harrying, first in Saxland, then in Frisland, and he even fared as far as Flanders. Thus saith Hallfrod the Troublous-skald:
‘Oft did the son of Tryggvi smite to the death the Saxon
And left maimed corses food for the wolves,
And for their drink did that lord, beloved of his host,
Give the brown blood of many a Frisian.
Mighty sea-kings hewed
In Flanders corses asunder,
The prince to the ravens gave
The flesh of Walloons as supper.’
¶ Thereafter did Olaf Tryggvason sail for England, and ravaged apace & afar in that country; right north did he sail to Nordimbraland (Northumberland) and there harried; thence fared he farther to the northward even to Scotland where he plundered and pillaged far and wide. ¤ From thence sailed he again to the Hebrides, the where he fought more than once, and afterwards sailed a course south to Man & fought there. Far and wide did he plunder in Ireland and then sailed he to Bretland (Wales) and pillaged there, & in Kumraland (Cumberland) 37 did he likewise. Then he sailed to Frankland (France) where he harried the people, & from thence came back again, being minded to return to England, but came to those Islands which are called Scilly in the western part of the English main. Thus saith Hallfrod the Troublous-skald:
‘The unsparing young King plundered the Englishmen,
The feeder of spear-showers made murder in Northumbria,
The war-loving feeder of wolves laid waste to Scotia,
The giver of gold fared with up-lifted sword in Man.
The bearer of the elm-bow brought death to the hosts
Of the Isle of Erin, for fame yearned the lord;
Four winters did the King smite the dwellers in Wales,
And Northumbrians hewed he ere the greed of the chough was appeased.’
¶ Four winters did Olaf Tryggvason fare on viking cruises from the time of his leaving Wendland even until his coming to the Isles of Scilly.
¶ Now when Olaf Tryggvason was lying off the Isles of Scilly he heard tell that there was a soothsayer thereon, and that he foretold the future and spake of things not yet come to pass, and many folk believed that things ofttimes happened according as this man had spoken. Now Olaf being minded to make assay of his cunning sent to him the finest and fairest of his men, in apparel as brave as might be, bidding him say that he was the King, for Olaf had become famous in all lands in that he was comelier and bolder and stronger than all other men. Since he had left Garda, howsoever, he had used no more of his name than to call himself Oli, and had told people that he was of the realm of Garda. Now when the messenger came to the soothsayer and said he was the King, gat he for answer: ‘King art thou not, but my counsel to thee is that thou be loyal to thy King,’ & never a word more deigned the seer to utter. Then went the messenger back and told Olaf this thing, and the King had no longer any doubt that this man was verily a 38 soothsayer, and his wish to meet with him, now that he had heard such an answer, waxed greater than heretofore. So Olaf went to him & communed with him, & asked him to prophesy about his future, whether or not he would win himself a kingdom or other good fortune. Then answered the prophet with saintly prophecy: ‘Thou wilt be a glorious King, & do glorious deeds, to faith & christening wilt thou bring many men, and thou wilt help thereby both thyself & many others. But to the end that thou shalt not doubt about this mine answer take this for a token: Hard by thy ships shalt thou meet with guile & with foemen, & thou shalt do battle; and of thy men some shall fall and thou thyself shalt be wounded. From that wound wilt thou be nigh unto death and be borne on a shield to thy ship; yet of thy hurt shalt thou be whole within a sennight and shall shortly thereafter accept Christianity.’ Then Olaf went down to the ships, & verily did meet with the warlike men who would slay him & his followers, & their combat ended even as the hermit had foretold, to wit, in such manner that Olaf was indeed borne out to his ship on a shield & likewise was whole again after a sennight. Then Olaf felt assured in his mind that it was the truth that this seer had told him, and that of a truth was he a wise soothsayer, whencesoever might he have his gift of prophecy. So Olaf a second time went unto him and held much talk with him, and questioned him closely as to whence he gat the wisdom to foretell what was to come. And the hermit saith that the God of the men that were baptized Himself causeth him to know all that He wisheth. Then recounted he to Olaf the mighty works of God, & after these persuasions Olaf assented unto Christianity, & it befell that he was there baptized, & all the men that were with him. In that place abode he a long time and learned the true Faith, and in his train bore away with him priests & other learned men.
¶ From the Isles of Scilly Olaf hied in the autumn to England, 39 and there lay he in a certain haven & lived in peace, for England was a Christian land & now was he likewise a Christian man.
¶ Now there went throughout the land a summons to a certain Thing, that all men should come to the Thing, & when there was assemblage thither came to it a queen whose name was Gyda.[§] ¤ She was the sister of Olav Kvaran who was King of 40 Dublin, which is in Ireland, and she had been married to a powerful earl in England who was now dead, but after him she yet ruled his dominion. ¤ Now there was a man in her dominions whose name was Alwin, a mighty champion & ‘holmgangsman.’§ ¤ Alwin had wooed Gyda, but she had made answer that she herself would make choice whom she would have among the men of her dominion, and forasmuch as she would choose herself a husband was this Thing convened. Thereto likewise came Alwin decked out in his best raiment, and many others were there apparelled also in their best. Now Olaf too was come thither, & he was clad in his bad-weather raiment, wearing a cloak exceeding rough; and he stood with his followers somewhat aloof from the others. Gyda walked hither & thither among the men, gazing at each one favoured in her eyes; but when she was come to where Olaf held his ground looked she searchingly up into his face and asked of what manner of man was he. Then did he make answer that he was Oli, and said: ‘I am not of the country born nor bred.’ Saith Gyda: ‘Wilt thou have me? Even upon that then will I choose thee.’ ‘I will not say nay to it,’ quoth he, and asked her name and lineage. ‘I am,’ said she, ‘a King’s daughter of Ireland, but I was wedded into this country, to an earl who held dominion here. Since the time that he died have I ruled the land; divers men have wooed me, but none that I would wed, & my name is Gyda.’ ¤ Youthful was she and fair, and Olaf and she communed over this matter even until they became of one accord, and thereafter was Olaf betrothed to Gyda. This was but sour in the mouth of Alwin, but there was a custom in England that when two contended about a matter they should meet in single combat, and Alwin therefore bade Olaf Tryggvason fight with him on this matter. ¤ The time and place were appointed, & on either side were there chosen twelve men. Then when they were met said Olaf unto his men that they were to do even as he did, and a great axe had he in his hand. Now as 41 Alwin was minded to drive his sword into him Olaf struck it out of his hand, & at the second stroke Alwin himself so that he fell to the ground. Then did Olaf bind him fast, & in this manner also was treatment meted out to the men that were with Alwin, to wit, to be beaten and bound, and thereafter were taken home to Olaf’s lodging. Then did he bid Alwin depart from out the land & nevermore therein set foot again, and thereafter Olaf took possession of all his lands.
¶ So it came to pass that Olaf wedded Gyda & abode for the most part in England, but sometimes in Ireland. Once when Olaf was out on a foray, it fell that it was needful that they should foray ashore for provisions, and accordingly went his men to land and drove down a number of cattle to the shore. 42 Then came a peasant after them & prayed Olaf give him back his cows, & Olaf bade him take his cows could he find them; ‘but let him not delay our journey.’ The peasant had with him a big cattle-dog. This dog sent he into the herd of neat whereof were being driven many hundreds, and the animal hither and thither ran among the drove, singling out as many cows as the peasant said he owned, and all of them were marked in the same manner. ¤ Now knowing that the dog had chosen rightly it seemed to them that this was passing clever, and so Olaf asked of the peasant whether he would give him the dog. ‘Willingly,’ answered he, and Olaf in exchange therefor gave him a gold ring, and the promise of his friendship. ¤ That dog was named Vigi, and it was the best of all dogs; Olaf had pleasure in him for a long time thereafter.
¶ Now it came to the ears of the King of Denmark, even to him hight Harald Gormson, that Earl Hakon had cast aside Christianity & had pillaged in the country pertaining to the King of Denmark who thereon gathered together an host, & thereafter fared to Norway. ¤ And when he was come to the realm over which Earl Hakon had rule harried he there, laying bare all the land. Then led he his host to the islets which are called Solunder. Five homesteads alone stood unburned in Lardal, in Sogn, and all the folk of the valley were fled to the mountains and forests, taking with them such of their chattels as they might carry. Thereafter the Danish King was minded to take his hosts to Iceland to avenge the mockery of the Icelanders, for it happened that they had made malicious verses about him. ¤ Now a law had been made in Iceland to the end that for every soul in the country one lampoon should be made on the Danish King, and the reason therefor was to this wise, to wit, that a ship pertaining to men of Iceland had stranded on the coast of Denmark & the Danes had taken all the cargo thereon, calling it flotsam. ¤ The man who had had the chief concern in this matter was one Birger, the King’s steward. 43 Jests were made both on him and on the King, and this is one of them:
‘When the fight-wonted Harald rode the sea-steed from the south
In the shape of Faxe,
The slayer of Vandals as wax became altogether as impotent.
Birger by guardian sprites outcast in mare’s shape met him
As all men did behold.’
¶ Now King Harald bade a warlock betake him to Iceland in one or other guise, that he might bring him back tidings of the country. ¤ And the warlock set forth in the shape of a whale, and when he was come thither to Iceland he went along the north side of the coast, and he saw that all the mountains and hills were full of guardian spirits, some large & others small. When he was arrived at Vapnafjord there went he up and was like to have gone ashore when, lo! a great dragon came down from the valley, & in its company many serpents, toads, and vipers, and these beasts belched venom at him. So swam he away westward all alongside the land even the whole way until he was come to the mouth of the Eyjafjord, & after he had turned up this fjord towards him there came a bird so large that its wings reached the hills on either side, and with it were a number of other birds, both large and tiny. ¤ So away fared he thence, & westward along by the land to Breidafjord, and there went he up the fjord, but a great bull came towards him bellowing after a fashion that was most horrible, & in its company were a swarm of kindred spirits. ¤ Then went he away from there and swam past Reykjanes and was about to go up on Vikarseid, but a hill giant came towards him with a staff in his hand, and this giant carried his head higher than the hills, and with him were many other giants. ¤ Then swam he eastward all the way along the coast: ‘There is nothing,’ quoth he, ‘save sand and wilderness and great breakers outside; and so broad is the sea betwixt the lands,’ said he, ‘that it is all unmeet for long-ships.’44
¶ Now in those days Brod-Helgi dwelt in Vapnafjord, Eyolf Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Gelli in Breidafjord and Thorod the Priest in Olfus.
¶ Then put the King of Denmark his fleet about, standing south along the coast, and thereafter sailed back to Denmark. Hakon the Earl caused all the habitations that had been devastated to be builded up again, & nevermore thereafter paid he any tribute to the King of Denmark.
¶ Now it came to pass that Svein—he who was afterwards called Two-beard—demanded a kingdom of his father King Harald, & as before so again it befell that King Harald would not part Denmark in twain, nor let any other man, no matter of what blood he was, have dominion therein. ¤ So Svein assembled a fleet of war & gave out that he was about to go on a viking cruise, and when the whole of his fleet was come together, & Palnatoki of the Jomsborg vikings was also come to his aid, Svein made for Zealand, and went into Isafjord. There King Harald his father was lying, likewise, with his ships, for he was preparing to sail to war, & Svein fell upon him, & a great battle ensued; but many men flocked to King Harald and Svein had to give way before great odds and flee. There nevertheless did Harald receive such hurt that he died, and thereafter Svein was hailed as King of Denmark. In those days Jomsborg in Wendland was ruled by Earl Sigvaldi; he was the son of Strut-Harald who had ruled Skani, and Sigvaldi’s brothers were Heming and Thorkel the Tall. At that time Bui the Burly of Borgundarholm & his brother Sigurd were likewise chiefs among the Jomsborg vikings, and with them, too, was Vagn, who was the son of Aki and Thorgunna and the sister’s son of Bui and Sigurd. ¤ Now Sigvaldi the Earl had made King Svein prisoner and had taken him to Jomsborg in Wendland, and had constrained him to make peace with the Wendish King Burizlaf. ¤ It was to Earl Sigvaldi to settle the conditions of agreement between them— 45 Sigvaldi had then to wife Astrid the daughter of King Burizlaf—and if peace were not made, said the Earl, he would deliver King Svein into the hands of the Wends. ¤ Then the King knowing full well that they would torture him even to the death was content that the Earl should be peacemaker, & the Earl adjudged matters in such fashion that King Svein was to have the daughter of King Burizlaf to wife, and King Burizlaf the sister of King Svein, Tyra, that was daughter to Harald. ¤ Moreover it was covenanted that the two Kings were to have each his own dominion, and there was to be lasting peace between the countries. ¤ Then did King Svein journey home to Denmark with his wife Gunnhild; their sons were Harald and Knut the Great (Canute). ¤ And in those days made the Danes great boast that they would sail with a host to Norway even against Earl Hakon.
¶ Now because King Svein was going to take his succession after his father Harald, made he a great funeral feast, to which were bidden all the chiefs of his kingdom. ¤ Not long before this Strut-Harald of Skani had died, and also Veseti of Borgundarholm, who was the father of Bui & Sigurd. The King therefore sent word to the Jomsborg vikings bidding Earl Sigvaldi and Bui, and their brothers, to come thither and seal their inheritance by drinking grave-ale in memory of their fathers at the feast which the King himself was about to give. And to this feast accordingly went the Jomsborg vikings with all the stoutest of their folk; forty ships had they from Wendland & twenty from Skani, & a great number of people were assembled together. On the first day of the feast, before King Svein stepped into his father’s high seat, he drank the cup of memory to him, vowing therewith that before three months were over he would go to England with his hosts & slay King Ethelred, or drive him from the country. Now all those who were at the feast were obliged to drink that cup of memory, and for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings the largest horns 46 were filled, and withal with the strongest ale. When this cup of memory had been drunk to the dregs then were all men to drink to the memory of Christ; and ever to the Jomsborg vikings were brought the fullest horns & the strongest drink. The third cup was to St. Michael, and this was drunk by all; and thereafter Sigvaldi drank to his father’s memory, & made a vow that before three winters were passed he would go to Norway and slay Eirik, or drive him from the land. Then did his brother Thorkel the Tall swear that he would fare with Sigvaldi, and never shun battle as long as Sigvaldi was fighting there; and Bui the Burly said that he too would go with them to Norway, and not flee before Earl Hakon in battle. Then did Vagn Eirikson swear that he also would accompany him, & not return before he had slain Thorkel Leira and lain abed with his daughter Ingibiorg. ¤ Many other lords made vows anent sundry matters, & all men drank the heirship ale. When the morrow was come and the Jomsborg vikings had slept as long as they were minded, they deemed that they had spoken big words enough & met together to take counsel as to how and when they should proceed with their cruise, and then they covenanted to array their ships and men as speedily as might be. Now this matter was rumoured of far and wide in the lands.
¶ Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, was at that season in Raumariki, & hearing of these tidings straightway mustered the folk and set forth to the Uplands, and then made his way northwards across the mountains to Throndhjem, to his father Earl Hakon. Of this speaketh Thord Kolbeinson in Eirik’s lay:
‘In good sooth from the south came fearsome tales of war,
Peasants even fear to fight;
And the captain of the ship learned that the long-ships of the Danes
Along their rollers were run out seawards.’
¶ Earl Hakon and Earl Eirik caused war-arrows to be sent throughout the whole of the district around Throndhjem, and sent messengers to South-More, North-More, and Raumsdal; likewise sent they northward to Naumdal and Halogaland, and when this was accomplished had they called out their full muster of men and ships. Thus saith Eirik’s lay:
‘Many a long-ship and bark and great keel
(How the skald’s praise grows apace)
The shield-bearer caused to be run into the sea
(Off-shore was the muster goodly)
So that the warrior could defend the lands of his fathers.’
¶ Earl Hakon went forthwith south to More, to reconnoitre and collect men, while Earl Eirik assembled his host & took it southwards.
¶ The Jomsborg vikings brought their hosts to Limfjord and thence sailed out to sea; sixty ships had they, and they took them across to Agdir whence without tarrying shaped they a course northward to the dominion of Earl Hakon. They sailed off the coast, plundering & burning wheresoever they went. Now there was a certain man named Geirmund who was sailing in a light boat & had but few men with him, & he came to More where he found Earl Hakon, & going in before the Earl as he sate at meat told him that there was an host to the southward which was come from Denmark. The Earl asked if he knew this in good sooth, and Geirmund, holding up one of his arms from which the hand had been severed, said that that was the token that a host was in the land. ¤ Then did the Earl question him closely concerning this host, & Geirmund said that it was the Jomsborg vikings, & that they had slain many men and plundered far & wide: ‘Nevertheless they are travelling speedily and hard. ¤ Methinks it will not be long before they are here.’ ¤ So then the Earl rowed up all the fjords, inwards along one shore and outwards along the other faring night and day, and he sent scouts on to the upper way 48 across the isthmus,§ & south in the Fjords, & likewise north where Eirik was now with his host. ¤ It is of this that Eirik’s lay telleth:
‘War-wise was the Earl who had long-ships on the main
Heading with lofty prows against Sigvaldi,
Mayhap many an oar shook,
But the seamen who rent the sea with strong oar-blades
Feared not death.’
¶ Earl Hakon took his host southwards as speedily as ever he was able.
¶ Sailing northwards with his fleet Earl Sigvaldi rounded Stad, and first put in over against Hereya. Here, although the vikings fell in with the folk of the country, never could they get from them the truth as to the whereabouts of the Earl. Whithersoever they went the vikings pillaged, & in the island of Hod they ran up ashore & plundered the people, taking back with them to their ships both folk and cattle, though all men capable of bearing arms they slew. ¤ Now as they were going down again to their ships an old man approached them—for he was walking nigh to the men of Bui—and unto them said he, ‘Not as warriors go ye here, driving neat and calves down to the shore; better prey would it be for ye to take the bear since ye have come so nigh his lair.’ ¤ ‘What saith the carle?’ they cry, ‘Can ye tell us aught of Earl Hakon?’ The peasant made answer: ‘Yesterday he sailed to Hiorundarfjord having with him one or two ships, or three at most, & at that time he had not heard aught of ye.’ Forthwith ran Bui & his men to their ships, leaving all their booty behind, & Bui called out saying: ‘Let us make the most of having got this news, so that we may be the ones nighest to the victory.’ ¤ And when they had mounted up into their ships straightway rowed they out north of the isle of Hod, and then rounding that island into the fjord.
¶ Earl Hakon and his son Earl Eirik were lying in Hallsvik, 49 with their hosts and one hundred and fifty ships. ¤ Now they had heard by this time that the Jomsborg vikings were lying-to off Hod, and the Earls accordingly rowed northward to seek them, and when they were come to the place which is called Hiorungavag met they one with another. ¤ Both sides then set themselves in array for battle. In the midst of his host was the banner of Earl Sigvaldi and over against this Earl Hakon took up his position; Earl Sigvaldi had twenty ships, and Earl Hakon sixty. ¤ In Earl Hakon’s following were the chiefs Thorir Hart of Halogaland, and Styrkar of Gimsar. As for the battle array, one wing consisted of the twenty ships belonging to Bui the Burly and his brother Sigurd. Against these Earl Eirik Hakonson placed sixty ships, with him being the chiefs Gudbrand the White from the Uplands & Thorkel Leira from Vik. ¤ In the other wing of the array was Vagn Akason with twenty ships, and against him with sixty ships was Svein Hakonson with Skeggi of Uphaug in Yriar, and Rognvald from Ervik in Stad. In Eirik’s lay it is told of thus:
‘And the sea-ships to battle sped towards the Danish ships,
The sea-host sailed the coast along:
From before the vikings cleared the Earl away many at More
The ships drifted amid war-slain heaps.’
And thus saith Eyvind in the Halogaland tale:
‘Hardly was it a tryst of joy in that day’s dawning
For the foemen of Yngvi Frey,
When the land-rulers guided the long-ships across the waste,
And the sword-elf from the south-land
Thrust the sea-steeds against their hosts.’
¶ Then the fleets were brought together and there ensued the grimmest of battles, and many were slain on both sides, albeit the host of Hakon was it which fared the worst, for the Jomsborg vikings fought stoutly both with boldness & dexterity, shooting clean through the shields. So great in number were the missiles which struck Earl Hakon that his shirt of mail 50 became all rent and useless so that he threw it from him. ¤ Of this speaketh Tind Halkelson:
‘The kirtle which gold bedecked women wrought for the Earl
(The sparks from the sword wax brighter)
Could no longer be borne;
Then the mailed hero from off him cast the King’s shirt
(Ready were the steeds of the sea).
Asunder, on the sand, blown from the Earl by the wind
Was the ring-weaved shirt of Sorli
(Thereof bore he the marks).’
¶ Now the ships of the Jomsborg vikings were both larger, and higher in the gunwale, than were those of Earl Hakon, but nevertheless were they boldly beset from both sides. Vagn Akason pressed the ships of Svein Hakonson so hard that Svein let his men backwater & came nigh to fleeing, whereupon Earl Eirik came up into his place & thrust himself into the battle against Vagn, and Vagn backed his ship, and the craft lay again as they had lain at first. ¤ Then Eirik returned to his own battle, where his men were now going astern, and Bui having cut himself free from his lashings was about to follow the fugitives. ¤ Eirik then laid his ship alongside the ship of Bui, & a sharp hand to hand struggle took place, and two or three of the ships of Eirik set on the one ship whereon was Bui. ¤ Then a storm came on, and there fell hailstones so heavy that one stone alone weighed an ounce. Then did Sigvaldi cut his ship adrift & went about, with the intention of fleeing; Vagn Akason cried out to him bidding him stay, but never a moment would Sigvaldi heed give to what he said, so Vagn sent a javelin after him, and smote the man who held the tiller. Earl Sigvaldi rowed out of the battle with thirty-five ships and left twenty-five behind him. ¤ Then did Earl Hakon bring his ship round to the other side of that of Bui, and short respite then had the men of Bui between the blows. Now there was an anvil with a sharp end standing on the forecastle 51 of the ship that pertained to Bui, and the reason thereof was that some man had made use thereof when welding the hilt of his sword, and Vigfus the son of Vigaglums, who was a man of great strength, took up the anvil & throwing it with both hands, drave it into the head of Aslak Holmskalli, so that the snout thereof entered his brain. No weapon hitherto had scathed Aslak, though he had been laying about him on either side. ¤ He was the foster-son of Bui, and his forecastle man. Yet another of the men to Bui was Havard the Hewer; even stronger was he, and a man of great valour. During this struggle the men of Eirik went up aboard Bui’s ship, & made aft to the poop, towards Bui, and Thorstein Midlang struck him full across the nose, cleaving asunder the nose-piece of his helmet, and leaving a great wound. ¤ Bui then smote Thorstein in the side in such a manner that he cut the man right athwart his middle, and then seizing two chests of gold he shouted: ‘Overboard all the men of Bui,’ and plunged into the sea with the chests, and many of his men likewise sprang overboard, though others fell on the ship, for little avail was it to ask for quarter. The ship was now cleared from stem to stern, and the other craft were likewise cleared one after the other.
¶ After this Earl Eirik brought his ships alongside that of Vagn, and from the latter met with right stout resistance; in the end however the ship was cleared, and Vagn and thirty men taken prisoners. Bound were they & taken on land, and Thorkel Leira went up to them and spoke thus: ‘Vagn, thou didst vow to slay me, but me seemeth it is I who am more like to slay thee.’ ¤ Now it happened that Vagn and his men were all sitting on the felled trunks of a mighty tree, and Thorkel had a big axe, & with it he struck at the man who was sitting farthest off on the trunk. ¤ Vagn and his men were so bound that a rope was passed round their feet, but their hands were free. Then said one of them, ‘I have in my hand a cloak-clasp, 52 and into the earth will I thrust it if I wot anything after my head is off’—and his head was struck off, and down fell the clasp from his hand. ¤ Hard by sat a fair man with goodly hair and he swept his hair forward over his face, saying as he stretched forth his neck: ‘Make not my hair bloody.’ A certain man took the hair in his hand and held it fast, and Thorkel swang the axe so as to strike, but the viking drew back his head suddenly & he who was holding his hair moved forward with him, and lo, the axe came down on both his hands and took them off, thereafter cleaving the earth. Then Earl Eirik came up and asked: ‘Who is that fine man?’ ‘Sigurd the lads call me,’ said he, ‘and I am thought to be a son to Bui: not yet are all the vikings of Jomsborg dead.’ ‘Thou must of a surety be a true son to Bui; wilt thou have quarter?’ ‘That dependeth upon who is the bidder thereof,’ said Sigurd. ‘He offereth it who hath power to give it, to wit Earl Eirik.’ ‘Then will I take it,’ and loosed was he from the rope. Then said Thorkel Leira: ‘Though thou grantest quarter, Earl, to all these men, yet never shall Vagn Akason depart hence alive,’ & so saying he ran forward with uplifted axe. Just then the viking Skadi tripped in the rope, and dropped before Thorkel’s feet, and Thorkel fell flat over him, and Vagn seizing the axe dealt Thorkel his death-blow. Then said the Earl: ‘Wilt thou have quarter?’ ‘Yea will I,’ said he, ‘if we all are given quarter.’ ‘Loose them from the rope,’ said the Earl, and so it was done accordingly. ¤ Eighteen of these men were slain, but to twelve was quarter granted.
¶ Now Earl Hakon & many of his men with him were sitting on a log. ¤ Suddenly there twanged a bowstring from Bui’s ship, but the arrow struck Gizur of Valders, a feudatory who was sitting by the Earl & was clad in brave apparel, & forthwith went sundry of Hakon’s men out to the ship and found on it Havard the Hewer kneeling by the bulwarks, for his feet had been smitten off him. A bow had he in his hand and 53 when they were come out to the ship, as aforesaid, Havard asked: ‘Who fell off the tree-trunk?’ ‘One named Gizur,’ they say. ‘Then was my luck lesser than I wished.’ ‘Ill-luck enough,’ say they, ‘and more hurt shalt thou not do,’ & therewith they slew him. After these things the dead were searched, and the booty brought together for division; five and twenty ships belonging to the Jomsborg vikings were thus cleared of booty. Tind saith as follows:
‘He, feeder of ravens,
(Their swords did smite their thighs)
Against the friends of the Wends long did struggle,
Until he who shields destroyed had
Five and twenty ships laid waste.’
¶ Thereafter were the hosts dispersed. ¤ Earl Hakon betook him to Throndhjem, taking it full ill that Eirik had given Vagn Akason quarter. ¤ Men say that during this battle Earl Hakon made sacrifice of his son Erling in order to gain the victory, and afterwards the hailstorm came, and that then the slaughtering changed over out of the hands of the Jomsborgers. After the battle Earl Eirik went to the Uplands, and from there east to his dominions, and with him went Vagn Akason. Thereafter Eirik gave the daughter of Thorkel Leira—Ingibiorg was her name—in marriage to Vagn, & a goodly long-ship to boot, well furnished in all things appertaining thereto, & a crew did he get him for the ship, and they parted in all friendship. Vagn thence fared southward home to Denmark, and became thereafter a famous man. ¤ Many men of might are descended from him.
¶ Now it hath been heretofore related how Harald the Grenlander was King of Vestfold, and how Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand Kula had he taken to wife. One summer when he was out laying waste the countries to the eastward, came he to Sweden where Olaf the Swede was King in those days. Olaf was the son of Eirik the Victorious and of Sigrid the 54 daughter of Skogla-Tosti. ¤ Sigrid was now a widow and to her pertained many great manors in Sweden. When she heard that her foster-brother Harald the Grenlander had come ashore not far from where at that time she was abiding, sent she messengers to him, bidding him to a feast which she was making ready to give. Thereat was Harald glad, and fared to Astrid with a great following of men. And a goodly feast was it withal: the King and the Queen sat in the high-seat and in the evening drank both together, and among the men flowed the ale freely. ¤ At night when the King went to his rest his bed had on it a costly coverlet, and was hung with precious cloths; in that house there were but few men. And the King having unclad him, & gotten into bed, the Queen came hither to him and poured out a cup, and pressed him hard to drink; right kind was she to him withal. Now the King was exceeding drunken, and the Queen likewise. ¤ Then fell the King asleep, and Sigrid went away to her bed. Now the Queen was a very wise woman, and far seeing in many things. The next morning flowed the drink ever apace, but as ofttimes cometh to pass when men have drunk heavily, even so the more wary of drink are most of them on the morrow. Yet was the Queen merry, and she and Harald spake much together, and as their talk ran on, the Queen said that she deemed her lands & kingdom in Sweden to be of no less worth than his in Norway. Now at this manner of talking the King waxed moody, and found but little pleasure in anything thereafter, and heavy at heart he made him ready to go; yet was the Queen exceeding merry, gave him great gifts, & accompanied him on his way.
¶ So back to Norway fared he that autumn, & abode at home during that winter, but little enough pleasure gat he the while. The summer thereafter went he eastward with his host, and shaped his course for Sweden. Word sent he to Sigrid that he desired to meet her, & she rode down to him, & they talked together; then without more ado he asked her whether she 55 would have him for mate, to which Sigrid made answer that to do such a thing would indeed be foolish, seeing that he is well married already, and better for him might not be. Harald confessed Asta to be a good wife and brave, ‘but of such noble blood as mine is she not withal.’ Then answered Sigrid. ‘Maybe thou art of higher lineage than she, yet nevertheless it beseemeth to me that with her is the happiness of ye both.’ And after that few were the words spoken between them before the Queen rode away.
¶ Then was King Harald sick at heart, & he made him ready to ride inland to see Queen Sigrid yet once more. Many of his men counselled him therefrom, but none the less went he with a great following to the house of which Sigrid was lady. That same evening there came thither from the east, from Gardariki (western Russia), another king—Vissavald§ was his name, & he likewise came to woo Sigrid the Queen. The kings & all their retinue were given seats in a large & ancient chamber; & ancient also were the furnishings of this room, but drink more than enough went round that evening, so strong indeed that all became drunken, and both the head-guard, and the outer-guard fell asleep. Then, during the night—and all this was caused by Queen Sigrid—were they fallen upon with fire and sword; both the chamber & the men who were therein were burned, & of those who came out from it not one was allowed to go alive. ¤ Quoth Sigrid on this matter, that she would teach small kings from other lands to woo her; & thereafter she was called Sigrid the Scheming.
¶ It was the winter before these things befell that the battle with the Jomsborg vikings was fought in Hiorungavag. Now while Harald was gone inland, one Hrani was left in charge of the ships and men; but when the news came that Harald had been done to death, fared they thence forthwith, & going back to Norway recounted the tidings. ¤ And to Asta went Hrani & told her all things concerning their voyage, & likewise 56 the errand that had urged King Harald to Queen Sigrid. When she heard these tidings Asta went straightway to the Uplands to her father, and right welcome was she made, but exceeding wrathful were they both at the base design which had been toward in Sweden, & with Harald that he had been minded to leave her in loneliness. Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand, brought forth a son even there in the summer; this boy was called Olaf at his baptism, & Hrani poured the water over him. At the outset was the child reared by Gudbrand & Asta his mother.
¶ Earl Hakon ruled the whole coast of Norway; sixteen counties had he under his sway, and forasmuch as Harald Fairhair had prescribed that an earl should be over every county, and that prescription had endured for long, there were under him sixteen earls. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
‘Where else know we the government
(On this the hosts may ponder)
Of one land-ruler over the lands of sixteen earls?
Unto the four corners of heaven rises the rumour
Of the doughty deeds of the belauded chieftain.’
¶ During the rule of Earl Hakon the increase was good in the land, & peace was there within it among the peasantry. Well-beloved, too, was the Earl among them for the greater part of his life, but as his years waxed old it happened that his intercourse with women became unseemly, and to such a pass came this that the Earl would cause the daughters of powerful men to be brought unto him, when he would lie with them for a week or twain, and then send them back to their homes. This manner of acting brought him to great enmity with the kinsmen of these women, and the peasantry fell to murmuring, as is the wont of the folk of Throndhjem when things are not to their liking.
¶ Now there came to the ears of Earl Hakon the fame of a man overseas westward who called himself Oli, & whom men held 57 for a King; and he misdoubted from the talk of certain folk that this man must be of the lineage of the Norwegian Kings. He was told, indeed, that Oli called himself Gerdish (i.e., of Garda) by race, but the Earl had heard that Tryggvi Olafson had had a son who had been taken eastward to Garda (western Russia), and had been brought up there at the Court of King Valdamar, and that his name was Olaf. ¤ Often had the Earl sought information about this man, and he misdoubted that he it was who had now come to the western countries. Now to Hakon the Earl was a great friend, one Thorir Klakka, who was known far and wide, for he had sailed long whiles as a viking, and at others as a merchant. ¤ So west across the sea Earl Hakon now despatched this man, bidding him fare to Dublin as a merchant, as many were wont to fare in those days. It was laid on Thorir that he should ascertain of what manner of man was this Oli, and should he hear of a truth he was Olaf Tryggvason, or of the lineage of the Kings of Norway, then was Thorir, if it might be, to ensnare him into the power of the Earl.
¶ So Thorir gat him west to Dublin, and enquiring there for tidings of Oli learned that he was with his brother-in-law King Olaf Kvaran.§ Thereafter Thorir brought it to pass that he gat speech of Oli, and when they had talked often and long (for Thorir was a very smooth-tongued man) fell Oli to asking about the Upland kings: which of them were still alive and what dominions pertained to them. ¤ Likewise asked he concerning the Earl, and if he were much beloved in the country. Thorir answered: ‘The Earl is so mighty a man that no one durst speak but as he wills, nevertheless the reason of this is that we have none other to look to. Verily know I the minds of many mighty men, & of the people likewise, & that they would be eager & ready were a king of the lineage of Harald Fair-hair to come to the realm. ¤ Of this, however, is there no likelihood inasmuch as it has been well proven how little it 58 availeth to contend against Earl Hakon.’ ¤ And when they had talked much together on this matter, revealed Olaf unto Thorir his name & lineage, & craved counsel of him whether the peasantry would have him for their King should he fare over to Norway. With eagerness sought Thorir to urge him on to make this journey, praising him and his prowess most exceedingly. Then did Olaf conceive a great desire to be gone to the realm of his kin; and sailed he thereafter from the west with five ships, going first to the Hebrides; & together with him went Thorir. Later sailed he to the Orkneys where Earl Sigurd, the son of Hlodvir, was lying in Asmundarvag (Osmundwall) in Rognvaldzey (South Ronaldsey) in a long-ship for he was about to sail over to Katanes (Caithness). Then did King Olaf sail his folk from the west & put into haven in the island because Pettlanzfjord (Pentland Firth) was not navigable. ¤ When the King heard that the Earl was lying there summoned he him to talk with him, and Earl Sigurd having come to the King not long did they talk ere the King Olaf said that the Earl and all the folk of the land must let themselves be baptized or they would straightway be put to death; and the King said he would carry fire & sword through the isles, and lay waste the land if the folk thereof did not allow themselves to be christened. ¤ So the Earl being thus beset chose to accept baptism, and was baptized there and then with all his men. Thereafter swore the Earl an oath that he would become the King’s man, & give him his son for a hostage—his name was Whelp or Hound—and Olaf took him home with him to Norway.
¶ Olaf then sailed eastward out to sea, and when he left the main, went in to the Isle of Most, where he went on land in Norway for the first time. ¤ He caused a Mass to be said in his tent, & on the self-same spot was a church afterward builded. Now Thorir Klakka told the King that their wisest course was to keep secret his identity, and to let not the slightest rumour 59 about him get abroad, and to travel as speedily as might be so as to fall upon the Earl while he was still unawares. ¤ Even so did King Olaf, faring northward day and night according to the set of the wind, & he let not the people know of his journey, nor who it was that was sailing. When he was come north to Agdanes gat he tidings that Earl Hakon was within the fjord, & moreover that he was at variance with the peasantry. Now when Thorir heard tell of this quite otherwise was it from what he had expected, for after the battle of the Jomsborg vikings all men in Norway were full friendly with Earl Hakon by reason of the victory he had won, & which had saved the land from war; but now so ill had things befallen that here was the Earl at strife with the peasantry, & that with a great chief come into the land.
¶ At this time Hakon the Earl was a guest at Medalhus in Gaulardal, his ships lying off Vigg the while. ¤ Now there was a certain Orm Lyrgia, a wealthy yeoman who lived at Bynes, and he had to wife Gudrun the daughter of Bergthor of Lundar, & so fair a woman was this Gudrun that she was called the ‘sun of Lundar.’ ¤ And on such an errand as this, namely to bring unto him Orm’s wife, did Earl Hakon send his thralls. ¤ The men coming thither to Bynes made known their errand, but Orm bade them first go out & sup, & before they had well eaten there had come to him many men whom he had sent for from the neighbouring homesteads. Then said Orm that he would in nowise suffer Gudrun to go with the thralls; and Gudrun herself bade the thralls go tell the Earl that never would she go to him save he sent Thora of Rimul,§ a wealthy lady and one of the Earl’s sweethearts, to fetch her. Then the thralls said that they would come once again in such a manner that both master and mistress would repent them of this business, & uttering grievous threats they gat them gone. Now in all four directions of the countryside did Orm send out war-arrows, and with them word that all men should rise 60 against Hakon the Earl to slay him. Moreover he let Haldor of Skerdingsted be told, and forthwith Haldor also made despatch of the war-arrow. ¤ Not long before this had the Earl taken the wife of a man named Bryniolf, and from that piece of work had arisen a great pother, and something nigh the assembling together of an host. ¤ So after receiving the message aforesaid all the people hastened together and made their way to Medalhus, but to the Earl coming news of their motions thereon left he the house together with his men and went to a deep valley which is now called Jarlsdal (the Earl’s valley), and therein they hid themselves. The day thereafter kept the Earl watch on the peasant host. The peasants had encompassed all the footways, though they were mostly of a mind that the Earl had made off to his ships. These were now commanded by his son Erling, a young man of singular promise. ¤ When night fell sent the Earl his men away from him, bidding them take to the forest tracks out to Orkadal, ‘No one will harm ye if I am nowhere nigh,’ he said. ‘Send also word to Erling to go out of the fjord so that we may meet in More. I shall find a means to hide me from the peasants.’ Then the Earl departed and a thrall of his named Kark bore him company. ¤ Ice was there on the Gaul river, but the Earl set his horse at it & they came through, with the loss of his cloak, to a cave which has since been called Jarlshellir (the Earl’s cave), and therein slept they soundly. When Kark awakened recounted he unto the Earl a dream he had dreamt: how a man black & ill to behold had come nigh the cave, and he was afeared would enter it, and this man had told him that ‘Ulli’ was dead. ¤ Then said the Earl, ‘Erling must have been slain.’ For the second time Thormod Kark slept and he cried out in his sleep, and when he awoke told his dream, namely that he had seen the self-same man coming down again, & he had bidden Kark tell the Earl that now all the sounds were closed. ¤ And Kark telling Earl Hakon his dream said he thought it might betoken a short life 61 for him. Thereafter they arose and went to the homestead of Rimul, whence sent the Earl Kark to Thora bidding her come privily to him. This did she in haste, and made the Earl right welcome, and he craved of her hiding were it but for a few nights even until dispersed should be the peasants. ‘Here is it that thou wilt be sought by them,’ said she, ‘and search will they make both within and without, throughout the whole of this my homestead, for many there are that wot over well how that I would fain help thee all that I might. Howbeit one place is there wherein would I never seek for such a man 62 as thou, and that is in the swine-sty.’ So thither hied they and said the Earl: ‘Here then will we hide us, for it behoves us that first of all must we give heed to our own lives.’ Thereupon dug the thrall a large ditch in the sty & carried away the earth, and afterwards placed wood across it. ¤ And Thora brought unto the Earl tidings that Olaf Tryggvason was come up the fjord, and that he had slain the Earl’s son Erling. ¤ Right so went the Earl into the trench, & Kark with him, and Thora dragged wood athwart it, and swept earth and muck over it, and drave the swine thereon. Now the swine-sty was under a certain big rock.
¶ With five long-ships shaped Olaf Tryggvason his course into the fjord, & Erling, the son of Earl Hakon with his three ships rowed him out to meet him. Or ever the ships drew nigh one to another Erling and his men knew that this was war, and then in lieu of coming to a meeting with Olaf did they make head for the land. Now Olaf when he had seen the long-ships rowing down the fjord towards him thought to himself that this would be Earl Hakon, and thereon gave the word of command to row ahead as hard as might be. ¤ The men of Erling even so soon as they were come nigh unto the shore leapt they in haste overboard & made for land. Thither after them were come the ships of Olaf and he himself saw swimming a man exceeding fair to look upon, and thereon seized he the tiller and threw it even unto this man, and the tiller smote the head of Erling, he that was son of the Earl, so that his skull was cloven, yea even to the brain. ¤ Thus came it to pass that Erling lost his life. ¤ There slew the men of Olaf many, but even so did a few make good their escape; others again made they prisoners, & giving them quarter gat tidings from them. ¤ Thus learnt Olaf that the peasants had driven away Earl Hakon, that he was fleeing before them, and that all the folk that were his were scattered. ¤ Thereafter did the peasants come unto Olaf, and as all liked one another passing 63 well forthwith entered they into fellowship. ¤ The peasants hailed him for their King, and they covenanted together to seek Earl Hakon, & to make search up into Gaulardal where if peradventure he was to be found in any of the houses there, deemed they it likeliest would he be at Rimul since all men knew for why. ¤ Thora was the dearest friend to him in that valley. So thither went they, and sought the Earl both without and within but of him could they find no trace; and Olaf summoned the people together out in the yard, and standing on the rock which was beside the swine-sty spake unto them, and the words that he uttered were that he would reward with riches and honour the man who would work mischief to Earl Hakon. ¤ This speech was heard both by the Earl and Kark. Now by them in the sty had they a light there with them, and the Earl said: ‘Why art thou so pale, yet withal as black as earth? Is it in thy heart, Kark, that thou shouldst betray me?’ ‘Nay,’ said Kark, ‘we two were born on the self-same night, and long space will there not be twixt the hour of our deaths.’ Towards evening went King Olaf away, & when it was night Kark slept, and the Earl kept watch, but Kark was troubled in his sleep. Then the Earl awakened him & asked him whereof he dreamt, and he said: ‘I was now even at Ladir, and Olaf Tryggvason placed a gold ornament about my neck.’ ¤ The Earl answered: ‘A blood-red ring will it be that Olaf Tryggvason will lay about thy neck, shouldst thou meet with him. Beware now, and betray me not, & thou shalt be treated well by me as heretofore.’ Then stay they both sleepless each watching the other, as it might be, but nigh daybreak fell the Earl asleep and was troubled at once, so troubled that he drew his heels up under him & his head likewise under him, and made as though he would rise up, calling aloud and in a fearsome way. Then grew Kark afeard & filled with horror, so it came to pass that he drew a large knife from his belt and plunged it into the throat of the Earl cutting him from ear to ear. Thus 64 was encompassed the death of Earl Hakon. ¤ Then cut Kark off the head of the Earl and hasted him away with it, and the day following came he with it to Ladir unto King Olaf, and there told he him all that had befallen them on their flight, as hath already been set forth. Afterwards King Olaf let Kark be taken away thence, & his head be sundered from his trunk.
¶ Thereafter to Nidarholm went King Olaf and likewise went many of the peasantry, and with them bare they the heads of Earl Hakon and Kark. In those days it was the custom to use this island as a place whereon might be slain thieves & criminals, and on it stood a gallows. And the King caused that on this gallows should be exposed the heads of Earl Hakon and Kark. Then went thither the whole of the host, and shouted up at them and cast stones, and said that they went to hell each in goodly company, ever one rascal with another. Thereafter did they send men up to Gaulardal, & after they had dragged thence the body of Earl Hakon did they burn it. ¤ So great strength was there now in the enmity that was borne against Earl Hakon by the folk that were of Throndhjem that no one durst breathe his name save as the ‘bad Earl,’ and for long afterwards was he called after this fashion. ¤ Nevertheless it is but justice to bear testimony of Earl Hakon that he was well worthy to be a chief, firstly by the lineage whereof he was descended, then for his wisdom and the insight with which he used the power that pertained to him, his boldness in battle, and withal his goodhap in gaining victories and slaying his foemen. Thus saith Thorleif Raudfelldarson:
‘Hakon! no Earl more glorious ’neath the moon’s highway:
In strife and battle hath the warrior honour won,
Chieftains mine to Odin hast thou sent,
(Food for ravens were their corses)
Therefore wide be thy rule!’
¶ The most generous of men was Earl Hakon, yet even to such a chief befell so great mishap on his dying-day. And this was 65 brought about by the coming of the time when blood-offerings & the men of blood-offerings were doomed, & in their stead were found the true Faith and righteous worship.
¶ In general Thing at Throndhjem was Olaf Tryggvason chosen to be King of the land, even as Harald Fair-hair had been King. Indeed the folk rose up, & the crowds would hear of nought else but that Olaf Tryggvason should be King; and Olaf went throughout the country conquering it, & all men in Norway vowed allegiance to him. ¤ Even the lords of the Uplands and Vik who had before held their lands from the Danish King now became men unto Olaf and held their lands from him. Then in the first winter & the summer thereafter fared he through the country. ¤ Earl Eirik Hakonson, and Svein his brother, & others of their kith and friendship fled from the land, & going eastward to Sweden, even unto King Olaf the Swede, were by him well received. Thus saith Thord Kolbeinson:
‘Foemen of robbers! swiftly can fate cause change,
Brief space ’fore the treason of men did Hakon to death,
And to the land erewhile taken by the fighter in battle
Came now the son of Tryggvi, faring from the west.
More in his mind had Eirik against his lord and King
Than can now be spoken of, as might be thought of him.
In wrath sought the Earl counsel of the King of the Swedes
(Stubborn are the folk of Throndhjem, ne’er one will flee).’
¶ Now the name of a certain man from Vik was Lodin, and he possessed much wealth and was come of a goodly lineage. Often fared he as a merchant, but upon occasion as a viking. Now it befell one summer that Lodin, to whom appertained the ship, wherein was a fair cargo, did set sail eastward with merchandise that was his, and after making Estland spent he the summer there in the places where the fairs were held. Now the while a fair happeneth are many kinds of goods thither brought to it for sale, & likewise come many thralls, 66 and among them as it befell in this wise one day saw Lodin a woman, who when he looked on her perceived he her to be Astrid, the daughter of Eirik whom King Tryggvi had had to wife. Now indeed was she unlike what she had been when he had aforetime seen her, for pale was she, and wasted, and poorly clad; but went he up to her & asked her about herself, and she answered: ‘Sad is it to relate that have I been sold for a slave, & yet again am I brought hither for sale.’ Thereafter did they recognize one another, & Astrid knew well all about him and she besought him to buy her & take her back to her kin. ‘I will make a bargain with thee on this matter,’ said he, ‘I will bear thee home with me to Norway if thou wilt wed me.’ ¤ So Astrid being in such dire straits and knowing him full well to be a man that was brave & had many possessions, yea and moreover goodly lineage, plighted she him her troth so that she might be set free. Thus it came to pass that Lodin bought Astrid, and bare her away home even unto Norway, and wedded her there with the goodwill of her kinsfolk. The children she bare to him were Thorkel Nefia, Ingirid, and Ingigerd; while the daughters of Astrid by King Tryggvi were Ingibiorg and Astrid. ¤ The sons of Eirik Biodaskalli were Sigurd Carles-head, Jostein, and Thorkel Dydril; all these were noble & wealthy, and to them pertained manors in the east of the country. ¤ Two brothers that dwelt in Vik, Thorgeir & Hyrning as they were named, took to wife the daughters of Astrid and Lodin.
¶ After the Danish King, Harald Gormson, had embraced the faith of Christ made he proclamation throughout his dominions that all men must allow themselves to be baptized, and must turn to the true Faith. He himself followed hard on the bidding, making use of force and chastisement when naught else could prevail. ¤ He sent to Norway with a great host two Earls that were called Urgutherjot and Brimiskiar;§ the mission to them was that they should proclaim Christianity 67 throughout the land & the same also in Vik which had done direct homage unto Harald himself. ¤ Folk made they submissive readily enough, and many country folk were thereon baptized. Howsoever it came to pass that after the death of Harald speedily went his son Svein Two-beard to war in Saxland, Frisland, and at last also in England, and then those of Norway who had received Christianity returned to sacrifices, as in the old times aforesaid in the north country. ¤ But Olaf Tryggvason after that he was King in Norway dwelt he for long in the summer at Vik, where he was made welcome with great show of affection; and to that place came also many of his kindred, & others who were allied to him, and many that had been good friends with his father. Then did Olaf summon 68 to him his uncle, & his step-father Lodin, & his step-brothers Thorgeirr and Hyrning, and laying the matter before them besought them most earnestly to undertake with him, and thereafter with all their might support the spreading of the message of Christianity, for this message it was his wish to carry throughout the whole of his dominions. ¤ And, said he, that he would have it his way or die, ‘I will make all of ye great and powerful men, for it is upon ye that chiefly do I rely inasmuch as ye are to me kith & brethren.’ So all were agreed to do what he bade them and support him in that which he desired, and to have fellowship with all those that were of a mind to follow their counsel. ¤ Then did King Olaf proclaim that he would invite all men in his realm to become Christians, and those who had agreed this aforetime straightway did his bidding, & as they were the most powerful of those present, all the others did according to their example. Thereafter were all folk baptized in the eastern part of Vik, & then went the King to the northern parts thereof and invited all men to receive Christianity; and those who said nay chastised he severely, slaying some, and maiming some, and driving away others from the land. So it came to pass that the people of the whole of that kingdom whereover his father King Tryggvi had ruled aforetime, and likewise that which his kinsman Harald the Grenlander had possessed, received Christianity according to the bidding of King Olaf. Wherefore in that summer and in the winter thereafter were the people of the whole of Vik made Christian.
¶ Early in the spring-time was King Olaf astir, and leaving Vik went he north-west to Agdir and whithersoever he went summoned he the peasants to a Thing, and bade all men let themselves be baptized. And forasmuch as none of the peasantry durst rise up against the King, the people were baptized he went, and the men embraced Christianity.
¶ Bold men and many were there in Hordaland who were 69 come of the kin of Horda Kari. To him had been born four sons: firstly, Thorleif the Wise, secondly, Ogmund who was the father of Thorolf Skialg, the father of Erling of Soli; thirdly, Thord the father of Klyp the ‘hersir’ (he that slew Sigurd Sleva Gunnhildson) and fourthly, Olmod the father of Aksel who was the father of Aslak Fitiar-skalli. This stock was greatest and bravest in Hordaland.
¶ Now when these kinsmen heard the disquieting tidings that the King was coming from the east along the coast, and with him a large host who forced all men that they should break the old laws of the old gods, and imposed penalties with sore chastisements on all those who spake not to his liking, agreed they to meet together to take counsel upon their plans for well knew they the King would soon be upon them; it was therefore agreed among them that they would one & all be present at the Gula-Thing, and there should they meet Olaf Tryggvason.
¶ Even so soon as he was come to Rogaland did Olaf summon a Thing, & thereto came the peasantry in great numbers and fully armed. ¤ And being come together made they speeches and held consultations among themselves, & chose three men who were the most eloquent among them to answer back the King at the Thing. Moreover were they to speak against him and make it known that they would not suffer their laws to be broken even were it the King who ordained the same. Now when the peasants were assembled at the Thing & the Thing was opened, rose up King Olaf and spake, talking at the outset smooth and fair albeit it was manifest in his talking that it was his will that they should accept Christianity. ¤ And after he had done with fair words he fell to vowing that those who spoke against him and would not do his bidding would bring upon themselves his wrath & chastisement and hard entreatment howsoever he might bring it about. ¤ Now when the King had made an end to speaking there stood up one of the 70 yeomen who was the most eloquent & who had been chosen as the first to make answer to King Olaf. ¤ But when he was about to speak was he taken with such a coughing & choking that he could not get forth a word, and down sat he again. Sorely as it had gone with the first yet nevertheless rose another man to his feet to take up the answer, but when he began to talk so greatly did he stammer that never a word could he get forth. Then all who were present fell to laughing, so that the yeoman sat himself down again. Then stood the third man up with intent to speak against King Olaf, but so hoarse was he and husky that no man could hear what he said, so down he sat likewise. There being now none of the chosen yeomen left to speak against the King, and no one else would answer him, the resistance that had been projected came to naught. ¤ In the end therefore were all agreed to do the King’s bidding, and all the Thing folk were christened there and then or ever the King departed from them.
¶ King Olaf proceeded to the Gula-Thing accompanied by his men, for the peasants had sent unto the King saying that there they would answer him on this matter. But when both parties were come to the Thing the King made known that it was his wish first to have speech with the chiefs of the land, so when all were assembled there he set forth his purpose in being present, which was to impose baptism upon them. ¤ Then spake Olmod the Old and said: ‘We kinsmen have taken counsel together on this matter, and of one consent are we thereon. If thou, King, thinkest to force us kinsmen to such a thing as the breaking of our laws, and wilt bend us to thy will, then will we defy thee by all means in our power, & fate must decide whoso shall get the mastery. ¤ But if thou, O King, wilt advance us kinsfolk somewhat then thou mayst bring it so well about that we shall turn to thee in hearty obedience.’ Quoth the King, ‘What is that which ye demand that shall bring about good peace betwixt us?’ Then said Olmod, ‘Firstly is it 71 thou shalt give thy sister, Astrid, in marriage to our kinsman Erling Skialgson, whom we now account the likeliest young man of Norway.’ ¤ The King said that to his mind this was a fair request and that it would be a good marriage seeing that Erling was of a great family, and withal goodly to look upon, but nevertheless said he, must Astrid herself have a word in the matter. Thereafter did the King speak with his sister on the subject, and she answered and said, ‘little it availeth me that I am a King’s daughter and a King’s sister if I am to wed a man without a princely name, rather will I tarry a few winters for another suitor,’ and therewith ended their talking for the time being.
¶ Now after these things King Olaf caused the feathers to be plucked from off a hawk appertaining to Astrid his sister, and thereafter he sent the bird to her. Then said Astrid, ‘Wrathful is my brother now,’ & going to her brother, who bade her welcome, she spake unto him that he the King should give her in marriage as it seemeth best to him. ‘Methought,’ said Olaf, ‘that I had power enough in this land to make whatsoever man I would a man of title and dignity.’ ¤ So then the King summoned Olmod and Erling and all their kinsmen to him to talk with them anent this matter, and in such wise did their talking end that Astrid was betrothed to Erling. Thereafter the King called together a Thing, & offered the peasants Christianity, and though all their kinsfolk were with them in this matter yet were Olmod & Erling the most zealous of all men in forwarding the King’s cause. ¤ No one had any longer the courage to raise his voice against the wish of the King, and thereupon were the people all baptized and became Christian. Now the marriage of Erling Skialgson took place in the summer and many folks came together to be witness of it; thither likewise came King Olaf. On this occasion did the King offer to give Erling an earldom, but Erling spake & said: ’“Hersirs” have my kinsmen been and no higher title will I have than 72 they; but this will I take from thy hands, King, namely that thou makest me to be the greatest in the land of that name.’ So in accord with this did the King give him his promise, and when they parted bestowed on his brother-in-law Erling that land which is north of the Sogn-sea and lies eastward as far as Lidandisnes,§ on the same pact as Harald Fair-hair had given land to his sons, of which an account has been afore writ in fair scrip.
¶ Then in the autumn after these things had come to pass, the King called together a Thing of four counties, & the meeting took place in the north, at Stad on Dragseid. ¤ Thither came folk from Sogn, the Firths, South-More and Raumsdal. King Olaf himself fared to it with a mighty following of men that he took with him from the east of the country, and likewise men who had come to him from Rogaland and Hordaland. Then when he was come to the Thing offered he to those that were gathered together Christianity even as he had done at other places, and forasmuch as he had with him a very great host men were afeared of him. ¤ Then did he give them for choice one of two things, either to accept Christianity and let themselves be baptized, or to be prepared to do battle with him. So the peasants foreseeing no chance of fighting against the King save with ill-hap, accepted the first choice he had offered them & embraced Christianity. Then fared Olaf with his men to North-More, and that country likewise made he Christian; thereafter sailed he in to Ladir & caused the temple there to be pulled down & took all the adornments & property from the temple and from the god. ¤ A great gold ring which Earl Hakon had caused to be wrought took he moreover from the door thereof, & then after he had done these things caused he the temple to be burned.
¶ Now when the peasants came to hear of what the King had done sent they war-arrows throughout the countryside, calling out an host & were about to rise against the King, but meantime 73 sailed he out of the fjord with his men, and thereafter headed northward off-shore. Now it was the intent of Olaf to fare north to Halogaland in order thither to bring Christianity; but when he was come as far north as to Biarney gat he news from Halogaland that they had an host under arms, and were minded to defend their land against the King. The chiefs of this host were Harek of Tiotta, Thorir Hart of Vogar, and Eyvind Rent-cheek. So Olaf learning this, even as aforesaid, turned his ships about & sailed southward off the coast. When he was come as far south as to Stad fared he more slowly, but nevertheless at the beginning of winter had he covered all the distance eastward to Vik.
¶ Now the Queen of Sweden, whom men called the Haughty, was at that time living at one or other of her manors, and betwixt King Olaf and her fared there that winter emissaries who sought her hand in the name of the King. ¤ Queen Sigrid received the offer in a friendly spirit, and in due time was their troth plighted. ¤ King Olaf sent Queen Sigrid the great ring of gold which he had taken from off the door of the temple at Ladir, and it was deemed a most noble gift. ¤ Now touching the matter of this marriage a meeting was to take place the following spring by the Gota river, on the marches of the country. ¤ While this ring which King Olaf had sent to Queen Sigrid was being praised so exceedingly were the Queen’s smiths, brothers, with her; & it befell that they took the ring, and weighed it in their hands, & then spake a word together privily. At this the Queen summoned them to her, and asked of them why made they such mock of the ring, but they denied that they were doing such a thing. ¤ Then said she that she insisted upon knowing what it was they had discovered; & thereupon they told her that there was falsehood in the ring. Then did the Queen let the ring be broken asunder, and copper was found to be inside it. ¤ Thereon was the Queen wroth, and said that Olaf might play her false in more things than this one.74
¶ That same winter went King Olaf up into Ringariki and introduced Christianity there. Now it had befallen that Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand, was speedily wedded after the death of Harald the Grenlander to a man named Sigurd Sow,§ who was King of Ringariki. Sigurd was the son of Sigurd o’ the Copse who again was son to Harald Fair-hair. Dwelling with Asta at that time was Olaf her son by Harald the Grenlander, for he was being reared at the house of his step-father Sigurd Sow. When King Olaf Tryggvason went to Ringariki to introduce Christianity, Sigurd let himself be christened together with Asta his wife, & Olaf her son,§ & for the latter stood Olaf Tryggvason sponsor; the babe was at that time three winters old. ¤ King Olaf then fared southward again to Vik, and abode there the winter, & this was the third winter that he was King of Norway.
¶ Early in the spring fared King Olaf eastward to Konungahella (the King’s rock) to the tryst with Queen Sigrid, and when they were met, talked they one with the other over the matter which had been set afoot in the winter, to wit, that they should wed one another. ¤ Right hopeful did the matter seem to them, until King Olaf spake & said that Sigrid must accept christening and the true Faith. ¤ Then did the Queen make answer: ‘Depart from the faith that I have held aforetime, and which my kindred held before me will I never: yet will I not account it against thee shouldst thou believe on whatsoever god may seem best to thy mind.’ Then Olaf waxed exceedingly wroth and made answer hastily: ‘Heathen as a dog art thou—why should I wed thee?’ and smote her in the face with the glove he was holding in his hand. ¤ Then stood he up on his feet & she arose likewise, and Sigrid said, ‘This might be thy undoing.’ Thereafter were they parted, the King going northward to Vik, and the Queen east to Sweden.
¶ Thence King Olaf fared to Tunsberg & having come thither held he a Thing and gave out thereat that all men who were 75 known and proven to be dealers in witchcraft and spellwork, or were wizards, should depart out of the land. Thereafter did the King cause the countryside thereabouts be searched for such men, & commanded them to be brought unto him. And when they were come to him a man there was among them called Eyvind Well-spring, who was the grandson of Rognovald Straight-legs, the son of King Harald Fair-hair. ¤ Now Eyvind was a wizard & well versed in witchcraft. King Olaf 76 caused all these men to be assembled in a certain hall, which had been made ready for them in goodly wise, and therein feasted he them & gave them much strong drink, and when they were all drunken caused he the chamber to be set on fire. Thus it came about that all the folk who were therein were burned except Eyvind Well-spring who saved himself by climbing through the smoke-hole. ¤ Eyvind having made off and sped far on his way, fell in with men who were going to the King, and he bade these men tell Olaf that he, Eyvind, had gotten away from out of the fire, and never again would he come into the King’s hands; and that moreover would he pursue his arts even as he had done before. ¤ When these men were come to King Olaf they told of Eyvind according as he had bidden them, and ill-pleased enough was the King that Eyvind was not dead.
¶ When spring was come King Olaf left Vik and went the round of his manors, and sent he word throughout Vik that come the summer would he call out an host and with it fare northward in the land. ¤ Thereafter went he north (west) to Agdir, and when Lent was drawing to an end sailed northward to Rogoland, and arrived on Easter Eve§ at Ogvaldsnes in the isle of Kormt, where an Easter festival had been made ready for him. ¤ Nigh upon three hundred men had he with him. That same night Eyvind Well-spring came unto the isle in a long-ship fully manned, and the crew aboard her were all wizards and other folk versed in magic. Eyvind and his band went up ashore from their ship and set to work on their wizardry. Such thick fog & darkness did Eyvind bring about that deemed he it would be impossible for the King and his folk to see them; but no sooner were they come nigh to the house at Ogvaldsnes than lo! it there became broad daylight. Mightily different was this from the desire that Eyvind had conceived, for the darkness which he had wrought by magic enveloped him and his folk so that never a bit more could they see with 77 their eyes than with the napes of their necks, and even round and round went they in a ring. ¤ Now the King’s watchmen saw the wizards as they were moving about, and not knowing what kind of men they might be had the King aroused, and the King & his men got up and clad themselves. When King Olaf saw Eyvind & his folk, bade he his men take their arms and go out to discover what manner of men might these be. Now the King’s folk recognizing Eyvind laid hands on him and the whole band, and brought them into the presence of the King. ¤ Then did Eyvind relate all that had befallen him on his journey. ¤ The King thereafter had them all taken out to a rock which was covered by the sea at high-tide and there let them be bound. Thus Eyvind & the others came by their end. Afterwards was that rock called Skrattasker.
¶ Now it is told that while the King was on this visit at Ogvaldsnes that there came thither one evening an old man; he was one-eyed and wore a slouch hat, but very wise was he in his speech and of all lands could he tell. ¤ This man managed to have speech of the King, & the King found much entertainment in his conversation and questioned him closely on many subjects, & the guest made ready answer to all that he asked him, wherefore sat the King till late in the night conversing with him. ¤ The King asked if he wotted who Ogvald was, whom the ness & homesteads were named after, & the guest answered that Ogvald was a king and a great warrior who made sacrifice above all to a cow, and took the cow with him whithersoever he went, for wholesome did he deem it to drink ever of her milk. King Ogvald fought with that King who is hight Varin, & fell in the combat. He was buried in a barrow not far from the house, and a stone was set up which is still standing. In a place not far from thence was the cow buried, likewise in a barrow. Such things as this told he of kings; and other ancient tidings withal. Now after they had sat thus till late in the night, the bishop reminded the King that it was 78 time for them to rest, & the King did according as the bishop had said. But when the King was unclad and had laid him in his bed, the guest sat himself on the step thereof, and again talked for long with the King; and ever when he had told of one matter did the King long for more. Then spake the bishop to the King saying that it was time for sleep, and the King settled himself for sleep according as the bishop had said & the guest gat him gone, but soon thereafter the King awakened, and asked after his guest, & bade him be called unto him, but nowhere was the guest to be found. On the morrow early the King summoned his cook to him and he who had charge of the drink withal, and asked them if any unknown man had come in to them; & they answered that as they were making ready the food a man had come to them & said that they were boiling but scurvy meat for the King’s table, & therewith he gave them two mighty fat sides of neat & these they boiled with the other flesh. Then commanded the King that all that food should be destroyed, saying that this had not been any man but rather Odin himself, whom heathen men had long believed on, but, said he, never should Odin beguile them.[§]
¶ Now when summer was come called King Olaf together a large host from the east of the country and with it sailed he northward to Throndhjem, going in first to Nidaros. Thereafter sent he round the whole of the fjord bidding men assemble at a Thing, and there gathered at Frosta a Thing of eight counties. ¤ Now the peasants, be it said, had turned this Thing summons into a war-arrow,[§] and to the assembly came men from the whole of the district of Throndhjem, so that when the King arrived at the Thing, thither likewise was come the peasant host fully armed. ¤ The Thing being established, the King addressed the people and bade them accept Christianity, but when he had been speaking but a little while the peasants called out to him, & bade him be silent or otherwise, said they, would they rise against him and drive him away. 79 ‘Thus did we,’ said they, ‘with Hakon Adalstein’s foster-son when he commanded a thing of the kind, and hold we thee in no more respect than held we him.’ ¤ Then did King Olaf seeing the ire of the peasants, and moreover knowing full well that they had so large an host, change his manner of address and made as if he were agreed with them and spake to them thus: ‘It is my wish that we should be friends again, in such good accord as we were aforetime. ¤ Thither will I go wheresoever ye hold your greatest blood-offering, & witness your worship; then will we all take counsel together as to what manner of worship we will have, and be then all of one mind thereon.’ Now when the King spake thus mildly to the peasants, grew they softened in temper, and all the converse went peaceably and in seemly fashion, and at the end was it determined that there should be a midsummer sacrifice at Maerin, and that thither all the chiefs and wealthy peasants should go as the custom was, and that thither likewise King Olaf was to go.
¶ Now there was a certain wealthy yeoman whose name was Skeggi (Iron Beard, called they him) who dwelt at Uphaug in Yriar, and he it was who first spake up against the King at the Thing, and the cause thereof was because he was the spokesman of the peasantry against Christianity. But in the manner aforesaid was the Thing brought to an end, and the peasants went to their homes, and the King across to Ladir.
¶ At this time was King Olaf lying with his ships in the Nid (thirty ships had he, and his folk were of great prowess) but the King himself was ofttimes at Ladir, being kept company by his body-guard. ¤ Now when the time appointed for the blood-offering at Maerin was drawing nigh held King Olaf a mighty feast at Ladir; thither there came to it chieftains and other wealthy peasants from Strind & from places up in Gauldal, in accordance with the bidding of King Olaf. When all things were ready and the guests come, there was held on 80 the first evening a large banquet, and the cups thereat were often charged & men became drunk; that night slept all men there in peace. On the morrow early, after the King was clad, ordered he Mass to be said, and when the Mass was ended his men sounded their horns for a house-Thing, and the Thing being established rose the King to his feet and spake, saying: ‘A Thing held we at Frosta, and thereat I bade the peasantry let themselves be christened; but they in their turn bade me attend a blood-offering with them, even as the foster-son to King Hakon Adalstein had attended one. And there was accord betwixt us inasmuch as it was determined that we should meet at Maerin & make a great blood-offering. ¤ But if I am to turn to sacrificing with you, then will I cause to be made the greatest sacrifice that can be, namely, the sacrifice of men. Nor will I choose as gifts for the gods thralls and evil-doers, but the noblest men, and by this token name I Orm Lygra of Medalhus, Styrkar of Gimsar, Kar of Gryting, Asbiorn Thorbergson of Varnes, Orm of Lyxa, and Haldor of Skerdingsted.’ Added to these named he five other men who were of the noblest there; all these, said he, should be sacrificed for peace and a good year, & he commanded that they should be seized forthwith. ¤ Then the peasants seeing that they were not numerous enough to withstand the King begged for grace and gave the whole matter into his hands, whereupon it was agreed that all those who were come thither should let themselves be baptized, & swear an oath unto the King to hold fast the true Faith, and have naught further to do with sacrificing. ¤ All these men kept the King at his feast until they gave their sons or brothers or other near kin to be hostages.
¶ Then fared King Olaf with all his men in to Throndhjem; and when he was come to Maerin found he there assembled all the chiefs that were of Throndhjem; those who were most zealous to withstand the Christian faith. With them were all the wealthy yeomen who had hitherto upheld blood-offerings 81 in this place, a right goodly gathering of men, even as it had been aforetime at the Frosta-Thing. ¤ The King having required that the Thing should meet, both sides betook themselves to it, and they were fully armed. Then when the Thing was established the King spake and offered the men Christianity, & Iron-Beard answered on behalf of the peasants and said that now even as before would they not suffer the King to break their laws: ‘We desire, King, that thou makest sacrifice, even as other kings in the land have done before thee.’ Greatly was this speaking applauded by the peasants, & they shouted that everything must be according unto the words of Skeggi. Then made the King answer that he would go to the temple and witness their worship when they were sacrificing, and at this were the peasants well pleased, and both sides betook themselves thither accordingly.
¶ Now with King Olaf when he entered into the temple were a certain few of his men & a certain few of the peasants. When the King was come unto the place of the gods where sat Thor, all adorned with gold and silver, then did King Olaf lift up a gold-wrought pike which he had in his hand and smote Thor so that he fell from off his altar, & thereupon the King’s men ran up & cast down all the other gods from their altars. While they were within the temple was Iron-Beard slain before the entrance-door thereof, and this deed was done by the men of the King. Then when the King came forth again to his folk, bade he the peasants choose one of two conditions: and these twain conditions were either that they should accept the Faith of Christ, or in default thereof do battle with him. Now Iron-Beard having been slain was there no man to raise the banner against the King, so then was that condition accepted which meant going over unto the King & doing that which he had commanded. ¤ Then caused King Olaf all the folk who were present to be baptized, and from them took hostages that they would cleave to the new faith that was given them. ¤ Thereafter 82 sent the King his men round to all the different parts of Throndhjem, and durst no man utter a word against the faith of Christ.
¶ Then went King Olaf with his men to Nidaros, and on the banks of the river Nid caused houses to be built, and appointed that on the spot should arise a merchant-town. He gave men sites on which to build them houses, & his own King’s-House built he above Scipa-Krok.§ ¤ In the autumn caused he to be brought thither such goods as were necessary for a sojourn there during the wintertide; and with him were a great company of men.
¶ After the death of Iron-Beard was his body borne out to Yriar; and he lies in the Skeggi barrow at Austratt.§ ¤ King Olaf summoned a meeting of the kith of Iron-Beard and forasmuch as his folk had slain this man offered he to pay atonement for the deed, but there were many brave men to make answer on behalf of Iron-Beard. ¤ Now Iron-Beard had a daughter whose name was Gudrun, and in the end was it agreed betwixt those concerned that the King should wed this Gudrun. When the marriage time was come went they both of them into one bed, King Olaf and Gudrun, and the first night as they were lying together no sooner had the King fallen asleep than Gudrun drew forth a knife, and was about to thrust it into the King, when he awoke and wresting the knife from her cried out to his men to tell them what had befallen. Gudrun & all the men who had accompanied her then took their apparel and gat them gone in haste; & never afterwards did Gudrun lie in the same bed with King Olaf.
¶ That same autumn King Olaf caused a great long-ship to be built on the sands at the mouth of the Nid; a cutter was she, and at work on the building thereof were many smiths. ¤ At the beginning of winter she was completed, and there were in her thirty holds, & the prow and stern were lofty withal, yet was she not broad of beam. That ship called he the ‘Crane.’83
¶ Now when King Olaf had been two winters in Norway there came to dwell with him a Saxon priest whose name was Thangbrand; violent was he & murderous, but a goodly clerk withal and an active man. So headstrong was he, howsoever, that the King would not keep him with him, but sent him to Iceland to make that country Christian. ¤ Thangbrand was given a merchant ship, & of his voyage it may be related that he fared to Iceland, and reached the eastern fjords in southern Alptafjord, & the winter thereafter abode with Hall at Sida. Thangbrand preached Christianity in the islands and Hall 84 and his folk and many other chiefs let themselves be baptized according to his word; but there were many others who spake against the new faith. Thorvald and Vetrlidi the skald made lampoons about Thangbrand, but he slew them both. Thangbrand abode three winters in Iceland, and was the slayer of three men or ever he departed thence.
¶ A certain man was there named Sigurd & another who was called Hawk; they were Halogalanders, and oft-times made voyages for the conveyance of merchandise. ¤ One summer fared they to England. When they were returned to Norway sailed they northward along the coast, & in North More fell in with the fleet of King Olaf. ¤ Now when the King was told that some heathen men, skippers, from Halogaland were there, summoned he them to him & asked them if they would allow themselves to be baptized, and thereto answered they nay. Thereafter did the King talk to them after diverse fashions, but it availed nothing; then he vowed that death or maiming should be their lot, but they obeyed him none the more for that. Then did he cause them to be put in irons, and kept them in durance for a while, and in fetters were they, and the King talked often with them, but naught prevailed. ¤ Then one night made they off, and no one knew anything about them, or in what manner they had gotten away; but in the autumn were they arrived north, at Harek of Tiotta’s, and right welcome were they made. ¤ There dwelt they throughout the winter & were well entertained in all fairness & hospitality.
¶ One fair day in spring it befell that Harek was at home on his farm and with him were but few men. Now the time hung heavy on his hands, and Sigurd spake to him & asked if they should not row out a little way, and so pass the time, and this liked Harek well. So betook they themselves to the shore, and did hale down a six-oared boat, & Sigurd from the boat-house fetched him a sail and the gear appertaining to the boat, and moreover shipped he the rudder. Sigurd and his brother were 85 fully armed, as was their wont to be when they were at home with the goodman, and the twain were strong men. ¤ Now or ever they gat them into the boat did they throw into it some boxes of butter and a basket of bread, and between them bare they a large cask of ale down to the craft. This done did they all row from land, & having come away from the island hoist the sail, & Harek did steer, & away bore they speedily from the island. ¤ Then did the brothers go astern to where Harek was sitting. Saith Sigurd to Harek the yeoman: ‘Choose thou now betwixt several things: one of them is to let us brothers have the upper hand on this cruise, & another is to let us bind thee, & the third is that we can slay thee.’ Then Harek seeing in what a plight he was, inasmuch as he could not measure strength with more than one of the brothers even were he and they matched as to arms, chose what seemed to him the best of a poor business which was to let them do as pleased the twain. ¤ So swore he to them an oath and on that gave them a promise, and after that Sigurd was possessed of the tiller and did steer south along the coast on a fair breeze, and withal of a mighty care were the brothers not to fall in with other craft. They paused not on their cruise ere they came to Throndhjem and to Nidaros, and at that last place found they King Olaf. Then did the King summon Harek to talk with him, and thereupon offered him that he should embrace the good faith of Christ, but Harek would have naught of it. On this matter spake for many days the King and Harek, sometimes in the presence of many men, sometimes alone; but never were they come of one mind. ¤ So at the last said the King to Harek: ‘Home shalt thou go, and on these counts no harm will I do thee at present: firstly seeing that there is kinship betwixt us, and again lest thou mightest say that I had gotten thee by guile, but know ye of a truth that I be minded to come north in the summertime, & visit distress on ye Halogalanders, and then shall ye wot if I can chastise those which accept not the 86 faith which is of Christ.’ ¤ Right pleased was Harek that he could get away from thence so speedily; to him gave King Olaf a good ship rowing ten or twelve oars a side, and caused it to be well found with all things needful & of the best; thirty men did he send forth with Harek, stout fellows & all equipped of the best.
¶ Thus Harek of Tiotta sped from the town with all the haste that might be, whereas Hawk and Sigurd remained with the King, and the twain were both baptized. ¤ Harek continued on his way until he was come home to Tiotta, & from thence sent he word to his friend Eyvind Rent-cheek that Harek of Tiotta had spoken with King Olaf, but had not let himself be cowed into accepting the new God; & moreover Harek caused Eyvind to be told that King Olaf was minded to bring an host against them come summer-tide & that they must act warily, and Harek bade Eyvind come to him as soon as ever might be. When this message was brought to Eyvind, quoth he that it behoved them greatly to take such steps as would prevent the King from getting the upper hand of them, and he hied him away with all speed in a light skiff with but few men aboard it. ¤ When he was arrived at Tiotta Harek bade him welcome, and straightway went they, Harek and Eyvind, to talk together on the other side of the house-yard, but hardly had they speech of one another than they were fallen on by men of King Olaf, for so it was that these men had followed Harek northward. Eyvind was taken captive and led to their ship, and thereafter fared they away with him, and no pause did they make in their voyage or ever they were come to Throndhjem to find King Olaf in Nidaros. Eyvind was then haled before the King who offered him baptism in like manner as he had offered other men baptism, but to this Eyvind answered, ‘Nay.’ ¤ Then with fair words the King bade him be baptized and gave him many good reasons therefor, & the Bishop spake after the same fashion as the King, none the less 87 would Eyvind in no wise suffer himself to be persuaded. Then did the King offer him gifts, and the dues and rights of broad lands, but Eyvind put all these away from him. Then did the King threaten him with torture even unto death, but never did Eyvind weaken his resistance. Thereafter caused the King to be brought in a bowl filled with glowing coals, and had it 88 set on the belly of Eyvind, and not long was it ere his belly burst asunder. ¤ Then spake Eyvind: ‘Take away the bowl from off me for I would fain speak some words before I die,’ and accordingly it was done. ¤ Then the King asked: ‘Wilt thou now, Eyvind, believe on Christ?’ ‘No,’ answered he. ‘I am not such as can be baptized, I am a spirit quickened in the human body by the magic of the Lapps for before that had my father and mother never a child.’ Then died Eyvind who was the most skilled of wizards.
¶ In the spring which followed on these happenings did King Olaf cause his ships and men to be made ready for war, taking for his own ship the ‘Crane,’ and there was mustered a large and goodly host. ¤ All things being now ready shaped he a course from out the fjord, and bringing his fleet north past Byrda fared northward to Halogaland. Wheresoever he landed, summoned he a Thing, & at it offered the people baptism in the true Faith. Now against this had no man the boldness to speak, therefore came it to pass that whithersoever he fared were all that were of those lands baptized. King Olaf visited Tiotta and was the guest of Harek, who was baptized at that hour together with all the folk that were about him. ¤ When the King departed thence Harek bestowed on him great gifts and became his man, and from the King received the dignity of bailiff with the dues and rights appertaining unto a lord of the land.
¶ Raud the Strong was the name of a peasant who abode at Godey in that fjord which is named Salpti (Salten). ¤ Raud was a man of much wealth and at his beck were many house-carles; a powerful man was he withal, for a large company of Lapps were ready to follow him to war whensoever he needed them. ¤ Raud was zealous as a maker of blood-offerings, and skilled also in witchcraft; even so was he furthermore a warm friend to that man about whom it has been writ before, to wit, Thorir Hart, & even like unto him was he also a mighty 89 chief. ¤ Now when it came to the ears of these men that Olaf was abroad with an host northward even in Halogaland, they too their men mustered, launching out ships, and assembling an host. To Raud appertained a great dragon-ship with golden heads thereto, a ship of thirty benches, and broad was she of beam for her length, and had likewise Thorir Hart also a ship of good size. ¤ Southward sailed they their fleet purposing to meet King Olaf, and when they were fallen in with him gave they battle, and fierce was the fight thereof. Soon men began to fall plenteously, but so much the more was this the case among the host of the Halogalanders; their ships were cleared and thereupon came fear & terror over them, & Raud rowed his dragon out to sea and hoisted the sail thereof. A breeze had he wherever he was minded to go, and this came of his powers of magic; but to cut short the tale of the cruise of Raud is briefly to relate that home sailed he even unto Godey. For land made Thorir Hart in all haste and his folk fled their ships, but King Olaf pursued after them & put them to the sword. Moreover then as ever when such doings were afoot was the King himself foremost among his men. ¤ He saw whither Thorir ran (and Thorir was exceeding fleet of foot) and thither went the King after him, followed by his dog Vigi. And the King called out: ‘Vigi, catch the hart,’ and Vigi sprang ahead after Thorir and straightway leapt up at him. ¤ Then Thorir had perforce to stop and the King threw a javelin after him, but Thorir struck the dog with his sword & wounded it sore, and at the same moment the King’s javelin flew under Thorir’s hand and went through him & out at the other side, and thus ended Thorir his life; but Vigi was borne wounded to the ships. ¤ To all those who asked it and were willing to accept baptism gave King Olaf quarter.
¶ Thence sailed King Olaf with his host northward along the coast, baptizing all folk he went, & being come north to Salpti was he minded to go up the fjord & seek Raud. 90 Foul weather howsoever set in with a gale blowing fiercely down the fjord, and though the King lay there nigh upon a week the same wind blew ever the while from the land, though without the fjord was there a fresh and favourable breeze for to sail north along the coast. ¤ Therefore it came to pass that the King set sail and fared all the way northward to Amd, and there the folk became Christians. ¤ After that went he about, and when he was come south again to Salpti he found a gale blowing down the fjord and driving spray into his countenance. ¤ There lay the King even a few more nights, but the weather waxing no better inquired he then of Bishop Sigurd whether or not he wotted of some remedy against the fiendcraft.
¶ So thereupon took Bishop Sigurd all the appurtenances that belonged unto the Holy Mass, and walked he forward therewith even to the prow of the King’s ship. There was a candle lit & was incense carried forward & thereafter was ye Holy Rood set at the prow. ¤ The gospel was read and also many prayers, and the Bishop sprinkled holy water over the whole of the ship. Thereafter bade he the crew unship the tilts and row up the fjord, and the King commanded that the other ships should row after them. ¤ No sooner had the crew of the ‘Crane’ fallen to their oars, & she the ship was set well up to the fjord, than felt they that there was no more wind against them, & in her wake was free sea and calm; but on both sides of her flew the spray & it drave so that no man could perceive the mountains on either side of the fjord. So it fared that one ship rowed after the other in the calm, and thus pursued they one another the whole livelong day, & throughout the night thereafter; and a little before dawn came they to Godey, and brought-to off the house of Raud, and there found his great dragon lying off-shore. ¤ Forthwith went King Olaf to the house with his men and made for the upper chamber wherein Raud was sleeping, and his folk burst open the door and ran 91 in. ¤ Then was Raud taken and bound, but of the other men who were therein some were killed & others taken prisoners. Thereafter the King’s men went to the room wherein slept the house-carles of Raud, and some of them were then slain and some bound & some beaten. Then caused the King Raud to be led before him & offered him baptism. ‘Take from thee thy possessions I then will not,’ quoth the King, ‘but will the rather be thy friend, an thou wilt show thyself worthy of my friendship.’ Against this did Raud loudly raise his voice, saying that never would he believe on Christ, and blaspheming God. ¤ Then did the King wax wroth, and swore that Raud should suffer the worst of deaths, and the King commanded that he be taken and bound with his back to a pole and that a bit of wood be placed betwixt his teeth so that his mouth might be open, and caused an adder to be taken and set in his mouth, but the adder would in no wise enter therein but writhed away when Raud blew upon it. Then did the King cause the adder to be taken & put in a hollow stick of angelica and set in the mouth of Raud (albeit some say that the King let his horn be taken & put into the mouth of Raud, and that the adder was placed in this and pushed down with a red-hot rod of iron), and then the adder slid into the mouth of Raud, and thereafter down his throat, and cut its way out through his side. After this manner ended the life of Raud. Then did the King take thence very great wealth in gold & silver and other chattels, weapons, & divers kinds of valuable things. The King caused all the fellows that had been with Raud to be baptized save those who, not suffering this, were slain or tortured. Then King Olaf took the dragon that had pertained unto Raud and himself was her steersman, and a much larger and finer ship was she than the ‘Crane’: forward she was fashioned with a dragon’s head and aft with a crook§ ending in like manner as the tail of a dragon, & both the prow & the whole of the stern were overlaid with gold. Now the King called this 92 ship the ‘Serpent,’ for when the sail was hoisted aloft was it like unto the wings of a dragon, and this was the fairest ship in all Norway. ¤ The islands whereon Raud had lived were called Gilling and Haering, but together were they styled Godey, & the Godey current (Godöström) lies over to the north, betwixt them and the mainland. All that lived around this fjord did King Olaf convert unto Christianity, and then went he southward along the coast, and there happened much on that cruise which is set forth in many legends about a giant and evil spirits which attacked his men & sometimes himself, but rather will we write of facts even such as the conversion of Norway & of those other lands whither he bore Christianity. That same autumn did the King lead his host to Throndhjem, bringing-to at Nidaros, and there making ready for a winter sojourn.
¶ And now will I next write what there is to tell of the men of Iceland.
¶ That same autumn there came to Nidaros from Iceland Kiartan, the son of Olaf Hoskuldson and the grandson, on his mother’s side, of Eigil Skallagrimson, who hath been called the likeliest man of those born in Iceland. ¤ There was also Halldor the son of Gudmund of Modruvellir, and Kolbein the son of Thord Frey’s-priest, the brother of Burning-Flosi, and fourthly Sverting the son of Runolf the Priest. ¤ These were all heathen, as were many others: some powerful, and others not so powerful. ¤ There came also from Iceland noble men who had accepted the true Faith from Thangbrand, and one that was of these was Gizur the White, the son of Teit Ketilbiarnson, whose mother was Alof, the daughter of Bodvar Viking-Karason the ‘hersir.’ Bodvar’s brother was Sigurd the father of Eirik Biodaskalli, the father of Astrid, who was the mother of King Olaf. Another Icelander was named Hialti Skeggiason, and he had to wife Vilborg the daughter of Gizur the White; Hialti was a Christian, and King Olaf 93 received with pleasure Gizur and his son-in-law Hialti, and with the King did they abide. Those of the Icelanders, however, who were captains of the ships and were heathens to boot, sought to sail away even so soon as the King was come to town, for it was told them that the King constrained all men to embrace the faith of Christ. It so befell natheless that the wind was set against them, & drave them back off Nidarholm. The captains of the ships were hight Thorarin Nefiolfson, Hallfrod the Skald, the son of Ottar, Brand the Bountiful and Thorleik Brandson. Now it being told to King Olaf that some of the Icelanders, and they heathens, were hard by with their ships and were about to flee the town, he sent to them and forbade them to sail, but commanded them instead to come and lie off the town, and this they did but unloaded not their ships.
¶ Then came the holy season of Michaelmas,§ and the King caused the feast to be well kept and a solemn Mass was said. Thereat were the Icelanders witnesses and hearkened to the fair singing and the ringing of bells. ¤ When they were come back to their ships each of them said what he had thought of the Christian men’s ways & Kiartan praised them, but most of the others mocked at them, & it befell that the King heard of this, for as the saying goes, ‘many are the King’s ears.’ Then forthwith that self-same day sent he an emissary to Kiartan, and bade him come unto him, & Kiartan went unto him with but few men, and the King bade him welcome. Now Kiartan was one of the biggest and fairest of men, with a great gift of speech. When they had parleyed a while did the King make proffer to Kiartan that he should embrace the true Faith, and Kiartan made answer unto him that he would not say nay to this if he might thus gain the friendship of the King, whereupon swore the King to him & pledged him his hearty friendship, & after this fashion was a compact struck between them. On the morrow was Kiartan baptized, and with him Bolli 94 Thorleikson his kinsman, and all their fellows. ¤ Kiartan and Bolli were the guests of the King as long as they went in white weeds,§ and the King was of kindly countenance toward them.
¶ It befell one day that King Olaf was walking in the street when some men came toward him, and he who was walking foremost greeted the King. ¤ The King asked of the man his name, and the latter said he was hight Hallfrod. ¤ Then said the King, ‘Art thou a skald?’ ‘I can make verses,’ said he. Then the King answered: ‘Thou wilt accept baptism as I trow and thereafter be my man?’ ¤ Quoth Hallfrod: ‘There must be a bargain on that matter if I am to suffer myself to be baptized, to wit, that thou, King, holdest me thyself at the font, for from no man else will I take it.’ ‘So be it,’ said the King, & so Hallfrod was baptized and the King held him himself at the font. Thereafter the King asked Hallfrod: ‘Wilt thou be my man?’ & Hallfrod made answer: ‘I was of Earl Hakon’s body-guard; and now will I not be the liege-man of thee or of any other chief unless thou givest me thy word that such a thing shall never befall as that thou shouldst drive me away from thee.’ ¤ ‘From all that is told me of thee, Hallfrod,’ said the King, ‘thou art neither so wise nor so meek but that thou mightest not do a thing which I could in no wise suffer.’ ¤ ‘Slay me then,’ said Hallfrod. The King said, ‘Thou art a troublesome skald, but my man shalt thou be all the same.’ Hallfrod answered: ‘What wilt thou give me, King, as a name-gift if I am to be called “Troublous-Skald”?’ Then did the King give him a sword, but it had no scabbard; and the King said, ‘Make now a stave about the sword, & let “sword” be in every line.’ Hallfrod sang:
‘One sword alone of all swords
Hath made me now sword-wealthy;
For the swinger of swords
Will there now be swords in plenty.
95 No lack of swords will there be,—Worthy of three swords am I—
Lord of the land were but
The sheath of that sword to be mine.’
‘There is not sword in every line,’ quoth the King. Then answered Hallfrod: ‘But there are three in one line.’ ‘So be it,’ said the King. Then did the King give him the scabbard. Now from that which is told in the lays of Hallfrod have we much knowledge & testimony concerning King Olaf Tryggvason.
¶ That same autumn came back Thangbrand the priest from Iceland to King Olaf and related to him how that his journey had borne no fruit, ‘for,’ said he, ‘the Icelanders made lampoons about me and some wished to slay me, and to my mind it cannot be expected that that country will ever be made Christian.’ ¤ At these words King Olaf waxed so hasty and wrathful that he summoned to him forthwith all the Icelanders in the town, and commanded that self-same hour that they should all be slain; but Kiartan and Gissur and Hialti and those that were of them who had made profession of the faith of Christ entered into his presence & said: ‘We trow, O King, that thou wilt not go from thy word, for thou hast said that no man may make thee so wrathful but shall he have thy forgiveness an he will be baptized and abjure heathendom. Now will all the Icelanders who are here suffer themselves to be baptized, & we can well devise a means whereby Christianity may gain an entrance into Iceland. The sons of many mighty men of Iceland are here present, & their fathers will, we trow, lend their aid in this matter. But Thangbrand there, as here, ever went about masterful and manslaying, and the people there would not endure it of him.’ Now the King lent an ear to these speeches, and all the men of Iceland who were there were baptized.
¶ Of all men of Norway of whom record hath come down to us was King Olaf in every wise the one most skilful in manly 96 exercises; stronger was he & more active than any other man, and many are the tales that have been written on this matter. One of these recounts how that he climbed the Smalshorn, and made fast his shield on the topmost peak; and another is of how he brought succour to one of his own body-guard who had climbed aforehand up the mountain and was come into such a plight that he could neither get up nor down, so that the King helped him by going unto him & bearing him down under his arm to the level land. King Olaf would walk from oar to oar, on the outer side of the ship while his men were rowing the ‘Serpent’, and with such ease could he play with three daggers that one was ever in the air and always caught he it by the hilt; with either hand could he strike equally well, and two javelins could he throw at one time. Of all men was King Olaf the lightest-hearted & of a very merry disposition; kindly was he withal & lowly-hearted; very eager in all enterprises, great in his bounty, & the foremost among those who surrounded him. Above all others was he brave in battle, but very grim when he was angered, and on his foes laid he heavy penalties; some he with fire burned, some maimed he & caused to be cast down from high rocks. For these things was he beloved by his friends, but dreaded by his foes; his furtherance was manifold for the reason that some did his will from love and friendship, and others again from fear.
¶ Leif, the son of Eirik the Red, he that was the first to settle in Greenland, came even that summer over from that land unto Norway; and King Olaf sought he and from him accepted Christianity, & abode even with King Olaf the winter thereafter.
¶ Now it came to pass that Gudrod, he that was the son of Eirik Blood-axe and Gunnhild, had over in the lands to the west done whatsoever he listed and broken the laws of God and of man ever since that time when fled he from his own country before the face of Earl Hakon. But in this summer, 97 of the which somewhat has already been writ, even at the time when Olaf Tryggvason had held sway for four winters over Norway, came Gudrod to Norway with many ships of war, thither having sailed from England. When he deemed himself to be nigh to Norway, turned he his course southward along the coast where he bethought him that he might least chance to fall in with King Olaf and thus sailed he to Vik. ¤ Hardly was he come ashore than began he to plunder the people and bring them into subjection under himself, and of them demanded that they should take him as their King. And when the country-folk saw that a warlike host was come upon them craved they ever for grace and peace, & said to the King that they would send the summons for a Thing throughout the district, and were willing to submit to him rather than suffer at the hands of this his host, & it was agreed that there should be a truce even for so long a space as sat the Thing. Then did the King demand of them that they should provide provender for his men so long as they were waiting for the meeting of the Thing; but the yeomen chose rather that the King and his followers should be their guests for all the time he might need to be so, & the King agreed even to this, that should he travel that country through with some of the men that were with him and they the guests of the yeomen, ever the while others kept guard over his ships. But when the brothers-in-law of King Olaf, even the brothers Hyrning & Thorgeir learned of these happenings furnished they folk & gathered to themselves ships and sailed northward (west) in Vik, and by night were come to the place where lodged King Gudrod, & there fell they upon him and upon his men with fire and sword. So fell King Gudrod and the greater number of his men; while of those that abode on the ships were some slain but others escaped and fled far and wide. And this Gudrod was the last of all the sons of Eirik and Gunnhild; all were now dead.
¶ The winter after that King Olaf was come from Halogaland, 98 caused he to be built under the cliffs at Ladir a great ship: a ship far mightier than any other ship of that land, and the stocks whereon she was built are still to be seen. ¤ Of this ship was Thorberg the master-smith, but with him were many others at work, some felling trees, some shaping them, some hammering nails, & some carrying timber. All the material was of the choicest, and the ship was both long and broad, built with great beams, and the bulwarks thereof were high. Now when the outer sheathing was being put on, some errand of necessity carried Thorberg thence unto his homestead, and there he tarried a great while. ¤ When he came back the ship was fully sheathed, and the King went in the evening, and Thorberg with him, even to see how all things had been done; and men said never before had been seen a long-ship so big or so fine. ¤ Then went the King back even unto his town, but early on the morrow came he once more to his ship and Thorberg accompanied him, and they found that the smiths were gone forward, standing there, all of them, without working. The King asked wherefore were they doing nothing, & they made answer that the ship had been spoiled; that a man must have gone from stem to stern hacking her with an axe even the whole length of the gunwale. ¤ Then went the King and witnessed with his own eyes the truth thereof, and straightway said he, & sware thereon, that die should that man once the King wot whosoever he was who from envy had spoiled the ship, ‘but he who can tell me this thing shall have great reward.’ Then said Thorberg, ‘I can tell thee, King, who it is that hath wrought this.’ ‘I cannot indeed expect of another that he should so well as thee get to wot of this matter & tell me thereof.’ ‘I will tell thee, King,’ quoth he, ‘who hath done it: I did it.’ ¤ Then answered the King, ‘thou shalt make it good, so that all shall be as well as it was before; and thy life shall be on it.’ ¤ Thereafter went Thorberg to the ship and chopped the gunwale in such wise that all the notches were 99 pared away, and the King said then, and all the others likewise, that now the ship was even so goodlier by far on that side on which Thorberg had cut the notches. So then the King bade him fashion both sides alike, & gave him land even for so doing, and thus was Thorberg master-smith on the ship, even until she was finished. A dragon-ship was she & wrought after the same fashion as the ‘Serpent’ which the King had brought with him from Halogaland; but was the new ship much larger in all respects, built with the greater care, & called he her the ‘Long Serpent,’ and the other the ‘Short Serpent.’ On the ‘Long Serpent’ were there four-and-thirty benches of oars. Dight were her head and the crook all over with gold, and the bulwarks thereof were as high as on sea-faring ships. This was the ship which was ye best equipped, and the cost thereof was the most money of any ship that ever hath been built in Norway.
¶ Now after the death of Earl Hakon, did Earl Eirik Hakonson and his brothers, & many others of their kinsmen depart out of the country. ¤ Earl Eirik went east to Sweden, and he and his men were well received by King Olaf, the King of the Swedes, who bestowed sanctuary on the Earl and great grants withal, so that in the land could he well maintain himself and his men. Of this speaketh Thord Kolbeinson:
‘Foeman of robbers! Swiftly can fate effect change
Brief space ere the treason of men did Hakon to death,
And to the land that erewhile in fight had that warrior conquered
Came now the son of Tryggvi when fared he from the west.’
¶ From Norway passed many men over unto Earl Eirik, to wit, all those that King Olaf had caused to flee the land; and as the outcome thereof did Eirik think good to procure himself ships & to go plundering so that he might get wealth for himself and for his men. First sailed Eirik to Gotland, and lay off that island a long time in summer-tide & waylaid he viking 100 craft or merchant-ships even as they were sailing to land, and when he listed went he ashore and harried far and wide in the parts bordering on the sea. Thus in the Banda lay it is said:
‘In spear-storms many was the Earl thereafter victor:
And did we not learn aforetime
That Eirik won the land?
In those days when the chiefs on Gotland’s shores went warring,
Doughty, and peace-making by their might.
More in his mind had Eirik against lord and King
Than spoken word revealed,
As from him might be looked for.
Wrathfully sought the Earl counsel of the Swedish King,
Stubborn were the men of Throndhjem,
Ne’er a one would flee.’
¶ Later sailed Earl Eirik southward to Wendland, and there chanced he to fall in with some viking ships off Staur, and so joined he battle with them; to him was the victory and there were the vikings slain. Thus saith the Banda lay:
‘The steerer of the prow-steed
Let lie at Staur the heads of fallen warriors,
Thereafter joy of battle inflamed the Earl.
At the corses of the viking the ravens tore
After that dire meeting of swords
Nigh the sands of the shore.’
¶ Sailed thence Earl Eirik back to Sweden in the autumn and abode there a second winter; but in the spring made he ready his host and thereafter sailed eastward; & when he was come to the realm of King Valdamar fell he to plundering & slaying folk, burning whithersoever he went, and laying bare the land. Then coming to Aldeigiaborg§ laid he siege unto it even until he had taken it, and then put he there many folk to the sword and utterly destroyed the town, and thereafter spread he war far and wide in Garda. Thus saith the Banda lay:101
‘The chieftain fared forth to devastate with fire,
Yea and with sword (so waxed the sword-storm),
The lands of Valdamar.
Aldeigia brok’st thou, lord, when east thou cam’st to Garda
Well wot we how grim was the fight twixt the hosts.’
¶ For five summers together waged Earl Eirik this warfare, and when he left the realm of Garda he went fighting over the whole of Adalsysla & Eysysla;§ there took he four viking boats from Danish men and slew all that were on the ships. It is thus spoken of in the Banda lay:
‘I heard where the swinger of the sword did battle
Once more in the isle-sound.
Eirik wins the land;
The bounteous lord four viking boats from Dane-folk took
Doughty and peacemaking.
There where warriors hied to town, hadst thou, war-hero! strife with Goths.
Joy of battle filled the Earl thereafter.
The battle-shield he bore aloft to all the lands,
And gently fared he not, over the country he rules.’
¶ Then Eirik the Earl fared to Denmark when he had abode one winter in Sweden, and coming unto the Danish King Svein Two-beard, wooed he his daughter Gyda and this marriage was agreed upon. Accordingly Eirik took Gyda to wife and one winter later a son was born to them whom they called Hakon. ¤ Mainly abode Eirik the winters through in Denmark, but whiles also in Sweden, but in the summers sailed he the seas over even as became a viking.
¶ Svein Two-beard, the Danish King, had Gunnhild, the daughter of the Wendish King Burizlaf, to wife; and in the days whereof now is the record writ happed it that Queen Gunnhild fell sick and died;§ and a while thereafter wedded King Svein, Sigrid the Haughty, she that was daughter to Skogul-Tosti and mother to Oscar the Swede. ¤ And from 102 the marriage arose a friendship betwixt the brothers-in-law, and betwixt them and Earl Eirik Hakonson.
¶ Now the Wendish King Burizlaf did make complaint to his son-in-law, Earl Sigvaldi, because the pact had been broken which Sigvaldi had made between King Burizlaf and King Svein: to wit, that King Burizlaf should have Tyri Haraldsdottir, King Svein’s sister, to wife; for this marriage had never come about, inasmuch as Tyri had said shortly ‘Nay’ to wedding a heathen and an old man to boot. King Burizlaf now sent word unto the Earl that he would demand the fulfilment of the pact, & bade the Earl go to Denmark & bring Queen Tyri to him. ¤ Then did Earl Sigvaldi hie him on his journey, and laid he the matter before the Danish King; and by his fair words came he even so far that into his hands gave King Svein his sister Tyri. With her went certain women to bear her company & do her service, & her foster-father, whose name was Ozur Agason, a wealthy man; & sundry other men withal. It was agreed between the King & the Earl that Tyri should have the estates in Wendland which had belonged to Queen Gunnhild, and that she should be given other great lands in dowry. ¤ Tyri wept sorely and departed very much against her will; but natheless when she and the Earl were come to Wendland was she wedded, & so King Burizlaf had Queen Tyri to wife. ¤ But ever so long as she was among heathens would she take neither meat nor drink from them, and in this wise was it for a sennight. Then right so one night fled away Queen Tyri and Ozur in the darkness unto the forests; and of this their journey it is briefest to recount that they attained Denmark, but there durst Tyri by no means remain inasmuch as her brother King Svein would, an he knew where she lay, have sent her back again to Wendland. ¤ So faring ever by stealth went they to Norway, and Tyri made no stay until she was come to King Olaf, who made her welcome, and gave them high entertainment. To the King Tyri 103 told of her troubles, and begged counsel of him and sanctuary in his kingdom. Now Tyri had a smooth tongue in her head, and the King liked her converse well; moreover he saw that she was passing fair, & it entered into his mind that this would be a good marriage, and he turned the talking thereunto and asked her whether she would not have him to husband. But with her fortunes at the pass at which they now lay seemed it a hard thing to her to judge; yet on the other hand plainly 104 perceived she how good a marriage it would be to wed with so famous a King, and therefore entreated she him that he should make decision on the matter for her. Thereafter, when this thing had been duly discussed, took King Olaf Queen Tyri in wedlock; and they were abed in the autumn when King Olaf was come north from Halogaland. ¤ That winter abode King Olaf and Queen Tyri in Nidaros. ¤ Now in the spring-time thereafter oft-times did Tyri make plaint to King Olaf, and cried bitterly thereover, because albeit had she such great possessions in Wendland yet had she none in this country, and that she should have such deemed she but seemly for a Queen; & thinking that by fair words would she get her own prayed she him on this matter, and said that so great was the friendship between King Burizlaf & Olaf that even so soon as they should meet would the King give Olaf all he asked for. But when the friends to King Olaf came to know after what fashion was the manner of talking of Tyri with one consent gave they all counsel to him to refrain from such a course. One day early in the spring, so it is said, as the King was walking in the street came a man towards him from the market-place bearing many sticks of angelica, which same were wondrous big, seeing that it was early in the spring-tide. And the King took a large stick of angelica in his hand & went home therewith to the lodging of Queen Tyri. Now Tyri sat a-weeping in her hall even as the King came in, but he said to her: ‘Here is a great stalk of angelica for thee.’ Aside thrust Tyri it with her hand, and said: ‘Greater gifts gave Harald Gormson to me, but lesser feared he than thou dost to leave his land and seek his own, and the token thereof is that fared he hither to Norway and laid waste the greater part of this land and took to himself all taxes and dues; but durst thou not fare through the Danish realm for fear of my brother King Svein.’ Then up sprang King Olaf at these words, & called out loudly, and swore withal: ‘Never will I go in fear of thy brother King 105 Svein, and whensoever we meet shall he be the one to give way.’
¶ Not long after these things summoned King Olaf a Thing in the town, and made known to all the people that in the summer would he send an host out of the country, and that it was his will to levy ships & men from each county, & therewith 106 did he make it known how many ships he should require from the fjord there. ¤ Then sent he messengers inland both northwards and southwards, and along the coast on the outside of the islands and inside them along the land, and called men to arms. ¤ Thereafter did King Olaf launch the ‘Long Serpent’ & all his other ships great & small; and the ‘Long Serpent’ he himself steered, and when men were taken for a crew, with so much care was choice made that on the ‘Long Serpent’ was there no man older than sixty nor younger than twenty. All were chosen with the utmost care for their strength and courage, & the first taken were King Olaf’s body-guard, for composed it was of the stoutest & boldest men both from home and abroad.
¶ Wolf the Red was the name of the man who bore the banner of King Olaf, and his place was in the prow of the ‘Serpent’; there likewise were Kolbiorn the Marshal, Thorstein Ox-foot and Vikar of Tiundaland, the brother of Arnliot Gellini. Of the forecastle in the prow were Vak Raumason of the River, Bersi the Strong, On the Archer of Jamtaland, Thrond the Stout from Thelemark and Othyrmi his brother; and the Halogalanders Thrond Squint-eye, Ogmund Sande, Lodvir the Long, from Saltvik, and Harek the Keen. ¤ From Inner Throndhjem were there Ketil the Tall, Thorfin Eisli, and Havard and his brothers from Orkadal. Those manning the forehold were Biorn of Studla, Thorgrim Tiodolfson of Hvin, Asbiorn & Orm, Thord of Niardalang, Thorstein the White of OprostadAnor of More, Hallstein and Hawk from the Fjords, Eyvind Snak, Bergthor Bestil, Hallkel of Fialir, Olaf the Boy, Arnfin of Sogn, Sigurd Bild, Einar the Hordalander and Fin, Ketil the Rogalander, and Griotgard the Quick. In the main-hold were Einar Tamberskelfir, deemed by the others less able than they for then was he but eighteen winters old, Hallstein Hlifarson, Thorolf, Ivar Smetta, and Orm Skoganef. ¤ Many other men of valour were there on 107 the ‘Serpent’ though we cannot name them; eight were there to a half-berth, and chosen man by man. It was a common saying that the crew of the ‘Serpent’ was for goodliness, strength, and boldness, as much above other men as the ‘Serpent’ herself was above other ships. ¤ Thorkel Nefia, own brother to the King, steered the ‘Short Serpent,’ and Thorkel Dydril and Jostein, they that were uncles to him on the side of his mother, commanded the ‘Crane’; right well manned were these twain ships. Moreover had King Olaf eleven great ships from Throndhjem, ships of twenty benches, two smaller ships and victuallers.
¶ When King Olaf had completed the equipping of his fleet at Nidaros, appointed he men throughout the whole of the district of Throndhjem to be stewards collecting revenue, and annalists. He then sent to Iceland Gizur the White & Hialti Skeggison to convert that country to Christianity, and sent he with them that priest whose name is Thormod and other consecrated men, but kept back with him as hostages the four men of Iceland they that he deemed to be of greatest mark, to wit, Kiartan Olafson, Halldor Gudmundson, Kolbein Thordson and Sverting Runolfson; and it is said of the journey of Gizur & Hialti that they were come unto Iceland or ever the meeting of the Althing & were present at the Thing, and thereat was baptism legalized in Iceland and that summer all folk were brought into the true fold.
¶ The same spring likewise sent King Olaf Leif Eirikson to Greenland to convert the people, and fared he thither that summer. On the main found he the crew of a ship who were lying helpless on a wreck, and thereafter he discovered Vineland the Good,§ yet came he the same summer to Greenland; and with him had he a priest and teachers, and he took up his abode at Brattalid with his father Eirik. Thereafter did men call him Leif the Lucky; but Eirik, his father, said that the one thing was a set-off to the other: on the one hand was the 108 saving of the ship’s crew by Leif & on the other the bringing to Greenland of that ‘juggler,’ to wit, the priest.
¶ Then took King Olaf his host southward following the coast, and many of his friends flocked to him, mighty men, who were bravely furnished for an expedition with the King. The first man of these was own brother-in-law to himself, Erling Skialgson with his large ‘skeid’§ wherein were thirty benches, and right well manned was she withal. There came also to him his brothers-in-law Hyrning and Thorgeir, each steering a large ship. Many other mighty men accompanied him, so that when he left the country had he thirty long-ships. King Olaf sailed south through Eyrasund, off the coasts of Denmark, and in due course came he to Wendland. ¤ There appointed he a tryst with King Burizlaf, and the Kings met and spake together of the possessions claimed of King Olaf, and all the talk between them went in kindly wise and the claims whereof King Olaf deemed himself to have rights there were fully ordered. ¤ Abode he there a long while during the summer, and saw many of his friends.
¶ As hath been related ere this, King Svein Two-beard had wedded Sigrid the Haughty, & Sigrid was King Olaf’s greatest foe, the reason therefor being how King Olaf had broken his troth with her, as has been afore set in fair script, and how he had smote her on the face. ¤ Sigrid incited King Svein to do battle with King Olaf Tryggvason, saying pretext enough was it that he had wedded the own sister to Svein, she Tyri, without his leave: ‘And never would thy forefathers have suffered such a thing.’ Such words as these had Queen Sigrid ever on her lips, and so far went she with her persuasions that King Svein was full willing to do battle with Olaf. So early in spring-tide sent King Svein men east to Sweden, to Olaf the Swedish King, he that was his step-son, & to Earl Eirik, to tell them that Olaf King of Norway had his fleet abroad, and thought of faring to Wendland come summer; another 109 message took they likewise, namely that the Swedish King and the Earl should call out their hosts and go to meet King Svein, and that then altogether they should get their battle over against King Olaf. Now the King of Sweden and Eirik the Earl were ready and eager for this venture, so mustered they a large fleet in Sweden, and with the ships thereof went south to Denmark and came thither at the time when King Olaf had already sailed east. Of this speaketh Halldor in the song he made about Earl Eirik:
‘Crusher of Kings who battles loved,
From out of Sweden called,
To southern battle fared he forth,
Even with great hosts of men,
The wound-bird on the sea gat food while waiting,
Each and every warrior was fain to follow Eirik.’
¶ So the King of the Swedes and Earl Eirik shaped a course to meet the Danish King, and when all the fleets were come together was there a host greater than one man could number.
¶ When King Svein sent for that fleet, sent he moreover Earl Sigvaldi to Wendland to spy on the expedition of King Olaf, and to lay such a lure that King Svein and the others might assuredly fall in with King Olaf. ¤ So Earl Sigvaldi set forth and went to Wendland and Jomsborg, and met King Olaf Tryggvason. Now had they much friendly conversation one with the other, and the Earl came greatly to love the King, mainly on account of their former kinship, for Astrid, she that was wife unto the Earl, even the daughter of King Burizlaf, was very friendly with King Olaf, for the reason that the latter had had her sister Geira to wife. ¤ Now Sigvaldi was a wise man, & one ready at expedients, & when he and King Olaf took counsel together, found he many and divers pretexts for delaying the journey of the King to the westward; but the men of King Olaf murmured thereat and were loudly displeased, and longed much to get them hence home, for, said 110 they, ‘clear are we to sail & fair is the wind.’ Learned Sigvaldi now privily from Denmark that the King of the Danes and the King of the Swedes & Eirik the Earl were met together, and were even about to set sail to the eastward off the coast of Wendland; likewise that it had been convened betwixt them that they in wait for King Olaf should lie off that isle which is called Svold;§ & that moreover he, the Earl, was after some fashion to contrive that King Olaf be found of them.
¶ And now went about a rumour in Wendland that Svein, the King of the Danes, also had an host abroad, & soon tongues wagged to the tune that well would it like Svein, the King of the Danes, to meet with King Olaf; but said Earl Sigvaldi unto the King: ‘No plan is it of King Svein to attack thee with the Danish host alone, seeing how great an host of thine own thou hast; but if ye suspect that war may be at hand then will I and my men go with thee, and aforetime was it deemed good help when the Jomsborg vikings bore a chief company: I will go with thee even with eleven ships well-found.’ ¤ To this did the King answer yea, and because at that time was there blowing a gentle breeze but favourable, commanded he that the fleet should get under way, & that the horns be blown for their departing. Then the men hoisted sail; and the small ships were those that made the better way, & out to sea sailed they. Now kept the Earl close by the King’s ship, shouting to those on board, and bidding the King follow him: ‘Well wot I,’ he said, ‘which sounds are deepest betwixt the isles, & this be fraught with care seeing how big are thy ships.’ So sailed the Earl first with his ships, eleven ships had he, & sailed the King after him with his large ships, eleven likewise had he, but sailed all the rest of the fleet ahead and out to sea. Now it came to pass as Earl Sigvaldi was making Vold came rowing off a skiff, and those therein told unto the Earl how that the fleet of the King of the Danes lay in the haven even right over ahead of their way. ¤ So the Earl ordered sails to be lowered, 111 and rowed they in under that island. Thus saith Halldor the Unchristened:
‘With ships one more than seventy
Came the lord of Eynafylki from the south;
His sword he dyed in warfare
When the Earl the ships of Skani called out to battle.
Quickly then the peace was broken ‘twixt the men.’
¶ Now it will be marked that, according unto the bard, were the ships of King Olaf & Earl Sigvaldi seventy-one in number what time sailed they from the south.
¶ Now lying there were Svein, the King of the Danes, Olaf the King of the Swedes, and Earl Eirik, with all the might of their fleet, and fair weather was with them with bright sunshine. Went up to the islet all the chieftains with a large company of men, and spied they thence that a many ships were sailing together out at sea. ¤ And they beheld a large ship and brave sailing, and said both the Kings: ‘There goes a great ship, passing fair, none other can this be save only the “Long Serpent.”’ ¤ Then made Earl Eirik answer, saying: ‘That is not the “Long Serpent.”’ ¤ And it was as he opined, for this ship belonged to Eindrid of Gimsar. A while later saw they yet another ship sailing, much greater than the first, and then spake King Svein: ‘Afeard is Olaf Tryggvason, for he dareth not sail with the head upon his ship.’ Then said Earl Eirik: ‘That is not the King’s ship; that ship and the sail thereof know I, for the sail is a striped one; Erling Skialgson it is who hath command thereof. ¤ Let them sail on! Better is it for us that this ship should be lacking from Olaf’s fleet, so well appointed is it.’ A while later saw they and recognized the ships of Sigvaldi the Earl, and one of them also was great. ¤ Then spake King Svein and bade them go to their ships; for, said he, there sails the ‘Long Serpent’; but Earl Eirik called out, ‘Many more ships and fine ones have they besides the ‘Long Serpent,’ let us bide a while.’ ¤ Then many of the men fell to 112 talking, & they said: ‘Eirik the Earl will not fight to avenge his father. Shame, shame is it, & throughout all the land will it be heard, if we lie here with so great a fleet & let King Olaf sail out to sea on our very flank.’ But after they had been talking thus a while saw they that four more ships came sailing by, and one of these was a dragon, large indeed, and bedecked with gold. Then rose up King Svein and said: ‘High shall the “Serpent” carry me this eve; and I will steer her.’ Many of the men called out that the ‘Serpent’ was a mighty great ship and beautiful to look upon, and a glorious work had it been to build such a craft. ¤ Then Earl Eirik said so loud that sundry heard him: ‘E’en had King Olaf no larger ship than this, King Svein would with the Danish host alone never wrest it from him.’ Then went the men to their ships and took the tilts from off them; whilst the chiefs were talking among themselves of that which is writ above saw they sailing along three very large ships, and a fourth ship last of all, and that was the ‘Long Serpent.’ Now of those large ships which had sailed past before, and had been deemed by the men to be the ‘Long Serpent,’ the first was the ‘Crane’ and the last the ‘Short Serpent.’ But when they beheld the ‘Long Serpent,’ and none gainsaid this, then wotted all that now indeed was Olaf Tryggvason sailing by. Then went they to their ships, and made ready to row to the onset. Now a compact had been struck between the chiefs, King Svein, King Olaf, and Earl Eirik, that to each one of them should be given a third part of Norway if it befell that King Olaf was slain; moreover he who first boarded the ‘Long Serpent’ was for his own to have all the booty taken therefrom, and each of them was to have what ships he himself cleared. ¤ Earl Eirik had a very large long-ship which he was wont to use on his viking cruises; a beard was there on the higher part of both prow and stern, and thick plates of iron going from thence all the breadth of the beard right down to the water-line.
113 ¶ Now when Earl Sigvaldi & his men headed in towards the islet, observed closely Thorkel Dydril of the ‘Crane’ and the captains of the other ships sailing with him, what he was doing, and they too lowered sail, and rowing after him, called out to him to know why thus he was faring. ¤ The Earl answered that he was going to bide the coming of King Olaf, for most like did it seem that war was at hand. ¤ So then they likewise let their ships lie-to until such time as Thorkel Leira with the ‘Short Serpent’ was come up and with him too the three other ships which were following him, and the same tidings were told unto them; then they also lowered sail, laid-to and bided the coming of King Olaf. ¤ But when the King sailed out towards the isle, then rowed out into the sound the whole of the hostile fleet even for to meet him; and his men witnessing this same prayed the King sail his way, and not engage in battle with so large an host. ¤ But King Olaf stood up on the poop, and shouted with a loud voice: ‘Let no men of mine lower sail or think of fleeing; never have I fled in battle. May God look to my life, for never will I turn to flight.’ And it was done even as the King said. Thus saith Hallfrod:
‘Fain would I name those words,
Which Olaf’s warriors tell us
The lord deed-mighty spake there,
To his men before the battle.
The warlike King forbade
His champions to think of flight,
And how they live, the words the loved one of the people spoke.’
¶ So were sounded the horns for the assembling of the ships; and the King’s ship was in the midst of the fleet, with the ‘Short Serpent’ on one side and the ‘Crane’ on the other. Now when they were about to lash together the prow of the ‘Long Serpent’ and stern of the ‘Short Serpent,’ the King observed what was being done, and he cried out bidding them lay the 114 big ship more forward, & not let her be astern of all the ships in the fleet. Thereon answered Ulf the Red: ‘If we are to lay the “Serpent” as much longer ahead as she is longer than other ships hard will the day’s work be behind the gunwales.’ Said the King: ‘I knew not that I had a forecastle man who was both red and afraid,’ Ulf made answer back, ‘Turn not thou thy back there on the poop more than I turn mine when I guard the prow.’ ¤ Now the King had a bow in his hand, and placing an arrow on the string thereof he turned him towards Ulf; then cried Ulf, ‘Shoot another way, King, thither where it is needed more greatly; what I do, I do for thee.’
¶ King Olaf towered high on the poop of the ‘Serpent,’ and easy was it to know him from other men. ¤ A golden shield had he, and a gold-wrought helmet, & a short red kirtle over his shirt of mail. ¤ Now when King Olaf saw that the fleets were dividing and banners were being set up before the chiefs, asked he: ‘Who is the captain of that host which is right over against us?’ It was told him that it was King Svein Two-beard with the host of the Danes. Then answered he: ‘Afraid are we not of those blenchers, no heart is there in the Danes. But what chief is behind those banners yonder on our right?’ It was told him that there was King Olaf, with the Swedish host. ‘Better were it for the Swedes to stay at home and lick the blood from their bowls than to board the “Serpent” under thy weapons.’ ‘But whose are the ships lying out yonder on the larboard of the Danes?’ ‘They pertain,’ came the answer, ‘to Eirik Hakonson.’ Then answered King Olaf, ‘Good reason, methinketh, hath he to meet us, and from that fleet may we await the fiercest of fights, seeing that they too are of Norway even as we ourselves.’
¶ Thereafter separated the Kings one from another for the onset. King Svein laid his ship against the ‘Long Serpent’; and King Olaf the Swede lay-to farther out & grappled from the prow the outermost ship of King Olaf Tryggvason; and 115 over against the other side lay Earl Eirik. And even so there ensued a dire and strenuous conflict. Albeit did Sigvaldi, the Earl, let his ships fall astern and took he no part in the battle. Thus saith Skuli Thorsteinnson, he that himself was with Earl Eirik that day:
‘The Frisian wolf I followed
(And in my youth gat honour)
With Sigvaldi, there where the spears whistled
(Now wax I old);
When bloody swords we bore
There off the mouth of the Svold
In the south, in the battle-storm,
And met the hero of wars.’
And Hallfrod too saith of these tidings:
‘Methinks full much was missed
(Many to flight did turn them),
That chief who spurred the fight
Was among the men of Throndhjem.
The valiant King alone
’Gainst the two Kings did fight,
(Glorious to tell it now)
And for a third too the Earl.’
¶ The battle to them all waxed very fierce & bloody; the forecastle men of the ‘Long Serpent’ & the ‘Short Serpent’ and the ‘Crane’ threw anchors and grapplers on to the ships of King Svein, and thus could they attack them from above so that they cleared every ship unto which they could cling and thereto hold fast. King Svein and those of his company who could escape made what way they could to other of his ships and thereon drew thence out of bow-shot, and so it came to pass that it fared with this fleet even as King Olaf Tryggvason had foretold. ¤ Then Olaf, he that was King of the Swedes, brought his ships up into the self-same places left by those of Svein, but natheless hardly was he come nigh to the big 116 ships than it went with him the same as with the others; even so that lost he many men and some of his ships, and thereafter he too drew back. But Earl Eirik laid his bearded ship alongside the outermost ship of King Olaf & with fierceness cleared it, and straightway cut it adrift from its lashings; then went he alongside the one that was next, and with it fought until that too was cleared. Then fell the crews to escaping from the lesser ships on to those that were larger; but cut the Earl every ship from its lashings even as soon as it was cleared, & thereon came up once more from all sides Danes and Swedes into the battle over against the ships of King Olaf. Eirik the Earl lay ever alongside one or other ship fighting thus in hand to hand fight, and as the men fell on his ship, Danes and Swedes, other true men took their place. Thus saith Halldor:
‘Of sharp swords the brunt
O’er the “Long Serpent” went;
There golden spears did clash
And the men fought long,
In battle of foemen
Went forth to the south
Men of Sweden against him,
And Danish swordsmen doughty.’
¶ Then waxed the battle very fierce, and men fell thick and fast, and so at the end befell it that all the ships that pertained unto King Olaf were cleared save and except the ‘Long Serpent,’ & by that time all those of his folk who were still able to bear arms were come aboard of her. ¤ Then did Earl Eirik bring his bearded ship alongside the ‘Serpent’ and thereon ensued a fight with man at sword’s length from man. ¤ Thus saith Halldor:
‘Into so hard a trap fell now the “Long Serpent”
(The shields were cut asunder, together clashed the swords),
And when the axe-bearer laid his bearded ship high bulwarked beside the “Serpent,”
The Earl did victory win at Holm.’
¶ Earl Eirik took his stand in the forehold of his ship encompassed by a wall of shields, & his men fought both with trenchant arms, and by the thrusting of spears, and by the throwing of everything that could be used as a weapon, though some shot with the bow or threw javelins with the hand. From all sides had the war-ships been brought up around the ‘Serpent,’ and so great was the shower of weapons which fell on her, and so thickly flew the arrows and javelins from all sides, that men could but hardly ward off the missiles with their shields. The men that were with King Olaf had ere now waxed so furious that they had climbed up on to the bulwarks to the end that they might reach their foemen with their swords and slay them; but many of their foes would not come so nigh alongside the ‘Serpent’ that they could be beguiled into close combat, whereas a many of the folk of Olaf being unmindful that they were not fighting on a level field themselves fell overboard and so sank down together with their weapons. Thus saith Hallfrod:
‘From the “Serpent” sank they down, wounded in the fight;
Give way or flee they would not, resisting to the last.
Though glorious the King may be who steers the “Serpent”
Such men as these will long be lacking where’er she strideth.’
¶ It happened that in the narrow-hold of the “Serpent,” shooting with his bow and arrow more fiercely than any other man that was on the ship, stood Einar Tambarskelfir. Now it was against Earl Eirik that Einar had his direct venture, and struck he the top of the tiller-head, over above the head of the Earl, sending in his arrow with such force that it penetrated to the very binding of the shaft. ¤ The Earl looked at it, and asked if it was known who was shooting thus; then on the instant Einar shot another arrow which went so nigh unto the Earl that it passed betwixt his side and his arm, and so far through the staying-board that the barb stood out on the other side thereof. ¤ Then spake the Earl to that man whose name 118 some say was Fin, but as others have it was of Finnish§ kith and kin. ¤ Exceeding apt was he as an archer, so spake Eirik unto him saying: ‘Shoot thou yonder big man in the narrow-hold,’ & even as he said the words did the arrow of Fin strike the bow of Einar just as he was drawing it for the third time. Then was the bow broken in twain, & Olaf said, ‘What brake there so loudly?’ & Einar made answer: ‘Norway from thy hand, O King.’ ‘So great a breaking asunder hath not happened yet, I trow,’ quoth the King; ‘take my bow and shoot therewith,’ and saying so threw he him his own bow, and Einar taking it strained it even beyond the arrow-head. ‘Too weak,’ said he, ‘too weak is the prince’s bow,’ and throwing it back again to the King took he his shield and sword, and fell to hand-fighting.
¶ King Olaf being himself on the poop of the ‘Serpent,’ full oft that day shot with his bow, but upon occasion made he use of javelins, and ever threw two at once. Then as time wore on saw he, as his glance sped along the ship, that albeit his men swung ever their swords and smote full fast, yet nevertheless their swords were cutting but ill, and he cried out loudly to them: ‘Are ye wielding your swords carelessly since, as I see, they do not cut?’ One of the men made answer: ‘Our swords are blunt and very much notched.’ Then went the King down into the fore-hold, and setting up the lid of the high-seat took from out of the chest beneath many sharp swords and gave them out to his men, and when he thrust down his right arm into the chest it was seen that blood was running from under his mail-shirt, and no man at that hour wot in what part he had been wounded.
¶ Even the stoutest defence on the ‘Long Serpent,’ and that the most deadly, was put up by those stout men that were in the fore-hold and in the prow and stern, for truly were they picked men, and the bulwarks in those places were higher than in other parts of the ship. Even so soon as ever the men 119 amidships began to fall, and only a few of those about the mast were left standing on their feet, made Eirik an attempt to board the ‘Serpent,’ and up came he on to her, himself the fifteenth man. ¤ Then was it that Hyrning, he that was own brother-in-law of Olaf, set over against Eirik with a band of followers and the mightiest fight of all waged they then, and the end thereof was of such a fashion that had the Earl himself to draw back even unto his own ship; and of the men that adventured with him on to the ‘Serpent’ were some wounded and most others slain.
¶ And thereafter was there yet again a hard struggle, & many men fell on board the ‘Serpent’; & as the crew who held the defence of her began to thin tried Earl Eirik to board her for the second time, but again met he with valiant opposition. When the men on the ‘Serpent’ saw this went they aft and safeguarded the ship over against the Earl, & made a stubborn defence. But so many were the men who were fallen on the ‘Serpent’ that were the bulwarks perforce in many places empty, and the men of the Earl now came aboard her on every side; then were those men who were still standing to arms and having the guardianship of the ship forced to fall back aft, even unto the place where the King was standing. Thus saith Halldor the Unchristened, telling how Earl Eirik cheered on his men:
‘Astern across the thwarts shrank the men of Olaf
Valiant the lord cheers on his hot-headed followers,
When the warriors had closed all issue to the doughty King
The clash of weapons turned towards the Wend-slayer.’
¶ Now it came to pass that Kolbiorn the Marshal went up on to the poop even to the King, and greatly did they resemble one another in apparel and weapons; and Kolbiorn was also a right big and comely man. ¤ Yet once again ensued there a fight full fierce in the fore-hold, but because that there were now come up on to the ‘Serpent’ even as many men of the 120 Earl as the ship would hold, and seeing that his ships were lying on all sides around the ‘Serpent,’ & moreover few folk left on her for defence against so strong a host, fell the main of the men of Olaf very shortly thereafter, albeit were they men both strong and stout of heart. Then did King Olaf himself, and Kolbiorn, leap each on his own side. Now the men of the Earl had put out small boats & were busy slaying those that took to the sea, and when the King leapt overboard would they have taken him captive and brought him before Earl Eirik, had not King Olaf held up his shield above him and dived headlong into the deep. Kolbiorn, on the other part, thrust his shield under him and thus protected himself against the javelins which were being thrown up from the boats beneath, but he fell into the sea in such wise that his shield was beneath him & therefore could he in no wise dive so swiftly, & so was he taken & haled up into a boat. Then the foe deeming him to be the King brought him before the Earl, but when the Earl discovered that it was not King Olaf but Kolbiorn, gave he the latter quarter. At this moment did all they of the King’s folk who were still alive leap overboard from the ‘Serpent’; and Hallfrod saith that Thorkel Nefia, he that was brother to the King, leapt last of all overboard:
‘Stroke-doughty Thorkel saw the “Crane,”
Yea, and the “Serpents” twain floating deserted;
Boldly had he fought e’er the wearer of the arm-rings,
Stout-hearted in combat, into the sea plunged,
And by swimming saved his life.’
¶ Now hath it been afore fair written that Earl Sigvaldi joined forces with King Olaf in Wendland; ten ships had the Earl and withal an eleventh whereon Astrid, she that was daughter to the King and wife to Sigvaldi, had her men. ¤ When King Olaf leapt overboard all the hosts shouted cries of victory, and then did the Earl and his men unship their oars & row to the fight. Of this speaketh Halldor the Unchristened:121
‘From far and near the Wendmen’s craft
To battle hastened;
The lean sword-clashers
Clanged with iron mouths;
Din of swords at sea was there
(Wolves’ fare the eagle tore),
The lads’ dear leader strove
Ere many from him fled.’
¶ Now rowed away the Wendland cutter, whereon were Astrid’s men, back to Wendland, and straightway did many men say that King Olaf must have drawn off his shirt of mail in the water, dived down away from the long-ship, and thereafter swum even to the Wendland cutter and so been brought to shore by the folk of Astrid. ¤ And many are the tales which have been told by certain men of the journeyings of King Olaf; nevertheless in this wise speaketh Hallfrod:
‘I wot not whether he who stilled the raven’s hunger
Should of me be praised as of the living or the dead,
Since of a truth his men tell either tale
(Bootless of himself to question) though wounded was he surely.’
But howsoever this may have been, never more returned King Olaf Tryggvason to his realm of Norway; yet in this wise speaketh Hallfrod the Troublous-skald:
‘He who the tidings told that the lord was living
Had long for Tryggvi’s trusted son a fighter been.
’Tis said the King from out the steel-storm came;
Alas, ‘tis worse than this, methinks, for of truth all facts are lacking.’
And this again:
‘When the land-host with men in numbers towards the Holder’s
War-wont King did fare, it scarce could be (so heard I)
122 That the King belovéd could with life escape
(Folk seemed not truth to tell) from out the battle.
Some men e’en tell this skald that wounded is the King,
Though from the spear-storm saved and eastwards gone.
But tidings from the south now tell the slaying of the King
In the great fight (endure no more can I the wavering talk of men).’
¶ With the victory that he encompassed did Earl Eirik Hakonson gain even the ‘Long Serpent’ and much booty, and steered he the ‘Serpent’ far out of the battle. Thus said Halldor:
‘Thither the “Serpent” had borne him,
The helmeted chieftain, to the great sword-play,
(Then were the ships dight).
But south, in the din of the battle, gladly the Earl took the “Serpent”
(Heming’s high-born brother in blood did dye the swords).’
¶ Now Svein the son of Earl Hakon even at this time was betrothed to Holmfrid the daughter of Olaf King of Sweden. When Olaf the Swedish King, Svein the Danish King and Earl Eirik divided the realm of Norway between them, then had Olaf the Swedish King four counties, to wit, Throndhjem, the two Mores & Raumsdal; and eastward to him pertained Raumariki from the Gaut (Göta) river to Svinasund. ¤ This dominion did King Olaf make over to Earl Svein on the self-same conditions as the tribute paying kings or earls had held their lands aforetime from superior kings. Earl Eirik gat five counties in Throndhjem, also Halogaland and Naumdalen, the Fjords & Fialir, Sogn and Hardaland & Rogaland, and Agdir from the north right to Lidandesnes (the Naze). ¤ Thus saith Thord Kolbeinson:
‘I wist that save for Erling (bounteous chief whom I praise)
Erewhile the “hersirs” mostly were friends unto the earls;
The battle ended the land all southward from Agdir
123 To Veiga, or farther north, was subject made to Eirik.
Under the lord the land prospered; & this ’twas good should be.
His duty he thought it to hold o’er the northmen his hand.
Now hath died Svein the king south of us, so the tale goes
(The strength of most doth fail, and waste are his manors for grief).’
¶ Svein the King of the Danes was now once more the possessor of Vik, which had been his aforetime; to Earl Eirik he gave Raumariki and Hedemark, to be held as a fief. Svein Hakonson, he that was the finest man that men have ever looked on, received earldom from Olaf the Swede. Eirik and Earl Svein were alike baptized into and made profession of the true Faith, but even so long as they ruled over Norway gave they licence to every man that he should please himself about what creed he would cleave to, & moreover maintained they the old laws honourably and likewise all the customs of the land; therefore were they justly men who were well-beloved and good rulers. Now in all matters having concern in the ruling of the realm of the twain brothers was Earl Eirik ever the more prominent.125
T befell in the days of the fall of King Olaf that Harald, the son of Sigurd Sow, the stepbrother of King Olaf the Saint, bore his share in the great battle of Stiklastad. ¤ Even there it befell Harald that he was smote down, but he gained the life of his body by flight with others that bore him company. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Nigh the hill, a battle-storm
I heard drive toward the King,
But the burner of the Bulgars§
His brother well supported.
Unwillingly from fallen Olaf
Was the prince sundered,
And his head he hid;
Then was he twelve winters
With added three thereto in age.’
¶ It was Rognvald Brusason who bare Harald out of the battle, and brought him to a certain peasant who lived in the forest, and that in a glade far from the haunts of man; and here was Harald leeched until he was whole of his wound. ¤ Thereafter fared forth the son of that peasant eastward with him across the Kjol (Kiolen), & as far as they were able to do so followed they forest tracks in lieu of the common way. ¤ Now in no wise wist the son of the peasant with what manner of man he was faring, & as they were riding through the wastes of the forest sang Harald thus wise:
‘From forest now to forest
Wend I my way with honour scant;
Who wists but in the future
Wide fame may not be mine?’
¶ And thus fared he eastward through Jamtaland & Helsingland, and in due course was he come even to Sweden; there did he link his fortune with that of Rognvald Brusason and many others of the men of King Olaf that were yet alive after the mighty battle.127
¶ Now in the spring thereafter gat they ships for themselves and in the summer fared eastward to Garda, where abode they the winter through with King Jarizleif. ¤ Thus saith Bolverk:
‘The sword’s blade, King, thou dried’st
When thou fared’st from the strife.
To the raven gav’st thou to eat;
The wolf howled on the wooded heights.
But the year thereafter and thou wert
East in Gard, O doughty fighter,
Ne’er have I heard of a leader of hosts
More famed than thou wert.’
King Jarizleif made Harald & his men welcome right kindly, and even so became Harald captain of the land defence of the King & with him was joined Eilif, the son of Earl Rognvald. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Where Eilif was,
Alike they acted,
Those chieftains twain
In wedge-like phalanx.
Chased were the East Wends
Into a corner narrow,
Not easy for the Laesirs§
Was the law of the host.’
¶ Some winters abode Harald in the realm of Garda, & fared forth for the most part eastward; then went he a journey to Greece, and in his company was a mighty following, and at that time likewise went he to Miklagard (Constantinople). Saith Bolverk:
‘The chilly shower drave forward
The ship’s swart prows;
And barks all bravely armoured
Their sails bore by the coast-side.
The metal towers of Miklagard
128 The prince saw from the prows;
Fair-bosomed ships were borne
To the walls of the city.’
At that time there ruled over Greece Queen Zoe the Wealthy and with her Michael Katalaktus. ¤ When Harald was come even unto Miklagard in the hardiness that was of his blood enterprised he service of the Queen, and even so did the men that were with him. ¤ Forthwith that same autumn took he ship on certain galleys with warriors who were adventuring on to the Greek sea. ¤ In those days was one named Gyrgir§ chief of the hosts, and he was also a kinsman to the Queen. Now it came to pass that Harald had not abode longtime with the host ere the Vaerings§ became much drawn to him, so that he and they adventured all together in a body whensoever there was fighting, and the end thereof was that Harald was chosen captain of all the Vaerings. Gyrgir and his hosts coasted in all directions among the Greek islands, and greatly plundered the corsairs.
¶ Once it befell when they were faring overland, and were of a mind to pass the night in the woods, that the Vaerings were the first to come to the place where it was intended they should lie, and chose they for their tents even such position as was best and lay highest, for the country thereabout was boggy, and no sooner came the rain than was it ill living there over against where the land was low. Then came Gyrgir, & when he saw where the Vaerings had pitched their tents bade he them begone and pitch them in another place, since saith he, that he himself would have his tent even there. But thus spake Harald: ‘When ye are the first to come to the place for the camp then shall ye make choice of your place for the night, and it will behove us to pitch our tents elsewhere, even in whatever spot is open to us. So do ye now likewise; pitch ye your tents where ye will in any other spot that pertaineth. Methought was it the right of the Vaerings here in Greece to 129 be masters of their own matter & free in all things before all men, and that was it to the King and Queen only they owed obedience.’ ¤ On this bandied they words with so great heat that both sides fell to arming themselves, & right nigh came they to fighting, but ere that were the wisest men came up and they parted them. ¤ They said it was more in reason that these men should be of one mind on the matter, and a just decision made thereon betwixt them, so that never more might strife arise out of this cause. ¤ So then was agreed a meeting between them, & the best and wisest men were present thereat; and at that meeting was it counselled in such manner that all were of one mind, to wit, that lots should be borne in a cloth and cast between Greek and Vaering as to who should be the first to ride or row, or berth them in haven, or choose a spot for their tents; both of them henceforth to rest content with whatever the lot decreed. Thereafter was this done, and the lots were marked; then said Harald to Gyrgir; ‘Let me now see how thou markest thy lot, to the intent that we may not both mark them in the same fashion.’ ¤ So Harald looked and thereafter marked his lot and threw it into the cloth, and Gyrgir did likewise; but the man who was to draw the lot took up one between his fingers, and lifting his hand said: ‘These shall first ride and row and berth them in haven and choose them tent-places Then did Harald seize the lot with his hand and throw it out into the sea, and when he had so done he said: ‘That was our lot.’ ¤ Gyrgir said: ‘Why didst thou not let more men see it?’ ‘Look you,’ answered Harald, ‘on that lot which is left, & I wot well thereon will you know your own mark.’ ¤ Then looked they at the lot, and all knew the mark to be that of Gyrgir. ¤ So was it adjudged that the Vaerings should have the choice in all those matters about which there had been strife. Sundry things befell likewise on which saw they not eye to eye, but ever it ended in such a fashion that Harald had his way.130
¶ Plundering & pillaging whithersoever they went fared together both hosts during the summer, but when a battle was imminent would Harald cause his men to hold aloof therefrom, or at least over against that part where was the fight most open. ¤ Ever said he that he would take good care that he did not lose those that were of his company; but when a fight chanced and he with his men only were opposed to an enemy so fierce was he in battle that either must he win the day or die. For this reason oft-times it befell that when Harald was captain of the men the victory fell to him, whereas Gyrgir won naught. ¤ Now when the warriors saw how oft did this come to pass, said they one to the other that their cause would have better advancement an Harald were alone captain of the host; and blamed they the leader of the band, saying that he and his men were but bootless. To this Gyrgir made answer that the Vaerings would not yield him support, & bade them begone, whiles he fared with the rest of the host to be successful as far as in them lay. Even so, thereon went Harald from the host, and with him likewise the Vaerings and the Latin men, but Gyrgir kept the host of the Greeks. Then came to pass that which all had awaited, to wit, that Harald ever gained the victory & the plunder. Thereupon fared the Greeks home to Miklagard save only the young men who desired to win riches for themselves, and they gathered round Harald and took him for their leader. ¤ Then went he with his host westward to northern Africa, which the Vaerings called Serkland,§ and there he gained addition to his host. ¤ In Serkland won he eighty walled towns, some thereof surrendered to him, whereas others took he by might. ¤ Thereafter went he to Sikiley (Sicily). Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Towns ten times eight in Serkland,
Say I, then were taken,
The young hater of red-glowing gold
Rushed into the peril.
131 Before the fighter went to rouse
With clashing shields the Hilds,
Were they long the Serk-men’s foe,
On the plains of Sicily.’
Thus saith Illugi, the skald from Bryn:
‘Harald under Michael strove
For south-lands with his sword
The son of Budli, as ’twas said
Showed friendship by his fellowship.’[§]
¶ Now it came to pass that at this season was Michael King of Greece. ¤ Many winters abode he in Africa, and to himself acquired goods and chattels in plenty, gold likewise and all manner of precious things; but all the wealth which he took and thereof had not need for his maintenance sent he by his trusty men to Holmgard (Novgarod), to be bestowed into the hands and care of King Jarizleif. ¤ Exceeding wealth did he collect together there, as was like to be, forasmuch as he was pillaging in that part of the world the which is richest in gold and costly things. And so much did he accomplish withal that, as has been writ before, took he as many as eighty towns.
¶ And being come to Sikiley did Harald lay waste on that isle, and set he his host over against a large town in which were many people. ¤ So strong were the walls thereof that he feared it were doubtful an he could brake them down. Now the townsfolk had enough of victuals and other commodities which were required to withstand a siege, so hit Harald on the craft of bidding his fowlers to catch small birds, which had nests in the town & flew out during the day to seek food. On the backs of these birds caused he to be tied shavings of red pine-wood on which had he poured melted wax and brimstone; fire thereto was set, and the birds even so soon as they were loose, flew with one accord at once to the town with the intent to seek their young and to hie them to their own nests which were under the roofs. ¤ And these roofs were thatched 132 with reeds or straw. ¤ Then the fire from the birds spread to the eaves, and though each bird bore but a little burden of fire nevertheless in a brief space was kindled a great fire, for many birds bore fire to the roofs that were of the town. Thereafter there burned one house after the other until the town itself was all aflame, and all the people came out therefrom and begged for grace. ¤ Yea was this that same folk that for many a day had talked proudly and with mocking despite of the Greek host and the chief thereof. Harald gave quarter to all men who craved it, and thereafter held authority over this town.
¶ Another town was there to which Harald went with his host, & right well peopled was it and strong withal, so much so indeed that it could not be thought that he would be able to make assault thereon. Flat land and hard lay round about the walls thereof, so Harald set his men to dig a trench from the place whence a brook flowed, & that in a deep gulley wherein men from the town could not spy. ¤ The earth of the trench threw they out into the water and let the stream bear it away; and in this work they continued even both by night and by day with fresh shifts after a spell. ¤ After this fashion did the host advance on the town day by day; and the townsmen flocked to the battlements & both sides shot at one another, but by night did all betake themselves to sleep. ¤ Now when Harald wot that this hole that was in the earth was so long that it must have come under and past the walls of the town bade he his men arm themselves, & towards dawn went they into the trench, and when they came to the end thereof dug they up above their heads until they came to stones set in lime; and this was the floor of a stone hall. Anon they brake up the floor and ascended into the hall, and there sat many of the townsmen eating and drinking, and great was the mischance of these good men for they were taken unawares. The Vaerings went about with drawn swords, and straightway 133 killed some of them though others fled, to wit, those who could get out. ¤ Some of the Vaerings sought after these townsmen while others went to the gates to set them open, and by this way in marched the host that pertained unto Harald. ¤ Then did the townsfolk flee, though many prayed for mercy, and mercy did all receive who gave themselves up. ¤ In this way was it that Harald was possessed of the town, and therewith acquired exceeding wealth.
¶ The third town to which they came was the one that of all of the island had waxed largest and strongest, and to it pertained most importance both by reason of the wealth and the number within its walls. ¤ Even about this town lay great ditches, and the Vaerings marked that they could not win it by craft after such fashion as they had possessed themselves of the other towns aforesaid. And so it came to pass that long lay they before the town yet did they accomplish nothing, and the townsfolk seeing this waxed even bolder, and set up their array on the walls, & anon opened the gates of the town and called to the Vaerings, egging them on & bidding them enter; and they mocked at them for lack of boldness, averring that for fighting were they no better than so many hens. Harald bade his men behave themselves as though they wist not after what fashion were such things said: ‘Nought shall we accomplish,’ said he, ‘even if we storm the town; they will fling their weapons down under their feet upon us; and albeit an entrance we perchance effect with sundry of our folk, yet is the foe strong enough to shut them in, and shut the others out at their pleasure for they have put watches at all the gates of the town. ¤ No less mock will we make of them, however, and we will flaunt in their faces that we have no fear of them. Our men shall go forth on the plain as near the town as may be, having care nevertheless lest they come within bowshot, and weaponless must they go & hold sports one with another so that the townsfolk may wot that we care naught for their 134 array.’ ¤ After this fashion did they behave themselves for sundry days.
¶ Now of the Icelanders that were with Harald at this time is it recorded that Halldor the son of Snorri the Priest—he it was who took this chronicle back to his own land—and in the second place Ulf the son of Uspak, the son of Usvif the Wise, were the twain of them very strong & valiant men and much cherished of Harald. ¤ The pair were alike foremost in the sports on the plain. When things had thus happened for these sundry days, were the townsfolk minded to show even greater arrogance, & discarding their weapons mounted they up on to the walls and defiantly set open the gates of the town. Now the Vaerings seeing this betook themselves one day to their sports in such fashion that the swords that pertained to them were concealed beneath their cloaks and their helms beneath their hats. And after they had vied with one another awhile saw they that the townsfolk in no fashion entertained suspicion, thereon drawing their swords ran they forward to the gates. When the townsmen saw this advanced they bravely to meet them, standing fully armed, and thereon ensued a dire fight within the gates. ¤ To the Vaering folk pertained neither shield nor buckler, & in default thereof wrapped they their cloaks round their left arm; some were wounded, some killed, & all were hard pressed. ¤ Harald & the men with him who were in the camp hastened to their succour, but by then were the townsfolk come up on to the walls from whence they shot at & stoned those coming thitherwards. Yet more fierce grew the fight, & those within the gates bethought them help came at a slower gait than they could desire. Scarce was Harald come to the gates ere was slain his banner-bearer; then said he: ‘Halldor, do thou take up the banner!’ Halldor picked up the banner-staff, but he spoke unwisely: ‘Who will bear thy banner for thee when thou followest it so faint-heartedly as thou hast done now this while past?’ These 135 were words more of anger than of truth, for Harald stood the stoutest among men. Then hied they them into the gate, and great were the strokes given; but the outcome thereof was such wise that the victory was to Harald and he stormed the gates. Sore smote was Halldor, a deep wound gat he in the countenance, and to him was it a blemish all the days of his life.§
¶ The fourth town whereunto Harald was come together with his host was the stoutest of all those whereof we have yet told. So strong was it that they wist there was no hope that it could be taken by assault, and thereon beset they the town even by getting a ring around it so that no victuals could be taken therein. ¤ Now it chanced when Harald had been before it a while, fell he sick and betook himself to his bed; & he caused his tent be placed away from other tents so that he might have the ease that he should not hear the noise and disquiet of the host. Backwards & forwards to him oft fared his men, craving his counsel, and this was noted of the townsfolk who argued rightly that something had befallen the Vaerings, and thereon set they spies to discover what it might be. When the spies were come back even into the town brought they intelligence that the chief of the Vaerings lay sick, & for that cause had they not advanced on the town. As time waxed big grew the strength of Harald small, and his men became sorrowful and were heavy of heart. ¤ Now of all this had the townsfolk full knowledge. ¤ To such a pass came it that the sickness pressed Harald hard and his death was told throughout the whole host. Then went the Vaerings to speak with the townsmen, telling them of the death of their chief, & praying the priests to grant him a tomb in the town. ¤ Now when the townsfolk heard these tidings many were there, rulers of monasteries or of other big churches in the town, who wished much, each one of them, to have the body for his church, for well wotted each that it would bring them great offerings; so the whole 136 multitude of the priests clad themselves in their vestments and walked forth out of the town in procession well favoured and solemn, bearing shrines and holy relics. ¤ But made the Vaerings also a mighty funeral train; covered with a costly pall was the coffin borne aloft, and above this again were held many banners, & after the coffin in this wise had been borne in through the town-gates was it set down right athwart them in front of the opening thereof. Then did the Vaerings blow a war-blast from all their trumpets, & drew their swords, and the whole host of the Vaerings rushed out of their tents fully armed, and ran towards the town shouting and crying. The monks & other priests who had been walking in this funeral train vying with one another to be the foremost to go out and receive the offering, now vied twofold as speedily to be the farthest off, for the Vaerings slew every one who was nearest to them be he clerk or layman. After this fashion did they go about the whole of the town, putting the men to the sword and pillaging the churches, whence snatched they exceeding great wealth.
¶ Many summers fared Harald in warfare after this fashion alike in Serkland and Sikiley. ¤ Thereafter led he his host back to Miklagard, and abode there a short space ere set he again forth on a journey to Jorsalaheim (Palestine).§ There he left behind him all the gold he had gotten as payment from the Greek King, & the same did all the Vaerings who went on the journey with him. ¤ It is told that altogether Harald fought eighteen battles on these journeys. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘All men know that Harald
Eighteen battles grim hath fought,
Oft hath the peace of the chieftain been broken;
The gray eagle’s sharp claws
In blood didst thou dye, King,
Ever was the wolf filled ere thou fared’st homeward.’
¶ Harald with his men had now betaken themselves to Jorsalaland (Palestine) and thence to Jorsalaborg (Jerusalem), and whithersoever he went in Jorsalaland were all the towns and castles surrendered unto him; thus saith Stuf, who had himself heard the King recount these things:
‘The blade-bold smiting warrior
To subjection brought Jerusalem.
The smiling land was captive to him and the Greeks,
And by their might, unburned withal,
Came the country under the warrior’s dictate.’
¶ Here it is recounted that this land came unburned and unscathed into Harald’s power. Thereafter fared he to the Jordan and bathed himself therein, as is the way with other pilgrims. On the Sepulchre of the Lord, the Holy Cross, and other holy relics in Jorsalaland bestowed Harald great benefactions. Then did he make safe all the road to the Jordan, slaying robbers and other disturbers of the peace. Thus saith Stuf:
‘By counsel and wrathful words the King of the Agdir folk
Withstood on the banks of the Jordan the treason of men,
But for true trespass had folk to pay dearly;
Ill from the Prince suffered they.
(In Christ’s eternal house).’
¶ After these things fared he back to Miklagard.
¶ Now when Harald was returned to Miklagard from Jorsalaland was he minded to go to the north, even unto his own heritage; for it had come to his ears that the son of his brother, to wit, Magnus Olafson, was now King of Norway and of Denmark, and therefor gave he warning to quit his service with the King of Greece; but when Queen Zoe came to hear thereof waxed she very wrath & made dire complaint against Harald, averring that he had gone dishonestly to work with the wealth of the Greek King which had been taken in warfare what time Harald had been chief of the host. Now there was a damsel both young and fair, whose name was Maria, 138 and she was the daughter of the brother to Queen Zoe.[§] Afore had Harald sought the hand of this maid in marriage, and by the Queen had his suit been refused. It has been told here in the north by Vaerings, who were then serving in Miklagard, that among those who should wot well of the affair was it averred that Queen Zoe desired to have Harald for her own husband, & therein lay the cause of all that which befell when Harald desired to leave Miklagard, though mayhap otherwise was given out before all folk. At that time was Constantine Monomachus King of the Greeks, and together with Queen Zoe ruled he the kingdom. Wherefore was it on these counts that the King of the Greeks caused Harald to be seized and cast into prison.
¶ But as Harald was drawing nigh unto the prison there appeared unto him the holy King Olaf and bade him be of good cheer for that he would come to his aid; & there in the street was afterwards builded a chapel, and was it consecrated to King Olaf, & that chapel has stood there unto this very day.§ Now after such fashion was the prison builded that it had a high tower, & this was open at the top. Into the prison thereof was Harald thrown, and together with him were Halldor and Ulf. The night thereafter came a wealthy woman to the uppermost part of the prison, whither she had ascended by means of ladders, and with her were two serving-men and to either let they down a rope by which they drew the prisoners up. This woman had one time been healed by the holy King Olaf, and now had he appeared to her and laid upon her the injunction that she should release his brother from out of prison.Thereon hied Harald him to the Vaerings who with one accord rose to their feet when they beheld him, and acclaimed him welcome. ¤ Thereafter fell the whole of the host to arms and betook themselves to the place where the King was sleeping, and taking him captive thrust they out both his eyes. Thus saith Thorarin Skeggison in his lay:139
‘The bold prince gold obtained,
But the throned King of Greece gat blindness,
And thereafter went with scars most grievous.’
Thus likewise saith Thiodolf the Skald:
‘The waster of wolves’ sorrow
Let the eyes twain of the throned King be put out;
The prince of the Agdir folk on the Eastern King
Laid a grisly mark whereby was he horribly blinded.’
In the twain of these lays concerning Harald, & also in many other songs, recorded is it how that he himself put out the eyes of the Greek King; but in lieu of thus singing, had they known it to be truer, full well might they have named a duke or count or some other nobleman. But Harald himself and the other men that were with him themselves boasted of this deed.§
¶ That same night went Harald and his men to the chamber wherein Maria lay sleeping, & by force bare her away. Then betaking themselves to where their galleys rode took they twain of them and anon rowed into Siavidarsund,§ but when they were come thither found they that the iron chain was stretched right athwart the inlet, and so Harald commanded his men to fall to their oars on both the galleys, & those who were not rowing were all to run aft, and each one to have in his hand his own baggage-bag. ¤ In this fashion they ran the galleys on to the chain, and as soon as they were fast and the speed was stayed commanded he all his men to run forward. Then that galley whereon was Harald plunged forward, and after it had swayed on the chain slid from off it; but the other brake as it rode the chain, and many were drowned, albeit some were taken up out of the water. After this fashion did Harald escape from Miklagard, & thence fared he forth into the Black Sea. But ere he sailed from land he set the maid ashore, & gave her trusty followers to take her back to Miklagard; and he bade her ask her kinswoman Zoe how much 140 power she had over him, or if her power had been able to hinder him from getting the maiden. Thereafter sailed Harald northward to Ellipalta§ and thence fared all over the East-realm.§ On this journey made Harald certain merry verses which together number sixteen, & all have the same refrain: this is one of them:
‘Past Sicily, far out, forged the ship;
Proudly she strode and ably ’neath our feet
Never before had Norseman come so far amain,
Yet saith the Maid of the gold-rings in Garda that she scorns me.’
¶ By this, allusion made he to Ellisif, the daughter of King Jarizleif of Holmgard.
¶ When Harald was come to Holmgard did King Jarizleif receive him with exceeding great kindness, and there abode he the winter through; at that time, moreover, took he into his own keeping all the gold and various other precious goods which he had sent thither out of Miklagard. So much wealth was indeed collected together, that no one there in the north had seen so great an amount before in the ownership of one man. On three occasions[§] the while he was in Miklagard had Harald ta’en his share in the spoiling of palaces, for it was a law that every time a Greek King died the Vaerings should have palace-spoil; at that hour might they go through all the palaces of the King, wherein his hoards of wealth were garnered, and take at will as much as ever they could lay hands on.
¶ That winter gave King Jarizleif to Harald his daughter in wedlock, her name was Elizabeth but Norwegians called her Ellisif. To this Stuf the Blind is witness in the following:
‘The alliance that he wished
Gat the prince of the Agdirs;
Gold amain won the friend of the men,
And to boot the King’s daughter.’
¶ So it came to pass that ere long there arose some discord betwixt Magnus and Harald, and then were many men so evil-minded that they wrought bad blood betwixt the Kings.
¶ Now after the departure of Harald in the manner aforesaid, Svein Ulfson went on sleeping. Later made he close inquiry anent the journey of Harald; and when he came to know that Harald and Magnus had entered into covenant, and had now an host one with the other, steered he a course eastward alongside the coast of Skani and abode there with his host, until it came to his ears in wintertime that Magnus and Harald had fared northward even to Norway with their hosts. Thereupon shaped Svein a course southward (west) to Denmark, and that winter took he possession by force of all the dues of the King.
¶ So soon as the spring was come King Magnus and King Harald called out a muster from all Norway. ¤ Now it befell once upon a time that both the Kings were lying in the self-same haven, and the day thereafter Harald being the first to be ready sailed forthwith, and in the evening hove he to in the haven wherein he and Magnus had covenanted to lie that night; and brought he his ship into the King’s berth, and hoisted his tilts. ¤ King Magnus, he that had later in the day sailed forth, found also that haven, but when he was come perceived he that the men of Harald had by then gotten their tilts up; & saw he furthermore that Harald was lying in the berth of the King and that there was he minded to lie. Even so soon as his men had struck sail said King Magnus unto them: ‘Now shall my men take their places by the bulwarks and fall to their oars, and the others shall undo their weapons and arm themselves, and if Harald and his men gainsay us and will not make way, then will we fight them.’ When King Harald saw that King Magnus was minded to give battle spake he to his men and said: ‘Cut the hawsers and let us put off; wroth is now kinsman Magnus.’ So said so done; and the 142 ships of Harald were hove out of berth, and King Magnus put his ships into their place. ¤ When this had been accomplished went King Harald with sundry of his men up on to the ship of King Magnus, & the King greeted him well and bade him welcome. Then said King Harald: ‘I thought that we were come among friends; but just now I misdoubted that thou wouldst let this be the case; but true it is that children are petulent & I will not account it otherwise than that this was a childish deed.’ Then said King Magnus: ‘It was a kin-deed, not a child’s-deed; I can in good sooth remember what I gave and what I refused, but an it were allowed that this little matter were now done in our despite another would soon arise. In all things will we keep the covenant that we made, but thou on thy part must fulfil that which was agreed upon.’ Then said King Harald: ‘There is also an old custom which hath it that the wisest giveth way,’ & therewith went he back even to his own ship. In such like dealings betwixt the Kings was it difficult to hold the balance; the men to King Magnus swore even that he was in the right, but those who were dullards deemed that Harald had been slighted. ¤ The men that were of King Harald’s following said it were well and right that Magnus should have the berth had the two Kings come thither at the same time, but that King Harald could not be called upon to leave the berth wherein he were lying afore; and they declared that Harald had acted well and wisely, but those who wished to make the worst of things said that King Magnus desired to break the covenant, and that he had done King Harald wrong and injustice. ¤ Soon unwise men were talking so much about quarrels of this kind that discord arose between the Kings, and many things befell which the Kings took each after his own fashion albeit thereof is but little set down in writing.
¶ So King Magnus & King Harald brought their fleet down to Denmark, and when Svein heard thereof fled he away to 143 Skani. The two Kings abode long in Denmark that summer, and brought the land into subjection; the autumn to them was in Jutland. There one night, when King Magnus lay abed, dreamt he that he himself stood there where his father King Olaf the Saint abode, & thought he that his father spake with him: ‘Which wilt thou choose, my son, to fare with me, or become of all kings the mightiest & live long, but to commit sin so great that thou wilt scarcely or never be able to atone for it?’ And he bethought that he answered, ‘I desire that thou choosest for me.’ ¤ Then the King seemed to answer: ‘Thou shalt fare even with me.’ King Magnus told his men of this dream. A little while later fell he ill of a sickness, and lay at a place called Sudatorp,§ and when he was nigh unto death sent he his brother§ Thorir to Svein Ulfson bidding the latter afford Thorir what help he might need, and with this message King Magnus also made it known that when his days should be ended it was his wish to have Svein to have dominion over the realm of Denmark, saying that it was meet that Harald should rule over Norway and Svein over Denmark. Thereafter died King Magnus the Good, & all folk mourned his death. Thus saith Od Kikina-Skald:
‘Full many a tear did men shed
When the mild King was borne to the grave.
Heavy the burden for those that he had benefited with gold,
Sore were the hearts of the house carles,
Their tears held they not back,
And oft-times in sorrow now are his people down-cast.’
¶ When he heard these tidings summoned King Harald his host to a Thing, and opened unto them a scheme whereof the purport was to fare forth to the Vebiorg Thing, and cause himself there to be acclaimed King of Denmark. ¤ Thence would he conquer his country, for he accounted Denmark his own heritage in succession to his kinsman Magnus in like manner as with the kingdom of Norway. ¤ And for this purpose 144 bade he his men give him their assistance, for then, said he, the Norwegians would be masters of the Danes for all time. Then up and spake Einar Thamberskelfir, and said, rather was it his duty to convey his foster-son King Magnus to the grave and to the latter’s father King Olaf, than to fight in a foreign land, or to covet ye might and dominion of another King; therefore concluded he his speaking by saying that better he deemed it to follow King Magnus dead than any other king living. Afterwards caused he the corpse to be ta’en and laid out in solemn state so that all might see it arrayed on board the King’s own ship. Thereafter all the men of Throndhjem and the Norwegians made them ready to return home with the body of King Magnus & the war-host was disbanded. Then did King Harald perceive that by so much was it his wisest policy to fare back even unto Norway and first of all things to make that country his own, and thereafter wax in power. So Harald hied him thither with the whole of his host thus unto Norway, and even so soon as he was come thither held he a Thing of the men of the land, and caused himself to be acknowledged King over the whole country; he fared right from the east, from Vik, and was acclaimed King by every folkland in Norway.
¶ Einar Thamberskelfir journeyed to Norway with the corpse of King Magnus; with him fared all the host of the Throndhjem folk; & they took the body to Nidaros where it was buried in the chapel of Saint Clement wherein was then the shrine of the sainted King Olaf. ¤ King Magnus had been of middle height, with a countenance ruddy and frank, fair-haired was he, and eloquent; quick to think, strong to decide, bounteous to give; withal a mighty man of war and very valiant to boot; of all Kings was he the most beloved, & praised was he alike by friend and foe.
¶ That autumn also was Svein Ulfson in Skani & was minded to fare eastward to the realm of Sweden; moreover thought 145 he that he would lay down the title of King which he had taken to himself in Denmark. Peradventure as he was mounting his horse rode certain men up to him & told unto him the tidings that King Magnus was dead, and how that all the host of Norway had quitted clean from Denmark. ¤ To this made Svein hasty answer & said: ‘I call God to witness that never hereafter will I flee the realm of Denmark even so long as I live.’ Therewithal mounted he his horse & rode southwards in Skani, & to him were forthwith many folk gathered. That winter conquered he the whole of Denmark, & all the Danes took him for their King. Thorir, the brother of King Magnus, came to Svein with the message of King Magnus, as has been afore writ, & Svein received Thorir with good countenance; tarried he long with Svein and it was well with him.
¶ After the death of King Magnus Olafson, had King Harald Sigurdson possession of the whole realm of Norway. ¤ And when he had ruled over Norway for one winter, & the spring was again incomen mustered he men from out of all the land, one half of the general host in men & ships, & thence sailed south to Jutland where he harried & burned even very widely; that same summer hove he to in Godnarfjord. At that time made King Harald this verse:
‘While the linen-white woman
Her song chants to her goodman,
The anchor of the oaken ship
We drop in Godnarfjord.’
Then spake he to Thiodolf, and bade him add thereunto; and he sang:
‘Next summer (foretell I)
The anchor more southward
Shall hold the ship with its fluke;
Deeper shall we cast it.’
And Bolverk in his lay mentions that Harald fared to Denmark the summer following on King Magnus’s death:146
‘From that fair land the year thereafter
A muster called’st thou out;
When thou ploughed’st the seas
With sea-steeds full splendid.
On darksome billow lay
The dragons precious, and uneasy
The host thereof saw off land laden were the war-ships of the Danes.’
¶ It was at that time that they burned the homestead of Thorkel Geyser. He was a great chief, natheless were his daughters led bounden to the ships: the winter before had they shown themselves very scornful of Harald & had made mock of his war cruise to Denmark, & from cheese had they cut out anchors and said that most like these would well suffice to hold the ships of the King of Norway. Then was this chanted:
‘Now from their whey cheeses cut
The maids of Denmark rings for anchors,
And this gibe annoyance gave the King.
Now see I maidens many in the morn
Reach the King’s ships in fetters heavy:
Fewer laugh now.’
¶ It is related that the look-out man who had observed the fleet of King Harald’s cried out to the daughters of Thorkel Geyser, ‘Ye Geyser daughters said that Harald would never come to Denmark.’ Quoth one of them, ‘That was yesterday.’
¶ At a very high price did Thorkel ransom his daughters. Thus saith Grani:
‘Of tears her eyes
Were never dry;
This wrong-headed woman
In the thick Horn-woods.
The lord of Norway the fleeing
Foe to the shore drave;
For his daughters wealth amain
Had to pay their father.’
¶ The whole of the summer did King Harald harry in the realm of the Danes & gat to himself much plunder, natheless did he not there abide but fared he back to Norway in the autumn, and there tarried the winter through.
¶ That same winter, which was even that one after the death of King Magnus, did King Harald take to wife Thora, the daughter of Thorberg Arnason. To them were born two sons, the elder of whom was Magnus, the younger Olaf. ¤ King Harald and Queen Ellisif had two daughters; one of these was named Maria, and the other Ingigerd. When that following spring was come, and of that spring have we writ afore, did King Harald muster his host and again fared forth to Denmark in the summer & harried there, & the same did he now one summer after the other. Thus saith Stuf the Skald:
‘Falster was wasted, and to its folk
Mischance befell (so I heard).
The raven his fill ate,
But rapine feared the Danes each year.’
¶ Ever since the death of King Magnus had King Svein ruled the whole of the Danish realm; remained he at peace during the winters, but by summer went he out with his host & did threaten to journey north with the Danish host, and there do no less harm than Harald had done in Denmark. In the winter King Svein offered to meet King Harald in the River, and there fight together to the last, or else come to agreement; and thereafter, during that winter, were both one and other of them busied arming their ships, so that in the summer to come might one half of the general host be abroad. ¤ It was in that summer that there came from Iceland Thorleik Svein Ulfson; he had heard to wit, when he was north in Norway, that King Harald had fared south to the River against King Svein. Then did Thorleik chant this:
‘’Tis awaited that in spear-storm
On the sea-king’s path
148 The doughty men of inner Throndhjem
Will meet the hardy King.
God only can bring it to pass
That one of them there taketh
Life or land of the other;
Little wots Svein of concord.’
And furthermore he chanted this:
‘Harald the harsh who beareth
Oft a red shield off the land,
Is guiding on Budli’s ways§
The broad long-ships from the north.
But southward o’er the seas,
Doth come the warlike Svein
In animals gold-mouthed, masted,
And painted in colours fair.’
¶ To the appointed trysting-place came King Harald with his host, and there heard that King Svein was to the south and lying off Zealand with his fleet. Then did King Harald part his host, sending the greater number of the peasant-host back, but retaining to himself his body-guard & friends and feudatories, also that part of the peasant-host which had been mustered nighest to the Danes. ¤ They fared south (west) to Jutland, southward of Vendilskagi, & thereafter still south past Thioda, & went everywhere with the war-shield aloft. Thus saith Stuf the Skald:
‘Fled Thioda folk from meeting with the King,
Bold was he the stately dealer of blows.
Harald’s soul in Heaven.’§
¶ They fared southward all the way to Heidaby, and when they were come thither seized they that town and burned it. Then a man that was thrall to King Harald wrought this:
‘Burnt from one end to another
Was the whole of Heidaby;
Ruthless treatment this, methinks;
149 Our work, I trow, arouses grief in Svein.
In the town spent I last night:
Ere the eighth hour the flames shot up from the houses.’
¶ Likewise Thorleik telleth in his poem that he heard that no battle befell at the River:
‘Among the King’s followers
Each asks who doth not wot it
How ’twas that the prince avenger
To Heidaby did hie him,
When Harald from the east with ships
Sped early, without reason,
To the royal town. In sooth
Destruction ne’er should have been done.’
¶ After this fared Harald northward and with him had he sixty ships, the greater number were large & well laden with what plunder had been taken in the summer. But as they were faring northward and past Thioda came down King Svein from the land with a large host; & he proffered King Harald to come ashore & do battle. Now King Harald had less than half as many men as Svein and so he bade Svein fight with him at sea. Thus saith Thorleik the Fair:
‘Svein, even he who was born to success in Midgard,
Called on the mighty King in fight on land to meet him;
But Harald shy of failing would liefer fight, quoth he,
Aboardship, since the bold King held the land.’
¶ Thereafter sailed Harald northward past Vendilskagi; but the wind was against them & they brought-to under Lesey where they remained the night. Then were the ships encompassed with a thick sea-fog, but when it was morning, & the sun rose, beheld they on the other side of the sea what seemed to them like burning fires. And King Harald being informed thereof gazed thereat, & said straightway: ‘Strike the ships’ tilts, and let the men fall to their oars. The Danish host hath come after us. The darkness hath lifted, I ween, there where 150 they are, and the sun is shining on their dragon-heads the which are overlaid with gold.’ And it was even as Harald said for behold there was come Svein, the Danish King, with a mighty host. ¤ Both the fleets now rowed with all speed, but the Danish ships were lighter under oars, the Norwegian ships being both water-logged and heavy laden. So the Danes drew on apace. ¤ Then did Harald perceive that this would never serve his purpose. Now his dragon was faring astern of all his other ships, and he commanded that some timber should be thrown overboard and apparel with other wares be placed thereon, and as the water was calm these things drifted with the current. ¤ When the Danes saw these goods drifting along on the sea those who were rowing ahead swerved aside after them, for they deemed it easier to take the goods as they were floating loose on the water than to seek them on board the Norwegian ships, and in this manner did their ships linger. When King Svein overtook them in his ship bade he them proceed, and said shame was it that with an host as large as his they could not take the Norwegians, to whom was but few men, and get the fellows into their power. ¤ Then began the Danes to row the harder again, and when King Harald saw that they were making way bade he his men lighten their ships by throwing overboard malt and wheat and swine-flesh, even to chopping open their kegs of drink, and for a while these aids availed them well. Then did King Harald command that the war-hurdles should be taken, also casks, and empty barrels, and be cast overboard and on them and in them were placed prisoners of war. ¤ Now when King Svein saw all of these floating together on the sea he ordered that the men should be rescued, and accordingly was this done. While his men were occupied in this their task, grew greater the distance between the fleets, and when the Danes were again about the chase had the Norwegians already made good their escape. Thus saith Thorleik the Fair:151
‘I heard tell in what manner Svein
The eastmen put to flight at sea,
How the other King quick-minded gat him gone;
All the plunder of the Thrond-folk’s King
On the Jutland sea was floating;
And sundry ships lost he withal.’
¶ Under Lesey, did King Svein withdraw his fleet, and there found he seven Norwegian ships, but aboard them were only peasants and men who had been mustered for war. ¤ When King Svein took them begged they for quarter and offered money in ransom. Thus saith Thorleik the Fair:
‘For grace did Harald’s friends stout-hearted
Pray the King, and they few laid down their arms;
The peasants ready-witted refused to fight thereafter,
Speaking because their lives out they wished to live.’
¶ Anent King Harald be it said that he was masterful and a strong ruler in his own land, a very sage man withal, & it be common talk that there was never a chief in the Northlands so wise or ready in resource as he. ¤ A great warrior also, and very valiant, stronger, & defter with weapons than any other man; but all this have we recorded before. ¤ Nevertheless the greater number of his doughty deeds go unrecorded, and this in part by reason of our lack of knowledge thereof, & in part by reason that we will not put in books tales for which there is no witness, even though in our hearing have such things been told. It beseemeth us better that something may be added hereafter than that much should need to be taken herefrom. About King Harald are many tales set forth in lays which the Icelandic men made to him or to his sons, & for this reason was he a firm friend to them. A firm friend also was he to all our countrymen, and once when there was a great famine in Iceland permitted King Harald four of his ships to carry meal to that island, and decreed that six bushels thereof should not cost more than a hundred ells of homespun; furthermore allowed 152 he those that were stricken by poverty to leave if so be that they could find themselves in victuals the voyage thro’ over to the main, and by these means was the land saved and the harvest thereof bettered. ¤ King Harald set up a bell for the church which was builded with timber sent hither by the sainted King Olaf, and raised on a site nigh by where the Althing takes place. Such memories have we here of King Harald & of many other great gifts which he granted to men that sought them. ¤ Halldor Snorrason and Ulf Uspakson, whereof we have afore wrote, hied them to Norway even into the service of King Harald. ¤ In manifold parts were they opposite one from the other. Halldor was very big & strong and handsome, and King Harald bore witness regarding him that he was among those of his men who altered least in unawaited circumstances: whether such might be peril or tidings of joy, or through things that might occur when danger was toward; never was he more pleased nor less pleased, never did he sleep more nor less; nor took meat & drink otherwise than as was his wont. Halldor was a silent man & harsh, speaking bluntly, also was he stubborn and unmeek; and this was not to the liking of the King since he had many other bold and willing men. ¤ Halldor abode with the King but a short time and then fared back to Iceland, and made to himself a home at Hiardarholt, abiding there till he was aged and become an old man.
¶ In great love dwelt Ulf Uspakson with King Harald; a very wise man was he, eloquent, strong, large-hearted, & resourceful. King Harald created him his marshal and gave him in wedlock Jorun the daughter of Thorberg whose daughter, to wit Thora, was wife to King Harald. The children of Ulf and Jorun were Joan the Strong of Rasvold, & Brigida, the mother of Sheep-Wolf, who was the father of Peter Burden-Swain§ who again was the father of Ulf Fly and of the other brothers and sisters of this latter. The son of Joan the Strong 153 was Erling, he that was the father of Archbishop Eystein and his brothers. ¤ King Harald gave Ulf the Marshal the rights of a feudatory and a grant of twelve marks with more than half a folkland in Throndhjem; this according to Stein Herdison in the lay of Ulf.
¶ Now it came to pass that King Magnus Olafson had caused the church of Saint Olaf§ to be builded in Nidaros on the self-same spot whereon his father’s body had rested for a night, and this spot was then above the town; there too builded he the King’s-House. ¤ The church was not finished when the King died. Harald completed that which was lacking to the church, and in the yard thereof laid he the foundation of a stone hall, but this was not ready before he set to work to build the church of Saint Mary up on the sand-bank, nigh the spot where the holy body of the King lay buried that first winter after his death. ¤ It was a great minster and so firmly was it builded with lime that it scarce could be broken when Archbishop Eystein had it pulled down. ¤ In the church of Saint Olaf were preserved relics of King Olafwhiles the church of St. Mary was abuilding. ¤ King Harald builded a King’s-House below the church of Mary, by the river, where it now stands; & the hall which he had builded before, dedicated he to the church of Saint Gregory.§
¶ A certain man there was named Ivar the White, who was a bold feudatory; his seat lay in the Uplands, and himself was a grandson of Earl Hakon the Great. In appearance was Ivar exceeding comely. The son of Ivar was named Hakon, and it hath been said of him that he surpassed all the men in Norway at that time for strength and courage & ability; he was much in warfare in his youth & made great advancement for himself, and later was he a very famous man.
¶ Einar Thamberskelfir was the most powerful of the feudatories in Throndhjem; little friendship throve there betwixt himself & Harald, natheless retained he the land-dues which 154 had pertained to him during the lifetime of Magnus. ¤ Einar was an exceedingly wealthy man; he was wedded to Bergliot daughter of Earl Hakon, as hath been writ before. Eindrid, their son, was now full-grown, and had to wife Sigrid the daughter of Ketil Calf and of Gunhild, the niece of King Harald through her mother. ¤ Eindrid inherited fairness and beauty from the kindred of his mother, to wit, Earl Hakon and his sons; and from his father, Einar, gat he height and strength and the craft which Einar had above all other men; a very hearty man was Eindrid withal.
¶ Orm was the name of a certain Earl in the Uplands, and his mother was Ragnhild the daughter of Earl Hakon the Great. This Orm was a very excellent man. ¤ In those days Aslak Erlingson lived eastward at Soli in Jadar; he had to wife Sigrid the daughter of Earl Svein Hakonson. ¤ Gunhild, another daughter to Earl Svein, was wedded to the Danish King Svein Ulfson. This anent the offspring in Norway of Earl Hakon at that time, and moreover anent many other bold men; all of the line of Earl Hakon were more comely than other folk and the most of them were very able men, but all were brave.
¶ King Harald loved power, & this grew according as he took root in the land; to so great an extent did it wax that in the case of most men it bootless was to speak against him, or to bring forward other matters than those which were to his mind. Thus saith Thiodolf the Skald:
‘The men of the war-wont chieftain
All humble have to sit or stand
There in such place as the stern king desireth;
Before the filler of ravens bend many men,
And few there are indeed who will not do in all things
Whate’er the King may bid.’
¶ Ever was Einar Thamberskelfir the chief leader of the Throndhjem peasantry, and their spokesman at the Thing when the King proceeded against them. Well acquainted was 155 he with the laws; nor, with all the peasantry at his back, was he lacking in boldness to carry through his cause at the Things, even though the King himself might be present. ¤ Now this made the King exceeding wroth, and at last were matters at such a pass that they disputed together with contentious words, Einar swearing that the peasants would not brook the lawlessness of the King if he should break the common law of the land. After this fashion did they fall out on sundry occasions. Then Einar started to have many men round him when he was at home, and many more when he came to town and the King was present. On one occasion when he fared in to town had he with him many folk, eight or nine long-ships, and nigh upon five hundred men;§ and coming to town he went ashore with this fellowship, and King Harald who by hap was in the outer gallery of his house, stood and looked on as the men to Einar flocked up from their ships, and it is said that Harald thereupon chanted this:
‘Here see I speeding up
With his great following
Yea, he who cleaveth the waves.
That lord full strong is minded
A princely throne to fill;
At the heels of an earl
House-carles but few will follow.
He who the sword makes red
Will beguile us of our land
If Einar kisseth not
The thin mouth of the axe.’
¶ Some days that while tarried Einar in the town. ¤ Now it came to pass that one day a folk-mote was held, for it had befallen that a thief had been taken in the town, and it was at this mote that he was to be brought to trial, & the King himself was present. ¤ Aforetime had the man been in the service 156 of Einar who had favoured him more than a little. Now of this matter was Einar told, and deemed he that the King would not be the more prone to liberate the man because he, Einar, set store by him, so accordingly bade he his men arm themselves and in force to proceed to the mote, and then took Einar the man away by dint of sheer strength. ¤ Thereafter mediated the friends of either in the matter, & the end thereof came that it was agreed that a tryst should be appointed and that the King & Einar should meet one another. There was a council-chamber in the King’s-House down by the river,§ and into this chamber entered the King and with him therein were but few men; the others left he standing without in the courtyard. Now the King had had a shutter placed over the smoke-hole, & there was but a little opening. Then did Einar come into the courtyard with his men, and said he to his son Eindrid: ‘Remain thou out here with the men, and then will there be no danger for me.’ ¤ Wherefore did Eindrid take up his station without the door of the council-chamber. ¤ Now when Einar was entered into this room said he: ‘Dark is it in the King’s council-chamber,’ and even at that moment fell men upon him and some stabbed him & some hewed at him, and when Eindrid heard the tumult drew he his sword and rushed into the chamber whereon forthwith was he felled beside his father. ¤ Then did the King’s men run towards the chamber and before the door thereof, but the peasants were all at a loss because now to them pertained no leader; yet did they urge one another on saying that it were shame not to avenge their chief, but for all that did they naught, & made no essay to fight. Then went the King out to his men, set them in array, & caused his banner to be unfurled, but made he no onset & thereafter bade he all his men go out to his ship, then rowed they down the river and so out on the fjord. ¤ Now apace was brought the intelligence of the death of Eindrid to Bergliot his wife for she was in the lodging that she and 157 Einar inhabited in the town. Thence went she up unto the King’s-House where was gathered the peasant host and them incited she to fight inasmuch as in her lay, but at that same moment rowed the King down the river, then quoth Bergliot: ‘Now lack we my kinsman Hakon Ivarson; ne’er would the murderers of Eindrid be rowing there adown the river were Hakon on its banks.’ ¤ Thereafter caused Bergliot the bodies of Einar & Eindrid be laid out, and they were buried in the church of Saint Olaf hard by the tomb of King Magnus Olafson. ¤ After the fall of Einar became King Harald so greatly 158 hated for his share in that foul deed, that the feudatories and peasants only held back from fighting with him because to them pertained no leader to raise the banner for them.
¶ Now dwelling at Austrat in Iriar was Fin Arnison, feudatory of King Harald. ¤ Fin was married with Bergliot, the daughter of Halfdan the son of Sigurd Sow, & Halfdan was the brother of King Olaf and King Harald. ¤ Thora, wife to King Harald, was the daughter of the brother of Fin Arnison; sworn friends to the King were Fin and his brethren. Certain summers had Fin been in viking warfare westward and on those quests he & Guthorm Gunhildson§ & Hakon Ivarson had sailed in company. So fared King Harald down the Throndhjem fjord and out to Austrat, where he was well received, and thereafter communed they together, Fin and he, & took counsel one with the other as to the outcome concerning what had but then befallen, to wit the slaying of Einar and his son, and then of that murmuring and turmoil the which the Throndhjem folk were raising over against the King. ¤ Fin answered hastily: ‘Wrong art thou on every count; whatsoever thou doest thou doest ill & thereafter art thou so afeared that thou knowest no whither to turn.’ ¤ The King rejoined laughing: ‘Kinsman-in-law, I will send thee in to town & thou shalt make it up betwixt the peasants and me; & if that business cometh to naught then shalt thou fare to the Uplands, & good feeling again cause with Ivar Hakonson & so bring it about that he goeth not to war against me.’ Fin answered: ‘What will be my reward an I go on this fool’s errand, for alike Throndhjem folk and Upland folk are so hostile to thee that no messenger of thine could fare to them save at his own risk.’ ¤ The King answered: ‘Go thou on this errand, kinsman-in-law, for well wot I an any man could bring us to a reconciliation it would be thee, & ask thyself of us what boon thou wilt have therefor.’ ¤ ‘Keep thou thy word, and I will choose the boon; I choose peace for my brother Calf and 159 removal of his outlawry, and the restoring unto him of all his possessions; and furthermore I ask that he shall have all his appointments and all the power that he had or ever he left the land.’ ¤ And the King said yea to all whatever Fin asked of him, & they twain before witnesses took one another by the hand thereon. Thereafter said Fin: ‘But what am I to proffer Hakon so that he may promise thee peace, for he it is who hath the upper hand of those kinsmen’? The King said: ‘First shalt thou find out what Hakon is like to demand so that reconciliation may be brought about, and thereafter must thou forward my cause as best thou canst; but should the worst come to the worst, then deny him nothing save & except the kingship itself.’
¶ Then went King Harald southward to More where mustered he men, and a great number was gathered unto him.
¶ So Fin Arnison fared into the town & took with him his house-carles to the number of some eighty men, and being come to the town held he a Thing with the townsmen. Now Fin spoke long and wisely at this Thing, bidding townsman and peasant take any other course rather than live in hatred with his King or drive him away; & he reminded them how much ill they had been brought to suffer when they had acted in this wise aforetime, towards the sainted King Olaf. ¤ He said, moreover, that the King would atone for these murders in such manner as the best & wisest men might adjudge; and the outcome of the speech of Fin was that the men gave their word to let the matter rest until the return of the messengers despatched by Bergliot to Hakon Ivarson in the Uplands. Thereafter fared Fin out to Orkadal with the men who had accompanied him to town, and further up to the Dofrafjal and eastward (south) across those mountains; and firstly went he to see his kinsman-in-law Earl Orm (the Earl was wedded to Sigrid the daughter to Fin) & to him disclosed his errand.
¶ When this was done, appointed they a tryst with Hakon 160 Ivarson, & when they were met did Fin before Hakon lay his errand in accordance with the behest of King Harald. But on the instant was it seen from the speech of Hakon that he deemed himself bound to avenge the slaying of his kinsman Eindrid; and said he, moreover, that he had received word from Throndhjem that there would come to him forces sufficient for an uprising against the King.
¶ Then did Fin open unto Hakon what a difference would lie, and how much the more to his own vantage, were he, in lieu of risking battle against a King to whom he was already bounden by service, to accept from that King honour as great as he himself might demand. Fin said that Hakon might be unvictorious; ‘and then wouldst thou have forfeited both wealth and peace; and if thou wert victorious over the King then wouldst thou be dubbed a traitor.’ ¤ The Earl also supported this speaking of Fin. ¤ When Hakon had given the matter thought, made he known to them what was in his mind, & said: ‘I will accept reconciliation from King Harald if he will give me in wedlock his kinswoman Ragnhild, the daughter of Magnus Olafson, with such a dowry as is seemly for her, and as she herself may desire.’ ¤ Then Fin answered that he would promise the fulfilment of this request on behalf of King Harald, & therewith was the matter ratified between them. Thereafter fared Fin back north to Throndhjem, and all the disquiet and turmoil was set at rest; and so in the end kept the King his kingdom in peace within the land, for now the whole of that league came to naught which the kinsfolk of Eindrid had set against King Harald.
¶ Now when the time was come that Hakon was to demand the fulfilment of the contract, fared he to see King Harald; and when they began talking of the matter together, said the King to him that he on his side would keep to everything that had been covenanted twixt Hakon and Fin: ‘Thou shalt speak with Ragnhild herself, Hakon,’ said the King, ‘and 161 ask her consent to this match, but I would not advise thee, or any other, to wed Ragnhild save with her consent.’
Thereafter went Hakon unto Ragnhild and asked her hand, and she answered: ‘Indeed feel I that my father, King Hakon, is dead, since I am to be given to a peasant, fine man though thou art and of mighty prowess. Were King Magnus alive would 162 he never yoke me with any mate less than a king, nor can it be awaited now that I will wed a man without princely rank.’ Now after this went Hakon to King Harald & opened unto him of the colour of the speech of Ragnhild, & withal to his memory again commended the agreement betwixt himself and Fin; and Fin was there present, & sundry others who could also bear witness to what was pledged betwixt him and Fin. Then of them all demanded Hakon to bear him out in regard to the agreement that the King should give Ragnhild such dowry as was to her mind: ‘Since she will not wed an unprincely man then canst thou give me an earldom; lineage have I, and according to what folk say certain other qualities therewith that may well give me title to be an earl.’ Then said the King: ‘When King Olaf, my brother, & King Magnus, his son, ruled the kingdom, one earl did they allow to be in the country at a time; this likewise hath been my plan since I have been King, & therefore will I not take away from Orm the dignity which I have already given him.’ Then saw Hakon that his cause had not been forwarded and he liked it but ill, and Fin was likewise exceeding wrath that the King had not kept his word, and thereafter they parted. Hakon fared straightway from the country in a well-found long-ship, and southward steered a course for Denmark where he betook him to his kinsman-in-law, King Svein. The King received him with great pleasure & gave him large grants in Denmark and made he Hakon also captain of his coast defences, which were against vikings, who oft-times harried in the Danish realm, and Wends, and Courlanders, and other folk coming from the east. Therefore at sea, on his ships, dwelt Hakon in winter as well as in summer.
¶ Asmund was the name of a certain man who was said to be nephew§ & foster-son to King Svein, a very able man was he, and well-beloved by the King. ¤ But when Asmund grew to man’s estate soon showed he himself of an unruly complexion 163 & a manslayer; and the King being ill-pleased thereat sent him away, but gave him a company of men and a goodly feof whereof could he full well find support. ¤ Now no sooner had Asmund accepted the money of the King than gathered he many men to him, and thereafter, since the money the King had granted him sufficed in no sort for his charges, seized he many possessions of the King. ¤ For this ill conduct, when the King heard thereof, summoned he Asmund to him, and when they met told him that obeyed would he be, that he must enter his body-guard & no longer have his own company of men. When Asmund had been a time with the King, became he ill-content, & one night ran he away and rejoined his company, and thereafter wrought even more evil than aforetime. ¤ Then it befell once upon a time when the King was riding in his dominions, that he came nigh unto the place where then abode Asmund and he despatched men to take him by force, and that done the King had him put in irons and kept him thus for a while to see if he would not grow meeker. But when Asmund was let loose from his irons forthwith ran he the more away, & raised men and war-ships, and fell to harrying both at home and abroad, & much war-work did he, slaying many folk, and pillaging far and wide. Those men that were the sufferers from his raids went to the King and made plaint before him, and he rejoined: ‘Why say ye this to me, why do ye not fare to Hakon Ivarson? He is now the warden of my coasts, and is put there to punish vikings and keep the peace for ye peasants. It was told me that Hakon was a bold man and brave, but methinks that now is he never to be found where he deemeth danger to be toward.’ ¤ These words from the King, and many added to them, came to the ears of Hakon, & thereon went Hakon & his men in search of Asmund, & they were met on their ships, wherefore Hakon forthwith gave battle. A hard & great struggle was it; Hakon boarded Asmund’s ship and cleared it, and at the last he and 164 Asmund themselves dealt blows one at another with their weapons & thus fell Asmund. Thereafter Hakon smote off his head, & then betook him with all speed to King Svein whom he found sitting at table. ¤ Hakon advanced before the table and laid the head thereon, in front of the King, and asked of him whether he recognized it. ¤ Never a word did the King answer, but he was blood-red to behold. ¤ Thereafter went Hakon away. A little later sent the King men to him, to bid him leave his service, & he said: ‘No hurt will I do him, but it is not for us to be the keeper of all our kinsmen.’
¶ Then when all these things were accomplished did Hakon quit Denmark & thence fared forth to the north of Norway, to his demesne. ¤ By that time was his kinsman, Earl Orm, dead. ¤ The friends and kindred to Hakon were rejoiced over his coming, and many a bold man set to work to make peace betwixt him & the King, & in the end were they reconciled, to wit, both King Harald and Hakon; and Hakon was given Ragnhild, the King’s daughter, in marriage, & King Harald gave him Orm’s earldom and such rule as had been Orm’s aforetime. Hakon swore fealty to the King, and likewise to afford him such service as he was bounden to give him.
¶ Since he had fared from Norway had Calf Arnison been living after the fashion of a viking westward, but the winters through oft-times abode he in Orkneyja (the Orkneys) with his kinsman-in-law, Earl Thorfin. Fin Arnison sent to his brother Calf to tell him concerning the covenant which he and King Harald had encompassed, the purport whereof being ye outlawry of Calf himself, to wit, that it should be once more lawful to him to dwell in his own land, and possess his estates, and such land dues as he had held aforetime from King Magnus. When Calf received this message, forthwith made he him ready to quit, and sailed he east to Norway, and firstly sought he his brother Fin. ¤ Thereafter Fin craved a truce for Calf, and then were they confronted, the King 165 and Calf, & entered into a covenant like unto the agreement to which the King & Fin had arrived on this matter. Thereon gave Calf his hand, and bound himself on the same terms as he had bound himself to King Magnus aforetime, that he would do all such works as King Harald desired or deemed would be for the strengthening of his kingdom. ¤ Then was Calf re-endowed with all his possessions, and the land-dues which had been his in former days.
¶ Next summer called out King Harald an host and fared to Denmark where he harried during the summer. ¤ But when he was come south to Fion (Funen) found he a large host assembled against him, so bade the King his men leave their ships and arm themselves in order to make a landing; and parted he his host and gave to Calf Arnison command over one company thereof, and bade them go the first ashore and told them where to take up their station; himself, said he, would go up after them, and come to their assistance. ¤ Calf and his men went ashore, and anon a band of men set upon them, and Calf forthwith gave battle. Not long was the combat, for Calf was overborne by odds and fled with his folk. The Danes pursued them, slaying many of the Norwegians, and likewise Calf Arnison. ¤ When King Harald with his company were come ashore soon found they the slain, more especially the corse of Calf, and this was borne down to the ships, but the King pursued his march inland where he harried and slew many men. Thus saith Arnor:
‘The edge so sharp in Fion
He reddened, and the fire
Rushed o’er the dwelling;
Fewer folk were there thereafter in Fion.’
¶ After this conceived Fin Arnison enmity against Harald for the slaying of his brother Calf, for said he that the King had purposely compassed the death of Calf; and furthermore that it was befooling of him himself, to wit, this luring 166 of Calf west across the seas into the power of King Harald, and into putting faith in him. When these words were spread abroad spake many men their mind that Fin had been simple when he had deemed that Calf could trust in the good faith of King Harald, for it was known that the King bore malice for deeds of smaller consequence than those Calf had committed against his person. ¤ Now let the King every man talk on this matter as he listed: he made neither confirmation nor yet contradiction of whatsoever they said, and it was in his own words alone that men did discover satisfaction at what had happened. King Harald chanted this song:
‘Now of men eleven and two have I the bane been,
We incite to battle and full many a slaying I remember.
That mind which is with treason fraught
Seeks to tame men by falseness;
Men say ‘tis little that it takes such a balance to disturb.’
¶ So much to heart did Fin Arnison take the death of his brother that he quitted the land and came south to Denmark, and going unto King Svein was well received by him. The King & he spake long together privily, & at the end thereof was it known how Fin was minded then and there to take service with King Svein and become his man. To him gave Svein the title or Earl and therewith Halland to govern, and there Fin tarried to safeguard the coast against the Norwegians.
¶ Now Ketil Calf & Gunhild had a son whose name was Guthorm of Ringanes. On his mother’s side was he the nephew of King Olaf and King Harald, able was he withal & early come to manhood. Guthorm was oft with King Harald who to him was of very friendly countenance, and over Harald had Guthorm much influence for he was a wise man & well-beloved of all. Guthorm sailed often on viking cruises to the lands in the west, and had disposition over many men. ¤ His peace-land & place of abode in winter was Dublin in Ireland, where he was a sworn friend of King Margad.§167
¶ The summer thereafter King Margad and Guthorm with him fared to Bretland (Wales) in order to harry there, and thence took they much wealth which they had pillaged. After having done thus, lay they to in Anglesey Sound so that they might part their plunder, but when all the silver, and great was the quantity, was carried before the King and he beheld it, then desired he to keep all for himself, and seemed now to set scant store by his friendship with Guthorm. ¤ Guthorm liked ill enough that he and his men should be scotched of their share of the booty; & still less pleased was he when the King said he might choose betwixt two things; ‘Either to submit to our will, or do battle with us, and he who gets the victory to have the money; and thou moreover shalt depart from thy ships and I will take them.’ Now on either hand the task seemed severe; Guthorm deemed it unseemly that he should without rime or reason give up his ships & money, but natheless was it ill fighting over against a King to whom was an host so large as that which followed Margad. Grave also was the disparity betwixt the crews thereof, inasmuch as to the King were sixteen long-ships & to Guthorm only five. So Guthorm prayed the King grant him three nights’ truce in the which to confer with his men on this matter, for thought he that he could soften the King within this time, and aided by the pleading of his men could set the matter on a better footing with the King, but never a bit did he get what he asked for. This was on the eve of St. Olafmas.§ So Guthorm chose to die, the stout fellow he was, or win the day, rather than suffer the shame and disgrace and mockery of having lost so vast a deal. ¤ And called he upon God and the sainted King Olaf, his kinsman, praying for their help and support, and vowing to bestow on that holy man’s house a tithe of all the plunder which would fall to them an they gained the victory. Thereafter did he array his host, and rank it against the greater host, and he advanced on them and fought with 168 them, and by God’s help and that of the holy King Olaf did he gain the victory. There fell King Margad, and every man who was with him, young & old. After this glorious victory Guthorm returned home joyfully with all the wealth he had gotten from the strife; & from the silver which had changed hands every tenth penny was set aside for the sainted King Olaf even as Guthorm had vowed. A vast deal of money was there so that from the silver caused Guthorm to be made a rood of his own stature, or of that of the captain of his ship, and that holy symbol is seven ells in height. ¤ This cross did Guthorm give to the church of the holy St. Olaf, & there§ has it remained ever since in testimony of ye victory of Guthorm and the miracle of ye sainted King Olaf.
¶ Now there was in Denmark a Count who was evil & envious, and he had a Norwegian serving-woman and the stock of her was from Throndhjem. She worshipped the holy King Olaf, and put staunch faith in his sanctity; but the Count misdoubted all that had been told him of the miracles of that holy man, & affirmed that naught were they but rumour and talk, and laughed to scorn all the praise and worship which the folk of the land accorded the good King. ¤ But now was drawing nigh the day whereon the gentle King laid down his life, a day which all Norwegians kept, but which this unwise count refused to hallow; & he bade his serving-woman fire the oven and bake on that day. ¤ And deeming from the mood of the Count that he would soon avenge himself on her an she did not obey him in all that he had bidden her do, went she all unwillingly and laid fire under the oven, and made much plaint while she worked, & called on King Olaf, saying that she would never believe more on him if he did not by some token or other avenge this unseemliness. And now shall ye hear of a meet chastisement & true miracle: it befell forthwith, in the self-same moment, that the Count became blind in both eyes and that the bread which she had baked was 169 turned into stone. ¤ Some of the stones have been brought to the church of the holy King Olaf, and also to many other places. St. Olafmas has ever been kept holy in Denmark since that happening.
¶ Westward in Valland (France) was there a man who was so malformed that he was a cripple, and crawled he ever on his knees and knuckles. One day when he was abroad, on a road, he fell asleep & dreamt that a man all glorious without came 170 to him and asked whither was he bound, and the cripple answered with the name of a certain town. ¤ Then the man all glorious said: ‘Fare thee rather to St. Olaf’s Church in London, and there wilt thou be healed.’ Thereafter awakened the cripple and straightway fared in search of St. Olaf’s Church, and after a while was come to London Bridge & there asked of the townsmen whether they could direct him to St. Olaf’s Church; but for answer gat he that there were too many churches for them to know to what man each of them was dedicated. A while later came up a man & asked him whither was he bound, and he told him whither he was bound, and that man said afterwards: ‘We will both go to St. Olaf’s Church, for I know the way thither.’ ¤ So then crossed they the bridge, and went to the street which led to St. Olaf’s Church. When they were come to the gates of the churchyard the man stepped over the threshold which is between the gates, but the cripple rolled over it, and lo, straightway rose he up a whole man. When he looked round his comrade was gone.
¶ King Harald founded a merchant town eastward in Oslo,§ and often tarried there for it had broad countrysides round about, and was a place suited for the ingathering of victuals; likewise was it well situated for the defence of the land against the Danes, & also for onsets on Denmark which Harald was wont to make even at such times when he had a large host at his beck. ¤ One summer fared King Harald with some light ships and but few men and set he sail south for Viken; but on a fair wind springing up, crossed he the sea to Jutland where he began to harry. ¤ The men of the land, however, collected themselves together & defended their country, so then sailed King Harald on to Limfjord and went up that fjord. ¤ Now Limfjord is so fashioned in shape that going up it is like entering into a narrow river-groove, but as thou goest on up the fjord it becometh like a great sea. ¤ Harald harried there on 171 both shores, but beheld the Danes everywhere assembled in numbers. King Harald brought-to his ships alongside an island which was small & thereon were no buildings; and when they went in search of water they found none, and told it unto the King. ¤ Then he did send men to see if no adder could be found on the isle, & when one had been found they brought it to the King and he had the adder taken to the fire so that it might be warmed and teased thereby, and become right thirsty. Thereafter a twine was bound to its tail and the adder was let loose, and it crawled away and the twine was unwound from the ball, and they followed after the adder until it struck into the earth. ¤ Then the King bade them dig for water, and they dug for it, and there found water in abundance.
¶ From his spies learned King Harald the intelligence that King Svein was come with a large fleet of ships to the mouth of the fjord, and that he was making way but slowly, for his ships could only pass in one at a time. King Harald took his ships up Limfjord, and over against where it is broadest it is called Lusbreid. Now from the creek within is there a narrow neck of land westward (north) leading to the sea, and thither did the men to Harald row in the evening; after nightfall, when it was dark, they cleared the ships & haled them right over this isthmus, and before daylight all was accomplished and the ships once more ready for sea. Then shaped he the course northward past Jutland, and they sang:
‘From Danish grip
Did Harald slip.’
¶ At that time said the King that he would come to Denmark once again, & would bring with him more men & larger ships. After these things fared they northward to Throndhjem.
¶ That winter abode King Harald in Nidaros, & at this time caused he a ship to be builded out on the islands, and it was a bussa-ship§ made after the model of the Long Serpent and 172 wrought every way as carefully as might be. ¤ At her bows was a dragon-head and at her stern a crook, and the ......§ were all overlaid with gold. On her were thirty-five benches, and broad was she of beam in comparison therewith. ¤ Very fair to behold was she. The King caused all the appurtenances of the ship to be chosen with exceeding great care, both the sail, the running tackle, the anchor and the cables. ¤ That winter King Harald sent word southward to Denmark to King Svein, bidding him come in spring from the south to the River, to a meeting with him, & saying that they would then fight to the end that one or other of their countries should change hands, & the victor become master of both kingdoms.
¶ That winter called out King Harald a host, a general host, from all Norway, and by spring-tide had been assembled together a mighty array of men. ¤ Then launched the King his great ship on the river Nid, and after that was accomplished caused he the dragon-head be placed thereon. ¤ Then sang Thiodolf the Skald:
‘Fair maid, forward is the ship guided, from river to main.
Mark where off the land there lieth the long hull of the dragon.
The mane of the serpent yellow-green glints on the deck,
The prows were burnt-gold as from off the slip she glided.’
¶ Thereafter fitted King Harald out the ship and his men for a cruise, and all being made ready, stood he down the river, and right well answered she to the oars. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Saturday the prince casts off the long land tilts,
There where the widows proud the serpent watch,
As she glideth from the town.
West from the Nid thereafter the King doth steer,
Into the sea drop the oars of his men.
Move can they, the King’s lads, the straight oars in the water.
The widows stand and wonder at the oar-strokes so swift,
The thole knows hurt when seventy oars do move her
173 I’ the water ere the war-folk on the sea their oars do strain.
Northmen the serpent row (nailed is she) out on the billow-stream icy;
‘Tis eagles’ wings that we behold.’
¶ Southward sailed King Harald with his host alongside the land, so that he might call out a general muster of men and ships. But when they were come eastward, and were off Vik, arose a strong contrary wind wherefore was the fleet obliged to stand in for harbour, making such havens as were to be found in the skerries as well as those in the fjords. ¤ Quoth Thiodolf:
‘Lee have the shaven hulls of the ships under the woods,
The King’s war-host towards land doth lean with its prow beams.
The land-folk in the skerries, within the creeks, do lie;
The ships white-mailèd hide under the land-necks.’
¶ Now in the tempest which fell upon them the great ship had need of good anchor tackle, and thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Prow foremost the prince cleft
High fences of the sea;
The ropes of the King’s ship
Are strainèd to the utmost;
The wind is unfriendly
Against the anchor-iron out-hollowed,
Grit and wind-squalls ugly
Chafe at the anchor flukes.’
¶ As soon as there was come to him a fair wind, took King Harald the host east to the River, and thither came towards nightfall. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Now drave King Harald hotly the war-ships towards the River,
At nightfall Norway’s King anigh the marches is.
A Thing the King now holds at Thumla, there where Svein
Will meet to war if so be the Danes shirk not the tryst.’
¶ When the Danes learned that the hosts of the Norwegians were come, all those that were able to do so fled away. ¤ The Norwegians likewise learnt that the Danish King had his host out, and was lying south off Funen and the small-isles; but when King Harald saw that King Svein would not come to meet him as had been agreed, nor do battle with him, then did he after the same fashion as before & let the peasant host return to Norway; but manned he one hundred and fifty§ ships, & with these steered a course alongside Halland. There he plundered widely; and he put in also to Lofufjord with his host, and going up onto the land harried there likewise. Somewhile later came King Svein to the encounter with the Danish host, and to him was a tale of three hundred§ ships. When the Norwegians saw this fleet bade King Harald a blast be blown to summon his host together, & many spake saying that they ought to flee, & that it was unavailing for them to fight, but the King answered thus: ‘We will fall one atop of the other rather than flee!’ Thus saith Stein Herdason:
‘Said the chief high-minded, what now he awaited.
Here (said the King) he had all hope of peace lost.
Rather than yield, cried the King, should each man fall one on the top of the other.
Their arms then took the men.’
¶ Then let King Harald his ships be cleared for action, and brought his great dragon forward into the very midst of the host. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘The giver of kindly gifts
Who oft to the wolf gave food,
His dragon-ship put forward
Midmost in the war-host.’
¶ This ship was well fitted out, and had a large crew. ¤ And again saith Thiodolf:
‘The peace wishing King his ranks bade
Bind fast the war-shields on the ships’ sides;
175 The prince’s friends well ordered stand methinks. The leader of manly deeds,
The doughty dragon closed,
Outside the Niz, with shields, and one o’erlapped the other.’
¶ Ulf the Marshal brought his ship up alongside the royal ship, & bade her men place her well forward. Stein Herdason was on Ulf’s ship, and he chanted thus:
‘Ulf, the Marshal of the King,
Cheered us all on to battle;
The spears trembled when
The ships were rowed to the fight.
And, no doubt, the wise King’s
Valiant friend did bid his men
His ship advance beside
The prince’s; the lads obeyed.’
¶ Stationed farthest out on one of the arms was Ivar Hakonson; under him had he many and the men to him were well equipped. Farthest out on the other arm were the chiefs of Throndhjem, and to them likewise was a large and goodly host.
¶ And King Svein likewise ranged his host, and his ship laid he over against ye ship of Harald, in the midst of the host, and nighest to him was Earl Fin, and next to him again the Danes ranked all of their host that was bravest and best equipped. Thereafter either side lashed their ships together in the midmost part of the fleet, but the hosts being so large it befell that there was a great number of ships faring loose, and so each captain placed his ship as far forward as he had courage for; but that was exceeding varied. Now though the odds were so great yet nevertheless had either side a vast host, and in his to King Svein pertained as many as seven earls. Thus saith Stein Herdason:
‘The “hersirs’” valiant lord a risk did take him,
With ships fifty and a hundred he waited for the Danes.
176 Next was it that the ruler dear who dwells in Leidra§
The sea cleft thither with three hundred sea-steeds.’
¶ Even so soon as he had made ready his ships, commanded King Harald the war-blast to be sounded, and after this was done, rowed his men ahead. Stein Herdason saith:
‘Before the river’s mouth, damage did Harald Svein.
Hard withstanding made he; Harald asked not for peace.
The King’s sword-swinging lads forward off Halland rowed,
And yonder on the sea caused wounds with blood to stream.’
¶ Then did either side join combat, and the struggle waxed very fierce. Either King lustily cheered on his men, as saith Stein Herdason:
‘Eager for war the good shield-bearers bade their lads
To shoot and hew (but short the space was ’twixt the hosts).
Both stones & arrows streamed when the sword shook from it,
The light blood, depriving of life the men of either host.’
¶ It was late in the day when battle was joined and the combatants fought the whole night; King Harald himself shot for long with his bow. Thiodolf saith thus:
‘Elm-bow did the Upland
King draw all the night;
Shrewd ruler of the land sent
Arrows ’gainst the white shields;
Barbs bloody harmed the peasants,
And the King’s arrows
Fast in the shields did lodge
(The spear-shots grew apace).’
¶ Earl Hakon & the men of his company did not lash their ships together, but rowed against the Danish keels that were faring loose, and every ship that they grappled did they clear. When the Danes noted this same did every man move his ship away from the spot whither the Earl was faring, but went he after them even as they withdrew, and wellnigh to fleeing were they. ¤ But then came a boat rowing towards the 177 Earl’s ship, and those in it shouted & said that the other arm of ye battle array of King Harald had given way, and that many of their men had fallen there, so then rowed the Earl away thither and fierce was his onset, so that the Danes again caused their ships to fall astern. Thus did the Earl fare the whole of that night, rowing round outside the combatants, and laying about him wheresoever it was required; & whithersoever he went he was in no fashion to be withstood. ¤ During the waning part of the night was there a general fight among the Danes; this was after King Harald & his band had boarded the own ship to King Svein, and so utterly cleared it that all his men were slain save and except those that leapt into the sea. Thus saith Arnor Earl’s-skald:
‘Svein courageous went not from off his ship
Without good cause (that is my mind);
Hard was the fight for the helmets wasted,
And empty did his craft float ere the eloquent friend of the Jutes
Fled from his dead chosen fighters.’
¶ After the banner of King Svein had fallen & the ships to him had been cleared, fled away all his men save those who were slain, & they that fled sprang into the deep from those ships that were lashed together or climbed on to other ships that were faring loose, but all of the men of King Svein who were able to do so rowed off. Full many men fell there. And there, where the Kings themselves had fought & the greater number of the ships had been lashed one to another, lay over seventy of the ships of that King; thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Bold King of the Sogn-folk,
(So ’tis sung) ships seven
Times ten of men and arms
From Svein’s fleet cleared away.’
¶ King Harald after the Danes rowed hard and put them to rout, but no easy task was it, for so little sea-room was there 178 betwixt the keels that motion was well-nigh not possible. Earl Fin would in no wise consent to flee and was taken captive; he could not see well. This is what Thiodolf saith:
‘To six Danish earls a guerdon hast thou to give
For one single victory,
(They whet the heat of battle).
In the midst of the ranks
Fin Arnason was taken
Ne’er would he think to flee.’
¶ Earl Hakon tarried behind with his ship, while the King and the rest were pursuing after the fugitives, for the Earl could not get his ship away from the spot where she was lying. Just at that time rowed up a man in a boat to the ship and brought-to at the poop; a big man was he with a broad-brimmed hat; ‘Where is the Earl?’ quoth he up to the ship. ‘In the forehold,’ answered they him back, ‘binding the wound of a man who is bleeding.’ The Earl viewed the man with the hat and asked what might his name be, to which he made answer: ‘Vandrad§ is here, speak to me, Earl.’ Then looked the Earl over the gunwale at him. ¤ Then said the boatman: ‘I will receive my life of thee if thou wilt give it me.’ Then the Earl rose up and called to two of his men, either of whom was dear to him, and said: ‘Get into the boat and set Vandrad ashore; go with him to my friend Karl the Peasant, and tell him for a token to give Vandrad the horse which I gave to him yesterday, and to give him his own saddle, and his son for a guide.’ Then stepped they into the boat & took the oars, & Vandrad steered. ¤ This was hard nigh to the dawn of day, and there was much movement among the ships, craft both large and small, some rowing to land, others to sea. ¤ Vandrad steered there where thought he there was most sea-room betwixt the craft, & whensoever any of the Norwegian ships rowed nigh them said the Earl’s men who they were, & then all let them 179 go as they listed. Vandrad steered along the shore & did not put to land ere they had come past the place where there was a great throng of ships.
¶ Thereafter walked they to the homestead of Karl at about the hour when the light began to wax, and so went they into the living-room, and beheld Karl but now clad. To him told the men from the Earl on what mission had they come, and Karl said that first must they eat, & caused food to be set before them, & himself fetched them water for hand-washing. Then came the housewife into the chamber and straightway said she: ‘Wondrous is it that we gat no sleep nor rest all night through, for the tumult and noise.’ Karl answered: ‘Knowest thou not that the Kings fought together yesternight?’ She asked: ‘Who won?’ Karl answered: ‘The Norwegians won.’ ‘Belike our King hath fled again,’ said she. Karl replied: ‘In a bad way are we with our King for he is both halt & craven.’ Then spake Vandrad: ‘The King is not craven, but neither he is victorious.’ Now Vandrad was the last to wash his hands, and when he took the towel he dried himself in the midst thereof; but the housewife seized it and pulled it from him, saying: ‘Little good canst thou do; ’tis the way of common folk to wet all the towel at once.’ Vandrad answered: ‘I shall yet come thither where I may dry myself midmost in the towel.’ Then sat they at meat for a while but afterwards went out, and there was the horse standing ready, and that son of Karl who was to bear Vandrad company sat another horse, and together rode they forth to the forest. But the men from the Earl went back to their boat, & rowed out again to their ship.
¶ Harald and his men pursued the fugitives a short way, and thereafter returned to those ships which had been deserted. And then searched they the slain, finding in the King’s ship a number of dead men; yet not among them was the body of King Svein; natheless was it deemed certain that he must 180 have fallen. King Harald let the corses of his men be laid out, or the wounds bound up of them that required it. Then caused he the bodies of the men of Svein to be borne ashore, & sent word to the peasants that they should bury them; thereafter caused he the plunder to be divided, and abode for a while there at that spot. And there learnt he the tidings that King Svein was come to Zealand, and that all of his host which had not been routed in battle had rejoined him, and to him likewise were come many other men, and that to him therefore was assembled a mighty large host.
¶ Now as ye have heard tell afore, was Earl Fin Arnason captured in the battle, and before the King was he led. King Harald was then exceeding joyful, and said he, ‘Here meet we twain, Fin, though lastwhiles in Norway; scarce hath the Danish court stood by thee! An ill piece of work will the Norwegians have to drag thee, blind man, after them, and keep thee alive.’ ¤ Then answered back the Earl: ‘Many ill things have the Norwegians now to do, & the worst of these is thy bidding.’ ¤ Then said King Harald: ‘Wilt thou have grace, though grace deservest thou not?’ The Earl answered: ‘Not from thee, hound!’ The King said: ‘Dost desire that thy kinsman Magnus should give thee grace?’ Magnus, the son of King Harald, was captain of a ship at that time. Then said the Earl: ‘What hath that whelp to do with the meting out of grace?’ Thereat laughed the King, for he deemed it good sport to bait him, and said he: ‘Wilt thou accept thy life from the hand of Thora, thy kinswoman?’ ¤ Then the Earl said: ‘Is she here?’ ‘She is here,’ said the King. ¤ Then did Fin utter the scurvy words which were remembered long thereafter, and all were witness of how wroth he was since he could not still his words: ‘It is not to be wondered at that thou hast bitten well since the mare is with thee.’ ¤ To Earl Fin was given quarter, and King Harald kept him with him for a time, but Fin was somewhat unjoyful, and unmeek in his 181 words. Then King Harald said: ‘I see thou wilt not be friends with me nor with my kindred, so I will give thee leave to fare to Svein, thy King.’ The Earl answered: ‘That will I accept, and the sooner I fare hence the more grateful I shall be.’ Thereafter the King let Fin be taken even to the land, where was he made welcome by the Hallanders. ¤ Thence sailed King Harald north with his host to Norway, faring first to Oslo, and in that place gave leave to all his men who desired it to go even to their own homes.
¶ It is said that King Svein abode that winter in Denmark, and held his state as before. ¤ And in the winter sent he men northward to Halland to fetch Karl the Peasant to him, and likewise Karl’s wife; and when they were come and he had summoned Karl unto him he asked him if he had seen him before. Karl answered: ‘I know thee now, King, and I knew thee then even so soon as I saw thee, and it is under God that the little help which I was able to afford thee was of use.’ The King answered: ‘For all the days I have yet to live I have to reward thee. Now firstly will I give thee whatever homestead in Zealand thou art minded to have, and I will furthermore make thee a great man an thou wottest how to act.’ ¤ Karl thanked the King well for his words, and said that there was still a favour he would pray of him. And the King asked what that might be. Karl said: ‘I would ask this thing, King, that thou lettest me take my wife with me.’ The King answered: ‘I will not promise thee this thing, for I will get thee a much better & wiser wife; but thy wife may keep the small homestead ye have already; on that she can live.’ ¤ And the King gave Karl a large & noble stead & gat him a good marriage. This was known and told far and wide, yea even as far north as Norway.
¶ The winter following on the battle of the Niz King Harald spent in Oslo. And when the host came up from the south in autumn many tales and legends went abroad of the autumn 182 outside the Niz river, & everyone who had been there deemed he had something to tell. Once it happened that some men were sitting drinking in a small chamber, & full of talk were they, talking of the battle of the Niz, and of whom might have derived the greatest renown therefrom. All were agreed on one issue, however, and that was that no other had been such a man there as Earl Hakon: he it was who had shown greatest prowess, who was the boldest under arms, and the ablest, and the most fortunate, and whatsoever he did was that which availed most, & to him was accounted the victory. Now Harald was without, in the courtyard, speaking with some of his men, and thereafter went he before the doorway of the chamber and said: ‘Every man now would like to be named Hakon,’ and therewith went his way.
¶ Earl Hakon fared to the Uplands in autumn, even to his dominions, and there tarried throughout the winter. ¤ Right well beloved was he of the Upland folk. Now once it befell, when spring was drawing nigh, that some men were sitting drinking, & their talk was yet again of the battle of the Niz; and men lauded greatly Earl Hakon, but a few praised others no less. ¤ When they had been talking thus a while a man answered: ‘Mayhap other men besides Earl Hakon fought boldly outside the Niz, yet nevertheless methinks no one can have had the luck he had.’ ¤ They said it was no doubt his greatest luck that he had routed many of the Danes. The same man answered: ‘Luckiest for him was it that he gave King Svein his life.’ Another answered him: ‘Thou wottest not what thou art saying.’ He answered: ‘Yea, I wot full well, for he who set the King ashore told me himself.’ Thus it befell, as oft is said, that ‘many are the King’s ears.’ These things were told to the King straightway, and the King had many horses taken and rode forthwith away in the night with two hundred men,§ and rode he the whole of that night and the following day. Then there came towards them on horseback 183 certain men who were making for the town with meal and malt. Now faring with the King was one Gamal, & he rode up to one of the peasants who was a friend of his and spoke privily with him. ¤ Gamal said: ‘Money will I give thee, an thou wilt ride furiously by hidden ways such as thou wottest to be shortest to Earl Hakon: tell him that the King will slay him, for the King wotteth that the Earl helped King Svein to land outside the Niz.’ ¤ And the matter being covenanted between them rode the peasant hard, and came even to the Earl who was sitting drinking and had not gone to his rest. But when the peasant made known his errand, rose the Earl forthwith and all his folk; and the Earl caused his chattels to be removed from the house during the night. When the King arrived thither tarried he there the night, but Hakon the Earl had ridden his way. And in time came he east to the realm of Sweden, to King Steinkel, and abode with him the summer. King Harald then turned him back to town. In the summer the King fared north to Throndhjem and abode there, but in the autumn fared eastward again to Vik.
¶ Earl Hakon went back in the summer to the Uplands, so soon as he learned that the King had fared northward, and there dwelt he until such time as the King came south again. Thereafter fared the Earl eastward to Vermaland and tarried there long in the winter; and King Steinkel gave the Earl rule and dominion over that part of the land. ¤ When winter was wearing to an end, fared he westward to Kaumariki, and took with him many men whom the Gauts and Vermalanders had given him. And he took thence his land-dues and the taxes which he had a right to demand, & thereafter fared he back east to Gautland and dwelt there the spring. ¤ King Harald abode the winter in Oslo, and sent his men to the Uplands to gather taxes and land-dues and the King’s fines; but the Uplanders said that they would not pay to him all dues which it behoved them to pay into the hands of Earl 184 Hakon even so long as he was alive and had not forfeited life or dominions; & no land-dues did the King therefrom obtain that winter.
¶ Now betwixt Norway and Denmark there were sent that winter messengers and messages, for both Norwegians and Danes alike desired to make peace and agreement either with other, and they prayed their Kings to do the same. The sending of these messages appeared prone to bring about concord, for in the end a peace-meeting was agreed upon in the River betwixt King Harald and King Svein. When spring-tide was come both Kings called out many men and ships for this journey. Saith a skald in a poem:
‘Leader of arméd men, he who the ground engirdles
From Eyrasund northward shuts with his long-ship’s prows
The land (the haven spurned he).
Gleaming with gold the stems cut the waves keenly;
Onward of Halland west, with host aboard, and the keels thrilling.
Harald firm-oathed! oft hast thou the earth engirdled with thy ships;
Svein, too, through the sound sailed the King to meet.
Praise-dight filler of ravens, who every bay doth close,
Hath out a teeming host of Danes, from the south all.’
¶ It is said here that these Kings kept to their agreement, to wit, that there should be a meeting betwixt them; and that both came to the marches. It is set forth thus below:
‘Shrewd leader of arméd men
To trysting south once more
Thou sailst as all Danes wished
(No lesser was thy purpose).
Svein now to the northward fares
The land-marches nigh,
The tryst to keep with Harald—
Windy was the weather off the land.’
¶ When the Kings were come face to face the one with other forthwith betwixt them was broached ye matter of peace; and no sooner was this opened than many men made plaint of the harm they had suffered through war-fare, rapine, and the slaying of men. And long talked they about this, as is said hereafter:
‘The yeomen shrewd
Such words do say aloud
That when the men meet,
An’ angered are mostly
The others. Far seemeth
Concord to lie from men
Who on all things quarrel
(The chiefs’ arrogance waxeth).
With danger fraught will be
Wrath of the princes be
If peace be agreed on,
Those who are peace-makers
In scales must weigh all things.
Seemly for Kings to say
What e’er the host liketh;
Bad will would it cause
Were the yeomen’s state worsened.’
¶ Then the best men and the wisest conferred together, and peace was made betwixt the Kings, in such wise that King Harald was to have Norway & King Svein Denmark as far as the marches which had aforetime divided the kingdoms; neither was to make redress to other; there where the land had been pillaged the matter was to be passed over; and he who had taken plunder was to keep it. ¤ This peace was to ensue even so long as the twain were Kings; the covenant was bounden with oaths, & thereafter gave the Kings one another hostages; even as is said hereafter:
‘Thus have I heard it said
That Svein and Harald both
186 (God works it) gladly gave
Hostages one to other.
Let them so keep their vows
(All ended was with witness)
And the whole peace so fully
That the folk break it not.’
¶ King Harald tarried in Vik during the summer, and sent men to the Uplands to collect the dues & taxes he had there; but the peasants in plain words said that they would bide the coming of Earl Hakon, until such time as he should come to them. Earl Hakon was then up in Gautland with a large host. When summer was wearing to a close sailed King Harald south to Konungahella (King’s Rock), and he took all the light craft whereon he could lay hands & went up the River, and at the falls thereof had the boats haled across land and so put onto Lake Wenern. Thereafter rowed he east across the lake where he asked tidings of Earl Hakon. ¤ Now when the Earl gat news of the journey of the King, came he down from the country and made endeavour to prevent the King from harrying, for to Earl Hakon was a large host which the Gauts had given him. King Harald laid his boats up the mouth of a river, and thereafter made a landing, but left some of his men behind to watch the craft. And the King himself and some of his men rode on horseback, but many more went afoot. Their way led them through a wood, & thereafter a bog lay before them on which were small bushes, then after that a copse, and when they were come up to the copse sighted they the host of the Earl; and a bog there was betwixt them and it. ¤ Then both hosts arrayed themselves, & King Harald commanded his men to sit up on the hillside: ‘Let us first tempt them to make an onset; Hakon hath no mind to wait,’ said he. ¤ The weather was frosty with some driving snow, and the men to Harald sat under their shields. ¤ Now the Gauts had taken little apparel on them and were starved with the cold, but the 187 Earl bade them bide until the King should make an onset and they could all stand alike in height. Earl Hakon had the banner which had been that of King Magnus Olafson. Now the head-man to the Gauts was one hight Thorvid, and he was mounted on a horse the reins of which were tied to a stake standing in the bog. He spake & said: ‘God knows we have a large host here and many stout men; let not King Steinkell hear that we are not helping this good Earl well. I wist that if the Norwegians make onset against us we shall stand firm, but if the young men falter & bide not, then do not let us run farther than thither to the brook, and if the young men again falter, which I wot will not befall, then do not let us run farther than thither to the hill.’ ¤ At that moment ran up the host of the Norwegians shouting their war-cry and beating their shields, & then the host of the Gauts likewise began to shout, and the horse to the head-man pulled so hard at its rein, being afrighted at the host-cry, that the stake came up & flew past the head of the chief, wherefore he shouted: ‘Such a mischance as thou shootest, Northmen,’ and therewith galloped away. King Harald had ere this said to his men: ‘Though we make din and shouting about us, yet let us not go down the hill or ever they come hither to us,’ and they did according as he had said. ¤ As soon as the war-cry was heard, caused the Earl his banner to be borne forward, and when they were come under the hill rushed the King’s men down upon them, and some of the men to the Earl fell forthwith and some fled; but the Norwegians drave not them that fled very far, for it was late in the day. There took they the banner of Earl Hakon, and as much of weapons and apparel as they could lay hands on. And the King let both the banners be borne in front of him when he fared down the hill; and his men spake one with another as to whether or no Earl Hakon might be fallen. Now when it came to faring through the wood they had to ride in single train, and behold a certain man rode straight across their way, 188 and thrust a spear through him that bore the banner to the King, and seizing the stave thereof rode he off another way in the wood with the banner. When the King was told of this cried he: ‘The Earl lives! Give me my mail-shirt!’ And rode he in the night to his ships. Now said many men that the Earl had avenged himself. Then chanted Thiodolf:
‘Steinkell’s host who to the
Warlike Earl should help yield
(That brought the King to pass)
To hell, I ween, have fared.
But those who would better
The matter say,
Hakon fled because the hope of help
Therefrom but ill had proven.’
¶ King Harald spent what was left of the night on his ship. In the morn, when it was light saw men that ice had formed round the ships so thick that it was feasible to walk round about them. ¤ Then bade the King his men hew the ice and release his ships into the lake, and so went the men and set to work to hew the ice. King Harald’s son Magnus steered the ship which lay lowest in the river-mouth and nighest out to the lake. ¤ Now when the men had almost chopped the ice away a certain man ran out on it to the place where they were about to hew, and thereafter fell to chopping as if he were mad and raving. Then said a man: ‘Now is it again as often before, no one is so good at giving a helping hand as Hall Kodransbane; behold now, how he is hewing the ice.’ ¤ But the man of Magnus’s ship who was hight Thormod Eindridison, when he heard the name of ‘Kodransbane,’ ran to Hall and gave him his death-blow. ¤ Kodran was the son of Gudmund Elyolfson, and Valgerd that was sister to Gudmund was the mother of Jurunn, Thormod’s mother. ¤ Thormod was a winter old when Kodran was slain, and never had he set eyes on Hall Utryggson before this time. ¤ By this, then, 189 the ice was broken away even so far as the lake and Magnus brought his ship out, & got under way forthwith, and sailed west across the lake; but the King’s ship which was the uppermost in the channel came out the last. Now Hall had been of the fellowship of the King and was very dear to him, and the King was exceeding wroth, so that when he came latest into haven he found that Magnus had already helped the murderer to the forest, though he offered atonement for him, would he have gone against Magnus and his folk, had not the friends of both brought about their appeasement.
¶ King Harald fared up to Raumariki this winter, and to him was a large host. ¤ And he bore cases against the peasants for the keeping back from him of dues and taxes, and for inciting his enemies to strife against him. ¤ And some of the peasants caused he to be taken, and some he maimed and others killed and others he deprived of all their possessions. ¤ Those who could get away fled, but the King burned the countrysides wide about and laid them waste. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Waster of isle-dwellers
Hard hands laid on Raumfolk,
Steadily on the ranks
Of Harald went, as I trow.
Fire did requite them;
But the chief commanded,
And high flames poor peasants
To obedience led.’
¶ After this fared King Harald up to Heidmark and there burned, and did no less war-work than has been writ afore. From thence fared he to Ringariki, there burned, and went everywhere with the war-shield aloft. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Burned were the fell folk’s steads,
Roofwards the red fire flamed.
Hit did the lord of chiefs
The Heiners with hard stones.
190 For their lives the sufferers craved;
So great a hurt the flames
The men of Ringariki wrought
Or ever the fire was stayed.’
¶ After this gave the peasants the whole matter into the hands of the King.
¶ After the death of King Magnus were spent fifteen winters ere the battle of the Niz, and after that two winters or ever Harald and Svein made peace. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘The prince of the Hords
(Brought peace the third year was made)
The strife to an end; on
The strand steel hit the shields.’
¶ After this peace-making endured the war of the King with the Uplanders three half-years. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Hard of the King’s work ’tis
In seemly wise to speak
When to have idle ploughs
The upland men he taught.
The chieftain wise hath honour won
These three half-years
Which ever will be minded.’
¶ Edward, the son of Ethelred, was King of England after his brother Hordaknut; he was hight Edward ‘the Good’ and right good he was. ¤ The mother to King Edward was Queen Emma, the daughter of Richard, the Rouen-Earl; and her brother was Earl Robert, the mother of William the Bastard, who was at that time duke of Rouen in Normandy. King Edward was wedded to Queen Gyda,§ the daughter of Earl Godwin & he was the son of Wolfnoth. The brothers to Gyda were: the eldest Earl Tosti, the second Earl Morcar, the third Earl Walthiof, the fourth Earl Svein, and fifthly Harald. Now Harald was the youngest and was brought up at the court of King Edward and was his foster-son, and the 191 King loved him very greatly and eyed him ever as his own son, for the King was childless.
¶ It befell one summer that Harald the son of Godwin had to go a journey to Bretland (Wales) and fared he on a ship, but after they had set sail sprang up a contrary wind & they were driven out to sea.[§] ¤ They made land westward in Normandy after undergoing a perilous storm. ¤ And putting into the town of Rouen found they there Earl William, who received Harald and his travelling companions joyfully, and Harald tarried there in good cheer for long during the autumn, for the tempests continued to blow and it was not weather for sailing out at sea. As winter was approaching spoke the Earl and Harald together concerning the dwelling of Harald there throughout the winter. Now Harald sat in the high-seat on one side of the Earl and on the other side of him sat the Earl’s wife, and fairer was she than any other woman whom men had seen. ¤ Harald and she would hold converse together all the time that the cups were going round, and when the Earl retired to rest, as he did betimes, Harald would sit long talking with the wife to the Earl, and so fared things for a long time during the winter. ¤ Once when they were talking together said she: ‘Now hath the Earl spoken with me hereon, and asked what it is we twain ever talk about, and now is he wroth.’ Harald answered: ‘We will forthwith let him know all our conversations.’ ¤ The day thereafter Harald called the Earl to speak with him, & went they to the council-chamber where were also the Earl’s wife and their councillors. ¤ Then Harald spoke the first and said: ‘This must I inform thee, Earl, that there is more in my coming hither than I have revealed to thee: I desire to ask the hand of thy daughter, and have oft-times spoken of this my wish to her mother, and she hath given me her word to support me in this matter with thee.’ ¤ When Harald had made known his desire, all those who were present received the news with gladness and supported 192 it with the Earl, and this matter was brought to end by the maid being betrothed to Harald; but since she was young some winters’ delay were agreed upon before the time of bridal.
¶ When spring came, equipped Harald his ship and sailed away, and he and the Earl parted in full friendship. ¤ And Harald fared to England, to King Edward, and returned no more to Valland to claim the marriage. King Edward ruled over England for twenty-four winters, & died a straw death in London, None Janurii (5th January); he was interred in St. Paul’s Church§ and the English call him sainted. ¤ The sons of Earl Godwin in those days were the most powerful men in England. Tosti had been made captain over the host of the King, and warden of the land when the King began to wax old; and he had been placed over all other Earls. ¤ His brother Harald was ever within the court the next man to the King in all service, & his duty had been to guard the treasure of the King.§ It is recorded by men that as the King was approaching to his end was Harald near by, and few other men, and Harald leant over the King and said: ‘I call all of ye to witness that the King gave me but now the kingdom, and all might in England.’ Then was the King borne dead from out his bed. That same day there was a meeting of lords and the taking of a King was discussed, and Harald then let his witnesses testify that King Edward on his death-day had given him the kingdom. ¤ This meeting ended in such fashion that Harald was hailed as King & consecrated with royal consecration in St. Paul’s Church on the 13th day;§ when all lords and folk swore fealty to him. ¤ But when his brother, Earl Tosti, heard what had befallen, liked he it no whit, for thought he himself to be equally near the King. ¤ ‘I desire,’ quoth he, ‘that the lords of the land choose him for King whom they deem best fitted therefor.’ And such like words went between the brothers. ¤ King Harald declared that he would not give 193 up the kingdom for he had been throned in that city which had been the King’s, and had been thereafter anointed and consecrated with royal consecration; with him also sided the multitude, and he had moreover all the treasure of the dead King.
¶ Now when King Harald became aware that his brother Tosti desired to oust him from the kingdom believed he but ill in him, for Tosti was a very wise man and a great warrior, and was full friendly, to boot, with the lords of the land. ¤ So Harald deprived him from command of the host, and of all the power he had had aforetime more than other earls§ there in the land. And Earl Tosti, who by no means would suffer himself to be the serving-man to his brother, fared away with his men, and so south to Flanders across the sea, and tarried there a while before faring to Friesland & thence to Denmark, to his kinsman King Svein. Earl Ulf the father to King Svein and Gyda that was mother to Tosti, were brother and sister. The Earl craved the aid of King Svein and men for his assistance, and King Svein bade him come to him & told him that he should have an earl’s realm in Denmark, such as would make him a seemly chief in that country. The Earl answered thus: ‘My desire is to fare back to England, to my heritage; but if I am given no assistance for that purpose from thee, King, then would I liefer make a pact to afford thee all the support I can procure in England, an thou wilt take the Danish hosts thither and conquer the land, even as thy mother’s brother Knut (Canute) conquered it.’ ¤ The King answered: ‘So much less a man am I than my kinsman King Knut that I have hard work to hold the Danish realm against the Norwegians. ¤ Knut the Old gat his Danish kingdom by inheritance but won England by warfare and strife, yet nevertheless at one time seemed he like to lose his life thereby. Norway gat he without battle. ¤ Now would I liefer keep within compass according to my smaller conditions than assay to rival the success 194 of my kinsman Knut.’ Then said Tosti the Earl: ‘Lesser is my errand hither than I had thought for; I deemed not that thou, a bold man, wouldst let me go in need. It may be that I am seeking friendship where it is not meet to seek it. But natheless it may hap that I find a chief who is less afeared of great ventures than thou art, King.’ Thereafter they parted, the King and the Earl, and were not very well of one accord.
¶ Tosti the Earl now turned him another way: he fared onward to Norway, to King Harald who was in Vik, and when they met the Earl made he known his mission to the King, recounting to him all concerning his journey since he had left England. And he craved help of the King so that he might regain his dominions in England. ¤ But the King said as followeth: that the Norwegians had no wish to fare to England and harry with an English chief over them; ‘folk deem,’ said he, ‘that the English are not full trustworthy.’ The Earl answered: ‘I wonder if it is sooth, that which I have heard men say in England, to wit, that thy kinsman King Magnus despatched men to King Edward, with the message that he, Magnus, owned England with no less right than Denmark, that he inherited it from Hordaknut (Hardicanute) and that the pact was ratified by their oaths?’ The King answered: ‘Why did he not have it if he owned it?’ The Earl said: ‘Why hast thou not Denmark even as King Magnus had it before thee?’ The King answered: ‘Little have the Danes to plume themselves on above us Norwegians, for many a hole have we burnt in those kinsmen of thine.’ ¤ Then said the Earl: ‘Though thou wilt not tell me yet can I, nevertheless, tell thee how it was King Magnus took possession of Denmark, to wit, was it because the lords of the land there helped him, but thou gat it not because all the people of the land were against thee. King Magnus fought not to gain England because all the people desired to have Edward for their King. If thou wishest to conquer England then can I bring it about that many of 195 the lords there will be thy friends and supporters, for nothing lack I against my brother Harald save the name of King. All men know that there has never been born in the northlands a warrior such as thou art. ¤ Astonished am I that thou who foughtest fifteen winters for Denmark will not take England which is lying at thy hand.’ King Harald pondered with care over what the Earl had said to him, and well wot he that in great measure had he said sooth; and added thereto conceived he the wish to conquer that kingdom. ¤ Thereafter the King and the Earl talked long & oft together, & in the end covenanted they an agreement that come the summer they would fare to England and conquer the country. King Harald sent round the whole of Norway calling out a levy, one half of the general war-muster. ¤ Now all this was much spoken of by men, and many were the guesses as to how things would go on the faring. Some reckoned & counted up all deeds of valour, swearing how naught would be impossible of King Harald, but said others that England would be difficult to conquer inasmuch as the people were exceeding numerous, & those warriors who were called the Thingmanna-host§ so doughty that one of them was better than two of Harald’s best men. ¤ Thus answered Ulf the Marshal:
‘Never would the marshals
Of the King (uncompelling
Ever gat I riches)
Turn them to the King’s stern-hold
Noble woman, an twain should be pressed back by
One Thingman (other than
That when young I learned me).’
¶ That spring Ulf the Marshal died, & Harald when he stood by his grave said ere he quitted it: ‘Here lies he that was ever the most faithful & the most dutiful to his lord.’ To Flanders also sailed Earl Tosti in springtide so that he should meet the men the which had followed him from England, with those 196 others also who were to join him from England and likewise from Flanders.
¶ The host to King Harald was gathered together in Solundir§ and when all things were made ready and he was about to set sail from Nidaros went he to the shrine of King Olaf, and thrusting his hands into the sanctuary cut he off the hair and the nails pertaining to the saint, and thereafter turned he the key once of the shrine and then threw that same key into the Nid; and since that time forsooth hath the shrine of the holy King Olaf never been opened. ¤ Five and thirty winters had been encompassed since his fall, and five and thirty years had he lived in the world. ¤ Then King Harald and the men that were with him gat them a course southward to meet his host; or ever that time it was a mighty force that met together, and it is told among men that to King Harald were nigh upon two hundred§ keels, besides victualling ships and smaller craft. When they were lying off Solundir a certain man named Gyrd, who was on the own ship to the King, dreamed a dream, and to him it seemed as though he stood on that same ship and beheld up on the isle a great troll-woman, & in one hand held she a short sword and in the other a trough. And to him also did it appear that he was looking at all the other ships, and on the prow to each was perched a fowl of the air, and all of those same fowl were either eagles or ravens. ¤ The troll-woman sang:
‘King from the east in sooth
To battle inciteth
Many a warrior westward,
(Joyful am I therefor);
There may the raven find
For itself food on the ships
(It knows enow there is);
With thee will I ever fare.’
¶ Now a certain man hight Thord abode on one of the ships 197 nigh to the own ship of the King, and on a night dreamed he that he saw the fleet to King Harald faring landward, and he seemed to wot that to England were they coming. ¤ Then he saw on the land a vast host of men & both hosts were making them ready for battle, and for each were many banners held on high. Before the host of the men of the land rode a swarth troll-woman, sitting on a wolf, and the wolf had the body of a man in its mouth, & blood flowed from the corners thereof. And when it had eaten the man she threw yet another into its mouth, and thereafter threw she one man after another, but notwithstanding made it scant ado at swallowing them all. And so she sang:
‘The troll makes the red shield gleam when war comes nigh.
Bride of the giant-brood mishap to the King foretells.
The quean with the jaws flings flesh of fallen warriors;
Raging the wolf’s mouth she dyes red with blood.’
¶ Furthermore it befell that King Harald dreamed one night and in his vision lo he was in Nidaros, and there met he his brother, King Olaf, who chanted a verse to him:
‘The burly King in many fights with honour conquered.
I gat (because at home I stayed) a holy fall to earth.
Still of this I fear me that death is nigh thee, King;
The greedy wolves thou fill’st;
Ne’er was this caused by God.’
¶ Men spake low of many other dreams and omens of divers kinds, and the bulk of them were of ill import. Or ever King Harald left Throndhjem caused he his son Magnus to be accepted as King, and made he him ruler over the kingdom of Norway. ¤ Thora, the daughter of Thorberg, also remained behind, but Queen Ellisif fared forth with King Harald and with them likewise her daughters Mary and Ingigerd; Olaf the son to King Harald also fared with him from the land.
¶ When King Harald was ready, and a favourable wind had sprung up, sailed he out to sea & came to land at the Shetlands, 198 but some of his ships went on to the Orkneys. King Harald lay at these isles a while or ever set he sail for the Orkneys, & from these latter took he with him many men & the Earls Paal and Erling, twain sons to Thorfin the Earl, but behind him left he there Queen Ellisif & their daughters Mary & Ingigerd. Thereafter sailed he southward alongside Scotland, & then alongside England, and went ashore there where it is called Cleveland. ¤ And being come on land forthwith harried he the countryside, bringing it into subjection under him, & withal encountering no resistance. Thereafter went King Harald into Scarborough, & fought there with the men of the town, and he went up on to the cliff there and ordered a vast bonfire to be made and a light thereto put, and when it was ablaze, his men took large forks and with them rolled it down into the town, and then one house after the other began to burn, so that there was naught for the townsmen to do save to surrender. There slew the Norwegians many men, and took all the goods whereon they could lay hands. No choice had then the Englishmen, an they wished to keep their lives, save to make submission to King Harald. ¤ Wheresoever he fared brought he the land into subjection, and he continued on his way southward off the coast with the whole of his host, bringing-to at Holderness, and there a band came against him, and King Harald did battle with them and gained the day.
¶ Now having come thus far on his journey King Harald fared south to the Humber and went up that river and lay in it beside the banks. ¤ At that time there were up in Jerirk (York) Earl Morcar and his brother Earl Walthiof and with them was a vast host. King Harald was lying in the Ouse when the host of the Earls swooped down against him. ¤ And King Harald went ashore and set to arraying his host, and one arm of the array was ranked on the banks of the river, whereas the other stretched up inland over towards a certain dyke, and a deep marsh was there, both broad, and full of water. ¤ The 199 Earls bade the whole multitude of their array slink down alongside the river. ¤ Now the banner to the King was nigh unto the river and there the ranks were serried, but near the dyke were they more scattered, and the men thereof also the least trustworthy. ¤ The Earls then came down along by the dyke, and that arm of the battle-array of the Norwegians which faced the dyke gave way, and thereon the English pushed forward after them and deemed that the Norwegians would flee. Therefore did the banner of Morcar fare forward.
¶ But when King Harald saw that the array of the English had descended alongside the dyke and was coming right toward them, then commanded he the war-blast to be sounded, and eagerly encouraged his men, and let the banner ‘Land-waster’ be carried forward; and even so fierce was their advance on the English, that all were repulsed and there fell a many men in the host of the Earls. ¤ This host was even soon routed, and some fled up beside the river and some down, but the most of the folk ran right out into the dyke, and there the fallen lay so thick that the Norwegians could walk dry-shod across the marsh. ¤ There too fell Earl Morcar.§ Thus saith Stein Herdason:
‘Many in the river sank
(The sunken men were drowned);
All round about young Morcar of yore lay many a lad.
To flight the chieftain put them;
The host to swiftest running
Olaf the Mighty is.’§
¶ The song that followeth was wrought by Stein Herdason about Olaf ye son to King Harald, and he saith, the which also we wot of that Olaf was in the battle with his father. This is told likewise in ‘Haraldsstikka:’
‘There the dead lay
Down in the marsh
So that they might
The war-wonted horsemen
There wend their way
On corses only.’
¶ Earl Walthiof and those men that contrived to make their escape from out the battle fled even up to the town of York, and there it was that the greatest slaughter took place. This battle was on the Wednesday§ or ever St. Matthew’s Day.
¶ Earl Tosti had come west (south) from Flanders to King Harald, and being even come to England joined himself with the Earl so that he had his part in all three battles. And now things came to pass even as he had told Harald at their meeting they would come to pass, to wit, that a number of men would flock to them in England, and these were both kinsmen and friends to Tosti; and their company added greatly to the strength of the King. ¤ After the battle whereof we have but now heard related, all the men of the countryside hailed King Harald, albeit some few fled. And now set King Harald forth to take the city, and placed he his host by Stanford Bridge,§ but for the reason that the King had won so fair a victory over great lords and overwhelming odds were the people dismayed & deemed it hopeless to withstand him. Then took the citizens council together, & they were of one mind to send word to the King giving themselves and likewise the town into his power. This same was proffered even at such time that on the Sunday[§] fared King Harald and his men to the city, and there they held a council of war without the walls, and the citizens came out and were present at the council. ¤ Then did all the folk promise obedience to King Harald; and gave him as hostages the sons of great men even according as Tosti chose, for the Earl knew all men in this town; and in the evening fared the King to his ships elated with the victory he had won and withal was very joyful. ¤ It 201 was furthermore covenanted there should be held a Thing in the city§ early on that Monday when would King Harald appoint governors and grant fiefs and rights. Now that self-same evening, after the sun had gone down, approached King Harald Godwinson with a vast host the city from the south, and rode he into the city by the will and consent of all the citizens. ¤ Then were men posted at all the gates, and at all the roads, so that to the Norwegians there might get no tidings of what had befallen, and this host passed the night within the walls.
¶ On the Monday,[§] when Harald Sigurdson had eaten his fill at dinner, ordered he a blast to be sounded for a landing. And thereon made he ready his host and parted them, some to fare and some to tarry; and of each company he let two men go up for every one left behind. ¤ And Tosti the Earl prepared him to go up with his company, but to guard his ship there tarried behind Olaf own son to the King, Paal and Erling the Orkney Earls, and Eystein Blackcock, the son of Thorberg Arnason, who was in those days the man of most renown and withal dearest to the King of all feudatories, & King Harald had at that time promised him the hand of his daughter Maria. Very fine was the weather with warm sunshine, and wherefore because of this left the men their shirts of mail behind them and went with their shields and helms and spears, with their swords girded on; and many had likewise bows and arrows, and withal were they very merry. But as they advanced on the city, behold a great host rode out towards them and they saw the smoke of horses, and here and there fair shields and white coats of mail. Then halted the King his host and summoned Earl Tosti to him, and asked what manner of host this was like to be. ¤ And the Earl answered and said that he deemed it might be strife, yet nevertheless it might be that they were some of his kinsmen who were seeking for protection & friendship, & would promise the King their support 202 and fealty in return. Then the King said that they would first of all keep quiet and learn more particulars anent this host. So they did this, & the host waxed greater the nearer it came, and everywhere was it like a sheet of ice to behold, so white was the gleaming of the weapons.
¶ Then King Harald Sigurdson spake and said: ‘Let us now take goodly & wise counsel together, for it cannot be hidden that this forebodes strife, and most like it is the King himself.’ To which the Earl answered: ‘Our first course is to turn back and go our swiftest to the ships that we may fetch folk and weapons, and thereafter offer what resistance we can; or even might we also let the ships protect us and then no power would the have over us.’ Then said King Harald: ‘Another counsel will I choose, namely to send three bold fellows on our swiftest horses and let them ride hotly a’pace and impart to our men what hath befallen; then will they the sooner come to our aid, and a right sharp combat shall the Englishmen fight or ever we suffer defeat.’ The Earl answered and said that the King should decide in this matter as in all else: ‘no manner of desire had he either to flee.’ Then caused the King his banner ‘Land-waster’ to be borne aloft, and Fridrek was the man hight who bore the banner.
¶ After these things arrayed King Harald his host. ¤ And he let the muster be long and not dense, and then after doing this doubled he both the arms thereof backward so that they reached together and made a wide ring thick and even on all sides without, shield by shield, and the same within likewise; and the King’s company was without the ring and there too was his banner. ¤ In another spot was Earl Tosti with his company, and another banner had he, and the men to him were all picked men. Now the array was made in this fashion because the King wist that the horsemen§ were wont to ride forward in a mass & thereupon fall back. Now said the King that his company should advance whithersoever it were most 203 needed, ‘but our archers shall also be with us, and those who stand farthest forward will set their spear handles in the earth and point their spears at the breasts of the riders if they should ride us down, and those who stand in the next row will thrust their spears into the chests of the horses.’
¶ It was with an exceeding vast host that King Harald Godwinson had come thither, a host of both horse and foot-folk. Around his array rode King Harald Sigurdson having a wary eye to see how it had been ranked, and he bestrode a black piebald horse. ¤ Now the horse fell under him but the King arose in haste & said: ‘Falling when faring betokens fortune.’ Then said Harald, the King of the English, to those Norwegians who were with him: ‘Knowest thou the big man yonder who fell from his horse, the man with the blue kirtle and the fair helme?’ ‘That is the King,’ said they. ¤ ‘A big man and of masterful appearance, yet belike his luck is over,’ answered the English King.
¶ Twenty horsemen rode forward from the Thingmanna host before the battle-array of the Norwegians; and they were wholly clad in chain-mail and their horses like unto them. Then said one horseman: ‘Is Earl Tosti in the host?’ to which was made answer: ‘There is no hiding it, ye can find him there.’ ¤ Then said the horseman: ‘Harald, thy brother, sent thee a greeting, and word therewith that thou shouldst have grace & the whole of Northumberland; and rather than thou shouldst not go over to him will he give thee a third share of the whole of his kingdom.’ Then answered the Earl: ‘That is a very different message from the strife and scorn of the winter: had it been offered then many a man would still be alive who is now dead, & more firmly too would the kingdom stand in England. Now if I should accept these terms, what would he offer King Harald Sigurdson for his pains?’ ‘He hath said something of what he would grant him in England, Seven feet of room or as much longer as he is taller than other 204 men,’ made answer that rider. ‘Fare thee now to King Harald and bid him make ready for battle,’ said the Earl, ‘other shall be said among Norwegians than that Earl Tosti quitteth King Harald Sigurdson for the fellowship of his foemen when he hath to fight in England. Nay, let us all rather be of one mind: to die with honour or to win England by conquest.’ Then did the horseman ride away, and King Harald Sigurdson asked of the Earl, ‘who was that long-tongued man, yonder?’ ‘That was King Harald Godwinson,’ said the Earl. ‘Too long was this kept from us,’ said King Harald Sigurdson, ‘they were come so nigh unto our host, that nought would this Harald have known how to tell of the death of our men.’ ‘True it is,’ said the Earl, ‘that such a chief went right unwarily, and that it might have been as thou sayest; I saw that he wished to offer me grace and much dominion, but that I should be his slayer an I said who he was. Rather would I that he should be my slayer than I his.’ Then said King Harald Sigurdson: ‘A little man was he, but firm in his stirrups.’ ¤ It is said that King Harald chanted this verse:
‘Forward go we in folk array
Without our mail
Under blue blades;
The helmets shine,
No mail have I;
On the ships yonder
Our garb doth lie.’
¶ Now the mail-shirt to Harald was hight ‘Emma,’ and it was so long that it reached down even unto the midst of his foot, and so strong that no weapon had ever lodged fast in it. Then said King Harald Sigurdson: ‘That was ill wrought; I must make another, a better verse in its place,’ and then he chanted this:
‘Ne’er do we in battle
Creep behind our shields,
205 The clash of weapons fearing
(E’en so the word-fast woman bade me).
Of yore the necklet-wearer bade me
Carry high my head in battle,
Where sword and shield do meet.’
And Thiodolf likewise sang thus:
‘Never, if e’en the prince himself to earth should fall,
(As God wills so goeth it)
Will I flee from the heirs of the chief.
The sun shines not better on these than these twain shine.
Avengers of Harald are resourceful hawks full grown.’
¶ And now they fall to battle, and the English ride onward toward the Norwegians, but the resistance is stubborn, and because of the shots it is not easy for the English to ride against the Norwegians, and so they ride round about them in a ring. At first the battle is altogether even, that is so long as the Norwegians hold their array, but the English charge them & then if they have done no hurt ride aback, and when the Norwegians see this, namely that the English seem to ride on them without spirit, set they themselves upon them and would have pursued them, but behold no sooner is the wall of shields broken than the English ride towards them from all directions bringing spears and shots to bear on them. And King Harald Sigurdson seeing this goeth forth into the brunt of the battle, even there where the hardest struggle is taking place, and many men falling from both hosts. ¤ King Harald Sigurdson waxeth so fierce that he runneth forward right out from the array, & heweth with both hands, & hath neither helme, nor shield holden before him. ¤ All those who are nighest to him draw aback, and far are the English from fleeing. Thus saith Arnor Earl’s-skald:
‘In battle swift the chief’s heart ne’er did quake,
And the strong King the greatest courage showed ‘mid the helmes’ thunder,
206 There, where in the hersirs’ chief the hosts saw this,
That by his bloody sword the men to death were wounded.’
¶ Now it happened that King Harald Sigurdson was wounded by an arrow in the throat, and this was his death-wound. He fell with the whole of that company which was advancing with him, save those that drew back; and these held stoutly to the banner. ¤ Yet a conflict full as hard was foughten after Tosti the Earl had taken his place under the King’s banner. Then both the hosts fell to arraying themselves for the second time, and an exceeding long truce was there in the battle. Thereof sang Thiodolf:
‘Mishap hath fallen on us,
(in peril is now the host);
In vain hath Harald brought us
This journey from the east.
The chieftain shrewd’s life-passage
So hath ended that we now
(the King bepraised his life lost)
Row in peril of our lives.’
¶ But ere the combatants again joined issue offered Harald Godwinson his brother Tosti grace, and he likewise offered grace to the other men surviving from the Norwegian host; but the Norwegians shouted out that they would rather fall one above the other, than accept quarter from the English. And thereon shouted they their war-cry, & then the battle began for the second time. ¤ Thus saith Arnor Earl’s-skald:
‘In an hour of misfortune
The King austere gat death;
The arrows gold-inwoven
Spared not the robbers’ foe.
Gentle and bounteous King—
His friends choose all to fall
Round their host-wonted chief
Rather than quarter seek.’
¶ Now it befell that Eystein Blackcock came up just at that moment from the ships with his company, and they were in full armour, and Eystein gat him hold of the King’s banner ‘Land-waster,’ and for the third time the men fell to battle; exceeding sharp was it and the English lost men full heavily and were on the point of fleeing. That fray was called ‘Blackcock’s Brunt.’ Eystein’s men had hastened so furiously from the ships that at first, or ever they were come to the combat, they were weary and scarce fit for battle, but afterwards so raging were they that they defended themselves as long as they could stand upright. At the last cast they from off them their mail-shirts, and then was it easy for the English to find a vulnerable spot on them; but some who were unwounded yet died from their haste and fury. ¤ Nearly all the great men among the Norwegians fell at that time. ¤ This befell late in the day. ¤ As was to be looked for not all men fared alike in fortune, many fled & many who thus made their escape met differing fates. Mirk was it in the evening ere the slaughtering was brought to an end.
¶ Among those who escaped was Styrkar, the marshal of King Harald Sigurdson, & this befell from his getting him a horse and thereon riding away. Now a wind sprang up in the evening and the weather waxed somewhat cold, and Styrkar had no other apparel than his shirt, a helme on his head, and a naked sword in his hand. ¤ And he waxed cold as his weariness wore off. Then a certain waincarle came driving towards him, and this man had a lined coat. Styrkar said unto him: ‘Wilt thou sell thy jacket, peasant?’ ‘Not to thee,’ quoth he, ‘thou art a Norwegian, as I wist by thy tongue.’ ¤ ‘An I am a Norwegian what wilt thou do then?’ said Styrkar. ‘I would slay thee; but alack I have no weapon to do it with,’ the peasant replied. ‘If thou canst not slay me, peasant, I will make trial if I cannot slay thee,’ and therewith Styrkar swung his sword and brought it down on the man’s neck so that his head was 208 cut off; and then took he the fur coat and springing on to his horse rode down to the shore.
¶ Now tidings were borne to the Rouen Earl, William the Bastard, of the death of King Edward his kinsman, & furthermore was it told how Harald Godwinson had been acclaimed as King of England and had been consecrated thereto. Now William deemed he had a better right to that kingdom than Harald, to wit by reason of the kinship betwixt him & King Edward, and withal furthermore inasmuch as he deemed it but fair to avenge himself on Harald for the slight of that broken betrothal with his own daughter. ¤ For all these self-same reasons, then, assembled William an host together in Normandy, and a multitude of men were mustered, with a goodly sufficiency of ships. And on the day that he rode from the city unto his ships, when he had mounted up on to his horse, his wife went to him & would have spoken with him, but when he saw this he thrust at her with his heel, setting his spur in her breast so that it penetrated deep therein, and she fell and straightway died.§ But the Earl rode to his ships and fared with his host over to England. At that time was his brother Otta with him. ¤ When the Earl came to England plundered he there, & brought the land into subjection under him wheresoever he went. ¤ Earl William was bigger and stronger than other men, a good horseman, the greatest of warriors, and very cruel; a very wise man was he withal, but accounted in no wise trustworthy.
¶ King Harald Godwinson gave Olaf, the son of King Harald Sigurdson, permission to fare his way, and in like fashion treated he those men of the host who had been with the King and had not fallen. King Harald then turned southward with his host, for he had learned that William Bastard was faring northward through England, & was conquering the country. There were with Harald Godwinson at that time his brethren Svein,§ Gyrd, and Walthiof. King Harald and Earl William 209 met in the south of England at Hastings and a great battle befell there. ¤ In it were slain King Harald and his brother Earl Gyrd, & a great part of their host. Nineteen nights was it after the fall of King Harald Sigurdson,§ Earl Walthiof, own brother to Harald, made good his escape by flight, and at even fell in with a band of William’s men; whereupon Earl Walthiof set fire to the forest and burned them all up. Thus saith Thorkel Skallson in Walthiof’s lay:
‘An hundred King’s own court-men
The warrior had burned
In hottest fire (to the men
An eve of singeing was it).
’Tis said that the men
’Neath the wolf’s claw must lie;
Gray steed of the troll-quean
Gave victuals to the swords.’
¶ Thereon caused William himself to be proclaimed King of England, and thereafter sent he to Earl Walthiof proffering him peace & appointing a truce so that a meeting might take place betwixt them. The Earl fared to it with but few men, and when he was come on the heath north of the castle bridge two of the King’s bailiffs advanced upon him with a band of men, and when they had taken him they put him in chains; thereafter he was beheaded. The English call him sainted.§ Thus saith Thorkel:
‘’Tis doubtless that manly Walthiof
By William (he who from the south
Across the chill main came)
Is bewrayed in his trusting.
Sooth is that long ’twill be
Ere ends the slaying of men
In England (swift was my master.
No prince like him doth live).’
¶ Afterwards lived William as King of England for one and 210 twenty winters, and ever since have his descendants ruled as Kings of England.
¶ Now Olaf the son to King Harald Sigurdson took his men and fared away from England, sailing forth from Ravenseer whence they came in autumn to the Orkneys, & there learned they the tidings that Maria the daughter of King Harald Sigurdson had died of a sudden death on the self-same day and in that same hour as her father King Harald had perished. Olaf tarried in the Orkneys the winter through but the summer thereafter fared he east to Norway, and was made King there together with his brother Magnus. ¤ Queen Ellisif journeyed eastward with her step-son Olaf and her daughter Ingigerd. ¤ Skuli also, he who was afterwards called King’s-fosterer, & his brother Ketil Crook, likewise fared overseas with Olaf. The twain of them were doughty men, and noble in England, and both were very sage and well-beloved by the King. Ketil Crook fared northward to Halogaland and King Olaf gat him a good marriage, and from him are descended many great men. Skuli, King’s-fosterer, was a wise and strong man, very fair to behold; he became captain of King Olaf’s body-guard, lent his counsel at the Things, and ruled with the King in all governances of the land. King Olaf desired to give Skuli a province in Norway, whichever he was minded to have, with all the incomes and dues that the King held disposition over, but Skuli thanked him for this offer and said that he would liefer ask for other things because should there be a change of kings perchance the gift would be taken back: ‘I will,’ said he, ‘accept certain domains which lie nigh to the towns, where ye, Sire, are wont to be, and where the Yule feasts are held.’ So King Olaf gave him his word thereon, and made over to him lands in the east at Konungahella, and at Oslo, at Tunsberg, at Borg, at Bergen, and in the north at Nidaros. They were nigh upon the best estates at each place, and they have ever since been the possessions of 211 men of the lineage of Skuli. ¤ King Olaf married Skuli to his kinswoman Gudrun Nefsteinsdotir, whose mother was Ingirid the daughter of King Sigurd Sow and his wife Asta. Asta was own sister of King Olaf the Saint & of King Harald. The son of Skuli and Gudrun was Asolf of Reini who was wedded to Thora the daughter of Skopti Ogmundson. The son of Asolf and Thora was Guthorm of Reini, the father of Bard, the father of King Ingi and Duke Skuli.
¶ On a winter after the fall of King Harald was his body transported from England to Nidaros and interred there in the Church of St. Mary, that selfsame church the which he himself had caused to be builded. ¤ It was allowed by all that King Harald had exceeded other men in wisdom & resourcefulness, both when he had been fain to act swiftly or had debated long, either for himself or others. The most valiant of all men was he, and victorious withal, even as hath been set forth this while:
‘The waster of Zealand’s dwellers
In boldness ne’er was lacking;
Mind ruleth half of victory,
And soothly Harald proveth it.’
¶ King Harald was stately and goodly to behold, fair hair and a fair beard had he, and a long moustache; of his eyebrows the one was somewhat higher than the other, & he had large hands and feet, but either shapely. Five ells was he in stature. Towards his foes was he cruel, and when withstood revengeful. Thus saith Thiodolf:
‘Sage Harald doth arrogance
In his thanes chastise;
Methinks the King’s men bear
But that which they mete out.
Such burdens bear they
As for themselves they care to have
(The law is used for each against the other);
Thus doth Harald change revenge.’
¶ King Harald vastly loved power & all worldly advantages, but towards his friends, even to those whom he liked well, was he very bountiful. Thiodolf telleth us as followeth:
‘Of ships’-battle the awakener
For my work a mark bestowed;
To praise vouchsafeth he
Each one who proveth him thereof worthy.’
¶ King Harald was fifty years of age when he fell. We have no tales of count regarding his up-growing, or ever he was fifteen winters old and was at Stiklastad, in the battle, with his brother King Olaf. Thereafter lived he for five and thirty years, and during all that time had ever turmoil and strife. King Harald never fled from any battle, but oft-times sought he expedients when the odds of war were against him. ¤ All men who followed him in battle or warfare avowed that when he found himself hard pressed or was obliged to make a swift resolution, he chose that course which afterwards all men saw to be the likeliest to avail.
¶ Halldor, the son of Bryniolf the Camel, hight likewise the Old, was a wise man and a great lord, and thus spake he when he heard the conversation of men in respect to the very different natures of King Olaf the Saint and his brother King Harald. ¤ ‘I was with both brothers,’ said he, ‘and high in favour, and I wotted the natures of both: never did I find two men so alike at heart. Both were very wise and valiant men, loving possessions and power, masterful, not lowly-hearted, overbearing, haughty, and quick to chastise. King Olaf constrained the people of the land to Christianity and the true Faith, but punished harshly those who turned a deaf ear to his commands. ¤ The chiefs of the land who would not suffer his even-handed dispensation of justice rose up against him and slew him in his own land, and it is for that reason he is called saintly. ¤ But King Harald harried for renown and dominion, bringing under his yoke all people that he could 213 bring under it, and he fell in the land of other kings. ¤ Both these brothers in normal life were men of religion and had regard for their honour; they were likewise travelled & vigorous in mind, & it is from such-like qualities that they waxed so far-famed.’
¶ King Magnus Haraldson ruled Norway the first winter after the fall of King Harald, but thereafter ruled he the land for two winters together with his brother King Olaf, and there were then two kings together, Magnus having dominion in the northern half of the land & Olaf in the eastern half. King Magnus had a son who was hight Hakon & his foster-father was Steig-Thorir; a youth of promise was he.
¶ After the death of King Harald SigurdsonSvein, the Danish King, gave out that peace was at an end betwixt Norwegians and Danes, for the pact was made to endure only as long as both kings lived. So then were men mustered in both realms; King Harald’s sons called out a general-host and ships from Norway, and King Svein fared northward with the host of the Danes. ¤ And so it was that messengers were thereafter despatched betwixt the kings with offers of peace, and the Norwegians said that they would either keep to the covenant which had been made aforetime or fight. For that reason the following verse was sung:
‘With threats and words of peace
Olaf his land defended,
So that no one from the King
Durst claim a right thereto.’
And thus saith Stein Herdason in the lay of Olaf:
‘His heritage ’gainst Svein
The warlike King defended
In that merchant town where resteth
(Great is he) the saintly King.’
¶ But a compact was come to betwixt the kings at the time of this mustering, & peace ensued in the lands. King Magnus 214 was afterwards stricken with a sickness, the rift-worm sickness, and when he had lain abed for some time died he at Nidaros, and there was buried. He was a King right well-beloved of all the people.
These notes, with few exceptions, are taken from Professor Gustav Storm’s Norwegian version of the Heimskringla, from which this translation of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason and of Harald Hardrad (Harald the Tyrant) is made.
Ethel H. Hearn.
In the Notes, “Translator” refers to the English translation (the present text).
Page 12, line 11. Vladimir the Great of Russia (980-1015) became Grand Duke of Novgorod in 970.
Page 19, line 25. The head of a ‘her,’ i.e., a hundred families. The territory inhabited by them was called a ‘herath.’ The ‘hersir’ seems to have combined the offices of commander in time of war, and religious head of his tribe.—Translator.
Ibid. Nordfiord and Söndfiord.
Page 20, line 1. Those who absented themselves when the ships were called out for war, or who came to a wrong place of meeting, or at a wrong time, were compelled to pay a war-fine.
Page 28, line 31. This is not in accord with page 22, line 2, in which Vingulmark is mentioned as being given to Harald the Grenlander. Perhaps the error is on the page aforesaid, as on page 53, line 30, Harald is described as King of Vestfold only.
Page 30, line 14. The present North Germany, from eastern Holstein to eastern Prussia.
Page 30, line 17. I.e., Boleslaw. By ‘Burislav,’ as mentioned here, must not be understood Boleslaw I of Poland (992-1025), but his father Miesco or Mieczyslaw (964-992).
Page 31, line 12. The Emperor Otta is the Emperor Otho II (973-983). His march on Denmark did not take place in 988 as Snorri calculates, but late in the autumn of 974. Nor was the Emperor’s object the conversion of King Harald, for the latter had accepted Christianity about 960—but to bring Denmark under his own vassalage.
Page 31, line 18. The Danavirki, or Danish wall, began in the east at the head of the Slefjord, and extended to the west only as far as the Træaa, the tributary river of the isthmus, and not to the sea.
Page 32, line 24. It is not historical that Burislaw (or Miesco) accompanied the Emperor to the Danish wall; nor was Olaf Tryggvason, who was not full grown in 974, with him.
Page 33, line 33. As early as 968 Vidkund of Corvey, in his chronicle of that year, mentions Poppo’s miracle and its effect in causing Harald to embrace Christianity. The incident must be ascribed to about the year 906.
Page 34, line 12. ‘Learned men’ means men trained in the learning of the Church, that is to say, belonging to the priesthood.
Page 35, line 3. ‘Go to Fret’ (?) means to consult the gods by means of the so-called ‘blotspaan,’ or sacrificial shavings. These, and pieces of wood (perhaps inscribed 216 with runes) were disposed in a particular manner, for the purpose of gaining information from the gods as to the future.
Page 39, line 6. Gyda was the daughter of Olaf Kvaran, and not his sister. Olaf Kvaran died an old man in 980.
Page 40, line 3. ‘Holmgang’ so called in Norway because the two combatants retired alone to a holm or uninhabited islet to fight.—Translator.
Page 48, line 1. Mandseidet in Stadland.
Page 55, line 15. The Russian name Wsevolod.
Page 57, line 22. According to English sources Olaf was lying with his fleet off Southampton during the winter of 994-995. He received instruction there in Christianity from English bishops, and was confirmed in the spring of 995, on which occasion King Ethelred was his sponsor. He returned home to his country early in the summer.
Page 59, line 28. Rimul now the farm of Romol (Guldalen) on the west side of the Gula river, opposite Melhus.
Page 66, line 33. The note corresponding to this marker is missing.
Page 72, line 6. The ‘Sogn-sea’ formed the boundary between Sogn and Hordaland so that the territory given to Erling was Hordaland, Rogaland, and the western part of Agder, as far as the Naze.
Page 74, line 4. So-called because he ‘rooted in the soil,’ i.e., practised agriculture.
Page 74, line 11. This is not historical. Olaf the Saint was not christened until he was full grown. According to the oldest sources he was baptized in Rouen by Archbishop Robert, the brother of Duke Richard.
Page 76, line 21. April 16, 998.
Page 78, line 20. Olaf, like all Christians at that time, thought Odin to be an evil spirit.
Page 78, line 27. A war-arrow was furnished with a cord or twist of withy at one end, and was intended to summon all men armed to a Thing.
Page 82, line 8. ‘Ship-corner,’ a little creek of the river Nid, at the end of the present Strand Gade in Trondhjem.
Page 82, line 13. This barrow, Skjeggehaugen, existed at the beginning of the nineteenth century; it was situated to the south of the farm of ‘Östraat’ (Austrat).
Page 91, line 33. Svirar: what these were is not known; they must have been at the stern of the ship.
Page 93, line 16. September 29, 999.
Page 94, line 3. I.e., in christening raiment, which was worn for a week after baptism.
Page 100, line 31. The town of Ladoga; it was situated at that time on the river Volkhov which debouches into the lake of Ladoga.
Page 101, line 8. The island of Ösel was named in Old-Norse Ey-Sysla (island district) and the mainland opposite Adal-Sysla (chief district), and the whole of Estland (or Esthonia) together Sysla.217
Page 101, line 32. This is incorrect. Gunnhild was put away by King Svein and sent home to Wendland; after the death of Svein in 1014 her sons had her brought back to Denmark.
Page 107, line 29. North America, probably Nova Scotia.
Page 108, line 7. A particular kind of long-ship without a ‘head’ at the prow.
Page 110, line 7. Svold is not an island as Snorri thought, but a haven or creek in the mouth of a river somewhat west of Rügen.
Page 118, line 1. I.e., Lappish.—Translator.
Page 126, line 10. Harald Hardrad, or Harald the Tyrant was in the service of the Greek Emperor in the year 1041, and took part in the pillaging of the rebellious Bulgarians. The account of this was not known to Snorri who lived so much later, but Thiodolf had heard of it.
Page 127, line 23. An unknown people, perhaps ‘Lechers,’ i.e., Poles.
Page 128, line 10. Georgios Maniakes, the brave commander of the Greeks in the valley of the Euphrates 1033-1035, and in Sicily in 1038-1040.
Page 128, line 13. Mercenaries, chiefly the northern inhabitants of Russia and of Greece.
Page 130, line 26. Snorri here confuses ‘Serkland’ in Asia with Africa. Harald was taking part in the wars in Syria and Armenia in the years 1035-1037, before going in 1038 with the Greek army to Sicily.
Page 131, lines 8 and 9. These two lines refer to Atli the King of the Huns, who according to the legend invited his brothers-in-law (Gunnar and Hogn) to a feast in order to betray them.
Page 135, line 7. Snorri Sturlason was descended from Halldor in the fifth degree.
Page 136, line 24. The Greek Emperor concluded a peace with the Calif of Egypt in 1036 which enabled the Emperor to build churches near the Holy Sepulchre. Craftsmen were despatched thither for this purpose by the Emperor, and among the troops sent to protect them was Harald Hardrad, or Harald the Tyrant.
Page 138, line 1. Zoe never had a brother, so the relationship, at all events, is inaccurate.
Page 138, line 18. No such chapel has ever been known to exist in Constantinople.
Page 139, line 15. It is a fact that Harald was one of those who blinded the ‘Greek King’ Michael Kalafates. The latter was accepted as the son of Zoe and became Emperor together with her in 1041. After deposing her (April 21, 1042) he was himself deposed, and was blinded in the street by his body-guard, in which Harald was serving as ‘spatharokandidat’ (colonel). Michael is in this case confused with his successor Constantine.
Page 139, line 19. Siavidarsund (i.e., ‘the sound with the sea-wood’) is the present Golden Horn; the heavy iron chain, which was stretched across its extremity, in times of dispute rested on wooden floats.218
Page 140, line 3. The mouth of the Dnieper in the Black Sea.
Page 140, line 4. East-realm, i.e., Russia, or its eastern provinces.
Page 140, line 21. If this is correct Harald must have gone to Constantinople before 1034, as there was a change of monarch in 1034, 1041, and 1042.
Page 143, line 13. In south Jutland, west of Aabenraa. Magnus died in Zealand. His successor Svein (who was also named Magnus) died at Sudatorp.
Page 143, line 14. I.e., half-brother (Alfhild’s son, not Olaf’s).
Page 148, line 10. Budli’s, or the sea-king’s way—the sea.
Page 148, line 28. This line with line 23 on page 137 and one omitted from the foregoing verse form together a kind of refrain which runs as follows: “May it dwell where it listeth—In Christ’s eternal House—Harald’s soul in Heaven.”
Page 152, line 33. So named because upon a certain occasion he carried King Sigurd Slembe at a Thing.
Page 153, line 7. Ruins of the church of Saint Olaf are to be found under the present Town Hall on the northern side of Kongens Gade, in Trondhjem.
Page 153, line 20. They were moved thither from St. Clement’s church.
Page 153, line 23. This church was west of the church of Saint Olaf, on the north side of the present Kongens Gade, where the Savings Bank now stands.
Page 155, line 13. That is to say, 600.
Page 156, line 10. ‘The King’s-House down by the river’ was the new King’s-House which Harald had built east of the church of Saint Mary.
Page 158, line 11. The son of Ketil Calf and Gunnhild (mentioned on page 154).
Page 162, line 32. Asmund’s father was Biorn Ulfson, the brother of Harald (died 1049).
Page 166, line 35. Margad (in Irish Eachmargach) Rognvaldson was the King of Dublin in 1035-1038 and 1046-1052.
Page 167, line 26. July 28, 1052.
Page 168, line 11. I.e. in the Cathedral.
Page 170, line 20. On the site of part of the present city of Christiania.
Page 171, line 34. A ‘Bussa’ was a particular kind of large ship, broad in the beam, especially a war-ship.
Page 174, line 8. That is to say, 180.
Page 174, line 13. 360 ships.
Page 176, line 1. Later Leire, near Roskilde in Zealand.
Page 178, line 21. I.e., one who is in distress.
Page 182, line 34. That is to say, 240.
Page 190, line 29. Her name was Eadgitha; Gyda was her mother’s name. The sons of Earl Godwin were Harald, Tosti, Svein (died 1052), and Gyrd. Harald was the eldest son. Morcar, or Morkere, and Walthiof were not Earl Godwin’s sons; Morcar was the son of Ælfrik of Mercia, and from 1065 was Earl 219 of Northumberland; Walthiof was the son of the Danish Earl Siward of Northumberland (died 1055).
Page 191, line 6. At Ponthieu, where the Count took him prisoner. William released him and had him brought to Rouen. It is not historical that Harald held undue intercourse with William’s wife. William made use of Harald’s compulsory sojourn to make him swear allegiance to him, and affiance him to his daughter.
Page 192, line 11. Unhistorical. The church referred to is St. Paul’s in London, but Edward died and was buried at Winchester, where Harald was likewise crowned.
Page 192, line 18. This is unhistorical. Tosti had been Earl of Northumberland since 1055, but was driven away by the Northumbrians in October 1065 and fled to Flanders, so that he was not in England at the time of Edward’s death. Harald was Earl of Wessex and the most powerful man in the land.
Page 192, line 28. I.e., the thirteenth day of Christmas, January 6.
Page 195, line 20. The name of King Canute’s Danish guard, instituted 1018.
Page 196, line 3. The Sulen Islands outside Sognefjord.
Page 196, line 16. That is to say, 240.
Page 199, line 20. Unhistorical. Morkere, or Morcar, escaped later and joined Harald the son of (Earl) Godwin.
Page 199, line 27. Part of the refrain which runs as follows: ‘Olaf the Mighty is—the very greatest chief—born under the sun.’
Page 200, line 9. September 20 (1066).
Page 200, line 21. Now Stamford Bridge across the Derwent. Snorri thought that Stamford was situated nearer York than it really is.
Page 200, line 27. September 24.
Page 201, line 2. This is incorrect. The Thing was to be held at Stamford Bridge and Harald was to be given there hostages from the whole of Yorkshire. It was for this reason that the battle occurred there.
Page 201, line 11. September 25 (1066).
Page 202, line 32. Legends referring to the battle of Hastings (October 14, 1066) are incorporated in this and the following narrative. It was the Norwegians who fought on horseback, and who used the expedient of pretended flight against the English, and not the reverse: the latter had no horse.
Page 208, line 19. Quite unhistorical.
Page 208, line 34. Svein was killed in 1052.
Page 209, line 4. October 14, 1066.
Page 209, line 24. Walthiof submitted to William immediately after the battle, and became in 1070 Earl of Northumberland. In 1074 he took part in a plot against William and, although he made a timely confession of it, was beheaded outside Winchester in 1075.