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´╗┐Title: Heimskringla, or the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
Author: Snorri Sturluson, 1179?-1241
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Heimskringla, or the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway" ***

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By Snorri Sturlason


Originally written in Old Norse, app. 1225 A.D., by the poet and
historian Snorri Sturlason.


The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas
concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to the year
A.D. 1177.

The Sagas covered in this work are the following:

  1.  Halfdan the Black Saga
  2.  Harald Harfager's Saga
  3.  Hakon the Good's Saga
  4.  Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
  5.  King Olaf Trygvason's Saga
  6.  Saga of Olaf Haraldson (St. Olaf)
  7.  Saga of Magnus the Good
  8.  Saga of Harald Hardrade
  9.  Saga of Olaf Kyrre
  10. Magnus Barefoot's Saga
  11. Saga of Sigurd the Crusader and His Brothers Eystein and Olaf
  12. Saga of Magnus the Blind and of Harald Gille
  13. Saga of Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, the Sons of Harald
  14. Saga of Hakon Herdebreid ("Hakon the Broad-Shouldered")
  15. Magnus Erlingson's Saga

While scholars and historians continue to debate the historical accuracy
of Sturlason's work, the "Heimskringla" is still considered an important
original source for information on the Viking Age, a period which
Sturlason covers almost in its entirety.


In this book I have had old stories written down, as I have heard
them told by intelligent people, concerning chiefs who have have held
dominion in the northern countries, and who spoke the Danish tongue;
and also concerning some of their family branches, according to what
has been told me. Some of this is found in ancient family registers,
in which the pedigrees of kings and other personages of high birth are
reckoned up, and part is written down after old songs and ballads which
our forefathers had for their amusement. Now, although we cannot just
say what truth there may be in these, yet we have the certainty that old
and wise men held them to be true.

Thjodolf of Hvin was the skald of Harald Harfager, and he composed a
poem for King Rognvald the Mountain-high, which is called "Ynglingatal."
This Rognvald was a son of Olaf Geirstadalf, the brother of King Halfdan
the Black. In this poem thirty of his forefathers are reckoned up, and
the death and burial-place of each are given. He begins with Fjolner, a
son of Yngvefrey, whom the Swedes, long after his time, worshipped and
sacrificed to, and from whom the race or family of the Ynglings take
their name.

Eyvind Skaldaspiller also reckoned up the ancestors of Earl Hakon the
Great in a poem called "Haleygjatal", composed about Hakon; and therein
he mentions Saeming, a son of Yngvefrey, and he likewise tells of the
death and funeral rites of each. The lives and times of the Yngling
race were written from Thjodolf's relation enlarged afterwards by the
accounts of intelligent people.

As to funeral rites, the earliest age is called the Age of Burning;
because all the dead were consumed by fire, and over their ashes were
raised standing stones. But after Frey was buried under a cairn at
Upsala, many chiefs raised cairns, as commonly as stones, to the memory
of their relatives.

The Age of Cairns began properly in Denmark after Dan Milkillate had
raised for himself a burial cairn, and ordered that he should be buried
in it on his death, with his royal ornaments and armour, his horse and
saddle-furniture, and other valuable goods; and many of his descendants
followed his example. But the burning of the dead continued, long after
that time, to be the custom of the Swedes and Northmen. Iceland was
occupied in the time that Harald Harfager was the King of Norway. There
were skalds in Harald's court whose poems the people know by heart even
at the present day, together with all the songs about the kings who have
ruled in Norway since his time; and we rest the foundations of our story
principally upon the songs which were sung in the presence of the chiefs
themselves or of their sons, and take all to be true that is found in
such poems about their feats and battles: for although it be the fashion
with skalds to praise most those in whose presence they are standing,
yet no one would dare to relete to a chief what he, and all those who
heard it, knew to be a false and imaginary, not a true account of his
deeds; because that would be mockery, not praise.


The priest Are Frode (the learned), a son of Thorgils the son of Geller,
was the first man in this country who wrote down in the Norse language
narratives of events both old and new. In the beginning of his book he
wrote principally about the first settlements in Iceland, the laws and
government, and next of the lagmen, and how long each had administered
the law; and he reckoned the years at first, until the time when
Christianity was introduced into Iceland, and afterwards reckoned from
that to his own times. To this he added many other subjects, such as
the lives and times of kings of Norway and Denmark, and also of England;
beside accounts of great events which have taken place in this country
itself. His narratives are considered by many men of knowledge to be the
most remarkable of all; because he was a man of good understanding,
and so old that his birth was as far back as the year after Harald
Sigurdson's fall. He wrote, as he himself says, the lives and times of
the kings of Norway from the report of Od Kolson, a grandson of Hal of
Sida. Od again took his information from Thorgeir Afradskol, who was an
intelligent man, and so old that when Earl Hakon the Great was killed
he was dwelling at Nidarnes--the same place at which King Olaf Trygvason
afterwards laid the foundation of the merchant town of Nidaros (i.e.,
Throndhjem) which is now there. The priest Are came, when seven years
old, to Haukadal to Hal Thorarinson, and was there fourteen years. Hal
was a man of great knowledge and of excellent memory; and he could even
remember being baptized, when he was three years old, by the priest
Thanghrand, the year before Christianity was established by law in
Iceland. Are was twelve years of age when Bishop Isleif died, and at
his death eighty years had elapsed since the fall of Olaf Trygvason. Hal
died nine years later than Bishop Isleif, and had attained nearly the
age of ninety-four years. Hal had traded between the two countries, and
had enjoyed intercourse with King Olaf the Saint, by which he had
gained greatly in reputation, and he had become well acquainted with the
kingdom of Norway. He had fixed his residence in Haukadal when he was
thirty years of age, and he had dwelt there sixty-four years, as Are
tells us. Teit, a son of Bishop Isleif, was fostered in the house of
Hal at Haukadal, and afterwards dwelt there himself. He taught Are the
priest, and gave him information about many circumstances which Are
afterwards wrote down. Are also got many a piece of information from
Thurid, a daughter of the gode Snorre. She was wise and intelligent, and
remembered her father Snorre, who was nearly thirty-five years of age
when Christianity was introduced into Iceland, and died a year after
King Olaf the Saint's fall. So it is not wonderful that Are the priest
had good information about ancient events both here in Iceland,
and abroad, being a man anxious for information, intelligent and of
excellent memory, and having besides learned much from old intelligent
persons. But the songs seem to me most reliable if they are sung
correctly, and judiciously interpreted.



Of this saga there are other versions found in "Fagrskinna" and in
"Flateyjarbok". The "Flateyjarbok" version is to a great extent a copy
of Snorre. The story about Halfdan's dream is found both in "Fagrskinna"
and in "Flateyjarbok". The probability is that both Snorre and
the author of "Fagrskinna" must have transcribed the same original


Halfdan was a year old when his father was killed, and his mother Asa
set off immediately with him westwards to Agder, and set herself there
in the kingdom which her father Harald had possessed. Halfdan grew up
there, and soon became stout and strong; and, by reason of his black
hair, was called Halfdan the Black. When he was eighteen years old he
took his kingdom in Agder, and went immediately to Vestfold, where he
divided that kingdom, as before related, with his brother Olaf. The same
autumn he went with an army to Vingulmark against King Gandalf. They had
many battles, and sometimes one, sometimes the other gained the victory;
but at last they agreed that Halfdan should have half of Vingulmark,
as his father Gudrod had had it before. Then King Halfdan proceeded to
Raumarike, and subdued it. King Sigtryg, son of King Eystein, who then
had his residence in Hedemark, and who had subdued Raumarike before,
having heard of this, came out with his army against King Halfdan, and
there was great battle, in which King Halfdan was victorious; and just
as King Sigtryg and his troops were turning about to fly, an arrow
struck him under the left arm, and he fell dead. Halfdan then laid the
whole of Raumarike under his power. King Eystein's second son, King
Sigtryg's brother, was also called Eystein, and was then king in
Hedemark. As soon as Halfdan had returned to Vestfold, King Eystein went
out with his army to Raumarike, and laid the whole country in subjection
to him.


When King Halfdan heard of these disturbances in Raumarike, he again
gathered his army together; and went out against King Eystein. A battle
took place between them, and Halfdan gained the victory, and Eystein
fled up to Hedemark, pursued by Halfdan. Another battle took place, in
which Halfdan was again victorious; and Eystein fled northwards, up
into the Dales to the herse Gudbrand. There he was strengthened with
new people, and in winter he went towards Hedemark, and met Halfdan the
Black upon a large island which lies in the Mjosen lake. There a great
battle was fought, and many people on both sides were slain, but Halfdan
won the victory. There fell Guthorm, the son of the herse Gudbrand, who
was one of the finest men in the Uplands. Then Eystein fled north up the
valley, and sent his relation Halvard Skalk to King Halfdan to beg for
peace. On consideration of their relationship, King Halfdan gave King
Eystein half of Hedemark, which he and his relations had held before;
but kept to himself Thoten, and the district called Land. He likewise
appropriated to himself Hadeland, and thus became a mighty king.


Halfdan the Black got a wife called Ragnhild, a daughter of Harald
Gulskeg (Goldbeard), who was a king in Sogn. They had a son, to whom
Harald gave his own name; and the boy was brought up in Sogn, by his
mother's father, King Harald. Now when this Harald had lived out his
days nearly, and was become weak, having no son, he gave his dominions
to his daughter's son Harald, and gave him his title of king; and he
died soon after. The same winter his daughter Ragnhild died; and the
following spring the young Harald fell sick and died at ten years of
age. As soon as Halfdan the Black heard of his son's death, he took the
road northwards to Sogn with a great force, and was well received. He
claimed the heritage and dominion after his son; and no opposition being
made, he took the whole kingdom. Earl Atle Mjove (the Slender), who was
a friend of King Halfdan, came to him from Gaular; and the king set
him over the Sogn district, to judge in the country according to the
country's laws, and collect scat upon the king's account. Thereafter
King Halfdan proceeded to his kingdom in the Uplands.


In autumn, King Halfdan proceeded to Vingulmark. One night when he was
there in guest quarters, it happened that about midnight a man came to
him who had been on the watch on horseback, and told him a war force was
come near to the house. The king instantly got up, ordered his men to
arm themselves, and went out of the house and drew them up in battle
order. At the same moment, Gandalf's sons, Hysing and Helsing, made
their appearance with a large army. There was a great battle; but
Halfdan being overpowered by the numbers of people fled to the forest,
leaving many of his men on this spot. His foster-father, Olver Spake
(the Wise), fell here. The people now came in swarms to King Halfdan,
and he advanced to seek Gandalf's sons. They met at Eid, near Lake
Oieren, and fought there. Hysing and Helsing fell, and their brother
Hake saved himself by flight. King Halfdan then took possession of the
whole of Vingulmark, and Hake fled to Alfheimar.


Sigurd Hjort was the name of a king in Ringerike, who was stouter and
stronger than any other man, and his equal could not be seen for a
handsome appearance. His father was Helge Hvasse (the Sharp); and his
mother was Aslaug, a daughter of Sigurd the worm-eyed, who again was a
son of Ragnar Lodbrok. It is told of Sigurd that when he was only twelve
years old he killed in single combat the berserk Hildebrand, and eleven
others of his comrades; and many are the deeds of manhood told of him in
a long saga about his feats. Sigurd had two children, one of whom was
a daughter, called Ragnhild, then twenty years of age, and an excellent
brisk girl. Her brother Guthorm was a youth. It is related in regard
to Sigurd's death that he had a custom of riding out quite alone in the
uninhabited forest to hunt the wild beasts that are hurtful to man, and
he was always very eager at this sport. One day he rode out into the
forest as usual, and when he had ridden a long way he came out at a
piece of cleared land near to Hadeland. There the berserk Hake came
against him with thirty men, and they fought. Sigurd Hjort fell there,
after killing twelve of Hake's men; and Hake himself lost one hand, and
had three other wounds. Then Hake and his men rode to Sigurd's house,
where they took his daughter Ragnhild and her brother Guthorm, and
carried them, with much property and valuable articles, home to
Hadeland, where Hake had many great farms. He ordered a feast to be
prepared, intending to hold his wedding with Ragnhild; but the time
passed on account of his wounds, which healed slowly; and the berserk
Hake of Hadeland had to keep his bed, on account of his wounds, all the
autumn and beginning of winter. Now King Halfdan was in Hedemark at the
Yule entertainments when he heard this news; and one morning early, when
the king was dressed, he called to him Harek Gand, and told him to go
over to Hadeland, and bring him Ragnhild, Sigurd Hjort's daughter. Harek
got ready with a hundred men, and made his journey so that they came
over the lake to Hake's house in the grey of the morning, and beset all
the doors and stairs of the places where the house-servants slept. Then
they broke into the sleeping-room where Hake slept, took Ragnhild, with
her brother Guthorm, and all the goods that were there, and set fire
to the house-servants' place, and burnt all the people in it. Then they
covered over a magnificent waggon, placed Ragnhild and Guthorm in it,
and drove down upon the ice. Hake got up and went after them a while;
but when he came to the ice on the lake, he turned his sword-hilt to
the ground and let himself fall upon the point, so that the sword went
through him. He was buried under a mound on the banks of the lake. When
King Halfdan, who was very quick of sight, saw the party returning over
the frozen lake, and with a covered waggon, he knew that their errand
was accomplished according to his desire. Thereupon he ordered the
tables to be set out, and sent people all round in the neighbourhood to
invite plenty of guests; and the same day there was a good feast which
was also Halfdan's marriage-feast with Ragnhild, who became a great
queen. Ragnhild's mother was Thorny, a daughter of Klakharald king in
Jutland, and a sister of Thrye Dannebod who was married to the Danish
king, Gorm the Old, who then ruled over the Danish dominions.


Ragnhild, who was wise and intelligent, dreamt great dreams. She dreamt,
for one, that she was standing out in her herb-garden, and she took a
thorn out of her shift; but while she was holding the thorn in her hand
it grew so that it became a great tree, one end of which struck itself
down into the earth, and it became firmly rooted; and the other end of
the tree raised itself so high in the air that she could scarcely see
over it, and it became also wonderfully thick. The under part of the
tree was red with blood, but the stem upwards was beautifully green and
the branches white as snow. There were many and great limbs to the tree,
some high up, others low down; and so vast were the tree's branches that
they seemed to her to cover all Norway, and even much more.


King Halfdan never had dreams, which appeared to him an extraordinary
circumstance; and he told it to a man called Thorleif Spake (the Wise),
and asked him what his advice was about it. Thorleif said that what he
himself did, when he wanted to have any revelation by dream, was to take
his sleep in a swine-sty, and then it never failed that he had dreams.
The king did so, and the following dream was revealed to him. He thought
he had the most beautiful hair, which was all in ringlets; some so long
as to fall upon the ground, some reaching to the middle of his legs,
some to his knees, some to his loins or the middle of his sides, some
to his neck, and some were only as knots springing from his head. These
ringlets were of various colours; but one ringlet surpassed all the
others in beauty, lustre, and size. This dream he told to Thorleif, who
interpreted it thus:--There should be a great posterity from him, and
his descendants should rule over countries with great, but not all with
equally great, honour; but one of his race should be more celebrated
than all the others. It was the opinion of people that this ringlet
betokened King Olaf the Saint.

King Halfdan was a wise man, a man of truth and uprightness--who made
laws, observed them himself, and obliged others to observe them. And
that violence should not come in place of the laws, he himself fixed
the number of criminal acts in law, and the compensations, mulcts, or
penalties, for each case, according to every one's birth and dignity

Queen Ragnhild gave birth to a son, and water was poured over him, and
the name of Harald given him, and he soon grew stout and remarkably
handsome. As he grew up he became very expert at all feats, and showed
also a good understanding. He was much beloved by his mother, but less
so by his father.


(1) The penalty, compensation, or manbod for every injury, due
     the party injured, or to his family and next of kin if the
     injury was the death or premeditated murder of the party,
     appears to have been fixed for every rank and condition,
     from the murder of the king down to the maiming or beating a
     man's cattle or his slave.  A man for whom no compensation
     was due was a dishonored person, or an outlaw.  It appears
     to have been optional with the injured party, or his kin if
     he had been killed, to take the mulct or compensation, or to
     refuse it, and wait for an opportunity of taking vengeance
     for the injury on the party who inflicted it, or on his kin.
     A part of each mulct or compensation was due to the king;
     and, these fines or penalties appear to have constituted a
     great proportion of the king's revenues, and to have been
     settled in the Things held in every district for
     administering the law with the lagman.--L.


King Halfdan was at a Yule-feast in Hadeland, where a wonderful thing
happened one Yule evening. When the great number of guests assembled
were going to sit down to table, all the meat and all the ale
disappeared from the table. The king sat alone very confused in mind;
all the others set off, each to his home, in consternation. That the
king might come to some certainty about what had occasioned this event,
he ordered a Fin to be seized who was particularly knowing, and tried to
force him to disclose the truth; but however much he tortured the man,
he got nothing out of him. The Fin sought help particularly from Harald,
the king's son, and Harald begged for mercy for him, but in vain. Then
Harald let him escape against the king's will, and accompanied the man
himself. On their journey they came to a place where the man's chief had
a great feast, and it appears they were well received there. When they
had been there until spring, the chief said, "Thy father took it much
amiss that in winter I took some provisions from him,--now I will repay
it to thee by a joyful piece of news: thy father is dead; and now thou
shalt return home, and take possession of the whole kingdom which he
had, and with it thou shalt lay the whole kingdom of Norway under thee."


Halfdan the Black was driving from a feast in Hadeland, and it so
happened that his road lay over the lake called Rand. It was in
spring, and there was a great thaw. They drove across the bight called
Rykinsvik, where in winter there had been a pond broken in the ice for
cattle to drink at, and where the dung had fallen upon the ice the thaw
had eaten it into holes. Now as the king drove over it the ice broke,
and King Halfdan and many with him perished. He was then forty years
old. He had been one of the most fortunate kings in respect of good
seasons. The people thought so much of him, that when his death was
known and his body was floated to Ringerike to bury it there, the people
of most consequence from Raumarike, Vestfold, and Hedemark came to
meet it. All desired to take the body with them to bury it in their own
district, and they thought that those who got it would have good crops
to expect. At last it was agreed to divide the body into four parts. The
head was laid in a mound at Stein in Ringerike, and each of the others
took his part home and laid it in a mound; and these have since been
called Halfdan's Mounds.



Harald (1) was but ten years old when he succeeded his father (Halfdan
the Black). He became a stout, strong, and comely man, and withal
prudent and manly. His mother's brother, Guthorm, was leader of the
hird, at the head of the government, and commander ('hertogi') of the
army. After Halfdan the Black's death, many chiefs coveted the dominions
he had left. Among these King Gandalf was the first; then Hogne and
Frode, sons of Eystein, king of Hedemark; and also Hogne Karuson came
from Ringerike. Hake, the son of Gandalf, began with an expedition of
300 men against Vestfold, marched by the main road through some valleys,
and expected to come suddenly upon King Harald; while his father Gandalf
sat at home with his army, and prepared to cross over the fiord into
Vestfold. When Duke Guthorm heard of this he gathered an army, and
marched up the country with King Harald against Hake. They met in
a valley, in which they fought a great battle, and King Harald was
victorious; and there fell King Hake and most of his people. The place
has since been called Hakadale. Then King Harald and Duke Guthorm turned
back, but they found King Gandalf had come to Vestfold. The two armies
marched against each other, and met, and had a great battle; and it
ended in King Gandalf flying, after leaving most of his men dead on the
spot, and in that state he came back to his kingdom. Now when the sons
of King Eystein in Hedemark heard the news, they expected the war would
come upon them, and they sent a message to Hogne Karuson and to Herse
Gudbrand, and appointed a meeting with them at Ringsaker in Hedemark.

   ENDNOTES: (1) The first twenty chapters of this saga refer to Harald's
     youth and his conquest of Norway.  This portion of the saga
     is of great importance to the Icelanders, as the settlement
     of their Isle was a result of Harald's wars.  The second
     part of the saga (chaps. 21-46) treats of the disputes
     between Harald's sons, of the jarls of Orkney, and of the
     jarls of More.  With this saga we enter the domain of


After the battle King Harald and Guthorm turned back, and went with all
the men they could gather through the forests towards the Uplands. They
found out where the Upland kings had appointed their meeting-place, and
came there about the time of midnight, without the watchmen observing
them until their army was before the door of the house in which Hogne
Karuson was, as well as that in which Gudbrand slept. They set fire to
both houses; but King Eystein's two sons slipped out with their men, and
fought for a while, until both Hogne and Frode fell. After the fall of
these four chiefs, King Harald, by his relation Guthorm's success and
powers, subdued Hedemark, Ringerike, Gudbrandsdal, Hadeland, Thoten,
Raumarike, and the whole northern part of Vingulmark. King Harald and
Guthorm had thereafter war with King Gandalf, and fought several battles
with him; and in the last of them King Gandalf was slain, and King
Harald took the whole of his kingdom as far south as the river Raum.


King Harald sent his men to a girl called Gyda, daughter of King Eirik
of Hordaland, who was brought up as foster-child in the house of a great
bonde in Valdres. The king wanted her for his concubine; for she was
a remarkably handsome girl, but of high spirit withal. Now when the
messengers came there, and delivered their errand to the girl, she
answered, that she would not throw herself away even to take a king
for her husband, who had no greater kingdom to rule over than a few
districts. "And methinks," said she, "it is wonderful that no king here
in Norway will make the whole country subject to him, in the same way as
Gorm the Old did in Denmark, or Eirik at Upsala." The messengers thought
her answer was dreadfully haughty, and asked what she thought would come
of such an answer; for Harald was so mighty a man, that his invitation
was good enough for her. But although she had replied to their errand
differently from what they wished, they saw no chance, on this occasion,
of taking her with them against her will; so they prepared to return.
When they were ready, and the people followed them out, Gyda said to the
messengers, "Now tell to King Harald these my words. I will only agree
to be his lawful wife upon the condition that he shall first, for my
sake, subject to himself the whole of Norway, so that he may rule
over that kingdom as freely and fully as King Eirik over the Swedish
dominions, or King Gorm over Denmark; for only then, methinks, can he be
called the king of a people."


Now came the messengers back to King Harald, bringing him the words of
the girl, and saying she was so bold and foolish that she well deserved
that the king should send a greater troop of people for her, and inflict
on her some disgrace. Then answered the king, "This girl has not spoken
or done so much amiss that she should be punished, but rather she should
be thanked for her words. She has reminded me," said he, "of something
which it appears to me wonderful I did not think of before. And now,"
added he, "I make the solemn vow, and take God to witness, who made me
and rules over all things, that never shall I clip or comb my hair
until I have subdued the whole of Norway, with scat (1), and duties, and
domains; or if not, have died in the attempt." Guthorm thanked the
king warmly for his vow; adding, that it was royal work to fulfil royal

   ENDNOTES: (1) Scat was a land-tax, paid to the king in money, malt,
     meal, or flesh-meat, from all lands, and was adjudged by the Thing
     to each king upon his accession, and being proposed and
     accepted as king.


After this the two relations gather together a great force, and
prepare for an expedition to the Uplands, and northwards up the valley
(Gudbrandsdal), and north over Dovrefjeld; and when the king came
down to the inhabited land he ordered all the men to be killed, and
everything wide around to be delivered to the flames. And when the
people came to know this, they fled every one where he could; some down
the country to Orkadal, some to Gaulardal, some to the forests. But some
begged for peace, and obtained it, on condition of joining the king and
becoming his men. He met no opposition until he came to Orkadal. There
a crowd of people had assembled, and he had his first battle with a
king called Gryting. Harald won the victory, and King Gryting was made
prisoner, and most of his people killed. He took service himself under
the king, and swore fidelity to him. Thereafter all the people in Orkadal
district went under King Harald, and became his men.


King Harald made this law over all the lands he conquered, that all the
udal property should belong to him; and that the bondes, both great
and small, should pay him land dues for their possessions. Over every
district he set an earl to judge according to the law of the land and to
justice, and also to collect the land dues and the fines; and for this
each earl received a third part of the dues, and services, and fines,
for the support of his table and other expenses. Each earl had under him
four or more herses, each of whom had an estate of twenty marks yearly
income bestowed on him and was bound to support twenty men-at-arms, and
the earl sixty men, at their own expenses. The king had increased the
land dues and burdens so much, that each of his earls had greater power
and income than the kings had before; and when that became known at
Throndhjem, many great men joined the king and took his service.


It is told that Earl Hakon Grjotgardson came to King Harald from Yrjar,
and brought a great crowd of men to his service. Then King Harald went
into Gaulardal, and had a great battle, in which he slew two kings, and
conquered their dominions; and these were Gaulardal district and Strind
district. He gave Earl Hakon Strind district to rule over as earl. King
Harald then proceeded to Stjoradal, and had a third battle, in which
he gained the victory, and took that district also. There upon the
Throndhjem people assembled, and four kings met together with their
troops. The one ruled over Veradal, the second over Skaun, third over
the Sparbyggja district, and the fourth over Eyin Idre (Inderoen); and
this latter had also Eyna district. These four kings marched with their
men against King Harald, but he won the battle; and some of these kings
fell, and some fled. In all, King Harald fought at the least eight
battles, and slew eight kings, in the Throndhjem district, and laid the
whole of it under him.


North in Naumudal were two brothers, kings,--Herlaug and Hrollaug; and
they had been for three summers raising a mound or tomb of stone and
lime and of wood. Just as the work was finished, the brothers got the
news that King Harald was coming upon them with his army. Then King
Herlaug had a great quantity of meat and drink brought into the mound,
and went into it himself, with eleven companions, and ordered the mound
to be covered up. King Hrollaug, on the contrary, went upon the summit
of the mound, on which the kings were wont to sit, and made a throne to
be erected, upon which he seated himself. Then he ordered feather-beds
to be laid upon the bench below, on which the earls were wont to be
seated, and threw himself down from his high seat or throne into the
earl's seat, giving himself the title of earl. Now Hrollaug went to meet
King Harald, gave up to him his whole kingdom, offered to enter into
his service, and told him his whole proceeding. Then took King Harald a
sword, fastened it to Hrollaug's belt, bound a shield to his neck,
and made him thereupon an earl, and led him to his earl's seat; and
therewith gave him the district Naumudal, and set him as earl over it
((A.D. 866)). (1)

   ENDNOTES: (1) Before writing was in general use, this symbolical way of
     performing all important legal acts appears to have entered
     into the jurisprudence of all savage nations; and according
     to Gibbon, chap. 44, "the jurisprudence of the first Romans
     exhibited the scenes of a pantomime; the words were adapted
     to the gestures, and the slightest error or neglect in the
     forms of proceeding was sufficient to annul the substance of
     the fairest claims."--Ed.


King Harald then returned to Throndhjem, where he dwelt during the
winter, and always afterwards called it his home. He fixed here his
head residence, which is called Lade. This winter he took to wife Asa, a
daughter of Earl Hakon Grjotgardson, who then stood in great favour and
honour with the king. In spring the king fitted out his ships. In
winter he had caused a great frigate (a dragon) to be built, and had it
fitted-out in the most splendid way, and brought his house-troops and
his berserks on board. The forecastle men were picked men, for they had
the king's banner. From the stem to the mid-hold was called rausn,
or the fore-defence; and there were the berserks. Such men only were
received into King Harald's house-troop as were remarkable for strength,
courage, and all kinds of dexterity; and they alone got place in his
ship, for he had a good choice of house-troops from the best men of
every district. King Harald had a great army, many large ships, and many
men of might followed him. Hornklofe, in his poem called "Glymdrapa",
tells of this; and also that King Harald had a battle with the people of
Orkadal, at Opdal forest, before he went upon this expedition.

     "O'er the broad heath the bowstrings twang,
     While high in air the arrows sang.
     The iron shower drives to flight
     The foeman from the bloody fight.
     The warder of great Odin's shrine,
     The fair-haired son of Odin's line,
     Raises the voice which gives the cheer,
     First in the track of wolf or bear.
     His master voice drives them along
     To Hel--a destined, trembling throng;
     And Nokve's ship, with glancing sides,
     Must fly to the wild ocean's tides.--
     Must fly before the king who leads
     Norse axe-men on their ocean steeds."


King Harald moved out with his army from Throndhjem, and went southwards
to More. Hunthiof was the name of the king who ruled over the district
of More. Solve Klofe was the name of his son, and both were great
warriors. King Nokve, who ruled over Raumsdal, was the brother of
Solve's mother. Those chiefs gathered a great force when they heard of
King Harald, and came against him. They met at Solskel, and there was
a great battle, which was gained by King Harald (A.D. 867). Hornklofe
tells of this battle:--

     "Thus did the hero known to fame,
     The leader of the shields, whose name
     Strikes every heart with dire dismay,
     Launch forth his war-ships to the fray.
     Two kings he fought; but little strife
     Was needed to cut short their life.
     A clang of arms by the sea-shore,--
     And the shields' sound was heard no more."

The two kings were slain, but Solve escaped by flight; and King Harald
laid both districts under his power. He stayed here long in summer to
establish law and order for the country people, and set men to rule
them, and keep them faithful to him; and in autumn he prepared to
return northwards to Throndhjem. Ragnvald Earl of More, a son of Eystein
Glumra, had the summer before become one of Harald's men; and the king
set him as chief over these two districts, North More and Raumsdal;
strengthened him both with men of might and bondes, and gave him
the help of ships to defend the coast against enemies. He was called
Ragnvald the Mighty, or the Wise; and people say both names suited him
well. King Harald came back to Throndhjem about winter.


The following spring (A.D. 868) King Harald raised a great force in
Throndhjem, and gave out that he would proceed to South More. Solve
Klofe had passed the winter in his ships of war, plundering in North
More, and had killed many of King Harald's men; pillaging some places,
burning others, and making great ravage; but sometimes he had been,
during the winter, with his friend King Arnvid in South More. Now when
he heard that King Harald was come with ships and a great army, he
gathered people, and was strong in men-at-arms; for many thought they
had to take vengeance of King Harald. Solve Klofe went southwards to
Firdafylke (the Fjord district), which King Audbjorn ruled over, to ask
him to help, and join his force to King Arnvid's and his own. "For,"
said he, "it is now clear that we all have but one course to take;
and that is to rise, all as one man, against King Harald, for we have
strength enough, and fate must decide the victory; for as to the other
condition of becoming his servants, that is no condition for us, who
are not less noble than Harald. My father thought it better to fall in
battle for his kingdom, than to go willingly into King Harald's service,
or not to abide the chance of weapons like the Naumudal kings." King
Solve's speech was such that King Audbjorn promised his help, and
gathered a great force together and went with it to King Arnvid, and
they had a great army. Now, they got news that King Harald was come from
the north, and they met within Solskel. And it was the custom to lash
the ships together, stem to stem; so it was done now. King Harald laid
his ship against King Arnvid's, and there was the sharpest fight, and
many men fell on both sides. At last King Harald was raging with anger,
and went forward to the fore-deck, and slew so dreadfully that all the
forecastle men of Arnvid's ship were driven aft of the mast, and some
fell. Thereupon Harald boarded the ship, and King Arnvid's men tried to
save themselves by flight, and he himself was slain in his ship. King
Audbjorn also fell; but Solve fled. So says Hornklofe:--

     "Against the hero's shield in vain
     The arrow-storm fierce pours its rain.
     The king stands on the blood-stained deck,
     Trampling on many a stout foe's neck;
     And high above the dinning stound
     Of helm and axe, and ringing sound
     Of blade and shield, and raven's cry,
     Is heard his shout of 'Victory!'"

Of King Harald's men, fell his earls Asgaut and Asbjorn, together with
his brothers-in-law, Grjotgard and Herlaug, the sons of Earl Hakon of
Lade. Solve became afterwards a great sea-king, and often did great
damage in King Harald's dominions.


After this battle (A.D. 868) King Harald subdued South More; but Vemund,
King Audbjorn's brother, still had Firdafylke. It was now late in
harvest, and King Harald's men gave him the counsel not to proceed
south-wards round Stad. Then King Harald set Earl Ragnvald over South
and North More and also Raumsdal, and he had many people about him. King
Harald returned to Throndhjem. The same winter (A.D. 869) Ragnvald went
over Eid, and southwards to the Fjord district. There he heard news of
King Vemund, and came by night to a place called Naustdal, where King
Vemund was living in guest-quarters. Earl Ragnvald surrounded the house
in which they were quartered, and burnt the king in it, together with
ninety men. The came Berdlukare to Earl Ragnvald with a complete armed
long-ship, and they both returned to More. The earl took all the ships
Vemund had, and all the goods he could get hold of. Berdlukare proceeded
north to Throndhjem to King Harald, and became his man; and dreadful
berserk he was.


The following spring (A.D. 869) King Harald went southwards with his
fleet along the coast, and subdued Firdafylke. Then he sailed eastward
along the land until he came to Vik; but he left Earl Hakon Grjotgardson
behind, and set him over the Fjord district. Earl Hakon sent word to
Earl Atle Mjove that he should leave Sogn district, and be earl over
Gaular district, as he had been before, alleging that King Harald had
given Sogn district to him. Earl Atle sent word that he would keep both
Sogn district and Gaular district, until he met King Harald. The two
earls quarreled about this so long, that both gathered troops. They met
at Fialar, in Stavanger fiord, and had a great battle, in which Earl
Hakon fell, and Earl Atle got a mortal wound, and his men carried him to
the island of Atley, where he died. So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller:--

     "He who stood a rooted oak,
     Unshaken by the swordsman's stroke,
     Amidst the whiz of arrows slain,
     Has fallen upon Fjalar's plain.
     There, by the ocean's rocky shore,
     The waves are stained with the red gore
     Of stout Earl Hakon Grjotgard's son,
     And of brave warriors many a one."


King Harald came with his fleet eastward to Viken and landed at
Tunsberg, which was then a trading town. He had then been four years in
Throndhjem, and in all that time had not been in Viken. Here he heard
the news that Eirik Eymundson, king of Sweden, had laid under him
Vermaland, and was taking scat or land-tax from all the forest settlers;
and also that he called the whole country north to Svinasund, and west
along the sea, West Gautland; and which altogether he reckoned to his
kingdom, and took land-tax from it. Over this country he had set an
earl, by name Hrane Gauzke, who had the earldom between Svinasund and
the Gaut river, and was a mighty earl. And it was told to King Harald
that the Swedish king said he would not rest until he had as great
a kingdom in Viken as Sigurd Hring, or his son Ragnar Lodbrok, had
possessed; and that was Raumarike and Vestfold, all the way to the isle
Grenmar, and also Vingulmark, and all that lay south of it. In all these
districts many chiefs, and many other people, had given obedience to
the Swedish king. King Harald was very angry at this, and summoned the
bondes to a Thing at Fold, where he laid an accusation against them
for treason towards him. Some bondes defended themselves from the
accusation, some paid fines, some were punished. He went thus through
the whole district during the summer, and in harvest he did the same in
Raumarike, and laid the two districts under his power. Towards winter
he heard that Eirik king of Sweden was, with his court, going about in
Vermaland in guest-quarters.


King Harald takes his way across the Eid forest eastward, and comes out
in Vermaland, where he also orders feasts to be prepared for himself.
There was a man by name Ake, who was the greatest of the bondes of
Vermaland, very rich, and at that time very aged. He sent men to King
Harald, and invited him to a feast, and the king promised to come on the
day appointed. Ake invited also King Eirik to a feast, and appointed the
same day. Ake had a great feasting hall, but it was old; and he made a
new hall, not less than the old one, and had it ornamented in the most
splendid way. The new hall he had hung with new hangings, but the old
had only its old ornaments. Now when the kings came to the feast, King
Eirik with his court was taken into the old hall; but Harald with
his followers into the new. The same difference was in all the table
furniture, and King Eirik and his men had the old-fashioned vessels and
horns, but all gilded and splendid; while King Harald and his men
had entirely new vessels and horns adorned with gold, all with carved
figures, and shining like glass; and both companies had the best of
liquor. Ake the bonde had formerly been King Halfdan the Black s man.
Now when daylight came, and the feast was quite ended, and the kings
made themselves ready for their journey, and the horses were saddled,
came Ake before King Harald, leading in his hand his son Ubbe, a boy of
twelve years of age, and said, "If the goodwill I have shown to thee,
sire, in my feast, be worth thy friendship, show it hereafter to my son.
I give him to thee now for thy service." The king thanked him with many
agreeable words for his friendly entertainment, and promised him his
full friendship in return. Then Ake brought out great presents, which he
gave to the king, and they gave each other thereafter the parting kiss.
Ake went next to the Swedish king, who was dressed and ready for the
road, but not in the best humour. Ake gave to him also good and valuable
gifts; but the king answered only with few words, and mounted his horse.
Ake followed the king on the road and talked with him. The road led
through a wood which was near to the house; and when Ake came to
the wood, the king said to him, "How was it that thou madest such
a difference between me and King Harald as to give him the best of
everything, although thou knowest thou art my man?" "I think" answered
Ake, "that there failed in it nothing, king, either to you or to your
attendants, in friendly entertainment at this feast. But that all the
utensils for your drinking were old, was because you are now old; but
King Harald is in the bloom of youth, and therefore I gave him the new
things. And as to my being thy man, thou art just as much my man." On
this the king out with his sword, and gave Ake his deathwound. King
Harald was ready now also to mount his horse, and desired that Ake
should be called. The people went to seek him; and some ran up the road
that King Eirik had taken, and found Ake there dead. They came back, and
told the news to King Harald, and he bids his men to be up, and avenge
Ake the bonde. And away rode he and his men the way King Eirik had
taken, until they came in sight of each other. Each for himself rode as
hard as he could, until Eirik came into the wood which divides Gautland
and Vermaland. There King Harald wheels about, and returns to Vermaland,
and lays the country under him, and kills King Eirik's men wheresoever
he can find them. In winter King Harald returned to Raumarike, and dwelt
there a while.


King Harald went out in winter to his ships at Tunsberg, rigged them,
and sailed away eastward over the fiord, and subjected all Vingulmark
to his dominion. All winter he was out with his ships, and marauded in
Ranrike; so says Thorbjorn Hornklofe:--

     "The Norseman's king is on the sea,
     Tho' bitter wintry cold it be.--
     On the wild waves his Yule keeps he.
     When our brisk king can get his way,
     He'll no more by the fireside stay
     Than the young sun; he makes us play
     The game of the bright sun-god Frey.
     But the soft Swede loves well the fire
     The well-stuffed couch, the doway glove,
     And from the hearth-seat will not move."

The Gautlanders gathered people together all over the country.


In spring, when the ice was breaking up, the Gautlanders drove stakes
into the Gaut river to hinder King Harald with his ships from coming
to the land. But King Harald laid his ships alongside the stakes, and
plundered the country, and burnt all around; so says Horn klofe:--

     "The king who finds a dainty feast,
     For battle-bird and prowling beast,
     Has won in war the southern land
     That lies along the ocean's strand.
     The leader of the helmets, he
     Who leads his ships o'er the dark sea,
     Harald, whose high-rigged masts appear
     Like antlered fronts of the wild deer,
     Has laid his ships close alongside
     Of the foe's piles with daring pride."

Afterwards the Gautlanders came down to the strand with a great army,
and gave battle to King Harald, and great was the fall of men. But it
was King Harald who gained the day. Thus says Hornklofe:--

     "Whistles the battle-axe in its swing
     O'er head the whizzing javelins sing,
     Helmet and shield and hauberk ring;
     The air-song of the lance is loud,
     The arrows pipe in darkening cloud;
     Through helm and mail the foemen feel
     The blue edge of our king's good steel
     Who can withstand our gallant king?
     The Gautland men their flight must wing."


King Harald went far and wide through Gautland, and many were the
battles he fought there on both sides of the river, and in general he
was victorious. In one of these battles fell Hrane Gauzke; and then the
king took his whole land north of the river and west of the Veneren, and
also Vermaland. And after he turned back there-from, he set Duke Guthorm
as chief to defend the country, and left a great force with him. King
Harald himself went first to the Uplands, where he remained a while, and
then proceeded northwards over the Dovrefjeld to Throndhjem, where he
dwelt for a long time. Harald began to have children. By Asa he had four
sons. The eldest was Guthorm. Halfdan the Black and Halfdan the
White were twins. Sigfrod was the fourth. They were all brought up in
Throndhjem with all honour.


News came in from the south land that the people of Hordaland and
Rogaland, Agder and Thelemark, were gathering, and bringing together
ships and weapons, and a great body of men. The leaders of this were
Eirik king of Hordaland; Sulke king of Rogaland, and his brother Earl
Sote: Kjotve the Rich, king of Agder, and his son Thor Haklang; and from
Thelemark two brothers, Hroald Hryg and Had the Hard. Now when Harald
got certain news of this, he assembled his forces, set his ships on the
water, made himself ready with his men, and set out southwards along the
coast, gathering many people from every district. King Eirik heard of
this when he same south of Stad; and having assembled all the men he
could expect, he proceeded southwards to meet the force which he knew
was coming to his help from the east. The whole met together north of
Jadar, and went into Hafersfjord, where King Harald was waiting with his
forces. A great battle began, which was both hard and long; but at last
King Harald gained the day. There King Eirik fell, and King Sulke, with
his brother Earl Sote. Thor Haklang, who was a great berserk, had
laid his ship against King Harald's, and there was above all measure
a desperate attack, until Thor Haklang fell, and his whole ship was
cleared of men. Then King Kjotve fled to a little isle outside, on which
there was a good place of strength. Thereafter all his men fled, some to
their ships, some up to the land; and the latter ran southwards over the
country of Jadar. So says Hornklofe, viz.:--

     "Has the news reached you?--have you heard
     Of the great fight at Hafersfjord,
     Between our noble king brave Harald
     And King Kjotve rich in gold?
     The foeman came from out the East,
     Keen for the fray as for a feast.
     A gallant sight it was to see
     Their fleet sweep o'er the dark-blue sea:
     Each war-ship, with its threatening throat
     Of dragon fierce or ravenous brute (1)
     Grim gaping from the prow; its wales
     Glittering with burnished shields, (2) like scales
     Its crew of udal men of war,
     Whose snow-white targets shone from far
     And many a mailed spearman stout
     From the West countries round about,
     English and Scotch, a foreign host,
     And swordamen from the far French coast.
     And as the foemen's ships drew near,
     The dreadful din you well might hear
     Savage berserks roaring mad,
     And champions fierce in wolf-skins clad, (3)
     Howling like wolves; and clanking jar
     Of many a mail-clad man of war.
     Thus the foe came; but our brave king
     Taught them to fly as fast again.
     For when he saw their force come o'er,
     He launched his war-ships from the shore.
     On the deep sea he launched his fleet
     And boldly rowed the foe to meet.
     Fierce was the shock, and loud the clang
     Of shields, until the fierce Haklang,
     The foeman's famous berserk, fell.
     Then from our men burst forth the yell
     Of victory, and the King of Gold
     Could not withstand our Harald bold,
     But fled before his flaky locks
     For shelter to the island rocks.
     All in the bottom of the ships
     The wounded lay, in ghastly heaps;
     Backs up and faces down they lay
     Under the row-seats stowed away;
     And many a warrior's shield, I ween
     Might on the warrior's back be seen,
     To shield him as he fled amain
     From the fierce stone-storm's pelting rain.
     The mountain-folk, as I've heard say,
     Ne'er stopped as they ran from the fray,
     Till they had crossed the Jadar sea,
     And reached their homes--so keen each soul
     To drown his fright in the mead bowl."

   ENDNOTES: (1) The war-ships were called dragons, from being decorated
     with the head of a dragon, serpent, or other wild animal; and the
     word "draco" was adopted in the Latin of the Middle Ages to
     denote a ship of war of the larger class.  The snekke was
     the cutter or smaller war-ship.--L.
(2) The shields were hung over the side-rails of the ships.--L.
(3) The wolf-skin pelts were nearly as good as armour against
     the sword.


After this battle King Harald met no opposition in Norway, for all his
opponents and greatest enemies were cut off. But some, and they were a
great multitude, fled out of the country, and thereby great districts
were peopled. Jemtaland and Helsingjaland were peopled then, although
some Norwegians had already set up their habitation there. In the
discontent that King Harald seized on the lands of Norway, the
out-countries of Iceland and the Farey Isles were discovered and
peopled. The Northmen had also a great resort to Hjaltland (Shetland
Isles) and many men left Norway, flying the country on account of King
Harald, and went on viking cruises into the West sea. In winter they
were in the Orkney Islands and Hebrides; but marauded in summer in
Norway, and did great damage. Many, however, were the mighty men who
took service under King Harald, and became his men, and dwelt in the
land with him.


When King Harald had now become sole king over all Norway, he remembered
what that proud girl had said to him; so he sent men to her, and had her
brought to him, and took her to his bed. And these were their children:
Alof--she was the eldest; then was their son Hrorek; then Sigtryg,
Frode, and Thorgils. King Harald had many wives and many children. Among
them he had one wife, who was called Ragnhild the Mighty, a daughter of
King Eirik, from Jutland; and by her he had a son, Eirik Blood-axe. He
was also married to Svanhild, a daughter of Earl Eystein; and their sons
were Olaf Geirstadaalf, Bjorn and Ragnar Rykkil. Lastly, King Harald
married Ashild, a daughter of Hring Dagson, up in Ringerike; and their
children were, Dag, Hring, Gudrod Skiria, and Ingigerd. It is told that
King Harald put away nine wives when he married Ragnhild the Mighty. So
says Hornklofe:--

     "Harald, of noblest race the head,
     A Danish wife took to his bed;
     And out of doors nine wives he thrust,--
     The mothers of the princes first.
     Who 'mong Holmrygians hold command,
     And those who rule in Hordaland.
     And then he packed from out the place
     The children born of Holge's race."

King Harald's children were all fostered and brought up by their
relations on the mother's side. Guthorm the Duke had poured water over
King Harald's eldest son and had given him his own name. He set the
child upon his knee, and was his foster-father, and took him with
himself eastward to Viken, and there he was brought up in the house of
Guthorm. Guthorm ruled the whole land in Viken and the Uplands, when
King Harald was absent.


King Harald heard that the vikings, who were in the West sea in winter,
plundered far and wide in the middle part of Norway; and therefore every
summer he made an expedition to search the isles and out-skerries (1) on
the coast. Wheresoever the vikings heard of him they all took to flight,
and most of them out into the open ocean. At last the king grew weary of
this work, and therefore one summer he sailed with his fleet right out
into the West sea. First he came to Hjaltland (Shetland), and he slew
all the vikings who could not save themselves by flight. Then King
Harald sailed southwards, to the Orkney Islands, and cleared them all
of vikings. Thereafter he proceeded to the Sudreys (Hebrides), plundered
there, and slew many vikings who formerly had had men-at-arms under
them. Many a battle was fought, and King Harald was always victorious.
He then plundered far and wide in Scotland itself, and had a battle
there. When he was come westward as far as the Isle of Man, the report
of his exploits on the land had gone before him; for all the inhabitants
had fled over to Scotland, and the island was left entirely bare both
of people and goods, so that King Harald and his men made no booty when
they landed. So says Hornklofe:--

     "The wise, the noble king, great
     Whose hand so freely scatters gold,
     Led many a northern shield to war
     Against the town upon the shore.
     The wolves soon gathered on the sand
     Of that sea-shore; for Harald's hand
     The Scottish army drove away,
     And on the coast left wolves a prey."

In this war fell Ivar, a son of Ragnvald, Earl of More; and King Harald
gave Ragnvald, as a compensation for the loss, the Orkney and Shetland
isles, when he sailed from the West; but Ragnvald immediately gave both
these countries to his brother Sigurd, who remained behind them; and
King Harald, before sailing eastward, gave Sigurd the earldom of them.
Thorstein the Red, a son of Olaf the White and of Aud the Wealthy,
entered into partnership with him; and after plundering in Scotland,
they subdued Caithness and Sutherland, as far as Ekkjalsbakke. Earl
Sigurd killed Melbridge Tooth, a Scotch earl, and hung his head to his
stirrup-leather; but the calf of his leg were scratched by the teeth,
which were sticking out from the head, and the wound caused inflammation
in his leg, of which the earl died, and he was laid in a mound at
Ekkjalsbakke. His son Guthorm ruled over these countries for about a
year thereafter, and died without children. Many vikings, both Danes and
Northmen, set themselves down then in those countries.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Skerries are the uninhabited dry or halt-tide rocks of a


After King Harald had subdued the whole land, he was one day at a feast
in More, given by Earl Ragnvald. Then King Harald went into a bath, and
had his hair dressed. Earl Ragnvald now cut his hair, which had been
uncut and uncombed for ten years; and therefore the king had been called
Lufa (i.e., with rough matted hair). But then Earl Ragnvald gave him the
distinguishing name--Harald Harfager (i.e., fair hair); and all who saw
him agreed that there was the greatest truth in the surname, for he had
the most beautiful and abundant head of hair.


Earl Ragnvald was King Harald's dearest friend, and the king had the
greatest regard for him. He was married to Hild, a daughter of Rolf
Nefia, and their sons were Rolf and Thorer. Earl Ragnvald had also three
sons by concubines,--the one called Hallad, the second Einar, the third
Hrollaug; and all three were grown men when their brothers born in
marriage were still children Rolf became a great viking, and was of so
stout a growth that no horse could carry him, and wheresoever he went he
must go on foot; and therefore he was called Rolf Ganger. He plundered
much in the East sea. One summer, as he was coming from the eastward on
a viking's expedition to the coast of Viken, he landed there and made
a cattle foray. As King Harald happened, just at that time, to be in
Viken, he heard of it, and was in a great rage; for he had forbid,
by the greatest punishment, the plundering within the bounds of the
country. The king assembled a Thing, and had Rolf declared an outlaw
over all Norway. When Rolf's mother, Hild heard of it she hastened to
the king, and entreated peace for Rolf; but the king was so enraged that
here entreaty was of no avail. Then Hild spake these lines:--

     "Think'st thou, King Harald, in thy anger,
     To drive away my brave Rolf Ganger
     Like a mad wolf, from out the land?
     Why, Harald, raise thy mighty hand?
     Why banish Nefia's gallant name-son,
     The brother of brave udal-men?
     Why is thy cruelty so fell?
     Bethink thee, monarch, it is ill
     With such a wolf at wolf to play,
     Who, driven to the wild woods away
     May make the king's best deer his prey."

Rolf Ganger went afterwards over sea to the West to the Hebrides, or
Sudreys; and at last farther west to Valland, where he plundered and
subdued for himself a great earldom, which he peopled with Northmen,
from which that land is called Normandy. Rolf Ganger's son was William,
father to Richard, and grandfather to another Richard, who was the
father of Robert Longspear, and grandfather of William the Bastard, from
whom all the following English kings are descended. From Rolf Ganger
also are descended the earls in Normandy. Queen Ragnhild the Mighty
lived three years after she came to Norway; and, after her death, her
son and King Harald's was taken to the herse Thorer Hroaldson, and Eirik
was fostered by him.


King Harald, one winter, went about in guest-quarters in the Uplands,
and had ordered a Christmas feast to be prepared for him at the farm
Thoptar. On Christmas eve came Svase to the door, just as the king went
to table, and sent a message to the king to ask if he would go out with
him. The king was angry at such a message, and the man who had brought
it in took out with him a reply of the king's displeasure. But Svase,
notwithstanding, desired that his message should be delivered a second
time; adding to it, that he was the Fin whose hut the king had promised
to visit, and which stood on the other side of the ridge. Now the king
went out, and promised to go with him, and went over the ridge to his
hut, although some of his men dissuaded him. There stood Snaefrid, the
daughter of Svase, a most beautiful girl; and she filled a cup of
mead for the king. But he took hold both of the cup and of her hand.
Immediately it was as if a hot fire went through his body; and he wanted
that very night to take her to his bed. But Svase said that should not
be unless by main force, if he did not first make her his lawful
wife. Now King Harald made Snaefrid his lawful wife, and loved her so
passionately that he forgot his kingdom, and all that belonged to his
high dignity. They had four sons: the one was Sigurd Hrise; the others
Halfdan Haleg, Gudrod Ljome and Ragnvald Rettilbeine. Thereafter
Snaefrid died; but her corpse never changed, but was as fresh and red
as when she lived. The king sat always beside her, and thought she
would come to life again. And so it went on for three years that he
was sorrowing over her death, and the people over his delusion. At
last Thorleif the Wise succeeded, by his prudence, in curing him of his
delusion by accosting him thus:--"It is nowise wonderful, king, that
thou grievest over so beautiful and noble a wife, and bestowest costly
coverlets and beds of down on her corpse, as she desired; but these
honours fall short of what is due, as she still lies in the same
clothes. It would be more suitable to raise her, and change her dress."
As soon as the body was raised in the bed all sorts of corruption and
foul smells came from it, and it was necessary in all haste to gather a
pile of wood and burn it; but before this could be done the body turned
blue, and worms, toads, newts, paddocks, and all sorts of ugly reptiles
came out of it, and it sank into ashes. Now the king came to his
understanding again, threw the madness out of his mind, and after that
day ruled his kingdom as before. He was strengthened and made joyful by
his subjects, and his subjects by him and the country by both.


After King Harald had experienced the cunning of the Fin woman, he was
so angry that he drove from him the sons he had with her, and would not
suffer them before his eyes. But one of them, Gudrod Ljome, went to his
foster-father Thjodolf of Hvin, and asked him to go to the king, who was
then in the Uplands; for Thjodolf was a great friend of the king. And
so they went, and came to the king's house late in the evening, and sat
down together unnoticed near the door. The king walked up and down
the floor casting his eye along the benches; for he had a feast in the
house, and the mead was just mixed. The king then murmured out these

     "Tell me, ye aged gray-haired heroes,
     Who have come here to seek repose,
     Wherefore must I so many keep
     Of such a set, who, one and all,
     Right dearly love their souls to steep,
     From morn till night, in the mead-bowl?"

Then Thjodolf replies:--

     "A certain wealthy chief, I think,
     Would gladly have had more to drink
     With him, upon one bloody day,
     When crowns were cracked in our sword-play."

Thjodolf then took off his hat, and the king recognised him, and gave
him a friendly reception. Thjodolf then begged the king not to cast off
his sons; "for they would with great pleasure have taken a better family
descent upon the mother's side, if the king had given it to them." The
king assented, and told him to take Gudrod with him as formerly; and he
sent Halfdan and Sigurd to Ringerike, and Ragnvald to Hadaland, and all
was done as the king ordered. They grew up to be very clever men, very
expert in all exercises. In these times King Harald sat in peace in the
land, and the land enjoyed quietness and good crops.


When Earl Ragnvald in More heard of the death of his brother Earl
Sigurd, and that the vikings were in possession of the country, he sent
his son Hallad westward, who took the title of earl to begin with, and
had many men-at-arms with him. When he arrived at the Orkney Islands,
he established himself in the country; but both in harvest, winter, and
spring, the vikings cruised about the isles plundering the headlands,
and committing depredations on the coast. Then Earl Hallad grew tired
of the business, resigned his earldom, took up again his rights as an
allodial owner, and afterwards returned eastward into Norway. When Earl
Ragnvald heard of this he was ill pleased with Hallad, and said his son
were very unlike their ancestors. Then said Einar, "I have enjoyed but
little honour among you, and have little affection here to lose: now
if you will give me force enough, I will go west to the islands, and
promise you what at any rate will please you--that you shall never see
me again." Earl Ragnvald replied, that he would be glad if he never came
back; "For there is little hope," said he, "that thou will ever be an
honour to thy friends, as all thy kin on thy mother's side are born
slaves." Earl Ragnvald gave Einar a vessel completely equipped, and he
sailed with it into the West sea in harvest. When he came to the Orkney
Isles, two vikings, Thorer Treskeg and Kalf Skurfa, were in his way with
two vessels. He attacked them instantly, gained the battle, and slew the
two vikings. Then this was sung:--

     "Then gave he Treskeg to the trolls,
     Torfeinar slew Skurfa."

He was called Torfeinar, because he cut peat for fuel, there being no
firewood, as in Orkney there are no woods. He afterwards was earl over
the islands, and was a mighty man. He was ugly, and blind of an eye, yet
very sharp-sighted withal.


Duke Guthorm dwelt principally at Tunsberg, and governed the whole of
Viken when the king was not there. He defended the land, which, at that
time, was much plundered by the vikings. There were disturbances also up
in Gautland as long as King Eirik Eymundson lived; but he died when King
Harald Harfager had been ten years king of all Norway.


After Eirik, his son Bjorn was king of Svithjod for fifty years. He was
father of Eirik the Victorious, and of Olaf the father of Styrbjorn.
Guthorm died on a bed of sickness at Tunsberg, and King Harald gave his
son Guthorm the government of that part of his dominions and made him
chief of it.


When King Harald was forty years of age many of his sons were well
advanced, and indeed they all came early to strength and manhood. And
now they began to take it ill that the king would not give them any
part of the kingdom, but put earls into every district; for they thought
earls were of inferior birth to them. Then Halfdan Haleg and Gudrod
Ljome set off one spring with a great force, and came suddenly upon Earl
Ragnvald, earl of More, and surrounded the house in which he was, and
burnt him and sixty men in it. Thereafter Halfdan took three long-ships,
and fitted them out, and sailed into the West sea; but Gudrod set
himself down in the land which Ragnvald formerly had. Now when King
Harald heard this he set out with a great force against Gudrod, who
had no other way left but to surrender, and he was sent to Agder. King
Harald then set Earl Ragnvald's son Thorer over More, and gave him
his daughter Alof, called Arbot, in marriage. Earl Thorer, called the
Silent, got the same territory his father Earl Ragnvald had possessed.


Halfdan Haleg came very unexpectedly to Orkney, and Earl Einar
immediately fled; but came back soon after about harvest time, unnoticed
by Halfdan. They met and after a short battle Halfdan fled the same
night. Einar and his men lay all night without tents, and when it was
light in the morning they searched the whole island and killed every
man they could lay hold of. Then Einar said "What is that I see upon the
isle of Rinansey? Is it a man or a bird? Sometimes it raises itself
up, and sometimes lies down again." They went to it, and found it was
Halfdan Haleg, and took him prisoner.

Earl Einar sang the following song the evening before he went into this

     "Where is the spear of Hrollaug?  where
     Is stout Rolf Ganger's bloody spear!
     I see them not; yet never fear,
     For Einar will not vengeance spare
     Against his father's murderers, though
     Hrollaug and Rolf are somewhat slow,
     And silent Thorer sits add dreams
     At home, beside the mead-bowl's streams."

Thereafter Earl Einar went up to Halfdan, and cut a spread eagle
upon his back, by striking his sword through his back into his belly,
dividing his ribs from the backbone down to his loins, and tearing out
his lungs; and so Halfdan was killed. Einar then sang:--

     "For Ragnvald's death my sword is red:
     Of vengeance it cannot be said
     That Einar's share is left unsped.
     So now, brave boys, let's raise a mound,--
     Heap stones and gravel on the ground
     O'er Halfdan's corpse: this is the way
     We Norsemen our scat duties pay."

Then Earl Einar took possession of the Orkney Isles as before. Now when
these tidings came to Norway, Halfdan's brothers took it much to heart,
and thought that his death demanded vengeance; and many were of the same
opinion. When Einar heard this, he sang:--

     "Many a stout udal-man, I know,
     Has cause to wish my head laid low;
     And many an angry udal knife
     Would gladly drink of Eina's life.
     But ere they lay Earl Einar low,--
     Ere this stout heart betrays its cause,
     Full many a heart will writhe, we know,
     In the wolf's fangs, or eagle's claws."


King Harald now ordered a levy, and gathered a great force, with which
he proceeded westward to Orkney; and when Earl Einar heard that King
Harald was come, he fled over to Caithness. He made the following verses
on this occasion:--

     "Many a bearded man must roam,
     An exile from his house and home,
     For cow or horse; but Halfdan's gore
     Is red on Rinansey's wild shore.
     A nobler deed--on Harald's shield
     The arm of one who ne'er will yield
     Has left a scar.  Let peasants dread
     The vengeance of the Norsemen's head:
     I reck not of his wrath, but sing,
     'Do thy worst!--I defy thee, king!--'"

Men and messages, however, passed between the king and the earl, and at
last it came to a conference; and when they met the earl submitted the
case altogether to the king's decision, and the king condemned the earl
Einar and the Orkney people to pay a fine of sixty marks of gold. As the
bondes thought this was too heavy for them to pay, the earl offered to
pay the whole if they would surrender their udal lands to him. This they
all agreed to do: the poor because they had but little pieces of land;
the rich because they could redeem their udal rights again when they
liked. Thus the earl paid the whole fine to the king, who returned in
harvest to Norway. The earls for a long time afterwards possessed all
the udal lands in Orkney, until Sigurd son of Hlodver gave back the udal


While King Harald's son Guthorm had the defence of Viken, he sailed
outside of the islands on the coast, and came in by one of the mouths
of the tributaries of the Gaut river. When he lay there Solve Klofe came
upon him, and immediately gave him battle, and Guthorm fell. Halfdan the
White and Halfdan the Black went out on an expedition, and plundered
in the East sea, and had a battle in Eistland, where Halfdan the White


Eirik, Harald's son, was fostered in the house of the herse Thorer, son
of Hroald, in the Fjord district. He was the most beloved and honoured
by King Harald of all his sons. When Eirik was twelve years old,
King Harald gave him five long-ships, with which he went on an
expedition,--first in the Baltic; then southwards to Denmark, Friesland,
and Saxland; on which expedition he passed four years. He then sailed
out into the West sea and plundered in Scotland, Bretland, Ireland, and
Valland, and passed four years more in this way. Then he sailed north to
Finmark, and all the way to Bjarmaland, where he had many a battle, and
won many a victory. When he came back to Finmark, his men found a girl
in a Lapland hut, whose equal for beauty they never had seen. She said
her name was Gunhild, and that her father dwelt in Halogaland, and was
called Ozur Tote. "I am here," she said, "to learn sorcery from two of
the most knowing Fins in all Finmark, who are now out hunting. They both
want me in marriage. They are so skilful that they can hunt out traces
either upon the frozen or the thawed earth, like dogs; and they can run
so swiftly on skees that neither man nor beast can come near them in
speed. They hit whatever they take aim at, and thus kill every man
who comes near them. When they are angry the very earth turns away in
terror, and whatever living thing they look upon then falls dead. Now ye
must not come in their way; but I will hide you here in the hut, and ye
must try to get them killed." They agreed to it, and she hid them, and
then took a leather bag, in which they thought there were ashes which
she took in her hand, and strewed both outside and inside of the hut.
Shortly after the Fins came home, and asked who had been there; and she
answered, "Nobody has been here." "That is wonderful," said they, "we
followed the traces close to the hut, and can find none after that."
Then they kindled a fire, and made ready their meat, and Gunhild
prepared her bed. It had so happened that Gunhild had slept the three
nights before, but the Fins had watched the one upon the other, being
jealous of each other. "Now," she said to the Fins, "come here, and lie
down one on each side of me." On which they were very glad to do so. She
laid an arm round the neck of each and they went to sleep directly. She
roused them up; but they fell to sleep again instantly, and so soundly
the she scarcely could waken them. She even raised them up in the bed,
and still they slept. Thereupon she too two great seal-skin bags, and
put their heads in them, and tied them fast under their arms; and then
she gave a wink to the king's men. They run forth with their weapons,
kill the two Fins, and drag them out of the hut. That same night came
such a dreadful thunder-storm that the could not stir. Next morning they
came to the ship, taking Gunhild with them, and presented her to Eirik.
Eirik and his followers then sailed southwards to Halogaland and he sent
word to Ozur Tote, the girl's father, to meet him. Eirik said he would
take his daughter in marriage, to which Ozur Tote consented, and Eirik
took Gunhild and went southwards with her (A.D. 922).


When King Harald was fifty years of age many of his sons were grown up,
and some were dead. Many of them committed acts of great violence in the
country, and were in discord among themselves. They drove some of the
king's earls out of their properties, and even killed some of them.
Then the king called together a numerous Thing in the south part of the
country, and summoned to it all the people of the Uplands. At this
Thing he gave to all his sons the title of king, and made a law that his
descendants in the male line should each succeed to the kingly title and
dignity; but his descendants by the female side only to that of earl.
And he divided the country among them thus:--Vingulmark, Raumarike,
Vestfold and Thelamark, he bestowed on Olaf, Bjorn, Sigtryg, Frode, and
Thorgils. Hedemark and Gudbrandsdal he gave to Dag, Hring, and Ragnar.
To Snaefrid's sons he gave Ringerike, Hadeland, Thoten, and the lands
thereto belonging. His son Guthorm, as before mentioned, he had set over
the country from Glommen to Svinasund and Ranrike. He had set him to
defend the country to the East, as before has been written. King Harald
himself generally dwelt in the middle of the country, and Hrorek and
Gudrod were generally with his court, and had great estates in Hordaland
and in Sogn. King Eirik was also with his father King Harald; and the
king loved and regarded him the most of all his sons, and gave him
Halogaland and North More, and Raumsdal. North in Throndhjem he gave
Halfdan the Black, Halfdan the White, and Sigrod land to rule over. In
each of these districts he gave his sons the one half of his revenues,
together with the right to sit on a high-seat,--a step higher than
earls, but a step lower than his own high-seat. His king's seat each of
his sons wanted for himself after his death, but he himself destined it
for Eirik. The Throndhjem people wanted Halfdan the Black to succeed to
it. The people of Viken, and the Uplands, wanted those under whom they
lived. And thereupon new quarrels arose among the brothers; and because
they thought their dominions too little, they drove about in piratical
expeditions. In this way, as before related, Guthorm fell at the mouth
of the Gaut river, slain by Solve Klofe; upon which Olaf took the
kingdom he had possessed. Halfdan the White fell in Eistland, Halfdan
Haleg in Orkney. King Harald gave ships of war to Thorgils and Frode,
with which they went westward on a viking cruise, and plundered in
Scotland, Ireland, and Bretland. They were the first of the Northmen
who took Dublin. It is said that Frode got poisoned drink there; but
Thorgils was a long time king over Dublin, until he fell into a snare of
the Irish, and was killed.


Eirik Blood-axe expected to be head king over all his brothers and
King Harald intended he should be so; and the father and son lived long
together. Ragnvald Rettilbeine governed Hadaland, and allowed himself to
be instructed in the arts of witchcraft, and became an area warlock.
Now King Harald was a hater of all witchcraft. There was a warlock in
Hordaland called Vitgeir; and when the king sent a message to him that
he should give up his art of witchcraft, he replied in this verse:--

     "The danger surely is not great
     From wizards born of mean estate,
     When Harald's son in Hadeland,
     King Ragnvald, to the art lays hand."

But when King Harald heard this, King Eirik Blood-axe went by his orders
to the Uplands, and came to Hadeland and burned his brother Ragnvald in
a house, along with eighty other warlocks; which work was much praised.


Gudrod Ljome was in winter on a friendly visit to his foster-father
Thjodolf in Hvin, and had a well-manned ship, with which he wanted to go
north to Rogaland. It was blowing a heavy storm at the time; but Gudrod
was bent on sailing, and would not consent to wait. Thjodolf sang

     "Wait, Gudrod, till the storm is past,--
     Loose not thy long-ship while the blast
     Howls over-head so furiously,--
     Trust not thy long-ship to the sea,--
     Loose not thy long-ship from the shore;
     Hark to the ocean's angry roar!
     See how the very stones are tost
     By raging waves high on the coast!
     Stay, Gudrod, till the tempest's o'er--
     Deep runs the sea off the Jadar's shore."

Gudrod set off in spite of what Thjodolf could say: and when they came
off the Jadar the vessel sunk with them, and all on board were lost.


King Harald's son, Bjorn, ruled over Vestfold at that time, and
generally lived at Tunsberg, and went but little on war expeditions.
Tunsberg at that time was much frequented by merchant vessels, both from
Viken and the north country, and also from the south, from Denmark, and
Saxland. King Bjorn had also merchant ships on voyages to other lands,
by which he procured for himself costly articles, and such things as
he thought needful; and therefore his brothers called him Farman
(the Seaman), and Kaupman (the Chapman). Bjorn was a man of sense and
understanding, and promised to become a good ruler. He made a good and
suitable marriage, and had a son by his wife, who was named Gudrod.
Eirik Blood-axe came from his Baltic cruise with ships of war, and
a great force, and required his brother Bjorn to deliver to him King
Harald's share of the scat and incomes of Vestfold. But it had always
been the custom before, that Bjorn himself either delivered the money
into the king's hands, or sent men of his own with it; and therefore
he would continue with the old custom, and would not deliver the
money. Eirik again wanted provisions, tents, and liquor. The brothers
quarrelled about this; but Eirik got nothing and left the town. Bjorn
went also out of the town towards evening up to Saeheim. In the night
Eirik came back after Bjorn, and came to Saeheim just as Bjorn and his
men were seated at table drinking. Eirik surrounded the house in which
they were; but Bjorn with his men went out and fought. Bjorn, and many
men with him, fell. Eirik, on the other hand, got a great booty, and
proceeded northwards. But this work was taken very ill by the people of
Viken, and Eirik was much disliked for it; and the report went that King
Olaf would avenge his brother Bjorn, whenever opportunity offered. King
Bjorn lies in the mound of Farmanshaug at Saeheim.


King Eirik went in winter northwards to More, and was at a feast in
Solve, within the point Agdanes; and when Halfdan the Black heard of it
he set out with his men, and surrounded the house in which they were.
Eirik slept in a room which stood detached by itself, and he escaped
into the forest with four others; but Halfdan and his men burnt the main
house, with all the people who were in it. With this news Eirik came
to King Harald, who was very wroth at it, and assembled a great force
against the Throndhjem people. When Halfdan the Black heard this he
levied ships and men, so that he had a great force, and proceeded
with it to Stad, within Thorsbjerg. King Harald lay with his men at
Reinsletta. Now people went between them, and among others a clever man
called Guthorm Sindre, who was then in Halfdan the Black's army, but had
been formerly in the service of King Harald, and was a great friend of
both. Guthorm was a great skald, and had once composed a song both about
the father and the son, for which they had offered him a reward. But he
would take nothing; but only asked that, some day or other, they should
grant him any request he should make, which they promised to do. Now he
presented himself to King Harald, brought words of peace between them,
and made the request to them both that they should be reconciled. So
highly did the king esteem him, that in consequence of his request they
were reconciled. Many other able men promoted this business as well as
he; and it was so settled that Halfdan should retain the whole of his
kingdom as he had it before, and should let his brother Eirik sit in
peace. After this event Jorun, the skald-maid, composed some verses in
"Sendibit" ("The Biting Message"):--

     "I know that Harald Fairhair
     Knew the dark deed of Halfdan.
     To Harald Halfdan seemed
     Angry and cruel."


Earl Hakon Grjotgardson of Hlader had the whole rule over Throndhjem
when King Harald was anywhere away in the country; and Hakon stood
higher with the king than any in the country of Throndhjem. After
Hakon's death his son Sigurd succeeded to his power in Throndhjem, and
was the earl, and had his mansion at Hlader. King Harald's sons, Halfdan
the Black and Sigrod, who had been before in the house of his father
Earl Hakon, continued to be brought up in his house. The sons of Harald
and Sigurd were about the same age. Earl Sigurd was one of the wisest
men of his time, and married Bergljot, a daughter of Earl Thorer the
Silent; and her mother was Alof Arbot, a daughter of Harald Harfager.
When King Harald began to grow old he generally dwelt on some of his
great farms in Hordaland; namely, Alreksstader or Saeheim, Fitjar,
Utstein, or Ogvaldsnes in the island Kormt. When Harald was seventy
years of age he begat a son with a girl called Thora Mosterstang,
because her family came from Moster. She was descended from good people,
being connected with Kare (Aslakson) of Hordaland; and was moreover
a very stout and remarkably handsome girl. She was called the king's
servant-girl; for at that time many were subject to service to the king
who were of good birth, both men and women. Then it was the custom, with
people of consideration, to choose with great care the man who should
pour water over their children, and give them a name. Now when the time
came that Thora, who was then at Moster, expected her confinement,
she would to King Harald, who was then living at Saeheim; and she went
northwards in a ship belonging to Earl Sigurd. They lay at night close
to the land; and there Thora brought forth a child upon the land, up
among the rocks, close to the ship's gangway, and it was a man child.
Earl Sigurd poured water over him, and called him Hakon, after his own
father, Hakon earl of Hlader. The boy soon grew handsome, large in size,
and very like his father King Harald. King Harald let him follow his
mother, and they were both in the king's house as long as he was an


At this time a king called Aethelstan had taken the Kingdom of England.
He was called victorious and faithful. He sent men to Norway to King
Harald, with the errand that the messengers should present him with a
sword, with the hilt and handle gilt, and also the whole sheath adorned
with gold and silver, and set with precious jewels. The ambassador
presented the sword-hilt to the king, saying, "Here is a sword which
King Athelstan sends thee, with the request that thou wilt accept it."
The king took the sword by the handle; whereupon the ambassador said,
"Now thou hast taken the sword according to our king's desire, and
therefore art thou his subject as thou hast taken his sword." King
Harald saw now that this was an insult, for he would be subject to no
man. But he remembered it was his rule, whenever anything raised his
anger, to collect himself, and let his passion run off, and then take
the matter into consideration coolly. Now he did so, and consulted his
friends, who all gave him the advice to let the ambassadors, in the
first place, go home in safety.


The following summer King Harald sent a ship westward to England, and
gave the command of it to Hauk Habrok. He was a great warrior, and very
dear to the king. Into his hands he gave his son Hakon. Hank proceeded
westward in England, and found King Athelstan in London, where there was
just at the time a great feast and entertainment. When they came to the
hall, Hauk told his men how they should conduct themselves; namely, that
he who went first in should go last out, and all should stand in a row
at the table, at equal distance from each other; and each should have
his sword at his left side, but should fasten his cloak so that his
sword should not be seen. Then they went into the hall, thirty in
number. Hauk went up to the king and saluted him, and the king bade him
welcome. Then Hauk took the child Hakon, and set it on the king's knee.
The king looks at the boy, and asks Hauk what the meaning of this is.
Hauk replies, "Herald the king bids thee foster his servant-girl's
child." The king was in great anger, and seized a sword which lay beside
him, and drew it, as if he was going to kill the child. Hauk says, "Thou
hast borne him on thy knee, and thou canst murder him if thou wilt; but
thou wilt not make an end of all King Harald's sons by so doing." On
that Hauk went out with all his men, and took the way direct to his
ship, and put to sea,--for they were ready,--and came back to King
Harald. The king was highly pleased with this; for it is the common
observation of all people, that the man who fosters another's children
is of less consideration than the other. From these transactions between
the two kings, it appears that each wanted to be held greater than the
other; but in truth there was no injury, to the dignity of either, for
each was the upper king in his own kingdom till his dying day.


King Athelstan had Hakon baptized, and brought up in the right faith,
and in good habits, and all sorts of good manners, and he loved Hakon
above all his relations; and Hakon was beloved by all men. He was
henceforth called Athelstan's foster-son. He was an accomplished skald,
and he was larger, stronger and more beautiful than other men; he was
a man of understanding and eloquence, and also a good Christian. King
Athelstan gave Hakon a sword, of which the hilt and handle were gold,
and the blade still better; for with it Hakon cut down a mill-stone to
the centre eye, and the sword thereafter was called the Quernbite (1).
Better sword never came into Norway, and Hakon carried it to his dying

     (1) Quern is the name of the small hand mill-stones still
     in use among the cottars in Orkney, Shetland, and the
     Hebrides.  This sword is mentioned in the Younger Edda.
     There were many excellent swords in the olden time, and many
     of them had proper names.


When King Harald was eighty years of age (A.D. 930) he became very
heavy, and unable to travel through the country, or do the business of
a king. Then he brought his son Eirik to his high-seat, and gave him the
power and command over the whole land. Now when King Harald's other sons
heard this, King Halfdan the Black also took a king's high-seat, and
took all Throndhjem land, with the consent of all the people, under his
rule as upper king. After the death of Bjorn the Chapman, his brother
Olaf took the command over Vestfold, and took Bjorn's son, Gudrod,
as his foster-child. Olaf's son was called Trygve; and the two
foster-brothers were about the same age, and were hopeful and clever.
Trygve, especially, was remarkable as a stout and strong man. Now when
the people of Viken heard that those of Hordaland had taken Eirik as
upper king, they did the same, and made Olaf the upper king in Viken,
which kingdom he retained. Eirik did not like this at all. Two years
after this, Halfdan the Black died suddenly at a feast in Throndhjem
and the general report was that Gunhild had bribed a witch to give him
a death-drink. Thereafter the Throndhjem people took Sigrod to be their


King Harald lived three years after he gave Eirik the supreme authority
over his kingdom, and lived mostly on his great farms which he
possessed, some in Rogaland, and some in Hordaland. Eirik and Gunhild
had a son on whom King Harald poured water, and gave him his own name,
and the promise that he should be king after his father Eirik. King
Harald married most of his daughters within the country to his earls,
and from them many great families are descended. Harald died on a bed of
sickness in Hogaland (A.D. 933), and was buried under a mound at Haugar
in Karmtsund. In Haugesund is a church, now standing; and not far from
the churchyard, at the north-west side, is King Harald Harfager's mound;
but his grave-stone stands west of the church, and is thirteen feet and
a half high, and two ells broad. One stone was set at head and one at
the feet; on the top lay the slab, and below on both sides were laid
small stones. The grave, mound, and stone, are there to the present day.
Harald Harfager was, according to the report of men of knowledge, or
remarkably handsome appearance, great and strong, and very generous
and affable to his men. He was a great warrior in his youth; and people
think that this was foretold by his mother's dream before his birth,
as the lowest part of the tree she dreamt of was red as blood. The stem
again was green and beautiful, which betokened his flourishing kingdom;
and that the tree was white at the top showed that he should reach a
grey-haired old age. The branches and twigs showed forth his posterity,
spread over the whole land; for of his race, ever since. Norway has
always had kings.


King Eirik took all the revenues (A.D. 934), which the king had in the
middle of the country, the next winter after King Harald's decease. But
Olaf took all the revenues eastward in Viken, and their brother Sigrod
all that of the Throndhjem country. Eirik was very ill pleased with
this; and the report went that he would attempt with force to get the
sole sovereignty over the country, in the same way as his father had
given it to him. Now when Olaf and Sigrod heard this, messengers passed
between them; and after appointing a meeting place, Sigrod went eastward
in spring to Viken, and he and his brother Olaf met at Tunsberg, and
remained there a while. The same spring (A.D. 934), King Eirik levied a
great force, and ships and steered towards Viken. He got such a strong
steady gale that he sailed night and day, and came faster than the news
of him. When he came to Tunsberg, Olaf and Sigrod, with their forces,
went out of the town a little eastward to a ridge, where they drew up
their men in battle order; but as Eirik had many more men he won the
battle. Both brothers, Olaf and Sigrod, fell there; and both their
grave-mounds are upon the ridge where they fell. Then King Eirik went
through Viken, and subdued it, and remained far into summer. Gudrod and
Trygve fled to the Uplands. Eirik was a stout handsome man, strong, and
very manly,--a great and fortunate man of war; but bad-minded, gruff,
unfriendly, and silent. Gunhild, his wife, was the most beautiful
of women,--clever, with much knowledge, and lively; but a very false
person, and very cruel in disposition. The children of King Eirik
and Gunhild were, Gamle, the oldest; then Guthorm, Harald, Ragnfrod,
Ragnhild, Erling, Gudrod, and Sigurd Sleva. All were handsome, and of
manly appearance (1).

   ENDNOTES: (1) Of Eirik, his wife, and children, see the following sagas.



Of Eirik Blood-axe's five years' reign Snorre has no separate saga. He
appears not to have been beloved by the people and his queen Gunhild
seems to have had a bad influence on him.

Other accounts of Hakon may be found in "Fagrskinna" (chaps. 25-34),
"Agrip", "Historia", "Norvegiae", and in "Thjodrek" (chap. 4).

The reader is also referred to "Saxo", "Egla", "Laxdaela", "Kormaks
Saga", "Gisle Surssons Saga", "Halfred's Saga", "Floamanna Saga", "Viga
Glum's Saga", and to "Landnamabok".

Skald mentioned in this Saga are:--Glum Geirason, Thord Sjarekson,
Guthorm Sindre, Kormak Ogmundson, and Eyvind Skaldaspiller. In
the "Egla" are found many poems belonging to this epoch by Egil

In "Fagrskinna" is found a poem (not given by Snorre) which Gunhild (his
wife) had made on King Eirik after his death, telling how Odin welcomed
him to Valhal. The author or skald who composed it is not known, but
it is considered to be one of the gems of old Norse poetry, and we here
quote it in Vigfusson's translation in his "Corpus Poeticum", vol.
i. pp. 260, 261. Gudbrand Vigfusson has filled up a few gaps from
"Hakonarmat", the poem at the end of this Saga. We have changed
Vigfusson's orthography of names, and brought them into harmony with the
spelling used in this work:--Ed.

"Odin wakes in the morning and cries, as he opens his eyes, with his
dream still fresh in his mind:--'What dreams are these? I thought I
arose before daybreak to make Valhal ready for a host of slain. I woke
up the host of the chosen. I bade them ride up to strew the benches, and
to till up the beer-vats, and I bade valkyries to bear the wine, as if
a king were coming. I look for the coming of some noble chiefs from the
earth, wherefore my heart is glad.'

"Brage, Odin's counsellor, now wakes, as a great din is heard without,
and calls out:--'What is that thundering? as if a thousand men or some
great host were tramping on--the walls and the benches are creaking
withal--as if Balder was coming back to the ball of Odin?'

"Odin answers:--'Surely thou speakest foolishly, good Brage, although
thou art very wise. It thunders for Eirik the king, that is coming to
the hall of Odin.'

"Then turning to his heroes, he cries:--'Sigmund and Sinfjotle, rise in
haste and go forth to meet the prince! Bid him in if it be Eirik, for it
is he whom I look for.'

"Sigmund answers:--'Why lookest thou more for Eirik, the king, to Odin's
hall, than for other kings?'

"Odin answers:--'Because he has reddened his brand, and borne his bloody
sword in many a land.'

"Quoth Sigmund:--'Why didst thou rob him, the chosen king of victory
then, seeing thou thoughtest him so brave?'

"Odin answered:--'Because it is not surely to be known, when the grey
wolf shall come upon the seat of the god.'

SECOND SCENE.--Without Valhal. Sigmund and Sinfjotle go outside the hall
and meet Eirik.

"Quoth Sigmund:--'Hail to thee, Eirik, be welcome here, and come into
the hall, thou gallant king! Now I will ask thee, what kings are these
that follow thee from the clash of the sword edges?'

"Eirik answers:--'They are five kings; I will tell thee all their names;
I myself am the sixth (the names followed in the song, whereof the rest
is lost.)

"Fagrskinna" says "Hakonarmal" was the model of this poem.


Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, was in England at the time (A.D. 934) he
heard of his father King Harald's death, and he immediately made himself
ready to depart. King Athelstan gave him men, and a choice of good
ships, and fitted him out for his journey most excellently. In harvest
time he came to Norway, where he heard of the death of his brothers,
and that King Eirik was then in Viken. Then Hakon sailed northwards to
Throndhjem, where he went to Sigurd earl of Hlader who was the ablest
man in Norway. He gave Hakon a good reception; and they made a league
with each other, by which Hakon promised great power to Sigurd if he
was made king. They assembled then a numerous Thing, and Sigurd the earl
recommended Hakon's cause to the Thing, and proposed him to the bondes
as king. Then Hakon himself stood up and spoke; and the people said to
each other, two and two, as they heard him, "Herald Harfager is come
again, grown and young." The beginning of Hakon's speech was, that he
offered himself to the bondes as king, and desired from them the title
of king, and aid and forces to defend the kingdom. He promised, on the
other hand, to make all the bondes udal-holders, and give every man udal
rights to the land he lived on. This speech met such joyful applause,
that the whole public cried and shouted that they would take him to be
king. And so it was that the Throndhjem people took Hakon, who was
then fifteen years old, for king; and he took a court or bodyguard,
and servants, and proceeded through the country. The news reached the
Uplands that the people in Throndhjem had taken to themselves a
king, who in every respect was like King Harald Harfager,--with the
difference, that Harald had made all the people of the land vassals, and
unfree; but this Hakon wished well to every man, and offered the bondes
to give them their udal rights again, which Harald had taken from them.
All were rejoiced at this news, and it passed from mouth to mouth,--it
flew, like fire in dry grass, through the whole land, and eastward to
the land's end. Many bondes came from the Uplands to meet King Hakon.
Some sent messengers, some tokens; and all to the same effect--that his
men they would be: and the king received all thankfully.


Early in winter (935), the king went to the Uplands, and summoned the
people to a Thing; and there streamed all to him who could come. He was
proclaimed king at every Thing; and then he proceeded eastward to Viken,
where his brother's sons, Trygve and Gudrod, and many others, came
unto him, and complained of the sorrow and evil his brother Eirik had
wrought. The hatred to King Eirik grew more and more, the more liking
all men took to King Hakon; and they got more boldness to say what they
thought. King Hakon gave Trygve and Gudrod the title of kings, and the
dominions which King Harald had bestowed on their fathers. Trygve got
Ranrike and Vingulmark, and Gudrod, Vestfold; but as they were young,
and in the years of childhood, he appointed able men to rule the land
for them. He gave them the country on the same conditions as it had been
given before,--that they should have half of the scat and revenues with
him. Towards spring King Hakon returned north, over the Uplands, to


King Hakon, early in spring, collected a great army at Throndhjem, and
fitted out ships. The people of Viken also had a great force on foot,
and intended to join Hakon. King Eirik also levied people in the middle
of the country; but it went badly with him to gather people, for the
leading men left him, and went over to Hakon. As he saw himself not
nearly strong enough to oppose Hakon, he sailed (A.D. 935) out to the
West sea with such men as would follow him. He first sailed to Orkney,
and took many people with him from that country; and then went south
towards England, plundering in Scotland, and in the north parts of
England, wherever he could land. Athelstan, the king of England, sent
a message to Eirik, offering him dominions under him in England; saying
that King Harald his father was a good friend of King Athelstan, and
therefore he would do kindly towards his sons. Messengers passed between
the two kings; and it came to an agreement that King Eirik should take
Northumberland as a fief from King Athelstan, and which land he should
defend against the Danes or other vikings. Eirik should let himself be
baptized, together with his wife and children, and all the people who
had followed him. Eirik accepted this offer, and was baptized, and
adopted the right faith. Northumberland is called a fifth part of
England. Eirik had his residence at York, where Lodbrok's sons, it was
said, had formerly been, and Northumberland was principally inhabited by
Northmen. Since Lodbrok's sons had taken the country, Danes and Northmen
often plundered there, when the power of the land was out of their
hands. Many names of places in the country are Norwegian; as Grimsby,
Haukfliot, and many others.


King Eirik had many people about him, for he kept many Northmen who had
come with him from the East; and also many of his friends had joined
him from Norway. But as he had little land, he went on a cruise every
summer, and plundered in Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland, and Bretland,
by which he gathered property. King Athelstan died on a sick bed, after
a reign of fourteen years, eight weeds, and three days. After him
his brother Jatmund was king of England, and he was no friend to the
Northmen. King Eirik, also, was in no great favour with him; and
the word went about that King Jatmund would set another chief over
Northumberland. Now when King Eirik heard this, he set off on a viking
cruise to the westward; and from the Orkneys took with him the Earls
Arnkel and Erlend, the sons of Earl Torfeinar. Then he sailed to the
Hebrides, where there were many vikings and troop-kings, who joined
their men to his. With all this force he steered to Ireland first,
where he took with him all the men he could, and then to Bretland, and
plundered; and sailed thereafter south to England, and marauded there
as elsewhere. The people fled before him wherever he appeared. As King
Eirik was a bold warrior, and had a great force, he trusted so much to
his people that he penetrated far inland in the country, following and
plundering the fugitives. King Jatmund had set a king, who was called
Olaf, to defend the land; and he gathered an innumerable mass of people,
with whom he marched against King Eirik. A dreadful battle ensued, in
which many Englishmen fell; but for one who fell came three in his place
out of the country behind, and when evening came on the loss of men
turned on the side of the Northmen, and many people fell. Towards the
end of the day, King Eirik and five kings with him fell. Three of them
were Guthorm and his two sons, Ivar and Harek: there fell, also, Sigurd
and Ragnvald; and with them Torfeinar's two sons, Arnkel and Erlend.
Besides these, there was a great slaughter of Northmen; and those who
escaped went to Northumberland, and brought the news to Gunhild and her
sons (A.D. 941).


When Gunhild and her sons knew for certain that King Eirik had fallen,
after having plundered the land of the King of England, they thought
there was no peace to be expected for them; and they made themselves
ready to depart from Northumberland, with all the ships King Eirik had
left, and all the men who would go with them. They took also all the
loose property, and goods which they had gathered partly as taxes in
England, partly as booty on their expeditions. With their army they
first steered northward to Orkney, where Thorfin Hausakljufer was earl,
a son of Torfeinar, and took up their station there for a time. Eirik's
sons subdued these islands and Hjaltland, took scat for themselves, and
staid there all the winter; but went on viking cruises in summer to the
West, and plundered in Scotland and Ireland. About this Glum Geirason

     "The hero who knows well to ride
     The sea-horse o'er the foamingtide,--
     He who in boyhood wild rode o'er
     The seaman's horse to Skanea's shore.
     And showed the Danes his galley's bow,
     Right nobly scours the ocean now.
     On Scotland's coast he lights the brand
     Of flaming war; with conquering hand
     Drives many a Scottish warrior tall
     To the bright seats in Odin's hall.
     The fire-spark, by the fiend of war
     Fanned to a flame, soon spreads afar.
     Crowds trembling fly,--the southern foes
     Fall thick beneath the hero's blows:
     The hero's blade drips red with gore,
     Staining the green sward on the shore."


When King Eirik had left the country, King Hakon, Athelstan's
foster-son, subdued the whole of Norway. The first winter (A.D. 936)
he visited the western parts, and then went north, and settled in
Throndhjem. But as no peace could be reasonably looked for so long as
King Eirik with his forces could come to Norway from the West sea, he
set himself with his men-at-arms in the middle of the country,--in the
Fjord district, or in Sogn, or Hordaland, or Rogaland. Hakon placed
Sigurd earl of Hlader over the whole Throradhjem district, as he and his
father had before had it under Harald Harfager. When King Hakon heard
of his brother Eirik's death, and also that his sons had no footing in
England, he thought there was not much to fear from them, and he went
with his troops one summer eastward to Viken. At that time the Danes
plundered often in Viken, and wrought much evil there; but when they
heard that King Hakon was come with a great army, they got out of the
way, to Halland; and those who were nearest to King Hakon went out to
sea, and over to Jotland (Jutland). When the king heard of this, he
sailed after them with all his army. On arriving in Jutland he plundered
all round; and when the country people heard of it, they assembled in a
great body, and determined to defend their land, and fight. There was
a great battle; and King Hakon fought so boldly, that he went forward
before his banner without helmet or coat of mail. King Hakon won the
victory, and drove the fugitives far up the country. So says Guthorm
Sindre, in his song of Hakon:--

     "Furrowing the deep-blue sea with oars,
     The king pursues to Jutland's shores.
     They met; and in the battle storm
     Of clashing shields, full many a form
     Of goodly warrior on the plain,
     Full many a corpse by Hakon slain,
     Glutted the ravens, who from far,
     Scenting the banquet-feast of war,
     Came in black flocks to Jutland's plains
     To drink the blood-wine from the veins."


Then Hakon steered southwards with his fleet to seek the vikings, and
so on to Sealand. He rowed with two cutters into the Eyrarsund, where he
found eleven viking ships, and instantly attacked them. It ended in his
gaining the victory, and clearing the viking ships of all their men. So
says Guthorm Sindre:--

     "Hakon the Brave, whose skill all know
     To bend in battle storm the bow,
     Rushed o'er the waves to Sealand's tongue,
     His two war-ships with gilt shields hung,
     And cleared the decks with his blue sword
     That rules the fate of war, on board
     Eleven ships of the Vindland men.--
     Famous is Hakon's name since then."


Thereafter King Hakon carried war far and wide in Sealand; plundering
some, slaying others, taking some prisoners of war, taking ransom from
others, and all without opposition. Then Hakon proceeded along the
coast of Skane, pillaging everywhere, levying taxes and ransome from the
country, and killing all vikings, both Danish and Vindish. He then went
eastwards to the district of Gautland, marauded there, and took great
ransom from the country. So says Guthorm Sindre:--

     "Hakon, who midst the battle shock
     Stands like a firmly-rooted oak,
     Subdued all Sealand with the sword:
     From Vindland vikings the sea-bord
     Of Scania swept; and, with the shield
     Of Odin clad, made Gautland yield
     A ransom of the ruddy gold,
     Which Hakon to his war-men bold
     Gave with free hand, who in his feud
     Against the arrow-storm had stood."

King Hakon returned back in autumn with his army and an immense booty;
and remained all the winter (A.D. 946) in Viken to defend it against the
Danes and Gautlanders, if they should attack it.


In the same winter King Trygve Olafson returned from a viking cruise in
the West sea, having before ravaged in Ireland and Scotland. In spring
(A.D. 946) King Hakon went north, and set his brother's son, King
Trygve, over Viken to defend that country against enemies. He gave him
also in property all that he could reconquer of the country in Denmark,
which the summer before King Hakon had subjected to payment of scat to
him. So says Guthorm:--

     "King Hakon, whose sharp sword dyes red
     The bright steel cap on many a head,
     Has set a warrior brave and stout
     The foreign foeman to keep out,--
     To keep that green land safe from war
     Which black Night bore to dwarf Annar (1).
     For many a carle whose trade's to wield
     The battle-axe, and swing the shield,
     On the swan's ocean-skates has come,
     In white-winged ships, across the foam,--
     Across the sea, from far Ireland,
     To war against the Norseman's land."

   ENDNOTES: (1) The dwarf Annar was the husband of Night, and Earth was
     their daughter.--L.


King Harald Gormson ruled over Denmark at that time. He took it much
amiss that King Hakon had made war in his dominions, and the report went
that he would take revenge; but this did not take place so soon. When
Gunhild and her sons heard there was enmity between Denmark and Norway,
they began to turn their course from the West. They married King Eirik's
daughter, Ragnhild, to Arnfin, a son of Thorfin Hausakljufer; and as
soon as Eirik's sons went away, Thorfin took the earldom again over
the Orkney Islands. Gamle Eirikson was somewhat older than the other
brothers, but still he was not a grown man. When Gunhild and her sons
came from the westward to Denmark, they were well received by King
Harald. He gave them great fiefs in his kingdom, so that they could
maintain themselves and their men very well. He also took Harald
Eirikson to be his foster-son, set him on his knee, and thereafter he
was brought up at the Danish king's court. Some of Eirik's sons went
out on viking expeditions as soon as they were old enough, and gathered
property, ravaging all around in the East sea. They grew up quickly to
be handsome men, and far beyond their years in strength and perfection.
Glum Geirason tells of one of them in the Grafeld song:--

     "I've heard that, on the Eastland coast,
     Great victories were won and lost.
     The king, whose hand is ever graced
     With gift to skald, his banner placed
     On, and still on; while, midst the play
     Of swords, sung sharp his good sword's sway
     As strong in arm as free of gold,
     He thinn'd the ranks of warriors bold."

Then Eirik's sons turned northwards with their troops to Viken and
marauded there; but King Trygve kept troops on foot with which he met
them, and they had many a battle, in which the victory was sometimes on
one side, and sometimes on the other. Sometimes Eirik's sons plundered
in Viken, and sometimes Trygve in Sealand and Halland.


As long as Hakon was king in Norway, there was good peace between the
bondes and merchants; so that none did harm either to the life or goods
of the other. Good seasons also there were, both by sea and land. King
Hakon was of a remarkably cheerful disposition, clever in words, and
very condescending. He was a man of great understanding also, and
bestowed attention on law-giving. He gave out the Gula-thing's laws on
the advice of Thorleif Spake (the Wise); also the Frosta-thing's laws
on the advice of Earl Sigurd, and of other Throndhjem men of wisdom.
Eidsiva-thing laws were first established in the country by Halfdan the
Black, as has before been written.


King Hakon kept Yule at Throndhjem, and Earl Sigurd had made a feast
for him at Hlader. The night of the first day of Yule the earl's wife,
Bergljot, was brought to bed of a boy-child, which afterwards King
Hakon poured water over, and gave him his own name. The boy grew up, and
became in his day a mighty and able man, and was earl after his father,
who was King Hakon's dearest friend.


Eystein, a king of the Uplands, whom some called the Great, and some the
Bad, once on a time made war in Throndhjem, and subdued Eyna district
and Sparbyggia district, and set his own son Onund over them; but the
Throndhjem people killed him. Then King Eystein made another inroad into
Throndhjem, and ravaged the land far and wide, and subdued it. He then
offered the people either his slave, who was called Thorer Faxe, or his
dog, whose name was Saur, to be their king. They preferred the dog,
as they thought they would sooner get rid of him. Now the dog was, by
witchcraft, gifted with three men's wisdom; and when he barked, he spoke
one word and barked two. A collar and chain of gold and silver were
made for him, and his courtiers carried him on their shoulders when the
weather or ways were foul. A throne was erected for him, and he sat
upon a high place, as kings are used to sit. He dwelt on Eyin Idre (Idre
Isle), and had his mansion in a place now called Saurshaug. It is told
that the occasion of his death was that the wolves one day broke into
his fold, and his courtiers stirred him up to defend his cattle; but
when he ran down from his mound, and attacked the wolves, they tore
him into pieces. Many other extraordinary things were done by this
King Eystein against the Throndhjem people, and in consequence of this
persecution and trouble, many chiefs and people fled and left their udal


Ketil Jamte, a son of Earl Onund of Sparabu, went eastward across the
mountain ridge, and with him a great multitude, who took all their
farm-stock and goods with them. They cleared the woods, and established
large farms, and settled the country afterwards called Jamtaland.
Thorer Helsing, Ketil's grandson, on account of a murder, ran away from
Jamtaland and fled eastward through the forest, and settled there. Many
people followed, and that country, which extends eastward down to the
seacoast, was called Helsingjaland; and its eastern parts are inhabited
by Swedes. Now when Harald Harfager took possession of the whole country
many people fled before him, both people of Throndhjem and of Naumudal
districts; and thus new settlers came to Jamtaland, and some all the way
to Helsingjaland. The Helsingjaland people travelled into Svithiod for
their merchandise, and thus became altogether subjects of that country.
The Jamtaland people, again, were in a manner between the two countries;
and nobody cared about them, until Hakon entered into friendly
intercourse with Jamtaland, and made friends of the more powerful
people. Then they resorted to him, and promised him obedience and
payment of taxes, and became his subjects; for they saw nothing but what
was good in him, and being of Norwegian race they would rather stand
under his royal authority than under the king of Sweden: and he gave
them laws, and rights to their land. All the people of Helsingjaland did
the same,--that is, all who were of Norwegian race, from the other side
of the great mountain ridge.


King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to Norway; but as the whole
country was heathen, with much heathenish sacrifice, and as many
great people, as well as the favour of the common people, were to be
conciliated, he resolved to practice his Christianity in private. But
he kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token of the greatest
holy-days. He made a law that the festival of Yule should begin at
the same time as Christian people held it, and that every man, under
penalty, should brew a meal of malt into ale, and therewith keep the
Yule holy as long as it lasted. Before him, the beginning of Yule, or
the slaughter night, was the night of mid-winter (Dec. 14), and Yule was
kept for three days thereafter. It was his intent, as soon as he had set
himself fast in the land, and had subjected the whole to his power,
to introduce Christianity. He went to work first by enticing to
Christianity the men who were dearest to him; and many, out of
friendship to him, allowed themselves to be baptized, and some laid
aside sacrifices. He dwelt long in the Throndhjem district, for the
strength of the country lay there; and when he thought that, by the
support of some powerful people there, he could set up Christianity he
sent a message to England for a bishop and other teachers; and when
they arrived in Norway, Hakon made it known that he would proclaim
Christianity over all the land. The people of More and Raumsdal referred
the matter to the people of Throndhjem. King Hakon then had several
churches consecrated, and put priests into them; and when he came to
Throndhjem he summoned the bondes to a Thing, and invited them to accept
Christianity. They gave an answer to the effect that they would defer
the matter until the Frosta-thing, at which there would be men from
every district of the Throndhjem country, and then they would give their
determination upon this difficult matter.


Sigurd, earl of Hlader, was one of the greatest men for sacrifices, and
so had Hakon his father been; and Sigurd always presided on account of
the king at all the festivals of sacrifice in the Throndhjem country.
It was an old custom, that when there was to be sacrifice all the bondes
should come to the spot where the temple stood and bring with them all
that they required while the festival of the sacrifice lasted. To this
festival all the men brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as
well as horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from
them was called "hlaut", and the vessels in which it was collected were
called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were made, like sprinkling brushes,
with which the whole of the altars and the temple walls, both outside
and inside, were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled with
the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury meat for those present.
The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung
the kettles, and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he
who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and
all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was emptied for
victory and power to his king; thereafter, Niord's and Freyja's goblets
for peace and a good season. Then it was the custom of many to empty the
brage-goblet (1); and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of
departed friends, called the remembrance goblet. Sigurd the earl was an
open-handed man, who did what was very much celebrated; namely, he made
a great sacrifice festival at Hlader of which he paid all the expenses.
Kormak Ogmundson sings of it in his ballad of Sigurd:--

     "Of cup or platter need has none
     The guest who seeks the generous one,--
     Sigurd the Generous, who can trace
     His lineage from the giant race;
     For Sigurd's hand is bounteous, free,--
     The guardian of the temples he.
     He loves the gods, his liberal hand
     Scatters his sword's gains o'er the land--"

   ENDNOTES: (1) The brage-goblet, over which vows were made.--L.


King Hakon came to the Frosta-thing, at which a vast multitude of people
were assembled. And when the Thing was seated, the king spoke to the
people, and began his speech with saying,--it was his message and
entreaty to the bondes and householding men, both great and small, and
to the whole public in general, young and old, rich and poor, women as
well as men, that they should all allow themselves to be baptized, and
should believe in one God, and in Christ the son of Mary and refrain
from all sacrifices and heathen gods; and should keep holy the seventh
day, and abstain from all work on it, and keep a fast on the seventh
day. As soon as the king had proposed this to the bondes, great was the
murmur and noise among the crowd. They complained that the king wanted
to take their labour and their old faith from them, and the land could
not be cultivated in that way. The labouring men and slaves thought that
they could not work if they did not get meat; and they said it was
the character of King Hakon, and his father, and all the family, to be
generous enough with their money, but sparing with their diet. Asbjorn
of Medalhus in the Gaulardal stood up, and answered thus to the king's

"We bondes, King Hakon, when we elected thee to be our king, and got
back our udal rights at the Thing held in Throndhjem, thought we had got
into heaven; but now we don't know whether we have really got back our
freedom, or whether thou wishest to make vassals of us again by this
extraordinary proposal that we should abandon the ancient faith which
our fathers and forefathers have held from the oldest times, in the
times when the dead were burnt, as well as since that they are laid
under mounds, and which, although they were braver than the people of
our days, has served us as a faith to the present time. We have also
held thee so dear, that we have allowed thee to rule and give law and
right to all the country. And even now we bondes will unanimously hold
by the law which thou givest us here in the Frosta-thing, and to which
we have also given our assent; and we will follow thee, and have thee
for our king, as long as there is a living man among us bondes here in
this Thing assembled. But thou, king, must use some moderation towards
us, and only require from us such things as we can obey thee in, and are
not impossible for us. If, however, thou wilt take up this matter with
a high hand, and wilt try thy power and strength against us, we
bondes have resolved among ourselves to part with thee, and to take to
ourselves some other chief, who will so conduct himself towards us
that we can freely and safely enjoy that faith that suits our own
inclinations. Now, king, thou must choose one or other of these
conditions before the Thing is ended."

The bondes gave loud applause to this speech, and said it expressed
their will, and they would stand or fall by what had been spoken. When
silence was again restored, Earl Sigurd said, "It is King Hakon's will
to give way to you, the bondes, and never to separate himself from your
friendship." The bondes replied, that it was their desire that the king
should offer a sacrifice for peace and a good year, as his father was
want to do; and thereupon the noise and tumult ceased, and the Thing was
concluded. Earl Sigurd spoke to the king afterwards, and advised him
not to refuse altogether to do as the people desired, saying there was
nothing else for it but to give way to the will of the bondes; "for
it is, as thou hast heard thyself, the will and earnest desire of the
head-people, as well as of the multitude. Hereafter we may find a good
way to manage it." And in this resolution the king and earl agreed (A.D.


The harvest thereafter, towards the winter season, there was a festival
of sacrifice at Hlader, and the king came to it. It had always been his
custom before, when he was present at a place where there was sacrifice,
to take his meals in a little house by himself, or with some few of
his men; but the bondes grumbled that he did not seat himself in his
high-seat at these the most joyous of the meetings of the people. The
earl said that the king should do so this time. The king accordingly
sat upon his high-seat. Now when the first full goblet was filled, Earl
Sigurd spoke some words over it, blessed it in Odin's name, and drank to
the king out of the horn; and the king then took it, and made the sign
of the cross over it. Then said Kar of Gryting, "What does the king mean
by doing so? Will he not sacrifice?" Earl Sigurd replies, "The king is
doing what all of you do, who trust to your power and strength. He is
blessing the full goblet in the name of Thor, by making the sign of his
hammer over it before he drinks it." On this there was quietness for
the evening. The next day, when the people sat down to table, the bondes
pressed the king strongly to eat of horse-flesh (1); and as he would on
no account do so, they wanted him to drink of the soup; and as he would
not do this, they insisted he should at least taste the gravy; and on
his refusal they were going to lay hands on him. Earl Sigurd came and
made peace among them, by asking the king to hold his mouth over the
handle of the kettle, upon which the fat smoke of the boiled horse-flesh
had settled itself; and the king first laid a linen cloth over the
handle, and then gaped over it, and returned to the high-seat; but
neither party was satisfied with this.

   ENDNOTES: (1) This eating of horse-flesh at these religious festivals
     was considered the most direct proof of paganism in the
     following times, and was punished by death or mutilation by
     Saint Olaf.  It was a ceremony apparently commemorative of
     their Asiatic origin and ancestors.


The winter thereafter the king prepared a Yule feast in More, and eight
chiefs resolved with each other to meet at it. Four of them were from
without the Throndhjem district--namely, Kar of Gryting, Asbjorn
of Medalhus, Thorberg of Varnes, and Orm from Ljoxa; and from the
Throndhjem district, Botolf of Olvishaug, Narfe of Staf in Veradal,
Thrand Hak from Egg, and Thorer Skeg from Husaby in Eyin Idre. These
eight men bound themselves, the four first to root out Christianity in
Norway, and the four others to oblige the king to offer sacrifice to the
gods. The four first went in four ships southwards to More, and killed
three priests, and burnt three churches, and then they returned. Now,
when King Hakon and Earl Sigurd came to More with their court, the
bondes assembled in great numbers; and immediately, on the first day of
the feast, the bondes insisted hard with the king that he should offer
sacrifice, and threatened him with violence if he refused. Earl Sigurd
tried to make peace between them, and brought it so far that the king
took some bits of horse-liver, and emptied all the goblets the bondes
filled for him without the sign of the cross; but as soon as the feast
was over, the king and the earl returned to Hlader. The king was very
ill pleased, and made himself ready to leave Throndhjem forthwith with
all his people; saying that the next time he came to Throndhjem, he
would come with such strength of men-at-arms that he would repay the
bondes for their enmity towards him. Earl Sigurd entreated the king not
to take it amiss of the bondes; adding, that it was not wise to threaten
them, or to make war upon the people within the country, and especially
in the Throndhjem district, where the strength of the land lay; but the
king was so enraged that he would not listen to a word from anybody. He
went out from Throndhjem, and proceeded south to More, where he remained
the rest of the winter, and on to the spring season (A.D. 950); and when
summer came he assembled men, and the report was that he intended with
this army to attack the Throndhjem people.


But just as the king had embarked with a great force of troops, the news
was brought him from the south of the country, that King Eirik's sons
had come from Denmark to Viken and had driven King Trygve Olafson from
his ships at Sotanes, and then had plundered far and wide around in
Viken, and that many had submitted to them. Now when King Hakon heard
this news, he thought that help was needed; and he sent word to Earl
Sigurd, and to the other chiefs from whom he could expect help, to
hasten to his assistance. Sigurd the earl came accordingly with a great
body of men, among whom were all the Throndhjem people who had set upon
him the hardest to offer sacrifice; and all made their peace with the
king, by the earl's persuasion. Now King Hakon sailed south along the
coast; and when he came south as far as Stad, he heard that Eirik's sons
were come to North Agder. Then they advanced against each other, and
met at Kormt. Both parties left their ships there, and gave battle at
Ogvaldsnes. Both parties had a great force, and it was a great battle.
King Hakon went forward bravely, and King Guthorm Eirikson met him with
his troop, and they exchanged blows with each other. Guthorm fell, and
his standard was cut down. Many people fell around him. The army of
Eirik's sons then took flight to their ships and rowed away with the
loss of many a man. So says Guthorm Sindre:--

     "The king's voice waked the silent host
     Who slept beside the wild sea-coast,
     And bade the song of spear and sword
     Over the battle plain be heard.
     Where heroes' shields the loudest rang,
     Where loudest was the sword-blade's clang,
     By the sea-shore at Kormt Sound,
     Hakon felled Guthorm to the ground."

Now King Hakon returned to his ships, and pursued Gunhild's sons. And
both parties sailed all they could sail, until they came to East Adger,
from whence Eirik's sons set out to sea, and southwards for Jutland
(A.D. 950). Guthorm Sindre speaks of it in his song:--

     "And Guthorm's brothers too, who know
     So skilfully to bend the bow,
     The conquering hand must also feel
     Of Hakon, god of the bright steel,--
     The sun-god, whose bright rays, that dart
     Flame-like, are swords that pierce the heart.
     Well I remember how the King
     Hakon, the battle's life and spring,
     O'er the wide ocean cleared away
     Eirik's brave sons.  They durst not stay,
     But round their ships' sides hung their shields
     And fled across the blue sea-fields."

King Hakon returned then northwards to Norway, but Eirik's sons remained
a long time in Denmark.


King Hakon after this battle made a law, that all inhabited land over
the whole country along the sea-coast, and as far back from it as
the salmon swims up in the rivers, should be divided into ship-raths
according to the districts; and it was fixed by law how many ships there
should be from each district, and how great each should be, when the
whole people were called out on service. For this outfit the whole
inhabitants should be bound whenever a foreign army came to the country.
With this came also the order that beacons should be erected upon the
hills, so that every man could see from the one to the other; and it is
told that a war-signal could thus be given in seven days, from the most
southerly beacon to the most northerly Thing-seat in Halogaland


Eirik's sons plundered much on the Baltic coasts and sometimes, as
before related, in Norway; but so long as Hakon ruled over Norway there
was in general good peace, and good seasons, and he was the most beloved
of kings. When Hakon had reigned about twenty years in Norway (A.D.
954), Eirik's sons came from Denmark with a powerful army, of which
a great part consisted of the people who had followed them on their
expeditions; but a still greater army of Danes had been placed at their
disposal by King Harald Gormson. They sailed with a fair wind from
Vendil, and came to Agder; and then sailed northwards, night and day,
along the coast. But the beacons were not fired, because it had been
usual to look for them lighted from the east onwards, and nobody had
observed them from the east coast; and besides King Hakon had set
heavy penalties for giving false alarm, by lighting the beacons without
occasion. The reason of this was, that ships of war and vikings cruised
about and plundered among the outlying islands, and the country people
took them for Eirik's sons, and lighted the beacons, and set the whole
country in trouble and dread of war. Sometimes, no doubt, the sons of
Eirik were there; but having only their own troops, and no Danish army
with them, they returned to Denmark; and sometimes these were other
vikings. King Hakon was very angry at this, because it cost both trouble
and money to no purpose. The bondes also suffered by these false alarms
when they were given uselessly; and thus it happened that no news of
this expedition of Eirik's sons circulated through the land until they
had come as far north as Ulfasund, where they lay for seven days. Then
spies set off across Eid and northwards to More. King Hakon was at that
time in the island Frede, in North More, at a place called Birkistrand,
where he had a dwelling-house, and had no troops with him, only his
bodyguard or court, and the neighbouring bondes he had invited to his


The spies came to King Hakon, and told him that Eirik's sons, with a
great army, lay just to the south of Stad. Then he called together
the most understanding of the men about him, and asked their opinion,
whether he should fight with Eirik's sons, although they had such
a great multitude with them, or should set off northwards to gather
together more men. Now there was a bonde there, by name Egil Ulserk, who
was a very old man, but in former days had been strong and stout beyond
most men, and a hardy man-at-arms withal, having long carried King
Harald Harfager's banner. Egil answered thus to the king's speech,--"I
was in several battles with thy father Harald the king, and he gave
battle sometimes with many, sometimes with few people; but he always
came off with victory. Never did I hear him ask counsel of his friends
whether he should fly--and neither shalt thou get any such counsel from
us, king; but as we know we have a brave leader, thou shalt get a trusty
following from us." Many others agreed with this speech, and the king
himself declared he was most inclined to fight with such strength as
they could gather. It was so determined. The king split up a war-arrow,
which he sent off in all directions, and by that token a number of men
was collected in all haste. Then said Egil Ulserk,--"At one time the
peace had lasted so long I was afraid I might come to die the death of
old age (1), within doors upon a bed of straw, although I would rather
fall in battle following my chief. And now it may so turn out in the end
as I wished it to be."

   ENDNOTES: (1) In all the sagas of this pagan time, the dying on a bed of
     sickness is mentioned as a kind of derogatory end of a man
     of any celebrity.--L.


Eirik's sons sailed northwards around Stad; as soon as the wind suited;
and when they had passed it, and heard where King Hakon was, they
sailed to meet him. King Hakon had nine ships, with which he lay under
Fredarberg in Feeysund; and Eirik's sons had twenty ships, with which
they brought up on the south side of the same cape, in Feeysund. King
Hakon sent them a message, asking them to go upon the land; and telling
them that he had hedged in with hazel boughs a place of combat at
Rastarkalf, where there is a flat large field, at the foot of a long
and rather low ridge. Then Eirik's sons left their ships, and went
northwards over the neck of land within Fredarberg, and onward to
Rastarkalf. Then Egil asked King Hakon to give him ten men with ten
banners, and the king did so. Then Egil went with his men under the
ridge; but King Hakon went out upon the open field with his army, and
set up his banner, and drew up his army, saying, "Let us draw up in a
long line, that they may not surround us, as they have the most men."
And so it was done; and there was a severe battle, and a very sharp
attack. Then Egil Ulserk set up the ten banners he had with him, and
placed the men who carried them so that they should go as near the
summit of the ridge as possible, and leaving a space between each of
them. They went so near the summit that the banners could be seen over
it, and moved on as if they were coming behind the army of Eirik's
sons. Now when the men who stood uppermost in the line of the troops of
Eirik's sons saw so many flying banners advancing high over the edge of
the ridge, they supposed a great force must be following, who would
come behind their army, and between them and their ships. They made each
other acquainted with what was going on in a loud shout, and the whole
took to flight; and when the king saw it, they fled with the rest. King
Hakon now pushes on briskly with his people, pursuing the flying, and
killing many.


When Gamle Eirikson came up the ridge of the hill he turned round, and
he observed that not more people were following than his men had been
engaged with already, and he saw it was but a stratagem of war; so he
ordered the war-horns to be blown, his banner to be set up, and he put
his men in battle order. On this, all his Northmen stood, and turned
with him, but the Danes fled to the ships; and when King Hakon and his
men came thither, there was again sharp conflict; but now Hakon had most
people. At last the Eirik's sons' force fled, and took the road south
about the hill; but a part of their army retreated upon the hill
southwards, followed by King Hakon. There is a flat field east of the
ridge which runs westward along the range of hills, and is bounded
on its west side by a steep ridge. Gamle's men retreated towards this
ground; but Hakon followed so closely that he killed some, and others
ran west over the ridge, and were killed on that side of it. King Hakon
did not part with them till the last man of them was killed.


Gamle Eirikson fled from the ridge down upon the plain to the south of
the hill. There he turned himself again, and waited until more people
gathered to him. All his brothers, and many troops of their men,
assembled there. Egil Ulserk was in front, and in advance of Hakon's
men, and made a stout attack. He and King Gamle exchanged blows with
each other, and King Gamle got a grievous wound; but Egil fell, and
many people with him. Then came Hakon the king with the troops which had
followed him, and a new battle began. King Hakon pushed on, cutting down
men on both sides of him, and killing the one upon the top of the other.
So sings Guthorm Sindre:--

     "Scared by the sharp sword's singing sound,
     Brandished in air, the foe gave ground.
     The boldest warrior cannot stand
     Before King Hakon's conquering hand;
     And the king's banner ever dies
     Where the spear-forests thickest rise.
     Altho' the king had gained of old
     Enough of Freyja's tears of gold (1),
     He spared himself no more than tho'
     He'd had no well-filled purse to show."

When Eirik's sons saw their men falling all round, they turned and fled
to their ships; but those who had sought the ships before had pushed off
some of them from the land, while some of them were still hauled up and
on the strand. Now the sons of Eirik and their men plunged into the sea,
and betook themselves to swimming. Gamle Eirikson was drowned; but the
other sons of Eirik reached their ships, and set sail with what men
remained. They steered southwards to Denmark, where they stopped a
while, very ill satisfied with their expedition.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Freyja's husband was Od; and her tears, when she wept at
     the long absence of her husband, were tears of gold.  Od's
     wife's tears is the skald's expression here for gold--
     understood, no doubt, as readily as any allusion to Plutus
     would convey the equivalent meaning in modern poetry.--L.


King Hakon took all the ships of the sons of Eirik that had been left
upon the strand, and had them drawn quite up, and brought on the land.
Then he ordered that Egil Ulserk, and all the men of his army who had
fallen, should be laid in the ships, and covered entirely over with
earth and stones. King Hakon made many of the ships to be drawn up to
the field of battle, and the hillocks over them are to be seen to the
present day a little to the south of Fredarberg. At the time when King
Hakon was killed, when Glum Geirason, in his song, boasted of King
Hakon's fall, Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed these verses on this

     "Our dauntless king with Gamle's gore
     Sprinkled his bright sword o'er and o'er:
     Sprinkled the gag that holds the mouth
     Of the fell demon Fenriswolf (1).
     Proud swelled our warriors' hearts when he
     Drove Eirik's sons out to the sea,
     With all their Guatland host: but now
     Our warriors weep--Hakon lies low!"

High standing stones mark Egil Uslerk s grave.

   ENDNOTES: (1) The Fenriswolf, one of the children of Loke, begotten with
     a giantess, was chained to a rock, and gagged by a sword
     placed in his mouth, to prevent him devouring mankind.
     Fenriswolf's gag is a skaldic expression for a sword.--L.


When King Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, had been king for twenty-six
years after his brother Eirik had left the country, it happened (A.D.
960) that he was at a feast in Hordaland in the house at Fitjar on the
island Stord, and he had with him at the feast his court and many of
the peasants. And just as the king was seated at the supper-table, his
watchmen who were outside observed many ships coming sailing along from
the south, and not very far from the island. Now, said the one to the
other, they should inform the king that they thought an armed force was
coming against them; but none thought it advisable to be the bearer of
an alarm of war to the king, as he had set heavy penalties on those who
raised such alarms falsely, yet they thought it unsuitable that the king
should remain in ignorance of what they saw. Then one of them went into
the room and asked Eyvind Finson to come out as fast as possible, for it
was very needful. Eyvind immediately came out and went to where he could
see the ships, and saw directly that a great army was on the way; and
he returned in all haste into the room, and, placing himself before
the kind, said, "Short is the hour for acting, and long the hour for
feasting." The king cast his eyes upon him, and said, "What now is in
the way?" Eyvind said--

     "Up king!  the avengers are at hand!
     Eirik's bold sons approach the land!
     The Judgment of the sword they crave
     Against their foe.  Thy wrath I brave;
     Tho' well I know 'tis no light thing
     To bring war-tidings to the king
     And tell him 'tis no time to rest.
     Up!  gird your armour to your breast:
     Thy honour's dearer than my life;
     Therefore I say, up to the strife!"

Then said the king, "Thou art too brave a fellow, Eyvind, to bring us
any false alarm of war." The others all said it was a true report. The
king ordered the tables to be removed, and then he went out to look at
the ships; and when it could be clearly seen that these were ships of
war, the king asked his men what resolution they should take--whether
to give battle with the men they had, or go on board ship and sail away
northwards along the land. "For it is easy to see," said he, "that we
must now fight against a much greater force than we ever had against
us before; although we thought just the same the last time we fought
against Gunhild's sons." No one was in a hurry to give an answer to the
king; but at last Eyvind replied to the king's speech:--

     "Thou who in the battle-plain
     Hast often poured the sharp spear-rain!
     Ill it beseems our warriors brave
     To fly upon the ocean wave:
     To fly upon the blue wave north,
     When Harald from the south comes forth,
     With many a ship riding in pride
     Upon the foaming ocean-tide;
     With many a ship and southern viking,--
     Let us take shield in hand, brave king!"

The king replied, "Thy counsel, Eyvind, is manly, and after my own
heart; but I will hear the opinion of others upon this matter." Now as
the king's men thought they discerned what way the king was inclined to
take, they answered that they would rather fall bravely and like men,
than fly before the Danes; adding, that they had often gained the
victory against greater odds of numbers. The king thanked them for their
resolution, and bade them arm themselves; and all the men did so. The
king put on his armour, and girded on his sword Kvernbit, and put a gilt
helmet upon his head, and took a spear (Kesja) in his hand, and a shield
by his side. He then drew up his courtmen and the bondes in one body,
and set up his banner.


After Gamle's death King Harald, Eirik's son, was the chief of the
brothers, and he had a great army with him from Denmark. In their army
were also their mother's brothers,--Eyvind Skreyja, and Alf Askman, both
strong and able men, and great man slayers. The sons of Eirik brought up
with their ships off the island, and it is said that their force was not
less than six to one,--so much stronger in men were Eirik's sons.


When King Hakon had drawn up his men, it is told of him that he threw
off his armour before the battle began. So sings Eyvind Skaldaspiller,
in Hakmarmal:--

     "They found Blorn's brother bold
     Under his banner as of old,
     Ready for battle.  Foes advance,--
     The front rank raise the shining lance:
     And now begins the bloody fray!
     Now!  now begins Hild's wild play!
     Our noble king, whose name strikes fear
     Into each Danish heart,--whose spear
     Has single-handed spilt the blood
     Of many a Danish noble,--stood
     Beneath his helmet's eagle wing
     Amidst his guards; but the brave king
     Scorned to wear armour, while his men
     Bared naked breasts against the rain
     Of spear and arrow, his breast-plate rung
     Against the stones; and, blithe and gay,
     He rushed into the thickest fray.
     With golden helm, and naked breast,
     Brave Hakon played at slaughter's feast."

King Hakon selected willingly such men for his guard or court-men as
were distinguished for their strength and bravery, as his father King
Harald also used to do; and among these was Thoralf Skolmson the Strong,
who went on one side of the king. He had helmet and shield, spear and
sword; and his sword was called by the name of Footbreadth. It was said
that Thoralf and King Hakon were equal in strength. Thord Sjarekson
speaks of it in the poem he composed concerning Thoralf:--

     "The king's men went with merry words
     To the sharp clash of shields and flame swords,
     When these wild rovers of the sea
     At Fitlar fought.  Stout Thoralf he
     Next to the Northmen's hero came,
     Scattering wide round the battle flame
     For in the storm of shields not one
     Ventured like him with brave Hakon."

When both lines met there was a hard combat, and much bloodshed. The
combatants threw their spears and then drew their swords. Then King
Hakon, and Thoralf with him, went in advance of the banner, cutting down
on both sides of them. So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller:--

     "The body-coats of naked steel,
     The woven iron coats of mail,
     Like water fly before the swing
     Of Hakon's sword--the champion-king.
     About each Gotland war-man's head
     Helm splits, like ice beneath the tread,
     Cloven by the axe or sharp swordblade,
     The brave king, foremost in the fight,
     Dyes crimson-red the spotless white
     Of his bright shield with foemen's gore.--
     Amidst the battle's wild uproar,
     Wild pealing round from shore to shore."


King Hakon was very conspicuous among other men, and also when the sun
shone his helmet glanced, and thereby many weapons were directed at him.
Then Eyvind Finson took a hat and put it over the king's helmet. Now
Eyvind Skreyja called out, "Does the king of the Norsemen hide himself,
or has he fled? Where is now the golden helmet?" Then Eyvind, and his
brother Alf with him, pushed on like fools or madmen. King Hakon shouted
to Eyvind, "Come on as thou art coming, and thou shalt find the king of
the Norsemen." So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller:--

     "The raiser of the storm of shields,
     The conqueror in battle fields,--
     Hakon the brave, the warrior's friend,
     Who scatters gold with liberal hand,
     Heard Skreyja's taunt, and saw him rush,
     Amidst the sharp spears' thickest push,
     And loudly shouted in reply--
     'If thou wilt for the victory try,
     The Norseman's king thou soon shall find!
     Hold onwards, friend!  Hast thou a mind!"

It was also but a short space of time before Eyvind did come up swinging
his sword, and made a cut at the king; but Thoralf thrust his shield so
hard against Eyvind that he tottered with the shock. Now the king takes
his sword Kvernbit with both hands, and hewed Eyvind through helm and
head, and clove him down to the shoulders. Thoralf also slew Alf Askman.
So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller:--

     "With both his hands the gallant king
     Swung round his sword, and to the chin
     Clove Eyvind down: his faithless mail
     Against it could no more avail,
     Than the thin plank against the shock
     When the ship's side beats on the rock.
     By his bright sword with golden haft
     Thro' helm, and head, and hair, was cleft
     The Danish champion; and amain,
     With terror smitten, fled his men."

After this fall of the two brothers, King Hakon pressed on so hard that
all men gave way before his assault. Now fear came over the army of
Eirik's sons, and the men began to fly; and King Hakon, who was at the
head of his men, pressed on the flying, and hewed down oft and hard.
Then flew an arrow, one of the kind called "flein", into Hakon's arm,
into the muscles below the shoulder; and it is said by many people that
Gunhild's shoe-boy, whose name was Kisping, ran out and forwards amidst
the confusion of arms, called out "Make room for the king-killer," and
shot King Hakon with the flein. Others again say that nobody could tell
who shot the king, which is indeed the most likely; for spears, arrows,
and all kinds of missiles flew as thick as a snow-drift. Many of the
people of Eirik's sons were killed, both on the field of battle and on
the way to the ships, and also on the strand, and many threw themselves
into the water. Many also, among whom were Eirik's sons, got on board
their ships, and rowed away as fast as they could, and Hakon's men after
them. So says Thord Sjarekson:--

     "The wolf, the murderer, and the thief,
     Fled from before the people's chief:
     Few breakers of the peace grew old
     Under the Northmen's king so bold.
     When gallant Hakon lost his life
     Black was the day, and dire the strife.
     It was bad work for Gunhild's sons,
     Leading their pack of Hungry Danes
     From out the south, to have to fly,
     And many a bonde leave to die,
     Leaning his heavy wounded head
     On the oar-bench for feather-bed.
     Thoralf was nearest to the side
     Of gallant Hakon in the tide
     Of battle; his the sword that best
     Carved out the raven's bloody feast:
     Amidst the heaps of foemen slain
     He was named bravest on the plain."


When King Hakon came out to his ship he had his wound bound up; but
the blood ran from it so much and so constantly, that it could not be
stopped; and when the day was drawing to an end his strength began to
leave him. Then he told his men that he wanted to go northwards to his
house at Alreksstader; but when he came north, as far as Hakonarhella
Hill, they put in towards the land, for by this time the king was almost
lifeless. Then he called his friends around him, and told them what he
wished to be done with regard to his kingdom. He had only one child,
a daughter, called Thora, and had no son. Now he told them to send a
message to Eirik's sons, that they should be kings over the country;
but asked them to hold his friends in respect and honour. "And if
fate," added he, "should prolong my life, I will, at any rate, leave the
country, and go to a Christian land, and do penance for what I have done
against God; but should I die in heathen land, give me any burial you
think fit." Shortly afterwards Hakon expired, at the little hill on the
shore-side at which he was born. So great was the sorrow over Hakon's
death, that he was lamented both by friends and enemies; and they said
that never again would Norway see such a king. His friends removed his
body to Saeheim, in North Hordaland, and made a great mound, in which
they laid the king in full armour and in his best clothes, but with no
other goods. They spoke over his grave, as heathen people are used to
do, and wished him in Valhal. Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed a poem on
the death of King Hakon, and on how well he was received in Valhal. The
poem is called "Hakonarmal":--

     "In Odin's hall an empty place
     Stands for a king of Yngve's race;
     'Go, my valkyries,' Odin said,
     'Go forth, my angels of the dead,
     Gondul and Skogul, to the plain
     Drenched with the battle's bloody rain,
     And to the dying Hakon tell,
     Here in Valhal shall he dwell.'

     "At Stord, so late a lonely shore,
     Was heard the battle's wild uproar;
     The lightning of the flashing sword
     Burned fiercely at the shore of Stord.
     From levelled halberd and spearhead
     Life-blood was dropping fast and red;
     And the keen arrows' biting sleet
     Upon the shore at Stord fast beat.

     "Upon the thundering cloud of shield
     Flashed bright the sword-storm o'er the field;
     And on the plate-mail rattled loud
     The arrow-shower's rushing cloud,
     In Odin's tempest-weather, there
     Swift whistling through the angry air;
     And the spear-torrents swept away
     Ranks of brave men from light of day.

     "With batter'd shield, and blood-smear'd sword
     Slits one beside the shore of Stord,
     With armour crushed and gashed sits he,
     A grim and ghastly sight to see;
     And round about in sorrow stand
     The warriors of his gallant band:
     Because the king of Dags' old race
     In Odin's hall must fill a place.

     "Then up spake Gondul, standing near
     Resting upon her long ash spear,--
     'Hakon!  the gods' cause prospers well,
     And thou in Odin's halls shalt dwell!'
     The king beside the shore of Stord
     The speech of the valkyrie heard,
     Who sat there on his coal-black steed,
     With shield on arm and helm on head.

     "Thoughtful, said Hakon, 'Tell me why
     Ruler of battles, victory
     Is so dealt out on Stord's red plain?
     Have we not well deserved to gain?'
     'And is it not as well dealt out?'
     Said Gondul. 'Hearest thou not the shout?
     The field is cleared--the foemen run--
     The day is ours--the battle won!'

     "Then Skogul said, 'My coal-black steed,
     Home to the gods I now must speed,
     To their green home, to tell the tiding
     That Hakon's self is thither riding.'
     To Hermod and to Brage then
     Said Odin, 'Here, the first of men,
     Brave Hakon comes, the Norsemen's king,--
     Go forth, my welcome to him bring.'

     "Fresh from the battle-field came in,
     Dripping with blood, the Norsemen'a king.
     'Methinks,' said he, great Odin's will
     Is harsh, and bodes me further ill;
     Thy son from off the field to-day
     From victory to snatch away!'
     But Odin said, 'Be thine the joy
     Valhal gives, my own brave boy!'

     "And Brage said, 'Eight brothers here
     Welcome thee to Valhal's cheer,
     To drain the cup, or fights repeat
     Where Hakon Eirik's earls beat.'
     Quoth the stout king, 'And shall my gear,
     Helm, sword, and mail-coat, axe and spear,
     Be still at hand!  'Tis good to hold
     Fast by our trusty friends of old.'

     "Well was it seen that Hakon still
     Had saved the temples from all ill (1);
     For the whole council of the gods
     Welcomed the king to their abodes.
     Happy the day when men are born
     Like Hakon, who all base things scorn.--
     Win from the brave and honoured name,
     And die amidst an endless fame.

     "Sooner shall Fenriswolf devour
     The race of man from shore to shore,
     Than such a grace to kingly crown
     As gallant Hakon want renown.
     Life, land, friends, riches, all will fly,
     And we in slavery shall sigh.
     But Hakon in the blessed abodes
     For ever lives with the bright gods."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Hakon, although a Christian, appears to have favoured the
     old religion, and spared the temples of Odin, and therefore
     a place in Valhal is assigned him.--L.



This saga might be called Gunhild's Saga, as she is the chief person in
it. The reign of King Harald and Earl Hakon is more fully described
in the next saga, that is, Olaf Trygvason's. Other literature on this

"Agrip" (chap. 8), "Historia Norvegia", (p. 12), "Thjodrek" (chap. 5),
"Saxo" (pp. 479-482), "Egla" (chaps. 81, 82), "Floamanna" (chap.
12), "Fareyinga" (chaps. 2, 4, 10), "Halfred's Saga" (chap. 2), "Hord
Grimkelsons Saga" (chaps. 13, 18), "Kormak" (chaps. 19-27), "Laxdaela"
(chaps. 19-21), "Njala" (chaps, 3-6).

The skalds of this saga are:--Glum Geirason, Kormak Agmundson, Eyvind
Skaldaspiller, and Einar Helgason Skalaglam.


When King Hakon was killed, the sons of Eirik took the sovereignty of
Norway. Harald, who was the oldest of the living brothers, was over them
in dignity. Their mother Gunhild, who was called the King-mother, mixed
herself much in the affairs of the country. There were many chiefs in
the land at that time. There was Trygve Olafson in the Eastland, Gudrod
Bjornson in Vestfold, Sigurd earl of Hlader in the Throndhjem land; but
Gunhild's sons held the middle of the country the first winter. There
went messages and ambassadors between Gunhild's sons and Trygve and
Gudrod, and all was settled upon the footing that they should hold from
Gunhild's sons the same part of the country which they formerly had
held under King Hakon. A man called Glum Geirason, who was King Harald's
skald, and was a very brave man, made this song upon King Hakon's

     "Gamle is avenged by Harald!
     Great is thy deed, thou champion bold!
     The rumour of it came to me
     In distant lands beyond the sea,
     How Harald gave King Hakon's blood
     To Odin's ravens for their food."

This song was much favoured. When Eyvind Finson heard of it he composed
the song which was given before, viz.:--

     "Our dauntless king with Gamle's gore
     Sprinkled his bright sword o'er and o'er," &c.

This song also was much favoured, and was spread widely abroad; and
when King Harald came to hear of it, he laid a charge against Evyind
affecting his life; but friends made up the quarrel, on the condition
that Eyvind should in future be Harald's skald, as he had formerly been
King Hakon's. There was also some relationship between them, as Gunhild,
Eyvind's mother, was a daughter of Earl Halfdan, and her mother was
Ingibjorg, a daughter of Harald Harfager. Thereafter Eyvind made a song
about King Harald:--

     "Guardian of Norway, well we know
     Thy heart failed not when from the bow
     The piercing arrow-hail sharp rang
     On shield and breast-plate, and the clang
     Of sword resounded in the press
     Of battle, like the splitting ice;
     For Harald, wild wolf of the wood,
     Must drink his fill of foeman's blood."

Gunhild's sons resided mostly in the middle of the country, for they did
not think it safe for them to dwell among the people of Throndhjem or
of Viken, where King Hakon's best friends lived; and also in both places
there were many powerful men. Proposals of agreement then passed between
Gunhild's sons and Earl Sigurd, or they got no scat from the Throndhjem
country; and at last an agreement was concluded between the kings and
the earl, and confirmed by oath. Earl Sigurd was to get the same power
in the Throndhjem land which he had possessed under King Hakon, and on
that they considered themselves at peace. All Gunhild's sons had the
character of being penurious; and it was said they hid their money in
the ground. Eyvind Skaldaspiller made a song about this:--

     "Main-mast of battle!  Harald bold!
     In Hakon's days the skald wore gold
     Upon his falcon's seat; he wore
     Rolf Krake's seed, the yellow ore
     Sown by him as he fled away,
     The avenger Adils' speed to stay.
     The gold crop grows upon the plain;
     But Frode's girls so gay (1) in vain
     Grind out the golden meal, while those
     Who rule o'er Norway's realm like foes,
     In mother earth's old bosom hide
     The wealth which Hakon far and wide
     Scattered with generous hand: the sun
     Shone in the days of that great one,
     On the gold band of Fulla's brow,(2)
     On gold-ringed hands that bend the bow,
     On the skald's hand; but of the ray
     Of bright gold, glancing like the spray
     Of sun-lit waves, no skald now sings--
     Buried are golden chains and rings."

Now when King Harald heard this song, he sent a message to Eyvind to
come to him, and when Eyvind came made a charge against him of being
unfaithful. "And it ill becomes thee," said the king, "to be my enemy,
as thou hast entered into my service." Eyvind then made these verses:--

     "One lord I had before thee, Harald!
     One dear-loved lord!  Now am I old,
     And do not wish to change again,--
     To that loved lord, through strife and pain,
     Faithful I stood; still true to Hakon,--
     To my good king, and him alone.
     But now I'm old and useless grown,
     My hands are empty, wealth is flown;
     I am but fir for a short space
     In thy court-hall to fill a place."

But King Harald forced Eyvind to submit himself to his clemency. Eyvind
had a great gold ring, which was called Molde, that had been dug up out
of the earth long since. This ring the King said he must have as the
mulet for the offence; and there was no help for it. Then Eyvind sang:--

     "I go across the ocean-foam,
     Swift skating to my Iceland home
     Upon the ocean-skates, fast driven
     By gales by Thurse's witch fire given.
     For from the falcon-bearing hand
     Harald has plucked the gold snake band
     My father wore--by lawless might
     Has taken what is mine by right."

Eyvind went home; but it is not told that he ever came near the king

   ENDNOTES: (1) Menja and Fenja were strong girls of the giant race, whom
     Frode bought in Sweden to grind gold and good luck to him;
     and their meal means gold.--L.
(2) Fulla was one of Frig's attendants, who wore a gold band on
     the forehead, and the figure means gold,--that the sun
     shone on gold rings on the hands of the skalds in Hakon's


Gunhild's sons embraced Christianity in England, as told before; but
when they came to rule over Norway they made no progress in spreading
Christianity--only they pulled down the temples of the idols, and cast
away the sacrifices where they had it in their power, and raised great
animosity by doing so. The good crops of the country were soon wasted in
their days, because there were many kings, and each had his court about
him. They had therefore great expenses, and were very greedy. Besides,
they only observed those laws of King Hakon which suited themselves.
They were, however, all of them remarkably handsome men--stout, strong,
and expert in all exercises. So says Glum Geirason, in the verses he
composed about Harald, Gunhild's son:--

     "The foeman's terror, Harald bold,
     Had gained enough of yellow gold;
     Had Heimdal's teeth (1) enough in store,
     And understood twelve arts or more."

The brothers sometimes went out on expeditions together, and sometimes
each on his own account. They were fierce, but brave and active; and
great warriors, and very successful.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Heimdal was one of the gods, whose horse was called
       Gold-top; and the horse's teeth were of gold.


Gunhild the King-mother, and her sons, often met, and talked together
upon the government of the country. Once Gunhild asked her sons what
they intended to do with their kingdom of Throndhjem. "Ye have the title
of king, as your forefathers had before you; but ye have little land or
people, and there are many to divide with. In the East, at Viken, there
are Trygve and Gudrod; and they have some right, from relationship, to
their governments. There is besides Earl Sigurd ruling over the whole
Throndhjem country; and no reason can I see why ye let so large a
kingdom be ruled by an earl, and not by yourselves. It appears wonderful
to me that ye go every summer upon viking cruises against other lands,
and allow an earl within the country to take your father's heritage from
you. Your grandfather, whose name you bear, King Harald, thought it
but a small matter to take an earl's life and land when he subdued all
Norway, and held it under him to old age."

Harald replied, "It is not so easy, mother, to cut off Earl Sigurd as
to slay a kid or a calf. Earl Sigurd is of high birth, powerful in
relations, popular, and prudent; and I think if the Throndhjem people
knew for certain there was enmity between us, they would all take his
side, and we could expect only evil from them. I don't think it would
be safe for any of us brothers to fall into the hands of the Throndhjem

Then said Gunhild, "We shall go to work another way, and not put
ourselves forward. Harald and Erling shall come in harvest to North
More, and there I shall meet you, and we shall consult together what is
to be done." This was done.


Earl Sigurd had a brother called Grjotgard, who was much younger, and
much less respected; in fact, was held in no title of honour. He had
many people, however, about him, and in summer went on viking cruises,
and gathered to himself property. Now King Harald sent messengers to
Throndhjem with offers of friendship, and with presents. The messengers
declared that King Harald was willing to be on the same friendly terms
with the earl that King Hakon had been; adding, that they wished the
earl to come to King Harald, that their friendship might be put on a
firm footing. The Earl Sigurd received well the king's messengers and
friendly message, but said that on account of his many affairs he could
not come to the king. He sent many friendly gifts, and many glad and
grateful words to the king, in return for his friendship. With this
reply the messengers set off, and went to Grjotgard, for whom they had
the same message, and brought him good presents, and offered him King
Harald's friendship, and invited him to visit the king. Grjotgard
promised to come and at the appointed time he paid a visit to King
Harald and Gunhild, and was received in the most friendly manner. They
treated him on the most intimate footing, so that Grjotgard had
access to their private consultations and secret councils. At last the
conversation, by an understanding between the king and queen, was turned
upon Earl Sigurd; and they spoke to Grjotgard about the earl having kept
him so long in obscurity, and asked him if he would not join the king's
brothers in an attack on the earl. If he would join with them, the
king promised Grjotgard that he should be his earl, and have the same
government that Sigurd had. It came so far that a secret agreement was
made between them, that Grjotgard should spy out the most favourable
opportunity of attacking by surprise Earl Sigurd, and should give King
Harald notice of it. After this agreement Grjotgard returned home with
many good presents from the king.


Earl Sigurd went in harvest into Stjoradal to guest-quarters, and from
thence went to Oglo to a feast. The earl usually had many people about
him, for he did not trust the king; but now, after friendly messages
had passed between the king and him, he had no great following of people
with him. Then Grjotgard sent word to the king that he could never
expect a better opportunity to fall upon Earl Sigurd; and immediately,
that very evening, Harald and Erling sailed into Throndhjem fjord with
several ships and many people. They sailed all night by starlight, and
Grjotgard came out to meet them. Late in the night they came to Oglo,
where Earl Sigurd was at the feast, and set fire to the house; and burnt
the house, the earl, and all his men. As soon as it was daylight, they
set out through the fjord, and south to More, where they remained a long


Hakon, the son of Earl Sigurd, was up in the interior of the Throndhjem
country when he heard this news. Great was the tumult through all the
Throndhjem land, and every vessel that could swim was put into the
water; and as soon as the people were gathered together they took Earl
Sigurd's son Hakon to be their earl and the leader of the troops, and
the whole body steered out of Throndhjem fjord. When Gunhild's sons
heard of this, they set off southwards to Raumsdal and South More; and
both parties kept eye on each other by their spies. Earl Sigurd was
killed two years after the fall of King Hakon (A.D. 962). So says Eyvind
Skaldaspiller in the "Haleygjatal":--

     "At Oglo, as I've heard, Earl Sigurd
     Was burnt to death by Norway's lord,--
     Sigurd, who once on Hadding's grave
     A feast to Odin's ravens gave.
     In Oglo's hall, amidst the feast,
     When bowls went round and ale flowed fast,
     He perished: Harald lit the fire
     Which burnt to death the son of Tyr."

Earl Hakan, with the help of his friends, maintained himself in the
Throndhjem country for three years; and during that time (A.D. 963-965)
Gunhild's sons got no revenues from it. Hakon had many a battle with
Gunhild's sons, and many a man lost his life on both sides. Of this
Einar Skalaglam speaks in his lay, called "Vellekla," which he composed
about Earl Hakon:--

     "The sharp bow-shooter on the sea
     Spread wide his fleet, for well loved he
     The battle storm: well loved the earl
     His battle-banner to unfurl,
     O'er the well-trampled battle-field
     He raised the red-moon of his shield;
     And often dared King Eirik's son
     To try the fray with the Earl Hakon."

And he also says:--

     "Who is the man who'll dare to say
     That Sigurd's son avoids the fray?
     He gluts the raven--he ne'er fears
     The arrow's song or flight of spears,
     With thundering sword he storms in war,
     As Odin dreadful; or from far
     He makes the arrow-shower fly
     To swell the sail of victory.
     The victory was dearly bought,
     And many a viking-fight was fought
     Before the swinger of the sword
     Was of the eastern country lord."

And Einar tells also how Earl Hakon avenged his father's murderer:--

     "I praise the man, my hero he,
     Who in his good ship roves the sea,
     Like bird of prey, intent to win
     Red vengeance for his slaughtered kin.
     From his blue sword the iron rain
     That freezes life poured down amain
     On him who took his father's life,
     On him and his men in the strife.
     To Odin many a soul was driven,--
     To Odin many a rich gift given.
     Loud raged the storm on battle-field--
     Axe rang on helm, and sword on shield."

The friends on both sides at last laid themselves between, and brought
proposals of peace; for the bondes suffered by this strife and war in
the land. At last it was brought to this, by the advice of prudent men,
that Earl Hakon should have the same power in the Throndhjem land which
his father Earl Sigurd had enjoyed; and the kings, on the other hand,
should have the same dominion as King Hakon had: and this agreement was
settled with the fullest promises of fidelity to it. Afterwards a great
friendship arose between Earl Hakon and Gunhild, although they sometimes
attempted to deceive each other. And thus matters stood for three years
longer (A.D. 966-968), in which time Earl Hakon sat quietly in his


King Hakon had generally his seat in Hordaland and Rogaland, and also
his brothers; but very often, also, they went to Hardanger. One summer
it happened that a vessel came from Iceland belonging to Icelanders, and
loaded with skins and peltry. They sailed to Hardanger, where they heard
the greatest number of people assembled; but when the folks came to deal
with them, nobody would buy their skins. Then the steersman went to King
Harald, whom he had been acquainted with before, and complained of his
ill luck. The king promised to visit him, and did so. King Harald was
very condescending, and full of fun. He came with a fully manned boat,
looked at the skins, and then said to the steersman, "Wilt thou give me
a present of one of these gray-skins?" "Willingly," said the steersman,
"if it were ever so many." On this the king wrapped himself up in a
gray-skin, and went back to his boat; but before they rowed away from
the ship, every man in his suite bought such another skin as the king
wore for himself. In a few days so many people came to buy skins, that
not half of them could be served with what they wanted; and thereafter
the king was called Harald Grafeld (Grayskin).


Earl Hakon came one winter to the Uplands to a feast, and it so happened
that he had intercourse with a girl of mean birth. Some time after the
girl had to prepare for her confinement, and she bore a child, a boy,
who had water poured on him, and was named Eirik. The mother carried the
boy to Earl Hakon, and said that he was the father. The earl placed
him to be brought up with a man called Thorleif the Wise, who dwelt in
Medaldal, and was a rich and powerful man, and a great friend of the
earl. Eirik gave hopes very early that he would become an able man, was
handsome in countenance, and stout and strong for a child; but the
earl did not pay much attention to him. The earl himself was one of
the handsomest men in countenance,--not tall, but very strong, and
well practised in all kinds of exercises; and withal prudent, of good
understanding, and a deadly man at arms.


It happened one harvest (A.D. 962) that Earl Hakon, on a journey in
the Uplands, came to Hedemark; and King Trygve Olafson and King Gudrod
Bjornson met him there, and Dale-Gudbrand also came to the meeting. They
had agreed to meet, and they talked together long by themselves; but so
much only was known of their business, that they were to be friends of
each other. They parted, and each went home to his own kingdom. Gunhild
and her sons came to hear of this meeting, and they suspected it must
have been to lay a treasonable plot against the kings; and they often
talked of this among themselves. When spring (A.D. 963) began to set
in, King Harald and his brother King Gudrod proclaimed that they were to
make a viking cruise, as usual, either in the West sea, or the Baltic.
The people accordingly assembled, launched the ships into the sea, and
made themselves ready to sail. When they were drinking the farewell
ale,--and they drank bravely,--much and many things were talked over
at the drink-table, and, among other things, were comparisons between
different men, and at last between the kings themselves. One said that
King Harald excelled his brothers by far, and in every way. On this King
Gudrod was very angry, and said that he was in no respect behind Harald,
and was ready to prove it. Instantly both parties were so inflamed that
they challenged each other to battle, and ran to their arms. But some of
the guests who were less drunk, and had more understanding, came between
them, and quieted them; and each went to his ship, but nobody expected
that they would all sail together. Gudrod sailed east ward along the
land, and Harald went out to sea, saying he would go to the westward;
but when he came outside of the islands he steered east along the coast,
outside of the rocks and isles. Gudrod, again, sailed inside, through
the usual channel, to Viken, and eastwards to Folden. He then sent
a message to King Trygve to meet him, that they might make a cruise
together in summer in the Baltic to plunder. Trygve accepted willingly,
and as a friend, the invitation; and as heard King Gudrod had but few
people with him, he came to meet him with a single boat. They met
at Veggen, to the east of Sotanes; but just as they were come to the
meeting place, Gudrod's men ran up and killed King Trygve and twelve
men. He lies buried at a place called Trygve's Cairn (A.D. 963).


King Harald sailed far outside of the rocks and isles; but set his
course to Viken, and came in the night-time to Tunsberg, and heard that
Gudrod Bjornson was at a feast a little way up the country. Then King
Harald set out immediately with his followers, came in the night, and
surrounded the house. King Gudrod Bjornson went out with his people;
but after a short resistance he fell, and many men with him. Then King
Harald joined his brother King Gudrod, and they subdued all Viken.


King Gudrod Bjornson had made a good and suitable marriage, and had
by his wife a son called Harald, who had been sent to be fostered to
Grenland to a lenderman called Hroe the White. Hroe's son, called Hrane
Vidforle (the Far-travelled), was Harald's foster-brother, and about
the same age. After his father Gudrod's fall, Harald, who was called
Grenske, fled to the Uplands, and with him his foster-brother Hrane,
and a few people. Harald staid a while there among his relations; but
as Eirik's sons sought after every man who interfered with them, and
especially those who might oppose them, Harald Grenske's friends and
relations advised him to leave the country. Harald therefore went
eastward into Svithjod, and sought shipmates, that he might enter into
company with those who went out a cruising to gather property. Harald
became in this way a remarkably able man. There was a man in Svithjod at
that time called Toste, one of the most powerful and clever in the land
among those who had no high name or dignity; and he was a great warrior,
who had been often in battle, and was therefore called Skoglar-Toste.
Harald Grenske came into his company, and cruised with Toste in summer;
and wherever Harald came he was well thought of by every one. In the
winter Harald, after passing two years in the Uplands, took up his abode
with Toste, and lived five years with him. Toste had a daughter, who
was both young and handsome, but she was proud and high-minded. She was
called Sigrid, and was afterwards married to the Swedish king, Eirik
the Victorious, and had a son by him, called Olaf the Swede, who was
afterwards king of Svithjod. King Eirik died in a sick-bed at Upsala ten
years after the death of Styrbjorn.


Gunhild's sons levied a great army in Viken (A.D. 963), and sailed along
the land northwards, collecting people and ships on the way out of every
district. They then made known their intent, to proceed northwards with
their army against Earl Hakon in Throndhjem. When Earl Hakon heard this
news, he also collected men, and fitted out ships; and when he heard
what an overwhelming force Gunhild's sons had with them, he steered
south with his fleet to More, pillaging wherever he came, and
killing many people. He then sent the whole of the bonde army back to
Throndhjem; but he himself, with his men-at-arms, proceeded by both the
districts of More and Raumsdal, and had his spies out to the south of
Stad to spy the army of Gunhild's sons; and when he heard they were come
into the Fjords, and were waiting for a fair wind to sail northwards
round Stad, Earl Hakon set out to sea from the north side of Stad, so
far that his sails could not be seen from the land, and then sailed
eastward on a line with the coast, and came to Denmark, from whence he
sailed into the Baltic, and pillaged there during the summer. Gunhild's
sons conducted their army north to Throndhjem, and remained there
the whole summer collecting the scat and duties. But when summer
was advanced they left Sigurd Slefa and Gudron behind; and the other
brothers returned eastward with the levied army they had taken up in


Earl Hakon, towards harvest (A.D. 963), sailed into the Bothnian Gulf
to Helsingjaland, drew his ships up there on the beach, and took the
land-ways through Helsingjaland and Jamtaland, and so eastwards round
the dividing ridge (the Kjol, or keel of the country), and down into the
Throndhjem district. Many people streamed towards him, and he fitted out
ships. When the sons of Gunhild heard of this they got on board their
ships, and sailed out of the Fjord; and Earl Hakon came to his seat at
Hlader, and remained there all winter. The sons of Gunhild, on the other
hand, occupied More; and they and the earl attacked each other in
turns, killing each other's people. Earl Hakon kept his dominions of
Throndhjem, and was there generally in the winter; but in summer he
sometimes went to Helsingjaland, where he went on board of his ships
and sailed with them down into the Baltic, and plundered there; and
sometimes he remained in Throndhjem, and kept an army on foot, so that
Gunhild's sons could get no hold northwards of Stad.


One summer Harald Grayskin with his troops went north to Bjarmaland,
where be forayed, and fought a great battle with the inhabitants on the
banks of the Vina (Dwina). King Harald gained the victory, killed many
people, plundered and wasted and burned far and wide in the land, and
made enormous booty. Glum Geirason tells of it thus:--

     "I saw the hero Harald chase
     With bloody sword Bjarme's race:
     They fly before him through the night,
     All by their burning city's light.
     On Dwina's bank, at Harald's word,
     Arose the storm of spear and sword.
     In such a wild war-cruise as this,
     Great would he be who could bring peace."

King Sigurd Slefa came to the Herse Klyp's house. Klyp was a son of
Thord, and a grandson of Hordakare, and was a man of power and great
family. He was not at home; but his wife Alof give a good reception to
the king, and made a great feast at which there was much drinking. Alof
was a daughter of Asbjorn, and sister to Jarnskegge, north in Yrjar.
Asbjorn's brother was called Hreidar, who was father to Styrkar, whose
son was Eindride, father of Einar Tambaskielfer. In the night the king
went to bed to Alof against her will, and then set out on his journey.
The harvest thereafter, King Harald and his brother King Sigurd Slefa
went to Vors, and summoned the bondes to a Thing. There the bondes fell
on them, and would have killed them, but they escaped and took different
roads. King Harald went to Hardanger, but King Sigurd to Alrekstader.
Now when the Herse Klyp heard of this, he and his relations assembled to
attack the king; and Vemund Volubrjot (1) was chief of their troop. Now
when they came to the house they attacked the king, and Herse Klyp, it
is said, ran him through with his sword and killed him; but instantly
Klyp was killed on the spot by Erling Gamle (A.D. 965).

   ENDNOTES: (1) Volubrjotr.--Literally "the one who breaks the vala", that
     is, breaks the skulls of witches.


King Harald Grafeld and his brother King Gudrod gathered together a
great army in the east country, with which they set out northwards to
Throndhjem (A.D. 968). When Earl Hakon heard of it he collected men,
and set out to More, where he plundered. There his father's brother,
Grjotgard, had the command and defence of the country on account of
Gunhild's sons, and he assembled an army by order of the kings.
Earl Hakon advanced to meet him, and gave him battle; and there fell
Grjotgard and two other earls, and many a man besides. So says Einar

     "The helm-crown'd Hakon, brave as stout,
     Again has put his foes to rout.
     The bowl runs o'er with Odin's mead, (1)
     That fires the skald when mighty deed
     Has to be sung.  Earl Hakon's sword,
     In single combat, as I've heard,
     Three sons of earls from this one fray
     To dwell with Odin drove away." (2)

Thereafter Earl Hakon went out to sea, and sailed outside the coast,
and came to Denmark. He went to the Danish King, Harald Gormson, and was
well received by him, and staid with him all winter (A.D. 969). At that
time there was also with the Danish king a man called Harald, a son of
Knut Gormson, and a brother's son of King Harald. He was lately come
home from a long viking cruise, on which he had gathered great riches,
and therefore he was called Gold Harald. He thought he had a good chance
of coming to the Danish kingdom.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Odin's mead, called Bodn, was the blood or mead the sons
of     Brage, the god of poets, drank to inspire them.--L.
(2) To dwell with Odin,--viz. slew them.--L.


King Harald Grafeld and his brothers proceeded northwards to Throndhjem,
where they met no opposition. They levied the scat-duties, and all other
revenues, and laid heavy penalties upon the bondes; for the kings had
for a long time received but little income from Throndhjem, because Earl
Hakon was there with many troops, and was at variance with these kings.
In autumn (A.D. 968) King Harald went south with the greater part of
the men-at-arms, but King Erlin remained behind with his men. He raised
great contributions from the bondes, and pressed severely on them; at
which the bondes murmured greatly, and submitted to their losses with
impatience. In winter they gathered together in a great force to go
against King Erling, just as he was at a feast; and they gave battle to
him, and he with the most of his men fell (A.D. 969).


While Gunhild's sons reigned in Norway the seasons were always bad, and
the longer they reigned the worse were the crops; and the bondes laid
the blame on them. They were very greedy, and used the bondes harshly.
It came at length to be so bad that fish, as well as corn, were wanting.
In Halogaland there was the greatest famine and distress; for scarcely
any corn grew, and even snow was lying, and the cattle were bound in
the byres (1) all over the country until midsummer. Eyvind Skaldaspiller
describes it in his poem, as he came outside of his house and found a
thick snowdrift at that season:--

     "Tis midsummer, yet deep snows rest
     On Odin's mother's frozen breast:
     Like Laplanders, our cattle-kind
     In stall or stable we must bind."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Byres = gards or farms.


Eyvind composed a poem about the people of Iceland, for which they
rewarded him by each bonde giving him three silver pennies, of full
weight and white in the fracture. And when the silver was brought
together at the Althing, the people resolved to have it purified, and
made into a row of clasps; and after the workmanship of the silver was
paid, the row of clasps was valued at fifty marks. This they sent to
Eyvind; but Eyvind was obliged to separate the clasps from each other,
and sell them to buy food for his household. But the same spring a shoal
of herrings set in upon the fishing ground beyond the coast-side, and
Eyvind manned a ship's boat with his house servants and cottars, and
rowed to where the herrings were come, and sang:--

     "Now let the steed of ocean bound
     O'er the North Sea with dashing sound:
     Let nimble tern and screaming gull
     Fly round and round--our net is full.
     Fain would I know if Fortune sends
     A like provision to my friends.
     Welcome provision 'tis, I wot,
     That the whale drives to our cook's pot."

So entirely were his movable goods exhausted, that he was obliged to
sell his arrows to buy herrings, or other meat for his table:--

     "Our arms and ornaments of gold
     To buy us food we gladly sold:
     The arrows of the bow gave we
     For the bright arrows of the sea." (1)

   ENDNOTES: (1) Herrings, from their swift darting along, are called the
     arrows of the sea.



Hitherto the narrative has been more or less fragmentary. With Olaf
Trygvason's Saga reliable history begins, and the narration is full and
connected. The story of Hakon the earl is incorporated in this saga.

Accounts of Olaf Trygvason may be found in Od the Monk's legendary saga,
in parts of "Agrip", "Historia Norvegiae", and in Thjodrek. Icelandic
works on this epoch are:

"Egla", "Eyrbyggja", "Finboga", "Floamanna", "Faereyinga", "Hallfredar
Saga", "Havardar Saga", "Are's Islendinga-bok", "Kristni Saga",
"Laxdaela", "Ljosvetninga", "Njala", "Orkneyinga", "Viga Glums Saga",
and "Viga Styrs Saga".

The skalds quoted are: Glum Geirason, Eyvind Finson, Skaldaspiller,
Einar Skalaglam, Tind Halkelson, Eyjolf Dadaskald, Hallarstein,
Halfred Vandraedaskald, Haldor Ukristne, Skule Thorsteinson, and Thord


King Trygve Olafson had married a wife who was called Astrid. She was a
daughter of Eirik Bjodaskalle, a great man, who dwelt at Oprustader. But
after Trygve's death (A.D. 963) Astrid fled, and privately took with her
all the loose property she could. Her foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg,
followed her, and never left her; and others of her faithful followers
spied about to discover her enemies, and where they were. Astrid was
pregnant with a child of King Trygve, and she went to a lake, and
concealed herself in a holm or small island in it with a few men. Here
her child was born, and it was a boy; and water was poured over it, and
it was called Olaf after the grandfather. Astrid remained all summer
here in concealment; but when the nights became dark, and the day began
to shorten and the weather to be cold, she was obliged to take to the
land, along with Thorolf and a few other men. They did not seek for
houses unless in the night-time, when they came to them secretly;
and they spoke to nobody. One evening, towards dark, they came to
Oprustader, where Astrid's father Eirik dwelt, and privately sent a man
to Eirik to tell him; and Eirik took them to an out-house, and spread a
table for them with the best of food. When Astrid had been here a short
time her travelling attendants left her, and none remained, behind with
her but two servant girls, her child Olaf, Thorolf Lusarskeg, and his
son Thorgils, who was six years old; and they remained all winter (A.D.


After Trygve Olafson's murder, Harald Grafeld and his brother Gudrod
went to the farm which he owned; but Astrid was gone, and they could
learn no tidings of her. A loose report came to their ears that she was
pregnant to King Trygve; but they soon went away northwards, as before
related. As soon as they met their mother Gunhild they told her all that
had taken place. She inquired particularly about Astrid, and they told
her the report they had heard; but as Gunhild's sons the same harvest
and winter after had bickerings with Earl Hakon, as before related, they
did not seek after Astrid and her son that winter.


The spring after (A.D. 964) Gunhild sent spies to the Uplands, and all
the way down to Viken, to spy what they could about Astrid; and her men
came back, and could only tell her that Astrid must be with her father
Eirik, and it was probable was bringing up her infant, the son of
Trygve. Then Gunhild, without delay, sent off men well furnished with
arms and horses, and in all a troop of thirty; and as their leader she
sent a particular friend of her own, a powerful man called Hakon. Her
orders were to go to Oprustader, to Eirik, and take King Trygve's son
from thence, and bring the child to her; and with these orders the men
went out. Now when they were come to the neighbourhood of Oprustader,
some of Eirik's friends observed the troop of travellers, and about the
close of the day brought him word of their approach. Eirik immediately,
in the night, made preparation for Astrid's flight, gave her good
guides, and send her away eastward to Svithjod, to his good friend Hakon
Gamle, who was a powerful man there. Long before day they departed,
and towards evening they reached a domain called Skaun. Here they saw
a large mansion, towards which they went, and begged a night's lodging.
For the sake of concealment they were clad in mean clothing. There
dwelt here a bonde called Bjorn Eiterkveisa, who was very rich, but very
inhospitable. He drove them away; and therefore, towards dark, they went
to another domain close by that was called Vidar. Thorstein was the name
of the bonde; and he gave them lodging, and took good care of them,
so that they slept well, and were well entertained. Early that morning
Gunhild's men had come to Oprustader, and inquired for Astrid and her
son. As Eirik told them she was not there, they searched the whole
house, and remained till late in the day before they got any news of
Astrid. Then they rode after her the way she had taken, and late
at night they came to Bjorn Eiterkveisa in Skaun, and took up their
quarters there. Hakon asked Bjorn if he knew anything about Astrid, and
he said some people had been there in the evening wanting lodgings;
"but I drove them away, and I suppose they have gone to some of the
neighbouring houses." Thorstein's labourer was coming from the forest,
having left his work at nightfall, and called in at Bjorn's house
because it was in his way; and finding there were guests come to the
house, and learning their business, he comes to Thorstein and tells him
of it. As about a third part of the night was still remaining, Thorstein
wakens his guests and orders them in an angry voice to go about their
business; but as soon as they were out of the house upon the road,
Thorstein tells them that Gunhild's messengers were at Bjorn's house,
and are upon the trace of them. They entreat of him to help them, and
he gave them a guide and some provisions. He conducted them through a
forest to a lake, in which there was an islet overgrown with reeds. They
waded out to the islet, and hid themselves among the reeds. Early in the
morning Hakon rode away from Bjorn's into the township, and wherever he
came he asked after Astrid; and when he came to Thorstein's he asked if
she had been there. He said that some people had been there; but as soon
as it was daylight they had set off again, eastwards, to the forest.
Hakon made Thorstein go along with them, as he knew all the roads and
hiding-places. Thorstein went with them; but when they were come into
the woods, he led them right across the way Astrid had taken. They went
about and about the whole day to no purpose, as they could find no trace
of her, so they turned back to tell Gunhild the end of their travel.
Astrid and her friends proceeded on their journey, and came to Svithjod,
to Hakon Gamle (the Old), where she and her son remained a long time,
and had friendly welcome.


When Gunhild, the mother of the kings, heard that Astrid and her son
Olaf were in the kingdom of Svithjod, she again sent Hakon, with a
good attendance, eastward, to Eirik king of Sweden, with presents and
messages of friendship. The ambassadors were well received and well
treated. Hakon, after a time, disclosed his errand to the king, saying
that Gunhild had sent him with the request that the king would assist
him in getting hold of Olaf Trygvason, to conduct him to Norway, where
Gunhild would bring him up. The king gave Hakon people with him, and he
rode with them to Hakon the Old, where Hakon desired, with many friendly
expressions, that Olaf should go with him. Hakon the Old returned a
friendly answer, saying that it depended entirely upon Olaf's mother.
But Astrid would on no account listen to the proposal; and the
messengers had to return as they came, and to tell King Eirik how the
matter stood. The ambassadors then prepared to return home, and asked
the king for some assistance to take the boy, whether Hakon the Old
would or not. The king gave them again some attendants; and when they
came to Hakon the Old, they again asked for the boy, and on his refusal
to deliver him they used high words and threatened violence. But one of
the slaves, Buste by name, attacked Hakon, and was going to kill him;
and they barely escaped from the thralls without a cudgelling, and
proceeded home to Norway to tell Gunhild their ill success, and that
they had only seen Olaf.


Astrid had a brother called Sigurd, a son of Eirik Bjodaskalle, who had
long been abroad in Gardarike (Russia) with King Valdemar, and was there
in great consideration. Astrid had now a great inclination to travel to
her brother there. Hakon the Old gave her good attendants, and what was
needful for the journey, and she set out with some merchants. She had
then been two years (A.D. 965-966) with Hakon the Old, and Olaf was
three years of age. As they sailed out into the Baltic, they were
captured by vikings of Eistland, who made booty both of the people and
goods, killing some, and dividing others as slaves. Olaf was separated
from his mother, and an Eistland man called Klerkon got him as his share
along with Thorolf and Thorgils. Klerkon thought that Thorolf was too
old for a slave, and that there was not much work to be got out of him,
so he killed him; but took the boys with him, and sold them to a man
called Klerk for a stout and good ram. A third man, called Reas, bought
Olaf for a good cloak. Reas had a wife called Rekon, and a son by her
whose name was Rekone. Olaf was long with them, was treated well, and
was much beloved by the people. Olaf was six years in Eistland in this
banishment (A.D. 987-972).


Sigurd, the son of Eirik (Astrid's brother), came into Eistland from
Novgorod, on King Valdemar's business to collect the king's taxes and
rents. Sigurd came as a man of consequence, with many followers and
great magnificence. In the market-place he happened to observe a
remarkably handsome boy; and as he could distinguish that he was a
foreigner, he asked him his name and family. He answered him, that
his name was Olaf; that he was a son of Trygve Olafson; and Astrid, a
daughter of Eirik Bjodaskalle, was his mother. Then Sigurd knew that the
boy was his sister's son, and asked him how he came there. Olaf told him
minutely all his adventures, and Sigurd told him to follow him to the
peasant Reas. When he came there he bought both the boys, Olaf and
Thorgils, and took them with him to Holmgard. But, for the first, he
made nothing known of Olaf's relationship to him, but treated him well.


Olaf Trygvason was one day in the market-place, where there was a
great number of people. He recognized Klerkon again, who had killed his
foster-father Thorolf Lusarskeg. Olaf had a little axe in his hand, and
with it he clove Klerkon's skull down to the brain, and ran home to his
lodging, and told his friend Sigurd what he had done. Sigurd immediately
took Olaf to Queen Allogia's house, told her what had happened, and
begged her to protect the boy. She replied, that the boy appeared far
too comely to allow him to be slain; and she ordered her people to
be drawn out fully armed. In Holmgard the sacredness of peace is so
respected, that it is law there to slay whoever puts a man to death
except by judgment of law; and, according to this law and usage, the
whole people stormed and sought after the boy. It was reported that
he was in the Queen's house, and that there was a number of armed men
there. When this was told to the king, he went there with his people,
but would allow no bloodshed. It was settled at last in peace, that the
king should name the fine for the murder; and the queen paid it. Olaf
remained afterwards with the queen, and was much beloved. It is a law
at Holmgard, that no man of royal descent shall stay there without the
king's permission. Sigurd therefore told the queen of what family Olaf
was, and for what reason he had come to Russia; namely, that he could
not remain with safety in his own country: and begged her to speak to
the king about it. She did so, and begged the king to help a king's son
whose fate had been so hard; and in consequence of her entreaty the king
promised to assist him, and accordingly he received Olaf into his court,
and treated him nobly, and as a king's son. Olaf was nine years old when
he came to Russia, and he remained nine years more (A.D. 978-981) with
King Valdemar. Olaf was the handsomest of men, very stout and strong,
and in all bodily exercises he excelled every Northman that ever was
heard of.


Earl Hakon, Sigurd's son, was with the Danish king, Harald Gormson, the
winter after he had fled from Norway before Gunhild's sons. During the
winter (A.D. 969) the earl had so much care and sorrow that he took to
bed, and passed many sleepless nights, and ate and drank no more than
was needful to support his strength. Then he sent a private message to
his friends north in Throndhjem, and proposed to them that they should
kill King Erling, if they had an opportunity; adding, that he would come
to them in summer. The same winter the Throndhjem people accordingly, as
before related, killed King Erling. There was great friendship between
Earl Hakon and Gold Harald, and Harald told Hakon all his intentions. He
told him that he was tired of a ship-life, and wanted to settle on the
land; and asked Hakon if he thought his brother King Harald would agree
to divide the kingdom with him if he asked it. "I think," replied Hakon,
"that the Danish king would not deny thy right; but the best way to know
is to speak to the king himself. I know for certain so much, that
you will not get a kingdom if you don't ask for it." Soon after this
conversation Gold Harald spoke to the king about the matter, in the
presence of many great men who were friends to both; and Gold Harald
asked King Harald to divide the kingdom with him in two equal parts,
to which his royal birth and the custom of the Danish monarchy gave him
right. The king was highly incensed at this demand, and said that no man
had asked his father Gorm to be king over half of Denmark, nor yet his
grandfather King Hordaknut, or Sigurd Orm, or Ragnar Lodbrok; and he was
so exasperated and angry, that nobody ventured to speak of it to him.


Gold Harald was now worse off than before; for he had got no kingdom,
and had got the king's anger by proposing it. He went as usual to his
friend Hakon, and complained to him of his fate, and asked for good
advice, and if he could help him to get his share of the kingdom; saying
that he would rather try force, and the chance of war, than give it up.

Hakon advised him not to speak to any man so that this should be known;
"for," said he, "it concerns thy life: and rather consider with thyself
what thou art man enough to undertake; for to accomplish such a purpose
requires a bold and firm man, who will neither stick at good nor evil to
do that which is intended; for to take up great resolutions, and then to
lay them aside, would only end in dishonour."

Gold Harald replies--"I will so carry on what I begin, that I will not
hesitate to kill Harald with my own hands, if I can come thereby to
the kingdom he denies me, and which is mine by right." And so they

Now King Harald comes also to Earl Hakon, and tells him the demand on
his kingdom which Gold Harald had made, and also his answer, and that
he would upon no account consent to diminish his kingdom. "And if Gold
Harald persists in his demand, I will have no hesitation in having him
killed; for I will not trust him if he does not renounce it."

The earl answered,--"My thoughts are, that Harald has carried his demand
so far that he cannot now let it drop, and I expect nothing but war in
the land; and that he will be able to gather a great force, because his
father was so beloved. And then it would be a great enormity if you were
to kill your relation; for, as things now stand, all men would say that
he was innocent. But I am far from saying, or advising, that you should
make yourself a smaller king than your father Gorm was, who in many ways
enlarged, but never diminished his kingdom."

The king replies,--"What then is your advice,--if I am neither to divide
my kingdom, nor to get rid of my fright and danger?"

"Let us meet again in a few days," said Earl Hakon, "and I will then
have considered the matter well, and will give you my advice upon it."

The king then went away with his people.


Earl Hakon had now great reflection, and many opinions to weigh, and he
let only very few be in the house with him. In a few days King Harald
came again to the earl to speak with him, and ask if he had yet
considered fully the matter they had been talking of.

"I have," said the earl, "considered it night and day ever since, and
find it most advisable that you retain and rule over the whole of
your kingdom just as your father left it; but that you obtain for your
relation Harald another kingdom, that he also may enjoy honour and

"What kind of kingdom is that," said the king, "which I can give to
Harald, that I may possess Denmark entire?"

"It is Norway," said the earl. "The kings who are there are oppressive
to the people of the country, so that every man is against them who has
tax or service to pay."

The king replies,--"Norway is a large country, and the people fierce,
and not good to attack with a foreign army. We found that sufficiently
when Hakon defended that country; for we lost many people, and gained no
victory. Besides, Harald the son of Eirik is my foster-son, and has sat
on my knee."

The earl answers, "I have long known that you have helped Gunhild's sons
with your force, and a bad return you have got for it; but we shall get
at Norway much more easily than by fighting for it with all the Danish
force. Send a message to your foster-son Harald, Eirik's son, and offer
him the lands and fiefs which Gunhild's sons held before in Denmark.
Appoint him a meeting, and Gold Harald will soon conquer for himself a
kingdom in Norway from Harald Grafeld."

The king replies, that it would be called a bad business to deceive his
own foster-son.

"The Danes," answered the earl, "will rather say that it was better to
kill a Norwegian viking than a Danish, and your own brother's son."

They spoke so long over the matter, that they agreed on it.


Thereafter Gold Harald had a conference with Earl Hakon; and the earl
told him he had now advanced his business so far, that there was hope a
kingdom might stand open for him in Norway. "We can then continue," said
he, "our ancient friendship, and I can be of the greatest use to you in
Norway. Take first that kingdom. King Harald is now very old, and has
but one son, and cares but little about him, as he is but the son of a

The Earl talked so long to Gold Harald that the project pleased him
well; and the king, the earl, and Gold Harald often talked over the
business together. The Danish king then sent messengers north to Norway
to Harald Grafeld, and fitted them out magnificently for their journey.
They were well received by Harald. The messengers told him that Earl
Hakon was in Denmark, but was lying dangerously sick, and almost out
of his senses. They then delivered from Harald, the Danish king, the
invitation to Harald Grafeld, his foster-son, to come to him and receive
investiture of the fiefs he and his brothers before him had formerly
held in Denmark; and appointing a meeting in Jutland. Harald Grafeld
laid the matter before his mother and other friends. Their opinions were
divided. Some thought that the expedition was not without its danger,
on account of the men with whom they had to deal; but the most were in
haste to begin the journey, for at that time there was such a famine in
Norway that the kings could scarcely feed their men-at-arms; and on this
account the Fjord, on which the kings resided, usually got the name
of Hardanger (Hardacre). In Denmark, on the other hand, there had been
tolerably good crops; so that people thought that if King Harald got
fiefs, and something to rule over there they would get some assistance.
It was therefore concluded, before the messengers returned, that Harald
should travel to Denmark to the Danish king in summer, and accept the
conditions King Harald offered.


Harald Grafeld went to Denmark in the summer (A.D. 969) with three
long-ships; and Herse Arinbjorn, from the Fjord district, commanded one
of them. King Harald sailed from Viken over to Limfjord in Jutland, and
landed at the narrow neck of land where the Danish king was expected.
Now when Gold Harald heard of this, he sailed there with nine ships
which he had fitted out before for a viking cruise. Earl Hakon had also
his war force on foot; namely, twelve large ships, all ready, with which
he proposed to make an expedition. When Gold Harald had departed Earl
Hakon says to the king, "Now I don't know if we are not sailing on an
expedition, and yet are to pay the penalty of not having joined it. Gold
Harald may kill Harald Grafeld, and get the kingdom of Norway; but you
must not think he will be true to you, although you do help him to so
much power, for he told me in winter that he would take your life if he
could find opportunity to do so. Now I will win Norway for you, and kill
Gold Harald, if you will promise me a good condition under you. I will
be your earl; swear an oath of fidelity to you, and, with your help,
conquer all Norway for you; hold the country under your rule; pay you
the scat and taxes; and you will be a greater king than your father, as
you will have two kingdoms under you." The king and the earl agreed upon
this, and Hakon set off to seek Gold Harald.


Gold Harald came to the neck of land at Limfjord, and immediately
challenged Harald Grafeld to battle; and although Harald had fewer men,
he went immediately on the land, prepared for battle, and drew up his
troops. Before the lines came together Harald Grafeld urged on his men,
and told them to draw their swords. He himself advanced the foremost of
the troop, hewing down on each side. So says Glum Geirason, in Grafeld's

     "Brave were thy words in battlefield,
     Thou stainer of the snow-white shield!--
     Thou gallant war-god!  With thy voice
     Thou couldst the dying man rejoice:
     The cheer of Harald could impart
     Courage and life to every heart.
     While swinging high the blood-smeared sword,
     By arm and voice we knew our lord."

There fell Harald Grafeld. So says Glum Geirason:--

     "On Limfjord's strand, by the tide's flow,
     Stern Fate has laid King Harald low;
     The gallant viking-cruiser--he
     Who loved the isle-encircling sea.
     The generous ruler of the land
     Fell at the narrow Limfjord strand.
     Enticed by Hakon's cunning speech
     To his death-bed on Limfjord's beach."

The most of King Harald's men fell with him. There also fell Herse

This happened fifteen years after the death of Hakon, Athelstan's
foster-son, and thirteen years after that of Sigurd earl of Hlader. The
priest Are Frode says that Earl Hakon was thirteen years earl over his
father's dominions in Throndhjem district before the fall of Harald
Grafeld; but, for the last six years of Harald Grafeld's life, Are Frode
says the Earl Hakon and Gunhild's sons fought against each other, and
drove each other out of the land by turns.


Soon after Harald Grafeld's fall, Earl Hakon came up to Gold Harald, and
the earl immediately gave battle to Harald. Hakon gained the victory,
and Harald was made prisoner; but Hakon had him immediately hanged on a
gallows. Hakon then went to the Danish king, and no doubt easily settled
with him for the killing his relative Gold Harald.


Soon after King Harald Gormson ordered a levy of men over all his
kingdom, and sailed with 600 ships (1). There were with him Earl Hakon,
Harald Grenske, a son of King Gudrod, and many other great men who had
fled from their udal estates in Norway on account of Gunhild's sons. The
Danish king sailed with his fleet from the south to Viken, where all
the people of the country surrendered to him. When he came to Tunsberg
swarms of people joined him; and King Harald gave to Earl Hakon the
command of all the men who came to him in Norway, and gave him the
government over Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn, Fjord-district, South More,
Raumsdal, and North More. These seven districts gave King Harald to Earl
Hakon to rule over, with the same rights as Harald Harfager gave with
them to his sons; only with the difference, that Hakon should there, as
well as in Throndhjem, have the king's land-estates and land-tax, and
use the king's money and goods according to his necessities whenever
there was war in the country. King Harald also gave Harald Grenske
Vingulmark, Vestfold, and Agder all the way to Lidandisnes (the Naze),
together with the title of king; and let him have these dominions with
the same rights as his family in former times had held them, and as
Harald Harfager had given with them to his sons. Harald Grenske was then
eighteen years old, and he became afterwards a celebrated man. Harald
king of Denmark returned home thereafter with all his army.

     (1) i.e., 720 ships, as they were counted by long hundreds,


Earl Hakon proceeded northwards along the coast with his force; and when
Gunhild and her sons got the tidings they proceeded to gather troops,
but were ill off for men. Then they took the same resolution as before,
to sail out to sea with such men as would follow them away to the
westward (A.D. 969). They came first to the Orkney Islands, and remained
there a while. There were in Orkney then the Earls Hlodver. Arnfid,
Ljot, and Skule, the sons of Thorfin Hausakljufer.

Earl Hakon now brought all the country under him, and remained all
winter (A.D. 970) in Throndhjem. Einar Skalaglam speaks of his conquests
in "Vellekla":--

     "Norway's great watchman, Harald, now
     May bind the silk snood on his brow--
     Seven provinces he seized.  The realm
     Prospers with Hakon at the helm."

As Hakon the earl proceeded this summer along the coast subjecting all
the people to him, he ordered that over all his dominions the temples
and sacrifices should be restored, and continued as of old. So it is
said in the "Vellekla":--

     "Hakon the earl, so good and wise,
     Let all the ancient temples rise;--
     Thor's temples raised with fostering hand
     That had been ruined through the land.
     His valiant champions, who were slain
     On battle-fields across the main,
     To Thor, the thunder-god, may tell
     How for the gods all turns out well.
     The hardy warrior now once more
     Offers the sacrifice of gore;
     The shield-bearer in Loke's game
     Invokes once more great Odin's name.
     The green earth gladly yields her store,
     As she was wont in days of yore,
     Since the brave breaker of the spears
     The holy shrines again uprears.
     The earl has conquered with strong hand
     All that lies north of Viken land:
     In battle storm, and iron rain
     Hakon spreads wide his sword's domain."

The first winter that Hakon ruled over Norway the herrings set in
everywhere through the fjords to the land, and the seasons ripened to
a good crop all that had been sown. The people, therefore, laid in
seed for the next year, and got their lands sowed, and had hope of good


King Ragnfred and King Gudrod, both sons of Gunhild and Eirik, were now
the only sons of Gunhild remaining in life. So says Glum Geirason in
Grafeld's lay:--

     "When in the battle's bloody strife
     The sword took noble Harald's life,
     Half of my fortunes with him fell:
     But his two brothers, I know well,
     My loss would soon repair, should they
     Again in Norway bear the sway,
     And to their promises should stand,
     If they return to rule the land."

Ragnfred began his course in the spring after he had been a year in the
Orkney Islands. He sailed from thence to Norway, and had with him fine
troops, and large ships. When he came to Norway he learnt that Earl
Hakon was in Throndhjem; therefore he steered northwards around Stad,
and plundered in South More. Some people submitted to him; for it often
happens, when parties of armed men scour over a country, that those who
are nearest the danger seek help where they think it may be expected. As
soon as Earl Hakon heard the news of disturbance in More, he fitted out
ships, sent the war-token through the land, made ready in all haste,
and proceeded out of the fjord. He had no difficulty in assembling men.
Ragnfred and Earl Hakon met at the north corner of More; and Hakon, who
had most men, but fewer ships, began the battle. The combat was severe,
but heaviest on Hakon's side; and as the custom then was, they fought
bow to bow, and there was a current in the sound which drove all the
ships in upon the land. The earl ordered to row with the oars to the
land where landing seemed easiest. When the ships were all grounded, the
earl with all his men left them, and drew them up so far that the
enemy might not launch them down again, and then drew up his men on a
grass-field, and challenged Ragnfred to land. Ragnfred and his men laid
their vessels in along the land, and they shot at each other a long
time; but upon the land Ragnfred would not venture: and so they
separated. Ragnfred sailed with his fleet southwards around Stad; for
he was much afraid the whole forces of the country would swarm around
Hakon. Hakon, on his part, was not inclined to try again a battle, for
he thought the difference between their ships in size was too great; so
in harvest he went north to Throndhjem, and staid there all winter (A.D.
971). King Ragnfred consequently had all the country south of Stad at
his mercy; namely, Fjord district, Hordaland, Sogn, Rogaland; and he had
many people about him all winter. When spring approached he ordered out
the people and collected a large force. By going about the districts he
got many men, ships, and warlike stores sent as he required.


Towards spring Earl Hakon ordered out all the men north in the country;
and got many people from Halogaland and Naumudal; so that from Bryda to
Stad he had men from all the sea-coast. People flocked to him from all
the Throndhjem district and from Raumsdal. It was said for certain that
he had men from four great districts, and that seven earls followed him,
and a matchless number of men. So it is said in the "Vellekla":--

     "Hakon, defender of the land,
     Armed in the North his warrior-band
     To Sogn's old shore his force he led,
     And from all quarters thither sped
     War-ships and men; and haste was made
     By the young god of the sword-blade,
     The hero-viking of the wave,
     His wide domain from foes to save.
     With shining keels seven kings sailed on
     To meet this raven-feeding one.
     When the clash came, the stunning sound
     Was heard in Norway's farthest bound;
     And sea-borne corpses, floating far,
     Brought round the Naze news from the war."

Earl Hakon sailed then with his fleet southwards around Stad; and when
he heard that King Ragnfred with his army had gone towards Sogn, he
turned there also with his men to meet him: and there Ragnfred and Hakon
met. Hakon came to the land with his ships, marked out a battle-field
with hazel branches for King Ragnfred, and took ground for his own men
in it. So it is told in the "Vellekla":--

     "In the fierce battle Ragnfred then
     Met the grim foe of Vindland men;
     And many a hero of great name
     Fell in the sharp sword's bloody game.
     The wielder of fell Narve's weapon,
     The conquering hero, valiant Hakon
     Had laid his war-ships on the strand,
     And ranged his warriors on the land."

There was a great battle; but Earl Hakon, having by far the most people,
gained the victory. It took place on the Thinganes, where Sogn and
Hordaland meet.

King Rangfred fled to his ships, after 300 of his men had fallen. So it
is said in the "Vellekla":--

     "Sharp was the battle-strife, I ween,--
     Deadly and close it must have been,
     Before, upon the bloody plain,
     Three hundred corpses of the slain
     Were stretched for the black raven's prey;
     And when the conquerors took their way
     To the sea-shore, they had to tread
     O'er piled-up heaps of foemen dead."

After this battle King Ragnfred fled from Norway; but Earl Hakon
restored peace to the country, and allowed the great army which had
followed him in summer to return home to the north country, and he
himself remained in the south that harvest and winter (A.D. 972).


Earl Hakon married a girl called Thora, a daughter of the powerful Skage
Skoptason, and very beautiful she was. They had two sons, Svein and
Heming, and a daughter called Bergljot who was afterwards married to
Einar Tambaskielfer. Earl Hakon was much addicted to women, and had many
children; among others a daughter Ragnhild, whom he married to Skopte
Skagason, a brother of Thora. The Earl loved Thora so much that he held
Thora's family in higher respect than any other people, and Skopte his
brother-in-law in particular; and he gave him many great fiefs in
More. Whenever they were on a cruise together, Skopte must lay his ship
nearest to the earl's, and no other ship was allowed to come in between.


One summer that Earl Hakon was on a cruise, there was a ship with him
of which Thorleif Spake (the Wise) was steersman. In it was also
Eirik, Earl Hakon's son, then about ten or eleven years old. Now in the
evenings, as they came into harbour, Eirik would not allow any ship but
his to lie nearest to the earl's. But when they came to the south, to
More, they met Skopte the earl's brother-in-law, with a well-manned
ship; and as they rowed towards the fleet, Skopte called out that
Thorleif should move out of the harbour to make room for him, and should
go to the roadstead. Eirik in haste took up the matter, and ordered
Skopte to go himself to the roadstead. When Earl Hakon heard that his
son thought himself too great to give place to Skopte, he called to them
immediately that they should haul out from their berth, threatening them
with chastisement if they did not. When Thorleif heard this, he ordered
his men to slip their land-cable, and they did so; and Skopte laid his
vessel next to the earl's as he used to do. When they came together,
Skopte brought the earl all the news he had gathered, and the earl
communicated to Skopte all the news he had heard; and Skopte was
therefore called Tidindaskopte (the Newsman Skopte). The winter after
(A.D. 973) Eirik was with his foster-father Thorleif, and early in
spring he gathered a crew of followers, and Thorleif gave him a boat
of fifteen benches of rowers, with ship furniture, tents, and ship
provisions; and Eirik set out from the fjord, and southwards to More.
Tidindaskopte happened also to be going with a fully manned boat of
fifteen rowers' benches from one of his farms to another, and Eirik went
against him to have a battle. Skopte was slain, but Eirik granted
life to those of his men who were still on their legs. So says Eyjolf
Dadaskald in the "Banda Lay":--

     "At eve the youth went out
     To meet the warrior stout--
     To meet stout Skopte--he
     Whose war-ship roves the sea
     Like force was on each side,
     But in the whirling tide
     The young wolf Eirik slew
     Skopte, and all his crew
     And he was a gallant one,
     Dear to the Earl Hakon.
     Up, youth of steel-hard breast--
     No time hast thou to rest!
     Thy ocean wings spread wide--
     Speed o'er the foaming tide!
     Speed on--speed on thy way!
     For here thou canst not stay."

Eirik sailed along the land and came to Denmark, and went to King Harald
Gormson, and staid with him all winter (A.D. 974). In spring the
Danish king sent him north to Norway, and gave him an earldom, and the
government of Vingulmark and Raumarike, on the same terms as the small
scat-paying kings had formerly held these domains. So says Eyjolf

     "South through ocean's spray
     His dragon flew away
     To Gormson's hall renowned.
     Where the bowl goes bravely round.
     And the Danish king did place
     This youth of noble race
     Where, shield and sword in hand,
     He would aye defend his land."

Eirik became afterwards a great chief.


All this time Olaf Trygvason was in Gardarike (Russia), and highly
esteemed by King Valdemar, and beloved by the queen. King Valdemar made
him chief over the men-at-arms whom he sent out to defend the land. So
says Hallarsteid:--

     "The hater of the niggard band,
     The chief who loves the Northman's land,
     Was only twelve years old when he
     His Russian war-ships put to sea.
     The wain that ploughs the sea was then
     Loaded with war-gear by his men--
     With swords, and spears, and helms: and deep
     Out to the sea his good ships sweep."

Olaf had several battles, and was lucky as a leader of troops. He
himself kept a great many men-at-arms at his own expense out of the pay
the king gave him. Olaf was very generous to his men, and therefore
very popular. But then it came to pass, what so often happens when a
foreigner is raised to higher power and dignity than men of the country,
that many envied him because he was so favoured by the king, and also
not less so by the queen. They hinted to the king that he should take
care not to make Olaf too powerful,--"for such a man may be dangerous to
you, if he were to allow himself to be used for the purpose of doing you
or your kingdom harm; for he is extremely expert in all exercises and
feats, and very popular. We do not, indeed, know what it is he can have
to talk of so often with the queen." It was then the custom among great
monarchs that the queen should have half of the court attendants,
and she supported them at her own expense out of the scat and revenue
provided for her for that purpose. It was so also at the court of King
Valdemar that the queen had an attendance as large as the king, and they
vied with each other about the finest men, each wanting to have such
in their own service. It so fell out that the king listened to such
speeches, and became somewhat silent and blunt towards Olaf. When Olaf
observed this, he told it to the queen; and also that he had a great
desire to travel to the Northern land, where his family formerly had
power and kingdoms, and where it was most likely he would advance
himself. The queen wished him a prosperous journey, and said he would
be found a brave man wherever he might be. Olaf then made ready, went on
board, and set out to sea in the Baltic.

As he was coming from the east he made the island of Borgundarholm
(Bornholm), where he landed and plundered. The country people hastened
down to the strand, and gave him battle; but Olaf gained the victory,
and a large booty.


While Olaf lay at Borgundarholm there came on bad weather, storm, and
a heavy sea, so that his ships could not lie there; and he sailed
southwards under Vindland, where they found a good harbour. They
conducted themselves very peacefully, and remained some time. In
Vindland there was then a king called Burizleif, who had three
daughters,--Geira, Gunhild, and Astrid. The king's daughter Geira had
the power and government in that part where Olaf and his people landed,
and Dixen was the name of the man who most usually advised Queen Geira.
Now when they heard that unknown people were came to the country, who
were of distinguished appearance, and conducted themselves peaceably,
Dixen repaired to them with a message from Queen Geira, inviting the
strangers to take up their winter abode with her; for the summer was
almost spent, and the weather was severe and stormy. Now when Dixen came
to the place he soon saw that the leader was a distinguished man,
both from family and personal appearance, and he told Olaf the queen's
invitation with the most kindly message. Olaf willingly accepted the
invitation, and went in harvest (A.D. 982) to Queen Geira. They liked
each other exceedingly, and Olaf courted Queen Geira; and it was so
settled that Olaf married her the same winter, and was ruler, along with
Queen Geira, over her dominions. Halfred Vandredaskald tells of these
matters in the lay he composed about King Olaf:--

     "Why should the deeds the hero did
     In Bornholm and the East he hid?
     His deadly weapon Olaf bold
     Dyed red: why should not this be told?"


Earl Hakon ruled over Norway, and paid no scat; because the Danish king
gave him all the scat revenue that belonged to the king in Norway,
for the expense and trouble he had in defending the country against
Gunhild's sons.


The Emperor Otta (Otto) was at that time in the Saxon country, and sent
a message to King Harald, the Danish king, that he must take on the true
faith and be baptized, he and all his people whom he ruled; "otherwise,"
says the emperor, "we will march against him with an army." The Danish
king ordered the land defence to be fitted out, Danavirke (1) (the
Danish wall) to be well fortified, and his ships of war rigged out.
He sent a message also to Earl Hakon in Norway to come to him early in
spring, and with as many men as he could possibly raise. In spring (A.D.
975) Earl Hakon levied an army over the whole country which was very
numerous, and with it he sailed to meet the Danish king. The king
received him in the most honourable manner. Many other chiefs also
joined the Danish king with their men, so that he had gathered a very
large army.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Danavirke. The Danish work was a wall of earth, stones,
     and wood, with a deep ditch in front, and a castle at every
     hundred fathoms, between the rivers Eider and Slien,
     constructed by Harald Blatand (Bluetooth) to oppose the
     progress of Charlemagne.  Some traces of it still exist.


Olaf Trygvason had been all winter (A.D. 980) in Vindland, as before
related, and went the same winter to the baronies in Vindland which
had formerly been under Queen Geira, but had withdrawn themselves from
obedience and payment of taxes. There Olaf made war, killed many
people, burnt out others, took much property, and laid all of them under
subjection to him, and then went back to his castle. Early in spring
Olaf rigged out his ships and set off to sea. He sailed to Skane and
made a landing. The people of the country assembled, and gave him
battle; but King Olaf conquered, and made a great booty. He then sailed
eastward to the island of Gotland, where he captured a merchant vessel
belonging to the people of Jamtaland. They made a brave defence; but the
end of it was that Olaf cleared the deck, killed many of the men, and
took all the goods. He had a third battle in Gotland, in which he
also gained the victory, and made a great booty. So says Halfred

     "The king, so fierce in battle-fray,
     First made the Vindland men give way:
     The Gotlanders must tremble next;
     And Scania's shores are sorely vexed
     By the sharp pelting arrow shower
     The hero and his warriors pour;
     And then the Jamtaland men must fly,
     Scared by his well-known battle-cry."


The Emperor Otta assembled a great army from Saxland, Frakland,
Frisland, and Vindland. King Burizleif followed him with a large army,
and in it was his son-in-law, Olaf Trygvason. The emperor had a great
body of horsemen, and still greater of foot people, and a great army
from Holstein. Harald, the Danish king, sent Earl Hakon with the army
of Northmen that followed him southwards to Danavirke, to defend his
kingdom on that side. So it is told in the "Vellekla":--

     "Over the foaming salt sea spray
     The Norse sea-horses took their way,
     Racing across the ocean-plain
     Southwards to Denmark's green domain.
     The gallant chief of Hordaland
     Sat at the helm with steady hand,
     In casque and shield, his men to bring
     From Dovre to his friend the king.
     He steered his war-ships o'er the wave
     To help the Danish king to save
     Mordalf, who, with a gallant band
     Was hastening from the Jutes' wild land,
     Across the forest frontier rude,
     With toil and pain through the thick wood.
     Glad was the Danish king, I trow,
     When he saw Hakon's galley's prow.
     The monarch straightway gave command
     To Hakon, with a steel-clad band,
     To man the Dane-work's rampart stout,
     And keep the foreign foemen out."

The Emperor Otta came with his army from the south to Danavirke, but
Earl Hakon defended the rampart with his men. The Dane-work (Danavirke)
was constructed in this way:--Two fjords run into the land, one on each
side; and in the farthest bight of these fjords the Danes had made a
great wall of stone, turf, and timber, and dug a deep and broad ditch in
front of it, and had also built a castle over each gate of it. There was
a hard battle there, of which the "Vellekla" speaks:--

     "Thick the storm of arrows flew,
     Loud was the din, black was the view
     Of close array of shield and spear
     Of Vind, and Frank, and Saxon there.
     But little recked our gallant men;
     And loud the cry might be heard then
     Of Norway's brave sea-roving son--
     'On 'gainst the foe!  On!  Lead us on!"

Earl Hakon drew up his people in ranks upon all the gate-towers of the
wall, but the greater part of them he kept marching along the wall
to make a defence wheresoever an attack was threatened. Many of
the emperor's people fell without making any impression on the
fortification, so the emperor turned back without farther attempt at an
assault on it. So it is said in the "Vellekla":--

     "They who the eagle's feast provide
     In ranked line fought side by side,
     'Gainst lines of war-men under shields\
     Close packed together on the fields,
     Earl Hakon drive by daring deeds
     The Saxons to their ocean-steeds;
     And the young hero saves from fall
     The Danavirke--the people's wall."

After this battle Earl Hakon went back to his ships, and intended to
sail home to Norway; but he did not get a favourable wind, and lay for
some time outside at Limafjord.


The Emperor Otta turned back with his troops to Slesvik, collected his
ships of war, and crossed the fjord of Sle into Jutland. As soon as the
Danish king heard of this he marched his army against him, and there was
a battle, in which the emperor at last got the victory. The Danish king
fled to Limafjord and took refuge in the island Marsey. By the help
of mediators who went between the king and the emperor, a truce and a
meeting between them were agreed on. The Emperor Otta and the Danish
king met upon Marsey. There Bishop Poppo instructed King Harald in
the holy faith; he bore red hot irons in his hands, and exhibited his
unscorched hands to the king. Thereafter King Harald allowed himself to
be baptized, and also the whole Danish army. King Harald, while he
was in Marsey, had sent a message to Hakon that he should come to his
succour; and the earl had just reached the island when the king had
received baptism. The king sends word to the earl to come to him, and
when they met the king forced the earl to allow himself also to be
baptized. So Earl Hakon and all the men who were with him were baptized;
and the king gave them priests and other learned men with them, and
ordered that the earl should make all the people in Norway be baptized.
On that they separated; and the earl went out to sea, there to wait for
a wind.


When a wind came with which he thought he could get clear out to sea, he
put all the learned men on shore again, and set off to the ocean; but
as the wind came round to the south-west, and at last to west, he sailed
eastward, out through Eyrarsund, ravaging the land on both sides. He
then sailed eastward along Skane, plundering the country wherever he
came. When he got east to the skerries of East Gautland, he ran in and
landed, and made a great blood-sacrifice. There came two ravens flying
which croaked loudly; and now, thought the earl, the blood-offering has
been accepted by Odin, and he thought good luck would be with him any
day he liked to go to battle. Then he set fire to his ships, landed
his men, and went over all the country with armed hand. Earl Ottar, who
ruled over Gautland, came against him, and they held a great battle with
each other; but Earl Hakon gained the day, and Earl Ottar and a great
part of his men were killed. Earl Hakon now drove with fire and
sword over both the Gautlands, until he came into Norway; and then he
proceeded by land all the way north to Throndhjem. The "Vellekla" tells
about this:--

     "On the silent battle-field,
     In viking garb, with axe and shield,
     The warrior, striding o'er the slain,
     Asks of the gods 'What days will gain?'
     Two ravens, flying from the east,
     Come croaking to the bloody feast:
     The warrior knows what they foreshow--
     The days when Gautland blood will flow.
     A viking-feast Earl Hakon kept,
     The land with viking fury swept,
     Harrying the land far from the shore
     Where foray ne'er was known before.
     Leaving the barren cold coast side,
     He raged through Gautland far and wide,--
     Led many a gold-decked viking shield
     O'er many a peaceful inland field.
     Bodies on bodies Odin found
     Heaped high upon each battle ground:
     The moor, as if by witchcraft's power,
     Grows green, enriched by bloody shower.
     No wonder that the gods delight
     To give such luck in every fight
     To Hakon's men--for he restores
     Their temples on our Norway shores."


The Emperor Otta went back to his kingdom in the Saxon land, and parted
in friendship with the Danish king. It is said that the Emperor Otta
stood godfather to Svein, King Harald's son, and gave him his name;
so that he was baptized Otta Svein. King Harald held fast by his
Christianity to his dying day.

King Burizleif went to Vindland, and his son-in-law King Olaf went with
him. This battle is related also by Halfred Vandredaskald in his song on

     "He who through the foaming surges
     His white-winged ocean-coursers urges,
     Hewed from the Danes, in armour dressed,
     The iron bark off mail-clad breast."


Olaf Trygvason was three years in Vindland (A.D. 982-984) when Geira
his queen fell sick, and she died of her illness. Olaf felt his loss so
great that he had no pleasure in Vindland after it. He provided himself,
therefore, with warships, and went out again a plundering, and
plundered first in Frisland, next in Saxland, and then all the way to
Flaemingjaland (Flanders). So says Halfred Vandredaskald:--

     "Olaf's broad axe of shining steel
     For the shy wolf left many a meal.
     The ill-shaped Saxon corpses lay
     Heaped up, the witch-wife's horses' (1) prey.
     She rides by night: at pools of blood.
     Where Frisland men in daylight stood,
     Her horses slake their thirst, and fly
     On to the field where Flemings lie.
     The raven-friend in Odin's dress--
     Olaf, who foes can well repress,
     Left Flemish flesh for many a meal
     With his broad axe of shining steel."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Ravens were the witches' horses.--L.


Thereafter Olaf Trygvason sailed to England, and ravaged wide around
in the land. He sailed all the way north to Northumberland, where he
plundered; and thence to Scotland, where he marauded far and wide.
Then he went to the Hebrides, where he fought some battles; and then
southwards to Man, where he also fought. He ravaged far around in
Ireland, and thence steered to Bretland, which he laid waste with fire
and sword, and all the district called Cumberland. He sailed westward
from thence to Valland, and marauded there. When he left the west,
intending to sail to England, he came to the islands called the Scilly
Isles, lying westward from England in the ocean. Thus tells Halfred
Vandraskald of these events:--

     The brave young king, who ne'er retreats,
     The Englishman in England beats.
     Death through Northumberland is spread
     From battleaxe and broad spearhead.
     Through Scotland with his spears he rides;
     To Man his glancing ships he guides:
     Feeding the wolves where'er he came,
     The young king drove a bloody game.
     The gallant bowmen in the isles
     Slew foemen, who lay heaped in piles.
     The Irish fled at Olaf's name--
     Fled from a young king seeking fame.
     In Bretland, and in Cumberland,
     People against him could not stand:
     Thick on the fields their corpses lay,
     To ravens and howling wolves a prey."

Olaf Trygvason had been four years on this cruise (A.D. 985-988), from
the time he left Vindland till he came to the Scilly Islands.


While Olaf Trygvason lay in the Scilly Isles he heard of a seer, or
fortune-teller, on the islands, who could tell beforehand things not
yet done, and what he foretold many believed was really fulfilled. Olaf
became curious to try this man's gift of prophecy. He therefore sent
one of his men, who was the handsomest and strongest, clothed him
magnificently, and bade him say he was the king; for Olaf was known
in all countries as handsomer, stronger, and braver than all others,
although, after he had left Russia, he retained no more of his name than
that he was called Ole, and was Russian. Now when the messenger came
to the fortune-teller, and gave himself out for the king, he got the
answer, "Thou art not the king, but I advise thee to be faithful to thy
king." And more he would not say to that man. The man returned, and told
Olaf, and his desire to meet the fortune-teller was increased; and now
he had no doubt of his being really a fortune-teller. Olaf repaired
himself to him, and, entering into conversation, asked him if he could
foresee how it would go with him with regard to his kingdom, or of any
other fortune he was to have. The hermit replies in a holy spirit of
prophecy, "Thou wilt become a renowned king, and do celebrated deeds.
Many men wilt thou bring to faith and baptism, and both to thy own and
others' good; and that thou mayst have no doubt of the truth of this
answer, listen to these tokens: When thou comest to thy ships many of
thy people will conspire against thee, and then a battle will follow
in which many of thy men will fall, and thou wilt be wounded almost to
death, and carried upon a shield to thy ship; yet after seven days thou
shalt be well of thy wounds, and immediately thou shalt let thyself be
baptized." Soon after Olaf went down to his ships, where he met some
mutineers and people who would destroy him and his men. A fight took
place, and the result was what the hermit had predicted, that Olaf was
wounded, and carried upon a shield to his ship, and that his wound was
healed in seven days. Then Olaf perceived that the man had spoken truth,
that he was a true fortune-teller, and had the gift of prophecy. Olaf
went once more to the hermit, and asked particularly how he came to have
such wisdom in foreseeing things to be. The hermit replied, that the
Christian God himself let him know all that he desired; and he
brought before Olaf many great proofs of the power of the Almighty.
In consequence of this encouragement Olaf agreed to let himself be
baptized, and he and all his followers were baptized forthwith. He
remained here a long time, took the true faith, and got with him priests
and other learned men.


In autumn (A.D. 988) Olaf sailed from Scilly to England, where he
put into a harbour, but proceeded in a friendly way; for England was
Christian, and he himself had become Christian. At this time a summons
to a Thing went through the country, that all men should come to hold a
Thing. Now when the Thing was assembled a queen called Gyda came to it,
a sister of Olaf Kvaran, who was king of Dublin in Ireland. She had been
married to a great earl in England, and after his death she was at the
head of his dominions. In her territory there was a man called Alfvine,
who was a great champion and single-combat man. He had paid his
addresses to her; but she gave for answer, that she herself would choose
whom of the men in her dominions she would take in marriage; and on
that account the Thing was assembled, that she might choose a husband.
Alfvine came there dressed out in his best clothes, and there were many
well-dressed men at the meeting. Olaf had come there also; but had on
his bad-weather clothes, and a coarse over-garment, and stood with his
people apart from the rest of the crowd. Gyda went round and looked at
each, to see if any appeared to her a suitable man. Now when she came to
where Olaf stood she looked at him straight in the face, and asked "what
sort of man he was?"

He said, "I am called Ole; and I am a stranger here."

Gyda replies, "Wilt thou have me if I choose thee?"

"I will not say no to that," answered he; and he asked what her name
was, and her family, and descent.

"I am called Gyda," said she; "and am daughter of the king of Ireland,
and was married in this country to an earl who ruled over this
territory. Since his death I have ruled over it, and many have courted
me, but none to whom I would choose to be married."

She was a young and handsome woman. They afterwards talked over the
matter together, and agreed, and Olaf and Gyda were betrothed.


Alfvine was very ill pleased with this. It was the custom then in
England, if two strove for anything, to settle the matter by single
combat (1); and now Alfvine challenges Olaf Trygvason to fight about
this business. The time and place for the combat were settled, and that
each should have twelve men with him. When they met, Olaf told his men
to do exactly as they saw him do. He had a large axe; and when Alfvine
was going to cut at him with his sword he hewed away the sword out of
his hand, and with the next blow struck down Alfvine himself. He then
bound him fast. It went in the same way with all Alfvine's men. They
were beaten down, bound, and carried to Olaf's lodging. Thereupon he
ordered Alfvine to quit the country, and never appear in it again; and
Olaf took all his property. Olaf in this way got Gyda in marriage, and
lived sometimes in England, and sometimes in Ireland.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Holm-gang: so called because the combatants went to a holm
     or uninhabited isle to fight in Norway.--L.


While Olaf was in Ireland he was once on an expedition which went by
sea. As they required to make a foray for provisions on the coast, some
of his men landed, and drove down a large herd of cattle to the strand.
Now a peasant came up, and entreated Olaf to give him back the cows that
belonged to him. Olaf told him to take his cows, if he could distinguish
them; "but don't delay our march." The peasant had with him a large
house-dog, which he put in among the herd of cattle, in which many
hundred head of beasts were driven together. The dog ran into the herd,
and drove out exactly the number which the peasant had said he wanted;
and all were marked with the same mark, which showed that the dog knew
the right beasts, and was very sagacious. Olaf then asked the peasant
if he would sell him the dog. "I would rather give him to you," said the
peasant. Olaf immediately presented him with a gold ring in return, and
promised him his friendship in future. This dog was called Vige, and was
the very best of dogs, and Olaf owned him long afterwards.


The Danish king, Harald Gormson, heard that Earl Hakon had thrown off
Christianity, and had plundered far and wide in the Danish land. The
Danish king levied an army, with which he went to Norway; and when he
came to the country which Earl Hakon had to rule over he laid waste the
whole land, and came with his fleet to some islands called Solunder.
Only five houses were left standing in Laeradal; but all the people
fled up to the mountains, and into the forest, taking with them all the
moveable goods they could carry with them. Then the Danish king proposed
to sail with his fleet to Iceland, to avenge the mockery and scorn
all the Icelanders had shown towards him; for they had made a law in
Iceland, that they should make as many lampoons against the Danish king
as there were headlands in his country; and the reason was, because a
vessel which belonged to certain Icelanders was stranded in Denmark, and
the Danes took all the property, and called it wreck. One of the king's
bailiffs called Birger was to blame for this; but the lampoons were made
against both. In the lampoons were the following lines:--

     "The gallant Harald in the field
     Between his legs lets drop his shield;
     Into a pony he was changed.
     And kicked his shield, and safely ranged.
     And Birger, he who dwells in halls
     For safety built with four stone walls,
     That these might be a worthy pair,
     Was changed into a pony mare."


King Harald told a warlock to hie to Iceland in some altered shape,
and to try what he could learn there to tell him: and he set out in the
shape of a whale. And when he came near to the land he went to the west
side of Iceland, north around the land, where he saw all the mountains
and hills full of guardian-spirits, some great, some small. When he came
to Vapnafjord he went in towards the land, intending to go on shore; but
a huge dragon rushed down the dale against him with a train of serpents,
paddocks, and toads, that blew poison towards him. Then he turned to
go westward around the land as far as Eyjafjord, and he went into the
fjord. Then a bird flew against him, which was so great that its wings
stretched over the mountains on either side of the fjord, and many
birds, great and small, with it. Then he swam farther west, and then
south into Breidafjord. When he came into the fjord a large grey bull
ran against him, wading into the sea, and bellowing fearfully, and he
was followed by a crowd of land-spirits. From thence he went round by
Reykjanes, and wanted to land at Vikarsskeid, but there came down a
hill-giant against him with an iron staff in his hands. He was a head
higher than the mountains, and many other giants followed him. He then
swam eastward along the land, and there was nothing to see, he said, but
sand and vast deserts, and, without the skerries, high-breaking surf;
and the ocean between the countries was so wide that a long-ship
could not cross it. At that time Brodhelge dwelt in Vapnafjord, Eyjolf
Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Geller in Breidafjord, and Thorod Gode in
Olfus. Then the Danish king turned about with his fleet, and sailed back
to Denmark.

Hakon the earl settled habitations again in the country that had been
laid waste, and paid no scat as long as he lived to Denmark.


Svein, King Harald's son, who afterwards was called Tjuguskeg (forked
beard), asked his father King Harald for a part of his kingdom; but now,
as before, Harald would not listen to dividing the Danish dominions, and
giving him a kingdom. Svein collected ships of war, and gave out that he
was going on a viking cruise; but when all his men were assembled, and
the Jomsborg viking Palnatoke had come to his assistance he ran into
Sealand to Isafjord, where his father had been for some time with his
ships ready to proceed on an expedition. Svein instantly gave battle,
and the combat was severe. So many people flew to assist King Harald,
that Svein was overpowered by numbers, and fled. But King Harald
received a wound which ended in his death: and Svein was chosen King of
Denmark. At this time Sigvalde was earl over Jomsborg in Vindland. He
was a son of King Strutharald, who had ruled over Skane. Heming, and
Thorkel the Tall, were Sigvalde's brothers. Bue the Thick from Bornholm,
and Sigurd his brother, were also chiefs among the Jomsborg vikings:
and also Vagn, a son of Ake and Thorgunna, and a sister's son of Bue and
Sigurd. Earl Sigvalde had taken King Svein prisoner, and carried him
to Vindland, to Jomsborg, where he had forced him to make peace with
Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, and to take him as the peace-maker
between them. Earl Sigvalde was married to Astrid, a daughter of King
Burizleif; and told King Svein that if he did not accept of his terms,
he would deliver him into the hands of the Vinds. The king knew that
they would torture him to death, and therefore agreed to accept the
earl's mediation. The earl delivered this judgment between them--that
King Svein should marry Gunhild, King Burizleif's daughter; and King
Burizleif again Thyre, a daughter of Harald, and King Svein's sister;
but that each party should retain their own dominions, and there should
be peace between the countries. Then King Svein returned home to Denmark
with his wife Gunhild. Their sons were Harald and Knut (Canute) the
Great. At that time the Danes threatened much to bring an army into
Norway against Earl Hakon.


King Svein made a magnificent feast, to which he invited all the
chiefs in his dominions; for he would give the succession-feast, or the
heirship-ale, after his father Harald. A short time before, Strutharald
in Skane, and Vesete in Bornholm, father to Bue the Thick and to Sigurd,
had died; and King Svein sent word to the Jomsborg vikings that Earl
Sigvalde and Bue, and their brothers, should come to him, and drink the
funeral-ale for their fathers in the same feast the king was giving.
The Jomsborg vikings came to the festival with their bravest men, forty
ships of them from Vindland, and twenty ships from Skane. Great was the
multitude of people assembled. The first day of the feast, before King
Svein went up into his father's high-seat, he drank the bowl to his
father's memory, and made the solemn vow, that before three winters were
past he would go over with his army to England, and either kill King
Adalrad (Ethelred), or chase him out of the country. This heirship
bowl all who were at the feast drank. Thereafter for the chiefs of the
Jomsborg vikings was filled and drunk the largest horn to be found,
and of the strongest drink. When that bowl was emptied, all men drank
Christ's health; and again the fullest measure and the strongest drink
were handed to the Jomsborg vikings. The third bowl was to the memory of
Saint Michael, which was drunk by all. Thereafter Earl Sigvalde emptied
a remembrance bowl to his father's honour, and made the solemn vow, that
before three winters came to an end he would go to Norway, and either
kill Earl Hakon, or chase him out of the country. Thereupon Thorkel the
Tall, his brother, made a solemn vow to follow his brother Sigvalde to
Norway, and not flinch from the battle so long as Sigvalde would fight
there. Then Bue the Thick vowed to follow them to Norway, and not flinch
so long as the other Jomsborg vikings fought. At last Vagn Akason vowed
that he would go with them to Norway, and not return until he had slain
Thorkel Leira, and gone to bed to his daughter Ingebjorg without her
friends' consent. Many other chiefs made solemn vows about different
things. Thus was the heirship-ale drunk that day, but the next morning,
when the Jomsborg vikings had slept off their drink, they thought they
had spoken more than enough. They held a meeting to consult how they
should proceed with their undertaking, and they determined to fit out
as speedily as possible for the expedition; and without delay ships and
men-at-arms were prepared, and the news spread quickly.


When Earl Eirik, the son of Hakon, who at that time was in Raumarike,
heard the tidings, he immediately gathered troops, and went to the
Uplands, and thence over the mountains to Throndhjem, and joined
his father Earl Hakon. Thord Kolbeinson speaks of this in the lay of

     "News from the south are flying round;
     The bonde comes with look profound,
     Bad news of bloody battles bringing,
     Of steel-clad men, of weapons ringing.
     I hear that in the Danish land
     Long-sided ships slide down the strand,
     And, floating with the rising tide,
     The ocean-coursers soon will ride."

The earls Hakon and Eirik had war-arrows split up and sent round the
Throndhjem country; and despatched messages to both the Mores, North
More and South More, and to Raumsdal, and also north to Naumudal and
Halogaland. They summoned all the country to provide both men and ships.
So it is said in Eirik's lay:

     "The skald must now a war-song raise,
     The gallant active youth must praise,
     Who o'er the ocean's field spreads forth
     Ships, cutters, boats, from the far north.
     His mighty fleet comes sailing by,--
     The people run to see them glide,
     Mast after mast, by the coast-side."

Earl Hakon set out immediately to the south, to More, to reconnoitre and
gather people; and Earl Eirik gathered an army from the north to follow.


The Jomsborg vikings assembled their fleet in Limafjord, from whence
they went to sea with sixty sail of vessels. When they came under the
coast of Agder, they steered northwards to Rogaland with their fleet,
and began to plunder when they came into the earl's territory; and so
they sailed north along the coast, plundering and burning. A man, by
name Geirmund, sailed in a light boat with a few men northwards to More,
and there he fell in with Earl Hakon, stood before his dinner table,
and told the earl the tidings of an army from Denmark having come to
the south end of the land. The earl asked if he had any certainty of it.
Then Geirmund stretched forth one arm, from which the hand was cut off,
and said, "Here is the token that the enemy is in the land." Then the
earl questioned him particularly about this army. Geirmund says it
consists of Jomsborg vikings, who have killed many people, and plundered
all around. "And hastily and hotly they pushed on," says he "and I
expect it will not be long before they are upon you." On this the earl
rode into every fjord, going in along the one side of the land and out
at the other, collecting men; and thus he drove along night and day.
He sent spies out upon the upper ridges, and also southwards into the
Fjords; and he proceeded north to meet Eirik with his men. This appears
from Eirik's lay:--

     "The earl, well skilled in war to speed
     O'er the wild wave the viking-steed,
     Now launched the high stems from the shore,
     Which death to Sigvalde's vikings bore.
     Rollers beneath the ships' keels crash,
     Oar-blades loud in the grey sea splash,
     And they who give the ravens food
     Row fearless through the curling flood."

Eirik hastened southwards with his forces the shortest way he could.


Earl Sigvalde steered with his fleet northwards around Stad, and came
to the land at the Herey Isles. Although the vikings fell in with the
country people, the people never told the truth about what the earl was
doing; and the vikings went on pillaging and laying waste. They laid
to their vessels at the outer end of Hod Island, landed, plundered, and
drove both men and cattle down to the ships, killing all the men able to
bear arms.

As they were going back to their ships, came a bonde, walking near to
Bue's troop, who said to them, "Ye are not doing like true warriors, to
be driving cows and calves down to the strand, while ye should be giving
chase to the bear, since ye are coming near to the bear's den."

"What says the old man?" asked some. "Can he tell us anything about Earl

The peasant replies, "The earl went yesterday into the Hjorundarfjord
with one or two ships, certainly not more than three, and then he had no
news about you."

Bue ran now with his people in all haste down to the ships, leaving all
the booty behind. Bue said, "Let us avail ourselves now of this news we
have got of the earl, and be the first to the victory." When they came
to their ships they rode off from the land. Earl Sigvalde called to
them, and asked what they were about. They replied, "The earl is in the
fjord;" on which Earl Sigvalde with the whole fleet set off, and rowed
north about the island Hod.


The earls Hakon and Eirik lay in Halkelsvik, where all their forces
were assembled. They had 150 ships, and they had heard that the Jomsborg
vikings had come in from sea, and lay at the island Hod; and they, in
consequence, rowed out to seek them. When they reached a place called
Hjorungavag they met each other, and both sides drew up their ships in
line for an attack. Earl Sigvalde's banner was displayed in the midst of
his army, and right against it Earl Hakon arranged his force for attack.
Earl Sigvalde himself had 20 ships, but Earl Hakon had 60. In Earl's
army were these chiefs,--Thorer Hjort from Halogaland, and Styrkar from
Gimsar. In the wing of the opposite array of the Jomsborg vikings was
Bue the Thick, and his brother Sigurd, with 20 ships. Against him
Earl Eirik laid himself with 60 ships; and with him were these
chiefs,--Gudbrand Hvite from the Uplands, and Thorkel Leira from Viken.
In the other wing of the Jomsborg vikings' array was Vagn Akason with 20
ships; and against him stood Svein the son of Hakon, in whose division
was Skegge of Yrjar at Uphaug, and Rognvald of Aervik at Stad, with 60
ships. It is told in the Eirik's lay thus:--

     "The bonde's ships along the coast
     Sailed on to meet the foemen's host;
     The stout earl's ships, with eagle flight,
     Rushed on the Danes in bloody fight.
     The Danish ships, of court-men full,
     Were cleared of men,--and many a hull
     Was driving empty on the main,
     With the warm corpses of the slain."

Eyvind Skaldaspiller says also in the "Haleygja-tal":--

     "Twas at the peep of day,--
     Our brave earl led the way;
     His ocean horses bounding--
     His war-horns loudly sounding!
     No joyful morn arose
     For Yngve Frey's base foes
     These Christian island-men
     Wished themselves home again."

Then the fleets came together, and one of the sharpest of conflicts
began. Many fell on both sides, but the most by far on Hakon's side; for
the Jomsborg vikings fought desperately, sharply, and murderously, and
shot right through the shields. So many spears were thrown against Earl
Hakon that his armour was altogether split asunder, and he threw it off.
So says Tind Halkelson:--

     "The ring-linked coat of strongest mail
     Could not withstand the iron hail,
     Though sewed with care and elbow bent,
     By Norn (1), on its strength intent.
     The fire of battle raged around,--
     Odin's steel shirt flew all unbound!
     The earl his ring-mail from him flung,
     Its steel rings on the wet deck rung;
     Part of it fell into the sea,--
     A part was kept, a proof to be
     How sharp and thick the arrow-flight
     Among the sea-steeds in this fight."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Norn, one of the Fates, stands here for women, whose
     business it was to sew the rings of iron upon the cloth
     which made these ring-mail coats or shirts.  The needles,
     although some of them were of gold, appear to have been
     without eyes, and used like shoemaker's awls.--L.


The Jomsborg vikings had larger and higher-sided ships; and both parties
fought desperately. Vagn Akason laid his ship on board of Svein Earl
Hakon's son's ship, and Svein allowed his ship to give way, and was
on the point of flying. Then Earl Eirik came up, and laid his ship
alongside of Vagn, and then Vagn gave way, and the ships came to lie
in the same position as before. Thereupon Eirik goes to the other wing,
which had gone back a little, and Bue had cut the ropes, intending to
pursue them. Then Eirik laid himself, board to board, alongside of
Bue's ship, and there was a severe combat hand to hand. Two or three
of Eirik's ships then laid themselves upon Bue's single vessel. A
thunder-storm came on at this moment, and such a heavy hail-storm that
every hailstone weighed a pennyweight. The Earl Sigvalde cut his cable,
turned his ship round, and took flight. Vagn Akason called to him not to
fly; but as Earl Sigvalde paid no attention to what he said, Vagn threw
his spear at him, and hit the man at the helm. Earl Sigvalde rowed away
with 35 ships, leaving 25 of his fleet behind.


Then Earl Hakon laid his ship on the other side of Bue's ship, and now
came heavy blows on Bue's men. Vigfus, a son of Vigaglum, took up an
anvil with a sharp end, which lay upon the deck, and on which a man had
welded the hilt to his sword just before, and being a very strong man
cast the anvil with both hands at the head of Aslak Holmskalle, and the
end of it went into his brains. Before this no weapon could wound this
Aslak, who was Bue's foster-brother, and forecastle commander, although
he could wound right and left. Another man among the strongest and
bravest was Havard Hoggande. In this attack Eirik's men boarded Bue's
ship, and went aft to the quarter-deck where Bue stood. There Thorstein
Midlang cut at Bue across his nose, so that the nosepiece of his helmet
was cut in two, and he got a great wound; but Bue, in turn, cut at
Thorstein's side, so that the sword cut the man through. Then Bue lifted
up two chests full of gold, and called aloud, "Overboard all Bue s men,"
and threw himself overboard with his two chests. Many of his people
sprang overboard with him. Some fell in the ship, for it was of no
use to call for quarter. Bue's ship was cleared of people from stem to
stern, and afterwards all the others, the one after the other.


Earl Eirik then laid himself alongside of Vagn's ship, and there was
a brave defence; but at last this ship too was cleared, and Vagn and
thirty men were taken prisoners, and bound, and brought to land. Then
came up Thorkel Leira, and said, "Thou madest a solemn vow, Vagn, to
kill me, but now it seems more likely that I will kill thee." Vagn and
his men sat all upon a log of wood together. Thorkel had an axe in his
hands, with which he cut at him who sat outmost on the log. Vagn and the
other prisoners were bound so that a rope was fastened on their feet,
but they had their hands free. One of them said, "I will stick this
cloak-pin that I have in my hand into the earth, if it be so that I
know anything, after my head is cut off." His head was cut off, but the
cloak-pin fell from his hand. There sat also a very handsome man with
long hair, who twisted his hair over his head, put out his neck, and
said, "Don't make my hair bloody." A man took the hair in his hands and
held it fast. Thorkel hewed with his axe; but the viking twitched his
head so strongly that he who was holding his hair fell forwards, and the
axe cut off both his hands, and stuck fast in the earth. Then Earl Eirik
came up, and asked, "Who is that handsome man?"

He replies, "I am called Sigurd, and am Bue's son. But are all the
Jomsborg vikings dead?"

Eirik says, "Thou art certainly Boe's son. Wilt thou now take life and

"That depends," says he, "upon who it is that offers it."

"He offers who has the power to do it--Earl Eirik."

"That will I," says he, "from his hands." And now the rope was loosened
from him.

Then said Thorkel Leira, "Although thou should give all these men life
and peace, earl, Vagn Akason shall never come from this with life." And
he ran at him with uplifted axe; but the viking Skarde swung himself
in the rope, and let himself fall just before Thorkel's feet, so that
Thorkel ell over him, and Vagn caught the axe and gave Thorkel a
death-wound. Then said the earl, "Vagn, wilt thou accept life?"

"That I will," says he, "if you give it to all of us."

"Loose them from the rope," said the earl, and it was done. Eighteen
were killed, and twelve got their lives.


Earl Hakon, and many with him, were sitting upon a piece of wood, and
a bow-string twanged from Bue's ship, and the arrow struck Gissur from
Valders, who was sitting next the earl, and was clothed splendidly.
Thereupon the people went on board, and found Havard Hoggande standing
on his knees at the ship's railing, for his feet had been cut off (1),
and he had a bow in his hand. When they came on board the ship Havard
asked, "Who fell by that shaft?"

They answered, "A man called Gissur."

"Then my luck was less than I thought," said he.

"Great enough was the misfortune," replied they; "but thou shalt not
make it greater." And they killed him on the spot.

The dead were then ransacked, and the booty brought all together to be
divided; and there were twenty-five ships of the Jomsborg vikings in the
booty. So says Tind:

     "Many a viking's body lay
     Dead on the deck this bloody day,
     Before they cut their sun-dried ropes,
     And in quick flight put all their hopes.
     He whom the ravens know afar
     Cleared five-and-twenty ships of war:
     A proof that in the furious fight
     None can withstand the Norsemen's might."

Then the army dispersed. Earl Hakon went to Throndhjem, and was much
displeased that Earl Eirik had given quarter to Vagn Akason. It was said
that at this battle Earl Hakon had sacrificed for victory his son, young
Erling, to the gods; and instantly came the hailstorm, and the defeat
and slaughter of the Jomsborg vikings.

Earl Eirik went to the Uplands, and eastward by that route to his
own kingdom, taking Vagn Akason with him. Earl Eirik married Vagn to
Ingebjorg, a daughter of Thorkel Leira, and gave him a good ship of
war and all belonging to it, and a crew; and they parted the best of
friends. Then Vagn went home south to Denmark, and became afterwards
a man of great consideration, and many great people are descended from

   ENDNOTES: (1) This traditionary tale of a warrior fighting on his knees
     after his legs were cut off, appears to have been a popular
     idea among the Northmen, and is related by their descendants
     in the ballad o Chevy Chase.--L.


Harald Grenske, as before related, was king in Vestfold, and was married
to Asta, a daughter of Gudbrand Kula. One summer (A.D. 994) Harald
Grenske made an expedition to the Baltic to gather property, and he
came to Svithjod. Olaf the Swede was king there, a son of Eirik the
Victorious, and Sigrid, a daughter of Skoglartoste. Sigrid was then a
widow, and had many and great estates in Svithjod. When she heard that
her foster-brother was come to the country a short distance from her,
she sent men to him to invite him to a feast. He did not neglect the
invitation, but came to her with a great attendance of his followers,
and was received in the most friendly way. He and the queen sat in the
high-seat, and drank together towards the evening, and all his men were
entertained in the most hospitable manner. At night, when the king went
to rest, a bed was put up for him with a hanging of fine linen around
it, and with costly bedclothes; but in the lodging-house there were few
men. When the king was undressed, and had gone to bed, the queen came
to him, filled a bowl herself for him to drink, and was very gay, and
pressed to drink. The king was drunk above measure, and, indeed, so were
they both. Then he slept, and the queen went away, and laid herself down
also. Sigrid was a woman of the greatest understanding, and clever
in many things. In the morning there was also the most excellent
entertainment; but then it went on as usual when people have drunk too
much, that next day they take care not to exceed. The queen was very
gay, and she and the king talked of many things with each other; among
other things she valued her property, and the dominions she had in
Svithjod, as nothing less than his property in Norway. With that
observation the king was nowise pleased, and he found no pleasure in
anything after that, but made himself ready for his journey in an ill
humor. On the other hand, the queen was remarkably gay, and made him
many presents, and followed him out to the road. Now Harald returned
about harvest to Norway, and was at home all winter; but was very silent
and cast down. In summer he went once more to the Baltic with his ships,
and steered to Svithjod. He sent a message to Queen Sigrid that he
wished to have a meeting with her and she rode down to meet him. They
talked together and he soon brought out the proposal that she should
marry him. She replied, that this was foolish talk for him, who was so
well married already that he might think himself well off. Harald says,
"Asta is a good and clever woman; but she is not so well born as I am."
Sigrid replies, "It may be that thou art of higher birth, but I think
she is now pregnant with both your fortunes." They exchanged but few
words more before the queen rode away. King Harald was now depressed in
mind, and prepared himself again to ride up the country to meet Queen
Sigrid. Many of his people dissuaded him; but nevertheless he set off
with a great attendance, and came to the house in which the queen dwelt.
The same evening came another king, called Vissavald, from Gardarike
(Russia), likewise to pay his addresses to Queen Sigrid. Lodging was
given to both the kings, and to all their people, in a great old room
of an out-building, and all the furniture was of the same character; but
there was no want of drink in the evening, and that so strong that all
were drunk, and the watch, both inside and outside, fell fast asleep.
Then Queen Sigrid ordered an attack on them in the night, both with fire
and sword. The house was burnt, with all who were in it and those who
slipped out were put to the sword. Sigrid said that she would make these
small kings tired of coming to court her. She was afterwards called
Sigrid the Haughty (Storrada).


This happened the winter after the battle of the Jomsborg vikings at
Hjorungavag. When Harald went up the country after Sigrid, he left Hrane
behind with the ships to look after the men. Now when Hrane heard that
Harald was cut off, he returned to Norway the shortest way he could, and
told the news. He repaired first to Asta, and related to her all that
had happened on the journey, and also on what errand Harald had visited
Queen Sigrid. When Asta got these tidings she set off directly to her
father in the Uplands, who received her well; but both were enraged at
the design which had been laid in Svithjod, and that King Harald had
intended to set her in a single condition. In summer (A.D. 995) Asta,
Gudbrand's daughter, was confined, and had a boy child, who had water
poured over him, and was called Olaf. Hrane himself poured water over
him, and the child was brought up at first in the house of Gudbrand and
his mother Asta.


Earl Hakon ruled over the whole outer part of Norway that lies on the
sea, and had thus sixteen districts under his sway. The arrangement
introduced by Harald Harfager, that there should be an earl in each
district, was afterward continued for a long time; and thus Earl Hakon
had sixteen earls under him. So says the "Vellekla":--

     "Who before has ever known
     Sixteen earls subdued by one?
     Who has seen all Norway's land
     Conquered by one brave hero's hand?
     It will be long in memory held,
     How Hakon ruled by sword and shield.
     When tales at the viking's mast go round,
     His praise will every mouth resound."

While Earl Hakon ruled over Norway there were good crops in the land,
and peace was well preserved in the country among the bondes. The Earl,
for the greater part of his lifetime, was therefore much beloved by the
bondes; but it happened, in the longer course of time, that the earl
became very intemperate in his intercourse with women, and even carried
it so far that he made the daughters of people of consideration be
carried away and brought home to him; and after keeping them a week
or two as concubines, he sent them home. He drew upon himself the
indignation of me relations of these girls; and the bondes began to
murmur loudly, as the Throndhjem people have the custom of doing when
anything goes against their judgment.


Earl Hakon, in the mean time, hears some whisper that to the westward,
over the Norh sea, was a man called Ole, who was looked upon as a king.
From the conversation of some people, he fell upon the suspicion that he
must be of the royal race of Norway. It was, indeed, said that this Ole
was from Russia; but the earl had heard that Trygve Olafson had had a
son called Olaf, who in his infancy had gone east to Gardarike, and had
been brought up by King Valdemar. The earl had carefully inquired about
this man, and had his suspicion that he must be the same person who had
now come to these western countries. The earl had a very good friend
called Thorer Klakka, who had been long upon viking expeditions,
sometimes also upon merchant voyages; so that he was well acquainted all
around. This Thorer Earl Hakon sends over the North sea, and told him to
make a merchant voyage to Dublin, many were in the habit of doing, and
carefully to discover who this Ole was. Provided he got any certainty
that he was Olaf Trygvason, or any other of the Norwegian royal race,
then Thorer should endeavor to ensnare him by some deceit, and bring him
into the earl's power.


On this Thorer sails westward to Ireland, and hears that Ole is in
Dublin with his wife's father King Olaf Kvaran. Thorer, who was a
plausible man, immediately got acquainted with Ole; and as they often
met, and had long conversations together, Ole began to inquire
about news from Norway, and above all of the Upland kings and great
people,--which of them were in life, and what dominations they now had.
He asked also about Earl Hakon, and if he was much liked in the country.
Thorer replies, that the earl is such a powerful man that no one dares
to speak otherwise than he would like; but that comes from there being
nobody else in the country to look to. "Yet, to say the truth, I know
it to be the mind of many brave men, and of whole communities, that
they would much rather see a king of Harald Harfager's race come to the
kingdom. But we know of no one suited for this, especially now that it
is proved how vain every attack on Earl Hakon must be." As they often
talked together in the same strain, Olaf disclosed to Thorer his name
and family, and asked him his opinion, and whether he thought the bondes
would take him for their king if he were to appear in Norway. Thorer
encouraged him very eagerly to the enterprise, and praised him and his
talents highly. Then Olaf's inclination to go to the heritage of his
ancestors became strong. Olaf sailed accordingly, accompanied by Thorer,
with five ships; first to the Hebrides, and from thence to the Orkneys.
At that time Earl Sigurd, Hlodver's son, lay in Osmundswall, in the
island South Ronaldsa, with a ship of war, on his way to Caithness. Just
at the same time Olaf was sailing with his fleet from the westward to
the islands, and ran into the same harbour, because Pentland Firth was
not to be passed at that tide. When the king was informed that the earl
was there, he made him be called; and when the earl came on board to
speak with the king, after a few words only had passed between them, the
king says the earl must allow himself to be baptized, and all the people
of the country also, or he should be put to death directly; and he
assured the earl he would lay waste the islands with fire and sword, if
the people did not adopt Christianity. In the position the earl found
himself, he preferred becoming Christian, and he and all who were with
him were baptized. Afterwards the earl took an oath to the king, went
into his service, and gave him his son, whose name was Hvelp (Whelp), or
Hunde (Dog), as an hostage; and the king took Hvelp to Norway with him.
Thereafter Olaf went out to sea to the eastward, and made the land at
Morster Island, where he first touched the ground of Norway. He had
high mass sung in a tent, and afterwards on the spot a church was built.
Thorer Klakka said now to the king, that the best plan for him would
be not to make it known who he was, or to let any report about him get
abroad; but to seek out Earl Hakon as fast as possible and fall upon
him by surprise. King Olaf did so, sailing northward day and night, when
wind permitted, and did not let the people of the country know who it
was that was sailing in such haste. When he came north to Agdanes,
he heard that the earl was in the fjord, and was in discord with the
bondes. On hearing this, Thorer saw that things were going in a very
different way from what he expected; for after the battle with the
Jomsborg vikings all men in Norway were the most sincere friends of
the earl on account of the victory he had gained, and of the peace and
security he had given to the country; and now it unfortunately turns out
that a great chief has come to the country at a time when the bondes are
in arms against the earl.


Earl Hakon was at a feast in Medalhus in Gaulardal and his ships lay out
by Viggja. There was a powerful bonde, by name Orm Lyrgja, who dwelt in
Bunes, who had a wife called Gudrun, a daughter of Bergthor of Lundar.
She was called the Lundasol; for she was the most-beautiful of women.
The earl sent his slaves to Orm, with the errand that they should bring
Orm's wife, Gudrun, to the earl. The thralls tell their errand, and
Orm bids them first seat themselves to supper; but before they had done
eating, many people from the neighbourhood, to whom Orm had sent notice,
had gathered together: and now Orm declared he would not send Gudrun
with the messengers. Gudrun told the thralls to tell the earl that she
would not come to him, unless he sent Thora of Rimul after her. Thora
was a woman of great influence, and one of the earl's best beloved. The
thralls say that they will come another time, and both the bonde and his
wife would be made to repent of it; and they departed with many threats.
Orm, on the other hand, sent out a message-token to all the neighbouring
country, and with it the message to attack Earl Hakon with weapons and
kill him. He sent also a message to Haldor in Skerdingsstedja, who also
sent out his message-token. A short time before, the earl had taken away
the wife of a man called Brynjolf, and there had very nearly been
an insurrection about that business. Having now again got this
message-token, the people made a general revolt, and set out all to
Medalhus. When the earl heard of this, he left the house with his
followers, and concealed himself in a deep glen, now called Jarlsdal
(Earl's Dale). Later in the day, the earl got news of the bondes' army.
They had beset all the roads; but believed the earl had escaped to his
ships, which his son Erlend, a remarkably handsome and hopeful young
man, had the command of. When night came the earl dispersed his people,
and ordered them to go through the forest roads into Orkadal; "for
nobody will molest you," said he, "when I am not with you. Send a
message to Erlend to sail out of the fjord, and meet me in More. In the
mean time I will conceal myself from the bondes." Then the earl went his
way with one thrall or slave, called Kark, attending him. There was ice
upon the Gaul (the river of Gaulardal), and the earl drove his horse
upon it, and left his coat lying upon the ice. They then went to a hole,
since called Jarlshella (the Earl's Hole), where they slept. When Kark
awoke he told his dream,--that a black threatening mad had come into the
hole, and was angry that people should have entered it; and that the
man had said, "Ulle is dead." The earl said that his son Erlend must be
killed. Kark slept again and was again disturbed in his sleep; and when
he awoke he told his dream,--that the same man had again appeared to
him, and bade him tell the earl that all the sounds were closed. From
this dream the earl began to suspect that it betokened a short life to
him. They stood up, and went to the house of Rimul. The earl now sends
Kark to Thora, and begs of her to come secretly to him. She did so and
received the earl kindly and he begged her to conceal him for a few
nights until the army of the bondes had dispersed. "Here about my
house," said she, "you will be hunted after, both inside and outside;
for many know that I would willingly help you if I can. There is but one
place about the house where they could never expect to find such a man
as you, and that is the swine-stye." When they came there the earl said,
"Well, let it be made ready for us; as to save our life is the first and
foremost concern." The slave dug a great hole in it, bore away the earth
that he dug out, and laid wood over it. Thora brought the tidings to
the earl that Olaf Trygvason had come from sea into the fjord, and had
killed his son Erlend. Then the earl and Kark both went into the hole.
Thora covered it with wood, and threw earth and dung over it, and drove
the swine upon the top of it. The swine-style was under a great stone.


Olaf Trygvason came from sea into the fjord with five long-ships,
and Erlend, Hakon's son, rowed towards him with three ships. When the
vessels came near to each other, Erlend suspected they might be enemies,
and turned towards the land. When Olaf and his followers saw long-ships
coming in haste out of the fjord, and rowing towards them, they thought
Earl Hakon must be here; and they put out all oars to follow them.
As soon as Erlend and his ships got near the land they rowed aground
instantly, jumped overboard, and took to the land; but at the same
instant Olaf's ship came up with them. Olaf saw a remarkably handsome
man swimming in the water, and laid hold of a tiller and threw it at
him. The tiller struck Erlend, the son of Hakon the earl, on the head,
and clove it to the brain; and there left Erlend his life. Olaf and his
people killed many; but some escaped, and some were made prisoners, and
got life and freedom that they might go and tell what had happened. They
learned then that the bondes had driven away Earl Hakon, and that he had
fled, and his troops were all dispersed.


The bondes then met Olaf, to the joy of both, and they made an agreement
together. The bondes took Olaf to be their king, and resolved, one and
all, to seek out Earl Hakon. They went up Gaulardal; for it seemed to
them likely that if the earl was concealed in any house it must be at
Rimul, for Thora was his dearest friend in that valley. They come up,
therefore, and search everywhere, outside and inside the house, but
could not find him. Then Olaf held a House Thing (trusting), or council
out in the yard, and stood upon a great stone which lay beside the
swine-stye, and made a speech to the people, in which he promised to
enrich the man with rewards and honours who should kill the earl. This
speech was heard by the earl and the thrall Kark. They had a light in
their room.

"Why art thou so pale," says the earl, "and now again black as earth?
Thou hast not the intention to betray me?"

"By no means," replies Kark.

"We were born on the same night," says the earl, "and the time will be
short between our deaths."

King Olaf went away in the evening. When night came the earl kept
himself awake but Kark slept, and was disturbed in his sleep. The earl
woke him, and asked him "what he was dreaming of?"

He answered, "I was at Hlader and Olaf Trygvason was laying a gold ring
about my neck."

The earl says, "It will be a red ring Olaf will lay about thy neck if
he catches thee. Take care of that! From me thou shalt enjoy all that is
good, therefore betray me not."

They then kept themselves awake both; the one, as it were, watching upon
the other. But towards day the earl suddenly dropped asleep; but his
sleep was so unquiet that he drew his heels under him, and raised his
neck, as if going to rise, and screamed dreadfully high. On this Kark,
dreadfully alarmed, drew a large knife out of his belt, stuck it in the
earl's throat, and cut it across, and killed Earl Hakon. Then Kark cut
off the earl's head, and ran away. Late in the day he came to Hlader,
where he delivered the earl's head to King Olaf, and told all these
circumstances of his own and Earl Hakon's doings. Olaf had him taken out
and beheaded.


King Olaf, and a vast number of bondes with him, then went out to
Nidarholm, and had with him the heads of Earl Hakon and Kark. This holm
was used then for a place of execution of thieves and ill-doers, and
there stood a gallows on it. He had the heads of the earl and of Kark
hung upon it, and the whole army of the bondes cast stones at them,
screaming and shouting that the one worthless fellow had followed the
other. They then sent up to Gaulardal for the earl's dead body. So great
was the enmity of the Throndhjem people against Earl Hakon, that no man
could venture to call him by any other name than Hakon the Bad; and he
was so called long after those days. Yet, sooth to say of Earl Hakon,
he was in many respects fitted to be a chief: first, because he was
descended from a high race; then because he had understanding and
knowledge to direct a government; also manly courage in battle to
gain victories, and good luck in killing his enemies. So says Thorleif

     "In Norway's land was never known
     A braver earl than the brave Hakon.
     At sea, beneath the clear moon's light,
     No braver man e'er sought to fight.
     Nine kings to Odin's wide domain
     Were sent, by Hakon's right hand slain!
     So well the raven-flocks were fed--
     So well the wolves were filled with dead!"

Earl Hakon was very generous; but the greatest misfortunes attended even
such a chief at the end of his days: and the great cause of this was
that the time was come when heathen sacrifices and idolatrous worship
were doomed to fall, and the holy faith and good customs to come in
their place.


Olaf Trvgvason was chosen at Throndhjem by the General Thing to be the
king over the whole country, as Harald Harfager had been. The whole
public and the people throughout all the land would listen to nothing
else than that Olaf Trygvason should be king. Then Olaf went round the
whole country, and brought it under his rule, and all the people of
Norway gave in their submission; and also the chiefs in the Uplands and
in Viken, who before had held their lands as fiefs from the Danish king,
now became King Olaf's men, and held their hands from him. He went thus
through the whole country during the first winter (A.D. 996) and the
following summer. Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, his brother Svein,
and their friends and relations, fled out of the country, and went east
to Sweden to King Olaf the Swede, who gave them a good reception. So
says Thord Kolbeinson:--

     "O thou whom bad men drove away,
     After the bondes by foul play,
     Took Hakon's life!  Fate will pursue
     These bloody wolves, and make them rue.
     When the host came from out the West,
     Like some tall stately war-ship's mast,
     I saw the son of Trygve stand,
     Surveying proud his native land."

And again,--

     "Eirik has more upon his mind,
     Against the new Norse king designed,
     Than by his words he seems to show--
     And truly it may well be so.
     Stubborn and stiff are Throndhjem men,
     But Throndhjem's earl may come again;
     In Swedish land he knows no rest--
     Fierce wrath is gathering in his breast."


Lodin was the name of a man from Viken who was rich and of good family.
He went often on merchant voyages, and sometimes on viking cruises.
It happened one summer that he went on a merchant voyage with much
merchandise in a ship of his own. He directed his course first to
Eistland, and was there at a market in summer. To the place at which the
market was held many merchant goods were brought, and also many thralls
or slaves for sale. There Lodin saw a woman who was to be sold as a
slave: and on looking at her he knew her to be Astrid Eirik's daughter,
who had been married to King Trygve. But now she was altogether unlike
what she had been when he last saw her; for now she was pale, meagre in
countenance, and ill clad. He went up to her, and asked her how matters
stood with her. She replied, "It is heavy to be told; for I have been
sold as a slave, and now again I am brought here for sale." After
speaking together a little Astrid knew him, and begged him to buy her;
and bring her home to her friends. "On this condition," said he, "I will
bring thee home tn Norway, that thou wilt marry me." Now as Astrid stood
in great need, and moreover knew that Lodin was a man of high birth,
rich, and brave, she promised to do so for her ransom. Lodin accordingly
bought Astrid, took her home to Norway with him, and married her with
her friends' consent. Their children were Thorkel Nefia, Ingerid, and
Ingegerd. Ingebjorg and Astrid were daughters of Astrid by King Trygve.
Eirik Bjodaskalle's sons were Sigird, Karlshofud, Jostein, and Thorkel
Dydril, who were all rich and brave people who had estates east in
the country. In Viken in the east dwelt two brothers, rich and of good
descent; one called Thorgeir, and the other Hyrning; and they married
Lodin and Astrid's daughters, Ingerid and Ingegerd.


When Harald Gormson, king of Denmark, had adopted Christianity, he sent
a message over all his kingdom that all people should be baptized, and
converted to the true faith. He himself followed his message, and used
power and violence where nothing else would do. He sent two earls,
Urguthrjot and Brimilskjar, with many people to Norway, to proclaim
Christianity there. In Viken, which stood directly under the king's
power, this succeeded, and many were baptized of the country folk. But
when Svein Forked-beard, immediately after his father King Harald's
death, went out on war expeditions in Saxland, Frisland, and at last
in England, the Northmen who had taken up Christianity returned back to
heathen sacrifices, just as before; and the people in the north of the
country did the same. But now that Olaf Trygvason was king of Norway, he
remained long during the summer (A.D. 996) in Viken, where many of his
relatives and some of his brothers-in-law were settled, and also many
who had been great friends of his father; so that he was received with
the greatest affection. Olaf called together his mother's brothers, his
stepfather Lodin, and his brothers-in-law Thorgeir and Hyrning, to speak
with them, and to disclose with the greatest care the business which he
desired they themselves should approve of, and support with all their
power; namely, the proclaiming Christianity over all his kingdom. He
would, he declared, either bring it to this, that all Norway should be
Christian, or die. "I shall make you all," said he, "great and mighty
men in promoting this work; for I trust to you most, as blood relations
or brothers-in-law." All agreed to do what he asked, and to follow him
in what he desired. King Olaf immediately made it known to the public
that he recommended Christianity to all the people in his kingdom, which
message was well received and approved of by those who had before given
him their promise; and these being the most powerful among the people
assembled, the others followed their example, and all the inhabitants of
the east part of Viken allowed themselves to be baptized. The king
then went to the north part of Viken and invited every man to accept
Christianity; and those who opposed him he punished severely, killing
some, mutilating others, and driving some into banishment. At length he
brought it so far, that all the kingdom which his father King Trvgve had
ruled over, and also that of his relation Harald Grenske, accepted of
Christianity; and during that summer (A.D. 996) and the following winter
(A.D. 997) all Viken was made Christian.


Early in spring (A.D. 997) King Olaf set out from Viken with a great
force northwards to Agder, and proclaimed that every man should be
baptized. And thus the people received Christianity, for nobody dared
oppose the king's will, wheresoever he came. In Hordaland, however, were
many bold and great men of Hordakare's race. He, namely, had left four
sons,--the first Thorleif Spake; the second, Ogmund, father of Thorolf
Skialg, who was father of Erling of Sole; the third was Thord father of
the Herse Klyp who killed King Sigurd Slefa, Gunhild's son; and lastly,
Olmod, father of Askel, whose son was Aslak Fitjaskalle; and that family
branch was the greatest and most considered in Hordaland. Now when this
family heard the bad tidings, that the king was coming along the country
from the eastward with a great force, and was breaking the ancient law
of the people, and imposing punishment and hard conditions on all who
opposed him, the relatives appointed a meeting to take counsel with each
other, for they knew the king would come down upon them at once: and
they all resolved to appear in force at the Gula-Thing, there to hold a
conference with King Olaf Trygvason.


When King Olaf came to Rogaland, he immediately summoned the people to a
Thing; and when the bondes received the message-token for a Thing, they
assembled in great numbers well armed. After they had come together,
they resolved to choose three men, the best speakers of the whole, who
should answer King Olaf, and argue with the king; and especially should
decline to accept of anything against the old law, even if the king
should require it of them. Now when the bondes came to the Thing, and
the Thing was formed, King Olaf arose, and at first spoke good-humoredly
to the people; but they observed he wanted them to accept Christianity,
with all his fine words: and in the conclusion he let them know that
those who should speak against him, and not submit to his proposal, must
expect his displeasure and punishment, and all the ill that it was in
his power to inflict. When he had ended his speech, one of the bondes
stood up, who was considered the most eloquent, and who had been chosen
as the first who should reply to King Olaf. But when he would begin to
speak such a cough seized him, and such a difficulty of breathing, that
he could not bring out a word, and had to sit down again. Then another
bonde stood up, resolved not to let an answer be wanting, although it
had gone so ill with the former: but he stammered so that he could not
get a word uttered, and all present set up a laughter, amid which
the bonde sat down again. And now the third stood up to make a speech
against King Olaf's; but when he began he became so hoarse and husky in
his throat, that nobody could hear a word he said, and he also had to
sit down. There was none of the bondes now to speak against the king,
and as nobody answered him there was no opposition; and it came to this,
that all agreed to what the king had proposed. All the people of the
Thing accordingly were baptized before the Thing was dissolved.


King Olaf went with his men-at-arms to the Gula-Thing; for the bondes
had sent him word that they would reply there to his speech. When
both parties had come to the Thing, the king desired first to have a
conference with the chief people of the country; and when the meeting
was numerous the king set forth his errand,--that he desired them,
according to his proposal, to allow themselves to be baptized. Then said
Olmod the Old, "We relations have considered together this matter, and
have come to one resolution. If thou thinkest, king, to force us who are
related together to such things as to break our old law, or to bring us
under thyself by any sort of violence, then will we stand against thee
with all our might: and be the victory to him to whom fate ordains it.
But if thou, king, wilt advance our relations' fortunes, then thou shalt
have leave to do as thou desirest, and we will all serve thee with zeal
in thy purpose."

The king replies, "What do you propose for obtaining this agreement?"

Then answers Olmod, "The first is, that thou wilt give thy sister Astrid
in marriage to Erling Skjalgson, our relation, whom we look upon as the
most hopeful young man in all Norway."

King Olaf replied, that this marriage appeared to him also very
suitable; "as Erling is a man of good birth, and a good-looking man in
appearance: but Astrid herself must answer to this proposal."

Thereupon the king spoke to his sister. She said, "It is but of little
use that I am a king's sister, and a king's daughter, if I must marry
a man who has no high dignity or office. I will rather wait a few years
for a better match." Thus ended this conference.


King Olaf took a falcon that belonged to Astrid, plucked off all its
feathers, and then sent it to her. Then said Astrid, "Angry is my
brother." And she stood up, and went to the king, who received her
kindly, and she said that she left it to the king to determine her
marriage. "I think," said the king, "that I must have power enough in
this land to raise any man I please to high dignity." Then the king
ordered Olmod and Erling to be called to a conference, and all their
relations; and the marriage was determined upon, and Astrid betrothed to
Erling. Thereafter the king held the Thing, and recommended Christianity
to the bondes; and as Olmod, and Erling, and all their relations, took
upon themselves the most active part in forwarding the king's desire,
nobody dared to speak against it; and all the people were baptized, and
adopted Christianity.


Erling Skjalgson had his wedding in summer, and a great many people
were assembled at it. King Olaf was also there, and offered Erling an
earldom. Erling replied thus: "All my relations have been herses only,
and I will take no higher title than they have; but this I will accept
from thee, king, that thou makest me the greatest of that title in the
country." The king consented; and at his departure the king invested
his brother-in law Erling with all the land north of the Sognefjord, and
east to the Lidandisnes, on the same terms as Harald Harfager had given
land to his sons, as before related.


The same harvest King Olaf summoned the bondes to a Thing of the four
districts at Dragseid, in Stad: and there the people from Sogn, the
Fjord-districts, South More, and Raumsdal, were summoned to meet. King
Olaf came there with a great many people who had followed him from
the eastward, and also with those who had joined him from Rogaland and
Hordaland. When the king came to the Thing, he proposed to them there,
as elsewhere, Christianity; and as the king had such a powerful
host with him, they were frightened. The king offered them two
conditions,--either to accept Christianity, or to fight. But the
bondes saw they were in no condition to fight the king, and resolved,
therefore, that all the people should agree to be baptized. The king
proceeded afterwards to North More, and baptized all that district. He
then sailed to Hlader, in Throndhjem; had the temple there razed to the
ground; took all the ornaments and all property out of the temple, and
from the gods in it; and among other things the great gold ring which
Earl Hakon had ordered to be made, and which hung in the door of the
temple; and then had the temple burnt. But when the bondes heard of
this, they sent out a war-arrow as a token through the whole district,
ordering out a warlike force, and intended to meet the king with it. In
the meantime King Olaf sailed with a war force out of the fjord along
the coast northward, intending to proceed to Halogaland, and baptize
there. When he came north to Bjarnaurar, he heard from Halogaland that
a force was assembled there to defend the country against the king. The
chiefs of this force were Harek of Thjotta, Thorer Hjort from Vagar,
and Eyvind Kinrifa. Now when King Olaf heard this, he turned about
and sailed southwards along the land; and when he got south of Stad
proceeded at his leisure, and came early in winter (A.D. 998) all the
way east to Viken.


Queen Sigrid in Svithjod, who had for surname the Haughty, sat in her
mansion, and during the same winter messengers went between King Olaf
and Sigrid to propose his courtship to her, and she had no objection;
and the matter was fully and fast resolved upon. Thereupon King Olaf
sent to Queen Sigrid the great gold ring he had taken from the temple
door of Hlader, which was considered a distinguished ornament. The
meeting for concluding the business was appointed to be in spring on the
frontier, at the Gaut river. Now the ring which King Olaf had sent Queen
Sigrid was highly prized by all men; yet the queen's gold-smiths,
two brothers, who took the ring in their hands, and weighed it, spoke
quietly to each other about it, and in a manner that made the queen call
them to her, and ask "what they smiled at?" But they would not say a
word, and she commanded them to say what it was they had discovered.
Then they said the ring is false. Upon this she ordered the ring to be
broken into pieces, and it was found to be copper inside. Then the queen
was enraged, and said that Olaf would deceive her in more ways than this
one. In the same year (A.D. 998) King Olaf went into Ringenke, and there
the people also were baptized.


Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand, soon after the fall of Harald Grenske
married again a man who was called Sigurd Syr, who was a king in
Ringerike. Sigurd was a son of Halfdan, and grandson of Sigurd Hrise,
who was a son of Harald Harfager. Olaf, the son of Asta and Harald
Grenske, lived with Asta, and was brought up from childhood in the house
of his stepfather, Sigurd Syr. Now when King Olaf Trygvason came to
Ringerike to spread Christianity, Sigurd Syr and his wife allowed
themselves to be baptized, along with Olaf her son; and Olaf Trygvason
was godfather to Olaf, the stepson of Harald Grenske. Olaf was then
three years old. Olaf returned from thence to Viken, where he remained
all winter. He had now been three years king in Norway (A.D. 998).


Early in spring (A.D. 998) King Olaf went eastwards to Konungahella
to the meeting with Queen Sigrid; and when they met the business was
considered about which the winter before they had held communication,
namely, their marriage; and the business seemed likely to be concluded.
But when Olaf insisted that Sigrid should let herself be baptized, she
answered thus:--"I must not part from the faith which I have held,
and my forefathers before me; and, on the other hand, I shall make no
objection to your believing in the god that pleases you best." Then King
Olaf was enraged, and answered in a passion, "Why should I care to have
thee, an old faded woman, and a heathen jade?" and therewith struck her
in the face with his glove which he held in his hands, rose up, and they
parted. Sigrid said, "This may some day be thy death." The king set off
to Viken, the queen to Svithjod.


Then the king proceeded to Tunsberg, and held a Thing, at which he
declared in a speech that all the men of whom it should be known to a
certainty that they dealt with evil spirits, or in witchcraft, or were
sorcerers, should be banished forth of the land. Thereafter the king had
all the neighborhood ransacked after such people, and called them all
before him; and when they were brought to the Thing there was a man
among them called Eyvind Kelda, a grandson of Ragnvald Rettilbeine,
Harald Harfager's son. Eyvind was a sorcerer, and particularly knowing
in witchcraft. The king let all these men be seated in one room, which
was well adorned, and made a great feast for them, and gave them strong
drink in plenty. Now when they were all very drunk, he ordered the house
be set on fire, and it and all the people within it were consumed, all
but Eyvind Kelda, who contrived to escape by the smoke-hole in the roof.
And when he had got a long way off, he met some people on the road going
to the king, and he told them to tell the king that Eyvind Kelda had
slipped away from the fire, and would never come again in King Olaf's
power, but would carry on his arts of witchcraft as much as ever. When
the people came to the king with such a message from Eyvind, the king
was ill pleased that Eyvind had escaped death.


When spring (A.D. 998) came King Olaf went out to Viken, and was on
visits to his great farms. He sent notice over all Viken that he would
call out an army in summer, and proceed to the north parts of the
country. Then he went north to Agder; and when Easter was approaching
he took the road to Rogaland with 300 (=360) men, and came on Easter
evening north to Ogvaldsnes, in Kormt Island, where an Easter feast was
prepared for him. That same night came Eyvind Kelda to the island with
a well-manned long-ship, of which the whole crew consisted of sorcerers
and other dealers with evil spirits. Eyvind went from his ship to the
land with his followers, and there they played many of their pranks of
witchcraft. Eyvind clothed them with caps of darkness, and so thick a
mist that the king and his men could see nothing of them; but when they
came near to the house at Ogvaldsnes, it became clear day. Then it went
differently from what Eyvind had intended: for now there came just such
a darkness over him and his comrades in witchcraft as they had made
before, so that they could see no more from their eyes than from the
back of their heads but went round and round in a circle upon the
island. When the king's watchman saw them going about, without knowing
what people these were, they told the king. Thereupon he rose up with
his people, put on his clothes, and when he saw Eyvind with his men
wandering about he ordered his men to arm, and examine what folk these
were. The king's men discovered it was Eyvind, took him and all his
company prisoners, and brought them to the king. Eyvind now told all he
had done on his journey. Then the king ordered these all to be taken out
to a skerry which was under water in flood tide, and there to be left
bound. Eyvind and all with him left their lives on this rock, and the
skerry is still called Skrattasker.


It is related that once on a time King Olaf was at a feast at this
Ogvaldsnes, and one eventide there came to him an old man very gifted in
words, and with a broad-brimmed hat upon his head. He was one-eyed, and
had something to tell of every land. He entered into conversation with
the king; and as the king found much pleasure in the guest's speech, he
asked him concerning many things, to which the guest gave good answers:
and the king sat up late in the evening. Among other things, the king
asked him if he knew who the Ogvald had been who had given his name both
to the ness and to the house. The guest replied, that this Ogvald was a
king, and a very valiant man, and that he made great sacrifices to a cow
which he had with him wherever he went, and considered it good for his
health to drink her milk. This same King Ogvald had a battle with a king
called Varin, in which battle Ogvald fell. He was buried under a mound
close to the house; "and there stands his stone over him, and close
to it his cow also is laid." Such and many other things, and ancient
events, the king inquired after. Now, when the king had sat late into
the night, the bishop reminded him that it was time to go to bed, and
the king did so. But after the king was undressed, and had laid himself
in bed, the guest sat upon the foot-stool before the bed, and still
spoke long with the king; for after one tale was ended, he still wanted
a new one. Then the bishop observed to the king, it was time to go to
sleep, and the king did so; and the guest went out. Soon after the king
awoke, asked for the guest, and ordered him to be called, but the guest
was not to be found. The morning after, the king ordered his cook and
cellar-master to be called, and asked if any strange person had been
with them. They said, that as they were making ready the meat a man
came to them, and observed that they were cooking very poor meat for the
king's table; whereupon he gave them two thick and fat pieces of beef,
which they boiled with the rest of the meat. Then the king ordered that
all the meat should be thrown away, and said this man can be no other
than the Odin whom the heathens have so long worshipped; and added, "but
Odin shall not deceive us."


King Olaf collected a great army in the east of the country towards
summer, and sailed with it north to Nidaros in the Throndhjem country.
From thence he sent a message-token over all the fjord, calling the
people of eight different districts to a Thing; but the bondes changed
the Thing-token into a war-token; and called together all men, free and
unfree, in all the Throndhjem land. Now when the king met the Thing,
the whole people came fully armed. After the Thing was seated, the king
spoke, and invited them to adopt Christianity; but he had only spoken a
short time when the bondes called out to him to be silent, or they
would attack him and drive him away. "We did so," said they, "with Hakon
foster-son of Athelstan, when he brought us the same message, and we
held him in quite as much respect as we hold thee." When King Olaf saw
how incensed the bondes were, and that they had such a war force that he
could make no resistance, he turned his speech as if he would give way
to the bondes, and said, "I wish only to be in a good understanding
with you as of old; and I will come to where ye hold your greatest
sacrifice-festival, and see your customs, and thereafter we shall
consider which to hold by." And in this all agreed; and as the king
spoke mildly and friendly with the bondes, their answer was appeased,
and their conference with the king went off peacefully. At the close
of it a midsummer sacrifice was fixed to take place in Maeren, and all
chiefs and great bondes to attend it as usual. The king was to be at it.


There was a great bonde called Skegge, and sometimes Jarnskegge, or
Iron Beard, who dwelt in Uphaug in Yrjar. He spoke first at the Thing
to Olaf; and was the foremost man of the bondes in speaking against
Christianity. The Thing was concluded in this way for that time,--the
bondes returned home, and the king went to Hlader.


King Olaf lay with his ships in the river Nid, and had thirty vessels,
which were manned with many brave people; but the king himself was often
at Hlader, with his court attendants. As the time now was approaching at
which the sacrifices should be made at Maeren, the king prepared a
great feast at Hlader, and sent a message to the districts of Strind,
Gaulardal, and out to Orkadal, to invite the chiefs and other great
bondes. When the feast was ready, and the chiefs assembled, there was a
handsome entertainment the first evening, at which plenty of liquor went
round, and the guests were made very drunk. The night after they all
slept in peace. The following morning, when the king was dressed, he had
the early mass sung before him; and when the mass was over, ordered to
sound the trumpets for a House Thing: upon which all his men left the
ships to come up to the Thing. When the Thing was seated, the king stood
up, and spoke thus: "We held a Thing at Frosta, and there I invited the
bondes to allow themselves to be baptized; but they, on the other hand,
invited me to offer sacrifice to their gods, as King Hakon, Athelstan's
foster-son, had done; and thereafter it was agreed upon between us that
we should meet at Maerin, and there make a great sacrifice. Now if I,
along with you, shall turn again to making sacrifice, then will I make
the greatest of sacrifices that are in use; and I will sacrifice men.
But I will not select slaves or malefactors for this, but will take the
greatest men only to be offered to the gods; and for this I select
Orm Lygra of Medalhus, Styrkar of Gimsar, Kar of Gryting, Asbjorn
Thorbergson of Varnes, Orm of Lyxa, Haldor of Skerdingsstedja;" and
besides these he named five others of the principal men. All these, he
said, he would offer in sacrifice to the gods for peace and a fruitful
season; and ordered them to be laid hold of immediately. Now when the
bondes saw that they were not strong enough to make head against the
king, they asked for peace, and submitted wholly to the king's pleasure.
So it was settled that all the bondes who had come there should be
baptized, and should take an oath to the king to hold by the right
faith, and to renounce sacrifice to the gods. The king then kept all
these men as hostages who came to his feast, until they sent him their
sons, brothers, or other near relations.


King Olaf went in with all his forces into the Throndhjem country; and
when he came to Maeren all among the chiefs of the Throndhjem people who
were most opposed to Christianity were assembled, and had with them all
the great bondes who had before made sacrifice at that place. There
was thus a greater multitude of bondes than there had been at the
Frosta-Thing. Now the king let the people be summoned to the Thing,
where both parties met armed; and when the Thing was seated the king
made a speech, in which he told the people to go over to Christianity.
Jarnskegge replies on the part of the bondes, and says that the will
of the bondes is now, as formerly, that the king should not break their
laws. "We want, king," said he, "that thou shouldst offer sacrifice, as
other kings before thee have done." All the bondes applauded his speech
with a loud shout, and said they would have all things according to what
Skegge said. Then the king said he would go into the temple of their
gods with them, and see what the practices were when they sacrificed.
The bondes thought well of this proceeding, and both parties went to the


Now King Olaf entered into the temple with some few of his men and a few
bondes; and when the king came to where their gods were, Thor, as
the most considered among their gods, sat there adorned with gold and
silver. The king lifted up his gold-inlaid axe which he carried in his
hands, and struck Thor so that the image rolled down from its seat. Then
the king's men turned to and threw down all the gods from their seats;
and while the king was in the temple, Jarnskegge was killed outside of
the temple doors, and the king's men did it. When the king came forth
out of the temple he offered the bondes two conditions,--that all should
accept of Christianity forthwith, or that they should fight with him.
But as Skegge was killed, there was no leader in the bondes' army to
raise the banner against King Olaf; so they took the other condition, to
surrender to the king's will and obey his order. Then King Olaf had
all the people present baptized, and took hostages from them for their
remaining true to Christianity; and he sent his men round to every
district, and no man in the Throndhjem country opposed Christianity, but
all people took baptism.


King Olaf with his people went out to Nidaros, and made houses on the
flat side of the river Nid, which he raised to be a merchant town, and
gave people ground to build houses upon. The king's house he had built
just opposite Skipakrok; and he transported thither, in harvest, all
that was necessary for his winter residence, and had many people about
him there.


King Olaf appointed a meeting with the relations of Jarnskegge, and
offered them the compensation or penalty for his bloodshed; for there
were many bold men who had an interest in that business. Jarnskegge had
a daughter called Gudrun; and at last it was agreed upon between the
parties that the king should take her in marriage. When the wedding day
came King Olaf and Gudrun went to bed together. As soon as Gudrun, the
first night they lay together, thought the king was asleep, she drew a
knife, with which she intended to run him through; but the king saw it,
took the knife from her, got out of bed, and went to his men, and told
them what had happened. Gudrun also took her clothes, and went away
along with all her men who had followed her thither. Gudrun never came
into the king's bed again.


The same autumn (A.D. 998) King Olaf laid the keel of a great long-ship
out on the strand at the river Nid. It was a snekkja; and he employed
many carpenters upon her, so that early in winter the vessel was ready.
It had thirty benches for rowers, was high in stem and stern, but
was not broad. The king called this ship Tranen (the Crane). After
Jarnskegge's death his body was carried to Yrjar, and lies there in the
Skegge mound on Austrat.


When King Olaf Trygvason had been two years king of Norway (A.D. 997),
there was a Saxon priest in his house who was called Thangbrand, a
passionate, ungovernable man, and a great man-slayer; but he was a good
scholar, and a clever man. The king would not have him in his house upon
account of his misdeeds; but gave him the errand to go to Iceland, and
bring that land to the Christian faith. The king gave him a merchant
vessel: and, as far as we know of this voyage of his, he landed first in
Iceland at Austfjord in the southern Alptfjord, and passed the winter in
the house of Hal of Sida. Thangbrand proclaimed Christianity in Iceland,
and on his persuasion Hal and all his house people, and many other
chiefs, allowed themselves to be baptized; but there were many more
who spoke against it. Thorvald Veile and Veterlide the skald composed
a satire about Thangbrand; but he killed them both outright. Thangbrand
was two years in Iceland, and was the death of three men before he left


There was a man called Sigurd, and another called Hauk, both of
Halogaland, who often made merchant voyages. One summer (A.D. 998) they
had made a voyage westward to England; and when they came back to Norway
they sailed northwards along the coast, and at North More they met King
Olaf's people. When it was told the king that some Halogaland people
were come who were heathen, he ordered the steersmen to be brought to
him, and he asked them if they would consent to be baptized; to which
they replied, no. The king spoke with them in many ways, but to no
purpose. He then threatened them with death and torture: but they would
not allow themselves to be moved. He then had them laid in irons, and
kept them in chains in his house for some time, and often conversed with
them, but in vain. At last one night they disappeared, without any man
being able to conjecture how they got away. But about harvest they came
north to Harek of Thjotta, who received them kindly, and with whom they
stopped all winter (A.D. 999), and were hospitably entertained.


It happened one good-weather day in spring (A.D. 999) that Harek was
at home in his house with only few people, and time hung heavy on his
hands. Sigurd asked him if he would row a little for amusement. Harek
was willing; and they went to the shore, and drew down a six-oared
skiff; and Sigurd took the mast and rigging belonging to the boat out of
the boat-house, for they often used to sail when they went for amusement
on the water. Harek went out into the boat to hang the rudder. The
brothers Sigurd and Hauk, who were very strong men, were fully armed, as
they were used to go about at home among the peasants. Before they went
out to the boat they threw into her some butter-kits and a bread-chest,
and carried between them a great keg of ale. When they had rowed a
short way from the island the brothers hoisted the sail, while Harek was
seated at the helm; and they sailed away from the island. Then the two
brothers went aft to where Harek the bonde was sitting; and Sigurd says
to him, "Now thou must choose one of these conditions,--first, that we
brothers direct this voyage; or, if not, that we bind thee fast and take
the command; or, third, that we kill thee." Harek saw how matters stood
with him. As a single man, he was not better than one of those brothers,
even if he had been as well armed; so it appeared to him wisest to let
them determine the course to steer, and bound himself by oath to abide
by this condition. On this Sigurd took the helm, and steered south
along the land, the brothers taking particular care that they did not
encounter people. The wind was very favourable; and they held on sailing
along until they came south to Throndhjem and to Nidaros, where they
found the king. Then the king called Harek to him, and in a conference
desired him to be baptized. Harek made objections; and although the king
and Harek talked over it many times, sometimes in the presence of other
people, and sometimes alone, they could not agree upon it. At last the
king says to Harek, "Now thou mayst return home, and I will do thee no
injury; partly because we are related together, and partly that thou
mayst not have it to say that I caught thee by a trick: but know
for certain that I intend to come north next summer to visit you
Halogalanders, and ye shall then see if I am not able to punish those
who reject Christianity." Harek was well pleased to get away as fast
as he could. King Olaf gave Harek a good boat of ten or twelve pair of
oars, and let it be fitted out with the best of everything needful;
and besides he gave Harek thirty men, all lads of mettle, and well


Harek of Thjotta went away from the town as fast as he could; but Hauk
and Sigurd remained in the king's house, and both took baptism. Harek
pursued his voyage until he came to Thjotta. He sent immediately a
message to his friend Eyvind Kinrifa, with the word that he had been
with King Olaf; but would not let himself be cowed down to accept
Christianity. The message at the same time informed him that King Olaf
intended coming to the north in summer against them, and they must be
at their posts to defend themselves; it also begged Eyvind to come and
visit him, the sooner the better. When this message was delivered to
Eyvind, he saw how very necessary it was to devise some counsel to avoid
falling into the king's hands. He set out, therefore, in a light vessel
with a few hands as fast as he could. When he came to Thjotta he was
received by Harek in the most friendly way, and they immediately entered
into conversation with each other behind the house. When they had spoken
together but a short time, King Olaf's men, who had secretly followed
Harek to the north, came up, and took Eyvind prisoner, and carried him
away to their ship. They did not halt on their voyage until they came
to Throndhjem, and presented themselves to King Olaf at Nidaros. Then
Eyvind was brought up to a conference with the king, who asked him to
allow himself to be baptized, like other people; but Eyvind decidedly
answered he would not. The king still, with persuasive words, urged him
to accept Christianity, and both he and the bishop used many suitable
arguments; but Eyvind would not allow himself to be moved. The king
offered him gifts and great fiefs, but Eyvind refused all. Then the king
threatened him with tortures and death, but Eyvind was steadfast. Then
the king ordered a pan of glowing coals to be placed upon Eyvind's
belly, which burst asunder. Eyvind cried, "Take away the pan, and I will
say something before I die," which also was done. The king said, "Wilt
thou now, Eyvind, believe in Christ?" "No," said Eyvind, "I can take no
baptism; for I am an evil spirit put into a man's body by the sorcery of
Fins because in no other way could my father and mother have a child."
With that died Eyvind, who had been one of the greatest sorcerers.


The spring after (A.D. 999) King Olaf fitted out and manned his ships,
and commanded himself his ship the Crane. He had many and smart people
with him; and when he was ready, he sailed northwards with his fleet
past Bryda, and to Halogaland. Wheresoever he came to the land, or to
the islands, he held a Thing, and told the people to accept the right
faith, and to be baptized. No man dared to say anything against it, and
the whole country he passed through was made Christian. King Olaf was
a guest in the house of Harek of Thjotta, who was baptized with all his
people. At parting the king gave Harek good presents; and he entered
into the king's service, and got fiefs, and the privileges of lendsman
from the king.


There was a bonde, by name Raud the Strong, who dwelt in Godey in
Salten fjord. Raud was a very rich man, who had many house servants; and
likewise was a powerful man, who had many Fins in his service when he
wanted them. Raud was a great idolater, and very skillful in witchcraft,
and was a great friend of Thorer Hjort, before spoken of. Both were
great chiefs. Now when they heard that King Olaf was coming with a great
force from the south to Halogaland, they gathered together an army,
ordered out ships, and they too had a great force on foot. Raud had
a large ship with a gilded head formed like a dragon, which ship had
thirty rowing benches, and even for that kind of ship was very large.
Thorer Hjort had also a large ship. These men sailed southwards with
their ships against King Olaf, and as soon as they met gave battle. A
great battle there was, and a great fall of men; but principally on the
side of the Halogalanders, whose ships were cleared of men, so that a
great terror came upon them. Raud rode with his dragon out to sea, and
set sail. Raud had always a fair wind wheresoever he wished to sail,
which came from his arts of witchcraft; and, to make a short story, he
came home to Godey. Thorer Hjort fled from the ships up to the land:
but King Olaf landed people, followed those who fled, and killed them.
Usually the king was the foremost in such skirmishes, and was so now.
When the king saw where Thorer Hjort, who was quicker on foot than any
man, was running to, he ran after him with his dog Vige. The king said,
"Vige! Vige! Catch the deer." Vige ran straight in upon him; on which
Thorer halted, and the king threw a spear at him. Thorer struck with his
sword at the dog, and gave him a great wound; but at the same moment the
king's spear flew under Thorer's arm, and went through and through him,
and came out at his other-side. There Thorer left his life; but Vige was
carried to the ships.


King Olaf gave life and freedom to all the men who asked it and agreed
to become Christian. King Olaf sailed with his fleet northwards along
the coast, and baptized all the people among whom he came; and when
he came north to Salten fjord, he intended to sail into it to look for
Raud, but a dreadful tempest and storm was raging in the fjord. They
lay there a whole week, in which the same weather was raging within
the fjord, while without there was a fine brisk wind only, fair for
proceeding north along the land. Then the king continued his voyage
north to Omd, where all the people submitted to Christianity. Then the
king turned about and sailed to the south again; but when he came to the
north side of Salten fjord, the same tempest was blowing, and the sea
ran high out from the fjord, and the same kind of storm prevailed for
several days while the king was lying there. Then the king applied to
Bishop Sigurd, and asked him if he knew any counsel about it; and the
bishop said he would try if God would give him power to conquer these
arts of the Devil.


Bishop Sigurd took all his mass robes and went forward to the bow of
the king's ship; ordered tapers to be lighted, and incense to be brought
out. Then he set the crucifix upon the stem of the vessel, read the
Evangelist and many prayers, besprinkled the whole ship with holy water,
and then ordered the ship-tent to be stowed away, and to row into the
fjord. The king ordered all the other ships to follow him. Now when all
was ready on board the Crane to row, she went into the fjord without the
rowers finding any wind; and the sea was curled about their keel track
like as in a calm, so quiet and still was the water; yet on each side
of them the waves were lashing up so high that they hid the sight of
the mountains. And so the one ship followed the other in the smooth sea
track; and they proceeded this way the whole day and night, until they
reached Godey. Now when they came to Raud's house his great ship, the
dragon, was afloat close to the land. King Olaf went up to the house
immediately with his people; made an attack on the loft in which Raud
was sleeping, and broke it open. The men rushed in: Raud was taken
and bound, and of the people with him some were killed and some made
prisoners. Then the king's men went to a lodging in which Raud's house
servants slept, and killed some, bound others, and beat others. Then
the king ordered Raud to be brought before him, and offered him baptism.
"And," says the king, "I will not take thy property from thee, but
rather be thy friend, if thou wilt make thyself worthy to be so." Raud
exclaimed with all his might against the proposal, saying he would never
believe in Christ, and making his scoff of God. Then the king was wroth,
and said Raud should die the worst of deaths. And the king ordered him
to be bound to a beam of wood, with his face uppermost, and a round pin
of wood set between his teeth to force his mouth open. Then the king
ordered an adder to be stuck into the mouth of him; but the serpent
would not go into his mouth, but shrunk back when Raud breathed against
it. Now the king ordered a hollow branch of an angelica root to be stuck
into Raud's mouth; others say the king put his horn into his mouth,
and forced the serpent to go in by holding a red-hot iron before the
opening. So the serpent crept into the mouth of Raud and down his
throat, and gnawed its way out of his side; and thus Raud perished. King
Olaf took here much gold and silver, and other property of weapons, and
many sorts of precious effects; and all the men who were with Raud he
either had baptized, or if they refused had them killed or tortured.
Then the king took the dragonship which Raud had owned, and steered it
himself; for it was a much larger and handsomer vessel than the Crane.
In front it had a dragon's head, and aft a crook, which turned up, and
ended with the figure of the dragon's tail. The carved work on each side
of the stem and stern was gilded. This ship the king called the Serpent.
When the sails were hoisted they represented, as it were, the dragon's
wings; and the ship was the handsomest in all Norway. The islands on
which Raud dwelt were called Gylling and Haering; but the whole islands
together were called Godey Isles, and the current between the isles and
the mainland the Godey Stream. King Olaf baptized the whole people of
the fjord, and then sailed southwards along the land; and on this
voyage happened much and various things, which are set down in tales
and sagas,--namely, how witches and evil spirits tormented his men, and
sometimes himself; but we will rather write about what occurred when
King Olaf made Norway Christian, or in the other countries in which he
advanced Christianity. The same autumn Olaf with his fleet returned to
Throndhjem, and landed at Nidaros, where he took up his winter abode.
What I am now going to write about concerns the Icelanders.


Kjartan Olafson, a son's son of Hoskuld, and a daughter's son of Egil
Skallagrimson, came the same autumn (A.D. 999) from Iceland to Nidaros,
and he was considered to be the most agreeable and hopeful man of any
born in Iceland. There was also Haldor, a son of Gudmund of Modruveller;
and Kolbein, a son of Thord, Frey's gode, and a brother's son of
Brennuflose; together with Sverting, a son of the gode Runolf. All
these were heathens; and besides them there were many more,--some men
of power, others common men of no property. There came also from
Iceland considerable people, who, by Thangbrand's help, had been made
Christians; namely, Gissur the white, a son of Teit Ketilbjornson;
and his mother was Alof, daughter of herse Bodvar, who was the son of
Vikingakare. Bodvar's brother was Sigurd, father of Eirik Bjodaskalle,
whose daughter Astrid was King Olaf's mother. Hjalte Skeggjason was
the name of another Iceland man, who was married to Vilborg, Gissur the
White's daughter. Hjalte was also a Christian; and King Olaf was very
friendly to his relations Gissur and Hjalte, who live with him. But the
Iceland men who directed the ships, and were heathens, tried to sail
away as soon as the king came to the town of Nidaros, for they were told
the king forced all men to become Christians; but the wind came stiff
against them, and drove them back to Nidarholm. They who directed the
ships were Thorarin Nefjulson, the skald Halfred Ottarson, Brand the
Generous, and Thorleik, Brand's son. It was told the king that there
were Icelanders with ships there, and all were heathen, and wanted to
fly from a meeting with the king. Then the king sent them a message
forbidding them to sail, and ordering them to bring their ships up to
the town, which they did, but without discharging the cargoes.

(They carried on their dealings and held a market at the king's pier. In
spring they tried three times to slip away, but never succeeded; so they
continued lying at the king's pier. It happened one fine day that
many set out to swim for amusement, and among them was a man who
distinguished himself above the others in all bodily exercises. Kjartan
challenged Halfred Vandredaskald to try himself in swimming against
this man, but he declined it. "Then will I make a trial," said Kjartan,
casting off his clothes, and springing into the water. Then he set after
the man, seizes hold of his foot, and dives with him under water. They
come up again, and without speaking a word dive again, and are much
longer under water than the first time. They come up again, and without
saying a word dive a third time, until Kjartan thought it was time to
come up again, which, however, he could in no way accomplish, which
showed sufficiently the difference in their strength. They were under
water so long that Kjartan was almost drowned. They then came up, and
swam to land. This Northman asked what the Icelander's name was. Kjartan
tells his name.

He says, "Thou art a good swimmer; but art thou expert also in other

Kjartan replied, that such expertness was of no great value.

The Northman asks, "Why dost thou not inquire of me such things as I
have asked thee about?"

Kjartan replies, "It is all one to me who thou art, or what thy name

"Then will I," says he, "tell thee: I am Olaf Trygvason."

He asked Kjartan much about Iceland, which he answered generally, and
wanted to withdraw as hastily as he could; but the king said, "Here is a
cloak which I will give thee, Kjartan." And Kjartan took the cloak with
many thanks.) (1)

   ENDNOTES: (1) The part included in parenthesis is not found in the
     original text of "Heimskringla", but taken from "Codex


When Michaelmas came, the king had high mass sung with great splendour.
The Icelanders went there, listening to the fine singing and the sound
of the bells; and when they came back to their ships every man told his
opinion of the Christian man's worship. Kjartan expressed his pleasure
at it, but most of the others scoffed at it; and it went according to
the proverb, "the king had many ears," for this was told to the king.
He sent immediately that very day a message to Kjartan to come to him.
Kjartan went with some men, and the king received him kindly. Kjartan
was a very stout and handsome man, and of ready and agreeable speech.
After the king and Kjartan had conversed a little, the king asked him to
adopt Christianity. Kjartan replies, that he would not say no to that,
if he thereby obtained the king's friendship; and as the king promised
him the fullest friendship, they were soon agreed. The next day Kjartan
was baptized, together with his relation Bolle Thorlakson, and all their
fellow-travelers. Kjartan and Bolle were the king's guests as long
as they were in their white baptismal clothes, and the king had much
kindness for them. Wherever they came they were looked upon as people of


As King Olaf one day was walking in the street some men met him, and he
who went the foremost saluted the king. The king asked the man his name,
and he called himself Halfred.

"Art thou the skald?" said the king.

"I can compose poetry," replied he.

"Wilt thou then adopt Christianity, and come into my service?" asked the

"If I am baptized," replies he, "it must be on one condition,--that thou
thyself art my godfather; for no other will I have."

The king replies, "That I will do." And Halfred was baptized, the king
holding him during the baptism.

Afterwards the king said, "Wilt thou enter into my service?"

Halfred replied, "I was formerly in Earl Hakon's court; but now I will
neither enter into thine nor into any other service, unless thou promise
me it shall never be my lot to be driven away from thee."

"It has been reported to me," said the king, "that thou are neither so
prudent nor so obedient as to fulfil my commands."

"In that case," replied Halfred, "put me to death."

"Thou art a skald who composes difficulties," says the king; "but into
my service, Halfred, thou shalt be received."

Halfred says, "if I am to be named the composer of difficulties, what
cost thou give me, king, on my name-day?"

The king gave him a sword without a scabbard, and said, "Now compose me
a song upon this sword, and let the word sword be in every line of the
strophe." Halfred sang thus:

     "This sword of swords is my reward.
     For him who knows to wield a sword,
     And with his sword to serve his lord,
     Yet wants a sword, his lot is hard.
     I would I had my good lord's leave
     For this good sword a sheath to choose:
     I'm worth three swords when men use,
     But for the sword-sheath now I grieve."

Then the king gave him the scabbard, observing that the word sword was
wanting in one line of his strophe. "But there instead are three
swords in one of the lines," says Halfred. "That is true," replies the
king.--Out of Halfred's lays we have taken the most of the true and
faithful accounts that are here related about Olaf Trygvason.


The same harvest (A.D. 999) Thangbrand the priest came back from Iceland
to King Olaf, and told the ill success of his journey; namely, that the
Icelanders had made lampoons about him; and that some even sought to
kill him, and there was little hope of that country ever being made
Christian. King Olaf was so enraged at this, that he ordered all the
Icelanders to be assembled by sound of horn, and was going to kill all
who were in the town, but Kjartan, Gissur, and Hjalte, with the other
Icelanders who had become Christians, went to him, and said, "King,
thou must not fail from thy word--that however much any man may irritate
thee, thou wilt forgive him if he turn from heathenism and become
Christian. All the Icelanders here are willing to be baptized; and
through them we may find means to bring Christianity into Iceland: for
there are many amongst them, sons of considerable people in Iceland,
whose friends can advance the cause; but the priest Thangbrand proceeded
there as he did here in the court, with violence and manslaughter, and
such conduct the people there would not submit to." The king harkened
to those remonstrances; and all the Iceland men who were there were


King Olaf was more expert in all exercises than any man in Norway whose
memory is preserved to us in sagas; and he was stronger and more agile
than most men, and many stories are written down about it. One is that
he ascended the Smalsarhorn, and fixed his shield upon the very peak.
Another is, that one of his followers had climbed up the peak after him,
until he came to where he could neither get up nor down; but the king
came to his help, climbed up to him, took him under his arm, and bore
him to the flat ground. King Olaf could run across the oars outside of
the vessel while his men were rowing the Serpent. He could play with
three daggers, so that one was always in the air, and he took the one
falling by the handle. He could walk all round upon the ship's rails,
could strike and cut equally well with both hands, and could cast two
spears at once. King Olaf was a very merry frolicsome man; gay and
social; was very violent in all respects; was very generous; was very
finical in his dress, but in battle he exceeded all in bravery. He was
distinguished for cruelty when he was enraged, and tortured many of his
enemies. Some he burnt in fire; some he had torn in pieces by mad
dogs; some he had mutilated, or cast down from high precipices. On this
account his friends were attached to him warmly, and his enemies
feared him greatly; and thus he made such a fortunate advance in his
undertakings, for some obeyed his will out of the friendliest zeal, and
others out of dread.


Leif, a son of Eirik the Red, who first settled in Greenland, came this
summer (A.D. 999) from Greenland to Norway; and as he met King Olaf he
adopted Christianity, and passed the winter (A.D. 1000) with the king.


Gudrod, a son of Eirik Bloodaxe and Gunhild, had been ravaging in the
west countries ever since he fled from Norway before the Earl Hakon. But
the summer before mentioned (A.D. 999), where King Olaf Trygvason had
ruled four years over Norway, Gudrod came to the country, and had many
ships of war with him. He had sailed from England; and when he thought
himself near to the Norway coast, he steered south along the land, to
the quarter where it was least likely King Olaf would be. Gudrod sailed
in this way south to Viken; and as soon as he came to the land he began
to plunder, to subject the people to him, and to demand that they should
accept of him as king. Now as the country people saw that a great army
was come upon them, they desired peace and terms. They offered King
Gudrod to send a Thing-message over all the country, and to accept of
him at the Thing as king, rather than suffer from his army; but
they desired delay until a fixed day, while the token of the Thing's
assembling was going round through the land. The king demanded
maintenance during the time this delay lasted. The bondes preferred
entertaining the king as a guest, by turns, as long as he required it;
and the king accepted of the proposal to go about with some of his men
as a guest from place to place in the land, while others of his men
remained to guard the ships. When King Olaf's relations, Hyrning and
Thorgeir, heard of this, they gathered men, fitted out ships, and went
northwards to Viken. They came in the night with their men to a place at
which King Gudrod was living as a guest, and attacked him with fire and
weapons; and there King Gudrod fell, and most of his followers. Of those
who were with his ships some were killed, some slipped away and fled to
great distances; and now were all the sons of Eirik and Gunhild dead.


The winter after, King Olaf came from Halogaland (A.D. 1000), he had a
great vessel built at Hladhamrar, which was larger than any ship in the
country, and of which the beam-knees are still to be seen. The length of
keel that rested upon the grass was seventy-four ells. Thorberg Skafhog
was the man's name who was the master-builder of the ship; but there
were many others besides,--some to fell wood, some to shape it, some to
make nails, some to carry timber; and all that was used was of the best.
The ship was both long and broad and high-sided, and strongly timbered.

While they were planking the ship, it happened that Thorberg had to go
home to his farm upon some urgent business; and as he remained there a
long time, the ship was planked up on both sides when he came back. In
the evening the king went out, and Thorberg with him, to see how the
vessel looked, and everybody said that never was seen so large and so
beautiful a ship of war. Then the king returned to the town. Early next
morning the king returns again to the ship, and Thorberg with him. The
carpenters were there before them, but all were standing idle with their
arms across. The king asked, "what was the matter?" They said the ship
was destroyed; for somebody had gone from, stem to stern, and cut one
deep notch after the other down the one side of the planking. When the
king came nearer he saw it was so, and said, with an oath, "The man
shall die who has thus destroyed the vessel out of envy, if he can be
discovered, and I shall bestow a great reward on whoever finds him out."

"I can tell you, king," said Thorberg, "who has done this piece of

"I don't think," replies the king, "that any one is so likely to find it
out as thou art."

Thorberg says, "I will tell you, king, who did it. I did it myself."

The king says, "Thou must restore it all to the same condition as
before, or thy life shall pay for it."

Then Thorberg went and chipped the planks until the deep notches were
all smoothed and made even with the rest; and the king and all present
declared that the ship was much handsomer on the side of the hull which
Thorberg, had chipped, and bade him shape the other side in the same
way; and gave him great thanks for the improvement. Afterwards Thorberg
was the master builder of the ship until she was entirely finished.
The ship was a dragon, built after the one the king had captured
in Halogaland; but this ship was far larger, and more carefully put
together in all her parts. The king called this ship Serpent the Long,
and the other Serpent the Short. The long Serpent had thirty-four
benches for rowers. The head and the arched tail were both gilt, and the
bulwarks were as high as in sea-going ships. This ship was the best and
most costly ship ever made in Norway.


Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, and his brothers, with many other
valiant men their relations, had left the country after Earl Hakon's
fall. Earl Eirik went eastwards to Svithjod, to Olaf, the Swedish king,
and he and his people were well received. King Olaf gave the earl peace
and freedom in the land, and great fiefs; so that he could support
himself and his men well. Thord Kolbeinson speaks of this in the verses
before given. Many people who fled from the country on account of King
Olaf Trygvason came out of Norway to Earl Eirik; and the earl resolved
to fit out ships and go a-cruising, in order to get property for himself
and his people. First he steered to Gotland, and lay there long in
summer watching for merchant vessels sailing towards the land, or for
vikings. Sometimes he landed and ravaged all round upon the sea-coasts.
So it is told in the "Banda-drapa":--

     "Eirik, as we have lately heard,
     Has waked the song of shield and sword--
     Has waked the slumbering storm of shields
     Upon the vikings' water-fields:
     From Gotland's lonely shore has gone
     Far up the land, and battles won:
     And o'er the sea his name is spread,
     To friends a shield, to foes a dread."

Afterwards Earl Eirik sailed south to Vindland, and at Stauren found
some viking ships, and gave them battle. Eirik gained the victory, and
slew the vikings. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa":--

     "Earl Eirik, he who stoutly wields
     The battle-axe in storm of shields,
     With his long ships surprised the foe
     At Stauren, and their strength laid low
     Many a corpse floats round the shore;
     The strand with dead is studded o'er:
     The raven tears their sea-bleached skins--
     The land thrives well when Eirik wins."


Earl Eirik sailed back to Sweden in autumn, and staid there all winter
(A.D. 997); but in the spring fitted out his war force again, and sailed
up the Baltic. When he came to Valdemar's dominions he began to plunder
and kill the inhabitants, and burn the dwellings everywhere as he
came along, and to lay waste the country. He came to Aldeigiuburg, and
besieged it until he took the castle; and he killed many people, broke
down and burned the castle, and then carried destruction all around far
and wide in Gardarike. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa":--

     "The generous earl, brave and bold,
     Who scatters his bright shining gold,
     Eirik with fire-scattering hand,
     Wasted the Russian monarch's land,--
     With arrow-shower, and storm of war,
     Wasted the land of Valdemar.
     Aldeiga burns, and Eirik's might
     Scours through all Russia by its light."

Earl Eirik was five years in all on this foray; and when he returned
from Gardarike he ravaged all Adalsysla and Eysysla, and took there four
viking ships from the Danes and killed every man on board. So it is told
in the "Banda-drapa":--

     "Among the isles flies round the word,
     That Eirik's blood-devouring sword
     Has flashed like fire in the sound,
     And wasted all the land around.
     And Eirik too, the bold in fight,
     Has broken down the robber-might
     Of four great vikings, and has slain
     All of the crew--nor spared one Dane.
     In Gautland he has seized the town,
     In Syssels harried up and down;
     And all the people in dismay
     Fled to the forests far away.
     By land or sea, in field or wave,
     What can withstand this earl brave?
     All fly before his fiery hand--
     God save the earl, and keep the land."

When Eirik had been a year in Sweden he went over to Denmark (A.D. 996)
to King Svein Tjuguskeg, the Danish king, and courted his daughter Gyda.
The proposal was accepted, and Earl Eirik married Gyda; and a year after
(A.D. 997) they had a son, who was called Hakon. Earl Eirik was in
the winter in Denmark, or sometimes in Sweden; but in summer he went


The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married to Gunhild, a daughter
of Burizleif, king of the Vinds. But in the times we have just been
speaking of it happened that Queen Gunhild fell sick and died. Soon
after King Svein married Sigrid the Haughty, a daughter of Skoglartoste,
and mother of the Swedish king Olaf; and by means of this relationship
there was great friendship between the kings and Earl Eirik, Hakon's


Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, complained to his relation Earl
Sigvalde, that the agreement was broken which Sigvalde had made between
King Svein and King Burizleif, by which Burizleif was to get in marriage
Thyre, Harald's daughter, a sister of King Svein: but that marriage had
not proceeded, for Thyre had given positive no to the proposal to marry
her to an old and heathen king. "Now," said King Burizleif to Earl
Sigvalde, "I must have the promise fulfilled." And he told Earl Sigvalde
to go to Denmark, and bring him Thyre as his queen. Earl Sigvalde loses
no time, but goes to King Svein of Denmark, explains to him the case;
and brings it so far by his persuasion, that the king delivered his
sister Thyre into his hands. With her went some female attendants, and
her foster-father, by name Ozur Agason, a man of great power, and some
other people. In the agreement between the king and the earl, it was
settled that Thyre should have in property the possessions which Queen
Gunhild had enjoyed in Vindland, besides other great properties as
bride-gifts. Thyre wept sorely, and went very unwillingly. When the
earl came to Vindland, Burizleif held his wedding with Queen Thyre,
and received her in marriage; bus as long as she was among heathens she
would neither eat nor drink with them, and this lasted for seven days.


It happened one night that Queen Thyre and Ozur ran away in the dark,
and into the woods, and, to be short in our story, came at last to
Denmark. But here Thyre did not dare to remain, knowing that if her
brother King Svein heard of her, he would send her back directly to
Vindland. She went on, therefore, secretly to Norway, and never stayed
her journey until she fell in with King Olaf, by whom she was kindly
received. Thyre related to the king her sorrows, and entreated
his advice in her need, and protection in his kingdom. Thyre was a
well-spoken woman, and the king had pleasure in her conversation. He saw
she was a handsome woman, and it came into his mind that she would be a
good match; so he turns the conversation that way, and asks if she will
marry him. Now, as she saw that her situation was such that she could
not help herself, and considered what a luck it was for her to marry so
celebrated a man, she bade him to dispose himself of her hand and fate;
and, after nearer conversation, King Olaf took Thyre in marriage. This
wedding was held in harvest after the king returned from Halogaland
(A.D. 999), and King Olaf and Queen Thyre remained all winter (A.D.
1000) at Nidaros.

The following spring Queen Thyre complained often to King Olaf, and wept
bitterly over it, that she who had so great property in Vindland had no
goods or possessions here in the country that were suitable for a queen;
and sometimes she would entreat the king with fine words to get her
property restored to her, and saying that King Burizleif was so great
a friend of King Olaf that he would not deny King Olaf anything if they
were to meet. But when King Olaf's friends heard of such speeches, they
dissuaded him from any such expedition. It is related at the king one
day early in spring was walking in the street, and met a man in the
market with many, and, for that early season, remarkably large angelica
roots. The king took a great stalk of the angelica in his hand, and went
home to Queen Thyre's lodging. Thyre sat in her room weeping as the king
came in. The king said, "Set here, queen, is a great angelica stalk,
which I give thee." She threw it away, and said, "A greater present
Harald Gormson gave to my mother; and he was not afraid to go out of the
land and take his own. That was shown when he came here to Norway, and
laid waste the greater part of the land, and seized on all the scat and
revenues; and thou darest not go across the Danish dominions for this
brother of mine, King Svein." As she spoke thus, King Olaf sprang up,
and answered with loud oath, "Never did I fear thy brother King Svein;
and if we meet he shall give way before me!"


Soon after the king convoked a Thing in the town, and proclaimed to all
the public, that in summer would go abroad upon an expedition out of the
country, and would raise both ships and men from every district; and at
the same time fixed how many ships would have from the whole Throndhjem
fjord. Then he sent his message-token south and north, both along the
sea-coast and up in the interior of the country, to let an army be
gathered. The king ordered the Long Serpent to be put into the water,
along with all his other ships both small and great. He himself steered
the Long Serpent. When the crews were taken out for the ships, they were
so carefully selected that no man on board the Long Serpent was older
than sixty or younger than twenty years, and all were men distinguished
for strength and courage. Those who were Olaf's bodyguard were in
particular chosen men, both of the natives and of foreigners, and the
boldest and strongest.


Ulf the Red was the name of the man who bore King Olaf's banner, and
was in the forecastle of the Long Serpent; and with him was Kolbjorn the
marshal, Thorstein Uxafot, and Vikar of Tiundaland, a brother of Arnliot
Gelline. By the bulkhead next the forecastle were Vak Raumason from Gaut
River, Berse the Strong, An Skyte from Jamtaland, Thrand the Strong from
Thelamork, and his brother Uthyrmer. Besides these were, of Halogaland
men, Thrand Skjalge and Ogmund Sande, Hlodver Lange from Saltvik,
and Harek Hvasse; together with these Throndhjem men--Ketil the High,
Thorfin Eisle, Havard and his brothers from Orkadal. The following were
in the fore-hold: Bjorn from Studla, Bork from the fjords. Thorgrim
Thjodolfson from Hvin, Asbjorn and Orm, Thord from Njardarlog, Thorstein
the White from Oprustadar, Arnor from More, Halstein and Hauk from the
Fjord district, Eyvind Snak, Bergthor Bestil, Halkel from Fialer, Olaf
Dreng, Arnfin from Sogn, Sigurd Bild, Einar from Hordaland, and Fin, and
Ketil from Rogaland and Grjotgard the Brisk. The following were in the
hold next the mast: Einar Tambaskelfer, who was not reckoned as fully
experienced, being only eighteen years old; Thorstein Hlifarson,
Thorolf, Ivar Smetta, and Orm Skogarnef. Many other valiant men were
in the Serpent, although we cannot tell all their names. In every half
division of the hold were eight men, and each and all chosen men; and in
the fore-hold were thirty men. It was a common saying among people, that
the Long Serpent's crew was as distinguished for bravery, strength, and
daring, among other men, as the Long Serpent was distinguished among
other ships. Thorkel Nefja, the king's brother, commanded the Short
Serpent; and Thorkel Dydril and Jostein, the king's mother's brothers,
had the Crane; and both these ships were well manned. King Olaf had
eleven large ships from Throndhjem, besides vessels with twenty rowers'
benches, smaller vessels, and provision-vessels.


When King Olaf had nearly rigged out his fleet in Nidaros, he appointed
men over the Throndhjem country in all districts and communities. He
also sent to Iceland Gissur the White and Hjalte Skeggjason, to proclaim
Christianity there; and sent with them a priest called Thormod, along
with several men in holy orders. But he retained with him, as hostages,
four Icelanders whom he thought the most important; namely, Kjartan
Olafson, Haldor Gudmundson, Kolbein Thordson, and Sverting Runolfson.
Of Gissur and Hjalte's progress, it is related that they came to
Iceland before the Althing, and went to the Thing; and in that Thing
Christianity was introduced by law into Iceland, and in the course of
the summer all the people were baptized (A.D. 1000).


The same spring King Olaf also sent Leif Eirikson (A.D. 1000) to
Greenland to proclaim Christianity there, and Leif went there that
summer. In the ocean he took up the crew of a ship which had been lost,
and who were clinging to the wreck. He also found Vinland the Good;
arrived about harvest in Greenland; and had with him for it a priest and
other teachers, with whom he went to Brattahild to lodge with his father
Eirik. People called him afterwards Leif the Lucky: but his father Eirik
said that his luck and ill luck balanced each other; for if Leif had
saved a wreck in the ocean, he had brought a hurtful person with him to
Greenland, and that was the priest.


The winter after King Olaf had baptized Halogaland, he and Queen Thyre
were in Nidaros; and the summer before Queen Thyre had brought King Olaf
a boy child, which was both stout and promising, and was called
Harald, after its mother's father. The king and queen loved the infant
exceedingly, and rejoiced in the hope that it would grow up and inherit
after its father; but it lived barely a year after its birth, which both
took much to heart. In that winter were many Icelanders and other clever
men in King Olaf's house, as before related. His sister Ingebjorg,
Trygve's daughter, King Olaf's sister, was also at the court at that
time. She was beautiful in appearance, modest and frank with the people,
had a steady manly judgment, and was beloved of all. She was very fond
of the Icelanders who were there, but most of Kjartan Olafson, for he
had been longer than the others in the king's house; and he found it
always amusing to converse with her, for she had both understanding and
cleverness in talk. The king was always gay and full of mirth in his
intercourse with people; and often asked about the manners of the
great men and chiefs in the neighbouring countries, when strangers
from Denmark or Sweden came to see him. The summer before Halfred
Vandredaskald had come from Gautland, where he had been with Earl
Ragnvald, Ulf's son, who had lately come to the government of West
Gautland. Ulf, Ragnvald's father, was a brother of Sigurd the Haughty;
so that King Olaf the Swede and Earl Ragnvald were brother's and
sister's children. Halfred told Olaf many things about the earl: he said
he was an able chief, excellently fitted for governing, generous with
money, brave and steady in friendship. Halfred said also the earl
desired much the friendship of King Olaf, and had spoken of making court
Ingebjorg, Trygve's daughter. The same winter came ambassadors from
Gautland, and fell in with King Olaf in the north, in Nidaros, and
brought the message which Halfred had spoken of,--that the earl desired
to be King Olaf's entire friend, and wished to become his brother-in-law
by obtaining his sister Ingebjorg in marriage. Therewith the ambassadors
laid before the king sufficient tokens in proof that in reality they
came from the earl on this errand. The king listened with approbation
to their speech; but said that Ingebjorg must determine on his assent to
the marriage. The king then talked to his sister about the matter, and
asked her opinion about it. She answered to this effect,--"I have been
with you for some time, and you have shown brotherly care and tender
respect for me ever since you came to the country. I will agree
therefore to your proposal about my marriage, provided that you do not
marry me to a heathen man." The king said it should be as she wished.
The king then spoke to the ambassadors; and it was settled before they
departed that in summer Earl Ragnvald should meet the king in the east
parts of the country, to enter into the fullest friendship with each
other, and when they met they would settle about the marriage. With this
reply the earl's messengers went westward, and King Olaf remained all
winter in Nidaros in great splendour, and with many people about him.


King Olaf proceeded in summer with his ships and men southwards along
the land (and past Stad. With him were Queen Thyre and Ingebjorg,
Trygveis daughter, the king's sister). Many of his friends also joined
him, and other persons of consequence who had prepared themselves to
travel with the king. The first man among these was his brother-in-law,
Erling Skjalgson, who had with him a large ship of thirty benches of
rowers, and which was in every respect well equipt. His brothers-in-law
Hyrning and Thorgeir also joined him, each of whom for himself steered
a large vessel; and many other powerful men besides followed him. (With
all this war-force he sailed southwards along the land; but when he
came south as far as Rogaland he stopped there, for Erling Skjalgson had
prepared for him a splendid feast at Sole. There Earl Ragnvald, Ulf's
son, from Gautland, came to meet the king, and to settle the business
which had been proposed in winter in the messages between them, namely,
the marriage with Ingebjorg the king's sister. Olaf received him kindly;
and when the matter came to be spoken of, the king said he would keep
his word, and marry his sister Ingebjorg to him, provided he would
accept the true faith, and make all his subjects he ruled over in his
land be baptized; The earl agreed to this, and he and all his followers
were baptized. Now was the feast enlarged that Erling had prepared, for
the earl held his wedding there with Ingebjorg the king's sister. King
Olaf had now married off all his sisters. The earl, with Ingebjorg, set
out on his way home; and the king sent learned men with him to baptize
the people in Gautland, and to teach them the right faith and morals.
The king and the earl parted in the greatest friendship.)


(After his sister Ingebjorg's wedding, the king made ready in all haste
to leave the country with his army, which was both great and made up
of fine men.) When he left the land and sailed southwards he had sixty
ships of war, with which he sailed past Denmark, and in through the
Sound, and on to Vindland. He appointed a meeting with King Burizleif;
and when the kings met, they spoke about the property which King Olaf
demanded, and the conference went off peaceably, as a good account was
given of the properties which King Olaf thought himself entitled to
there. He passed here much of the summer, and found many of his old


The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married, as before related, to
Sigrid the Haughty. Sigrid was King Olaf Trygvason's greatest enemy; the
cause of which, as before said, was that King Olaf had broken off with
her, and had struck her in the face. She urged King Svein much to give
battle to King Olaf Trygvason; saying that he had reason enough, as
Olaf had married his sister Thyre without his leave, "and that your
predecessors would not have submitted to." Such persuasions Sigrid
had often in her mouth; and at last she brought it so far that Svein
resolved firmly on doing so. Early in spring King Svein sent messengers
eastward into Svithjod, to his son-in-law Olaf, the Swedish king, and to
Earl Eirik; and informed them that King Olaf of Norway was levying men
for an expedition, and intended in summer to go to Vindland. To this
news the Danish king added an invitation to the Swedish king and Earl
Eirik to meet King Svein with an army, so that all together they might
make an attack; on King Olaf Trygvason. The Swedish king and Earl Eirik
were ready enough for this, and immediately assembled a great fleet
and an army through all Svithjod, with which they sailed southwards to
Denmark, and arrived there after King Olaf Trygvason had sailed to
the eastward. Haldor the Unchristian tells of this in his lay on Earl

     "The king-subduer raised a host
     Of warriors on the Swedish coast.
     The brave went southwards to the fight,
     Who love the sword-storm's gleaming light;
     The brave, who fill the wild wolf's mouth,
     Followed bold Eirik to the south;
     The brave, who sport in blood--each one
     With the bold earl to sea is gone."

The Swedish king and Earl Eirik sailed to meet the Danish king, and they
had all, when together, an immense force.


At the same time that king Svein sent a message to Svithjod for an
army, he sent Earl Sigvalde to Vindland to spy out King Olaf Trygvason's
proceedings, and to bring it about by cunning devices that King Svein
and King Olaf should fall in with each other. So Sigvalde sets out to
go to Vindland. First, he came to Jomsborg, and then he sought out King
Olaf Trygvason. There was much friendship in their conversation, and
the earl got himself into great favour with the king. Astrid, the
Earl's wife, King Burizleif's daughter, was a great friend of King Olaf
Trygvason, particularly on account of the connection which had been
between them when Olaf was married to her sister Geira. Earl Sigvalde
was a prudent, ready-minded man; and as he had got a voice in King
Olaf's council, he put him off much from sailing homewards, finding
various reasons for delay. Olaf's people were in the highest degree
dissatisfied with this; for the men were anxious to get home, and they
lay ready to sail, waiting only for a wind. At last Earl Sigvalde got
a secret message from Denmark that the Swedish king's army was arrived
from the east, and that Earl Eirik's also was ready; and that all these
chiefs had resolved to sail eastwards to Vindland, and wait for King
Olaf at an island which is called Svold. They also desired the earl to
contrive matters so that they should meet King Olaf there.


There came first a flying report to Vindland that the Danish king,
Svein, had fitted out an army; and it was soon whispered that he
intended to attack King Olaf. But Earl Sigvalde says to King Olaf, "It
never can be King Svein's intention to venture with the Danish force
alone, to give battle to thee with such a powerful army; but if thou
hast any suspicion that evil is on foot, I will follow thee with my
force (at that time it was considered a great matter to have Jomsborg
vikings with an army), and I will give thee eleven well-manned ships."
The king accepted this offer; and as the light breeze of wind that
came was favourable, he ordered the ships to get under weigh, and the
war-horns to sound the departure. The sails were hoisted and all the
small vessels, sailing fastest, got out to sea before the others. The
earl, who sailed nearest to the king's ship, called to those on board to
tell the king to sail in his keel-track: "For I know where the water
is deepest between the islands and in the sounds, and these large ships
require the deepest." Then the earl sailed first with his eleven ships,
and the king followed with his large ships, also eleven in number; but
the whole of the rest of the fleet sailed out to sea. Now when Earl
Sigvalde came sailing close under the island Svold, a skiff rowed out
to inform the earl that the Danish king's army was lying in the harbour
before them. Then the earl ordered the sails of his vessels to be
struck, and they rowed in under the island. Haldor the Unchristian

     "From out the south bold Trygve's son
     With one-and-seventy ships came on,
     To dye his sword in bloody fight,
     Against the Danish foeman's might.
     But the false earl the king betrayed;
     And treacherous Sigvalde, it is said,
     Deserted from King Olaf's fleet,
     And basely fled, the Danes to meet."

It is said here that King Olaf and Earl Sigvalde had seventy sail of
vessels: and one more, when they sailed from the south.


The Danish King Svein, the Swedish King Olaf, and Earl Eirik, were there
with all their forces (1000). The weather being fine and clear sunshine,
all these chiefs, with a great suite, went out on the isle to see the
vessels sailing out at sea, and many of them crowded together; and they
saw among them one large and glancing ship. The two kings said, "That is
a large and very beautiful vessel: that will be the Long Serpent."

Earl Eirik replied, "That is not the Long Serpent." And he was right;
for it was the ship belonging to Eindride of Gimsar.

Soon after they saw another vessel coming sailing along much larger than
the first; then says King Svein, "Olaf Trygvason must be afraid, for
he does not venture to sail with the figure-head of the dragon upon his

Says Earl Eirik, "That is not the king's ship yet; for I know that
ship by the coloured stripes of cloth in her sail. That is Erling
Skialgson's. Let him sail; for it is the better for us that the ship is
away from Olaf's fleet, so well equipt as she is."

Soon after they saw and knew Earl Sigvalde's ships, which turned in and
laid themselves under the island. Then they saw three ships coming along
under sail, and one of them very large. King Svein ordered his men to go
to their ships, "for there comes the Long Serpent."

Earl Eirik says, "Many other great and stately vessels have they besides
the Long Serpent. Let us wait a little."

Then said many, "Earl Eirik will not fight and avenge his father; and it
is a great shame that it should be told that we lay here with so great a
force, and allowed King Olaf to sail out to sea before our eyes."

But when they had spoken thus for a short time, they saw four ships
coming sailing along, of which one had a large dragon-head richly gilt.
Then King Svein stood up and said, "That dragon shall carry me this
evening high, for I shall steer it."

Then said many, "The Long Serpent is indeed a wonderfully large and
beautiful vessel, and it shows a great mind to have built such a ship."

Earl Eirik said so loud that several persons heard him, "If King Olaf
had no ether vessels but only that one, King Svein would never take it
from him with the Danish force alone."

Thereafter all the people rushed on board their ships, took down the
tents, and in all haste made ready for battle.

While the chiefs were speaking among themselves as above related, they
saw three very large ships coming sailing along, and at last after them
a fourth, and that was the Long Serpent. Of the large ships which had
gone before, and which they had taken for the Long Serpent, the first
was the Crane; the one after that was the Short Serpent; and when they
really, saw the Long Serpent, all knew, and nobody had a word to say
against it, that it must be Olaf Trygvason who was sailing in such a
vessel; and they went to their ships to arm for the fight.

An agreement had been concluded among the chiefs, King Svein, King Olaf
the Swede, and Earl Eirik, that they should divide Norway among them in
three parts, in case they succeeded against Olaf Trygvason; but that he
of the chiefs who should first board the Serpent should have her, and
all the booty found in her, and each should have the ships he cleared
for himself. Earl Eirik had a large ship of war which he used upon his
viking expeditions; and there was an iron beard or comb above on both
sides of the stem, and below it a thick iron plate as broad as the
combs, which went down quite to the gunnel.


When Earl Sigvalde with his vessels rowed in under the island, Thorkel
Dydril of the Crane, and the other ship commanders who sailed with him,
saw that he turned his ships towards the isle, and thereupon let fall
the sails, and rowed after him, calling out, and asking why he sailed
that way. The Earl answered, that he was waiting for king Olaf, as he
feared there were enemies in the water. They lay upon their oars until
Thorkel Nefia came up with the Short Serpent and the three ships which
followed him. When they told them the same they too struck sail, and
let the ships drive, waiting for king Olaf. But when the king sailed in
towards the isle, the whole enemies' fleet came rowing within them out
to the Sound. When they saw this they begged the king to hold on his
way, and not risk battle with so great a force. The king replied, high
on the quarter-deck where he stood, "Strike the sails; never shall men
of mine think of flight. I never fled from battle. Let God dispose of my
life, but flight I shall never take." It was done as the king commanded.
Halfred tells of it thus:--

     "And far and wide the saying bold
     Of the brave warrior shall be told.
     The king, in many a fray well tried,
     To his brave champions round him cried,
     'My men shall never learn from me
     From the dark weapon-cloud to flee.'
     Nor were the brave words spoken then
     Forgotten by his faithful men."


King Olaf ordered the war-horns to sound for all his ships to close up
to each other. The king's ship lay in the middle of the line, and on
one side lay the Little Serpent, and on the other the Crane; and as they
made fast the stems together (1), the Long Serpent's stem and the short
Serpent's were made fast together; but when the king saw it he called
out to his men, and ordered them to lay the larger ship more in advance,
so that its stern should not lie so far behind in the fleet.

Then says Ulf the Red, "If the Long Serpent is to lie as much more ahead
of the other ships as she is longer than them, we shall have hard work
of it here on the forecastle."

The king replies, "I did not think I had a forecastle man afraid as well
as red."

Says Ulf, "Defend thou the quarterdeck as I shall the forecastle."

The king had a bow in his hands, and laid an arrow on the string, and
aimed at Ulf.

Ulf said, "Shoot another way, king, where it is more needful: my work is
thy gain."

   ENDNOTES: (1) The mode of fighting in sea battles appears, from this and
     many other descriptions, to have been for each party to bind
     together the stems and sterns of their own ships, forming
     them thus into a compact body as soon as the fleets came
     within fighting distance, or within spears' throw.  They
     appear to have fought principally from the forecastles; and
     to have used grappling irons for dragging a vessel out of
     the line, or within boarding distance.--L.


King Olaf stood on the Serpent's quarterdeck, high over the others. He
had a gilt shield, and a helmet inlaid with gold; over his armour he had
a short red coat, and was easy to be distinguished from other men. When
King Olaf saw that the scattered forces of the enemy gathered themselves
together under the banners of their ships, he asked, "Who is the chief
of the force right opposite to us?"

He was answered, that it was King Svein with the Danish army.

The king replies, "We are not afraid of these soft Danes, for there is
no bravery in them; but who are the troops on the right of the Danes?"

He was answered, that it was King Olaf with the Swedish forces.

"Better it were," says King Olaf, "for these Swedes to be sitting at
home killing their sacrifices, than to be venturing under our weapons
from the Long Serpent. But who owns the large ships on the larboard side
of the Danes?"

"That is Earl Eirik Hakonson," say they.

The king replies, "He, methinks, has good reason for meeting us; and we
may expect the sharpest conflict with these men, for they are Norsemen
like ourselves."


The kings now laid out their oars, and prepared to attack (A.D. 1000).
King Svein laid his ship against the Long Serpent. Outside of him Olaf
the Swede laid himself, and set his ship's stern against the outermost
ship of King Olaf's line; and on the other side lay Earl Eirik. Then a
hard combat began. Earl Sigvalde held back with the oars on his ships,
and did not join the fray. So says Skule Thorsteinson, who at that time
was with Earl Eirik:--

     "I followed Sigvalde in my youth,
     And gallant Eirik, and in truth
     The' now I am grown stiff and old,
     In the spear-song I once was bold.
     Where arrows whistled on the shore
     Of Svold fjord my shield I bore,
     And stood amidst the loudest clash
     When swords on shields made fearful crash."

And Halfred also sings thus:--

     "In truth I think the gallant king,
     Midst such a foemen's gathering,
     Would be the better of some score
     Of his tight Throndhjem lads, or more;
     For many a chief has run away,
     And left our brave king in the fray,
     Two great kings' power to withstand,
     And one great earl's, with his small band,
     The king who dares such mighty deed
     A hero for his skald would need."


This battle was one of the severest told of, and many were the people
slain. The forecastle men of the Long Serpent, the Little Serpent, and
the Crane, threw grapplings and stem chains into King Svein's ship, and
used their weapons well against the people standing below them, for they
cleared the decks of all the ships they could lay fast hold of; and
King Svein, and all the men who escaped, fled to other vessels, and laid
themselves out of bow-shot. It went with this force just as King Olaf
Trygvason had foreseen. Then King Olaf the Swede laid himself in their
place; but when he came near the great ships it went with him as with
them, for he lost many men and some ships, and was obliged to get away.
But Earl Eirik laid his ship side by side with the outermost of King
Olaf's ships, thinned it of men, cut the cables, and let it drive. Then
he laid alongside of the next, and fought until he had cleared it of men
also. Now all the people who were in the smaller ships began to run into
the larger, and the earl cut them loose as fast as he cleared them of
men. The Danes and Swedes laid themselves now out of shooting distance
all around Olaf's ship; but Earl Eirik lay always close alongside of the
ships, and used hid swords and battle-axes, and as fast as people fell
in his vessel others, Danes and Swedes, came in their place. So says
Haldor, the Unchristian:--

     "Sharp was the clang of shield and sword,
     And shrill the song of spears on board,
     And whistling arrows thickly flew
     Against the Serpent's gallant crew.
     And still fresh foemen, it is said,
     Earl Eirik to her long side led;
     Whole armies of his Danes and Swedes,
     Wielding on high their blue sword-blades."

Then the fight became most severe, and many people fell. But at last it
came to this, that all King Olaf Trygvason's ships were cleared of men
except the Long Serpent, on board of which all who could still carry
their arms were gathered. Then Earl Eirik lay with his ship by the side
of the Serpent, and the fight went on with battle-axe and sword. So says

     "Hard pressed on every side by foes,
     The Serpent reels beneath the blows;
     Crash go the shields around the bow!
     Breast-plates and breasts pierced thro' and thro!
     In the sword-storm the Holm beside,
     The earl's ship lay alongside
     The king's Long Serpent of the sea--
     Fate gave the earl the victory."


Earl Eirik was in the forehold of his ship, where a cover of shields (1)
had been set up. In the fight, both hewing weapons, sword, and axe, and
the thrust of spears had been used; and all that could be used as weapon
for casting was cast. Some used bows, some threw spears with the hand.
So many weapons were cast into the Serpent, and so thick flew spears and
arrows, that the shields could scarcely receive them, for on all sides
the Serpent was surrounded by war-ships. Then King Olaf's men became so
mad with rage, that they ran on board of the enemies ships, to get at
the people with stroke of sword and kill them; but many did not lay
themselves so near the Serpent, in order to escape the close encounter
with battle-axe or sword; and thus the most of Olaf's men went overboard
and sank under their weapons, thinking they were fighting on plain
ground. So says Halfred:--

     "The daring lads shrink not from death;--
     O'erboard they leap, and sink beneath
     The Serpent's keel: all armed they leap,
     And down they sink five fathoms deep.
     The foe was daunted at the cheers;
     The king, who still the Serpent steers,
     In such a strait--beset with foes--
     Wanted but some more lads like those."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Both in land and sea fights the commanders appear to have
     been protected from missile weapons,--stones, arrows,
     spears,--by a shieldburg: that is, by a party of men
     bearing shields surrounding them in such a way that the
     shields were a parapet, covering those within the circle.
     The Romans had a similar military arrangement of shields in
     sieges--the testudo.--L.


Einar Tambarskelver, one of the sharpest of bowshooters, stood by the
mast, and shot with his bow. Einar shot an arrow at Earl Eirik, which
hit the tiller end just above the earl's head so hard that it entered
the wood up to the arrow-shaft. The earl looked that way, and asked
if they knew who had shot; and at the same moment another arrow flew
between his hand and his side, and into the stuffing of the chief's
stool, so that the barb stood far out on the other side. Then said the
earl to a man called Fin,--but some say he was of Fin (Laplander) race,
and was a superior archer,--"Shoot that tall man by the mast." Fin shot;
and the arrow hit the middle of Einar's bow just at the moment that
Einar was drawing it, and the bow was split in two parts.

"What is that," cried King Olaf, "that broke with such a noise?"

"Norway, king, from thy hands," cried Einar.

"No! not quite so much as that," says the king; "take my bow, and
shoot," flinging the bow to him.

Einar took the bow, and drew it over the head of the arrow. "Too weak,
too weak," said he, "for the bow of a mighty king!" and, throwing the
bow aside, he took sword and shield, and fought Valiantly.


The king stood on the gangways of the Long Serpent, and shot the greater
part of the day; sometimes with the bow, sometimes with the spear,
and always throwing two spears at once. He looked down over the ship's
sides, and saw that his men struck briskly with their swords, and yet
wounded but seldom. Then he called aloud, "Why do ye strike so gently
that ye seldom cut?" One among the people answered, "The swords are
blunt and full of notches." Then the king went down into the forehold,
opened the chest under the throne, and took out many sharp swords, which
he handed to his men; but as he stretched down his right hand with them,
some observed that blood was running down under his steel glove, but no
one knew where he was wounded.


Desperate was the defence in the Serpent, and there was the heaviest
destruction of men done by the forecastle crew, and those of the
forehold, for in both places the men were chosen men, and the ship was
highest, but in the middle of the ship the people were thinned. Now when
Earl Eirik saw there were but few people remaining beside the ship's
mast, he determined to board; and he entered the Serpent with four
others. Then came Hyrning, the king's brother-in-law, and some others
against him, and there was the most severe combat; and at last the earl
was forced to leap back on board his own ship again, and some who
had accompanied him were killed, and others wounded. Thord Kolbeinson
alludes to this:--

     "On Odin's deck, all wet with blood,
     The helm-adorned hero stood;
     And gallant Hyrning honour gained,
     Clearing all round with sword deep stained.
     The high mountain peaks shall fall,
     Ere men forget this to recall."

Now the fight became hot indeed, and many men fell on board the Serpent;
and the men on board of her began to be thinned off, and the defence to
be weaker. The earl resolved to board the Serpent again, and again he
met with a warm reception. When the forecastle men of the Serpent saw
what he was doing, they went aft and made a desperate fight; but so many
men of the Serpent had fallen, that the ship's sides were in many places
quite bare of defenders; and the earl's men poured in all around into
the vessel, and all the men who were still able to defend the ship
crowded aft to the king, and arrayed themselves for his defence. So says
Haldor the Unchristian:--

     "Eirik cheers on his men,--
     'On to the charge again!'
     The gallant few
     Of Olaf's crew
     Must refuge take
     On the quarter-deck.
     Around the king
     They stand in ring;
     Their shields enclose
     The king from foes,
     And the few who still remain
     Fight madly, but in vain.
     Eirik cheers on his men--
     'On to the charge again!'"


Kolbjorn the marshal, who had on clothes and arms like the kings,
and was a remarkably stout and handsome man, went up to king on the
quarter-deck. The battle was still going on fiercely even in the
forehold (1). But as many of the earl's men had now got into the Serpent
as could find room, and his ships lay all round her, and few were the
people left in the Serpent for defence against so great a force; and in
a short time most of the Serpent's men fell, brave and stout though they
were. King Olaf and Kolbjorn the marshal both sprang overboard, each on
his own side of the ship; but the earl's men had laid out boats around
the Serpent, and killed those who leaped overboard. Now when the king
had sprung overboard, they tried to seize him with their hands, and
bring him to Earl Eirik; but King Olaf threw his shield over his head,
and sank beneath the waters. Kolbjorn held his shield behind him to
protect himself from the spears cast at him from the ships which lay
round the Serpent, and he fell so upon his shield that it came under
him, so that he could not sink so quickly. He was thus taken and brought
into a boat, and they supposed he was the king. He was brought before
the earl; and when the earl saw it was Kolbjorn, and not the king, he
gave him his life. At the same moment all of King Olaf's men who were
in life sprang overboard from the Serpent; and Thorkel Nefia, the king's
brother, was the last of all the men who sprang overboard. It is thus
told concerning the king by Halfred:--

     "The Serpent and the Crane
     Lay wrecks upon the main.
     On his sword he cast a glance,--
     With it he saw no chance.
     To his marshal, who of yore
     Many a war-chance had come o'er,
     He spoke a word--then drew in breath,
     And sprang to his deep-sea death."

   ENDNOTES: (1) From the occasional descriptions of vessels in this and
     other battles, it may be inferred that even the Long
     Serpent, described in the 95th chapter as of 150 feet of
     keel was only docked fore and aft; the thirty-four benches
     for rowers occupying the open area in the middle, and
     probably gangways running along the side for communicating
     from the quarter-deck to the forcastle.--L.


Earl Sigvalde, as before related, came from Vindland, in company with
King Olaf, with ten ships; but the eleventh ship was manned with the men
of Astrid, the king's daughter, the wife of Earl Sigvalde. Now when King
Olaf sprang overboard, the whole army raised a shout of victory; and
then Earl Sigvalde and his men put their oars in the water and rowed
towards the battle. Haldor the Unchristian tells of it thus:--

     "Then first the Vindland vessels came
     Into the fight with little fame;
     The fight still lingered on the wave,
     Tho' hope was gone with Olaf brave.
     War, like a full-fed ravenous beast,
     Still oped her grim jaws for the feast.
     The few who stood now quickly fled,
     When the shout told--'Olaf is dead!'"

But the Vindland cutter, in which Astrid's men were, rowed back to
Vindland; and the report went immediately abroad and was told by many,
that King Olaf had cast off his coat-of-mail under water, and had swum,
diving under the longships, until he came to the Vindland cutter, and
that Astrid's men had conveyed him to Vindland: and many tales have been
made since about the adventures of Olaf the king. Halfred speaks thus
about it:--

     "Does Olaf live? or is he dead?
     Has he the hungry ravens fed?
     I scarcely know what I should say,
     For many tell the tale each way.
     This I can say, nor fear to lie,
     That he was wounded grievously--
     So wounded in this bloody strife,
     He scarce could come away with life."

But however this may have been, King Olaf Trygvason never came back
again to his kingdom of Norway. Halfred Vandredaskald speaks also thus
about it:

     "The witness who reports this thing
     Of Trygvason, our gallant king,
     Once served the king, and truth should tell,
     For Olaf hated lies like hell.
     If Olaf 'scaped from this sword-thing,
     Worse fate, I fear, befel our king
     Than people guess, or e'er can know,
     For he was hemm'd in by the foe.
     From the far east some news is rife
     Of king sore wounded saving life;
     His death, too sure, leaves me no care
     For cobweb rumours in the air.
     It never was the will of fate
     That Olaf from such perilous strait
     Should 'scape with life!  this truth may grieve--
     'What people wish they soon believe.'"


By this victory Earl Eirik Hakonson became owner of the Long Serpent,
and made a great booty besides; and he steered the Serpent from the
battle. So says Haldor:--

     "Olaf, with glittering helmet crowned,
     Had steered the Serpent through the Sound;
     And people dressed their boats, and cheered
     As Olaf's fleet in splendour steered.
     But the descendent of great Heming,
     Whose race tells many a gallant sea-king,
     His blue sword in red life-blood stained,
     And bravely Olaf's long ship gained."

Svein, a son of Earl Hakon, and Earl Eirik's brother, was engaged at
this time to marry Holmfrid, a daughter of King Olaf the Swedish king.
Now when Svein the Danish king, Olaf the Swedish king, and Earl Eirik
divided the kingdom of Norway between them, King Olaf got four districts
in the Throndhjem country, and also the districts of More and Raumsdal;
and in the east part of the land he got Ranrike, from the Gaut river
to Svinasund. Olaf gave these dominions into Earl Svein's hands, on the
same conditions as the sub kings or earls had held them formerly from
the upper-king of the country. Earl Eirik got four districts in the
Throndhjem country, and Halogaland, Naumudal, the Fjord districts, Sogn,
Hordaland, Rogaland, and North Agder, all the way to the Naze. So says
Thord Kolbeinson:--

     "All chiefs within our land
     On Eirik's side now stand:
     Erling alone, I know
     Remains Earl Eirik's foe.
     All praise our generous earl,--
     He gives, and is no churl:
     All men are well content
     Fate such a chief has sent.
     From Veiga to Agder they,
     Well pleased, the earl obey;
     And all will by him stand,
     To guard the Norsemen's land.
     And now the news is spread
     That mighty Svein is dead,
     And luck is gone from those
     Who were the Norsemen's foes."

The Danish king Svein retained Viken as he had held it before, but he
gave Raumarike and Hedemark to Earl Eirik. Svein Hakonson got the title
of earl from Olaf the Swedish king. Svein was one of the handsomest
men ever seen. The earls Eirik and Svein both allowed themselves to
be baptized, and took up the true faith; but as long as they ruled in
Norway they allowed every one to do as he pleased in holding by his
Christianity. But, on the other hand, they held fast by the old laws,
and all the old rights and customs of the land, and were excellent men
and good rulers. Earl Eirik had most to say of the two brothers in all
matters of government.



Olaf Haraldson the Saint's Saga is the longest, the most important, and
the most finished of all the sagas in "Heimskringla". The life of Olaf
will be found treated more or less freely in "Agrip", in "Historia
Norvegiae", in "Thjodrek the Monk", in the legendary saga, and in
"Fagrskinna". Other old Norse literature relating to this epoch:

Are's "Islendingabok", "Landnama", "Kristni Saga", "Biskupa-sogur",
"Njala", "Gunlaugs Saga", "Ormstungu", "Bjarnar Saga Hitdaelakappa",
"Hallfredar Thattr Vandraedaskalde", "Eyrbyggia", "Viga Styrs Saga",
"Laxdaela", "Fostbraedra", "Gretla", "Liosvetninga", "Faereyinga",

Olaf Haraldson was born 995, went as a viking at the age of twelve,
1007; visited England, one summer and three winters, 1009-1012; in
France two summers and one winter, 1012-1013; spent the winter in
Normandy, 1014; returned to Norway and was recognized as King, April 3,
1015; fled from Norway the winter of 1028-1029; fell at Stiklestad, July
29 (or August 31), 1030.

Skalds quoted in this saga are:--Ottar Svarte, Sigvat Skald, Thord
Kolbeinson, Berse Torfason, Brynjolf, Arnor Jarlaskald, Thord Siarekson,
Harek, Thorarin Loftunga, Halvard Hareksblese, Bjarne Gulbraskald, Jokul
Bardson, Thormod Kolbrunarskald, Gissur, Thorfin Mun, Hofgardaref.

   ENDNOTES: (1) King Olaf the Saint reigned from about the year 1015 to
     1030.  The death of King Olaf Trygvason was in the year
     1000: and Earl Eirik held the government for the Danish and
     Swedish kings about fifteen years.--L.


Olaf, Harald Grenske's son, was brought up by his stepfather Sigurd Syr
and his mother Asta. Hrane the Far-travelled lived in the house of
Asta, and fostered this Olaf Haraldson. Olaf came early to manhood, was
handsome in countenance, middle-sized in growth, and was even when very
young of good understanding and ready speech. Sigurd his stepfather was
a careful householder, who kept his people closely to their work, and
often went about himself to inspect his corn-rigs and meadowland, the
cattle, and also the smith-work, or whatsoever his people had on hand to


It happened one day that King Sigurd wanted to ride from home, but there
was nobody about the house; so he told his stepson Olaf to saddle his
horse. Olaf went to the goats' pen, took out the he-goat that was the
largest, led him forth, and put the king's saddle on him, and then went
in and told King Sigurd he had saddled his riding horse. Now when King
Sigurd came out and saw what Olaf had done, he said "It is easy to see
that thou wilt little regard my orders; and thy mother will think
it right that I order thee to do nothing that is against thy own
inclination. I see well enough that we are of different dispositions,
and that thou art far more proud than I am." Olaf answered little, but
went his way laughing.


When Olaf Haraldson grew up he was not tall, but middle-sized in height,
although very thick, and of good strength. He had light brown hair, and
a broad face, which was white and red. He had particularly fine eyes,
which were beautiful and piercing, so that one was afraid to look him
in the face when he was angry. Olaf was very expert in all bodily
exercises, understood well to handle his bow, and was distinguished
particularly in throwing his spear by hand: he was a great swimmer,
and very handy, and very exact and knowing in all kinds of smithwork,
whether he himself or others made the thing. He was distinct and acute
in conversation, and was soon perfect in understanding and strength. He
was beloved by his friends and acquaintances, eager in his amusements,
and one who always liked to be the first, as it was suitable he should
be from his birth and dignity. He was called Olaf the Great.


Olaf Haraldson was twelve years old when he, for the first time, went
on board a ship of war (A.D. 1007). His mother Asta got Hrane, who was
called the foster-father of kings, to command a ship of war and take
Olaf under his charge; for Hrane had often been on war expeditions.
When Olaf in this way got a ship and men, the crew gave him the title of
king; for it was the custom that those commanders of troops who were of
kingly descent, on going out upon a viking cruise, received the title of
king immediately although they had no land or kingdom. Hrane sat at the
helm; and some say that Olaf himself was but a common rower, although he
was king of the men-at-arms. They steered east along the land, and came
first to Denmark. So says Ottar Svarte, in his lay which he made about
King Olaf:--

     "Young was the king when from his home
     He first began in ships to roam,
     His ocean-steed to ride
     To Denmark o'er the tide.
     Well exercised art thou in truth--
     In manhood's earnest work, brave youth!
     Out from the distant north
     Mighty hast thou come forth."

Towards autumn he sailed eastward to the Swedish dominions, and there
harried and burnt all the country round; for he thought he had good
cause of hostility against the Swedes, as they killed his father Harald.
Ottar Svarte says distinctly that he came from the east, out by way of

     "Thy ship from shore to shore,
     With many a well-plied car,
     Across the Baltic foam is dancing.--
     Shields, and spears, and helms glancing!
     Hoist high the swelling sail
     To catch the freshening gale!
     There's food for the raven-flight
     Where thy sail-winged ship shall light;
          Thy landing-tread
          The people dread;
     And the wolf howls for a feast
     On the shore-side in the east."


The same autumn Olaf had his first battle at Sotasker, which lies in the
Swedish skerry circle. He fought there with some vikings, whose leader
was Sote. Olaf had much fewer men, but his ships were larger, and he
had his ships between some blind rocks, which made it difficult for the
vikings to get alongside; and Olaf's men threw grappling irons into the
ships which came nearest, drew them up to their own vessels, and cleared
them of men. The vikings took to flight after losing many men. Sigvat
the skald tells of this fight in the lay in which he reckons up King
Olaf's battles:--

     "They launch his ship where waves are foaming--
          To the sea shore
          Both mast and oar,
     And sent his o'er the seas a-roaming.
     Where did the sea-king first draw blood?
          In the battle shock
          At Sote's rock;
     The wolves howl over their fresh food."


King Olaf steered thereafter eastwards to Svithjod, and into the Lag
(the Maelar lake), and ravaged the land on both sides. He sailed all
the way up to Sigtuna, and laid his ships close to the old Sigtuna.
The Swedes say the stone-heaps are still to be seen which Olaf had laid
under the ends of the gangways from the shore to the ships. When autumn
was advanced, Olaf Haraldson heard that Olaf the Swedish king was
assembling an army, and also that he had laid iron chains across
Stoksund (the channel between the Maelar lake and the sea), and had laid
troops there; for the Swedish king thought that Olaf Haraldson would
be kept in there till frost came, and he thought little of Olaf's force
knowing he had but few people. Now when King Olaf Haraldson came to
Stoksund he could not get through, as there was a castle west of the
sound, and men-at-arms lay on the south; and he heard that the Swedish
king was come there with a great army and many ships. He therefore dug a
canal across the flat land Agnafit out to the sea. Over all Svithjod all
the running waters fall into the Maelar lake; but the only outlet of it
to the sea is so small that many rivers are wider, and when much rain or
snow falls the water rushes in a great cataract out by Stoksund, and
the lake rises high and floods the land. It fell heavy rain just at
this time; and as the canal was dug out to the sea, the water and stream
rushed into it. Then Olaf had all the rudders unshipped and hoisted all
sail aloft. It was blowing a strong breeze astern, and they steered with
their oars, and the ships came in a rush over all the shallows, and
got into the sea without any damage. Now went the Swedes to their king,
Olaf, and told him that Olaf the Great had slipped out to sea; on which
the king was enraged against those who should have watched that Olaf did
not get away. This passage has since been called King's Sound; but large
vessels cannot pass through it, unless the waters are very high. Some
relate that the Swedes were aware that Olaf had cut across the tongue of
land, and that the water was falling out that way; and they flocked to
it with the intention to hinder Olaf from getting away, but the water
undermined the banks on each side so that they fell in with the people,
and many were drowned: but the Swedes contradict this as a false report,
and deny the loss of people. The king sailed to Gotland in harvest, and
prepared to plunder; but the Gotlanders assembled, and sent men to the
king, offering him a scat. The king found this would suit him, and
he received the scat, and remained there all winter. So says Ottar

     "Thou seaman-prince! thy men are paid:
     The scat on Gotlanders is laid;
          Young man or old
          To our seamen bold
          Must pay, to save his head:
          The Yngling princes fled,
          Eysvssel people bled;
     Who can't defend the wealth they have
     Must die, or share with the rover brave."


It is related here that King Olaf, when spring set in, sailed east to
Eysyssel, and landed and plundered; the Eysyssel men came down to the
strand and grave him battle. King Olaf gained the victory, pursued those
who fled, and laid waste the land with fire and sword. It is told that
when King Olaf first came to Eysvssel they offered him scat, and when
the scat was to be brought down to the strand the king came to meet it
with an armed force, and that was not what the bondes there expected;
for they had brought no scat, but only their weapons with which they
fought against the king, as before related. So says Sigvat the skald:--

     "With much deceit and bustle
     To the heath of Eysyssel
     The bondes brought the king,
     To get scat at their weapon-thing.
     But Olaf was too wise
     To be taken by surprise;
     Their legs scarce bore them off
     O'er the common test enough."


After this they sailed to Finland and plundered there, and went up the
country. All the people fled to the forest, and they had emptied their
houses of all household goods. The king went far up the country, and
through some woods, and came to some dwellings in a valley called
Herdaler,--where, however, they made but small booty, and saw no people;
and as it was getting late in the day, the king turned back to his
ships. Now when they came into the woods again people rushed upon them
from all quarters, and made a severe attack. The king told his men to
cover themselves with their shields, but before they got out of the
woods he lost many people, and many were wounded; but at last, late
in the evening, he got to the ships. The Finlanders conjured up in the
night, by their witchcraft, a dreadful storm and bad weather on the sea;
but the king ordered the anchors to be weighed and sail hoisted, and
beat off all night to the outside of the land. The king's luck prevailed
more than the Finlanders' witchcraft; for he had the luck to beat round
the Balagard's side in the night, and so got out to sea. But the Finnish
army proceeded on land, making the same progress as the king made with
his ships. So says Sigvat:--

     "The third fight was at Herdaler, where
     The men of Finland met in war
     The hero of the royal race,
     With ringing sword-blades face to face.
     Off Balagard's shore the waves
     Ran hollow; but the sea-king saves
     His hard-pressed ship, and gains the lee
     Of the east coast through the wild sea."


King Olaf sailed from thence to Denmark, where he met Thorkel the Tall,
brother of Earl Sigvalde, and went into partnership with him; for he was
just ready to set out on a cruise. They sailed southwards to the Jutland
coast, to a place called Sudervik, where they overcame many viking
ships. The vikings, who usually have many people to command, give
themselves the title of kings, although they have no lands to rule over.
King Olaf went into battle with them, and it was severe; but King Olaf
gained the victory, and a great booty. So says Sigvat:--

     "Hark!  hark!  The war-shout
          Through Sudervik rings,
     And the vikings bring out
          To fight the two kings.
     Great honour, I'm told,
     Won these vikings so bold:
     But their bold fight was vain,
     For the two brave kings gain."


King Olaf sailed from thence south to Friesland, and lay under the
strand of Kinlima in dreadful weather. The king landed with his men; but
the people of the country rode down to the strand against them, and he
fought them. So says Sigvat:--

     "Under Kinlima's cliff,
     This battle is the fifth.
     The brave sea-rovers stand
     All on the glittering sand;
     And down the horsemen ride
     To the edge of the rippling tide:
     But Olaf taught the peasant band
     To know the weight of a viking's hand."


The king sailed from thence westward to England. It was then the case
that the Danish king, Svein Forked Beard, was at that time in England
with a Danish army, and had been fixed there for some time, and had
seized upon King Ethelred's kingdom. The Danes had spread themselves
so widely over England, that it was come so far that King Ethelred
had departed from the country, and had gone south to Valland. The same
autumn that King Olaf came to England, it happened that King Svein died
suddenly in the night in his bed; and it is said by Englishmen that
Edmund the Saint killed him, in the same way that the holy Mercurius
had killed the apostate Julian. When Ethelred, the king of the English,
heard this in Flanders, he returned directly to England; and no sooner
was he come back, than he sent an invitation to all the men who would
enter into his pay, to join him in recovering the country. Then many
people flocked to him; and among others, came King Olaf with a great
troop of Northmen to his aid. They steered first to London, and sailed
into the Thames with their fleet; but the Danes had a castle within. On
the other side of the river is a great trading place, which is called
Sudvirke. There the Danes had raised a great work, dug large ditches,
and within had built a bulwark of stone, timber, and turf, where they
had stationed a strong army. King Ethelred ordered a great assault;
but the Danes defended themselves bravely, and King Ethelred could make
nothing of it. Between the castle and Southwark (Sudvirke) there was a
bridge, so broad that two wagons could pass each other upon it. On the
bridge were raised barricades, both towers and wooden parapets, in the
direction of the river, which were nearly breast high; and under the
bridge were piles driven into the bottom of the river. Now when the
attack was made the troops stood on the bridge everywhere, and defended
themselves. King Ethelred was very anxious to get possession of the
bridge, and he called together all the chiefs to consult how they should
get the bridge broken down. Then said King Olaf he would attempt to lay
his fleet alongside of it, if the other ships would do the same. It was
then determined in this council that they should lay their war forces
under the bridge; and each made himself ready with ships and men.


King Olaf ordered great platforms of floating wood to be tied together
with hazel bands, and for this he took down old houses; and with these,
as a roof, he covered over his ships so widely, that it reached over the
ships' sides. Under this screen he set pillars so high and stout, that
there both was room for swinging their swords, and the roofs were strong
enough to withstand the stones cast down upon them. Now when the fleet
and men were ready, they rode up along the river; but when they came
near the bridge, there were cast down upon them so many stones and
missile weapons, such as arrows and spears, that neither helmet nor
shield could hold out against it; and the ships themselves were so
greatly damaged, that many retreated out of it. But King Olaf, and the
Northmen's fleet with him, rowed quite up under the bridge, laid their
cables around the piles which supported it, and then rowed off with all
the ships as hard as they could down the stream. The piles were thus
shaken in the bottom, and were loosened under the bridge. Now as the
armed troops stood thick of men upon the bridge, and there were likewise
many heaps of stones and other weapons upon it, and the piles under it
being loosened and broken, the bridge gave way; and a great part of the
men upon it fell into the river, and all the ethers fled, some into the
castle, some into Southwark. Thereafter Southwark was stormed and
taken. Now when the people in the castle saw that the river Thames was
mastered, and that they could not hinder the passage of ships up
into the country, they became afraid, surrendered the tower, and took
Ethelred to be their king. So says Ottar Svarte:--

     "London Bridge is broken down.--
     Gold is won, and bright renown.
          Shields resounding,
          War-horns sounding,
     Hild is shouting in the din!
          Arrows singing,
          Mail-coats ringing--
     Odin makes our Olaf win!"

And he also composed these:--

     "King Ethelred has found a friend:
     Brave Olaf will his throne defend--
          In bloody fight
          Maintain his right,
          Win back his land
          With blood-red hand,
     And Edmund's son upon his throne replace--
     Edmund, the star of every royal race!"

Sigvat also relates as follows:--

     "At London Bridge stout Olaf gave
     Odin's law to his war-men brave--
          'To win or die!'
          And their foemen fly.
     Some by the dyke-side refuge gain--
     Some in their tents on Southwark plain!
          The sixth attack
          Brought victory back."


King Olaf passed all the winter with King Ethelred, and had a great
battle at Hringmara Heath in Ulfkel's land, the domain which Ulfkel
Snilling at that time held; and here again the king was victorious. So
says Sigvat the skald:--

     "To Ulfkel's land came Olaf bold,
     A seventh sword-thing he would hold.
     The race of Ella filled the plain--
     Few of them slept at home again!
     Hringmara heath
     Was a bed of death:
     Harfager's heir
     Dealt slaughter there."

And Ottar sings of this battle thus:--

     "From Hringmara field
          The chime of war,
     Sword striking shield,
          Rings from afar.
     The living fly;
     The dead piled high
     The moor enrich;
     Red runs the ditch."

The country far around was then brought in subjection to King Ethelred:
but the Thingmen (1) and the Danes held many castles, besides a great
part of the country.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Thing-men were hired men-at-arms; called Thing-men
     probably from being men above the class of thralls or unfree men,
     and entitled to appear at Things, as being udal-born to land at


King Olaf was commander of all the forces when they went against
Canterbury; and they fought there until they took the town, killing many
people and burning the castle. So says Ottar Svarte:--

     "All in the grey of morn
          Broad Canterbury's forced.
     Black smoke from house-roofs borne
          Hides fire that does its worst;
     And many a man laid low
     By the battle-axe's blow,
     Waked by the Norsemen's cries,
     Scarce had time to rub his eyes."

Sigvat reckons this King Olaf's eighth battle:--

     "Of this eighth battle I can tell
     How it was fought, and what befell,
          The castle tower
          With all his power
          He could not take,
          Nor would forsake.
          The Perthmen fought,
          Nor quarter sought;
          By death or flight
          They left the fight.
     Olaf could not this earl stout
     From Canterbury quite drive out."

At this time King Olaf was entrusted with the whole land defence of
England, and he sailed round the land with his ships of War. He laid his
ships at land at Nyjamoda, where the troops of the Thingmen were, and
gave them battle and gained the victory. So says Sigvat the skald:--

     "The youthful king stained red the hair
     Of Angeln men, and dyed his spear
     At Newport in their hearts' dark blood:
     And where the Danes the thickest stood--
     Where the shrill storm round Olaf's head
     Of spear and arrow thickest fled.
     There thickest lay the Thingmen dead!
     Nine battles now of Olaf bold,
     Battle by battle, I have told."

King Olaf then scoured all over the country, taking scat of the people
and plundering where it was refused. So says Ottar:--

     "The English race could not resist thee,
     With money thou madest them assist thee;
     Unsparingly thou madest them pay
     A scat to thee in every way;
     Money, if money could be got--
     Goods, cattle, household gear, if not.
     Thy gathered spoil, borne to the strand,
     Was the best wealth of English land."

Olaf remained here for three years (A.D. 1010-1012).


The third year King Ethelred died, and his sons Edmund and Edward took
the government (A.D. 1012). Then Olaf sailed southwards out to sea, and
had a battle at Hringsfjord, and took a castle situated at Holar, where
vikings resorted, and burnt the castle. So says Sigvat the skald:--

     "Of the tenth battle now I tell,
     Where it was fought, and what befell.
     Up on the hill in Hringsfjord fair
     A robber nest hung in the air:
     The people followed our brave chief,
     And razed the tower of the viking thief.
     Such rock and tower, such roosting-place,
     Was ne'er since held by the roving race."


Then King Olaf proceeded westwards to Grislupollar, and fought there
with vikings at Williamsby; and there also King Olaf gained the victory.
So says Sigvat:--

     "The eleventh battle now I tell,
     Where it was fought, and what befell.
     At Grislupol our young fir's name
     O'ertopped the forest trees in fame:
     Brave Olaf's name--nought else was heard
     But Olaf's name, and arm, and sword.
     Of three great earls, I have heard say,
     His sword crushed helm and head that day."

Next he fought westward on Fetlafjord, as Sigvat tells:--

     "The twelfth fight was at Fetlafjord,
     Where Olaf's honour-seeking sword
     Gave the wild wolf's devouring teeth
     A feast of warriors doomed to death."

From thence King Olaf sailed southwards to Seljupollar, where he had a
battle. He took there a castle called Gunvaldsborg, which was very large
and old. He also made prisoner the earl who ruled over the castle and
who was called Geirfin. After a conference with the men of the castle,
he laid a scat upon the town and earl, as ransom, of twelve thousand
gold shillings: which was also paid by those on whom it was imposed. So
says Sigvat:--

     "The thirteenth battle now I tell,
     Where it was fought, and what befell.
     In Seljupol was fought the fray,
     And many did not survive the day.
     The king went early to the shore,
     To Gunvaldsborg's old castle-tower;
     And a rich earl was taken there,
     Whose name was Geridin, I am sure."


Thereafter King Olaf steered with his fleet westward to Karlsar, and
tarried there and had a fight. And while King Olaf was lying in Karlsa
river waiting a wind, and intending to sail up to Norvasund, and then on
to the land of Jerusalem, he dreamt a remarkable dream--that there came
to him a great and important man, but of a terrible appearance withal,
who spoke to him, and told him to give up his purpose of proceeding to
that land. "Return back to thy udal, for thou shalt be king over Norway
for ever." He interpreted this dream to mean that he should be king over
the country, and his posterity after him for a long time.


After this appearance to him he turned about, and came to Poitou, where
he plundered and burnt a merchant town called Varrande. Of this Ottar

     "Our young king, blythe and gay,
     Is foremost in the fray:
     Poitou he plunders, Tuskland burns,--
     He fights and wins where'er he turns."

And also Sigvat says:--

     "The Norsemen's king is on his cruise,
          His blue steel staining,
          Rich booty gaining,
     And all men trembling at the news.
     The Norsemen's kings up on the Loire:
          Rich Partheney
          In ashes lay;
     Far inland reached the Norsemen's spear."


King Olaf had been two summers and one winter in the west in Valland on
this cruise; and thirteen years had now passed since the fall of King
Olaf Trygvason. During this time earls had ruled over Norway; first
Hakon's sons Eirik and Svein, and afterwards Eirik's sons Hakon and
Svein. Hakon was a sister's son of King Canute, the son of Svein. During
this time there were two earls in Valland, William and Robert; their
father was Richard earl of Rouen. They ruled over Normandy. Their sister
was Queen Emma, whom the English king Ethelred had married; and their
sons were Edmund, Edward the Good, Edwy, and Edgar. Richard the earl of
Rouen was a son of Richard the son of William Long Spear, who was the
son of Rolf Ganger, the earl who first conquered Normandy; and he again
was a son of Ragnvald the Mighty, earl of More, as before related. From
Rolf Ganger are descended the earls of Rouen, who have long reckoned
themselves of kin to the chiefs in Norway, and hold them in such respect
that they always were the greatest friends of the Northmen; and every
Northman found a friendly country in Normandy, if he required it. To
Normandy King Olaf came in autumn (A.D. 1013), and remained all winter
(A.D. 1014) in the river Seine in good peace and quiet.


After Olaf Trygvason's fall, Earl Eirik gave peace to Einar
Tambaskelfer, the son of Eindride Styrkarson; and Einar went north with
the earl to Norway. It is said that Einar was the strongest man and the
best archer that ever was in Norway. His shooting was sharp beyond all
others; for with a blunt arrow he shot through a raw, soft ox-hide,
hanging over a beam. He was better than any man at running on
snow-shoes, was a great man at all exercises, was of high family, and
rich. The earls Eirik and Svein married their sister Bergliot to Einar.
Their son was named Eindride. The earls gave Einar great fiefs in
Orkadal, so that he was one of the most powerful and able men in the
Throndhjem country, and was also a great friend of the earls, and a
great support and aid to them.


When Olaf Trygvason ruled over Norway, he gave his brother-in-law Erling
half of the land scat, and royal revenues between the Naze and Sogn. His
other sister he married to the Earl Ragnvald Ulfson, who long ruled
over West Gautland. Ragnvald's father, Ulf, was a brother of Sigrid the
Haughty, the mother of Olaf the Swedish king. Earl Eirik was ill pleased
that Erling Skialgson had so large a dominion, and he took to himself
all the king's estates, which King Olaf had given to Erling. But
Erling levied, as before, all the land scat in Rogaland; and thus the
inhabitants had often to pay him the land scat, otherwise he laid waste
their land. The earl made little of the business, for no bailiff of his
could live there, and the earl could only come there in guest-quarters,
when he had a great many people with him. So says Sigvat:--

     "Olaf the king
     Thought the bonde Erling
     A man who would grace
     His own royal race.
     One sister the king
     Gave the bonde Erling;
     And one to an earl,
     And she saved him in peril."

Earl Eirik did not venture to fight with Erling, because he had very
powerful and very many friends, and was himself rich and popular, and
kept always as many retainers about him as if he held a king's court.
Erling was often out in summer on plundering expeditions, and procured
for himself means of living; for he continued his usual way of high and
splendid living, although now he had fewer and less convenient fiefs
than in the time of his brother-in-law King Olaf Trygvason. Erling was
one of the handsomest, largest, and strongest men; a better warrior than
any other; and in all exercises he was like King Olaf himself. He was,
besides, a man of understanding, jealous in everything he undertook, and
a deadly man at arms. Sigvat talks thus of him:--

     "No earl or baron, young or old,
     Match with this bonde brave can hold.
     Mild was brave Erling, all men say,
     When not engaged in bloody fray:
     His courage he kept hid until
     The fight began, then foremost still
     Erling was seen in war's wild game,
     And famous still is Erling's name."

It was a common saying among the people, that Erling had been the most
valiant who ever held lands under a king in Norway. Erlings and Astrid s
children were these--Aslak, Skialg, Sigurd, Lodin, Thorer, and Ragnhild,
who was married to Thorberg Arnason. Erling had always with him ninety
free-born men or more, and both winter and summer it was the custom in
his house to drink at the mid-day meal according to a measure (1), but
at the night meal there was no measure in drinking. When the earl was in
the neighbourhood he had 200 (2) men or more. He never went to sea with
less than a fully-manned ship of twenty benches of rowers. Erling had
also a ship of thirty-two benches of rowers, which was besides, very
large for that size, and which he used in viking cruises, or on an
expedition; and in it there were 200 men at the very least.

   ENDNOTES: (1) There were silver-studs in a row from the rim to the
     bottom of the drinking born or cup; and as it went round each drank
     till the stud appeared above the liquor.  This was drinking
     by measure.--L.
(2) I.e., 240.


Erling had always at home on his farm thirty slaves, besides other
serving-people. He gave his slaves a certain day's work; but after it he
gave them leisure, and leave that each should work in the twilight and
at night for himself, and as he pleased. He gave them arable land to sow
corn in, and let them apply their crops to their own use. He laid upon
each a certain quantity of labour to work themselves free by doing it;
and there were many who bought their freedom in this way in one year, or
in the second year, and all who had any luck could make themselves free
within three years. With this money he bought other slaves: and to some
of his freed people he showed how to work in the herring-fishery, to
others he showed some useful handicraft; and some cleared his outfields
and set up houses. He helped all to prosperity.


When Earl Eirik had ruled over Norway for twelve years, there came a
message to him from his brother-in-law King Canute, the Danish king,
that he should go with him on an expedition westward to England; for
Eirik was very celebrated for his campaigns, as he had gained the
victory in the two hardest engagements which had ever been fought in
the north countries. The one was that in which the Earls Hakon and Eirik
fought with the Jomsborg vikings; the other that in which Earl Eirik
fought with King Olaf Trygvason. Thord Kolbeinson speaks of this:--

     "A song of praise
     Again I raise.
     To the earl bold
     The word is told,
     That Knut the Brave
     His aid would crave;
     The earl, I knew,
     To friend stands true."

The earl would not sleep upon the message of the king, but sailed
immediately out of the country, leaving behind his son Earl Hakon to
take care of Norway; and, as he was but seventeen years of age, Einar
Tambaskelfer was to be at his hand to rule the country for him.

Eirik met King Canute in England, and was with him when he took the
castle of London. Earl Eirik had a battle also to the westward of
the castle of London, and killed Ulfkel Snilling. So says Thord

     "West of London town we passed,
     And our ocean-steeds made fast,
     And a bloody fight begin,
     England's lands to lose or win.
     Blue sword and shining spear
     Laid Ulfkel's dead corpse there,
     Our Thingmen hear the war-shower sounding
     Our grey arrows from their shields rebounding."

Earl Eirik was a winter in England, and had many battles there. The
following autumn he intended to make a pilgrimage to Rome, but he died
in England of a bloody flux.


King Canute came to England the summer that King Ethelred died, and had
many battles with Ethelred's sons, in which the victory was sometimes
on one side, sometimes on the other. Then King Canute took Queen Emma in
marriage; and their children were Harald, Hardacanute, and Gunhild. King
Canute then made an agreement with King Edmund, that each of them should
have a half of England. In the same month Henry Strion murdered King
Edmund. King Canute then drove all Ethelred's sons out of England. So
says Sigvat:--

     "Now all the sons of Ethelred
     Were either fallen, or had fled:
     Some slain by Canute,--some they say,
     To save their lives had run away."


King Ethelred's sons came to Rouen in Valland from England, to their
mother's brother, the same summer that King Olaf Haraldson came from
the west from his viking cruise, and they were all during the winter in
Normandy together. They made an agreement with each other that King Olaf
should have Northumberland, if they could succeed in taking England from
the Danes. Therefore about harvest, Olaf sent his foster-father Hrane to
England to collect men-at-arms; and Ethelred's sons sent tokens to their
friends and relations with him. King Olaf, besides, gave him much money
with him to attract people to them. Hrane was all winter in England, and
got promises from many powerful men of fidelity, as the people of the
country would rather have native kings over them; but the Danish power
had become so great in England, that all the people were brought under
their dominion.


In spring (A.D. 1014) King Olaf and King Ethelred's sons set out
together to the west, and came to a place in England called Jungufurda,
where they landed with their army and moved forward against the castle.
Many men were there who had promised them their aid. They took the
castle; and killed many people. Now when King Canute's men heard of this
they assembled an army, and were soon in such force that Ethelred's sons
could not stand against it; and they saw no other way left but to return
to Rouen. Then King Olaf separated from them, and would not go back
to Valland, but sailed northwards along England, all the way to
Northumberland, where he put into a haven at a place called Valde;
and in a battle there with the townspeople and merchants he gained the
victory, and a great booty.


King Olaf left his long-ships there behind, but made ready two ships of
burden; and had with him 220 men in them, well-armed, and chosen people.
He sailed out to sea northwards in harvest, but encountered a tremendous
storm and they were in danger of being lost; but as they had a chosen
crew, and the king s luck with them, all went on well. So says Ottar:--

     "Olaf, great stem of kings, is brave--
     Bold in the fight, bold on the wave.
          No thought of fear
          Thy heart comes near.
     Undaunted, 'midst the roaring flood,
     Firm at his post each shipman stood;
          And thy two ships stout
          The gale stood out."

And further he says:--

     "Thou able chief!  with thy fearless crew
     Thou meetest, with skill and courage true,
          The wild sea's wrath
          On thy ocean path.
     Though waves mast-high were breaking round.
     Thou findest the middle of Norway's ground,
          With helm in hand
          On Saela's strand."

It is related here that King Olaf came from the sea to the very middle
of Norway; and the isle is called Saela where they landed, and is
outside of Stad. King Olaf said he thought it must be a lucky day for
them, since they had landed at Saela in Norway; and observed it was a
good omen that it so happened. As they were going up in the isle,
the king slipped with one foot in a place where there was clay, but
supported himself with the other foot. Then said he "The king falls."
"Nay," replies Hrane, "thou didst not fall, king, but set fast foot
in the soil." The king laughed thereat, and said, "It may be so if God
will." They went down again thereafter to their ships, and sailed to
Ulfasund, where they heard that Earl Hakon was south in Sogn, and was
expected north as soon as wind allowed with a single ship.


King Olaf steered his ships within the ordinary ships' course when he
came abreast of Fjaler district, and ran into Saudungssund. There he
laid his two vessels one on each side of the sound with a thick cable
between them. At the same moment Hakon, Earl Eirik's son, came rowing
into the sound with a manned ship; and as they thought these were but
two merchant-vessels that were lying in the sound, they rowed between
them. Then Olaf and his men draw the cable up right under Hakon's ship's
keel and wind it up with the capstan. As soon as the vessel's course was
stopped her stern was lifted up, and her bow plunged down; so that the
water came in at her fore-end and over both sides, and she upset. King
Olaf's people took Earl Hakon and all his men whom they could get hold
of out of the water, and made them prisoners; but some they killed with
stones and other weapons, and some were drowned. So says Ottar:--

     "The black ravens wade
     In the blood from thy blade.
     Young Hakon so gay,
     With his ship, is thy prey:
     His ship, with its gear,
     Thou hast ta'en; and art here,
     Thy forefather's land
     From the earl to demand."

Earl Hakon was led up to the king's ship. He was the handsomest man that
could be seen. He had long hair, as fine as silk, bound about his bead
with a gold ornament.

When he sat down in the fore-hold, the king said to him, "It is not
false what is said of your family, that ye are handsome people to look
at; but now your luck has deserted you."

Hakon the earl replied, "It has always been the case that success is
changeable; and there is no luck in the matter. It has gone with your
family as with mine, to have by turns the better lot. I am little
beyond childhood in years; and at any rate we could not have defended
ourselves, as we did not expect any attack on the way. It may turn out
better with us another time."

Then said King Olaf, "Dost thou not apprehend that thou art in that
condition that, hereafter, there can be neither victory nor defeat for

The earl replies, "That is what thou only canst determine, king,
according to thy pleasure."

Olaf says, "What wilt thou give me, earl, if for this time I let thee
go, whole and unhurt?"

The earl asks what he would take.

"Nothing," says the king, "except that thou shalt leave the country,
give up thy kingdom, and take an oath that thou shalt never go into
battle against me."

The earl answered, that he would do so. And now Earl Hakon took the oath
that he would never fight against Olaf, or seek to defend Norway against
him, or attack him; and King Olaf thereupon gave him and all his men
life and peace. The earl got back the ship which had brought him there,
and he and his men rowed their way. Thus says Sigvat of him:--

     "In old Saudungs sound
     The king Earl Hakon found,
     Who little thought that there
     A foeman was so near.
     The best and fairest youth
     Earl Hakon was in truth,
     That speaks the Danish tongue,
     And of the race of great Hakon."


After this (A.D. 1014) the earl made ready as fast as possible to leave
the country and sail over to England. He met King Canute, his mother's
brother, there, and told him all that had taken place between him and
King Olaf. King Canute received him remarkably well, placed him in his
court in his own house, and gave him great power in his kingdom. Earl
Hakon dwelt a long time with King Canute. During the time Svein and
Hakon ruled over Norway, a reconciliation with Erling Skialgson was
effected, and secured by Aslak, Erling's son, marrying Gunhild, Earl
Svein's daughter; and the father and son, Erling and Aslak, retained
all the fiefs which King Olaf Trygvason had given to Erling. Thus Erling
became a firm friend of the earl's, and their mutual friendship was
confirmed by oath.


King Olaf went now eastward along the land, holding Things with the
bondes all over the country. Many went willingly with him; but some,
who were Earl Svein's friends or relations, spoke against him. Therefore
King Olaf sailed in all haste eastward to Viken; went in there with his
ships; set them on the land; and proceeded up the country, in order
to meet his stepfather, Sigurd Syr. When he came to Vestfold he was
received in a friendly way by many who had been his father's friends or
acquaintances; and also there and in Folden were many of his family. In
autumn (A.D. 1014) he proceeded up the country to his stepfather King
Sigurd's, and came there one day very early. As Olaf was coming near to
the house, some of the servants ran beforehand to the house, and into
the room. Olaf's mother, Asta, was sitting in the room, and around her
some of her girls. When the servants told her of King Olaf's approach,
and that he might soon be expected, Asta stood up directly, and ordered
the men and girls to put everything in the best order. She ordered four
girls to bring out all that belonged to the decoration of the room and
put it in order with hangings and benches. Two fellows brought straw
for the floor, two brought forward four-cornered tables and the
drinking-jugs, two bore out victuals and placed the meat on the table,
two she sent away from the house to procure in the greatest haste all
that was needed, and two carried in the ale; and all the other serving
men and girls went outside of the house. Messengers went to seek King
Sigurd wherever he might be, and brought to him his dress-clothes, and
his horse with gilt saddle, and his bridle, which was gilt and set
with precious stones. Four men she sent off to the four quarters of the
country to invite all the great people to a feast, which she prepared as
a rejoicing for her son's return. All who were before in the house she
made to dress themselves with the best they had, and lent clothes to
those who had none suitable.


King Sigurd Syr was standing in his corn-field when the messengers came
to him and brought him the news, and also told him all that Asta was
doing at home in the house. He had many people on his farm. Some
were then shearing corn, some bound it together, some drove it to the
building, some unloaded it and put it in stack or barn; but the king,
and two men with him, went sometimes into the field, sometimes to the
place where the corn was put into the barn. His dress, it is told, was
this:--he had a blue kirtle and blue breeches; shoes which were laced
about the legs; a grey cloak, and a grey wide-brimmed hat; a veil before
his face; a staff in his hand with a gilt-silver head on it and a silver
ring around it. Of Sigurd's living and disposition it is related that
he was a very gain-making man who attended carefully to his cattle and
husbandry, and managed his housekeeping himself. He was nowise given
to pomp, and was rather taciturn. But he was a man of the best
understanding in Norway, and also excessively wealthy in movable
property. Peaceful he was, and nowise haughty. His wife Asta was
generous and high-minded. Their children were, Guthorm, the eldest; then
Gunhild; the next Halfdan, Ingerid, and Harald. The messengers said to
Sigurd, "Asta told us to bring thee word how much it lay at her heart
that thou shouldst on this occasion comport thyself in the fashion of
great men, and show a disposition more akin to Harald Harfager's race
than to thy mother's father's, Hrane Thin-nose, or Earl Nereid the Old,
although they too were very wise men." The king replies, "The news ye
bring me is weighty, and ye bring it forward in great heat. Already
before now Asta has been taken up much with people who were not so near
to her; and I see she is still of the same disposition. She takes this
up with great warmth; but can she lead her son out of the business with
the same splendour she is leading him into it? If it is to proceed so
methinks they who mix themselves up in it regard little property or
life. For this man, King Olaf, goes against a great superiority of
power; and the wrath of the Danish and Swedish kings lies at the foot of
his determination, if he ventures to go against them."


When the king had said this he sat down, and made them take off his
shoes, and put corduvan boots on, to which he bound his gold spurs.
Then he put off his cloak and coat, and dressed himself in his finest
clothes, with a scarlet cloak over all; girded on his sword, set
a gilded helmet upon his head, and mounted his horse. He sent his
labouring people out to the neighbourhood, and gathered to him thirty
well-clothed men, and rode home with them. As they rode up to the house,
and were near the room, they saw on the other side of the house the
banners of Olaf coming waving; and there was he himself, with about
100 men all well equipped. People were gathered over all upon the
house-tops. King Sigurd immediately saluted his stepson from horseback
in a friendly way, and invited him and his men to come in and drink a
cup with him. Asta, on the contrary, went up and kissed her son, and
invited him to stay with her; and land, and people, and all the good she
could do for him stood at his service. King Olaf thanked her kindly for
her invitation. Then she took him by the hand, and led him into the room
to the high-seat. King Sigurd got men to take charge of their clothes,
and give their horses corn; and then he himself went to his high-seat,
and the feast was made with the greatest splendour.


King Olaf had not been long here before he one day called his stepfather
King Sigurd, his mother Asta, and his foster-father Hrane to a
conference and consultation. Olaf began thus: "It has so happened," said
he, "as is well known to you, that I have returned to this country after
a very long sojourn in foreign parts, during all which time I and my men
have had nothing for our support but what we captured in war, for which
we have often hazarded both life and soul: for many an innocent man have
we deprived of his property, and some of their lives; and foreigners are
now sitting in the possessions which my father, his father, and their
forefathers for a long series of generations owned, and to which I have
udal right. They have not been content with this, but have taken to
themselves also the properties of all our relations who are descended
from Harald Harfager. To some they have left little, to others nothing
at all. Now I will disclose to you what I have long concealed in my own
mind, that I intend to take the heritage of my forefathers; but I will
not wait upon the Danish or Swedish king to supplicate the least thing
from them, although they for the time call that their property which was
Harald Harfager's heritage. To say the truth, I intend rather to seek
my patrimony with battle-axe and sword, and that with the help of all
my friends and relations, and of those who in this business will take my
side. And in this matter I will so lay hand to the work that one of two
things shall happen,--either I shall lay all this kingdom under my rule
which they got into their hands by the slaughter of my kinsman Olaf
Trygvason, or I shall fall here upon my inheritance in the land of my
fathers. Now I expect of thee, Sigurd, my stepfather, as well as
other men here in the country who have udal right of succession to the
kingdom, according to the law made by King Harald Harfager, that nothing
shall be of such importance to you as to prevent you from throwing off
the disgrace from our family of being slow at supporting the man who
comes forward to raise up again our race. But whether ye show any
manhood in this affair or not, I know the inclination of the people
well,--that all want to be free from the slavery of foreign masters,
and will give aid and strength to the attempt. I have not proposed
this matter to any before thee, because I know thou art a man of
understanding, and can best judge how this my purpose shall be brought
forward in the beginning, and whether we shall, in all quietness, talk
about it to a few persons, or instantly declare it to the people at
large. I have already shown my teeth by taking prisoner the Earl Hakon,
who has now left the country, and given me, under oath, the part of the
kingdom which he had before; and I think it will be easier to have
Earl Svein alone to deal with, than if both were defending the country
against us."

King Sigurd answers, "It is no small affair, King Olaf, thou hast in thy
mind; and thy purpose comes more, methinks, from hasty pride than from
prudence. But it may be there is a wide difference between my humble
ways and the high thoughts thou hast; for whilst yet in thy childhood
thou wast full always of ambition and desire of command, and now thou
art experienced in battles, and hast formed thyself upon the manner of
foreign chiefs. I know therefore well, that as thou hast taken this into
thy head, it is useless to dissuade thee from it; and also it is not
to be denied that it goes to the heart of all who have courage in them,
that the whole Harfager race and kingdom should go to the ground. But
I will not bind myself by any promise, before I know the views and
intentions of other Upland kings; but thou hast done well in letting
me know thy purpose, before declaring it publicly to the people. I will
promise thee, however, my interest with the kings, and other chiefs, and
country people; and also, King Olaf, all my property stands to thy
aid, and to strengthen thee. But we will only produce the matter to the
community so soon as we see some progress, and expect some strength to
this undertaking; for thou canst easily perceive that it is a daring
measure to enter into strife with Olaf the Swedish king, and Canute, who
is king both of Denmark and England; and thou requirest great support
under thee, if it is to succeed. It is not unlikely, in my opinion, that
thou wilt get good support from the people, as the commonalty always
loves what is new; and it went so before, when Olaf Trygvason came here
to the country, that all rejoiced at it, although he did not long enjoy
the kingdom."

When the consultation had proceeded so far, Asta took up the word. "For
my part, my son, I am rejoiced at thy arrival, but much more at thy
advancing thy honour. I will spare nothing for that purpose that stands
in my power, although it be but little help that can be expected from
me. But if a choice could be made, I would rather that thou shouldst be
the supreme king of Norway, even if thou shouldst not sit longer in
thy kingdom than Olaf Trygvason did, than that thou shouldst not be a
greater king than Sigurd Syr is, and die the death of old age." With
this the conference closed. King Olaf remained here a while with all his
men. King Sigurd entertained them, day about, the one day with fish and
milk, the other day with flesh-meat and ale.


At that time there were many kings in the Uplands who had districts to
rule over, and the most of them were descended from Harald Harfager. In
Hedemark two brothers ruled--Hrorek and Ring; in Gudbrandsdal, Gudrod;
and there was also a king in Raumarike; and one had Hadaland and Thoten;
and in Valders also there was a king. With these district-kings Sigurd
had a meeting up in Hadaland, and Olaf Haraldson also met with them. To
these district-kings whom Sigurd had assembled he set forth his stepson
Olaf's purpose, and asked their aid, both of men and in counsel and
consent; and represented to them how necessary it was to cast off the
yoke which the Danes and Swedes had laid upon them. He said that there
was now a man before them who could head such an enterprise; and he
recounted the many brave actions which Olaf had achieved upon his

Then King Hrorek says, "True it is that Harald Harfager's kingdom has
gone to decay, none of his race being supreme king over Norway. But
the people here in the country have experienced many things. When King
Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, was king, all were content; but when
Gunhild's sons ruled over the country, all were so weary of their
tyranny and injustice that they would rather have foreign men as kings,
and be themselves more their own rulers; for the foreign kings were
usually abroad and cared little about the customs of the people if the
scat they laid on the country was paid. When enmity arose between
the Danish king Harald and Earl Hakon, the Jomsborg vikings made an
expedition against Norway; then the whole people arose, and threw the
hostilities from themselves; and thereafter the people encouraged Earl
Hakon to keep the country, and defend it with sword and spear against
the Danish king. But when he had set himself fast in the kingdom with
the help of the people, he became so hard and overbearing towards the
country-folks, that they would no longer suffer him. The Throndhjem
people killed him, and raised to the kingly power Olaf Trygvason, who
was of the udal succession to the kingdom, and in all respects well
fitted to be a chief. The whole country's desire was to make him supreme
king, and raise again the kingdom which Harald Harfager had made for
himself. But when King Olaf thought himself quite firmly seated in his
kingdom, no man could rule his own concerns for him. With us small kings
he was so unreasonable, as to take to himself not only all the scat and
duties which Harald Harfager had levied from us, but a great deal more.
The people at last had so little freedom under him, that it was not
allowed to every man to believe in what god he pleased. Now since he
has been taken away we have kept friendly with the Danish king; have
received great help from him when we have had any occasion for it; and
have been allowed to rule ourselves, and live in peace and quiet in the
inland country, and without any overburden. I am therefore content that
things be as they are, for I do not see what better rights I am to enjoy
by one of my relations ruling over the country; and if I am to be no
better off, I will take no part in the affair."

Then said King Ring, his brother, "I will also declare my opinion that
it is better for me, if I hold the same power and property as now, that
my relative is king over Norway, rather than a foreign chief, so that
our family may again raise its head in the land. It is, besides, my
opinion about this man Olaf, that his fate and luck must determine
whether he is to obtain the kingdom or not; and if he succeed in making
himself supreme king, then he will be the best off who has best deserved
his friendship. At present he has in no respect greater power than any
of us; nay, indeed, he has less; as we have lands and kingdoms to rule
over, and he has nothing, and we are equally entitled by the udal right
to the kingdom as he is himself. Now, if we will be his men, give him
our aid, allow him to take the highest dignity in the country, and stand
by him with our strength, how should he not reward us well, and hold
it in remembrance to our great advantage, if he be the honourable man
I believe him to be, and all say he is? Therefore let us join the
adventure, say I, and bind ourselves in friendship with him."

Then the others, one after the other, stood up and spoke; and the
conclusion was, that the most of them determined to enter into a league
with King Olaf. He promised them his perfect friendship, and that he
would hold by and improve the country's laws and rights, if he became
supreme king of Norway. This league was confirmed by oath.


Thereafter the kings summoned a Thing, and there King Olaf set forth
this determination to all the people, and his demand on the kingly
power. He desires that the bondes should receive him as king; and
promises, on the other hand, to allow them to retain their ancient laws,
and to defend the land from foreign masters and chiefs. On this point he
spoke well, and long; and he got great praise for his speech. Then the
kings rose and spoke, the one after the other, and supported his cause,
and this message to the people. At last it came to this, that King Olaf
was proclaimed king over the whole country, and the kingdom adjudged to
him according to law in the Uplands (A.D. 1014).


King Olaf began immediately his progress through the country, appointing
feasts before him wherever there were royal farms. First he travelled
round in Hadaland, and then he proceeded north to Gudbrandsdal. And now
it went as King Sigurd Syr had foretold, that people streamed to him
from all quarters; and he did not appear to have need for half of them,
for he had nearly 300 men. But the entertainments bespoken did not
half serve; for it had been the custom that kings went about in
guest-quarters in the Uplands with 60 or 70 men only, and never with
more than 100 men. The king therefore hastened over the country, only
stopping one night at the same place. When he came north to Dovrefield,
he arranged his journey so that he came over the mountain and down upon
the north side of it, and then came to Opdal, where he remained all
night. Afterwards he proceeded through Opdal forest, and came out at
Medaldal, where he proclaimed a Thing, and summoned the bondes to meet
him at it. The king made a speech to the Thing, and asked the bondes to
accept him as king; and promised, on his part, the laws and rights which
King Olaf Trygvason had offered them. The bondes had no strength to
make opposition to the king; so the result was that they received him as
king, and confirmed it by oath: but they sent word to Orkadal and Skaun
of all that they knew concerning Olaf's proceedings.


Einar Tambaskelfer had a farm and house at Husaby in Skaun; and now when
he got news of Olaf's proceedings, he immediately split up a war-arrow,
and sent it out as a token to the four quarters--north, south, east,
west,--to call together all free and unfree men in full equipment of
war: therewith the message, that they were to defend the land against
King Olaf. The message-stick went to Orkadal, and thence to Gaulardal,
where the whole war-force was to assemble.


King Olaf proceeded with his men down into Orkadal, and advanced in
peace and with all gentleness; but when he came to Griotar he met the
assembled bondes, amounting to more than 700 men. Then the king arrayed
his army, for he thought the bondes were to give battle. When the bondes
saw this, they also began to put their men in order; but it went on
very slowly, for they had not agreed beforehand who among them should be
commander. Now when King Olaf saw there was confusion among the bondes,
he sent to them Thorer Gudbrandson; and when he came he told them King
Olaf did not want to fight them, but named twelve of the ablest men in
their flock of people, who were desired to come to King Olaf. The bondes
agreed to this; and the twelve men went over a rising ground which is
there, and came to the place where the king's army stood in array. The
king said to them, "Ye bondes have done well to give me an opportunity
to speak with you, for now I will explain to you my errand here to the
Throndhjem country. First I must tell you, what ye already must have
heard, that Earl Hakon and I met in summer; and the issue of our meeting
was, that he gave me the whole kingdom he possessed in the Throndhjem
country, which, as ye know, consists of Orkadal, Gaulardal, Strind, and
Eyna district. As a proof of this, I have here with me the very men who
were present, and saw the earl's and my own hands given upon it, and
heard the word and oath, and witnessed the agreement the earl made
with me. Now I offer you peace and law, the same as King Olaf Trygvason
offered before me."

The king spoke well, and long; and ended by proposing to the bondes two
conditions--either to go into his service and be subject to him, or to
fight him. Thereupon the twelve bondes went back to their people, and
told the issue of their errand, and considered with the people what they
should resolve upon. Although they discussed the matter backwards and
forwards for a while, they preferred at last to submit to the king; and
it was confirmed by the oath of the bondes. The king now proceeded on
his journey, and the bondes made feasts for him. The king then proceeded
to the sea-coast, and got ships; and among others he got a long-ship of
twenty benches of rowers from Gunnar of Gelmin; another ship of twenty
benches he got from Loden of Viggia; and three ships of twenty benches
from the farm of Angrar on the ness which farm Earl Hakon had possessed,
but a steward managed it for him, by name Bard White. The king had,
besides, four or five boats; and with these vessels he went in all haste
into the fjord of Throndhjem.


Earl Svein was at that time far up in the Throndhjem fjord at Steinker,
which at that time was a merchant town, and was there preparing for
the yule festival (A.D. 1015). When Einar Tambaskelfer heard that the
Orkadal people had submitted to King Olaf, he sent men to Earl Svein
to bring him the tidings. They went first to Nidaros, and took a
rowing-boat which belonged to Einar, with which they went out into the
fjord, and came one day late in the evening to Steinker, where they
brought to the earl the news about all King Olaf's proceedings. The earl
owned a long-ship, which was lying afloat and rigged just outside the
town: and immediately, in the evening, he ordered all his movable goods,
his people's clothes, and also meat and drink, as much as the
vessel could carry, to be put on board, rowed immediately out in the
night-time, and came with daybreak to Skarnsund. There he saw King Olaf
rowing in with his fleet into the fjord. The earl turned towards the
land within Masarvik, where there was a thick wood, and lay so near the
rocks that the leaves and branches hung over the vessel. They cut down
some large trees, which they laid over the quarter on the sea-side,
so that the ship could not be seen for leaves, especially as it was
scarcely clear daylight when the king came rowing past them. The weather
was calm, and the king rowed in among the islands; and when the king's
fleet was out of sight the earl rowed out of the fjord, and on to
Frosta, where his kingdom lay, and there he landed.


Earl Svein sent men out to Gaulardal to his brother-in-law, Einar
Tambaskelfer; and when Einar came the earl told him how it had been with
him and King Olaf, and that now he would assemble men to go out against
King Olaf, and fight him.

Einar answers, "We should go to work cautiously, and find out what King
Olaf intends doing; and not let him hear anything concerning us but
that we are quiet. It may happen that if he hears nothing about our
assembling people, he may sit quietly where he is in Steinker all the
Yule; for there is plenty prepared for him for the Yule feast: but if he
hears we are assembling men, he will set right out of the fjord with his
vessels, and we shall not get hold of him." Einar's advice was taken;
and the earl went to Stjoradal, into guest-quarters among the bondes.

When King Olaf came to Steinker he collected all the meat prepared for
the Yule feast, and made it be put on board, procured some transport
vessels, took meat and drink with him, and got ready to sail as fast as
possible, and went out all the way to Nidaros. Here King Olaf Trygvason
had laid the foundation of a merchant town, and had built a king's
house: but before that Nidaros was only a single house, as before
related. When Earl Eirik came to the country, he applied all his
attention to his house of Lade, where his father had had his main
residence, and he neglected the houses which Olaf had erected at the
Nid; so that some were fallen down, and those which stood were scarcely
habitable. King Olaf went now with his ships up the Nid, made all the
houses to be put in order directly that were still standing, and built
anew those that had fallen down, and employed in this work a great
many people. Then he had all the meat and drink brought on shore to the
houses, and prepared to hold Yule there; so Earl Svein and Einar had to
fall upon some other plan.


There was an Iceland man called Thord Sigvaldaskald, who had been long
with Earl Sigvalde, and afterwards with the earl's brother, Thorkel the
Tall; but after the earl's death Thord had become a merchant. He
met King Olaf on his viking cruise in the west, and entered into his
service, and followed him afterwards. He was with the king when the
incidents above related took place. Thord had a son called Sigvat
fostered in the house of Thorkel at Apavatn, in Iceland. When he was
nearly a grown man he went out of the country with some merchants; and
the ship came in autumn to the Throndhjem country, and the crew lodged
in the hered (district). The same winter King Olaf came to Throndhjem,
as just now related by us. Now when Sigvat heard that his father Thord
was with the king, he went to him, and stayed a while with him. Sigvat
was a good skald at an early age. He made a lay in honour of King Olaf,
and asked the king to listen to it. The king said he did not want poems
composed about him, and said he did not understand the skald's craft.
Then Sigvat sang:--

     "Rider of dark-blue ocean's steeds!
     Allow one skald to sing thy deeds;
     And listen to the song of one
     Who can sing well, if any can.
     For should the king despise all others,
     And show no favour to my brothers,
     Yet I may all men's favour claim,
     Who sing, still of our great king's fame."

King Olaf gave Sigvat as a reward for his verse a gold ring that weighed
half a mark, and Sigvat was made one of King Olaf's court-men. Then
Sigvat sang:--

     "I willingly receive this sword--
     By land or sea, on shore, on board,
     I trust that I shall ever be
     Worthy the sword received from thee.
     A faithful follower thou hast bound--
     A generous master I have found;
     Master and servant both have made
     Just what best suits them by this trade."

Earl Svein had, according to custom, taken one half of the harbour-dues
from the Iceland ship-traders about autumn (A.D. 1014); for the Earls
Eirik and Hakon had always taken one half of these and all other
revenues in the Throndhjem country. Now when King Olaf came there, he
sent his men to demand that half of the tax from the Iceland traders;
and they went up to the king's house and asked Sigvat to help them. He
went to the king, and sang:--

     "My prayer, I trust, will not be vain--
     No gold by it have I to gain:
     All that the king himself here wins
     Is not red gold, but a few skins.
     it is not right that these poor men
     Their harbour-dues should pay again.
     That they paid once I know is true;
     Remit, great king, what scarce is due."


Earl Svein and Einar Tambaskelfer gathered a large armed force, with
which they came by the upper road into Gaulardal, and so down to
Nidaros, with nearly 2000 men. King Olaf's men were out upon the Gaular
ridge, and had a guard on horseback. They became aware that a force was
coming down the Gaulardal, and they brought word of it to the king about
midnight. The king got up immediately, ordered the people to be wakened,
and they went on board of the ships, bearing all their clothes and arms
on board, and all that they could take with them, and then rowed out of
the river. Then came the earl's men to the town at the same moment, took
all the Christmas provision, and set fire to the houses. King Olaf went
out of the fjord down to Orkadal, and there landed the men from
their ships. From Orkadal they went up to the mountains, and over the
mountains eastwards into Gudbrandsdal. In the lines composed about Kleng
Brusason, it is said that Earl Eirik burned the town of Nidaros:--

     "The king's half-finished hall,
     Rafters, root, and all,
     Is burned down by the river's side;
     The flame spreads o'er the city wide."


King Olaf went southwards through Gudbrandsdal, and thence out
to Hedemark. In the depth of winter (A.D. 1015) he went about in
guest-quarters; but when spring returned he collected men, and went to
Viken. He had with him many people from Hedemark, whom the kings had
given him; and also many powerful people from among the bondes joined
him, among whom Ketil Kalf from Ringanes. He had also people from
Raumarike. His stepfather, Sigurd Syr, gave him the help also of a great
body of men. They went down from thence to the coast, and made ready
to put to sea from Viken. The fleet, which was manned with many fine
fellows, went out then to Tunsberg.


After Yule (A.D. 1015) Earl Svein gathers all the men of the Throndhjem
country, proclaims a levy for an expedition, and fits out ships. At that
time there were in the Throndhjem country a great number of lendermen;
and many of them were so powerful and well-born, that they descended
from earls, or even from the royal race, which in a short course of
generations reckoned to Harald Harfager, and they were also very rich.
These lendermen were of great help to the kings or earls who ruled
the land; for it was as if the lenderman had the bonde-people of each
district in his power. Earl Svein being a good friend of the lendermen,
it was easy for him to collect people. His brother-in-law, Einar
Tambaskelfer, was on his side, and with him many other lendermen; and
among them many, both lendermen and bondes, who the winter before had
taken the oath of fidelity to King Olaf. When they were ready for sea
they went directly out of the fjord, steering south along the land, and
drawing men from every district. When they came farther south, abreast
of Rogaland, Erling Skialgson came to meet them, with many people and
many lendermen with him. Now they steered eastward with their whole
fleet to Viken, and Earl Svein ran in there towards the end of Easter.
The earl steered his fleet to Grenmar, and ran into Nesjar (A.D. 1015).


King Olaf steered his fleet out from Viken, until the two fleets were
not far from each other, and they got news of each other the Saturday
before Palm Sunday. King Olaf himself had a ship called the Carl's Head,
on the bow of which a king's head was carved out, and he himself had
carved it. This head was used long after in Norway on ships which kings
steered themselves.


As soon as day dawned on Sunday morning, King Olaf got up, put on his
clothes, went to the land, and ordered to sound the signal for the whole
army to come on shore. Then he made a speech to the troops, and told the
whole assembly that he had heard there was but a short distance between
them and Earl Svein. "Now," said he, "we shall make ready; for it can be
but a short time until we meet. Let the people arm, and every man be at
the post that has been appointed him, so that all may be ready when I
order the signal to sound for casting off from the land. Then let us row
off at once; and so that none go on before the rest of the ships, and
none lag behind when I row out of the harbour: for we cannot tell if we
shall find the earl where he was lying, or if he has come out to meet
us. When we do meet, and the battle begins, let people be alert to bring
all our ships in close order, and ready to bind them together. Let us
spare ourselves in the beginning, and take care of our weapons, that
we do not cast them into the sea, or shoot them away in the air to
no purpose. But when the fight becomes hot and the ships are bound
together, then let each man show what is in him of manly spirit."


King Olaf had in his ship 100 men armed in coats of ring-mail, and in
foreign helmets. The most of his men had white shields, on which the
holy cross was gilt; but some had painted it in blue or red. He had also
had the cross painted in front on all the helmets, in a pale colour. He
had a white banner on which was a serpent figured. He ordered a mass
to be read before him, went on board ship, and ordered his people to
refresh themselves with meat and drink. He then ordered the war-horns to
sound to battle, to leave the harbour, and row off to seek the earl. Now
when they came to the harbour where the earl had lain, the earl's men
were armed, and beginning to row out of the harbour; but when they saw
the king's fleet coming they began to bind the ships together, to set up
their banners, and to make ready for the fight. When King Olaf saw this
he hastened the rowing, laid his ship alongside the earl's, and the
battle began. So says Sigvat the skald:--

     "Boldly the king did then pursue
     Earl Svein, nor let him out of view.
     The blood ran down the reindeer's flank
     Of each sea-king--his vessel's plank.
     Nor did the earl's stout warriors spare
     In battle-brunt the sword and spear.
     Earl Svein his ships of war pushed on,
     And lashed their stout stems one to one."

It is said that King Olaf brought his ships into battle while Svein was
still lying in the harbour. Sigvat the skald was himself in the fight;
and in summer, just after the battle, he composed a lay, which is called
the "Nesjar Song", in which he tells particularly the circumstances:--

     "In the fierce fight 'tis known how near
     The scorner of the ice-cold spear
     Laid the Charles' head the earl on board,
     All eastward of the Agder fjord."

Then was the conflict exceedingly sharp, and it was long before it could
be seen how it was to go in the end. Many fell on both sides, and many
were the wounded. So says Sigvat:--

     "No urging did the earl require,
     Midst spear and sword--the battle's fire;
     No urging did the brave king need
     The ravens in this shield-storm to feed.
     Of limb-lopping enough was there,
     And ghastly wounds of sword and spear.
     Never, I think, was rougher play
     Than both the armies had that day."

The earl had most men, but the king had a chosen crew in his ship, who
had followed him in all his wars; and, besides, they were so excellently
equipped, as before related, that each man had a coat of ring-mail, so
that he could not be wounded. So says Sigvat:--

     "Our lads, broad-shouldered, tall, and hale,
     Drew on their cold shirts of ring-mail.
     Soon sword on sword was shrilly ringing,
     And in the air the spears were singing.
     Under our helms we hid our hair,
     For thick flew arrows through the air.
     Right glad was I our gallant crew,
     Steel-clad from head to foot, to view."


When the men began to fall on board the earl's ships, and many appeared
wounded, so that the sides of the vessels were but thinly beset with
men, the crew of King Olaf prepared to board. Their banner was brought
up to the ship that was nearest the earl's, and the king himself
followed the banner. So says Sigvat:--

     "'On with the king!' his banners waving:
     'On with the king!' the spears he's braving!
     'On, steel-clad men! and storm the deck,
     Slippery with blood and strewed with wreck.
     A different work ye have to share,
     His banner in war-storm to bear,
     From your fair girl's, who round the hall
     Brings the full mead-bowl to us all.'"

Now was the severest fighting. Many of Svein's men fell, and some sprang
overboard. So says Sigvat:--

     "Into the ship our brave lads spring,--
     On shield and helm their red blades ring;
     The air resounds with stroke on stroke,--
     The shields are cleft, the helms are broke.
     The wounded bonde o'er the side
     Falls shrieking in the blood-stained tide--
     The deck is cleared with wild uproar--
     The dead crew float about the shore."

And also these lines:--

     "The shields we brought from home were white,
     Now they are red-stained in the fight:
     This work was fit for those who wore
     Ringed coats-of-mail their breasts before.
     Where for the foe blunted the best sword
     I saw our young king climb on board.
     He stormed the first; we followed him--
     The war-birds now in blood may swim."

Now defeat began to come down upon the earl's men. The king's men
pressed upon the earl's ship and entered it; but when the earl saw how
it was going, he called out to his forecastle-men to cut the cables
and cast the ship loose, which they did. Then the king's men threw
grapplings over the timber heads of the ship, and so held her fast to
their own; but the earl ordered the timber heads to be cut away, which
was done. So says Sigvat:--

     "The earl, his noble ship to save,
     To cut the posts loud order gave.
     The ship escaped: our greedy eyes
     Had looked on her as a clear prize.
     The earl escaped; but ere he fled
     We feasted Odin's fowls with dead:--
     With many a goodly corpse that floated
     Round our ship's stern his birds were bloated."

Einar Tambaskelfer had laid his ship right alongside the earl's. They
threw an anchor over the bows of the earl's ship, and thus towed her
away, and they slipped out of the fjord together. Thereafter the whole
of the earl's fleet took to flight, and rowed out of the fjord. The
skald Berse Torfason was on the forecastle of the earl's ship; and as it
was gliding past the king's fleet, King Olaf called out to him--for he
knew Berse, who was distinguished as a remarkably handsome man, always
well equipped in clothes and arms--"Farewell, Berse!" He replied,
"Farewell, king!" So says Berse himself, in a poem he composed when he
fell into King Olaf's power, and was laid in prison and in fetters on
board a ship:--

     "Olaf the Brave
     A 'farewell' gave,
     (No time was there to parley long,)
     To me who knows the art of song.
          The skald was fain
          'Farewell' again
     In the same terms back to send--
     The rule in arms to foe or friend.
          Earl Svein's distress
          I well can guess,
     When flight he was compelled to take:
     His fortunes I will ne'er forsake,
          Though I lie here
     In chains a year,
     In thy great vessel all forlorn,
     To crouch to thee I still will scorn:
          I still will say,
          No milder sway
     Than from thy foe this land e'er knew:
     To him, my early friend, I'm true."


Now some of the earl's men fled up the country, some surrendered at
discretion; but Svein and his followers rowed out of the fjord, and the
chiefs laid their vessels together to talk with each other, for the earl
wanted counsel from his lendermen. Erling Skialgson advised that they
should sail north, collect people, and fight King Olaf again; but as
they had lost many people, the most were of opinion that the earl should
leave the country, and repair to his brother-in-law the Swedish King,
and strengthen himself there with men. Einar Tambaskelfer approved also
of that advice, as they had no power to hold battle against Olaf. So
they discharged their fleet. The earl sailed across Folden, and with
him Einar Tambaskelfer. Erling Skialgson again, and likewise many other
lendermen who would not abandon their udal possessions, went north to
their homes; and Erling had many people that summer about him.


When King Olaf and his men saw that the earl had gathered his ships
together, Sigurd Syr was in haste for pursuing the earl, and letting
steel decide their cause. But King Olaf replies, that he would first see
what the earl intended doing--whether he would keep his force together
or discharge his fleet. Sigurd Syr said, "It is for thee, king, to
command; but," he adds, "I fear, from thy disposition and wilfulness,
that thou wilt some day be betrayed by trusting to those great people,
for they are accustomed of old to bid defiance to their sovereigns."
There was no attack made, for it was soon seen that the earl's fleet was
dispersing. Then King Olaf ransacked the slain, and remained there some
days to divide the booty. At that time Sigvat made these verses:--

     "The tale I tell is true
     To their homes returned but few
     Of Svein's men who came to meet
     King Olaf's gallant fleet.
     From the North these warmen came
     To try the bloody game,--
     On the waves their corpses borne
     Show the game that Sunday morn.
     The Throndhjem girls so fair
     Their jeers, I think, will spare,
     For the king's force was but small
     That emptied Throndhjem's hall.
     But if they will have their jeer,
     They may ask their sweethearts dear,
     Why they have returned shorn
     Who went to shear that Sunday morn."

And also these:--

     "Now will the king's power rise,
     For the Upland men still prize
     The king who o'er the sea
     Steers to bloody victory.
     Earl Svein!  thou now wilt know
     That our lads can make blood flow--
     That the Hedemarkers hale
     Can do more than tap good ale."

King Olaf gave his stepfather King Sigurd Syr, and the other chiefs
who had assisted him, handsome presents at parting. He gave Ketil of
Ringanes a yacht of fifteen benches of rowers, which Ketil brought up
the Raum river and into the Mjosen lake.


King Olaf sent spies out to trace the earl's doings (A.D. 1015); and
when he found that the earl had left the country he sailed out west, and
to Viken, where many people came to him. At the Thing there he was taken
as king, and so he proceeded all the way to the Naze; and when he heard
that Erling Skialgson had gathered a large force, he did not tarry
in North Agder, but sailed with a steady fair wind to the Throndhjem
country; for there it appeared to him was the greatest strength of the
land, if he could subdue it for himself while the earl was abroad. When
Olaf came to Throndhjem there was no opposition, and he was elected
there to be king. In harvest (A.D. 1015) he took his seat in the town
of Nidaros, and collected the needful winter provision (A.D. 1016). He
built a king's house, and raised Clement's church on the spot on which
it now stands. He parcelled out building ground, which he gave to
bondes, merchants, or others who he thought would build. There he sat
down with many men-at-arms around him; for he put no great confidence
in the Throndhjem people, if the earl should return to the country. The
people of the interior of the Throndhjem country showed this clearly,
for he got no land-scat from them.


Earl Svein went first to Svithjod to his brother-in-law Olaf the Swedish
king, told him all that had happened between him and Olaf the Thick, and
asked his advice about what he should now undertake. The king said that
the earl should stay with him if he liked, and get such a portion of his
kingdom to rule over as should seem to him sufficient; "or otherwise,"
says he, "I will give thee help of forces to conquer the country again
from Olaf." The earl chose the latter; for all those among his men who
had great possessions in Norway, which was the case with many who were
with him, were anxious to get back; and in the council they held about
this, it was resolved that in winter they should take the land-way over
Helsingjaland and Jamtaland, and so down into the Throndhjem land;
for the earl reckoned most upon the faithful help and strength of the
Throndhjem people of the interior as soon as he should appear there. In
the meantime, however, it was determined to take a cruise in summer in
the Baltic to gather property.


Earl Svein went eastward with his forces to Russia, and passed the
summer (A.D. 1015) in marauding there; but on the approach of autumn
returned with his ships to Svithjod. There he fell into a sickness,
which proved fatal. After the earl's death some of the people who had
followed him remained in Svithjod; others went to Helsingjaland, thence
to Jamtaland, and so from the east over the dividing ridge of the
country to the Throndhjem district, where they told all that had
happened upon their journey: and thus the truth of Earl Svein's death
was known (A.D. 1016).


Einar Tambaskelfer, and the people who had followed him went in winter
to the Swedish king, and were received in a friendly manner. There were
also among them many who had followed the earl. The Swedish king took it
much amiss that Olaf the Thick had set himself down in his scat-lands,
and driven the earl out of them, and therefore he threatened the king
with his heaviest vengeance when opportunity offered. He said that Olaf
ought not to have had the presumption to take the dominions which the
earl had held of him; and all the Swedish king's men agreed with him.
But the Throndhjem people, when they heard for certain that the earl was
dead. and could not be expected back to Norway, turned all to obedience
to King Olaf. Many came from the interior of the Throndhjem country,
and became King Olaf's men; others sent word and tokens that they would
service him. Then, in autumn, he went into the interior of Throndhjem,
and held Things with the bondes, and was received as king in each
district. He returned to Nidaros, and brought there all the king's scat
and revenue, and had his winter-seat provided there (A.D. 1016).


King Olaf built a king's house in Nidaros, and in it was a large room
for his court, with doors at both ends. The king's high-seat was in the
middle of the room; and within sat his court-bishop, Grimkel, and next
him his other priests; without them sat his counsellors; and in the
other high-seat opposite to the king sat his marshal, Bjorn, and next
to him his pursuivants. When people of importance came to him, they also
had a seat of honour. The ale was drunk by the fire-light. He divided
the service among his men after the fashion of other kings. He had in
his house sixty court-men and thirty pursuivants; and to them he gave
pay and certain regulations. He had also thirty house-servants to do
the needful work about the house, and procure what was required. He had,
besides, many slaves. At the house were many outbuildings, in which the
court-men slept. There was also a large room, in which the king held his


It was King Olaf's custom to rise betimes in the morning, put on his
clothes, wash his hands, and then go to the church and hear the matins
and morning mass. Thereafter he went to the Thing-meeting, to bring
people to agreement with each other, or to talk of one or the other
matter that appeared to him necessary. He invited to him great and small
who were known to be men of understanding. He often made them recite to
him the laws which Hakon Athelstan's foster-son had made for Throndhjem;
and after considering them with those men of understanding, he ordered
laws adding to or taking from those established before. But Christian
privileges he settled according to the advice of Bishop Grimbel and
other learned priests; and bent his whole mind to uprooting heathenism,
and old customs which he thought contrary to Christianity. And he
succeeded so far that the bondes accepted of the laws which the king
proposed. So says Sigvat:--

     "The king, who at the helm guides
     His warlike ship through clashing tides,
     Now gives one law for all the land--
     A heavenly law, which long will stand."

King Olaf was a good and very gentle man, of little speech, and
open-handed although greedy of money. Sigvat the skald, as before
related, was in King Olaf's house, and several Iceland men. The king
asked particularly how Christianity was observed in Iceland, and it
appeared to him to be very far from where it ought to be; for, as
to observing Christian practices, it was told the king that it was
permitted there to eat horse-flesh, to expose infants as heathens do,
besides many other things contrary to Christianity. They also told the
king about many principal men who were then in Iceland. Skapte Thorodson
was then the lagman of the country. He inquired also of those who were
best acquainted with it about the state of people in other distant
countries; and his inquiries turned principally on how Christianity was
observed in the Orkney, Shetland, and Farey Islands: and, as far as
he could learn, it was far from being as he could have wished. Such
conversation was usually carried on by him; or else he spoke about the
laws and rights of the country.


The same winter (A.D. 1016) came messengers from the Swedish king,
Olaf the Swede, out of Svithjod: and their leaders were two brothers,
Thorgaut Skarde and Asgaut the bailiff; and they, had twenty-four men
with them, when they came from the eastward, over the ridge of the
country down into Veradal, they summoned a Thing of the bondes, talked
to them, and demanded of them scat and duties upon account of the king
of Sweden. But the bondes, after consulting with each other, determined
only to pay the scat which the Swedish king required in so far as King
Olaf required none upon his account, but refused to pay scat to both.
The messengers proceeded farther down the valley; but received at every
Thing they held the same answer, and no money. They went forward to
Skaun, held a Thing there, and demanded scat; but it went there as
before. Then they came to Stjoradal, and summoned a Thing, but the
bondes would not come to it. Now the messengers saw that their business
was a failure; and Thorgaut proposed that they should turn about, and go
eastward again. "I do not think," says Asgaut, "that we have performed
the king's errand unless we go to King Olaf the Thick, since the bondes
refer the matter to him." He was their commander; so they proceeded to
the town (Nidaros), and took lodging there. The day after they presented
themselves to the king, just as he was seated at table, saluted him, and
said they came with a message of the Swedish king. The king told them to
come to him next day. Next day the king, having heard mass, went to his
Thing-house, ordered the messengers of the Swedish king to be called,
and told them to produce their message. Then Thorgaut spoke, and told
first what his errand was, and next how the Throndhjem people of
the interior had replied to it; and asked the king's decision on the
business, that they might know what result their errand there was to
have. The king answers, "While the earls ruled over the country, it was
not to be wondered at if the country people thought themselves bound to
obey them, as they were at least of the royal race of the kingdom. But
it would have been more just if those earls had given assistance and
service to the kings who had a right to the country, rather than to
foreign kings, or to stir up opposition to their lawful kings, depriving
them of their land and kingdom. With regard to Olaf the Swede, who
calls himself entitled to the kingdom of Norway, I, who in fact am so
entitled, can see no ground for his claim; but well remember the skaith
and damage we have suffered from him and his relations."

Then says Asgaut. "It is not wonderful that thou art called Olaf the
Thick, seeing thou answerest so haughtily to such a prince's message,
and canst not see clearly how heavy the king's wrath will be for thee
to support, as many have experienced who had greater strength than thou
appearest to have. But if thou wishest to keep hold of thy kingdom, it
will be best for thee to come to the king, and be his man; and we shall
beg him to give thee this kingdom in fief under him."

The king replies with all gentleness, "I will give thee an advice,
Asgaut, in return. Go back to the east again to thy king, and tell him
that early in spring I will make myself ready, and will proceed eastward
to the ancient frontier that divided formerly the kingdom of the kings
of Norway from Sweden. There he may come if he likes, that we may
conclude a peace with each other; and each of us will retain the kingdom
to which he is born."

Now the messengers turned back to their lodging, and prepared for their
departure, and the king went to table. The messengers came back soon
after to the king's house; but the doorkeepers saw it, and reported it
to the king, who told them not to let the messengers in. "I will not
speak with them," said he. Then the messengers went off, and Thorgaut
said he would now return home with his men; but Asgaut insisted still
that he would go forward with the king's errand: so they separated.
Thorgaut proceeded accordingly through Strind; but Asgaut went into
Gaulardal and Orkadal, and intended proceeding southwards to More, to
deliver his king's message. When King Olaf came to the knowledge of this
he sent out his pursuivants after them, who found them at the ness in
Stein, bound their hands behind their backs, and led them down to the
point called Gaularas, where they raised a gallows, and hanged them so
that they could be seen by those who travelled the usual sea-way out of
the fjord. Thorgaut heard this news before he had travelled far on his
way home through the Throndhjem country; and he hastened on his journey
until he came to the Swedish king, and told him how it had gone with
them. The king was highly enraged when he heard the account of it; and
he had no lack of high words.


The spring thereafter (A.D. 1016) King Olaf Haraldson calls out an army
from the Throndhjem land, and makes ready to proceed eastward. Some of
the Iceland traders were then ready to sail from Norway. With them King
Olaf sent word and token to Hjalte Skeggjason, and summoned him to come
to him, and at the same time sent a verbal message to Skapte the lagman,
and other men who principally took part in the lawgiving of Iceland, to
take out of the law whatever appeared contrary to Christianity. He sent,
besides, a message of friendship to the people in general. The king
then proceeded southwards himself along the coast, stopping at every
district, and holding Things with the bondes; and in each Thing he
ordered the Christian law to be read, together with the message of
salvation thereunto belonging, and with which many ill customs and much
heathenism were swept away at once among the common people: for the
earls had kept well the old laws and rights of the country; but with
respect to keeping Christianity, they had allowed every man to do as he
liked. It was thus come so far that the people were baptized in the most
places on the sea-coast, but the most of them were ignorant of Christian
law. In the upper ends of the valleys, and in the habitations among the
mountains, the greater part of the people were heathen; for when the
common man is left to himself, the faith he has been taught in his
childhood is that which has the strongest hold over his inclination. But
the king threatened the most violent proceedings against great or small,
who, after the king's message, would not adopt Christianity. In the
meantime Olaf was proclaimed king in every Law Thing in the country,
and no man spoke against him. While he lay in Karmtsund messengers went
between him and Erling Skjalgson, who endeavoured to make peace between
them; and the meeting was appointed in Whitings Isle. When they met
they spoke with each other about agreement together; but Erling found
something else than he expected in the conversation: for when he
insisted on having all the fiefs which Olaf Trygvason, and afterwards
the Earls Svein and Hakon, had given him, and on that condition would
be his man and dutiful friend, the king answered, "It appears to me,
Erling, that it would be no bad bargain for thee to get as great fiefs
from me for thy aid and friendship as thou hadst from Earl Eirik, a man
who had done thee the greatest injury by the bloodshed of thy men;
but even if I let thee remain the greatest lenderman in Norway, I will
bestow my fiefs according to my own will, and not act as if ye lendermen
had udal right to my ancestor's heritage, and I was obliged to buy your
services with manifold rewards." Erling had no disposition to sue for
even the smallest thing; and he saw that the king was not easily dealt
with. He saw also that he had only two conditions before him: the one
was to make no agreement with the king, and stand by the consequences;
the other to leave it entirely to the king's pleasure. Although it was
much against his inclination, he chose the latter, and merely said to
the king, "The service will be the most useful to thee which I give with
a free will." And thus their conference ended. Erling's relations and
friends came to him afterwards, and advised him to give way, and proceed
with more prudence and less pride. "Thou wilt still," they said, "be the
most important and most respected lenderman in Norway, both on account
of thy own and thy relations' abilities and great wealth." Erling found
that this was prudent advice, and that they who gave it did so with a
good intention, and he followed it accordingly. Erling went into the
king's service on such conditions as the king himself should determine
and please. Thereafter they separated in some shape reconciled, and Olaf
went his way eastward along the coast (A.D. 1016).


As soon as it was reported that Olaf had come to Viken, the Danes who
had offices under the Danish king set off for Denmark, without waiting
for King Olaf. But King Olaf sailed in along Viken, holding Things
with the bondes. All the people of the country submitted to him, and
thereafter he took all the king's taxes, and remained the summer (A.D.
1016) in Viken. He then sailed east from Tunsberg across the fjord, and
all the way east to Svinasund. There the Swedish king's dominions begin,
and he had set officers over this country; namely, Eilif Gautske over
the north part, and Hroe Skialge over the east part, all the way to the
Gaut river. Hroe had family friends on both sides of the river, and also
great farms on Hising Island, and was besides a mighty and very rich
man. Eilif was also of great family, and very wealthy. Now when King
Olaf came to Ranrike he summoned the people to a Thing, and all who
dwelt on the sea-coast or in the out-islands came to him. Now when the
Thing was seated the king's marshal, Bjorn, held a speech to them, in
which he told the bondes to receive Olaf as their king, in the same
way as had been done in all other parts of Norway. Then stood up a bold
bonde by name Brynjolf Ulfalde, and said, "We bondes know where the
division-boundaries between the Norway and Danish and Swedish kings'
lands have stood by rights in old times; namely, that the Gaut river
divided their lands between the Vener lake and the sea; but towards the
north the forests until Eid forest, and from thence the ridge of the
country all north to Finmark. We know, also, that by turns they have
made inroads upon each other's territories, and that the Swedes have
long had power all the way to Svinasund. But, sooth to say, I know that
it is the inclination of many rather to serve the king of Norway,
but they dare not; for the Swedish king's dominions surround us, both
eastward, southwards, and also up the country; and besides, it may be
expected that the king of Norway must soon go to the north, where the
strength of his kingdom lies, and then we have no power to withstand the
Gautlanders. Now it is for the king to give us good counsel, for we have
great desire to be his men." After the Thing, in the evening, Brynjolf
was in the king's tent, and the day after likewise, and they had much
private conversation together. Then the king proceeded eastwards
along Viken. Now when Eilif heard of his arrival, he sent out spies
to discover what he was about; but he himself, with thirty men, kept
himself high up in the habitations among the hills, where he had
gathered together bondes. Many of the bondes came to King Olaf, but some
sent friendly messages to him. People went between King Olaf and Eilif,
and they entreated each separately to hold a Thing-meeting between
themselves, and make peace in one way or another. They told Eilif that
they might expect violent treatment from King Olaf if they opposed his
orders; but promised Eilif he should not want men. It was determined
that they should come down from the high country, and hold a thing
with the bondes and the king. King Olaf thereupon sent the chief of his
pursuivants, Thorer Lange, with six men, to Brynjolf. They were equipped
with their coats-of-mail under their cloaks, and their hats over their
helmets. The following day the bondes came in crowds down with Eilif;
and in his suite was Brynjolf, and with him Thorer. The king laid his
ships close to a rocky knoll that stuck out into the sea, and upon it
the king went with his people, and sat down. Below was a flat field, on
which the bondes' force was; but Eilif's men were drawn up, forming a
shield-fence before him. Bjorn the marshal spoke long and cleverly upon
the king's account, and when he sat down Eilif arose to speak; but at
the same moment Thorer Lange rose, drew his sword, and struck Eilif on
the neck, so that his head flew off. Then the whole bonde-force started
up; but the Gautland men set off in full flight and Thorer with his
people killed several of them. Now when the crowd was settled again,
and the noise over the king stood up, and told the bondes to seat
themselves. They did so, and then much was spoken. The end of it was
that they submitted to the king, and promised fidelity to him; and he,
on the other hand, promised not to desert them, but to remain at hand
until the discord between him and the Swedish Olaf was settled in one
way or other. King Olaf then brought the whole northern district under
his power, and went in summer eastward as far as the Gaut river, and got
all the king's scat among the islands. But when summer (A.D. 1016) was
drawing towards an end he returned north to Viken, and sailed up the
Raum river to a waterfall called Sarp. On the north side of the fall, a
point of land juts out into the river. There the king ordered a rampart
to be built right across the ness, of stone, turf, and wood, and a ditch
to be dug in front of it; so that it was a large earthen fort or burgh,
which he made a merchant town of. He had a king's house put up, and
ordered the building of Mary church. He also laid out plans for other
houses, and got people to build on them. In harvest (A.D. 1016) he let
everything be gathered there that was useful for his winter residence
(A.D. 1017), and sat there with a great many people, and the rest he
quartered in the neighbouring districts. The king prohibited all exports
from Viken to Gautland of herrings and salt, which the Gautland people
could ill do without. This year the king held a great Yule feast, to
which he invited many great bondes.


There was a man called Eyvind Urarhorn, who was a great man, of high
birth, who had his descent from the East Agder country. Every summer he
went out on a viking cruise, sometimes to the West sea, sometimes to
the Baltic, sometimes south to Flanders, and had a well-armed cutter
(snekkia) of twenty benches of rowers. He had been also at Nesjar, and
given his aid to the king; and when they separated the king promised
him his favour, and Eyvind, again, promised to come to the king's aid
whenever he was required. This winter (A.D. 1017) Eyvind was at the Yule
feast of the king, and received goodly gifts from him. Brynjolf Ulfalde
was also with the king, and he received a Yule present from the king of
a gold-mounted sword, and also a farm called Vettaland, which is a very
large head-farm of the district. Brynjolf composed a song about these
gifts, of which the refrain was--

     "The song-famed hero to my hand
     Gave a good sword, and Vettaland."

The king afterwards gave him the title of Lenderman, and Brynjolf was
ever after the king's greatest friend.


This winter (A.D. 1017) Thrand White from Throndhjem went east to
Jamtaland, to take up scat upon account of King Olaf. But when he had
collected the scat he was surprised by men of the Swedish king, who
killed him and his men, twelve in all, and brought the scat to the
Swedish king. King Olaf was very ill-pleased when he heard this news.


King Olaf made Christian law to be proclaimed in Viken, in the same way
as in the North country. It succeeded well, because the people of Viken
were better acquainted with the Christian customs than the people in the
north; for, both winter and summer, there were many merchants in Viken,
both Danish and Saxon. The people of Viken, also, had much trading
intercourse with England, and Saxony, and Flanders, and Denmark; and
some had been on viking expeditions, and had had their winter abode in
Christian lands.


About spring-time (A.D. 1017) King Olaf sent a message that Eyvind
Urarhorn should come to him; and they spake together in private for a
long time. Thereafter Eyvind made himself ready for a viking cruise. He
sailed south towards Viken, and brought up at the Eikreys Isles without
Hising Isle. There he heard that Hroe Skialge had gone northwards
towards Ordost, and had there made a levy of men and goods on account
of the Swedish king, and was expected from the north. Eyvind rowed in
by Haugasund, and Hroe came rowing from the north, and they met in the
sound and fought. Hroe fell there, with nearly thirty men; and Eyvind
took all the goods Hroe had with him. Eyvind then proceeded to the
Baltic, and was all summer on a viking cruise.


There was a man called Gudleik Gerske, who came originally from Agder.
He was a great merchant, who went far and wide by sea, was very
rich, and drove a trade with various countries. He often went east
to Gardarike (Russia), and therefore was called Gudleik Gerske (the
Russian). This spring (A.D. 1017) Gudleik fitted out his ship, and
intended to go east in summer to Russia. King Olaf sent a message to
him that he wanted to speak to him; and when Gudleik came to the king he
told him he would go in partnership with him, and told him to purchase
some costly articles which were difficult to be had in this country.
Gudleik said that it should be according to the king's desire. The
king ordered as much money to be delivered to Gudleik as he thought
sufficient, and then Gudleik set out for the Baltic. They lay in a sound
in Gotland; and there it happened, as it often does, that people cannot
keep their own secrets, and the people of the country came to know
that in this ship was Olaf the Thick's partner. Gudleik went in summer
eastwards to Novgorod, where he bought fine and costly clothes, which
he intended for the king as a state dress; and also precious furs, and
remarkably splendid table utensils. In autumn (A.D. 1017), as Gudleik
was returning from the east, he met a contrary wind, and lay for a long
time at the island Eyland. There came Thorgaut Skarde, who in autumn
had heard of Gudleik's course, in a long-ship against him, and gave him
battle. They fought long, and Gudleik and his people defended themselves
for a long time; but the numbers against them were great, and Gudleik
and many of his ship's crew fell, and a great many of them were wounded.
Thorgaut took all their goods, and King Olaf's, and he and his comrades
divided the booty among them equally; but he said the Swedish king ought
to have the precious articles of King Olaf, as these, he said, should
be considered as part of the scat due to him from Norway. Thereafter
Thorgaut proceeded east to Svithjod. These tidings were soon known; and
as Eyvind Urarhorn came soon after to Eyland, he heard the news, and
sailed east after Thorgaut and his troop, and overtook them among the
Swedish isles on the coast, and gave battle. There Thorgaut and the most
of his men were killed, and the rest sprang overboard. Eyvind took
all the goods and all the costly articles of King Olaf which they had
captured from Gudleik, and went with these back to Norway in autumn, and
delivered to King Olaf his precious wares. The king thanked him in the
most friendly way for his proceeding, and promised him anew his favour
and friendship. At this time Olaf had been three years king over Norway
(A.D. 1015-1017).


The same summer (A.D. 1017) King Olaf ordered a levy, and went out
eastwards to the Gaut river, where he lay a great part of the summer.
Messages were passing between King Olaf, Earl Ragnvald, and the earl's
wife, Ingebjorg, the daughter of Trygve. She was very zealous about
giving King Olaf of Norway every kind of help, and made it a matter of
her deepest interest. For this there were two causes. She had a great
friendship for King Olaf; and also she could never forget that the
Swedish king had been one at the death of her brother, Olaf Trygvason;
and also that he, on that account only, had any presence to rule over
Norway. The earl, by her persuasion, turned much towards friendship with
King Olaf; and it proceeded so far that the earl and the king appointed
a meeting, and met at the Gaut river. They talked together of many
things, but especially of the Norwegian and Swedish kings' relations
with each other; both agreeing, as was the truth also, that it was the
greatest loss, both to the people of Viken and of Gautland, that there
was no peace for trade between the two countries; and at last both
agreed upon a peace, and still-stand of arms between them until next
summer; and they parted with mutual gifts and friendly speeches.


The king thereupon returned north to Viken, and had all the royal
revenues up to the Gaut river; and all the people of the country there
had submitted to him. King Olaf the Swede had so great a hatred of Olaf
Haraldson, that no man dared to call him by his right name in the king's
hearing. They called him the thick man; and never named him without some
hard by-name.


The bondes in Viken spoke with each other about there being nothing for
it but that the kings should make peace and a league with each other,
and insisted upon it that they were badly used by the kings going to
war; but nobody was so bold as to bring these murmurs before the king.
At last they begged Bjorn the marshal to bring this matter before the
king, and entreat him to send messengers to the Swedish king to offer
peace on his side. Bjorn was disinclined to do this, and put it off from
himself with excuses; but on the entreaties of many of his friends, he
promised at last to speak of it to the king; but declared, at the same
time, that he knew it would be taken very ill by the king to propose
that he should give way in anything to the Swedish king. The same
summer (A.D. 1017) Hjalte Skeggjason came over to Norway from Iceland,
according to the message sent him by King Olaf, and went directly to
the king. He was well received by the king, who told him to lodge in his
house, and gave him a seat beside Bjorn the marshal, and Hjalte became
his comrade at table. There was good-fellowship immediately between

Once, when King Olaf had assembled the people and bondes to consult upon
the good of the country, Bjorn the marshal said, "What think you, king,
of the strife that is between the Swedish king and you? Many people
have fallen on both sides, without its being at all more determined than
before what each of you shall have of the kingdom. You have now been
sitting in Viken one winter and two summers, and the whole country
to the north is lying behind your back unseen; and the men who have
property or udal rights in the north are weary of sitting here. Now it
is the wish of the lendermen, of your other people, and of the bondes
that this should come to an end. There is now a truce, agreement, and
peace with the earl, and the West Gautland people who are nearest to us;
and it appears to the people it would be best that you sent messengers
to the Swedish king to offer a reconciliation on your side; and, without
doubt, many who are about the Swedish king will support the proposal,
for it is a common gain for those who dwell in both countries, both here
and there." This speech of Bjorn's received great applause.

Then the king said, "It is fair, Bjorn, that the advice thou hast given
should be carried out by thyself. Thou shalt undertake this embassy
thyself, and enjoy the good of it, if thou hast advised well; and if it
involve any man in danger, thou hast involved thyself in it. Moreover,
it belongs to thy office to declare to the multitude what I wish to have
told." Then the king stood up, went to the church, and had high mass
sung before him; and thereafter went to table.

The following day Hjalte said to Bjorn, "Why art thou so melancholy,
man? Art thou sick, or art thou angry at any one?" Bjorn tells Hjalte
his conversation with the king, and says it is a very dangerous errand.

Hjalte says, "It is their lot who follow kings that they enjoy high
honours, and are more respected than other men, but stand often in
danger of their lives: and they must understand how to bear both parts
of their lot. The king's luck is great; and much honour will be gained
by this business, if it succeed."

Bjorn answered, "Since thou makest so light of this business in thy
speech, wilt thou go with me? The king has promised that I shall have
companions with me on the journey."

"Certainly," says Hjalte; "I will follow thee, if thou wilt: for never
again shall I fall in with such a comrade if we part."


A few days afterwards, when the king was at a Thing-meeting, Bjorn came
with eleven others. He says to the king that they were now ready to
proceed on their mission, and that their horses stood saddled at the
door. "And now," says he, "I would know with what errand I am to go, or
what orders thou givest us."

The king replies, "Ye shall carry these my words to the Swedish
king--that I will establish peace between our countries up to the
frontier which Olaf Trygvason had before me; and each shall bind himself
faithfully not to trespass over it. But with regard to the loss of
people, no man must mention it if peace there is to be; for the Swedish
king cannot with money pay for the men the Swedes have deprived us of."
Thereupon the king rose, and went out with Bjorn and his followers; and
he took a gold-mounted sword and a gold ring, and said, in handing over
the sword to Bjorn, "This I give thee: it was given to me in summer by
Earl Ragnvald. To him ye shall go; and bring him word from me to advance
your errand with his counsel and strength. This thy errand I will think
well fulfilled if thou hearest the Swedish king's own words, be they
yea or nay: and this gold ring thou shalt give Earl Ragnvald. These are
tokens (1) he must know well."

Hjalte went up to the king, saluted him, and said, "We need much, king,
that thy luck attend us;" and wished that they might meet again in good

The king asked where Hjalte was going.

"With Bjorn," said he.

The king said, "It will assist much to the good success of the journey
that thou goest too, for thy good fortune has often been proved; and be
assured that I shall wish that all my luck, if that be of any weight,
may attend thee and thy company."

Bjorn and his followers rode their way, and came to Earl Ragnvald's
court, where they were well received. Bjorn was a celebrated and
generally known man,--known by sight and speech to all who had ever
seen King Olaf; for at every Thing, Bjorn stood up and told the king's
message. Ingebjorg, the earl's wife, went up to Hjalte and looked
at him. She recognized him, for she was living with her brother Olaf
Trygvason when Hjalte was there: and she knew how to reckon up the
relationship between King Olaf and Vilborg, the wife of Hjalte; for
Eirik Bjodaskalle father of Astrid, King Olaf Trygvason's mother, and
Bodvar father of Olaf, mother of Gissur White the father of Vilborg,
were brother's sons of the lenderman Vikingakare of Vors.

They enjoyed here good entertainment. One day Bjorn entered into
conversation with the earl and Ingebjorg, in which he set forth his
errand, and produced to the earl his tokens.

The earl replies, "What hast thou done, Bjorn, that the king wishes thy
death? For, so far from thy errand having any success, I do not think a
man can be found who could speak these words to the Swedish king without
incurring wrath and punishment. King Olaf, king of Sweden, is too proud
for any man to speak to him on anything he is angry at."

Then Bjorn says, "Nothing has happened to me that King Olaf is offended
at; but many of his disposition act both for themselves and others, in
a way that only men who are daring can succeed in. But as yet all his
plans have had good success, and I think this will turn out well too; so
I assure you, earl, that I will actually travel to the Swedish king,
and not turn back before I have brought to his ears every word that King
Olaf told me to say to him, unless death prevent me, or that I am in
bonds, and cannot perform my errand; and this I must do, whether you
give any aid or no aid to me in fulfilling the king's wishes."

Then said IngebJorg, "I will soon declare my opinion. I think, earl,
thou must turn all thy attention to supporting King Olaf the king of
Norway's desire that this message be laid before the Swedish king, in
whatever way he may answer it. Although the Swedish king's anger should
be incurred, and our power and property be at stake, yet will I rather
run the risk, than that it should be said the message of King Olaf was
neglected from fear of the Swedish king. Thou hast that birth, strength
of relations, and other means, that here in the Swedish land it is free
to thee to tell thy mind, if it be right and worthy of being heard,
whether it be listened to by few or many, great or little people, or by
the king himself."

The earl replies, "It is known to every one how thou urgest me: it may
be, according to thy counsel, that I should promise the king's men to
follow them, so that they may get their errand laid before the Swedish
king, whether he take it ill or take it well. But I will have my own
counsel followed, and will not run hastily into Bjorn's or any other
man's measures, in such a highly important matter. It is my will that ye
all remain here with me, so long as I think it necessary for the purpose
of rightly forwarding this mission." Now as the earl had thus given them
to understand that he would support them in the business, Bjorn thanked
him most kindly, and with the assurance that his advice should rule them
altogether. Thereafter Bjorn and his fellow-travellers remained very
long in the earl's house.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Before writing was a common accomplishment in courts, the
     only way of accrediting a special messenger between kings
     and great men was by giving the messenger a token; that is.
     some article well known by the person receiving the message
     to be the property of and valued by the person sending it.


Ingebjorg was particularly kind to them; and Bjorn often spoke with her
about the matter, and was ill at ease that their journey was so long
delayed. Hjalte and the others often spoke together also about the
matter; and Hjalte said; "I will go to the king if ye like; for I am not
a man of Norway, and the Swedes can have nothing to say to me. I
have heard that there are Iceland men in the king's house who are my
acquaintances, and are well treated; namely, the skalds Gissur Black
and Ottar Black. From them I shall get out what I can about the Swedish
king; and if the business will really be so difficult as it now appears,
or if there be any other way of promoting it, I can easily devise some
errand that may appear suitable for me."

This counsel appeared to Bjorn and Ingebjorg to be the wisest, and they
resolved upon it among themselves. Ingebjorg put Hjalte in a position to
travel; gave him two Gautland men with him, and ordered them to follow
him, and assist him with their service, and also to go wherever he might
have occasion to send them. Besides, Ingebjorg gave him twenty marks of
weighed silver money for travelling expenses, and sent word and token by
him to the Swedish king Olaf's daughter, Ingegerd, that she should give
all her assistance to Hjalte's business, whenever he should find himself
under the necessity of craving her help. Hjalte set off as soon as he
was ready. When he came to King Olaf he soon found the skalds Gissur and
Ottar, and they were very glad at his coming. Without delay they went to
the king, and told him that a man was come who was their countryman,
and one of the most considerable in their native land, and requested
the king to receive him well. The king told them to take Hjalte and his
fellow-travellers into their company and quarters. Now when Hjalte had
resided there a short time, and got acquainted with people, he was much
respected by everybody. The skalds were often in the king's house, for
they were well-spoken men; and often in the daytime they sat in front of
the king's high-seat, and Hjalte, to whom they paid the highest respect
in all things, by their side. He became thus known to the king, who
willingly entered into conversation with him, and heard from him news
about Iceland.


It happened that before Bjorn set out from home he asked Sigvat the
skald, who at that time was with King Olaf, to accompany him on his
journey. It was a journey for which people had no great inclination.
There was, however, great friendship between Bjorn and Sigvat. Then
Sigvat sang:--

     "With the king's marshals all have I,
          In days gone by,
          Lived joyously,--
     With all who on the king attend,
     And knee before him humbly bend,
     Bjorn, thou oft hast ta'en my part--
          Pleaded with art,
          And touched the heart.
     Bjorn!  brave stainer of the sword,
     Thou art my friend--I trust thy word."

While they were riding up to Gautland, Sigvat made these verses:--

     "Down the Fjord sweep wind and rain,
     Our stout ship's sails and tackle strain;
          Wet to the skin.
          We're sound within,
     And gaily o'er the waves are dancing,
     Our sea-steed o'er the waves high prancing!
          Through Lister sea
          Flying all free;
     Off from the wind with swelling sail,
     We merrily scud before the gale,
          And reach the sound
          Where we were bound.
     And now our ship, so gay and grand,
     Glides past the green and lovely land,
          And at the isle
          Moors for a while.
     Our horse-hoofs now leave hasty print;
     We ride--of ease there's scanty stint--
          In heat and haste
          O'er Gautland's waste:
     Though in a hurry to be married,
     The king can't say that we have tarried."

One evening late they were riding through Gautland, and Sigvat made
these verses:--

     "The weary horse will at nightfall
     Gallop right well to reach his stall;
     When night meets day, with hasty hoof
     He plies the road to reach a roof.
     Far from the Danes, we now may ride
     Safely by stream or mountain-side;
     But, in this twilight, in some ditch
     The horse and rider both may pitch."

They rode through the merchant town of Skara, and down the street to the
earl's house. He sang:--

     "The shy sweet girls, from window high
     In wonder peep at the sparks that fly
     From our horses heels, as down the street
     Of the earl's town we ride so fleet.
     Spur on!--that every pretty lass
     May hear our horse-hoofs as we pass
     Clatter upon the stones so hard,
     And echo round the paved court-yard."


One day Hjalte, and the skalds with him, went before the king, and he
began thus:--"It has so happened, king, as is known to you, that I
have come here after a long and difficult journey; but when I had once
crossed the ocean and heard of your greatness, it appeared to me unwise
to go back without having seen you in your splendour and glory. Now it
is a law between Iceland and Norway, that Iceland men pay landing due
when they come into Norway, but while I was coming across the sea I took
myself all the landing dues from my ship's people; but knowing that thou
have the greatest right to all the power in Norway, I hastened hither to
deliver to you the landing dues." With this he showed the silver to the
king, and laid ten marks of silver in Gissur Black's lap.

The king replies, "Few have brought us any such dues from Norway for
some time; and now, Hjalte, I will return you my warmest thanks for
having given yourself so much trouble to bring us the landing dues,
rather than pay them to our enemies. But I will that thou shouldst take
this money from me as a gift, and with it my friendship."

Hjalte thanked the king with many words, and from that day set himself
in great favour with the king, and often spoke with him; for the king
thought, what was true, that he was a man of much understanding and
eloquence. Now Hjalte told Gissur and Ottar that he was sent with
tokens to the king's daughter Ingegerd, to obtain her protection and
friendship; and he begged of them to procure him some opportunity to
speak with her. They answered, that this was an easy thing to do; and
went one day to her house, where she sat at the drinking table with many
men. She received the skalds in a friendly manner, for they were known
to her. Hjalte brought her a salutation from the earl's wife, Ingebjorg;
and said she had sent him here to obtain friendly help and succour
from her, and in proof whereof produced his tokens. The king's
daughter received him also kindly, and said he should be welcome to her
friendship. They sat there till late in the day drinking. The king's
daughter made Hjalte tell her much news, and invited him to come often
and converse with her. He did so: came there often, and spoke with the
king's daughter; and at last entrusted her with the purpose of Bjorn's
and his comrade's journey, and asked her how she thought the Swedish
king would receive the proposal that there should be a reconciliation
between the kings. The king's daughter replied, that, in her opinion,
it would be a useless attempt to propose to the king any reconciliation
with Olaf the Thick; for the king was so enraged against him, that he
would not suffer his name to be mentioned before him. It happened one
day that Hjalte was sitting with the king and talking to him, and the
king was very merry and drunk. Then Hjalte said, "Manifold splendour and
grandeur have I seen here; and I have now witnessed with my eyes what I
have often heard of, that no monarch in the north is so magnificent: but
it is very vexatious that we who come so far to visit it have a road
so long and troublesome, both on account of the great ocean, but more
especially because it is not safe to travel through Norway for those who
are coming here in a friendly disposition. But why is there no one to
bring proposals for a peace between you and King Olaf the Thick? I heard
much in Norway, and in west Gautland, of the general desire that this
peace should have taken place; and it has been told me for truth, as the
Norway king's words, that he earnestly desires to be reconciled to you;
and the reason I know is, that he feels how much less his power is than
yours. It is even said that he intends to pay his court to your daughter
Ingegerd; and that would lead to a useful peace, for I have heard from
people of credit that he is a remarkably distinguished man."

The king answers. "Thou must not speak thus, Hjalte; but for this time
I will not take it amiss of thee, as thou dost not know what people have
to avoid here. That fat fellow shall not be called king in my court, and
there is by no means the stuff in him that people talk of: and thou must
see thyself that such a connection is not suitable; for I am the tenth
king in Upsala who, relation after relation, has been sole monarch over
the Swedish, and many other great lands, and all have been the superior
kings over other kings in the northern countries. But Norway is little
inhabited, and the inhabitants are scattered. There have only been small
kings there; and although Harald Harfager was the greatest king in that
country, and strove against the small kings, and subdued them, yet he
knew so well his position that he did not covet the Swedish dominions,
and therefore the Swedish kings let him sit in peace, especially as
there was relationship between them. Thereafter, while Hakon Athelstan's
foster-son was in Norway he sat in peace, until he began to maraud in
Gautland and Denmark; on which a war-force came upon him, and took
from him both life and land. Gunhild's sons also were cut off when they
became disobedient to the Danish kings; and Harald Gormson joined Norway
to his own dominions, and made it subject to scat to him. And we reckon
Harald Gormson to be of less power and consideration than the Upsala
kings, for our relation Styrbjorn subdued him, and Harald became his
man; and yet Eirik the Victorious, my father, rose over Styrbjorn's head
when it came to a trial between them. When Olaf Trygvason came to Norway
and proclaimed himself king, we would not permit it, but we went with
King Svein, and cut him off; and thus we have appropriated Norway, as
thou hast not heard, and with no less right than if I had gained it in
battle, and by conquering the kings who ruled it before. Now thou canst
well suppose, as a man of sense, that I will not let slip the kingdom of
Norway for this thick fellow. It is wonderful he does not remember how
narrowly he made his escape, when we had penned him in in the Malar
lake. Although he slipped away with life from thence, he ought,
methinks, to have something else in his mind than to hold out against us
Swedes. Now, Hjalte, thou must never again open thy mouth in my presence
on such a subject."

Hjalte saw sufficiently that there was no hope of the king's listening
to any proposal of a peace, and desisted from speaking of it, and turned
the conversation to something else. When Hjalte, afterwards, came
into discourse with the king's daughter Ingegerd, he tells her his
conversation with the king. She told him she expected such an answer
from the king. Hjalte begged of her to say a good word to the king about
the matter, but she thought the king would listen as little to what she
said: "But speak about it I will, if thou requirest it." Hjalte assured
her he would be thankful for the attempt. One day the king's daughter
Ingegerd had a conversation with her father Olaf; and as she found her
father was in a particularly good humour, she said, "What is now thy
intention with regard to the strife with Olaf the Thick? There are many
who complain about it, having lost their property by it; others have
lost their relations by the Northmen, and all their peace and quiet; so
that none of your men see any harm that can be done to Norway. It would
be a bad counsel if thou sought the dominion over Norway; for it is a
poor country, difficult to come at, and the people dangerous: for the
men there will rather have any other for their king than thee. If I
might advise, thou wouldst let go all thoughts about Norway, and not
desire Olaf's heritage; and rather turn thyself to the kingdoms in the
East country, which thy forefathers the former Swedish kings had, and
which our relation Styrbjorn lately subdued, and let the thick Olaf
possess the heritage of his forefathers and make peace with him."

The king replies in a rage, "It is thy counsel, Ingegerd, that I should
let slip the kingdom of Norway, and give thee in marriage to this thick
Olaf."--"No," says he, "something else shall first take place. Rather
than that, I shall, at the Upsala Thing in winter, issue a proclamation
to all Swedes, that the whole people shall assemble for an expedition,
and go to their ships before the ice is off the waters; and I will
proceed to Norway, and lay waste the land with fire and sword, and burn
everything, to punish them for their want of fidelity."

The king was so mad with rage that nobody ventured to say a word, and
she went away. Hjalte, who was watching for her, immediately went to her
and asked how her errand to the king had turned out. She answered, it
turned out as she had expected; that none could venture to put in a word
with the king; but, on the contrary, he had used threats; and she begged
Hjalte never to speak of the matter again before the king. As Hjalte and
Ingegerd spoke together often, Olaf the Thick was often the subject, and
he told her about him and his manners; and Hjalte praised the king of
Norway what he could, but said no more than was the truth, and she could
well perceive it. Once, in a conversation, Hjalte said to her, "May I be
permitted, daughter of the king, to tell thee what lies in my mind?"

"Speak freely," says she; "but so that I alone can hear it."

"Then," said Hjalte, "what would be thy answer, if the Norway king Olaf
sent messengers to thee with the errand to propose marriage to thee?"

She blushed, and answered slowly but gently, "I have not made up my mind
to answer to that; but if Olaf be in all respects so perfect as thou
tellest me, I could wish for no other husband; unless, indeed, thou hast
gilded him over with thy praise more than sufficiently."

Hjalte replied, that he had in no respect spoken better of the king than
was true. They often spoke together on the same subject. Ingegerd begged
Hjalte to be cautious not to mention it to any other person, for the
king would be enraged against him if it came to his knowledge. Hjalte
only spoke of it to the skalds Gissur and Ottar, who thought it was the
most happy plan, if it could but be carried into effect. Ottar, who was
a man of great power of conversation, and much beloved in the court,
soon brought up the subject before the king's daughter, and recounted
to her, as Hjalte had done, all King Olaf's excellent qualities. Often
spoke Hjalte and the others about him; and now that Hjalte knew
the result of his mission, he sent those Gautland men away who had
accompanied him, and let them return to the earl with letters (1) which
the king's daughter Ingegerd sent to the earl and Ingebjorg. Hjalte also
let them give a hint to the earl about the conversation he had had with
Ingegerd, and her answer thereto: and the messengers came with it to the
earl a little before Yule.

   ENDNOTES: (1) This seems the first notice we have in the sagas of
     written letters being sent instead of tokens and verbal messages.


When King Olaf had despatched Bjorn and his followers to Gautland, he
sent other people also to the Uplands, with the errand that they should
have guest-quarters prepared for him, as he intended that winter (A.D.
1018) to live as guest in the Uplands; for it had been the custom of
former kings to make a progress in guest-quarters every third year in
the Uplands. In autumn he began his progress from Sarpsborg, and went
first to Vingulmark. He ordered his progress so that he came first to
lodge in the neighbourhood of the forest habitations, and summoned to
him all the men of the habitations who dwelt at the greatest distance
from the head-habitations of the district; and he inquired particularly
how it stood with their Christianity, and, where improvement was
needful, he taught them the right customs. If any there were who would
not renounce heathen ways, he took the matter so zealously that he drove
some out of the country, mutilated others of hands or feet, or stung
their eyes out; hung up some, cut down some with the sword; but let none
go unpunished who would not serve God. He went thus through the whole
district, sparing neither great nor small. He gave them teachers, and
placed these as thickly in the country as he saw needful. In this manner
he went about in that district, and had 300 deadly men-at-arms with him;
and then proceeded to Raumarike. He soon perceived that Christianity was
thriving less the farther he proceeded into the interior of the country.
He went forward everywhere in the same way, converting all the people to
the right faith, and severely punishing all who would not listen to his


Now when the king who at that time ruled in Raumarike heard of this, he
thought it was a very bad affair; for every day came men to him, both
great and small, who told him what was doing. Therefore this king
resolved to go up to Hedemark, and consult King Hrorek, who was the
most eminent for understanding of the kings who at that time were in the
country. Now when these kings spoke with each other, they agreed to
send a message to Gudrod, the valley-king north in the Gudbrandsdal,
and likewise to the king who was in Hadaland, and bid them to come to
Hedemark, to meet Hrorek and the other kings there. They did not spare
their travelling; for five kings met in Hedemark, at a place called
Ringsaker. Ring, King Hrorek's brother, was the fifth of these kings.
The kings had first a private conference together, in which he who
came from Raumarike first took up the word, and told of King Olaf's
proceedings, and of the disturbance he was causing both by killing and
mutilating people. Some he drove out of the country, some he deprived
of their offices or property if they spoke anything against him; and,
besides, he was travelling over the country with a great army, not
with the number of people fixed by law for a royal progress in
guest-quarters. He added, that he had fled hither upon account of this
disturbance, and many powerful people with him had fled from their udal
properties in Raumarike. "But although as yet the evil is nearest to
us, it will be but a short time before ye will also be exposed to it;
therefore it is best that we all consider together what resolution we
shall take." When he had ended his speech, Hrorek was desired to speak;
and he said, "Now is the day come that I foretold when we had had our
meeting at Hadaland, and ye were all so eager to raise Olaf over our
heads; namely, that as soon as he was the supreme master of the country
we would find it hard to hold him by the horns. We have but two things
now to do: the one is, to go all of us to him, and let him do with us as
he likes, which I think is the best thing we can do; or the other is,
to rise against him before he has gone farther through the country.
Although he has 300 or 400 men, that is not too great a force for us to
meet, if we are only all in movement together: but, in general, there is
less success and advantage to be gained when several of equal strength
are joined together, than when one alone stands at the head of his own
force; therefore it is my advice, that we do not venture to try our luck
against Olaf Haraldson."

Thereafter each of the kings spoke according to his own mind some
dissuading from going out against King Olaf, others urging it; and no
determination was come to, as each had his own reasons to produce.

Then Gudrod, the valley-king, took up the word, and spoke:--"It appears
wonderful to me, that ye make such a long roundabout in coming to a
resolution; and probably ye are frightened for him. We are here five
kings, and none of less high birth than Olaf. We gave him the strength
to fight with Earl Svein, and with our forces he has brought the country
under his power. But if he grudges each of us the little kingdom he had
before, and threatens us with tortures, or gives us ill words, then, say
I for myself, that I will withdraw myself from the king's slavery; and I
do not call him a man among you who is afraid to cut him off, if he come
into your hands here up in Hedemark. And this I can tell you, that we
shall never bear our heads in safety while Olaf is in life." After this
encouragement they all agreed to his determination.

Then said Hrorek, "With regard to this determination, it appears to me
necessary to make our agreement so strong that no one shall fail in his
promise to the other. Therefore, if ye determine upon attacking Olaf at
a fixed time, when he comes here to Hedemark, I will not trust much to
you if some are north in the valleys, others up in Hedemark; but if
our resolution is to come to anything, we must remain here assembled
together day and night."

This the kings agreed to, and kept themselves there all assembled,
ordering a feast to be provided for them at Ringsaker, and drank there a
cup to success; sending out spies to Raumarike, and when one set came
in sending out others, so that day and night they had intelligence of
Olaf's proceedings, and of the numbers of his men. King Olaf went
about in Raumarike in guest-quarters, and altogether in the way before
related; but as the provision of the guest-quarter was not always
sufficient, upon account of his numerous followers, he laid it upon the
bondes to give additional contributions wherever he found it necessary
to stay. In some places he stayed longer, in others, shorter than was
fixed; and his journey down to the lake Miosen was shorter than had
been fixed on. The kings, after taking their resolution, sent out
message-tokens, and summoned all the lendermen and powerful bondes from
all the districts thereabout; and when they had assembled the kings had
a private meeting with them, and made their determination known, setting
a day for gathering together and carrying it into effect; and it was
settled among them that each of the kings should have 300 (1) men. Then
they sent away the lendermen to gather the people, and meet all at the
appointed place. The most approved of the measure; but it happened
here, as it usually does, that every one has some friend even among his

   ENDNOTES: (1) I.e., 360.


Ketil of Ringanes was at this meeting. Now when he came home in the
evening he took his supper, put on his clothes, and went down with his
house-servants to the lake; took a light vessel which he had, the same
that King Olaf had made him a present of, and launched it on the water.
They found in the boat-house everything ready to their hands; betook
themselves to their oars, and rowed out into the lake. Ketil had forty
well-armed men with him, and came early in the morning to the end of the
lake. He set off immediately with twenty men, leaving the other twenty
to look after the ship. King Olaf was at that time at Eid, in the upper
end of Raumarike. Thither Ketil arrived just as the king was coming from
matins. The king received Ketil kindly. He said he must speak with the
king in all haste; and they had a private conference together. There
Ketil tells the king the resolution which the kings had taken, and their
agreement, which he had come to the certain knowledge of. When the king
learnt this he called his people together, and sent some out to collect
riding-horses in the country; others he sent down to the lake to take
all the rowing-vessels they could lay hold of, and keep them for his
use. Thereafter he went to the church, had mass sung before him, and
then sat down to table. After his meal he got ready, and hastened down
to the lake, where the vessels were coming to meet him. He himself went
on board the light vessel, and as many men with him as it could stow,
and all the rest of his followers took such boats as they could get hold
of; and when it was getting late in the evening they set out from the
land, in still and calm weather. He rowed up the water with 400 men, and
came with them to Ringsaker before day dawned; and the watchmen were not
aware of the army before they were come into the very court. Ketil knew
well in what houses the kings slept, and the king had all these houses
surrounded and guarded, so that nobody could get out; and so they stood
till daylight. The kings had not people enough to make resistance, but
were all taken prisoners, and led before the king. Hrorek was an able
but obstinate man, whose fidelity the king could not trust to if he made
peace with him; therefore he ordered both his eyes to be punched out,
and took him in that condition about with him. He ordered Gudrod's
tongue to be cut out; but Ring and two others he banished from Norway,
under oath never to return. Of the lendermen and bondes who had actually
taken part in the traitorous design, some he drove out of the country,
some he mutilated, and with others he made peace. Ottar Black tells of

     "The giver of rings of gold,
     The army leader bold,
          In vengeance springs
          On the Hedemark kings.
     Olaf the bold and great,
     Repays their foul deceit--
          In full repays
          Their treacherous ways.
     He drives with steel-clad hand
     The small kings from the land,--
          Greater by far
          In deed of war.
     The king who dwelt most north
     Tongueless must wander forth:
          All fly away
          In great dismay.
     King Olaf now rules o'er
     What five kings ruled before.
          To Eid's old bound
          Extends his ground.
     No kings in days of yore
     E'er won so much before:
          That this is so
          All Norsemen know."

King Olaf took possession of the land these five kings had possessed,
and took hostages from the lendermen and bondes in it. He took money
instead of guest-quarters from the country north of the valley district,
and from Hedemark; and then returned to Raumarike, and so west to
Hadaland. This winter (A.D. 1018) his stepfather Sigurd Syr died; and
King Olaf went to Ringerike, where his mother Asta made a great feast
for him. Olaf alone bore the title of king now in Norway.


It is told that when King Olaf was on his visit to his mother Asta,
she brought out her children, and showed them to him. The king took his
brother Guthorm on the one knee, and his brother Halfdan on the other.
The king looked at Guthorm, made a wry face, and pretended to be angry
at them: at which the boys were afraid. Then Asta brought her youngest
son, called Harald, who was three years old, to him. The king made a wry
face at him also; but he looked the king in the face without regarding
it. The king took the boy by the hair, and plucked it; but the boy
seized the king's whiskers, and gave them a tug. "Then," said the king,
"thou wilt be revengeful, my friend, some day." The following day the
king was walking with his mother about the farm, and they came to
a playground, where Asta's sons, Guthorm and Halfdan, were amusing
themselves. They were building great houses and barns in their play, and
were supposing them full of cattle and sheep; and close beside them, in
a clay pool, Harald was busy with chips of wood, sailing them, in
his sport along the edge. The king asked him what these were; and he
answered, these were his ships of war. The king laughed, and said, "The
time may come, friend, when thou wilt command ships."

Then the king called to him Halfdan and Guthorm; and first he asked
Guthorm, "What wouldst thou like best to have?"

"Corn land," replied he.

"And how great wouldst thou like thy corn land to be?"

"I would have the whole ness that goes out into the lake sown with corn
every summer." On that ness there are ten farms.

The king replies, "There would be a great deal of corn there." And,
turning to Halfdan, he asked, "And what wouldst thou like best to have?"

"Cows," he replied.

"How many wouldst thou like to have?"

"When they went to the lake to be watered I would have so many, that
they stood as tight round the lake as they could stand."

"That would be a great housekeeping," said the king; "and therein ye
take after your father."

Then the king says to Harald, "And what wouldst thou like best to have?"


"And how many wouldst thou have?"

"Oh! so many I would like to have as would eat up my brother Halfdan's
cows at a single meal."

The king laughed, and said to Asta, "Here, mother, thou art bringing up
a king." And more is not related of them on this occasion.


In Svithjod it was the old custom, as long as heathenism prevailed, that
the chief sacrifice took place in Goe month at Upsala. Then sacrifice
was offered for peace, and victory to the king; and thither came people
from all parts of Svithjod. All the Things of the Swedes, also, were
held there, and markets, and meetings for buying, which continued for
a week: and after Christianity was introduced into Svithjod, the Things
and fairs were held there as before. After Christianity had taken
root in Svithjod, and the kings would no longer dwell in Upsala, the
market-time was moved to Candlemas, and it has since continued so, and
it lasts only three days. There is then the Swedish Thing also, and
people from all quarters come there. Svithjod is divided into many
parts. One part is West Gautland, Vermaland, and the Marks, with what
belongs to them; and this part of the kingdom is so large, that the
bishop who is set over it has 1100 churches under him. The other part is
East Gautland, where there is also a bishop's seat, to which the islands
of Gotland and Eyland belong; and forming all together a still greater
bishopric. In Svithjod itself there is a part of the country called
Sudermanland, where there is also a bishopric. Then comes Westmanland,
or Fiathrundaland, which is also a bishopric. The third portion of
Svithjod proper is called Tiundaland; the fourth Attandaland; the
fifth Sialand, and what belongs to it lies eastward along the coast.
Tiundaland is the best and most inhabited part of Svithjod, under which
the other kingdoms stand. There Upsala is situated, the seat of the king
and archbishop; and from it Upsala-audr, or the domain of the Swedish
kings, takes its name. Each of these divisions of the country has its
Lag-thing, and its own laws in many parts. Over each is a lagman, who
rules principally in affairs of the bondes: for that becomes law which
he, by his speech, determines them to make law: and if king, earl, or
bishop goes through the country, and holds a Thing with the bondes, the
lagmen reply on account of the bondes, and they all follow their lagmen;
so that even the most powerful men scarcely dare to come to their
Al-thing without regarding the bondes' and lagmen's law. And in all
matters in which the laws differ from each other, Upsala-law is the
directing law; and the other lagmen are under the lagman who dwells in


In Tiundaland there was a lagman who was called Thorgny, whose father
was called Thorgny Thorgnyson. His forefathers had for a long course of
years, and during many kings' times, been lagmen of Tiundaland. At this
time Thorgny was old, and had a great court about him. He was considered
one of the wisest men in Sweden, and was Earl Ragnvald's relation and


Now we must go back in our story to the time when the men whom the
king's daughter Ingegerd and Hjalte had sent from the east came to Earl
Ragnvald. They relate their errand to the earl and his wife Ingebjorg,
and tell how the king's daughter had oft spoken to the Swedish king
about a peace between him and King Olaf the Thick, and that she was a
great friend of King Olaf; but that the Swedish king flew into a passion
every time she named Olaf, so that she had no hopes of any peace. The
Earl told Bjorn the news he had received from the east; but Bjorn gave
the same reply, that he would not turn back until he had met the Swedish
king, and said the earl had promised to go with him. Now the winter was
passing fast, and immediately after Yule the earl made himself ready
to travel with sixty men, among whom where the marshal Bjorn and his
companions. The earl proceeded eastward all the way to Svithjod; but
when he came a little way into the country he sent his men before him
to Upsala with a message to Ingegerd the king's daughter to come out
to meet him at Ullaraker, where she had a large farm. When the king's
daughter got the earl's message she made herself ready immediately to
travel with a large attendance, and Hjalte accompanied her. But before
he took his departure he went to King Olaf, and said, "Continue always
to be the most fortunate of monarchs! Such splendour as I have seen
about thee I have in truth never witnessed elsewhere, and wheresoever I
come it shall not be concealed. Now, king, may I entreat thy favour and
friendship in time to come?"

The king replies, "Why art thou in so great a haste, and where art thou

Hjalte replies, "I am to ride out to Ullaraker with Ingegerd thy

The king says, "Farewell, then: a man thou art of understanding and
politeness, and well suited to live with people of rank."

Thereupon Hjalte withdrew.

The king's daughter Ingegerd rode to her farm in Ullaraker, and ordered
a great feast to be prepared for the earl. When the earl arrived he was
welcomed with gladness, and he remained there several days. The earl and
the king's daughter talked much, and of many things, but most about the
Swedish and Norwegian kings; and she told the earl that in her opinion
there was no hope of peace between them.

Then said the earl, "How wouldst thou like it, my cousin, if Olaf king
of Norway were to pay his addresses to thee? It appears to us that it
would contribute most towards a settled peace if there was relationship
established between the kings; but I would not support such a matter if
it were against thy inclination."

She replies, "My father disposes of my hand; but among all my other
relations thou art he whose advice I would rather follow in weighty
affairs. Dost thou think it would be advisable?" The earl recommended
it to her strongly, and reckoned up many excellent achievements of King
Olaf's. He told her, in particular, about what had lately been done;
that King Olaf in an hours time one morning had taken five kings
prisoners, deprived them all of their governments, and laid their
kingdoms and properties under his own power. Much they talked about the
business, and in all their conversations they perfectly agreed with each
other. When the earl was ready he took leave, and proceeded on his way,
taking Hjalte with him.


Earl Ragnvald came towards evening one day to the house of Lagman
Thorgny. It was a great and stately mansion, and many people stood
outside, who received the earl kindly, and took care of the horses
and baggage. The earl went into the room, where there was a number of
people. In the high-seat sat an old man; and never had Bjorn or his
companions seen a man so stout. His beard was so long that it lay upon
his knee, and was spread over his whole breast; and the man, moreover,
was handsome and stately in appearance. The earl went forward and
saluted him. Thorgny received him joyfully and kindly, and bade him go
to the seat he was accustomed to take. The earl seated himself on the
other side, opposite Thorgny. They remained there some days before the
earl disclosed his errand, and then he asked Thorgny to go with him into
the conversing room. Bjorn and his followers went there with the earl.
Then the earl began, and told how Olaf king of Norway had sent these men
hither to conclude a peaceful agreement. He showed at great length what
injury it was of to the West Gautland people, that there was hostility
between their country and Norway. He further related that Olaf the king
of Norway had sent ambassadors, who were here present, and to whom he
had promised he would attend them to the Swedish king; but he added,
"The Swedish king takes the matter so grievously, that he has uttered
menaces against those who entertain it. Now so it is, my foster-father,
that I do not trust to myself in this matter; but am come on a visit to
thee to get good counsel and help from thee in the matter."

Now when the earl had done speaking Thorgny sat silent for a while,
and then took up the word. "Ye have curious dispositions who are so
ambitious of honour and renown, and yet have no prudence or counsel in
you when you get into any mischief. Why did you not consider, before
you gave your promise to this adventure, that you had no power to stand
against King Olaf? In my opinion it is not a less honourable condition
to be in the number of bondes and have one's words free, and be able
to say what one will, even if the king be present. But I must go to the
Upsala Thing, and give thee such help that without fear thou canst speak
before the king what thou findest good."

The earl thanked him for the promise, remained with Thorgny, and rode
with him to the Upsala Thing. There was a great assemblage of people at
the Thing, and King Olaf was there with his court.


The first day the Thing sat, King Olaf was seated on a stool, and his
court stood in a circle around him. Right opposite to him sat Earl
Ragnvald and Thorgny in the Thing upon one stool, and before them the
earl's court and Thorgny's house-people. Behind their stool stood the
bonde community, all in a circle around them. Some stood upon hillocks
and heights, in order to hear the better. Now when the king's messages,
which are usually handled in the Things, were produced and settled, the
marshal Bjorn rose beside the earl's stool, and said aloud, "King Olaf
sends me here with the message that he will offer to the Swedish king
peace, and the frontiers that in old times were fixed between Norway and
Svithjod." He spoke so loud that the Swedish king could distinctly hear
him; but at first, when he heard King Olaf's name spoken, he thought the
speaker had some message or business of his own to execute; but when he
heard of peace, and the frontiers between Norway and Svithjod, he saw
from what root it came, and sprang up, and called out that the man
should be silent, for that such speeches were useless. Thereupon Bjorn
sat down; and when the noise had ceased Earl Ragnvald stood up and made
a speech.

He spoke of Olaf the Thick's message, and proposal of peace to Olaf the
Swedish king; and that all the West Gautland people sent their entreaty
to Olaf that he would make peace with the king of Norway. He recounted
all the evils the West Gautlanders were suffering under; that they must
go without all the things from Norway which were necessary in their
households; and, on the other hand, were exposed to attack and hostility
whenever the king of Norway gathered an army and made an inroad on them.
The earl added, that Olaf the Norway king had sent men hither with the
intent to obtain Ingegerd the king's daughter in marriage.

When the earl had done speaking Olaf the Swedish king stood up and
replied, and was altogether against listening to any proposals of peace,
and made many and heavy reproaches against the earl for his impudence
in entering into a peaceful truce with the thick fellow, and making up
a peaceful friendship with him, and which in truth he considered treason
against himself. He added, that it would be well deserved if Earl
Ragnvald were driven out of the kingdom. The earl had, in his opinion,
the influence of his wife Ingebjorg to thank for what might happen; and
it was the most imprudent fancy he could have fallen upon to take up
with such a wife. The king spoke long and bitterly, turning his speech
always against Olaf the Thick. When he sat down not a sound was to be
heard at first.


Then Thorgny stood up; and when he arose all the bondes stood up who
had before been sitting, and rushed together from all parts to listen to
what Lagman Thorgny would say. At first there was a great din of people
and weapons; but when the noise was settled into silent listening,
Thorguy made his speech. "The disposition of Swedish kings is different
now from what it has been formerly. My grandfather Thorgny could well
remember the Upsala king Eirik Eymundson, and used to say of him that
when he was in his best years he went out every summer on expeditions
to different countries, and conquered for himself Finland, Kirjalaland,
Courland, Esthonia, and the eastern countries all around; and at the
present day the earth-bulwarks, ramparts, and other great works which he
made are to be seen. And, more over, he was not so proud that he would
not listen to people who had anything to say to him. My father, again,
was a long time with King Bjorn, and was well acquainted with his ways
and manners. In Bjorn's lifetime his kingdom stood in great power, and
no kind of want was felt, and he was gay and sociable with his friends.
I also remember King Eirik the Victorious, and was with him on many
a war-expedition. He enlarged the Swedish dominion, and defended it
manfully; and it was also easy and agreeable to communicate our opinions
to him. But the king we have now got allows no man to presume to talk
with him, unless it be what he desires to hear. On this alone he applies
all his power, while he allows his scat-lands in other countries to
go from him through laziness and weakness. He wants to have the Norway
kingdom laid under him, which no Swedish king before him ever desired,
and therewith brings war and distress on many a man. Now it is our will,
we bondes, that thou King Olaf make peace with the Norway king, Olaf
the Thick, and marry thy daughter Ingegerd to him. Wilt thou, however,
reconquer the kingdoms in the east countries which thy relations and
forefathers had there, we will all for that purpose follow thee to the
war. But if thou wilt not do as we desire, we will now attack thee,
and put thee to death; for we will no longer suffer law and peace to be
disturbed. So our forefathers went to work when they drowned five
kings in a morass at the Mula-thing, and they were filled with the same
insupportable pride thou hast shown towards us. Now tell us, in all
haste, what resolution thou wilt take." Then the whole public approved,
with clash of arms and shouts, the lagman's speech.

The king stands up and says he will let things go according to the
desire of the bondes. "All Swedish kings," he said, "have done so, and
have allowed the bondes to rule in all according to their will." The
murmur among the bondes then came to an end, and the chiefs, the
king, the earl, and Thorgny talked together, and concluded a truce and
reconciliation, on the part of the Swedish king, according to the terms
which the king of Norway had proposed by his ambassadors; and it was
resolved at the Thing that Ingegerd, the king's daughter, should be
married to Olaf Haraldson. The king left it to the earl to make the
contract feast, and gave him full powers to conclude this marriage
affair; and after this was settled at the Thing, they separated. When
the earl returned homewards, he and the king's daughter Ingegerd had a
meeting, at which they talked between themselves over this matter. She
sent Olaf a long cloak of fine linen richly embroidered with gold, and
with silk points. The earl returned to Gautland, and Bjorn with him; and
after staying with him a short time, Bjorn and his company returned to
Norway. When he came to King Olaf he told him the result of his errand,
and the king returned him many thanks for his conduct, and said
Bjorn had had great success in bringing his errand to so favourabie a
conclusion against such animosity.


On the approach of spring (A.D. 1018) King Olaf went down to the coast,
had his ships rigged out, summoned troops to him, and proceeded in
spring out from Viken to the Naze, and so north to Hordaland. He then
sent messages to all the lendermen, selected the most considerable men
in each district, and made the most splendid preparations to meet his
bride. The wedding-feast was to be in autumn, at the Gaut river, on the
frontiers of the two countries. King Olaf had with him the blind king
Hrorek. When his wound was healed, the king gave him two men to serve
him, let him sit in the high-seat by his side, and kept him in meat and
clothes in no respect Norse than he had kept himself before. Hrorek was
taciturn, and answered short and cross when any one spoke to him. It was
his custom to make his footboy, when he went out in the daytime, lead
him away from people, and then to beat the lad until he ran away. He
would then complain to King Olaf that the lad would not serve him. The
king changed his servants, but it was as before; no servant would hold
it out with King Hrorek. Then the king appointed a man called Svein
to wait upon and serve King Hrorek. He was Hrorek's relation, and
had formerly been in his service. Hrorek continued with his habits of
moroseness, and of solitary walks; but when he and Svein were alone
together, he was merry and talkative. He used to bring up many things
which had happened in former days when he was king. He alluded, too,
to the man who had, in his former days, torn him from his kingdom and
happiness, and made him live on alms. "It is hardest of all," says he,
"that thou and my other relations, who ought to be men of bravery, are
so degenerated that thou wilt not avenge the shame and disgrace brought
upon our race." Such discourse he often brought out. Svein said, they
had too great a power to deal with, while they themselves had but little
means. Hrorek said, "Why should we live longer as mutilated men with
disgrace? I, a blind man, may conquer them as well as they conquered
me when I was asleep. Come then, let us kill this thick Olaf. He is not
afraid for himself at present. I will lay the plan, and would not
spare my hands if I could use them, but that I cannot by reason of my
blindness; therefore thou must use the weapons against him, and as soon
as Olaf is killed I can see well enough that his power must come into
the hands of his enemies, and it may well be that I shall be king, and
thou shalt be my earl." So much persuasion he used that Svein at last
agreed to join in the deed. The plan was so laid that when the king was
ready to go to vespers, Svein stood on the threshold with a drawn dagger
under his cloak. Now when the king came out of the room, it so happened
that he walked quicker than Svein expected; and when he looked the king
in the face he grew pale, and then white as a corpse, and his hand sank
down. The king observed his terror and said, "What is this, Svein? Wilt
thou betray me?" Svein threw down his cloak and dagger, and fell at the
king's feet, saying, "All is in Gods hands and thine, king!" The king
ordered his men to seize Svein, and he was put in irons. The king
ordered Hrorek's seat to be moved to another bench. He gave Svein his
life, and he left the country. The king appointed a different lodging
for Hrorek to sleep in from that in which he slept himself, and in which
many of his court-people slept. He set two of his court-men, who had
been long with him, and whose fidelity he had proof of, to attend Hrorek
day and night; but it is not said whether they were people of high
birth or not. King Hrorek's mood was very different at different times.
Sometimes he would sit silent for days together, so that no man could
get a word out of him; and sometimes he was so merry and gay, that
people found a joke in every word he said. Sometimes his words were very
bitter. He was sometimes in a mood that he would drink them all under
the benches, and made all his neighbours drunk; but in general he drank
but little. King Olaf gave him plenty of pocket-money. When he went to
his lodgings he would often, before going to bed, have some stoups of
mead brought in, which he gave to all the men in the house to drink, so
that he was much liked.


There was a man from the Uplands called Fin the Little, and some said of
him that he was of Finnish (1) race. He was a remarkable little man, but
so swift of foot that no horse could overtake him. He was a particularly
well-excercised runner with snow-shoes, and shooter with the bow. He had
long been in the service of King Hrorek, and often employed in errands
of trust. He knew the roads in all the Upland hills, and was well known
to all the great people. Now when King Hrorek was set under guards on
the journey Fin would often slip in among the men of the guard, and
followed, in general, with the lads and serving-men; but as often as he
could he waited upon Hrorek, and entered into conversation with him. The
king, however, only spoke a word or two with him at a time, to prevent
suspicion. In spring, when they came a little way beyond Viken, Fin
disappeared from the army for some days, but came back, and stayed
with them a while. This happened often, without anyone observing it
particularly; for there were many such hangers-on with the army.

   ENDNOTES: (1) The Laplanders are called Fins In Norway and Sweden.--L.


King Olaf came to Tunsberg before Easter (A.D. 1018), and remained
there late in spring. Many merchant vessels came to the town, both from
Saxon-land and Denmark, and from Viken, and from the north parts of the
country. There was a great assemblage of people; and as the times were
good, there was many a drinking meeting. It happened one evening that
King Hrorek came rather late to his lodging; and as he had drunk a great
deal, he was remarkably merry. Little Fin came to him with a stoup of
mead with herbs in it, and very strong. The king made every one in the
house drunk, until they fell asleep each in his berth. Fin had gone
away, and a light was burning in the lodging. Hrorek waked the men who
usually followed him, and told them he wanted to go out into the yard.
They had a lantern with them, for outside it was pitch dark. Out in the
yard there was a large privy standing upon pillars, and a stair to go
up to it. While Hrorek and his guards were in the yard they heard a man
say, "Cut down that devil;" and presently a crash, as if somebody fell.
Hrorek said, "These fellows must be dead drunk to be fighting with each
other so: run and separate them." They rushed out; but when they came
out upon the steps both of them were killed: the man who went out the
last was the first killed. There were twelve of Hrorek's men there, and
among them Sigurd Hit, who had been his banner-man, and also little
Fin. They drew the dead bodies up between the houses, took the king with
them, ran out to a boat they had in readiness, and rowed away. Sigvat
the skald slept in King Olaf's lodgings. He got up in the night, and his
footboy with him, and went to the privy. But as they were returning, on
going down the stairs Sigvat's foot slipped, and he fell on his knee;
and when he put out his hands he felt the stairs wet. "I think," said
he, laughing, "the king must have given many of us tottering legs
tonight." When they came into the house in which light was burning the
footboy said, "Have you hurt yourself that you are all over so bloody?"
He replied, "I am not wounded, but something must have happened here."
Thereupon he wakened Thord Folason, who was standard-bearer, and his
bedfellow. They went out with a light, and soon found the blood. They
traced it, and found the corpses, and knew them. They saw also a great
stump of a tree in which clearly a gash had been cut, which, as was
afterwards known, had been done as a stratagem to entice those out
who had been killed. Sigvat and Thord spoke together and agreed it
was highly necessary to let the king know of this without delay. They
immediately sent a lad to the lodging where Hrorek had been. All the men
in it were asleep; but the king was gone. He wakened the men who were in
the house, and told them what had happened. The men arose, and ran out
to the yard where the bodies were; but, however needful it appeared to
be that the king should know it, nobody dared to waken him.

Then said Sigvat to Thord, "What wilt thou rather do, comrade, waken the
king, or tell him the tidings?"

Thord replies, "I do not dare to waken him, and I would rather tell him
the news."

Then said Sigvat, "There is minch of the night still to pass, and before
morning Hrorek may get himself concealed in such a way that it may be
difficult to find him; but as yet he cannot be very far off, for the
bodies are still warm. We must never let the disgrace rest upon us of
concealing this treason from the king. Go thou, up to the lodging, and
wait for me there."

Sigvat then went to the church, and told the bell-ringer to toll for
the souls of the king's court-men, naming the men who were killed.
The-bell-ringer did as he was told. The king awoke at the ringing, sat
up in his bed, and asked if it was already the hours of matins.

Thord replies, "It is worse than that, for there has occurred a very
important affair. Hrorek is fled, and two of the court-men are killed."

The king asked how this had taken place, and Thord told him all he knew.
The king got up immediately, ordered to sound the call for a meeting of
the court, and when the people were assembled he named men to go out
to every quarter from the town, by sea and land, to search for Hrorek.
Thorer Lange took a boat, and set off with thirty men; and when day
dawned they saw two small boats before them in the channel, and when
they saw each other both parties rowed as hard as they could. King
Hrorek was there with thirty men. When they came quite close to each
other Hrorek and his men turned towards the land, and all sprang on
shore except the king, who sat on the aft seat. He bade them farewell,
and wished they might meet each other again in better luck. At the same
moment Thorer with his company rowed to the land. Fin the Little shot
off an arrow, which hit Thorer in the middle of the body, and was his
death; and Sigurd Hit, with his men, ran up into the forest. Thorer's
men took his body, and transported it, together with Hrorek, to
Tunsberg. King Olaf undertook himself thereafter to look after King
Hrorek, made him be carefully guarded, and took good care of his
treason, for which reason he had a watch over him night and day. King
Hrorek thereafter was very gay, and nobody could observe but that he was
in every way well satisfied.


It happened on Ascension-day that King Olaf went to high mass, and the
bishop went in procession around the church, and conducted the king; and
when they came back to the church the bishop led the king to his seat
on the north side of the choir. There Hrorek sat next to the king,
and concealed his countenance in his upper cloak. When Olaf had seated
himself Hrorek laid his hand on the king's shoulder, and felt it.

"Thou hast fine clothes on, cousin, today," said he.

King Olaf replies, "It is a festival today, in remembrance that Jesus
Christ ascended to heaven from earth."

King Hrorek says, "I understand nothing about it so as to hold in my
mind what ye tell me about Christ. Much of what ye tell me appears to me
incredible, although many wonderful things may have come to pass in old

When the mass was finished Olaf stood up, held his hands up over his
head, and bowed down before the altar, so that his cloak hung down
behind his shoulders. Then King Hrorek started up hastily and sharply,
and struck at the king with a long knife of the kind called ryting; but
the blow was received in the upper cloak at the shoulder, because the
king was bending himself forwards. The clothes were much cut, but the
king was not wounded. When the king perceived the attack he sprang upon
the floor; and Hrorek struck at him again with the knife, but did not
reach him, and said, "Art thou flying, Olaf, from me, a blind men?" The
king ordered his men to seize him and lead him out of the church, which
was done. After this attempt many hastened to King Olaf, and advised
that King Hrorek should be killed. "It is," said they, "tempting your
luck in the highest degree, king, to keep him with you, and protect him,
whatever mischief he may undertake; for night and day he thinks upon
taking your life. And if you send him away, we know no one who can watch
him so that he will not in all probability escape; and if once he gets
loose he will assemble a great multitude, and do much evil."

The king replies, "You say truly that many a one has suffered death for
less offence than Hrorek's; but willingly I would not darken the victory
I gained over the Upland kings, when in one morning hour I took five
kings prisoners, and got all their kingdoms: but yet, as they were my
relations, I should not be their murderer but upon need. As yet I can
scarcely see whether Hrorek puts me in the necessity of killing him or

It was to feel if King Olaf had armour on or not that Hrorek had laid
his hand on the king's shoulder.


There was an Iceland man, by name Thorarin Nefiulfson, who had his
relations in the north of the country. He was not of high birth, but
particularly prudent, eloquent, and agreeable in conversation with
people of distinction. He was also a far-travelled man, who had been
long in foreign parts. Thorarin was a remarkably ugly man, principally
because he had very ungainly limbs. He had great ugly hands, and
his feet were still uglier. Thorarin was in Tunsberg when this event
happened which has just been related, and he was known to King Olaf by
their having had conversations together. Thorarin was just then done
with rigging out a merchant vessel which he owned, and with which he
intended to go to Iceland in summer. King Olaf had Thorarin with him as
a guest for some days, and conversed much with him; and Thorarin even
slept in the king's lodgings. One morning early the king awoke while
the others were still sleeping. The sun had newly risen in the sky, and
there was much light within. The king saw that Thorarin had stretched
out one of his feet from under the bed-clothes, and he looked at the
foot a while. In the meantime the others in the lodging awoke; and the
king said to Thorarin, "I have been awake for a while, and have seen a
sight which was worth seeing; and that is a man's foot so ugly that I
do not think an uglier can be found in this merchant town." Thereupon he
told the others to look at it, and see if it was not so; and all agreed
with the king. When Thorarin observed what they were talking about, he
said, "There are few things for which you cannot find a match, and that
may be the case here."

The king says, "I would rather say that such another ugly foot cannot be
found in the town, and I would lay any wager upon it."

Then said Thorarin, "I am willing to bet that I shall find an uglier
foot still in the town."

The king--"Then he who wins shall have the right to get any demand from
the other he chooses to make."

"Be it so," said Thorarin. Thereupon he stretches out his other foot
from under the bed-clothes, and it was in no way handsomer than the
other, and moreover, wanted the little toe. "There," said Thorarin, "see
now, king, my other foot, which is so much uglier; and, besides, has no
little toe. Now I have won."

The king replies, "That other foot was so much uglier than this one by
having five ugly toes upon it, and this has only four; and now I have
won the choice of asking something from thee."

"The sovereign's decision must be right," says Thorarin; "but what does
the king require of me?"

"To take Hrorek," said the king, "to Greenland, and deliver him to Leif

Thorarin replies, "I have never been in Greenland."

The king--"Thou, who art a far-travelled man, wilt now have an
opportunity of seeing Greenland, if thou hast never been there before."

At first Thorarin did not say much about it; but as the king insisted
on his wish he did not entirely decline, but said, "I will let you hear,
king, what my desire would have been had I gained the wager. It would
have been to be received into your body of court-men; and if you
will grant me that, I will be the more zealous now in fulfilling your
pleasure." The king gave his consent, and Thorarin was made one of the
court-men. Then Thorarin rigged out his vessel, and when he was ready
he took on board King Hrorek. When Thorarin took leave of King Olaf,
he said, "Should it now turn out, king, as is not improbable, and often
happens, that we cannot effect the voyage to Greenland, but must run for
Iceland or other countries, how shall I get rid of this king in a way
that will be satisfactory to you?"

The king--"If thou comest to Iceland, deliver him into the hands of
Gudmund Eyolfson, or of Skapte, the lagman, or of some other chief who
will receive my tokens and message of friendship. But if thou comest to
other countries nearer to this, do so with him that thou canst know with
certainty that King Hrorek never again shall appear in Norway; but do so
only when thou seest no other way of doing whatsoever."

When Thorarin was ready for sea, and got a wind, he sailed outside of
all the rocks and islands, and when he was to the north of the Naze set
right out into the ocean. He did not immediately get a good wind, but
he avoided coming near the land. He sailed until he made land which he
knew, in the south part of Iceland, and sailed west around the land out
into the Greenland ocean.

There he encountered heavy storms, and drove long about upon the ocean;
but when summer was coming to an end he landed again in Iceland in
Breidafjord. Thorgils Arason (1) was the first man of any consequence
who came to him. Thorarin brings him the king's salutation, message,
and tokens, with which was the desire about King Hrorek's reception.
Thorgils received these in a friendly way, and invited King Hrorek to
his house, where he stayed all winter. But he did not like being there,
and begged that Thorgils would let him go to Gudmund; saying he had
heard some time or other that there in Gudmund's house, was the most
sumptuous way of living in Iceland, and that it was intended he should
be in Gudmund's hands. Thorgils let him have his desire, and conducted
him with some men to Gudmund at Modruveller. Gudmund received Hrorek
kindly on account of the king's message, and he stayed there the next
winter. He did not like being there either; and then Gudmund gave him a
habitation upon a small farm called Kalfskin, where there were but few
neighbours. There Hrorek passed the third winter, and said that since he
had laid down his kingdom he thought himself most comfortably situated
here; for here he was most respected by all. The summer after Hrorek
fell sick, and died; and it is said he is the only king whose bones
rest in Iceland. Thorarin Nefiulfson was afterwards for a long time upon
voyages; but sometimes he was with King Olaf.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Thorgils was the son of Are Marson, who visited America
     (Vindland).  Thorgils, who was still alive in the year 1024,
     was noted for his kindness toward all persecuted persons.


The summer that Thorarin went with Hrorek to Iceland, Hjalte Skeggjason
went also to Iceland, and King Olaf gave him many friendly gifts
with him when they parted. The same summer Eyvind Urarhorn went on an
expedition to the west sea, and came in autumn to Ireland, to the Irish
king Konofogor (1). In autumn Einar earl of Orkney and this Irish king
met in Ulfreks-fjord, and there was a great battle, in which Konofogor
gained the victory, having many more people. The earl fled with a single
ship and came back about autumn to Orkney, after losing most of his men
and all the booty they had made. The earl was much displeased with his
expedition, and threw the blame upon the Northmen, who had been in the
battle on the side of the Irish king, for making him lose the victory.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Konofogor's Irish name was Connor.


Now we begin again our story where we let it slip--at King Olaf's
travelling to his bridal, to receive his betrothed Ingegerd the king's
daughter. The king had a great body of men with him, and so chosen a
body that all the great people he could lay hold of followed him; and
every man of consequence had a chosen band of men with him distinguished
by birth or other qualifications. The whole were well appointed,
and equipped in ships, weapons, and clothes. They steered the fleet
eastwards to Konungahella; but when they arrived there they heard
nothing of the Swedish king and none of his men had come there. King
Olaf remained a long time in summer (A.D. 1018) at Konungahella, and
endeavored carefully to make out what people said of the Swedish king's
movements, or what were his designs; but no person could tell him
anything for certain about it. Then he sent men up to Gautland to Earl
Ragnvald, to ask him if he knew how it came to pass that the Swedish
king did not come to the meeting agreed on. The earl replies, that he
did not know. "But as soon," said he, "as I hear, I shall send some of
my men to King Olaf, to let him know if there be any other cause for
the delay than the multitude of affairs; as it often happens that the
Swedish king's movements are delayed by this more than he could have


This Swedish king, Olaf Eirikson, had first a concubine who was called
Edla, a daughter of an earl of Vindland, who had been captured in war,
and therefore was called the king's slave-girl. Their children were
Emund, Astrid, Holmfrid.... They had, besides, a son, who was born the
day before St. Jacob's-day. When the boy was to be christened the bishop
called him Jacob, which the Swedes did not like, as there never had been
a Swedish king called Jacob. All King Olaf's children were handsome in
appearance, and clever from childhood. The queen was proud, and did not
behave well towards her step-children; therefore the king sent his son
Emund to Vindland, to be fostered by his mother's relations, where he
for a long time neglected his Christianity. The king's daughter, Astrid,
was brought up in West Gautland, in the house of a worthy man called
Egil. She was a very lovely girl: her words came well into her
conversation; she was merry, but modest, and very generous. When she was
grown up she was often in her father's house, and every man thought well
of her. King Olaf was haughty and harsh in his speech. He took very ill
the uproar and clamour the country people had raised against him at the
Upsala Thing, as they had threatened him with violence, for which he
laid the chief blame on Earl Ragnvald. He made no preparation for the
bridal, according to the agreement to marry his daughter Ingegerd
to Olaf the king of Norway, and to meet him on the borders for that
purpose. As the summer advanced many of his men were anxious to know
what the kings intentions were; whether to keep to the agreement with
King Olaf, or break his word, and with it the peace of the country. But
no one was so bold as to ask the king, although they complained of it
to Ingegerd, and besought her to find out what the king intended. She
replied "I have no inclination to speak to the king again about the
matters between him and King Olaf; for he answered me ill enough once
before when I brought forward Olaf's name." In the meantime Ingegerd,
the king's daughter, took it to heart, became melancholy and sorrowful
and yet very curious to know what the king intended. She had much
suspicion that he would not keep his word and promise to King Olaf; for
he appeared quite enraged whenever Olaf the Thick's name was in any way


One morning early the king rode out with his dogs and falcons, and his
men around him. When they let slip the falcons the king's falcon killed
two black-cocks in one flight, and three in another. The dogs ran and
brought the birds when they had fallen to the ground. The king ran after
them, took the game from them himself, was delighted with his sport, and
said, "It will be long before the most of you have such success." They
agreed in this; adding, that in their opinion no king had such luck in
hunting as he had. Then the king rode home with his followers in high
spirits. Ingegerd, the king's daughter, was just going out of her
lodging when the king came riding into the yard, and she turned round
and saluted him. He saluted her in return, laughing; produced the birds,
and told her the success of his chase.

"Dost thou know of any king," said he, "who made so great a capture in
so short a time?"

"It is indeed," replied she, "a good morning's hunting, to have got five
black-cocks; but it was a still better when, in one morning, the king of
Norway, Olaf, took five kings, and subdued all their kingdoms."

When the king heard this he sprang from his horse, turned to Ingegerd,
and said, "Thou shalt know, Ingegerd, that however great thy love may
be for this man, thou shalt never get him, nor he get thee. I will marry
thee to some chief with whom I can be in friendship; but never can I be
a friend of the man who has robbed me of my kingdom, and done me great
mischief by marauding and killing through the land." With that their
conversation broke off, and each went away.


Ingegerd, the king's daughter, had now full certainty of King Olaf's
intention, and immediately sent men to West Gautland to Earl Ragnvald,
and let him know how it stood with the Swedish king, and that the
agreement made with the king of Norway was broken; and advising the earl
and people of West Gautland to be upon their guard, as no peace from the
people of Norway was to be expected. When the earl got this news he sent
a message through all his kingdom, and told the people to be cautious,
and prepared in case of war or pillage from the side of Norway. He also
sent men to King Olaf the Thick, and let him know the message he had
received, and likewise that he wished for himself to hold peace and
friendship with King Olaf; and therefore he begged him not to pillage in
his kingdom. When this message came to King Olaf it made him both angry
and sorry; and for some days nobody got a word from him. He then held
a House-Thing with his men, and in it Bjorn arose, and first took the
word. He began his speech by telling that he had proceeded eastward last
winter to establish a peace, and he told how kindly Earl Ragnvald
had received him; and, on the other hand, how crossly and heavily the
Swedish king had accepted the proposal. "And the agreement," said he,
"which was made, was made more by means of the strength of the people,
the power of Thorgny, and the aid of the earl, than by the king's
good-will. Now, on these grounds, we know for certain that it is the
king who has caused the breach of the agreement; therefore we ought
by no means to make the earl suffer, for it is proved that he is King
Olaf's firm friend." The king wished now to hear from the chiefs and
other leaders of troops what course he should adopt. "Whether shall we
go against Gautland, and maraud there with such men as we have got; or
is there any other course that appears to you more advisable?" He spoke
both long and well.

Thereafter many powerful men spoke, and all were at last agreed in
dissuading from hostilities. They argued thus:--"Although we are a
numerous body of men who are assembled here, yet they are all only
people of weight and power; but, for a war expedition, young men who are
in quest of property and consideration are more suitable. It is also
the custom of people of weight and power, when they go into battle or
strife, to have many people with them whom they can send out before
them for their defence; for the men do not fight worse who have little
property, but even better than those who are brought up in the midst of
wealth." After these considerations the king resolved to dismiss this
army from any expedition, and to give every man leave to return home;
but proclaimed, at the same time, that next summer the people over
the whole country would be called out in a general levy, to march
immediately against the Swedish king, and punish him for his want of
faith. All thought well of this plan. Then the king returned northwards
to Viken, and took his abode at Sarpsborg in autumn, and ordered all
things necessary for winter provision to be collected there; and he
remained there all winter (A.D. 1019) with a great retinue.


People talked variously about Earl Ragnvald; some said he was King
Olaf's sincere friend; others did not think this likely, and thought it
stood in his power to warn the Swedish king to keep his word, and the
agreement concluded on between him and King Olaf. Sigvat the poet often
expressed himself in conversation as Earl Ragnvald's great friend, and
often spoke of him to King Olaf; and he offered to the king to travel to
Earl Ragnvald's and spy after the Swedish kings doings, and to attempt,
if possible, to get the settlement of the agreement. The king thought
well of this plan; for he oft, and with pleasure, spoke to his
confidential friends about Ingegerd, the king's daughter. Early
in winter (A.D. 1019) Sigvat the skald, with two companions, left
Sarpsborg, and proceeded eastwards over the moors to Gautland. Before
Sigvat and King Olaf parted he composed these verses:--

     "Sit happy in thy hall, O king!
     Till I come back, and good news bring:
     The skald will bid thee now farewell,
     Till he brings news well worth to tell.
     He wishes to the helmed hero
     Health, and long life, and a tull flow
     Of honour, riches, and success--
     And, parting, ends his song with this.
     The farewell word is spoken now __
     The word that to the heart lies nearest;
     And yet, O king!  before I go,
     One word on what I hold the dearest,
     I fain would say, "O!  may God save
     To thee the bravest of the brave,
     The land, which is thy right by birth!"
     This is my dearest with on earth."

Then they proceeded eastwards towards Eid, and had difficulty in
crossing the river in a little cobble; but they escaped, though with
danger: and Sigvat sang:--

     "On shore the crazy boat I drew,
     Wet to the skin, and frightened too;
     For truly there was danger then;
     The mocking hill elves laughed again.
     To see us in this cobble sailing,
     And all our sea-skill unavailing.
     But better did it end, you see,
     Than any of us could foresee."

Then they went through the Eid forest, and Sigvat sang:--

     "A hundred miles through Eid's old wood,
     And devil an alehouse, bad or good,--
     A hundred miles, and tree and sky
     Were all that met the weary eye.
     With many a grumble, many a groan.
     A hundred miles we trudged right on;
     And every king's man of us bore
     On each foot-sole a bleeding sore."

They came then through Gautland, and in the evening reached a farm-house
called Hof. The door was bolted so that they could not come in; and the
servants told them it was a fast-day, and they could not get admittance.
Sigvat sang:--

     "Now up to Hof in haste I hie,
     And round the house and yard I pry.
     Doors are fast locked--but yet within,
     Methinks, I hear some stir and din.
     I peep, with nose close to the ground.
     Below the door, but small cheer found.
     My trouble with few words was paid--
     "'Tis holy time,' the house-folkd said.
     Heathens!  to shove me thus away!
     I' the foul fiend's claws may you all lay."

Then they came to another farm, where the good-wife was standing at the
door, and told them not to come in, for they were busy with a sacrifice
to the elves. Sigvat sang of it thus:--

     "'My poor lad, enter not, I pray!'
     Thus to me did the old wife say;
     'For all of us are heathens here,
     And I for Odin's wrath do fear.'
     The ugly witch drove me away,
     Like scared wolf sneaking from his prey.
     When she told me that there within
     Was sacrifice to foul Odin."

Another evening, they came to three bondes, all of them of the name of
Olver, who drove them away. Sigvat sang:--

     "Three of one name,
     To their great shame,
     The traveller late
     Drove from their gate!
     Travellers may come
     From our viking-home,
     Unbidden guests
     At these Olvers' feasts."

They went on farther that evening, and came to a fourth bonde, who was
considered the most hospitable man in the country; but he drove them
away also. Then Sigvat sang:--

     "Then on I went to seek night's rest
     From one who was said to be the best,
     The kindest host in the land around,
     And there I hoped to have quarters found.
     But, faith,'twas little use to try;
     For not so much as raise an eye
     Would this huge wielder of the spade:
     If he's the hest, it must be said
     Bad is the best, and the skald's praise
     Cannot be given to churls like these.
     I almost wished that Asta's son
     In the Eid forest had been one
     When we, his men, were even put
     Lodging to crave in a heathen's hut.
     I knew not where the earl to find;
     Four times driven off by men unkind,
     I wandered now the whole night o'er,
     Driven like a dog from door to door."

Now when they came to Earl Ragnvald's the earl said they must have had a
severe journey. Then Sigvat sang:--

     "The message-bearers of the king
     From Norway came his words to bring;
     And truly for their master they
     Hard work have done before to-day.
     We did not loiter on the road,
     But on we pushed for thy abode:
     Thy folk, in sooth, were not so kind
     That we cared much to lag hehind.
     But Eid to rest safe we found,
     From robbers free to the eastern bound:
     This praise to thee, great earl, is due--
     The skald says only what is true."

Earl Ragnvald gave Sigvat a gold arm-ring, and a woman said "he had not
made the journey with his black eyes for nothing." Sigvat sang:--

     "My coal-black eyes
     Dost thou despise?
     They have lighted me
     Across the sea
     To gain this golden prize:
     They have lighted me,
     Thy eyes to see,
     O'er Iceland's main,
     O'er hill and plain:
     Where Nanna's lad would fear to be
     They have lighted me."

Sigvat was long entertained kindly and well in the house of Earl
Ragnvald. The earl heard by letters, sent by Ingegerd the king's
daughter, that ambassadors from King Jarisleif were come from Russia to
King Olaf of Svithjod to ask his daughter Ingegerd in marriage, and that
King Olaf had given them hopes that he would agree to it. About the same
time King Olaf's daughter Astrid came to Earl Ragnvald's court, and
a great feast was made for her. Sigvat soon became acquainted by
conversation with the king's daughter, and she knew him by name and
family, for Ottar the skald, Sigvat's sister's son, had long intimate
acquaintance with King Olaf, the Swedish king. Among other things talked
of, Earl Ragnvald asked Sigvat if the king of Norway would not marry the
king's daughter Astrid. "If he would do that," said he, "I think we need
not ask the Swedish king for his consent." Astrid, the kings daughter,
said exactly the same. Soon after Sigvat returns home, and comes to King
Olaf at Sarpsborg a little before Yule.

When Sigvat came home to King Olaf he went into the hall, and, looking
around on the walls, he sang:--

     "When our men their arms are taking
     The raven's wings with greed are shaking;
     When they come back to drink in hall
     Brave spoil they bring to deck the wall--
     Shield, helms, and panzers (1), all in row,
     Stripped in the field from lifeless fow.
     In truth no royal nail comes near
     Thy splendid hall in precious gear."

Afterwards Sigvat told of his journey, and sang these verses:--

     "The king's court-guards desire to hear
     About our journey and our cheer,
     Our ships in autumn reach the sound,
     But long the way to Swedish ground.
     With joyless weather, wind and raind,
     And pinching cold, and feet in pain--
     With sleep, fatigue, and want oppressed,
     No songs had we--we scarce had rest."

And when he came into conversation with the king he sang:--

     "When first I met the earl I told
     How our king loved a friend so bold;
     How in his heart he loved a man
     With hand to do, and head to plan.
     Thou generous king!  with zeal and care
     I sought to advance thy great affair;
     For messengers from Russian land
     Had come to ask Ingegerd's hand.
     The earl, thy friend, bids thee, who art
     So mild and generous of heart,
     His servants all who here may come
     To cherish in thy royal home;
     And thine who may come to the east
     In Ragnvald's hall shall find a feast--
     In Ragnvald's house shall find a home--
     At Ragnvald's court be still welcome.
     When first I came the people's mind
     Incensed by Eirik's son I find;
     And he refused the wish to meet,
     Alleging treachery and deceit.
     But I explained how it was here,
     For earl and king, advantage clear
     With thee to hold the strictest peace,
     And make all force and foray cease.
     The earl is wise, and understands
     The need of peace for both the lands;
     And he entreats thee not to break
     The present peace for vengeance's sake!"

He immediately tells King Olaf the news he had heard; and at first the
king was much cast down when he heard of King Jarisleif's suit, and he
said he expected nothing but evil from King Olaf; but wished he might
be able to return it in such a way as Olaf should remember. A while
afterwards the king asks Sigvat about various news from Gautland. Sigvat
spoke a great deal about Astrid, the kings daughter; how beautiful she
was, how agreeable in her conversation; and that all declared she was in
no respect behind her sister Ingegerd. The king listened with pleasure
to this. Then Sigvat told him the conversation he and Astrid had had
between themselves, and the king was delighted at the idea. "The
Swedish king," said he, "will scarcely think that I will dare to marry
a daughter of his without his consent." But this speech of his was not
known generally. King Olaf and Sigvat the skald often spoke about
it. The king inquired particularly of Sigvat what he knew about Earl
Ragnvald, and "if he be truly our friend," said the king. Sigvat said
that the earl was King Olaf's best friend, and sang these verses:--

     "The mighty Olaf should not cease
     With him to hold good terms and peace;
     For this good earl unwearied shows
     He is thy friend where all are foes.
     Of all who dwell by the East Sea
     So friendly no man is as he:
     At all their Things he takes thy part,
     And is thy firm friend, hand and heart."

   ENDNOTES: (1) The Pantzer--a complete suit of plate-armour.


After Yule (A.D. 1019), Thord Skotakol, a sister's son of Sigvat,
attended by one of Sigvat's footboys, who had been with Sigvat the
autumn before in Gautland, went quite secretly from the court, and
proceeded to Gautland. When they came to Earl Ragnvald's court, they
produced the tokens which Olaf himself had sent to the earl, that he
might place confidence in Thord. Without delay the earl made himself
ready for a journey, as did Astrid, the king's daughter; and the earl
took with him 120 men, who were chosen both from among his courtmen and
the sons of great bondes, and who were carefully equipped in all things,
clothes, weapons, and horses. Then they rode northwards to Sarpsborg,
and came there at Candlemas.


King Olaf had put all things in order in the best style. There were
all sorts of liquors of the best that could be got, and all other
preparations of the same quality. Many people of consequence were
summoned in from their residences. When the earl arrived with his
retinue the king received him particularly well; and the earl was shown
to a large, good, and remarkably well-furnished house for his lodging;
and serving-men and others were appointed to wait on him; and nothing
was wanting, in any respect, that could grace a feast. Now when the
entertainment had lasted some days, the king, the earl, and Astrid had
a conference together; and the result of it was, that Earl Ragnvald
contracted Astrid, daughter of the Swedish king Olaf, to Olaf king
of Norway, with the same dowry which had before been settled that her
sister Ingegerd should have from home. King Olaf, on his part, should
give Astrid the same bride-gift that had been intended for her sister
Ingegerd. Thereupon an eke was made to the feast, and King Olaf and
Queen Astrid's wedding was drunk in great festivity. Earl Ragnvald then
returned to Gautland, and the king gave the earl many great and good
gifts at parting; and they parted the dearest of friends, which they
continued to be while they lived.


The spring (A.D. 1019) thereafter came ambassadors from King Jarisleif
in Novgorod to Svithjod, to treat more particularly about the promise
given by King Olaf the preceding summer to marry his daughter Ingegerd
to King Jarisleif. King Olaf tallied about the business with Ingegerd,
and told her it was his pleasure that she should marry King Jarisleif.
She replied. "If I marry King Jarisleif, I must have as my bride-gift
the town and earldom of Ladoga." The Russian ambassadors agreed to this,
on the part of their sovereign. Then said Ingegerd, "If I go east to
Russia, I must choose the man in Svithjod whom I think most suitable
to accompany me; and I must stipulate that he shall not have any less
title, or in any respect less dignity, privilege, and consideration
there, than he has, here." This the king and the ambassadors agreed to,
and gave their hands upon it in confirmation of the condition.

"And who," asked the king, "is the man thou wilt take with thee as thy

"That man," she replied, "is my relation Earl Ragnvald."

The king replies, "I have resolved to reward Earl Ragnvald in a
different manner for his treason against his master in going to Norway
with my daughter, and giving her as a concubine to that fellow, who he
knew was my greatest enemy. I shall hang him up this summer."

Then Ingegerd begged her father to be true to the promise he had made
her, and had confirmed by giving his hand upon it. By her entreaties it
was at last agreed that the king should promise to let Earl Ragnvald
go in peace from Svithjod, but that he should never again appear in the
king's presence, or come back to Svithjod while Olaf reigned. Ingegerd
then sent messengers to the earl to bring him these tidings, and to
appoint a place of meeting. The earl immediately prepared for his
journey; rode up to East Gautland; procured there a vessel, and, with
his retinue, joined Ingegerd, and they proceeded together eastward to
Russia. There Ingegerd was married to King Jarisleif; and their children
were Valdemar, Vissivald, and Holte the Bold. Queen Ingegerd gave Earl
Ragnvald the town of Ladoga, and earldom belonging to it. Earl
Ragnvald was there a long time, and was a celebrated man. His sons and
Ingebjorg's were Earl Ulf and Earl Eilif.


There was a man called Emund of Skara, who was lagman of west Gautland,
and was a man of great understanding and eloquence, and of high birth,
great connection, and very wealthy; but was considered deceitful, and
not to be trusted. He was the most powerful man in West Gautland after
the earl was gone. The same spring (A.D. 1019) that Earl Ragnvald left
Gautland the Gautland people held a Thing among themselves, and often
expressed their anxiety to each other about what the Swedish king
might do. They heard he was incensed because they had rather held in
friendship with the king of Norway than striven against him; and he
was also enraged against those who had attended his daughter Astrid to
Norway. Some proposed to seek help and support from the king of Norway,
and to offer him their services; others dissuaded from this measure, as
West Gautland had no strength to oppose to the Swedes. "And the king of
Norway," said they, "is far from us, the chief strength of his country
very distant; and therefore let us first send men to the Swedish king
to attempt to come to some reconciliation with him. If that fail, we
can still turn to the king of Norway." Then the bondes asked Emund to
undertake this mission, to which he agreed; and he proceeded with
thirty men to East Gautland, where there were many of his relations and
friends, who received him hospitably. He conversed there with the most
prudent men about this difficult business; and they were all unanimous
on one point,--that the king's treatment of them was against law and
reason. From thence Emund went into Svithjod, and conversed with many
men of consequence, who all expressed themselves in the same way. Emund
continued his journey thus, until one day, towards evening, he arrived
at Upsala, where he and his retinue took a good lodging, and stayed
there all night. The next day Emund waited upon the king, who was just
then sitting in the Thing surrounded by many people. Emund went before
him, bent his knee, and saluted him. The king looked at him, saluted
him, and asked him what news he brought.

Emund replies, "There is little news among us Gautlanders; but it
appears to us a piece of remarkable news that the proud, stupid Atte, in
Vermaland, whom we look upon as a great sportsman, went up to the forest
in winter with his snow-shoes and his bow. After he had got as many
furs in the mountains as filled his hand-sledge so full that he could
scarcely drag it, he returned home from the woods. But on the way he saw
a squirrel in the trees, and shot at it, but did not hit; at which he
was so angry, that he left the sledge to run after the squirrel: but
still the squirrel sprang where the wood was thickest, sometimes among
the roots of the trees, sometimes in the branches, sometimes among the
arms that stretch from tree to tree. When Atte shot at it the arrows
flew too high or too low, and the squirrel never jumped so that Atte
could get a fair aim at him. He was so eager upon this chase that he ran
the whole day after the squirrel, and yet could not get hold of it. It
was now getting dark; so he threw himself down upon the snow, as he was
wont, and lay there all night in a heavy snow-storm. Next day Atte got
up to look after his sledge, but never did he find it again; and so he
returned home. And this is the only news, king, I have to tell."

The king says, "This is news of but little importance, if it be all thou
hast to tell."

Ernund replies, "Lately something happened which may well be called
news. Gaute Tofason went with five warships out of the Gaut river,
and when he was lying at the Eikrey Isles there came five large Danish
merchant-ships there. Gaute and his men immediately took four of the
great vessels, and made a great booty without the loss of a man: but the
fifth vessel slipped out to sea, and sailed away. Gaute gave chase with
one ship, and at first came nearer to them; but as the wind increased,
the Danes got away. Then Gaute wanted to turn back; but a storm came on
so that he lost his ship at Hlesey, with all the goods, and the greater
part of his crew. In the meantime his people were waiting for him at the
Eikrey Isles: but the Danes came over in fifteen merchant-ships, killed
them all, and took all the booty they had made. So but little luck had
they with their greed of plunder."

The king replied. "That is great news, and worth being told; but what
now is thy errand here?"

Emund replies, "I travel, sire, to obtain your judgment in a difficult
case, in which our law and the Upsala law do not agree."

The king asks, "What is thy appeal case?"

Emund replies, "There were two noble-born men of equal birth, but
unequal in property and disposition. They quarrelled about some land,
and did each other much damage; but most was done to him who was the
more powerful of the two. This quarrel, however, was settled, and judged
of at a General Thing; and the judgment was, that the most powerful
should pay a compensation. But at the first payment, instead of paying
a goose, he paid a gosling; for an old swine he paid a sucking pig; and
for a mark of stamped gold only a half-mark, and for the other half-mark
nothing but clay and dirt; and, moreover, threatened, in the most
violent way, the people whom he forced to receive such goods in payment.
Now, sire, what is your judgment?"

The king replies, "He shall pay the full equivalent whom the judgment
ordered to do so, and that faithfully; and further, threefold to his
king: and if payment be not made within a year and a day, he shall be
cut off from all his property, his goods confiscated, and half go the
king's house, and half to the other party."

Emund took witnesses to this judgment among the most considerable of
the men who were present, according to the laws which were held in the
Upsala Thing. He then saluted the king, and went his way; and other men
brought their cases before the king, and he sat late in the day upon
the cases of the people. Now when the king came to table, he asked where
Lagman Emund was. It was answered, he was home at his lodgings. "Then,"
said the king, "go after him, and tell him to be my guest to-day."
Thereafter the dishes were borne in; then came the musicians with harps,
fiddles, and musical instruments; and lastly, the cup-bearers. The king
was particularly merry, and had many great people at table with him, so
that he thought little of Emund. The king drank the whole day, and slept
all the night after; but in the morning the king awoke, and recollected
what Emund had said the day before: and when he had put on his clothes,
he let his wise men be summoned to him; for he had always twelve of the
wisest men who sat in judgment with him, and treated the more difficult
cases; and that was no easy business, for the king was ill-pleased if
the judgment was not according to justice, and yet it was of no use
to contradict him. In this meeting the king ordered Lagman Emund to
be called before them. The messenger returned, and said, "Sire, Lagman
Emund rode away yesterday as soon as he had dined." "Then," said the
king, "tell me, ye good chiefs, what may have been the meaning of that
law-case which Emund laid before us yesterday?"

They replied, "You must have considered it yourself, if you think there
was any other meaning under it than what he said."

The king replied, "By the two noble-born men whom he spoke of, who were
at variance, and of whom one was more powerful than the other, and who
did each other damage, he must have meant us and Olaf the Thick."

They answered, "It is, sire, as you say."

The king--"Our case was judged at the Upsala Thing. But what was his
meaning when he said that bad payment was made; namely, a gosling for
a goose, a pig for a swine, and clay and dirt for half of the money
instead of gold?"

Arnvid the Blind replied, "Sire, red gold and clay are things very
unlike; but the difference is still greater between king and slave. You
promised Olaf the Thick your daughter Ingegerd, who, in all branches of
her descent, is born of kings, and of the Upland Swedish race of kings,
which is the most noble in the North; for it is traced up to the gods
themselves. But now Olaf has got Astrid; and although she is a king's
child, her mother was but a slave-woman, and, besides, of Vindish race.
Great difference, indeed, must there be between these kings, when the
one takes thankfully such a match; and now it is evident, as might be
expected, that no Northman is to be placed by the side of the Upsala
kings. Let us all give thanks that it has so turned out; for the gods
have long protected their descendants, although many now neglect this

There were three brothers:--Arnvid the Blind, who had a great
understanding, but was so weak-sighted that he was scarcely fit for
war; the second was Thorvid the Stammerer, who could not utter two words
together at one time, but was remarkably bold and courageous; the third
was Freyvid the Deaf, who was hard of hearing. All these brothers were
rich and powerful men, of noble birth, great wisdom, and all very dear
to the king.

Then said King Olaf, "What means that which Emund said about Atte the

None made any reply, but the one looked at the other.

"Speak freely," said the king.

Then said Thorvid the Stammerer,

Then said the king, "To whom are these words of reproach and mockery

Freyvid the Deaf replied, "We will speak more clearly if we have your

The king--"Speak freely, Freyvid, what you will."

Freyvid took up the word, and spoke. "My brother Thorvid, who
is considered to be the wisest of us brothers, holds the words
'quarrelsome, greedy, jealous, dull,' to be one and the same thing; for
it applies to him who is weary of peace, longs for small things without
attaining them, while he lets great and useful things pass away as they
came. I am deaf; yet so loud have many spoken out, that I can perceive
that all men, both great and small, take it ill that you have not kept
your promise to the king of Norway; and, worse than that, that you broke
the decision of the community as it was delivered at Upsala Thing. You
need not fear either the king of Norway, or the king of Denmark, or any
other, so long as the Swedish army will follow you; but if the people
of the country unanimously turn against you, we, your friends, see no
counsel that can be of advantage to you."

The king asks, "Who is the chief who dares to betray the country and

Freyvid replies, "All Swedes desire to have the ancient laws, and their
full rights. Look but here, sire, how many chiefs are sitting in
council with you. I think, in truth, we are but six whom you call your
councillors: all the others, so far as I know, have ridden forth through
the districts to hold Things with the people; and we will not conceal
it from you, that the message-token has gone forth to assemble a
Retribution-thing (1). All of us brothers have been invited to take part
in the decisions of this council, but none of us will bear the name of
traitor to the sovereign; for that our father never was."

Then the king said, "What council shall we take in this dangerous affair
that is in our hands? Good chiefs give me council, that I may keep my
kingdom, and the heritage of my forefathers; for I cannot enter into
strife against the whole Swedish force."

Arnvid the Blind replies, "Sire, it is my advice that you ride down to
Aros with such men as will follow you; take your ship there and go out
into the Maeler lake; summon all people to meet you; proceed no longer
with haughtiness, but promise every man the law and rights of old
established in the country; keep back in this way the message-token,
for it cannot as yet, in so short a time have travelled far through the
land. Send, then those of your men in whom you have the most confidence
to those who have this business on hand, and try if this uproar can be

The king says that he will adopt this advice. "I will," says he, "that
ye brothers undertake this business; for I trust to you the most among
my men."

Thorvid the Stammerer said, "I remain behind. Let Jacob, your son, go
with them, for that is necessary."

Then said Freyvid, "Let us do as Thorvid says: he will not leave you,
and I and Arnvid must travel."

This counsel was followed. Olaf went to his ships, and set out into
the Maelar lake, and many people came to him. The brothers Arnvid and
Freyvid rode out to Ullaraker, and had with them the king's son Jacob;
but they kept it a secret that he was there. The brothers observed that
there was a great concourse and war-gathering, for the bondes held the
Thing night and day. When Arnvid and Freyvid met their relations and
friends, they said they would join with the people; and many agreed to
leave the management of the business in the hands of the brothers. But
all, as one man, declared they would no longer have King Olaf over them,
and no longer suffer his unlawful proceedings, and over-weening pride
which would not listen to any man's remonstrances, even when the great
chiefs spoke the truth to him. When Freyvid observed the heat of the
people, he saw in what a bad situation the king's cause was. He
summoned the chiefs of the land to a meeting with him and addressed them
thus:--"It appears to me, that if we are to depose Olaf Eirikson from
his kingdom, we Swedes of the Uplands should be the leading men in it:
for so it has always been, that the counsel which the Upland chiefs have
resolved among themselves has always been followed by the men of the
rest of the country. Our forefathers did not need to take advice from
the West Gautlanders about the government of the Swedes. Now we will
not be so degenerate as to need Emund to give us counsel; but let us,
friends and relations, unite ourselves for the purpose of coming to
a determination." All agreed to this, and thought it was well said.
Thereafter the people joined this union which the Upland chiefs made
among themselves, and Freyvid and Arnvid were chiefs of the whole
assemblage. When Emund heard this he suspected how the matter would end,
and went to both the brothers to have a conversation with them. Then
Freyvid asked Emund, "Who, in your opinion, should we take for king, in
case Olaf Eirikson's days are at an end?"

Emund--"He whom we think best suited to it, whether he be of the race of
chiefs or not."

Freyvid answers, "We Uplanders will not, in our time, have the kingdom
go out of the old race of our ancestors, which has given us kings for a
long course of generations, so long as we have so good a choice as now.
King Olaf has two sons, one of whom we will choose for king, although
there is a great difference between them. The one is noble-born, and
of Swedish race on both sides; the other is a slave-woman's son, and of
Vindish race on the mother's side."

This decision was received with loud applause, and all would have Jacob
for king.

Then said Emund. "Ye Upland Swedes have the power this time to
determinate the matter; but I will tell you what will happen:--some of
those who now will listen to nothing but that the kingdom remain in the
old race will live to see the day when they will wish the kingdom in
another race, as being of more advantage."

Thereupon the brothers Freyvid and Arnvid led the king's son Jacob into
the Thing, and saluted him with the title of king; and the Swedes gave
him the name of Onund, which he afterwards retained as long as he lived.
He was then ten or twelve years old. Thereafter King Onund took a court,
and chose chiefs to be around him; and they had as many attendants
in their suite as were thought necessary, so that he gave the whole
assemblage of bondes leave to return home. After that ambassadors went
between the two kings; and at last they had a meeting, and came to an
agreement. Olaf was to remain king over the country as long as he lived;
but should hold peace and be reconciled with King Olaf of Norway, and
also with all who had taken part in this business. Onund should also
be king, and have a part of the land, such as the father and son should
agree upon; but should be bound to support the bondes in case King Olaf
did anything which the bondes would not suffer.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Refsithing--a Thing for punishment by penalty or death for
     crimes and misdemeanours.--L.


Thereafter ambassadors were sent to Norway to King Olaf, with the errand
that he should come with his retinue to a meeting at Konungahella with
the Swedish kings, and that the Swedish kings would there confirm their
reconciliation. When King Olaf heard this message, he was willing, now
as formerly, to enter into the agreement, and proceeded to the appointed
place. There the Swedish kings also came; and the relations, when they
met, bound themselves mutually to peace and agreement. Olaf the Swedish
king was then remarkably mild in manner, and agreeable to talk with.
Thorstein Frode relates of this meeting, that there was an inhabited
district in Hising which had sometimes belonged to Norway, and sometimes
to Gautland. The kings came to the agreement between themselves that
they would cast lots by the dice to determine who should have this
property, and that he who threw the highest should have the district.
The Swedish king threw two sixes, and said King Olaf need scarcely
throw. He replied, while shaking the dice in his hand, "Although there
be two sixes on the dice, it would be easy, sire, for God Almighty to
let them turn up in my favour." Then he threw, and had sixes also. Now
the Swedish king threw again, and had again two sixes. Olaf king of
Norway then threw, and had six upon one dice, and the other split in
two, so as to make seven eyes in all upon it; and the district was
adjudged to the king of Norway. We have heard nothing else of any
interest that took place at this meeting; and the kings separated the
dearest of friends with each other.


After the events now related Olaf returned with his people to Viken.
He went first to Tunsberg, and remained there a short time, and then
proceeded to the north of the country. In harvest-time he sailed north
to Throndhjem, and had winter provision laid in there, and remained
there all winter (A.D. 1090). Olaf Haraldson was now sole and supreme
king of Norway, and the whole of that sovereignty, as Harald Harfager
had possessed it, and had the advantage over that monarch of being the
only king in the land. By a peaceful agreement he had also recovered
that part of the country which Olaf the Swedish king had before
occupied; and that part of the country which the Danish king had got
he retook by force, and ruled over it as elsewhere in the country. The
Danish king Canute ruled at that time both over Denmark and England;
but he himself was in England for the most part, and set chiefs over the
country in Denmark, without at that time making any claim upon Norway.


It is related that in the days of Harald Harfager, the king of Norway,
the islands of Orkney, which before had been only a resort for vikings,
were settled. The first earl in the Orkney Islands was called Sigurd,
who was a son of Eystein Giumra, and brother of Ragnvald earl of
More. After Sigurd his son Guthorm was earl for one year. After him
Torf-Einar, a son of Ragnvald, took the earldom, and was long earl,
and was a man of great power. Halfdan Haleg, a son of Harald Harfager,
assaulted Torf-Einar, and drove him from the Orkney Islands; but Einar
came back and killed Halfdan in the island Ronaldsha. Thereafter King
Harald came with an army to the Orkney Islands. Einar fled to Scotland,
and King Harald made the people of the Orkney Islands give up their udal
properties, and hold them under oath from him. Thereafter the king and
earl were reconciled, so that the earl became the king's man, and
took the country as a fief from him; but that it should pay no scat or
feu-duty, as it was at that time much plundered by vikings. The earl
paid the king sixty marks of gold; and then King Harald went to plunder
in Scotland, as related in the "Glym Drapa". After Torf-Einar, his sons
Arnkel, Erlend, and Thorfin Hausakljufer (1) ruled over these lands. In
their days came Eirik Blood-axe from Norway, and subdued these earls.
Arnkel and Erlend fell in a war expedition; but Thorfin ruled the
country long, and became an old man. His sons were Arnfin, Havard,
Hlodver, Liot, and Skule. Their mother was Grelad, a daughter of Earl
Dungad of Caithness. Her mother was Groa, a daughter of Thorstein Raud.
In the latter days of Earl Thorfin came Eirik Blood-axe's sons, who
had fled from Earl Hakon out of Norway, and committed great excesses in
Orkney. Earl Thorfin died on a bed of sickness, and his sons after him
ruled over the country, and there are many stories concerning them.
Hlodver lived the longest of them, and ruled alone over this country.
His son was Sigurd the Thick, who took the earldom after him, and became
a powerful man and a great warrior. In his days came Olaf Trygvason from
his viking expedition in the western ocean, with his troops, landed in
Orkney and took Earl Sigurd prisoner in South Ronaldsha, where he lay
with one ship. King Olaf allowed the earl to ransom his life by letting
himself be baptized, adopting the true faith, becoming his man, and
introducing Christianity into all the Orkney Islands. As a hostage,
King Olaf took his son, who was called Hunde or Whelp. Then Olaf went to
Norway, and became king; and Hunde was several years with King Olaf in
Norway, and died there. After his death Earl Sigurd showed no obedience
or fealty to King Olaf. He married a daughter of the Scottish king
Malcolm, and their son was called Thorfin. Earl Sigurd had, besides,
older sons; namely, Sumarlide, Bruse, and Einar Rangmund. Four or five
years after Olaf Tryrgvason's fall Earl Sigurd went to Ireland, leaving
his eldest sons to rule the country, and sending Thorfin to his mother's
father, the Scottish king. On this expedition Earl Sigurd fell in
Brian's battle (l). When the news was received in Orkney, the brothers
Sumarlide, Bruse, and Einar were chosen earls, and the country was
divided into three parts among them. Thorfin Sigurdson was five years
old when Earl Sigurd fell. When the Scottish king heard of the earl's
death he gave his relation Thorfin Caithness and Sutherland, with the
title of earl, and appointed good men to rule the land for him. Earl
Thorfin was ripe in all ways as soon as he was grown up: he was stout
and strong, but ugly; and as soon as he was a grown man it was easy to
see that he was a severe and cruel but a very clever man. So says Arnor,
the earls' skald:--

     "Under the rim of heaven no other,
     So young in years as Einar's brother,
     In battle had a braver hand,
     Or stouter, to defend the land."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Hausakljufer--the splitter of skulls.--L.
    (2) Brian's battle is supposed to have taken place on the 23rd
     April 1014, at Clontart, near Dublin; and is known in Irish
     history as the battle of Clontarf, and was one of the
     bloodiest of the age.  It was fought between a viking called
     Sigtryg and Brian king of Munster, who gained the victory,
     but lost his life.--L.


The brothers Einar and Bruse were very unlike in disposition. Bruse
was a soft-minded, peaceable man,--sociable, eloquent, and of good
understanding. Einar was obstinate, taciturn, and dull; but ambitious,
greedy of money, and withal a great warrior. Sumarlide, the eldest of
the brothers, was in disposition like Bruse, and lived not long, but
died in his bed. After his death Thorfin claimed his share of the Orkney
Islands. Einar replied, that Thorfin had the dominions which their
father Sigurd had possessed, namely, Caithness and Sutherland, which
he insisted were much larger than a third part of Orkney; therefore he
would not consent to Thorfin's having any share. Bruse, on the other
hand, was willing, he said, to divide with him. "I do not-desire," he
said, "more than the third part of the land, and which of right belongs
to me." Then Einar took possession of two parts of the country, by which
he became a powerful man, surrounded by many followers. He was often in
summer out on marauding expeditions, and called out great numbers of the
people to join him; but it went always unpleasantly with the division of
the booty made on his viking cruises. Then the bondes grew weary of all
these burdens; but Earl Einar held fast by them with severity, calling
in all services laid upon the people, and allowing no opposition from
any man; for he was excessively proud and overbearing. And now there
came dearth and scarcity in his lands, in consequence of the services
and money outlay exacted from the bondes; while in the part of the
country belonging to Bruse there were peace and plenty, and therefore he
was the best beloved by the bondes.


There was a rich and powerful man who was called Amunde, who dwelt in
Hrossey at Sandvik, in Hlaupandanes. His son, called Thorkel, was one
of the ablest men in the islands. Amunde was a man of the best
understanding, and most respected in Orkney. One spring Earl Einar
proclaimed a levy for an expedition, as usual. The bondes murmured
greatly against it, and applied to Amunde with the entreaty that he
would intercede with the earl for them. He replied, that the earl was
not a man who would listen to other people, and insisted that it was of
no use to make any entreaty to the earl about it. "As things now stand,
there is a good understanding between me and the earl; but, in my
opinion, there would be much danger of our quarrelling, on account of
our different dispositions and views on both sides; therefore I will
have nothing to do with it." They then applied to Thorkel, who was also
very loath to interfere, but promised at last to do so, in consequence
of the great entreaty of the people. Amunde thought he had given his
promise too hastily. Now when the earl held a Thing, Thorkel spoke on
account of the people, and entreated the earl to spare the people from
such heavy burdens, recounting their necessitous condition. The earl
replies favourably, saying that he would take Thorkel's advice. "I had
intended to go out from the country with six ships, but now I will only
take three with me; but thou must not come again, Thorkel, with any such
request." The bondes thanked Thorkel for his assistance, and the earl
set out on a viking cruise, and came back in autumn. The spring after,
the earl made the same levy as usual, and held a Thing with the bondes.
Then Thorkel again made a speech, in which he entreated the earl to
spare the people. The earl now was angry, and said the lot of the bondes
should be made worse in consequence of his intercession; and worked
himself up into such a rage, that he vowed they should not both come
next spring to the Thing in a whole skin. Then the Thing was closed.
When Amunde heard what the earl and Thorkel had said at the Thing, he
told Thorkel to leave the country, and he went over to Caithness to Earl
Thorfin. Thorkel was afterwards a long time there, and brought up the
earl in his youth, and was on that account called Thorkel the Fosterer;
and he became a very celebrated man.


There were many powerful men who fled from their udal properties in
Orkney on account of Earl Einar's violence, and the most fled over to
Caithness to Earl Thorfin: but some fled from the Orkney Islands to
Norway, and some to other countries. When Earl Thorfin was grown up
he sent a message to his brother Einar, and demanded the part of the
dominion which he thought belonged to him in Orkney; namely, a third of
the islands. Einar was nowise inclined to diminish his possessions. When
Thorfin found this he collected a warforce in Caithness, and proceeded
to the islands. As soon as Earl Einar heard of this he collected people,
and resolved to defend his country. Earl Bruse also collected men, and
went out to meet them, and bring about some agreement between them. An
agreement was at last concluded, that Thorfin should have a third part
of the islands, as of right belonging to him, but that Bruse and Einar
should lay their two parts together, and Einar alone should rule over
them; but if the one died before the other, the longest liver should
inherit the whole. This agreement seemed reasonable, as Bruse had a son
called Ragnvald, but Einar had no son. Earl Thorfin set men to rule
over his land in Orkney, but he himself was generally in Caithness.
Earl Einar was generally on viking expeditions to Ireland, Scotland, and


One summer (A.D. 1018) that Earl Einar marauded in Ireland, he fought in
Ulfreks-fjord with the Irish king Konofogor, as has been related before,
and suffered there a great defeat. The summer after this (A.D. 1019)
Eyvind Urarhorn was coming from the west from Ireland, intending to go
to Norway; but the weather was boisterous, and the current against him,
so he ran into Osmundwall, and lay there wind-bound for some time. When
Earl Einar heard of this, he hastened thither with many people, took
Eyvind prisoner, and ordered him to be put to death, but spared the
lives of most of his people. In autumn they proceeded to Norway to King
Olaf, and told him Eyvind was killed. The king said little about it, but
one could see that he considered it a great and vexatious loss; for he
did not usually say much if anything turned out contrary to his wishes.
Earl Thorfin sent Thorkel Fosterer to the islands to gather in his scat.
Now, as Einar gave Thorkel the greatest blame for the dispute in which
Thorfin had made claim to the islands, Thorkel came suddenly back to
Caithness from Orkney, and told Earl Thorfin that he had learnt that
Earl Einar would have murdered him if his friends and relations had not
given him notice to escape. "Now," says he, "it is come so far between
the earl and me, that either some thing decisive between us must take
place if we meet, or I must remove to such a distance that his power
will not reach me." The earl encouraged Thorkel much to go east to
Norway to King Olaf. "Thou wilt be highly respected," says he, "wherever
thou comest among honourable men; and I know so well thy disposition
and the earl's, that it will not be long before ye come to extremities."
Thereupon Thorkel made himself ready, and proceeded in autumn to Norway,
and then to King Olaf, with whom he stayed the whole winter (A.D. 1020),
and was in high favour. The king often entered into conversation with
him, and he thought, what was true, that Thorkel was a high-minded man,
of good understanding. In his conversations with Thorkel, the king found
a great difference in his description of the two earls; for Thorkel was
a great friend of Earl Thorfin, but had much to say against Einar. Early
in spring (A.D. 1020) the king sent a ship west over the sea to Earl
Thorfin, with the invitation to come east and visit him in Norway.
The earl did not decline the invitation, for it was accompanied by
assurances of friendship.


Earl Thorfin went east to Norway, and came to King Olaf, from whom he
received a kind reception, and stayed till late in the summer. When he
was preparing to return westwards again, King Olaf made him a present of
a large and fully-rigged long-ship. Thorkel the Fosterer joined company
with the earl, who gave him the ship which he brought with him from the
west. The king and the earl took leave of each other tenderly. In autumn
Earl Thorfin came to Orkney, and when Earl Einar heard of it he went on
board his ships with a numerous band of men. Earl Bruse came up to his
two brothers, and endeavoured to mediate between them, and a peace was
concluded and confirmed by oath. Thorkel Fosterer was to be in peace and
friendship with Earl Einar; and it was agreed that each of them should
give a feast to the other, and that the earl should first be Thorkel's
guest at Sandwick. When the earl came to the feast he was entertained in
the best manner; but the earl was not cheerful. There was a great room,
in which there were doors at each end. The day the earl should depart
Thorkel was to accompany him to the other feast; and Thorkel sent men
before, who should examine the road they had to travel that day. The
spies came back, and said to Thorkel they had discovered three ambushes.
"And we think," said they, "there is deceit on foot." When Thorkel heard
this he lengthened out his preparations for the journey, and gathered
people about him. The earl told him to get ready, as it was time to be
on horseback. Thorkel answered, that he had many things to put in order
first, and went out and in frequently. There was a fire upon the
floor. At last he went in at one door, followed by an Iceland man from
Eastfjord, called Halvard, who locked the door after him. Thorkel went
in between the fire and the place where the earl was sitting. The earl
asked, "Art thou ready at last, Thorkel?"

Thorkel answers, "Now I am ready;" and struck the earl upon the head so
that he fell upon the floor.

Then said the Icelander, "I never saw people so foolish as not to drag
the earl out of the fire;" and took a stick, which he set under the
earl's neck, and put him upright on the bench. Thorkel and his two
comrades then went in all haste out of the other door opposite to that
by which they went in, and Thorkel's men were standing without fully
armed. The earl's men now went in, and took hold of the earl. He was
already dead, so nobody thought of avenging him: and also the whole was
done so quickly; for nobody expected such a deed from Thorkel, and all
supposed that there really was, as before related, a friendship fixed
between the earl and Thorkel. The most who were within were unarmed, and
they were partly Thorkel's good friends; and to this may be added, that
fate had decreed a longer life to Thorkel. When Thorkel came out he had
not fewer men with him than the earl's troop. Thorkel went to his ship,
and the earl's men went their way. The same day Thorkel sailed out
eastwards into the sea. This happened after winter; but he came safely
to Norway, went as fast as he could to Olaf, and was well received by
him. The king expressed his satisfaction at this deed, and Thorkel was
with him all winter (A.D. 1091).


After Earl Einar's fall Bruse took the part of the country which he had
possessed; for it was known to many men on what conditions Einar and
Bruse had entered into a partnership. Although Thorfin thought it would
be more just that each of them had half of the islands, Bruse retained
the two-thirds of the country that winter (A.D. 1021). In spring,
however, Thorfin produced his claim, and demanded the half of the
country; but Bruse would not consent. They held Things and meetings
about the business; and although their friends endeavoured to settle it,
Thorfin would not be content with less than the half of the islands, and
insisted that Bruse, with his disposition, would have enough even with
a third part. Bruse replies, "When I took my heritage after my father
I was well satisfied with a third part of the country, and there was
nobody to dispute it with me; and now I have succeeded to another third
in heritage after my brother, according to a lawful agreement between
us; and although I am not powerful enough to maintain a feud against
thee, my brother, I will seek some other way, rather than willingly
renounce my property." With this their meeting ended. But Bruse saw that
he had no strength to contend against Thorfin, because Thorfin had both
a greater dominion and also could have aid from his mother's brother,
the Scottish king. He resolved, therefore, to go out of the country; and
he went eastward to King Olaf, and had with him his son Ragnvald, then
ten years old. When the earl came to the king he was well received. The
earl now declared his errand, and told the king the circumstances of the
whole dispute between him and his brother, and asked help to defend his
kingdom of Orkney; promising, in return, the fullest friendship towards
King Olaf. In his answer, the king began with showing how Harald
Harfager had appropriated to himself all udal rights in Orkney, and that
the earls, since that time, have constantly held the country as a fief,
not as their udal property. "As a sufficient proof of which," said he,
"when Eirik Blood-axe and his sons were in Orkney the earls were subject
to them; and also when my relation Olaf Trygvason came there thy father,
Earl Sigurd, became his man. Now I have taken heritage after King Olaf,
and I will give thee the condition to become my man and then I will give
thee the islands as a fief; and we shall try if I cannot give thee aid
that will be more to the purpose than Thorfin can get from the Scottish
king. If thou wilt not accept of these terms, then will I win back my
udal property there in the West, as our forefathers and relations of old
possessed it."

The earl carefully considered this speech, laid it before his friends,
and demanded their advice if he should agree to it, and enter into such
terms with King Olaf and become his vassal. "But I do not see what my
lot will be at my departure if I say no; for the king has clearly enough
declared his claim upon Orkney; and from his great power, and our being
in his hands, it is easy for him to make our destiny what he pleases."

Although the earl saw that there was much to be considered for and
against it he chose the condition to deliver himself and his dominion
into the king's power. Thereupon the king took the earl's power, and
the government over all the earl's lands, and the earl became his vassal
under oath of fealty.


Thorfin the earl heard that his brother Bruse had gone east to King Olaf
to seek support from him; but as Thorfin had been on a visit to King
Olaf before, and had concluded a friendship with him, he thought his
case would stand well with the king, and that many would support it; but
he believed that many more would do so if he went there himself. Earl
Thorfin resolved, therefore, to go east himself without delay; and he
thought there would be so little difference between the time of his
arrival and Bruse's, that Bruse's errand could not be accomplished
before he came to King Olaf. But it went otherwise than Earl Thorfin had
expected; for when he came to the king the agreement between the king
and Bruse was already concluded and settled, and Earl Thorfin did not
know a word about Bruse's having surrendered his udal domains until he
came to King Olaf. As soon as Earl Thorfin and King Olaf met, the king
made the same demand upon the kingdom of Orkney that he had done to Earl
Bruse, and required that Thorfin should voluntarily deliver over to the
king that part of the country which he had possessed hitherto. The earl
answered in a friendly and respectful way, that the king's friendship
lay near to his heart: "And if you think, sire, that my help against
other chiefs can be of use, you have already every claim to it; but I
cannot be your vessel for service, as I am an earl of the Scottish king,
and owe fealty to him."

As the king found that the earl, by his answer, declined fulfilling the
demand he had made, he said, "Earl, if thou wilt not become my vassal,
there is another condition; namely, that I will place over the Orkney
Islands the man I please, and require thy oath that thou wilt make no
claim upon these lands, but allow whoever I place over them to sit in
peace. If thou wilt not accept of either of these conditions, he who is
to rule over these lands may expect hostility from thee, and thou must
not think it strange if like meet like in this business."

The earl begged of the king some time to consider the matter. The king
did so, and gave the earl time to take the counsel of his friends on
the choosing one or other of these conditions. Then the earl requested a
delay until next summer, that he might go over the sea to the west, for
his proper counsellors were all at home, and he himself was but a child
in respect of age; but the king required that he should now make his
election of one or other of the conditions. Thorkel Fosterer was then
with the king, and he privately sent a person to Earl Thorfin, and told
him, whatever his intentions might be, not to think of leaving Olaf
without being reconciled with him, as he stood entirely in Olaf's power.
From such hints the earl saw there was no other way than to let the king
have his own will. It was no doubt a hard condition to have no hope of
ever regaining his paternal heritage, and moreover to bind himself by
oath to allow those to enjoy in peace his domain who had no hereditary
right to it; but seeing it was uncertain how he could get away, he
resolved to submit to the king and become his vassal, as Bruse had done.
The king observed that Thorfin was more high-minded, and less disposed
to suffer subjection than Bruse, and therefore he trusted less to
Thorfin than to Bruse; and he considered also that Thorfin would trust
to the aid of the Scottish king, if he broke the agreement. The king
also had discernment enough to perceive that Bruse, although slow to
enter into an agreement, would promise nothing but what he intended
to keep; but as to Thorfin when he had once made up his mind he went
readily into every proposal and made no attempt to obtain any alteration
of the king's first conditions: therefore the king had his suspicions
that the earl would infringe the agreement.


When the king had carefully considered the whole matter by himself, he
ordered the signal to sound for a General Thing, to which he called in
the earls. Then said the king, "I will now make known to the public our
agreement with the Orkney earls. They have now acknowledged my right of
property to Orkney and Shetland, and have both become my vassals, all
which they have confirmed by oath; and now I will invest them with these
lands as a fief: namely, Bruse with one third part and Thorfin with one
third, as they formerly enjoyed them; but the other third which Einar
Rangmund had, I adjudge as fallen to my domain, because he killed Eyvind
Urarhorn, my court-man, partner, and dear friend; and that part of the
land I will manage as I think proper. I have also my earls, to tell you
it is my pleasure that ye enter into an agreement with Thorkel Amundason
for the murder of your brother Einar, for I will take that business, if
ye agree thereto, within my own jurisdiction." The earls agreed to this,
as to everything else that the king proposed. Thorkel came forward, and
surrendered to the king's judgment of the case, and the Thing concluded.
King Olaf awarded as great a penalty for Earl Einar's murder as for
three lendermen; but as Einar himself was the cause of the act, one
third of the mulct fell to the ground. Thereafter Earl Thorfin asked the
king's leave to depart, and as soon as he obtained it made ready for sea
with all speed. It happened one day, when all was ready for the
voyage, the earl sat in his ship drinking; and Thorkel Amundason came
unexpectedly to him, laid his head upon the earl's knee, and bade him
do with him what he pleased. The earl asked why he did so. "We are, you
know, reconciled men, according to the king's decision; so stand up,

Thorkel replied, "The agreement which the king made as between me and
Bruse stands good; but what regards the agreement with thee thou alone
must determine. Although the king made conditions for my property and
safe residence in Orkney, yet I know so well thy disposition that there
is no going to the islands for me, unless I go there in peace with thee,
Earl Thorfin; and therefore I am willing to promise never to return to
Orkney, whatever the king may desire."

The earl remained silent; and first, after a long pause, he said, "If
thou wilt rather, Thorkel, that I shall judge between us than trust to
the king's judgment, then let the beginning of our reconciliation be,
that you go with me to the Orkney Islands, live with me, and never leave
me but with my will, and be bound to defend my land, and execute all
that I want done, as long as we both are in life."

Thorkel replies, "This shall be entirely at thy pleasure, earl, as well
as everything else in my power." Then Thorkel went on, and solemnly
ratified this agreement. The earl said he would talk afterwards about
the mulct of money, but took Thorkel's oath upon the conditions. Thorkel
immediately made ready to accompany the earl on his voyage. The earl set
off as soon as all was ready, and never again were King Olaf and Thorfin


Earl Bruse remained behind, and took his time to get ready. Before his
departure the king sent for him, and said, "It appears to me, earl, that
in thee I have a man on the west side of the sea on whose fidelity I
can depend; therefore I intend to give thee the two parts of the
country which thou formerly hadst to rule over; for I will not that
thou shouldst be a less powerful man after entering into my service than
before: but I will secure thy fidelity by keeping thy son Ragnvald with
me. I see well enough that with two parts of the country and my
help, thou wilt be able to defend what is thy own against thy brother
Thorfin." Bruse was thankful for getting two thirds instead of one third
of the country, and soon after he set out, and came about autumn to
Orkney; but Ragnvald, Bruse's son, remained behind in the East with King
Olaf. Ragnvald was one of the handsomest men that could be seen,--his
hair long, and yellow as silk; and he soon grew up, stout and tall,
and he was a very able and superb man, both of great understanding and
polite manners. He was long with King Olaf. Otter Svarte speaks of these
affairs in the poem he composed about King Olaf:--

     "From Shetland, far off in the cold North Sea,
     Come chiefs who desire to be subject to thee:
     No king so well known for his will, and his might,
     To defend his own people from scaith or unright.
     These isles of the West midst the ocean's wild roar,
     Scarcely heard the voice of their sovereign before;
     Our bravest of sovereigns before could scarce bring
     These islesmen so proud to acknowledge their king."


The brothers Thorfin and Bruse came west to Orkney; and Bruse took the
two parts of the country under his rule, and Thorfin the third part.
Thorfin was usually in Caithness and elsewhere in Scotland; but placed
men of his own over the islands. It was left to Bruse alone to defend
the islands, which at that time were severely scourged by vikings; for
the Northmen and Danes went much on viking cruises in the west sea,
and frequently touched at Orkney on the way to or from the west, and
plundered, and took provisions and cattle from the coast. Bruse often
complained of his brother Thorfin, that he made no equipment of war for
the defence of Orkney and Shetland, yet levied his share of the scat and
duties. Then Thorfin offered to him to exchange, and that Bruse should
have one third and Thorfin two thirds of the land, but should undertake
the defence of the land, for the whole. Although this exchange did not
take place immediately, it is related in the saga of the earls that it
was agreed upon at last; and that Thorfin had two parts and Bruse
only one, when Canute the Great subdued Norway and King Olaf fled
the country. Earl Thorfin Sigurdson has been the ablest earl of these
islands, and has had the greatest dominion of all the Orkney earls; for
he had under him Orkney, Shetland, and the Hebudes, besides very great
possessions in Scotland and Ireland. Arnor, the earls' skald, tells of
his possessions:--

     "From Thurso-skerry to Dublin,
     All people hold with good Thorfin--
     All people love his sway,
     And the generous chief obey."

Thorfin was a very great warrior. He came to the earldom at five years
of age, ruled more than sixty years, and died in his bed about the
last days of Harald Sigurdson. But Bruse died in the days of Canute the
Great, a short time after the fall of Saint Olaf.


Having now gone through this second story, we shall return to that which
we left,--at King Olaf Haraldson having concluded peace with King Olaf
the Swedish king, and having the same summer gone north to Throndhjem
(1019). He had then been king in Norway five years (A.D. 1015-1019). In
harvest time he prepared to take his winter residence at Nidaros, and
he remained all winter there (A.D. 1020). Thorkel the Fosterer, Amunde's
son, as before related, was all that winter with him. King Olaf inquired
very carefully how it stood with Christianity throughout the land, and
learnt that it was not observed at all to the north of Halogaland,
and was far from being observed as it should be in Naumudal, and the
interior of Throndhjem. There was a man by name Harek, a son of Eyvind
Skaldaspiller, who dwelt in an island called Thjotta in Halogaland.
Eyvind had not been a rich man, but was of high family and high mind. In
Thjotta, at first, there dwelt many small bondes; but Harek began with
buying a farm not very large and lived on it, and in a few years he had
got all the bondes that were there before out of the way; so that he had
the whole island, and built a large head-mansion. He soon became very
rich; for he was a very prudent man, and very successful. He had long
been greatly respected by the chiefs; and being related to the kings
of Norway, had been raised by them to high dignities. Harek's father's
mother Gunhild was a daughter of Earl Halfdan, and Ingebjorg, Harald
Harfager's daughter. At the time the circumstance happened which we are
going to relate he was somewhat advanced in years. Harek was the most
respected man in Halogaland, and for a long time had the Lapland trade,
and did the king's business in Lapland; sometimes alone, sometimes with
others joined to him. He had not himself been to wait on King Olaf,
but messages had passed between them, and all was on the most friendly
footing. This winter (A.D. 1020) that Olaf was in Nidaros, messengers
passed between the king and Harek of Thjotta. Then the king made it
known that he intended going north to Halogaland, and as far north as
the land's end; but the people of Halogaland expected no good from this


Olaf rigged out five ships in spring (A.D. 1020), and had with him about
300 men. When he was ready for sea he set northwards along the land; and
when he came to Naumudal district he summoned the bondes to a Thing, and
at every Thing was accepted as king. He also made the laws to be
read there as elsewhere, by which the people are commanded to observe
Christianity; and he threatened every man with loss of life, and
limbs, and property who would not subject himself to Christian law. He
inflicted severe punishments on many men, great as well as small, and
left no district until the people had consented to adopt the holy faith.
The most of the men of power and of the great bondes made feasts for
the king, and so he proceeded all the way north to Halogaland. Harek
of Thjotta also made a feast for the king, at which there was a great
multitude of guests, and the feast was very splendid. Harek was made
lenderman, and got the same privileges he had enjoyed under the former
chiefs of the country.


There was a man called Grankel, or Granketil, who was a rich bonde, and
at this time rather advanced in age. In his youth he had been on
viking cruises, and had been a powerful fighter; for he possessed great
readiness in all sorts of bodily exercises. His son Asmund was equal
to his father in all these, and in some, indeed, he excelled him. There
were many who said that with respect to comeliness, strength, and bodily
expertness, he might be considered the third remarkably distinguished
for these that Norway had ever produced. The first was Hakon Athelstan's
foster-son; the second, Olaf Trygvason. Grankel invited King Olaf to a
feast, which was very magnificent; and at parting Grankel presented
the king with many honourable gifts and tokens of friendship. The king
invited Asmund, with many persuasions, to follow him; and as Asmund
could not decline the honours offered him, he got ready to travel with
the king, became his man, and stood in high favour with him. The king
remained in Halogaland the greater part of the summer, went to all the
Things, and baptized all the people. Thorer Hund dwelt at that time in
the island Bjarkey. He was the most powerful man in the North, and also
became one of Olaf's lendermen. Many sons of great bondes resolved also
to follow King Olaf from Halogaland. Towards the end of summer King Olaf
left the North, and sailed back to Throndhjem, and landed at Nidaros,
where he passed the winter (A.D. 1021). It was then that Thorkel the
Fosterer came from the West from Orkney, after killing Einar Rangmumd,
as before related. This autumn corn was dear in Throndhjem, after a long
course of good seasons, and the farther north the dearer was the corn;
but there was corn enough in the East country, and in the Uplands, and
it was of great help to the people of Throndhjem that many had old corn
remaining beside them.


In autumn the news was brought to King Olaf that the bondes had had a
great feast on the first winter-day's eve, at which there was a numerous
attendance and much drinking; and it was told the king that all the
remembrance-cups to the Asas, or old gods, were blessed according to
the old heathen forms; and it was added, that cattle and horses had been
slain, and the altars sprinkled with their blood, and the sacrifices
accompanied with the prayer that was made to obtain good seasons. It was
also reported that all men saw clearly that the gods were offended at
the Halogaland people turning Christian. Now when the king heard this
news he sent men into the Throndhjem country, and ordered several
bondes, whose names he gave, to appear before him. There was a man
called Olver of Eggja, so called after his farm on which he lived. He
was powerful, of great family, and the head-man of those who on account
of the bondes appeared before the king. Now, when they came to the king,
he told them these accusations; to which Olver, on behalf of the bondes,
replied, that they had had no other feasts that harvest than their usual
entertainments, and social meetings, and friendly drinking parties. "But
as to what may have been told you of the words which may have fallen
from us Throndhjem people in our drinking parties, men of understanding
would take good care not to use such language; but I cannot hinder
drunken or foolish people's talk." Olver was a man of clever speech, and
bold in what he said, and defended the bondes against such accusations.
In the end, the king said the people of the interior of Thorndhjem must
themselves give the best testimony to their being in the right faith.
The bondes got leave to return home, and set off as soon as they were


Afterwards, when winter was advanced, it was told the king that the
people of the interior of Throndhjem had assembled in great number at
Maerin, and that there was a great sacrifice in the middle of winter,
at which they sacrificed offerings for peace and a good season. Now
when the king knew this on good authority to be true, he sent men and
messages into the interior, and summoned the bondes whom he thought
of most understanding into the town. The bondes held a council among
themselves about this message; and all those who had been upon the same
occasion in the beginning of winter were now very unwilling to make
the journey. Olver, however, at the desire of all the bondes, allowed
himself to be persuaded. When he came to the town he went immediately
before the king, and they talked together. The king made the same
accusation against the bondes, that they had held a mid-winter
sacrifice. Olver replies, that this accusation against the bondes was
false. "We had," said he, "Yule feasts and drinking feasts wide
around in the districts; and the bondes do not prepare their feasts so
sparingly, sire, that there is not much left over, which people consume
long afterwards. At Maerin there is a great farm, with a large house on
it, and a great neighbourhood all around it, and it is the great delight
of the people to drink many together in company." The king said little
in reply, but looked angry, as he thought he knew the truth of the
matter better than it was now represented. He ordered the bondes to
return home. "I shall some time or other," said he, "come to the truth
of what you are now concealing, and in such a way that ye shall not be
able to contradict it. But, however, that may be, do not try such things
again." The bondes returned home, and told the result of their journey,
and that the king was altogether enraged.


At Easter (A.D. 1021) the king held a feast, to which he had invited
many of the townspeople as well as bondes. After Easter he ordered his
ships to be launched into the water, oars and tackle to be put on board,
decks to be laid in the ships, and tilts (1) and rigging to be set up,
and to be laid ready for sea at the piers. Immediately after Easter
he sent men into Veradal. There was a man called Thoralde, who was the
king's bailiff, and who managed the king's farm there at Haug; and
to him the king sent a message to come to him as quickly as possible.
Thoralde did not decline the journey, but went immediately to the town
with the messenger. The king called him in and in a private conversation
asked him what truth there was in what had been told him of the
principles and living of the people of the interior of Throndhjem, and
if it really was so that they practised sacrifices to heathen gods. "I
will," says the king, "that thou declare to me the things as they are,
and as thou knowest to be true; for it is thy duty to tell me the truth,
as thou art my man."

Thoralde replies, "Sire, I will first tell you that I have brought here
to the town my two children, my wife, and all my loose property that I
could take with me, and if thou desirest to know the truth it shall be
told according to thy command; but if I declare it, thou must take care
of me and mine."

The king replies, "Say only what is true on what I ask thee, and I will
take care that no evil befall thee."

Then said Thoralde, "If I must say the truth, king, as it is, I must
declare that in the interior of the Throndhjem land almost all the
people are heathen in faith, although some of them are baptized. It is
their custom to offer sacrifice in autumn for a good winter, a second at
mid-winter, and a third in summer. In this the people of Eyna, Sparby,
Veradal, and Skaun partake. There are twelve men who preside over these
sacrifice-feasts; and in spring it is Olver who has to get the feast in
order, and he is now busy transporting to Maerin everything needful for
it." Now when the king had got to the truth with a certainty, he
ordered the signal to be sounded for his men to assemble, and for the
men-at-arms to go on board ship. He appointed men to steer the ships,
and leaders for the people, and ordered how the people should be divided
among the vessels. All was got ready in haste, and with five ships and
300 men he steered up the fjord. The wind was favourable, the ships
sailed briskly before it, and nobody could have thought that the king
would be so soon there. The king came in the night time to Maerin, and
immediately surrounded the house with a ring of armed men. Olver was
taken, and the king ordered him to be put to death, and many other men
besides. Then the king took all the provision for the feast, and had it
brought to his ships; and also all the goods, both furniture, clothes,
and valuables, which the people had brought there, and divided the
booty among his men. The king also let all the bondes he thought had the
greatest part in the business be plundered by his men-at-arms. Some were
taken prisoners and laid in irons, some ran away, and many were robbed
of their goods. Thereafter the bondes were summoned to a Thing; but
because he had taken many powerful men prisoners, and held them in his
power, their friends and relations resolved to promise obedience to
the king, so that there was no insurrection against the king on this
occasion. He thus brought the whole people back to the right faith, gave
them teachers, and built and consecrated churches. The king let Olver
lie without fine paid for his bloodshed, and all that he possessed was
adjudged to the king; and of the men he judged the most guilty, some
he ordered to be executed, some he maimed, some he drove out of the
country, and took fines from others. The king then returned to Nidaros.

   ENDNOTES: (1) The ships appear to have been decked fore and aft only;
     and in the middle, where the rowers sat, to have had tilts or
     tents set up at night to sleep under.--L.


There was a man called Arne Arnmodson, who was married to Thora,
Thorstein Galge's daughter. Their children were Kalf, Fin, Thorberg,
Amunde, Kolbjorn, Arnbjorn, and Arne. Their daughter, who was called
Ragnhild, was married to Harek of Thjotta. Arne was a lenderman,
powerful, and of ability, and a great friend of King Olaf. At that time
his sons Kalf and Fin were with the king, and in great favour. The wife
whom Olver of Eggja had left was young and handsome, of great family,
and rich, so that he who got her might be considered to have made an
excellent marriage; and her land was in the gift of the king. She and
Olver had two sons, who were still in infancy. Kalf Arneson begged of
the king that he would give him to wife the widow of Olver; and out of
friendship the king agreed to it, and with her he got all the property
Olver had possessed. The king at the same time made him his lenderman,
and gave him an office in the interior of the Throndhjem country. Kalf
became a great chief, and was a man of very great understanding.


When King Olaf had been seven years (A.D. 1015-1021) in Norway the earls
Thorfin and Bruse came to him, as before related, in the summer, from
Orkney, and he became master of their land. The same summer Olaf went
to North and South More, and in autumn to Raumsdal. He left his ships
there, and came to the Uplands, and to Lesjar. Here he laid hold of
all the best men, and forced them, both at Lesjar and Dovre, either to
receive Christianity or suffer death, if they were not so lucky as to
escape. After they received Christianity, the king took their sons in
his hands as hostages for their fidelity. The king stayed several
nights at a farm in Lesjar called Boar, where he placed priests. Then he
proceeded over Orkadal and Lorodal, and came down from the Uplands at
a place called Stafabrekka. There a river runs along the valley, called
the Otta, and a beautiful hamlet, by name Loar, lies on both sides of
the river, and the king could see far down over the whole neighbourhood.
"A pity it is," said the king, "so beautiful a hamlet should be burnt."
And he proceeded down the valley with his people, and was all night on
a farm called Nes. The king took his lodging in a loft, where he slept
himself; and it stands to the present day, without anything in it
having been altered since. The king was five days there, and summoned
by message-token the people to a Thing, both for the districts of Vagar,
Lear, and Hedal; and gave out the message along with the token, that
they must either receive Christianity and give their sons as hostages,
or see their habitations burnt. They came before the king, and submitted
to his pleasure; but some fled south down the valley.


There was a man called Dale-Gudbrand, who was like a king in the valley
(Gudbrandsdal), but was only herse in title. Sigvat the skald compared
him for wealth and landed property to Erling Skjalgson. Sigvat sang thus
concerning Erling:--

     "I know but one who can compare
     With Erling for broad lands and gear--
     Gudbrand is he, whose wide domains
     Are most like where some small king reigns.
     These two great bondes, I would say,
     Equal each other every way.
     He lies who says that he can find
     One by the other left behind."

Gudbrand had a son, who is here spoken of. Now when Gudbrand received
the tidings that King Olaf was come to Lear, and obliged people to
accept Christianity, he sent out a message-token, and summoned all the
men in the valley to meet him at a farm called Hundthorp. All came,
so that the number could not be told; for there is a lake in the
neighbourhood called Laugen, so that people could come to the place both
by land and by water. There Gudbrand held a Thing with them, and said,
"A man is come to Loar who is called Olaf, and will force upon us
another faith than what we had before, and will break in pieces all our
gods. He says that he has a much greater and more powerful god; and it
is wonderful that the earth does not burst asunder under him, or that
our god lets him go about unpunished when he dares to talk such things.
I know this for certain, that if we carry Thor, who has always stood by
us, out of our temple that is standing upon this farm, Olaf's god will
melt away, and he and his men be made nothing so soon as Thor looks upon
them." Then the bondes all shouted as one person that Olaf should never
get away with life if he came to them; and they thought he would never
dare to come farther south through the valley. They chose out 700 men to
go northwards to Breida, to watch his movements. The leader of this band
was Gudbrand's son, eighteen years of age, and with him were many other
men of importance. When they came to a farm called Hof they heard of the
king; and they remained three nights there. People streamed to them from
all parts, from Lesjar, Loar, and Vagar, who did not wish to receive
Christianity. The king and Bishop Sigurd fixed teachers in Loaf and
in Vagar. From thence they went round Vagarost, and came down into the
valley at Sil, where they stayed all night, and heard the news that a
great force of men were assembled against them. The bondes who were in
Breida heard also of the king's arrival, and prepared for battle. As
soon as the king arose in the morning he put on his armour, and went
southwards over the Sil plains, and did not halt until he came to
Breida, where he saw a great army ready for battle. Then the king drew
up his troops, rode himself at the head of them, and began a speech
to the bondes, in which he invited them to adopt Christianity. They
replied, "We shall give thee something else to do to-day than to be
mocking us;" and raised a general shout, striking also upon their
shields with their weapons. Then the king's men ran forward and threw
their spears; but the bondes turned round instantly and fled, so that
only few men remained behind. Gudbrand's son was taken prisoner; but the
king gave him his life, and took him with him. The king was four days
here. Then the king said to Gudbrand's son, "Go home now to thy father,
and tell him I expect to be with him soon."

He went accordingly, and told his father the news, that they had fallen
in with the king, and fought with him; but that their whole army, in the
very beginning, took flight. "I was taken prisoner," said he, "but the
king gave me my life and liberty, and told me to say to thee that he
will soon be here. And now we have not 200 men of the force we raised
against him; therefore I advise thee, father, not to give battle to that

Says Gudbrand, "It is easy to see that all courage has left thee, and it
was an unlucky hour ye went out to the field. Thy proceeding will live
long in the remembrance of people, and I see that thy fastening thy
faith on the folly that man is going about with has brought upon thee
and thy men so great a disgrace."

But the night after, Gudbrand dreamt that there came to him a man
surrounded by light, who brought great terror with him, and said to him,
"Thy son made no glorious expedition against King Olaf; but still less
honour wilt thou gather for thyself by holding a battle with him. Thou
with all thy people wilt fall; wolves will drag thee, and all thine,
away; ravens wilt tear thee in stripes." At this dreadful vision he was
much afraid, and tells it to Thord Istermage, who was chief over the
valley. He replies, "The very same vision came to me." In the morning
they ordered the signal to sound for a Thing, and said that it appeared
to them advisable to hold a Thing with the man who had come from the
north with this new teaching, to know if there was any truth in it.
Gudbrand then said to his son, "Go thou, and twelve men with thee, to
the king who gave thee thy life." He went straightway, and found the
king, and laid before him their errand; namely, that the bondes would
hold a Thing with him, and make a truce between them and him. The king
was content; and they bound themselves by faith and law mutually to hold
the peace so long as the Thing lasted. After this was settled the men
returned to Gudbrand and Thord, and told them there was made a firm
agreement for a truce. The king, after the battle with the son of
Gudbrand, had proceeded to Lidstad, and remained there for five days:
afterwards he went out to meet the bondes, and hold a Thing with them.
On that day there fell a heavy rain. When the Thing was seated, the
king stood up and said that the people in Lesjar, Loaf, and Vagar
had received Christianity, broken down their houses of sacrifice, and
believed now in the true God who had made heaven and earth and knows all

Thereupon the king sat down, and Gudbrand replies, "We know nothing of
him whom thou speakest about. Dost thou call him God, whom neither thou
nor any one else can see? But we have a god who call be seen every day,
although he is not out to-day, because the weather is wet, and he will
appear to thee terrible and very grand; and I expect that fear will mix
with your very blood when he comes into the Thing. But since thou sayest
thy God is so great, let him make it so that to-morrow we have a cloudy
day but without rain, and then let us meet again."

The king accordingly returned home to his lodging, taking Gudbrand's
son as a hostage; but he gave them a man as hostage in exchange. In
the evening the king asked Gudbrand's son what like their god was. He
replied, that he bore the likeness of Thor; had a hammer in his hand;
was of great size, but hollow within; and had a high stand, upon which
he stood when he was out. "Neither gold nor silver are wanting about
him, and every day he receives four cakes of bread, besides meat." They
then went to bed, but the king watched all night in prayer. When day
dawned the king went to mass, then to table, and from thence to the
Thing. The weather was such as Gudbrand desired. Now the bishop stood up
in his choir-robes, with bishop's coif upon his head, and bishop's staff
in his hands. He spoke to the bondes of the true faith, told the many
wonderful acts of God, and concluded his speech well.

Thord Istermage replies, "Many things we are told of by this horned man
with the staff in his hand crooked at the top like a ram's horn; but
since ye say, comrades, that your god is so powerful, and can do so many
wonders, tell him to make it clear sunshine to-morrow forenoon, and then
we shall meet here again, and do one of two things,--either agree with
you about this business, or fight you." And they separated for the day.


There was a man with King Olaf called Kolbein Sterke (the strong), who
came from a family in the Fjord district. Usually he was so equipped
that he was girt with a sword, and besides carried a great stake,
otherwise called a club, in his hands. The king told Kolbein to stand
nearest to him in the morning; and gave orders to his people to go down
in the night to where the ships of the bondes lay and bore holes in
them, and to set loose their horses on the farms where they were; all
which was done. Now the king was in prayer all the night, beseeching God
of His goodness and mercy to release him from evil. When mass was ended,
and morning was grey, the king went to the Thing. When he came there
some bondes had already arrived, and they saw a great crowd coming
along, and bearing among them a huge man's image glancing with gold and
silver. When the bondes who were at the Thing saw it they started up,
and bowed themselves down before the ugly idol. Thereupon it was set
down upon the Thing-field; and on the one side of it sat the bondes, and
on the other the king and his people.

Then Dale-Gudbrand stood up, and said, "Where now, king, is thy god? I
think he will now carry his head lower; and neither thou, nor the man
with the horn whom ye call bishop, and sits there beside thee, are so
bold to-day as on the former days; for now our god, who rules over all,
is come, and looks on you with an angry eye; and now I see well enough
that ye are terrified, and scarcely dare to raise your eyes. Throw away
now all your opposition, and believe in the god who has all your fate in
his hands."

The king now whispers to Kolbein Sterke, without the bondes perceiving
it, "If it come so in the course of my speech that the bondes look
another way than towards their idol, strike him as hard as thou canst
with thy club."

The king then stood up and spoke. "Much hast thou talked to us this
morning, and greatly hast thou wondered that thou canst not see our God;
but we expect that he will soon come to us. Thou wouldst frighten us
with thy god, who is both blind and deaf, and can neither save himself
nor others, and cannot even move about without being carried; but now
I expect it will be but a short time before he meets his fate: for turn
your eyes towards the east,--behold our God advancing in great light."

The sun was rising, and all turned to look. At that moment Kolbein gave
their god a stroke, so that the idol burst asunder; and there ran out of
it mice as big almost as cats, and reptiles, and adders. The bondes were
so terrified that some fled to their ships; but when they sprang out
upon them they filled with water, and could not get away. Others ran to
their horses, but could not find them. The king then ordered the bondes
to be called together, saying he wanted to speak with them; on which the
bondes came back, and the Thing was again seated.

The king rose up and said, "I do not understand what your noise and
running mean. Ye see yourselves what your god can do,--the idol ye
adorned with gold and silver, and brought meat and provisions to. Ye
see now that the protecting powers who used it were the mice and adders,
reptiles and paddocks; and they do ill who trust to such, and will not
abandon this folly. Take now your gold and ornaments that are lying
strewed about on the grass, and give them to your wives and daughters;
but never hang them hereafter upon stock or stone. Here are now two
conditions between us to choose upon,--either accept Christianity,
or fight this very day; and the victory be to them to whom the God we
worship gives it."

Then Dale-Gudbrand stood up and said, "We have sustained great damage
upon our god; but since he will not help us, we will believe in the God
thou believest in."

Then all received Christianity. The bishop baptized Gudbrand and his
son. King Olaf and Bishop Sigurd left behind them teachers, and they
who met as enemies parted as friends; and Gudbrand built a church in the


King Olaf proceeded from thence to Hedemark, and baptized there; but
as he had formerly carried away their kings as prisoners, he did not
venture himself, after such a deed, to go far into the country with few
people at that time, but a small part of Hedemark was baptized; but
the king did not desist from his expedition before he had introduced
Christianity over all Hedemark, consecrated churches, and placed
teachers. He then went to Hadaland and Thoten, improving the customs of
the people, and persisting until all the country was baptized. He then
went to Ringerike, where also all people went over to Christianity. The
people of Raumarike then heard that Olaf intended coming to them, and
they gathered a great force. They said among themselves that the journey
Olaf had made among them the last time was not to be forgotten, and he
should never proceed so again. The king, notwithstanding, prepared for
the journey. Now when the king went up into Raumarike with his forces,
the multitude of bondes came against him at a river called Nitja; and
the bondes had a strong army, and began the battle as soon as they met;
but they soon fell short, and took to flight. They were forced by this
battle into a better disposition, and immediately received Christianity;
and the king scoured the whole district, and did not leave it until
all the people were made Christians. He then went east to Soleys, and
baptized that neighbourhood. The skald Ottar Black came to him there,
and begged to be received among his men. Olaf the Swedish king had died
the winter before (A.D. 1021), and Onund, the son of Olaf, was now the
sole king over all Sweden. King Olaf returned, when the winter (A.D.
1022) was far advanced, to Raumarike. There he assembled a numerous
Thing, at a place where the Eidsvold Things have since been held. He
made a law, that the Upland people should resort to this Thing, and that
Eidsvold laws should be good through all the districts of the Uplands,
and wide around in other quarters, which also has taken place. As spring
was advancing, he rigged his ships, and went by sea to Tunsberg.
He remained there during the spring, and the time the town was most
frequented, and goods from other countries were brought to the town for
sale. There had been a good year in Viken, and tolerable as far north as
Stad; but it was a very dear time in all the country north of there.


In spring (A.D. 1022) King Olaf sent a message west to Agder, and north
all the way to Hordaland and Rogaland, prohibiting the exporting or
selling of corn, malt, or meal; adding, that he, as usual, would come
there with his people in guest-quarters. The message went round all the
districts; but the king remained in Viken all summer, and went east
to the boundary of the country. Einar Tambaskelfer had been with the
Swedish king Olaf since the death of his relation Earl Svein, and had,
as the khag's man, received great fiefs from him. Now that the king was
dead, Einar had a great desire to come into friendship agreement with
Olaf; and the same spring messages passed between them about it. While
the king was lying in the Gaut river, Einar Tambaskelfer came there with
some men; and after treating about an agreement, it was settled that
Einar should go north to Throndhjem, and there take possession of all
the lands and property which Bergliot had received in dower. Thereupon
Einar took his way north; but the king remained behind in Viken, and
remained long in Sarpsborg in autumn (A.D. 1022), and during the first
part of winter.


Erling Skjalgson held his dominion so, that all north from Sogn Lake,
and east to the Naze, the bondes stood under him; and although he had
much smaller royal fiefs than formerly, still so great a dread of him
prevailed that nobody dared to do anything against his will, so that
the king thought his power too great. There was a man called Aslak
Fitiaskalle, who was powerful and of high birth. Erling's father Skjalg,
and Aslak's father Askel, were brother's sons. Aslak was a great friend
of King Olaf, and the king settled him in South Hordaland, where he gave
him a great fief, and great income, and ordered him in no respect to
give way to Erling. But this came to nothing when the king was not in
the neighbourhood; for then Erling would reign as he used to do, and was
not more humble because Aslak would thrust himself forward as his equal.
At last the strife went so far that Aslak could not keep his place, but
hastened to King Olaf, and told him the circumstances between him and
Erling. The king told Aslak to remain with him until he should meet
Erling; and sent a message to Erling that he should come to him in
spring at Tunsberg. When they all arrived there they held a meeting at
which the king said to him, "It is told me concerning thy government,
Erling, that no man from Sogn Lake to the Naze can enjoy his freedom for
thee; although there are many men there who consider themselves born
to udal rights, and have their privileges like others born as they are.
Now, here is your relation Aslak, who appears to have suffered great
inconvenience from your conduct; and I do not know whether he himself is
in fault, or whether he suffers because I have placed him to defend what
is mine; and although I name him, there are many others who have brought
the same complaint before us, both among those who are placed in office
in our districts, and among the bailiffs who have our farms to manage,
and are obliged to entertain me and my people."

Erling replies to this, "I will answer at once. I deny altogether that I
have ever injured Aslak, or any one else, for being in your service; but
this I will not deny, that it is now, as it has long been, that each of
us relations will willingly be greater than the other: and, moreover,
I freely acknowledge that I am ready to bow my neck to thee, King Olaf;
but it is more difficult for me to stoop before one who is of slave
descent in all his generation, although he is now your bailiff, or
before others who are but equal to him in descent, although you bestow
honours on them."

Now the friends of both interfered, and entreated that they would be
reconciled; saying, that the king never could have such powerful aid as
from Erling, "if he was your friend entirely." On the other hand, they
represent to Erling that he should give up to the king; for if he was
in friendship with the king, it would be easy to do with all the others
what he pleased. The meeting accordingly ended so that Erling should
retain the fiefs he formerly had, and every complaint the king had
against Erling should be dropped; but Skjalg, Erling's son, should
come to the king, and remain in his power. Then Aslak returned to his
dominions, and the two were in some sort reconciled. Erling returned
home also to his domains, and followed his own way of ruling them.


There was a man named Sigurd Thoreson, a brother of Thorer Hund of
Bjarkey Island. Sigurd was married to Sigrid Skjalg's daughter, a sister
of Erling. Their son, called Asbjorn, became as he grew up a very
able man. Sigurd dwelt at Omd in Thrandarnes, and was a very rich and
respected man. He had not gone into the king's service; and Thorer in so
far had attained higher dignity than his brother, that he was the king's
lenderman. But at home, on his farm, Sigurd stood in no respect behind
his brother in splendour and magnificence. As long as heathenism
prevailed, Sigurd usually had three sacrifices every year: one on
winter-night's eve, one on mid-winter's eve, and the third in summer.
Although he had adopted Christianity, he continued the same custom with
his feasts: he had, namely, a great friendly entertainment at harvest
time; a Yule feast in winter, to which he invited many; the third feast
he had about Easter, to which also he invited many guests. He continued
this fashion as long as he lived. Sigurd died on a bed of sickness when
Asbjorn was eighteen years old. He was the only heir of his father, and
he followed his father's custom of holding three festivals every year.
Soon after Asbjorn came to his heritage the course of seasons began to
grow worse, and the corn harvests of the people to fail; but Asbjorn
held his usual feasts, and helped himself by having old corn, and an old
provision laid up of all that was useful. But when one year had passed
and another came, and the crops were no better than the year before,
Sigrid wished that some if not all of the feasts should be given up.
That Asbjorn would not consent to, but went round in harvest among his
friends, buying corn where he could get it, and some he received in
presents. He thus kept his feasts this winter also; but the spring after
people got but little seed into the ground, for they had to buy
the seed-corn. Then Sigurd spoke of diminishing the number of their
house-servants. That Asbjorn would not consent to, but held by the old
fashion of the house in all things. In summer (A.D. 1022) it appeared
again that there would be a bad year for corn; and to this came the
report from the south that King Olaf prohibited all export of corn,
malt, or meal from the southern to the northern parts of the country.
Then Asbjorn perceived that it would be difficult to procure what was
necessary for a house-keeping, and resolved to put into the water a
vessel for carrying goods which he had, and which was large enough to
go to sea with. The ship was good, all that belonged to her was of the
best, and in the sails were stripes of cloth of various colours. Asbjorn
made himself ready for a voyage, and put to sea with twenty men. They
sailed from the north in summer; and nothing is told of their voyage
until one day, about the time the days begin to shorten, they came to
Karmtsund, and landed at Augvaldsnes. Up in the island Karmt there is
a large farm, not far from the sea, and a large house upon it called
Augvaldsnes, which was a king's house, with an excellent farm, which
Thorer Sel, who was the king's bailiff, had under his management. Thorer
was a man of low birth, but had swung himself up in the world as an
active man; and he was polite in speech, showy in clothes, and fond
of distinction, and not apt to give way to others, in which he was
supported by the favour of the king. He was besides quick in speech,
straightforward, and free in conversation. Asbjorn, with his company,
brought up there for the night; and in the morning, when it was light,
Thorer went down to the vessel with some men, and inquired who commanded
the splendid ship. Asbjorn named his own and his father's name. Thorer
asks where the voyage was intended for, and what was the errand.

Asbjorn replies, that he wanted to buy corn and malt; saying, as was
true, that it was a very dear time north in the country. "But we are
told that here the seasons are good; and wilt thou, farmer, sell us
corn? I see that here are great corn stacks, and it would be very
convenient if we had not to travel farther."

Thorer replies, "I will give thee the information that thou needst not
go farther to buy corn, or travel about here in Rogaland; for I can tell
thee that thou must turn about, and not travel farther, for the king
forbids carrying corn out of this to the north of the country. Sail back
again, Halogalander, for that will be thy safest course."

Asbjorn replies, "If it be so, bonde, as thou sayest, that we can get
no corn here to buy, I will, notwithstanding, go forward upon my errand,
and visit my family in Sole, and see my relation Erling's habitation."

Thorer: "How near is thy relationship to Erling?"

Asbjorn: "My mother is his sister."

Thorer: "It may be that I have spoken heedlessly, if so be that thou art
sister's son of Erling."

Thereupon Asbjorn and his crew struck their tents, and turned the ship
to sea. Thorer called after them. "A good voyage, and come here again on
your way back." Asbjorn promised to do so, sailed away, and came in the
evening to Jadar. Asbjorn went on shore with ten men; the other ten
men watched the ship. When Asbjorn came to the house he was very
well received, and Erling was very glad to see him, placed him beside
himself, and asked him all the news in the north of the country. Asbjorn
concealed nothing of his business from him; and Erling said it happened
unfortunately that the king had just forbid the sale of corn. "And I
know no man here." says he, "who has courage to break the king's order,
and I find it difficult to keep well with the king, so many are trying
to break our friendship."

Asbjorn replies, "It is late before we learn the truth. In my childhood
I was taught that my mother was freeborn throughout her whole descent,
and that Erling of Sole was her boldest relation; and now I hear thee
say that thou hast not the freedom, for the king's slaves here in Jadar,
to do with thy own corn what thou pleasest."

Erling looked at him, smiled through his teeth, and said, "Ye
Halogalanders know less of the king's power than we do here; but a bold
man thou mayst be at home in thy conversation. Let us now drink, my
friend, and we shall see tomorrow what can be done in thy business."

They did so, and were very merry all the evening. The following day
Erling and Asbjorn talked over the matter again, and Erling said. "I
have found out a way for you to purchase corn, Asbjorn. It is the same
thing to you whoever is the seller." He answered that he did not care of
whom he bought the corn, if he got a good right to his purchase. Erling
said. "It appears to me probable that my slaves have quite as much
corn as you require to buy; and they are not subject to law, or land
regulation, like other men." Asbjorn agreed to the proposal. The slaves
were now spoken to about the purchase, and they brought forward corn and
malt, which they sold to Asbjorn, so that he loaded his vessel with what
he wanted. When he was ready for sea Erling followed him on the road,
made him presents of friendship, and they took a kind farewell of each
other. Asbjorn got a good breeze, landed in the evening at Karmtsund,
near to Augvaldsnes, and remained there for the night. Thorer Sel had
heard of Asbjorn's voyage, and also that his vessel was deeply laden.
Thorer summoned people to him in the night, so that before daylight he
had sixty men; and with these he went against Asbjorn as soon as it was
light, and went out to the ship just as Asbjorn and his men were putting
on their clothes. Asbjorn saluted Thorer, and Thorer asked what kind of
goods Asbjorn had in the vessel.

He replied, "Corn and malt."

Thorer said, "Then Erling is doing as he usually does, and despising the
king's orders, and is unwearied in opposing him in all things, insomuch
that it is wonderful the king suffers it."

Thorer went on scolding in this way, and when he was silent Asbjorn said
that Erling's slaves had owned the corn.

Thorer replied hastily, that he did not regard Erling's tricks. "And
now, Asbjorn, there is no help for it; ye must either go on shore, or we
will throw you overboard; for we will not be troubled with you while we
are discharging the cargo."

Asbjorn saw that he had not men enough to resist Thorer; therefore
he and his people landed, and Thorer took the whole cargo out of the
vessel. When the vessel was discharged Thorer went through the ship, and
observed. "Ye Halogalanders have good sails: take the old sail of our
vessel and give it them; it is good enough for those who are sailing
in a light vessel." Thus the sails were exchanged. When this was done
Asbjorn and his comrades sailed away north along the coast, and did not
stop until they reached home early in whiter. This expedition was talked
of far and wide, and Asbjorn had no trouble that winter in making feasts
at home. Thorer Hund invited Asbjorn and his mother, and also all whom
they pleased to take along with him, to a Yule feast; but Asbjorn sat
at home, and would not travel, and it was to be seen that Thorer thought
Asbjorn despised his invitation, since he would not come. Thorer scoffed
much at Asbjorn's voyage. "Now," said he, "it is evident that Asbjorn
makes a great difference in his respect towards his relations; for in
summer he took the greatest trouble to visit his relation Erling in
Jadar, and now will not take the trouble to come to me in the next
house. I don't know if he thinks there may be a Thorer Sel in his way
upon every holm." Such words, and the like sarcasms, Asbjorn heard of;
and very ill satisfied he was with his voyage, which had thus made him
a laughing-stock to the country, and he remained at home all winter, and
went to no feasts.


Asbjorn had a long-ship standing in the noust (shipshed), and it was
a snekke (cutter) of twenty benches; and after Candlemas (February
2, 1023), he had the vessel put in the water, brought out all his
furniture, and rigged her out. He then summoned to him his friends and
people, so that he had nearly ninety men all well armed. When he was
ready for sea, and got a wind, he sailed south along the coast, but as
the wind did not suit, they advanced but slowly. When they came farther
south they steered outside the rocks, without the usual ships' channel,
keeping to sea as much as it was possible to do so. Nothing is related
of his voyage before the fifth day of Easter (April 18, 1023), when,
about evening, they came on the outside of Karmt Island. This island is
so shaped that it is very long, but not broad at its widest part; and
without it lies the usual ships' channel. It is thickly inhabited;
but where the island is exposed to the ocean great tracts of it are
uncultivated. Asbjorn and his men landed at a place in the island that
was uninhabited. After they had set up their ship-tents Asbjorn said,
"Now ye must remain here and wait for me. I will go on land in the isle,
and spy what news there may be which we know nothing of." Asbjorn had
on mean clothes, a broadbrimmed hat, a fork in his hand, but had girt on
his sword under his clothes. He went up to the land, and in through the
island; and when he came upon a hillock, from which he could see the
house on Augvaldsnes, and on as far as Karmtsund, he saw people in all
quarters flocking together by land and by sea, and all going up to the
house of Augvaldsnes. This seemed to him extraordinary; and therefore
he went up quietly to a house close by, in which servants were cooking
meat. From their conversation he discovered immediately that the king
Olaf had come there to a feast, and that he had just sat down to table.
Asbjorn turned then to the feasting-room, and when he came into the
ante-room one was going in and another coming out; but nobody took
notice of him. The hall-door was open, and he saw that Thorer Sel stood
before the table of the high-seat. It was getting late in the evening,
and Asbjorn heard people ask Thorer what had taken place between him
and Asbjorn; and Thorer had a long story about it, in which he evidently
departed from the truth. Among other things he heard a man say, "How did
Asbjorn behave when you discharged his vessel?" Thorer replied, "When we
were taking out the cargo he bore it tolerably, but not well; and when
we took the sail from him he wept." When Asbjorn heard this he suddenly
drew his sword, rushed into the hall, and cut at Thorer. The stroke took
him in the neck, so that the head fell upon the table before the king,
and the body at his feet, and the table-cloth was soiled with blood from
top to bottom. The king ordered him to be seized and taken out. This
was done. They laid hands on Asbjorn, and took him from the hall. The
table-furniture and table-cloths were removed, and also Thorer's corpse,
and all the blood wiped up. The king was enraged to the highest; but
remained quiet in speech, as he always was when in anger.


Skjalg Erlingson stood up, went before the king, and said, "Now may it
go, as it often does, that every case will admit of alleviation. I will
pay thee the mulct for the bloodshed on account of this man, so that
he may retain life and limbs. All the rest determine and do, king,
according to thy pleasure."

The king replies, "Is it not a matter of death, Skjalg, that a man
break the Easter peace; and in the next place that he kills a man in
the king's lodging; and in the third that he makes my feet his
execution-block, although that may appear a small matter to thee and thy

Skjalg replies, "It is ill done, king, in as far as it displeases thee;
but the deed is, otherwise, done excellently well. But if the deed
appear to thee so important, and be so contrary to thy will, yet may I
expect something for my services from thee; and certainly there are many
who will say that thou didst well."

The king replies, "Although thou hast made me greatly indebted to thee,
Skjalg, for thy services, yet I will not for thy sake break the law, or
cast away my own dignity."

Then Skjalg turned round, and went out of the hall. Twelve men who had
come with Skjalg all followed him, and many others went out with him.
Skjalg said to Thorarin Nefiulfson, "If thou wilt have me for a friend,
take care that this man be not killed before Sunday." Thereupon Skjalg
and his men set off, took a rowing boat which he had, and rowed south as
fast as they could, and came to Jadar with the first glimpse of morning.
They went up instantly to the house, and to the loft in which Erling
slept. Skjalg rushed so hard against the door that it burst asunder at
the nails. Erling and the others who were within started up. He was in
one spring upon his legs, grasped his shield and sword, and rushed to
the door, demanding who was there. Skjalg named himself, and begs him to
open the door. Erling replies, "It was most likely to be thee who
hast behaved so foolishly; or is there any one who is pursuing thee?"
Thereupon the door was unlocked. Then said Skjalg, "Although it appears
to thee that I am so hasty, I suppose our relation Asbjorn will not
think my proceedings too quick; for he sits in chains there in the north
at Augvaldsnes, and it would be but manly to hasten back and stand by
him." The father and son then had a conversation together, and Skjalg
related the whole circumstances of Thorer Sel's murder.


King Olaf took his seat again when everything in the hall was put in
order, and was enraged beyond measure. He asked how it was with the
murderer. He was answered, that he was sitting out upon the doorstep
under guard.

The king says, "Why is he not put to death?"

Thorarin Nefiulfson replies, "Sire, would you not call it murder to kill
a man in the night-time?"

The king answers, "Put him in irons then, and kill him in the morning."

Then Asbjorn was laid in chains, and locked up in a house for the night.
The day after the king heard the morning mass, and then went to the
Thing, where he sat till high mass. As he was going to mass he said
to Thorarin, "Is not the sun high enough now in the heavens that your
friend Asbjorn may be hanged?"

Thorarin bowed before the king, and said, "Sire, it was said by Bishop
Sigurd on Friday last, that the King who has all things in his power
had to endure great temptation of spirit; and blessed is he who rather
imitates him, than those who condemned the man to death, or those
who caused his slaughter. It is not long till tomorrow, and that is a
working day."

The king looked at him, and said, "Thou must take care then that he is
not put to death to-day; but take him under thy charge, and know for
certain that thy own life shall answer for it if he escape in any way."

Then the king went away. Thorarin went also to where Asbjorn lay in
irons, took off his chains, and brought him to a small room, where
he had meat and drink set before him, and told him what the king had
determined in case Asbjorn ran away. Asbjorn replies, that Thorarin need
not be afraid of him. Thorarin sat a long while with him during the day,
and slept there all night. On Saturday the king arose and went to the
early mass, and from thence he went to the Thing, where a great many
bondes were assembled, who had many complaints to be determined. The
king sat there long in the day, and it was late before the people went
to high mass. Thereafter the king went to table. When he had got meat he
sat drinking for a while, so that the tables were not removed. Thorarin
went out to the priest who had the church under his care, and gave him
two marks of silver to ring in the Sabbath as soon as the king's table
was taken away. When the king had drunk as much as he wished the tables
were removed. Then said the king, that it was now time for the slaves
to go to the murderer and put him to death. In the same moment the bell
rang in the Sabbath.

Then Thorarin went before the king, and said, "The Sabbath-peace this
man must have, although he has done evil."

The king said, "Do thou take care, Thorarin, that he do not escape."

The king then went to the church, and attended the vesper service, and
Thorarin sat the whole day with Asbjorn. On Sunday the bishop visited
Asbjorn, confessed him, and gave him orders to hear high mass. Thorarin
then went to the king, and asked him to appoint men to guard the
murderer. "I will now," he said, "be free of this charge." The king
thanked him for his care, and ordered men to watch over Asbjorn, who was
again laid in chains. When the people went to high mass Asbjorn was led
to the church, and he stood outside of the church with his guard; but
the king and all the people stood in the church at mass.


Now we must again take up our story where we left it,--that Erling
and his son Skjalg held a council on this affair, and according to
the resolution of Erling, and of Skjalg and his other sons, it was
determined to assemble a force and send out message-tokens. A great
multitude of people accordingly came together. They got ready with all
speed, rigged their ships, and when they reckoned upon their force they
found they had nearly 1500 men. With this war-force they set off, and
came on Sunday to Augvaldsnes on Karmt Island. They went straight up to
the house with all the men, and arrived just as the Scripture lesson was
read. They went directly to the church, took Asbjorn, and broke off
his chains. At the tumult and clash of arms all who were outside of the
church ran into it; but they who were in the church looked all towards
them, except the king, who stood still, without looking around him.
Erling and his sons drew up their men on each side of the path which led
from the church to the hall, and Erling with his sons stood next to the
hall. When high mass was finished the king went immediately out of the
church, and first went through the open space between the ranks drawn
up, and then his retinue, man by man; and as he came to the door Erling
placed himself before the door, bowed to the king, and saluted him. The
king saluted him in return, and prayed God to help him. Erling took up
the word first, and said, "My relation, Asbjorn, it is reported to me,
has been guilty of misdemeanor, king; and it is a great one, if he has
done anything that incurs your displeasure. Now I am come to entreat for
him peace, and such penalties as you yourself may determine; but that
thereby he redeem life and limb, and his remaining here in his native

The king replies, "It appears to me, Erling, that thou thinkest the case
of Asbjorn is now in thy own power, and I do not therefore know why thou
speakest now as if thou wouldst offer terms for him. I think thou hast
drawn together these forces because thou are determined to settle what
is between us."

Erling replies, "Thou only, king, shalt determine, and determine so that
we shall be reconciled."

The king: "Thinkest thou, Erling, to make me afraid? And art thou come
here in such force with that expectation? No, that shall not be; and if
that be thy thought, I must in no way turn and fly."

Erling replies, "Thou hast no occasion to remind me how often I have
come to meet thee with fewer men than thou hadst. But now I shall not
conceal what lies in my mind, namely, that it is my will that we now
enter into a reconciliation; for otherwise I expect we shall never meet
again." Erling was then as red as blood in the face.

Now Bishop Sigurd came forward to the king and said, "Sire, I entreat
you on God Almighty's account to be reconciled with Erling according to
his offer,--that the man shall retain life and limb, but that thou shalt
determine according to thy pleasure all the other conditions."

The king replies, "You will determine."

Then said the bishop, "Erling, do thou give security for Asbjorn, such
as the king thinks sufficient, and then leave the conditions to the
mercy of the king, and leave all in his power."

Erling gave a surety to the king on his part, which he accepted.

Thereupon Asbjorn received his life and safety, and delivered himself
into the king's power, and kissed his hand.

Erling then withdrew with his forces, without exchanging salutation with
the king; and the king went into the hall, followed by Asbjorn. The king
thereafter made known the terms of reconciliation to be these:--"In the
first place, Asbjorn, thou must submit to the law of the land, which
commands that the man who kills a servant of the king must undertake
his service, if the king will. Now I will that thou shalt undertake the
office of bailiff which Thorer Sel had, and manage my estate here in
Augvaldsnes." Asbjorn replies, that it should be according to the king's
will; "but I must first go home to my farm, and put things in order
there." The king was satisfied with this, and proceeded to another
guest-quarter. Asbjorn made himself ready with his comrades, who all
kept themselves concealed in a quiet creek during the time Asbjorn was
away from them. They had had their spies out to learn how it went with
him, and would not depart without having some certain news of him.


Asbjorn then set out on his voyage, and about spring (A.D. 1023) got
home to his farm. After this exploit he was always called Asbjorn
Selsbane. Asbjorn had not been long at home before he and his relation
Thorer met and conversed together, and Thorer asked Asbjorn particularly
all about his journey, and about all the circumstances which had
happened on the course of it. Asbjorn told everything as it had taken

Then said Thorer, "Thou thinkest that thou hast well rubbed out the
disgrace of having been plundered in last harvest."

"I think so," replies Asbjorn; "and what is thy opinion, cousin?"

"That I will soon tell thee," said Thorer. "Thy first expedition to the
south of the country was indeed very disgraceful, and that disgrace has
been redeemed; but this expedition is both a disgrace to thee and to thy
family, if it end in thy becoming the king's slave, and being put on
a footing with that worst of men, Thorer Sel. Show that thou art manly
enough to sit here on thy own property, and we thy relations shall so
support thee that thou wilt never more come into such trouble."

Asbjorn found this advice much to his mind; and before they parted it
was firmly, determined that Asbjorn should remain on his farm, and not
go back to the king or enter into his service. And he did so, and sat
quietly at home on his farm.


After King Olaf and Erling Skjalgson had this meeting at Augvaldsnes,
new differences arose between them, and increased so much that they
ended in perfect enmity. In spring (A.D. 1023) the king proceeded to
guest-quarters in Hordaland, and went up also to Vors, because he heard
there was but little of the true faith among the people there. He held
a Thing with the bondes at a place called Vang, and a number of bondes
came to it fully armed. The king ordered them to adopt Christianity; but
they challenged him to battle, and it proceeded so far that the men
were drawn up on both sides. But when it came to the point such a fear
entered into the blood of the bondes that none would advance or command,
and they chose the part which was most to their advantage; namely, to
obey the king and receive Christianity; and before the king left them
they were all baptized. One day it happened that the king was riding on
his way a singing of psalms, and when he came right opposite some hills
he halted and said, "Man after man shall relate these my words, that
I think it not advisable for any king of Norway to travel hereafter
between these hills." And it is a saying among the people that the
most kings since that time have avoided it. The king proceeded to
Ostrarfjord, and came to his ships, with which he went north to Sogn,
and had his living in guest-quarters there in summer (A.D. 1023); when
autumn approached he turned in towards the Fjord district, and went
from thence to Valders, where the people were still heathen. The king
hastened up to the lake in Valders, came unexpectedly on the bondes,
seized their vessels, and went on board of them with all his men. He
then sent out message-tokens, and appointed a Thing so near the lake
that he could use the vessels if he found he required them. The bondes
resorted to the Thing in a great and well-armed host; and when he
commanded them to accept Christianity the bondes shouted against him,
told him to be silent, and made a great uproar and clashing of weapons.
But when the king saw that they would not listen to what he would teach
them, and also that they had too great a force to contend with, he
turned his discourse, and asked if there were people at the Thing who
had disputes with each other which they wished him to settle. It was
soon found by the conversation of the bondes that they had many quarrels
among themselves, although they had all joined in speaking against
Christianity. When the bondes began to set forth their own cases, each
endeavored to get some upon his side to support him; and this lasted
the whole day long until evening, when the Thing was concluded. When the
bondes had heard that the king had travelled to Valders, and was come
into their neighborhood, they had sent out message-tokens summoning
the free and the unfree to meet in arms, and with this force they had
advanced against the king; so that the neighbourhood all around was left
without people. When the Thing was concluded the bondes still remained
assembled; and when the king observed this he went on board his ships,
rowed in the night right across the water, landed in the country there,
and began to plunder and burn. The day after the king's men rowed
from one point of land to another, and over all the king ordered the
habitations to be set on fire. Now when the bondes who were assembled
saw what the king was doing, namely, plundering and burning, and saw the
smoke and flame of their houses, they dispersed, and each hastened to
his own home to see if he could find those he had left. As soon as there
came a dispersion among the crowd, the one slipped away after the other,
until the whole multitude was dissolved. Then the king rowed across
the lake again, burning also on that side of the country. Now came the
bondes to him begging for mercy, and offering to submit to him. He gave
every man who came to him peace if he desired it, and restored to him
his goods; and nobody refused to adopt Christianity. The king then had
the people christened, and took hostages from the bondes. He ordered
churches to be built and consecrated, and placed teachers in them. He
remained a long time here in autumn, and had his ships drawn across the
neck of land between the two lakes. The king did not go far from the
sides of the lakes into the country, for he did not much trust the
bondes. When the king thought that frost might be expected, he went
further up the country, and came to Thoten. Arnor, the earl's skald,
tells how King Olaf burnt in the Uplands, in the poem he composed
concerning the king's brother King Harald:--

     "Against the Upland people wroth,
     Olaf, to most so mild, went forth:
          The houses burning,
          All people mourning;
          Who could not fly
          Hung on gallows high.
     It was, I think, in Olaf's race
     The Upland people to oppress."

Afterwards King Olaf went north through the valleys to Dovrefield, and
did not halt until he reached the Throndhjem district and arrived at
Nidaros, where he had ordered winter provision to be collected, and
remained all winter (A.D. 1024). This was the tenth year of his reign.


The summer before Einar Tambaskelfer left the country, and went westward
to England (A.D. 1023). There he met his relative Earl Hakon, and stayed
some time with him. He then visited King Canute, from whom he received
great presents. Einar then went south all the way to Rome, and came back
the following summer (A.D. 1024), and returned to his house and land.
King Olaf and Einar did not meet this time.


There was a girl whose name was Alfhild, and who was usually called
the king's slave-woman, although she was of good descent. She was
a remarkably handsome girl, and lived in King Olaf's court. It was
reported this spring that Alfhild was with child, and the king's
confidential friends knew that he was father of the child. It happened
one night that Alfhild was taken ill, and only few people were at hand;
namely, some women, priests, Sigvat the skald, and a few others. Alfhild
was so ill that she was nearly dead; and when she was delivered of a
man-child, it was some time before they could discover whether the child
was in life. But when the infant drew breath, although very weak, the
priest told Sigvat to hasten to the king, and tell him of the event.

He replies, "I dare not on any account waken the king; for he has forbid
that any man should break his sleep until he awakens of himself."

The priest replies, "It is of necessity that this child be immediately
baptized, for it appears to me there is but little life in it."

Sigvat said, "I would rather venture to take upon me to let thee baptize
the child, than to awaken the king; and I will take it upon myself if
anything be amiss, and will give the child a name."

They did so; and the child was baptized, and got the name of Magnus.
The next morning, when the king awoke and had dressed himself, the
circumstance was told him. He ordered Sigvat to be called, and said.
"How camest thou to be so bold as to have my child baptized before I
knew anything about it?"

Sigvat replies, "Because I would rather give two men to God than one to
the devil."

The king--"What meanest thou?"

Sigvat--"The child was near death, and must have been the devil's if it
had died as a heathen, and now it is God's. And I knew besides that if
thou shouldst be so angry on this account that it affected my life, I
would be God's also."

The king asked, "But why didst thou call him Magnus, which is not a name
of our race?"

Sigvat--"I called him after King Carl Magnus, who, I knew, had been the
best man in the world."

Then said the king, "Thou art a very lucky man, Sigvat; but it is not
wonderful that luck should accompany understanding. It is only wonderful
how it sometimes happens that luck attends ignorant men, and that
foolish counsel turns out lucky." The king was overjoyed at the
circumstance. The boy grew up, and gave good promise as he advanced in


The same spring (A.D. 1024) the king gave into the hands of Asmund
Grankelson the half of the sheriffdom of the district of Halogaland,
which Harek of Thjotta had formerly held, partly in fief, partly for
defraying the king's entertainment in guest-quarters. Asmund had a ship
manned with nearly thirty well-armed men. When Asmund came north he
met Harek, and told him what the king had determined with regard to
the district, and produced to him the tokens of the king's full powers.
Harek said, "The king had the right to give the sheriffdom to whom he
pleased; but the former sovereigns had not been in use to diminish our
rights who are entitled by birth to hold powers from the king, and to
give them into the hands of the peasants who never before held such
offices." But although it was evident that it was against Harek's
inclination, he allowed Asmund to take the sheriffdom according to the
king's order. Then Asmund proceeded home to his father, stayed there a
short time, and then went north to Halogaland to his sheriffdom; and
he came north to Langey Island, where there dwelt two brothers called
Gunstein and Karle, both very rich and respectable men. Gunstein, the
eldest of the brothers, was a good husbandman. Karle was a handsome
man in appearance, and splendid in his dress; and both were, in many
respects, expert in all feats. Asmund was well received by them,
remained with them a while, and collected such revenues of his
sheriffdom as he could get. Karle spoke with Asmund of his wish to go
south with him and take service in the court of King Olaf, to which
Asmund encouraged him much, promising his influence with the king
for obtaining for Karle such a situation as he desired; and Karle
accordingly accompanied Asmund. Asmund heard that Asbjorn, who had
killed Thorer Sel, had gone to the market-meeting of Vagar with a
large ship of burden manned with nearly twenty men, and that he was now
expected from the south. Asmund and his retinue proceeded on their way
southwards along the coast with a contrary wind, but there was little of
it. They saw some of the fleet for Vagar sailing towards them; and they
privately inquired of them about Asbjorn, and were told he was upon
the way coming from the south. Asmund and Karle were bedfellows, and
excellent friends. One day, as Asmund and his people were rowing through
a sound, a ship of burden came sailing towards them. The ship was easily
known, having high bulwarks, was painted with white and red colours, and
coloured cloth was woven in the sail. Karle said to Asmund, "Thou hast
often said thou wast curious to see Asbjorn who killed Thorer Sel; and
if I know one ship from another, that is his which is coming sailing

Asmund replies, "Be so good, comrade, and tell me which is he when thou
seest him."

When the ships came alongside of each other, "That is Asbjorn," said
Karle; "the man sitting at the helm in a blue cloak."

Asmund replies, "I shall make his blue cloak red;" threw a spear at
Asbjorn, and hit him in the middle of the body, so that it flew through
and through him, and stuck fast in the upper part of the stern-post;
and Asbjorn fell down dead from the helm. Then each vessel sailed on its
course, and Asbjorn's body was carried north to Thrandarnes. Then Sigrid
sent a message to Bjarkey Isle to Thorer Hund, who came to her while
they were, in the usual way, dressing the corpse of Asbjorn. When he
returned Sigrid gave presents to all her friends, and followed Thorer
to his ship; but before they parted she said, "It has so fallen out,
Thorer, that my son has suffered by thy friendly counsel, but he did not
retain life to reward thee for it; but although I have not his ability
yet will I show my good will. Here is a gift I give thee, which I expect
thou wilt use. Here is the spear which went through Asbjorn my son, and
there is still blood upon it, to remind thee that it fits the wound
thou hast seen on the corpse of thy brother's son Asbjorn. It would be
a manly deed, if thou shouldst throw this spear from thy hand so that
it stood in Olaf's breast; and this I can tell thee, that thou wilt be
named coward in every man's mouth, if thou dost not avenge Asbjorn."
Thereupon she turned about, and went her way.

Thorer was so enraged at her words that he could not speak. He neither
thought of casting the spear from him, nor took notice of the gangway;
so that he would have fallen into the sea, if his men had not laid hold
of him as he was going on board his ship. It was a feathered spear; not
large, but the handle was gold-mounted. Now Thorer rowed away with his
people, and went home to Bjarkey Isle. Asmund and his companions also
proceeded on their way until they came south to Throndhjem, where
they waited on King Olaf; and Asmund related to the king all that had
happened on the voyage. Karle became one of the king's court-men, and
the friendship continued between him and Asmund. They did not keep
secret the words that had passed between Asmund and Karle before Asbjorn
was killed; for they even told them to the king. But then it happened,
according to the proverb, that every one has a friend in the midst of
his enemies. There were some present who took notice of the words, and
they reached Thorer Hund's ears.


When spring (A.D. 1024) was advanced King Olaf rigged out his ships,
and sailed southwards in summer along the land. He held Things with the
bondes on the way, settled the law business of the people, put to rights
the faith of the country, and collected the king's taxes wherever he
came. In autumn he proceeded south to the frontier of the country; and
King Olaf had now made the people Christians in all the great districts,
and everywhere, by laws, had introduced order into the country. He had
also, as before related, brought the Orkney Islands under his power, and
by messages had made many friends in Iceland, Greenland, and the Farey
Islands. King Olaf had sent timber for building a church to Iceland, of
which a church was built upon the Thing-field where the General Thing is
held, and had sent a bell for it, which is still there. This was after
the Iceland people had altered their laws, and introduced Christianity,
according to the word King Olaf had sent them. After that time, many
considerable persons came from Iceland, and entered into King Olaf's
service; as Thorkel Eyjolfson, and Thorleif Bollason, Thord Kolbeinson,
Thord Barkarson, Thorgeir Havarson, Thormod Kalbrunar-skald. King Olaf
had sent many friendly presents to chief people in Iceland; and they
in return sent him such things as they had which they thought most
acceptable. Under this show of friendship which the king gave Iceland
were concealed many things which afterwards appeared.


King Olaf this summer (A.D. 1024) sent Thorarin Nefiulfson to Iceland
on his errands; and Thorarin went out of Throndhjem fjord along with the
king, and followed him south to More. From thence Thorarin went out
to sea, and got such a favourable breeze that after four days sail he
landed at the Westman Isles, in Iceland. He proceeded immediately to the
Althing, and came just as the people were upon the Lawhillock, to which
he repaired. When the cases of the people before the Thing had been
determined according to law, Thorarin Nefiulfson took up the word as
follows:--"We parted four days ago from King Olaf Haraldson, who sends
God Almighty's and his own salutation to all the chiefs and principal
men of the land; as also to all the people in general, men and women,
young and old, rich and poor. He also lets you know that he will be your
sovereign if ye will become his subjects, so that he and you will be
friends, assisting each other in all that is good."

The people replied in a friendly way, that they would gladly be the
king's friends, if he would be a friend of the people of their country.

Then Thorarin again took up the word:--"This follows in addition to the
king's message, that he will in friendship desire of the people of the
north district that they give him the island, or out-rock, which lies at
the mouth of Eyfjord, and is called Grimsey, for which he will give you
from his country whatever good the people of the district may desire.
He sends this message particularly to Gudmund of Modruvellir to support
this matter, because he understands that Gudmund has most influence in
that quarter."

Gudmund replies, "My inclination is greatly for King Olaf's friendship,
and that I consider much more useful than the out-rock he desires. But
the king has not heard rightly if he think I have more power in this
matter than any other, for the island is a common. We, however, who have
the most use of the isle, will hold a meeting among ourselves about it."

Then the people went to their tent-houses; and the Northland people had
a meeting among themselves, and talked over the business, and every one
spoke according to his judgment. Gudmund supported the matter, and many
others formed their opinions by his. Then some asked why his brother
Einar did not speak on the subject. "We think he has the clearest
insight into most things."

Einar answers, "I have said so little about the matter because nobody
has asked me about it; but if I may give my opinion, our countrymen
might just as well make themselves at once liable to land-scat to King
Olaf, and submit to all his exactions as he has them among his people in
Norway; and this heavy burden we will lay not only upon ourselves, but
on our sons, and their sons, and all our race, and on all the community
dwelling and living in this land, which never after will be free from
this slavery. Now although this king is a good man, as I well believe
him to be, yet it must be hereafter, when kings succeed each other, that
some will be good, and some bad. Therefore if the people of this country
will preserve the freedom they have enjoyed since the land was first
inhabited, it is not advisable to give the king the smallest spot to
fasten himself upon the country by, and not to give him any kind of scat
or service that can have the appearance of a duty. On the other hand,
I think it very proper that the people send the king such friendly
presents of hawks or horses, tents or sails, or such things which are
suitable gifts; and these are well applied if they are repaid with
friendship. But as to Grimsey Isle, I have to say, that although nothing
is drawn from it that can serve for food, yet it could support a great
war-force cruising from thence in long-ships; and then, I doubt not,
there would be distress enough at every poor peasant's door."

When Einar had thus explained the proper connection of the matter,
the whole community were of one mind that such a thing should not be
permitted; and Thorarin saw sufficiently well what the result of his
errand was to be.


The day following, Thorarin went again to the Lawhill, and brought
forward his errand in the following words:--"King Olaf sends his message
to his friends here in the country, among whom he reckons Gudmund
Eyjolfson, Snorre Gode, Thorkel Eyjolfson, Skapte the lagman, and
Thorstein Halson, and desires them by me to come to him on a friendly
visit; and adds, that ye must not excuse yourselves, if you regard his
friendship as worth anything." In their answer they thanked the king for
his message and added, that they would afterwards give a reply to it
by Thorarin when they had more closely considered the matter with their
friends. The chiefs now weighed the matter among themselves, and each
gave his own opinion about the journey. Snorre and Skapte dissuaded from
such a dangerous proceeding with the people of Norway; namely, that
all the men who had the most to say in the country should at once leave
Iceland. They added, that from this message, and from what Einar had
said, they had the suspicion that the king intended to use force and
strong measures against the Icelanders if he ruled in the country.
Gudmund and Thorkel Eyjolfson insisted much that they should follow King
Olaf's invitation, and called it a journey of honour. But when they had
considered the matter on all sides, it was at last resolved that they
should not travel themselves, but that each of them should send in
his place a man whom they thought best suited for it. After this
determination the Thing was closed, and there was no journey that
summer. Thorarin made two voyages that summer, and about harvest was
back again at King Olaf's, and reported the result of his mission,
and that some of the chiefs, or their sons, would come from Iceland
according to his message.


The same summer (A.D. 1024) there came from the Farey Islands to Norway,
on the king's invitation, Gille the lagman, Leif Ossurson, Thoralf of
Dimun, and many other bondes' sons. Thord of Gata made himself ready for
the voyage; but just as he was setting out he got a stroke of palsy,
and could not come, so he remained behind. Now when the people from
the Farey Isles arrived at King Olaf's, he called them to him to a
conference, and explained the purpose of the journey he had made them
take, namely, that he would have scat from the Farey Islands, and also
that the people there should be subject to the laws which the king
should give them. In that meeting it appeared from the king's words that
he would make the Farey people who had come answerable, and would bind
them by oath to conclude this union. He also offered to the men whom he
thought the ablest to take them into his service, and bestow honour and
friendship on them. These Farey men understood the king's words so, that
they must dread the turn the matter might take if they did not submit to
all that the king desired. Although they held several meetings about
the business before it ended, the king's desire at last prevailed.
Leif, Gille, and Thoralf went into the king's service, and became his
courtmen; and they, with all their travelling companions, swore the oath
to King Olaf, that the law and land privilege which he set them should
be observed in the Farey Islands, and also the scat be levied that he
laid upon them. Thereafter the Farey people prepared for their return
home, and at their departure the king gave those who had entered into
his service presents in testimony of his friendship, and they went their
way. Now the king ordered a ship to be rigged, manned it, and sent men
to the Farey Islands to receive the scat from the inhabitants which they
should pay him. It was late before they were ready; but they set off at
last: and of their journey all that is to be told is, that they did not
come back, and no scat either, the following summer; for nobody had come
to the Farey Isles, and no man had demanded scat there.


King Olaf proceeded about harvest time to Viken, and sent a message
before him to the Uplands that they should prepare guest-quarters for
him, as he intended to be there in winter. Afterwards he made ready for
his journey, and went to the Uplands, and remained the winter there;
going about in guest-quarters, and putting things to rights where he saw
it needful, advancing also the cause of Christianity wheresoever it was
requisite. It happened while King Olaf was in Hedemark that Ketil Kalf
of Ringanes courted Gunhild, a daughter of Sigurd Syr and of King
Olaf's mother Asta. Gunhild was a sister of King Olaf, and therefore it
belonged to the king to give consent and determination to the business.
He took it in a friendly way; for he know Ketil, that he was of high
birth, wealthy, and of good understanding, and a great chief; and also
he had long been a great friend of King Olaf, as before related. All
these circumstances induced the king to approve of the match, and so it
was that Ketil got Gunhild. King Olaf was present at the wedding. From
thence the king went north to Gudbrandsdal, where he was entertained in
guest-quarters. There dwelt a man, by name Thord Guthormson, on a farm
called Steig; and he was the most powerful man in the north end of the
valley. When Thord and the king met, Thord made proposals for Isrid,
the daughter of Gudbrand, and the sister of King Olaf's mother, as it
belonged to the king to give consent. After the matter was considered,
it was determined that the marriage should proceed, and Thord got
Isrid. Afterwards Thord was the king's faithful friend, and also many of
Thord's relations and friends, who followed his footsteps. From thence
King Olaf returned south through Thoten and Hadaland, from thence to
Ringerike, and so to Viken. In spring (A.D. 1025) he went to Tunsberg,
and stayed there while there was the market-meeting, and a great resort
of people. He then had his vessels rigged out, and had many people about


The same summer (A.D. 1025) came Stein, a son of the lagman Skapte, from
Iceland, in compliance with King Olaf's message; and with him Thorod,
a son of Snorre the gode, and Geller, a son of Thorkel Eyjolfson, and
Egil, a son of Hal of Sida, brother of Thorstein Hal. Gudmund Eyjolfson
had died the winter before. These Iceland men repaired to King Olaf as
soon as they had opportunity; and when they met the king they were well
received, and all were in his house. The same summer King Olaf heard
that the ship was missing which he had sent the summer before to the
Farey Islands after the scat, and nobody knew what had become of it.
The king fitted out another ship, manned it, and sent it to the Farey
Islands for the scat. They got under weigh, and proceeded to sea; but
as little was ever heard of this vessel as of the former one, and many
conjectures were made about what had become of them.


During this time Canute the Great, called by some Canute the Old,
was king of England and Denmark. Canute the Great was a son of
Svein Haraldson Forkedbeard, whose forefathers, for a long course
of generations, had ruled over Denmark. Harald Gormson, Canute's
grandfather, had conquered Norway after the fall of Harald Grafeld,
Gunhild's son, had taken scat from it, and had placed Earl Hakon the
Great to defend the country. The Danish King, Svein Haraldson, ruled
also over Norway, and placed his son-in-law Earl Eirik, the son of Earl
Hakon, to defend the country. The brothers Eirik and Svein, Earl Hakon's
sons, ruled the land until Earl Eirik went west to England, on the
invitation of his brother-in-law Canute the Great, when he left behind
his son Earl Hakon, sister's son of Canute the Great, to govern Norway.
But when Olaf the Thick came first to Norway, as before related, he took
prisoner Earl Hakon the son of Eirik, and deposed him from the kingdom.
Then Hakon proceeded to his mother's brother, Canute the Great, and had
been with him constantly until the time to which here in our saga we
have now come. Canute the Great had conquered England by blows and
weapons, and had a long struggle before the people of the land were
subdued. But when he had set himself perfectly firm in the government of
the country, he remembered that he also had right to a kingdom which he
had not brought under his authority; and that was Norway. He thought he
had hereditary right to all Norway; and his sister's son Hakon, who had
held a part of it, appeared to him to have lost it with disgrace. The
reason why Canute and Hakon had remained quiet with respect to their
claims upon Norway was, that when King Olaf Haraldson landed in Norway
the people and commonalty ran together in crowds, and would hear of
nothing but that Olaf should be king over all the country, although some
afterwards, who thought that the people upon account of his power had
no self-government left to them, went out of the country. Many powerful
men, or rich bondes sons, had therefore gone to Canute the Great, and
pretended various errands; and every one who came to Canute and desired
his friendship was loaded with presents. With Canute, too, could be
seen greater splendour and pomp than elsewhere, both with regard to the
multitude of people who were daily in attendance, and also to the other
magnificent things about the houses he owned and dwelt in himself.
Canute the Great drew scat and revenue from the people who were the
richest of all in northern lands; and in the same proportion as he had
greater revenues than other kings, he also made greater presents than
other kings. In his whole kingdom peace was so well established, that
no man dared break it. The people of the country kept the peace towards
each other, and had their old country law: and for this he was greatly
celebrated in all countries. And many of those who came from Norway
represented their hardships to Earl Hakon, and some even to King Canute
himself; and that the Norway people were ready to turn back to the
government of King Canute, or Earl Hakon, and receive deliverance from
them. This conversation suited well the earl's inclination, and he
carried it to the king, and begged of him to try if King Olaf would not
surrender the kingdom, or at least come to an agreement to divide it;
and many supported the earl's views.


Canute the Great sent men from the West, from England, to Norway, and
equipped them magnificently for the journey. They were bearers of the
English king Canute's letter and seal. They came about spring (A.D.
1025) to the king of Norway, Olaf Haraldson, in Tunsberg. Now when it
was told the king that ambassadors had arrived from Canute the Great
he was ill at ease, and said that Canute had not sent messengers hither
with any messages that could be of advantage to him or his people; and
it was some days before the ambassadors could come before the king. But
when they got permission to speak to him they appeared before the king,
and made known King Canute's letter, and their errand which accompanied
it; namely, "that King Canute considers all Norway as his property, and
insists that his forefathers before him have possessed that kingdom; but
as King Canute offers peace to all countries, he will also offer peace
to all here, if it can be so settled, and will not invade Norway with
his army if it can be avoided. Now if King Olaf Haraldson wishes to
remain king of Norway, he will come to King Canute, and receive his
kingdom as a fief from him, become his vassal, and pay the scat which
the earls before him formerly paid." Thereupon they presented their
letters, which contained precisely the same conditions.

Then King Olaf replies, "I have heard say, by old stories, that the
Danish king Gorm was considered but a small king of a few people, for he
ruled over Denmark alone; but the kings who succeeded him thought that
was too little. It has since come so far that King Canute rules over
Denmark and England, and has conquered for himself a great part of
Scotland. Now he claims also my paternal heritage, and will then show
some moderation in his covetousness. Does he wish to rule over all the
countries of the North? Will he eat up all the kail in England? He shall
do so, and reduce that country to a desert, before I lay my head in his
hands, or show him any other kind of vassalage. Now ye shall tell him
these my words,--I will defend Norway with battle-axe and sword as long
as life is given me, and will pay scat to no man for my kingdom."

After this answer King Canute's ambassadors made themselves ready for
their journey home, and were by no means rejoiced at the success of
their errand.

Sigvat the skald had been with King Canute, who had given him a gold
ring that weighed half a mark. The skald Berse Skaldtorfason was also
there, and to him King Canute gave two gold rings, each weighing two
marks, and besides a sword inlaid with gold. Sigvat made this song about

     "When we came o'er the wave, you cub,
          When we came o'er the wave,
     To me one ring, to thee two rings,
          The mighty Canute gave:
     One mark to me,
     Four marks to thee,--
          A sword too, fine and brave.
     Now God knows well,
     And skalds can tell,
          What justice here would crave."

Sigvat the skald was very intimate with King Canute's messengers, and
asked them many questions. They answered all his inquiries about their
conversation with King Olaf, and the result of their message. They said
the king listened unwillingly to their proposals. "And we do not know,"
say they, "to what he is trusting when he refuses becoming King Canute's
vassal, and going to him, which would be the best thing he could do; for
King Canute is so mild that however much a chief may have done against
him, he is pardoned if he only show himself obedient. It is but lately
that two kings came to him from the North, from Fife in Scotland, and he
gave up his wrath against them, and allowed them to retain all the lands
they had possessed before, and gave them besides very valuable gifts."
Then Sigvat sang:--

     "From the North land, the midst of Fife,
     Two kings came begging peace and life;
     Craving from Canute life and peace,--
     May Olaf's good luck never cease!
     May he, our gallant Norse king, never
     Be brought, like these, his head to offer
     As ransom to a living man
     For the broad lands his sword has won."

King Canute's ambassadors proceeded on their way back, and had a
favourable breeze across the sea. They came to King Canute, and told
him the result of their errand, and King Olaf's last words. King Canute
replies, "King Olaf guesses wrong, if he thinks I shall eat up all the
kail in England; for I will let him see that there is something else
than kail under my ribs, and cold kail it shall be for him." The same
summer (A.D. 1025) Aslak and Skjalg, the sons of Erling of Jadar,
came from Norway to King Canute, and were well received; for Aslak was
married to Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Svein Hakonson, and she and Earl
Hakon Eirikson were brothers' children. King Canute gave these brothers
great fiefs over there, and they stood in great favour.


King Olaf summoned to him all the lendermen, and had a great many people
about him this summer (A.D. 1025), for a report was abroad that King
Canute would come from England. People had heard from merchant vessels
that Canute was assembling a great army in England. When summer was
advanced, some affirmed and others denied that the army would come. King
Olaf was all summer in Viken, and had spies out to learn if Canute was
come to Denmark. In autumn (A.D. 1025) he sent messengers eastward
to Svithjod to his brother-in-law King Onund, and let him know King
Canute's demand upon Norway; adding, that, in his opinion, if Canute
subdued Norway, King Onund would not long enjoy the Swedish dominions
in peace. He thought it advisable, therefore, that they should unite
for their defence. "And then," said he, "we will have strength enough
to hold out against Canute." King Onund received King Olaf's message
favourably, and replied to it, that he for his part would make common
cause with King Olaf, so that each of them should stand by the one
who first required help with all the strength of his kingdom. In these
messages between them it was also determined that they should have a
meeting, and consult with each other. The following winter (A.D. 1026)
King Onund intended to travel across West Gautland, and King Olaf made
preparations for taking his winter abode at Sarpsborg.


In autumn King Canute the Great came to Denmark, and remained there
all winter (A.D. 1026) with a numerous army. It was told him that
ambassadors with messages had been passing between the Swedish and
Norwegian kings, and that some great plans must be concerting between
them. In winter King Canute sent messengers to Svithjod, to King Onund,
with great gifts and messages of friendship. He also told Onund that
he might sit altogether quiet in this strife between him and Olaf the
Thick; "for thou, Onund," says he, "and thy kingdom, shall be in peace
as far as I am concerned." When the ambassadors came to King Onund
they presented the gifts which King Canute sent him, together with the
friendly message. King Onund did not hear their speech very willingly,
and the ambassadors could observe that King Onund was most inclined to
a friendship with King Olaf. They returned accordingly, and told King
Canute the result of their errand, and told him not to depend much upon
the friendship of King Onund.


This winter (A.D. 1026) King Olaf sat in Sarpsborg, and was surrounded
by a very great army of people. He sent the Halogalander Karle to the
north country upon his business. Karle went first to the Uplands, then
across the Dovrefield, and came down to Nidaros, where he received as
much money as he had the king's order for, together with a good ship,
such as he thought suitable for the voyage which the king had ordered
him upon; and that was to proceed north to Bjarmaland. It was settled
that the king should be in partnership with Karle, and each of them have
the half of the profit. Early in spring Karle directed his course to
Halogaland, where his brother Gunstein prepared to accompany him, having
his own merchant goods with him. There were about twenty-five men in the
ship; and in spring they sailed north to Finmark. When Thorer Hund heard
this, he sent a man to the brothers with the verbal message that he
intended in summer to go to Bjarmaland, and that he would sail with
them, and that they should divide what booty they made equally between
them. Karle sent him back the message that Thorer must have twenty-five
men as they had, and they were willing to divide the booty that might
be taken equally, but not the merchant goods which each had for himself.
When Thorer's messenger came back he had put a stout long-ship he owned
into the water, and rigged it, and he had put eighty men on board of
his house-servants. Thorer alone had the command over this crew, and he
alone had all the goods they might acquire on the cruise. When Thorer
was ready for sea he set out northwards along the coast, and found Karle
a little north of Sandver. They then proceeded with good wind. Gunstein
said to his brother, as soon as they met Thorer, that in his opinion
Thorer was strongly manned. "I think," said he, "we had better turn back
than sail so entirely in Thorer's power, for I do not trust him." Karle
replies, "I will not turn back, although if I had known when we were at
home on Langey Isle that Thorer Hund would join us on this voyage with
so large a crew as he has, I would have taken more hands with us." The
brothers spoke about it to Thorer, and asked what was the meaning of
his taking more people with him than was agreed upon between them. He
replies, "We have a large ship which requires many hands, and methinks
there cannot be too many brave lads for so dangerous a cruise." They
went in summer as fast in general as the vessels could go. When the wind
was light the ship of the brothers sailed fastest, and they separated;
but when the wind freshened Thorer overtook them. They were seldom
together, but always in sight of each other. When they came to
Bjarmaland they went straight to the merchant town, and the market
began. All who had money to pay with got filled up with goods. Thorer
also got a number of furs, and of beaver and sable skins. Karle had a
considerable sum of money with him, with which he purchased skins and
furs. When the fair was at an end they went out of the Vina river, and
then the truce of the country people was also at an end. When they came
out of the river they held a seaman's council, and Thorer asked the
crews if they would like to go on the land and get booty.

They replied, that they would like it well enough, if they saw the booty
before their eyes.

Thorer replies, that there was booty to be got, if the voyage proved
fortunate; but that in all probability there would be danger in the

All said they would try, if there was any chance of booty. Thorer
explained, that it was so established in this land, that when a rich
man died all his movable goods were divided between the dead man and his
heirs. He got the half part, or the third part, or sometimes less, and
that part was carried out into the forest and buried,--sometimes under a
mound, sometimes in the earth, and sometimes even a house was built over
it. He tells them at the same time to get ready for this expedition at
the fall of day. It was resolved that one should not desert the other,
and none should hold back when the commander ordered them to come on
board again. They now left people behind to take care of the ships,
and went on land, where they found flat fields at first, and then great
forests. Thorer went first, and the brothers Karle and Gunstein in rear.
Thorer commanded the people to observe the utmost silence. "And let us
peel the bark off the trees," says he, "so that one tree-mark can be
seen from the other." They came to a large cleared opening, where there
was a high fence upon which there was a gate that was locked. Six men of
the country people held watch every night at this fence, two at a time
keeping guard, each two for a third part of the night, when Thorer and
his men came to the fence the guard had gone home, and those who should
relieve them had not yet come upon guard. Thorer went to the fence,
stuck his axe up in it above his head, hauled himself up by it, and so
came over the fence, and inside the gate. Karle had also come over the
fence, and to the inside of the gate; so that both came at once to the
port, took the bar away, and opened the port; and then the people got in
within the fence. Then said Thorer, "Within this fence there is a mound
in which gold, and silver, and earth are all mixed together: seize that.
But within here stands the Bjarmaland people's god Jomala: let no one
be so presumptuous as to rob him." Thereupon they went to the mound and
took as much of the money as they could carry away in their clothes,
with which, as might be expected, much earth was mixed. Thereafter
Thorer said that the people now should retreat. "And ye brothers, Karle
and Gunstein," says he, "do ye lead the way, and I will go last." They
all went accordingly out of the gate: but Thorer went back to Jomala,
and took a silver bowl that stood upon his knee full of silver money.
He put the silver in his purse, and put his arm within the handle of the
bowl, and so went out of the gate. The whole troop had come without
the fence; but when they perceived that Thorer had stayed behind, Karle
returned to trace him, and when they met upon the path Thorer had the
silver bowl with him. Thereupon Karle immediately ran to Jomala; and
observing he had a thick gold ornament hanging around his neck, he
lifted his axe, cut the string with which the ornament was tied behind
his neck, and the stroke was so strong that the head of Jomala rang
with such a great sound that they were all astonished. Karle seized the
ornament, and they all hastened away. But the moment the sound was made
the watchmen came forward upon the cleared space, and blew their horns.
Immediately the sound of the loor (1) was heard all around from every
quarter, calling the people together. They hastened to the forest, and
rushed into it; and heard the shouts and cries on the other side of the
Bjarmaland people in pursuit. Thorer Hund went the last of the whole
troop; and before him went two men carrying a great sack between them,
in which was something that was like ashes. Thorer took this in his
hand, and strewed it upon the footpath, and sometimes over the people.
They came thus out of the woods, and upon the fields, but heard
incessantly the Bjarmaland people pursuing with shouts and dreadful
yells. The army of the Bjarmaland people rushed out after them upon
the field, and on both sides of them; but neither the people nor their
weapons came so near as to do them any harm: from which they perceived
that the Bjarmaland people did not see them. Now when they reached their
ships Karle and his brother went on board; for they were the foremost,
and Thorer was far behind on the land. As soon as Karle and his men were
on board they struck their tents, cast loose their land ropes, hoisted
their sails, and their ship in all haste went to sea. Thorer and his
people, on the other hand, did not get on so quickly, as their vessel
was heavier to manage; so that when they got under sail, Karle and his
people were far off from land. Both vessels sailed across the White sea
(Gandvik). The nights were clear, so that both ships sailed night and
day; until one day, towards the time the day turns to shorten, Karle
and his people took up the land near an island, let down the sail, cast
anchor, and waited until the slack-tide set in, for there was a strong
rost before them. Now Thorer came up, and lay at anchor there also.
Thorer and his people then put out a boat, went into it, and rowed to
Karle's ship. Thorer came on board, and the brothers saluted him. Thorer
told Karle to give him the ornament. "I think," said he, "that I have
best earned the ornaments that have been taken, for methinks ye have
to thank me for getting away without any loss of men; and also I think
thou, Karle, set us in the greatest fright."

Karle replies, "King Olaf has the half part of all the goods I gather on
this voyage, and I intend the ornament for him. Go to him, if you like,
and it is possible he will give thee the ornament, although I took it
from Jomala."

Then Thorer insisted that they should go upon the island, and divide the

Gunstein says, "It is now the turn of the tide, and it is time to sail."
Whereupon they began to raise their anchor.

When Thorer saw that, he returned to his boat and rowed to his own ship.
Karle and his men had hoisted sail, and were come a long way before
Thorer got under way. They now sailed so that the brothers were always
in advance, and both vessels made all the haste they could. They sailed
thus until they came to Geirsver, which is the first roadstead of the
traders to the North. They both came there towards evening, and lay in
the harbour near the landing-place. Thorer's ship lay inside, and the
brothers' the outside vessel in the port. When Thorer had set up his
tents he went on shore, and many of his men with him. They went to
Karle's ship, which was well provided. Thorer hailed the ship, and told
the commanders to come on shore; on which the brothers, and some men
with them, went on the land. Now Thorer began the same discourse, and
told them to bring the goods they got in booty to the land to have them
divided. The brothers thought that was not necessary, until they had
arrived at their own neighbourhood. Thorer said it was unusual not to
divide booty but at their own home, and thus to be left to the honour of
other people. They spoke some words about it, but could not agree. Then
Thorer turned away; but had not gone far before he came back, and tells
his comrades to wait there. Thereupon he calls to Karle, and says he
wants to speak with him alone. Karle went to meet him; and when he came
near, Thorer struck at him with a spear, so that it went through him.
"There," said Thorer, "now thou hast learnt to know a Bjarkey Island
man. I thought thou shouldst feel Asbjorn's spear." Karle died
instantly, and Thorer with his people went immediately on board their
ship. When Gunstein and his men saw Karle fall they ran instantly to
him, took his body and carried it on board their ship, struck their
tents, and cast off from the pier, and left the land. When Thorer and
his men saw this, they took down their tents and made preparations to
follow. But as they were hoisting the sail the fastenings to the mast
broke in two, and the sail fell down across the ship, which caused a
great delay before they could hoist the sail again. Gunstein had already
got a long way ahead before Thorer's ship fetched way, and now they
used both sails and oars. Gunstein did the same. On both sides they
made great way day and night; but so that they did not gain much on each
other, although when they came to the small sounds among the islands
Gunstein's vessel was lighter in turning. But Thorer's ship made way
upon them, so that when they came up to Lengjuvik, Gunstein turned
towards the land, and with all his men ran up into the country, and left
his ship. A little after Thorer came there with his ship, sprang upon
the land after them, and pursued them. There was a woman who helped
Gunstein to conceal himself, and it is told that she was much acquainted
with witchcraft. Thorer and his men returned to the vessels, and took
all the goods out of Gunstein's vessel, and put on board stones in place
of the cargo, and then hauled the ship out into the fjord, cut a hole
in its bottom, and sank it to the bottom. Thereafter Thorer, with his
people, returned home to Bjarkey Isle. Gunstein and his people proceeded
in small boats at first, and lay concealed by day, until they had passed
Bjarkey, and had got beyond Thorer's district. Gunstein went home first
to Langey Isle for a short time, and then proceeded south without any
halt, until he came south to Throndhjem, and there found King Olaf, to
whom he told all that had happened on this Bjarmaland expedition. The
king was ill-pleased with the voyage, but told Gunstein to remain with
him, promising to assist him when opportunity offered. Gunstein took the
invitation with thanks, and stayed with King Olaf.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Ludr--the loor--is a long tube or roll of birch-bark
     used as a horn by the herdboys in the mountains in Norway.


King Olaf was, as before related, in Sarpsborg the winter (A.D. 1026)
that King Canute was in Denmark. The Swedish king Onund rode across West
Gautland the same winter, and had thirty hundred (3600) men with him.
Men and messages passed between them; and they agreed to meet in spring
at Konungahella. The meeting had been postponed, because they wished
to know before they met what King Canute intended doing. As it was now
approaching towards winter, King Canute made ready to go over to England
with his forces, and left his son Hardaknut to rule in Denmark, and with
him Earl Ulf, a son of Thorgils Sprakaleg. Ulf was married to Astrid,
King Svein's daughter, and sister of Canute the Great. Their son Svein
was afterwards king of Denmark. Earl Ulf was a very distinguished man.
When the kings Olaf and Onund heard that Canute the Great had gone
west to England, they hastened to hold their conference, and met at
Konungahella, on the Gaut river. They had a joyful meeting, and had many
friendly conversations, of which something might become known to the
public; but they also spake often a great deal between themselves, with
none but themselves two present, of which only some things afterwards
were carried into effect, and thus became known to every one. At parting
the kings presented each other with gifts, and parted the best of
friends. King Onund went up into Gautland, and Olaf northwards to Viken,
and afterwards to Agder, and thence northwards along the coast, but
lay a long time at Egersund waiting a wind. Here he heard that Erling
Skjalgson, and the inhabitants of Jadar with him, had assembled a large
force. One day the king's people were talking among themselves whether
the wind was south or south-west, and whether with that wind they could
sail past Jadar or not. The most said it was impossible to fetch round.
Then answers Haldor Brynjolfson, "I am of opinion that we would go round
Jadar with this wind fast enough if Erling Skjalgson had prepared a
feast for us at Sole." Then King Olaf ordered the tents to be struck,
and the vessels to be hauled out, which was done. They sailed the
same day past Jadar with the best wind, and in the evening reached
Hirtingsey, from whence the king proceeded to Hordaland, and was
entertained there in guest-quarters.


The same summer (A.D. 1026) a ship sailed from Norway to the Farey
Islands, with messengers carrying a verbal message from King Olaf, that
one of his court-men, Leif Ossurson, or Lagman Gille, or Thoralf of
Dimun, should come over to him from the Farey Islands. Now when this
message came to the Farey Islands, and was delivered to those whom it
concerned, they held a meeting among themselves, to consider what might
lie under this message, and they were all of opinion that the king
wanted to inquire into the real state of the event which some said had
taken place upon the islands; namely, the failure and disappearance of
the former messengers of the king, and the loss of the two ships, of
which not a man had been saved. It was resolved that Thoralf should
undertake the journey. He got himself ready, and rigged out a
merchant-vessel belonging to himself, manned with ten or twelve men.
When it was ready, waiting a wind, it happened, at Austrey, in the house
of Thrand of Gata, that he went one fine day into the room where his
brother's two sons, Sigurd and Thord, sons of Thorlak, were lying upon
the benches in the room. Gaut the Red was also there, who was one of
their relations and a man of distinction. Sigurd was the oldest, and
their leader in all things. Thord had a distinguished name, and was
called Thord the Low, although in reality he was uncommonly tall, and
yet in proportion more strong than large. Then Thrand said, "How many
things are changed in the course of a man's life! When we were young,
it was rare for young people who were able to do anything to sit or lie
still upon a fine day, and our forefathers would scarcely have believed
that Thoralf of Dimun would be bolder and more active than ye are. I
believe the vessel I have standing here in the boat-house will be so old
that it will rot under its coat of tar. Here are all the houses full of
wool, which is neither used nor sold. It should not be so if I were a
few winters younger." Sigurd sprang up, called upon Gaut and Thord,
and said he would not endure Thrand's scoffs. They went out to the
houseservants, and launched the vessel upon the water, brought down a
cargo, and loaded the ship. They had no want of a cargo at home, and
the vessel's rigging was in good order, so that in a few days they were
ready for sea. There were ten or twelve men in the vessel. Thoralf's
ship and theirs had the same wind, and they were generally in sight of
each other. They came to the land at Herna in the evening, and Sigurd
with his vessel lay outside on the strand, but so that there was not
much distance between the two ships. It happened towards evening, when
it was dark, that just as Thoralf and his people were preparing to go to
bed, Thoralf and another went on shore for a certain purpose. When
they were ready, they prepared to return on board. The man who had
accompanied Thoralf related afterwards this story,--that a cloth was
thrown over his head, and that he was lifted up from the ground, and he
heard a great bustle. He was taken away, and thrown head foremost down;
but there was sea under him, and he sank under the water. When he got
to land, he went to the place where he and Thoralf had been parted, and
there he found Thoralf with his head cloven down to his shoulders, and
dead. When the ship's people heard of it they carried the body out to
the ship, and let it remain there all night. King Olaf was at that time
in guest-quarters at Lygra, and thither they sent a message. Now a Thing
was called by message-token, and the king came to the Thing. He had
also ordered the Farey people of both vessels to be summoned, and they
appeared at the Thing. Now when the Thing was seated, the king stood up
and said, "Here an event has happened which (and it is well that it
is so) is very seldom heard of. Here has a good man been put to death,
without any cause. Is there any man upon the Thing who can say who has
done it?"

Nobody could answer.

"Then," said the king, "I cannot conceal my suspicion that this deed has
been done by the Farey people themselves. It appears to me that it has
been done in this way,--that Sigurd Thorlakson has killed the man, and
Thord the Low has cast his comrade into the sea. I think, too, that the
motives to this must have been to hinder Thoralf from telling about the
misdeed of which he had information; namely, the murder which I suspect
was committed upon my messengers."

When he had ended his speech, Sigurd Thorlakson stood up, and desired to
be heard. "I have never before," said he, "spoken at a Thing, and I do
not expect to be looked upon as a man of ready words. But I think there
is sufficient necessity before me to reply something to this. I will
venture to make a guess that the speech the king has made comes from
some man's tongue who is of far less understanding and goodness than he
is, and has evidently proceeded from those who are our enemies. It is
speaking improbabilities to say that I could be Thoralf's murderer; for
he was my foster-brother and good friend. Had the case been otherwise,
and had there been anything outstanding between me and Thoralf, yet I am
surely born with sufficient understanding to have done this deed in the
Farey Islands, rather than here between your hands, sire. But I am ready
to clear myself, and my whole ship's crew, of this act, and to make
oath according to what stands in your laws. Or, if ye find it more
satisfactory, I offer to clear myself by the ordeal of hot iron; and I
wish, sire, that you may be present yourself at the proof."

When Sigurd had ceased to speak there were many who supported his case,
and begged the king that Sigurd might be allowed to clear himself of
this accusation. They thought that Sigurd had spoken well, and that the
accusation against him might be untrue.

The king replies, "It may be with regard to this man very differently,
and if he is belied in any respect he must be a good man; and if not, he
is the boldest I have ever met with: and I believe this is the case, and
that he will bear witness to it himself."

At the desire of the people, the king took Sigurd's obligation to take
the iron ordeal; he should come the following day to Lygra, where the
bishop should preside at the ordeal; and so the Thing closed. The king
went back to Lygra, and Sigurd and his comrades to their ship.

As soon as it began to be dark at night Sigurd said to his ship's
people. "To say the truth, we have come into a great misfortune; for
a great lie is got up against us, and this king is a deceitful, crafty
man. Our fate is easy to be foreseen where he rules; for first he made
Thoralf be slain, and then made us the misdoers, without benefit of
redemption by fine. For him it is an easy matter to manage the iron
ordeal, so that I fear he will come ill off who tries it against him.
Now there is coming a brisk mountain breeze, blowing right out of the
sound and off the land; and it is my advice that we hoist our sail, and
set out to sea. Let Thrand himself come with his wool to market another
summer; but if I get away, it is my opinion I shall never think of
coming to Norway again."

His comrades thought the advice good, hoisted their sail, and in the
night-time took to the open sea with all speed. They did not stop until
they came to Farey, and home to Gata. Thrand was ill-pleased with their
voyage, and they did not answer him in a very friendly way; but they
remained at home, however, with Thrand. The morning after, King Olaf
heard of Sigurd's departure, and heavy reports went round about this
case; and there were many who believed that the accusation against
Sigurd was true, although they had denied and opposed it before the
king. King Olaf spoke but little about the matter, but seemed to know of
a certainty that the suspicion he had taken up was founded in truth. The
king afterwards proceeded in his progress, taking up his abode where it
was provided for him.


King Olaf called before him the men who had come from Iceland, Thorod
Snorrason, Geller Thorkelson, Stein Skaptason, and Egil Halson, and
spoke to them thus:--"Ye have spoken to me much in summer about making
yourselves ready to return to Iceland, and I have never given you a
distinct answer. Now I will tell you what my intention is. Thee, Geller,
I propose to allow to return, if thou wilt carry my message there; but
none of the other Icelanders who are now here may go to Iceland before
I have heard how the message which thou, Geller, shalt bring thither has
been received."

When the king had made this resolution known, it appeared to those who
had a great desire to return, and were thus forbidden, that they were
unreasonably and hardly dealt with, and that they were placed in the
condition of unfree men. In the meantime Geller got ready for his
journey, and sailed in summer (A.D. 1026) to Iceland, taking with him
the message he was to bring before the Thing the following summer (A.D.
1027). The king's message was, that he required the Icelanders to adopt
the laws which he had set in Norway, also to pay him thane-tax and
nose-tax (1); namely, a penny for every nose, and the penny at the rate
of ten pennies to the yard of wadmal (2). At the same time he promised
them his friendship if they accepted, and threatened them with all his
vengeance if they refused his proposals.

The people sat long in deliberation on this business; but at last they
were unanimous in refusing all the taxes and burdens which were demanded
of them. That summer Geller returned back from Iceland to Norway to King
Olaf, and found him in autumn in the east in Viken, just as he had come
from Gautland; of which I shall speak hereafter in this story of King
Olaf. Towards the end of autumn King Olaf repaired north to Throndhjem,
and went with his people to Nidaros, where he ordered a winter residence
to be prepared for him. The winter (A.D. 1027) that he passed here in
the merchant-town of Nidaros was the thirteenth year of his reign.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Nefgildi (nef=nose), a nose-tax or poll-tax payable to the
     king.  This ancient "nose-tax" was also imposed by the
     Norsemen on conquered countries, the penalty for defaulters
     being the loss of their nose.
(2) Wadmal was the coarse woollen cloth made in Iceland, and so
     generally used for clothing that it was a measure of value
     in the North, like money, for other commodities.--L.


There was once a man called Ketil Jamte, a son of Earl Onund of Sparby,
in the Throndhjem district. He fled over the ridge of mountains from
Eystein Illrade, cleared the forest, and settled the country now called
the province of Jamtaland. A great many people joined him from the
Throndhjem land, on account of the disturbances there; for this King
Eystein had laid taxes on the Throndhjem people, and set his dog, called
Saur, to be king over them. Thorer Helsing was Ketil's grandson, and he
colonised the province called Helsingjaland, which is named after him.
When Harald Harfager subdued the kingdom by force, many people fled out
of the country from him, both Throndhjem people and Naumudal people,
and thus new settlements were added to Jamtaland; and some settlers went
even eastwards to Helsingjaland and down to the Baltic coast, and all
became subjects of the Swedish king. While Hakon Athelstan's foster-son
was over Norway there was peace, and merchant traffic from Throndhjem to
Jamtaland; and, as he was an excellent king, the Jamtalanders came from
the east to him, paid him scat, and he gave them laws and administered
justice. They would rather submit to his government than to the Swedish
king's, because they were of Norwegian race; and all the Helsingjaland
people, who had their descent from the north side of the mountain ridge,
did the same. This continued long after those times, until Olaf the
Thick and the Swedish king Olaf quarrelled about the boundaries. Then
the Jamtaland and Helsingjaland people went back to the Swedish king;
and then the forest of Eid was the eastern boundary of the land, and the
mountain ridge, or keel of the country, the northern: and the Swedish
king took scat of Helsingjaland, and also of Jamtaland. Now, thought the
king of Norway, Olaf, in consequence of the agreement between him and
the Swedish king, the scat of Jamtaland should be paid differently than
before; although it had long been established that the Jamtaland people
paid their scat to the Swedish king, and that he appointed officers over
the country. The Swedes would listen to nothing, but that all the land
to the east of the keel of the country belonged to the Swedish king.
Now this went so, as it often happens, that although the kings were
brothers-in-law and relations, each would hold fast the dominions which
he thought he had a right to. King Olaf had sent a message round in
Jamtaland, declaring it to be his will that the Jamtaland people should
be subject to him, threatening them with violence if they refused; but
the Jamtaland people preferred being subjects of the Swedish king.


The Icelanders, Thorod Snorrason and Stein Skaptason, were ill-pleased
at not being allowed to do as they liked. Stein was a remarkably
handsome man, dexterous at all feats, a great poet, splendid in his
apparel, and very ambitious of distinction. His father, Skapte, had
composed a poem on King Olaf, which he had taught Stein, with the
intention that he should bring it to King Olaf. Stein could not now
restrain himself from making the king reproaches in word and speech,
both in verse and prose. Both he and Thorod were imprudent in their
conversation, and said the king would be looked upon as a worse man than
those who, under faith and law, had sent their sons to him, as he now
treated them as men without liberty. The king was angry at this. One day
Stein stood before the king, and asked if he would listen to the poem
which his father Skapte had composed about him. The king replies, "Thou
must first repeat that, Stein, which thou hast composed about me." Stein
replies, that it was not the case that he had composed any. "I am no
skald, sire," said he; "and if I even could compose anything, it, and
all that concerns me, would appear to thee of little value." Stein then
went out, but thought he perceived what the king alluded to. Thorgeir,
one of the king's land-bailiffs, who managed one of his farms in
Orkadal, happened to be present, and heard the conversation of the king
and Stein, and soon afterwards Thorgeir returned home. One night Stein
left the city, and his footboy with him. They went up Gaularas and into
Orkadal. One evening they came to one of the king's farms which Thorgeir
had the management of, and Thorgeir invited Stein to pass the night
there, and asked where he was travelling to. Stein begged the loan of a
horse and sledge, for he saw they were just driving home corn.

Thorgeir replies, "I do not exactly see how it stands with thy journey,
and if thou art travelling with the king's leave. The other day,
methinks, the words were not very sweet that passed between the king and

Stein said, "If it be so that I am not my own master for the king, yet
I will not submit to such treatment from his slaves;" and, drawing his
sword, he killed the landbailiff. Then he took the horse, put the boy
upon him, and sat himself in the sledge, and so drove the whole night.
They travelled until they came to Surnadal in More. There they had
themselves ferried across the fjord, and proceeded onwards as fast as
they could. They told nobody about the murder, but wherever they came
called themselves king's men, and met good entertainment everywhere.
One day at last they came towards evening to Giske Isle, to Thorberg
Arnason's house. He was not at home himself, but his wife Ragnhild,
a daughter of Erling Skjalgson, was. There Stein was well received,
because formerly there had been great friendship between them. It had
once happened, namely, that Stein, on his voyage from Iceland with his
own vessel, had come to Giske from sea, and had anchored at the island.
At that time Ragnhild was in the pains of childbirth, and very ill, and
there was no priest on the island, or in the neighbourhood of it. There
came a message to the merchant-vessel to inquire if, by chance, there
was a priest on board. There happened to be a priest in the vessel, who
was called Bard; but he was a young man from Westfjord, who had little
learning. The messengers begged the priest to go with them, but he
thought it was a difficult matter: for he knew his own ignorance, and
would not go. Stein added his word to persuade the priest. The priest
replies, "I will go if thou wilt go with me; for then I will have
confidence, if I should require advice." Stein said he was willing; and
they went forthwith to the house, and to where Ragnhild was in labour.
Soon after she brought forth a female child, which appeared to be rather
weak. Then the priest baptized the infant, and Stein held it at the
baptism, at which it got the name of Thora; and Stein gave it a gold
ring. Ragnhild promised Stein her perfect friendship, and bade him come
to her whenever he thought he required her help. Stein replied that he
would hold no other female child at baptism, and then they parted.
Now it was come to the time when Stein required this kind promise of
Ragnhild to be fulfilled, and he told her what had happened, and that
the king's wrath had fallen upon him. She answered, that all the aid she
could give should stand at his service; but bade him wait for Thorberg's
arrival. She then showed him to a seat beside her son Eystein Orre,
who was then twelve years old. Stein presented gifts to Ragnhild and
Eystein. Thorberg had already heard how Stein had conducted himself
before he got home, and was rather vexed at it. Ragnhild went to him,
and told him how matters stood with Stein, and begged Thorberg to
receive him, and take care of him.

Thorberg replies, "I have heard that the king, after sending out a
message-token, held a Thing concerning the murder of Thorgeir, and has
condemned Stein as having fled the country, and likewise that the king
is highly incensed: and I have too much sense to take the cause of a
foreigner in hand, and draw upon myself the king's wrath. Let Stein,
therefore, withdraw from hence as quickly as thou canst."

Ragnhild replied, that they should either both go or both stay.

Thorberg told her to go where she pleased. "For I expect," said he,
"that wherever thou goest thou wilt soon come back, for here is thy
importance greatest."

Her son Eystein Orre then stood forward, and said he would not stay
behind if Ragnhild goes.

Thorberg said that they showed themselves very stiff and obstinate in
this matter. "And it appears that ye must have your way in it, since
ye take it so near to heart; but thou art reckoning too much, Ragnhild,
upon thy descent, in paying so little regard to King Olaf's word."

Ragnhild replied, "If thou art so much afraid to keep Stein with thee
here, go with him to my father Erling, or give him attendants, so that
he may get there in safety." Thorberg said he would not send Stein
there; "for there are enough of things besides to enrage the king
against Erling." Stein thus remained there all winter (A.D. 1027).

After Yule a king's messenger came to Thorberg, with the order that
Thorberg should come to him before midsummer; and the order was serious
and severe. Thorberg laid it before his friends, and asked their advice
if he should venture to go to the king after what had taken place. The
greater number dissuaded him, and thought it more advisable to let
Stein slip out of his hands than to venture within the king's power: but
Thorberg himself had rather more inclination not to decline the journey.
Soon after Thorberg went to his brother Fin, told him the circumstances,
and asked him to accompany him. Fin replied, that he thought it foolish
to be so completely under woman's influence that he dared not, on
account of his wife, keep the fealty and law of his sovereign.

"Thou art free," replied Thorberg, "to go with me or not; but I believe
it is more fear of the king than love to him that keeps thee back." And
so they parted in anger.

Then Thorberg went to his brother Arne Arnason, and asked him to go
with him to the king. Arne says, "It appears to me wonderful that such
a sensible, prudent man, should fall into such a misfortune, without
necessity, as to incur the king's indignation. It might be excused if it
were thy relation or foster-brother whom thou hadst thus sheltered; but
not at all that thou shouldst take up an Iceland man, and harbour the
king's outlaw, to the injury of thyself and all thy relations."

Thorberg replies, "It stands good, according to the proverb,--a rotten
branch will be found in every tree. My father's greatest misfortune
evidently was that he had such ill luck in producing sons that at last
he produced one incapable of acting, and without any resemblance to our
race, and whom in truth I never would have called brother, if it were
not that it would have been to my mother's shame to have refused."

Thorberg turned away in a gloomy temper, and went home. Thereafter
he sent a message to his brother Kalf in the Throndhjem district, and
begged him to meet him at Agdanes; and when the messengers found Kalf he
promised, without more ado, to make the journey. Ragnhild sent men east
to Jadar to her father Erling, and begged him to send people. Erling's
sons, Sigurd and Thord, came out, each with a ship of twenty benches
of rowers and ninety men. When they came north Thorberg received them
joyfully, entertained them well, and prepared for the voyage with them.
Thorberg had also a vessel with twenty benches, and they steered their
course northwards. When they came to the mouth of the Throndhjem fjord
Thorberg's two brothers, Fin and Arne, were there already, with two
ships each of twenty benches. Thorberg met his brothers with joy, and
observed that his whetstone had taken effect; and Fin replied he seldom
needed sharpening for such work. Then they proceeded north with all
their forces to Throndhjem, and Stein was along with them. When they
came to Agdanes, Kaff Arnason was there before them; and he also had a
wellmanned ship of twenty benches. With this war-force they sailed up
to Nidaros, where they lay all night. The morning after they had a
consultation with each other. Kalf and Erling's sons were for attacking
the town with all their forces, and leaving the event to fate; but
Thorberg wished that they should first proceed with moderation, and
make an offer; in which opinion Fin and Arne also concurred. It was
accordingly resolved that Fin and Arne, with a few men, should first
wait upon the king. The king had previously heard that they had come so
strong in men, and was therefore very sharp in his speech. Fin offered
to pay mulct for Thorberg, and also for Stein, and bade the king to
fix what the penalties should be, however large; stipulating only for
Thorberg safety and his fiefs, and for Stein life and limb.

The king replies, "It appears to me that ye come from home so equipped
that ye can determine half as much as I can myself, or more; but this I
expected least of all from you brothers, that ye should come against me
with an army; and this counsel, I can observe, has its origin from the
people of Jadar; but ye have no occasion to offer me money in mulct."

Fin replies, "We brothers have collected men, not to offer hostility to
you, sire, but to offer rather our services; but if you will bear down
Thorberg altogether, we must all go to King Canute the Great with such
forces as we have."

Then the king looked at him, and said, "If ye brothers will give your
oaths that ye will follow me in the country and out of the country, and
not part from me without my leave and permission, and shall not conceal
from me any treasonable design that may come to your knowledge against
me, then will I agree to a peace with you brothers."

Then Fin returned to his forces, and told the conditions which the king
had proposed to them. Now they held a council upon it, and Thorberg, for
his part, said he would accept the terms offered. "I have no wish,"
says he, "to fly from my property, and seek foreign masters; but, on the
contrary, will always consider it an honour to follow King Olaf, and
be where he is." Then says Kalf, "I will make no oath to King Olaf, but
will be with him always, so long as I retain my fiefs and dignities, and
so long as the king will be my friend; and my opinion is that we should
all do the same." Fin says, "we will venture to let King Olaf himself
determine in this matter." Arne Arnason says, "I was resolved to follow
thee, brother Thorberg, even if thou hadst given battle to King Olaf,
and I shall certainly not leave thee for listening to better counsel;
so I intend to follow thee and Fin, and accept the conditions ye have

Thereupon the brothers Thorberg, Fin, and Arne, went on board a vessel,
rowed into the fjord, and waited upon the king. The agreement went
accordingly into fulfillment, so that the brothers gave their oaths
to the king. Then Thorberg endeavored to make peace for Stein with the
king; but the king replied that Stein might for him depart in safety,
and go where he pleased, but "in my house he can never be again." Then
Thorberg and his brothers went back to their men. Kalf went to Eggja,
and Fin to the king; and Thorberg, with the other men, went south to
their homes. Stein went with Erling's sons; but early in the spring
(A.D. 1027) he went west to England into the service of Canute the
Great, and was long with him, and was treated with great distinction.


Now when Fin Arnason had been a short time with King Olaf, the king
called him to a conference, along with some other persons he usually
held consultation with; and in this conference the king spoke to this
effect:--"The decision remains fixed in my mind that in spring I should
raise the whole country to a levy both of men and ships, and then
proceed, with all the force I can muster, against King Canute the Great:
for I know for certain that he does not intend to treat as a jest the
claim he has awakened upon my kingdom. Now I let thee know my will, Fin
Arnason, that thou proceed on my errand to Halogaland, and raise the
people there to an expedition, men and ships, and summon that force
to meet me at Agdanes." Then the king named other men whom he sent to
Throndhjem, and some southwards in the country, and he commanded that
this order should be circulated through the whole land. Of Fin's voyage
we have to relate that he had with him a ship with about thirty men,
and when he was ready for sea he prosecuted his journey until he came
to Halogaland. There he summoned the bondes to a Thing, laid before them
his errand, and craved a levy. The bondes in that district had large
vessels, suited to a levy expedition, and they obeyed the king's
message, and rigged their ships. Now when Fin came farther north in
Halogaland he held a Thing again, and sent some of his men from him to
crave a levy where he thought it necessary. He sent also men to Bjarkey
Island to Thorer Hund, and there, as elsewhere, craved the quota to the
levy. When the message came to Thorer he made himself ready, and manned
with his house-servants the same vessel he had sailed with on his cruise
to Bjarmaland, and which he equipped at his own expense. Fin summoned
all the people of Halogaland who were to the north to meet at Vagar.
There came a great fleet together in spring, and they waited there until
Fin returned from the North. Thorer Hund had also come there. When Fin
arrived he ordered the signal to sound for all the people of the levy to
attend a House-Thing; and at it all the men produced their weapons, and
also the fighting men from each ship-district were mustered. When that
was all finished Fin said, "I have also to bring thee a salutation,
Thorer Hund, from King Olaf, and to ask thee what thou wilt offer him
for the murder of his court-man Karle, or for the robbery in taking the
king's goods north in Lengjuvik. I have the king's orders to settle that
business, and I wait thy answer to it."

Thorer looked about him, and saw standing on both sides many fully armed
men, among whom were Gunstein and others of Karle's kindred. Then said
Thorer, "My proposal is soon made. I will refer altogether to the king's
pleasure the matter he thinks he has against me."

Fin replies, "Thou must put up with a less honour; for thou must refer
the matter altogether to my decision, if any agreement is to take

Thorer replies, "And even then I think it will stand well with my case,
and therefore I will not decline referring it to thee."

Thereupon Thorer came forward, and confirmed what he said by giving his
hand upon it; and Fin repeated first all the words he should say.

Fin now pronounced his decision upon the agreement,--that Thorer should
pay to the king ten marks of gold, and to Gunstein and the other kindred
ten marks, and for the robbery and loss of goods ten marks more; and all
which should be paid immediately.

Thorer says, "This is a heavy money mulct."

"Without it," replies Fin, "there will be no agreement."

Thorer says, there must time be allowed to gather so much in loan from
his followers; but Fin told him to pay immediately on the spot; and
besides, Thorer should lay down the great ornament which he took
from Karle when he was dead. Thorer asserted that he had not got the
ornament. Then Gunstein pressed forward, and said that Karle had the
ornament around his neck when they parted, but it was gone when they
took up his corpse. Thorer said he had not observed any ornament; but if
there was any such thing, it must be lying at home in Bjarkey. Then Fin
put the point of his spear to Thorer's breast, and said that he must
instantly produce the ornament; on which Thorer took the ornament from
his neck and gave it to Fin. Thereafter Thorer turned away, and went on
board his ship. Fin, with many other men, followed him, went through
the whole vessel, and took up the hatches. At the mast they saw two very
large casks; and Fin asked, "What are these puncheons?"

Thorer replies, "It is my liquor."

Fin says, "Why don't you give us something to drink then, comrade, since
you have so much liquor?"

Thorer ordered his men to run off a bowlfull from the puncheons, from
which Fin and his people got liquor of the best quality. Now Fin ordered
Thorer to pay the mulcts. Thorer went backwards and forwards through the
ship, speaking now to the one, now to the other, and Fin calling out
to produce the pence. Thorer begged him to go to the shore, and said he
would bring the money there, and Fin with his men went on shore. Then
Thorer came and paid silver; of which, from one purse, there were
weighed ten marks. Thereafter Thorer brought many knotted nightcaps; and
in some was one mark, in others half a mark, and in others some small
money. "This is money my friends and other good people have lent me,"
said he; "for I think all my travelling money is gone." Then Thorer went
back again to his ship, and returned, and paid the silver by little
and little; and this lasted so long that the day was drawing towards
evening. When the Thing had closed the people had gone to their vessels,
and made ready to depart; and as fast as they were ready they hoisted
sail and set out, so that most of them were under sail. When Fin saw
that they were most of them under sail, he ordered his men to get ready
too; but as yet little more than a third part of the mulct had been
paid. Then Fin said, "This goes on very slowly, Thorer, with the
payment. I see it costs thee a great deal to pay money. I shall now let
it stand for the present, and what remains thou shalt pay to the king
himself." Fin then got up and went away.

Thorer replies, "I am well enough pleased, Fin, to part now; but the
good will is not wanting to pay this debt, so that both thou and the
king shall say it is not unpaid."

Then Fin went on board his ship, and followed the rest of his fleet.
Thorer was late before he was ready to come out of the harbour. When
the sails were hoisted he steered out over Westfjord, and went to sea,
keeping south along the land so far off that the hill-tops were half
sunk, and soon the land altogether was sunk from view by the sea.
Thorer held this course until he got into the English sea, and landed
in England. He betook himself to King Canute forthwith, and was well
received by him. It then came out that Thorer had with him a great deal
of property; and, with other things, all the money he and Karle had
taken in Bjarmaland. In the great liquor-casks there were sides within
the outer sides, and the liquor was between them. The rest of the casks
were filled with furs, and beaver and sable skins. Thorer was then with
King Canute. Fin came with his forces to King Olaf, and related to
him how all had gone upon his voyage, and told at the same time his
suspicion that Thorer had left the country, and gone west to England to
King Canute. "And there I fear he will cause as much trouble."

The king replies, "I believe that Thorer must be our enemy, and it
appears to me always better to have him at a distance than near."


Asmund Grankelson had been this winter (A.D. 1027) in Halogaland in his
sheriffdom, and was at home with his father Grankel. There lies a rock
out in the sea, on which there is both seal and bird catching, and a
fishing ground, and egg-gathering; and from old times it had been an
appendage to the farm which Grankel owned, but now Harek of Thjotta laid
claim to it. It had gone so far, that some years he had taken by force
all the gain of this rock; but Asmund and his father thought that they
might expect the king's help in all cases in which the right was upon
their side. Both father and son went therefore in spring to Harek, and
brought him a message and tokens from King Olaf that he should drop his
claim. Harek answered Asmund crossly, because he had gone to the king
with such insinuations--"for the just right is upon my side. Thou
shouldst learn moderation, Asmund, although thou hast so much confidence
in the king's favour. It has succeeded with thee to kill some chiefs,
and leave their slaughter unpaid for by any mulct; and also to plunder
us, although we thought ourselves at least equal to all of equal birth,
and thou art far from being my equal in family."

Asmund replies, "Many have experienced from thee, Harek, that thou art
of great connections, and too great power; and many in consequence have
suffered loss in their property through thee. But it is likely that now
thou must turn thyself elsewhere, and not against us with thy violence,
and not go altogether against law, as thou art now doing." Then they

Harek sent ten or twelve of his house-servants with a large rowing boat,
with which they rowed to the rock, took all that was to be got upon it,
and loaded their boat. But when they were ready to return home, Asmund
Grankelson came with thirty men, and ordered them to give up all they
had taken. Harek's house-servants were not quick in complying, so that
Asmund attacked them. Some of Harek's men were cudgelled, some wounded,
some thrown into the sea, and all they had caught was taken from on
board of their boat, and Asmund and his people took it along with them.
Then Harek's servants came home, and told him the event. Harek replies,
"That is called news indeed that seldom happens; never before has it
happened that my people have been beaten."

The matter dropped. Harek never spoke about it, but was very cheerful.
In spring, however, Harek rigged out a cutter of twenty seats of rowers,
and manned it with his house-servants, and the ship was remarkably well
fitted out both with people and all necessary equipment; and Harek went
to the levy; but when he came to King Olaf, Asmund was there before him.
The king summoned Harek and Asmund to him, and reconciled them so that
they left the matter entirely to him. Asmund then produced witnesses
to prove that Grankel had owned the rock, and the king gave judgment
accordingly. The case had a one-sided result. No mulct was paid for
Harek's house-servants, and the rock was declared to be Grankel's. Harek
observed it was no disgrace to obey the king's decision, whatever way
the case itself was decided.


Thorod Snorrason had remained in Norway, according to King Olaf's
commands, when Geller Thorkelson got leave to go to Iceland, as before
related. He remained there (A.D. 1027) with King Olaf, but was ill
pleased that he was not free to travel where he pleased. Early in
winter, King Olaf, when he was in Nidaros, made it known that he would
send people to Jamtaland to collect the scat; but nobody had any great
desire to go on this business, after the fate of those whom King Olaf
had sent before, namely, Thrand White and others, twelve in number, who
lost their lives, as before related; and the Jamtalanders had ever
since been subject to the Swedish king. Thorod Snorrason now offered
to undertake this journey, for he cared little what became of him if he
could but become his own master again. The king consented, and Thorod
set out with eleven men in company. They came east to Jamtaland, and
went to a man called Thorar, who was lagman, and a person in high
estimation. They met with a hospitable reception; and when they had been
there a while, they explained their business to Thorar. He replied, that
other men and chiefs of the country had in all respects as much power
and right to give an answer as he had, and for that purpose he would
call together a Thing. It was so done; the message-token was sent
out, and a numerous Thing assembled. Thorar went to the Thing, but the
messengers in the meantime remained at home. At the Thing, Thorar laid
the business before the people, but all were unanimous that no scat
should be paid to the king of Norway; and some were for hanging the
messengers, others for sacrificing them to the gods. At last it was
resolved to hold them fast until the king of Sweden's sheriffs arrived,
and they could treat them as they pleased with consent of the people;
and that, in the meantime, this decision should be concealed, and the
messengers treated well, and detained under pretext that they must wait
until the scat is collected; and that they should be separated, and
placed two and two, as if for the convenience of boarding them. Thorod
and another remained in Thorar's house. There was a great Yule feast and
ale-drinking, to which each brought his own liquor; for there were many
peasants in the village, who all drank in company together at Yule.
There was another village not far distant, where Thorar's brother-in-law
dwelt, who was a rich and powerful man, and had a grown-up son. The
brothers-in-law intended to pass the Yule in drinking feasts, half of it
at the house of the one and half with the other; and the feast began at
Thorar's house. The brothers-in-law drank together, and Thorod and the
sons of the peasants by themselves; and it was a drinking match. In the
evening words arose, and comparisons between the men of Sweden and of
Norway, and then between their kings both of former times and at the
present, and of the manslaughters and robberies that had taken place
between the countries. Then said the peasants sons, "If our king has
lost most people, his sheriffs will make it even with the lives of
twelve men when they come from the south after Yule; and ye little
know, ye silly fools, why ye are kept here." Thorod took notice of these
words, and many made jest about it, and scoffed at them and their king.
When the ale began to talk out of the hearts of the Jamtalanders, what
Thorod had before long suspected became evident. The day after Thorod
and his comrade took all their clothes and weapons, and laid them ready;
and at night, when the people were all asleep, they fled to the forest.
The next morning, when the Jamtalanders were aware of their flight, men
set out after them with dogs to trace them, and found them in a wood in
which they had concealed themselves. They brought them home to a room in
which there was a deep cellar, into which they were thrown, and the door
locked upon them. They had little meat, and only the clothes they had on
them. In the middle of Yule, Thorar, with all his freeborn men, went to
his brother's-in-law, where he was to be a guest until the last of
Yule. Thorar's slaves were to keep guard upon the cellar, and they were
provided with plenty of liquor; but as they observed no moderation in
drinking, they became towards evening confused in the head with the ale.
As they were quite drunk, those who had to bring meat to the prisoners
in the cellar said among themselves that they should want for nothing.
Thorod amused the slaves by singing to them. They said he was a clever
man, and gave him a large candle that was lighted; and the slaves
who were in went to call the others to come in; but they were all so
confused with the ale, that in going out they neither locked the cellar
nor the room after them. Now Thorod and his comrades tore up their skin
clothes in strips, knotted them together, made a noose at one end, and
threw up the rope on the floor of the room. It fastened itself around a
chest, by which they tried to haul themselves up. Thorod lifted up his
comrade until he stood on his shoulders, and from thence scrambled up
through the hatchhole. There was no want of ropes in the chamber, and he
threw a rope down to Thorod; but when he tried to draw him up, he could
not move him from the spot. Then Thorod told him to cast the rope over
a cross-beam that was in the house, make a loop in it, and place as much
wood and stones in the loop as would outweigh him; and the heavy weight
went down into the cellar, and Thorod was drawn up by it. Now they took
as much clothes as they required in the room; and among other things
they took some reindeer hides, out of which they cut sandals, and bound
them under their feet, with the hoofs of the reindeer feet trailing
behind. But before they set off they set fire to a large corn barn
which was close by, and then ran out into the pitch-dark night. The barn
blazed, and set fire to many other houses in the village. Thorod and
his comrade travelled the whole night until they came to a lonely wood,
where they concealed themselves when it was daylight. In the morning
they were missed. There was chase made with dogs to trace the footsteps
all round the house; but the hounds always came back to the house, for
they had the smell of the reindeer hoofs, and followed the scent back on
the road that the hoofs had left, and therefore could not find the right
direction. Thorod and his comrade wandered long about in the desert
forest, and came one evening to a small house, and went in. A man and a
woman were sitting by the fire. The man called himself Thorer, and said
it was his wife who was sitting there, and the hut belonged to them. The
peasant asked them to stop there, at which they were well pleased. He
told them that he had come to this place, because he had fled from the
inhabited district on account of a murder. Thorod and his comrade were
well received, and they all got their supper at the fireside; and then
the benches were cleared for them, and they lay down to sleep, but the
fire was still burning with a clear light. Thorod saw a man come in from
another house, and never had he seen so stout a man. He was dressed in
a scarlet cloak beset with gold clasps, and was of very handsome
appearance. Thorod heard him scold them for taking guests, when they
had scarcely food for themselves. The housewife said, "Be not angry,
brother; seldom such a thing happens; and rather do them some good too,
for thou hast better opportunity to do so than we." Thorod heard also
the stout man named by the name of Arnliot Gelline, and observed that
the woman of the house was his sister. Thorod had heard speak of Arnliot
as the greatest-of robbers and malefactors. Thorod and his companion
slept the first part of the night, for they were wearied with walking;
but when a third of the night was still to come, Arnliot awoke them,
told them to get up, and make ready to depart. They arose immediately,
put on their clothes, and some breakfast was given them; and Arnliot
gave each of them also a pair of skees. Arnliot made himself ready to
accompany them, and got upon his skees, which were both broad and long;
but scarcely had he swung his skee-staff before he was a long way past
them. He waited for them, and said they would make no progress in this
way, and told them to stand upon the edge of his skees beside him. They
did so. Thorod stood nearest to him, and held by Arnliot's belt, and his
comrade held by him. Arnliot strode on as quickly with them both, as
if he was alone and without any weight. The following day they came,
towards night, to a lodge for travellers, struck fire, and prepared some
food; but Arnliot told them to throw away nothing of their food, neither
bones nor crumbs. Arnliot took a silver plate out of the pocket of his
cloak, and ate from it. When they were done eating, Arnliot gathered
up the remains of their meal, and they prepared to go to sleep. In the
other end of the house there was a loft upon cross-beams, and Arnliot
and the others went up, and laid themselves down to sleep. Arnliot had
a large halberd, of which the upper part was mounted with gold, and
the shaft was so long that with his arm stretched out he could scarcely
touch the top of it; and he was girt with a sword. They had both their
weapons and their clothes up in the loft beside them. Arnliot, who
lay outermost in the loft, told them to be perfectly quiet. Soon after
twelve men came to the house, who were merchants going with their
wares to Jamtaland; and when they came into the house they made a great
disturbance, were merry, and made a great fire before them; and when
they took their supper they cast away all the bones around them. They
then prepared to go to sleep, and laid themselves down upon the benches
around the fire. When they, had been asleep a short time, a huge witch
came into the house; and when she came in, she carefully swept together
all the bones and whatever was of food kind into a heap, and threw it
into her mouth. Then she gripped the man who was nearest to her, riving
and tearing him asunder, and threw him upon the fire. The others awoke
in dreadful fright, and sprang up, but she took them, and put them one
by one to death, so that only one remained in life. He ran under the
loft calling for help, and if there was any one on the loft to help him.
Arnliot reached down his hand, seized him by the shoulder, and drew him
up into the loft. The witch-wife had turned towards the fire, and
began to eat the men who were roasting. Now Arnliot stood up, took his
halberd, and struck her between the shoulders, so that the point came
out at her breast. She writhed with it, gave a dreadful shriek, and
sprang up. The halberd slipped from Arnliot's hands, and she ran out
with it. Arnliot then went in; cleared away the dead corpses out of the
house; set the door and the door-posts up, for she had torn them down in
going out; and they slept the rest of the night. When the day broke they
got up; and first they took their breakfast. When they had got food,
Arnliot said, "Now we must part here. Ye can proceed upon the new-traced
path the merchants have made in coming here yesterday. In the meantime
I will seek after my halberd, and in reward for my labour I will take so
much of the goods these men had with them as I find useful to me. Thou,
Thorod, must take my salutation to King Olaf; and say to him that he is
the man I am most desirous to see, although my salutation may appear to
him of little worth." Then he took his silver plate, wiped it dry with
a cloth, and said, "Give King Olaf this plate; salute him, and say it is
from me." Then they made themselves ready for their journey, and parted.
Thorod went on with his comrade and the man of the merchants company
who had escaped. He proceeded until he came to King Olaf in the town
(Nidaros); told the king all that had happened, and presented to him the
silver plate. The king said it was wrong that Arnliot himself had not
come to him; "for it is a pity so brave a hero, and so distinguished a
man, should have given himself up to misdeeds."

Thorod remained the rest of the winter with the king, and in summer
got leave to return to Iceland; and he and King Olaf parted the best of


King Olaf made ready in spring (A.D. 1027) to leave Nidaros, and many
people were assembled about him, both from Throndhjem and the Northern
country; and when he was ready he proceeded first with his men to More,
where he gathered the men of the levy, and did the same at Raumsdal. He
went from thence to South More. He lay a long time at the Herey Isles
waiting for his forces; and he often held House-things, as many reports
came to his ears about which he thought it necessary to hold councils.
In one of these Things he made a speech, in which he spoke of the loss
he suffered from the Farey islanders. "The scat which they promised me,"
he said, "is not forthcoming; and I now intend to send men thither after
it." Then he proposed to different men to undertake this expedition; but
the answer was, that all declined the adventure.

Then there stood up a stout and very remarkable looking man in the
Thing. He was clad in a red kirtle, had a helmet on his head, a sword
in his belt, and a large halberd in his hands. He took up the word and
said, "In truth here is a great want of men. Ye have a good king; but ye
are bad servants who say no to this expedition he offers you, although
ye have received many gifts of friendship and tokens of honour from him.
I have hitherto been no friend of the king, and he has been my enemy,
and says, besides, that he has good grounds for being so. Now, I offer,
sire, to go upon this expedition, if no better will undertake it."

The king answers, "Who is this brave man who replies to my offer? Thou
showest thyself different from the other men here present, in offering
thyself for this expedition from which they excuse themselves, although
I expected they would willingly have undertaken it; but I do not know
thee in the least, and do not know thy name."

He replies, "My name, sire, is not difficult to know, and I think thou
hast heard my name before. I am Karl Morske."

The king--"So this is Karl! I have indeed heard thy name before; and, to
say the truth, there was a time when our meeting must have been such, if
I had had my will; that thou shouldst not have had to tell it now. But
I will not show myself worse than thou, but will join my thanks and my
favour to the side of the help thou hast offered me. Now thou shalt come
to me, Karl, and be my guest to-day; and then we shall consult together
about this business." Karl said it should be so.


Karl Morske had been a viking, and a celebrated robber. Often had the
king sent out men against him, and wished to make an end of him; but
Karl, who was a man of high connection, was quick in all his doing's,
and besides a man of great dexterity, and expert in all feats. Now when
Karl had undertaken this business the king was reconciled to him, gave
him his friendship, and let him be fitted out in the best manner for
this expedition. There were about twenty men in the ship; and the king
sent messages to his friends in the Farey Islands, and recommended him
also to Leif Ossurson and Lagman Gille, for aid and defence; and for
this purpose furnished Karl with tokens of the full powers given him.
Karl set out as soon as he was ready; and as he got a favourable breeze
soon came to the Farey Islands, and landed at Thorshavn, in the island
Straumey. A Thing was called, to which there came a great number of
people. Thrand of Gata came with a great retinue, and Leif and Gille
came there also, with many in their following. After they had set up
their tents, and put themselves in order, they went to Karl Morske, and
saluted each other on both sides in a friendly way. Then Karl produced
King Olaf's words, tokens, and friendly message to Leif and Gille, who
received them in a friendly manner, invited Karl to come to them, and
promised him to support his errand, and give him all the aid in their
power, for which he thanked them. Soon after came Thrand of Gata, who
also received Karl in the most friendly manner, and said he was glad to
see so able a man coming to their country on the king's business, which
they were all bound to promote. "I will insist, Karl," says he, "on
thy taking-up thy winter abode with me, together with all those of thy
people who may appear to thee necessary for thy dignity."

Karl replies, that he had already settled to lodge with Leif; "otherwise
I would with great pleasure have accepted thy invitation."

"Then fate has given great honour to Leif," says Thrand; "but is there
any other way in which I can be of service?"

Karl replies, that he would do him a great service by collecting the
scat of the eastern island, and of all the northern islands.

Thrand said it was both his duty and interest to assist in the king's
business, and thereupon Thrand returned to his tent; and at that Thing
nothing else worth speaking of occurred. Karl took up his abode with
Leif Ossurson, and was there all winter (A.D. 1028). Leif collected the
scat of Straumey Island, and all the islands south of it. The spring
after Thrand of Gata fell ill, and had sore eyes and other complaints;
but he prepared to attend the Thing, as was his custom. When he came to
the Thing he had his tent put up, and within it another black tent, that
the light might not penetrate. After some days of the Thing had passed,
Leif and Karl came to Thrand's tent, with a great many people, and found
some persons standing outside. They asked if Thrand was in the tent, and
were told he was. Leif told them to bid Thrand come out, as he and Karl
had some business with him. They came back, and said that Thrand had
sore eyes, and could not come out; "but he begs thee, Leif, to come to
him within." Leif told his comrades to come carefully into the tent, and
not to press forward, and that he who came last in should go out first.
Leif went in first, followed by Karl, and then his comrades; and all
fully armed as if they were going into battle. Leif went into the black
tent and asked if Thrand was there. Thrand answered and saluted Leif.
Leif returned his salutation, and asked if he had brought the scat
from the northern islands, and if he would pay the scat that had been
collected. Thrand replies, that he had not forgotten what had been
spoken of between him and Karl, and that he would now pay over the scat.
"Here is a purse, Leif, full of silver, which thou canst receive." Leif
looked around, and saw but few people in the tent, of whom some were
lying upon the benches, and a few were sitting up. Then Leif went to
Thrand, and took the purse, and carried it into the outer tent, where it
was light, turned out the money on his shield, groped about in it with
his hand, and told Karl to look at the silver. When they had looked at
it a while, Karl asked Leif what he thought of the silver. He replied,
"I am thinking where the bad money that is in the north isles can have
come from." Thrand heard this, and said, "Do you not think, Leif, the
silver is good?" "No," says he. Thrand replies, "Our relations, then,
are rascals not to be trusted. I sent them in spring to collect the scat
in the north isles, as I could not myself go anywhere, and they have
allowed themselves to be bribed by the bondes to take false money, which
nobody looks upon as current and good; it is better, therefore, Leif, to
look at this silver which has been paid me as land-rent." Leif thereupon
carried back this silver, and received another bag, which he carried to
Karl, and they looked over the money together. Karl asked Leif what he
thought of this money. He answered, that it appeared to him so bad that
it would not be taken in payment, however little hope there might be of
getting a debt paid in any other way: "therefore I will not take this
money upon the king's account." A man who had been lying on the bench
now cast the skin coverlet off which he had drawn over his head, and
said, "True is the old word,--he grows worse who grows older: so it is
with thee, Thrand, who allowest Karl Morske to handle thy money all
the day." This was Gaut the Red. Thrand sprang up at Gaut's words, and
reprimanded his relation with many angry words. At last he said that
Leif should leave this silver, and take a bag which his own peasants had
brought him in spring. "And although I am weak-sighted, yet my own
hand is the truest test." Another man who was lying on the bench raised
himself now upon his elbow; and this was Thord the Low. He said, "These
are no ordinary reproaches we suffer from Karl Morske, and therefore he
well deserves a reward for them." Leif in the meantime took the bag,
and carried it to Karl; and when they cast their eyes on the money, Leif
said, "We need not look long at this silver, for here the one piece of
money is better than the other; and this is the money we will have. Let
a man come to be present at the counting it out." Thrand says that he
thought Leif was the fittest man to do it upon his account. Leif and
Karl thereupon went a short way from the tent, sat down, and counted and
weighed the silver. Karl took the helmet off his head, and received in
it the weighed silver. They saw a man coming to them who had a stick
with an axe-head on it in his hand, a hat low upon his head, and a short
green cloak. He was bare-legged, and had linen breeches on tied at the
knee. He laid his stick down in the field, and went to Karl and said,
"Take care, Karl Morske, that thou does not hurt thyself against my
axe-stick." Immediately a man came running and calls with great haste
to Leif Ossurson, telling him to come as quickly as possible to Lagman
Gille's tent; "for," says he, "Sirurd Thorlakson ran in just now into
the mouth of the tent, and gave one of Gille's men a desperate wound."
Leif rose up instantly, and went off to Gille's tent along with his
men. Karl remained sitting, and the Norway people stood around in all
corners. Gaut immediately sprang up, and struck with a hand-axe over the
heads of the people, and the stroke came on Karl's head; but the wound
was slight. Thord the Low seized the stick-axe, which lay in the field
at his side, and struck the axe-blade right into Karl's skull. Many
people now streamed out of Thrand's tent. Karl was carried away dead.
Thrand was much grieved at this event, and offered money-mulcts for his
relations; but Leif and Gille, who had to prosecute the business, would
accept no mulct. Sigurd was banished the country for having wounded
Gille's tent comrade, and Gaut and Thord for the murder of Karl. The
Norway people rigged out the vessel which Karl had with him, and sailed
eastward to Olaf, and gave him these tidings. He was in no pleasant
humour at it, and threatened a speedy vengeance; but it was not allotted
by fate to King Olaf to revenge himself on Thrand and his relations,
because of the hostilities which had begun in Norway, and which are now
to be related. And there is nothing more to be told of what happened
after King Olaf sent men to the Farey Islands to take scat of them. But
great strife arose after Karl's death in the Farey Islands between the
family of Thrand of Gata and Leif Ossurson, and of which there are great


Now we must proceed with the relation we began before,--that King Olaf
set out with his men, and raised a levy over the whole country
(A.D. 1027). All lendermen in the North followed him excepting Einar
Tambaskelfer, who sat quietly at home upon his farm since his return
to the country, and did not serve the king. Einar had great estates
and wealth, although he held no fiefs from the king, and he lived
splendidly. King Olaf sailed with his fleet south around Stad, and many
people from the districts around joined him. King Olaf himself had a
ship which he had got built the winter before (A.D. 1027), and which
was called the Visund (1). It was a very large ship, with a bison's head
gilded all over upon the bow. Sigvat the skald speaks thus of it:--

     "Trygvason's Long Serpent bore,
     Grim gaping o'er the waves before,
     A dragon's head with open throat,
     When last the hero was afloat:
          His cruise was closed,
          As God disposed.
     Olaf has raised a bison's head,
     Which proudly seems the waves to tread.
     While o'er its golden forehead dashing
     The waves its glittering horns are washing:
          May God dispose
          A luckier close."

The king went on to Hordaland; there he heard the news that Erling
Skjalgson had left the country with a great force, and four or five
ships. He himself had a large war-ship, and his sons had three of twenty
rowing-banks each; and they had sailed westward to England to Canute
the Great. Then King Olaf sailed eastward along the land with a mighty
war-force, and he inquired everywhere if anything was known of Canute's
proceedings; and all agreed in saying he was in England but added that
he was fitting out a levy, and intended coming to Norway. As Olaf had a
large fleet, and could not discover with certainty where he should go to
meet King Canute, and as his people were dissatisfied with lying quiet
in one place with so large an armament, he resolved to sail with his
fleet south to Denmark, and took with him all the men who were best
appointed and most warlike; and he gave leave to the others to return
home. Now the people whom he thought of little use having gone home,
King Olaf had many excellent and stout men-at-arms besides those who, as
before related, had fled the country, or sat quietly at home; and most
of the chief men and lendermen of Norway were along with him.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Visundr is the buffalo; although the modern bison, or
     American animal of that name, might have been known through
     the Greenland colonists, who in this reign had visited some
     parts of America.--L.


When King Olaf sailed to Denmark, he set his course for Seeland; and
when he came there he made incursions on the land, and began to plunder.
The country people were severely treated; some were killed, some bound
and dragged to the ships. All who could do so took to flight, and made
no opposition. King Olaf committed there the greatest ravages. While
Olaf was in Seeland, the news came that King Onund Olafson of Sweden had
raised a levy, and fallen upon Scania, and was ravaging there; and then
it became known what the resolution had been that the two kings
had taken at the Gaut river, where they had concluded a union and
friendship, and had bound themselves to oppose King Canute. King Onund
continued his march until he met his brother-in-law King Olaf. When they
met they made proclamation both to their own people and to the people
of the country, that they intended to conquer Denmark; and asked the
support of the people of the country for this purpose. And it happened,
as we find examples of everywhere, that if hostilities are brought upon
the people of a country not strong enough to withstand, the greatest
number will submit to the conditions by which peace can be purchased at
any rate. So it happened here that many men went into the service of the
kings, and agreed to submit to them. Wheresoever they went they laid the
country all round subjection to them, and otherwise laid waste all with
fire and sword.

Of this foray Sigvat the skald speaks, in a ballad he composed
concerning King Canute the Great:--

          "'Canute is on the sea!'
          The news is told,
          And the Norsemen bold
     Repeat it with great glee.
     And it runs from mouth to mouth--
          'On a lucky day
          We came away
     From Throndhjem to the south.'
     Across the cold East sea,
          The Swedish king
          His host did bring,
     To gain great victory.
     King Onund came to fight,
          In Seeland's plains,
          Against the Danes,
     With his steel-clad men so bright.
     Canute is on the land;
          Side to side
          His long-ships ride
     Along the yellow strand.
     Where waves wash the green banks,
          Mast to mast,
          All bound fast,
     His great fleet lies in ranks."


King Canute had heard in England that King Olaf of Norway had called out
a levy, and had gone with his forces to Denmark, and was making great
ravages in his dominions there. Canute began to gather people, and he
had speedily collected a great army and a numerous fleet. Earl Hakon was
second in command over the whole.

Sigvat the skald came this summer (A.D. 1027) from the West, from Ruda
(Rouen) in Valland, and with him was a man called Berg. They had made a
merchant voyage there the summer before. Sigvat had made a little poem
about this journey, called "The Western Traveller's Song," which begins

     "Berg! many a merry morn was pass'd,
     When our vessel was made fast,
     And we lay on the glittering tide
     or Rouen river's western side."

When Sigvat came to England he went directly to King Canute, and asked
his leave to proceed to Norway; for King Canute had forbidden all
merchant vessels to sail until he himself was ready with his fleet. When
Sigvat arrived he went to the house in which the king was lodged; but
the doors were locked, and he had to stand a long time outside, but when
he got admittance he obtained the permission he desired. He then sang:--

     "The way to Jutland's king I sought;
     A little patience I was taught.
     The doors were shut--all full within;
     The udaller could not get in.
     But Gorm's great son did condescend
     To his own chamber me to send,
     And grant my prayer--although I'm one
     Whose arms the fetters' weight have known."

When Sigvat became aware that King Canute was equipping an armament
against King Olaf, and knew what a mighty force King Canute had, he made
these lines:--

     "The mighty Canute, and Earl Hakon,
     Have leagued themselves, and counsel taken
     Against King Olaf's life,
     And are ready for the strife.
     In spite of king and earl, I say,
     'I love him well--may he get away:'
     On the Fields, wild and dreary,
     With him I'd live, and ne'er be weary."

Sigvat made many other songs concerning this expedition of Canute and
Hakon. He made this among others:--

     "'Twas not the earl's intention then
     'Twixt Olaf and the udalmen
     Peace to establish, and the land
     Upright to hold with Northman's hand;
     But ever with deceit and lies
     Eirik's descendant, Hakon, tries
     To make ill-will and discontent,
     Till all the udalmen are bent
     Against King Olaf's rule to rise."


Canute the Great was at last ready with his fleet, and left the land;
and a vast number of men he had, and ships frightfully large. He himself
had a dragon-ship, so large that it had sixty banks of rowers, and the
head was gilt all over. Earl Hakon had another dragon of forty banks,
and it also had a gilt figure-head. The sails of both were in stripes
of blue, red, and green, and the vessels were painted all above
the water-stroke; and all that belonged to their equipment was most
splendid. They had also many other huge ships remarkably well fitted
out, and grand. Sigvat the skald talks of this in his song on Canute:--

     "Canute is out beneath the sky--
     Canute of the clear blue eye!
     The king is out on the ocean's breast,
     Leading his grand fleet from the West.
     On to the East the ship-masts glide,
     Glancing and bright each long-ship's side.
     The conqueror of great Ethelred,
     Canute, is there, his foemen's dread:
     His dragon with her sails of blue,
     All bright and brilliant to the view,
     High hoisted on the yard arms wide,
     Carries great Canute o'er the tide.
     Brave is the royal progress--fast
     The proud ship's keel obeys the mast,
     Dashes through foam, and gains the land,
     Raising a surge on Limfjord's strand."

It is related that King Canute sailed with this vast force from England,
and came with all his force safely to Denmark, where he went into
Limfjord, and there he found gathered besides a large army of the men of
the country.


Earl Ulf Sprakalegson had been set as protector over Denmark when King
Canute went to England, and the king had intrusted his son Hardaknut in
the earl's hands. This took place the summer before (A.D. 1026), as we
related. But the earl immediately gave it out that King Canute had, at
parting, made known to him his will and desire that the Danes should
take his son Hardaknut as king over the Danish dominions. "On that
account," says the earl, "he gave the matter into our hands; as I,
and many other chiefs and leading men here in the country, have often
complained to King Canute of the evil consequences to the country of
being without a king, and that former kings thought it honour and power
enough to rule over the Danish kingdom alone; and in the times that are
past many kings have ruled over this kingdom. But now there are greater
difficulties than have ever been before; for we have been so fortunate
hitherto as to live without disturbance from foreign kings, but now we
hear the king of Norway is going to attack us, to which is added the
fear of the people that the Swedish king will join him; and now King
Canute is in England." The earl then produced King Canute's letter and
seal, confirming all that the earl asserted. Many other chiefs supported
this business; and in consequence of all these persuasions the people
resolved to take Hardaknut as king, which was done at the same Thing.
The Queen Emma had been principal promoter of this determination; for
she had got the letter to be written, and provided with the seal,
having cunningly got hold of the king's signet; but from him it was all
concealed. Now when Hardaknut and Earl Ulf heard for certain that King
Olaf was come from Norway with a large army, they went to Jutland,
where the greatest strength of the Danish kingdom lies, sent out
message-tokens, and summoned to them a great force; but when they heard
the Swedish king was also come with his army, they thought they would
not have strength enough to give battle to both, and therefore kept
their army together in Jutland, and resolved to defend that country
against the kings. The whole of their ships they assembled in Limfjord,
and waited thus for King Canute. Now when they heard that King Canute
had come from the West to Limfjord they sent men to him, and to Queen
Emma, and begged her to find out if the king was angry at them or not,
and to let them know. The queen talked over the matter with him, and
said, "Your son Hardaknut will pay the full mulct the king may demand,
if he has done anything which is thought to be against the king." He
replies, that Hardaknut has not done this of his own judgement. "And
therefore," says he, "it has turned out as might have been expected,
that when he, a child, and without understanding, wanted to be called
king, the country, when any evil came and an enemy appeared, must be
conquered by foreign princes, if our might had not come to his aid. If
he will have any reconciliation with me let him come to me, and lay down
the mock title of king he has given himself." The queen sent these very
words to Hardaknut, and at the same time she begged him not to decline
coming; for, as she truly observed, he had no force to stand against his
father. When this message came to Hardaknut he asked the advice of the
earl and other chief people who were with him; but it was soon found
that when the people heard King Canute the Old was arrived they all
streamed to him, and seemed to have no confidence but in him alone. Then
Earl Ulf and his fellows saw they had but two roads to take; either to
go to the king and leave all to his mercy, or to fly the country. All
pressed Hardaknut to go to his father, which advice he followed.
When they met he fell at his father's feet, and laid his seal, which
accompanied the kingly title, on his knee. King Canute took Hardaknut by
the hand, and placed him in as high a seat as he used to sit in before.
Earl Ulf sent his son Svein, who was a sister's son of King Canute,
and the same age as Hardaknut, to the king. He prayed for grace and
reconciliation for his father, and offered himself as hostage for the
earl. King Canute ordered him to tell the earl to assemble his men and
ships, and come to him, and then they would talk of reconciliation. The
earl did so.


When King Olaf and King Onund heard that King Canute was come from the
West, and also that he had a vast force, they sailed east to Scania, and
allowed themselves to ravage and burn in the districts there, and then
proceeded eastward along the land to the frontier of Sweden. As soon as
the country people heard that King Canute was come from the West, no one
thought of going into the service of the two kings.

Now the kings sailed eastward along the coast, and brought up in a river
called Helga, and remained there some time. When they heard that King
Canute was coming eastward with his forces against them, they held a
council; and the result was, that King Olaf with his people went up
the country to the forest, and to the lake out of which the river Helga
flows. There at the riverhead they made a dam of timber and turf, and
dammed in the lake. They also dug a deep ditch, through which they led
several waters, so that the lake waxed very high. In the river-bed they
laid large logs of timber. They were many days about this work, and King
Olaf had the management of this piece of artifice; but King Onund
had only to command the fleet and army. When King Canute heard of the
proceedings of the two kings, and of the damage they had done to his
dominions, he sailed right against them to where they lay in Helga
river. He had a War-force which was one half greater than that of both
the kings together. Sigvat speaks of these things:--

     "The king, who shields
     His Jutland fields
     From scaith or harm
     By foeman's arm,
     Will not allow
     Wild plundering now:
     'The greatest he,
     On land or sea.'"


One day, towards evening, King Onund's spies saw King Canute coming
sailing along, and he was not far off. Then King Onund ordered the
war-horns to sound; on which his people struck their tents, put on their
weapons, rowed out of the harbour and east round the land, bound their
ships together, and prepared for battle. King Onund made his spies run
up the country to look for King Olaf, and tell him the news. Then King
Olaf broke up the dam, and let the river take its course. King Olaf
travelled down in the night to his ships. When King Canute came outside
the harbour, he saw the forces of the kings ready for battle. He thought
that it would be too late in the day to begin the fight by the time his
forces could be ready; for his fleet required a great deal of room at
sea, and there was a long distance between the foremost of his ships and
the hindmost, and between those outside and those nearest the land,
and there was but little wind. Now, as Canute saw that the Swedes and
Norwegians had quitted the harbour, he went into it with as many ships
as it could hold; but the main strength of the fleet lay without the
harbour. In the morning, when it was light, a great part of the men went
on shore; some for amusement, some to converse with the people of other
ships. They observed nothing until the water came rushing over them
like a waterfall, carrying huge trees, which drove in among their ships,
damaging all they struck; and the water covered all the fields. The men
on shore perished, and many who were in the ships. All who could do it
cut their cables; so that the ships were loose, and drove before the
stream, and were scattered here and there. The great dragon, which King
Canute himself was in, drove before the stream; and as it could not so
easily be turned with oars, drove out among Olaf's and Onund's ships. As
they knew the ship, they laid her on board on all quarters. But the ship
was so high in the hull, as if it were a castle, and had besides such a
numerous and chosen crew on board, well armed and exercised, that it was
not easy to attack her. After a short time also Earl Ulf came up with
his fleet; and then the battle began, and King Canute's fleet gathered
together from all quarters. But the kings Olaf and Onund, seeing they
had for this time got all the victory that fate permitted them to gain,
let their ships retreat, cast themselves loose from King Canute's ship,
and the fleets separated. But as the attack had not been made as King
Canute had determined, he made no further attempt; and the kings on each
side arranged their fleets and put their ships in order. When the fleets
were parted, and each sailing its course, Olaf and Onund looked over
their forces, and found they had suffered no loss of men. In the
meantime they saw that if they waited until King Canute got his large
fleet in order to attack them, the difference of force was so great that
for them there was little chance of victory. It was also evident that if
the battle was renewed, they must suffer a great loss of men. They took
the resolution, therefore, to row with the whole fleet eastward along
the coast. Observing that King Canute did not pursue them, they raised
up their masts and set sail. Ottar Svarte tells thus of it in the poem
he composed upon King Canute the Great:--

     "The king, in battle fray,
     Drove the Swedish host away:
     The wolf did not miss prey,
     Nor the raven on that day.
     Great Canute might deride
     Two kings if he had pride,
     For at Helga river's side
     They would not his sword abide."

Thord Sjarekson also sang these lines in his death song of King Olaf:--

     "King Olaf, Agder's lord,
          Ne'er shunned the Jutland king,
     But with his blue-edged sword
          Broke many a panzer ring.
     King Canute was not slow:
          King Onund filled the plain
     With dead, killed by his bow:
          The wolf howled o'er the slain."


King Olaf and King Onund sailed eastward to the Swedish king's
dominions; and one day, towards evening, landed at a place called
Barvik, where they lay all night. But then it was observed of the Swedes
that they were home-sick; for the greater part of their forces sailed
eastward along the land in the night, and did not stop their course
until they came home to their houses. Now when King Onund observed
this he ordered, as soon as the day dawned, to sound the signal for a
House-thing; and the whole people went on shore, and the Thing sat down.
Then King Onund took up the word, and spake thus: "So it is, King Olaf,
that, as you know, we have been assembled in summer, and have forayed
wide around in Denmark, and have gained much booty, but no land. I
had 350 vessels, and now have not above 100 remaining with me. Now
it appears to me we can make no greater progress than we have made,
although you have still the 60 vessels which have followed you the whole
summer. It therefore appears to me best that we come back to my kingdom;
for it is always good to drive home with the wagon safe. In this
expedition we have won something, and lost nothing. Now I will offer
you, King Olaf, to come with me, and we shall remain assembled during
the winter. Take as much of my kingdom as you will, so that you and the
men who follow you may support yourselves well; and when spring comes
let us take such measures as we find serviceable. If you, however, will
prefer to travel across our country, and go overland to Norway, it shall
be free for you to do so."

King Olaf thanked King Onund for his friendly offer. "But if I may
advise," says he, "then we should take another resolution, and keep
together the forces we have still remaining. I had in the first of
summer, before I left Norway, 350 ships; but when I left the country I
chose from among the whole war-levy those I thought to be the best, and
with them I manned 60 ships; and these I still have. Now it appears to
me that the part of your war-force which has now run away is the most
worthless, and of least resistance; but now I see here all your
chiefs and leaders, and I know well that the people who belong to the
court-troops (1) are by far the best suited to carry arms. We have here
chosen men and superb ships, and we can very well lie all winter in our
ships, as viking's custom is. But Canute cannot lie long in Helga river;
for the harbour will not hold so many vessels as he has. If he steers
eastward after us, we can escape from him, and then people will soon
gather to us; but if he return to the harbours where his fleet can lie,
I know for certain that the desire to return home will not be less
in his army than in ours. I think, also, we have ravaged so widely in
summer, that the villagers, both in Scania and in Halland, know well
whose favour they have to seek. Canute's army will thus be dispersed
so widely, that it is uncertain to whom fate may at the last give the
victory; but let us first find out what resolution he takes."

Thus King Olaf ended his speech, and it found much applause, and his
advice was followed. Spies were sent into King Canute's army, and both
the kings Olaf and Onund remained lying where they were.

   ENDNOTES: (1) The thingmen, or hired body-guard attending the court.--L.


When King Canute saw that the kings of Norway and Sweden steered
eastward with their forces along the coast, he sent men to ride night
and day on the land to follow their movements. Some spies went forward,
others returned; so that King Canute had news every day of their
progress. He had also spies always in their army. Now when he heard that
a great part of the fleet had sailed away from the kings, he turned back
with his forces to Seeland, and lay with his whole fleet in the Sound;
so that a part lay on the Scania side, and a part on the Seeland side.
King Canute himself, the day before Michaelmas, rode with a great
retinue to Roeskilde. There his brother-in-law, Earl Ulf, had prepared a
great feast for him. The earl was the most agreeable host, but the king
was silent and sullen. The earl talked to him in every way to make him
cheerful, and brought forward everything which he thought would amuse
him; but the king remained stern, and speaking little. At last the earl
proposed to him a game at chess, which he agreed to; and a chess-board
was produced, and they played together. Earl Ulf was hasty in temper,
stiff, and in nothing yielding; but everything he managed went on well
in his hands; and he was a great warrior, about whom there are many
stories. He was the most powerful man in Denmark next to the king. Earl
Ulf's sister Gyda was married to Earl Gudin (Godwin) Ulfnadson; and
their sons were Harald king of England, and Earl Toste, Earl Valthiof,
Earl Morukare, and Earl Svein. Gyda was the name of their daughter, who
was married to the English king Edward the Good.


When they had played a while the king made a false move, at which the
earl took a knight from the king; but the king set the piece again upon
the board, and told the earl to make another move; but the earl grew
angry, threw over the chess-board, stood up, and went away. The king
said, "Runnest thou away, Ulf the coward?" The earl turned round at the
door and said, "Thou wouldst have run farther at Helga river, if thou
hadst come to battle there. Thou didst not call me Ulf the coward, when
I hastened to thy help while the Swedes were beating thee like a dog."
The earl then went out, and went to bed. A little later the king also
went to bed. The following morning while the king was putting on his
clothes he said to his footboy, "Go thou to Earl Ulf, and kill him."

The lad went, was away a while, and then came back.

The king said, "Hast thou killed the earl?"

"I did not kill him, for he was gone to Saint Lucius' church."

There was a man called Ivar White, a Norwegian by birth, who was the
king's courtman and chamberlain. The king said to him, "Go thou and kill
the earl."

Ivar went to the church, and in at the choir, and thrust his sword
through the earl, who died on the spot. Then Ivar went to the king, with
the bloody sword in his hand.

The king said, "Hast thou killed the earl?"

"I have killed him," says he.

"Thou didst well."

After the earl was killed the monks closed the church, and locked the
doors. When that was told the king he sent a message to the monks,
ordering them to open the church and sing high mass. They did as the
king ordered; and when the king came to the church he bestowed on it
great property, so that it had a large domain, by which that place was
raised very high; and these lands have since always belonged to it. King
Canute rode down to his ships, and lay there till late in harvest with a
very large army.


When King Olaf and King Onund heard that King Canute had sailed to the
Sound, and lay there with a great force, the kings held a House-thing,
and spoke much about what resolution they should adopt. King Olaf wished
they should remain there with all the fleet, and see what King Canute
would at last resolve to do. But the Swedes held it to be unadvisable to
remain until the frost set in, and so it was determined; and King Onund
went home with all his army, and King Olaf remained lying after them.


While King Olaf lay there, he had frequently conferences and
consultations with his people. One night Egil Halson and Tofe Valgautson
had the watch upon the king's ship. Tofe came from West Gautland,
and was a man of high birth. While they sat on watch they heard much
lamentation and crying among the people who had been taken in the war,
and who lay bound on the shore at night. Tofe said it made him ill to
hear such distress, and asked Egil to go with him, and let loose these
people. This work they set about, cut the cords, and let the people
escape, and they looked upon it as a piece of great friendship; but the
king was so enraged at it, that they themselves were in the greatest
danger. When Egil afterwards fell sick the king for a long time would
not visit him, until many people entreated it of him. It vexed Egil
much to have done anything the king was angry at, and he begged his
forgiveness. The king now dismissed his wrath against Egil, laid his
hands upon the side on which Egil's pain was, and sang a prayer; upon
which the pain ceased instantly, and Egil grew better. Tofe came, after
entreaty, into reconciliation with the king, on condition that he should
exhort his father Valgaut to come to the king. He was a heathen; but
after conversation with the king he went over to Christianity, and died
instantly when he was baptized.


King Olaf had now frequent conferences with his people, and asked advice
from them, and from his chiefs, as to what he should determine upon.
But there was no unanimity among them--some considering that unadvisable
which others considered highly serviceable; and there was much
indecision in their councils. King Canute had always spies in King
Olaf's army, who entered into conversation with many of his men,
offering them presents and favour on account of King Canute. Many
allowed themselves to be seduced, and gave promises of fidelity, and to
be King Canute's men, and bring the country into his hands if he came
to Norway. This was apparent, afterwards, of many who at first kept
it concealed. Some took at once money bribes, and others were promised
money afterwards; and a great many there were who had got great presents
of money from him before: for it may be said with truth of King Canute,
that every man who came to him, and who he thought had the spirit of a
man and would like his favour, got his hands full of gifts and money.
On this account he was very popular, although his generosity was
principally shown to foreigners, and was greatest the greater distance
they came from.


King Olaf had often conferences and meetings with his people, and asked
their counsel; but as he observed they gave different opinions, he had
a suspicion that there must be some who spoke differently from what they
really thought advisable for him, and he was thus uncertain if all gave
him due fidelity in council. Some pressed that with the first fair wind
they should sail to the Sound, and so to Norway. They said the Danes
would not dare to attack them, although they lay with so great a force
right in the way. But the king was a man of too much understanding not
to see that this was impracticable. He knew also that Olaf Trygvason had
found it quite otherwise, as to the Danes not daring to fight, when he
with a few people went into battle against a great body of them. The
king also knew that in King Canute's army there were a great many
Norwegians; therefore he entertained the suspicion that those who gave
this advice were more favourable to King Canute than to him. King Olaf
came at last to the determination, from all these considerations, that
the people who would follow him should make themselves ready to proceed
by land across Gautland, and so to Norway. "But our ships," said he,
"and all things that we cannot take with us, I will send eastward to the
Swedish king's dominions, and let them be taken care of for us there."


Harek of Thjotta replied thus to the king's speech: "It is evident
that I cannot travel on foot to Norway. I am old and heavy, and little
accustomed to walking. Besides, I am unwilling to part with my ship;
for on that ship and its apparel I have bestowed so much labour, that
it would go much against my inclination to put her into the hands of my
enemies." The king said, "Come along with us, Harek, and we shall carry
thee when thou art tired of walking." Then Harek sang these lines:--

     "I'11 mount my ocean steed,
     And o'er the sea I'll speed;
     Forests and hills are not for me,--
     I love the moving sea,
     Though Canute block the Sound,
     Rather than walk the ground,
     And leave my ship, I'll see
     What my ship will do for me."

Then King Olaf let everything be put in order for the journey. The
people had their walking clothing and weapons, but their other clothes
and effects they packed upon such horses as they could get. Then he sent
off people to take his ships east to Calmar. There he had the vessels
laid up, and the ships' apparel and other goods taken care of. Harek did
as he had said, and waited for a wind, and then sailed west to Scania,
until, about the decline of the day, he came with a fresh and fair wind
to the eastward of Holar. There he let the sail and the vane, and flag
and mast be taken down, and let the upper works of the ship be covered
over with some grey tilt-canvas, and let a few men sit at the oars in
the fore part and aft, but the most were sitting low down in the vessel.

When Canute's watchmen saw the ship, they talked with each other about
what ship it might be, and made the guess that it must be one loaded
with herrings or salt, as they only saw a few men at the oars; and the
ship, besides, appeared to them grey, and wanting tar, as if burnt up
by the sun, and they saw also that it was deeply loaded. Now when Harek
came farther through the Sound, and past the fleet, he raised the mast,
hoisted sail, and set up his gilded vane. The sail was white as snow,
and in it were red and blue stripes of cloth interwoven. When the king's
men saw the ship sailing in this state, they told the king that probably
King Olaf had sailed through them. But King Canute replies, that King
Olaf was too prudent a man to sail with a single ship through King
Canute's fleet, and thought it more likely to be Harek of Thjotta, or
the like of him. Many believed the truth to be that King Canute knew
of this expedition of Harek, and that it would not have succeeded so if
they had not concluded a friendship beforehand with each other; which
seemed likely, after King Canute's and Harek's friendly understanding
became generally known.

Harek made this song as he sailed northward round the isle of Vedrey:--

     "The widows of Lund may smile through their tears,
     The Danish girls may have their jeers;
          They may laugh or smile,
          But outside their isle
     Old Harek still on to his North land steers."

Harek went on his way, and never stopped till he came north to
Halogaland, to his own house in Thjotta.


When King Olaf began his journey, he came first into Smaland, and then
into West Gautland. He marched quietly and peaceably, and the country
people gave him all assistance on his journey. Thus he proceeded until
he came into Viken, and north through Viken to Sarpsborg, where he
remained, and ordered a winter abode to be prepared (A.D. 1028). Then he
gave most of the chiefs leave to return home, but kept the lendermen by
him whom he thought the most serviceable. There were with him also all
the sons of Arne Arnmodson, and they stood in great favour with the
king. Geller Thorkelson, who the summer before had come from Iceland,
also came there to the king, as before related.


Sigvat the skald had long been in King Olaf's household, as before
related, and the king made him his marshal. Sigvat had no talent for
speaking in prose; but in skaldcraft he was so practised, that the
verses came as readily from his tongue as if he were speaking in usual
language. He had made a mercantile journey to Normandy, and in the
course of it had come to England, where he met King Canute, and obtained
permission from him to sail to Norway, as before related. When he
came to Norway he proceeded straight to King Olaf, and found him at
Sarpsborg. He presented himself before the king just as he was sitting
down to table. Sigvat saluted him. The king looked at Sigvat and was
silent. Then Sigvat sang:--

     "Great king!  thy marshal is come home,
     No more by land or sea to roam,
          But by thy side
          Still to abide.
     Great king!  what seat here shall he take
     For the king's honour--not his sake?
          For all seats here
          To me are dear."

Then was verified the old saying, that "many are the ears of a king;"
for King Olaf had heard all about Sigvat's journey, and that he had
spoken with Canute. He says to Sigvat, "I do not know if thou art my
marshal, or hast become one of Canute's men." Sigvat said:--

     "Canute, whose golden gifts display
     A generous heart, would have me stay,
     Service in his great court to take,
     And my own Norway king forsake.
     Two masters at a time, I said,
     Were one too many for men bred
     Where truth and virtue, shown to all,
     Make all men true in Olaf's hall."

Then King Olaf told Sigvat to take his seat where he before used to sit;
and in a short time Sigvat was in as high favour with the king as ever.


Erling Skjalgson and all his sons had been all summer in King Canute's
army, in the retinue of Earl Hakon. Thorer Hund was also there, and
was in high esteem. Now when King Canute heard that King Olaf had gone
overland to Norway, he discharged his army, and gave all men leave to
go to their winter abodes. There was then in Denmark a great army of
foreigners, both English, Norwegians, and men of other countries,
who had joined the expedition in summer. In autumn (A.D. 1027) Erling
Skjalgson went to Norway with his men, and received great presents from
King Canute at parting; but Thorer Hund remained behind in King Canute's
court. With Erling went messengers from King Canute well provided with
money; and in winter they travelled through all the country, paying
the money which King Canute had promised to many in autumn for their
assistance. They gave presents in money, besides, to many whose
friendship could be purchased for King Canute. They received much
assistance in their travels from Erling. In this way it came to pass
that many turned their support to King Canute, promised him their
services, and agreed to oppose King Olaf. Some did this openly, but many
more concealed it from the public. King Olaf heard this news, for many
had something to tell him about it; and the conversation in the court
often turned upon it. Sigvat the skald made a song upon it:--

     "The base traitors ply
          With purses of gold,
     Wanting to buy
          What is not to be sold,--
     The king's life and throne
          Wanting to buy:
     But our souls are our own,
          And to hell we'll not hie.
     No pleasure in heaven,
          As we know full well,
     To the traitor is given,--
          His soul is his hell."

Often also the conversation turned upon how ill it beseemed Earl Hakon
to raise his hand in arms against King Olaf, who had given him his life
when he fell into the king's power; but Sigvat was a particular friend
of Earl Hakon, and when he heard the earl spoken against he sang:--

     "Our own court people we may blame,
     If they take gold to their own shame,
     Their king and country to betray.
     With those who give it's not the same,
     From them we have no faith to claim:
     'Tis we are wrong, if we give way."


King Olaf gave a great feast at Yule, and many great people had come to
him. It was the seventh day of Yule, that the king, with a few persons,
among whom was Sigvat, who attended him day and night, went to a house
in which the king's most precious valuables were kept. He had, according
to his custom, collected there with great care the valuable presents he
was to make on New Year's eve. There was in the house no small number of
gold-mounted swords; and Sigvat sang:--

     "The swords stand there,
     All bright and fair,--
     Those oars that dip in blood:
     If I in favour stood,
     I too might have a share.
     A sword the skald would gladly take,
     And use it for his master's sake:
     In favour once he stood,
     And a sword has stained in blood."

The king took a sword of which the handle was twisted round with gold,
and the guard was gold-mounted, and gave it to him. It was a valuable
article; but the gift was not seen without envy, as will appear

Immediately after Yule (1028) the king began his journey to the Uplands;
for he had a great many people about him, but had received no income
that autumn from the North country, for there had been an armament in
summer, and the king had laid out all the revenues he could command;
and also he had no vessels with which he and his people could go to the
North. At the same time he had news from the North, from which he could
see that there would be no safety for him in that quarter, unless he
went with a great force. For these reasons he determined to proceed
through the Uplands, although it was not so long a time since he had
been there in guest-quarters as the law prescribes, and as the kings
usually had the custom of observing in their visits. When he came to
the Uplands the lendermen and the richest bondes invited him to be their
guest, and thus lightened his expenses.


There was a man called Bjorn who was of Gautland family, and a friend
and acquaintance of Queen Astrid, and in some way related to her. She
had given him farm-management and other offices in the upper part of
Hedemark. He had also the management of Osterdal district. Bjorn was
not in esteem with the king, nor liked by the bondes. It happened in a
hamlet which Bjorn ruled over, that many swine and cattle were missing:
therefore Bjorn ordered a Thing to be called to examine the matter. Such
pillage he attributed chiefly to the people settled in forest-farms far
from other men; by which he referred particularly to those who dwelt in
Osterdal, for that district was very thinly inhabited, and full of lakes
and forest-cleanings, and but in few places was any great neighbourhood


There was a man called Raud who dwelt in Osterdal. His wife was called
Ragnhild; and his sons, Dag and Sigurd, were men of great talent. They
were present at the Thing, made a reply in defence of the Osterdal
people, and removed the accusation from them. Bjorn thought they were
too pert in their answer, and too fine in their clothes and weapons; and
therefore turned his speech against these brothers, and said it was not
unlikely they may have committed these thefts. They denied it, and
the Thing closed. Soon after King Olaf, with his retinue, came to
guest-quarters in the house of bailiff Bjorn. The matter which had been
before the Thing was then complained of to the king; and Bjorn said that
Raud's sons appeared to him to have committed these thefts. A messenger
was sent for Raud's sons; and when they appeared before the king he
said they had not at all the appearance of thieves, and acquitted them.
Thereupon they invited the king, with all his retinue, to a three days'
entertainment at their father's; and although Bjorn dissuaded him from
it, the king went. At Raud's there was a very excellent feast. The king
asked Raud what people he and his wife were. Raud answered that he was
originally a Swedish man, rich and of high birth; "but I ran away
with the wife I have ever since had, and she is a sister of King Hring
Dagson." The king then remembered both their families. He found that
father and sons were men of understanding, and asked them what they
could do. Sigurd said he could interpret dreams, and determine the time
of the day although no heavenly bodies could be seen. The king made
trial of his art, and found it was as Sigurd had said. Dag stated, as
his accomplishment, that he could see the misdeeds and vices of every
man who came under his eye, when he chose to observe him closely. The
king told him to declare what faults of disposition he saw in the king
himself. Dag mentioned a fault which the king was sensible he really
had. Then the king asked what fault the bailiff Bjorn had. Dag said
Bjorn was a thief; and told also where Bjorn had concealed on his farm
the bones, horns, and hides of the cattle he had stolen in autumn; "for
he committed," said Dag, "all the thefts in autumn which he accuses
other people of." Dag also told the king the places where the king
should go after leaving them. When the king departed from Raud's house
he was accompanied on the way, and presented with friendly gifts; and
Raud's sons remained with the king. The king went first to Bjorn's,
and found there that all Dag had told him was true. Upon which he
drove Bjorn out of the country; and he had to thank the queen that he
preserved life and limbs.


Thorer, a son of Olver of Eggja, a stepson of Kalf Arnason, and a
sister's son of Thorer Hund, was a remarkably handsome man, stout and
strong. He was at this time eighteen years old; had made a good marriage
in Hedemark, by which he got great wealth; and was besides one of the
most popular of men, and formed to be a chief. He invited the king and
his retinue home to him to a feast. The king accepted the invitation,
went to Thorer's, and was well received. The entertainment was very
splendid; they were excellently treated, and all that was set before the
guests was of the best that could be got. The king and his people talked
among themselves of the excellence of everything, and knew not what they
should admire the most,--whether Thorer's house outside, or the inside
furniture, the table service, or the liquors, or the host who gave them
such a feast. But Dag said little about it. The king used often to speak
to Dag, and ask him about various things; and he had proved the truth
of all that Dag had said, both of things that had happened or were to
happen, and therefore the king had much confidence in what he said.
The king called Dag to him to have a private conversation together,
and spoke to him about many things. Afterwards the king turned the
conversation on Thorer,--what an excellent man Thorer was, and what a
superb feast he had made for them. Dag answered but little to this,
but agreed it was true what the king said. The king then asked Dag
what disposition or faith he found in Thorer. Dag replied that he must
certainly consider Thorer of a good disposition, if he be really what
most people believe him to be. The king told him to answer direct what
he was asked, and said that it was his duty to do so. Dag replies, "Then
thou must allow me to determine the punishment if I disclose his faith."
The king replied that he would not submit his decision to another man,
but again ordered Dag to reply to what he asked.

Dag replies, "The sovereign's order goes before all. I find this
disposition in Thorer, as in so many others, that he is too greedy of

The king: "Is he then a thief, or a robber?"

"He is neither."

"What is he then?"

"To win money he is a traitor to his sovereign. He has taken money from
King Canute the Great for thy head."

The king asks, "What proof hast thou of the truth of this?"

Dag: "He has upon his right arm, above the elbow, a thick gold ring,
which King Canute gave him, and which he lets no man see."

This ended their conference, and the king was very wroth. Now as the
king sat at table, and the guests had drunk a while with great mirth,
and Thorer went round to see the guests well served, the king ordered
Thorer to be called to him. He went up before the table, and laid his
hands upon it.

The king asked, "How old a man art thou, Thorer?"

He answered, "I am eighteen years old."

"A stout man thou art for those years, and thou hast been fortunate

Then the king took his right hand, and felt it towards the elbow.

Thorer said, "Take care, for I have a boil upon my arm."

The king held his hand there, and felt there was something hard under
it. "Hast thou not heard," said he, "that I am a physician? Let me see
the boil."

As Thorer saw it was of no use to conceal it longer, he took off the
ring and laid it on the table.

The king asked if that was the gift of King Canute.

Thorer replied that he could not deny it was.

The king ordered him to be seized and laid in irons. Kalf came up and
entreated for mercy, and offered money for him, which also was seconded
by many; but the king was so wroth that nobody could get in a word.
He said Thorer should suffer the doom he had prepared for himself.
Thereupon he ordered Thorer to be killed. This deed was much detested
in the Uplands, and not less in the Throndhjem country, where many
of Thorer's connections were. Kalf took the death of this man much to
heart, for he had been his foster-son in childhood.


Grjotgard Olverson, Thorer's brother, and the eldest of the brothers,
was a very wealthy man, and had a great troop of people about him. He
lived also at this time in Hedemark. When he heard that Thorer had been
killed, he made an attack upon the places where the king's goods and
men were; but, between whiles, he kept himself in the forest and other
secret places. When the king heard of this disturbance, he had inquiry
made about Grjotgard's haunts, and found out that he had taken up
night-quarters not far from where the king was. King Olaf set out in the
night-time, came there about day-dawn, and placed a circle of men round
the house in which Grjotgard was sleeping. Grjotgard and his men, roused
by the stir of people and clash of arms, ran to their weapons, and
Grjotgard himself sprang to the front room. He asked who commanded the
troop; and it was answered him, "King Olaf was come there." Grjotgard
asked if the king would hear his words. The king, who stood at the door,
said that Grjotgard might speak what he pleased, and he would hear his
words. Grjotgard said, "I do not beg for mercy;" and at the same moment
he rushed out, having his shield over his head, and his drawn sword in
his hand. It was not so much light that he could see clearly. He struck
his sword at the king; but Arnbjorn ran in, and the thrust pierced him
under his armour into his stomach, and Arnbjorn got his deathwound.
Grjotgard was killed immediately, and most of his people with him. After
this event the king turned back to the south to Viken.


Now when the king came to Tunsberg he sent men out to all the districts,
and ordered the people out upon a levy. He had but a small provision
of shipping, and there were only bondes' vessels to be got. From the
districts in the near neighbourhood many people came to him, but few
from any distance; and it was soon found that the people had turned
away from the king. King Olaf sent people to Gautland for his ships,
and other goods and wares which had been left there in autumn; but the
progress of these men was very slow, for it was no better now than in
autumn to sail through the Sound, as King Canute had in spring fitted
out an army throughout the whole of the Danish dominions, and had no
fewer than 1200 vessels.


The news came to Norway that King Canute had assembled an immense
armament through all Denmark, with which he intended to conquer Norway.
When this became known the people were less willing to join King Olaf,
and he got but little aid from the bondes. The king's men often spoke
about this among themselves. Sigvat tells of it thus:--

     "Our men are few, our ships are small,
     While England's king is strong in all;
     But yet our king is not afraid--
     O!  never be such king betrayed!
     'Tis evil counsel to deprive
     Our king of countrymen to strive
     To save their country, sword in hand:
     Tis money that betrays our land."

The king held meetings with the men of the court, and sometimes
House-things with all his people, and consulted with them what
they should, in their opinion, undertake. "We must not conceal from
ourselves," said he, "that Canute will come here this summer; and that
he has, as ye all know, a large force, and we have at present but few
men to oppose to him; and, as matters now stand, we cannot depend much
on the fidelity of the country people." The king's men replied to his
speech in various ways; but it is said that Sigvat the skald replied
thus, advising flight, as treachery, not cowardice, was the cause of

     "We may well fly, when even our foe
     Offers us money if we go.
     I may be blamed, accused of fear;
     But treachery, not faith, rules here.
     Men may retire who long have shown
     Their faith and love, and now alone
     Retire because they cannot save--
     This is no treachery in the brave."


The same spring (A.D. 1028) it happened in Halogaland that Harek of
Thjotta remembered how Asmund Grankelson had plundered and beaten his
house-servants. A cutter with twenty rowing-benches, which belonged
to Harek, was afloat in front of the house, with tent and deck, and
he spread the report that he intended to go south to Throndhjem. One
evening Harek went on board with his house-servants, about eighty men,
who rowed the whole night; and he came towards morning to Grankel's
house, and surrounded it with his men. They then made an attack on the
house, and set fire to it; and Grankel with his people were burnt, and
some were killed outside; and in all about thirty men lost their lives.
After this deed Harek returned home, and sat quietly in his farm. Asmund
was with King Olaf when he heard of it; therefore there was nobody in
Halogaland to sue Harek for mulct for this deed, nor did he offer any


Canute the Great collected his forces, and went to Limfjord. When he was
ready with his equipment he sailed from thence with his whole fleet to
Norway; made all possible speed, and did not land to the eastward of
the Fjords, but crossed Folden, and landed in Agder, where he summoned a
Thing. The bondes came down from the upper country to hold a Thing with
Canute, who was everywhere in that country accepted as king. Then he
placed men over the districts, and took hostages from the bondes, and
no man opposed him. King Olaf was in Tunsberg when Canute's fleet sailed
across the mouth of the fjord. Canute sailed northwards along the coast,
and people came to him from all the districts, and promised him fealty.
He lay a while in Egersund, where Erling Skjalgson came to him with many
people, and King Canute and Erling renewed their league of friendship.
Among other things, Canute promised Erling the whole country between
Stad and Rygiarbit to rule over. Then King Canute proceeded; and, to be
short in our tale, did not stop until he came to Throndhjem, and landed
at Nidaros. In Throndhjem he called together a Thing for the eight
districts, at which King Canute was chosen king of all Norway. Thorer
Hund, who had come with King Canute from Denmark, was there, and also
Harek of Thjotta; and both were made sheriffs of the king, and took the
oath of fealty to him. King Canute gave them great fiefs, and also right
to the Lapland trade, and presented them besides with great gifts. He
enriched all men who were inclined to enter into friendly accord with
him both with fiefs and money, and gave them greater power than they had


When King Canute had laid the whole of Norway trader his authority,
he called together a numerous Thing, both of his own people and of the
people of the country; and at it he made proclamation, that he made his
relation Earl Hakon the governor-in-chief of all the land in Norway
that he had conquered in this expedition. In like manner he led his son
Hardaknut to the high-seat at his side, gave him the title of king, and
therewith the whole Danish dominion. King Canute took as hostages from
all lendermen and great bondes in Norway either their sons, brothers, or
other near connections, or the men who were dearest to them and appeared
to him most suitable; by which he, as before observed, secured their
fidelity to him. As soon as Earl Hakon had attained this power in Norway
his brother-in-law, Einar Tambaskelfer, made an agreement with him, and
received back all the fiefs he formerly had possessed while the earls
ruled the country. King Canute gave Einar great gifts, and bound him by
great kindness to his interests; and promised that Einar should be the
greatest and most important man in Norway, among those who did not hold
the highest dignity, as long as he had power over the country. He added
to this, that Einar appeared to him the most suitable man to hold the
highest title of honour in Norway if no earls remained, and his son
Eindride also, on account of his high birth. Einar placed a great value
on these promises, and, in return, promised the greatest fidelity.
Einar's chiefship began anew with this.


There was a man by name Thorarin Loftunga, an Icelander by birth, and a
great skald, who had been much with the kings and other great chiefs. He
was now with King Canute the Great, and had composed a flock, or short
poem, in his praise. When the king heard of this he was very angry, and
ordered him to bring the next day a drapa, or long poem, by the time he
went to table; and if he failed to do so, said the king, "he shall
be hanged for his impudence in composing such a small poem about King
Canute." Thorarin then composed a stave as a refrain, which he inserted
in the poem, and also augmented it with several other strophes or
verses. This was the refrain:--

     "Canute protects his realm, as Jove,
     Guardian of Greece, his realm above."

King Canute rewarded him for the poem with fifty marks of silver. The
poem was called the "Headransom" ("Hofudlausn"). Thorarin composed
another poem about King Canute, which was called the "Campaign Poem"
("Togdrapa"); and therein he tells King Canute's expedition when he
sailed from Denmark to Norway; and the following are strophes from one
of the parts of this poem:--

     "Canute with all his men is out,
     Under the heavens in war-ships stout,--
     'Out on the sea, from Limfjord's green,
     My good, my brave friend's fleet is seen.
     The men of Adger on the coast
     Tremble to see this mighty host:
     The guilty tremble as they spy
     The victor's fleet beneath the sky.

     "The sight surpasses far the tale,
     As glacing in the sun they sail;
     The king's ship glittering all with gold,
     And splendour there not to be told.
     Round Lister many a coal-black mast
     Of Canute's fleet is gliding past.
     And now through Eger sound they ride,
     Upon the gently heaving tide.

     "And all the sound is covered o'er
     With ships and sails, from shore to shore,
     A mighty king, a mighty host,
     Hiding the sea on Eger coast.
     And peaceful men in haste now hie
     Up Hiornagla-hill the fleet to spy,
     As round the ness where Stad now lies
     Each high-stemmed ship in splendour flies.

     "Nor seemed the voyage long, I trow,
     To warrior on the high-built bow,
     As o'er the ocean-mountains riding
     The land and hill seem past him gliding.
     With whistling breeze and flashing spray
     Past Stein the gay ships dashed away;
     In open sea, the southern gale
     Filled every wide out-bellying sail.

     "Still on they fly, still northward go,
     Till he who conquers every foe,
     The mighty Canute, came to land,
     Far in the north on Throndhjem's strand.
     There this great king of Jutland race,
     Whose deeds and gifts surpass in grace
     All other kings, bestowed the throne
     Of Norway on his sister's son.

     "To his own son he gave the crown
     (This I must add to his renown)
     Of Denmark--land of shadowy vales,
     In which the white swan trims her sails."

Here it is told that King Canute's expedition was grander than saga can
tell; but Thorarin sang thus because he would pride himself upon being
one of King Canute's retinue when he came to Norway.


The men whom King Olaf had sent eastwards to Gautland after his ships
took with them the vessels they thought the best, and burnt the rest.
The ship-apparel and other goods belonging to the king and his men they
also took with them; and when they heard that King Canute had gone to
Norway they sailed west through the Sound, and then north to Viken to
King Olaf, to whom they delivered his ships. He was then at Tunsberg.
When King Olaf learnt that King Canute was sailing north along the
coast, King Olaf steered with his fleet into Oslo fjord, and into a
branch of it called Drafn, where he lay quiet until King Canute's fleet
had sailed southwards again. On this expedition which King Canute made
from the North along the coast, he held a Thing in each district, and in
every Thing the country was bound by oath in fealty to him, and hostages
were given him. He went eastward across the mouths of the fjords to
Sarpsborg, and held a Thing there, and, as elsewhere, the country was
surrendered to him under oath of fidelity. King Canute then returned
south to Denmark, after having conquered Norway without stroke of sword,
and he ruled now over three kingdoms. So says Halvard Hareksblese when
he sang of King Canute:--

     "The warrior-king, whose blood-stain'd shield
     Has shone on many a hard-fought field,
     England and Denmark now has won,
     And o'er three kingdoms rules alone.
     Peace now he gives us fast and sure,
     Since Norway too is made secure
     By him who oft, in days of yore,
     Glutted the hawk and wolf with gore."


King Olaf sailed with his ships out to Tunsberg, as soon as he heard
that King Canute had turned back, and was gone south to Denmark. He then
made himself ready with the men who liked to follow him, and had then
thirteen ships. Afterwards he sailed out along Viken; but got little
money, and few men, as those only followed him who dwelt in islands, or
on outlying points of land. The king landed in such places, but got only
the money and men that fell in his way; and he soon perceived that the
country had abandoned him. He proceeded on according to the winds. This
was in the beginning of winter (A.D. 1029). The wind turned very late in
the season in their favour, so that they lay long in the Seley islands,
where they heard the news from the North, through merchants, who told
the king that Erling Skjalgson had collected a great force in Jadar, and
that his ship lay fully rigged outside of the land, together with many
other vessels belonging to the bondes; namely, skiffs, fisher-yachts,
and great row-boats. Then the king sailed with his fleet from the East,
and lay a while in Egersund. Both parties heard of each other now, and
Erling assembled all the men he could.


On Thomasmas, before Yule (Dec. 21), the king left the harbour as soon
as day appeared. With a good but rather strong gale he sailed northwards
past Jadar. The weather was rainy, with dark flying clouds in the sky.
The spies went immediately in through the Jadar country when the king
sailed past it; and as soon as Erling heard that the king was sailing
past from the East, he let the war-horn call all the people on board,
and the whole force hastened to the ships, and prepared for battle. The
king's ship passed by Jadar at a great rate; but thereafter turned
in towards the land, intending to run up the fjords to gather men and
money. Erling Skjalgson perceived this, and sailed after him with a
great force and many ships. Swiftly their vessels flew, for they had
nothing on board but men and arms: but Erling's ship went much faster
than the others; therefore he took in a reef in the sails, and waited
for the other vessels. Then the king saw that Erling with his fleet
gained upon him fast; for the king's ships were heavily laden, and were
besides water-soaked, having been in the sea the whole summer, autumn,
and winter, up to this time. He saw also that there would be a great
want of men, if he should go against the whole of Erling's fleet when it
was assembled. He hailed from ship to ship the orders to let the sails
gently sink, and to unship the booms and outriggers, which was done.
When Erling saw this he calls out to his people, and orders them to get
on more sail. "Ye see," says he, "that their sails are diminishing, and
they are getting fast away from our sight." He took the reef out of the
sails of his ship, and outsailed all the others immediately; for Erling
was very eager in his pursuit of King Olaf.


King Olaf then steered in towards the Bokn fjord, by which the ships
came out of sight of each other. Thereafter the king ordered his men
to strike the sails, and row forwards through a narrow sound that was
there, and all the ships lay collected within a rocky point. Then all
the king's men put on their weapons. Erling sailed in through the sound,
and observed nothing until the whole fleet was before him, and he saw
the king's men rowing towards him with all their ships at once. Erling
and his crew let fall the sails, and seized their weapons; but the
king's fleet surrounded his ship on all sides. Then the fight began, and
it was of the sharpest; but soon the greatest loss was among Erling's
men. Erling stood on the quarter-deck of his ship. He had a helmet on
his head, a shield before him, and a sword in his hand. Sigvat the skald
had remained behind in Viken, and heard the tidings. He was a great
friend of Erling, had received presents from him, and had been at his
house. Sigvat composed a poem upon Erling's fall, in which there is the
following verse:--

     "Erling has set his ship on sea--
     Against the king away is he:
     He who oft lets the eagle stain
     Her yellow feet in blood of slain.
     His little war-ship side by side
     With the king's fleet, the fray will bide.
     Now sword to sword the fight is raging,

     Which Erling with the king is waging."

Then Erling's men began to fall, and at the same moment his ship was
carried by boarding, and every man of his died in his place. The king
himself was amongst the foremost in the fray. So says Sigvat:--

     "The king's men hewed with hasty sword,--
     The king urged on the ship to board,--
     All o'er the decks the wounded lay:
     Right fierce and bloody was that fray.
     In Tungur sound, on Jadar shore,
     The decks were slippery with red gore;
     Warm blood was dropping in the sound,
     Where the king's sword was gleaming round."

So entirely had Erling's men fallen, that not a man remained standing in
his ship but himself alone; for there was none who asked for quarter,
or none who got it if he did ask. There was no opening for flight, for
there lay ships all around Erling's ship on every side, and it is told
for certain that no man attempted to fly; and Sigvat says:--

     "All Erling's men fell in the fray,
     Off Bokn fjord, this hard-fought day.
     The brave king boarded, onward cheered,
     And north of Tungur the deck was cleared.
     Erling alone, the brave, the stout,
     Cut off from all, yet still held out;
     High on the stern--a sight to see--
     In his lone ship alone stood he."

Then Erling was attacked both from the forecastle and from the other
ships. There was a large space upon the poop which stood high above the
other ships, and which nobody could reach but by arrow-shot, or partly
with the thrust of spear, but which he always struck from him by
parrying. Erling defended himself so manfully, that no example is known
of one man having sustained the attack of so many men so long. Yet he
never tried to get away, nor asked for quarter. So says Sigvat:--

     "Skjalg's brave son no mercy craves,--
     The battle's fury still he braves;
     The spear-storm, through the air sharp singing,
     Against his shield was ever ringing.
     So Erling stood; but fate had willed
     His life off Bokn should be spilled.
     No braver man has, since his day,
     Past Bokn fjord ta'en his way."

When Olaf went back a little upon the fore-deck he saw Erling's
behaviour; and the king accosted him thus:--"Thou hast turned against me
to-day, Erling."

He replies, "The eagle turns his claws in defence when torn asunder."
Sigvat the skald tells thus of these words of Erling:--

     "Erling, our best defence of old,--
     Erling the brave, the brisk, the bold,--
     Stood to his arms, gaily crying,
     'Eagles should show their claws, though dying:'
     The very words which once before
     To Olaf he had said on shore,
     At Utstein when they both prepared
     To meet the foe, and danger shared."

Then said the king, "Wilt thou enter into my service, Erling?"

"That I will," said he; took the helmet off his head, laid down his
sword and shield, and went forward to the forecastle deck.

The king struck him in the chin with the sharp point of his battle-axe,
and said, "I shall mark thee as a traitor to thy sovereign."

Then Aslak Fitiaskalle rose up, and struck Erling in the head with
an axe, so that it stood fast in his brain, and was instantly his
death-wound. Thus Erling lost his life.

The king said to Aslak, "May all ill luck attend thee for that stroke;
for thou hast struck Norway out of my hands."

Aslak replied, "It is bad enough if that stroke displease thee, for I
thought it was striking Norway into thy hands; and if I have given thee
offence, sire, by this stroke, and have thy ill-will for it, it will go
badly with me, for I will get so many men's ill-will and enmity for this
deed that I would need all your protection and favour."

The king replied that he should have it.

Thereafter the king ordered every man to return to his ship, and to get
ready to depart as fast as he could. "We will not plunder the slain,"
says he, "and each man may keep what he has taken." The men returned
to the ships and prepared themselves for the departure as quickly as
possible; and scarcely was this done before the vessels of the bondes
ran in from the south into the sound. It went with the bonde-army as is
often seen, that the men, although many in numbers, know not what to
do when they have experienced a check, have lost their chief, and
are without leaders. None of Erling's sons were there, and the bondes
therefore made no attack, and the king sailed on his way northwards. But
the bondes took Erling's corpse, adorned it, and carried it with them
home to Sole, and also the bodies of all who had fallen. There was great
lamentation over Erling; and it has been a common observation among
people, that Erling Skjalgson was the greatest and worthiest man in
Norway of those who had no high title. Sigvat made these verses upon the

     "Thus Erling fell--and such a gain
     To buy with such a loss was vain;
     For better man than he ne'er died,
     And the king's gain was small beside.
     In truth no man I ever knew
     Was, in all ways, so firm and true;
     Free from servility and pride,
     Honoured by all, yet thus he died."

Sigvat also says that Aslak had very unthinkingly committed this murder
of his own kinsman:--

     "Norway's brave defender's dead!
     Aslak has heaped on his own head
     The guilt of murdering his own kin:
     May few be guilty of such sin!
     His kinsman's murder on him lies--
     Our forefathers, in sayings wise,
     Have said, what is unknown to few,
     'Kinsmen to kinsmen should be true.'"


Of Erling's sons some at that time were north in Throndhjem, some in
Hordaland, and some in the Fjord district, for the purpose of collecting
men. When Erling's death was reported, the news came also that there was
a levy raising in Agder, Hordaland, and Rogaland. Forces were raised and
a great army assembled, under Erling's sons, to pursue King Olaf.

When King Olaf retired from the battle with Erling he went northward
through the sounds, and it was late in the day. It is related that the
king then made the following verses:--

     "This night, with battle sounds wild ringing,
     Small joy to the fair youth is bringing
     Who sits in Jadar, little dreaming
     O'er what this night the raven's screaming.
     The far-descended Erling's life
     Too soon has fallen; but, in the strife
     He met the luck they well deserve
     Who from their faith and fealty swerve."

Afterwards the king sailed with his fleet along the land northwards, and
got certain tidings of the bondes assembling an army. There were many
chiefs and lendermen at this time with King Olaf, and all the sons of
Arne. Of this Bjarne Gullbrarskald speaks in the poem he composed about
Kalf Arnason:--

     "Kalf!  thou hast fought at Bokn well;
     Of thy brave doings all men tell:
     When Harald's son his men urged on
     To the hard strife, thy courage shone.
     Thou soon hadst made a good Yule feast
     For greedy wolf there in the East:
     Where stone and spear were flying round,
     There thou wast still the foremost found.
     The people suffered in the strife
     When noble Erling lost his life,
     And north of Utstein many a speck
     Of blood lay black upon the deck.
     The king, 'tis clear, has been deceived,
     By treason of his land bereaved;
     And Agder now, whose force is great.
     Will rule o'er all parts of the state."

King Olaf continued his voyage until he came north of Stad, and brought
up at the Herey Isles. Here he heard the news that Earl Hakon had a
great war-force in Throndhjem, and thereupon the king held a council
with his people. Kalf Arnason urged much to advance to Throndhjem, and
fight Earl Hakon, notwithstanding the difference of numbers. Many others
supported this advice, but others dissuaded from it, and the matter was
left to the king's judgment.


Afterwards the king went into Steinavag, and remained there all night;
but Aslak Fitiaskalle ran into Borgund, where he remained the night,
and where Vigleik Arnason was before him. In the morning, when Aslak was
about returning on board, Vigleik assaulted him, and sought to avenge
Erling's murder. Aslak fell there. Some of the king's court-men, who had
been home all summer, joined the king here. They came from Frekeysund,
and brought the king tidings that Earl Hakon, and many lendermen with
him, had come in the morning to Frekeysund with a large force; "and they
will end thy days, sire, if they have strength enough." Now the king
sent his men up to a hill that was near; and when they came to the top,
and looked northwards to Bjarney Island, they perceived that a great
armament of many ships was coming from the north, and they hastened back
to the king with this intelligence. The king, who was lying there with
only twelve ships, ordered the war-horn to sound, the tents to be taken
down on his ships, and they took to their oars. When they were quite
ready, and were leaving the harbour, the bonde army sailed north around
Thiotande with twenty-five ships. The king then steered inside of Nyrfe
Island, and inside of Hundsver. Now when King Olaf came right abreast of
Borgund, the ship which Aslak had steered came out to meet him, and when
they found the king they told him the tidings,--that Vigleik Arnason had
killed Aslak Fitiaskalle, because he had killed Erling Skjalgson. The
king took this news very angrily, but could not delay his voyage on
account of the enemy and he sailed in by Vegsund and Skor. There some
of his people left him; among others, Kalf Arnason, with many other
lendermen and ship commanders, who all went to meet Earl Hakon. King
Olaf, however, proceeded on his way without stopping until he came to
Todar fjord, where he brought up at Valdal, and landed from his ship. He
had then five ships with him, which he drew up upon the shore, and took
care of their sails and materials. Then he set up his land-tent upon a
point of land called Sult, where there are pretty flat fields, and set
up a cross near to the point of land. A bonde, by name Bruse, who dwelt
there in More, and was chief over the valley, came down to King Olaf,
together with many other bondes, and received him well, and according
to his dignity; and he was friendly, and pleased with their reception of
him. Then the king asked if there was a passable road up in the country
from the valley to Lesjar; and Bruse replied, that there was an urd in
the valley called Skerfsurd not passable for man or beast. King Olaf
answers, "That we must try, bonde, and it will go as God pleases. Come
here in the morning with your yoke, and come yourself with it, and let
us then see. When we come to the sloping precipice, what chance there
may be, and if we cannot devise some means of coming over it with horses
and people."


Now when day broke the bondes drove down with their yokes, as the king
had told them. The clothes and weapons were packed upon horses, but the
king and all the people went on foot. He went thus until he came to a
place called Krosbrekka, and when he came up upon the hill he rested
himself, sat down there a while, looked down over the fjord, and said,
"A difficult expedition ye have thrown upon my hands, ye lendermen, who
have now changed your fealty, although but a little while ago ye were my
friends and faithful to me." There are now two crosses erected upon
the bank on which the king sat. Then the king mounted a horse, and rode
without stopping up the valley, until he came to the precipice. Then
the king asked Bruse if there was no summer hut of cattle-herds in the
neighbourhood, where they could remain. He said there was. The king
ordered his land-tent to be set up, and remained there all night. In the
morning the king ordered them to drive to the urd, and try if they could
get across it with the waggons. They drove there, and the king remained
in the meantime in his tent. Towards evening the king's court-men and
the bondes came back, and told how they had had a very fatiguing labour,
without making any progress, and that there never could be a road made
that they could get across: so they continued there the second night,
during which, for the whole night, the king was occupied in prayer. As
soon as he observed day dawning he ordered his men to drive again to the
urd, and try once more if they could get across it with the waggons; but
they went very unwillingly, saying nothing could be gained by it. When
they were gone the man who had charge of the king's kitchen came,
and said there were only two carcasses of young cattle remaining of
provision: "Although you, sire, have 400 men, and there are 100 bondes
besides." Then the king ordered that he should set all the kettles on
the fire, and put a little bit of meat in each kettle, which was done.
Then the king went there, and made the sign of the cross over each
kettle, and told them to make ready the meat. The king then went to the
urd called Skerfsurd, where a road should be cleared. When the king came
all his people were sitting down, quite worn out with the hard labour.
Bruse said, "I told you, sire, but you would not believe me, that we
could make nothing of this urd." The king laid aside his cloak, and told
them to go to work once more at the urd. They did so, and now twenty men
could handle stones which before 100 men could not move from the place;
and thus before midday the road was cleared so well that it was as
passable for men, and for horses with packs, as a road in the plain
fields. The king, after this, went down again to where the meat was,
which place is called Olaf's Rock. Near the rock is a spring, at which
Olaf washed himself; and therefore at the present day, when the cattle
in the valley are sick, their illness is made better by their drinking
at this well. Thereafter the king sat down to table with all the others;
and when he was satisfied he asked if there was any other sheeling on
the other side of the urd, and near the mountains, where they could pass
the night. Bruse said there was such a sheeling, called Groningar; but
that nobody could pass the night there on account of witchcraft, and
evil beings who were in the sheeling. Then the king said they must get
ready for their journey, as he wanted to be at the sheeling for the
night. Then came the kitchen-master to the king, and tells that there
was come an extraordinary supply of provisions, and he did not know
where it had come from, or how. The king thanked God for this blessing,
and gave the bondes who drove down again to their valley some rations of
food, but remained himself all night in the sheeling. In the middle
of the night, while the people were asleep, there was heard in the
cattle-fold a dreadful cry, and these words: "Now Olaf's prayers
are burning me," says the spirit, "so that I can no longer be in my
habitation; now must I fly, and never more come to this fold." When the
king's people awoke in the morning the king proceeded to the mountains,
and said to Bruse, "Here shall now a farm be settled, and the bonde who
dwells here shall never want what is needful for the support of life;
and never shall his crop be destroyed by frost, although the crops be
frozen on the farms both above it and below it." Then the king proceeded
over the mountains, and came to a farm called Einby, where he remained
for the night. King Olaf had then been fifteen years king of Norway
(A.D. 1015-1029), including the year both he and Svein were in the
country, and this year we have now been telling about. It was, namely,
a little past Yule when the king left his ships and took to the land, as
before related. Of this portion of his reign the priest Are Thorgilson
the Wise was the first who wrote; and he was both faithful in his story,
of a good memory, and so old a man that he could remember the men, and
had heard their accounts, who were so old that through their age they
could remember these circumstances as he himself wrote them in his
books, and he named the men from whom he received his information.
Otherwise it is generally said that King Olaf had been fifteen years
king of Norway when he fell; but they who say so reckon to Earl Svein's
government, the last year he was in the country, for King Olaf lived
fifteen years afterwards as king.


When the king had been one night at Lesjar he proceeded on his journey
with his men, day by day; first into Gudbrandsdal, and from thence out
to Redemark. Now it was seen who had been his friends, for they followed
him; but those who had served him with less fidelity separated from him,
and some showed him even indifference, or even full hostility, which
afterwards was apparent; and also it could be seen clearly in many
Upland people that they took very ill his putting Thorer to death, as
before related. King Olaf gave leave to return home to many of his
men who had farms and children to take care of; for it seemed to them
uncertain what safety there might be for the families and property of
those who left the country with him. Then the king explained to his
friends his intention of leaving the country, and going first east into
Svithjod, and there taking his determination as to where he should go;
but he let his friends know his intention to return to the country, and
regain his kingdoms, if God should grant him longer life; and he did not
conceal his expectation that the people of Norway would again return
to their fealty to him. "I think," says he, "that Earl Hakon will have
Norway but a short time under his power, which many will not think an
extraordinary expectation, as Earl Hakon has had but little luck against
me; but probably few people will trust to my prophecy, that Canute the
Great will in the course of a few years die, and his kingdoms vanish;
and there will he no risings in favour of his race." When the king had
ended his speech, his men prepared themselves for their departure. The
king, with the troop that followed him, turned east to Eid forest. And
there were along with him the Queen Astrid; their daughter Ulfhild;
Magnus, King Olaf's son; Ragnvald Brusason; the three sons of Arne,
Thorberg, Fin, and Arne, with many lendermen; and the king's attendants
consisted of many chosen men. Bjorn the marshal got leave to go home,
and he went to his farm, and many others of the king's friends returned
home with his permission to their farms. The king begged them to let him
know the events which might happen in the country, and which it might be
important for him to know; and now the king proceeded on his way.


It is to be related of King Olaf's journey, that he went first from
Norway eastward through Eid forest to Vermaland, then to Vatnsby, and
through the forests in which there are roads, until he came out in
Nerike district. There dwelt a rich and powerful man in that part called
Sigtryg, who had a son, Ivar, who afterwards became a distinguished
person. Olaf stayed with Sigtryg all spring (A.D. 1029); and when summer
came he made ready for a journey, procured a ship for himself, and
without stopping went on to Russia to King Jarisleif and his queen
Ingegerd; but his own queen Astrid, and their daughter Ulfhild, remained
behind in Svithjod, and the king took his son Magnus eastward with him.
King Jarisleif received King Olaf in the kindest manner, and made him
the offer to remain with him, and to have so much land as was necessary
for defraying the expense of the entertainment of his followers. King
Olaf accepted this offer thankfully, and remained there. It is related
that King Olaf was distinguished all his life for pious habits, and
zeal in his prayers to God. But afterwards, when he saw his own power
diminished, and that of his adversaries augmented, he turned all his
mind to God's service; for he was not distracted by other thoughts, or
by the labour he formerly had upon his hands, for during all the time he
sat upon the throne he was endeavouring to promote what was most
useful: and first to free and protect the country from foreign chiefs'
oppressions, then to convert the people to the right faith; and also
to establish law and the rights of the country, which he did by letting
justice have its way, and punishing evil-doers.


It had been an old custom in Norway that the sons of lendermen, or other
great men, went out in war-ships to gather property, and they marauded
both in the country and out of the country. But after King Olaf came
to the sovereignty he protected the country, so that he abolished all
plundering there; and even if they were the sons of powerful men who
committed any depredation, or did what the king considered against law,
he did not spare them at all, but they must suffer in life or limbs; and
no man's entreaties, and no offer of money-penalties, could help them.
So says Sigvat:--

     "They who on viking cruises drove
     With gifts of red gold often strove
     To buy their safety--but our chief
     Had no compassion for the thief.
     He made the bravest lose his head
     Who robbed at sea, and pirates led;
     And his just sword gave peace to all,
     Sparing no robber, great or small."

And he also says:--

     "Great king!  whose sword on many a field
     Food to the wandering wolf did yield,
     And then the thief and pirate band
     Swept wholly off by sea and land--
     Good king!  who for the people's sake
     Set hands and feet upon a stake,
     When plunderers of great name and bold
     Harried the country as of old.
     The country's guardian showed his might
     When oft he made his just sword bite
     Through many a viking's neck and hair,
     And never would the guilty spare.
     King Magnus' father, I must say,
     Did many a good deed in his day.
     Olaf the Thick was stern and stout,
     Much good his victories brought out."

He punished great and small with equal severity, which appeared to
the chief people of the country too severe; and animosity rose to the
highest when they lost relatives by the king's just sentence, although
they were in reality guilty. This was the origin of the hostility of the
great men of the country to King Olaf, that they could not bear his
just judgments. He again would rather renounce his dignity than omit
righteous judgment. The accusation against him, of being stingy with his
money, was not just, for he was a most generous man towards his friends;
but that alone was the cause of the discontent raised against him, that
he appeared hard and severe in his retributions. Besides, King Canute
offered great sums of money, and the great chiefs were corrupted by
this, and by his offering them greater dignities than they had possessed
before. The inclinations of the people, also, were all in favour of
Earl Hakon, who was much beloved by the country folks when he ruled the
country before.


Earl Hakon had sailed with his fleet from Throndhjem, and gone south to
More against King Olaf, as before related. Now when the king bore away,
and ran into the fjord, the earl followed him thither; and then Kalf
Arnason came to meet him, with many of the men who had deserted King
Olaf. Kalf was well received. The earl steered in through Todar fjord to
Valdal, where the king had laid up his ships on the strand. He took
the ships which belonged to the king, had them put upon the water and
rigged, and cast lots, and put commanders in charge of them according to
the lots. There was a man called Jokul, who was an Icelander, a son of
Bard Jokulson of Vatnsdal; the lot fell upon Jokul to command the Bison,
which King Olaf himself had commanded. Jokul made these verses upon

     "Mine is the lot to take the helm
     Which Olaf owned, who owned the realm;
     From Sult King Olaf's ship to steer
     (Ill luck I dread on his reindeer).
     My girl will never hear the tidings,
     Till o'er the wild wave I come riding
     In Olaf's ship, who loved his gold,
     And lost his ships with wealth untold."

We may here shortly tell what happened a long time after.--that this
Jokul fell in with King Olaf's men in the island of Gotland, and
the king ordered him to be taken out to be beheaded. A willow twig
accordingly was plaited in with his hair, and a man held him fast by it.
Jokul sat down upon a bank, and a man swung the axe to execute him; but
Jokul hearing the sound, raised his head, and the blow struck him in
the head, and made a dreadful wound. As the king saw it would be his
death-wound, he ordered them to let him lie with it. Jokul raised
himself up, and he sang:--

     "My hard fate I mourn,--
     Alas! my wounds burn,
     My red wounds are gaping,
     My life-blood escaping.
     My wounds burn sore;
     But I suffer still more
     From the king's angry word,
     Than his sharp-biting sword."


Kalf Arnason went with Earl Hakon north to Throndhjem, and the earl
invited him to enter into his service. Kalf said he would first go home
to his farm at Eggja, and afterwards make his determination; and Kalf
did so. When he came home he found his wife Sigrid much irritated; and
she reckoned up all the sorrow inflicted on her, as she insisted, by
King Olaf. First, he had ordered her first husband Olver to be killed.
"And now since," says she, "my two sons; and thou thyself, Kalf, wert
present when they were cut off, and which I little expected from thee."
Kalf says, it was much against his will that Thorer was killed. "I
offered money-penalty for him," says he; "and when Grjotgard was killed
I lost my brother Arnbjorn at the same time." She replies, "It is well
thou hast suffered this from the king; for thou mayest perhaps avenge
him, although thou wilt not avenge my injuries. Thou sawest how thy
foster-son Thorer was killed, with all the regard of the king for thee."
She frequently brought out such vexatious speeches to Kalf, to which he
often answered angrily; but yet he allowed himself to be persuaded by
her to enter into the earl's service, on condition of renewing his fiefs
to him. Sigrid sent word to the earl how far she had brought the matter
with Kalf. As soon as the earl heard of it, he sent a message to
Kalf that he should come to the town to him. Kalf did not decline the
invitation, but came directly to Nidaros, and waited on the earl, who
received him kindly. In their conversation it was fully agreed upon that
Kalf should go into the earl's service, and should receive great fiefs.
After this Kalf returned home, and had the greater part of the interior
of the Throndhjem country under him. As soon as it was spring Kalf
rigged out a ship that belonged to him, and when she was ready he put
to sea, and sailed west to England; for he had heard that in spring King
Canute was to sail from Denmark to England, and that King Canute had
given Harald, a son of Thorkel the High, an earldom in Denmark. Kalf
Arnason went to King Canute as soon as he arrived in England. Bjarne
Gullbrarskald tells of this:--

     "King Olaf eastward o'er the sea
     To Russia's monarch had to flee;
     Our Harald's brother ploughed the main,
     And furrowed white its dark-blue plain.
     Whilst thou--the truth I still will say,
     Nor fear nor favour can me sway--
     Thou to King Canute hastened fast,
     As soon as Olaf's luck was past."

Now when Kalf came to King Canute the king received him particularly
well, and had many conversations with him. Among other things, King
Canute, in a conference, asked Kalf to bind himself to raise a warfare
against King Olaf, if ever he should return to the country. "And for
which," says the king, "I will give thee the earldom, and place thee
to rule over Norway; and my relation Hakon shall come to me, which will
suit him better, for he is so honourable and trustworthy that I believe
he would not even throw a spear against the person of King Olaf if he
came back to the country." Kalf lent his ear to what the king proposed,
for he had a great desire to attain this high dignity; and this
conclusion was settled upon between King Canute and Kalf. Kalf then
prepared to return home, and on his departure he received splendid
presents from King Canute. Bjarne the skald tells of these

     "Sprung from old earls!--to England's lord
     Thou owest many a thankful word
     For many a gift: if all be true,
     Thy interest has been kept in view;
     For when thy course was bent for home,
     (Although that luck is not yet come,)
     'That Norway should be thine,' 'tis said,
     The London king a promise made."

Kalf thereafter returned to Norway, and came to his farm.


Earl Hakon left the country this summer (A.D. 1029), and went to
England, and when he came there was well received by the king. The earl
had a bride in England, and he travelled to conclude this marriage, and
as he intended holding his wedding in Norway, he came to procure those
things for it in England which it was difficult to get in Norway. In
autumn he made ready for his return, but it was somewhat late before he
was clear for sea; but at last he set out. Of his voyage all that can
be told is, that the vessel was lost, and not a man escaped. Some relate
that the vessel was seen north of Caithness in the evening in a heavy
storm, and the wind blowing out of Pentland Firth. They who believe this
report say the vessel drove out among the breakers of the ocean; but
with certainty people knew only that Earl Hakon was missing in the
ocean, and nothing belonging to the ship ever came to land. The same
autumn some merchants came to Norway, who told the tidings that were
going through the country of Earl Hakon being missing; and all men
knew that he neither came to Norway nor to England that autumn, so that
Norway that winter was without a head.


Bjorn the marshal sat at home on his farm after his parting from King
Olaf. Bjorn was a celebrated man; therefore it was soon reported far and
wide that he had set himself down in quietness. Earl Hakon and the other
chiefs of the country heard this also, and sent persons with a verbal
message to Bjorn. When the messengers arrived Bjorn received them well;
and afterwards Bjorn called them to him to a conference, and asked their
business. He who was their foreman presented to Bjorn the salutations of
King Canute, Earl Hakon, and of several chiefs. "King Canute," says he,
"has heard much of thee, and that thou hast been long a follower of King
Olaf the Thick, and hast been a great enemy of King Canute; and this
he thinks not right, for he will be thy friend, and the friend of all
worthy men, if thou wilt turn from thy friendship to King Olaf and
become his enemy. And the only thing now thou canst do is to seek
friendship and protection there where it is most readily to be found,
and which all men in this northern world think it most honourable to be
favoured with. Ye who have followed Olaf the Thick should consider how
he is now separated from you; and that now ye have no aid against King
Canute and his men, whose lands ye plundered last summer, and whose
friends ye murdered. Therefore ye ought to accept, with thanks, the
friendship which the king offers you; and it would become you better if
you offered money even in mulct to obtain it."

When he had ended his speech Bjorn replies, "I wish now to sit quietly
at home, and not to enter into the service of any chief."

The messenger answers, "Such men as thou art are just the right men to
serve the king; and now I can tell thee there are just two things for
thee to choose,--either to depart in peace from thy property, and wander
about as thy comrade Olaf is doing; or, which is evidently better, to
accept King Canute's and Earl Hakon's friendship, become their man,
and take the oaths of fealty to them. Receive now thy reward." And he
displayed to him a large bag full of English money.

Bjorn was a man fond of money, and self-interested; and when he saw
the silver he was silent, and reflected with himself what resolution he
should take. It seemed to him much to abandon his property, as he did
not think it probable that King Olaf would ever have a rising in his
favour in Norway. Now when the messenger saw that Bjorn's inclinations
were turned towards the money, he threw down two thick gold rings,
and said, "Take the money at once, Bjorn, and swear the oaths to King
Canute; for I can promise thee that this money is but a trifle, compared
to what thou wilt receive if thou followest King Canute."

By the heap of money, the fine promises, and the great presents, he was
led by covetousness, took the money, went into King Canute's service,
and gave the oaths of fealty to King Canute and Earl Hakon, and then the
messengers departed.


When Bjorn heard the tidings that Earl Hakon was missing he soon altered
his mind, and was much vexed with himself for having been a traitor in
his fidelity to King Olaf. He thought, now, that he was freed from the
oath by which he had bound himself to Earl Hakon. It seemed to Bjorn
that now there was some hope that King Olaf might again come to the
throne of Norway if he came back, as the country was without a head.
Bjorn therefore immediately made himself ready to travel, and took some
men with him. He then set out on his journey, travelling night and day,
on horseback when he could, and by ship when he found occasion; and
never halted until he came, after Yule, east to Russia to King Olaf, who
was very glad to see Bjorn. Then the king inquired much about the
news from Norway. Bjorn tells him that Earl Hakon was missing, and the
kingdom left without a head. At this news the men who had followed
King Olaf were very glad,--all who had left property, connections, and
friends in Norway; and the longing for home was awakened in them. Bjorn
told King Olaf much news from Norway, and very anxious the king was to
know, and asked much how his friends had kept their fidelity towards
him. Bjorn answered, it had gone differently with different people.

Then Bjorn stood up, fell at the king's feet, held his foot, and said,
"All is in your power, sire, and in God's! I have taken money from King
Canute's men, and sworn them the oaths of fealty; but now will I follow
thee, and not part from thee so long as we both live."

The king replies, "Stand up, Bjorn' thou shalt be reconciled with me;
but reconcile thy perjury with God. I can see that but few men in Norway
have held fast by their fealty, when such men as thou art could be false
to me. But true it is also that people sit in great danger when I am
distant, and they are exposed to the wrath of my enemies."

Bjorn then reckoned up those who had principally bound themselves to
rise in hostility against the king and his men; and named, among others,
Erling's son in Jadar and their connections, Einar Tambaskelfer, Kalf
Arnason, Thorer Hund, and Harek of Thjotta.


After King Olaf came to Russia he was very thoughtful, and weighed what
counsel he now should follow. King Jarisleif and Queen Ingegerd offered
him to remain with them, and receive a kingdom called Vulgaria, which is
a part of Russia, and in which land the people were still heathen. King
Olaf thought over this offer; but when he proposed it to his men they
dissuaded him from settling himself there, and urged the king to betake
himself to Norway to his own kingdom: but the king himself had resolved
almost in his own mind to lay down his royal dignity, to go out into the
world to Jerusalem, or other holy places, and to enter into some order
of monks. But yet the thought lay deep in his soul to recover again, if
there should be any opportunity for him, his kingdom in Norway. When
he thought over this, it recurred to his mind how all things had gone
prosperously with him during the first ten years of his reign, and how
afterwards every thing he undertook became heavy, difficult, and hard;
and that he had been unlucky, on all occasions in which he had tried
his luck. On this account he doubted if it would be prudent to depend so
much upon his luck, as to go with so little strength into the hands of
his enemies, seeing that all the people of the country had taken part
with them to oppose King Olaf. Such cares he had often on his mind, and
he left his cause to God, praying that He would do what to Him seemed
best. These thoughts he turned over in his mind, and knew not what to
resolve upon; for he saw how evidently dangerous that was which his
inclination was most bent upon.


One night the king lay awake in his bed, thinking with great anxiety
about his determination, and at last, being tired of thinking, sleep
came over him towards morning; but his sleep was so light that he
thought he was awake, and could see all that was doing in the house.
Then he saw a great and superb man, in splendid clothes, standing by his
bed; and it came into the king's mind that this was King Olaf Trygvason
who had come to him. This man said to him, "Thou are very sick of
thinking about thy future resolutions; and it appears to me wonderful
that these thoughts should be so tumultuous in thy soul that thou
shouldst even think of laying down the kingly dignity which God hath
given thee, and of remaining here and accepting of a kingdom from
foreign and unknown kings. Go back rather to that kingdom which thou
hast received in heritage, and rule over it with the strength which God
hath given thee, and let not thy inferiors take it from thee. It is the
glory of a king to be victorious over his enemies, and it is a glorious
death to die in battle. Or art thou doubtful if thou hast right on thy
side in the strife with thine enemies? Thou must have no doubts, and
must not conceal the truth from thyself. Thou must go back to thy
country, and God will give open testimony that the kingdom is thine by
property." When the king awoke he thought he saw the man's shoulders
going out. From this time the king's courage rose, and he fixed firmly
his resolution to return to Norway; to which his inclination also
tended most, and which he also found was the desire of all his men. He
bethought himself also that the country being without a chief could be
easily attacked, from what he had heard, and that after he came himself
many would turn back towards him. When the king told his determination
to his people they all gave it their approbation joyfully.


It is related that once upon a time, while King Olaf was in Russia, it
happened that the son of an honest widow had a sore boil upon his neck,
of which the lad lay very ill; and as he could not swallow any food,
there was little hope of his life. The boy's mother went to Queen
Ingegerd, with whom she was acquainted, and showed her the lad. The
queen said she knew no remedy for it. "Go," said she, "to King Olaf, he
is the best physician here; and beg him to lay his hands on thy lad, and
bring him my words if he will not otherwise do it." She did as the queen
told her; and when she found the king she says to him that her son is
dangerously ill of a boil in his neck, and begs him to lay his hand on
the boil. The king tells her he is not a physician, and bids her go to
where there were physicians. She replies, that the queen had told her
to come to him; "and told me to add the request from her, that you would
would use the remedy you understood, and she said that thou art the best
physician here in the town." Then the king took the lad, laid his hands
upon his neck, and felt the boil for a long time, until the boy made
a very wry face. Then the king took a piece of bread, laid it in the
figure of the cross upon the palm of his hand, and put it into the boy's
mouth. He swallowed it down, and from that time all the soreness left
his neck, and in a few days he was quite well, to the great joy of his
mother and all his relations. Then first came Olaf into the repute of
having as much healing power in his hands as is ascribed to men who have
been gifted by nature with healing by the touch; and afterwards when his
miracles were universally acknowledged, this also was considered one of
his miracles.


It happened one Sunday that the king sat in his highseat at the dinner
table, and had fallen into such deep thought that he did not observe
how time went. In one hand he had a knife, and in the other a piece
of fir-wood from which he cut splinters from time to time. The
table-servant stood before him with a bowl in his hands; and seeing what
the king was about, and that he was involved in thought, he said, "It is
Monday, sire, to-morrow." The king looked at him when he heard this,
and then it came into his mind what he was doing on the Sunday. Then the
king ordered a lighted candle to be brought him, swept together all the
shavings he had made, set them on fire, and let them burn upon his
naked hand; showing thereby that he would hold fast by God's law and
commandment, and not trespass without punishment on what he knew to be


When King Olaf had resolved on his return home, he made known his
intention to King Jarisleif and Queen Ingegerd. They dissuaded him
from this expedition, and said he should receive as much power in their
dominions as he thought desirable; but begged him not to put himself
within the reach of his enemies with so few men as he had. Then King
Olaf told them of his dream; adding, that he believed it to be God's
will and providence that it should be so. Now when they found he was
determined on travelling to Norway, they offered him all the assistance
to his journey that he would accept from them. The king thanked them
in many fine words for their good will; and said that he accepted
from them, with no ordinary pleasure, what might be necessary for his


Immediately after Yule (A.D. 1080), King Olaf made himself ready; and
had about 200 of his men with him. King Jarisleif gave him all the
horses, and whatever else he required; and when he was ready he set off.
King Jarisleif and Queen Ingegerd parted from him with all honour;
and he left his son Magnus behind with the king. The first part of his
journey, down to the sea-coast, King Olaf and his men made on the
ice; but as spring approached, and the ice broke up, they rigged their
vessels, and when they were ready and got a wind they set out to sea,
and had a good voyage. When Olaf came to the island of Gotland with
his ships he heard the news--which was told as truth, both in Svithjod,
Denmark, and over all Norway--that Earl Hakon was missing, and Norway
without a head. This gave the king and his men good hope of the issue
of their journey. From thence they sailed, when the wind suited, to
Svithjod, and went into the Maelar lake, to Aros, and sent men to
the Swedish King Onund appointing a meeting. King Onund received
his brother-in-law's message in the kindest manner, and went to him
according to his invitation. Astrid also came to King Olaf, with the
men who had attended her; and great was the joy on all sides at this
meeting. The Swedish king also received his brother-in-law King Olaf
with great joy when they met.


Now we must relate what, in the meantime, was going on in Norway. Thorer
Hund, in these two winters (A.D. 1029-1030), had made a Lapland journey,
and each winter had been a long time on the mountains, and had gathered
to himself great wealth by trading in various wares with the Laplanders.
He had twelve large coats of reindeer-skin made for him, with so much
Lapland witchcraft that no weapon could cut or pierce them any more than
if they were armour of ring-mail, nor so much. The spring thereafter
Thorer rigged a long-ship which belonged to him, and manned it with his
house-servants. He summoned the bondes, demanded a levy from the most
northern Thing district, collected in this way a great many people,
and proceeded with this force southwards. Harek of Thjotta had also
collected a great number of people; and in this expedition many
people of consequence took a part, although these two were the most
distinguished. They made it known publicly that with this war-force they
were going against King Olaf, to defend the country against him, in case
he should come from the eastward.


Einar Tambaskelfer had most influence in the outer part of the
Throndhjem country after Earl Hakon's death was no longer doubtful; for
he and his son Eindride appeared to be the nearest heirs to the movable
property the earl had possessed. Then Einar remembered the promises and
offers of friendship which King Canute had made him at parting; and
he ordered a good vessel which belonged to him to be got ready, and
embarked with a great retinue, and when he was ready sailed southwards
along the coast, then set out to sea westwards, and sailed without
stopping until he came to England. He immediately waited on King Canute,
who received him well and joyfully. Then Einar opened his business
to the king, and said he was come there to see the fulfillment of the
promises the king had made him; namely, that he, Einar, should have
the highest title of honour in Norway if Earl Hakon were no more. King
Canute replies, that now the circumstances were altered. "I have now,"
said he, "sent men and tokens to my son Svein in Denmark, and promised
him the kingdom of Norway; but thou shalt retain my friendship, and get
the dignity and title which thou art entitled by birth to hold. Thou
shalt be lenderman with great fiefs, and be so much more raised above
other lendermen as thou art more able than they." Einar saw sufficiently
how matters stood with regard to his business, and got ready to return
home; but as he now knew the king's intentions, and thought it probable
if King Olaf came from the East the country would not be very peaceable,
it came into his mind that it would be better to proceed slowly, and not
to be hastening his voyage, in order to fight against King Olaf, without
his being advanced by it to any higher dignity than he had before. Einar
accordingly went to sea when he was ready; but only came to Norway after
the events were ended which took place there during that summer.


The chiefs in Norway had their spies east in Svithjod, and south in
Denmark, to find out if King Olaf had come from Russia. As soon as these
men could get across the country, they heard the news that King Olaf was
arrived in Svithjod; and as soon as full certainty of this was obtained,
the war message-token went round the land. The whole people were called
out to a levy, and a great army was collected. The lendermen who were
from Agder, Rogaland, and Hordaland, divided themselves, so that some
went towards the north, and some towards the east; for they thought they
required people on both sides. Erling's sons from Jadar went eastward,
with all the men who lived east of them, and over whom they were chiefs;
Aslak of Finey, and Erlend of Gerde, with the lendermen north of them,
went towards the north. All those now named had sworn an oath to King
Canute to deprive Olaf of life, if opportunity should offer.


Now when it was reported in Norway that King Olaf was come from the East
to Svithjod, his friends gathered together to give him aid. The most
distinguished man in this flock was Harald Sigurdson, a brother of King
Olaf, who then was fifteen years of age, very stout, and manly of growth
as if he were full-grown. Many other brave men were there also; and
there were in all 600 men when they proceeded from the uplands, and went
eastward with their force through Eid forest to Vermaland. From thence
they went eastward through the forests to Svithjod and made inquiry
about King Olaf's proceedings.


King Olaf was in Svithjod in spring (A.D. 1030), and had sent spies from
thence to Norway. All accounts from that quarter agreed that there was
no safety for him if he went there, and the people who came from the
north dissuaded him much from penetrating into the country. But he had
firmly resolved within himself, as before stated, to go into Norway; and
he asked King Onund what strength King Onund would give him to conquer
his kingdom. King Onund replied, that the Swedes were little inclined
to make an expedition against Norway. "We know," says he, "that the
Northmen are rough and warlike, and it is dangerous to carry hostility
to their doors, but I will not be slow in telling thee what aid I can
give. I will give thee 400 chosen men from my court-men, active and
warlike, and well equipt for battle; and moreover will give thee leave
to go through my country, and gather to thyself as many men as thou
canst get to follow thee." King Olaf accepted this offer, and got ready
for his march. Queen Astrid, and Ulfhild the king's daughter, remained
behind in Svithjod.


Just as King Olaf began his journey the men came to him whom the Swedish
king had given, in all 400 men, and the king took the road the Swedes
showed him. He advanced upwards in the country to the forests, and came
to a district called Jarnberaland. Here the people joined him who had
come out of Norway to meet him, as before related; and he met here his
brother Harald, and many other of his relations, and it was a joyful
meeting. They made out together 1200 men.


There was a man called Dag, who is said to have been a son of King
Hring, who fled the country from King Olaf. This Hring, it is said
further, had been a son of Dag, and grandson of Hring, Harald Harfager's
son. Thus was Dag King Olaf's relative. Both Hring the father, and Dag
the son, had settled themselves in Svithjod, and got land to rule over.
In spring, when Olaf came from the East to Svithjod, he sent a message
to his relation Dag, that he should join him in this expedition with
all the force he could collect; and if they gained the country of Norway
again, Dag should have no smaller part of the kingdom under him than
his forefathers had enjoyed. When this message came to Dag it suited his
inclination well, for he had a great desire to go to Norway and get
the dominion his family had ruled over. He was not slow, therefore, to
reply, and promised to come. Dag was a quick-speaking, quick-resolving
man, mixing himself up in everything; eager, but of little
understanding. He collected a force of almost 1200 men, with which he
joined King Olaf.


King Olaf sent a message before him to all the inhabited places he
passed through, that the men who wished to get goods and money, and
share of booty, and the lands besides which now were in the hands of his
enemies, should come to him, and follow him. Thereafter King Olaf led
his army through forests, often over desert moors, and often over large
lakes; and they dragged, or carried the boats, from lake to lake. On
the way a great many followers joined the king, partly forest settlers,
partly vagabonds. The places at which he halted for the night are since
called Olaf's Booths. He proceeded without any break upon his journey
until he came to Jamtaland, from which he marched north over the keel
or ridge of the land. The men spread themselves over the hamlets, and
proceeded, much scattered, so long as no enemy was expected; but always,
when so dispersed, the Northmen accompanied the king. Dag proceeded with
his men on another line of march, and the Swedes on a third with their


There were two men, the one called Gauka-Thorer, the other Afrafaste,
who were vagabonds and great robbers, and had a company of thirty men
such as themselves. These two men were larger and stronger than other
men, and they wanted neither courage nor impudence. These men heard
speak of the army that was crossing the country, and said among
themselves it would be a clever counsel to go to the king, follow him to
his country, and go with him into a regular battle, and try themselves
in this work; for they had never been in any battle in which people
were regularly drawn up in line, and they were curious to see the king's
order of battle. This counsel was approved of by their comrades, and
accordingly they went to the road on which King Olaf was to pass.
When they came there they presented themselves to the king, with their
followers, fully armed. They saluted him, and he asked what people they
were. They told their names, and said they were natives of the place;
and told their errand, and that they wished to go with the king. The
king said, it appeared to him there was good help in such folks. "And I
have a great inclination," said he, "to take such; but are ye Christian

Gauka-Thorer replies, that he is neither Christian nor heathen. "I and
my comrades have no faith but on ourselves, our strength, and the luck
of victory; and with this faith we slip through sufficiently well."

The king replies, "A great pity it is that such brave slaughtering
fellows did not believe in Christ their Creator."

Thorer replies, "Is there any Christian man, king, in thy following, who
stands so high in the air as we two brothers?"

The king told them to let themselves be baptized, and to accept the true
faith. "Follow me then, and I will advance you to great dignities; but
if ye will not do so, return to your former vocation."

Afrafaste said he would not take on Christianity, and he turned away.

Then said Gauka-Thorer, "It is a great shame that the king drives
us thus away from his army, and I never before came where I was not
received into the company of other people, and I shall never return
back on this account." They joined accordingly the rear with other
forest-men, and followed the troops. Thereafter the king proceeded west
up to the keel-ridge of the country.


Now when King Olaf, coming from the east, went over the keel-ridge and
descended on the west side of the mountain, where it declines towards
the sea, he could see from thence far over the country. Many people rode
before the king and many after, and he himself rode so that there was a
free space around him. He was silent, and nobody spoke to him, and thus
he rode a great part of the day without looking much about him. Then the
bishop rode up to him, asked him why he was so silent, and what he was
thinking of; for, in general, he was very cheerful, and very talkative
on a journey to his men, so that all who were near him were merry. The
king replied, full of thought, "Wonderful things have come into my mind
a while ago. As I just now looked over Norway, out to the west from the
mountains, it came into my mind how many happy days I have had in that
land. It appeared to me at first as if I saw over all the Throndhjem
country, and then over all Norway; and the longer this vision was before
my eyes the farther, methought, I saw, until I looked over the whole
wide world, both land and sea. Well I know the places at which I have
been in former days; some even which I have only heard speak of, and
some I saw of which I had never heard, both inhabited and uninhabited,
in this wide world." The bishop replied that this was a holy vision, and
very remarkable.


When the king had come lower down on the mountain, there lay a farm
before him called Sula, on the highest part of Veradal district; and as
they came nearer to the house the corn-land appeared on both sides of
the path. The king told his people to proceed carefully, and not destroy
the corn to the bondes. The people observed this when the king was near;
but the crowd behind paid no attention to it, and the people ran over
the corn, so that it was trodden flat to the earth. There dwelt a bonde
there called Thorgeir Flek, who had two sons nearly grown up. Thorgeir
received the king and his people well, and offered all the assistance in
his power. The king was pleased with his offer, and asked Thorgeir what
was the news of the country, and if any forces were assembled against
him. Thorgeir says that a great army was drawn together in the
Throndhjem country, and that there were some lendermen both from the
south of the country, and from Halogaland in the north; "but I do not
know," says he. "if they are intended against you, or going elsewhere."
Then he complained to the king of the damage and waste done him by the
people breaking and treading down all his corn fields. The king said it
was ill done to bring upon him any loss. Then the king rode to where the
corn had stood, and saw it was laid flat on the earth; and he rode round
the field, and said, "I expect, bonde, that God will repair thy loss, so
that the field, within a week, will be better;" and it proved the best
of the corn, as the king had said. The king remained all night there,
and in the morning he made himself ready, and told Thorgeir the bonde
to accompany him and Thorgear offered his two sons also for the journey;
and although the king said that he did not want them with him, the lads
would go. As they would not stay behind, the king's court-men were about
binding them; but the king seeing it said, "Let them come with us; the
lads will come safe back again." And it was with the lads as the king


Thereafter the army advanced to Staf, and when the king reached Staf's
moor he halted. There he got the certain information that the bondes
were advancing with an army against him, and that he might soon expect
to have a battle with them. He mustered his force here, and, after
reckoning them up, found there were in the army 900 heathen men, and
when he came to know it he ordered them to allow themselves to be
baptized, saying that he would have no heathens with him in battle. "We
must not," says he, "put our confidence in numbers, but in God alone
must we trust; for through his power and favour we must be victorious,
and I will not mix heathen people with my own." When the heathens heard
this, they held a council among themselves, and at last 400 men agreed
to be baptized; but 500 men refused to adopt Christianity, and that
body returned home to their land. Then the brothers Gauka-Thorer and
Afrafaste presented themselves to the king, and offered again to follow
him. The king asked if they had now taken baptism. Gauka-Thorer replied
that they had not. Then the king ordered them to accept baptism and the
true faith, or otherwise to go away. They stepped aside to talk with
each other on what resolution they should take. Afrafaste said, "To give
my opinion, I will not turn back, but go into the battle, and take a
part on the one side or the other; and I don't care much in which army
I am." Gauka-Thorer replies, "If I go into battle I will give my help to
the king, for he has most need of help. And if I must believe in a
God, why not in the white Christ as well as in any other? Now it is my
advice, therefore, that we let ourselves be baptized, since the king
insists so much upon it, and then go into the battle with him." They
all agreed to this, and went to the king, and said they would receive
baptism. Then they were baptized by a priest, and the baptism was
confirmed by the bishop. The king then took them into the troop of his
court-men, and said they should fight under his banner in the battle.


King Olaf got certain intelligence now that it would be but a short time
until he had a battle with the bondes; and after he had mustered his
men, and reckoned up the force, he had more than 3000 men, which appears
to be a great army in one field. Then the king made the following speech
to the people: "We have a great army, and excellent troops; and now I
will tell you, my men, how I will have our force drawn up. I will let
my banner go forward in the middle of the army, and my-court-men, and
pursuivants shall follow it, together with the war forces that joined
us from the Uplands, and also those who may come to us here in the
Throndhjem land. On the right hand of my banner shall be Dag Hringson,
with all the men he brought to our aid; and he shall have the second
banner. And on the left hand of our line shall the men be whom the
Swedish king gave us, together with all the people who came to us in
Sweden; and they shall have the third banner. I will also have the
people divide themselves into distinct flocks or parcels, so that
relations and acquaintances should be together; for thus they defend
each other best, and know each other. We will have all our men
distinguished by a mark, so as to be a field-token upon their helmets
and shields, by painting the holy cross thereupon with white colour.
When we come into battle we shall all have one countersign and
field-cry,--'Forward, forward, Christian men! cross men! king's men!'
We must draw up our meal in thinner ranks, because we have fewer people,
and I do not wish to let them surround us with their men. Now let the
men divide themselves into separate flocks, and then each flock into
ranks; then let each man observe well his proper place, and take notice
what banner he is drawn up under. And now we shall remain drawn up in
array; and our men shall be fully armed, night and day, until we know
where the meeting shall be between us and the bondes." When the king had
finished speaking, the army arrayed, and arranged itself according to
the king's orders.


Thereafter the king had a meeting with the chiefs of the different
divisions, and then the men had returned whom the king had sent out into
the neighbouring districts to demand men from the bondes. They brought
the tidings from the inhabited places they had gone through, that all
around the country was stripped of all men able to carry arms, as all
the people had joined the bondes' army; and where they did find any
they got but few to follow them, for the most of them answered that they
stayed at home because they would not follow either party: they would
not go out against the king, nor yet against their own relations. Thus
they had got but few people. Now the king asked his men their counsel,
and what they now should do. Fin Arnason answered thus to the king's
question: "I will say what should be done, if I may advise. We should
go with armed hand over all the inhabited places, plunder all the goods,
and burn all the habitations, and leave not a hut standing, and thus
punish the bondes for their treason against their sovereign. I think
many a man will then cast himself loose from the bondes' army, when he
sees smoke and flame at home on his farm, and does not know how it is
going with children, wives, or old men, fathers, mothers, and other
connections. I expect also," he added, "that if we succeed in breaking
the assembled host, their ranks will soon be thinned; for so it is with
the bondes, that the counsel which is the newest is always the dearest
to them all, and most followed." When Fin had ended his speech it met
with general applause; for many thought well of such a good occasion to
make booty, and all thought the bondes well deserved to suffer damage;
and they also thought it probable, what Fin said, that many would in
this way be brought to forsake the assembled army of the bondes.

Now when the king heard the warm expressions of his people he told
them to listen to him, and said, "The bondes have well deserved that it
should be done to them as ye desire. They also know that I have formerly
done so, burning their habitations, and punishing them severely in many
ways; but then I proceeded against them with fire and sword because they
rejected the true faith, betook themselves to sacrifices, and would not
obey my commands. We had then God's honour to defend. But this treason
against their sovereign is a much less grievous crime, although it does
not become men who have any manhood in them to break the faith and vows
they have sworn to me. Now, however, it is more in my power to spare
those who have dealt ill with me, than those whom God hated. I will,
therefore, that my people proceed gently, and commit no ravage. First,
I will proceed to meet the bondes; if we can then come to a
reconciliation, it is well; but if they will fight with us, then there
are two things before us; either we fail in the battle, and then it will
be well advised not to have to retire encumbered with spoil and cattle;
or we gain the victory, and then ye will be the heirs of all who fight
now against us; for some will fall, and others will fly, but both will
have forfeited their goods and properties, and then it will be good to
enter into full houses and well-stocked farms; but what is burnt is of
use to no man, and with pillage and force more is wasted than what turns
to use. Now we will spread out far through the inhabited places, and
take with us all the men we can find able to carry arms. Then men will
also capture cattle for slaughter, or whatever else of provision
that can serve for food; but not do any other ravage. But I will see
willingly that ye kill any spies of the bonde army ye may fall in with.
Dag and his people shall go by the north side down along the valley,
and I will go on along the country road, and so we shall meet in the
evening, and all have one night quarter."


It is related that when King Olaf drew up his men in battle order, he
made a shield rampart with his troop that should defend him in battle,
for which he selected the strongest and boldest. Thereafter he called
his skalds, and ordered them to go in within the shield defence. "Ye
shall." says the king, "remain here, and see the circumstances which may
take place, and then ye will not have to follow the reports of others
in what ye afterwards tell or sing concerning it." There were Thormod
Kolbrunarskald, Gissur Gulbraskald, a foster-son of Hofgardaref, and
Thorfin Mun. Then said Thormod to Gissur, "Let us not stand so close
together, brother, that Sigvat the skald should not find room when he
comes. He must stand before the king, and the king will not have it
otherwise." The king heard this, and said, "Ye need not sneer at Sigvat,
because he is not here. Often has he followed me well, and now he is
praying for us, and that we greatly need." Thormod replies, "It may be,
sire, that ye now require prayers most; but it would be thin around the
banner-staff if all thy court-men were now on the way to Rome. True it
was what we spoke about, that no man who would speak with you could find
room for Sigvat."

Thereafter the skalds talked among themselves that it would be well to
compose a few songs of remembrance about the events which would soon be
taking place.

Then Gissur sang:--

     "From me shall bende girl never hear
     A thought of sorrow, care, or fear:
     I wish my girl knew how gay
     We arm us for our viking fray.
     Many and brave they are, we know,
     Who come against us there below;
     But, life or death, we, one and all,
     By Norway's king will stand or fall."

And Thorfin Mun made another song, viz.:--

     "Dark is the cloud of men and shields,
     Slow moving up through Verdal's fields:
     These Verdal folks presume to bring
     Their armed force against their king.
     On!  let us feed the carrion crow,--
     Give her a feast in every blow;
     And, above all, let Throndhjem's hordes
     Feel the sharp edge of true men's swords."

And Thorrood sang:--

     "The whistling arrows pipe to battle,
     Sword and shield their war-call rattle.
     Up!  brave men, up!  the faint heart here
     Finds courage when the danger's near.
     Up!  brave men, up!  with Olaf on!
     With heart and hand a field is won.
     One viking cheer!--then, stead of words,
     We'll speak with our death-dealing swords."

These songs were immediately got by heart by the army.


Thereafter the king made himself ready, and marched down through the
valley. His whole forces took up their night-quarter in one place, and
lay down all night under their shields; but as soon as day broke the
king again put his army in order, and that being done they proceeded
down through the valley. Many bondes then came to the king, of whom the
most joined his army; and all, as one man, told the same tale,--that the
lendermen had collected an enormous army, with which they intended to
give battle to the king.

The king took many marks of silver, and delivered them into the hands
of a bonde, and said, "This money thou shalt conceal, and afterwards lay
out, some to churches, some to priests, some to alms-men,--as gifts
for the life and souls of those who fight against us, and may fall in

The bonde replies, "Should you not rather give this money for the
soul-mulct of your own men?"

The king says, "This money shall be given for the souls of those who
stand against us in the ranks of the bondes' army, and fall by the
weapons of our own men. The men who follow us to battle, and fall
therein, will all be saved together with ourself."


This night the king lay with his army around him on the field, as before
related, and lay long awake in prayer to God, and slept but little.
Towards morning a slumber fell on him, and when he awoke daylight was
shooting up. The king thought it too early to awaken the army, and asked
where Thormod the skald was. Thormod was at hand, and asked what was the
king's pleasure. "Sing us a song," said the king. Thormod raised himself
up, and sang so loud that the whole army could hear him. He began to
sing the old "Bjarkamal", of which these are the first verses:--

     "The day is breaking,--
     The house cock, shaking
     His rustling wings,
     While priest-bell rings,
     Crows up the morn,
     And touting horn
     Wakes thralls to work and weep;
     Ye sons of Adil, cast off sleep,
     Wake up!  wake up!
     Nor wassail cup,
     Nor maiden's jeer,
     Awaits you here.
     Hrolf of the bow!
     Har of the blow!
     Up in your might!  the day is breaking;
     'Tis Hild's game (1) that bides your waking."

Then the troops awoke, and when the song was ended the people thanked
him for it; and it pleased many, as it was suitable to the time and
occasion, and they called it the house-carle's whet. The king thanked
him for the pleasure, and took a gold ring that weighed half a mark and
gave it him. Thormod thanked the king for the gift, and said, "We have a
good king; but it is not easy to say how long the king's life may be. It
is my prayer, sire, that thou shouldst never part from me either in
life or death." The king replies, "We shall all go together so long as I
rule, and as ye will follow me."

Thormod says, "I hope, sire, that whether in safety or danger I may
stand near you as long as I can stand, whatever we may hear of Sigvat
travelling with his gold-hilted sword." Then Thormod made these lines:--

     "To thee, my king, I'll still be true,
     Until another skald I view,
     Here in the field with golden sword,
     As in thy hall, with flattering word.
     Thy skald shall never be a craven,
     Though he may feast the croaking raven,
     The warrior's fate unmoved I view,--
     To thee, my king, I'll still be true."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Hild's game is the battle, from the name of the
war-goddess     Hild.--L.


King Olaf led his army farther down through the valley, and Dag and
his men went another way, and the king did not halt until he came to
Stiklestad. There he saw the bonde army spread out all around; and there
were so great numbers that people were going on every footpath, and
great crowds were collected far and near. They also saw there a troop
which came down from Veradal, and had been out to spy. They came so
close to the king's people that they knew each other. It was Hrut of
Viggia, with thirty men. The king ordered his pursuivants to go out
against Hrut, and make an end of him, to which his men were instantly
ready. The king said to the Icelanders, "It is told me that in Iceland
it is the custom that the bondes give their house-servants a sheep to
slaughter; now I give you a ram to slaughter." (1) The Icelanders were
easily invited to this, and went out immediately with a few men against
Hrut, and killed him and the troop that followed him. When the king
came to Stiklestad he made a halt, and made the army stop, and told his
people to alight from their horses and get ready for battle; and the
people did as the king ordered. Then he placed his army in battle array,
and raised his banner. Dag was not yet arrived with his men, so that his
wing of the battle array was wanting. Then the king said the Upland
men should go forward in their place, and raise their banner there. "It
appears to me advisable," says the king, "that Harald my brother should
not be in the battle, for he is still in the years of childhood only."
Harald replies, "Certainly I shall be in the battle, for I am not so
weak that I cannot handle the sword; and as to that, I have a notion
of tying the sword-handle to my hand. None is more willing than I am to
give the bondes a blow; so I shall go with my comrades." It is said that
Harald made these lines:--

     "Our army's wing, where I shall stand,
     I will hold good with heart and hand;
     My mother's eye shall joy to see
     A battered, blood-stained shield from me.
     The brisk young skald should gaily go
     Into the fray, give blow for blow,
     Cheer on his men, gain inch by inch,
     And from the spear-point never flinch."

Harald got his will, and was allowed to be in the battle.

   ENDNOTES: (1) Hrut means a young ram.--L.


A bonde, by name Thorgils Halmason, father to Grim the Good, dwelt in
Stiklestad farm. Thorgils offered the king his assistance, and was ready
to go into battle with him. The king thanked him for the offer. "I would
rather," says the king, "thou shouldst not be in the fight. Do us rather
the service to take care of the people who are wounded, and to bury
those who may fall, when the battle is over. Should it happen, bonde,
that I fall in this battle, bestow the care on my body that may be
necessary, if that be not forbidden thee." Thorgils promised the king
what he desired.


Now when King Olaf had drawn up his army in battle array he made a
speech, in which he told the people to raise their spirit, and go boldly
forward, if it came to a battle. "We have," says he, "many men, and
good; and although the bondes may have a somewhat larger force than
we, it is fate that rules over victory. This I will make known to you
solemnly, that I shall not fly from this battle, but shall either be
victorious over the bondes, or fall in the fight. I will pray to
God that the lot of the two may befall me which will be most to my
advantage. With this we may encourage ourselves, that we have a more
just cause than the bondes; and likewise that God must either protect
us and our cause in this battle, or give us a far higher recompense for
what we may lose here in the world than what we ourselves could ask.
Should it be my lot to have anything to say after the battle, then shall
I reward each of you according to his service, and to the bravery he
displays in the battle; and if we gain the victory, there must be land
and movables enough to divide among you, and which are now in the hands
of your enemies. Let us at the first make the hardest onset, for then
the consequences are soon seen. There being a great difference in the
numbers, we have to expect victory from a sharp assault only; and,
on the other hand, it will be heavy work for us to fight until we are
tired, and unable to fight longer; for we have fewer people to relieve
with than they, who can come forward at one time and retreat and rest
at another. But if we advance so hard at the first attack that those who
are foremost in their ranks must turn round, then the one will fall over
the other, and their destruction will be the greater the greater numbers
there are together." When the king had ended his speech it was received
with loud applause, and the one encouraged the other.


Thord Folason carried King Olaf's banner. So says Sigvat the skald,
in the death-song which he composed about King Olaf, and put together
according to resurrection saga:--

     "Thord. I have heard, by Olaf's side,
     Where raged the battle's wildest tide,
     Moved on, and, as by one accord
     Moved with them every heart and sword.
     The banner of the king on high,
     Floating all splendid in the sky
     From golden shaft, aloft he bore,--
     The Norsemen's rallying-point of yore."


King Olaf was armed thus:--He had a gold-mounted helmet on his head; and
had in one hand a white shield, on which the holy cross was inlaid in
gold. In his other hand he had a lance, which to the present day stands
beside the altar in Christ Church. In his belt he had a sword, which was
called Hneiter, which was remarkably sharp, and of which the handle was
worked with gold. He had also a strong coat of ring-mail. Sigvat the
skald, speaks of this:--

     "A greater victory to gain,
     Olaf the Stout strode o'er the plain
     In strong chain armour, aid to bring
     To his brave men on either wing.
     High rose the fight and battle-heat,--
     the clear blood ran beneath the feet
     Of Swedes, who from the East came there,
     In Olaf's gain or loss to share."


Now when King Olaf had drawn up his men the army of the bondes had not
yet come near upon any quarter, so the king said the people should sit
down and rest themselves. He sat down himself, and the people sat around
him in a widespread crowd. He leaned down, and laid his head upon Fin
Arnason's knee. There a slumber came upon him, and he slept a little
while; but at the same time the bondes' army was seen advancing with
raised banners, and the multitude of these was very great.

Then Fin awakened the king, and said that the bonde-army advanced
against them.

The king awoke, and said, "Why did you waken me, Fin, and did not allow
me to enjoy my dream?"

Fin: "Thou must not be dreaming; but rather thou shouldst be awake, and
preparing thyself against the host which is coming down upon us; or,
dost thou not see that the whole bonde-crowd is coming?"

The king replies, "They are not yet so near to us, and it would have
been better to have let me sleep."

Then said Fin, "What was the dream, sire, of which the loss appears
to thee so great that thou wouldst rather have been left to waken of

Now the king told his dream,--that he seemed to see a high ladder,
upon which he went so high in the air that heaven was open: for so high
reached the ladder. "And when you awoke me, I was come to the highest
step towards heaven."

Fin replies, "This dream does not appear to me so good as it does to
thee. I think it means that thou art fey (1); unless it be the mere want
of sleep that has worked upon thee."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Fey means doomed to die.


When King Olaf was arrived at Stiklestad, it happened, among other
circumstances, that a man came to him; and although it was nowise
wonderful that there came many men from the districts, yet this must be
regarded as unusual, that this man did not appear like the other men
who came to him. He was so tall that none stood higher than up to his
shoulders: very handsome he was in countenance, and had beautiful fair
hair. He was well armed; had a fine helmet, and ring armour; a red
shield; a superb sword in his belt; and in his hand a gold-mounted
spear, the shaft of it so thick that it was a handful to grasp. The man
went before the king, saluted him, and asked if the king would accept
his services.

The king asked his name and family, also what countryman he was.

He replies, "My family is in Jamtaland and Helsingjaland, and my name is
Arnljot Gelline; but this I must not forget to tell you, that I came to
the assistance of those men you sent to Jamtaland to collect scat, and I
gave into their hands a silver dish, which I sent you as a token that I
would be your friend."

Then the king asked Arnljot if he was a Christian or not. He replied,
"My faith has been this, to rely upon my power and strength, and which
faith hath hitherto given me satisfaction; but now I intend rather to
put my faith, sire, in thee."

The king replies, "If thou wilt put faith in me thou must also put faith
in what I will teach thee. Thou must believe that Jesus Christ has made
heaven and earth, and all mankind, and to him shall all those who are
good and rightly believing go after death."

Arnljot answers, "I have indeed heard of the white Christ, but neither
know what he proposes, nor what he rules over; but now I will believe
all that thou sayest to me, and lay down my lot in your hands."

Thereupon Arnljot was baptized. The king taught him so much of the holy
faith as appeared to him needful, and placed him in the front rank of
the order of battle, in advance of his banner, where also Gauka-Thorer
and Afrafaste, with their men, were.


Now shall we relate what we have left behind in our tale,--that the
lendermen and bondes had collected a vast host as soon as it was
reported that King Olaf was come from Russia, and had arrived in
Svithjod; but when they heard that he had come to Jamtaland, and
intended to proceed westwards over the keel-ridge to Veradal, they
brought their forces into the Throndhjem country, where they gathered
together the whole people, free and unfree, and proceeded towards
Veradal with so great a body of men that there was nobody in Norway at
that time who had seen so large a force assembled. But the force, as
it usually happens in so great a multitude, consisted of many different
sorts of people. There were many lendermen, and a great many powerful
bondes; but the great mass consisted of labourers and cottars. The chief
strength of this army lay in the Throndhjem land, and it was the most
warm in enmity and opposition to the king.


When King Canute had, as before related, laid all Norway under his
power, he set Earl Hakon to manage it, and gave the earl a court-bishop,
by name Sigurd, who was of Danish descent, and had been long with
King Canute. This bishop was of a very hot temper, and particularly
obstinate, and haughty in his speech; but supported King Canute all he
could in conversation, and was a great enemy of King Olaf. He was now
also in the bondes' army, spoke often before the people, and urged them
much to insurrection against King Olaf.


At a House-thing, at which a great many people were assembled, the
bishop desired to be heard, and made the following speech: "Here are
now assembled a great many men, so that probably there will never be
opportunity in this poor country of seeing so great a native army;
but it would be desirable if this strength and multitude could be a
protection; for it will all be needed, if this Olaf does not give over
bringing war and strife upon you. From his very earliest youth he has
been accustomed to plunder and kill: for which purposes he drove widely
around through all countries, until he turned at last against this,
where he began to show hostilities against the men who were the best and
most powerful; and even against King Canute, whom all are bound to serve
according to their ability, and in whose scat-lands he set himself down.
He did the same to Olaf the Swedish king. He drove the earls Svein and
Hakon away from their heritages; and was even most tyrannical towards
his own connections, as he drove all the kings out of the Uplands:
although, indeed, it was but just reward for having been false to their
oaths of fealty to King Canute, and having followed this King Olaf in
all the folly he could invent; so their friendship ended according
to their deserts, by this king mutilating some of them, taking their
kingdoms himself, and ruining every man in the country who had an
honourable name. Ye know yourselves how he has treated the lendermen, of
whom many of the worthlest have been murdered, and many obliged to fly
from their country; and how he has roamed far and wide through the land
with robber-bands, burning and plundering houses, and killing people.
Who is the man among us here of any consideration who has not some great
injury from him to avenge? Now he has come hither with a foreign troop,
consisting mostly of forest-men, vagabonds, and such marauders. Do ye
think he will now be more merciful to you, when he is roaming about with
such a bad crew, after committing devastations which all who followed
him dissuaded him from? Therefore it is now my advice, that ye remember
King Canute's words when he told you, if King Olaf attempted to return
to the country ye should defend the liberty King Canute had promised
you, and should oppose and drive away such a vile pack. Now the only
thing to be done is to advance against them, and cast forth these
malefactors to the wolves and eagles, leaving their corpses on the spot
they cover, unless ye drag them aside to out-of-the-way corners in
the woods or rocks. No man would be so imprudent as to remove them to
churches, for they are all robbers and evil-doers." When he had ended
his speech it was hailed with the loudest applause, and all unanimously
agreed to act according to his recommendation.


The lendermen who had come together appointed meetings with each other,
and consulted together how they should draw up their troops, and who
should be their leader. Kalf Arnason said that Harek of Thjotta was best
fitted to be the chief of this army, for he was descended from Harald
Harfager's race. "The king also is particularly enraged against him on
account of the murder of Grankel, and therefore he would be exposed to
the severest fate if Olaf recovered the kingdom; and Harek withal is a
man experienced in battles, and a man who does much for honour alone."

Harek replies, that the men are best suited for this who are in the
flower of their age. "I am now," says he, "an old and decaying man, not
able to do much in battle: besides, there is near relationship between
me and King Olaf; and although he seems not to put great value upon that
tie, it would not beseem me to go as leader of the hostilities against
him, before any other in this meeting. On the other hand, thou, Thorer,
art well suited to be our chief in this battle against King Olaf; and
thou hast distinct grounds for being so, both because thou hast to
avenge the death of thy relation, and also hast been driven by him as an
outlaw from thy property. Thou hast also promised King Canute, as well
as thy connections, to avenge the murder of thy relative Asbjorn; and
dost thou suppose there ever will be a better opportunity than this of
taking vengeance on Olaf for all these insults and injuries?"

Thorer replies thus to his speech: "I do not confide in myself so much
as to raise the banner against King Olaf, or, as chief, to lead on
this army; for the people of Throndhjem have the greatest part in this
armament, and I know well their haughty spirit, and that they would not
obey me, or any other Halogaland man, although I need not be reminded of
my injuries to be roused to vengeance on King Olaf. I remember well my
heavy loss when King Olaf slew four men, all distinguished both by birth
and personal qualities; namely, my brother's son Asbjorn, my sister's
sons Thorer and Grjotgard, and their father Olver; and it is my duty
to take vengeance for each man of them. I will not conceal that I have
selected eleven of my house-servants for that purpose, and of those who
are the most daring; and I do not think we shall be behind others in
exchanging blows with King Olaf, should opportunity be given."


Then Kalf Arnason desired to speak. "It is highly necessary," says
he, "that this business we have on hand do not turn out a mockery and
child-work, now that an army is collected. Something else is needful, if
we are to stand battle with King Olaf, than that each should shove the
danger from himself; for we must recollect that although King Olaf has
not many people compared to this army of ours, the leader of them is
intrepid, and the whole body of them will be true to him, and obedient
in the battle. But if we who should be the leaders of this army show any
fear, and will not encourage the army and go at the head of it, it must
happen that with the great body of our people the spirit will leave
their hearts, and the next thing will be that each will seek his own
safety. Although we have now a great force assembled, we shall find our
destruction certain, when we meet King Olaf and his troops, if we, the
chiefs of the people, are not confident in our cause, and have not the
whole army confidently and bravely going along with us. If it cannot
be so, we had better not risk a battle; and then it is easy to see that
nothing would be left us but to shelter ourselves under King Olaf's
mercy, however hard it might be, as then we would be less guilty than we
now may appear to him to be. Yet I know there are men in his ranks who
would secure my life and peace if I would seek it. Will ye now adopt my
proposal--then shalt thou, friend Thorer, and thou, Harek, go under the
banner which we will all of us raise up, and then follow. Let us all be
speedy and determined in the resolution we have taken, and put ourselves
so at the head of the bondes' army that they see no distrust in us; for
then will the common man advance with spirit when we go merrily to work
in placing the army in battle-order, and in encouraging the people to
the strife."

When Kalf had ended they all concurred in what he proposed, and all
would do what Kalf thought of advantage. All desired Kalf to be the
leader of the army, and to give each what place in it he chose.


Kalf Arnason then raised his banner, and drew up his house-servants
along with Harek of Thjotta and his men. Thorer Hund, with his troop,
was at the head of the order of battle in front of the banner; and on
both sides of Thorer was a chosen body of bondes, all of them the most
active and best armed in the forces. This part of the array was long
and thick, and in it were drawn up the Throndhjem people and the
Halogalanders. On the right wing was another array; and on the left of
the main array were drawn up the men from Rogaland, Hordaland, the Fjord
districts, and Scgn, and they had the third banner.


There was a man called Thorstein Knarrarsmid, who was a merchant and
master ship-carpenter, stout and strong, very passionate, and a great
manslayer. He had been in enmity against King Olaf, who had taken from
him a new and large merchant-vessel he had built, on account of some
manslaughter-mulct, incurred in the course of his misdeeds, which he
owed to the king. Thorstein, who was with the bondes' army, went forward
in front of the line in which Thorer Hund stood, and said, "Here I will
be, Thorer, in your ranks; for I think, if I and King Olaf meet, to be
the first to strive a weapon at him, if I can get so near, to repay him
for the robbery of the ship he took from me, which was the best that
ever went on merchant voyage." Thorer and his men received Thorstein,
and he went into their ranks.


When the bondes' men and array were drawn up the lendermen addressed
the men, and ordered them to take notice of the place to which each man
belonged, under which banner each should be, who there were in front
of the banner, who were his side-men, and that they should be brisk and
quick in taking up their places in the array; for the army had still
to go a long way, and the array might be broken in the course of march.
Then they encouraged the people; and Kalf invited all the men who had
any injury to avenge on King Olaf to place themselves under the banner
which was advancing against King Olaf's own banner. They should remember
the distress he had brought upon them; and, he said, never was there a
better opportunity to avenge their grievances, and to free themselves
from the yoke and slavery he had imposed on them. "Let him," says he,
"be held a useless coward who does not fight this day boldly; and they
are not innocents who are opposed to you, but people who will not spare
you if ye spare them."

Kalf's speech was received with loud applause, and shouts of
encouragement were heard through the whole army.


Thereafter the bondes' army advanced to Stiklestad, where King Olaf was
already with his people. Kalf and Harek went in front, at the head of
the army under their banners. But the battle did not begin immediately
on their meeting; for the bondes delayed the assault, because all their
men were not come upon the plain, and they waited for those who came
after them. Thorer Hund had come up with his troop the last, for he had
to take care that the men did not go off behind when the battlecry was
raised, or the armies were closing with each other; and therefore Kalf
and Harek waited for Thorer. For the encouragement of their men in the
battle the bondes had the field-cry--"Forward, forward, bondemen!"
King Olaf also made no attack, for he waited for Dag and the people who
followed him. At last the king saw Dag and his men approaching. It is
said that the army of the bondes was not less on this day than a hundred
times a hundred men. Sigvat the skald speaks thus of the numbers:--

     "I grieve to think the king had brought
     Too small a force for what he sought:
     He held his gold too fast to bring
     The numbers that could make him king.
     The foemen, more than two to one,
     The victory by numbers won;
     And this alone, as I've heard say,
     Against King Olaf turned the day."


As the armies on both sides stood so near that people knew each other,
the king said, "Why art thou here, Kalf, for we parted good friends
south in More? It beseems thee ill to fight against us, or to throw a
spear into our army; for here are four of thy brothers."

Kalf replied, "Many things come to pass differently from what may appear
seemly. You parted from us so that it was necessary to seek peace with
those who were behind in the country. Now each must remain where he
stands; but if I might advise, we should be reconciled."

Then Fin, his brother, answered, "This is to be observed of Kalf, that
when he speaks fairly he has it in his mind to do ill."

The king answered, "It may be, Kalf, that thou art inclined to
reconciliation; but, methinks, the bondes do not appear so peaceful."

Then Thorgeir of Kviststad said, "You shall now have such peace as many
formerly have received at your hands, and which you shall now pay for."

The king replies, "Thou hast no occasion to hasten so much to meet us;
for fate has not decreed to thee to-day a victory over me, who raised
thee to power and dignity from a mean station."


Now came Thorer Hund, went forward in front of the banner with his
troop, and called out, "Forward, forward, bondemen!" Thereupon the
bondemen raised the war-cry, and shot their arrows and spears. The
king's men raised also a war-shout; and that done, encouraged each other
to advance, crying out, "Forward, forward, Christ-men! cross-men! king's
men!" When the bondes who stood outermost on the wings heard it, they
repeated the same cry; but when the other bondes heard them they thought
these were king's men, turned their arms against them, and they fought
together, and many were slain before they knew each other. The weather
was beautiful, and the sun shone clear; but when the battle began the
heaven and the sun became red, and before the battle ended it became as
dark as at night. King Olaf had drawn up his army upon a rising ground,
and it rushed down from thence upon the bonde-army with such a fierce
assault, that the bondes' array went before it; so that the breast of
the king's array came to stand upon the ground on which the rear of the
bondes' array had stood, and many of the bondes' army were on the way
to fly, but the lendermen and their house-men stood fast, and the battle
became very severe. So says Sigvat:--

     "Thundered the ground beneath their tread,
     As, iron-clad, thick-tramping, sped
     The men-at-arms, in row and rank,
     Past Stiklestad's sweet grassy bank.
     The clank of steel, the bowstrings' twang,
     The sounds of battle, loudly rang;
     And bowman hurried on advancing,
     Their bright helms in the sunshine glancing."

The lendermen urged their men, and forced them to advance. Sigvat speaks
of this:--

     "Midst in their line their banner flies,
     Thither the stoutest bonde hies:
     But many a bonde thinks of home,
     And many wish they ne'er had come."

Then the bonde-army pushed on from all quarters. They who stood in front
hewed down with their swords; they who stood next thrust with their
spears; and they who stood hindmost shot arrows, cast spears, or threw
stones, hand-axes, or sharp stakes. Soon there was a great fall of men
in the battle. Many were down on both sides. In the first onset fell
Arnljot Gelline, Gauka-Thorer, and Afrafaste, with all their men, after
each had killed a man or two, and some indeed more. Now the ranks in
front of the king's banner began to be thinned, and the king ordered
Thord to carry the banner forward, and the king himself followed it with
the troop he had chosen to stand nearest to him in battle; and these
were the best armed men in the field, and the most expert in the use of
their weapons. Sigvat the skald tells of this:--

     "Loud was the battle-storm there,
     Where the king's banner flamed in air.
     The king beneath his banner stands,
     And there the battle he commands."

Olaf came forth from behind the shield-bulwark, and put himself at the
head of the army; and when the bondes looked him in the face they were
frightened, and let their hands drop. So says Sigvat:--

     "I think I saw them shrink with fear
     Who would not shrink from foeman's spear,
     When Olaf's lion-eye was cast
     On them, and called up all the past.
     Clear as the serpent's eye--his look
     No Throndhjem man could stand, but shook
     Beneath its glance, and skulked away,
     Knowing his king, and cursed the day."

The combat became fierce, and the king went forward in the fray. So says

     "When on they came in fierce array,
     And round the king arose the fray,
     With shield on arm brave Olaf stood,
     Dyeing his sword in their best blood.
     For vengeance on his Throndhjem foes,
     On their best men he dealt his blows;
     He who knew well death's iron play,
     To his deep vengeance gave full sway."


King Olaf fought most desperately. He struck the lenderman before
mentioned (Thorgeir of Kviststad) across the face, cut off the
nose-piece of his helmet, and clove his head down below the eyes so
that they almost fell out. When he fell the king said, "Was it not true,
Thorgeir, what I told thee, that thou shouldst not be victor in our
meeting?" At the same instant Thord stuck the banner-pole so fast in the
earth that it remained standing. Thord had got his death-wound, and
fell beneath the banner. There also fell Thorfin Mun, and also Gissur
Gullbrarskald, who was attacked by two men, of whom he killed one, but
only wounded the other before he fell. So says Hofgardaref:--

     "Bold in the Iron-storm was he,
     Firm and stout as forest tree,
     The hero who, 'gainst two at once,
     Made Odin's fire from sword-edge glance;
     Dealing a death-blow to the one,
     Known as a brave and generous man,
     Wounding the other, ere he fell,--
     His bloody sword his deeds showed well."

It happened then, as before related, that the sun, although the air was
clear, withdrew from the sight, and it became dark. Of this Sigvat the
skald speaks:--

     "No common wonder in the sky
     Fell out that day--the sun on high,
     And not a cloud to see around,
     Shone not, nor warmed Norway's ground.
     The day on which fell out this fight
     Was marked by dismal dusky light,
     This from the East I heard--the end
     Of our great king it did portend."

At the same time Dag Hringson came up with his people, and began to
put his men in array, and to set up his banner; but on account of the
darkness the onset could not go on so briskly, for they could not see
exactly whom they had before them. They turned, however, to that
quarter where the men of Hordaland and Rogaland stood. Many of these
circumstances took place at the same time, and some happened a little
earlier, and some a little later.


On the one side of Kalf Arnason stood his two relations, Olaf and Kalf,
with many other brave and stout men. Kalf was a son of Arnfin Arnmodson,
and a brother's son of Arne Arnmodson. On the other side of Kalf Arnason
stood Thorer Hund. King Olaf hewed at Thorer Hund, and struck him across
the shoulders; but the sword would not cut, and it was as if dust flew
from his reindeer-skin coat. So says Sigvat:--

     "The king himself now proved the power
     Of Fin-folk's craft in magic hour,
     With magic song; for stroke of steel
     Thor's reindeer coat would never feel,
     Bewitched by them it turned the stroke
     Of the king's sword,--a dust-like smoke
     Rose from Thor's shoulders from the blow
     Which the king though would end his foe."

Thorer struck at the king, and they exchanged some blows; but the king's
sword would not cut where it met the reindeer skin, although Thorer was
wounded in the hands. Sigvat sang thus of it:--

     "Some say that Thorer's not right bold;
     Why never yet have I been told
     Of one who did a bolder thing
     Than to change blows with his true king.
     Against his king his sword to wield,
     Leaping across the shield on shield
     Which fenced the king round in the fight,
     Shows the dog's (1) courage--brave, not bright."

The king said to Bjorn the marshal, "Do thou kill the dog on whom steel
will not bite." Bjorn turned round the axe in his hands, and gave Thorer
a blow with the hammer of it on the shoulder so hard that he tottered.
The king at the same moment turned against Kalf and his relations, and
gave Olaf his death-wound. Thorer Hund struck his spear right through
the body of Marshal Bjorn, and killed him outright; and Thorer said, "It
is thus we hunt the bear." (2) Thorstein Knarrarsmid struck at King Olaf
with his axe, and the blow hit his left leg above the knee. Fin Arnason
instantly killed Thorstein. The king after the wound staggered towards
a stone, threw down his sword, and prayed God to help him. Then Thorer
Hund struck at him with his spear, and the stroke went in under his
mail-coat and into his belly. Then Kalf struck at him on the left side
of the neck. But all are not agreed upon Kalf having been the man who
gave him the wound in the neck. These three wounds were King Olaf's
death; and after the king's death the greater part of the forces which
had advanced with him fell with the king. Bjarne Gullbrarskald sang
these verses about Kalf Arnason:--

     "Warrior!  who Olaf dared withstand,
     Who against Olaf held the land,
     Thou hast withstood the bravest, best,
     Who e'er has gone to his long rest.
     At Stiklestad thou wast the head;
     With flying banners onwards led
     Thy bonde troops, and still fought on,
     Until he fell--the much-mourned one."

Sigvat also made these verses on Bjorn:--

     "The marshal Bjorn, too, I find,
     A great example leaves behind,
     How steady courage should stand proof,
     Though other servants stand aloof.
     To Russia first his steps he bent,
     To serve his master still intent;
     And now besides his king he fell,--
     A noble death for skalds to tell."

   ENDNOTES: (1) Thorer's name was Hund--the dog; and a play upon Thorer
     Hund's name was intended by the skald.--L.
    (2) Bjorn, the marshal's name, signifies a bear.--L.


Dag Hringson still kept up the battle, and made in the beginning so
fierce an assault that the bondes gave way, and some betook themselves
to flight. There a great number of the bondes fell, and these lendermen,
Erlend of Gerde and Aslak of Finey; and the banner also which they
had stood under was cut down. This onset was particularly hot, and was
called Dag's storm. But now Kalf Arnason, Harek of Thjotta, and Thorer
Hund turned against Dag, with the array which had followed them, and
then Dag was overwhelmed with numbers; so he betook himself to flight
with the men still left him. There was a valley through which the main
body of the fugitives fled, and men lay scattered in heaps on both
sides; and many were severely wounded, and many so fatigued that they
were fit for nothing. The bondes pursued only a short way; for their
leaders soon returned back to the field of battle, where they had their
friends and relations to look after.


Thorer Hund went to where King Olaf's body lay, took care of it, laid
it straight out on the ground, and spread a cloak over it. He told since
that when he wiped the blood from the face it was very beautiful; and
there was red in the cheeks, as if he only slept, and even much clearer
than when he was in life. The king's blood came on Thorer's hand, and
ran up between his fingers to where he had been wounded, and the
wound grew up so speedily that it did not require to be bound up. This
circumstance was testified by Thorer himself when King Olaf's holiness
came to be generally known among the people; and Thorer Hund was among
the first of the king's powerful opponents who endeavoured to spread
abroad the king's sanctity.


Kalf Arnason searched for his brothers who had fallen, and found
Thorberg and Fin. It is related that Fin threw his dagger at him, and
wanted to kill him, giving him hard words, and calling him a faithless
villain, and a traitor to his king. Kalf did not regard it, but ordered
Fin and Thorberg to be carried away from the field. When their wounds
were examined they were found not to be deadly, and they had fallen from
fatigue, and under the weight of their weapons. Thereafter Kalf tried to
bring his brothers down to a ship, and went himself with them. As
soon as he was gone the whole bonde-army, having their homes in the
neighbourhood, went off also, excepting those who had friends or
relations to look after, or the bodies of the slain to take care of. The
wounded were taken home to the farms, so that every house was full of
them; and tents were erected over some. But wonderful as was the number
collected in the bonde-army, no less wonderful was the haste with which
this vast body was dispersed when it was once free; and the cause of
this was, that the most of the people gathered together from the country
places were longing for their homes.


The bondes who had their homes in Veradal went to the chiefs Harek and
Thorer, and complained of their distress, saying, "The fugitives who
have escaped from the battle have proceeded up over the valley of
Veradal, and are destroying our habitations, and there is no safety for
us to travel home so long as they are in the valley. Go after them with
war-force, and let no mother's son of them escape with life; for that is
what they intended for us if they had got the upper hand in the battle,
and the same they would do now if they met us hereafter, and had better
luck than we. It may also be that they will linger in the valley if they
have nothing to be frightened for, and then they would not proceed very
gently in the inhabited country." The bondes made many words about this,
urging the chiefs to advance directly, and kill those who had escaped.
Now when the chiefs talked over this matter among themselves, they
thought there was much truth in what the bondes said. They resolved,
therefore, that Thorer Hund should undertake this expedition through
Veradal, with 600 men of his own troops. Then, towards evening, he set
out with his men; and Thorer continued his march without halt until he
came in the night to Sula, where he heard the news that Dag Hringson had
come there in the evening, with many other flocks of the king's men, and
had halted there until they took supper, but were afterwards gone up
to the mountains. Then Thorer said he did not care to pursue them up
through the mountains, and he returned down the valley again, and they
did not kill many of them this time. The bondes then returned to their
homes, and the following day Thorer, with his people, went to their
ships. The part of the king's men who were still on their legs concealed
themselves in the forests, and some got help from the people.


Harald Sigurdson was severely wounded; but Ragnvald Brusason brought him
to a bonde's the night after the battle, and the bonde took in Harald,
and healed his wound in secret, and afterwards gave him his son to
attend him. They went secretly over the mountains, and through the waste
forests, and came out in Jamtaland. Harald Sigurdson was fifteen years
old when King Olaf fell. In Jamtaland Harald found Ragnvald Brusason;
and they went both east to King Jarisleif in Russia, as is related in
the Saga of Harald Sigurdson.


Thormod Kolbrunarskald was under King Olaf's banner in the battle; but
when the king had fallen, the battle was raging so that of the king's
men the one fell by the side of the other, and the most of those who
stood on their legs were wounded. Thormod was also severely wounded, and
retired, as all the others did, back from where there was most danger of
life, and some even fled. Now when the onset began which is called Dag's
storm, all of the king's men who were able to combat went there; but
Thormod did not come into that combat, being unable to fight, both from
his wound and from weariness, but he stood by the side of his comrade in
the ranks, although he could do nothing. There he was struck by an arrow
in the left side; but he broke off the shaft of the arrow, went out of
the battle, and up towards the houses, where he came to a barn which
was a large building. Thormod had his drawn sword in his hand; and as he
went in a man met him, coming out, and said, "It is very bad there with
howling and screaming; and a great shame it is that brisk young fellows
cannot bear their wounds: it may be that the king's men have done
bravely to-day, but they certainly bear their wounds very ill."

Thormod asks. "What is thy name?"

He called himself Kimbe.

Thormod: "Wast thou in the battle, too?"

"I was with the bondes, which was the best side," says he.

"And art thou wounded any way?" says Thormod.

"A little," said Kimbe. "And hast thou been in the battle too?"

Thormod replied, "I was with them who had the best."

"Art thou wounded?" says Kimbe.

"Not much to signify," replies Thormod.

As Kimbe saw that Thormod had a gold ring on his arm, he said, "Thou art
certainly a king's man. Give me thy gold ring, and I will hide thee. The
bondes will kill thee if thou fallest in their way."

Thormod says, "Take the ring if thou canst get it: I have lost that
which is more worth."

Kimbe stretched out his hand, and wanted to take the ring; but Thormod,
swinging his sword, cut off his hand; and it is related that Kimbe
behaved himself no better under his wound than those he had been blaming
just before. Kimbe went off, and Thormod sat down in the barn, and
listened to what people were saying. The conversation was mostly
about what each had seen in the battle, and about the valour of the
combatants. Some praised most King Olaf's courage, and some named
others who stood nowise behind him in bravery. Then Thormod sang these

     "Olaf was brave beyond all doubt,--
     At Stiklestad was none so stout;
     Spattered with blood, the king, unsparing,
     Cheered on his men with deed and daring.
     But I have heard that some were there
     Who in the fight themselves would spare;
     Though, in the arrow-storm, the most
     Had perils quite enough to boast."


Thormod went out, and entered into a chamber apart, in which there were
many wounded men, and with them a woman binding their wounds. There was
fire upon the floor, at which she warmed water to wash and clean their
wounds. Thormod sat himself down beside the door, and one came in, and
another went out, of those who were busy about the wounded men. One
of them turned to Thormod, looked at him, and said, "Why art thou so
dead-pale? Art thou wounded? Why dost thou not call for the help of the
wound-healers?" Thormod then sang these verses:--

     "I am not blooming, and the fair
     And slender girl loves to care
     For blooming youths--few care for me;
     With Fenja's meal I cannot fee.
     This is the reason why I feel
     The slash and thrust of Danish steel;
     And pale and faint, and bent with pain,
     Return from yonder battle-plain."

Then Thormod stood up and went in towards the fire, and stood there
awhile. The young woman said to him, "Go out, man, and bring in some of
the split firewood which lies close beside the door." He went out and
brought in an armful of wood, which he threw down upon the floor. Then
the nurse-girl looked him in the face, and said, "Dreadfully pale is
this man--why art thou so?" Then Thormod sang:--

     "Thou wonderest, sweet sprig, at me,
     A man so hideous to see:
     Deep wounds but rarely mend the face,
     The crippling blow gives little grace.
     The arrow-drift o'ertook me, girl,--
     A fine-ground arrow in the whirl
     Went through me, and I feel the dart
     Sits, lovely girl, too near my heart."

The girl said, "Let me see thy wound, and I will bind it." Thereupon
Thormod sat down, cast off his clothes, and the girl saw his wounds, and
examined that which was in his side, and felt that a piece of iron was
in it, but could not find where the iron had gone in. In a stone pot she
had stirred together leeks and other herbs, and boiled them, and gave
the wounded men of it to eat, by which she discovered if the wounds had
penetrated into the belly; for if the wound had gone so deep, it would
smell of leek. She brought some of this now to Thormod, and told him to
eat of it. He replied, "Take it away, I have no appetite for my broth."
Then she took a large pair of tongs, and tried to pull out the iron; but
it sat too fast, and would in no way come, and as the wound was swelled,
little of it stood out to lay hold of. Now said Thormod, "Cut so deep
in that thou canst get at the iron with the tongs, and give me the tongs
and let me pull." She did as he said. Then Thormod took a gold ring from
his hand, gave it to the nurse-woman, and told her to do with it what
she liked. "It is a good man's gift," said he: "King Olaf gave me the
ring this morning." Then Thormod took the tongs, and pulled the iron
out; but on the iron there was a hook, at which there hung some morsels
of flesh from the heart,--some white, some red. When he saw that, he
said, "The king has fed us well. I am fat, even at the heart-roots;" and
so saying he leant back, and was dead. And with this ends what we have
to say about Thormod.


King Olaf fell on Wednesday, the 29th of July (A.D. 1030). It was near
mid-day when the two armies met, and the battle began before half-past
one, and before three the king fell. The darkness continued from about
half-past one to three also. Sigvat the skald speaks thus of the result
of the battle:--

     "The loss was great to England's foes,
     When their chief fell beneath the blows
     By his own thoughtless people given,--
     When the king's shield in two was riven.
     The people's sovereign took the field,
     The people clove the sovereign's shield.
     Of all the chiefs that bloody day,
     Dag only came out of the fray."

And he composed these:--

     "Such mighty bonde-power, I ween,
     With chiefs or rulers ne'er was seen.
     It was the people's mighty power
     That struck the king that fatal hour.
     When such a king, in such a strife,
     By his own people lost his life,
     Full many a gallant man must feel
     The death-wound from the people's steel."

The bondes did not spoil the slain upon the field of battle, for
immediately after the battle there came upon many of them who had been
against the king a kind of dread as it were; yet they held by their evil
inclination, for they resolved among themselves that all who had fallen
with the king should not receive the interment which belongs to good
men, but reckoned them all robbers and outlaws. But the men who had
power, and had relations on the field, cared little for this, but
removed their remains to the churches, and took care of their burial.


Thorgils Halmason and his son Grim went to the field of battle towards
evening when it was dusk, took King Olaf's corpse up, and bore it to a
little empty houseman's hut which stood on the other side of their farm.
They had light and water with them. Then they took the clothes off
the body, swathed it in a linen cloth, laid it down in the house, and
concealed it under some firewood so that nobody could see it, even
if people came into the hut. Thereafter they went home again to the
farmhouse. A great many beggars and poor people had followed both
armies, who begged for meat; and the evening after the battle many
remained there, and sought lodging round about in all the houses, great
or small. It is told of a blind man who was poor, that a boy attended
him and led him. They went out around the farm to seek a lodging, and
came to the same empty house, of which the door was so low that they had
almost to creep in. Now when the blind man had come in, he fumbled about
the floor seeking a place where he could lay himself down. He had a hat
on his head, which fell down over his face when he stooped down. He felt
with his hands that there was moisture on the floor, and he put up his
wet hand to raise his hat, and in doing so put his fingers on his eyes.
There came immediately such an itching in his eyelids, that he wiped the
water with his fingers from his eyes, and went out of the hut, saying
nobody could lie there, it was so wet. When he came out of the hut he
could distinguish his hands, and all that was near him, as far as things
can be distinguished by sight in the darkness of light; and he went
immediately to the farm-house into the room, and told all the people he
had got his sight again, and could see everything, although many knew
he had been blind for a long time, for he had been there, before, going
about among the houses of the neighbourhood. He said he first got his
sight when he was coming out of a little ruinous hut which was all wet
inside. "I groped in the water," said he, "and rubbed my eyes with
my wet hands." He told where the hut stood. The people who heard him
wondered much at this event, and spoke among themselves of what it could
be that produced it: but Thorgils the peasant and his son Grim thought
they knew how this came to pass; and as they were much afraid the king's
enemies might go there and search the hut, they went and took the body
out of it, and removed it to a garden, where they concealed it,