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Title: The World's Best Histories—Norway
Author: Sörensen, Sigvart
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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In preparing this volume it has been my aim to omit as few important
events as possible without making the book a mere enumeration of names
and dates. Above all, I have tried to be accurate. Among the works
which I have used as sources, the first one to be mentioned is the
great work of Snorre Sturlason: "The Heimskringla, or The Sagas of the
Norse Kings," and I have used the English translation of the same by
Samuel Laing, Esq., revised edition by Rasmus B. Anderson (Scribner &
Welford, New York, 1889). I have also found much assistance in O. A.
Överland's "Norges Historie." Among many other works used as sources or
consulted, are: J. E. Sars's "Udsigt over den Norske Historie"; Jacob
Aall's "Erindringer"; F. Winkel Horn's "History of the Literature of
the Scandinavian North," translated by R. B. Anderson (S. C. Griggs
& Co, Chicago, 1895). The Constitution of Norway, the most liberal
Constitution of Europe, appeared to me to be an appropriate closing
chapter in a History of Norway. This interesting document has been
translated into English by the Honorable Knute Nelson, United States
Senator from Minnesota, to whom I am under obligation for permission to
use his translation.                                      S. S.
     MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., 1899.





 The Ancestors of the Present Norwegians--Early Social
 Conditions--Independence and Self-government of the People--The
 Kings of the old Northmen                                            15



 The Creation of the World--Ask and Embla, the first Human
 Couple--Asgard, the Dwelling of the Gods--The Struggle between Good
 and Evil--The End of the World--A new Race                           18



 The three Stages of the Viking Age--Cruises to Scotland, Ireland,
 England and other Countries--Norse Kingdom in Ireland                26



 Beginning of Authentic History--Olaf the Tree-feller--Halfdan
 Whiteleg--Gudrod the Hunter--Halfdan the Swarthy gives the Eidsiva
 Law--Queen Ragnhild's Dream                                          29



 King Harald's Courtship--The Battle of Hafrsfjord--Norway United
 under one King--Emigration of the Discontented--Settlement in
 Iceland--The Cruise of Gange-Rolf--Northmen settle in Normandy--King
 Harald's Sons--Death of King Harald                                  31



 Sigurd Ladejarl--Erik and Queen Gunhild--Haakon, Athelstan's
 Foster-son, proclaimed King--Erik Blood-Axe exiled and killed in
 a Battle in England                                                  36


 HAAKON THE GOOD (935-961)

 The Laws Improved--Other Reforms--First Attempts to Introduce
 Christianity--Norway attacked by the Gunhild-sons--Battle of
 Fitje--Death of Haakon                                               39



 Return of the Gunhild-sons--Earl Sigurd of Lade killed--The Murder
 of Trygve Olafson and Gudrod Biornson--Earl Haakon--Harald
 Grayfell killed in Denmark                                           42


 EARL HAAKON (970-995)

 Attacks by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth--The
 Joms-vikings--Sigvalde Jarl makes War on Haakon--The Battle in
 Hjorungavaag--Revolt against Earl Haakon--Olaf Trygvason arrives
 in Norway--Earl Haakon killed by his Slave                           45



 The Birth of Olaf--Flight to Sweden and Russia--Olaf sold as a
 Slave--Freed by his Uncle--Viking Cruises to Vendland, England
 and other Countries--Return to Norway                                51


 OLAF TRYGVASON (995-1000)

 Christianity Introduced in Viken--Erling Skialgson of Sole--Great
 Opposition to Christianity--Founding of the Town of Nidaros--Olaf
 woos Queen Sigrid the Haughty--He marries Thyra from Denmark--
 Building of the "Long Serpent"--Einar Thambaskelfer--Expedition to
 Vendland--Battle of Svolder--Death of Olaf Trygvason                 54



 Erik the Red finds Greenland--Christianity Introduced--Biarne
 Heriulfson sees Strange Lands--Leif Erikson, the Discoverer of
 America--The new Country is called Vinland--Subsequent Journeys
 to Vinland--Thorfin Karlsefne                                        65



 Norway Divided between the Victors at Svolder--Erling Skialgson
 of Sole--Earl Erik leaves for England                                70



 Olaf's Childhood--Olaf on his Viking Expeditions--Battles in England 73


 OLAF THE SAINT (1015-1028)

 Return to Norway--Capture of Earl Haakon--The Earl vows never to
 fight King Olaf--Olaf's Reception by his Mother and Father-in-law,
 Sigurd Syr--Meeting of the District Kings--Olaf driven away from
 Nidaros--Battle of Nesje--Death of Earl Svein--Trouble with the
 Swedish King--Thorgny Lagman dictates to the King--Enforcing
 Christianity--Conspiracy against the King--Olaf's Half-brothers--The
 Peace of Konungahella--Dale-Gudbrand--Canute the Great claims
 Norway--Battle of Helge-Aa--Killing of Erling Skialgson--Olaf's
 Flight to Russia                                                     75



 Biorn Stallare's Visit to Olaf in Russia--King Olaf returns to
 Norway--His Vision--Thormod Kolbrunarskald--Battle Of Stiklestad
 --King Olaf's Death--Olaf Sigurdson leaves Norway                    99



 The Rule of Alfifa--Attempt to introduce Feudal Laws--The Sanctity
 of King Olaf--Rumors of Miracles--Olaf declared the National
 Saint--Trygve Olafson--Magnus Olafson returns to Norway--Alfifa and
 Svein flee to Denmark                                               105


 MAGNUS THE GOOD (1035-1047)

 Magnus's Birth and Baptism--Agreement with the Danish King,
 Hardeknut--Magnus and Kalf Arneson on the Battlefield of
 Stiklestad--Warning to the King--The Gray Goose--Magnus claims
 the Danish Throne--Svein Estridson appointed Earl--Battle at
 Lyrskog Heath--Battles at Aaros and Helganes--Return of Harald
 Sigurdson--Death of King Magnus                                     109



 Harald's Adventures in Southern Cities--Conflicts with Svein
 Estridson--Quarrels with Einar Thambaskelfer--Murder of Einar and his
 Son--Agreement with Haakon Ivarson--Treachery to Kalf Arneson--Battle
 of Nis-Aa--Peace Meeting at Gaut River--Earl Toste arrives in
 Norway--The Battle at Stanford Bridge--Death of King Harald--The
 Founding of Oslo                                                    116


 OLAF KYRRE (1066-1093)

 Magnus and Olaf divide the Power--Peace made with
 Svein Estridson--Death of Magnus--The Founding of
 Bergen--Guild-brethren--Skule, Toste's Son--Changes in Court
 Customs--Death of Olaf Kyrre                                        127


 MAGNUS BAREFOOT (1093-1103)

 Haakon Proclaimed King in Throndhjem--Haakon dies on the Dovre
 Mountain--Rebellion led by Thorer of Steig--Expedition to the
 Western Isles--War with Sweden--Peace Meeting at Konungahella--
 Second Expedition Westward--Death of King Magnus in Ulster          131



 Division of the Country between the Brothers--Sigurd's Crusade--Visit
 to Jerusalem--Return to Norway--King Eystein's Peaceful Work at
 Home--Annexation of Jemteland--King Sigurd and Borghild of Dal--The
 "Man-measuring"--Death of Eystein--The Kalmar Levy--Sigurd shows
 Signs of Insanity--Ottar Birting--Sigurd marries Cecilia--Death of
 Sigurd                                                              136



 Harald Gille comes to Norway as a Pretender--Harald and Magnus divide
 the Kingdom--Battle between the two Kings at Fyrileif--Harald takes
 Magnus prisoner at Bergen--Magnus maimed--Sigurd Slembe arrives in
 Norway--Harald Gille murdered--Konungahella destroyed               147



 Sigurd and Inge proclaimed Kings--Sigurd Slembe supports Magnus the
 Blind--Battles at Minne and Krokaskog--Battle at Holmengraa--Magnus
 and Sigurd Slembe killed--Eystein proclaimed King--Ottar Birting
 assassinated--King Sigurd slain--Death of Eystein--Haakon, Sigurd
 Mund's Son, given Title of King--Fall of King Inge at Oslo          151



 Visit of Cardinal Nicholas--An Archbishopric established at
 Nidaros--Cloisters in Norway                                        159



 Erling Skakke has his Son Magnus proclaimed King--He seeks aid in
 Denmark--Defeats Haakon at Tunsberg--Battle of Sekken--Haakon
 killed                                                              161



 Sigurd Markusfostre--Battle of Ree--Magnus Crowned--Norway
 attacked by the Danish King--Rebellion of the Hat-Swains--Peace
 with Denmark--Erling made Earl of Viken--Harald Sigurdson
 Beheaded--Eystein Meyla--The Birchlegs--Eystein killed--The Youth of
 Sverre Sigurdson--Sverre Proclaimed King at the Oere-Thing--Battle
 at Kalveskindet--The fall of Erling Skakke--Battle of the
 Ilevolds--Battle at Nordnes--Erik Sigurdson (King's-son)--Battle of
 Fimreite--Fall of King Magnus                                       163



 Sverre appoints Lawmen and Prefects--A new Pretender--The Kuvlung
 Party--The Varbelgs--Rebellion of the Oyskeggs--Battle of
 Florevaag--Sverre's Struggle with the Hierarchy--Bishop Nicholas
 Arneson--Sverre Excommunicated--Sverre Crowned in Bergen--Organization
 of the Bagler Party--Burning of Bergen--Papal Interdict against
 Norway--The Baglers Defeated at Strindsö--Uprising in Viken--The
 Siege at Tunsberg--Sverre's Sickness and Death                      178


 BAARDSON (1204-1217)

 Reconciliation with the Church--Inge Magnusson Killed--Death of
 King Haakon--Election of Guthorm Sigurdson--The Pretender Erling
 Steinvegg--Death of Guthorm Sigurdson--Inge Baardson Proclaimed
 King--Birth of Haakon Haakonson--His Journey across the Mountains
 --The Baglers visit Nidaros--Death of Erling Steinvegg--Philip made
 King of the Baglers--Compromise at Hvitings Island--Jealousy of
 Haakon Galen--Young Haakon Disinherited--Death of King Inge         190



 Haakon Proclaimed King--Earl Skule's Demands--Rebellion of the
 Slitungs--The Ribbungs--Treachery of Earl Skule--State Meeting in
 Bergen--King Haakon Married--Death of Bishop Nicholas and Sigurd
 Ribbung--Skule Raised to the Rank of Duke--Duke Skule Proclaimed
 King--Battles at Laaka and Oslo--Duke Skule Killed--Coronation of
 Haakon--King Haakon's Fame Abroad--Expedition to Scotland--Haakon's
 Death                                                               199



 The Family of Snorre Sturlason--The Snorrelaug--Visit to
 Norway--Snorre Murdered--"The Heimskringla"--"The Edda"             209


 MAGNUS LAW-MENDER (1263-1280)

 Peace Concluded with Scotland--Magnus as a Law-Giver--Privileges
 Granted to the Hanseatic League--The First Nobility--Death of King
 Magnus                                                              212


 ERIK PRIEST-HATER (1280-1299)

 New Struggle with the Church--War with Denmark--The Peace of
 Kalmar--Earl Alf Erlingson executed--The Maid from Norway--Death
 of King Erik                                                        214


 HAAKON V. MAGNUSSON (1299-1319)

 Audun Hugleikson Condemned for Treason--The false "Maid from
 Norway"--The Peace of Copenhagen, 1309--New Law of Succession--Death
 of King Haakon                                                      217



 Magnus Smek Becomes King of Norway and Sweden--Erling Vidkunson
 Appointed Regent--Haakon Magnusson Acknowledged as King of
 Norway--Battle at Enköping--Death of Magnus--Flood in the Gaula
 Valley--The Black Death                                             219



 Olaf Becomes King of Denmark and Norway--The first Union with
 Denmark--A Pretender Executed                                       223



 Margaret Acknowledged as Ruler of Norway--Erik of Pomerania Chosen as
 King--The three Countries United--The Kalmar Union--Death of Queen
 Margaret--The Victualia Brethren--Bergen Plundered--Revolt of Amund
 Bolt--Erik of Pomerania Deposed in Denmark                          224



 Norway at first Loyal to Erik--Christopher Finally
 Accepted--Restrictions of the Hansa Privileges                      229



 Christian Elected by one Party and Carl Knutsson by Another--Christian
 Crowned--Closer Union with Denmark--The first of the Oldenborgs--War
 with Sweden--War with the Hansa--Christian Pawns the Norwegian
 Possessions                                                         231


 HANS (1483-1513)

 King Hans Crowned in Throndhjem--The Victory of the
 Ditmarshers--Revolt of Knut Alfson--Prince Christian as Regent
 --War with the Hansa Towns                                          235


 CHRISTIAN II. (1513-1523)

 The Lovely Dyveke and her Mother--The King's Marriage--The Death of
 Dyveke--Torben Ox Executed--Christian Crowned as King of Sweden--The
 Carnage of Stockholm--Gustavus Wasa--The Flight of Christian II     239


 FREDERICK I. (1524-1533)

 Lady Inger of Oestraat--The King's Recess--Attempt of Christian II.
 to Recover Norway--Christian Imprisoned                             243


 INTERREGNUM (1533-1537)

 The Count's Feud--King Christian Recognized--Revolt of the
 Archbishop--The Flight of Olaf Engelbrektson                        247



 The Catholic Faith Abolished--The Church Ordinance--Norway declared
 a Danish Province--Robbing the Norwegian Churches                   250


 FREDERICK II. (1559-1588)

 The Northern Seven Years' War--Battle of Svarteraa--Throndhjem
 taken by the Swedes--Burning of Oslo--Sarpsborg Burned--Peace at
 Stettin--Misrule in Norway--Erik Munk Deposed and Imprisoned--City
 of Fredericksstad Founded                                           252


 CHRISTIAN IV. (1588-1648)

 The Popular King--Frequent Visits to Norway--The Laws Improved--War
 with Sweden--The Scotch War--Colonel Sinclair Killed--Peace at
 Knaeröd--The Peace of Lubeck--Second War with Sweden--Peace at
 Bromsebro--The Hannibal's Feud--The City of Christiania             255



 The last Royal Charter--War with Sweden--The Krabbe War--Peace at
 Roskilde--The Peace broken by the Swedish King--Siege of Halden--Peace
 of Copenhagen--The King's Revolution--Absolutism Introduced--Kort
 Adeler                                                              261


 CHRISTIAN V. (1670-1699)

 Extravagance at Court--German Manners Introduced--A new
 Nobility--Peter (Schumacher) Griffenfeld--The Scania War--The
 Gyldenlöve Feud--A new Code of Laws                                 267


 FREDERICK IV. (1699-1730)

 War with the Duke of Holstein--The Great Northern War
 (1709-1720)--Naval Battle in Kjögebugt--Charles XII. Invades
 Norway--The Heroic Anna Kolbjörnsdatter--King Charles at
 Frederickshald--Peter and Hans Kolbjörnson--Peter Wessel
 Tordenskiold--The Battle of Dynekilen--King Charles XII. Killed
 before Frederickssteen--The Peace of Fredericksborg--The Sale of
 Norwegian Church Property--Hans Egede, Greenland's Apostle          272


 CHRISTIAN VI. (1730-1746)

 Pietism and Hypocrisy--Confirmation Introduced--Improvement in
 Popular Education--Famine in Norway--Ludvig Holberg--Erik
 Pontoppidan                                                         281


 FREDERICK V. (1746-1766)

 More Liberal Christianity--Luxury at Court--An "Extra Tax"--Revolt
 in Bergen--Promotion of Science and Art                             284


 CHRISTIAN VII. (1766-1808)

 Johan Frederick Struensee--Reforms without Preparation--Struensee
 Executed--The Guldberg Period--Prosperity in Norway--Crown
 Prince Frederick as Regent--The Bernstorf Ministry--The "Armed
 Neutrality"--Naval Battle at Copenhagen, 1801--The Peace of
 Tilsit--Bombardment of Copenhagen, 1807--The Norwegian
 "Government Commission"                                             286


 FREDERICK VI. (1808-1814)

 War with Sweden--Battles at Lier, Toverud, Trangen, and
 Prestebakke--Armistice, December, 1808--Gustavus IV.
 Deposed--Christian August becomes Crown Prince of Sweden--Peace
 of Jönköping--The Society for Norway's Welfare--The University
 of Norway--Famine and Distress in Norway                            293



 Candidates for the Swedish Succession--Baron Mörner goes to
 Paris--Marshal Bernadotte--Crown Prince Charles John--Rupture with
 Napoleon--Agreement with Russia--Norway Promised to Sweden--Treaty
 of Kiel--Norway ceded to the Swedish King                           298



 Norwegians Refuse to Recognize the Treaty of Kiel--Christian Frederick
 as Regent--The Constitutional Convention at Eidsvold--Constitution of
 May 17, 1814--Christian Frederick elected King of Norway            302



 The Powers demand Acceptance of the Treaty of Kiel--War breaks
 out--Surrender of Fredericksstad--Siege of Frederickssteen--The
 Swedes defeated at Lier and Matrand--Convention at Moss--The
 Storthing Convened--Christian Frederick Abdicates-Union with Sweden
 --Charles XIII. elected King of Norway                              306



 The Rigsakt of 1815--Charles XIV. John ascends the Throne--Nobility
 Abolished--The Storthing rejects the King's Propositions--Independence
 Day--The Storthing Dissolved in 1836--Minister Lövenskiold
 Impeached--Oscar I. becomes King--Norway gets her own Flag--The
 German-Danish War--Charles XV.--Norway Prosperous--A Union
 Committee--Oscar II. ascends the Throne--The Office of Statholder
 Abolished--Conflict between King and Storthing--Parliamentarism
 Adopted--The Absolute Veto--The Resolution of June 9, 1880--Selmer
 Ministry Impeached--The April Ministry--Johan Sverdrup forms
 a Ministry--Trial by Jury Introduced--Emil Stang--Rector
 Steen's Ministry--The Consular Question--Stang again--Hagerup's
 Ministry--Negotiations with Sweden--Steen's Second Ministry--Universal
 Suffrage--The Norwegian Flag                                        310


 NORWEGIAN LITERATURE                                                318


 THE CONSTITUTION OF NORWAY                                          325



_The Northmen_

Norway (in the old Norse language _Noregr_, or _Nord-vegr_, i.e._,
the North Way), according to archæological explorations, appears to
have been inhabited long before the historical time. The antiquaries
maintain that three populations have inhabited the North: a Mongolian
race and a Celtic race, types of which are to be found in the Finns and
the Laplanders in the far North, and, finally, a Caucasian race, which
immigrated from the South and drove out the Celtic and Laplandic races,
and from which the present inhabitants are descended. The Norwegians,
or Northmen (Norsemen), belong to a North-Germanic branch of the
Indo-European race; their nearest kindred are the Swedes, the Danes,
and the Goths. The original home of the race is supposed to have been
the mountain region of Balkh, in Western Asia, whence from time to time
families and tribes migrated in different directions. It is not known
when the ancestors of the Scandinavian peoples left the original home
in Asia; but it is probable that their earliest settlements in Norway
were made in the second century before the Christian era.

The first settlers probably knew little of agriculture, but made
their living by fishing and hunting. In time, however, they commenced
to clear away the timber that covered the land in the valleys and
the sides of the mountains and to till the ground. At the earliest
times of which the historical tales or _Sagas_ tell us anything with
regard to the social conditions, the land was divided among the free
peasant-proprietors, or _bonde_ class. Bonde, in English translation,
is usually called peasant; but this is not an equivalent; for with the
word peasant we associate the idea of inferior social condition to
the landed aristocracy of the country, while these peasants or bondes
were themselves the highest class in the country. The land owned by a
peasant was called his _udal_. By udal-right the land was kept in the
family, and it could not be alienated or forfeited from the kindred
who were udal-born to it. The free peasants might own many thralls or
slaves, who were unfree men. These were mostly prisoners captured by
the vikings on their expeditions to foreign shores; the owners could
trade them away, or sell them, or even kill them without paying any
fine or _man-bote_ to the king, as in the case of the killing of a free
man. As a rule, however, the slaves were not badly treated, and they
were sometimes made free and given the right to acquire land.

In early days Norway consisted of a great number of small states called
_Fylkis_, each a little kingdom by itself. The free peasants in a
Fylki held general assemblies called _Things_, where laws were made
and justice administered. No public acts were undertaken without the
deliberation of a Thing. The _Thing_ was sacred, and a breach of peace
at the _thing_-place was considered a great crime. At the Thing there
was also a hallowed place for the judges, or "lag-men," who expounded
and administered the laws made by the Thing. Almost every crime could
be expiated by the payment of fines, even if the accused had killed
a person. But if a man killed another secretly, he was declared an
assassin and an outlaw, was deprived of all his property, and could
be killed by any one who wished to do so. The fine or man-bote was
heavier, the higher the rank of the person killed. For a thrall or
slave no man-bote was paid.

The _Thing_ or _Fylkis Thing_ was not made up of representatives
elected by the people, but was rather a primary assembly of the free
udal-born peasant-proprietors of the district. There were leading men
in the _fylki_, and each _fylki_ had one or more chiefs, but they had
to plead at the _Thing_ like other free men. When there were several
chiefs, they usually had the title of _herse_; but when the free men
had agreed upon one chief, he was called _jarl_ (earl), or king.
The king was the commander in war, and usually performed judicial
functions; but he supported himself from his own estates, and the free
peasants paid no tax. The dignity of the king was usually inherited
by his son, but if the heir was not to the liking of the peasants
or people, they chose another. No man, however clear his right of
succession, would think of assuming the title or power of a king except
by the vote of a Thing. There he was presented to the people by a free
peasant, and his right must be confirmed by the Thing before he could
exert any act of kingly power. The king had a number of free men in his
service, who had sworn allegiance to him, and who served him in war and
in peace. They were armed men, kept in pay, and were called _hird-men_
or court-men, because they were members of the king's _hird_ or court.
If they were brave and faithful, they were often given high positions
of trust; some were made _lendermen_ (liegemen), or managers of the
king's estates.


_The Religion of the Northmen_

The religion of the ancient Norwegians was of the same origin as that
of all the other Germanic nations, and its main features will be given
in this chapter.

In the beginning of time there were two worlds; in the south was
Muspelheim, luminous and flaming, with Surt as a ruler. In the north
was Niflheim, cold and dark, with the spring Hvergelmer, where the
dragon Nidhugger dwells. Between these worlds was the yawning abyss
Ginungagap. From the spring Hvergelmer ran icy streams into the
Ginungagap. The hoar-frost from these streams was met by sparks
from Muspelheim, and by the power of the heat the vapors were given
life in the form of the Yotun or giant Ymer and the cow Audhumbla,
on whose milk he lives. From Ymer descends the evil race of Yotuns
or frost-giants. As the cow licked the briny hoar-frost, the large,
handsome and powerful Bure came into being. His son was Bur, who
married a daughter of a Yotun and became the father of _Odin_, Vile,
and Ve. Odin became the father of the kind and fair _Æsir_, the gods
who rule heaven and earth.

Bur's sons killed Ymer, and in his blood the whole race of Yotuns
drowned except one couple, from whom new races of Yotuns or giants
descended. Bur's sons dragged the body of Ymer into the middle of
Ginungagap. Out of the trunk of the body they made the earth and of his
blood the sea. His bones became the mountains, and of his hair they
made trees. From the skull they made the heavens, which they elevated
high above the earth and decorated with sparks from Muspelheim. But
his brain was scattered in the air and became clouds. Around the earth
they let the deep waters flow, and on the distant shores the escaped
Yotuns took up their abode in Yotunheim and in Utgard. For protection
against them the kind gods made from Ymer's eyebrows the fortification
Midgard as a defence for the inner earth. But from heaven to earth they
suspended the quivering bridge called Bifrost, or the rainbow.

The Yotun woman Night, black and dark as her race, met Delling (the
Dawn) of the Æsir race, and with him became the mother of Day, who
was bright and fair as his father. Odin placed mother and son in the
heavens and bid them each in turn ride over the earth. Night rides
ahead with her horse Hrimfaxe, from whose foaming bit the earth is
every morning covered with dew. Day follows with his horse Skinfaxe,
whose radiant mane spreads light and air over the earth.

A great number of maggots were bred in Ymer's body, and they became
gnomes or dwarfs, little beings whom the gods gave human sense
and appearance. They lived within the mountains and were skilful
metal-workers, but they could not endure the light of day. Four dwarfs,
the East, West, North, and South, were placed by the gods to carry the
arch of heaven.

As yet there were no human beings on earth. Then, one day, the three
gods, Odin, Hoener, and Lodur, were walking on the shore of the sea,
where they found two trees, and from them they made the first man and
the first woman, Ask and Embla (ash and elm). Odin gave them life,
Hoener reason, Lodur blood and fair complexion. The gods gave them
Midgard for a home, and from them the whole human race is descended.

The ever green ash tree Ygdrasil is the finest of all trees. It shoots
up from three roots. One of them is in the well Hvergelmer in Niflheim,
and on this the dragon Nidhugger is gnawing. The other root is in
Yotunheim, in the wise Yotun Mimer's fountain. One of Odin's eyes,
which he pledged for a drink of the fountain, is kept here. Whoever
drinks of this fountain becomes wise. The third root is in heaven,
at the Urdar well, where the gods hold their Thing or court. To this
place they ride daily over the bridge Bifrost. Here also the three
Norns abide, the maidens Urd, Verdande, and Skuld (past, present, and
future). They pour water from the well over the roots of the tree. The
Norns distribute life and govern fate, and nothing can change their

The dwelling in heaven of the _Æsir_ or gods is called Asgard. In its
middle was the field of Ida, the gathering place of the gods, with
Odin's throne, Lidskialv, from which he views the whole world. Odin
is the highest and the oldest of the gods, and all the others honor
him as their father. Odin's hall is Valhalla. The ceiling of this hall
is made of spears, it is covered with shields, and its benches are
ornamented with coats of mail. To this place Odin invites all who have
fallen in battle, and he is therefore called Valfather, _i.e._, the
father of the fallen. The invited fallen heroes are called _Einherier_;
their sport and pastime is to go out every day and fight and kill each
other; but toward evening they awake to life again and ride home as
friends to Valhalla, where they feast on pork of the barrow Særimner,
and where Odin's maidens, the Valkyrias, fill their horns with mead.
These Valkyrias were sent by Odin to all battles on earth, where they
selected those who were to be slain and afterward become the honored
guests at Valhalla. At Odin's side sit the two wolves, Gere and Freke,
and on his shoulders the ravens Hugin and Munin. These ravens fly forth
every morning and return with tidings from all parts of the world.
Odin's horse is the swift, gray, eight-footed Sleipner. When he rides
to battle he wears a golden helmet, a beautiful coat of mail, and
carries the spear Gungner, which never fails. Odin is also the god
of wisdom and poesy; in the morning of time he deposited one of his
eyes in pledge for a drink of Mimer's fountain of wisdom, and he drank
Suttung's mead in order to gain the gift of poesy. He has also taught
men the art of writing Runes and all secret arts.

Thor, the son of Odin, is the strongest of all the gods. His dwelling
is called Thrudvang. He rides across the heavens in a cart drawn by two
rams. He is always at war with the Yotuns or evil giants, and in battle
with them he uses his great hammer, Mjolner, which he hurls at the
heads of his enemies. The earth trembles under the wheels of his cart,
and men call the noise thunder. Thor's wife is Sif, whose hair is of

Balder is a son of Odin and Frigg. He is so fair that his countenance
emits beams of brightness. He is wise and gentle, and is therefore
loved by all. His dwelling is Breidablik, where nothing impure exists.
Nanna is his wife.

Njord comes from the race of the wise Vanir. He rules the wind, can
calm the sea and stop fire, and he distributes wealth among men. His
aid is invoked for success in navigation and fishing. His wife is
Skade, daughter of a Yotun, and his dwelling is Noatun by the sea.

Frey, the son of Njord, rules rain and sunshine and the productiveness
of the soil, and his aid is needed to get good crops, peace, and
wealth. His dwelling is Alfheim. He sails in the magnificent ship
"Skibladner," which was built for him by the dwarfs. His wife is the
Yotun daughter Gerd, but in order to get her he had to give away his
good sword, so that he will be unarmed in the coming final battle of
the gods.

Tyr, Odin's son, is the god of courage and victory, whom brave men call
upon in battle. He has only one hand, for the Fenris-Wolf bit off his
right hand.

Brage, the long-bearded, is the god of eloquence and poetry. His wife
is Idun, who has in her keeping the apples of which the gods eat to
preserve their eternal youth.

Heimdal, the white god with teeth of gold, was in the beginning of time
born by nine Yotun maidens, all sisters. He is the watchman of the
gods. He is more wakeful than birds. He can see a hundred miles off,
and he can hear the grass grow. His dwelling is Himinbjorg, which is
situated where the Bifrost bridge reaches heaven. When he blows his
Gjallar-horn it is heard throughout the world.

Among the other gods were Haad, son of Odin, blind but strong; the
silent and strong Vidar; Vale, the archer; Ull, the fast ski-runner,
and Forsete, the son of Balder, who settles disputes between gods and

Among the goddesses (or _asynier_), Frigg, Odin's wife, is the
foremost. She knows the fate of everybody and shields many from danger.
Her dwelling is Fensal. Next comes Freya, the goddess of love. She is
the daughter of Njord and sister of Frey. She is also called Vanadis,
or the goddess of the Vanir. She was married to Odd, and by him had a
daughter, Noss. But Odd left her, and Freya weeps in her longing for
him, and her tears are red gold. When she travels her wagon is drawn
by two cats. The name of her dwelling is Folkvang. There were also a
number of other goddesses, who were in the service of either Frigg or

Æger, the ruler of the turbulent and stormy sea, is a Yotun, but he
is a friend of the gods. When they visit him his hall is lighted with
shining gold. His wife is Ran, and their daughters are the waves.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the beginning there was peace among gods and men. But the arrival
of the Yotun women in Asgard undermined the happiness of the gods, and
in heaven and on earth a struggle commenced which must last until both
are destroyed. The Yotuns continually attack the inhabitants of Asgard,
and it is only the mighty Thor who can hold them at bay. It is the evil
Loke, who is the worst enemy of gods and men. He belongs to the Yotun
race, but was early adopted among the gods. He was fair in looks, but
wily and evil in spirit. He had three evil children--the Fenris-Wolf,
the Midgard-Serpent, and Hel. The gods knew that this offspring of Loke
would cause great trouble; therefore they tied the Fenris-Wolf, threw
the serpent into the sea, and hurled Hel down into Niflheim, where she
became the ruler of the dead. All who die from sickness or age are sent
to her awful dwelling, Helheim.

The greatest sorrow which Loke caused the whole world was that by his
deceit he caused the death of the lovely god, Balder. Then the gods
took an awful revenge. They tied him to three stones, and over his head
they fastened a venomous serpent, whose poison always was to drip upon
his face. Loke's faithful wife, Sigyn, placed herself at his side and
held a cup under the poisonous drip; but whenever the cup is full and
she goes to empty it, the poison drips into Loke's face, and then he
writhes in agony so that the whole world trembles. This is the cause of

       *       *       *       *       *

There will come a time when these gods and the world shall perish in
_Ragnarokk_, which means the perdition of the gods. They will have many
warnings. Corruption and wickedness will be common in the world. For
three years there will be winter without sun. The sun and the moon will
be swallowed up by the wolves of the Yotuns, and the bright stars will
disappear. The earth will tremble, and the mountains will collapse, and
all chains and ties are sundered. The Fenris-Wolf and Loke get loose,
and the Midgard-Serpent leaves the ocean. The ship "Naglfar" carries
the army of the Yotuns across the sea under the leadership of the Yotun
_Rym_, and Loke advances at the head of the hosts from the abode of
Hel. The heavens split, and the sons of Muspel come riding ahead, led
by their chief Surt. As the hosts are rushing across the Bifrost, the
bridge breaks behind them. All are hastening to the great battle-place,
the plains of _Vigrid_, which is a hundred miles wide. Now Heimdal
arises and blows his Gjallar-horn, all the gods are assembled, the ash
Ygdrasil trembles, and everything in heaven and on earth is filled with
terror. Gods and Einherier (the fallen heroes) arm themselves for the
battle. In the front rides Odin with his golden helmet and beaming coat
of mail and carrying his spear, Gungner. He meets the Fenris-Wolf, who
swallows him, but Vidar avenges his father and kills the wolf. Thor
crushes the head of the Midgard-Serpent, but is stifled to death by its
venom. Frey is felled by Surt, and Loke and Heimdal kill each other.
Finally Surt hurls his fire over the world, gods and men die, and the
shrivelling earth sinks into the abyss.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the world shall arise again and the dead come to life. From above
comes the all-powerful one, he who rules everything, and whose name no
one dares utter. All those who were virtuous and pure of heart will
gather in _Gimle_ in everlasting happiness, while the evil ones will go
to Naastrand at the well Hvergelmer to tie tortured by Nidhugger. A new
earth, green and beautiful, shall rise from the ocean. The gods awake
to new life and join _Vidar_ and _Vale_, and the sons of Thor, Mode and
Magne, who have survived the great destruction and who have been given
their father's hammer, because there is to be no more war. All the gods
assemble on the field of Ida, where Asgard was located. And from _Liv_
and _Livthraser_, who hid themselves in Ygdrasil during the burning of
the world, a new human race shall descend.


_The Viking Age_

It is but natural that the ancient Norwegians should become warlike
and brave men, since their firm religious belief was that those who
died of sickness or old age would sink down into the dark abode of
Hel (Helheim), and that only the brave men who fell in battle would
be invited to the feasts in Odin's Hall. Sometimes the earls or kings
would make war on their neighbors, either for conquest or for revenge.
But a time came when the countries of the north with their poorly
developed resources became overpopulated, and the warriors had to seek
better fields abroad. The viking cruises commenced, and for a long time
the Norwegians continued to harry the coasts of Europe.

At first the viking expeditions were nothing but piracy, carried on
for a livelihood. The name Viking is supposed to be derived from the
word _vik_, a cove or inlet on the coast, in which they would harbor
with their ships and lie in wait for merchants sailing by. Soon
these expeditions assumed a wider range and a wilder character, and
historians of the time paint the horrors spread by the vikings in dark
colors. In the English churches they had a day of prayer each week to
invoke the aid of heaven against the harrying Northmen. In France the
following formula was inserted in the church prayer: "_A furore Norman
norum libera nos, o Domine!_" (Free us, O Lord, from the fury of the

Gradually the viking life assumed a nobler form. There appear to be
three stages or periods in the viking age. In the first one the vikings
make casual visits with single ships to the shores of England, Ireland,
France or Flanders, and when they have plundered a town or a convent
they return to their ships and sail away. In the second period their
cruises assume a more regular character, and indicate some definite
plan, as they take possession of certain points, where they winter,
and from where they command the surrounding country. During the third
period they no longer confine themselves to seeking booty, but act as
real conquerors, take possession of the conquered territory and rule it.

In the latter part of the eighth century the vikings first found their
way across the North Sea to the islands north of Scotland. In 787
they landed for the first time on the British coast. In that year it
is recorded in the English annals that Norwegians came in three ships
and committed great ravages on the coasts of Wessex. Six years later
they attacked Northumberland, where they caused even greater ruin.
They especially plundered churches and cloisters. Soon they extended
their plundering expeditions to the northern coast of France, where
the powerful emperor Charlemagne was then the ruler. They made only
small progress as long as he lived, but during the reigns of his weak
successors they made havoc along the coasts of France, and also forced
the Straits of Gibraltar and made unwelcome visits to the countries
on the Mediterranean. Some of the French kings knew no better remedy
than to pay the vikings great sums of money to keep them away from the
country. Thus King Charles the Baldheaded paid in the year 846 a sum of
7,000 pounds of silver, and in 877 a further sum of 5,000 pounds, for
this purpose.

The Northmen, by their viking expeditions, early took possession of the
Orkneys, the Shetland Islands, the Hebrides and the Faroe Islands. In
going westward to these islands they were sometimes driven out of their
course, and thus Nadodd, who was on his way to the Faroe Islands, was
driven far to the north and northwest and found a large uninhabited
country, which was afterward called Iceland.

The vikings often came to Ireland, and about the year 837 they
succeeded, under the leadership of the chieftain Thorgeisl, in
establishing a kingdom at Dublin, which they strongly fortified.
Thorgeisl appears to have ruled in Ireland until about 846, when he was
drowned. A more permanent kingdom was established by Olaf the White,
who took possession of Dublin and the surrounding country in 852. The
dominion in Dublin of the Norwegians is supposed to have lasted for
three and a half centuries.

As to the influence of the Northmen on the development of the countries
visited by them during the later Viking periods, the eminent English
writer Samuel Laing, the translator of the "Heimskringla," or the Sagas
of the Norse kings, says:

"All that men hope for of good government and future improvement in
their physical and moral condition--all that civilized men enjoy
at this day of civil, religious and political liberty--the British
constitution, representative legislation, the trial by jury, security
of property, freedom of mind and person, the influence of public
opinion over the conduct of public affairs, the Reformation, the
liberty of the press, the spirit of the age--all that is or has been of
value to man in modern times as a member of society, either in Europe
or in the New World, may be traced to the spark left burning upon our
shores by these northern barbarians."


_The Yngling Family--Halfdan the Swarthy_

The authentic history begins with Halfdan the Swarthy, or Halfdan
the Black, who reigned from about the year 821 to about 860. The
Icelander Snorre Sturlason, who, in the twelfth century, wrote the
"Heimskringla," or the Sagas of the Norse Kings, gives a long line of
preceding kings of the Yngling race, the royal family to which Halfdan
the Swarthy belonged; but that part of the Saga belongs to mythology
rather than to history.

According to tradition the Yngling family were descendants of Fiolner,
the son of the god Frey. One of the surnames of the god was Yngve, from
which the family derived the name Ynglings. Their original home is said
to have been Upsala in Sweden, but they were driven away on account
of their cruelty. One of them, whose name was Olaf, emigrated with
his followers to Vermeland, which he made habitable by cleaning away
a great deal of the timber. Hence he was called Olaf the Tree-feller
(Tre-telgja). His son, Halfdan Whiteleg (Hvitbein), conquered Romerike
and other Norwegian districts, and Halfdan's son also became king of
Vestfold, or the country west of the Folden, the bay now called the
Christiania Fjord. Vestfold now became the most important part of the
country. In the neighborhood of the present town of Laurvik a famous
temple was founded in Skirings-sal, where the kings often resided, and
which soon became a popular trading place.

Halfdan Whiteleg's grandson, Gudrod the Hunter, made war on Harald
Redbeard, who was king of Agder, the southwestern part of Norway. He
killed Harald and his son Gyrd, and took a great booty. He afterward
married Harald's daughter, Asa.

Gudrod's son, Halfdan, surnamed the Swarthy, was only a year old when
his father was killed, and his mother Asa then returned with him to
Agder, where he grew up and became stout and strong. At the age of
eighteen he became king in Agder, and soon afterward went to Vestfold,
where he divided that kingdom with his brother Olaf. Halfdan increased
his possessions, both by marriage and by warfare, until he ruled over
the whole country around the Christiania Fjord, Thoten, Land, Hadeland,
Romerike and Sogn. King Halfdan was a wise man, a lover of truth and
justice. He made good laws, which he observed himself and compelled
others to observe. He fixed certain mulcts, or penalties, for all
crimes committed. His code of laws, called the Eidsiva Law, was adopted
at a common Thing at Eidsvold, where about a thousand years later the
present constitution of Norway was adopted.

Halfdan became the ancestor of the royal race of Norway, his son,
Harald the Fairhaired, being the first king of united Norway. According
to tradition, when Queen Ragnhild was with child she dreamed that
she was standing in her herb-garden, and she took a thorn out of her
chemise, and while she was holding it in her hand it grew into a great
tree, one end of which struck roots into the earth, while the other
raised itself in the air until she could hardly see the top or the end
of its widely spread branches. The lower part of the tree was red with
blood, but the stem was beautifully green, and the branches white as
snow, and they spread over all Norway, and even much more. This dream
was years afterward interpreted as having foretold the destiny of
Ragnhild's son.

One day in the spring of 860, when Halfdan the Swarthy was driving home
from a feast across the Randsfjord, he broke through the ice and was
drowned. He was so popular that when his body was found the leading
men in each _Fylki_ demanded to have him buried with them, believing
that it would bring prosperity to the district. They at last agreed to
divide the body into four parts, which were buried in four different
districts. The trunk of the body was buried in a mound at Stein,
Ringerike, where a little hill is still called Halfdan's Mound.


_Harald the Fairhaired (860-930)--Norway United_

Harald was only ten years old when he succeeded his father. Many of
the chiefs thought that it would be an easy matter now to divide the
country between them, but Guthorm, a brother of Harald's mother, who
was at the head of the government and commander of the army, soon
subdued them.

When Harald had become old enough to marry, he sent his men to a girl
named Gyda, a daughter of King Erik of Hordaland, who was brought up
as a foster-child in the house of a rich _Bonde_ in Valders. Harald
had heard of her as a very beautiful though proud girl. When the men
delivered their message, she answered that she would not marry a king
who had no greater kingdom than a few _Fylkis_ (districts), and she
added that she thought it strange "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 Erik at Upsala." When the messengers returned to the
king, they advised him to punish her for her haughty words, but Harald
said she had spoken well, and he made the solemn vow not to cut or comb
his hair until he had subdued the whole of Norway and had become the
sole king.

Harald immediately gathered an army and went northward over the Dovre
Mountain, and after several battles conquered the whole of Trondelag,
the common name of all the districts about the Throndhjem (Drontheim)
Fjord. Here he procured ships, sailed southward along the coast and
conquered one district after another in the western part of the
country. Finally, the remaining kings gathered their men and ships and
met Harald in naval battle in Hafrsfjord, a little inlet in Jæderen,
near the present city of Stavanger. The battle was fierce and long,
but Harald finally gained the day. After this battle, which occurred
in 872, King Harald met no opposition, and was acknowledged as king of
the whole of Norway. Shortly after the battle the king attended a feast
given by Ragnvald, the Earl of More (Morejarl), and the latter cut the
king's hair, which had not been cut or combed for ten years, and gave
him the surname, the Fairhaired. Harald shortly afterward married Gyda.

King Harald deprived the peasant-proprietors of their allodium or
udal-right, and compelled them to pay land dues of their possessions.
Over every _Fylki_ or district he placed an earl (_jarl_), who was
to administer justice and collect the taxes, of which he retained
one-third as salary. In case of war the earl was to serve the king with
sixty warriors. Each earl had under him four _herses_, each of whom had
a royal estate of twenty marks annual income to manage, and was bound
to support twenty men-at-arms.

Many of the proud peasants objected to the rule of Harald and to the
payment of taxes. They wanted to be independent, as before, and left
the country. Many of them settled on the Faroe Islands and the Scotch
islands, and in the summer they would make viking cruises and harry the
coasts of Norway to revenge themselves on the king. To stop this Harald
sailed westward one summer with a fleet, fought the vikings and took
possession of Shetland and the Orkney Islands, and placed an earl in
charge of them. Many of the fleeing Northmen then sailed northward with
their goods and men and settled in _Iceland_, where they established a
free state, which existed for nearly 400 years.

Earl Ragnvald (Morejarl) was King Harald's dearest friend, and the king
had great regard for him, but he did not allow that to excuse a crime
committed by his son. Ragnvald had a son by the name of Rolf, who was
so stout and strong that no horse could carry him, and therefore he was
called Gange-Rolf, or Rolf the Walker. He went early on viking cruises
to the shores of the Baltic Sea. One summer, on his return from one of
his expeditions, he made _strand-hug_ in Viken. (Strand-hug was a foray
for cattle to provision the viking ships.) Harald had declared this a
great crime, and when he heard what Rolf had done, he called an extra
session of the Thing, and had Rolf declared an outlaw in all Norway.
Gange-Rolf, however, did not remain in Norway, but sailed westward
to the Sudreys, the present Hebrides, and afterward joined the army
of vikings, which, in the year 885, went to France and plundered the
country around Paris and the province of Bourgogne. The Frenchmen made
a compromise with the vikings, and for some years they spared the
French coasts, but later Gange-Rolf returned with a great number of
vikings, and finally compelled the French king, Charles the Simple, by
the peace of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte to cede to him and his successors a
large province, which he peopled with Northmen, and which, therefore,
was afterward called Normandy. The French king also promised to let
him marry his daughter Gizela if he would adopt Christianity. This
Rolf agreed to, and he was baptized in the year 912, being christened
Robert. He ruled his new country well, and died in the year 931. From
him descended the mighty earls of Normandy, who in time conquered the
kingdoms of England and Naples.

King Harald had many sons, and as they grew up they created a great
deal of disturbance in the country. They had come from such different
stock on the maternal side, and had been brought up so far from
each other by rich peasants in different parts of the country, that
brotherly feelings were little known to them. They became jealous of
each other, and also jealous of the many mighty earls. They drove some
of the earls from their estates, and even killed some of them. Thus
two of the brothers set out one spring with a great force to attack
Ragnvald, Earl of More, surrounded his house and burned him with sixty
of his men.

Hoping to avoid further domestic disturbances, Harald called together a
_Thing_ at the Eidsiva Thing-place (the present Eidsvold), and summoned
to it all the people of the Uplands. Here he gave to all his sons the
title of king, and proclaimed a law that his descendants in the male
line should each succeed to the title and dignity of king; but his
descendants by the female side were to become only earls. He divided
the country among his sons, but his dearest son, Erik, who was his son
by the Danish Princess Ragnhild, and thus of royal birth on both sides,
was to be acknowledged as their overlord. This the other brothers
did not like, and the result was bloody conflicts. Erik first killed
Ragnvald Rettilbeine, the ruler in Hadeland, because he was said to be
a sorcerer. Next he attacked his brother Biorn, who generally lived at
the trading-place Tunsberg, and who was called Biorn Farmand, or Biorn
the Merchant, because he cared little for war, but more for trading
expeditions. As he refused to pay tribute to Erik, the latter attacked
and killed him, and plundered his house. King Biorn lies buried in the
Seaman's Mound (Farmandshaugen) at Sæheim (in the present Sem's parish)
in Jarlsberg. Halfdan the Black, who ruled in Throndhjem, resolved to
avenge his brother Biorn's death, and collected a great force of men
and ships. Erik sought the aid of his father Harald, who also equipped
a fleet and took up a position at Rein-plain on the north side of the
Throndhjem Fjord; but now friends of both interceded in order to bring
about a reconciliation. In Halfdan's army there was a clever man called
Guthorm Sindre, who had formerly been in the service of Harald, and
was a great friend of both. He was a great skald (poet), and had once
composed songs about the father and the son, for which they had then
offered him a reward. He would take nothing at the time, but was given
the promise that, some day or other, they should grant him any request
he should make. He now went before King Harald with words of peace,
and made the request that the kings should become reconciled. And the
Saga adds: "So highly did the king esteem him that, in consequence of
his request, they were reconciled."

When Harald the Fairhaired was eighty years old, he became very weak
and unable to bear the burden of the government. Then he brought his
son Erik to his royal high-seat and gave him the power and the command
over the whole land (930). Three years later King Harald died of old
age. He was buried under a mound at Hauge, near Haugesund in Ryfylke.
The gravestone is still to be seen. At the grave a large monument in
memory of Harald was erected in 1872, one thousand years after the
battle of Hafrsfjord.


_Birth of Haakon the Good--Erik Blood-Axe (930-935)_

When Harald the Fairhaired was nearly seventy years old, he begat a
son by Thora Moster-stang (Moster-pole). She was so called because she
was tall, and her family came from the island of Moster. She was very
handsome, and was descended from good people, but was called the king's
servant-girl, for at that time, as the Saga says, "many were subject
to service to the king who were of good birth, both men and women."
Sigurd Ladejarl, or Earl of Lade (near Throndhjem), was a friend of
Thora's family, and when she was about to be confined he brought her in
his ship from Moster northward to Sæheim, where King Harald was then
living. They spent the night at the shore south of the Alv-island, and
here Thora bore her child, on a stone near the ship's gangway. It was
a male child, and Earl Sigurd baptized him in heathen fashion, and
called him Haakon after his own father. The boy soon grew handsome,
large in size, and very like his father King Harald. When the king
felt that he was not going to live much longer, he sent Haakon over to
England to be brought up by the English king, Athelstan, the grandson
of Alfred the Great. King Athelstan had Haakon baptized and brought up
in the Christian faith, and in good habits and all sorts of exercises,
and it is said he loved Haakon above all his relations. He gave him a
sword, of which the hilt and handle were gold; but the blade was still
better, for with it Haakon cut a millstone to the centre eye. The sword
was thereafter called Kvernbite (millstone cutter), and Haakon carried
it to his dying day.

As stated, Erik was proclaimed king by his father in 930. Erik had
early gone out on viking expeditions, and his daring enterprises had
given him the surname Blood-Axe. He was handsome and manly-looking,
but morally weak. He was hated during his father's lifetime, because
he had killed his brother Biorn the Merchant; but still more hated was
his cruel and treacherous queen, Gunhild. She enticed him into killing
several of his brothers, and it began to be the common belief that
Gunhild and Erik were going to remove all his brothers, in order to
secure the whole of the kingdom for themselves and their children. This
plan, however, was frustrated by Haakon, the youngest son of Harald.

When Haakon, Athelstan's foster-son, heard of his father's death, he
immediately prepared to leave England, and was given men and ships
by King Athelstan. He sailed north to Tröndelagen, where he found
the mighty Sigurd, Earl of Lade, who had been his mother's friend and
his guardian in early childhood. Sigurd received him well, and Haakon
promised him great power if he became king. They assembled a great
meeting of the peasants, where Earl Sigurd made a speech and advised
the people to make Haakon their king. Thereupon Haakon arose and made
a speech, which greatly pleased the peasants. They said to each other
that it looked as if Harald the Fairhaired had come back and had become
young again. Haakon promised, in case they would make him their king,
to give them back the udal-right (allodium), which Harald had taken
from them. His speech was so well received that the people cheered
wildly, and with great enthusiasm they proclaimed him their king. He
immediately started southward, and the other districts followed the
example of Tröndelagen and swore allegiance to Haakon.

Erik made a desperate attempt to raise an army, but not succeeding,
he had to leave the country with his wife Gunhild, his children,
and a few followers (935). For some time he harried the coasts of
Scotland and England as a viking, until finally he accepted a portion
of Northumberland from King Athelstan on the condition that he was to
defend the country against Norwegian and Danish vikings. Erik remained
in England under shifting conditions, until he was killed in a battle
in 954. After his death Queen Gunhild had a poem written in his honor,
the so-called Eriksmál, of which a beautiful fragment still exists.
Shortly after Erik's death Queen Gunhild went to Denmark with her sons,
and was well received by the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth (Blaatand),
the son of Gorm the Old. The children of Erik Blood-Axe and Gunhild
were: Gamle, Guthorm, Harald, Ragnfred, Ragnhild, Erling, Gudrod, and
Sigurd Sleva. All the boys were handsome and of manly appearance, but
in character they resembled their mother.


_Haakon the Good (935-961)_

Haakon did a great deal to improve the internal conditions of
the country. He regulated the judicial districts, and gave the
Gulathings-law for the western district, with common Thing-place
at Gula (in Ytre Sogn), and the Frostathings-law for the northern
district, with common Thing-place at Frosten (peninsula in
Throndhjems-fjord). Much was done for the defence of the country
against enemies. The whole coast was divided into _Skibredes_, or
ship districts, each of which was to build, equip, man, and provision
a ship for use in case of war. In order to inform the inhabitants of
the approach of an enemy, King Haakon built _Varder_, or signal fires,
on the highest mountains at proper distances from each other. By the
successive lighting of these signal fires the news of war could be
carried from the southernmost signal-place to the northern end of
Halogaland in seven days. Warning was also to be sent around from house
to house by _Budstikke_ as a signal for the people to assemble. The
_Budstikke_ was a stick of wood like a very heavy cane, with a spike
at the end of it. If the bearer of the message found nobody at home,
he would stick the cane on the side of the door, and the owner of the
house would, on his arrival home, immediately despatch it to the next

King Haakon, who had been brought up in the Christian faith, resolved
to introduce Christianity in Norway, but when he took the preliminary
steps he found no support from his otherwise faithful friend, Earl
Sigurd of Lade, who was an ardent adherent of the Asa-faith. Fearing
to offend the earl, Haakon postponed his effort for a time, until he
thought he had gained sufficient popularity in the country. He then
sent to England for a bishop and other teachers, and announced that
it was his intention to have the whole people embrace the Christian
religion. When he made this announcement to the assembled peasants at
Throndhjem, they declined to commit themselves, and asked to have this
very important matter referred to the Frosta-thing, where it could be
legally settled.

At the Frosta-thing, where a great number of people were assembled,
King Haakon made an earnest speech, in which he said that it was his
command and his prayer to all, rich and poor, young and all, that they
should forsake the old heathen gods, be baptized, and believe in the
one living God, Jesus Christ, the son of the Virgin Mary, abstain from
work every seventh day, Sunday, and fast every Friday. A great murmur
ran through the crowd of peasants, who complained that the king wanted
to deprive them of their work and their old faith, and the mighty
peasant, Asbiorn of Medalhus, arose and made a speech to the king, in
which he said that they had had great faith in him when they chose him
for their king, but now they had made up their minds to part with him
and choose another if they were not left free to retain the religion
they believed in. And the king was told that he must accept one of
these conditions before the meeting was concluded. The king felt that
there was no escape but to yield to the peasants, and Earl Sigurd of
Lade, who had all the time been near the king, arose and said: "King
Haakon is willing to acquiesce in your wishes, peasants. Never will he
give up your friendship." Encouraged by this the peasants afterward
made the king participate in their heathen sacrifices, and the king was
obliged to give up the attempt to introduce Christianity in Norway.

King Haakon soon afterward had to meet other demands upon him, when
the southern parts of the country were attacked by the sons of his
brother Erik, who, after their mother, were called the Gunhild-sons.
Several times Haakon defeated the invaders, and after one great battle
they stayed away for six years. Finally, in the twenty-sixth year of
Haakon's reign, while he and his men were enjoying a feast at Fitje on
the island Stord in Hordaland, the enemy appeared again with a great
naval force. Although greatly outnumbered by the enemy, Haakon's men
won the battle, and the aggressors were obliged to flee to their ships;
but when Haakon pursued them without his coat of mail, he was hit in
the armpit by a deadly arrow and received a wound from which he died,
after being brought, shortly after the battle, to "Haakon's Rock,"
where he had been born. Before he died he requested his friends to
send a ship after the sons of Gunhild, with the message asking them to
return and assume the government, giving due respect to his adherents.
He himself had no sons, and his daughter Thora could not, according to
the law, succeed to the throne. Haakon was deeply mourned by friends
and foes, and all said that Norway would never again get such a good
king. The poet Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed a poem in his honor,
the Haakonarmaal, in which he praised his virtues and described his
reception in Odin's Valhalla.


_Harald Grayfell and his Brothers (961-970)_

The Gunhild-sons (or Eriks-sons) immediately returned to Norway
when they received the message that Haakon the Good had named them
as heirs to the throne. The oldest one, Harald Grayfell (Graafeld,
so named after having once worn a gray fur robe), was considered as
chief king, but their mother Gunhild was in fact the chief ruler. They
were penurious and cruel, and soon became widely hated. There were
many chiefs in the country at that time. Trygve Olafson, a grandson
of Harald the Fairhaired, ruled in Viken, or the country around the
Christiania Fjord; his cousin Gudrod, son of Biorn the Merchant, was
chief in Westfold, and Earl Sigurd of Lade ruled the country around
Throndhjem. Gunhild's sons at first resided mostly in the middle of the
country, but soon laid plans to obtain more power. By great promises
they bribed Griotgard, a brother of Earl Sigurd, to send them word when
there might be a favorable opportunity to attack and kill the earl.
This plan succeeded. Having been notified by Griotgard that Earl Sigurd
was at a feast at Oglo in Stjoradal and had but few men with him, King
Harald Grayfell and his brother Erling surrounded the house at night,
set fire to the building, and burned the earl and all his men.

When the people heard of Earl Sigurd's death, there was a great
uprising. They gathered a large fleet, and, after having proclaimed
Sigurd's son, Haakon, as their earl and commander-in-chief, they
steered out of the Throndhjem Fjord, intent upon taking vengeance.
When Gunhild's sons heard of this, they fled southward to Raumsdal and
South More. Some time afterward the Gunhild-sons attacked and murdered
Trygve Olafson, king in Viken, and Gudrod Biornson, king in Westfold.
Harald Grayfell hastened to Trygve Olafson's home, hoping to be able to
exterminate the whole race; but Trygve's widow, Astrid, had fled with
her foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg.

Gunhild's sons collected a great army in Viken and sailed northward,
collecting men and ships on the way from every district for the purpose
of fighting Earl Haakon. When Earl Haakon heard of this, he also
collected men and fitted out ships, but when he ascertained the size of
the approaching fleet, he sailed with a few men south to Denmark, where
he was well received by King Harald Bluetooth (964). Gunhild's sons
brought their army north to Throndhjem, and subdued the country and
collected taxes, of which they had received none while Earl Haakon was

In Denmark Earl Haakon laid some deep plans to obtain power again. A
nephew of King Harald Bluetooth, called Gold-Harald, had returned home
and demanded half of the kingdom. As the king had no desire to yield to
his demand, but still feared Gold-Harald's influence with the people,
Earl Haakon advised him to get Norway for his nephew instead. He was
to invite the Norwegian king, Harald Grayfell, on a friendly visit to
Denmark, and then have Gold-Harald kill him. Afterward it would be easy
to take Norway on account of the very hard times prevailing there, and
the great unpopularity of the Gunhild-sons. The plan was followed; but
when Gold-Harald had killed Harald Grayfell, he was in turn attacked
and killed by Earl Haakon. Soon after King Harald Bluetooth sailed for
Norway with 720 ships. He had with him Earl Haakon, 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. They won the
country without resistance, and King Harald installed Haakon as earl
of the northern and western parts of the country. The earl was to pay
certain taxes to the king and help him with armed men in case of war.
The king retained for himself the country around Viken, and left Harald
Grenske there as his representative.

The two surviving brothers, Gudrod and Ragnfred, fled with their
mother, Gunhild, to the Orkneys.


_Earl Haakon (970-995)_

Earl Haakon subdued all those parts of the country belonging to his
dominion, and remained all winter (970) in Throndhjem. As he proceeded
along the coast he ordered that in all his dominions the heathen
temples and sacrifices should be restored, and continued as of old.
The people thought they soon had proof that the gods were pleased with
Haakon's action, for, according to the saga, "the first winter that
Haakon 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," while for several years previously dearth and hard times
had prevailed.

Earl Haakon waited for an opportunity to repudiate his obligations to
the Danish king, and it came in time. In 973, when Otto II. became
emperor of Germany, King Harald Bluetooth prepared himself for war in
order to resist the emperor's claim to sovereignty over Denmark, and
in 975 he ordered Earl Haakon to come to his aid with all the forces
it was possible to raise. Haakon complied with the request, and for
a time successfully fought the Germans. But when he had boarded his
ships and prepared to sail homeward, the emperor returned for a second
attack, and soon compelled the Danish king to make peace. King Harald
Bluetooth agreed to introduce Christianity both in Denmark and in
Norway. He sent for Earl Haakon and made him accept baptism and promise
to introduce Christianity in Norway. Priests were sent with him to help
him with this work. Haakon set sail with the priests on board; but no
sooner did he get a favorable wind than he put the priests ashore, and
sailed away. From now on he considered himself the sworn enemy of the
Danes. He steered through the Sound, and harried the coasts on both
sides. At the coast of East Gautland he made a great heathen sacrifice.
Thereupon he burned his ships and marched through the country with his
men. He defeated Earl Ottar, the ruler in Gautland, and continued his
march through Smaaland and West Gautland to Norway. He again took up
his residence in Throndhjem.

King Harald Bluetooth was greatly incensed at Earl Haakon's action, and
decided to take an awful revenge. He collected a great fleet, which he
brought to Norway. He burned and destroyed the settlements and killed a
great number of people wherever he came. In Lærdal in Sogn, it is said
that only five dwellings were left unburned. The inhabitants fled to
the woods with such movable goods as they could save. As soon, however,
as it was reported that Earl Haakon was coming southward with a fleet,
King Harald lost his courage, set sail, and returned to Denmark.

When Harald Bluetooth died (985), his son Svein, who afterward was
given the surname Tjuguskeg (Fork-beard), became king of Denmark. He
instigated the Joms-vikings to make war on Earl Haakon. These vikings
were Danes, who lived at Jomsborg, Pomerania, on the island Wollin
or Jom, at the mouth of the river Oder. They were very powerful and
warlike, and had very strict laws. No one could join their company who
was older than fifty or younger than eighteen years, and no woman was
permitted to enter their burgh. They considered it a disgrace to show
fear or to complain of pain. Earl Sigvald (Sigvalde Jarl), a son of
King Strut-Harald of Scania (Skaane, in the southern part of Sweden),
was chief of the Joms-vikings at this time. King Svein of Denmark
invited these vikings to a great feast in memory of his father, and
as Earl Sigvald's father had fallen about the same time, he suggested
that they should also drink his "funeral-ale." The Joms-vikings came
to the festival with their bravest men, forty ships of them from
Vendland (Pomerania), and twenty ships from Scania. All the guests
drank a great deal, and there was great gayety in the hall. According
to old custom on such occasions they made solemn vows, in emptying the
drinking-horns. King Svein, in drinking to his father's memory, made
the solemn vow, that before three winters were past he would go with
his army to England and conquer King Ethelred. The guests also drank
Christ's health, and a bowl to the memory of Saint Michael. Thereafter
Earl Sigvald drank to his father's memory, and made a vow, that before
three winters came to an end he would go to Norway and either kill Earl
Haakon or chase him out of the country, and the other Joms-vikings
vowed that they would go with Earl Sigvald to Norway and share in the
fight. The next morning, when they had slept off their drink, they
thought they had promised rather much, and, in order to find Earl
Haakon unprepared, they sailed away on their expedition at once.

When Earl Erik, the son of Haakon, who was then in Raumarike, heard
of the festival and of the vows of the Joms-vikings, he immediately
gathered his men, and went to the Uplands, and thence over the
mountains to Throndhjem, and joined his father, Earl Haakon. They
immediately sent warnings around, and sent messages to North More and
South More, and to Raumsdal, and also north to Namdal and Halogaland,
summoning all the country to furnish men and ships. Earl Haakon went
with an army to South More, and Erik was to follow with what army he
could collect from the north.

Meanwhile, the Joms-vikings sailed slowly northward, plundering the
coasts. Christmas night they were at Jæderen. At Hjorungavaag (on the
island Hareidland in South More) they met Earl Haakon and his sons
Erik, Svein, Sigurd and Erling. The earl had 180 ships and boats, fully
manned and equipped, and the Joms-vikings had 60 ships. A bloody and
fierce battle followed, probably the greatest that had ever taken place
in Norway. At first the advantage was on the side of the Joms-vikings,
and Earl Haakon was hardly pressed. So many spears were thrown against
him that his armor was split asunder, and he threw it off. It is said
that Earl Haakon then sacrificed his young son Erling to the gods in
order to gain victory. A great hailstorm arose, and the Joms-vikings
were defeated, but only after a most desperate fight. Earl Sigvald
turned and fled with some of his ships; but many of his men preferred
to fall in battle. Haavard the Hewer (Huggende) stood on his knees and
fought, after both his feet had been cut off. One of the champions, Bue
the Thick (Digre), received a terrible cut that took away his under-lip
and chin, and, seeing that resistance was in vain, he took a chest
full of gold in each hand and shouted: "Overboard, all Bue's men,"
and jumped into the sea. After the battle the dead were ransacked by
Haakon's men, and the booty brought together to be divided; and there
were twenty-five ships of the Joms-vikings in the booty.

While Earl Haakon ruled over Norway there were good crops in the
land and peace internally among the peasants. The earl, for a long
time, was therefore well liked; but later he became proud and much
given to debauchery. According to the saga, he would go so far as to
have the daughters of people of high station brought home to him,
and after keeping them a week or two send them home in shame. The
people therefore began to murmur loudly, and finally they rose against
him. Early in the year 995 Earl Haakon was at a feast at Medalhus in
Gauldal. There was a mighty peasant in the neighborhood, by name Orm
Lyrgja, who had a wife called Gudrun, a daughter of Bergthor of Lundar.
She was called the Lundar-sun, because she was so beautiful. The earl
sent his slaves to Orm, with the errand that they were to bring Gudrun
to the earl. Orm first invited the slaves to take supper, and while
they were eating and drinking he sent word around to all his neighbors,
and soon had so many gathered at his house that he could refuse to let
his wife be taken away. The slaves departed with many threats; but Orm
sent out messages to all the neighboring country, and soon a large body
of armed men were marching toward Medalhus where Haakon was. With a
single thrall (slave) called Kark, who had been with him since boyhood,
Earl Haakon fled across the Gaula River, rode his horse into a hole,
and left his cloak behind on the ice, in order to make his pursuers
believe that he had been drowned. Then he went to the estate of Rimul,
where one of the earl's mistresses, Thora, lived, and asked her to hide
him for a few days until the army of the peasants had dispersed. They
went to a swine-sty, where Kark dug a deep hole and covered it with
boards. The earl and Kark went into the hole, and Thora covered it, and
threw earth and manure over it, and drove the swine upon the top of it.

Olaf Trygvason had just then arrived in the country, and when the
peasants heard he was of the family of Harald the Fairhaired, they
flocked around him and hailed him as their king. Then they all set
about hunting for Earl Haakon. At Rimul they looked everywhere for him
without finding him. Then Olaf held a House-Thing or council out in the
yard, and stood upon a great stone which lay beside the swine-sty, and
made a speech to the people, in which he promised rewards and honors to
the man who should kill the earl. This speech was heard by the earl and
the thrall Kark.

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

"By no means," replied Kark.

"We were both born on the same night," said 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 had been dreaming.

Kark answered: "I was at Lade, and Olaf Trygvason was laying a golden
ring about my neck."

The earl then said: "It will be a bloody 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."

Then they both kept awake, evidently mistrusting each other. But toward
morning the earl dropped asleep. Then Kark killed him, and cut off
his head, and hastened to Olaf Trygvason with it, but Olaf had the
faithless thrall decapitated. Earl Haakon was fifty-eight years old at
his death, in February, 995.


_The Youth of Olaf Trygvason_

When the Gunhild-sons had killed Trygve Olafson, king in Viken (the
grandson of Harald the Fairhaired), in 963, Trygve's widow Astrid fled
with her foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg. Astrid was pregnant with
a child of King Trygve, and she went to a lake and concealed herself
on a small island with a few followers. Here she gave birth to a boy,
and she called him Olaf, after his grandfather. She remained there
all summer, but when the nights became dark, and the days began to
shorten and the weather to be cold, she travelled further with Thorolf
and a few others until she reached Ofrustad, where her father, Erik
Biodaskalle, lived, and they remained there during the winter. But in
the spring spies were sent out by Gunhild to find the boy, and Astrid
had to flee again with her son. She proceeded eastward, and at last
came to her father's friend, Haakon the Old, in Sweden, where she and
her son remained a long time and were well treated. When Gunhild heard
that Astrid and her son Olaf were in Sweden, she sent ambassadors
to the king of Sweden with the request that the king assist them in
getting hold of Olaf Trygvason, to bring him back to Norway, where
Gunhild would bring him up. Astrid then determined to go with her son
to Gardarike, or Russia, where she had a brother, Sigurd Eriksson, who
held a high position there. Olaf was then three years old. As they
sailed out into the Baltic, however, they were captured by vikings from
Esthonia, who made booty both of the people and their goods, killing
some, and taking others as slaves. Thorolf, whom they considered too
old for a slave, was killed. Olaf was separated from his mother, and
an Esthonian took him and a son of Thorolf as his share of the booty.
The boys were sold for a stout and good ram, and a third man, called
Reas, afterward bought Olaf for a good cloak. Olaf remained with Reas
in Esthonia for six years (967-972), was treated well, and was much
beloved by the people.

Sigurd Eriksson, the brother of Astrid, happened to come to Esthonia
to collect taxes for King Valdemar (or Vladimir), king in Novgorod,
Russia. In the market-place he saw a very handsome boy, and as he could
see that he was a foreigner, he asked him his name and family. The boy
answered that his name was Olaf, that he was a son of Trygve Olafson,
and that Astrid, a daughter of Erik Biodaskalle, was his mother. Sigurd
thus discovered that the boy was his sister's son, and he bought him,
and took him with him to Novgorod, He at first said nothing to the boy
about their relationship, but treated him well. Olaf was then nine
years old.

One day Olaf was in the market-place, where a great many people were
assembled. There he saw and recognized Klerkon, who had killed his
foster-father, Thorolf Lusarskeg, on the journey from Sweden. Olaf had
a little axe in his hand, and with it he clove Klerkon's skull, and
then he ran home and told his uncle Sigurd what he had done. Sigurd
immediately took Olaf to Queen Allogia, told her what had happened,
and begged her to protect the boy. The queen took a liking to the boy,
paid the fine for the manslaughter he had committed, and induced King
Valdemar to admit him to his court, where he was brought up as a king's
son. Olaf remained with King Valdemar nine years (973-981).

At the age of eighteen Olaf was given ships by King Valdemar and
set out on viking cruises. After a plundering visit to the island
of Bornholm he came to Vendland (Pomerania), where he married Queen
Geira, the daughter of King Burislav, and subdued the countries which
had formerly belonged to her dominions, but had lately failed to pay
her taxes. Every summer he made viking cruises, and in the winter he
stayed with Queen Geira. Olaf had been three years in Vendland when
Geira was taken sick and died. His grief was so great that he could
not afterward stay in Vendland. He then provided himself with warships
and made viking cruises to Denmark, England, Northumberland, Scotland,
the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, and western France. On returning from
France he was driven by a storm to the Scilly Isles, where he and all
his men were baptized in the Christian faith. Afterward Olaf came to
England, and married Princess Gyda, a daughter of the Irish king Olaf
Kvaran. The English annals contain many references to Olaf Trygvason,
and name him as chief of a fleet of nearly 400 ships which, in the
year 991, harried the east coast of England and won a great battle,
after which the Englishmen were compelled to pay him 10,000 pounds in
silver. Three years later he again attacked the coast of England, and
the English king, Ethelred, had to beg for peace and promise to pay him
16,000 pounds in silver. Olaf and his army went into winter quarters
in Southampton. Soon afterward King Ethelred invited him to his home;
Olaf accepted the invitation, and the two became good friends. During
his stay with the king, Olaf was confirmed, and King Ethelred himself
became his sponsor and gave him many precious gifts. Olaf, for his
part, made a solemn vow that he would never again attack the coasts of
England, a promise which he appears to have kept.

Early in the year 995 Olaf proceeded to Norway, and arrived at
Throndhjem just when the peasants had risen against Earl Haakon. They
made him their chief, and when the earl was dead, and his sons had
fled, Olaf Trygvason became king of Norway.


_Olaf Trygvason_ (995-1000)

Olaf Trygvason was twenty-seven years old when he came to Norway.
At a general Thing at Throndhjem the people elected him king of all
Norway, as Harald the Fairhaired had been, and in return he promised to
enforce law and justice. The following spring and summer Olaf travelled
through the whole country, to the southernmost part of Viken, and
everywhere he was hailed as king, even by the chiefs in the Uplands and
in Viken, who, during the reign of Earl Haakon, had at least nominally
acknowledged the suzerainty of the Danish king. In the Uplands the
petty kings, who were descendants of Harald the Fairhaired, were
allowed to retain their possessions on the old conditions.

Olaf had decided, before he left England, to introduce Christianity
in Norway, and he found it advisable to commence this work in Viken,
where he had many of his relatives and warmest friends. Here was the
rich and influential Lodin, who, some time before, had married Olaf's
mother Astrid. His mother's brothers and two brothers-in-law of Olaf
were also mighty people in that part of the country. Another reason for
starting the work here was that a good many had already adopted the
Christian faith under the influence of missionaries from Germany and
Denmark. During his stay in Viken, Olaf called his relatives together
and informed them of his intention to convert the whole of Norway to
the Christian faith. He would accomplish that, he said, or die in
the attempt. But he promised to make his relatives great and mighty
men if they would support him with all their power. This they agreed
to do, and as the most powerful men among the people had now acceded
to King Olaf's request, the others followed their example, and all
the inhabitants of the east part of Viken allowed themselves to be
baptized. Greater opposition was met in the north part of Viken (around
"Folden"), where Christianity had not had so many former adherents. But
Olaf would tolerate no opposition; those who opposed him he punished
severely, killing some, mutilating others, and driving some into
banishment. During that summer (996) and the following winter all Viken
was made Christian.

The next spring King Olaf christianized Agder. He met no opposition
until he came to Hordaland, where there were many mighty men. They met
him fully armed at a public assembly, ready to resist; but after he had
made his speech entreating them to accept Christianity, but adding that
those who would not submit must expect punishment, their courage failed
them, and all the people present were baptized before the assembly
was dissolved. King Olaf then went with his men to the _Gula-Thing_,
where one of the chieftains asked of the king, as a sign of goodwill,
that he give his sister Astrid in marriage to their relation, Erling
Skialgson of Sole, whom they looked upon as one of the most hopeful men
in the country. This the king readily acceded to, since Erling was a
man of good birth and fine appearance. Erling Skialgson and Astrid were
married in the summer, and the king, who was present at the wedding,
at his departure invested Erling with all the land north of the Sogne
Fjord and east to the Lidandisnes, on the same terms as Harald the
Fairhaired had given land to his sons.

After having christianized the people of Sogn, South More, Raumsdal and
North More, King Olaf, after a year's absence, returned to Throndhjem.
At Lade he had the great heathen temple razed to the ground, took all
the ornaments, and burned the temple with all the images. When the
people heard of this they sent out war-tokens and collected a great
force, with which they intended to attack the king. In the meantime
Olaf sailed with his men out of the fjord along the coast northward,
intending to proceed to Halogaland and baptize there. But when he came
out to Bjarnaurar (Björnör), 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 Thiotta, Thorer Hiort from Vagar, and Eyvind
Kinrifa. At the same time he learned that the peasants in Throndhjem
had now dispersed. He therefore turned about and sailed in through the
Throndhjem Fjord again.

In the fall King Olaf laid the foundation of the future city of
Nidaros at the mouth of the river Nid. He built his royal residence at
Skipakrok (the ships' creek), built a church further up, and laid out
building lots for the people. The work was pushed forward with energy,
so that Olaf could take up his residence there in the winter, and by
Christmas the church was also ready.

At the beginning of the winter Olaf summoned the peasants to a Thing at
Frosta, and they came in great numbers, but also well armed. When the
Thing was called to order, the king began in a mild manner to preach
Christianity; but the peasants soon objected, and the mighty Jernskegge
(Ironbeard), who was their spokesman, said that the will of the people
was now, as formerly, that the king should not break the laws. They
wanted the king to offer sacrifice, as other kings before him had done.
If he did not do as they wanted, they would kill him or banish him from
the country. Seeing that the people were in earnest, and had a superior
force present, King Olaf talked to them in a more conciliatory manner,
promised to be present at their midwinter sacrifices, and said that
they could then further discuss the proposed change of faith. This
speech was well received, and the assembly dispersed.

When Yuletide came, Olaf invited all the mighty peasants from Strinden,
Gaulardal, and Orkadal to a feast at Lade. They came, were entertained
in the best possible manner the first evening, and toward morning
became quite drunk. The next day he called a House-Thing, where
his men were present in much greater number than the peasants. He
made a speech, in which he said that at Frosta he had offered them
Christianity, but instead of accepting it they had demanded that he
should offer sacrifice to their gods, as other kings had done. "Now,"
he continued, "if I 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." Thereupon he
selected eleven of the principal men, and 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. As the peasants saw that
resistance was useless, they all submitted to the king's demands. He
spared their lives on the condition that they should be baptized, take
an oath to support the true faith, and renounce all sacrifices to the
heathen gods. They were then baptized, and had to send their sons,
brothers or other near relations as hostages. Later on, King Olaf came
with his men to Mærin, where the people were assembled. He promised to
go into their temple to look at their ceremonies; but while there, he
and his men knocked down and demolished the images of the gods, while
the chief of the peasants, Jernskegge, was killed outside of the temple
by one of the king's men. When the king came outside, he demanded that
the peasants be baptized, or fight with him on the spot, and as their
chief was dead, and there was a superior force against them, they
yielded, were baptized, and gave hostages for their perseverance in the

In this and similar ways King Olaf succeeded in christianizing, in
name at least, practically the whole of Norway. Christianity was also
introduced in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Orkneys.

Queen Sigrid the Haughty (Storraade), widow of King Erik of Sweden,
resided on her large estates in Gautland and wielded a great influence.
Her son, Olaf the Swede, besides being king of Sweden, also ruled
over Denmark, whence Svein Tjuguskeg had been expelled. Many were her
wooers, but she had so far rejected all, and she even caused two of
them, her foster-brother Harald Grenske and the Russian king Vsevolod,
to be killed, by being burned in their lodgings, in order, as she
said, to make petty kings quit courting her. Olaf Trygvason evidently
thought that it would strengthen him if he could marry Sigrid, and sent
messengers to her with a request for her hand. They were well received,
and it was agreed that Olaf and Sigrid should meet at Konungahella, at
the boundary line between Norway and Sweden, early in the spring. King
Olaf sent Queen Sigrid as a gift the great gold ring he had taken from
the heathen temple at Lade. She was greatly pleased with this ring, and
had it passed around in her hall to be admired. When it came to her two
goldsmiths they shook their heads, and upon being pressed, pronounced
the ring false. The queen ordered the ring to be broken into pieces,
and it was found to be copper inside. Sigrid became very angry, and
said that Olaf would probably deceive her in more ways than this one.

Early in the spring Olaf met Queen Sigrid at the appointed place, and
it seemed that they were coming to an agreement. But when Olaf insisted
that Sigrid should become a Christian and be baptized, she answered:
"I must not part from the faith which I have held, and my forefathers
before me; but, on the other hand, I shall make no objection to your
believing in the god that pleases you best." Then King Olaf became
angry and struck her in the face with his glove, saying: "Why should
I care to have thee, an old faded woman, and a heathen jade?" Greatly
enraged Sigrid cried: "This may some day be thy death." Thus they
parted. The king set off to Viken, and the queen returned to Gautland.

King Olaf unexpectedly met a new bride. The Danish king, Svein
Tjuguskeg, had compelled his sister Thyra to marry King Burisleif of
Vendland;[1] but Thyra had been with this heathen and dissolute husband
only a week when she fled back to Denmark, and afterward, in order to
avoid her brother, went to Norway, where she met King Olaf. "Thyra was
a well-spoken woman," says the saga, "and the king had pleasure in her
conversation." He also saw that she was a handsome woman, although she
can not have been very young at that time, and the result was that they
were married, much against the wish of Svein Tjuguskeg.

[1] Vendland, or Vindland, the country inhabited by the Vends, seems to
have included Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and Prussia on the Baltic.

Shortly after this Sigrid the Haughty married Svein Tjuguskeg, who, by
this relationship with King Olaf the Swede, recovered back his kingdom,
Denmark. Their family connections also included the two sons of the
late Earl Haakon, Erik, who married Svein Tjuguskeg's daughter Gyda,
and Svein, who married Holmfrid, a sister of Olaf the Swede. Thus the
chain was formed, which for a long time was to have influence on the
destiny of Norway.

Olaf Trygvason and his wife, Thyra, spent the winter after their
marriage at Nidaros (Throndhjem). Queen Thyra often complained, and
wept bitterly over it, that she, who had great possessions in Vendland,
had no property here suitable for a queen, and she entreated the king
to go to Vendland and have her property there restored to her. But all
King Olaf's friends advised him not to undertake such an expedition. It
is told that on Palm Sunday the king was walking in the street, and met
a man with a number of fine angelica roots, remarkably large for that
early season. The king bought one, and brought it home to Queen Thyra,
whom he found crying. He said to her: "See here, queen, is a great
angelica stalk, which I give thee." But she threw it away and said: "A
greater present my father, Harald Gormson, gave to my mother; and he
was not afraid to go out of the country and take what was his; but thou
darest not go across the Danish dominions for that brother of mine,
King Svein." Then King Olaf sprang up, and answered with a loud oath:
"Never did I fear thy brother, King Svein; and if we meet he shall give
way before me!"

Shortly after Easter the king convoked a Thing in the town, and
proclaimed to the people that in the summer he would go upon an
expedition abroad, and announced how many ships and men he wanted
from each district. The king had then just finished a ship which was
larger and more magnificent than any other ship in the country. This
ship was called the "Long Serpent" (Ormen lange). The crew was made up
of picked men of great strength and courage, none of them more than
sixty or less than twenty years of age. The only exception was Einar
Thambaskelfer, who was only eighteen years old. Einar was unusually
strong, and was considered the most skilful archer. He had a bow called
Thamb, which he was wont to make quake; hence his name (Thambaskelfer,
_i.e._, Thamb-quaker). The king himself commanded the "Long Serpent."
His half-brother, Thorkel Nefia, commanded the "Short Serpent," and
his mother's brothers, Thorkel Dydril and Jostein, had the "Crane"
(Tranen), and both these ships were well manned. King Olaf had sixty
ships when he left Norway, and sailed southward through the Sound to
Vendland. With him, on board the "Long Serpent," were Queen Thyra,
his sister Ingibjorg, bishop Sigurd, and several priests. Many of
his friends had joined him on the journey south along the Norwegian
coast, among them his brother-in-law, Erling Skialgson of Sole, who had
a large and well-equipped ship. When King Olaf arrived in Vendland,
he was well received by King Burisleif, his claims to Queen Thyra's
estates were peaceably settled, and he remained there a portion of the

Sigrid the Haughty was Olaf Trygvason's bitterest enemy after their
meeting at Konungahella, when he struck her in the face with his glove.
She urged King Svein much to fight King Olaf, saying that he had the
more reason to do so, as Olaf had married his sister Thyra without
his leave. King Svein finally resolved to attack King Olaf. He sent
messengers to his brother-in-law, King Olaf the Swede, and to Earl
Erik, inviting them to join him with an army, so that they all together
might attack King Olaf Trygvason. He also sent Earl Sigvald to Vendland
to spy out Olaf Trygvason's movements, and by pretending friendship
gain his confidence and lead him into a trap.

Between the island of Rügen and the mainland of the present Prussian
province of Pomerania lies a little island called Greifswalder Oie,
or Svolder, as it was called at that time. Here lay on the 9th of
September, in the year 1000, a fleet of eighty ships. Sixty of them
belonged to the Danish king Svein Tjuguskeg, fifteen to the Swedish
king Olaf, and five to Earl Erik. They lay there waiting for King Olaf
to pass by on his return home from Vendland.

With a light but favorable breeze the Norwegian fleet sailed out of the
harbor, where it had been lying during the stay in Vendland. All the
small vessels, which sailed faster, got out to sea before the others.
Earl Sigvald with his ships remained near the king for a while, and
then sailed ahead telling the king to sail in his keel-tracks, as
he knew best where the water was deepest. The earl, who was informed
of the presence of the Danish fleet, sailed close under the island
of Svolder, and Olaf Trygvason with his remaining eleven large ships
followed. Meanwhile the Danish king Svein, the Swedish king Olaf, and
Earl Erik, gathered their forces and made ready for battle.

When Olaf Trygvason sailed in toward the island, the whole fleet of
the enemy came out against him. When his chieftains saw this superior
force they begged the king to proceed on his way, and not risk a battle
against such odds. But the king, standing high on the quarter-deck of
the "Long Serpent," replied: "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."

King Olaf ordered the ships to close up to each other. The "Long
Serpent" lay in the middle of the line; on one side lay the "Little
Serpent," and on the other the "Crane." King Olaf stood on the
quarter-deck of the "Serpent," high over the others. He had a gilt
shield, and a golden helmet, and over his armor he had a short red
jacket, so that he was easily distinguished from the others. When he
saw the enemy's ships drawing up for battle, he asked: "Who is the
chief of the force right ahead of us?" The answer came that it was King
Svein with the Danish army. The king said; "We are not afraid of these
soft Danes, for there is no courage in them. But who are those on the
right?" He was answered, that it was King Olaf with the Swedish forces.
"Better it were," said King Olaf, "for these Swedes to stay at home
licking their sacrificial vessels,[2] than to come under our weapons.
But who owns the large ships on the other side of the Danes?" "That is
Earl Erik, the son of Haakon," said his men. Then the king said: "He,
methinks, has good reason for meeting us; and from these men we may
expect the sharpest conflict, for they are Northmen like ourselves."

[2] The Swedes were then still heathens.

The battle commenced and became very severe, and many people were
slain. King Svein made a violent attack on the "Long Serpent," but was
soon compelled to retreat. Then Olaf the Swede came up with his fifteen
ships, but he fared no better, and the king himself had a narrow escape
from death. When Earl Erik came up with his ships the fight became most
severe, and a great number of people fell. The men from the smaller
ships soon began to seek refuge on board the "Long Serpent," and at
last all King Olaf Trygvason's ships were cleared of men except the
"Long Serpent." Then Earl Erik brought his ship up to the side of the
"Serpent," and the fight went on with battle-axe and sword.

Einar Thambaskelfer stood at the mast of the "Serpent" and sent deadly
arrows from his bow. He sent an arrow at Earl Erik, 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 had hardly time to ask whose shot it
was, when another arrow flew between his arm and his side, and clear
through a board behind him. Again Einar drew his bow, when it was hit
by an arrow from the enemy and broke in two. "What was it that broke
with such a noise?" cried King Olaf. "Norway, king, from thy hands,"
answered Einar. "Not so," said the king, "take my bow and shoot," and
the king threw his own bow to Einar. Einar took the bow, and drew it
over the head of the arrow. "Too weak, too weak," said he, "is the bow
of the king," and, throwing it aside, he took sword and shield, and
fought desperately.

Finally, after a terrible combat, the earl's men boarded the "Serpent,"
and the few men who were left were killed or leaped overboard. King
Olaf held his shield over his head when he threw himself in the water,
and was drowned. Among the last men to leave the ship were Einar
Thambaskelfer, who was captured in the water, and Thorkel Nefia, who
swam ashore.

King Olaf Trygvason was thirty-six years old when he fell at Svolder.
His widow, Queen Thyra, died shortly afterward from grief.


_The Discovery of America_

During the reign of Earl Haakon a man from Jæderen, called Erik the
Red, being obliged to leave Norway because he had killed a man,
proceeded to the western part of Iceland. Here he committed a similar
offence and was condemned at Thorsnes Thing to banishment. He had
heard that a man called Gunbiorn, son of Ulf Krage, had some time ago
been driven by the storm far westward and had seen a great country.
Erik the Red fitted out a vessel and told his friends that he intended
to find the country Gunbiorn had seen. He took with him a man by the
name of Heriulf Bardson. They found the country (984), and on a visit
later to Iceland Erik the Red gave such a fine description of the new
country that it was called Greenland. A number of colonists returned
with him to the new country, and the foundation of several settlements
were laid. In the summer of 999 Leif Erikson, a son of Erik the Red,
made a visit to Norway, and as he met King Olaf Trygvason he adopted
Christianity, and passed the winter with the king. In the following
spring King Olaf sent Leif Erikson, together with a priest and other
teachers, to Greenland to proclaim Christianity there. Flourishing
colonies, with churches, monasteries, and bishoprics, are known to have
been maintained in Greenland until the end of the fourteenth century.

Biarne Heriulfson, a son of the above-named Heriulf Bardson, while
sailing westward from Iceland in search of his father, met with stormy
weather, northerly winds and fogs, and was driven out of his course.
As he came to different shores, which, from the description he had
received, could not be those of Greenland, he turned around, and,
sailing in a northeasterly direction, finally arrived at his father's
home in Greenland. When telling of his discovery he was much ridiculed
for not having landed and examined the new countries. Leif Erikson
bought Biarne's ship, and with a crew of thirty-five men set out, in
the year 1000, to look for these lands. He came first to a land on
his right as he sailed southward. It had great icy mountains in the
interior and a shore of flat stones. He therefore named the country
Helluland (from the Norse _helle_, a flat stone). He continued his
course southward, and came to another country, which was level and
covered with woods and had a low coast. He called this country Markland
(outfield or woodland). The antiquaries consider Helluland to have
been Newfoundland, and Markland some part of Nova Scotia. Leif and
his party put to sea again with a northeast wind, and after two days'
sailing made land, and came to an island lying on the north side of
the mainland. They entered the channel between the island and a point
projecting northeast from the mainland, and at last landed at a place
where a river which came from a lake fell into the sea. They found
the country very agreeable, and, resolving to winter there, erected
some houses. Leif divided his people into two parties, to be employed
in turns in exploring the country and working about the houses. One
evening it happened that one of the exploring party, a German by
birth, named Tyrker, was missing. They went out to search for him,
and when they met him he told them he had been up the country, and
had discovered vines and grapes, a fruit with which he was acquainted
from his native country. They now occupied themselves in gathering
grapes and cutting vines, and felling timber with which they loaded the
vessel. Leif called the country Vinland. Toward spring they made ready
and sailed away, and returned to Greenland.

In the year 1002 Leif Erikson's brother, Thorvald, fitted out a ship
and sailed southward with thirty men, after consulting with Leif. They
came to Vinland, to the houses put up by Leif, where they remained
quietly all winter, and lived by fishing. In the spring Thorvald sent a
party in the long-boat to explore the country to the south. They found
the country beautiful and well wooded, but with little space between
the woods and the sea, and the strand full of white sand. There were
also many islands, and shallow water. They came back in the autumn to
Leif's houses. The following spring Thorvald sailed with his vessel
eastward, then northward along the land. Outside of a cape they met
bad weather and were driven ashore and broke their keel. They remained
there a long time to repair their vessel. Thorvald said to his men:
"We will stick up the keel here upon the ness and call the place
Keelness."[3] Then they sailed eastward along the country and landed on
a headland, which Thorvald liked so well that he said he would like to
make his home there. On going on board they saw three little hills on
the sandy shore. They went up to them and found they were three canoes,
made of skin, with three natives--or _Skrælings_, as the Northmen
called them--under each canoe. They killed eight of them, while one
made his escape in his canoe. Afterward a great number of the natives
attacked Thorvald's party. They were repulsed, but Thorvald was wounded
by an arrow and died. He was buried on the headland which he had said
he liked so well. His men remained there during the winter, and in the
spring returned to Greenland.

[3] Keelness (old Norse _Kjalarnes_) is supposed by the antiquaries to
be the present Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

In the summer of 1006, an Icelander by the name of Thorfin Karlsefne
came to Greenland, and, in the winter, married Gudrid, the widow of
Thorstein, third brother of Leif Erikson. By her advice he resolved
to undertake an expedition to Vinland and establish a colony there.
In the spring (1007) they set out with three ships, 160 men, and all
kinds of live stock, and sailed to Vinland. Some time after their
arrival there Gudrid bore a son, who was named Snorre. The colonists
occasionally traded with the _Skrælings_, giving them pieces of cloth
and dairy products for their skins; but when they refused to sell them
weapons, the _Skrælings_ became hostile to the settlers and attacked
them repeatedly. These constant hostilities so disheartened the
settlers that they resolved to leave the country, and, after three
years' sojourn in Vinland, Thorfin Karlsefne and his party returned
to Greenland. Another expedition to Vinland was undertaken, shortly
after their return, by Freydis, the illegitimate daughter of Erik the
Red, her husband Thorvald, and two Norwegians named Helge and Finboge.
This party quarrelled among themselves, and Freydis, who is described
as a very bad woman, caused a great number of them to be murdered. The
survivors returned to Greenland in the spring of 1013. The next summer,
Thorfin Karlsefne went to Norway with his Vinland cargo and sold it to
great advantage. He returned to Iceland and bought land there, and,
according to the saga, many men of distinction are descended from him
and his son Snorre, who was born in Vinland.[4]

[4] Accounts of these journeys to Vinland are contained in the
_Flateyar-bok_, or Flatey Codex, an Icelandic manuscript, which takes
its name from the island Flatey, Iceland, where it was preserved. It
was written by two priests between the years 1387 and 1395. The work is
a collection of sagas transcribed from older manuscripts and arranged
chronologically. The book is written on parchment, and is one of the
most beautiful works of penmanship from that time in Europe. It is
known that Christopher Columbus came to Iceland in 1477, on purpose to
gain nautical information, and it would seem next to impossible that
he should not have heard of the written accounts of the discoveries
recorded in the Flatey Codex.


_The Earls Erik and Svein, Sons of Haakon (1000-1015)_

After the battle of Svolder, the three allied princes divided the
kingdom of Norway between them. King Olaf the Swede got four districts
in the Throndhjem country, and the districts of North More and South
More and Raumsdal, and in the eastern part of the country he got
Ranrike from the Gaut River to Svinesund. Earl Erik 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 (Lindesnes, the southernmost point in Norway). The Danish
king, Svein Tjuguskeg, retained Viken, which he had held before, and
Raumarike and Hedemarken. After the division, the Swedish king gave his
Norwegian possessions into the hands of his brother-in-law Svein, the
brother of Earl Erik, on the same conditions as the sub-kings or earls
held such possessions formerly from the chief king. At the same time
the Danish king gave most of his possessions in Norway in fief to Earl
Erik. Thus the two brothers together ruled over a larger territory than
their father, Earl Haakon, had held; but they were not able to wield
the same power. During his whole time, Earl Erik received no taxes from
Rogaland, which Erling Skialgson ruled over with unlimited authority.
The earls Erik and Svein were baptized, and adopted the Christian
faith; but as long as they ruled in Norway they allowed every one to
do as he pleased as to the manner of observing his Christianity. On
the other hand, they upheld the old laws, and all the old rights and
customs of the country. They were popular men and good rulers. Of the
two brothers Earl Erik had most to say in all public matters.

The earls tried to gain the friendship of Olaf Trygvason's old friends,
and in many cases they succeeded. The brave young Einar Thambaskelfer
was won over by their giving him great fiefs in Orkadal, so that he
became one of the most powerful and esteemed men in all the Throndhjem
country. They also gave him their proud sister Bergliot in marriage.
One mighty man, however, they tried in vain to conciliate. That was
Erling Skialgson, the brother-in-law of Olaf Trygvason. He could
not forgive Earl Erik for having joined the Swedes and Danes in an
unexpected attack on Olaf Trygvason and causing his death. He managed
to maintain a firm hold on the dominions his brother-in-law had given
him. If the earls visited a neighborhood where they knew that Erling
was staying, they always took with them a large armed force, and they
never thought of visiting Erling on his estate, Sole. He had with him
never less than ninety free men. If it was reported that the earls were
in the neighborhood, he had two hundred men or more. He never went by
water from one place to another except in a fully-manned ship of twenty
benches of rowers. In the summer he used to make viking cruises in
order to procure means with which to support his many men.

Erling was a good master. At home, on his estate, he always had thirty
slaves besides the many servants engaged in work outside. He gave each
of them a certain day's work; when one of them was through with that,
he had the balance of the day at his own disposal. Each one received a
piece of land to cultivate, and what grain he produced he could sell
and use the proceeds toward buying himself free. The amount needed
for this purpose was fixed by the earl, and it was so low that many
bought their freedom at the end of a year, while all who were at all
industrious could make themselves free within three years. He also
assisted his men after they had become free. Some of them were given
land to clear and cultivate, while others were shown how to conduct the

After the death, in England, of the Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, his
son, Canute (Knut) the Mighty, sent word to Earl Erik in Norway (his
brother-in-law) to come over and help him to conquer England. The
earl immediately called together the mightiest peasants, and in their
presence divided the country between his brother Svein and his son
Haakon. As the latter was only seventeen years old, the earl appointed
his brother-in-law, Einar Thambaskelfer, guardian for him. Thereupon
Earl Erik set sail for England. He met King Canute there, and was with
him when he captured London. He was given Northumberland to govern, and
remained there until his death.

From the short joint reign of Earl Svein and Earl Haakon in Norway
only one event of importance is known. As soon as Earl Erik had left
the country, they effected a reconciliation with the mighty Erling
Skialgson at Sole, who had never been able to forgive Earl Erik for
the assault on Olaf Trygvason, but readily made peace with Svein and
Haakon; and the new friendship was further cemented by Aslak, Erling's
son, marrying Earl Svein's daughter Gunhild (or Sigrid, as the name
is given in another place). One good reason why the earls sought to
strengthen their power by an alliance with the powerful chieftain,
Erling Skialgson, was no doubt the unexpected appearance of a most
threatening enemy, the young pretender to the throne, Olaf, son of
Harald Grenske.


_The Youth of Olaf Haraldson_

Olaf Haraldson, after his death called Olaf the Saint, was the son of
Harald Grenske and Aasta. Harald Grenske, who, as we have seen, at one
time governed Viken under the suzerainty of the Danish king, was the
grandson of Biorn the Merchant--who was killed by Erik Blood-Axe--and
a great-grandson of Harald the Fairhaired. Olaf was born shortly after
the death of his father. His mother Aasta was then staying at the
home of her father, Gudbrand Kula, a mighty man in the Uplands. Soon
afterward, Aasta was married again to Sigurd Syr, who was king in
Ringerike and a descendant of Harald the Fairhaired, and in his house
Olaf was brought up. When King Olaf Trygvason came to Ringerike to
spread Christianity, he induced Sigurd Syr and his whole family to be
baptized, and he acted as godfather at the baptism of little Olaf.

One day, when Olaf was ten years old, King Sigurd wanted to ride out,
and, as there was nobody else about the house, he told his stepson
Olaf to go and saddle his horse. Olaf did not refuse, but he went to
the goats' pen, and put the king's saddle on the largest he-goat, led
him up to the door, and went in and told King Sigurd that his horse
was saddled. When King Sigurd came out and saw what Olaf had done, he
said: "Easy it is to see that thou wilt little regard my orders; and
thy mother will think it right that I do not order thee to do anything
against thy own inclination. I see well enough that thou art far more
proud than I am." Olaf answered little, but went his way laughing.

When Olaf grew up he became of medium height, but very stout and
strong. He had light brown hair, and a broad face which was white and
red. He had particularly fine eyes, which were beautiful, but 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 how to
handle his bow, and was especially an expert in throwing his spear. He
was well liked by his friends and acquaintances, was ambitious in his
sports, and always strove to be the first.

Olaf was twelve years old when, for the first time, he went on board
a ship of war (1007). His mother, Aasta, got Rane, who was called
foster-father of kings, to command the ship and take Olaf under his
charge. The men on board, however, gave Olaf the title of king. With
two ships, Olaf first steered to Denmark and then to Sweden, where he
harried the coasts and fought with vikings. Afterward he made cruises
to Finland, Russia, and Gotland. Later he turned westward to Friesland
and England, where he took part in the fights between the Danes and the
Anglo-Saxons. From the poems of the Skalds it appears that he took part
in the battle of Hringmara (1010), and in the storming of Canterbury
(1012). In company with Thorkel the Tall (a brother of Earl Sigvald) he
entered the English king Ethelred's service, took part in his battles
against the Danish vikings, and accompanied Ethelred on his flight to
Normandy. From here he thought of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land;
but on the way he had, according to tradition, a remarkable dream.
He thought he saw a tall and handsome man, who told him to return to
Norway and take his Udal, adding "for thou shalt be king over thy
country forever."


_Olaf the Saint (1015-1028)_

Leaving his long-ships (battleships) behind him at Northumberland, Olaf
sailed, in the fall of 1015, with two merchant-ships and 120 well-armed
men, across the North Sea to Norway. After a stormy voyage he landed on
the west coast of Norway, near a small island called Sæla. King Olaf
thought this was a good omen, because that word means luck. He sailed
southward to Ulfasund, where he heard that Earl Haakon was south in
Sogn, and was expected north with a single ship as soon as the wind was
favorable. King Olaf then sailed further south, and when he came to
Saudungssund he laid one of his vessels on each side of the sound, with
a thick cable between them. Soon after Earl Haakon came rowing into
the sound with a manned ship; they saw Olaf's ships, but thought they
were only two merchant vessels, and rowed in between them. When the
ship was over the cable, Olaf's men on each side wound it up with the
windlass, so that Haakon's ship upset, and all his men plunged into the
water. Most of them, however, were picked up and taken on board Olaf's
ship; only a few were drowned. Among those saved was Earl Haakon. He
was a very handsome boy of eighteen years, with fair, silken hair,
bound about his head with a gold ornament. When Olaf saw him, he said:
"True it is what has been said of your family: you are handsome people;
but now your luck has deserted you." Haakon replied: "It is always so,
that sometimes one is victorious, and sometimes another. I am little
beyond childhood in years; besides, we did not expect any attack. It
may turn out better with me another time." "But dost thou not fear that
thou art now in such a condition that, hereafter, there will be neither
victory nor defeat for thee?" asked the king. "That all depends upon
thee," said the earl. Olaf then asked what he would give if he were
allowed to go unhurt. The earl asked what he demanded. "Nothing," said
the king, "except that thou shalt leave the country and take an oath
that thou shalt never go into battle against me." Earl Haakon agreed to
this, took the oath, and rowed away with his men. As soon as possible
he sailed over to England, to his mother's brother, King Canute, who
received him well. His father, Earl Erik, whom he afterward joined,
considered his son's oath binding upon him also, and he therefore made
no attempt to win back the lost kingdom, but remained in Northumberland
until his death (1024).

King Olaf now went southward along the coast, holding Things with the
peasants in many places. Many went willingly with him, while others,
who were Earl Svein's relations or friends, refused him allegiance. He
therefore decided first to apply to his relations, the kings in the
Uplands, and see what support he could gain from them for his cause.
He sailed east to Viken, set his ships on land, and proceeded with
one hundred and twenty men up the country to Ringerike, to meet his
stepfather, Sigurd Syr. The story of his reception at his mother's
home, as detailed in Snorre Sturlason's _Heimskringla_, is very
interesting, and gives a vivid picture of the life and customs at the
home of a rich and mighty Norwegian in those days. The main portion of
the description is here given.

As Olaf was approaching Sigurd Syr's home some of the servants ran
ahead to the house. Olaf's mother, Aasta, was sitting in the room, and
around her some of her girls. When the servants told her that King Olaf
was coming, and that he might soon be expected, Aasta immediately got
up, and ordered 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 men
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 in different
directions to invite all the great people to a feast, which she was
preparing as a rejoicing for her son's return. She made all who were in
the house dress themselves with the best they had, and lent clothes to
those who had none suitable.

King Sigurd Syr was in the field superintending the harvest work when
the messengers came to him with the news, and told him all that Aasta
was doing at the house. He had many people with him working in the
field. He probably did not like the interruption of the work caused
by his wife's message, but he dressed himself in the fine clothes sent
him, mounted his horse, and rode home together with thirty well-dressed
men whom he had sent for. As they rode up to the house, Olaf, under his
banner, was seen coming up from the other side with one hundred and
twenty men all well equipped. People were also gathered all around.
King Sigurd saluted his stepson, and invited him and his men to come
and drink with him. But Aasta went up and kissed her son, and invited
him to stay with them, saying that all the land and people she could
furnish would be 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, while King Sigurd got men to take care of their clothes,
and see that the horses were cared for. Then Sigurd went in, and a
great feast was had.

King Olaf had not been at the place many days before he called his
stepfather, King Sigurd, his mother Aasta, and his foster-father Rane
to a conference and consultation. He informed them that it was his
intention to win back from the Danes and the Swedes the land of his
forefathers or die in the attempt. He asked Sigurd to help him, and
give him the best possible advice in the matter. King Sigurd thought
the plan was very risky, but knew from experience that it would be
useless to try to dissuade Olaf from it. He would, therefore, help him
with goods and money; but he would not bind himself to anything more,
before he knew the views and intentions of the other Upland kings.

In the Uplands there lived at that time many descendants from Harald
the Fairhaired. They all bore the title of king, although their
possessions were small. After the death of Olaf Trygvason they had
acknowledged the suzerainty of the Danish king. One of them ruled over
Raumarike, Hadeland and Thoten, another over Valders. In Gudbrandsdal
there was a king named Gudrod, and in Hedemarken two brothers, Rorek
and Ring, were the rulers. With these district-kings Sigurd Syr had
a meeting in Hadeland which King Olaf also attended. Here Sigurd
announced his stepson Olaf's purpose, and asked their aid to accomplish
the plan. He also told of the many brave deeds which Olaf had performed
on his war expeditions.

King Rorek then made a speech against the proposed change. The people,
he said, had had many experiences. When King Haakon, Athelstan's
foster-son, was king, all were content; but when Gunhild's sons ruled
over the country, they became so hated for their tyranny that the
people would rather have foreign kings, who usually left the people to
themselves if only the taxes were paid. When Earl Haakon had succeeded
in establishing himself firmly as a ruler with the help of the people,
he became so hard and overbearing toward them that they could no
longer tolerate him. They killed him, and raised to the kingly power
Olaf Trygvason, who was udal-born to the kingdom, and in every way
well qualified to be a chief. The whole country's wish was to make him
supreme king, and raise again the kingdom which Harald the Fairhaired
had established. But when King Olaf had become secure in his power,
no man could manage his own affairs for him. With the small kings he
was very hard, and collected even greater tribute than Harald the
Fairhaired had done. A man was not even allowed to believe in what
god he pleased. After Olaf Trygvason had been taken away, they had
kept friendly with the Danish king, and had received great help from
him in everything; they had been allowed to rule themselves, and had
experienced no oppression. Rorek was, therefore, inclined to let well
enough alone, and declined to take any part in the proposed plan. His
brother Ring was of a different opinion. He said that even if he only
could keep the same power and property that he held now, he would
prefer to see one of his own race as supreme king rather than a foreign
chief. And if Olaf succeeded in making himself supreme king, those of
them would fare best who had best deserved his friendship. He believed
Olaf to be an honorable man, and if they gave him aid now he would
certainly show his gratitude afterward. He was in favor of giving Olaf
all possible friendship and support. The others, one after the other,
expressed the same opinion, and the result was that the most of them
entered into a league with King Olaf. This league was confirmed by oath.

Thereafter the kings summoned a Thing, and here Olaf explained in a
long speech what claims he had to the throne of Harald the Fairhaired.
He requested the peasants to elect him king, and he promised them
to uphold the old laws, and to defend the country. His speech was
very well received. Then the different kings spoke in support of his
request, and the result was that King Olaf was proclaimed king over the
whole country according to the laws of the Uplands. The king thereupon
proceeded through the Uplands accompanied by three hundred and sixty
men, and from all directions the people flocked to him and hailed him
as their king.

From the Uplands King Olaf hastened over the Dovre Mountain to the
Throndhjem country. It was of importance to come there before the
reports of his proceedings reached Earl Svein, who was about to
celebrate Christmas at Steinker. At Medaldal, in Orkedal, he summoned
the peasants to a Thing, where he requested them to accept him as
king. They were without a leader and did not have sufficient strength
to offer opposition to the king; so the result was that they took the
oath of allegiance. At Griotar he met an army of about eight hundred
men, which had been collected by Einar Thambaskelfer, but had been left
without a leader while Einar went to Gauldal to get more men. Olaf
offered the men peace and law, "the same as King Olaf Trygvason offered
before me," and then presented them with two conditions--either to
enter his service or fight him. The result was that they hailed him as
their king. When Earl Svein heard of this, he fled from Steinker with a
long-ship and proceeded to Frosta. After having reached Steinker, Olaf
again summoned a Thing, and compelled the people to recognize him as
their king. He thereupon sailed to Nidaros, where he made preparations
to celebrate Christmas. Earl Svein and Einar Thambaskelfer meanwhile
gathered an army of 2,400 men, with which they suddenly descended upon
Nidaros. Olaf and his men barely escaped, and fled southward to the
Uplands by the same way they had come. Earl Svein took the Christmas
provisions which Olaf's party had been obliged to leave and then burned
the town of Nidaros.

Olaf spent the winter in the Uplands, and in the spring gathered an
army with which he intended to meet Earl Svein. The kings in Hedemarken
furnished him with many armed men, and his stepfather, Sigurd Syr,
joined him with a great force. During the winter he had built a
ship, which was named "Karlshoved" (Carl's Head, possibly intended
to represent the head of Charlemagne, whose name was held in great
veneration). On the bow of the ship was a crowned head, which the king
himself had carved. With a fine and well-equipped fleet Olaf set out
from Viken, going first to Tunsberg.

Earl Svein in the meanwhile collected a great force in the north. Many
of the chiefs were his relatives and friends, and were able to give him
great assistance. His brother-in-law, Einar Thambaskelfer, was on his
side, and with him many other lendermen (a sort of local governors);
and among them were many who had taken oath of allegiance to King Olaf
the winter before. Earl Svein sailed south along the coast, drawing
men from every district. When they came to Rogaland, Erling Skialgson
of Sole joined them with a considerable force. Svein's fleet is said
to have consisted of forty-five ships, with probably upward of 2,500
men; Olaf hardly had half the number of ships, but his ships were
considerably larger, so that the number of men was probably about the
same. Toward the end of Easter he entered Viken with his fleet and put
in at Nesiar (Nesje), a headland on the east side of the bay (near

On Palm Sunday, March 25, 1016, the two fleets met in battle. Before
opening the battle Olaf had his ships tied together, his own ship,
"Karlshoved," occupying a place in the centre. On this ship were one
hundred and twenty men armed in coats of mail, French helmets, and
white shields, on which was a gilt or painted cross. Olaf had a white
banner on which the figure of a serpent was sewed. The king instructed
his men to defend themselves with the shields in the beginning, and
take care of their lances and arrows, so that they were not thrown
away to no purpose. This advice was followed with good results. When
the conflict had become exceedingly sharp, and the missiles began to
be scarce on the earl's side, Olaf's men were well supplied, and their
attack was very severe. Men fell in great numbers on both sides, but
mostly on the earl's ships. King Olaf with the "Karlshoved" engaged
Earl Svein's ship, and his men were soon preparing to enter it. The
earl, seeing his defeat, ordered his ship cut loose from the others,
and at the last moment his brother-in-law, Einar Thambaskelfer,
succeeded in pulling the ship out of the line of battle from behind,
using his own vessel as a tow-boat. When the earl's ship was gone, the
flight became general. Some of the earl's men fled up the country,
others surrendered on the king's mercy, but Earl Svein and his
followers escaped out through the bay. Svein proceeded to Sweden to
seek the aid of the Swedish king, while Erling Skialgson and some other
chiefs sailed westward and returned to their homes. Earl Svein was well
received by King Olaf the Swede, and it was agreed that next winter
they should proceed with an armed force overland through Helsingland
and Jemteland and down to the Throndhjem country, for the earl depended
upon the faithful help of the people there. The summer was to be spent
in viking expeditions in the Baltic. Svein made a cruise to Russia and
plundered the coasts; in the fall he was taken sick there and died

King Olaf went north after the battle of Nesje, and settled down in
Nidaros, where he rebuilt the royal residence and the church, and
helped the merchants to rebuild the town. After the death of Earl
Svein he was readily recognized by all the people in that part of the
country as the rightful king. The Swedish king became very angry when
he heard that he had lost the possessions in Norway which he had won
by the battle of Svolder, and he threatened to take great revenge upon
Olaf the Big, a nickname which he had given his Norwegian opponent on
account of his stoutness. He sent tax-collectors into Norway, and when
these were harshly treated, some of them even being killed, Olaf the
Swede was highly enraged, and war between the two kings was threatened.
King Olaf made preparations for an emergency, although he much
preferred peace, and even wished to marry the Swedish king's daughter.
He built fortifications on a headland in the river Glommen, near the
falls of Sarpen, and around these fortifications he laid the foundation
of the town of Borg or Sarpsborg. The people on both sides of the
boundary were very much displeased with the feud between the kings,
and on both sides the kings were urged to make peace. The Norwegian
king was willing enough, and sent conciliatory messages to Olaf the
Swede, but the latter rejected all overtures. Finally the matter was
brought to a crisis at a general Thing assembled at the Swedish city of
Upsala. Here the king at first also refused to hear the propositions
for peace, when Thorgny Lagman (lawman, a kind of judge at the Thing)
rose, and made the following speech: "The disposition of Swedish kings
is different now from what I hear it was formerly. My grandfather,
Thorgny, could well remember the Upsala king Erik Eymundson, and used
to tell of him that when he was in his best years he went out every
summer on expeditions, and conquered Finland and Karelen, Esthonia and
Courland and many parts of the eastern country. Even at the present day
the earth-bulwarks and other great works which he made are to be seen.
And yet, he was not so proud that he would not listen to those who had
something to say to him. Thorgny, my father, was a long time with King
Biorn, and well knew his ways and manners. At that time the kingdom was
in great power and suffered no losses. He, too, was sociable with his
men. I also remember Erik the Victorious, and was with him on many a
war expedition. He enlarged the Swedish dominion and bravely defended
it, and with him also it was easy to talk about public affairs. But the
king we now have allows no one to talk with him of anything but what he
himself desires to hear. He wants to have Norway laid under him, which
no Swedish king before him ever desired, and thereby causes many men
to be alarmed. But now it is the will expressed by us peasants that
thou, King Olaf, make peace with the king of Norway, and give him thy
daughter Ingegerd in marriage. If thou wilt reconquer the countries on
the Baltic which thy relations and ancestors had there, we will all
go with thee. But if thou wilt not now consent to what we demand, we
will no longer suffer law and peace to be disturbed, but will attack
thee and kill thee. So our forefathers did when, at the Mora Thing,
they drowned five kings in a morass because they were filled with the
same insupportable pride thou hast shown toward us. Now tell us, in
all haste, which of these two conditions thou wilt choose." The whole
public approved, with clash of arms and shouts, the speech of Thorgny
Lagman. Then the king rose and said he would do as the people desired.
"All Swedish kings," he said, "have done so, and have allowed the
peasants to rule in all according to their will." The murmur among the
people then came to an end, and it was decided that the terms of peace
offered by the Norwegian king were to be accepted, and that Ingegerd,
the king's daughter, was to be married to King Olaf of Norway.

In the meanwhile King Olaf travelled through the country, and
carefully investigated the manner in which Christianity was observed.
Where he found the people lacking in Christian knowledge, he taught
them and furnished them with Christian teachers. If he met with
obstinate opposition, he acted with severity and cruelty. "If any there
were," says the saga, "who would not renounce heathen ways, he took the
matter so zealously that he drove some out of the country, mutilated
others on hands or feet, or stung their eyes out; hanged some, slew
some with the sword; but let none go unpunished who would not serve
God." In this way he proceeded through the country, accompanied by
three hundred and sixty armed men.

King Olaf soon found that Christianity was thriving less the further
he proceeded into the interior. In the Uplands five small kings
came together at Ringsaker, and under the leadership of King Rorek
conspired to kill King Olaf. "But it happened here," says the saga,
"as it usually does, that every one has some friend even among his
enemies." Ketil Kalf of Ringenes, who was present at the meeting of the
conspirators, went down after supper to the lake (Miosen), and boarded
a little vessel which King Olaf had made him a present of after the
battle at Nesje. He had forty well-armed men with him, and rowed in all
haste down the lake. He arrived early in the morning at Eid (Eidsvold),
where he found the king and told him of the intention of the small
kings of Upland. King Olaf immediately gathered his men, sailed north
to Ringsaker, surprised the conspirators, and captured them.

King Olaf now availed himself of the opportunity that chance had given
him, to rid himself of royal rivals who, as descendants of Harald
the Fairhaired, claimed under the law to have as much right to their
possessions as any supreme king, and who had always been in the way
of a national unity. King Olaf now, by one decisive act, secured the
unity and independence of the country, and prepared the way for the
victorious entrance of Christianity.

King Ring and two other kings were banished from Norway, under oath
never to return. Rorek was a treacherous man and could not be depended
upon, so the king ordered both his eyes put out, and afterward
took him with him in that condition wherever he went. He ordered
Gudrod Valley-king's tongue to be cut out, and of the lendermen and
peasants who were implicated in the conspiracy some he banished from
the country, some he mutilated, and with others he made peace. King
Olaf took possession of the land that these kings had possessed. His
stepfather, Sigurd Syr, who had had nothing to do with the conspiracy
of the other small kings, died during the winter (1018), and now Olaf
alone bore the title of King in Norway.

Shortly after his stepfather Sigurd Syr's death, Olaf went to visit
his mother, Aasta, and on this occasion it is told that she took her
boys (half-brothers of Olaf) to show them to the king. King Olaf took
Guthorm on one knee and his brother Halfdan on the other. He made a wry
face at the boys, and pretended to be angry, and they became frightened
and ran away. Then Aasta brought in her youngest son, Harald, who was
then three years old. The king made a wry face at him also, but the
boy only stared back at him. The king then took hold of the boy's hair
as if to pull it, but the boy in return pulled the king's whiskers.
"Thou wilt probably be revengeful some day, my friend," said the king.
The following day Olaf and Aasta were watching the boys at play down
by the lake (at the Tyrifjord). Guthorm and Halfdan had built houses
and barns and had little figures representing cattle and sheep.
Little Harald was down by the water, where he had little chips of wood
floating. The king asked him what they were, and Harald answered that
they were warships. The king laughed, and said: "The time may come,
kinsman, when thou wilt command ships." Then the king called Guthorm
and Halfdan up to him, and asked them what they would like to have
above all. "Fields," answered Guthorm. "And how large?" asked the
king. "I would have that headland yonder sown with corn every summer,"
answered the boy. The headland included ten farms. "There would be a
great deal of corn there," said the king. Turning to Halfdan, he asked
what he would like best to have. "Cows," said Halfdan. "And how many?"
asked the king. "So many that when they came to the lake to drink they
would stand close together around the whole lake," was the answer. "You
both take after your father in wanting a great husbandry," said the
king. "But what wouldst thou have?" he asked Harald. "Men," replied
the boy. "And how many?" "So many that in a single meal they would eat
all of Halfdan's cows," was the answer. The king laughed, and said to
Aasta: "Here, mother, thou art bringing up a king." "And more is not
related of them on this occasion," says the saga; but the prophecy was
fulfilled, for Harald, Sigurd's son, in time became king of Norway.

The Swedish king broke the promises he had given at the Upsala Thing,
and did not send his daughter Ingegerd to the appointed meeting-place
on the boundary, when King Olaf of Norway came to fetch his bride.
Shortly afterward the Swedes revolted, and the Swedish king again had
to make concessions, and promise to make peace with the king of Norway.
The latter had, in the meanwhile, against the wishes of her father,
married Astrid, a younger half-sister of Ingegerd. At the peace of
Konungahella, where the kings finally met, this marriage was approved
by the Swedish king, the boundary lines between the two countries were
finally agreed upon, and friendly relations were established.

After the peace of Konungahella, King Olaf was able to pay more
attention to the domestic affairs of the country. He went north,
and in the fall came to Nidaros, where he prepared to take up his
winter residence. He made careful inquiries as to the condition of
Christianity, and learned to his regret that it was not observed at
all up north, in Halogaland, and was not observed as it should be in
Naumdal and the interior of the Throndhjem country. In the spring
Olaf started on an expedition north to Naumdal, where he summoned the
peasants to meet him, and at every Thing he was accepted as king. He
had the laws read to the people, and threatened them with loss of life,
limbs, and property, if they would not subject themselves to Christian
law. They all promised to obey, and the rich men made great feasts
for the king. Thus he proceeded north to Halogaland, where Harek of
Thiotta, a mighty man of the family of Harald the Fairhaired, after
having made a feast for the king, was made lenderman, and was given the
same privileges he had enjoyed under former rulers. The king remained
most of the summer in Halogaland, went to all the Things, and baptized
all the people. Thorer Hund, who lived on the island Biarkey and was
one of the most powerful men in that northern country, also became one
of Olaf's lendermen. Toward the end of the summer King Olaf sailed back
to Throndhjem.

During his stay at Nidaros the king ascertained that the people of the
interior of the Throndhjem country were still offering sacrifices
to the heathen gods for peace and a good season, and that Olver
of Eggja, a mighty man in that neighborhood, presided over these
sacrifice-feasts, although he had twice assured the king that the
people were loyal Christians. Learning that they were preparing such
a feast at Mæren, the king proceeded to that place one night with
three hundred and sixty armed men, captured Olver of Eggja, and had
him killed together with many others, and severely punished all the
peasants who had taken a leading part in the sacrifices. In this way he
brought the people back to the Christian faith, gave them teachers, and
built and consecrated churches. The widow of Olver of Eggja, who was
young and handsome, of good family, and rich, was given by the king in
marriage to Kalf Arneson, a young favorite among the king's men. The
king also gave him an office, and Kalf thus became a great chief.

In the summer of 1021 King Olaf proceeded to Moere and Raumsdal. In
the fall he left his ships in Raumsdal and proceeded to Gudbrandsdal.
The mightiest man there was Dale-Gudbrand, who ruled over the valley
districts there with the authority of a king, although he did not bear
the title. When he heard that Olaf was approaching, he summoned all the
men in the valley to a Thing, where they decided to resist the attempt
to force Christianity upon them. A force of eight hundred men, under
the leadership of Alf, the son of Gudbrand, was sent against Olaf,
but a battle had scarcely begun when the peasants fled, and Alf was
captured. Then the king was invited to hold a Thing with the peasants,
so they could discuss the proposed change of faith. To the request
of the king that the people should believe in the true God and be
baptized, Dale-Gudbrand replied: "We do not understand of whom thou art
speaking. Dost thou call him God whom neither thou nor any one else
can see? But we have a god who can be seen every day, although he is
not out to-day, because the weather is wet. I expect that fear will mix
with your very blood when he comes into the Thing. Now, since 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 next day when the Thing
had assembled, the weather was such as Gudbrand had desired. Bishop
Sigurd stood up in full vestments, with mitre on his head and crosier
in his hand, and spoke to the peasants of the true faith, and of the
many miracles that God had performed. On the third day the peasants
came to the assembly carrying between them a great image of the god
Thor, which they placed on the green. Dale-Gudbrand then said: "Where
now, king, is thy god? I think he will now carry his head lower; and
neither thou nor thy bishop are so bold to-day as on former days; for
now our god, who rules over all, has come, and looks on you with an
angry eye. And now I see well enough that you are terrified."

The king instructed one of his men, Kolbein Sterke (Kolbein the
Strong), to strike the image with his club with all his might, if in
the course of the king's speech it should happen that all the people
looked in another direction. Then the king spoke to the people, saying:
"Much hast thou talked to us this morning, and greatly hast thou
wondered that thou canst not see our God. But I 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 without being carried; but now I expect that he will soon
come to grief. For turn your eyes toward the east. Behold our God
advancing in great light!" The sun was just rising, and all turned to
look. Immediately Kolbein struck the idol with his club, so that it
burst into many pieces, and out of it ran rats as big as cats, snakes,
and lizards, which had fattened on the good things that had daily
been given to the god. At this the peasants became greatly terrified
and fled. But the king ordered them together again, and urged them to
abandon their worthless heathen gods, and finally he gave them the
choice between accepting Christianity and fighting. Dale-Gudbrand then
arose and said, that since their own god would not help them, they
would have to believe in the king's God and serve him. Then Olaf caused
all the people in the valley to be baptized, and gave them teachers.
Gudbrand himself and his son were baptized by the bishop. Gudbrand
built a church on his estate, and he and Olaf parted as friends.

With the same firm hand King Olaf established Christianity in
Hedemarken and Raumarike. During his stay in Raumarike he assembled
a great Thing at Eidsvold and proclaimed the Eidsiva law for all the

King Olaf succeeded in having Christianity established by law
throughout the whole of Norway. He built many churches and gave
property to them, so that there was at least one priest in each Fylki.
With the assistance of Bishop Grimkell he had a church law adopted. He
also improved the civil laws, and had a fourth _law-thing_ established
for Viken, the Borge-Thing, which had its own law, and was held at the
city of Borg (now Sarpsborg). However, by his cruel way of introducing
Christianity, and his relentless way of enforcing all laws, Olaf
gradually made many enemies; he severely punished all who broke the
laws, whether they were high or low, and one after the other among
the chiefs became unfriendly to him. Among the most dangerous of these
enemies were Erling Skialgson of Sole, Thorer Hund of Biarkey and Harek
of Thiotta.

At this time Canute (Knut) the Great, called by some Canute the Old,
a son of the Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was king of England and
Denmark. Canute claimed the hereditary right to all Norway, and his
sister's son, Earl Haakon, who had held a part of it, appeared to him
to have lost it in disgrace. Many of the discontented Norwegians went
over to England, pretending various errands, and visited Canute the
Great and Earl Haakon, who was staying with Canute. Every one who thus
came was most hospitably received, and were given costly presents. The
young earl listened with pleasure to the complaints of the discontented
about King Olaf's tyranny, and to their appeals for a return of the
former state of affairs. Haakon forgot the oath he had given to King
Olaf, and begged his uncle Canute to try if King Olaf would not
voluntarily surrender the kingdom or at least a part of it. King Canute
then sent magnificently equipped messengers to Norway, bearing his
letter and seal.

King Olaf had come down from the Uplands in the spring (1025) and was
sojourning in Tunsberg, when the messengers of Canute the Great arrived
and made known their errand. "King Canute considers all Norway as his
property," they said, "his forefathers before him having possessed the
kingdom; but as he offers peace to all countries, he will not invade
Norway with an army if it can be avoided. But if King Olaf Haraldson
wishes to remain king of Norway, he must come to King Canute, and
receive the kingdom in fief from him, become his vassal, and pay the
tribute which the earls before him have paid." To this King Olaf
replied: "I have heard that the Danish king Gorm was considered a good
and popular king, although he ruled over Denmark alone; but the kings
who succeeded him were not satisfied with this. It has now come so far
that King Canute rules over Denmark and England, and has also conquered
a great part of Scotland. And still he lays claim to the kingdom I have
inherited. I think he ought to be satisfied with what he has. Does he
wish to rule over all the countries of the North? Will he eat up all
the cabbage in England? He will have to do so before I show him any
kind of vassalage. Bring him this answer: I will defend Norway with
battle-axe and sword as long as life is given me, and will pay tribute
to no man for my kingdom."

Later in the summer the discontented Norwegians in England were
reinforced by Aslak and Skialg, the sons of Erling Skialgson of Sole,
who, no doubt with their father's knowledge and consent, went over to
England and were received by King Canute with open arms.

King Olaf understood the danger that was threatening him and took
measures to protect himself. He had spies out to keep an eye on the
movements of Canute, and in the fall he sent messengers eastward to
Sweden to his brother-in-law, King Anund Jacob, who had succeeded
his father, Olaf the Swede, as king of Sweden, and let him know King
Canute's demands upon Norway, adding that, in his opinion, if Canute
subdued Norway, King Anund would not long enjoy the Swedish dominions
in peace. He therefore thought they ought to unite for their defence.
King Anund received this message favorably, and promised to arrange a
personal meeting with King Olaf in the near future.

In the autumn King Canute the Great came from England to Denmark,
and remained there all winter with a large army. Believing that an
offensive and defensive alliance between Norway and Sweden would be
fraught with danger to his Danish kingdom, he sent messengers to the
Swedish king, in order to win his friendship or at least secure his
neutrality. But, although the messengers brought many costly presents
for King Anund, they were very coolly received, and returned to King
Canute with the information that he could not depend much upon the
friendship of King Anund.

King Olaf spent the winter at Sarpsborg. Early in the spring he and
King Anund met at Konungahella, on the Gaut River, where their alliance
was concluded.

King Olaf set out with his men and raised a levy over the whole
country. All the lendermen in the North followed him except Einar
Thambaskelfer, who remained quietly on his great estate. Olaf sailed
with his fleet south around Stadt, and many people from the districts
around joined him. At Hordaland he heard that Erling Skialgson had
left the country with a great force and several ships, and had sailed
westward to England to Canute the Great. King Olaf proceeded eastward
and then south to Denmark, where he first ravaged the coast of Seeland,
and afterward met King Anund Jacob of Sweden, and with him harried
the coast of Skåne (Scania, then a part of Denmark, now belonging to
Sweden). They proclaimed to the people that they intended to conquer
Denmark, and asked the support of the people for this purpose. Many men
entered the service of the kings, and agreed to submit to them.

When King Canute heard in England that King Olaf had gone to Denmark
with a plundering army, he collected a great force and a large fleet
with which he proceeded to Denmark. Earl Haakon was second in command.
King Olaf and King Anund now sailed eastward, and put up in Helgeaa,
a short but wide river forming the outlet of a number of lakes near
what was then the boundary between Sweden and Denmark. When they heard
that King Canute was coming after them with his great force, they made
preparations to receive him. They dammed up the lake at the head of the
river, so that the water rose to a considerable height in the lake,
while the river was quite low. Then the allies made their ships ready
for battle. When Canute arrived, it was too late in the evening to
begin the battle, and seeing the harbor empty, he entered it with as
many ships as possible. Early in the morning the dam was broken, and
the water rushed with great force down upon Canute's fleet. A good many
people were drowned, and the ships were scattered, some of them in a
considerably damaged condition. However, when the fleet had again been
collected, the allied kings perceived that it was of too formidable
strength to be attacked, and so they withdrew. King Canute, after
having vainly lain in wait for Olaf, and having no special desire for
a war between Denmark and Sweden, sailed away and returned to England.
King Olaf returned overland through Sweden to Norway.

In the following year (1028) Canute the Great returned with a large
fleet to Norway. By a policy of general bribery he had won the
friendship of a great many of the discontented chiefs. The saga says
"that every man who came to him, and who he thought had the spirit of a
man and would like his favor, got his hands full of gifts and money."
He first landed in Agder, where he summoned a Thing and received the
oath of allegiance from the peasants. King Olaf was then in Tunsberg.
Canute sailed northward along the coast, and everywhere he was hailed
as king. In Ekersund Erling Skialgson came to him with many people,
and King Canute and Erling renewed their league of friendship. Canute
then continued his journey until he came to Throndhjem, and landed at
Nidaros. Here a Thing was summoned, at which King Canute was proclaimed
king of all Norway. Thorer Hund and Harek of Thiotta were present, and
the king divided Halogaland between them. The king made Earl Haakon
governor-in-chief of all the land he had taken on this expedition. At
the same time he appointed his son Hardeknut king of Denmark. He gave
Einar Thambaskelfer great gifts, and restored to him the fiefs he had
formerly held.

When King Olaf heard that King Canute had gone south to Denmark he
sailed with a few ships, and as many men as would follow him, up along
the coast. When he came north to Eikundasund (Ekersund), he heard
that Erling Skialgson was ready to meet him with a great force. On
the 21st of December the king sailed out of the harbor, and the wind
being strong and favorable, he sailed past the place where Erling was
with his fleet. Erling soon pursued him, but was separated from his
main force, and when he overtook King Olaf he was met by the whole of
the latter's force. A severe fight began, and many men fell on both
sides; but finally Erling was the only man left on his ship. King
Olaf who, with his men, had entered the ship, called out to him from
the fore-deck: "Thou hast turned thy face straight against us to-day,
Erling." "Face to face shall eagles fight," said Erling. The old man's
courage and manly defence had awakened Olaf's sympathy, and the king
asked him if he would enter his service. "That I will," said Erling.
He took off his helmet, laid down his sword and shield, and went
forward to the fore-deck. King Olaf, who half regretted his kindly
feelings toward the conquered man, gently scratched his cheek with
the edge of his battle-axe, saying: "The traitor to the king must be
marked." Immediately one of the king's men, Aslak Fitiarskalle, rushed
up, and cleft Erling's skull with his axe, saying: "Thus we mark the
traitor to the king." When the king saw the old chieftain lying dead at
his feet he deeply regretted the ill-considered scorn he had uttered,
and said to Aslak: "Ill luck was that stroke; for thou hast struck
Norway out of my hands." Erling Skialgson was sixty-two years old at
the time of his death, and the saga says that he was the greatest and
worthiest man in Norway of all those who had no higher title.

Olaf continued his journey northward, but was soon pursued by Erling's
sons, who had raised a great army. When he heard that Earl Haakon was
also coming against him with an army from Throndhjem, he found himself
compelled to flee from the country. He landed at Valdal and crossed the
mountains to Gudbrandsdal and thence to Sweden, where he left his wife
Astrid and his daughter Ulfhild. Olaf, with his son Magnus and a few
faithful friends, travelled to Russia, where he was well received by
his brother-in-law, King Jaroslav, who had married Ingegerd, the sister
of the Swedish king, Anund Jacob.


_The Battle of Stiklestad (1030)_

In the summer of 1029 Earl Haakon went to England to fetch his bride,
Gunhild, a daughter of Canute's sister. Everything was satisfactorily
arranged, but on his return voyage his vessel foundered, and all on
board were lost.

One of King Olaf's best friends, Biorn Stallare,[5] believing that
Olaf would not return to Norway, had been induced by great gifts and
promises to give allegiance to Earl Haakon and King Canute; but when he
heard that the earl had perished, so that the country was again without
a chief, he greatly regretted that he had failed to be true to King
Olaf, and it seemed to him that there was now some hope that Olaf might
again become king if he came back to Norway. He therefore immediately
journeyed east to Russia to Olaf, and told him of Earl Haakon's death,
and brought him other news from Norway. When the king asked him how
his friends had kept their fidelity toward him, Biorn answered that it
had been different with different people. Then he fell at the king's
feet, and said: "All is in your power, sire, and in God's. I have taken
money from King Canute's men, and sworn them allegiance; but now I
will follow thee, and not part from thee so long as we both live." The
king answered: "Arise, Biorn; thou shalt be reconciled with me; but
reconcile thy perjury with God. I must know that but few men in Norway
have adhered to their fealty to me, when such a man as thou art could
be false to me." Biorn named those who had principally bound themselves
to be his enemies; among them were Erling's sons, Einar Thambaskelfer,
Kalf Arneson, Thorer Hund and Harek of Thiotta.

[5] A _Stallare_ was a very influential officer, a kind of court

Olaf now made preparations for his return to Norway, and shortly after
Christmas started with two hundred and forty men. His young son,
Magnus, was left behind with King Jaroslav in Russia. In Sweden, King
Anund received his brother-in-law well, and gave him four hundred and
eighty picked warriors to go with him. When it was reported in Norway
that King Olaf had come from the east to Sweden, his friends gathered
aid for him in Norway. The most distinguished man in this party was
Harald Sigurdson, Olaf's half-brother, who was then quite young, but
very stout and manly of growth. Many other brave men were there also;
and they were in all seven hundred and twenty men, when they proceeded
eastward through the Eid forest and Vermeland, and met Olaf in Sweden.
Olaf's kinsman, Dag Ringson, collected an army of about 1,400 men, with
which he joined King Olaf.

When King Olaf had crossed the mountain and was descending on the west
side, where it declines toward the sea, and he could see the country
for many miles, he became sad and rode by himself in silence for quite
a while. Finally, Bishop Sigurd rode up to him, and asked him why he
was so silent, and what he was thinking of. The king answered: "Strange
things came into my mind a while ago. As I looked down the valley, it
appeared to me that I was looking over all Norway. It then came into my
mind how many happy days I have had in this country. My vision went
further, until I looked over the whole wide world, both land and sea.
I recognized places where I have been before; but I also saw places
of which I had never heard, both inhabited and uninhabited, as far as
the world goes." Then the bishop dismounted from his horse, kissed the
king's foot, and said: "It is a holy man whom we are now following."

When King Olaf came down into Verdalen, he mustered his force, and he
then had over 3,600 men. Among them were about six hundred who were
heathens, and who refused to be baptized. These men were sent back, as
Olaf would not have any heathens among his warriors.

In the evening Olaf's whole forces took up their night-quarter in
one place, and lay down under their shields; the king lay long awake
in prayer to God, and slept but little. Toward morning he slumbered
for a while, and when he awoke, day was breaking. The king thought
it too early to awaken the army, and asked where the bard Thormod
Kolbrunarskald was. Thormod was near by, and asked what the king
desired. The king said: "Sing us a song." Thormod arose and sang, so
loud that the whole army could hear him, the old Biarkemaal.[6] Then
the troops awoke, and, when the song was ended, the people thanked him
for it, and the king gave him a fine gold ring.

[6] The _Biarkemaal_ is so called because it was composed and sung by
Bodvar Biarke, a Norwegian, who, with Rolf Krake and others, was killed
in battle. Rolf Krake was king in Seeland (Denmark); he had twelve
powerful warriors called _Berserks_ (_i.e._ dressed in bear skins);
among them was Bodvar Biarke. Rolf and his men were attacked during
the night, and the Biarkemaal was then sung to encourage Rolf's men to
fight valiantly for their chief.

The king now led his army further down the valley until he came to
Stiklestad, where he placed his army in battle array against the
peasants' army. The lendermen and peasants had collected a vast army;
it is said to have numbered 14,400 men. When the armies were near
together, Thorer Hund went forward in front of the banner with his
troop, and called out: "Forward, forward, Bonde-men!" The peasants
repeated this war-cry and shot their arrows and spears. The king's men
now raised their battle-cry, and encouraged each other to advance,
shouting: "Forward, forward, Christ-men! cross-men! king's-men!" King
Olaf's army rushed down the hill upon the peasant army with a fierce
assault, and for a moment drove it from its original position; but the
chiefs urged their men forward, and forced them to advance again. The
peasant army pushed forward from all quarters, and the battle became
very severe. Those who stood in front hewed down with their swords;
those who stood next thrust with their spears, while those in the
rear shot arrows, cast spears, or threw stones, hand-axes, or pieces
of timber. Many fell on both sides. When the ranks in front of the
king's banner began to be thinned, he ordered the banner moved forward,
and the king himself followed with a party of chosen men, and placed
himself in the front rank. King Olaf fought most desperately. He hewed
at Thorer Hund, and struck him across the shoulders; but the sword
would not cut, and it was as if dust flew from Thorer's reindeer-skin
coat. Then the king said to Biorn Stallare: "Do thou kill the dog on
whom steel will not bite." (Thorer's surname Hund means dog.) Biorn
turned the axe in his hand, and gave Thorer such a blow with the hammer
of it on the shoulder that he staggered; but the next moment Thorer
ran his spear through the body of Biorn, and killed him, saying:
"Thus we hunt bears north in Finmark." (Biorn means bear.) Thorstein
Knarrarsmid, one of Thorer Hund's followers, struck at King Olaf with
his axe, and the blow hit his left leg above the knee. Fin Arneson
immediately felled Thorstein; but the king, badly wounded, staggered
toward a stone, threw down his sword and shield, 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 abdomen. Still another wound was
given the king on the left side of the neck, and these three wounds
caused the death of King Olaf. He was then thirty-five years old.

The battle had lasted an hour and a half, and was now virtually ended.
Dag Ringson and his men still fought desperately for a while, but
they were soon overwhelmed by numbers and fatigue, and were obliged
to retire. There was a valley through which many fled, and men lay
scattered on both sides; many were severely wounded, and many so
fatigued that they were unable to move. The peasants pursued them only
a short way; for their leaders soon returned to the battlefield, where
they had friends and relatives to care for.

It is said that Thorer Hund went to where King Olaf's body lay, laid
it out on the ground, and spread a cloak over it. He told afterward
that when he wiped the blood from the face it was very beautiful,
and the cheeks were red. Some of the king's blood came on Thorer's
wounded hand, and it healed so speedily that he did not need to dress
it. This was told by Thorer himself when King Olaf's holiness came to
be generally reported among the people; and Thorer Hund was among the
first of the king's powerful opponents who endeavored to spread abroad
the belief in Olaf's sanctity.

Harald Sigurdson, King Olaf's half-brother, was severely wounded at
Stiklestad; but one of Olaf's men brought him to a peasant's house the
night after the battle, and the peasant cared for Harald, and healed
his wound in secret, and afterward gave him his son to attend him.

Some time after the battle, two young men were one day riding across
the mountain to Jemteland in order to reach Sweden. One of them was a
peasant's son from Verdalen, the other a young warrior, the last one of
King Olaf's men who fled from the country. As they were passing over
the ridge, the young man turned to his companion, and sang:

    "The wounds were bleeding as I rode;
    And down below the peasants strode,
    Killing the wounded with the sword,
    The followers of their rightful lord.
    From wood to wood I crept along,
    Unnoticed by the peasant-throng;
    Who knows, I thought, a day may come
    My name will yet be great at home."

It was Olaf's brother, Harald, who was setting out to try his luck in
foreign countries, whence he was to return one day, rich in honors and


_King Svein Alfifuson (1030-1035)_

When King Canute the Great heard that Earl Haakon had been lost in a
shipwreck on his way to Norway, he concluded to put his natural son
Svein on the throne of Norway. Svein's mother was Ælfgifa, a daughter
of an English chieftain in Northampton, but the Norwegians called
her Alfifa and her son Svein Alfifuson. Svein had, a couple of years
before, been appointed by King Canute to govern Jomsborg in Vendland;
but after Earl Haakon's death King Canute sent word to him to proceed
to Denmark and from there to Norway, to take that kingdom in charge and
assume the title of king of Norway. With a number of men from Denmark,
Svein proceeded to Norway together with his mother, Alfifa, and he was
hailed as king at every Thing. He had come as far as Viken at the time
the battle was fought at Stiklestad, where King Olaf fell. He continued
his journey northward until, in the autumn, he came to the Throndhjem
country; and there, as elsewhere, he was received as king.

Svein was very young and inexperienced, and it was his mother who had
most to say in governmental affairs. Together with Bishop Sigurd and
some Danes, whom she had brought with her from Denmark, she commenced
to rule the country in a very arbitrary manner, and the people soon
became greatly discontented. For a time the disaffection smouldered
beneath the surface; but when the foreign rulers proceeded to introduce
a new system of laws, fashioned in accordance with the development of
the feudal system in the rest of Europe, there was a general uprising
throughout the country.

Among the laws introduced in King Svein's name were the following:
No man must leave the country without the king's permission; or if
he did, his property fell to the king. Whoever killed a man should
forfeit his land and movable property. At Christmas every man had
to give the king a certain portion of the products of his farm. The
peasants were obliged to build all the houses the king required on his
farms. For every seven males over the age of five years one man was to
be furnished for the service of war. Every ship that went out of the
country should have storage reserved for the king in the middle of the
ship. Several heavy taxes were provided. And to all this was added a
provision that the testimony of one Dane should invalidate that of ten

When these laws were announced at the Thing in Throndhjem, loud murmurs
were heard among the people. Those who had not taken part in the
uprising against King Olaf said: "Now take your reward and friendship
from Canute and his race, ye men of the interior of Throndhjem who
fought against King Olaf, and deprived him of his kingdom. Ye were
promised peace and justice, and now ye have got oppression and slavery
for your great treachery." This was true, and the chiefs felt it well
enough; but they were afraid of making open rebellion, as many of them
had given King Canute their sons or other near relatives as hostages.

At this time the people began to talk much of King Olaf's sanctity.
There were many rumors of miracles in connection with the dead king,
and it gradually became the general opinion that a great mistake or
rather a crime had been committed by the rebellion against King Olaf.
People began to severely reproach those who had excited opposition to
the king, and among those especially accused was Bishop Sigurd. He got
so many enemies that he found it most advisable to leave the country,
and proceeded to England to King Canute. When Bishop Sigurd had left,
the people of Throndhjem sent word to Bishop Grimkell, desiring him to
come to Throndhjem. King Olaf had sent Bishop Grimkell back to Norway
when he went east to Russia, and since that time Grimkell had been
in the Uplands. He now came north and visited Einar Thambaskelfer,
who received him with open arms. Einar congratulated himself upon not
having taken part in the strife against King Olaf, and was now one of
the mighty men who looked upon the dead king as a saint. Einar and the
bishop obtained King Svein's leave to exhume the body of Olaf. It is
said that they found that the coffin had raised itself almost entirely
to the surface of the earth, and when the coffin was opened they found
that the king's face was red as if he had merely fallen asleep, and his
hair and nails had grown as if he had lived all the time. Grimkell now
declared that King Olaf was truly a holy man, and with the approbation
of the king and the decision of the Thing Olaf was declared the saint
of the nation. His body was transported into Clement's church, where
a place was made for it near the high altar. The coffin was covered
with costly cloth, and stood under a gold embroidered tent. People soon
began to make pilgrimages to the shrine of Saint Olaf, and gradually a
great number of churches were built and dedicated to him, not only in
Norway, but also in other countries.

When King Svein had been three years in Norway, a young man, who called
himself Trygve, and professed to be a son of Olaf Trygvason and Queen
Gyda of England, came from the west with an armed force, intending to
claim the throne of Norway. Svein called upon his chiefs to furnish
him with men and ships in defence of the country, and an army was soon
ready; but Einar Thambaskelfer, and Kalf Arneson, and some others
refused to give aid. King Svein sailed south and met Trygve in battle
in Sognesund. In this battle Trygve fell, and many of his men with him;
but some fled, and others received quarter.

After the battle in Sognesund King Svein returned to Throndhjem; but
his stay there was not of long duration. He met the people at a Thing,
and heard their complaints, but no understanding could be reached.
Shortly afterward the situation became so strained that King Svein and
his mother found it necessary to remove to the southern part of the
country to spend the winter. During this winter Einar Thambaskelfer and
Kalf Arneson had many consultations in Nidaros with the other chiefs,
and the result was that in the spring a deputation of prominent chiefs,
including Einar Thambaskelfer and Kalf Arneson, proceeded east to King
Jaroslav in Russia to offer the throne of Norway to Magnus, the son
of Olaf the Saint, who had been raised at King Jaroslav's court. They
asked and received full forgiveness for having fought against Magnus's
father at Stiklestad. They thereupon swore allegiance to Magnus, who,
on the other hand, promised them under oath that he would be true and
faithful to them all when he got the dominions and kingdom of Norway.
Einar and Kalf were to act as his foster-fathers and counsellors.
Magnus returned with them to Norway and was welcomed with great joy. At
Oere-Thing he was proclaimed king over the whole land. When King Svein
heard this news he tried to raise an army; but nobody would listen to
him, and he and his mother were obliged to flee to Denmark. Here Svein
died in the year 1036; his father Canute dying a short time before him.


_Magnus the Good (1035-1047)_

Magnus was a natural child of Olaf the Saint, his mother being a girl
by the name of Alfhild, who was usually called the king's slave-woman,
although she was of good descent. She was a very handsome girl and
lived in King Olaf's court. It is said that when Magnus was born she
was very sick, and it was some time after the birth before it could
be discovered whether the boy was alive. A priest, who was present,
requested Sigvat the Skald (poet) to hasten to the king and tell him
of the event; but Sigvat refused, as the king had strictly forbidden
anybody to awaken him in the middle of the night. As the child was
very weak, however, they decided to baptize it, and Sigvat the Skald
named the boy Magnus. The next morning the king demanded to know why
they had named the boy Magnus, since there was no such name in his
family. Sigvat said: "I called him after King Carl Magnus (Emperor
Charlemagne), who, I knew, had been the best man in the world." This
satisfied the king.

Magnus was only eleven years old when he was proclaimed king at
the Oere-Thing. In the beginning he allowed Kalf Arneson and Einar
Thambaskelfer to take care of all government matters in his name; but
he soon developed into a clever, intelligent young man with a great
deal of independence. Hardeknut, who was then king of Denmark, was
inclined to press his claims to Norway, which he had inherited from
his father, Canute the Great, and collected an army. King Magnus also
armed himself, and they were about to meet in battle at the Gaut River.
However, the chiefs on both sides, who very much desired to avoid war,
made overtures for peace, and the result was a friendly meeting between
the kings at the Brenn Islands at the mouth of the Gaut River. They
arranged for a brotherly union, under oath, to keep the peace with each
other to the end of their lives; and if one of them should die without
leaving a son, the survivor should succeed to both countries. Twelve of
the principal men in each kingdom swore to the kings that this treaty
should be observed.

After the conciliation at the Brenn Islands Magnus was in undisputed
possession of his father's throne. During his stay in the southern part
of the country he had come in contact with his father's former friends
and faithful adherents, who had a great deal to say about the actions
of the Throndhjem people toward King Olaf. Magnus listened with great
eagerness to this talk, and, before he really understood it, he had
become possessed of a bitter feeling against those men who had been
his father's opponents. He especially began to dislike Kalf Arneson,
who, according to common belief, had dealt King Olaf the last deadly
blow at Stiklestad. One day the king was at a feast at the Haug estate
in Verdalen. At the table he said to Einar Thambaskelfer: "Let us ride
to-day over to Stiklestad. I wish to see the different reminders of
the battle." Einar replied: "Well, I know little about how matters went
there; but take Kalf with thee: he can give thee information about all
that took place." When the tables were removed, the king made himself
ready, and said to Kalf: "Thou must go with me to Stiklestad." After
repeating this command the king went out. Kalf put on his riding
clothes in all haste, and said to his foot-boy: "Ride immediately to
Eggja, and order my house-servants to have all my property on board my
ship before sunset."

The king and Kalf now rode over to Stiklestad. They alighted from their
horses, and went to the place where the battle had been. "Where did the
king fall?" asked Magnus. Kalf pointed with his spear, and said: "There
he lay when he fell." The king further asked: "And where wast thou
then, Kalf?" "Here, where I am now standing," answered Kalf. The king
turned red as blood in the face, and said: "Then thy axe could well
have reached him."

Kalf replied: "My axe did not come near him." Then he immediately
went to his horse, and rode away with all his men, while the king
returned to Haug. When Kalf reached home he found his ship ready, and
immediately sailed for the Orkneys. The king confiscated the Eggja
estate and other possessions which Kalf left behind him.

Magnus commenced to severely punish many of those who had borne
arms against Saint Olaf. He drove some of them out of the country,
took large sums of money from others, and had the cattle of others
slaughtered for his use. Thorer Hund had escaped punishment by making
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem shortly after Olaf's fall, and it is said
that he never came back. Harek of Thiotta was killed with the king's
consent by Asmund Grankelson, whose father had been killed by Harek.
The people soon began to murmur, and the discontent spread throughout
the country. In Sogn the people even gathered an armed force, and were
determined to fight, if Magnus came into their district. When the
young impetuous king heard of this, and made up his mind to punish the
rebellious Sognings, his friends, who knew that the disaffection was
widely spread through the country, decided to warn him of his danger.
Twelve of his friends came together, and determined, by casting lots,
which one of them should inform the king of the discontent of the
people, and the lot fell upon Sigvat the Skald.

Sigvat then composed a poem, which he called "The Free-speaking Song"
(_Bersöglisvísur_), in which he reminded the king of the promises
he made when he was proclaimed king, and advised him to be guided
by that respect for the laws and the rights of the people which his
predecessors had shown. He blamed him for his severity, and warned him
of the danger threatening him and his country.

Sigvat's song made a deep impression on the young king, and from now on
he was an entirely changed man. He consulted the most prudent men, and
revised the laws, repealing such of Svein Alfifuson's laws as were most
obnoxious to the people. He codified the laws in a written book called
"The Gray Goose" (_Graagaasen_).[7] It was only a short time before
King Magnus became very popular, and was beloved by all the country
people, who now called him Magnus the Good.

[7] "The Gray Goose," so called probably from the color of the
parchment on which it is written, is one of the most curious relics
of the Middle Ages, and gives us an unexpected view of the social
condition of the Northmen in the eleventh century. Law appears to
have been so far advanced among them that the forms were not merely
established, but the slightest breach of the legal forms of proceeding
involved the loss of the case. "The Gray Goose" embraces subjects not
dealt with probably by any other code in Europe at that period. The
provision for the poor, the equality of weights and measures, police
of markets and of sea havens, provision for illegitimate children of
the poor, inns for travellers, wages of servants and support of them
in sickness, protection of pregnant women and even of domestic animals
from injury, roads, bridges, vagrants, beggars, are subjects treated of
in this code. (S. Laing.)

The Danish king, Hardeknut, who was also king of England, died of
apoplexy at a wedding-feast at Lambeth, England, in June, 1042. This
was the end of Danish rule in England. After the death of Hardeknut,
his half-brother, Edward the Good, a son of the English king Ethelred
and Queen Emma, was chosen king of England.

When King Magnus heard of Hardeknut's death, he immediately sent word
to Denmark that he intended to claim the Danish throne in accordance
with the agreement made between himself and Hardeknut at their meeting
at the Gaut River. Shortly afterward King Magnus proceeded to Denmark
with a fine fleet of seventy ships. He was well received, and at a
Thing assembled at Viborg, Jutland (where the Danes always elected
their king), he was proclaimed king of all the Danish dominions. He
remained in Denmark during the summer (1042), and wherever he came he
was received with enthusiasm. He divided the country into districts and
appointed administrative officers, gave fiefs to influential men, and
took all steps to secure himself in power. In the autumn he returned to

Among the Danes who swore allegiance to King Magnus was Svein, commonly
called Svein Estridson, a son of Earl Ulf. His mother was Estrid
(Astrid), a daughter of King Svein Tjuguskeg. She was a sister of
Canute the Great by the father's side, and of the Swedish king Olaf
by the mother's side, her mother being Queen Sigrid the Haughty. One
day, as King Magnus was sitting in his high-seat with a large number of
men around him, and with Svein Estridson sitting on a footstool before
him, the king made a speech, in which he said that he had promised the
Danes a chief who could defend and rule the country in the absence of
the king. "And," he continued, "I know no better man fitted, in all
respects, for this than Svein. I will therefore make him my earl, and
give him the government of my Danish dominions while I am in Norway,
just as King Canute the Great set his father, Earl Ulf, over Denmark
while he was in England." Einar Thambaskelfer, who was with the king,
was very ill-pleased with this appointment, as he put no faith in
Svein, and said to the king: "Too great an earl, too great an earl, my

King Magnus had an early opportunity to regret his choice, for,
the same winter in which Svein was given the administration of the
government of Denmark as earl, he successfully courted the friendship
of the most influential men, and assumed the title of King of Denmark.
King Magnus heard this news, and at the same time that the people of
Vendland had a large army with which they plundered in Denmark. He
then gathered a large force, with which he sailed to Denmark. There he
summoned the people to come to him, and drew together a great army in
Jutland. Ordulf, the duke of Brunswick, who the year before had married
Ulfhild, the daughter of King Olaf the Saint, and the half-sister of
King Magnus,[8] also came to his aid with a great force. King Magnus
met the Vends in battle at Lyrskog Heath in Schleswig and gained a
great victory. It was generally reported in the army that King Magnus
had a vision the night before the battle, in which Olaf the Saint had
appeared and had given the king advice. "It is the common saying," says
the saga, "that there never was so great a slaughter of men in the
northern lands, since the time of Christianity, as took place among the
Vendland people on Lyrskog Heath." This was on the 28th of September,
1043. King Magnus followed up his victory, and sailed to Vendland,
attacked and captured the fortress of Jomsborg. A great many of the
people of Vendland submitted to King Magnus, while others fled the

[8] From this union descended, in direct line, the royal house of
Brunswick and Saxony, whose members until lately occupied the thrones
of Hanover and Brunswick and still reign in England.

After this King Magnus turned his attention to Earl Svein. A battle was
fought, and Svein had to flee to his relatives in Sweden. But as soon
as Magnus went to Norway, Svein would return to Denmark and strengthen
himself with the Danes, and Magnus had continual wars with his earl.
Among the principal battles were those at Aaros (now Aarhus) and

When King Magnus came back to Norway in the autumn of 1045, after
one of his battles with Svein, he heard that his relative, Harald
Sigurdson, had come to Sweden on his way to Norway, and that Harald and
Svein had come to an understanding, and intended to endeavor to subdue
both Denmark and Norway. King Magnus then ordered a general levy over
all Norway, and he soon collected a great army with which to meet the
intruder. The relatives and friends of both Harald and Magnus, however,
said that it would be a great misfortune if there should be war between
them, and the result was a friendly meeting, where Magnus gave Harald
half of his kingdom. They were to rule together on equal terms; but
whenever they were together in one place King Magnus was to be "the
first man in seat, service and salutation." King Magnus died the
following year (1047) on one of his expeditions to Denmark. Before his
death King Magnus declared that Svein Estridson was to have Denmark,
while Harald should rule over Norway.


_Harald Haardraade (1047-1066)_

Harald, the son of Sigurd Syr and Astrid, now became the sole king
of Norway. As we have seen, Harald fled from the country after the
battle of Stiklestad (1030). He went to Russia to the court of King
Jaroslav, who received him with kindness and made him a commander in
the army. Harald remained in the service of King Jaroslav for three
years, and then went with a body of men to Constantinople (called by
the Northmen Miklagaard), where he soon became the captain or chief
of the Varings. (The Varings were the bodyguard of the emperors, and
the guard was composed mostly of Northmen.) With them he went on many
expeditions, and always gained victories and a great deal of booty. He
conducted expeditions against the Saracens in Africa (which the Varings
called Serkland), where he gathered great wealth in gold, jewels,
and other precious things. He also served in Sicily, where he won
several battles. After having spent several years in these campaigns
he returned to Constantinople, and then went to Jerusalem, and bathed
in the river Jordan, according to the custom of other pilgrims.
Thereafter he returned to Russia and was received in the most friendly
way by King Jaroslav. He married the latter's daughter, Elisabeth, or
Ellisif, as the Northmen called her.

When King Magnus died, Harald, as already stated, became sole king
of Norway. But he also wanted Denmark, and called his men-at-arms
together, and told them that he intended to go with an army to Viborg
Thing and there proclaim himself king of Denmark, to which, he said,
he had the hereditary right, as well as to Norway. The friends of the
late King Magnus, however, did not like this, and Einar Thambaskelfer
said that he considered it a greater duty to bring his foster son King
Magnus's corpse to the grave, and lay it beside his father King Olaf's
north in Throndhjem, than to be fighting abroad, and taking another
king's dominions and property. He ended his speech with saying that
he would rather follow King Magnus dead than any other king alive.
The result was that King Harald returned to Norway with his army. For
many years thereafter King Harald was at war with Svein Estridson (or
Ulfson), but did not succeed in driving him away from Denmark.

Einar Thambaskelfer was the most powerful man in the Throndhjem
country. There was but little friendship between him and King Harald,
although Einar retained all the fiefs he had held under King Magnus.
Einar had many large estates, and was married to Bergliot, a daughter
of Earl Haakon. Their son Eindride was married to Sigrid, a daughter of
Ketil Kalf and Gunhild, King Harald's sister's daughter. Einar was well
versed in law, and often acted as spokesman for the peasants at the
Things, when the king demanded more of the people than was his right.
This happened more than once, for Harald's rule was quite severe.
Therefore he was called Harald _Haardraade_, or Hard-ruler. Einar did
not lack the boldness to assert his opinions at the Things, even in the
presence of the king; and for this reason he was held in high esteem
by the people, while the king came to hate him more after every such
dispute. Einar, therefore, began to keep a number of men around him
whenever the king was in the neighborhood. One day he came to the town
(Nidaros) with eight or nine ships and nearly six hundred men. When
Harald, who was standing in the doorway of his house, saw Einar going
ashore, he exclaimed in verse: "Here I see Einar Thambaskelfer land
with quite a force. In his haughtiness he probably expects even to fill
the royal chair; for often has even an earl a smaller force of men
with him. This Einar will some day deprive me of my kingdom, unless he
himself has to kiss the thin lips of the axe."

One day there was a meeting, at which the king himself was present. A
thief had been caught and was brought before the Thing. The man had
been in the service of Einar, who had liked him very well. Einar well
knew that the king would not let the man off, especially as Einar
took an interest in him. He therefore let his men arm themselves,
went to the Thing, and took the man away by force. The mutual friends
of the king and Einar then intervened and tried to bring about a
reconciliation, and they succeeded so far that a day was appointed for
a meeting between them at the king's house at the river Nid. The king
had the shutters for the smoke-hole in the roof closed so as to exclude
the light. When Einar came into the yard with his people, he told his
son Eindride to remain outside with the men, "for there is no danger
here for me." Eindride remained standing outside the door. When Einar
came into the room, he said: "Dark it is in the king's Thing-room."
At this some men fell upon him with spears and swords. "Sharp are now
the bites of the king's dogs," said Einar, and rushed toward the king,
but was felled to the floor by the king's men. When Eindride heard the
noise he drew his sword and rushed into the room; but he was instantly
killed along with his father. The king then went with all his men
to his ships, and rowed down the river, the peasants not having the
courage to pursue him after having lost their leader. Einar's wife
Bergliot, who came up from her home, and in vain urged the peasants to
pursue the murderers, said: "Now we miss my kinsman, Haakon Ivarson:
Einar's slayer would not be rowing out of the river if Ivar stood here
on the river-bank."

Bergliot sent word to Haakon Ivarson (a son of Ivar the White, nephew
of Earl Haakon the Great), who was a mighty man in the Uplands, and
requested him to avenge the death of Einar and Eindride. Meanwhile
King Harald proceeded to his kinsman by marriage, Fin Arneson, who
lived at Austraat in Yrjar, and persuaded him to first go to Nidaros
and bring about a reconciliation with the peasants, and thereafter to
proceed to the Uplands and reach an understanding with Haakon Ivarson,
so that he would not oppose the king. In return for this the king
promised to recall to the country Fin's brother Kalf, and restore to
him the estates and dignities of which King Magnus had deprived him. To
Haakon Ivarson, Fin was to offer any favor he might wish short of the
kingdom. Fin successfully accomplished both of the missions intrusted
to him. Haakon Ivarson said, as to the conditions of peace: "I will
be reconciled with King Harald if he will give me in marriage his
relation Ragnhild, King Magnus Olafson's daughter, with such dower as
is suitable to her and she will be content with," and Fin agreed to
this on behalf of the king.

The next Christmas Haakon went to King Harald to ask the fulfilment
of the pledges given him. The king said that he, for his part, would
adhere to the whole agreement; but as for Ragnhild it would be
necessary for Haakon to ask her consent himself. When Haakon came to
Ragnhild, and paid his addresses to her, she answered: "I have no
fault to find with thee, for thou art a handsome man, expert in all
exercises. But thou must remember I am a king's daughter, while thou
art only a lenderman. Had my father, King Magnus, lived he would have
found that no man less than a king was suitable for me; so it is not
to be expected that I will marry one who has no princely rank." Haakon
then went to the king and demanded that he be made an earl under the
agreement made with Fin Arneson. This the king refused to do, saying
that it had been the custom since the time of Saint Olaf to have only
one earl in the country, and he could not take the title from Orm, who
now held it. Haakon now understood that there was nothing to obtain
from the king, and left in disgust. Fin Arneson became very angry, and
told the king that he had broken his word.

Haakon shortly afterward left the country with a well-manned ship,
and went to King Svein of Denmark, who received him well and made him
commander of his coast defence against the vikings from Vendland,
Kurland and other eastern countries.

It was not a long time before Fin Arneson fell out with the king.
His brother Kalf, who had been on a viking cruise to the "Western"
(British) countries ever since he had left Norway, was recalled by the
king and given back his estates according to agreement. But shortly
afterward, during an expedition to Denmark, the king sent Kalf ashore
on the island Fyen with a small force of men, and commanded him to
attack a much stronger Danish force, promising that he would soon make
a landing with the others and come to their assistance. Kalf obeyed,
and was attacked by a great force of the enemy, and he and many of his
men were killed. A long while afterward, when the Danes had withdrawn,
Harald landed and made a plundering expedition into the country. Later
he composed some verses, in which he boasted of having caused the death
of thirteen men, and Fin rightly supposed that his brother was one of
them. Fin took this matter so much to heart that he left Norway and
went to King Svein of Denmark, who gave him a friendly reception. He
swore allegiance to King Svein, and was made earl of Halland (now a
province of Sweden), where he remained for a long time and defended the
country against the Northmen.

Haakon Ivarson showed great zeal in his position as commander of the
Danish coast defence, being out with his warships both winter and
summer, and was in high favor with King Svein, until he attacked and
killed the king's nephew, Asmund, an ungovernable young man, who had
been killing and plundering everywhere, both abroad and at home, and
whom Haakon thought the king much desired to get rid of. The king sent
Haakon a message that he had better leave the country. "Tell him," he
said, "that I will do him no harm; but I cannot answer for all our
relations." Haakon then proceeded north to his estates in Norway.
During his stay in Denmark his relative, Earl Orm, had died. His
many friends therefore gave themselves much trouble to bring about a
reconciliation between him and King Harald, and in this they succeeded.
Haakon was given the title of earl, with the same power that Earl Orm
had had, and was married to Ragnhild, King Magnus's daughter. He swore
to King Harald an oath of fidelity and pledged himself to render all
the service he was liable to.

In the winter of 1061-62, King Harald resided at Nidaros, where he
commenced building a large warship. He sent a message south to Denmark
to King Svein, and challenged him to meet him in the spring at the Gaut
River and fight, with the understanding that the one who gained the
victory should have both kingdoms. King Svein accepted the challenge,
but did not keep the appointment. King Harald, who had arrived at the
place agreed upon, heard that Svein's forces lay in the south, partly
at Fyen and partly about Seeland. Harald then sailed southward along
Halland with one hundred and eighty of his ships, and brought up his
fleet at the Nis-Aa (Nis River). Shortly afterward King Svein came upon
them with a Danish fleet consisting of three hundred and sixty ships.
King Harald held a war council, and many said that it would be better
to fly than to fight with a fleet twice the size of their own. The king
replied: "Sooner shall we all fall and lie dead one upon another than
fly." King Harald drew up his ships in battle array, laying his great
dragon ship in the middle. At his side lay Ulf Stallara, and on the
other wing lay the ships of Earl Haakon Ivarson from the Uplands. At
the extremity of the other side lay the Throndhjem chiefs. It was late
in the day when the battle began, and it continued the whole night.
The battle was very severe, and toward morning the greater part of
the Danish fleet broke into flight. While Harald pursued some of the
Danes, King Svein made his escape with the aid of Earl Haakon Ivarson,
who, during the battle, had contributed more than any one else to the
victory of the Norwegians.

King Harald sailed north to Viken with all the conquered ships after
the battle of Nis River, and spent the winter at Oslo. Earl Haakon went
to the Uplands and remained in his dominions there during the winter.
In the spring, however, he gathered all his loose property and fled
eastward; for he heard that King Harald had again become his enemy,
mainly because Haakon had allowed King Svein to escape after the battle
of Nis River. Haakon proceeded to King Steinkel of Sweden, who gave him
the province of Vermeland to govern. When Haakon heard that King Harald
had gone north to Throndhjem, he made a hurried expedition back to the
Uplands and collected the taxes due him. The next summer King Harald
in vain tried to collect taxes in the same places. Then King Harald
gathered an army, with which he invaded Sweden, and defeated Haakon.
Upon his return he severely punished the people of the Uplands for
having been disloyal. He maimed some, killed others, and robbed many of
all their property.

Year after year King Harald had made war on Denmark without coming
nearer to King Svein's throne. It appears that finally the people in
both counties became tired of this continual and wasteful warfare, and
during the same winter that Earl Haakon had settled down in Vermeland,
Sweden, there were many negotiations between leading men of both
countries who wanted peace and demanded that their kings should come
to an agreement. The result was a meeting of the two kings at the Gaut
River, where peace was agreed upon. Harald was to have Norway, and
Svein Denmark; the war should cease as it now stood, each retaining
what he had got, and this peace should endure as long as they were
kings. This peace was confirmed by oath, and the kings parted, having
given each other hostages (1064).

In the year 1066, Earl Toste came from England and asked King Harald
to aid him in an attempt to conquer England from his brother Harald
Godwinson, who had been proclaimed king of England. Earl Toste had
already been on a similar mission to Denmark, but King Svein Estridson
had declared that he would be content if he could keep his own kingdom
and defend that against the Northmen. King Harald Sigurdson looked
upon the plan with more favor, and promised his help. He collected
an army and sailed for England with a large fleet. Before he left
Throndhjem he gave the reins of the government to his son Magnus,
whom he had proclaimed king at the Oere-Thing. He took with him his
younger son Olaf, the queen and two daughters. At first King Harald
was very successful against the Englishmen, and after a great victory
the citizens of York surrendered the city to him. In the evening he
returned to his ships to spend the night. Later in the same evening,
however, King Harald Godwinson arrived with a numerous army, and rode
into the city with the goodwill and consent of the people of the
castle. All the gates and walls were beset so that the Northmen could
receive no report of their arrival, and the army remained all night in
the town.

In the morning King Harald Sigurdson landed with a portion of his
army, leaving the remainder behind with the ships. As they came across
Stanford Bridge, they discovered a numerous army approaching. Earl
Toste advised a speedy return to the ships to get more men and arms;
but Harald Sigurdson did not wish to appear cowardly, and elected
instead to send three messengers with their fastest horses back to
the ships with an order to the men there to immediately come to their
assistance. Harald then arranged his men in a line of battle, long but
not deep. Then he turned both wings backward until they met together,
so that the army formed a wide ring of the men standing shield to
shield. Thus he would defend himself against the enemy's horsemen,
from whom he expected a violent attack. Those in the first rank were
ordered to set the spear-shaft on the ground, and the spear-point
against the horseman's breast; those in the next rank were to direct
the spear-point against the horse's breast. Inside the ring, the bowmen
were to stand, and here he also selected a place for himself and Earl
Toste, and a body of chosen men. Now the English king approached with
his army, which was twice as large as that of the Northmen. While
Harald was yet arranging his army, riding around on his black horse,
twenty horsemen came riding up from the English army, and asked if Earl
Toste was there. The earl himself answered: "Here you can find him."
One of the horsemen, speaking for the English king, then offered the
earl peace and a third of the kingdom if he would be reconciled with
his brother. The earl said: "But if I accept this offer, what will he
give King Harald Sigurdson for his trouble?" The horseman replied: "He
will give him seven feet of English ground, or as much more as he may
be taller than other men." "Then," said the earl, "return and tell King
Harald to get ready for battle. Never shall the Northmen have a chance
to say that Earl Toste left King Harald Sigurdson to join his enemy."
Then the horsemen returned to the English army. King Harald Sigurdson
said to Earl Toste: "Who was the man who spoke so well?" "That was my
brother, King Harald Godwinson," said the earl. "Too late I learned
that," said the king; "for he had come so near to our army that he
never should have been able to report the felling of our men."

Now the battle began, the English horsemen advancing against the
Northmen; but as long as the Northmen remained standing in a ring,
shield to shield, and with the spears pointing out, the enemy could
do nothing against them. But when the Northmen thought the enemy was
retiring, they were imprudent enough to pursue the Englishmen, and thus
break their own invincible ring. Then the Englishmen rode up from all
sides, and made a terrible attack. Many people fell on both sides. King
Harald Sigurdson was hit by an arrow in the throat and fell dead to the
ground, and most of his men fell around him. Harald was fifty-one years
old when he died (1066).

The town of Oslo (now a suburb of Christiania) was founded during the
reign of King Harald Sigurdson. A church was built there and dedicated
to the Virgin Mary. The shrine of the holy Halvard, lately discovered
and acknowledged as a national saint, was placed in this church.


_Olaf Kyrre, the Quiet (1066-1093)_

The English king permitted King Harald Sigurdson's son Olaf to leave
the country with the men he had left. Olaf proceeded to the Orkney
Isles, where he remained during the winter (1066-67). The next summer
he returned to Norway, where he was proclaimed king along with his
brother, Magnus taking the northern and Olaf the eastern part of the

Shortly after the two brothers had assumed the government, the Danish
king, Svein Estridson, gave notice that the peace between the Northmen
and the Danes was at an end. The brothers hurriedly collected armies
to defend the country, and Svein set out from the south with a Danish
force. He met King Olaf on the coast of Halland, where an indecisive
battle was fought. Soon afterward Magnus arrived with reinforcements
from the north, but then negotiations were opened, and peace was
concluded on the old conditions at Konungahella. The agreement here
made was confirmed by Olaf taking King Svein's daughter Ingerid in

The following year King Magnus died at Nidaros, April 28, 1069, after
being ill for some time. His son, Haakon, who was fostered by Thorer of
Steig in Gudbrandsdal, being only an infant child, Olaf now became sole
king of Norway.

After the short conflict with Denmark, Olaf had no wars. A long period
of peace was something new in the history of the country, and the
people therefore gave King Olaf the surname _Kyrre_, _i.e._, the Quiet.
He preserved law and order with firmness, and did a great deal to
promote commerce and the prosperity of the towns. Before his time there
were three towns in Viken (Tunsberg, Oslo, and Sarpsborg), and one in
Throndhjem (Nidaros). King Olaf founded the merchant town of Bergen
(then Björgvin), where many wealthy people settled down, and the place
was soon regularly frequented by merchants from foreign countries. The
other towns also made good progress.

In King Olaf's time there were held a greater number of general
entertainments and hand-in-hand feasts than formerly. Already, during
the heathen time, the Northmen used to arrange feasts by clubbing
together. After the introduction of Christianity they were continued,
but naturally changed their character. These feasts, which from
the time of Olaf Kyrre were called guilds, had a partly religious
character, and appear to have been regular meetings of fraternities,
whose members were pledged to defend and help each other. The members
were called guild-brethren and guild-sisters, and each guild was under
the protection of a saint. The members were governed by strict laws,
and in order to insure good and peaceful behavior, men of dignity, both
clergymen and laymen, were present at the meetings. King Olaf built
several guild-halls in different parts of the country, among them the
great guild-hall in Nidaros. The guild-brethren built Margaret's church
in Nidaros.

There are many stories of King Olaf's good works. Once when he sat
in the great guild-hall in Nidaros, one of his men said to him: "It
pleases us, king, to see you so happy." He answered: "Why should I
not be happy when I see my subjects sitting happy and free in a guild
consecrated to my uncle, the sainted King Olaf. In the days of my
father these people were subjected to much terror and fear; the most
of them concealed their gold and their precious things, but now I see
glittering on his person what each one owns, and your freedom is my

At the Things, King Olaf did not speak much, preferring to let others
speak for him. One who was often intrusted with this duty was his
foster-brother Skule, who was a son of Earl Toste, and was usually
called the king's foster-son. Skule, who had come over with him from
England, was made commander of King Olaf's court-men and was given the
king's cousin Gudrun in marriage. He was a dear friend of the king,
who gave him fine estates near Konungahella, Oslo, and Nidaros. The
principal one of these estates was Reine in Rissen, which became the
seat of this afterward powerful family. Skule was the ancestor of King
Inge Baardson and Duke Skule.

King Olaf made several changes in the rooms on the king's estates. The
king had formerly had his high-seat on the middle of one of two long
benches at the long walls of the house; but Olaf had the high-seat
removed to a cross-bench at the short wall facing the entrance.
Formerly the fire was in the middle of the floor between the long
benches; but Olaf had the fireplace removed to one corner of the room,
where he had a kind of a chimney-place built. He had the floors, which
had formerly been without covering, covered with stone and strewed
with juniper-tops. He introduced table-cups instead of the deer-horns
out of which they formerly used to drink. Much unusual splendor and
foreign fashions in the cut of clothes were also introduced. King Olaf
doubled the number of attendants, so that he had one hundred and twenty
courtmen-at-arms (_hird-men_), sixty "guests,"[9] and sixty house
servants. He used the fashion, which was introduced from the courts
of foreign kings, of letting his grand butler stand at the end of the
table, and fill the cups for himself and the other distinguished guests
who sat at the table. He had also torch-bearers, who held as many
torches at the table as there were guests of distinction present.

[9] The "guests" were one division of the king's men. They were of a
lower rank than the _hird-men_.

King Olaf Kyrre was a devout Christian. A better order was introduced
in the affairs of the church, and the country was divided into three
bishoprics. Many churches were built, among the largest of which were
the Christ Church in Bergen and the Christ Church in Nidaros.

King Olaf died on his estate, Haukby, in Ranrike, September 22, 1098.
His body was brought north to Nidaros and buried in Christ Church. The
saga says of King Olaf: "He was the most amiable king of his time, and
Norway was much improved in riches and cultivation during his reign."


_Magnus Barefoot (1093-1103)_

Immediately after the death of Olaf Kyrre, his son Magnus was
proclaimed at Viken king of all Norway; but the Upland people chose his
cousin Haakon, the foster-son of Thorer of Steig, as king. Haakon and
Thorer went north to Throndhjem and summoned the Oere-Thing at Nidaros,
and the people there proclaimed Haakon king of half of Norway, as his
father had been. In order to win the goodwill of the Throndhjem people,
Haakon relieved them of all harbor duties, did away with the Christmas
gifts to the king, and gave them many other privileges. Thereafter he
returned to the Uplands, where he gave the people the same privileges.

In the meanwhile King Magnus proceeded north to Nidaros, took
possession of the king's house built by Harald Haardraade, and remained
there the first part of the winter. When Haakon heard of this he also
came up to Nidaros, and negotiations were opened for a settlement
between the rival kings, Haakon offering to accept half the kingdom
and let Magnus retain the other half. Magnus refused to acknowledge
any rights of Haakon, and a conflict seemed imminent. However, one
day, after having made quite a demonstration with his force, Magnus
sailed southward, and Haakon also decided to go south, taking the
inland route. While he was crossing the Dovre Mountain, he pursued a
ptarmigan, which flew up beside him; and during this chase he was taken
violently ill, and died on the mountain. His body was brought back to
Nidaros, and all the people went to meet the body, as the saga says,
"sorrowing, and the most of them weeping; for all the people loved him
with sincere affection." Haakon, who was twenty-five years old at his
death, was laid at rest in Christ Church (February, 1094).

Magnus Olafson was now sole king of Norway. A rebellion was started by
some of the adherents of the late King Haakon, under the leadership of
Thorer of Steig and the late Haakon's near friend, Svein, who aspired
to become king. Svein was a Dane by birth, said to be of high family
and a brave warrior. His father was one Harald Flette, of whom nothing
is known. Several chiefs took part in this movement, among them the
rich and powerful man, Skialg Erlingson from Jadaren, and Egil Aslakson
of Aurland. The force proceeded from Gudbrandsdal down to Raumsdal,
and afterward north to Throndhjem. King Magnus's liegeman and devoted
friend, Sigurd Ulstreng, collected a force and met Thorer and Svein in
battle, but suffered a bad defeat. He fled to King Magnus, who then
collected an army, and proceeded north to Throndhjem. Magnus scattered
the rebels, and captured Thorer of Steig and Egil Aslakson, and hanged
them. Svein, Harald Flette's son, fled out to sea first, and then
sailed to Denmark and remained there. King Magnus punished severely all
who had been guilty of treason toward him, killing some and burning the
houses of others.

King Magnus now had undisputed control of Norway, and devoted himself
to the care of his country and his people. By his vigorous rule he
maintained peace and order, and rooted out all vikings and lawless
men. With his restless and ambitious disposition, however, he yearned
for greater deeds and for fame in war. Wishing to retake the western
countries, which had been dependencies of Norway under his ancestors,
he set out with a great fleet, and first came to the Orkney Islands.
There he took the two earls, Paul and Erlend, prisoners, and sent
them to Norway, and placed his eight year old son Sigurd as chief of
the islands, leaving some wise men with him as counsellors. Then King
Magnus proceeded to the Southern Hebrides, where he harried the coasts
and plundered wherever he came. Afterward he sailed to Wales and won a
battle at Anglesey Sound, and took the Anglesey Isle. After this battle
he returned north with his fleet, and came first to Scotland. He made
a peace with the Scotch king, by which all the islands lying west of
Scotland should belong to the king of Norway. King Magnus remained all
the winter in the southern isles, and the next summer he returned with
his fleet to Norway (1099).

During their long stay in the Western countries King Magnus and his
men had adopted some of the habits and fashions of clothing of those
countries. They wore short jackets and kilts without breeches. On
account of this the king was called Magnus Barefoot or Bareleg.

A short time after his return to Norway, King Magnus became involved in
war with the Swedish king, Inge Steinkelson. Magnus insisted that the
Gaut River and Lake Venern should be considered the boundary between
the countries, so that the Swedish district of Dalsland would belong to
Norway. This war lasted for two years, and was generally unsuccessful
for King Magnus. In the spring of 1100 there was a battle at Foxerne
(at the Gaut River, between Kongself and Wenersborg), in which the
Norwegians were overwhelmed by numbers, driven to flight, and many
of them killed by the pursuing Swedes. King Magnus was easily known,
for he was a stout man, had a red cloak over him, and bright yellow
hair that fell over his shoulders. Ogmund Skoptason, who was also a
tall and handsome man, rode at the side of the king. He saved the king
by putting on the king's cloak. He started off in a little different
direction, and the Swedes, supposing him to be the king, rode after
him, while the king proceeded to his ships. Ogmund escaped with great
difficulty, but succeeded at last in reaching the ships. King Magnus
then sailed down the river and proceeded north to Viken.

The next summer a meeting of the kings was agreed upon at Konghelle
on the Gaut River. The Danish king, Erik Eiegod, desired to have an
archbishopric established for the northern countries, and it was
important to have the other kings with him to execute this plan. By
his mediation the meeting of the three kings was arranged, and they
soon came to an understanding. Each should possess the dominions his
forefathers had held before him, and each should make good to his own
men the loss and manslaughter suffered by them. King Inge agreed to
give King Magnus his daughter Margaret in marriage. This agreement was
proclaimed to the people, and thus, within a short hour, the greatest
enemies were made the best of friends.

Shortly afterward Margaret, King Inge's daughter, came to Norway with
an honorable retinue, and her wedding with King Magnus was celebrated
with great festivities. The Norwegians liked their new queen, whom they
considered as a pledge of the peace with Sweden, and they therefore
called her _Fridkolla_, _i.e._, the peace-girl.

When Magnus had been nine years king of Norway, he again sailed
westward with a great force. He first conquered the Isle of Man, and
afterward proceeded to Ireland and conquered a great part of that
country. He lay at Ulster, and was about ready to return to Norway,
when he was suddenly attacked by an Irish army. King Magnus had a
helmet on his head, a red shield on which there was a golden lion, and
was girt with his costly sword, Legbit; in his hand he had a short
spear, and over his shirt a red silk cloak. King Magnus received a
wound, being pierced by a spear through both thighs above the knees.
The king took hold of the shaft between his legs, broke the spear in
two, and said: "This way we break spearshafts, boys; let us go briskly
on; nothing ails me." A little later King Magnus was hit in the neck
with an Irish axe, and this was his death-wound. Then those who were
behind fled. Vidkun Jonson, from Biarkey (a great-grandson of Thorer
Hund), instantly killed the man who had given the king his death-wound,
and fled, after having received three wounds; but he brought the king's
banner and the sword Legbit to the ships. Vidkun Jonson was the last
man who fled. The Northmen who escaped sailed away immediately.

King Magnus was thirty years old when he fell.


_Sigurd the Crusader (1103-1130), and his Brothers, Eystein and Olaf_

In the autumn the remnants of King Magnus's army and fleet left the
island of Man, and with his thirteen year old son, Sigurd, returned
to Norway. On their arrival in Norway, Sigurd and his two brothers,
Eystein and Olaf, were proclaimed kings. Eystein, who was fourteen
years old, was to have the northern, and Sigurd the southern, part of
the country. Olaf was then four or five years old, and his third part
of the country remained under the control of his two brothers.

When the three sons of Magnus Barefoot had been chosen kings of Norway,
several of those who had been away taking part in the crusades returned
home. They had made themselves renowned, and had many things to relate.
Some had been to Jerusalem and some to Constantinople, and it was said
that those who would enter the military service at Constantinople had
the best of opportunities to earn great money. By these extraordinary
tidings many of the Northmen were seized by a desire to make similar
expeditions, and they asked of the two kings that one of them should
place himself at the head of such an expedition. The kings agreed to
this, and had the preparations made at their common expense. Many of
the great men in the country took part in this enterprise, and when all
was ready it was decided that Sigurd was to go with the crusade, while
Eystein was to stay at home and govern the country for their joint

Four years after the fall of King Magnus (1107), King Sigurd sailed
from Norway with sixty ships. He first visited the king of England,
Henry I., and remained with him during the winter. In the spring he
sailed with his fleet to Valland (the west of France), and in the
fall came to Galicia, Spain, where he stayed the second winter. Along
the coast he had several battles with the heathens. At the Straits
of Gibraltar he defeated a large viking force, and on the island of
Forminterra, east of Spain, he exterminated a band of Moorish brigands
and took a great booty. After similar victories on the islands of Ivica
and Minorca, he came to Sicily, where he was very well received by Duke
Roger. It is stated in the saga that King Sigurd, during his stay in
Sicily, conferred upon Duke Roger the title of king, though with what
right he did so does not appear, nor is it mentioned by contemporary

In the summer King Sigurd sailed to Palestine, and at Acre met Baldwin,
king of Palestine, who received him particularly well, accompanied him
to Jerusalem and showed him the holy sepulchre and other sacred places.
They also rode to the river Jordan and bathed in it, and then returned
to Jerusalem. King Baldwin and the patriarch of Jerusalem presented
Sigurd with a splinter of the holy cross, with the condition that he,
and twelve other men with him, should swear to promote Christianity
with all their power, and erect an archbishop's seat in Norway if
possible, and the splinter was to be kept where the holy king Olaf
reposed. Thereupon King Sigurd with his fleet assisted King Baldwin
in capturing the town of Sidon, Syria, and received his share of a
great booty. He then proceeded to Constantinople, and was received in
the grandest style by Emperor Alexius. After having stayed here for
some time and enjoyed the great festivities given in his honor, King
Sigurd made preparations for his return home. He gave the emperor all
his ships, and the valuable dragon head which had adorned his own ship
was set up in the Sophia church. The emperor gave him horses and guides
to conduct him through his dominions. Leaving quite a number of his
men, who went into the service of the emperor, King Sigurd started
homeward on horseback through Bulgaria, Hungary and Germany. When in
the midsummer of 1111 he came to Schleswig in Denmark, Earl Eilif gave
him a magnificent reception. Here he also met the Danish king Nils, who
had married his stepmother, Margaret Fridkolla. King Nils accompanied
him north to Jutland, and gave him a ship provided with everything
needful. He then returned to Norway, where he was joyfully received by
his people. He had been absent three years and a half, and all agreed
that no one had ever made a more honorable expedition from Norway. From
this day he was given the surname _Jorsalfar_, _i.e._, the Crusader.

While King Sigurd was attaining fame on his journeys far away from his
country, King Eystein was occupied with peaceful achievements at home.
A great deal was done for the real benefit of the country, and under
his wise government Norway made progress in the same way that it had
done in the time of his grandfather Olaf Kyrre. He improved the laws,
built churches and monasteries, made harbors, and established beacon
lights. On the mountain of Dovre he built cabins, where travellers
could find shelter. In Bergen he built the monastery at Nordnes,
Michael's Church, the Church of the Apostles, and the great king's
hall. In Nidaros he built the Church of St. Nikolas. He also built a
Church at Throndenes in Halogaland. King Eystein also extended the
limits of the country, not by warfare and bloodshed, but by peaceful
negotiations. Thus he gained the allegiance of the inhabitants of the
Swedish province Jemteland, which was formerly a Norwegian province,
but was taken by Sweden after the fall of Olaf Trygvason.

King Olaf was taken sick and died before he reached manhood, and
it seems to have been only in name that he had any share in the
government. The relation between Eystein and Sigurd was not always the
most cordial, and Sigurd was usually to blame for it. The winter of
1112-13 King Eystein spent most of the time at Sarpsborg. There lived
at that time at Mikle-Dal in Aamord a rich and influential man called
Olaf of Dal. He spent a good part of the winter at Sarpsborg with his
daughter Borghild, a very handsome and accomplished girl. Borghild and
King Eystein often met, and the king found great pleasure in conversing
with her. The people began to talk about this friendship, and King
Sigurd, who was then at Konghelle, also heard of the girl that his
brother had taken a liking to. When Borghild heard it whispered that
people talked ill of her intimacy with King Eystein, she took it much
to heart. When Eystein had gone north she went to Sarpsborg, and, after
suitable fasts, carried red-hot irons to prove her innocence, endured
the test, and thus cleared herself from all offence. Sigurd then rode
over to her home, where he remained all night, made Borghild his
concubine and took her away with him. They had a son, who was called
Magnus, and was immediately sent to Halogaland to be fostered by Vidkun
Jonson of Biarkey.

The relation between the brothers remained strained as long as they
both were kings, but it never came to a breach of peace. Occasionally
they even peacefully met as each other's guests. On one of these
occasions, when the two kings were feasting together at one of
Eystein's estates, they had what was called a "man-measuring," or
comparison of merits. The saga says that in the evening, when the
people began to drink, the ale was not good, so that the guests were
very quiet and still. Then said King Eystein: "Why are the people so
silent? It is more proper in parties that people are merry, so let us
find some jest over our ale that will amuse us; for surely, brother
Sigurd, all will like to see us happy."

Sigurd replied, rather bluntly: "Do you talk as much as you please, but
give me leave to be silent."

Eystein said: "It is a common custom over the ale-table for one person
to compare himself with another, and now let us do so." Sigurd did not

"I see," said Eystein, "that I will have to begin this amusement, and
I will take thee, brother, to compare myself with; we are both kings,
have equal property, and there is no difference in our birth."

Sigurd then said: "Dost thou remember that I could always throw thee
when we wrestled, although thou art a year older?"

Eystein: "But I remember also that I was better at the games which
require limberness."

Sigurd: "But how was it when we were swimming? I could duck thee
whenever I wanted to."

Eystein: "But I could swim as far as thou, and could dive as well; and
I could run on ice-legs[10] so well that nobody could beat me, while
thou couldst no more do it than a cow."

[10] Ice-legs were skates made of sheep legs.

Sigurd: "I consider it a more useful and suitable accomplishment for a
chief to be an expert at his bow; but I think thou couldst hardly draw
my bow, even with the help of the foot."

Eystein: "I am not as strong at the bow as thou art, but my aim is
as good; and I can run on skis[11] much better than thou, and that is
usually held a great accomplishment."

[11] Ski (pronounced she), the long snow-shoe used in the North.

Sigurd: "It is much better for a chief who is to be the superior of
other men that he is conspicuous in a crowd, and strong and powerful in
weapons above other men."

Eystein: "It is just as well to be handsome, so as to be easily known
from others on that account; and this behooves a chief, as a fair face
and fine clothes go well together. I am also better versed in law than
thou, and can speak better."

Sigurd: "It may be that thou hast learned more law-quirks than I, for I
have had something else to do; neither will any one deny thee a smooth
tongue. But many say that thy words are not to be trusted; that thy
promises are not kept, and that thou talkest according to what those
who are about thee say, which is not kingly."

Eystein: "Often I promise what people ask of me, as I like to have all
be joyful about me, and it happens that conflicting interests afterward
appear, which must be considered. But thou mostly promisest people what
is evil, and no one is pleased because thy promises are kept."

Sigurd: "All say that the expedition I made out of the country was a
princely expedition, while thou wert sitting at home like thy father's

Eystein: "Now thou hast touched the tender spot, and I would not have
brought up this conversation if I had not known what to reply on this
point. I think I equipped thee from home for this expedition like a

Sigurd: "Thou must have heard that I was in many battles in the
Saracen's land, and gained victory in all. I brought to this country
many valuables, the like of which had never been seen here before. I
became acquainted with great men, and was respected by them. I went
to the Saviour's grave, and saw thee not there. I went to the river
Jordan, in which the Lord was baptized, and I swam across, but I saw
thee not there. On the edge of the river there is a bush of willows,
and there I twisted a knot of willows, and said that this knot thou
shouldst untie, brother, or take the curse thereto attached."

Then King Eystein said: "I have heard that thou hast had some battles
abroad, but it was more useful for the country what I was doing here
at home. North in Vaagen (Lofoten) I put up booths, so that the
poor fishermen could find shelter; I also had a church built there,
appointed a priest, and gave land for the support of the church; before
that, they were nearly all heathens there. These people will remember
that Eystein was king in Norway. Across the Dovre Mountain lay the
road from Throndhjem. Formerly many froze to death, and all suffered
hardships on the journey; but I built a mountain inn and endowed it
with property. Those who hereafter travel there will remember that
Eystein was king in Norway. Off Agdanes there were breakers and shoals
and no harbor, so that many ships were wrecked; now there is a good
harbor and good anchorage for the ships, and a church has also been
built there. I had war-signals erected on the highest mountains, which
is of benefit to all who live in the interior. I built the royal hall
in Bergen and the Apostles' Church and a covered passage between them.
The kings who succeed us will remember my name. I built St. Michael's
Church at Nordnes (in Bergen) and the monastery Munkeliv at the same
place. I improved the laws, brother, so that everybody could deal
justly with his neighbor, and if the laws are upheld the government
will be better. More by gentle words and wise dealings than by violence
and breach of peace did I succeed in making the inhabitants of
Jemteland subjects of this kingdom. All these things may be considered
small matters, but they will benefit the people of the country more
than the fact that thou hast butchered bluemen in Serkland for the
devil and hurled them into hell. And if thou didst tie a knot for me,
I will not untie it; but I think that if I had been inclined to tie a
knot for thee, I could have tied such a knot that thou wouldst not have
been king of Norway on thy return to this country with but a single

This was the end of the "man-measuring." There was silence in the hall,
and both kings were very angry. Several other incidents are recorded,
which show the jealousy that existed between the kings. However, peace
was preserved between them as long as they lived.

Six years after his brother Olaf's death, King Eystein was taken
suddenly sick and died at the age of thirty-three, August 29, 1122. He
was buried in Christ Church in Nidaros, and it is said that so many
mourners had never stood over any man's grave in Norway since the death
of King Magnus the Good.

Sigurd was now sole king of Norway and free from the restraint which
the pacific disposition of the popular Eystein had placed upon him.
Shortly after the death of Eystein, King Sigurd entered into an
agreement with the Danish king Nils Sveinson, who had married his
stepmother, Margaret Fridkolla. They agreed upon a joint invasion of
Sweden. The real motive was probably to secure this kingdom, which was
at the time torn by internal strifes, for Margaret's son Magnus Nilson;
but the avowed purpose was to christianize the inhabitants of the
Swedish province of Smaaland, where paganism still lingered. The two
kings were to meet with their armies at Oeresund. King Sigurd collected
a fleet of about three hundred and sixty ships and proceeded to the
meeting-place; but through some mistake the Danish army had already
returned home. King Sigurd held a council with his men, at which they
spoke of King Nils' breach of faith and determined to take revenge by
plundering his country. They first plundered the town of Tumartorp, and
then sailed east to the merchant town Kalmar, which they attacked. They
plundered in the province of Smaaland, compelled the people to accept
Christianity, and imposed on the country a tribute of 1,800 cattle.
After this King Sigurd returned to Norway with a great booty. This
expedition was called the Kalmar levy, and was the only levy Sigurd
carried out while he was sole king.

During the later years of his reign, King Sigurd was often violent and
showed unmistakable signs of insanity. One Whit-Sunday he sat in his
high-seat with Queen Malmfrid at his side, and in his hand he held
the holy book, written in gilded letters, which he had brought with
him from Constantinople. On the benches were seated many friends and
guests. Then the king suddenly got one of his attacks. He rolled his
eyes and looked all around him, and then said: "Many are the changes
which may take place during a man's lifetime. Two things were dearer
to me than anything else, namely, this book and the queen; and now it
is quite different. The queen does not know herself how hideous she is;
for a goat's horn is standing out of her head. And this book is good
for nothing." Thereupon he threw the book on the fire which was burning
on the floor, and gave the queen a blow with his fist between the eyes.

Before the king stood the young taper-bearer, Ottar Birting, who was on
duty that day. He was of small stature, but of agreeable appearance,
lively and bold. His surname Birting had been given him on account of
his black hair and dark complexion. He sprang forward and snatched the
book from the fire, held it out, and said: "Yes, sire, different were
the days when you came with great state and splendor to Norway, and
all your friends hastened to welcome you. Now days of sorrow have come
over us; for to this holy festival many of your friends have come,
and cannot be cheerful on account of your sad condition. Now, good
king, follow my advice! Make peace first with the queen, whom you have
so highly affronted, and then gladden by gentleness all your chiefs,
friends, and servants." "What?" cried King Sigurd. "Dost thou dare
to give me advice, thou black churl, thou great lump of a houseman's
lad!" And he sprang up, drew his sword, and swung it, as if going to
cut him down. But Ottar stood quiet and upright, and looked the king
straight in his face. The king turned round the sword-blade, and gently
touched Ottar on the shoulder with it. Then he sat down in silence on
his high-seat. All were silent, for nobody dared to utter a word. In a
little while the king had quieted down. He then rebuked his liegemen
for not having stopped his insane acts, and thanked Ottar for what he
had done. He concluded his speech by making Ottar a liegeman, and
said: "Go thou now and sit among the lendermen, and be a servant no

Ottar Birting became in later years one of the most celebrated men in

A few years before his death King Sigurd, in spite of the strong
protest of Bishop Magne, discarded Queen Malmfrid, and married a
beautiful and high-born woman, named Cecilia. The last winter of his
life King Sigurd spent in Oslo. In the spring he was taken violently
sick. His friends saw in this the punishment of Heaven for his improper
marriage, and urged him to dissolve it; but he loved Cecilia too dearly
to acquiesce in this. At last, she herself suggested a separation. "I
did not know that thou, too, wouldst leave me like the others," said
the king sadly. He grew gradually worse after this, and on March 26,
1130, he died, forty years old. His body was deposited in a vault in
St. Halvard's Church. According to the saga, "the time of his reign was
good for the country, for there was peace, and crops were good."


_Magnus the Blind and Harald Gille (1130-1136)_

The year before King Sigurd's death a young man named Harald Gille
(or Gillekrist, _i.e._, dedicated to Christ) came to Norway from
Ireland with his mother, and declared that he was a son of King
Magnus Barefoot. It is known that Magnus Barefoot had had a mistress
in Ireland, and composed a verse once, in which he said he loved his
Irish girl above all others. When the young man and his mother came to
King Sigurd and told their story, the king told Harald that he would
not deny him the opportunity to prove his birth by submitting to the
ordeal by fire, but on condition that, if he should prove his descent,
he should not claim the kingdom in the lifetime of King Sigurd, or of
his son Magnus, and to this Harald Gille bound himself by oath. Harald
agreed to the ordeal fixed by Sigurd, and walked over nine glowing
plowshares with bare feet, attended by two bishops. Three days after
the iron trial his feet were examined, and were found unburned. This
ordeal was considered a divine judgment, and King Sigurd acknowledged
Harald as his brother.

It became a source of danger to the country that Harald was
acknowledged as a son of Magnus Barefoot; for at that time the law of
royal inheritance was that every son of a king, the illegitimate as
well as the legitimate, had a right to the kingdom. This encouraged
many to proclaim themselves rightful heirs to the throne and to prove
their rights by the ordeal of fire. The priests had the charge of such
ordeals, and they probably had the result in their power.

Sigurd's son, Magnus, conceived a great hatred of Harald, and in this
he had the sympathy of many of the leading men.

Immediately after the death of Sigurd, his son Magnus summoned a Thing
at Oslo, and was there proclaimed king of all Norway, according to an
oath which the people had formerly sworn to King Sigurd. Harald Gille
was in Tunsberg when he heard of Sigurd's death. He broke his promise
to the late king, summoned a Thing, and had his followers proclaim him
king of half the country. Negotiations were opened with King Magnus,
and, as the latter found he had fewer people, he was obliged to divide
the kingdom with Harald.

For about three years the two kings kept the peace, although there was
little friendship between them. They both passed the fourth winter at
Nidaros, and invited each other as guests, but their people were always
ready for a fight. In the spring King Magnus sailed southward with his
fleet, and collected men from all districts, telling the people that he
wanted to take the kingly dignity from Harald and give him such a part
of the country as might be suitable. Harald proceeded from Throndhjem
overland to the Uplands and Viken, and, when he heard what Magnus was
doing, he also collected an army. At Fyrileif in Viken a battle was
fought, and Magnus, who had a much superior force, won a decisive
battle. Harald's army was put to flight, and he himself barely escaped
to his ships. He sailed south to Denmark, and was well received by the
Danish king, Erik Emune, who gave him the province of Halland in fief.

After the battle of Fyrileif (August 10, 1134), King Magnus proclaimed
himself sole king of Norway. He showed great lenience toward Harald's
men, and had the wounded taken care of equally with his own men. His
leading men advised him to keep his army together in Viken, and remain
there, in case Harald should return from the south; but he thought
this was not necessary, allowed the men to return to their homes, and
proceeded with his court-men to Bergen. It was not long before King
Magnus had cause to regret that he had disregarded the advice of his
friends. Harald had soon gathered a sufficient force to invade Norway,
and, while he proceeded along the coast, a good many people joined
him. He came to Bergen, where he met only nominal resistance, and
King Magnus was taken prisoner. King Harald held a meeting with his
counsellors, and here it was decided that Magnus should be deprived
of his dominions and should no longer be called king. He was then
delivered to the king's thralls, who put out both his eyes, cut off one
foot, and otherwise mutilated him. Magnus, who after this was given
the surname "the Blind," was brought north to Nidaros and entered the
Nidarholm cloister.

When Harald Gille had been six years king of Norway, Sigurd Slembe came
to the country, and claimed that he too was a son of Magnus Barefoot.
Sigurd was in his childhood kept at his book, became a clergyman,
and was consecrated a deacon. He showed early traces of a haughty,
ungovernable spirit, and was therefore called Slembidjakn (_i.e._, the
bad deacon). When he heard that he was the son of Magnus Barefoot, he
laid aside all clerical matters and set out on trading expeditions.
In Denmark he claimed to have established his parentage by the iron
ordeal in the presence of five bishops, and when he arrived in Bergen
he requested Harald Gille to acknowledge him as his brother. King
Harald, however, accused him of being an accomplice in a murder case,
and attempted to capture him. Sigurd escaped and afterward arranged
a conspiracy, in which many of Harald's court-men took part. On St.
Lucia's night, December 13, 1136, they came to the house where Harald
was sleeping with his mistress, Thora, Guthorm's daughter, killed the
guardsmen outside, broke into the house, and killed the king in bed.
Sigurd and his men then took a boat and rowed out in front of the
king's house. It was then just beginning to be daylight. Standing in
his boat Sigurd spoke to the men on the king's pier, avowed the killing
of Harald, and requested them to choose him as chief according to his
birth. But all replied with one voice, that they would never give
obedience to a man who had murdered his own brother. "And if thou art
not his brother, thou hast no claim by descent to be king." Thereupon
they outlawed Sigurd and all his men. Sigurd and his men saw it was
best for them to get away, and fled northward to North Hordaland.

King Harald Gille was thirty-two years old when he was slain. He was
buried in the old Christ Church in Bergen. It was a few months before
his death that pirates from Vendland, under their king, Rettibur,
pillaged and burned the town of Konungahella (Konghelle). The town was
afterward rebuilt, but never rose to the importance it had had before.


_Sigurd Mund, Eystein, and Inge Krokryg, the Sons of Harald Gille

Queen Ingerid, the widow of Harald Gille, immediately after her
husband's death held a consultation with the liegemen and court-men,
and they decided to send a fast sailing vessel to Throndhjem to request
the people there to take Harald's son (with Thora, Guthorm's daughter),
Sigurd, for king. Sigurd, who was then in his fourth year, was being
fostered by Gyrd Baardson. The people of Throndhjem assembled at a
Thing and proclaimed Sigurd king. Queen Ingerid herself proceeded to
Viken, where her son with Harald, the one year old Inge, was fostered
by Aamunde Gyrdson. A Borgar-Thing (Thing at Borg or Sarpsborg) was
called, at which Inge was chosen king. "Thus," it is related in
the saga, "almost the whole nation submitted to the brothers, and
principally because their father was considered holy; and the country
took the oath to them, that the kingly power should not go to any other
man as long as any of King Harald's sons were alive." It was agreed
that the chief liegemen should rule in the name of the brothers while
they were in their infancy.

Sigurd Slembe proceeded north to Nidaros, and took Magnus the Blind
out of the cloister in the hope that, by making common cause with him,
he could secure a better following. In this he succeeded to some
extent, many of King Magnus's old friends joining him. With quite a
force they went south to the mouth of Raumsdal Fjord. Here Sigurd and
Magnus divided their forces, Sigurd sailing westward to the Orkneys
to seek aid. Magnus proceeded with his force through Raumsdal over
to the Uplands, where he remained during the winter and collected an
army. When it was rumored in Viken that Magnus the Blind had come to
the Uplands, Thiostolf Aaleson and the other chiefs who were with
King Inge gathered a great army and proceeded up to Lake Miosen, and
met the forces of Magnus at Minne (1137). A great battle was fought,
and Magnus was defeated. It is related that Thiostolf Aaleson carried
the child-king, Inge, in his tucked-up cloak during the battle; but
Thiostolf was hard pressed by fighting, and it was said that King Inge
suffered an injury there, which he retained as long as he lived. His
back was knotted into a hump, and one leg was shorter than the other.
Hence he was afterward called Inge Krokryg, _i.e._, Inge the Hunchback.
Magnus fled eastward to Gautland, where he received aid from the
Swedes, but being again defeated at Krokaskog he fled to Denmark.

Magnus the Blind was well received by the Danish king, Erik Emune, who
collected a force and sailed north to Norway with two hundred and forty
ships. Attacks were made at different places, and the town of Oslo was
burned, including St. Halvard's Church; but King Erik soon returned
to Denmark after having suffered great losses, and the expedition was
pronounced a total failure.

Sigurd Slembe about this time returned from the West, and made cruises
against the pirates in Vendland, and occasionally harried the coasts of
Norway. In the fall of 1139 Sigurd Slembe and Magnus the Blind came up
to Norway from Denmark with thirty ships manned by Danes and Northmen.
They met the fleet of kings Sigurd and Inge at Holmengraa (the gray
holm), where a battle was fought. After the first assault, the Danes
fled home to Denmark with eighteen ships, and thus Sigurd had to fight
against a greatly superior force. One after another of his ships was
cleared. The blind and crippled Magnus lay in his bed and could do
nothing to defend himself. When his ship was almost entirely bare of
men, his old and faithful court-man, Reidar Griotgardson, took King
Magnus in his arms and tried to leap over to another ship with him. But
just then he was struck between his shoulders by a spear, which went
through him and also killed King Magnus. Reidar fell backward on the
deck and Magnus upon him. Everybody afterward spoke of how honorably
he had followed his master and rightful sovereign. "Happy are they
who are given such praise after death," adds the writer of the saga.
Sigurd Slembe leaped overboard and would probably have escaped, if
he had not been betrayed by one of his own men. He was captured and
put to death with the most horrible tortures. The men who took upon
themselves to kill him, and who had personal grievances to avenge,
broke his shin-bones and arms with an axe-hammer. Then they stripped
him and flogged him, broke his back, and finally hanged him. He bore
the tortures with great fortitude. He never moved and never altered
his voice, but spoke in a natural tone until he gave up the ghost,
occasionally singing hymns. Sigurd's friends afterward came from
Denmark for his body, took it with them and interred it in Mary Church
in Aalborg.

When Sigurd was dead, it was acknowledged by all, both enemies and
friends, that he was the most remarkable and most gifted man that had
lived in Norway within memory of anybody living; "but in some respects
he was an unlucky man," says the saga. Magnus the Blind was twenty-five
years old when he fell. Thiostolf Aaleson transported his body to Oslo
and buried it in St. Halvard's Church, beside King Sigurd, his father.

Norway now had peace for some years. About six years after Sigurd and
Inge had been proclaimed kings, a third son of Harald Gille, named
Eystein, came from Scotland accompanied by his mother, Biadok, and by
three men of high standing. They immediately proceeded to Throndhjem,
and at the Oere-Thing Eystein was chosen king and given a third of
the country with his brothers, Sigurd and Inge. King Harald himself
had spoken to his men about this son, so that Eystein did not have to
resort to the ordeal of iron in order to prove his right. A fourth son
of Harald Gille, Magnus, who was being fostered by the great chief
Kyrpinga-Orm at Studla, was also given the title of king, so that for
a short time there were nominally four kings; but Magnus was deformed,
lived but a short time, and died in his bed.

Shortly after the death of Harald Gille, his widow, Queen Ingerid, had
married the liegeman, Ottar Birting of Throndhjem, who thus became
King Inge's stepfather and guardian, and who strengthened King Inge's
government much during his childhood. King Sigurd was not very friendly
to Ottar Birting, because, as he thought, Ottar always took King Inge's
part. One evening Ottar was assassinated in Nidaros as he was going
to the evening service. His relatives and friends accused King Sigurd
of having instigated this deed and were much enraged against him. A
peasant army under the leadership of King Eystein came to Nidaros and
a conflict seemed inevitable. But King Sigurd then offered to clear
himself by the ordeal of iron, and peace was made. King Sigurd hastened
to the southern part of the country, and the ordeal was never heard of
again. Many other things contributed to make Sigurd unpopular. As he
grew up he became a very ungovernable and restless man. He was a stout
and strong man, of a brisk appearance. He had light brown hair and
quite a handsome face except that he had an ugly mouth. For that reason
he was called Sigurd Mund (Mouth). His great immorality gave general
offense to the people. He was not married, but had several illegitimate

In 1153 King Eystein made a cruise to the Orkneys. Some time after his
return there was a quarrel between him and King Sigurd, because the
latter had killed two of Eystein's court-men. A conference to settle
this affair was arranged in the winter (1154-55) in the Uplands. They
not only settled their difficulty, but privately arranged for a meeting
of the three kings in Bergen next summer. It was said that their plan
was to depose King Inge and give him two or three estates and a certain
income, as he had not health to be a king. Their plan might possibly
have succeeded if it had not been for King Inge's faithful man,
Gregorius Dagson, who was then Inge's guardian and adviser. He made
preparations for the meeting, and when Sigurd arrived in Bergen, King
Inge had a superior force. After some hostile acts, King Sigurd was
attacked in his lodgings by Gregorius Dagson and slain, June 10, 1155.
Two or three days after King Eystein arrived from the east with thirty
ships. He had along with him his brother's seven year old son Haakon,
a son of King Sigurd. When he heard what had happened in Bergen,
Eystein did not come up to the town, but anchored at Florevaag, while a
reconciliation between the brothers was attempted. The result was that
King Eystein returned to Viken and King Inge to Throndhjem, and they
were in a way reconciled; but they did not meet each other.

About a year later, after several quarrels and provoking incidents, the
two brothers met with hostile fleets at Fors, Ranrike, and made ready
for battle. So many of King Eystein's ships left him, however, and
joined King Inge that Eystein had no choice but flight. He was captured
by his brother-in-law, Simon Skalp, who murdered him after having
allowed him to hear mass (August 21, 1157). King Eystein was buried in
Fors Church.

Inge was now sole king, but it was only a short time that he was in
undisputed possession of the country. The adherents of the late kings,
Eystein and Sigurd, chose the latter's son as their chief and gave him
the title of king. He was then ten years old. He was afterward given
the surname Herdebred, _i.e._, the broad-shouldered. Haakon and his
adherents were outlawed by King Inge, who took possession of all their
estates, after they had sought refuge in Sweden. Gregorius Dagson was
then in Konungahella, where the danger was greatest, and had with him
a strong and fine body of men, with which he defended the country. He
defeated Haakon's force in a decisive battle at Konungahella (1159).
Later Haakon, who had strengthened his forces with a number of robbers
and adventurers, harried the frontier districts in Viken. One day he
came to the estate of Haldor Brynjolfson, a brother-in-law of Gregorius
Dagson, set fire to the house and burned it. Haldor came out, but was
instantly cut down together with his house-men; in all about twenty
men were killed. Haldor's wife, Sigrid, Gregorius Dagson's sister,
escaped to the forest in her night-dress; but the five year old Aamunde
Gyrdson, a nephew of Gregorius, was carried away by Haakon's men.

When Gregorius Dagson heard of this he took it much to heart, and set
out to avenge the outrage. On January 7, 1161, Gregorius caught sight
of Haakon's force. There was a river, called Befia, between them, and
in trying to cross it on the unsafe ice Gregorius fell through, and,
while struggling to get ashore, was killed by an arrow shot by one of
Haakon's men. When King Inge, who was then in Oslo, heard of Gregorius
Dagson's death, he cried like a child, and, after having recovered
himself, swore to attack Haakon, and either avenge his friend's death
or die in the attempt. On the 3d of February, 1161, King Inge's spies
brought him word that Haakon was coming toward the town (Oslo). The
king ordered his men called together, and when they were drawn up in
line they numbered nearly 4,800. When the night was well advanced, the
spies came and informed the king that Haakon and his army were coming
over the ice, which lay all the way from the town to the Hoved Isle.
King Inge then led his army out on the ice, and drew it up in order of
battle. The king and his brother Orm took their places under the banner
in the centre. On the right wing, toward the nunnery, was Gudrod, the
exiled king of the South Hebrides, and Jon Sveinson, a grandson of
Bergthor Buk. On the left wing, toward Thrælaberg, stood the chiefs
Simon Skalp and Gudbrand Skafhoggson, who was married to King Eystein
Magnusson's daughter Maria. When Haakon and his army came near to King
Inge's array, both sides raised a war shout. But then it appeared that
there were traitors in Inge's army. Gudrod and Jon gave the enemy a
signal, and when Haakon's men in consequence turned that way, Gudrod
immediately fled with 1,800 men; and Jon, and a great body of men with
him, ran over to Haakon's army and assisted them in the fight. When
this news was told to King Inge, he said: "Such is the difference
between my friends. Never would Gregorius have done so in his life."
Some of Inge's men now advised him to mount a horse and ride up to
Raumarike, where he could get help. But he refused to do so. "I have
heard you often say, and I think truly, that it was of little use to my
brother Eystein that he took to flight; and yet he was in many ways an
abler man than I. I was in the second year of my age when I was chosen
king of Norway, and I am now twenty-six. I have had misfortune and
sorrow under my kingly dignity, rather than pleasure and peaceful days.
I have had many battles; and it is my greatest luck that I have never
fled, even when fighting against a superior force. God will dispose of
my life, but I shall never betake myself to flight." As a result of the
traitors' work Haakon gained a complete victory. When daylight came,
King Inge was among the fallen. His brother Orm tried to continue the
battle, but at last had to take flight. On the following day Orm was
to have married Ragna, a daughter of Nikolas Mase and widow of King
Eystein; but after the battle Orm fled to Svithiod, Sweden, where his
brother Magnus was then king. Haakon and his men took possession of
the town, and feasted on what had been prepared for the wedding. Those
of Inge's friends who survived the battle fled in all directions. Only
Kristina, Sigurd the Crusader's daughter, remained in town, for she had
a promise to the late king to fulfil. She found King Inge's body, and
had it laid in the stone wall of Halvard's Church, on the south side
below the choir.


_The Church_

From the time of Olaf Kyrre (the Quiet) there were three bishops in
Norway; one in Nidaros, one in Bergen, and one in Oslo. During the
reign of Kings Eystein and Sigurd the Crusader a bishopric was also
established in Stavanger. The bishops were chosen by the king, and the
bishops appointed the priests.

For the last half century the Norwegian Church, as well as the Swedish,
had been under the Danish archbishop at Lund. This arrangement appeared
very unsatisfactory, as the Norwegian Church covered extended territory
which called for special supervision. Since the time of Sigurd the
Crusader there had been a constant desire to obtain an independent
Norwegian archbishopric. Finally, during the reign of Harald Gille's
sons, the pope sent Cardinal Nicholas Breakspear of Alba from Rome to
Norway (1152). Cardinal Nicholas, who was an Englishman by birth and
a very able and conscientious man, arrived in Nidaros, and seems to
have immediately understood the situation. The saga says that he had
taken offence at the brothers Sigurd and Eystein. The reason is not
stated, but it was perhaps on account of their immoral life. "They were
obliged to come to a reconciliation with him; on the other hand, he
stood on the most affectionate terms with King Inge, whom he called
his son." When an understanding had been arranged with the kings, the
cardinal had John Birgerson consecrated archbishop of Throndhjem and
gave him the consecrated vestment called pallium. He further settled
that the archbishop's seat should be in Nidaros, in Christ Church,
where King Olaf the Saint reposed. At the same time a new bishopric
was established at Hamar, on Lake Miosen. Under the jurisdiction of
the archbishopric at Nidaros were included the four other bishoprics
of Norway, Oslo, Hamar, Stavanger, and Bergen, and those of the
dependencies, Iceland, the Orkneys, the Faroes, Greenland, and the
Hebrides with the Isle of Man.

The establishment of the archbishopric at Nidaros was probably the most
important result of the mission of Cardinal Nicholas, but he also left
other traces of his work. He changed the manner of choosing bishops, so
that instead of being appointed by the king they were now to be elected
by the canonical communities established at the cathedrals. The bishops
after this exercised much greater authority than they had done before.

The saga says of Cardinal Nicholas that "he improved many of the
customs of the Northmen while he was in the country. There never came
a foreigner to Norway whom all men respected so highly, or who could
govern the people so well as he did. After some time he returned to the
South with many friendly presents, and declared ever afterward that he
was the greatest friend of the people of Norway."

Cardinal Nicholas was, shortly after his return to Rome, elected pope
and consecrated under the name of Adrian IV.

There were also several cloisters for monks in Norway at this time.
They were generally quite wealthy, as many people would give all they
had to the cloisters. There were at Throndhjem two cloisters, the
Nidarholm and Elgeseter; in Bergen, Munkeliv, and a little further
south Lyse Cloister, and near Oslo the Hoved Isle. At Gimsoe near Skien
there was a convent for nuns.


_Haakon Herdebred (1161-1162)--Erling Skakke_

After the fall of King Inge in the battle at Oslo, Haakon Herdebred
(the Broad-shouldered) took possession of the whole country. He
distributed all the offices, in the towns and in the country, among
his own friends. As he was only about fourteen years old, he could
not, of course, be expected to attend personally to the affairs of the
government; but his liegemen governed in his name.

Many of the adherents of the late King Inge refused to acknowledge King
Haakon. Among them was the powerful and wily chieftain Erling Skakke.
He was of a distinguished family, which resided on the Studla estate
in Söndhordland. In his youth he had made a crusade to the Holy Land.
On his way back through the Mediterranean he had a fight with pirates
and was wounded in the neck, which compelled him afterward to carry his
head on one side; hence his surname (_skakke_, wry). By the assistance
of King Inge he obtained in marriage Kristina, a daughter of King
Sigurd the Crusader and Queen Malmfrid. A year after their marriage she
bore him a son, who was named Magnus.

Erling Skakke called together in Bergen all the chiefs who had been
attached to King Inge, and all his court-men, and the house-men of the
late Gregorius Dagson. When they met they discussed the situation, and
resolved to keep up their party and to elect a king in opposition to
Haakon. Erling proposed to make the boy Nicholas, a son of Simon Skalp
and Harald Gille's daughter Maria, king; but the others objected to
this, and, after some discussion, Erling was persuaded to do what had
probably been his intention from the beginning, namely, to let his own
son, Magnus, be proclaimed king, although this was against the law of
the country, the boy not being of royal birth on his father's side. A
Thing was held in the town, and here Magnus Erlingson, then five years
old, was proclaimed king of the whole country.

Erling did not consider himself strong enough to immediately take
up the fight with King Haakon. He therefore proceeded to Denmark,
accompanied by his son and a large party. The Danish king, Valdemar the
Great, received them hospitably and promised to furnish the necessary
help to win and retain Norway, on condition that King Valdemar was to
get that part of Norway which his ancestors, Harald Gormson and Svein
Tjuguskeg, had possessed. With the help obtained in Denmark, Erling
crossed over from Jutland to Agder, and thence sailed northward to
Bergen, where he punished those who had given allegiance to Haakon.
Then he returned along the coast, and attacked and defeated Haakon at
Tunsberg. Haakon proceeded to Throndhjem, where he had most of his
friends, and Erling returned to Bergen, after having reduced the whole
of Viken in obedience to King Magnus.

In the spring King Haakon started southward with quite a fleet. By a
stratagem Erling succeeded in surprising him, when his forces were
divided, at Sekken, in Raumsdal, where a battle was fought. Haakon was
defeated, and the young king himself was killed (1162). Haakon's body
was buried in Raumsdal; but afterward his brother, King Sverre, had the
body removed to Nidaros and laid in the stone wall in Christ Church
south of the choir.


_Magnus Erlingson (1162-1184)--The Birchlegs_

After the battle of Sekken, Erling Skakke proceeded with King Magnus
and the whole army up to Nidaros, where the Thing was convened, and
Magnus was proclaimed king of all Norway. They remained there but
a short time, however, for Erling did not put great faith in the
Throndhjem people. Erling returned with his son to Bergen, and later in
the fall went to Tunsberg, where he intended to stay during the winter.

Some of the late King Haakon's chiefs, who had not been present at the
battle, among them Earl Sigurd of Reyr, refused to acknowledge King
Magnus. They left their ships in Raumsdal and went over to Uplands,
where they found many adherents. They chose for their king a young son
of King Sigurd Mund, named Sigurd Markusfostre (_i.e._, foster-son
of Markus), who had been brought up by Markus of Skog, a friend and
relative of Earl Sigurd. Quite an army was collected, but as the
territory they held was small, their foraging became burdensome to the
people, and there was considerable dissatisfaction. Erling Skakke took
advantage of this, and when finally a battle was fought at Ree, near
Tunsberg, he easily defeated Sigurd's adherents. Earl Sigurd fell in
the battle (February, 1163). Sigurd Markusfostre and his foster-father
were captured and killed in the fall of the same year.

The archbishop in Nidaros was at that time Eystein, a son of Erlend
Himalde, who descended from a very influential family in the Throndhjem
district. In the summer of 1164 Erling Skakke had a conference with
Archbishop Eystein in Bergen, where all the bishops of the country were
then assembled, together with the legate from Rome, Stephanus. The
result of the conference was that Magnus was to be anointed and crowned
as king by the archbishop, while on the other hand it was agreed that
in the future the church--represented by the archbishop and the other
bishops, together with twelve leading men from each bishopric selected
by the bishop--was to decide at the death of a king which one of his
heirs was to succeed him; and if the king left no heirs of whom the
magnates approved, they were to elect a successor to the throne. In
the presence of the papal legate, the bishops, and a great many other
clergymen, King Magnus, who was then eight years old, was anointed and
crowned by the archbishop. Magnus, Erling's son, was the first crowned
king in Norway. By this solemn act Erling Skakke believed he had
secured his son's dynasty on the throne, and he could now with greater
safety turn his whole attention to internal and foreign enemies, as he
felt convinced that the greater part of the people would rally around
the anointed king.

When King Valdemar of Denmark heard that Erling Skakke had defeated
Haakon Herdebred and Sigurd Markusfostre, and that his son Magnus had
been crowned king of the whole country, he sent a message to Erling
and reminded him of the agreement, by which Viken was to be ceded
to the Danish king, if Magnus became king of Norway. Erling and his
advisers showed no inclination to adhere to the agreement, and the
messenger returned to Denmark without having accomplished anything.
In the spring of 1165 King Valdemar sailed with a fleet north to
Viken in order to take possession of the province. He tried peaceful
proceedings; but he was so coolly received by the people of Viken that
he returned to Denmark, preferring, as he said to his men, to use his
army against the heathens of Vendland. The hostility between Norway and
Denmark, however, lasted some time. Erling made a cruise to Jutland
and defeated the Danes in a battle at Dyrsaa, and returned to Norway
with a great booty. A second expedition of King Valdemar to Viken
in the spring of 1168 became as indecisive as the first, so far as
establishing any authority there; but he dealt the inhabitants of Viken
a hurtful blow by forbidding them to trade with Denmark, at the same
time forbidding the Danes to export grain to Norway.

While Erling Skakke was absent on an expedition to Denmark, a band of
rebels was organized under the leadership of a new pretender, Olaf, a
son of King Eystein Magnusson's daughter Maria, in her marriage with
the chief Gudbrand Skafhoggson, who fell with King Inge in the battle at
Oslo. Olaf was brought up by an influential man named Sigurd Agn-Hat.
Probably from the latter's surname the adherents of Olaf were called
Hat-Swains (Hættesveiner). The Hat-Swains proclaimed Olaf king, and
went through the Uplands, and sometimes down to Viken, or east to the
forest settlements. At Rydjokel, near Lake Oiern, they surprised
Erling Skakke and his men early one morning, and in the fight that
followed killed several of Erling's men and drove the remainder down
to their ships. Because Olaf did not succeed in capturing Erling,
although the odds were all in his favor, he was afterward called Olaf
the Unlucky (Ugæva). The following spring the Hat-Swains met Erling
in battle at Stanger, in the eastern part of Viken, where Erling won
a decisive victory. Sigurd Agn-Hat and many others of Olaf's men fell
here. Olaf escaped by flight, went south to Denmark, and spent the
winter in Aalborg, where he died of sickness the following spring

The interruption of the navigation between Norway and Denmark under
the decree of King Valdemar worked great hardship to the Norwegians,
especially the inhabitants of Viken, and Erling Skakke was finally
induced to open negotiations for peace. He spent a winter in Denmark,
and in the following spring peace was finally concluded, the terms
being that Viken should be under the sovereignty of the Danish king,
but Erling was to hold it in fief as King Valdemar's vassal with the
title of Earl. Erling returned to Norway, and the peace with Denmark
was afterward well preserved.

Erling Skakke considered it a policy of necessity to remove any person
who by reason of royal birth might become rivals of his son to the
throne. King Sigurd Mund had left a daughter named Cecilia. As soon
as she became old enough, he sent her to Vermeland and made her the
mistress of Folkvid the lawman, knowing that the children from such a
connection could not become dangerous rivals. About the same time one
of the king's men discovered and brought to Erling a young man named
Harald, who in all secrecy had been brought up in the Uplands. He was
the son of Erling's own wife Kristina, and his father was the late
King Sigurd Mund. An illicit intimacy between such near relatives as
Kristina and Sigurd was, under the church laws of the time, considered
one of the greatest sins, and everything had therefore been done to
keep the matter secret, and Kristina had heretofore succeeded in
concealing her guilt. When Erling saw the illegitimate son of his wife
before him, he said very little, and those present understood that the
young man was doomed. King Magnus, who had taken a liking to Harald,
interceded in his favor; but his father answered: "Thou wouldst govern
this kingdom but a short time in peace and safety, if thou wert to
follow the counsels of the heart only." Earl Erling ordered Harald to
be taken to Nordnes, where he was beheaded.

Erling Skakke, however, did not succeed in removing all pretenders.
In the year 1174 there appeared on the scene a young man called
Eystein, who claimed to be a son of King Eystein Haraldson. He was
small of stature, and had a fine, soft face, and he was therefore
generally called Eystein Meyla (Little Maiden). He first went on a
visit to Gautland to Earl Birger Brosa, who was married to Eystein's
aunt, Brigida, a daughter of Harald Gille. They received him well,
and furnished him some assistance in men and money. Eystein then
proceeded to Norway, and when he came to Viken many people flocked
to him. His followers proclaimed him king, and he remained in Viken
during the winter. His means of subsistence being soon exhausted, they
commenced to rob and steal wherever there was an opportunity. They
were not strong enough to remain long in any one place, but roamed
about in mountains and forests. They suffered great hardships. Their
clothes being worn out, they wound the bark of the birch-tree about
their legs, and therefore the people called them Birkebeiner (_i.e._,
Birchlegs). During the two years which the Birchlegs spent in and about
Viken (1174-76), they had three battles in regular array with the
peasants, and were victorious in them all; but at Krokaskog they came
near meeting a disaster in encountering a superior force, and they only
saved themselves by a hasty flight.

In the third summer (1176), when Magnus had been king for thirteen
years, the Birchlegs started on a more serious expedition. They
procured ships and sailed along the coast gathering goods and men.
After having passed out of Viken they proceeded with great speed
northward to Nidaros, and no news preceded them until they reached
the Throndhjem Fjord. Erling and his son Magnus, who were in Bergen,
did not hear of their having sailed by. The Birchlegs easily overcame
the opposition in Nidaros, and Eystein was proclaimed king by the
Throndhjem people, who had never liked King Magnus. The Birchlegs
afterward proceeded to Orkedal, where, upon reviewing the troops, they
found that they had about 2,400 men. They then went to the Uplands, and
on to Thoten and Hadeland, and from there to Ringerike, subduing the
country wherever they came.

Earl Erling and King Magnus had remained in Bergen while the Birchlegs
were in the North. Then they agreed that Erling should remain with a
strong force in Bergen, in case the enemy should come down along the
coast, while King Magnus, who was now twenty years old, was to go
to Viken and take up his residence in Tunsberg, in order to protect
that part of the country from possible enemies. King Magnus went to
Tunsberg, where he and Orm, "King's-brother," had their Christmas
festivities. In January, 1177, King Magnus with his army met the
Birchlegs at Ree, and won a decisive victory over them. The whole
body of the Birchlegs was scattered far and wide. Eystein fled into
a peasant's house, and begged for his life; but the peasant killed
him and brought his body to King Magnus at the Ramnes farm. All the
Birchlegs took flight, as they had no hope of mercy from Erling Skakke
or King Magnus. Some went to Thelemark, where they had their families,
and others proceeded east across the frontier to Sweden. King Magnus's
men pursued the fugitives for a time, and killed as many as they could

King Magnus then returned to Tunsberg, and gained great renown by this
victory. It had heretofore been said by all that Erling, his father,
was his best shield and support. But after gaining a victory over so
strong and numerous a force with fewer men, King Magnus had shown
that he could stand alone, and it was predicted that he would become
a warrior as much greater than his father, Earl Erling, as he was

[12] With this battle at Ree end the Sagas of the Norse Kings by Snorre

The defeated Birchlegs, who fled across the Swedish frontier, met in
Vermeland a man who was especially qualified to take the leadership of
this headless band. His name was Sverre, and he claimed to be a son of
King Sigurd Mund. He was at present staying with his sister Cecilia,
who was the mistress of Folkvid lawman.

During the latter part of the reign of Harald Gille's sons a combmaker
in Bergen by the name of Unas married a girl by the name of Gunhild.
Unas was probably a Faroe Islander by birth; his brother Roe
became bishop of the Faroe Islands in 1157. Gunhild belonged to a
distinguished family in western Norway. Shortly after their marriage
Gunhild bore a son, who was named Sverre, and everybody supposed that
Unas was his father. Sverre remained in Bergen until he was five
years old, when he was sent over to the Faroe Islands, to be brought
up by Unas's brother Roe. He was educated for the priesthood and was
in time ordained as deacon. When he was twenty-four years old, his
mother disclosed to him the fact that Unas, who had died a short time
ago, was not his father, but that he was the son of King Sigurd Mund.
From that day Sverre became very thoughtful. It appeared to him to
be too great a task to make war on King Magnus and Earl Erling; but,
on the other hand, it did not seem manful to sit quietly as a poor
peasant's son when he was the son of a king. He therefore gave up his
clerical position and embarked for Norway. Here he was informed that
his kinsman, Eystein Meyla, had accepted the title of king from the
Birchlegs; but he did not consider it wise to enter into any dealings
with him. Without making himself known, he spent some time in different
parts of Norway, investigating the sentiment of the people. He made
the acquaintance of Earl Erling and King Magnus, and often talked with
them and their court-men, who found the young clergyman from the Faroe
Islands a pleasant and entertaining companion, and by his cunning he
learned from them many things which they would not have talked about if
they had known who he was, or what plans he was nourishing. The next
winter he went to Sweden, first to Earl Birger and then to his sister
Cecilia in Vermeland, where he met the remnants of the Birchleg band.
The Birchlegs told him of the fall of Eystein Meyla and urged him to
become their chief. Sverre for a long time declined, as the whole band
consisted of only seventy men, who were all in great poverty, some
of them wounded and without clothes, and all almost unarmed. All his
objections, however, were of no avail, and they finally compelled him
to become their chief.

In the spring of 1177 Sverre set out with his seventy men to fight for
the crown of Norway. He first went south toward Viken, and on the way
he was joined by so many that, when he came to Saurboe, he had four
hundred and twenty men. He held a Thing, and against his protest they
proclaimed him king. Sverre soon discovered that a good many of his
followers were but thieves and rascals, who were very much dissatisfied
when he forbade them to rob and plunder the peasants. He started
back toward Vermeland, and when he arrived at Eidskog and mustered
his force, he found that it had again shrunk to seventy men. As he
heard that the peasants of Thelemark, some of whom had served in the
Birchleg bands under Eystein Meyla, were unfriendly to Earl Erling and
King Magnus, he sent messages to them and promised to redress their
grievances if they would join him. They were requested to meet him up
north, where he was now going. Sverre well understood that, with his
small force, he could not reach the Throndhjem country through the
eastern, well-populated district, so he decided to proceed by unknown
and almost impassable roads and make an unexpected invasion into the
country. He passed through dense forests and wildernesses, through
Dalarne and Jemteland, where he and his men underwent untold hardships.
At times they had nothing to eat but sap, bark, and berries, dug up
from under the snow. Finally, after many struggles, Sverre reached his
destination early in June, 1177. His band had received some additions
on his way through Jemteland, and he was now joined by eighty peasants
from Thelemark, so that he had a force of about two hundred men.
Outside of Nidaros he defeated and dispersed an army that was sent
against him, and then marched into the town, where he met practically
no opposition. He showed himself as a generous victor, and gave quarter
to all who asked for it. After a few successful expeditions in the
neighborhood he summoned the Oere-Thing, where he was proclaimed king
of Norway (1177).

When King Magnus and Earl Erling heard what had been going on in
Throndhjem, they gathered a large fleet and sailed northward along
the coast. Sverre's force was so small that he did not dare to await
their arrival, but left Nidaros with his men and proceeded across the
mountains toward the southern part of the country. For two years he and
his men now led a life of want and suffering, wandering from district
to district, living most of the time in the forests and mountains, and
subsisting on what they could obtain on their foraging expeditions into
the settlements. They were pursued from time to time by King Magnus's
men, and had many small battles with them. It was only by Sverre's
great cunning, wisdom and perseverance that they got through some of
the greatest dangers.

At last, in June, 1179, Sverre considered himself strong enough to
meet Erling and Magnus, and in a battle at Kalveskindet, near Nidaros,
he defeated their forces. Earl Erling fell in the battle, and King
Magnus saved himself by flight. In the battle King Magnus suffered
a considerable loss. Several of his prominent liegemen and sixty
court-men were slain. Sverre captured most of the enemy's ships, among
them the "Olafssuden," which King Magnus himself had commanded. Erling
Skakke was buried outside the Christ Church, and Sverre, who seldom
lost an opportunity to make a speech, held a funeral sermon over him.

The battle at Kalveskindet and the fall of Earl Erling brought a great
change in the fortunes of Sverre and the Birchlegs. Sverre's power and
influence grew rapidly, and in a short time the greater part of the
people outside of King Magnus's immediate surroundings were willing
to acknowledge him as king. Heretofore the name "Birchlegs" had been
a contemptuous nickname; but now it became an honorable appellation,
which everybody was proud to carry. King Magnus and Sverre seemed to
have exchanged roles. Magnus, the anointed and crowned king, was now
considered the usurper, while Sverre was considered the rightful king.
Magnus's court-men and men-at-arms were soon looked upon as a band of
adventurers, and they were called "Heklungs," because it was told of
them that they had once robbed a beggar-woman, who had her few coins
wrapped up in her cloak (_hekl_).

After the battle at Kalveskindet, King Sverre's men received pay for
their services, and he distributed among them the honors and dignities
which he had promised them. He appointed district officers throughout
the whole of the Throndhjem country. Many prominent and high-born
men of this part of the country soon came to him and offered their
allegiance, and he therefore declared that Throndhjem should hereafter
be considered his real home, and he called the people there his dearest
subjects, remembering what loyalty they had always shown his father and
his family.

King Magnus spent the year following his defeat mostly in Bergen,
where he had many strong friends, among them Archbishop Eystein and
Orm King's-Brother (a half-brother of Harald Gille's sons). Afterward
he went to Viken, where he spent the winter and gathered an army for
a new expedition against his rival. After a short stay at Nidaros,
King Sverre made a levy throughout Throndhjem, and proceeded with a
fleet south to Bergen; but when he arrived there Magnus had already
gone to Viken. He therefore returned to Nidaros, but on his way north
he installed officers in all the districts he passed. The winter of
1179-80 he spent in Nidaros.

In the spring King Magnus appeared outside of Nidaros with a force much
more numerous than the one Sverre had been able to muster, and a bloody
battle was fought on the plains of the Ilevolds. The battle resulted in
a complete victory for Sverre. King Magnus and some of his chiefs saved
themselves by flight and sailed south with a few ships.

King Magnus went first to Bergen, but soon after proceeded south to his
kinsman, King Valdemar of Denmark, by whom he was well received. But
Orm King's-Brother went to Viken, and Archbishop Eystein sailed over
to England, where he remained for three years. From here he had Sverre
declared under the ban of the church; but Sverre does not seem to have
paid any attention to this step.

About a month after the battle at the Ilevolds, King Sverre appeared
with his fleet outside of Bergen. Resistance was useless, and the
inhabitants gave him a good reception. He remained in Bergen all winter
(1180-81), and early in the spring quelled an uprising of peasants
under the leadership of Jon Kutiza. Sverre promptly punished the
rebels, and the peasants had to pay heavy fines. Later in the spring
King Magnus and Orm King's-Brother came north with a strong fleet, and
a battle was fought at Nordnes, near Bergen. A good many men fell on
both sides; but Magnus was again defeated and compelled to save himself
by flight. The Birchlegs captured eighteen of Magnus's ships and
brought them into the town. They also took other rich booty, for Magnus
was at that time well supplied with money and goods.

Magnus went to Stavanger, and it was but a short time before he was
again ready to attack Sverre at Bergen. This time, however, Sverre
wished to avoid a battle, and sailed with his ships north to Nidaros,
where he proceeded to improve the fortifications of the town. Meanwhile
Magnus remained in Bergen.

During Sverre's stay in Nidaros there came to him a young man named
Erik, who claimed to be a son of King Sigurd Mund. He had been
in many foreign lands, had been in the service of the emperor at
Constantinople, and on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he had
bathed in the river Jordan. He now asked leave to prove his royal
descent by the iron ordeal. After a consultation with his friends and
chiefs, Sverre permitted him to undergo the ordeal upon the condition
that he must not aspire to the crown. Sverre prescribed the oath to be
taken by the young man in submitting to the ordeal to prove that he was
the son of Sigurd Mund "and the brother of Sverre." In this way Sverre
meant to obtain incidentally a confirmation of his own title. But Erik
refused to undertake to establish the descent of anybody but himself,
and omitted the additional words. He successfully underwent the ordeal,
and King Sverre acknowledged him as his brother, and gave him a command
in his royal guard.

The conflict between Sverre and Magnus continued for three years
more. In 1181 King Sverre opened negotiations for a cessation of
hostilities, offering first to share the kingdom with Magnus, and
afterward proposing that they should reign alternately for three years
each. Magnus, however, declined all offers, and the war was continued.
During the years 1181 and 1182, King Magnus made three attacks on the
Birchlegs at Nidaros with varying success. In the summer of 1183 Sverre
sailed with a fleet down to Bergen, where he surprised and defeated the
Heklungs, and compelled Magnus to flee east to Viken. The Birchlegs
did not pursue the enemy very far, but returned to Bergen, and took
possession of Magnus's whole fleet and a rich booty. Magnus's crown,
sceptre and whole coronation outfit fell into Sverre's hands. Many men,
who had heretofore been attached to Magnus, now joined King Sverre and
swore him allegiance. Archbishop Eystein, who had just returned to
the country after a three years' sojourn in England, was reconciled
to King Sverre, and returned to his archbishopric in Nidaros. After
a short stay in Bergen, and having installed district officers in
Sogn, Hordaland, and Rogaland, Sverre returned with his whole army to
Nidaros. Magnus again proceeded to Denmark, where the previous year
King Knut VI. had succeeded his father, Valdemar the Great, on the

Magnus made a final attempt to defeat Sverre in the summer of 1184,
when he came up from Denmark with a large fleet. King Sverre had sailed
into the Norefjord, a narrow arm of the Sognefjord, in order to punish
the inhabitants of Sogn for having killed his prefect, Ivar Darre,
and some other officers. Magnus sailed in after him with his greatly
superior force, and a fierce battle was fought at Fimreite, June 15,
1184. The Birchlegs fought with great heroism, and a large number of
men fell. The battle commenced in the afternoon. At sundown the first
Heklungs turned to flee, and at midnight the battle was finished. The
Heklungs had been completely routed. Two thousand men had fallen, among
them King Magnus himself and the most prominent chieftains, the flower
of the aristocracy of Gulathingslag and Viken. Among the slain were
Harald, the son of King Inge; Orm King's-Brother and his son, Ivar
Steig; Aasbiorn Jonson of Thiorn; Ragnvald, the son of Jon Hallkelson;
Eindride Torve, Jon Kutiza's son, and many other prominent men.

King Magnus was twenty-eight years old at the time of his death, having
borne the title of king for twenty-three years. His body was found two
days after the battle, and was brought to Bergen, where it was buried
with great ceremony.


_Sverre Sigurdson (1184-1202)_

After the fall of Magnus Erlingson, King Sverre brought the whole
country under his control, and no one dared to refuse him obedience.
The same sagacity that he had shown in his struggles to gain the power,
he also used in his efforts to maintain and strengthen it. He knew that
he could expect nothing from the magnates of the powerful families, who
resided on the largest estates throughout the country, and who looked
with contempt upon the poor and lowly people that had constituted
his following and helped him into power. He had to try to weaken the
influence of this higher class and to look to the common people for
his main support. The changes which King Sverre introduced in the
domestic conditions of the country were in close coherence with the
development of the country since the time of Harald the Fairhaired and
Olaf the Saint. The kingdom of his predecessor had been upheld by the
clergy and the aristocracy, the latter endeavoring to strengthen its
power and dignity by united action, while the clergy tried to enforce
the hierarchical principles of the time in the Church of Norway. King
Sverre, on the other hand, depended upon the masses of the people,
with their traditions and customs. For their benefit King Sverre
appointed a new class of officers, who were called lawmen. They were
to be learned in the law, and their duty was to see that the law was
justly administered at the Things, and to aid the peasants in all legal
matters. There had been a similar class of officers before, bearing the
same title, but they had been elected at the Things, while from now
on they were appointed by the king, especially for the benefit of the
poorer classes, who themselves had little knowledge of the law, and
often needed protection against the rich and powerful. Another class of
officers whose functions were changed in such a manner as to greatly
strengthen the king's power were the prefects (_Sysselmen_), whom the
king appointed throughout the country. These prefects did not have
the inherited dignity of the liegemen (_lendermen_), who were royal
vassals and exercised independent authority, but were servants of the
king and the representatives of his power. They supplanted the liegemen
in their executive and judicial functions, and gradually transferred to
the crown a great part of the power of the aristocracy.

Sverre was too shrewd to break entirely or too suddenly with the old
influences, and where they had been loyal, he selected men from the
high old families for his officers. This was especially the case in
the Throndhjem country, where his party was strongest. But he found
positions enough with which to reward the faithful men who had followed
him through his struggles. Some were made chiefs in the army, and some
were appointed prefects; some were given landed estates, and others
were helped to rich marriages. Baard Guthormson of Rein was married to
the king's own sister, Cecilia, after her marriage with Folkvid Lawman
had been declared void. King Sverre himself married Margreta, a sister
of the Swedish king, Knut Erikson. Before this marriage King Sverre
had four children, namely, two sons, Sigurd (called Lavard) and Haakon,
and two daughters, Cecilia and Ingeborg. With Queen Margreta he had
only a daughter, Kristina.

The peace was not of long duration. The remnants of the Heklung party,
which had been broken up by the battle in Norefjord, with several
leading men, only waited for a favorable opportunity to start a revolt,
and the opportunity soon offered itself. A monk, who called himself Jon
and claimed to be a son of King Inge the Hunchback, left the cloister
on the island near Oslo, and soon gathered about him a numerous band.
He first went to Tunsberg, where, in September, 1185, he attacked and
killed one of Sverre's prefects together with thirty men, and then
summoned a Thing and was proclaimed king. The Birchlegs called this new
party the Kuvlungs or Cowlmen, because their leader had worn a monk's
hood or cowl. The Kuvlungs continued the rebellion for three years with
varying success. They made several attacks on Bergen and Nidaros, and
at times their strength was quite formidable. Finally their band was
destroyed in Bergen, in December, 1188, and their leader was killed.
After his death it appears to have been satisfactorily proven that Jon
Kuvlung was not the son of King Inge the Hunchback, as he had claimed.

The rebellious spirit had become quite general, and King Sverre
had many of these revolts to suppress. After the Kuvlung party had
been broken up, a new band, called the Varbelgs (Wolf Skins), was
organized by the chief, Simon Kaareson, who had brought from Denmark,
as a pretender to the throne, a boy named Vikar, said to be a son
of King Magnus Erlingson. This party was badly defeated in a battle
near Tunsberg, where Simon Kaareson and the little Vikar were both
killed. Another band, under the leadership of Thorleif Breidskegg,
who claimed to be a son of King Eystein Haraldson, was next destroyed
in Viken (1191). The next party that made war on King Sverre were the
Oyskeggs (the Islanders), so called because they received considerable
aid from the Orkney Islands, where Earl Harald favored them. Their
leaders were Hallkel Jonson, who was married to King Magnus Erlingson's
sister Ragnhild, and Olaf, a brother-in-law of Earl Harald of the
Orkneys. They chose Sigurd, a son of King Magnus, as their king. The
Oyskeggs developed a considerable strength in Viken, and from there
made piratical expeditions to the Danish waters and the Baltic, and
therefore boastingly called themselves the Goldlegs (_Gullbeiner_).
One of the men, whom King Sverre sent against them, Sigurd Jarlson
(earl's son), an illegitimate son of Erling Skakke, turned traitor,
and became one of the leaders of Sverre's enemies. In the fall of 1193
the Oyskeggs captured Bergen without much resistance, King Sverre
being then in Throndhjem. In the spring King Sverre came south with a
fleet, and a bloody battle was fought at Florevaag, near Bergen (April
3, 1194). The Oyskeggs were finally defeated, a great number of them,
including Hallkel Jonson, Olaf (Earl Harald's brother-in-law), and
Sigurd Magnusson, the pretender, being slain. King Sverre had thus
gained a victory, but at great cost, for many of his best men had
fallen, or died from the wounds they had received in the battle. Among
the latter was Baard Guthormson of Rein.

While King Sverre was almost constantly engaged in quelling rebellion,
he was also carrying on a hard struggle with the hierarchy. Archbishop
Eystein had been obliged to make peace with King Sverre; but when
Eystein died (1188), Bishop Erik of Stavanger, a man with strong
hierarchical tendencies, became his successor. Archbishop Erik named
as his own successor to the bishopric of Stavanger one of Sverre's
bitter enemies, Nicholas Arneson, a half-brother of King Inge the
Hunchback. King Sverre refused to recognize this selection, because
he had not been consulted, and named another in his place. Finally,
through the mediation of Queen Margreta, who was a relative of Nicholas
Arneson, the matter was compromised, and Sverre consented to Nicholas
being installed as bishop in Oslo. The fight between the king and the
hierarchy was, however, continued in other matters. Archbishop Erik
was constantly trying to extend the prerogatives of his office. He
claimed the exclusive right to the control of all church property;
he wanted the tribute to the church paid according to actual weight
in silver instead of in current coin, whereby he would about double
the tax, and, finally, he wanted to surround himself with a court
and keep ninety men-at-arms in his service, while the law allowed
only thirty men altogether, and only twelve of them armed. During his
stay in Nidaros, in 1191-92, King Sverre summoned a Thing to have
these matters settled. The law was read, and the case was decided in
favor of the king. Archbishop Erik now found the surroundings too
uncomfortable, and hurried away from the town, taking with him all the
goods he could collect. He proceeded to Denmark, where he was cordially
received by Archbishop Absalon. Shortly after his arrival in Denmark he
prepared a letter to the pope, in which he complained of King Sverre's
infringements on the rights of the Church. In response to this letter,
Pope Celestinus III., on the 15th of June, 1194, declared King Sverre
in the ban of the church. Before the papal bull reached Norway,
however, King Sverre had compelled the bishops to crown him at Bergen,
June 29, 1194. For some time King Sverre treated the papal bull with
contempt, and even intimated that it was an invention of the bishops in
Denmark; but later he sent ambassadors, under the leadership of Bishop
Thore of Hamar, with a message to the Pope, in which he put matters in
a different light from that given them by Archbishop Erik. The fate
of these ambassadors is enveloped in mystery. They remained in Rome
till the end of 1196, and then started for home. During their homeward
journey they were suddenly taken sick in Denmark and died, having
probably been poisoned. Some time afterward some Danes came to King
Sverre with letters bearing the seal of the Pope, and which, they said,
had been pawned with them by the ambassadors for a certain amount of
money. Sverre redeemed the documents, which purported to revoke the ban
against the king, and had them publicly read in the churches. Whether
King Sverre knew that these documents were not genuine does not appear.

By the united efforts of King Sverre's enemies among the clergy and
the aristocracy a rebellious band was organized in 1196, which was
to become more dangerous than all the enemies he had heretofore had
to fight. The principal leader of this movement was Bishop Nicholas
Arneson, who was prepared to do anything to overthrow King Sverre. A
favorable opportunity offered itself. The Byzantine emperor, Alexios
Komnenos, had sent a Norwegian named Reidar the Messenger (_Sendemand_)
to Norway to ask King Sverre to send him 1,200 good mercenaries for
the service of the emperor. King Sverre replied that he had no troops
to spare; but he was persuaded to allow Reidar to enlist such sons of
peasants and traders as might wish to enter the service of the emperor.
After Reidar had collected a considerable force, he was induced by
Bishop Nicholas to enter into a league with him against King Sverre. At
a fair in Halland he met Bishop Nicholas and Archbishop Erik, who had
with them a large body of Norwegians, mostly from Viken. With them was
also a young man named Inge, said to be a son of King Magnus Erlingson.
The two armies united and proclaimed Inge king, and then made an
invasion in Viken, where they were soon joined by Sigurd Jarlson, the
former Oyskegg chief, and many other prominent men. The new rebel army
was called _Baglers_, from the word _bagall_, a bishop's crosier, to
signify that Bishop Nicholas was considered the real founder and chief
leader of the party.

During the last six years of his life King Sverre had a continual war
with the Baglers. His first encounter with them was in Saltoe Sound, in
Viken. After an indecisive battle there he returned with his ships to
Bergen and proceeded to Nidaros, where he spent the winter 1196-97. The
Baglers meanwhile summoned the Borgar-Thing, where Inge was proclaimed
king. The next year King Sverre gathered a strong force and proceeded
to Viken, and defeated the Baglers at Oslo, July 26, 1197. After the
battle Bishop Nicholas sent a messenger to King Sverre that he was
willing to make peace; but Sverre, who knew how little Bishop Nicholas
was to be depended upon, sent word back that he would only treat with
him if he would come in person. Bishop Nicholas did not go to meet the
king, but instead hastened with the chiefs and the remaining force of
the Baglers overland to Nidaros, where the wooden citadel (blockhouse)
"Zion" fell into their hands by the treason of its commander,
Thorstein Kugad. They destroyed some of the fortifications and burned
a number of Sverre's ships and took possession of the remainder. A
part of the Bagler force went aboard the captured ships, and sailed
southward under the leadership of Sigurd Jarlson. The others returned
to Viken the same way they had come. King Sverre spent the following
winter in Bergen, and in the spring (1198) sailed north and met the
Baglers in battle at Thorsberg, near the mouth of the Throndhjem Fjord.
After a hard fight the Birchlegs were defeated with great loss. The
king then hastened back to Bergen, which had in the meantime been
occupied by the Bagler chief Sigurd Jarlson. The latter, however,
having, by a clever trick of one of the Birchlegs, been led to believe
that King Sverre was approaching with a much superior force, left the
town before Sverre arrived.

During the summer of 1198, which for a long time afterward was called
the Bergen-summer, there was continual skirmishing in and about Bergen.
On the night after August 10th the Baglers, led by Bishop Nicholas,
rowed up to the landings with two ships full of wood. At the bishop's
command they set fire to the town in three different places, and soon
the greater part of it, including six churches, was laid in ashes. The
Birchlegs had all they could do to save the wooden citadel (_Sverre's
Borg_). The inhabitants of Bergen could never afterward forgive Bishop
Nicholas and his party for the loss they suffered by this fire; but as
heartily as they had heretofore hated the Birchlegs they now hated the
Baglers. Sverre found his position untenable after the town had been
burned, and proceeded with his men overland to Throndhjem. Meanwhile
the Baglers, who had many ships, were masters on the coasts. Many
deserted the king and supported the Baglers; but there were also some
of their men who went over to Sverre. Among the latter was Thorstein
Kugad, who had surrendered his garrison in Nidaros, and who now
returned to Sverre and begged his pardon. This was given, and Thorstein
became one of Sverre's useful men.

King Sverre spent the winter 1198-99 in Nidaros. His position was a
desperate one. Outside of the Throndhjem country he had very little
power, and the Baglers were masters at sea. Then, furthermore, a
terrible blow was dealt Sverre, as Pope Innocent III., in October,
1198, issued his bull declaring Sverre to be in the ban of the Church,
and laying the whole country under interdict, closing all churches and
forbidding the administration of the sacraments wherever the people
acknowledged King Sverre. It is easily understood what horror such a
papal bull would create at that time. Sverre did not lose courage,
however, but called the Throndhjem people together and asked them to
help him. They showed their usual loyalty, and with their help he set
to work to build a new, strong fleet and to improve the fortifications
of the town. In the spring the Baglers appeared in the Throndhjem Fjord
with a strong fleet, and, after some skirmishing, the two fleets met
in battle at Strindsö, June 18, 1199. It was a desperate fight, where
no quarter was given. The result was a victory for King Sverre and
the Birchlegs, who returned to town with most of the enemy's ships.
The prisoners taken on this occasion were nearly all slain. Bishop
Nicholas, who watched the beginning of the battle from a safe distance,
fled with his ship when he saw that the Baglers were losing, and Sigurd
Jarlson and Reidar the Messenger followed his example.

The Baglers who escaped from the battle of Strindsö proceeded to
Denmark. Sverre, with his fleet, pursued them a part of the way,
but gave up the chase and proceeded to Oslo, where he intended to
go into winter-quarters. In January, 1200, the Baglers came up from
Denmark with a number of small ships under the leadership of Reidar
the Messenger and Inge Bagler-King. Some of them landed near Oslo
and killed Sverre's kinsman, Earl Philip. Not feeling strong enough,
however, to attack King Sverre's forces they withdrew during the night
and sailed to Bergen. Afterward they made a sudden but unsuccessful
attack on Nidaros, which was defended by an army of 1,800 peasants.

During the winter King Sverre attempted to make a levy of troops in
Viken, intending to send home some of his Throndhjem people; but the
inhabitants, who had never been greatly attached to King Sverre,
murmured at this, and the result was a great uprising of the peasants
in Viken and the Uplands. On the day secretly appointed, March 1st,
Sverre's prefects at Tunsberg and several other places were killed,
and a few days later a force many times as large as Sverre's marched
against him from three different directions. On this occasion Sverre
displayed a masterly leadership, and his men fought like heroes. During
the day there were eight desperate encounters, and, in spite of the
seemingly overwhelming force of the rebels, Sverre won the day. He
afterward punished the peasants by exacting large fines in money and

Sverre had a few indecisive battles with the Baglers the same year, and
spent the following winter in Bergen. In the spring of 1201 he called
a new levy from the north, and, during the summer, sailed to Viken.
Reidar the Messenger, with several chiefs and two hundred and forty
men, had fortified himself on the _Slotsberg_ (Castle Mountain) at
Tunsberg, and defied any attack. King Sverre organized a regular siege,
determined not to abandon it until he had conquered this dangerous
enemy. Finally, when the Baglers were nearly starved to death, Reidar
and his little band surrendered to Sverre, who not only spared their
lives, but gave them the best of treatment. He advised them not to eat
much in the beginning; but several of them disregarded this advice and
died. This remarkable siege had lasted for twenty weeks, or from the
first week in September, 1201, to the fourth week in January, 1202.

At last King Sverre's physical strength succumbed to the hardships
and cares which night and day he had had to endure. During his stay
in Tunsberg he had been ailing, but, at first, his illness did not
seem to be serious. When he left Tunsberg, however, he was obliged to
keep his bed. He had his bed placed on the raised deck in the stern
of his ship, and here also stood the bed of the Bagler chief, Reidar.
During the journey the king found much pleasure in talking with the
intelligent old chief, who could tell him of his crusades and other
journeys in distant countries. They arrived in Bergen toward the end
of February, and the king was carried to the royal residence, where
his bed was placed in the large hall. When he understood that death
was near, he called the priests and his trusted friends to him. He
first let them read and seal a letter which he had prepared, to his
son Haakon in Throndhjem, about the management of the affairs of the
government after his death. Then he solemnly declared that he had only
one son living, namely Haakon (his other son, Sigurd Lavard, having
died the year before), so that if any one else should claim after
his death to be his son he would be an impostor. Then he desired to
be lifted into his high-seat, and seated there he received the last
ointment. Afterward he said: "I have had more strife, disturbance, and
adversity than quiet and peaceful days during my reign, and, so far as
I can judge, many have been my maligners only from enmity toward me.
God forgive them all, and judge between them and me in my whole cause."
Soon after, on Saturday, March 9, 1202, King Sverre expired. His body
was buried in the Christ Church, and on his tombstone was engraved the
following epitaph: "Here lies one who was the ornament of kings, the
support, picture and paragon of faith, honor and bravery, his country's
defence, the vindication of justice, the delight of all his men." After
his death even those who had been his enemies said that such a man as
Sverre had not lived in Norway in their time.


_Haakon Sverreson (1202-1204), Guthorm Sigurdson (1204), and Inge
Baardson (1204-1217)_

After Sverre's death his only son, Haakon, who was then twenty-eight or
thirty years old, was proclaimed king of Norway. In the letter which
Sverre wrote to his son on his death-bed, he advised him to make peace
with the Church, and Haakon lost no time in calling the archbishop
back to the country and in reconciling himself with the bishops. The
clergy seemed to be very eager for peace, and each bishop returned to
his bishopric, while the archbishop revoked the ban and the interdict
without even taking time to obtain the consent of the pope. For this
haste in making peace with the king the archbishop was afterward
sharply reprimanded by the pope; but in the meanwhile the good
relations between king and clergy had strengthened Haakon's position,
and the people in general readily acknowledged him. The Bagler party
gradually lost most of its support, and after their so-called king,
Inge Magnusson, had been killed by one of his own men on an island
in Lake Miosen (1202), the party was, for the time being, broken up.
Some went to King Haakon and begged for mercy, the remainder fled
either to Sweden or Denmark, and there was again peace in the country.
The peace, however, did not last very long, this time probably on
account of strained relations between the king and his stepmother, the
queen-dowager Margreta. During the festivities in Bergen at Christmas,
1203, King Haakon was taken suddenly ill, and on January 1, 1204, he
died, with all the symptoms of having been poisoned. It was the general
opinion that Queen Margreta was the cause of his death. She was obliged
to leave the country, and returned to her old home in Sweden. The death
of King Haakon caused great sorrow, for he had been very popular;
besides, it was generally supposed that he left no issue.

Two days after Haakon's death, a council was held by Bishop Martin
and the chiefs of the Birchlegs, and it was decided to elect Haakon's
nearest heir, his nephew, Guthorm Sigurdson, a son of Sigurd Lavard,
as his successor, although he was only four years old. Haakon Galen,
a son of Sverre's sister Cecilia and Folkvid Lawman, was to conduct
the government under the title of earl. When this hasty election of a
king was reported throughout the country, the Bagler party reorganized
themselves under the leadership of Erling Steinvegg (Stonewall), who
claimed to be a son of King Magnus Erlingson. This new pretender soon
had a large following and also obtained substantial support from the
Danish king, Valdemar II. Bishop Nicholas at first opposed him, as he
wanted his own nephew, Philip, a grandson of Harald Gille's queen,
Ingerid, elected king; but they finally came to an agreement, Erling
promising to make Philip earl and to otherwise favor the bishop. With
the aid of the bishop, Erling then proved his right to the throne by
the ordeal of fire, the event taking place with great ceremony in
Tunsberg in the presence of the Danish king and a large assemblage
of people. King Valdemar made Erling a present of thirty-five fully
equipped ships. The following day a Thing was summoned, and Erling was
proclaimed king. He immediately appointed Philip as his earl. Both
solemnly acknowledged the Danish king as their overlord and gave him
hostages. The whole of Viken had soon acknowledged Erling as king, and
the few Birchlegs who were there fled to the northern or western part
of the country.

The child king, Guthorm Sigurdson, died suddenly in Nidaros, August
11, 1204, and there was a strong suspicion that he had been poisoned
by Christina, the mistress of Haakon Galen. The Thing was immediately
convened, and the people elected Inge Baardson of Rein as king. Inge
was a younger half-brother of Haakon Galen, being a son of King
Sverre's sister, Cecilia, and her husband, Baard of Rein. For some
time there was again continual warfare between the Baglers and the
Birchlegs. In the summer of 1205, King Inge and Earl Haakon made a
cruise to Viken and had some encounters with the Baglers, and in
the fall King Inge returned to Nidaros, while Earl Haakon went into
winter-quarters in Bergen.

Shortly after Christmas it was reported in Nidaros that a body of
warriors had come across the mountain from the south, and that they
had the son of a king with them. It was feared that a new band of
rebels was coming, and King Inge called all his men to arms. Two of
his court-men, who were sent out to ascertain the object of the coming
warriors, were met by some messengers, who had been sent ahead to
inform King Inge of their errand. It was quite true that they had the
son of a king with them, but he was as yet only a babe. It was learned
that the approaching warriors were a number of good Birchlegs, and that
the prince who was with them was the infant son of their late beloved
master, King Haakon Sverreson.

During his visit in Sarpsborg, in 1203, King Haakon Sverreson had
become enamored of a handsome girl of high birth, Inga of Varteig.
She reciprocated his affection, and the intimacy that grew up between
them was no secret to the king's friends. Soon after the king's death,
Inga, who was then at the parsonage Folkisberg (in the present Eidsberg
parish), gave birth to a son. The priest, Thrond, who well knew who the
father was, baptized the boy and named him Haakon, after his father.
Thrond kept the child at his home, but did all he could to keep the
matter secret. Later he took Erlend of Huseby, a distant relative of
King Haakon, into his confidence, and it was decided to get the child
away from Viken, on account of the constant danger from the Baglers.
Toward Christmas, 1205, when the boy was about a year and a half old,
his mother, Inga of Varteig, the priest Thrond, and Erlend of Huseby
started out on the dangerous journey. They arrived at Hamar Christmas
eve, but were afraid to stay there long, and therefore continued their
journey as soon as possible. They first came to Lillehammer, where a
number of Birchlegs joined them, and then proceeded across the mountain
to Oesterdalen, and thence north to Nidaros. During the journey across
the mountain they suffered untold hardships on account of snow and
cold, being often obliged to spend the night in the wilderness. Once
the storm had become so severe that they did not know where they were.
The royal child was then given to the two best ski-runners in the
party, Thorstein Skevla and Skervald Skrukka, who started ahead of the
others in order to find shelter if possible. They did not succeed in
reaching any settlement that night, but struck a mountain hay-shed,
where they made fire and prepared a couch for the child. The remainder
of the party reached the place later in the night. In the morning the
snow was so deep that it was only with the greatest difficulty that
they could proceed. When they reached the settlements, however, they
were well received, and many Birchlegs joined them on their journey

When King Inge and his men heard of the journey of the royal child and
of the hardships which the party had suffered, they all thanked God
for having saved the child. The king and his whole court set out to
meet the party at the blockhouse, and, on their arrival, he took the
little boy in his arms and kissed him. The boy and his mother were
given the best of care in Nidaros. The child became very popular with
the old Birchlegs who had served under his father and his grandfather.
They came often to see how he was getting along, and would sometimes
playfully take him between them and stretch his arms and legs in order,
as they said, to make him grow faster.

In the spring of 1206 Erling Steinvegg collected a fleet and proceeded
north to Throndhjem, in order to attack King Inge in his stronghold
in Nidaros. On Saturday, April 22, there were great festivities in
Nidaros, for King Inge was celebrating the wedding of his sister
Sigrid, daughter of Baard of Rein, to the liegeman, Thorgrim of
Ljaanes. All the prominent men in the surrounding country had come to
the wedding. There was much drinking during the night, and the king,
as well as his chiefs and warriors, went to bed intoxicated. Toward
morning the Baglers suddenly attacked the sleeping town and effected
a general massacre. Many of the prominent Birchlegs, who had been
with King Sverre in many of his battles, were killed by the Baglers
on this occasion. King Inge, who was not at the royal residence, but
was sleeping in the house of his mistress, was with some difficulty
awakened by the latter's servants. He escaped to a neighboring roof,
where he lay until the Baglers had passed the house; then he ran down
to the docks and threw himself in the icy river in order to swim
across. The strong current made this a very difficult task. Out in the
stream he caught hold of the anchor cable of a ship, to which he clung
for a while, but a man, who was keeping guard on board, pushed him off
with a pole, and he was obliged to swim further. He finally reached
the other shore, but was then so exhausted from cold and exertion that
he would probably have succumbed, if one of his faithful men, Reidulf
Baardsbrother, had not happened to come to his assistance. Reidulf took
off his cloak and wrapped the king in it, and carried him on his back
to Skyaas, where they obtained a horse and sled and escaped to Klæbu.

In the meanwhile the Baglers continued their dreadful work in Nidaros.
They searched all the churches and killed those who had taken refuge
there, and committed numerous acts of plunder and depredation. King
Inge's half-brother, the seventeen year old Skule Baardson, escaped as
by a miracle. He crept along the house walls and reached the river,
where the chief, Jon Usle, and forty Birchlegs were just going across
in some boats they had secured. They crossed in safety, and later
proceeded to Klæbu, where Skule found the king with a hundred Birchlegs
and peasants, who had gathered about him.

King Inge was greatly changed after the experiences of that awful
night. The light-hearted and social young man became gloomy and
melancholy. He never felt really at ease except on board his ship and
in the solitude of his room. He was averse to seeing new faces, and
only his nearest and dearest men were admitted to his presence.

King Inge soon returned to Nidaros with a force of Birchlegs, while
the Baglers withdrew to Bergen with their large booty. Here they were
soon afterward overtaken by Earl Haakon and the Birchlegs, who defeated
them and took back the greater part of the spoil. Thus the two parties,
from time to time, continued to surprise and attack each other with no
other result than that the country suffered. Early in the year 1207
the Bagler king, Erling Steinvegg, died, and Bishop Nicholas at last
succeeded in having his nephew, Philip, chosen as the third king of the

In the summer of 1208 negotiations for peace were commenced. The manner
in which the war had lately been conducted indicates that the strength
of both parties was practically exhausted. The whole warfare was only
a sort of hide-and-seek play, or a continual cruising back and forth
between Bergen and Viken, in which they do not even seem to have tried
to meet in decisive battle, but only to forestall each other, attack
singly some one of the hostile party, and otherwise do as much damage
as possible by plunder and depredation. Everybody began to realize
that the resources of the country were thus being wasted, and that,
whichever party finally won, there would only be an impoverished land
and people to rule over. Bishop Nicholas saw this as well as any one,
and consulted the archbishop in Nidaros. The result was a meeting
of the chiefs of both parties at Hvitings Island (Hvitingsö), near
Stavanger, where the king of the Baglers, Philip, swore allegiance to
King Inge, and was, in return, made earl of Viken and the Uplands, and
was given Christina, the daughter of Sverre, in marriage.

The war between the Baglers and the Birchlegs was thus ended, and
comparative peace was restored. One of the disturbing elements that
remained was the jealousy of Earl Haakon Galen and his ambitious wife.
As the nephew of King Sverre, he thought he had been as much entitled
to the throne as his half-brother, Inge. An open revolt was avoided;
but, probably by the intervention of Archbishop Thore, a compact was
made between the earl and the king (1212), by which it was decided that
illegitimate children were to be excluded from the succession to the
throne. This agreement was especially aimed against the young Haakon
Haakonson and Inge's own illegitimate child, Guthorm, and gave the
succession to Haakon Galen's own offspring. This agreement, however,
was not approved by the old warriors among the Birchlegs, who were
greatly attached to King Sverre's direct descendant, the young Haakon.

In the evening, after the agreement had been made, the boy came home
from school to the court of Earl Haakon, by whom he was being raised,
and he hurried to the old veteran, Helge Hvasse, who was especially
fond of the boy, and used to give a great deal of attention to him.
This time, however, he turned away and would not speak to the child.

"Why are you angry with me?" asked the boy.

"Begone!" said Helge. "I will have nothing to do with you. You were
disinherited to-day."

"How did that happen, and who did it?" asked little Haakon.

"It was done at Oere-Thing," said Helge, "and it was done by the two
brothers, King Inge and Earl Haakon."

"Be not angry with me, my own Helge," said the boy, "and do not care
anything about this; for this decision cannot possibly be valid. My
representatives were not present to answer in my behalf."

"And who are your representatives?" asked Helge.

"My representatives are God, the holy Virgin, and Saint Olaf," answered
Haakon; "in their hands have I left my case, and they will guard my
interests in the best possible way, as you will see, both as to the
division of the country and in my other welfare."

Deeply moved, the old Birchleg took the boy in his arms and kissed him,
and said:

"That was better said than unsaid, my prince, and I thank you for those

What this boy of eight years had said was soon reported among the
Birchlegs, who all greatly admired him. The story also soon reached
Earl Haakon and his wife Christina. The earl did not say much; but
Christina got very angry, and from that day treated the boy more
harshly than she had done before.

Earl Haakon was taken sick and died in Bergen in January, 1214, and
his wife, Christina, who understood that she had made herself very
unpopular, hastened to leave the country with her young son, Knut, and
returned to Sweden. Young Haakon Haakonson was transferred to King
Inge's court. He and Guthorm, King Inge's son, were sent to school
together, and they were in every way treated alike.

In the winter of 1216-17 King Inge was taken sick, and when he could
no longer attend to the public affairs he appointed his half-brother,
Skule Baardson, as regent with the title of earl. King Inge died April
23, 1217, and Earl Skule had him buried with great ceremony in Christ
Church in Nidaros.


_Haakon Haakonson the Old (1217-1263)_

After the death of King Inge, the discord which had been fermenting
began to show itself. The ambitious Earl Skule, while pretending to
favor King Inge's young son, Guthorm, really considered himself the
successor to the throne, while a few, who had been special friends
of the late Earl Haakon Galen, favored the latter's son Knut, who
was with his mother in Sweden. Earl Skule had the aid and sympathy
of Archbishop Guthorm and the other dignitaries of the cathedral at
Nidaros, and advocated a postponement of the election of a king, until
the archbishop, who was absent on a journey, should return. In spite
of all intriguing, however, the Birchlegs summoned the Oere-Thing and
proclaimed Haakon Haakonson king of Norway, and he swore fidelity to
the laws of the country, although he could not, according to usage, do
so on the shrine of Saint Olaf, because the canons of the cathedral
refused to allow the shrine to be taken out of the church and carried
to the Thing. The next day all the court-men and the delegates present
took the oath of allegiance to Haakon as king and to Skule as earl. The
king and the earl now proceeded to Bergen, where the Gula-Thing was
summoned, in order that Haakon might also be proclaimed king there. The
day before the Thing a meeting was held by the king and the earl and
their advisers. The king's advisers suggested that Earl Skule should
swear an oath of allegiance to King Haakon; but this the earl bluntly
refused to do, unless he was given in fief one-third of the kingdom
and of its dependencies. As it was learned that the earl had been
negotiating with the so-called Bagler king, Philip, in Viken, and the
king's party was hardly strong enough to fight a combination of that
kind, it was thought that there was nothing to do but to acquiesce
in the earl's demands. The next day, at the Thing, King Haakon made
his oath to uphold the laws, but the wily earl had made use of his
position as the king's guardian to insert in the oath a pledge to keep
the agreement already made between the king and the earl. Shortly
after this, news was received that the Bagler king, Philip, was dead.
King Haakon and Earl Skule immediately proceeded to Viken, where, at
the suggestion of Bishop Nicholas, negotiations were opened with the
Baglers. It was finally decided that the Baglers should retain, during
the coming winter, one-half of the fiefs which Philip had held as
earl, and that both parties should send men north to the archbishop
to request him, next summer, to arrange a permanent peace. The other
half of Viken was given up to King Haakon and Earl Skule, who appointed
prefects there. Thereupon they summoned the Hauga-Thing, where Haakon
was acknowledged as the rightful king.

King Haakon had several enemies to contend with, and the most dangerous
among them were by no means those who were in open rebellion. A new
band of rebels was organized under the leadership of a chaplain by
the name of Benedict, or Bene Skinkniv (Skin knife), as the peasants
called him, who claimed to be a son of King Magnus Erlingson. His
followers were originally mostly thieves and bandits, who only sought
an opportunity for robbery and plunder. On account of their ragged
appearance they were called the "Slitungs" (vagabonds or "tramps").
After a short campaign against the Slitungs, the king and the earl
returned northward. When they arrived in Nidaros, the earl was received
with the utmost courtesy by the archbishop, but the latter refused to
show the proper honor to the king; and the reason being given that
there was some doubt as to whether Haakon was really the son of Haakon
Sverreson, it was agreed that his mother, Inga of Varteig, was to
submit to the ordeal of fire. This was done in Bergen in the presence
of the king, the earl, the archbishop, and other bishops and chiefs.
The result was in every way satisfactory. The church declared that King
Haakon had proved his paternity, and Earl Skule was for the time being
apparently reconciled with the king.

The strained relations between Earl Skule and the king soon came to the
surface again, however, and there were frequent conflicts between the
"earl's-men" and the "king's-men." The friends of both finally came to
the conclusion that something ought to be done to bind them together
by common interests, and as the best means to this end they proposed
a marriage between King Haakon and the earl's daughter, Margreta. The
plan was accepted by both parties, and the betrothal took place in
September, 1219. The actual marriage was preliminarily postponed on
account of the tender age of both parties, the king being then about
fourteen years and the bride scarcely more than nine years old.

During the next winter a new band of rebels was organized in Viken
by Gudolf of Blakkestad, a former prefect, who had been discharged
from office on account of his harsh treatment of the peasants. The
Slitungs joined the new party, which was commonly called the Ribbungs
(robbers). They chose as their leader and candidate for the throne
a young man by the name of Sigurd, who claimed to be the son of the
former Bagler king, Erling Steinvegg. They seem to have had the secret
support of Bishop Nicholas, in spite of the fact that the latter had
professed friendship for King Haakon. After having fought this party
for about two years and defeated it several times, Earl Skule induced
Bishop Nicholas to assist in ending the struggle. In the spring of
1223, Sigurd Ribbung made overtures for peace, but had the audacity to
demand as a condition for laying down his arms one third of the kingdom
and the earl's daughter in marriage. The earl answered that he would
not give his daughter away to live in the woods, and as for the third
of the kingdom he would have to apply to King Haakon; but he promised
Sigurd and his men amnesty and safe conduct, in case Sigurd wished
to apply personally to the king. Although these conditions were more
severe than expected, Sigurd Ribbung surrendered. The earl was greatly
praised for having gained this victory without a battle, in having
induced such a mighty force to lay down their arms, and thus secured
peace throughout the country. This peace, however, was not as complete
as it was thought; for the earl was at this time cherishing more
far-reaching plans than ever before. It appears that he had made a levy
of troops and taxes outside of his own fiefs, and had been reprimanded
for this in a letter from King Haakon. After having made peace with
the Ribbungs, he immediately sailed for Denmark, it being no doubt his
intention to renounce his allegiance to King Haakon, and, with the aid
of the Danish king, take possession of the country and hold it in fief
from him. Upon arriving in Copenhagen he learned that King Valdemar
(the Victorious) had been taken prisoner by Count Henry of Schwerin and
brought to Mecklenburg. Earl Skule, therefore, was obliged to return
and continue to feign friendship for King Haakon. At a state meeting
in Bergen in the fall of 1223, where the archbishop, the bishops, and
other leading men of the country were present, Haakon's right to the
throne was reaffirmed, and Earl Skule agreed to take the northern third
of the country in fief instead of the southern part, which he had held

By the agreement at the state meeting in Bergen, Norway was divided
into two domains, of which that of the king included Viken, the
Uplands, and the Gulathingslag, except Söndmöre, while that of
the earl included everything north of the king's domain, and this
division remained in force for over fifteen years. The earl made his
headquarters in Nidaros, while the king took up his residence in Oslo.
Sigurd Ribbung remained with the earl, who had promised to watch him,
but escaped during the summer of 1224, and again organized a band of
rebels who resumed their old guerilla warfare. Whenever they were met
by a superior force, they would make their escape across the frontier
into the Swedish province of Vermeland, where they had many adherents.
At last King Haakon found it necessary to invade Vermeland with an
army of 2,400 men, early in 1225, in order to punish the inhabitants.
He burned a great number of houses, but did not succeed in meeting the
Ribbungs in any decisive battle.

In April, King Haakon proceeded to Bergen, in order to celebrate his
marriage with Earl Skule's daughter, Margreta. The earl received him
apparently with great cordiality, and grand preparations were made for
the wedding, which took place May 25, 1225. This marriage had been
dictated by political considerations; but Earl Skule derived no direct
benefits from it, for during all the later struggles Margreta stood
faithfully by her husband, in spite of the fact that the principal
opponent was her own father.

The Ribbungs continued their guerilla warfare, secretly aided by Bishop
Nicholas. The latter died in Oslo, November 7, 1225, after having
asked and obtained the king's forgiveness for all his treachery. He
was between seventy and eighty years old at the time of his death.
During the winter Earl Skule and the archbishop at Nidaros attempted
to negotiate peace between the Ribbungs and the king, but without any
success. In the spring of 1226 Sigurd Ribbung was taken sick and died,
and Squire Knut, the son of Haakon Galen and Christina, was induced
to become the chief of the Ribbungs. The Ribbungs suffered several
reverses, and in the following year Squire Knut disbanded his army and
submitted to King Haakon, whose devoted friend he ever remained.

Earl Skule continued his intriguing for the ultimate overthrow of
the king, and, while strengthening himself at home, negotiated with
the king of Denmark for aid from that quarter. Meanwhile King Haakon
did everything to retain the earl's allegiance. In 1233 a meeting
was held in Bergen, where a new compact was made, only to be broken
shortly afterward by the earl. When the king discovered that the earl
had tried to involve him in a conflict with the Church, and had sent
damaging reports about him to Rome, he again summoned him to a meeting
in Bergen. This time Earl Skule did not see fit to come to the meeting,
but proceeded with an army across the mountains to the Uplands, thus
entering the reserved territory of the king. Through the mediation
of the archbishop peace was patched up for the coming winter, on the
condition that the earl was to have one-third of all the prefectures.
The following year a new agreement was made, by which Skule was to
retain the privileges thus obtained in the southern part of the
country, besides which he was raised to the rank of duke, a title which
no one so far had held in Norway.

Nothing, however, seemed to satisfy Skule short of the dignity of
king. He prepared himself in every way for an open conflict--built
and equipped ships, and steadily increased his force of warriors. His
followers were called the "Varbelgs," the same name that a rebellious
party during the reign of King Sverre had carried. In November, 1239,
Duke Skule convened the Oere-Thing, where he had his friends proclaim
him king of Norway, whereupon he made the usual oath of fidelity to the
laws, with his hand upon Saint Olaf's shrine, which had been forcibly
taken from the cathedral and carried to the Thing.

There was now open war between Duke Skule and King Haakon. The duke
proceeded south to the Uplands with an army of six hundred men. At
Laaka, Raumarike, he met and defeated the king's forces under Squire
Knut, who had been appointed earl in Skule's place. After this victory
he proceeded to Oslo, but here he was soon afterward attacked by King
Haakon and was badly defeated. A great many of the Varbelgs fell in
the battle, while others surrendered to the king and were pardoned.
Duke Skule with a few men escaped and fled north to Nidaros. Shortly
afterward the town was suddenly attacked by the Birchlegs, who, after
the battle of Oslo, had been sent north by King Haakon with a fleet
under the command of Aasulf of Austraat, one of Skule's bitter enemies.
Duke Skule, awoke by the alarm, armed himself and sent his messengers
around in the town to call the Varbelgs together; but they would not
obey orders, and his men took refuge in the churches. Skule himself
crossed the Nid River and hid himself with a few men in a forest near
by. Two days later the monks at Elgeseter Cloister sent them cloaks,
and thus disguised they reached the cloister. The Birchlegs, however,
discovered the duke's whereabout, and, proceeding to the cloister,
demanded that he be delivered up. This being refused they set fire
to the building. Skule then came out with his men, and they were all
slain, May 24, 1240.

After the fall of Skule the rebellion of the Varbelgs died out
completely, the power of King Haakon was undisputed, and the country
could at last enjoy peace and order. On Saint Olaf's Day, July 29,
1247, King Haakon was crowned with grand ceremonies in Christ Church
in Bergen by Cardinal William of Sabina, whom the Pope had sent north
for that purpose. At the grand feast that followed there were so many
people present that there was not room enough in the king's mansion,
and the king therefore had a huge boat-house temporarily fitted out as
a festival hall, the walls being covered with colored cloth, and the
hall furnished with costly benches with gold-embroidered silk cushions.
This feast lasted for three days, and after that the king gave a party,
lasting five days, in the royal home for the cardinal and the most
prominent men. When the cardinal departed from Norway, the king sent
with him 15,000 marks sterling as a gift to the Pope, and also gave the
cardinal personally fine presents.

The reign of King Haakon, after peace had been restored, was very
beneficial to the country. He improved the laws, and, among other
changes, abolished the ordeal of fire. This was done after consultation
with the visiting cardinal, who declared that it was not proper for
Christians to challenge God to give his verdict in human affairs. It
was decided that at the death of a king the oldest legitimate son
was to succeed to the throne, and the kingdom was not to be divided
between two or more princes. In architecture great progress was made,
and a great deal of money was spent for the erection of monasteries,
churches and royal mansions. A wall was built around the royal mansion
in Bergen; this wall was the beginning of the fort afterward called
Bergenhus. King Haakon also built the grand royal hall in Bergen and
a hospital for lepers. In Tunsberg he built a monastery, and the
strong wall of the fort is still to be seen. He began to Christianize
the Finns and built churches for them. The church which he built at
Tromsoe was the northernmost Christian church in the world.

King Haakon gained a high reputation in foreign countries. The Russian
grand-duke, Vasilij, asked for the hand of his daughter Christina,
and the Spanish king, Alfonso X. of Castile, wooed her for one of his
brothers. The latter suit was accepted, and Christina was married to
the Spanish prince, Don Philip, in 1257. The pope wanted Haakon for
emperor of Germany, and the French king, Louis IX., urged him to take
the command of a crusade.

During the reign of King Haakon, in 1261, Greenland was made a
dependency of Norway, and the next year Iceland acknowledged the
supremacy of Norway. The Icelanders agreed to pay the king of Norway a
tribute; but they were to retain their own laws and their own officers.

In the summer of 1263 King Haakon sailed with a strong fleet and a
large army westward to make war on Alexander III. of Scotland, who had
tried to annex the Norwegian possessions west and north of Scotland.
King Haakon proceeded to the Sudr Islands (the Hebrides), where he met
with terrible storms, during which his fleet suffered considerable
loss. In a battle at Largs, near the entrance to the Firth of Clyde,
some of Haakon's best men fell. Scotch and Norwegian accounts differ
as to which side was really defeated; but even from Scotch sources it
appears that there was for some time afterward a great dread of the
reappearance of "the black fleet of Norway." A contemporary Scotch poet
and soothsayer, Thomas of Erceldoune, wrote:

    It will be seen upon a day
    Between the Bass and Bay,
    Craigin and Fidderay,
    The black fleet of Norroway.
    Quhen the black fleet is come and gane,
    Then may they bigg thair burgh of lime and stane
    Quhilk they biggit of straw and hay--
    That will stand till doomes day.

Shortly after the battle at Largs, King Haakon retired to the Orkneys,
intending to winter there and to renew the attack in the spring. In
the town of Kirkevaag (Orkneys) he was taken seriously ill; dying
December 15, 1263. During his illness he had his men read aloud to him
portions of the Bible and several books in Latin. Afterward he had
Norwegian books read to him, first the stories of holy men (legends)
and afterward the sagas of his ancestors, from Halfdan the Black down
to his grandfather, King Sverre. During the reading of Sverre's saga
he sank rapidly, and toward midnight, when King Sverre's saga was
finished, he expired.

King Haakon was fifty-nine years old when he died. He had been king of
Norway forty-six years. His body was temporarily entombed in Kirkevaag,
and, in the following spring, was brought back to Norway and buried in
the Christ Church in Bergen.


_Snorre Sturlason_

During the reign of Haakon Haakonson lived the renowned author of
sagas, Snorre Sturlason. He was born in the year 1178 at Hvam (or
Kvam), in the western province of Iceland. His family traced their
lineage from the old Norse kings. In his third year Snorre was sent
to the rich and learned Jon Loftson to be fostered. Jon Loftson's
grandfather was Saemund Frode, the contemporary of Are, who first
committed the historical sagas to writing; Jon's mother, Thora, was
an illegitimate daughter of King Magnus Barefoot. In such a family,
says Mr. Laing, we may presume the literature of the country would be
cultivated, and the sagas of the historical events in Norway, and of
the transactions of her race of kings, would be studied with great
interest. Jon Loftson died when Snorre was nineteen years of age, but
he continued to live with his foster-brothers a couple of years after
that. He was quite poor, his mother having wasted his patrimony; but
marrying Herdis, the daughter of a wealthy priest, he obtained with
her a considerable fortune, which he afterward greatly increased. We
are told that he owned six large farms and had so many men under him
that he could appear at the Things with an armed body of six hundred
or eight hundred men. He fortified his main residence at Reykholt, and
also constructed there a bathing-house of cut stone, into which the
water was led from a neighboring geyser. This bath-house was called
Snorrelaug (Snorre's bath), and ruins of it are still to be seen.

Snorre Sturlason held some important offices in Iceland. On a visit
to Norway he won the friendship of Duke Skule and King Haakon, and
the latter even appointed him a king's chamberlain. He is said to
have promised the king to induce the people of Iceland to submit to
the supremacy of the king of Norway; but if this promise was given
he seems to have forgotten it. When afterward, during the conflict
between Duke Skule and King Haakon, Snorre was said to be a friend or
adherent of Duke Skule, the king declared him to be a traitor, and, in
a letter, requested Snorre's son-in-law and bitterest enemy, Gissur
Torvaldson, to bring Snorre to Norway, dead or alive. On this authority
Gissur, and other relatives of Snorre, who were his enemies on account
of differences about the division of property, came on the night of
September 22, 1241, with seventy armed men to Snorre's residence at
Reykholt and murdered him in the sixty-third year of his age. It was
the same party which, two years afterward, brought Iceland under
subjection to the crown of Norway.

Snorre Sturlason's famous work, the sagas (chronicles) of the kings
of Norway, reaches from the earliest times to the fall of Eystein
Meyla, in the battle at Ree, in 1177. The book is also called the
"Heimskringla"--the world's circle--from the first word of the
manuscript. It is written in the old Norse language. Snorre also wrote
a book called the "Edda,"[13] which treats of the old Norse mythology
and contains rules for the writing of poetry.

[13] The word _Edda_ means great-grandmother.

Snorre's nephew (his brother's son), Sturla Thordson, afterward wrote
the saga of King Haakon Haakonson.

During the reign of King Haakon, another remarkable book was written,
"The King's Mirror." In the form of a dialogue between a father and
his son, it contains information about the seas and the countries
that Norway had communication with, especially Ireland, Iceland and
Greenland. It also gives the rules of life and conduct for traders and
for men at the royal court.


_Magnus Law-Mender (1263-1280)_

Haakon's son Magnus now became king of Norway. He had been crowned
six years before his father's death, and there was no one to dispute
his right, King Haakon having declared on his death-bed that he left
no other son. Magnus was twenty-five years old when he assumed the
government in his own name. He was a wise and peaceable ruler, and soon
made up his mind that it was not for the benefit of Norway to continue
the war with Scotland about the islands which were so distant and had
been of so little value to the country. He opened negotiations with
Alexander III., and on July 2, 1266, peace was finally concluded. The
Norwegian king ceded the Isle of Man and the Hebrides to Scotland,
although retaining the rights belonging to the Nidaros archbishopric.
On the other hand, the Scotch king agreed to pay the Norwegian king
4,000 marks sterling, besides a permanent annual tribute of one hundred

When King Magnus had succeeded in ending the conflict with Scotland,
he turned his whole attention to the improvement of the domestic
affairs of the country. He undertook a thorough revision of the laws,
and, on account of his efforts in this direction, was given the
surname _lagaböter_, _i.e._, law-mender. He had a common code of laws
compiled for the whole country, while formerly there had been four
different laws administered respectively at the four Things; viz., the
Frosta-Thing for the Throndhjem country, the Gula-Thing for the western
coast, the Eidsiva-Thing for the Uplands, and the Borgar-Thing for the
country around Viken. The new general law, as codified by King Magnus,
remained in force for nearly four hundred years, and some of it is law
even yet. Among the new provisions was the one that, in the future,
changes in the laws were to be made only by the king and his "good men"
at a state meeting or state council. Thus the Things were deprived of
the privilege to make laws.

Magnus also compiled a law for the cities and towns, and a new court
law (_Hirdskraa_) for his vassals and courtiers. This court law
prescribed rules for the proclamation of kings and described the duties
and rights of the courtiers, liegemen, etc. Among new offices created
were those of ensign (bearer of the colors), the chancellor, who kept
the royal seal, and the master of ceremonies.

Toward the bishops King Magnus was very submissive. At a meeting in
Tunsberg, in 1277, he made a number of humiliating concessions to the
ambitious Archbishop Jon the Red. Thus the king agreed to abstain from
all interference in the selection of bishops, and surrendered to the
latter the right of filling all clerical offices.

King Magnus granted the city of Lubeck and other North-German
cities--the Hanseatic League--a number of commercial privileges in
Norway, and from that time a great part of the commerce of Norway
gradually came to be controlled by the Hansa towns.

In his legislation, King Magnus showed a disposition to abandon former
democratic characteristics of the institutions. He was fond of pomp
and ceremony, and adopted foreign, especially English, court customs.
In 1277 he ordained that the liegemen were to be called barons, and
the court officials, knights and squires. They were given a partial
immunity from taxes, but were to render additional services to the king
in case of war. The knights and their families soon began to adopt
coats-of-arms, and a kind of nobility was gradually formed.

King Magnus died May 9, 1280, at the age of forty-two years.


_Erik Priest-Hater (1280-1299)_

At the death of King Magnus only two of his children were alive, Erik,
who had already been proclaimed king, and Haakon, who had been made
duke at the same time. Erik was twelve, and Haakon ten years old. The
royal counsellors, among whom were the barons Hallkell Agmundson, Audun
Hugleikson, and Biarne Erlingson of Biarkoe and Giske, thought that
King Magnus had made too great concessions to the church and attempted
to curtail the power of the bishops. On account of their activity
against the clergy they were put in the ban of the church; but they
did not seem to pay much attention to this; and, as a result of the
struggle, Archbishop Jon the Red and two other bishops were outlawed
and compelled to leave the country (1282).

The epithet "Priest-Hater," which, after this, was given King Erik,
does not seem to have been well deserved; for he always sought to
mediate in the conflicts with the archbishop, and he himself had no
ill-feeling toward the bishops, but rather seemed to be too kindly
disposed toward them.

King Erik was only a very young man when he commenced a war with
Denmark, which lasted for twenty years, and was not terminated until
in the time of his successor. His mother, the queen-dowager Ingeborg,
was the daughter of the Danish king, Erik Plowpenny, and as her
inheritance, consisting of landed estates, had not been turned over
to the Norwegian king according to agreement, she induced her son
to make war on Denmark. The war was principally a naval war. One
who especially distinguished himself was the Norwegian baron, Alf
Erlingson of Tornberg (now Tanberg, Ringerike), a great favorite of the
queen-dowager. He captured a number of the enemy's ships, and preyed
upon the commerce in Danish waters. But the principal sufferers by this
warfare were the Hanseatic League, whose members, by the concessions of
King Magnus Lawmender, had practically a monopoly of the foreign trade
of Norway. Many ditties were composed about Alf Erlingson, and one
verse reads thus:

    Sailing Germans are northward bound
      Carrying malt and meal;
    But Alf is lying in Oere Sound
      And robs them of all their weal.

The conflict with the Hanseatic towns came to an end, through the
arbitration of the Swedish king, by the peace of Kalmar (1285), by
which the privileges of the Hansa towns were considerably extended.

The hostilities with Denmark were continued, and the queen-dowager
was so well pleased with Alf Erlingson's piratical conduct of the war
that she had him created an earl, and induced the king to send him
as special ambassador to England. In 1286 a conspiracy was formed
in Denmark against King Erik Glipping, and he was murdered during a
hunting trip by Marshal Stig, Count Jacob of Halland and others. The
murderers, who were outlawed in Denmark, were well received by the
Norwegian king, and afterward accompanied him on his campaigns against

By the death of Queen Ingeborg (1287), Earl Alf Erlingson lost his
special protector, and when he had committed extraordinary outrages
in Viken and murdered the commander of Oslo Castle, Baron Hallkell
Agmundson, he was sentenced as an outlaw and compelled to flee to
Sweden, where, for some time, he took refuge in a cloister. Later he
attempted piracy on his own account in Danish waters, but was captured,
and, by the command of Queen Agnes, executed on the rack (1290).

King Erik made several successful cruises to Denmark, and that
country might have fared badly if his attention had not been drawn in
other directions. At an early age he had been married to Margaret of
Scotland, a daughter of his grandfather's enemy, King Alexander III.
This young queen died a year after the marriage, after having given
birth to a daughter, who was christened Margaret. When Alexander III.
died in 1286, without leaving any sons, the Scotch leaders acknowledged
King Erik's young daughter, Margaret, as the rightful heir to the
throne. In 1290 she was proclaimed queen of Scotland, and the young
princess--the "Maid from Norway," as she was called--accompanied by the
bishops of Bergen and other prominent persons, sailed for Scotland.
She was taken sick on the voyage, however, and died at the Orkneys.
King Erik afterward claimed the crown of Scotland as the heir of
his daughter, but was compelled to abandon the claim upon the armed
intervention of King Edward I. of England.

King Erik died July 13, 1299, at the age of thirty-one years.


_Haakon V. Magnusson (1299-1319)_

At the death of King Erik the throne of Norway was inherited by his
brother Haakon, who had, during his brother's reign, under the title of
duke, ruled his part of the country with royal authority. Shortly after
his succession to the throne, the knight, Audun Hugleikson Hestakorn of
Hegranes, who during the reign of King Erik had been highly esteemed
and had conducted negotiations with foreign powers, was imprisoned
in Bergen and tried for high treason, and, after three years of
imprisonment, was executed. The real nature of this man's crime is not
known. By some it was thought that he had insulted the king's bride;
but the actual crime was probably some frauds in connection with the
negotiation of a treaty with France. Apparently without any reason,
rumor has connected his case with another affair, which transpired
about the same time. In 1300 a woman arrived from Lubeck and created a
great deal of excitement by claiming to be the Princess Margaret--"The
Maid from Norway"--who had died at the Orkneys when on her journey to
Scotland to assume the Scotch throne. She was proven to be an impostor,
and was condemned and burned at the stake in 1301, and her husband,
who accompanied her, was beheaded.

During Haakon's reign the war with Denmark, which had lasted for
twenty-eight years, was finally ended by the Peace of Copenhagen
(1309), by which Haakon obtained the province of Northern Halland in
settlement of his maternal inheritance. His rule was also in other
respects firm and prudent. He curtailed some of the privileges of the
Hansa towns and reduced the power of the bishops. He abolished the
positions of earls and liegemen, and adopted stricter regulations for
other officers, holding them to a faithful compliance with the laws. He
built the fortress of Akershus, near Oslo, where he resided much of the

King Haakon had no sons, but only a daughter, Ingeborg. In 1302 he
therefore proclaimed a new law of succession extending the right of
inheritance to the female line. By the same law a council of twelve
men were to conduct the government during the minority of an heir to
the throne. The king's daughter, Ingeborg, was afterward married to
Duke Erik of Sweden, and, in the year 1316, she bore a son, who was
christened Magnus. This caused great joy in Norway, and the king on
this occasion conferred knighthood on twenty-five men. But the joy
was of short duration. Duke Erik and his brother, Duke Valdemar, had
been quarrelling with their brother, King Birger of Sweden. The latter
pretended to desire a reconciliation and invited them to a feast at the
castle of Nyköping. During the night the sleeping-room of the dukes was
entered, and they were thrown into prison, where soon afterward they
died. Rumor said that they were starved to death. The tidings of this
tragedy so affected King Haakon that it hastened his death. He died at
Tunsberg, May 8, 1319, and with him the male line of the royal house of
Harald the Fairhaired became extinct.


_Magnus Erikson "Smek" (1319-1374)--Haakon VI. Magnusson (1355-1380)_

Magnus, the son of King Haakon V.'s daughter Ingeborg and Duke Erik of
Sweden, was only three years old at the death of his mother's father.
While he was in his minority the affairs of the government were managed
by a regency, the members of which had been selected by King Haakon.
In Sweden King Birger, who had become generally hated on account of
his treatment of his brothers, was deposed, and Magnus was proclaimed
king of Sweden. Thus, for the first time, Norway and Sweden were united
under one king. Both countries retained their own government and laws,
and the king was to divide his time equally between the two countries.
The Norwegians soon became dissatisfied with the government, which was
conducted mainly by the king's mother, Duchess Ingeborg, who caused
great scandal by her recklessness and wasted much of the revenue on her
lover, Knut Porse, duke of Halland, whom she afterward married. At a
general Thing, in Oslo, February 20, 1323, the regency was abrogated,
and the knight Erling Vidkunson of Biarkoe and Giske was appointed

When King Magnus, who, by the Swedes, was surnamed "Smek" (the
fondling), reached his majority, in 1332, he himself assumed the
government in both countries. He was a good and kind man, but too weak
to govern two countries. Sweden took up most of his time, and he did
not come to Norway as often as he was expected to, and made no proper
arrangement for the government during his absence. This caused general
discontent, and a virtual separation of the countries was finally
arranged. At a great meeting in Varberg, August 15, 1343, King Magnus's
oldest son, Erik, was declared heir-apparent and co-regent in Sweden,
and his other son, Haakon, in Norway. On the same day the Norwegian
state counsellors acknowledged Haakon, who had been educated in Norway,
as their king, with the understanding that King Magnus was to conduct
the government until his son became of age. The separation of the
countries was further confirmed in 1350 in Bergen, where King Magnus
placed Haakon in the royal seat and arranged a separate court for him.
According to public documents, however, Haakon's reign dates only from
1355, when probably he had reached his majority.

The Swedes were no more satisfied with King Magnus than the Norwegians
were. He succeeded in annexing the provinces of Scania, Halland and
Blekinge, which he bought for 34,000 marks silver from Duke John of
Holstein, who held them as a pledge; but the taxes he had to levy, in
order to raise this sum, caused great dissatisfaction.

The king's recklessness and the great influence wielded by his vain and
malicious queen, Blanca of Namur, and his favorite, the young Swedish
knight, Bengt Algotson, increased the dissatisfaction to such a degree
that Prince Erik took up arms and declared Bengt to be a public enemy.
Erik died shortly afterward, but quiet was not restored. King Magnus's
ambiguous and pusillanimous action in allowing the wily King Valdemar
Atterdag of Denmark to seize the dearly-bought provinces of Scania,
Halland and Blekinge, created great discontent, which was increased
when his son, Haakon, married King Valdemar's eleven year old daughter
Margaret, although the Swedes, who expected Haakon to become their
future king, had decided upon another bride for him. When, after an
uprising, King Magnus banished forty of the most turbulent magnates,
the latter offered the crown to Albrecht of Mecklenburg, a nephew of
King Magnus, and returned with him to Sweden, where Magnus was deposed
and Albrecht elected king of Sweden (1363). Haakon, who shortly before
that had been elected king of Sweden, did not intend to give up the
kingdom without a fight, especially as he had several fortresses and
provinces in his possession. Both sides armed themselves, and a battle
was fought at Enköping, March 3, 1365. Magnus was taken prisoner and
brought to Stockholm, and Haakon, severely wounded, had to flee to
Norway. The war was continued with varying success until the Hanseatic
League interfered in the struggle, because Haakon had attempted to
expel the Germans from the country. The German merchants had obtained
great power in the country and shamefully abused it; they refused to
receive the king's coin, monopolized all trade, and defied the laws.
Haakon finally made peace with them, but only after granting them
some new privileges. After that he collected a great army and invaded
Sweden; even marching against Stockholm. An agreement was reached in
1371 with King Albrecht, by which Haakon was to pay 12,000 marks and
surrender the Swedish fortresses for the liberation of his father.
The latter had to give up all claim to the Swedish throne, but was to
have for his support Skara Stift, West Gautland and Vermeland. Haakon
afterward inherited these provinces. Magnus was drowned three years
later in the Hardanger Fjord at the age of fifty-eight years. His son
survived him only six years. He died at Oslo in June, 1380, about
forty-two years old, after having had the pleasure to see his only son
Olaf chosen king of Denmark.

Great calamities befell the country during the reigns of Magnus and
Haakon. On April 4, 1328, the great cathedral in Throndhjem, the Christ
Church, was destroyed by fire. In 1344 the Gaula River suddenly changed
its course, owing to a mountain slide, flooded the Gaula Valley, and
caused great destruction. Forty-eight farms and some churches were
destroyed, and two hundred and fifty people and a great number of
cattle were drowned. Iceland suffered from earthquakes, and in 1341
the sixth eruption of the volcano Hekla spread alarm and desolation.
In 1323 and 1346 the winters were so severe that a great number of
people froze to death. But the greatest calamity occurred in 1349, when
the Black Death, a terrible pestilence, after having ravaged Southern
Europe, was brought to Bergen by a merchant vessel from England. Before
the cargo of the vessel had been discharged, the whole crew died, and
immediately the pestilence spread with great rapidity over the whole
country. In a single day ninety persons were buried from a church in
Bergen, including fourteen priests and six deacons. In Throndhjem,
Archbishop Arne and the whole chapter, with the exception of a single
canon, died. Only one bishop in Norway, Salemon in Oslo, survived the
plague. In many districts the entire population was swept away. The
cattle died from hunger. For want of horses and laborers the farmers
were unable to cultivate their farms, and famine and distress resulted.
Many districts which had been fertile and populous were laid waste, and
were in time covered by a new growth of forests. Industries, trade and
commerce stagnated, and Norway sank into a state of debility from which
it took her centuries to recover.


_Olaf Haakonson the Young (1381-1387)_

Olaf, the only son of King Haakon Magnusson and the Danish Margaret,
was, at the death of his maternal grandfather, Valdemar Atterdag
(1376), proclaimed king of Denmark under the guardianship of his
parents, and at the death of his father four years later, when he was
ten years old, he inherited the throne of Norway. His mother proceeded
to Oslo, where a meeting of the Norwegian chiefs was held early in
January, 1381. Here it was arranged that Queen Margaret was to be
the guardian of her son and conduct the government in his name, when
she was in the country, but in her absence the administration should
be conducted by the chieftain Ogmund Finnson, as leader of the state
council. Olaf was crowned in Nidaros on Saint Olaf's Day, July 29,
1381. Thus commenced the union between Norway and Denmark, which lasted
for over four hundred years and proved so unfortunate for Norway. To
the great sorrow of the Norwegians, King Olaf, when scarcely seventeen
years old, was taken suddenly sick at Falsterbro Castle, Scania, and
died August 3, 1387.

Fifteen years after Olaf's death an adventurer appeared who claimed to
be King Olaf, and the rumor soon spread that Olaf had escaped from his
mother shortly before the time of his alleged death. It was proven,
however, that the pretender was a German, and that some merchants, who
had noticed the great likeness he bore to Olaf, had induced him to make
the claim. The impostor was condemned to death and burned.


_Margaret (1387-1389)--Erik of Pomerania (1389-1442)--The Kalmar Union

As young Olaf left no offspring, it was quite generally supposed
in Norway that the kingdom would be given to his nearest relative,
Haakon Jonson, a grandson of King Haakon V.'s illegitimate daughter
Agneta; but the wily Queen Margaret (who had already been acknowledged
as reigning queen of Denmark), induced Archbishop Vinald and the
majority of the clergy to take her part, and, at the state council in
Oslo, February 2, 1388, she was, as Haakon's widow and Olaf's mother,
declared to be the rightful ruler of Norway and its dependencies.
According to law, however, the Norwegians were to be ruled by a king,
and could not long be satisfied with having the government conducted
in the name of a woman. She therefore induced the council to choose
her grandnephew, Erik of Pomerania, as king of Norway (1389), she to
continue the regency during his minority.

King Albrecht of Mecklenburg, who was at this time reigning in Sweden,
had caused a great deal of discontent among the Swedish nobility,
because he had surrounded himself with Germans, whom he had given
places of influence and honor. The ambitious Queen Margaret, who hated
Albrecht deeply, because he had laid claim to the Danish throne, made
overtures to the Swedish magnates, with the result that they chose
her as "the mistress and rightful ruler of Sweden," and transferred
several fortified places to her, while she promised to reunite West
Gautland and Vermeland with Sweden. Albrecht proceeded to Germany to
collect an army, and swore that he would not put his hood on before he
had conquered Norway and Denmark. He sent Margaret several insulting
messages, called her "Queen Breechless," and sent her a whetstone on
which to sharpen her scissors and needles, saying that the good woman
ought to remain quietly at her spinning wheel. The queen's chiefs, Ivar
Lykke and Henrik Parow, invaded Sweden with an army, and won a battle
at Falköping in West Gautland. Albrecht was taken prisoner and was
brought before the queen, who reminded him of his insults. She gave him
a long fool's-cap to wear instead of the crown of Denmark, and sent him
to prison in the castle of Lindholm in Scania, where he remained six

Queen Margaret soon won the whole of Sweden except Stockholm, where the
German merchants and the hood-brothers made a determined resistance.
They received aid from the North German cities Rostock and Wismar,
whose rulers proclaimed that any one who would harry the coasts of
the Scandinavian countries could find refuge in their harbors; and
the result was a number of pirates, the so-called Victualia-Brethren,
made the northern waters unsafe for several years, and plundered many
of the coast towns. Thus they twice attacked and plundered Bergen. In
order to gain his liberty, Albrecht, in 1395, made an agreement that
within three years he would either pay 60,000 marks silver or release
Stockholm. He could not pay the money, and Stockholm's gates were
opened to Queen Margaret.

In 1397 Queen Margaret's sixteen-year-old grandnephew, Erik of
Pomerania, was crowned in Kalmar as king of Sweden, Denmark and Norway,
in the presence of prominent men from the three countries. A document
was drafted containing the provisions regarding the triple union, and
it was signed on Margaret's Day, July 20, 1397. It could scarcely be
considered binding upon the three countries, as it was signed by only
seventeen of the gentlemen present, and they had not been given power
to act for their countrymen. The main stipulations of the agreement
were the following:

1. The three countries were always hereafter to have the same king.

2. One king was to be elected by authorized delegates from the three

3. The countries were to help each other against foreign foes.

4. Each country was to be governed by its own laws.

Queen Margaret died at Flensborg, October 27, 1412, aged fifty-nine
years, leaving the government in the weak hands of King Erik.

In the union Denmark soon assumed the position of the chief country.
In Sweden and Norway the people complained that the revenues of
the countries went to pay the expenses of the war with the Counts
of Holstein about Schleswig, although this war, which lasted for
twenty-six years, concerned only Denmark. The counts received aid
from the Hansa towns, which hated King Erik, because he encouraged
the Dutch trade with the northern countries. In 1427 he defeated the
Hanseatic fleet in Oere Sound, and in 1428, when they tried to attack
Copenhagen, the city was saved by his brave queen, Philippa of England.
She armed the citizens and the peasants, and the Germans were obliged
to withdraw. The final outcome of the war was, however, that King Erik
had to cede Schleswig to Count Adolph of Holstein by the peace at
Vordingborg (1435).

Norway had occasion to feel the effects of King Erik's weakness. The
inhabitants of Finmark and Halogaland were attacked by Russians and
other enemies from the northeast, who did great damage and abducted
men and women, and the town of Bergen was left defenceless against the
attacks of the daring Victualia-Brethren. Thus in 1428 the pirate from
Wismar, Bartholomew Vot, came to Bergen with six hundred men, just as
the English traders were waiting there for the vessels from Northern
Norway to bring herring, stock-fish and other goods. The Englishmen,
believing that the whole fighting force of the Hansa towns was coming,
hastened aboard their ships and took flight. The bishop of Bergen,
who was seized with a similar fear, left everything behind for the
enemy and fled with the Englishmen. The robbers then went ashore and
plundered the town. At the bishopric they forced the iron doors to the
book-room and took away all the books, besides many other valuables. As
the traders from the north arrived with their full cargoes, the booty
of the pirates became so much larger, as they took possession of their
fish, furs and other goods. This success encouraged the robbers to
renew their attack on Bergen next year, when they again plundered the
bishopric, and then laid a great part of the town in ashes.

In all three countries the people were dissatisfied with King Erik;
he coined bad money, levied new taxes, and appointed foreigners,
especially Germans, to the chief offices. In Sweden the first uprising
started. The peasants in Dalarne twice sent the gallant Engelbrekt
Engelbrektsson to Denmark to complain of the cruel prefects, but he
could obtain no redress. On his return he placed himself at the head of
a rebellion, which spread itself to the whole country. Engelbrekt was
murdered (1435); but in his place Carl Knutsson Bonde became the leader
of the rebellion and regent.

In Norway the people followed the example of the Swedes. The peasants
in Viken revolted under Amund Sigurdson Bolt, captured Oslo, and drove
some of the Danish and other foreign officers out of the country. In
a proclamation issued, after this uprising, by the Norwegian Council
of State, calling upon the people to be loyal to King Erik (1436),
the council promised to request the king in the future not to appoint
foreigners to the high offices unless they had married into Norwegian

In Denmark also the people complained of the heavy taxes and the many
Germans who were imported and given high positions. Wearied of all
these complaints, and taking with him his mistress, Cecilia, the money
left in the treasury, and a number of important documents, King Erik
left the country and took up his residence on the island of Gotland,
where he had a fortified castle (1438). Shortly after this he was
formally deposed in Denmark and in Sweden, while in Norway they still,
for a time, remained loyal to him. As regent in Norway, during his
absence, the king appointed the influential Norwegian, Sigurd Jonson.
The latter descended from a powerful old family; he had inherited
Biarkoe, Giske and other estates, and was the richest man in the
country. For ten years King Erik lived in his castle in Gottland,
supporting himself by piracy, but was finally driven away by the
Swedes. He returned to his native country, Pomerania, where he ended
his long but inglorious life in 1459.


_Christopher of Bavaria (1442-1448)_

According to the provisions of the Kalmar Union, a new king was to
be elected by the authorized delegates of the three countries; but,
instead of that, the Danish Council of State summoned Erik's nephew
(sister's son), Christopher of Bavaria, who was first elected regent
and shortly afterward (1440) proclaimed king. In Sweden, Carl Knutsson
Bonde endeavored to prevent a renewal of the Union; but, with the aid
of the clergy, the rights of Christopher were acknowledged, and he was
proclaimed king of Sweden at Morasten, September 14, 1441. In Norway,
King Erik had many adherents, and his favorite, Bishop Thorleif, did
all in his power to retain Erik, or his cousin, Bugislav, as king; but
when it appeared that neither of them was coming to assert his claim,
the Norwegians finally also acknowledged Christopher, and he was
hailed as king of Norway, in Oslo, in 1442. He had thus succeeded in
reuniting the three countries, although he was crowned separately in
each of them.

Christopher was a good-natured and jolly man, who wished everybody
well. In Sweden, there was naturally objection to the piracy committed
by his uncle from the island of Gottland; but when the Swedes
complained of this to the king, he answered merrily: "Our uncle is
sitting on a rock, and he, too, must have something to live off."

In Norway, the administration of public affairs was fairly good. There
were no complaints against the king, and the country's own people had
their share in the government. The king made an effort to restrict
the Hanseatic League, which, together with the "Victualia-Brethren,"
caused so much damage to Norway. For this purpose he tried to give
them commercial rivals by giving the citizens of Amsterdam trading
privileges in Norway. In 1444 he gave the town of Bergen new privileges
and announced several restrictions of the privileges of the Hansa
towns. The power and influence of the latter was shown by the fact that
this ordinance was repealed the next year, and the king was obliged to
confirm their old and "just" privileges. King Christopher, however, did
not abandon his purpose; but, just as he was about to bring new plans
into execution, death overtook him, January 6, 1448, when he was about
thirty-two years old.


_The Union with Denmark--Christian I. (1450-1481)_

After the death of King Christopher, the Swedes elected Carl Knutsson
Bonde king of Sweden, while the Danes elected Count Christian of
Oldenborg, at the age of twenty-two, because he was heir to Schleswig
and Holstein, and it was generally desired to have Schleswig reunited
with Denmark. In the Norwegian Council of State there was dissension.
The regent, Sigurd Jonson, the commander at Bergen, Olaf Nilsson, and
the commander at Akershus, Hartvig Krumedike, who was from the duchy
of Holstein, wanted to elect the Danish king, Christian, who was
remotely related to the old Norse kings, while another more popular
party, led by the Archbishop, Aslak Bolt, preferred the Swedish king,
Carl Knutsson. The council finally elected Christian, at Oslo, in
the spring of 1449; but, after his return to Nidaros, the archbishop
declared the election void, not having been voluntary, and joined the
people of the Throndhjem country and the Uplands in inviting King
Carl to come to Norway. With a mounted force of five hundred men,
King Carl proceeded through Vermeland and Solver to Hamar, where he
was proclaimed king of Norway, October 25, 1449, and a month later he
was crowned in Throndhjem by the archbishop. Early in 1450, however,
when King Carl attempted to capture Oslo, he was defeated, and an
armistice was arranged. The archbishop died shortly afterward, and,
at a meeting in Halmstad, in May, 1450, between Swedish and Danish
magnates, the Swedish delegates, in the name of King Carl, relinquished
all claims to Norway. Thus, when Christian came to Norway in the
summer, he was acknowledged by everybody, and was crowned in Throndhjem
on Saint Olaf's day, July 29, 1450. He then went to Bergen, where, on
the 29th of August, 1450, a closer union between Norway and Denmark
was concluded. The main provisions of the agreement were: 1. That
both countries were hereafter to be united in brotherly love, neither
country being the superior of the other; 2. That each country should be
governed by native-born officials, and enjoy their own laws, liberties
and privileges; 3. That both countries should henceforth remain under
one lord and king forever; 4. When the king died the councils of both
kingdoms were to meet at Halmstad and elect a new king from among the
late king's legitimate heirs.

Thus the house of Oldenborg acquired the throne of Norway and continued
to rule the country for three hundred and sixty-four years.

For several years there was war between Kings Carl and Christian, and
in this war Norway was also involved. In 1452 King Carl invaded Norway
with an army and captured Throndhjem; but he was afterward driven back
across the frontier by the commander in Bergen, Sir Olaf Nilsson.

The German merchants (Hansa, Hanseatic League), who, after the war
under King Erik, had returned to Bergen, had become more powerful
and insolent than ever before. They drove the citizens of the town
away from the wharves and continually increased their own number by
importations. The commander, Olaf Nilsson, was very severe with the
Germans, and made them pay heavy taxes. They complained to the king,
and, as he feared that the Hansa might aid his enemy, King Carl, he
removed Olaf. The latter now set out as a pirate against the Hansa
towns, and captured several of their ships at sea. He also succeeded
in capturing the Swedish fort, Elfsborg, at the mouth of the Gaut
River, and offered it to the king if he were reinstated as commander at
Bergen. This offer was accepted, and Olaf returned to Bergen. Enraged
at this, the Germans armed themselves to the number of over 2,000,
intent upon killing the commander. Olaf sought refuge in the cloister
of Munkeliv, where his friend, Bishop Thorleif, tried in vain to
appease the Germans. They burned the cloister, killed the bishop--who
came out carrying the Sacrament--and three other priests, besides Olaf
Nilsson and his brother, with families and children; in all, sixty
people. This was the 1st of September, 1455. The king, who needed the
help of the Hansa towns, neither would nor could punish this great
crime. But the Pope placed the murderers in the ban of the church, and
compelled them to pay heavy fines for the murder of the bishop and to
rebuild the cloister.

Internal dissensions in Sweden, involving a struggle between the king,
the bishops and the nobility, resulted in the expulsion of Carl and the
acceptance of Christian as the king of Sweden. Thus the three countries
again became united under one king (1457), and the next year the state
councils promised that, after the death of Christian, his son Hans was
to be king of all three countries. But King Christian made himself
hated by his oppression, and when he caused the imprisonment of the
powerful archbishop, Jens Bengtson Oxenstierna, the latter's nephew,
Ketil Carlsson Wasa, bishop of Linköping, swore that he would not put
on his bishop's robes until his country had been rid of its oppressor,
and he kept his word. Carl was recalled, and died, as king of Sweden,
in 1470, after several unsuccessful attempts by Christian to regain the
Swedish crown. In 1471 Christian was defeated in battle at Brunkeberg
(now a part of Stockholm) by King Carl's nephew, Sten Sture, whom the
Swedes had elected regent. After that King Christian made no further
attempts to recover Sweden.

King Christian was a reckless spendthrift, and was always financially
embarrassed. The annual tribute for the Hebrides, which Scotland was to
pay to the king of Norway according to the peace made with King Magnus
the Law-Mender, had not been paid for some time, and King Christian
in vain demanded payment. In order to settle the matter peaceably
it was arranged that Christian's daughter Margaret was to marry the
Scotch king, James III., and her dowry was fixed at 60,000 gulden.
As Christian could not raise this amount, he obtained the consent of
the Norwegian Council of State to pawn the Orkneys for 50,000 gulden,
besides remitting the tribute for the Hebrides. Not being able to pay
the balance, he also, without consent, pawned the Shetland Isles. Thus
these ancient dependencies were lost to Norway, for they were never
redeemed, although each new king solemnly promised to do so.

King Christian died May 21, 1481, at the age of fifty-five years, and
lies buried at the Cathedral of Roskilde.


_Hans (1483-1513)_

Christian's eldest son, Hans, or Johannes, had already as a child been
proclaimed as his father's successor in all three countries, but after
the death of Christian neither the Norwegians nor the Swedes showed
any great disposition to renew the union. The Norwegian Council of
State entered into a league with the Swedish regent, Sten Sture, at
Oslo, February 1, 1482, where it was agreed that hereafter Norway and
Sweden were to act together and mutually support each other for the
maintenance of their liberties, rights and welfare. But as Sten Sture
hesitated in openly declaring himself against Denmark, the Norwegians
again turned to that country and agreed to a joint election of a king
at Halmstad (January 13, 1483), where King Hans succeeded in inducing
Archbishop Gaute and the other delegates to acknowledge him as king
of Norway, after having promised to redress all wrongs and otherwise
comply with the wishes of the people. He was crowned in Throndhjem,
July 20, 1483.

The king's chief efforts were now directed toward effecting the
submission of Sweden. The authorized delegates of the three countries
assembled at Kalmar, where the union was renewed, and the Kalmar Recess
was published (November, 1483); but through the influence of Sten Sture
the acknowledgment of King Hans was postponed from year to year.
Finally, in 1497, Hans invaded Sweden with a strong army, defeated
Sten Sture, and was proclaimed king of Sweden. Thus Hans had become
ruler of the three countries, and his son Christian was proclaimed
his successor. This power, however, was not of long duration. In the
western part of Holland there lived a people called the Ditmarshers,
whom the emperor had transferred to King Christian, although they had
always formerly been a free people. King Hans wished to subdue them,
and, in the year 1500, he and his younger brother, Duke Frederick
of Schleswig-Holstein, invaded the country with a large army. They
suffered a terrible defeat, however, as the inhabitants opened the
dikes and called in the ocean as their ally. The king and his brother
escaped with a loss of 4,000 slain or drowned, while enormous treasures
were lost. No sooner did the news of this disaster reach Sweden than
the Swedes took up arms. Sten Sture was again made regent, and King
Hans's own queen was made a prisoner in Stockholm.

At the same time the Norwegians also revolted. The most powerful man
in Norway at that time was Sir Knut Alfson, owner of Giske and many
other estates. He had long been commander at Akershus; but had had a
quarrel with Henrik Krummedike, the commander at Bahus, and the king,
suspecting him of being friendly to the Swedes, had removed him. Now
that the Swedes had revolted, Sir Knut joined them and defeated the
Danes, after which he invaded Norway and captured the fortresses
Akershus and Tunsberghus. Henrik Krummedike proceeded with a strong
army to Oslo, in order to besiege Akershus. Negotiations were opened
for peace, and Henrik invited Sir Knut to a conference on board his
ship under safe conduct, but, on his arrival, foully murdered him
and threw his body into the water. The struggle of the discontented
Norwegians was continued under the leadership of Knut Alfson's widow,
the brave Lady Mette Dyre; but when the Danes received reinforcements
from Denmark the rebellion was soon suppressed, and Lady Mette was
obliged to flee to Sweden. Knut Alfson's large estates were confiscated
to the crown.

The attempt to subdue the Swedes was not so successful, although some
strong attacks were made. The able regent, Sten Sture, died in 1503,
but his successor, Svante Nilsson Sture, who married Knut Alfson's
widow, defended his country's independence with courage and ability. He
died in 1512, and was succeeded by Sten Sture the Younger.

In the year 1506 King Hans sent his son Christian to Norway to rule the
country in his name. Christian tried to rule as an autocratic king,
and to place Norway entirely under Danish rule. He installed Danes as
commanders of the fortresses, and also had Danes elected bishops. His
faithful servant and chancellor, Erik Valkendorf, was made archbishop
in Throndhjem. He understood that it was detrimental to the country
that the Hansa towns had a monopoly of the trade, and therefore tried
to restrict their privileges and to encourage the competition by the
merchants from Holland, and took many steps to help the Norwegian
towns. But in dealing with revolts he was very severe. An uprising by
the peasants of Hedemarken, under the leadership of Herlog Hudfat, was
promptly crushed, and the leaders were beheaded outside of Akershus.
Some of the captured peasants were tortured until they confessed that
Bishop Carl of Hamar was the real instigator of the rebellion. The
bishop was captured and held in prison until his death, and Christian
took possession of his estate.

The Hansa towns were greatly enraged against Christian; but they hated
King Hans even more, because he interfered with their trade with Sweden
and encouraged the Dutch traders. It finally came to open war, and
the traders of Lubeck attacked and plundered the Danish islands. King
Hans, however, returned the attack with a strong fleet, defeated the
Lubeckers, and compelled them to make peace and to pay 30,000 gulden
in war indemnity. This was the first time that a Scandinavian king had
dared to go to war with the powerful Hansa towns.

King Hans died at Aalborg, February 20, 1513, fifty-eight years old.


_Christian II. (1513-1523)_

After the death of King Hans, his only son, the cruel Christian,
mounted the throne; but the Council of State and the nobility, well
knowing that he would be a less compliant monarch than his father,
sought to secure their alleged rights by a new charter, which he was
compelled to sign before he was crowned.

During his stay in Norway as viceroy, Christian had become acquainted
with a Dutch girl in Bergen, the beautiful Dyveke. They first met at
a ball, which he gave for the most prominent citizens in Bergen, and
where they fell in love with each other. He afterward brought the girl
and her wily mother, Sigbrit Willums, with him to Oslo and later to
Copenhagen, where Sigbrit continued to wield a great influence during
the whole of Christian's reign. Two years after his accession to the
throne, Christian married the wealthiest princess of Europe, Isabella,
a sister of Charles V., who afterward became emperor of Germany
and king of Spain. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp at
Copenhagen. The young queen brought him a dower of 250,000 gulden, and
she was as good and lovely as she was rich. Archbishop Erik Valkendorf
had brought the bride to the country, and had promised Charles V. to
see that Dyveke was kept out of the way. Sigbrit Willums heard of
this, and henceforth was the archbishop's bitter enemy. Neither did
the king listen to the archbishop's advice. Dyveke retained the favor
of the king until, a year and a half later, she suddenly died, and the
king's passionate love for her now led him to a cruel and unjust act.
The governor of the castle in Copenhagen, Torben Ox, had also fallen
in love with Dyveke, and, as she died shortly after having eaten some
cherries, it was rumored that the cherries had been poisoned, and that
Torben Ox had caused her death. The king summoned Torben before the
Council of State, which acquitted him. The king became enraged when he
heard the decision, and said: "If we had had as many friends in the
council as Torben had, the judgment would have been different; but even
if this ox has a neck as thick as that of a bull, he shall yet lose
it." Although, according to law, a nobleman could only be tried by the
Council of State, the king summoned twelve peasants to retry the case.
They found him guilty, and although the counsellors and the nobility,
the queen and the court ladies, all begged for mercy, the king was
unmoved, and Torben Ox was executed.

The crown of Sweden was the great object of King Christian's ambition;
but it took years before he reached this goal. The Swedish regent, Sten
Sture the Younger, was very popular and had undisputed power, until
he was antagonized by the newly-elected archbishop at Upsala, Gustaf
Trolle, who, with many members of the old nobility, became jealous of
the power enjoyed by the Sture family and preferred to support King
Christian. Sten Sture defeated Gustaf Trolle, who was deprived of his
see and compelled to flee from his castle. Afterward Sten Sture was
placed in the ban of the church, and the archbishop received aid from
Denmark. King Christian made several expeditions to Sweden, and finally
his general, Otto Krumpen, defeated Sten Sture's army in a battle on
the ice at Bogesund, where Sten Sture was mortally wounded (February,
1520). Sture's widow, the courageous Christina Gyldenstierna, tried to
hold the party together, and, for a few months, defended Stockholm;
but finally had to surrender the city. The Swedes now acknowledged
Christian as hereditary king, and, on the 4th of November, 1520, he was
crowned by Gustaf Trolle in the Grand Church in Stockholm. After the
coronation great festivities were held for three days. On the fourth
day a number of the Swedish nobles were summoned to meet at the palace.
While the king was surrounded by his court, the representatives of
Gustaf Trolle stepped forward and demanded reparation for the wrongs
committed against the archbishop. Christian, who wished to subdue the
Swedish nobles, availed himself of the opportunity and followed the
bad advice given him. The document by which Gustaf Trolle had been
deposed was produced, and all who had signed it were arrested on the
spot. The following day, November 8, 1520, the accused were brought
before a court consisting of eleven Swedish priests and one Danish
bishop. The only question asked was whether men who had raised their
hands against the Pope and the Holy Church were heretics. The members
of the court answering in the affirmative, the accused were declared to
be heretics, and the king fixed the punishment at death. The condemned
were at once conveyed to the great market-place, where two bishops,
thirteen Counsellors of State and knights, and many other prominent
men, in all about fifty, were beheaded. This was the notorious Carnage
of Stockholm.

After having left the conduct of the fight in Sweden in the hands
of his able admiral, Soefren Norby, King Christian now returned to
Denmark, where, during the next two years, he introduced several
excellent laws for the improvement of commerce, industry and culture.
But he also tried to establish himself as an autocratic king. He
abolished several of the privileges of the nobility and the bishops,
and planned the gradual extinction of the Council of State, by not
appointing any successors to members who died.

The Swedes did not long endure the rule of King Christian and the
insolence of his officers. The people of the province of Dalarne
(Dalecarlia) rose under the leadership of Gustavus Eriksson Wasa, a
young nobleman whose father was among those beheaded in the Carnage
of Stockholm. They successfully fought the Danes and captured one
town after another, and elected Gustavus Wasa regent of Sweden. King
Christian prohibited all trade by the Hansa towns with Sweden, and let
his men capture their ships; thus he incensed the people of Lubeck,
who declared war against him and helped the Swedes. King Christian
then levied a new tax to cover the war expenses and summoned a meeting
of nobles. But now the nobles of Jutland rose against him and offered
to proclaim his uncle, Duke Frederick, king. Frederick accepted the
offer, and the nobles sent Christian a letter revoking their allegiance
to him. An inexplicable faint-heartedness now seized Christian, and,
instead of summoning his many faithful adherents to his support, he
commenced to negotiate with his enemies, and when that proved of no
avail, he embarked, April 20, 1523, with his queen, his children, Lady
Sigbrit and others, and sailed to Holland in order to seek the aid of
his powerful brother-in-law, Emperor Charles V. Duke Frederick was
now proclaimed king, but he had to divide the power with the Council
of State and sign a charter which gave the nobility many improper
privileges. Shortly afterward the Swedes elected Gustavus Wasa king,
and thus ended the union of the three countries. Both kings were
obliged to restore to the Hansa towns all trading privileges, in order
to be assured that they would not help King Christian to return.


_Frederick I. (1524-1533)_

Norway had taken no part in the expulsion of King Christian, and for
a time remained loyal to him. The newly-elected archbishop, Olaf
Engelbrektson, proceeded to Rome in order to obtain the recognition of
the Pope. During his absence Norway was to be governed by the Council
of State, which consisted of the bishops and a few noblemen. The
mightiest among the latter was Nils Henrikson of Oestraat, whose wife,
Inger Ottesdatter, was related to the old Norwegian royal house. This
ambitious woman, commonly called Lady Inger of Oestraat, took quite a
prominent part in public affairs, three of her daughters being married
to prominent Danes.

King Frederick soon gained a number of influential adherents in Norway.
He sent to Bergen the Danish nobleman, Vincentz Lunge, who married
one of the daughters of Nils Henrikson and Inger of Oestraat. After
the death of Nils, Vincentz became a member of the Council of State
and commander at the fortress of Bergenhus. He used his influence
in favor of King Frederick; but he wanted the Council of State to be
as powerful in Norway as the Danish council was in Denmark. He was
supported by Archbishop Olaf, and the Council of State finally elected
Frederick king of Norway; but the king had to grant the council, and
especially Vincentz Lunge, great authority. The king issued a "Recess,"
by which he pledged himself: 1. In the future not to sign himself heir
to Norway, as the country was a free elective kingdom; 2. To redeem the
Orkneys and the Shetland Isles, which his father had illegally pawned;
3. That the coronation was hereafter to take place in Throndhjem. The
king did not care so much about keeping these promises as about filling
the most important offices with Danish noblemen, who conducted public
affairs to suit themselves. Among those who were specially favored
were: Mogens Gyldenstierne, who became commandant at Akershus; Eske
Bilde, who was placed in command at Bergenhus, relinquished by Vincentz
Lunge in consideration of having the nunnery at Bergen (afterward
called Lungegaarden) deeded to him; Vincentz's brother-in-law, Nils
Lykke, and Henrik Krummedike, notorious from the slaying of Knut Alfson.

King Frederick was an adherent of the doctrines of Luther, which had
now been commonly accepted in Northern Germany, and from thence were
introduced into Denmark. He compelled the Danish bishops to acknowledge
him as the head of the Church instead of the Pope, and took possession
of a number of cloisters, which he either kept for himself or gave
to the nobles. In Norway, too, he gave away some of the cloisters,
which, of course, caused great dissatisfaction among the clergy. The
discontent in Norway took a very definite form, when, contrary to the
Recess, the king sent his son Christian to Norway to be proclaimed heir
to the throne. Archbishop Olaf Engelbrektson and a majority of the
Council of State then declared that this could not be done, inasmuch
as Norway was an elective kingdom; and here the king was obliged to
let the matter rest. Meanwhile, the exiled King Christian, encouraged
by messages from Norway and Sweden, thought he saw a chance to regain
his lost throne. With the aid of Charles V., and some private parties,
he gathered an army and a fleet in Holland, and sailed for Norway in
October, 1531, with twenty-five ships and 7,000 men. On the way he
suffered by great storms and lost ten of his ships, but landed in
Norway with the remnants of his fleet. He gained a large number of
adherents, and, proceeding to Oslo, laid siege to the fortress of
Akershus. Mogens Gyldenstierne, however, defended it well, and when,
in the spring (1532), reinforcements arrived, in the form of a strong
army of Danes and Lubeckers, Christian made an agreement with Mogens,
by which he was to proceed, under a safe conduct, to Copenhagen, in
order to personally conduct peace negotiations with his uncle. Upon
his arrival in Denmark, however, the agreement was shamefully broken,
and the unfortunate king was thrown into prison at Sonderborg. He was
placed in a cell having a small barred window high up; the entrance was
closed with masonry, and the food was sent in through a hole in the
wall. Here he remained for eighteen years. In 1550 he was transferred,
by Frederick's successor, to a milder prison in Kallundborg
Castle, where he remained until he died, in the beginning of 1559,
seventy-eight years old.

The Norwegians were severely punished for their alliance with
Christian. The chieftains of the Danish party, Bishop Olaf in Bergen
and the Danish noblemen, Eske Bilde, Vincentz Lunge and Nils Lykke,
held a meeting in Bergen shortly after Christian's defeat and levied a
heavy tax on the whole country. The archbishop was fined 15,000 Danish
marks. The Norwegians were compelled to relinquish any right, through
the Council of State, to elect any other king than the one elected for

Shortly after Frederick had been again recognized by the Norwegians
as their king, he died, without being missed, at the age of sixty-two
years, April 10, 1533. During his reign the Lutheran faith was preached
throughout Denmark, but only in a few towns in Norway; for instance, in


_Interregnum (1533-1537)_

At the death of Frederick I. an interregnum occurred, as the Danish
estates were unable to agree upon the election of a new king. The
nobles favored the late king's oldest son, Duke Christian, but he being
devoted to Protestantism, the clergy wanted his younger brother, Hans,
who was only a child, and whom they hoped to win for the Catholic
faith. The bourgeoisie and the peasants desired to have the imprisoned
Christian II. reinstated. Under the pretext that a new king could not
be elected without the presence of the Norwegian Council of State, the
clergy succeeded in having the election postponed to a joint meeting
of the councils of both countries, to be held the following year. In
the meantime, the so-called "Count's Feud" broke out. The Lubeckers,
who were dissatisfied on account of the trading privileges granted to
the Dutch, sent an army to Denmark, under command of Christopher of
Oldenborg, who desired to recover the Danish throne for his cousin,
the captive king, Christian II. The count discovered the lower estates
to be such bitter enemies of the nobility, and ardent adherents of the
captive king, that he found no great difficulty in taking possession
of the Danish Isles and Scania. The Council of State, or a part of it,
now hastened to elect Frederick's son, Duke Christian, king (July 4,
1534). An alliance was formed with the Swedish king, Gustavus Wasa,
against the Lubeckers, and the fortunes of war soon turned in favor of
the new king. His brave general, Johan Rantzau, defeated the enemy at
Aalborg, crossed over to Fyn, and won a complete victory over the count
at Oexneberg, while Gustavus Wasa helped the king's party to retake
Scania. After the capture of Copenhagen, July 29, 1536, King Christian
III. was recognized by the whole of Denmark.

While the Count's Feud was going on in Denmark, there was also strife
and disorder in Norway. Both parties had tried to win the support of
the powerful archbishop in Throndhjem, Olaf Engelbrektson, and through
him the control of Norway; but, while for several reasons he could not
recognize Christian III., he was for a time uncertain whom to support.
It was decided to hold a meeting in Throndhjem at Christmas, 1535,
for the purpose of electing a king; but the followers of Vincentz
Lunge and Eske Bilde in the southern and western parts of the country
held a meeting at Oslo, shortly before Whitsuntide, 1535, where they
proclaimed Christian III. king of Norway. A special embassy from the
queen-regent of Holland visited Archbishop Olaf, and, in the name of
Emperor Charles V., promised him powerful support if he would persevere
in his old loyalty to the captive king, Christian II.; and when the
agents of Christian III. arrived in Throndhjem, about Christmas
time, there was an uprising of the people, said to be instigated by
the archbishop, and many of the Danish magnates were imprisoned and
otherwise maltreated. Two of them, the counsellors Vincentz Lunge and
Nils Lykke--who were not only public opponents, but personal enemies,
of the archbishop--were murdered.

The archbishop now adopted a vigorous policy, and tried to get
possession of the fortresses of Bergenhus and Akershus, but his
armies were defeated. When the adversity of Christian II.'s party in
Denmark further convinced the archbishop that the cause was hopeless,
he released the imprisoned agents and requested them to mediate with
the king, offering allegiance to Christian III. on condition that he
be allowed to retain his rank and property. The king, however, did
not accept the offer, but, in the spring of 1537, sent a fleet of
fourteen ships and 1,500 men, under the command of Truit Ulfstand and
Christopher Hvitfeld, to Throndhjem. Foreseeing the destruction of his
party, Archbishop Olaf Engelbrektson gathered the treasures of the
cathedral and fled to Holland, where this last champion of Norwegian
independence died the following year.


_Christian III. (1537-1559)--The Reformation Introduced_

At the great Diet, held in Copenhagen, in 1536, it was decided that
the Catholic faith should be abolished, the property of the bishops
and the cloisters was confiscated to the crown, and the Lutheran faith
was introduced into Denmark. A new ecclesiastical law was adopted,
called the Ordinance. The king also promised the rapacious nobility of
Denmark that henceforth Norway was to be, and remain, under the crown
of Denmark as any other part of the country, and not to be called a
separate kingdom, but a province of the Danish crown. The Norwegian
Council of State was abolished, the Catholic bishops were removed, and
Danish noblemen were installed at the fortresses to rule the country
in the king's name. From this time the Danish Council of State exerted
great influence in the government of Norway; but, in spite of all this,
Norway remained a separate state; it retained its old laws, and the
chancellor was still to be the supreme judge.

After the flight of the archbishop, and the submission of Norway, the
Danish Church Ordinance was also made to apply to Norway; but the new
faith was little known there, and the Norwegians long clung to the old
faith. When the bishops had been removed, Danish magnates were sent
around in the country to take possession of "the silver, treasures
and goods of the old idolatry." In performing this function the Danish
magnates showed especial reformatory zeal. Thus, in Bergen, the church
robber, Eske Bilde, spared neither churches nor the graves of the
departed kings, while in Throndhjem Otto Stigson burned the library
and archives of the cathedral chapter, and Thord Roed committed havoc
in the same manner in Stavanger. Saint Olaf's costly shrine--which
stood on the high altar in the cathedral of Throndhjem, and was
ornamented with precious stones--as well as many other treasures of the
church, were sent to Copenhagen. Lutheran superintendents or bishops
were installed in place of the Catholic bishops; but the government
could not at once remove all the Catholic priests, because there
were not Lutheran ministers enough to put in their places, and, when
Lutheran ministers were appointed, they were generally treated with
ill-will, and sometimes even driven away or killed. The majority of
the Lutheran ministers were Danes, and Danish became the language of
the Church. The ablest of the new Lutheran bishops was Geble Pederson
in Bergen, who showed great zeal in educating Lutheran ministers.
Theological seminaries were established at each of the episcopal sees
of Throndhjem, Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo. The bishopric of Hamar was
consolidated with that of Oslo.

The Hansa towns, in making peace with Christian III. after the Count's
Feud, had succeeded in retaining their trading privileges in Norway,
and, during the greater part of this reign, acted in their old insolent
and oppressive manner. In Bergen they made themselves especially
obnoxious, so that the people complained bitterly to the king. He
finally appointed, as commander in Bergen, the able Danish nobleman,
Christopher Walkendorf, who commenced to put limits to the arbitrary
and violent conduct of the Germans, and subdued them in such a way that
they never regained their old power. After this the Norwegian citizens
of Bergen gradually asserted themselves, and soon had the control of
the whole fishery trade with the northern districts.

Christian III. died on the 1st of January, 1559, at the age of
fifty-five years. Although he reigned for twenty-three years, he never
visited Norway as king.


_Frederick II. (1559-1588)_

Christian III. was succeeded by his oldest son, Frederick II., who was
then twenty-five years old. This vain and worthless monarch commenced
his reign with a successful war on the liberty-loving Ditmarshers.
Later he waged war on the Swedish king, Erik XIV. The causes of this
disastrous war, the so-called Northern Seven Years' War (1563-1570),
were apparently trivial. Both kings wanted to carry the three crowns
in their coats-of-arms, and some Swedish messengers, who were on their
way to Germany, had been arrested in Denmark; but the real reasons were
the jealousy between the two kings and the desire of the Danes to again
unite the three countries under a Danish king. At sea the Danes were
unsuccessful, although they had very able admirals in Herluf Trolle and
Otto Rud. On land they fared no better in the beginning; but, in 1565,
the hero, Daniel Rantzau, won a great victory over a much larger army
than his own in the battle of Svarteraa in Halland.

Norway, whose defences had been sadly neglected, suffered greatly,
during this war, from Swedish incursions. A Swedish army of 4,000 men,
under the command of the Frenchman, Claude Collart, conquered Jemteland
and Herjedalen and crossed the mountains to Throndhjem. The fortress
Stenviksholm was forced to surrender, and the people of Throndhjem
and the surrounding districts submitted without resistance and paid
homage to the Swedish king. Later, however, Claude Collart was defeated
by a fleet sent against him by the governor at Bergenhus, the rich
and highly-esteemed Erik Rosenkrands. Claude Collart took refuge in
the fortress Stenviksholm; but here he was besieged, and was finally
obliged to surrender. He was sent in irons to Copenhagen. Especially
hard for the Norwegians was the year 1567, when the Swedes harried
Hedemarken, Romerike and Soloer, and captured Hamar. The cathedral
of Hamar was burned, and the Swedes marched against Akershus, which
was bravely defended by the commander, Kristen Munk. The citizens of
Oslo burned their town in order to prevent the Swedes from obtaining
a foothold there. On this occasion the Swedes lay encamped on the
mountain side above the town, on a plain afterward called the "Swedish
plain." The Norwegians were hard pressed; but Erik Rosenkrands again
sent assistance from Bergen, and the Swedes were obliged to leave the
country with considerable loss. The incursions of the Swedes were,
however, repeated from time to time, and, during one of them, the town
of Sarpsborg was burned, January, 1570. Finally, in December, 1570,
peace was concluded at Stettin, and the terms were, on the whole,
favorable to Denmark. In return for relinquishing her claims to Sweden,
which could never have been established, she secured an acknowledgment
of her rights to Norway, Scania, Halland and Blekinge, while Sweden
returned the Norwegian provinces of Herjedalen and Jemteland, and paid
150,000 Rigsdalers for war expenses. Both countries retained the right
to carry the "three crowns" in their coats-of-arms.

The Seven Years' War was not the only cause of suffering in Norway
during the reign of Frederick II. From 1572 Norway was given its own
_Statholder_ or viceroy, always a Danish nobleman, who was to reside
at Akershus, the fortress near Oslo. But the viceroy did not not have
the power, if indeed he desired it, to prevent the prefects and other
officers from subjecting the people to cruelties and extortions. They
arbitrarily levied taxes, conducted illegal trading, and treated the
peasants in a shameful manner. For ten years Erik Munk continued his
violent rule in Nedenes. At last, on complaint of the people, he was
sentenced to return illegal taxes and indemnify a peasant, whose
property he had taken. Later he was deprived of his office and placed
in a prison, where he committed suicide. Ludvig Munk, prefect in
Throndhjem, even became viceroy, although his conduct as prefect had
been such as to cause a conspiracy, which cost the instigators their

The city of Fredericksstad, which was built to replace the ancient
Sarpsborg, was named after King Frederick.

During his reign of twenty-nine years, Frederick II. was only once
in Norway on a short visit, and knew little of the distress of the
country. He amused himself at the palace of Copenhagen, where he led a
dissolute life, shortened by drink. He died, April 4, 1588, at the age
of fifty-four years.


_Christian IV. (1588-1648)_

Frederick II. was succeeded by his son, Christian IV., a king who
became very popular with the Norwegians. Christian was only eleven
years of age at his father's death. According to the desire of the late
king, his widow, Sophia of Mecklenburg, was to act as regent during
Christian's minority, but the powerful Council of State refused to
confirm such regency, and appointed four members of their own body,
Chancellor Niels Kaas, Admiral Peder Munk, and the Counsellors Jorgen
Rosenkrands and Christopher Walkendorf, as regents and guardians of
the prince. Christian was given an excellent education by competent
teachers. He early showed great love for the sea, and Admiral Munk
caused a little frigate to be built expressly for him, and had it
launched in a lake in Jutland, where he was taught by expert sailors
how to navigate his ship.

When he was nineteen years old, Christian assumed the government in his
own name, and was crowned, with great ceremony, in Copenhagen, 1596.
None of the other Danish kings have been so zealous for the welfare
of Norway. He frequently visited the country, and once even (1599)
sailed along the northernmost coast into the White Sea, as he wished
to acquaint himself with the circumstances of the northern boundary
conflict with Sweden. On his return voyage he came to Bergen, where he
witnessed a trial in court, visited the German wharf and watched the
games of the Germans. He attended a jolly party at the apothecary's,
where the guests smashed the windows; the king's crowned monogram was
painted on the new panes. He also visited the peasants and drank toasts
with them, according to their custom. King Christian listened to the
complaints from Norway of the extortions of the Danish prefects, who,
one after another, were deposed from office or compelled to pay heavy
fines. He made the Norwegian-born nobleman, Hans Pederson Basse (or
Little), Chancellor of Norway.

The old Norwegian laws, which were written in the old Norse language,
and therefore now hard to understand, were abolished, and, in their
stead, the king directed the learned chancellor, Hans Pederson Basse,
with the assistance of other experienced men, to elaborate a new code
of laws. Hans Pederson died (November, 1602) before this work was
completed, but his assistant and successor as Chancellor of Norway,
Anders Green, continued it, and the new laws were published in 1604. A
Norwegian ecclesiastical law (Ordinance) was also given, because the
Danish one was not suited for Norway.

Christian IV. had three wars during his long reign, two with Sweden and
one with the Catholics in Germany.

The first Swedish war (1611-1613) was fought principally for Norway's
sake. The Swedish king, Charles IX., called himself, at his coronation,
King of the Lapps, and laid claim to the Norwegian province of Finmark.
There was also a renewal of a conflict about "the three crowns" in
the coats-of-arms. Christian made a successful attack, destroyed the
newly-founded town of Gothenburg, and captured Elfsborg and the town
and fortress of Kalmar; hence this war is called the Kalmar War.
During the war, the old king, Charles IX., died, and was succeeded by
his son, the great Gustavus Adolphus. The war was largely conducted
with foreign mercenaries, as it was not yet usual to have standing
armies. Gustavus Adolphus had secured two such hired armies, which
were to try to proceed across Norway in order to reach Sweden, as
the Kattegat was closed with Danish ships. Colonel Munchaven landed
with eight hundred men from Holland in Söndmöre, where he plundered
the country, then tried in vain to attack Throndhjem, and afterward
proceeded through Stjördalen, where the people had become so
frightened, on account of his depredations, that they did not dare to
offer any resistance. Ravaging and plundering he made his way across
the mountain ridge Kjölen into the province of Jemteland, which he
conquered before joining the army in Sweden. The second foreign army
was given a different reception. It consisted of nine hundred men, who
came from Scotland under the command of Colonel George Sinclair. They
landed at Veblungsnes in Romsdal and proceeded up to Gudbrandsdal.
Under the leadership of Bailiff Lauritz Gram, the brave peasants of
the Gudbrandsdal armed themselves as best they could. The peasants
from the parishes of Lesje, Vaage, Fron, and Ringebu, gathered at the
narrow mountain pass, Kringen, near the river Laugen, to await the
arrival of the enemy. The advance guard was allowed to pass; but on the
arrival of the main body, with Colonel Sinclair himself, the Norwegians
suddenly attacked the Scotchmen, who were all shot down or driven into
the river. The advance guard was then overtaken and killed. Of the
whole force of nine hundred men, not one man, it is said, escaped. At
Kvam's Church a grave is still pointed out as being that of Colonel
Sinclair, and at Kringen there is a plain stone monument bearing this
inscription: "Here Colonel George Sinclair was shot, August 26, 1612."
After the Scotchmen the Norwegians call this war the "Scotch War."

Peace was finally concluded at Knaeröd, January 26, 1613. Gustavus
Adolphus abandoned his claim to the Norwegian Finmark, and Christian
relinquished the captured fortresses upon being paid a million
Rigsdalers. Both countries were again allowed to use the three crowns
in their coats-of-arms.

In his second war Christian IV. was not successful. This was his
participation in the Thirty Years' War as the ally of the German
Protestants against Emperor Ferdinand II. and the Catholics
(1625-1629). After his defeat in the battle of Lutter am Barenberge,
the imperial armies, under Tilly and Wallenstein, overran Holstein,
Schleswig, and Jutland, and, at the Peace of Lubeck, Christian was
obliged to pledge himself not to take any further part in the war.

King Christian's third war was with Sweden. The Swedish king, Gustavus
Adolphus, had been fighting for the cause of the Protestants in
Germany, and, after his fall in 1632, the Swedes continued the war
under his able generals with much success. King Christian viewed with
alarm the growing power of the Swedes, and secretly allied himself with
the enemies of Sweden. The Swedes, however, anticipated his designs,
and, in December, 1643, the Swedish general, Torstensson, left the
scene of war in Bohemia and suddenly invaded Holstein, while another
Swedish army attacked the province of Scania; a Swedish and a Dutch
fleet were to convey these armies over to the Danish isles. The duchies
and Jutland were in a very short time conquered by the Swedes, and it
was only by Christian's wise and prompt proceedings that Funen and the
other islands were saved from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Although King Christian was then an old man of sixty-seven years,
he took command of his fleet, won a battle at Listerdyk, and fought
valiantly in the terrible naval battle of Kolbergheide, Femern, July
1, 1644, where he himself was badly wounded. On account of a lack of
vigilance on the part of the old Danish admiral Galt, the Swedish fleet
succeeded in escaping and uniting with the Dutch, and this combined
fleet, of sixty-four ships, thereupon attacked the Danish one of
seventeen ships, between Lolland and Falster. Unfortunately, a number
of the sailors were ashore, and some of the commanders took to hasty
flight. The remainder gathered around their admiral, the Norwegian,
Pros Nilson Mund, who would neither flee nor surrender, but fought to
the last man against the overwhelming force of the enemy. This defeat
placed Denmark in such a dangerous position that an immediate peace
became an absolute necessity. The peace was concluded at Bromsebro,
August 13, 1645, and King Christian was compelled to cede the Norwegian
provinces of Herjedalen and Jemteland, and the island of Gottland to

In Norway, where the king had lately established a standing army, this
war had been conducted with some success. It was named the Hannibal's
Feud, after the viceroy, Hannibal Sehested, who, with the assistance of
the brave warrior, the clergyman in Ullensaker, Kield Stub, not only
kept the enemy out of Norway, but also collected heavy tributes from
the nearest Swedish provinces. After peace had been concluded, Kield
Stub returned to his pastorate, which he managed to his death, in 1663.

Christian IV. did a great deal to promote the industries and commerce
of Norway. The Hanseatic office in Bergen was held in check, and
Norwegian trading enterprises were encouraged. The mining industry,
which had heretofore been neglected, became quite active. When silver
had been discovered in Sandsvaer, in 1623, he founded the mining-town
of Kongsberg. He also established the copper-works at Röros, where
copper was accidentally discovered by the peasant, Hans Aasen, in
1640. Oslo having been destroyed by fire, King Christian requested
the inhabitants to move across the bay, closer to the fortress of
Akershus, where he laid out the new town, the present capital of
Christiania (1624). At the mouth of the Otter River he founded the town
of Christianssand (1643), which afterward became the seat of the bishop
instead of Stavanger.

King Christian was very often in Norway. The last time was during the
year following the Peace of Bromsebro. After a pleasant sojourn of
seven weeks he returned to Denmark, where, shortly afterward, he died
(February 28, 1648), in the seventy-first year of his life.

Christian IV. was first married to Anna Katherina of Brandenburg,
who died in 1612. In 1615 he entered into a morganatic marriage with
Kristine Munk, a lady of noble family, to whom he gave the title of
Countess of Schleswig-Holstein, and with whom he lived happily many
years. They had several children, among whom was the highly gifted
Eleonora Kristine, who was married to the Danish nobleman, Corfitz
Ulfeld, and who, with her ambitious husband, exerted a great influence
over the king during the latter years of his life.


_Frederick III. (1648-1670)--Absolutism Introduced (1660)_

After the death of Christian IV. some months elapsed before the Council
of State would agree to elect his son, Frederick III., to the throne.
He was finally elected toward the end of the year 1648, after having
given the nobility still greater power, by signing a more humiliating
charter than any king had yet granted; but it also became the last one.
The conditions were such that he could not exercise any of the powers
of a king without the consent of the council.

During the first nine years of Frederick's reign the country had peace;
but the war which then broke out was most fatal in its result. The
Swedish king, Charles X. Gustavus, was at war with Poland, and rumor
had it that he had suffered serious defeats. Although the country
highly needed peace, the army and navy, as well as the finances,
being in a miserable condition, King Frederick believed there was an
opportunity to recover the lost provinces, and war against Sweden
was declared, 1657. But King Charles hastily left Poland and invaded
Denmark, and, before the year was closed, he had conquered Holstein,
Schleswig and Jutland. The winter being unusually severe, he could
march across the ice to the islands of Langeland, Lolland, and
Falster, and, in February, he stood with his whole army in Zealand
(Sjælland) and threatened Copenhagen. King Frederick was obliged to
sign the peace at Roskilde (February 26, 1658), by which he ceded to
Sweden the Norwegian provinces of Bahus-Len and Throndhjem Stift and
the Danish provinces of Scania, Halland, Blekinge, and the island of
Bornholm. Thus Norway was again deprived of some territory, although
the Norwegians, under Iver Krabbe (after whom the war was called the
Krabbe War), had repulsed the attacks of the Swedes, while General
Jorgen Bjelke had conquered Jemteland, which, however, had to be
evacuated when peace was concluded.

Having discovered the great weakness of Denmark, King Charles thought
he saw a chance to place the three crowns on his head, and five months
later he broke the peace, under some pretext, and again landed with
a well-equipped army, with which he besieged Copenhagen. He captured
the castle of Kronborg and other points of defence, and arrogantly
declared, to the Danish messengers sent to him, that "it could matter
little whether the king of the Danes was called Charles or Frederick,
and that he would explain the causes of the war after Denmark had been
taken." At Copenhagen, however, King Charles met a stronger resistance
than he had expected. A Dutch fleet, under Admiral Opdam, succeeded
in forcing its way past Kronborg and the Swedish fleet, and brought
provisions and help to the starving citizens. When Charles, during the
night of February 10, 1659, tried to take the city by assault, he was
repulsed after a desperate conflict, leaving 2,000 dead and wounded
in the hands of the Danes. Later in the year King Frederick succeeded
in securing the assistance of France, England and Holland. After a
conference held at the Hague, a Dutch fleet, under Admiral de Ruyter,
was sent to aid the Danes, and in November, 1659, the Swedish army was
defeated at Nyborg.

King Charles, after this defeat, turned his principal attention to
Norway, where his forces needed reinforcements. The able Major-General
Reichwein had proceeded to Throndhjem, shortly after the renewal
of the war, with a force of soldiers from the southern part of
Norway, and, with the aid of the inhabitants, had driven the Swedes
out of Throndhjem Stift. In the south, the citizens of Halden (now
Frederickshald) had especially distinguished themselves under the
brave Colonel Tonne Hvitfeld, the commandant at the fortress, and
the merchant, Peter Olafson Normand. Halden was twice visited by the
Swedes, and both attacks were heroically repelled by the citizens. In
the beginning of 1660 King Charles sent an army of 5,000 men, under
Field-Marshal Kagg, against Halden, and a vigorous siege was commenced.
For six weeks one assault after another was repulsed. About half of the
able-bodied citizens had fallen, the town was partly destroyed, and
the fortifications were badly damaged. But the Swedish army had also
suffered great losses, and on February 23d the siege was discontinued
and the army returned home, upon learning of the death of Charles
X. at Gothenburg (February 13). The Swedes now desired peace, and
King Frederick had no reason to wish to continue the war. He readily
concluded a peace with the queen-regent of Sweden, which was signed
at Copenhagen, May 27, 1660. The Swedes relinquished Throndhjem Stift
and the island of Gottland; but otherwise the terms of the Peace of
Roskilde were confirmed.

Denmark was in a miserable condition at the end of the war, without
fleet, without money, and hopelessly in debt. In his great need the
king summoned the nobles, the clergy, and the burgher class to a diet
at Copenhagen. The nobles, as usual, asserted their special privilege
of exemption from taxation; but the other estates joined in an appeal
to the king for the curtailment of the privileges of the nobles, and
proposed a disposal of the crown fiefs to the highest bidders without
regard to rank. While these propositions were made, the gates of the
city were closed by order of the burgomaster, Hans Nansen, and a
strong guard was placed at the doors of the hall where the meeting was
held. The nobles, being taken by surprise, were obliged to agree to
the payment of the taxes demanded of them. Later, by similar means,
the nobles were compelled to assent to an important change in the
government. The charter signed by the king at the time of his election
was declared void, the Council of State was abolished, and Denmark was
declared henceforth to be a hereditary kingdom. Thus, by a bloodless
and sudden revolution, King Frederick had become perfect master of
the situation. He was authorized to draft a new constitution, which
might be for the benefit of all classes; but this constitution never
appeared. He prepared a charter setting forth the absolute power of
the king, and this document was signed by all classes throughout
Denmark. Later he published the so-called Royal Law, which confirmed
the absolute power of the king. The only unconditional demands upon him
were, that he must belong to the Lutheran Church, that he must reside
within the country, and that he must not divide his countries.

The effect of the establishment of absolutism in Norway was at first
only that the country was placed under one master, the king, instead
of the many who had composed the Danish Council of State. Having,
since 1537, been ruled principally by Danish nobles, the country
gained by having absolutism introduced, as it was placed on an equal
footing with Denmark. The king now ruled with the same absolute power
in both countries, and the power of the Danish nobles was abolished or
greatly reduced. They were obliged to take their share of the burden of
taxation, and they suffered a great loss by the abolition of the fiefs.
The fiefs were changed into _Amts_, or counties, to be administered by
officers appointed and paid regular salaries by the king. The revenues
of the state were increased almost fivefold. In the new government
"colleges," which superseded the Council of State, citizens without
rank of nobility might become members. Thus able citizens, who were not
noblemen, obtained a chance to rise to power and dignity. Among those
who thus rose to high positions were Peter Schumacher and Kort Adeler.

Kort Syvertson Adeler was born in Brevig, Norway, December 26, 1622,
learned seamanship in Holland under the famous Admiral Tromp, and
distinguished himself as a brave fighter, first in Dutch, and afterward
in Venetian service, against the Turks, where he performed great
heroic deeds. Once he forced his way, with a single ship, through a
line of seventy-seven Turkish galleys, and another time he boarded the
Turkish admiral's ship, fought single-handed with Admiral Ibrahim, and
beheaded the admiral with his own sword. Several powers desired to get
the experienced naval hero in their service; but Frederick III. called
him home and made him admiral in the Danish navy. For twelve years he
labored with great zeal in establishing an efficient navy for Denmark
and Norway, but died in 1675 without having had a chance to make use of

Frederick III., who had not inherited his great father's affection for
Norway, visited this country only once in great haste. He died February
9, 1670, about sixty years old. During his last years he busied himself
a great deal with alchemy, and an itinerant Italian, who claimed to
know the mystic art, helped him to squander a couple of millions of
Danish dollars on this foolishness.

The fortress of Frederickssteen and the city of Frederickshald
(formerly Halden) were named after Frederick III.

Frederick III. was married to the proud and ambitious Sophie Amalie of
Hesse-Cassel, who, on account of her jealousy and hatred, caused the
king's half-sister, Eleonore Kristine Ulfeld, to be tried on some false
and absurd charges, and imprisoned in Blaataarn (the Blue Tower) in
Copenhagen, where she remained for twenty-two years. She was liberated
on the death of her enemy in 1685. King Frederick's and Sophie Amalie's
children were, besides Crown Prince Christian, George, who was married
to Queen Anna of England; Anne Sophie, who was married to John
George III. of Saxony, and became the mother of Augustus II.; Ulrike
Eleonore, who was married to the Swedish king Charles XI., and became
the mother of the famous Charles XII.; Frederikke Amalie, married to
Duke Christian Albrecht of Gottorp, and Wilhelmina, married to Prince
Charles of the Palatinate.


_Christian V. (1670-1699)_

Christian V., who succeeded his father, Frederick III., in 1670, was
the first Danish-Norwegian king who mounted the throne by hereditary
right, and was not obliged to sign a charter, dictated by the nobles,
in order to be elected. He was a brave and vigorous young man; but
he early disappointed those who had placed great hopes in him, as he
wasted his time and strength on hunting and other amusements, and left
the government to the care of his favorites, who were often incapable
and selfish men. He loved pomp and splendor, and sought to imitate
the extravagant Louis XIV. of France, spending much more money than
the treasury could afford. He especially fancied everything that was
German, and surrounded himself with indigent German noblemen, whom
he helped to make their fortunes in Denmark. At court the language
spoken was the German, the ministers preached in German, actors played
in German, and the highest officers were Germans. As many of the old
noble families had withdrawn from the capital, where they no longer
exercised their old influence, and had retired to their estates, where
they were still powerful on account of their wealth, King Christian,
determined to secure other support for the throne, created a new and
higher nobility, and established the titles and ranks recognized
in Germany. Thus he filled his court with counts and barons, and
adopted the strict etiquette and ceremonies of the French court. He
also established two orders of knighthood, the order of Dannebrog
and the order of the Elephant. In Norway, the earldom (county) of
Laurvik was established (1671) for the benefit of the king's friend
and half-brother, Ulrik Frederick Gyldenlöve, whose descendants, the
Counts of Danneskiold-Laurvik, and later Ahlefeldt-Laurvik, for a long
time owned this beautiful county. The old royal estate Sem, together
with the deanery of Tunsberg, was made into another earldom (1673)
for the then very powerful Minister of State Griffenfeld, who called
himself Count of Griffenfeld and Tunsberg; after he had fallen from
grace, this county was transferred to his rival, Gyldenlöve, who,
with the permission of the king, sold a part of it--afterward called
Jarlsberg--to the German-born field-marshal of Norway, Gustav Wilhelm
Wedel, the progenitor of the family of Wedel-Jarlsberg. Rosendal, the
only barony in Norway, was founded, in 1678, by Ludvig-Rosenkrands, a
Danish nobleman, who, by marriage, had come into possession of large
estates in Bergen Stift.

King Christian's adviser was, for some years, the eminent Danish
statesman, Peter Griffenfeld. His original name was Peter Schumacher,
and he was the son of a wine-seller in Copenhagen. His father died in
poverty, after which Bishop Brochmann took him into his home. Here King
Frederick saw him and had him sent abroad for six years at his expense.
After his return he became librarian to the king, and occasionally
assisted the king in state affairs. On his death-bed the king asked
his son to take care of Peter Schumacher, saying: "Make a great man
of him, but not too rapidly." Christian did not exactly follow this
advice: in the following year he made him Count of Tunsberg, with the
name of Griffenfeld, and appointed him great chancellor of the realm.
Griffenfeld became greatly renowned. The emperor made him an imperial
count, and Louis XIV. called him one of the greatest statesmen in the
world. But, on account of this, he soon had many jealous rivals at
the court, who aroused the king's suspicions as to his loyalty; he
was deposed and accused of several great crimes, although some of the
acts construed as crimes were acts of statesmanship for which he had
deserved the greatest praise. He was condemned to death and brought
to the scaffold; but, at the last moment, a message arrived from the
king, that the sentence had been commuted to imprisonment for life.
"This mercy is more cruel than death," exclaimed Griffenfeld. He was
first imprisoned in the castle of Copenhagen, and remained there for
four years; but as the king missed his able services, and his enemies
feared that he might again be put in power, they caused him to be
removed to the fortress of Munkholmen at Throndhjem, where he remained
for eighteen years. At first he whiled away the time by reading and
writing; but later they cruelly took away pen and ink. He wrote
numerous apothegms in the margins of his books with little bits of
lead, which he tore from the window-panes, or with coals on the wall.
He was given his liberty in 1698, but died the following year (March
11, 1699), in Throndhjem, at the age of sixty-four years.

As the ally of the Elector of Brandenburg, but principally in the
hope of recovering the lost provinces, King Christian, against the
advice of Griffenfeld, commenced war against the Swedish king, Charles
XI. This war, which lasted from 1675 to 1679, was called the Scania
War, because that province was the principal scene of action. The
Danes captured Wismar and some places in Scania, but lost the battles
of Halmstad, Lund, and Landskrona. At sea, however, the Danes were
generally successful. Admiral Kort Adeler had put the navy in good
condition and had a worthy successor in the naval hero, Niels Juel,
who won victories at Oeland and Kolbergerheide, and especially in the
great naval battle of Kjögebugt (October 4, 1677). As Griffenfeld
had foreseen, however, the Danes could accomplish little against the
allies of France, and Christian was obliged to accede to peace proposed
by Louis XIV. The peace was concluded at Lund (1679), and all that
Christian V. obtained, for his efforts during an expensive four years'
war, was permission to take with him ten cannons from each of the
conquered fortresses.

During this war, which the Norwegians called the Gyldenlöve Feud, after
their leader, the brave Ulrik Frederick Gyldenlöve, the Norwegians
several times defeated the Swedes. In February, 1676, Gyldenlöve
marched into Bahus Len with 11,000 men, conquering Udevalla and
Wenersborg. The following year he took the fortified town of Marstrand
by storm and compelled the fortress of Carlsten to surrender. In
order to prevent the Norwegians from making further progress, the
Swedish chancellor, Magnus de la Gardie, hastened into Bahus Len with
8,000 men, but was defeated by a much smaller Norwegian army, under
Major-General Hans Lövenhjelm, at Udevalla, August 28, 1677. About
1,500 Swedes were slain and two hundred were captured, together with
fourteen pieces of artillery and all the supplies. The following year
the ever-active Gyldenlöve attacked Bahus Castle, which, however,
he was unable to capture, as it was defended with great heroism and
perseverance. The war ended, on the part of Norway, with an incursion
by Gyldenlöve into Sweden in 1679, in order to avenge a similar
expedition which the Swedish General Sparre had made into the region
of Throndhjem the previous year, on which occasion the copper works at
Röros had been burned.

The Norwegian code of laws, which is yet partly in force, was
elaborated by direction of Christian V., dated April 15, 1687, and
published April 14, 1688. He abolished Latin singing in the churches,
introduced a new church ritual and a Danish hymn-book.

Christian V. visited Norway only once (1685). On Dovre Mountain he
laid the foundation for a monument, with an inscription in the German
language. He died August 25, 1699, leaving a debt of 1,110,000 Danish
dollars, although he had tried to replenish his treasury by hiring out
Norwegian and Danish soldiers as mercenaries to other countries. He was
married to the gentle Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Cassel.


_Frederick IV. (1699-1730)_

At the death of Christian V., his oldest son ascended the throne under
the title of Frederick IV. His education had been sadly neglected; but,
by untiring industry and energy after his accession to the throne,
he gained considerable practical knowledge of the affairs of the
government. He gave especial attention to the finances of the country,
and, by a careful reduction of all unnecessary expenses, he succeeded
in almost obliterating the great public debt. To his discredit,
however, it must be admitted that this result was obtained partly with
the blood of his subjects, as he secured large sums for the treasury
by hiring out to the emperor 8,000, and to England and Holland 12,000,
of the soldiers of Denmark and Norway, for service in the Spanish war
about the order of succession. These soldiers distinguished themselves
and fought with honor in many battles.

From his father, King Frederick had inherited certain disputes with
Duke Frederick of Holstein, which led to a war; but the duke received
aid from his brother-in-law, the Swedish king, Charles XII., who
invaded Zealand (Sjælland) and marched against Copenhagen, and King
Frederick was obliged to accept a hasty peace at Traventhal, Holstein,
August 18, 1700, on unfavorable terms.

After the peace at Traventhal Charles XII. turned his forces against
Russia and Poland, where he won victory after victory, until finally,
on the 27th of June, 1709, he lost the battle of Pultowa. On account of
the dangerous position in which this defeat placed the Swedish king,
King Frederick thought the opportunity had come to recover the lost
provinces. He renewed his old allegiance with Russia and Poland, and
began the Great Northern War (1709-1720). With 16,000 men he invaded
Scania and captured several towns; but the Swedish field-marshal,
Magnus Stenbock, hastily gathered an army of undisciplined peasants
and defeated the Danes at the battle of Helsingborg (1710). In this
war also the Danish-Norwegian fleet rendered great service, fighting
the Swedish fleet with success in the Baltic and especially in the
North Sea. On October 4, 1710, it was attacked by the Swedish fleet
in Kjögebugt. The Norwegian, Ivar Hvitfeld (a son of Tonne Hvitfeld,
who had distinguished himself at Frederickshald), commanded the ship
"Dannebrog," which took fire early in the fight. He might have saved
himself by beaching the ship, but there was danger of thus spreading
the fire to the rest of the Danish fleet and to the town. He therefore
stayed where he was, drew closer to the enemy and fired volley after
volley from the forward guns, until the fire reached the powder
magazine. The ship was blown up, and he and his five hundred men

In the latter part of 1715, Charles XII. returned to Sweden, after an
absence of fifteen years, and succeeded in giving new courage to the
Swedes, who were exhausted from the hardships of the long war. The
winter was very severe, so that the Sound was frozen over, and, in
January, 1716, Charles intended to lead his army of 20,000 men across
the ice and invade the Danish islands; but, just as he was ready for
this exploit, a thaw suddenly set in, so that he could not effect the
crossing, and, not having sufficient transports, Charles decided to
direct his attacks against Norway.

The defences of Norway were in a miserable condition. The trained
regiments had been sent south to Denmark, so that the army consisted
almost wholly of the National Guards, which were without training,
poorly clothed, and without the necessary supplies. The fortresses
were short of provisions, arms, and ammunition, and there was no money
in the treasury. The commanding general, the old and feeble Barthold
von Lützow, had to confine his operations to garrisoning the silver
works at Kongsberg and the principal passes. The natural advantages
of the country and the patriotism and perseverance of the inhabitants
constituted the principal defence.

By three different routes the Swedes invaded Norway. Charles himself
entered Höland in March, 1716. At the Riser farm the Swedish advance
guard was attacked by two hundred Norwegian dragoons under the brave
Colonel Ulrich Christian Kruse, and, during the fight, the colonel
himself killed fifteen men and wounded Charles's brother-in-law, the
prince of Hesse. After a desperate fight, and the fall of the brave
Captain Michelet, Colonel Kruse, who was so severely wounded that he
could not hold his sword, surrendered to King Charles with twenty men;
sixty lay dead or wounded, and the remainder had escaped. The Swedes
had one hundred and seventy killed and wounded. Charles highly praised
his brave opponent, had his own surgeon attend to his wounds, gave him
a sword, and asked him if his brother, King Frederick, had many such
officers. Kruse answered: "Of them he has many, and I am far from
being among the ablest."

Charles thereupon occupied Christiania and commenced to besiege the
fortress of Akershus, but could not accomplish much for lack of heavy
artillery. While he lay in camp there he sent out expeditions in
different directions. The Swedish colonel, Axel Löwen, was sent out
with six hundred dragoons to destroy Kongsberg silver works. He was to
proceed by way of Ringerike, because the road from Drammen was blocked
by the Norwegians; and, on the evening of March 28, 1716, he arrived
with his force at the Norderhov parsonage, Ringerike. The parson, the
learned Jonas Ramus, was confined to his bed by sickness, but his wife,
the intrepid Anna Kolbjörnsdatter, received the soldiers well in order
to avoid plundering. Having learned, by paying close attention to her
guests, that it was their intention early the next morning to surprise
a number of Norwegian dragoons, who lay encamped at the Steen farm and
knew nothing of the arrival of the Swedes, she asked and obtained the
permission of the colonel to send her servant-girl out to a neighboring
farm for something that was needed for the table. Thus she was enabled
to send warning to the Norwegians about the plans of the enemy. Under
the leadership of Captain Sehested and Sergeant Thor Hovland the
Norwegians set out at midnight, and, guided by the fires which Anna had
started under pretext of warming the chilly soldiers, they surprised
and overpowered the Swedish force. Colonel Löwen was captured, together
with one hundred and sixty men; thirty were killed, and the remainder

In April a Swedish force, under Colonel Falkenberg, was attacked and
defeated at Moss by the Norwegians, under the command of Major-General
Vincents Budde and Colonel Hvitfeld, who took four hundred prisoners
and captured a large quantity of supplies. At the parsonage of Skieberg
the Swedish general, Ascheberg, lay with 2,000 men and could hear the
shooting at Moss; but the parson, Peter Rumohr, who had intercepted the
correspondence between the Swedes at the parsonage and those at Moss,
gave such exaggerated accounts of the defeat of the Swedes and of large
reinforcements to the Norwegians, that General Ascheberg hastily broke
camp and returned to Sweden. When King Charles, some time afterward,
heard of this, he became so enraged at the minister that he caused him
to be captured and brought to Sweden, where he died in prison.

As the roads were becoming very bad, and Charles feared that the
Norwegians contemplated cutting off his retreat, he suddenly
withdrew from Christiania and shortly afterward attacked the city
of Frederickshald. Here the citizens had armed themselves under the
brave brothers Peter and Hans Kolbjörnson, nephews of Kield Stub,
and half-brothers of Anna Kolbjörnsdatter, and the Swedes had to buy
every step with blood. Charles captured the city on the night between
the 3d and 4th of July, 1716, and the Norwegians had to retire to
the fortress, Frederickssteen. That the enemy might not find shelter
behind the houses against the shots from the fortress, the citizens
put fire to the town. Peter Kolbjörnson commenced with his own house,
and soon the whole city was in flames. Charles had to withdraw from
Frederickssteen, with a loss of 1,500 men and three generals, to his
headquarters at Torpum, intending to renew the siege as soon as he
could get his heavy artillery from his transport ships at Dynekilen,
near Svinesund. But in this hope he was disappointed, as the Norwegian
naval hero, Peter Tordenskiold, by a daring attack shortly afterward,
succeeded in capturing or destroying the whole transport fleet at

Peter Wessel, afterward ennobled under the name of Tordenskiold, was
born November 7, 1691, in Throndhjem, where his father, Jan Wessel, was
a merchant. As he showed no disposition for college studies, he was
placed with a tailor as apprentice; but he ran away from his master,
came to Copenhagen, where he hired out as a sailor, and made journeys
to the West Indies and to India. Afterward he became a naval cadet,
made another trip to India, and on his return came to Bergen just
as the Great Northern War had broken out. He immediately proceeded
overland to Christiania, where the commanding general, Waldemar
Lövendahl, took a fancy to him and gave him the command of a ship of
four guns, "Ormen" (the Serpent), with which he made cruises along the
Swedish coast. He soon became renowned for his courage, and was given a
better ship called "Lövendahl's galley," a frigate of twenty guns. By
his heroic deeds and brilliant bravery he rose, in the comparatively
short time of ten years, from cadet to vice-admiral, and was ennobled
by King Frederick IV. "For your rare courage and loyalty," the king
said to him, "we have raised you to our nobility. Your name shall
hereafter be Tordenskiold (Thunder-shield)." "Well, then," answered the
young man, "I will so thunder in the ears of the Swedes that they will
say you have not given me the name without reason."

The entrance to the harbor of Dynekilen is at most places only four
hundred to four hundred and fifty feet wide. On a little peninsula in
the inlet the Swedes had erected a battery of six twelve-pounders, and
on each side of the narrow inlet 4,000 infantry were stationed. On the
evening of July 7th, when Tordenskiold lay with two frigates, three
galleys and two other vessels outside of Stromstad, he learned from
some Swedish fishermen, who were brought aboard as prisoners, where
the Swedish fleet lay, and also that a number of the officers had been
invited to a wedding, while the admiral was to have a banquet on board
for the others. He concluded that the officers, therefore, would be in
poor condition for fighting, and at daybreak he weighed anchor, and
cried over to the brave Lieutenant Peter Grib, who was commanding the
other frigate: "I am informed that the Swedish admiral is going to have
a carousal on his fleet to-day. Would it not be advisable if we went in
with our ships and became his unbidden guests? The pilot says we have
favorable wind." Peter Grib was ready, and Tordenskiold at once steered
into the harbor. Without firing a shot he ran his ship in through a
heavy fire from all sides. It was not till he came so near that his
six-pounders could be of effect, and when he had reached the widest
part of the inlet where he could arrange his ships with the broadsides
toward the enemy, that he commenced to fire. After three hours of
uninterrupted cannonading the Swedish fire began to slacken, and at
one o'clock (July 8, 1716) the Swedish flag was lowered. The Swedes
had then beached as many of their ships as possible, and soldiers
and sailors were trying to save themselves by flight. Tordenskiold's
victory was complete; forty-four ships, carrying sixty guns, were
either burned or sunk. Not a single ship was saved, and the next day
King Charles was on his retreat to Sweden.

In September, 1718, King Charles again attacked Norway. He sent
General Armfeldt with 14,000 men into Throndhjem Stift, where the
commanding general, W. Budde, had to confine himself to the defence
of the city of Throndhjem. King Charles himself moved against
Frederickssteen with 20,000 men and began a vigorous siege. The outer
redoubt was stormed and taken after a brave resistance, and the Swedish
trenches were only two hundred and fifty paces from the fortress
when King Charles was killed in one of the trenches by a bullet from
the fortress, December 11, 1718. A few days later the Swedish army
withdrew and returned to Sweden. General Armfeldt, on receiving this
intelligence, retreated from Throndhjem and started to return to the
frontier across the Tydal Mountains. On the mountain his army was
overtaken by a fearful snowstorm; many hundreds froze to death, and
many of those who escaped became cripples for life.

Frederick IV. now proceeded to Norway himself, and invaded Sweden
with 15,000 men and occupied Stromstad, while Tordenskiold, by daring
strategy, took possession of Marstrand and captured the fortress
Carlsten. The war, which had lasted eleven years, was ended by a peace,
which Charles's sister, Ulrika Eleonora, concluded at Fredericksborg
Castle, 1720. By this peace Sweden was compelled to agree never to help
the Duke of Holstein to recover Schleswig, to pay 600,000 Rigsdalers,
and to relinquish its right to exemption from tolls in the Oere Sound,
a right which Sweden had had since 1645.

Peter Tordenskiold lived only a few months after peace had been
concluded. He was allowed to make a journey abroad, and at Hanover he
thrashed a gambler, Colonel Stahl, who had cheated one of his friends.
For this he was challenged to a duel with the colonel, and in their
encounter he was killed, November 12, 1720, being then a little over
twenty-nine years of age.

The interests of Norway were often neglected during the reign of
Frederick IV. In order to raise money the government sold all the
Norwegian churches, and the lands belonging to them, to private
parties, because the people, who from time immemorial had owned the
churches, could not produce deeds or other documents showing title. The
northern districts of Norway were especially neglected. The trade with
Finmarken had, to the great detriment of that part of the country, for
a long time been leased to the citizens of Bergen; in 1720 it was sold
to three citizens of Copenhagen, and the result was greatly increased
distress among the people.

During the reign of Frederick IV., two Norwegians distinguished
themselves by missionary work. One of them was Thomas von Westen from
Throndhjem, who worked with great zeal for the cause of Christianity
in Finmarken. The other was Hans Egede, a clergyman from Vaagen
in Nordland, who proceeded to Greenland, where, for years, he
indefatigably devoted himself to the work of promoting the spiritual
and material welfare of the inhabitants.

Frederick IV. died in 1730, fifty-nine years old.


_Christian VI. (1730-1746)_

Christian VI., who succeeded his father, Frederick IV., in 1730,
commenced his reign by discharging the most of his father's experienced
advisers and friends. The very able Bartholomew Deichmann, bishop at
Akershus, who was most highly esteemed during the former reign, was
deposed and indicted, but died shortly after his degradation, April,
1731. The king allowed himself to be controlled by his German queen,
the proud and extravagant Sophie Magdalena. The language and customs of
the country were banished from the court, and a proud and haughty tone
introduced. The king rarely spoke with any of his subjects unless they
belonged to the higher nobility or were Germans. The queen had a mania
for building, and large sums were expended on costly palaces in and
about Copenhagen.

The Danish-Norwegian Church had also been affected by the pietistic
revivalism brought about in the German Protestant Church by Spener
and Francke. Christian himself was a pious man, but his religion was
mournful and morbid. He was, to a great extent, controlled by his
pietistic court-chaplain, Bluhme. A Sabbath ordinance was enacted
(1735), by which several preposterous rules about church-going were
introduced and some antiquated laws were again put in force. Neglect
of attendance at church was punished in the cities by money fines, and
in the country by being placed in the stocks, which, for that purpose,
were erected outside of every church door. Public amusements hitherto
considered harmless--dancing, games and festivities--were forbidden;
weddings and social parties were not to be held on a holiday or the
evening before. A general Church Inspection College was established in
1737, a kind of Court of Inquisition, whose duty it was to watch over
the proper performance of church services. The result of this unwise
zeal for religion was a general state of hypocrisy and intolerance.
Unscrupulous people, who feigned holiness and imitated the pietists at
court, were given offices, while those who were sincere and independent
were left out.

One of the beneficial results of the pietism which ruled during the
reign of Christian VI. was the introduction of the Confirmation in the
Lutheran faith. This was introduced upon the advice of court chaplain
Bluhme, by the ordinance of January 13, 1736; the same year in which
the second centennial of the introduction of the Reformation was
celebrated. The Confirmation led to an improved Christian education
of the people, and indirectly compelled all classes of the people to
read. Great zeal was also shown in the printing of Bibles and other
religious books, and some improvement was made in the Norwegian Church
organization by an ordinance of August 13, 1734. The Latin schools were
reorganized in 1739, the teachers being given better salaries, while
more suitable text-books were introduced.

Some efforts were also made to improve the trade, manufactures and
navigation of Norway, but these efforts were not always well directed.
The trade with Finmarken, Iceland and Greenland was leased to
companies, whose aim seemed to be the greatest possible extortion. Very
unwise and harmful to the country was the king's decree forbidding the
people of southern Norway to buy grain from any other country than
Denmark. The navy was greatly improved under the supervision of Count
Frederick Danneskiold-Samsoe, Admiral Suhm and Constructor Benstrup;
but their work took large sums of money.

Toward the close of this reign Norway suffered a great deal from hard
times and famine, in common with the greater part of Northern Europe.
During the years 1720 and 1741 there died in Norway 31,346 more persons
than were born. Many died of starvation, and, in many districts, the
people had to make meal from bark, bones and straw. A collection
amounting to about 14,000 Rigsdalers (Danish dollars) was made in
Denmark in order to help some of the most needy.

During the reign of Christian VI. lived "the father of the
Danish-Norwegian literature," the witty and very productive author,
Ludvig Holberg (born in Bergen, 1684, died 1754); also the active
and eloquent Peter Hersleb (born in Throndhjem, 1689), who from 1730
to 1737 was bishop at Akershus, and from 1737, until his death in
1757, bishop of Zealand, and who may be considered the father of the
public school system. Two Danish bishops of this time who are held
in respectful memory by the Norwegians are Erik Pontoppidan, who
was bishop in Bergen from 1747 to 1755,--author of "Explanation of
Luther's Catechism," which is still extensively used in the Norwegian
schools--and Hans Brorson (bishop in Ribe, 1694-1764), the author of
many church hymns.

Christian VI., during his reign of sixteen years, only visited
Norway once, in the summer of 1733. He died August 6, 1746, in his
forty-seventh year. In spite of the long peace, a flourishing trade,
and large subsidies from foreign powers for mercenaries, which he had
furnished from Norway and Denmark, he left a debt of over two million


_Frederick V. (1746-1766)_

When Christian VI. died, his eldest son, Frederick V., ascended
the throne. He was a man of limited intelligence, but of a kindly
disposition. By his affability and his taste for the language of the
country he stood in sharp contrast with his late father, and he and his
lovely young queen, Louisa, daughter of George II. of England, soon
won the hearts of the people. He abolished all the harsh ordinances
against amusements, the national theatre was opened again, and Ludvig
Holberg had the pleasure, in his old age, to again see his comedies
played and received with great applause. The change was at first
beneficial, especially as long as Queen Louisa lived; but, after her
death, in 1751, when her place had been taken by Juliana Marie of
Brunswick, the liberal tone at court often degenerated into giddiness
and license, and, in an attempt to imitate the French manners, a luxury
was introduced which was too expensive for the ordinary resources of
the crown.

The reign of Frederick V. was, like that of his father, peaceful,
although a war with Russia seemed very imminent, when one of the
Holstein-Gottorp princes, Charles Peter Ulrik, had ascended the throne
of Russia, under the title of Peter III., and laid claim to a part
of the duchy of Schleswig. A Russian army was sent into Mecklenburg
with orders to advance on Holstein, where an army of 70,000 Danish and
Norwegian soldiers had been drawn together. The armies lay within a few
miles of each other, when the conflict was suddenly averted by the news
that Peter III. had been deposed, and, shortly afterward, murdered by
his wife (July, 1762). The empress, Catherine II., who succeeded her
husband, had always been averse to the war, and a treaty of peace was
concluded with her, principally as the result of the able diplomacy of
the king's adviser, Count Johan Hartvig Bernstorf.

The great preparations for this threatened conflict had, however,
necessitated an increase of taxation. The so-called "extra-tax" was
felt as a great burden; every person above twelve years of age had to
pay a tax of one Rigsdaler (about fifty-five cents) per year. This
was especially felt as a burden by the common people in the districts
around Bergen, where the fisheries had been a failure, and a revolt
was the result. About 4,000 peasants armed themselves and made an
assault upon the city, maltreated the magistrates, and plundered about
8,000 Rigsdalers of the public means. Quiet was soon restored, and the
participants in the revolt were punished. A few years afterward the
"extra-tax" was abolished.

A great deal was done during this reign for the promotion of science
and art, trade, manufactures and agriculture. At Kongsberg a mineral
school was established and two hundred German experts employed as
teachers. The bishop at Throndhjem, Johan Gunnerus, Rector Gerhard
Schöning, and the Danish scholar, Peter Suhm (who had married the
daughter of a merchant at Throndhjem), established the Royal Academy
of Sciences in Throndhjem. A free school of mathematics, afterward
reorganized as the Norwegian Military Academy, was founded in

Frederick V., who shortened his life by all kinds of excesses, died in
his forty-third year, January 14, 1766. He left a public debt of about
twenty millions. By his first wife he had one son, Christian, and three
daughters; his second wife became the mother of Prince Frederick.


_Christian VII. (1766-1808)_

At the death of Frederick V., his son Christian, who was hardly
seventeen years of age, ascended the throne; and, shortly afterward,
married the fifteen year old Caroline Mathilde, a sister of the English
king, George III. Christian led a most dissipated life, eventually
resulting in insanity. In 1768 the king made a journey abroad, during
which his body physician, the German free-thinker, Johan Frederick
Struensee, became his dearest favorite, and got him completely under
his influence. Upon their return the king's old counsellors, including
the experienced and deserving Bernstorf, were discharged and replaced
by a privy council, in which the strong and ambitious Struensee soon
became the real master. By the influence which he had gained over the
debilitated, and at times insane, king, and the queen, he succeeded in
reaching the highest positions. He was made a count and prime minister
and became an almost absolute ruler, the cabinet orders being given
the force of royal commands simply by being signed by Struensee. His
power lasted only sixteen months; but during this time he introduced
many reforms, which were in themselves commendable, but, in many
cases, came too abruptly and without preparation. On account of the
violent changes, and his contempt for the Danish language and customs,
he soon had many enemies, chief among whom was the queen-dowager,
Juliana Maria, who wished to get her son, the king's half-brother,
Prince Frederick, into power. With the aid of the prince's teacher, the
learned Ove Hoeg Guldberg, she formed a conspiracy against Struensee
and obtained the signature of the insane king to an order for his
arrest, together with that of others. On the night of January 17,
1772, after a ball at the palace, Queen Caroline Mathilde, Struensee,
Count Brandt, and others, were arrested. The queen was imprisoned
at Kronborg, and afterward at Celle, Hanover, where she died in her
twenty-fourth year (1775). The others were accused of high treason and
condemned to death. Struensee was cruelly executed, April 28, 1772.

During the following twelve years (1772-1784) Prince Frederick's
teacher, Ove Guldberg, virtually conducted the government, and this
period has therefore been called the Guldberg period. A great many of
Struensee's reforms were revoked, and former rules were re-established.
The liberty of the press, which Struensee had granted, was curtailed
and a censorship again introduced. The plan of establishing a
university in Norway, which had been promised, was given up. Everything
was now to be "Danish," even Norway. Guldberg even wished to abolish
the very name of Norwegian, and wrote: "No Norwegian exists; all are
citizens of the Danish state."

Many of the strong men, whom Struensee had made use of, were removed,
and mediocrity was again raised to dignity. In spite of the large
revenues which flowed into the treasury during the flourishing
commercial period, the public debt, which had been reduced to sixteen
millions, rose to twenty-nine millions. Still, there are some things to
the credit of the Guldberg ministry. Thus the foreign minister, Andreas
Bernstorf, by his negotiations, succeeded in removing any cause for
conflict with the powerful Russia, when the Russian grand-duke, Paul,
relinquished his part of Holstein to the king of Denmark, in return for
Oldenborg and Delmenhorst. On February 15, 1776, the so-called _native
right_ was published, an ordinance providing that hereafter only native
citizens could be appointed to office under the government. Finally, it
was ordained that the Danish language should be used both in the army
and as a business language.

During the long period of peace (since 1720) Norway had made great
progress in commerce, shipping and population. The population, which,
in 1660, was only 450,000, had reached about 723,000 in 1767, and the
merchant marine had grown from fifty to 1,150 ships, many of them large
and engaged in trade with distant countries. The peasant class had
advanced considerably, as a consequence of the sale of the estates of
the crown in order to raise revenue; the number of freeholders was now
nearly double that of the tenant farmers. The officials sent their sons
to be educated at the University of Copenhagen, so that the country
was gradually furnished with a native class of officials, who could
replace the Danish and advocate the cause of their countrymen.

In 1784 Crown Prince Frederick was confirmed, and immediately took
charge of the government as regent for his insane father. He had the
sense to surround himself with able counsellors, and the foremost among
them was Andreas Bernstorf, a nephew of the elder Bernstorf. While he
was at the head of the government (1784-1797), the united countries had
happy and prosperous days. He succeeded in maintaining an honorable
neutrality, while the French Revolution, which commenced in 1789,
shook Europe and involved nearly all the countries of Europe in war.
Much was done for Norway during this period. The trade of Finmarken
was made free, and the cities of Tromsoe, Hammerfest and Vardoe
were founded. In order to expedite judicial matters four superior
courts were established, and, in order to avoid litigation as much as
possible, courts of conciliation were introduced in all parts of the

During Bernstorf's administration, Norway was involved in a short war
with Sweden, the Swedish king, Gustavus III., having attacked Russia,
whereupon the Russian empress, Catherine II., demanded, according to
agreement, an attack upon Sweden by Denmark. A Norwegian army of 10,000
men, under Prince Charles of Hesse, invaded Sweden in the fall of 1788,
and, after some successful encounters, marched against Gothenburg;
but an armistice was concluded, which was changed into a convention,
November 5th, the Norwegians agreeing to retire from Sweden.

England continued the war with France with great vigor, and, in order
to weaken the enemy as much as possible, raised the point with neutral
powers that meat, flour and grain must be considered as contraband
of war, and should not, therefore, be shipped to France or any other
enemy of England. In order to protect their commerce, Denmark-Norway
then, in 1800, together with Russia and Sweden, renewed the so-called
"Armed Neutrality," which, through the untiring efforts of Andreas
Bernstorf, had been agreed upon in 1780, based upon the principle that
"free ship carries free cargo." After an unsuccessful attempt, through
negotiations, to persuade Denmark to withdraw from this alliance,
England declared war against her, and sent a fleet, under the command
of Admirals Parker and Nelson, to Oere Sound. On April 2, 1801, a
battle was fought in the roadstead of Copenhagen. Although the Danish
and Norwegian sailors defended themselves with great bravery, they
finally had to yield to superior force. An armistice was concluded,
which, at the death of the Russian emperor, Paul, ended with a peace,
by which Denmark consented to withdraw from the Armed Neutrality.

The country now enjoyed peace until 1807, when a new war with England
broke out. At the peace of Tilsit, July 7, 1807, Emperor Napoleon and
Alexander I. of Russia made certain arrangements of European affairs
with a view to helping Napoleon in his conflict with England. Russia
was to be allowed to conquer Finland from Sweden, and Napoleon was
to take possession of the Danish fleet, by means of which he might
dispute the dominion of England at sea. Although this agreement was to
be kept strictly secret, the English government, in some way, heard
of it, and decided to anticipate the action of Napoleon. A strong
fleet was sent to Copenhagen, where the British commanders demanded
that Denmark should surrender its fleet to England, where it was to
remain until peace was concluded between England and France. The demand
was answered by the Danish minister, who protested that there was no
cause for it, since Denmark had no idea of letting Napoleon have the
fleet. The British, however, would not listen to any assurances of
Denmark's peaceful attitude. An army of about 38,000 men was landed
and defeated the Danish force outside of Copenhagen, which, all told,
hardly amounted to 10,000 men. Thereafter preparations were made for
bombarding the city. The bombardment commenced on September 2d and
lasted for three days. During this bombardment the cathedral and three
hundred and five other buildings were burned, and 1,200 buildings were,
more or less, damaged. Valuable libraries, and collections of art
and other valuable property, were destroyed by fire, 1,100 soldiers
and citizens were killed and eight hundred wounded. The Danes had
to surrender their whole fleet, which was then brought to England.
The English government now gave Denmark the choice between three
conditions: neutrality, an alliance, or war. In case of war Denmark
was threatened with destruction of the Danish and Norwegian merchant
marine, the occupation of Copenhagen by the Swedes, and, possibly,
the forcible transfer of Norway to England's ally, Sweden. Crown
Prince Frederick answered that, after what had taken place, peace was
impossible, and so the war was continued, Denmark entering into a close
alliance with France.

When it became difficult to maintain communication between Norway
and Denmark, the Danish government, in August, 1807, established a
"Government Commission" for Norway, consisting of Prince Christian
August of Augustenborg as chairman, "Stiftamtmand" Gerhard Moltke,
Justice Enevold Falsen, and Chamberlain Marcus Rosenkrantz. Prince
Christian August was commander of the troops in the southern part of
Norway, having been appointed as such in 1805. He was greatly beloved
by the Norwegians. After having performed its arduous duties for three
months, the commission lost its ablest member, Enevold Falsen, whose
body was found in the bay, November 17, 1807. His health had been
greatly impaired, and he had probably been driven to suicide by his
sufferings. While performing his duties on the Government Commission,
he also edited the journal "Budstikken," in which he did much to
arouse and maintain the courage and perseverance of the people. He was
succeeded, in January, 1808, by Count Herman Wedel Jarlsberg, who had
gained the high respect of his countrymen by the zeal and vigor which
he had shown in his efforts to provide the famine-threatened country
with the necessary grain by importation from Denmark, which numerous
British cruisers tried to prevent.


_Frederick VI. (1808-1814)_

When, on the death of his insane father, Frederick VI. changed his
title of regent to that of king of Denmark, his domains were in a
sad condition. They were at war with England, but had no fleet.
The finances were in great disorder, which became still worse when
the Danish government tried to improve the situation by issuing a
large amount of paper currency. The English men-of-war blocked the
navigation, and hundreds of Danish and Norwegian trading-ships,
together with their cargoes, were seized by the enemy. In Norway, all
industries were paralyzed, there had been failures of crops, and there
was a great deal of want and suffering. When the Danish government,
as the ally of France and Russia, also declared war on Sweden, the
situation was most desperate. The Government Commission was daily
begged, by petition, to open the public grain magazines to relieve the
distress of the people, and it taxed their judgment and firmness to the
utmost to control the situation and distribute aid where the need was
most pressing. In this condition Norway was attacked, in April, 1808,
by a large Swedish army under the command of General Armfeldt, and
threatened by a British army and fleet, which lay at Gothenburg. In the
hour of distress and danger, however, the Norwegians had awakened to a
consciousness of the fact that they had only themselves to rely upon,
and, during their struggles, they showed a patriotism which shunned
no sacrifice. Men like Marcus Rosenkrantz, Peter Anker, Herman Wedel,
Jacob Aall, Severin Lövenskiold, Thygesen, John Collett, Ludvig Maribo,
and many other patriots, offered their time, energy, and fortunes to
the service of the country, and the popular commander, Prince Christian
August, was strengthened and aided by a strong national spirit among
all classes, when he made his preparations to meet the enemy.

General Armfeldt, on April 17, 1808, advanced toward the fortress of
Kongsvinger, and a battle was fought at Lier, near that place. The
Swedes were at first repulsed, but later received reinforcements and
compelled the Norwegians to retreat across the Glommen River. It is
said that some of the Norwegian troops had to cease firing, during the
battle, for want of ammunition. About the same time a Swedish force
captured the Blaker Redoubt, about twenty-five miles to the southwest
of Kongsvinger, but this position they soon afterward abandoned, upon
hearing of the approach of a Norwegian force which had been hurriedly
despatched against them by Christian August. The Norwegians proceeded
beyond Blaker, and at Toverud (in Urskog Parish, Romerike) surrounded,
and, after a sharp fight, captured a Swedish force under Count Axel
Mörner. On April 24th a Swedish force, under Colonel Gahn, crossed
the frontier and marched along the left bank of the Flisen River, a
tributary of the Glommen. Near Trangen, in Aasnes Parish, Soloer,
they were attacked by the Norwegians, and, after a fight of three
hours and a half, the Swedes surrendered, having suffered a loss of
two hundred killed and wounded. About three hundred and thirty men,
including Colonel Gahn, were taken prisoners. The Norwegians were also
successful in a battle fought on June 10th at Prestebakke in Enningdal,
in the southern part of Smaalenene, near Svinesund. The attack was
made early in the morning, and, after a desperate fight, the Swedes
were forced to surrender; four hundred and forty-five men, including
twenty-seven officers, being taken prisoners. A large amount of arms
and ammunition was also taken. A few days later the Swedish force which
was commanded by General Armfeldt's aide-de-camp, George Adlersparre,
received large reinforcements and recaptured the lost positions in
Enningdal; but, shortly afterward, the Swedish troops again retreated,
the Swedish government desiring to give more attention to the war in
Finland. Negotiations were now opened for an armistice. King Frederick
VI. several times requested Christian August to invade Sweden with
his army; but the prince, as well as his tried advisers, considered
an invasion very unwise, the army being destitute of all necessary
supplies. An armistice was finally entered into on December 7, 1808. A
definite peace was not concluded till a year later.

Great changes took place in Sweden during the following year. King
Gustavus IV. Adolphus had shown great incompetence in the management
of the affairs of Sweden, and after the reverses in Finland, resulting
in the loss of this province, the feeling against the king became very
strong. Early in 1809 rumors began to circulate of the renewal of an
old project, by which Napoleon and Alexander I. had agreed to divide
Sweden between Denmark and Russia, and great excitement was created
among the leading men in Sweden. A conspiracy was formed by a number
of influential men, including George Adlersparre, who marched with
his army toward Stockholm. On March 13, 1809, the king was arrested
and brought to the castle of Drotningholm, and a few days later to
Gripsholm Castle, where finally he was induced to write and sign an
unconditional abdication. He was later transported to Pomerania, and
from there proceeded to Switzerland. When King Gustavus had abdicated,
his aged uncle, Charles, duke of Södermanland, was prevailed upon to
take charge of the government as regent. The Swedish Diet, which met
in May, 1809, confirmed the deposition of King Gustavus and elected
Charles king under the title of Charles XIII. The newly-elected king
being old and childless, a successor to the throne also had to be
chosen, and the choice fell upon the general-in-chief of the Norwegian
army, Prince Christian August, whom the Swedes also had learned to
respect during the war, and whose election, it was supposed by many,
would eventually result in uniting Norway with Sweden. After peace had
been concluded between Denmark and Sweden, at Jönköping, December 10,
1809, Prince Christian August accepted the election as Crown Prince of
Sweden, his name being changed to Charles (or Carl) August. No royal or
princely person had ever, to such a degree, won the affection of the
Norwegians. He left Norway for Sweden January 4, 1810, accompanied by
the blessings and well-wishes of the whole people. Only a few months
later, May 28, 1810, he suddenly died during a military review.

Shortly before the prince's departure from Norway, and at the
suggestion of Count Wedel and other patriotic men, a society was
founded in Christiania under the name of the Society for Norway's
Welfare, which did much to encourage the feeling of independence and
the national spirit in the country and to advocate the wishes of the
people. Thus the long-felt want of a national university was strongly
set forth by Count Wedel. The government having pointed to the lack of
money, such an amount was collected by voluntary subscriptions from
the whole country, especially the cities, that King Frederick at last
yielded, and, by royal decree, the Norwegian University was established
September 2, 1811, and given the name of the king. This event was
celebrated with great joy by the Norwegian people by a national
festival, December 11, 1811.

The condition of the country, however, became very serious during
the next year. Failure of the crops caused a famine, and the use of
bark-bread became quite general throughout the country. The paper
currency became more and more depreciated, and the government was
finally obliged to partially default payment. The British continued to
prevent all importation, and the distress was increased by the breaking
out of a new war between Denmark and Sweden.

During the distressing years of war, when a foreign fleet intercepted
the communication with Denmark, many Norwegians had become convinced
that the union with Denmark was a very unnatural one. Many able and
patriotic men believed that a union or a strong defensive alliance with
Sweden would be much more advantageous to the country, and no doubt
many considered such a union among the future probabilities, when the
beloved Prince Christian August was elected Crown Prince of Sweden.
The sorrow that was felt in Norway at the sudden death of Christian
August was universal. A rumor, probably unfounded, that he had been
poisoned by some of his opponents in Sweden, was, for a time at least,
generally believed in Norway, and extinguished, for the time being,
any desire that may have existed in Norway for a union of the two
countries. In Sweden, however, the plan grew in strength, especially
after the election of the new Crown Prince.


_Marshal Bernadotte_

The election of a new successor to the Swedish throne was no easy
problem. Under the conditions prevailing in Europe it was thought
necessary to make a choice that would be approved by Napoleon, and it
had even been suggested that it might be necessary to elect one of
Napoleon's marshals. Among the different candidates considered, the
most popular one was the Duke of Augustenborg, an elder brother of
Prince Christian August. His election was opposed by King Frederick VI.
of Denmark, who hoped to be chosen himself, and held out as inducement
a promise to give each of the three countries a constitution. King
Frederick at first had the support of quite a party in the Swedish
Diet; but his opponents strongly argued that to make the Danish king
successor to the Swedish throne would eventually result in Sweden
becoming a province of Denmark, and the Duke of Augustenborg, who was
supported by King Charles XIII., was the choice of a majority in the
Swedish Diet. A messenger, Baron Mörner, was sent to Paris to ascertain
whether such an election would have the approval of Napoleon; but upon
arriving in Paris he was told that, according to the latest reports,
the election of the Danish king was being seriously considered, and
believing that this would be a great misfortune, the baron took upon
himself to open negotiations with one of Napoleon's marshals, Jean
Baptiste Bernadotte, Prince of Pontecorvo, and requested him to
become a candidate for the Swedish succession. After a conference
with Napoleon and a consultation with the Swedish minister in Paris,
Bernadotte declared himself willing to accept the election, if it were
offered to him.

When Baron Mörner returned to Sweden and reported the result of his
unauthorized step, he caused great surprise, and the king ordered
his arrest; but, on second thought, the plan to elect Bernadotte was
generally favorably considered by leading men in Sweden. Count Platen
had a consultation with his Norwegian friend, Count Wedel, and the
latter, who had made the personal acquaintance of Bernadotte, advised
the Swedes to elect him in preference to the Duke of Augustenborg.
The result was that in August, 1810, the Swedish Diet, with practical
unanimity, elected Bernadotte Crown Prince of Sweden, and King Charles
XIII. adopted him as his son, under the name of Charles John (Carl
Johan). When, in September, 1810, Bernadotte was about to leave Paris
for Sweden, and Napoleon asked him to promise never to wage war on
France, he declined to bind himself by such a promise, but assured the
emperor of his sincere friendship. "Go, then," said Napoleon, "and let
us fulfil our several destinies."

Crown Prince Charles John, on his arrival in Sweden, immediately
assumed the chief control of the government, and set about the very
difficult task of raising the country from the wretched and defenceless
condition into which it had fallen. Sweden was at the time practically
at the mercy of the great Powers. Napoleon forced Sweden to declare
war on England, and when, a year later, he found that this war was
not carried on with satisfactory vigor, he sent an army into Swedish
Pomerania, which he occupied, while two Swedish regiments were sent as
prisoners to France (January, 1812). This caused Charles John to look
around for other alliances, which would be of greater benefit to his
adopted country. He once more offered Napoleon the faithful services of
Sweden, on condition that Sweden was to receive Norway in compensation;
but Napoleon would not listen to any proposition to take anything from
his faithful ally, Denmark.

Charles John immediately opened negotiations with Russia, and the
result was a secret treaty, concluded at St. Petersburg, April 18,
1812, by which Russia promised to help Sweden, by negotiations or force
of arms, to acquire Norway, and Russia was guaranteed the possession of
Finland, while Charles John was to take an active part in the military
operations in Germany against Napoleon. This agreement was confirmed
at a personal meeting between the Russian emperor Alexander and Crown
Prince Charles John at Åbo, Finland, August 27, 1812. The stipulation
that Norway was to be united with Sweden was afterward also agreed to
by the other Powers at war with France. Charles John took an active
part in the great campaign against Napoleon in Germany. After the
complete defeat of Napoleon's army at Leipsic, October 16-19, 1813,
Charles John marched with an army of 40,000 men into Holstein in order
to compel Denmark to cede Norway. The Danish-Norwegian army in Holstein
and Schleswig made a brave defence; but the resistance against the
overwhelming force of the enemy could not last long, and Frederick VI.
was compelled to conclude peace at Kiel, January 14, 1814, where Norway
was ceded to Sweden. The Norwegian dependencies, Iceland, the Faroe
Islands, and Greenland, were not included in the cession. Four days
later King Frederick VI., for himself and his successors, relinquished
all his rights to the kingdom of Norway to the Swedish king, Charles
XIII., and his successors. In his proclamation to the Norwegians, King
Frederick released them from their oath of allegiance, and requested
them to peaceably and quietly transfer their allegiance to the Swedish

Thus ended the union between Denmark and Norway, which had lasted for
more than four hundred years.


_Norway Declares Her Independence_

Prince Christian Frederick, a cousin of King Frederick VI. and heir
presumptive to the Danish-Norwegian throne, had, in May, 1813, been
sent up to Norway as viceroy (_Statholder_), and had become very
popular with the Norwegians. When, on January 24, 1814, he received
the message from the king, informing him of the treaty of Kiel and
commanding him to transfer the forts and the public offices to the
Swedes and return to Denmark, Christian Frederick became highly
indignant and resolved not to obey the commands. In his diary the
prince wrote:

"That the king could believe that the Norwegian people will voluntarily
surrender, and that he could believe me base enough to desert them
now--indeed, I do not understand it. People would be justified in
throwing stones after me, if ever I were able to deceive a nation which
loves me and places its trust in me. I should leave it now without so
much as trying to defend it--never in the world, while I live!"

On a journey, which the prince made north to Throndhjem, he found
that the people all wished to defend the independence of Norway, and
on the 16th and 17th of February he held a conference with notables
at Eidsvold in order to discuss the needs of the hour. It was at
first the idea of the prince that, since the king had relinquished
the throne, he, as the legal heir, might ascend the throne of Norway
as absolute monarch; but the members of the meeting at Eidsvold,
especially Professor George Sverdrup, convinced him that, as King
Frederick, contrary to law, had relinquished Norway, the sovereignty
had now reverted to the Norwegian people, who thus recovered their
natural right to adopt their own constitution and choose their
executive. According to his diary the prince said at the meeting:
"I have heard with great pleasure a speech made to me at a private
audience by Professor Sverdrup, in which he conjured me not to place
the crown on my head in a manner which was contrary to the views of the
most enlightened men of the nation. The rights which Frederick VI. has
relinquished revert to the people, and it is from their hands that you
must receive a crown which will be far more glorious when you owe it to
the love of the people." The result was that Christian Frederick took
temporary charge of the government as regent, and issued a call for a
constitutional convention or diet, consisting of representatives of the
people from all parts of the country.

In all his efforts, by the aid of the great Powers and by force of arms
against Denmark, to secure Norway for the king of Sweden, Charles John
had never taken the will or desire of the Norwegians themselves into
consideration. While Count Wedel, who considered a union with Sweden
desirable or necessary, had emphatically declared that Norway would
never consent to a union attempted by force, Crown Prince Charles John
said that a people which for centuries had tolerated the supremacy of
a foreign power without a murmur would not seriously resist a change
of masters. The Swedish king issued a proclamation to the Norwegians,
in which he promised to give them a constitution, and he appointed a
viceroy for Norway; but his offers were rejected. The Swedish army
being occupied in Germany, with the war against Napoleon, there was
no force available with which to enforce the Swedish demands, and
this gave the Norwegians time to arrange their own affairs; but there
was considerable suffering in the country, because the British, upon
learning that the Norwegians would not accept the treaty of Kiel, sent
their fleet to prevent the importation of grain to Norway.

The diet, which met at Eidsvold, April 10, 1814, consisted of one
hundred and twelve representatives. There were thirty-three army
officers, fourteen clergymen, twenty-six other officials, twenty-three
farmers, twelve merchants, and four mine-owners and landed proprietors.
There were two parties in the convention. The most numerous one was the
so-called "party of independence," whose principal leaders were Judge
Christian Magnus Falsen, Professor George Sverdrup, Judge Christie,
and Captain Motzfeldt. The other party, which numbered about thirty
members, favored a union with Sweden, and was called the Swedish party,
although hardly any of them advocated their policy from any love for
the Swedes, but rather from what they considered a necessity, believing
that Norway would not, under the circumstances, be able single-handed
to maintain her independence. The prominent men of this party were
Count Wedel-Jarlsberg, Chamberlain Peter Anker, Mine-owner Jacob Aall,
_Amtmand_ (prefect) Lövenskiold, and the Reverend Nicolai Wergeland.
But all members agreed in the demand that Norway must henceforth
have a liberal constitution. The following were agreed upon as the
fundamental principles of the constitution:

1. Norway shall be a limited, hereditary monarchy; it shall be a free,
independent and indivisible kingdom, and the ruler shall have the title
of king.

2. The people shall exercise the legislative power through their

3. The people shall alone have the right to levy taxes through their

4. The right to declare war and to make peace rests with the king.

5. The king shall have the right of pardon.

6. The judicial power shall be separate from the legislative and
executive power.

7. There shall be liberty of the press.

8. The evangelical Lutheran religion shall remain the religion of the
state and of the king.

9. Personal or mixed hereditary privileges shall not be granted to
anybody in the future.

10. All citizens, irrespective of station, birth, or property, shall be
required to render military service for a certain length of time.

Upon the basis of these principles the constitution was drawn and
finally adopted on the 17th day of May, 1814. On the same day Christian
Frederick was elected king of Norway. He accepted the election and
solemnly made oath to the constitution, May 19, whereupon the members
of the diet swore allegiance to the constitution and to the new king.
They held their last meeting on May 20, in order to sign the record of
the proceedings. That done, they formed a circular chain, each person
giving his right hand to his neighbor on the left, and his left hand to
his neighbor on the right, and standing thus, hand in hand, they all
exclaimed in chorus: "United and true, until Dovre (mountain) falls!"


_War With Sweden--Union of November 4, 1814_

After the final defeat of Napoleon, the allied powers, Russia, Prussia,
Austria, and England, granted the request of Charles John and promised
to urge Norway to accept the supremacy of Sweden. The special envoys
of the powers arrived in Christiania, June 30, 1814, bringing with
them, besides their instructions from their respective governments, a
letter from the Danish king to Christian Frederick, in which the latter
was again commanded, under pain of being disinherited and otherwise
punished, to abdicate and return to Denmark. The day after their
arrival the commissioners had an audience with King Christian Frederick
and acquainted him with the intention of the powers to demand the
acceptance of the provisions in the treaty of Kiel. The king declared
himself willing to convene the Storthing (Parliament) in extra session,
in order to open negotiations for a peaceable union, if, in the
meantime, the powers would guarantee an armistice and allow the free
importation of breadstuffs; but when the commissioners demanded that
the Norwegians should surrender to the mercy of the Swedish king, and
allow the forts to be occupied by Swedish soldiers, the king declined
to accept their propositions, and war commenced. The Norwegian army,
which stood along the frontier, was poorly equipped and ill-provided
with clothing and provisions. The king himself was no great soldier,
and the information that all the foreign powers were against Norway
had considerably lessened his courage. The Swedish fleet, under the
personal command of Charles XIII., took up a position outside of
Fredericksstad, which was insufficiently defended and was compelled
to surrender, August 4. About the same time, the main Swedish army,
under Charles John, crossed the frontier south of Frederickshald. One
division of it laid siege to the fortress of Frederickssteen, which
was bravely defended by General Ohme. The Norwegian army was eager
for a general action; but the king, who thought this would be unwise,
ordered a retreat across the Glommen River. North in Soloer, where
Lieutenant-Colonel Krebs had the command, the Norwegian forces were
much more successful. A Swedish force, under General Gahn, crossed the
frontier and marched in the direction of Kongsvinger, but was defeated
by the Norwegians at Lier, August 2. The Norwegians, under Col. Krebs,
afterward attacked the Swedes at Matrand and drove them back across the
frontier, August 5. The battle at Matrand was the most bloody encounter
during this war. General Gahn's loss, in killed, wounded, or captured,
was sixteen officers, seven non-commissioned officers and three hundred
and twelve men. The Norwegian loss, in killed, wounded or captured,
was five officers, four non-commissioned officers and one hundred and
thirty men. The number of dead was about equal on both sides, about
fifty men; of the wounded there was sixty-four on the Norwegian, and
one hundred and twenty-six on the Swedish side.

On August 5, Charles John took steps to communicate with the
Norwegians with a view to the arrangement of an armistice, offering
to recognize the Norwegian Constitution of May 17, if Norway would
agree to a union with Sweden. The result at these negotiations was the
Convention signed at Moss, August 14, by which Christian Frederick
promised to call an extra session at the Storthing to negotiate with
the Swedish king through commissioners appointed by him; he also
solemnly agreed to surrender the executive power intrusted to him into
the hands of the nation; in the meantime the country east of the river
Glommen and the fortress of Frederickssteen were to be occupied by
Swedish troops. According to a secret agreement Christian Frederick
was, under some pretext, to immediately transfer the executive power
to the ministers, who were to conduct the necessary functions of the
government until the Storthing had definitely decided upon the future
form of government. This ended the war, which had not been a very
bloody one. The loss, in killed, wounded, and captured, was about equal
on both sides; namely, about four hundred dead and wounded and three
hundred prisoners.

On the 16th day of August Christian Frederick issued a proclamation
ordering elections to an extraordinary Storthing to be opened at
Christiania, October 7, and on August 19 he ordered the cabinet to
take charge of the executive power, signing all executive acts "by
high command." The Storthing met at the time designated, the number of
representatives being eighty, of whom about twenty had been members of
the diet at Eidsvold. The Storthing was solemnly opened by the oldest
minister in the name of King Christian Frederick. Two days later a
committee of the Storthing, at the request of the king, had an audience
with him at his residence on Bygdö, when he surrendered the Norwegian
crown into the hands of the people, and for himself and his descendants
relinquished all rights to the country. On the same day he went on
board a ship and sailed from Norway.[14] The Storthing now, under the
presidency of Judge Christie, began negotiations with the commissioners
of the Swedish king, and on the 20th day of October it was decided,
by seventy-two votes in the affirmative to five in the negative, that
Norway as an independent state, upon certain conditions, was to be
united with Sweden under the same king. The changes in the Constitution
made necessary by reason of the union with Sweden were then made and
finally ratified, November 4, 1814, and, on the same day, Charles XIII.
was unanimously elected king of Norway.

[14] During the next twenty-five years Christian Frederick led an
unnoticed life in Denmark and was soon forgotten by the Norwegian
people. In 1839 he ascended the Danish throne as Christian VIII. He
died in 1848.

A committee of the Storthing, headed by Count Wedel-Jarlsberg, was sent
to Crown Prince Charles John at Frederickshald, to inform him of the
action of the Storthing; whereupon Charles John and his son, Prince
Oscar, proceeded to Christiania and delivered to the Storthing the
king's written oath to the Constitution. As soon as the report of the
action of the Norwegian Storthing had reached Stockholm, the Swedish
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lars von Engeström, despatched a circular
to each of the Swedish representatives at the foreign courts, informing
them of the union of Norway and Sweden. In this circular the minister

"The Norwegian Storthing having, of its own accord and by a free
election, chosen his Swedish majesty as king of Norway, it is plain
that it is not to the provisions of the treaty of Kiel, but to the
confidence of the Norwegian people, that we owe the Union of Norway
with Sweden."


_The Union With Sweden_

The first Storthing (Parliament), after the union had been
accomplished, remained in session a year, and together with the Swedish
Diet adopted the "Act of Union," or Rigsakt (1815), based upon the
Norwegian Constitution and defining the terms of the union. At the
same time the Supreme Court of Norway was established in Christiania.
The Bank of Norway was established at Throndhjem in 1816. At the death
of Charles XIII., in 1818, Charles John ascended the throne of both
countries as Charles XIV. John.

On several occasions there was friction between the king and the
Norwegian Storthing. At the treaty of Kiel, Charles John had promised
that Norway would assume a part of the Norwegian-Danish public debt;
but as the Norwegians had never acknowledged this treaty, they held
that it was not their duty to pay any part of the debt, and declared
besides that Norway was not able to do so. But as the powers had agreed
to help Denmark to enforce her claims, a compromise was effected in
1821, by which the Storthing agreed to pay three million dollars, the
king relinquishing his civil list for a certain number of years. The
same Storthing adopted the law abolishing the nobility in Norway. This
step was also strongly opposed by Charles John, but as it had been
adopted by three successive Storthings, the act under the Constitution
became a law in spite of any veto. It was believed by many that the
manoeuvres of Norwegian and Swedish troops and the Swedish fleet,
which was collected at Christiania at the time that these matters were
under consideration, had been called together by the king in order to
intimidate the Storthing.

For a number of years there existed a want of confidence between the
king and the Norwegian people. The king did not like the democratic
spirit of the Norwegians, and the reactionary tendencies of his
European allies had quite an influence upon his actions. In 1821 he
proposed ten amendments to the Constitution, looking to an increase
of the royal power, among which was one giving the king an absolute
instead of a suspensive veto; another giving him the right to appoint
the presidents of the Storthing, and a third authorizing him to
dissolve the Storthing at any time. But these amendments met the
most ardent opposition in the Storthing, especially from the former
cabinet-minister, Christian Krogh, and were unanimously rejected by the
Storthing in 1824. The king renewed these propositions before several
successive Storthings, but they were each time rejected.

When the Norwegians commenced to celebrate the anniversary of the
adoption of the Constitution (May 17), the king thought he saw in this
a sign of a disloyal spirit, because they did not rather celebrate the
union with Sweden, and he forbade the public celebration of the day.
The result of this was that "Independence Day" was celebrated with so
much greater eagerness. The students at the university especially took
an active part under the leadership of that champion of liberty, the
poet Henrik Wergeland (born 1808, died 1845). The unwise prohibition
was the cause of the "market-place battle" in Christiania, May 17,
1829, when the troops were called out, and General Wedel dispersed
the crowds that had assembled in the market-place. There was also
dissatisfaction in Norway, because a Swedish viceroy (Statholder) was
placed at the head of the government, and because their ships had to
sail under the Swedish flag.

The French July Revolution of 1830, which started the liberal movement
throughout Europe, also had its influence in Norway. Liberal newspapers
were established at the capital, and the democratic character of the
Storthing became more pronounced, especially after 1833, when the
farmers commenced to take an active part in the elections. Prominent
among them was Ole Gabriel Ueland. The king was so displeased with
the majority in the Storthing of 1836 that he suddenly dissolved it;
but the Storthing answered this action by impeaching the Minister of
State, Lövenskiold, for not having dissuaded the king from taking such
a step. Lövenskiold was sentenced to pay a fine. The king then yielded
and reconvened the Storthing. He also took a step toward conciliating
the Norwegians by appointing their countryman, Count Wedel-Jarlsberg,
as viceroy. This action was much appreciated in Norway. During the last
years of this reign there existed the best of understanding between
the king and the people. Charles John's great benevolence tended to
increase the affection of the people, and he was sincerely mourned at
his death, March 8, 1844, Charles XIV. John being then eighty years old.

Charles John was succeeded by his son, Oscar I., who very soon won
the love of the Norwegians. One of his first acts was to give Norway
her own commercial flag and other outward signs of her equality
with Sweden. His father had always signed himself "King of Sweden
and Norway"; but King Oscar adopted the rule to sign all documents
pertaining to the government of Norway as "King of Norway and Sweden."
During the war between Germany and Denmark, King Oscar gathered a
Swedish-Norwegian army in Scania, and he succeeded in arranging the
armistice of Malmoe in 1848. The war broke out anew, however, the
following year, and he then occupied northern Schleswig with Norwegian
and Swedish troops, pending the negotiations for peace between Germany
and Denmark. During the Crimean War, King Oscar made a treaty with
England and France (1855), by which the latter powers promised to
help Sweden and Norway in case of any attack from Russia. General
contentment prevailed during the happy reign of King Oscar, and the
prosperity, commerce and population of the country increased steadily.
These satisfactory conditions did not, however, result in any weakening
of the national feeling, and the Storthing, in 1857, declined to
promote a plan, prepared by a joint Swedish and Norwegian commission,
looking to a strengthening of the union. After a sickness of two years,
during which his eldest son, Crown Prince Charles, had charge of the
government as prince-regent, King Oscar I. died in July, 1859, at
the age of sixty years. He was married to Josephine of Leuchtenberg,
daughter of Napoleon's stepson, Engene Beauharnais.

Charles XV. was thirty-three years old when he ascended the throne. The
progress in the material welfare of the country was continued during
his reign, and, like his father, he was very popular. Numerous roads
and railways were started, all parts of the country were connected by
telegraph, and the merchant marine grew to be one of the largest in the
world. In 1869 a law was passed providing for annual sessions of the
Storthing instead of triennial as heretofore.

The first Storthing under Charles XV., with only two negative votes,
resolved to abolish the right of the king to appoint a viceroy
(Statholder) for Norway. This action of the Storthing enraged the
ruling party in the Swedish Diet, who claimed a right to be consulted
in this matter, in which they considered that Sweden had an interest,
and they demanded a revision of the terms of the union. A serious
conflict was avoided for the time being, the king vetoing the
resolution of the Storthing. Not till 1865 were negotiations opened for
a revision. A joint committee was appointed to prepare a plan; but the
question was not solved, for the Storthing, in 1870, rejected the plan
proposed by the committee.

Charles XV. died September 18, 1872, and, having no sons, was succeeded
by his younger brother, Oscar II. The king and the Storthing at first
showed themselves mutually accommodating. The Storthing appropriated
the necessary funds for the expense of the coronation at Throndhjem
(July 18, 1873), while the king sanctioned the bill abolishing the
office of Statholder. But in 1880 the difference between the Storthing
and the ministry had brought on a sharp conflict. The liberal majority
of the Storthing, in order to introduce parliamentarism, had three
times adopted an amendment to the Constitution admitting the cabinet
ministers to participation in the debates of the Storthing, and each
time the measure had been vetoed by the king. The king, supported by
the conservative party and by the opinion of the faculty of law of
the university, claimed that the Constitution was a contract between
the people and the royal house, and could not, therefore, be changed
without the sanction of the king, who thus had an absolute veto in the
matter of amendments to the Constitution. The liberal party claimed
that in constitutional amendments, as well as in the matter of ordinary
laws, the king had only a suspensive veto; and on the 9th of June,
1880, the Storthing adopted a resolution declaring that the amendment
providing for the attendance of the cabinet ministers at the meetings
of the Storthing was law in spite of the veto. The conflict steadily
grew sharper, and in 1883 the members of the ministry (headed by
Minister of State Selmer) were impeached for failure to promulgate
the resolution of June 9, 1880. The ministers were found guilty and
removed from office in the spring of 1884. The king once more tried a
ministry which was not in accord with the majority of the Storthing,
the so-called April Ministry, headed by Schweigaard; but the latter
soon resigned, and in June, 1884, the king finally called upon Johan
Sverdrup, the acknowledged leader of the liberal majority (the Left),
to form a ministry.

The king now signed the constitutional amendment, and Sverdrup and
his colleagues took their seats in the Storthing. For a time the
legislative and the executive power worked in harmony, and several
liberal reforms were introduced. A reorganization of the army in
accordance with the views of the majority was brought about, the
suffrage was extended, and trial by jury was introduced. In 1887,
however, when the government introduced a bill for a new church-law, a
division in the party of the left had taken place, and Sverdrup found
himself without a majority in the Storthing. He retained office
until after the elections of 1888, which resulted in three legislative
parties, the "Left," the "Moderate," and the Conservative, or "Right."
Neither of them had a majority in the Storthing. Sverdrup resigned
(July, 1889), and the Conservative leader, Emil Stang, formed a new
ministry. At the elections in 1891, the "pure left," having made a
separate consular service independent of Sweden the main issue of the
campaign, again obtained a majority, and their leader, Rector Steen,
became the chief of the new ministry. The principal occasion of this
movement was the rapid increase in Norwegian commercial interests,
which, as was claimed, were imperfectly protected by a joint consular

The Steen Ministry resigned in May, 1893, and a ministry from the
minority was formed by Stang. On June 7, 1895, the Storthing adopted a
resolution declaring that, with a ministry possessing the confidence
of the Storthing, it would be willing to negotiate with Sweden for a
peaceable settlement of the matters in dispute. A coalition ministry,
consisting of members from each of the three political groups and
headed by Hagerup, was appointed in October, 1895, and a joint Swedish
and Norwegian Union Committee was chosen to adjust disputed points.
This committee, having failed to reach any agreement, was discharged in

At the elections of 1897 the left obtained an increased majority in
the Storthing, and, in February, 1898, the Hagerup Ministry resigned,
and Steen was again placed at the head of a ministry. The Storthing of
1898-99 adopted a constitutional amendment extending the suffrage to
all male citizens who have attained the age of twenty-five years. A
bill was also passed, for the third time, removing from the Norwegian
merchant flag the "union jack," the symbol of the union with Sweden.
This bill was twice vetoed by the king; but, after its third passage,
was promulgated, having been passed, according to the Constitution,
over the royal veto.

The secession movement was largely in abeyance during the years
1900-1902, owing to the popular fear of a Russian invasion. However,
in 1903, the anti-union sentiment again came strongly to the front,
reaching an acute stage in March, 1905, when a new cabinet, headed
by Peter Christian Michelson, was formed. A bill demanding separate
consular service was again passed by the Storthing, only to be vetoed
by the Swedish crown. Compromise measures were proposed and rejected.
In June the cabinet offered its resignation, which was refused by the
King on the ground that a new ministry could not be formed in the
existing state of feeling in Norway. The cabinet, thereupon, delegated
its powers to the Storthing, which immediately passed a resolution
declaring the dissolution of union between Sweden and Norway on the
ground of the King's inability to conduct the government and his
constructive relinquishment of authority. At the same time a letter
was addressed to the King of Sweden expressing Norway's desire for
the continuation of peaceful relations, and asking that a prince of
the royal house of Sweden be designated as King of Norway. The latter
request was refused, but other matters were adjusted by a joint

The crown was finally offered to Charles, Crown Prince of Denmark, and
son-in-law of King Edward of England, who was elected by a popular
majority of 259,563 against 69,264, and assumed the throne November
20th under the name Haakon VII.


_Norwegian Literature_

The people who emigrated from Norway and settled in Iceland, after
Harald the Fairhaired had subdued the many independent chiefs and
established the monarchy (872), for the most part belonged to the
flower of the nation, and Iceland naturally became the home of the old
Norse literature. Among the oldest poetical works of this literature
is the so-called "Elder Edda," also called Sæmund's Edda, because for
a long time it was believed to be the work of the Icelander Sæmund.
"The Younger Edda," also called Snorre's Edda, because it is supposed
to have been written by Snorre Sturlason (born 1178, died 1241),
contains a synopsis of the old Norse religion and a treatise on the art
of poetry. Fully as important as the numerous poetical works of that
period was the old Norse Saga-literature.[15] The most prominent work in
this field is Snorre Sturlason's "Heimskringla," which gives the sagas
of the kings of Norway from the beginning down to 1177. A continuation
of the "Heimskringla," to which several authors have contributed, among
them Snorre Sturlason's relative, Sturla Thordson, contains the history
of the later kings down to Magnus Law-Mender.

[15] The word saga means a historical tale.

The literary development above referred to ceased almost entirely
toward the end of the fourteenth century, and later, during the union
with Denmark, the Danish language gradually took the place of the old
Norse as a book-language, and the literature became essentially Danish.
Copenhagen, with its court and its university, was the literary and
educational centre, where the young men of Norway went to study, and
authors born in Norway became, to all intents and purposes, Danish
writers. But Norway furnished some valuable contributors to this common
literature. One of the very first names on the records of the Danish
literature, Peder Claussön (1545-1614), is that of a Norwegian, and
the list further includes such illustrious names as Holberg, Tullin,
Wessel, Steffens, etc.

One of the most original writers whom Norway produced and kept at
home during the period of the union with Denmark was the preacher and
poet, Peder Dass (1647-1708). The best known among his secular songs
is "Nordlands Trompet," a beautiful and patriotic description of the
northern part of Norway.

Ludvig Holberg was born in Bergen, Norway, December 3, 1684. His
father, Colonel Holberg, had risen from the ranks and distinguished
himself, in 1660, at Halden. Shortly after his death the property of
the family was destroyed by fire, and at the age of ten years Ludvig
lost his mother. It was now decided to have him educated for the
military service; but he showed a great dislike for military life, and,
at his earnest request, was sent to the Bergen Latin School. In 1702
he entered the University of Copenhagen. Being destitute of means,
he took a position as private tutor. As soon as he had saved a small
sum he went abroad. He was first in Holland, and afterward studied
for a couple of years at Oxford, where he supported himself by giving
instruction in languages and music. Upon his return to Copenhagen he
again took a position as private tutor and had an opportunity to travel
as teacher for a young nobleman. In 1714 he received a stipend from the
king, which enabled him to go abroad for several years, which he spent
principally in France and Italy. In 1718 he became a regular professor
at the Copenhagen University. Among Holberg's many works the following
are the most prominent: "Peder Paars," a great comical heroic poem,
containing sharp attacks on many of the follies of his time; about
thirty comedies in Molière's style, and a large number of historical
works. Holberg, who was ennobled in 1747, died in January 29, 1754, and
was buried in Sorö Church. His influence on the literature and on the
whole intellectual life of Denmark was very great. He is often called
the creator of the Danish literature.

Christian Baumann Tullin (1728-1765), a genuine poetical genius,
who has been called the Father of Danish lyrical verse, was born in
Christiania, and his poetry, which was mainly written in his native
city, breathes a national spirit. From his day, for about thirty
years, Denmark obtained the majority of her poets from Norway. The
manager of the Danish national theatre, in 1771, was a Norwegian, Niels
Krog-Bredal (1733-1778), who was the first to write lyrical dramas in
Danish. A Norwegian, Johan Nordal Brun (1745-1816), a gifted poet,
wrote tragedy in the conventional French taste of the day. It was a
Norwegian, Johan Herman Wessel (1742-1785), who, by his great parody,
"Kjærlighed uden Strömper" (Love without Stockings), laughed this
taste out of fashion. Among the writers of this period are also Claus
Frimann (1746-1829), Peter Harboe Frimann (1752-1839), Claus Fasting
(1746-1791), Johan Wibe (1748-1782), Edward Storm (1749-1794), C. H.
Pram (1756-1821), Jonas Rein (1760-1821), and Jens Zetlitz (1761-1821),
all of them Norwegians by birth.

Two notable events led to the foundation of an independent Norwegian
literature: the one was the establishment of a Norwegian university at
Christiania in 1811, and the other was the separation of Norway from
Denmark in 1814. At first the independent Norwegian literature appeared
as immature as the conditions surrounding it. The majority of the
writers had received their education in Copenhagen, and were inclined
to follow in the beaten track of the old literature, although trying to
introduce a more national spirit. All were greatly influenced by the
political feeling of the hour. There was a period when all poetry had
for its subject the beauties and strength of Norway and its people, and
"The Rocks of Norway," "The Lion of Norway," etc., sounded everywhere.
Three poets, called the Trefoil, were the prominent writers of this
period. Of these, Conrad Nicolai Schwach (1793-1860) was the least
remarkable. Henrik A. Bjerregaard (1792-1842) was the author of "The
Crowned National Song," and of a lyric drama, "Fjeldeventyret" (The
Adventure in the Mountains). The third member of the Trefoil, Mauritz
Chr. Hansen (1794-1842), wrote a large number of novels and national
stories, which were quite popular in their time. His poems were among
the earliest publications of independent Norway.

The time about the year 1830 is reckoned as the beginning of the new
Norwegian literature, and Henrik Wergeland is called its creator.
Henrik Arnold Wergeland was born in 1808. His father, Nicolai
Wergeland, a clergyman, was a member of the Constitutional Convention
at Eidsvold. Henrik studied theology, but did not care to become
a clergyman. In 1827, and the following years, he wrote a number
of satirical farces under the signature "Siful Sifadda." In 1830
appeared his lyric dramatic poem, "Skabelsen, Mennesket og Messias"
(The Creation, Man and Messiah), a voluminous piece of work, in which
he attempted to explain the historical life of the human race. As
a political writer he was editorial assistant on the "Folkebladet"
(1831-1833), and edited the opposition paper "Statsborgeren"
(1835-1837). He worked with great zeal for the education of the
laboring class, and from 1839 until his death edited a paper in the
interest of the laborer. The prominent features of his earliest
efforts in literature are an unbounded enthusiasm and a complete
disregard of the laws of poetry. At an early age he had become a power
in literature, and a political power as well. From 1831 to 1835 he
was subjected to severe satirical attacks by the author Welhaven and
others, and later his style became improved in every respect. His
popularity however decreased as his poetry improved, and in 1840 he had
become a great poet but had no political influence. Among his works may
be named "Hasselnödder," "Jöden" (The Jew), "Jödinden" (The Jewess),
"Jan van Huysums Blomsterstykke" (Jan van Huysum's Flower-piece),
"Den engelske Lods" (The English Pilot), and a great number of lyric
poems. The poems of his last five years are as popular to-day as ever.
Wergeland died in 1845.

The enthusiastic nationalism of Henrik Wergeland and his young
following brought on a conflict with the conservative element, which
was not ready to accept everything as good simply because it was
Norwegian. This conservative element maintained that art and culture
must be developed on the basis of the old association with Denmark,
which had connected Norway with the great movement of civilization
throughout Europe. As the poetical leader of this "Intelligence" party,
as it was called, appeared J. S. Welhaven.

Johan Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven was born in Bergen in 1807,
entered the university in 1825, became a "Lector" in 1840, and
afterward Professor of Philosophy. "His refined æsthetic nature," says
Fr. Winkel Horn, "had been early developed, and when the war broke out
between him and Wergeland he had reached a high point of intellectual
culture, and thus was in every way a match for his opponent. The
fight was inaugurated by a preliminary literary skirmish, which was,
at the outset, limited to the university students; but it gradually
assumed an increasingly bitter character, both parties growing more
and more exasperated. Welhaven published a pamphlet, 'Om Henrik
Wergelands Digtekunst og Poesie,' in which he mercilessly exposed the
weak sides of his adversary's poetry. Thereby the minds became still
more excited. The 'Intelligence' party withdrew from the students'
union, founded a paper of their own, and thus the movement began to
assume wider dimensions. In 1834 appeared Welhaven's celebrated poem
'Norges Dæmring,' a series of sonnets, distinguished for their beauty
of style. In them the poet scourges, without mercy, the one-sided,
narrow-minded patriotism of his time, and exposes, in striking and
unmistakable words, the hollowness and shortcomings of the Wergeland
party. Welhaven points out, with emphasis, that he is not only going
to espouse the cause of good taste, which his adversary has outraged,
but that he is also about to discuss problems of general interest. He
urges that a Norwegian culture and literature cannot be created out of
nothing; that to promote their development it is absolutely necessary
to continue the associations which have hitherto been common to both
Norway and Denmark, and thus to keep in _rapport_ with the general
literature of Europe. When a solid foundation has in this manner been
laid, the necessary materials for a literature would surely not be
wanting, for they are found in abundance, both in the antiquities and
in the popular life of Norway." Welhaven continued his effective work
as a poet and a critic. Through a series of lyrical and romantic poems,
rich in contents and highly finished in style, he developed a poetical
life, which had an important influence in the young Norwegian literary
circles. He died in 1873.

Andreas Munch (1811-1884), an able and industrious poetical writer,
took no part in the controversy between Wergeland and Welhaven, but
followed his Danish models independently of either. His "Poems, Old and
New," published in 1848, were quite popular. His best work is probably
"Kongedatterens Brudefart" (The Bridal Tour of the King's Daughter),

In the period of about a dozen years following the death of Wergeland,
the life, manners and characteristics of the Norwegian people were
given the especial attention of the literary writers. Prominent in this
period was Peter Christian Asbjörnsen (1812-1885), who, partly alone
and partly in conjunction with Bishop Jörgen Moe (1813-1882), published
some valuable collections of Norwegian folk tales and fairy tales.
Moe also published three little volumes of graceful and attractive
poems. Among other writers of this period may be named Hans H. Schultze
("Fra Lofoten og Solör"), N. Östgaard ("En Fjeldbygd"), Harald Meltser
("Smaabilleder af Folkelivet"), M. B. Landstad (hymns), and the
linguist Sophus Bugge.

The efforts to bring out the national life and characteristics of the
people in the literature also led to an attempt to nationalize the
language in which the literature was written. The movement was the
so-called "Maalstræv," and had in view the introduction of a "pure
Norwegian" book-language, based upon the peasant dialects. The most
prominent supporter of this movement was Ivar Aasen (1813-1898),
the author of an excellent dictionary of the Norwegian language. A
prominent poetical representative of this school was Aasmund Olafson
Vinje (1818-1870), while Kristofer Janson (born 1841) has also written
a number of stories and poems in the _Landsmaal_ (country tongue).

A new and grand period in the Norwegian literature commenced about
1857, and the two most conspicuous names in this period--and in the
whole Norwegian literature--are those of Henrik Ibsen and Björnstjerne

Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien in 1828. He has written many beautiful
poems; but his special field is the drama, where he is a master. His
first works were nearly all historical romantic dramas. His first
work, "Catilina," printed in 1850, was scarcely noticed until years
afterward, when he had become famous. In 1856 appeared the romantic
drama, "Gildet paa Solhaug" (The Feast at Solhaug), followed by
"Fru Inger til Oestraat," 1857, and "Hærmændene paa Helgeland" (The
Warriors on Helgeland), 1858. In 1863 he wrote the historical tragedy
"Kongsemnerne" (The Pretenders), in which the author showed his great
literary power. Before this play was published, he had been drawn into
a new channel. In 1862 he began a series of satirical and philosophical
dramas with "Kjærlighedens Komedie" (Love's Comedy), which was
succeeded by two masterpieces of a similar kind, "Brand," in 1866, and
"Peer Gynt," in 1867. These works were written in verse; but in "De
Unges Forbund" (The Young Men's League), 1869, a political satire, he
abandoned verse, and all his subsequent dramas have been written in
prose. In 1873 came "Keiser og Galilæer" (Emperor and Galilean). Since
then he has published a number of social dramas which have attracted
world-wide attention. We mention: "Samfundets Stötter" (The Pillars
of Society), "Et Dukkehjem" (A Doll's House), "Gengangere" (Ghosts),
"En Folkefiende" (An Enemy of the People), "Rosmerholm," "Fruen fra
Havet" (The Lady from the Sea), "Little Eyolf," "Bymester Solnes"
(Masterbuilder Solnes), "John Gabriel Borkman."

Björnstjerne Björnson (born in Österdalen in 1832) is the more popular
of the two giants in the Norwegian literature of to-day. His works are
more national in tone. It has been said that to mention his name is to
raise the Norwegian flag. His first successes were made in the field of
the novel, and the first two, "Synnöve Solbakken" (1857), and "Arne"
(1858), made his name famous. These, and his other peasant stories,
will always retain their popularity. He soon, however, entered the
dramatic field, and has since published a great number of dramas and
novels. "Halte Hulda," 1858; "Mellem Slagene," 1859; "Kong Sverre,"
1861; "Sigurd Slembe," 1862; "Maria Stuart," 1863; "De Nygifte" (The
Newly-married Couple), 1865; "Kongen," 1877; "Leonarda," 1879; "Det ny
System," 1879; "Over Ærne," 1883; "En Fallit," "Det flager," etc., and
many others.

In the field of belles-lettres there is, at the present time, a number
of other talented authors. Jonas Lie (born 1833) has produced a number
of excellent novels. Then there are Alexander Kielland (born 1849),
Magdalene Thoresen (born 1819), Arne Garborg, Gunnar Heiberg, and a
number of young authors.

In the field of science, also, modern Norway has a rich literature
with many prominent names, such as the historians Peter Andreas Munch
(1810-1863), Rudolph Keyser (1803-1864), Johan Ernst Sars (born 1835),
and O. A. Överland.


_The Constitution of Norway_

The following is the Constitution adopted at the Convention at Eidsvold
on the 17th day of May, 1814, and amended and ratified by the Storthing
on the 4th day of November, 1814, with all the subsequent amendments


Article 1. The Kingdom of Norway is a free, independent, indivisible
and inalienable state, united with Sweden under one king. Its form of
government is a limited, hereditary monarchy.

Article 2. The Evangelical Lutheran religion shall continue the
established religion of the state. Such inhabitants as profess the same
shall educate their children therein. Jesuits shall be excluded.


Article 3. The executive power shall be vested in the King.

Article 4. The King shall constantly profess, maintain and defend the
Evangelical Lutheran religion.

Article 5. The King's person is sacred; he shall neither be censured
nor impeached. His Ministry shall, however, be accountable.

Article 6. The succession shall be lineal and agnatic as prescribed
in the ordinance of succession of September 26, 1810, adopted by the
Legislative Assembly of Sweden and accepted by the King, a translation
of which is attached to this Constitution. A posthumous child shall
be deemed in the line of succession, and shall take his appropriate
place therein as soon as born. When a prince, who is heir to the United
Crowns of Norway and Sweden, is born, his name and time of birth shall
be reported to the next Storthing in session and entered in its journal.

Article 7. If no Prince, heir to the Crowns, be living, the King may
propose a successor to the Storthing of Norway, at the same time as to
the Legislative Assembly of Sweden; and, as soon as the King has made
his nomination, the legislative bodies of both nations shall appoint
a committee from their midst, with power to choose a successor, in
case the nominee of the King is not confirmed by a majority in each
legislative body. The number of members of this Committee, which must
be equal from each kingdom, and the manner in which the choice shall be
made, shall be determined by a law, simultaneously proposed by the King
to the next Storthing and to the Legislative Assembly of Sweden. One
member shall withdraw, by lot, from the assembled committee.

Article 8. The age of majority of the King shall be prescribed by a
law, to be enacted pursuant to an agreement between the Storthing of
Norway and the Legislative Assembly of Sweden, or, in case they cannot
agree concerning the same, by a committee appointed by the legislative
bodies of both kingdoms, conformable to the provisions of the
preceding Article 7. The King shall publicly proclaim himself of age as
soon as he has attained his majority.

Article 9. As soon as the King, on coming of age, assumes the
government, he shall take the following oath before the Storthing: "I
promise and depose that I will govern the Kingdom of Norway conformable
to its Constitution and laws, so help me God and His Holy Writ." If no
Storthing is then in session, the oath shall be deposited in writing
with the Ministry, and shall solemnly be renewed by the King at the
next Storthing, either orally or in writing through his representative.

Article 10. The King shall be crowned and anointed, when he is of age,
in Throndhjem's Cathedral, at such time and with such ceremonies as he
himself may prescribe.

Article 11. The King shall reside in Norway a part of each year, if not
prevented by serious obstacles.

Article 12. The King shall appoint a Ministry of Norwegian citizens,
who shall not be less than thirty years of age. The Ministry shall
consist of two Ministers of State, and not less than seven Secretaries
of State. The King shall apportion the public business among the
members of the Ministry in such manner as he deems best. The King,
or, in his absence, the Minister of State, in conjunction with the
Secretaries of State, may, on extraordinary occasions, in addition to
the regular members of the Ministry, summon other Norwegian citizens,
not members of the Storthing, to a seat in the Ministry. Father and
son, or two brothers, shall not have a seat in the Ministry at the same

Article 13. The King shall commit, during his absence, the
administration of the domestic affairs of the realm, in such cases as
he may prescribe, to one of the Ministers of State, and not less than
five of the Secretaries of State, who shall carry on the government
in the name, and on behalf, of the King. They shall sacredly conform
as well to the provisions of this Constitution as to the several
instructions in harmony therewith, prescribed to them by the King.
They shall present to the King a respectful application concerning the
affairs they resolve upon. Their transactions shall be determined by
vote, and in case of an equal division the Minister of State, or, in
his absence, the senior Secretary of State, shall have two votes.

Article 14. (Repealed.)

Article 15. One of the Ministers of State, and two of the Secretaries
of State, the latter to be changed yearly, shall constantly remain
with the King while he resides in Sweden. They shall be subject to the
same obligations and to the same constitutional accountability as the
governing Ministry, named in Article 13, existing in Norway, and only
in their presence shall Norwegian affairs be disposed of by the King.
All applications from Norwegian citizens to the King shall first be
presented to the governing Ministry in Norway, and supplemented with
their opinion, before passed upon. As a rule, except where serious
obstacles prevent, no Norwegian affairs shall be disposed of without
obtaining the advice of the governing Ministry in Norway. The Minister
of State shall move the consideration of public business, and shall be
responsible for the due expedition of all resolutions taken.

Article 16. The King shall prescribe rules for all public religious
and church service, and for all meetings and conventions relating to
religious affairs, and he shall take care that the public instructors
of religion adhere to the standards prescribed them.

Article 17. The King may enact and repeal ordinances relating to
commerce, customs, industrial pursuits and public order, not, however,
in conflict with the Constitution or the laws of the Storthing,
passed pursuant to the provisions of Article 77, 78 and 79 of this
Constitution. Such acts of the King shall remain provisionally in force
until the next Storthing.

Article 18. The King shall, ordinarily, cause the taxes and imposts,
levied by the Storthing, to be collected. The Norwegian Treasury shall
remain in Norway, and its revenue shall be devoted to the requirements
of Norway alone.

Article 19. The King shall take care that the estates and regalia
of the State be used and managed in the manner prescribed by the
Storthing, and for the greatest advantage of the public.

Article 20. The King shall have power, in council, to pardon offenders
after conviction. The offender shall, however, have the option to
accept the pardon of the King or to suffer the punishment adjudged.
No pardon or reprieve, except the remission of the death penalty,
shall be granted in cases prosecuted by the Odelsthing in the Court of

Article 21. The King, after hearing his Ministry in Norway, shall
appoint and induct all civil, ecclesiastical and military officials,
who shall take an oath of obedience and fealty to the Constitution and
the King, or who, if relieved by law from such an oath, shall solemnly
declare their fealty to the same. Royal Princes shall hold no civil

Article 22. The King may, after taking the advice of the Ministry,
without the warrant of judicial decree, remove from office the
Ministers and Secretaries of State, together with officials in the
bureaus of the Ministry, Ambassadors and Consuls, the chief civil and
ecclesiastical officials, and the chiefs of fortifications and ships of
war. Whether pensions shall be granted to officials thus removed shall
be determined by the next Storthing, but, in the meantime, they shall
continue to receive two-thirds of their former salary. Other officials
are only liable to suspension by the King, and, when suspended, shall
at once be proceeded against in the courts, and shall not, without
judgment, be removed, nor transferred without their consent.

Article 23. The King, at his pleasure, may confer orders of merit, in
recognition of distinguished services, to be publicly announced, but
no other rank or title than that conferred by an office occupied. Such
orders shall relieve no one from the duties and burdens common to all
citizens, nor shall they confer any preference in securing admission
to the public service. Officials, honorably discharged, shall retain
the title and rank of the office they occupied. No personal or mixed
hereditary prerogatives shall hereafter be conferred on any one.

Article 24. The King may, at pleasure, select and dismiss the employees
and officers of his royal household.

Article 25. The King shall be Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval
forces of the realm. These forces shall neither be increased nor
diminished without the consent of the Storthing. They shall not be
placed in the service of foreign powers, nor shall the military forces
of any foreign powers, except auxiliary troops to repel hostile attack,
be brought within the realm without the consent of the Storthing.
In times of peace, none but Norwegian troops shall be stationed in
Norway, and no Norwegian troops shall be stationed in Sweden. The King,
however, may retain in Sweden a Norwegian guard of volunteers, and he
may, for a short time not exceeding six weeks in any year, assemble
for manoeuvres, within the limits of either country, the nearest
troops of the armies of both realms; but in no case, in times of peace,
shall more than three thousand soldiers, of all arms combined, of the
military force of one country, be brought within the limits of the
other country. Norway's troops and coast flotilla shall not be employed
in offensive war without the consent of the Storthing. The Norwegian
fleet shall have its dock yards, and in times of peace its stations or
havens in Norway. The ships of war of one country shall not be manned
with sailors of the other country, except by voluntary enlistment. The
home guard and the other Norwegian troops, not classed as troops of the
line, shall never be employed outside of the boundaries of Norway.

Article 26. The King shall have power to call out the troops, to
commence war and make peace, to enter into treaties, and to abrogate
the same, and to send and receive diplomatic representatives. When the
King intends to commence war, he shall communicate his purpose to the
governing Ministry in Norway, and obtain their judgment concerning the
same, together with a full report upon the condition of the country
in respect to its finances, means of defence, and other matters. When
these steps have been taken, the King shall convene the Norwegian
Minister of State and the Norwegian Secretaries of State stationed
in Sweden, together with the members of the Swedish Ministry, in
an extraordinary cabinet council, and shall present to them the
grounds and circumstances which should in such cases be taken into
consideration, and shall also place before them the report of the
Norwegian Ministry concerning the condition of that country, and a like
report concerning the condition of Sweden. The King shall thereupon
demand their judgment in the premises, which each of them for himself
shall give and have entered in the journal of the proceedings, to be
accountable for as provided in the Constitution. When this has been
done, the King shall have the power to take and execute such resolution
as he deems for the best interest of the country.

Article 27. All members of the Ministry, without valid excuse, shall
attend the cabinet councils, and no action shall be taken when not
more than half of the members are present. No action shall be taken in
those Norwegian affairs, disposed of in Sweden, pursuant to Article
15, unless the Norwegian Minister of State and one of the Norwegian
Secretaries of State, or both of the Secretaries, be present.

Article 28. Communications concerning appointments to office and other
matters of importance, except diplomatic affairs and military commands,
shall be presented for consideration to the Ministry by the member
thereof in whose department the business belongs, and he shall dispose
of the same conformable to the resolve of the Ministry.

Article 29. In case a member of the Ministry is unable, for valid
cause, to attend and present for consideration the matters pertaining
to his department, the same shall be presented by another member of the
Ministry, appointed for that purpose by the King, if present, or, in
his absence, by the presiding member of the Ministry, in conjunction
with the other members of the Ministry. If, for valid cause, so many
are absent that not more than half of the regular members are in
attendance, then other officials shall be appointed, in the mode
aforesaid, to sit in the Ministry, in which case a report thereof shall
at once be made to the King, who shall determine whether the officials
thus appointed shall continue to serve.

Article 30. The Ministry shall keep a record of all business
transacted. It shall be the duty of every person who has a seat in
the Ministry to express his opinion fearlessly, to which the King
shall listen, but he may resolve according to his own judgment. In
case any member of the Ministry finds that the resolve of the King
is in conflict with the form of government or the laws of the realm,
or is manifestly detrimental to the country, then it is his duty to
vigorously protest against the same, and to enter his objections in the
record. He who does not thus protest, shall be deemed to have concurred
with the King, and shall be accountable therefor, as subsequently
determined, and may be impeached by the Odelsthing in the Court of

Article 31. All decrees issued by the King himself, except military
commands, shall be countersigned by one of the Ministers of State.

Article 32. Resolutions taken by the Ministry in Norway, during the
absence of the King, shall be issued in his name, and attested by the

Article 33. All communications relative to Norwegian affairs, as well
as the expedition of the same, shall be in the Norwegian language.

Article 34. The heir apparent, if son of the reigning King, shall bear
the title of Crown Prince. The other royal heirs shall be known as
Princes, and the royal daughters as Princesses.

Article 35. As soon as the heir apparent has filled his eighteenth
year, he shall be entitled to take his seat in the Ministry, but
without vote or accountability.

Article 36. No Prince of the blood shall marry without the consent of
the King. If he violates this rule he shall forfeit his right to the
crown of Norway.

Article 37. The royal Princes and Princesses shall personally only be
answerable to the King, or to such judge as he may ordain for them.

Article 38. The Norwegian Minister of State, as well as the two
Norwegian Secretaries of State, remaining with the King, shall have
a seat and deliberative voice in the Swedish Ministry when matters
affecting both kingdoms are there considered. The views of the Ministry
in Norway shall also be obtained, in such cases, unless the urgency for
immediate action is so great that there is no time therefor.

Article 39. If the King dies and his successor is still under age,
the Norwegian and Swedish Ministries shall immediately assemble, and
jointly issue a call convening the Storthing in Norway and the Rigsdag
in Sweden.

Article 40. Until the legislative bodies of both realms are convened
and have provided for the government during the minority of the King,
the administration of the kingdoms, conformable to their respective
Constitutions, shall be conducted by a Ministry composed of an equal
number of Norwegian and Swedish members. The Norwegian and Swedish
Ministers of State, having a seat in this Ministry, shall determine, by
lot, who shall preside.

Article 41. The provisions of Articles 39 and 40, aforesaid, shall also
be complied with in all those cases in which, under the Constitution
of Sweden, the Swedish Ministry, as such, is entitled to conduct the
government. When, however, the King, by reason of travels abroad or
sickness, is unable to conduct the administration, the Prince, entitled
to the succession, if of age, shall conduct the administration as the
temporary representative of the King, with the same power as belongs to
an ad interim government.

Article 42. The King shall submit to the next Storthing in Norway and
the next Rigsdag in Sweden a bill, based on the principles of perfect
equality between both kingdoms, to carry out the provisions of Articles
39, 40 and 41, aforesaid.

Article 43. The election of a Regency, to conduct the administration
for the King during his minority, shall take place according to the
same rules and in the same manner prescribed in Article 7, aforesaid,
for the election of a successor to the Crown.

Article 44. The Norwegian members of the joint Ministry, to conduct
the administration in the cases provided for in Articles 40 and 41,
aforesaid, shall take the following oath before the Storthing:

"I promise and depose that I will conduct the administration of the
government conformable to the Constitution and the laws, so help me
God and His Holy Writ," and the Swedish members shall take an oath
before the Legislative Assembly of Sweden. If the Storthing or Rigsdag
is not at that time in session, the oath shall be deposited, with the
Ministry, in writing, and shall be renewed before the next Storthing or

Article 45. As soon as the administration of the joint Ministry shall
cease, they shall render an account of the same to the King and the

Article 46. If those, on whom it is incumbent, pursuant to Articles
39 and 41, fail to immediately convene the Storthing, it shall be the
peremptory duty of the Supreme Court, after a lapse of four weeks, to
convene the same.

Article 47. The management of the education of the King, under age,
shall, if his father has left no written directions concerning the
same, be provided for in the manner prescribed in Articles 7 and 43.
It shall be the invariable rule to give the King, during his minority,
ample instructions in the Norwegian language.

Article 48. If the royal male line be extinct, and no successor has
been selected, a new line of kings shall be chosen in the manner
prescribed in Article 7; and in the meantime provision shall be made
for the executive power as prescribed in Article 43 (40).


Article 49. The people shall exercise the legislative power through a
Storthing, composed of two bodies, a Lagthing and an Odelsthing.

Article 50. All Norwegian citizens, dwelling within the realm, who have
attained the age of twenty-five years, and have been residents of the
country for five years, shall be qualified voters.

Article 51. All qualified voters shall be registered, in every city
by the magistrate, and in every rural parish by the parson and
tax collector. Changes that in the course of time may occur shall
immediately be noted in the registry. Every voter shall, before he
is registered, publicly in court, take an oath of fealty to the

Article 52. The right of suffrage shall be suspended by:

(_a_) Indictment for an offence subject to the punishment described in
Article 53; by

(_b_) Being placed under guardianship; by

(_c_) Assignment or bankruptcy, not caused by loss of fire or other
evident misfortune, until the debtor, through full liquidation or
composition, shall again regain control over his estate; and by

(_d_) Being supported, or having during the year immediately preceding
the election been supported, as a public pauper.

Article 53. The right of suffrage shall be forfeited by:

(_a_) Having been sentenced to hard labor, removal from office, or
imprisonment for an offence described in any of the chapters of the
Criminal Code, relating to perjury, larceny, robbery or fraud; by

(_b_) Entering the service of a foreign power, without the consent of
the government; by

(_c_) Acquiring citizenship in a foreign country; and by

(_d_) Being convicted of buying votes, or selling one's own vote, or of
voting in more than one election precinct.

Article 54. Elections and electoral meetings shall be held every third
year. They shall be concluded before the end of the month of December.

Article 55. Elections shall be held, at the chief church of the parish,
in the rural districts, and at a church, the town hall, or other
suitable place, in the towns. The parish priest and his vestrymen shall
be the judges of election in the rural districts, the magistrate and
selectmen in the towns. The vote shall be taken in the order the names
appear on the registry. Controversies about the right to vote shall be
determined by the judges of election, whose decision may be appealed
from to the Storthing.

Article 56. The Constitution shall be audibly read, in the towns by the
chief magistrate, and in the rural districts by the priest, before the
polls are opened.

Article 57. In the towns, one elector shall be chosen for every fifty
inhabitants qualified to vote. Within eight days after their election,
the electors shall assemble at the place designated therefor by the
magistracy, and shall elect, either from their own number or from
the other qualified voters in their electoral district, thirty-eight
representatives, to meet and sit in the Storthing. Of this number,
unless otherwise constitutionally provided, one shall be elected from
Aalesund and Molde combined, one from Arendal and Grimstad combined,
four from Bergen, one from Brevig, four from Christiania, Hónefas and
Kongsvinger combined, two from Christianssand, one from Christianssund,
two from Drammen, one from Flekkefjord, one from Frederickshald, one
from Fredericksstad, one from Hammerfest, Vardó and Vadsó combined,
one from Holmestrand, one from Kongsberg, one from Krageró, one from
Laurvig and Sandefjord combined, one from Lillehammer, Hamer and Gjóvik
combined, one from Moss and Dróbak combined, one from Porsgrund, one
from Sarpsborg, one from Skien, two from Stavanger and Haugesund
combined, one from Tromsö, four from Throndhjem and Levanger combined,
one from Tunsberg, and one from Osterrisór. When a town, not herein
named, shall have fifty or more inhabitants, who are qualified voters,
it shall be attached to the nearest town-electoral district. The
same rule shall apply to towns that may hereafter be founded. A town
attached to a town-electoral district shall choose one elector, even
though the number of inhabitants qualified to vote shall become less
than fifty. In no case shall less than three electors be chosen in a
town which, by itself alone, constitutes one representative district.

Article 58. In every parish in the rural districts, the inhabitants
qualified to vote shall choose, in proportion to their numbers,
electors as follows: One hundred or less shall choose one; from one
hundred to two hundred, two; from two hundred to three hundred, three,
and so on in the same proportion. The electors shall, within a month
after their election, assemble at a place designated therefor by the
high sheriff of the county, and shall then elect, either from their own
number or from the other qualified voters in their county, seventy-six
Representatives, to meet and sit in the Storthing, of whom five shall
be chosen from the county of Agershus, five from the county of Nordre
Bergenhus, five from the county of Sóndre Bergenhus, five from the
county of Christians, two from the county of Finmarken, five from the
county of Hedemarken, five from the county of Nordland, five from the
county of Romsdalen, five from the county of Stavanger, two from the
county of Tromsö, and four from each of the other eight counties of
the kingdom. Ex-Ministers or ex-Secretaries of State shall be eligible
for Representatives in any electoral district, if, barring residence,
they are qualified voters and have not already been elected in some
other district. But no district shall elect more than one non-resident

Article 59. (Repealed.)

Article 60. Qualified voters, being within the country, who, by reason
of sickness, military service, or other valid excuse, are unable to
attend the polls, may, in writing, transmit their votes to the judges
of election before the polls are closed.

Article 61. No one shall be elected Representative unless he is thirty
years of age and has resided ten years within the realm.

Article 62. Members of the Ministry, the officials employed in its
bureaus, and the officials and pensionaries of the Court, are all
ineligible for Representatives.

Article 63. Whoever is elected Representative, except ex-members of the
Ministry elected under the last clause in Article 58, shall be required
to accept the office, unless prevented by an excuse deemed valid by the
electors, whose decision may be reviewed by the Storthing. Whoever has
served as a Representative in three regular sessions of the Storthing
succeeding the same election, shall not be bound to accept election to
the next Storthing. If a Representative is prevented by valid excuse
from attending the Storthing, the person receiving the next highest
vote shall take his place, unless an alternate was elected at the
district electoral meeting, in which case he shall take the place of
the Representative.

Article 64. Immediately after their election, the Representatives shall
be furnished with certificates of election, subscribed in the rural
districts by the magistracy, in the towns by the chief magistrate, and
in both cases by several electors, as evidence that they have been
elected in the manner prescribed in the Constitution. The validity of
these credentials shall be passed upon by the Storthing.

Article 65. Each Representative shall be entitled to compensation, from
the State Treasury, for expenses of travel to and from the Storthing,
and for subsistence during attendance.

Article 66. Representatives shall, except when apprehended in public
offences, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the
Storthing, and in going to and returning from the same; and they shall
not be answerable, outside of the sessions of the Storthing, for the
expression of their views therein; but every Representative shall
conform to the established rules of procedure.

Article 67. The Representatives, elected in the manner aforesaid, shall
constitute the Storthing of the Kingdom of Norway.

Article 68. The Storthing shall, as a rule, convene on the first
week-day in the month of February in each year, at the capital of
the Kingdom, except when the King, on account of extraordinary
circumstances, such as hostile invasion or contagious disease, shall
designate another town in the realm therefor. Timely notice of such
designation shall, in such case, be published.

Article 89. The King may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the
Storthing at other than the usual time. In such case the King shall
issue a proclamation, which shall be read in all the churches of the
Episcopal towns at least fourteen days before the members of the
Storthing shall assemble at the place prescribed.

Article 70. Such special Storthing may be adjourned by the King at his

Article 71. The members of the Storthing shall serve as such for three
successive years, as well at all special, as at all regular, sessions
that may in the meantime be held.

Article 72. If a special Storthing be in session at the time a regular
Storthing convenes, the former shall adjourn before the latter

Article 73. The Storthing shall select from its members one-fourth who
shall constitute the Lagthing; the other three-fourths shall constitute
the Odelsthing. The selection shall be made at the first regular
Storthing which convenes after an election, and thereafter the Lagthing
shall remain unchanged in all Storthings assembled after the same
election, except in cases of vacancy, which shall be filled by special
election. Each Thing shall hold its sessions separately, and appoint
its own President and Secretary. Neither Thing shall be in session
unless two-thirds of its members are present.

Article 74. As soon as the Storthing has organized, the King, or
whoever he may appoint therefor, shall open its proceedings with a
speech from the throne, wherein he shall give information touching
the condition of the kingdom and the matters to which he especially
desires to direct the Storthing's attention. No deliberation shall take
place in the presence of the King. After the session of the Storthing
has been opened, the Minister of State and the Secretaries of State
shall be entitled to sit in the Storthing and both branches thereof,
and to participate in its proceedings, without the right to vote, in
open session on a footing of equality with the members, and in secret
session only to the extent permitted by the Thing.

Article 75. The Storthing shall have power:

(_a_) To enact and repeal laws; to levy taxes, imposts, duties, and
other public assessments, but such levy shall not remain in force
beyond the first day of July in the year in which the next regular
Storthing convenes, unless expressly revived by the latter;

(_b_) To borrow money on the credit of the Kingdom;

(_c_) To regulate the currency of the Kingdom;

(_d_) To appropriate the money necessary for the expenditures of the

(_e_) To determine the amount which shall yearly be paid the King for
the maintenance of his royal household, and to settle the appanage of
the royal family, which shall not, however, consist of landed estates;

(_f_) To cause to be laid before them the Journal of the Ministry
in Norway and all official reports and documents, not pertaining to
exclusive military commands, then on file, together with verified
copies and extracts of the Journals, on file with the King, kept by the
Norwegian Minister of State and the two Norwegian Secretaries of State
remaining in Sweden, as well as the public documents on file with them;

(_g_) To cause to be communicated to them the Alliances and Treaties,
which the King, on behalf of the state, has entered into with foreign
powers, except secret articles, which must not, however, conflict with
those that are public;

(_h_) To require any person to appear before them, in state affairs,
except the King and royal family; but this exception shall not apply to
royal princes holding office;

(_i_) To revise temporary salary and pension lists, and to make such
changes therein as they find necessary;

(_k_) To appoint five auditors who shall yearly audit the accounts
of the state and publish printed extracts of the same; and for this
purpose the accounts shall be submitted to the auditors within six
months from the expiration of the year for which the appropriations of
the Storthing has been made; and

(_l_) To naturalize foreigners.

Article 76. Every bill shall first be introduced in the Odelsthing,
either by a member thereof or by the Ministry, through one of its
members. If the bill is there passed, it shall be sent to the Lagthing,
which may concur in or reject it; in the latter case it shall be
returned with objections appended, and the same shall be considered
by the Odelsthing, which may either indefinitely postpone the bill or
return it to the Lagthing with or without amendment. When a bill, from
the Odelsthing, has been twice presented to the Lagthing and has been
returned a second time rejected, the entire Storthing shall assemble
in one body, and, by a two-thirds vote, dispose of the bill. At least
three days must intervene between every such distinct consideration of
the bill.

Article 77. When a measure, passed by the Odelsthing, has been
concurred in by the Lagthing or the united Storthing, it shall be sent
by a committee of both bodies of the Storthing to the King, if he is
present, or if not present, to the Norwegian Ministry, with the request
for the sanction of the King.

Article 78. If the King approve the measure, he shall affix his
signature thereto, whereby it becomes a law. If he disapprove the same,
he shall return it to the Odelsthing with the statement that, for the
time being, he does not find it expedient to sanction the same.

Article 79. If a measure has been passed without amendment, by three
regular Storthings, convened after three separate and successive
elections, and separated from each other by not less than two
intervening regular Storthings, and no measure in conflict therewith
having, in the meantime, from the first to the last passage, been
passed by any Storthing, and the measure is then presented to the King
with the request that his Majesty will not refuse his sanction to a
measure which the Storthing, after the most mature consideration, deem
beneficial, it shall become a law, notwithstanding the King fails to
sanction the same before the adjournment of the Storthing.

Article 80. The Storthing may remain in session so long as it deems
necessary, not, however, over two months, without the permission of
the King. When, after having finished its proceedings, or after having
been in session the time limited, it is adjourned by the King, he shall
communicate to it his action upon the measures passed, by approving or
rejecting the same. All measures not expressly approved by him shall be
deemed rejected.

Article 81. All laws shall be promulgated in the Norwegian language,
and, except those passed pursuant to Article 79, in the name of the
King, and under the seal of the Kingdom of Norway, in the following

"We--N. N.--make known that there has been presented to us an Act of
the Storthing of the following tenor: (here follows the Act), which we
have accepted and approved and hereby accept and approve, as law, under
our hand and the seal of the realm."

Article 82. The sanction of the King shall not be required for those
resolutions of the Storthing whereby:

(_a_) It declares itself convened as Storthing pursuant to the

(_b_) It determines its own rules of procedure;

(_c_) It approves or rejects the credentials of the members present;

(_d_) It affirms or reverses decisions in election controversies;

(_e_) It naturalizes foreigners;

(_f_) And finally, not for the resolution whereby the Odelsthing shall
impeach members of the Ministry, or others.

Article 83. The Storthing shall have the right to procure the opinion
of the Supreme Court upon judicial subjects.

Article 84. The Storthing shall sit in open session and its proceedings
shall be printed and published, except in cases where otherwise
determined by a majority vote.

Article 85. Whoever shall obey a command, the purpose of which is to
interfere with the freedom and safety of the Storthing, is guilty of
treason against the Fatherland.


Article 86. The members of the Lagthing, together with the Supreme
Court, shall constitute the Court of Impeachment, which shall try,
without appeal, cases instituted by the Odelsthing, against members
of the Ministry and members of the Supreme Court for malfeasance in
office, and against members of the Storthing for offences committed by
them in their official capacity. The President of the Lagthing shall
preside in the Court of Impeachment.

Article 87. The accused may, without cause, challenge as many as
one-third of the members of the Court of Impeachment, but not so many,
however, as to leave the Court with less than fifteen members.

Article 88. The Supreme Court shall be the tribunal of last resort.
It shall consist of not less than one Chief-Justice and six associate
judges. This article shall not prohibit the final disposal of criminal
cases, pursuant to law, without appeal to the Supreme Court.

Article 89. In times of peace, the Supreme Court, together with two
high military officers to be appointed by the King, shall constitute
a court of appeal and of final resort in all court-martial cases,
involving life, honor, or loss of liberty for a longer period than
three months.

Article 90. The decisions of the Supreme Court shall in no case be
appealed or reviewed.

Article 91. No one shall be appointed a member of the Supreme Court
before he is thirty years of age.


Article 92. Public offices shall be filled only by Norwegian citizens
who speak the language of the country and:

(_a_) Who are born within the realm of parents who are citizens of the
country; or

(_b_) Who are born in foreign countries of Norwegian parents, not
citizens of another nation; or

(_c_) Who shall hereafter reside ten years within the realm; or

(_d_) Who shall be naturalized by the Storthing. But persons without
these qualifications may be appointed physicians, instructors in the
university and grammar schools, and consuls in foreign places. No one
shall be appointed a high magistrate before he is thirty years of
age, nor an inferior judge, magistrate, or tax collector before he is
twenty-five years of age. No one shall be a member of the Ministry
unless he professes the established religion of the state; and the same
rule shall apply to the other offices of the state, until otherwise
provided by law.

Article 93. Norway shall not be liable for any other than its own
national debt.

Article 94. Measures shall be taken to enact, at the next regular
Storthing, or, if this is not possible, at the following one, a new
general civil and criminal code. In the meantime the existing laws of
the state shall remain in force so far as they are not in conflict
with this Constitution or temporary ordinances meanwhile issued.
Permanent taxes now existing shall continue as laid until the next

Article 95. No dispensations, writs of protection, or letters of
respite or reparation, shall be granted after the new general code
takes effect.

Article 96. No one shall be tried except pursuant to law, nor punished
except pursuant to judgment. Examination, by means of torture, is

Article 97. No law shall be given retroactive effect.

Article 98. Fees paid to officials of Courts of Justice shall not be
subject to any state tax.

Article 99. No one shall be arrested except in the case and manner
prescribed by law. Whoever causes an unauthorized arrest, or unlawful
detention, shall be answerable therefor to the person confined. The
government shall have no right to employ military force against the
citizens otherwise than pursuant to law, except in the case of an
assembly disturbing the public peace and not immediately dispersing
after the civil magistrate has thrice audibly read to them the articles
in the public code relating to riot.

Article 100. The liberty of the press shall remain inviolate. No one
shall be punished for any writing, printed or published, irrespective
of its context, unless he has intentionally and clearly manifested,
or urged others to manifest, disobedience to the laws, contempt for
religion, morality, and the constitutional authorities, or resistance
to the commands of the same, or has made false and defamatory charges
against any person. Every person shall be permitted to express freely
his opinion upon the administration of public affairs, or on any other
subject whatsoever.

Article 101. New and permanent special privileges in industrial
pursuits shall not be granted to any one hereafter.

Article 102. Domiciliary visits shall not be permitted except in
criminal cases.

Article 103. No sanctuary shall be allowed to persons who hereafter
become insolvent.

Article 104. Estates of inheritance, or distributive shares, shall in
no case be subject to confiscation.

Article 105. If public necessity requires any person to relinquish
his real or personal property for public use, he shall receive full
compensation therefor from the State Treasury.

Article 106. The proceeds, as well as the income, of church estates,
shall be devoted exclusively to the benefit of the church and the
promotion of education. The property of charitable institutions shall
be devoted exclusively to their use.

Article 107. Allodial tenure and statutory entailment shall not be
abolished; but the conditions under which--for the good of the state
and the advantages of the people--the same shall continue, shall be
prescribed by the next or the following Storthing.

Article 108. No earldoms, baronies, or entailed manorial estates, shall
hereafter be established.

Article 109. Every citizen, without regard to birth or fortune, shall,
without exception, render military service to his country for a limited
time. The application of this rule, the limitations to be placed on it,
and whether it will be for the good of the country that liability to
such service shall terminate with the twenty-fifth year, shall be left
to the determination of the next regular Storthing, after a committee
has obtained full information on the subject; and in the meantime all
existing provisions in the premises shall remain in force.

Article 110. Norway shall have its own bank and its own currency and
coinage, to be established by law.

Article 111. Norway shall be entitled to have its own Merchant Flag.
Its naval ensign shall be a union flag.

Article 112. If experience demonstrates that any part of this
Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway requires amendment, the
proposition therefor shall be presented at a regular Storthing
first succeeding an election, and notice thereof shall be given by
publication; but no action shall be taken thereon until at one of
the regular Storthings succeeding the next election. Such amendment
shall not contravene the principles of this Constitution, and shall
only relate to such modifications in single provisions as will not
change the spirit of this Constitution, and shall be concurred in by
two-thirds of the Storthing.


Transcriber's Notes:

Minor changes have been made to correct printer's errors and to
regularize hyphenatation.

Names of some places and persons, where obvious, have been changed
to conform to a single, rather than multiple spellings.

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