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Title: History of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, Vol. I (of 2)
Author: Dunham, S. A. (Samuel Astley)
Language: English
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Printed by A. Spottiswoode,



Conducted by the
Rev. Dionysius Lardner, Ll.D., F.R.S. L. & E.
M.R.I.A. F.R.A.S. F.L.S. F.Z.S. Hon. F.C.P.S. &c. &c.

Assisted by
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by the Author of
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SCANDINAVIA prior to the tenth century is the region of romance,—of the
wildest legends. These are admissible into the severe domain of history
in so far only as they illustrate national opinions and manners,—the
noblest part of the study. For this reason, chiefly, more have been
retained in the present volume than are to be found in any preceding
work on the subject. Indeed, were they rejected, nine tenths of northern
history must be rejected with them.

Another reason for dwelling on the earlier and more obscure events has
been the wish to deviate as much as possible from a recent popular work
in the “Edinburgh Cabinet Cyclopedia.” Two publications on the same
subject, and designed for the same class of readers, would scarcely be
required, unless they were distinguished from each other in their manner
of treating it.

If the present volume be one of entertainment chiefly, the next will be
one of instruction. The religion and laws, the manners and opinions, of
the Northmen, will receive their due notice.




                         TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF

                      THE HISTORY OF SCANDINAVIA.





   Futility of Inquiries into the Origin of Nations                 1

   That of the Swedes obscure and fabulous.—Pedigree of the         2
     Swedish Kings from Noah, according to Joannes Magnus

   Origin of Idolatry and War in the North.—Extension of the        3
     Gothic Empire, and a new Empire founded by them, the seat
     of which was in Poland or Hungary.

   The Empire of the Goths broken into numerous                     4
     Principalities.—The Danes aspire to throw off the Yoke of
     Sweden; but being assailed by the Saxons, submit, and
     receive DAN, a Swedish Prince, as their King. This Prince
     gave his Name to the Danish Kingdom, and his Brother
     _Angul_, the First King of the _English_, left _his_ name
     to that People.—Wars between Sweden and
     Denmark.—Swibdager, King of Norway, elected King of the
     Goths and Swedes.—Defeats and slays Gram, King of Denmark,
     and subjects his Kingdom to the Swedes. All this according
     to Joannes Magnus

   NORWAY. According to Torfœus, the Giants, of whom he gives a     6
     minute Account, were the most ancient Inhabitants of this

   Soon after them came the Goths, about the Period of the Fall     7
     of Troy; next came the _Asae_, or _Scythians_

   To these he adds an indigenous Race, which is evidently a        8
     Mythologic Creation

   Thor, the Father of Nor, the common Ancestor of all the          9
     Norwegian Princes, deemed by that People superior to Odin
     himself. The Danes and Swedes held Odin to be the Supreme
     God.—Amalgamation of the two Religions

   DENMARK. Claims to great Antiquity.—List of Danish Kings        10
     from Noah to Odin, “that King of the Turks whom the Romans
     forced towards the North;” and from the latter to
     Hardicanute and Harald Harfager

   The Goths were in the North of Europe prior to the Times we     11
     call Historic; but the Cimbri were there before them; and
     these were probably preceded by other Swarms, whose very
     names are lost

   The Finns and the Lapps probably Descendants of the earliest    12
     Inhabitants of the North.—The People of the North were
     split into numerous Tribes, of which the Swiones were the
     most conspicuous.—The Dankiones, probably the Danskir, or
     Danes.—The Swiones, Goths, and Teutones, all kindred
     Tribes.—The Finns

   The Goths the last People that reached Western Europe.—Their    13
     gradual Amalgamation with the former Inhabitants produced
     that Form of Society peculiar to the North

   The Sons of Odin probably the first Gothic Monarchs of the      14
     North.—The original Inhabitants different, in all
     respects, from the Goths.—The Finns and Lapps represented
     in the early Gothic Poetry as Magicians, and the Jutes as
     Giants and Magicians.—Antipathy between the Goths and the
     former Races, and the Causes of it

   Tacitus’s meagre Account of the Northern Tribes that            15
     constituted the _Anglo-Saxons_.—Alfred’s Account of what
     he learned of the North from Otter, a Norwegian Navigator

   Curious Particulars of what constituted Riches in the           16
     extreme North, in the Days of Otter.—The Finns tributary
     to the Goths.—Credibility of Otter’s
     Relation.—Acknowledged Distinction between the various
     Tribes of the North

   The original Tribes gradually expelled, and driven North        17
     towards the Arctic Circle by the Goths and
     Swiar.—Scandinavian domestic History, for centuries after
     the Arrival of Odin, little known.—Numerous Chieftains in
     the North under the regal Title

   Contradictory Accounts of the Sovereigns and Transactions of    18
     the northern Kingdoms; yet they cannot be rejected as
     wholly fabulous, as the Songs which form the entire
     History of the North supply us with the best Picture of
     national Manners

   Summary of Saxo’s History of Denmark during the doubtful        19

   DAN, the first King of Denmark, gave his Name to that           19
     Country.—On his Death his Son Humble _elected_ in his
     stead.—His Brother, Lother, revolts and usurps the
     Dignity.—Is slain by his Subjects, and his son, SKIOLD,
     the Hercules of the North, raised to the Throne

   His Prowess.—Overthrows the Duke of the Alemanni, reduces       20
     his People to the Condition of Tributaries, and marries
     his Daughter Awilda; his Wisdom equal to his Valour; his
     Benevolence, good Laws and Government; his love of Glory

   GRAM, the Son and Successor of Skiold, equal to his Father      20
     in Strength and Enterprise, and his Life more
     romantic.—Subdues Sweden, and carries away the princess

   His Inconstancy.—Is deprived of Empire and Life by              21
     Swibdager, King of Norway.—Saxo’s curious Account of the
     different Species of Giants

   SWIBDAGER places Guthrum, the Son of Gram, as a Vassal on       22
     the Throne of Denmark.—HADDING, the Brother of Guthrum,
     the most celebrated of Danish Heroes.—His wonderful
     Adventure with the Giantess Hardgrip

   His farther wonderful Adventures and Exploits.—He slays         24
     Swibdager and his Son Asmund

   The wonderful Story of the Hero continued                       25

   His Death.—He is succeeded by his eldest Son, FRODE I., also    27
     a great Warrior, who carried his Depredations from Russia
     to the British Islands.—Frequent Intercourse between
     Denmark and Britain.—Frode fought and killed a Dragon, who
     brooded over immense Riches, in a Cave

   Takes _London_ by a Stratagem.—Several Sovereigns succeeded,    28
     of whom little is known until the Danish States _elected_
     for their Monarch HODER, a Descendant of the famous

   ODIN, King of the Hellespont, according to Saxo, laid Claim     29
     to Divinity, and was worshipped by most of Europe.—His
     profound Knowledge of Magic.—A Golden Statue presented to
     him by the Kings of the North, and placed by him among the
     Gods.—Deceived by his Wife, Frigga.—Exiles himself for a
     Season, in consequence.—His Power and Divinity usurped
     during his Absence.—Returns, and compels the Usurpers to
     flee the Country

   Mitothin, one of the Usurpers of Odin’s Authority, flees to     30
     Fionia, and is killed by the Inhabitants.—A Plague ensues,
     which was stayed by his Body being exhumed, the Head cut
     off, and a stake driven through the Corpse.—Probably the
     first Vampire on Record.—Snorro’s Account in many Respects
     different from Saxo’s, as above.—The Cause of that
     Difference.—Odin’s Government theocratic.—His perpetual
     Wars.—Always successful.—Called the Father of
     Victory.—Peculiar Veneration attached to his
     Character.—War with the Vanir, his Neighbours

   They cut off the Head of Mimir, one of Odin’s Hostages, and     31
     send it to Asgard.—Odin, by his Magic, converts the Head
     to an Oracle.—He flees the Roman Arms with a Multitude of
     Followers, and advances to the West.—Reduces some States
     in Germany, over which he places his Sons.—Passes
     northward, and fixes his Seat at Odensey—Sends Gefio, one
     of his Prophetesses, to make Converts in the neighbouring
     Regions.—She is successful; marries Skiold, the Son of
     Odin, who reigned over the Danish Islands.—He compels the
     King of Sweden to cede him the eastern Part of that
     Kingdom.—He establishes his Seat at Sigtuna, erects
     Temples, and offers Sacrifices

   His Worship diffused throughout Germany and Scandinavia.—His    32
     extraordinary Qualities.—His wonderful Ship, Skidbladner

   The oracular Head of Mimir, which acquainted him with all he    33
     wished to know, and his two speaking Ravens, which brought
     him Intelligence of all that happened.—His miraculous
     Powers.—He and his Pontiffs worshipped as Gods.—His Laws,
     civil and religious

   Proofs of his Existence from written as well as from            34
     traditionary Testimony

   _Rigs-mal_, one of the Eddaic Poems, resembling in its          38
     Composition the Anglo-Saxon Poem of Bjówolf, throws much
     Light on the heroic Age in the North

   Distinguishes the different Races by which the Country was      39
     successively occupied.—The first Gothic Emigrants drive
     the Finnish Tribes to the Wilds of Norrland, Lapland, and
     Finland.—The Antipathy between the two Races illustrated
     by the Legend of Njördr

   The Sviar and the Goths, by whom they had been preceded,        40
     become one People through the religious Ascendancy of Odin

   Religious Sects in the North.—Junction of the old and new       41
     religions.—The temporal Government of Odin perpetuated
     through his Sons.—Odin the Progenitor of all the great
     Dynasties of the North.—The Mythic Nor, from whom Norway
     took its Name

   Alleged Succession of the Danish Kings.—HODER beloved by        42
     Nanna, daughter of the King of Norway.—Balder, the Son of
     Odin, is enamoured of the same Princess and plans Hoder’s
     Destruction.—Hoder’s Interview with the Fatal Sisters

   He obtains the magic Bracelets and Sword kept by the Satyr      43
     Mimring.—Defeats King Gelder.—He encounters Balder, who
     is assisted by the Gods, with Odin and Thor at their Head

   He defeats them, and obtains the Hand of Nanna.—Is in turn      44
     defeated and dethroned by Balder.—Balder offers human
     Sacrifices.—Hoder again defeated, and compelled to flee to

   Hoder’s second Interview with the Fatal Sisters.—He is again    45
     defeated by Balder.—Receives a magic Belt from Balder’s
     mysterious Purveyors.—Gives Balder a mortal Wound

   Balder’s Death and Funeral.—Balder’s portentous Dream,          46
     according to the latter Edda

   The Descent of Hermod to the Shades, in quest of Balder’s       46
     Soul, with the Story of the famous Horse, Sleipner

   Poetical Description of Hermod’s Descent into the Regions of    49

   The Journey to the Shades attributed to Odin himself, in the    51
     poetical Edda of Saemund the Wise, while Balder was yet
     alive.—The Descent of Odin, and what he saw and heard in
     the Regions below

   Hoder is killed by Bo, the Son of Odin, by the Princess         55
     Rinda.—Death of Odin

   His pompous Funeral.—His Character                              56

   RURIC succeeds his Father Hoder on the Throne of                57
     Denmark.—The alleged Events on which the Tragedy of
     _Hamlet_ is founded, happened in the Reign of this
     Prince.—Hamlet’s Father, Horwendil, Governor of Jutland,
     and a famous Pirate, killed by his Uncle, who marries the

   Hamlet feigns Madness.—Is suspected and feared by his           59
     Uncle.—Kills one of the Courtiers who had been hid in
     order to overhear his Conversation with his Mother.—He
     upbraids his Mother

   Is sent to England with a View to his                           60
     Destruction.—Substitutes the Names of his two Companions
     for his own in the Mandate to the English King, by whom
     they are put to Death

   Marries the English King’s Daughter.—Returns to                 61
     Jutland.—Assumes the Fool.—Burns his Uncle’s Courtiers
     with the Palace, and slays the Fratricide himself

   He is declared his Uncle’s Successor.—His Death in              62
     Battle.—SKIOLD, the Son of Odin, the first Monarch of

   Various Kings in the North.—That Title given to all Chiefs,     63
     Pirates, and others.—The extent of the Authority of any of
     them uncertain

   Rational Conclusion drawn from the foregoing fabulous           65


                                BOOK I.

                     HALF FABULOUS, HALF HISTORIC.

                               CHAPTER I.


                           B.C. 40—A.D. 1014.


                  Confusion and Uncertainty with respect       66
                    to the Kings who reigned in
                    Scandinavia prior to the Christian
                    Era; the Discrepancy continued to the
                    ninth Century

                  Causes of this Discrepancy; Rex Danorum      67
                    applied to the Governors of Jutland,
                    as well as to those of Zealand and
                    Scania; Uncertainty of the Case

                  Little Dependence to be placed on any        68
                    List of Kings given by northern
                    Historians to the present Day; Denmark
                    had three or four Sovereigns at the
                    same Time; difficult to say which was
                    the legitimate Rex Danorum; Adam of
                    Bremen complains of the Uncertainty

                  Little known of these Kings to the ninth     69
                    Century; most of them petty Chiefs;
                    the Danish Islands not united under
                    one Sceptre until the fourth Century;
                    first united under Dan Mykillati; too
                    early a Period assigned to this event;
                    independent States in the Danish
                    Islands as late as the eighth Century

        B.C. 4.   SKIOLD, the reputed Founder of the           70
          to        Danish Monarchy, probably King of
       A.D. 35.     Zealand, with a Superiority over the
                    rest; his Valour. Frode I., a valiant
                    and conquering King, probably joined
                    some one of the Confederations against
                    Rome; his good Deeds and Laws

                  His Laws and Institutions successful;        71
                    the North had numerous Kings in his
                    Age, probably all subordinate to him

                  ARNGRIM, the Hero who shed the greatest      72
                    Lustre on the Reign of Frode; his
                    magic Sword Tyrfing, the Destroyer of
                    Men; Osura, Daughter of Frode; Saxo’s
                    Description of the Finns; their Magic

                  Arngrim’s Conquests; marries Osura;          73
                    their twelve Sons, eminent Pirates,
                    destroyed at Samsoe; Song of the
                    Scalds on the Subject, which throws
                    much light upon the History of the
                    Period; Swafurlam

                  Swafurlam’s rencounter with Dwarfs or        75
                    Fairies; obtains a wonderful Sword

                  Slain by Arngrim, who marries his            76
                    Daughter Eyvor

                  Scaldic Story of their twelve Sons           77

                  All slain; Arngrim’s Granddaughter by        78
                    his eldest Son; Angantyr and Swafa;
                    her extraordinary Character

                  Becomes a Chief of Pirates, under the        79
                    Name of _Herward_; her Boldness and
                    Incantations in the Island of Samsoe

                  Obtains the Magic Sword Tyrfing, which       81
                    had been buried there

                  Her Fame for Valour and Beauty; Marries      82
                    Hafod, the Son of King Godmund; their
                    Issue, two Sons, Angantyr and Heidrek,
                    the former noted for his good, the
                    latter for his mischievous, qualities;
                    Hafod succeeds his Father; Heidrek
                    exiled by his Father; his Mother
                    presents him with the Magic Sword; he
                    slays his Brother with it by rashly
                    drawing it; frees Harald of Sweden
                    from two great Chiefs; marries the
                    Monarch’s Daughter; has a Son, whom he
                    names Angantyr; Tyrfing fatal to
                    Harald; his Wife hangs herself

                  Is slain by the fatal Tyrfing, which is      83
                    drawn by his Slaves; his Son,
                    Angantyr, with it slays his Half
                    Brother, in whose Tomb it is finally

                  ANGANTYR, like all his Race, a Hero by       83
                    Profession; Champions and Duels of the

                  Associations of Heroes sealed with their     84
                    Blood and indissoluble; their Laws and
                    Duties; Rolf’s famous Society of this
                    kind; their necessary Qualifications
                    and Discipline; Exceptions to this
                    Discipline; Abduction common; the

                  Their Turbulence and Bloodshed among         85
                    themselves; often became Bandits

                  FRIDLEIF II. destroys one of these Bands     85

                  Fridleif slays Asmund, King of Norway,       86
                    and seizes upon his Daughter Frogerth;
                    is unfaithful to her; is succeeded by
                    his Son Frode II.; the Name of this
                    Prince, and of his Son _Ingel_, only
                    interesting from their association
                    with the Name of STERKODDER, the
                    Hercules of the North

                  Story, Adventures, and Fame of               87
                    Sterkodder; the Intention of the
                    Deities in forming him was to destroy
                    Wikar, a King of Norway

                  He effects Wikar’s Destruction; becomes      87
                    a Pirate; his Continence and great
                    Fame; his Abstemiousness; probably
                    several of this Name, and their
                    exploits all ascribed to one

                  Kills nine Champions in defence of           88
                    Helga, Sister of Ingel

                  His Revenge on the Murderers of Frode        89

                  His remarkable Death                         90

                  Legend of _Gorm I._ King of Denmark          91

                  Importance of such Legends as                99
                    illustrative of the Opinions of

                  Gorm, according to Saxo, contemporary       100
                    with the first of the Carlovingian
                    Kings, probably King of Jutland;
                    proofs that he was

       794–935.   RAGNAR                                      101

                  Probability that there were two of the      102
                    Name; the Actions of Ragnar and
                    Regnier, a Jutish Pirate, probably
                    confounded; his Death; doubtful
                    whether his Sons revenged his Death,
                    and made Northumberland a Danish State

                  SIGURD II. succeeds Ragnar in Scania and    102
                    the Isles, while Jutland had its
                    separate Kings; Hemming, King of
                    Jutland, contemporary with Sigurd;
                    Hemming succeeded by HARALD, who is
                    exiled by the Sons of Godfrey, turns
                    Christian, and returns in triumph,
                    through the Assistance of Louis le
                    Debonnaire; again, about 828, deprived
                    of his Throne, and passes his future
                    Days in religious Contemplation; his
                    Baptism, and efforts to introduce
                    Christianity in Jutland; St. Anscar;
                    SIGURD, the other King of Denmark, a
                    good and peaceable Prince

         803.     _Harda Canute_ succeeds his Father,         103
                    Sigurd, but according to Saxo, Eric I.

                  Several Kings ruled in Denmark and          104
                    Jutland at the same time; all finally
                    subdued by GORM _the Old_; Gorm’s
                    Conquests; he is defeated by Henry the
                    Fowler, and compelled to admit the
                    Christian Missionaries

                  His good Policy in respect to Civil         106
                    Affairs, yet hostile to the Diffusion
                    of Christianity; married to a
                    Christian Lady; restores the Pagan
                    Temples; slays and exiles the
                    Christian Teachers; his Sons noted
                    Pirates; his Death, in 935 or 941

       935–964.   Harald II. succeeds his Father in 941;      107
                    he assists the Normans; vanquishes and
                    captures the King of France, and
                    reinstates the young Duke of Normandy;
                    places Harald Graafeld on the Throne
                    of Norway; Harald being murdered, he
                    divides Norway into three States,
                    reserving the best to himself; his
                    Expedition against Otho I.

                  Is compelled by the Emperor, with his       108
                    Son Sweyn, to receive Baptism and
                    encourage Christianity

         964.     Proofs that Harald did homage to Otho       108

         964.     Harald joins the rebel Duke of Bavaria      110
                    against Otho II.; the Events of the
                    War as respects Harald doubtful; he
                    fails in an Expedition against Norway;
                    his Son Sweyn rebels against him

                  He flees to Normandy and is restored to     111
                    Part of his Dominions by Duke Richard;
                    is assassinated; his Character, and
                    the Reverence in which he was
                    afterwards held

         991.     SWEYN; he encourages the old Religion,      112
                    and rebuilds many of the Temples;
                    Jomsburg, a famous City founded by
                    Harald, as a piratical Fortress; the
                    Laws of its community; no Christian
                    admitted; Planotoko, Governor of
                    Jomsburg, the Assassin of Harald, had
                    been Tutor to Sweyn; his great Skill
                    in Archery; a similar Story to that of
                    William Tell told of him

                  GWEYN. Much Obscurity and Contradiction     113
                    respecting the early Part of his Reign

                  False Statements of ancient and modern      114
                    Historians respecting him refuted and

       991–993.   Leads an Armament against Hako, the         115
                    Usurper of Norway; his Pirates
                    defeated by Hako

                  And put to death; their resolute            116
                    bearing; the generous Conduct of Eric,
                    the Son of Hako, towards them

       991–1001.  Invasion of England; Brithnoth the          117
                    Governor of Essex slain; Treacherous
                    Conduct of Alfric of Mercia; Sweyn and
                    his Ally, Olaf the Son of Trygve,
                    appear in the Thames with a formidable

                  Their Attack upon London repelled; their    117
                    dreadful Depredations in Essex, Kent,
                    Sussex, and Hampshire; Money paid them
                    by Ethelred; Olaf visits the Court of
                    the Saxon King, and, having been
                    previously baptized, receives the Rite
                    of Confirmation, and visits the Coast
                    of England no more; Sweyn returns
                    Three Years after, and wastes England
                    without Opposition; Returns to contend
                    with Olaf of Norway; the Danes return,
                    1001, exact another heavy Ransom, and
                    procure extensive Estates in many
                    Parts of the Kingdom

      1001–1003.  Massacre of the Danes                       118

                  Cowardly and horrid Manner of it;           118
                    Sweyn’s terrible Retribution

      1003–1009.  Sweyn again visits England, 1004            119

                  But returns in consequence of a Famine      119
                    caused by the former Depredations;
                    Deplorable Cowardice and Imbecility of
                    the English King and Nobles; Ethelred
                    marries Emma of Normandy; his brutal
                    Conduct to her draws upon him the
                    Hostility of Duke Richard;

         1010.    Danegelt exacted as an annual Tribute;      120
                    the Danes possess sixteen English
                    Counties; exact 48,000_l._ for sparing
                    the others; recommence their
                    Atrocities; St. Elphege’s Description
                    of the woful Condition of the Country

                  Their Cruelties in Kent; Destruction of     121
                    the City and Cathedral of Canterbury;
                    admirable Conduct of St. Elphege; his

      1013–1014.  In 1013 Sweyn receives the Submission of    122
                    all England as their Sovereign;
                    Ethelred flees to Normandy; Sweyn dies
                    or is killed one Year after his
                    Elevation; his Character

                               CHAP. II.


                           A.C. 70-A.D. 1001.


                  Difficulty attending all Researches into    124
                    the early History of Sweden

                  The Gothones were in Possession of          126
                    Sweden previously to the Arrival of
                    Odin and the Swiones; the People long
                    under different Rulers; the
                    Discrepancy in the Lists of Swedish
                    Kings accounted for

       A.C. 40.   The Race of Odin, the Pontiff Kings of      127
          to        the Swedes who reigned at Upsal.
       A.D. 14.     _Niord_ succeeds his Father Odin as
                    Prophet, Priest, and King in the
                    Capital of Sigtuna; Numerous Kings in
                    Sweden at the Time; Skiold, the Son of
                    Odin, King of Ledra in Zealand; Freyr,
                    Pontiff Chief of Upsal; Heimdal, over
                    the Temple at Hemenbiorg; Thor, at
                    Thrudvang and Balder Breidablik; The
                    happy Reign of Niord

                  His Death and Funeral; He is worshipped     128
                    as a Deity; Succeeded by his Son
                    _Freyr_; Freyr’s prosperous Reign; He
                    builds the great Temple at Upsal; more
                    esteemed than his Predecessors; his
                    Surname of _Yngve_ adopted by his
                    Posterity, the _Ynglings_, as a proud
                    Distinction; a magnificent Tomb
                    erected for him; is succeeded by
                    _Freya_, the last of the Divine
                    Personages who accompanied Odin from
                    Asia; her Celebrity while living and
                    after Death; her Statue placed with
                    those of Odin and Thor; succeeded by
                    FIOLNER, the Son of Freyr; Fiolner’s
                    accidental Death while on a friendly
                    Visit to Frode I. King of Denmark

                  _Swegdir_ goes with twelve Nobles to        128
                    Asia, to inquire into the Family and
                    Exploits of Odin, where he found many
                    of his Blood; he marries a Lady in the
                    Land of the Vanir, and after five
                    Years returns to Upsal; his Second
                    Journey to Asia; Legend of his Death

        34–220.   VANLAND succeeds his Father Swegdir; his    129
                    warlike Character; he marries the
                    Daughter of a Swede established among
                    the Finns, whom he soon abandons

                  He refuses to return to his Wife, and       130
                    is, in consequence, destroyed by

                  VISBUR, the Son of Vanland by his           130
                    neglected Wife, succeeds; he dismisses
                    his Wife and two Sons, and takes
                    another; Donald, his Son by the second
                    Marriage; the Sons of the repudiated
                    Queen, Gisle and Ondur, claim their
                    Mother’s Dowry of Visbur, especially a
                    precious Necklace, which is refused;
                    they apply to Hulda the Witch, who had
                    destroyed the Father of Visbur; she
                    promises to destroy him also, and to
                    leave his Doom to the whole of the

                  He, with his House, is burned by Gisle      131
                    and Ondur

                  _Domald_ succeeds; is sacrificed by the     131
                    People to propitiate the Gods and
                    induce them to avert a Famine;
                    _Domar_, the Son of Domald; _Dygve_,
                    the Son of Domar

                  DAG THE WISE, the Son of Dygve,             131
                    celebrated in Northern History; his
                    wonderful Sparrow; his Death

                  AGNE, the Son of Dag, succeeds; he slays    131
                    the Finnish King, and makes his
                    Daughter Skiolfa his Wife; is, while
                    drunk in his Tent, hanged by her

                  ALARIC and ERIC, his Sons, divide the       132
                    supreme Power between them; they
                    destroy each other. YNGVE and ALF, the
                    Sons of Alaric, divide the Government
                    between them, and also destroy each

                  HUGLEIK, the Son of Alf, succeeds; he is    133
                    slain, and the Swiones subdued by
                    Hako, a Danish Sea King; Hako is slain
                    by Eric and Jorund, the Sons of
                    Hugleik; Eric also slain, and JORUND
                    hailed as the Monarch of the Swedes;
                    he is defeated and hung by Gylang, the
                    Son of Gudlaug, King of Halogia, and
                    is succeeded by AUN, surnamed _‘Hinn’
                    Gamle_, or The Old; Kings of the Danes
                    contemporary with Aun; he is expelled
                    his Kingdom by Halfdan

                  Returns to his Kingdom; consults the        134
                    Gods respecting the Duration of his
                    Life; sacrifices his Sons on the Altar
                    of Odin; Fables respecting him

       448–545.   He is succeeded by his Son EGIL;            134
                    Rebellion of Tunne, a Slave, and
                    formerly Treasurer to Aun

                  The Rebel defeated by Egil, with the        135
                    Assistance of Danish Troops, for which
                    he promised to pay Tribute; Egil is
                    killed by a wild Bull, and is
                    succeeded by _Ottar_, his Son, who,
                    refusing to pay the Tribute to
                    Denmark, is defeated and slain, and is
                    succeeded by his Son ADILS, a noted
                    Pirate; he marries Ursa, a Saxon Lady,
                    his Captive; is expelled his Kingdom
                    by Helge, Son of Halfdan of Ledra; the
                    Victor marries Ursa, and has by her a
                    Son, Rolf Krake

                  Ursa discovered to be Helge’s Daughter,     136
                    and returns to Adils; his Death by a
                    Fall from his Horse; he is succeeded
                    by his Son EYSTEIN; his troublesome
                    Reign; the Sea Kings; he is burnt,
                    with his House, by Solvi, a Jutish
                    Chief, who is killed in his turn by
                    the People of Sigtuna

                  YNGVAR succeeds his father Eystein;         136
                    leads many piratical Expeditions;
                    killed on the Coast of Esthonia, 545

       545–623.   BRAUT-ONUND, a wise Prince, next fills      136
                    the Throne of the Ynglings; his great
                    agricultural Improvements

                  He is killed by an Avalanche, and           137
                    succeeded by INGIALD ILLRADA, his Son;
                    fabulous Account of his Youth; he
                    burns Six Reguli and Jarls on the
                    Night of his Inauguration, and by that
                    atrocious Act becomes absolute Master
                    of all Swionia, except Sudermania, the
                    Dominion of King Grammar

                  Grammar enters into an Alliance with        138
                    Hiorvardar, a famous Sea King, to whom
                    he gives his Daughter Hildegund;
                    characteristic Description of the
                    Wedding Feast; Ingiald defeated by the
                    Allies; Peace between them; Ingiald
                    treacherously burns Grammar and
                    Hiovardar in a Country House

       623–630.   Asa, the wicked Daughter of Ingiald,        139
                    persuades her Husband, the King of
                    Scania, to murder his Brother, Halfdan
                    III., King of Zealand; joins in the
                    Destruction of her Husband; flees to
                    Upsal; Ivar Vidfadme, to revenge the
                    Murder of his Father, invades Swionia;
                    Ingiald, by the Advice of his
                    Daughter, in despair, burns her, his
                    Guests, the House, and himself, and is
                    succeeded by _Ivar Vidfadme_, while
                    Olaf _Trætelia_, the Son Ingiald, the
                    Last of the Ynglings, retires to the
                    Desert Lands North and West of the
                    Vener Lake, and by clearing them,
                    founds the State of Vermeland; he is
                    the Ancestor of Harald Harfager

                  Reflections on the Crimes and               140
                    Misfortunes of the Ynglings; Sweden
                    henceforth under the Sway of the
                    Skioldungs, also of Odin’s Race

                  The Goths and Swiones always under          141
                    different Kings; the more powerful
                    Monarch always called King of the
                    Goths; the Kings of all the Provinces,
                    except Jutland, confounded

                  Confused Chronology of Northern             142

                  Gylfo, King of the Goths at the Period      143
                    of Odin’s Arrival in the North

                  The Swiar become the dominant Caste more    144
                    by the moral Influence of Odin and his
                    Successors than by Force; the
                    different Races in Scandinavia
                    probably from Asiatic Scythia

                  Cause of the rapid Progress of the          145
                    Odinic Religion; the moral Influence
                    of the Pontiff Sovereigns often
                    resisted by the Gothic Kings, who
                    frequently slew and dethroned them

        70–260.   The Line of the Gothic Kings imperfectly    146
                    recorded; one of the Gothlands the
                    Seat of Gylfo’s Empire; succeeded by
                    _Frode_; Frode by _Sigtrug_; Sigtrug
                    slain by Gram, a Danish King, who
                    rescues his Daughter from a Giant,
                    marries her, and obtains the Gothic
                    Kingdom; like the Daughter of Alcinos,
                    he found her washing with her Maidens;
                    Gram is slain by Swibdager of Norway,
                    who seizes upon Gothia and Scania;
                    Swibdager slain by Hadding, the Son of
                    Gram; Asmund, the Son and Successor of
                    Swibdager, also slain by Hadding, who
                    seizes upon his States; Hadding is
                    defeated by Uffo, the Son of Asmund;
                    Uffo treacherously murdered by
                    Hadding, who gives the vacant Throne
                    to _Hunding_, Uffo’s Brother

                  Doubts as to the Reign of Madding;          147
                    Ragnar, the Son of Uffo, ascends the
                    Gothic Throne; Gothland invaded by
                    Frode of Denmark, who dies in the
                    Expedition; Death of Ragnar; the
                    Throne seized by HOLWARD or HODBROD;
                    he invades Denmark, and kills Roe, one
                    of her joint Kings; is mortally
                    wounded by Helge, the remaining Danish
                    King, who makes a Prize of his
                    Kingdom; ATIL I. marries Helge’s
                    Daughter, and is raised to the Throne;
                    their Son HODER becomes in the sequel
                    King of Scania and Gothland

                  RURIC, the Son of Hoder, King of Scania     148
                    and Gothland; ATTIL II. assassinated;
                    _Hogmor_ and _Hogrin_, joint Kings,
                    killed in Battle with the Danes;
                    succeeded by Alaric or Ebric Prince of
                    the Swedes; the Goths and Swedes at
                    this Time united; Confusion of
                    Chronology; Halfdan; Siward; Eric;
                    Halfdan II.; Ragnald; Asmund; Haquin
                    (or Hako); the Story of Birnam Wood,
                    admitted by Shakspeare into the
                    Tragedy of Macbeth, taken from a
                    similar Story told by Hako, while
                    marching to revenge the Death of his
                    Brothers upon the Danish King

       448–623.   EGIL AUNIFF, King of the Goths and          149
                    Swedes; Identity of many of the Kings
                    mentioned by Snorro and the Swedish
                    Writers; the Subject rendered more

       623–794.   The four next Kings of the Swedes and       150
                    Goths also Kings of the Danes; Ivar
                    Vidfadme; his Conquests extend to

                  HARALD HILDETAND, Grandson and Successor    151
                    of Ivar, exceeded him in Glory; his
                    Valour; his Death in Battle against
                    his Nephew, Sigurd Ring

                  Doubts as to the Kings who reigned          152
                    between Harald and _Ragnar Lodbrog_

       794–1001.  _Ragnar_ succeeded on the Throne of         154
                    Sweden by his Son Biorn I., who
                    tolerates the Christian Mission,
                    allowing St. Anscar to exercise his
                    Functions unmolested; Olaf, a doubtful
                    King; Eric I., the Son of Biorn; Eric
                    II.; Edmund; Biorn II.; no Records of
                    their Reigns; Biorn III. (923) enjoyed
                    a long reign; Eric IV. (993) a longer

                  ERIC V. closes the List of Pagan Kings;     154
                    the Confusion of Swedish History from
                    the eighth to the tenth Century; Cause
                    of that Confusion; Eric IV., the
                    Victorious, King of the Goths and

                  Eric V., King, surnamed _Arsael_, King      155
                    of the two Provinces; embraces
                    Christianity; much Obscurity over his

                               CHAP. III.


                        ABOUT 70 B.C.-A.D. 1030.


                  Early Chiefs of Norway                      156

        630–640   Olaf Trætelia lays the Foundation of        158
                    Vermeland; put to Death as the
                    supposed Cause of a Famine; his
                    Character; his Children by the
                    Daughter of Halfdan, King of Soleyr

        640–840   Halfdan, the Son of Olaf, is demanded by    160
                    the Swedes for their King; his
                    Grandfather refuses to surrender him;
                    a Battle ensues, and the King of
                    Soleyr is slain; Halfdan governs both
                    States; conquers Raumarik; marries the
                    Daughter of the King of Hedmark;
                    acquires half that State, and subdues
                    part of Westfold

        730–840   EYSTEIN, the Son of Halfden, succeeds to    161
                    the united Crowns of Raumarik and
                    Westfold; becomes a Pirate; is killed
                    in one of his Expeditions, and is
                    succeeded by his Son, Halfdan II.

                  His Inconsistency of Character; is          162
                    succeeded by his Son _Gudred_; he
                    receives as the Dowry of his Wife part
                    of Vingulmark; demands as his second
                    Wife the Daughter of Harald, Chief of
                    Adger, who, refusing Compliance, falls
                    in Battle, and Adger becomes the Prey
                    of Halfdan; is murdered; his Sons Olaf
                    and Halfdan divide his States

        840–850   HALFDAN THE BLACK only a Year old when      163
                    his Father died; his Territories
                    (except Adger, his maternal
                    Inheritance) seized by Olaf; at
                    eighteen demands and obtains part of
                    his Inheritance; obtains by Force half
                    of Vingulmark; recovers Raumarik;
                    defeats the King of Hedmark; but
                    grants his Brother one half of
                    Hedmark; subdues two small States
                    bordering on Hedmark

         850.     Marries the Daughter of the King of         164
                    Sogne; on her Death and that of her
                    Son, takes Possession of that State;
                    defeated by some Chiefs of Vingulmark;
                    is Victor in his turn, and subdues the
                    whole Province

        852–863   SIGURD HIORT, King of Ringarik, killed      165
                    by _Hako_ the Berserk and his Company,
                    who capture Guthrum the Son, and
                    Ragnilda the Daughter, of Sigurd; they
                    are rescued by Halfdan

                  Who marries Ragnilda; Issue, Harald         166
                    Harfager; Character of Harald the
                    Black; his Laws; wonderful Vision
                    preceding his Death; he is drowned

         863.     HARALD HARFAGER a Child at his Father’s     167
                    Death; his Youth is taken advantage of
                    by the neighbouring Reguli; is
                    defended by his Uncle Guthrum

        865–868   His General and Minister; his Enemies       168
                    defeated and spoiled of their
                    Territories; he demands the Hand of
                    Gyda of the King of Hordaland; her
                    proud Reply

                  Harald vows never to cut or comb his        169
                    Hair until he has subdued all Norway;
                    subdues many Districts, in which he
                    establishes the feudal System; his
                    local Administration and Revenue

        867–882   Is joined by Jarl Hako; subdues Orkadal,    170
                    Strinda, Spordal, Veradal, Scaunia,
                    Sparbyggia, and the Islands in the
                    West; the two Kings of Naumdal submit,
                    and are made Jarls; returns to
                    Drontheim, builds a Town as his Seat
                    of Government, and marries Asa,
                    Daughter of Jarl Hako; his military
                    Preparations and System of Discipline

                  He subdues the Möre Tylk, south of          171
                    Drontheim, and slays their Chiefs;
                    makes the celebrated Rognevald, Father
                    of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy,
                    their Governor; Sunmore and the Fiords

                  Quarrels among his Chiefs                   172

        882–884   War with Eric of Sweden, who conquers       172
                    Vermeland; Interview between Harald
                    and Eric; strange Expedient of Aki,
                    their Host

                  Resented by Eric, by whom he is             173
                    treacherously slain; mutual
                    Hostilities; Conspiracy of the subdued
                    Reguli against Harald

                  The combined Chiefs defeated, and the       174
                    celebrated Victory of the Bay of
                    Hafursfiord gained by Harald

                  The Conspirators go into Exile, or          175
                    become Pirates, and infest his Coasts,
                    and those of Britain; Norway being
                    conquered, he cuts his Locks, and
                    obtains the Epithet of Harfager or
                    Fair-haired; marries Gyda, who bears
                    him a Daughter and four Sons

                  Wonderful Story of his Marriage with        176
                    Snæfrida, the Daughter of a Finnish
                    Magician, who bears him four Sons,
                    Sigurd, Halfdan, Gudred, Rognevald;
                    miraculous Story of her Death, and
                    Harald’s Infatuation

                  He dismisses his four Sons, by the Witch    177
                    Snæfrida; receives them again at the
                    Intercession of Jarl Hiodulf; they
                    excel in military Exercises; his
                    numerous Wives and Offspring

                  The Crimes and Ambition of most of his      178
                    Sons shortened their Days; the Sons of
                    Snæfrida burn Rognevald

                  Harald appoints his Sons Kings over the     179
                    Provinces; Thorgils and Frode conquer
                    Dublin; end their Days tragically

                  Eric Blodöxe burns his Brother              180
                    _Rognevald_, with eighty pretended
                    Wizards; slays his Brother _Biorn_,
                    King of Westfold

        910–913   Harald’s unaccountable Attachment to        181
                    Eric; Eric’s early piratical
                    Depredations; his marvellous Adventure
                    in Finland with Gunhilda and two
                    Magicians; he marries Gunhilda

        930–934   Gudred, the Son of Harald, lost at Sea;     182
                    Harald resigns the Imperial Dignity to

                  He is opposed by Halfdan the Black, with    183
                    Olaf, the Brother of the murdered
                    Biorn, King of Westfold; Harald dies
                    at the age of eighty; his Character;
                    military Prowess almost his only great

        934–936   Hostilities between Eric and his            185
                    Brothers, Olaf and Sigurd; they are
                    defeated and slain; the People look
                    for a Deliverer from the Tyranny of
                    Eric in the Person of Hako, who had
                    been educated in the Court of
                    Athelstane of England, where he then

                  Hako, being supplied with Ships and         185
                    Money, sails for Norway

        937–946   He lands at Drontheim; is proclaimed        186
                    King in a General Assembly of Freemen;
                    he is joined by many Chiefs in the
                    Uplands; he makes Sigurd King of

                  And Drygve King of Raumarik and             187
                    Vingulmark; Eric, abandoned by the
                    People, flees to the Orkneys; he
                    ravages the Scottish Coast; he
                    embraces Christianity, and receives
                    the Government of Northumbria from

                  His continual Ravages on the Coasts of      188
                    Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; his Fame
                    draws many Norwegians, Danes, and
                    Swedes to his Standard; he is absent
                    from Northumbria during the Reign of
                    Edmund the Elder; returns in the first
                    Year of Edred’s Reign, and lays waste
                    the English Coast; is defeated and
                    slain by Edred; Northumbria becomes
                    henceforth an English Province

        939–940   Hako’s Hostilities with the Danes and       188
                    Gothlanders, whom he defeats

                  The piratical Sons of Eric, encouraged      189
                    by the Danish King, commit
                    Depredations on the Coasts of Norway;
                    King Trygve retaliates upon Denmark;
                    Hako encourages Christianity in
                    Norway; sends to England for a Bishop
                    and Priests

                  Pagan Sacrifices; Sigurd’s Zeal for the     190
                    Religion of Odin

         941.     Hako proposes the Establishment of the      191
                    Christian Religion in a National
                    Assembly; is opposed by Gaulandal

        942–956   Hako’s Unwillingness to comply with the     192
                    Rites of Paganism

                  He is compelled partially to comply, and    193
                    vows Revenge

        956–958   The Sons of Eric invade his Coasts; he      194
                    defeats them, and kills Guthrum with
                    his own Hand; Law for the Protection
                    of the Coasts

                  Eric’s Sons again invade Norway; are        195
                    defeated by Hako

         958.     The Sons of Eric again defeated by Hako,    194
                    who is mortally wounded; he declares
                    them his Heirs; dies; probably died a
                    Pagan; his Character

        963–969    HARALD Graafeld, eldest Son of Eric,       196
                    declared King

                  His Power limited by five Chiefs, or        198
                    Kings; he procures the Murder of

                  He betrays and murders King Trygve, and     199
                    King Gudred

         969.     Unpopularity of the Sons of Eric; two of    200
                    them killed by the People

                  Harald betrayed, and killed in Battle;      201
                    Harald of Denmark becomes supreme
                    Monarch of Norway

                  Deeds of Jarl Hako, Son of Sigurd,          202
                    Governor of seven Norwegian Provinces;
                    joins Harald against Otho; both
                    compelled to receive Baptism by the

                  He relapses into Paganism; proclaims his    203
                    Independence; fabulous Guardians of
                    Iceland; Harald dies

                  His Son Sweyn assails Norway; Story of      204
                    Harald Grenske and Sigfrida; he is
                    killed by her; Birth of his posthumous
                    Son, Olaf

        993–995   Hako’s licentious Conduct; Olaf, the Son    205
                    of Trygve

                  Flight of his Mother Astridda; romantic     206
                    Circumstances attending his Birth;
                    their miraculous Escapes; they find an
                    Asylum with Hako the Old

        964–966   Gunhilda’s deceitful Attempts to obtain     208
                    Possession of his Person

        976–984   Astridda flees to her Brother Sigurd, to    209
                    the Court of Waldemar, King of
                    Gardarik; they are captured by
                    Pirates, and sold

                  Mother and Son separated; Olaf becomes      210
                    his Master’s Favourite; with his
                    Foster-brother Thorgils, redeemed by
                    his Uncle Sigurd, who accidentally
                    discovers them, and introduces them at
                    the Court of his Master; his
                    Education; becomes a Pirate at twelve
                    Years of Age; protects the Coasts of
                    Gardarik; in favour with the King; he
                    pursues his Fortunes on the Deep

        985–994   His great Fame; he marries the Widow of     211
                    Duke Borislaf of Pomerania, and
                    protects her Dominions; treacherous
                    Attempt on his Life

                  Which he defeats, with the Slaughter of     212
                    his Enemies; he ravages the Coasts of
                    the Baltic; assists the Emperor
                    against the Danes; his Aversion to
                    Idolatry; he returns to Pomerania

                  His Wife dies; he leaves Pomerania; a       213
                    Christian, yet a Pirate; Visits the
                    Coasts of Britain; marries an Irish

        967–993   Fate of Astridda after her Capture; she     214
                    is ransomed by a noble Pirate of
                    Norway, whom she marries

        995–996   Snares laid for Olaf by Hako of Norway,     215
                    who employs Thorer, a Pirate, to
                    entrap him

                  Olaf sails for Norway; compels the Jarl     216
                    of Orkney to embrace Christianity, and
                    do him Homage

                  He discovers Thorer’s Treachery, and        217
                    slays the Traitor; Hako’s licentious
                    Conduct causes a Conspiracy of the
                    Nobles against him

         995.     Romantic Adventures of Hako and his         218
                    Slave; Dream in the Cave; Death of
                    Erleng, Son of Hako

                  Second Dream in the Cave; Hako and Kark     219
                    repair to the House of Thora, and are
                    concealed in a subterraneous Recess;
                    they are pursued by Olaf; Hako killed
                    by his Slave

                  Character of Jarl Hako                      222

                  Olaf, now King of Norway, commences his     222
                    Persecution of Idolaters

        997–999   Olaf and the Magicians; he is honoured      224
                    by a Visit from Odin

         998.     Opposition which his religious Zeal         226
                    encounters from the Pagans; politic
                    Manner in which he evaded the Demand
                    of his Chiefs that he should sacrifice
                    to the Gods

                  He overthrows the Idols in the great        227
                    Temple of Drontheim; individual

         999.     He proceeds on a missionary Tour into       228
                    Helogia; Legend concerning Bishop
                    Sigurd; Destruction of a noted Pagan

                  Atrocious Manner in which, through his      230
                    Poet Halfrod, he punishes a Chief who
                    had refused to embrace Christianity

                  His Brutality offends Sigrida, a Swedish    232
                    Princess, who devotes her future Life
                    to Revenge; marries a Danish Princess

       999–1000   His new Wife persuades him to equip an      234
                    Armament for the Coast of Pomerania;
                    Sweden and Denmark oppose him; he is
                    defeated and slain

                  Character of this Monarch                   235

       1000–1012  Division of Norway by the Conquerors        236

                  Youth of St. Olaf                           237

       1007–1014  He becomes a Sea King; his Adventures on    238
                    several Maritime Coasts, especially on
                    those of Finland and England

         1012.    He returns to Norway, and captures Hako     240
                    the Jarl, the Lieutenant of the Danish
                    King; proceeds into the Uplands; his
                    Reception by his Mother; curious
                    Picture of domestic Manners

         1014.    He consults with his Friends as to the      242
                    meditated Seizure of the Throne, and
                    is encouraged by them to proceed

                  He is promised Support by the Upland        243
                    Kings, obtains Possession of Nidaros,
                    but is expelled by Sweyn, another Jarl

         1015.    His Victory over his domestic Enemies,      245
                    and consequent Recognition as Monarch
                    of Norway

         1016.    His legal and religious Reforms; his        246
                    punctual Attendance at public Worship
                    the chief Cause of his subsequent

                  His Disputes with Sweden; he hangs the      247
                    Ambassadors of that Prince, and
                    encroaches on her Frontiers

         1017.    Negotiations for Peace at the Court of      249
                    the Swede long fruitless; Diet of the
                    Kingdom; bold Language of the
                    venerable Thorgnyr; Olaf compelled to
                    promise Obedience to the Wish of his

         1018.    Olaf of Sweden resolves to evade his        252
                    Promise of marrying his Daughter
                    Ingigerda to Olaf of Norway; Rage of
                    the latter; he clandestinely marries
                    Astridda, another Daughter of the
                    Swedish King

                  Reconciliation between the two Kings,       255
                    who play at Dice for a Frontier

                  Zeal of St. Olaf in the Diffusion of        255
                    Christianity; a Conspiracy against him
                    by the Pagan Kings of the Uplands; it
                    is discovered, and the Actors punished

         1019.    Ruric, one of the Captive Kings whom        257
                    Olaf had blinded, plots his
                    Destruction; Banishment of the Royal

      1020–1021.  Severity of Olaf against the secret         259
                    Pagans of Naumdal and Drontheim

         1021.    He is equally severe in the Uplands;        261
                    Opposition of Gunbrund, King of the
                    Dales; dispersed by Olaf; new Pagan
                    reinforcements; Interview in the
                    Defiles; the Idol Thor broken to
                    pieces by the Followers of the Saint;
                    Baptism of the foolish Wretches

       1022–1025  Furious Persecution of the Pagans           264

       1026–1027  Canute the Great threatens the Invasion     265
                    of Norway; St. Olaf combines his Fleet
                    with that of Sweden; Hostilities on
                    the Coasts of Zealand and Scania

         1027.    Canute arrives in the North; orders the     267
                    Assassination of Ulf, his

       1027–1028  St. Olaf finds Treachery in his             268
                    Councils; Lukewarmness of the People;
                    his great Unpopularity the Result of
                    his own Misconduct

       1028–1029  Triumphant Invasion of Canute, who is       270
                    acknowledged Monarch of Norway; Olaf
                    flees with Precipitation, first into
                    Sweden, and then into Russia

         1029.    His good Reception by the King and Queen    271
                    of Holmgard; is at length enabled to
                    return into Sweden

         1030.    Aided by Swedish Forces, he returns         272
                    towards Norway; his unfavourable
                    reception by his former Subjects; he
                    dies in Battle

                  Character of this precious Saint            273

                               CHAP. IV.


                               SECTION I.

                    IN ENGLAND, FRANCE, AND IRELAND.


                  Early Appearance of the Scandinavian        276
                    Pirates on the Coasts of the Roman
                    Provinces and in Ireland

                  Causes which led to the voluntary or        278
                    compulsory Expatriation of the
                    Northmen:—Poverty of the Soil,
                    Insufficiency of Food, Expertness in
                    the Management of small Vessels

                  Progress of Piracy in the North             279

                  Domestic Piracy gives rise to maritime      280
                    Expeditions into the South

                  The Roman Provinces the chief Objects of    283
                    Plunder at a very early Age

                  Expeditions of the Saxons and Northmen      283
                    to England

                  Foundations of the Saxon Kingdoms in        285

                  On the Degree of Reliance to be placed      286
                    in the Statements of Saxo Grammaticus,
                    respecting the early Communications
                    between Denmark and England

                  Extract from Mr. Turner, on this            287
                    Subject, and Comments thereupon

        794–806   Depredations in Northumbria; Danish         289
                    Kingdom in that Province; heroic
                    Behaviour of the Coldingham Nuns

        868–876   Graphic Account of the Destruction of       291
                    Croyland Monastery

        870–924   Transactions in Northumbria                 294

        924–934   Splendid Victory of Brunanburgh             296

        400–840   Earliest Depredations of the Northmen in    296

         840.     Hastings, the Veteran Pirate, arrives in    297

        842–844   Havoc in France and Spain                   298

        845–859   Ravages in France; Hastings sails to        299
                    Italy; he surprises the City of Luna

        858–863   Numerous piratical Bands in France;         301
                    Hastings returns, and on the Condition
                    of renouncing Piracy, is created Count
                    de Chartres

        863–876   Continued Excesses in the different         303
                    Provinces of France

                  Early Life of Rollo                         304

        876–888   His Expedition to France                    306

        888–896   Faithlessness of the Normans                308

        896–909   Great Successes of Rollo                    308

        910–912   He is created Duke of Normandy              310

                  Advantage of the Policy of the French       311
                    Court in this respect

                  First Appearance of the Northmen in         312

        795–820   Their early Progress was rapid, and for     314
                    some Time they met with little

        820–848   Progress of the Northmen                    315

        842–879   Various Successes, with alternate           317

       872–1000   Rapid Decline of the Scandinavian Power     319
                    in Ireland

       1000–1014  Its ultimate Destruction                    320

                  APPENDIX                                    321

                  FOOTNOTES                                   328









INQUIRIES into the origin of nations have never been productive of much
good. Over that of all, with the single exception of the Jews—an
exception which we owe to inspiration—a cloud hangs, that no learning,
no criticism can penetrate. It is easy to be speculative—it is easy to
be ingenious—it is easy to make a considerable parade of learning by
citing the opinions of various writers, and by attempting to show how
little dependence is to be placed on any one of them; but, though the
vanity of an author may be thus gratified, his labour must be useless.
If he has not authority or legitimate inference for what he advances, he
is worse than uselessly, he is perniciously employed: he is wasting his
own time and that of his readers, and he is involving the subject, which
he ought to elucidate, in greater confusion than it was before. Thus
every age and every writer adds to the mass of fable, or at least of
uncertainty, until the truth is for ever hidden beneath it.

These observations especially apply to northern history. Yet, dark and
uncertain as this subject is, and monstrous as are the hypotheses which
native ingenuity has framed respecting it, curiosity will be gratified
with a mere glimpse at them. Thus, in regard to the SWEDES, we shall
find their origin wrapt in an obscurity deep as that which covers the
cradle of most other people. Many are the fables which grave historians,
listening only to tradition, or wresting to a certain purpose the words
of some obscure writer, or confounding the actions of many people, or
misled by a fancied analogy and similarity of names, have perpetuated on
this subject. That sage authority, the archbishop of Upsal, has no doubt
that Noah was king of the whole earth; that he settled in Scythia, which
was inhabited a century before Italy; that his son Japhet, to whom
Europe fell, spread his colonies still farther to the west; that Magog,
the son of Japhet, was the first chief that colonised Sweden and
Finland; that from Sweno, the son of Magog, sprung the Swedes, and from
Gothar or Gog, another son, the Goths; that Thor, German, and Ubbo,
brothers of Sweno, and his great vassals, were successful propagators of
mankind; that Ubbo, who succeeded his brother Gothar, founded the city
of Upsal, the most ancient metropolis of the north; that Siggo,
successor of Ubbo, and the fifth king of the Goths, called Sigtuna into
existence; that Eric, grandson of Gothar, and the sixth king of the
Goths, began to reign about four hundred years after the universal
deluge, and conferred great splendour on those northern regions; that,
after his death, idolatry began in the north, the magnificent temple of
Upsal being erected in honour of Thor, Odin, Frigga, and other
divinities; that the Swiones or Swedes, and the Gothi or Goths, as being
sprung from different roots, were frequently under different sceptres,
though both regarding themselves as kindred, and for many generations
living in harmony with each other; that, after the introduction of
idolatry, this peaceful disposition began to be impaired, and in the
course of a few reigns it wholly disappeared; that the Finns, Jutes,
Gothones, Swiones, and other neighbouring people, became at length so
numerous and so powerful, as to pillage the coasts of Sweden; that, to
oppose them, no less than to procure the necessaries of life, which
long-continued intestine wars had rendered very scarce, a large army was
raised and a powerful fleet equipped, in about nine hundred years after
the deluge; that the expedition, which extended along the southern no
less than the northern shores of the Baltic, from Holstein to the
confines of Lithuania, gave rise to a new kingdom; that at this period
the empire of the Goths, comprising so many people beyond the bounds of
Scandinavia, was one of the most powerful in the world, notwithstanding
the fact that the conquered provinces on the European continent were
subject to their own king (to him who had led the expedition from
Sweden, and to his successors), while Sweden obeyed another king who had
been left at home with the necessary authority; that the new empire, the
seat of which was in Poland or Hungary, sent off its conquering swarms
into Asia and Egypt; that, the regions of the Goths being too extensive
for the government of one man, they at length elected rulers independent
of one another, and thus broke this vast empire into numerous fragments;
that the origin of the Hungarian dynasty, which was purely Gothic, added
to the weakness of the race; that, while these events were passing in
Europe and Asia, the Swedish monarchy subsisted, though weakened by the
emigration of its chief warriors; that this diminution, alike of
population and strength, emboldened the Danes, who had hitherto been
tributary to the more northern kingdom, to assume the offensive, but
being themselves assailed by the Saxons, and unable to resist that
martial people, they eagerly submitted to the Swedes, and chose Dan, a
Swedish prince, the son of Humel, or Humble, the sixteenth native king
of the Goths, to rule over them; that this prince gave his name to the
Danish kingdom, while his brother Angul, the first king of the
_English_, left his name to that people; that Dan was succeeded by
Lother his son, and Lother by Skiold,—while, in Sweden, Humble was
followed by Gothilas and Sigtrug; that Gro, the daughter of Sigtrug,
became the wife of Gram, son of Skiold, king of Denmark, but contrary to
the wishes alike of her father Sigtrug and of the Swedes; that her
abduction by Gram led to a war between the Danes and the Swedes, in
which the latter were vanquished; that Scarin, the successor of Sigtrug,
was slain in battle by Gram; that, on his death, Swibdager, king of
Norway, was elected king of the Goths and the Swedes, who detested their
conqueror and the whole Danish nation,—a detestation which was heartily
returned; that, in revenge for the rape of Gro, a daughter of Gram was
carried away into Norway; that Gram, arming to revenge the injury, was
defeated and slain by Swibdager, who, however, had the generosity to
place Guthrum, son of Gram, over the Danes; that they remained subject
to the Swedes and Goths until Hadding rose against Asmund, the
twenty-first king of the latter, and delivered his country from
subjection. For these more recent events, for all subsequent to Skiold,
the good archbishop has scarcely any other authority than Saxo, the
Danish historian, whose facts, however, he does not scruple to alter
whenever the honour of his country is concerned.[1]

So much for fable,—at least in regard to the greater portion of this
rapid condensation of the archbishop’s history. If we had not already
had enough of this ingenious trifling, the _Atlantica_ of Olaus Rudbeck
would supply us with enough to fill many such volumes as the present.
This writer far outdoes the prelate, whom he exceeds alike in
imagination and knowledge of tradition. To him the reader who may be
fond of the marvellous, who may delight in traditionary lore, and who
may wish to see on how slight a foundation the most gigantic theories
can be erected, may have recourse.[2]

In claims to a remote origin NORWAY is by no means behind the former
kingdom. According to Torfœus, one of the most learned, and, considering
that he lived in recent times, least critical of mankind, the population
of the whole country has been derived from four distinct sources. 1. Of
these the giants were the most ancient. These, this historiographer
contends to have been really what they are called, viz., much superior
in bulk to the rest of mankind; and not that evil spirits, by magical
rites, were permitted to effect such appearances. Though he rejects, as
pure romance, the stories of many giants alleged to have been seen in
comparatively modern times, he is sure that such a race did once inhabit
the north; and he is inclined to derive them from Shem, the son of Noah.
That they once lived, that their bones are still to be found in several
regions of the world, that they may now live in Patagonia or some other
country, cannot, he thinks, be disputed. We read of giants in Scripture;
who, therefore, can doubt of their existence? As we have already
intimated, he represents, as old women’s fables, all the stories,
however rife in his time, of giants being produced by the prince of evil
spirits; nor will he allow that they are the offspring of men and huge
beasts. If they did not spring from either of these causes, they must,
necessarily, have derived their origin from one of Noah’s sons. Nor can
we be surprised at their appearance in the north of Europe, seeing that
we have so many proofs of their existence in Canaan, Egypt, Greece,
Spain, Britain, and, indeed, all the world over. Their arrival in the
north, however, was no voluntary act; being expelled from Canaan in the
time of Joshua, they were glad to seek other settlements; and while some
spread themselves throughout northern Africa, northern and central
Europe, and, perhaps, found their way to America, others directed their
steps towards Sweden and Norway: yet, before the arrival of these
exiles, others of the same race might, for ages, have been in that
peninsula. 2. After the giants, and, indeed, immediately after them,
came the _Goths_; but the period cannot be fixed. Joannes Magnus and
Rudbeck contend that it was immediately after the flood; but Torfœus
dares not ascend to so high an antiquity, and he is satisfied with
deriving the Goths from the Trojans, and with referring their arrival in
the north to the age in which Troy was taken. 3. After the Goths came
the _Asae_, or _Scythians_, whom he holds to be the third distinct race
of men that helped to people the north. These were the followers of
Odin, whose empire, at once spiritual and temporal, attested _his_
policy and _their_ prowess. 4. Yet it may be doubted whether these were
the sole, or even the original, colonisers of Norway. The people of this
as of every other country must have their indigenous families, or
families, at least, who were here long before any strangers arrived.
Thus, a certain man, Forniot by name, had three sons: Hler, ruler of the
winds; Logi, lord of fire; Karl, sovereign of the sea. Snaer was the
grandsire of this last-named monarch, and a celebrated prince he was. He
had one son, Thor, and three daughters, Faunna, Drifa, and Miollis. Thor
was more powerful than the father, since he reigned over the whole of
the northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, including Finland; and
divine honours were paid to him by at least one great tribe of his
subjects. Thor had three children, Nor and Gor, who were males, and Goe,
a daughter. This princess being stolen away, her two brothers went in
pursuit of her. Nor went westward, subduing and killing many native
kings, among whom were Hemming and Hunding: in short, he conquered the
whole of Norway, to which he gave his name. The ravisher of Goe was
Rolf, or Rollo, the son of a great prince, who submitted to Thor, and
whose sister, Hodda, had the honour to become that monarch’s bride.
While he was performing these feats, his brother Gor was subduing all
the islands of the Baltic and of the Icy Ocean, which constituted his
dominion. The sons of Nor divided the vast region among themselves;
hence the many separate principalities which were so long the bane of

No reader will be at a loss to perceive that this fourth race of men is
a mythologic creation. These rulers of the elements, fire, water,
wind,—_Snaer_, or snow; _Jokul_, or frost; _Faunn_, or frozen snow;
_Snifa_, or sleet,—with many others, sufficiently attest this curious
fact. Whether the Norwegians invented these elemental gods first, and
called their mortal heroes after them; or whether they elevated those
heroes after death to the dignity of local gods, we shall not attempt to
discuss. The probability is, that in this country, the march of the
human mind was the same as in other countries, viz., that men celebrated
for their great qualities were believed to have originally sprung from a
divine source, and after this life to return to that source; to be
invested in another state with a superiority akin to that which they
enjoyed in this. As to a northern inhabitant, the sea and the winds were
the most important elements, so the deities that they obeyed were the
most powerful, the most dreaded, the most worshipped. Every page of the
earliest Norwegian history (or fable, if the reader pleases) bears
evidence to this inference, that long prior to the arrival of the Goths
in that region there was a religion quite distinct from that which
followed it; one of truly primitive character, which admitted of no
refinement, which dealt with sensible objects, which appealed to the
fears and hopes of mankind. The honour in which Thor, the father of Nor,
and the common ancestor of all the Norwegian princes, was held,
sufficiently accounts for his superiority over Odin himself, in the
religious creed of that people. The Danes and Swedes held the former,
the Norwegians the latter, to be the supreme god,—supreme, at least, as
far as the government of this world is concerned. Hence there must, at
some period subsequent to Odin’s arrival, have been an amalgamation of
the two religions. If the successors of Odin in Denmark and Sweden
forced the Norwegians to acknowledge him as a divinity, and to place his
statue with that of Thor, it is manifest that they only paid him a
secondary veneration; Thor sitting in state, surrounded by all the
attributes of majesty, while the warrior god—the foreign Asiatic god—was
made to stand beside him. On this subject, however, more in the proper

DENMARK is, in no respect, behind either Sweden or Norway in its claims
to antiquity. In the valuable collection of Langebek, we find a list of
monarchs in Icelandic[5] as old, at least, as the tenth century,
sufficiently ample for the vanity of any nation. It begins with Noah;
passes down through the intervening generations to Odin, “that king of
the Turks whom the Romans forced towards the north;” and ends with
Hardecanute. Another branch of the same list deduces the regal genealogy
from Odin to Harald Harfagre, the well-known monarch of Norway.[6] In
both cases, the names must be considered as strictly belonging to the
Asiatic potentates, who were never alleged to have set foot in the north
of Europe. During _their_ reigns, fabulous or true, Scandinavia was not
without its petty kings, or, if the reader pleases, hereditary
chieftains, whose authority was similar to the patriarchal. Their names
are given by Saxo Grammaticus and other native writers, who, following
their own traditionary songs, knew little of the Asiatic predecessors of
Odin, and were therefore unable to enumerate them. Thus, too, with the
Swedes, who, as we have seen, had their internal, no less than their
external, kings,—their domestic, no less than their foreign, potentates.
Hence, in all these states, two distinct races of rulers,—the native and
the foreign,—the former indigenous, the latter wholly strangers, to the
regions of northern Europe.[7]

That the Goths were resident in the north of Europe before the times
which we denominate historic,—that they had for ages, perhaps, been
there when the Romans came into contact with them, is very probable.
“Many vestiges,” says Gibbon, “which cannot be ascribed to popular
vanity, attest the residence of the Goths in the countries beyond the
Baltic.” Still no man in the least conversant with antiquity—unless,
indeed, like Joannes Magnus and Rudbeck, he has prejudices which no
information can remove—will contend that they were the _first_ settlers:
it may even be doubted whether they constituted the second immigration
into those regions. The Cimmerians, or Cimbri, were in Jutland, at
least, before them; but whether even these were the first people that
forsook their Asiatic abodes for western Europe is very doubtful:
probably they were preceded by some other swarms whose very name time
has destroyed, just as _they_ were the predecessors of the Celts, a race
sprung from themselves. The Finns and the Lapps, whose manners,
language, and character are so different from those of the other
European nations, are probably tribes of some race which arrived in more
southern regions at a period lost in the depth of antiquity; and which
the hostile incursions of Cimmerians, Celts, Goths, and other
barbarians, exiled into the snows of the north.[8]

Such are the conclusions of reason. They are not opposed to authority.
What ancient history really informs us concerning the people of the
north may be comprised in a few lines. They were split into tribes; and
of these the _Swiones_—the Swiar of the middle ages—were the most
conspicuous. They were a rich and powerful maritime nation; and, if
Tacitus is to be credited, their kings were despotic. Lest they should
turn against one another, or, what was worse, against their rulers,
their arms were taken from them, and kept by the royal slaves. They
were, no doubt, a tribe which inhabited Sweden. In the same region were
the _Guttones_, or Goths, another tribe, probably, of more ancient
arrival. As the lands of the two were conterminous, the Swiones must
have often called on their king for weapons, unless, indeed, their
enemies, too, had been disarmed. But this alleged disarming is pure
fable, and we know not how Tacitus could be so thoughtless as to relate
it. The _Dankiones_—probably the Danskir or Danes—bordered on the
Guttones. Whether they were confined merely to the islands now forming
the Danish monarchy, or were also spread over, at least, part of
Jutland, may be disputed. If, by Cadononia, Tacitus really means the
peninsula, the Teutones were also there. There can be no doubt that all
these tribes were kindred: they all came from Asiatic Scythia, however
different the periods of their arrival. But, in regard to the _Fenni_,
who are manifestly the Finns, he doubts whether he should call them a
Teutonic or a Sarmatian tribe. Ptolemy locates them in western
Lithuania; Tacitus, more to the north; and from the close affinity which
a modern Polish professor has established between the Letts and the
Finns, we may safely infer that they are of the same origin. Probably
the stream of colonisation passed from Livonia across the gulf.[9]

The distinction of tribes inhabiting northern Europe being granted, and
authentic history assuring us that the Scythian Goths were the last
people that reached western Europe,—the Slavi, their hereditary enemies,
scarcely penetrating to the centre,—we naturally inquire, “At what
period did they arrive?” Most antiquaries of the north, as we have
already shown, have not hesitated to affirm that it was immediately
after the deluge, and, consequently, that the Goths were the original
inhabitants. Other writers, however, are satisfied with a more recent
origin, and place this arrival about two thousand years before Christ.
Others, again, are willing to deduct a full millenium from this latter
antiquity; but it may be doubted whether a single tribe of Goths had set
foot in the north five centuries before Odin’s arrival. Few tribes of
them were probably there when he introduced a new faith. The opposition
which his followers encountered in their political, no less than their
religious character,—in their conquests no less than their
preaching,—confirms this supposition; and the fact that nearly all the
kings of the north boasted of their descent from some one of Odin’s
royal sons, almost elevates this hypothesis to the dignity of an
historic fact. As the Goths—both those who accompanied Odin and those
who had preceded him—were the conquering and, therefore, the dominant
caste, the sceptre was generally held by princes of that nation; the
conquerors were comparatively few in number; and the original
inhabitants, though they constituted the bulk of the population, were
constrained to bend in sullen acquiescence before the power of the
strangers. By degrees, the amalgamation of these strangers with the
former race (or, perhaps, races) produced that form of society peculiar
to the north. The more we reflect on this subject the more we incline to
the opinion that prior to the Odinic times the Goths were not very
numerous in Scandinavia. They might have kings four or five centuries
before Christ; probably there were immigrations of Goths from Asia
before even that period; still there is more safety, because more
reason, in the conclusion that, from remote antiquity to the arrival of
Odin, the bulk of the population in those countries were of native, that
is, of Finnish or Jutish stock, and that the sons of the Asiatic
conqueror were the first Gothic _monarchs_ of the north.[10]

That the original inhabitants, whether Finns, or Jutes, or Laplanders,
or a combination of all the three, differed widely from the Gothic
conquerors, in language, manners, religion, and character, is certain.
The earliest poems of the latter—those traditionary relics of a far more
ancient age—are filled with allusions to this distinction. They
represent the Finns and Lapps as magicians, as invested with
uncontrollable authority over the elements; and the Jutes as at once
giants and magicians. But the warriors of Odin arrogated to themselves
no such powers, though their priests might. Legend, indeed, records some
instances in which these powers were communicated to fortunate Gothic
heroes; but the old inhabitants were the teachers, and what knowledge
they imparted—which was always grudgingly imparted—was little in
comparison with that which they retained. In the old Sagas, in the
collection of Snorro Sturleson, in Saxo Grammaticus, and even in later
authorities, we everywhere discover a marked antipathy between the
victors and the vanquished. It originated in a twofold cause,—in the
difference of religion no less than that of race; and it was embittered
in the same degree that it was perpetuated by mutual hostilities. The
Finn, indeed, was unable to cope with the powerful Goth; but this sense
of inferiority sharpened his invention, and made his hostility to be
dreaded in proportion to its secrecy. The blow was struck in darkness;
and the Goth, who had a sovereign contempt for the valour of his foe,
was led to attribute it to supernatural rather than to human agency.[11]

We have already seen the meagre sum of information which Tacitus has
bequeathed to us respecting the state of the north in his time. For many
centuries afterwards, no great additions were made to it. In the fifth
we learn that between the Elbe and the Baltic—no doubt, too, on both
sides of that river, to some extent—were Angles, Jutes, and Saxons. Of
these the first had no other seat. The second were doubtless a bastard
colony from the more northern parts of the peninsula; and the last were
an offset from the great Saxon confederation. The Jutes were the fewest
in number; yet they were the progenitors of the men of Kent and the Isle
of Wight, and of a tribe among the West Saxons. The rest of the
Saxons—West, East, and South — were derived from the Saxon division of
the colonists. The Angles gave their name to the people who bore it (the
East Angles and Middle Angles) and likewise to the Mercians and
Northumbrians. Such, according to that venerable authority the Saxon
Chronicle, was the connection between these people and our island. But,
reverting to the state of northern Europe after the time of Tacitus, yet
before geography made us well acquainted with it, king Alfred, in his
epitome of Orosius, adds some particulars which he had learned from his
own inquiries. These particulars he derived from Otter, a Norwegian, and
Wulfstan, a Danish seaman. The former said that he lived north of all
the Northmen, in Halgoland, opposite to the west sea; that north of him
there was an immense waste land, some parts of it, however, being
visited by the Finns for hunting in summer and fishing in winter; that
he had once sailed round the North Cape to the White Sea, and on the
coast had found a people called Beormas, who spoke a kindred language
with the Finns. “This Otter,” says the king, “was a rich man, according
to the opinion of his own country: he had 600 tame deer, and six decoy
ones, whose value in catching the wild deer was incalculable: hence
these decoy deer were much esteemed by the Finns.” But this Norwegian
captain had not above twenty head of horned cattle, and as many sheep
and swine. The Finns paid rent in skin, feathers, whalebone, and ropes
for shipping. (The proprietors of these lands were evidently Goths, the
conquering tribe.) Otter further said, that the country of the Northmen
(Norway) was long and narrow, cultivated on the sea coast, but to the
east overlooked by wild barren mountains. Yet Finns inhabited them even
in the ninth century,—a proof that they were tributary to these Goths,
especially as we may infer from this Norwegian’s account that they were
the only people that paid rent: the dominant race were freeholders.
Opposite to this country of the Northmen, in the south, was _Swevland_,
or Sweden; and to the north, the country opposite was _Cwenaland_, or
that portion of the region between the Gulf of Bothnia and Mount Sevo.
“These Cwenas,” says Otter, “frequently assailed the Northmen, and the
Northmen were no less inclined to pass the mountains against the Cwenas.
From Halgoland, where Otter dwelt, to the north of the land inhabited by
the Northmen, is a great distance,—so great that no one could reach it
by sea in a month.” To be brief, the whole course of the navigation from
the extremity of Norway to the south of Jutland, is so minutely
described, as to render it impossible for any one to mistake the
localities intended, or to refuse credit to the relation of this old
Norwegian navigator.[12]

The distinction, for which we have given some reasons, between the
various tribes of the north, is now acknowledged by all the native
writers, and by all foreigners, who have paid much attention to the
subject. “The followers of the historic Odin,” says a living writer,
“were the Sviar, known unto Tacitus under the name of Suiones; and the
inhabitants whom they found in the country were another tribe of Goths,
who had emigrated thither at a remote period, veiled from the eye of
history. The primitive people by whom it was occupied, were the Jötnar
and Dwarfs; the Feuni of Tacitus; the Skrithfiuni of Procopius, and the
Cwenas and Finnas mentioned by the Norwegian navigator to king Alfred.
They were gradually expelled, and driven further north, towards the
arctic circle, by the Goths and Sviar, with whom they maintained
perpetual war, embittered by religious rancour, often represented, in
the fictions of the northern age, under the allegory of a contest
between the celestial deities and the giants or evil genii.” But of this
subject more hereafter, when we come to the exploits and policy of

Of the Scandinavians, prior to the arrival of Odin, and, indeed, for
centuries after that event, little, as far as regards their domestic
history, is known. Rejecting wholly, as fabulous, the boast of native
writers, that they had _monarchs_ centuries before the foundation of
Rome; we may, however, admit that they had kings—or, if the reader
pleases, local judges—in time of peace, and military chieftains in war.
There is reason to think that their chieftains, who assumed the regal
title, were at one period, and, indeed, generally, exceedingly numerous.
“At this time,” says a chronicler, speaking of the age following our
Saviour’s birth, “there were _many_ kings in the north.” Sweden had a
dozen of them; Norway no fewer than eighteen; Jutland had usually two;
and the various islands composing the rest of the Danish monarchy, had
each one. As in the heroic age of Greece, so in that of Scandinavia, the
same condition of society produced the same form of government. Of these
reguli, some were probably hereditary, some elective; some were
certainly principal, others tributary. This distinction was the result,
first, of some fancied superiority in the family of certain princes, but
in a greater degree of their superior success. In Norway, for instance,
the Finnish family of Fornjoter (Forniot) was esteemed the most ancient,
and was that to which all the princes of that country referred their
origin. But let us not forget that little dependence is to be placed on
the alleged progenitors of these reguli, or the names of the reguli
themselves, or their respective order of succession,[14] or on the deeds
attributed to them. All is darkness, uncertainty, contradiction. In the
history of Norway, for instance, we are referred to Swedish kings as
contemporary, whom the history of the latter kingdom places many
generations before or after the alleged period. This is more strikingly
the case in regard to the Danish and Swedish kings. In the history of
the one we are referred to that of the other; yet the latter, in a
majority of cases, have not one syllable on the subject. Names and
events, on which the destinies of each country seems to turn, are
mentioned by one class of historians, and passed over by another as
having had no existence. But if so little reliance is to be placed on
these regal successions, we must not lose sight of the fact, that were
they and the events ascribed to them wholly fabulous (yet wholly
fabulous they are not, since tradition does not so much create as
amplify and distort), they would still demand our attention. Reject
them, and nine tenths of northern history must be rejected with them.
And these traditionary songs, which form the entire history of the
north, deserve our notice in another respect—they supply us with the
best, the only picture of national manners. For this reason, we shall
cast a hasty glance at the more remarkable events which Saxo represents
as prior to the Odinic times, but which, in fact, were subsequent.

Of the Swedish and Norwegian history, during this fabulous or
mythologic, or, at best, doubtful period, we have little information
beyond what is afforded us by the historian of Denmark, and he only
mentions them incidentally. Not so in regard to the Danish themselves,
which, thanks to his romantic bias and untiring industry, are
sufficiently well known to us.

Prior to the reign of _Dan_, the son of Humble, Denmark, like the whole
of the north, was subject to chiefs—whether hereditary or elective we
need not inquire. But such a form of government had its evils. A hundred
tyrants were more galling than one; and Dan, who gave his name to the
nation, was invested with an authority superior to the other chiefs, and
with the regal title. On his death, the sceptre passed by election, and
not by inheritance, into the hands of his son _Humble_; but the people
found that monarchy, too, has its curses, though they are neither so
numerous nor so great as those inseparable from an aristocracy.
_Lother_, the brother of Humble, revolted, was victorious, and enabled
to usurp the regal dignity. As he had been a rebellious subject, so he
made a tyrannical king. The most illustrious of the Danes he deprived of
property or life, until a conspiracy served him as he had served so many
others. _Skiold_, the son of Lother, was raised to the vacant dignity, a
proof (always supposing the traditionary guides of Saxo to be worthy of
credit) that the hereditary principle has great force even in the most
ancient forms of society; indeed, the application of this principle to
the chief magistracy of the state, is the natural and almost inevitable
result of the patriarchal system—a system which we all know to be coëval
with the existence of the world. Skiold was the Hercules of his age; and
at a time when wild beasts disputed with man the empire of the forest,
he was a greater benefactor than if he were merely a warrior. Even in
his youth he was a prodigy; he would seize and fetter the most savage
bear, leaving to his followers the less noble task of despatching the
monster. Yet he frequently struggled with the bravest of his own
species; no wrestler of Scandinavia could withstand him; in a single
combat, he overthrew the duke of the Alemanni or Swabians, his army and
that of his enemy being spectators; reduced that people to the condition
of tributaries, and returned home in triumph, accompanied by the
daughter of the duke, the beautiful Awilda, whom he made the partner of
his throne. Nor was he less distinguished for wisdom than for valour. He
was a legislator: bad laws he abolished, and enacted such as were
required by an improved state of society. He was a great friend to the
poor and the afflicted; the debts of others he often paid from his own
treasury; the spoils taken in battle he uniformly abandoned to his
followers; and it was one of his noble sayings, that, while money was
the reward of the soldier, glory was enough for the general. So much
esteemed, indeed, was this prince, that his posterity were glad to
derive additional distinction from his name; and the Skioldungs, or the
descendants of Skiold, were long dear to Denmark.[15]

_Gram_, the son of Skiold, and the fifth king, was endowed with equal
strength and equal enterprise, and his life was more romantic. His first
consort was the daughter of his tutor or governor, a grim old chief; but
thinking this lady beneath him, or, more probably, anxious to reward his
brother in arms, Bessus, he soon bestowed her upon that hero. The dearer
the gift, the greater the merit of the action; nor are similar instances
of liberality wanting in other pagan heroes of the north. Probably Gram
undervalued a conquest so easy as the wife he thus presented to his
friend; and his ambition was roused by the hope of obtaining a lady whom
nothing short of the highest courage could win. Gro, the daughter of
Sigtrug, king of the Swedes, had been affianced to a giant, viz., a Jute
or a Finn. Indignant at this prostitution of royal blood and virgin
modesty, the Danish monarch, attended by his never-failing companion,
Bessus, passed into Sweden, killed the relatives of Gro, subdued the
country, and brought away the princess in triumph.[16] But, with all his
valour, Gram was inconstant. Leading his army against the king of the
Finns, he was so struck with the beauty of that monarch’s daughter, that
he was speedily converted from an enemy into a suitor; and he obtained a
promise of her hand on the condition of repudiating Gro. Scarcely,
however, had he left the Finnish territory, when a Saxon duke arrived,
courted the lady, and the nuptial day was appointed. But he was not of a
temper to bear this insult. Leaving his troops, he repaired silently and
quickly into Finland, assumed a mean disguise, entered the royal palace,
and took a humble seat. Being asked what brought him there, he replied,
his profession as leech—a character held sacred in all ancient
communities, and sure of access to every house. As he had expected, the
assembled guests were soon steeped in drunkenness. According to the
manner of the times, he sung his own exploits, beheaded the unsuspecting
bridegroom, prostrated many of the attendants to the earth, and bore
away the princess to his vessel, which awaited him on the coast. But his
end was fatal. By Swibdager, king of Norway, he was deprived of empire
and of life; his dominions became the prize of the victor; and his two
infant sons, Guthrum and Hadding, were secretly carried to Sweden, and
confided to the charge of two giants.[17]

Here Saxo is careful to explain what he means by the word _giant_. There
were, he assures us, three species. First, there were the vulgar giants;
those who excelled all mankind in bodily stature. Next, were the wise
men, who were as much inferior to the former in bulk, as they were
superior in knowledge: these penetrated into the secret workings of
nature, and were enemies of the monster giants, whom they subdued. Like
the Persian magi, they struggled for, and obtained, the chief power of
the state wherever they settled, and arrogated to themselves a divine,
no less than a regal, authority; in short, they were expert magicians,
able to delude all mankind by their prestiges. Next, we have the third
class of giants, who were the offspring of the two preceding, and were
inferior to one parent in magnitude of body, to the other in knowledge;
yet, in both respects, they were above the ordinary standard of our
nature, and were thought, by their deluded admirers, to inherit some
portion of divinity. After this sage distinction, the Danish
ecclesiastic observes, that we ought not to be surprised at the
credulity of the northmen, for were not the Romans, though the wisest of
men, equally credulous? Whatever may be thought of that distinction, or
of the personages whom he has drawn from everlasting obscurity, of the
existence of this credulity we have abundant evidence; and it furnishes
one of the best comments on the manners and opinions of the times.[18]

_Swibdager_, the conqueror of Gram, and the sixth king of Denmark, found
the weight of three crowns too much for one brow. At the entreaty,
therefore, of Gro, the divorced queen of Gram, he recalled her son
Guthrum from exile, and placed him, as a vassal, on the throne. This
prince was naturally despised as the slave of a foreign prince. Not so
his brother _Hadding_, who, preferring liberty to a dependent court, and
the hope of avenging his father’s death to the smiles of that father’s
murderer, remained in exile, and with him were the hearts of Denmark. Of
all the ancient heroes of the monarchy, this is, perhaps, the most
celebrated. Wondrous, indeed, were his actions. While a youth, he
inflamed the heart of Hardgrip, the giant daughter of his giant
foster-father, who urged him to make a corresponding return. How could
he love a giantess? Was he—whom she could, almost, inclose in one of her
hands—a fit match for her? The thing was impossible. “By no means,” was
the reply. “We of the superhuman breed can change, at pleasure, our
forms, and even our substances; in short, we can reach the clouds, or
reduce ourselves to your size.” The royal youth consented; and never had
man a more useful or more faithful companion. Her magical knowledge was
of more avail to him than her valour, for in that he could equal her;
but she could furnish him with superior weapons, defend him from unseen
danger, and cure his wounds where human aid would have been useless. At
length, perceiving that he yearned to revisit his native country, she
resolved to accompany him. On their journey, they one night arrived at a
house where a corpse was duly laid out, until the mournful funeral rites
were celebrated. Here was an opportunity of consulting the will of the
gods, and the magic giantess availed herself of it. Producing a piece of
wood on which certain verses of might, in Runic characters, were
inscribed[19], she caused it to be placed under the tongue of the
deceased by Hadding. The effect was instantaneous: the corpse began to
speak, and to utter the direst anathemas on her who had disturbed the
repose of the dead. It predicted her immediate destruction in a
neighbouring wood. No sooner, indeed, had they reached the wood, and
erected their tent for the night, than a huge hand was seen to move
around them. The terrified Hadding called on his companion for help; and
she, dilating her body to a great extent, was able to seize the hand,
and present it for amputation to the prince. From the wound issued more
venom than blood. But the victory was dearly purchased; the gigantic
witch was torn to pieces by the irritated powers of darkness. “Neither
her supernatural condition,” says Saxo, “nor her vast bulk, availed
her.” Hadding, however, did not much suffer by the event: a wise old man
with one eye, pitying his disconsolate situation, provided him with a
brother in arms, a celebrated pirate, and both entered into what was
considered the holiest of compacts in the manner of the times, viz.,
each besmeared the footsteps of the other with his own blood. The two
heroes being conquered by a chief on whom they made war, the same old
man took Hadding on horseback to his own mysterious seat, and both
renovated and prodigiously fortified him by a magic drink. At the same
time a metrical prophecy told him how he was to escape from the
captivity which impended over him. Who was this unknown benefactor? On
his return to the place whence he was taken, he could perceive, through
the folds of his mantle, that he was conveyed over the sea. The horse
which bore him was evidently a demon, obedient to Odin, the god of the

After some great exploits in the east, to which his ardour, no less than
his fear of Swibdager, bore him, Hadding returned to Scandinavia. In a
sea-fight he defeated and slew his enemy, and thus became sovereign of
Denmark, or, we should say, of the Danish islands,—for Jutland and
Scania obeyed different princes. Asmund, the son of Swibdager, he thus
transformed into a foe, and a foe, too, greatly to be dreaded. In a
battle which ensued, finding that the tide of success was against him,
he silently invoked the aid of the wizard giant Wagnoft, the father of
his deceased mistress, Hardgrip. Wagnoft obeyed the spell, and was
immediately by his side. Asmund lost the battle, and fell; but in his
last moments he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had rendered
Hadding lame for life. And he had another kind of joy, dear enough to a
pagan: his wife Gunhilda, disdaining to survive him, slew herself with
his sword, and was laid in the same grave with him. An invasion of his
own country by Uffo, the son of Asmund, prevented Hadding from pursuing
his advantage; but the following spring he again invaded Sweden; but his
ranks were thinned, alike, by famine and disease. His men were obliged
to feed on their horses; next, on their dogs; and, lastly, on each
other. To increase their consternation, a nocturnal voice assured them
of great evils. The following night, even, another unknown voice
threatened the Swedes with destruction. Both armies, therefore, were
alarmed; each had a supernatural enemy, while each was perhaps
unconscious that it had, also, a supernatural friend. That same night
the two armies engaged; when, behold! two aged men, of a form larger
than the human, were seen by the light of the stars in the battle,—one
for the Swedes, the other for the Danes. The latter were subdued, and
their king glad to flee to his own country. But misfortune pursued him.
One day, as he was cooling his limbs in the waters of the sea, he
perceived a fish different from any that he had ever seen; as it was
near the shore, he killed it, and it was taken to his camp. But what was
his consternation when a sea-nymph appeared, and denounced direct
vengeance on his head! He had killed one of the gods under the form of a
fish. Henceforth the elements should be hostile to him; if he ventured
on the deep, his vessel should be wrecked by the fury of the tempest; on
land, the house which received him should, by a tempest, also be
levelled with the ground; his flocks should perish in the fields; every
place which he visited should be cursed for his sake: and this dreadful
doom was to remain in force until he had propitiated the divine wrath by
frequent sacrifices. The mandate was not to be despised; during the
course of a year altars perpetually smoked with oxen immolated to Fro,
the awful deity of the winds.[21]

The life of Hadding was full of portents and marvels. Scarcely had he
rescued the princess Regnilda of Norway from the obligation of marrying
a giant, by killing the monster, and making her his bride, than a most
wonderful adventure befell him. One winter evening, as he was supping
with his bride, a woman like a culler of simples was seen to raise her
head from the ground close by the hearth, and inquired whether the king
did not wish to know where such herbs grew at that season of the year.
He replied, that he should very much wish to know. Hearing this, she
enveloped him in his own mantle, and sank with him into the ground. What
they saw in this subterranean journey bears some resemblance to the
descriptions which have been given us of the Scandinavian world of
spirits. They first entered a dark path, worn out by the feet of many
travellers, and here they perceived some great ones of the earth,—some
in purple and gold,—whose doom appeared to consist in their indefinite
windings. Passing them, they entered a region of some fertility, whence
the woman had derived her simples. Farther still, they reached a river
of precipitate course and black waters, which rolled along the weapons
of many heroes, and over which a bridge conducted them to a different
region. One of the first objects that met their eyes was two armies
engaged in deadly strife. “Who are these?” demanded Hadding. “These,”
replied the sorceress, “are they who fell in battle; and it is their
delight in this world continually to imitate their martial deeds in the
other.” At length they reached a high wall, totally impassable. The
woman, indeed, made no attempt to scale it; but, twisting off the head
of a cock which she had brought with her, she threw it over; when,
behold! the cock began to crow as if nothing had been done to it! Unable
to proceed further, the adventurous travellers returned to the

The rest of this monarch’s life must be hastily despatched. He triumphed
over Uffo, who fell in battle, and bestowed the vacant throne of Sweden
on Hunding, brother of the deceased monarch. His last days were
embittered by the unnatural conduct of his daughter Ulwilda, who, with
her husband, planned his destruction. Though he escaped all the snares
of his enemies, at length he laid violent hands upon himself, leaving
the throne of Denmark, and the superiority over that of Sweden, to his
eldest son, Frode I.[23]

_Frode I._ was also a great warrior, and he carried his depredations
from Russia to the British islands, on which, unfortunately for the
natives, he made a longer stay than kings, whose sole object was
plunder, were accustomed to make. If there were any truth in the Danish
account of this period, Scotland and South Britain were in frequent
intercourse with the northern kingdom,—sometimes for war and sometimes
for peace. But these accounts are all to be distrusted. Events which
happened at a much later period have been removed to the one before us;
and the basis has been so much overlaid by fable, that no ingenuity can
separate the true from the false.—When Frode commenced his reign, he
found the treasury empty. How replenish it? By an expedient frequently
to be found in Scandinavian legends. On a solitary island, a dragon,
formidable alike for size and venom, brooded over immense riches. The
youthful monarch hastened to the spot, entered the cave, fought and
killed the serpent, and brought away the golden hoard. Whether there be
any meaning in this and similar fables has been much disputed: probably,
however, it had a foundation, and the dragon may have been some terrible
pirate whom Frode destroyed, and whose subterraneous riches he seized.
This unexpected supply, we are told, enabled him to pursue his
expeditions on various coasts of Europe. But we have no inclination to
follow him. We may, however, allude to the way in which he gained
possession of London; because the same expedient is often to be found in
northern writers. Despairing of the reduction of a place so well
defended, he caused a report to be spread that he had suddenly died in
his tent. Permission was asked to bury him in one of the temples of the
city, and was granted. On the day appointed, the pretended corpse was
borne through the gates; a great number of Danes attended to do honour
to their monarch; but, under the garb of mourning, they hid their
weapons of war; and, on a signal being given, they threw off the mockery
of woe, assailed the Britons, and took the city by surprise.[24]

Of the immediate successors of this monarch little is known. _Haldan_,
his son, was a great warrior, who put his own brother to death, and was
hated by the people. _Roe_, the son of Haldan, was a quiet prince, mean
in stature, but with a mind whose care it was to make his subjects
happy. _Helge_[25], his brother and successor, with whom, during his own
life, he had shared the throne, was also a prince of great qualities;
but his vices were still greater. “Whether his lust or his tyranny were
more intolerable,” says the historian, “is very doubtful.” His amours
are too disgusting to be recorded. At length, seeing the execration in
which he was held, he bade adieu to his country; and it proved a final
adieu. According to report, he fell on his own sword. In the reigns of
these princes, we have no mention of the Norwegian sovereigns; but those
of Sweden—let us not forget that it is a Dane who writes—are represented
as still dependent on Denmark.[26] _Rolf_ (or Rollo) succeeded his
father, and was much beloved by his subjects.[27] He fell through the
treachery of a brother-in-law, who was excited to the deed by the sister
of Rolf. Daughters conspiring against fathers, sisters against brothers,
wives against husbands, are among the common events of Scandinavian
history. As this prince died without issue, the Danish states elected
for their monarch _Hoder_, a descendant of the famous Hadding, who had
been educated by Gewar, a king of Norway. As it is in the reign of this
latter monarch that Odin is again introduced on the stage of northern
history,—his first appearance being referred by Saxo to the time of
Hadding,—we can no longer refuse to notice what antiquity records with
respect to him. In this, as in other parts of this introduction, the
reader may admit or reject what he pleases.[28]

According to Saxo, this personage was a mortal, king of the Hellespont,
who laid claim to the honours of divinity, and was actually worshipped
by most of Europe. His profound knowledge of magic procured him the
character. His ordinary residence was Byzantium; but he held Upsal,
which he frequently visited, in much esteem. Anxious to testify their
respect for this new deity, the kings of the north cast a golden statue
in his honour, adorned it with bracelets and other costly ornaments, and
sent it to Byzantium. It was received by Odin with great joy, and placed
in the temple of the gods. But Frigga, the wife of Odin, whom Saxo
judges to be quite worthy of such a husband, stript the statue of its
ornaments to adorn herself. The incensed deity hung the mechanics who
acted by her orders; and, for greater security, placed the image on a
high pedestal, and, by his wonderful art, rendered it vocal to human
touch. But when was female vanity cured? To secure the aid of a domestic
of the temple, Frigga did not hesitate to grant him the last favour;
and, by his aid, the gold being again abstracted, again adorned her
person. This twofold injury was too much for a god to withstand; and
Odin left the country for a season, until the public discourse, like a
nine days’ wonder, had evaporated itself into empty air. During his
absence, several persons—probably priests of his own temple—arrogated to
themselves the attributes of divinity. These, on his return, he forced
not only to lay down their borrowed honours, but to flee from the
country. Among them, one is mentioned whose case affords a curious
illustration of popular superstition. Mitothin was a great magician, and
had long enjoyed the favour of the gods. But they were incensed with his
impiety, while he no longer paid them the slightest homage. On the
return of Odin he fled to Fionia, and was killed by the inhabitants. In
his tomb, however, he was amply revenged: he introduced into the whole
region various kinds of plague; he destroyed multitudes of the
inhabitants; until they, one day, opened his sepulchre, exhumed his
body, cut off his head, and drove a stake through the corpse: then the
mysterious visitation was at an end. He is, probably, the first vampire
on record.[29]

The account of Snorro Sturleson, who followed Norwegian, not Danish
authorities, differs in many respects from the preceding. He informs
us that the seat of Odin’s power, both temporal and spiritual, was
Asgard, a place of extraordinary sanctity east of the Tanais. Over the
temple were twelve pontiffs, whose duty was the twofold one of
sacrificing and administering the laws: they were called _driar_ or
_drottnar_,—lords,—and were held in much veneration. At the head of
this theocratic state was Odin, who was at perpetual war with his
neighbours, and on whose arms success always shone. So great, indeed,
was this success, that he was called the father of victory. When he
sent out his generals on any expedition, he was accustomed to lay his
hands on their heads and predict a fortunate issue to the undertaking.
Hence the peculiar veneration attached to his character. His followers
regarded him as a god; in dangers and perils of any kind—on land, on
deep—whether he were present or absent—they invoked his name, and
ascribed all their prosperity to him. His expeditions, even to remote
countries, were frequent; and during his absence the sovereignty was
administered by his two brothers. The Vanir, who are said to have been
his neighbours, he so harassed, that they sued for peace: the
conditions were framed, and hostages given for their punctual
observance. Niord the Rich, and Freyr his son, were surrendered by the
Vanir; Haenir and Mimir by the Asser. In a short time, however, the
former perceiving that their confidence was abused by the hostages of
Odin, cut off the head of Mimir and sent it to Asgard. By his magic
art, Odin so enchanted the head that it became his oracle: it
conversed with him whenever he pleased, and acquainted him with many
hidden things, both of nature and of fate. Niord and Freyr, he won
over to his own interests by investing them with the dignity of the
priesthood, and, consequently, with some portion of divinity. The same
honours were conferred on Freya, the sister of Freyr who taught the
Asser the magic which she had learned among her countrymen, the
Vanir.—At length, the victorious arms of the Romans approached the
kingdom of Asheim; and Odin, learning from the fates that settlements
were provided for him in the north of Europe, left his two brothers
with the sovereignty of Asheim, and, attended by a great multitude of
followers, advanced into the west. In his progress through Germany he
placed his sons over the states which his arms reduced. He then passed
northward, and fixed his seat at Odensey (Odin’s Island). From thence
he despatched Gefio, one of his prophetesses, to make proselytes in
the neighbouring regions; and she was well received by both Gylfe,
king of Sweden, and by the Jutes. They did not, indeed, embrace her
religious faith; but they gave her lands and revered her as one of the
chief supports of magic. In the sequel she married Skiold, the son of
Odin, who reigned over the Danish islands. Odin, himself, advanced
into Sweden, and forced Gylfe to cede to him the eastern part of that
kingdom. He established his seat at Sigtuna, where he caused temples
to be erected and sacrifices to be offered. Thence his authority and
his worship were diffused throughout Germany and Scandinavia.[30]

The qualities of this extraordinary man are the favourite theme of the
Swedish and Norwegian chroniclers. He was the father, says Snorro, of
all the arts in northern Europe. He could change his looks at pleasure.
To his friends he was exceedingly beautiful, and their hilarity he was
always desirous to promote. To his enemies, especially in battle, he
seemed a demon: the countenance which before was so exquisitely
attractive, now inspired terror and death. Such was his eloquence that
he captivated all who heard him, and he always spoke in verse: hence he
was called the artificer of song; and from him northern poetry had its
origin. In imitation of him all the magicians of Scandinavia couched
their incantations in metrical numbers: indeed, he had so warranted the
example, that the most potent runes would, in popular opinion, have lost
their efficiency had they been in prose. By these verses Odin could, in
the hour of battle, strike his enemies with blindness, with deafness, or
with panic fear, and render their sharpest weapons blunt as twigs. By
the same means he could render his own men as furious wolves, strong as
bears or bulls, and invulnerable to steel or fire. Often, while his body
lay supine, he would assume another form,—that of fish, serpent, or wild
beast,—and in a moment hasten to the remotest parts. At his mere
command, fire ceased to burn, the wind to blow, and the sea to rage; and
the elements moved in what direction he pleased. He had a wonderful
ship, called Skidbladner, which he could fold up like a handkerchief,
yet which carried him through the most dangerous seas.—According to the
latter Edda, this ship was built by the dwarfs,—probably the Lapps, so
called to distinguish them from the Jutish giants,—who were rather the
allies than the enemies of the gods. Small as this vessel was,—since it
could be easily carried in a pocket or in the palm of the hand,—yet,
when expanded, “all the gods, completely armed, could sit in it.” And it
had another wonderful property: the moment the sails were unfurled, a
favourable wind was sure to rise, and bear the passengers wherever they
wished to go. Then there was the embalmed head of Mimir, which
acquainted him with whatever he wished to know. And he had two ravens
which he endowed with the gift of speech, and which, continually flying
over the earth, brought him intelligence of everything that happened.
Sometimes he summoned the dead from their graves: hence he was called
the Lord of the Tombs. He was profoundly versed in the art called
_seid_,—the art which foretold events, which induced or removed death,
sickness, pain, and all the ills of mankind. He knew all the treasures
concealed in the bowels of the earth, the incantations which could open
them, the laws which governed the fairy inhabitants of the mountains,
the stream, and the rock: their motions were regulated by his mere word.
Hence his wide-spread fame; hence the confidence of his followers, and
the terror of his enemies. Many were the arts which he taught his
pontiffs, by which they were rendered nearly as wise and powerful as
himself. He and his twelve pontiffs were worshipped as gods. The laws
which he introduced were those anciently adopted by the Asser. He
commanded the corpses of the dead to be consumed on the funeral pile,
and with them the most valuable things of the deceased, affirming that
whatever was thus consumed would accompany the hero to Valhalla, and
still administer to his wants. The ashes of men in general were to be
cast into the sea, or buried in the earth: only some of eminent dignity
or merit were to have tombs erected in their honour. The first great
sacrifice he ordered to be solemnised on the approach of winter, as a
thanksgiving for the gifts of the year; the second, in mid-winter, for
another propitious season; the third, in summer, for victory over all
enemies. On every head a tax was laid, and the produce was expended in
the defence of the kingdom, in the sustentation of the temples, and in
public sacrifices.[31]

Whether Odin ever existed,—whether himself and his alleged Asiatics are
not mere creatures of the imagination,—whether they are not purely
mythologic, and referrible to an Asiatic source, at a period lost in the
depths of antiquity, have long exercised the ingenuity of writers. In
matters of pure history it is certainly better to err on the side of
scepticism than of credulity; but in the present instance we cannot
discover sufficient grounds for the former opinion. That he existed, and
at no distant period antecedent to the invasion of England by the
Saxons, is affirmed, alike, by written testimony and tradition.
According to that venerable and most inestimable relic of antiquity, the
“Saxon Chronicle,” all the princes of the nation derived their origin
from the deified hero; and the number of generations between him and the
reigning king are minutely recorded. Thus, from Odin to Cerdic, A.D.
495, are ten generations; from Odin to Ida, A.D. 547, the same number;
from Odin to Ella, A.D. 560, twelve; from Odin to Ceolwulf, A.D. 597,
thirteen; from Odin to Penda, A.D. 626, twelve; from Odin to Offa, A.D.
755, sixteen; from Odin to Ethelwolf, A.D. 854, twenty-three
generations. In all these lists the intervening chain, from the wizard
king to his Saxon descendant, are carefully specified. In the same
manner the series of northern kings, from the sons of Odin, who were
placed by him over the thrones of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, is
progressively detailed. Thus, in Denmark, the generations from Skiold,
the son of Odin, to Ragnar Lodbrok, A.D. 794, are twenty-five. In
Sweden, from Niord (the _adopted_ son, perhaps, of Odin) to Olaf, A.D.
630, are twenty-three generations. In Norway, the succession of kings
from the same Niord, to Harald Harfager, the first _monarch_ of that
country, A.D. 934, are twenty-eight. We think that these genealogical
series, so carefully, so minutely particularised, afford a presumption,
at least, that the pontiff king of the north both lived and reigned at a
period not very far distant from our Saviour’s birth. Not that the
subject is without its difficulties. The events ascribed to Odin’s times
have, by many writers, been deemed inapplicable to any century within
the known history of the world. Hence, some have removed him to the age
immediately following the flood; some, to the seventh century after that
event; some, to the age of Darius Hystaspes; others, to that of Philip,
king of Macedon; others, to less than two centuries before Christ; while
another party contends that he was more recent still, and that
Ariovistus, whom Cæsar conquered, was one of his sons. Where so much
contradiction, so much absurdity abound, our only guide, in the absence
of positive evidence, is reason; and this confirms the generally
received opinion, that this personage is of far less antiquity than was
formerly supposed. Not that many of his rites, many of his notions,
many, perhaps, of his alleged actions, are not more ancient. There is,
indeed, some reason to infer that they were known in Asiatic Scythia, a
thousand years before his time. But this fate is not peculiar to Odin;
it has been that of all celebrated men. Whoever has entered profoundly
into the history of tradition, must be aware that legends which were
formerly applicable to the most ancient characters, were applied to
comparatively modern ones, when the latter had been dead long enough to
permit the imagination to invest them with new attributes. Thus, many
which have been related of Charlemagne’s heroes,—of Charlemagne
himself,—of the crusaders, especially of our Cœur de Lion’s age, were
once the glory of pagans, and were derived from a northern or an
oriental source, before Normans, Franks, or Angles were known.[32]

So much for direct and positive evidence, which is strongly confirmed
by inference. The Goths, like all the Scythians, were accustomed to
deify their deceased heroes. This is expressly affirmed by several
writers, especially by Adam of Bremen; and heroes are mentioned, who,
we find, were deified. Thus, Armin, or Ermin, the courageous supporter
of Germanic independence against the Romans, was worshipped as a god;
and his famous idol, which was called, after his name, Irminsul, drew
multitudes of pagans to the Isle of Rugen: it was, indeed, regarded as
the palladium of Germanic liberty. The facility with which kings and
heroes were deified is still more strikingly illustrated in the life
of St. Anscar, the apostle of the Scandinavians. Alarmed at the
success which attended the preaching of that admirable missionary
(this was about the middle of the ninth century), the priests of the
Odinian worship had recourse to a bold imposture. By their contrivance
a man suddenly appeared in the Swedish capital, who affirmed that he
had just attended a general meeting of the gods, and that he was
bearer of a communication from them to king Olaf and his people. The
substance of it was, that the ancient deities had always been most
indulgent to the Swedes; that, hitherto, they had found no reason to
complain of an ungrateful return from their worshippers; that now,
however, there was a sad decline in the sacrifices and other proofs of
devotion; and that their wrath was especially excited by the
introduction of a new deity,—of one peculiarly hostile to the gods of
the kingdom. “If,” added they, “you Swedes really wish to increase the
number of gods, we will readily admit your departed king, Eric, to the
honours of deification.” That the proposal was accepted—that a temple
was immediately erected to Eric—that his altars perpetually smoked
with sacrifices,—are among the most indubitable facts of history.
Hence, there is nothing unreasonable in the deification of Odin;
indeed, he could not have avoided the honour. One so celebrated as he
was,—a great warrior, a great legislator, the founder of a new empire,
and of a new religion,—assuredly could not fail to be invested with
the same honours as an Armin or an Eric. Indeed, as it was the obvious
policy of the Asiatic followers of Odin to represent the authority of
their pontiff king and his successors as founded on divine, not on
human, sanction,—as that authority was avowedly theocratic,—he must,
of necessity, have been regarded as a god, if not in his lifetime,
immediately after his decease.[33]

The temporal no less than the spiritual government of Odin, and the
social superiority of his immediate followers over the inhabitants he
found in Sweden, drew our attention in the early pages of this
Introduction. Our opinions on this subject are strongly confirmed by a
judicious living writer. “Odin founded the empire of the Sviar, which
was originally confined to a small territory around the Mœlar Sea, in
the present Swedish province of Upland, called the lesser Svíthjód, in
contrast to the greater Svíthjód, or Scythia, whence they migrated, and
Mannaheim, or the Home of Man, in contrast to the celestial abode of
Asgard. By degrees the Sviar, as the leading tribe governed by the
pontiff kings, the immediate descendants of Odin, and having the custody
of the great temple at Sigtun, the principal seat of the new
superstition, acquired an ascendancy over the Goths, who possessed the
more southern tract of country called Gautland, Götland, or Göta-rike.
This precedence of the Sviar over the Goths is established by the
express terms of the ancient fundamental law of their joint empire,
according to which the ‘king was elected by the national assembly of all
the Swedes (_å Ting allra Svia_), at the Mora-Stone, in the plain near
Upsal, and the assembly of all the Goths (_Ting allra Göta_), shall
re-elect or confirm him.’[34] This distinction between the two tribes is
constantly preserved in the traditions and annals of the middle ages,
and the division between the Svia and Göta-rike is strongly marked by a
chain of mountains running between Södermanland and East Gothland. It is
also recognised at this day in the constitution of the supreme judicial
tribunals called the Svea and Götha Hofrät, established during the reign
of Gustavus Adolphus, and to which a third has been recently added for
the provinces of Scania and Bleking.”

“One of the ancient documents which throws the most light upon the
history of the heroic age in the north, is the most recently published
of the Eddaic poems, called _Rigs-mál_. The prince of that name is said
to have been the son of Skjold, and, according to the chronology of
Suhm, reigned in Scania about the end of the second century of the
Christian era.[35] This poem contains a minute classification of the
different orders of society, personified as the children of king Rig,
who is supposed to have divided them into distinct castes, assigning to
each its respective rank in the social scale. As a literary composition,
it resembles the Anglo-Saxon poem of Bjówulf, and all other genuine
traditionary poems or romances of uncivilised nations, in its
unpretending and Homeric simplicity of style and incidents. In this
respect it has been justly called one of the most curious and
interesting ‘manners-painting strains’ that have been preserved and
handed down to posterity.[36] The effects of the original Gothic
migration and conquest in Scandinavia are here distinctly marked in the
features of the slave caste, descended from the aboriginal Finns, and
distinguished from their conquerors by black hair and complexion, as
well as the squalid poverty and misery in which they were compelled to
live. The caste of freemen and freeholders, lords of the soil which they
cultivated, and descended from the Gothic conquerors, with their reddish
hair, fair complexion, and all the traits which peculiarly mark that
famous race,—is in like manner personified in a vivid description of a
single family. Then comes the caste of the illustrious Jarls and the
Herser, earls and barons, who are distinguished from the others by their
still fairer hair and skin, by their noble employments and manners, from
whom descend the kingly race, skilled in Runic science, in manly
exercises, and the military art.”

“We have, here, the early history of the Scandinavians traced in a few
lines; but these are strongly marked, and confirmed by all the
traditions of the ancient north, respecting the different races of men
by which the country was successively occupied.[37] The first Gothic
emigrants subdued the Celto-Finnish tribes, who were the primitive
inhabitants of the country, and reduced them to servitude, or drove
them, first, to the mountains, and then to the desert wilds and
fastnesses of Norrland, Lapland, and Finland. Here the Jötnar, as they
were called by their Gothic invaders, continued to adhere to the
grovelling superstition of their fathers, which was that form of
polytheism which has been called Fetichism, or the adoration of beasts
and birds, of stocks and stones, all the animate and inanimate works of
creation. The antipathy between these two races, so continually alluded
to in the songs and sagas of the mythic and heroic age, is significantly
expressed in the legend of Njördr, who dwelt by the sea-side, and Skade,
a mountain-nymph of the rival race of the Jötnar, whom he had espoused.
She very naturally prefers her native abode on the Alpine heights,
whilst he insists on dwelling where he can hear the roar of the ocean
billows. At last, they compromise this matrimonial dissension by
agreeing to pass nine nights alternately among the mountains, and three
on the sea-shore. But Njördr soon tires of this compact, and vents his
dissatisfaction in a lay to this effect:—‘How do I hate the mountain
wilds! I have only passed nine nights there; but how long and tedious
did they seem! There one hears nothing but the howling of wolves,
instead of the sweet notes of the swan.’ To which Skade extemporises
this response:—‘How can I rest on the sandy sea-shore, where my slumbers
are every morning broken by the hideous screaming of the sea-gulls?’ The
result is, that she deserts her husband, and returns to the mountains,
where her father dwells: there, snatching up her bow, and fastening on
her snow-skates, she bounds over the hills in pursuit of the wild

“The Sviar, who migrated with the historic Odin, achieved no forcible
conquest over their national brethren of the Gothic tribe, by whom they
had been preceded. The ascendancy of Odin and his followers over their
predecessors was acquired and maintained by superstition, and their
supposed superiority in magic and the other arts which win the
confidence or influence the fears of a barbarous nation. The older
worship of the primitive inhabitants, and of their conquerors, was
modified by this new prophet, who, taking advantage of the pre-existing
belief in the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and the
incarnation of divine spirits, so widely diffused among the ancient
people of the earth, pretended to be the former Odin, who had again
descended among his faithful Goths.[39] His worship thus soon supplanted
that of the more ancient Odin, and the attributes and actions of both
were gradually confounded together in the apprehension of the
Scandinavians. But it did not supplant that of Thor, whom the primitive
people of the north regarded as the elder and most beneficent of the
deities. In him they worshipped the goodly elements of nature,—the
light, the heat, and especially the thunder, shaking and purifying the
atmosphere. This deity was principally revered in Norway; and, after its
discovery and settlement, in Iceland: but he maintained his recognised
equality with the other superior gods even in the great temple of Upsal,
the principal seat of the northern superstition. His votaries formed a
distinct sect, who were often engaged in deadly strife with the peculiar
worshippers of Odin. The next deity in the Scandinavian hierarchy was
Freyer, who represented the prolific powers of Nature, and, with his
sister Freya, the Venus of this mythology, was principally revered in
Sweden, Norway, and Iceland; whilst Odin and his son, Balder, were
adored both at Upsal and Ledra as the peculiar national deities of the
Gothic Danes and Sviar. The religion of the north, as it was at last
modified by this new dispensation, in the conjoint adoration of Thor,
Odin, and Freyer, bore a strong family likeness to the three principles
of Schamanism, or the faith professed by the votaries of the Dalai Lama
in central Asia. This correspondence points most significantly to its
origin; and the filiation of religious creeds and forms of worship thus
combines with that of language to trace the present people of the north
to the remotest regions of the East.”[40]

The temporal government established by Odin was perpetuated through his
sons. Thus Heimdall was placed over Scania, the original seat of the
Danes. Semming had Norway. From another son sprung the Ynglings, who
reigned for many centuries in Sweden and Norway. Skiold, a fourth son,
led a colony into Zealand, which became the seat of a different kingdom;
hence the Skioldungs, or the regal family of Denmark. And as to Balder,
he was the king of the Angles, if any faith is to be placed in the
“Saxon Chronicle.” Thus, according to tradition, as embodied in the
Icelandic and Norwegian sagas, and in other monuments of antiquity, Odin
was the progenitor of all the great dynasties of the north. But in
regard to some parts of Norway, we must not forget the family of
_Nor_,—the mythologic, or rather mythic, Nor, whose fame was so widely
spread, and from whom the whole country derived its name. Doubtless the
native chiefs, those who descended from ancestors long antecedent to
Odin’s arrival, were proud enough of their descent, and too much
attached to their ancient religion—more ancient than Odin’s—to care for
either the Asiatic conqueror or his attendant drottnar. But the kings of
the Asser, or divine race, whose chief deity was this very Odin, boasted
of a spiritual pre-eminence, superior, by far, to their temporal.[41]

But, reverting to the narrative of Saxo, and the alleged succession of
the Danish kings, Hoder, whom (as we have before observed) Gewar, a king
in Norway, had educated, won the heart of Nanna, the daughter of his
benefactor. She had, however, the misfortune to influence a divine
lover, Balder, the son of Odin, who, like David, had seen her in the
bath. As he knew of her attachment to Hoder, he resolved to remove that
person by violence; but the latter had friends powerful as those of his
enemy. One day, while hunting in the mountains, Hoder entered a cloud,
and suddenly beheld a number of virgins, who, though bearing some
resemblance to the maids of Norway, were in reality the fatal sisters.
They accosted him by name, told him that his beloved Nanna had smitten
the heart of Balder, but warned him not to attempt the life of the
demi-god. They informed him that they were present, unseen, in all
battles—that they were the arbiters of good and evil—and that they often
assisted their mortal friends when assistance was most required. Saying
this, they disappeared so quickly, that his eye could not follow them.
On his return, he related to Gewar what he had seen, and besought the
hand of Nanna. The old king had no objection to the match; but he
dreaded the wrath of Balder, on whose charmed body mortal weapon could
have no effect. He added, however,—for he was a great magician,—that
there was a sword kept by Mimring, a satyr of the woods, with virtue
enough to slay the demi-god. The same being had bracelets, of efficacy
so wonderful, as greatly to increase the bodily strength of the
possessor. But how obtain these miraculous gifts? The abode of the satyr
was amidst rocks and snows, and almost inaccessible to man. Hoder was,
however, to take his sledge and rein-deer; to reach the alpine
solitudes; to pitch his tent, so that the shadow of the satyr’s grove
might fall upon it; and to watch day and night, with untiring patience,
for the appearance of the mysterious occupant. The prince did as he was
commanded; he fasted and watched, until one night, feigning to be
asleep, he perceived the satyr attentively observing his tent. In a
moment, he struck the monster, bound it with fetters, and threatened to
kill it if it did not surrender the sword and bracelets. His life was
dearer than those treasures. Hoder gained his object, and returned in
triumph to the court of Gewar. The value of the treasure, indeed, was
too great not to raise up rivals for its possession; and one king
(Gelder, who has left his name to a well-known Dutch province), sailed
with a powerful armament against him; but if it excited envy, it also
aided its owner, and Hoder was victorious.[42]

In the mean time, Balder, terrible in arms, entered the dominions to
obtain the fair Nanna by force, should entreaties be ineffectual. But
she was deaf to the most honied flattery. Without betraying her
attachment for Hoder, which would only place him in greater jeopardy,
she represented in strong colours the inequality of the proposed
marriage. “The chain which bound a god to a mortal,” she observed,
“could not be a lasting chain. When the fervour of passion had subsided,
the superior being, despising his ill-assorted choice, would at once
dissolve it.” Balder had recourse to arms; and he was joined by the army
of the gods, at the head of which were Odin and Thor. Here were fearful
odds; but Hoder was not discouraged. His magic bracelets rendered him
impenetrable to steel; and though the hammer of Thor crushed everything
on which it fell, he had the courage to meet the Scandinavian thunderer.
With his wonderful sword he cut off the handle of the all-destructive
weapon, so as to render it useless; and the gods, deprived of their
great support, took refuge in flight. The victory was complete; the
allies of the gods were destroyed; their bodies cast by the waves on the
shores; and the victor performed the last rites to their manes.
“Strange,” concludes Saxo, “that gods could be thus routed by mortals!”
But he accounts for the circumstance by gravely observing that they were
deities in human estimation only, and not in reality. He evidently
regards them merely as magicians and priests; wise, indeed, far beyond
human wisdom, but still mortal. His religion, his profession, compelled
him thus to regard them; and often, when he employs the term god, he
adds the saving clause which we have just noticed.—To proceed: as the
reward of this victory, Hoder obtained the hand of Nanna, with the
throne of one part of Sweden; but he was shortly afterwards vanquished
by Balder, and he lost the crown of Denmark. He and Balder were dreadful
rivals. Through his love for Nanna, the latter wasted gradually away. To
procure a greater share of the divine favour, he offered human
sacrifices to Fro, and the fatal precedent was but too well imitated by
succeeding ages. In the next battle, he was again the victor, and his
rival compelled to seek an asylum in an obscure village of Jutland.
Here, unattended and discouraged, Hoder felt the more deeply the
contrast of situations. From Jutland, he passed into Sweden, privately
assembled his staunch adherents, and represented to them the
hopelessness of his prospects—that he was alike weary of empire and
life. Compelled, indeed, to consult his safety by wandering from forest
to forest, from one cavern to another, he exhibited a remarkable example
of the instability of fortune, in a region where such vicissitudes were
more frequent than in any other part of the world. In this emergency,
while sojourning amidst woods never trod by man, he one day entered a
cave, in which he found the weird sisters. Being asked what had brought
him to their solitudes, he replied, “Misfortune in war.” He bewailed his
hard fate, and asserted that their predictions had not been verified,
but had been contradicted by the event. They contended, however, that if
he had been twice put to flight, he had inflicted as great an injury on
the enemy as the enemy had inflicted on him. But Balder was on the
throne of Denmark; what consolation, therefore, could he receive? He
was, indeed, told, that if he could only discover and appropriate to
himself a certain species of food, which was every day served to his
rival, and which increased that rival’s strength in a prodigious manner,
he should become the victor. How discover it? But, whatever his fate, it
could not be more disastrous than the present; and he again sought
Balder in arms. The first day’s fight was indecisive. At night, he lay
in his tent; but sleep refusing to visit him, he arose and went towards
the enemy’s camp. There he saw three virgins (the purveyors of Balder’s
table) leave that prince’s tent. He accosted them; and being asked who
he was, replied, “A harper,”—a character always sacred in the north. As
he was really expert in the use of the instrument, he was readily
believed, and he was allowed to see what the mysterious substance was
which had such miraculous effect on the body of his rival: it was the
venom of three snakes which the virgins daily or nightly extracted from
the mouths of the reptiles, and which they mixed with the more solid
food of Balder. One of the maidens wished to give some of the food to
Hoder, but the eldest forbade her. All, however, were so pleased with
his minstrelsy, that they presented him with a belt, which would ensure
him the victory over all his enemies. The prophecy was soon fulfilled.
Possessed of this belt, in addition to his other magical treasures, he
met his enemy and gave him a mortal wound. Like a true northern hero,
Balder being resolved to die on the field of battle, was carried in a
litter into the heart of Hoder’s army; but he soon breathed his last
sigh. Over his body a huge mound was erected by his troops. That
treasures of inestimable value were buried with him, was the unanimous
opinion of posterity. In the time of Saxo, some youths one night
hastened to the spot, and endeavoured to open it; but their ears being
assailed by terrific noises, they desisted, and fled. All this, says the
historian, was unreal; it was merely the illusion of magic.[43]

Respecting the death and interment of Balder, we have in the latter Edda
many details wholly omitted by Saxo, and more which are entirely
dissimilar from his. One night, this Balder had a dream, which was
thought to be portentous of his fate. With the consent of the gods his
mother, Freya or Frigga, called on fire, water, earth, stones, iron and
other metals, trees, animals, birds, reptiles, poison, and all diseases,
to renounce all power over him; and they took an oath to that effect. To
try the efficacy of the engagement, some of the gods threw darts and
stones at him, while some assailed him with other weapons: in vain; no
one could injure him. Seeing this, Loke, the genius of evil, assumed the
disguise of an old woman, went to the palace of Frigga, and informed her
what the gods were doing. “Let them try as long as they please,” was the
reply; “all living things have promised to respect my son.” “What!”
rejoined Loke, whose purpose is evident enough, “have all substances,
without exception, thus promised?” “All,” was the reply, “except one
insignificant plant, called mistletoe, which grows on the western side
of Valhalla, and from which, such is its feebleness, I exacted no oath.”
This was enough for Loke: he went to the place where the mistletoe grew,
plucked it up by the roots, and returned to the assembly of the gods,
who were still occupied in the same diversion. According to this
account, Hoder was present; but he was not a deity, he was merely a
blind old man. “Why dost thou not join in the exercise?” demanded Loke.
“Because I am blind.” “Take this trifling reed, and throw it; I will
guide thine hand; meet it is for us all to honour Balder!” The missile
flew, and the hero fell to rise no more. The gods were in sad
consternation at this event; the more so as the evil was irreparable.
All that the afflicted father could now do was, to pay due honours to
his remains. His body was borne to the sea coast; it was placed in the
famous ship of the deceased, which was one of the largest in the world;
but neither Odin nor all the gods assembled could move the vessel into
the waters. In this emergency, they had recourse to a famous sorceress
of the giant, namely, of the Jutish race, and she obeyed the call. She
arrived on the back of a wild beast, having serpents for reins. So
dreadful was this animal, that it required four giants to hold it after
she had dismounted. At one push, Gyges sent the ship into the sea; and
so great was its velocity, that the earth trembled. The funeral pile was
then erected by command of Odin, and the body of Balder’s wife, whom
grief brought to the grave, laid on it, close by his. Who was she? The
Edda expressly calls her Nanna, but assigns her another father than
Gewar. There can, however, be no doubt that the beautiful confusion so
prevalent in everything connected with Scandinavian characters and
events, is doubly apparent in this case,—that the wife of Hoder and
Balder is one and the same Nanna, however the tradition in regard to her
may have been distorted. Yet, there is no greater confusion respecting
this lady than there is respecting Hoder himself in the different
relations of Saxo and Snorro, the compiler of the prose Edda. In the one
case, as we have seen, he was a vigorous young prince; in the other, a
blind, feeble, and apparently old one. This diversity of narrative
arises from the diversity of sources consulted by the two historians—the
one confining himself to the national songs of Denmark, the other
consulting the old Norwegian, or rather Icelandic traditions, which the
Scalds had transmitted to posterity. During the middle ages, especially
anterior to the fourteenth century, there was a vast body of legendary
lore respecting Odin, his family, and his sacerdotal companions—lore
from which different Scalds took what they judged most interesting to
their hearers. But reverting to the funeral of Balder, Thor furnished
the consecrated fire: the horse of the deceased hero was placed on the
pyre; and Odin added his golden ring, which had the miraculous virtue of
producing eight other rings every ninth night. Thus, in the presence of
all the gods, satyrs, nymphs, and cyclops, was the conflagration

According to the same venerable authority, namely, the Edda of Snorro,
an attempt was made to recover the soul of Balder from the empire of
Hela, or death. Who would undertake the perilous mission? It was Hermod,
another son of Odin, that, at the entreaty of his mother, saddled
Sleipner, the famous black steed, mounted him, and plunged into the
subterraneous paths which led to the abodes of the dead. This Sleipner
has a reputation never before enjoyed by quadruped. During the frequent
contests between the gods and the giants—that is, between the Goths and
the Jutes—the former were not always victorious; nor were they always
sure of impunity within their fortress, well guarded as it was. One day
an architect appeared before them and proposed to build them such a city
that all the power of Jotunheim should fail against it. For this
service, however, he must have his reward; and a splendid one it was,
the goddess Freya to wife, with the sun and moon as her dowry. They
agreed to his terms, provided he did what no doubt they believed
impossible, viz., execute the work himself, within the space of a single
winter; and they were liberal enough to allow him the use of his horse.
In a short time the gods had reason to be alarmed; for the horse not
only drew stones of vast magnitude, but did more of the architectural
work than the master. Within three days of the completion of winter
nothing remained but the hanging of the gates. In great consternation
the gods assembled to consult by what means the ruin impending might be
averted. As the covenant between them and the architect had been advised
by Loke, they menaced him with death unless he discovered some expedient
to save them. Loke, who has sometimes been called the Scandinavian
devil, was fond of mischief; but he was fonder still of his life: and
that very night he caused a mare to issue from a forest and neigh
amorously. Sleipner, hearing the sound, left the work to pursue the
mare, while the architect followed to recover his horse. Thus the whole
night was lost. The architect now perceived that he must trust to
himself. He resumed his natural size, and there he stood, a veritable
giant—the everlasting enemy of the gods! They did not allow him to
finish the work; but, regardless of their oaths, which in their opinion
were not binding when made to a giant, they called on Thor to dash out
his brains with the awful mallet. In the mean time the mysterious horse
remained with the mare, and the issue of the connection was Sleipner
with eight feet,—the most excellent of all the animals ever possessed by
gods or men.[45]

Such was the animal on which Hermod descended to the regions of Hela.
The description of his journey is highly poetical. During nine days and
as many nights, he travelled down the precipitous way—often abrupt—along
the sides of yawning gulfs—through rugged valleys; and everything was
involved in so great a darkness that he was obliged to grope, or trust
to the instinct of his wondrous beast. At length he reached a river, the
bridge of which was kept by a virgin called Modguder. She inquired his
name, his race, his family; and expressed her surprise at his weight.
“But yesterday,” she observed, “and three legions of dead rode over this
bridge; yet all together did not shake it as much as thou alone. But
thou hast not the look of one dead. What brings thee here?” He replied,
“I am in search of my brother Balder; hast thou seen him pass?”—“I have:
he rode over the bridge: the path to Hecate’s dark abode is still
downwards, towards the north!” On he rode until he came to the gates of
hell, which were closed to all but the dead. But he was not discouraged;
plunging his spurs into his wondrous horse, he cleared the gate, and
proceeded into a hall of vast extent. Here he perceived his brother, who
filled the most honourable place. But far less honourable was it than
the meanest in Valhalla, which Balder could not enter because it had not
been his good fortune to die in battle. It is, however, some consolation
for us, poor mortals, to perceive that hospitality is not forgotten in
the gloomy regions below. Hermod remained the whole night; and the next
morning he acquainted Hela with the anxiety of the gods, of men, of all
nature, for the return of Balder, and besought her to permit it. She
seemed to doubt whether the mourning for the hero was so universal as he
had represented; but, to place the matter beyond dispute, she replied,
that if all objects, inanimate no less than animate, would weep for him,
the request of the gods should be granted. Hermod accordingly rose to
depart. By Nanna he was intrusted with several presents for Frigga, his
mother: from Balder he was the bearer of a ring (no doubt the one which
had been placed in the funeral pile!) to their father Odin. He was then
escorted to the outer gate as if he had been a favoured guest just
leaving the palace of an earthly sovereign. On reaching Asgard, where
Odin then was, he acquainted the gods with the message of Hela. By their
advice agents were sent through all creation, praying everything to weep
for Balder. By everything was the mandate obeyed, except by one old
sorceress, who refused to weep, and said that Hela must keep her

But in the elder or poetical Edda—that of Sæmund the Wise, which in
compilation is antecedent a full century to Snorro’s—the journey to the
shades is attributed to Odin himself. When it was undertaken, Balder was
yet alive, but dreams and portents afflicted him; and, after consulting
the fates, Odin mounted his steed, Sleipner, and descended in darkness
towards the abode of Hela, where a celebrated prophetess had been long
interred. He met the terrible dog which the Greeks preserved in their
mythology, and which, with bloody jaws, barked loudly as he passed
along. Downwards he went, the earth trembling beneath his steed, until
he reached the lofty hall of Hela. From the eastern gate he proceeded to
the spot where he knew the tomb of the prophetess was to be found.
Turning himself towards the north, he then commenced the fatal
incantation, and placed in order the mystic rhymes. Many were the words
of might which he uttered, until he forced the unwilling prophetess to
raise her head, and to speak in the language of men. “What unknown
mortal is he who has thus disturbed my repose? Bleached by the snow,
beaten by the winds, drenched by the rains, have I long remained,—long
here I have been in the arms of death!”—“Vegtam is my name, the son of
Valtam.[47] Tell me the secrets of hell, and I will tell thee what
passes on earth. For whom are these costly benches, for whom these
golden couches prepared?”—“This tempered mead, this liquid nectar awaits
the arrival of Balder. Sorrowful are the sons of heaven. Unwillingly
have I spoken; now my lips shall be closed.”—“Listen, prophetess, for I
must know the whole. Whose hand shall deprive Odin’s son of life?”—“That
of Hoder: he the bruiser shall be of Odin’s son, the spoiler of Balder’s
life! Unwillingly have I spoken; now my lips shall be closed.”—“Listen,
prophetess, for I must know the whole. Who shall revenge on Hoder the
death of the hero? who shall bear the smiter of Balder to the funeral
pyre?”—“Rinda, a virgin of the west, shall bear a son by Odin; he, when
only one night old, shall slay the murderer. His hands he shall not
wash, nor his head shall he comb, until he bears to the funeral pyre the
enemy of Balder. Unwillingly have I spoken; now my lips shall be
closed.”—“Listen, prophetess, for I must know the whole. Who are these
damsels that weep at pleasure and raise their covered heads on high?[48]
Say this only, and thou mayest sleep.”—“Ah! no wandering spoiler art
thou, as I have hitherto believed: well do I know thee for Odin, the
preserver of nations!”—“And thou art not Vala; no prophetess art thou;
but the mother of the three infernal furies!”—“Odin, ride back to thine
house, and there command! Never again will I be consulted by the living
until Loke shall break loose from his fetters, and the dreaded twilight
of the gods arrive!”[49] Such is the dark poetical legend which the
genius of our poet[50]

Gray has immortalised. It is among the most imaginative efforts of the
Scandinavian muse.[51]

According to Saxo, it was not the mystic Vala, but Rostiof, king of the
Finns, who foretold that Odin’s son, by Rinda, should avenge the death
of Balder. That Odin, who was esteemed chief of the gods, should be less
prescient than a Finnish king, may appear strange; but this term _god_
frequently means no more than Goth, and the chief of the gods means only
the head of the pontifical college established, first in Asia, and next
in Sweden. And we must remember that the Finns were expressly declared
to be unrivalled in magic, at least in that dark magic which sought the
injury of mankind. Yet Odin was equally malignant. He could not rest
until he had discovered the maiden whose offspring was thus predestined
to accomplish his purpose. This Rinda was a princess, and, consequently,
demanded more attention than one of humbler birth. The disguises which
he successively assumed at her father’s court; his frequent repulses by
her; his numerous stratagems, and his ultimate triumph under the
character of a physician; are gravely related by the venerable historian
of Denmark. His conduct on these occasions was so unworthy of a god,
that his colleagues at Byzantium (or we should rather suppose Asgard)
removed him for a time from their society, deprived him of his
supernatural powers, degraded him to the level of mortals, and sentenced
him to exile,—a doom which he, therefore, suffered a second time, though
on the former occasion it had been self-imposed.[52] All this, in plain
English, means that he was expelled from the college of priests. This
natural explanation is confirmed by the statement, that in ten years,
the gods, pitying his sufferings, or, perhaps, bribed by flattery and
costly gifts, restored him to all his former privileges. Lest the public
worship should sustain any injury, his place had been supplied by one
Oller, a priest so expert in magic that he could cross the seas on a
bone; but this usurper was slain by the Swedes, just as Mitothin had
been slain. In the mean time Bo, the issue of Odin’s connection with
Rinda, grew up, and was intrusted by the father with the sacred task of
revenge. Accordingly he advanced against the Danish king. Hoder foresaw
his doom; and, in an assembly of chiefs, he prevailed on them to elect
his son, Runi, for his successor. In the battle which followed destiny
was fulfilled: he fell by the hand of Bo; but the victor also received a
mortal wound and died the following day.[53]

All that we have farther to say respecting Odin, in the present
Introduction, may be despatched in a few words. Perceiving his end
approach, he marked his body with a sword, probably to denote the
advantage of dying by that weapon; and declared that he was going to
Godheim or paradise, where he should joyfully receive his people. The
Swedes were persuaded that he was returned to Asgard to enjoy eternal
life; and in this belief his worship was renewed and enlarged. In time
of war, and before great battles, he often appeared to them, promising
victory to some, inviting others to his hall,—in both respects the
harbinger of good. After death he was placed on the funeral pyre, and
burnt with exceeding pomp. His followers believed the higher the smoke
ascended the higher would be his place among the gods; and that the more
abundant the riches consumed with him the richer he would be in the
other world.[54]

From the concurrent testimony of Snorro, Saxo Grammaticus, and the two
Eddas, little doubt can be entertained in regard to the true character
of Odin. He was evidently a conqueror, a king, a priest, a lawgiver, and
an adept in the superstitious practices of his age. Endued with
commanding talents and an unmeasured ambition, he was enabled to take
advantage of circumstances in a degree seldom attained by mortals.
Perceiving the success which attended his views, and the veneration in
which his wisdom was held, he did not hesitate to ascribe both to the
peculiar favour of the gods, from whom, like most of the Scythian
princes, he boasted of his descent. As he was of divine race, why should
he not participate in the privileges of divinity? Short, indeed, is the
transition from veneration to actual worship; and there can be little
doubt that, even in his lifetime, this artful pontiff king had altars
smoking in his honour. But it is worthy of remark that he was often
regarded as a mortal, not merely in his own age, but in subsequent ages;
that the words giants and gods are to be understood of the Jutes and
Goths,—the former, the original possessors of the soil, the latter, the
victorious strangers from Asia—the dominant caste which arrogated to
itself the sacerdotal and regal functions, and thus preserved its empire
over the barbarous, enslaved population. It was some time after his
death before his worship was general in the north; and never would it
have been general had he not been esteemed the god of war, the deity
above all others dear to the ferocious Northmen. Even as it is, he did
not hold the highest rank in the worship of all the Scandinavian
nations. The Norwegians held him inferior to Thor. Still he is by far
the most remarkable person that ever took advantage of human credulity.
Over a considerable portion of Europe his worship was extended; and it
was not a transitory worship; for it prevailed, in Germany, far into the
ninth century; in Denmark and Sweden, a century later; and in some parts
of Norway it was not extinct in the twelfth. Of the religion, however,
which he founded, or which he incorporated with the superstition already
subsisting on his arrival in the north, we shall speak in a future

On the death of Hoder, the sceptre of Denmark, or rather of a portion of
Denmark, passed into the hands of his son _Ruric_. The name of this
prince is interesting to an Englishman, from the fact that the alleged
events on which the tragedy of _Hamlet_ is founded happened in his
reign. According to Saxo, Hamlet was not the son of a Danish king. His
father was Horwendil, governor of Jutland, a famous pirate and vassal of
Ruric; but the authority was not undivided: it was shared by Fengo,
brother of Horwendil. Fengo did nothing to merit the favour of Ruric;
but Horwendil was so valiant and able, that he was honoured with the
hand of Gertrude, daughter of the Danish king. From this marriage sprung
Hamlet, whose history is so famous in the traditions of Denmark. Fengo
could not, without envy, behold the good fortune of his brother: envy
led to hatred, and hatred to fratricide. After this deed he married the
widowed Gertrude, and succeeded to the whole government of Jutland.
Hamlet was no inattentive observer of these events. As a pagan, his
first duty was to revenge his father’s death: a duty, to the force of
which his uncle was fully alive, and watchful to frustrate it. Spies
being set on all his actions, he feigned madness; he painted his face,
put on a strange garb, and uttered the most ridiculous things.
Frequently was he to be seen on the hearth, seated among the ashes, and
making wooden hooks, which he hardened by the heat. His madness,
however, had method in it; and some of his replies, ridiculous as they
seemed, made the experienced doubt whether he should be classed among
the wisest or the most foolish of mankind. “For what purpose are these
hooks?” was one day demanded of him. “For the revenge of my father!” was
the answer. As nobody could see how they could effect that purpose, he
was ridiculed by all but the discerning, who supposed that beneath this
ostentatious display of insanity, a profound object was concealed. Among
these, was jarl Fengo, who, wishing to prove whether the suspicions were
well or ill-founded, had recourse to an expedient. The disposition of
the prince was exceedingly amatory; and it was thought that, if a young
handsome female were sent to him, he would betray himself. The meeting
was to be effected in a wood, and spies were to be placed near him. On
the day appointed, he was commanded to ride into a forest. As usual, he
mounted with his face to the tail, which he held in lieu of a bridle.
There he found the woman; and would have immediately betrayed himself,
had not his foster-brother obscurely hinted that he should beware. The
way in which this intimation was communicated, like many other parts of
Saxo’s narrative, is too gross for translation. Enough to know, that
Hamlet was made to understand the danger of his situation. Among his
virtues, chastity was not to be reckoned; and though the instances of
its violation cannot be recorded in these times, we may observe that,
even on the occasion before us, he indulged his propensity, and was
cunning enough to conceal it. Fengo, therefore, was disappointed; but by
the advice of a friend, he had recourse to another expedient. Under the
pretext of a long absence on affairs of moment, he left the palace, and
provided that Hamlet should be brought into the mother’s presence, while
a spy, unknown to both, should be near them, to hear every word that he
should utter. If he had any reason left, it was not doubted he would be
communicative with one whom he loved, and who he knew would never betray
him. At the time appointed, the courtier hastened to the apartment,
where mother and son were to meet, and hid himself under a heap of straw
that accidentally lay there—a curious illustration of domestic economy
in that age. Immediately afterwards, Hamlet and Gertrude arrived; but
the former was too much aware of the dangers which involved him to
indulge in rational conversation with his mother, until he had examined
the locality. Imitating the crowing of a cock—an imitation in which he
was singularly successful—and waving his arms as if they were wings, he
leaped on the straw, and was immediately sensible that something lay
beneath. With his sword he despatched the intruder. After this act,
while his mother was bewailing his supposed insanity, he fiercely
upbraided her for her incestuous marriage with the murderer of her first
husband. This double crime he did not assail exactly in the manner
represented in the drama, but in one more conformable with the barbarism
of the age, that is, in one of exceeding coarseness.[55] His
remonstrances are said to have kindled the sparks of virtue in her
heart; but the sequel ill corresponded with this moral intention, or
with the refined character which the dramatist has given him. The man
whom he had killed he cut in pieces, boiled the members, and threw them
into the sewer to be eaten by the swine. When Fengo returned, great was
his surprise to find that his courtier had disappeared—that not the
slightest trace of him could be discovered. One day Hamlet, who was
regarded as no more than a motley fool, and to whom questions were put
for amusement only, being asked what had become of his uncle’s friend,
replied, “He fell into the common sewer, and being unable to extricate
himself, was found, and eaten by the swine!” His reply furnished some
amusement to the hearers, who regarded it as a good motley invention.
They did not know that on all occasions, whether grave or trivial,
Hamlet spoke the truth.[56]

But if the multitude were thus deluded, Fengo was not. For his own
safety he felt that the youth must be removed; but to effect this some
management was required. He would not exasperate his wife, still less
the sovereign of Denmark, by openly executing the prince. The deed must
be secret, and done by other than native hands, namely, by those of the
English king, who, we are gravely assured, was a tributary of Denmark.
Before Hamlet’s departure, he privately desired his mother, in one year
from that time, to celebrate his funeral obsequies; assuring her,
however, that he would in one year return. Two creatures of Fengo were
his companions. One night, while they were buried in sleep, he examined
their baggage, and found, carved on wood, the mandate to the English
king. With his usual cunning, he erased a portion of the characters; and
so altered the rest, that the foreign king was to put his two companions
to death, but to show every possible kindness towards _himself_, and
even to give him the hand of an English princess. On their arrival in
England, they presented their wooden mandate, which they were unable to
read; and were invited, with much parade of hospitality, to the royal
table. But while the two messengers were thus deluded, Hamlet was
received with much respect. The more curious reader may consult the
venerable authority before us for an account of what passed at the
English court,—an account as minute as it is romantic. To be brief: the
two messengers were executed; and Hamlet, whose wisdom was so much
admired, obtained the hand of the monarch’s daughter. He pretended,
however, to be much affected by the death of his companions; and to
pacify him, the king gave him a considerable quantity of gold, which he
melted and inclosed in the hollow of two walking sticks. At the
expiration of the year, he obtained leave to revisit his native country;
but, of all his riches, he took only the staves which contained the
gold. On reaching Jutland, he assumed his own motley garb, and reached
the house of his uncle at the very time his funeral rites were
performed. At first, his sudden appearance terrified the domestics and
guests; but terror yielded to mirth when they saw him resume his motley
character. “Where are your two companions?” demanded they. “Here they
are!” was his reply, as he produced his two sticks. Soon he joined the
cup-bearers; and as his long flowing garments interfered with his
activity, he girt his sword round him, but it had no scabbard; and to
impress all the guests with a stronger notion of his insanity, he
frequently grasped the blade until the blood flowed from his fingers.
Little did they suspect his object in thus descending to the meanest
occupation: it was to make all of them beastly drunk, and then to exact
his revenge. So well did he succeed in the first intention, that most of
them, being unable to stagger from the apartment, were compelled to
remain all night in the hall of entertainment. At length, all being
buried in sleep, he cut off the cords which supported a huge curtain
that occupied the whole room: as it fell on the drunken sleepers, by his
wooden hooks he fastened it in many places to the ground; and drawing
the cords over the curtain, so bound them by knots and hooks as to bid
defiance to the efforts of drunken men. Startled by the weight no less
than by the sudden difficulty of breathing, they strove to raise the
curtain, but in vain; it was too well secured to be moved. In this state
they were soon enveloped in flames, which consumed them and the palace.
Fengo retired to his bedroom, and fell asleep: he was awakened by
Hamlet, who, after upbraiding him for his various crimes, put him to
death. He then flew to a safe retreat to watch the progress of events.
Great was the surprise of the Jutes at this disaster; but, as Fengo was
a tyrant, the majority were not displeased. Hamlet, therefore,
reappeared; surrounded himself with those whom he knew to be attached to
the interests of his family; sought the public assembly; and, by his
eloquence, so wrought on the people, that they unanimously declared him
the successor of Fengo.[57]

Into the remaining adventures of Hamlet—all equally wonderful with the
preceding—we cannot enter. Whoever may wish to read his subsequent visit
to Britain; his marriage with a second wife, the queen of Scotland; his
quarrel with the British king, the father of his first wife; his
domestic life with both in his hereditary government of Jutland; his war
with Wiglet, king of Denmark, the successor of his grandfather, Ruric;
his death in battle; and the facility with which the idol of his heart,
his second wife, passed into the arms of the victor, must consult the
venerable Saxo.[58]

We have no wish to pursue farther the list of Danish kings, who,
according to Saxo, reigned prior to our Saviour’s birth. Some of them,
probably, never reigned at all. Others, certainly, reigned _after_ that
event. Others, again, ruled at the same time, over different provinces
of the kingdom. The reigns of many whom Saxo places before the Christian
era are identical with those which the best Danish writers regard as
posterior; and the actions attributed to both are substantially the
same. All writers admit that Denmark had no monarch before Skiold, the
son of Odin; indeed, it had none for some generations afterwards: for
there is room to believe that even his authority was more of a
sacerdotal than of a temporal character. In virtue of this character he
might, and probably did, claim a twofold sovereignty over the peninsula
and islands; but that sovereignty was never virtually exercised—it was
one merely nominal. Several of the islands had their separate governors,
whom Saxo calls kings; and Jutland, as we have seen in the sketch of
Hamlet’s life, had them also. The men whom personal qualities elevated
above the rest, became chiefs; and when one chief had others subject to
him, he assumed the regal title. There were kings of various kinds. We
read of petty kings (sma-konungur, or fylke-konungur); of sea kings,
island kings, and cape kings. The name of the last may require an
explanation. They were neither more nor less than the pirate chiefs, who
lived in caverns or in huts near the promontories, ready, at any moment,
to sally forth and seize the unsuspecting mariner. Thus there were kings
enough scattered over the seas, the forests, the mountains, the maritime
coasts of the north. Probably all those in the Danish islands might
yield a nominal homage, at least, to the one that reigned in Scania in
Zealand. But no dependence whatever can be placed on the list of Danish
kings prior to what we now call the historic times; that is, to about
the eighth century of our era. It is astonishing to see how little
judgment has been exercised by the historians of this country in regard
to the old northern kings. Thus, the authors of the “Universal History,”
not satisfied with giving the names of the sovereigns from Dan to Frode
III., have been so far misled by the Latin historians of Denmark, as to
fix the precise year before Christ when each began his reign.[59]

But later writers have made sad work with this list. They contend that
some of the names are altogether fabulous; that Skiold reigned only
forty years before Christ; Frode I., thirty-five years after Christ;
Wermund, one hundred and fifty; Roe and Helge, in the fifth century of
our era. The truth, however, is, that while no dependence is to be
placed on the genealogical series of the former, very little is due to
the latter. The whole, prior to the eighth century, is one mass of
confusion. If the names of many princes are to be found, not merely in
the earliest writers of the north, but on Runic inscriptions, no power
of criticism can fix the period in which they reigned. All is pure
conjecture; and one system is preferable to another, only so far as it
is more reconcilable to common sense. Yet, while we thus reject some of
the ancient sovereigns whom Saxo and the elder chroniclers have handed
down to us, we are not so sceptical as to reject the majority. If, prior
to Odin’s arrival, the north had no monarchs, it had kings, or, if the
reader pleases, chiefs, whose office was sometimes hereditary, sometimes
elective. It would, perhaps, be more accurate to say that, while they
succeeded by hereditary right to the domains of their predecessors, as
_generals_ and _judges_, they were elected by the free-born warriors. Of
these some were, beyond all doubt, elevated into monarchs by tradition;
from tradition they passed into the songs of the Scalds; and from these
songs their memory was perpetuated by the old chroniclers. For this
reason we have not consigned them to total oblivion. Nothing is more
easy than scepticism; but if scepticism be, as it assuredly is,
allowable in regard to many details, it is no less blameable than
credulity, when it rejects the whole substance of history. On the whole,
the safest conclusion is, that, while some of Saxo’s kings are
imaginary—while many which he places before, doubtless reigned after,
our Saviour—while he has confounded the whole order of succession, so as
hopelessly to perplex the reader—a few, probably, lived and reigned
before the establishment of the Gothic dynasty.[60]


                                BOOK I.

                             THE PAGAN AGE.

                     HALF FABULOUS, HALF HISTORIC.


                               CHAPTER I.

                          B.C. 40—A. D. 1014.


IF, in regard to the kings who reigned prior to the Christian era, we
have witnessed so much confusion, we shall not witness less in the
series which followed that event. No two chroniclers, unless the one be
immediately derived from the other, agree in this respect. Strange to
say, this discrepancy as to names and dates is observable in regard to
comparatively recent kings; to those, for instance, of the eighth and
ninth centuries,—Snorro, Saxo, Sweyn, Aggesen, Torfœus, Suhm,—all
differ, not only as to the order of succession, but as to the names
themselves.[61] Whence this difference? Doubtless from a variety of
causes. In the first place, the title of Rex Danorum, or king of the
Danes, was applied to the governors of Jutland, no less than to those
whose seat was in Zealand and Scania. As either became the more
powerful, he claimed a place among the descendants, or, at least, the
successors, of Skiold. In the second place, it frequently happened that
Jutland, or Zealand, or Scania was subdued by the neighbouring kings of
Norway and Sweden, and they were, without hesitation, admitted as kings
of Denmark. Add the number of revolutions inseparable from such a
lawless state of society,—where king after king was driven into exile,
or put to death, or forced to bend, for a while, before the torrent of
invasion,—and we can scarcely be surprised at the difference, extreme as
it is, between the lists of Scandinavian kings. Where, however, accuracy
is not to be attained, or even an approximation to it, conjecture is
useless. The personages whose names and presumed dates are to be found
in the note below[62], and who are received by modern historians,
certainly ruled over some part of Denmark; but whether they were all
that ruled in that country,—whether some of them did not reign in the
more northern provinces,—whether they reigned in the order assigned to
them,—may well be doubted.[63] It would be easy to construct a new list,
as probable, at least, as any of those which we have transcribed in the
notes; but where Torfœus, and Suhm, and other recent writers have
failed, there would be something like presumption in the attempt. We are
bound to declare that little dependence is to be placed on any one that
northern erudition has yet formed; nearly as little on Suhm’s as on any
that preceded it. For this reason we have inserted the three most common
lists, leaving the reader to admit or reject whatever names he pleases.
Again, however, we must caution him not to reject any merely on the
ground of their having been omitted by more recent writers. Denmark had,
sometimes,—indeed, we might say frequently,—three or four sovereigns at
the same time; and when their power was nearly balanced, nothing could
be more difficult than to say which of them was the legitimate Rex
Danorum. Nor can this confusion, at the present day, be surprising, when
we find Adam of Bremen complaining of it. “Tanti autem reges, immo
tyranni Danorum, utrum simul aliqui regnaverunt, an alter post alterum
brevi tempore vixit, incertum est.”[64]

Of these kings, down to the ninth century, very little is known. The
truth is, most of them were petty feudal chiefs, inconsiderable as those
of the Scottish Highlands, during the middle ages. It is acknowledged by
the most critical of the Danes themselves, that even the islands which
now constitute so small a portion of the monarchy were not united under
one sceptre until the middle of the fourth century. This honour is
ascribed to Dan, surnamed Mykillati, or the Magnanimous, the sixth in
descent from Skiold. There can, however, be no doubt that both a too
early period has been assigned to this event, and that a dismemberment
of these islands was frequently effected. Certainly we read of
independent principalities in them as late as the eighth century.
Jutland, which forms so considerable a portion of the monarchy, had its
separate governors, or kings, who, though sometimes dependent on the
kings of Zealand, were often at war with them, and rulers over them.
Doubtless the peninsula and islands were frequently under the same
sceptre; but the union was a violent one, and was preserved only as long
as the victor had the necessary means to reward obedience. If we read of
such unions as early as the fifth century, or even the fourth, we also
read of separate kings in Jutland as late as the ninth. The truth is,
when the author of the forced union paid the debt of nature, the
monarchy was immediately dismembered, and its separate parts received
their local rulers. Where, from time immemorial, island has been at war
with island, district with district, nothing is so difficult as to
effect a cordial union between them. Ages are required to destroy the
hostility which ages have confirmed. Those isolated governments
preserved no record of their transactions; the memory of them was
perpetuated by tradition alone, or by the metrical songs to which that
tradition gave rise. Both _create_ in a degree much greater than they
perpetuate,—a fact illustrated by the whole course of northern history
prior to the ninth century. Hence the confusion, the contradictions, the
darkness which rest upon it, and the impossibility of yielding much
credence to the relations of ancient or modern writers on the subject.
As, however, all these relations have some foundation in truth, it would
be unwise, and even unjust, to bury in utter oblivion the names and
alleged deeds of the kings antecedent to the historic times.[65]

[Sidenote: B.C. 4. to A.C. 35.]

Of _Skiold_, the reputed founder of the monarchy, who was probably king
of Zealand only, though he might have a nominal superiority over the
rest, we have little even in the way of fable. To his great bodily
strength and indomitable courage, which are communicated by Saxo, we
have before alluded[66]; and in the same manner we have alluded to the
deeds, real or fabulous, of his more immediate successors. _Frode I._,
whom Saxo calls Frode III., was no less valiant than Skiold, since he
conquered from Hungary to Iceland, and from Sweden to the south of
Germany. The truth probably is, that he joined some one of the warlike
confederations, then so common, against the power of Rome; and that the
expedition into Germany, being undertaken rather for plunder than for
glory, was successful. But this prince deserves greater praise, from the
zeal with which he destroyed the numerous banditti, humbled the
tyrannical nobles, protected the poor, and reformed the tribunals of his
kingdom. Some of his edicts were severe. He who suffered a thief to
escape should himself suffer the punishment of one. He who fled in
battle should be accounted a public enemy. If one Dane robbed another,
he was to return twofold, and at the same time suffer public
chastisement. If a man gave refuge to a thief, with the stolen property
about him, he was to be whipped in a public assembly of the people, and
regarded as _criminis particeps_. If any one banished for his crimes
fought against his native country, he forfeited both property and life.
In some of his other regulations there was more humanity. To females he
gave the power of marrying whomsoever they wished, provided they chose a
mate in an equal condition of life; for the free woman who married or
sinned with a slave, became a slave herself. If a man forced a woman, he
was compelled to marry her. In other respects the laws which he
promulgated, or rather confirmed, were nearly identical with those of
the Germanic tribes, that, in a former publication, occupied so much of
our attention.[67] If there be any truth in history, they were eminently
successful; for it is recorded of Frode I., as of a few other
sovereigns, that when articles of value were left on the highway, no man
presumed to touch them. He was the great patron of valour: slaves were
not, as in other Germanic tribes, forbidden the use of arms; nor were
they deprived of the hope of liberty, since a single act of valour would
elevate them in the social grade. The real actions, however, of this
prince are so mingled with fable,—fable at once grotesque and
imaginative,—that we know not what to believe respecting him. That he
once lived; that he was a great warrior; that he was generally
victorious; that his internal administration was vigorous; that he was
an unrivalled pirate,—his fleets committing depredations on all the
coasts of the Baltic,—cannot be disputed with much reason. His was the
heroic age. The north swarmed with kings. On one occasion, alone, thirty
were assembled in the Baltic. Did they recognise a superior authority?
Probably they did; for Frode was frequently accompanied by these
tributaries. The truth seems to be, that when any sovereign of Jutland,
or Scania, or Sigtun, or any other place in Denmark, Sweden, or Norway,
obtained much celebrity as a warrior, the local chiefs—who always
assumed the regal title—were always ready to seek his protection, and to
serve under his banner. Though this obedience was temporary, a
preference was usually given to such of the more powerful kings as were
of the divine race,—the race of Odin; but amidst the vicissitudes
inseparable from such a state of society, a fortunate adventurer often
dispossessed the legitimate claimant; and on ascending a throne
illustrated by glorious recollections, his own personal qualities gave
him an immediate ascendancy over most of his royal neighbours.[68]

The reign of Frode should not be dismissed without adverting to the hero
who shed the most lustre on it, the renowned Arngrim, and to his magic
sword, Tyrfing, the destroyer of men. According to Saxo, he was a
Swedish champion, who, having triumphed over another hero, had the
boldness to demand from Frode the hand of Osura, daughter of that
monarch. Finding the royal Dane too proud to listen to him, he was
advised by Eric of Sweden to achieve something more splendid than he had
yet attempted, and then to renew his suit. Without loss of time he led
his small but valiant band of warriors against two petty kings,—the one
of Biarmia, the other of Finland,—who had despised the Danish power.
“The Finns,” says the historian, “are the last people towards the north,
and their region is so barren as scarcely to be habitable. They are good
marksmen: no people surpass them in throwing missiles. They fight with
long and broad arrows, are skilful in magical incantations, and delight
in hunting. Their abode is variable. They wander about and encamp
wherever they can find wild beasts. Borne on sledges, they traverse with
safety the snowy peaks of the mountains.” Of their skill in magic,
Arngrim had immediate proof. He defeated them, indeed; but then they
cast three stones behind them, which, though very small stones, seemed
to their pursuers huge as mountains. The trick succeeded; for Arngrim,
discouraged by the abrupt eminences and steep rocks before him, recalled
his men. The next day, through the same power of song, a vast river
seemed to interpose between the invaders and the natives, and the former
again returned. The third day, however, the Swedes were not to be
deluded; the Finns were defeated, and compelled to pay tribute. The king
of Biarmia shared the same fate, and Arngrim, on his return, became the
son-in-law of Frode. By the princess, Osura, he had, subsequently,
twelve sons, all of whom became hardy pirates, the most honourable
profession then known in the north. But their end was tragical. Landing
one day in the isle of Samsoe, they destroyed the crews of two
boats,—all pirates like themselves. But their joy was short. By the two
chiefs, who had penetrated into the interior, they were suddenly
assailed, and destroyed to the last of the number, one of the victors,
Hialmar, dying of the wounds which he had received.[69]

This relation by the Danish historian, which, with the exception of the
magical incidents, is probably true, is too simple for the Scalds, who
have reared on this basis a long and most ingenious narrative,—one that
may aspire to the dignity of an epic. We dwell upon it, however, not for
the fancy that created it, but for the light which it throws upon the
manners of the period. In ancient times there reigned a king called
Swafurlam, whose grandfather had received the dominion from the awful
hands of Odin himself. He was no less valiant than his ancestor. He had
no sooner succeeded to the inheritance than he was called to revenge his
father’s death on a famous giant, the terror of the north. He killed the
monster, and took to wife Frida, the beautiful daughter of the slain.
Such adventures are of perpetual occurrence in the histories of the
north. The life of no chief was secure; at any moment he might be
surprised and slain, or defied to mortal combat, by one his superior in
strength or skill. In the event of his fall, his wife, his children, all
he had, became the property of the victor. In general, the Norwegian
maiden—if she had no prior attachment—passed without much reluctance
into the arms of her father’s murderer. That father she could not by her
tears recall to life; and she might be happy with one who had acted in
conformity with the manners of the age, and who certainly might be able
to protect her, in a state of society in which women stood most in need
of protection. Frida was satisfied with her lot; so far, at least, as
Swafurlam was concerned. She had, indeed, reason to lament that a
daughter was the only issue of their union; that no Herculean boys were
rising before her to protect both herself and her husband, when age
should have bent his sinewy frame. That period she knew must come,
though Time might do his work more slowly with him than with less
vigorous men. But it was not his lot to fall into “the sear and yellow
leaf.” Before his strength had time to leave him, there arrived in those
parts a champion, whose object was to defy and vanquish every hero of
note. This was Arngrim, who had never yet fled before mortal man; who in
every duel had been victorious. Swafurlam did not much relish the
approaching struggle. Still less did Frida, who could not avoid
remembering the death of her father, or fearing that her husband might
share the same fate. Eyvor, too, their beautiful daughter, was
apprehensive of the result; for this Arngrim, who was young and
vigorous, while her father was past life’s meridian, was a _berserk_,
that is, shirtless,—one that wore no defensive armour,—that trusted only
to his own strength, which, during certain fits of madness, was
increased in a prodigious measure. When these fits were on him he
despised steel, water, fire, as much as if they were harmless; nor did
he care whether the foe he had to oppose were one or one thousand. He,
therefore, was not likely to prove an invincible husband,—to atone for
the loss of a father. To conceal his uneasiness, or rather to divert
that ominous feeling which men sometimes experience on the eve of a
great crisis, Swafurlam went into the mountains to hunt.[70] A beautiful
white stag soon appeared in sight, and was as soon pursued; but nothing
could equal the creature’s provoking coolness. It was not frightened; it
was not hurried; it ran, then turned round as if waiting for its
pursuers, and just when they believed they were on the point of seizing
it, it bounded forward to delude them a second time. Never was the king
so ardent in the sport. Night descended; still he rode on; and the beams
of the full unclouded moon enabled him to see everything nearly as well
as in the broad daylight. Midnight came; still the hunters were
following the stag. But it suddenly disappeared through an opening in
the rocks, leaving Swafurlam in a terrible rage at the loss of his prey.
Two dwarfs—so the Icelanders call the _fairies_—issued from the opening,
and these he drew his sword to destroy, when, remembering that the whole
race were skilful in the manufacture of enchanted weapons, he promised
to spare their lives on the condition that, within three days, they
would make him one that should never miss its blow—that should never
rust—that should cut the hardest steel as easily as leather—that should
always bring victory to the owner. The covenant was made; and, at the
end of three days, Swafurlam returned for the weapon. It was ready for
him, and on one side of the blade was written,—

                  Draw me not, unless in fray;
                  Drawn, I pierce; and piercing, slay.

And he was at the same time cautioned, though in terms somewhat
oracular, to beware of the weapon. On his return home he found that
Arngrim had reached it. The latter was treated with the utmost
hospitality. For him the sable hams were soaked and boiled, the wild
fowl were placed on the spit, vegetables boiled, new bread made, the ale
cask tapped, the table spread with the abundant feast, and the
minstrel’s song made to enliven an entertainment which the fine hands of
mother and daughter had prepared, and which both honoured with their
presence. This was, truly, more than Homeric: the most magnanimous of
Grecian dames would not have thus welcomed the man who was about to
engage in mortal conflict with husband or brother. The feelings of the
wife, indeed, on beholding the sinewy frame of the guest, must have been
painful: her heart failed her; and she was glad when the increasing
power of the cup authorised her and her daughter to retire. The
following day her worst fears were verified. Though Swafurlam, at the
first onset, cleft in two the shield of his adversary, the very force of
his blow was fatal to him: he struck his magic sword into the ground,
and, before he could withdraw it, his right hand was amputated by the
berserk, who snatched the weapon from the lifeless member and gave the
king a mortal wound in the head. Eyvor became the wife of the victor,
who bore her, no less than the spoils of her father’s palace, to his
Norwegian home.[71]

It was now Eyvor’s turn to be anxious. Might not a warrior, still more
valiant than her husband, arrive, and render her, like her mother, a
forsaken widow? Might not the weapon which had cost her father his life
prove equally fatal to one dearer? Often did she request him to bury it
under ground; but he was in no humour to part with his most valued
treasure, especially as it enabled him to return invincible from all his
expeditions. Her fears, however, for _him_ were vain: they should have
been excited for her twelve sons, whom she bore in twelve years after
her marriage, and who were all warriors—all berserks—all doomed to an
early grave. One of them vowed to the god Braga that he would have to
wife the princess Ingburga, or perish in the attempt. As all were
brothers in arms no less than brothers in blood, all bound to assist
each individual of the number, to make the cause of each a common cause,
they took the same view. Arngrim, now waxen in years, took his leave of
them with a heavy heart; he felt that he must see them no more; and his
only consolation was, that when the Nornies, or fatal sisters, call,
they will be obeyed. They had to fight on the desert isle of Samsoe with
two heroes, Hialmar and Oddur, each at the head of a hundred Swedes, and
each renowned for prowess throughout the north. The former, too, was the
accepted lover of Ingburga, accepted by her father no less than by
herself. On their way to the island, the eldest of Arngrim’s twelve
sons, Angantyr, took to wife Swafa, the daughter of a celebrated jarl,
and their course was much delayed by the festivities demanded on the
occasion. This jarl had the same dark forebodings as their own father.
Fain would he have persuaded them to remain with them; but their honour
would not allow of this, and away they sailed. On their landing at the
place appointed, their accustomed fit seized them, and they destroyed
the 200 followers of Hialmar and Oddur, who were then absent in the
interior of the island. Mighty was the destruction, by Tyrfing, which
was wielded by the powerful Angantyr, and which, on this occasion, might
truly be called the death of men. Hialmar and Oddur soon returned to
find their companions drenched in gore; but, fortunately for the two
heroes, the strength of the berserks was now greatly diminished—in other
words, the fit was over, and they were become like other men. Still the
magic sword and the superiority of numbers compensated to the sons of
Arngrim for their somewhat exhausted spirits. They would have more than
compensated had not Oddur worn a quilted coat, which magic rendered
impenetrable to the keenest weapon. The conflict soon engaged. On the
one hand, Hialmar was opposed to Angantyr with the magic sword; on the
other, Oddur, with the magic quilt, encountered, one by one in
succession, the eleven brothers of Angantyr. After a terrible struggle
of some length, Hialmar fell, pierced by the dreaded Tyrfing, but
Angantyr also received a mortal wound, and Oddur slew all his eleven
antagonists. The dead were buried by the only survivor, the fatal sword
being buried along with Angantyr, according to the last request of that

The widow of Angantyr bemoaned the death of her valiant husband. For a
time she refused consolation; but finding herself pregnant, she began to
hope that her issue would avenge the death of father and uncles. Though
she gave birth to a female child, still hope did not forsake her. From
infancy, indeed, Hervor delighted in masculine pursuits. Her stature was
equal to that of the other sex; and her spirit was in no respect
inferior. No sooner did she approach woman’s estate than she exhibited
all her natural ferocity. She put on armour; did no little mischief; and
when upbraided for her excess, fled to the woods, to rob and murder
passengers. In vain did her guardians endeavour to rescue her from such
pursuits; in vain did they try to conceal from her the circumstances
which preceded her birth, and even her parentage, pretending that she
was the daughter of a mere shepherd, and the offspring of an incestuous
connection. But she had seen or dreamt far other things; and, despising
her present inaction, she resumed her masculine attire, and joined a
band of pirates, of whom, in a short time, she became the chief. Her
fame, under the name of Herward, was widely spread. Many were the coasts
which she visted and laid waste. At length, coming to the isle of
Samsoe, where she heard her father and kindred were buried, she
announced to her followers her resolution to go on shore for the purpose
of despoiling the tombs of the hidden treasure. They assured her that
the whole island was infested by malignant genii,—that it was the most
dangerous of all places. But nothing could deter her from her purpose. A
shepherd, whom she met, wondered at her temerity; told her that she must
be ignorant, indeed, of the terrors of the place, since no one could be
there after sunset without extreme peril; and invited her to accept of
such hospitality as his humble cottage afforded. After that time, he
added, the tombs, and the very ground, emitted such flames that no one
who remained could be safe. She could not be moved; asserted that if the
whole island was on fire, she would not fear; and insisted on knowing
the exact spot where the tombs might be found. Amazed at her audacity,
and supposing her to be a fool, the shepherd ran home before the
departure of the sun should permit the demons to injure him; while she
penetrated into the island. She soon reached the dreadful scene. Fires
issued from the sepulchres, the inmates of which wandered about; fires
issued from the path itself, before, behind, around her. Still she
proceeded, with spirit undaunted, until she came to the greatest of the
tombs, that which contained the ashes of her father, Angantyr. There she
commenced her incantation, which is abridged below.[73] The subsequent
adventures of Hervor and this wondrous sword must be briefly related. On
her return to the sea-shore, she found that her companions, terrified by
the unusual fires and the sudden thunder, had fled. At length, however,
a ship bore her to the court of Godmund, an aged king, with whom she
remained a short time only, owing to the fatal Tyrfing. As she was one
day watching the king and his son at play, she perceived a domestic of
the palace draw the weapon which she had left on her seat. Knowing that
the prophecy must be fulfilled by the death of some one present, she ran
to the domestic, took the weapon from him, killed him, left the palace,
and again betook herself to the piratical life. Her fame, both for
valour and beauty, was so great, that Hafod, the son of Godmund,
solicited and obtained her hand. Of this marriage the issue were
Angantyr and Heidrek,—the former noted for his excellent, the latter for
his mischievous qualities, both far surpassing the rest of mankind in
stature and valour. Heidrek was the favourite of Hervor; Angantyr, of
her husband; but such were the ill qualities of the younger prince, that
by Hafod he was not allowed to remain at court, but was sent away to be
educated by one of the heroes of the time. On reaching his eighteenth
year, he visited the palace without the consent of his father; but his
disposition leading him to embroil the guests in a fatal affray, he was
exiled by Hafod, who had succeeded to the throne of Godmund. Hervor,
being permitted to bid him adieu, presented him with the magic
sword,—the best gift in the power of a fond mother to bestow. The
prophecy of her father, Angantyr, when she so rashly took it from the
tomb, was immediately fulfilled. Heidrek drew it, brandished it, and,
whether intentionally or otherwise, slew his brother Angantyr. To escape
his father’s anger, which doomed him to death, he fled into the woods,
living on the produce of the chase, and pursued by remorse. By his sword
he freed king Harald of Sweden from the oppressive sway of two great
chiefs. In return, he received the hand of the monarch’s daughter, and
by her had a son, whom he called, after his own brother, Angantyr. But
the sword Tyrfing was doomed to make sad havock among his connections.
In his hands it was soon fatal to Harald, his father-in-law; and this
event led his royal bride to hang herself. Some years afterwards he
undertook the education of a Norwegian prince, whom he loved. One day,
while hunting in the forest, his spear broke, and he immediately drew
the formidable Tyrfing. As it could not be returned to the scabbard
until it had tasted some blood, and as the prince, only, was with him,
the beloved innocent fell beneath the weapon. But it was, at length,
fatal to himself. One night, while he was asleep in his tent, his slaves
rose, drew Tyrfing, and slew him. His son Angantyr pursued them, slew
them by night, and thus recovered the weapon. In the hands of the new
possessor it still vindicated its fated character. With it, in open
battle, he slew his brother, whom a Swedish princess had born to
Heidrek. At length, however, it seems to have been again buried in the
tomb of its victim; and, fortunately for the north, no Hervor
subsequently arose to charm it from the ghastly hand which held it.[74]

Angantyr, like all his race, was a hero by profession, a champion who
fought as much for reputation as for plunder. This institution is one of
the most singular features in northern history. Sometimes a champion
fought alone, wandering, like the knight errants of a later age, from
country to country, not, however, to relieve distressed captives, or to
perform any other act of humanity, but to triumph, by strength or
dexterity, over the most renowned warriors of the time. Generally,
however, these men were members of some fraternity, the guards of some
king, whose first duty was to defend his person, on land or sea; their
second to humble his enemies, or assist his allies. “The sagas,”
observes a modern writer, who has devoted much of his time to northern
antiquities, “are filled with duels, or single combats, between these
champions and their adversaries, and the scene was generally some little
island near the coast. These combats, in which one champion sometimes
vanquished and slew many enemies, and which took place also between sea
or land kings and champions, were so frequent, that he who was just
entering on the career of arms, or who desired to obtain a wider
reputation, betook himself to this medium, and without the least motive
of hatred or resentment, provoked other champions, other pirates, to
fight him. These heroes entered into associations, or fraternities,
which they sealed with their blood, and which death only could dissolve.
Sometimes they were furnished by the kings or chiefs whom they served
with statutes, fixing their number, their privileges, and duties.” In
general, the statutes excluded all warriors under eighteen or beyond
sixty years of age. The number in each fraternity varied from half a
dozen to fifty. Rolf, a prince of Norway, had a famous society of this
kind. No man unable to lift a stone, or rather rock, which lay in the
court-yard of the prince, and which twelve ordinary men could not raise,
was admitted into the body. Lest they should become luxurious, they were
forbidden to sleep under a roof; with the same view, they were to shun
female society; to inspire them with contempt for pain and danger, they
were not to have their wounds dressed before the end of the battle, or
to seek a shelter during a storm at sea. But all fraternities were not
thus rigorously excluded from intercourse with the fair sex. To most
heroes, indeed, the opportunities which the profession afforded of
capturing handsome women and rendering them their companions by sea and
land, was the chief inducement to embrace it. In such an age, no
handsome woman—at least, if high-born—could be safe. By night or day her
dwelling might be assailed, her guardians slain, and herself borne to
the swift vessel waiting for her. What, indeed, could resist a chief
surrounded by so many champions, especially if they happened to be
berserks? If there be any truth in history, the strength of these men
when the fit came upon them was supernatural.[76] The mischief, however,
was, that if they had no enemy before them, they assailed inanimate
objects, or even one another. On one occasion, twelve heroes (the sons
of Arngrim) fell upon the masts and deck of two ships, which they rent
into splinters; and when these were destroyed, they turned their rage
against the trees and rocks. On another, a celebrated sea king put to
death six out of the twelve champions who accompanied him. Sometimes,
too, it happened that the berserks, when under the dominion of their
strange frenzy, did not spare themselves. Thus the five sons of Siwald,
king of Sweden, were seen to throw themselves into the fire, and to
swallow burning pieces of wood.[77]

When these warriors, whether berserks or simple champions, fought for
their chief and country, their services were useful. But sometimes it
happened that they were as fond of turning their arms against their
fellow-subjects as against their hereditary enemies. Others, again,
openly embraced the career of bandits; and though pursued with great
zeal by the neighbouring chiefs, were frequently able, from their
mountain fastnesses, to defy all hostility. Such a band _Fridleif II._
resolved to destroy; and he succeeded in his object, but more through
stratagem than force. He was, however, a valiant chief. Like many other
northern kings, he had to fight for his wife. Seeing that he could not
obtain Frogerth, daughter of Asmund, a king of Norway, by the ordinary
way of embassy, he invaded the country, subdued and slew the father, and
seized upon the princess. But he was not faithful to her. By a
concubine—or, perhaps, another wife, for these old pagans did not
exactly understand the difference between the two—he had a son, whom he
named Olaf. Probably he loved this son more than prince Frode, whom
Frogerth bore to him: so, at least, we should infer from the anxiety
with which he consulted the fates in reference to the child’s fortunes.
Having performed the usual rites, and said the usual prayers, he entered
the temple of the Nornies. Each of the three sisters occupied her seat.
Two were favourable to the child, whom they endowed with noble gifts;
but the third lessened their value by associating them with avarice.
This custom, Saxo assures us, prevailed among the ancients. Of Olaf,
however, we read no more: the sceptre was not inherited by him, but by
_Frode II._, if Saxo be right, and by Havar, if any faith is to be
placed on the Icelandic chroniclers. But as, for the reasons we have
already detailed, there is little certainty in the royal lists of
either, we gladly leave their disputed order of succession to be settled
by the native historians of Denmark.[78]

The reigns of Frode and of _Ingel_, his son, have little interest beyond
what they derive from their association with the name of Sterkodder, the
Hercules of the north, whose exploits were in the mouths of all men,
even in Saxo’s time. The gigantic limbs, the indomitable spirit of this
hero, were regarded as supernatural,—as the gifts of the gods to answer
a certain purpose. According to some, it was Thor who knit together the
sinews of his frame; others gave the honour to Odin. This deity, say the
legends, being anxious to destroy Wikar, a king of Norway, yet unwilling
to do so openly, destined Sterkodder to this service, from his cradle.
Hence his enormous size and force of mind: hence, also, his skill in
poetry, which was to assist him in the great enterprise before him.
Grateful for their gifts, and for the protracted existence which had
been decreed him, he soon devised the means of pleasing the god. He
offered his services as a champion to Wikar, who, being justly proud of
such a companion in arms, was inseparable from him. After some maritime
expeditions, undertaken for the sole object of plunder, he found an
opportunity of effecting Wikar’s destruction. A tempest of unusual fury
was still more unusual from its duration. The gods were evidently
offended, and must be appeased by human blood. Lots were cast into the
urn, and the king’s name was drawn as the victim. The crew, indeed, were
horrified at the thought of sacrificing a king,—and they wished him to
be executed in appearance only; but Sterkodder, preferring the reality,
strangled Wikar, then opened his body and examined his entrails, as
gravely as any aruspex of ancient Rome. He then betook himself to a
piratical life, and obtained even more celebrity for his admirable
continence than for his exploits, superhuman as they were. He never
partook, even slightly, of intoxicating liquors: he never indulged in
the remotest species of luxury. His services to different kings (for he
was truly a wandering champion, a knight errant of those barbarous
times) are the constant theme of admiration. Throughout the whole of
northern Europe, from Russia and Hungary to Iceland, his fame was
spread. Probably there were several heroes of this name, and the
exploits of all ascribed to one. Frode was one of his favourite masters,
and one whose bravery he admired. But on the accession of Ingel, the son
of Frode, whose luxury and intemperance contrasted strongly with the
sobriety of the late king, and still more with his own, he would no
longer remain at the court of Denmark. Yet he always bore an
affectionate regard for the offspring of Frode. Thus, when he heard that
Helga, the sister of Ingel, had so forgotten her royal dignity as to
receive, without indignation, the addresses of a low mechanic (auri
apifex obscuræ stinpis), full of zeal for the honour of her house, he
hastened to her residence, killed the mechanic, and sharply upbraided
her for the baseness of her inclinations. On another occasion, however,
he gratified as much as he had now offended her. Her hand being sought
by Helge, a king of Norway, Ingel replied that he should have it on the
condition of his fighting with certain champions. He accepted the
condition; but when he heard that his opponents, whom he was to fight
all at once, were Angantyr and eight brothers, sons of a Zealand
chief[79], he was alarmed for the result. He consulted Helga, who seems
to have had little difficulty in transferring her affections from a dead
to a living suitor, what he should do; and she advised, to implore the
aid of Sterkodder, then in Sweden. He hastened to the veteran warrior,
who readily promised to serve the daughter of Frode. This promise he
fulfilled by hastening to the court of Ingel, and killing all the nine
champions. But the wounds of the victor were many and severe, being
seventeen in number, and his bowels protruding from some of them. In
this state he dragged himself to the banks of a river, to quench his
thirst; but the water being corrupted by the blood of the combatants, he
refused to drink of it; and with great difficulty he crept to a rock
near at hand, and sat upon it. So huge was his bulk, that it left a deep
impression on the stone. (Saxo, indeed, believes that this impression
was made by human hands, and not by the body of Sterkodder.) While in
this position, in the utmost need of help, the proud soul of the warrior
refused to receive it from base hands. A herald, or rather spy, passed
by, and offered aid. It was refused, and the man cursed for his
presumption. Another passed, and being asked his condition, replied
that, though he was free, he had married a slave, and to procure her
enfranchisement, he laboured for her master. The hero upbraided him for
his base inclination;—why did he not take a free woman to his bed?—and
bade him begone. A female now approached, and being asked her condition,
replied that she was a slave, and the mother of an infant child; he bade
her go home and give suck to her brat, for he would have none of her
help. Next passed a free-born peasant, whose good offices he received,
and whose honourable calling he praised. After the lapse of some time,
he repaired to the palace of Ingel, whom he resolved to upbraid for two
things;—for unbecoming dissipation, and for neglecting the most
important filial duties,—the revenge of Frode’s death. In a mean
disguise he entered the hall of feasting, and seated himself in an
honourable place. He was immediately commanded, by the queen, to remove
to one more becoming his fortunes. He arose, went to the other end of
the hall, and seated himself on the bench with such force as to shake
the building, and threaten the fall of the roof. At this moment king
Ingel returned from the chase, recognised the veteran warrior, upbraided
the queen for her neglect of so illustrious a guest, and endeavoured, by
the best attentions, to dissipate his anger. But when he perceived at
the royal table the sons of Swerting, the murderers of Frode, and the
ostentatious luxury of the feast, he grew still darker. To appease him,
the queen drew a coronet from her brow, and presented it to him; yet he
not only rejected it, but threw it in her face. To charm him, the lute
was played: he sat like a statue, scorning alike the host, the guests,
the costly viands. A trumpet next sounded: he threw a bone which he was
picking at the head of the musician. But his chief wrath was turned
against the king, whom he apostrophised in no measured terms. At length
Ingel was affected by his reproaches; he drew his sword; Sterkodder did
the same; and the floor was soon covered with the blood of the
murderers. After this exploit, the champion, in great joy, took leave of
the king, whom he saw no more. One of his remaining actions was little
worthy of his fame. By twelve conspirators of Zealand, who detested the
yoke of Olo, their king, he was bribed to murder that sovereign, and he
did so in the bath. The reward which he received for this inglorious
deed—one hundred and twenty pounds of gold—afforded him no pleasure:
remorse took possession of his soul; he sighed whenever the name of Olo
was mentioned; and his days were miserable. In addition to this
calamity, age and blindness visited him; and he became so weary of life,
that he resolved to leave it. To die in the ordinary course of nature
was not fitting a champion, still less one that aspired to the banquets
of Odin.[80] Supporting himself on two crutches, with two swords at his
side, he placed himself by the highway, having round his neck the gold
which he had received for the murder of Olo, and which was to be the
reward of the man who should do the same friendly office for him. But he
scorned to die by an ignoble hand; and when a rustic, thinking two
swords were too many for an old man, asked him for one, he bade the
rustic approach for it, and killed him on the spot. Two companions of a
prince whose father Sterkodder had killed, one day advanced against him;
but he killed both with his crutches. The prince, struck with equal
admiration and fear, approached, and a conversation of some length, in
which the hero boasted of his past deeds, followed between them. At the
conclusion, Sterkodder, aware of the youth’s noble birth, and convinced
that he could not die by a better hand, begged Hother to kill him, and
held out his sword for the purpose. The prince hesitated; but being told
that the act would be a pious duty towards the manes of his father, and
being still more influenced by the view of the gold, he separated the
head from the gigantic body of the hero.[81]

Whatever portion of the marvellous may exist in such stories as the
preceding, no doubt can be entertained of their being founded in truth.
But if they were not, they could not be wholly omitted, unless we were
resolved to shut our eyes to the national manners. Of such manners—the
best part of history—they are the best, we may add, the only, mirrors.
Nor is the state of human opinion, as modified by education, climate,
and habits, a less interesting object of contemplation. For this reason,
and because of the dearth of genuine events during this ante-historic
period, we have drawn, and for some pages must continue to draw, more
largely on the traditionary lore of Scandinavia than we should do were
those events more abundant and better established. Now for another
legend, wilder than any of the preceding. _Gorm I._, king of Denmark, a
prince not mentioned in the list of Suhm, yet who undoubtedly reigned in
Jutland, was exceedingly fond of exploring the secrets of nature, of
visiting everything wonderful, of enlarging his knowledge. From the
inhabitants of Thule he had heard of the wondrous seat of Geruth, one of
the gigantic magicians who, in ancient times, had been opposed to the
gods of Asheim; but the place was considered as all but inaccessible to
mortals, as surrounded with dangers which would make the boldest quail.
But dangers were just the things which most excited the enterprise of
Gorm, and he resolved to sail in quest of the mysterious place. He was
to follow the course of the mighty ocean, which, like a circle,
surrounded the earth[82]; to leave the sun and the stars behind; to
penetrate into ancient chaos,—into regions deprived of light, and beset
with terrors of every kind. Three hundred men, in three vessels, agreed
to accompany their king; and all were to be under the guidance of
Thorkil, who had already performed the voyage. Thorkil lost no time in
giving additional strength to the vessels, in covering them with thick
hides of leather, so as to prevent the ingress of the waters, and in
filling them with suitable provisions. The expedition, and after many,
many days, arrived off the coast of Halogia[83], or the country of the
Lapps; on they then sailed, until their provisions began to fail, the
storm to rage, the sea to dash its deafening billows against the rocks.
A nimble youth was commanded to ascend the mast, and see whether land
was nigh; he shouted out that an island, of abrupt, precipitous access,
lay within sight. The delighted crew steered for the place, moored their
vessels, and ascended the cliffs. Thorkil warned them not to seize, from
the numerous herds of cattle now visible, more than was sufficient to
satisfy their present hunger; if they did, the avenging deities of the
place would prevent their return home. But when the famishing men
perceived how easily the unsuspecting beasts were taken, they forgot the
warning, and killed enough to load their ships. The night following, as
they lay in their beds on board they were terrified with strange noises,
and still more with the appearance of monstrous forms running along the
shore. One of these, more gigantic than the rest, walked on the sea,
with a huge club in his hand, and cried aloud that they could not sail
until they had expiated the injury done to the sacred herd, by
delivering one man from each vessel. Thorkil, perceiving that there was
no escape, and preferring the safety of the many to that of the few,
commanded the lots to be drawn, and the victims to be delivered. The
wind now became favourable, and the vessels proceeded to the farther
Biarmia. This was a region of eternal cold, covered with deep snows, and
with pathless forests, destitute of fertility, and abounding with
strange beasts; here were many rivers, pouring along their waters with
ceaseless noise, owing to the rocky impediments in their course. To this
coast Thorkil directed the prows of the vessels, assuring his companions
that they were now come to the place which immediately led to the abode
of Geruth. He warned them not to speak with the inhabitants, but to
leave that office to him, who was acquainted with the customs of the
place. Towards twilight, a mighty giant approached, and saluted the
sailors by name; this was Guthmund, the brother of Geruth, the protector
of strangers. They gazed, admired, and were silent. When asked by the
giant the reason of their silence, Thorkil replied that they were
unacquainted with his speech. Guthmund received them into his chariots,
and proceeded with them towards his palace. A golden bridge lay within
sight, and some were inclined to pass over it. “If you do,” said
Thorkil, “you will repent: this river, so full of monstrous beings,
separates the human from other natures, and beyond it is no footing for
man.” They soon came to the house of their host, and here it was doubly
necessary for Thorkil to repeat his warnings: he assured them, they were
literally surrounded by destruction. They must not eat of the food
placed before them, but eat what they had brought with them, and seat
themselves at a distance from the natives. They must equally shun the
embraces of the women; for Guthmund had twelve lovely daughters, all
ministers of the table, and all frail enough. If they yielded to any of
these temptations, they would instantly lose the remembrance of the
past, and would pass the remainder of their days with herds of monstrous
beasts. The terrified strangers observed his directions; but Guthmund
was offended with them for despising his hospitality: he was
particularly so with king Gorm. But Thorkil had a ready excuse. Strange
food, the latter observed, did not agree with many persons, and was
frequently the cause of disease; it was so with the king, who was
obliged to live on certain kinds of food, which he could only be sure of
finding in his own kitchen: hence the host should not be offended with
that which implied no want of respect to himself, but a prudent
attention to one’s own health. This temptation having failed, the giant
offered his daughters to the king; and to the rest, other maidens of his
household. This was indeed a temptation. Thorkil, in a low voice,
repeated his warning; but four of the number yielded, and were
immediately deprived of memory, and, in a great degree, of reason. Now
for a third temptation. Guthmund had a delightful garden, the fruits of
which were unequalled: Thorkil prevailed on his men to refuse the offer,
and accompanied the refusal with much feigned politeness. Seeing that he
could have no more than the four victims, the giant transported them
over the river.[84]

Beyond this stream the adventurers perceived, at no great distance, a
dark, unfrequented city, resembling a cloud of smoke. On high poles,
grinned mortal heads, dissevered from their bodies; and below the
entrance, which could only be reached by ladders, yelled hideous dogs,
ready to devour the travellers. The entrails of a beast, cast before
them by Thorkil, satisfied their howls, and the whole party ascended to
the gate. Within, the whole town was possessed by dark larvæ, whose
horrid noise, as they hovered about, were ended by the frightfulness of
their shapes: all within was putrid, intolerable to the eye, and still
more so to the breath. Onward the adventurers went, and entered a stony
cavern which, according to tradition, had been the palace of Geruth. The
horrible gloom within made them pause on the threshold, but Thorkil
encouraged them to proceed; at the same time, he warned them to beware
of taking or touching anything, however inviting to the eye; to restrain
their minds from avarice as from fear; to desire nothing, to dread
nothing; for if they laid a covetous hand on any desirable object, that
hand would instantly become immoveable, and the whole body as if it were
inextricably fettered. Their guide then directed them to enter in fours:
Broder and Buchi led the way; Thorkil and the king followed; the rest,
in the same order, formed the main body. The interior of the palace was
old and unfrequented; a dark cloud filled it; and it abounded with
everything offensive to the senses. The pillars were encrusted with
ancient mould; the walls teemed with loathsome slime; the roof was
formed of spears; the floor was covered with serpents, and filth of
every kind; so that the strangers were not a little terrified. Above
all, their noses were offended with the fœtid smell. Farther on were
iron seats, filled with lifeless images of monstrous forms; and these
were in the recesses of the hall, separated from it by leaden grates;
and at the entrances were horrid porters, some howling, and shaking
their maces; some, with their goat-like bodies, exhibiting an unseemly
sport. Before the adventurers proceeded farther into the interior,
Thorkil was careful to repeat his warning,—not to stretch forth their
hands to the treasures they would see. Passing by a huge fragment of a
rock, they perceived an aged man reclining, with wounded body, on the
sharp rocky peaks above them. Beside him were three females, their
bodies covered with tumors, and, as if unable to sit, reclined on the
same couch. Who and what were these? Thorkil, who was well versed in
such matters, informed his companions that the god Thor, offended by the
insolence of Geruth, had driven his bolt through the heart of the giant;
that the awful instrument had penetrated into and riven the mountain;
that the females had been touched by it; and though their bodies were
unbroken, they were suffering the punishment due to those who insulted
the god. Proceeding forward, they perceived seven large vessels,
surrounded with golden hoops, and filled with precious liquor. Near them
was a tooth of an unknown sea monster, the extremities adorned with
gold. Close by it was a large horn inlaid with shining gems, and of
exquisite workmanship. Near this was a golden bracelet of great weight.
The temptation to seize these valuable treasures was too great to be
resisted. One man, ignorant that the shining metal concealed destruction
beneath it, stretched out his hand to the bracelet. Another, influenced,
also, by avarice, laid his eager hands on the horn. A third, emboldened
by their example, placed the huge tooth on his shoulders. They soon
found how fatally they had been deluded. One of these treasures was
immediately transformed into a serpent, which, with venomous tooth, fell
upon the robber. The horn became a dragon, which, also, destroyed the
spoiler. The tooth became a sword, which found its way to the heart of
the bearer. Terrified at this spectacle, even the innocent began to fear
that they should suffer with the guilty. Proceeding onwards, a door
opened to a smaller recess, but rich in treasures. Here were weapons,
too large indeed for the human body, but of inestimable value. Among
them was a royal mantle or cloak, with a cap, and a belt of admirable
workmanship. At the sight, Thorkil, who had so often advised others,
forgot himself. He took the garment in his hand, and the rest,
influenced by his example, seized the things which they most coveted.
Suddenly the cavern, from its lowest foundations, shook; every thing
began to reel; and the women cried aloud that these wicked robbers must
no longer be spared. Lifeless as they had appeared, and more like
statues than women, they suddenly found a voice, and, rising from their
couch, advanced against the strangers. The rest of the monstrous shapes
began to howl in a most hideous manner. Broder and Buchi were not
unmindful of their former pursuits: with their lances, they resisted the
advancing genii; from their bows and their slings they sent the sharp
missiles into the dense ranks of the monsters, and dispersed or
overthrew them. Yet twenty only of the royal party survived; the rest
were torn to pieces by the monsters. In great consternation the
survivors issued from the cavern, returned to the river, were ferried
over by Guthmund, and entertained in the same manner as before. On this
occasion all abstained from the viands and the ladies save Buchi, he who
had hitherto been an example of moderation, and to whose valour in the
caverned palace so many were indebted for their lives. Having taken one
of the ladies to his bed, he was seized with a sudden dizziness, and
lost the memory of the past. He did not, however, forget his human
feeling; for, anxious to show attention to the guests—now strangers to
him—he followed them in one of the chariots of Guthmund, and was for
ever engulfed in the waters of the river. The king, pitying the
infatuation of his subjects, embarked and returned towards Halogia. But
the voyage was again a troubled one: the men were exhausted by the fury
of the tempests and by hunger; and Gorm resolved on sacrificing to the
gods. While some of his crew called on this, some on that divinity, he
invoked the awful Ugarthiloc, by whose favour he obtained a prosperous
navigation homewards.[85]

On the return of Thorkil, great as had been his services to his
companions in the enterprise, he could not escape the malice of evil
tongues. They said that he had offended Ugarthiloc, whose vengeance must
be averted by supplication, and that Thorkil should, for this purpose,
be sent to the distant, mysterious shrine of that deity. He insisted
that his accusers should be the companions of his voyage; and his
request was granted by the king. The vessels were prepared as before,
and the expedition sailed. At length they reached a region where there
was no sun, no moon, no stars, where eternal night spread her sceptre
over this unknown deep. Fuel was the first thing of which they felt the
want, and they were compelled to subsist on raw meat. Some of them
caught the plague from food so indigestible; the disease began in the
stomach, and soon descended to the vitals. To abstain was just as fatal
as to eat; and languor crept on those whom sickness spared. At this
moment, when despair had seized on all, a light was seen at a distance.
This inspired all with hope, with new strength. They soon anchored; and
before going on shore, Thorkil placed a shining carbuncle on the summit
of the mast to direct them on their return to the vessels. A cavern,
with a low narrow entrance, was before them. Leaving his companions
outside, Thorkil went in, and perceived two gigantic eagles (or giants
under the form of eagles[86]), with hard hooked beaks, placing wood on
the fire. The rugged entrance, the stinking threshold, the black wall,
the filthy roof, the floor covered with serpents, were not more
offensive to the eye than to the mind. One of the giants, saluting him,
told him that he had ventured on a bold and most difficult
undertaking,—that of visiting the abode of a divinity little worshipped,
and of exploring regions beyond the sphere of the world. “But,” added
the giant, “I am acquainted with the course which you will have to
follow, and if you will give me three good proverbs in as many
sentences, I will indicate it to you.” Thorkil did so to the
satisfaction of the giant. “You have yet a four days’ sail before you,”
said the latter, “with hard rowing, before you can reach the place you
seek; there you may find Ugarthiloc in his foul and gloomy cave.”
Thorkil was staggered at the labour before him; but he had gone too far
to recede, and he advanced to the fire to take some of the flaming
brands. He was compelled, before he could obtain them, to deliver three
more proverbs.[87] With his companions he then returned to the ships;
and a favourable breeze arising, they reached the destined port on the
fourth day. Here they landed, and by means of a lurid twilight, were
enabled to have some glimpse of the objects around them. Before them was
a huge rock. With their flints they struck a light, and made a fire at
the entrance of the cave,—a safeguard against the power of demons. Then,
with lighted torches borne before them, Thorkil and some of his
companions entered the narrow opening, and perceived a great number of
iron seats surrounded by serpents. Onward was a stream which gently
flowed over a sandy bottom: this being crossed, the path declined a
little, when a dark and obscure cave was before them. There sat
Ugarthiloc, his hands and feet laden with a vast weight of fetters: and
the hairs of his head and beard were long and hard as so many lances.
That there might be some evidence of the wonders he had seen, Thorkil,
with the assistance of his companions, plucked one hair from the chin of
the divinity; when such a stench issued from the part, that had they not
speedily applied their mantles to their noses, they would have been
unable to breathe. As they issued from this awful cave, the snakes,
flying about them, spued venom upon them. With great difficulty five
only reached the ship, the rest falling victims to the venom; and of
these five, who were pursued by the serpents, one lost his head, another
his eye-sight, a third his hand, through a fatal curiosity to inspect
these vengeful creatures. All would have perished had not the hatches
been closed by the thick ox-skins, which bade defiance to the power of
the venom. Seeing how vain the attempt to propitiate these divinities,
Thorkil addressed his prayers to the God of all, by whose favour a
prosperous navigation brought him to his own country.[88]

Legends like the foregoing, which illustrate the opinions of mankind,
are not to be rejected as childish. Wild as they are, they had once
their believers,—and believers, for anything we know, they may have at
this day, among the remote Lapps and Finns. Whether the inventors, who
were probably priests of Thor or Odin, took this method of unfolding to
their disciples some physical theory, we shall not inquire. The darkness
which, as all men knew, overhung the polar sea during half the year,
favoured the diffusion of such stories. But what will most have struck
the reader, in the first of these legends, is, the similarity of some of
its passages with those of the Odyssey and other classical productions.
Many of the adventures in the second legend are to be found in the Edda,
but ascribed to another individual. As Saxo could not borrow from the
compilation of either Saemund or Snorro, all three must have drawn from
some common source, and that source was tradition. But we have dwelt
long enough on these fabulous times, and we must hasten to the

If any faith can be placed in Saxo’s relation, which we see no reason to
doubt, Gorm must have been contemporary with the first of the
Carlovingian kings; for the historian expressly assures us that in this
reign Denmark was christianised. And in that of _Godric_ his son, who is
also called _Godfrey_, we are told that Charlemagne was subduing the
Saxons. On referring, indeed, to the list which we have given at the
beginning of this chapter, and which the best Danish critics regard as
approximating nearer to the truth than any other yet constructed[90],
the reader will perceive that there is no mention of Gorm or Godric. But
here we must repeat what we have already frequently observed, that both
might have reigned in Jutland, while Sigurd Ring and Ragnar Lodbrok and
Sigurd Snogoje reigned in Zealand. And even if this were not so, we are
by no means sure that the Icelandic authorities, which alone have weight
with the modern historians of Denmark, ought to be followed to the utter
exclusion of Saxo, who lived as near to the period as any of the former,
and whose means of information must have been of easier access. Strange
that in the eighth century—nay, even in the ninth—we should find so much
darkness, so much contradiction in the history of a country which was
now beginning to occupy the attention of the Frank historians! Yet such
is the fact. “C’est un vrai labyrinthe,” says Mallet, “où l’on se perd
dans les contradictions et les ténèbres.” The conjecture, however, which
we have made, viz., that Godric or Godfrey might reign in one part of
Denmark, while Sigurd Ring and Ragnar reigned in another, acquires some
confirmation from the fact that the former, as rex Danorum in 803, is
expressly mentioned by Ado of Vienne. And in the Saga of Olaf Trygveson,
king of Norway, we read that this very Godfrey reigned in Jutland during
the time of Charlemagne. Was he, the Jutish king, or Sigurd and Ragnar,
who appear to have reigned in Zealand, the true sovereign of the Danes?
Was one subject to the other, or were both independent? This question no
man can answer. The passage, however, of Ado, confirmed as it is by that
in Olaf Trygveson’s Saga, explains the confusion which we find at every
step in the Danish history prior to the latter part of the tenth
century. We may add that, according to the same authority, Godfrey being
slain by his own subjects on his return from a successful expedition to
Frisia, Hemming, his brother or nephew, succeeded. Now these facts are
confirmed by Saxo; and where both Icelandic and Danish authorities
concur, and are confirmed by the Frank historians (and Hemming’s
accession, no less than Godfrey’s death, is mentioned by several), we
see no ground for scepticism. These princes, then, must be admitted; and
for the reasons already given they may be admitted, without excluding
Sigurd Ring, or Ragnar Lodbrog, or Sigurd Snogoje.[91]

The age of _Ragnar_ ought to be an historic age; but his reign is so
pervaded by fable, that we can make nothing of it. Many have been the
attempts to reconcile his chronology, at least as found in northern
writers, with that of the Frankish and Anglo-Saxon historians; but
neither it, nor the actions recorded of him by both, can possibly be
reconciled. Critics, therefore, have been driven to the inference that
there were two Ragnars,—one of the eighth, the other of the ninth
century; and, probably, this conjecture is the true one. In the latter
century, indeed, we read of a Jutland chief named Ragenfred, or Regnier,
who, being exiled by the reigning king of Denmark, became a pirate, and
committed dreadful depredations on the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
Very probably the actions of both—and both, no doubt, were extraordinary
men—have been confounded together, and enabled Saxo to incorporate, into
one relation, the romantic incidents which tradition had preserved of
both. As we have indulged so largely in the romantic, we will not, on
this occasion, translate that venerable authority. And it is scarcely
necessary to allude to this hero’s death, which, as everybody knows,
happened in Northumberland. Defeated by Ella, the Saxon king of the
province, and thrown into a dungeon full of serpents, he expired,
insensible of his torments. It is said, indeed, that he composed a lay
enumerating his former exploits, and his conviction that his sons would
revenge his death; but the story, and the ode itself, are so improbable,
that they must be consigned to the domain of poetic invention, and no
longer be allowed to grow in that of history. Whether there be much
truth in the subsequent part of this story, viz., that the sons of
Ragnar did hasten to revenge him, that they disembarked on the
Northumbrian coast, defeated the Anglo-Saxons near York, and transformed
the province from a Saxon into a Danish state, we are unable to decide
with anything approaching to confidence. The probability, however, is,
that, notwithstanding the silence of the Saxon Chronicle on this
subject, there is some foundation for the account. So constantly do the
ancient writers—writers, too, at no great distance from the period—speak
of Danish viceroys, often with the regal title, being sent to
Northumbria, that we are unwilling to consider the narrative as the pure
invention of the Scalds.[92]

[Sidenote: 794 to 935.]

On the death of Ragnar, the sceptre of at least a portion of
Denmark—perhaps Scania and the isles—passed into the hands of _Sigurd
II._ (or _Siward_[93]), surnamed _Snogoje_, or Snake-eyed. At the same
time, Jutland was possessed by other kings, whether as tributaries, or
independent, there would be rashness in deciding. We read, indeed, that
_Hemming_ was contemporary with him; that _Harald_ succeeded Hemming in
some part of Jutland; that this latter prince was exiled through an
insurrection of the sons of Godric, or Godfrey, who fought for the
inheritance of their father; that this Harald became a Christian, and
sought the protection of Louis le Debonnaire; that the Carlovingian
monarch assisted him to return triumphant; but that, about the year 828,
being again deprived of his throne, he passed his days in religious
contemplation. His name will always be memorable for his solemn baptism
at Ingleheim, in presence of the emperor’s court; and for his efforts to
introduce Christianity into Jutland. Under his auspices St. Anscar, the
apostle of Scandinavia, penetrated into Jutland; and though the labours
of this pious missionary, owing to the troubles of the country, were
attended with little success, the merit of this first Christian prince
of Denmark is not the less. It was, indeed, his attachment to the new
religion which, more than any other cause, led to his failure. Sigurd,
the other Danish king, had no wish to imitate the example of Harald; but
he is celebrated as a peaceful, good, and enlightened ruler. For this
reason, his reign affords no materials for history. On his death, in
803, he was succeeded, say the Icelandic chroniclers, by _Harda Canute_,
his son; but, according to Saxo, by his son _Eric I._ How shall we
decide? We can only conjecture that both princes reigned, at the same
time, over different parts of the monarchy; but that Eric died early,
while Harda Canute survived to the middle of the ninth century. By the
same hypothesis only can we reconcile the names of the kings who
succeeded Eric and Harda Canute. By referring to the list at the head of
this chapter[94], the reader will perceive that it allows of only two
sovereigns between Eric I. and Harold Blaatand,—king _Eric II._ and
_Gorm the Old_; while Saxo admits five, viz., _Canute the Little_,
_Frode VI._, _Gorm Anglicus_ (so called from his birthplace), _Harold
V._, and _Gorm the Old_; thus rejecting Eric II., and adding four
others. To us, the mode of reconciliation appears simple. While Eric II.
and Gorm ruled over the islands and Scania, the other princes mentioned
by Saxo reigned in another part of Jutland. This hypothesis is confirmed
by one important fact,—that the life of Gorm was unusually protracted;
and that, by conquest or negotiation, by open force or cunning, he
obtained the government of all the states now comprising the Danish
monarchy. Seeing the conduct of the Jutland princes, their civil wars,
their consequent weakness and unpopularity, he fell on them, and put an
end to their stormy independence. Over the reign of Gorm, indeed, there
hangs much obscurity, which the researches of northern critics have by
no means dissipated. That he performed many great actions; that, in a
few years, he conquered Jutland; that he humbled the Saxons, and made
some temporary accessions to his states on the side of Mecklenburg and
Pomerania; appear to be undoubted facts. The Frankish writers, however,
affirm that he was defeated by Henry the Fowler, his newly incorporated
monarchy conquered as far as Sleswic, a margrave established in that
place, and he himself compelled to admit the missionaries of
Christianity into his states. Against this statement, which principally
depends on the authority of Adam of Bremen, the native historians of
Denmark make a stand; they will not allow that their country, or any
portion of it, was ever thus subdued. But what counter authority can
they oppose to this? Where are their native writers, if not
contemporary, at least as near to the period as Adam, to contradict this
relation? They have no such writers; they have nothing in the shape of
authority before the close of the twelfth century: for the materials of
their history, they must recur to the very writers whom they would thus
undervalue. The statement of Adam, a canon of Bremen, who during so long
a period collected materials for his ecclesiastical history, is too
minute, too reasonable, too well confirmed by allusions, however
incidental, in other writers (especially in the biographers of a few
saints), to leave room for scepticism on the subject. Nor does this
detract, in the least degree, from the merit of Gorm. By incorporating
into one compact monarchy insignificant states, which had so often
refused even a nominal obedience to the kings of Ledra, or Jutland, and
by destroying so many piratical chiefs, whose arms were turned now
against one another, now against their royal superiors, he effected more
good than any preceding king of Denmark. This is his true glory. In
another respect, he is less deserving of our praise;—he was hostile to
the diffusion of Christianity. Yet he had married a Christian lady,
whose beauty and virtues were the theme of admiration, and who certainly
had considerable influence over him. While persecuting the missionaries
in the rest of his states, he appears to have allowed her the exercise
of her religion,—her chapel and priests. Some writers assert that,
though he did not like, he never seriously opposed, the preaching of
Christianity in any part of his states; and, in confirmation of this
statement, they assert that he allowed his sons, Canute and Harald, to
be baptized, and Jutland, at least, to make daily progress in the new
faith. Yet Saxo assures us that he demolished the churches which had
been erected in the preceding reign; that he restored the pagan temples;
that he put to death, or exiled, the teachers of Christianity. This
testimony is too positive to be evaded. But, though always a bigoted
pagan, he might have been more intolerant at one period of life than
another: probably he was a fierce persecutor until his marriage, and the
virtues of his queen had mitigated his hatred of Christianity, and, by
degrees, induced him to tolerate it. Though he might have allowed his
sons to be baptized, he took care that their habits should be pagan.
They were the most noted pirates of the age, and he rejoiced in their
success. One of them, however, was killed near Dublin, and the blow is
said to have proved fatal to him. He died, says Adam of Bremen, in 935;
probably, however, he resigned his power in that year, and survived six
years longer.[95]

[Sidenote: 935 to 964.]

HARALD II. surnamed _Blaatand_, or Blue-tooth, seems, during the last
six years of his father’s life, to have been either associated in the
government with that king, or to have ruled as his deputy. In 941,
however, on the death of Gorm, he was the undisputed heir of the
monarchy. The early part of his reign was most brilliant; the latter
disastrous. Soon after his accession, his aid was implored by his
countrymen in Normandy. Most readers are aware that, in the latter half
of the preceding century, Rollo, assisted by perpetual reinforcements
from the north, had wrested that province from the kings of France, and,
in 912, on his baptism, had been declared the lawful duke of his new
conquest. In 927, the veteran warrior, exhausted by age and fatigue, had
resigned the dignity to his son William Longsword. In 943, this duke was
assassinated, and his son Richard, a child, was left exposed to the
hostilities of Louis d’Outremer, who naturally wished to recover that
fine province, and confide the government to a French, not to a Norman,
vassal. Louis led an army into Normandy, defeated the troops which the
regency opposed to him, and obtained possession of the young duke’s
person. In this emergency the Normans applied for aid to Harald, whose
warlike actions were well known to them. In 944, that is, in a year
after duke William’s assassination, the Danish king appeared off
Cherburg, with a considerable armament. Alarmed at the danger, Louis had
recourse to negotiation; and at the personal interview which followed,
the dispute would, in all probability, have been amicably arranged, had
not some chiefs of both armies begun to quarrel. This quarrel led to a
general engagement, in which Louis was vanquished, and made prisoner. To
obtain his liberty, he was compelled to release the young duke, whose
right to the fief he also recognised. This was a proud day for Harald,
who returned to Denmark with a reputation unrivalled in the north. His
next exploit was similar—to place on the throne of Norway (now a
monarchy) the sons of Eric, whom Hako, the reigning king, had driven
into exile. His arms were successful; and he restored to Harald Grafeld
the sceptre of the father. Twelve years afterwards, this prince being
assassinated (an event of very usual occurrence in the history of the
north), the Danish king went a second time into Norway, subdued the
country, and divided it into three kingdoms. One portion he confided,
under the ordinary feudal obligations, to Harald Grenshi, a prince of
the family; a second, subject to the same homage and service, was
bestowed on jarl Hako; the third, which was the lion’s share, was
reserved to the Danish crown; and from all a large annual tribute was
exacted. This policy was injurious enough to Norway, however useful it
might be to Denmark. And it was scarcely less hurtful to England, since
it augmented the power of the Danish kings, so as to render them
formidable enemies to this island. In his next expedition, which was
against no less a personage than the emperor Otho I., he was less happy.
Embracing the cause of a rebel whom Otho had placed under the ban of the
empire, and learning that the monarch was absent in Italy, he made a
fierce irruption into Saxony, and, we are told, put to death the
ambassadors of Otho. He had little difficulty in driving the imperial
garrison from Sleswic, and in destroying that important fortress. On the
return of Otho, however, who lost no time in avenging the indignity
offered to the empire, Holstein was speedily overrun, and he driven into
the north of Jutland. He was compelled to treat with the victor; and his
states were left him on the condition of his baptism, and that of his
son Sweyn, and of helping, instead of impeding, the progress of
Christianity in his dominions. That on this occasion he did homage for
them to the emperor, is asserted by the German, and denied by most
native, historians. The subject may occupy our attention for a few

[Sidenote: 964.]

That Harald did homage to Otho for the whole of Denmark,—that country
being subdued and rendered tributary by the latter,—is expressly
asserted by Sweyn Aggesen, a Danish writer of the twelfth century.[97]
It is equally affirmed by Adam of Bremen, who wrote within half a
century of Harald’s death, and who is better acquainted with the
transactions of Holstein and Jutland than all the writers of his
age.[98] And it is inferred, from a privilege granted by Otho to the
church of Hamburg, exempting the lands of three bishoprics just created
in Denmark—Aarhuus, Sleswic, Rypen—from all contributions to the state,
from all dependence on the secular government; and extending the same
privilege to all the lands which those churches might hereafter possess
throughout Denmark. To weaken the effect of these testimonies has been
the object of native writers. But what are their reasons? Too feeble to
have any weight out of Denmark. They insist that Sweyn was misled by the
authority of Adam of Bremen; that Adam, himself, was an ignorant
ecclesiastic, who readily assented to whatever Otho assumed; and that
the privilege in question, of which the authenticity cannot be denied,
is of no weight,—a pure formula of the imperial chancellor, dictated,
indeed, by an ambitious, all-grasping court, but founded on no real
conquest, much less vassalage. To answer such objections would be an
insult to the reader’s understanding. There can be no doubt of the
emperor’s feudal supremacy over Denmark, any more than over Bohemia, or
Poland, or Lombardy. It has, indeed, been contended that if Otho had a
spiritual, he had no temporal jurisdiction; that he might be the
protector, the superintendent, the head of the rising church, without
having the least authority over the state. But this allegation is at
variance with all reason and with all history. Would a sovereign have
the insane effrontery to say what lands shall, and what shall not, pay
taxes, unless he had some authority over them? Would he exempt them from
contributing towards the support of the crown, unless that crown were in
some degree dependent on him? And where is there any example of such
unlicensed interference? But we all know that vassalitic obligations
were of various kinds, some oppressive enough, others little more than
nominal; and we may admit that though Harald was compelled to do homage,
and even to pay a yearly tribute, he remained independent so far as his
internal administration was concerned. It was the policy of Otho to
christianise the kingdom—to transform restless barbarians into civilised
creatures—to humanise the fiercest of pagans by the influence of a mild
and powerful religion. Without such a change, he saw no security for his
northern frontier. But in striving to attain this object, great
moderation was necessary: he did not wish to exasperate, where his
interest was so obviously to induce the most friendly relations; still
less would he, by severe exactions,—exactions, however, which his
position as conqueror might have enabled him to enforce,—indispose the
minds of a high-spirited prince and a warlike people, against the faith
which he wished them to embrace.[99]

[Sidenote: 964.]

But miracles were no longer wrought in the time of the Othos. If Harald
and some of his people outwardly conformed to the religion of Christ,
they were still influenced by that of Odin. Besides, to both the
national independence was dear; and we cannot be surprised at the
hostile feeling with which the Danes regarded the Germans. During the
life of the first Otho, indeed, there was outward harmony; but in about
a year after the accession of the second (974), he joined the party of
Henry duke of Bavaria, then a rebel, and made several irruptions into
Saxony. On the defeat of that powerful vassal, Otho penetrated into
Jutland, and advanced as far as the Sound which bears his name. With the
result of this war we are not acquainted; but probably Harald submitted.
The events, however, of both wars, which have been frequently confounded
into one, are very doubtful. A more certain fact is, that the good
fortune of Harald now forsook him. He failed in an expedition against
Norway, which had thrown off its vassalage. Nor was this the worst: his
son Sweyn, who had been baptized with him, rebelled against him. The
motives which led the prince in this undutiful conduct are unknown.
Probably the chief was the desire of power; and as his nature was
ferocious, he scrupled not to bear arms against his father. There is
also some reason to believe that he was the instrument of a great
party,—the old pagans, who could not behold with much pleasure the
gradual progress of the new faith, and the consequent decline of their
own. _His_ conversion was not, like his father’s, very sincere; or,
perhaps, he cared not for either religion, so that his ambition was
gratified. As the pagans were still the more numerous subjects of the
state, he became at once their patron and their tool. The war was short,
and Harald was compelled to flee. He sought a refuge in Normandy, and by
duke Richard, we are told, was restored to at least a portion of his
dominions. How far this relation is true, we cannot, in the absence of
contemporary authority, decide. A more certain fact is, that, in 991, he
was assassinated by the procurement of his own son. He was walking on
the skirts of a wood, when an arrow from the bow of a Jomsberg pirate
belonging to a band in the pay of Sweyn, laid him in the dust.[100]

Such was the fate of a monarch whose memory was dear to the early
Christians of Denmark. He was the first monarch that openly professed
the new religion; and the constancy with which he adhered to it affords
indisputable proof of his sincerity. From Ledra, the ancient seat of the
Odinic superstition, he removed his court to Roskild, where he erected a
cathedral to the most holy Trinity. This was a politic step; connected
with the new capital were no ancient recollections to remind the
idolater of the faith of his fathers. The foundation of three other
bishoprics attested his zeal. The reverence in which this monarch was
held in the centuries immediately following his death, and a passage, of
which the application was mistaken, in the History of Adam of Bremen,
nearly led to his canonisation.[101]

[Sidenote: 991.]

On the tragical death of Harald, the sceptre devolved to the unnatural
_Sweyn_. As the majority of the people were still pagans, the accession
of this prince was beheld with satisfaction; for though, perhaps, he did
not openly apostatise, he encouraged the old religion, and rebuilt many
of the temples which had been destroyed. And he was the ally of the
Jomsburg pirates, the leader of whom shot the arrow which had proved
fatal to Harald. Yet Harald was the founder of that city,—one of the
most famous in the annals of the world. It was situated near the great
lake of Pomerania, on the site of the modern Wollin. It was avowedly
built for a piratical fortress; yet the founders could not anticipate
the greatness which it afterwards retained. Its first governor, who was
also its legislator, was a pirate chief, Palnatoko, whose skill as an
archer was never equalled in the north. He decreed that no man who had
ever shown the slightest fear, even in the greatest dangers, should be a
member of the new community. No Christian was admitted, because
Christianity was supposed to enfeeble the mind; but people of all other
religions and of all countries were received; and each of the great
European nations had a street of its own. It was the last place of the
north which was humanised by the religion of Christ; and probably it
would longer have defied the general influence of that faith, had not
its riches enervated the vigour of its inhabitants, and intestine
dissensions still further weakened it, so as to render it a prey to its
enemies. Palnatoko, the assassin of Harald, had been long resident at
the Danish court, and had been the tutor of Sweyn; and to that barbarous
deed he was, we are told, excited by a personal injury. His skill in
archery was the quality on which he most prided himself, and he was
accustomed to boast that he could hit an apple, however small, on the
top of a pole. This boast, which was regarded as an arrogant display,
made him some enemies. It reached Harald, who insisted that the archer’s
own child should supply the place of the pole; and threatened, that if
the first arrow missed its aim, his own head should bear the penalty. As
there was no hope of changing the royal determination, Palnatoko warned
his child to be steady—not to flinch hand or foot—not to move a muscle
of his body, when the arrow approached. On the day appointed, the
dreaded experiment was tried; and the apple was cloven, while the child
remained uninjured. But the archer had three arrows, and being asked
what he had intended to do with the remaining two, he replied, that had
he been the death of innocence, the guilty contriver of the experiment
should not have escaped.—Such is the story which Saxo has preserved.
That it has given rise to the fabulous one of William Tell, must be
apparent to the reader; for the Danish historian wrote a full century
before the Swiss patriot flourished. Nor do we think that Saxo’s account
is the original one: the circumstance probably took place centuries
before the reign of Harald Blaatand, and became a portion of the
“legendary lore” the origin of which is so mysterious. Whether this
incident be true or false in regard to Harald and this archer, the
latter joined Sweyn, and, as we have already related, caused the death
of the former.[102]

[Sidenote: 991.]

In the early part of this monarch’s reign we meet with much obscurity,
much contradiction. We are told that in return for his rebellion against
his father, and for his restoration of paganism, he was doomed to great
bitterness of suffering; that he was thrice a prisoner among the
pirates, and thrice redeemed by his people. For the last act of
redemption he is said to have been indebted to Danish ladies, who,
seeing that the money of the state was wholly exhausted by the preceding
ransoms, contributed their choicest ornaments for that purpose. For this
generosity, adds Saxo, the grateful Sweyn passed a law, that, in future,
females should, like males, succeed, by inheritance, to a portion of
their father’s property. Such a law certainly existed, and it may
possibly be referred to Sweyn; but in regard to the circumstances which
gave rise to it, there is room for scepticism. That a powerful
monarch—for such Sweyn always was—should be _thrice_ captured by
pirates,—the pirates, too, of Jomsberg,—is surely unparalleled in the
history of the world. Yet the relation alike of Saxo and Sweyn Aggesen
must have had some foundation in truth. The probability is, that the
king, _prior to his accession_, was _once_ a captive, and that the
monastic writers of the following age mistook the time and multiplied
the circumstances.[103] Those venerable fathers, struck with horror at
the filial no less than the religious impiety of this king, were ready
to adopt, without examination, the most unfavourable reports concerning
him. Another statement, that Sweyn was expelled from his kingdom by Eric
of Sweden, and that he remained almost fifteen years in exile, fourteen
of which he spent in Scotland, is entitled to just the same credit. His
father, we are told, died in 991; yet in 994 he was powerful enough to
begin the conquest of England; and from that year to the period of his
death, in 1014, he was always in this country, or in Denmark. Where,
then, are these sixteen years to be inserted? Assuredly no chasm can be
found for them between 991 and 1014. Other circumstances demonstrate the
falsehood of the relation,—a relation, however, adopted by the most
recent historians. On his expulsion, we are told, he applied for the
common rights of hospitality to Olaf Trygveson of Norway, but was
spurned by that prince. This conduct of Olaf, says Saxo, was the less
justifiable, as Sweyn had assisted him to regain the throne of Norway.
Let us for a moment attend to dates. Sweyn’s restoration to his country,
after his fifteen years of exile, is placed in the year 994; and as Olaf
was the first monarch to whom he applied, this application must have
been made about 979. But Olaf did not return to Norway before 996. How
much earlier than this year must he have been assisted by Sweyn? Yet for
this, as for the preceding relation, there was probably some basis. If
Sweyn ever was in exile,—and there is some reason to infer that he was,
during his hostility with his father,—that exile was before the death of
Harald, and consequently before his accession to the monarchy. It may
possibly be that he was at one time prior to that event king of some
portion of the monarchy,—perhaps of Scania; and this conjecture would at
once account for the facility with which Eric expelled him. However this
be, there can be no doubt that if this banishment be a fact, it must be
referred to a period long prior to 991. What confirms this conjecture
is, the statement of Saxo, that the monarch to whom Sweyn next applied
was Edward king of England. This was evidently Edward the Martyr, who
ascended the throne in 975, and was assassinated in 978,—a period which
will exactly agree with the duration assigned to his exile.[104]

[Sidenote: 991 to 993.]

All writers allow that Sweyn, soon after his accession, sent or led an
armament against Hako, the usurper of Norway. Snorro assures us that
this expedition was planned by the Jomsberg pirates, who were invited to
celebrate the funeral solemnities of Harald (that is, to get drunk) at
the court of Sweyn; and he adds that the same vow was taken in regard to
England. The vows of drunken men are not usually remembered; but these
pirates remembered theirs but too well. With sixty vessels, filled by
the bravest heroes of the republic, they hastened to the Norwegian
coast; there they separated, and were separately assailed by jarl Hako,
his son, and other chiefs of the kingdom. But, desperate as was the
valour of the pirates, their numbers were too few, in comparison with
those of the enemy, to fulfil their oath of taking Harald alive, or
expelling him from Norway. They were signally defeated, though not until
prodigies of valour had been effected by them. The contempt in which
they beheld death is horribly illustrated by Snorro. Thirty of them
being captured, their feet were tied by a rope, and they were carried on
shore. They were placed on benches, in a right line, each near to the
other, awaiting their death. Thorkil, a Norwegian jarl, advanced with a
huge sword, and anticipated much pleasure from the exercise of killing
them in detail. Accosting the chief of them, he said, “So, Vagne, thou
madest a vow to put me to death; but it seems more likely that I shall
have the honour of sending thee with my apology.” The pirate looked at
him with much contempt. Beginning at the end of the line, he struck off
the heads of many in succession, who faithfully observed the condition
of their order,—never to exhibit the shadow of a fear. One desired the
jarl to strike him in the forehead, and to look whether he should so
much as blink his eyes. The next victim held in his hand the backbone of
a fish. “I will wager thee,” he said to Thorkil, “that, after my head is
off, I shall be able to plunge this bone into the ground!” But the boast
was vain: when his head left his body, the bone fell from his hand.
“Injure not my hair!”[105] cried another, as he stretched out his neck
to receive the blow. An attendant held the long tresses with both hands,
while the executioner struck; but, at the moment, the pirate threw back
his head, and the sword amputated the two hands of the courtier, without
injuring the pirate. Great was the triumph of the latter; and Eric, the
son of Hako, admiring his intrepidity, procured his pardon. Another,
Vagne, one of the chiefs, was pushed against the executioner by his next
fellow; Thorkil fell, and, in so doing, his sword cut the rope which
bound the pirate, who, seizing the weapon, beheaded the Norwegian jarl.
Eric, too, procured _his_ pardon. Eighteen being in this manner slain,
the visitors began to feel some admiration for the rest. “Wilt thou
accept the offer of thy life?” was demanded of the next. “That,” replied
the man, who would not receive even life from an ignoble hand, “depends
on the dignity of the giver!” Jarl Eric, the son of Hako, was named, and
the offer was accepted. “Wilt thou?” was addressed to another. “Not
unless my companions are spared also!” was the reply; and they were

[Sidenote: 991 to 1001.]

If the expedition against Norway thus failed, very different was the
issue of that directed against England. During the greater part of a
century, this island had been unmolested by the pirates. Alfred, towards
the close of his reign, had humbled them; Edward the elder had signally
triumphed over them; and the name of Athelstane had been dreaded by all
the rovers of the sea. There had been battles, indeed, with the Danish
state of Northumberland, which, prior to Athelstane’s reign, had formed
no part of the Saxon confederation; but the coasts of central and
northern England had been undisturbed. On the accession of Ethelred,
however, the scourge was resumed. In 991, a large force appeared before
Ipswich, and marched to Malden, laying waste the country on every side.
On this occasion Brithnoth, the Saxon governor of Essex, was slain; and
his fate has been related in a poem, from which copious extracts may be
found in a volume connected with the present.[107] These formidable
invaders, as every child knows, were bribed to leave England; and, as
every child knows, they soon returned in greater numbers than before.
Even when steel, instead of gold, was to be the tribute, a cowardly and
treacherous commander, Alfric of Mercia, was intrusted with the defence
of England. In the following years, every province was desolated. In
994, Sweyn himself appeared in the Thames with a formidable fleet. He
had an ally, Olaf, the son of Trygve, who, since infancy, had never been
in Norway, and whose piratical exploits had been celebrated from Russia
to Ireland.[108] His attack on London was repelled; but Essex, Kent,
Sussex, and Hampshire suffered dreadfully from his depredations, and
those of his ally. As before, though the number of pirates did not
exceed 10,000, money was offered by the despicable Ethelred. Olaf, on
receiving it, visited the court of the Saxon king, received the rite of
confirmation (he had previously been baptized in one of the Scilly
islands), and promised never again to molest the English coast. We hear
no more of his depredations: but whether his forbearance was owing to
his promise, or to his departure for Norway, the throne of which he
ascended in little more than a year from this period, may well be
doubted.[109] But Sweyn had no such moderation. In about three years
from the payment of the 16,000_l._, he appeared in the south-west
counties, advanced into Sussex and Hampshire, laying waste everything in
his passage, and wintered as securely as if he had been naturalised: no
opposition was made to his progress. Kent was next ravaged; and the
whole of England would, no doubt, have become Danish, had not Sweyn been
recalled to contend with a more formidable enemy, Olaf of Norway. One
year after the death of that monarch[110], that is, in 1001, the Danes
returned to a country where they had found no enemies, but abundance of
prey. Another heavy ransom, and extensive estates in different parts of
the kingdom, procured a temporary cessation of hostilities.[111]

[Sidenote: 1001 to 1003.]

If Ethelred could not oppose the enemy in the field, and if his coffers
were exhausted, he had still one resource left,—that of a general
massacre. The day before the festival of St. Brice, the authorities of
every city and town received secret letters from the court, commanding
them and the people everywhere to rise at a certain hour, to fall on the
unarmed, unsuspicious Danes, and not to spare one of them. The order was
too well obeyed, and the English nation made itself equally guilty with
its king. Many of the victims were naturalised; many had English
husbands or wives; more were on terms of intimacy with the natives, and,
at the moment this bloody mandate was executed, were sharing the
hospitality of their huts. Nobody was spared: decrepit age and helpless
infancy, youth and beauty, pleaded in vain. Even Gunhilda, sister of
Sweyn, a convert to Christianity and the wife of an English earl,
suffered with the rest; but not until she had seen her husband and son
beheaded in her presence. This was not the mere act of the crown, nor
that of a few courtiers, nor that of the municipal authorities: it was
that of the English nation. Retribution, as Gunhilda had prophesied, was
at hand; and every reader will rejoice that it was so. Sweyn no sooner
heard of the massacre, than he swore never to rest until he had
inflicted a terrible vengeance on the people. He no longer wished for
booty, merely: he would also destroy. With a fleet of three hundred
sail, he steered to the west of the island, landed in Cornwall,
commenced his devastating career, reached Exeter, which he took by
assault, set it on fire, and massacred the inhabitants. From thence he
proceeded into Wiltshire, where fire and sword did their work, and
passed by way of Salisbury to the sea coast, laden with plunder. No
attempt was made to arrest his destructive progress: a Saxon force under
Alfric had, indeed, assembled; but it would not fight, and it retired
covered with the derision of the invaders.[112]

[Sidenote: 1003 to 1009.]

The winter of 1003 Sweyn passed in Denmark; in the following year he was
again in England. His destructive career now commenced in the eastern
counties; but this year they terminated sooner than could have been
foreseen. A famine—the result of preceding depredations—afflicted the
land; and as provisions in sufficient abundance could not be found, the
pirates returned home for a season. The deplorable cowardice of the
troops, the imbecility of the governors, from Ethelred down to the
meanest thane, was never equalled in any other country. This condition
is well described by Turketul in a letter to Sweyn:—“A country
illustrious and powerful; a king asleep, caring only for women and wine,
trembling at the very mention of war, hated by his own people, despised
by foreigners; generals envious of one another; governors who fly at the
first shout of battle.” This weak and vicious king had the felicity to
convert his friends into enemies at the very time he most needed their
assistance. In 1002 he married the princess Emma of Normandy; but his
behaviour to her was so grossly offensive, so brutal, that her father,
duke Richard I., joined in making him still more contemptible by
imprisoning or killing his subjects who happened to pass through
Normandy. The pirates of Sweyn soon returned to consummate their work.
In 1006 a heavy sum was paid them; the following year they demanded an
equal sum, and declared that, in future, it must be annually paid by way
of tribute. Some feeble efforts were made to defend the country; but the
leaders of the fleet which had been raised turned their arms against one
another. Thus fell the hopes of the nation, which prepared its neck for
the most galling yoke that had ever afflicted it.[113]

[Sidenote: 1010.]

In the year 1010 the Danes were in possession of sixteen English
counties, and they exacted forty-eight thousand pounds for sparing the
rest. But such moderation was not in their policy; and no sooner was the
money theirs, than their atrocities recommenced. The condition of
Kent—which was that of half England—is more graphically described by the
biographer of St. Elphege, archbishop of Canterbury, than by all the
chronicles of the period. When that city was first besieged, there was
some prospect of a defence; the walls were strong, and there were many
strong arms eager to defend their cathedral, their bishop, their wives
and children. But a traitor (and England was full of them) set fire to
about twenty different houses: to extinguish the flames many of the
defenders left their posts; one of the gates was broken open, and the
pirates rushed into the city, while the flames spread on every side. The
men were cut down in the streets, or they were thrown into the devouring
fire; women were violated and speared; children were tossed like balls
from the points of the lances. As a last resource, St. Elphege and his
clergy had taken refuge in the cathedral; but he could not hear of these
excesses without endeavouring to stop them. Rushing from the sacred pile
into the midst of the pirates, he exclaimed, “Spare the city! at least,
if you are men, spare the helplessness of infancy! Turn your weapons
against me, only, who have always condemned your crimes!” They gagged
him, bound him, and led him to witness the fate of his church, to which
thousands of the people had now resorted in the vain hope that its
sanctity would impress even pagans. It was soon on fire; the smoke
ascended in clouds; the flames spread; and as the unfortunate people,
forced by the burning liquid lead, issued from the building, they were
cut down by the ferocious pirates. Of eight thousand inhabitants, about
a tenth of the number were spared, in the hope of ransom; and such as
were unable or unwilling to pay it were put to a cruel death. Among them
was St. Elphege, who might have raised the sum demanded for him—three
thousand pieces of gold—had he signed an order to the churches of his
diocese to pay the money from their treasuries. But he refused to allow
that which had been raised for the poor to be expended on him: he would
not, he said, purchase life on terms so disgraceful. He who, throughout
life, had begged for the indigent, would not be the means of plundering
them in his old age. After being detained for some time, kept in a
loathsome dungeon, starved, tormented, beaten, in the view of subduing
his inflexibility, he was martyred, his last ejaculations being for his
flock, his country, his very enemies.[114]

[Sidenote: 1013 to 1014.]

In 1013 Sweyn arrived, with new reinforcements, to take possession of
the whole island. On landing in the north, the earl of Northumberland
and the whole province submitted. Proceeding to the south, Oxford,
Winchester, Bath, with all the towns of the west, and all the great
thanes, sent in their allegiance. For some time London held out, because
Ethelred was in it; but that doughty hero, having ascertained that duke
Richard of Normandy would receive him for the sake of his wife,
precipitately fled to Rouen, leaving his capital and kingdom in the
hands of the invaders. Sweyn was king of England; and he used the title,
though, owing to the short residue of his life, he was not crowned. That
he exercised all the rights of sovereignty, fully as the Saxon kings had
ever done, is admitted by our own historians. His reign is said to have
been one of severe exaction. He died at Gainsborough in one year after
his elevation, under circumstances of suspicion. The northern annalists
declare that he was killed by prince Edward, afterwards the Confessor;
but no English authority confirms the report. This was not the work of
Edward; but it might be that of Edmund Ironside.[115]

Many years before his death Sweyn probably reverted to Christianity, and
persevered in it unto his death. But whether pagan or Christian, he was
a ferocious warrior and a stern king. With natural talents of a high
order, with indomitable courage, with unwearied activity, he obtained
advantages which none of his predecessors had enjoyed. We have already
alluded to the diversion which his son, with Olaf Trygveson, king of
Norway, created in favour of England. After the death of that hero
(1000), he seized a portion of Norway, while the Swedish king seized
another; and this augmentation of his power no doubt rendered him more
able to conquer England.[116]


                               CHAP. II.


                         A.C. 70 to A.D. 1001.


IN the Introduction to the present volume we have added the tabular list
of kings by archbishop Joannes Magnus, as illustrative of the difficulty
which must accompany all researches into the ancient history of
Sweden.[117] The exploits of those kings, their chronological order,
their very names, rest under a deep cloud. Where, indeed, no two authors
agree,—where the names, not merely of two or three sovereigns, but of
nearly one half, are as different as the actions ascribed to them,—what
can be inferred but this, that little dependence is to be placed on any
one of them? Compare, for example, the list given by the archbishop with
that which modern Swedish critics approve[118]; and what must be the
reader’s surprise to find—110 in the former case, and 37 in the other;
the names, too, for the most part, dissimilar as the number! If we take
that given by the authors of our Universal History[119], we shall,
indeed, have some approximation in respect to the number, but little in
regard to the names, of the kings. Other lists might be produced equally
contrasting with the one contained in the Norwegian authorities. Whence
this diversity, which modern historians have pronounced to be hopelessly
irreconcileable? It arises from a very simple cause. When the Swiones,
the attendants of Odin,—his companions from his Asiatic kingdom,—arrived
in the north, they found a Gothic tribe, the Gothones, under Gylfo their
king, seated along the maritime coast, and extending to the centre of
Sweden. How long this tribe had been settled there when the Swiones
arrived would be vain to inquire. By what means Odin and his followers
obtained a portion of the country, and established the seat of his new
empire at Upsal, has been already related. Here, then, were two distinct
tribes, the Gothones or Goths, and the Swiones or Swedes, to say nothing
of the original tribes, or, at least, fragments of those tribes, who had
been located in these regions many centuries before the arrival of the
Goths. Now the kings whom Joannes Magnus, Torfœus, Loccenius, the
authors of our Universal History, and other writers enumerate, were the
kings of the Goths and Swedes, while those contained in the
Landfedgatal, the Heimskringla, and other Icelandic authorities, were
sovereigns of the Swedes only. That the two people, and, consequently,
the districts which they inhabited, were for many centuries under
distinct rulers, is one of the best ascertained facts of history. The
former called themselves kings of the Goths, or of Gothland, only; the
latter, now kings of the Swedes, now of Upsal. This distinction was not
only observed from the very dawn of their history, but is at this day
preserved in the title of the monarch, who is styled “King of the Swedes
and of the Goths.” Hence the two lists of kings—the two kingdoms—the
distinction of history in both; all which have hitherto been confounded,
and so completely as to baffle the keenest criticism. Not that the king
of the one people was not sometimes the king of both. This could not be
otherwise, when two conterminous nations, jealous of each other’s
prosperity, were eager for the ascendancy. The superiority, no doubt,
was assumed by the sovereigns of the divine race, the descendants of
Odin; but those of Gothland were sometimes the rulers, and hailed as
monarchs of the Swedes. On the other hand, the kings of the Swedes—those
who reigned at Upsal—were still more frequently victors over their
Gothic neighbours. Hence the confusion which, notwithstanding the
important distinction we have been so careful to indicate, will often be
found in the regal lists of this country.[120]

[Sidenote: A.C. 40 to A.D. 14.]

We commence with the hallowed race, the pontiff kings of the Swedes, who
reigned at Upsal. On the death of Odin, _Niord_ succeeded, as prophet,
priest, and king, in the capital of Sigtuna. It was then, no doubt, the
head of a very small state. Many were the kings which held Sweden at
this time: besides Gothia, which was subject to chiefs, who, in the
sequel, were generally at war with the Swiones, each province had its
king. Several of the states were bound in alliance with Niord. Odinsey,
in Fionia, was held by a chief of this nature; Skiold, the son of Odin,
reigned at Ledra, in Zealand; Freyr was the pontiff chief of Upsal;
Heimdal was over the temple at Hemenbiorg; Thor was at Thrudvang, and
Balder at Breidablik.[121] And though Scania was a possession of the
Goths, and not yet subject to the Danish chiefs, it appears to have been
held by some one of the Asser. The reign of Niord was a happy one; the
gifts of nature were extraordinarily abundant, and the benefit was
referred to his influence with the gods. Before his death he wounded
himself as Odin had done. After it, his body was laid on the funeral
pyre, and he was long worshipped as a deity. The sceptre was now
transferred to _Freyr_, the son of Niord. His reign, too, was
prosperous, and he was the idol of his people. He it was who built the
great temple at Upsal, and made it the seat of his government, in
preference to Sigtuna. Here he received the tribute furnished by his
subjects; hence the progressive enrichment of that place. Universal
peace distinguished his administration. He was held in greater esteem
than his predecessors, and his surname of _Yngve_ became the proudest
distinction of his descendants, who were thenceforth called _Ynglings_.
His death—we know not for what reason—was concealed for three years; the
only reason assigned is, that a magnificent tomb was erecting for him
during that period. His son did not immediately ascend the throne of the
Swedes; there was _Freya_, the last of the divine personages who had
accompanied Odin from Asia to the north. She was celebrated in her life,
and still more after her death: her body was not burned on the funeral
pyre, because it was believed she had returned to the gods; and her
statue, as everybody knows, in conjunction with those of Thor and Odin,
long adorned the temple at Upsal. _Fiolner_[122], the son of Freyr,
succeeded. He was contemporary with Frode I., king of Denmark. Both were
equally inclined to peace, and they lived in perfect harmony. More than
once did he visit king Frode at Ledra, whose hospitality was the
admiration of that age. But one of his visits proved fatal. Whatever
might be his other virtues, sobriety was not of the number; his
potations were long and deep; and one night, having occasion to rise, he
fell into a huge vessel of mead which was in the cellar, the trap door
of which had been incautiously left open.[123] The throne now passed to
_Swegdir_, his son. This prince, accompanied by twelve nobles, went into
Asia for the purpose of inquiring into the family and exploits of Odin.
He wandered over “Turkland” and Great “Swionia,” the Asheim or Godheim
of the Swedes. Here he found many of his own blood. While in the
territory of the Vanir[124], he married a lady of that nation, and by
her had a son, whom he called Vanland. At the end of five years, he
returned to Upsal; but if any reliance is to be placed on tradition, he
afterwards took a second journey to those distant regions, and never
returned. A wondrous legend has been invented to account for his death.
“To the east of Great Fionia,” says Snorro, “there is a large villa
called _Stein_, a rock, from one being placed there so huge, as to equal
a house. One evening, after sunset, as the king was about to pass from
his cups to his bed, he saw a fairy sitting under that great rock. He
and his companions, being excited by wine, ran towards the place, and
the fairy desired Swegdir to enter if he wished to converse with Odin.
He did enter, and was seen no more.”[125]

[Sidenote: 34 to 220.]

By the death of Swegdir, _Vanland_ became the acknowledged head of the
Swiones. He was the first of Odin’s descendants who exhibited a warlike
character, or rather the first that actually went to war. In the infancy
of this theocratic state, when, through weakness, it was compelled to
cultivate the good will of its neighbours, of conquest there was no
dream; but when the young lion had gained strength, its natural
character was unfolded. His conquests, however, have not been recorded;
and we can only conjecture that they were chiefly in the provinces
bounding on Upland. Nor do we know that it was a warlike expedition that
led him into Finland. That country, however, was to him a fatal as well
as a romantic one, While there he married the daughter of an old Swede
established among the Finns. Her he soon left, with the promise of
returning in three years; but ten having elapsed without any tidings of
him, she sent Visbur, their son, to his palace at Upsal. Still, as he
showed no disposition to visit her, she took counsel with Hulda, a
famous witch,—and Finland was full of them,—how she might compel him to
return. The witch readily undertook to bring him, or, if she failed, to
destroy him. Her secret charms were immediately exerted, and Vanland,
though enthroned at Upsal with the attributes of a demi-god, felt their
power. On a sudden his heart was drawn towards Finland; the impulse to
return was scarcely resistible: but his friends and counsellors
dissuaded him from the voyage, assuring him that he was merely under the
temporary influence of magic. Sleep now overcame him; but scarcely was
he laid on his couch than he cried out that he was oppressed by that
mysterious demon, the nightmare. His attendants hastened to assist him,
but in vain: the power of the demon was resistless; and, after violent
distortions of his limbs, he was suffocated. His body was burned; on the
banks of the Skuta his mighty cairn was erected; and _Visbur_ became the
monarch of the Swedes. This prince was not more faithful, as a husband,
than his father had been. Having married a lady by whom he had two sons,
he unceremoniously dismissed her and them to her father, and took
another to his bed. The offspring of this second marriage was Domald,
whom his nurse, foreseeing that dangers menaced him, endeavoured to
protect by incantations. In the mean time, Gisle and Ondur, sons of the
repudiated queen, applied to Visbur for the restoration of their
mother’s dowry, especially of a magnificent golden necklace; on his
refusal, they prayed that the ornament might be his destruction, and
that of his offspring. To effect this object, they had recourse to
magic; and Hulda, who had destroyed the father, boasted that she would
destroy him, and leave this doom to the whole of the Ynglings,—that
either their arms should always be turned against one another, or they
should perish tragically by some other means. The operations of magic,
however, were too slow for their impatience; and they burned their
father with the house in which they found him. _Domald_ succeeded; but
the fates were not to be averted. During three years a grievous famine
afflicted Sweden. The first autumn, oxen were offered to propitiate the
gods; the second, human victims bled on the altar. When neither availed,
the nobles and priests, assembled at Upsal, decreed that, as the famine
was owing to king Domald, he should be the next sacrifice, and the
decree was carried into effect. Of the two next kings, _Domar_, the son
of Domald, and _Dygve_, the son of Domar, nothing is recorded except
that they reigned and died; but _Dag the Wise_, the son of the
last-named sovereign, is celebrated in northern history. Well might he
enjoy the epithet, if, as tradition asserts, he understood the language
of birds. He had a sparrow which performed the same office for him that
the ravens did for Odin[126]; it flew over the earth and brought him
intelligence of everything that passed. One day, however, as this bird
was picking some grains in a field of Redgothia, a country clown killed
it with a stone. Finding that his bird did not return, Dag consulted the
gods, and learned its fate. To avenge himself, he led an army against
the Goths, and laid waste the region in which the misfortune had
happened. Having taken many prisoners, and left many dead on the field,
he was returning to his vessels, when a dart from an obscure hand sent
him to the halls of Odin.[127]

[Sidenote: 220 to 448.]

_Agne_, the son of Dag, mounted the vacant throne of the Swedes. Rich
and warlike, he was held in high esteem; but the fate which hung over
the sacred line of the Ynglings made him another of its victims. In a
successful expedition against the Finns, in which he had slain the
Finnish king, and, agreeably to the manners of the times, had made
Skiolfa, the orphan daughter of the king, his mistress or wife, he had
just returned to Stocksund, disembarked his troops, and pitched his tent
on the margin of a wood. Here, to perform with passing splendour the
last rites to the memory of Skiolfa’s father, he assembled a great
number of guests. The cup went round until the king became intoxicated.
As he wore the chain which had belonged to Visbur, Skiolfa besought him
to confide the precious ornament to her care; but he fastened it the
more closely round his neck and fell asleep. The tent was at the foot of
a tree, and Skiolfa, assisted by her Finnish connections, tied a strong
cord to the ornament, threw one end over a branch of the tree, and
pulling with all their might, the body of Agne was raised, and left to
dangle in the nightly breeze. The following morning Skiolfa and her
companions were on their voyage to Finland, and nothing remained to the
Swedes but the performance of the last rites to the royal victim.
_Alaric_ or _Elrac_ and _Eric_, his two sons, divided the supreme power
between them. For a season they were prosperous; but they were doomed to
share the fate which hung over the house of Yngve. They were fond of
equestrian exercises, especially of taming the most spirited horses. One
day they rode at full gallop over an extensive plain; but they were
never again seen alive: their corpses were found with their sculls
fractured; and, as neither had any arms, it was supposed that they had
killed each other with the reins, or that some malignant demon had
destroyed them both. _Yngve_ and _Alf_, the sons of Alaric, shared the
government of the Swedes; but they were dissimilar in character. The
latter was studious of peace, a man of few words, and severe in manner;
the former was fond of war, of his cups, and of conversation, and often
protracted his orgies into the silence of night. Two such men, whose
jealousy was further increased by the unwise division of power, could
not long bear the society of each other. One evening Yngve stabbed his
brother; but the victim had strength enough left to return the fatal
blow. The supreme power was now held by one, _Hugleik_, the son of Alf.
His end, too, was tragical. Being assailed by Hako, a celebrated sea
king and Danish jarl, who numbered among his captains the unrivalled
Sterkodder[128], he was vanquished and slain,—Snorro assures us by the
hands of Hako; but it was, perhaps, by those of Sterkodder. The victor
was not satisfied with the death of Hugleik: he subdued the Swiones, and
forced them to acknowledge him as their king. Yet he is not ranked by
the Icelandic writers among the lawful kings of the Swedes. He was a
usurper whom _Jorund_ and _Eric_, both sons, both sea kings, assailed
and slew in the vicinity of Upsal. But Eric had received a mortal wound,
and Jorund was hailed as the monarch of the Swedes. The new sovereign,
who, during his exile, had obtained considerable reputation on the deep,
retained his attachment for the profession, which he exercised in the
summer. But it led to his ruin. During his exile he had slain Gudlaug,
king of Halogia: by Gylaug, the son of that chief, he was met, in
Limafiord, defeated, and hung. _Aun_, the son of Jorund, surnamed _hinn
Gamle_, or the Old, now ascended the throne of the Swedes. He was a
prudent man, a great worshipper of the gods, and not fond of war. During
his reign, says Snorro,—and the information is valuable,—Dan Mykillati,
Frode the Pacific, Halfdan, and Fridleif III. were, in succession, kings
of the Danes. His peaceful habits, probably, led to the aggressions
which were committed upon him. He was twice expelled from his
kingdom,—the first time by Halfdan, who reigned twenty-five years in his
capital, Upsal, and there died. This remarkable event is mentioned by
Saxo; but, in his usual manner of confounding names and dates, the
Danish historian calls the Swedish king Eric instead of Aun. He adds
that Halfdan was held in great veneration by the Swedes, who, in their
deplorable blindness, regarded him as the son of the great Thor. After
his twenty-five years’ reign in Gothia, Aun consulted the gods
respecting the duration of his life, and, to render them more
propitious, he offered his own son on the altar of Odin. The response
was, that, though he was now sixty years of age, he should live sixty
more. But, if he was to live, he was not to reign that time; for in
twenty-five years from the date of this sacrifice, he was again expelled
by Ali, the son of Fridleif. At the end of twenty-five years more, Ali,
we are told, was slain by Sterkodder. Aun was again obeyed by the Goths.
All this is sufficiently fabulous; but the following is more so:—After
reigning another period of twenty-five years, he offered his second son
to Odin; and the response was, that, if he sacrificed a son every ten
years to that deity, he should live for ever; but his vigour was not to
be commensurate with his life. After the seventh sacrifice, he was
unable, during ten years, to walk, and was carried on a litter. After
the eighth, during ten whole years, he was confined to his bed. After
the ninth, he was fed like a child with milk from the horn. He had still
a son, and would have offered him as the tenth victim had not the Swedes
forbidden the sacrifice. So king Aun died; and his name was afterwards
used proverbially to denote the diseases inseparable from old age.[129]

[Sidenote: 448 to 545.]

_Egil_, whose blood should have stained the altar of Odin, became, by
his father’s death, monarch of the Swedes. He now experienced an enemy
in Tunne, who, though a slave, had been the treasurer of Aun. As Tunne
had tasted the sweets of power, he had no wish to revert to his former
condition; and when he perceived that no distinction was made between
him and his fellows, he repaired to the spot where Aun had buried a
large treasure, dug it up, and with it hired a numerous body of men to
execute his purposes. At first the new chief betook himself to the less
accessible parts of the country; by degrees, as his band increased,—and
there can be no doubt, by proclaiming a servile war, it rapidly
increased,—he issued from the mountain or the forest, and swept the
neighbouring plains. He was a bandit on a large scale. Egil raised some
force, and hastened to chastise the rebel; but, being surprised by night
in his camp, he lost many of his followers, and was compelled to consult
his safety by flight. This signal event increased the power of the
rebel, and though forces were repeatedly brought into the field, victory
declared for Tunne in eight consecutive engagements. In this emergency
the king fled to the court of the Danish king, Frode V., in Zealand, and
offered as the condition of aid an annual tribute. Frode accepted the
offer; and, with a Danish reinforcement, Egil triumphed over the rebel.
During the three years which intervened between this event and his own
death, Egil sent large _presents_ to the Danish king; but he would not
allow them to be called tribute. Death was to him, like most of the
Ynglings, tragical: it was occasioned by a wild bull, while hunting in
the forest. _Ottar_, the son of Egil, succeeded. Being summoned by the
Danish king to pay the tribute which had been promised, he returned a
peremptory refusal. Frode invaded Swionia, laid waste the country; while
Ottar, equipping a powerful armament, disembarked in Zealand, and
committed equal depredations. But the latter was defeated and slain by
the Danes, and his body exposed to the fury of wild beasts. _Adils_, the
son of Ottar, was the next king. He was a noted pirate, who, in summer,
visited and ravaged most of the coasts round the Baltic. On one occasion
he descended on that of Saxony, laid waste the country, took much spoil,
among which was Ursa, a lady of surpassing beauty. Of her the victor
became enamoured, and he married her: but, being expelled from his
kingdom by Helge, the son of Halfdan, who reigned at Ledra, this queen
fell into the power of the victor, who, also, married her, and the issue
of this union was Rolf Krake. But Ursa, who was discovered to be the
daughter of Helge, returned to the court of Adils, with whom she
remained during the rest of her life. On the death of Helge, in one of
his piratical expeditions, Rolf, or Rollo, young as he was, was
acknowledged king of Ledra. Adils did not long survive his enemy; he was
killed by the fall of his horse.[130] _Eystein_, the son of Adils, next
swayed the sceptre of the Swedes. His reign was a troubled one, his
kingdom being continually infested by the royal ships of Denmark and
Norway, or, what was worse, by the fierce sea kings. “In those days,”
says Snorro, “were many sea kings, who levied large forces, though they
had no countries to rule. He was esteemed worthy to be a sea king who
never slept under a tent, and never emptied his horn by the hearth
side.” The most powerful enemy of Eystein was Solvi, a chief of the
Jutes, whose piratical expeditions were known on many coasts. One night
this marauder advanced to the tent where Eystein was entertaining his
friends; and setting fire to the place, all within were consumed. To
obtain the royal title, Solvi hastened to Sigtuna; and for a moment he
enjoyed it: but the inhabitants rising to avenge their late king, and to
free themselves from the new yoke, this adventurer soon bade farewell to
empire and to life. The lawful successor of Eystein was his son
_Yngvar_, who, being of a martial disposition, visited many coasts. But
in 545 he was slain on that of Esthonia.[131]

[Sidenote: 545 to 623.]

The next person who filled the throne of the Ynglings, _Braut-Onund_,
was a much wiser man than his predecessors. His great object was, to
clear the forests, to drain the marshes of Swionia, and thus, to convert
desert and useless into arable and pasture land. His efforts were
crowned with success. Where the stagnant pool had stood, golden harvests
waved; forests were replaced by huts full of industrious labourers; and
highways were made to pass over mountain and fen. “Many,” says Snorro,
“were the provincial kings subject to him.” But this patriotic monarch,
like so many of the Ynglinga, came to an untimely end: as he and his
retinue were one day in the mountains, they were overwhelmed by a huge
avalanche. The sceptre now devolved to the unfortunate _Ingiald
Illrada_, son of the deceased king. In his infancy this prince, we are
told, was of too gentle, too mild a disposition, for the turbulent
people with whom he had to deal. This defect, however, was cured by a
peculiar diet,—that of roasted wolves’ hearts; and Ingiald became as
ferocious as he had formerly been the reverse. But this change of
character was not for the happiness of the Swedes; and he was destined
to be the last of the Ynglings that should rule at Upsal. His first
object was, to exterminate the local kings, who, like mushrooms, had
sprung up in the country, and who, though subject to the descendants of
Odin, frequently acted as if they were independent. In the entertainment
which he gave at Upsal, alike to celebrate the obsequies of his father,
and his own inauguration, his character was fully displayed. Here were
six kings,—all who owed obedience to Ingiald, except the one of
Sudermania,—with a great number of jarls, and other nobles. On these
occasions, the king, or jarl, previous to receiving the homage of all
present,—a homage expressed by a general shout,—seated himself on a low
seat at the foot of the one which his predecessor had filled. The
Bragacup was then brought, filled with wine to the brim; and this the
new heir, after giving some pledge, was expected to quaff before he
ascended the high seat. When the cup—a huge horn—was brought to Ingiald,
before emptying it, he vowed to Braga, the god, that he would, in every
direction, double his dominions, or perish in the attempt. They who
applauded the vow little foresaw the fate which awaited them. That very
night the six kings and the jarls were burnt, together with the house of
feasting. By this atrocious act Ingiald was absolute master of all
Swionia, except that district of Sudermania which owed obedience to the
absent king, Grammar. This king soon heard of the deed; and knowing that
his own life was menaced, he entered into an alliance with a famous sea
king, Hiorvardar by name, to whom he gave his daughter Hildegund. The
entertainment at which this marriage was first projected is
characteristic of the manners of the times. On one high seat was king
Granmer; on another, the pirate king; and by the side of each sat his
chiefs and friends. To honour the guest, Granmer called for his daughter
Hildegund to present the cup. She appeared, beautiful as the day, filled
the cup, and approaching Hiorvardar, said, “Hail to the Ilsings! I drink
to the memory of Rolf Krake!”[132] She then emptied the half of the cup,
and presented it to Hiorvardar, who, seizing it and her hand, prayed her
to sit beside him. “Such,” replied the damsel, “is not the custom of
pirates; they do not allow females to sit and drink with them.” “Never
mind that custom,” pursued the chief; “but be persuaded to share my seat
and cup.” Hildegund yielded; she drank and talked with the chief until
the night was far advanced; and the next day she was affianced to him.
By this alliance Granmer acquired a valiant ally; and in the battle
which both had soon to wage against Ingiald they were the victors. The
monarch of the Swedes was compelled to flee; but, through the
intervention of friends, peace was concluded, on this condition,—that,
so long as the three lived, not one of them should molest the others.
Granmer could now go to Upsal to join in the great sacrifice and to
consult the oracles. The response was, that his days were numbered: and
numbered they were. While he and his son-in-law were in one of their
rural manors, Ingiald, with a select force, silently approached and
consumed with fire both them and the house. He then subjugated the
districts which the two kings had ruled, and those of their allies. His
surname of _Illrada_, the Deceitful, sufficiently shows the estimation
in which he was held. He had a daughter, Asa by name, who was the
heiress of his bad qualities. Married to Gudred king of Scania, she
persuaded her husband to murder his brother, Halfdan III., king of
Zealand. She then joined in a plot for the destruction of her husband;
but this object was no sooner effected than she was obliged to flee for
protection to the court of Upsal. Yet here she was not safe. Ivar
Vidfadme, the son of Halfdan, in the resolution of avenging his father’s
death, invaded Swionia, and wrapped it in blood and flames. When the
news of this invasion reached Ingiald, he was at an entertainment, with
his daughter and many nobles. He knew that he was hated; that resistance
was impossible; that escape was hopeless; and by the advice of Asa he
adopted an expedient which would, for ever, make his death as remarkable
as his life. This was, to burn himself, his daughter, his guests,
together with the house which contained them.[133]

[Sidenote: 623 to 630.]

By the death of Ingiald, his son, _Olaf Trætelia_, was the last of the
Ynglings; but his claim to the throne, however sanctioned by custom or
blood, was not likely to avail in opposition to so powerful an enemy as
Ivar Vidfadme. At this moment, Ivar was at the head of the Danish, the
Swedish, part of the Saxon and Anglian states (the Angles of Holstein);
and his career was not to be resisted by a youth without army, without
followers. Indeed, Olaf made no effort to resist; he saw that the people
were resolved on the expulsion of the Ynglings; and, with the few
friends who adhered to him, he hastened to the desert lands north and
west of the Vener Lake. There he cleared off the forests,—hence his
surname of Trætelia, or the Tree-feller,—drained them, and not only
rendered them habitable, but in a short time made them the foundation of
a new state, that of Vermeland. From him descended the famous Harald
Harfager, monarch of Norway, the restorer of the ancient glory of the

The crimes and misfortunes of this dynasty must, to every reader,
contrast strangely with its pretended divine origin. Compared to it, the
fate of our Stuarts was a happy one. If we except the companions of
Odin, the ends of most were tragical. Fiolner was drowned in a butt of
mead; Swegdir, whatever the manner of his death, did not leave this
world in a natural way; Vanland perished, not by the hands of witches,
but those of conspirators; Visbur was burnt to death by his own sons;
Domald was sacrificed on Odin’s altar by his subjects; Dag was killed by
a slave; Agne was hung by his bride; Alaric and Eric were killed by each
other’s hands, or by conspirators; Alf and Yngve certainly slew each
other; Hugleik was slain by Hako or Sterkodder; Eric died in battle;
Jorund was ignominiously hung; Egil was gored to death by a wild bull;
Ottar was killed by the Danes; Adils by the fall of his horse; Eystein
perished by the hands of pirates; Ingvar by those of the Esthonians;
Braut-Onund by an avalanche; Ingiald Illrada was forced to destroy
himself; and Olaf Trætelia was driven into everlasting exile. Thus, out
of twenty-two sovereigns, from Fiolner to Olaf, three only died a
natural death; for that of Olaf, as we shall soon perceive, was also
tragical. Assuredly there was nothing in the pre-eminence, divine as it
was, of the Ynglings, to render it an object of envy, either to their
own times or to posterity.[135]

The fortunes of Olaf Trætelia and of his successors may be found in the
chapter devoted to the early Norwegian history. Henceforth Sweden, or to
speak more precisely, the Swedes, are under the sceptre of the
Skioldungs, and not of the Ynglings, though the former, like the latter,
were of Odin’s race, being descended from Skiold, whose seat was
established at Ledra in Zealand. They did not exercise the sacerdotal
functions; they were not pontiff kings; consequently, they were not held
in the same veneration as those who were privileged to officiate at
Odin’s altar.—Before we proceed with this Swedish branch of the
Skioldungian dynasty, we must revert to the Gothic dynasty established
in another part of Sweden. At every step we take in the history of this
obscure period, we are more fully convinced that the hypothesis we have
framed is based on truth; viz., that while the Swiones or Swedes were
located in the provinces bordering on Upsal, and were governed by their
own kings, the Goths were in the more southern and western provinces,
with a dynasty of their own. Where was the seat of this latter dynasty?
Probably it was not always stationary. It appears to have been sometimes
in West, sometimes in East, Gothland; just as those provinces obeyed one
or two kings. Scania too, which, politically, was a province of Denmark,
yet geographically a portion of Sweden, was inhabited by Goths, the seat
of whose government was Lund. As the kings of Scania, or of East and
West Gothia, obtained the preponderance, they were called kings of the
Goths. In the same measure, when the Danish star was triumphant, Ledra,
or Odensee, or Lund, or some town of Jutland, was regarded as the
metropolis of the Goths. But in each of the Gothic provinces of Sweden
there was a resident court, and consequently a capital, whose ruler was
sometimes dependent on the king of Scania, sometimes on him of Upsal,
but more frequently, perhaps, independent of them all. However this be,
it is certain that the kings of all these provinces, except Jutland,
have been confounded. Hence the uncertainty of regal lists, and, in many
instances, their contradiction to one another. In general, the prince
who happened to have the preponderance for the moment, whether his seat
was in the Gothlands or in Scania, was called king of the Goths. All
were, or professed to be, equally descended from Odin; nor is this
improbable, when we perceive how frequently a conqueror divided, at his
death, his dominions among his sons. This fatal example, as we have
seen, was set by Odin himself. Over Scania he placed his son Heimdal;
over Zealand and the surrounding islands, his son Skiold; over Jutland
and Holstein, his son Balder; over the Swedes at Upsal, his kinsman
Freyr; and over the Norwegians, as we shall soon perceive, his son
Semming. Such, at least, is the consistent voice of tradition, as
perpetuated in the oldest records now extant.[136]

From the preceding observations, and from many others in this and the
last chapter, the reader will be prepared for the amazing variations in
the chronological lists of northern kings, as given by Saxo, Snorro
Sturleson, and Joannes Magnus. Thus the king of Scania was sometimes the
chief of all the Danes, sometimes of all the Goths, sometimes of both;
but in general the kings of the two Gothlands were the acknowledged
heads of their nation, whether they happened to be independent, or
politically subject to the Danes on the one side, or the Swedes on the
other. Besides, the intermarriages which constantly took place among
these sovereigns would make them, eventually, of one great family, even
if most of them had not derived their origin from the warrior god of the
north. Still there were kings who had no such boast, who descended from
a regal stem more ancient than theirs, whose ancestors were rulers in
the Gothic provinces of Sweden, centuries, perhaps, before Odin was
born. And for anything we can prove to the contrary, there might, in the
interior of Sweden, be reguli who descended from the original, almost
indigenous rulers—from the old Finnish stock; for though the Goths, who
were there before the arrival of the kindred tribe of the Swiones, were
the dominant caste, they would govern the inland provinces through
native chiefs. At this distance of time, however, it is impossible to
distinguish the two; nor is it often possible to distinguish the earlier
from the subsequent Gothic princes,—those who sprung from ancestors
prior to Odin’s arrival, from those who descended from the Swionian

According to the Heimskringla, the oldest and best authority for Swedish
history, when Odin arrived in the north he found a monarch named Gylfo
in possession of the supreme power.[138] Was this Gylfo of the Gothic or
of the anterior race? This question cannot be answered. From one
circumstance, viz., his alleged proficiency in magic science, we should
infer that he was a Finn, were it not doubtful whether the Goths did not
also cultivate this pretended science, and whether, from the facility of
his intercourse with Odin, and from the locality which he occupied, he
was not of a race kindred with that of the Swiones,—one that had
immigrated into these regions from Asiatic Scythia centuries, perhaps,
before “this king of the Turks.” Gylfo is said to have ceded to the
strangers a portion of his territory, and that they settled to the north
of him. This statement, again, confirms the inference of his Gothic
descent. However, from that day down to the permanent union of the two
nations—the Goths and the Swedes—under one head (temporary unions had
been frequently effected), the more southern people had their own king,
their own government and laws. By what degrees the Swiar obtained the
ascendancy over the Goths may be easily conjectured. The latter were, at
an early period, induced to embrace the religion of the former, or, we
should rather say, a modification of that religion; for that they, like
the Norwegians, combined a few more ancient tenets with the faith of
Odin, may be inferred from many passages. And with all due allowance for
this circumstance, we cannot but feel surprise at the facility with
which both Norwegians and Goths were brought to the temples of the new
faith. This could scarcely be the result of force, since the Swiar do
not appear to have been very numerous in comparison with the rest of the
population. Like the Saxons in England; and the Scots in Ireland, and
the Mohammedans in India, they were the dominant caste, and no doubt
their individual valour was superior to that of the natives. Still, in
the earliest Norwegian and Danish accounts of these remote transactions,
we do not read of the physical so much as of the moral influence of Odin
and his immediate successors. They might be numerous enough to obtain
possession of any neighbouring province, or even to defeat the petty
chiefs with which the country swarmed; but they would scarcely be
sufficient to make both Goths and Norwegians embrace a new faith.
Between temporal and religious domination there is a wide difference;
and all history proves that men will fight more willingly, more
perseveringly, for speculative opinions, than for the most substantial
social advantages. The comparative ease with which Odin, or rather his
immediate successors, thus forced the positive or modified observance of
their religious system on a great population, has led some northern
writers to assume that before his arrival another Odin had been there,
the apostle of a kindred faith.[139] But this assumption is gratuitous;
we have no good reason for it; and even if we had, the question would
still occur, “By what means did this _former_ prophet procure the
ascendancy of _his_ religion?” There is but one mode of solving this
difficulty, and this is hypothetical. Probably, as both Goths and
Swedes—perhaps, too, a considerable portion of the older race—had come
from the same Asiatic Scythia, there was between _some_ of their
religious opinions an affinity, if not an identity; and this affinity
would naturally facilitate the progress of the new faith. If to this
consideration we add the pomp with which the sacrifices were
conducted—the splendour of the temple—the crowd of officiating priests,
with the king at their head—the imposing solemnity of the scene—the
alleged godlike descent of the pontiff chief—the reputation which all
the Asser priests enjoyed for supernatural knowledge—we shall scarcely
be surprised at the rapid progress of the Odinic worship. As a prophet,
too, especially one so highly descended, Odin must have pretended to the
gift of miracles, or, what is the same thing, to the power of effecting
wonderful results by his knowledge of nature’s mysteries. This
combination of circumstances must have imposed on the Goths, as on the
Norwegian and other ancient tribes. It may account for the facility with
which both nations embraced the new faith, and ultimately acknowledged
even the temporal superiority of the Swiar. It is certain that as early
as even the time of Tacitus, the latter were the dominant tribe; yet, as
they occupied the sea-coast,—the usual locality of the last comers,—we
may doubt whether they had been there above two centuries. But this
superiority being of a moral, not of a physical nature, was often
resisted by the Gothic kings, who did not hesitate to march on Upsal, to
put the half divine pontiff to death, and to ascend his throne.[140]

[Sidenote: A.C. 70 to A.D. 260.]

The names, succession, and chief exploits of these sacerdotal kings,
from Odin to Ingiald Illrada, we have, thanks to the industry of Snorro,
been able to lay before the reader. But over those of the royal Goths a
cloud hangs which time can never remove. All that can now be done is,
from Saxo Grammaticus and the Heimskringla itself, to reserve a few
scattered names. Gylfo we have already mentioned; and from the alleged
fact—which we have no reason to dispute—that Scania was previously ceded
by Odin to his son Heimdal, the seat of Gylfo’s empire must have been in
one of the Gothlands. He was followed by _Frode_ and _Sigtrug_; the
former, remarkable for his liberal presents to the great temple of
Sigtuner; the latter, for his misfortunes. Gram, a Danish king (probably
the ruler of Scania), having carried off the daughter of Sigtrug, a war
followed, which proved fatal to the Gothic king, who was dethroned and
slain. That he reigned in Gothland is expressly affirmed by Saxo
Grammaticus[141], who relates a graphic incident illustrative of ancient
manners. Gram, says the Danish historian, had heard that the princess
was affianced to a giant, and he resolved to rescue her from the
humiliation; he therefore went into Gothia, and found the royal maiden,
with some of her female train, washing at one of the rural streams. Of
course she became the prize of the victor, and so did the Gothic
kingdom. But _Gram_ did not use his success with moderation; and by
_Swibdager_, a king of Norway, he was slain in his turn.[142] Swibdager
was now the lord of three states,—of Scania, Gothia, and his hereditary
one; but the first he resigned to Guthrum, son of Gram. It was the lot
of Swibdager to fall, untimely, by the hands of Hadding, another son of
Gram.[142] In his Gothic and Norwegian states he was succeeded by his
son _Asmund_, who, desiring to avenge the death of the father, was also
slain by Hadding. _Uffo_, the son of _Asmund_, succeeded to the quarrel,
though not to the throne, of his two predecessors. That throne was in
possession of Hadding; but he was able to raise forces and make a
diversion, by landing on the coast of Scania (or, perhaps, Jutland), and
forcing the Danish king to return to the defence of his dominions. As it
was not Uffo’s design to risk a battle in a foreign state, he sailed for
Gothland, and took possession of his hereditary dignity. But with the
returning spring Hadding resumed his desire of conquest, and, with a
considerable force, landed on the Gothic continent. His followers,
however, were soon exhausted by hunger and fatigue; and in the ensuing
battle he was signally defeated, and compelled to retreat into
Denmark.[143] Unable to accomplish the destruction of his enemy by
force, Hadding had recourse to treachery: he sought an interview with
Uffo, and removed that prince by assassination; but, according to the
Danish account, he placed _Hunding_, the brother of Uffo, on the vacant
throne. The Swedes, however, assert that it was their nation, not the
Danes, who thus acted; and their statement is far more credible.
Probably there was, as the former assert, a fierce war between the two;
and when both found that no advantage was to be expected from it, they
eagerly made peace, and were thenceforward more distinguished for their
friendship than they had been for their animosity. In the fabulous
spirit of the times, it is said that, when one of them heard of the
other’s death, he killed himself through grief. We may, however, admit
that they died within a short interval of each other. We may add, that
this Hadding is not admitted into the list of Danish, that is, of
Zealand kings, by the best critics; and that for his actions we are
indebted to Saxo. Probably he did not reign at Ledra.[144]

[Sidenote: About 260 to 448.]

_Ragnar_, the son of Uffo, succeeded to the throne of the Goths, but not
until he had rescued it from the domination of his step-mother. His
queen was Swanhita, sister of Frode, a king of Denmark; but this
alliance did not preserve a good understanding between the two
countries. Frode invaded Gothland, but perished in the expedition,—not,
observes Saxo, by the hands of the enemy, but through a fever,
occasioned alike by the heat and the weight of his armour. On the death
of Ragnar, the sceptre of the Goths was seized by _Holward_, or
_Hodbrod_, who was a warlike prince. In his expedition to Denmark, which
was then governed by Helge and Roe, he left the latter sovereign dead on
the field. But he himself, after his return to Gothland, was mortally
wounded by Helge, and his kingdom became the prize of the victor. But
_Attil I._, the son of Hodbrod, by marrying the daughter of Helge, and,
still more, by the bravery of the Goths, was raised to the throne. The
issue of this marriage, _Hoder_, became, in the sequel, king of Scania,
no less than of Gothland. This is the Hoder of whom Saxo—so absurd in
his chronology—makes the contemporary and rival of Balder, the son of
Odin.[145] Ruric, the son of Hoder, was also monarch of both states. He,
as we have before related, was the grandfather of Hamlet, through the
marriage of his daughter with Horwendil, prince of Jutland.[146] He
governed Denmark through his viceroys, and always remained in Gothland;
for this reason, he has been often omitted in the list of Danish kings.
Of _Attil II._ we merely know that he was assassinated by a Danish
emissary; of _Hogmor_ and _Hogrin_, who reigned conjointly, that they
perished in a battle with the Danes. But _Alaric_, their successor,
appears to have been identical with _Elrec_, prince of the Swedes, the
brother of Eric[147]; and this conjecture is confirmed by the statement
of the Swedish historians,—that the Goths and Swedes were at this time
united. Probably Elrec ruled one nation, Eric another. In the Swedish
annals, too, _Eric_ ranks as the brother and successor of Alaric;—a
confusion of chronology common enough in the historians of this period.
_Halfdan_ (or _Halden_) succeeded, who was, probably, the _Alf_ of
Snorro.[148] This conjecture, too, is strengthened by the statement of
the same Norwegian authority, that Yngve and Alf shared the government
of the Swedes. Both would scarcely reign at Upsal; and we have strong
reason for inferring that, while Yngve held that throne, Alf, or
Halfdan, reigned over the Goths. And there is another confirmation in
the fact that, on the death of Alf, the two people obeyed different
rulers. In the reigns of _Siward_, _Eric_, _Halfdan II._, _Ragnald_,
_Asmund_, and _Haquin_ (or Hako), we observe few points of coincidence
between the history of the Goths and the Swedes: probably they were
kings of the former people only, with the occasional superiority over
Scania. But the name of Hako must not be dismissed without adverting to
an incident which the author of _Macbeth_ has admitted into the greatest
of his dramas. Hako, resolved to avenge the death of his brothers who
had been assassinated at the Danish court, descended with a strong
armament on the coast of Zealand, and marched towards the residence of
the Danish king. On his way, to avoid observation, he passed through the
woods; and when the path diverged into the open plain, he ordered his
men each to cut down a large branch, that the paucity of his followers
might not be discovered. Great was the wonder of the sentinel, to see a
forest approaching the royal fortress, and he immediately carried the
information to the king. The latter inquired how far the moving wood was
distant from the walls; and, being answered that it was near, he felt
that his last hour was also at hand. Issuing from the fortress to meet
the foe on the open plain, he met the fate which he had foreseen.[149]

[Sidenote: 448 to 623.]

We now approach historic ground. _Egil Auniff_, the next king of the
Goths, is, beyond all doubt, Egil, the son of Aun, whose exploits we
have recorded in a former page of this chapter.[150] Those exploits are
the same, both in the narration of Snorro, and in that of later
historians of the country: the cause and the result were the same. Egil,
therefore, was king of the Goths and the Swedes. The _Gothar_ of the
Swedish writers, the successor of Egil, is also the _Ottar_ of Snorro:
the circumstances of their lives are identical.[151] _Adel_ is the
_Adils_, _Ostan_ the _Eystein_, of the Heimskringla: in both histories,
as the former was killed by the fall of his horse, so the latter was
burned to death.[152] The only difference in the relation is the
circumstance that led to the death of Eystein; the Norwegian authority
attributing it to Solve, a Jutish pirate; the Swedish, to the rebellion
of a Gothland chief. The _Ingvar_ of the Swedish writers is indisputably
the _Yngvar_ of Snorro; and the _Asmund_ of the former is the _Onund_,
or _Braut-Onund_ of the latter. In this latter reign, we perceive the
same encouragement of industry; but the death of the king is variously
related. Snorro, as we have before related, attributes it to an
avalanche[153]; but the Swedish writers make him fall in battle against
a body of rebels. Of the two next rulers mentioned by the Swedish
writers—_Siward_ and _Hirvt_—we have no mention in the annals of the
Ynglings. The reason is, that they were kings of Gothland only, and,
probably, dependent on the monarchs of Upsal: the latter, indeed, is
expressly called the king of the Goths. _Ingel_, the next sovereign in
the Swedish annals, is, beyond all doubt, the Ingiald Illrada of Snorro
Sturleson, who was king of the Goths and the Swedes: his exploits, and
tragical death, are the same.[154]

We have thus brought down the contemporary monarchy of the Goths, from
the century before Christ to the conquest of Sweden by Ivar Vidfadme, in
or about the year 623. By regarding these dynasties as separate, and
endeavouring to distinguish kings whom all preceding historians have
confounded, we have made the subject intelligible to the reader. The
path, in which we have been the first to venture, will, we have no
doubt, be traversed by other writers, until it is as well known as any
other part of ancient Scandinavian history. It is yet a dark one; and
criticism, aided by an extensive use of manuscript authorities, can
alone enlighten it.

[Sidenote: 623 to 794.]

The four next monarchs of the Swedes and the Goths were also kings of
the Danes. Of these, _Ivar Vidfadme_, the conqueror of Ingiald Illrada,
was one of the most celebrated. The saga relates of him that he subdued
all Sweden, which he joined with Denmark; a great part of Saxland, all
Estland, and a fifth part of England. There is, doubtless, some
exaggeration in this statement; but this very exaggeration establishes
the fact of his conquests. The part of England to which the saga
alludes, is said to be Northumbria. No mention, indeed, of such a
descent is to be found in the Saxon chronicle, or in Bede; and the
silence of this Northumbrian historian, especially, may be a strong
argument against its truth. Still, in the troubled state of the times,
while the Saxons were struggling with the native Britons for the
possession of the territory, the arrival of a new chief might well be
overlooked, especially if the conquests of Ivar were confined to that
part of Northumbria which lies north of the Tweed. It could not well be
south of that river in the time of St. Oswald. But, whether this prince
was in England, or not, no doubt can be entertained of his courage. His
hereditary domain comprehended Scania only; Jutland he soon added to the
rest; but we have no proof that he ever sat on the throne of Ledra. As
king of Gothland and Sweden, however, without including his conquests on
the coasts of the Baltic, he was a powerful monarch. “From him,” says
Snorro, “henceforth descend the kings of the Danes and the Swedes.” On
his death, the sceptre of these states was inherited by _Harald_, his
grandson, surnamed _Hildetand_, or the Golden-toothed. This monarch far
exceeded the former in glory. He appears, from the relation of Saxo, to
have had some trouble with the Goths, and also with the Swedes; and for
his success over them he was, according to the same veracious authority,
indebted to the councils of Odin, who honoured him with a personal
interview. From several passages in this historian, and in the sagas of
a later age, we may infer that the Goths, dissatisfied at once with the
Danes and the Swedes, repeatedly proclaimed their independence. They
belonged not to the divine race of Odin; and the freedom which their
ancestors had enjoyed before the arrival of “that wizard king,” was
often the stimulant to bold deeds. As they had revolted from the Swedes,
so they were equally troublesome to the Danes during the four reigns
which are now before us. But Harald triumphed, and governed both nations
through his royal kinsman. Other parts of the world witnessed his
valour: but it was his fate to die in battle, and in his old age,
against his nephew Sigurd Ring, who wished to expel him from the throne
of Denmark. In the north of Europe, the battle of Bravalla is celebrated
as any in ancient or modern times. Saxo, with much care, enumerates the
royal chiefs who fought on both sides; but their number, no less than
that of the common men, exceeds all belief. The aged and blind Harald
was carried about in a war chariot; and, from time to time, he inquired
how the battle proceeded. Above all, he was struck with the admirable
manner in which Sigurd Ring had drawn up the hostile ranks; and he
expressed his conviction that this arrangement was not the result of
mortal science, but of Odin’s peculiar favour. The charioteer whom he
addressed was no other than Odin, under the form of a Danish chief; and,
by the hands of that deity, he received a deadly blow, and was thrown on
the ground. According to Saxo, he was succeeded by _Olo_ and _Omund_, in
succession; but the Icelandic authorities, who make the conqueror
_Sigurd_, or _Siward Ring_, his successor, are more entitled to credit.
Probably Olo and Omund were viceroys only, though they might be of royal
origin. Many, according to Saxo, were the kings who intervened between
Harald Hildetand and _Ragnar Lodbrog_; while the more critical
historians of modern times, supported by Icelandic authorities, pass at
once from the one to the other. At this distance, and without the aid of
documents clearer than any that have yet been published, it is
impossible to say which of the lists is the true one: but the
probabilities are in favour of the Icelanders; for, though the kings
enumerated by Saxo may have ruled in some parts of Denmark, they were,
it is believed, rather viceroys than monarchs. By means of local
governors, indeed, the four princes whose names fill this paragraph must
have reigned; their states were too numerous, too extensive, for
personal superintendence, especially when, as was generally the case,
they were absent on foreign expeditions. To the exploits of Ragnar we
have scarcely alluded, even in the Danish portion of the history; the
reason is, that we can see in them little which is consentaneous with
truth,—little which is not a monstrous outrage of probability.[155]

[Sidenote: 794 to 1001.]

On the death of Ragnar, the throne of Sweden fell to one of his sons,
_Biorn I._, surnamed _Jarnasido_. Of him we know little more than that,
in his reign, the first attempts were made to christianise the Swedes.
Biorn was not averse from toleration; and he allowed St. Anscar to
teach, baptize, and preach unmolested. But the good thus effected was
transient: Anscar returned to Germany, to procure from pope and emperor
some amplification of his authority; and, during his absence, the
mission entirely failed. When Anscar paid a second visit to this
kingdom, he found a king named _Olaf_ in possession of the throne. Who
was he? Olaf Trætelia had been dead near two centuries, and Olaf
Skotkonung did not reign until above a century afterwards. Either,
therefore, we have a sad confusion in chronology, or there must have
reigned a king whom modern criticism does not acknowledge. The
probability is, that Olaf was a king of Gothia, who, in the numerous
insurrections of the period, had seized on the royal authority in
Sweden, no less than in the more southern provinces. _Eric I._, the son
of Biorn, is next classed among the Swedish kings; and, after him, _Eric
II._, surnamed _Raefilson_, who was, probably, either a Gothic king, or
an usurper. _Emund_ and _Biorn II._—the one ruler of the Gothlands, the
other of Sweden—next ascended the throne, and were followed by _Eric
III._, the son of Emund; but the reigns of all were short, and they have
left no records for posterity. Indeed, the number of kings during the
ninth century is so considerable, that we are compelled to infer the
existence of separate kingdoms amongst the Goths, while we are unable to
distinguish the two dynasties of kings. _Biorn III._ (923) enjoyed a
long reign; _Eric IV._, surnamed the Victorious (993), one still longer;
and _Eric V._, surnamed _Arsaell_ (1001), closes the list of pagan
kings:—not that he was a pagan; on the contrary, as we shall perceive in
the chapter devoted to the introduction of Christianity into the north,
he died for the new faith. But he had been reared a pagan; at his death
the greater part of the kingdom was pagan; and it was reserved for his
son, Olaf Skotkonung, to render Christianity the established religion of
Sweden and Gothland.[156]

The confusion at this period of Swedish history, viz., from the close of
the eighth to that of the tenth century, is greater than at any former
period. No fewer than sixteen kings are said, by different historians,
to have swayed the Swedish sceptre in little more than two centuries.
The cause of this confusion is very obvious. Not only were the kings of
Gothland, when that province happened to have a separate king,
enumerated with those of the Swedes, but the successors of Olaf Trætelia
were equally confounded with them: in other words, the royal chiefs of
_three_ contemporary states have been classed as kings of the Swedes
only,—as the sovereigns of Upsal. This confusion has rendered it
scarcely possible to distinguish either the royal names of each state,
or the actions attributed to them. We may, however, assert, with
confidence, that Olaf Trætelia, and Ingel (or Ingiald), his son, were
not kings of the Swedes; on the contrary, they were sovereigns of a
state far to the west,—Vermeland and Raumarik.[157] If, as some
historians assert, a king named _Charles_ reigned at this time in
Sweden, his seat could not have been Upsal; it must have been some town
of East or West Gothland. The same may, we think, be asserted of
_Emund_, who reigned in the south, while Biorn reigned at Upsal, or
Birca. But Eric IV., surnamed the _Victorious_, was certainly king of
both the Goths and the Swedes. The successful wars in which he engaged,
and which procured him that epithet, are too obscure to be distinguished
from the chaotic events of this period. _Eric V._, surnamed _Arsaell_,
or the Happy-born, the father of Olaf Skotkonung, was also king of the
two provinces. He embraced Christianity, and was baptized in public at
Upsal, together with many of his nobles. It was, probably, as much for
this reason, as for the extraordinary abundance which Sweden enjoyed in
his time, that he obtained the epithet that posterity has attached to
his name. There is much obscurity over this monarch’s reign. By some
writers he is said to have been so alarmed at the murmurs of his people,
for his abandonment of the old religion, that, to pacify them, he
reverted to it. By others, again, it is asserted that he stedfastly
adhered to the new faith; that he laboured, with some success, to
withdraw his subjects from the errors of idolatry; that he went so far
as to demolish the heathen temples; that at Sigtuna he met with little
opposition; but that, when he ventured to lay hands on the magnificent
temple of Upsal, the people arose and put him to death. To reconcile
these contradictions would be a vain attempt. All that yet remains to be
communicated respecting this, and one or two preceding reigns, may be
found in the chapter devoted to the origin of Christianity in these


                               CHAP. III.


                      ABOUT A.C. 70 TO A.D. 1030.


THAT Norway had its chiefs with the regal title, if not prior to our
Saviour’s birth, many centuries before the fall of the Ynglings in
Sweden, is undoubted. We find allusions to them in Danish and Swedish
history, and in chronicles which, though of a later period, were derived
from sources now lost. The country was full of them. Most of them, as we
have already observed[159], boasted of their descent from an old Finnish
race, which, though half mythologic, had, in primeval times, produced
many chiefs of illustrious name. But of their deeds we have no evidence
beyond the little supplied by the uncertain voice of tradition; and that
little is so exaggerated by fable as to be useless. We will not rescue
their names from oblivion: our narrative must accompany the fates of the
Ynglings from their first settlement in Vermeland in Sweden, to their
conquest of Norway. In regard to the latter country, we shall only
observe that when Olaf Trætelia laid the foundation of a new power, it
had as many reguli as at any former period. To subjugate them in
succession, and to incorporate their petty states into one great
monarchy, was the constant aim of his successors.[160]

[Sidenote: 630 to 640.]

The province of Vermeland, to which Olaf Trætelia retired, and in which
he laid the foundation of a new state, was, as we have before observed,
situated to the north of the Vener Lake. Here the assiduity with which
he and his followers cleared the ground of its forests procured him, at
Upsal, the scornful application of _Trætelia_, or Wood-cutter. But he
despised the ridicule, and persevered. By degrees, many thousands of the
people, whom attachment to the Ynglings, or the hope of greater freedom
in the woods, rendered discontented at Upsal, or Sigtuna, or Birca,
hastened to join him. Some writers assert that he returned for a season
to his capital, and ruled the Swedes as his ancestors had done. But this
statement is unsupported by any ancient authority, and is hostile to
reason. Vermeland might well be confounded with Upland, for both were
and are Swedish provinces. But the very circumstance which should have
fortified him against the power of his enemies occasioned his death. The
number of new comers was so great that the region, which was yet
imperfectly cultivated, was unable to support them; the colony became a
prey to famine, and the visitation was, as usual, ascribed to the king.
According to the religious notions of the Swiar, every public misfortune
was a proof that the gods were offended: but they could not be offended
without a cause; and, as the monarch was the representative of the whole
society, he was held responsible for the calamity. Besides, Olaf was not
very zealous in the observances of religion; he seldom offered
sacrifices; and his blood only could propitiate the deities. By a large
body of his subjects his house was surrounded, set on fire, and consumed
with him,—a meet sacrifice to Odin for an abundant year. This prince
deserved a better fate. His name will be held in remembrance, not only
as the founder of a new kingdom, but as one who laboured with much zeal
for the welfare of his people. By his marriage with Solveig, the
daughter of Halfdan, king of Soleyr, a state lying to the west of
Vermeland, and founded about a century before his own, he left to his
successors a claim on that province.[161]

[Sidenote: 640 to 840.]

Olaf left two sons, Halfdan and Ingiald. The former, on the tragical
death of his father, was with his grandfather in Soleyr, but he was
followed by the Swedes, and demanded from the old king. The latter,
however, having no desire to surrender his grandson to the murderers of
the father, resisted, and a battle ensued, in which he lost his life.
_Halfdan_ was raised to the government of both states, and, with the aid
of both, he subdued Raumarik, a country west of Soleyr. The three formed
a compact and scarcely accessible kingdom, which, when governed by
chiefs of enterprise and policy, could not fail to extend its limits to
the west and north. Like his father, Halfdan studied how to promote the
interest of his new state by a matrimonial alliance. North of Raumarik
lies Hedmark, a small province subject to a king named Eystein. Its
situation was so convenient in respect to Raumarik and Soleyr, that
Halfdan eagerly sought and obtained the hand of Esa, daughter of
Eystein. This union affording him a pretext for interfering in the
affairs of that province, half of it, by force or policy, he soon added
to his other states; and he afterwards subdued a considerable portion of
Westfold, which he claimed in right of Hilda, princess of Westfold, the
wife of his son. He died at Thotnia, one of his new acquisitions; but
his body was carried to Westfold, and there interred. Over Vermeland was
his brother Ingiald; and after the death of this chief the province was
administered by jarls.

[Sidenote: 730 to 840.]

_Eystein_, the son of Halfdan, succeeded to the united crowns of
Raumarik and Westfold. As the latter province was maritime, Eystein
built vessels, and followed the ordinary as well as most honourable
profession of his time,—that of piracy. According to the tradition which
the poet Thiodulf perpetuated, he perished in one of his expeditions. He
had the temerity to disembark on the coast of Varnia,—the king of which
was a great magician,—to lay waste the region bordering on the sea; to
carry to his ships everything upon which he could lay his hands, and to
slaughter the cattle on the sea-shore. Scarcely had he embarked, when
the wizard king arrived. The latter knew how to be avenged. Shaking his
mantle in the air, and blowing from his mouth, another vessel suddenly
appeared close to that of Eystein, and the spar which was used for
distending the sails striking the king, who was sitting at the helm, he
was thrown overboard. The sailors flew to his aid, but could not rescue
him from the waves until the vital spark had fled. _Halfdan II._, the
son of Eystein, is noted for a strange inconsistency in his conduct. To
his followers—and as a piratical chief he had many—he gave, in the shape
of wages, as many golden as other kings gave silver pieces of money; yet
he almost starved them for want of food.[163] The sceptre was now swayed
by _Gudred_, the son of Halfdan, who, from his chief pursuit, was called
the hunter king. He was also called Gudred the Magnificent, probably
from the extent of his dominions, no less than from his wealth. None of
his predecessors understood better the art of profiting by matrimonial
alliances. His first wife was Alfhilda, daughter of the king of Alfheim;
and with her he received, as dowry, a part of Vingulmark. As this
province was bounded on the north by Raumarik, on the west by
Westfold,—both on the southern confines of Norway and Sweden,—it was a
valuable acquisition. On her death, in looking round where his dominions
could be most conveniently extended, the maritime coast of Agder, which
lay to the south of Westfold, and which, like that province, is now a
portion of Christiania, as Raumarik is of Aggerhus, he demanded Asa,
daughter of that king. On the refusal of Harald to bestow the princess
on him,—probably from a knowledge of his ulterior policy,—he equipped a
fleet, sailed to the coast of Agder, disembarked, hastened to the royal
abode, and assailed king Harald, who fell in the battle, together with
the heir of the province. Agder therefore became an easy prey to this
ambitious monarch. But it was his doom to fall by the hand of a
domestic, at the instigation of his second wife, Asa, many years after.
His states were now divided between _Olaf_ and _Halfdan_; the former his
son by Alfhilda, the latter by Asa: the one reigned in the east
(Vermeland), the other in the south. Vermeland, at this time, was
tributary to the Swedish kings; its contiguity, indeed, to Upsal,
rendered it too liable to conquest by the successors of Ivar Torfœus,
Historia Norvegica, tom. i. Vidfadme; and its geographical posture
placed it within the limits of Sweden rather than those of Norway, into
which the dominions of Gudred were now extending. It is to Halfdan, the
son of Gudred, that our narrative must chiefly remain, especially as his
glory was doomed to eclipse that of all his predecessors.[164]

[Sidenote: 840 to 850.]

Such was the state of the kingdom when _Halfdan the Black_, by the
tragical death of his father, became sovereign of one portion. Probably,
however, the superiority over the whole rested with his elder brother,
Olaf. But when his father died he was only a year old; and his brother
Olaf, or his kinsmen, seized the administration of the whole kingdom,
except his maternal inheritance of Agder. His position was, therefore,
not enviable; and no one, at this moment, could have predicted his
future success. To his mother, who, during his minority, undertook the
government of Agder, and who raised him under her own eye, he was
probably indebted for many advantages. On reaching his eighteenth year
he assumed the government of Agder, and hastened into Westfold to demand
from his brother Olaf some portion of his inheritance. It was on this
occasion that the partition of the province took place, probably to the
dissatisfaction of Olaf; but Halfdan had a strong body of troops, and
the provincial states, whose authority was superior to that of the
crown, were not regardless of justice. But other provinces, the
administration of which had been usurped, were yet to be recovered; and
events soon proved that he was likely to sustain the interests of his
house. With the force at his command he hastened to Vingulmark, to claim
the portion of that province formerly held by his father. Though he
encountered resistance enough, he attained his object, namely, one half
of the province. He next marched into Raumarik, which he recovered. This
act brought him into hostility with Sigtrug, king of Hedmark, son of
Eystein, who, like other monarchs of the time, had committed the fatal
error of dividing his states. Halfdan was victorious; and Sigtrug
compelled to flee, wounded by an arrow. Another son of Eystein, who also
ruled in Hedmark, attempted to continue the war; and, during the absence
of Halfdan in Westfold, invaded Raumarik. The latter hastily returned,
defeated this new enemy, and pursued him into Hedmark, which he also
subdued. But the resources of Eystein were not exhausted: twice was he
enabled by his royal allies in the north to remove the warfare; yet he
was twice vanquished. Seeing that there was no hope from hostilities, he
threw himself on the mercy of Halfdan, who, says the historian, granted
to the kinsman what he had refused to the enemy, namely, one half of
Hedmark. Two districts more, bordering on Hedmark,—small in extent, but
convenient for their site,—were soon added by him to his other

[Sidenote: 850.]

Here Halfdan paused in his career of victory, to try what could be
gained by marriage. Sogne lay contiguous to one of his districts; its
king had, fortunately, no son, but a marriageable daughter; and he
obtained her hand. The offspring of this union was a prince, Harald by
name, who, according to the manner of the times, was sent in his boyhood
to be educated at the court of his maternal grandfather. On the death of
that relative, young Harald was hailed as the future sovereign; but the
mother and the prince soon followed him to the tomb, and Halfdan had
only to march to Sogne to take possession of it, as the nearest heir to
all three. At this time the princes who reigned over a portion of
Vingulmark endeavoured to surprise him amidst the darkness of night; and
though they failed in this purpose, they were able, through their
numerical superiority, to defeat him. This check, however, was but
temporary: he soon collected a large force, and was the victor in his
turn. The whole of Vingulmark soon yielded at his summons.[166]

[Sidenote: 852 to 863.]

Halfdan was too regardful of his interests to pass a long widowhood. The
ample province of Ringarik lay immediately west of Westfold. It was
ruled by Sigurd, surnamed _Hiort_, or the Stag, from his addiction to
the chase. Besides a daughter, this prince had a son; but the latter was
yet an infant, and the chances were in favour of the daughter becoming
the sole heiress. The circumstances preceding and attending this second
marriage are illustrative of social manners. Sigurd was of large
proportions, of indomitable bravery, and of great success in duels,
which at the age were so common. In his twelfth year he is said to have
vanquished a noted berserk, and eleven of his fellows, in succession.
But his delight was to ride alone into the most solitary forests and the
scarcely accessible mountains of Norway, to fight with beasts of prey.
One day, as he was wandering in quest of his four-footed enemies on the
confines of Hadaland, he fell in with Hako, a noted berserk, accompanied
by thirty more. A combat followed, which proved fatal to Sigurd; but
twelve of Hako’s company fell before him, and that chief lost a hand and
received some dangerous wounds. He was carried immediately into the
neighbouring kingdom of Ringarik, to the residence of the deceased
Sigurd. According to the manner of the times, he took Ragnilda, the
daughter, and Guthrum, the son, of Sigurd, with an immense prey, and
returned into Hadaland, where he had considerable lands. His dearest
object was to celebrate his marriage with Ragnilda, but the severity of
his wounds rendered some delay unavoidable. His nuptial day was never to
come. Halfdan no sooner heard of this event than he ordered Harek, one
of his chiefs, to fetch the princess to his palace. Accompanied by a
hundred men, Harek hastened to the residence of Hako, approached it
during the silence of night, broke into the place, seized Ragnilda and
her brother, and, setting fire to the house, returned with the
illustrious captives. Hako, indeed, had strength enough to rise and
pursue the fugitives. In vain: before he could reach the lake which lay
in the path, and which, as it was the yule season, was frozen over, they
were far before him. In despair he fell upon his own sword, and was
buried on the margin of the lake. Halfdan was on the other bank; and no
sooner did he perceive the vehicle moving over the distant ice than he
knew his commands had been successfully obeyed. He therefore ordered a
banquet to be prepared, and guests to be invited from every part of his
own country. That very day, in presence of his assembled guests, the
nuptials were celebrated. The issue was the famous Harald, surnamed
_Harfager_, or Fair-haired. We have no wish to record the dreams which,
previous to the birth of the prince, raised the anxiety of the two
parents. Such portents are always invented in regard to men whom fortune
has elevated above their fellows.[167]

[Sidenote: 863.]

Halfdan the Black was, for his age, a superior prince. He made some
laws, and, what is much better, he caused them to be observed. His
legislation, of course, was truly Gothic; that is, crimes were visited
with pecuniary mulcts, varied according to the rank of the culprit and
of the person injured. He was not so fond of his youthful son Harald as
was the mother, Ragnilda; yet the qualities of the boy were such as to
excite the admiration of an heroic age. The death of this king was, in
the superstitious opinion of the times, preceded by a wonderful
circumstance. As he was sitting at table with a multitude of guests, to
celebrate the yule festival, the meats and drinks suddenly disappeared.
The latter, alarmed at the portent, quitted the table, and left the king
alone. What could be the meaning? A Finnish magician was seized, put to
the torture, and commanded to say what the portent indicated. But he
could or would say nothing; and he besought prince Harald to procure his
liberation. Harald applied to the king; but finding him inexorable, he
allowed the poor Finn to escape, and was the companion of his flight. At
this time, Harald was only ten years of age; and he was to see his
father no more. Immediately after this event Halfdan returned, on a
sledge, towards another part of his dominions. In his way was a lake,
which was to be crossed over the ice. But holes had been made in it, for
the cattle to be watered; a thaw had commenced, and the king had not
proceeded far before the ice gave way, and he was engulfed in the cold
abyss; most of his attendants perishing with him. Thus ended the short
but memorable career of Halfdan the Black. His memory was always dear to
Norway; and during his life he was always reverenced as one of the
greatest benefactors of his people. A prodigious crowd arrived to honour
his funeral; but they would not allow the body to be interred in
Raumarik. During his reign the land had been so fertile that he was
believed to be an especial favourite of the gods. Wherever he was, dead
or alive, prosperity was expected; and the warriors from the different
states of his kingdom demanded that he should be buried in their
district. The dispute, we are told, was ended by the division of his
body into four parts, corresponding with the four shires of Raumarik,
Ringarik, Hedmark, and Westfold. The head was buried in Ringarik, the
other members in each of the other districts. Hence, says the historian,
the number of sepulchres which are still called the tombs of

[Sidenote: 863.]

As _Harald Harfager_ was but a child when his father was drowned, the
neighbouring reguli, under the pretext of recovering what their
predecessors had lost, hastened to divide his ample inheritance. One
party invaded Hedmark, a second Westfold, a third advanced towards the
residence of Harald, to make him prisoner. But he had a noble defender
in his uncle, Guthrum[169], whom he made general of his troops, and his
minister. This chief collected troops, and, with the young king, marched
against the invader of Westfold, whom he defeated and left dead in the
field. The place where this great victory was achieved was called
_Hakadal_, or Hako’s Dale, from the name of the chief who fell there.
Another invader of that province, Gandulf, was defeated; but, more
fortunate than Hako, he contrived to escape with life. Seeing the fate
of these two battles, the remaining princes determined not to fight
singly, but in concert; and a meeting was appointed in the rock
mountains of the upland province of Hedmark. But the intention was soon
known to the two heroes; and, proceeding, without loss of time, to the
appointed place, they fell, at midnight, on the outposts of the camp,
while two of the chiefs were sleeping, and in the skirmish which ensued,
sent two other kings to join them in the hall of Odin. The fruits of
this victory were not only the recovery of all which had been invaded,
but the acquisition of several districts to the north and west of his
hereditary possessions. When Gandulf returned to the charge, he was
again defeated, and sent to drink mead, to feed on the grisly boar, and
to fight with the dark shades of Odin’s warrior ghosts: his dominions as
far as the river Raum became the prize of the victor.[170]

[Sidenote: 865 to 868.]

After these unexpected successes, Harald thought that he might aspire to
the favours of any princess in the north. Hearing of the charms of Gyda,
daughter of Eric, jarl or king of Hordaland, he sent messengers to her,
not with the offer of his hand, but of his heart. The reply of the lady,
if any faith is to be reposed in tradition, was unequalled for its
pride. So far from being the mistress, she would not be the wife, of one
whose territory consisted in a few insignificant provinces; she would
never marry any one beneath the dignity of a monarch,—who did not, like
Eric of Sweden, and Gorm of Denmark, hold absolute sway over the whole
country. The answer of the heroine being brought to the king, he admired
her ambition, and vowed to the gods that he would never cut or comb his
hair until he had subdued the whole of Norway—until its revenues and
authority were his: and if he failed in his attempt, the penalty should
be his life. All this is fable: Harald needed not a woman’s advice to
enter on a career which he had long meditated, and which his father had,
probably, meditated before him. He might, however, make the vow. In
pursuance of that vow, which was highly pleasing to Guthrum, he enlisted
all the forces he could, and marched towards the north, through
Godbrandsdalia, having the Dofrafeld mountains on his left. The
inhabitants fled at his approach into the uplands; some into Orkadal,
others into Ganlardal, others into the recesses of the mountains; but
many—perhaps the greater number—preferred his yoke to exile and ruin:
they did homage, and were unmolested. Pursuing his way into Orkadal,
which lay beyond the Dofrafeld chain, in the modern province of
Drontheim, he defeated an army, there assembled to oppose him, received
the homage of the royal general, and annexed Orkadal, as he had done the
intervening regions, to the other dependencies of his crown. Nor must it
be forgotten that he was the great champion of the feudal system.
Wherever he conquered, he abolished the allodial law of inheritance, and
converted all lands into fiefs, to be held from him alone, on the usual
obligations. But he did more: he insisted that all rents should be paid
in kind; that one third of the portion accruing to the crown should be
set apart for the support of the local government. Over each province he
placed a jarl, whose duties were, to defend it against all enemies, to
collect the revenues, to preside over the local administration.
Associated with each jarl were four, at least two, herser or
councillors, whose office was at once military and administrative; and
to each was awarded a benefice of twenty marks in yearly value. In time
of war each jarl was to support sixty, each of the herser twenty, armed
men, at his own expense. So ample were the revenues of each province,
that the jarls were more wealthy and more powerful than many royal
chiefs of the period. Hence the dignity was an object of ambition, and
he who could bestow it did not want applicants for it: in the hope of
obtaining it, most of the nobles hastened to join him whenever he
entered a province.[171]

[Sidenote: 867 to 882.]

From Orkadal Harald transferred his arms to Ganlardal, which is now also
a portion of Drontheim, immediately to the east of the Swedish province
of Jamtland. In this expedition he is said to have been joined by Hako,
a powerful jarl, by whose aid he subdued the whole province, and the
adjoining one of Strinda. In reward for this timely service he placed
Hako over the new conquest, with the dignity and rights of jarl.
Proceeding still to the north, the conqueror subdued Stiordal, Veradal,
Scaunia, and Sparbyggia, all situated in the modern government of
Drontheim. The islands in the west were, at the same time, subjected to
his sway. Still Harald proceeded to the north, and the two kings of
Naumdal submitted, one of them being invested with the dignity of jarl.
Thinking that he had now penetrated far enough into the north, since
there was nothing beyond Naumdal but vast marshes and trackless forests,
scarcely habitable by men[172], Harald returned into Drontheim, where he
resolved to await the return of spring, before pursuing his conquests in
the south. In that province he fixed his abode, and built a town, which
he resolved to make his usual seat of government. There he forgot Gyda,
so far as to marry Asa, the daughter of jarl Hako; but perhaps he was
merely tired of celibacy, and relied on his royal prerogative of
obtaining another wife whenever he pleased. He did not, however, pass
this season in mere indulgence; most of it was spent in constructing new
vessels, and in the discipline of his followers. No one, says the
historian, was allowed to enter his palace, except such as excelled in
bodily strength or courage. To them he committed the building of his
ships, and the command when built. The rewards which he held out to all
champions were so ample that hundreds flocked to his standard. When
spring arrived he had a formidable fleet, and a large army,—large, we
mean, in comparison of those which northern kings usually brought into
the field. The first people were the Möre Fylke, or the maritime
inhabitants immediately south of Drontheim. Here he had to oppose two
kings, and, as usual, victory shone on his banners,—both chiefs being
sent to Odin’s hall. With the two provinces over which they had presided
he adopted the same policy as with those of the east and north; that is,
he subjected them to feudal obligations. They were intrusted as fiefs to
jarl Rognevald, and with them both ships and men to defend the coast no
less than the interior. This Rognevald was celebrated alike for valour
and wisdom, and was the father of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, to
whose exploits we shall advert in a future chapter. The summer and
autumn were passed in consolidating their conquests; the winter was
spent in Drontheim in preparing for new wars; nor did Harald affect to
conceal his intention of subduing Sunmore, a province immediately south
of Raumadal, as Raumadal was south of Nordmore,—both subject to
Rognevald. In one respect this announcement of his views—this manifest
approach to universal empire—was imprudent, since it enabled the king of
Sunmore to form alliances with the neighbouring reguli, whom the same
common danger served to unite. But before the confederation could
acquire much strength, he met and defeated the three chiefs who had
brought their powers to oppose him. Sunmore was the reward of this
victory. The king of the Fiords was next vanquished, and the two
districts added to the two other conquests by jarl Rognevald. Not that
these conquests were obtained without bloodshed. They were sometimes
dearly purchased by the loss of his valiant jarls and bravest followers.
Sometimes, too, the ambition of those chiefs was injurious to the
progress of the royal arms. Thus Hako, the father-in-law of Harald, and
another jarl, contended with each other for the government of Sogne
(Sygna-fylke); and one died in the field; the other received a mortal
wound, and died soon afterwards.[173]

[Sidenote: 882 to 884.]

The success of Harald gave equal umbrage and alarm to Eric, the son of
Emund, king of the Swedes.[174] Taking the field, the latter subdued
Vermeland, and placed over it a jarl, whose jurisdiction should extend
to Swinasund in the south. Nor was he satisfied with this acquisition:
on the contrary, he asserted that he would not lay down his arms until
he had incorporated with his dominions Westfold, Raumarik, and the whole
of southern Norway as far as the ocean,—possessions which he claimed on
the pretext that they had once belonged to his ancestors. This was an
unexpected blow to Harald; but he hoped to arrest its consequences by
negotiation; and for this purpose he solicited an interview with Eric,
in Vermeland. As he had reason, far more than suspicion, that some of
the chiefs in these provinces were in communication with Eric, he
assembled the _Thing_, or provincial assembly, in each, and complained
of the traitors. Some cleared themselves by the ordeal; some redeemed
themselves by the ordinary pecuniary mulct; others were punished in
various ways. From these states he hastened to Vermeland, to the house
of Aki, a vassal of his, celebrated alike for his riches and dignity,
who had readily undertaken to be the host of the two kings. On this
occasion Aki is said to have adopted the strange expedient of lodging
Eric in old apartments, and Harald in new ones; and of making the same
distinction between the plate, the furniture, and drinking horns. The
interview was not satisfactory to Eric, and, perhaps, brought no
advantage to Harald; but the latter was grateful for the hospitality of
Aki, while the former resented the manner in which he had been treated.
Having seen Harald on horseback, and, as if he had a presentiment of his
fate, confided to that king the interests of his son, he next attended
Eric to the neighbouring wood. Being asked by this monarch the reason of
the distinctions which he had made, he replied that he hoped king Eric
had no reason to complain of ill-treatment; that, because Eric was an
elderly and Harald a young man, he had thus acted. This reply did not
lessen the anger of Eric, who reminded Aki that he had once been his
vassal. “I have not forgotten that,” replied Aki, “and I also remember
that thou wast once mine.”[175] The king immediately drew his sword, and
killed the man whose hospitality he had so lately shared. Harald, being
informed of the deed, rode in pursuit of Eric, whom, had he overtaken
him, he would certainly have sacrificed to his vengeance. This
unfortunate circumstance embittered the enmity already subsisting
between the rivals. From year to year hostilities were renewed, chiefly
in Gothland, or the confines of Vermeland; but they were not of
importance enough to recall Harald from the east and centre of Norway,
especially after he had placed his uncle Guthrum as jarl over all the
regions which he held in Sweden.[176]

[Sidenote: 885.]

On his return to Drontheim, where he passed the following winter, Harald
found that the reguli of the provinces were still unconquered; and even
many of the chiefs who lay within his hereditary jurisdiction were
confederating to crush, or, at least, to resist him. It was, indeed, a
formidable confederacy. To crush it, Harald, with his usual celerity,
collected his forces, both maritime and land, and proceeded towards the
south. The armament which he encountered in the bay of Hafursfiord was
very different from those which he had hitherto encountered: here were
more kings, more vassals, more men, among whom were the greatest heroes
of Norway. The fate of that country manifestly depended upon the fate of
the ensuing battle. It was a struggle between monarchy and
aristocracy,—between the sovereign power and a multitude of independent
states,—between an established government and perpetual anarchy,—between
society and domestic piracy. They whose ancestors had for ages been
accustomed to the piratical life, and had considered it their proudest
calling, were eager to fight for what they deemed their privileges. The
struggle was worthy of the occasion; prodigies of valour were performed
on both sides; but, in the end, victory declared for Harald. Long was
this victory celebrated in the north. It was held equal to the most
celebrated in ancient times. It was the subject of several poems, among
which is one by Hornkloft, the Icelandic bard attached to the court of
Harald, whose metrical history was of such service to Snorro, the
compiler of Heimskringla.[177]

[Sidenote: 885.]

After this victory, Norway was unable to resist the conqueror. The
reguli, and jarls, and native chiefs, who refused to submit, were driven
into exile. Some, preferring liberty, or rather an unbridled licence, to
an established government, voluntarily exiled themselves. From this year
may be dated the colonisation, by Norwegian settlers, of the Orkneys,
the Hebrides, the Shetlands, the Feroes, Iceland; the depredations on
the coasts of Great Britain, and Ireland, and Spain; the invasion of
Russia and Normandy by successful hordes of pirates. So great an
emigration might, one would suppose, greatly weaken the physical
resources of Harald; but this does not appear to have been the fact: on
the contrary, he spared numerous families to people the wilds of Jamta,
Helsingia, and other regions more to the north, which, prior to his
time, are said to have been wholly or partially desert. But if Norway
was thus his, he had no idle life. The pirates whom he had banished
infested his coasts, until he, in person, must dislodge them from their
strong holds in the islands of the western ocean. To _their_ and _his_
maritime transactions we shall advert on a future occasion.—Harald,
being now the monarch of Norway, says the Saga, remembered that he had
accomplished his vow, and that his hair might be cut and combed. It was
surely high time, if, as we are told, he had resembled, previously, a
wild beast rather than a man, and had been called Harald _Lufa_, or
“Harald with the Horrid Hair.” When this deformity was removed,—when the
shears and the bath had done their work,—he obtained the epithet of
Harfager, or Fair-hair. And he now remembered the saying of the maiden
who had excited him to all his successes. Sending for her, he made her
the partner of his throne; and by her had a daughter and four sons.—All
this is fabulous, but unequal to what follows, which appears to have
occurred some years before this marriage. One winter, the king hastened
to the uplands to hold the festivities of Yule; and he ordered the
banquet to be prepared in the villa of Thopte. The evening before the
opening of the feast, as he sat at table, a domestic advanced to say
that a Finn, waiting at the door, wished to see him. At this bold
message the anger of the king and the surprise of all present may be
conceived, and an indignant answer was returned. But Swaso was resolute:
he bade Harald be informed that he was the Finn whose hut was on the
other side of the mountain, and whom he had promised to visit. The
monarch went to the door, and immediately said that he would accompany
him to the hut. On their entrance, the daughter of Swaso—a wondrous
beauty—arose, and presented a horn of mead to the royal visitor. It was
a magic drink, designed to make the king amorous, and it had its effect.
He wished to take her as his mistress; but she had too much art for
this; she would be the affianced bride, or nothing. That ceremony was
promptly and easily performed, and the royal wish was gratified. So much
was he captivated with the beautiful Snæfrida, that for years, though he
visited, he forgot his country, capital, his subjects, his throne, his
very existence. Four sons were the issue of this connection,—Sigurd,
Halfdan, Gudred, Rognevald. She then died; but her corpse preserved the
same spotless white as when living. Corruption could not take hold of
it. During three whole years he sat by the corpse, thinking that every
moment life would revisit it; and his subjects deeply bewailed his
infatuation. To dissolve the spell was the work of Thorleif the Wise,
one of his jarls. The corpse was removed from the bed on which it lay,
when suddenly the most offensive odour was emitted by it. It was hastily
borne to the funeral pile: serpents, and lizards, and toads, and every
species of venomous reptile continued to issue from it; yet the king did
not regain his sound mind until the corpse was consumed. Ashamed of his
weakness, he resumed his royal duties, and at once became the pride of
his people. Magic drinks, we need scarcely observe, are of perpetual
occurrence in the annals of the ancient north. Saxo alludes to many; but
none surely was ever so potent as this,—none before or since, in the
wildest dreams of fancy, could preserve the empire of love for three
years after the death of its object.[178]

This fable has been noticed that the reader may be prepared for the
dissensions which soon took place among the sons of Harald. The four
whom Snæfrida had borne him he learned to detest, through hatred of the
mother; and at length he dismissed them from his palace, with the
resolution to see them no more. After some time, however, one of them,
Gudred, went to Hiodulf, the jarl, who was in great power, and besought
him to procure him an interview with the king. Both proceeded to the
royal palace, which they reached late in the evening, and they sat on
the benches outside the doors unknown to everybody. Harald happened to
be walking on the pavement in the court-yard—probably to enjoy the
nightly breeze—and his eyes carelessly wandered over the seats. But the
two strangers attracted his notice, and he asked the elder what had
brought him there? Uncovering his head, Hiodulf was immediately
recognised and welcomed. The veteran now pleaded for the exiled sons. He
observed that if the mother’s race was bad, the father’s was not; and
that the excellency of the one might more than counter-balance the evil
of the other. The king was persuaded; Gudred was received into the
palace; the three brothers were sent into the provinces and occupied in
military exercises, in which they excelled other men.[179]

[Sidenote: 869 to 900.]

The sons of Gyda and Snæfrida were not the only ones born to Harald. By
his numerous wives—and he is said to have had nine at the same time—he
had a numerous progeny, who were destined to trouble his declining
years. By Gyda, as we have before related, he had one daughter, Alofa,
and four sons, Sigtrug, Ruric, Frode, and Thorgils. By Ragnilda, a
princess of Jutland, he had Harald Blodöxe. By Swanhilda, the daughter
of a Norwegian jarl, he had three sons, Olaf, Biorn, and Ragnar. By
Alfhilda, daughter of the jarl of Ringarik, he had three sons and one
daughter, Dag, Ring, Gudred, and Ingigerda. By the Finnish witch he had
the four sons we have just enumerated. By Asa, the first of his
mistresses, the daughter of jarl Hako, he had Guthrum, Halfdan the
Black, Halfdan the White, and Sigfred. That he had other children by his
numerous wives is undoubted. Of these, was Rognevald, and another that
must be particularly mentioned,—Hako the Good, whom, in his old age, a
Norwegian lady, named Thora, bore to him, and who eventually sat on the
throne of Norway. All these, in conformity with the manners of the
times, were educated by their maternal relatives. Few of these children
survived the father. Their ambition was great, their crimes greater; and
as the king descended into the vale of years, he lost all authority over
them. The deaths of many were deservedly tragical. The four sons of the
Finn excelled the rest in wickedness. Incensed that they were not
admitted to a participation in the government, and hating the
experienced jarls, whose advice was so useful to their father, they
burnt Rognevald, the most obnoxious of all, in his own house, together
with sixty of his followers. After this hellish deed—a deed, however, so
common in northern history, as to excite little surprise—Halfdan fled to
the Orkneys, but Gudred remained. The only chastisement which Harald
inflicted on the latter, was to send him into Agder, probably to fill
some honourable post; but Thorer, a son of Rognevald, was raised to the
vacant dignity of jarl of Moria. Soon afterwards, Halfdan, who had
usurped the government of the Orkneys, was taken and put to death by
Einar, the lawful jarl; Harald, at the instigation of Halfdan’s
brothers, sailed to revenge the death of his son; but on reaching these
islands, he accepted a pecuniary mulct, and left Einar in possession of
the government. Guthrum, the eldest of Harald’s sons by Asa, was the
next victim; he was slain in Gothia by the Swedish governor. Halfdan the
White, while absent on a piratical expedition on the eastern coast of
the Baltic, was killed by the inhabitants. But the worst evil that the
king dreaded was their wars with one another. To avert this calamity, on
reaching his fiftieth year, he divided his provinces among them, giving
to each the regal title, yet reserving to himself the supreme title of
monarch. Thus, to Olaf, Biorn, Sigtrug, Frode, and Thorgils, he ceded
Vingulmark, Raumarik, Westfold, and Thelamark; to Dag, Ring, and Ragnar
he resigned Hedmark and Gudbransdal; to the sons of Snæfrida he gave
Ringarik, Hadaland, Thotnia, and the adjacent districts; Ruric and
Godred had extensive domains in the central provinces, and were
generally resident at the court of Harald; Eric had Halogaland,
Nordmore, and Ramsdal; over Drontheim were Halfdan the Black and Sigurd,
and the same dignity had been shared by Halfdan the White. To Thorgils
and Frode he gave a certain number of vessels, with permission to raise
kingdoms for themselves, if they could, in the British islands. They are
said to have conquered Dublin; but both perished fatally,—Frode by
poison, Thorgils by the hands of the natives. Nor did he forget the
offspring of his daughters. While the eldest children of his sons were
for ever to enjoy the regal title, those of his daughters were to
possess the dignity of jarl, and their seat in the assemblies of the
state to be just one step below that of the male descendants.[180]

[Sidenote: 920.]

In the preceding paragraph, we have seen the tragical deaths of five
among the sons of Harald. These were Halfdan, Haleg, Guthrum, Halfdan
the White, Frode, and Thorgils. Others were to be soon added to the
number. Rognevald being accused of magic,—a science which, ever since
his adventure with Snæfrida, Harald held in the utmost abomination,—Eric
Blodöxe, the favourite son of the monarch, was sent into Hadaland, where
Rognevald was then residing. Finding, or, perhaps, pretending to find,
the prince surrounded by eighty wizards,—poor wizards they, not to
foresee their fate!—Eric set fire to the house, and consumed all within.
This deed, which in our days would not be considered a merit, was held
to be a great one in his. But another deed of his was not beheld with
equal favour. Biorn, one of his brothers, who, as king of Westfold,
generally resided at Tunsberg, was equally attached to piracy and
commerce. By his frequent expeditions, he had amassed great riches; and
his liberality, no less than his judicious administration, had won him
the respect of his subjects. On these Eric cast a longing eye; nor was
he less jealous of a brother, who, when his father should be no more,
might dispute his claim to the monarchy,—a claim which he always
advanced, and which his father had sanctioned. With the view of
enveloping the merchant king in his toils, Eric demanded the tribute
which was due to Harald for the kingdom of Westfold. Biorn replied that
he had always delivered it into the hands of his sovereign, either
personally, or through his agents; and that he should not, on this
occasion, deviate from the custom. A dispute arose, and Eric, in great
anger, left Tunsberg. At nightfall Biorn also left it for a marine
residence not far from the city. With a chosen band Eric followed his
steps, and assailed the house as the king sat at table. With all the
domestics whom he could muster, the latter issued from the house, and a
combat followed, which was fatal to many of his attendants, and to
himself. A rich prey was the reward of this fratricide; and Eric,
exulting, returned to his northern kingdom. Seeing the odium in which
the author of this deed, notwithstanding his influence over the now weak
mind of Harald, was held by most of the Norwegians, Halfdan the Black
made an attempt to assassinate the murderer, by setting fire to the
country house in which he slept; but the dormitory was separated from
the main building, and Eric escaped. To revenge this outrage on his
darling son, Harald collected his troops, and marched against Halfdan;
but the intervention of an aged jarl effected a reconciliation. That
reconciliation, however, was not sincere, so far, at least, as Halfdan
and Eric were concerned.[181]

[Sidenote: 910 to 913.]

For the doting attachment of Harald to the most bloody of his sons, no
good reason has been or can be assigned. He was not the oldest son, nor
was his mother, Ragnilda, the most beloved of the royal wives. Yet this
paternal fondness did not screen the royal youth from the dangers of his
profession. As early as his twelfth year, he is said to have become a
piratical chief, and, with the five vessels which he had received from
his father, to have ravaged all the maritime coasts of Europe from
Russia to Ireland. On that of Finland he had, says the legend, a
marvellous adventure, which, as it has been made the foundation of some
tales popular in the middle ages, we shall abridge. While he and his
companions were in the remotest part of that magic region, on the very
borders of the still more wondrous Biarmia, they one day reached a
cottage the mistress of which was a supernatural beauty. She told them
that they were in great danger; that she had two lovers, the most able
magicians of the country, who were also her instructors; that they could
hunt the footsteps of man on snow or ice, with as much instinct as the
blood-hound; that their arrows never missed aim; that they put all
strangers to death; that, when angry, every living thing died beneath
their glance, and the earth itself was affected. As they came daily to
the hut, there seemed no hope of escape until she promised to conceal
them, and to aid them in the destruction of her odious suitors. Having
concealed them, she took a linen bag full of what they conceived to be
ashes, and scattered the contents around the hut, both within and
without. The Finns soon entered, and inquired what strangers had
arrived; and on her replying that she had seen nobody, they expressed no
little surprise: they had traced footsteps in the snow to the very door.
However, they lighted a fire, cooked their provisions, and when
satiated, Gunhilda prepared her own bed. There she lay down, but they
would not. As they were rivals, both passionately in love, and each
afraid that, while he slept, the other might obtain some advantage over
the lady, they resolved to remain awake. During three successive nights
this sleeping on her part, and watching on theirs, continued, until
nature was exhausted. Gunhilda saw her time; she invited both to lie
beside her; they joyfully obeyed her, and she put one arm around the
neck of each. The effect—that of magic (for she had been trained in a
good school), was instantaneous; both fell into a deep sleep, from which
it was impossible to awake them. There she fettered them, and called on
Eric and his companions to despatch them. The deed was easily
perpetrated, and the corpses were cast outside of the hut: but it was
followed by incessant thunder, which, during a whole night, prevented
them from leaving the place. When serenity was restored, all left,
Gunhilda with the rest; and before the day closed, the magic beauty
became the bride of Eric.[182]

[Sidenote: 930 to 934.]

Fate had not yet done its worst on the offspring of the Norwegian
monarch. His son Gudred perished at sea. And when he resigned his
imperial dignity in favour of his beloved Eric, other tragedies might
have been foreseen—if not in his lifetime, immediately after his death.
The elevation of Eric was opposed, among others, by Halfdan the Black,
who, also, assumed the title of monarch. Olaf, brother of the murdered
Biorn, who had succeeded that prince in the government of Westfold, did
the same. In two years Halfdan was removed by poison,—the deed, as was
commonly reported, of Gunhilda. Harald was little moved by these
atrocities. So long as his favourite son enjoyed life and empire, he
cared little for the rest. But his own days were hastening to an end.
When he resigned his sceptre to his son Eric, he was eighty years of
age. In two or three years after that event,—in the year 934, or,
according to others, 936—he paid the debt of nature. The place of his
interment was one of his manors in Drontheim. Near the spot, a
magnificent heathen temple was erected, which was standing in the days
of Snorro.[183]

To dwell on the character of this monarch, after the ample relation
which we have given of his deeds, would be useless. With the exception
of his martial prowess, of his enterprising spirit, of his unwearied
activity, we see little to praise in him. His numerous adulteries—his
feebleness soon after he had passed the meridian of life—his blind
policy—have not often been exceeded. Much praise has been lavished on
him for his extirpation of piracy; but he is entitled to little. So long
as his own shores were not visited by the marauders, he cared not what
depredations were committed on others. His chiefs, his very sons,
followed piracy as a profession, not merely with his sanction, but at
his express command. He has been called the friend of the peasants, or
rather of the humble allodial proprietors; but did not policy make him
so? If they were plundered by those in authority, could they furnish the
new contributions which, as the first of Norway’s feudal sovereigns, he
exacted from them? Then, as to his boasted administration of the laws,
nothing is more certain than their perpetual neglect: after he had
passed his fortieth year, they were inoperative,—despised by his own
sons, evaded by the jarls. Nor, however brilliant his conquests, can he
be called the founder of the Norwegian monarchy. If he destroyed many
tyrants, he replaced them by greater: if he united many independent
states into one empire, by his own deliberate act he broke that empire
into fragments, and restored the anarchy which he had laboured to
destroy. Widely different is his character before and after he had
attained the meridian of life. It seemed as if he were led by some evil
spirit to undo, in the latter period, all that he had done in the
former. But he had no comprehensive views, no sound policy: during the
first half of his life he fought for ambition; during the latter, he was
the tool of his wives, his sons, and his other favourites. On the whole,
we are disposed to consider him as inferior to his father, Halfdan the

[Sidenote: 934 to 936.]

Scarcely was _Eric_, who, from his sanguinary actions, was surnamed the
Bloody Axe (Blodöxe), the nominal sovereign of Norway, when he called on
his brothers to recognise his title, and pay him the tributes which they
had paid to his father. Instead of complying, Olaf and Sigurd exacted
the usual tributes in their respective kingdoms,—an undoubted act of
sovereignty. To chastise their presumption, the indignant Eric equipped
an armament, and hastened to Tunsberg, the seat of their domination: he
was met by the two kings on the declivity of a hill near the city; but,
his forces being much superior in number, they were defeated and slain.
The same fate would have befallen Trygve, the son of Olaf, and Godred
the son of the murdered Biorn,—both nephews of Eric,—had they not
consulted their safety by repairing to the inaccessible fastnesses of
the uplands. The tyrant was now hated more intensely than before, and a
majority of the people began to look for a deliverer of the race of the
Ynglings. But where could one be found, seeing that all Eric’s brothers
had either paid the debt of nature, or perished untimely? There was one
exception to this fate: Hako, the last of Harald’s sons, was still
alive, and in England. From our own historians, no less than from
Snorro, it is evident that friendly relations had always subsisted
between Athelstane of England and Harald, and that presents had passed
between them. One of them was a magnificent sword, which Athelstane sent
to Harald; and Harald, in return, sent a magnificent ship, with his
infant son Hako to be educated in the polite court of the Saxon. This
simple narrative has been much embellished by Snorro. He informs us that
when the ambassador delivered the splendid sword to Harald, and the
monarch had seized the handle, the ambassador exclaimed, “Now art thou
the liege man of our lord the king, in that thou hast received his
sword!”—alluding to the most ordinary symbol of investiture. The proud
Norwegian was exasperated; but, on reflection, he retaliated in a manner
equally ingenious. Causing a magnificent ship to be prepared, he
despatched in it his son Hako, under the care of a trusty chief. On
reaching the court of Athelstane, he entered the palace, and laying the
young child—then about seven years of age—on the knees of the king,
said, “King Harald commands thee to educate his bastard!” The facts are
as we have represented them on the authority of English contemporary
writers,—facts which an ancient chronicler of Norway, Theodric, also
admits. The writers of both countries agree that Athelstane nobly
discharged the duty which he had undertaken. Hako was educated well, was
of course baptized, and taught the truths of Christianity; and in the
English king he found a counsellor, a friend, a father. He was about
fourteen when he heard of Harald’s death, and of his brother Eric’s
accession. The following year brought him so many reports of Eric’s
cruelty, and of the desire of many Norwegians to rid themselves of the
tyrant, that he began to regard the throne as his future inheritance. He
had ambition; but in a virtuous mind, ambition, like every other
feeling, may become an instrument of good. Hako longed to be a king,—not
merely from the desire of power, but from a wish to benefit his
countrymen, especially by diffusing among them the blessings of
Christianity. When, therefore, many emissaries from Norway arrived at
the English court, and besought him to rescue the country from the yoke,
he readily obeyed the call. Being supplied with ships, men, money, by
his generous friend, about two years after his father’s death, he sailed
towards Norway.[184]

[Sidenote: 937 to 946.]

Hako landed at Drontheim, and the inhabitants here assembled in a
_Thing_, or general meeting, when every free-born head of a family, who
had land, was permitted to vote, or at least to sanction, by outward
expressions of applause, the opinions of the chiefs. Though most of them
were friendly to the royal youth, they dreaded the vindictive character
of Eric. But in that meeting the cause of Hako was eloquently advocated
by Sigurd, one of the most powerful jarls. And when Hako himself arose,
so like his father was he, that a murmur of applause ran through the
multitude. When he spoke, all were attentive; when he promised, on the
condition of their making him king, to abolish the oppressive
obligations of feudality, and restore the lands to their ancient
allodial tenure, one universal shout proclaimed him king of Norway. The
report spread through the kingdom that Harald was restored in his son,
but that the son had not the worst quality of his father,—that of
oppressing the people by feudal exactions. The joyful news that the
allodial tenure was to be restored, spread, quick as lightning, over the
country. From Drontheim, Hako proceeded into the uplands, where a Thing
was assembled, and he was received in the same manner. Here he was
joined by many chiefs; among others, by Drygve and Sigurd, on whom he
conferred the regal title, with the government of Westfold to the
latter, and Raumarik with Vingulmark to the former. This condition
accompanied the investiture,—that half of their revenues should be paid
into the treasury of Hako, the other half be retained by themselves.
Those revenues, it was manifest, would be much less than they had been
while every estate was a fief belonging to the crown: allodial property
has always been lightly taxed. Hako now returned to Drontheim, to raise
troops and prepare ships for a contest with his brother Eric, who was
then in the province of Vikia. The case of the latter was evidently
hopeless; though he called the people to his aid, few obeyed him; and
the men who were with him at the time of Hako’s embarkation, left him,
one by one, to swell the ranks of his rival. He had no hope of security,
but in flight; and he repaired to the Orkneys. There collecting all the
ships and all the men he could, he proceeded to the south, ravaging the
Scottish coast as he passed along, until he arrived in Northumbria. This
province had never been well affected to the Anglo-Saxon yoke, which,
indeed, was a very recent one. It had been held for some time by Danish
chiefs; half its population was Danish or Norwegian; and it had been the
prey of the sea kings from the eighth to the tenth century. Athelstane
thought that if Eric would become his vassal, embrace Christianity, and
defend Northumbria against the pirates of the north, he would be a far
more useful subject than any of the Saxon thanes. A messenger from the
English king met the exiled monarch: the proposals of the former were
eagerly embraced; Eric and his whole family were baptized; homage was
done for the province; and York was chosen as the seat of the new
government. But on the part of Athelstane this was an impolitic step.
From common report he must surely have known something of Eric’s
character,—that neither peace nor obedience could be expected from a
turbulent, ambitious, cruel, and ungrateful man. During the reign of
Athelstane, indeed, he committed no depredations on the English coast,
but he ravaged those of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, without
intermission. The fame which he acquired in these expeditions brought
many Norwegians, many Swedes, many Danes to his standard. During the
reign of Edmund the Elder, he appears to have been absent from
Northumbria; and so he was during the first year of Edred’s reign. He
then returned, and laid waste the English coast. Edred marched against
him, and compelled the Northumbrians to do homage to him instead of
Eric. The latter collected new forces, and again contended for the
kingdom; but he contended in vain; he was signally defeated, and, if
Snorro be correct, slain on the battle field. But Matthew of Westminster
asserts that, after his defeat, he was betrayed by one of his chiefs,
and slain in the wilds of Yorkshire. However this be, from this time
Northumbria became an English province: Eric, as the chronicler of
Mailros observes, was its last king. The widow and sons of this exile
being driven from Northumbria, took refuge in the Orkneys and Shetlands,
where the latter resumed their piratical depredations wherever prey was
to be found. Subsequently, as we shall perceive, they were entertained
at the court of the Danish king. The character of Eric of the Bloody Axe
needs no comment. He was a favourite with all pirates, and, for this
very reason, with Odin himself.[185]

[Sidenote: 939 to 940.]

By the departure of Eric, _Hako_ was the sole monarch of Norway, though,
as we have before related, he imprudently left the regal title to two
princes of his family. His first hostilities were against the Danes, who
infested his dominions, but whom he pursued into Jutland, and defeated a
second time. But they came from Zealand and other islands of Denmark;
and in Zealand he sought and extirpated them. Those of Gothland were
next chastised by him. Harald Blaatand, the Danish king, offended with
the presumption of Hako in thus entering his bays and destroying the
vessels of his people, threatened revenge. To annoy his brother
sovereign and fellow Christian, he received, with much ceremony,
Gunhilda, the widow of Eric Blodöxe, and her children, and furnished
them with ample means of support. The sons of Eric had been taught the
profession of piracy; and on their settlement in Denmark, they built
vessels, and committed frequent depredations on Vikia, one of the
southern provinces of Norway. In return, the chiefs of Hako, especially
king Trygve, desolated the coasts of Denmark. The Norwegian monarch was
no less a warrior than his pagan ancestors; but though he thus violated
the spirit, he was not insensible to the forms, of Christianity. One of
his objects, as we have before observed, in striving for the Norwegian
throne, was the diffusion of the Christian religion. He did not,
however, for some years, openly interfere with that of his subjects. He
had need of their aid; and he had no wish to estrange them by an
ostentatious display of his own worship. For some years, therefore, he
worshipped in silence. By degrees he drew his friends, his courtiers, to
embrace the new faith. He next extended his favour to all who consented
to be baptized. The number of converts increasing, he thought that he
might now act more openly: he accordingly sent to England for a bishop
and priests to become the harbingers of the new faith throughout Norway.
On their arrival, he destroyed some of the heathen temples in Drontheim
and the neighbouring districts. Many of the pagans showed a
philosophical indifference to both religions: some, south of Drontheim,
would do what the people of that city should do themselves; the majority
were anxious to be guided by the decrees of a Thing. An assembly was
therefore convoked in Drontheim; but the members being alarmed at the
magnitude of the change proposed by the king, devolved the decision on a
more general one, which should be convoked at Froste. It was evident
that the zeal of Hako was impelling him too rapidly in the career of

Amidst these transactions, Snorro gives us some interesting facts
respecting the religious customs of the Northmen. When the public
sacrifices were to be offered,—which, as we have before related, was
obligatory three times in the year[187],—the whole of the neighbouring
population hastened to the nearest temple, bearing provisions and mead.
On these occasions, cattle of all kinds, and numerous horses, were
sacrificed. The blood of the victims was called _klot_; the basins in
which the blood was received, _klot-bollar_; and _klotteinar_ were the
names of the instruments with which the blood was sprinkled over the
altars, the pedestals, the walls of the temple within and without, the
assembled multitude, and the provisions which were about to be eaten. In
the centre of the temple was an open space where the fires were burning;
and over them were suspended the cauldrons and pots destined to cook the
sacrificial meats. The entertainment which followed was under the care
of the sovereign; and it was his duty to consecrate the meats and cups
before they were used by the people. The first cup was emptied to Odin
for victory and prosperity in war; the second, to Niord and Freyr, for
an abundant season and for peace; and when these were drunk, it was
customary, in many places, to pour a libation from an overflowing horn,
in memory of deceased heroes and kings. Then horns were emptied in
memory of inferior personages,—of relatives and friends,—and these were
called the _minne_, or smaller cups. To these sacrifices, and to the
pagan rites in general, jarl Sigurd, who had done so much to procure the
election of Hako, was much addicted. He was as zealous, says the
historian, as Harald Harfager had ever been. And he was exceedingly
liberal: in the absence of the king, when it was his duty to consecrate
the food and drink, he often bore the whole of the expense,—no slight
one, where so many hundreds of cattle had to be sacrificed, and so many
thousands of people entertained. Hence his fame was much diffused; and
as he was Hako’s uncle by the mother’s side, he had considerable weight
in the royal councils.[188]

[Sidenote: 941.]

On the day appointed, the national Thing was assembled; and Hako, after
proposing a body of laws which were readily adopted, and to which we
shall advert in a future chapter[189], openly adverted to the
all-important subject. He besought the whole multitude, rich and poor,
noble and serf, young and old, the happy and the wretched, to embrace
Christianity,—to acknowledge one only God, and Jesus, the son of Mary,
as his son and equal. He implored them to abandon the rites of
heathenism,—to refrain from labour every seventh day, and observe it as
a festival,—and to fast another day in the seven. At these words a
murmur went through the multitude,—all freemen, be it remembered, all
proprietors of slaves, all landowners. Were two days out of the seven to
be thus lost?—for who could work on a _fast_-day? If this novelty were
adopted, assuredly the ground could not be cultivated, nor could there
be a sufficiency of food for the people. A rich and popular landowner of
Gaulandal, the oracle of the assembled multitude, then arose. “When
thou, O king, wast first elected by us in the public assembly of
Drontheim, and didst restore to us the lands of our forefathers, we all
thought that the highest happiness was to be our lot. But now we are in
the greatest uncertainty whether thou hast really made us free, or art
preparing for us a new slavery, by this strange proposal that we should
abandon the religion of all our fathers—men far more excellent than we—a
religion which has always been advantageous to Norway. Through the great
love which we bore thee, we conferred on thee the privilege of
introducing new laws. The code of laws which thou hast this day
proposed, and which we have promised to maintain, we shall all of us
inviolably maintain. All of us will follow thee as our leader, and
honour thee as our king,—while any one of us shall live,—so that thou
wilt proceed moderately, and ask not from our love what we cannot
lawfully grant. But if, as now seems to be the case, thou not only
requirest this change from us, but art preparing to force our
inclinations to it, know that we have all determined to abandon thee,
and to choose another king, under whose sway we may be permitted to
observe a religion so dear to our hearts.” The good sense of this reply
might have been despised by Hako; but the menace was to be regarded,
when it was received with applause by the assembled multitude. This was
a critical moment, and Sigurd, whose authority, alike from his dignity
and character, was so great, now came forward. As soon as the tumult had
subsided, he assured them that the king wished what they wished, and
that the good understanding between them would never be destroyed. The
people replied,—“Then let king Hako do as his father did,—offer
sacrifices to the gods for abundance and peace!” When the assembly was
dissolved, Sigurd besought the king to reserve his intention of
proselyting for more suitable times, and, above all, not to incense
nobles and people by refusing some show of compliance with what all had

[Sidenote: 942 to 956.]

The proceedings which we are now relating doubtless occupied many years,
though, by most historians, they have been crowded into three or four.
We are told that the above assembly, in which the laws of Hako were
passed, was held in 941; and we know that, in 956, he was still
labouring for the introduction of the new faith. Hako, though he saw the
prudence of complying with Sigurd’s advice, was loth to follow it;
probably he hoped to discover some way of evading even the slightest
homage to the old faith. At the sacrificial time, however, he was
compelled to go to the temple; nor could he avoid sitting on the throne,
as president of the ceremonies. The office of high-priest was performed
by Sigurd, who, after filling the cup, delivered it to the king for
consecration to Odin. As Hako received it, he drew upon it the sign of
the cross,—a thing never seen before, and highly disagreeable to all
present. “How is this?” cried a chief; “does the king refuse to
consecrate, and sacrifice to the gods?” A tumult arose; but it was
allayed by the philosophic Sigurd, who observed that Hako had
consecrated to Thor, by making on the cup the sign of that deity’s
mallet. The following day he was present at the festival. The people
insisted that he should taste of the horse-flesh,—he refused; that he
should drink from the consecrated cup,—still he refused; that, at least,
he should taste the gravy which flowed from the roasted meats,—he
hesitated. The temple was in an uproar; and violent hands were about to
be laid on him, when Sigurd interfered, and said that the king would do
what was amply sufficient to satisfy the gods,—he would hold his head
over the caldron, the handle of which he would touch with his lips, and
inhale the fumes arising from it. Accordingly, the monarch approached
the caldron, and was observed to cover the handle with linen before the
application of his lips; he then inhaled the odour, and returned to his
seat gloomy and discontented, but not more so than many of the
spectators. The following year, when the yule festival, the most
important of all, was to be celebrated, and the people of Drontheim were
assembled together, with eight of the princely pontiffs, Hako could not
avoid attending. These had agreed, not only that they would pluck up by
the roots what little Christianity had yet been planted in Norway, but
that they would force the monarch to sacrifice with them. In conformity
with this resolution, they had destroyed three Christian churches, and
killed three priests. On the first day of the sacrifices, which were
celebrated in the great temple of Moria, Hako was peremptorily required
to join in the rites. By the authority of Sigurd, the demand was so far
modified that, if he would eat of the horse-flesh, and consecrate all
the horns presented to him, he would satisfy the audience. He did so;
nor did he, as before, make the hated sign of the cross, in offering the
mead to the gods. This was guilty condescension, and he felt it: he
felt, too, that he had done wrong to be present; and his anger was
excited against both Sigurd and the whole pagan population of Drontheim.
He vowed to be revenged,—to fall on the inhabitants with an armed force,
as soon as spring appeared.[191]

[Sidenote: 956 to 958.]

When Hako was preparing to put his menace into execution, intelligence
reached him that the sons of his brother Eric had descended on the coast
of Vikia, defeated king Trygve, and were laying waste the whole
province, which they were likely to subdue. To oppose the common enemy
was now his object, and that of his chiefs. Even the eight pontiffs, who
had been so deeply offended with his contempt of their religion, joined
him: they preferred the yoke of a mild Christian to that of cruel
pagans, as the sons of Eric were known to be. All hastened to the
southern coast, disembarked, and joined in the battle. It was hardly
contested; but, in the end, victory declared for Hako: with Guthrum, the
eldest of those princes, he fought hand to hand, and killed his
antagonist. Many fell; the rest hastened to their ships, and took refuge
in Denmark, where they were sure of a favourable reception from Harald
Blaatand. They were pursued, indeed, by the victor; but they had the
advantage in celerity. In consequence of this invasion, which would,
probably, be repeated, Hako revived an ancient law for the protection of
his coasts,—a law once general in the north, and adopted by our Saxon
kings. It divided the kingdom into maritime districts, each extending
from the sea-shore as far as the rivers could boast of salmon; and each
compelled to furnish a certain number of vessels and men in proportion
to its extent. In each district, these ships were always to be so far
ready, that, when an enemy appeared within sight, they should, before he
could reach the coast, be prepared to receive him. That the alarm might
be communicated from one district to another, huge trunks of trees were
placed on the summits of the mountains, and formed into piles, so as to
be converted into huge watch-fires whenever the occasion demanded. They
extended from the extreme angle of the south, to the remotest elevation
of the north. Yet these wise precautions were of no avail when the sons
of Eric, at the head of a powerful Danish armament, and of such
piratical vessels as they had been able to engage, next appeared off the
southern coast. The watch-fires were not lighted; and the progress of
the hostile fleet was unknown to the king until it was near at hand. The
cause of this negligence is very imperfectly explained. Snorro says that
the signal fires were always to begin in the east,—as if pirates could
not land in the west or north!—and run in a line to the extreme south,
then northwards, to the extremity of Norway. He adds that, as the
watchmen who should give a false alarm would be severely punished, they
were loth to light these beacons until they were sure of an enemy’s
presence. Probably the ships stood out too far from the coast to be
descried by the naked eye; perhaps some of the pagan sentinels were more
inclined to the restoration of Eric’s sons than to the sway of a
Christian prince; perhaps, too, there was bribery. Great was the
astonishment, greater still the dread, of king and people, when the
armament anchored in Ulfasund. Both were unprepared; and the first idea
of Hako was to retire into the north until he could be joined by vessels
and men sufficient to resist the invaders: but one of his officers, who
had often fought with king Harald, dissuaded him from this prudent step.
The king’s father, he observed, had never considered the number of the
enemy; he had fought with many and with few, yet, on all occasions, had
won the battle. This was imprudent advice; for though, in the present
case, Hako, being unexpectedly joined by a considerable force, defeated
the enemy, and slew one of Eric’s sons, the adventure was a rash one,
was purchased with much loss, and might have ended fatally. That similar
negligence did lead to a fatal result, will soon be apparent to the

[Sidenote: 958 to 963.]

That, on two successive occasions, the same negligence should be shown
by the watchmen, and the same imprudent advice followed by the king, may
induce, in the reader’s mind, a suspicion that Snorro has confounded the
two. Hako was quietly seated at table, in one of his manor houses in the
little island of Stord, off the coast of Hardaland, when a domestic
entered to say that many vessels, which had a suspicious look, were in
sight. The king and his guests, rushing out of the house, were satisfied
that a hostile armament was actually approaching. It was led by Harald,
who, since the death of his brother, was the eldest of Eric’s surviving
sons. Hako, and the chiefs who happened to be with him, hastily
collected all the men in the neighbourhood and advanced to repel the
invaders. The battle engaged, and was, as before, desperately disputed.
Hako performed his duty nobly: two champions of the enemy were soon laid
at his feet; and the pirates were again put to flight, but not until
Hako had received a mortal wound. He was carried on board a vessel,
because he wished to be taken to one of his manors in the north; but the
blood, which no art could stop, flowed so plentifully, that his cure was
not expected. On reaching the manor he loved,—that in which he had been
born,—he called his friends around him, and acquainted them with his
last wishes. As he had only a daughter, Thora, he declared the sons of
Eric his heirs; and despatched a messenger, both to acquaint them with
this news, and to request that they would be merciful to his
adherents,—to all, especially, who were bound to him by the ties of
consanguinity. “Should my life be spared,” he added, “I will leave my
throne and country, embrace the monastic life, and endeavour to atone
for my numerous offences against God. If, as I feel, I shall die among
pagans, bury me in whatever manner you please.” Soon afterwards, he
breathed his last.[193]

From the tranquillity which Hako enjoyed in regard to his subjects
during the last years of his life, we may infer that he had abandoned
the hope of converting his people. It has been affirmed that he became
at least half a pagan. This statement is abundantly confirmed by his
dying words; by the fact that he was buried according to heathen rites;
and by the universal belief that his soul ascended to the hall of Odin.
On this subject we have the confirmation of a pagan bard, who describes
the joy of the warrior god and his chiefs at the arrival of the
Norwegian monarch.[194] It was, probably, as much for his religious
indifference in the last years of his life, as from any other reason,
that he was thus honoured. Yet all Norway bewailed him; whatever his
faith, his virtues could not be mistaken; and the epithet which he so
well deserved—that of Hako the Good—rendered his memory dear to his
country. During his reign it enjoyed extraordinary abundance; robberies
and violence were suppressed; the laws which he found in use he caused
to be administered with vigour; and the new ones which he promulgated,
and to which we shall advert in the proper place,[195] show that he was
far superior to his predecessors in his care of the internal

[Sidenote: 963 to 969.]

_Harald_, surnamed _Graefeld_ or Grey-mantle, the eldest son of Eric and
Gunhilda, was now declared monarch of Norway. But the title had in it
more of pomp than of real power. In the first place, his two brothers
had also the regal title, and were placed over the central provinces of
Norway. Then the eastern provinces were subject to the kings whom Hako
the Good had placed over them; namely, Trygve, the son of Olaf; and
Gudred, the son of Biorn. Nor was this all; for so popular was jarl
Sigurd with the inhabitants of Drontheim, that they awarded him the
privileges, though not the title, of king. Here, then, were five chiefs
invested with the regal functions, and independent of one another; and,
with the exception of occasional tributes, of Harald himself. This
division of power could not be pleasing to Harald, who hoped one day to
unite the scattered fragments of the monarchy; but for some time he was
compelled to act with great caution. He acknowledged the authority of
the three kings who were not his brothers, on the condition of their
holding from him as they had formerly held from Hako the Good. But if
even he had been sincere in these steps, the ambition of his mother, who
shared in the councils of all her sons, would have led him to retrace
it. She often represented to them that they had the title but not the
power of kings; that if Trygve and Olaf enjoyed their kingdoms by
hereditary claim, surely Sigurd, who was only a jarl, had none, and that
to remove him would be an act of good policy. Harald replied that to
remove so popular a chief “was not quite so easy as to kill a calf or a
kid.” There were other ways, she rejoined, of effecting this object,
than by open force. Sigurd had a brother who had not been raised to
either wealth or consideration,—probably because he was unworthy of
either,—and he was easily induced, by the promises of the king and of
Gunhilda, to enter into a plot against the life of Sigurd. To throw the
intended victim off his guard, extraordinary professions of friendship
and splendid presents were transmitted to him by Harald. His motions
were closely watched; and one night, while at one of his rural manors,
with fewer attendants than ordinary, he perished in the flames of his
own house. But the royal assassins reaped no advantage from this crime;
for the inhabitants of Drontheim elected Hako, son of the deceased jarl,
to the vacant dignity; and Harald, himself, was compelled to sanction
the election. To fortify himself against the vengeance of the reigning
family, Hako entered into a secret alliance with the two kings of the
south, Trygve and Gudred. It did not escape the penetration of Gunhilda,
who again entered into a secret conclave with her sons. The result was
soon apparent. The royal brothers proclaimed their intention of
undertaking a piratical cruise in the Baltic; and for this purpose,
hastening towards the southern boundary of Norway, one of them invited
king Trygve to join him. The latter accepted the proposal; but in
hastening to an interview appointed by one of the brothers, he and
twelve of his companions fell beneath the hands of a much superior band.
While this deed was perpetrating, Harald, himself, disembarked; and
hearing that Gudred was holding a feast at a house not far from the
city, he hastened thither, surrounded the house, and destroyed both
Gudred and his companions. The fruit of both deeds was the annexation of
these provinces to the domains of the sons of Eric. But their vengeance
was not complete; for Harald, surnamed Grenske, the son of Gudred,
escaped first to the uplands, and when his life was not safe there, into
Sweden, where he became a famous pirate.[197]

[Sidenote: 969 to 977.]

No sooner were these crimes perpetrated, than the sons of Eric proceeded
towards the north, with the avowed purpose of destroying Hako. Knowing
the inferiority of his numbers, he betook himself to the piratical life,
but not until he had devastated the central provinces subject to the
sons of Eric. After his departure Drontheim submitted to them; but small
was the advantage which they derived from this event. The next summer
Hako returned; and though he was frequently absent on piratical
expeditions into the Baltic, in winter he always commanded at Drontheim.
Many were his conflicts with the forces of Harald; and, though sometimes
defeated, he had always a sure resource either in the support of the
inhabitants of Drontheim, or in his own ships. The sons of Eric were not
popular: one of them, soon after the departure of Hako, dishonoured the
bed of a noble chief, and was killed for the crime. Throughout the
annals of this bloody period, we perceive the hand of retributive
justice: the man who had exercised violence became its victim. Thus the
treacherous brother of Sigurd, the man who had betrayed that respected
chief into the hands of his murderers, was slain in battle by the hands
of Hako his nephew. Thus died Erling, another of Eric’s sons. He was
followed by his lustful brother: the inhabitants of Drontheim, which
during one of the frequent expeditions of Hako he had seized, being
unable to support his rapacity, rose against him, and sacrificed him to
their just resentment. The fate of Harald, himself, was not distant.
Though, by the destruction of two kings, the expulsion of Hako, and the
death of most of his brothers, he was, nominally, monarch of Norway, he
was unpopular. Nor was the absent Hako negligent in creating him many
troubles from without. On Norway, ever since the days of Ragnar Lodbrog,
the Danish kings had cast a longing eye; they considered it, no less
than Sweden, as a portion of their vast inheritance; and Hako had little
difficulty in persuading Harald Blaatand to aspire to the throne of that
kingdom. As the equipment of a naval force would be expensive, and might
be useless, it was resolved to entice Harald of Norway into Jutland,
under the pretext of doing homage to Blaatand for the fiefs which he had
formerly possessed in Denmark, and which were now to be restored to him.
Harald, credulous enough to believe the invitation sincere, repaired to
Jutland, and was soon compelled to fight with the superior numbers of a
chief who had been secretly instigated to assail him. In that battle he
fell, fifteen years after the death of Hako the Good, and thirteen from
that of jarl Sigurd.[198]

[Sidenote: 977 to 978.]

After this event, Hako and the Danish king, who knew the advantages
which they expected could be gained only by celerity, sailed with a
powerful armament for Norway. Many were the exiles who accompanied them,
and whom the cruelty of Gunhilda and her sons had forced to abandon
their homes. Among them was Harald Grenske, the son of king Gudred who
had been so treacherously slain by the Norwegian brothers. On reaching
Tunsberg, the Danish king was joined by multitudes of the inhabitants,
of whom all were dissatisfied with the sons of Eric. The first care of
Harald was to reward his counsellor and friend, Hako, whom he placed
over seven provinces in the west and centre of the kingdom, all to be
held feudally, as they had been held by the jarls of Harald Harfager.
There was, however, this distinction in favour of Hako, that if the
necessities of the public service should require it,—if, for instance,
the territory should be invaded by an enemy,—he was at liberty to employ
all its revenues for its defence. Harald Grenske, being of the royal
blood of Norway, then eighteen years of age, received the title of king,
and with it Westfold, Vingulmark, and part of Ayder. The rest of the
kingdom was confided to Sweyn, son of the Danish monarch, as the viceroy
of his father, who was hailed as the lord paramount of the whole.
Gunhilda, with her two surviving sons, fled to the Orkneys, and Harald
of Denmark retired to his own capital.[199]

[Sidenote: 978 to 988.]

In his very dreams Hako could scarcely have anticipated the prosperity
which was now his lot. His father had been only the jarl of Drontheim;
his own life had been perpetually hunted by the sons of Eric; he had
been an exile for many years; yet he was now the ruler of seven
provinces, not removeable at the pleasure of the Danish monarch, except
by open force. But he was not, says the historian, happy. His nights
were often sleepless; and when he did sleep, his dreams were disturbed.
It was not remorse which thus rendered him anxious; it was ambition.
That he aspired to the sovereignty of all Norway, may, from the time of
Harald’s departure, be inferred from every action. But many were his
opponents or rivals, whom he hoped time or chance, intrigue or
revolution, would remove. The first who troubled him in his government
was Ragenfrid, one of the surviving sons of Eric. From the Orkneys, this
chief, with a considerable fleet, sailed for Norway. Hearing that Hako
was at Drontheim, he landed in the southern provinces, and spread his
devastations on every side. On the approach of the jarl he hastened to
his ships; in a naval action he was victorious; but as he was unable to
contend with Hako on land, he proceeded to ravage the coast wherever it
was inadequately defended; and in a short time he seized Sogne,
Hardaland, Fiord, and some other districts. The following spring, jarl
Hako, having collected troops on every side, renewed the war. This time
fortune did not desert him: he vanquished Ragenfrid, whom he also
expelled from Norway. His next wish was to remove Harald Grenske; but he
was wily enough to wait for time and circumstances. The same time and
circumstances, he trusted, would release him from all dependence on the
Danish court. At first he forwarded the stipulated revenues to Harald;
but he soon sent a portion only, or withheld them entirely, on the plea
that the defence of the country required them all. But he had no wish
prematurely to offend that monarch; and when required to assist in the
war against the emperor Otho, he served personally in the war. The issue
was not prosperous: Harald, as we have before related, was compelled to
receive baptism, and Hako to follow the example. But he was still a
pagan; and he resolved that the missionaries, with whom he was to return
into Norway, should never see that country. He therefore landed them on
the Swedish coast, and after wasting Gothbed with fire and sword,
proceeded to his favourite Drontheim. There, and wherever he had the
power, he restored paganism to its ancient splendour; nor would he
tolerate Christianity. This conduct was offensive to Harald; but that
monarch had other wrongs to avenge. The jarl not only refused the
accustomed tribute and proclaimed his independence, but ravaged the
coasts of Jutland. Harald retaliated on those of Norway. His purpose was
to subdue Iceland, with the sarcastic poets of which he was offended;
but he had more solid reasons for the conquest than those assigned by
the chronicler. That island, like the Orkneys, was the resort of pirates
whenever they were defeated in Scandinavia. His desire to explore the
state of Iceland before he invaded it has given rise to a legend which
may be mentioned for its novelty. He persuaded a wizard—no doubt a
Finn—to change his form, and repair to that island. No form seemed so
judicious as that of a large fish; and under it the magician made the
voyage, without the incumbrance of ships or men. But his ingenuity
availed him little. On attempting to land at the first bay, a huge
dragon forced him to seek the deep. At another, a large bird equally
opposed his landing. If the east and north of the island were thus
guarded, surely the west coast, which was then, as now, wholly
unfrequented, would be more accessible. The hope was vain; a fierce bull
advanced into the water to meet him. Nor was the southern coast more
hospitable: as he attempted to land he perceived a huge giant, whose
head was higher than the hills, and whose hand was graced with a
ponderous bar of iron. To attempt the conquest of a region guarded by
local deities, or by extraordinary magic, was hopeless; and the baffled
Finn returned to Denmark.[200]

[Sidenote: 900 to 993.]

So long as Harald lived, Hako appears to have remained undisturbed; but,
after the accession of Sweyn, a powerful fleet sailed from Denmark to
chastise his rebellion. Yet it entirely failed; patriotism roused the
Norwegians to unite, and repel the invaders. As yet, too, Hako had shown
few proofs of that unbridled licence which distinguished him in the
following years. He had many great qualities; he was active,
enterprising, brave in a degree seldom equalled, even in an age of
heroes. Great was his triumph over the formidable Sweyn; and he had no
longer a rival, except in Harald Grenske: nor did this king long thwart
his views. The way in which Grenske met his fate has in it much of
romance, yet is in no respect contrary to probability, or inconsistent
with the manners of the times. In a piratical expedition to the Baltic,
he landed on the Swedish coast, of which kingdom Olaf, son of Eric the
Victorious, was the head. In his youth Harald had been reared in Sweden;
and his foster-sister was Sigfrida, mother of the king. Hearing that
Harald was on the coast, not far from her manor, she sent him an
invitation to visit her, and he readily accepted it. Never was
hospitality more open or more agreeable. The widowed queen, who sat on a
throne to honour Harald and his chiefs, presided over a sumptuous
entertainment; and, after it, she encouraged the circulation of the
horn, not merely by her invitation, but by her example. “All drank
manfully,” says the historian, which means deeply enough. But neither
the lady nor Harald indulged so much as the rest; and when the latter
was laid in the magnificent bed which had been prepared for him, the
queen entered his apartment, horn in hand, and challenged him to drink
more. At length both were intoxicated, until Harald was overpowered by
sleep, when Sigfrida went to her own couch. The next day the
entertainment was renewed; but this time both hostess and guest were
moderate. Love had entered the heart of Harald, but he durst not declare
it; and after some time he took his leave, and returned to Norway. But
he could not rest; and when spring came, he revisited the Baltic.
Affection had made him timid; he durst not, unbidden, go to the house of
Sigfrida, and he requested an interview on the sea-coast. She rode to
the place, and Harald, dismissing his attendants, mentioned his passion.
It found no response in her heart. He had, she observed, a good wife
already. The king rejoined, that Asta, his queen, was no fit match for
him; that she was much inferior in birth. “That may be true,” replied
Sigfrida, who was believed to possess some knowledge of futurity; “but
at this very moment she is pregnant of a son, who will be a great honour
to you both.” She then departed as she had arrived, on horseback,
leaving Harald in much despondency. Unable to desist from his hopeless
suit, he again repaired to her palace, and found another royal suitor.
As before, the entertainment was good; but, in the ensuing night, both
kings were destroyed by their hostess. The fleet returned to Asta
without its leader. She immediately repaired to her father’s house in
the uplands, and gave birth to a son, whom she named Olaf, destined to
become the sainted king of Norway.[201]

[Sidenote: 993 to 995.]

Hako, now the sole ruler of all Norway, was, like many other princes,
unable to resist prosperity. The love which his people—at least, the
inhabitants of Drontheim—had long borne him, had changed into hatred, by
the licentiousness of his conduct in his declining years. The daughters
of his noblest chiefs he forcibly brought to his palace, and, after a
few days, returned them to their families. Murmurs arose; but they were
disregarded by the hoary idolater, who thought his power too well
established to be shaken. But he was at length roused from this dream of
security, by the report that there was a descendant of fair-haired
Harald, unequalled for valour, who probably aspired to the throne of his
ancestors. This was Olaf, the son of Trygve, whose adventures are the
most romantic in the history of the North.[202]

[Sidenote: 969 to 970.]

On the death of Trygve, Astridda, his widow, who was then pregnant,
fearing the vengeance of Gunhilda and her sons, fled to an island in the
solitary lake of the uplands, where, in 969, she brought forth a son,
whom she named Olaf, after his grandfather of that name. There she
remained the whole summer, accompanied only by her foster-father, and
two or three domestics. But when the days began to shorten, the cold
breezes from the lake were too much for Astridda and her child; and,
accompanied by the same faithful domestics, she left her island home. To
escape observation, she never came within sight of human habitation; and
when, after many days, she approached her father’s habitation, she was
too cautious to enter. A messenger acquainted him with her arrival; and
he met her at a solitary hut in the forest, where every domestic comfort
was supplied her. Two maid servants only, with her foster-father, his
child, and her infant son, formed her whole establishment. It was
fortunate for her that, during this winter, Gunhilda and her sons were
too closely occupied by Hako, the jarl, to have leisure for pursuing
her. But that ambitious woman had heard of Olaf’s birth; and when spring
arrived, she sent her spies to inquire into the truth of the report, and
where both mother and child might be found. Their inquiries were
successful; and a chief, with thirty horsemen, was despatched to bring
the infant to the court of Gunhilda. Eric, however, the father of
Astridda, was told their purpose when they were only a few miles distant
from the house. It was nightfall; and he led his daughter, with her
precious charge and a few domestics, into the forest, where he
acquainted her with her danger, with his inability to protect her, and
with the necessity of her hastening, in the most secret manner, to the
house of an aged friend in Sweden. No sooner had she departed, than he
returned to his own house, to await the arrival of the horsemen.
Fortunately, both for him and his daughter, they did not immediately
call upon him, but passed the night at a neighbouring house. The
following morning, when he was asked where his daughter and grandson
were, he denied that they were with him; and, on their refusing to
believe him, he allowed them to search every corner of his habitation.
But the leader of the band was at length informed of their route, and,
causing his men to mount, he pursued it. Darkness overtaking them, they
passed the night with a rich landowner, whom they carelessly asked
whether he had seen a woman with a child pass that way. He replied, that
a woman and child, in very mean attire, with other persons equally
humble, had besought his hospitality, and that he had refused to lodge
them,—for, like worthies of recent times, he had a great dislike to
beggars,—but he believed they were at some cottage in the neighbourhood.
And so they were;—at the cottage of an honest farmer, and less distant
than was suspected. But Providence watched over the safety of mother and
son. While this conversation was passing, a peasant in the employment of
that farmer accidentally called at the rich man’s house, on his return
from the forest to his master’s. He heard all that had passed; and,
ignorant of Astridda’s arrival, communicated it to his master. The
Norwegian, as prudent as he was humane, perceiving that the third part
of the night was already past, went to his guests, who were fast asleep,
and told them, in an angry voice, to rise and leave his house. They
tremblingly obeyed; but no sooner were they beyond the inclosure, than
he acquainted them with the cause of his seeming harshness. He sent them
to a solitary lake, on which was an island covered with reeds, and bade
them remain concealed until they saw him again. As the water of the lake
was shallow, they easily waded to the island, and concealed themselves,
while Thorsteim (his name shall not be buried in oblivion) returned to
his own house. As he had foreseen, on the following morning the chief of
the horsemen, after inquiring at many houses, called at his, and
inquired after the fugitives. “They have been here,” was the reply;
“but, before the break of day, they both left me, and went into the
wood.” Nor was he unprepared for the next question,—whether he would be
their guide in searching for the mother. He readily consented; and, as
may easily be conceived, led them in a direction exactly contrary to
that which they had pursued. Nor was this all. On the pretext that they
should probably be more successful if they separately continued the
search, he left them, but only to delude them by new expedients. The day
was thus wasted, and the horsemen returned to Gunhilda. That evening
Thorsteim went to the island, provided the fugitives with a store of
provisions, and, what was much better, with a faithful guide. Astridda
pursued her journey, and, without any further interruption, reached the
house of Hako the Old, by whom she and her infant were affectionately
received, and with whom they remained about three years.[203]

[Sidenote: 964 to 966.]

But the fortunes of Olaf and of his mother were still to be singular.
They had not long enjoyed the hospitality of Hako, when Gunhilda sent an
embassy to Eric, king of Sweden, to obtain possession of the young
prince. Under the specious promise of amply providing for one whose
fortunes she pitied, and the fate of whose father she had long bewailed,
her messenger easily prevailed on Eric to send an escort to the house of
Hako for the prince. But, at the court of Eric, Hako had a son, who was
present when the affair was mentioned to the king; and he gave his
father timely warning of the Norwegian’s approach. The Swedish noble was
therefore prepared for his visitor. After the display of much
ceremonious politeness, the ambassador mentioned the anxiety of Gunhilda
to educate young Olaf in a manner becoming his birth; and begged that
the royal child might be confided to his care,—a request in which the
Swedish king joined. “Astridda,” replied the wary Hako, “is the mistress
of her own actions, and if she consents to thy proposal, I can have no
objection to it.” On the refusal of Astridda, the disappointed
ambassador returned to Eric’s court, and obtained a stronger force, with
the intention of removing the child by violence, should entreaties be
unavailing. As before, Hako was prepared, and he was less complaisant
than on the former occasion. “Astridda,” was the substance of his reply
to the renewed proposal, “has no great reason to confide in the promises
of Gunhilda; she knows her wiles, her deceit; she is still averse from
thy proposal; and the boy cannot go without the mother’s consent, nor
shall I allow her inclination to be forced, so long as she continues
under my protection.” High words arose; the ambassador threatened to
employ force; Hako replied, that men more powerful than he would fail in
such an attempt. The dispute reached the ears of a cowherd of Hako’s—a
huge herculean man—who, seizing a pitchfork, hastened to the scene, and
said, “Is it thou who darest to insult my princely master in his own
house? Choose one of these two things,—either speedily retire from this
neighbourhood, or prepare for thy death by this pitchfork, which will be
equally fatal to thy companions!” The ambassador and his suite hastily
retreated, and on their return to Norway acquainted the disappointed
Gunhilda with the ill success of his journey.[204]

[Sidenote: 976 to 984.]

Whether through fear lest king Eric should, in the end, force her son
from her, or through the desire of seeing her brother Sigurd, who was
then in high favour with Waldemar, a king of Gardarik[205], Astridda
left the hospitable roof of Hako. By him she was confided to the care of
some merchants who traded with Gardarik, and supplied with everything
necessary for her voyage. In the Gulf of Finland they were taken by
Esthonian pirates, separated, and sold. Olaf, Thorolf, and the son of
Thorolf, became the property of one who, seeing the old man past
service, put him to death; the two boys were afterwards sold to
different masters, and Astridda sent nobody knew where. Subsequently,
the same master purchased Thorgils, the foster-brother of Olaf, and
employed him in the meanest drudgery. But the prince was not thus
treated; he was soon beloved by the old pagan, and beheld in the light
of a son. It happened, one day, that Sigurd, the uncle of Olaf, came to
the master’s house, and saw the boy, then about ten years old, playing
with others of his age. He saluted Sigurd; the latter returned the
courtesy, and was immediately struck with the foreign countenance of the
boy. In answer to his questions, the boy told him his name, and the
names of his parents. Sigurd at once recognised his nephew, whom he
redeemed; but the boy would not go with him unless he was accompanied by
Thorgils, who was redeemed at a lower price. To the honour of the pagan
master of Olaf, it must be added, that he would not have sold the boy,
unless Sigurd had given a pledge that he should never be resold, and
that he should be treated as well as he had been under his own roof.
Both children were taken to the court of Sigurd’s master, who reigned in
the vicinity of Novgorod. The attachment which Olaf bore to his friends
was equalled by his hatred to his enemies, and to the enemies of his
friends. One day, as he stood in the public market, he perceived the
merchant who had killed Thorolf: approaching with much deliberation, he
drew his little sword, inflicted a mortal wound in the head of the
merchant, and immediately ran to acquaint his uncle with the deed which
he had performed. Apprehensive of the consequences, Sigurd led his
nephew into the presence of the queen, and besought her protection; and
through her influence, a pecuniary compensation was received by the
relations of the deceased. He soon became a favourite at court; the
king, learning his royal birth, placed him among his nobles; and nine
years passed away with rapidity. Every accomplishment becoming his
descent and his future prospects was acquired by him. Among these was
piracy, to which, from his twelfth year, he was habituated. In it he
acquired considerable reputation during the following years; and was
most useful to the king by destroying other piratical vessels which
disturbed the peace of Gardarik, and by the rich treasures which he
brought from his frequent expeditions. But his favour with the king had
the ordinary effect,—it created rivals and enemies; and he left the
court to do what so many of his ancestors had done before him,—to pursue
his fortunes on the deep.[206]

[Sidenote: 985 to 994.]

On the shores of the Baltic the young chief obtained much celebrity,
alike for his valour and success. He was consequently joined by many
piratical vassals, until he had a considerable fleet under his command.
Towards the close, he caused his vessels to anchor in a bay on the coast
of Pomerania, which was then governed by a princess, the daughter of
duke Borislaf, whose husband was lately deceased. The fame of his
exploits, of his accomplishments, of his personal comeliness, reached
her ears, and through her minister she sent him an invitation to pass
the winter in her capital. It was readily accepted; and the natural
consequence followed,—her marriage with the pirate chief. Invested by
this union with the military government of the state, Olaf defended the
rights of his consort much more eagerly than those of her subjects. Some
territories and fortresses which had been dismembered from the duchy, he
restored to it. But in one of these warlike expeditions, he was nearly a
victim to the bad faith of the barbarians. Leading his troops against a
fortified town which had thrown off its allegiance to the princess, he
pressed the inhabitants so closely that they offered to submit to his
discretion, and opened their gates to receive them. No sooner, however,
had a few of his men entered with him, than the ponderous barricades
were closed, and he was assailed by a multitude. But a sea king never
lost his presence of mind. Commanding his followers to imitate his
example, he repaired to the walls, fighting as he retreated; and on
reaching them, he leaped to the ground outside the fortifications. The
place was now assailed with the vigour which exasperation always gives;
it was soon carried by storm; the garrison were put to the sword, and
the walls levelled with the earth.—But this humble sphere was too narrow
for his ambition, which the events then passing in Norway served to
inflame. In about a year after his marriage, he sailed with a small
number of vessels to the coast of Sweden, ravaged Scania and Gothland,
took one or two prizes, assisted the emperor Otho in the invasion of
Denmark, and in the victory which the temporal head of Christendom
obtained over the pagan Dane, and was present at the deliberations which
preceded the restoration of peace.[207] That he was half a Christian—at
least in disposition—is evident from the relation of his biographer; but
where he had acquired the little knowledge he possessed of Christianity
is not so clear. His biographer affirms that he had often heard of the
Christian doctrines,—which may be true enough; but we cannot subscribe
to the next assertion, that one reason of his esteem for the new faith
was, a miracle which he had seen archbishop Poppo work in presence of
Otho and Harald of Denmark. However this be, he had a great aversion to
idolatry; and, even at the court of the pagan king in Gardarik, he had
always refused to sacrifice to the gods. In the army of Otho he met with
his father-in-law, duke Borislaf; and after the successful termination
of the war, he returned into Pomerania. But his restless disposition
would not long permit him to remain with his bride; and he led another
expedition to various shores of the Baltic. After the death of his
consort, which happened in three years after his marriage, he would no
longer remain in Pomerania. Probably the event disposed him to humility,
to reflection. However this be, he was now better instructed in the
principles of Christianity,—whether in Greece, as his biographer assures
us, or in some Slavonian province where Greek missionaries were
labouring, is of little moment. But the baptismal rite was not
administered to him for some years afterwards,—until he visited a hermit
in the west. He is said to have been instrumental in the conversion,
also, of his master, the king of Holmgard, and of the queen. Whatever
his zeal might be at this period of life, at a subsequent one, as we
shall soon perceive, it was great enough. But his religion was, like
that of the period, a strange one: it did not deter him from ravaging
the coasts of Christian countries, from burning the huts of the poor,
and sacrificing the inmates. Years after his pretended change of belief,
he was occupied in this dreadful profession, from the coasts of Russia
to those of Brittany and Ireland. In Ireland or in England,—probably in
the latter,—he is said to have married an Irish princess, named Gyda;
but before the ceremony could take place, he was compelled to fight with
a rival, whom he soon vanquished. After this event, he was sometimes in
England, sometimes in Ireland, but every where his fame as a warrior
extended. The sea kings of this period were accustomed to fight as much
for others as for themselves, by hiring their services to any native
prince who had need of them; nor did it unfrequently happen that the
northmen were, at the same time, in opposite ranks. For such services
the wages were always abundant; sometimes in land, more frequently in
gold and rich merchandise. Nor must we forget that, when on the coast of
a friendly power, the pirates exercised the profession of merchants, and
traded from one port or one kingdom to another, with more regularity
than we generally suppose. But this pursuit was much too quiet for the
sea king, and he followed it from necessity only: his delight was in
scenes of excitement—in those of danger and carnage. Whether in peace or
war, no scruple was felt in stealing cattle from any coast. While in
Ireland, an adventure befell Olaf which illustrates both this statement
and his own character. He and his men had disembarked on a certain part
of the coast, seized a multitude of cattle, and were driving them
towards their ships, when a poor farmer ran after them, and begged the
chief to restore the animals which had been stolen from _him_. “Thou
mayst have them,” replied Olaf, “if, without impeding our march, thou
canst distinguish them from such a multitude.” The man had a dog, which
singled out the animals, one by one, to the great amazement of the
chief. “Wilt thou part with this dog?” demanded Olaf. “Readily!” was the
answer; and Olaf, not satisfied with restoring the man’s cattle, made
him some valuable presents.[208]

[Sidenote: 967 to 993.]

In all his voyages, Olaf never despaired of being one day able to
procure the rights of his birth in Norway, and his eyes were frequently
turned to that country. Nor was he without anxiety as to the fate of his
mother, of whom he had heard nothing since the day on which, while yet
an infant, he had been separated from her. Her adventures may, for a
moment, occupy the reader’s attention. After remaining a slave for some
time, she was seen in Pomerania by a Norwegian pirate of noble birth: at
first he did not recognise her; where health and cheerfulness and beauty
had once been, he observed paleness and melancholy; but there was, alike
in her appearance and manner, something that inspired him with respect.
A closer examination convinced him that he saw Astridda, the queen of
Trygve, before him; he entered into conversation with her, and learned
that she was now on sale. She besought him to ransom her, and return her
to her friends; and he promised to do so on one condition,—that she
would become his bride. Her situation was not one that admitted of
either scruple or hesitation; she became his wife, and the mother of
several children. Year after year rolled away, and the mother heard not
of the son, or the son of the mother. The fame of his exploits, indeed,
had reached Norway; but he had assumed another name,—that of Olo, a
native of Gardarik, and by it he was known to all the princes of his
time, from the imperial Otho to the humblest piratical chief. But Hako,
the usurper of Norway, knew the truth; and as his favour with the
people, from his new vices, was now departing[209], he began to look
with much anxiety towards Ireland, where Olaf had for some time been. To
remove this aspiring rival was necessary to his safety; and he
immediately devised the means of carrying his design into

[Sidenote: 995 to 996.]

Intimately connected with Hako was a piratical chief, Thorer by name, a
man of enterprise, who had acquired reputation on the deep, and who
would not hesitate to execute any commission with which he might be
entrusted. This man was the fittest instrument for alluring Olaf into
the power of Hako. By open force, no chief could hope to succeed; for
Olaf was followed by some of the most noted heroes of his time, and was
at the head of some ships. He must therefore, if possible, be brought to
Norway; or, as a last resource, assassinated. As the deceitful
representations which Thorer was enjoined to make might not have their
due effect on Olaf, two of his kinsmen, whom he had never seen—the
brothers of his mother—were to be associated with him, and, if need
were, to confirm his statement.[211] They revolted, we are told, at this
meditated treachery, and refused to share in it until menaced with the
loss of their own lives. However this be, Thorer hastened to Dublin to
put his design into execution. To lull suspicion, he was provided with
abundant merchandise, which he was to barter in Dublin, a port then
flourishing for its commerce. He had little difficulty in discovering
the abode of Olo of Gardarik, the only name by which Olaf was known. By
degrees, he cultivated the acquaintance of Olaf; and, as he was a man of
great observation, eloquent, and specious, he was a welcome visitor. As
usual, Olaf, without naming himself, inquired after his family
connections;—how many were living, what their condition in life, what
their influence with the public. When satisfied on these points, he
inquired into the character, the power, the reputation of Hako. “The
jarl,” replied Thorer, “is a great prince, absolute in everything, and
no man dare contradict him; but, if I must speak confidentially, he is
tolerated only because of old Harold’s race no scion remains whom the
people might choose in lieu of him. Many are the nobles, the chiefs, the
warriors, the people, who would rush to the standard of such a rival, if
one were to appear in Norway. But why talk thus vainly? no prince of
that house survives.” Such was the manner in which Thorer fulfilled his
commission; and we cannot be surprised that, after a few interviews,
Olaf opened his heart to the traitor. He was not, by birth, Olo of
Gardarik,—he was Olaf, the son of king Trygve; and might he, indeed,
hope that the Norwegians would accept him, in preference to Hako? Thorer
solemnly affirmed that, if he but showed himself to the people, the
reign of Hako would be at an end. He did more; he professed the warmest
interest in the fate of his new friend, whom he exhorted to sail,
without delay, to his native country. With five ships only—for why
engage many where none would be needed—the prince, accompanied by
Thorer, left Dublin, passed the Hebrides, and at length reached the
Orkneys. The jarl of these islands was Sigurd, who welcomed the
strangers: but in Olaf he found a master. The prince, already assuming
the rights of sovereignty, commanded the jarl to receive baptism, and,
on his hesitation, threatened him with death if he refused. The choice
was not difficult, and the Christian church had one hypocrite more.
Homage, too, was done to the new king; and, as a pledge of fidelity,
Whelp, the son of Sigurd, accompanied Olaf to Norway.[212]

[Sidenote: 995 to 996.]

When Olaf reached the coast of Agder, he learned that the inhabitants of
Drontheim were conspiring against the authority of Hako. This news was a
thunderbolt to Thorer, who, from the gratitude which the Norwegians had
evinced towards the jarl, for his recent victory over the Jomsberg
pirates, had regarded his dynasty as secure. The present discontent,
however, might pass away; and he determined to assassinate Olaf: but the
men whom he had hired for that purpose betrayed him to the prince, and
he fell the victim of his own wiles. Olaf, whose name had not yet been
mentioned to the people, now hastened towards Drontheim, where every
moment added to the critical situation of his enemy. Nothing can so well
describe the character of Hako as his conduct just before and at this
period. Though he knew that the inhabitants of that province were only
waiting for an opportunity of banishing or destroying him, he persevered
in his lustful course. Wives, daughters, sisters, widows, virgins,—all
on whom he cast his eyes, were, however nobly allied, forcibly taken to
his residence. But the following incident had happened before the
arrival of Olaf:—Brinjolf, a noble of Ganlardal, had a beautiful and
accomplished wife; one night, while both were in bed, the myrmidons of
Hako arrived at his villa, and unceremoniously informed him that his
wife was wanted by the jarl, and that she must accompany them. On his
indignant refusal to suffer her departure, they returned for more
assistants, and bore her away to the palace of Hako. The following day
Brinjolf put on his armour, rode into the neighbouring country,
assembled his connections and friends, laid before them the indignity
which he had received, and prevailed on them to unite in his cause. They
did not, however, break out into open insurrection, but they entered
into a conspiracy to assist one another when the convenient moment
should arrive. This event was no warning to Hako. Soon afterwards,
smitten with the charms of a married lady, Godruna, who from her beauty
was surnamed the “Sun of Lunden,” he sent his emissaries to her
husband’s house to bring her to him. Under the pretext of inviting them
to supper, Orm, the husband, detained them until his servants had
collected a force sufficient to set them at defiance. The lady herself
then told the messengers, in a tone of insult, that she should not
accompany them unless Thora, the favourite mistress of the jarl, sent
for her. Threatening vengeance on the whole family, the men departed;
and Orm lost no time in sending out the arrow, the symbol of war, to his
kinsmen and dependents.[213] The well-known token was rapidly conveyed;
the gathering commenced; and in a short time a formidable band was
assembled, eager to destroy the tyrannical jarl.[214]

[Sidenote: 995.]

The motives of this rustic force were soon known to Hako. His first
object was to conceal himself until he had collected troops enough to
crush the insurrection. What follows is exceedingly romantic; and we
give it as we find it in the authorities before us, leaving the reader
to exercise his own judgment in what he may reject or admit. We may,
however, observe that, if some of the incidents have been too strongly
coloured by posterity, the substance of the relation is
true.—Accompanied by his domestics, Hako fled from his villa into a deep
valley, which has ever since borne his name. As it was supposed that he
would hasten to his ships, which were at some distance along the coast,
and were under the guidance of his son Erleng, the paths which led to
the coast were more narrowly watched than those in the neighbourhood of
the valley. At nightfall, he despatched some of his men to the station
where his vessels lay, commanding his son to meet him off a more
southern portion of the coast; the rest he sent to their own homes,
keeping one serf only, Thermod Kark, who had been his companion from
infancy. Feeling that his present retreat was not secure, he plunged
further into the solitudes. On reaching the banks of a lake, which was
frozen over, he dismounted, made a hole in the ice, thrust his horse
into the aperture, and left his mantle beside it, so as to make his
pursuers believe that he had perished in the waters. He then crossed the
ice, and, with his slave, found refuge in a solitary cave in the
mountains. Both being much fatigued, they soon fell asleep; but the
slave started, and awoke his master to acquaint him with an awful dream
which he had just experienced. He had seen a man of a dark, dreadful
countenance, approach the cave, stand for a moment before it, and, after
exclaiming, “One is dead!” ascend the hill. This mysterious denunciation
was thought by Hako to allude to Erleng; for, after a moment’s
reflection, he said, “Thy dream appears to indicate the death of my
son!” The interpretation, say the sagas, was a true one. Olaf had just
arrived off the coast; Erleng, with three vessels only, could not make
head against the superior fleet which he rightly judged to be that of an
enemy; and, to escape captivity, he and a few of his companions, after
approaching the shore as near as they could, quietly descended into the
water, and began to swim. In this state they were overtaken by the
vessel in which Olaf was. According to Snorro, it was Olaf himself who,
with an oar, broke the head of the young jarl as he was buffeting the
waters; according to Gunlaug, it was one of his mariners. Both agree
that Erleng perished within a few yards of the coast; that many of his
companions perished with him; that the vessels became the prize of Olaf,
who learned, for the first time, the flight of Hako, and the
insurrection of the rustics.[215]

[Sidenote: 995.]

After this dream, proceeds the Saga, the slave had another, which
frightened him so much that he made a distressing noise, like one
afflicted with the nightmare. Being awoke by his master, he said that he
had seen the same dark man approach the cave, stop at the entrance as
before, and say, “Tell thy master that all the passages to the
sea-coast, and the coast itself, are blocked up!” The jarl thought his
days were numbered; but he said nothing. He would, however, no longer
remain in the cave; and both proceeded towards the villa inhabited by
Thora. When at a distance from it, he despatched Kark with a request
that she would secretly meet him in the forest. She obeyed the summons,
and showed, by her affectionate behaviour, that whatever are the crimes
of men, women can be faithful to the last. Hako asked her if she could
furnish him with some hiding place for a few nights. “That will be
difficult,” replied Thora; “my house will soon be searched; not a corner
of it will escape scrutiny, for all people know I shall save thee if I
can. Yet there is one place where nobody would expect to find a prince
like thee—it is under the pig-sty.” They went to the place; the slave
enlarged the cave; provisions, lights, and other necessaries were
brought; and Hako, accompanied by Kark, descended into the cavern. The
earth which had been recently dug up was removed; wooden rafters were
laid over the hole; over them straw and dung were spread, and the swine
were turned in to tread down the covering, so as to confound the recent
marks. In addition, the entrance to the sty was blocked up by a large
stone. Having taken these precautions, Thora returned to the house, none
of her domestics being aware that she had seen the jarl. The prisoners
were, therefore, left to themselves; but how they were to breathe in
such a place, we are not informed.—The enemies of Hako, with Olaf at
their head, soon arrived. They had found the mantle on the ice of the
lake, and had been induced to return, until suspicion of the stratagem
arose, and induced them to continue the pursuit. On reaching the house
of Thora, they broke open the doors, examined every part within and
without, and desisted only when search was manifestly vain. If any faith
is to be placed in either of the authorities before us, Olaf, on issuing
from the house, sat on the very stone which blocked up the entrance to
the sty, and stimulated his followers to search in other districts, by
offering splendid rewards to any one that should take or kill the jarl.
His loud voice penetrated to the cave where Hako and his slave sat; and,
as the former looked at the latter, he saw his countenance change. “What
means that look?” demanded the master; “dost thou wish to betray
me?”—“No,” replied the other, “but I tremble at that voice; it is the
one I heard in my dream.”—“Both of us,” rejoined Hako, who was very
superstitious, and had often consulted the oracles of the country, “were
born on the same day, and the same day will close the life of both!”
Towards nightfall Olaf departed, and the master and slave were left to
their own reflections, or what was still worse, to their conversation.
Hako durst not sleep, lest his slave should assassinate him; nor Kark,
lest the same advantage should be taken by his master. At length,
however, the slave closed his eyes, and dreamed that he and his master
were in the same ship, of which he was the helmsman. This required no
interpretation; as Hako observed, they were, indeed, in the same vessel,
and the fate of both was in the hands of the slave. Again the latter
dreamed: he was now at the court of Olaf, who fastened a golden chain
around his neck. “That chain,” observed Hako, “will be a bloody one to
thee, if ever thou comest into the presence of Olaf; it portends thy
doom: yet be faithful to me, and all will be well!” At length nature was
too much for both, and they slept; but, towards the break of day, the
slave was awoke by the horrid noise made by his master, who seemed as if
in a cruel nightmare, as if struggling with some nightly demon, or with
his own evil genius. Kark arose, drew a knife from his belt, and cut the
throat of Hako. The head he then separated from the body, and hastened
with it to Olaf, who was now proclaimed king. “What led thee to this
deed?” was the demand of the prince. “Chiefly,” replied the slave, “the
great reward which I heard thee offer, and partly the confusion of my
senses at the condition of Hako.”—“Thou shalt have the reward,” rejoined
the king; “but thou shalt also die. If Hako was a bad man, he was still
thy master, and a benefactor to thee; and thy fate must be a warning to
thy fellows, not to lift their hands against those whom they ought to
defend.” The slave was then beheaded; and the prophecy, that he and Hako
should die within a day of each other, was literally fulfilled.[216]

Thus perished the son of Sigurd,—a man of great talents, great
enterprise, and, until the last few years of his life, of great public
utility. Previous to that period, his enemies could not deny him noble
birth, great valour, consummate prudence in the art of government, and
success in war. He was, besides, liberal to his dependents, and
magnificent to his friends. His chief defects were dissimulation,
treachery, falsehood; a superstitious regard for the pagan religion, and
a hatred of Christianity. Formerly, he had been called Hako the Good; he
was henceforth to be called Hako the Bad. He died in his fifty-eighth
year, thirty-three of which he had exercised the sovereign power under
the title of jarl.[217]

[Sidenote: 996.]

The death of Hako enabled _Olaf Trygveson_ to take possession of the
whole kingdom, as fully as had ever been done by fair-haired Harald. The
people, indeed, would hear of no other king. One of his first objects
was to introduce Christianity; and he commenced with Vikia, the province
where his mother (the wife of Lodin) and all his family connections
lived, and where he knew he should find the least resistance to his
efforts. To his friends he expressed his resolution, either to convert
the whole kingdom, or to perish in the attempt. Having first prevailed
on his numerous family connections to embrace Christianity, and to
promise a cordial co-operation in his designs, he called an assembly of
the province, and, like most royal missionaries, intimated his command,
rather than his request, that all should receive the baptismal rite. The
chiefs, whom he had previously secured, immediately signified their
assent, and their example constrained the multitude. Here, as everywhere
else, if any refused to forsake their old faith, he would not condescend
to argue with them; some he exiled, some he mutilated, others he put to
death. This was a sure method of producing outward obedience to the new
religion; and, in one year, the whole of Vikia was—not christianised,
but baptized. Accompanied by a strong force, the royal missionary next
transferred his labours to Agder and Hardaland. Here, the same
alternative was proposed,—conversion or death; and the smaller evil was
naturally chosen. Rogaland was the next province to benefit by his
apostolic efforts, and they had the usual success. It appears, however,
that the inhabitants were less inclined to the novelty than their
countrymen of Vikia; and three of the leading chiefs were besought to
answer the monarch in full assembly. But who would venture to resist the
king, especially when he denounced the severest vengeance on all who
should refuse to obey him? One of the speakers was suddenly seized by a
cough; another began to stammer; the third had conveniently a sore
throat; so that no answer being returned to the most gracious message
from the throne, silence was taken for consent, and all present were
within a few days hurried to the baptismal font. In one province the
assembled chiefs, who were all kinsmen, promised to embrace the new
religion on this condition,—that one of their number should receive the
hand of Astridda, sister of the monarch. At first the princess, who had
forgotten the humble fortunes which had lately been the lot of all her
family, refused the match, as beneath her dignity; she wanted a prince.
Olaf adorned her own hawk in magnificent plumes, and sent it to her,
with an intimation that it was no less easy for him to ennoble the
humblest peasant in Norway. The ambitious lady then consented; the
province became Christian; and Erling, the brother-in-law of Olaf,
became a powerful jarl. Proceeding northwards, the royal apostle
assembled the inhabitants of the Fiords and of Raumdal. On this
occasion, a whole army was with him; doubtless because he apprehended
more opposition than he had yet encountered. But his mode of argument
was too convincing to be resisted;—“Receive baptism, or fight me!” and
the easier alternative was selected. From this meeting he repaired to
Laden, where there was a magnificent temple of the gods: the idols he
despoiled, threw them to the ground, and consumed the building by

[Sidenote: 997 to 999.]

But if this coercive mode of proselyting was, in many places,
immediately effectual, it was not so in all. So enraged were the
inhabitants of Raumdal at the destruction of the temple at Laden, that
they sent forth the arrow, and an armed multitude rose at the summons.
But Olaf proceeded to the south, where they could not follow him, and
there he passed the winter. This opposition only rendered him the more
ferocious against the pagans and all their superstitions. In the next
assembly over which he presided, he denounced the magicians, and caused
a decree of banishment to be pronounced against them: if they did not
voluntarily leave the country, all were to be arrested, brought before
him, and put to death. Eyvind Kella, a descendant of Harald Harfager,
was at the head of a college of magicians. These the king invited to an
entertainment, and set fire to the house in which they were assembled.
Eyvind, however, was not there; but he was afterwards taken, with a
considerable number of other proficients in the art, and were thrown
from a high rock into the sea.—Olaf, like all the men of his time, was a
believer in these pretended arts; and he was sure that, unless they were
repressed, religion must suffer. His people were not less superstitious
than he; and they doubted not that he had personally to contend with
Odin himself. One evening, as he was holding a festival in the retired
manor of Augvald, an old man, with a high cap like one of the Persian
magi, and only one eye, was admitted to the table. So eloquent was his
discourse, so varied his knowledge, that Olaf was delighted with his
guest. Many were the abstruse questions which he put to him; equally
wise and ready were the answers. Thus the night wore away. At length
Olaf asked the stranger who was that Augvald to whom the house in which
they were had once belonged, but who had long been dead. Augvald,
replied the guest, had a cow, to which he paid divine honours, which
always accompanied him, and supplied him with milk. At length he fell in
battle, and in the neighbourhood of this house was buried, in one tomb,
while the cow was buried in another.—Still the night wore away, and the
stranger showed no desire to go: at length the king pulled off his
clothes, and laid down on the bed, the mysterious guest being seated
before him. But the bishop entered, to inform the king that it was time
to sleep; and at the sight of him the guest departed. The rest of the
monarch, however, was short; he could not sleep; and to pass away the
time he sent for the stranger, who was nowhere to be found. The morning
following, he inquired of his cooks and butler whether they had seen
him. They replied that a man answering the description had appeared
amongst them while they were preparing the feast; had asserted that the
meat they were cooking was of the worst kind, and unfit for the royal
table; and had presented them with two noble barons of beef, which he
had assisted them to prepare. In great consternation Olaf ordered what
remained to be thrown away; the stranger, he was sure, was no other than
Odin, who had some deep purpose in view; but never would he be the
victim or the instrument of his fiendish designs. The gravity with which
such adventures are related by Snorro is the best illustration of the
opinions and intellect of the times.[219]

[Sidenote: 998.]

But Olaf had seen more sturdy antagonists than wine-bibbing deities.
Repairing to the north, he found that his attempts to convert the people
were not always to be successful. To the states of Drontheim, which he
had convoked at Froste, they repaired, all armed, and evidently intent
on some important measure. After the assembly had been legally opened by
Olaf, he commanded this people to embrace the Christian religion. A
great clamour arose; and the people did what they had never yet
dared—assert their superiority over him, command him to be silent, and
threaten that, if he refused to obey, they would drive him from the
kingdom. They had overpowered Hako, the godson of Athelstane, and they
did not think Olaf in any respect superior to that monarch. The tone of
Olaf was soon altered; he saw that the formidable body, who had been
raised by the fatal arrow, could not be resisted on this occasion; and
he expressed his wish to live on the best terms with all his people. In
reply to their next demand, that he should join in the sacrifices, he
promised to be present on the next great solemn festival, and then
choose which religion he would follow. By this promise, and by his
unusually placid manner, the wrath of the people was disarmed; and it
was agreed that they should meet him at Laden, in the province of Moria.
In the interval he prepared for the struggle. With a stronger force than
he had yet brought to such assemblies, he proceeded to Laden. Before the
business of the meeting was opened, he gave to the assembled people a
magnificent entertainment, and all drank deeply, so as to become
intoxicated,—the usual result of all northern feasts. The next morning,
after the legal opening of the Thing, he arose, and thus addressed
them:—“Countrymen! you well know what passed in the last assembly at
Froste, and that we are here met to restore the pagan sacrifices which
you so much desire. You also know with what contumely I have treated the
gods,—how often I have thrown them to the earth, and burned their
temples, and defied them to their faces. Now, according to your own
creed, such deeds can be only forgiven by extraordinary oblations. If I
must sacrifice, I will, as the chief pontiff, select such victims as I
may approve. They shall be _human_ victims,—yea, and the noblest amongst
you!” With much solemnity, and in a most emphatic manner, he then
mentioned the names of twelve chiefs,—the noblest in Norway, who were
all present,—that were to be immediately immolated; and he called on his
followers to lead them into the temple. The result may be anticipated:
the terrified chiefs who were thus doomed, and all who feared the same
fate, left the matter of religion to the king—they would no longer
oppose him: the multitude were constrained by their example; and both
the high and the low, young and old, were led to the baptismal

[Sidenote: 998.]

Encouraged by the success of this policy, Olaf now hastened into
Drontheim, where the provincial states were assembled. Here, however, he
experienced the same opposition. The people insisted, not only that he
should leave them to the undisturbed exercise of their worship, but that
he should, without delay, join in their sacrifices. Accordingly he
entered the temple, accompanied by some of his own party, and of theirs.
The chief idol, Thor, was seated in much barbaric grandeur, being
covered with gold and precious stones. Olaf gazed for a moment; then,
seizing a ponderous mallet, he struck the idol with such force that it
reeled from the pedestal, and fell heavily on the floor of the temple.
This was the signal for the rest of his followers, who, with the
rapidity of lightning, hurled the remaining gods from their seats, with
shouts of derision. At the same time, the leader of the opposition, a
noble pontiff, was killed outside the temple. Olaf then addressed the
multitude, and left them the choice whether they would be baptized, or
fight him. They were willing enough to choose the latter alternative;
but having no chief who could lead them on, they yielded, and were
immediately regenerated in the sacred font. For their good behaviour in
future, they were compelled to give hostages. To conciliate the family
of the deceased pontiff, Olaf, who was now a widower, married Gudruna,
the daughter; but he had soon to separate from her, since, on the first
night of their nuptials, she attempted his destruction.—Olaf was not yet
satisfied; the districts north of Drontheim, especially Halogia, were
yet pagan; and he longed to convert, that is to baptize, the natives.
When any of them, by accident, or stress of weather, touched in the
ports of Norway, he hurried them away to the miraculous font; or, if
they refused to go, he punished them for their obstinacy. Eyvind, a
native of Halogia, furnishes an illustration of the manner in which the
royal missionary attempted the conversion of individuals. Being brought
into the presence of Olaf, he was exhorted to embrace Christianity; but
he refused. Mild, persuasive language, in which the bishop (and there
was always one in the royal precincts) joined, was at first adopted; but
without success. Olaf then offered him large domains, to be held by the
feudal tenure; still no assent. “Then,” added the enraged apostle, “thou
shalt die!” A chafing dish of burning coals was brought, and laid on the
belly of the pagan, whom death soon released from suffering. To avert
the odium which must attach to the deed, a report was spread that,
before his death, Eyvind had acknowledged that he was an evil spirit in
the human form.[221]

[Sidenote: 999.]

When the favourable season arrived, Olaf, with a large band of armed
men, proceeded into Halogia to convert the people. In the south of that
province they were unprepared for resistance, and the good work was
unusually prosperous. But two chiefs in the north,—Raude and
Thorer,—both zealously attached to paganism, both rich and powerful,
equipped ships to oppose him. They were defeated; and Raude, who was a
great magician, raised a wind by which he escaped. Not so Thorer, who
was driven to the shore: though, from his swiftness, he was called _the
Stag_, he could not outstrip the Irish dog, Vikia, which Olaf despatched
after him.[222] Turning round, he wounded the animal; but a spear from
Olaf entered his side. The victor now hastened after Raude, who had
found a refuge in the island of Godey; but the magician raised such a
tempest that there was no approaching the island. At the end of a week
he proceeded farther to the north; and, after a successful course of
preaching, again returned to the coast opposite to Godey. Still the
elements raged. “What shall we do?” demanded the king, of Sigurd the
bishop; “Defy the tempest,” replied the other, “and the demon who has
raised it!” Saying this, Sigurd arrayed himself pontifically, took his
seat at the helm, held out his censor smoking with incense, raised a
huge cross, recited the gospel with many prayers, and sprinkled the ship
with holy water. The effect was miraculous: where the vessel was there
was a calm; on each side of it, the billows rose furiously. During the
passage, the same wondrous phenomenon was seen: before them the sea was
smooth as glass; to the right and left the tempest remained unabated. On
reaching the bay, a huge dragon, that is, a ship, stood on the sands.
Olaf heeded it not; but, hastening to the house of Raude, he bound the
magician with fetters, killed some of the domestics, and captured
others; and the same fate was inflicted on the military companions of
the chief. Raude was then invited to receive baptism; if he did so, he
should not be despoiled of his substance. Not only was the invitation
spurned, but heavy curses were uttered on the king and his faith. This
was not to be endured; and the royal missionary determined that this
wretch should leave the world by a novel death. Raude was fettered and
gagged; a serpent was brought to his mouth, and attempts made to force
the animal down his throat; but it recoiled in affright. A horn was then
passed between the magician’s teeth; the adder entered at one end,
passed through the mouth into the stomach of Raude, and speedily ate for
itself a way out again. Great was the spoil which awaited the victor:
but his greatest pleasure was to execute such of the magician’s
dependents as refused baptism. After these notable exploits, he returned
into Drontheim.[223]

[Sidenote: 998.]

Though Olaf was as much disposed to enforce the conversion of
individuals as of large bodies of men, he was not equal to both tasks;
and, in the former case, he sometimes devolved on others the important
duty of a missionary. A story preserved by Gunlaug, the Icelandic monk,
will illustrate the manner in which he exacted revenge when his efforts
had been unsuccessful. Halfrod, the royal poet, was accused to Olaf of
being still idolatrous in heart, and of worshipping a little image of
Thor, which he carried in a bag. The accuser was Kalf, another domestic
of the palace. The poet being summoned into the royal presence,
indignantly denied the charge; and, in proof of his innocence, turned
the bag in question inside out. “After this charge,” said the king, “you
cannot both remain in the same house; let Kalf return to his farm.”
Turning to the poet, whose sincerity he probably wished to test, he
said, “Halfrod, thou must be my emissary to the uplands. There resides a
man called Thorleif the Wise, who will not be converted. Formerly, I
sent many persons to reason with him, but they had no influence over
him. Now, I send thee, with an order either to kill or blind him: take
with thee as many men as thou pleasest.”—“This commission,” replied the
poet, “scarcely becomes a freeman; yet I will go wherever thou
commandest. As my companion, I will take thy uncle Jostein, with
twenty-two horsemen.” Away they rode; and, on reaching the wood near to
the dwelling of Thorleif, they dismounted. Halfrod, who knew that the
number of his followers would be insufficient if force were required,
said to them, “I will go alone to Thorleif’s house; wait for me here
three days; and if, at the expiration of that time, you see me not,
return to your homes.” He would not permit even Jostein to accompany
him. His first care was to disguise himself so completely that no eye
could recognise him. In a mendicant garb, his face discoloured with the
appearance of squalid wretchedness, he took his staff, and, when near to
the house, began to move slowly and wearily, as if consumed alike by age
and misery. Thorleif was sitting on a bench, in front of his house; the
poet dragged himself along, and saluted him. “Who art thou?” was the
demand of Thorleif. Halfrod told a piteous tale of his wanderings, his
misery, his ill luck, his dangers: he had been so unfortunate as to be
seized by the domestics of king Olaf, and hurried into the royal
presence. As usual, conversion or death had been set before him; but he
had escaped, and had, ever since, been the sport of the elements. He
thought, however, that if he had continued rest, and good living, he
should be restored to a portion of his former vigour. “Fame says that
thou art liberal, and I hope thou wilt be so towards me.”—“Of the truth
of thy story,” replied Thorleif, “I cannot judge; but if thou art an old
man, thou must have seen much and learned much: but thy tongue runs
somewhat smoothly for one so decrepit.” If the poet was not old, he had
travelled enough to answer the questions of Thorleif. “There is a man,”
proceeded the latter, “at the court of Olaf, by name Halfrod, of whom I
have heard much.” Probably Thorleif began to suspect that the poet was
before him; he knew that he should not long remain in peace; that his
refusal to embrace the new religion must bring on his head the vengeance
of Olaf; for, he added, “No doubt the emissaries of Olaf will soon be
here.” In reply to his question concerning Halfrod, the pirate had a
ready answer. He then, as if wholly exhausted, leaned on the bench, and
the moment he saw Thorleif off his guard, he seized him with rapidity,
and with a giant’s strength; but Thorleif struggled, and they both
tumbled on the ground, the poet uppermost. In another moment one of
Thorleif’s eyes was out of its socket. “What I have long foreseen,” said
the pagan, “has now happened. I doubt not that the king has commanded
thee wholly to blind or to kill me; I pray thee, however, to leave me
the use of the other eye, and I will give thee rich presents.”—“I cannot
accept thy gifts,” replied the poet, who had more fits of generosity
than less tuneful minds, “but I will leave thee that eye, and take the
responsibility upon myself.” He then arose, and returned to his men in
the wood; nor did Thorleif display his misfortune until they were far
enough from the neighbourhood to defy pursuit. But if Halfrod was
sometimes generous, he was also vindictive. As they returned by the farm
of Kalf, he said to Josteim, “Let us kill this man!” The other refused;
but the poet rejoined, “It is not just that we should blind a good man,
yet leave this wretch uninjured.” Saying this, he went to Kalf, who was
throwing the seed into the ground, seized him, and put out one eye. On
reaching the palace, Olaf inquired what he had done. “I have made
Thorleif blind.”—“That is well,” rejoined the king; “show me the eyes!”
In the hurry of the moment, the poet produced the one of which he had
deprived Kalf. “This is not Thorleif’s eye,” observed the king; “thou
hast done more than I commanded thee.” The other was produced. “This
_is_ Thorleif’s eye,” said the king; “now tell me all that thou hast
done.” Halfrod did so, and was pardoned.[224]

[Sidenote: 999.]

The success which through life had attended this extraordinary man did
not continue to the close. On his separation from Gudruna, he sought the
hand of Sigrida, surnamed the Imperious,—the Swedish princess who had
destroyed Harald Grenske. She accepted him; many gifts passed between
them; and an interview was appointed on the limits of the two kingdoms.
Among the gifts was a huge ring of gold, which Olaf had taken from the
temple of Laden. Two goldsmiths declaring to her that the metal was not
pure, she caused the ring to be opened, and perceived that the interior
was of brass. Indignant at the discovery, she declared that it was only
one in many cases where she had been deceived by the king. Yet, at the
appointed time, she met him, and the marriage was arranged. But Olaf
insisted that she should renounce paganism, and receive the baptismal
rite; but she refused to do either; and observed, with some wisdom, that
as she should not interfere with his worship, she had a right to expect
that he would not constrain her conscience. But the royal preacher was
not fond of opposition; he called the queen by the most opprobrious
epithet,—worse than an old heathen hag,—threw his glove in her face, and
both separated for ever. Sigrida was not of a temper to bear this
insult, and her future life was given to revenge. When, on the death of
Gunhilda, daughter of Borislaf, a duke of Pomerania, Sweyn of Denmark,
became a widower, she accepted the hand of that monarch, with the view
of hastening her revenge. At the same time, Borislaf sought the hand of
Thyra, sister of Sweyn, a young and beautiful princess, who, however
reluctant, was forced by her brother to marry him. By this union she
became entitled to the domains which her sister-in-law, Gunhilda, had
enjoyed in Pomerania. But she detested the old pagan and his court.
During the first week of her nuptials she abstained from food; on the
eighth evening, accompanied by her foster-father, she hastened to a ship
which was lying off the coast, embarked, and was landed in Denmark.
Knowing, however, that, if her brother saw her, she should be sent back
to the court of Borislaf, she concealed herself until a vessel was found
to convey her to Norway. By Olaf she was well received; and, in a few
days, she became his bride. By what casuistry he, who preached Christian
morals to his subjects, reconciled to his conscience this double
adultery,—he, the husband of Gudruna, marrying the wife of Borislaf, or
how she, who also professed Christianity, consented to the match,—we
need not inquire. History, which deals with facts rather than motives,
has now to relate, that this scornful rejection of one princess, and
this illegal marriage to another, led to the destruction of Olaf.[225]

[Sidenote: 999 to 1000.]

No sooner was Thyra the wife of Olaf, than she began to complain of her
poverty. She had only what her husband was disposed to allow her, which,
though equal to her wants, did not suit her dignity as queen of Norway.
Yet, in Pomerania, she had ample possessions, which, if restored to her,
would enrich her, and make her no longer burdensome to him: Borislaf,
she was sure, would, if asked by Olaf, quietly surrender the domains. By
degrees, she prevailed on him to equip a fleet for the coast of
Pomerania. In the summer of the year 1000, he departed on this
expedition. On the confines of Sweden, he married his sister, Ingeborg,
to Rognevald, a prince of that nation; and then, proceeding on his
voyage, soon reached the coast of Pomerania. In the mean time, the arts
of Sigrida prevailed, and Sweyn resolved to join the enemies of Olaf.
Actuated by ambition, no less than by the hope of revenge, he wished to
obtain some portion of a kingdom which, before the time of Halfdan the
Black, had frequently been subdued by his ancestors; and to punish Olaf
for presuming to marry his sister without his consent. Nor had Sigrida
much difficulty in prevailing on her near kinsman, Olaf of Sweden, to
join her husband in the war. Eric, the exiled son of Hako the jarl, whom
Olaf had succeeded, and who had always found a welcome home in Denmark
and Sweden, acceded to the confederation. But a more formidable opponent
still was Sigvald, a pirate chief of Jomsberg, whose close connection
with the Danish court has been related.[226] Sigvald was the more
dangerous from his treachery. So far from openly declaring war against
the Norwegian, he met that monarch, for whom he professed the highest
esteem, and whom it was his object to detain on the coast of Pomerania,
until the united forces of Denmark and Sweden arrived to crush him. At
length, when he knew the hostile fleets were in the Danish islands, he
persuaded Olaf to return, the office of pilot being intrusted to him.
With his own ships—which were eleven in number—in the van, he led the
Norwegian fleet into the midst of the enemy, who lay concealed near the
present Stralsund. Not all the ships, however, were there; some had
taken to the open sea; so that Olaf, with only a portion of his
armament, was suddenly assailed by overwhelming numbers of the enemy.
With his usual gallantry he defended himself, and great was the carnage
which he made among the hostile ranks. But the contest was too unequal;
the valiant champions of Norway fell round their master; the Long
Serpent, as the ship of Olaf was called, was boarded by the son of Hako;
a desperate struggle on the deck followed; and when few of the
Norwegians remained alive, Olaf, with three or four of them, plunged
into the sea, and was seen no more. Such, at least, is the relation of
Snorro, which is supported by reason; but the two Icelandic biographers
of this king—Gunlaug and Oddur—insist that he saved himself by swimming,
repaired to the coast of Vinland, in Pomerania, was cured of his
numerous wounds by the sister of his first wife, went on a pilgrimage to
Rome, and, after many years, died in the Holy Land.[227]

From the space which we have devoted to the exploits of Olaf, his
character may be easily inferred. The sagas add, that he exceeded all
men in two bodily qualities, which are very rarely combined,—strength
and agility. On one occasion he is said to have climbed a steep
precipice to extricate one of his courtiers, who had ascended to a great
height, and could not move upwards or downwards: taking him under one
arm, the king descended with him safely to the plain below. With both
hands he was equally expert. One of his amusements was to toss three
sharp swords into the air, and catch each by the handle as it descended,
and, without intermission, again to throw them, singly, far above his
head. This game is supposed to be of Indian origin; and, probably, Olaf
is the only king that ever played it. He was fond of poetry, especially
that which commemorated the deeds of heroes; he was liberal to all his
dependents, accessible to all the world, jovial in temper. His attention
to commerce was one of his most useful qualities; and whatever arts he
had seen practised in other countries he introduced into his own. He
founded, at the mouth of the river Nid, a city which was long called
Nidross, but the name was afterwards superseded by that of Drontheim,
from the province that contained it. In ship-building, navigation, and
the arts dependent on them, he had no equal. But, to the close of life,
he was a barbarian: he indulged in habitual drunkenness; and he shed
blood so arbitrarily as to prove that at no time, except when an
assembly was actually occupied in the public business, was he restrained
by law. He was, in the truest sense of the word, a despot. Though a
milder sovereign could not have so completely triumphed over
heathenism,—and he was, therefore, of incalculable benefit to his
country, in removing an insuperable barrier to civilisation and
morals,—this fact does not in the least atone for his ferocity. In many
points, he bears great resemblance to Peter the Great of Russia; though,
in all good and great qualities, he was inferior to that monarch. In his
reign many important voyages were undertaken; and to these we shall
advert in the chapter on the maritime expeditions of the Northmen.

[Sidenote: 1000 to 1012.]

On the death of Olaf, the two allied kings hastened to divide Norway,
or, at least, the greater portion of it, between them. Their lieutenants
were the two sons of Hako the jarl, who had assisted them so effectually
in the defeat of Olaf. The administration of these princes is mentioned
with respect by Norwegian and Icelandic writers. Though some of the
local jarls were oppressive, _they_ were no tyrants; and, though
Christians by profession, they did not persecute, but left the progress
of their faith to time and reason. Twelve years they exercised the
government, when Eric received a summons from his liege superior, Sweyn,
king of Denmark, to aid that monarch in the final conquest of
England.[228] Leaving his son Hako, then about seventeen years of age,
with the administration of the government, and confiding the youth to
the mature counsels of Einar the Archer, he sailed, with all the force
he had been able to collect, for the coast of England, never to return.
But a rival was now to appear on the scene, before whom his own power
and his brother Sweyn’s was to dissolve into air.[229]

In a former page[230], we have related the tragical fate of Harald
Grenske, who did not live to see the birth of his son, Olaf the Saint.
Fearing the vengeance of Hako the jarl, then ruler of Norway, Asta, the
widow of Harald, no sooner heard of his death than she repaired to her
father’s house in the uplands, where she brought forth her son. Under
her father’s roof the child felt not the loss of a parent. Though she
married a second time, his education was not neglected. Sigurd Syr, the
second husband, was an easy, good-natured man, whose time was wholly
occupied by his immense estates, and who left the instruction of his
step-son to one better qualified for the task,—Rane, one of the
favourite chiefs of the deceased Harald. As Olaf was destined to be a
saint, miracles enough are recorded of his infancy, and of the period
which preceded it. These, as we are arrived at the historic period, we
shall omit. Great praise is bestowed on the precocious talents of young
Olaf. To us they appear indicative of the spoiled child. One day, says
Snorro, Sigurd, being desirous to ride into the country, commanded him
to saddle one of his horses,—a menial office, but one that the noblest
youths were accustomed to discharge. He brought a goat instead of a
horse or mule, properly accoutred, and with provoking officiousness
proposed to assist him in mounting. “Thus it always is!” observed
Sigurd; “any command of mine becomes the subject of ridicule.” In the
military exercises of the age Olaf was a proficient. He could bend the
bow, or dart the spear, or handle the sword, with as much dexterity and
as much strength as any youth of the province; and in swimming he had
few rivals. Nor was he less attentive to the manufacture and repair of
armour,—a very necessary accomplishment to a warrior, and especially to
a king, at a time when smiths were not numerous and were seldom at hand.
Of Christianity he acquired as much knowledge as could be expected, when
the priests, themselves, were ignorant of its leading doctrines, and
when its purest rites were alloyed by superstition and heathenism. His
godfather was no other than Olaf Trygveson, after whom he was

[Sidenote: 1007 to 1014.]

When Olaf had reached his twelfth year, which was the seventh after the
death of his godfather, he was sent on his first piratical expedition,
under the care of Rane, his preceptor. On this occasion he assumed the
title of _king_, which was given to all sea captains who were sprung
from a royal family. The coast of Denmark and Sweden were the first to
experience his ravages; yet why in time of peace—when in addition Norway
was dependent on both kingdoms—this should be permitted, is not
explained. We do not read that either Eric or his brother Sweyn
attempted to throw off the yoke. But at this lawless period, when
pirates of all nations, from Ireland to Russia, swarmed on every coast,
it would have been impossible to discern the author of the depredations,
and, if they had been known, to punish them. Besides, the subjects of
one power were as guilty as those of another; and where both kings were
equally injured and equally aggressive, neither had a right to complain.
To Sweden, in particular, Olaf bore a strong hatred. In that country his
father had been murdered, and revenge was his first duty. On the
southern coast he fought his first battle,—not against the Swedes, but
against other pirates. These he subdued; and, emboldened by his success,
he succeeded to the eastern shores, disembarked in the vicinity of lake
Meler, and recommenced his depredations. To chastise his presumption,
the Swedish king put an armament in motion; but he escaped, and returned
home in triumph. When spring arrived, he renewed his piracy on the coast
of Sweden, and extended it to that of Finland. In the latter country he
experienced, say his biographers, what so many had experienced before
him,—the influence of magic. Missiles from unseen hands were showered
upon his little band: with his spoil he retreated to the shore, where,
to prevent his embarkation, a furious tempest awaited him; but he
sailed, and his perseverance triumphed.—As he grew in years, he
naturally grew in enterprise. The following season witnessed his
depredations in Jutland; the next, in Friesland; the next, in England.
But he did not come, we are told, to fight against the Saxons; the Danes
were the objects of his hostility; and, as the ally of Ethelred, he
assailed them with vigour. It appears, however, that he was sometimes
the ally of prince Canute, the son of Sweyn. Probably he was ready to
transfer his services from one prince to another, as the tide of victory
turned, or as he obtained a greater reward from one than from another.
He appears to have been one of the ferocious monsters who, in 1012,
destroyed Canterbury, and its good archbishop St. Elphege.[232] “He was
a leader of the army,” says Snorro, “which consumed that city.” From
this exploit few could have predicted his future saintship; but saints
then, as more recently, were easily made. In these troubled times, his
object was to collect all the plunder he could—whether from pagans or
Christians little concerned him. In France as in Finland, in Kent as in
Jutland, in Ireland as in Pomerania, his sword was equally active and
equally pitiless.[233]

[Sidenote: 1014.]

After the death of jarl Eric, and Sweyn king of Denmark, Olaf ventured
to Norway. As a prince, he could not be without ambition; as a piratical
chief, he had based his trust in his own valour: and the present
conjuncture he justly considered as a favourable one for his views. Eric
was no more; Sweyn, his brother, and Hako, his son, were not descendants
of the revered Harald Harfager; Erling, a brother-in-law of Sweyn, was a
tyrant; and the Norwegians were dissatisfied with a foreign yoke. Yet in
this voyage, in which two vessels only accompanied him, his motive must
have been, not conquest, but the desire of ascertaining the state of the
popular mind. He landed on an island on the western coast, where,
hearing that Hako was in his neighbourhood, with one vessel only, he
resolved on the bold enterprise of making that chief captive. It was
easily carried into effect, and Hako was brought into the presence of
Olaf, who admired the unusual comeliness of his person. “All that I have
heard of your bodily qualities,” said Olaf, “is, I perceive, true; but
your family is again doomed to be the sport of fortune.” “We have always
been so,” was the reply; “nor we nor our enemies have been her
favourites; and so strange are the vicissitudes of this life, that, for
anything I know, we may again be in the ascendant.” “If I pardon thee,”
added the king, “wilt thou engage never to bear arms against me,—never
to revisit Norway?” The jarl promised, and was suffered to depart, with
such of his companions as chose to accompany him. By Canute of Denmark,
then in England, he was well received, and intrusted with a share of the
administration. Olaf, therefore, was rid of one rival; but Sweyn and
Erling still remained. His next object was to visit his native region,
where his kindred and friends were ready to receive him. As he passed
along many individuals swore fidelity to him; but the majority waited
the issue of events. The manner in which his mother received him may
illustrate the domestic economy of the times. Hearing of his approach,
she commanded her servants, male and female, to prepare everything as
for a distinguished guest. Four women prepared the hall of entertainment
with benches, chairs, and cushions; two strewed the floor with rushes;
two laid out a large side-table with drinking cups and horns, and a
two-handled jug filled with mead; two laid out the table; two brought in
the dishes that would be required; two drew the beer; two were sent to
fetch such things as were not in the house; and the rest of the
servants, of both sexes, were occupied in the back court-yard. To
Sigurd, who was occupied in farming, such garments were sent as became a
king, and with them a horse magnificently caparisoned. Four domestics
went to invite guests for the entertainment, such as should do the more
honour to Olaf. The rest of the servants,—those, we suppose, whose duty
it was to wait on the guests, were commanded to put on their gayest
apparel, and “such as had none were to be supplied by those who had.”
The manners of the age and the character of the man are equally visible
in the reply of Sigurd to the messengers of his wife, when urged to
appear with becoming splendour. “Asta has before now received her
friends with much pomp, but never has she showed much respect to mine.
On all occasions she exhibits as much ambition as if the greatest
advantage were to be derived from her display; and I suppose we shall be
required to pay the youth the same honours at his departure as at his
arrival.” He then alluded to the charge of the entertainment,—to the
umbrage which the kings of Denmark and Sweden might take at it,—and
concluded by hoping that all would end better than he feared. But Sigurd
was a prudent man, and he exhibited no such spirit in the presence of
his wife. Knowing that he must obey, he sat down while one servant
pulled off his agricultural vestments; another helped him to draw on a
costly pair of boots; a third fastened the spurs; another held his
mantle and cloak: the addition of a helmet and sword transformed the
honest farmer into a noble baron. But he must not alone approach the son
of his wife. From his peasantry, hitherto busy in the labours of the
harvest, he selected thirty as a kind of a body guard, and with them he
rode in silent dignity towards his villa.[234]

[Sidenote: 1014.]

When Sigurd drew near his house, he perceived the ensign of Olaf
advancing in the opposite direction. The prince, followed by a hundred
companions, all in magnificent costume, he kindly saluted, and invited
to share his hospitality. The mother received the royal guest with a
kiss; and freely offered him and his followers all the worldly substance
that she had,—her house, and lands, and servants. Thanking both parents,
Olaf, with his chiefs, was led into the hall. The feast was prepared,
and Sigurd, who was invested with the regal title, ascended the chief
seat, which was at the head of the table, and was much higher than the
rest. But Olaf did not visit his parents for idle parade; and in a day
or two after his arrival, he invited Sigurd, his mother, Asta, and Rane,
his preceptor, to counsel him as to his future proceedings. In a
discourse of some length, he expatiated on his past dangers, on the
rights of his family, on his own claims to both the inheritance of his
father and of Olaf Trygveson; and expressed his resolution to obtain
empire, or to die. Sigurd, like a prudent man, replied, that for one so
young, and with so few resources, he had entered on a rash path; that to
defy such men as the kings of Sweden and Denmark was not the part of
wisdom; that little dependence was to be placed on popular applause;
that the present attempt was above his abilities and his means. He
concluded, however, by observing that, if the other chiefs of the
uplands—kings as he called them—were favourably disposed to his cause,
he would not be wanting in the support which his fortune might enable
him to give; and he even proposed to accompany Olaf in a visit to those
chiefs. Asta, whose turn it was next to advise, spoke like a true
descendant of fair-haired Harald. She advised him to persevere in his
undertaking; and added, that she would rather see him in possession of
empire, were he to enjoy it briefly, as the son of Trygve, than that he
should grow old, a powerless king, like Sigurd. When this council was
over, Olaf and his father-in-law went to meet the upland kings. “There
were many at this period,” says Snorro,—a proof that the destruction of
the supreme power by the death of Olaf Trygveson was hurrying the
kingdom into all the anarchy from which it had been extricated by Harald
Harfager. The sway of Eric and Sweyn, sons of Hako, had been so mild, or
rather so loose, that the country was become again the prey of numerous
independent chiefs.[235]

[Sidenote: 1014.]

In the assembly of upland kings, Sigurd showed that he was no enemy to
the elevation of his step-son; on the contrary, he exalted the valour,
the enterprise, the success of Olaf, in so many parts of Europe; and
besought them to assist him alike by their arms and counsel. The first
chief who replied was not favourable to the proposed enterprise; his
motive was evident: he feared that if a monarch of vigour, such as Olaf
promised to be, ascended the throne of Norway, there would soon be an
end of the provincial kings. The next voted for the insurrection. If
they must have a chief ruler, better was one of their own country and of
their own blood, than a Dane or a Swede. In the end, many of the
assembled princes, but not the majority, offered him their aid on the
condition of his respecting their existing privileges. The states of the
upland province were next assembled: the claims of Olaf were laid before
them; the chiefs recommended it to their support; and with one voice he
was acknowledged monarch of Norway. With three hundred armed followers,
he proceeded into the neighbouring districts; and he everywhere found
the people willing to acknowledge him. He now hastened into Drontheim,
the suffrage of which, as he well knew, would influence the rest of
Norway. At his approach, the arrow was sent forth, and the rustics
assembled in arms; but he had the address to draw them over to his own
party. Though naturally furious and irritable, he had sufficient command
over himself to control his bad passions; and every one that approached
him left him with a full conviction of his exceeding good nature. As he
drew near Nidaros,—the present city of Drontheim,—Sweyn, the son of
Hako, prepared a vessel to leave the port. At this moment, two of Olaf’s
vessels were entering, and Sweyn, to avoid recognition, steered farther
to the north, cut down some trees which were near the coast, placed them
by the sides of his vessel in such a manner that he could not be seen,
and boldly returned through the bay, on his way to the north. The men of
Olaf saw the vessel, and, believing it to be a cargo of timber, made no
effort to detain it. Landing at Froste, the seat of his government,
which he preferred to Drontheim, he counselled with Eric about the steps
which were now to be taken,—whether he should collect forces and risk
the fate of a battle, or have recourse to policy. The result was, that
he should, if possible, wait until the yule festival, when so many
thousands would be gathered together, and made the umpires between him
and Olaf. But the course of events hurried both parties on; they
collected troops, and with a body of two thousand proceeded towards
Drontheim. About the middle of the night Olaf was awakened by the news
that his outposts had discovered a strong hostile column approach.
Hastily rising from bed, the king took all the provisions he could find,
and, accompanied by a small body of followers, went on board the vessels
which lay in the river. He had scarcely stood out to sea when the army
of Sweyn entered the city and set it on fire.[236]

[Sidenote: 1015.]

This, to Olaf, was an unexpected disaster, and it was one that ordinary
prudence might have avoided. He now was under the humiliating necessity
of retiring to the uplands to acquaint his kindred that he had been
driven from his capital by the son of Hako. But he was better received
than he expected or deserved. Several of the chiefs supplied him with
men and provisions; and Sigurd Syr, his step-father, showed as much zeal
in his cause as any of his blood, and more effectually served him. When
spring approached he repaired to Tunsberg, where new forces daily joined
him. On his part, Sweyn, during the whole winter, was no less active in
raising ships and men, and he was equally successful. The day before
Palm Sunday, the two armaments were off the coast of Vikia, near to each
other. One hundred vessels accompanied Olaf; those of his enemies were
not inferior in number. Early on the morning of Sunday, Olaf, with the
banner of the cross displayed from his own ship, led the attack. The
battle was long and doubtfully contested: if Sweyn had a larger force,
that of Olaf was better disciplined. At length victory declared for the
king; many of the enemy submitted; the rest fled. Among the latter was
Sweyn, who hastened to the court of his father-in-law, the king of
Sweden, to solicit reinforcements; while Erling remained to harass the
victor. From Sweden the jarl never returned. The king offered him
troops; but he preferred a peaceful government in that country, until
the course of events in Norway were more favourable to his views. After
a piratical expedition to the coast of Gardarik, he fell sick and died.
From this time, Olaf may be more truly called the monarch of Norway. The
people of Drontheim, who had been much attached to the jarl, now
transferred their allegiance to him. Erling, indeed, held out another
year, and some of the smaller chiefs were tardy in the payment of
tribute; but when he submitted, there remained only the two foreign
powers who could trouble the king.[237]

[Sidenote: 1016.]

After these successes Olaf began the work of legal reformation. The laws
which Hako the Good had introduced were often neglected; some of them
were no longer applicable, and new ones were demanded by the necessities
of the people. The manner in which he proceeded in this object evinces
his good sense. At a certain hour he met the wisest of his people as
well as the noblest,—the low as well as the high,—clergy and laity,—all
in whose judgment he could place any confidence. He then caused one of
Hako’s laws to be recited, and asked their opinion of its justice no
less than its fitness. Sometimes it was rejected; but generally some
improvements were made in it by common consent. At other times he
propounded new ones; but it may be doubted whether any of them were
obligatory until they had received the formal sanction of the Thing.
Ecclesiastical matters next occupied the royal attention. Such portions
of the canon law as were applicable to the circumstances of a barbarous,
half-pagan kingdom were gradually introduced. His great object was to
abolish what yet remained of paganism—a religion which had been
considerably observed since the death of Olaf Trygveson. He would not
tolerate it; wherever his jurisdiction extended he caused the temples to
be destroyed, and rude wooden churches to be built on their ruins. Nor
was he regardless of the spiritual wants of the Orkneys, Iceland, and
other dependencies of his kingdom. To them he despatched missionaries,
and inculcated on all the necessity of zeal, of perseverance, of
unwearied industry. His own conduct was, in this respect, a lesson to
his people. He rose early, heard matins and mass before he entered on
public business or broke his fast. It was his regular attendance on
public worship which, more than any other cause, led to his subsequent
canonisation. He was, indeed, the first of the Norwegian kings that
punctually observed the ordinances of religion. Hako the Good was as
well disposed; but Hako, as we have shown, was compelled to revert into
idolatry. Olaf, the son of Trygve, was too fond of the mead cup, and of
continuing his potations into the silence of night, to attend early
prayers. The present Olaf was, therefore, the first whom the clergy
could decently canonise. Not that he was without his faults. He was
vindictive, hasty, intemperate, exacting the severest vengeance from
those who disputed his commands, and not sparing of human blood. Yet he
was affable, indulgent to his dependents, and liberal to such as he had
reason to esteem.[238]

[Sidenote: 1016.]

That the kings of Sweden and Denmark should make no effort to recover
their Norwegian possessions, was not to be expected. In about a year
after Olaf’s accession, two ambassadors, with a suitable retinue,
arrived at Drontheim from the former kingdom. On their way, however, and
immediately after passing the mountain barrier, between the two states,
they had endeavoured to prevail on the rustic landholders to pay
tribute, not to Olaf, but to the Swedish king. Little do the majority of
any country care for the reigning sovereign; the rustics of Norway no
more than any other people. They professed their willingness to pay the
foreign king, provided Olaf would not require the same taxes a second
time. This conduct was treasonable. One of the ambassadors felt that it
was so, and proposed that they should return into Sweden; but,
constrained by the other, both proceeded to Olaf’s court. Here the same
man acted still more insolently: he advised the king to become the
vassal of his Swedish namesake, for no inferior step could screen him
from the vengeance of a monarch so much greater than he. The king so far
restrained himself as to bid them depart and announce to their master
his willingness to meet him on the frontiers of the two countries. They
left the palace, but soon returned, demanding, with much insolence, to
see the monarch, who was then at table. The porters were commanded to
drive them from the door. This conduct, which could not have been borne
even by a private individual, was deeply offensive to Olaf. When he
heard that, instead of retiring into Sweden, one of them remained in the
provinces to collect tribute, he sent a small armed band in pursuit of
them; and the ambassador, with his suite, were suspended from a public
gallows. To guard himself against the vengeance of his rival, Olaf now
went through the whole of his kingdom, holding assemblies of the people
in every province, receiving the homage of all, propounding new laws,
and laying more solidly the foundations of the new church. Finding that
the districts bordering on Sweden were claimed by that power,—that the
limits of the two kingdoms were not observed by it,—he slew the governor
of West Gothland, the lieutenant of the Swedish king, who had been long
harassing the Norwegian subjects of the frontier. To prevent all future
mistake as to that frontier, he caused a ditch to be dug, and a parallel
mound to be raised along the disputed line; and, to protect the
colonists, he remained there with a considerable force during the whole
of the following winter. To avenge these insults, the Swedish king began
to arm. He threatened to subdue the whole of Norway, and to drive the
sea king into exile.[239]

[Sidenote: 1017.]

The proposals for peace originated with Olaf of Norway; but they were
long destined to have no effect: the wrath of the Swedish Olaf was too
great to be allayed by ordinary negotiations. In 1016, an ambassador
departed on this mission; but so unfavourable were the accounts which he
received of the Swedish monarch’s disposition, that he proceeded no
farther than the house of Rognevald, one of the most peaceful of the
jarls, or provincial governors of the kingdom. But he had an Icelander
with him, Hialt by name, who offered to undertake the embassy, and to
brave the wrath of the Swede. Hialt was a poet, and his profession was
esteemed at every court of the north. Accompanied by another poet, and
also, like himself, a wit, he hastened to the Swedish capital. By Olaf
they were well received, because he knew not the object of their
journey. Their love of the cup was so tempered by discretion, that,
while they were the boon companions of royalty,—in those days every poet
was,—they never lost sight of the respect which it always exacts. After
some days, such was his familiarity with the king that Hialt alluded to
the subject,—not as one that _he_ had undertaken, but as one in which
the interests of Sweden were deeply involved. A peremptory command to be
silent afforded little hope of success: he was told that the name of
Olaf the Fat (such was the epithet of the Norwegian monarch) was not
even whispered at the Swedish court. But Hialt persevered. Knowing that
a matrimonial alliance with the royal family of Sweden was the highest
ambition of the Norwegian Olaf, he solicited the interest of Ingigerda,
daughter of the Swede. The princess readily accepted both the proffered
hand of Olaf and the delicate task of turning her father’s mind to the
subject of peace. One day, when Olaf was in high spirits,—which, to do
him justice, was frequent,—she alluded to the policy of leaving Norway
to its own kings. The people were an obstinate people, much attached to
their own regal line, and if the conquest were effected, it would not be
enduring; while on the opposite coast of Finland were regions which had
formerly belonged to Sweden, and which might be easily subdued. The lady
was rendered eloquent by the hope of a husband; but she was immediately
silenced by the king. “So, Ingigerda, thou wouldst see me lose Norway
that thou mightest become the bride of this Olaf the Fat? That day will
never arrive; I will conquer Norway.” Not daring to renew the subject,
she retired to acquaint Hialt with the ill success of her interference.
They could only await the course of events, in the hope that the states
of the kingdom which had no private resentments to gratify would require
the king to make peace with his rival. Rognevald, at the suit of
Ingigerda, and from his attachment to Norway, where most of his kindred
abode, undertook to mention the subject in the approaching assembly at
Upsal; and he had the address to interest in his behalf the venerable
Thorgnyr, the oracle of the law, the most influential of the Swedish
chiefs. After the assembly had been legally opened, and some ordinary
business transacted, the Norwegian ambassador rose, and besought the
attention of king and states while he laid before them the mission with
which he had been intrusted by his royal master. But before he could
explain it, the angry monarch arose, and sternly commanded him to be
silent. The free-born nobles of Sweden were not thus to lose their
privilege of consulting on the affairs of the monarchy. Rognevald arose,
and dwelt at large on the present state of their relations with Norway.
So long as the frontier was disputed, West Gothland would be exposed to
depredations; so long as the two kingdoms were thus hostile, there could
be no prosperity for Sweden. Olaf the Fat was desirous of peace; he had
sent ambassadors for that purpose; and, in proof of his sincerity,
besought the hand of the princess Ingigerda. At the close of his speech,
the monarch arose, and sharply upbraided Rognevald for his advocacy of
the interests of an enemy. “To this,” observed the king, “he has been
instigated by his wife, a Norwegian lady, and of the same family as Olaf
the Fat. Rognevald, as the friend, perhaps the ally, of Sweden’s enemy,
was a traitor, and ought to suffer the punishment of one,—to be deprived
alike of his dignity and possessions, and banished the realm.” The
irritated monarch then resumed his seat, but only to hear what would
displease him the more. The venerable Thorgnyr, whose beard descended to
his knees, whose wisdom was celebrated throughout the north, and whose
presence was so majestic as to inspire every one with reverence, was the
next speaker. The assembly were hushed as he rose; and such is the
ascendancy of wisdom, when associated with virtue and rank, that every
one felt that _his_ opinion would decide the controversy. They rose at
the same time,—an unconscious tribute of respect to this Nestor. His
speech, illustrative as it is of the times, and of Swedish freedom, we
give entire. “The kings of the Swedes are not what they once were. My
grandfather could remember Eric the son of Emund, when in the vigour of
manhood. That king, each summer, undertook some warlike expedition,
adding to his empire Finland, Carelia, Esthonia, Courland, and other
regions,—exploits of which the lofty mounds visible at this day are
triumphant proofs; yet Eric was not too proud to be advised; nor did he
refuse to hear every one that addressed him. My father was long the
companion and friend of Biorn, whose character he thoroughly understood,
whose reign was uninterruptedly flourishing,—no part of the kingdom
escaping his salutary care; yet Biorn was indulgent to his friends, easy
of access, and always inclined to good advice. And I remember Eric the
Victorious, whose companion I was in so many expeditions; he enlarged
the bounds of the kingdom, and nobly defended what he had thus acquired;
yet _he_ was always ready to follow good counsels. Now we have a king
whose negligence has occasioned the loss of some tributary regions; yet
he would leave to no one the freedom of speaking any other thing than
what he is pleased to hear; and to check the honest use of the tongue is
his constant aim. More ambitious than his valiant predecessors, he
really aspires to the conquest of all Norway, and thus disturbs the
public tranquillity. King Olaf! it is the wish of the country that thou
shouldst make peace with Olaf the Fat, and give him thy daughter
Ingigerda. If it be thy wish to recover the possessions which thine
ancestors once held in the east, we are all ready to accompany thee in
the expedition. If, on the other hand, in regard to Norway, thou art
unwilling to follow the advice we have given thee, know that we will no
longer tolerate thy frequent violations of the public tranquillity, and
of the constitutional laws; with our swords we will fall upon thee, and
give thee to destruction. Such was the custom of our forefathers, who
were greater than we. In the assembly of Mula, did they not cast five
kings into the deep pit, because those princes were, as thou art to us,
insultingly proud to their people? Choose, therefore, and instantly
choose, whether thou wilt follow our counsel!” This bold speech—so
characteristic of the Swedish nobles in their best days—was received
with tumultuous applause by the assembled multitude; sword and shield
rang together, and every man was ready to follow the bidding of the
venerable asserter of his rights. The humbled monarch rose; his will was
that of his people; his predecessors had always left matters of grave
import to their decision; and the present business should be left
entirely to them. In a moment the tumult was hushed; the chiefs of the
assembly, with the sanction of the rest, decreed peace with Norway,
named the ambassadors who were to be sent, and declared that Ingigerda
should be the wife of Olaf the Fat. Rognevald was intrusted with the
care of betrothing; and the princess sent many gifts, as pledges of her
affection, to her intended husband.[240]

[Sidenote: 1013.]

Omnipotent as was the authority of the states over the king of Sweden,
when they were dissolved he was again supreme. He resolved to evade the
performance of his pledge; and, instead of proceeding with his daughter
to the confines of the two kingdoms, to deliver her into the arms of
Olaf, he forebore even to mention the journey, nor would he allow others
to mention it in his presence. He was, above all, indignant with the
jarl Rognevald, to whom he attributed his humiliation at the recent
meeting of the states,—for Thorgnyr was above his vengeance. At length
the anxiety of Ingigerda could not be suppressed; and she resolved,
whatever the cost, to learn from her father when he intended to commence
his journey. One day, as he was returning from his favourite sport of
hawking, and, from unusual success, was in high spirits, she advanced to
meet him, and congratulated him. “Didst thou ever know a monarch,”
demanded he, “whom so much good fortune attended in so short a time?”
“Truly,” replied the maiden, “this morning’s sport has been successful;
thou hast taken five birds: but was not Olaf of Norway the better
sportsman, seeing that, in one morning also, he took five kings, and
annexed their possessions to his own?”[241] The father dismounted, then
looking at her, said, “Listen, Ingigerda! Whatever thy affection for
this fat king of Norway, he will never be mate of thine!”—In vain did
Olaf advance to the frontiers to receive his bride; neither of her nor
of her father could he obtain the least tidings; and, in great
mortification, he returned to Drontheim. Rognevald, whom Ingigerda
acquainted with the disposition of the Swede, laid her communication
before the king of Norway, whose rage was equal to his disappointment.
His first impulse was to lay waste the Gothlands; but from this step he
was dissuaded by his counsellors, who justly observed, that this kind of
vengeance was unworthy of a monarch; that he should wait for the
assembly of his states, demand forces equal to the enterprise, and then
march into Sweden to obtain satisfaction for his wrongs. When he heard
that the princess had been promised by Olaf to Jarislaf, duke of
Holmgard, he would assuredly have instantly marched, had not another
consideration detained him. Olaf had another daughter, Astridda by name,
who was then on a visit to the princely Rognevald. In his anxiety to
preserve harmony between kings with whom he was so closely connected,
the jarl one day asked a favourite poet and emissary of Olaf whether his
master would be willing to receive the hand of that princess, in the
place of Ingigerda. If he would, there was the lady, and the marriage
might be celebrated without consulting her father. The poet immediately
repaired to Olaf, praised the beauty, the wit, the accomplishments of
Astridda, who was in no respect inferior to her sister, and informed him
that the princess would be ready to marry him without the consent of her
father. Olaf accepted the proposal; but his motive was the vexation he
should cause the Swedish king, rather than attachment to the princess.
The poet was sent for her; and in a short time, accompanied by
Rognevald, she passed into Norway. The sponsal ceremony was immediately
performed; and, in a few days, it was followed by their nuptials. This
proceeding of Rognevald would have brought ruin on his head, had not
circumstances befriended him. Olaf, anxious that his daughter Ingigerda
should marry Jaroslaf, endeavoured to obtain her consent. As she had
lost all hope of the Norwegian, now her brother-in-law, and was offended
at the manner in which he had treated her, she no longer resisted,
provided she might select, as her companion and friend, any Swedish
chief she wished to reside with her at the court of Holmgard. The
promise was given, and she selected Rognevald. Olaf was indignant, but
he could not revoke his pledge; and he only added that, if the odious
jarl did not appear in his sight, and embarked without his knowledge, he
would not forbid the appointment. Thus Ingigerda sailed to Gardarik, and
became the wife of Jaroslaf. Hitherto she had not seen Olaf of Norway;
but they were destined to meet many years after this event.[242]

[Sidenote: 1018.]

The conduct of the Swedish Olaf was resented by the states in their next
assembly. He had not given his daughter to the Norwegian; he had not
made peace with Norway; and, notwithstanding the recent marriage of Olaf
with the Swedish princess, West Gothland was in hourly danger of war. In
the next diet, the proceedings were stormy. A powerful body raised to
the throne _Jacob Omund_ or rather _Emund_, the son of Olaf, a child
scarcely twelve years of age. In great consternation, the Swedish king
proposed to meet his rival, and to make peace on a double basis. The two
kings did meet; and the Swede, who had been taught a lesson, was not
merely affable, but kind. To set at rest the dispute between them, in
regard to the boundary, they agreed to leave it to the chance of the
dice; and the Norwegian was the winner in the game. From this day to the
death of Olaf, there was no war between the two kingdoms. The Swedish
Olaf was too anxious to gratify his subjects to oppose their interests
or wishes. They allowed him to retain the sceptre, but a portion of his
kingdom was placed under the administration of his son.[243]

On his part, Olaf of Norway was no less desirous of peace. The internal
state of his kingdom was far from satisfactory. Many of his subjects,
however they might outwardly conform to Christianity, were still pagans,
and practised their rites in secret. In a tour through the uplands, in
the summer of 1018, he discovered many whom the severity of his
predecessor and his own had rendered apostates;—many who had been forced
to receive baptism, but who, on the departure of their tyrant, had
insensibly relapsed to their ancient faith. Great was his wrath at the
discovery, and he evinced it in a manner worthy of the age. Some of the
delinquents—those, probably, who had any substance to fill his
coffers—he banished for ever; the hands and feet of some he mutilated;
others he blinded; some he beheaded; others he suspended from lofty
gibbets. In short, says the historian, “he did not spare one that
refused to serve God.” These enormities were not to be borne. Even those
who had conscientiously embraced Christianity revolted at them; and, as
many had relations and friends whom no argument could induce to forsake
their hereditary errors, a spirit of discontent, a smothered cry for
vengeance, was soon heard in the lonely defiles of the mountains. Five
upland kings,—for the royal title had been left to them by Olaf, and, we
may infer, so also had their religion,—Ruric of Raumarik, Gudred of the
Dales, Ring of Hedmark, with the kings of Hadaland and Ringarik, entered
into a secret conspiracy against his authority and life. _They_ had not
been injured by him; but their friends and kindred had been his victims:
and who could say how long they should be spared? It was, at length,
agreed to fall upon him in his passage through Hedmark. Sending spies to
watch his motions, they hastened to a point on the road through which he
had to pass, and named its vicinity as the place where their own
followers should join them. However safe this secret might have been, so
long as it was confined to the kings alone, when communicated to the
inferior chiefs, whose co-operation was necessary, it could scarcely
remain undivulged. Ketil, one of the chiefs whom Olaf had befriended,
proceeded to meet the king, and acquaint him with the danger before him.
At a solitary house near the lake Miors, in the higher regions of
Raumarik, Olaf was acquainted with the meditated deed. With about 400
men, he instantly departed for the villa where the five kings were, and
arrived there long before their followers. Approaching it at midnight,
he caused it to be surrounded by his little band, so as to prevent
ingress or egress; and, at the early dawn, all were in his power. Ruric,
the soul of the conspiracy, was doomed to the loss of both eyes; Gudred,
to the loss of his tongue; the remaining three were exiled, on their
promise never to revisit Norway. The inferior actors did not escape
punishment; some being mutilated, others exiled; but the majority, who
had only acted in obedience to their chiefs, were pardoned. The domains
which all had held since the days of Olaf Trygveson, were next invaded,
and annexed to the crown. If this was a cruel, it was a politic step; it
rendered Olaf not merely the nominal, but the only, king of Norway.[244]

[Sidenote: 1019.]

Of the two kings who were thus retained in the country, Olaf feared
Ruric only, whom he always took with him. Ruric had his servants, his
regal apparel, and his high seat at the table. He was noted for his
revengeful disposition, and for his taciturnity. His domestics were so
ill-treated that they refused to remain with him, until Sweyn, one of
his own kindred, and formerly his vassal, was placed near him. It was
now his constant object to prevail on Sweyn to join him in the murder of
Olaf, and the man at length consented. One evening, as the king was
going to vespers, Sweyn took his station at the gate, with a sword
concealed beneath his cloak. But he had not courage to strike; and his
agitation was such as to attract the notice of his intended victim. “Why
that troubled countenance, Sweyn? Hast thou a design on my life?”
Throwing away his sword, and letting his cloak fall behind him, the
domestic knelt, and could only say, “To God and thee, O king, I resign
myself!” He was immediately fettered; but was soon released and exiled.
The only punishment inflicted on Ruric was, that his chair was taken
from the royal table, and placed in another apartment; that his bed was
removed to a less honourable place, and two domestics ordered to attend
him night and day. After this event, he grew moody and capricious:
sometimes he talked with amazing volubility, and, what was more
important (for his talents were great), with wit or judgment, as the
humour predominated; at other times a sullen taciturnity for days
together, rendered him as disagreeable as he had before been
captivating. When in these moody fits, he was evidently devising the
means of revenge, or at least of escape. One night, when Ruric had
retired to rest, somewhat intoxicated, a man called the Little Finn, who
had been his domestic in his prosperous days, entered the apartment,
with a large vessel of mead. This he presented to all the domestics who
slept in the same apartment as his master, and it was so potent that it
immediately sent them to sleep,—the more easily as they were previously
half drunk. In a short time, Ruric awoke his two guards, under the
pretext that he wanted to go outside the house. Rubbing their eyes, and
gaping, they accompanied him, but were immediately slain by twelve men
whom the Little Finn had brought to the spot, and who hurried the king
on board a vessel which lay near the shore. One of the royal party,
having occasion to visit the court-yard, found the two corpses yet
bleeding and warm. In great alarm, he awoke Thord, the bearer of the
royal banner, and acquainted him with the tragedy which had just been
perpetrated. Both wished to awake the king; but who durst presume to do
so? It was at length agreed to ring the bells of the neighbouring
chapel; and Olaf, thinking that the time of matins was come, suddenly
rose, and was made acquainted with the disappearance of Ruric, and the
murder of the two guards. The household was soon in motion, and the
fugitives pursued. Accompanied by thirty men, one of Olaf’s captains
leaped into a vessel, and stood out to sea. Dawn soon appeared, and the
vessel which carried Ruric, and which was manned by an equal number of
men, was descried. The pursuit was vigorously maintained; when an arrow
from the bow of the Little Finn, the best marksman of his age, found its
way to the leader’s heart. Still the pursuit was continued; until the
companions of Ruric, apprehensive of being taken, drew close to the
shore, and plunged into the neighbouring woods, leaving him to his fate.
The blind chief was conveyed back to Tunsberg, and consigned to closer
custody than before. But even now he indulged in the dream of revenge,
and fortune seemed to furnish him with an opportunity of realising it.
Easter was at hand, and Olaf, with his whole household, attended divine
service in the church. His seat was in a kind of crypt at the north end
of the choir. Here, such was his thoughtlessness, he was accompanied by
Ruric, for whose conversion he was singularly anxious, and to whose
crimes he was unusually indulgent. On the conclusion of the service,
when the congregation were departing, Ruric drew a concealed dagger, and
aimed it at the king. The blow entered his garments, but did not touch
his skin. Leaping from his seat, a second blow was aimed at him, but
without effect; and in another moment, the ferocious chief was taken and
fettered, and led out of the church. Olaf was exhorted to put the rebel
to death; but he refused, and substituted banishment into the dreary
wastes of Iceland. There, in a few years, Ruric paid the debt of
nature.—Strange that Olaf should pardon the murderer, yet execute the
pagan! That he should deem the most horrible of crimes less heinous than
conscientious, however mistaken, belief! But such has always been the
policy of the Roman Catholic church.[245]

[Sidenote: 1020 to 1021.]

The uplands were not the only parts of Norway in which idolatry was to
be found. While at Nidaros one winter, he learned that in Halogaland,
Naumdal, and the interior of Drontheim, even the outward forms of
Christianity were disregarded. To judge for himself in so important a
matter, Olaf, when spring arrived, proceeded into Naumdal, where he held
assemblies of the people. He soon found that there were delinquents
enough, and he resolved not to spare them. He afflicted them, says the
historian, with grievous penalties, not sparing the powerful any more
than the humble; and he made all the inhabitants promise that in future
they would preserve the holy faith incorrupt. By passing through the
most sequestered districts, he discovered what would otherwise have
escaped him. On his return to Nidaros, he learned that in the interior
of the province, at the yule festival, the horns and cups were, as of
yore, consecrated to the gods; that oxen were still sacrificed, and the
altars sprinkled with their blood. In great anger, yet eager to examine
into the truth of the charge, Olaf sent for many of the farmers, to
interrogate them on the subject. But they asserted that their convivial
meetings had nothing to do with religion; that, like their fathers, they
indulged over their cups, but were not so foolish as to be the slaves of
heathenism. Though he was forced to dismiss them, he was not satisfied;
and about the middle of winter he sent for them a second time, laying
before them the information which he had subsequently received. Again
was the charge denied; and they were again dismissed, but not without
the assurance that Olaf would soon judge for himself. After the Easter
festivities, he accordingly repaired into that district; and sending for
Thorold, one of his vassals, questioned him closely as to the existence
of idolatry in his neighbourhood. At first the man was unwilling to
speak; he dreaded the vengeance of the Pagans; but being assured of the
royal protection, he said that most of the people had not yet been
baptized; that those who had, had certainly reverted to the worship of
Thor and the other deities; that there were scarcely any Christians in
heart; that sacrifices were still offered, at the ancient seasons; and
that at their meetings, which they asserted were purely convivial,
twelve men officiated as priests. Hearing these charges, for the truth
of which he had no guarantee,—nothing beyond the bare word of
Thorold,—Olaf summoned his vassals, hastened to the place of
entertainment, put the leaders to death, imprisoned others, and
plundered all. But the most arbitrary and most unjust part of his
conduct was that which authorised his followers to visit the houses of
the suspected, and kill or bind or plunder them at pleasure. That the
innocent, if they had any substance, or any enemies, suffered with the
guilty, is undoubted. Of both, many escaped before their persecutors
arrived. Of the prisoners, some were put to death, some mutilated,
others fined, and many banished.[246]

[Sidenote: 1021.]

Having left many priests, and caused many churches to be erected, in
Naumdal, Olaf proceeded into the uplands, for the purpose of rooting out
the remains of paganism. Here, too, he found many who had not been
baptized,—and many who, if they had been, were more than suspected of
being addicted to the ancient religion. From the more considerable
persons he demanded hostages, as pledges of their fidelity in future;
the rest were more summarily dealt with. But the force he had with him
was inadequate to the chastisement of all the delinquents,—for whole
districts had neglected the new religion. He therefore sent out the
arrow, and being joined by his vassals, issued an edict that those who
refused to embrace Christianity with all their hearts must either fight
him or see their lands devastated and themselves punished. As before,
hypocrites enough hastened to him to profess obedience to his command,
while the more conscientious, or the more indigent, fled into other
districts. Hearing of these transactions, Godbrand of the Dales, a
powerful man and a pagan, having sent forth the arrow, addressed his
warriors at some length:—“There has arrived on the margin of the Loar a
man called Olaf, commanding us to follow a religion different from that
which we have hitherto followed, breaking all the images of our gods,
and asserting that his God is greater and more powerful than they. To me
it seems marvellous that the earth does not swallow him,—that our gods
suffer him to live. Of this I am quite sure,—that, if we take the statue
of Thor from the temple near us, and bear him towards the enemy, he will
destroy their God, Olaf himself, and all his companions.” These words
will show that there were parts of Norway which paid only a nominal
obedience to the monarchs of Drontheim, which had preserved their stormy
independence from a remote age to the eleventh century. These were the
mountainous parts, especially the dales, which were scarcely accessible
to an army, where defence was more easy, where a great number of
invaders could not find subsistence. The speech of Godbrand was received
by the hearers with acclamation. All cried that they would not forsake
their gods; that if Olaf came into their peaceful valleys, he should not
leave them alive. Seven hundred men were immediately placed under the
command of Godbrand’s son, and with them he proceeded to the entrance of
the Dales. His example was followed by other rustics; so that the
opposition which awaited Olaf in these defiles threatened to be more
formidable than any which he had yet encountered. On reaching the ground
where they were encamped, he caused a trumpet to be sounded, and a
herald to bear his command that they would instantly receive
Christianity. They rejected it with contempt; but they were soon
defeated and compelled to flee. Some were taken prisoners, among whom
was the son of Godbrand. Olaf could sometimes act with policy as well as
humanity; and on this occasion he dismissed the humbled chief, bidding
him tell the father that the victor would soon be in the centre of the
dales. Touched with this generosity, the young man besought his father
not to contend with Olaf. How, indeed, could he, with only 200 men
remaining? By the old pagan he was sharply reproved for this
pusillanimity, and told that, for his sins, he had been accompanied by
some evil genius. The question of peace or war was again proposed to the
Thing, or assembly of the people; and they resolved that twelve men
should be sent to Olaf, to obtain the most favourable conditions that
could be granted, and to invite him to meet them. The two parties did
meet in those solitary wilds; and Olaf, amidst a heavy shower of rain,
which continued the whole day, proceeded to explain the leading
doctrines of Christianity. His explanation, however, was not very clear
to the assembled pagans. “We know nothing of the God thou preachest,”
said Godbrand, “and how can we, since neither thou nor anybody else has
ever seen him? But we have a god whom we can all see whenever we please.
To-day he does not appear on account of the rain; but if he should come
to this meeting, you could not withstand his looks: he would frighten
you all,—for he is a terrible god.” The old man concluded by saying
that, if the Christian God should work a palpable miracle, he would then
believe in his power. After the assembly had been dismissed, and Olaf,
with the son of Godbrand, had retired to his temporary abode, the former
had the curiosity to ask what was the construction of the image to which
Godbrand had alluded. He was informed that it was a vast statue of Thor,
with crown and mallet and costly ornaments, and hollow within. Every
day, four loaves of bread, and a corresponding portion of flesh, was
presented to this idol. That night, says the historian, the king could
not sleep, such was his anxiety to convince the people of God’s power
and of Christ’s divinity. The truth is that he was more anxious for his
own safety; for the countrymen were resorting, in greater numbers than
before, to the scene of action. To be secure in case of attack, he
despatched one of his chiefs for a reinforcement. The following day,
Thor was wheeled to the place where the assembly deliberated. As it
approached, the people rose and saluted it. It was placed in the midst
of the place,—having the pagans on one side and the Christians on the
other. Godbrand, rising, said,—“Here, king, is our god; but where is
thine? He is, I suppose, in some obscure corner, with downcast looks.
Thou art not so confident as thou wast; no more is that horned[247] man
who sits beside thee, and is called your bishop. This our god, who rules
all things, looks upon you with angry eyes; you are evidently afraid;
you dare not lift up your eyes. Wherefore, lay aside your vain
superstition, and believe in the present god, who has your fate in his
hands.” Telling one of his attendants to have a huge club in readiness,
Olaf arose, and replied to the speech of Godbrand. “Their god was blind
and dumb, who could do nothing for himself or others; he could not even
move from his place without being carried.” “Our God,” added he, “is in
the east,” alluding to the sun as the brightest emblem of the Deity.
Hearing this, the people unconsciously turned their looks in that
direction. This was the signal for the chief who held the mace. One
ponderous blow broke the deity to pieces; and from the fragments, as
they fell, crept serpents, rats, and spiders, in great numbers. Seeing
this, most of the people fled; but they were soon recalled by the king,
who wished to converse amicably with them. Having ridiculed their
prostrate deity, he left them the usual option,—of fighting him or
embracing Christianity. Godbrand was the first to set the example. As
his god could not help or revenge itself, it had manifestly no power,
and he would now believe in the Christians’ God. He was followed by the
rest; and, in a short time, a church arose in each valley. From this
place Olaf repaired into Hedmark, Raumarik, and Hadaland, where such
districts as were not already Christians were speedily made so, in the
Roman Catholic sense of the word,—that is, the people were _baptized_.
Of _instruction_ nobody thought; or, if they did, it was left to time.
But if Olaf had been as enlightened as he was ignorant, he could not,
with the few priests at his disposal, have effected much good. Until
England and Germany sent more ecclesiastics, and some provision was made
for their education in Norway itself, little good was or could be

[Sidenote: 1022 to 1023.]

When Olaf found that the old religion maintained its sway among the
inhabitants generally, he had always recourse to the same policy: he
collected troops, marched to the place, sent forth his staff, which was
the signal for the people to meet in the public Thing, just as the arrow
was the signal of war; and proposed the alternative of a battle or
conversion. But it sometimes happened that the arrow had been sent out
before his arrival, and that the people were assembled in numbers too
great for him to attack with safety. Thus, in the diet of Valders, when
the proceedings were opened, and the king began to talk of conversion,
he was immediately enjoined silence; nor would this have been the worst
result, had he not been cunning enough to call upon the legal disputants
to lay their cases before him for adjudication. In a moment the tumult
was hushed; each party who was or fancied himself aggrieved began to
complain, and the king was occupied the whole of the day in giving his
decisions. The following days he laid waste their territory with fire
and sword—fine occupation for their monarch! To protect their property
the men assembled in arms; but as Olaf transferred his hostilities from
place to place, no large body could be collected together; or, if it
were, it soon dissolved itself. Hence he was able to assail them in
succession, and force them to submission. The use which he made of his
victory was the same as on other occasions; he baptized, hung, maimed,
banished, fined, and returned to his capital in the belief that he had
done Heaven much service.[249]

[Sidenote: 1026 to 1027.]

But from these conversions—these persecutions—Olaf was at length
diverted by the report that Canute the Great, king of England and
Denmark, was preparing to assert his rights to Norway. Why so ambitious
a monarch as the Dane had so long delayed the vindication of his claim
is not easily explained: England had been long tranquil, and from
Denmark no commotion was to be dreaded. Whatever the motives of his
inactivity, he never forgot that Norway had been subdued by his father.
In 1025 he asserted his claim through his ambassadors, who saw king Olaf
at Tunsberg. Norway, he said, was his by the right of conquest, and that
right he should not renounce; but, as he was averse to the shedding of
blood, he would acknowledge Olaf as king if the latter would do him
homage, and pay him the same tribute as the jarls had paid. The reply of
Olaf was, that he would pay no tribute, but defend Norway to the last
extremity. Knowing that the cloud of invasion must burst upon him, he
selected and obtained the alliance of Sweden. Olaf was no more; but
Omund (or Emund) was not inattentive to the connection which bound the
royal families of the two kingdoms. To arrange the means of defence the
two kings met in Gothland, and lost no time in preparing their vessels
for service. As Canute delayed the threatened expedition much longer
than was expected, they were unwilling to keep their armaments idle, and
they assumed the aggressive,—Olaf choosing the Danish islands,
especially Zealand, as the scene of his depredations; Omund preferring
the nearer province of Scania. In a short time, however, they joined
their fleets, and continued their ravages. The summer being past and no
enemy appearing, Omund returned to Sweden,—leaving, however, a portion
of his fleet under the orders of Olaf. When Canute heard of these
ravages, he hastened his preparations. Another subject, too, made him
anxious to revisit Denmark. The Danes were dissatisfied with the absence
of their monarch. From the foundation of the state, never had they been
without a present chief—often with many—to defend their coasts against
the piratical kings of the north. Now that Olaf and Omund were assailing
them with impunity, their complaints became the louder. To appease them,
Ulf, the brother-in-law of Canute, and the most powerful of the Danish
nobles, had recourse to a bold imposture; he produced forged letters,
which he alleged came from Canute, commanding the states to recognise
his son Harda Canute as king of Denmark. The motive which led him to
this step is obvious. The prince was only ten years of age, and the
regency must necessarily rest with him. How he expected to escape the
vengeance of his monarch is surprising: probably he looked for impunity
to the unanimous voice of Denmark, and to the interference of Emma, the
queen, who had sanctioned the plot, and transmitted her husband’s signet
to him. Seeing the royal seal, the people immediately proclaimed the
young prince. Both Ulf and Harda Canute soon repented of the step. Two
kings were ravaging their coasts: Canute only could defend them; and his
arrival might soon be expected. To avert his anger, they supplicated the
queen to employ her influence in their behalf; and, after some entreaty,
the monarch agreed that if Harda Canute and the jarl would apply to him
for pardon, and lay the usurped crown at his feet, he would exact no
vengeance for the past. Accordingly, both proceeded to England, knelt
before him, and humbly entreated his forgiveness. The royal child was
heartily, Ulf reluctantly pardoned,—if that can be called pardon, when a
secret determination is made to destroy the object whenever a new
occasion shall be presented. To extinguish the last spark of this
rebellion, no less than to chastise the presumption of the two northern
kings, he sailed for the north.[250]

[Sidenote: 1027.]

When Canute arrived in the Baltic, he found that Scania was ravaged by
the combined fleets of Norway and Sweden. In a naval battle off that
coast he had a hard struggle, but, in the end, had so far the advantage
that he compelled the enemy to retire. After this partial success, he
did not forget Ulf the jarl. Inviting that noble to a feast at Roskilda,
the latter endeavoured, by mirthful conversation, to dissipate the gloom
which hung on the countenance of the monarch. The chessboard was
introduced, and, in the game which followed, the anger of Canute was
still further increased. The jarl took one of the king’s knights; but
the king took it back again, and, in a hasty tone, bid Ulf not play in
that manner. One of this chief’s worst characteristics was an irritable
temper, which he could not always control, even in the presence of his
lord. He not only struck the table with much anger, but rose to leave
the apartment. “Coward! dost thou flee?” cried the insulted king. “Thou
wouldst have fled farther,” replied the jarl, “but for me. Was I a
coward in the late action at the mouth of the Helge, when I bore aid to
thee, whom the Swedes were beating like a dog?” These rash words sealed
his fate. Though he took refuge in the cathedral, the next morning the
monarch ordered him to be slain; and the deed was perpetrated in the
choir. For this action, the royal assassin had thenceforth no peace;
remorse was his daily companion: to allay it he became a benefactor to
the church, and undertook a pilgrimage to Rome.[251]

[Sidenote: 1027 to 1028.]

Winter approaching, Omund of Sweden returned home with his armament. For
some time longer, Olaf remained to watch the motions of the Danes; but
he had some reason to know that a spirit of discontent prevailed among
his followers. When summoned to the council their opinions were divided,
in cases where unanimity was most required. It was evident that some of
them were bought by Canute’s gold, or by the hope of his favour. Many,
too, of the Norwegians even—the bravest of that nation—were in the
armament of the Dane. As so little dependence was, after Omund’s
departure, to be placed in his fleet, Olaf sent it to the Swedish ports,
and returned, by way of West Gothland, into Vikia. At Sarfsburg he
determined to pass the winter; and he endeavoured, by presents, to
secure the attachment of his chief nobles; but he found that his own
partisans were fewer, and those of his enemy more numerous, than he had
anticipated. In some districts he could not venture without a strong
armed force. As he dared not venture into the north, and was unsafe in
the uplands, he proceeded to Tunsberg; from thence he despatched
messengers into all the provinces, to hasten the levy of ships and men.
Those in his immediate neighbourhood obeyed his mandate, rather through
fear than love; by the more distant provinces it was derided. That the
hearts of the people were not with him was manifest; the great
preparations of Canute, which resounded throughout the kingdom, were
either beheld with indifference, or openly desired. To what causes must
this almost universal defection be ascribed? Undoubtedly to many. By the
admirers of this king—that is, by the Roman Catholics—it has been
contended, that the chief was the attachment of the Norwegians to their
ancient idolatry. That this was a great cause cannot be disputed; but we
may hesitate before we admit it as the principal. Olaf Trygveson was no
less zealous than he; yet that monarch was in no danger from a foreign
invader, and, to the very last, was supported by a loyal people. The
truth is, Olaf the Saint had turned his friends into enemies, by the
capriciousness of his conduct. If his predecessor was a furious bigot,
he was, at least, beloved by his immediate attendants, and feared by his
people. To his domestics the saint was often austere, not very liberal,
and frequently tyrannical. In proof of this, we may adduce the
confession of his greatest favourites, that, whatever the urgency of the
occasion, they dared not awake him when asleep.[252] The man who thus
inspired fear, even in his own palace, could not be loved. Then he was
rigid, imprudently rigid, in the administration of justice. It was,
indeed, better to err on this side than on that of laxity; still he
should have made some allowance for times and circumstances, and have
been satisfied with pecuniary mulcts where he exacted mutilation or
death. Add, that he had not the commanding talents of the son of Trygve;
that he was frequently fickle alike in his attachments and designs; that
he was oppressive in his exactions; that he violated the pledges which
he had given to respect the privileges of the native chiefs; and we have
the key to the universal disaffection of which he was soon to become the

[Sidenote: 1028 to 1029.]

In the spring of 1028, Canute, with a powerful armament, sailed for
Norway. Disembarking on the coast of Agder, he commanded the people to
assemble in a provincial Thing,—a command which was promptly obeyed.
Here he was acknowledged king of Norway, and no voice was raised against
his election. On his way to Nidaros,—the modern Drontheim,—wherever he
landed the people flocked in multitudes to receive him, and to pay him
homage. On reaching that city, where Olaf had so much resided, and where
he was so much detested, Canute was joyfully acknowledged the sole
monarch of the country. During all this time, Olaf remained at Tunsberg,
in the vain expectation of succour from some portion of his subjects. At
length he sailed round the southern coast, rather as a spy than a
monarch; and he had the satisfaction of vanquishing one of his
rebellious jarls: but this was no advantage, for it exasperated the
kindred of the fallen chief, who forced him precipitately to retire.
Proceeding northward, he found that his own subjects (Canute had
returned to Denmark in the full confidence that the new conquest was
secure) were on the deep to intercept him. As their force was so much
superior to his, he hastily disembarked, in the resolution to pass
overland into Sweden. But the project was not without danger; every
moment the countrymen might rise and deliver him into the hands of his
enemies. To escape this evil he traversed the most solitary paths, with
a celerity to which his fear gave additional wings. Continuing his way
into the dales and Hedmark, he had some reason to fear for his life.
Though he had many kinsmen in the uplands, the majority of the people
were his enemies, and were ready to seize him. As yet, however, he had a
considerable guard,—about 300 men,—and open force, in a rural, secluded
district, might be resisted. But when he perceived that his followers
were daily diminishing, he had no alternative but to flee into Sweden.
Hako the jarl, Canute’s lieutenant for the whole of Norway, would soon
pursue him; and expedition was therefore doubly necessary. Accompanied
by his queen, Astridda, and a few companions whose fidelity no
misfortunes could shake, he passed into Vermeland, and was thus free
from the apprehension of pursuit. His expedition saved him; for had he
remained any longer in Norway he must have fallen into the hands of the
jarl Hako, who was pursuing him with a force which he could not have
resisted. There he passed the winter. When summer arrived, leaving his
queen and his daughter in Sweden, he proceeded to Holmgard in Gardarik,
to solicit the aid of the king, or rather of Ingigerda the queen.[254]

[Sidenote: 1029.]

By the king and queen of Holmgard the regal fugitive was received with
much hospitality. Seeing the distraction of Norway, they endeavoured, by
the offer of a considerable province, to prevail on him to remain in the
country. This would have been his wisest policy; but his heart yearned
to the country of his birth, and he indulged the hope of being recalled
by his subjects. His was not a strong mind; but in devotion—or we should
rather say in the external offices of his church—he sought for
consolation. But ambition was his prevailing quality. Night and day he
meditated the means of returning; and, with a mind so impressed, we
cannot be surprised that his dreams assumed the colour of his waking
thoughts. A royal shade accosted him, exhorted him to return, and
promised him success. Had Olaf been an enlightened man, or known much of
that religion which he so zealously professed, he would have understood
that a vision recommending all the horrors of civil war could not be
from heaven. In about a year he left Gardarik, and sailed to Sweden.
Here he learned that Hako the jarl was dead, and no successor yet
nominated by Canute. This he thought a favourable opportunity for the
vindication of his rights, and he proceeded to the Swedish court to
solicit aid. By Emund he was nobly received; but the information which
reached him from Norway did not induce him to hasten his departure. When
the local governors heard of his arrival in Sweden, they sent forth the
arrow of war, in the determination of resisting his entrance. The spies
whom he sent into the country were unanimous in their report that the
popular mind was indisposed to him,—that he should abandon the intention
of returning. These representations, however, were counterbalanced by
his hopes: in a few months after his arrival in Sweden, he procured 400
men from Emund, with permission to raise as many more as chose to join
him, and proceeded through the centre of Sweden towards Norway.[255]

[Sidenote: 1030.]

On the confines of that kingdom, being joined by his kindred and their
vassals, he found that his whole force amounted to 1200 men. With this
force, had there existed any attachment to his cause, he might have
triumphed; but as he proceeded through the northern districts of
Drontheim, nobody joined him. In some places, indeed, he forced the
inhabitants to assemble, and compelled those who were still pagan to
receive baptism. Thus the time which he should have turned to his
advantage he lost by his injudicious zeal, and thereby afforded his
enemies leisure to organise the means of resistance. In another respect
he was less imprudent. Seeing the refusal of the countrymen to join him,
he was exhorted by his followers, of whom many were Swedish banditti, to
burn their houses, to lay waste their fields, to cut them down wherever
they could be found. He had the humanity to refuse his sanction to this
atrocious proposal. He had, he said, one regal prerogative left,—the
power of forgiving. On entering the district of Sticklestadt, he
perceived a large force drawn up to oppose him. Arranging his own
followers in order of battle, he exhorted them to fight manfully for
their religion, their king, their families. On the other, Sigurd, the
bishop, who was in the army of Canute, no less strongly exhorted his
party to drive this invader from the kingdom. The character which the
prelate drew of that monarch was not an enviable one. From his youth he
had been remarkable for his robberies and executions; he had exiled or
put to death the noblest of his chiefs; he had acted with singular
treachery towards the upland kings,—whose privileges, contrary to his
solemn pledges, he had violated, and whose persons he had afterwards
mutilated; to all men, high or low, he had been tyrannical; he had lost
all his friends; and he was now followed only by the enemies of Norway,
or by professed bandits. This description was not overcharged, and it
may be admitted as a fair estimate of his character. The battle now
engaged, and Olaf fought with much courage; but in the end he fell, and
most of his kinsmen with him.[256]

That the moral portrait of Olaf may be finished, and his claims to
sanctity appreciated, we have yet to add that he had a concubine, and by
her a bastard,—Magnus the Good,—four years after his marriage with
Astridda. The circumstances connected with the birth of this prince are
worthy of relation. Alfhilda, the royal concubine, was observed to be
pregnant; and everybody knew that this was the result of her intercourse
with Olaf. One night she was seized by the pains of labour, which were
unusually severe; both her life and that of her infant were despaired of
before it was brought into the world. Even after that event, so
precarious was its existence, that the priest who was present insisted
on its immediate baptism, and desired Sigvat the poet to awake the king
for the purpose of knowing what name was to be given it. Nothing can
better illustrate the tyranny of Olaf than the fact that Sigvat,
favourite as he had long been, durst not fulfil this commission, at a
time when mother and child were apparently on the brink of the grave.
“Who dares awake him?” replied Sigvat. “But the infant must be
baptized,” rejoined the priest. “I would rather incur the responsibility
of naming the child,” said the poet, “than of awaking the king.” The
name was Magnus. The next morning Olaf was in a great rage with Sigvat,
whom he summoned before him, and asked how he could have the presumption
to impose a name on his royal son. “Was it not better,” replied the
poet, “to give the child to God rather than to the devil? Had he died
without baptism, he must have been the devil’s. For my boldness I can
but lose my head; and, if I do so, I must trust to God’s mercy!” “But
why didst thou call the child Magnus?” demanded Olaf: “I have no kindred
of that name.” “Because it was the name of Charlemagne.” “Thou art a
fortunate man,” said the king. “Nor is this strange, as fortune is the
companion of wisdom. Yet it _is_ strange when the imprudent man turns
his very rashness into the source of advantage.” In the sequel this
Magnus became king of Norway.[257]

As nobody can be admitted into the calendar of saints without the
operation of miracles, which the church requires as evidence of
sanctity, we may be prepared for those of Olaf. That he healed incurable
diseases, restored sight to the blind, assisted the warriors who invoked
his aid, is asserted by the gravest Icelandic writers. One which we give
in the Appendix, and which is by far the most imaginative of the
number[258] may enable the reader to judge of what materials they
consist. The sanctity of Olaf rests on a foundation of equal solidity
with his miracles. Yet all the Roman Catholics in Europe are taught,
from their infancy, to believe in both. How far his character, as given
in the text, agrees with that which Alban Butler has drawn from that
immense heap of rubbish, the Acta Sanctorum, may also be seen in the


                               CHAP. IV.


                               SECTION I.
                    IN ENGLAND, FRANCE, AND IRELAND.


THAT the expeditions of the Northmen were not confined to the shores of
the Baltic, long before the period which is usually assigned to them, is
evident from the whole course of the later Roman history. During the
domination of the empire in Gaul and Britain, the local governors,
whatever their zeal, were unable to prevent the depredations which the
maritime inhabitants of Friesland and Jutland made on the more southern
coasts. The Saxons and Franks were among the earliest pirates of the
north. In the third century we find them on the coast of Gaul; in the
fourth and fifth, they were no less troublesome on that of Britain. Even
from the time of Cæsar, the tribes on the maritime coast, from the
mouths of the Rhine to the Baltic Sea, were beginning to learn the
piratical life. Their position was highly favourable to such pursuits.
Located in the vicinity of rivers, friths, and bays, where the soil is
unproductive, their wants must have led them to regions where Nature was
more lavish of her gifts. This was more especially the case of the
people on the sandy shores of Friesland and the Baltic; and, in those
regions, they become pirates, just as the Arabs become robbers,—from
necessity. But other causes were also at work, and probably at a period
still earlier. Amidst the endless migrations of the barbarous tribes who
occupied central and northern Europe, the impulse must have been
extended to more distant shores. When, for instance, Asiatic Scythia
sent forth her swarms to conquer and to colonise, the original
inhabitants either bent their necks to the new yoke, or escaped from it
by retiring farther to the west. Those of Scandinavia were compelled to
look for settlements in the south; and this object could only be
obtained by means of ships. There is reason to believe that these
emigrations, or maritime expeditions, came to our own islands before the
birth of Christ; this, indeed, is expressly affirmed by Bede, who
mentions the first arrival of the Picts in these islands. They came, he
informs us, from Scythia; and, sailing round the southern coast of
Britain, landed on that of Ireland, where the Scots were then settled.
As there was not room for both people, the new comers, in conformity
with the advice of the Scots, proceeded to the opposite shores, viz.,
those of Galloway and Argyle. This could not have been a solitary
immigration into these islands; the Scots themselves were a conquering
and a new tribe when the Picts arrived. If this is true of the western,
it is still more so of the eastern, coasts of England and Scotland,
especially of the latter. Danish expeditions, before our Saviour’s
birth, are frequently mentioned by Saxo; and, absurd as his chronology
often is, we think that there is some foundation for his statement,
corroborated as it is by that of Bede. But we must not lose sight of the
fact, that the two writers are speaking of events in themselves
dissimilar. Bede alludes to the emigration of whole tribes, Saxo to
piratical expeditions.[260]

That at a barbarous period, when agriculture was little understood, and
in barren countries, where the greatest industry was unavailing, there
must have been many seasons of famine, would be admitted, if it were not
supported by the positive testimony of history. When they arrived, the
younger and more vigorous class of the people naturally betook
themselves to more southern regions. He that once visited those regions,
would be in no hurry to return. The long duration of winter, the
uncertainty of an early spring, the coldness and humidity of the
atmosphere, which often prevented the fruits of the earth from arriving
at maturity, must have appeared to striking disadvantage when contrasted
with the greater regularity of seasons in the south. Nor was this the
worst. The north was covered with endless forests, or with extensive
fens, or with bleak mountains, where industry might labour in vain; in
the south, nature produced, with small labour, what was necessary for
the support of man. Since, in the former, wars between one tribe and
another were of so frequent occurrence, the condition of the people must
have been dreadful; they must have been often thinned by famine. Hence
the expatriations, whether voluntary or compulsory, of which we read so
much in the ancient history of the north. One of the earliest on record
is that which took place under Snio, a prince of Jutland. A sore famine
arriving, he published an edict, that, to economise the grain, none
should be used in the brewing of beer. But this law was ineffectual; the
people were too fond of indulging in the beverage to be thus forced; and
a national Thing was convoked to devise the means of public safety. That
a law was passed for the destruction of the old, the very young, and
those unable to carry arms, or to cultivate the ground, is affirmed by
several writers; but the statement is incredible. There is greater truth
in another,—that banishment was substituted, and lots were cast to
determine the individuals. Sweden furnishes us with a second instance,
though not so ancient as the preceding. We have already seen that,
during the pressure of a famine, Olaf Trætelia was sacrificed to the
gods.[261] The remedy, however, was unavailing; the scourge became still
greater, and the people removed into Norway. Two centuries after this
period, one third of the Danes, says Peter Olaf, were thus driven into
exile; and they selected Prussia, Carelia, Samogitia, and other shores
of the Baltic, as their future abodes. This evil was more ancient than
we usually suppose. We find laws, permitting the exposure of infants
where the parents were unable to support them, before Christianity was
known to the Franks, or Bavarians, or Swabians, or any other of the
Germanic tribes. Where no temporary law was made for the expatriation of
a certain number of the people, the more adventurous would often retire
of their own accord. The Scandinavians were no strangers to the sea;
from their childhood they were accustomed to fish in their bays, gulfs,
mouths of rivers, and other parts of their coasts. This exercise made
them familiar with the management of small vessels, and led them to
regard the watery element as no less friendly than land. As they became
inured to the business, and extended their voyages, they learned where
particular species of fish were most abundant. It is probable that at a
very early period all the coasts of the Baltic were thus visited.[262]

These circumstances combined will explain the superior dexterity of the
Scandinavians and other Baltic nations in the management of vessels. If
want of subsistence led them to the deep, whether through expatriation,
or the hope of successful fishing, other causes made them pirates. It
was easier to take a vessel well laden with that useful commodity than
to catch it; and when, in these practices, the crew of one hostile tribe
met the crew of another, a battle was sure to follow. By degrees,
vessels for piracy alone were equipped; nor were the objects of plunder
confined to fish: the houses near the sea-coasts had other articles of
food, other commodities, which would enrich the pirate’s home. The
dangers attending a profession where the crews were necessarily armed,
were not likely to damp the spirit of adventure. Courage was a part of
the Northman’s religion; death in battle was a good, since it introduced
him at once to the enjoyments of Odin’s hall,—enjoyments far exceeding
whatever this world could furnish. Piracy, then, was the necessary
result of the Scandinavian’s position; and it must have been practised
more anciently than most historians admit. Tacitus tells us that in his
time the Suiones were formidable by their fleets. Navigation, indeed,
could not be in its infancy, when such colonies as that of the Picts
undertook voyages so long and hazardous. It could not be in its infancy
during the third century, when Caransius was nominated by the Roman
authorities of Gaul to protect, at the head of a powerful fleet, the
coasts daily menaced by the barbarians.[263]

That domestic piracy—viz., piracy confined to their own
coast—distinguished the Scandinavians long before their expeditions into
the south, is undoubted. First, they had to struggle with the hostile
races who had preceded them in the north,—whom on their arrival they had
to dislodge, and who for so many ages preserved a vindictive remembrance
of the outrage. The Goth and the Finn must have been enemies from the
beginning; and both must have been equally hostile to the Vends, a
Slavonic tribe of Pomerania, much addicted to piracy. Position, no less
than race, made tribes hereditary enemies. The Frisons and the Saxons
were rivals, and therefore enemies; so were the Swedes and the Danes; so
were the Scanians and Norwegians. Their fleets watched the coasts of
each other, ready to fight it whenever the opportunity was presented.
Thus, while the Norwegians were delighted in making predatory irruptions
into Quenaland, which was inhabited by Finns, the Vends were harassing
the Danes, and the Jutes the Saxons. In the fifth century—how long
before we have not individual instances to select—the Vends were
powerful enough to infuse terror into the whole of Denmark. Ismar, their
king, ravaged Fionia, defeated king Sivar, and took prince Jarmeric
captive. In the sixth century, a Slavonian fleet was defeated by
Halfdan, king of Scania. Saxo is full of maritime contests between the
two people; and though his chronology is wrong, the facts themselves are
indisputable. In general, the Vends exceeded the Scandinavians in
ferocity. Both had great advantages for maritime adventures. Lithuania,
Esthonia, and Livonia were as well provided with timber as Norway or
Sweden; and each country had a multitude of natural bays and creeks,
where refuge could be sought when the tempest was severe, or when an
enemy appeared too formidable to be resisted.[264]

But the coasts of the Roman provinces offered the greatest inducements
to piracy. They were Saxons and Franks whom Caransius had chiefly to
oppose. In the following century, they were more formidable to the local
governors. “In the beginning of the fourth century,” says Turner, in his
valuable history of the Anglo-Saxons, “the Saxons were not alone on the
ocean; other states, both to the south and north of their own locality,
were moving in concert with them, whose nominal distinctions were lost
in the Saxon name. This addition of strength multiplied the Saxon
fleets, gave new terror to their hostility, and recruited their losses
with perpetual population. The league extended. Their depredations
increased their population, affluence, and celebrity; and these results
extended their power. What emulation, policy, or rapacity may have first
prompted, success and fear made more universal. They who would not have
been tempted to unite, dreaded the wrath of those whose proffered
alliance they refused: and at length most of the nations north of the
Rhine assumed the name, strengthened the association, and fought to
augment the predominance of the Saxons. Towards the south, between the
Elbe and the Rhine, the Chauci seem to have led the way. The Frisii,
urged by kindred passion and a convenient position, willingly followed.
The precise date of the accession of others is not so clear; but in some
period of their power, the Chamavi, and at last the Batavi, the
Toxandri, and Morini, were in their alliance. North of their territorial
position the Cimbri, the Jutes, the Angles, and others not so
discernible, added their numbers to the formidable league; which lasted
until their expedition to Britain, and then began to dissolve. Without
detaining the reader by a detail of the modern chorography answering to
the position of these tribes, it may be sufficient to state, concisely,
that the progress and leagues of the Saxon states enlarged gradually
from the Elbe to the Weser; from the Weser they reached to the Ems; and,
still augmenting, they diffused themselves to the Rhine with varying
latitude, as the Franks, many of whose allies they seduced, quitting
that region, and abandoning their exploits on the ocean, marched upon
Gaul. The extension of this new confederation was favoured by the change
of policy and position adopted by the Franks. As this people stood
foremost to the Roman vengeance, they experienced its effects. They had
many distressing wars to maintain, which in time compelled them to
abandon maritime expeditions, and to consolidate their strength for
their continental conflicts. Their ultimate successes made this warfare
the most popular among them. Hence, the nearer we approach the period of
the invasion of England, we find the Franks less and less united with
the Saxons on the ocean, and even wars begin to be frequent between the
rival friends. As the former moved onward, to the conquests of Belgium
and Gaul, the Saxons appear to have been the only nation, under whose
name the vessels of piracy were navigated. Saxons were the enemies every
where execrated, though under this title several nations fought. Some of
the tribes on the maritime coast, who had composed the league of the
Franks, abandoned it, to share the easier warfare and ampler booty of
the Saxons. At last this successful people diffused themselves into the
interior of Germany so victoriously, that the vast tracts of country
embraced by the Elbe, the Sala, and the Rhine, became subjected to their
power, in addition to their ancient territory from the Elbe to the
Eyder. An old Belgic chronicle, in rhyme, makes Neder Sassen, Lower
Saxony, to have been confined by the Scheid and the Meuse; but this is a
larger extent than others admit.”[265]

In contemplating the piratical expeditions or maritime conquests of the
Northmen, during the pagan age, greater clearness will be attained by
classing them under the head of each country visited by those people.

1. _Britain._ The Jutes and the Angles were the most prominent allies of
the Saxons. The league was joined by other people of the north,—by
adventurous Danes no less than Slavonic Pomeranians. At the head of
maritime forces so numerous and so powerful, the Saxons became dreadful
scourges to Gaul and Britain. “In the latter country, their depredations
were rendered more secure by the frequent irruptions of the Picts and
Scots into the northern counties, who, like them, were joined in a
confederation. Had the Saxons or the Picts been left to their own
efforts, the Roman governors would not have been so much pressed by the
pirates as they were from the fourth century downwards. In a similar
combination of hostilities, Nectaridus, the commander of the Saxon
shore, was slain, and the general of the island, Fullo-faudes, perished
in an ambush. Several officers were sent by the Roman emperors to
succeed them; but their exertions being inadequate to the necessity,
Theodosius, an experienced and successful leader, was appointed by
Valentinian in their room. The Picts and the co-operating tribes
attacked from the north, while the Saxons and their allies assaulted the
maritime coasts. Theodosius, from Richborough, marched towards London,
and dividing his army into battalions, correspondent to the positions of
the enemies, he attacked the robbers encumbered with their plunder. The
bands that were carrying away the manacled inhabitants and their cattle,
he destroyed, and regained the spoil; of this he distributed a small
share among his wearied soldiers; the residue he restored to its owners,
and entered the city, wondering at its sudden deliverance, with the
glories of an ovation. Lessoned by experience, and instructed by the
confessions of the captives and deserters, he combated this mixture of
enemies, with well-combined artifice and unexpected attacks. To recall
those who in the confusion, from fear or from cowardice, had abandoned
their ranks or their allegiance, he proclaimed an amnesty; and to
complete the benefit he had begun, he prosecuted the war with vigour in
the north of Britain. He prevented, by judicious movements, the
meditated attack; and hence the Orkneys became the scene of his
triumphs. The Saxons, strong in their numbers and intrepidity, sustained
several naval encounters before they yielded to his genius. They ceased
at last to molest the tranquillity of Britain; and the addition of a
deserved surname, Saxonicus, proclaimed the service of Theodosius. He
added the province of Valentia to Roman Britain, restored the deserted
garrisons, and coerced the unruly borderers by judicious stations, and a
vigilant defence. The Saxon confederation might be defeated, but was not
subdued. Such was its power, that they were now bold enough to defy the
Roman armies by land, and invaded the regions on the Rhine with a
formidable force. The imperial general was unable to repulse them; a
reinforcement encouraged him. The Saxons declined a battle, and sued for
an amicable accommodation. It was granted. A number of the youth fit for
war were given to the Romans to augment their armies; the rest were to
retire unmolested. The Romans were not ashamed to confess their dread of
the invaders, by a perfidious violation of the treaty. They attacked the
retreating Saxons from an ambush; and, after a brave resistance, the
unguarded barbarians were slain or made prisoners. It is to the disgrace
of literature that the national historian of the day has presumed, while
he records, to apologise for the ignominious fraud. Such an action might
dishonourably gain a temporary advantage, but it could only exasperate
the Saxon nation. The loss was soon repaired in the natural progress of
population, and before many years elapsed, they renewed their
depredations, and defeated Maximus. At the close of the fourth century
they exercised the activity and resources of Stilicho. The unequal
struggle is commemorated by the encomiastical poet, whose genius gilds,
with a departing ray, the darkening hemisphere of Rome. After his death
the Saxons commenced new irruptions. They supported the Armorici in
their rebellion, awed the Gothic Euric, began to war with the Franks,
and, extending the theatre of their spoil, made Belgium, Gaul, Italy,
and Germany tremble at their presence.” It must be remembered that under
the word Saxons many tribes were included,—those of Denmark as well as
those of Holstein.[266]

[Sidenote: 408.]

The settlement of the Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes—all comprehended
within the geographical limits of Denmark—in Great Britain, has been
recorded in two historical volumes of the Cyclopædia.[267] Thus, in 446,
Hengest laid the foundation of the kingdom of Kent, which, under
eighteen successive kings, subsisted to the close of the eighth century.
In 477, Ella, another Saxon chief, called a smaller one, that of Sussex,
into existence. Of this state the names of the two first princes only
have descended to posterity. In 519, the more powerful kingdom of Wessex
was founded by Cerdic, and its princes were destined to unite the other
states into one monarchy within three centuries after its establishment.
By Ida, the kingdom of Bernicia was founded in 547; By Ella, that of
Deira, in 560. These states, being united in 644, formed the important
kingdom of Northumberland, which subsisted, with some interruptions,
until it was finally annexed, by Athelstane, to the Saxon monarchy.
Mercia, founded, in 586, by Crida; East Anglia, by Uffa; and Essex, by
Eswin; were all ultimately absorbed in the rising sphere of Wessex. All
these royal chiefs boasted of their descent from Odin; all were of
Scandinavian origin; all spoke the same language, and followed the same
piratical profession. That hordes of obscure adventurers—mere sea
kings—should thus subdue a great country, has been matter of surprise to
many writers. But we should remember that, at the period in question,
England was not a monarchy,—that, like the north, it was subject to many
kings, and that the conquest occupied a century and a half.[268]

That during this period the Danes, if not the Norwegians, were brought
into relation with the kings of Scotland, is asserted by Saxo. Frode
III., according to that historian, gave his daughter Ulvilda in marriage
to Thubar king of the Scots. Frode reigned in the fourth century, not,
as Saxo assures us, early in the first. Whether Hamlet of Jutland, and
other Danish princes, were really in Scotland, cannot be proved; but
there is nothing improbable in the relation. That country, like England
and the north, was divided among many chiefs, who assumed the regal
title; and that their domains should escape the depredations which so
afflicted the southern part of the island, is not to be credited. Beyond
all doubt, Scotland was visited by piratical bands as early, at least,
as England. Nor must we forget that the Saxon kingdom of Bernicia
comprehended, besides the north of England from the Tees to the Tweed,
all the east and centre of Scotland from the latter river to the Frith
of Forth. At what period the inhabitants north of that Frith were first
molested by the Danes and Norwegians would be a vain inquiry; we may
only infer that it was much earlier than is generally supposed.[269]

As the inhabitants of the Danish islands and of Norway had no share in
the spoils of England, they were not bound to respect the coasts after
their kindred had established the kingdoms of the polyarchy. Their
ravages, indeed, were experienced by the English chiefs before
Northumbria became a kingdom. Offa of Mercia, whose domains were invaded
by them, had the valour to defeat, and the generosity to pardon, his
foes. It has, however, been contended that we find no satisfactory
account of the Danes being here in such numbers as to command the notice
of history, before the eighth century. In this case, the authority of
Saxo is rejected as unworthy of credit. “Some documents for his history
Saxo may have derived from poems of the ancient Scalds, from
inscriptions on stones and rocks, from an inspection (yet how
imperfect!) of the Icelandic authors, and from the narrations of his
friend. We may even grant to him, that such men as he enumerates, such
actions as he so eloquently describes, and such poems as he so diffusely
translates, once appeared; but the chronology and succession into which
he arranges them are unquestionably false. The boasted fountains of the
history of the ancient Scandinavians, their memorial stones and funeral
runæ, the inscribed rings of their shields, the woven figures of their
tapestry, their storied walls, their lettered seats and beds, their
narrative wood, their re-collected poetry, and their inherited
traditions, may have given to history the names of many warriors, and
have transmitted to posterity the fame of many battles: but no dates
accompanied the memorials; even the geography of the incidents was very
rarely noted. Hence, however numerous may have been the preserved
memoranda, their arrangement and appropriation were left to the mercy of
literary fancy or of national conceit. Saxo unfortunately emulated the
fame of Livy, instead of becoming the Pausanias of Scandinavia; and
instead of patiently compiling and recording his materials in the humble
style or form in which he found them, which would have been an
invaluable present to us, he has shaped them into a most confused,
unwarranted, and fabulous chronology. The whole of his first eight
books, all his history anteceding Ragnar Lodbrog, can as little claim
the attention of the historian, as the British, history of Jeffry, or
the Swedish history of Johannes Magnus. It is indeed superfluous, if we
recollect the Roman history, to argue against a work which pretends to
give to Denmark a throned existence, a regular government, and a tissue
of orderly and splendid history for twenty-four royal accessions before
the birth of Christ. Saxo, on whose history many others were formerly
built, refers to the Icelandic writers; but this only increases our
depreciation of his narratives, for they are at irreconcileable variance
with all his history before the ninth century.”[270] Yet we are far from
subscribing, in its most rigorous sense, to this unfavourable character.
Saxo’s chronology we condemn as much as any writer; but we do not think
that his facts, however distorted by tradition, are not, for the most
part, founded in truth. That the authority of Snorro is superior to
Saxo’s we readily admit,—superior, we mean, as to chronology; for that
the latter must have been better acquainted with the actions of the
Danes themselves few will be so rash as to deny. Yet even Snorro assures
us that Ivar Vidfadme, a prince of the seventh century, conquered a
fifth part of England.[271] By this expression Northumbria is usually
understood; and there is nothing improbable in the opinion that the
kingdom of Bernicia—that portion of Northumbria north of the Tweed—was
overrun by this prince.[272]

[Sidenote: 793 to 868.]

The alleged depredations of Ragnar Lodbrog in Northumbria, to which we
have slightly alluded in the first chapter of this volume[273] have in
them so much of the romantic that we can place little dependence on
them. There is but one circumstance that can be made to lend them even
the appearance of probability. About the period of Ragnar’s death, a
formidable body of Danes descended on the island of Lindisfarne,
plundered the church which contained the shrine of St. Cuthbert,
massacred the ecclesiastics, defiled the altars, and consumed the
building by fire. The lay inhabitants of the island were not more
fortunate; the men were massacred, the women were forced, the children
tossed on the points of the Danish lances. In the following year (794)
the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow were visited with the same fate.
During full seventy years,—that is, to the period when the weak brother
of Alfred allowed the centre of England to be overrun, and when Alfred
himself, by his flight, left the whole kingdom to their mercy,—their
depredations on the eastern coast, from the Frith of Forth to the
Humber, were, however desultory, however interrupted, most harassing and
most destructive. The Saxon kings of Northumbria, we are told, were too
much occupied in private feuds to have either time or means for
defending the country against the invaders,—if, indeed, there were any
Saxon kings at this time,—if the Danes were not the actual sovereigns of
the province. It is certain that all the historians of Denmark (who are
confirmed by the Icelandic chronicles) speak of such a dynasty, and
assure us that the sons of Ragnar Lodbrog were its kings. We see no
reason to dispute this statement. There is, however, a sad confusion in
the chronology. If Ragnar died in 794, and his sons avenged him in
little more than a year afterwards, they could not be at the head of the
armament which, in 866, appeared off the coast. Probably they and their
successors reigned from the close of the eighth to the tenth century,
and the confederated armament of 866 was one on a larger scale, and
headed by other leaders. What confirms this inference is the fact that
at this time Harald Harfager was subduing the petty kings of Norway; and
that many of them, preferring freedom to the despotism of a master, left
the country with their bravest warriors. During this period, all the
churches and monasteries of the province were destroyed. In 828, the
Danish power in Northumberland must have been great, or they would not
have been powerful, enough to defeat Egbert, the conqueror of so many
Saxon kingdoms, and the founder of the English monarchy. After the year
866, when, as we believe, there were many Norwegians in England, new
atrocities were committed,—atrocities which threw all former ones into
the shade. The monastery of Tynemouth, which had been restored, was soon
in flames; that of Lindisfarne shared the same fate; yet the monks were
so fortunate as to escape with the relics of St. Cuthbert. From the
smoking ruins of Lindisfarne, Halfdan, one of the chiefs, hastened to
the monastery of Coldingham. “According to Matthew of Westminster and
succeeding writers, the nuns of Coldingham nobly redeemed the reputation
of their establishment from the stain which had covered it in the time
of St. Cuthbert. The monastery was now, as in the former case, governed
by an abbess, named Ebba; who, if the historian be credible, deserves
the honours of canonisation somewhat better than her predecessor.
Hearing that it was the custom of the barbarians first to violate, and
then to destroy, virgins consecrated to God, she assembled the
sister-hood in the chapter house, and exhorted them to save their
chastity at the expense of their beauty. With a knife she dreadfully
disfigured her countenance; and her example was followed on the spot by
all the nuns. The Danes soon forced their gates; but turned with horror
from their embraces, and quickly consumed both them and their nunnery.
Though the monk of Westminster lived so long after the time, he might
follow some better guide than tradition—some record now lost; nor is the
fact itself either improbable or unparalleled. The same noble conduct is
related of the nuns of Ecija, during the Mohammedan invasion of Spain.
During seven years similar depredations followed throughout most of
Northumbria. Wherever the Danes penetrated, ecclesiastics were
massacred, churches and monasteries were levelled with the ground; the
whole country, in fact, became a Danish province, governed by princes of
the royal house of that kingdom. Great as was the evil produced by these
merciless pagans; though the monks, as an order, were almost wholly
annihilated, and civilisation was destroyed, yet the invasion itself led
to the conversion of the invaders. Resolved to remain in the country
which they had conquered, to cultivate the lands which they had divided
among themselves, they were compelled to enter into relations of amity
with the inhabitants, from whose example, or by whose persuasion, they
soon embraced the faith of Christ. That the Danish princes were soon no
less devout than their Saxon brothers appears from the splendid donation
of all the country between the Wear and the Tyne, made by Guthred to the
cathedral of St. Cuthbert, now transferred to Chester-le-Street.” Out of
evil comes good,—a proof of God’s particular providence.[274]

[Sidenote: 868 to 876.]

But the atrocities of the Northmen at this period are most graphically
described by the abbot Ingulf. After the destruction of Bardney, the
pirates hastened to the monastery of Croyland. “It was midnight: the
abbot Theodore and his monks had risen to matins when the enemy drew
near: the younger brethren the abbot immediately commanded to seek a
place of refuge, with their papers, relics, and jewels; while he
himself, accompanied by the more aged monks, and some children, awaited
whatever fate might be reserved for them. Perhaps he hoped that the grey
locks of some, and the infancy of others, might awaken pity even in
pagans. But they forgot, says Ingulf, the old verse,

           “Nulla fides pictasque viris qui castra sequuntur.”

But he was prepared for any event,—to live or fall with his
establishment. Having taken an affectionate leave of about thirty junior
monks, he and his devoted companions returned to the church, finished
the matins, and celebrated mass. They had just communicated when the
pagans arrived, forced the gates, and rushed into the cloisters. The
silence which they found might have induced them to believe the
monastery was utterly forsaken, had not the distant chaunting of the
monks fallen on their ears. They hastened to the church and burst into
the choir; one chieftain instantly seized the abbot by the hair with his
left hand, while the right severed the head from the body. The
officiating clergy shared the same fate at nearly the same moment: the
children and the aged monks were tortured for the purpose of discovering
whither the treasures had been conveyed; but as the former were unable,
and the latter unwilling, to disclose the secret, their sufferings were
soon terminated by death. Of all these helpless inmates, one only was
saved,—a boy ten years old, whose innocence made an impression on one of
the chieftains. He had fled to the refectory with the sub-prior, whom he
saw murdered, and whose fate he begged to share; but the chieftain tore
the cowl from his head, threw a Danish cloak over him, and commanded him
to follow him. The three succeeding days were passed in plunder,—in
minutely examining every corner or crevice where treasure might be
buried. The shrine of St. Guthlake was overthrown; the marble monuments
around it, containing the mortal remains of saints and benefactors to
the house, were opened, in search of rings, chalices, and other precious
effects which the Saxons entombed with the bodies of the great; the
bones were thrown on the ground, and the sculpture defaced. On the
fourth day the extensive pile was on fire. Medeshamstede, or
Peterborough, also an abbey of royal foundation, was next visited. Its
noble library, its numerous treasures, which there had not been time to
remove, its magnificent architecture, rendered it one of the proudest
monastic establishments in the island. Within its gates many of the
neighbouring inhabitants had placed their most valuable effects, and
thither many had fled for protection. For a while the edifice made a
noble stand; but a stone thrown by an unknown hand having mortally
wounded the brother of Ubbo, the Danish king, the barbarian and his
followers made a more desperate attack, forced the gates, and commenced
the massacre. With his own hand Ubbo sacrificed the hoary abbot and
eighty-three monks to the shade of his brother; while the strangers fell
under the hands of his followers. The booty was immense; but the value
was trifling compared with that of the MS. treasures which were consumed
with the monastery. The conflagration continued a fortnight. While it
raged, the monks who had fled from Croyland returned to their former
abode, sat themselves down amidst the smoking ruins, and wept. So
overcome were they by the melancholy sight, that some time elapsed
before they proceeded to bury the scorched bodies of their brethren.
Having performed this sad office, and elected another abbot, they were
solicited to perform the last duties to the monks of Medeshamstede. With
sorrowful hearts they deposited the bones of the abbot and the
eighty-three monks in the same grave, over which Godric, their superior,
raised a monument, engraven with the history of this sad tragedy. From
Medeshamstede the pirates, exulting in their success, hastened to the
Isle of Ely, to inflict the same fate on the flourishing convent which
had been founded by the piety of St. Edilthryda. Its cloisters were
inhabited by the noblest ladies of England. Some fled; but the greater
number preferred the death which they knew awaited them. The place was
taken; the nuns were ravished and slaughtered; and the holy pile was
reduced to ashes. That such atrocities could be committed would be
incredible were they not too well attested to admit of scepticism.[275]

[Sidenote: 870 to 924.]

The struggles of Alfred with the ferocious Northmen have been detailed
in more than one volume connected with the present.[276] During this
period, there was a Danish monarchy in Northumbria, which, as we have
already observed, had been probably founded by the sons of Ragnar
Lodbrog. That monarchy subsisted in the reign of Edmund, the son of
Alfred; and, it was in full vigour on the accession of Athelstane. So
powerful, indeed, was Sigtrug, king of that province, that Athelstane,
to insure his friendship, conferred on him the hand of his sister. The
condition of this marriage was that Sigtrug should embrace Christianity,
and become the vassal of Athelstane. In five years, however, the
restless barbarian put away his wife, and relapsed into idolatry. To
punish the insult, Athelstane invaded Northumbria; but Sigtrug died
before his arrival; and the two sons of Sigtrug, Anlaf and Godfrey,
fled,—the former into Ireland, the latter into Scotland; and Athelstane
annexed Northumbria to his English crown.[277]

[Sidenote: 924 to 934.]

That Athelstane should so immediately raise the power of the Saxon
kingdom, as not only to defeat the Danes and Northmen, but to subjugate
a province which had always been hostile to it, shows what may be
effected by the energies of a single mind. Not satisfied with expelling
the enemy from Northumbria, he pursued them into Scotland, far north of
the boundary which had hitherto arrested the progress of English
victory: his fleets penetrated into Caithness, ravaging the coast as
they proceeded. And he is believed, at this period, to have located a
multitude of English colonists in the southern provinces of Scotland,
and thus to have laid the foundation of the present lowland population.
But Northumbria was too recent a conquest, and too dissimilar from the
rest of the monarchy, to remain secure. The chiefs of Denmark and
Norway, who had so long regarded England as a kind of inheritance, armed
in greater numbers than before, to check the rising power of Athelstane.
They were joined by all the noted sea kings of the age; by many of the
jarls or kings who had settlements in Ireland and Scotland; by the king
of the Scots, and by several Welsh chiefs. Never, we are told, had so
formidable an armament menaced England as that which, in 934, entered
the Humber. It consisted of 615 ships, headed by Anlaf, whom Constantine
of Scotland had induced to make the attempt. Anlaf, who, on his father’s
death, had obtained for himself a principality in Ireland, had a
reputation for skill and valour equalled by none of his countrymen. Of
the two thanes whom Athelstane had placed over Northumbria, one was
defeated and slain; the other, after the battle, fled to acquaint the
English monarch with the defeat. He prepared for the contest with
courage; and, to gain time until his forces were collected, entered into
negotiations. When his army was completed, he hastened into the north,
and was in presence of the pirates before they knew he had left the
Saxon provinces. If any faith is to be placed in either Saxon or
Norwegian writers, Anlaf, assuming the disguise of a harper, penetrated
to the tent of Athelstane, and entertained that monarch with his art.
His object, we are told, was to ascertain the position of the tent
previous to a nocturnal attack, which had been determined by the
confederate chiefs. But this incident, no less than the recognition of
Anlaf by one of the Saxon outposts, is too romantic to be easily
credited. What appears to be certain is, that Athelstane removed his
tent to another part of the field; and that the bishop of Sherburn, who
encamped in the place which he had abandoned, was slain before the
morning’s dawn. In the night there was a skirmish, which caused much
effusion of blood, and was advantageous to neither party. When day
arrived, the celebrated battle of Brunanburgh was fought. That town has
escaped the researches of antiquaries; and all that can be conjectured
is, that it was in some place north of the Humber. That the struggle was
a desperate one might be inferred alike from the character of the
combatants, and from the magnitude of the interests involved. Victory
declared for Athelstane; Constantine of Scotland was nearly taken, and
his son killed; the Cumbrians and Britons and Irish were destroyed, or
put to flight, and the bravest warriors of the north remained on the
field. This splendid advantage raised England in the esteem of all
Europe, and impressed the Northmen with a salutary terror.[278]

[Sidenote: 934.]

The intercourse between Athelstane and Eric of the Bloody Axe we have
before mentioned.[279] We have also related in what manner Sweyn of
Denmark[280] defeated Ethelred II., and eventually became king of
England. The history of that monarch brings down that of the
Scandinavian expeditions to the year 1014.

[Sidenote: 400 to 840.]

2. _France._ The devastations of the Saxons and the Jutes on the coasts
of Gaul commenced as early as those on the coast of Britain. We read of
them in the third and every succeeding century, until France was too
strong to be assailed with impunity,—until piracy was extinguished in
the north of Europe. In the fifth century, the pirates besieged Orleans,
and formed many settlements on the western coast. About the middle of
the sixth, Hamlet of Jutland is said to have fought the Franks in
person, and to have been defeated. The period, however, of Hamlet, is
purely conjectural; and his descent on the coast is equally so. But that
the Normans were there is affirmed by the contemporary Gregory of Tours,
who describes their ravages with much interest. Under the Carlovingians,
the piratical armaments were more powerful than at any preceding time.
In 795, the Danes ravaged Friesland; from 800, the coasts of Flanders
and France were infested; nor could the genius and vast resources of
Charlemagne punish their audacity. On witnessing their fugitive
depredations, he is said to have predicted the trouble which they would
cause his successors. Such a prediction required no supernatural
discernment; but it proves that the monarch had formed a correct
estimate of northern piracy. For the greater part of a century, however,
they did not appear in any overwhelming numbers on the French coast. The
forces of the Northmen were too much scattered over the deep, in
England, Ireland, the Orkneys, and the Baltic, to admit of any
considerable concentration at a given point. Their efforts, however
destructive, were desultory, and might have been easily repelled, had
there been any wisdom or any vigour in the government. But the sons of
the emperor Louis were too eager to destroy each other, to have time for
the chastisement of obscure pirates; and every year added to the
severity of the scourge. In 840, Rouen was burnt; and many great
monasteries of that province, defended as they were by numerous vassals,
shared the same fate. The banks of two rivers—the Seine and the
Loire—were ravaged from their mouths to the interior of France. Amboise
was next burnt, and Tours was besieged; but St. Martin saved his

[Sidenote: 840.]

The man whose ravages were to eclipse all former pirates was Hastings,
who headed the expedition into Touraine. Of him we have no mention in
the annals of the north; our only information respecting him is from the
French writers,—Dudo of St. Quentin, William of Jumvieges, William of
Poictiers, Orderic Vital, Robert Wace, and Benedict of St. Maur. In this
absence of Scandinavian authority, the critics of the north have
endeavoured to identify him with such of the Swedish, Danish, or
Norwegian chiefs, as bore a name kindred with his own. But the account
of Wace, however inaccurate in its details, is the only one that can be
followed. There was a king of Denmark, says this ecclesiastic, Lotroc,
an old man, who had a son called Biorn, surnamed Ironside, from his
defensive armour. Finding that his kingdom was too populous, he revived
an ancient law, which forced all the sons of a family except one, to
seek their fortunes on the deep. A considerable number of vessels being
prepared, Biorn was placed over the fleet; but, as his years were yet
tender, he was subjected to the councils of Hadding, or Hasting, a
veteran chief of the pirates. Who was this king? Modern writers
unanimously affirm that he was the celebrated Ragnar Lodbrog. In this
case, Biorn could be no other than Biorn Ironside, who, on the death of
his father in 794, ascended the throne of the Swedes. Yet how will this
chronology agree with the facts? The expedition of Hastings must be
referred to the middle of the ninth century; when, if any dependence is
to be placed on the critical historians of the north, Biorn had been
dead forty years. But wherever the name of this Lodbrog occurs, there is
the same chronological confusion; nor can we be surprised that Suhm
makes two heroes of that name,—one of the eighth, the other of the ninth

[Sidenote: 842 to 844.]

When Hastings arrived off the coast, he divided his fleet into two
squadrons. One ascended the Somme, set fire to the towns which lay on
its banks, and murdered the inhabitants. The other proceeded to the
mouth of the Loire, and committed the same depredations on its banks.
Nantes was taken, and all who had sought refuge in the cathedral were
put to death. Churches, monasteries, towns, hamlets,—everything which
lay in the passage of the invaders, was destroyed. Proceeding to the
south, they ravaged the coasts of Galicia, but were defeated by the king
of Leon. This check forced them from Spain; but they spread their wild
hordes over the south of France, from Thoulouse to the Pyrenees. As they
had established a kind of wooden fortress on the Loire, they now erected
one on the Garonne. But they were not satisfied with the failure of
their arms against Spain; they were determined, by future successes, to
blot out the memory of this disgrace; and, with a larger fleet, they
returned to that peninsula. Lisbon, then an inconsiderable town, was
plundered; passing to the south and east, the armament ascended the
Guadalquivir, and assailed the important city of Seville, then in the
power of the Mohammedans. Strange was the chance which thus brought the
robbers of Scandinavia and those of the Arabian deserts into collision
with each other. But the followers of Odin had the advantage over those
of Mohammed; doubtless because the latter were few in number, and
unprepared for the attack. From this city they made some predatory
excursions into the neighbouring country; but the Arabs, by surprising a
part of their fleet, counter-balanced the advantage they had just

[Sidenote: 845 to 859.]

Whether Hastings was present in the expedition to Spain may be doubted.
There were several chiefs of the pirates, from all parts of Scandinavia;
and while one was laying waste the maritime coasts of the South, others
were equally active on those of France. Hastings, however, was at the
head of the party which, proceeding by way of Fescamp and Rouen,
extended its ravages over most of Neustria and Bretagne, and even to the
gates of Paris. All France was in consternation. The monks especially
were surprised that their holy relics had no power to arrest the
progress of the barbarians. St. Martin had saved Tours; but there was no
saint to defend the magnificent religious houses which were now
destroyed by the Northmen. When the enemy approached, the monks retired
with the relics, heaping curses loud and deep on these “men of hell,”
these “spawn of the devil.” But their curses were ineffectual as their
relics, and the tide of destruction flowed on. Many were the presents
which the Carlovingian kings made to the invaders to remove the scourge.
As in England, the money was received, but the depredations were only
transferred to some other part of the kingdom. But, so many were the
armaments which every year arrived from the North, and so many the
chiefs to be bribed, that the resources of the country were insufficient
for the purpose. It was probably this circumstance which led Hastings
into the Mediterranean. He had heard of Rome; and the glory no less than
the advantage of sacking that celebrated city, led him to the shores of
Italy. On his way, he plundered the coasts of Spain, of Africa, and
those of the islands which he passed. Disembarking in Tuscany, he
assailed Luna, which he is absurdly said to have mistaken for Rome; and
failing in his attempt to carry it by storm, he recurred to an
experiment which we have more than once read in the history of the
north. He caused the inhabitants to be informed that he was disgusted
with his manner of life; that he would repent; that he was the victim of
an incurable disease; that he wished to be baptized before his death.
The credulous ecclesiastics obtained a suspension of hostilities, and
prepared for the ceremony which was “to wash this Ethiop white.” On the
day appointed, he was carried in a litter to the cathedral; and he acted
his part to admiration. He received the holy rite with much appearance
of devotion; all must see that his days were drawing to their close; and
he begged that his bones might be deposited in one of the vaults beneath
the church. That was sacred ground; and when surrounded by the ashes of
saints and martyrs, he might hope to escape the pursuits of the evil
one. Who could refuse so humble a request? He was borne to his ship,
which he was scarcely expected to see alive. No sooner was he on board,
than he cast away his disease, and mentioned to his followers the plan
which he had devised for the capture of the city. In a short time, a
loud cry of grief was heard on board his vessel; the neophyte was dead,
and preparations were made for the funeral. When the day appointed by
the clergy arrived, the coffin, attended by all the chiefs, and a great
number of warriors, was slowly borne from the ship to the cathedral. It
was placed on a bier, near the choir of the church, and the funeral
service was commenced. The congregation to witness the ceremony was
great; it comprised the bishop, the clergy, the governor, the military,
and the principal inhabitants. Mass was sung; the funeral hymns were
chaunted; prayers for the requiem of the new-born soul were humbly
offered; and the attendants advanced to the bier to lower the corpse
into its last resting-place. At this moment, Hastings arose; his
warriors drew their swords from beneath their long cloaks, which were at
once thrown on the pavement; the doors were fastened; the work of
carnage commenced, and every one present was laid dead in the place. The
city was easily won; the inhabitants were massacred; the most precious
effects borne to the ships, and the city consumed by fire. This may seem
to be romance rather than history; but it is attested by so many
writers, and is so conformable with the character of the pagan
Scandinavians at once violent and treacherous that we dare not wholly
reject it. The circumstances may be embellished; but the foundation of
the story is probably true.[284]

[Sidenote: 858 to 863.]

While Hastings was in Italy, Biorn was pursuing the work of destruction
in France. In vain did Charles the Bald endeavour to expel him from the
kingdom. Arms being ineffectual, negotiation was tried, and for a large
sum Biorn consented to leave France. On his return, feeling that he was
indisposed, he landed on the coast, and there died. While the French
were congratulating themselves on this unexpected deliverance, they were
thrown into consternation by the news that Hastings was just returned
from Italy, and renewing his ravages. A misfortune which he had
sustained on the passage—that of being compelled through the violence of
the storm to throw overboard his numerous captives and most precious
effects—made him the more eager to repair his fortunes. Entering the
Rhone, and forming another entrenchment, he sent or headed detachments,
which plundered Arles, Nismes, and most of the towns between the Alps
and the Pyrenees. While thus occupied, another formidable body in the
Seine, which had not shared in the treaty made by Biorn, ravaged the
country to the gates of Paris. A third soon landed from the north, and
commenced its career by the destruction of Amiens; while a fourth was
equally mischievous in Flanders. Charles had, as before, recourse to
negotiation. To the party which had destroyed Amiens he engaged to pay
three thousand pounds weight of fine gold—an immense sum, and surely an
exaggeration. It is, however, certain that a heavy tax was levied on the
whole kingdom, and that in twelve months it was not wholly collected.
But while the negotiation was pending, other armaments arrived, and even
the king began to perceive that to purchase the retreat of one while so
many others were left to pursue their depredations, was great folly. The
negotiation, consequently, assumed a new character: and the pirates were
now to be paid, not for leaving the kingdom, but for assisting to expel
other bodies of their countrymen from it. Accordingly, there followed
some desultory hostilities between these kindred robbers: but while they
were thus occupied, other bands were carrying their depredations into
the heart of France. In the end, however, two of the armaments were
persuaded to leave the shores—probably to join in the conquest of
England, now governed by the feeble brothers of Alfred. But two yet
remained that of Hastings, and one stationed in the Loire. As the former
was so dreaded, his neutrality, at least, was to be purchased on any
terms. The abbot of St. Denis repaired to the head quarters of the
chief, and with some difficulty prevailed on him to accept the royal
offers. These were, a large sum of money, and the fief of Chartres with
the title of count, on the condition of his embracing Christianity, and,
as a French vassal, of aiding his liege superior against all enemies.
The conditions were accepted, and the fierce pirate of the Baltic became
one of the noblest peers of France.[285]

[Sidenote: 863 to 876.]

There now remained one piratical band only,—that on the Loire. As Paris
had been more than once menaced, king Charles caused to be constructed
on the Seine, below that city, a bridge, which was intended to arrest
the progress of the hostile vessels, by its inability to admit the high
masts. The writers of that period are minute in describing the excesses
of these men, whom they accompany step by step. But the detail is
tedious: in general they have more sympathy for churches and abbeys,
than for the peasantry; and much louder is their cry when a solitary
priest is massacred at the altar, or a sacred relic borne away, than
when a town is put to the sword. No church, no monastery, no village or
town was spared,—nothing which had not the means of self-defence. In 867
the robbers appeared in the vicinity of Paris: the bridge prevented
their arriving under the walls; and they established their head quarters
at the abbey of St. Denis. From thence they spread into the neighbouring
country, and acquired immense booty. But a contagious disease appearing
among them, and reducing their numbers, they slowly descended the river
to wait for reinforcements, which were constantly arriving on the coast.
But these reinforcements were now smaller than they had lately been:
three fourths of all the pirates that swept the seas were in England,
preparing to drive Alfred from the throne; and though those who remained
in France effected great mischief, they would have been unable to resist
any considerable body. They were not, however, inured to open campaigns:
their hostilities were undertaken on a smaller scale,—were generally
directed against some town or religious edifice where there was less
danger of resistance; and when assailed (as was sometimes the case) by a
much superior force, they retired into their fortified places. Angers,
which they captured in 873, was one of these. On this occasion Charles
the Bald exhibited an energy to which he was usually a stranger. He
raised an army, marched to Angers, compelled the Northmen to evacuate
it, and retire to their island entrenchments on the Loire. From this
place their predatory excursions were resumed. But they are beneath the
notice of history: they were undertaken, not for conquest, but for
booty. The period, however, is arrived when we must accompany the
exploits of one who did conquer, and who laid the foundation of a state
powerful enough to effect the greatest revolutions in Europe.[286]

Rognevald was one of the jarls of Harald the Fair-haired. After serving
his monarch in many difficult and dangerous enterprises, he fell in
battle. Of his sons, one, Einar, became jarl of the Orkneys. Einar was
an ambitious man. When Halfdan, a son of Harald, expelled him from their
island, he obtained reinforcements in Scotland, returned to the charge,
and deprived Halfdan of authority and life. Harald sailed to avenge the
death of his son; but Einar was left in possession of the government.
Not inferior to Einar in ambition or valour, was _Hrolf_, or
_Rollo_,—the _Rou_ of the Norman writers,—another son of Rognevald.
According to the Icelandic sagas, he was so tall and so robust that no
horse could carry him: hence his appellation of Hrolf _Gangr_, or the
Walker. Like his ancestors, he passed his time on the deep, and enriched
himself by his depredations on the shores of the Baltic. The death of
his father, and the rebellion of his elder brother, made him probably
less attached to the interests of Harald, or less obedient to his
commands. It is certain that he ventured to do what had been so
rigorously forbidden,—to make a piratical descent on the Norwegian
coast. The monarch was in the town which Rollo endeavoured to sack; and
his indignation at the attempt led him to banish the pirate for ever.
Whether this could be much punishment to one whose life had been passed
far from Norway may be doubted. Collecting as great a number of vessels
as were willing to join him,—and the dignity of his family no less than
his own prowess made him a popular chief,—he sailed for France. In his
way he appears to have made some piratical descents on the Scottish and
English coasts; and though he could not make much impression on either,
he did what, in his present circumstances, was quite as advantageous—he
loaded his ships with booty. Dudo of St. Quentin, and Wace, determined
that the founder of the Norman dynasty shall be a favourite of heaven,
introduce some visions and other miscellaneous appearances, which the
historian must leave to the monastic chronicler. These are harmless, and
may be despised; but when, to dignify the chief of some great family,
history is perverted, a severer censure is necessary. Thus, Dudo (who is
followed by many Norman writers) informs us that Rollo was powerful
enough to become the ally and friend of Alfred; that by the Saxon
monarch he was provided with a fleet to make war on the French king;
that in gratitude for this aid he afterwards assisted Alfred—whom his
subjects or the Danes had dethroned—to reascend the throne. How living
writers could fall into the absurdity of receiving such statements,
which are contrary to the unanimous voices of contemporary history, is

[Sidenote: 876 to 888.]

The year in which Rollo arrived in the south is not very clearly
established. Schoning has 995; but this will not bear the test of
scrutiny, for the French and Norman writers assert that he was occupied
above thirty years in his subjugation of Normandy, and we know that he
was recognised its duke in 912. Asser of St. David’s—a contemporary—has
the year 876, and he is confirmed by the writers nearest to the period;
yet there are some chronological difficulties which we cannot remove.
Harald of Norway did not undertake the voyage to the Orkneys before the
year 895; and the banishment of Rollo is assigned to the year following.
The only way to reconcile this anachronism is by the conjecture that
Rollo, being exiled for piracy in 876, joined his countrymen and the
Danes, who were ravaging England and France; that he established himself
at Rouen, but frequently extended his devastations to the north and east
of that city; that he was more than once in England, and perhaps in the
north, before his recognition as duke of Normandy. But let us follow his
footsteps. Landing at Walcheren, he defeated the count of Hainault, whom
he captured, and exacted a heavy sum by way of ransom. Repairing to
Rouen, he was not so ruthless as to destroy it: he accepted from the
archbishop a sum of money, fortified it, and made it the basis of his
operations against the French king. His arrival threw France into
consternation; and Hastings was sent to learn his object, which he
coolly replied was—conquest. But whether at this period he proceeded far
in his operations may well be doubted. His name does not appear in the
siege of Paris, which took place in 886, nor in many other enterprises
which from 876 to 896—that is, twenty years—afflicted France. Yet the
names of other chiefs are specified. As we have already conjectured, he
was probably for some years in England, or in the north. Certainly he
could not have entered on that splendid career which led to his
elevation, before the year 890, or later still. Yet it is possible that
he might be joined with the other chiefs in the devastations which, from
876,—during full thirty years,—afflicted the whole of France. However
this be, in ten years after his first disembarkation, siege was laid to
Paris. It is described by a contemporary poet,—by an eye-witness, Abbo,
monk of Fleury. It was of considerable duration, and many were the
desperate assaults which were made upon the city; but they were as
bravely repelled; and the siege was raised. Yet the Northmen did not
retire further than the abbey of St. Germain’s, where they continued for
some time to despatch their destructive hordes. As no great enemy was
before them, they split into two bodies; and while one was collecting
booty and burning villages, another laid siege to Chartres. In this
attempt, however, they failed,—a result which Wace ascribes to the
virtue of a certain relic.[288] A new attack was made on Paris, but with
as little effect. At this juncture arrived the emperor Charles the Fat,
to succour the capital; and the expulsion of the pirates seemed
inevitable. But far different was the result: without striking a blow,
he negotiated, and agreed to give the pirates seven hundred pounds of
gold, with permission to ravage the two sides of the Seine into
Burgundy, provided they would then leave—not France, but the central
provinces. They received the money, and ravaged Burgundy; but they had
no intention to forsake the fertile plains of the interior for the
dreary maritime coast.[289]

[Sidenote: 888 to 896.]

Though Eudes defeated the pirates, this was merely a temporary check,—so
temporary as scarcely to arrest their progress. Meaux was besieged and
taken; Champagne, Lorraine, and Burgundy were ravaged; Troyes, Chalons,
Toul, Verdun were occupied; Picardy and Artois, to the borders of the
sea, were laid waste. Contemporaneously with these rapid successes were
the depredations of the pirates who were still entrenched on the Loire.
There was no rest for France; no hope of expelling her daring intruders.
Though Eudes had triumphed over the pirates, the next time they assailed
that capital he was glad to purchase their retreat. Descending the river
to its mouth, they next assailed the fortress of St. Loo. It was
compelled to capitulate; but no conditions were binding on these
wretches, who regarded oaths as vain formalities: instead of security
for their lives, the inhabitants found a grave. Bretagne was now
ravaged; but duke Alan was braver and more, fortunate than Eudes. Though
the invaders were 15,000 in number, he assailed them, at a moment, too,
when they were flushed with victory over a rival duke. His success was
splendid; thousands were left dead on the field; the rest were put to
flight. But even this success was scarcely a check to these wild sons of
the deep. Driven from England by the genius of Alfred, they came in
fearful numbers to France. They occupied both the coasts and the centre;
and they traversed every part of the kingdom with an impunity surprising
to posterity.[290]

[Sidenote: 896 to 909.]

In how many of these embassies Rollo was an actor, we shall not venture
to decide. Whether he was not much in England, as well as in France;
whether he was not alternately engaged in both kingdoms, must be left to
the reader’s own inference. This, at least, is certain, that from the
year 896 his name and exploits fill the page of French history, to the
exclusion of many other names which had before occupied it. From that
year, too, must be dated those rapid and decisive successes which
insured his future greatness. The banishment of so many pirates from the
north by Harald Harfager now sent larger swarms to the south. The first
care of Rollo was to strengthen the fortifications of Rouen, which had
been destroyed in his absence (whether that absence were in England, or
the interior of France, we will not decide), and which he now made
formidable. Next, both sides of the Seine felt the vigour of his genius.
The forces which were sent to oppose him he defeated. But we cannot
follow his steps. Let it be sufficient to observe, that he was almost
uniformly successful; that in several battles he was the victor; that
Bayeux, Evreux, Nantes, and many places of inferior note were taken by
him; that he partitioned the lands which he subdued among his warriors,
to be held of him as the liege head, under the usual feudal conditions.
From this policy and this success, we should infer that he was in one
respect the counterpart of his countrymen—that he protected, instead of
destroying, the peasantry—that he encouraged, instead of abolishing,
Christianity. Probably much of his moderation was owing to the councils
of Franco, archbishop of Rouen, his chief vassal. Alarmed at the
progress of his arms, Charles the Simple applied through Franco for a
truce, which was readily granted. There can, indeed, be little doubt
that the success of Hastings was before the eyes of Rollo, and that he
aspired to a lordship much more ample than Chartres,—one which he should
compel the French king to cede to him, and thereby give him a proud seat
amongst the princes of Europe. Hence the readiness with which he
listened to Franco, especially when assured that Charles had already
contemplated his investiture with some portion of his new conquests. The
truce, indeed, was not agreeable to some of the French peers, and
hostilities were recommenced, much to the injury of France. There was
not a province which some of his bands did not traverse; there was
scarcely one which he did not plunder; and though frequently repulsed,
they always returned to the charge. The French began to murmur, and
Charles to apply himself still more seriously to a permanent
understanding with Rollo. Hostilities had availed nothing; France had
lost many thousands of her bravest defenders, and hundreds of thousands
of her peaceful inhabitants; and if the invaders had also lost many
considerable detachments, their ranks were speedily replenished by new
immigrations from the north.[291]

[Sidenote: 910 to 912.]

About the year 910, or perhaps the year following, Franco, at the
command of Charles, opened the important negotiation with this
adventurer. The offers were—Neuctria with the ducal title, and the hand
of Gisele, a natural daughter of the king, provided he would embrace
Christianity, and become the liege vassal of the French crown. This
prelate was an eloquent, persuasive man, and had already considerable
influence over the mind of Rollo. But that chief objected to one of the
conditions as not sufficiently liberal. Neuctria he had already; and
there was no great generosity in recognising his title to that which
nobody could wrest from him. Besides, it was, he alleged, barren and
half-peopled; but he forgot that this result was his own work and that
of his countrymen. Franco then offered a portion of Bretagne—perhaps the
whole—as an arriere-fief; and Rollo no longer hesitated. He had a wife
already, Popa, the daughter of a French count; and her he repudiated,—on
what ground is matter of dispute; but surely there need be none. Rollo
was not yet a Christian; he had not been married in any Christian
church; how then could the church recognise the union? Gisele,
therefore, was to become the bride of the chief. A meeting of Rollo and
of Charles was appointed at St. Clair-sur-Epte, a place on the frontier
of Normandy. In 912, both repaired to that town,—Charles with a splendid
retinue of nobles and prelates, by whose advice he had entered into a
treaty with the new vassal. Here the investiture took place; Rollo did
homage to the sovereign, and both acts were witnessed by the French
nobles. To kneel before the monarch, hold up his hands between those of
the superior, and repeat a certain formula called an oath, were no great
acts of degradation; and to these Rollo had no objection. But the homage
was not complete until the regal foot was kissed. To this humiliation he
would not stoop, and he was allowed to perform it by deputy. A warrior
of his suite was accordingly brought forward; but he was no less proud
than his master; and on the royal foot being somewhat raised, he raised
it still higher, and threw the poor monarch on his back, amidst the
suppressed laughter of the assembly.[292]

[Sidenote: 912.]

Thus was a fierce, an obscure pirate invested with one of the most
important fiefs in Europe. His successors were, like him, valiant and
politic; and by their means the duchy was raised to a height of power
that rendered it a rival at once to the French and English kings. By
what degrees, however, this progressive greatness was achieved, must be
left to the historian of France. It is sufficient for us to observe that
the new state became a successful barrier against the pagans of
Scandinavia. Not that, both in Bretagne and Gascony, new armaments did
not arrive and do some mischief; but it was transient, and no fear was
entertained that the most powerful cities of France would ever again be
assailed by them. When they did appear in any district, they were soon
repulsed. The policy, therefore, of erecting Neustria into a state, and
confiding it to the government of a race of heroes, was a wise one. A
successor of Charles the Simple endeavoured to dethrone a grandson of
Rollo; but, as we have already seen, Harald of Denmark sailed to the aid
of the young duke, took the French king prisoner, and restored the
relation between duke and monarch to the state in which it was on the
death of Rollo.[293]

3. _Ireland._ At what period the Northmen first commenced their
depredations in Ireland is, like many other points of northern history,
impossible to be established. The Irish annals themselves contain no
record of such transactions prior to the eighth century; yet they must
have happened before. If little reliance is to be placed on the
statement of Saxo, that Fridleif I. and Frode III. conquered and
plundered Dublin, it would be rash to affirm that there was not a very
ancient intercourse between that island and Scandinavia. Whether the
Lochlans, or Dwellers of the Lakes, were Scandinavians, or the Scottish
Highlanders, has been matter of great dispute. We know, however, that,
in the ninth century, the Danes were expressly called Lochlans by the
Irish, and that the term was used at an earlier period to designate some
maritime people with whom the natives had a frequent intercourse. The
term, however, might be applied to both the Gael and the Northmen,—to
all maritime nations. On this subject let us hear the last and most
eloquent of Irish historians:—

    In proof of the Danes having been the people with whom this
    early intercourse was maintained, the authority of a number of
    modern historians has been adduced, according to whose accounts
    it would seem that, from a period preceding the birth of Christ,
    a succession of invasions of this island from Denmark had been
    commenced; and that, for some centuries after, a course of
    alternate hostility and friendship marked the relations between
    the two countries. Imposing, however, as is the array of
    northern authorities for this statement, the entire value of
    their united evidence may be reduced to that of the single
    testimony of that of Saxo Grammaticus, from whose pages they
    have all copied; and it is well known, for all the earlier
    portion of this eloquent writer’s history, the foundation is as
    unsound and unreal as Scaldic fable and fallacious chronology
    could make it. The only circumstance that lends any semblance of
    credit to the accounts given by northern histotorians of the
    early fortunes of Ireland, is the known fact that the chief
    materials of their own history were derived from records
    preserved in Iceland: to which island inaccessible as it might
    seem to have been to the rude navigation of those days, it is
    certain that a number of Irish missionaries of the seventh and
    eighth centuries contrived to find their way. We learn, from
    more than one authentic source, that, when the Norwegians first
    arrived in Iceland, they found there traces of its having been
    previously inhabited by a Christian people; and the Irish books,
    bells, and holy staves, left behind by the former dwellers,
    sufficiently denoted the religious island from whence they had
    migrated. The title of Papas, which it appears was borne by
    them, has led to the conclusion that they must have been Irish
    priests who had adventurously fixed themselves in this desolate
    region; and, under the same name, they were found in the Orkneys
    when the Norwegians conquered those islands. Unless we were to
    suppose, however, that among the books left by those
    missionaries in Iceland, there were any relating to Irish
    history of which the chroniclers consulted by Saxo might have
    availed themselves, the incident, though curious and well
    attested, affords but slight grounds for placing reliance on
    these early northern annals, whose sources of information are
    known to have been spurious, and to whose general character for
    extravagant fiction, the few brief notices which they contain
    respecting Irish affairs, can hardly be expected to furnish an
    exception. Nor is any more serious credit due to them when they
    represent Dublin to have been in possession of the Danes a short
    time before the birth of Christ, than when they assert that
    London was built by these northern people about the very same
    period. Fabulous, however, as are these accounts, yet that, long
    before either the Danish or even the Saxon invasions, the coasts
    of the Baltic had sent forth colonies to the British Isles, is a
    fact to which foreign as well as domestic tradition bears
    testimony. The conjecture of Tacitus, that the people called
    Picts were a Germanic or northern race, is confirmed by the
    traditional accounts of this people, preserved in the chronicles
    of Britain; and all the early Scandinavian legends concur with
    the annals of Ireland in intimating, at some remote period,
    relations of intercourse between the two countries. We have
    seen, in a preceding part of this work, what almost certain
    grounds there are for believing that those Scyths, or Scots,
    who, at the time when Ireland first became known to modern
    Europe, formed the dominant part of her people, were a colony
    from some region bordering on the Baltic Sea which had, a few
    centuries before, gained possession of this island. From
    whatever part these Scythian adventurers may have arrived,
    whether from the Cimbric peninsula, the islands of the Baltic,
    or the Scandinavian shores, it may be concluded that with that
    region the occasional intercourse was afterwards maintained, and
    those alliances and royal intermarriages formed of which, in our
    ancient traditions and records, some scattered remembrances
    still remain. With respect to those swarms of sea-rovers who,
    throughout the dark and troubled period we are now approaching,
    carried on their long career of havoc and blood, though known
    most popularly in English history by the general name of Danes,
    they are but rarely, and not till a late period, thus designated
    in our annals. By Tigernach, the earliest existing annalist,
    they are invariably called Gâll, or Strangers; while, in the
    Annals of Inisfallen, of Ulster, and of the Four Masters, they
    are styled indifferently either Galls, Gentiles, Dwellers on the
    Lakes, or Pirates; but in not more than two or three instances
    are they called Normans, and as seldom Danes.[294]

[Sidenote: 795 to 820.]

We must be satisfied with the general inference that Ireland was visited
by the Northmen as soon, or nearly as soon, as Scotland, and the
Scottish islands. The first visit of which we have any record was in
795, in the reign of Aidan, monarch of the country. Leaving Iona, the
monastery of which they had laid in ashes, the sea kings proceeded to
the north-western coast, landed, and ravaged the country as far as
Roscommon. This was, probably, the work of years: here, as everywhere
else, they would form intrenchments at the mouths of the great rivers,
the banks of which, for twenty leagues round, they would lay waste as
far as boats could ascend. They appear to have been twelve years in the
country before any serious resistance was made. In 812 they were
defeated; but defeat, so long as the sea was open, and communication
with it maintained by navigable rivers, was speedily repaired. In 815, a
Norwegian chief named Turges, or Thorgils, arrived with a more powerful
armament, and, during thirty years, was a dreadful scourge not only to
the northern, but to the eastern and southern districts of the island.
Their fury was peculiarly directed against the holy places, especially
the monastery of Banchor and the cathedral of Armagh, which they
revisited and destroyed every time they heard of their restoration.
Every cell, every chapel, every holy place to which the superstitious
piety of the age resorted, naturally attracted their notice. But in the
atrocities which they committed, and which the unanimous voice of every
kingdom they visited—from Greece to Ireland—has immortalised, they must
have been actuated by other motives than the hope of gain. If they were
savage to the laity, they were demoniacal to the ecclesiastics. Probably
their superior ferocity in the latter case may be explained by the deep
hatred which the persecutions of Charlemagne had produced (as we have
before intimated, under the term _Saxons_ must also be included the
Scandinavians, and perhaps some tribes of the great Slavonic family).
But against that great man, we are not disposed to join in the hostility
of some modern writers. The men with whom the emperor had to deal were
without honour, without virtue of any kind, men who regarded the most
solemn oaths as empty sounds, who loved war as much for the plunder
which it brought as for the gratification of shedding blood. But were
not the Saxons and Danes fighting for their liberties? True, and the
greatest of them was the liberty to plunder the rest of the world,—to
trample under foot all humanity, all moral virtue,—to be the tyrants of
Europe. Charlemagne triumphed over them, and we rejoice at his success;
nor, had he exterminated the whole people, should he be censured by

[Sidenote: 820 to 848.]

The desolation which, at this period more than any other, afflicted
Ireland, might easily have been averted, had there been a central
government strong enough to rally around it the hearts and arms of the
people. But the monarch was merely a titular one, and less powerful than
his vassals. Instead of harmony there was dissension only among the
members of the body politic; and this evil was aggravated a hundred fold
by the mischievous practice of hiring the aid of strangers. When, in
837, another powerful reinforcement arrived from the north, and
commenced its depredations on the banks of the Liffey and the Boyne, the
evil which, since 795, had afflicted the country, was increased a
thousand fold. There was not, says the eloquent historian of Ireland, “a
single spot of renown in the ecclesiastical history of our country, not
one of those numerous religious foundations, the seats and monuments of
the early piety of her sons, that was not frequently, during this
period, made the scene of the most fearful and brutal excesses.” Let it
not be forgotten that this frequency of destruction evinces the zeal of
the Irish in rebuilding their holy places, and the intrepidity with
which they repaired to them, even when assured that they should be there
met by incarnate demons, and sent to aggrandise the “noble army of
martyrs.” In general the higher dignitaries were spared for the sake of
the ransom. The mischief was, that the head quarters of Turges always
presented a rallying-point for the defeated Northmen, and for such new
comers as arrived on the coast. The way in which this veteran chief at
last met his fate, is romantically told by Giraldus de Barri. He had
fallen in love, says that amusing Welchman, with the daughter of the
king of Meath, and he made known his love to the father. Pretending to
comply with his suit, a day was appointed on which Turges, attended by
fifteen followers, was to meet his bride, accompanied by as many
maidens, on a small island of Loch-Var. To the place of meeting,
however, the Irish lady was escorted by fifteen young men in the female
garb, and they destroyed the tyrant. Probably the relation of the native
annalists, that he was drowned in that lake by the king of Meath, is the
true one. However this be, his death was a fatal blow to the
Scandinavian power in Ireland. From this period (844) we read, indeed,
of their depredations, of their formidable combinations, even of their
victories; but there was no longer the same hope, the same confidence in
their invincibility.[296]

[Sidenote: 849 to 872.]

In 849, another powerful armament arrived from the north. Their policy
was not merely to plunder, but to take advantage of the civil wars which
desolated Ireland, by hiring their services to the highest bidder. In
850, they were employed by the monarch in his contest with a native
king, and the example was speedily followed by his royal subjects. In
this year, too, we perceive that Dublin was in the power of the
Northmen, and one of their chief seats: probably it had been so for half
a century, or longer still. It was fortunate for the Irish that the
different Scandinavian people who thus harassed them were often the
enemies of each other. Sometimes they fought under the banners of
Christian princes; at other times they contended alone. Thus, in 850,
the Dubh-Gals, or black strangers, assailed the Fin-Gals, or white
strangers, of Dublin. Who were they? Were they Scottish Highlanders? or
were the former Slavonic, the latter Scandinavian, pirates? This
question can never be answered to our entire satisfaction; but we cannot
easily believe that any chief of the Highlands could equip so powerful
an armament as that which assailed the establishment of Dublin. Three
years afterwards, Anlaf, Ivar, and Sitric, all brothers, and princes
from Scandinavia, arrived with a great armament, and seated themselves
in three great stations,—Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford. Probably the
last-named city was founded by Sitric. His two brothers considerably
extended their frontiers. They appear, too, so far to have acted in
concert as to compel the Irish princes to pay them an annual
tribute,—something like the Danegelt, which was so oppressive to the
English. Anlaf, indeed, was a remarkable character; but if the
chronology be correct, which places his arrival in the year 853, he must
not be confounded with the prince whom, in 924, Athelstane defeated. His
kingdom of Dublin, which comprehended the county and much of its
neighbourhood, was amplified no less than defended by him, with success.
Not that advantages were not sometimes won from him. On one occasion he
was pursued into his capital, and his territory wasted to its very
gates. But this, at such a period, when everything depended on a
surprise, was a very ordinary result; and that very month he might be
able to extend his ravages to the centre of the island. That he
frequently did so, we know,—sometimes alone, sometimes in conjunction
with his brothers, at other times as the ally of the native princes. But
that they were always in the country does not appear probable. If this
Ivar be the man who was also king of Northumberland, his territories in
England must have frequently required his presence. Anlaf, too, had a
principality on this side of the channel; for he is styled king of all
the Northmen in Ireland and Britain. But connected with him, with his
royal brothers, and their reputed father, Ragnar Lodbrog, are so many
chronological difficulties, that we can never reconcile them. One of
these princes, according to the Annals of Ulster, died in 874; as all
came in the middle of the century, none could long survive that period;
even then, if they were the sons of the Ragnar who was killed in 794,
and who immediately afterwards descended on the Northumbrian coast, they
must have reached an age nearly centennial. That there has been a sad
confusion of names—for all were common in the Scandinavian annals—is
undoubted. Then the confusion in the orthography of proper words—Anlaf,
for example, being written Alaf, Olaf, Amlain, Amlaiph, &c.—must add to
the hopelessness of the historian’s task. Three kings of this name, all
celebrated during the first half of the ninth century, could not be the
princes who, under the same names, obtained so much celebrity during the
first half of the tenth. Either, therefore, the chronology is wrong, or
the events are for ever confounded. In this, as in every other case,
historians have adopted the same mode of solution,—that there were two
individuals of the name existing at periods considerably removed from
each other.[297]

[Sidenote: 872 to 1000.]

For many years after this period, we read that the Northmen were in
possession of Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford, the chiefs of which had
the regal title. Early in the tenth, indeed, they were expelled from the
first of these cities by the people of Leinster; but the misfortune must
have been soon repaired: for in a few years afterwards, we find Godfrey,
grandson of Ivar, reigning there, and forcing tribute from most of the
princes in the south. In 926, however, the pirates were signally
defeated in Ulster, and eighty of their chiefs slain. The moral effect
of these victories could be no other than to inspire the natives with
new hope, and to procure them new successes. In 936, a greater loss was
inflicted on the Scandinavians of Dublin. Five years afterwards, a
similar advantage was gained over them; but either they must have had
speedy means of reinforcing themselves, or their losses must have been
grossly exaggerated. Nor could they be very unfortunate, if it be true
that after their partial conversion to Christianity, in 948, they
erected the great abbey of St. Mary, in the vicinity of Dublin. Yet they
were sometimes tributary to Murkertach, one of the native kings, and the
most celebrated hero of his age; and Dublin was frequently in the hands
of the Irish; but it was as frequently retaken. These alternations of
success and disaster comprehend the history of the Northmen in Ireland.
But after the accession of Brian, surnamed Born, or the exacter of
tributes, the decline which had for above half a century been visible in
the affairs of the pirates, became signally rapid. Many were the
successive engagements in which that heroic chief had the advantage. In
969, he took and destroyed Limerick; in 972, he recovered the island of
Iniscathy, to which the natives attached no ordinary sanctity; in 980, a
great confederation of the pirates who had penetrated into the heart of
the country, were defeated by Malachi, the monarch of Ireland. This last
victory deserves more than ordinary remembrance, from the fact that it
gave freedom to some thousands of Irish captives. In 989, Dublin was
besieged during twenty days by the monarch of Ireland; and being forced
to capitulate, it agreed that every house should annually pay one ounce
of gold to the native hero. Probably this convention was ill kept: for
in 994, he was again before that city. The success over the common enemy
would have been more signal, had not Brian and the titular monarch been
frequently at war with each other. But in 997, they united their forces,
and marched on Dublin. Three years afterwards, we find the Danes as
vassals in the armies of Brian.[298]

[Sidenote: 1000 to 1014.]

But we must hasten over the obscure battles of the period, and come at
once to that which for ever broke the Danish sceptre in Ireland. In
1014, the Danes, having collected reinforcements from all parts of
Europe, and concentrated their strength on the plain of Clontorf, fought
a battle memorable in the Irish annals. Fortunately for the natives, the
same necessity of combination made them for a moment suspend their
private feuds, and march to resist the common enemy. Splendid was the
victory which awaited Brian; but he fell, being treacherously
assassinated in his tent in the hour of success. From this moment may be
dated the destruction of the gigantic enemy. Dying struggles it
exhibited, and struggles such as became a giant; but the blow was
struck; and, however lingering the disease, the end was sure to be





                          KING OLUF THE SAINT.

                 (_Foreign Quarterly Review, No. XI._)

           “King Oluf and his brother bold,
            ’Bout Norroway’s rocks a parley hold.

           “‘The one of the two who best can sail,
            Shall rule o’er Norroway’s hill and dale.

           “‘Who first of us reaches our native ground,
            O’er all the region shall king be crown’d.’

           “Then Harald Haardrode answer made:
            ‘Ay, let it be done as thou hast said;

           “‘But if I to-day must sail with thee,
           Thou shalt change thy vessel, I swear, with me:

           “‘For thou hast got the Dragon of speed,
            I shall make with the Ox a poor figure indeed.

           “The Dragon is swift as the clouds in chace,
            The Ox, he moveth in lazy pace.’

           “‘Hear, Harald, what I have to say to thee:
            What thou hast proposed well pleaseth me.

           “‘If my ship in aught be better than thine,
            I’ll readily, cheerfully lend thee mine.

           “‘Do thou the Dragon so sprightly take,
            And I with the Ox will the journey make.

           “‘But first, to the church we’ll bend our way,
            Ere our hand on sail or on oar we lay.’

           “And into the church Saint Oluf trode,
            His beautiful hair like the bright gold glow’d.

           “But soon, out of breath, there came a man:—
            ‘Thy brother is sailing off as fast as he can.’

           “‘Let them sail, my friend, who to sail may choose,
            The word of our Lord we will not lose;—

           “‘The mass is the word of our blessed Lord.
            Take water, ye swains, for our table board.

           “‘We will sit at board, and the meat we will taste,
            Then unto the sea-shore quietly haste.’

           “Now down they all sped to the ocean-strand,
            Where the Ox lay rocking before the land:

           “And speedily they to the ocean bore
            The anchor, and cable, and sail, and oar.

           “Saint Oluf he stood on the prow when on board:
            ‘Now forward, thou Ox, in the name of the Lord.’

           “He grappled the Ox by the horn so white:
            ‘Hie now, as if thou went clover to bite.’

           “Then forward the Ox began to hie,
            In his wake stood the billows boisterously.

           “He hallooed to the lad on the yard so high:
            ‘Do we the Dragon of Harald draw nigh?’

           “‘No more of the pomps of the world I see,
            Than the uppermost top of the good oak tree.—

           “‘I see near the land of Norroway skim
            Bright silken sails with a golded rim.—

           “‘I see ‘neath Norroway’s mountains proud,
            The Dragon bearing of sail a cloud.—

           “‘I see, I see, by Norroway’s side,
            The Dragon gallantly forward stride.’

           “On the Ox’s ribs a blow he gave:
            ‘Now faster, now faster, over the wave.’

           “He struck the Ox on the eye with force:
            ‘To the haven much speedier thou must course.’

           “Then forward the Ox began to leap,
            No sailor on deck his stand could keep.

           “Then cords he took, and his mariners fast
            He tied to the vessel’s rigging and mast.

           “‘Twas then—’twas then—the steersman cried:
            ‘But who shall now the vessel guide?’

           “His little gloves off Saint Oluf throws,
            And to stand himself by the rudder goes.

           “‘Oh! we will sail o’er cliff and height,
            The nearest way, like a line of light.’

           “So o’er the hills and dales they career,
            To them they became like water clear.

           “So they sail’d along o’er the mountains blue,
            Then out came running the Elfin crew.

           “‘Who sail’s o’er the gold in which we joy?
            Our ancient father who dares annoy?’

           “‘Elf! turn to stone, and a stone remain
            Till I by this path return again.’

           “So they sail’d o’er Skaaney’s mountains tall,
            And stones became the little Elves all.

           “Out came a Carline with spindle and rok:
            ‘Saint Oluf! why sailest thou us to mock?

           “Saint Oluf, thou who the red beard hast,
            Through my chamber wall thy ship hath pass’d.’

           “With a glance of scorn did Saint Oluf say:
            ‘Stand there a flint-rock for ever and aye.’

           “Unhinder’d, unhinder’d they bravely sail’d on,
            Before them yielded both stock and stone.

           “Still onward they sail’d in such gallant guise,
            That no man upon them could fasten his eyes.

           “Saint Oluf a bow before his knee bent,
            Behind the sail dropp’d the shaft that he sent.

           “From the stern Saint Oluf a bark shot free,
            Behind the Ox fell the shaft in the sea.

           “Saint Oluf he trusted in Christ alone,
            And therefore first home by three days he won.

           “And that made Harald with fury storm:
            Of a laidly dragon he took the form.

           “But the Saint was a man of devotion full,
            And the Saint got Norroway’s land to rule.

           “Into the church Saint Oluf trode,
            He thank’d the Saviour in fervent mood.

           “Saint Oluf walk’d the church about,
            There shone a glory his ringlets out.

           “Whom God doth help makes bravely his way:
            His enemies win both shame and dismay.”




              (_From Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints._)

HE was son of Herald Grenscius, prince of Westfold in Norway, by his
wife Asta, daughter of Gulbrand Kuta, governor of Gulbrand’s Dale or
Valley. He delivered his country from the tyranny under which the Swedes
and Danes had for some time held it, whilst Norway was divided between
Sweno, king of Denmark, Olave Scot-Konung, son of Eric king of Sweden,
and Eric, son of Hacon, earl of Norway. In 1013, he sailed to England,
and successfully assisted king Ethelred against the Danes after the
death of Sueno, or Sweyn, their king. He afterwards waged war against
Olaus Scot-Konung, king of Sweden, till, making an advantageous peace,
he took to wife the daughter of that king. These two princes about that
time introduced the Romescot, a small annual tribute yearly to be paid
to the apostolic see. St. Olave brought over from England several pious
and learned priests and monks, one of whom, named Grimkele, was chosen
bishop of Drontheim, his capital. The holy king did nothing without the
advice of this prelate, and by his counsels published many wholesome
laws, and abolished such ancient laws and customs as were contrary to
the Gospel; which he did not only in Norway, but also in the isles of
Orkney and of Iceland; though the entire conquest of Orkney was reserved
to his son Magnus, who also subdued the isle of Man, as Cambden relates
from the ancient Chronicle of Man.

Our religious king, having settled his dominions in peace, set himself
to extirpate out of them the abominable superstitions of idolatry. He
travelled in person from town to town, exhorting his subjects to open
the eyes of their souls to the bright light of faith. A company of
zealous preachers attended him, and he demolished in many places the
idolatrous temples. The heathens rebelled, and with the assistance of
Canutus the Great, defeated and expelled him. St. Olave fled into
Russia, whence he soon after returned, and raised an army in order to
recover his kingdom, but was slain by his rebellious and infidel
subjects in a battle fought at Stichstadt, north of Drontheim, on the
29th of July, 1030, having reigned sixteen years. These rebels seem to
have been in the interest of Canute the Great, who arrived from England
in Norway, took possession of that kingdom, and left his nephew Hackin
viceroy; but he being soon after drowned at sea, Canute made his son
Sweno viceroy of Norway. St. Olave’s body was honourably buried at
Drontheim, and the year following bishop Grimkele commanded him to be
honoured in that church among the saints with the title of martyr. His
son Magnus was called home from Russia in 1035, and restored to the
throne. Sweno, who saw himself entirely abandoned, fled into Sweden.
Magnus exceedingly promoted the devotion of the people to the memory of
his father, the martyr, who was chosen titular saint of the cathedral of
Drontheim. This church was rebuilt with such splendour and magnificence
as to have been the glory and pride of all the north. Munster has given
us a minute description of it, after Lutheranism was introduced; but it
was soon after burnt by lightning. The body of St. Olave was found
incorrupt in 1098; and again when the Lutherans, in 1541, plundered the
shrine, which was adorned with gold and jewels of an immense value, a
treasure nowhere excelled in the north. The ship which carried the
greatest part of this sacrilegious booty perished at sea in the road to
Denmark; the rest was robbed at land, so that nothing of it came into
the king of Denmark’s hands. The Lutherans treated the saint’s body with
respect, and left it in the same place where the shrine had stood, in
the inner wooden case, till, in 1568, they decently buried it in the
same cathedral. A shirt or inner garment of St. Olave’s is shown at St.
Victor’s in Paris. His shrine became famous by many miracles, and he was
honoured with extraordinary devotion throughout all the northern
kingdoms, and was titular saint of several churches in England and
Scotland. He was called by our ancestors St. Olave, and more frequently
St. Tooley; but in the Norway Chronicles Olaf Haraldson, and Olaf Helge,
or the Holy.




Footnote 1:

  Joannis Magni Gothorum Suenonumque Historia, lib. i. and ii. p. 18. to
  74. edit. Rome, fol. 1554.

  Native kings of Sweden who, according to the archbishop, Joannes
  Magnus, flourished before Christ.

     1. Magog.
     2. Sweno.
     3. Gothar, or Gog.
     4. Ubbo.
     5. Siggo.
     6. Eric.
     7. Uddo.
     8. Alo.
     9. Othen (Query Odin).
    10. Charles.
    11. Biorno.
    12. Gothar.
    13. Siggo.
    14. Berico; in whose reign began the mighty Gothic or Scythian
       empire, independent of the northern one.
    15. Humulf.
    16. Humble.
    17. Gothilas.
    18. Sigtrug.
    19. Scarin.
    20. Swibdager.
    21. Asmund.
    22. Uffo.
    23. Hunning.
    24. Regner.
    25. Hodebrod.
    26. Attil.
    27. Hoder.
    28. Roder, or Roderic, or Ruric, surnamed _Slingebond_, or the
    29. Attil.
    30. Botwild.
    31. Charles.
    32. Grimer.
    33. Tordo.
    34. Gothar.
    35. Adolf.
    36. Algoth.
    37. Eric.
    38. Alaric.
    39. Gestil.
    40. Eric.
        “In the reign of this prince, says the archbishop,—who even
       fixes the year, the thirty-fourth of his reign,—our Saviour was
       born!” Swedish kings subsequent to our Saviour’s birth, _yet
       prior to the introduction of Christianity_, according to the same
    41. Godric.
    42. Haldan.
    43. Wilmer.
    44. Nordian.
    45. Siward.
    46. Charles.
    47. Eric.
    48. Haldan.
    49. Eugin.
    50. Ragnald.
    51. Asmund.
    52. Hako.
    53. Siward.
    54. Ingo.
    55. Neark.
    56. Frode.
    57. Urbar.
    58. Ostin.
    59. Fliolm.
    60. Swerker.
    61. Walander.
    62. Wisbur.
    63. Domalder.
    64. Domar.
    65. Attil.
    66. Digner.
    67. Dager.
    68. Alaric.
    69. Ingemar.
    70. Ingell.
    71. Germund.
    72. Haquin Ringo.
    73. Egill.
    74. Gothar.
    75. Fasto.
    76. Gudmund.
    77. Adel.
    78. Ostan.
    79. Ingermar.
    80. Holstan.
    81. Biorno.
    82. Rawald.
    83. Swartman.
    84. Tordo.
    85. Rodolf.
    86. Hathin.
    87. Attil.
    88. Tordo.
    89. Algoth.
    90. Gostag, or Ostan.
    91. Arthus.
    92. Haquin.
    93. Charles.
    94. Charles.
    95. Birger.
    96. Eric.
    97. Torill.
    98. Biorn.
    99. Alaric.
    100. Biorn.
    101. Bratmund.
    102. Siward.
    103. Herot.
    104. Charles.
    105. Biorn.
    106. Ingenal, or Ingel.
    107. Olaf Tretella.
    108. Ingo.
    109. Eric.
    110. Eric.

  In both lists, many of these names the reader will perceive to be
  identical with the Danish kings given by Saxo Grammaticus. That the
  two lists have been confounded there can be no doubt. And it as
  equally certain that many of these kings are unnecessarily
  multiplied,—those allowed to have reigned before, as well as after,
  the Christian era. Perhaps, however, none of these princes reigned
  before Odin; probably all are more recent still; and as so many were
  contemporary with each other, ample lists have easily been formed.

  The compilers of our Universal History begin their list with the

    1. Eric.
    2. Gylfo.
    3. Odin.
    4. Niord.
    5. Frode.
    6. Sigtrug.
    7. Swibdager.
    8. Asmund.
    9. Uffo.
    10. Hunding.
    11. Regner.
    12. Holward.
    13. Attil I.
    14. Hoder.
    15. Roderic, or Ruric.
    16. Attil II.
    17. Hogmor and Hogrin.

Footnote 2:

  See the work, part i.

Footnote 3:

  Torfœus Historia Norvegiæ, tom. i. p. 111–150.

Footnote 4:

  Wheaton, History of the Northmen. Mallet, Histoire de Dannemarc, tom.

Footnote 5:

  Vetustissima Regum Septentrionis Series Langfedgatal dicta. According
  to this “Series,” the list of Danish kings prior to Odin is as
  follows:—NOAH, Japhet, Zechim, Ciprus, Celius, Saturn of Crete,
  Jupiter, Darius, Erichthon, Troes, Ilus, Laomedon, Priam of Troy,
  Memnon (the son-in-law of Priam), Tror or Thor, Lorith, Einrith,
  Vingethar, Vingener, Moda, Magus, Seskef, Bedoig, Athra, Iterman,
  Heremotr, Scealdna, Beaf, Eat, Godulf, Finn, Frealaf—ODIN.

  Here is a precious list, and we should vainly inquire where it was
  originally procured. One thing, however, is remarkable,—that of the
  immediate predecessors of Odin, most are the same as those contained
  in the Saxon Chronicle, in the genealogy of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Let
  us now transcribe that of Saxo Grammaticus, who flourished in the
  twelfth century, and is content with making Dan the ancestor of the
  Danes, about a thousand years before Christ.

  DAN I., Humble, Lother, Skiold, Gram, Swibdager, Guthrum, Hadding,
  Frode I., Haldan, Roe and Helgo, Rolf or Rollo, Hoder, Ruric, Wiglet,
  Guitlach, Wermund, Olaf I., Dan II., Hugleth, Frode II., Dan III.,
  Fridleif, Frode III. According to Saxo it was in the reign of Hadding
  that Odin first appeared in the north. In this case, the reader may
  say Odin must have flourished long before the period usually assigned,
  viz., A.C. 70. But most of these princes, doubtless, reigned _after_
  the birth of Christ, notwithstanding the positive assertion of Saxo
  (who is supported by some other chroniclers), that the Redeemer of
  mankind assumed our nature in the reign of Frode III. Sweyn Aggo is
  more rational than his contemporary Saxo; he rejects all the
  sovereigns prior to Odin, and commences his list with Skiold, a son of
  that deified hero. Undoubtedly Denmark, like the other states, had its
  kings before that period; but they were mere reguli, perpetually at
  war with each other in struggling for the ascendancy; and small
  reliance is to be placed on their alleged actions, or even their
  names. Saxo, in taking as authorities the popular songs of his
  country, followed the worst of all guides.

Footnote 6:

  The list of Norwegian sovereigns prior to Odin is, according to the
  Landfedgatal, the same as for Denmark. These sovereigns, however, in
  neither case reigned in the north; they were regarded as Asiatic: it
  was Odin who first left the country of his ancestors, and established
  his empire in Scandinavia. In this view there is no inconsistency
  between that record and Saxo, who does not enumerate the Asiatic
  monarchs, and who confines himself to the native princes that held the
  country for ages before Odin was known. These, we have strong reason
  to infer, were _not_ Gothic, but Finnish, or Jutish, or Lapponic, or
  whatever else was the denomination of the people who originally
  possessed the north. Sweyn Aggesen, therefore, by rejecting them,
  evidently confines himself to the foreign or Gothic dynasty—the
  dynasty of the conquerors.

Footnote 7:

  Langebek, Scriptores, tom. i., passim.

Footnote 8:

  Pinkerton, Dissertation on the Goths. Turner, History of the
  Anglo-Saxons, vol. i.

Footnote 9:

  Tacitus, Germania, cap. 34.–40. Wheaton, History of the Northmen,
  chap. i.

Footnote 10:

  Mallet, Histoire de Dannemarc, tom. i. Pinkerton, Dissertation on the
  Goths, passim.

Footnote 11:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica; necnon, Heimskringla Snorronis,

Footnote 12:

  Apud Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, tom. ii.

Footnote 13:

  Wheaton, History, p. 119.

Footnote 14:

  Depping, Histoire des Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, tom. i.
  Wheaton, History of the Northmen.

Footnote 15:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib i.

Footnote 16:

  The poetical dialogues of Gro with Bessus and Gram—dialogues in which
  Saxo (lib. i. p. 7, &c.) has put forth all his imagination and all his
  knowledge of Latin versification—may amuse the learned reader. We have
  no disposition to translate them.

Footnote 17:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i.

Footnote 18:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i.

Footnote 19:

  In the Scandinavian superstition every rune was consecrated to some
  deity. Nearly all the magic of the north consisted in runes. They
  could raise or allay tempests; they could change times, and they could
  bring the most distant objects together. They could produce good or
  bad seasons; they could raise the dead: in short, they were omnipotent
  over all nature,—the invisible no less than the visible world.

Footnote 20:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i. p. 10, &c., edit. Stephanii,
  Soræ, 1644.

Footnote 21:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i. p. 10, &c., edit. Stephanii,
  Soræ, 1644.

Footnote 22:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i.

Footnote 23:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i.

Footnote 24:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. ii. p. 20, &c.

Footnote 25:

  Both Roe and Helge reigned some centuries after the time fixed by
  Saxo,—as recently as the fifth century of the Christian era.

Footnote 26:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. ii.

Footnote 27:

  Whether there was any other Rolf than the celebrated Rolf Krake, who
  is thought to have reigned in the sixth century after Christ, is
  doubtful. The best northern writers admit of no other.

Footnote 28:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. ii.

Footnote 29:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. i. p. 12., edit. Stephanii, Soræ,
  1644. The diffusion of this superstitious notion is a curious subject
  of speculation. In Hungary, Russia, Wallachia, Greece, Crete, &c. it
  is rife at this day.

Footnote 30:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. i.–v. (apud Heimskringlam, tom. i. p. 1-10., edit.
  Hafn., 1777).

Footnote 31:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. v.–vii.

Footnote 32:

  Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, tom. i. pp. 7, 8. Torfœus,
  Historia Norvegica, tom. i. p. 138, &c.

Footnote 33:

  S. Rembertus, Vita S. Anscarii (apud Bollandistas, Acta S. S. die Feb.
  iii. Adamus Bremensis, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. i. cap. 12. &c.
  Konung Olaf Trygvason’s Saga, apud Snorronem Sturlonem Heimskringla
  tom. ii.).

Footnote 34:

  Ihre, Dissert. de Institutione Regum Suio-Gotborum, ed. Upsala,
  1752.—Geijr, Svea Rikes Häfder, tom. i. p. 432.

Footnote 35:

  Suhm, Historie af Danmark, tom. i. p. 81. Critiske, Historie, tom.
  vii. p. 474.

Footnote 36:

  Jamieson’s Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 444.

Footnote 37:

  F. Magnussen, Edda Sæmundi, tom. iii. Rigis-Mál, Intro., pp. 147–159.
  Geijr, Svea Rikes Häfder, tom. i. pp. 486–495.

Footnote 38:

  See the prose Edda published by Prof. Rask, Stockholm, 1818, ch.
  xxiii. But Snorre, in his _Ynglinga Saga_, ch. ix., says that she
  married Odin afterwards, and that they had many children together.

Footnote 39:

  To this opinion, we do not subscribe. We have no proof of the
  existence of two Odins.

Footnote 40:

  Münter, Kirchengeschichte, &c., tom. i. pp. 68–95. Wheaton, History of
  the Northmen.

Footnote 41:

  Wheaton, History of the Northmen, ch. vi. Ynglinga Saga, passim.

Footnote 42:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danorum, lib. iii. p. 39, &c.

Footnote 43:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danorum, lib. iii. p. 41–43.

Footnote 44:

  Edda Snorronis, Hist. 28. Stephanii Notæ ad Saxonem, lib. iii.

Footnote 45:

  Edda Snorronis, Fab. 21.

Footnote 46:

  Edda Snorronis, Historia, 29. Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. notæ in
  lib. iii.

Footnote 47:

  The names are mythologic, or rather abstract: Vegtam, _the Spoiler_;
  Valtam, _Slaughter_.

Footnote 48:

                            Hveriar ro maeyiar
                            Ær at muni grata
                            Ok a himin Verpa
                            Halsa Skautvm?

  The passage is a dark one. It probably alludes to the custom of the
  northern women, who uncovered their heads to mourn. These damsels did
  not uncover; they could weep at pleasure, that is, they were not
  afflicted. Were they the fatal sisters, who cannot be expected to feel
  sympathy for mortals? And was Vala their mother?

Footnote 49:

  The meaning of these expressions will appear when we treat on the
  Scandinavian mythology.

Footnote 50:


               Up rose the king of men with speed,
               And saddled straight his coal-black steed;
               Down the yawning steep he rode,
               That leads to HELA’S drear abode.
               Him the Dog of Darkness spied,
               His shaggy throat he open’d wide,
               While from his jaws, with carnage fill’d,
               Foam and human gore distill’d:
               Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
               Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin;
               And long pursues, with fruitless yell,
               The Father of the powerful spell.
               Onward still his way he takes,
               (The groaning earth beneath him shakes,)
               Till full before his fearless eyes
               The portals nine of hell arise.

               Right against the eastern gate,
               By the moss-grown pile he sate;
               Where long of yore to sleep was laid
               The dust of the prophetic Maid.
               Facing to the northern clime,
               Thrice he trac’d the Runic rhyme;
               Thrice pronounc’d, in accents dread,
               The thrilling verse that wakes the dead;
               Till from out the hollow ground
               Slowly breath’d a sullen sound.

               _Pr._—What call unknown, what charms presume
               To break the quiet of the tomb?
               Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite,
               And drags me from the realms of night?
               Long on these mould’ring bones have beat
               The winter’s snow, the summer’s heat,
               The drenching dews, and driving rain!
               Let me, let me sleep again.
               Who is he, with voice unblest,
               That calls me from the bed of rest?

               _O._—A Traveller, to thee unknown,
               Is he that calls, a Warrior’s Son.
               Thou the deeds of light shalt know;
               Tell me what is done below,
               For whom yon glitt’ring board is spread,
               Drest for whom yon golden bed.

               _Pr._—Mantling in the goblet see
               The pure bev’rage of the bee;
               O’er it hangs the shield of gold;
               ‘Tis the drink of Balder bold:
               Balder’s head to death is giv’n.
               Pain can reach the Sons of Heav’n!
               Unwilling I my lips unclose:
               Leave me, leave me to repose.

               _O._—Once again my call obey!
               Prophetess, arise, and say,
               What dangers Odin’s Child await,
               Who the Author of his fate.

               _Pr._—In Hoder’s hand the Hero’s doom:
               His brother sends him to the tomb.
               Now my weary lips I close:
               Leave me, leave me to repose.

               _O._—Prophetess, my spell obey!
               Once again arise, and say,
               Who th’ Avenger of his guilt,
               By whom shall Hoder’s blood be spilt?

               _Pr._—In the caverns of the west,
               By Odin’s fierce embrace comprest,
               A wond’rous Boy shall Rinda bear,
               Who ne’er shall comb his raven hair,
               Nor wash his visage in the stream,
               Nor see the sun’s departing beam;
               Till he on Hoder’s corpse shall smile,
               Flaming on the fun’ral pile.
               Now my weary lips I close:
               Leave me, leave me to repose.

               _O._—Yet awhile my call obey!
               Prophetess, awake, and say,
               What Virgins these, in speechless woe,
               That bend to earth their solemn brow,
               That their flaxen tresses tear,
               And snowy veils, that float in air.
               Tell me whence their sorrows rose:
               Then I leave thee to repose.

               _Pr._—Ha! no Traveller art thou,
               King of Men, I know thee now,
               Mightiest of a mighty line——

               _O._—No boding Maid of skill divine
               Art thou, nor Prophetess of good;
               But mother of the giant brood!

               _Pr._—Hie thee hence, and boast at home,
               That never shall Enquirer come
               To break my iron-sleep again;
               Till Lok has burst his tenfold chain.
               Never, till substantial Night
               Has reassum’d her ancient right;
               Till wrapp’d in flames, in ruin hurl’d,
               Sinks the fabric of the world.

Footnote 51:

  Vegtaams Quida (apud Edda Saemundar hinns Froda, tom. i. p. 234, &c.
  edit. Hafniæ, 1787).

Footnote 52:

  See before, page 29.

Footnote 53:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. iii. p. 44–46.

Footnote 54:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 10. (apud Snorronem, Heimskringla, tom. i. p. 14.)

Footnote 55:

  Quod, inquit, mulierum turpissima, gravissime criminis dissimulationem
  falso lamenti genere expetis, quæ scorti more lasciviens nefariam ac
  dedestabilem tori conditionem secuta, viri tui interfectorem pleno
  incesti sinu amplecteris, et ei qui prolistuæ parentem extinxerat,
  obscenissimis blandamentorem illecebris adularis?

Footnote 56:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. iii. p. 46–52.

Footnote 57:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. iii. p. 52, et lib. iv. p. 54, &c.

Footnote 58:

  Idem, p. 56–59.

Footnote 59:

  The list is worth transcribing.


                        1. Dan            1038

                        2. Humble         998

                        3. Lother          —

                        4. Skiold         966

                        5. Gram           888

                        6. Swibdager      856

                        7. Guthrum         —

                        8. Hadding        816

                        9. Frode I.       761

                        10. Halden        685

                        11. Roe and        —

                        12. Helge         595

                        13. Rolf, or      566

                        14. Hoder          —

                        15. Ruric         483

  Consequently Hamlet must have lived nearly four centuries before
  Christ. What thanks do we not owe to Saxo for his important account of
  Britain so many years before Cæsar! But to continue.

                        16. Wiglet         —
                        17. Guitlach       —
                        18. Wermund       352
                        19. Olaf I.       292
                        20. Dan II.        —
                        21. Hungleth       —
                        22. Frode II.     172
                        23. Dan III.       —
                        24. Fridleif       —
                        25. Frode III.     —

Footnote 60:

  Scandinavia, Ancient and Modern (Edinburgh Cab. Lib.), vol. i. chap.

Footnote 61:

  List of kings after Christ, according to Saxo:—Frode III., Hiarn,
  Fridleif, Frode IV., Ingel, Olaf II., Frode V., Harald I., Halfdan
  II., Harald II., Ungwin, Siwald I., Sigar, Siwald II., Halfdan III.,
  Harald III., Olo (or Olof), Omund, Siward I., Bathul, Jarmeric,
  Broder, Siwald III., Snio, Biorn, Gormo I., Goderic, Olaf III.,
  Hemming, Siward IV., Ringo, Ragnar Lodbrog, Siward II., Eric I.,
  Canute I., Frode IV., Gormo II., Harald IV., Gormo III., Harald V.,

  _Our English Universal History, like Sunning and Torfœus, adopts these
  names, but incorporates three more._

  _According to the_ Langfedgatal, _which is derived from Norwegian
  authorities, while Saxo follows the metrical songs and traditions of

  Odin, Skiold, Fridleif I., Frode I., Havar, Frode II., Vermund, Olaf,
  Dan, Frode III., Fridleif II., Frode IV., Ingell (or Ingiald), Halfdan
  I., Helge and Roe, Rolf Krake, Eric I., Frode V., Halfdan II., Eric
  II., Harald, Sigurd I., Ragnar Lodbrog, Sigurd II., Harda Canute,
  Gormo the Aged, Harald II., Sweyn.

  _And thus, in about twenty different lists which we have examined,
  there is only diversity, or rather confusion. Those of modern date are
  not more uniform. Thus Mallet_:—

  Skiold, Fridleif I., Frode I., Fridleif II., Havar, Frode II.,
  Wermund, Olaf I., Dan, Frode III., Halfdan I., Fridleif III., Olaf
  II., Frode IV., Ingel, Halfdan II., Frode V., Roe and Helge, Rolf,
  Ivar, Harald I., Sigurd I., Ragnar Lodbrog, Sigurd II., Harda Canute,
  Harald II.

  The dates of these reigns in the modern histories of Denmark—for the
  ancient ones do not condescend to such trifles—are beautifully
  confounded, sometimes a whole century being assigned to a single

Footnote 62:

  The Skioldungs, or descendants of Odin:—

                        Names.            Died.

                        Skiold               40

                        Fridleif I.          23


                        Frode I.             35

                        Fridleif II.         47

                        Havar                59

                        Frode II.            87

                        Wermund the Sage    140

                        Olaf the Mild       190

                        Dan Mykillati       270

                        Frode III.,         310
                          surnamed the

                        Halfdan I.          324

                        Fridleif III.       348

                        Frode IV.           407

                        Ingild (or          436

                        Halfdan II.         447

                        Frode V.            460

                        Helge and Roe       494

                        Frode VI.           510

                        Rolf Krake          522

                        Frode VII.          548

                        Halfdan III.        580

                        Ruric               588

                        Ivar Vidfadme       647

                        Harald Hildetand    735

                        Sigurd Ring         750

                        Ragnar Lodbrog      794

                        Sigurd Snogoje      803

                        Harda Canute        850

                        Eric I.             854

                        Eric II.            883

                        Gorm the Old        941

                        Harald Blaatand     991

                        Sweyn              1014

  This is the list of Suhm, the most critical of the Danish historians.
  Yet there can be no doubt that some of Saxo’s kings ought to be
  incorporated with it.

Footnote 63:

  See the dates assigned to the above kings by our Universal History and
  by Mallet. The difference between them and those given by Suhm may
  amuse the reader.

Footnote 64:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danorum, passim. Mallet, Histoire de
  Danemarc, tom. iii. Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, tom. i.
  Adamus Bremensis, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. i.

Footnote 65:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist., passim.

Footnote 66:

  See Introduction, p. 19.

Footnote 67:

  History of the Germanic Empire (Cab. Cyc.), vol. i.

Footnote 68:

  Saxo Grammatici, Hist. Dan. lib. v. Suenonis Aggonis Historia Rerum
  Danicarum, cap. i. (apud Langebek, i. 44.). Petri Olai Roskildensis
  Chronica Regum Danorum, p. 15. (apud eundem, tom. i.).

Footnote 69:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. v.

Footnote 70:

  According to the Hervarar Saga, this adventure of the sword took place
  long _before_ the arrival of Arngrim,—in fact, before the union of
  Swafurlam with Eyvor, whom he won with the magic weapon. There are
  many variations, too, in the different MSS. of this Saga, so as to
  greatly alter the circumstances.

Footnote 71:

  Hervarar Saga, cap. i., ii. p. 1-13., edit. Hafniæ, 1785. Taylor,
  Historic Survey of German Poetry, vol. i. The account in the text is
  considerably more amplified than that in the original Saga. This
  amplification is the work of succeeding Scalds, whose language, from
  its graphic superiority, and its being more characteristic of northern
  manners, we have often preferred.

Footnote 72:

  Hervarar Saga, cap. iii.–v. p. 13–42.

Footnote 73:

          AWAKE, Angantyr! sire, awake!
          Thy daughter, Hervor, bids thee break
          The slumber of thy desert tomb!
          Oh, give me, from its yawning womb,
          The magic sword—the hardened blade,
          By dwarfs for Swafurlami made!
          What, silent? Then on you I call,
          My sire, my kinsmen, warriors all!
          Obey! let Hervor’s voice prevail!
          Yes, by the helmet and the mail,

          By the sharp sword, the spear, and shield
          Ye wore on many a battle field,
          Obey my spell! by each of these,
          I call you from your tombs beneath the roots of trees.

          What! can the sons of Arngrim, erst
          In mischief’s busy work the first,
          In dust and ashes mouldering rot?
          Are ye _all_ mute? For Hervor’s sake,
          Herwarder, Herwarder, awake!

          So may you, then, dishonoured lie,
          Till rank corruption putrefy,
          Unless ye give the belt and blade
          By dwarfs for Swafurlami made.

  [_Here the tomb opens, the inside of which is all fire, and the
  following dialogue is chaunted_:—]


                 Daughter, of potent spells possest,
                 Why dost thou call us from our rest?
                 What mad ambition bids thee wake
                   The slumber of the dead?
                 Hervor, thy rash demand shall break
                   In ruin on thy head!
                 Me were the funeral rites denied,
                   Father nor friend was there.
                   Seek for the sword in air;
                 It decks some living warrior’s side.


                 Thy words are false! deceiver, no!
                 May Odin on thy tomb bestow
                 Such safety, sire, as thou hast got
                 The fairy sword I seek, or not!
                 Thy child, thine only child, demands
                 This dowry at a father’s hands.


                 Listen, daughter! Hervor, hear
                 The voice of prophecy, and fear!
                 Let not a father’s hand consign
                 A gift so fatal to thy line.
                 For, lo! I see before this sword
                 Thine offspring perish, till restored
                 To son of thine, who then shall prove
                 The Heidrek of his people’s love.


                 I heed thee not; but by the sway
                 Of spells which spirits must obey,
                 I charge thee, by enchantments dread,
                 No rest shall know my kindred dead
                 Till I obtain the belt and blade
                 By dwarfs for Swafurlami made!


                 Maiden, of more than warrior’s might,
                 Who visitest the tombs by night,
                 Trusting to the belt and spear
                 Of magic power, wander not here.


                 I deemed thee brave before I came
                 To seek thee in thy house of flame.
                 Why do I wait? Give me the blade!
                 Nor longer be the gift delayed!


                 The sword lies here, begirt with fire,
                 Which once—fit weapon for thy sire—
                 Hialmar slew: but weak the brand
                 If wielded by a woman’s hand.


                 Yet I will wield, if I may gain
                 The fire-girt sword, Hialmar’s bane.
                 No spectre-fire can Hervor dread
                 That idly plays around the dead.


                 Then, proud and daring spirit, know,
                 To save thee from the fires below
                 I give the sword! Thy suit is won!


                 Offspring of heroes, wisely done!
                 Oh, dearer is this gift to me
                 Than Norway in her pride could be!


                 O woman! mad and blind to fate!
                 Rejoicing _now_, but wise too late,
                 When thou shalt see thine offspring all,
                 Beneath that fatal weapon fall.


                 Too long in parting I delay;
                 My heroes call—I must obey.
                 Let my sons quarrel as they will,
                 My father’s gift! I hold thee still.
                 Spirits whom I have roused, farewell!
                 I feel the fires in which ye dwell
                 Burning around me. Here I cease.
                 Spirits, retire, and rest in peace![75]

Footnote 74:

  For this translation we are indebted to a literary friend who
  furnished us with it many years ago.

Footnote 75:

  Hervarar Saga, cap. vii.–xviii. pp. 57–221.

Footnote 76:

                Profane not, youth—it is not thine
                To judge the spirit of our line—
                The bold berserkars’ rage divine,
                Through whose inspiring, deeds are wrought
                Past human strength and human thought.
                When full upon his gloomy soul
                The champion feels the influence roll,
                He swims the lake, he leaps the wall,
                Heeds not the depth nor plumbs the fall—
                Unshielded, mailless, on he goes
                Singly against a host of foes;
                Their spears he holds as withered reeds,
                Their mails like maidens’ silken weeds:
                One ‘gainst a hundred will he strive,
                Take countless wounds, and yet survive.
                How rush the eagles to his cry
                Of slaughter and of victory;
                And blood he quaffs like Odin’s bowl,
                Deep drinks his sword—deep drinks his soul,
                And all that meet him in his ire
                He gives to ruin, rout, and fire.
                Then, like gorged lion, seeks some den,
                And couches till he’s man agen.
                  _Harold the Dauntless_, Canto iii. st. 8.

Footnote 77:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan., passim. Ihre, Glossarium Suio-Gothicum,
  sub voce _Berserker_. Depping, Histoire des Expeditions Maritimes des
  Normands, tom. i. chap. 2.

Footnote 78:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. v.

Footnote 79:

  Son of the celebrated chief of this name. See before, page 77.

Footnote 80:

  See Introduction, sketch of Odin’s life.

Footnote 81:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. vi.–viii. pp. 102–149.
  Ynglinga Saga, cap. xxix. (apud Snorronis Heimskringlam, tom. i.).
  Eyrbiggia Saga, passim.

Footnote 82:

  According to the ancient geographers, the flat earth lay in the
  centre, while the sea, like a circle, surrounded it. This sea was
  believed to contain many wonders.

Footnote 83:

  Saxo evidently alludes to that part of the coast situated on the
  Arctic Ocean, near the North Cape.

Footnote 84:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. viii. p. 160–162.

Footnote 85:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danorum, lib. viii. p. 162–164.

Footnote 86:

  These giants are famous in the Scandinavian mythology. “From the wings
  of one,” says the lay of Vafthrudnis, “whose abode is in the extremity
  of the heavens, and who has the eagle’s form, comes all the wind that
  blows on mankind.”—_Edda Sæmundar hinns Froda_, 1-21.

Footnote 87:

  To us these proverbs seem to have no great merit: they are, however,
  somewhat obscure.

Footnote 88:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. viii. p. 164, &c.

Footnote 89:

  Query, Had Scott this legend in view when, in his _Harold the
  Dauntless_, he takes the Durham witch to the place where Zernabek was
  to be invoked?

Footnote 90:

  See before, page 68.

Footnote 91:

  Mallet, Histoire de Dannemarc, tom. iii. Saga af Olaf Trygveson (apud
  Snorronem, Heimskringla, tom. i.). Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan., lib.
  viii., ix.

Footnote 92:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. ix. Mallet, Histoire, tom.

Footnote 93:

  Sigurd and Siward are frequently conversive.

Footnote 94:

  See before, page 67.

Footnote 95:

  S. Remberti Vita S. Anscharil (apud Langebek, Scriptores Rerum
  Danicarum, tom. ii.). Suenonis Aggonis Historia Regum Danicæ (apud
  Langebek, tom. i. p. 48, &c.). Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica,
  lib. ix. Adamus Bremensis, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. i. Mallet,
  Histoire, tom. iii. liv. i.

Footnote 96:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. x. Suenonis Aggonis Historia
  Regum Danorum, cap. 3, 4. (apud Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum,
  tom. i p. 48, &c.). Gulielmus Gemmeticensis, De Ducibus Normanniæ,
  lib. iv. Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. viii.
  Sigebertus Gemblacensis, Chronicon, A. D. 949. Wace, Roman de Rem,
  tom. i. Mallet, Histoire de Dannemarc, tom. iii. liv. 1. Depping,
  Histoire des Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, tom. ii. chap. 10.

Footnote 97:

  Illis temporibus Otto imperater Daciam sibi fecerat tributariam.

Footnote 98:

  Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. ii. cap. 11.

Footnote 99:

  Mallet, Histoire, tom. iii. p. 106, &c.

Footnote 100:

  Mallet, Histoire, tom. iii. liv. i.

Footnote 101:

  Adamus Bremensis, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. ii. cap. 19.

Footnote 102:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. x. Suenonis Aggonis Historia
  Regum Daniæ, cap. 4.

Footnote 103:

  This is another illustration of the truth contained in the fable of
  “The Three Black Crows.” Mallet pointed out the absurdity of the
  relation; yet modern historians have continued to adopt it.

Footnote 104:

  Adamus Bremensis, Historia Ecclesiastica, cap. 72. Suenonis Aggonis
  Historia Regum Daniæ, cap. 4. Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib.

Footnote 105:

  “My beard is no traitor!”—_Sir Thomas More._ Is there any thing new
  under the sun?

Footnote 106:

  Saga of Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 42–46. (apud Heimskringlam Snorronis,
  tom. i. p. 234, &c.). Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. x.

Footnote 107:

  Europe during the Middle Ages, vol. iv. p. 22, &c.

Footnote 108:

  See, in the third chapter of this book, the adventures of Olaf.

Footnote 109:

  These circumstances, so far as Olaf is concerned, will not be
  understood by the reader, unless he refers to that monarch’s life, in
  the chapter devoted to the history of Norway.

Footnote 110:

  See his reign, in the history of Norway, in the present volume.

Footnote 111:

  Saxon Chronicle, _sub annis_.

Footnote 112:

  Saxon Chronicle, _sub annis_. Matthæis Westmonasteriensis, Historia,
  p. 391. Wilhelmus Malmsburiensis, p. 64.

Footnote 113:

  Saxon Chronicle, _sub annis_. Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. chap.

Footnote 114:

  Osbernus, Vita S. Elphagi (apud Wharton, Anglia Sacra, tom. ii. p.
  123–141.). Chronica Saxonicum, _sub annis_.

Footnote 115:

  Saxon Chronicle, _sub annis_. Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. ii. p. 321.

Footnote 116:

  The Saxon Chronicle. Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni.

Footnote 117:

  See page 5.

Footnote 118:

  Kings of Sweden from the first century before our Saviour’s birth to
  the introduction of Christianity into Sweden; compiled from the
  Landfedgatal and from the Heimskringla of Snorro Sturleson:—

                      _1. Dynasty of the Ynglings._


                         Odin                70

                         Niord               20


                         Freyer Yngve        10

                         Fiolner             14

                         Svegdir             34

                         Vanland or          48

                         Visbur              98

                         Domald             130

                         Domar              162

                         Dyggve             190

                         Dag-Spaka the      220

                         Agne               260

                         Alrek and Erik     280

                         Yngve and Alf      300

                         Hugleik            302

                         Jorunder and       312

                         Aun hinn Gamle     448
                           the Old

                         Egill              456

                         Ottar              460

                         Adils              505

                         Eystein            531

                         Yngvar             545

                         Braut-Onund        565

                         Ingiald Illrada    623

                         Olaf Tractelia     630
                           exiled about

                     2. _Dynasty of the Skioldungs._


                         Ivar Vidfadme,     647

                         Harald             735

                         Sigurd Ring        750

                         Ragnar Lodbrok     794

                         Biorn Ironside     804

                         Erik Biornson      808

                         Erik Raefillson    820

                         Emund and Biorn    859

                         Erik Emundson      873

                         Biorn Erikson      923

                         Erik the           993

                         Erik Arsael       1001

  The figures, it must be observed, are in a majority of cases purely
  conjectural. They have been adopted after the most careful
  investigation, by native critics; and we will not be so presumptuous
  as to reject them, especially when some of them are known to be

Footnote 119:

  A: Kings of Sweden, according to the Universal History:—

    1. Gylfo.
    2. Odin.
    3. Niord.
    4. Frode.
    5. Sigtrug.
    6. Swibdager.
    7. Asmund.
    8. Uffo.
    9. Hunding.
    10. Regner.
    11. Holward.
    12. Attil I.
    13. Hoder.
    14. Rodern.
    15. Attil II.
    16. Hogmor and Hogrin.
    17. Alaric.
    18. Eric.
    19. Halden.
    20. Siward.
    21. Eric II.
    22. Halden II.
    23. Ungwin.
    24. Regnald.
    25. Asmund I.
    26. Haquin.
    27. Gothar.
    28. Adel.
    29. Ostan.
    30. Ingvar.
    31. Asmund II.
    32. Siward II.
    33. Hirot.
    34. Ingel.
    35. Olaus Traetelga I.
    36. Charles.
    37. Bero or Biorn III.
    38. Olaf Tretelga.
    39. Ingo.
    40. Eric III., surnamed Waderhead.
    41. Eric IV., surnamed Segersell, or the Victorious.
    42. Eric V., surnamed Stenchil Milde, or Happy-born.

  The authors admit that they have omitted several names, probably from
  a doubt whether the kings in question ever reigned. Yet some of the
  names in both lists may be proved to be the same. How correct this?
  Doubtless the kings of Gothia sometimes reigned at Upsal, and vice
  versa. Indeed there is proof for this conjecture.

Footnote 120:

  Saxo Grammaticus. The Universal History. The Ynglinga Saga, &c.

Footnote 121:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 5.

Footnote 122:

  This was also the name of Thor’s hammer or thunderbolt.

Footnote 123:

  The same accident is related by Saxo of a Danish king.

Footnote 124:

  See Introduction, page 31.

Footnote 125:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 11–15. (apud Snorronis Heimskringlam, tom. i.).

Footnote 126:

  See Introduction, page 33.

Footnote 127:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 15–22.

Footnote 128:

  See before, page 86.

Footnote 129:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 22–29, p. 25–35. Saxonis Grammatici Historia
  Danica, p. 122.

Footnote 130:

  The reader who may wish to see how beautifully Saxo has confounded
  these simple events, may turn to the second book of his history.

Footnote 131:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 29–36, p. 35–45.

Footnote 132:

  A hero of that race.

Footnote 133:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 36–45. p. 45–54.

Footnote 134:

  Ibid., cap. 45, 46.

Footnote 135:

  Ynglinga Saga, passim.

Footnote 136:

  Saxo—Snorro—Johannes Magnus—Torfœus, in multis locis.

Footnote 137:

  Saxo—Snorro—Johannes Magnus—Torfœus, in multis locis.

Footnote 138:

  See before, page 31.

Footnote 139:

  See the extract from Wheaton’s History of the Northmen, p. 40.

Footnote 140:

  Saxo—Snorro—Johannes Magnus—Tacitus.

Footnote 141:

  Initâ Gothiâ.

Footnote 142:

  See before, page 21.

Footnote 143:

  See before, page 24.

Footnote 144:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. i. Johannes Magnus, Historia
  Gothorum, page 14, &c. Loccenius, Historia Suevica, lib. i. Erici Olai
  Historia Suevorum Gothorumque, lib. i.

Footnote 145:

  See Introduction, page 42.

Footnote 146:

  page 57.

Footnote 147:

  See before, page 132.

Footnote 148:

  page 132.

Footnote 149:

  Authorities:—Saxo Grammaticus, lib. vii. Snorro Sturleson, cap. 22–29.
  Joannes Magnus, lib. i. Loccenius, lib. i. Ericus Olaus, lib. i.

Footnote 150:

  See page 134.

Footnote 151:

  See page 135.

Footnote 152:

  See page 136.

Footnote 153:

  See before, page 137.

Footnote 154:

  Saxonis Grammatici, passim. Snorro Sturleson, Heimskringla, cap.
  29–46. Loccenius, Historia Suevica, lib. i. and ii. Erici Olai
  Historia, lib. i.

Footnote 155:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. viii. and ix. Loccenius,
  Historia Suevica, lib. ii. Erici Olai Historia, lib. i. Mallet,
  Histoire de Dannemarc, tom. iii. liv. i.

Footnote 156:

  Authorities:—Saxo—Loccenius—Eric Olaus—Joannes Magnus.

Footnote 157:

  See the next chapter.

Footnote 158:

  Erici Olai Historia Suevorum, lib. i. p. 20, 21. Loccenii Historia
  Suecana, lib. ii. p. 49–51.

Footnote 159:

  See Introduction, page 8.

Footnote 160:

  Torfœus, Historia Rerum Norvegicarum, tom. i. To this work we refer
  the more curious reader.

Footnote 161:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 47. (apud Heimskringlam Snorronis, tom. i. p.
  56.). Torfœus, Historia Norvegica, tom. i.

    _Chronology to illustrate the reigns of the Ynglings in Sweden and
           by Schoning, editor of Snorro’s Heimskringla._[162]

    105. Birth of Odin.
    90.  ——— Niord.
    75.  ——— Skiold.
    65.  ——— Freyr.
    40.  Odin’s arrival in the north.
    35.  Birth of Semming.
    32.  ——— Fiolner.
    17.  ——— Frode.

    1.   Swegdir.
    34.  Vanlaud.
    45.  Drifa.
    67.  Visbur.
    100. Domald.
    127. Daup.
    133. Domar.
    146. Dyggve.
    148. Drotta.
    170. Dan Mikillati.
    191. Dag.
    216. Agne.
    220. Froste.
    235. Frode II.
    241. Alrek.
    245. Skialfa.
    262. Gudlaug.
    265. Yngve II.
    267. Alf.
    290. Jorund.
    290. Halfdan I.
    292. Hugleik.
    295. Hako. Gylaug.
    300. Hagbard.
    300. Fridleif III.
    310. Starkater II.
    316. Aune.
    338. Ale.
    370. Frode IV. Fraekne.
    386. Egill.
    391. Augvald, king of Rogaland.
    419. Ottar Vendilkraka.
    438. Helge.
    446. Adils.
    460. Ale, the Uplander.
    465. Godgiest.
    479. Hrolf Krake.
    485. Eystein.
    510. Solve, from Niardey.
    518. Yngvar.
    551. Braut-Aunund.
    554. Halfdan.
    565. Gudraud.
    577. Hiordvard Ylfing.
    580. Ingiald.
    587. Ivar Vidfadme.
    600. Asa.
    613. Olaf Trætelja.
    620. Solveiga or Solva.
    630. Eystein Hardrade.
    640. Ingiald.
    658. Halfdan Huitbein.
    663. Asa, daughter of Eystein.
    677. Eirik, the son of Agnar.
    691. Gudraud.
    705. Eystein.
    705. King Skiold.
    710. Hilda, daughter of Eirik.
    710. Dag, king of Westmaur.
    738. Halfdan Millde.
    738. King Alfarin.
    743. Hlifa, daughter of Dag.
    770. King Eystein.
    771. Alfgeir.
    771. King Gudreyd Mikillati.
    774. Alfhilda, daughter of Alfarin.
    804. Olaf, Alf of Gierstaden.
    805. King Gandalf.
    806. King Haugne.
    823. Halfdan the Black.
    824. King Gudreid died.
    832. Ragnhilda, the mother of Harold Harfagre, born.
    833. Rognvald born.
    841. Halfdan the Black made king of Agder and Westfold.
    847. King Sigurd the Stag died.
    851. Halfdan made king of Sogne.
    852. Takes to wife Ragnhilda, daughter of Sigurd the Stag.
    853. Harald Harfagre born.
    861. _Nadodd_ discovers _Iceland_.
    863. King Halfdan dies, and is succeeded by Harald.
    864. Gardar visits Iceland.
    865. Harald’s war with king Gandolf and others.
    866. Alfheim subdued by Harald.
    867. He undertakes an expedition to Drontheim.
    867. _Floke_ sails to Iceland.
    869. Harald subdues Naumdal; marries Asa.
    870. Compels Vermeland to submit.
    870. _Ingiolf_ visits Iceland.
    871. Harald leads an expedition to western Gothland, and overthrows
       the Goths in battle.
    872. Takes Snæfrida to wife. Second expedition into Drontheim.
    875. Ingulf first settles in Iceland.
    880. Harald’s nuptials with _Gyda_.
    881. Nordmor and Raumadal submit to his arms.
    882. Conquers Sunnmore.
    883. Occupies the district of Fiord.
    885. Is victor in the battle of Harfur’s Bay; becomes master of all
    886. Visits Halogaland.
    888. Undertakes an expedition to the western sea.
    890. Cuts his hair, and receives the surname of Harfagre.
    890. Thorolf is killed in Halogaland.
    891. _Queldulf_ and Skalgrim, having killed the two sons of duke
       Guthrum, go to Iceland.
    893. Rognvald, jarl of Mörio, killed.
    894. King Harald marries Ragnhilda.
    895. Harald’s expedition to the Orkney Islands.
    895. Hrolfus, or Rollo, compelled to leave Norway.
    896. Enters Neustria or Normandy.
    898. Eric called Blodöxe.
    903. Harald divides his kingdom between his sons.
    910. Eric of the Bloody Axe undertakes a piratical expedition.
    918. Takes Gunhilda to wife. Kills Biorn’s brother.
    923. Hako, afterwards Athelstane’s godson, born.
    931. Sent to England.
    932. Harald’s third expedition to the western sea.
    933. Resigns the kingdom to his son Eric.
    934. Harald, afterwards called Grafeld, born.
    935. Halfdan the Black, king of Drontheim, dies.
    936. Harald Harfagre dies.
    937. King Erik Blodöxe kills his brothers Gudred and Olaf.
    937. Hako, Athelstane’s godson, received as king by the people of
    938. King Erik Blodöxe, forced to abandon his kingdom and Norway.
    938. Hako Jarl, the son of Sigurd, born.
    939. Erik made king of Northumberland.
    940. King Hako publishes the code of Gulathing.
    941. Publishes the code of Frosta.
    941. Death of Athelstane.
    943. Jamtland, and part of Helsing, added by king Hako to his
    952. King Erik _Blodöxe_ falls in battle.
    953. Erik, the son of Harald, and his brothers, infest Norway.
    935. Hako’s expedition to Denmark.
    956. The Christian religion attempted to be introduced into Norway.
    957. Part of Vikia occupied by the sons of Erik. King Hako defeats
       them and the Danes.
    958. In another battle, in the island of _Fredey_, they are again
       vanquished. 958. King _Harald Grenske_, father of St. Olaf, born.
    963. King Hako dies of his wounds.
    963. The sons of Erik made kings of Norway.
    965. Jarl Sigurd killed.
    968. The emperor Otho I.’s expedition into Denmark.
    968. Sigmund, son of Breste, born.
    969. The sons of Erik slay the kings Trygve and Gudred.
    969. Olaf, son of Trygve, born.
    969. _Jarl Erik_, the son of Hako, born.
    970. _Jarl Hako_ flees into Denmark.
    971. Returns to Drontheim.
    972. Olaf, son of Trygve, comes to Esthonia.
    974. _Klype_ sent to England by king Sigurd.
    975. King Sigurd dies. A grievous famine in Norway.
    976. Jarl Hako goes to Denmark.
    976. The emperor Otho II.’s expedition to Denmark.
    977. King Harald Graafeld dies.
    978. _Harald_, the son of Gorm, received in the kingdom of Norway.
       Hako made jarl of Norway.
    978. Olaf Trygveson comes to the palace of Valdemar, king of
    979. King _Ragenfred_ recovers part of Norway.
    980. Overthrown in battle, and forced to leave Norway.
    981. Erik kills _Skopte_.
    982. Harald son of Gorm’s expedition into Norway.
    986. Olaf Trygveson marries Gyra.
    988. Otho III.’s expedition into Denmark.
    989. _Gyra_, the wife of Olaf Trygveson, dies.
    990. Death of Harald, son of Gorm.
    993. Olaf Trygveson baptized.
    993. Saint Olaf born.
    994. Jarl Hako’s war with the Jomsberg pirates.
    996. Jarl Hako killed; Olaf Trygveson made king of Norway.
    998. Saint Olaf baptized.
    1000. Battle in which king Olaf loses his life and kingdom.

  The preceding list differs in some respects from that of Suhm. We give
  only the kings from the Tree-cutter to the Saint.


                       Olaf Trætelia          640

                       Halfdan Whitben        700

                       Eystein                730

                       Halfdan Millde         784

                       Gudred Mikillati       824

                       Olaf Geirstada         840

                       Halfdan Swart          863

                       Harald Haarfager       934

                       Erik Blodöxe           940

                       Hako the Good          963

                       Harald Graafeld        977

                       Hako Jarl              995

                       Olaf Trygveson        1000

                       Olaf the Saint        1030

Footnote 162:

  Here are Danish and Gothic as well as Swedish princes and chiefs who
  had not the regal title. Schoning’s orthography, which we shall not
  alter, often differs from that which we have adopted in the text.

Footnote 163:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 48–52. p. 57–60.

Footnote 164:

  Ynglinga Saga, cap. 53–55. p. 60–64.

Footnote 165:

  Snorro Sturleson, Saga Halfdanar Swarta, cap. 1-3. (apud
  Heimskringlam, tom. i. p. 65, &c.).

Footnote 166:

  Saga Halfdanar Swarta, cap. 3, 4. p. 67, 68.

Footnote 167:

  Saga Halfdanar Swarta, cap. 5-7. p. 68–72. (apud Heimskringlam
  Snorronis, tom. i.).

Footnote 168:

  Saga Halfdanar Swarta, cap. 7-9.

Footnote 169:

  The brother of Ragnilda; see page 165.

Footnote 170:

  Harald’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 1, 2. (apud Heimskringlam Snorronis,
  tom. i. p. 75–77.).

Footnote 171:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 3-6. p. 77–80.

Footnote 172:

  Transcriber’s Note: the footnote marker on page 170 has no
  corresponding footnote text.

Footnote 173:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 6–13.

Footnote 174:

  Missing footnote text at bottom of page.

Footnote 175:

  These words are remarkable, and they confirm the observations which we
  made in the preceding chapter.

Footnote 176:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 13–18. p. 88–93.

Footnote 177:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 18, 19. p. 93–95. The following is
  the ode of Hornkloft, as translated by the Hon. W. Herbert, and, in
  some trifling respects, improved by Mr. Wheaton:—

          “Loud in Hafur’s echoing bay,
            Heard ye the din of battle bray,
          ’Twixt Kiötve rich, and Harald bold?
            Eastward sails the ships of war;
            The graven bucklers gleam afar,
          And dragons’ heads adorn the prows of gold.

          “Glittering shields of purest white,
            And swords, and Celtic falchions bright,
          And western chiefs the vessels bring:
            Loudly roar the wolfish rout,
            And maddening champions wildly shout.
          And long and loud the twisted hauberks ring.

          “Firm in fight they proudly vie
            With Him whose might will make them fly,
          Of Eastmen kings the warlike head.
            Forth his gallant fleet he drew,
            Soon as the hope of battle grew,
          But many a buckler brake ere Haklang bled.

           “Fled the lusty Kiötve then
            Before the Fair-haired king of Men,
           And bade the islands shield his flight.
            Warriors wounded in the fray,
            Beneath the thwarts all gasping lay,
           Where, headlong cast, they mourn’d the loss of light.

          “Gall’d by many a massive stone
            (Their golden shields behind them thrown),
          Homeward the grieving warriors speed;
             Swift from Hafur’s bay they hie:
             East-mountaineers o’er Jardar fly,
          And thirst for goblets of the sparkling mead.”

Footnote 178:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 19–25. p. 95–103. Snæfrida was,
  probably, a supernatural damsel—at least, on one side. So was
  Guendolen, in the bridal of Triermain; but the British Arthur broke
  the charm which bound _him_ in three months, while Harald was
  spell-bound for as many years. The description in Scott is exquisite.

Footnote 179:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 26.

Footnote 180:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, passim. Fragmentum Islandicum de Regibus
  Dano-Norvegicis (apud Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, tom. ii.).

Footnote 181:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, passim. Fragmentum Islandicum de Regibus
  Dano-Norvegicis (apud Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, tom. ii.).

Footnote 182:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 34.

Footnote 183:

  Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagre, cap. 45.

Footnote 184:

  Wallingford, Chronicon, p. 540. Theodoric, Historia Norwegica, cap. 2.
  Snorro, Haralld’s Saga ens Harfagra, cap. 42, 43.; necnon Saga Hakonar
  Goda, cap. 1.

Footnote 185:

  Matthæi Westmonasteriensis Historia, p. 369. Simeonis Dunelmensis
  Hist. 204. Arembs de Mailros, p. 148. Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 3, 4. p.

Footnote 186:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 4-15., passim.

Footnote 187:

  See Introduction, page 33.

Footnote 188:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, p. 139.

Footnote 189:

  That on the constitution and laws of the ancient Scandinavians, in the
  next volume of this compendium.

Footnote 190:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 17.

Footnote 191:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 17–19.

Footnote 192:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 20–25.

Footnote 193:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 25–32.

Footnote 194:

  This Song of Hako—Hakonar Mal—has been rendered into English verse by
  the Hon. W. Herbert.

Footnote 195:

  See the chapter on the subject in Vol. II. of this compendium.

Footnote 196:

  Saga Hakonar Goda, cap. 33.

Footnote 197:

  Saga of Haralldi Grafelld Konungi de Hakoni Jarli Sigurdar Syni, cap.
  1-10. (apud Heimskringlam Snorronis, tom. i. p. 165–179.).

Footnote 198:

  Saga af Haralldi Grafelld Konungi, &c., cap. 11–13.

Footnote 199:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 1-16.

Footnote 200:

  Saga af Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 16–37.

Footnote 201:

  Saga af Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 38–49. p. 229–245.

Footnote 202:

  The same authority.

Footnote 203:

  Saga af Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 1-3. p. 187, &c. Historia
  Olavi Tryggvii-filii tom. i. cap. 44. p 86–90. Hafniæ, 1828.

  The latter work, for which we are indebted to the Icelandic Society of
  Copenhagen, has many interesting particulars omitted by Snorro. It was
  composed by Gunlaug, a monk of Iceland, in the thirteenth century.

Footnote 204:

  Saga af Olafi Konungi-iSyni, cap. 4. Historia Olavi Tryggvii-filii,
  tom. i. cap. 45.

Footnote 205:

  Now a part of Russia, to the east and south of the Gulf of Finland.

Footnote 206:

  Saga af Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 4-21. Historia Olavi
  Tryggvii-filii, tom. i. cap. 46, &c.

Footnote 207:

  See before, page 108.

Footnote 208:

  Saga Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 21–35. p. 211–227. Historia
  Olavi Regis, tom. i. cap. 73–82. p. 157–175.

Footnote 209:

  See before, page 205.

Footnote 210:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 211:

  Of these associates no mention is made by Snorro, and we think his
  authority preferable to that of Gunlaug.

Footnote 212:

  Saga of Olafi Konungi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 51, 52. p. 246–248. Historia
  Olavi Tryggvii-filii, cap. 93, 94, 98.

Footnote 213:

  This symbol in Christian times was superseded by the _cross_. See the
  notes to Scott’s “Lady of the Lake.”

Footnote 214:

  2 Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 52, 53. Historia Olavi
  Tryggvii-filii, tom. i. cap. 99–102.

Footnote 215:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 216:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 53–56. Historia Olavi Tryggvii-filii,
  tom. i. cap. 103, 104.

Footnote 217:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 218:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 57–65. Historia Olavi Tryggvii-filii,
  tom. i. cap 106. et seq.

Footnote 219:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 66–71.

Footnote 220:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 72–74. Historia Olavi, tom. ii. cap.

Footnote 221:

  See before, page 214.

Footnote 222:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 72–74. Historia Olafi, tom. ii. cap.

Footnote 223:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 84–87. Historia Olavi, tom. ii.

Footnote 224:

  Historia Olavi, cap. 172.

Footnote 225:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 66, 98–100. Historia Olavi, tom. ii.
  cap. 195.

Footnote 226:

  See before, page 115.

Footnote 227:

  Saga af Olafi Tryggva-Syni, cap. 100. ad finem. Historia Olavi, tom.
  iii. cap. 256, &c.

Footnote 228:

  See before, page 122.

Footnote 229:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 1 &c. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti tom.

Footnote 230:

  See before, page 204.

Footnote 231:

  Saga af Olafi Konungs hinns Helga, cap. 1-4. Historia Regis Olavi
  Sancti, tom. i. cap. 18–25. p. 31–36.

Footnote 232:

  See before, page 121.

Footnote 233:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 4-26. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i. cap. 25–42.

Footnote 234:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 26–32. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i. p. 69–78.

Footnote 235:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 26–32. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i. p. 69–78.

Footnote 236:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 36–42. Historia Olavi Regis Sancti,
  tom. i.

Footnote 237:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 36–42. Historia Olavi Regis Sancti,
  tom. i.

Footnote 238:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga (ad cap. 56.). Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i. (ad cap. 60.).

Footnote 239:

  Saga of Olafi hinns Helga (ad cap. 56.). Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i. (ad cap. 60.).

Footnote 240:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga, cap. 60–81. Historia Regis Olafi, tom. i.
  (pluribus capitibus).

Footnote 241:

  This allusion will be hereafter explained.

Footnote 242:

  Saga af Olafi hinns Helga. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti.

Footnote 243:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 244:

  Saga af Olafi hins Helga, cap. 72–74. p. 89–95. Historia Olavi Regis,
  tom. i. p. 141, &c.

Footnote 245:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 246:

  Saga af Olafi hins Helga, cap. 110–116. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i.

Footnote 247:

  Alluding, we suppose, to his pointed mitre.

Footnote 248:

  Saga of Olafi hins Helga, cap. 117–120. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. i.

Footnote 249:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 250:

  Saga af Olafi hins Helga, cap. 154–159. Saxonis Grammatici, lib. x. p.
  194. Mallet, Histoire de Dannemarc, tom. iii. liv. ii. p. 139, &c.

Footnote 251:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. x. p. 194. Snorronis
  Heimskringla, tom. ii. p. 271.

Footnote 252:

  This has a parallel in the Mohammedan governor of Calcutta, whom no
  one durst awake when the English were dying in the Black Hole.

Footnote 253:

  Saga af Olafi hinom Helga, cap. 166–180. Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan.
  lib. x.

Footnote 254:

  Saga af Olafi hinom Helga, cap. 180–191. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti
  tom. ii.

Footnote 255:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 256:

  Saga af Olafi hinom Helga, cap. 211, &c. Historia Regis Olavi Sancti,
  tom. iii. (pluribus capitibus).

Footnote 257:

  Saga af Olafi, cap. 131. Historia Regis Olavi, tom. ii. cap. 120.

Footnote 258:

  See Appendix A.

Footnote 259:

  See Appendix B.

Footnote 260:

  Eutropius, Epitome. Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. i. cap. 1.
  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. i. et ii.

Footnote 261:

  See before, page 158.

Footnote 262:

  Saxonis Grammatici Historia Danica, lib. viii. Depping, Histoire des
  Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, tom. i. chap. 1.

Footnote 263:

  Eutropius, Epitome, lib. ix. cap. 13. Tacitus, de Moribus Germanorum,
  cap. 44.

Footnote 264:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan., passim. Depping, Histoire, tom. i.
  chap. 3.

Footnote 265:

  Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. p. 147.

Footnote 266:

  Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. p. 152, &c.

Footnote 267:

  See England, by Sir James Mackintosh, vol. i.; and Europe during the
  Middle Ages, vol. iii.

Footnote 268:

  The Saxon Chronicle (sub annis).

Footnote 269:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. lib. v.

Footnote 270:

  Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. i.

Footnote 271:

  See before, page 150.

Footnote 272:

  Saxonis Grammatici Hist. Dan. Ynlinga Saga, cap. 46.

Footnote 273:

  See page 120.

Footnote 274:

  Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. Europe during the Middle Ages, vol.

Footnote 275:

  Europe during the Middle Ages, vol. iii.

Footnote 276:

  See Mackintosh’s England, vol. i.; and Europe during the Middle Ages,
  vol. iii.

Footnote 277:

  Turner’s Anglo-Saxons, vol. i.

Footnote 278:

  The Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 937. Johnstone, Antiquitates Celto-Scandicæ,
  p. 31. See Europe during the Middle Ages, vols. iii. and iv.

Footnote 279:

  See page 187.

Footnote 280:

  See page 117.

Footnote 281:

  The French historians in the collection of Bouquet.

Footnote 282:

  See his reign, in the chapter on Denmark, page 102. Wace, Roman de
  Rou, tom. i. part i.

Footnote 283:

  Wace, Roman de Rou, tom. i. Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia Danorum
  extra Daniam, tom. i. p. 225, &c. Depping, Histoire des Expeditions
  Maritimes des Normands, tom. i. chap. 4.

Footnote 284:

  Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia Danorum, tom. i. p. 117–119. Wace,
  Roman de Rou, tom. i. part i. For a parallel incident in Danish
  history, see before, page 27.

Footnote 285:

  Wace, Roman de Ron, tom. i. part i. Benoit de St. Maur, Chronique des
  Ducs de Normandie, liv. i. Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia Danorum,
  tom. i. p. 214.

Footnote 286:

  Wace—Dudo de St. Quentin—Benoit de St. Maur—Pontoppidan.

Footnote 287:

  Wace, Roman de Rou, tom. i. part ii. Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia,
  tom. i. (sub annis).

Footnote 288:

                De la sainte _Kemise_ ke la dame vesti,
                Ki mere e vierge fu quant de lie dex naski,
                Out Rou si grant pour et tant s’en, esbahi,
                N’i osa arester; vers als nes tost s’enfui.

Footnote 289:

  Abbonis Floriacensis Poema de Obsidione Parisiensi, lib. i. et ii.
  Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia, tom. i. p. 244–264. Wace, Roman de
  Rou, part ii. Depping, Histoire des Expeditions, tom. ii. chap. 7.

Footnote 290:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 291:

  Authorities:—Dudo of St. Quentin, Wace, Benoit of St. Maur,
  Pontoppidan, and Depping. The last-named writer makes a sad confusion
  of the chronology.

Footnote 292:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 293:

  Authorities:—Dudo of St. Quentin, Wace, Pontoppidan, Depping.

Footnote 294:

  Moore’s History of Ireland, vol. ii.

Footnote 295:

  Saxonis Grammatici, Hist. Dan. lib. i. tom. v. Waræus, De
  Antiquitatibus Hiberniæ, cap. 24. Pontoppidan, Gesta et Vestigia, tom.
  ii. p. 299, &c. Moore, History of Ireland, vol. ii. chap. xv. and xvi.

Footnote 296:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 297:

  Authorities:—Saxo Grammaticus, Pontoppidan, and the Irish Chronicles,
  as quoted by Usher and Moore.

Footnote 298:

  The same authorities.

Footnote 299:

  Depping, Histoire, tom. ii. Moore, History, vol. ii. Pontoppidan,
  Gesta et Vestigia, tom. ii.


                        END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


                      Printed by A. SPOTTISWOODE,



                          CABINET OF HISTORY.

                            CONDUCTED BY THE

              REV. DIONYSIUS LARDNER, LL.D. F.R.S. L. & E.
         M.R.I.A. F.R.A.S. F.L.S. F.Z.S. Hon. F.C.P.S. &c. &c.

                              ASSISTED BY

                         EMINENT LITERARY MEN.


                      DENMARK, SWEDEN, AND NORWAY.

                            BY THE AUTHOR OF


                                VOL. I.



                              PRINTED FOR



                            AND JOHN TAYLOR,

                          UPPER GOWER STREET.



                      Printed by A. SPOTTISWOODE,


● Transcriber’s note:

    ○ All footnotes have been gathered together and placed at after
     the Appendix.

    ○ The footnote marker number 173 attached to the text “scarcely
      habitable by men” on page 170 was not attached to any footnote

    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.

    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.

    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.

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