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Title: The King's Mirror - Speculum regale-Konungs skuggsjá
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                                  The Library of Scandinavian Literature



                           THE KING’S MIRROR


                     TRANSLATED FROM THE OLD NORSE
                       LAURENCE MARCELLUS LARSON


                   TWAYNE PUBLISHERS, INC., NEW YORK


                 The Library of Scandinavian Literature
                     Erik J. Friis, General Editor

                               Volume 15

                           The King’s Mirror

        Copyright © 1917 by The American-Scandinavian Foundation
            Library of Congress catalog card number: 72-1542



                        TO MY FATHER AND TO THE

                          MEMORY OF MY MOTHER



Among the many arguments that have recently been advanced in support of
imperialistic ambitions and statesmanship, there is one that justifies
and demands aggression in the interest of human culture. According to
this rather plausible political philosophy, it is the destiny of the
smaller states to be absorbed into the larger and stronger. The
application is not to be limited to the so-called “backward races”; it
is also extended to the lesser peoples of Europe. These have, it is
held, no real right to an independent existence; only the great, the
powerful, and the mighty can claim this privilege, for they alone are
able to render the higher forms of service to civilization.

To this theory the history of the Scandinavian lands provides a complete
and striking refutation. In the drama of European development the
Northern countries have played important and honorable parts; but except
for a brilliant period in Swedish history (chiefly during the
seventeenth century) they have never weighed heavily in the Continental
balance. Their geographical situation is unfavorable and their economic
resources have never been comparable to those of the more prominent
states beyond the Baltic and the North Sea. But when we come to the
kingdom of intellect the story is a totally different one. The literary
annals of Europe in the nineteenth century give prominence to a series
of notable Scandinavian writers who not only achieved recognition in
their own lands but found a place in the competition for leadership in
the world at large. The productivity of the Northern mind is not of
recent origin, however; the literatures of Scandinavia have a history
that leads back into the days of heathen worship more than a thousand
years ago.

Perhaps the most effective illustration of what a fruitful intellect can
accomplish even when placed in the most unpromising environment is
medieval Iceland. Along the western and southwestern coasts of the
island lay a straggling settlement of Norwegian immigrants whose lives
were spent chiefly in a struggle to force the merest subsistence from a
niggardly soil. And yet, in the later middle ages and even earlier,
there was a literary activity on these Arctic shores which, in output as
well as in quality, compares favorably with that of any part of
contemporary Europe. Evidently intellectual greatness bears but slight
relation to economic advantages or political power. What was true of
Iceland was also true of Norway, though in a lesser degree. In that
country, too, life was in great measure a continuous struggle with the
soil and the sea. Still, even in that land and age, the spirits were
active, the arts flourished, and the North added her contribution to the
treasures of European culture.

The poems and tales of those virile days, the eddas and sagas, are too
familiar to need more than a mention in this connection. But the fact is
not so commonly known that the medieval Northmen were thinkers and
students as well as poets and romancers. They, too, were interested in
the mysteries of the universe, in the problems of science, and in the
intricate questions of social relationships. In their thinking on these
matters they showed more intellectual independence and less slavish
regard for venerable authority than was usually the case among medieval
writers. And of all the men who in that age of faith tried to analyse
and set in order their ideas of the world in which they moved, perhaps
none drew more largely on his own spiritual resources than the unknown
author of the _King’s Mirror_.

Unlike the sagas and related writings, the purpose of the _King’s
Mirror_ is utilitarian and didactic. The author has before him a group
of serious and important problems, which he proceeds to discuss for the
instruction of his readers. Consequently, certain qualities of style
that are often associated with Old Norse literature are not apparent in
his work to any marked degree. In his effort to make his language clear,
definite, and intelligible, the author sometimes finds it necessary to
repeat and restate his ideas, with the result that his literary style is
frequently stiff, labored, and pedantic. These defects are, however, not
characteristic of the book as a whole. Many of its chapters display rare
workmanship and prove that the author of the _King’s Mirror_ is one of
the great masters of Old Norse prose.

In preparing the translation of this unique work, my aim has been to
reproduce the author’s thought as faithfully as possible and to state it
in such a form as to satisfy the laws of English syntax. But I have also
felt that, so far as it can be done, the flavor of the original should
be retained and that a translator, in his effort to satisfy certain
conventional demands of modern composition, should not deviate too far
from the path of mental habit that the author has beaten in his roamings
through the fields of thought. Peculiarities of style and expression,
can, it is true, usually not be reproduced in another language; at the
same time it is possible to ignore these considerations to such an
extent that the product becomes a paraphrase rather than a translation;
and I have believed that such a rendition should be avoided, even at the
risk of erring on the side of literalness.

The importance of the _King’s Mirror_ as a source of information in the
study of medieval thought was first brought to my attention by Professor
Julius E. Olson of the University of Wisconsin, who has also, since the
work of preparing this edition was begun, followed its progress with
helpful interest. Professors G. T. Flom and A. H. Lybyer of the
University of Illinois, and Professor W. H. Schofield of Harvard
University, have read the manuscript in whole or part and have
contributed many valuable suggestions. My wife, Lillian May Larson, has
assisted in a great variety of ways, as in all my work. Dr. H. G. Leach
of the American-Scandinavian Foundation has read the proof sheets of the
entire volume and has suggested many improvements in the text. To all
these persons I wish to express my thanks. I am also deeply indebted to
the trustees of the American-Scandinavian Foundation whose generosity
has made it possible to publish the work at this time.

                                                                L. M. L.

    _University of Illinois,
    August, 1917._







             SCIENTIFIC LORE AND THE BELIEF IN MARVELS              11

             COURTESY AND THE KING’S HOUSEHOLD                      26


             ETHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL IDEAS OF THE WORK              49


             THE PROBLEM OF AUTHORSHIP                              54

             DATE AND PLACE OF COMPOSITION                          59

             EDITIONS OF THE KING’S MIRROR                          65





         IV. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                             81

          V. THE SUN AND THE WINDS                                  86



       VIII. THE MARVELS OF NORWAY                                  99


          X. THE NATURAL WONDERS OF IRELAND                        105



       XIII. THE WONDERS OF ICELAND                                126

        XIV. THE VOLCANIC FIRES OF ICELAND                         130




      XVIII. THE PRODUCTS OF GREENLAND                             144



        XXI. THE ZONES OF HEAT AND COLD                            153

       XXII. THE WINDS WITH RESPECT TO NAVIGATION                  156











     XXXIII. THE PROPER USES OF “YOU” AND “THOU”                   188

      XXXIV. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            189

               AND GOVERNMENT


               ROYAL GUARDSMEN

    XXXVIII. WEAPONS FOR OFFENSE AND DEFENSE                       217

      XXXIX. MILITARY ENGINES                                      220


        XLI. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            231



       XLIV. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            248

               PEACE AND MERCY




               TRUTH AND JUSTICE



        LII. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            284


        LIV. THE KING’S PRAYER                                     290


        LVI. THE SPEECH OF WISDOM                                  299


      LVIII. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            309

               SHOULD BE MERCIFUL

         LX. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            316

        LXI. CONCERNING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT                         318

       LXII. THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED                            320

               DAVID AND SAUL




               SECURITY TO JOAB



               SECOND PART

             BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          369

             INDEX                                                 375


                           THE KING’S MIRROR


The place of the thirteenth century in the history of human achievement
is a subject upon which scholars have not yet come to a general
agreement. There can be no doubt that it was, on the whole, an age of
progress in many fields; but there is much in its history that points to
stagnation, if not to actual decline. From a superficial study of its
annals one might be led to class it with the lesser centuries; most
writers are inclined to rank it lower than the fourteenth century, and
perhaps not even so high as the twelfth. It was in this period that the
crusading movement finally flickered out and the Christian world was
compelled to leave the cradle of the holy faith in the hands of the
infidel. In the thirteenth century, too, the medieval empire sank into
hopeless inefficiency and all but expired. The papacy, which more than
any other power was responsible for the ruin of the imperial ambitions,
also went into decline. Whether the loss in authority and prestige on
the part of the holy see was compensated by a renewed spiritual energy
in the church at large may well be doubted: what evidence we have would
indicate that the religion of the masses was gross and materialistic,
that ethical standards were low, and that the improvement in clerical
morals, which the church had hoped would follow the enforcement of
celibacy, had failed to appear.

Yet the thirteenth century also had its attractive figures and its
important movements. The old social order was indeed crumbling, but in
its place appeared two new forces which were to inherit the power and
opportunities of feudalism and reshape social life: these were the new
monarchy, enjoying wide sovereign powers, and the new national
consciousness, which was able to think in larger units. In England the
century saw the development of a new representative institution, which
has become the mother of modern legislative assemblies. The Italian
cities were growing rich from the profits of Oriental trade; in the
Flemish towns the weaver’s industry was building up new forms of
municipal life; the great German Hansa was laying hold on the commerce
of the northern seas. In the realms of higher intellect, in science,
philosophy, and theology, the age was a notable one, with Roger Bacon,
Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas as the leaders, each in his field.
The century also meant much for the progress of geographical knowledge,
for it was in this period that Marco Polo penetrated the mysterious
lands of the Far East.

As the historian looks back into this age, he is, therefore, able to
find broad traces of much that is regarded as fundamental to modern
life. Of first importance in this regard is the employment of popular
idioms in literary productions. French literature saw its beginnings in
the eleventh century with the _chansons de geste_, songs of valorous
deeds from the heroic age of the Frankish kingdom. In the next century
the poets began to use the themes of the Arthurian legends and sang the
exploits of the famous British king and the knights of his Round Table.
A little later came another cycle of poems based on the heroic tales of
classical antiquity. The twelfth century witnessed a parallel movement
in Germany, which at first was largely an imitation of contemporary
French poetry. The poets, however, soon discovered literary treasures in
the dim world of the Teutonic past, in the tales of the Nibelungs, in
the heroic deeds of Theodoric, and in the exploits of other heroes.

Thus in the first half of the thirteenth century there was a large body
of French and German verse in circulation. The verses were borne from
region to region and from land to land by professional entertainers, who
chanted the poems, and by pilgrims and other travelers, who secured
manuscript copies. In the course of time the new tales reached the
Northern countries, and it was not long before the Northmen were eagerly
listening to the stories of chivalrous warfare, militant religion, and
tragic love, that they had learned in the southlands.

The Northern peoples thus had a share in the fruitage of the later
middle ages; but they also had a share in their achievements.
Politically as well as intellectually the thirteenth century was a great
age in the Scandinavian countries. The Danish kingdom rose to the
highest point of its power under Valdemar the Victorious, whose troubled
reign began in 1202. Valdemar succeeded in extending the territories of
Denmark along the entire southern coast of the Baltic Sea; but the
greatness was short-lived: after the defeat of the Danes by the North
Germans at Börnhoved in 1227, the decline of Danish imperialism began.
In Sweden, too, men dreamed of conquest beyond the sea. Under the
leadership of Earl Birger, the most eminent statesman of medieval
Sweden, Swedish power was steadily extended into Finnish territory, and
the foundations of Sweden as a great European power was being laid.

During the days of Valdemar and the great Birger Norway also reached its
greatest territorial extent. After a century of factional warfare, the
nation settled down to comparative peace. All the Norwegian colonies
except those in Ireland, were definitely made subject to the Norwegian
crown: these were the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, the Orkneys, the
Shetlands, the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. In every field of
national life there was vigor and enterprise. And on the throne sat a
strong, wise, and learned monarch, Hakon IV, the ruler with the “great

The real greatness of the thirteenth century in the North lies, however,
in the literary achievements of the age. It is not known when the Old
Norse poets first began to exercise their craft, but the earliest poems
that have come down to us date from the ninth century. For two hundred
years the literary production was in the form of alliterative verse; but
after 1050 there came a time when scaldic poetry did not seem to thrive.
This does not mean that the interest in literature died out; it merely
took a new form: the age of poetry was followed by an age of prose. With
the Christian faith came the Latin alphabet and writing materials, and
there was no longer any need to memorize verse. The new form was the
saga, which began to appear in the twelfth century and received many
notable additions in the thirteenth. The literary movement on the
continent, therefore, had its counterpart in the North; only here the
writings took the form of prose, while there literature was chiefly in

These two currents came into contact in the first half of the thirteenth
century, when the men and women of the North began to take an interest
in the Arthurian romances and other tales that had found their way into
Norway. In this new form of Norwegian literature there could not be much
originality; still its appearance testifies to a widening of the
intellectual horizon. In addition to sagas and romances the period was
also productive of written laws, homilies, legends, Biblical narratives,
histories, and various other forms of literature. It is to be noted that
virtually everything was written in the idiom of the common people.
Latin was used to some extent in the North in the later middle ages, but
it never came into such general use there as in other parts of Europe.
In the thirteenth century it had almost passed out of use as a literary

In our interest in tales and romances we must not overlook the fact that
the thirteenth century also produced an important literature of the
didactic type. For centuries the Christian world had studied the
encyclopedic works of Capella, Cassiodorus, and Isidore, or had read the
writings of Bede and his many followers who had composed treatises “on
the nature of things,” in which they had striven to set in order the
known or supposed facts of the physical world. The thirteenth century
had an encyclopedist of its own in Vincent of Beauvais, who produced a
vast compendium made up of several _Specula_, which were supposed to
contain all the knowledge that the world possessed in science, history,
theology, and other fields of learning. The age also produced various
other Latin works of the didactic sort, of which the _Historia
Scholastica_ of Petrus Comestor was perhaps the most significant for the
intellectual history of the North.

Norway had no encyclopedist, but the thirteenth century produced a
Norwegian writer who undertook a task which was somewhat of the
encyclopedic type. Some time during the reign of Hakon IV, perhaps while
Vincent was composing his great _Speculum Majus_, a learned Norseman
wrote the _Speculum Regale_, or _King’s Mirror_, a work which a
competent critic has characterized as “one of the chief ornaments of Old
Norse literature.”[1] Unlike the sagas and the romances, which have in
view chiefly the entertainment of the reader, the _King’s Mirror_ is
didactic throughout; in a few chapters only does the author depart from
his serious purpose, and all but two of these are of distinct value. The
purpose of the work is to provide a certain kind of knowledge which will
be of use to young men who are looking forward to a career in the higher

Footnote 1:

  R. Keyser in the introduction to the Christiania edition (p. xi).

As outlined in the introductory chapter, the work was to deal with the
four great orders of men in the Norwegian kingdom: the merchants and
their interests; the king and his retainers; the church and the clergy;
and the peasantry or husbandmen. In the form in which the _King’s
Mirror_ has come down to modern times, however, the first two divisions
only are included; not the least fragment of any separate discussion of
the clerical profession or of the agricultural classes has been found.
It is, therefore, generally believed that the work was not completed
beyond the point where the extant manuscripts close. Why the book was
left unfinished cannot be known; but it is a plausible conjecture that
illness or perhaps death prevented the author, who was apparently an
aged man, from completing the task that he had set before him. It is
also possible that the ideas expressed in the closing chapters of the
work, especially in the last chapter, which deals with the subject of
clerical subordination to the secular powers, were so repugnant to the
ecclesiastical thought of the time that the authorities of the church
discouraged or perhaps found means to prevent the continuation of the
work into the third division, where the author had planned to deal with
the church and the clergy.

In form the _Speculum_ is a dialog between a wise and learned father and
his son, in which the larger part of the discussion naturally falls to
the former. The son asks questions and suggests problems, which the
father promptly answers or solves. In the choice of form there is
nothing original: the dialog was frequently used by didactic writers in
the middle ages, and it was the natural form to adopt. The title,
_Speculum Regale_, is also of a kind that was common in those days.[2]
_Specula_ of many sorts were being produced: _Speculum Ecclesiae_,
_Speculum Stultorum_, _Speculum Naturale_, and _Speculum Perfectionis_
are some of the titles used for writings of a didactic type. The German
_Sachsenspiegel_ is an instance of the title employed for a work in a
vulgar idiom. There was also a _Speculum Regum_, or _Mirror of Kings_,
and a century later an English ecclesiastic wrote a _Speculum Regis_,
but the writer knows of no other work called the _Speculum Regale_.

Footnote 2:

  It is believed that the title came into use in Europe in imitation of
  Hindu writers who wrote “Mirrors of Princes.” Nansen, _In Northern
  Mists_, II, 242.

It is an interesting question whether the _King’s Mirror_ was inspired
by any earlier work written along similar lines. Originality was a rare
virtue in the middle ages, and the good churchmen who wrote books in
those days cannot have regarded plagiarism as a mortal sin. The great
writers were freely copied by the lesser men, thoughts, titles,
statements, and even the wording being often taken outright. It is,
therefore, difficult to determine the sources of statements found in the
later works, as they may have been drawn from any one of a whole series
of writings on the subject under discussion. The writer has not been
able to make an exhaustive examination of all the didactic and
devotional literature of the centuries preceding the thirteenth, but the
search that has been made has not proved fruitful. There is every reason
to believe that the author of the _King’s Mirror_ was an independent
thinker and writer. He was doubtless acquainted with a large number of
books and had drawn information from a great variety of sources; but
when the writing was actually done he had apparently a few volumes only
at his disposal. In the region where the work seems to have been
composed, on the northern edge of European civilization, there was
neither cathedral nor monastery nor any other important ecclesiastical
foundation where a collection of books might be found.[3] It is likely,
therefore, that the author had access to such books only as were in his
own possession. But he came to his task with a well-stocked mind, with a
vast fund of information gathered by travel and from the experiences of
an active life; and thus he drew largely from materials that had become
the permanent possession of his memory. This fact, if it be a fact, will
also help to explain why so many inaccuracies have crept into his quoted
passages; in but very few instances does he give the correct wording of
a citation.

Footnote 3:

  There must have been important collections of manuscripts at Nidaros
  (Trondhjem), where there was a cathedral and several monastic
  institutions. The _King’s Mirror_ was probably composed in Namdalen,
  about one hundred miles northeast of Nidaros. See below, pp. 59–60.

There can be no doubt that the author had a copy of the _Vulgate_ before
him; at least one Biblical passage is correctly given, and it is quoted
in its Latin form.[4] It has also been discovered that he had access to
an Old Norse paraphrase of a part of the Old Testament, the books of
Samuel and of the Kings.[5] It is likely that he was also acquainted
with some of the works of Saint Augustine, and perhaps with the writings
of certain other medieval authorities. Among these it seems safe to
include the _Disciplina Clericalis_, a collection of tales and ethical
observations by Petrus Alfonsus, a converted Jew who wrote in the first
half of the twelfth century. The _Disciplina_ is a somewhat fantastic
production wholly unlike the sober pages of the _Speculum Regale_;
nevertheless, the two works appear to show certain points of resemblance
which can hardly have been accidental. The _Disciplina_ is a dialog and
the part of the son is much the same as in the _King’s Mirror_. In both
works the young man expresses a desire to become acquainted with the
customs of the royal court, inasmuch as he may some day decide to apply
for admission to the king’s household service.[6] The description of
courtly manners and customs in the earlier dialog, though much briefer
than the corresponding discussion in the Norwegian treatise, has some
resemblance to the latter which suggests a possible relationship between
the two works.

Footnote 4:

  See below, p. 237.

Footnote 5:

  Storm, “Om Tidsforholdet mellem Kongespeilet og Stjórn samt Barlaams
  Saga”: _Arkiv for nordisk Filologi_, III, 83-88.

Footnote 6:

  See _Disciplina Clericalis_, fabula xxiv: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_,
  CLVII, 698-700.

The Norwegian author may also have used some of the many commentaries on
the books of Holy Writ, in the production of which the medieval
cloisters were so prolific. Of the influence of Petrus Comestor’s
_Historia Scholastica_ the writer has found no distinct trace in the
_King’s Mirror_; but one can be quite sure that he knew and had used the
_Elucidarium_ of Honorius of Autun. The _Elucidarium_ is a manual of
medieval theology which was widely read in the later middle ages and was
translated into Old Norse, probably before the _King’s Mirror_ was
written.[7] But our Norwegian author was not a slavish follower of
earlier authorities: in his use and treatment of materials drawn from
the Scriptures he shows remarkable independence. Remarkable at least is
his ability to make Biblical narratives serve to illustrate his own
theories of Norwegian kingship. He was acquainted with some of the
legends that circulated through the church and made effective use of
them. He must also have known a work on the marvels of Ireland[8] and
the letter of Prester John to the Byzantine emperor,[9] in which that
mythical priest-king recounts the wonders of India. But the chief source
of his work is a long life full of action, conflict, thought, and

Footnote 7:

  A fragment of the _Elucidarium_, comprising, however, the greater part
  of the work, is published in _Annaler for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1852
  and 1853; in the former volume a Danish translation is given; the
  latter contains the Icelandic text.

Footnote 8:

  See below, pp. 22–25.

Footnote 9:

  See below, p. 101 (c. viii).

The importance of the _King’s Mirror_ lies in the insight that it gives
into the state of culture and civilization of the North in the later
middle ages. The interest follows seven different lines: physical
science, especially such matters as are of importance to navigators;
geography, particularly the geography of the Arctic lands and waters;
the organization of the king’s household and the privileges and duties
of the king’s henchmen; military engines, weapons, and armour used in
offensive and defensive warfare; ethical ideas, especially rules of
conduct for courtiers and merchants; the royal office, the duties of the
king and the divine origin of kingship; and the place of the church in
the Norwegian state.

In one of his earlier chapters the author enumerates the chief subjects
of a scientific character that ought to be studied by every one who
wishes to become a successful merchant. These are the great luminaries
of the sky, the motions and the paths of the heavenly bodies, the
divisions of time and the changes that bring the seasons, the cardinal
points of the compass, and the tides and currents of the ocean.[10] In
discussing these matters he is naturally led to a statement as to the
shape of the earth. All through the middle ages there were thinkers who
accepted the teachings of the classical astronomers who had taught that
the earth is round like a sphere; but this belief was by no means
general. Bede for one appears to have been convinced that the earth is
of a spherical shape, though he explains that, because of mountains
which rise high above the surface, it cannot be perfectly round.[11]
Alexander Neckam, an English scientist who wrote two generations before
the _King’s Mirror_ was composed, states in his _Praise of Divine
Wisdom_ that “the ancients have ventured to believe that the earth is
round, though mountains rise high above its surface.”[12] Neckam’s own
ideas on this point are quite confused and he remains discreetly

Footnote 10:

  C. iv. See also Larson, “Scientific Knowledge in the North in the
  Thirteenth Century”: _Publications of the Society for the Advancement
  of Scandinavian Study_, I, 139-146.

Footnote 11:

  _De Natura Rerum_, c. xlvi: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, XC, 264-265.

Footnote 12:

  _De Naturis Rerum_, 441.

But if the earth is a globe, there is every reason to believe in the
existence of antipodes; and if there are antipodes, all cannot behold
Christ coming in the clouds on the final day. To the medieval
theologians, at least to the larger number of them, this argument
disposed effectually of the Ptolemaic theory. Job does indeed say that
God “hangeth the earth upon nothing,”[13] and this passage might point
to a spherical form; but then the Psalmist affirms that He “stretched
out the earth above the waters,”[14] and this statement would indicate
that the inhabited part of the earth is an island floating upon the
waters of the great Ocean, by which it is also surrounded. This belief
was generally maintained in the earlier centuries of the classical
world, and it had wide acceptance in the middle ages. There were also
those who held that beyond and around the outer Ocean is a great girdle
of fire. It is likely, however, that many believed with Isidore of
Seville that it is useless to speculate on subjects of this sort.
“Whether it [the earth] is supported by the density of the air, or
whether it is spread out upon the waters ... or how the yielding air can
support such a vast mass as the earth, whether such an immense weight
can be upheld by the waters without being submerged, or how the earth
maintains its balance ... these matters it is not permitted any mortal
to know and they are not for us to discuss.”[15]

Footnote 13:

  _Job_, xxvi, 7.

Footnote 14:

  _Psalms_, cxxxvi, 6.

Footnote 15:

  _De Natura Rerum Liber_, c. xlv: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, LXXXIII,

There can be no doubt that the author of the _King’s Mirror_ believed in
the Ptolemaic theory of a spherical earth. In speaking of our planet he
uses the term _jarðarbollr_,[16] earth-sphere. In an effort to explain
why some countries are hotter than others, he suggests an experiment
with an apple. It is not clear how this can shed much light on the
problem, but the author boldly states the point to be illustrated: “From
this you may infer that the earth-circle is round like a ball.”[17]

Footnote 16:

  See c. xix.

Footnote 17:

  See c. vii.

Toward the close of the medieval period there were certain thinkers who
attempted to reconcile the spherical theory with the belief that the
inhabited part of the earth is an island. These appear to have believed
that the earth is a globe partly submerged in a larger sphere composed
of water.[18] The visible parts of the earth would rise above the
surrounding ocean like a huge island, and the Biblical passages which
had caused so much difficulty could thus be interpreted in accord with
apparent facts. It is quite clear that the author of the _King’s Mirror_
held no such theory. In a poetic description of how the eight winds form
their covenants of friendship at the approach of spring, he tells us
that “at midnight the north wind goes forth to meet the coursing sun and
leads him through rocky deserts toward the sparse-built shores.”[19] The
author, therefore, seems to believe that the earth is a sphere, that
there are lands on the opposite side of the earth, and that these lands
are inhabited. He also understands that the regions that lie beneath the
midnight course of the sun in spring and summer must be thinly
populated, as the sun’s path on the opposite side of the earth during
the season of lengthening days is constantly approaching nearer the

Footnote 18:

  Ruge, _Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen_, 97.

Footnote 19:

  C. v.

But while the author seems to accept the Ptolemaic theory of the
universe, he is not able to divest his mind entirely of current
geographical notions. There can be no doubt that he believed in the
encircling outer ocean, and it is barely possible that he also looked
with favor on the belief that the whole was encompassed by a girdle of
fire. On this point, however, we cannot be sure: he mentions the belief
merely as one that is current, not as one accepted by himself.[20]

Footnote 20:

  C. xix.

It was commonly held in the middle ages that the earth is divided into
five zones, only two of which may be inhabited. This was a theory
advanced by a Greek scientist in the fifth century before our era,[21]
and was given currency in medieval times chiefly, perhaps, through the
works of Macrobius.[22] At first these zones were conceived as belts
drawn across the heavens; later they came to be considered as divisions
of the earth’s surface. It will be noted that our author uses the older
terminology and speaks of the zones as belts on the heaven;[23] it may
be inferred, therefore, that he derived his information from one of the
earlier Latin treatises on the nature of the universe.[24] For two
thousand years it was believed that human life could not exist in the
polar and torrid zones. Even as late as the fifteenth century European
navigators had great fear of travel into the torrid zone, where the heat
was thought to grow more intense as one traveled south, until a point
might be reached where water in the sea would boil. The author of the
_King’s Mirror_ seems to doubt all this. He regards the polar zones as
generally uninhabitable; still, he is sure that Greenland lies within
the arctic zone; and yet, Greenland “has beautiful sunshine and is said
to have a rather pleasant climate.”[25] He sees quite clearly that the
physical nature of a country may have much to do with climatic
conditions. The cold of Iceland he ascribes in great part to its
position near Greenland: “for it is to be expected that severe cold
would come thence, since Greenland is ice-clad beyond all other
lands.”[26] He conceives the possibility that the south temperate zone
is inhabited. “And if people live as near the cold belt on the southern
side as the Greenlanders do on the northern, I firmly believe that the
north wind blows as warm to them as the south wind to us. For they must
look north to see the midday and the sun’s whole course, just as we, who
dwell north of the sun, must look to the south.”[27]

Footnote 21:

  Parmenides of Ela (ca. 480 B.C.). Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, I, 12.

Footnote 22:

  See below, p. 147 (c. xix). Cf. _Ibid._, 123.

Footnote 23:

  C. xix.

Footnote 24:

  Probably from the writings of Isidore, who speaks of the zones as
  belts on the heavens. _Etymologiae_, iii, c. xliv; xiii, c. vi; _De
  Natura Rerum_, c. x.

Footnote 25:

  C. xix.

Footnote 26:

  C. xiii.

Footnote 27:

  C. xxi.

On the questions of time and its divisions the author of the _King’s
Mirror_ seems to have had nearly all the information that the age
possessed. He divides the period of day and night into two “days”
(_dægr_) of twelve hours each. Each hour is again divided into smaller
hours called _ostenta_ in Latin.[28] Any division below the minute he
apparently does not know. The length of the year he fixes at 365 days
and six hours, every fourth year these additional hours make twenty-four
and we have leap year.[29] The waxing and waning of the moon and the
tidal changes in the ocean are also reckoned with fair accuracy.[30]

Footnote 28:

  C. vi.

Footnote 29:


Footnote 30:


Medieval scientists found these movements in the ocean a great mystery.
Some ascribed the tides to the influence of the moon;[31] others
believed that they were caused by the collision of the waters of two
arms of the ocean, an eastern arm and a western; still others imagined
that somewhere there were “certain cavern-like abysses, which now
swallow up the water, and now spew it forth again.”[32] The author of
the _Speculum_ has no doubts on the subject: he believes that the tides
are due to the waxing and waning of the moon.[33]

Footnote 31:

  The Venerable Bede held that the moon is in some way responsible for
  the tides. _De Natura Rerum_, c. xxxix: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_,
  XC, 258-259; see also _ibid._, XC, 422-426 (_De Tempore Ratione_, c.

Footnote 32:

  Alexander Neckam, _De Naturis Rerum_, 138.

Footnote 33:

  C. vi.

In his discussion of the volcanic fires of Iceland he shows that on this
subject he was completely under the influence of medieval conceptions.
He has heard that Gregory the Great believed that the volcanic eruptions
in Sicily have their origins in the infernal regions. Our author is
inclined to question, however, that there is anything supernatural about
the eruptions of Mount Etna; but he is quite sure that the volcanic
fires of Iceland rise from the places of pain. The fires of Sicily are
living fires, inasmuch as they devour living materials, such as wood and
earth; those of Iceland, on the other hand, consume nothing living but
only dead matter like rock. And he therefore concludes that these fires
must have their origin in the realms of death.[34]

Footnote 34:

  C. xiii.

The author has a suspicion that earthquakes may be due to volcanic
action, but he offers another explanation, though he does not give it as
his own belief. Down in the bowels of the earth there is probably a
large number of caverns and empty passages. “At times it may happen that
these passages and cavities will be so completely packed with air either
by the winds or by the power of the roaring breakers, that the pressure
of the blast cannot be confined, and this may be the origin of those
great earthquakes that occur in that country.”[35] In this theory there
is nothing new or original: the belief that the earth is of a spongy
constitution and that earthquakes are caused by air currents is a very
old one, which can be followed back through the writings of Alexander
Neckam,[36] the Venerable Bede,[37] and others, at least as far as to
Isidore.[38] The elder Pliny, who wrote his _Natural History_ in the
first century of the Christian era, seems to have held similar views: “I
believe there can be no doubt that the winds are the cause of

Footnote 35:


Footnote 36:

  _De Naturis Rerum_, 158.

Footnote 37:

  _De Natura Rerum_, c. xlix: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, XC, 275-276.

Footnote 38:

  _De Natura Rerum_, c. xlvi: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, LXXXIII, 1015.
  See also _The Christian Topography_ of Cosmas (written about 547),
  17-18; Cosmas scoffs at the theory.

Footnote 39:

  _Naturalis Historiae_, I, 201 (ii, c. lxxix).

The chapters that deal with the northern lights are interesting because
they seem to imply that these lights were not visible in those parts of
Norway where the _King’s Mirror_ was written. The editors of the
Christiania edition of this work call attention to the fact that there
have been periods when these phenomena were less prominent, and suggest
that there may have been such a period in the thirteenth century.[40]
The author discusses these lights as one of the wonders of Greenland,
and the natural inference is that they were not known in Norway. But it
is also true that he speaks of whales as if they were limited to the
seas about Iceland and Greenland, which is manifestly incorrect. It is
likely that the author merely wishes to emphasize the fact that the
northern lights appear with greater frequency and in greater brilliance
in Greenland than anywhere in Norway. He gives three theories to account
for these phenomena: some ascribe them to a girdle of fire which
encircles the earth beyond the outer ocean; others hold that the lights
are merely rays of the sun which find their way past the edges of the
earth while the sun is coursing underneath; but his own belief is that
frost and cold have attained to such a power in the Arctic that they are
able to put forth light.[41] In his opinion cold is a positive force as
much as heat or any other form of energy. To the men of the author’s
time there was nothing strange in this belief: it seems to have been
held by many even before the thirteenth century that ice could under
certain conditions produce heat and even burn.[42]

Footnote 40:

  P. ix, note.

Footnote 41:

  C. xix.

Footnote 42:

  Thus Solinus (pp. xxxiv, xxxvii, 236) says “the sea-ice on this island
  ignites itself on collision, and when it is ignited it burns like
  wood.” See Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, I, 193. Adam von Bremen
  (_Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum_, iv, 34) writes: “they
  report this remarkable thing about it that this ice appears so black
  and dry that, on account of its age, it burns when it is kindled.”
  _Ibid._ The same belief appears in a German poem _Meregarto_: “Thereby
  the ice there becomes so hard as crystal, that they make a fire above
  it till the crystal glows.” _Ibid._, I, 181.

Among the author’s scientific notions very little that is really
original can be found. It is Riant’s belief that he drew to some extent
from Oriental sources, the lore of the East having come into the North
as the spoil of crusaders or as the acquisitions of Norwegian
pilgrims.[43] It may be doubted, however, whether the Saracenic
contribution is a real one: almost everything that the author of the
_Speculum Regale_ presents as his belief can be found in the Latin
scientific manuals of the middle ages. He alludes to the writings of
Isidore of Seville, and there can be little doubt that he was acquainted
with the ideas of the great Spaniard, though he does not accept them
all. His ideas as to the shape of the earth and the probable causes of
earthquakes may have been derived from the writings of the Venerable
Bede, or from one of his numerous followers. The divisions of time are
discussed in many of the scientific treatises of the middle ages, but
the division of the hour into sixtieths called _ostenta_ is probably not
found in any manual written before the ninth century; so far as the
writer has been able to determine, _ostenta_, meaning minutes, first
appears in the works of Rabanus Maurus.[44]

Footnote 43:

  Riant, _Expéditions et Pèlerinages des Scandinaves en Terre Sainte_,

Footnote 44:

  Rabanus Maurus died in 856.

The discussion of these scientific notions has its chief value in
showing to what extent the Norwegians of the thirteenth century were
acquainted with the best theories of the age as to the great facts of
the universe. The author’s own contribution to the scientific learning
of his time lies almost exclusively in the field of geography. “Beyond
comparison the most important geographical writer of the medieval
North,” says Dr. Nansen, “and at the same time one of the first in the
whole of medieval Europe, was the unknown author who wrote the _King’s
Mirror_.... If one turns from contemporary or earlier European
geographical literature, with all its superstition and obscurity, to
this masterly work, the difference is very striking.”[45] This is
doubtless due to the fact that our author was not a cloistered monk who
was content to copy the ideas and expressions of his predecessors with
such changes as would satisfy a theological mind, but a man who had been
active in the secular world and was anxious to get at real facts.

Footnote 45:

  Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, II, 242.

Among the chapters devoted to scientific lore the author has introduced
several which are ostensibly intended to serve the purpose of
entertainment; the author seems to fear that the interest of his readers
is likely to flag, if the dry recital of physical facts is continued
unbroken. It is in these chapters, which profess to deal with the
marvels of Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and the Arctic seas,
that he introduces his geographical data. In the description of
Greenland are included such important and practical subjects as the
general character of the land, the great ice fields, the products of the
country, wild animals, and a few facts from the economic life of the
people. In the chapters on Iceland the author limits himself to certain
physical features, such as glaciers, geysers, mineral springs,
volcanoes, and earthquakes. He also gives a “description of the animal
world of the northern seas to which there is no parallel in the earlier
literature of the world.”[46] He enumerates twenty-one different species
of whales[47] and describes several of them with some fulness. He
mentions and describes six varieties of seals[48] and also gives a
description of the walrus. The marvelous element is represented by
detailed accounts of the “sea-hedges” (probably sea quakes) on the
coasts of Greenland, the merman, the mermaid, and the kraken.[49] But on
the whole these chapters give evidence of careful, discriminating
observation and a desire to give accurate knowledge.

Footnote 46:

  Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, II, 243.

Footnote 47:

  _Ibid._ “If we make allowance for three of them being probably sharks
  and for two being perhaps alternative names for the same whale, the
  total corresponds to the number of species that are known in northern

Footnote 48:

  _Ibid._ This “corresponds to the number of species living on the
  coasts of Norway and Greenland.”

Footnote 49:

  Cc. xii, xvi.

For all but the two chapters on Ireland the sources of the author’s
geographical information are evidently the tales of travelers and his
own personal experiences; of literary sources there is no trace. The
account of the marvels of Ireland, however, gives rise to certain
problems. It may be that the Norwegian geographer based these chapters
on literary sources that are still extant, or he may have had access to
writings which have since disappeared. It is also possible that some of
the information was contributed by travelers who sailed the western seas
and had sojourned on the “western isles;” for it must be remembered that
Norway still had colonies as far south as the Isle of Man, and that
Norsemen were still living in Ireland, though under English rule. When
Hakon IV made his expedition into these regions in 1263, some of these
Norwegian colonists in Ireland sought his aid in the hope that English
rule might be overthrown.[50]

Footnote 50:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 322.

It has long been known that many of the tales of Irish wonders and
miracles that are recounted in the _Speculum Regale_ are also told in
the _Topographia Hibernica_ by Giraldus Cambrensis. The famous Welshman
wrote his work several decades before the _King’s Mirror_ was composed;
and it is not impossible that the author of the latter had access to the
“Irish Topography.” Moreover, the _Speculum Regale_ and the _Topographia
Hibernica_ have certain common features which correspond so closely that
literary kinship seems quite probable. The resemblances, however, are
not so much in the details as in the plan and the viewpoint. In the
second book of his “Topography,” Giraldus recounts “first those things
that nature has planted in the land itself;” and next “those things that
have been miraculously performed through the merits of the saints.”[51]
The author of the _King’s Mirror_ has adopted a similar grouping. After
having discussed some of the wonders of the island he continues: “There
still remain certain things that may be thought marvelous; these,
however, are not native to the land but have originated in the
miraculous powers of holy men.”[52] This correspondence in the general
plan is too remarkable to be wholly accidental; at least it should lead
us to look for other resemblances elsewhere.

Footnote 51:

  Giraldus, Opera, V, 62-64; _King’s Mirror_, c. x.

Footnote 52:

  _Topographia Hibernica_, iii, c. 28; _King’s Mirror_, c. x.

In his general description of Ireland the author of the Norwegian work
calls attention to the excellence of the land and its temperate climate:
“for all through the winter the cattle find their feed in the open.”[53]
Giraldus informs us that grass grows in winter as well as in summer, and
he adds: “therefore they are accustomed neither to cut hay for fodder
nor to provide stables for the cattle.”[54] Both writers emphasize the
fact that grapes do not grow on the island. In both writings attention
is called to the sacred character of the Irish soil, which makes it
impossible for reptiles and venomous animals to live on the land, though
Giraldus has his doubts as to the supernatural phase of the matter. Both
writers add that if sand or dust is brought from Ireland to another
country and scattered about a reptile, it will perish.[55] Both
characterize the Irish people as savage and murderous, but they also
call attention to their kind treatment of holy men, of whom the island
has always had many.[56] In fact, every statement in the _King’s Mirror_
as to the nature of the land and the character of the inhabitants can be
duplicated in Giraldus’ description of Ireland, except, perhaps, the
single observation that the Irish people, because of the mildness of the
climate, often wear no clothes.

Footnote 53:

  _Topographia Hibernica_, ii, introd.: _Opera_, V, 74.

Footnote 54:

  C. xi.

Footnote 55:

  C. x.

Footnote 56:

  _Topographia Hibernica_, i, c. xxxiii: _Opera_, V, 67.

But even if Giraldus’ work is to be regarded as one of the sources which
the Norwegian author may have used in writing his chapters on the Irish
mirabilia, it cannot have been the only or even the principal source.
The account of these marvels in the _King’s Mirror_ does not wholly
agree with that of the Welshman’s work. In some instances the wonders
are told with details that are wanting in the earlier narrative.
Frequently, too, the Norwegian version is more explicit as to localities
and gives proper names where Giraldus has none. It also records marvels
and miracles which are not found in the _Topographia Hibernica_.

In an edition of the _Irish Nennius_ the editor has added as an appendix
a brief account of the “Wonders of Ireland,” many of the tales of which
have interesting parallels in the _King’s Mirror_. There is also a
medieval poem on the same theme[57] which contains allusions to much
that the Norwegian author has recorded with greater fulness. Neither of
these works, however, can have been the source from which the chapters
on Ireland in the _Speculum Regale_ have been derived.

Footnote 57:

  See Wright-Halliwell, _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 103-107.

The learned editors of the Christiania edition of the _King’s Mirror_
reached the conclusion that the author did not draw from any literary
source but derived his information from current tales and other oral
accounts.[58] This is also the opinion of Dr. Kuno Meyer, the eminent
student of Celtic philology.[59] Dr. Meyer bases his belief on the form
of the Irish proper names. As written in the _Speculum Regale_ they can
not have been copied, as the spelling is not normally Irish; he
believes, therefore, that they show an effort on the author’s part to
reproduce phonetically these names as he heard them spoken. But this
theory ignores the fact that in writing them the author employs
combinations of consonants which are unusual to say the least.
Combinations of _ch_ and _gh_ are used in writing nearly all the Irish
proper names that occur in the _King’s Mirror_ and the _gh_-combination
is found nowhere else in the work.[60] It was probably coming into the
language in the century to which the work is credited, but the author
uses it only as indicated above. It seems likely, therefore, that he had
access to a written source, though it is also likely that he did not
have this account before him when the writing was actually done. As has
already been stated, the author seems to have written largely from
memory, and his memory is not always accurate.

Footnote 58:

  P. x.

Footnote 59:

  _Ériu_, IV., 14-16.

Footnote 60:

  In a letter to the writer Professor Meyer expresses the belief that
  the use of _gh_ in the Irish proper names is an invention by the
  author. The combination of _c_ and _h_ is also used in certain other
  proper names, the system varying in the different manuscripts. For a
  discussion of the writing of proper names in the chief manuscript, see
  the American Facsimile Edition of the _Konungs Skuggsjá_ (edited by G.
  T. Flom), xxxvii-xxxix.

Having discussed the subjects which he considers of chief importance for
the education of a merchant, the learned father proceeds to describe the
king’s household and its organization, the manners which one should
observe at court, and the business that is likely to come before a king.
For the part which deals with the royal court, it is probable that no
literary sources were used. The author evidently wrote from long
experience in the king’s retinue; he is not discussing an ideal
organization but the king’s household as it was in Bergen and Trondhjem
in his own day. If he drew from any written description of courtly
manners, it may have been from some book like Petrus Alfonsus’
_Disciplina Clericalis_, which has already been mentioned[61] and which
seems to have had a wide circulation throughout western Europe in the
later middle ages.

Footnote 61:

  See above, pp. 9–10.

The chapters that are devoted to the discussion of the duties and
activities of the king’s guardsmen, to the manners and customs which
should rule in the king’s garth, and to the ethical ideas on which these
were largely based are of great interest to the student of medieval
culture. They reveal a progress in the direction of refined life and
polished manners, which one should scarcely expect to find in the
Northern lands. The development of courtesy and refined manners may have
been accelerated by the new literature which was coming into Scandinavia
from France and Germany, a literature that dealt so largely with the
doings of knights and kings;[62] but it was probably not so much a
matter of bookish instruction as of direct imitation. The Northmen,
though they lived far from the great centers of culture, were always in
close touch with the rest of the world. In the earlier centuries the
viking sailed his dreaded craft wherever there was wealth and plunder
and civilized life. After him and often as his companion came the
merchant who brought away new ideas along with other desirable wares.
After a time Christianity was introduced from the southlands, and the
pilgrim and the crusader took the place of the heathen pirate. And all
these classes helped to reshape the life of courtesy in the Northern

Footnote 62:

  See above, pp. 2–3.

It is difficult to overestimate the influence of the crusader as a
pioneer of Christian culture in Scandinavia, but it seems possible that
the pilgrim was even more important in this respect. It was no doubt
largely through his journeys that German influences began to be felt in
the Scandinavian lands, though it is possible that the wide activities
of the Hanseatic merchants should also be credited with some importance
for the spread of Teutonic culture. It is told in the _King’s Mirror_
that a new mode of dressing the hair and the beard had been introduced
from Germany since the author had retired from the royal court.[63] It
is significant that the routes usually followed by Norwegian pilgrims
who sought the Eternal City and the holy places in the Orient ran
through German lands. As a rule the pilgrims traveled through Jutland,
Holstein, and the Old Saxon territories and reached the Rhine at Mainz.
It was also possible to take a more easterly route, and sometimes the
travelers would go by sea to the Low Countries and thence southward past
Utrecht and Cologne; but all these three routes converged at Mainz,
whence the journey led up the Rhine and across the Alps. It will be
noted that a long stretch of the journey from Norway to Rome would lead
through the German kingdom. Concerning the people of the Old Saxon or
German lands an Icelandic scribe makes the following significant remark:
“In that country the people are more polished and courteous than in most
places and the Northmen imitate their customs quite generally.”[64]

Footnote 63:

  C. xxx.

Footnote 64:

  Nikolas Sæmundarson, abbot of Thingeyrar, who made a journey to the
  Holy Land about 1151, wrote an itinerary for the use of pilgrims from
  which the above quotation is taken. The itinerary is summarized in
  Riant, _Expéditions et Pèlerinages des Scandinaves en Terre Sainte_,

The cultural influences which followed in the wake of the returning
crusaders were no doubt largely of Frankish origin. As a rule the
crusading expeditions followed the sea route along the coasts of France
and the Spanish peninsula; thus the Northern warriors came in contact
with French ideas and customs in the Frankish homeland as well as in the
Christian armies, which were largely made up of enthusiastic and
venturesome knights from Frankland. The author of the _King’s Mirror_
urges his son to learn Latin and French, “for these idioms are most
widely used.”[65]

Footnote 65:

  C. iii. It is likely that English culture found its way into the North
  along with the French. When King Sigurd sailed to the Orient in 1107,
  he spent the winter of 1107-1108 at the English court.

One of the reasons why the son wishes to master the mercantile
profession is that he desires to travel and learn the customs of other
lands.[66] In the thirteenth century the Norwegian trade still seems to
have been largely with England and the other parts of the British Isles.
It is also important to remember that the Norwegian church was a
daughter of the church of England, and that occasionally English
churchmen were elevated to high office in the Norwegian establishment.
It is likely that Master William, who was Hakon IV’s chaplain, was an
Englishman; at least he bore an English name.[67]

Footnote 66:

  C. iii.

Footnote 67:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 228.

Information as to foreign civilization and the rules of courteous
behavior could also pass from land to land and from court to court with
the diplomatic missions of the time. The wise father states that envoys
who come and go are careful to observe the manners that obtain at the
courts to which they are sent.[68] Frequent embassies must have passed
between the capitals of England and Norway in the thirteenth century. It
is recorded that both King John and his son Henry III received envoys
from the king of Norway, and that they brought very acceptable gifts,
such as hawks and elks,[69] especially the former: in twelve different
years Hakon IV sent hawks to the English king.[70]

Footnote 68:

  C. xxix.

Footnote 69:

  _Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum_, I, 382, 506, 509.

Footnote 70:

  Olafsen, “Falkefangsten i Norge”: _Historisk Tidsskrift_, Femte Række,
  III, 351.

Embassies also came quite frequently from the imperial court in Germany.
It was during the reign of Hakon IV that the Hohenstaufens were waging
their last fight with the papacy, and both sides in the conflict seemed
anxious to secure the friendship of the great Norwegian king. The Saga
of Hakon relates that early in the king’s reign “missions began between
the emperor and King Hakon.”[71] In 1241, “when King Hakon came to the
King’s Crag, that man came to him whose name was Matthew, sent from the
emperor Frederick with many noble gifts. Along with him came from abroad
five Bluemen (negroes).”[72] Just how acceptable such a gift would be in
medieval Norway the chronicler does not state. There can be no doubt,
however, that Hakon returned the courtesy. The saga mentions several men
who were sent on diplomatic errands to the imperial court. One of these
emissaries had to go as far as Sicily, “and the emperor received him

Footnote 71:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 191.

Footnote 72:

  _Ibid._, c. 243.

Footnote 73:

  _Ibid._, c. 191.

The relationship with the other Scandinavian kingdoms was more direct.
The _King’s Mirror_ states that occasionally kings find it necessary to
meet in conference for the discussion of common problems; and that on
such occasions the members of the various retinues note carefully the
customs and manners of the other groups.[74] These meetings were usually
held at some point near the mouth of the Göta River, where the
boundaries of the three kingdoms touched a common point. In 1254 such a
meeting was held at which Hakon of Norway, Christopher of Denmark, and
the great Earl Birger of Sweden were in attendance with their respective

Footnote 74:

  C. xxix.

Footnote 75:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 281.

The kings of the North were not limited, however, in their diplomatic
intercourse to the neighboring monarchies; their ambassadors went out to
the remotest parts of Europe and even to Africa. Valdemar the
Victorious, in his day one of the greatest rulers in Christendom,
married as his first wife Dragomir, a Bohemian princess who brought the
Dagmar name into Denmark, and took as his second consort Berengaria of
Portugal, Queen Bengjerd, whose lofty pride is enshrined in the Danish
ballads of the age. Hakon IV married the daughter of his restless rival,
Duke Skule; but his daughter Christina was sought in marriage by a
prince in far-away Spain. The luckless princess was sent to Castile and
was married at Valladolid to a son of Alfonso the Wise.[76] Louis IX of
France was anxious to enlist the support of the Norwegian king for his
crusading ventures and sent the noted English historian Matthew Paris to
present the matter to King Hakon.[77] The mission, however, was without
results. Norwegian diplomacy was concerned even with the courts of the
infidel: in 1262 an embassy was sent to the Mohammedan sultan of Tunis
“with many falcons and those other things which were there hard to get.
And when they got out the Soldan received them well, and they stayed
there long that winter.”[78]

Footnote 76:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 294.

Footnote 77:

  Matthew Paris, _Chronica Majora_, IV, 651-652.

Footnote 78:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 313.

An important event of the diplomatic type was the coming of Cardinal
William of Sabina as papal legate to crown King Hakon. The coronation
ceremony was performed in Bergen, July 29, 1247. At the coronation
banquet the cardinal made a speech in which, as the Saga of Hakon
reports his remarks, he called particular attention to the polished
manners of the Northmen. “It was told me that I would here see few men;
but even though I saw some, they would be liker to beasts in their
behaviour than to men; but now I see here a countless multitude of the
folk of this land, and, as it seems to me, with good behaviour.”[79] If
the _King’s Mirror_ gives a correct statement of what was counted good
manners and proper conduct at the court of Hakon IV, the cardinal’s
praise is none too strong.

Footnote 79:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 255. (Dasent’s translation.)

As a part of his discussion of the duties and activities of the king’s
henchmen, the author describes the military methods of the age, arms and
armour, military engines and devices used in offensive and defensive
warfare, and other necessary equipment.[80] He also discusses the ethics
of the military profession to some extent. This part of the work has
been made the subject of a detailed study by Captain Otto Blom of the
Danish artillery, who has tried to fix a date for the composition of the
_King’s Mirror_ on the basis of these materials.[81] It is not likely,
however, that the work describes the military art of the North; such an
elaborate system of equipment and such a variety of military engines and
devices the Norwegians probably never knew at any time in the middle
ages. It is the military art of Europe which the author describes,
especially the war machinery of the crusades. One should not be
surprised to find that he had knowledge of the devices which were
employed by the Christian hosts in their warfare against the infidel in
the Orient. The crusades attracted the Norwegian warriors and they took
a part in them almost from the beginning. The fifth crusade began in
1217, the year of Hakon IV’s accession to the kingship. Several
Norwegian chiefs with their followers joined this movement, some
marching by land through Germany and Hungary, while others took the sea
route. One is tempted to believe that the author was himself a crusader,
but it is also possible that he got his information as to the military
art of the south and east from warriors who returned from those lands.

Footnote 80:

  Cc. xxxviii-xxxix.

Footnote 81:

  See below, pp. 62–63.

From the subject of proper behavior and good breeding the author passes
to a discussion of evil conduct and its effect on the welfare of the
kingdom. Many causes, he tells us, may combine to bring calamities upon
a land, and if the evils continue any length of time, the realm will be
ruined.[82] There may come dearth upon the fields and the fishing
grounds near the shores; plagues may carry away cattle, and the huntsman
may find a scarcity of game; but worst of all is the dearth which
sometimes comes upon the intellects and the moral nature of men. As a
prolific source of calamities of the last sort, the author mentions the
institution of joint kingship, the evils of which he discusses at some
length. His chapter on this subject is an epitome of Norwegian history
in the twelfth century when joint kingship was the rule.

Footnote 82:

  C. xxxv.

According to the laws of medieval Norway before the thirteenth century,
the national kingship was the king’s allodial possession and was
inherited by his sons at his death. All his sons were legal heirs, those
of illegitimate birth as well as those who were born in wedlock. When
there was more than one heir, the kingship was held jointly, all the
claimants receiving the royal title and permission to maintain each his
own household. Usually a part of the realm was assigned to each; but it
was the administration, and not the kingdom itself, which was thus
divided. It is readily seen that such a system would offer unusual
opportunities for pretenders; and at least three times in one hundred
years men whose princely rights were at best of a doubtful character
mounted the Norwegian throne. It is an interesting fact that two of
these, the strenuous Sverre and the wise Hakon IV, must be counted among
the strongest, ablest, and most attractive kings in the history of

Though there had been instances of joint rule before the twelfth
century, the history of that unfortunate form of administration properly
begins with the death of Magnus Bareleg on an Irish battlefield in 1103.
Three illegitimate sons, the oldest being only fourteen years of age,
succeeded to the royal title. One of these was the famous Sigurd
Jerusalemfarer, who took part in the later stages of the first crusade.
About twenty years after King Magnus’ death, a young Irishman, Harold
Gilchrist by name, appeared at the Norwegian court and claimed royal
rights as a son of the fallen king. King Sigurd forced him to prove his
birthright by an appeal to the ordeal, but the Irishman walked unhurt
over the hot plowshares. Harold became king in 1130 as joint ruler with
Sigurd’s son Magnus, later called “the Blind.”[83] Three of his sons
succeeded to the kingship in 1136. During the next century several
pretenders appeared and civil war became almost the normal state of the
country. Between 1103 and 1217 fifteen princes were honored with the
royal title; eleven of these were minors. The period closed with the
defeat and death of King Hakon’s father-in-law, the pretender Skule, in

Footnote 83:

  The strife that followed the accession of Harold Gille and Magnus the
  Blind is the subject of Björnson’s great historical drama, Sigurd
  Slembe (English translation by William Morton Payne).

It was the history of these hundred years and more of joint kingship, of
pretenders, of minorities, and of civil war, which the author of the
_King’s Mirror_ had in mind when he wrote his gloomy chapter on the
calamities that may befall a state. Perhaps he was thinking more
especially of the unnatural conflict between King Hakon and Duke
Skule,[84] which was fought out in 1240, and the memory of which was
still fresh at the time when the _King’s Mirror_ was being written.

Footnote 84:

  See below, p. 48.

Of the king and his duties as ruler and judge the _Speculum Regale_ has
much to say; but as these matters offer no problems that call for
discussion, it will not be necessary to examine them in detail. Wholly
different is the case of the king’s relation to the church, of the
position of the church in the state, of the divine origin of kingship,
of the fulness of the royal authority. On these questions the author’s
opinions and arguments are of great importance: in the history of the
theory of kingship by the grace of God and divine right and of absolute
monarchy, the _Speculum Regale_ is an important landmark.

In the discussion of the origin and powers of the royal office, the
_King’s Mirror_ again shows unmistakably the influence of events in the
preceding century of Norwegian history. So long as the church of Norway
was under the supervision of foreign archbishops, first the metropolitan
of distant Hamburg and later the archbishop of the Danish (now Swedish)
see of Lund, there was little likelihood of any serious clash between
the rival powers of church and state. But when, in 1152, an
archiepiscopal see was established at Nidaros (Trondhjem) trouble broke
out at once. The wave of enthusiasm for a powerful and independent
church, which had developed such vigor in the days of Gregory VII, was
still rising high. Able men were appointed to the new metropolitan
office and the Norwegian church very soon put forth the usual demands of
the time: separate ecclesiastical courts and immunity from anything that
looked like taxation or forced contribution to the state. At first these
claims had no reality in fact, as the kings would not allow them; but in
1163[85] an opportunity came for the church to make its demands
effective. In that year a victorious faction asked for the coronation of
a new king whose claims to the throne came through his mother only. The
pretender was a mere child and the actual power was in the hands of his
capable and ambitious father, Erling Skakke. The imperious archbishop
Eystein agreed to consecrate the boy king if he would consent to become
the vassal of Saint Olaf, or, in other words, of the archbishop of
Nidaros. Erling acquiesced and young Magnus was duly crowned. It was
further stipulated that in future cases of disputed succession the final
decision should rest with the bishops.[86] The state was formally made
subject to the church. It must be noted, however, that it was not the
head of Catholic Christendom who made these claims, but the chief
prelate of the national Norwegian church. The theory was doubtless this,
that if the pope is superior to the emperor, the archbishop is superior
to the king.

Footnote 85:

  The date usually given is 1164; but Ebbe Hertzberg argues quite
  conclusively for the earlier year. “Den förste norske Kongekroning”;
  _Historisk Tidsskrift_, Fjerde Række, III, 30-37.

Footnote 86:

  According to the new rules of succession the oldest legitimate son, if
  qualified for the office, should inherit the throne. The oldest might
  be passed over, however, in favor of a younger legitimate son, or even
  in favor of an illegitimate descendant, if the bishops should find
  such a procedure expedient. See Gjerset, _History of the Norwegian
  People_, I, 364.

The new arrangement did not long remain unchallenged. In 1177 the
opposition to the ecclesiastical faction found a leader in Sverre,
called Sigurdsson, an adventurer from the Faroe Islands, who pretended
to be a grandson of Harold Gilchrist, though the probabilities are that
his father was one Unas, a native of the Faroes.[87] Sverre’s followers
were known as Birchshanks, because they had been reduced to such straits
that they had to bind birch bark around their legs. The faction in
control of the government was called the Croziermen and was composed of
the higher clergy with an important following among the aristocracy.
Sverre’s fight was, therefore, not against King Magnus alone but against
the Guelph party of Norway. For half a century there was intermittent
civil warfare between the supporters of an independent and vigorous
kingship on the one side and the partisans of clerical control on the
other. King Sverre’s great service to Norway was that he broke the chain
of ecclesiastical domination. The conflict was long and bitter and the
great king died while it was still on; but when it ended the cause of
the Croziermen was lost. The church attained to great power in the
Norwegian state, but it never gained complete domination.

Footnote 87:

  While it seems probable that Sverre was not of royal blood he was not
  necessarily an impostor; he may have believed his mother’s assertions.
  For a discussion of the problem see _ibid._, 376-377.

Sverre was a man of great intellectual strength; he was a born leader of
men, a capable warrior, and a resourceful captain. When it began to look
as if victory would crown his efforts, the archbishop fled to England
and from his refuge in Saint Edmundsbury excommunicated the king. But
exile is irksome to an ambitious man, and after a time the fiery prelate
returned to Norway and was reconciled to the strenuous ruler. Eystein’s
successor, however, took up the fight once more; and when Sverre made
Norway too uncomfortable for him, he fled to Denmark and excommunicated
his royal opponent. A few years later, Innocent III, who had just
ascended the papal throne, also excommunicated Sverre, and threatened
the kingdom with an interdict.[88] But the papal weapons had little
effect in the far North; the king forced priests and prelates to remain
loyal and to continue in their duties. No doubt they obeyed the
excommunicated ruler with great reluctance and much misgiving; but no
other course was possible, for the nation was with the king.

Footnote 88:

  It is usually stated that Innocent III actually did lay an interdict
  on the land, but this appears to be an error. He authorized the
  bishops to do so, but they seem not to have made use of the
  authorization. See Bull, “Interdiktet mot Sverre”: _Historisk
  Tidsskrift_, Femte Række, III, 321-324.

The militant Faroese was a man with strong literary interests; he was
educated for the priesthood and it is believed that he had actually
taken orders. He was eloquent in speech, but he realized the power of
the written as well as of the spoken word. It is a fact worth noting
that among the Northmen of the thirteenth century learning was not
confined to the clergy. While the author of the _King’s Mirror_ urges
the prospective merchant to learn Latin and French, he also warns him
not to neglect his mother tongue. King Sverre replied to the
ecclesiastical decrees with a manifesto in the Norwegian language in
which he stated his position and his claims for the royal office. This
pamphlet, which is commonly known as “An Address against the Bishops,”
was issued about 1199 and was sent to all the shire courts to be read to
the freemen. It was a cleverly written document and seems to have been
very effective. In spite of the fact that the king was under the ban,
the masses remained loyal.

Between the political theory of the _Address_ and the ideas of kingship
expressed in the _King’s Mirror_ there is an agreement which can hardly
be accidental. It is more likely that we have in this case literary
kinship of the first degree. It has been thought that King Sverre may
have prepared his manifesto himself, but this is scarcely probable. Some
one of his court, however, must have composed it, perhaps some clerk in
the royal scriptorium, for the ideas developed in the document are
clearly those of the king. It has also been suggested that the _Address_
and the _Speculum Regale_ may have been written by the same hand;[89]
but the only evidence in support of such a conclusion is this agreement
of political ideas, which may have originated in a careful study of the
earlier document by the author of the later work.

Footnote 89:

  This appears to be Heffermehl’s opinion. See _Historiske Skrifter
  tilegnede Ludvig Daae_, 87.

King Sverre’s _Address_ begins with a violent attack on the higher
clergy: the bishops have brought sorrow upon the land and confusion into
holy church. This deplorable condition is ascribed chiefly to a reckless
use of the power of excommunication. In this connection the king is
careful to absolve the pope from all guilt: his unfortunate deeds were
due to ignorance and to false representations on the part of the
bishops. It is next argued that excommunication is valid only when the
sentence of anathema is just; an unjust sentence is not only invalid but
it recoils upon the head of him who is the author of the anathema. In
support of this contention the author of the manifesto quotes the
opinions of such eminent fathers as Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine, Pope
Gregory the Great, and other authorities on canon law. It will be
remembered that the king himself was under the ban at the time. The
author argues further that his view is supported by reason as well as by
the law of the church. Bishops have been appointed shepherds of the
flocks of God; they are to watch over them, not drive them away into the
jaws of the wolves. But if a bishop excommunicates one who is without
guilt, he consigns him to hell; and if his decree is effective, he
destroys one of God’s sheep.

From this subject the _Address_ passes to the nature of the royal
office. “So great a number of examples show clearly that the salvation
of a man’s soul is at stake if he does not observe complete loyalty,
kingly worship, and a right obedience; for kingly rule is created by
God’s command and not by the ordinance of man, and no man can obtain
royal authority except by divine dispensation.” The king is not a
secular ruler only, he also has holy church in his power and keeping. It
is his right and duty to appoint church officials, and the churchmen owe
him absolute loyalty the same as his other subjects. Christ pointed out
the duty of church officials quite clearly when he paid tribute to his
earthly ruler, one who was, moreover, a heathen.[90]

Footnote 90:

  The _Address_ is published as an appendix to the Christiania edition
  of the _King’s Mirror_. It has also been issued in separate form under
  the title _En Tale mod Biskopperne_; this edition is by Gustav Storm.

It will be seen that the _Address_ puts forth four claims of
far-reaching importance: kingship is of divine origin and the king rules
by the grace of God; the power of royalty extends to the church as well
as to the state and includes the power to appoint the rulers of the
church; disloyalty to the king is a mortal sin; an unjust sentence of
excommunication is invalid and injures him only who publishes the
anathema. On all these points the _King’s Mirror_ is in complete
agreement with Sverre’s manifesto.

In the course of the dialog in the _Speculum Regale_ the son requests
his father to take up and discuss the office and business of the king;
for, says he, “he is so highly honored and exalted upon earth that all
must bend and bow before him as before God.”[91] The father accounts for
the power and dignity of kingship in this way: men bow before the king
as before God, because he represents the exalted authority of God; he
bears God’s own name and occupies the highest judgment seat upon earth;
consequently, when one honors a king, it is as if he honors God himself,
because of the title that he has from God.[92]

Footnote 91:

  C. xliii.

Footnote 92:

  C. xliii.

The author evidently realizes that statements of this sort will not be
accepted without further argument, and he naturally proceeds to give his
doctrine a basis in Biblical history. The reverence due kingship is
fully illustrated with episodes in the career of David. So long as God
permitted King Saul to live, David would do nothing to deprive him of
his office; for Saul was also the Lord’s anointed. He took swift revenge
upon the man who came to his camp pretending that he had slain Saul; for
he had sinned against God in bearing arms against His anointed. He also
calls attention to Saint Peter’s injunction: “Fear God and honor your
king;” and adds that it is “almost as if he had literally said that he
who does not show perfect honor to the king does not fear God.”[93]

Footnote 93:

  C. xliv.

To emphasize his contention that kingship is of divine origin, the
author cites the example of Christ. The miracle of the fish in whose
mouth the tribute money was found is referred to in the _Address_ as
well as in the _King’s Mirror_. Peter was to examine the first fish, not
the second or the third. In the same way, and here the argument is
characteristically medieval, “every man should in all things first honor
the king and the royal dignity; for God Himself calls the king His

Footnote 94:


But, objects the son, how could Christ who is himself the lord of heaven
and earth be willing to submit to an earthly authority? To this the
father replies that Christ came to earth as a guest and did not wish to
deprive the divine institution of kingship of any honor or dignity.[95]
The author evidently deems it important to establish this contention;
for if Christ submitted to Caesar as to a rightful authority, the church
in opposing secular rulers could scarcely claim to be following in the
footsteps of the Master.

Footnote 95:

  C. xliv.

It seems to be a safe conclusion that the doctrine of the divine
character of kingship as developed in the _King’s Mirror_ is derived
from King Sverre’s _Address_, unless it should be that the two have
drawn from a common source. There is nothing novel about Sverre’s ideas
except the form in which they are stated; fundamentally they are a
return to the original Norwegian theory of kingship. The Norwegian kings
of heathen times were descendants of divine ancestors. They recognized
the will of the popular assemblies as a real limitation on their own
powers, but no religious authority could claim superiority to the ruler.
The king was indeed himself a priest, a mediator between the gods and
men. The Christian kings for a century and a half had controlled the
church in a very real manner; they had appointed bishops and had also on
occasion removed them. The claim of the archbishop to overlordship was
therefore distinctly an innovation. The king makes use of arguments from
the Bible to support his theory, not because it was based on Scriptural
truths, but because to a Christian people these would prove the most

In his statement of the fulness and majesty of the royal power, the
author of the _Speculum Regale_ goes, however, far beyond the author of
the _Address_. So complete is the king’s power, “that he may dispose as
he likes of the lives of all who live in his kingdom.”[96] He “owns the
entire kingdom as well as all the people in it, so that all the men who
are in his kingdom owe him service whenever his needs demand it.”[97]
These sentences would indicate that the author’s position lies close to
the verge of absolutism. But Norwegian kingship was anything but
absolute; the king had certain well-defined rights, but the people also
had some part in the government. Professor Ludvig Daae has put forth the
hypothesis that the author of the _King’s Mirror_ was acquainted with
the governmental system of Frederick II in his Italian kingdom, which he
governed as an absolute monarch.[98] There may be some truth in this for
there is no doubt that the character of Frederick’s government was known
to the Northmen; but it is also possible that the theory of absolute
monarchy had a separate Norse origin, that the insistence on divine
right in the long fight with the church had driven the partisans of
monarchy far forward along the highway that led to practical absolutism.
Less than a generation after the _King’s Mirror_ was composed, the newer
ideas of kingship appear in the legislation of Magnus Lawmender. Kings
have received their authority from God, for “God Himself deigns to call
Himself by their name;” and the preamble continues: “he is, indeed, in
great danger before God, who does not with perfect love and reverence
uphold them in the authority to which God has appointed them.”[99] This
is the doctrine of the _Address_ as well as of the _Speculum_; the
significant fact is that the principle has now been introduced into the
constitution of the monarchy. It is possible that the author of the
_King’s Mirror_ states an alien principle; but it is more probable that
he merely gives form to a belief that had been growing among Northmen
for some time.

Footnote 96:

  C. xliii.

Footnote 97:

  C. xxviii.

Footnote 98:

  “Studier angaaende Kongespeilet”: _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_,
  1896, 189.

Footnote 99:

  _Norges gamle Love_, II. 23; Gjerset, _History of the Norwegian
  People_, I, 463.

On the question of the validity of excommunication the teachings of the
_Speculum Regale_ are in perfect accord with those of the _Address_. The
uncompromising position and methods of Innocent III had given point to
an exceedingly practical question: was a Christian permitted to obey a
king who was under the ban of the church? Generally the church held that
obedience under the circumstances would be sinful. The author of the
_Speculum_ distinguishes closely, however, between just and unjust
sentences of excommunication. God has established two houses upon earth,
the house of the altar and the house of the judgment seat.[100] There
is, therefore, a legitimate sphere of action for the bishop as well as
for the king. But an act is not necessarily righteous because it
emanates from high authority either in the church or in the state. If
the king pronounces an unjust judgment, his act is murder; if a bishop
excommunicates a Christian without proper reasons, the ban is of no
effect, except that it reacts upon the offending prelate himself.[101]

Footnote 100:

  C. lxix.

Footnote 101:

  C. lxx.

After the author has thus denied the right of the church to use the
sword of excommunication in certain cases, there remains the question:
has the king any superior authority over the church? The answer is that
the king has such authority; and the author fortifies his position by
recalling the story how Solomon punished Abiathar the high priest, or
bishop as he is called in the _King’s Mirror_. In reply to the young
man’s inquiry whether Solomon did right when he deprived Abiathar of the
high-priestly office, the father affirms that the king acted properly
and according to law. The king is given a two-edged sword for the reason
that he must guard, not only his own house of judgment, but also the
house of the altar, which is ordinarily in the bishop’s keeping.
Abiathar had sinned in becoming a party to the treasonable intrigues of
Adonijah, who was plotting to seize the throne of Israel while his
father David was still living. Inasmuch as the high priest had attempted
to deprive the Lord’s anointed of his royal rights, Solomon would have
been guiltless even if he had taken Abiathar’s life. The author also
calls attention to the fact that Abiathar was elevated to the
high-priestly office by David himself.[102]

Footnote 102:

  C. lxx.

On the question of the king’s right to control episcopal appointments
the _King’s Mirror_ is also in agreement with the earlier _Address_. On
the death of Archbishop John, the _Address_ tells us, “Inge appointed
Eystein, his own chaplain, to the archiepiscopal office[103] ... without
consulting any cleric in Trondhjem, either the canons or any one else;
and he drove Bishop Paul from the episcopal throne in Bergen and chose
Nicholas Petersson to be his successor.” Doubtless the philosopher of
the _King’s Mirror_, when he wrote of the fall of Abiathar, was also
thinking of the many Abiathars of Norwegian history in the twelfth
century, especially, perhaps, of the bishops of Sverre’s reign, who had
striven so valiantly to rid the nation of its energetic king. There can
be no doubt, however, that he regarded the hierarchy as inferior to the
secular government. A bishop, who unrighteously excommunicates a
Norwegian king and attempts in this way to render him impossible as a
ruler, forfeits not only his office but his life.

Footnote 103:

  Archbishop Eystein was consecrated in 1161.

There was another problem in the middle ages which also involved the
question of ecclesiastical authority as opposed to secular jurisdiction,
the right of sanctuary. There can be no doubt that in the unsettled
state of medieval society it was well that there were places where an
accused might find security for a time at least; but the right of
sanctuary was much abused, too frequently it served to shield the
guilty. The _King’s Mirror_ teaches unequivocally that the right of
sanctuary cannot be invoked against the orders of the king. As usual the
author finds support for his position in the Scriptures. Joab fled to
God’s tabernacle and laid hold on the horns of the altar; nevertheless,
King Solomon ordered him to be slain, and the command was carried
out.[104] Solomon appears to have reasoned in this wise: “It is my duty
to carry out the provisions of the sacred law, no matter where the man
happens to be whose case is to be determined.” It was not his duty to
remove Joab by force, for all just decisions are God’s decisions and not
the king’s; and “God’s holy altar will not be defiled or desecrated by
Joab’s blood, for it will be shed in righteous punishment.”[105] And the
author is careful to emphasize the fact that God’s tabernacle was the
only house in all the world that was dedicated to Him, and must
consequently have had an even greater claim to sacredness than the
churches of the author’s own day, of which there was a vast number.[106]

Footnote 104:

  C. lxvi.

Footnote 105:

  C. lxix.

Footnote 106:

  C. lxvii.

There was a Norwegian Joab in the first half of the thirteenth century,
who, like the chieftain of old, plotted against his rightful monarch and
was finally slain within the sacred precincts of an Augustinian convent.
Skule, King Hakon’s father-in-law, was a man of restless ambition, who
could not find complete satisfaction in the titles of earl and duke, but
stretched forth his hand to seize the crown itself. In 1239 he assumed
the royal title, but a few months later (1240) his forces were surprised
in Nidaros by the king’s army, and the rebellion came to a sudden end.
Skule’s men fled to the churches; his son Peter found refuge in one of
the buildings belonging to the monastery of Elgesæter, but was
discovered and slain. After a few days Duke Skule himself sought
security in the same monastery; but the angry Birchshanks, in spite of
the solemn warnings and threatenings of the offended monks, slew the
pretender and burned the monastery.[107] This was an act of violence
which must have caused much trouble for the king’s partisans, and it is
most likely the act which the author of the _King’s Mirror_ had in his
thoughts when he wrote of the fate of Joab.

Footnote 107:

  _Hákonar Saga_, cc. 239-241; Munch, _Det norske Folks Historie_, III,

Writers on political philosophy usually begin their specific discussion
of the theory of divine right of kingship when they come to the great
political theorists of the fourteenth century.[108] The most famous of
these is Marsiglio of Padua, who wrote his _Defensor Pacis_ in 1324. In
this work he asserted that the emperor derived his title and sovereignty
from God and that his authority was superior to that of the pope. Some
years earlier William Occam, an English scholar and philosopher, made
similar claims for the rights of the king of France. Earlier still,
perhaps in 1310, Dante had claimed divine right for princes generally in
his famous work _De Monarchia_. Somewhat similar, though less precise,
ideas had been expressed by John of Paris in 1305. But nearly two
generations earlier the doctrine had been stated in all its baldness and
with all its implications by the author of the _King’s Mirror_; and more
than a century before Dante wrote his work on “Monarchy” Sverre had
published his _Address_ to the Norwegian people. So far as the writer
has been able to determine there is no treatise on general medieval
politics, at least no such treatise written in English, which contains
even an allusion to these two significant works.

Footnote 108:

  On this subject, see Figgis, _Divine Right of Kings_, c. iii.

The ethical ideas that are outlined in the _Speculum Regale_ are also of
more than common interest. On most points the learned father preaches
the conventional principles of the church with respect to right and
wrong conduct, and as a rule his precepts are such as have stood the
test of ages of experience. He emphasizes honesty, fair dealing, careful
attendance upon worship, and devotion to the church; he warns his son to
shun vice of every sort; he must also avoid gambling and drinking to
excess.[109] In some respects the author’s moral code is Scandinavian
rather than Christian: in the emphasis that he places upon reputation
and the regard in which one is held by one’s neighbors he seems to echo
the sentiment that runs through the earlier Eddic poetry, especially the
“Song of the High One.” “One thing I know that always remains,” says
Woden, “judgment passed on the dead.”[110] And the Christian scribe more
than three centuries later writes thus of one who has departed this
life: “But if he lived uprightly while on earth and made proper
provision for his soul before he died, then you may take comfort in the
good repute that lives after him, and even more in the blissful
happiness which you believe he will enjoy with God in the other
world.”[111] And again he says: “Now you will appreciate what I told you
earlier in our conversation, namely that much depends on the example
that a man leaves after him.”[112]

Footnote 109:

  Cc. iii-iv, xxxvii.

Footnote 110:

  C. xli.

Footnote 111:

  _Hávamál_, 40: _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_, I, 8.

Footnote 112:

  C. xlii.

The author is also Norse in his emphasis on moderation in every form of
indulgence, on the control of one’s passion, and in permitting private
revenge. His attitude toward this present world is not medieval: we may
enjoy the good things of creation, though not to excess. On the matter
of revenge, however, his ideas are characteristically medieval. Private
warfare was allowed almost everywhere in the middle ages, and it appears
to have a place in the political system of the _Speculum Regale_. But on
this point too the author urges moderation. “When you hear things in the
speech of other men which offend you much, be sure to investigate with
reasonable care whether the tales be true or false; but if they prove to
be true and it is proper for you to seek revenge, take it with reason
and moderation and never when heated or irritated.”[113]

Footnote 113:

  C. xli.

The theology of the _King’s Mirror_, as far as it can be discerned, is
also medieval, though it is remarkable that the Virgin and the saints
find only incidental mention in the work. No doubt if the author had
been able to complete his treatise as outlined in his introduction, he
would have discussed the forms and institutions of the church at greater
length and we should be able to know to what extent his theological
notions were in agreement with the religious thought of the age.

In this connection his theory of penance and punishment for crime is of
peculiar interest. He makes considerable use of Biblical narratives to
illustrate his teachings and refers at length to some of the less worthy
characters of Holy Writ, including certain men who suffered death for
criminal offenses. Almost invariably he justifies the punishment by
arguing that it was better for the criminal to suffer a swift punishment
in death than to suffer eternally in hell. Apparently his theory is that
a criminal can cleanse himself in his own blood, that a temporal death
can save him from eternal punishment. The idolaters who were slain by
Moses and the Levites[114] “were cleansed in their penance and in the
pangs which they suffered when they died; and it was much better for
them to suffer a brief pain in death than a long torture in hell.” The
sacramental efficiency of the death penalty seems also to extend to the
one who executes punishment: for those who assisted Moses in the
slaughter sanctified their hands in the blood of those who were slain.
In the same way “a king cleanses himself in the blood of the unjust, if
he slays them as a rightful punishment to fulfil the sacred laws.”[115]

Footnote 114:

  Exodus, xxxii.

Footnote 115:

  C. lxi.

There can be little doubt that this doctrine of the death penalty also
shows the influence of the great civil conflict which ended with the
death of Duke Skule in 1240. During a century of factional warfare there
had been much violence, much slaughter, much “swift punishment.” Applied
to Norwegian history the author’s argument amounts to a justification of
the slaughter at Elgesæter; for Skule and his partisans had rebelled
against the Lord’s anointed. The hands of the Birchshanks were cleansed
and sanctified in the blood of the rebels; but the author also has this
comforting assurance for the kinsmen of the fallen, that their souls
were not lost: Skule and his companions were cleansed from their sins in
the last great penance of death.

It may also be that this same long record of violence, treason, and
rebellion was responsible for the prominence that the _King’s Mirror_
gives to the duty of obedience. In the political ethics of the work
obedience is the chief virtue and the central principle. Conversely
disobedience is the greatest of all sins. When Saul spared the
Amalekites, whom the Lord had ordered him to destroy, he sinned far more
grievously than did David when he dishonored Uriah’s wife and afterward
brought about Uriah’s death; for Saul neglected to carry out the
commands of God, and “no offense is graver than to be disobedient toward
one’s superiors.”[116]

Footnote 116:

  C. lxiii.

The _King’s Mirror_ is a medieval document; it was in large part
inspired by the course of events in Norway during the century of the
civil wars; it records the scientific and political thought of a certain
definite period in Norwegian history. But even though the author of the
work must be classed among the thinkers of his own time, his place is
far in advance of most of his fellows. His outlook on the world is
broader than that of most medieval writers. In matters of science he is
less credulous and less bound by theological thought than others who
wrote on these subjects in his own century or earlier. On such questions
as the cause of earthquakes and the source of the northern lights he
shows an open-mindedness, which is rarely met with in the middle
ages.[117] For the author’s view of life was not wholly medieval; on
many subjects we find him giving utterance to thoughts which have a
distinctly modern appearance. His theory of the state and its functions
is distinctly unorthodox. But it is probably in the field of education
where the great Northman is farthest in advance of his time. In his day
the work of instruction was still in the hands of the church; and the
churchmen showed no great anxiety to educate men except for the clerical
profession. The _King’s Mirror_, however, teaches that merchants must
also be educated: they must learn the art of reckoning and those facts
of science that are of interest to navigators; they must study
languages, Latin, French, and Norwegian; and they must become thoroughly
acquainted with the laws of the land. But the author does not stop here:
a merchant should also educate his children. “If children be given to
you, let them not grow up without learning a trade; for we may expect a
man to keep closer to knowledge and business when he comes of age, if he
is trained in youth while under control.”[118]

Footnote 117:

  See Larson, “Scientific Knowledge in the North in the Thirteenth
  Century”: _Publications of the Society for the Advancement of
  Scandinavian Study_, I, 141-146.

Footnote 118:

  C. iv.

The identity of the author of the _Speculum Regale_ has never been
disclosed. Anonymous authorship was not uncommon in medieval Norse
literature: many of the sagas were written by men whose names are not
known. In the thirteenth century, however, it had become customary for
writers to claim the honors of authorship. Our philosopher of the
_King’s Mirror_ clearly understood that his readers would be curious to
know his name: if the book, he tells us in his introductory chapter, has
any merit, that should satisfy the reader, and there is no reason why
any one should wish to search out the name of the one who wrote it.[119]
Evidently he had a purpose in concealing his identity, and the motive is
not far to seek.

Footnote 119:

  C. i.

After the death of King Sverre (1202) the conflict between the king and
the hierarchy ceased for a time. The church made peace with the
monarchy; the exiled bishops returned; and the faction of the Croziermen
disintegrated. After a few years, however, the old quarrels broke out
anew. On the accession of Hakon IV the church yielded once more, though
the prelates did not renounce their earlier claims. In 1245, when plans
were being made for King Hakon’s coronation, the bishops put forth the
suggestion that the king should, on that occasion, renew the agreement
of 1163, which gave the bishops control of the succession. But the great
king refused. “If we swear such an oath as King Magnus swore, then it
seems to us as though our honor would be lessened by it rather than
increased.”[120] He flatly asserted that he would be crowned without any
conditions attached to the act, or the crown “shall never come upon our

Footnote 120:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 247.

After the arrival of Cardinal William of Sabina, who had been sent by
the pope to officiate at the coronation, and while preparations for that
joyous event were going forward, the subject was brought up once more.
On the suggestion of the Norwegian bishops the cardinal asked the king
to take Magnus Erlingsson’s oath; but the king again refused, and the
cardinal decided that “there is no need to speak of it oftener.”[121]
The king was crowned and there was peace between the two great forces of
church and monarchy, at least so long as Hakon lived. Sometime not long
before or after the coronation of the great king (1247) the _King’s
Mirror_ seems to have been written. It is clear that such ideas as are
enunciated in this work with respect to the submission of the church to
the authorities of the state can not have been relished by the
hierarchy, and perhaps they were just then somewhat unwelcome to the
secular rulers as well, since a discussion of this sort might tend to
renew ill feeling and stir up strife. Consequently the author may have
thought it wiser to remain anonymous.

Footnote 121:

  _Ibid._, c. 251.

Earlier students of the _Speculum Regale_ have believed that the author
was some local chieftain, who had spent his more active days at the
royal court, but who had later retired to his estates and was spending
his declining years in literary pursuits. Various efforts have been made
to find this chieftain,[122] but with no success; there is no evidence
that the lords or crusaders who have been suggested as probable authors
had any literary interests or abilities. There can be no doubt that the
author was at one time a prominent member of the royal retinue; he
asserts in several places that such was the case.[123] He is,
furthermore, too thoroughly familiar with the organization of the royal
household to have been an occasional courtier merely. At the same time
it is not likely that he was a secular lord; it seems impossible that he
could have been anything but a churchman. He knows the Latin language;
he is well acquainted with sacred history; he has read a considerable
number of medieval books. It is quite unlikely that the various types of
learning that are reflected in the chapters of the _King’s Mirror_ could
be found in the thirteenth century in any scholar outside the clerical
profession. He could not have been one of the higher ecclesiastics, as
the prelates belonged to the faction of the Croziermen. The _Speculum
Regale_ was evidently written by a member of the Norwegian priesthood,
though it is possible that he belonged to one of the minor orders. But
at all events he was a professional churchman.[124]

Footnote 122:

  See the Sorö edition, xxiii; Munch, _Det norske Folks Historie_, III,
  399, note.

Footnote 123:

  Cc. ii, iii, xxx.

Footnote 124:

  Cf. Daae, “Studier angaaende Kongespeilet”: _Aarböger for nordisk
  Oldkyndighed_, 1896, 180-181. Daae holds that the author was a

There was an old belief in Norway that the work was written at King
Sverre’s court, perhaps by the priest-king himself;[125] but this theory
is wholly without foundation. Professor Ludvig Daae, believing that only
a few Northmen possessed the necessary qualifications for the authorship
of such a work as the _King’s Mirror_, concluded that it must have been
written by Master William, one of the chaplains at the court of Hakon
IV.[126] Master William was evidently a man of some erudition; he held a
degree (_magister_) from a European university; he must have traveled
abroad and was no doubt a man of experience; he lived and flourished in
the period when the work must have been composed. But there is no shred
of evidence that Master William actually wrote the _King’s Mirror_ or
that he was interested in the problems that are discussed in this work.

Footnote 125:

  _Ibid._, 1896, 178.

Footnote 126:

  _Ibid._, 1896, 192-196; see also pp. 179 ff. Daae believes that Master
  William must have held a position at court corresponding to the office
  of chancellor; he also conjectures that he was the tutor of the king’s
  sons. Master William is mentioned in the _Hákonar Saga_, cc. 210, 228.

More recently A. V. Heffermehl has made an attempt to prove that the
author so long sought for was Ivar Bodde, a Norwegian priest, who seems
to have played an important part in the history of Norway in the first
half of the thirteenth century as an influential member of the
anti-clerical party.[127] Much is not known of Ivar Bodde, and nearly
all that we do know comes from a speech which he is reported to have
delivered in his own defence in 1217.[128] He entered King Sverre’s
service “before the fight was at Strindsea,” which was fought in the
summer of 1199. This was also the year in which King Sverre seems to
have issued his famous _Address_. “I had good cheer from the king while
he lived, and I served him so that at last I knew almost all his secret
matters.” In King Inge’s reign (1204-1217) he served in the capacity of
chancellor: “and that besides, which was much against my wish, they
relied on me for writing letters.” During the same reign he also served
as Prince Hakon’s foster father, and was consequently responsible for
the education of the great king.[129] Ivar was also skilled in military
arts: he was a warrior as well as a priest.[130] He was apparently twice
sent to England on diplomatic errands, first to the court of King John,
later to that of Henry III.[131] He withdrew from the court in 1217. In
1223 he reappears as one of the king’s chief counsellors. After this
year nothing is known of Ivar Bodde.

Footnote 127:

  _Historiske Skrifter tilegnede Ludvig Daae_, 79-104 (“Presten Ivar
  Bodde”). Ivar is one of the characters in Ibsen’s _Pretenders_.

Footnote 128:

  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 21.

Footnote 129:

  _Historiske Skrifter tilegnede Ludvig Daae_, 88-89 (Heffermehl);
  _Hákonar Saga_, c. 20.

Footnote 130:

  _Historiske Skrifter tilegnede Ludvig Daae_, 80.

Footnote 131:

  _Ibid._, 81, 85.

The author of the _King’s Mirror_ was a professional churchman who
belonged to the anti-clerical faction; he was a master of the literary
art. Ivar Bodde was a man of this type; nothing is known of his literary
abilities, but it is clear that a man who was entrusted with the king’s
correspondence can not have been without literary skill. There seems to
be no reason why Ivar Bodde could not have written the _King’s Mirror_,
and he may also have had a hand in the preparation of Sverre’s
_Address_; but that he actually did write either or both of these
important works has not yet been proved; there may have been other
priests in Norway in the thirteenth century who stood for the divine
right of Norwegian kingship.

From certain geographical allusions it is quite clear that the work was
written in Norway and in some part of the country that would be counted
far to the north. The author mentions two localities in the Lofoten
region and he shows considerable knowledge of conditions elsewhere in
Halogaland;[132] but it is evident that he did not reside in that part
of the kingdom when he was at work on his great treatise. It is
generally agreed that the home of the _Speculum Regale_ is Namdalen, a
region which lies northeast of the city of Trondhjem and which touches
the border of Halogaland on the north.[133] This conclusion is based on
certain astronomical observations on the part of the author, namely the
length of the shortest day, the daily increase in the length of the day,
and the relationship between the length of the sun’s path and the sun’s
altitude at noon of the longest and the shortest day.[134] The Norwegian
astronomer Hans Geelmuyden has determined that if the author’s
statements on these points are to be regarded as scientific
computations, they indicate a latitude of 65°, 64° 42´, and 64° 52´
respectively. All these points lie within the shire of Namdalen.[135] As
the author can scarcely have been much more than a layman in the fields
of mathematics and astronomy, the agreement as to results obtained is
quite remarkable.

Footnote 132:

  C. vii.

Footnote 133:

  See the Sorö edition, pp. lix-lx; the Christiana edition, p. v.

Footnote 134:

  Cc. vi, vii.

Footnote 135:

  “Om Stedet for Kongespeilets Forfattelse”: _Arkiv for nordisk
  Filologi_, I, 205-208.

The problem of place is relatively unimportant, but the question of the
date of composition has more than mere literary interest. There is
nothing in the work itself which gives any clue to the year when it was
begun or completed. It seems evident, however, that it was written after
the period of the civil wars, though while the terrors of that century
of conflicts were yet fresh in the memories of men. For various other
reasons, too, it is clear that the _King’s Mirror_ was composed in the
thirteenth century and more specifically during the reign of Hakon IV.

The allusion to the Byzantine emperor Manuel Comnenus,[136] whose reign
began in 1143, gives a definite date from which any discussion of this
problem must begin. It is also clear that the work was written after the
church had begun to lay claim to power in the government of the state,
which was in 1163.[137] The author looks back to an evil time when
minorities were frequent and joint kingships were the rule;[138] but the
period of joint rule virtually came to a close in 1184 when Sverre
became sole king; and the last boy king whom the author can have taken
into account was Hakon IV, who was thirteen years old when he was given
the royal title. It therefore seems evident that the _King’s Mirror_ was
written after 1217, the year of Hakon’s accession.

Footnote 136:

  C. viii.

Footnote 137:

  See above, p. 36.

Footnote 138:

  See above, pp. 33–35.

On the other hand, it is also quite evident that the treatise can not
have been written after the great revision of the Norwegian laws which
was carried out during the reign of Magnus Lawmender. The new court-law,
which was promulgated about 1275, is clearly later than the _Speculum
Regale_: the fine exacted for the death of a king’s thegn, which is
given as forty marks in the _King’s Mirror_, is fixed at a little more
than thirteen marks in Magnus’ legislation. In 1273 the law regulating
the succession to the throne made impossible the recurrence of joint
kingships; but the principle of this arrangement appears to have been
accepted as early as 1260, when the king’s son Magnus was given the
royal title. Another decree, apparently also from Hakon’s reign, which
abolished the responsibility of kinsmen in cases of manslaughter and
deprived the relatives of the one who was slain of their share in the
blood fine, also runs counter to methods described in the _King’s
Mirror_, which states distinctly that kinsmen share in the payment.[139]
It is therefore safe to conclude that the work was written some time
between 1217 and 1260.

Footnote 139:

  C. xxxvi (p. 201).

The earliest attempt to date the _King’s Mirror_ was made by the learned
Icelander, Hans Finsen. In an essay included in the Sorö edition (1768)
he fixes the time at about 1164.[140] J. Erichsen, who wrote the
introduction to this edition, doubts that it was composed at so early a
date; impressed with the fact that the work reflects the political views
of the Birchshank faction, he is inclined to place the date of
composition some time in Sverre’s reign or in the last decade of the
twelfth century.[141] The striking resemblance between the ideas
expressed in the treatise and the guiding principles of Sverre’s regime
led the editors of the Christiania edition to the same conclusion: 1196
or soon after.[142] And so it was held that the work is a twelfth
century document until a Danish artillery officer, Captain Otto Blom,
began to make a careful study of the various types of weapons, armor,
and siege engines mentioned in the work. His conclusion, published in
1867, was that the _King’s Mirror_ reflects the military art of the
thirteenth century and that the manuscript was composed in the latter
half of the century, at any rate not long before 1260.[143] This
conclusion has been accepted by Gustav Storm,[144] Ludvig Daae,[145] and
virtually all who have written on the subject since Blom’s study
appeared, except Heffermehl, whose belief that Ivar Bodde was the author
could not permit so late a date, as Ivar, who was a man of prominence at
Sverre’s court about 1200, must have been an exceedingly aged man, if he
were still living in 1260. Heffermehl is, therefore, compelled to force
the date of composition back to the decade 1230-1240.

Footnote 140:

  See page xx of the Sorö edition.

Footnote 141:

  See pages lxv-lxvi of the Sorö edition.

Footnote 142:

  Christiania edition, p. viii.

Footnote 143:

  _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 65-109. See above, p. 32.

Footnote 144:

  _Arkiv for nordisk Filologi_, III, 83-88.

Footnote 145:

  _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1896, 176-177.

The weakness of Captain Blom’s argument is that he supposes the military
art described in the _Speculum Regale_ to be the military art of the
North at the time when the work was written. If all the engines and
accoutrements that the author describes ever came into use in the North,
it was long after 1260. Nearly all the weapons and devices mentioned
were in use in southern Europe and in the Orient in earlier decades of
the thirteenth century; some of them belong to much earlier times. If
certain engines and devices which Captain Blom is disposed to regard as
mythical are left out of account, it will be found that only three items
fail to appear in illustrations from the earlier part of the thirteenth
century; and it would not be safe to assume that these were not in use
because no drawing of them has been found.

Viewed against the background of Norwegian history, those chapters of
the _King’s Mirror_ which deal with the nature and the rights of
monarchy and with the place of the church in the state take on the
appearance of a political pamphlet written to defend and justify the
doings of the Birchshank party. The motives for composing an apology of
this sort may be found at almost any time in the thirteenth century but
especially during the decade that closed with the coronation of Hakon
IV. It will be remembered that the author of the _King’s Mirror_
discusses the calamities that may befall a kingdom as a result of joint
rule.[146] But in 1235, after one of Earl Skule’s periodic attempts at
rebellion, his royal son-in-law granted him the administration of
one-third of the realm. The grant was ratified the next year with
certain changes: instead of a definite, compact fief the earl now
received territories everywhere in the kingdom. In 1237 Skule was given
the ducal title and to many men it seemed as if the curse of joint
kingship was about to afflict the land once more. Two years later the
partisans of the duke proclaimed him king: like Adonijah of old he tried
to displace the Lord’s anointed.[147] But after a few months came the
surprise of Skule’s forces in Trondhjem and the duke’s own tragic end in
Elgesæter convent.[148] It will be recalled that the author defends King
Solomon’s dealings with Joab and lays down the principle that the right
of sanctuary will not hold against a king.[149] The rebellion of the
Norwegian Adonijah was in 1239; he died the death of Joab in 1240. Three
years later the believers in a strong monarchy were disturbed by the
news that the bishops had revived the old claim to supremacy in the
state. Soon after this series of events the political chapters of the
_King’s Mirror_ must have been composed.

Footnote 146:

  C. xxxvi.

Footnote 147:

  C. lxvi.

Footnote 148:

  See above, p. 48.

Footnote 149:

  C. lxix.

In 1247, the year of Hakon’s coronation, the hierarchy was once more
reconciled to the monarchy, and nothing more is heard of ecclesiastical
pretensions during the remainder of the reign. It would seem that after
this reconciliation, no churchman, at least not one of the younger
generation, would care to send such a challenge as the _King’s Mirror_
out into the world. One of the older men, one who had suffered with
Sverre and his impoverished Birchshanks, might have wished to write such
a work even after 1247; but after that date the surviving followers of
the eloquent king must have been very few indeed, seeing that Sverre had
now lain forty-five years in the grave. It is therefore the writer’s
opinion, though it cannot be regarded as a demonstrated fact, that the
closing chapters of the _King’s Mirror_ were written after 1240, the
year when Duke Skule was slain, perhaps after 1243, in which year
Norwegian clericalism reasserted itself, but some time before 1247, the
year of Hakon’s coronation and final reconciliation with the church.

In the centuries following its composition the _King’s Mirror_ appears
to have had wide currency in the North. When the editors of the Sorö
edition began to search for manuscripts, they found a considerable
number, though chiefly fragments, in Norway and Iceland; and traces of
the work were also found in Sweden.[150] Thus far twenty-five
manuscripts have come to light; “some of them are extensive, but many
are fragments of only a few leaves.”[151] Copies of the work were made
as late as the reformation period and even later.

Footnote 150:

  See the Sorö edition, pp. xxix-xxxvii.

Footnote 151:

  _Konungs Skuggsjá_ (ed. G. T. Flom), p. i. Among the fragments is a
  part of a Latin paraphrase made in Sweden in the first half of the
  fourteenth century. The translator was a cleric in the service of the
  Duchess Ingeborg, a daughter of the Norwegian King Hakon V. Ingeborg
  was married to the Swedish Duke Erik. _Arkiv for nordisk Filologi_, I,

The first mention of the _Speculum Regale_ in any printed work is in
Peder Claussön’s “Description of Norway,”[152] the manuscript of which
dates from the earlier years of the seventeenth century. But more than
one hundred years were still to pass before this important work was
brought to the attention of the literary world. Early in the eighteenth
century, however, great interest began to be shown in the records of the
Old Northern past. The great Icelandic scholar and antiquarian, Arne
Magnussen, had begun to collect manuscripts and was laying the
foundation of the Arnamagnean collection, which is one of the treasures
of the Danish capital. Among other things he found several copies and
fragments of manuscripts of the _Speculum Regale_. No effort was made to
publish any of these before the middle of the century was past; but
about 1760 three young scholars began to plan editions of this famous
work. The first to undertake this task was Professor Gerhard
Schöning,[153] a Norwegian by birth, who was at the time rector of the
Latin school in Trondhjem but later held a professorship in the Danish
academy at Sorö. Schöning began the preparation of a Latin translation
of the work, which he planned to publish along with the original
version; but his work was never completed. About the same time an
Icelandic student at the University of Copenhagen, Hans Finsen,[154]
later bishop in his native island, projected an edition, but was unable
to carry out his plans for want of a publisher, and turned his materials
over to others. The third and only successful attempt at publication was
made on the suggestion of a recently organized association of Icelandic
scholars known as “the Invisible” society. This association requested
Halfdan Einersen,[155] rector of the Latin school at Holar, one of the
members and founders of the “invisible” body, to prepare an edition. An
Icelandic merchant, Sören Pens, generously offered to bear all the
expense of publication.[156]

Footnote 152:

  _Norrigis Bescriffuelse_. See _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_,
  1896, 172 (Daae).

Footnote 153:

  Schöning’s dates are 1722-1780. He was professor of Latin literature
  and history at Sorö, but his real achievements lie in the field of
  Norwegian history.

Footnote 154:


Footnote 155:


Footnote 156:

  See the introduction to the Sorö edition, xxv-xxviii, from which the
  above facts have been culled.

Rector Einersen prepared the text from the best available Icelandic
manuscripts. He also made a Danish translation and a Latin paraphrase of
the same and forwarded the whole to Denmark to be published. The
materials were given into the editorial charge of another learned
Icelander, Jon Erichsen, teacher of jurisprudence at Sorö Academy.
Although Jon Erichsen’s name does not appear on the title page, it is
quite clear that the general excellence of the work is in large measure
due to his careful collation of Einersen’s text with manuscripts to
which the Icelandic rector had not had access. Professor Erichsen
discarded Einersen’s Danish translation and prepared one of his own. He
also found place in the volume for a dissertation by Hans Finsen, which
was first published in 1766, and in which the learned theologian
discusses various literary problems, such as the authorship of the work,
the date of composition, and the like. All these materials were brought
together and published at Sorö in 1768. On the whole the Sorö edition is
an excellent piece of work. The Icelandic text was made with great care
and reveals the fact that the editors were possessed of a critical
insight which for the time was remarkable. The Danish translation is
somewhat stiff and literal and does not always follow the laws of Danish
syntax; but it is generally accurate and retains an unmistakable flavor
of the Old Norse original.

Except for some assistance rendered by Professor Schöning, the first
edition of the _King’s Mirror_ was the work of Icelanders. The
Norwegians were also beginning to show some interest in their medieval
past; but Norway was still a part of the Danish monarchy, the political
and intellectual center of which was Copenhagen, and for half a century
longer the Norwegians were unable to do anything to promote the
publication of historical materials. However, four years after the Sorö
edition had come from the press, a society of Norsemen at the University
of Copenhagen was organized, the purpose of which was to further the
cause of Norwegian autonomy. After Norway in 1814 resumed her place
among the nations of Europe, it was only natural that Norwegian scholars
should be attracted to the Old Norse treasures of the middle ages. So
far as the means of the impoverished state would allow, publication of
the sources of Norwegian history was undertaken. The first Norwegian
historian of distinction was Rudolf Keyser, professor in the University
of Christiania. In his efforts to draw the attention of his countrymen
to the glories of earlier centuries, he was soon reënforced by his
younger contemporary, the fiery and industrious scholar and investigator
Peter Andreas Munch, who, though his work is somewhat marred by the
fervor of his patriotism, has not yet found a superior among the
historians of the North. Soon a third was added to these two: Carl R.
Unger, a man of remarkable abilities as a linguist. These three now
undertook to edit a series of Old Norse texts, among which was the
_King’s Mirror_, which was published under the auspices of the
University of Christiania in 1848.

The Christiania edition is based on the main manuscript of the _Speculum
Regale_, the manuscript 243 B of the Arnamagnean collection. This was
produced in Norway some time during the last quarter of the thirteenth
century, perhaps not long after 1275.[157] As the manuscript was
incomplete in part, the editors also made use of the copies which had
been made the basis of the earlier edition. Inasmuch as the materials to
be used had been copied at different times and consequently reflected
various stages of linguistic development, it was thought desirable to
normalize the orthography: and in this part of their task the editors
made use of a fragment which was thought to belong to a somewhat earlier
date than the main manuscript.[158] If this belief is correct, the
Christiania edition must, in respect to orthography, be a comparatively
close approximation of the original manuscript.

Footnote 157:

  See Flom’s edition of _Konungs Skuggsjá_, introduction.

Footnote 158:

  See the Christiania edition, pp. xiii-xvi.

In 1881 a third edition prepared by the German philologist Otto Brenner
was published under the title _Speculum Regale, ein altnorwegischer
Dialog_. Brenner based his text on the Norwegian manuscript 243 B, but
he also made use of the Icelandic copy (243 A) and of some of the older
fragments. His edition consequently includes all the materials that had
been used in the earlier editions. It was Brenner’s purpose to prepare a
text which should give the Norwegian version in its original form, so
far as such a restoration is possible. Though scholars are not agreed
that Brenner achieved his purpose, all have acknowledged the value of
his work, and since its publication his version has been regarded as the
standard edition.

Two years ago (1915) the University of Illinois published, under the
editorial direction of Professor George T. Flom, a photographic
reproduction of this same manuscript, 243 B. This important linguistic
monument has thus been made accessible to scholars in its original form.
Professor Flom has also prepared the Old Norse text of the manuscript,
which makes a part of the publication, and has prefaced the whole with
an extended introduction in which he discusses the history of the
manuscript, marginal addenda, abbreviations, and other paleographic and
linguistic problems.

Until very recently the Danish version prepared by Jon Erichsen for the
Sorö edition was the only translation of the _Speculum Regale_ into a
modern language.[159] But a few years ago the first part of the work was
published under the title _Kongespegelen_ in the form of a translation
into New Norse, a language of recent origin based on the spoken dialects
of Norway. As these dialects are closely related to the original idiom
of the North, such a translation can be made with comparative ease. The
work has recently been completed, and in most respects the New Norse
version proves to be a very satisfactory translation.

Footnote 159:

  In 1892 a small volume of extracts from the _King’s Mirror_ translated
  by Chr. Dorph was published in Copenhagen.

Some years ago a number of American scholars who have interests in the
fields of Scandinavian history, language, and literature united to form
a Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. The founders
believed that the purpose of the organization might be in part achieved
by encouraging the publication of some of the great Scandinavian
classics in English translation. It was on the suggestion of this
Society that the writer undertook to prepare the present version of the
_King’s Mirror_. The translation is based on the text of the Christiania
edition, the readings of which have been consistently followed, except
in a few instances where the scribe does not seem to have copied his
manuscript correctly; in such cases the most satisfactory variant
readings have been followed.




I passed all the crafts before my mind’s eye and studied intently all
the practices belonging to each craft; and I saw a vast multitude
walking wearily along the paths that slope downward from the highways of
virtue into error and vice. Some of these were very steep, and those who
followed them perished in desolate ravines; for the long, wearisome road
had fatigued them, and they had not enough strength left to climb up the
hillside, nor were they able to find the by-paths that led back to the
highways of virtue.

The destruction of this multitude was due, it seemed to me, to various
causes: some perished through ignorance, for the ways of error were
trodden so generally that they appeared to be the most convenient to
follow, and ignorant men mistook them for highways, since the majority
seemed to walk in them; some perished because of laziness and
carelessness; others feared that they would suffer derision and
contumely, if they walked the highroad alone; while still others were
led astray by perversity, wickedness, and the various passions.

But when I had observed how good morals were scorned and how the
scorners perished, I began to wonder how to find a road where I should
not be traveling entirely alone and yet would not have to choose one of
those paths where the crowd were exhausting their strength, lest the
steep climb should weary me, if I were to make an effort to get back up

Inasmuch as my father was still living and loved me well, I thought it
would be better to seek his counsel than after a slight consideration to
reach a decision which might displease him. So I hastened to my father
and laid the whole problem before him. He was a wise and kind man, and I
found that he was pleased when he heard that my errand was to learn
right conduct. He permitted me to ask whatever I wished about the
practices of the various crafts, and how they differed. He also promised
to make known to me all the usages that are most properly observed by
each craft that I might ask about. He further promised to point out, as
a warning, the paths of error which most men enter upon when they leave
the highways of virtue. Finally he promised to show me the by-paths that
those may take who wish to return from wrong roads to the highway.

Thereupon I began my inquiry by asking about the activities of merchants
and their methods. At the close of the first discussion, when my
questions had all been answered, I became bolder in speech and mounted
to a higher point in our review of the conditions of men; for next I
began to inquire into the customs of kings and other princes and of the
men who follow and serve them. Nor did I wholly omit to ask about the
doings of the clergy and their mode of life. And I closed by inquiring
into the activities of the peasants and husbandmen, who till the soil,
and into their habits and occupation.

But when my father had given wise and sufficient replies to all the
questions that I had asked, certain wise and worthy men, who, being
present, had heard my questions and his wise and truthful answers,
requested me to note down all our conversations and set them in a book,
so that our discussions should not perish as soon as we ceased speaking,
but prove useful and enjoyable to many who could derive no pastime from
us who were present at these conversations.

So I did as they advised and requested. I searched my memory and
pondered deeply upon the speeches and set them all in a book, not only
for the amusement or the fleeting pastime of those who may hear them,
but for the help which the book will offer in many ways to all who read
it with proper attention and observe carefully everything that it
prescribes. It is written in such a way as to furnish information and
entertainment, as well as much practical knowledge, if the contents are
carefully learned and remembered. But whoever has clear and proper
insight will realize that, if a book is to develop these subjects fully,
it will have to be a much larger work than this one.

The book has been given a handsome title: it is called _Speculum
Regale_, not because of pride in him who wrote it, but because the title
ought to make those who hear it more eager to know the work itself; and
for this reason, too, that if any one wishes to be informed as to proper
conduct, courtesy, or comely and precise forms of speech, he will find
and see these therein along with many illustrations and all manner of
patterns, as in a bright mirror. And it is called _King’s Mirror_,
because in it one may read of the manners of kings as well as of other
men. A king, moreover, holds the highest title and ought, with his court
and all his servants, to observe the most proper customs, so that in
them his subjects may see good examples of proper conduct, uprightness,
and all other courtly virtues. Besides, every king should look
frequently into this mirror and observe first his own conduct and next
that of the men who are subject to him. He should reward all whose
conduct is good, but should discipline and compel those to observe good
morals who cannot learn without threats. Although the book is first and
foremost a king’s mirror, yet it is intended for every one as a common
possession; since whoever wishes is free to look into it and to seek
information, as he may desire, about his own conduct, or any other type
of manners which he may find discussed in the book. And I believe that
no man will be considered unwise or unmannerly who carefully observes
everything that he finds in this work which is suited to his mode of
living, no matter what his rank or title may be.

If any one desires or is curious to hear or study this book, he need not
inquire about the name or the standing of the man who composed and wrote
it, lest perchance he should reject what may be found useful in it
because of contempt, envy, or hostile feeling of some sort for the

Footnote 160:

  It seems probable that the form in which the author of the _Speculum_
  expresses his desire to remain anonymous shows the influence of the
  Old Norse version of the _Elucidarium_, a theological discussion in
  dialog form, which dates from the twelfth century and is ascribed to
  Honorius of Autun. The author of the _Elucidarium_ writes as follows
  in his preface: “My name, however, I have purposely withheld, lest
  wicked men should be prompted by a feeling of envy to cast aside a
  useful work.” For the original Latin preface to the _Elucidarium_ see
  Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, CLXXII, 1110; the Old Norse version is
  given in _Annaler for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1857, p. 240, 1858, p.

This request, however, which surely may be granted to any man, we should
like to make: we ask all good men who hear this book to give it careful
thought and study; and if there should be aught which seems necessary to
the work but has not been included, whether concerning morals and
conduct or discreet and proper forms of speech, let them insert it in
proper form and connection. And if they find any matters which seem to
impair the work or to have been discussed at too great length, let them
discreetly remove all such and thus, amending our ignorance in kindness,
help our work to be appreciated in proper spirit. For it was not pride
that impelled us to labor but good will toward all who seemed to need
and desire knowledge of this sort.

When I went to my father with these inquiries that I have now mentioned,
I learned in the very first words that I addressed to him, how every one
ought to salute or address one’s father.




_Son._ Good day,[161] sire! I have come to see you as it behooves a
humble and obedient son to approach a loving and renowned father; and I
pray you to listen with patience to the questions that I have in mind to
ask and kindly to vouchsafe an answer to each one.

Footnote 161:

  Good day (_God dag_) is still the common form of greeting among
  Norwegians and other Scandinavians.

_Father._ Inasmuch as you are my only son, I am pleased to have you come
often to see me, for there are many subjects which we ought to discuss.
I shall be glad to hear what you wish to inquire about and to answer
such questions as are discreetly asked.

_Son._ I have heard the common report (which I believe is true) as to
your wisdom, that in all the land it would be difficult to find a man
who has greater insight into every form of knowledge than you have; for
all those who have difficult matters to settle are eager to get your
decision. I have also been told that the same was true when you were at
the royal court, and that the entire government, lawmaking, treaty
making, and every other sort of business, seemed to be guided by your
opinion. Now as I am the lawful heir to your worldly possessions, I
should also like to share somewhat in the heritage of your wisdom.
Wherefore I wish to have you point out to me the beginnings and the
alphabet of wisdom, as far as I am able to learn them from you, so that
I may later be able to read all your learned writings, and thus follow
in your footsteps. For I am sure that after your decease many will rely
on your having trained me after your own ways.

_Father._ It pleases me to hear you speak in this wise, and I shall be
glad to answer; for it is a great comfort to me that I shall leave much
wealth for my own true son to enjoy after my days; but I should scarcely
regard him as a son, though I had begotten him, if he were a fool. Now
if you seek understanding, I will show you the basis and the beginning
of all wisdom, as a great and wise man once expressed it: to fear
Almighty God, this is the beginning of wisdom.[162] But He is not to be
feared as an enemy, but rather with the fear of love, as the Son of God
taught the man who asked him what the substance of the law was. For the
Son of God referred him to the Scripture that reads as follows: Thou
shalt love God with all thy heart and with all thy strength and with all
thy might.[163] Now one should love God above everything else and fear
Him at all times when evil desires arise; he should banish evil longings
for God’s sake, though he were bold enough to cherish them for men’s
sake. Now if you wish to know what are the beginnings and the first
steps in the pursuit of wisdom, this is the true beginning, and there is
none other. And whoever learns this and observes it shall not be wanting
in true knowledge or in any form of goodness.

Footnote 162:

  _Proverbs_, ix, 10. In the use of Scriptural quotations the author is
  seldom accurate.

Footnote 163:

  _St. Luke_, x, 27.

_Son._ This is indeed loving counsel, such as one might expect from you;
besides, it is good and easily learned by every one whom fortune
follows. Still, if one is to be reputed a wise man, it will surely be
necessary to take up many things that pertain to the various crafts.

_Father._ This is the beginning and the alphabet of every good thing.
But through the alphabet one learns to read books, and in the same way
it is always better the more crafts are added to this art. For through
the crafts a man gains wisdom whatever the calling that he intends to
follow, whether that of kingsman,[164] yeoman, or merchant.

Footnote 164:

  A “kingsman” (_konungsmaðr_) was any one who had formally entered into
  the king’s personal service, whether he was actually employed at court
  or not. See below, cc. xxiv ff.




_Son._ I am now in my most vigorous years and have a desire to travel
abroad; for I would not venture to seek employment at court before I had
observed the customs of other men. Such is my intention at present,
unless you should give me other advice.

_Father._ Although I have been a kingsman rather than a merchant, I have
no fault to find with that calling, for often the best of men are chosen
for it. But much depends on whether the man is more like those who are
true merchants, or those who take the merchant’s name but are mere
frauds and foisterers, buying and selling wrongfully.

_Son._ It would be more seemly for me to be like the rightful ones; for
it would be worse than one might think likely, if your son were to
imitate those who are not as they ought. But whatever my fate is to be,
I desire to have you inform me as to the practices of such men as seem
to be capable in that business.

_Father._ The man who is to be a trader will have to brave many perils,
sometimes at sea and sometimes in heathen lands,[165] but nearly always
among alien peoples; and it must be his constant purpose to act
discreetly wherever he happens to be. On the sea he must be alert and

Footnote 165:

  These “heathen lands” were probably the regions along the Arctic
  inhabited by the Finns; it is also possible that the author alludes to
  trading voyages to lands occupied by Esquimaux, though he makes no
  mention of these people anywhere in his work.

When you are in a market town, or wherever you are, be polite and
agreeable; then you will secure the friendship of all good men. Make it
a habit to rise early in the morning, and go first and immediately to
church wherever it seems most convenient to hear the canonical hours,
and hear all the hours and mass from matins on. Join in the worship,
repeating such psalms and prayers as you have learned. When the services
are over, go out to look after your business affairs. If you are
unacquainted with the traffic of the town, observe carefully how those
who are reputed the best and most prominent merchants conduct their
business. You must also be careful to examine the wares that you buy
before the purchase is finally made to make sure that they are sound and
flawless. And whenever you make a purchase, call in a few trusty men to
serve as witnesses as to how the bargain was made.

You should keep occupied with your business till breakfast or, if
necessity demands it, till midday; after that you should eat your meal.
Keep your table well provided and set with a white cloth, clean
victuals, and good drinks. Serve enjoyable meals, if you can afford it.
After the meal you may either take a nap or stroll about a little while
for pastime and to see what other good merchants are employed with, or
whether any new wares have come to the borough which you ought to buy.
On returning to your lodgings examine your wares, lest they suffer
damage after coming into your hands. If they are found to be injured and
you are about to dispose of them, do not conceal the flaws from the
purchaser: show him what the defects are and make such a bargain as you
can; then you cannot be called a deceiver. Also put a good price on your
wares, though not too high, and yet very near what you see can be
obtained; then you cannot be called a foister.

Finally, remember this, that whenever you have an hour to spare you
should give thought to your studies, especially to the law books; for it
is clear that those who gain knowledge from books have keener wits than
others, since those who are the most learned have the best proofs for
their knowledge. Make a study of all the laws, but while you remain a
merchant there is no law that you will need to know more thoroughly than
the Bjarkey code.[166] If you are acquainted with the law, you will not
be annoyed by quibbles when you have suits to bring against men of your
own class, but will be able to plead according to law in every case.

Footnote 166:

  The “Birch-isle” code was originally a set of rules governing
  commercial intercourse. After a time it became a more elaborate law
  governing the municipality as well as the traders who were more or
  less permanently located there. It is believed that the name is
  derived from Birka, a trading center in eastern Sweden not far from
  the site of modern Stockholm. The “Birch-Isle” code is published in
  _Norges Gamle Love_, I, part iii, 303-336.

But although I have most to say about laws, I regard no man perfect in
knowledge unless he has thoroughly learned and mastered the customs of
the place where he is sojourning. And if you wish to become perfect in
knowledge, you must learn all the languages, first of all Latin and
French, for these idioms are most widely used; and yet, do not neglect
your native tongue or speech.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ May God reward you, sire, for the love of kinship that you show
in pointing out so many things that I may find needful,—if I have the
good fortune to learn them and to remember them after they are learned.
And if you think there are any other important matters that ought to be
taken up in this discussion, I shall be glad to listen attentively.

_Father._ There are, indeed, certain matters which should not be omitted
from this discourse, but they can be stated in a few words, if that
seems best. Train yourself to be as active as possible, though not so as
to injure your health. Strive never to be downcast, for a downcast mind
is always morbid; try rather to be friendly and genial at all times, of
an even temper and never moody. Be upright and teach the right to every
man who wishes to learn from you; and always associate with the best
men. Guard your tongue carefully; this is good counsel, for your tongue
may honor you, but it may also condemn you. Though you be angry speak
few words and never in passion; for unless one is careful, he may utter
words in wrath that he would later give gold to have unspoken. On the
whole, I know of no revenge, though many employ it, that profits a man
less than to bandy heated words with another, even though he has a
quarrel to settle with him. You shall know of a truth that no virtue is
higher or stronger than the power to keep one’s tongue from foul or
profane speech, tattling, or slanderous talk in any form. If children be
given to you, let them not grow up without learning a trade; for we may
expect a man to keep closer to knowledge and business when he comes of
age, if he is trained in youth while under control.

And further, there are certain things which you must beware of and shun
like the devil himself: these are drinking, chess, harlots, quarreling,
and throwing dice for stakes. For upon such foundations the greatest
calamities are built; and unless they strive to avoid these things, few
only are able to live long without blame or sin.

Observe carefully how the sky is lighted, the course of the heavenly
bodies, the grouping of the hours, and the points of the horizon. Learn
also how to mark the movements of the ocean and to discern how its
turmoil ebbs and swells; for that is knowledge which all must possess
who wish to trade abroad. Learn arithmetic thoroughly, for merchants
have great need of that.

If you come to a place where the king or some other chief who is in
authority has his officials, seek to win their friendship; and if they
demand any necessary fees on the ruler’s behalf, be prompt to render all
such payments, lest by holding too tightly to little things you lose the
greater. Also beware lest the king’s belongings find their way into your
purse; for you cannot know but that he may be covetous who has those
things in charge, and it is easier to be cautious beforehand than to
crave pardon afterwards. If you can dispose of your wares at suitable
prices, do not hold them long; for it is the wont of merchants to buy
constantly and to sell rapidly.

If you are preparing to carry on trade beyond the seas and you sail your
own ship, have it thoroughly coated with tar in the autumn and, if
possible, keep it tarred all winter. But if the ship is placed on
timbers too late to be coated in the fall, tar it when spring opens and
let it dry thoroughly afterwards. Always buy shares in good vessels or
in none at all. Keep your ship attractive, for then capable men will
join you and it will be well manned. Be sure to have your ship ready
when summer begins and do your traveling while the season is best. Keep
reliable tackle on shipboard at all times, and never remain out at sea
in late autumn, if you can avoid it. If you attend carefully to all
these things, with God’s mercy you may hope for success. This, too, you
must keep constantly in mind, if you wish to be counted a wise man, that
you ought never to let a day pass without learning something that will
profit you. Be not like those who think it beneath their dignity to hear
or learn from others such things even as might avail them much if they
knew them. For a man must regard it as great an honor to learn as to
teach, if he wishes to be considered thoroughly informed.

There remain a few minor matters that ought to be mentioned. Whenever
you travel at sea, keep on board two or three hundred ells of wadmal of
a sort suitable for mending sails, if that should be necessary, a large
number of needles, and a supply of thread and cord. It may seem trivial
to mention these things, but it is often necessary to have them on hand.
You will always need to carry a supply of nails, both spikes and rivets,
of such sizes as your ship demands; also good boat hooks and broadaxes,
gouges and augers, and all such other tools as ship carpenters make use
of. All these things that I have now named you must remember to carry
with you on shipboard, whenever you sail on a trading voyage and the
ship is your own. When you come to a market town where you expect to
tarry, seek lodgings from the innkeeper who is reputed the most discreet
and the most popular among both kingsmen and boroughmen. Always buy good
clothes and eat good fare if your means permit; and never keep unruly or
quarrelsome men as attendants or messmates. Keep your temper calm though
not to the point of suffering abuse or bringing upon yourself the
reproach of cowardice. Though necessity may force you into strife, be
not in a hurry to take revenge; first make sure that your effort will
succeed and strike where it ought. Never display a heated temper when
you see that you are likely to fail, but be sure to maintain your honor
at some later time, unless your opponent should offer a satisfactory

If your wealth takes on rapid growth, divide it and invest it in a
partnership trade in fields where you do not yourself travel; but be
cautious in selecting partners. Always let Almighty God, the holy Virgin
Mary, and the saint whom you have most frequently called upon to
intercede for you be counted among your partners. Watch with care over
the property which the saints are to share with you and always bring it
faithfully to the place to which it was originally promised.

If you have much capital invested in trade, divide it into three parts:
put one-third into partnerships with men who are permanently located in
market boroughs, are trustworthy, and are experienced in business. Place
the other two parts in various business ventures; for if your capital is
invested in different places, it is not likely that you will suffer
losses in all your wealth at one time: more likely it will be secure in
some localities, though frequent losses be suffered. But if you find
that the profits of trade bring a decided increase to your funds, draw
out the two-thirds and invest them in good farm land, for such property
is generally thought the most secure, whether the enjoyment of it falls
to one’s self or to one’s kinsmen. With the remaining third you may do
as seems best,—continue to keep it in business or place it all in land.
However, though you decide to keep your funds invested in trade,
discontinue your own journeys at sea or as a trader in foreign fields,
as soon as your means have attained sufficient growth and you have
studied foreign customs as much as you like. Keep all that you see in
careful memory, the evil with the good; remember evil practices as a
warning, and the good customs as useful to yourself and to others who
may wish to learn from you.



                         THE SUN AND THE WINDS

_Son._ It is evident that whoever wishes to become informed on such
matters as those which you have now discussed must first try to
determine what is most worth learning and afterwards to keep in mind all
that he has heard. But in your discussion just recently you mentioned
several things the nature of which I do not understand, though I have
reflected upon your statements, namely, the lights of the sky and the
movements of the ocean. Moreover, you urged me to learn these things and
stated that there is knowledge in learning them. But I cannot comprehend
them unless I shall hear them explained; and I know of no other wise
master with so kind a will to teach me these matters as yourself.
Therefore, with your permission, I will ask you to continue this
discussion, so that I may become somewhat better informed on these
subjects: how the lights of the sky and the course of the heavenly
bodies wax and wane; how the time of the day is told and the hours are
grouped; but especially how the ocean moves and what causes its
restlessness. For sometimes the ocean appears so blithe and cheerful
that one would like to sport with it through an entire season; but soon
it displays such fierce wrath and ill-nature that the life and property
of those who have anything to do with it are endangered. Now I have
thought that, although the sun completes its course according to an
established law, that fact cannot produce the unquiet of the sea. If you
are disposed to explain these things further, I shall listen gladly and

_Father._ I can indeed give such an explanation, just as I have heard it
from the lips of well-informed men, and as seems most reasonable
according to the insight that God has given me. The sun has received
divers offices: for it brings light and warmth to all the earth, and the
various parts of the world rejoice in its approaching; but its course is
planned in such a way that it sometimes withdraws from those regions
that it approaches at other times. When it first comes to visit the east
with warmth and bright beams, the day begins to lift up silvery brows
and a pleasant face to the east wind. Soon the east wind is crowned with
a golden glory and robed in all his raiments of joy. He eases griefs and
regretful sighs and turns a bright countenance toward his neighbors on
either side, bidding them rejoice with him in his delight and cast away
their winterlike sorrows. He also sends blazing rays into the face of
the west wind to inform him of his joy and happiness. He advises the
west wind, too, that in the evening he shall be clad in garments similar
to those which the east wind wore in the morning. Later in the day and
at the proper hour the southeast wind displays the glory of his
newly-gotten robes and sends warming rays with friendly messages into
the face of the northwest wind. But at midday the south wind reveals how
he has been endowed with riches of heat, sends warm gifts of friendship
across to the north wind, warms his cool face, and invites all the
neighboring winds to share in the abundance of his wealth. As the day
declines the southwest wind with glad face receives the gentle sheen and
genial beams. Having put away wrath, he reveals his desire for peace and
concord; he commands the mighty billows and steep wave-crests to subside
with waning power and calls forth quickening dews in a wish to be fully
reconciled with all his neighbors. Gently he blows a refreshing breath
into the face of the northeast wind, warms his wind-chilled lips, and
thaws his frosty brow and frozen cheeks. But when evening begins, the
west wind, clad in splendor and sunset beauty as if robed for a festal
eve, lifts a gleaming brow above a blithe countenance, and sends a
message on darting beams across to the east wind telling him to prepare
for the festive morrow to come.

At sunset the northwest wind begins to raise his fair brows and with
lifted eyelids betokens to all his neighbors that the dazzling radiance
is now in his keeping. Thereupon he sends forth a shadow over the face
of the earth proclaiming to all that now come the hours of rest after
the toil of day. But at midnight the north wind goes forth to meet the
coursing sun and leads him through rocky deserts toward the sparse-built
shores. He calls forth heavy shadows, covers his face with a
broad-brimmed helmet, and informs all that he is arrayed for the night
watch to keep guard over his neighbors that they may have comfort and
untroubled rest after the heat of day. With cool lips he gently blows
upon the face of the south wind, that he may be better able to resist
the violent heat of the coming day. He also scatters the dark clouds and
clears up the face of heaven in order that the sun, when light appears,
may be easily able to send forth his warm and radiant beams in all
directions. But on the coming of morn the northeast wind begins to open
his closed eyelids and blinks to both sides as if to determine whether
it is time to rise. Then he opens quickly his clear eyes as if sated
with sleep after ended rest. Soon he leads forth the gleaming day into
all the homesteads like a fair youth and fitting herald, to give sure
knowledge that the radiant sphere and shining sun follows close behind
and to command all to be arrayed for his coming. Soon the sun rises and
shoots forth his beams in all directions to watch over the covenant made
by the winds; and after that he goes on through his ordained course as
we have already told.

When peace has been established among these chiefs that we have just
named, it is safe to travel wherever you may wish through the realms of
any one of them. Then the sea begins to bar out all violent storms and
make smooth highways where earlier the route was impassable because of
broad billows and mighty waves; and the shores offer harbors in many
places which formerly gave no shelter. Now, while this covenant holds,
there will be fair sailing for you or any others who wish to travel to
foreign shores or steer their ships over the perils of the ocean. It is,
therefore, the duty of every man, indeed it is a necessary one, to learn
thoroughly when one may look for dangerous seasons and bad routes, or
when times come when one may risk everything. For even unwitting beasts
observe the seasons, though by instinct, since they have no intellect.
Even the fishes, though lacking human insight, know how to find security
in the deep seas, while the winter storms are most violent; but when
winter wanes, they move nearer the shores and find enjoyment as after a
sorrow suffered and past. Later in the spring after the roe has come,
they lay the spawn and bring forth a vast multitude of young fishes and
in this way increase their race, each after its kind and class. It does,
indeed, show great forethought for unintelligent creatures to provide so
carefully against the coming winter storms, and to bring forth their
offspring at the opening of spring, so that they may enjoy the calm
weather of summer and search for food in peace and quiet along the wide
shores; for thus they gather strength enough in summer against the
ensuing winter to sustain themselves among other fishes in the chilly

The covenant brings joy to the sky as well as to the sea; for as spring
advances the birds soaring high into the air rejoice with beautiful
songs in the newly made treaty of these lords as in a coming festival.
Their joy is as great as if they have escaped great and terrible dangers
which might arise from the strife of these chieftains. Soon they build
nests upon the earth and lead birdlings forth from them, each after its
kind. Thus they increase their species and care for their young in the
summer that these may be able to find their own sustenance in the winter
following. Even the earth rejoices in this peace-making, for as soon as
the sun begins to pour out its warming rays over the face of the earth,
the ice begins to thaw around the frozen grass roots; soon fragrant and
fair-hued herbs sprout forth, and the earth shows that she finds
gladness and festive joy in the fresh beauty of her emerald robes. She
gladly offers to all her offspring the sustenance which she had to
refuse them earlier because of the dearth in winter. The trees that
stood with dripping branches and frozen roots put forth green leaves,
thus showing their joy that the sorrow and distress of winter are past.

Unclean and repulsive beasts display insight and understanding in their
ability to determine the proper time to increase their kind and to come
out of their dens. They also observe the season when it is necessary to
flee the cold and stormy distress of winter and seek shelter under
rocks, in large crags, or in the deep scar of the landslide till the
time to come forth is at hand. Wild beasts that seek their food in woods
or on the mountains know well how to discern the seasons; for they bear
the begotten offspring while winter is most severe, so that they may
bring forth their young when the grass is fresh and the summer is warm.
There is a little creeping thing called the ant, which can teach
thoughtful men much practical wisdom, whether they be merchants or
husbandmen, kings or lesser men. It teaches kings how to build castles
and fortresses; in the same way it teaches the merchants and the
husbandmen with what industry and at what seasons they ought to pursue
their callings; for he who has proper insight and observes carefully the
activities of the ant will note many things and derive much profit from
them. All other creatures, too, whether clean or unclean, rejoice in
this season, and with vigilant eyes seek their food in the warm summer
time so as to be able to endure more confidently the perils of a
destitute winter season. Now it is this covenant between these eight
winds that calls forth all the delights of earth and sky and the calm
stirring of the sea according to the command and mysterious skill of Him
Who ordained in the beginning that thus should all nature remain until
He should change the order of things. Now if you feel that some of these
matters have not yet been fully cleared up, you may continue your
inquiries and ask what questions you like.




_Son._ It was a wise thought, it seems to me, to ask those questions to
which I have just received such fair replies; and I am encouraged to
inquire into certain other matters, namely the waxing of the sun, the
moon, and the streams or tides of the ocean,—how much and how rapidly
these things wax and wane. Now these things that I have brought up for
discussion are subjects which especially touch the welfare of seafaring
men, and it looks to me as if they would profit much from a knowledge of
these matters, since it gives insight into the right conduct of their
profession. And since I intend to labor diligently in the trader’s
calling, I should like very much, if it can be done, to have you explain
further some of those things that I have just mentioned.

_Father._ Those things that you have now asked about do not all wax or
wane with equal rapidity; for the tide, when it rises, completes its
course in seven days plus half an hour of the eighth day; and every
seventh day there is flood tide in place of ebb. For the tide rises one
seventh part daily from the time when the rise begins; and after it
turns and begins to fall, it ebbs in the same way during the next seven
days but is retarded as much as half an hour of the eighth day,[167]
which must be added to the seven days. As to how long an hour should be
I can give you definite information; for there should be twenty-four
hours in two days, that is, a night and a day, while the sun courses
through the eight chief points of the sky: and according to right
reckoning the sun will pass through each division in three hours of the
day. On the other hand, the moon, while it waxes, completes its course
in fifteen days less six hours;[168] and in a like period it wanes until
the course is complete and another comes. And it is always true that at
this time the flood tide is highest and the ebb strongest. But when the
moon has waxed to half, the flood tide is lowest and the ebb, too, is
quite low. At full moon the flood tide is again very high and the ebb is
strong. But when it has waned to half, both ebb and flood are quite low.
Merchants are, however, scarcely able to note these changes, as the
course is too swift; for the moon takes such long strides both in waxing
and waning that men, on that account, find it difficult to determine the
divisions of its course. The sun, on the other hand, completes its
course more slowly both in ascending and declining, so that one may
easily mark all the stages of its course. The sun moves upward one
hundred and eighty-two and one-half days and three hours and for a like
period it recedes again; it has then completed its entire course, both
ascent and decline, in three hundred days, by the twelve-count[169]
{360}, plus five days and six hours. Every fourth year this becomes
three hundred by the twelve-count and six days more {366}; this is
called leap year, for it has one day more than the preceding
twelvemonth, the additional hours being gathered into twenty-four, a
night and a day. In Latin all hundreds are counted by tens, and there
are, therefore, properly computed three hundred by the ten-count plus
sixty-six days whenever leap year occurs, while the intervening years
have only five days and six hours with as many additional days by the
other reckoning as I have just stated.

Footnote 167:

  The mean retardation is forty-eight minutes.

Footnote 168:

  This is within twenty-two minutes of the length of the lunar

Footnote 169:

  The Northmen in medieval times had two hundreds, the great hundred, or
  duodecimal hundred, which counted 120 (12 × 10) and the ordinary
  hundred (10 × 10).

But to your question concerning the growth of the sun’s path, how one
can most clearly discern it, I can scarcely give an answer so precise as
not to be wrong in part; for the sun’s path does not wax at the same
rate in all parts of the earth. I can, of course, answer according to
what I have found in the writings of men who have treated the subject
thoroughly, and it is generally believed that their words come very near
the truth. I have already told you how many hours there are in a night
and day and gave the number as twenty-four.[170] I have indicated the
length of each hour in stating that three hours pass while the sun moves
across one division of the sky. Now there are some other little hours
called _ostensa_,[171] sixty of which make one of those that I mentioned
earlier. It seems to me quite likely that, as far north as we are, the
sun’s path waxes five of these little hours in a day and as much less
than six as a twelfth part of a little hour. And as to the growth of the
sun’s path it seems most reasonable to me that it waxes three-fourths of
these hours toward the east and the west and the remaining fourth in
height toward the zenith. South of us, however, this reckoning will
fail; for north of us the increase is greater and to the south less than
we have just stated; and the farther south, the greater is the
difference, and the sun more nearly overhead.

Footnote 170:

  See Brenner’s edition, 20.

Footnote 171:

  Error for _ostenta_; the _ostentum_, computed at one-sixtieth of an
  hour, seems to appear first in the writings of Rabanus Maurus (ninth




_Son._ With your permission I wish to inquire somewhat more fully into
this subject, for I do not quite understand it. You have said that the
sun’s ascent is more rapid to the north of us, where summer is almost
wanting, while the strength of winter is so overpowering that summer
seems like a mere shadow, and where in many places both snow and ice lie
all through summer just as in winter, as is true of Iceland and
particularly of Greenland. But I have heard that in the southlands there
are no severe winters, the sun being as hot in winter as it is with us
in summer; and that in winter, when the sun has less power, both grain
and other crops grow, while in summer the earth cannot endure the
fervent heat of the sun and consequently yields neither grass nor grain;
so that in regions like Apulia and even more so in the land of Jerusalem
the heat of summer causes as great distress as the cold of winter with
us. Now when you tell me that the sun’s path waxes faster here in the
north than yonder in the south, I cannot see the reason why; for there
the sun’s heat is as great in winter as it is with us in summer; and it
is so much greater in summer that all vegetation on the earth is
scorched by it. Therefore it seems to me more likely that the sun’s path
waxes most rapidly where the heat is most intense. Now if you can and
will clear this up for me so that I can grasp it, I shall listen gladly
and attentively.

_Father._ I shall begin my talk on the subject that I am now to take up
with a little illustration, which may help you to a clearer insight,
since you find it so difficult to believe the facts as stated. If you
take a lighted candle and set it in a room, you may expect it to light
up the entire interior, unless something should hinder, though the room
be quite large. But if you take an apple and hang it close to the flame,
so near that it is heated, the apple will darken nearly half the room or
even more. However, if you hang the apple near the wall, it will not get
hot; the candle will light up the whole house; and the shadow on the
wall where the apple hangs will be scarcely half as large as the apple
itself. From this you may infer that the earth-circle is round like a
ball and not equally near the sun at every point. But where the curved
surface lies nearest the sun’s path, there will the greatest heat be;
and some of the lands that lie continuously under the unbroken rays
cannot be inhabited. On the other hand, those lands which the sun
approaches with slanting rays may readily be occupied; and yet, some of
these are hotter than others according as they lie nearer the sun’s
path. But when the curved and steep slope of the sphere-shaped wheel
moves up before the light and the beams of the sun, it will cast the
deepest shadow where its curved surface lies nearest the sun; and yet,
the lands nearest the sun are always hottest.[172] Now I agree with you
that Apulia and Jerusalem are hotter than our own country; but you must
know that there are places where the heat is greater than in either of
those just mentioned, for some countries are uninhabitable on account of
the heat. And I have heard it stated as a fact, that even when the sun
mounts highest, the night in those regions is very dark and quite long.
From this you must conclude that where the strength and power of the sun
are greater, since it is nearer, it must ascend and decline more slowly;
for the night is long in summer when the sun mounts highest, and the day
is long in winter when it sinks lowest. Now I shall explain this so
clearly that you will understand it fully.

Footnote 172:

  It is evident from this discussion that the author believes in a
  spherical earth; elsewhere, too, he speaks of the sphere of earth
  (_jarðarbollr_); see c. lvi.

You know that here with us in winter the day and the course of the sun
are brief; for so short is the sun’s path that it passes through but a
single region of the sky, and then only where the sun has considerable
strength. But in many places the sun is not to be seen during a large
part of winter, for example in Halogaland,[173] as we have not only
heard tell but have often and constantly learned and observed with our
own eyes. For we know definitely that from about November 10 to January
10 there never comes a day so bright up north in Vaag or at Andenes[174]
in Halogaland but that the stars in the sky are visible at midday as at
midnight. And although the days have so much light that the stars cannot
be seen, nevertheless, in most of the places that we have mentioned the
sun remains invisible till January 23. But after that date the days
lengthen and the sun mounts so rapidly, that beginning with April 6
daylight does not disappear before September 17, all the intervening
time being one continuous day, for daylight never fails in all that
while. From this you may safely conclude that, though the sun is hotter
in the southern lands that we spoke of earlier, its course waxes and
mounts more slowly where the night, even at mid-summer, is deep and long
and dark, and where there is never a time in the whole twelvemonth when
day does not fail. But in Halogaland, as I have just said, there is no
day in winter and stars are visible at midday when the day should be
brightest; later, however, when the days begin to lengthen, they grow so
rapidly that early in spring daylight begins to tarry all the night and
continues till much of the autumn is past.

Footnote 173:

  Halogaland, the modern _Nordland_, is that part of Norway lying north
  of the sixty-fifth parallel.

Footnote 174:

  Vaag and Andenes are points in the Lofoten Islands; their latitudes
  are 68° 12´ 35″ and 69° 18´ 50″ respectively.

There remains one more proof which will seem very clear to you. You know
that in those localities in Halogaland that we have just mentioned the
sun about May 15 begins to shine with the same brightness by night as by
day, never setting either at night or during the day but shining
continuously in this manner and with this brightness, except when its
light is obscured by clouds, even to July 25. Now you know that the sun
is only moderately warm in Halogaland, and that there is but a little
time in summer when it gives sufficient warmth. Still, there it is with
its blazing disk about as long as we have just stated, and it maintains
the daylight about as long as we have just computed. But neither fact is
true of the southlands, though the sun is hotter there. Now these facts
give evidence that the sun is more distant here, for it gives less heat.
They also testify to the waxing of its course, for, since its light is
as bright by night as by day, its path must lengthen more rapidly here.
But yonder it waxes less and more slowly, for there the night has its
prescribed period both for length and darkness in summer as well as in



                         THE MARVELS OF NORWAY

_Son._ I see this so clearly now that I can no longer gainsay that the
sun mounts higher and more rapidly up the sky where there is almost no
day in winter and the sunlight is so abundant in summer that it shines
by night as well as by day throughout almost the entire season. I also
see that its course changes much less yonder where it rises high in
winter and gives long days with much heat and sunshine, though the night
in summer is long and dark. Seafaring traders ought to note the
differences precisely so as to be able to determine what seas they are
upon, whether they lie to the north or to the south. And it seems
unnecessary to inquire any further into these matters, for I believe
that I have had correct and sufficient answers. Now since we are wearied
with profound questions and thoughtful discourse, let us rest from these
for a while and turn our conversation to matters of a lighter sort. And
even though I should inquire about things that are not so useful as
those others, which are of the highest utility, I pray you for the sake
of our intimacy to vouchsafe replies to such questions as I may ask; for
my mind is often as eager for amusement as for things of useful intent.
And it may seem restful in a long talk, if a few questions come up that
can stir the mind to gentle mirth. I do not wish, however, to bring such
themes into our talk unless you give me permission.

_Father._ I take it that you will ask no stupid questions, seeing that
you have thus far inquired into such matters only as seem very
pertinent; and you are therefore free to ask whatever you wish; for if
the questions do not seem appropriate, we are at liberty to drop them as
soon as we like.

_Son._ Now that I am permitted to choose a topic for entertainment, it
occurs to me that I have asked too little about Ireland, Iceland, and
Greenland, and all the wonders of those lands, such as fire and strange
bodies of water, or the various kinds of fish and the monsters that dash
about in the ocean, or the boundless ice both in the sea and on the
land, or what the Greenlanders call the “northern lights,” or the
“sea-hedges” that are found in the waters of Greenland.

_Father._ I am not much disposed to discuss the wonders that exist among
us here in the North, though my reason may be rather trivial: many a man
is inclined to be suspicious and think everything fiction that he has
not seen with his own eyes; and therefore I do not like to discuss such
topics, if my statements are to be called fabrications later on, even
though I know them to be true beyond doubt, inasmuch as I have seen some
of these things with mine own eyes and have had daily opportunity to
inquire about the others from men whom we know to be trustworthy and who
have actually seen and examined them, and therefore know them to be
genuine beyond question. My reason for bringing up this objection is
that a little book has recently come into our country, which is said to
have been written in India and recounts the wonders of that country. The
book states that it was sent to Emmanuel, emperor of the Greeks.[175]
Now it is the belief of most men who have heard the book read, that such
wonders are impossible, and that what is told in the book is mere
falsehood. But if our own country were carefully searched, there would
be found no fewer things here than are numbered in that book which would
seem as wonderful, or even more so, to men of other lands who have not
seen or heard anything like them. Now we call those things fiction
because we had not seen them here or heard of them before the coming of
that book which I have just mentioned. That little book has, however,
been widely circulated, though it has always been questioned and charged
with falsehood; and it seems to me that no one has derived honor from
it, neither those who have doubted it nor the one who wrote it, even
though his work has been widely distributed and has served to amuse and
tickle the ear, seeing that what is written in it has always been called

Footnote 175:

  Manuel I, Comnenus, 1143-1180. The “little book” is thought to have
  been one of the many forms of the legend of Prester John, a fabulous
  Christian ruler of India of whom much was heard in the middle ages.
  About 1165 a letter from the “Presbyter Johannes” addressed to the
  emperor Manuel Comnenus was circulated through Europe and later found
  its way into the North. In the extant copies of this letter many
  marvels are told, though the wonder mentioned in the _Speculum Regale_
  does not appear. See Zarncke, _Der Priester Johannes_, 83-98.




_Son._ Of course I cannot know how widely our talks will travel either
in our days or later; and yet, with your permission, I will again ask
the pleasure of hearing further speech concerning those matters that we
might think strange in other lands, but which we know are surely
genuine. And we need not be so very skeptical of this book which is said
to have been written in India, though many marvels are told in it; for
there are many things in our own country, which, though not strange to
us, would seem wonderful to other people, if our words should fly so far
as to come thither where such things are unheard of. But if I should
express surprise at any of those tales that are told in that book, it
seems to me not least wonderful that manikins are able to subdue those
great winged dragons which infest the mountains and desert places there,
as the book tells us, and tame them so completely that men are able to
ride them just as they please like horses, fierce and venomous beasts
though they are said to be and not inclined to allow men in their
neighborhood, still less to be tamed and to do service.

_Father._ Both such and many other tales are told in that book which
seem so marvelous that many express their doubts about them; but it
seems to me that there is no need to compare the wonders that are
described there with those that we have in our own country, which would
seem as strange to men yonder as those that you have just mentioned seem
to us. For it must be possible to tame wild beasts and other animals,
though they be fierce and difficult to manage. But it would seem a
greater marvel to hear about men who are able to tame trees and boards,
so that by fastening boards seven or eight ells long under his feet, a
man, who is no fleeter than other men when he is barefooted or shod
merely with shoes, is made able to pass the bird on the wing, or the
fleetest greyhound that runs in the race, or the reindeer which leaps
twice as fast as the hart. For there is a large number of men who run so
well on skis that they can strike down nine reindeer with a spear, or
even more, in a single run. Now such things must seem incredible,
unlikely, and marvelous in all those lands where men do not know with
what skill and cleverness it is possible to train the board to such
great fleetness that on the mountain side nothing of all that walks the
earth can escape the swift movements of the man who is shod with such
boards. But as soon as he removes the boards from his feet, he is no
more agile than any other man. In other places, where men are not
trained to such arts, it would be difficult to find a man, no matter how
swift, who would not lose all his fleetness if such pieces of wood as we
have talked about were bound to his feet. We, however, have sure
information and, when snow lies in winter, have opportunity to see men
in plenty who are expert in this art.

Not long since, we mentioned a certain fact which must be thought
exceedingly strange elsewhere, as it runs wholly counter to the order
which holds good in most places with respect to the change from night to
day, namely, that here the sun shines as bright and fair and with as
much warmth by night as by day through a large part of the summer.

In our own country, in Möre, there is a bog called the Bjarkudal bog,
which must also seem wonderful: for every sort of wood that is thrown
into it and left there three winters loses its nature as wood and turns
into stone.[176] If it is thrown upon the fire, it will glow like stone,
though before it would have burned like wood. I have seen and handled
many such stones of which the half that rose above the mire was wooden,
while the part submerged in the bog was wholly petrified. Now we must
call that a marvel, for the bog is located in a forest which is heavily
wooded with young trees of all sorts; and these are not injured so long
as they are green and growing, but as soon as one is hewn down and,
having begun to decay, is thrown into the bog, it turns into stone.

Footnote 176:

  The “Birchdale” bog seems to be a myth; but that stories of such a
  marvel were current is evident from a statement by Giraldus
  Cambrensis, who has heard that there was such a bog in Norway.
  _Opera_, V, 86. Möre is an old Norwegian shire lying to the west of
  Trondhjem along the coast.




_Son._ I am familiar with all these things since they are found in our
own country, and I have seen them all. But I have no knowledge of all
those other marvels which are to be found in Iceland, Greenland, and
Ireland, and in the seas about those lands, for of those things I have
heard rumors only.

_Father._ Those lands, if we are to speak more fully about them, differ
much in character and are not all of the same appearance. For the
wonders of Iceland and Greenland consist in great frost and boundless
ice, or in unusual display of flame and fire, or in large fishes and
other sea monsters. And these countries are everywhere barren and
unfruitful and consequently almost unfit for habitation. But Ireland
comes near being the best land that is known to man, though the grape
vine does not grow there.[177] And there are many marvels in Ireland,
some of which are of such a character that this country may be called
holier than all others.

Footnote 177:

  Cf. Giraldus Cambrensis, _Opera_, V, 26-28. Giraldus quotes Bede
  (_Historia Ecclesiastica_, i, c. 1). See also Isidore, _Etymologiae_,
  xiv, 6.

The country lies on that side of the world where heat and cold are so
well tempered that the weather is never very hot or very cold. For all
through the winter the cattle find their feed in the open, and the
inhabitants wear almost no clothes there either in winter or in summer.
And so holy is this land beyond all others that no venomous animal can
exist there, either snake or toad.[178] When such animals are brought in
from other countries, they die as soon as they touch the bare earth or
rock.[179] And if wood, earth, or sand is taken from that country and
brought to a land where venomous beasts are found, and the sand or earth
is strewn around them where they lie, they will never be able to cross
the circle but must remain within it and perish. In the same way, if you
take a stick of wood which has come from the country of which we now
speak and trace a circle around them with it by scratching the soil with
the stick, they will soon all lie dead within the circle. It is told of
Ireland that men scarcely know of another island of equal size where
there are so many holy men. We are also told that the inhabitants of the
country are by nature fierce and murderous and very immoral. But
bloodthirsty though they be, they have never slain any of the saints who
are so numerous in the land; the holy men who have dwelt there have all
died in sick bed. For the Irish have been kindly disposed toward all
good and holy men, though they have dealt savagely with each other.[180]

Footnote 178:

  Cf. Giraldus, _Opera_, V, 62; see also Bede, _Hist. Eccles._, i, c. 1.

Footnote 179:

  “Wonders of Ireland” (_Irish Nennius_, 219); this writer states that
  the experiment has been made.

Footnote 180:

  Giraldus tells us that the Irish are faithless and treacherous
  (_Opera_, V, 165) but that the island has no martyrs (_ibid._, 174).
  Cf. _Ériu_, IV, 4 (Meyer, “Irish Memorabilia in the _Speculum

There is a lake in that country concerning the nature of which strange
tales are told; it is called Logechag[181] in the native speech. It is
quite an extensive lake and has this property, that if you take a stick
of the wood that some call holm and others holly but is called
_acrifolium_[182] in Latin and fix it in the lake so that part of it is
in the earth, a part in the water, and a part rising above, the part in
the earth will turn into iron, the part in the water into stone, while
that which stands out above will remain as before. But if you set any
other sort of wood in the lake, its nature will not change.[183]

Footnote 181:

  The editor of the _Irish Nennius_ gives this name as Loch n-Echach
  (Lough Neagh). P. 195, note.

Footnote 182:

  Error for _aquifolium_.

Footnote 183:

  See the “Wonders of Ireland” (_Irish Nennius_, 195) where a similar
  account is given; but according to this “the part of it that sinks
  into the earth will be stone, the part that remains in the water will
  be iron.” Giraldus writes of a petrifying well (_fons_) in the north
  of Ulster, but gives no place name. _Opera_, V, 86. See also
  Wright-Halliwell, _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 103. (Latin poem on the
  wonders of Ireland.)

Again, there are two springs on a mountain called Blandina,[184] which
is almost a desert mountain; these have a peculiar nature. One of them
has this property that if you take either a white sheep, cow, or horse,
or a man with white hair, and wash any one of these with the water, the
white will immediately turn to coal black. And such is the nature of the
other spring in that place that if a man washes himself in its water,
his hair will turn to a snowy white as if he were an aged man, no matter
what its color be before, whether red or white or black.[185]

Footnote 184:

  Blandina (Bladina, Bladma) is the Slieve Bloom range in central

Footnote 185:

  Giraldus has heard of such springs, but he locates the one in Ulster
  and the other in Munster. _Opera_, V, 84. A spring that whitens hair
  is mentioned in Wright-Halliwell, _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 104, and
  in the _Irish Nennius_, 195.

There is also a lake in that country which the natives call Loycha. In
that lake there is what appears to be a little floating island; for it
floats about in the lake, here and there approaching the shore sometimes
so near that one may step out upon it; and this occurs most frequently
on Sundays. And such is the property of this islet that if one who is
ill steps out upon it and partakes of the herbs that grow there, he is
healed at once, no matter what his ailment may be. Another singular fact
is this, that never more than one can come upon it at one time, though
many may wish to do so; for as soon as one has landed, the island
immediately floats away. It also has this peculiarity that it floats
constantly about in the lake for seven winters; but as soon as the
seventh winter is past, it floats to the shore somewhere and unites with
the other land, as if it had always been joined to it. But when that
moment has come, a crash like a peal of thunder is heard, and, when the
din is past, another island can be seen in the lake of the same size and
character as the earlier one. Thus it happens regularly every seventh
year that, as soon as the one island has joined the mainland, another
appears, though no one knows whence it comes.[186]

Footnote 186:

  See _Ériu_, IV, 6. Kuno Meyer knows of no such story in Irish
  folklore, but refers to similar tales told of floating islands in
  Wales and Scotland.

There is another little island in that country, which the natives call
Inhisgluer.[187] There is a large village on this island and also a
church; for the population is about large enough for a parish. But when
people die there, they are not buried in the earth but are set up around
the church along the churchyard fence, and there they stand like living
men with their limbs all shriveled but their hair and nails unmarred.
They never decay and birds never light on them. And every one who is
living is able to recognize his father or grandfather and all the
successive ancestors from whom he has descended.

Footnote 187:

  Inhisgluair, now Inishglory, is on the west coast of Ireland in county
  Mayo. Giraldus mentions the legend but assigns it to a different
  locality; see _Opera_, V, 83 and note. The _Irish Nennius_ (193) adds
  that the nails and hair grow and that unsalted meat does not decay on
  the island. The island is also referred to in the _Reliquiae
  Antiquae_, II, 103.

There is still another quite extensive lake that is called Logri.[188]
In that lake is an islet inhabited by men who live a celibate life and
may be called, as one likes, either monks or hermits; they live there in
such numbers that they fill the island, though at times they are fewer.
It is said concerning this isle that it is healthful and quite free from
diseases, so that people grow aged more slowly there than elsewhere in
the land. But when one does grow very old and sickly and can see the end
of the days allotted by the Lord, he has to be carried to some place on
the mainland to die; for no one can die of disease on the island. One
may sicken and suffer there, but his spirit cannot depart from the body
before he has been removed from the island.

Footnote 188:

  Giraldus refers briefly to this legend. _Opera_, V, 81. The editor of
  Giraldus’ writings adds in a note (_ibid._): “the isle of the living
  was three miles from Roscrea, parish of Cobally, in a lake called Loch
  Cré, now dried up.” Roscrea is near the north edge of Munster not far
  from the Slieve Bloom mountains. See also the _Irish Nennius_, 217.
  Meyer identifies Logri with Loch Ree in west central Ireland. _Ériu_,
  IV, 7.

There is another large lake which the natives call Logherne.[189] In
this lake there is a great abundance of fish of the sort that we call
salmon; and the fish is sent into all the country about in such
quantities that all have plenty for table use. In this lake there are
also many islands, one of which is called Kertinagh by the natives. This
island might very well be inhabited, as far as size is concerned, if men
dared occupy it. But it is reported about this island that the powers of
evil have as great authority over one-half of it as they have in hell
itself. Venturesome men who have tried to settle there have said that
they suffered as great trouble and torment as souls are believed to
suffer in hell. But on the other half of the island there is a church
with a churchyard about it. Both halves are now deserted, however,
though we are told that over the half where the church is the demons
have no power.[190]

Footnote 189:

  Probably Lough Erne, though Loch Uair, now Lough Owel, in Westmeath
  has also been suggested.

Footnote 190:

  Giraldus calls this island the Purgatory of Saint Patrick; but this
  famous place was “on an island in Lough Derg, in county Donegal.”
  _Opera_, V, 82-83 and note. It seems likely, however, that two
  different legends have been confused in the Welshman’s account.

It once happened in that country (and this seems indeed strange) that a
living creature was caught in the forest as to which no one could say
definitely whether it was a man or some other animal; for no one could
get a word from it or be sure that it understood human speech. It had
the human shape, however, in every detail, both as to hands and face and
feet; but the entire body was covered with hair as the beasts are, and
down the back it had a long coarse mane like that of a horse, which fell
to both sides and trailed along the ground when the creature stooped in
walking. I believe I have now recounted most of the marvels that have
their origin in the nature of the land itself, so far as we seem to have
sure knowledge concerning them.




_Son._ I consider it fortunate that I had some curiosity to know about
these matters, for there are no doubt many so ill-informed that they
have never heard about such things. Most men who may hear these accounts
are likely to find them marvelous, though also somewhat informing. But
since I gather from your remarks that there may be certain other things
that are wonderful and seem worth discussing, either native to the land
or having some other origin, I wish to request that nothing be omitted
which you consider worth mentioning, now that we have taken up these

_Father._ There still remain certain things that may be thought
marvelous; these, however, are not native to the land but have
originated in the miraculous powers of holy men, and we know of a truth
that these do exist. Certain things are told, too, of which we cannot be
sure whether they are credible or merely the talk of men, though they
are common rumor in that country; but what follows we know to be true
beyond a doubt.

In that same lake that I mentioned earlier which is called Logri, lies a
little island named Inisclodran. Once there was a holy man named
Diermicius who had a church on the isle near which he lived. Into this
church and churchyard of which he is the patron no female creature is
allowed to enter. All beasts are aware of this, for both birds and other
animals which are without human reason avoid it as carefully as humans
do. And no creature of the female sex ever ventures into that
churchyard, nor could it enter if it tried.[191]

Footnote 191:

  The holy island which is shunned by all females is mentioned by
  Giraldus (_Opera_, V, 80-81), but he fails to give the name of either
  the lake or the island. In the “Wonders of Ireland” (_Irish Nennius_,
  217) this island is also the one on which no one is permitted to die.
  A similar legend is alluded to in _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 107. Meyer
  believes that “the Norse version offers a combination or confusion of
  two different Irish stories, one relating to Diarmait’s churchyard in
  Inis Clothrann, and the other relating to an island on Loch Cré.”
  _Ériu_, IV, 9.

Once there was a holy man in that country named Kevinus, who lived in a
place called Glumelaga.[192] At the time he lived almost as a hermit,
and the event which we shall now relate occurred in his day. It so
befell that a young man was living with him, a kinsman of his who was
his servant, and the saint loved the youth very much. But the lad fell
ill before his eyes, and the malady grew so heavy and severe that death
seemed imminent. It was in the spring time, in the month of March, when
the man’s illness was at the worst. Then it happened that the youth
asked his kinsman Kevinus to give him an apple, saying that he would
find relief from his illness if he got what he asked for. It seemed
unlikely, however, that apples could be gotten in that season, as the
buds had only just begun to swell and sprout forth leaves on the fruit
trees. But because the holy Kevinus grieved sorely over the illness of
his kinsman, and also because he was unable to procure what he had
requested, he knelt down in prayer and implored God to send him somewhat
of those things, so that his kinsman might find the relief that he
yearned for. Having risen from prayer, he stepped outside and looked
around. Near the house stood a willow of large growth. Kevinus looked up
among the branches of the willow as if expecting to find help and
comfort there; then he saw that apples had grown upon the willow, just
as there would be on an apple tree in the proper season. He picked three
apples and gave them to the youth, and after the lad had eaten of these,
his illness began to leave him and he was cured of the malady. But the
willow has ever since continued to keep the gift that God gave it on
that occasion, for every year it bears apples like an apple tree; and
since that day these have always been called Saint Kevinus’ apples.[193]
They have been carried into all parts of Ireland in order that those who
are ill may partake of them; and they seem to have virtue in all human
ailments, for those who eat of them appear to get relief. But they are
not sweet in taste and would not be wanted if men did not prize them for
their healing properties. Many wonderful things have come to pass in
Ireland which certain highly endowed saints have brought about in an
instant; and these, too, must seem very marvelous. Thus far, however, we
have spoken only of such things as have been achieved through a holiness
so great that they remain as a testimony to this day and seem as
wonderful now as on the day when they first occurred. But those other
matters that men regard as surely genuine and speak of as actual facts
we may now proceed to point out.

Footnote 192:

  Glendalough. St. Kevin was the founder of the great abbey of
  Glendalough. The year of his death is variously given as 617 and 618.

Footnote 193:

  For a less detailed account of Saint Kevin and the wonderful willow,
  see Giraldus, _Opera_, V, 113. Cf. _Ériu_, IV, 9.

In that country there is also a place called Themar,[194] which in olden
times was apparently a capital or royal borough; now, however, it is
deserted, for no one dares to dwell there. It was this event that caused
the place to be abandoned: all the people in the land believed that the
king who resided at Themar would always render just decisions and never
do otherwise; although they were heathen in other respects and did not
have the true faith concerning God, they held firmly to their belief
that every case would be decided properly if that king passed upon it;
and never, they thought, could an unrighteous decision come from his
throne. On what seems to have been the highest point of the borough, the
king had a handsome and well built castle in which was a large and
beautiful hall, where he was accustomed to sit in judgment. But once it
happened that certain lawsuits came before the king for decision in
which his friends and acquaintances were interested on the one side, and
he was anxious to support their contentions in every way. But those who
were interested in the suits on the other side were hostile toward him,
and he was their enemy. So the outcome was that the king shaped his
decision more according to his own wish than to justice. But because an
unrighteous judgment had come whence all people expected just decisions
and because of this popular belief, the judgment seat was overturned and
the hall and the castle likewise, even to their very foundations. The
site, too, was overturned, so that those parts of the earth which had
formerly pointed downward were now turned upward; and all the houses and
halls were turned down into the earth and thus it has been ever since.
But because such a great miracle happened there, no one has since dared
to inhabit the place, nor has any king ventured to set up his throne
there; and yet, it is the loveliest place known in all that country. It
is also thought that if men should attempt to rebuild the town, not a
single day would pass without the appearance of some new marvel.

Footnote 194:

  Themar was the ancient royal seat Temhair, now Tara. It seems to be
  alluded to in _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 105. Cf. _Ériu_, IV, 10.

There is still another wonder in that country which must seem quite
incredible; nevertheless, those who dwell in the land affirm the truth
of it and ascribe it to the anger of a holy man. It is told that when
the holy Patricius[195] preached Christianity in that country, there was
one clan which opposed him more stubbornly than any other people in the
land; and these people strove to do insult in many ways both to God and
to the holy man. And when he was preaching the faith to them as to
others and came to confer with them where they held their assemblies,
they adopted the plan of howling at him like wolves. When he saw that he
could do very little to promote his mission among these people, he grew
very wroth and prayed God to send some form of affliction upon them to
be shared by their posterity as a constant reminder of their
disobedience. Later these clansmen did suffer a fitting and severe
though very marvelous punishment, for it is told that all the members of
that clan are changed into wolves for a period and roam through the
woods feeding upon the same food as wolves; but they are worse than
wolves, for in all their wiles they have the wit of men, though they are
as eager to devour men as to destroy other creatures. It is reported
that to some this affliction comes every seventh winter, while in the
intervening years they are men; others suffer it continuously for seven
winters all told and are never stricken again.[196]

Footnote 195:

  Saint Patrick.

Footnote 196:

  See the poem on the “Wonders of Ireland” (_Reliquiae Antiquae_, II,
  105), where this transformation is alluded to. Stories of men who have
  become wolves are also told in Giraldus, _Opera_, V, 101, and in the
  _Irish Nennius_, 205; but these differ widely from the account given
  above. Stories of werewolves and lycanthropy are found in folklore

There is still another matter, that about the men who are called
“gelts,”[197] which must seem wonderful. Men appear to become gelts in
this way: when hostile forces meet and are drawn up in two lines and
both set up a terrifying battle-cry, it happens that timid and youthful
men who have never been in the host before are sometimes seized with
such fear and terror that they lose their wits and run away from the
rest into the forest, where they seek food like beasts and shun the
meeting of men like wild animals. It is also told that if these people
live in the woods for twenty winters in this way, feathers will grow
upon their bodies as on birds; these serve to protect them from frost
and cold, but they have no large feathers to use in flight as birds
have. But so great is their fleetness said to be that it is not possible
for other men or even for greyhounds to come near them; for those men
can dash up into a tree almost as swiftly as apes or squirrels.

Footnote 197:

  Gelt (_gjalti_) is evidently a Celtic loanword, a form of the Irish
  _geilt_, meaning mad or madman. Cf. the _Adventures of Suibhne Geilt_,
  translated by J. G. O’Keefe. Suibhne was an Irish king who lost his
  reason in battle and for years afterwards led a wild life in the
  woods. O’Keefe thinks that the author of the _King’s Mirror_ must have
  heard the tale of Suibhne (pp. xxxiv-xxxv). See also _Ériu_, IV, 12.

There happened something once in the borough called Cloena,[198] which
will also seem marvelous. In this town there is a church dedicated to
the memory of a saint named Kiranus.[199] One Sunday while the populace
was at church hearing mass, it befell that an anchor was dropped from
the sky as if thrown from a ship; for a rope was attached to it, and one
of the flukes of the anchor got caught in the arch above the church
door. The people all rushed out of the church and marveled much as their
eyes followed the rope upward. They saw a ship with men on board
floating before the anchor cable; and soon they saw a man leap overboard
and dive down to the anchor as if to release it. The movements of his
hands and feet and all his actions appeared like those of a man swimming
in the water. When he came down to the anchor, he tried to loosen it,
but the people immediately rushed up and attempted to seize him. In this
church where the anchor was caught, there is a bishop’s throne. The
bishop was present when this occurred and forbade his people to hold the
man; for, said he, it might prove fatal as when one is held under water.
As soon as the man was released, he hurried back up to the ship; and
when he was up the crew cut the rope and the ship sailed away out of
sight. But the anchor has remained in the church since then as a
testimony to this event.[200]

Footnote 198:

  Kuno Meyer identifies Cloena with Clonmacnois. _Ériu_, IV, 12.
  Clonmacnois is in King’s county eight miles southwest of Athlone.

Footnote 199:

  St. Ciaran (Kiranus) of Clonmacnois was the founder of a great
  monastery there. The year of his death is given as 547.

Footnote 200:

  In the _Irish Nennius_ (211-213) the following version of this tale
  appears. “Congalach, son of Maelmithig, was at the fair of Teltown on
  a certain day, when he saw a ship (sailing) along in the air. One of
  the crew cast a dart at a salmon. The dart fell down in the presence
  of the gathering, and a man came out of the ship after it. When he
  seized its end from above, a man from below seized it from below. Upon
  which the man from above said: ‘I am being drowned,’ said he. ‘Let him
  go,’ said Congalach; and he is allowed to go up, and then he goes from
  them swimming.” The translation is by Kuno Meyer: _Ériu_, IV, 13.
  Congalach was an Irish king (944-956); Teltown is in county Meath. The
  legend is alluded to in _Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 105, with some
  difference in details.

I believe we have now mentioned all the features of this country that
are most worth discussing. But there is one other matter that I can tell
about, if you wish, for the sport or amusement of it. Long time ago a
clownish fellow lived in that country; he was a Christian, however, and
his name was Klefsan.[201] It is told of this one that there never was a
man who, when he saw Klefsan, was not compelled to laugh at his amusing
and absurd remarks. Even though a man was heavy at heart, he could not
restrain his laughter, we are told, when he heard that man talk. But
Klefsan fell ill and died and was buried in the churchyard like other
men. He lay long in the earth until the flesh had decayed from his
bones, and his bones, too, were largely crumbled. Then it came to pass
that other corpses were buried in the same churchyard, and graves were
dug so near the place where Klefsan lay that his skull was unearthed,
and it was whole. They set it up on a high rock in the churchyard, where
it has remained ever since. But whoever comes to that place and sees
that skull and looks into the opening where the mouth and tongue once
were immediately begins to laugh, even though he were in a sorrowful
mood before he caught sight of that skull. Thus his dead bones make
almost as many people laugh as he himself did when alive. Now I know of
no further facts about that country which appear to be suitable
materials with which to lengthen a talk like this.

Footnote 201:

  A somewhat different version of this tale is found in the poem on the
  “Wonders of Ireland” (_Reliquiae Antiquae_, II, 105). See also _Ériu_,
  IV, 14.



                           WHALES; THE KRAKEN

_Son._ Now since we have discussed everything in Ireland that may be
counted marvelous, let us have a talk about Iceland and the wonders that
are found in the Icelandic seas.

_Father._ Aside from the whales in the ocean, there are, I should say,
but few things in the Icelandic waters which are worth mentioning or
discussing. The whales vary much both in kind and size. Those that are
called blubber-cutters—and they are the most numerous—grow to a length
of twenty ells;[202] a great many of them are, however, so small that
they measure only ten ells; the rest are in between, each having its own
size. These fishes have neither teeth nor whalebone, nor are they
dangerous either to ships or men, but are rather disposed to avoid the
fishermen. Nevertheless, they are constantly being caught and driven to
land by the hundreds, and where many are caught, they provide much food
for men.[203] There are also other varieties of small whales, such as
the porpoise, which is never longer than five ells, and the caaing
whale, which has a length of seven ells only.

Footnote 202:

  An ell was approximately eighteen inches.

Footnote 203:

  Whale fishing is an ancient industry in Norway; it is mentioned as
  early as the ninth century in the writings of Alfred the Great. See
  Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, I, 172.

There is another kind of whales called the grampus, which grow no longer
than twelve ells and have teeth in proportion to their size very much as
dogs have. They are also ravenous for other whales just as dogs are for
other beasts. They gather in flocks and attack large whales, and, when a
large one is caught alone, they worry and bite it till it succumbs. It
is likely, however, that this one, while defending itself with mighty
blows, kills a large number of them before it perishes.

There are two other varieties, the beaked whale and the “hog whale,” the
largest of which are not more than twenty-five ells in length. These are
not fit to be eaten, for the fat that is drawn from them cannot be
digested either by man or by any beast that may partake of it. For it
runs through them and even through wood; and after it has stood a while,
scarcely any vessel can contain it, even if made of horn. There are
certain other types which are worth a passing mention only, namely the
“raven whale” and the white whale.[204] The white whales are so named
because of their snow white color, while most other varieties are black,
except that some of them have spots, such as the “shield whale,” the
“spear whale,” and the baleen whale. All these kinds that I have just
mentioned may be freely eaten and many other kinds too.

Footnote 204:

  Probably the beluga, also called white whale. The other varieties
  named in this paragraph, excepting the beaked whale and the baleen
  whale seem not to have been identified with any known types of whales.
  It has been suggested that some of them may have been sharks. See
  Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, II, 243.

There is another sort of whales called the “fish driver,”[205] which is
perhaps the most useful of all to men; for it drives the herring and all
other kinds of fish in toward the land from the ocean outside, as if
appointed and sent by the Lord for this purpose. This is its duty and
office as long as the fishermen keep the peace on the fishing grounds.
Its nature is also peculiar in this, that it seemingly knows how to
spare both ships and men. But when the fishermen fall to quarreling and
fighting, so that blood is spilt, this whale seems able to perceive it;
for it moves in between the land and the fish and chases the shoals back
into the ocean, just as it earlier had driven them in toward the men.
These whales are not more than thirty ells in length, or forty at the
very largest. They would provide good food, if men were allowed to hunt
them, but no one is permitted to catch or harm them, since they are of
such great and constant service to men.

Footnote 205:

  The editor of the Sorö edition identifies this with the nor-caper
  (_Balæna glacialis_), though he thinks it possible that the fin-fish
  (_Balænoptera laticeps_) may be meant (p. 125).

Another kind is called the sperm whale. These are toothed whales, though
the teeth are barely large enough to be carved into fair-sized knife
handles or chess men. They are neither fierce nor savage, but rather of
a gentle nature, and so far as possible they avoid the fishermen. In
size they are about like those that I mentioned last. Their teeth are so
numerous that more than seventy can be found in the head of a single
whale of this sort.

Still another species is called the right whale;[206] this has no fins
along the spine and is about as large as the sort that we mentioned
last. Sea-faring men fear it very much, for it is by nature disposed to
sport with ships.

Footnote 206:

  _Balæna mysticetus_; also called bowhead or Greenland whale.

There is another kind called the Greenland shark,[207] which is peculiar
in this, that it has caul and fat in the abdomen like cattle. The
largest of these whales grow to a length of thirty ells at most.

Footnote 207:

  It is possible that the basking sharks are meant rather than the
  Greenland sharks; they are larger than the Greenland sharks, but do
  not seem to be common in the Arctic waters.

There are certain varieties that are fierce and savage toward men and
are constantly seeking to destroy them at every chance. One of these is
called the “horse whale,” and another the “red comb.”[208] They are very
voracious and malicious and never grow tired of slaying men. They roam
about in all the seas looking for ships, and when they find one they
leap up, for in that way they are able to sink and destroy it the more
quickly. These fishes are unfit for human food; being the natural
enemies of mankind, they are, in fact, loathsome. The largest of this
type never grow more than thirty or forty ells in length.

Footnote 208:

  The “horse whale” and the “red comb” have not been identified.

There is still another sort called the narwhal, which may not be eaten
for fear of disease, for men fall ill and die if they eat of it. This
whale is not large in size; it never grows longer than twenty ells. It
is not at all savage but rather tries to avoid fishermen. It has teeth
in its head, all small but one which projects from the front of the
upper jaw. This tooth is handsome, well formed, and straight as an onion
stem. It may grow to a length of seven ells and is as even and smooth as
if shaped with a tool. It projects straight forward from the head when
the whale is traveling; but sharp and straight though it is, it is of no
service as a defensive weapon; for the whale is so fond and careful of
its tusk that it allows nothing to come near it. I know of no other
varieties of whales that are unfit for human food, only these five that
I have now enumerated: the two that I mentioned first were the beaked
whale and the “hog whale;” the three mentioned later were the “horse
whale,” the “red comb,” and the narwhal.

There are certain varieties of even greater size which I have not yet
described; and all those that I shall now discuss may be eaten by men.
Some of them are dangerous for men to meet, while others are gentle and
peaceable. One of these is called humpback; this fish is large and very
dangerous to ships. It has a habit of striking at the vessel with its
fins and of lying and floating just in front of the prow where sailors
travel. Though the ship turn aside, the whale will continue to keep in
front, so there is no choice but to sail upon it; but if a ship does
sail upon it, the whale will throw the vessel and destroy all on board.
The largest of these fishes grow to a length of seventy or eighty ells;
they are good to eat.

Then there is that kind which is called the Greenland whale.[209] This
fish grows to a length of eighty or even ninety ells and is as large
around as it is long; for a rope that is stretched the length of one
will just reach around it where it is bulkiest. Its head is so large
that it comprises fully a third of the entire bulk. This fish is very
cleanly in choice of food; for people say that it subsists wholly on
mist and rain and whatever falls into the sea from the air above. When
one is caught and its entrails are examined, nothing is found in its
abdomen like what is found in other fishes that take food, for the
abdomen is empty and clean. It cannot readily open and close its mouth,
for the whalebone which grows in it will rise[210] and stand upright in
the mouth when it is opened wide; and consequently whales of this type
often perish because of their inability to close the mouth. This whale
rarely gives trouble to ships. It has no teeth and is fat and good to

Footnote 209:

  This is another name for the right whale described above; the author’s
  classification in this case must have been based on size only.

Footnote 210:

  The author seems to believe that the whalebone rises from the lower
  jaw or the floor of the mouth; as a matter of fact it is fastened to
  the palate.

Then there is a kind of whale called the rorqual, and this fish is the
best of all for food. It is of a peaceful disposition and does not
bother ships, though it may swim very close to them. This fish is of
great size and length; it is reported that the largest thus far caught
have measured thirteen times ten ells, that is, one hundred and thirty
ells by the ten-count. Because of its quiet and peaceful behavior it
often falls a prey to whale fishers. It is better for eating and smells
better than any of the other fishes that we have talked about, though it
is said to be very fat; it has no teeth. It has been asserted, too, that
if one can get some of the sperm of this whale and be perfectly sure
that it came from this sort and no other, it will be found a most
effective remedy for eye troubles, leprosy, ague, headache, and for
every other ill that afflicts mankind. Sperm from other whales also
makes good medicine, though not so good as this sort. And now I have
enumerated nearly all the varieties of whales that are hunted by men.

There is a fish not yet mentioned which it is scarcely advisable to
speak about on account of its size, which to most men will seem
incredible. There are, moreover, but very few who can tell anything
definite about it, inasmuch as it is rarely seen by men; for it almost
never approaches the shore or appears where fishermen can see it, and I
doubt that this sort of fish is very plentiful in the sea. In our
language it is usually called the “kraken.” I can say nothing definite
as to its length in ells, for on those occasions when men have seen it,
it has appeared more like an island than a fish. Nor have I heard that
one has ever been caught or found dead. It seems likely that there are
but two in all the ocean and that these beget no offspring, for I
believe it is always the same ones that appear. Nor would it be well for
other fishes if they were as numerous as the other whales, seeing that
they are so immense and need so much food. It is said, that when these
fishes want something to eat, they are in the habit of giving forth a
violent belch, which brings up so much food that all sorts of fish in
the neighborhood, both large and small, will rush up in the hope of
getting nourishment and good fare. Meanwhile the monster keeps it mouth
open, and inasmuch as its opening is about as wide as a sound or fjord,
the fishes cannot help crowding in in great numbers. But as soon as its
mouth and belly are full, the monster closes its mouth and thus catches
and shuts in all the fishes that just previously had rushed in eagerly
to seek food.[211]

Footnote 211:

  The kraken myth probably came to the North with the legend of St.
  Brendan, an Irish abbot, who was believed to have made a journey into
  the Atlantic about the middle of the sixth century. The oldest extant
  form of the legend, the _Navigatio Brendani_, dates from the eleventh
  century. For earlier versions of the myth see Nansen, _In Northern
  Mists_, II, 234.

Now we have mentioned and described most of those things in the
Icelandic waters that would be counted wonderful, and among them a few
that are more plentiful in other seas than in those which we have just



                         THE WONDERS OF ICELAND

_Son._ Now since we have named most of the species of fish that roam
about in the ocean, those that are worth mentioning or discussing, I
should like to hear about those features of the land itself that are
most worthy of mention. What do you think of the extraordinary fire
which rages constantly in that country? Does it rise out of some natural
peculiarity of the land, or can it be that it has its origin in the
spirit world? And what do you think about those terrifying earthquakes
that can occur there, or those marvelous lakes, or the ice which covers
all the higher levels?

_Father._ As to the ice that is found in Iceland, I am inclined to
believe that it is a penalty which the land suffers for lying so close
to Greenland; for it is to be expected that severe cold would come
thence, since Greenland is ice-clad beyond all other lands. Now since
Iceland gets so much cold from that side and receives but little heat
from the sun, it necessarily has an over-abundance of ice on the
mountain ridges. But concerning the extraordinary fires which burn
there, I scarcely know what to say, for they possess a strange nature. I
have heard that in Sicily there is an immense fire of unusual power
which consumes both earth and wood. I have also heard that Saint Gregory
has stated in his _Dialogues_[212] that there are places of torment[213]
in the fires of Sicily. But men are much more inclined to believe that
there must be such places of torment in those fires in Iceland. For the
fires in Sicily feed on living things, as they consume both earth and
wood. Trees live; they grow and put forth green leaves; but they dry up
and wither when they begin to die; therefore, since they die when they
wither, they must be called living while they are green. The earth, too,
must be called living, inasmuch as it sometimes yields much fruitage;
and as soon as one crop is fallen into decay, it gives new growth. All
living creatures, too, are formed of earth, and therefore it surely must
be called living. Both these things, earth and wood, the fires of Sicily
can burn and consume as nourishment. The fire of Iceland, however, will
burn neither earth nor wood, though these be cast upon it; but it feeds
upon stone and hard rock and draws vigor from these as other fires do
from dry wood. And never is rock or stone so hard but that this fire
will melt it like wax and then burn it like fat oil. But when a tree is
cast upon the fire, it will not burn but be scorched only. Now since
this fire feeds on dead things only and rejects everything that other
fires devour, it must surely be said that it is a dead fire; and it
seems most likely that it is the fire of hell, for in hell all things
are dead.

Footnote 212:

  _Dialogorum Libri_ IV. Pope Gregory died in 604. The Icelandic version
  of Gregory’s _Dialogues_ is published in _Heilagra Manna Sögur_, I.

Footnote 213:

  It is difficult to determine whether the author uses “places of
  torment” as a term for hell or for purgatory; it seems probable,
  however, that in this case hell is meant.

I am also disposed to believe that certain bodies of water in Iceland
must be of the same dead nature as the fire that we have described. For
there are springs which boil furiously all the time both winter and
summer. At times the boiling is so violent that the heated water is
thrown high into the air. But whatever is laid near the spring at the
time of spouting, whether it be cloth or wood or anything else that the
water may touch when it falls down again, will turn to stone. This seems
to lead to the conclusion that this water must be dead, seeing that it
gives a dead character to whatever it sprinkles and moistens; for the
nature of stone is dead. But if the fire should not be dead but have its
origin in some peculiarity of the country, the most reasonable theory as
to the formation of the land seems to be that there must be many veins,
empty passages, and wide cavities in its foundations. At times it may
happen that these passages and cavities will be so completely packed
with air, either by the winds or by the power of the roaring breakers,
that the pressure of the blast cannot be confined, and this may be the
origin of those great earthquakes that occur in that country.[214] Now
if this should seem a reasonable or plausible explanation, it may be
that the great and powerful activity of the air within the foundations
of the earth also causes those great fires to be lit and to appear,
which burst forth in various parts of the land.[215]

Footnote 214:

  For the history of this theory see above, pp. 17–18.

Footnote 215:

  The number of volcanoes in Iceland is variously given, but the more
  reliable authorities give 107.

Now it must not be regarded as settled that the facts are as we have
just said; we have merely tried to bring together and compare various
opinions in order to determine what seems most reasonable. For we see
that all fire originates in force. If a hard stone is stricken against
hard iron, fire comes out of the iron and out of the energy of the
stroke when they clash. You can also rub pieces of wood against each
other in such a way that their antagonism will produce fire. It also
happens frequently that two winds rising at the same time will go
against each other; and when they meet in the air, heavy blows fall, and
these blows give forth a great fire which spreads widely over the
sky.[216] At times it also happens that this fire is driven to the earth
where it causes much damage by burning houses and sometimes forests and
ships at sea. But all the fires that I have now named, whether they come
from iron, or winds colliding in the air, or any of those mighty forces
which can produce fire, will consume trees, forests, and earth: while
the fire which we discussed earlier and which appears in Iceland refuses
all these things, as I have already shown. Now these facts lead to this
conclusion as to its nature, that it is more likely to have arisen from
dead things or from like sources, than those other fires that we have
now discussed. And in case it is as we have imagined, it is likely that
the great earthquakes of that country originate in the power of those
mighty fires that well through the bowels of the land.

Footnote 216:

  The common belief of medieval scientists was that lightning was caused
  by the collision of clouds.



                     THE VOLCANIC FIRES OF ICELAND

_Son._ I should like very much, with your permission, to ask further
about this fire. You stated earlier in your remarks that Gregory has
written in his _Dialogues_ that there are places of torment in Sicily;
but to me it seems more likely that those places are in Iceland. You
also said that so vast are the fires in the bowels of the land that
earthquakes arise out of their violent movements; but if the fires are
so destructive to stone and rock that it melts them like wax and feeds
wholly upon them, I should imagine that it would soon consume all the
foundations beneath the land and all the mountains as well. Though you
may think I am asking childish questions about these things, still I
entreat you to give indulgent replies; for, of course, one can ask many
questions that reveal youth rather than wisdom.

_Father._ I have no doubt that there are places of torment in Iceland
even in places where there is no burning; for in that country the power
of frost and ice is as boundless as that of fire. There are those
springs of boiling water which we have mentioned earlier. There are also
ice-cold streams which flow out of the glaciers with such violence that
the earth and the neighboring mountains tremble; for when water flows
with such a swift and furious current, mountains will shake because of
its vast mass and overpowering strength. And no men can go out upon
those river banks to view them unless they bring long ropes to be tied
around those who wish to explore, while farther away others sit holding
fast the rope, so that they may be ready and able to pull them back if
the turbulence of the current should make them dizzy. Now it seems
evident to me that wherever such a great violence appears and in such
terrible forms, there surely must be places of torment. And God has made
such great and terrifying things manifest upon earth to man, not only
that men may be the more vigilant, and may reflect that these tortures
are indeed heavy to think upon, although after they depart this life
they will have to suffer those that they see while still on earth; but
even more to make them reflect that greater still are the things
invisible, which they are not permitted to see. But these things are a
testimony, that it is not untrue what we have been told, that those men
who will not beware of evil deeds and unrighteousness, while they live
on earth, may expect to suffer torment when they leave this world. For
many a simple-minded man might think that all this was mere deception
unworthy of notice and told merely to terrify, if there were no such
evidence as what we have now pointed out. But now no one can deny what
he sees before his own eyes, since we hear exactly the same things about
the tortures of hell as those which one can see on the island called
Iceland: for there are vast and boundless fire, overpowering frost and
glaciers, boiling springs, and violent ice-cold streams.[217]

Footnote 217:

  The belief that hell was a region of extreme cold as well as of heat
  was common in the middle ages. The author of the _King’s Mirror_
  probably derived his ideas of hell in part from the Old Norse version
  of the _Elucidarium_ of Honorius of Autun. See _Annaler for nordisk
  Oldkyndighed_, 1857, 292.

But what you suggested just now, namely that this fire is likely to melt
and consume the mountains and the foundations of the earth, so that the
entire land will be destroyed, that cannot come to pass before the time
that God has appointed. For neither this created force nor any other
governs itself; but all things are compelled to move as God’s providence
has ordained from the beginning. And you will understand this better if
I take up certain events that can be used to illustrate these things.

When the lord of death wished to tempt Job, he had no power to do so
before he had asked permission; and when this had been granted, he did
not have power to carry out his will farther than the permission
extended; for he would gladly have slain Job at once, if that had been
allowed. He was allowed to take away Job’s wealth and he took it all at
the first stroke; but he was not permitted to destroy the man himself.
As he yearned for permission to tempt him even more severely than he had
already, he was suffered to carry out his will upon Job’s body and upon
all the possessions that belonged to him. But he was not permitted to
separate soul from body, before the hour should come that He had fixed,
Who has all power over life and destiny. But as soon as Satan had
received permission to carry out his desires upon Job, he showed
immediately how eager he was to act in such matters as were within his
power. For it is written that Satan took away from Job his abundant
wealth and his seven sons and three daughters, and smote his body with
terrible leprosy from the crown to the sole of his feet.

Now the meaning of this (which ought to be noted carefully in our minds)
is that the Lord of life has power over all things and is kindly
disposed; while the lord of death has an evil will, but has power over
nothing, except as he receives authority beforehand from Him Who rules
over all, Who is Almighty God. The devil can, therefore, injure no one
to such an extent that he is consumed either by the fires of death which
he has kindled and continues to maintain by means of dreadful
earthquakes, or by such other fiendish enmity or malignity as he
delights in. For he is allowed to do nothing more than the task at hand,
as is evident from what I have just related about the case of Job. And
if it should be thought necessary to cite several examples in one
speech, it will be found that instances of this sort are both plentiful
and convincing.




_Son._ It seems evident that the more examples I can hear you cite of
the sort that leads to knowledge, the better it will be; and from the
instance that you have just given I can see clearly that if Satan was
not able to carry out his will against one man, except as far as he was
permitted, he will surely have even less power to carry out his desires
against many thousands, either by his own effort or through a servant,
except as far as permission has been given. Now if we are to go on with
this entertaining conversation, as we have been doing, I should like to
know, whether there are any other things about this island which you
think are worth discussing or which seem remarkable.

_Father._ We have already mentioned nearly everything in Iceland that is
really worth noticing; but there are a few other things which I may
discuss, if you wish. In that country there is an abundance of the ore
that iron is made of: it is called “swamp-ore” in the speech of the
people there, and the same term is used among ourselves. It has happened
at times that great deposits of this ore have been found, and men have
prepared to go thither the next day to smelt it and make iron of it,
only to find it gone, and none can tell what becomes of it. This is
called the “ore-marvel” in that country. There is still another marvel
that men wonder at. It is reported that in Iceland there are springs
which men call ale-springs. They are so called because the water that
runs from them smells more like ale than water; and when one drinks of
it, it does not fill as other water does, but is easily digested and
goes into the system like ale. There are several springs in that country
that are called ale-springs; but one is the best and most famous of all;
this one is found in the valley called Hiterdale.[218] It is told about
this spring, or the water flowing from it, that it tastes exactly like
ale and is very abundant. It is also said that if drunk to excess, it
goes into one’s head. If a house is built over the spring it will turn
aside from the building and break forth somewhere outside. It is further
held that people may drink as much as they like at the spring; but if
they carry the water away, it will soon lose its virtue and is then no
better than other water, or not so good. Now we have discussed many and
even trifling things, because in that country they are thought
marvelous; and I cannot recall anything else in Iceland that is worth

Footnote 218:

  Mineral springs yielding carbonated waters are found in Iceland,
  though they are not numerous. The Hiterdale spring is probably
  mythical. See Herrmann, _Island_, I, 66.



                     MONSTERS, SEALS, AND WALRUSES

_Son._ Now that we have entered upon this interesting conversation and
have spoken of the marvels that are found in Iceland and the Icelandic
seas, let us close it by calling to mind what is worth noting in the
waters of Greenland or in the land itself and the wonders that are to be
seen there.

_Father._ It is reported that the waters about Greenland are infested
with monsters, though I do not believe that they have been seen very
frequently. Still, people have stories to tell about them, so men must
have seen or caught sight of them. It is reported that the monster
called merman is found in the seas of Greenland. This monster is tall
and of great size and rises straight out of the water. It appears to
have shoulders, neck and head, eyes and mouth, and nose and chin like
those of a human being; but above the eyes and the eyebrows it looks
more like a man with a peaked helmet on his head. It has shoulders like
a man’s but no hands. Its body apparently grows narrower from the
shoulders down, so that the lower down it has been observed, the more
slender it has seemed to be. But no one has ever seen how the lower end
is shaped, whether it terminates in a fin like a fish or is pointed like
a pole. The form of this prodigy has, therefore, looked much like an
icicle. No one has ever observed it closely enough to determine whether
its body has scales like a fish or skin like a man. Whenever the monster
has shown itself, men have always been sure that a storm would follow.
They have also noted how it has turned when about to plunge into the
waves and in what direction it has fallen; if it has turned toward the
ship and has plunged in that direction, the sailors have felt sure that
lives would be lost on that ship; but whenever it has turned away from
the vessel and has plunged in that direction, they have felt confident
that their lives would be spared, even though they should encounter
rough waters and severe storms.

Another prodigy called mermaid[219] has also been seen there. This
appears to have the form of a woman from the waist upward, for it has
large nipples on its breast like a woman, long hands and heavy hair, and
its neck and head are formed in every respect like those of a human
being. The monster is said to have large hands and its fingers are not
parted but bound together by a web like that which joins the toes of
water fowls. Below the waist line it has the shape of a fish with scales
and tail and fins. It is said to have this in common with the one
mentioned before, that it rarely appears except before violent storms.
Its behavior is often somewhat like this: it will plunge into the waves
and will always reappear with fish in its hands; if it then turns toward
the ship, playing with the fishes or throwing them at the ship, the men
have fears that they will suffer great loss of life. The monster is
described as having a large and terrifying face, a sloping forehead and
wide brows, a large mouth and wrinkled cheeks. But if it eats the fishes
or throws them into the sea away from the ship, the crews have good
hopes that their lives will be spared, even though they should meet
severe storms.

Footnote 219:

  The belief that mermaids lived in the Arctic waters was one that was
  long held by European navigators. Henry Hudson reports that on his
  voyage into the Arctic in 1608 (June 15) some of his men saw a
  mermaid. “This morning one of our companie looking over boord saw a
  mermaid, and calling up some of the companie to see her, one more came
  up and by that time shee was come close to the ships side, looking
  earnestly on the men: a little after a sea came and overturned her:
  from the navill upward her backe and breasts were like a womans, as
  they say that saw her; her body as big as one of us; her skin very
  white, and long haire hanging downe behind of colour blacke: in her
  going downe they saw her tayle, which was like the tayle of a porposse
  and speckled like a macrell.” Asher, _Henry Hudson_, 28.

Now there is still another marvel in the seas of Greenland, the facts of
which I do not know precisely. It is called “sea hedges,”[220] and it
has the appearance as if all the waves and tempests of the ocean have
been collected into three heaps, out of which three billows are formed.
These hedge in the entire sea, so that no opening can be seen anywhere;
they are higher than lofty mountains and resemble steep, overhanging
cliffs. In a few cases only have the men been known to escape who were
upon the seas when such a thing occurred. But the stories of these
happenings must have arisen from the fact that God has always preserved
some of those who have been placed in these perils, and their accounts
have afterwards spread abroad, passing from man to man. It may be that
the tales are told as the first ones related them, or the stories may
have grown larger or shrunk somewhat. Consequently, we have to speak
cautiously about this matter, for of late we have met but very few who
have escaped this peril and are able to give us tidings about it.

Footnote 220:

  The Danish scientist I. Japetus S. Steenstrup has shown in his paper
  “Hvad er Kongespeilets Havgjerdinger?” that this phenomenon is
  produced by sea quakes. The three huge waves did not form a triangle
  as the author’s account would seem to imply; they were three
  successive waves rolling in toward the shore. Steenstrup argues
  chiefly from the behavior of sea quakes in modern times. _Aarböger for
  nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie_, 1871.

In that same ocean there are many other marvels, though they cannot be
reckoned among the prodigies. As soon as one has passed over the deepest
part of the ocean, he will encounter such masses of ice in the sea, that
I know no equal of it anywhere else in all the earth. Sometimes these
ice fields are as flat as if they were frozen on the sea itself. They
are about four or five ells thick and extend so far out from the land
that it may mean a journey of four days or more to travel across them.
There is more ice to the northeast and north of the land than to the
south, southwest, and west; consequently, whoever wishes to make the
land should sail around it to the southwest and west, till he has come
past all those places where ice may be looked for, and approach the land
on that side.[221] It has frequently happened that men have sought to
make the land too soon and, as a result, have been caught in the ice
floes. Some of those who have been caught have perished; but others have
got out again, and we have met some of these and have heard their
accounts and tales. But all those who have been caught in these ice
drifts have adopted the same plan: they have taken their small boats and
have dragged them up on the ice with them, and in this way have sought
to reach land; but the ship and everything else of value had to be
abandoned and was lost. Some have had to spend four days or five upon
the ice before reaching land, and some even longer.

Footnote 221:

  The settled portion of Greenland is in the southern part on the west
  coast. The author wishes to say that a ship sailing from Norway to
  Greenland must round Cape Farewell and proceed some distance up the
  west coast before trying to make land. For a discussion of the
  conditions of settlement in Greenland and the navigation of the waters
  about Greenland, see Hovgaard, _The Voyages of the Norsemen to
  America_, c. ii; Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, cc. vii, viii.

These ice floes have peculiar habits. Sometimes they lie as quiet as can
be, though cut apart by creeks or large fjords; at other times they
travel with a speed so swift and violent that a ship with a fair wind
behind is not more speedy; and when once in motion, they travel as often
against the wind as with it. There is also ice of a different shape
which the Greenlanders call icebergs. In appearance these resemble high
mountains rising out of the sea; they never mingle with other ice but
stand by themselves.

In those waters there are also many of those species of whales which we
have already described. It is claimed that there are all sorts of seals,
too, in those seas, and that they have a habit of following the ice, as
if abundant food would never be wanting there. These are the species of
seals that are found there. One is called the “corse seal;” its length
is never more than four ells. There is another sort called the
“erken-seal,”[222] which grows to a length of five ells or six at the
very longest. Then there is a third kind which is called the “flett
seal,” which grows to about the same length as those mentioned above.
There is still a fourth kind, called the bearded seal, which
occasionally grows to a length of six ells or even seven. In addition
there are various smaller species, one of which is called the
saddleback;[223] it has this name because it does not swim on the belly
like other seals but on the back or side; its length is never more than
four ells. There remains the smallest kind, which is called the “short
seal” and is not more than two ells in length. It has a peculiar nature;
for it is reported that these seals can pass under flat ice masses four
or even five ells thick and can blow up through them; consequently they
can have large openings where-ever they want them.

Footnote 222:

  This is called _haverkn_ in modern Norse and seems to be the same as
  the grey seal: _Halichoerus gryphus_. See Nansen, _In Northern Mists_,
  II. 155.

Footnote 223:

  Also called the harp seal: _Phoca Grœnlandica_.

There still remains another species which the Greenlanders count among
the whales, but which, it seems to me, ought rather to be classed with
the seals.[224] These are called walrus and grow to a length of fourteen
ells or fifteen at the very highest. In shape this fish resembles the
seal both as to hair, head, skin, and the webbed feet behind; it also
has the swimming feet in front like the seal. Its flesh like that of
other seals must not be eaten on fast days. Its appearance is
distinguished from that of other seals in that it has, in addition to
the other small teeth, two large and long tusks, which are placed in the
front part of the upper jaw and sometimes grow to a length of nearly an
ell and a half. Its hide is thick and good to make ropes of; it can be
cut into leather strips of such strength that sixty or more men may pull
at one rope without breaking it. The seals that we have just discussed
are called fish because they find their food in the sea and subsist upon
other fishes. They may be freely eaten, though not like the whales, for
whale flesh may be eaten on fast days like other fish food, while these
fishes may be eaten only on the days when flesh food is allowed. Now I
know of nothing else in the waters of Greenland which seems worth
mentioning or reporting,—only those things that we have just discussed.

Footnote 224:

  This observation accords with modern scientific classification.




_Son._ These things must seem wonderful to all who may hear of
them,—both what is told about the fishes and that about the monsters
which are said to exist in those waters. Now I understand that this
ocean must be more tempestuous than all other seas; and therefore I
think it strange that it is covered with ice both in winter and in
summer, more than all other seas are. I am also curious to know why men
should be so eager to fare thither, where there are such great perils to
beware of, and what one can look for in that country which can be turned
to use or pleasure. With your permission I also wish to ask what the
people who inhabit those lands live upon; what the character of the
country is, whether it is ice-clad like the ocean or free from ice even
though the sea be frozen; and whether corn grows in that country as in
other lands. I should also like to know whether you regard it as
mainland or as an island, and whether there are any beasts or such other
things in that country as there are in other lands.

_Father._ The answer to your query as to what people go to seek in that
country and why they fare thither through such great perils is to be
sought in man’s threefold nature. One motive is fame and rivalry, for it
is in the nature of man to seek places where great dangers may be met,
and thus to win fame. A second motive is curiosity, for it is also in
man’s nature to wish to see and experience the things that he has heard
about, and thus to learn whether the facts are as told or not. The third
is desire for gain; for men seek wealth wherever they have heard that
gain is to be gotten, though, on the other hand, there may be great
dangers too. But in Greenland it is this way, as you probably know, that
whatever comes from other lands is high in price, for this land lies so
distant from other countries that men seldom visit it. And everything
that is needed to improve the land must be purchased abroad, both iron
and all the timber used in building houses. In return for their wares
the merchants bring back the following products: buckskin, or hides,
sealskins, and rope of the kind that we talked about earlier which is
called “leather rope” and is cut from the fish called walrus, and also
the teeth of the walrus.

As to whether any sort of grain can grow there, my belief is that the
country draws but little profit from that source. And yet there are men
among those who are counted the wealthiest and most prominent who have
tried to sow grain as an experiment; but the great majority in that
country do not know what bread is, having never seen it. You have also
asked about the extent of the land and whether it is mainland or an
island; but I believe that few know the size of the land, though all
believe that it is continental and connected with some mainland,
inasmuch as it evidently contains a number of such animals as are known
to live on the mainland but rarely on islands. Hares and wolves are very
plentiful and there are multitudes of reindeer. It seems to be generally
held, however, that these animals do not inhabit islands, except where
men have brought them in; and everybody seems to feel sure that no one
has brought them to Greenland, but that they must have run thither from
other mainlands. There are bears, too, in that region; they are white,
and people think they are native to the country, for they differ very
much in their habits from the black bears that roam the forests. These
kill horses, cattle, and other beasts to feed upon; but the white bear
of Greenland wanders most of the time about on the ice in the sea,
hunting seals and whales and feeding upon them. It is also as skillful a
swimmer as any seal or whale.

In reply to your question whether the land thaws out or remains icebound
like the sea, I can state definitely that only a small part of the land
thaws out, while all the rest remains under the ice. But nobody knows
whether the land is large or small, because all the mountain ranges and
all the valleys are covered with ice, and no opening has been found
anywhere. But it is quite evident that there are such openings, either
along the shore or in the valleys that lie between the mountains,
through which beasts can find a way; for they could not run thither from
other lands, unless they should find open roads through the ice and the
soil thawed out. Men have often tried to go up into the country and
climb the highest mountains in various places to look about and learn
whether any land could be found that was free from ice and habitable.
But nowhere have they found such a place, except what is now occupied,
which is a little strip along the water’s edge.

There is much marble in those parts that are inhabited; it is variously
colored, both red and blue and streaked with green. There are also many
large hawks in the land, which in other countries would be counted very
precious,—white falcons, and they are more numerous there than in any
other country; but the natives do not know how to make any use of

Footnote 225:

  In the thirteenth century, the century of the _King’s Mirror_,
  falconry was a favorite sport of the European nobility and there seems
  to have been some demand for Norwegian hawks. In the Close Rolls of
  the reign of Henry III there are allusions to gifts of hawks sent by
  the king of Norway to the English king. See above p. 29.



                       THE PRODUCTS OF GREENLAND

_Son._ You stated earlier in your talk that no grain grows in that
country; therefore I now want to ask you what the people who inhabit the
land live on, how large the population is, what sort of food they have,
and whether they have accepted Christianity.

_Father._ The people in that country are few, for only a small part is
sufficiently free from ice to be habitable; but the people are all
Christians and have churches and priests. If the land lay near to some
other country it might be reckoned a third of a bishopric; but the
Greenlanders now have their own bishop,[226] as no other arrangement is
possible on account of the great distance from other people. You ask
what the inhabitants live on in that country since they sow no grain;
but men can live on other food than bread.[227] It is reported that the
pasturage is good and that there are large and fine farms in Greenland.
The farmers raise cattle and sheep in large numbers and make butter and
cheese in great quantities. The people subsist chiefly on these foods
and on beef; but they also eat the flesh of various kinds of game, such
as reindeer, whales, seals, and bears. That is what men live on in that

Footnote 226:

  The diocese of Gardar in Greenland was established about 1110. For an
  account of the Norwegian colony in Greenland see Gjerset, _History of
  the Norwegian People_, I, 197-204.

Footnote 227:

  Cf. the papal letter of Alexander VI, written in 1492. Olson and
  Bourne, _The Northmen, Columbus, and Cabot_, 73-74.




_Son._ I believe I still have some questions to ask about this country.
How do you account for the fact that Greenland and the ocean that lies
about it have greater masses of ice than any other land or sea? For I
gather from what you have said that the ocean is deep and also very salt
and always in commotion; and I did not suppose that it could freeze
readily there, since, where the ocean is deep and the water is salt, ice
forms with difficulty, especially when the sea is in turmoil and the
waves roll high. But now I hear about these waters that we have just
talked about and likewise about the land, that there is never an
interval when the land or the sea is not covered with ice, except that
occasionally an opening appears here and there in the ice field; but
this is due to the stirring of the sea and not to the heat.

Now since the land is constantly frozen over in both winter and summer,
I wish to ask you to tell me exactly how the climate is in Greenland:
whether there is any warmth or fair sunshine as in other lands, or if
the weather is always unpleasant, and whether that is what causes the
excessive ice and frost. I should like to have you clear this matter up
for me along with those things that I asked about earlier in our
conversation, and what that thing is which the Greenlanders call the
northern lights.[228] All these questions I should like to have you
answer, and also this, in what part of the world you believe that
country to be located: whether it lies somewhere on the edge of the
world or about some large bend in the ocean like other extensive lands,
seeing that you think it is joined to other mainlands.

Footnote 228:

  We should infer from the form of this question and from the later
  discussion of the northern lights that this phenomenon was not
  prominent in Norway in the thirteenth century. There seem to be
  periods when these “lights” are less in evidence than at other times.
  But it should also be noted that the author discusses whales in
  connection with Greenland and Iceland only, though it is extremely
  likely that whales were not unknown on the shores of Norway.

_Father._ The matters about which you have now inquired I cannot wholly
clear up for you, inasmuch as I have not yet found any one who has
knowledge of the entire “home-circle”[229] and its dimensions and who
has explored the whole earth on all its sides, or the nature of the
lands and the landmarks located there. If I had ever met such a man, one
who had seen and examined these things, I should have been able to give
you full information about them. But I can at least tell you what those
men have conjectured who have formed the most reasonable opinions.

Footnote 229:

  The “home-circle” (_kringla heimsins_) was the Old Norse translation
  for the Latin _orbis terrae_, orb of the earth.

The men who have written best concerning the nature of the earth,
following the guidance of Isidore and other learned men,[230] state that
there are certain zones on the heavens under which men cannot live. One
is very hot and, because of the glowing heat which burns everything that
comes beneath it, people cannot exist under this zone. It seems
reasonable that this is the broad path of the sun, and I believe it is
because this zone is pervaded with the sun’s flaming rays that no one
who wishes only a moderately warm dwelling place can live beneath it.
These writers have also said concerning two other zones in the sky that
under them too the land is uninhabitable; because, on account of their
frigidity, it is no more comfortable to dwell under them than under the
first mentioned where the heat is torrid. For there the cold has
developed such a power that water casts aside its nature and turns into
ice masses; in this way all those lands become ice-cold, and the seas
too, that lie under either of these two zones. From this I conclude that
there are five zones in the heavens: two under which the earth is
habitable, and three under which it is uninhabitable.

Footnote 230:

  Isidore of Seville (d. 636) discusses the five zones in his
  _Etymologiae_, iii, c. xliv; xiii, c. vi; and in his _De Natura
  Rerum_, c. x. The editors of the Sorö edition suggest that the “other
  learned men” may be Macrobius and Martianus Capella, the famous
  encyclopedists of the fifth century (p. 195). But as these writers
  preceded Isidore by nearly two centuries, it is unlikely that their
  works were more than indirect sources for the scientific statements in
  the _Speculum Regale_. It is more probable that the reference is to
  such writers as Bede, Rabanus Maurus, and Honorius of Autun, though it
  is impossible to specify what authority was followed.

Now all the land that lies under the zones between the hot and the cold
belts can be occupied; but it is likely that owing to location the lands
differ somewhat, so that some are hotter than others; the hottest being
those that are nearest the torrid belt. But lands that are cold, like
ours, lie nearer the frigid zones, where the frost is able to use its
chilling powers. Now in my opinion it seems most probable that the hot
zone extends from east to west in a curved ring like a flaming girdle
around the entire sphere. On the other hand, it is quite probable that
the cold zones lie on the outer edges of the world to the north and
south: and in case I have thought this out correctly, it is not unlikely
that Greenland lies under the frigid belt; for most of those who have
visited Greenland testify that there the cold has received its greatest
strength. Moreover, both sea and land bear testimony in their very
selves that there the frost and the overpowering cold have become
dominant, for both are frozen and covered with ice in summer as well as
in winter.

It has been stated as a fact that Greenland lies on the outermost edge
of the earth toward the north; and I do not believe there is any land in
the home-circle beyond Greenland, only the great ocean that runs around
the earth. And we are told by men who are informed that alongside
Greenland the channel is cut through which the wide ocean rushes into
the gap that lies between the land masses and finally branches out into
fjords and inlets which cut in between the lands wherever the sea is
allowed to flow out upon the earth’s surface.

You asked whether the sun shines in Greenland and whether there ever
happens to be fair weather there as in other countries; and you shall
know of a truth that the land has beautiful sunshine and is said to have
a rather pleasant climate. The sun’s course varies greatly, however;
when winter is on, the night is almost continuous; but when it is
summer, there is almost constant day. When the sun rises highest, it has
abundant power to shine and give light, but very little to give warmth
and heat; still, it has sufficient strength, where the ground is free
from ice, to warm the soil so that the earth yields good and fragrant
grass. Consequently, people may easily till the land where the frost
leaves, but that is a very small part.

But as to that matter which you have often inquired about, what those
lights can be which the Greenlanders call the northern lights, I have no
clear knowledge. I have often met men who have spent a long time in
Greenland, but they do not seem to know definitely what those lights
are. However, it is true of that subject as of many others of which we
have no sure knowledge, that thoughtful men will form opinions and
conjectures about it and will make such guesses as seem reasonable and
likely to be true. But these northern lights have this peculiar nature,
that the darker the night is, the brighter they seem; and they always
appear at night but never by day,—most frequently in the densest
darkness and rarely by moonlight. In appearance they resemble a vast
flame of fire viewed from a great distance. It also looks as if sharp
points were shot from this flame up into the sky; these are of uneven
height and in constant motion, now one, now another darting highest; and
the light appears to blaze like a living flame. While these rays are at
their highest and brightest, they give forth so much light that people
out of doors can easily find their way about and can even go hunting, if
need be. Where people sit in houses that have windows, it is so light
inside that all within the room can see each other’s faces. The light is
very changeable. Sometimes it appears to grow dim, as if a black smoke
or a dark fog were blown up among the rays; and then it looks very much
as if the light were overcome by this smoke and about to be quenched.
But as soon as the smoke begins to grow thinner, the light begins to
brighten again; and it happens at times that people think they see large
sparks shooting out of it as from glowing iron which has just been taken
from the forge. But as night declines and day approaches, the light
begins to fade; and when daylight appears, it seems to vanish entirely.

The men who have thought about and discussed these lights have guessed
at three sources, one of which, it seems, ought to be the true one. Some
hold that fire circles about the ocean and all the bodies of water that
stream about on the outer sides of the globe; and since Greenland lies
on the outermost edge of the earth to the north, they think it possible
that these lights shine forth from the fires that encircle the outer
ocean. Others have suggested that during the hours of night, when the
sun’s course is beneath the earth, an occasional gleam of its light may
shoot up into the sky; for they insist that Greenland lies so far out on
the earth’s edge that the curved surface which shuts out the sunlight
must be less prominent there. But there are still others who believe
(and it seems to me not unlikely) that the frost and the glaciers have
become so powerful there that they are able to radiate forth these
flames. I know nothing further that has been conjectured on this
subject, only these three theories that I have presented; as to their
correctness I do not decide, though the last mentioned looks quite
plausible to me. I know of no other facts about Greenland that seem
worth discussing or mentioning, only those that we have talked about and
what we have noted as the opinions of well-informed men.




_Son._ Everything that you have told here seems wonderful to me, though
also very instructive, and this fact most of all, that men, as you have
pointed out, are able to leave the earth, as it were, and view for
themselves the boundaries which God has drawn amid such great perils.
Your last remark, however, suggests that there is yet a little matter to
inquire about along this same line. In speaking of those three
conjectures you said that you think it most likely that these lights
have their origin in frost and ice; but just before in describing their
appearance, you added that now and then fog and dark mist resembling
smoke would mount up among these lights. But even if the cold should be
so prevalent there as to give rise to these lights with their fire-like
rays, I cannot help wondering whence that smoke can come which sometimes
appears to shade and becloud the light till it seems almost quenched;
for to me it seems more likely that the smoke is due to heat than to
frost. There is one more thing that looks strange to me which you
mentioned earlier in your speech, namely that you consider Greenland as
having a good climate, even though it is full of ice and glaciers. It is
hard for me to understand how such a land can have a good climate.

_Father._ When you say, in asking about the smoke that sometimes appears
to accompany the northern lights, that you think it more likely that the
smoke comes from heat than from cold, I agree with you. But you must
also know that wherever the earth is thawed under the ice, it always
retains some heat down in the depths. In the same way the ocean under
the ice retains some warmth in its depths. But if the earth were wholly
without warmth or heat, it would be one mass of ice from the surface
down to its lowest foundations. Likewise, if the ocean were without any
heat, it would be solid ice from the surface to the bottom. Now large
rifts may appear in the ice that covers the land as well as openings in
the ice upon the sea. But wherever the earth thaws out and lies bare,
whether in places where there is no ice or under the yawning rifts in
the glacier, and wherever the sea lies bare in the openings that have
formed in the ice, there steam is emitted from the lower depths; and it
may be that this vapor collects and appears like smoke or dark fog; and
that, whenever it looks as if the lights are about to be quenched by
smoke or fog, it is this vapor that collects before them.

In reply to your remark about the climate of Greenland, that you think
it strange that it is called a good climate, I shall tell you something
about the nature of the land. When storms do come, they are more severe
than in most other places, both with respect to keen winds and vast
masses of ice and snow. But usually these spells of rough weather last
only a short while and come at long intervals only. In the meantime the
weather is fair, though the cold is intense. For it is in the nature of
the glacier to emit a cold and continuous breath which drives the storm
clouds away from its face so that the sky above is usually clear.[231]
But the neighboring lands often have to suffer because of this; for all
the regions that lie near get severe weather from this ice, inasmuch as
all the storms that the glacier drives away from itself come upon others
with keen blasts. Now if this is clear to you, I believe there is no
need of giving any further explanation of the subject than what you have
now heard.

Footnote 231:

  By glacier the author evidently means the great inland ice masses. On
  the effect of this inland ice on the climate of Greenland and
  neighboring regions, see Nansen, _In Northern Mists_, II, 247.



                       THE ZONES OF HEAT AND COLD

_Son._ These things are all clear to me and it seems reasonable that
they should be as you say. Still, there are a few things that you
mentioned a little earlier in your talk, which I wish to ask about, if
you permit. You said that both sides of the earth are cold, the southern
as well as the northern. But I hear it said by all men who come from the
regions to the south that the farther south one travels, the hotter the
lands are. Likewise all the winds that come from the south are both
moister and milder than other winds. In the winter those winds always
bring a good thaw, while other winds are so cold that they bring frost,
and ice is formed. And during the summer the south wind is still warmer
than other winds. Now if my questions do not tire you and I do not seem
to ask too much, I should like to have you answer this question too.

_Father._ When I told you that in the skies three belts are traced under
which it is difficult to cross, one torrid and two frigid, I added that
the hot belt curves from east to west. But if I have stated this
correctly, it will be evident that the cold must be as severe in the
southern parts as in the northern.[232] I believe, however, that all the
regions lying near the hot belt, whether on the south side or on the
north, are also hot; but I believe those lands to be frigid which lie
very far in either direction. You have stated that all men tell us that
the farther south one travels, the greater the heat; but that, I
believe, is due to the fact that you have never found any one who has
traveled as far south of the hot belt as those lands which we have now
talked of lie to the north. You have also said that the winds which come
from a southerly direction are warmer than the rest. But it is
reasonable that the south wind should be warm when it reaches us, even
though it comes from the frozen south side of the earth, for it blows
through the curved ring of the torrid belt.[233] Consequently, though it
blows cold from the south, it is warm when it emerges on the northern
side. And if people live as near the cold belt on the southern side as
the Greenlanders do on the northern, I firmly believe that the north
wind blows as warm to them as the south wind to us. For they must look
north to see the midday and the sun’s whole course, just as we, who
dwell north of the sun, must look to the south.

Footnote 232:

  Cf. _Macrobius_, 601. “... for both the northern and the southern
  extremities lie stiff with perpetual frost, and they are like two
  zones with which the earth is girdled, but narrow as if they were
  circlets drawn about the farthest regions.”

Footnote 233:

  Macrobius states the same belief in quite similar terms: the south
  wind comes from a frozen clime just as the north wind does; but “since
  it comes to us through the flames of the torrid zone and mixes with
  the fire, it becomes hot, so that what was cold in the beginning comes
  to us with warmth.” (P. 603.)

We have said earlier that in winter the sun’s course here is short, but
of such extraordinary length in summer that we then have day nearly all
the time. From this you may conclude that the sun’s path is quite broad
and that its course is not narrow and straight as if it were always
following a certain line. As soon as it reaches the outer edge of its
sloping circuit toward the south, those who live on the extreme side of
the world to the south have summer and long sun paths, while we have
winter and little sunlight. And when the sun comes to the extreme edge
of its circuit to the north, we have long-continued sunshine, while they
have cold winter. For it is always this way, that the sun rises higher
in the north when its path declines in the south: and when its course
begins to decline in the north, it begins to wax on the southern side.

You should also know that the change from day to night is due to the
movements of the sun. For some places have midday when others have
midnight; and the day dawns and brightens in some places just when
darkness begins and night falls in other places.[234] For the day and
the light always follow the sun, while the shadows flee from it; still
they follow after it as it moves away; and there is always night where
the shadows are, but always day where the light is. Now if you
understand all these things that we have discussed in these hours, the
change in day and night, the course of the sun, and all the other
matters that we have talked about, you may count yourself thoroughly
prepared for the trader’s calling, inasmuch as few only have had more
instruction in these subjects than you have had.

Footnote 234:

  Cf. Capella, _Satiricon_, 204.




_Son._ I should indeed consider it highly informing, if I could remember
all the things that you have now told me. I gather from your remarks,
however, that you seem to think that I have asked about too many things
in these our talks. But if you are not wearied with my questions, there
still remains a little matter which, with your permission, I should like
to ask about, one that also seems to belong to the knowledge of

In a talk some time ago you said that whoever wishes to be a merchant
ought to be prepared early in spring, and be careful not to remain out
at sea too late in the autumn; but you did not indicate the earliest
time in the spring when you think one may risk a journey over-seas to
other countries, nor how late you consider it safe to sail the seas in
autumn. You told how the ocean manages to quiet its storms, but you did
not show under what circumstances it begins to grow restless. Therefore
I would fain ask you again to answer this question, even if it does
annoy you, for I think that a time may come when it will seem both
needful to know this and instructive to understand it.

_Father._ The matters to which you are now referring can scarcely be
grouped under one head; for the seas are not all alike, nor are they all
of equal extent. Small seas have no great perils, and one may risk
crossing them at almost any time; for one has to make sure of fair winds
to last a day or two only, which is not difficult for men who understand
the weather. And there are many lands where harbors are plentiful as
soon as the shore is reached. If the circumstances are such that a man
can wait for winds in a good haven or may confidently expect to find
good harbors as soon as he has crossed, or if the sea is so narrow that
he needs to provide for a journey of only a day or two, then he may
venture to sail over such waters almost whenever he wishes. But where
travel is beset with greater perils, whether because the sea is wide and
full of dangerous currents, or because the prow points toward shores
where the harbors are rendered insecure by rocks, breakers, shallows, or
sand bars,—wherever the situation is such, one needs to use great
caution; and no one should venture to travel over such waters when the
season is late.

Now as to the time that you asked about, it seems to me most correct to
say that one should hardly venture over-seas later than the beginning of
October. For at that time the sea begins to grow very restless, and the
tempests always increase in violence as autumn passes and winter
approaches. And about the time when we date the sixteenth of October,
the east wind begins to look sorrowful and thinks himself disgraced, now
that his headgear, the golden crown, is taken away. He puts a
cloud-covered hat on his head and breathes heavily and violently, as if
mourning a recent loss. But when the southeast wind sees how vexed his
neighbor is, he is stricken with a double grief: the one sorrow is that
he fears the same deprivation as the east wind has suffered; the other
is grief over the misfortunes of his good and estimable neighbor.
Stirred by the distress of a resentful mind, he knits his brows under
the hiding clouds and blows the froth violently about him. When the
south wind sees the wrath of his near neighbors, he wraps himself in a
cloud-lined mantle in which he conceals his treasures and his wealth of
warm rays and blows vigorously as if in terrifying defence. And when the
southwest wind observes how friendship has cooled, now that the truce is
broken, he sobs forth his soul’s grief in heavy showers, rolls his eyes
above his tear-moistened beard, puffs his cheeks under the cloudy
helmet, blows the chilling scud violently forward, leads forth huge
billows, wide-breasted waves, and breakers that yearn for ships, and
orders all the tempests to dash forward in angry contest.

But when the west wind observes that a wrathful blast and a sorrowful
sighing are coming across to him from the east, whence formerly he was
accustomed to receive shining beams with festive gifts, he understands
clearly that the covenant is broken and that all treaties are renounced.
Deeply grieved and pained because of the unpeace, he puts on a black
robe of mourning over which he pulls a cloud-gray cloak, and, sitting
with wrinkled nose and pouting lips, he breathes heavily with regretful
care. And when the ill-tempered northwest wind observes how sorrowful
his neighbors look, and sees how he himself has suffered the loss of the
evening beauty which he was formerly accustomed to display, he shows at
once his temper in stern wrath: he knits his brows fiercely, throws
rattling hail violently about, and sends forth the rolling thunder with
terrifying gleams of lightning, thus displaying on his part a fearful
and merciless anger. But when the north wind misses the friendliness and
the kind gifts which he was wont to get from the south wind, he seeks
out his hidden treasures and displays the wealth that he has most of: he
brings out a dim sheen which glitters with frost, places an ice-cold
helmet on his head above his frozen beard, and blows hard against the
hail-bearing cloud-heaps. But the chill northeast wind sits wrathful
with snowy beard and breathes coldly through his wind-swollen nostrils.
Glaring fiercely under his rimy brows, he wrinkles his cheeks beneath
his cold and cloudy temples, puffs his jowl with his icy tongue, and
blows the piercing drift-snow vigorously forth.

But since peace has been broken among these eight chiefs and the winds
are stirred to stormy violence, it is no longer advisable for men to
travel over-seas from shore to shore because of great perils: the days
shorten; the nights grow darker; the sea becomes restless; the waves
grow stronger and the surf is colder; showers increase and storms arise;
the breakers swell and the shores refuse good harbors; the sailors
become exhausted, the lading is lost, and there is great and constant
destruction of life due to a too great venturesomeness; souls are placed
in perils of judgment because of recklessness and sudden death.
Therefore all sensible men should beware and not venture upon the sea
too late in the season; for there are many dangers to look out for and
not one alone, if a man dares too much at such times. Consequently, the
better plan is to sail while summer is at its best; for one is not
likely to meet misfortune if there has been careful and wise
forethought. But it would surely pass all expectations if that were to
succeed which was foolishly advised and planned at the beginning, though
sometimes the outcome may be favorable. I consider it a more sensible
plan for a man to remain quiet as long as much danger may be looked for,
and to enjoy during the winter in proper style and in restful leisure
what he labored to win during the summer, than to risk in a little while
through his own obstinate contriving the loss of all the profit which he
strove to gain in the summer. But first of all a man must have care for
his own person; for he can have no further profit, if it fares so ill
that he himself goes under.



                         END OF THE FIRST PART

_Son._ I did wisely to continue my inquiries when we had our last talk;
for you have given replies which will be useful as well as instructive
for all who have the sense to understand and profit by such matters as
we have discussed. But I wish to ask you again to tell me briefly how
early in the spring and at what stated time you think one may venture to
travel over-seas to other shores, just as I asked in my earlier

_Father._ Men may venture out upon almost any sea except the largest as
early as the beginning of April. For at the time when we date the
sixteenth of March, the days lengthen, the sun rises higher, and the
nights grow shorter. The north wind gently clears up the face of heaven
with a light and cool breeze, brushes away the restless and storm-laden
clouds, and with blithe persuasiveness asks for a new covenant. Then
peace is renewed among the winds, for they all yearn for rest after the
season of violent wrath and wearisome blasts; so they make a covenant
once more in the way that we told earlier when we described the peace
making. The showers cease, the waves sink to rest, the breakers flag,
the swell of the noisy ocean dies away, all the storms weaken, and quiet
follows upon restless turmoil.

Now I have done as you requested: I have pointed out the seasons with
definite dates both in spring and fall, when it seems most advisable to
brave the perils of the sea. I have also informed you as to the times
that seem more suitable for rest than for travel. I have likewise
described briefly the sources of light in the sky and the belts that are
drawn across the heaven, those under which travel is difficult and those
which allow travel. And if you keep carefully in mind all these things
that I have discussed with you, you will never be counted among the
ignorant navigators, if you shall decide to try the trader’s calling. My
advice, therefore, is first to fix in your mind all the facts which you
have now heard; and later you shall have a chance to ask further
questions, if you should wish to do so.



                         THE KING AND HIS COURT

_Son._ The last time that I had a talk with you, sire, I heard a wise
speech from your lips, one that should profit every man who intends to
follow the craft with which our conversation was concerned. Since then I
have meditated on that speech, and I believe that I have fixed firmly in
memory most of the facts that were brought out at the time, whatever
luck I may have later in trying to apply them. No doubt I ought, like
everyone else, to observe carefully all the good which I have been
taught; and more is to be expected from those who take thought than from
those who forget. But whatever success or good fortune I may have in the
practice, I delight to learn while I have the opportunity. Now I still
have some subjects in mind which I wish to inquire about, but I am going
to ask your consent to a discussion before I bring up the questions in
which I am now interested; and when I have presented these, I shall
await your answers.

_Father._ When we last met and talked about the doings and mode of
living of merchants, we mentioned, I believe, most of the things that
were in real need of discussion; and I feel sure that no man will have
ill repute from his conduct who everywhere observes with care what was
then brought out. But if you still wish and are anxious to make further
inquiries into these matters, I shall be glad to answer, if I can. And
even if you wish to open another discussion, I shall also be glad to
answer, as far as I have knowledge. You have permission, therefore, to
ask just as you like; and on my side there shall be such replies as God
enables me to give.

_Son._ The talk that I last heard you give concerning the business of
merchants was delivered with more evident wisdom in the answers than in
the questions; and I shall now let that subject rest. As I have in mind,
with your permission, to try that business, it may be that a very long
time will pass between our conversations. And when I am far away from
you, I shall have no opportunity to seek your advice, though I should
wish to do so, in case my mind should turn to some craft or business
other than that of the merchant’s trade. But though, God willing, we may
meet again in good health, it seems to me advisable to ask about those
things that I am interested in, while I have sure opportunity to learn.
And while there is opportunity we should learn what we do not know, for
this reason especially, that we cannot be sure of a chance to inquire
when it seems most needful to seek knowledge. Now after having learned
the trader’s mode of living and how to travel in unknown lands, it might
happen that I should want to visit the king’s court, where I could see
more perfect manners than those to be seen on my commercial tours; and
therefore I should like to learn from you, while here at home, such
manners as are most needful to know, when one is at court, though it is
not sure that I shall have to use them. Now if such an interest does not
seem worthless to you, I should like to have you inform me as to those
customs that I have mentioned.

_Father._ It cannot be called worthless curiosity to wish to know what
customs prevail and must be observed at the king’s court; for all
courtesy and proper conduct have their origin there, if the mode of life
is as it ought to be and as it was ordained of old. Still, customs at
court are by no means of one sort only, for there is a multitude of
services and offices about the king, and those of his men who are less
in rank are usually not held to strict manners. Those who are higher in
the service often differ much in manners and deportment, so that the men
who observe the better customs are, unfortunately, fewer, as a rule,
than those who are moderately courteous, or scarcely so much. Now I do
not know whose conduct you are interested in, that of the more mannerly
or of the greater number.




_Son._ It would be most profitable both for me and for all others who
are interested in unfamiliar subjects, whether good breeding or other
knowledge, to learn what is best and most useful. For there are but few
masters who can teach such things, and they are all more difficult to
grasp than those subjects which are of but slight value or wholly
worthless. Now since I hear that there are differences both in the
duties of men and in the customs of the court, I shall ask you to inform
me as to the regulations there and to explain how the services differ
and what belongs to each; also to point out the customs which seem good
to you and which are surely needful to learn, if one wishes to serve a
king with honor, as well as those which one who wishes to be reputed a
moral man should shun and beware of. I have this reason, too, for
seeking this information so earnestly, that I have seen men come from a
king’s household, whose conduct I have noted carefully, most of whom
seemed only about as well-bred as those who had never been at court, or
even less than they. Now I do not know which is the more likely, whether
I do not understand what good breeding means, or that the facts are as
they seemed to me.

_Father._ If it should be your fate to serve at court and you wish to be
called courtly and polite, you will need to beware of what happens to
those who come to court without manners and leave without refinement.
But since you have asked how the services and the usages at a royal
court differ, I shall now explain that to you, and also show why some
return thence rude and unpolished. When a dull man fares to court, it is
as when an ignorant fellow travels to Jerusalem, or a simpleton enters a
good school. An ignorant man who has been to Jerusalem believes himself
well informed and tells many things about his journey, though chiefly
what seems worthless to a knowing man, or mere sport and foolery. In the
same way the simpleton who comes from school believes himself to be
perfectly educated; he struts about and shows great disdain whenever he
meets one who knows nothing. But when he meets one who is a real
scholar, he himself knows naught. So it is, too, when stupid men come to
the king’s court: they promptly seek out men of their own kind and learn
from them such things as are most easily grasped and into which they had
gotten some insight earlier; but this is mere folly and unwisdom. And
when they return from court, they will display such manners and courtesy
as they learned there. And yet, many who come from strange places,
whether from other lands or courts, will behave in this way; but when
those who have remained at home find that these men bring great tidings,
they come to regard them at once as thoroughly informed, both as to
customs and happenings, seeing that they have visited alien peoples and
foreign lands; and this is most often the case with dull men. Now if you
aim at good breeding, beware lest you fall into such unwisdom. We may
now take up the question how the duties of the men at court differ and
what belongs to each service.

All the men who have gone to the king’s hand[235] are housecarles; but
honors and authority are distributed among them according to the merits
of each and as the king wishes to grant. Thus one class of housecarles
is made up of men who are always present at court, but draw no wages,
and do not eat and drink where the _hirdmen_ take their meals. They have
to do such service in the king’s garth as the steward shall assign,
whether it be to go on a journey or to do manual labor in the garth.

Footnote 235:

  To go to the king’s hand (_ganga konungi til handa_) is the technical
  term for the formal initiation into the royal service. “The king was
  in his high-seat with his guard grouped about him; across his knees
  lay a sword, his right hand grasping the hilt. The candidate
  approached, knelt, touched the swordhilt, and kissed the royal hand.
  He then arose and took the oath of fealty. Kneeling once more he
  placed his folded hands between those of the king and kissed his new
  lord.” Larson, “The Household of the Norwegian Kings in the Thirteenth
  Century:” _American Historical Review_, XIII, 461.




_Son._ I pray you, sire, not to regard me as thoughtless or as wishing
to interrupt your discourse, if I inquire briefly about the duties of
these men.

_Father._ While we are on this subject, you had better ask what you
like, or you may regret it later, having come away ill-informed about
what you wanted to hear, because you did not inquire sufficiently.

_Son._ Since those whom you have just mentioned live by labor and manual
toil in the king’s garth and have no greater honors than at home in the
country, what advantage do they find in being with the king more than in
serving their parents or kinsmen in the country or engaging in trade and
winning wealth in that way?

_Father._ There are many reasons why such men would rather be at court
than live in the country or engage in trade. Some prefer being at court
to living in the country (though in the king’s service their labor is as
burdensome, or more so) because, though they are of excellent kinship,
they have little wealth and cannot engage in trade on account of their
poverty. If they take up work in the country, they find many who have
more wealth, though they are no higher in kinship, or scarcely so high.
And when quarrels arise, the rich find protection in their wealth and
thrust the poor aside, so that these can get no justice in their law
suits. Consequently such men think it better to toil in security at
court than without protection in the country. Others may have committed
manslaughter or have come into other difficulties which make it urgent
for them to seek security in the king’s power. Some there are, too, who
always find pleasure in being in a throng; they also feel more secure
there, whatever may happen. When these come back to the country where
earlier they seemed so utterly defenseless, they regard themselves as
the peers of every one, because of the protection which they enjoy as
kingsmen. If one of them is slain in single combat, the king will take
forty marks[236] in thegn money[237] for him as for his other thegns,
and, in addition, one mark gold as housecarle fine,[238] which he exacts
whenever a housecarle is slain.

Footnote 236:

  The mark as a standard of value was widely used in the middle ages.
  Originally it was a measure of weight equivalent to eight ounces of
  gold or silver. Its value varied at different times and in different
  places. Dr. Gjerset estimates the purchasing power of a mark of silver
  in the fourteenth century as equal to that of $80 at the present time.
  _History of the Norwegian People_, II, 18-19, note.

Footnote 237:

  Thegn money (_þegngildi_) was a fine paid to the king by one who had
  been guilty of manslaughter.

Footnote 238:

  The housecarle fine was higher than that exacted for the death of a
  common subject because the housecarle stood in a personal relation to
  the king.

You shall also know that many come to court from the country who were
considered of little consequence there; and yet, it often happens that
the king gives high honors to such men in return for their service, if
they perform it well, though they are but slightly honored in their own
homes. Those, on the other hand, whom the cotters in the country seemed
to value highly for their wealth, kindred, and fellowship, are often no
more regarded at the royal court than in their home communities and
sometimes even less. Indeed, those who come to the king with riches are
often honored less than those who come in poverty. Frequently, men who
come to court with little wealth or none at all and have no choice but
to accept what the king graciously offers are set so high in riches and
power that they tower above their kinsmen, though before they came to
the king they were not regarded as their equals. They win this either by
bravery in warfare and good deportment at court, or by being faithful to
the king in all things and striving to be discreet and loving toward
him. For the king helps and promotes those whom he finds to be anxious
to remain truly affectionate toward him and to serve him in loyal
friendship. For these reasons a king by an act of grace, will very often
exalt those who are lacking in riches; and therefore many such are
encouraged to seek service at court, where they all expect to win
rewards, high honors, and marked advancement in position.




_Son._ I believe I have now had correct and adequate answers, and it no
longer seems strange to me that such men as you have just talked about
would rather be kingsmen than remain in the country, even though their
duties are as toilsome as those of the farmer, or even more so. But now
I wish to ask you to describe the other services at the king’s court, so
that I may, if possible, gain some knowledge of every one of them.

_Father._ That is surely possible, and since you are interested in such
matters, I shall give you what information I have concerning them. There
are certain other housecarles at the king’s court, who, in addition to
the housecarle’s title, have a by-name and are called “gests.”[239] They
have this name from their manifold duties; for they visit the homes of
many, though not always with friendly intent. These men are also in the
king’s pay and get half the wages of “hirdmen.” These are the duties
that belong to the office of these men: they serve as spies throughout
the king’s domain to make sure whether he has any enemies in his
kingdom; and if such are found, the gests are to slay them, if they are
able to do so. But if the king sends his gests upon his enemies and
those against whom they are sent are slain, they are to have for their
trouble as much of the enemies’ wealth as they can carry away at the
time, only no gold, for that is the king’s, as is all the rest that the
gests are unable to bring away. And whenever the king becomes aware of
an enemy, it is the gest’s duty to pursue the foeman and thus to cleanse
the realm. Whenever they are present at court, they keep the various
watches about the king, just as the others do who share the king’s
bounty in the royal garth, except the head-ward;[240] this they do not
keep; nor do they sit at table to eat or drink in the house where the
king dines with his hirdmen, except at Christmas and Easter, when they
are to eat with the hirdmen in the king’s hall, but at no other time. If
any of these men be slain in single combat, the king exacts as large a
fine both in thegn money and housecarle fine as for the death of those
whom we discussed earlier.

Footnote 239:

  See _American Historical Review_, XIII, 469-471.

Footnote 240:

  The head-ward was stationed near the king’s person, usually outside
  the door of the chamber where he slept. See _American Historical
  Review_, XIII, 462.

There is still another class of royal housecarles who do not share the
king’s tables and but rarely come to court; these receive nothing from
the king but protection and support in securing justice from others; but
these, too, are kingsmen. In case any of these are slain, the king
exacts the same housecarle fine in addition to the thegn money as in the
case of those housecarles who dine at his tables. These men come into
his service from various walks of life: some are peasants, some
merchants, and some laymen. But this service they owe the king before
all his other subjects, namely, that wherever the king’s officials come
at his command to present the king’s causes or business, and these
housecarles of whom we are speaking are present, they must join the
retinue of these officials and render such assistance as they can in all
the king’s business. These, too, may claim support from the kingsmen in
their efforts to obtain justice, wherever they have suits to bring up.
Likewise if any of these men are slain, the fines due the king will be
increased as much as for those whom we spoke of earlier.

There is another class of royal housecarles who receive money payments
from the king, some twelve _aura_,[241] some two marks, some three
marks, and others more, in proportion as the king finds them likely to
add to his strength and credit. These men do not dine with the king at
court; they are abroad in the realm in a sort of official capacity, for
some of them are sons of the king’s landedmen,[242] while others are
peasants, though so wealthy that they seem to rank with the landedmen.
These royal housecarles owe the king the same kind of service as those
whom we have just mentioned, but more, inasmuch as they have greater
prestige and enjoy greater favors from the king; and the fines due the
king in case these men are ill used will be increased about as much as
has been stated before. From all these kingsmen that we have now told
about, who do not dine at his tables, the king may demand such service
as he finds each capable of: some are called to pilot the longships when
the king sets out on a naval campaign; some are sent abroad in embassies
to foreign rulers and other princes; while others are sent out upon the
sea as traders with the king’s wares or ships.[243] These are the duties
that they are bound to perform with such other duties as may arise out
of the king’s needs.

Footnote 241:

  The _Eyrir_ (pl. _aura_, from Latin _aurum_?) was an ounce of silver,
  or one-eighth of a mark.

Footnote 242:

  The landedman (_lendir maðr_) was one who enjoyed a fief granted by
  the king. The term was also used in a more restricted sense for the
  local chieftains who in return for the fief enjoyed gave certain
  assistance in the local administration. See _Norges Gamle Love_, V,
  396-397; Gjerset, _History of the Norwegian People_, I, 387-388;
  _American Historical Review_, XIII, 467-468.

Footnote 243:

  The kings of medieval Norway seem to have engaged quite actively in
  the mercantile profession. The trade with the Finns was made a royal
  monopoly at least as early as the tenth century; later the trade with
  Greenland also passed into the king’s hands.

Now I have told you about several classes of the king’s servants, and
you will have to determine which of those enumerated seem to you most
likely to know much about courtly behavior and the manners that ought by
right to be found at a king’s court; they are all kingsmen, however. And
from this you will observe that every man cannot become perfect in all
courtly customs and manners just as soon as he sees the king and his
men; for a man will have to be both quick-witted and quick to learn,
who, if he lacks in breeding, is to learn perfect courtliness in a
year’s time, even though every day of the year is spent at court among
the hirdmen in the king’s own presence. Now you shall know this of a
truth, that there are many at court who have spent a large part of their
lives there and have daily opportunities to see good deportment, and yet
they never become either courtly or well-bred.




_Son._ If such is the case, that some of the customs at court are so
difficult to learn that both quick wit and continued observation are
necessary, it seems evident that the men whom you have just now spoken
of can have but slight knowledge of what constitutes deportment or good
manners in the king’s house, though they be kingsmen, since they come
but rarely into those of the royal apartments where good manners must
especially be observed. But there is yet something that I am anxious to
know concerning the duties of those men of whom you spoke last: what
profit can such men as have an abundance of wealth and kinsmen find in
the king’s service and in binding themselves to his service with the
housecarle name as their only title? Why do not they rather seek the
honor of being called hirdmen, or remain at home looking after their
property as other husbandmen do?

_Father._ I should say that you have not inquired very wisely into this
matter; still, as you do not appear to be well informed on this subject,
I think it better for you to question than to remain ignorant, and since
you have inquired I ought to answer. There are many reasons, as we have
already said, why men would rather be kingsmen than be called by the
peasant’s name only. The first reply must be that the king owns the
entire kingdom as well as all the people in it, so that all the men who
are in his kingdom owe him service whenever his needs demand it. Thus
the king has a right to call upon every freeman, who seems fitted for it
or is found to possess suitable insight, to serve in embassies to
foreign lords; likewise, when the king calls upon the freemen to pilot
his ship in warfare, each one who is appointed must attend, though he be
the king’s henchman only so far as he is his subject. Even if a king
should order a clerk or a bishop of his kingdom to fare as envoy to
another king or to the pope, if such is his wish, the one who is called
must set out, unless he is willing to risk the king’s enmity and to be
driven from the kingdom.

Now since all the men of the realm are thus bound to the royal service,
why should not every sensible man regard it a greater advantage to be in
the king’s full protection and friendship, no matter what may happen in
his intercourse with other men, and to be superior to his comrades and
hold them loyal to the king if they will not otherwise obey, than to be
called a mere cotter who is constantly under the control of others,
though he still owes nearly the same duties as otherwise? Verily you
must know that to be called a king’s housecarle is not to be despised as
a title of derision; but it is a name of great honor to everyone who
bears it. For neither landedmen nor hirdmen, though because of some
infirmity or because they are tired of warfare they prefer to cultivate
an estate in the country, are willing to surrender the housecarle name
because of its honor and security. Now if there is any phase of this
subject that seems insufficiently inquired into or explained, we may
extend the conversation if you wish.




_Son._ This subject has been discussed almost too fully and has been
cleared up for me with such good and complete answers that it looks to
me as if a man cannot dispense with the king’s support, if he wishes to
found his cause securely. For the multitude is fickle-minded and the one
unfair toward the other, except those alone to whom God has given wisdom
and rectitude; but they are few only and not the mass. However, as there
are certain matters relating to the service and manners at court that
are still unexplained, I should like to hear you discuss these further,
lest I continue ignorant about subjects that I desire to know.

_Father._ We must now speak about those of the king’s housecarles who,
if they give proper attention, are best able to acquire knowledge as to
what is counted good manners in royal circles. They too, however, differ
in character, and those are very often the fewer who should be the more
numerous. These kingsmen that we are now to discuss have, in addition to
the housecarle name, the title of hirdmen. Some bear that title
rightfully, but to many it is a nickname. The one who originated the
name placed it on a sound basis; for hirdman means the same as keeper
and guardian; and those who wish to possess this title rightfully should
be true keepers and guardians both of the king’s person and of all his
kingship. They should guard the bounds of equity among all the men of
the realm, wherever they are present when suits at law are heard. They
should also observe good and courtly behavior and every useful custom,
for they are at all times nearest the king in all matters. They guard
the king’s life and person both night and day; they are always about the
king at the table when he eats and drinks, at public assemblies, and at
all general gatherings, like near kinsmen.

These men ought of right to be addressed as lords by all men who bear
lesser titles than they do; for they are, in a sense, stewards of the
realm, if they observe the customs that are suited to their title. They
should be chosen from all classes and not from wealthy or distinguished
families only; but those who are chosen to this dignity should be
perfect in all things, both in ancestry and wealth, and in nobility of
mind and courtesy, but above all in conduct. They ought, furthermore,
before all others to observe righteousness in every form, so that they
may be able to discern clearly what should be loved as belonging to
honor and good deportment and what should be shunned as leading to
dishonor and shame. For wherever they are present, the eyes of all men
are turned upon their manners and behavior; all incline their ears to
their words; and all expect, as they ought, to find them so much more
excellent than other men in deeds and deportment as they stand nearer
the king in service and regard than his other men. And if these men wish
by right to enjoy the titles which are given them along with the
housecarle name, they must shun vulgarity and rudeness; they must also,
more than other men, avoid many things which a foolish desire might
suggest. For many things become a disgrace both in words and deeds to
well-bred men, which are not a disgrace to the vulgar who behave in that
way; wherefore such men must keep watch over their tongues and their

It also frequently happens that well trained envoys from other lands
come to visit the king and his court; and the more polished they are,
the more carefully they observe the royal service as well as the manners
of the king and his courtiers and all the customs that prevail at the
court. On returning to their own lands, they will describe the customs
and relate the happenings which they saw or heard at the court to which
they were sent. But all the rumors that travel to other lands and are
circulated about a lord, if they be truthful, will usually either bring
him ridicule and contumely or be turned to his honor. It may also
frequently come to pass that the kings themselves need to meet in
conference to discuss such rules and arrangements as must be kept
jointly by the kingdoms.[244] Wherever kings meet, there the best men
are always assembled; for the kings bring their chief men with them to
such conferences: archbishops, bishops, earls, landedmen, and hirdmen or
knights. And the conduct and breeding of those who assemble are
carefully noted, first the manners of the mighty ones, and then those of
all the rest; for everyone watches closely the behavior of all the
others. And if one of the kings or one of his principal men is found
indecorous, he soon becomes the subject of ridicule and contempt and is
regarded as a common churl. And if a king’s retinue is found to be
poorly trained and is lacking in polish, especially if the service of
the king’s apartments is not performed in a comely and proper manner,
then the king himself is pronounced unfit; for it will be held that if
he himself were polite and perfect in manners, all would acquire good
breeding from him. Consequently it is possible for a courtly chief to
suffer great shame from a vulgar and indecent man; wherefore it is very
important that those who wish to bear a comely and honorable title in
the royal presence should be well informed as to what is becoming or
unbecoming. For one cannot hope for great honors from a king, if he has
at any time disgraced him where many honorable men were assembled and
where it seemed very important to maintain the king’s honor, which is
everywhere, for a king must nowhere suffer shame. Heedlessness and evil
conduct are therefore ill becoming to a man, if they bring him shame and
enmity and cause him to lose his honorable name, his good repute, and
his fair service, even though life and limb be spared. And he can even
bring such deep dishonor upon his king that with many of his kindred he
will be made to suffer a well deserved but ignominious death. Such
grades there are both in the duties and in the titles at the royal court
as you have now heard described. But if it seems to you that everything
has not yet been thoroughly examined, you may inquire further, if you

Footnote 244:

  Such meetings of two or three of the kings of the North were
  occasionally held all through the later middle ages. The conferences
  were often held at some point near the mouth of the Göta River, on the
  southwest coast of modern Sweden. See above, p. 30.



                      THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD SERVICE
                        SHOULD APPROACH THE KING

_Son._ It seems to me that we should not fail to continue this
discussion and I shall now direct my remarks and questions toward some
theme that may help me to see more clearly how one, who comes to seek
honors, should appear in the king’s presence and how he must afterwards
demean himself in order to attain all those distinctions of which you
have just told. Now it may happen that I shall want to fare to court and
join the king’s service; for since my father and my kinsmen served the
king before me and gained honor and high esteem for their service, it is
likely that I shall wish to do what my kinsmen achieved before me. Now
inasmuch as that is likely, I want to ask you to tell me how I ought to
begin my speech when I come to seek audience with a king. State it as
clearly as if you were to accompany me to the royal presence, and inform
me as to my gestures, my dress, my manner of speech and all matters of
deportment that are becoming in the king’s company. Now this time I have
asked as I thought best; but even though I have inquired less wisely
than I ought, kindly do as before, giving thought to the questions on my
part and to the replies from your side.

_Father._ Your questions on this subject are not so unwise that one may
not very well answer them; for many have need to make such inquiries, if
they mean to have their suits brought up before lords and to have them
planned as carefully as need be. Now I shall try to clear up these
matters that you have asked about, stating what seems most truthful and
advisable. When you come, then, to where the king resides, intending to
become his man, you should inquire carefully who the men are in the
king’s company that are best able to present men’s business to the king
in such a way that their speeches please him the most. As soon as you
have learned who they are, you must first make their acquaintance and
cultivate their friendship; after that make your errand known and ask
them to undertake your suit. If they undertake your business, they can
best find time and occasion for audience and speech with the king, as
they often have speech with him. If you are to present your request at a
time when the king is at the table, get sure information whether he is
in good spirits and pleasant humor. If you should observe that his
disposition is somewhat irritable, or that he is displeased about
something, or that he has such important affairs to consider that you
think your business for that reason cannot be taken up, then let your
suit rest for the time being and seek to find the king in better humor
some other day. But if you find that he is in merry mood and has no
business to take up of such importance that you may not very well state
your errand, wait, nevertheless, till he has nearly finished his meal.

Your costume you should plan beforehand in such a way that you come
fully dressed in good apparel, the smartest that you have, and wearing
fine trousers and shoes. You must not come without your coat; and also
wear a mantle, the best that you have. For trousers always select cloth
of a brown dye. It seems quite proper also to wear trousers of black
fur, but not of any other sort of cloth, unless it be scarlet. Your coat
should be of brown color or green or red, and all such clothes are good
and proper. Your linen should be made of good linen stuff, but with
little cloth used; your shirt should be short, and all your linen rather
light. Your shirt should be cut somewhat shorter than your coat; for no
man of taste can deck himself out in flax or hemp. Before you enter the
royal presence be sure to have your hair and beard carefully trimmed
according to the fashions of the court when you join the same. When I
was at court it was fashionable to have the hair trimmed short just
above the earlaps and then combed down as each hair would naturally lie;
but later it was cut shorter in front above the eyebrows. It was the
style at that time to wear a short beard and a small moustache; but
later the cheeks were shaved according to the German mode;[245] and I
doubt that any style will ever come which is more becoming or more
suitable in warfare.

Footnote 245:

  It is impossible to determine what style of beard this _jaðarskegg_
  was; if we may judge from contemporary German illustrations, the
  German mode was a smooth-shaven face. See also Weiss, _Kostumekunde_,
  II, 581.

Now when you seem to be in proper state to appear before the king both
as to dress and other matters, and if you come at a suitable time and
have permission from the doorkeeper to enter, you must have your coming
planned in such a way that some capable servant can accompany you. But
though you are both allowed to enter, do not let him follow you farther
than inside the door or, at the farthest, up to the staller’s seat, and
leave him there to keep your mantle. Leave your mantle behind when you
go before the king and be careful to have your hair brushed smooth, and
your beard combed with care. You must have neither hat nor cap nor other
covering on your head; for one must appear before lords with uncovered
head and ungloved hands, with a blithe face and with limbs and body
thoroughly bathed. You should also have the men with you who are to
present your suit. Form the habit of holding your head up and your whole
body erect when walking; strike a dignified gait, but do not walk too

When you come into the king’s presence, bow humbly before him and
address him in these words: “God give you a good day, my lord king!” If
the king is at the table when you appear before him, be careful not to
lean against the king’s board, as so many a simpleton does; and above
all do not lean forward across it as unmannerly churls do, but remain
standing far enough away from it so that the service belonging to the
royal table may have sufficient space to pass between the table and
yourself. But if the king is not at the table, approach his seat only so
near as to leave abundant space for all the service between yourself and
the footstools that are before the king’s seat. When standing before the
king, you should dispose of your hands in such a way that the thumb and
forefinger of the right will grasp the left wrist; and then let your
hands drop slowly before you as seems most comfortable. Thereupon the
men chosen for that purpose shall present your errand to the king. And
if fortune allows your suit to prosper immediately according to your
wishes, you shall go to the king’s hand and thereafter enter the
fellowship of the hird according to the customs which those who plead
your case will teach you. But if the king makes promise and fixes a day
when you are to appear and the matter is to be settled, it must rest
till that time. If the king postpones the decision, saying as is not
unlikely: “I know nothing about this man, either as to repute or
manners, and cannot reply at once to his request but must first observe
clearly his ways of thinking and doing;” then the matter is closed for
the time being. But you may, if you are so disposed, continue your suit
and try to find a more convenient time, when your affairs may have a
more favorable outcome. However, while you are seeking to gain the
king’s favor, you will need above all to keep close to the best and most
discreet men, and you should often be seen in the company of those who
are dearest to the king. But pay all the necessary outlay out of your
own means, however long this probation may last, unless you should
sometime be invited by the king’s order to his tables. And let it not be
true in your case as is true in the case of many an unwise man, that the
more often you find yourself invited, the more you begin to long for
another’s fare, lest upright men come to regard you as selfish and
impertinent, and those become hostile who were formerly your friends and
comrades. Walk uprightly, therefore, and be heedful in all such matters,
lest evil befall you through lack of foresight.




_Son._ If you permit, I will ask to be allowed a few words in this
discussion. On what do you base your statement that it is considered
good deportment among princes for a man to come bareheaded and without a
mantle when he comes to seek audience with them. If anyone did thus in
the country, the mob would say that the man was a fool to run about in
that way without a cloak like a ninny.

_Father._ I told you a little earlier in our conversation that many a
man goes about in ignorance as to what is fitting in a king’s house,
because many things look stupid to the multitude which are considered
proper in the presence of kings and other great men. Now you shall know
of a truth, not only that it is fitting to come without a mantle when
one appears for the first time before a king, but also that in many
places it is as proper to wear one’s mantle in the royal presence as to
leave it off. But since you have asked the reason why it should seem
more decorous to appear before princes without one’s mantle than to wear
it, it might be a more than sufficient answer to say that it is the
custom wherever well-bred men appear in the presence of mighty lords to
come without a mantle, and that whoever is ignorant of that custom is
there called a churl.

But these facts may serve as an additional answer: if a man appears
before magnates wrapped in his cloak, he shows in that way that he
regards himself as an equal to them in whose presence he is; for he
comes clad in all his finery like a lord, and acts as if he need not
serve any one. But if he lays aside his cloak, he shows that he is ready
for service, if the one who is entitled to receive rather than to do
service is willing to accept it. Likewise there are instances of this
other fact, which often necessitates caution, that many are envious of a
king; and if his enemy is rash and bold, he can indeed come before the
king with hidden perils and murderous weapons, if he is allowed to wear
his mantle; but he cannot easily accomplish this if he comes without his
cloak. It is therefore evident that he was a wise man who first ordained
the formality that a man should appear without a mantle before great
lords and especially before kings. For that custom has since led to
greater security against secret treason which could easily be hidden
under the cloak, if it were worn. The custom has also promoted fair
dealing and concord among men, for in this matter they all enjoy the
same rights; and this being the accepted custom, one is not suspected or
searched more than others.




_Son._ Although this custom seemed strange to me before I heard your
comment, it now looks as if it were founded on good sense and is not to
be dispensed with; and therefore it will be well if you will continue to
recount and point out to me all the forms of speech and conduct which
one needs to observe in the presence of kings and other great men.

_Father._ Keep carefully in mind, while in the king’s presence, that you
ought not to engage in conversation with other men and thus fail to pay
heed to everything that the king says, lest it happen, if he addresses a
remark to you, that you have to ask what he said. For it always looks
ill for one to be so inattentive that the words spoken to him must be
repeated before he can hear; and it looks particularly bad in the
presence of important men. Still, it can very often come to pass, when
one is in a lord’s presence, that other men crowd about him and ask
questions of many sorts; sometimes this is due to the stupidity of those
who do thus, but often the reason may be that he who acts in this way
would not be displeased if something should be found to be censured in
him who has a plea to make.

Now if it should happen while you are standing before a king that some
one in the meantime should try to address a question or other remark to
you, have friendly words ready on your lips and reply in this wise:
“Wait a moment, my good man, while I listen a while to what the king
says; later I shall be pleased to talk with you as long as you wish.” If
he still tries to have further words with you, speak no more to him then
until the king has finished his remarks. If it now should happen that
the king has a few words to say to you, be very careful in your answer
not to use plural terms in phrases that refer to yourself, though you do
use the plural, as is proper, in all phrases referring to the king. But
even more you need to beware of what fools frequently do, namely using
the plural in phrases referring to yourself, while you employ the
singular in those that refer to the king. And if the king should happen
to speak a few words to you which you did not catch, and you have to ask
what he said, do not say “Eh?” or “What?” or make a fuss about it, but
use only the word “Sire;” or if you prefer to ask in more words: “My
lord, be not offended if I ask what you said to me, but I did not quite
catch it.” But see to it that it happens in rare cases only that the
king need to repeat his remarks to you more than once before you grasp



                  THE PROPER USES OF “YOU” AND “THOU”

_Son._ On what ground is it thought better to phrase all remarks
addressed to lords in the plural than in the singular? When one directs
a prayer to God, Who is higher and more excellent than all others, the
expressions that refer to Him are all phrased in the singular; for
everyone who makes his prayer to God speaks in this wise: “Almighty God,
my Lord, hear Thou my prayer and be Thou more merciful toward me than I
deserve.” But I hear no one form his words in this wise: “My Lord, hear
my prayer and deal better with me because of Your mercy than I deserve.”
Now I am not sure that my question is a very wise one; still, since you
have allowed me to ask whatever I desire to know, I shall look for an
informing reply as before, even though I ask like a child.

_Father._ I shall indeed be glad to explain everything to you as far as
I am able; but I do not see why you are searching into this matter so
closely that one shall even have to give reasons for the choice of terms
in holy prayer. For the teachers of the church are far better able to
interpret matters that belong to divinity than I. But since every
question looks toward a reply, I shall explain this to you in a few
words, as it seems most reasonable to me; and I shall take up first what
seems to me the most important. Now I believe the terms used in sacred
prayers are chosen so that we call upon the divine name in the singular
rather than in the plural, in order that all who believe in God may
clearly understand that we believe in one true God and not in numerous
idols like the heathen who formerly called upon seven gods. For they
held that one god ruled the heavens; another, the heavenly bodies; a
third, the earth and its fruits; a fourth, the sea and its waters; a
fifth, the air and the winds; a sixth, learning and eloquence; a
seventh, death and hell. Now we should honor the one true God Whom all
creation serves and call upon Him in singular terms, lest false gods
obtain our worship, if when calling upon the divine name we use plural
terms, as if there were more than one God. There is this added reason,
that simple-minded folk may conclude that there are more gods than one
if His name be invoked in plural terms. Thus it is rightfully and wisely
ordered, so that a simple and holy faith shall have no cause to stray
away from the true highway. Now if you do not fully grasp this speech,
we shall find more to say; but if it has led you to clearer insight, we
may as well direct our thoughts to the other matters that you have asked



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ These things seem very clear to me and it appears both reasonable
and necessary that one should use the singular rather than the plural in
addressing God, lest the true faith be debased by the use of plural
expressions and the cunning adversaries obtain the worship that a simple
and true faith refuses them. But now I wish to have you turn to what I
asked about the mighty men of this world, and explain why it seems
better to address them in plural than in singular terms.

_Father._ It might be a sufficient answer to state that it seems better
to address princes in plural than in singular terms for the reason that
well-bred people have found it so from the beginning; and it has since
become a custom among all discreet and courteous men, and is done in
honor of those who are addressed and are entitled to a deferential mode
of address. But this is the thought which they had in mind who
originated these expressions, that men of power are not like all others
who have only themselves and their households to care for and are
responsible for a few men only. For chieftains are responsible for all
those who are subject to them in service or authority, and they have not
only one man’s answer on the tongue but have indeed to answer for many.
And when a good chief departs this life, it is not as if one man is
lost, but it is a great loss to all those who received support and
honors from him; and they seem to be of less consequence after they have
lost their chief than before while he was living, unless one shall come
into his stead who will be as gracious to them as the departed one was.
Now since great lords both maintain the honor of many and have great
cares and liabilities on their account, it is surely proper to honor
them by using the plural forms of address in all speech that those who
are humbler and of less consequence may have to address to them. But
there remain those things which were learned or thought of when this
custom was first ordained: that kings and other powerful men are not
alone in their deliberations but are associated with many other wise and
distinguished men; and therefore, when a chief is addressed in plural
terms, it may be thought that the words are not addressed to the king
alone, but also to all those who sit in his councils as his advisers.

In my last speech I also mentioned that you must have care never to use
the plural in expressions referring to yourself, lest you seem to regard
yourself as on an equality with the one to whom you are speaking, if he
is of higher rank than you are. And even when you talk with an equal or
with a humbler man than you are, it is not fitting for you to honor
yourself with plural terms. You must also beware when in the presence of
princes, lest you become too verbose in your talk; for great lords and
all discreet men are displeased with prolixity and regard it as tedious
and worthless folly. Further, if you have a matter to present, whether
it concerns yourself or others, present it clearly but with quick
utterance and in the fewest possible words; for constantly there comes
before kings and other lords such a great mass of business respecting
the manifold needs of their subjects, that they have neither time nor
inclination to hear a case discussed in a long, detailed speech. And it
is very evident that, if a man is clever and fluent in speech, he will
find it easy to state his case in a few rapidly spoken words, so that
the one who is to reply will grasp it readily. Then, too, if one is not
an orator and, even more, is awkward in speech, the briefer the errand
on his tongue, the better it is; for a man can somehow manage to get
through with a few words and thus conceal his awkwardness from those to
whom it is unknown. But when a man makes an elaborate effort, he will
surely seem the more unskilful the longer he talks.

Now such things there are and others like them into which a man, if he
wishes to be called well-bred, must get some insight and which he ought
to learn at home before he goes very often to have conversation with
great lords. And from all this you will see how courtly and cultured
they ought to be in their manners and conduct who are constantly to be
near a king in all manner of honorable intercourse, since it has
appeared to knowing men as if one is scarcely prepared to come into the
king’s presence to converse with him unless he has mastered all these
things that we have now talked about, except he should be a perfect
boor, and not to be reckoned or classed among well-bred people but among
the very churls. Still, you must know this, too, that there are many who
have spent a long time at court, and know but little or nothing about
these things. And this is true of those who bear the hirdman’s name and
should be very close to the king, as well as of those who have lesser
titles and rarely see the king. It must have been of such as these last
mentioned that you spoke earlier in our conversation when you remarked
that those who came from the court seemed no more polished or cultured,
or even less, than those who had never been at court. To that I replied,
and with truth, that everyone who wishes to be proper in his conduct
needs to guard against such ignorance as they are guilty of, who know
not the meaning of shame or honor or courtesy, and learn nothing from
the conduct of good and courtly men, even though they see it daily
before their eyes.




_Son._ It is a fact that I have met some who, though they came from
court, either concealed the sort of manners that you have now discussed,
if they knew them, or had, as I remarked, never gained insight into such
matters. Now it is not strange that those who remain at home in
ignorance or are not of an inquiring mind know little or nothing about
such things; but it is more to be wondered at, as you have just said,
that many remain a long time with the king and close to him in service,
and still do not learn either what courtesy means or what courtly
manners are. Therefore, since you have warned me to beware of such
ignorance, I want to ask you how this can be and how a king who is
well-bred and courteous can be willing to keep men about his person to
serve him, who refuse to live according to good manners. For I have
thought that, if a king is courteous and refined, all would imitate him
in decorum, and that he would not care much for churlish men.

_Father._ It may happen sometimes that a husbandman who is accustomed to
eat good bread and clean food has to mix chaff or bran with his flour so
as to make his bread and that of his household last longer than common;
and at such times he must, though reluctant, partake of such food as is
set before him in the same thankful spirit as earlier, when he was given
good and clean food; and such cases result from grinding necessity, that
is, from crop failures. But scarcity arises in many ways. Sometimes
there is dearth of grain, even when the earth continues to yield grass
and straw, though at times it gives neither. There are times, too, when
the earth gives good and sufficient fruitage, and yet no one is
profited, for dearth is in the air, and bad weather ruins the crops at
harvest time. Sometimes smut[246] causes trouble, though the crop is
plentiful and the weather good. It can also happen at times that all
vegetation flourishes at its best, and there is no dearth; and yet there
may be great scarcity on some man’s farm or among his cattle, or in the
ocean, or in the fresh waters, or in the hunting forests. Sometimes when
everything goes wrong, it may even come to pass that all these failures
occur together; and then bran will be as dear among men as clean flour
was earlier, when times were good, or even dearer than that. All these
forms of dearth which I have now recounted must be regarded as great
calamities in every land where they occur; and it would mean almost
complete ruin if they should all appear at the same time and continue
for a period of three years.

Footnote 246:

  _Skjaðak._ The translation is uncertain; possibly some sort of weed is

There remains another kind of dearth which alone is more distressing
than all those which I have enumerated: dearth may come upon the people
who inhabit the land, or, what is worse, there may come failure in the
morals, the intelligence, or the counsels of those who are to govern the
land. For something can be done to help a country where there is famine,
if capable men are in control and there is prosperity in the neighboring
lands. But if dearth comes upon the people or the morals of the nation,
far greater misfortunes will arise. For one cannot buy from other
countries with money either morals or insight, if what was formerly in
the land should be lost or destroyed. But even though there be failure
of harvest on a peasant’s farm, which has always been good and which he
and his kinsmen before him have owned a long time, he will not take such
an angry dislike to it that, caring no longer what becomes of it, he
will proceed forthwith to dispose of it; much rather will he plan to
garner and store grass and chaff as carefully as he once garnered good
and clean grain, or even more so, and in this way provide for his
household as best he can, until God wills that times shall improve. In
this way, too, a king must act, if he should suffer the misfortune of
dearth upon the morals or the intelligence of his realm: he must not
renounce the kingdom, but necessity may force him to rate the men of
little wit as high as the wise were rated earlier while the kingdom
stood highest in prosperity and morals. Sometimes punishment will serve
and sometimes prayer; something may also be gained through instruction;
but the land must be maintained in every way possible until God wills
that times shall improve.




_Son._ I see clearly now that troubles may befall men in many ways, the
mighty as well as the humble, kings as well as cotters. But as you have
given me this freedom and have allowed me to question you in our
conversation, I shall ask you to enlarge somewhat fully upon this speech
before we take up another. What is your opinion as to the causes of such
a severe dearth as may come upon the minds of men, so that all is ruined
at the same time, insight and national morals? And do you think such
losses should be traced to the people who inhabit the realm or to the
king and the men who manage the state with him?

_Father._ What you have now asked about has its origin in various facts
and occurrences of a harmful character. I believe, however, that such
misfortunes would rarely appear among the people who inhabit and till
the land, if the men who govern the realm were discreet and the king
himself were wise. But when God, because of the sins of the people,
determines to visit a land with a punishment that means destruction to
morals and intellect, He will carry out His decision promptly, though in
various ways, as soon as He wills it. Instances of this have occurred
frequently and in various places, where trouble has come when a
chieftain, who possessed both wealth and wisdom and who had been highly
honored by the king, having sat in his council and shared largely with
him in the government, departed this life leaving four or five sons in
his place, all in their early youth or childhood. Then the king and the
whole realm have suffered immediate injury: the king has lost a good
friend, an excellent adviser, and a strong bulwark. Next the man’s
possessions are divided into five parts, and all his projects are
disturbed. His household sinks in importance, since each of the sons has
but a fifth of all the power that the father derived from his means
while he was living, and has even less of his insight and knowledge of
manners, being a mere child. Greater still will the change be if he
leaves no son at his decease but as many daughters as I have now counted
sons; but the very greatest change will come if neither sons nor
daughters survive him; for then it is likely that his possessions will
be split up among distant relatives, unless a near kinsman be found.

Now if many such events should occur at one time in a kingdom, vigor
would disappear from the king’s council, though he himself be very
capable. And if it should happen (for there are cases of such events as
well as of the others) that a king depart this life and leave a young
son who succeeds to the paternal kingdom, though a mere child, and young
counsellors come into the places of the old and wise advisers who were
before,—if all these things that we have now recounted should happen at
one time, then it is highly probable that all the government of the
realm would be stricken with dearth, and that, when the government goes
to ruin, the morals of the nation would also fail to some extent.

There still remains the one contingency which is most likely to bring on
such years of dearth as produce the greatest evils; and unfortunately
there are no fewer instances of such issues than of those that we have
just mentioned. If a king who has governed a kingdom should happen to
die, and leave behind three or four sons, and the men who are likely to
be made counsellors be all young and full of temerity, though wealthy
and of good ancestry, since they have sprung from families that formerly
conducted the government with the king,—now if a kingdom should come
into such unfortunate circumstances as have been described, with several
heirs at the same time, and the evil counsel is furthermore taken to
give them all the royal title and dignity, then that realm must be
called a rudderless ship or a decayed estate; it may be regarded almost
as a ruined kingdom, for it is sown with the worst seeds of famine and
the grains of unpeace. For the petty kings, having rent the realm
asunder, will quickly divide the loyalty of the people who inhabit the
land, both of the rich and of the poor; and each of these lords will
then try to draw friends about him, as many as he can. Thereupon each
will begin to survey his realm as to population and wealth; and when he
recalls what his predecessor possessed, each will feel that he has too
little. Then the friends, too, of each one will remind him of and tell
about how much the king who ruled before him possessed in wealth and
numbers and what great undertakings he set out upon; and it seems as if
in every suggestion each one tries to urge his lord to seize upon more
than he already has. After that these lords begin to treasure those
riches that are of the least profit to the kingdom, namely envy: trivial
matters are carefully garnered and great wrath is blown out of them.
Soon the love of kinship begins to decay; he who was earlier called
friend and relative is now looked upon as an evil-doer, for soon each
one begins to be suspicious of the others. But when suspicion and evil
rumors begin to appear, wicked men think that good times are at hand,
and they all bring out their plows. Before long the seeds of hostility
begin to sprout, avarice and iniquity flourish, and men grow bold in
manslaying, high-handed robbery, and theft.

Now if it happens that one of these princes should wish to punish the
aforesaid vices in his kingdom, the wicked take refuge in the service of
some other master; and, though they have been driven from home because
of their misdeeds, they pretend to have come in innocence to escape the
cruel wrath of their lord. The one to whom they have fled gives
protection in temerity rather than in mercy; for he wishes to acquire
friends in the other’s realm, who may prove useful to himself and
hostile to the other in case they should come to disagreement. But those
who had to flee because of their evil conduct and law-breaking soon
begin to show hostility toward the lord whose subjects they formerly
were and to rouse as much enmity as they can between him and the one to
whom they have come. They take revenge for their exile by carrying
murder, rapine, and plundering into the kingdom, as if they were
guiltless and all the blame lay with the lord. Soon immorality begins to
multiply, for God shows His wrath in this way, that where the four
boundaries of the territories of these chiefs touch, he places a moving
wheel which turns on a restless axle. After that each one forgets all
brotherly love, and kinship is wrecked. Nothing is now spared, for
whenever the people are divided into many factions through loyalty to
different chiefs, and these fall out, the masses will rashly pursue
their desires, and the morals of the nation go to ruin. For then
everyone makes his own moral code according to his own way of thinking;
and no one fears punishment any longer when the rulers fall out and are
weakened thereby.

When each one looks only to his own tricks and wiles, great misfortunes
of all kinds will come upon the land. Murder and quarrels will multiply;
many women will be carried off as captives of war and violated, while
others will be ensnared and seduced into fornication; children will be
begotten in adultery and unlawful co-habitation. Some take their
kinswomen or sisters-in-law, while others seduce wives away from their
husbands; and thus all forms of whoredom are committed and degeneracy
will come to light in all the generations that are begotten in such
immorality. Every form of crime will be committed. Peasants and subjects
become defiant and disobedient; they are not careful to avoid crimes,
and though they commit many, they atone for few only. Trusting in their
own strength and numbers, they attend seditious meetings; and they
choose as their part what is likely to bring a dangerous outcome, for
they place all men on the same level, the discreet and decent ones with
the coarse and stupid, and they screen foolish and iniquitous men from
punishment, though these deserve it every day. And this they do either
by swearing falsely and giving false witness in their behalf, or by
making a foolhardy and crafty defence at the court of trial, so that the
guilty have to answer for nothing before the kingsmen who assist the
king in carrying out the law. For the unthinking mob seem to imagine
that the king was appointed to be their opponent; and a foolish man
regards himself fortunate and highly favored in the eyes of thoughtless
people, if he can maintain himself for some time in opposition to royal
authority and the prescriptions of law. And if such men have disputes to
settle anywhere, the wicked will support the foolish one, so that he may
prevail in the controversy; thus the upright and the peaceful are robbed
of their dues. If the greedy or the quarrelsome is slain because of his
avarice, his stupid kinsmen who survive him will feel that their family
has been greatly injured and impaired thereby; and if at some earlier
time there was slain one of their family who was both wise and peaceful,
and whose wisdom and even temper proved useful to many, and if this one
was atoned for with a payment to the kindred, they will now ask as large
a fine for the unwise as what was formerly taken for the prudent one;
otherwise there will be revenge by manslaying.

But when God sees that such misjudgments, born of perversity and
unwisdom, are decreed, He turns the injustice back upon those who first
began to pass unfair and unfounded judgments. For as soon as the foolish
or the avaricious sees that he is held in high regard, even more than
the wise with his even temper, and that his avarice and folly are turned
to honor and advancement, he will do according to his nature and the
custom of all foolish men: he will become more grasping and will operate
more widely in his greed. And when the mob begins to regard that as
worthy of praise and renown which is evil and should be hated by all,
the second and the third will learn it and the one after the other,
until it becomes common custom; and he alone will be counted a worthy
man who is grasping and knows how to detract unjustly from another’s
honor to his own profit. After that the one deals greedily with the
other, till misfortune turns against the very ones whose folly and
wickedness originally began these evil practices. For one will finally
bring evil upon another, wounds or other afflictions, and thus all old
and lawful ordinances must decay. Now everyone holds that the king and
other great lords should temper the severity of the laws with mercy; but
none of the commoners seems willing to deal justly with another; indeed,
each would rather demand more than what he was entitled to from the
beginning. But when all lawful ordinances and right punishments are
ignored and unlaw and malice take their place, and this condition
becomes so general that God is wearied, He applies the punishment that
is able to reach all, since the guilt has touched all. He throws hatred
and enmity down among the chiefs who are placed in control of the realm;
when things go ill there may also come failure of crops; and the chiefs
soon begin to quarrel, for each finds complaints in the other’s kingdom,
which are finally settled with slaughter and strife.

But whenever famine, murder, and warfare begin to arrive together and
visit all those who inhabit the realm, the kingdom will be brought near
to utter weakness and ruin, if the period should continue any length of
time. Though laws and useful customs may have been observed and
maintained to some extent in the times mentioned earlier, they will be
wholly forgotten whenever such times appear as those that we have just
now described; for in warfare the best men and those of the noblest
kinship are destroyed. But failure of crops, rapine, and unpeace of
every sort that may then appear will rob those of wealth who are in
possession of it and have acquired it honestly, while he gets it who can
most readily deprive others by theft and plunder. And when such a time
comes upon a nation, it will suffer loss in good morals and capable men,
wealth and security, and every blessing as long as God permits the
plague to continue. But He metes out according to His mercy, for He is
able to save such a country, when He finds that the people have been
sufficiently chastised for their sins. Now you can imagine how highly
moral the people will become, if such a nation is saved by God’s grace
and again brought under the rule of a single monarch, and how prosperous
the realm may become in the period immediately following such an unrest
as I have just described. For then the kingdom was rent, the morals of
the people were confused, and their loyalty was divided among a number
of lords, each one of whom was striving to contrive and employ against
the others cunning, deception, disloyalty, and evil in every form.[247]

Footnote 247:

  In this chapter the author has summed up the history of Norwegian
  kingship in the twelfth century, when minorities were frequent and
  joint kingships almost the rule. Three boys were proclaimed kings in
  1103; two kings shared the power in 1130; the royal title fell to
  three children in 1136. At no time was the realm actually divided, the
  theory being that the administration and the revenues might be
  divided, while the monarchy remained a unit. The century was a period
  of great calamities; pretenders were numerous; and civil war raged at
  intervals. For a fuller discussion of the theory of Norwegian kingship
  in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, see above, pp. 35 ff.




_Son._ It is perfectly evident that if all these misfortunes should
befall a kingdom and the period of trouble were to continue for some
time, the realm would decline. There surely must be instances of such an
issue, and we may safely conclude that wherever such events come to
pass, there will be much evil and manifold misfortunes before they
cease. I also see clearly that if the morals or laws of a kingdom are
undermined by such troubles as you have described, even though God
should purpose to rescue it finally from distress and unpeace and bring
it again under one ruler after such troublous times, the people who
survive are likely to be both wicked and vicious; and there will surely
be need, as you have said, of good instruction and at times even of very
severe punishment. Furthermore, even if the kingdom did possess
tolerable morals for a time before the unpeace came, he who is to
undertake the government, though he be very wise, will need to use great
determination and severity for a long period, if the realm is to be
replaced on its earlier footing.

I have been deeply interested in your discussion of what may bring the
greatest damage to a kingdom (and it may be rendered worthless through
loss of morals, population, and wealth, if such conditions should
arise); and I have now been sufficiently informed as to how matters may
shape themselves, if misfortune means to come; and I see clearly what
great losses and damage may follow such events. Now it seems to me that
we have dwelt rather long upon facts which must bring distress to
everyone who wishes to be reputed a moral man (wherefore all, both rich
and poor, should implore the Lord to let no such times come in their
days), and I will therefore return to what I began with and ask you to
point out the manners and customs which you think would be becoming to
me, if I were employed in the royal service, no matter what times might
come, though I will pray the Lord that as long as I live there may be
peace and quiet and prosperous times.

_Father._ No one knows how God will order such things during the days of
any man’s lifetime. But if a man determines to be a kingsman and there
happens to be much distress and many disasters at the time because of
too many rulers or unpeace in some form, he must be careful to join the
service of the one who has obtained the power in the most legal manner
and is most likely to observe the customs that rightful and well-bred
kings have observed before his day. He is then least likely to incur
danger in accounting for his service, whether he be called to account in
this world or in the next. But you have asked what customs you should
observe if you were bound to a royal service, and on that point I can
very well inform you.

This should be the first principle of all your conduct, never to let
your heart be wanting in reverence and fear of God, to love him above
everything else, and next to him to love righteousness. Train yourself
to be fair, upright, and temperate in all things. Always keep in mind
the day of death and guard carefully against vices. Remember that many a
man lives but a brief time, while his deeds live long after him; and it
is of great importance what is remembered about him. Some have reached
fame through good deeds, and these always live after them, for one’s
honor lives forever, though the man himself be dead. Some win fame by
evil deeds and these men, though they be dead, bear a burden of lasting
disgrace when their deeds are recalled; their kinsmen, too, and all
their descendants after their days have to bear the same dishonor.
Those, however, are most numerous who drop away like cattle and are
remembered neither for good nor for evil; but you shall know of a truth
that such is surely not the purpose of mankind; for all other creatures
were made for the pleasure and subsistence of man, while man was created
to enjoy the glories of both this and the other world, if he is to
realize the purpose of his creation. Every one, therefore, while he
still lives, should strive to leave a few such deeds after him as will
cause him to be remembered with favor after he has departed this life.
But this is above all the duty of kings and other mighty chiefs and of
all those who seek their society and enter their service; for after that
a man is no longer looked upon as a churl, but is honored as a governor
or a chief; and thus he ought to be honored, if he strives to observe
the customs that are becoming to himself and his dignity.

Take heed lest you vacillate in friendship among several chiefs, as
fickle men do; for no one who acts thus can be firm in purpose. Love
your lord highly and without guile as long as you stay in his service,
and never seek the society or the confidence of his enemies, if you wish
to remain a man of honor. Above your lord you must love God alone, but
no other man. These are the things that you must especially avoid, lest
they bring you an evil name: perjury and false testimony, brothels,
drinking bouts, except in the king’s house or in decent gatherings,
casting dice for silver, lust after bribes, and all other evil
covetousness; for these things are a great disgrace to every kingsman in
this world and his soul will be in peril in the other world, if he is
found guilty of such vices. Never get drunk, wherever you are; for it
may fall out at any time that you will be summoned to hear a dispute or
to supervise something, or that you will have important business of your
own to look after. Now if such demands should come to a man while he is
drunk, he will be found wholly incompetent; wherefore drunkenness should
be avoided by everyone, and most of all by kingsmen and others who wish
to be reputed as worthy men, for such are most frequently called to hear
suits at law and to other important duties. Moreover, they ought to set
good examples for all, as some may wish to learn decorum from their

If you are a kingsman you must observe the same prudence in your address
and habits, and do not forget this. You should frequently be seen in
your lord’s presence. Early in the morning you must escort him to
church, if he observes that custom, as by right he ought to do; listen
attentively to the service while you are in the church, and call
devoutly upon God for mercy. When the king leaves the church, join him
at once and keep sufficiently near him to be in sight, so that he may be
able to call you for any purpose, if he should wish to do so. But do not
keep so close to him as to make him feel annoyed by your presence, when
he wishes to speak with men whom he has called to converse with him, or
to discuss such matters as he wishes to keep secret. Never show an
interest in those affairs which you see that your lord wishes to keep to
himself, unless he summons you to share knowledge with him. But if
anything should come up that your lord confides to you but wishes to
have kept secret, keep it carefully in discreet silence; do not babble
about such affairs as should be hidden in your fidelity.

You must also make a habit of going to the royal apartments early in the
morning before the king has arisen; but be sure to come carefully washed
and bathed and wearing your best raiment; and wait near the king’s
chamber until he has arisen. Go into the king’s chamber if he calls you,
but at no other time; but wherever it is that the king summons you, you
must come into his presence without your mantle. If it is early in the
morning and you have not seen him before, wish him a good day in the
words that I have already taught you; but approach only so near as to
leave him sufficient room to confer with the men who are nearest to him,
and remain standing there. But if he calls you to come nearer, wishing
to speak with you in private, then kneel before him but only so near
that you can readily hear his words; and come without your mantle.
However, if he invites you to be seated, you may put on your cloak, if
you like, and be seated where he indicates.

Now when it happens that the king goes out to seek diversion, whether it
be in town or in the country, or wherever he is sojourning, and you and
your comrades accompany him, the retinue looks best, whether you are
armed or not, if you walk in equal numbers on either side of the king,
though never in compact groups. Wherever you go he should walk in your
midst, and you and your companions should be arranged in equal numbers
before and behind him and on either side. But none of you must walk so
near the king that he has not sufficient space to converse with those
whom he summons to him, whether he wishes to speak with them openly or
in private. And even though he call no one to have speech with him, keep
the order such that there is plenty of space around him on all sides.
But when the king rides out for amusement and you and your comrades
accompany him, arrange the order of riding in the way that I have
suggested about your walking; only keep at a greater distance, so that
no dirt can splash from your horses upon the king, even though you ride
quite rapidly.

If the king should call you by name, be careful not to answer by “Eh?”
or “Hm?” or “What?” but rather speak in this wise: “Yes, my lord, I am
glad to listen!” Also take good heed not to rush away early in the
morning to eat and drink with greedy and unmannerly men. Wait, as custom
demands, till the king’s meal time, and take your seat at the royal
tables, whenever you are present at court. But when the king sits down
to eat with his hirdmen, these ought all to observe good manners and
decent order, and the one should never run in ahead of the other like an
ill-bred man; but each ought to know his right place and table
companion; and the men should sit at the table in the same order as when
they are out walking. The men should go by twos, those who sit together,
to lave their hands, whether the washing is done within the hall or
without, and then to the table, each in the order and to the seat that
he knows was assigned to him in the beginning. The hirdmen ought to
speak in a low tone at the table so that not a single word will be heard
by those who sit on either side of the two who wish to converse; let
each one speak to his partner so softly that none shall hear but those
who are conversing; then there will be good deportment and quiet in the
king’s hall. You may, however, partake freely and quickly of both the
food and the drink on the table according to your needs without
suffering any discredit to your manners; but always take good heed not
to get drunk. You should cast frequent glances toward the king’s seat to
see how his service is going forward, and always note carefully when the
king raises the beaker to his lips, for you must not eat while he is
drinking. If you have a cup in your hand, set it down and do not drink
just then. You must show the queen everywhere the same honor as you show
the king according as I have told you. And if the king has a guest at
his table who ought to be shown the same deference, whether he be a
king, an earl, an archbishop, or a bishop, you should observe these same
customs which I have just taught you. However, if the number of
distinguished people at the royal table should be large, you need not
observe this custom as to drinking unless you wish, except when the king
or the queen drinks, or when there is another king at the table with

Now if the king’s hirdmen happen to be seated together in the royal hall
but with no tables before them and certain lords come in whom the king
is pleased to receive with honor, it is the duty of all men to rise
before them just as before their own lords and to give them such cordial
greetings as they know that the king desires. But this is an honor which
every kingsman owes to his fellows: when one who has been absent comes
in and walks toward the seat where he has his proper place and position,
the two who sit nearest to him on either side should rise, receive him
in a friendly manner, and bid him welcome among them. Wherever the
kingsmen are much in the eyes of other men, whether they sit together at
a feast, or walk in the king’s escort, or go out together to make merry,
they ought always to speak in rather low tones, to be proper in their
actions and elegant in their speech, and to avoid all indecent talk. All
these rules which I have now recounted must be learned and observed by
all kingsmen who wish to be known for good breeding. But no matter how
others behave, be sure that you observe carefully all that I have taught
you, and be willing to teach others who may wish to learn from you.

Now if your comrades are planning to go from the king’s apartments to
some drinking bout or other merrymaking, and you, too, have the king’s
permission to seek diversion, you should prefer the forms of amusement
which I shall now point out to you. If you are sojourning where horses
may be ridden and you have your own horse, put on heavy armor and,
mounting your horse, train yourself in the art of sitting on horseback
in the firmest and most handsome manner. Train yourself to press the
foot firmly into the stirrup; keep your leg stiff and the heel a little
lower than the toes, except when you have to guard against thrusts from
the front; and practice sitting firmly with the thighs pressed close.
Cover your breast and limbs carefully with a curved shield. Train your
left hand to grasp firmly the bridle and the grip of the shield, and
your right hand to direct the spear-thrust so that all your bodily
strength will support it. Train your good steed to veer about when in
full gallop; keep him clean and in good condition; keep him shod firmly
and well, and provide him with a strong and handsome harness.

But if you are in a borough or some such place where horses cannot be
used for recreation, you should take up this form of amusement: go to
your chambers and put on heavy armor; next look up some fellow henchman
(he may be a native or an alien) who likes to drill with you and whom
you know to be well trained to fight behind a shield or a buckler.
Always bring heavy armor to this exercise, either chain mail or a thick
gambison,[248] and carry a heavy sword and a weighty shield or buckler
in your hand. In this game you should strive to learn suitable thrusts
and such counterstrokes as are good, necessary, and convenient. Learn
precisely how to cover yourself with the shield, so that you may be able
to guard well when you have to deal with a foeman. If you feel that it
is important to be well trained in these activities, go through the
exercise twice a day, if it is convenient; but let no day pass, except
holidays, without practicing this drill at least once; for it is counted
proper for all kingsmen to master this art and, moreover, it must be
mastered if it is to be of service. If the drill tires you and makes you
thirsty, drink a little now and then, enough to quench your thirst; but
while the game is on, be careful not to drink till you are drunk or even

Footnote 248:

  The gambison (_panzari_) was a form of defensive armor made of cloth
  padded and quilted. It is described on page 217 as being made “of soft
  linen thoroughly blackened.” Usually it was worn under the coat of
  mail, but it could also be worn outside. See _Annaler for nordisk
  Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 74 ff. (Blom.); Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_,

If you should like to try a variety of drills and pastimes, there are
certain sports that one can take up out of doors, if that is thought
more diverting. For one thing, you may have a pole prepared, somewhat
heavier than a spear shaft, and put up a mark some distance away for a
target; with these you can determine how far and how accurately you can
throw a spear and do it effectively. It is also counted rare sport and
pastime to take one’s bow and go with other men to practice archery.
Another pleasant and useful diversion is to practice throwing with a
sling both for distance and for accuracy, and with a staff sling[249] as
well as with a hand sling, and to practice throwing stone missiles.
Formerly the custom was for all who wished to become expert in such arts
and thoroughly proficient in war and chivalry to train both hands alike
to the use of weapons. Strive after the same skill, if you find yourself
gifted for it, inasmuch as those who are trained in that way are the
most perfect in these activities and the most dangerous to their

Footnote 249:

  The staff sling was a sling fastened to the end of a stick; it was an
  earlier form which was not used much in the thirteenth century.

You should abhor and avoid manslaying in every form except as a lawful
punishment or in common warfare. But in ordinary warfare on the lawful
command of your chief, you need to shun manslaying no more than any
other deed which you know to be right and good. Show courage and bravery
in battle; fight with proper and effective blows, such as you have
already learned, as if in the best of humor, though filled with noble
wrath. Never fight with feigned strokes, needless thrusts, or uncertain
shots like a frightened man. Heed these things well that you may be able
to match your opponent’s skill in fighting. Be resolute in combat but
not hot-headed and least of all boastful. Always remember that there may
be those who can give good testimony in your behalf; but never praise
your own deeds, lest after a time it should come to pass that you are
pursued for the slaughter of men whose death is rated a great loss and
the revenge is directed toward you by your own words.

If you are fighting on foot in a land battle and are placed at the point
of a wedge-shaped column,[250] it is very important to watch the closed
shield line in the first onset, lest it become disarranged or broken.
Take heed never to bind the front edge of your shield under that of
another.[251] You must also be specially careful, when in the battle
line, never to throw your spear, unless you have two, for in battle
array on land one spear is more effective than two swords. But if the
fight is on shipboard, select two spears which are not to be thrown, one
with a shaft long enough to reach easily from ship to ship and one with
a shorter shaft, which you will find particularly serviceable when you
try to board the enemy’s ship. Various kinds of darts should be kept on
ships, both heavy javelins and lighter ones. Try to strike your
opponent’s shield with a heavy javelin, and if the shield glides aside,
attack him with a light javelin, unless you are able to reach him with a
long-shafted spear. Fight on sea as on land with an even temper and with
proper strokes only; and never waste your weapons by hurling them to no

Footnote 250:

  The wedge-shaped column (_svínfylking_, perhaps so named from a
  fancied resemblance to a boar’s head) was a common form of battle
  array among the Northern peoples as well as among the early Germans

Footnote 251:

  As the shield was born on the left arm, the front edge would be the
  right edge.

Weapons of many sorts may be used to advantage on shipboard, which one
has no occasion to use on land, except in a fortress or castle.
Longhandled scythes[252] and long-shafted broadaxes,[253] “war-beams”
and staff slings, darts,[254] and missiles of every sort are serviceable
on ships. Crossbows and longbows are useful as well as all other forms
of shooting weapons; but coal and sulphur[255] are, however, the most
effective munitions of all that I have named. Caltrops[256] cast in lead
and good halberds[257] are also effective weapons on shipboard. A tower
joined to the mast[258] will be serviceable along with these and many
other defenses, as is also a beam cloven into four parts and set with
prongs of hard steel,[259] which is drawn up against the mast. A
“prow-boar”[260] with an ironclad snout is also useful in naval battles.
But it is well for men to be carefully trained in handling these before
they have to use them; for one knows neither the time nor the hour when
he shall have to make use of any particular kind of weapons. But take
good heed to collect as many types of weapons as possible, while you
still have no need of them; for it is always a distinction to have good
weapons, and, furthermore, they are a good possession in times of
necessity when one has to use them. For a ship’s defense the following
arrangement is necessary: it should be fortified strongly with beams and
logs built up into a high rampart, through which there should be four
openings, each so large and wide that one or two men in full armor can
leap through them; but outside and along the rampart on both sides of
the ship there should be laid a level walk of planks to stand upon.[261]
This breastwork must be firmly and carefully braced so that it cannot be
shaken though one leaps violently upon it. Wide shields and chain mail
of every sort are good defensive weapons on shipboard; the chief
protection, however, is the gambison made of soft linen thoroughly
blackened, good helmets, and low caps of steel. There are many other
weapons that can be used in naval fights, but it seems needless to
discuss more than those which I have now enumerated.

Footnote 252:

  These scythes were apparently used to catch and hold the hostile ships
  and perhaps also to cut the ropes on the ship. See the Sorö edition,

Footnote 253:

  The broadax (_skeggöx_) had the blade extended backward somewhat like
  that of a halberd, though in the latter case the extension was usually
  forward. See Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 108-110.

Footnote 254:

  _Skeptifletta_: a dart of some sort with a cord attached.

Footnote 255:

  Coal and sulphur seem to have been used chiefly to fire the enemy’s

Footnote 256:

  Caltrops were instruments provided with iron prongs and were usually
  scattered where the enemy’s horsemen were likely to pass, in the hope
  of maiming the horses. It is evident that they were also used in naval
  warfare, the purpose being to maim the men on the enemy’s deck. See
  the Sorö edition, 392.

Footnote 257:

  _Atgeirr._ The translation is doubtful, but it seems clear that some
  kind of spear useful for striking as well as for thrusting is meant.
  See Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 81-82.

Footnote 258:

  Probably some sort of a cage placed at the top or near the top of the
  mast from which men with bows and slings could fight to better
  advantage. See _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1872, 242; Falk,
  _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 197.

Footnote 259:

  Only one end of the beam was cloven in this way. See the Sorö edition,
  394-395. The beam was apparently fastened to the mast and used to
  crush the sides of the enemy’s ship in much the same way as the ram
  was used against a castle wall. See Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_,

Footnote 260:

  The prow-boar (_rôðrgoltr_) was not a beak but apparently some device
  fastened to the prow which served much the same purpose, namely to run
  down and sink an opposing ship. See the Sorö edition, 395-396; Falk,
  _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 198-199.

Footnote 261:

  See the Sorö edition, 397-399; Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 196.
  This rampart was built of logs and planks and raised on the gunwales.
  Sometimes it seems to have been placed along the entire length of the
  ship, but often, perhaps, only where the ship was lowest. Inside it
  was braced with strong beams. The plank walk on the outside projected
  over the edge of the ship and was no doubt in part intended to make it
  difficult for the enemy to board it.




_Son._ Since we now have before us a discussion which teaches chiefly
how a man must prepare himself to meet his enemies in attack and
defense, it seems to me that it would be well to say something about how
one has to fight on land, on horse or on foot, and in attacking and
defending castles. Therefore, if you feel disposed to say anything about
such matters, I shall be glad to listen.

_Father._ The man who is to fight on horseback needs to make sure, as we
have already stated, that he is thoroughly trained in all the arts of
mounted warfare. For his horse he will need to provide this
equipment:[262] he must keep him carefully and firmly shod; he must also
make sure that the saddle is strong, made with high bows, and provided
with strong girths and other saddlegear, including a durable surcingle
across the middle and a breast strap in front.[263] The horse should be
protected in such a way both in front of the saddle and behind it that
he will not be exposed to weapons, spear-thrust or stroke, or any other
form of attack. He should also have a good shabrack[264] made like a
gambison of soft and thoroughly blackened linen cloth, for this is a
good protection against all kinds of weapons. It may be decorated as one
likes, and over the shabrack there should be a good harness of mail.
With this equipment every part of the horse should be covered, head,
loins, breast, belly, and the entire beast, so that no man, even if on
foot, shall be able to reach him with deadly weapons. The horse should
have a strong bridle, one that can be gripped firmly and used to rein
him in or throw him when necessary. Over the bridle and about the entire
head of the horse and around the neck back to the saddle, there should
be a harness made like a gambison of firm linen cloth, so that no man
shall be able to take away the bridle or the horse by stealth.[265]

Footnote 262:

  On the equipment of the horse in medieval warfare, see _Aarböger for
  nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 90-97.

Footnote 263:

  In the thirteenth century the saddle was made with high bows before
  and behind so as to provide a firmer seat for the rider. The surcingle
  was a girth drawn over the saddle; the breast strap served to keep the
  saddle from slipping backwards. _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_,

Footnote 264:

  _Kovertur_, from medieval French _couverture_. But the _couverture_
  was not a covering worn underneath the mail; it was probably the mail
  itself or an outer covering for the horse. See Falk, _Altnordische
  Waffenkunde_, 191.

Footnote 265:

  Falk believes that this description is in some respects inaccurate. No
  such elaborate equipment could have been used in the North where
  cavalry was not an important part of the host in the thirteenth
  century. He also doubts that an equipment just like the one described
  was in use anywhere in Europe at the time. _Ibid._, 190-191. The
  medieval _couverture_ was not placed beneath the covering of mail as
  the _Speculum Regale_ states; and Falk can see no reason why a
  gambison placed beneath the mail should be ornamented. It seems clear
  that the author is somewhat confused as to these various coverings.

The rider himself should be equipped in this wise: he should wear good
soft breeches made of soft and thoroughly blackened linen cloth, which
should reach up to the belt; outside these, good mail hose[266] which
should come up high enough to be girded on with a double strap; over
these he must have good trousers made of linen cloth of the sort that I
have already described; finally, over these he should have good
kneepieces made of thick iron and rivets hard as steel.[267] Above and
next to the body he should wear a soft gambison, which need not come
lower than to the middle of the thigh. Over this he must have a strong
breastplate[268] made of good iron covering the body from the nipples to
the trousers belt; outside this, a well-made hauberk and over the
hauberk a firm gambison made in the manner which I have already
described but without sleeves. He must have a dirk[269] and two swords,
one girded on and another hanging from the pommel of the saddle. On his
head he must have a dependable helmet made of good steel and provided
with a visor.[270] He must also have a strong, thick shield fastened to
a durable shoulder belt and, in addition, a good sharp spear with a firm
shaft and pointed with fine steel. Now it seems needless to speak
further about the equipment of men who fight on horseback; there are,
however, other weapons which a mounted warrior may use, if he wishes;
among these are the “horn bow”[271] and the weaker crossbow, which a man
can easily draw even when on horseback, and certain other weapons, too,
if he should want them.

Footnote 266:

  The mail hose were made of chain mail. _Aarböger for nordisk
  Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 73-74.

Footnote 267:

  The kneepieces, or _genouillères_ were pieces of armor worn to protect
  the knees.

Footnote 268:

  Blom thinks that the breastplate was a new thing in the thirteenth
  century (_ibid._, 76), but Falk believes that it was used quite
  generally (_Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 182).

Footnote 269:

  The dirk (_brynknifr_) was probably a poniard-like weapon used to
  pierce the chain mail at the joints. Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_,

Footnote 270:

  The helmet with the visor appears in the illustrations of the closing
  years of the twelfth century; the earlier helmet was a steel cap with
  a nose guard. _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 83-84.

Footnote 271:

  Little seems to be known about the hornbow. Captain Blom finds it
  mentioned in the Latin sources as _balista cornea_ or _balista cum
  cornu_. _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 100-101. Falk
  believes that it was a bow which was reinforced on the inner side with
  horn. _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 91-92.



                            MILITARY ENGINES

_Son._ Inasmuch as you seem to think that you have described most of the
weapons which are convenient to have in naval warfare or in fighting on
horseback, I will now ask you to say something about those which you
think are most effective in besieging or defending castles.

_Father._ All the weapons that we have just discussed as useful on ships
or on horseback can also be used in attacking and defending castles; but
there are many other kinds. If one is to attack a castle with the
weapons which I have enumerated, he will also have need of
trebuckets:[272] a few powerful ones with which to throw large rocks
against stone walls to determine whether they are able to resist such
violent blows, and weaker trebuckets for throwing missiles over the
walls to demolish the houses within the castle. But if one is unable to
break down or shatter a stone wall with trebuckets, he will have to try
another engine, namely the iron-headed ram,[273] for very few stone
walls can withstand its attack. If this engine fails to batter down or
shake the wall, it may be advisable to set the cat[274] to work. A tower
raised on wheels[275] is useful in besieging castles, if it is
constructed so that it rises above the wall which is to be stormed, even
though the difference in height be only seven ells; but the higher it
is, the more effective it will be in attacking another tower. Scaling
ladders on wheels which may be moved backward and forward are also
useful for this purpose, if they are boarded up underneath and have good
ropes on both sides. And we may say briefly about this craft, that in
besieging castles use will be found for all sorts of military engines.
But whoever wishes to join in this must be sure that he knows precisely
even to the very hour when he shall have need for each device.

Footnote 272:

  The trebucket (French _trébuchet_) was a siege engine which came into
  use in the twelfth century; it was worked by counterpoises. For a
  description see Oman, _Art of War_, 143-144; _Aarböger for nordisk
  Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 103-104; Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_,

Footnote 273:

  The ram was a massive beam used to batter down walls; it was an
  inheritance from antiquity and was much in use. See Oman, _Art of
  War_, 132; _Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 104; Falk,
  _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 198.

Footnote 274:

  _Grafsvin._ Falk translates this with “badger” and seems to believe
  that it was a shelter on wheels under which the attackers might work
  in comparative safety. _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 196. It is more
  likely, however, that a “cat” is meant. The cat was a long pointed
  pole used to loosen the stones in a wall and thus to make a breach. It
  is also called a “sow” and the Old Norse term _grafsvin_, “digging
  boar,” was evidently an attempt to translate the Latin term _scrofa_
  or _sus_, “hog” or “sow.” For a description of the cat, see Oman, _Art
  of War_, 132.

Footnote 275:

  On the subject of the movable tower see Oman, _Art of War_, 134-135,

Those who have to defend a castle may also make use of these weapons
which I have now enumerated and many more: trebuckets both large and
small, hand slings and staff slings. They will find crossbows and other
bows, too, very effective, as well as every other type of shooting
weapons, such as spears and javelins both light and heavy. But to resist
the trebuckets, the cat, and the engine called the ram, it is well to
strengthen the entire stone wall on the inside with large oaken timbers;
though if earth and clay are plentiful, these materials had better be
used. Those who have to defend castles are also in the habit of making
curtains of large oak boughs, three or even five deep, to cover the
entire wall;[276] and the curtain should be thoroughly plastered with
good sticky clay. To defeat the attacks of the ram, men have sometimes
filled large bags with hay or straw and lowered them with light iron
chains in front of the ram where it sought to pierce the wall. It
sometimes happens that the shots fall so rapidly upon a fortress that
the defenders are unable to remain at the battlements; it is then
advisable to hang out brattices made of light planks and built high
enough to reach two ells above the openings in the parapet and three
ells below them. They should be wide enough to enable the men to fight
with any sort of weapons between the parapet and the brattice wall, and
they should be hung from slender beams in such a way that they may be
readily drawn in and hung out again later, as one may wish.[277]

Footnote 276:

  These curtains were evidently placed on the outer side of the wall.

Footnote 277:

  This translation of _hengivigskarð_ is based on Blom’s interpretation
  (_Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 105-106, note). The
  brattices were projecting galleries built along the top of the wall
  and were in use before it became customary to build stone parapets.
  Cf. Oman, _Art of War_, 534.

The “hedgehog”[278] will be found an effective device in defending a
castle. It is made of large, heavy beams armed along the ridge with a
brush of pointed oak nails; it is hung outside the parapet to be dropped
on anyone who comes too near the wall. Turnpikes made of large heavy
logs armed with sharp teeth of hard oak may be raised on end near the
battlements and kept ready to be dropped upon those who approach the
castle. Another good device is the “briar,”[279] which is made of good
iron and has curved thorns as hard as steel with a barb on every thorn;
and the chain, from which it hangs, as high up as a man can reach must
be made of spiked links, so that it can be neither held nor hewn; higher
up any kind of rope that seems suitable may be used, only, it must be
firm and strong. This briar is thrown down among the enemy in the hope
of catching one or more of them and then it is pulled up again. A
“running wheel”[280] is also a good weapon for those who defend castles:
it is made of two millstones with an axle of tough oak joining them.
Planks sloping downward are laid out through the openings in the wall;
the wheel is rolled out upon these and then down upon the enemy.

Footnote 278:

  The hedgehog (_ericius_) in common use was a form of the _cheval de
  frise_ and was laid on the earth to impede a hostile advance. I know
  of no other mention of the device (_igelkǫttr_) described above.

Footnote 279:

  Captain Blom is disposed to look on the _brynklungr_ as an imaginary
  device (_Aarböger for nordisk Oldkyndighed_, 1867, 106) but Falk finds
  that some such instrument was in use in Italy as early as the tenth
  century (_Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 199-200).

Footnote 280:

  Devices somewhat similar to the “running wheel” seem to have been used
  in medieval warfare, but of this particular form no other mention has
  been found. See Falk, _Altnordische Waffenkunde_, 200.

A “shot wagon”[281] is also a good device. This is made like any other
wagon with two or four wheels as one likes and is intended to carry a
load of stones, hot or cold as one may prefer. It must also be provided
with two firm and strong chains, one on each side, which can be depended
on to check the wagon even where it has a long track to run upon. It is
meant to run on planks set with a downward slope, but one must be
careful to keep the wheels from skidding off the planks. When the chains
check the speed, the wagon shoots its load out upon the men below. The
more uneven the stones are, some large and some small, the more
effective the load will be. Canny men, who are set to defend a wall and
wish to throw rocks down upon the attacking line or upon the penthouse,
make these rocks of clay with pebbles, slingstones, and other hard
stones placed inside. The clay is burned hard enough on the outside to
endure the flight while the load is being thrown; but as soon as the
rocks fall they break into fragments and consequently cannot be hurled
back again. To break down stone walls, however, large, hard rocks are
required. Similarly, when one hurls missiles from a stone fortress
against an opposing wooden tower or upon the axletrees which support
siege engines, towers, scaling ladders, cats, or any other engine on
wheels, the larger and harder the rocks that are used, the more
effective they will be.

Footnote 281:

  _Ibid._ The “shot wagon” is not mentioned elsewhere.

Boiling water, molten glass, and molten lead are also useful in
defending walls.[282] But if a cat or any other covered engine which
cannot be damaged by hot water is being pushed toward a castle, it is a
good plan, if the engine is lower than the walls, to provide beams
carefully shod with iron underneath and in addition armed with large,
sharp, red-hot plowshares. These are to be thrown down upon the wooden
engine in which the plowshares are likely to stick fast, while the beams
may be hoisted up again. This attack should be followed up with pitch,
sulphur, or boiling tar.[283]

Footnote 282:

  See the Sorö edition, 424-425, where the editor cites a number of
  references to the use of fire in defensive warfare; these are nearly
  all drawn from the sagas.

Footnote 283:

  Evidently the purpose would be to crush the engine with the beam, to
  set it on fire with the hot plowshares, and to put the assailants to
  flight with the pitch, sulphur, or tar; these would also feed the

Mines dug in the neighborhood of a castle are also an excellent
protection; the deeper and narrower they are, the better it is; and
where men are shoving mounted engines toward the walls, it were well if
there were many mines. All mines should have a number of small openings,
which must be covered so as not to be visible on the surface. They
should be filled with fuel of the most inflammable sort, peat or
anything else that burns readily. When a castle is attacked at night
either from wooden towers or with scaling ladders or any other engine on
wheels, the defenders should steal out and fire the mines.[284]

Footnote 284:

  On the subject of mines see Oman, _Art of War_, 549-550.

Now if it should happen that the enemy’s stones come over the
battlements with such violence that the men cannot remain in the open to
defend the wall, it is a good plan to set up strong posts cut from thick
oak and to lay large and tough cross beams upon these, then to roof the
whole over with firm oak timbers, and finally to cover the roofing with
a layer of earth not less than three or four ells in depth, upon which
the rocks may be allowed to drop.[285] In like manner the attack of a
wooden tower that is moving toward a castle may be foiled by setting up
strong, firm posts rising considerably higher than the attacking tower.
But a more effective contrivance than all the engines that I have now
described is a stooping shield-giant which breathes forth flame and
fire.[286] And now we shall close our account of the engines that are
useful in defending castle walls with the reminder that every sort of
weapon with which one can shoot, hurl, hew, or thrust, and every kind
that can be used in attack or defense may be brought into service.

Footnote 285:

  The posts were apparently placed on top of the wall, the purpose being
  to raise the wall to a greater height as well as to furnish shelter
  for the defenders.

Footnote 286:

  The shield-giant was probably a mythical device; but it is possible as
  has been suggested that its fiery breath may refer to the use of Greek
  fire, with which the Norwegians became acquainted during the crusades,
  or even to early experiments with gunpowder. Falk, _Altnordische
  Waffenkunde_, 200-201. It is not known when gunpowder was invented,
  but the earliest known formula for making it is found in the writings
  of Roger Bacon, who was a contemporary of the author of the _King’s




_Son._ Since you seem to think that sufficient has been said about
weapons both for attack and defense, how they should be made or built,
and on what occasion each kind should be used (and after your comments
these things are very clear to me), I now wish to ask whether there may
not be other subjects which you think ought to be discussed, such as
pertain to customs that one must observe in the presence of great men or
at royal courts.

_Father._ There still remain a number of things which a man should not
fail to hear discussed and to reflect upon, if he is to attend on kings
or other magnates and wishes to be ranked among them as a worthy man.
But there are three things (which are, however, almost the same in
reality) which one must observe with care: they are wisdom, good
breeding, and courtesy. It is courtesy to be friendly, humble, ready to
serve, and elegant in speech; to know how to behave properly while
conversing or making merry with other men; to know precisely, when a man
is conversing with women, whether they be young or older in years, of
gentle or humble estate, how to select such expressions as are suited to
their rank and are as proper for them to hear as for him to use. In like
manner when one speaks with men, whether they be young or old, gentle or
humble, it is well to know how to employ fitting words and how to
determine what expressions are proper for each one to take note of. Even
when mere pleasantry is intended, it is well to choose fair and decent
words. It is also courtesy to know how to discriminate in language, when
to use plural and when to use singular forms in addressing the men with
whom one is conversing; to know how to select one’s clothes both as to
color and other considerations; and to know when to stand or sit, when
to rise or kneel. It is also courtesy to know when a man ought to let
his hands drop gently and to keep them quiet, or when he ought to move
them about in service for himself or for others; to know in what
direction to turn his face and breast, and how to turn his back and
shoulders. It is courtesy to know precisely when he is free to wear his
cloak, hat, or coif, if he has one, and when these are not to be worn;
also to know, when at the table, whether good breeding demands that one
must watch the great men partake of food, or whether one may eat and
drink freely in any way that seems convenient and proper. It is also
courtesy to refrain from sneers and contemptuous jests, to know clearly
what churlishness is and to avoid it carefully.

It is good breeding to be agreeable and never obstinate when one is with
other men, and to be modest in demeanor; to walk a proper gait when on
foot and to watch one’s limbs carefully wherever one goes to make sure
that each will move correctly and yet in a natural way. It is good
breeding, too, when one strolls about in a city among strangers, to keep
silence and use few words, to shun turmoil and disgraceful tippling, to
punish theft and robbery and all other foolish rioting. It is also good
breeding to avoid profanity, cursing, scolding, and all other pernicious
talk. Be careful also never to appear as the advocate of stupid and
dishonest men and especially not to support them in their impudence, but
rather to show hatred for wickedness in every form. It is good breeding
to shun chess and dice, brothels and perjury, false testimony, and other
lasciviousness or filthy behavior. It shows good breeding to be cleanly
in food and clothes; to take good care of the ships, horses, weapons,
and buildings that one may possess; to be cautious and never rash and to
be undismayed in times of stress; never to be ostentatious, domineering,
or envious; and to shun arrogance and affectation in every form. But the
chief point in all conduct is to love God and holy church, to hear mass
regularly, to be diligent in divine service, and to implore mercy for
oneself and all other Christian people.

No one can attain to all these virtues which we have now enumerated as
belonging to courtesy and good breeding, unless he is also endowed with
wisdom. These gifts will accompany wisdom: elegance in speech,
eloquence, insight into proper conduct, and ability to discriminate
between good manners and what passes for such in the sayings of foolish
men, though they are in fact bad manners. It is also wisdom, when one is
present at the law court, or some other place where men congregate, and
hears the speeches and the suits of men, to be able to discern clearly
what suits or what speeches delivered there are based on reason and
which ones are merely glib palaver and senseless verbosity. It is also
wisdom to have a clear appreciation, when decrees are rendered in the
disputes of men, of how these are stated, so that not a word will be
added or taken away, if one should need to know them at some later time.
It is also wisdom to keep faithfully in mind what facts were discussed
and what agreements were reached. It is wisdom to know the law
thoroughly, to have clear perceptions of what is actual law and what is
merely called law, being nothing but quibble and subterfuge. It is also
wisdom, if one has a request to make, to be able to determine what he
may ask for that will prove serviceable and is proper for the other to
grant; also, if one meets a request, to know precisely what he may grant
with propriety and in what matters he must be careful not to bind
himself or those who come after him, such things, namely, as may prove a
disgrace to him rather than a distinction. Finally, it is wisdom not to
be strait-handed about things which one may just as well dispose of,
lest such stint or stinginess bring shame upon him.

There is also great wisdom in moderation and righteousness. All forms of
learning, insight, and good foresight which is necessary to courtesy and
good breeding, to stewardship, government and the enforcement of
law,—these, too, are akin to wisdom. And you will need to learn all this
thoroughly, if you wish to be known among kings and chieftains as an
estimable man, for all who know these things are received with favor
among the great. Furthermore, the lives of men who have mastered this
knowledge may bring great honor to themselves and profit to many others.
But wisdom has many forms, for it springs from roots which have many
branches. And from these roots of wisdom rises the mightiest of all
stems, which again divides into large boughs, many branches, and a
multitude of twigs of different sizes, some small and some large. These
are later distributed among men in such a way that some obtain the
larger and some the smaller ones, and these riches have their value
according as they are loved. He who is sure to appreciate this wealth
and share it freely receives a large amount; for the nature of this
possession is such that it is most attracted to him who loves it most
and uses it most liberally. And if men knew how to value and appreciate
these riches properly, gold and silver would seem to them like rust,
clay, or ashes, when compared with these treasures. But he who wishes to
secure this wealth must begin in this way: he must fear Almighty God and
love Him above all things.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ It was clearly well-advised to continue this inquiry, for now I
have gotten both useful and precise information; and this speech will
surely help every man who is at least somewhat intelligent to more
definite ideas than he had before. Moreover, those who have received
only slender wands from the boughs of wisdom are more numerous than
those who have received large branches, some getting but the tiniest
twigs, and some a mere leaf, while those who get nothing must indeed be
few. Therefore I wish to ask you to instruct me further in the art of
choosing and laying hold on those branches which may prove useful to
myself and others.

_Father._ The virtues that I have just enumerated grow especially on the
boughs of wisdom, but they ramify into a great many good branches and
twigs. Now these are the branches which are most useful: a rational
outlook, a temperate mind, and the capacity to determine judiciously
what one owes to every other man. If you are angry with any man because
of a law suit or some evil deed, take careful thought before seeking
revenge, as to how important the matter really is and how great a
retribution it is worth. When you hear things in the speech of other men
which offend you much, be sure to investigate with reasonable care
whether the tales be true or false; but if they prove to be true and it
is proper for you to seek revenge, take it with reason and moderation
and never when heated or irritated. Even though you hear tidings which
seem damaging to yourself or your business, such as loss of property or
men, always bear it with a calm and undaunted temper. Let the loss of
wealth seem least to you, for you must bear in mind that it is sinful to
worship wealth or to love it too highly, even though it returns a man’s
love and comes abundantly into his keeping. And to love wealth much,
when it seems inclined to turn away from a man and does not return his
love, is surely sinful and will lead to grief. Remember, too, that all
come destitute into the world; and our mode of departure from this life
is such that wealth cannot follow us out of the world. Nevertheless, you
must take heed that nothing is lost through your neglect or
indifference. And never grieve so deeply over a loss that you cannot be
hopeful and cheerful as before.

If you suffer loss of men, bear that loss, too, with a calm spirit; for
remember that every man in departing this life fulfils a law in human
nature, inasmuch as no one is created to live forever in this world. Let
it grieve you more, if an acquaintance of yours who has not lived as he
ought here on earth, should die in that state and leave the world in
disgrace; but most of all if you fear that his soul is in peril; for
such things are rather to be lamented than that in dying he pays a debt
to nature. But if he lived uprightly while on earth and made proper
provision for his soul before he died, then you may take comfort in the
good repute that lives after him, and even more in the blissful
happiness which you believe he will enjoy with God in the other world.
In the same way you must keep your spirit calm and in good control when
such events come to pass as may seem profitable to you and stir your
heart to joy and gladness, whether it be the death of men whom you have
hated, or other happenings in which you might seem to find pleasure. But
if you should happen to hear of the death of a man whom you counted an
enemy and to whom you had planned to do evil, if opportunity should be
found, rejoice much more in that God has saved you from a threefold sin
than in the death of him who has departed. For you should be glad that
God has prevented your hands from committing the sinful deed that was in
your purpose, and has relieved your mind of the long-continued wrath and
bitterness which you cherished against your enemy while he lived.

Likewise, if high honors and dignities should come to you from a king or
from other magnates, it is important that you should know how to receive
them with modesty, lest what befalls so many an indiscreet man should
also happen to you. For it is often the case that when one who is
lacking in good sense receives any preferment from great men, he will
rate himself so high in his pride and avarice that he counts no other
man his equal. But such pretension leads to the downfall of everyone who
behaves in this way; inasmuch as it is God’s purpose to strike down
immoderate pride with sacred humility; and everyone who is too proud and
greedy in his behavior will surely find God a constant opponent. Now if
you should be so fortunate as to receive preferments from a king or
other princes, remember it is God’s method and purpose, by prompting
them (for He holds the minds and hearts of chiefs in His hand), to
elevate such men as He wishes to honor and dignity. On the other hand,
it is also the duty of every man to assist all those who have less
strength than he. Keep in mind, then, if God should raise you up to any
place of honor, that it must be to the profit of all who are less
capable than yourself, except such as hate morality and right counsel;
to them it should be a hindrance for a just man to be given power and
authority. If God gives you wisdom and clear insight and you have also
the good fortune to be awarded honors by great men, there are certain
vices which you need especially to guard against: arrogant self-esteem,
avarice that yearns for bribes, and forgetful neglect of the needs of
men who are less capable than yourself. Keep constantly before your eyes
as a warning the misfortunes of those who have fallen into disgrace
because of immoderate pride. Also keep in mind, as a comforting hope,
the careers of men who have received constant honors because of their
steadfast justice and humility.




_Son._ I see clearly that God creates men unequal in power and wisdom
because He wishes to see how each one is going to use what He has
endowed him with, whether in high living for the glorification of self,
or in bountiful kindness toward those who have need of him and have not
received such gifts from God. And now I want to ask you to cite a few
examples both of men whose good sense and humility have brought them
honor and of such as have suffered destruction through vain pride.

_Father._ There have been so many cases of that sort, that we should
have to extend our talk to a great length, if we were to mention all
those of either class which we know could serve as examples to show how
these things have worked out. I shall therefore name a few only, though
some of each kind, for in that way a long discourse may be the sooner
finished. The following instances are ancient and easily remembered.
When Joseph was sold into Egypt,[287] a mighty lord bought him; but
after he had purchased him he found that Joseph was a discreet man, and
he preferred and honored him above all his other servants, not only
above those whom he kept in bondage, but even above his freeborn
kinsmen; and he gave into his hands the oversight of his wealth and
property, house and home, and all his welfare. But because Joseph was a
handsome man, kind and courteous in behavior, and sensible in speech, he
won the love and friendship of all who knew him and were subject to the
same lord who was Joseph’s master.

Footnote 287:

  _Genesis_, cc. xxxix-xli. The author treats the Biblical narratives
  with great freedom.

The wife of this mighty man loved Joseph more than was proper, and
impelled by evil desire, she sought to commit a vile sin against her
husband, because of the love that she bore for Joseph; and she was not
ashamed in her bold passion to intimate to him what she had in mind. But
when he learned her purpose, he replied in this wise: “We cannot deal
with each other as equals, for you are my lady and I am your thrall; and
it would be a very great disgrace for you to submit yourself to me and
too bold and rash in me to bring such dishonor upon you. But even worse
is the unfaithfulness toward my lord which I should be guilty of, if I
were to reward his kindness in this way like a treacherous thrall. For
he has trusted me, his servant, so far as to give all his wealth and
riches into my hands and keeping, and I must not deceive my lawful
master with shameful treachery, unless I should wish to prove the saying
in daily use that it is ill to have a thrall as a chosen friend.” But
when the woman saw that Joseph was a good man and wished to be faithful,
she thought it a shame that he should know her faithlessness, and,
prompted by enmity and not by justice, she became anxious to work his
ruin, if possible. So she told her husband that Joseph had made an
unseemly request and added that it showed great audacity in a thrall to
make such bold remarks to his lady. She was believed as a good wife, and
Joseph was cast into prison strongly fettered and heavily chained, the
purpose being to let him end his days by rotting alive because of his
pride and faithlessness. But when God, Who always loves justice and
humility, saw the faithfulness of Joseph whom He knew to be innocent, He
shaped the outcome so that Joseph profited by the condemnation that he
had suffered though innocent. For God saved him from prison under such
circumstances that he was elevated to far greater prominence than
before; and God prompted King Pharaoh to make Joseph master and judge of
all Egypt next to the king himself; and this office he held into his old
age and as long as he lived.

Long after this and in another place, a somewhat similar experience came
to a famous king, who ruled over many realms. He was called by three
names, because the languages differed in the lands that he ruled over:
in one place he was called Artaxerxes; in another place, Cyrus; and some
tell us that to him God spoke these kind words by the mouth of his
prophet: “To mine anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to
subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings,”
etc.[288] Others, however, maintain that it was another Cyrus who is
referred to in this scripture; but we shall not discuss this any longer,
since we cannot be sure whether it was written about this Cyrus or
another. But in a third place the king was called Ahasuerus. And whereas
he himself was mighty and excellent, he also had a wealthy wife named
Vashti, who was his queen. Once when the king was absent in distant
warfare to extend his dominion, he had appointed Queen Vashti to govern
that part of his kingdom where his court resided. On his return home
with a wealth of spoils, he made a great feast to gladden all those
among his lords who had accompanied him on the campaign; and Queen
Vashti made another feast for her own lords, who had remained at home to
assist her in the government. Then the king commanded Vashti to appear
before him in his hall in all her regalia and arrayed in all the beauty
of queenly raiment and thus to show her joy in his home-coming and do
honor to his feast. But Queen Vashti refused to obey the king’s command,
saying that she could not leave her own feast, having invited many good
chiefs. When the king saw her arrogance and pride, he concluded that she
esteemed him no more highly for the perilous toil that he had endured
while extending his frontiers than she esteemed herself for having
remained quietly at home with the regency, which he had left in her
hands. Because of this presumption the king became so wrathful, that he
decreed that Vashti had forfeited the office of queen and all the
authority which she possessed. And he found a captive maiden of the
people of Israel, whose name was Esther, who was then in bondage in his
kingdom, though she had sprung from a prominent family in her native
land, and this maiden the king placed in Vashti’s seat, endowing her
with all the power that Vashti had once possessed; and he made Esther
queen of all his kingdom.

Footnote 288:

  _Isaiah_, xlv, 1. In this case the author quotes directly from the
  _Vulgate_: “Christo meo Sciro, cujus apprehendi dexteram, ut subjiciam
  ante faciem ejus gentes et dorsa regum vertam.”

A few days later another event occurred at this same court. There was a
famous and powerful chief named Haman and he was with King Ahasuerus. So
highly did the king esteem Haman that all the people were ordered to
obey him and bow down before him as before the king himself. Now there
was also a man named Mordecai, a captive of the people of Israel, who
was Queen Esther’s uncle; but inasmuch as he was both poor and in
bondage, he dared not make known his kinship to the queen; nor dared the
queen show greater deference to him than to any other in the royal
service. Then it happened one day, when Haman the prince came to see the
king, that on his return home his way passed near where Mordecai sat.
But Mordecai was brooding over the bondage in which he had been placed
along with the people who had been taken captive out of Israel; and
being in deep thought he failed to notice that Haman was passing so
near, and consequently did not rise to bow before him. But when Haman
saw that an alien thrall neglected to bow the knee before him, he became
so wrathful that as soon as he came home he ordered a high gallows to be
raised near his house, on which he intended to hang Mordecai. He also
caused letters to be sent throughout the realm permitting every man to
deal with the people of Israel as he liked: whoever wished to do so
might plunder them, or force them into bondage and servitude, or even
slay them.

When the news of this came to Mordecai, necessity compelled him to deal
more boldly with the queen than before: he came to wait upon her, and,
throwing himself at her feet, he told these tidings with much sorrow.
When the queen heard that the entire nation from which she had sprung
was condemned, she called upon God with all her soul; next she sought
the king’s presence, robed in the stately apparel of a queen, and fell
humbly at his feet. But when the queen had entered and the king saw that
she came in such deep humility and with troubled countenance, he
perceived that she had a matter of such great importance to bring before
him that she would have to find the courage in his favor to state what
concerned her. Taking her hand he raised her up, spoke gently to her,
seated her beside him, and bade her state clearly all the details of her
errand. Queen Esther did as the king commanded and related the whole
event just as it had occurred; and then she begged him to take action
according to royal mercy rather than according to Haman’s excessive
anger. When the king saw Haman’s boundless ambition and arrogant wrath,
he caused Haman himself to be hanged upon the gallows which he had
intended for Mordecai, and sent orders throughout the entire realm that
the people of Israel be allowed to live in complete freedom according to
the ordinances of their sacred laws; and he gave to Mordecai all the
authority that Haman had once possessed.[289]

Footnote 289:

  See _Esther_, cc. i-viii.

From this you will observe that God demands moderation and fairness,
humility, justice, and fidelity as a duty from those whom he raises to
honor. For Joseph, as we said before, was rewarded with splendid honors
and great advancement because of his faithfulness and humility, although
he had been sold for money like a thrall into a strange land; but God
soon raised him by the king’s command to be a lord and the highest judge
in all Egypt next to the king himself. One may also observe from this
how much it is contrary to God’s will to exalt oneself through vain
conceit; for Queen Vashti lost her queenship and all her power in a
single day because of her pride, while a captive maiden of a strange
people was appointed in her stead; and Haman lost all his authority in a
single day because of his excessive vanity, while his dignities were
given to a stranger, a captive thrall. Now if you should win honors from
great lords, beware of an outcome like those in the stories which you
have just heard, and there are many such; but make good use of the story
that I told you earlier about Joseph.

There are still other examples which go far back into the days of
Emperor Constantine: for God had appointed him ruler of all the world,
and he turned to righteousness and Christianity as soon as he came to
understand the holy faith. He gave his mother, Queen Helena, a kingdom
east of the sea in the land of the Jews. But because her realm and
dominion were there, she came to be persuaded that no faith concerning
God could be correct but that held by the Jews; and as letters passed
between them, the queen and her son the emperor, they began to realize
that they differed somewhat in the beliefs which each of them held
concerning God. Then the emperor commanded the queen to come over the
sea from the east with her wise and learned men and many other lords to
a meeting in Rome, where the verities of the holy faith should be
examined. But when the queen arrived with her company, the emperor had
called together many bishops including Pope Sylvester and many wise men,
both Christians and heathen. When the conference had begun and a court
had been appointed to decide between the emperor and the queen, it
became evident to both that there was likely to be a violent dispute
between the Christian bishops and the learned Jews and other wise men
who had come with the queen from the east, in view of the fact that each
side would produce weighty arguments from its books against the other to
prove and confirm its own learning and holy faith. They saw clearly,
therefore, that it would be necessary for the assembly to appoint
upright judges, who could weigh in a tolerant and rational spirit all
the arguments that might be offered on either side.

But whereas the emperor with the pope and the Christian bishops was the
defender of holy Christianity and the queen the protecting shield of the
Jewish faith, it was clear to both that it would be improper for them to
subject themselves to temptation by acting as judges in this dispute. So
they ordered a careful search to be made among the wise men to find
whether there might be some in all their number who were so reliable in
wisdom, judgment, and rightmindedness, that all those present could
trust them to judge rightly in their contest. But when the entire
multitude had been examined, only two men were found whom the people
dared choose to be judges in these important matters; and both of these
men were heathen and bound neither to the law of the Christians nor to
the Jewish faith. One of them was named Craton: he was a great
philosopher and thoroughly versed in all learning; he was a friend of
mighty men and enjoyed their favor; but never had he cared for more of
this world’s riches than what he needed for clothes and food. And when
great men sometimes gave him more than he required, he would give away
what he did not consume to such as were needy. It was also in his nature
to speak little but truthfully, and no man knew that falsehood had ever
been found on his lips; wherefore all felt that the merits of wisdom and
good character which he possessed would surely make him worthy to judge
in these important matters. The other who was chosen judge was named
Zenophilus; he was a famous and powerful prince, and where he directed
the government it was not known that he had ever swerved from justice.
He was a great master of eloquence and learned in all science, friendly
in speech and affable, though a man of authority. Nor could anyone
recall that falsehood had ever been found on his lips. These having been
chosen to act as judges in behalf of all present, the Christians and the
Jews held a court; and these two decided all the disputes, as they were
chosen to do, and it was found as before that in no wise did they
deviate from justice.[290]

Footnote 290:

  The author’s source for his account of the council where Craton and
  Zenophilus served as judges is the legend of Pope Silvester, probably
  the Old Norse version of the legend, _Silvesters Saga_, published by
  Unger in _Heilagra Manna Sögur_, II, 245-286.

I have cited these instances that you might appreciate the humility and
rightmindedness of both the emperor and the queen; for though they were
lords of the entire world, they regarded it as proper to sit in
obedience to chosen judges who were much inferior to themselves in both
power and wealth and every other respect. Likewise you are to appreciate
what great honor these men gained through their wisdom and uprightness;
for though they were both heathen, they were superior to all others as
to insight into the holy faith and the world’s welfare. And now you will
appreciate what I told you earlier in our conversation, namely, that
much depends on the example that a man leaves after him. Joseph lived
before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; he was sold for money into
Egypt as an alien thrall; but his faithfulness and humility pleased God
so highly that he was made ruler next to the king of all those who were
native to the land and had wealth and kinsmen there, whether they were
rich or poor. It is many hundred winters since Joseph died, but his
glory still lives and is daily recalled among all thoughtful people
throughout the world. Queen Vashti died long before the birth of Christ,
as did Haman the prince; but the disgrace that came upon them because of
their pride and folly still lives. Queen Esther bears even to this day
the living honor which she gained through her humility; though she was
brought to India[291] as a captive bondmaiden, she was later made queen
over many large kingdoms and seated upon the throne from which Queen
Vashti was banished.

Footnote 291:

  Not India but Persia in the Biblical story; but the Northmen in the
  middle ages used the term India very much as we use the term Orient

Although the events that we last related in speaking of Emperor
Constantine and his mother Queen Helena happened after the birth of
Christ, it was still so long ago that no man can recall them because of
their antiquity; yet they are bright with honor even to this day. Craton
and Zenophilus, though they are dead, are celebrated for their wisdom
and righteousness. Though both were heathen men, they were chosen to be
judges over nearly all the people who were in the world, and were even
trusted in behalf of all men, both Christians and Jews, to pass judgment
on those laws which neither of them kept, but upon which the welfare of
the world nevertheless depended. From such occurrences you will realize
that God holds in His hand the tiller with which He turns and moves the
hearts of great lords whenever He wishes, and controls all their
thoughts according to His will. For King Pharaoh raised up Joseph to a
dominion above that of all the other princes who were in the kingdom
before him. Ahasuerus deprived Vashti of her queenship, though she was
both wealthy and high-born, and appointed Esther queen in her stead. He
also hanged Haman, the renowned prince, and gave all his power to
Mordecai, who was once a bondman brought captive from a strange land.
Emperor Constantine placed Craton and Zenophilus, two heathen men, in
the judgment seat and trusted them to pass judgment on the verities and
the interpretation of the holy faith. Now you shall know of a truth that
all these events have come to pass through God’s providence and secret
commands; and all these things are noted down for the memory of men in
the future, so that all may learn and derive profit from the good
examples, but shun the evil ones. And if it should be your fortune to
become a kingsman, remember these examples that I have now shown you
(and there are a great many others like them which we have not mentioned
in this speech); and be sure to follow all those which you see are
likely to profit you.




_Son._ God reward you, sire, for taking so much time to hear all my
questions and for giving such very patient and useful answers: for these
talks will surely lead me to think and observe more accurately than I
did before. It may also be that others will study these learned
discourses in the future and derive knowledge, good insight, and
profitable manners from them. There are, however, several other things
which I have in mind to investigate and wish very much to ask about. And
therefore I beg you not yet to grow weary of teaching me; for your
permission gives me courage to confide so fully in you that I am not
likely to overlook anything that my mind is eager to know. Indeed, it
seems to me that this subject opens up such a wide field, that there
must be many things left which one needs to know and discern fully, if
one wishes to be rated a worthy man by kings or other great lords; and I
am eager to hear you talk further about these matters.

But for this once I wish to inquire about men of greater importance than
those who have to serve the mighty. I see clearly that those who serve
are in duty bound to strive after the best manners, knowledge, wisdom,
and righteousness; but it would seem that those, who are chiefs and
rulers and whom all others must serve, owe an even greater duty to seek
both knowledge and insight; above all it must be their duty to love
every form of righteousness, since they have authority to punish all
others who are not righteous. Therefore I wish to ask with your
permission what customs the king himself should observe which would
accord with his regal dignity. Tell me clearly so that I can understand
what business or conduct is demanded of him early in the morning and
what affairs he is later occupied with throughout the day; for he is so
highly honored and exalted upon earth that all must bend and bow before
him as before God. So great is his power that he may dispose as he likes
of the lives of all who live in his kingdom: he lets him live whom he
wills and causes him to be slain whom he wills. But I have observed
this, that if a man becomes another’s banesman, all upright men from
that time on have an aversion for him as for a heathen; since to slay a
man is counted a great sin for which the one who commits it must suffer
great penance and much trouble before Christian people will again admit
him to fellowship. And again, you told me in an earlier speech to shun
manslaughter; but you added that all manslaughter committed by royal
command or in battle I need shun no more than any other deed which is
counted good. Now if the king has received such great authority from God
that all slaughter done by his command is without guilt, I should
imagine that he must need to be very wise, cautious, and upright in all
his doings; and therefore I wish to have you explain fully the things
that I have now asked about, unless you feel that my questions are
stupid, or that I am presuming too much in showing curiosity about the
doings of such great men.

_Father._ Your questions are not stupid, for we may just as well talk
about how the king has to order his government or his conduct as about
other men. It surely is his bounden duty to seek knowledge and
understanding, and he ought indeed to be well informed as to what has
occurred in the past, for in that way he will gain insight for all the
business that pertains to his kingship. You have stated that he is
highly honored and exalted on earth and that all bow before him as
before God; and the reason for this is that the king represents divine
lordship: for he bears God’s own name and sits upon the highest judgment
seat upon earth, wherefore it should be regarded as giving honor to God
Himself, when one honors the king, because of the name which he has from
God. The son of God himself, when he was on earth, taught by his own
example that all should honor the king and show him due obedience; for
he commanded his apostle Peter to draw fishes up from the depth of the
sea and to open the mouth of the fish that he caught first, and said
that he would find a penny there, which he ordered him to pay to Caesar
as tribute money for them both. From this you are to conclude that it is
the duty of every one upon earth to respect and honor the royal title
which an earthly man holds from God; for the very son of God thought it
proper to honor the royal dignity so highly that he, to the glory of
kingship, made himself subject to tribute along with that one of his
disciples whom he made chief of all his apostles and gave all priestly



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ There remains one thing, which, as usual, I shall need to have
explained further, as it is not very clear to me. You stated, and it
seems reasonable, that the king holds a title of high honor and dignity
from God Himself; but I do not see clearly why God made Himself subject
to the tribute of an earthly king; since He must, it seems to me, be
above all kings, seeing that He rules the earthly as well as the
heavenly kingdom.

_Father._ That God Himself has honored earthly kings you will observe
from the fact that, when He came down to earth from the loftiest
pinnacles of heaven, He regarded Himself as having come among men as a
guest and did not wish to claim a share in the earthly kingship, though
he might have done so. But He fulfilled the words that David had spoken:
“The Lord ruleth in the heavens, but verily he hath given an earthly
kingdom to the sons of men.”[292] Now God, while He was on earth, wished
to honor earthly kings and kingdoms rather than disparage them in any
way; for He would not deprive the earthly kingship of what He had
formerly given into the control of earthly lords; but God showed a
perfect obedience to Caesar. You should also observe that, just as God
commanded His apostle Peter to examine the first fish that he drew and
take a penny from its mouth (and God did not want him to examine the
second fish or the third, but the first only), similarly every man
should in all things first honor the king and the royal dignity. For God
Himself calls the king His anointed, and every king who possesses the
full honors of royalty is rightly called the Lord’s anointed. In like
manner one of God’s apostles said in a sermon while instructing the
people in the true faith: “Fear God and honor your king,”[293]—which is
almost as if he had literally said that he who does not show perfect
honor to the king does not fear God.

Footnote 292:

  The reference is evidently to _Psalms_, cxv, 16: “The heavens, even
  the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the
  children of men” (King James’ version). The _Vulgate_ reads (cxiii,
  16), “Caelum caeli Domino; terram autem dedit filiis hominum.” In
  neither case is the idea of an earthly kingship implied. It is evident
  that the author is quoting and translating from memory.

Footnote 293:

  _I Peter_, ii, 17.

Every king, as you have said, ought, indeed, to be wise, well-informed,
and above everything upright, that he may be able to realize fully that
he is after all merely a servant of God, though he is honored and
exalted so highly in the supreme service of God, that all bow down
before him as before God; for in so doing they worship God and the holy
name which the king bears but not the king himself. It is, therefore, in
the very nature of kingship to inspire all with a great awe and fear of
the king, wherefore every one trembles who hears him named. But he ought
also to appear gracious and friendly toward all good men, lest any one
should fear him so much as to be deterred from presenting any important
request to him because of his severity.

In the night, as soon as the king is sated with sleep, it should be his
duty and business to center his thoughts upon the kingdom as a whole and
to consider how his plans may be formed and carried out in such a way
that God will be well pleased with the care that he gives to the realm;
also how it may be made most profitable and obedient to himself; further
what measure of firmness he must use in restraining the rich lest they
become too arrogant toward the poor, and what caution in uplifting the
poor, lest they grow too defiant toward the wealthy; wherefore he needs
to ponder and plan judiciously how to hold everyone to moderation in the
estate in which he is placed. This, too, the king must be sure to keep
in his thoughts, that when it becomes necessary to chastise those who
are not satisfied with what God has planned for them, he must not be so
lenient in his punishment, that this excessive indulgence should lead
anyone to consider it safe to transgress what ought to stand as
rightfully ordained. Nor must he be so severe in his penalties that God
and rightminded men will regard him as punishing more from a cruel
disposition than from a sense of justice. These things and many more a
king ought to reflect upon at night when he is done with sleep, for then
fewer matters will come upon him unawares during the day, when the needs
of the land are presented to him.




_Son._ It is evident that a king must possess great constraint and an
even greater sense of justice, as you remarked earlier, if he is to find
the true mean in meting out punishment so as to be neither too lenient
nor too severe. And now I wish to ask whether there are any examples
which may guide him toward this moderation, inasmuch as you have stated
that every king should have knowledge of all the examples that are to be

_Father._ I repeat what I said then that no man needs to be more learned
or better informed in all subjects than a king, for both he and his
subjects have great need of this. But one who has a thorough knowledge
of past events will meet but few contingencies that are really
unexampled. Now the following examples are very ancient, and every king
should keep them frequently before his eyes and seek guidance from them
for the government of his kingdom.

When God had created the entire world and had beautified it with grass
and other herbage, as well as with birds and beasts, He appointed two
human beings, a man and a woman, to have dominion over everything. He
led the two, Adam and Eve, to the highest point of Paradise and showed
them all the birds and beasts and all the flowers and glories of
Paradise. Then God said to Adam and Eve: “All these things that you now
see I give to you for your maintenance and dominion, if you will keep
the covenant which I now establish between ourselves. But these are the
laws which you must carefully observe, if you wish to keep the gifts
which I have now given you: that beautiful tree which you see standing
with lovely apples in the midst of Paradise is called the tree of
knowledge, and the fruit which the tree bears is called the apples of
knowledge. This tree you must not touch nor may you eat of the apples
which it bears, for as soon as you eat of them you shall die; but of
everything else that you now see you may freely eat according to
desire.” Four sisters were called to witness this covenant, divine
virgins, who should hear the laws decreed and learn all the terms of the
agreement: the first was named Truth, the second, Peace, the third,
Justice, and the fourth, Mercy. And God spoke thus to these virgins: “I
command you to see to it that Adam does not break this covenant which
has been made between Me and him: follow him carefully and protect him
as long as he observes these things that are now decreed; but if he
transgresses, you shall sit in judgment with your Father, for you are
the daughters of the very Judge.”

When the speech was ended, God vanished from Adam’s sight; and Adam went
forth to view the glories of Paradise. But at that time the serpent,
which was more subtle and crafty than any other beast, came in the guise
of a maiden[294] to Eve, Adam’s wife, and addressed her in great
friendliness: “Blessed is your husband and you with him, since God has
given all things into your power; for it is now the duty of every beast
to obey your commands, seeing that Adam is our lord and you are our
lady. But now I want to ask you whether God has withheld anything upon
earth from your dominion, or whether you may enjoy all things as you
wish without hesitation.” Eve replied: “God has given us dominion over
all things that he has created upon earth except the tree that stands in
the midst of Paradise; of this He has forbidden us to eat, having said
that we shall die, if we eat thereof.” The serpent said to Eve: “Oho, my
lady! He does not wish you to become so wise that you know both good and
evil; for He knows the difference between good and evil things, while
you know good things only. But when you have eaten of the apples of
knowledge, you will become like God and will have knowledge of evil
things as well as of good.” As soon as the serpent had disappeared from
Eve’s sight, she called Adam her husband and told him all this speech.
Then she took two of the apples of knowledge, ate one herself, and gave
the other to Adam. But when they had eaten these apples, their knowledge
was extended to evil things, as the serpent had said; and they began to
observe the shapes of beasts and birds and trees, and finally how they
themselves were formed. Then said Adam: “We are shamefully naked, we
two, for there is nothing to hide our limbs; beasts are covered with
hair and tail, birds with feathers, and trees with branches and leaves;
we two alone have shamefully naked limbs.” Thereupon they took broad
leaves from the trees and covered those of their members which they were
most ashamed to have naked. Then Peace came forth and spoke to Adam and
Eve: “Now you have broken the law and your covenant with God, and I will
no longer give you the security in the open fields that you have thus
far enjoyed; but I will keep you safe in a secret hiding place until
judgment is pronounced in your case; and I give you this safety that you
may have opportunity to present your defense. But you must take good
care to make a plea which may profit you, and prove a defense rather
than a detriment.” Truth came forth and spoke to Adam: “Take heed, when
you come to plead your case, that you do not lie, for then I shall
testify with you; tell everything just as it happened, for if you lie
about anything, I shall testify against you at once.” Justice came forth
and said: “It is my duty and office to make sure that you are not
unjustly condemned; but the more you are found guilty of lies and
wrongdoing, the more shall I oppose you.” Mercy came forth and said to
Adam: “I shall add assistance and mercy to your plea, if you heed
carefully all that my sisters have taught.” But fear had come upon Adam
and he went away to hide among the trees, lest he should be seen naked.

Footnote 294:

  The compiler of _Stjórn_, an Old Norse paraphrase of the larger part
  of the Old Testament, following Petrus Comestor’s _Historia
  Scholastica_, attributes to Bede the statement that the serpent in
  those days bore the face of a maiden (p. 34). The author of the
  _King’s Mirror_ cannot have used _Stjórn_, as it seems to be a
  production of the fourteenth century, nor is there any evidence that
  he knew the _Historia Scholastica_.

At midday God went forth to view the beauties of Paradise and Adam’s
stewardship; but as He did not see Adam in the wide fields, He called
him, asking where he was. Adam replied: “I hid myself, Lord, because I
was ashamed to show myself naked before Thy face.” God answered, saying:
“Why shouldst thou be more ashamed of thy nakedness now than at our
former meeting, unless it be that thou hast broken the law and hast
eaten of the apples of knowledge, which I forbade thee to eat.” Adam
replied as if defending himself: “The woman that Thou gavest me led me
into this fault; if I had been alone about my affairs and if Thou hadst
not given me this wife to advise with me, I should have kept the
appointed law and should not have transgressed Thy command.” Then God
said to Eve: “Why didst thou give thy husband this evil counsel to break
the law?” Eve replied as if defending her case: “The crafty serpent gave
me that evil advice; had he not been created or appeared before me, I
should not have come upon this evil design.” Then God said: “Since the
law has now been broken, I want those virgins whom I appointed keepers
of our covenant to sit in judgment with us.” Then Truth spoke: “It is my
duty and business to show Adam’s guilt, inasmuch as he has concealed
with a lie what most of all led him to transgress. For this was the
chief motive in your case, that the apples were fair and pleasant and
sweet to taste, and that you desired greatly to be wiser than was
promised you. You committed a theft in planning to take them secretly,
covetous robbery in taking them without permission, and an act of
insolent pride in wishing to become like unto God in wisdom beyond what
was promised you.” Then God said to Peace that she should give a brief
opinion in the case. Peace answered in this wise: “Whereas Thou didst
appoint me to watch over Adam’s safety as long as there was no
transgression, I now offer to bring him an even greater insecurity,
because he did not know how to keep the great freedom which he enjoyed
before.” Then God said to Justice that she should give judgment; and she
answered in this wise: “Since Adam was unable to keep the freedom that
Peace had secured for him, let him now suffer misery and distress
instead; and because he coveted knowledge of evil things, let him
experience evil in place of good; and because he wished to make himself
like God in knowledge beyond what was permitted, and blamed God for his
transgression with lying excuses, let him suffer the death of which he
was warned before he transgressed.” Then God said to Mercy that she
should pass judgment on this transgression. Mercy replied in these
words: “As it is my nature to urge forbearance and clemency to some
degree in every case, I request that Adam be not destroyed through a
merciless death; but since he now must repent of his error as long as he
lives, let him have hope of mercy and help in his death, as long as he
does not despair.”

Then it was discussed whether, in case he had sons, they should suffer
for his sin, or be allowed to enjoy the gifts and the riches that God
had given him at the beginning, but from which he had been ousted like
an outlaw. Justice said: “How can his sons, who will be begotten in
exile, enjoy those gifts that he forfeited as an outlaw because of
transgression? Let his sons follow him to the death. But whereas he
shall have hope of mercy and leniency and of a return to the possessions
which he has now forfeited, let his sons be recalled with him through a
new covenant.” And when sentence had been passed in Adam’s case, the
sisters all came to a friendly agreement; Mercy and Truth embraced while
Justice and Peace kissed each other with loving gestures.[295]

Footnote 295:

  The story of the court proceedings in Paradise after the fall of man
  and the discussion between Mercy and Peace on the one side and Truth
  and Justice on the other was widely current in the thirteenth century.
  It made an important scene in certain types of mystery plays, and it
  seems quite likely that the source of the version given in the _King’s
  Mirror_ must be sought in some dramatic representation of the creation
  story. The account of the trial was made the theme of two poems in Old
  French which have been attributed to the English ecclesiastics
  Archbishop Langton and Bishop Grosseteste, both of whom were
  contemporaries of our Norwegian author.

  Homilies were written on this theme in the twelfth century by St.
  Bernard of Clairvaux (Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, CLXXXIII, 770) and
  by Hugh of St. Victor (_ibid._, CLXXVII, 623-626). There is a still
  earlier version of the story in a homily attributed, though for no
  good reason, to the Venerable Bede. According to this story a man has
  a son and four daughters named Mercy, Truth, Peace, and Justice. He
  also has a servant whom he wishes to try by giving him an easy task.
  The servant fails and is handed over to the executioner. The daughters
  now come into violent disagreement, but the son finds a way out of the
  difficulty: he saves the servant and succeeds in bringing the sisters
  into agreement. _Ibid._, XCIV, 505-507.

  W. Scherer, in _Zeitschrift für deutsche Altertumskunde_, N. F., IX,
  414-416, finds traces of the legend in Talmudic sources. In the Hebrew
  story, however, the disagreement is over the expediency of creating
  man, Mercy favoring and Truth opposing the project. The ultimate
  source appears to be _Psalms_, lxxxv, 10: “Mercy and truth are met
  together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

  For bibliographical information see L. Petit du Juleville, _Les
  Mystères_, II, 359.

Now every king ought to have these two things frequently in mind: how
God appeased His anger toward the man and the woman for breaking the
law, and what judges He called in, lest His punishment should be too
severe and merciless. Moreover, a king does justice to all men when he
does justice to any man or woman; but all decisions which imply
punishment he must always consider in the presence of these four
sisters; and it must be such as will bring them into agreement, so that
they can kiss and embrace each other, in which case the judgment will be
neither too lenient nor too severe. A king ought to consider very
carefully how to bring the minds of the sisters into agreement; for in
all trials they are arranged and seated apart in groups; Truth and
Justice on one side of the court and Mercy and Peace on the other. They
should be agreed and unanimous in every case; but it frequently occurs
that Peace and Mercy give the whole suit over to Truth and Justice,
though all unite in the verdict none the less. Sometimes it happens that
each of the sisters has a full voice in the decision according to right
reckoning; but at other times it may be that the larger share falls to
Peace and Mercy; but the sisters are unanimous in the verdict none the
less. It has also happened at times that, after a verdict has been
reached and confirmed, Mercy and Peace have exercised leniency because
of the prayers and repentance of him who was in need of it.



                     DRAWN FROM THE STORY OF GOD’S
                        CONDEMNATION OF LUCIFER

_Son._ It looks to me now as if this is a more intricate matter than I
thought earlier; for it must require great understanding and insight to
harmonize the opinions of these sisters so that they will always be
unanimous, seeing that the verdict sometimes leans more to one side than
to the other. For you remarked that at times the whole verdict falls to
Truth and Justice and no leniency is shown, while at other times the
larger share may fall to Peace and Mercy; and you also stated that
sometimes a sentence has been modified after it was agreed to and
confirmed. Now you have stated that one can find examples of most
things, if one looks for them; and if there are any instances of such
proceedings, I should like to hear about them, so that the subject may
look clearer to me and also to others who may hear about it. And it must
surely be the highest duty of kings to be well informed on such things,
as on all other subjects, since they will need them very frequently.

_Father._ The world is now so ancient that, no matter what comes to
pass, one is likely to find that similar events have occurred before;
and nothing is likely to happen of which a learned man can find no
examples. But of the fact that the entire judgment may fall to Truth and
Justice, no mercy being shown, there are cases which occurred so early
that I know of none before them. When Lucifer, an angel in heaven,
turned traitor and committed a base crime against his Lord, Truth and
Justice condemned him to swift downfall without hope of pardon. Into
this condemnation all his comrades and counsellors fell with him. And
these were the crimes which God punished with a merciless doom.



                     AND OF THE SIN AND PUNISHMENT
                       OF THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN

_Son._ I must ask you not to take offence if the questions which I wish
to bring up should seem childish and ill advised; but since I do not
fully understand the subject that I intend to ask about next, it may
also be that there are others who do not understand it any better than
I. And it is that matter about the serpent, which, you said, came to
Eve, and speaking to her like a man egged her on to transgress the law.
Now I wish to ask whether the serpent, unlike other beasts, was created
with power of speech; or whether other animals could speak in those
days, though now they are all dumb; and for what reason the serpent
wished to lead the woman into transgression.

_Father._ We have had a very lengthy speech before us, and if we were to
comment on the whole, it would lengthen very much a discussion that is
already long; but certain it is, we have spoken very few words which
would not be in need of comment, if a well informed man, who thoroughly
understands all these speeches, should come to the task. But I believe
it is more advisable for us to continue as we have been doing since we
began our conversation, and leave the task of glossing our remarks to
others who may hear them later and are willing to do the work with
faithful care. Still, inasmuch as every question looks toward some reply
or solution, it is proper that I should enlarge somewhat on this speech,
so as to make the subject a little clearer to you and to others who do
not understand it better than you do. I shall, however, run over it in a
few words only, for I do not care much to comment on my own remarks.

You have asked whether serpents and other beasts were created with the
power of speech in the days when Adam was appointed keeper of Paradise,
and you shall know of a truth that the gift of speech was not given to
any bodily creature but man. And since you wish to know why speech was
given to the serpent and why it wished to lead the woman into
transgression, I shall now proceed to explain. The explanation begins
with the fact that God created angels before men. The angels were
immortal spirits, free from all corporal weakness, and endowed with
great beauty. But though created with perfect beauty, they were held
subject to this law, that they must show love and obedience toward their
Creator in humility and without deceit. It was promised them that they
should keep their beauty and all the other honors that God had given
them, as long as they kept this law; at the same time God gave them full
freedom to violate the law, if they wished; for He spoke to them in this
wise: “Since you were all created at the same moment and none was
begotten by another, each one of you shall decide for himself and none
for another whether these laws that I have now ordained shall be kept or
broken. And if there are those who transgress them, they shall be driven
out of this life of bliss; while those who observe the laws shall
continue to enjoy unceasing happiness and unending life in my noble
service. And I give you all a free choice to keep these laws or to break
them as you may prefer, in order that those who observe them may be set
apart as my chosen jewels, while those who violate them shall suffer
hatred and be driven into cruel thralldom and wretched service.”

These angels were all fair, but one was more handsome than all the rest,
wherefore he was called Lucifer; he was appointed chief of many angels
and a great multitude made obeisance to him in service and friendship.
But God having finished His speech, Lucifer turned away from God with
all his following as if toward the north and spoke thus: “Why should we
suffer threats from God in return for our service, seeing that we have
power, beauty and numbers in full measure to maintain our prestige? Now
I intend, like God, to set up a high-seat in the northern part of
heaven[296] and to extend a wise control over half of heaven or even
more.” Then God answered and said to Lucifer: “Since thou hast broken
the law by treacherous rebellion, thou canst no longer have habitation
with us; and whereas thou wouldst enjoy dominion, depart to the kingdom
that is prepared for thee, where thou shalt have suffering instead of
freedom, misery instead of bliss, sorrows of every kind but no joy. Let
all those go with thee who did not oppose thy design.” And as God looked
upon them in His wrath, all the heavens trembled before His countenance;
and His enemies fled with a terrible downfall, and they suffered a
horrible change of countenance in the loss of their beauty. Thereupon
they sought out the places that were assigned to them and were scattered
about in all the caves of hell, each appointed to a separate service. In
this way darkness was separated from light.

Footnote 296:

  The statement that Lucifer planned to set up a rival throne in the
  northern regions of heaven also appears in the _Michaels Saga_
  (_Heilagra Manna Sögur_, I, 677). It was apparently a common belief in
  medieval Christendom and was based on _Isaiah_, xiv, 13.

But when God had made man and had given him a blissful life in Paradise,
Lucifer said to his companions: “It is evidently God’s intention to give
this one the dominion from which He drove me out, unless he shall act
counter to God’s will. Even if God should appoint other angels in our
stead, we could never allow it, if we could do anything to prevent it;
but our disgrace would be too great, if a man formed of clay or the
filthy dust of the earth were to enter into the eternal happiness from
which we were expelled. Therefore we must fight incessantly against
everyone who has such ambitions and revenge our injuries with fierce
hatred upon all those whom we can overcome. Now I shall try to gain a
victory over the first man that God has created, so that my companions
may be able to overcome those who come later.” Then he armed himself
with seven wiles from which he expected great aid: the first was
venomous envy; the second, burning hatred; the third, false cunning; the
fourth, specious deception; the fifth, haughty arrogance; the sixth,
covetous self-seeking; the seventh, lustful desire. Then he said to
himself: “Inasmuch as I am now an invisible spirit, I cannot visibly
come to have speech with physical man, unless I adorn my ugly
countenance with a certain corporeal beauty. I shall therefore enter
this serpent which God has created with the face of a maiden and which
most resembles man in beauty; and I shall speak with his tongue to Eve,
Adam’s wife, and learn from her whether they are created to full freedom
without obedience to law, or whether God has given them laws to keep,
through which I may be able to ruin their covenant with Him.”

Thereupon this envious spirit sought the serpent that is now called the
asp, which in those days walked with upright form on two feet like man
and had a face like a maiden’s, as we have just said. And when the evil
minded spirit came to Eve concealed in the body of this serpent, he made
use of the artifice that is called specious deception, for he spoke to
Eve with seductive sweetness using these words: “Blessed is thy husband
and thou likewise.” This praise he did not give them out of good will;
rather did he praise their happiness in order to drag them into misery
through hatred and envy, and he used false cunning when he asked Eve to
tell him whether God had given everything to Adam to control and to
enjoy without restriction. But when Eve in return for his sweet words
had given the desired information, and he heard that death was to be
their part if they transgressed, he was glad, and then made use of
haughty arrogance in suggesting to Eve that they could become like God
in knowledge in this respect, that they might be able to know good from
evil. But he used lustful desire when he bade her try how sweet and
fragrant was the apple of knowledge which was forbidden her. And he
employed covetous self-seeking when he caused Eve to take for her own
what God had earlier forbidden her; for God had given everything into
the power of Adam and Eve, except this tree; but they longed to have
this even without permission, though everything else was in their power.
They knew this one difference between good and evil, that good was
better than evil; wherefore they feared the death that was assured them.
But having never tasted the bitterness of evil, they could not know what
great misery they would suffer for transgression; but they thought it
would be a great distinction to be like God in knowledge, and to know
the difference between good and evil things. But when the serpent urged
Eve to eat of the apples of knowledge, she began to fear death, and
replied thus to the serpent: “I fear that, if I eat, I shall die, for
such is God’s threat. Now do you eat first while I look, and if you do
not die, I will eat, for if this fruit really does possess death dealing
powers, it will surely prove baneful to other living beings besides me.”
Then the spirit that was concealed in the serpent said to himself: “I
may indeed eat the apple, for it will make me no more guilty or mortal,
inasmuch as I am already in the full wrath of God.” But these words the
woman did not hear. Then Eve took an apple and placed it in the
serpent’s mouth and he ate forthwith. And when she saw that it did him
no harm, she immediately picked another apple and ate; and she found it
very sweet, just as the serpent had told her.

Thereupon the serpent vanished from Eve’s sight; but she called Adam her
husband and told him these things. But because he, too, feared the death
that God had threatened, he would not eat, unless he should see Eve eat
first. So Eve took two more apples and boldly ate the one forthwith, for
she had already tasted the sweetness of the fruit, and instead of
feeling shame for what she had already done, she longed to taste it
oftener. When Adam saw that it did her no harm (and he even observed a
pleasurable sweetness upon her lips), he took the apple that she had
offered him and ate just as she had done. But when they had eaten the
apple, their eyes were opened to a greater knowledge than they had had
before, just as the serpent had predicted: for immediately they were
ashamed of their naked limbs, since they saw that the bodies of the
birds were covered with feathers and those of the beasts with hair,
while their own bodies were naked, and they were much ashamed of that.
But most of all did it shame them to know that their transgression had
made them guilty before God; and they bore their bodies in fear and were
ashamed of their naked limbs. Soon they went to hide among the trees,
thus giving proof of their shortsightedness, for they did not realize
that God had such knowledge of His handiwork and all the things that He
had made, that neither bushes nor forests could hide them from His
sight, since even the secret hiding places in the caverns of hell lie
bare and visible before His eyes at all times.

But while Adam was in hiding, God spoke to the spirit that was concealed
in the serpent: “Through pride and evil intent thou didst raise the
first rebellion, there being none to ensnare thee, only thine own pride
and envy; wherefore Mine anger rages against thee without mercy, and
thou has forfeited eternal happiness and all hope of returning to it.
Thou hast now a second time stirred My heart to anger because of the sin
that has just been committed. Adam will have to suffer punishment for
his transgression, but he shall still have hope of return and mercy,
because he came into My wrath on account of thy wickedness and seductive
guile. And as thou overcamest Adam’s wife while she was yet a virgin, so
shall one of her daughters, also a virgin, win a triumph over thee. And
just as thou seemest now to have led Adam with all his possessions and
kinship as spoils into thy dominion, so shall one of his sons search all
thy garners and carry all thy treasures away as spoils; and leading
forth Adam and all his faithful kinsmen out of thy power in a glorious
triumph, he shall appoint him to an honored place among his sons in the
kingdom which thou wert fittingly deprived of. And as a green tree bore
the fruit through which thou hast now won thy victory, so shall a dry
tree bear the fruit through which thy victory shall be brought to
naught.” Then God spoke to the serpent in which the spirit had concealed
himself: “Cursed art thou before all the beasts upon earth; because thou
hast received Mine enemy and concealed him from the eyes of Eve to the
end that, hidden in thee, he might win a victory over mankind. Therefore
shalt thou lose the likeness to a maiden’s face which thy countenance
has borne and shalt henceforth bear a grim and ugly face hateful to
mankind; thou shalt lose the feet that bore thy body upright and
henceforth crawl upon breast and belly. Bitter and unclean dust shall be
thy food, because thou atest of the apple which thou tookest from the
hand of Eve. Thou shalt be a self-chosen vessel of venom and death as
evidence that thou didst hide venomous envy in thy body. I declare the
covenant sundered between thee and all mankind; thy head and neck shall
be crushed under the heel and the tread of men in revenge for the
treachery which mankind has suffered through thy slippery cunning. And
since thou didst cause man to break the law with his mouth and in
eating, the spittle that comes forth from the mouth of a fasting man
shall prove as dangerous a venom to thy life, if thou taste it, as thy
venom is to man, if he taste it.”

Then God, calling Adam and Eve, asked where they were. And Adam replied:
“We hid ourselves, Lord, being ashamed to appear naked before Thy face.”
In the first word that Adam answered God, he lied to Him; for they knew
themselves guilty of violating the law and hid for that reason; but Adam
concealed this in the answer that he gave to God. Then God said to him:
“Why should you be more ashamed of your nakedness now than when we last
talked together, unless it be that you have increased in knowledge from
eating the apples that I forbade you?” But when Adam saw that he could
not conceal how they had broken the law, he sought to escape by placing
the blame for the act on another rather than on himself, for he answered
in these words: “If I had been alone about my affairs and if Thou hadst
not given me this woman to advise with me, I should have kept the
appointed law and would not have broken Thy commands.” These words added
greatly to Adam’s guilt in God’s eyes, for he sought defense rather than
mercy. But if he had spoken in this wise: “Remember now, O Lord, that I
am formed of fragile stuff like a pot of brittle clay, and am in greater
need of Thy forbearance and mercy than the merits of my case can demand,
for in my weakness I have fallen into great guilt against Thee, O Lord,
because of my transgression,”—then his guilt would at once have been
lessened in the sight of God, inasmuch as he would be seeking mercy but
not defense. But when God heard Adam replying as if excusing himself, He
said as if in wrath: “Thou shalt put no blame upon Me for creating the
woman; for I gave her to thee to be a delight and a companion, not that
thou shouldst commit law-breaking by her counsel. I even warned thee not
to transgress and told thee what guilt threatened if thou didst break
the law. Why then didst thou follow thy wife’s miserable advice rather
than My saving counsel, if thou didst not do it through pride and
avarice, wishing to equal Me in knowledge and therefore eager to know
what was not promised thee?”

After that God spoke to Eve: “Why didst thou egg thy husband on to
transgress?” And Eve was anxious that another should bear the blame for
her guilt rather than herself, for she spoke in this wise: “This crafty
serpent gave me that evil advice; had he not been created or appeared
before me, I should not have transgressed or egged on my husband to
transgress.” When God heard Eve’s excuse, He spoke in His wrath: “It
looks to Me as if you both wish to blame Me for your law-breaking: Adam
blamed Me for having created thee to advise with him, and now thou
findest fault with Me for having created the serpent. I created the
serpent as I created all the other beasts of the earth, but I did not
give him to you as a counsellor; on the contrary, I made him subject to
your dominion like all the other beasts of the earth. I warned you both
to commit no sin and told you to look for death, if you did. Now your
deed appears no better in your defense than before in the transgression;
wherefore you shall suffer the death with which I threatened you. Though
you may not immediately fall down dead, you shall, nevertheless, in your
death suffer a long punishment for your offence, and all your offspring
shall be responsible with you for this transgression. And the while that
you live upon earth you shall suffer sorrowful distress instead of
enjoying the blissful freedom which you knew not how to keep. And
whereas thou didst transgress before Adam, I will increase thy troubles
beyond what you are both to suffer: thou shalt be subject to the control
of thy husband and to all his commands, and shalt therefore seem of
lesser importance and lower in the sight of thy sons. The children that
thou shalt conceive in lustful passion thou shalt bring forth in pain
and imminent peril; it shall also be thy duty to give thy children all
forms of service in toil and troublesome care while bringing them up.”

Then God said: “Adam has now become as wise as any one of us, knowing
good and evil. Have care that he does not eat from the tree of life
without permission, as he did of the apples of knowledge, lest he live
eternally in his guilt.” Thereupon God appointed Cherubim to guard the
path leading to the tree of life with a flaming sword which constantly
turned its fiery edge in every direction so that none could pass forward
without permission. Then God said to Adam: “Because thou didst hearken
to thy wife’s evil advice rather than to my good counsel and hast eaten
of the forbidden fruit, the earth, which gave thee all manner of
desirable fruit in her motherly kindness, shall be cursed through thy
deed. As if in sorrowful wrath, she shall refuse thee such herbs as thou
mayest think suitable for food: thistles and weeds shall she give thee
for herbs, unless thou till her soil with labor and drench it with thy
sweat; for henceforth thou shalt gain thy food upon earth with toil.”
Thereafter God gave Adam and Eve coats of skin and said to them: “Since
you are ashamed of your naked limbs, cover yourselves now with the
garments of travail and sorrow and fare forth into the wide fields to
find your food with irksome toil. And finally you shall rest in the
deathlike embraces of earth and be changed again naturally into the
mortal materials from which you were made in the beginning.” Then said
Adam: “For justice and mercy I thank Thee, O Lord, for I see clearly how
greatly I have sinned; likewise do I own Thy grace in that I am not to
suffer merciless destruction like Lucifer. Sorrowing shall I descend
into the deathlike shadows of hell; yet I shall ever rejoice in the hope
of returning; for in this I trust to Thee, O Lord, that Thou wilt show
me the light of life even in the darkness of death. And I shall ever
look forward to the day when he, who is now rejoicing in my misfortune
as in a victory won, shall be afflicted by our returning as one who is
overcome and deprived of victory.” Then Eve said: “Though we now depart
in sorrow, Lord, because of our great misdoing, we shall take joy in Thy
merciful lenience in our distress.” Then God disappeared from their
sight; and they began to till the earth as God had commanded.

Now I have done as you requested, having explained briefly why the
serpent sought speech with the woman and what caused him to egg the
woman on to violate the law. Still, I have taken up only what is most
easily grasped in this speech; for the task of glossing our discourse
after deep meditation I prefer to leave to others. But let us continue
straight ahead in the discussion as we have begun, since we do not have
time to do both.




_Son._ I now see clearly why you regard the answers to my last questions
as glosses and interpretations of the speeches which you gave earlier
rather than a continuation of our original plan; and I fear that, if I
should ask you to enlarge further upon this subject, you will consider
my questions unwise. But having been granted freedom to ask about
whatever I have the curiosity to know, I shall venture another question:
and I shall continue to look for good answers as before, even though my
questions be childish. Now you have brought out that, when the serpent
spoke to the woman as he did, it was the spirit speaking with the
serpent’s tongue. You have likewise shown me why the woman was led into
sin; that Lucifer was inspired by malicious envy to hinder man from
coming into the dominion from which he himself had been expelled. And in
your discussion of the judgments of God you had something to say both
about Lucifer and about Adam, which I am not sure has often been heard
before. Now if I should on occasion recall these remarks and repeat them
as I have heard you state them, it may be that some one hearing me will
say that he has never heard this account before; and therefore I want to
ask you to tell me what facts I could state in my reply, so that I shall
not seem to withdraw my statements on account of ignorance but rather
find such means to support them, that all will think them true rather
than false.

_Father._ The glosses to a speech are like the boughs and branches of a
tree. First the roots send up a stem which again branches out into many
limbs and boughs. And whatever limb you take, if you examine it with
proper care, you will find it joined to the stem which originally sprang
up from the roots; and all the boughs and branches draw nourishment from
the roots from which the stem grows. But if you hew off a limb and cast
it far away from the tree, and one should find it who knows not where it
grew, it will look to him like every other branch which he finds on his
way, seeing that he does not know where it has grown. But if he carries
it back to the stem from which it was cut and fits it there, the branch
itself will testify as to what roots it sprang from. It is the same with
the interpretation of a sermon; if a man knows how to present a speech
properly, he will also know how to interpret it correctly. But as I hear
that some things have been introduced into this discussion which have
not often been heard, I will now do the questioning for a while, since I
have answered more than I have asked. And first I wish to ask whether
this speech included anything that you already knew.

_Son._ There were a few things but not many. I have heard it quoted from
Lucifer’s words that he intended to set his throne as high as that of
God; but the answer that God gave to this I had never heard interpreted
before, but now you have explained it.

_Father._ Let me ask again: who do you suppose it was that, standing by,
heard Lucifer’s boastful and treacherous words and quoted them

_Son._ I have never heard his name spoken and I am not sure that they
were told by any one who heard them at the beginning.

_Father._ But this you shall know of a surety, that if Lucifer’s words
have been quoted by one who heard them in the beginning, he surely must
have heard those replies of God also, which I have just given; and he
could have reported both speeches, had he wished, since he heard either
both or neither. But if he reported Lucifer’s treacherous boasting as he
divined it, he surely could have thought out God’s truthful statement of
his vengeance in the same way; for either both or neither would be true.
For at the very moment when Lucifer transgressed, whether in thought or
in words, God had already purposed all the vengeance that was to befall
him from the first hour to the last. So great and all-sufficient are
God’s thoughts and wisdom, that the vision of the divine foresight sees
in the twinkling of an eye all the events that shall come to pass from
the first hour to the very last. But He withholds in divine patience all
the things that He intends shall come to pass, until suitable times
appear; and He will let everything happen as He has purposed it
heretofore. Now if God should have endowed any one with such great
insight and wisdom that he could know all the thoughts of God and should
report them as if God had disclosed them in word or speech, he would by
no means be telling falsehoods; for all that God has purposed has been
told him in his thoughts, whether his lips have spoken about them or
not. The apostle Paul tells us that God has given men his Holy Spirit
with a definite office and activity: some receive a spirit of prophecy,
some a spirit of knowledge and wisdom, some a spirit of eloquence, some
a spirit of understanding, and some a spirit of skill;[297] some have
these gifts in large measure, others in less; some enjoy one of these
gifts, others two, still others three, while some have all, each one as
God wills to endow him.

Footnote 297:

  _I Corinthians_, xii, 4-10.

But those who, like King David, have received both the spirit of
understanding and of eloquence, have ventured to compose speeches and
write books in order that the speeches shall not perish. In some places
David has told of God’s purposes, in other places of His deeds, and in
still other places he has reported His words; and those who in times
past have written glosses to the psalms which David composed have had
more to say about what was in David’s mind than about the words that he
wrote. For to every word they have added long comments of what David had
in thought when he spoke this word; and in these comments they point out
the meaning which he had in his thoughts at every word that he wrote in
the Psalter. In like manner they have proceeded, who have interpreted
the words of the Evangelists, and they have brought out much that the
Evangelists have left unsaid. Thus they have shown that their comments
are on the words of thought which the lips had left unspoken. And if one
has received the God-given spirit of a perfect understanding, he has a
gift of such a nature that, when he hears a few spoken words, he
perceives many words of thought. But David did not himself gloss the
Psalter for the reason that he wished to leave to others the task of
expressing all those thoughts which came up in his mind, while he
continued writing the Psalms as originally planned. Thus all do who have
a speech on the tongue which ought to be interpreted: they proceed with
the discourse as planned and begun, and leave to others the task of
expressing in words what is in their thoughts. Still, you should know
that no one has glossed the sayings of David who sat by him, while he
was composing the Psalter, and asked what was in his mind at the time.
And from this you will perceive that it is the grace of the spirit of
insight which guides such men to examine the foundations of the sermons
that they hear. Next they investigate how widely the roots ramify which
lie beneath the speech; they consider carefully how many limbs grow out
of it; and finally they make a count of the branches that sprout from
each limb. They also note precisely what bough they take for themselves,
that they may be able to trace it correctly back to the roots from which
it originally grew. Now if you understand this thoroughly and if you
investigate with care and precision everything that you hear told, you
will not fall into error, no matter whether the comments that you hear
be right or wrong, if God has given you the spirit that leads to a right
understanding. For every man who is gifted with proper insight and gets
into the right path at the beginning will be able to find the highways
of reason and to determine what expressions are suitable and will best
fit the circumstances. Now gather from these things whatever you can
that may give insight; but it does not seem necessary to discuss them



                      DEMANDS OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE

_Son._ God reward you, sire, for being so patient in answering all the
questions that I am asking. I find, however, that you think my queries
wander about in a childish way, but as I cannot keep to the subject of
the conversation that we have begun, my questions will come down here
and there, as one might expect of youthful ignorance. Still, it seems
that it is better to have asked than not about the matter that I brought
up last, namely, how one is to determine whether the glosses are correct
or not. Now I understand perfectly your statement that a man does not
tell a lie about God, if he tells God’s purposes as if they were His own
words; for whatever God has determined in His own soul, He has already
spoken to Himself in His thoughts, whether He has uttered them with His
lips or not; wherefore those things may be interpreted as if spoken,
because in His mind He has spoken all that to Himself. This, too, is
clear to me, that, although no one is able to divine what God had in
mind at the beginning, He has Himself revealed it in letting those
things come to pass which He had thought and purposed; for it seems very
evident that all those things which God has allowed to occur, He had
thought upon and wisely planned in his own mind, before they came to
pass. It is also quite clear to me that those who have added explanatory
glosses to the writings of David, or other men who have written sermons
and set them in books, have developed their interpretations by studying
out what fundamental thought or purpose had since the beginning lain
underneath the words. Afterwards they wisely considered this, too, with
what truth probability might be able to account for every branch and
twig of that discourse, so that the contents might be revealed. Now
since these things begin to look somewhat clearer to me, it may be that
I shall continue to reflect upon them, if God gives me the necessary
insight. But since I realize that you feel it would be a large and
tedious task both to continue the discourse already begun and to make
suitable comments, I will now ask you to return to the subject before us
and to continue setting forth the judgment of God, giving cases in which
He allowed the sentence to be carried out with severity according to the
verdict of Justice and Truth, and others in which He showed greater

_Father._ The following instances occurred long after the fall but had a
similar outcome. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, suffered a merciless doom
by the judgment of Truth and Justice.[298] Dathan and Abiram were justly
doomed and destroyed.[299] When Joshua led the people of Israel into the
land that God had promised them God ordered him to punish the people who
dwelt in the city called Jericho with such severity that whatever was
living should perish.[300] Long after that, when King Saul led an
invasion into Amalek, God commanded him to slay everything that was
living; but Saul incurred the anger of God because he did not carry out
what was commanded.[301] The case of Judas, one of the apostles of God,
is among the examples that belong to a much later date: for Truth and
Justice condemned him without mercy for dastardly treachery toward his
Lord. There are many similar cases, though we have given these only;
and, inasmuch as our speech would get too long, we cannot include in a
single discourse all the examples that we know resemble these. But when
God decreed all these punishments which we have now recounted, the
sisters were all on the judgment seat with Him, Truth and Justice, Mercy
and Peace, and they all agreed with Him and kissed and embraced each

Footnote 298:

  _Exodus_, xiv.

Footnote 299:

  _Numbers_, xvi.

Footnote 300:

  _Joshua_, vi.

Footnote 301:

  _I Samuel_, xv.




_Son._ It is quite evident that in the cases which you have now
recounted, Truth and Justice had a larger part in the verdict than Peace
and Mercy. But no one can doubt that the sisters were all agreed in
these decisions, for we may be sure that God never passes a merciless
judgment. One will consequently need to ponder these things with careful
attention and close thinking; for the judgments of God are largely
concealed from men. Therefore I wish to ask you to point out those cases
in which Mercy and Peace have chiefly dictated the verdict, so that I
may get insight into dooms of both kinds, seeing that examples of both
are to be found.

_Father._ There are so many cases of either class, that we cannot
include all the verdicts in one discussion; still, we can point out a
few of them, in order that both your questions may be answered. The
following are events which occurred long ago, when Aaron and Ur, the
bishops,[302] committed a great sin against God in that they gave His
people two calves made of molten gold, through which the entire nation
was led astray from the faith; for the people called these calves the
gods of Israel and brought sacrifices to them as to God. But when Moses
came down to the people (he had been up on the mountain where he had
spoken to God Himself), the bishops ran to meet him, deeply repenting
their sins; and, falling at Moses’ feet, they begged him to intercede
for them with God, lest He be angered with them according to their
deserts. But when God saw how deeply the bishops repented, He heard
Moses’ prayer, and the bishops retained the dignities which they had
before, and they did penance for their sin. The instance that I have now
related is one of those in which the greater share in the decision was
assigned to Peace and Mercy, though Truth and Justice also consented to
the doom; for the bishops would have suffered death for this offence, if
Mercy had not been more lenient with them than they deserved. The
following event is like this but happened much later: King David fell
into this great sin, that he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and
afterwards brought about the death of Uriah himself. After Uriah’s death
David took his wife and had her for his own, and surely he deserved
death for these sins. But he repented his misdeeds so deeply before God
and begged forgiveness so humbly for the sins confessed, that God heard
his prayer and did not take away his kingship, but even confirmed him in
it, though he had committed these crimes.[303]

Footnote 302:

  _Exodus_, xxxii. No high priest by the name of Ur is mentioned in this
  connection; but Hur, the son of Caleb, is associated with Aaron on two
  earlier occasions. See _ibid._, xvii, 10; xxiv, 14. There was a legend
  that Ur refused to make the golden calf and that the people spitting
  into his face suffocated him with the spittle. Petrus Comestor,
  _Historia Scholastica_, c. 73: Migne, _Patrologia Latina_, CXCVIII,

Footnote 303:

  _II Samuel_, xii.

The following events occurred much later at the time when our Lord Jesus
Christ was on earth among men. The bishops of the Jews and all their
other learned men became very hostile toward him and were constantly
striving to find something for which they might reproach him. So they
took a woman who had openly committed adultery and was worthy of death
according to the law of Moses; this woman they brought before Jesus and
told him of her crimes. They also said that the law condemned her to die
and asked what sentence he would pass in this case. Jesus replied that
he who had never committed a sin should cast the first stone upon her.
Then they turned away quickly, not daring to question him further, for
they all knew themselves to have sinned. But Jesus said to the woman:
“Woman, since none of those who accused thee has passed judgment in thy
case, neither will I condemn thee to die; go in peace, but henceforth
beware of sin.” There is another instance which is like those that I
related earlier, and which happened in the night when Jesus was seized.
His apostle Peter had boastfully protested that he would never forsake
him, though all others should leave him, and that he would suffer death
with Jesus before he would desert him like a coward. But in the same
night when Jesus was seized, Peter denied three times that he had been
with him, and the third time he confirmed the statement with an oath
that he had not been Jesus’ man. Then he went away out of the hall where
Jesus was held and immediately began to repent his sin and all his words
and wept bitterly. Nevertheless, after Jesus had risen, Peter’s sins
were forgiven, and he retained all the honors that had been promised him
before. There is still another event which came to pass a few days later
when our Lord was crucified. Two thieves were crucified with him, one on
either side; both had been guilty of the same crimes, murder and
robbery. But while they hung on the cross, one of them took thought to
repent and implored mercy of Jesus, though he, too, like the thieves,
hung on a cross. His sins were pardoned and he was given sure promise of
paradise on that very day; but his companion was condemned according to
his deeds.




_Son._ If earthly kings and other chiefs, who are appointed to act as
judges, are to adapt their decisions to the examples that you have now
given, they must find it very important to learn precisely what each
suit is based upon; for in many of these instances, it looks as if the
cases were somewhat alike in appearance. Still, all the decisions in the
earlier examples led to severe punishments, while in the later ones they
all led to mercy and forgiveness. Therefore I now wish to ask you why
Pharaoh, Dathan, and Abiram, the people who dwelt in Jericho, and those
of Amalek, who were punished by King Saul, were all destroyed without

_Father._ These things were all done at the command of Justice and
Truth, though Peace and Mercy consented. For Moses daily performed many
miracles before King Pharaoh and commanded him to release God’s people;
and he might have released them, had he wished, without suffering any
injury thereby. He made constant promises that it should be done, but he
never kept either word or promise. Now it was right that he should
perish in his stubborn wickedness and evil-doing, since he would accept
neither mercy nor pardon, though he had the opportunity. Dathan and
Abiram, when Moses told them that they had done evil, became angry and
refused to repent; and they perished without mercy because they sought
no mercy. Those who dwelt in Jericho and Amalek had heard for many days
that they had done evil both to God’s people and against His will but
they offered no atonement; on the contrary, they proposed to take up
arms in their defense, wherefore they were overcome by a merciless
revenge. But those whom I pointed out to you in the later accounts,
Aaron, Ur, David, and the others who were mentioned in those examples,
did not conceal their wickedness, but confessed their misdeeds as they
were; hoping for pardon, they begged mercy and clemency, and offered to
atone, as He should determine, Who, they knew, had the decision in His
power. And they promised that nevermore would they fall into such guilt,
if they might become fully reconciled.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ I now wish to ask you why such a great distinction was made in
the cases of Peter and Judas, though their offences appear similar.
Judas returned the money that he had received and repented his evil
deed; he confessed that he had sold his innocent Lord, and threw away
the silver, saying that he would not keep what had come to him so
wrongfully. Now he was destroyed, though he repented; while Peter was
forgiven at once, because he repented.

_Father._ Judas fell in the beginning into sin through avarice and love
of wealth and took a bribe to betray his Lord. His repentance was such
that he could not hope for pardon, and he asked for no mercy but
punished himself with a sudden death. But Peter wept bitterly in his
repentance, and, hoping for mercy, implored forgiveness. Furthermore,
Judas had the greater guilt, for he sold his Lord; and though he
repented, he craved no pardon; and he did not abide the judgment of God,
but condemned himself forthwith. But Peter denied his Lord through
sudden fear and repented immediately in great sorrow; he submitted to
the judgment of God and abided it, and did not condemn himself as Judas
did. There was a similar outcome in the case of the crucified thieves.
Though both acknowledged the sins that they had committed, one prayed
for mercy and pardon, while the other asked no mercy but spoke in
contempt and derision rather than in prayer or serious thought.
Therefore these whom we have now named were saved through the merciful
judgments of Mercy and Peace, though Truth and Justice agreed to the




_Son._ I am beginning to see these things more clearly now and to
understand why it is that the larger share in a verdict is sometimes
assigned to Justice and Truth and at other times to Peace and Mercy. And
now I want to ask you to discuss those cases which you mentioned earlier
in which God modified the sentence agreed upon, and to state the causes
that led to this.

_Father._ To this class belong certain events which occurred a long time
ago in the days when Moses was upon the mountain called Sinai. In those
days the great mass of the people sinned grievously and even fell into
whoredom, cohabiting with women of the heathen race. But so strictly had
God forbidden this, that everyone who fell into that sin was held worthy
of death. Then God said to Moses: “Now shalt thou cease speaking with Me
that My wrath may have time to wax hot against this people which I gave
into thy charge. For they have fallen into such grievous sins against My
commandments that I intend to consume them all in My fierce wrath; and I
will give thee another people, far better and stronger and more numerous
than this one.” At this point it would almost seem as if a definite
sentence had been passed in the case of this nation. Moses, however,
asked permission to intercede briefly in behalf of the people of Israel
and, this being granted, he spoke these words. “I pray Thee, O Lord, to
turn from Thy wrath and do not destroy Thy people, though they have done
ill. Let not the Egyptians have this to say, that Thou didst lead Thy
people out of Egypt and out of their dominion to consume them in the
mountains and the desert; or that Thou wert unable to lead Thy people
into the land which Thou hadst promised them from the beginning.
Remember, O Lord, Thy servants Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and do not
destroy the generations that have sprung from Israel’s kin which Thou
hast Thyself promised to multiply upon earth and to lead securely into
the land that is now controlled by Thine enemies.”[304] God heard the
prayer of Moses; His wrath was appeased, and He did not slay the people
as He had threatened; but He gave their punishment into the hands of
Moses, instructing him that they must not wholly escape chastisement,
though it should not be so severe as God had threatened earlier. Moses
returned hastily to the camp and coming upon the people in a tempestuous
spirit and in fierce wrath, he slew many thousand men in that day, and
in this way pacified the wrath of God. Now this example shows how God
lessened a penalty imposed, in that He appeased His wrath before Moses’
prayer. And it shows that neither of the sisters, Truth or Justice,
suffered in her rights by this judgment, inasmuch as Moses slew a great
host to pacify the wrath of God. But Peace and Mercy also had their
rights, seeing that less was done than had been decreed at first.

Footnote 304:

  _Exodus_, xxxii, 7-14.

This is another instance that shows how God has modified a judgment
already passed. He sent Jonah the prophet to Niniveh with orders to tell
the king and all the people of the city that within thirty days Niniveh
should be destroyed with all that was therein. Jonah did as God
commanded and told these things as true tidings. But when the king
understood that the people were of a truth in danger of divine wrath
(for the nation was full of whoredoms and wickedness of every form) he
descended from his throne, laid aside his royal robes, and did penance
and fasted; and he bade all men in the city do likewise, both young and
old. And when God saw that they repented of their wickedness with sorrow
and penance in many forms, He extended mercy and destroyed neither the
city nor the people within it.[305]

Footnote 305:

  _Jonah_, iii.

Here is still another instance that points to the same result. Hezekiah
was the name of a good king in the land of Israel; he fell ill and
meditated deeply about his case, whether God intended to bring him
through this illness or to let him die. Then God sent Isaiah His prophet
to him; and God said to the prophet that Hezekiah should die of this
malady. Isaiah went to the king and said to him: “Take good heed and set
your house in order and all your affairs, for God has said that you
shall die of this illness and not live.” As soon as Isaiah had spoken
these words to the king, he departed; but the king turned his face to
the wall and prayed for deliverance in these words: “Remember, O Lord,
how steadfast I have been in Thy service, for I have always opposed
Thine enemies, and this people that Thou hast given into my keeping have
I turned from much wickedness which many of them practiced before I came
to the kingship. And there are three reasons why I am loath to die so
suddenly now of this illness. The first, which I fear the most, is that
I may not have kept Thy commandments fully, and if I die in a state of
sin I may look for Thy vengeance in my death. The second is that I have
not yet turned all Thy people wholly away from their evil ways; and I
fear, if I die suddenly now, that they will soon return to their old
abominations. The third, which I fear much, is the victory of Thine
enemies over Thy people, seeing that my son is a child; and his power to
defend the people against Thine enemies may prove less than is required.
But if Thou wilt hear my prayer, O Lord, and add a few days to my life,
all these things may be brought into a better state than they are at
present.” God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and said to Isaiah the prophet:
“Return quickly to King Hezekiah and tell him different tidings now from
what thou toldest before; for I have heard his prayer, and I will add
unto the days of his life fifteen years beyond what I had intended for
him, and I will deliver all his realm from the attack of his

Footnote 306:

  _II Kings_, xx; _Isaiah_, xxxviii. The prayer is imaginary.

Here is another instance which belongs to a much later time. In the days
when Jesus Christ was here upon earth among men, one of his friends,
Lazarus by name, fell ill and died of the illness. Bethany was the name
of the town where Lazarus was buried. But when he had lain four days in
the grave, Jesus came to Bethany. Now it would seem in Lazarus’ case, as
in that of all others who have departed from this world, that an
irrevocable sentence had been passed, seeing that he had lain four days
a dead man in the earth, death having even appointed him a place in his
kingdom. Jesus ordered Lazarus’ grave to be opened, and calling him he
commanded him to tear himself away from the hands of his dead
companions. Thereupon Lazarus rose from the dead, and he lived many days
after that. There are many other examples of this kind, but these are
the ones which we have preferred to bring to light; and since our talk
has been quite long, it seems unnecessary to recount others, though they
are plentiful.



                           THE KING’S PRAYER

_Son._ The more examples I hear, the more evident is the truth of what
you stated earlier in your remarks, namely that it is very necessary for
kings and other rulers who are in charge of justice to be widely
informed, if they are to adapt their verdicts to the examples that we
have now heard.

_Father._ You should understand this clearly that, since the king holds
his title from God, it is surely his duty to suit his decisions to
divine examples; and the same is true of all who are appointed to pass
judgment, both clerks and laymen. For we no longer have opportunity to
ask counsel on any point from God’s own lips, as Moses could; wherefore
men should live according to the examples that were set in those days
when it was possible to inquire of God Himself what His will was on any
matter. Therefore, a king ought to keep these examples frequently upon
his lips and before his eyes, and such other examples, too, as may give
insight for his own decisions. The most favorable time for such
meditation is at night or in the early morning when he is sated with
sleep. But when the hour to rise comes and it is time for the king to
hear the hours, it is his duty to go to church and listen attentively to
the mass and to join in the prayers and in chanting the psalms if he
knows them. Like every other Christian man who is at prayers, the king
ought to attend with as much devotion as if he stood in the presence of
God and spoke to God Himself. He should call to mind the words that
David uttered when he spoke in this wise: “I shall ever see the Lord
before my face, for He is always at my right hand.”[307]

Footnote 307:

  Probably from _Psalms_, xvi, 8 (_Vulgate_, xv, 8): “I have set the
  Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand....”

A king should begin his prayer by showing God that he holds the true
faith. Next he should make clear that he gives thought to his earthly
dominion and the divine power of God. Thereupon he must confess his sins
and misdeeds to God, making clear to Him that he does not consider
himself as having come without guilt or as if defending his cause. Next
he must beg mercy and forgiveness for the transgressions that he has
confessed. He must also show God humbly that he regards himself as
coming before His knees as a thrall or a servant, though God has exalted
him to power among men. He must not fail to remember others besides
himself in prayer: his queen, if he has one, who is appointed to rule
and defend the land with him; his bishops and all other learned men who
are to aid him in maintaining Christianity, and, therefore, owe the duty
to offer prayers for him and for all the other people of the kingdom. He
ought also to remember all his other lords and knights in his prayer and
all the warriors who assist him in the government. Likewise he must
remember the husbandmen, the householders, and all his other subjects
who maintain his kingdom by labor or other gainful effort. He should,
therefore, remember all, men and women, for it is their duty to offer up
holy prayers for him every day. And, if he likes, he may use daily the
following prayer, which is in the form that I have given, but he must
pray as devoutly as if he were speaking to God Himself; and these are
the words of the prayer.

“O Thou most merciful God, eternal Father! O Thou most honored
Conqueror, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God! O Thou most
gentle Comforter, Holy Spirit! O Thou perpetual fount of wisdom and
complete and unshaken faith, Holy Trinity! O Thou indivisible Unity, one
omnipotent, unchangeable God: Thou Who sittest above the highest summits
of heaven and lookest into the hidden depths below! For no creature can
escape Thy dominion, though it should wish to flee from Thy wrath. Even
though I should mount to heaven, Thou art there before me; and though I
crawl down into the lowest hiding places of hell, Thy spiritual dominion
is there; and though I were to fly upon the wings of the winds and hide
beyond the uttermost boundaries of the ocean solitudes, even there Thy
right hand would seize me and lead me back into Thy control. For Thy
mind has numbered the sands driven by the winds and by the power of the
ocean about all the earth, and Thine eye knows all the drops of the dewy
rain. Therefore, I implore Thee, O my Lord, do not enter into the seat
of judgment with me, Thy servant, to search out my righteousness; and do
not number the multitude of my sins, but turn Thy face away from mine
iniquities and cleanse me from my secret faults and wash away all my
guilt. For my sins are great and lie heavy upon my head; they are so
many that they seem numberless to me in their multitude,—sins that I
have committed in vain thinking, in foolish words, in neglecting Thy
commandments and forgetting Thy holy law in every way, in indiscreet
testimony and thoughtless oaths, in judging unjustly between men, in
excessive avarice, and in all manner of useless and evil works. I
acknowledge and confess to Thee, O Lord, calling all Thy saints to
witness, that I am so guilty of misdeeds and evil works, that I am
already condemned by the multitude of my transgressions, unless I may
share in the benefits of the exceeding abundance of Thy mercy and of the
good and meritorious intercessions of my Lady, the holy Virgin Mary, and
of all the saints in whom Thou hast been well pleased since the world
began. For the misdeeds and all the iniquity that I have committed from
my childhood to this day are uncovered and revealed unto Thee, even
though I might wish to conceal and not confess them; for short-sighted
frailty was not ashamed to pursue its evil desires before Thy face. But,
O Lord, inasmuch as Thou dost not delight in them who are destroyed in
sin, but wouldst rather that they should live and be led aright, and
because Thou knowest that man is frail and without strength like the
dust of the earth or the crumbling leaf, unless Thou strengthen him with
the power of Thy mercy, therefore, I implore Thee, do not punish me with
the swift judgment of Thy wrath; but let Thy divine patience give me
time and will to repent and ability to do penance. Take away from me, O
Lord, envy and pride, despair and stubbornness, injustice and violence,
and detestable gluttony; cleanse me from the seven cardinal sins and the
cursed vices which spring from them. Give me, O Lord, love and constant
hope, true faith and humility, wisdom and justice, and ample strength to
do Thy will at all times. Give me the seven cardinal gifts of the Holy
Spirit with all the blessed fruitage that grows out of these; for I am
Thy handiwork, created in Thine image, Thy thrall begotten in sin by Thy
servant, the son of Thy handmaiden. But Thy mercy has appointed me to
Thine office and has exalted me, though unworthy, to the royal dignity
and the sacred chieftainship; and Thou hast appointed me to judge and to
govern Thy holy people. Therefore, I pray Thee, give more heed to the
needs of Thy holy people, which Thou hast appointed me to rule over,
than to my merits; but give me the right understanding, self-control and
sense of justice, eloquence, purpose, and good intentions, so that I may
be able to judge and determine the causes of rich and poor in such a way
that Thou wilt be pleased, while they rejoice that justice is done among
them. And I pray Thee, O Lord! to pour out Thy spirit of upright
understanding upon all my councillors and helpers who assist me in
maintaining the government. To my queen, whom Thou hast joined to me
with the bonds of marriage, and above all to the hallowed stewards and
servants of holy church, the most eminent priest, the bishop of Rome,
and all our bishops, abbots, and rulers, to our priests and to all the
learned men who are in their charge,—to all these, O Lord, give a chaste
and upright spirit, so that they may show their good works and set Thy
people good examples and give them right instruction. To the governors
and to all those who assist me in guiding and defending the realm, give
rightmindedness, abhorrence of evil ways, and the appreciation and love
of good morals. Make mine enemies truly repentant of their evil and
wickedness, cause them to desist from their ferocity, and turn them to a
true friendship. To Thy people and all the commonalty give knowledge and
a will to love Thee, the true God, a right obedience to their superiors,
good peace and rich harvests, and security from enemies. Remember, O
Lord, in Thy holy mercy, all the races of mankind for whom our Lord
Jesus Christ, Thine only begotten son, shed his blood in redemption,
whether they be still living in this world or called home in holy
patience by Thy commands. To those, O Lord, who are blinded by error and
ignorance and therefore cannot discern Thy Holy Trinity, send Thy spirit
of insight, that they may know and understand that Thou art the true God
and none other; for no one may approach Thee except Thy holy compassion
draws him to Thy love. And be not wroth with me, Thy servant, O Lord,
because I have dared to speak with Thee at this time, even though I
continue in prayer, but incline Thy compassionate ear and hear and grant
what I pray for in Thine abundant kindness. I pray Thee, O Lord, never
to give me into the hands of mine enemies because of my misdeeds, or to
let me become their victim or captive, and never to let mine enemies
rejoice in my misfortunes, whether in body or in spirit, visible or
invisible; but if I do aught against Thy holy will and commandments,
take me in Thy right hand and chastise me, though not according to my
deserts but according to the lenient judgment of Thy mercy; and give me
abundant power and resolute strength to oppose all antagonism and all
deception. Let me suffer no greater temptations than my weakness can
resist; let me not end my days in a sudden death; and do not call me out
of this world before I shall have repented and rightly atoned for all my
sins; and when the strivings of this world have ceased, let me rest
eternally with Thee and Thy saints. And from my heart I pray Thee, O
Lord, to give me a lawful heir begotten of my loins, whom it may please
Thee in Thy mercy to set after my time in the seat of honor where Thou
hast placed me; and let my high-seat never pass into the power of other
dynasties, but only to such as shall spring from me, the son inheriting
from the father in every case. And grant, O Lord, I pray Thee, that no
branches that have sprung from me shall wither or decay; and let them
not follow after foolish men into error and neglect, but give them
insight and wisdom to understand and to know Thy sacred law, and power
and a good purpose to love Thee and Thy commands. For Thou only art the
true God, Who liveth and reigneth forever, world without end.

Footnote 308:

  This prayer is a translation of a Latin original which the author has
  incorporated and given in full. Both the original and the author’s
  translation are given in the manuscripts.

Now this prayer that you have just heard is one which the king may offer
up, if he wishes, with such other psalms and prayers as he knows. And
though he may not always repeat this prayer, he should, nevertheless,
pray according to the plan that is outlined in this prayer. And this I
verily believe to be his duty every day, until he has heard the hours
and the mass, if he means to observe what belongs to his dignity and to
his official duties.




_Son._ I believe you have now cleared up for me what you think ought to
be a king’s business, at night after the season for sleep is past while
he is meditating upon the needs of his realm and subjects, and in the
morning when he goes to church or to devotional services; and it seems
to me that these occupations are both useful and important, so much so
that they are indispensable. Now that you have shown me what he should
be employed with in the night and early in the morning, I wish to ask
you to continue and to point out what he should be occupied with during
the day: whether it is your opinion that he should ponder the needs of
his kingdom while awake at night in order that he may be able to spend
the day with greater freedom, after the custom which I hear that kings
now follow in most places, either in riding out with hawks or in joining
the chase with dogs, or in some other form of diversion, as I hear that
kings are in the habit of doing in most countries; or whether you think
that he should be otherwise employed, if he does as he ought to do, and
that kings seek these diversions more for the sake of recreation than
because their rank demand it.

_Father._ I surely do believe, with respect to what you have just asked
about, that kingship was established and appointed to look after the
needs of the whole realm and people rather than for sport and vain
amusements. Nevertheless, a king must be allowed to seek diversion now
and then, either with hawks, hounds, horses, or weapons, so that his
health and agility at arms or in any form of warfare may be preserved.
His chief business, however, is to maintain an intelligent government
and to seek good solutions for all the difficult problems and demands
which come before him. And you shall know of a truth that it is just as
much the king’s duty to observe daily the rules of the sacred law and to
preserve justice in holy judgments as it is the bishop’s duty to
preserve the order of the sacred mass and all the canonical hours.

_Son._ I am inquiring so closely into these things for the reason that
many believe the royal dignity to have been founded for such
pleasure-giving splendor and unrestrained amusement as kings may desire.
But now I see clearly from your remarks that a king ought constantly to
labor in the yoke of God; wherefore it seems to me that he must have a
great burden to support every day in the serious interest that he must
show when the needs of his subjects are presented to him. Therefore I
wish to ask you once more to show me clearly what should be a king’s
duty after the hours have been observed.

_Father._ It was the custom of old at the time when the royal office was
established and enjoyed its greatest splendor, that, when a king no
longer stood in fear of his enemies but sat in complete security among
his henchmen, he selected a splendid house where he could set up his
high-seat, which was also to serve as his judgment seat; and this throne
he adorned with every form of royal decoration. Then the king sat down
upon it and observed in what glory and splendor he sat. Next he began to
ponder in what way he must occupy this glorious high-seat, so as not to
be driven from it with dishonor in spite of his exalted position either
because of injustice or malice, indiscretion or folly, inordinate
ambition, arrogance, or excessive timidity. Now it looks most reasonable
to me that, whereas kingship was originally established in this way as
we have just pointed out, a king should continue to maintain the
arrangement which was made in the beginning. And as soon as the king
comes into this seat which we have just mentioned and has reflected upon
all those things which we have just told about, it becomes his duty to
pass judgment in the suits and on the needs of his people, if they are
presented to him. But when there is no official business brought before
him, he should meditate on the source of holy wisdom and study with
attentive care all its ways and paths.



                          THE SPEECH OF WISDOM

_Son._ I beg you, sire, not to be displeased with me, though I ask
thoughtless and stupid questions; but it looks to me like a difficult
task to search out the very sources of wisdom and learn its ways and
paths. And therefore I wish to ask you to tell me something about this
form of study, so that I may, if possible, derive some insight from it.

_Father._ It ought not to cause displeasure to have one inquire closely
into subjects which one is not likely to understand without some
direction. But God’s mercy reveals and makes known many things to
mankind which would be largely hidden from them, if He were unwilling to
have them revealed. And many things which were formerly concealed in His
own knowledge He has made known to us, because He wishes man to take a
profitable interest in the wealth of knowledge which he draws from the
divine treasures. But as a guide toward this interest which we have just
mentioned one should take special note of the words that Wisdom used
concerning herself when she spoke in these terms:

“I am begotten of God’s own heart; I have proceeded from the mouth of
the Highest; and I have ordered all things.[309] The spirit of God moved
over empty space, and we separated light from darkness; we appointed
hours and times, days and nights, years and winters and everlasting
summer. We built a star-lit throne for the King of heaven; yea, God did
nothing except in my far-seeing presence. Together we weighed the
lightness of the air and the gravity of the earth; we hung the ponderous
sphere of earth in the thin air and strengthened the firmament of heaven
with mighty forces. We commanded the blazing sun to adorn the brow of
day with shining beams; but the inconstant moon we bade illumine the
darkness of night with its pale sheen. We created a comely man in our
image. God also beautified the face of the earth with trees and herbs
yielding manifold fruits; He called forth the beauties of the sky in the
form of birds of many kinds; and he concealed multitudes of fishes of
many sorts in the depths of the waters. He also commanded the
four-footed beasts to multiply upon earth into many and divers species.
He girded the entire circle of the earth with a roaring ocean and briny
streams. He commanded fresh waters to flow forth in steep cascades over
the face of the land, and built the foundations of the earth with
numerous passages, that the flowing waters might always be able to
fulfil the duties assigned them; and He commanded the light vapors to
carry heavy waters through the heights of the air by means of enticing
warmth. Further He bade the wind-swollen clouds pour forth cool showers
over the face of the earth. And the Maker of all things bade me oversee
the whole artifice of the divine handiwork. Then I moved briskly with
treading foot over the mountain top; I fared lightly over smooth vales
and level fields; I strode with toilsome and heavy step over the rough
billows; and I measured the width of the level ocean with gentle tread.
Pressing forward with stiffened knee, I walked upon the wings of the
stormy winds. With gentle speech I taught the silent calm its pleasing
manner. I traced my path through the heights of heaven and the expanse
of the air; I scanned the curved circle of the restless ocean; and I
paced and measured the entire globe of the sphere-shaped earth. I
traveled over hills and mountains; I ran over fields and meadows and
level valleys; and I gave honey-like dew to all the blossoming herbs. I
passed among thorns and bushes and through forests of every kind and
gave sweet blossoms to the fruit-bearing trees. I pitched my tent in a
shadowless beam of light and went forth from this fair shelter arrayed
like a bridegroom and glad like a mighty giant rejoicing in the
race.[310] But mortal idols envied me, found me guilty, and condemned me
to die. In wrath I descended to the lowest valleys and overturned the
strongholds of the mighty ones in mine anger. With violence I shattered
the metal gates of the strong castles and broke the firm iron pillars
and the thick bars of iron. I took gold and gems and jewels, the plunder
of warfare, and then journeyed gladly to the higher abodes with
priceless booty. I traveled through farms and villages and parishes
offering the poor a share in my wealth. I offered the husbandman
fruitful corn and partnership with me. I comfort the sorrowing; I give
rest to the weary, drink to the thirsty, and food to the hungry. Happy
is he who drinks from my cup, for my beverage has an unfailing
sweetness. I journey through castles and cities and marts; I run over
houses, markets, and streets; I call with a clear and friendly voice,
offering food, entertainment, and harmless amusement. Happy is he who
goes to my table, for my meat has a more pleasing savour than the
sweetest perfume; my drink is sweeter than honey and clearer than any
wine; tuneful music is heard at my table in sweet and beautiful melody;
there are songs and poems such as rarely are heard, merriment and
gladness, and pure joy unmixed with grief. Happy is he who shall live in
my house, for in my house are seven great pillars which join together
the entire vault under a good roof; they stand upon a floor placed on
immovable foundations and they fortify all the walls with great
strength. In each of these pillars may be found the seven liberal arts
of study. Furthermore, my house is strewn with fragrant grasses and
lovely herbs; it is hung with beauty and elegance, and splendor in every
form. Among the humble I am a pleasant companion, but toward the proud I
am stern and haughty. In every school I am the principal teacher and I
am the highest form of eloquence in every law court. I am the wisest
among lawyers and the chief justice on every bench. Happy is he who is
found to be a sincere companion of mine; for I am constantly with my
companions guarding them from all perils. Happy is he who suffers no
disgrace from me, for my wrath kindles a fire in its passion which burns
even to the lowest depths; some day it will consume the foundations of
the hills and swallow up the earth with its teeming life. Where can he
hide who seeks to escape from me? The spirit of God fills the entire
home-circle and searches out the meaning and the interpretation of all

Footnote 309:

  Cf. _Proverbs_, viii, 22 ff.; see also, among the “Apochrypha,”
  _Ecclesiasticus_ (_The Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach_), xxiv, 5

Footnote 310:

  An echo of _Psalms_, xix, 5.

The speech that you have now heard is one which Wisdom has spoken about
herself; there are others like it, but loftier, which are not repeated
here. For King Solomon and Jesus the son of Sirach have written with
much skill a great many sermons of the kind that Wisdom has spoken about
herself in divers ways. But if we were to mention all the speeches that
can be found in their writings, our conversation would suffer a great
delay; and it seems unnecessary at this time to bring into our talk any
lengthy discussion of those things that Wisdom has said about herself.
However, it is the duty of every king to know thoroughly all the
accounts that Wisdom has given of herself or wise men like those just
mentioned have written, and each day to ponder some part of those
speeches, if the duties of his office leave him any time for that.




_Son._ Since it clearly is the official duty of a king to be well
informed in all science, it is quite evident that to acquire the
knowledge which you have just now discussed must be of the highest
importance; for it seems likely that he will be able to gather much
insight from it, whether he wishes to meditate on the greatness of
divine power or on the needs of men. Now since you do not care to
discuss these matters further, I will ask you to continue your remarks
with a few words about what a king ought to consider before passing
judgments, when he comes into the judgment seat to determine the causes
of men.

_Father._ It is indeed his duty, as you have remarked, to look carefully
into all those speeches that we have now spoken and to study them
thoroughly, for this reason, that if he unravels them with care in his
thoughts, he will surely find in them, if he has understanding, nearly
all those things which pertain to divine power and which show how God
has distributed his gifts among men and other created beings. For every
king and every other discreet man can learn in this way what he actually
is, and what he ought to be, if he wishes to achieve what God has
intended for him. You also ask how a king should weigh the judgments
that he renders in the disputes of men; but I have given a brief reply
to that question in an earlier talk, when I told how God passed judgment
after His covenant with Adam was broken, and what judges He brought with
Him to the judgment seat. I also gave many examples to show how God
ordered His verdicts in certain cases of a later time, those of King
Pharaoh and all the others who were named later in that conversation;
and every king ought surely to weigh what is found in those examples. He
must also consider with care whether a case calls for severity and
punishment or whether the doom should be tempered; for the judgments
ought not to be equally severe in all cases. And every sentence should
be kept within the bounds of justice and fairness; and here I may cite
another example, if you like.

There is something told of a certain king, which I find most fitting to
illustrate this point. This king was a man of fame and power, thoroughly
learned in all knowledge and just in all his decisions. Every day there
came before him a large number of men whose difficulties he had to
settle; and every day he sat a long time on the judgment seat to
determine the suits of his people, and with him sat the wise men, whom
he had found to be the most discreet and best prepared for such duties.
But whenever the king sat in this assembly with the wise men whom he had
summoned to serve with him, armed knights stood about the house to make
sure that he could sit in perfect security. The king had many sons, one
of whom, however, was the dearest of all; for this son loved especially
to be near his father whenever possible, and he frequently sat on the
judgment seat with him. It was in the king’s nature to be slow in
reaching decisions; and it was said among men of quick minds that he
would surely be able to settle the law suits and speak his verdicts more
promptly, if he were truly wise. This remark was approved by the king’s
son and by many others among the wise men; and so often was the saying
repeated that the king himself got news of it. Now it happened at one
time that the king was indisposed after a bleeding; and just then a
number of men came to bring their disputes before the king. He then sent
for his son, the one who was in the habit of sitting in judgment with
him, and said to him: “Summon the wise men who are accustomed to sit in
judgment with me and go into my judgment hall and take my seat for
to-day, and determine as many of the law suits as you possibly can get
over.” It was done as the king commanded. And when the cases were
presented to those men, it looked to them as if they could decide the
suits in a hurry. But when the king’s son was ready to determine the
disputes which had been brought before him, he thought he saw three
young men coming forward, handsome yet terrible in appearance. Two of
them sat down at his feet, one on either side. One was occupied with a
set of writings in which were written out all the cases that were to be
settled that day, one case in each document. The other was busy with
balances; and these appeared so delicate that, if a little hair was laid
upon them, they would be disturbed. The one who had the balances held
them up, while the other, who had the documents, laid the writings which
favored him who had brought the suit into one scale and the writing in
his behalf who was to reply in the other; but it looked as if the scales
would never balance. Then the king’s son thought he saw that certain
documents were brought out in which the decisions and formal verdicts
were drawn up, just as he had intended to render judgment and all the
wise men had advised. But even after these writings had been laid in the
scales, they were as far from balancing as before. When the king’s son
saw these things, he looked to see what the third young man was doing,
and saw that he stood near with a drawn sword as if ready to strike. The
sword was keen-edged and terrible, and the edges looked to him as if
they were both on fire. Then he saw clearly that, if he passed judgment
before the scales balanced, the sword of the young man would immediately
smite his neck. Just then he glanced down before his feet, and there he
saw the earth open downwards; underneath he saw the gaping jaws of hell,
as if waiting for him to come there. But when he saw these things, he
ceased speaking and rendering judgments. When the wise men reminded him
that there were suits to be settled, he called them to him, and everyone
who came saw all these things that we have now described. After that
none dared to pronounce judgment, for the scales of the young man never
balanced, and no suit was settled on that day. But thereafter no man
thought it strange if the king was slow in pronouncing his decisions.

Another and similar example is found in what I told you earlier in our
conversation, when we spoke about a city in Ireland called Themar;[311]
and I shall repeat that story in part, if you wish. This was the leading
city in Ireland and the king had his chief residence there; and no one
knew of a finer city on earth. Though the inhabitants were heathen at
that time and did not know the true faith about God, they were firm in
the belief that there could be no deviation from righteousness in
judgment on the part of the king who dwelt in Themar; for no decision
was pronounced in Ireland which they could consider just before the king
at Themar had passed upon it. Now at one time it came to pass that a
case was brought before the king who sat in Themar in which his friends
and kinsmen were interested on the one side, while men whom the king
disliked had a part on the other side; and the king shaped the verdict
more according to his own will than to justice. And this soon became
evident, for three days later the royal hall and all the other houses
that the king occupied were overturned, so that the foundations pointed
upward, while the walls and the battlements pointed down into the earth;
and the inhabitants immediately began to desert the city and it was
never occupied after that. Now from these accounts you are to conclude
that God permits such things to be revealed to men, because He wishes
them to understand that such an outcome is daily prepared in a spiritual
and invisible manner for men who refuse to render just and right
judgments, if they are appointed to determine the suits of men.

Footnote 311:

  C. xi.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ These examples apply very well to such men as are avaricious or
obstinate or both.

_Father._ You shall know of a truth, that wherever justice is sold for
money or is stricken down by arrogance, divine revenge and punishment,
physical or spiritual, will surely come; and an instance of this can be
cited, if it is desired. There was a prominent citizen in Athens named
Stephen; he was judge in all those cases that arose within the city; he
was not known as an unjust man. Now it came to pass that Stephen
departed this life, and two groups of angels came to meet him, the one
wishing to support his cause, the other charging him with much and heavy
guilt and wishing to lead him with them to death. But whereas a dispute
arose between them and neither side would yield, one of the angels
proposed that they should lead Stephen before the Judge and let the
dispute be settled by His judgment. When they came into court, the
accusing lawyers cried out saying that they had a grave charge against
Stephen, namely, that he had taken a plot of ground from the church of
Saint Lawrence by an unjust decree. But the judge said that the saint
should decide that case, seeing that he was the one robbed. Now just as
Saint Lawrence came up to hear how the suit was going forward, one of
the angels said to Stephen: “Why do you not call the holy priest Justin,
whom you honored so highly as to have a chapel built for him near your
hall and whom you have served in many things? He surely will be able to
assist you somewhat in these your troubles.”[312] Justin came at the
moment when the suit was being brought up before Saint Lawrence; and
after the case had been stated, the saint asked why Stephen had
plundered him and deprived his church of land. Stephen replied that he
did not render that unjust decision purposely, but really thought it was
a just decision. Then Saint Lawrence gripped Stephen in the side and
pinched him very hard. But Justin interceded for him, begging the saint
to show mercy in this cause, both because of his intercession and
because Stephen did not know that he had given an unjust decision. While
Saint Lawrence was pinching his side, Stephen had a feeling that even if
he were to suffer torture for a similar space of time in hell, he would
find it no more painful than the clutching of Saint Lawrence. But as
soon as Justin interceded for Stephen, the saint released him and
forgave the offence.[313]

Footnote 312:

  According to the legend the priest Justin assisted at the funeral of
  St. Lawrence. _Heilagra Manna Sögur_, I, 430.

Footnote 313:

  A somewhat different version of this story is given in the _Legenda
  Aurea_ of Jacques de Voragine, who quotes the “Miracles of the Virgin

When the prosecutors heard that this indictment had failed, they shouted
even more loudly, saying that they had still greater charges against
Stephen. So they set forth that a Roman whose name was Tarquin had come
to Athens, and since he was an alien and had no kindred there, he
thought that he might need help from Stephen in his important affairs,
seeing that Stephen was judge and ruler over the whole city; and he gave
Stephen a fine horse on condition that he was to have justice and
equity. Then the Judge decreed that, if Stephen had sold justice for
money, he should follow that profit to destruction. But when Stephen was
questioned whether this charge was true or not, he denied the accusation
and declared that he could not remember ever having taken fee or gift
for justice. Now since Stephen had denied the charge, it was ordered
that Tarquin himself should be called to straighten the matter. When
Tarquin came, he declared that this was not a true charge against
Stephen; for he asserted that Stephen had never taken fees for justice
so far as he knew. “But having come there a stranger,” said Tarquin, “I
thought that I might need the good will of such a man and gave him the
horse on my own volition and not at his request.” When the accusers
heard that they would surely fail in this indictment too, they cried
even more loudly, saying that they had a new charge against Stephen,
much greater than either of the others. They asserted that he had
arbitrarily and illegally saved three men from the death penalty, whom
both law and equity and a just sentence would have condemned. When
Stephen was asked whether he was guilty of this charge, he admitted that
he had saved the men from death, but declared that he had always
regretted having saved them by arbitrary and illegal means. Then the
Judge decreed that, if he had rescued men from death by violence whom
justice had condemned to die, he must suffer death for it, unless he
would do penance where the offence was committed. Then the priest Justin
asked Saint Lawrence to help in Stephen’s defense, seeing that he had
forgiven him the matter that he had against him and no indictment had
been found true except the one that was now being considered. So
Lawrence and Justin went in haste to the queen and, falling at her feet,
begged her to request this favor, that the verdict be modified so that
Stephen might be allowed to do penance in the place where he had
offended. When the queen interceded for Stephen, her request was
granted. Thereupon he was brought back to Athens, and he arose at the
moment when his body was to be carried to the grave. He lived three
winters after that and did penance for his guilt according to the
instruction of the bishop who was in charge of that city.

There are many such examples that could be brought up in this talk, if
it were thought necessary; and you should now conclude from what I set
forth in my last speech that the judgments passed here must be carefully
scrutinized, and that it is very important for those who are appointed
to be judges to make sure whether the decisions are properly stated and
the findings correct. For you heard how precisely the decrees were
weighed before the king’s son, when the scales were held up before him
but would never balance; and how he was threatened with death, if he
should pronounce a different judgment from the one that would balance
the scales. You also heard how God punished the king and the city of
Themar, because the king had distorted a just decision. Though the
people did not hold the true faith about God, He punished the deed
nevertheless, because they believed that a wrong decision could never
come from Themar. And in the last example you heard how Stephen was held
to account for all the dooms that he had pronounced, and suffered a
reprimand for having taken a gift from a friend; and he was condemned to
die for having saved men from death, though many would regard that as a
good rather than an evil deed.




_Son._ The more examples of this sort I hear, the more difficult seems
the position of those who are appointed to judge. I will ask you,
therefore, to indicate some test by which I can know when the judgments
ought to be severe and when they should be more lenient.

_Father._ It is difficult to state that in definite terms: still, all
causes that are brought before the men who have authority to judge will
be decided in some way. But I believe that a purpose to judge as they
think is right will do the most to keep them from falling into guilt
before God. For Stephen was acquitted of the charge that he had caused
the church of Saint Lawrence to forfeit land by the fact that he did not
know that his decision was wrong; and yet he did not wholly escape
punishment, though in some respects he was punished less than he would
have been, if he had known that his verdict was wrong. Now there are
four things which he who goes into the judgment hall must leave outside
and never allow to come into the judgment seat with him or even inside
the door. The first is avarice; the second, enmity; the third,
obstinacy; the fourth, friendship. For you heard that Stephen was
ordered to disclose whether he had accepted a gift from Tarquin and had
promised to secure justice for him in return for the fee. And the
judgment was, that if he had sold justice for money, he should follow
the fee to destruction. You heard this, too, that he was condemned to
die for having saved men from death by force and in defiance of law. You
also heard in the earlier account how the king and the city of Themar
perished because the king, being friendly to one side and very hostile
to the other, had distorted a just decision. Now for such reasons those
four things must be excluded, lest any one of them should cause a
righteous doom to be distorted.

You have also asked when the sentence should be lenient and when severe,
and that question can now be answered in a few words. Careful account
should be taken of the circumstances of the man’s case who is accused.
If a charge is brought against one who is anxious to keep the peace but
is driven to violence by the selfishness and arrogance of another, and,
regretting his guilt, is anxious to atone for it,—if such are the
circumstances, there should be lenient judgment in his case. Likewise,
if a man breaks the law who is ignorant and does not know that he is
transgressing, and would not have done the deed had he known it to be
contrary to law, his case, too, calls for a lenient sentence. Even when
the ugliest cases that are known among men, such as theft and robbery,
come up, one should investigate how the crime came about. If a man is so
hard bestead that he can get no food either by begging or buying and
cannot get work, while hunger and his physical nature drive him beyond
endurance, the judge should be lenient with him, even though he be taken
in guilt; and whenever necessity drives a man into crime and
law-breaking, the judgment should be tempered.

However, if the accused are men who have been led into crime by
insolence, ambition, avarice, or selfishness, the dooms ought to be
severe, though justice and the law of the land must be observed in every
instance. And in cases like those to which we have just referred the
sentence should be as severe as the law permits; while in the cases
mentioned earlier the law should be applied with due allowance for the
difficulties that were at hand. If the distress that led to the trouble
is considered great, the judgment should be tempered accordingly. But if
a king or any ruler who is a judge and has power to punish, takes life
as a punishment, he should always do it with great reluctance, in his
heart lamenting the death and ill-fortune of the offender. He must take
heed, however, lest he slay out of his own cruelty or in anger and
hatred for the one who is to die. Let him slay him in just punishment
and out of love for those who live after; because he believes that they
will live in greater security and lead better lives after having seen
the death and troubles of such a one; and because he intends that the
fear and terror which the misfortunes of another have brought upon him
shall guide those to rectitude and good morals, whom nature is unable to
guide because of their excessive ambition or stupidity. A famous man, an
upright and excellent emperor, once ordained respecting the decrees of
kings, that if a king should become so angry with any one that he
planned his death, and if his guilt were not so evident that he could
with justice be condemned at once to an immediate death, that man should
be kept in the king’s garth or in custody forty days before his case
should be finally determined.[314] And it would be well if every king
would observe this enactment, in order that he might frame his decisions
with regard for reason and justice and not in sudden anger. If a man is
convicted of an offence for which law and justice impose a fine but not
death, the king, or the lord who governs the land, shall seize his
wealth, not because he loves and covets the money, but because a just
penalty and the laws of the land demand it. If all these things which we
have now set forth are carefully observed, I believe that those who are
appointed to be judges will suffer no great reproaches from God.

Footnote 314:

  This is probably an allusion to the edict of Theodosius II “which
  interposes a salutary interval of thirty days between the sentence and
  the execution.” Gibbon, _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, III,
  176; Mommsen and Meyer (editors), _Theodosiani Libri_ XVI, I, part 2,
  503 (viii, 40:13). The edict was probably a part of the penance
  exacted from the Emperor after his massacre of the Thessalonians. See
  _Ambrosius Saga_ in _Heilagra Manna Sögur_, I, 40.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ It seems reasonable that a land, which is placed in charge of a
ruler who attends carefully to these things, will be well governed; and
the people ought to show proper appreciation of his government. Still
with your permission I shall now ask about certain matters that interest
me concerning rightful verdicts. You referred to an order given by an
emperor as to punishments decreed by a king (which looks to me like good
law), that a man who had incurred the king’s wrath should be given a
reprieve of forty days in the king’s custody, lest a verdict be rendered
too quickly in his case and in violent anger; and it seems to me that a
king will need to possess much good nature, if he is to spare a man in
his anger. But even so righteous and holy a man as Moses was could not
control his wrath on that day, when he came in anger to the people of
Israel; for I am told that his wrath rose to such violence that he
dashed the two tables of stone, which he bore in his arms and upon which
God Himself had written the ten commandments of His law with His own
fingers, against a rock and broke them into fragments in his fury; and
rushing at once to arms, he and the men who were with him slew many
hundred persons that day.[315] I have also heard that David in sudden
wrath ordered the man, who came from the battle in which Saul fell,
bringing the tidings that Saul was dead, to be slain immediately;[316]
and he did not order him to be kept for further inquiry.

Footnote 315:

  _Exodus_, xxxii.

Footnote 316:

  _II Samuel_, i.

_Father._ Remember what I called to your attention in an earlier remark,
namely, that these laws are intended for men who do not fall into such
evident transgressions that a rightful verdict can condemn them to
immediate death. But when Moses came away from God, he knew God’s wrath
toward all the people of Israel, and consequently did a deed of kindness
and not of hatred when by this chastisement he turned them from error
and evil ways; just as I have told you that a king in punishing should
be moved by kindness and not by hatred. For all penalties that are
inflicted because of hatred are murder; while punishment inflicted for
the sake of love and justice is a holy deed and not murder.




_Son._ Now, if you permit, I wish to ask more fully about penalties; for
few men, indeed, are able to comprehend how it can be a good, holy, and
loving deed to take a man’s life; wherefore I with many others on the
outside should like to have you explain briefly how it can be a good and
proper deed to slay men in righteous punishment; inasmuch as all gentle
and peaceful persons have a great aversion to manslaughter, regarding it
as evil and sinful.

_Father._ The subjects that we are now discussing are clearly
illustrated in the case of Moses. Holy man as he was and meek and
right-minded in every way, had he known that his act of punishment was
sinful like any other slaughter, he would not have ordered it. But if he
had been so zealous in his obstinate wrath that he had done this deed in
anger rather than for the sake of justice, God’s righteousness would
surely have punished him with a severe chastisement and stern revenge
for the great slaughter that he committed. For Moses commanded every man
who took up arms with him to spare none, neither father nor brother nor
other kinsmen, if they had been guilty of the deed that had called God’s
anger down upon them. Moses showed a threefold righteousness in this
chastisement: for those who were with him in the slaughter sanctified
their hands in the blood of those whom they slew, since in their deed
they rendered obedience to their leader and fulfilled the sacred laws.
Those who survived regretted their sins and turned their hearts to
penitence for having broken the law, while those who were slain were
cleansed in their penance and in the pangs which they suffered when they
died. And it was much better for them to suffer a brief pain in death
than a long torture in hell. Of the same character are the penalties
that kings impose; for a king cleanses himself in the blood of the
unjust, if he slays them as a rightful punishment to fulfil the sacred
laws. Moreover, there are many capable men who fear punishment alone,
and would commit crimes if they were not in terror of the king’s
revenge. But one who is to suffer punishment will confess his sins and
repent of his misdeeds; though if he did not see a sudden death prepared
for him, he would show no repentance. He is, therefore, saved by his
repentance and the pangs which he suffers in his death. And it is better
for him to suffer a brief punishment here than endless agony and
torture; for God never punishes the same sin twice. Consequently the
king’s punishment becomes a good and kind deed toward all those who are
subject to him, for he would rather have the one who is to be punished
suffer a brief pain here for his wickedness than to be lost forever, in
the world to come. Through this kindness he also saves the righteous and
peaceable from the avarice and the wickedness of the violent. We may,
therefore, conclude that punishment is a good deed, if it is exacted
according to a righteous verdict; for King Saul was deposed from his
kingship because he failed to punish according to God’s orders at the
time when he invaded the kingdoms of Amalek and the Amorites.



                       THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

_Son._ Now I wish to ask you why David slew the man of whom we spoke
earlier, him who brought the tidings that Saul had fallen, and whether
he slew him justly or did it from sudden anger.

_Father._ When the man had told these tidings, David asked how he knew
them. And he said that he had lifted up weapons against Saul at the
king’s own request. When David heard this, he spoke thus: “A wretched
creature you are, who dared to lay hands on the Lord’s anointed; and it
is better for you to suffer a swift punishment here than to have this
crime pursue you into everlasting hell.” Thereupon David ordered him to
be slain. But when he who had hoped to receive a joyous welcome and good
gifts for his tidings, saw that death was to be his reward, he repented
that he had falsely imputed this crime to himself and would gladly have
withdrawn his words, if he had been permitted to do so. But David spoke
thus: “Your own testimony condemns you and not I; for you have charged
yourself with this murder of the Lord’s anointed.” We have other and
similar instances in the case of the men who slew Ishbosheth, the son of
Saul, hoping thereby to win David’s friendship; and they fared to David
with the news that they had slain his enemy who had planned to rise up
against him and his kingship. But when David heard these tidings he
answered in this wise; “Wretches you are for this deed, having slain
your lord, though you were Ishbosheth’s own men; you have committed a
vile and treacherous crime in laying hands upon your lord, and you have
not acted as if you were my men and did this out of loyalty to me. Now
it will be necessary for you to suffer a swift revenge and a prompt
punishment, lest this deed draw you into everlasting torment.” Then
David ordered his men to cut off their hands and feet and afterwards to
hang them beside a pool in a city called Hebron.[317]

Footnote 317:

  _II Samuel_, iv.




_Son._ I will venture to ask one more question about those cases in
which it seems to me that God has passed rather strange sentences. I am
asking chiefly because I find it hard to understand what reason or
circumstance can have caused the difference in these decrees which I now
intend to bring up. You stated earlier in your speech that God deprived
Saul of his kingdom because he was too lenient in cases of homicide,
though a man will think that this was no great offence, as it is easy
enough to slay multitudes if that be regarded a better deed than to let
them live. Still, this leniency proved such a grievous fault that God
said He regretted having chosen Saul king over his people, and
immediately threatened—what He later carried out—that the kingship
should never be transmitted to his descendants; and immediately, though
Saul was still living, He appointed another to be king after his days.
But after David had become king, he committed a crime which will
scarcely seem less when reflected upon; for he committed adultery with
the wife of Uriah his knight, a good and faithful man, and afterwards
contrived his death, not as a just penalty but because he wanted his
wife. But later, when Nathan the prophet pointed out the sin to David
and he confessed, he was forgiven at once; indeed, it seemed as if his
kingship was more stable after that time than before. Now I do not know
which is the worse crime, to kill an innocent man and violate his wife,
or to let the guilty have their lives. Many a man, who is ignorant as to
the reason why, may indeed imagine that God loved David more than Saul,
and that David’s crime was counted less for that reason. But inasmuch as
God always judges according to justice and without regard to persons, it
would be sinful to hold wrong ideas about this; and it would be well if
you could add a few words in explanation, unless you think that my
questions are stupid. It may also be that great lords who are chosen to
be judges will get a better insight into these things, if they are
clearly expressed.

_Father._ This question is of such a character that it will demand an
extended answer, if it is to be fully understood. But since it has been
brought up, I shall be glad to answer it as far as I can and as briefly
as I can. First it is necessary to recall what I said in an earlier
speech when we talked about dooms,—when they should be severe and when
lenient: I then brought out the fact that if a good and peace-loving man
should fall into sin and his deed should seem evil to him and he were
anxious to do penance, then the judgment ought to be merciful in his
case on account of human nature; for human nature is so frail that no
one can be so careful as never to fall into sin. But some add to their
offence by taking pride in it, and they are not careful to avoid falling
into another sin. Now David was of all men the most adroit in the use of
weapons in warfare and he was by nature quite severe in righteous
chastisement; but he was a kind-hearted man, friendly toward everyone,
and sympathetic toward all who suffered misfortunes. He was also
trustworthy in every respect, honest and faithful in friendship and in
all his promises, and so virtuous that he would allow nothing vicious
about his person,—indeed his like was not found among all the people of
Israel; for when God chose David to be king, He testified in these
words, saying that He had found a man after His own heart. But human
frailty caused him to fall in the matter that we mentioned earlier: he
violated Uriah’s wife. But after he had fallen into this transgression
and when he was once more alone, he repented deeply, sighing and
weeping. Inasmuch as the rules of the law would condemn this crime as a
shameful reproach, if it were rumored among the people, David planned to
keep the matter quiet, letting God see his repentance but keeping the
people in ignorance of his offence, lest they should take his misdeed as
an example and regard it as less serious to fall into sin and
transgression if they knew of his guilt. So David sought to hide his
guilt by a crafty design: for as soon as he learned that Bathsheba,
Uriah’s wife, was pregnant, he sent for Uriah, and hoping to avoid
taking his life, he ordered him to lie with his wife so that the
offspring might be known as his, while David would atone in secret for
the sin of his whoredom and never afterward come near Uriah’s wife. But
when he found that Uriah happened to be unwilling to lie with his wife,
he contrived to conceal his sin from men, though he increased it in the
sight of God. Later, when Nathan the prophet charged David with all this
guilt, he answered as if condemning himself, speaking these words: “So
heavy and evil is my transgression that I am worthy of death because of
this thing; a wretch am I to have set such an example before God’s
people, over whom He has appointed me ruler and judge; rather would I
now suffer a speedy death than have this misdeed pursue me to hell. Now
since I have set an evil example before the people of God by my sin, I
am ready to suffer punishment according to the Lord’s will as a warning
to the people not to fall into such transgression.” But when Truth and
Justice saw David’s penitence, they permitted Mercy to pass the
judgment; for the prophet Nathan replied in this wise: “God sees your
repentance, and He does not desire you to suffer death for your sin, but
He will punish you with an endurable chastisement for this deed before
you die.” Now you must know that God did not forgive David’s crime so
completely as to excuse him from just punishment; for this was the first
penalty that the king suffered from God: the child which he had begotten
with Bathsheba was a man child and very lovely, wherefore David much
desired that it might live; but it did not please God to let him enjoy
the child which he had begotten in such a sinful way. Nevertheless,
David lay seven days upon the earth in the raiment of mourning, fasting
and imploring God to let the child live. But God would not hear his
prayer, and the child expired on the seventh day.[318] And this was the
second punishment, that God refused to let David build him a
temple;[319] God even called him a murderer, because he had deprived
Uriah of life. But for the adultery which he had committed with Uriah’s
wife, he had to suffer this disgrace, that his son Absalom, in the sight
of all the people, went in unto David’s concubines and thus dishonored
his father before all the people.[320]

Footnote 318:

  The story of David’s great sin concerning Bathsheba and Uriah and its
  consequences is told in _II Samuel_, xi-xii, but it is probable that
  the author’s source is some Biblical paraphrase rather than the
  Vulgate itself.

Footnote 319:

  _I Chronicles_, xxii, 8.

Footnote 320:

  _II Samuel_, xvi, 21-22.

You have also asked which crime was the worse, that David caused Uriah
to be slain without guilt and seduced his wife, or that Saul refused to
kill so many people of Amalek; and you shall know of a truth that Saul’s
crime was the greater; for no offence is graver than to be disobedient
toward one’s superiors, as Saul was. And you may observe even at this
day among cloister folk, that if a monk is disobedient toward his abbot,
where an abbot rules the cloister, or toward the prior, where such a one
controls, he is forthwith expelled from the holy order and from the
monastery and is thenceforth regarded as a layman. Likewise, if a priest
refuses to obey his superior the bishop, he is at once deprived of
clerical honors, and the right to say mass is taken from him as well as
all other official duties. In the same way, if a bishop, be he humble or
powerful, refuses to obey his superior, he is immediately shorn of his
dignity and all his office; and after that he is regarded among learned
men as any other layman unworthy of any distinction. And it ought to be
even more evident that it could not prosper Saul to be disobedient to
such a lord as God Himself, when he was ordered to invade Amalek and the
land of the Amorites and to slay all that was living. God took His rod
of punishment and placed it in Saul’s hands, bidding him execute His
wrath and spare nothing that was living; to burn fortified cities,
farmsteads, clothing, and whatever else there was; to lay the entire
land in ruins and thus cleanse it with sword and ax and fire. Saul,
however, carried out the vengeance that he was charged with in another
way, by destroying everything that was lacking in beauty or value; but
whatever seemed to him to be beautiful, valuable, and worth possessing
he spared, brought home to his country, and distributed among his men.
But when Samuel came to Saul and showed him the wrath of God, Saul spoke
as if excusing himself: “Praise be to God, for I have fulfilled His
command: I invaded Amalek and visited the entire kingdom with fire and
sword; but King Agag I have brought with me, wishing to honor God’s
command by slaying him here, if He wills that he die. Fat oxen and fine
sheep I have brought hither to sacrifice such to God as are acceptable
to Him; and the children of the chief men I have brought hither to be
kept in bondage and distress, doing fitting service for ourselves.”

Then Samuel replied: “How can God now accept that as a sacrifice which
He has Himself cursed in His anger? For God demands a blessed and not an
accursed sacrifice; and you shall know of a surety that obedience is
more pleasing to God than any sacrifice.” Truth stood by and said: “What
need is there to conceal the motive that induced Saul to neglect doing
as God commanded him? Saul imagined himself so firmly established in his
kingship that he could order these things more according to his own
liking than to God’s command; he showed excessive pride in failing to
remember who had given him the power. And this is the reason why he took
good horses, oxen, sheep, and much else of value, that he might satisfy
the greed of his knights and the rapacity of his other warriors rather
than carry out the commands of God. And he spoke falsely when he said
that he had brought horses and sheep and other things of value into his
kingdom to sacrifice them to God; for he knew that a cursed sacrifice
was not acceptable to God.” Then the decision was left to Justice and
she decreed in this wise: “Whereas God took His rod of punishment, and
placing it in Saul’s hands bade him execute the divine wrath upon a
cursed people, let that punishment now come upon Saul and his family
which he failed to visit upon those whom God had commanded him to carry
it out upon. But the same rod of punishment that was given to Saul to
shake over others, another shall now hold and shake over Saul and all
his kin. And because he wished in his avarice to possess the riches that
were forbidden him, let him now forfeit those riches that were given to
him before.”[321] But the reason why Justice passed such a severe
judgment upon Saul was that God knew his disposition thoroughly. For it
was in Saul’s nature to be proud and stubborn in the face of God; and as
soon as he thought himself firmly established in his kingdom, he became
greedy and avaricious, as is evident from this account.

Footnote 321:

  On this episode see _I Samuel_, xv.

Now there was this difference between the tempers of David and Saul:
when Nathan the prophet charged David with sin, he spoke reproachfully
of his fault, almost as if condemning himself, and implored mercy,
though willing to suffer punishment, as if prepared to accept with
gratitude any terms which God might impose for his misdeed; therefore he
won favor through the lenient judgment of Mercy. Yet, his son died
because of Uriah’s death, though David himself did not die; and for
violating Uriah’s wife he suffered a great disgrace in that his son
dishonored him in the sight of all the people.

But when Samuel accused Saul of his crime, he replied as if defending
his cause and praised himself for having done so well and spoke in this
wise: “Praise be to God, for I have done what He commanded;” though he
knew in his own mind that anything else was nearer the truth. Therefore
he was stricken by the sentence of Justice, God seeing his arrogant
boasting and lying excuses. But his arrogance and envy became even more
evident after he discovered that God was angry with him; for Saul fell
ill; and now and then madness came upon him, so that he had to be
watched when the malady troubled him. Then it was learned that if a man
could be found who could play the harp well before him, he would find
relief and the illness would afflict him less. So they found a lovely
youth whose name was David, the son of Jesse in Bethlehem, who knew how
to strike the harp skilfully; he came to the king, and whenever the
malady came upon Saul, David, standing before him, struck the harp and
the illness departed immediately. But when Saul discovered that the
malady was less severe, he loved David highly and made him his shield
bearer.[322] Samuel, however, had already anointed him king in secret,
no one knowing it but his father and his brothers. David remained with
Saul many days and served him faithfully; and all men perceived that God
was with him in all his doings. Saul, too, was well disposed toward him
at first: he gave him his daughter and assigned him a troop to
command.[323] But after Saul had won his great victory over the
Philistines and David had slain the giant Goliath and they were
returning from the warfare, women came forth from cities and fortresses,
dancing toward them and singing praises to them for their victory. And
the burden of their song was this, that Saul had conquered a thousand
but David ten thousand.[324] When Saul heard this he was seized with
wrath and envy toward David and said in his own thoughts: “Now I
perceive that God has chosen this man to take the kingdom after me
instead of my sons; but I shall try to upset this plan if I can, though
so cleverly that no one shall perceive that I kill him intentionally.” A
few days later Saul’s habitual illness came upon him; but David took his
harp and, standing before him, played as was his wont to relieve the
king’s illness. Saul had a javelin in his hand which he threw at David,
aiming to drive it through him and pin him to the wall of the room. Thus
he had planned to avoid responsibility for the murder by leading the
people to think he had done it in frenzy and not with evil intent. David
escaped and found security from that peril. But when Saul saw that David
had escaped and he had not caught him, he sent him on frequent forays
among heathen people in the hope that he would be slain in warfare. But
the more frequently David went out into battle, the more frequent
victories and the greater honors did he win; and God magnified him
before the eyes of all the people. And the more Saul saw him prosper,
the more he envied him.[325]

Footnote 322:

  _I Samuel_, xvi, 14-23.

Footnote 323:

  _Ibid._, xviii, 12-21.

Footnote 324:

  _Ibid._, xviii, 6-9.

Footnote 325:

  Cf. _I Samuel_, xix, 8-11.

Now you can imagine the state of King Saul’s mind: he could say nothing
against David, only what was good. But since he perceived that God loved
David much because of his humility and loyalty, he envied him as Cain
envied his brother Abel because God loved him. Indeed, Saul’s enmity
toward David became so evident that he could not conceal his intentions
to kill him. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, reminded the king that it would
be a sin to slay an innocent man, speaking in this wise: “My lord, why
are you angry with your servant David? If there is any guilt on his part
that may be injurious to your kingdom or dignity, every man who is with
you here will seek his life; and we can seize him whenever we like, for
he is not on his guard against us, knowing himself to be guiltless. He
has served you long and has been faithful in all things; he fought
against great odds when he slew Goliath, and God rescued your entire
kingdom through David’s wonderful victory, which he won fighting unarmed
against a giant. He has waited upon you in your distressing illness; and
wherever you have placed him at the head of the host, he has brought a
vigorous defense to your kingdom, and no one knows that he has been
anything but loyal. Therefore conquer your wrath, sire, and do not fall
into such an evident sin of murder before God as to slay an innocent
man.”[326] Saul, however, became only the more wrathful and charged with
treason his son and everyone else who spoke a good word for David.

Footnote 326:

  Cf. _I Samuel_, xix, 4-7.

David fled from King Saul’s wrath with a few men, but provided with
neither clothes nor weapons. He came to the city called Nob, the bishop
of which was Ahimelech, a son of Ahitub the bishop; but Ahitub was the
son of Ichabod, the son of Phineas, the son of Eli the bishop. When
David came to the bishop Ahimelech, he pretended to be traveling on an
important mission for King Saul, and asked him to give him and his men
something to eat and to furnish him with weapons. The bishop Ahimelech
gave him such victuals as he had, but weapons he had none to give him
except the sword that had belonged to Goliath; and this he gave him, for
he did not know that he was a fugitive, but believed he was traveling on
the king’s errand, as he had said. But so fierce was Saul’s hatred
toward David, that as soon as he learned that the bishop Ahimelech had
given him food, he seized the bishop and all his kinsmen and charged
them with treason. The bishop replied to the charge in this wise: “My
lord, I confess that I gave David what food I had and the weapon that I
had, for he said he was traveling on an important errand on your behalf.
Why should I not give hospitality to a man like David, who is the best
and the most highly esteemed of all the men that you have about you
except your sons, and who is furthermore your own son-in-law and has
been faithful to you in all things? Never have I had any design against
you or your honor. Do not think, my lord, that I, your servant, have
plotted with David against your will; I could not know why David
traveled in such distress, for he told me that you had sent him with
important errands; nor did I know that he had fallen into any guilt
against you.” Then Saul replied in fierce anger: “This I swear that you
shall perish to-day, you and all your kin.” Thereupon he caused the
bishop to be slain along with eighty-five other men, all of whom were
robed in the priestly dignity. After that he ordered all who dwelt in
the city of Nob to be slain, even women and children, and had the city

Footnote 327:

  On the fate of Ahimelech and the inhabitants of Nob, cf. _I Samuel_,
  xxi, 1-9; xxii, 9-19.

Now I have revealed to you the ferocity which God found in Saul’s heart
when he removed him from the kingship, and which later became evident in
what you have now heard and in much else of like import, though I have
told this only. The displeasure which the king incurred from God fell so
heavily upon him, for the reason that God saw in his heart the fierce
avarice which later began to appear. Now he wanted to kill David, though
innocent, because he found that God loved him; and he slew the bishop,
though guiltless, and so fierce was he that he slew everything in the
city that had life and afterward burned the city. But where God had
commanded him to use severity of this sort, there he had spared; here,
however, he slew God’s servants in defiance of God’s command. But in
David’s case God passed a more lenient judgment for the reason that,
just as he perceived the ferocity in Saul’s heart, he found true
repentance and clemency in David’s heart, as I shall now show you.

There was a son of the bishop Ahimelech, Abiathar by name, who was hid
in a cave when all those were slain of whom I have just spoken. Abiathar
fled to David and told him all these happenings. But when David heard
these tidings, he sighed and spoke thus in deep sorrow: “May God in His
mercy forgive me for this slaughter, for I have too great a share in it,
having eaten your father’s bread. And now since you have come hither,
abide with me; and if God permits me to live, He will also protect you
with me, and let whatever God wishes happen to us both.” Thereupon David
elevated him to the bishop’s office which his father had held. But when
David’s kinsmen learned that he was abiding in the forest, they joined
him with a large force counting not fewer than four hundred men; and
from that time on David grew in strength as God willed.[328] He camped
among the hills with this force and made repeated attacks on Saul’s
enemies, but never on the king himself or his men. But whenever Saul
learned where David lay concealed, he marched out to seek him, intending
to slay him.

Footnote 328:

  _I Samuel_, xxii, 1-2, 20-23.

Then it happened once, when David and his men were hiding in a large
cave, that Saul entered this alone on a necessary errand. Then said
David’s companions: “Now God has fulfilled what He has promised you and
has delivered your enemy into your hands; be sure to secure this
quarry.” David stole up and cut a piece off Saul’s mantle, though the
king was not aware of it, and returned to his comrades. Then David’s
companions said to him: “If you are unwilling to lay your own hand upon
him, let us kill him.” David replied: “My crime would be as great before
God, whether I do it myself or bid others do it. God keep me and all our
companions from such a sin as to lay hands upon the Lord’s anointed. He
is my master and I served him long; he is also the Lord’s anointed and
it would be a great crime, if I were to lay hands upon him, for I have
no revenge to take either for father or brother or any other kinsman;
nor is it as if he had taken the throne which he sits upon from my
kinsmen with violence or deceit; but God chose him to it and sanctified
him to His service, honoring him with His own name. Wherefore it is
right that He Who appointed him to the kingship should deprive him of it
according to His will, but not I in vengeful audacity. And I swear this
day that God alone shall call him, whether by demanding his soul or by
causing him to fall in battle before his enemies; but as for my hands,
they shall let him live many days. But I regret deeply that I injured
his garment if he shall feel hurt or dishonored because of it.”

When Saul had departed and returned to his host, David ran up on a hill
and cried: “My lord, King Saul! can you hear?” But when Saul turned to
hear what this man said, David bent both knees to the earth and bowing
before the king said to him: “Those men do ill who tell you, my lord,
that I mean to be your enemy; for now I have evidence here in my hand
that your life was in my power to-day, when you left all your host and
entered the cave alone; and it was no less in my power to injure your
life than your clothes, for here I have in my hand a large piece of the
skirt of your mantle. Now let God judge between us. You see how they
have told lying tales, who say that I have striven after your life.”
Saul appreciated these facts fully, for David spoke the truth; and he
promised that he would nevermore hate David.[329] But not many days
passed before Saul went out again to seek David, as he did constantly
after that. Now it came to pass another time, when Saul had made a
wearisome journey in search of David, that sleep came upon the king and
all his host. And David went into the camp where Saul lay, but none was
aware of it. The man who accompanied him was named Abishai and he said
to David: “Now you can see that God surely intends to deliver your enemy
into your hands, and it is not advisable to refuse what God Himself
offers you. I will thrust my spear through him, if you will permit me,
and then we shall return to our men.” David answered: “God has done this
to tempt me and to see whether I would lay my hands on His anointed. Now
I must answer as before, that God shall tear the kingship from him,
either by demanding his soul or by causing him to fall before his
enemies; but as for my hands, they shall let him live many days; for I
have no revenge to cherish against him, either for plunder or for the
loss of kinsmen, except such as was incurred while he was cleansing the
land with righteous punishment; and it is neither my proper business nor
that of anyone else to take revenge for such; for it is a more serious
matter than even a wise man can conceive to lay hands on the Lord’s
anointed, who is dedicated and hallowed to God. Let us take his
saddle-cup and his spear for a proof, and then let us return to our

Footnote 329:

  The story of David and Saul at En-gedi is told in _I Samuel_, xxiv.

Footnote 330:

  Cf. _I Samuel_, xxvi.

Now you will understand the character of both King Saul and David from
what I have just told you. David knew that he was chosen of God to
govern, that he was the Lord’s anointed, consecrated and hallowed to God
no less than Saul was. He also knew that God had rejected Saul. And God
delivered Saul into David’s hands, so that he could have taken Saul’s
life at any time, if he had wished. David showed great faithfulness and
humility in this, that every time he saw Saul, he bowed before him and
saluted him as any other unhallowed layman would, who had not been set
apart for chieftainship. Although Saul lay in wait for his life, David
continued to serve him, and worried the king’s enemies as much as he
could. On the other hand, Saul had nothing against David except that he
knew God had chosen him to be king; and he showed great wickedness and
fierce hatred in striving to slay an innocent man, one who served him
faithfully. He likewise displayed an inordinate vanity in wishing to
make away with a man whom God Himself had chosen to rule after him. For
these reasons God passed a severe judgment in Saul’s case; for He saw in
Saul’s heart what men could not perceive, though subsequently God made
this fact evident to the sight of men. But in David’s case God was more
lenient, for the reason that He found him always humble and faithful in
everything, as He made clear to men later on. There is further evidence
of this in the fact, that as soon as David learned that Saul and his son
Jonathan had fallen, he and all his host lamented in great sorrow, and
David spoke these words: “Be ye cursed, ye mountains of Gilboa! May God
nevermore send rain or dew or growing grass upon you, for you led King
Saul and his son Jonathan along treacherous paths in their flight across
your summits and refused to show them serviceable highways, whereby they
could save their lives from the hands of the foeman; nor did you provide
them with sheltering ramparts upon your heights. It is a bitter sorrow
for all the people of Israel, that splendid chieftains like Saul and
Jonathan should pass away from council and government. Great strength
and power have perished this day, when such excellent princes are fallen
as Saul and Jonathan were, and the many good knights with many good
weapons and much good armor who have perished with them. Let the lesser
men beware of God’s wrath, since He has allowed the heathen to lay hands
on His anointed. Let the multitude bewail a loss like this, that such
excellent rulers should fall before the heathen.”[331] Such words and
many more like them David spoke that day, and thus he lamented their
death rather than rejoiced in the fact that the realm had fallen to him
and into his keeping. From this you will observe how upright he was, how
honest and free from faults. But whenever human nature caused him to
fall into sin, he forthwith showed keen repentance, imploring God’s
mercy and compassion; and God gave heed at once to his honest regret.

Footnote 331:

  Cf. David’s lament in _II Samuel_, i: 17-27. The author has made but
  slight use of David’s own language.

Earlier in our conversation we have told how Absalom, King David’s son,
raised the whole land in revolt against his father. But when David’s
captains happened to meet Absalom in battle and David learned of his
death, he cried out in these words: “What shall it profit me to live, an
aged man who grows weaker day by day, now that you, my son Absalom, are
dead in the flowertime of youth? Would to God that I could die now and
that you my son might live!”[332] David was never so bitter against
other men but that he would rather suffer death himself than see
another’s death, except where he saw that punishment was inflicted on
the demand of justice. This was shown again at one time when David’s
entire kingdom incurred the wrath of God, and a pestilence came upon the
realm, so violent that people perished by thousands. When the plague
approached the city of Jerusalem, David beheld the angel, who was
smiting the people, standing between heaven and earth with a blazing
sword. And when he saw the angel with the sword lifted as if ready to
strike, he placed his neck under the edge and said: “I beg thee, O Lord,
that this sword be rather turned against my neck than that more of God’s
people shall now be slain, and that my Lord’s wrath may fall upon me,
who am guilty and worthy of punishment, and upon my family rather than
that God’s people shall be rooted out on my account.” As soon as God saw
David’s regret and heard his very acceptable prayer, He commanded the
angel to desist from slaying the people, and forthwith the plague ceased
everywhere in the kingdom.[333]

Footnote 332:

  Cf. _II Samuel_, xviii, 33.

Footnote 333:

  Cf. _II Samuel_, xxiv.

From these and many other similar instances you will now observe how
full of grace and goodness David was toward all men. And just as God saw
kindliness, mercy, and humility in his heart, He saw avarice, ferocity,
and unmeasured pride in Saul’s heart; consequently every fault was
graver before God in Saul’s case than in David’s; for the men were
unlike. David was the meekest and the most merciful of men, and whenever
he fell into any fault he implored God to spare him; but Saul grew
fiercer and more envious the more sins he fell into and the nearer he
saw God’s wrath approaching. Now if you think that these answers have
led you to a clearer understanding of the matters that you have asked
about, I believe it will not be necessary to discuss these subjects any




_Son._ I see clearly now from what you told in your last speech that the
judgments were lenient in David’s case, because he regretted the sins
into which he fell, but more severe in Saul’s case, because he was less
disposed to do penance for his misdeeds. Now there are certain other
matters which I am much interested in and which I shall ask about with
your permission, namely those events that occurred after David’s death.
Once when two women came before King Solomon, quarreling about a child,
the king ordered the child to be hewn in pieces and half given to each
of them:[334] now I wish to ask whether, if neither of the women had
spoken up, the king would have hewn the child asunder or not.

Footnote 334:

  See _I Kings_, iii, 16-28.

_Father._ The king ordered the child to be divided because he knew of a
surety that the one who was the mother would not be willing to have the
child divided.

_Son._ I asked whether the king would have divided the child if the
mother had kept silence.

_Father._ If the mother had been so void of mercy that she would not ask
him to spare the child, the king would have divided it between them.

_Son._ Would it not look to you like plain murder, if he had slain an
innocent child, seeing that it was not for punishment?

_Father._ It would indeed have been murder if he had killed the child;
still, the guilt would not have been with the king but with the mother,
if she had failed to beg mercy for her child, when she heard the king
render a fair judgment in their case, which she realized would mean the
child’s death; therefore the guilt would be hers if she withheld the
motherly pity which could save the child.

_Son._ What do you think about the death of Joab and Adonijah, whom King
Solomon slew? Was that a righteous judgment or not? And why did King
Solomon cause Shimei to be slain for cursing his father David, seeing
that David had already forgiven Shimei this offence?

_Father._ If King Solomon had done this except as lawful punishment, God
would have visited him with a worthy penalty as for murder. But after he
had done all this, God revealed Himself to him in a dream and bade him
choose whatever gift he might wish. But Solomon asked God to give him
wisdom and insight into righteous judgments. Then God answered him in
this wise: “If this choice were given to the multitude, there would be
many who would choose riches and power, or a long life, or peace, or
success in warfare. But because thou hast chosen this thing, thou shalt
receive what thou hast chosen and likewise all the other gifts that I
have enumerated.” From this you will observe how well God is pleased
with righteousness in judgments; for God gave Solomon all the supreme
gifts, because he chose equity as his part. And you will understand
that, if he had slain those others unjustly, God would not have given
him such excellent gifts as He did give him.




_Son._ What you have just said does indeed seem reasonable. If Solomon
had been led to execute these men through selfishness and injustice, he
would not have received such excellent gifts from God, as were given to
him after that deed was done. Still, if I may, I should like to ask you
to point out how righteous dooms are worked out, in order that I may
understand more clearly, and others too who may hear it, how Solomon
could execute Shimei by righteous decree, when his father David had
already forgiven him the offence.[335]

Footnote 335:

  The story of Shimei is told in _II Samuel_, xvi, 5-8; xix, 16-23; _I
  Kings_, ii, 8-9, 36-46.

_Father._ Solomon did this out of regard for justice rather than from
cruelty, and for the following reasons. When Shimei cursed David, he did
it out of impudence and malice, and for no just cause; but when he
begged David for mercy, he asked it more because of fear than of
repentance, for he was afraid that David would take his life as the
sacred law demanded. But when he implored mercy David replied in these
words: “I shall not slay you this time, since you implore my grace; but
keep in mind that you will be punished for this deed, unless you atone
in true repentance.” In these words David pointed out to Shimei that he
ought to atone with loving friendship for the words that he had spoken
in sheer hatred. Shimei, however, lived the rest of his days in such a
manner that, while no one found him to cherish enmity toward David, it
never appeared that he made returns in friendship for David’s mercy in
permitting him to live when the law demanded his death. But when he came
before Solomon after David’s death, the king said to him: “Remember,
Shimei, that you cursed the Lord’s anointed; and it has not appeared
that you have truly regretted it since. But this shall be a covenant
between us as a reminder to repentance on your part, that you shall not
enjoy such complete freedom as one who has never fallen into this sin.
Now you have large and beautiful dwellings and many houses here in
Jerusalem and you may live in peace within the city, enjoying all your
possessions according to your desire; but if you ever go outside the
city, the punishment of the law shall come upon your head, since you did
not take thought to repent before I reminded you.” When the king had
ceased speaking, Shimei expressed himself as thankful for this agreement
and said that he should find but little inconvenience in being forbidden
to leave the city, if he might remain secure in the king’s friendship
within the city and enjoy all his possessions. Three years later,
however, Shimei forgot this agreement and went outside the city to seek
diversion,[336] as if proud of his audacity in violating the covenant.
But as soon as these tidings were told to the king, he ordered Shimei to
be seized and brought before him, and he said to him: “You have
forgotten to be ashamed of having broken the agreement which we two made
as a reminder that you owe repentance for having cursed the Lord’s
anointed. There is, therefore, a double guilt upon your head now; and it
will be better for you to suffer a brief punishment here, so that others
may be warned by your misfortune, than that this crime should follow you
into eternal death, and others become bolder in such evil, if you die
unpunished.” Then the king ordered him to be killed and buried outside
the city as a reminder and warning to others never to break a covenant.

Footnote 336:

  According to the Scriptural story Shimei left Jerusalem to bring back
  two runaway servants. _I Kings_, ii, 39-40.




_Son._ Now I wish to ask you why Solomon caused his brother Adonijah to
be put to death for requesting Abishag to be his wife.

_Father._ Adonijah had earlier, as you may have heard, led an uprising
against his father. When David had become an aged man and was very
decrepit because of his many years, Adonijah appointed himself to be
king without his father’s knowledge, and made a festive banquet as newly
consecrated king. He sent heralds running through the streets with pipes
and drums to proclaim throughout the city that Adonijah was now the
king. The chief men who were with him in this plot were Joab, David’s
chief captain and his kinsman, and Abiathar the bishop, and many other
lords. But when Zadoc the bishop, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the
captain, and Bathsheba the queen came as if in deep sorrow to tell David
what great undertakings were hidden from him, he remained silent for
some time but sighed heavily. At last he spoke as from a heart full of
grief and said: “My sons are not minded like me, for I served King Saul
many days, though he sought after my life. And yet God had chosen me to
be king, for He was angry with King Saul; but I awaited the judgment of
God by which he would be deprived of his kingdom; but I would not
condemn him, though he was mine adversary. Now my son has done that to
me which I would not do to mine enemy. But because Adonijah has taken
the kingship to which God Himself appointed me, even before I had
renounced it or He Who had chosen me had removed me, he shall fall in
disgrace from this dignity, as that one fell who in arrogant pride
raised the first rebellion against his Lord.”

Then David said to Zadoc the bishop: “Take my mule and harness him with
all the accoutrements with which he was arrayed when I rode him in all
my glory and set my son Solomon upon him; and taking Nathan the prophet
with you and Benaiah the captain and all my most loyal chiefs and
knights, ride to the tabernacle of the Lord in Zion[337] and there
anoint my son Solomon king. Then take my own trumpet and let it be
sounded throughout the city with a festive sound to proclaim that
Solomon is king by the will of God and David’s choice. After that you
shall bring my son Solomon to me that I may welcome the newly appointed
king to my throne.” When David had ceased speaking, Zadoc the bishop did
all those things that the king had commanded. And when Solomon returned
arrayed in all the tokens of royalty, David rose to receive him, bowed
before him, and blessed him in these words: “Praise be to Thee, O God,
that Thou wert pleased to exalt me from my low estate to such high
honors as I now enjoy, and hast helped me in many perils, and now after
much trouble and long toil hast brought me the consolation that mine
eyes should behold the one sprung from my loins whom Thou hast Thyself
chosen to sit in the seat of honor to which Thou didst formerly appoint
me, according to Thy promises, O Lord. Now I pray Thee, O Lord, give
this young man David’s glory and understanding in double and threefold
measure, make him a perfect ruler to govern Thy holy people according to
Thy will.” Then David kissed Solomon and said to him: “The God Who rules
the heavens multiply peace to you above all the kings upon earth and
give you blessings and the fruits of earth and perfect happiness.”[338]
When he had ended this speech and benediction, David said to Solomon:
“Because I find that God has given you wisdom and understanding, I
charge you to govern wisely and justly, though somewhat severely, lest
the kingdom should seem to be lacking in government because of your
faint-heartedness. But temper the severity of punishment, lest you be
thought too stern and merciless. Remember your kinsman Joab, however,
who has served me long and with much labor; but it is not fitting that
the sinful deeds which he has committed should follow him to hell: for
he slew two excellent captains who were in my peace, Abner and Amasa,
who had served King Saul with great fidelity. And there are many others
whom he slew in his overweening pride, but not in lawful chastisement.
And it is better to let him suffer a brief punishment here than that he
should be lost eternally because of these crimes. Keep also my promise
to Shimei, though he cursed me when I fled from the violence of your
brother Absalom; but keep it in such a way that he will be reminded to
do penance for his misdeeds, lest the curse be forever upon his head
which he incurred when he cursed me an innocent man. Let kinship temper
your wrath against your brother Adonijah, if you see that he regrets his
treasonable uprising against his father. Remember that the bishop
Abiathar lost his father and all his kinsmen, because he gave me food,
when I came to Nob a fugitive from the face of King Saul. Abiathar
deserves well for this, too, that he followed me and bore the ark of God
before me, when I fled from the face of your brother Absalom. But do not
forget to give him a reminder to repentance for joining your brother
Adonijah in treasonable designs against me, lest this offence should
follow him to his death. Be manly, strong, and severe, but with
moderation. Do the will of God in all things, and both temporal and
eternal joys shall be added to you.”[339]

Footnote 337:

  Error for Gihon.

Footnote 338:

  On the subject of Adonijah’s rebellion and Solomon’s triumphant
  accession see _I Kings_, i. The author has used little more than the
  outline of the story as given in the Bible.

Footnote 339:

  Cf. _I Kings_, ii, 1-11. In the Biblical story David’s charge to
  Solomon comes after the day of Solomon’s accession, and not, as the
  author has it, during the day.

Then said David to Zadoc the bishop and Nathan the prophet: “Go now and
prepare a banquet and lead King Solomon into my hall and let him sit in
my high-seat amid festive joys.” And they did everything as David bade
them. But when Adonijah’s feast was ended, the guests heard singing and
piping and all forms of merriment, as if a new joy had come into the
city. When Adonijah asked what the merry-making signified, whether the
rejoicing was in his honor or new tidings had come, it was told him that
David had himself given Solomon his title and all the royal honors and
had chosen him to be king; and that Solomon was already hallowed as king
and sitting upon David’s throne in festive raiment; and that all the
people rejoiced in the news as on a merry holiday. When Adonijah heard
this report, great terror came upon him and all those who were with him
in this conspiracy, and they fled every man to his house. But Adonijah
fled to the tabernacle of the Lord and laid his hand upon the sacred
altar, as if taking vows of chastity and service in God’s holy
tabernacle. Thereupon he sent a man to the king, saying: “Here shall I
die, unless my lord King Solomon will promise and assure me that he will
not slay me, his servant, for the evil that I have done.” Then King
Solomon replied: “Adonijah is my brother by kinship; therefore I will
gladly spare him, if he will show true repentance for stirring up
treason and rebellion against his father David; and I will bear this
burden with him before God on the condition that he must always continue
loyal, humble, and free from deceit. But if any treasonable ambitions be
found in him, he may expect a swift revenge to come upon his head. Let
him now go home to his possessions and enjoy them as long as he keeps
what is now decreed.”[340]

Footnote 340:

  Cf. _I Kings_, i, 41-53.

When the hour of David’s death was approaching, Solomon frequently
visited his father; and when the king had departed this life, he mourned
for him many days, he and all the lords in the kingdom; and he buried
him with every form of royal pomp and at a vast outlay. But after
David’s death, Adonijah begged Bathsheba the queen to ask King Solomon
to give him Abishag to wife. The facts respecting Abishag were these:
when King David grew old, chills entered into his flesh, so that clothes
were not sufficient to keep him warm; Abishag was a young virgin, the
fairest maid in the kingdom and of the best and noblest family; she was
brought to King David’s bed to lie close to him and warm him and cherish
him, in the hope that the king might draw warmth from her soft and
blossoming form and from his desire for the fair virgin. David loved her
highly with a perfect affection, but as a foster-mother, not as a wife.
And for this reason Abishag won such great honor that she came to be
regarded as the first queen and she ranked above all the other queens in
the eyes of the people; and thus her dignity was sanctified by David’s
embraces. But Adonijah had a purpose in seeking this marriage after
David’s decease, for he hoped in this way to obtain the kingship by
deceitful intrigue; inasmuch as all the people would say, if he married
Abishag, that he was most worthy to sit on David’s throne who was most
worthy to mount his bed and lie in the arms which David had hallowed
with his very self. He also presumed, as seemed reasonable, that the
brothers and all the kinsmen of Abishag would rather have him as king,
if she were his, than a man who was not bound to them in this way. Queen
Bathsheba undertook Adonijah’s errand and afterwards went to seek an
interview with her son King Solomon. As soon as she had entered the
royal hall, the king rose to meet his mother and led her to a seat at
his side. Then the queen revealed her errand, speaking thus: “I have a
little favor to ask of you, but I will not reveal the request before you
promise to grant it.” The king replied: “You are my mother, and I cannot
refuse what you wish to ask; and I surely intend that you shall have
what you have come to ask for. But it surely behooves you to keep in
mind that you should ask only for what I may freely grant.” Then said
Bathsheba the queen to the king: “I have come to ask you to give your
brother Adonijah Abishag to wife.”

Then King Solomon replied in great wrath: “What is at the bottom of this
request that Abishag be given to Adonijah? If you prefer that he should
have the kingship rather than I, then ask the kingdom for him; for you
know that my brother Adonijah is older than I and once assumed the royal
title, being chosen by the chief lords before my father had appointed me
to be ruler in obedience to the will of God. Joab the most powerful of
the lords and captains and Abiathar the bishop have evidently continued
plotting with him even to this day. Abishag is of the noblest kinship in
the city and the whole realm; furthermore, she is honored by all as the
first queen because of the care that she gave my father in his old age.
If she is given to Adonijah to be his wife, the people will regard him
as most worthy to sit in David’s seat, since he is thought worthy to lie
in the bed and in the arms in which David himself lay. Now when Adonijah
had committed treason against his father, I offered to share the
responsibility for his sin before God because of our kinship. But now he
has repeated and trebled the treason against me, his brother, which he
first committed against his father. Therefore I swear by the God Who has
placed me on David’s throne that Adonijah shall suffer for his guilt, as
shall every one of the others who are with him in this traitorous
project.” Then King Solomon said to Benaiah the captain: “Go and slay my
brother Adonijah, for I would rather have him suffer a swift penalty
here, such as the rules of the holy law provide for treason against
one’s lord, than to have him carry a traitor’s guilt to hell. Slay also
Joab my kinsman, for twice he committed vile offences against King
David, when he slew Abner and Amasa, two renowned captains, though they
were in David’s peace and protection. But his third and greatest crime
is this, that he was traitor to David when he gave Adonijah the royal
title; surely he will be lost forever in the world to come, unless he
shall do penance in this world by suffering a lawful punishment.”[341]

Footnote 341:

  Cf. _I Kings_, ii, 13 ff.

In this case King Solomon gives clear proof that it is quite permissible
to break vows and promises, if what has been asked or granted is
contrary to what is right. He granted what his mother Bathsheba the
queen had come to request before he knew what it was; but as soon as he
was aware that the prayer was a perilous one, he slew the man who had
originally made the request. Benaiah did as King Solomon commanded and
slew Adonijah. But just as Joab the captain and Abiathar the bishop had
shared in the plans to give Adonijah the royal title, they also had a
share in his plan to ask for Abishag to wife; and when they heard of
Adonijah’s death, they foresaw their own destruction. Benaiah seized
Abiathar the bishop and led him before King Solomon; but Joab fled to
God’s tabernacle and laid his hand upon the sacred horn of the altar, as
if taking vows of chastity and service in God’s holy tabernacle. Benaiah
came to God’s sanctuary and said: “Come forth, Joab, the king commands
you to come forth out of God’s tabernacle.” But Joab replied: “I have
come hither into God’s protection, and I will suffer death here, if I
cannot remain in security.” Then Benaiah reported his answer to the king
through his messenger; and when the messenger came before the king
bringing the bishop Abiathar and related all these things, King Solomon
said to him: “Give my command to Benaiah to slay Joab wherever he be
found, for his deeds and the decrees of the sacred law slay him and not
we.” Benaiah did as King Solomon commanded and slew Joab where he then

Footnote 342:

  Cf. _I Kings_, ii, 28-34.

But the king spoke in this wise to the bishop Abiathar: “You know that
you have deserved death according to the rules of the holy law; but
whereas you lost your father and all your kinsmen in Nob in a single
day, because your father had given my father David food, and whereas you
also bore the ark of God before my father when he fled before the face
of my brother Absalom, therefore it is right that for once you should
profit from this and not suffer a sudden death. And for this once you
shall purchase your life on the following terms, which you must keep as
a constant reminder that you owe penance for the treason which you
committed against David: go now to your own fields and abide there as a
husbandman and enjoy all your possessions, on the condition, however,
that you remain a tiller of the soil. But if you ever stretch forth your
hand to perform any priestly service or office, the righteous penalty of
the sacred law shall surely come upon your head.”[343] Abiathar went
home and did as the king commanded and lived many days; but Shimei died
three years later, because he failed to keep what had been commanded, as
we have already told.

Footnote 343:

  Cf. _I Kings_, ii, 26-27.



                          AND SECURITY TO JOAB

_Son._ There are still a few points which, it seems to me, I have not
examined sufficiently. How did it occur to Solomon to break peace with
Joab, seeing that he had fled into God’s protection and into the house,
the only one in all the world, that was dedicated to God? Churches have
now been built in almost every part of the world, and it is considered
an evil deed to slay a man who has sought sanctuary. But I have thought
that the honor of God’s holy house would be the more zealously guarded
the fewer such houses were. Another matter which I wish to ask about is
this: how did it occur to Solomon to promise what his mother might
request and then to break his promise? I should have thought that a wise
man like Solomon would have ascertained what the request was likely to
be before he gave his promise, and thus avoid recalling his promise, if
the request were not to his liking.

_Father._ I stated in an earlier speech that he who makes a request
should be discreet and ask such things only as are proper and may be
freely granted; and all those favors that are wisely asked and granted
in like manner ought to remain valid and undisturbed. But Solomon set a
good and profitable example in this case, when he wisely withdrew the
gift that his mother had indiscreetly requested, though he had already
granted it. The following example which is evil and belongs to a much
later date was set by Herod: once when he was feasting in Galilee he
promised to give his step-daughter whatever she might ask; and on her
mother’s advice she demanded the head of John the Baptist.[344] Herod
knew that John was an innocent and holy man and deeply regretted that he
had made this promise. But his repentance bore no fruit, inasmuch as he
was not careful to withdraw the gift wisely which she had requested
foolishly; nay more, he did the evil deed that she had suggested.
Consequently all were destroyed, the women because of their request and
Herod because of his gift. King Solomon, however, thought it better to
face his mother’s wrathful temper for refusing wisely what he had
promised hastily, than to suffer the injury that follows the great crime
of allowing foolish and sinful petitions. On the other hand, you should
understand clearly that it is never proper for a man to be fickle in
promises, and the greater the man, the less fitting it is. But no man is
allowed to grant anything that may give rise to crime and sin, even
though he has already promised to do so.

Footnote 344:

  Cf. _Matthew_ xiv, 1-12; _Mark_, vi, 16-29.




_Son._ Now I wish to ask you to tell me somewhat more clearly how far
one should keep what he has pledged and how far he may refuse to carry
out what he has promised.

_Father._ When a lord is asked to grant a favor and the meaning of the
request is made clear to him, he ought to ponder carefully what it is
that he is asked to do and whether it will bring him injury or honor. If
he sees that he can grant it without damage to himself, he ought next to
consider the person to whom he is to give what has been asked, and how
much may be given in each case, lest he should have an experience like
that of Herod, which has already been related. For Herod did not
consider fully the merits of the one who made the request, or the
occasion, or how much he ought to give. There was this difficulty, too,
in Herod’s case, that he was drunk when he made the promise; he had made
a great banquet for all his lords, and he failed to consider the
occasion; for it was not proper for him to make gifts while drunk, since
one who is drunk will rarely be moderate in making gifts. He also failed
to observe moderation in this, that he gave such an unusual gift to his
step-daughter, a woman who was not of his kin, for he spoke in these
terms: “Whatsoever you ask I will give you, though you ask half of my
kingdom.” You will observe from this that he was half-mad from drink
when he spoke, for his step-daughter had honored him merely by beating
the drum before him, and her music was entitled to a much smaller reward
than the one promised. Nor was it fitting for him to leave the form of
the request as well as of the gift to the tongues of others, as he did
when he spoke as follows: “Whatsoever you ask you shall have, though you
ask half of my kingdom.” But if he had spoken in this wise: “Whatever
you ask with discretion and in moderation you shall receive, if I can
give it,” then he would have spoken wisely and well, and it would have
remained with him whether to grant or to refuse.

It now remains to point out what sort of gifts a ruler may properly
give, when he is asked to do so. Any request may be granted which will
bring honor and help to him who asks and will bring no damage to the
lord who gives or to any one else. Thus if a lord is asked to give
assistance or money, he may well give it, unless his honor should be
discredited by the gift; and he may properly give both the labor and the
money so long as he gives them to such as are worthy of great honors.
But when one is asked to grant a request that would debase or dishonor
him, he must refuse it; and even though he should make a promise
thoughtlessly, it is to be wisely withdrawn. And if a man bestows a
generous gift on one who shows little appreciation of it and is in no
wise worthy to have a long and continued possession of an important
gift, inasmuch as he does not show proper appreciation, this gift, too,
should be withdrawn; for in this case the man’s own thoughtlessness and
lack of discernment take the gift from him and not the fickleness of him
who gave. And if one who desired a gift has obtained it through
falsehood and deceitful pretence, that gift is also to be withdrawn,
even though it has been granted; and in this case the man’s own fraud
and deceit take the gift from him and not the fickleness of him who
promised and gave it. But a prince who means to be cautious in making
gifts must consider carefully what is requested, and what sort of man
has made the request. And since all do not deserve equally great gifts,
one must consider how great a gift each one deserves and on what
occasion a gift may be given. Then it shall be said but very seldom that
he who gave has withdrawn his gift or that he has been found to be




_Son._ Now I wish to ask what good reasons there are which would justify
King Solomon’s act in causing Joab to be slain in God’s holy tabernacle
while he was clinging to God’s sacred altar. Why did he not order him to
be brought away first and slain afterwards?

_Father._ The matter about which you have now inquired cannot be made
clear without a lengthy explanation, which will seem more like a comment
than a proper continuation of the conversation in which we are now
engaged. When Solomon concluded that it was better to slay Joab where he
then was than to bring him away, he was not without good grounds for his
decision; for he did not wish to fall into such a sin as King Saul fell
into when he brought sacrifices to God’s holy altar. Now Solomon did not
wish to make this a pretext that he intended to bring gifts or
sacrifices to God’s holy altar, as if he were carrying out episcopal
functions; nor did he wish to take away by force or violence anything
that had come so near God’s holy altar as Joab then was, inasmuch as he
was clinging to the sacred altar. But Solomon pondered the whole matter
in his own mind: “It is my duty to carry out the provisions of the
sacred law, no matter where the man happens to be whose case is to be
determined; but it is not my duty to remove a man by force or violence
who has fled to the holy place; for all just decisions are in truth
God’s decisions and not mine. And I know of a surety that God’s holy
altar will not be defiled or desecrated by Joab’s blood, for it will be
shed in righteous punishment and as a penance for him, but not in hatred
as in the case of an unjust verdict.” In this decision King Solomon
illustrated the division of duties that God made between Moses and
Aaron; and he did not wish to disturb this arrangement, lest he should
fall into disfavor with God. For God had marked out their duties in such
a way that Moses was to watch over the rules of the holy law, while
Aaron was to care for the sacrifices that might come to the sacred
altar.[345] And you shall know of a truth that this arrangement ought by
right to stand even at this day; and you may be able to see this more
clearly, if I add a few words in explanation. For the reason is this,
that God has established two houses upon earth, each chosen for a
definite service. The one is the church; in fact we may give this name
to both, if we like, for the word church means the same as judgment
hall, because there the people meet and assemble. These two houses are
the halls of God, and He has appointed two men to keep watch over them.
In one of these halls He has placed His table, and this is called the
house of bread; for there God’s people gather to receive spiritual food.
But in the other hall He has placed His holy judgment seat; and there
the people assemble to hear the interpretation of God’s holy verdicts.
And God has appointed two keepers to guard these houses: the one is the
king, the other the bishop.

Footnote 345:

  See _Exodus_, xxviii.

Now the king is appointed to keep watch over the sacred house in which
the holy seat is placed and to keep the holy verdicts of God. In
temporal matters he is to judge between men and in such a way that the
reward of eternal salvation may be given to him and to all others who
after his day uphold the decisions that have been justly rendered. Into
his hands God has also committed the sword of punishment with which to
strike when the need arises, just as King Solomon did when he laid Joab
under the sword of chastisement, with many others whom he subjected to
righteous penalties, as we have already told. The king, then, must
always strike, not in hatred but for righteous punishment. But if he
slay any one out of hatred, it is murder, and he will have to answer for
it as murder before God. You shall also know of a truth that no one is
allowed to pluck away any of those things that God from the beginning
has assigned to His hall and high-seat; for that would be to rob God
Himself and His holy judgment seat and to disturb arrogantly the
arrangement which God has made. And every one who is assigned to this
seat should ponder in deep thought what plea he shall have to present
when he comes before his own Judge; for every man who comes in his turn
before the Highest Judge, having been steward in His hall, may
confidently expect Him to employ some mode of address like the
following: “Thou bearest Mine own name, for thou art both king and judge
as I am; therefore I demand that thou render account for thy
stewardship, inasmuch as thou art the appointed judge and leader of My
people.” Wherefore each one will need to prepare after long reflection
and with great care what he is to reply when he comes before the Judge.
If the archangel, in whom there is no sign of weakness, gives his answer
with fear and trembling, when he is called upon to render account for
his services to our Lord and King, one can imagine what fear and
trembling will come upon a frail and sinful man, when he is asked to
render account for his stewardship in the presence of God. But he who
has had this hall in his keeping will first of all be asked how he has
dealt out justice among men; and if he is unable to give a satisfactory
account, he may expect to hear this sentence: “Thou wicked thrall, since
thou hast not observed justice in thy verdicts, thou shalt fare thither
where all verdicts are evil; for thine own mouth has assigned thee to
this place, inasmuch as it was not ashamed to deliver dishonest
judgments.” But if he can defend the justice of his decisions with good
reasons, he shall find joy in his stewardship and hear these words:
“Inasmuch as thou hast always observed equity as a judge, it is fitting
that thou shouldst enjoy a righteous verdict on every count.” He will
then be asked further on what some of his actions were based; and after
that he will have to show how discreetly and carefully he has kept all
those things which God in the beginning committed to this judgment seat.
But if he has not kept all those things which God in the beginning
assigned to the holy seat of judgment, he will be brought face to face
with those who have done their duty well, such as Melchisedek or Moses
or David or others who have observed these things as faithfully as those
named. Then he will hear these words spoken: “If thou hadst been as
thoughtful and solicitous as these were in maintaining the honors which
I joined in the beginning to My holy judgment seat, thou wouldst have
received the same rewards as these enjoy. But now thou shalt be deprived
of an honor here as great as the honor which thou didst take without
right from My judgment seat; and to that degree shalt thou be regarded
less in worth and merit than those who have kept these honors unimpaired
which I entrusted to them. When thou wert given charge of My judgment
seat, it was not intended that thou shouldst have power to dispose of
services, honors, and holy dignities in a manner different from the one
that I established in the beginning. For this office was not given thee
as an everlasting inheritance, but it was committed to thee for a time
only, that thou mightest obtain an eternal reward, if thou didst guard
it faithfully. Thou wert given power to distribute worldly riches, gold
and silver, though with discretion, but not to dispose of the honors and
glories of My holy judgment seat.”

But if it is found that he has been discreet in his charge, he shall
have cause to rejoice in his stewardship; he will, however, be examined
in various lines. He will be asked how he has used the rod of punishment
which was given into his hands; and it is very important that justice
shall have been strictly observed in penalties, lest it go so ill with
him as with King Saul, who failed to inflict a just penalty which God
had commanded him to execute on the people who dwelt in Amalek, but slew
unjustly the bishop Ahimelech and all the priests in Nob. But if it
should go so ill with him who is thus called to account for penalties
inflicted, that he is found to have stumbled in matters like those just
mentioned and in which King Saul fell, he will soon hear these words:
“Lead him yonder where King Saul and Herod and Nero and others like them
abide, and let him dwell there with them, seeing that he wished to be
like them in cruelty.” Still, if in some cases he has been merciful in
sentence and punishment and if there is good reason why he should escape
the reproaches that we have just mentioned, those facts will not be
forgotten. For then he shall find happiness in all his stewardship and
very soon shall hear this greeting: “Thou art welcome, thou faithful
servant and good friend, for thou hast loyally kept a slight temporal
dignity; now thou shalt come into joyful possession of a great honor,
constant and everlasting, wholly free from sorrow and danger.” Happy is
he who is permitted to hear these words; but wretched is he who shall
hear those words of wrath which we quoted earlier. But no one needs to
doubt that everyone who shall be called to account for his office and
stewardship will be addressed in one of these two ways.



                         END OF THE SECOND PART

_Son._ I see clearly that one who is to watch over the rules of the
sacred law and deal out justice in all cases is surely assigned a very
difficult task. It is also evident that King Solomon could not be called
to account for having Joab slain in God’s tabernacle, inasmuch as he
slew him for a just punishment, not out of enmity or in hatred, as Cain
slew his brother Abel. God’s tabernacle was not defiled by Joab’s blood,
seeing that it was not shed in hatred; but the earth was defiled by
Abel’s blood, because it was shed in hatred. And I understand fully that
the sin and the desecration are caused by the hatred and not by the
punishment. But now you have spoken of two halls which God has dedicated
to His service upon earth, and there are certain things that concern
these about which I wish to inquire. You have stated that in one of them
God has placed His judgment seat; you have discussed that and also the
office of him who is in charge of it. You have also said that in the
other hall is God’s table, from which all God’s people shall take
spiritual food; and you added that the bishop has been appointed keeper
of this hall. Now I wish to ask you why King Solomon removed Abiathar
the bishop from the office that had been assigned to him, namely that of
keeper of the hall to which I have just referred, and removed him so
completely that he was never afterwards allowed to put forth his hand to
the episcopal office, but was to live from that time on as a churl or a
plowboy. But I have thought that neither of these two keepers can have
authority to remove the other from the office which has been committed
to him. Therefore I should like to have you point out a few
considerations which will make clear how King Solomon could remove the
bishop Abiathar from his office without incurring reproof from God.

_Father._ I called your attention to these facts to remind you that both
these halls are God’s houses and both king and bishop the servants of
God and keepers of these houses; but they do not own them in the sense
that they can take anything away from them that was assigned to them in
the beginning. Therefore the king must not pluck anything away from the
house which the bishop has in his keeping, for neither should rob the
other. And there should be no plundering of one by the other, but each
ought to support the other for the same One owns both houses, namely
God. I have also told you that God has given the rod of punishment into
the hands of both the king and the bishop. The rod of punishment that
has been committed to the king is a two-edged sword: with this sword it
is his duty to smite to the death everyone who tries to take anything
away from the sacred hall of which he is the guardian. But the king’s
sword is two-edged for the reason that it is also his duty to guard the
house which is in the bishop’s keeping, if the bishop is unable to
defend it with his own rod of punishment. The bishop shall have his rod
of punishment in his mouth, and he shall smite with words but not with
hands like the king. And the bishop shall strike his blow in the
following manner: if any one attempt to dishonor the sacred hall that is
in his care, he shall refuse him the table which is placed in this holy
house and the holy sustenance which is taken from this table. But when
King Solomon deprived Abiathar the bishop of the episcopal office and
dignity, he said that Abiathar’s own guilt deprived him and not he.
Since he had decreed that David should forfeit his throne before God had
ordered it, and had chosen another king to replace David, while he was
still living, it was right to deprive him of the episcopal office,
seeing that he wanted to rob David of the royal office. Saul’s guilt, on
the other hand, when he had slain the bishop Ahimelech and all the
priests in the city of Nob, was a grievous burden, because he had done
this without just cause. But even if King Solomon should have killed the
bishop Abiathar, he would have been without guilt; for the bishop had
deprived the house of God of the lord whom God Himself had appointed
keeper of the holy judgment seat. The bishop Abiathar had no right
either to appoint or to remove any one, as was later made evident; for
David chose the one whom he wished to be king in his stead, and the
choice which Abiathar had made was of no effect. Abiathar the bishop
obtained the episcopal office through the will of David who appointed
him to it. Now you are to understand that there is this difference
between the business of a king and the duties of a bishop: the bishop is
appointed to be the king’s teacher, counsellor, and guide, while the
king is appointed to be a judge and a man of severity in matters of
punishment, to the great terror of all who are subject to him.
Nevertheless, the bishop wields a rod of punishment as well as the king.
There is this difference, however, between the king’s sword and that of
the bishop, that the king’s sword always bites when one strikes with it,
and bites to great injury when it is used without right, while it serves
him well whom it may strike when it is rightfully used. But the bishop’s
sword bites only when it is used rightfully; when it is wrongfully used,
it injures him who smites with it, not him who is stricken. When the
bishop strikes rightfully, however, his sword wounds even more deeply
than the king’s. But this subject we shall discuss more fully at some
other time, if it is thought advisable.





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 Aaron, high priest in Israel, 280, 284, 358.

 Abbot, 294, 325.

 Abel, 330, 363.

 Abiathar, Hebrew priest, 46, 47, 333, 344, 347, 351–353, 363–365.

 Abiram, Hebrew rebel, 279, 283.

 Abishag, David’s wife, 344, 348–351.

 Abishai, David’s companion, 335.

 Abner, Hebrew captain, 346, 351.

 Absalom, David’s son, 325, 338, 346, 347.

 _Acrifolium_ (_aquifolium_), 107.

 Adam, 252–257, 261, 266–273.

 Adam von Bremen, 19 note.

 “Address to the Norwegian People,” King Sverre’s, 39–46, 49, 58, 59.

 Adonijah, David’s son, 46, 64, 341, 344, 345, 347–351.

 Agag, king of Amalek, 326.

 Ahasuerus, Persian king, 237–240, 244.

 Ahimelech, Hebrew priest, 331–333, 362, 365.

 Albertus Magnus, medieval schoolman, 2.

 Ale-springs, 134.

 Alexander Neckam, medieval scientist, 12, 18.

 Alfonso the Wise, Spanish king, 31.

 Amalek, Amalekites, 52, 279, 283, 319, 325, 326, 362.

 Amasa, Hebrew captain, 346, 351.

 Amorites, 319, 326.

 Andenes, headland in Lofoten, 98.

 Angels, 261–263, 309, 338, 360.

 Ant, Habits of the, 92.

 Apples, St. Kevin’s, 113;
   of knowledge, 252, 253, 255, 264–266.

 Apulia, Southern Italy, 96, 97.

 Arctic, Marvels of the, 21, 105, 119–126, 135–141.

 Armor, 217–220.

 Arnamagnean collection, 65, 68.

 Artaxerxes, Persian king, 237.

 Arthurian legends, 2, 3.

 Asp, serpent in Paradise, 264.

 Athens, 309, 310, 312.

 Augustine, Saint, 40.

 _Aura_, 172.

 Bacon, Roger, medieval scientist, 2.

 Balances of justice, The, 306, 307.

 Baleen whale, 120.

 Basking sharks, 122 note.

 Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, 323–325, 344, 348–351;
   _see_ Uriah.

 Beaked whale, 120, 123.

 Beams used in warfare, 216, 224, 225.

 Beard, how trimmed and worn at court, 182.

 Bearded seal, 140.

 Bears in Greenland, 143.

 Beasts, Instincts of, 91, 92, 111, 112.

 Bede, medieval writer, 5, 16 note, 18, 20, 147 note, 257 note.

 Beluga, a sort of whale, 120 note.

 Benaiah, Hebrew captain, 344, 345, 351, 352.

 Bengjerd (Berengaria), Danish queen, 31.

 Bergen, 26, 46.

 Bernard, Saint, 257 note.

 Bethany, Hebrew town, 289.

 Bethlehem, Hebrew town, 329.

 Birchshanks, anti-clerical faction in Norway, 37, 52, 61, 63, 64.

 Birds, Joy of, at coming of spring, 90, 91.

 Birger, Swedish earl, 4, 30.

 Birka, old Swedish town, 82 note.

 Bishops, Political claims of, 36–38, 55;
   hostile to the monarchy, 40, 47, 54;
   subordinate to the king, 174, 175, 352, 353, 364–366;
   authority of, 358, 359, 363–366;
   mention of, 117, 178, 241, 280, 281, 291, 294, 325, 326, 331, 344,

 Bjarkey code, a municipal law, 81.

 Bjarkudal bog, Norwegian marvel, 104.

 Blandina (Slieve Bloom mountains in Iceland), 107.

 Blom, Otto, Captain in Danish artillery, 32, 62, 63.

 Blood fine, 61.

 Blubber-cutters, 119.

 “Bluemen” (negroes), 30.

 Börnhoved, Battle of, 3.

 Brattices, 222.

 Breastplate, 219.

 Breeches for mounted warriors, 219.

 Breeding, Good, 227–229.

 Brendan, Irish saint, 125 note.

 Brenner, Otto, editor of _Speculum Regale_, 69.

 “Briar,” weapon for defense, 223.

 British Isles, 29.

 Broadax, 215.

 Caaing whale, 119.

 Caesar, Christ’s submission to, 43, 248, 249.

 Cain, 330, 363.

 Caltrop, device used in warfare, 215.

 Cap, hat, or coif, When not to wear a, 182, 184, 227.

 Capella, Martianus, encyclopedist, 5, 147 note.

 Cassiodorus, encyclopedist, 5.

 Castles, Weapons for attacking or defending, 220–226.

 Cat, siege engine, 221, 222.

 _Chansons de geste_, 2.

 Cherubim, 270.

 Chess, 83, 228.

 Christiania, 68.

 Christiania edition of the _King’s Mirror_, 62, 68, 69, 71.

 Christina, Norwegian princess, 31.

 Christopher, Danish king, 30.

 Church, The, relation of, to the monarchy, 35–38, 55, 357–366;
   ambitions of, 36, 37;
   opposed by King Sverre, 40.

 Claussön, Peder, Norwegian writer, 65.

 Climate of Iceland and Greenland, 15, 96, 143, 148, 149, 153;
   of Ireland, 23, 24, 105, 106;
   affected by changes in the sun’s course, 96–99.

 Cloena (Clonmacnois), Irish borough, 116, 117.

 Clothes, 181, 182, 219, 227, 254, 271.

 Coal, Use of, in warfare, 215.

 Cologne, 28.

 Conduct, Rules of, 80–83, 85, 182–189, 205–211, 227, 228.

 Constantine, 240–244.

 Conversation, Rules governing, 186–191, 209, 210, 227.

 Copenhagen, 66, 67, 68.

 “Corse seal,” 139.

 Cosmas, Egyptian monk and writer, 18 note.

 Court, The royal, customs of, 73, 173, 176–179, 183, 208–211;
   promotion at, 169;
   fashions at, 181–186;
   speech and conversation at, 186, 187;
   habits suitable to life at, 208–210.

 Courtesy, Rules of, 11, 227, 228;
   _see_ Court.

 Crafts and professions, 73, 78.

 Craton, Roman philosopher, 242–245.

 Crossbow, 215, 220.

 Croziermen, clerical faction in Norway, 37, 38, 54, 56.

 Crusades, Importance of, for the spread of culture, 27, 32, 33.

 Culture in the medieval North, 26–31.

 Curtain, a type of fortification, 222.

 Cyrus, 237.

 Daae, Ludvig, Norwegian historian, 44, 57, 62.

 Dagmar (Dragomir), Danish queen, 31.

 Dante, 49.

 Dart, 215.

 Dathan, Hebrew rebel, 279, 283.

 David, king of Israel, 42, 46, 52, 249, 275, 276, 278, 281, 284, 290,
    291, 317, 320–342, 344–352, 361, 365.

 Dearth and failure of crops and morals, 33, 193–204.

 Death penalty, 318–321.

 _Defensor Pacis_, 49.

 _De Monarchia_, 49.

 Denmark, 3, 30, 38, 67.

 _Dialogs_ of Gregory the Great, 127, 130.

 Dice, Warning against, 83, 228.

 Diermicius, Irish saint, 111.

 Dirk, 219.

 _Disciplina Clericalis_, 9, 10, 26.

 Disobedience, Sin of, 52, 53, 325, 326.

 Divine right of kings, 41–45, 49, 59, 246–250, 357, 358, 360, 364–366.

 Dooms, _see_ Judgments and Penalties.

 Dorph, Chr., translator of the _King’s Mirror_, 70 note.

 Dragons, 103.

 Drunkenness, Warning against, 83, 207, 210.

 Earth, Shape and constitution of the, 12–15, 97, 128, 148, 300.

 Earthquakes, 17, 18, 20, 21, 126, 129.

 Egypt, 235, 236, 240, 243, 279, 286.

 Einersen, Halfdan, editor of the _King’s Mirror_, 66, 67.

 Elgesæter, Monastery of, 48, 52, 64.

 Elks, 29.

 Ell, 119 note.

 _Elucidarium_, 10, 75 note, 131 note.

 Embassies, 29–31, 172, 177, 178.

 Emmanuel, _see_ Manuel.

 Encyclopedists, 5, 6.

 England, 2, 29, 58.

 Erichsen, Jon, Icelandic scholar, 61, 67, 70.

 Erik, Swedish duke, 65 note.

 “Erken-seal,” 139.

 Erling Skakke, Norwegian magnate, 36.

 Esquimaux, 79 note.

 Esther, queen of Persia, 238, 239, 244.

 Ethical ideas of the _King’s Mirror_, 11, 77, 78, 80–83, 85, 205–207,
    213, 214, 228–234.

 Etna, Mount, 17.

 Eve, the first woman, 252–255, 264–271.

 Excommunication, 38, 40, 365, 366.

 Eystein, Norwegian archbishop, 36, 38, 46.

 Falcons, 31, 144.

 Faroes, 4, 37.

 Finns, 79 note, 173 note.

 Finsen, Hans, Icelandic bishop, 61, 66, 67.

 Fire, Source of, 129.

 “Fish driver,” a sort of whale, 120, 121.

 Fishes, Instincts of, 90.

 Flemish towns, 2.

 “Flett seal,” 139.

 Flom, G. T., editor of the _King’s Mirror_, 25 note, 69, 70.

 France (and French), 26, 28, 39, 54, 81.

 Frederick II, emperor, 30, 44.

 Galilee, 354.

 Gambison, defensive covering, 212, 217–219.

 Gardar, diocese in Greenland, 145 note.

 Garth, King’s, 167.

 Geelmuyden, Hans, Norwegian astronomer, 59.

 “Gelts,” 116.

 Geography of the _King’s Mirror_, 11–17, 20.

 Germany, 27, 28, 33, 182.

 Gests, a higher class in the king’s guard, 170, 171.

 Geysers, 21, 128, 130, 131.

 Giraldus Cambrensis, medieval writer, 22–24, 104 note, 106–110 notes.

 Gjerset, Knut, historian, 168 note.

 Glaciers, 21, 130, 131, 151.

 Glass, molten, for defensive warfare, 224.

 Glosses, 272–278.

 Glumelaga (Glendalough), Irish abbey, 112.

 Goliath, 329.

 Göta River, 30.

 Grampus, 119, 120.

 Greenland, Geography and climate of, 4, 15, 16, 138, 139, 141–150, 152,
    153, 155;
   northern lights in, 18, 146, 149–152;
   whales in the waters of, 18, 139, 140, 145;
   marvels of, 21, 101, 105, 135–141;
   products and resources of, 142–145, 149.

 Greenland sharks, 122.

 Greenland whale, 123, 124.

 Gregory the Great, 17, 40, 127, 130.

 Gregory VII, 36.

 Grosseteste, English bishop, 257 note.

 Guardsmen, King’s, 6, 26, 176;
   _see_ Kingsmen, Hirdmen, and Housecarles.

 Hair, how trimmed and worn at court, 182.

 Hakon IV, Norwegian king, 4, 6, 22, 29–35, 48, 57, 58, 60, 64, 65.

 Hakon V, Norwegian king, 65 note.

 _Hakon’s Saga_, 30.

 Halberd, 215.

 Halogaland, district in northern Norway, 59, 98, 99.

 Haman, magnate at the Persian court, 238–240, 245.

 Hamburg, 36.

 Hand sling, 213, 221.

 Hansa, the German, 2, 27.

 Hares in Greenland, 143.

 Harold Gilchrist (Gille), 34, 37.

 Hauberk, 219.

 Hawks, 29, 297, 298;
   _see_ Falcons.

 Headward, 171.

 Heavenly bodies, Course of the, 11, 83, 86;
   _see_ Sun and Moon.

 Hebrides, 4.

 Hebron, 321.

 “Hedgehog,” defensive weapon, 222, 223.

 Heffermehl, A. V., Norwegian writer, 39 note, 57, 62.

 Helena, mother of Constantine, 241, 244.

 Hell, place of cold and heat, 131.

 Helmet, 219.

 Henry III, English king, 29, 58.

 Herod, Jewish king, 354–356, 362.

 Hertzberg, Ebbe, Norwegian historian, 36 note.

 Hezekiah, king of Juda, 288, 289.

 Hirdmen, Honored position of, 171, 174–176;
   duties of, 177;
   habits and diversions of, 207–213.

 _Historia Scholastica_, 6, 10.

 Hiterdale, place in Iceland, 134.

 “Hog whale,” 120, 123.

 Holar, town in Iceland, 66.

 Holly, holm, 107.

 Holstein, 27.

 Holy Spirit, Office and gifts of the, 275, 292, 294.

 Honorius of Autun, medieval theologian, 10, 75 note, 131 note, 147

 Horn bow, 220.

 Horse, Equipment of the, in war, 217, 218.

 “Horse whale,” 122, 123.

 Housecarle fine, 169, 171.

 Housecarles, King’s, 167, 170–175.

 Household, The king’s, organization and customs of, 11, 26, 29, 165,
    166, 178;
   how to gain admission to, 179–184.

 Houses, God’s two, on earth, 358–360, 363, 364.

 Hudson, Henry, 136 note.

 Hugh of St. Victor, medieval theologian, 257 note.

 Humpback, a sort of whale, 123.

 Hundred, The two reckonings of, 94.

 Hungary, 33.

 Husbandmen, 6, 73, 92, 291.

 Icebergs, ice floes, 101, 126, 138, 139.

 Iceland, Norwegian colony, 4;
   climate of, 15, 96, 126;
   marvels of, 21, 101, 126–134;
   volcanic fires in, 17, 126–131;
   geysers in, 128;
   mineral springs in, 134.

 Idols, Worship of, 189.

 Illinois, University of, 69.

 India, 11, 101, 102, 244.

 Inge, Norwegian king, 46, 58.

 Ingeborg, Swedish duchess, 65 note.

 Inhisgluer (Inishglory), island in Ireland, 108.

 Inisclodran, island in Ireland, 111.

 Innocent III, 38, 45.

 Interdict, 38.

 “Invisible Society,” The, 66.

 Ireland, Norwegian colony in, 4, 22;
   marvels of, 11, 23, 101, 106–118;
   climate and inhabitants of, 105, 106.

 _Irish Nennius_, 24.

 Iron ore found in Iceland, 134.

 Isaiah, Hebrew prophet, 288, 289.

 Ishbosheth, king of Israel, 320, 321.

 Isidore of Seville, encyclopedist, 5, 13, 15 note, 18, 147.

 Island, Floating, 107, 108;
   where bodies cannot decay, 108, 109;
   where none can die, 109;
   occupied by demons, 109, 110;
   where no female is allowed, 111, 112.

 Israel, Land and people of, 46, 238, 239, 279, 280, 286, 317.

 Italian cities, 2.

 Ivar Bodde, Norwegian priest, 57–59, 62.

 Javelins, 215.

 Jericho, 279, 283.

 Jerome, Saint, 40.

 Jerusalem, 96, 97, 166, 338.

 Jesse, father of King David, 329.

 Jesus Christ recognized kingship, 42, 43, 247–249;
   showed mercy to the woman taken in adultery, 281, 282;
   forgave Peter and the thief on the cross, 282;
   raised Lazarus, 289.

 Jesus, son of Sirach, Hebrew writer, 303.

 Joab, Hebrew captain, 47, 48, 64, 341, 344, 346, 350–353, 357–359, 363.

 Job, 132, 133.

 John, Norwegian archbishop, 46.

 John the Baptist, 354.

 John, English king, 29, 58.

 John of Paris, medieval writer, 49.

 Joint kingship, Theory and evils of, 33–35, 60, 63, 198–201, 203 note.

 Jonah, Hebrew prophet, 287.

 Jonathan, Saul’s son, 330.

 Joseph, 235, 236, 240, 243, 244.

 Joshua, Hebrew chieftain, 279.

 Judas, 279, 284, 285.

 Judgments of God to serve as examples, 251–258, 277–289;
   of a king at times to be lenient and at times severe, 251, 259, 278,
      279, 313–321;
   diverse character of, 283–285;
   reasons for modifying, 285–289;
   of a king to be carefully thought out, 304–313;
   king’s responsibility for, 363–366;
   of the bishops, 364–366.

 Justice, divine virgin, 252, 254, 256–259, 278, 279, 281, 283, 285,
    287, 324, 328.

 Justin, priest, 309–312.

 Kertinagh, island in Ireland, 109, 110.

 Kevinus, Irish saint, 112, 113.

 Keyser, Rudolf, Norwegian historian, 6 note, 68.

 King, The, authority and power of, 35, 40–45, 52, 75, 174, 175, 246,
    247, 298, 299;
   relation of, to the church, 35, 36, 46–48, 363–366;
   holds his title from God, 40–43, 49, 246–251, 290;
   judicial duties of, 114, 115, 251, 290, 304–308, 314, 358–360;
   customs to be observed in presence of, 179–192, 227, 228;
   cap and mantle not to be worn in presence of, 182, 184–186;
   rules of speech in presence of, 183, 186–191;
   if unwise or young may bring ruin upon the land, 197–203;
   diversions of, 208, 209, 297, 298;
   business of, during the day, 246, 250, 298;
   to give thought to the realm at night, 250;
   needs to be well informed, 251;
   prayer of, 290–296;
   should attend the services of the church, 290, 297;
   should meditate on the source of wisdom, 299.

 King’s Crag, Norwegian borough, 30.

 Kingship, Joint, _see_ Joint kingship.

 Kingship, Norwegian theory of, 33–35, 39–44.

 Kingsmen, 78, 79, 85, 164;
   advantages of being, 167–172, 175;
   classes of, 170–173, 176;
   how to become, 179–184.
   duties of, 207–213.

 _King’s Mirror_, The, plan and purpose of, 6–8, 72–76;
   author of, 8, 9, 54–60, 77, 79;
   relation of, to other works, 8–10, 19, 20, 22–26;
   scientific notions of, 11–21, 83, 87, 91–99, 126–132, 145, 146;
   date of composition of, 32, 35, 55, 60–64;
   political theories of, 39–48;
   ethical and theological ideas of, 49–52;
   modern characteristics of, 53, 54;
   place of composition of, 59, 60;
   manuscripts of, 65, 66, 68–70;
   editions and translations of, 66–71;
   mention of, 39, 44, 46–49, 52–54, 61, 68, 71, 74;
   _see Speculum Regale_.

 Kiranus, Irish saint, 117.

 Klefsan, Irish clown, 118.

 Knee pieces, 219.

 Knights, 178, 322.

 Knowledge, Tree of, 252, 253, 255, 264, 265.

 _Kongespegelen_, 70.

 Kraken, The, 22, 125.

 Ladders, Scaling, 221, 225.

 Lakes, Miracle working, 106–110.

 Landedmen, holders of fiefs in Norway, 172, 175.

 Langton, Stephen, English archbishop, 257 note.

 Languages, Study of, encouraged, 81.

 Latin language, Importance of the, 39, 54, 81.

 Law, Study of, 81.

 Lawrence, Saint, 309–313.

 Lazarus, 289.

 Lead, Molten, useful in defensive warfare, 224.

 Leap year, 94.

 Levites, 51.

 Liberal arts, The seven, 303.

 Licentiousness, to be avoided, 83, 206, 228.

 Lightning, Source of, 129.

 Lofoten, 59, 98 note.

 Logechag (Lough Neagh?), lake in Ireland, 106, 107.

 Logherne (Lough Erne or Lough Owel), lake in Ireland, 109, 110.

 Logri (Loch Cré or Loch Ree), lake in Ireland, 109, 111.

 Longbow, 215.

 Louis IX, French king, 31.

 Low Countries, 28.

 Loycha, lake in Ireland, 107, 108.

 Lucifer, 259, 262–268, 271.

 Lund, Swedish cathedral town, 36.

 Macrobius, 15, 147 note, 154 note.

 Magnus Bareleg, Norwegian king, 34.

 Magnus the Blind, Norwegian king, 34.

 Magnus Erlingsson, Norwegian king, 36, 37, 55.

 Magnus Lawmender, Norwegian king, 44, 61.

 Magnussen, Arne, antiquarian, 65.

 Mail hose, 219.

 Mainz, 28.

 Man, Isle of, 4, 22.

 Manners, Personal, 32, 164–166, 169, 173, 176–187, 192, 193, 227, 228;
   _see also_ Court, Household, and King.

 Mantle, When not to wear a, 181, 182, 184–186, 227.

 Manuel Comnenus, Byzantine emperor, 60, 101 note.

 Marble in Greenland, 144.

 Mark, measure of value, 168 note, 172.

 Marsiglio of Padua, medieval political theorist, 49.

 Martianus Capella, _see_ Capella.

 Marvels, _see_ Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, India, Ireland, and Norway.

 Mary, The Virgin, 85.

 Matthew, an envoy from the imperial court, 30.

 Matthew Paris, English monk and historian, 31.

 Melchisedek, 361.

 Merchants and the mercantile profession, 6, 11, 28, 73, 78, 79–86,
    92–94, 163, 164, 173.

 Mercy, divine virgin, 252, 254, 256–259, 279–281, 283, 285, 287, 324,

 _Meregarto_, German poem, 19 note.

 Mermaid, 22, 136, 137.

 Merman, 22, 135, 136.

 Meyer, Kuno, 25, 109 note, 116 note, 117 note.

 Military art and engines, 11, 32, 62, 63, 211–226.

 Mineral springs in Iceland, 21, 134, 135.

 Mines in warfare, 225.

 Minorities, 35, 60, 197, 203 note.

 “Mirrors of Princes,” 7 note.

 Missiles used in warfare, 224, 225.

 Monsters, 101, 105, 110, 115, 125, 135–137.

 Moon, The, and its influence on the ocean, 92–94, 300.

 Mordecai, Hebrew magnate at the Persian court, 238–240, 245.

 Möre, Norwegian shire, 104.

 Moses, 51, 52, 280, 281, 283, 285–287, 290, 317, 318, 358, 361.

 Munch, Peter Andreas, Norwegian historian, 68.

 Munster, 107 note.

 Namdalen, district in Norway, 9 note, 59, 60.

 Nansen, Fridtjof, 20, 21.

 Narwhal, 122, 123.

 Nathan, Hebrew prophet, 322, 324, 328, 344, 345, 347.

 _Natural History_ of the Elder Pliny, 18.

 Navigation, Rules and information relating to, 83–85, 90, 100, 156–162.

 Nero, 362.

 Nibelungs, Tales of the, 3.

 Nicholas Petersson, Norwegian bishop, 46.

 Nicholas Sæmundarson, Norwegian abbot, 28 note.

 Nidaros, 9 note, 36, 48;
   _see_ Trondhjem.

 Night and day, Changes of, 94, 98, 104.

 Nineveh, 287.

 Nob, city in Israel, 331, 332, 347, 352, 362, 365.

 Nordland, northern Norway, 98 note.

 Northern lights, 18, 19, 101, 146, 149–152.

 Norway, Colonies of, 4;
   literature of, in the middle ages, 4–6;
   marvels of, 18, 19, 21, 99–101, 103–105;
   trade of, 29;
   factional warfare in, 35, 52;
   mention of, 28, 59, 65, 68, 138 note.

 Occam, William, medieval schoolman, 49.

 Olaf, Norwegian saint and king, 36.

 Ordeal, Harold Gilchrist’s, 34.

 “Ore-marvel” in Iceland, 134.

 Orkneys, 4.

 _Ostenta_, _ostensa_, minutes of time, 16, 20, 95.

 Paradise, 252, 255, 261, 263.

 Parmenides of Ela, 15 note.

 Patrick, Saint, 110 note, 115.

 Paul, Norwegian bishop, 46.

 Paul, Saint, 275.

 Peace, divine virgin, 252, 254, 256–259, 279–281, 283, 285, 287.

 Peasants, yeomen, 73, 78, 172, 174;
   _see_ Husbandmen.

 Penalties, 318–322, 324, 325, 327, 328.

 Penance, Theory of, 51, 52, 318, 319, 321, 343, 346.

 Pens, Sören, Icelandic merchant, 66.

 Persia, 244 note.

 Peter, Saint, 42, 248, 249, 282, 284, 285.

 Peter, Skule’s son, 48.

 Petrifying waters, 104, 105, 107, 128.

 Petrus Alfonsus, 9, 26.

 Petrus Comestor, 6, 10.

 Pharaoh, 236, 244, 278, 283, 305.

 Philistines, 329.

 Pilgrims and pilgrimages, 3, 19, 27, 28.

 Pitch, Use of, in defensive warfare, 225.

 Pliny the Elder, 18.

 Plural and singular terms, Proper use of, 187–190.

 Polo, Marco, 2.

 Pope, 175, 241, 294.

 Porpoise, 119.

 Portugal, 31.

 “Praise of Divine Wisdom,” Alexander Neckam’s, 12.

 Prester John, 11, 101 note.

 Pretenders to the Norwegian throne, 34, 35, 48.

 Promises, _see_ Vows.

 Proper names, Irish, 25.

 “Prow-boar,” device used in naval warfare, 216.

 Psalter, 276.

 Ptolemaic theory of the universe, 12–14.

 Purgatory of Saint Patrick, 110 note.

 Rabanus, Maurus, medieval scholar and writer, 20, 95 note, 147 note.

 Ram, siege engine, 221, 222.

 “Raven whale,” 120.

 “Red comb,” a sort of whale, 122, 123.

 Reindeer in Greenland, 145.

 Rhine River, 27, 28.

 Riant, Count, 19.

 Right whale, 121, 123 note.

 Rome, 27, 28, 241.

 Rorqual, 124.

 “Running wheel,” device used in defending castles, 223.

 _Sachsenspiegel_, 8.

 Saddle for use in warfare, 218, 219.

 Saddleback, a sort of seal, 140.

 Saint Edmundsbury, 38.

 Salmon, 109.

 Samuel, Hebrew prophet, 326, 328, 329.

 Sanctuary, Right of, 48, 64, 348, 351–353, 357, 358, 363.

 Satan, 132, 133.

 Saul, king of Israel, 42, 52, 53, 279, 283, 317, 319–322, 325–337,
 339, 340, 344, 347, 357, 362.

 Saxon lands, 27, 28.

 Scarlet, 181.

 Scherer, W., 257 note.

 Schöning, Gerhard, Norwegian scholar, 66, 67.

 Scythes for use in warfare, 215.

 “Sea hedges,” sea quakes, 21, 101, 137, 138.

 Seals, 21, 139, 140, 142, 145.

 Self-control, The virtue of, 231–233.

 Serpent, The, in Paradise, 252, 253, 255, 261, 266–270, 272.

 Shabrack, covering for war horse, 218.

 Shetlands, 4.

 Shield-giant, military contrivance, 226.

 “Shield whale,” 120.

 Shimei, Biblical character, 341–343, 346, 353.

 Ships, Care of, 83–85;
   defense of, 215–217.

 “Short seal,” 140.

 “Shot wagon,” device for defending castles, 223, 224.

 Sicily, 17, 30, 127, 130.

 Siege warfare, 220–226.

 Sigurd Jerusalemfarer, Norwegian king, 28 note, 34.

 Sinai, Mount, 285.

 Skis, Running on, 103, 104.

 Skule, Norwegian earl and duke, 31, 35, 48, 52, 63, 64.

 Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, The, 70.

 Solinus, 19 note.

 Solomon, Hebrew king, 46, 47, 64, 303, 340–354, 357, 358, 363–365.

 “Song of the High One,” Eddic poem, 50.

 Sorö, Danish city, 66, 67.

 Sorö edition of the _King’s Mirror_, 61, 65–68, 70, 120 note.

 Spain, 31.

 “Spear whale,” 120.

 _Speculum Ecclesiae_, 7.

 _Speculum Majus_, 6.

 _Speculum Naturale_, 7.

 _Speculum Perfectionis_, 7.

 _Speculum Regale_, 6–9, 17, 19, 22, 25, 43, 45, 49, 50, 56, 59, 61, 66,
    68–70, 74, 101 note;
   _see King’s Mirror_.

 _Speculum Regis_, 8.

 _Speculum Regum_, 8.

 _Speculum Stultorum_, 7.

 Sperm, 124.

 Sperm whale, 121.

 Springs, Marvelous, 107.

 Staff slings, 213, 215, 221.

 Steenstrup, I. Japetus S., Danish scientist, 137 note.

 Stephen, Athenian judge, 309–313.

 Stockholm, 82 note.

 Storm, Gustav, Norwegian historian, 62.

 Strindsea, Battle of, 58.

 Suibhne Geilt, Irish legendary character, 116 note.

 Sulphur, Use of, in warfare, 215, 225.

 Sun, The, office of, 87, 300;
   effect of, on the winds, 87–89, 158–160;
   changes in the course of, 92–99, 104, 149, 155, 156;
   influence of, on climate, 96–99.

 Surcingle, 218.

 Sverre, Norwegian king, 34, 37–39, 47, 54–61.

 Sweden, 3, 4, 30, 65.

 Swords of kings and bishops, 364–366.

 Sylvester, pope and saint, 241.

 Table service and manners, 80, 210, 211, 227, 228.

 Tar, Use of, in warfare, 225

 Tara, 113 note;
   _see_ Themar.

 Tarquin, Roman citizen, 310, 311, 313, 314.

 Thegn, King’s, 61.

 Thegn money, 168, 171.

 Themar, Irish borough, 113–115, 308, 312, 314.

 Theodoric, 3.

 Theodosius II, Roman emperor, 316 note.

 Thieves, The two, at the crucifixion, 282, 285.

 Thomas Aquinas, medieval philosopher and theologian, 2.

 Tides, 12, 16, 17, 83, 86, 92–94.

 Time, Divisions of, 11, 16, 93–95.

 Tools for ship repairs, 84.

 _Topographia Hibernica_ of Giraldus Cambrensis, 22, 23.

 Torment, Places of, in Sicily and Iceland, 130, 131.

 Towers for siege warfare, 215, 216, 221, 225.

 Trebuckets, siege engines, 220, 222.

 Trondhjem, 26, 46, 59, 64, 66;
   _see_ Nidaros.

 Truth, divine virgin, 252, 254, 255, 257–259, 278, 279, 281, 283, 285,
    287, 324.

 Tunis, 31.

 Turnpikes for use in defensive warfare, 223.

 Ulster, 107 note.

 Unas, a Faroese, 37.

 Unger, Carl R., editor of the _King’s Mirror_, 68.

 Ur, Hebrew high priest, 280, 284.

 Uriah, Hebrew warrior, 53, 281, 322–325, 328.

 Utrecht, 28.

 Vaag, fishing village in Lofoten, 98.

 Valdemar the Victorious, Danish king, 3, 4, 31.

 Valladolid, 31.

 Vashti, Persian queen, 237, 238, 240, 243, 244.

 Venomous animals unable to live in Ireland, 106.

 Vincent of Beauvais, encyclopedist, 5.

 Volcanic fires, 17, 21, 126–129, 130, 131.

 Vows and promises, when to be kept and when broken, 353–357.

 _Vulgate_, 9.

 Wadmol, cloth for sail repair, 84.

 Walrus, 21, 140, 141.

 “War-beams,” 215.

 Warfare, Private, 50, 231.

 Weapons suitable for warfare on land, 213, 214, 217–226;
   on board ships, 214–217.

 Whalebone, 124.

 Whales, 18, 21, 119–124, 139, 140, 145.

 White bears, 143.

 White whale, 120.

 William, king’s chaplain, 29, 57.

 William of Sabina, cardinal, 31, 55.

 Willow, Miracle of the, 112, 113.

 Winds, Covenant of the, 87–89, 158–161;
   importance of, in navigation, 150, 160.

 Wisdom, Source and beginning of, 77, 78, 230, 299, 300;
   nature of, 229–234, 300, 302, 303;
   speech of, 300–303.

 Woden, 50.

 Wolves, Men turned into, 115;
   in Greenland, 143.

 Woman taken in adultery, 281, 282.

 Year, Divisions of the, 94.

 Zadoc, Hebrew priest, 344–347.

 Zenophilus, Roman prince, 242–245.

 Zion (Gihon), 345.

 Zones of heat and cold, 15, 16, 147, 148, 153–155, 162.


 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ 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.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.