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SAGA OF HARALD HARDRADE.
Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, was born in the year A.D. 1015, and
left Norway A.D. 1030. He was called Hardrade, that is, the
severe counsellor, the tyrant, though the Icelanders never
applied this epithet to him. Harald helped the Icelanders in the
famine of A.D. 1056, and sent them timber for a church at
Thingvol. It was the Norwegians who gave him the name tyrant in
contrast to the "debonairete" of Magnus. He came to Norway in
A.D. 1046, and became sole king in A.D. 1047. He died in A.D.
1066, and his son and successor Magnus died in A.D. 1069.
His saga is to be compared with "Agrip", "Fagrskinna", and
The skalds quoted are: Thiodolf, Bolverk, Illuge Bryndalaskald,
Stuf the skald, Thorarin Skeggjason, Valgard o' Val, Od
Kikinaskald, Grane Skald, Thorleik the Fair, Stein Herdison, Ulf
the Marshal, Arnor the earls' skald, Thorkel Skallason, and King
Harald Hardrade himself.
1. HARALD ESCAPES FROM THE BATTLE OF STIKLESTAD.
Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, brother of Olaf the Saint, by the same
mother, was at the battle of Stiklestad, and was fifteen years
old when King Olaf the Saint fell, as was before related. Harald
was wounded, and escaped with other fugitives. So says Thiodolf:
"At Haug the fire-sparks from his shield
Flew round the king's head on the field,
As blow for blow, for Olaf's sake,
His sword and shield would give and take.
Bulgaria's conqueror, I ween,
Had scarcely fifteen winters seen,
When from his murdered brother's side
His unhelmed head he had to hide."
Ragnvald Brusason led Harald from the battle, and the night after
the fray took him to a bonde who dwelt in a forest far from other
people. The peasant received Harald, and kept him concealed; and
Harald was waited upon until he was quite cured of his wounds.
Then the bonde's son attended him on the way east over the ridge
of the land, and they went by all the forest paths they could,
avoiding the common road. The bonde's son did not know who it
was he was attending; and as they were riding together between
two uninhabited forests, Harald made these verses:
"My wounds were bleeding as I rode;
And down below the bondes strode,
Killing the wounded with the sword,
The followers of their rightful lord.
From wood to wood I crept along,
Unnoticed by the bonde-throng;
`Who knows,' I thought, `a day may come
My name will yet be great at home.'"
He went eastward over the ridge through Jamtaland and
Helsingjaland, and came to Svithjod, where he found Ragnvald
Brusason, and many others of King Olaf's men who had fled from
the battle at Stiklestad, and they remained there till winter was
2. HARALD'S JOURNEY TO CONSTANTINOPLE.
The spring after (A.D. 1031) Harald and Ragnvald got ships, and
went east in summer to Russia to King Jarisleif, and were with
him all the following winter. So says the skald Bolverk: --
"The king's sharp sword lies clean and bright,
Prepared in foreign lands to fight:
Our ravens croak to have their fill,
The wolf howls from the distant hill.
Our brave king is to Russia gone, --
Braver than he on earth there's none;
His sharp sword will carve many feast
To wolf and raven in the East."
King Jarisleif gave Harald and Ragnvald a kind reception, and
made Harald and Ellif, the son of Earl Ragnvald, chiefs over the
land-defence men of the king. So says Thiodolf: --
"Where Ellif was, one heart and hand
The two chiefs had in their command;
In wedge or line their battle order
Was ranged by both without disorder.
The eastern Vindland men they drove
Into a corner; and they move
The Lesians, although ill at ease,
To take the laws their conquerors please."
Harald remained several years in Russia, and travelled far and
wide in the Eastern land. Then he began his expedition out to
Greece, and had a great suite of men with him; and on he went to
Constantinople. So says Bolverk: --
"Before the cold sea-curling blast
The cutter from the land flew past,
Her black yards swinging to and fro,
Her shield-hung gunwale dipping low.
The king saw glancing o'er the bow
Constantinople's metal glow
From tower and roof, and painted sails
Gliding past towns and wooded vales."
3. OF HARALD.
At that time the Greek empire was ruled by the Empress Zoe the
Great, and with her Michael Catalactus. Now when Harald came to
Constantinople he presented himself to the empress, and went into
her pay; and immediately, in autumn, went on board the galleys
manned with troops which went out to the Greek sea. Harald had
his own men along with him. Now Harald had been but a short time
in the army before all the Varings flocked to him, and they all
joined together when there was a battle. It thus came to pass
that Harald was made chief of the Varings. There was a chief
over all the troops who was called Gyrger, and who was a relation
of the empress. Gyrger and Harald went round among all the Greek
islands, and fought much against the corsairs.
4. OF HARALD AND GYRGER CASTING LOTS.
It happened once that Gyrger and the Varings were going through
the country, and they resolved to take their night quarters in a
wood; and as the Varings came first to the ground, they chose the
place which was best for pitching their tents upon, which was the
highest ground; for it is the nature of the land there to be soft
when rain falls, and therefore it is bad to choose a low
situation for your tents. Now when Gyrger, the chief of the
army, came up, and saw where the Varings had set up their tents,
he told them to remove, and pitch their tents elsewhere, saying
he would himself pitch his tents on their ground. Harald
replies, "If ye come first to the night quarter, ye take up your
ground, and we must go pitch our tents at some other place where
we best can. Now do ye so, in the same way, and find a place
where ye will. It is, I think, the privilege of us Varings here
in the dominions of the Greek emperor to be free, and independent
of all but their own commanders, and bound only to serve the
emperor and empress." They disputed long and hotly about this,
and both sides armed themselves, and were on the way to fight for
it; but men of understanding came between and separated them.
They said it would be better to come to an agreement about such
questions, so that in future no dispute could arise. It came
thus to an arbitration between them, at which the best and most
sagacious men should give their judgment in the case. At this
arbitration it was determined, with the consent of all parties,
that lots should be thrown into a box, and the Greeks and Varings
should draw which was first to ride, or to row, or to take place
in a harbour, or to choose tent ground; and each side should be
satisfied with what the drawing of the lots gave them.
Accordingly the lots were made and marked. Harald said to
Gyrger, "Let me see what mark thou hast put upon thy lot, that
we may not both mark our lots in the same way." He did so. Then
Harald marked his lot, and put it into the box along with the
other. The man who was to draw out the lots then took up one of
the lots between his fingers, held it up in the air, and said,
"This lot shall be the first to ride, and to row, and to take
place in harbour and on the tent field." Harald seized his band,
snatched the die, and threw it into the sea, and called out,
"That was our lot!" Gyrger said, "Why did you not let other
people see it?" Harald replies, "Look at the one remaining in
the box, -- there you see your own mark upon it." Accordingly
the lot which was left behind was examined, and all men saw that
Gyrger's mark was upon it, and accordingly the judgment was given
that the Varings had gained the first choice in all they had been
quarrelling about. There were many things they quarrelled about,
but the end always was that Harald got his own way.
5. HARALD'S EXPEDITION IN THE LAND OF THE SARACENS (SERKLAND).
They went out all on a campaign in summer. When the whole army
was thus assembled Harald kept his men out of the battle, or
wherever he saw the least danger, under pretext of saving his
men; but where he was alone with his own men only, he fought so
desperately that they must either come off victorious or die. It
thus happened often that when he commanded the army he gained
victories, while Gyrger could do nothing. The troops observed
this, and insisted they would be more successful if Harald alone
was chief of the whole army, and upbraided the general with never
effecting anything, neither himself, nor his people. Gyrger
again said that the Varings would give him no assistance, and
ordered Harald to go with his men somewhere else, and he, with
the rest of his army, would win what they could. Harald
accordingly left the army with the Varings and the Latin men, and
Gyrger on his side went off with the Greek troops. Then it was
seen what each could do. Harald always gained victories and
booty; but the Greeks went home to Constantinople with their
army, all except a few brave men, who, to gain booty and money,
joined themselves to Harald, and took him for their leader. He
then went with his troops westward to Africa, which the Varings
call Serkland, where he was strengthened with many men. In
Serkland he took eighty castles, some of which surrendered, and
others were stormed. He then went to Sicily. So says Thiodolf:
"The serpent's bed of glowing gold
He hates -- the generous king, the bold!
He who four score towers laid low,
Ta'en from the Saracenic foe.
Before upon Sicilian plains,
Shield joined to shield, the fight he gains,
The victory at Hild's war game;
And now the heathens dread his name."
So says also Illuge Bryndala-skald: --
"For Michael's empire Harald fought,
And southern lands to Michael brought;
So Budle's son his friendship showed
When he brought friends to his abode."
Here it is said that Michael was king of the Greeks at that time.
Harald remained many years in Africa, where he gathered great
wealth in gold, jewels, and all sorts of precious things; and all
the wealth he gathered there which he did not need for his
expenses, he sent with trusty men of his own north to Novgorod to
King Jarisleif's care and keeping. He gathered together there
extraordinary treasure, as is reasonable to suppose; for he had
the plundering of the part of the world richest in gold and
valuable things, and he had done such great deeds as with truth
are related, such as taking eighty strongholds by his valour.
6. BATTLE IN SICILY.
Now when Harald came to Sicily he plundered there also, and sat
down with his army before a strong and populous castle. He
surrounded the castle; but the walls were so thick there was no
possibility of breaking into it, and the people of the castle had
enough of provisions, and all that was necessary for defence.
Then Harald hit upon an expedient. He made his bird-catchers
catch the small birds which had their nests within the castle,
but flew into the woods by day to get food for their young. He
had small splinters of tarred wood bound upon the backs of the
birds, smeared these over with wax and sulphur, and set fire to
them. As soon as the birds were let loose they all flew at once
to the castle to their young, and to their nests, which they had
under the house roofs that were covered with reeds or straw. The
fire from the birds seized upon the house roofs; and although
each bird could only carry a small burden of fire, yet all at
once there was a mighty flame, caused by so many birds carrying
fire with them and spreading it widely among the house roofs.
Thus one house after the other was set on fire, until the castle
itself was in flames. Then the people came out of the castle and
begged for mercy; the same men who for many days had set at
defiance the Greek army and its leader. Harald granted life and
safety to all who asked quarter, and made himself master of the
7. BATTLE AT ANOTHER CASTLE.
There was another castle before which Harald had come with his
army. This castle was both full of people and so strong, that
there was no hope of breaking into it. The castle stood upon a
flat hard plain. Then Harald undertook to dig a passage from a
place where a stream ran in a bed so deep that it could not be
seen from the castle. They threw out all the earth into the
stream, to be carried away by the water. At this work they
laboured day and night, and relieved each other in gangs; while
the rest of the army went the whole day against the castle, where
the castle people shot through their loop-holes. They shot at
each other all day in this way, and at night they slept on both
sides. Now when Harald perceived that his underground passage
was so long that it must be within the castle walls, he ordered
his people to arm themselves. It was towards daybreak that they
went into the passage. When they got to the end of it they dug
over their heads until they came upon stones laid in lime which
was the floor of a stone hall. They broke open the floor and
rose into the hall. There sat many of the castle-men eating and
drinking, and not in the least expecting such uninvited wolves;
for the Varings instantly attacked them sword in hand, and killed
some, and those who could get away fled. The Varings pursued
them; and some seized the castle gate, and opened it, so that the
whole body of the army got in. The people of the castle fled;
but many asked quarter from the troops, which was granted to all
who surrendered. In this way Harald got possession of the place,
and found an immense booty in it.
8. BATTLE AT A THIRD CASTLE.
They came to a third castle, the greatest and strongest of them
all, and also the richest in property and the fullest of people.
Around this castle there were great ditches, so that it evidently
could not be taken by the same device as the former; and they lay
a long time before it without doing anything. When the castle-
men saw this they became bolder, drew up their array on the
castle walls, threw open the castle gates, and shouted to the
Varings, urging them, and jeering at them, and telling them to
come into the castle, and that they were no more fit for battle
than so many poultry. Harald told his men to make as if they did
not know what to do, or did not understand what was said. "For,"
says he, "if we do make an assault we can effect nothing, as they
can throw their weapons under their feet among us; and if we get
in the castle with a party of our people, they have it in their
power to shut them in. and shut out the others; for they have all
the castle gates beset with men. We shall therefore show them
the same scorn they show us, and let them see we do not fear
them. Our men shall go out upon the plain nearest to the castle;
taking care, however, to keep out of bow-shot. All our men shall
go unarmed, and be playing with each other, so that the castle-
men may see we do not regard them or their array." Thus it went
on for some days, without anything being done.
9. OF ULF AND HALDOR.
Two Iceland men were then with Harald; the one was Haldor (1), a
son of the gode Snorre, who brought this account to Iceland; the
other was Ulf Uspakson, a grandson of Usvifer Spake. Both were
very strong men, bold under arms, and Harald's best friends; and
both were in this play. Now when some days were passed the
castle people showed more courage, and would go without weapons
upon the castle wall, while the castle gates were standing open.
The Varings observing this, went one day to their sports with the
sword under their cloaks, and the helmet under their hats. After
playing awhile they observed that the castle people were off
their guard; and instantly seizing their weapons, they made at
the castle gate. When the men of the castle saw this they went
against them armed completely, and a battle began in the castle
gate. The Varings had no shields, but wrapped their cloaks round
their left arms. Some of them were wounded, some killed, and all
stood in great danger. Now came Harald with the men who had
remained in the camp, to the assistance of his people; and the
castle-men had now got out upon the walls, from which they shot
and threw stones down upon them; so that there was a severe
battle, and those who were in the castle gates thought that help
was brought them slower than they could have wished. When Harald
came to the castle gate his standard-bearer fell, and Harald said
to Haldor, "Do thou take up the banner now." Haldor took up the
banner, and said foolishly, "Who will carry the banner before
thee, if thou followest it so timidly as thou hast done for a
while?" But these were words more of anger than of truth; for
Harald was one of the boldest of men under arms. Then they
pressed in, and had a hard battle in the castle; and the end was
that Harald gained the victory and took the castle. Haldor was
much wounded in the face, and it gave him great pain as long as
(1) One of the descendants of this Haldor was Snorre Sturlason,
the author of "Heimskring1a".
10. BATTLE AT A FOURTH CASTLE.
The fourth castle which Harald came to was the greatest of all we
have been speaking about. It was so strong that there was no
possibility of breaking into it. They surrounded the castle, so
that no supplies could get into it. When they had remained here
a short time Harald fell sick, and he betook himself to his bed.
He had his tent put up a little from the camp, for he found
quietness and rest out of the clamour and clang of armed men.
His men went usually in companies to or from him to hear his
orders; and the castle people observing there was something new
among the Varings, sent out spies to discover what this might
mean. When the spies came back to the castle they had to tell of
the illness of the commander of the Varings, and that no assault
on that account had been made on the castle. A while after
Harald's strength began to fail, at which his men were very
melancholy and cast down; all which was news to the castle-men.
At last Harald's sickness increased so rapidly that his death was
expected through all the army. Thereafter the Varings went to
the castle-men; told them, in a parley, of the death of their
commander; and begged of the priests to grant him burial in the
castle. When the castle people heard this news, there were many
among them who ruled over cloisters or other great establishments
within the place, and who were very eager to get the corpse for
their church, knowing that upon that there would follow very rich
presents. A great many priests, therefore, clothed themselves in
all their robes, and went out of the castle with cross and shrine
and relics and formed a beautiful procession. The Varings also
made a great burial. The coffin was borne high in the air, and
over it was a tent of costly linen and before it were carried
many banners. Now when the corpse was brought within the castle
gate the Varings set down the coffin right across the entry,
fixed a bar to keep the gates open, and sounded to battle with
all their trumpets, and drew their swords. The whole army of the
Varings, fully armed. rushed from the camp to the assault of the
castle with shout and cry; and the monks and other priests who
had gone to meet the corpse and had striven with each other who
should be the first to come out and take the offering at the
burial, were now striving much more who should first get away
from the Varings; for they killed before their feet every one who
was nearest, whether clerk or unconsecrated. The Varings
rummaged so well this castle that they killed all the men,
pillaged everything and made an enormous booty.
11. OF HARALD.
Harald was many years in these campaigns, both in Serkland and
in Sicily. Then he came back to Constantinople with his troops
and stayed there but a little time before he began his expedition
to Jerusalem. There he left the pay he had received from the
Greek emperor and all the Varings who accompanied him did the
same. It is said that on all these expeditions Harald had fought
eighteen regular battles. So says Thiodolf: --
"Harald the Stern ne'er allowed
Peace to his foemen, false and proud;
In eighteen battles, fought and won,
The valour of the Norseman shone.
The king, before his home return,
Oft dyed the bald head of the erne
With bloody specks, and o'er the waste
The sharp-claw'd wolf his footsteps traced."
10. HARALD'S EXPEDITION TO PALESTINE.
Harald went with his men to the land of Jerusalem and then up to
the city of Jerusalem, and wheresoever he came in the land all
the towns and strongholds were given up to him. So says the
skald Stuf, who had heard the king himself relate these tidings:
"He went, the warrior bold and brave,
Jerusalem, the holy grave,
And the interior of the land,
To bring under the Greeks' command;
And by the terror of his name
Under his power the country came,
Nor needed wasting fire and sword
To yield obediance to his word."
Here it is told that this land came without fire and sword under
Harald's command. He then went out to Jordan and bathed therein,
according to the custom of other pilgrims. Harald gave great
gifts to our Lord's grave, to the Holy Cross, and other holy
relics in the land of Jerusalem. He also cleared the whole road
all the way out to Jordan, by killing the robbers and other
disturbers of the peace. So says the skald Stuf: --
"The Agder king cleared far and wide
Jordan's fair banks on either side;
The robber-bands before him fled,
And his great name was widely spread.
The wicked people of the land
Were punished here by his dread hand,
And they hereafter will not miss
Much worse from Jesus Christ than this."
13. HARALD PUT IN PRISON.
Thereafter he went back to Constantinople. When Harald returned
to Constantinople from Jerusalem he longed to return to the North
to his native land; and when he heard that Magnus Olafson, his
brother's son, had become king both of Norway and Denmark, he
gave up his command in the Greek service. And when the empress
Zoe heard of this she became angry and raised an accusation
against Harald that he had misapplied the property of the Greek
emperor which he had received in the campaigns in which he was
commander of the army. There was a young and beautiful girl
called Maria, a brother's daughter of the empress Zoe, and Harald
had paid his addresses to her; but the empress had given him a
refusal. The Varings, who were then in pay in Constantinople,
have told here in the North that there went a report among
well-informed people that the empress Zoe herself wanted Harald
for her husband, and that she chiefly blamed Harald for his
determination to leave Constantinople, although another reason
was given out to the public. Constantinus Monomachus was at
that time emperor of the Greeks and ruled along with Zoe. On
this account the Greek emperor had Harald made prisoner and
carried to prison.
14. KING OLAF'S MIRACLE AND BLINDING THE GREEK EMPEROR.
When Harald drew near to the prison King Olaf the Saint stood
before him and said he would assist him. On that spot of the
street a chapel has since been built and consecrated to Saint
Olaf and which chapel has stood there ever since. The prison was
so constructed that there was a high tower open above, but a door
below to go into it from the street. Through it Harald was
thrust in, along with Haldor and Ulf. Next night a lady of
distinction with two servants came, by the help of ladders, to
the top of the tower, let down a rope into the prison and hauled
them up. Saint Olaf had formerly cured this lady of a sickness
and he had appeared to her in a vision and told her to deliver
his brother. Harald went immediately to the Varings, who all
rose from their seats when he came in and received him with joy.
The men armed themselves forthwith and went to where the emperor
slept. They took the emperor prisoner and put out both the eyes
of him. So says Thorarin Skeggjason in his poem: --
"Of glowing gold that decks the hand
The king got plenty in this land;
But it's great emperor in the strife
Was made stone-blind for all his life."
So says Thiodolf, the skald, also: --
"He who the hungry wolf's wild yell
Quiets with prey, the stern, the fell,
Midst the uproar of shriek and shout
Stung tho Greek emperor's eyes both out:
The Norse king's mark will not adorn,
The Norse king's mark gives cause to mourn;
His mark the Eastern king must bear,
Groping his sightless way in fear."
In these two songs, and many others, it is told that Harald
himself blinded the Greek emperor; and they would surely have
named some duke, count, or other great man, if they had not known
this to be the true account; and King Harald himself and other
men who were with him spread the account.
15. HARALD'S JOURNEY FROM CONSTANTINOPLE.
The same night King Harald and his men went to the house where
Maria slept and carried her away by force. Then they went down
to where the galleys of the Varings lay, took two of them and
rowed out into Sjavid sound. When they came to the place where
the iron chain is drawn across the sound, Harald told his men to
stretch out at their oars in both galleys; but the men who were
not rowing to run all to the stern of the galley, each with his
luggage in his hand. The galleys thus ran up and lay on the iron
chain. As soon as they stood fast on it, and would advance no
farther, Harald ordered all the men to run forward into the bow.
Then the galley, in which Harald was, balanced forwards and swung
down over the chain; but the other, which remained fast athwart
the chain, split in two, by which many men were lost; but some
were taken up out of the sound. Thus Harald escaped out of
Constantinople and sailed thence into the Black Sea; but before
he left the land he put the lady ashore and sent her back with a
good escort to Constantinople and bade her tell her relation, the
Empress Zoe, how little power she had over Harald, and how little
the empress could have hindered him from taking the lady. Harald
then sailed northwards in the Ellipalta and then all round the
Eastern empire. On this voyage Harald composed sixteen songs for
amusement and all ending with the same words. This is one of
"Past Sicily's wide plains we flew,
A dauntless, never-wearied crew;
Our viking steed rushed through the sea,
As viking-like fast, fast sailed we.
Never, I think, along this shore
Did Norsemen ever sail before;
Yet to the Russian queen, I fear,
My gold-adorned, I am not dear."
With this he meant Ellisif, daughter of King Jarisleif in
16. OF KING HARALD.
When Harald came to Novgorod King Jarisleif received him in the
most friendly way and he remained there all winter (A.D. 1045).
Then he took into his own keeping all the gold and the many kinds
of precious things which he had sent there from Constantinople
and which together made up so vast a treasure that no man in the
Northern lands ever saw the like of it in one man's possession.
Harald had been three times in the poluta-svarf while he was in
Constantinople. It is the custom, namely, there, that every time
one of the Greek emperors dies, the Varings are allowed
poluta-svarf; that is, they may go through all the emperor's
palaces where his treasures are and each may take and keep what
he can lay hold of while he is going through them.
17. KING HARALD'S MARRIAGE.
This winter King Jarisleif gave Harald his daughter Elisabeth in
marriage. She is called by the Northmen Ellisif. This is
related by Stuf the Blind, thus: --
"Agder's chief now got the queen
Who long his secret love had been.
Of gold, no doubt, a mighty store
The princess to her husband bore."
In spring he began his journey from Novgorod and came to
Aldeigjuborg, where he took shipping and sailed from the East in
summer. He turned first to Svithjod and came to Sigtuna. So
says Valgard o' Val: --
"The fairest cargo ship e'er bore,
From Russia's distant eastern shore
The gallant Harald homeward brings --
Gold, and a fame that skald still sings.
The ship through dashing foam he steers,
Through the sea-rain to Svithjod veers,
And at Sigtuna's grassy shores
His gallant vessel safely moors."
18. THE LEAGUE BETWEEN KING HARALD AND SVEIN ULFSON.
Harald found there before him Svein Ulfson, who the autumn before
(A.D. 1045) had fled from King Magnus at Helganes; and when they
met they were very friendly on both sides. The Swedish king,
Olaf the Swede, was brother of the mother of Ellisif, Harald's
wife; and Astrid, the mother of Svein, was King Olaf's sister.
Harald and Svein entered into friendship with each other and
confirmed it by oath. All the Swedes were friendly to Svein,
because he belonged to the greatest family in the country; and
thus all the Swedes were Harald's friends and helpers also, for
many great men were connected with him by relationship. So says
"Cross the East sea the vessel flew, --
Her oak-keel a white furrow drew
From Russia's coast to Swedish land.
Where Harald can great help command.
The heavy vessel's leeward side
Was hid beneath the rushing tide;
While the broad sail and gold-tipped mast
Swung to and fro in the hard blast."
19. KING HARALD'S FORAY.
Then Harald and Svein fitted out ships and gathered together a
great force; and when the troops were ready they sailed from the
East towards Denmark. So says Valgard: --
"Brave Yngve! to the land decreed
To thee by fate, with tempest speed
The winds fly with thee o'er the sea --
To thy own udal land with thee.
As past the Scanlan plains they fly,
The gay ships glances 'twixt sea and sky,
And Scanian brides look out, and fear
Some ill to those they hold most dear."
They landed first in Seeland with their men and herried and
burned in the land far and wide. Then they went to Fyen, where
they also landed and wasted. So says Valgard: --
"Harald! thou hast the isle laid waste,
The Seeland men away hast chased,
And the wild wolf by daylight roams
Through their deserted silent homes.
Fiona too could not withstand
The fury of thy wasting hand.
Helms burst, shields broke, -- Fiona's bounds.
Were filled with death's terrific sounds.
"Red flashing in the southern sky,
The clear flame sweeping broad and high,
From fair Roeskilde's lofty towers,
On lowly huts its fire-rain pours;
And shows the housemates' silent train
In terror scouring o'er the plain,
Seeking the forest's deepest glen,
To house with wolves, and 'scape from men.
"Few were they of escape to tell,
For, sorrow-worn, the people fell:
The only captives form the fray
Were lovely maidens led away.
And in wild terror to the strand,
Down to the ships, the linked band
Of fair-haired girls is roughly driven,
Their soft skins by the irons riven."
20. KING MAGNUS'S LEVY.
King Magnus Olafson sailed north to Norway in the autumn after
the battle at Helganes (A.D. 1045). There he hears the news that
Harald Sigurdson, his relation, was come to Svithjod; and
moreover that Svein Ulfson and Harald had entered into a friendly
bond with each other and gathered together a great force,
intending first to subdue Denmark and then Norway. King Magnus
then ordered a general levy over all Norway and he soon collected
a great army. He hears then that Harald and Svein were come to
Denmark and were burning and laying waste the land and that the
country people were everywhere submitting to them. It was also
told that King Harald was stronger and stouter than other men,
and so wise withal that nothing was impossible to him, and he had
always the victory when he fought a battle; and he was also so
rich in gold that no man could compare with him in wealth.
Thiodolf speaks thus of it:
"Norsemen, who stand the sword of foe
Like forest-stems unmoved by blow!
My hopes are fled, no peace is near, --
People fly here and there in fear.
On either side of Seeland's coast
A fleet appears -- a white winged host;
Magnus form Norway takes his course,
Harald from Sweden leads his force.
21. TREATY BETWEEN HARALD AND MAGNUS.
Those of Harald's men who were in his counsel said that it would
be a great misfortune if relations like Harald and Magnus should
fight and throw a death-spear against each other; and therefore
many offered to attempt bringing about some agreement between
them, and the kings, by their persuasion, agreed to it.
Thereupon some men were sent off in a light boat, in which they
sailed south in all haste to Denmark, and got some Danish men,
who were proven friends of King Magnus, to propose this matter to
Harald. This affair was conducted very secretly. Now when
Harald heard that his relation, King Magnus, would offer him a
league and partition, so that Harald should have half of Norway
with King Magnus, and that they should divide all their movable
property into two equal parts, he accepted the proposal, and the
people went back to King Magnus with this answer.
22. TREATY BETWEEN HARALD AND SVEIN BROKEN.
A little after this it happened that Harald and Svein one evening
were sitting at table drinking and talking together, and Svein
asked Harald what valuable piece of all his property he esteemed
He answered, it was his banner Land-waster.
Svein asked what was there remarkable about it, that he valued it
Harald replied, it was a common saying that he must gain the
victory before whom that banner is borne, and it had turned out
so ever since he had owned it.
Svein replies, "I will begin to believe there is such virtue in
the banner when thou hast held three battles with thy relation
Magnus, and hast gained them all."
Then answered Harald with an angry voice, "I know my relationship
to King Magnus, without thy reminding me of it; and although we
are now going in arms against him, our meeting may be of a better
Svein changed colour, and said, "There are people, Harald, who
say that thou hast done as much before as only to hold that part
of an agreement which appears to suit thy own interest best."
Harald answers, "It becomes thee ill to say that I have not stood
by an agreement, when I know what King Magnus could tell of thy
proceedings with him."
Thereupon each went his own way. At night, when Harald went to
sleep within the bulwarks of his vessel, he said to his footboy,
"I will not sleep in my bed to-night, for I suspect there may be
treachery abroad. I observed this evening that my friend Svein
was very angry at my free discourse. Thou shalt keep watch,
therefore, in case anything happen in the night." Harald then
went away to sleep somewhere else, and laid a billet of wood in
his place. At midnight a boat rowed alongside to the ship's
bulwark; a man went on board, lifted up the cloth of the tent of
the bulwarks, went up, and struck in Harald's bed with a great
ax, so that it stood fast in the lump of wood. The man instantly
ran back to his boat again, and rowed away in the dark night, for
the moon was set; but the axe remained sticking in the piece of
wood as an evidence. Thereupon Harald waked his men and let them
know the treachery intended. "We can now see sufficiently," said
he, "that we could never match Svein if he practises such
deliberate treachery against us; so it will be best for us to get
away from this place while we can. Let us cast loose our vessel
and row away as quietly as possible." They did so, and rowed
during the night northwards along the land; and then proceeded
night and day until they came to King Magnus, where he lay with
his army. Harald went to his relation Magnus, and there was a
joyful meeting betwixt them. So says Thiodolf: --
"The far-known king the order gave,
In silence o'er the swelling wave,
With noiseless oars, his vessels gay
From Denmark west to row away;
And Olaf's son, with justice rare,
Offers with him the realm to share.
People, no doubt, rejoiced to find
The kings had met in peaceful mind."
Afterwards the two relatives conversed with each other and all
was settled by peaceful agreement.
23. KING MAGNUS GIVES HARALD HALF OF NORWAY.
King Magnus lay at the shore and had set up tents upon the land.
There he invited his relation, King Harald, to be his guest at
table; and Harald went to the entertainment with sixty of his men
and was feasted excellently. Towards the end of the day King
Magnus went into the tent where Harald sat and with him went men
carrying parcels consisting of clothes and arms. Then the king
went to the man who sat lowest and gave him a good sword, to the
next a shield, to the next a kirtle, and so on, -- clothes, or
weapons, or gold; to all he gave one or the other valuable gift,
and the more costly to the more distinguished men among them.
Then he placed himself before his relation Harald, holding two
sticks in his hand, and said, "Which of these two sticks wilt
thou have, my friend?"
Harald replies, "The one nearest me."
"Then," said King Magnus, "with this stick I give thee half of
the Norwegian power, with all the scat and duties, and all the
domains thereunto belonging, with the condition that everywhere
thou shalt be as lawful king in Norway as I am myself; but when
we are both together in one place, I shall be the first man in
seat, service and salutation; and if there be three of us
together of equal dignity, that I shall sit in the middle, and
shall have the royal tent-ground and the royal landing-place.
Thou shalt strengthen and advance our kingdom, in return for
making thee that man in Norway whom we never expected any man
should be so long as our head was above ground." Then Harald
stood up, and thanked him for the high title and dignity.
Thereupon they both sat down, and were very merry together. The
same evening Harald and his men returned to their ships.
24. HARALD GIVES MAGNUS THE HALF OF HIS TREASURES.
The following morning King Magnus ordered the trumpets to sound
to a General Thing of the people; and when it was seated, he made
known to the whole army the gift he had given to his relation
Harald. Thorer of Steig gave Harald the title of King there at
the Thing; and the same day King Harald invited King Magnus to
table with him, and he went with sixty men to King Harald's
land-tent, where he had prepared a feast. The two kings sat
together on a high-seat, and the feast was splendid; everything
went on with magnificence, and the kings' were merry and glad.
Towards the close of the day King Harald ordered many caskets to
be brought into the tent, and in like manner people bore in
weapons, clothes and other sorts of valuables; and all these King
Harald divided among King Magnus's men who were at the feast.
Then he had the caskets opened and said to King Magnus,
"Yesterday you gave us a large kingdom, which your hand won from
your and our enemies, and took us in partnership with you, which
was well done; and this has cost you much. Now we on our side
have been in foreign parts, and oft in peril of life, to gather
together the gold which you here see. Now, King Magnus, I will
divide this with you. We shall both own this movable property,
and each have his equal share of it, as each has his equal half
share of Norway. I know that our dispositions are different, as
thou art more liberal than I am; therefore let us divide this
property equally between us, so that each may have his share free
to do with as he will." Then Harald had a large ox-hide spread
out, and turned the gold out of the caskets upon it. Then scales
and weights were taken and the gold separated and divided by
weight into equal parts; and all people wondered exceedingly that
so much gold should have come together in one place in the
northern countries. But it was understood that it was the Greek
emperor's property and wealth; for, as all people say, there are
whole houses there full of red gold. The kings were now very
merry. Then there appeared an ingot among the rest as big as a
man's hand. Harald took it in his hands and said, "Where is the
gold, friend Magnus, that thou canst show against this piece?"
King Magnus replied, "So many disturbances and levies have been
in the country that almost all the gold and silver I could lay up
is gone. I have no more gold in my possession than this ring."
And he took the ring off his hand and gave it to Harald.
Harald looked at it, and said, "That is but little gold, friend.
for the king who owns two kingdoms; and yet some may doubt
whether thou art rightful owner of even this ring."
Then King Magnus replied, after a little reflection, "If I be not
rightful owner of this ring, then I know not what I have got
right to; for my father, King Olaf the Saint, gave me this ring
at our last parting."
Then said King Harald, laughing, "It is true, King Magnus, what
thou sayest. Thy father gave thee this ring, but he took the
ring from my father for some trifling cause; and in truth it was
not a good time for small kings in Norway when thy father was in
King Harald gave Thorer of Steig at that feast a bowl of mountain
birch, that was encircled with a silver ring and had a silver
handle, both which parts were gilt; and the bowl was filled with
money of pure silver. With that came also two gold rings, which
together stood for a mark. He gave him also his cloak of dark
purple lined with white skins within, and promised him besides
his friendship and great dignity. Thorgils Snorrason, an
intelligent man, says he has seen an altar-cloth that was made of
this cloak; and Gudrid, a daughter of Guthorm, the son of Thorer
of Steig, said, according to Thorgil's account, that she had seen
this bowl in her father Guthorm's possession. Bolverk also tells
of these matters: --
"Thou, generous king, I have been told,
For the green land hast given gold;
And Magnus got a mighty treasure,
That thou one half might'st rule at pleasure.
The people gained a blessed peace,
Which 'twixt the kings did never cease;
While Svein, disturbed with war's alarms,
Had his folk always under arms."
25. OF KING MAGNUS.
The kings Magnus and Harald both ruled in Norway the winter after
their agreement (A.D. 1047), and each had his court. In winter
they went around the Upland country in guest-quarters; and
sometimes they were both together, sometimes each was for
himself. They went all the way north to Throndhjem, to the town
of Nidaros. King Magnus had taken special care of the holy
remains of King Olaf after he came to the country; had the hair
and nails clipped every twelve month, and kept himself the keys
that opened the shrine. Many miracles were worked by King Olaf's
holy remains. It was not long before there was a breach in the
good understanding between the two kings, as many were so
mischievous as to promote discord between them.
26. OF SVEIN ULFSON.
Svein Ulfson remained behind in the harbour after Harald had gone
away, and inquired about his proceedings. When he heard at last
of Magnus and Harald having agreed and joined their forces, he
steered with his forces eastward along Scania, and remained there
until towards winter, when he heard that King Magnus and King
Harald had gone northwards to Norway. Then Svein, with his
troops, came south to Denmark and took all the royal income that
winter (A.D. 1047).
27. OF THE LEVY OF THE TWO KINGS.
Towards spring (A.D. 1047) King Magnus and his relation, King
Harald, ordered a levy in Norway. It happened once that the
kings lay all night in the same harbour and next day, King
Harald, being first ready, made sail. Towards evening he brought
up in the harbour in which Magnus and his retinue had intended to
pass the night. Harald laid his vessel in the royal ground, and
there set up his tents. King Magnus got under sail later in the
day and came into the harbour just as King Harald had done
pitching his tents. They saw then that King Harald had taken up
the king's ground and intended to lie there. After King Magnus
had ordered the sails to be taken in, he said, "The men will now
get ready along both sides of the vessel to lay out their oars,
and some will open the hatches and bring up the arms and arm
themselves; for, if they will not make way for us, we will fight
them." Now when King Harald sees that King Magnus will give him
battle, he says to his men, "Cut our land-fastenings and back the
ship out of the ground, for friend Magnus is in a passion." They
did so and laid the vessel out of the ground and King Magnus laid
his vessel in it. When they were now ready on both sides with
their business, King Harald went with a few men on board of King
Magnus's ship. King Magnus received him in a friendly way, and
bade him welcome. King Harald answered, "I thought we were come
among friends; but just now I was in doubt if ye would have it
so. But it is a truth that childhood is hasty, and I will only
consider it as a childish freak." Then said King Magnus, "It is
no childish whim, but a trait of my family, that I never forget
what I have given, or what I have not given. If this trifle had
been settled against my will, there would soon have followed'
some other discord like it. In all particulars I will hold the
agreement between us; but in the same way we will have all that
belongs to us by that right." King Harald coolly replied, that
it is an old custom for the wisest to give way; and returned to
his ship. From such circumstances it was found difficult to
preserve good understanding between the kings. King Magnus's men
said he was in the right; but others, less wise, thought there
was some slight put upon Harald in the business. King Harald's
men, besides, insisted that the agreement was only that King
Magnus should have the preference of the harbour-ground when they
arrived together, but that King Harald was not bound to draw out
of his place when he came first. They observed, also, that King
Harald had conducted himself well and wisely in the matter.
Those who viewed the business in the worst light insisted that
King Magnus wanted to break the agreement, and that he had done
King Harald injustice, and put an affront on him. Such disputes
were talked over so long among foolish people, that the spirit of
disagreeing affected the kings themselves. Many other things
also occurred, in which the kings appeared determined to have
each his own way; but of these little will be set down here.
25. KING MAGNUS THE GOOD'S DEATH.
The kings, Magnus and Harald, sailed with their fleet south to
Denmark; and when Svein heard of their approach, he fled away
east to Scania. Magnus and Harald remained in Denmark late in
summer, and subdued the whole country. In autumn they were in
Jutland. One night, as King Magnus lay in his bed, it appeared
to him in a dream that he was in the same place as his father,
Saint Olaf, and that he spoke to him thus: "Wilt thou choose, my
son, to follow me, or to become a mighty king, and have long
life; but to commit a crime which thou wilt never be able to
expiate?" He thought he made the answer, "Do thou, father,
choose for me." Then the king thought the answer was, "Thou
shalt follow me." King Magnus told his men this dream. Soon
after he fell sick and lay at a place called Sudathorp. When he
was near his death he sent his brother, Thorer, with tokens to
Svein Ulfson, with the request to give Thorer the aid he might
require. In this message King Magnus also gave the Danish
dominions to Svein after his death; and said it was just that
Harald should rule over Norway and Svein over Denmark. Then King
Magnus the Good died (A.D. 1047), and great was the sorrow of all
the people at his death. So says Od Kikinaskald: --
"The tears o'er good King Magnus' bier,
The people's tears, were all sincere:
Even they to whom he riches gave
Carried him heavily to the grave.
All hearts were struck at the king's end;
His house-thralls wept as for a friend;
His court-men oft alone would muse,
As pondering o'er unthought of news."
29. KING MAGNUS'S FUNERAL.
After this event King Harald held a Thing of his men-at-arms, and
told them his intention to go with the army to Viborg Thing, and
make himself be proclaimed king over the whole Danish dominions,
to which, he said, he had hereditary right after his relation
Magnus, as well as to Norway. He therefore asked his men for
their aid, and said he thought the Norway man should show himself
always superior to the Dane. Then Einar Tambaskelfer replies
that he considered it a greater duty to bring his foster-son King
Magnus's corpse to the grave, and lay it beside his father, King
Olaf's, north in Throndhjem town, than to be fighting abroad and
taking another king's dominions and property. He ended his
speech with saying that he would rather follow King Magnus dead
than any other king alive. Thereupon he had the body adorned in
the most careful way, so that most magnificent preparations were
made in the king's ship. Then all the Throndhjem people and all
the Northmen made themselves ready to return home with the king's
body, and so the army was broken up. King Harald saw then that
it was better for him to return to Norway to secure that kingdom
first, and to assemble men anew; and so King Harald returned to
Norway with all his army. As soon as he came to Norway he held a
Thing with the people of the country, and had himself proclaimed
king everywhere. He proceeded thus from the East through Viken,
and in every district in Norway he was named king. Einar
Tambaskelfer, and with him all the Throndhjem troops, went with
King Magnus's body and transported it to the town of Nidaros,
where it was buried in St. Clement's church, where also was the
shrine of King Olaf the Saint. King Magnus was of middle size,
of long and clear-complexioned countenance, and light hair, spoke
well and hastily, was brisk in his actions, and extremely
generous. He was a great warrior, and remarkably bold in arms.
He was the most popular of kings, prized even by enemies as well
30. OF SVEIN ULFSON.
Svein Ulfson remained that autumn in Scania (A.D. 1047), and was
making ready to travel eastward to Sweden, with the intention of
renouncing the title of king he had assumed in Denmark; but just
as he was mounting his horse some men came riding to him with the
first news that King Magnus was dead, and all the Northmen had
left Denmark. Svein answered in haste, "I call God to witness
that I shall never again fly from the Danish dominions as long as
I live." Then he got on his horse and rode south into Scania,
where immediately many people crowded to him. That winter he
brought under his power all the Danish dominions, and all the
Danes took him for their king. Thorer, King Magnus's brother,
came to Svein in autumn with the message of King Magnus, as
before related, and was well received; and Thorer remained long
with Svein and was well taken care of.
31. OF KING HARALD SIGURDSON.
King Harald Sigurdson took the royal power over all Norway after
the death of King Magnus Olafson; and when he had reigned over
Norway one winter and spring was come (A.D. 1048), he ordered a
levy through all the land of one-half of all men and ships and
went south to Jutland. He herried and burned all summer wide
around in the land and came into Godnarfjord, where King Harald
made these verses: --
"While wives of husbands fondly dream,
Here let us anchor in the stream,
In Godnarfjord; we'll safely moor
Our sea-homes, and sleep quite secure."
Then he spoke to Thiodolf, the skald, and asked him to add to it
what it wanted, and he sang: --
"In the next summer, I foresee,
Our anchorage in the South will be;
To hold our sea-homes on the ground,
More cold-tongued anchors will be found."
To this Bolverk alludes in his song also, that Harald went to
Denmark the summer after King Magnus's death. Bolverk sings
"Next summer thou the levy raised,
And seawards all the people gazed,
Where thy sea-steeds in sunshine glancing
Over the waves were gaily prancing;
While the deep ships that plunder bore
Seemed black specks from the distant shore.
The Danes, from banks or hillocks green,
Looked with dismay upon the scene."
32. OF THORKEL GEYSA'S DAUGHTERS.
Then they burned the house of Thorkel Geysa, who was a great
lord, and his daughters they carried off bound to their ships.
They had made a great mockery the winter before of King Harald's
coming with war-ships against Denmark; and they cut their cheese
into the shape of anchors, and said such anchors might hold all
the ships of the Norway king. Then this was composed: --
"The Island-girls, we were told,
Made anchors all our fleet to hold:
Their Danish jest cut out in cheese
Did not our stern king's fancy please.
Now many a maiden fair, may be,
Sees iron anchors splash the sea,
Who will not wake a maid next morn
To laugh at Norway's ships in scorn."
It is said that a spy who had seen the fleet of King Harald said
to Thorkel Geysa's daughters, "Ye said, Geysa's daughters, that
King Harald dared not come to Denmark." Dotta, Thorkel's
daughter, replied, "That was yesterday." Thorkel had to ransom
his daughters with a great sum. So says Grane: --
"The gold-adorned girl's eye
Through Hornskeg wood was never dry,
As down towards the sandy shore
The men their lovely prizes bore.
The Norway leader kept at bay
The foe who would contest the way,
And Dotta's father had to bring
Treasure to satisfy the king."
King Harald plundered in Denmark all that summer, and made
immense booty; but he had not any footing in the land that summer
in Denmark. He went to Norway again in autumn and remained there
all winter (A.D. 1049).
33. MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN OF HARALD HARDRADE.
The winter after King Magnus the Good died, King Harald took
Thora, daughter of Thorberg Arnason, and they had two sons; the
oldest called Magnus, and the other Olaf. King Harald and Queen
Ellisif had two daughters; the one Maria, the other Ingegerd.
The spring after the foray which has just been related King
Harald ordered the people out and went with them to Denmark (A.D.
1049), and herried there, and did so summer after summer
thereafter. So says Stuf, the skald: --
"Falster lay waste, as people tell, --
The raven in other isles fared well.
The Danes were everywhere in fear,
For the dread foray every year."
34. OF THE ARMAMENTS OF SVEIN ULFSON AND HARALD.
King Svein ruled over all the Danish dominions after King
Magnus's death. He sat quiet all the winter; but in summer he
lay out in his ships with all his people and it was said he would
go north to Norway with the Danish army and make not less havoc
there than King Harald had made in Denmark. King Svein proposed
to King Harald in winter (A.D. 1049) to meet him the following
summer at the Gaut river and fight until in the battle-field
their differences were ended, or they were settled peacefully.
They made ready on both sides all winter with their ships, and
called out in summer one-half of all the fighting men. The same
summer came Thorleik the Fair out of Iceland, and composed a poem
about King Svein Ulfson. He heard, when he arrived in Norway,
that King Harald had sailed south to the Gaut river against King
Svein. Then Thorleik sang this: --
"The wily Svein, I think, will meet
These inland Norsemen fleet to fleet;
The arrow-storm, and heaving sea,
His vantage-fight and field will be.
God only knows the end of strife,
Or which shall have his land and life;
This strife must come to such an end,
For terms will never bind King Svein."
He also sang these verses: --
"Harald, whose red shield oft has shone
O'er herried coasts, and fields hard won,
Rides in hot wrath, and eager speeds
O'er the blue waves his ocean-steeds.
Svein, who in blood his arrows stains,
Brings o'er the ocean's heaving plains
His gold-beaked ships, which come in view
Out from the Sound with many a hue."
King Harald came with his forces to the appointed meeting-place;
but there he heard that King Svein was lying with his fleet at
the south side of Seeland. Then King Harald divided his forces;
let the greater part of the bonde-troops return home; and took
with him his court-men, his lendermen, the best men-at-arms, and
all the bonde-troops who lived nearest to the Danish land. They
sailed over to Jutland to the south of Vendilskage, and so south
to Thioda; and over all they carried fire and sword. So says
Stuf, the skald: --
"In haste the men of Thyland fly
From the great monarch's threat'ning eye;
At the stern Harald's angry look
The boldest hearts in Denmark shook."
They went forward all the way south to Heidaby, took the merchant
town and burnt it. Then one of Harald's men made the following
"All Heidaby is burned down!
Strangers will ask where stood the town.
In our wild humour up it blazed,
And Svein looks round him all amazed.
All Heidaby is burned down!
From a far corner of the town
I saw, before the peep of morning,
Roofs, walls, and all in flame high burning."
To this also Thorleik alludes in his verses, when he heard there
had been no battle at the Gaut river: --
"The stranger-warrior may inquire
Of Harald's men, why in his ire
On Heidaby his wrath he turns,
And the fair town to ashes burns?
Would that the day had never come
When Harald's ships returned home
From the East Sea, since now the town,
Without his gain, is burned down!"
35. HARALD'S ESCAPE INTO THE JUTLAND SEA.
Then King Harald sailed north and had sixty ships and the most of
them large and heavily laden with the booty taken in summer; and
as they sailed north past Thioda King Svein came down from the
land with a great force and he challenged King Harald to land and
fight. King Harald had little more than half the force of King
Svein and therefore he challenged Svein to fight at sea. So says
Thorleik the Fair: --
"Svein, who of all men under heaven
Has had the luckiest birth-hour given,
Invites his foemen to the field,
There to contest with blood-stained shield.
The king, impatient of delay,
Harald, will with his sea-hawks stay;
On board will fight, and fate decide
If Svein shall by his land abide."
After that King Harald sailed north along Vendilskage; and the
wind then came against them, and they brought up under Hlesey,
where they lay all night. A thick fog lay upon the sea; and when
the morning came and the sun rose they saw upon the other side of
the sea as if many lights were burning. This was told to King
Harald; and he looked at it, and said immediately, "Strike the
tilts down on the ships and take to the oars. The Danish forces
are coming upon us, and the fog there where they are must have
cleared off, and the sun shines upon the dragon-heads of their
ships, which are gilded, and that is what we see." It was so as
he had said. Svein had come there with a prodigious armed force.
They rowed now on both sides all they could. The Danish ships
flew lighter before the oars; for the Northmen's ships were both
soaked with water and heavily laden, so that the Danes approached
nearer and nearer. Then Harald, whose own dragon-ship was the
last of the fleet, saw that he could not get away; so he ordered
his men to throw overboard some wood, and lay upon it clothes and
other good and valuable articles; and it was so perfectly calm
that these drove about with the tide. Now when the Danes saw
their own goods driving about on the sea, they who were in
advance turned about to save them; for they thought it was easier
to take what was floating freely about, than to go on board the
Northmen to take it. They dropped rowing and lost ground. Now
when King Svein came up to them with his ship, he urged them on,
saying it would be a great shame if they, with so great a force,
could not overtake and master so small a number. The Danes then
began again to stretch out lustily at their oars. When King
Harald saw that the Danish ships went faster he ordered his men
to lighten their ships, and cast overboard malt, wheat, bacon,
and to let their liquor run out, which helped a little. Then
Harald ordered the bulwarkscreens, the empty casks and puncheons
and the prisoners to be thrown overboard; and when all these were
driving about on the sea, Svein ordered help to be given to save
the men. This was done; but so much time was lost that they
separated from each other. The Danes turned back and the
Northmen proceeded on their way. So says Thorleik the Fair: --
"Svein drove his foes from Jutland's coast, --
The Norsemen's ships would have been lost,
But Harald all his vessels saves,
Throwing his booty on the waves.
The Jutlanders saw, as he threw,
Their own goods floating in their view;
His lighten'd ships fly o'er the main
While they pick up their own again."
King Svein returned southwards with his ships to Hlesey, where he
found seven ships of the Northmen, with bondes and men of the
levy. When King Svein came to them they begged for mercy, and
offered ransom for themselves. So says Thorleik the Fair: --
"The stern king's men good offers make,
If Svein will ransom for them take;
Too few to fight, they boldly say
Unequal force makes them give way.
The hasty bondes for a word
Would have betaken them to the sword,
And have prolonged a bloody strife --
Such men can give no price for life."
36. OF HARALD.
King Harald was a great man, who ruled his kingdom well in home-
concerns. Very prudent was he, of good understanding; and it is
the universal opinion that no chief ever was in northern lands of
such deep judgment and ready counsel as Harald. He was a great
warrior; bold in arms; strong and expert in the use of his
weapons beyond any others, as has been before related, although
many of the feats of his manhood are not here written down. This
is owing partly to our uncertainty about them, partly to our wish
not to put stories into this book for which there is no
testimony. Although we have heard, many things talked about, and
even circumstantially related, yet we think it better that
something may be added to, than that it should be necessary to
take something away from our narrative. A great part of his
history is put in verse by Iceland men, which poems they
presented to him or his sons, and for which reason he was their
great friend. He was, indeed. a great friend to all the people
of that country; and once, when a very dear time set in, he
allowed four ships to transport meal to Iceland, and fixed that
the shippund should not be dearer than 100 ells of wadmal. He
permitted also all poor people, who could find provisions to keep
them on the voyage across the sea, to emigrate from Iceland to
Norway; and from that time there was better subsistence in the
country, and the seasons also turned out better. King Harold
also sent from Norway a bell for the church of which Olaf the
Saint had sent the timbers to Iceland, and which was erected on
the Thing-plain. Such remembrances of King Harald are found here
in the country, besides many great gifts which he presented to
those who visited him.
37. OF HALDOR SNORRASON.
Haldor Snorrason and Ulf Uspakson, as before related, came to
Norway with King Harald. They were, in many respects, of
different dispositions. Haldor was very stout and strong, and
remarkably handsome in appearance. King Harald gave him this
testimony, that he, among all his men, cared least about doubtful
circumstances, whether they betokened danger or pleasure; for,
whatever turned up, he was never in higher nor in lower spirits,
never slept less nor more on account of them, nor ate or drank
but according to his custom. Haldor was not a man of many words,
but short in conversation, told his opinion bluntly and was
obstinate and hard; and this could not please the king, who had
many clever people about him zealous in his service. Haldor
remained a short time with the king; and then came to Iceland,
where he took up his abode in Hjardarholt, and dwelt in that farm
to a very advanced age.
38. OF ULF USPAKSON.
Ulf Uspakson stood in great esteem with King Harald; for he was a
man of great understanding, clever in conversation, active and
brave, and withal true and sincere. King Harald made Ulf his
marshal, and married him to Jorun, Thorberg's daughter, a sister
of Harald's wife, Thora. Ulf and Jorun's children were Joan the
Strong of Rasvol, and Brigida, mother of Sauda-Ulf, who was
father of Peter Byrdar-Svein, father of Ulf Fly and Sigrid. Joan
the Strong's son was Erlend Himalde, father of Archbishop Eystein
and his brothers. King Harald gave Ulf the marshal the rights of
a lenderman and a fief of twelve marks income, besides a half-
district in the Throndhjem land. Of this Stein Herdison speaks
in his song about Ulf.
39. OF THE BUILDING OF CHURCHES AND HOUSES.
King Magnus Olafson built Olaf's church in the town (Nidaros), on
the spot where Olaf's body was set down for the night, and which,
at that time, was above the town. He also had the king's house
built there. The church was not quite finished when the king
died; but King Harald had what was wanting completed. There,
beside the house, he began to construct a stone hall, but it was
not finished when he died. King Harald had the church called
Mary Church built from the foundations up, at the sandhill close
to the spot where the king's holy remains were concealed in the
earth the first winter after his fall. It was a large temple,
and so strongly built with lime that it was difficult to break it
when the Archbishop Eystein had it pulled down. Olaf's holy
remains were kept in Olaf's church while Mary Church was
building. King Harald had the king's house erected below Mary
Kirk, at the side of the river, where it now is; and he had the
house in which he had made the great hall consecrated and called
40. BEGINNING OF HAKON IVARSON'S STORY.
There was a man called Ivar the White, who was a brave lenderman
dwelling in the Uplands, and was a daughter's son of Earl Hakon
the Great. Ivar was the handsomest man that could be seen.
Ivar's son was called Hakon; and of him it was said that he was
distinguished above all men then in Norway for beauty, strength
and perfection of figure. In his very youth he had been sent out
on war expeditions, where he acquired great honour and
consideration, and became afterwards one of the most celebrated
41. OF EINAR TAMBASKELFER.
Einar Tambaskelfer was the most powerful lenderman in the
Throndhjem land. There was but little friendship between him and
King Harald, although Einar retained all the fiefs he had held
while Magnus the Good lived. Einar had many large estates, and
was married to Bergliot, a daughter of Earl Hakon, as related
above. Their son Eindride was grown up, and married to Sigrid, a
daughter of Ketil Kalf and Gunhild, King Harald's sister's
daughter. Eindride had inherited the beauty of his mother's
father, Earl Hakon, and his sons; and in size and strength he
took after his father, Einar, and also in all bodily perfections
by which Einar had been distinguished above other men. He was,
also, as well as his father, the most popular of men, which the
sagas, indeed, show sufficiently.
42. OF EARL ORM.
Orm was at that time earl in the Uplands. His mother was
Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hakon the Great, and Orm was a
remarkably clever man. Aslak Erlingson was then in Jadar at
Sole, and was married to Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Svein
Hakonson. Gunhild, Earl Svein's other daughter, was married to
the Danish king, Svein Ulfson. These were the descendants of
Earl Hakon at that time in Norway, besides many other
distinguished people; and the whole race was remarkable for their
very beautiful appearance, and the most of them were gifted with
great bodily perfection, and were all distinguished and important
43. HARALD'S PRIDE.
King Harald was very proud, and his pride increased after he was
established in the country; and it came so far that at last it
was not good to speak against him, or to propose anything
different from what he desired. So says Thiodolf, the skald: --
"In arms 'tis right the common man
Should follow orders, one by one, --
Should stoop or rise, or run or stand,
As his war-leader may command;
But now to the king who feeds the ravens
The people bend like heartless cravens --
Nothing is left them, but consent
To what the king calls his intent."
44. OF THE QUARREL OF KING HARALD AND EINAR TAMBASKELFER.
Einar Tambaskelfer was the principal man among the bondes all
about Throndhjem, and answered for them at the Things even
against the king's men. Einar knew well the law, and did not
want boldness to bring forward his opinion at Things, even if the
king was present; and all the bondes stood by him. The king was
very angry at this, and it came so far that they disputed eagerly
against each other. Einar said that the bondes would not put up
with any unlawful proceedings from him if he broke through the
law of the land; and this occurred several times between them.
Einar then began to keep people about him at home, and he had
many more when he came into the town if the king was there. It
once happened that Einar came to the town with a great many men
and ships; he had with him eight or nine great war-ships and
nearly 500 men. When he came to the town he went up from the
strand with his attendants. King Harald was then in his house,
standing out in the gallery of the loft; and when he saw Einar's
people going on shore, it is said Harald composed these verses:
"I see great Tambaskelfer go,
With mighty pomp, and pride, and show,
Across the ebb-shore up the land, --
Before, behind, an armed band.
This bonde-leader thinks to rule,
And fill himself the royal stool.
A goodly earl I have known
With fewer followers of his own.
He who strikes fire from the shield,
Einar, may some day make us yield,
Unless our axe-edge quickly ends,
With sudden kiss, what he intends."
Einar remained several days in the town.
45. THE FALL OF EINAR AND EINDRIDE.
One day there was a meeting held in the town, at which the king
himself was present. A thief had been taken in the town, and he
was brought before the Thing. The man had before been in the
service of Einar, who had been very well satisfied with him.
This was told to Einar, and he well knew the king would not let
the man off, and more because he took an interest in the matter.
Einar, therefore, let his men get under arms, went to the Thing,
and took the man by force. The friends on both sides then came
between and endeavoured to effect a reconciliation; and they
succeeded so far that a meeting-place was appointed, to which
both should come. There was a Thing-room in the king's house at
the river Nid, and the king went into it with a few men, while
the most of his people were out in the yard. The king ordered
the shutters of the loft-opening to be turned, so that there was
but a little space left clear. When Einar came into the yard
with his people, he told his son Eindride to remain outside with
the men, "for there is no danger here for me." Eindride remained
standing outside at the room-door. When Einar came into the
Thing-room, he said, "It is dark in the king's Thing-room." At
that moment some men ran against him and assaulted him, some with
spears, some with swords. When Eindride heard this he drew his
sword and rushed into the room; but he was instantly killed along
with his father. The king's men then ran up and placed
themselves before the door, and the bondes lost courage, having
no leader. They urged each other on, indeed, and said it was a
shame they should not avenge their chief; but it came to nothing
with their attack. The king went out to his men, arrayed them in
battle order, and set up his standard: but the bondes did not
venture to assault. Then the king went with all his men on board
of his ships, rowed down the river, and then took his way out of
the fjord. When Einar's wife Bergliot, who was in the house
which Einar had possessed in the town, heard of Einar's fall, she
went immediately to the king's house where the bondes army was
and urged them to the attack; but at the same moment the king was
rowing out of the river. Then said Bergliot, "Now we want here
my relation, Hakon Ivarson: Einar's murderer would not be rowing
out of the river if Ivar stood here on the riverbank." Then
Bergliot adorned Einar's and Eindride's corpses and buried them
in Olaf's church, beside King Magnus Olafson's burial-place.
After Einar's murder the king was so much disliked for that deed
that there was nothing that prevented the lendermen and bondes
from attacking the king, and giving him battle, but the want of
some leader to raise the banner in the bonde army.
46. OF KING HARALD AND FIN ARNASON.
Fin Arnason dwelt at Austrat in Yrjar, and was King Harald's
lenderman there. Fin was married to Bergliot, a daughter of
Halfdan, who was a son of Sigurd Syr, and brother of Olaf the
Saint and of King Harald. Thora, King Harald's wife, was Fin
Arnason's brother's daughter: and Fin and all his brothers were
the king's dearest friends. Fin Arnason had been for some
summers on a viking cruise in the West sea; and Fin, Guthorm
Gunhildson and Hakon Ivarson had all been together on that
cruise. King Harald now proceeded out of Throndhjem fjord to
Austrat, where he was well received. Afterwards the king and Fin
conversed with each other about this new event of Einar's and his
son's death, and of the murmuring and threatening which the
bondes made against the king.
Fin took up the conversation briskly, and said, "Thou art
managing ill in two ways: first, in doing all manner of mischief;
and next, in being so afraid that thou knowest not what to do."
The king replied, laughing, "I will send thee, friend, into the
town to bring about a reconciliation with the bondes; and if that
will not do, thou must go to the Uplands and bring matters to
such an understanding with Hakon Ivarson that he shall not be my
Fin replies, "And how wilt thou reward me if I undertake this
dangerous errand; for both the people of Throndhjem and the
people of Upland are so great enemies to thee that it would not
be safe for any of thy messengers to come among them, unless he
were one who would be spared for his own sake?"
The king replies, "Go thou on this embassy, for I know thou wilt
succeed in it if any man can, and bring about a reconciliation;
and then choose whatever favour from us thou wilt."
Fin says, "Hold thou thy word, king, and I will choose my
petition. I will desire to have peace and safe residence in the
country for my brother Kalf, and all his estates restored; and
also that he receive all the dignity and power he had when he
left the country."
The king assented to all that Fin laid down, and it was confirmed
by witnesses and shake of hand.
Then said Fin, "What shall I offer Hakon, who rules most among
his relations in the land, to induce him to agree to a treaty and
reconciliation with thee?"
The king replies, "Thou shalt first hear what Hakon on his part
requires for making an agreement; then promote my interest as
thou art best able; and deny him nothing in the end short of the
Then King Harald proceeded southwards to More, and drew together
men in considerable numbers.
47. OF FIN ARNASON'S JOURNEY.
Fin Arnason proceeded to the town and had with him his house-
servants, nearly eighty men. When he came into the town he held
a Thing with the town's people. Fin spoke long and ably at the
Thing; and told the town's people, and bondes, above all things
not to have a hatred against their king, or to drive him away.
He reminded them of how much evil they had suffered by acting
thus against King Olaf the Saint; and added, that the king was
willing to pay penalty for this murder, according to the judgment
of understanding and good men. The effect of Fin's speech was
that the bondes promised to wait quietly until the messengers
came back whom Bergliot had sent to the Uplands to her relative,
Hakon Ivarson. Fin then went out to Orkadal with the men who had
accompanied him to the town. From thence he went up to
Dovrefield, and eastwards over the mountains. He went first to
his son-in-law, Earl Orm, who was married to Sigrid, Fin's
daughter, and told him his business.
48. OF FIN AND HAKON IVARSON.
Then Fin and Earl Orm appointed a meeting with Hakon Ivarson; and
when they met Fin explained his errand to Hakon, and the offer
which King Harald made him. It was soon seen, from Hakon's
speech, that he considered it to be his great duty to avenge the
death of his relative, Eindride; and added, that word was come to
him from Throndhjem, from which he might expect help in making
head against the king. Then Fin represented to Hakon how much
better it would be for him to accept of as high a dignity from
the king as he himself could desire, rather than to attempt
raising a strife against the king to whom he was owing service
and duty. He said if he came out of the conflict without
victory, he forfeited life and property: "And even if thou hast
the victory, thou wilt still be called a traitor to thy
sovereign." Earl Orm also supported Fin's speech. After Hakon
had reflected upon this he disclosed what lay on his mind, and
said, "I will be reconciled with King Harald if he will give me
in marriage his relation Ragnhild, King Magnus Olafson's
daughter, with such dower as is suitable to her and she will be
content with." Fin said he would agree to this on the king's
part; and thus it was settled among them. Fin then returned to
Throndhjem, and the disturbance and enmity was quashed, so that
the king could retain his kingdom in peace at home; and the
league was broken which Eindride's relations had made among
themselves for opposing King Harald.
49. OF THE COURTSHIP OF HAKON IVARSON.
When the day arrived for the meeting at which this agreement with
Harald should be finally concluded, Hakon went to King Harald;
and in their conference the king said that he, for his part,
would adhere to all that was settled in their agreement. "Thou
Hakon," says he, "must thyself settle that which concerns
Ragnhild, as to her accepting thee in marriage; for it would not
be advisable for thee, or for any one, to marry Ragnhild without
her consent." Then Hakon went to Ragnhild, and paid his
addresses to her. She answered him thus: "I have often to feel
that my father, King Magnus, is dead and gone from me, since I
must marry a bonde; although I acknowledge thou art a handsome
man, expert in all exercises. But if King Magnus had lived he
would not have married me to any man less than a king; so it is
not to be expected that I will take a man who has no dignity or
title." Then Hakon went to King Harald and told him his
conversation with Ragnhild, and also repeated the agreement which
was made between him and Fin, who was with him, together with
many others of the persons who had been present at the
conversation between him and Fin. Hakon takes them all to
witness that such was the agreement that the king should give
Ragnhild the dower she might desire. "And now since she will
have no man who has not a high dignity, thou must give me such a
title of honour; and, according to the opinion of the people, I
am of birth, family and other qualifications to be called earl."
The king replies, "When my brother, King Olaf, and his son, King
Magnus, ruled the kingdom, they allowed only one earl at a time
to be in the country, and I have done the same since I came to
the kingly title; and I will not take away from Orm the title of
honour I had before given him."
Hakon saw now that his business had not advanced, and was very
ill pleased; and Fin was outrageously angry. They said the king
had broken his word; and thus they all separated.
50. HAKON'S JOURNEY TO DENMARK.
Hakon then went out of the country with a well-manned ship. When
he came to Denmark he went immediately to his relative, King
Svein, who received him honourably and gave him great fiefs.
Hakon became King Svein's commander of the coast defence against
the vikings, -- the Vindland people, Kurland people, and others
from the East countries, -- who infested the Danish dominions;
and he lay out with his ships of war both winter and summer.
51. MURDER OF ASMUND.
There was a man called Asmund, who is said to have been King
Svein's sister's son, and his foster-son. This Asmund was
distinguished among all by his boldness and was much disliked by
the king. When Asmund came to years, and to age of discretion,
he became an ungovernable person given to murder and
manslaughter. The king was ill pleased at this, and sent him
away, giving him a good fief, which might keep him and his
followers well. As soon as Asmund had got this property from the
king he drew together a large troop of people; and as the estate
he had got from the king was not sufficient for his expenses he
took as his own much more which belonged to the king. When the
king heard this he summoned Asmund to him, and when they met the
king said that Asmund should remain with the court without
keeping any retinue of his own; and this took place as the king
desired. But when Asmund had been a little time in the king's
court he grew weary of being there, and escaped in the night,
returned to his former companions and did more mischief than
ever. Now when the king was riding through the country he came
to the neighbourhood where Asmund was, and he sent out men-at-
arms to seize him. The king then had him laid in irons, and kept
him so for some time in hope he would reform; but no sooner did
Asmund get rid of his chains than he absconded again, gathered
together people and men-at-arms and betook himself to plunder,
both abroad and at home. Thus he made great forays, killing and
plundering all around. When the people who suffered under these
disturbances came to the king and complained to him of their
losses, he replied, "Why do ye tell me of this? Why don't you go
to Hakon Ivarson, who is my officer for the land-defence, placed
on purpose to keep the peace for you peasants, and to hold the
vikings in check? I was told that Hakon was a gallant and brave
man, but I think he is rather shy when any danger of life is in
the way." These words of the king were brought to Hakon, with
many additions. Then Hakon went with his men in search of
Asmund, and when their ships met Hakon gave battle immediately --
and the conflict was sharp, and many men were killed. Hakon
boarded Asmund's ship and cut down the men before his feet. At
last he and Asmund met and exchanged blows until Asmund fell.
Hakon cut off his head, went in all haste to King Svein and found
him just sitting down to the dinner-table. Hakon presented
himself before the table, laid Asmund's head upon the table
before the king, and asked if he knew it. The king made no
reply, but became as red as blood in the face. Soon after the
king sent him a message, ordering him to leave his service
immediately. "Tell him I will do him no harm; but I cannot keep
watch over all our relations (1).
(1) This incident shows how strong, in those ages, was the tie
of relationship, and the point of honour of avenging its
injuries -- the clanship spirit. -- L.
52. HAKON IVARSON'S MARRIAGE.
Hakon then left Denmark, and came north to his estates in Norway.
His relation Earl Orm was dead. Hakon's relations and friends
were glad to see Hakon, and many gallant men gave themselves much
trouble to bring about a reconciliation between King Harald and
Hakon. It was at last settled in this way, that Hakon got
Ragnhild, the king's daughter, and that King Harald gave Hakon
the earldom, with the same power Earl Orm had possessed. Hakon
swore to King Harald an oath of fidelity to all the services he
was liable to fulfill.
53. RECONCILIATION OF KING HARALD AND KALF.
Kalf Arnason had been on a viking cruise to the Western countries
ever since he had left Norway; but in winter he was often in the
Orkney Islands with his relative, Earl Thorfin. Fin Arnason sent
a message to his brother Kalf, and told him the agreement which
he had made with King Harald, that Kalf should enjoy safety in
Norway, and his estates, and all the fiefs he had held from King
Magnus. When this message came to Kalf he immediately got ready
for his voyage, and went east to Norway to his brother Fin. Then
Fin obtained the king's peace for Kalf, and when Kalf and the
king met they went into the agreement which Fin and the king had
settled upon before. Kalf bound himself to the king in the same
way as he had bound himself to serve King Magnus, according to
which Kalf should do all that the king desired and considered of
advantage to his realm. Thereupon Kalf received all the estates
and fiefs he had before.
54. FALL OF KALF ARNASON.
The summer following (A.D. 1050) King Harald ordered out a levy,
and went to Denmark, where he plundered during the summer; but
when he came south to Fyen he found a great force assembled
against him. Then the king prepared to land his men from the
ships and to engage in a land-fight. He drew up his men on board
in order of battle; set Kalf Arnason at the head of one division;
ordered him to make the first attack, and told him where they
should direct their assault, promising that he would soon make a
landing with the others, and come to their assistance. When Kalf
came to the land with his men a force came down immediately to
oppose them, and Kalf without delay engaged in battle, which,
however, did not last long; for Kalf was immediately overpowered
by numbers, and betook himself to flight with his men. The Danes
pursued them vigorously, and many of the Northmen fell, and among
them Kalf Arnason. Now King Harald landed with his array; and
they soon came on their way to the field of battle, where they
found Kalf's body, and bore it down to the ships. But the king
penetrated into the country, killing many people and destroying
much. So says Arnor: --
"His shining sword with blood he stains,
Upon Fyona's grassy plains;
And in the midst of fire and smoke,
The king Fyona's forces broke."
55. FIN ARNASON'S EXPEDITION OUT OF THE COUNTRY.
After this Fin Arnason thought he had cause to be an enemy of the
king upon account of his brother Kalf's death; and said the king
had betrayed Kalf to his fall, and had also deceived him by
making him entice his brother Kalf to come over from the West and
trust to King Harald's faith. When these speeches came out among
people, many said that it was very foolish in Fin to have ever
supposed that Kalf could obtain the king's sincere friendship and
favour; for they thought the king was the man to seek revenge for
smaller offences than Kalf had committed against the king. The
king let every one say what he chose, and he himself neither said
yes or no about the affair; but people perceived that the king
was very well pleased with what had happened. King Harald once
made these verses: --
"I have, in all, the death-stroke given
To foes of mine at least eleven;
Two more, perhaps, if I remember,
May yet be added to this number,
I prize myself upon these deeds,
My people such examples needs.
Bright gold itself they would despise,
Or healing leek-herb underprize,
If not still brought before their eyes."
Fin Arnason took the business so much to heart that he left the
country and went to Denmark to King Svein, where he met a
friendly reception. They spoke together in private for a long
time; and the end of the business was that Fin went into King
Svein's service, and became his man. King Svein then gave Fin an
earldom, and placed him in Halland, where he was long earl and
defended the country against the Northmen.
56. OF GUTHORM GUNHILDSON.
Ketil Kalf and Gunhild of Ringanes had a son called Guthorm, and
he was a sister's son to King Olaf and Harald Sigurdson. Guthorm
was a gallant man, early advanced to manhood. He was often with
King Harald, who loved him much, and asked his advice; for he was
of good understanding, and very popular. Guthorm had also been
engaged early in forays, and had marauded much in the Western
countries with a large force. Ireland was for him a land of
peace; and he had his winter quarters often in Dublin, and was in
great friendship with King Margad.
57. GUTHORM'S JUNCTION WITH THE IRISH KING MARGAD.
The summer after King Margad, and Guthorm with him, went out on
an expedition against Bretland, where they made immense booty.
But when the king saw the quantity of silver which was gathered
he wanted to have the whole booty, and regarded little his
friendship for Guthorm. Guthorm was ill pleased that he and his
men should be robbed of their share; but the king said, "Thou
must choose one of two things, -- either to be content with what
we determine, or to fight; and they shall have the booty who gain
the victory; and likewise thou must give up thy ships, for them I
will have." Guthorm thought there were great difficulties on
both sides; for it was disgraceful to give up ships and goods
without a stroke, and yet it was highly dangerous to fight the
king and his force, the king having sixteen ships and Guthorm
only five. Then Guthorm desired three days' time to consider the
matter with his people, thinking in that time to pacify the king,
and come to a better understanding with him through the mediation
of others; but he could not obtain from the king what he desired.
This was the day before St. Olaf's day. Guthorm chose the
condition that they would rather die or conquer like men, than
suffer disgrace, contempt and scorn, by submitting to so great a
loss. He called upon God, and his uncle Saint Olaf, and
entreated their help and aid; promising to give to the holy man's
house the tenth of all the booty that fell to their share, if
they gained the victory. Then he arranged his men, placed them
in battle order against the great force, prepared for battle, and
gave the assault. By the help of God, and the holy Saint Olaf,
Guthorm won the battle. King Margad fell, and every man, old and
young, who followed him; and after that great victor, Guthorm and
all his people returned home joyfully with all the booty they had
gained by the battle. Every tenth penny of the booty they had
made was taken, according to the vow, to King Olaf the Saint's
shrine; and there was so much silver that Guthorm had an image
made of it, with rays round the head, which was the size of his
own, or of his forecastle-man's head; and the image was seven
feet high. The image thus produced was given by Guthorm to King
Olaf of the Saint's temple, where it has since remained as a
memorial of Guthorm's victory and King Olaf the Saint's miracle.
58. MIRACLE OF KING OLAF IN DENMARK.
There was a wicked, evil-minded count in Denmark who had a
Norwegian servant-girl whose family belonged to Throndhjem
district. She worshipped King Olaf the Saint, and believed
firmly in his sanctity. But the above mentioned count doubted
all that was told of the holy man's miracles, insisted that it
was nothing but nonsense and idle talk, and made a joke and scorn
of the esteem and honour which all the country people showed the
good king. Now when his holyday came, on which the mild monarch
ended his life, and which all Northmen kept sacred, this
unreasonable count would not observe it, but ordered his servant-
girl to bake and put fire in the oven that day. She knew well
the count's mad passion, and that he would revenge himself
severely on her if she refused doing as he ordered. She went,
therefore, of necessity, and baked in the oven, but wept much at
her work; and she threatened King Olaf that she never would
believe in him, if he did not avenge this misdeed by some
mischance or other. And now shall ye come to hear a well-
deserved vengeance, and a true miracle. It happened, namely, in
the same hour that the count became blind of both eyes, and the
bread which she had shoved into the oven was turned into stone!
Of these stones some are now in St. Olaf's temple, and in other
places; and since that time O1afsmas has been always held holy in
59. KING OLAF'S MIRACLE ON A CRIPPLE.
West in Valland, a man had such bad health that he became a
cripple, and went on his knees and elbows. One day he was upon
the road, and had fallen asleep. He dreamt that a gallant man
came up to him and asked him where he was going. When he named
the neighbouring town, the man said to him, "Go to Saint Olaf's
church that stands in London, and there thou shalt be cured."
There-upon he awoke, and went straightway to inquire the road to
Olaf's church in London. At last he came to London Bridge, and
asked the men of the castle if they could tell him where Olaf's
church was; but they replied, there were so many churches that
they could not tell to whom each of them was consecrated. Soon
after a man came up and asked him where he wanted to go, and he
answered to Olaf's church. Then said the man, "We shall both go
together to Olaf's church, for I know the way to it." Thereupon
they went over the bridge to the shrine where Olaf's church was;
and when they came to the gates of the churchyard the man mounted
over the half-door that was in the gate, but the cripple rolled
himself in, and rose up immediately sound and strong: when he
looked about him his conductor had vanished.
60. KING HARALD'S FORAY IN DENMARK.
King Harald had built a merchant town in the East at Oslo, where
he often resided; for there was good supply from the extensive
cultivated district wide around. There also he had a convenient
station to defend the country against the Danes, or to make an
attack upon Denmark, which he was in the custom of doing often,
although he kept no great force on foot. One summer King Harald
went from thence with a few light ships and a few men. He
steered southwards out from Viken, and, when the wind served,
stood over to Jutland, and marauded; but the country people
collected and defended the country. Then King Harald steered to
Limfjord, and went into the fjord. Limfjord is so formed that
its entrance is like a narrow river; but when one gets farther
into the fjord it spreads out into a wide sea. King Harald
marauded on both sides of the land; and when the Danes gathered
together on every side to oppose him, he lay at a small island
which was uncultivated. They wanted drink on board his ships,
and went up into the island to seek water; but finding none, they
reported it to the king. He ordered them to look for some long
earthworms on the island, and when they found one they brought it
to the king. He ordered the people to bring the worm to a fire,
and bake it before it, so that it should be thirsty. Then he
ordered a thread to be tied round the tail of the worm, and to
let it loose. The worm crept away immediately, while thread
wound off from the clew as the worm took it away; and the people
followed the worm until it sought downwards in the earth. There
the king ordered them to dig for water, which they did, and found
so much water that they had no want of it. King Harald now heard
from his spies that King Svein was come with a large armament to
the mouth of the fjord; but that it was too late for him to come
into it, as only one ship at a time can come in. King Harald
then steered with his fleet in through the fjord to where it was
broadest to a place called Lusbreid. In the inmost bight, there
is but a narrow neck of land dividing the fjord from the West
sea. Thither King Harald rowed with his men towards evening; and
at night when it was dark he unloaded his ships, drew them over
the neck of land into the West sea, loaded them again, and was
ready with all this before day. He then steered northwards along
the Jutland coast. People then said that Harald had escaped from
the hands of the Danes. Harald said that he would come to
Denmark next time with more people and larger vessels. King
Harald then proceeded north to Throndhjem.
61. KING HARALD HAD A SHIP BUILT.
King Harald remained all winter at Nidaros (A.D. 1062) and had a
vessel built out upon the strand, and it was a buss. The ship
was built of the same size as the Long Serpent, and every part of
her was finished with the greatest care. On the stem was a
dragon-head, and on the stern a dragon-tail, and the sides of the
bows of the ship were gilt. The vessel was of thirty-five rowers
benches, and was large for that size, and was remarkably
handsome; for the king had everything belonging to the ship's
equipment of the best, both sails and rigging, anchors and
cables. King Harald sent a message in winter south to Denmark to
King Svein, that he should come northwards in spring; that they
should meet at the Gaut river and fight, and so settle the
division of the countries that the one who gained the victory
should have both kingdoms.
62. KING HARALD'S CHALLENGE.
King Harald during this winter called out a general levy of all
the people of Norway, and assembled a great force towards spring.
Then Harald had his great ship drawn down and put into the river
Nid, and set up the dragon's head on her. Thiodolf, the skald,
sang about it thus: --
"My lovely girl! the sight was grand
When the great war-ships down the strand
Into the river gently slid,
And all below her sides was hid.
Come, lovely girl, and see the show! --
Her sides that on the water glow,
Her serpent-head with golden mane,
All shining back from the Nid again."
Then King Harald rigged out his ship, got ready for sea, and when
he had all in order went out of the river. His men rowed very
skilfully and beautifully. So says Thiodolf: --
"It was upon a Saturday,
Ship-tilts were struck and stowed away,
And past the town our dragon glides,
That girls might see our glancing sides.
Out from the Nid brave Harald steers;
Westward at first the dragon veers;
Our lads together down with oars,
The splash is echoed round the shores.
"Their oars our king's men handle well,
One stroke is all the eye can tell:
All level o'er the water rise;
The girls look on in sweet surprise.
Such things, they think, can ne'er give way;
The little know the battle day.
The Danish girls, who dread our shout,
Might wish our ship-gear not so stout.
"'Tis in the fight, not on the wave,
That oars may break and fail the brave.
At sea, beneath the ice-cold sky,
Safely our oars o'er ocean ply;
And when at Throndhjem's holy stream
Our seventy cars in distance gleam,
We seem, while rowing from the sea,
An erne with iron wings to be."
King Harald sailed south along the land, and called out the levy
everywhere of men and ships. When they came east to Viken they
got a strong wind against them and the forces lay dispersed about
in the harbour; some in the isles outside, and some in the
fjords. So says Thiodolf: --
"The cutters' sea-bleached bows scarce find
A shelter from the furious wind
Under the inland forests' side,
Where the fjord runs its farthest tide.
In all the isles and creeks around
The bondes' ships lie on the ground,
And ships with gunwales hung with shields
Seek the lee-side of the green fields."
In the heavy storm that raged for some time the great ship had
need of good ground tackle. So says Thiodolf: --
"With lofty bow above the seas,
Which curl and fly before the breeze,
The gallant vessel rides and reels,
And every plunge her cable feels.
The storm that tries the spar and mast
Tries the main-anchor at the last:
The storm above, below the rock,
Chafe the thick cable with each shock."
When the weather became favourable King Harald sailed eastwards
to the Gaut river with his fleet and arrived there in the
evening. So says Thiodolf: --
"The gallant Harald now has come
To Gaut, full half way from his home,
And on the river frontier stands,
To fight with Svein for life and lands.
The night passed o'er, the gallant king
Next day at Thumia calls a Thing,
Where Svein is challenged to appear --
A day which ravens wish were near."
63. OF KING HARALD'S FLEET.
When the Danes heard that the Northmen's army was come to the
Gaut river they all fled who had opportunity to get away. The
Northmen heard that the Danish king had also called out his
forces and lay in the south, partly at Fyen and partly about
Seeland. When King Harald found that King Svein would not hold a
meeting with him, or a fight, according to what had been agreed
upon between them, he took the same course as before -- letting
the bonde troops return home, but manning 150 ships, with which
he sailed southwards along Halland, where he herried all round,
and then brought up with his fleet in Lofufjord, and laid waste
the country. A little afterwards King Svein came upon them with
all the Danish fleet, consisting of 300 ships. When the Northmen
saw them King Harald ordered a general meeting of the fleet to be
called by sound of trumpet; and many there said it was better to
fly, as it was not now advisable to fight. The king replied,
"Sooner shall all lie dead one upon another than fly." So says
Stein Herdison: --
"With falcon eye, and courage bright,
Our king saw glory in the fight;
To fly, he saw, would ruin bring
On them and him -- the folk and king.
`Hands up the arms to one and all!'
Cries out the king; `we'll win or fall!
Sooner than fly, heaped on each other
Each man shall fall across his brother!'"
Then King Harald drew up his ships to attack, and brought forward
his great dragon in the middle of his fleet. So says Thiodolf:
"The brave king through his vessels' throng
His dragon war-ship moves along;
He runs her gaily to the front,
To meet the coming battle's brunt."
The ship was remarkably well equipt, and fully manned. So says
"The king had got a chosen crew --
He told his brave lads to stand true.
The ring of shields seemed to enclose
The ship's deck from the boarding foes.
The dragon, on the Nis-river flood,
Beset with men, who thickly stood,
Shield touching shield, was something rare,
That seemed all force of man to dare."
Ulf, the marshal, laid his ship by the side of the king's and
ordered his men to bring her well forward. Stein Herdison, who
was himself in Ulf's ship, sings of it thus: --
"Our oars were stowed, our lances high,
As the ship moved swung in the sky.
The marshal Ulf went through our ranks,
Drawn up beside the rowers' banks:
The brave friend of our gallant king
Told us our ship well on to bring,
And fight like Norsemen in the cause --
Our Norsemen answered with huzzas."
Hakon Ivarson lay outside on the other wing, and had many ships
with him, all well equipt. At the extremity of the other side
lay the Throndhjem chiefs, who had also a great and strong force.
64. OF KING SVEIN'S ARMAMENT.
Svein, the Danish king, also drew up his fleet, and laid his ship
forward in the center against King Harald's ship, and Fin Arnason
laid his ship next; and then the Danes laid their ships,
according as they were bold or well-equipt. Then, on both sides,
they bound the ships together all through the middle of the
fleets; but as the fleets were so large, very many ships remained
loose, and each laid his ship forward according to his courage,
and that was very unequal. Although the difference among the men
was great, altogether there was a very great force on both sides.
King Svein had six earls among the people following him. So says
Stein Herdison: --
"Danger our chief would never shun,
With eight score ships he would not run:
The Danish fleet he would abide,
And give close battle side by side.
From Leire's coast the Danish king
Three hundred ocean steeds could bring,
And o'er the sea-weed plain in haste
Thought Harald's vessels would be chased."
65. BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE OF NIS-RIVER.
As soon as King Harald was ready with his fleet, he orders the
war-blast to sound, and the men to row forward to the attack. So
says Stein Herdison: --
"Harald and Svein first met as foes,
Where the Nis in the ocean flows;
For Svein would not for peace entreat,
But, strong in ships, would Harald meet.
The Norsemen prove, with sword in hand,
That numbers cannot skill withstand.
Off Halland's coast the blood of Danes
The blue sea's calm smooth surface stains."
Soon the battle began, and became very sharp; both kings urging
on their men. So says Stein Herdison: --
"Our king, his broad shield disregarding,
More keen for striking than for warding,
Now tells his lads their spears to throw, --
Now shows them where to strike a blow.
From fleet to fleet so short the way,
That stones and arrows have full play;
And from the keen sword dropped the blood
Of short-lived seamen in the flood."
It was late in the day when the battle began, and it continued
the whole night. King Harald shot for a long time with his bow.
So says Thiodolf: --
"The Upland king was all the night
Speeding the arrows' deadly flight.
All in the dark his bow-string's twang
Was answered; for some white shield rang,
Or yelling shriek gave certain note
The shaft had pierced some ring-mail coat,
The foemen's shields and bulwarks bore
A Lapland arrow-scat(1) or more."
Earl Hakon, and the people who followed him, did not make fast
their ships in the fleet, but rowed against the Danish ships that
were loose, and slew the men of all the ships they came up with.
When the Danes observed this each drew his ship out of the way of
the earl; but he set upon those who were trying to escape, and
they were nearly driven to flight. Then a boat came rowing to
the earl's ship and hailed him and said that the other wing of
King Harald's fleet was giving way and many of their people had
fallen. Then the earl rowed thither and gave so severe an
assault that the Danes had to retreat before him. The earl went
on in this way all the night, coming forward where he was most
wanted, and wheresoever he came none could stand against him.
Hakon rowed outside around the battle. Towards the end of the
night the greatest part of the Danish fleet broke into flight,
for then King Harald with his men boarded the vessel of King
Svein; and it was so completely cleared that all the crew fell in
the ship, except those who sprang overboard. So says Arnor, the
earls' skald: --
"Brave Svein did not his vessel leave
Without good cause, as I believe:
Oft on his casque the sword-blade rang,
Before into the sea he sprang.
Upon the wave his vessel drives;
All his brave crew had lost their lives.
O'er dead courtmen into the sea
The Jutland king had now to flee."
And when King Svein's banner was cut down, and his ship cleared
of its crew, all his forces took to flight, and some were killed.
The ships which were bound together could not be cast loose, so
the people who were in them sprang overboard, and some got to the
other ships that were loose; and all King Svein's men who could
get off rowed away, but a great many of them were slain. Where
the king himself fought the ships were mostly bound together, and
there were more than seventy left behind of King Svein's vessels.
So says Thiodolf: --
"Svein's ships rode proudly o'er the deep,
When, by a single sudden sweep,
Full seventy sail, as we are told,
Were seized by Norway's monarch bold."
King Harald rowed after the Danes and pursued them; but that was
not easy, for the ships lay so thick together that they scarcely
could move. Earl Fin Arnason would not flee; and being also
shortsighted, was taken prisoner. So says Thiodolf: --
"To the six Danish earls who came
To aid his force, and raise his name,
No mighty thanks King Svein is owing
For mighty actions of their doing.
Fin Arnason, in battle known,
With a stout Norse heart of his own,
Would not take flight his life to gain,
And in the foremost ranks was ta'en."
(1) The Laplanders paid their seat, or yearly tax, in bows and
arrows; and the meaning of the skald appears to be, that as
many as were paid in a year were shot at the foe. -- L.
66. KING SVEIN'S FLIGHT.
Earl Hakon lay behind with his ships, while the king and the rest
of the forces were pursuing the fugitives; for the earls' ships
could not get forward on account of the ships which lay in the
way before him. Then a man came rowing in a boat to the earl's
ship and lay at the bulwarks. The man was stout and had on a
white hat. He hailed the ship, "Where is the earl?" said he.
The earl was in the fore-hold, stopping a man's blood. The earl
cast a look at the man in the hat and asked what his name was.
He answered, "Here is Vandrad: speak to me, earl."
The earl leant over the ship's side to him. Then the man in the
boat said, "Earl, I will accept of my life from thee, if thou
wilt give it."
Then the earl raised himself up, called two men who were friends
dear to him, and said to them, "Go into the boat; bring Vandrad
to the land; attend him to my friend's Karl the bonde; and tell
Karl, as a token that these words come from me, that he let
Vandrad have the horse which I gave to him yesterday, and also
his saddle, and his son to attend him."
Thereupon they went into the boat and took the oars in hand,
while Vandrad steered. This took place just about daybreak,
while the vessels were in movement, some rowing towards the land,
some towards the sea, both small and great. Vandrad steered
where he thought there was most room between the vessels; and
when they came near to Norway's ships the earl's men gave their
names and then they all allowed them to go where they pleased.
Vandrad steered along the shore, and only set in towards the land
when they had come past the crowd of ships. They then went up to
Karl the bonde's farm, and it was then beginning to be light.
They went into the room where Karl had just put on his clothes.
The earl's men told him their message and Karl said they must
first take some food; and he set a table before them and gave
them water to wash with.
Then came the housewife into the room and said, "I wonder why we
could get no peace or rest all night with the shouting and
Karl replies, "Dost thou not know that the kings were fighting
She asked which had the better of it.
Karl answered, "The Northmen gained."
"Then," said she, "our king will have taken flight."
"Nobody knows," says Karl, "whether he has fled or is fallen."
She says, "What a useless sort of king we have! He is both slow
Then said Vandrad, "Frightened he is not; but he is not lucky."
Then Vandrad washed his hands; but he took the towel and dried
them right in the middle of the cloth. The housewife snatched
the towel from him, and said, "Thou hast been taught little good;
it is wasteful to wet the whole cloth at one time.
Vandrad replies, "I may yet come so far forward in the world as
to be able to dry myself with the middle of the towel."
Thereupon Karl set a table before them and Vandrad sat down
between them. They ate for a while and then went out. The horse
was saddled and Karl's son ready to follow him with another
horse. They rode away to the forest; and the earl's men returned
to the boat, rowed to the earl's ship and told the success of
67. OF KING HARALD.
King Harald and his men followed the fugitives only a short way,
and rowed back to the place where the deserted ships lay. Then
the battle-place was ransacked, and in King Svein's ship was
found a heap of dead men; but the king's body was not found,
although people believed for certain that he had fallen. Then
King Harald had the greatest attention paid to the dead of his
men, and had the wounds of the living bound up. The dead bodies
of Svein's men were brought to the land, and he sent a message to
the peasants to come and bury them. Then he let the booty be
divided, and this took up some time. The news came now that King
Svein had come to Seeland, and that all who had escaped from the
battle had joined him, along with many more, and that he had a
68. FIN ARNASON GETS QUARTER.
Earl Fin Arnason was taken prisoner in the battle, as before
related; and when he was led before King Harald the king was very
merry, and said, "Fin, we meet here now, and we met last in
Norway. The Danish court has not stood very firmly by thee; and
it will be a troublesome business for Northmen to drag thee, a
blind old man, with them, and preserve thy life."
The earl replies, "The Northmen find it very difficult now to
conquer, and it is all the worse that thou hast the command of
Then said King Harald, "Wilt thou accept of life and safety,
although thou hast not deserved it?"
The earl replies, "Not from thee, thou dog."
The king: "Wilt thou, then, if thy relation Magnus gives thee
Magnus, King Harald's son, was then steering the ship.
The earl replies, "Can the whelp rule over life and quarter?"
The king laughed, as if he found amusement in vexing him. --
"Wilt thou accept thy life, then, from thy she-relation Thorer?"
The earl: "Is she here?"
"She is here," said the king.
Then Earl Fin broke out with the ugly expressions which since
have been preserved, as a proof that he was so mad with rage that
he could not govern his tongue: --
"No wonder thou hast bit so strongly, if the mare was with thee."
Earl Fin got life and quarter and the king kept him a while about
him. But Fin was rather melancholy and obstinate in
conversation; and King Harald said, "I see, Fin, that thou dost
not live willingly in company with me and thy relations; now I
will give thee leave to go to thy friend King Svein."
The earl said, "I accept of the offer willingly, and the more
gratefully the sooner I get away from hence."
The king afterwards let Earl Fin be landed and the traders going
to Halland received him well. King Harald sailed from thence to
Norway with his fleet; and went first to Oslo, where he gave all
his people leave to go home who wished to do so.
69. OF KING SVEIN.
King Svein, it is told, sat in Denmark all that winter, and had
his kingdom as formerly. In winter he sent men north to Halland
for Karl the bonde and his wife. When Karl came the king called
him to him and asked him if he knew him, or thought he had ever
seen him before.
Karl replies, "I know thee, sire, and knew thee before, the
moment I saw thee; and God be praised if the small help I could
give was of any use to thee."
The king replies, "I have to reward thee for all the days I have
to live. And now, in the first place, I will give thee any farm
in Seeland thou wouldst desire to have; and, in the next place,
will make thee a great man, if thou knowest how to conduct
Karl thanked the king for his promise, and said he had now but
one thing to ask.
The king asked what that was.
Karl said that he would ask to take his wife with him.
The king said, "I will not let thee do that; but I will provide
thee a far better and more sensible wife. But thy wife can keep
the bonde-farm ye had before and she will have her living from
The king gave Karl a great and valuable farm, and provided him a
good marriage; and he became a considerable man. This was
reported far and wide and much praised; and thus it came to be
told in Norway.
70. OF THE TALK OF THE COURT-MEN.
King Harald stayed in Oslo the winter after the battle at Nis-
river (A.D. 1063). In autumn, when the men came from the south,
there was much talk and many stories about the battle which they
had fought at Nis-river, and every one who had been there thought
he could tell something about it. Once some of them sat in a
cellar and drank, and were very merry and talkative. They talked
about the Nis-river battle, and who had earne'd the greatest
praise and renown. They all agreed that no man there had been at
all equal to Earl Hakon. He was the boldest in arms, the
quickest, and the most lucky; what he did was of the greatest
help, and he won the battle. King Harald, in the meantime, was
out in the yard, and spoke with some people. He went then to the
room-door, and said, "Every one here would willingly be called
Hakon;" and then went his way.
71. OF THE ATTEMPT TO TAKE EARL HAKON.
Earl Hakon went in winter to the Uplands, and was all winter in
his domains. He was much beloved by all the Uplanders. It
happened, towards spring, that some men were sitting drinking in
the town, and the conversation turned, as usual, on the Nis-river
battle; and some praised Earl Hakon, and some thought others as
deserving of praise as he. When they had thus disputed a while,
one of them said, "It is possible that others fought as bravely
as the earl at Nis-river; but none, I think, has had such luck
with him as he."
The others replied, that his best luck was his driving so many
Danes to flight along with other men.
The same man replied, "It was greater luck that he gave King
One of the company said to him, "Thou dost not know what thou art
He replied, "I know it for certain, for the man told me himself
who brought the king to the land."
It went, according to the old proverb, that the king has many
ears. This was told the king, and he immediately ordered horses
to be gathered, and rode away directly with 900 men. He rode all
that night and the following day. Then some men met them who
were riding to the town with mead and malt. In the king's
retinue was a man called Gamal, who rode to one of these bondes
who was an acquaintance of his, and spoke to him privately. "I
will pay thee," said he, "to ride with the greatest speed, by the
shortest private paths that thou knowest, to Earl Hakon, and tell
him the king will kill him; for the king has got to the knowledge
that Earl Hakon set King Svein on shore at Nis-river." They
agreed on the payment. The bonde rode, and came to the earl just
as he was sitting drinking, and had not yet gone to bed. When
the bonde told his errand, the earl immediately stood up with all
his men, had all his loose property removed from the farm to the
forest, and all the people left the house in the night. When the
king came he halted there all night; but Hakon rode away, and
came east to Svithjod to King Steinkel and stayed with him all
summer. King Harald returned to the town, travelled northwards
to Throndhjem district, and remained there all summer; but in
autumn he returned eastwards to Viken.
72. OF EARL HAKON.
As soon as Earl Hakon heard the king had gone north he returned
immediately in summer to the Uplands (A.D. 1063), and remained
there until the king had returned from the north. Then the earl
went east into Vermaland, where he remained during the winter,
and where the king, Steinkel, gave him fiefs. For a short time
in winter he went west to Raumarike with a great troop of men
from Gautland and Vermaland, and received the scat and duties
from the Upland people which belonged to him, and then returned
to Glutland, and remained there till spring. King Harald had his
seat in Oslo all winter (A.D. 1064), and sent his men to the
Uplands to demand the scat, together with the king's land dues,
and the mulcts of court; but the Uplanders said they would pay
all the scat and dues which they had to pay, to Earl Hakon as
long as he was in life, and had forfeited his life or his fief;
and the king got no dues that winter.
73. AGREEMENT BETWEEN KING HARALD AND KING SVEIN.
This winter messengers and ambassadors went between Norway and
Denmark, whose errand was that both Northmen and Danes should
make peace, and a league with each other. and to ask the kings to
agree to it. These messages gave favourable hopes of a peace;
and the matter proceeded so far that a meeting for peace was
appointed at the Gaut river between King Harald and King Svein.
When spring approached, both kings assembled many ships and
people for this meeting. So says a skald in a poem on this
expedition of the kings, which begins thus: --
"The king, who from the northern sound
His land with war-ships girds around,
The raven-feeder, filled the coast
With his proud ships, a gallant host!
The gold-tipped stems dash through the foam
That shakes the seamen's planked home;
The high wave breaks up to the mast,
As west of Halland on they passed,
"Harald whose word is fixed and sure,
Whose ships his land from foes secure,
And Svein, whose isles maintain is fleet,
Hasten as friends again to meet;
And every creek with vessels teems, --
All Denmark men and shipping seems;
And all rejoice that strife will cease,
And men meet now but to make peace."
Here it is told that the two kings held the meeting that was
agreed upon between them, and both came to the frontiers of their
kingdoms. So says the skald: --
"To meet (since peace the Dane now craves)
On to the south upon the waves
Sailed forth our gallant northern king,
Peace to the Danes with him to bring.
Svein northward to his frontier hies
To get the peace his people prize,
And meet King Harald, whom he finds
On land hard used by stormy winds."
When the kings found each other, people began at once to talk of
their being reconciled. But as soon as peace was proposed, many
began to complain of the damage they had sustained by harrying,
robbing and killing men; and for a long time it did not look very
like peace. It is here related: --
"Before this meeting of the kings
Each bende his own losses brings,
And loudly claims some recompense
From his king's foes, at their expense.
It is not easy to make peace,
Where noise and talking never cease:
The bondes' warmth may quickly spread,
And kings be by the people led.
"When kings are moved, no peace is sure;
For that peace only is secure
Which they who make it fairly make, --
To each side give, from each side take.
The kings will often rule but ill
Who listen to the people's will:
The people often have no view
But their own interests to pursue."
At last the best men, and those who were the wisest, came between
the kings, and settled the peace thus: -- that Harald should have
Norway, and Svein Denmark, according to the boundaries of old
established between Denmark and Norway; neither of them should
pay to the other for any damage sustained; the war should cease
as it now stood, each retaining what he had got; and this peace
should endure as long as they were kings. This peace was
confirmed by oath. Then the kings parted, having given each
other hostages, as is here related: --
"And I have heard that to set fast
The peace God brought about at last,
Svein and stern Harald pledges sent,
Who witnessed to their sworn intent;
And much I wish that they and all
In no such perjury may fall
That this peace ever should be broken,
And oaths should fail before God spoken."
King Harald with his people sailed northwards to Norway, and King
Svein southwards to Denmark.
74. KING HARALD'S BATTLE WITH EARL HAKON.
King Harald was in Viken in the summer (A.D. 1064), and he sent
his men to the Uplands after the scat and duty which belonged to
him; but the bondes paid no attention to the demand, but said
they would hold all for Earl Hakon until he came for it. Earl
Hakon was then up in Gautland with a large armed force. When
summer was past King Harald went south to Konungahella. Then he
took all the light-sailing vessels he could get hold of and
steered up the river. He had the vessels drawn past all the
waterfalls and brought them thus into the Wener lake. Then he
rowed eastward across the lake to where he heard Earl Hakon was;
but when the earl got news of the king's expedition he retreated
down the country, and would not let the king plunder the land.
Earl Hakon had a large armed force which the Gautland people had
raised for him. King Harald lay with his ships up in a river,
and made a foray on land, but left some of his men behind to
protect the ships. The king himself rode up with a part of the
men, but the greater part were on foot. They had to cross a
forest, where they found a mire or lake, and close to it a wood;
and when they reached the wood they saw the earl's men, but the
mire was between them. They drew up their people now on both
sides. Then King Harald ordered his men to sit down on the
hillside. "We will first see if they will attack us. Earl Hakon
does not usually wait to talk." It was frosty weather, with some
snow-drift, and Harald's men sat down under their shields; but it
was cold for the Gautlanders, who had but little clothing with
them. The earl told them to wait until King Harald came nearer,
so that all would stand equally high on the ground. Earl Hakon
had the same banner which had belonged to King Magnus Olafson.
The lagman of the Gautland people, Thorvid, sat upon a horse, and
the bridle was fastened to a stake that stood in the mire. He
broke out with these words: "God knows we have many brave and
handsome fellows here, and we shall let King Steinkel hear that
we stood by the good earl bravely. I am sure of one thing: we
shall behave gallantly against these Northmen, if they attack us;
but if our young people give way, and should not stand to it, let
us not run farther than to that stream; but if they should give
way farther, which I am sure they will not do, let it not be
farther than to that hill." At that instant the Northmen sprang
up, raised the war-cry, and struck on their shields; and the
Gautland army began also to shout. The lagman's horse got shy
with the war-cry, and backed so hard that the stake flew up and
struck the lagman on the head. He said, "Ill luck to thee,
Northman, for that arrow!" and away fled the lagman. King Harald
had told his people, "If we do make a clash with the weapons, we
shall not however, go down from the hill until they come nearer
to us;" and they did so. When the war-cry was raised the earl
let his banner advance; but when they came under the hill the
king's army rushed down upon them, and killed some of the earl's
people, and the rest fled. The Northmen did not pursue the
fugitives long, for it was the fall of day; but they took Earl
Hakon's banner and all the arms and clothes they could get hold
of. King Harald had both the banners carried before him as they
marched away. They spoke among themselves that the earl had
probably fallen. As they were riding through the forest they
could only ride singly, one following the other. Suddenly a man
came full gallop across the path, struck his spear through him
who was carrying the earl's banner, seized the banner-staff, and
rode into the forest on the other side with the banner. When
this was told the king he said, "Bring me my armour, for the earl
is alive." Then the king rode to his ships in the night; and
many said that the earl had now taken his revenge. But Thiodolf
sang thus: --
"Steinkel's troops, who were so bold,
Who the Earl Hakon would uphold,
Were driven by our horsemen's power
To Hel, death goddess, in an hour;
And the great earl, so men say
Who won't admit he ran away,
Because his men fled from the ground,
Retired, and cannot now be found."
75. DEATH OF HAL, THE MURDERER OF KODRAN.
The rest of the night Harald passed in his ships; but in the
morning, when it was daylight, it was found that so thick ice had
gathered about the vessels that one could walk around them. The
king ordered his men to cut the ice from the ships all the way
out to the clear water; on which they all went to break the ice.
King Harald's son, Magnus, steered the vessel that lay lowest
down the river and nearest the water. When the people had
cleared the ice away almost entirely, a man ran out to the ice,
and began hewing away at it like a madman. Then said one of the
men, "It is going now as usual, that none can do so much as Hal
who killed Kodran, when once he lays himself to the work. See
how he is hewing away at the ice." There was a man in the crew
of Magnus, the king's son, who was called Thormod Eindridason;
and when he heard the name of Kodran's murderer he ran up to Hal,
and gave him a death-wound. Kodran was a son of Gudmund
Eyjolfson; and Valgerd, who was a sister of Gudmund, was the
mother of Jorun, and the grandmother by the mother's side of this
Thormod. Thormod was a year old when Kodran was killed, and had
never seen Hal Utrygson until now. When the ice was broken all
the way out to the water, Magnus drew his ship out, set sail
directly, and sailed westward across the lake; but the king's
ship, which lay farthest up the river, came out the last. Hal
had been in the king's retinue, and was very dear to him; so that
the king was enraged at his death. The king came the last into
the harbour, and Magnus had let the murderer escape into the
forest, and offered to pay the mulct for him; and the king had
very nearly attacked Magnus and his crew, but their friends came
up and reconciled them.
76. OF KING HARALD.
That winter (A.D. 1065) King Harald went up to Raumarike, and had
many people with him; and he accused the bondes there of having
kept from him his scat and duties, and of having aided his
enemies to raise disturbance against him. He seized on the
bondes and maimed some, killed others, and robbed many of all
their property. They who could do it fled from him. He burned
everything in the districts and laid them altogether waste. So
says Thiodolf: --
"He who the island-people drove,
When they against his power strove,
Now bridle's Raumarike's men,
Marching his forces through their glen.
To punish them the fire he lights
That shines afar off in dark nights
From house and yard, and, as he says,
Will warn the man who disobeys."
Thereafter the king went up to Hedemark, burnt the dwellings, and
made no less waste and havoc there than in Raumarike. From
thence he went to Hadeland and Ringerike, burning and ravaging
all the land. So says Thiodolf: --
"The bonde's household goods are seen
Before his door upon the green,
Smoking and singed: and sparks red hot
Glow in the thatched roof of his cot.
In Hedemark the bondes pray
The king his crushing hand to stay;
In Ringerike and Hadeland,
None 'gainst his fiery wrath can stand."
Then the bondes left all to the king's mercy. After the death of
King Magnus fifteen years had passed when the battle at Nis-river
took place, and afterwards two years elapsed before Harald and
Svein made peace. So says Thiodolf: --
"The Hordland king under the land
At anchor lay close to the strand,
At last, prepared with shield and spear
The peace was settled the third year."
After this peace the disturbances with the people of the Upland
districts lasted a year and a half. So says Thiodolf: --
"No easy task it is to say
How the king brought beneath his sway
The Upland bondes, and would give
Nought but their ploughs from which to live.
The king in eighteen months brought down
Their bonde power, and raised his own,
And the great honour he has gained
Will still in memory be retained."
77. OF THE KINGS OF ENGLAND.
Edward, Ethelred's son, was king of England after his brother
Hardacanute. He was called Edward the Good; and so he was. King
Edward's mother was Queen Emma, daughter of Richard, earl of
Rouen. Her brother was Earl Robert, whose son was William the
Bastard, who at that time was earl at Rouen in Normandy. King
Edward's queen was Gyda, a daughter of Earl Godwin, the son of
Ulfnad. Gyda's brothers were, Earl Toste, the eldest; Earl
Morukare the next; Earl Walter the third; Earl Svein the fourth;
and the fifth was Harald, who was the youngest, and he was
brought up at King Edward's court, and was his foster-son. The
king loved him very much, and kept him as his own son; for he had
78. OF HARALD GODWINSON.
One summer it happened that Harald, the son of Godwin, made an
expedition to Bretland with his ships, but when they got to sea
they met a contrary wind, and were driven off into the ocean.
They landed west in Normandy, after suffering from a dangerous
storm. They brought up at Rouen, where they met Earl William,
who received Harald and his company gladly. Harald remained
there late in harvest, and was hospitably entertained; for the
stormy weather continued, and there was no getting to sea, and
this continued until winter set in; so the earl and Harald agreed
that he should remain there all winter. Harald sat on the high-
seat on one side of the earl; and on the other side sat the
earl's wife, one of the most beautiful women that could be seen.
They often talked together for amusement at the drinking-table;
and the earl went generally to bed, but Harald and the earl's
wife sat long in the evenings talking together, and so it went on
for a great part of the winter. In one of their conversations
she said to Harald, "The earl has asked me what it is we have to
talk about so much, for he is angry at it." Harald replies, "We
shall then at once let him know all our conversation." The
following day, Harald asked the earl to a conference, and they
went together into the conference-chamber; where also the queen
was, and some of the councillors. Then Harald began thus: -- "I
have to inform you, earl, that there lies more in my visit here
than I have let you know. I would ask your daughter in marriage,
and have often spoke over this matter with her mother, and she
has promised to support my suit with you." As soon as Harald had
made known this proposal of his, it was well received by all who
were present. They explained the case to the earl; and at last
it came so far that the earl was contracted to Harald, but as she
was very young, it was resolved that the wedding should be
deferred for some years.
79. KING EDWARD'S DEATH.
When spring came Harald rigged his ships and set off; and he and
the earl parted with great friendship. Harald sailed over to
England to King Edward, but did not return to Valland to fulfill
the marriage agreement. Edward was king over England for twenty-
three years and died on a bed of sickness in London on the 5th of
January, and was buried in Paul's church. Englishmen call him a
80. HARALD GODWINSON MADE KING OF ENGLAND.
The sons of Earl Godwin were the most powerful men in England.
Toste was made chief of the English king's army, and was his
land-defence man when the king began to grow old; and he was also
placed above all the other earls. His brother Harald was always
with the court itself, and nearest to the king in all service,
and had the charge of the king's treasure-chamber. It is said
that when the king was approaching his last hour, Harald and a
few others were with him. Harald first leans down over the king,
and then said, "I take you all to witness that the king has now
given me the kingdom, and all the realm of England:" and then the
king was taken dead out of the bed. The same day there was a
meeting of the chiefs, at which there was some talk of choosing a
king; and then Harald brought forward his witnesses that King
Edward had given him the kingdom on his dying day. The meeting
ended by choosing Harald as king, and he was consecrated and
crowned the 13th day of Yule, in Paul's church. Then all the
chiefs and all the people submitted to him. Now when his
brother, Earl Toste, heard of this he took it very ill, as he
thought himself quite as well entitled to be king. "I want,"
said he, "that the principal men of the country choose him whom
they think best fitted for it." And sharp words passed between
the brothers. King Harald says he will not give up his kingly
dignity, for he is seated on the throne which kings sat upon, and
is anointed and consecrated a king. On his side also was the
strength of the people, for he had the king's whole treasure.
81. EARL TOSTE'S EXPEDITION TO DENMARK.
Now when King Harald perceived that his brother Toste wanted to
have him deprived of the kingdom he did not trust him; for Toste
was a clever man, and a great warrior, and was in friendship with
the principal men of the country. He therefore took the command
of the army from Toste, and also all the power he had beyond that
of the other earls of the country. Earl Toste, again, would not
submit to be his own brother's serving man; therefore he went
with his people over the sea to Flanders, and stayed there
awhile, then went to Friesland, and from thence to Denmark to his
relation King Svein. Earl Ulf, King Svein's father, and Gyda,
Earl Toste's mother, were brother's and sister's children. The
earl now asked King Svein for support and help of men; and King
Svein invited him to stay with him, with the promise that he
should get so large an earldom in Denmark that he would be an
The earl replies, "My inclination is to go back to my estate in
England; but if I cannot get help from you for that purpose, I
will agree to help you with all the power I can command in
England, if you will go there with the Danish army, and win the
country, as Canute, your mother's brother, did."
The king replied, "So much smaller a man am I than Canute the
Great, that I can with difficulty defend my own Danish dominions
against the Northmen. King Canute, on the other hand, got the
Danish kingdom in heritage, took England by slash and blow, and
sometimes was near losing his life in the contest; and Norway he
took without slash or blow. Now it suits me much better to be
guided by my own slender ability than to imitate my relation,
King Canute's, lucky hits."
Then Earl Toste said, "The result of my errand here is less
fortunate than I expected of thee who art so gallant a man,
seeing that thy relative is in so great need. It may be that I
will seek friendly help where it could less be expected; and that
I may find a chief who is less afraid, king, than thou art of a
Then the king and the earl parted, not just the best friends.
82. EARL TOSTE'S EXPEDITION TO NORWAY.
Earl Toste turned away then and went to Norway, where he
presented himself to King Harald, who was at that time in Viken.
When they met the earl explained his errand to the king. He told
him all his proceedings since he left England, and asked his aid
to recover his dominions in England.
The king replied that the Northmen had no great desire for a
campaign in England, and to have English chiefs over them there.
"People say," added he, "that the English are not to be trusted."
The earl replied, "Is it true what I have heard people tell in
England, that thy relative, King Magnus, sent men to King Edward
with the message that King Magnus had right to England as well as
to Denmark, and had got that heritage after Hardacanute, in
consequence of a regular agreement?"
The king replied, "How came it that he did not get it, if he had
a right to it?"
"Why," replied the earl, "hast thou not Denmark, as King Magnus,
thy predecessor, had it?"
The king replies, "The Danes have nothing to brag of over us
Northmen; for many a place have we laid in ashes to thy
Then said the earl, "If thou wilt not tell me, I will tell thee.
Magnus subdued Denmark, because all the chiefs of the country
helped him; and thou hast not done it, because all the people of
the country were against thee. Therefore, also, King Magnus did
not strive for England, because all the nation would have Edward
for king. Wilt thou take England now? I will bring the matter
so far that most of the principal men in England shall be thy
friends, and assist thee; for nothing is wanting to place me at
the side of my brother Harald but the king's name. All men allow
that there never was such a warrior in the northern lands as thou
art; and it appears to me extraordinary that thou hast been
fighting for fifteen years for Denmark, and wilt not take England
that lies open to thee."
King Harald weighed carefully the earl's words, and perceived at
once that there was truth in much of what he said; and he himself
had also a great desire to acquire dominions. Then King Harald
and the earl talked long and frequently together; and at last he
took the resolution to proceed in summer to England, and conquer
the country. King Harald sent a message-token through all Norway
and ordered out a levy of one-half of all the men in Norway able
to carry arms. When this became generally known, there were many
guesses about what might be the end of this expedition. Some
reckoned up King Harald's great achievements, and thought he was
also the man who could accomplish this. Others, again, said that
England was difficult to attack; that it was very full of people;
and the men-at-arms, who were called Thingmen, were so brave,
that one of them was better than two of Harald's best men. Then
said Ulf the marshal: --
"I am still ready gold to gain;
But truly it would be in vain,
And the king's marshal in the hall
Might leave his good post once for all,
If two of us in any strife
Must for one Thingman fly for life,
My lovely Norse maid, in my youth
We thought the opposite the truth."
Ulf the marshal died that spring (A.D. 1066). King Harald stood
over his grave, and said, as he was leaving it, "There lies now
the truest of men, and the most devoted to his king."
Earl Toste sailed in spring west to Flanders, to meet the people
who had left England with him, and others besides who had
gathered to him both out of England and Flanders.
83. GYRD'S DREAMS.
King Harald's fleet assembled at the Solunds. When King Harald
was ready to leave Nidaros he went to King Olaf's shrine,
unlocked it, clipped his hair and nails, and locked the shrine
again, and threw the keys into the Nid. Some say he threw them
overboard outside of Agdanes; and since then the shrine of Saint
Olaf, the king, has never been opened. Thirty-five years had
passed since he was slain; and he lived thirty-five years here on
earth (A.D. 1080-1066). King Harald sailed with his ships he had
about him to the south to meet his people, and a great fleet was
collected; so that. according to the people's reckoning, King
Harald had nearly 200 ships beside provision-ships and small
While they lay at the Solunds a man called Gyrd, on board the
king's ship, had a dream. He thought he was standing in the
king's ship and saw a great witch-wife standing on the island,
with a fork in one hand and a trough in the other. He thought
also that he saw over all the fleet, and that a fowl was sitting
upon every ship's stern, and that these fowls were all ravens or
ernes; and the witch-wife sang this song: --
"From the east I'll 'tice the king,
To the west the king I'll bring;
Many a noble bone will be
Ravens o'er Giuke's ship are fitting,
Eyeing the prey they think most fitting.
Upon the stem I'll sail with them!
Upon the stem I'll sail with them!"
84. THORD'S DREAM.
There was also a man called Thord, in a ship which lay not far
from the king's. He dreamt one night that he saw King Harald's
fleet coming to land, and he knew the land to be England. He saw
a great battle-array on the land; and he thought both sides began
to fight, and had many banners flapping in the air. And before
the army of the people of the country was riding a huge witch-
wife upon a wolf; and the wolf had a man's carcass in his mouth,
and the blood was dropping from his jaws; and when he had eaten
up one body she threw another into his mouth, and so one after
another, and he swallowed them all. And she sang thus: --
"Skade's eagle eyes
The king's ill luck espies:
Though glancing shields
Hide the green fields,
The king's ill luck she spies.
To bode the doom of this great king,
The flesh of bleeding men I fling
To hairy jaw and hungry maw!
To hairy jaw and hungry maw!"
85. KING HARALD'S DREAM.
King Harald also dreamt one night that he was in Nidaros, and met
his brother, King Olaf, who sang to him these verses: --
"In many a fight
My name was bright;
Men weep, and tell
How Olaf fell.
Thy death is near;
Thy corpse, I fear,
The crow will feed,
The witch-wife's steed."
Many other dreams and forebodings were then told of, and most of
them gloomy. Before King Harald left Throndhjem, he let his son
Magnus be proclaimed king and set him as king over Norway while
he was absent. Thora, the daughter of Thorberg, also remained
behind; but he took with him Queen Ellisif and her two daughters,
Maria and Ingegerd. Olaf, King Harald's son, also accompanied
his father abroad.
86. BATTLE AT SCARBOROUGH.
When King Harald was clear for sea, and the wind became
favourable, he sailed out into the ocean; and he himself landed
in Shetland, but a part of his fleet in the Orkney Islands. King
Harald stopped but a short time in Shetland before sailing to
Orkney, from whence he took with him a great armed force, and the
earls Paul and Erlend, the sons of Earl Thorfin; but he left
behind him here the Queen Ellisif, and her daughters Maria and
Ingegerd. Then he sailed, leaving Scotland and England westward
of him, and landed at a place called Klifland. There he went on
shore and plundered, and brought the country in subjection to him
without opposition. Then he brought up at Skardaburg, and fought
with the people of the place. He went up a hill which is there,
and made a great pile upon it, which he set on fire; and when the
pile was in clear flame, his men took large forks and pitched the
burning wood down into the town, so that one house caught fire
after the other, and the town surrendered. The Northmen killed
many people there and took all the booty they could lay hold of.
There was nothing left for the Englishmen now, if they would
preserve their lives, but to submit to King Harald; and thus he
subdued the country wherever he came. Then the king proceeded
south along the land, and brought up at Hellornes, where there
came a force that had been assembled to oppose him, with which he
had a battle, and gained the victory.
87. OF HARALD'S ORDER OF BATTLE.
Thereafter the king sailed to the Humber, and up along the river,
and then he landed. Up in Jorvik were two earls, Earl Morukare,
and his brother, Earl Valthiof, and they had an immense army.
While the army of the earls was coming down from the upper part
of the country, King Harald lay in the Usa. King Harald now went
on the land, and drew up his men. The one arm of this line stood
at the outer edge of the river, the other turned up towards the
land along a ditch; and there was also a morass, deep, broad, and
full of water. The earls let their army proceed slowly down
along the river, with all their troops in line. The king's
banner was next the river, where the line was thickest. It was
thinnest at the ditch, where also the weakest of the men were.
When the earls advanced downwards along the ditch, the arm of the
Northmen's line which was at the ditch gave way; and the
Englishmen followed, thinking the Northmen would fly. The banner
of Earl Morukare advanced then bravely.
88. THE BATTLE AT THE HUMBER.
When King Harald saw that the English array had come to the ditch
against him, he ordered the charge to be sounded, and urged on
his men. He ordered the banner which was called the Land-ravager
to be carried before him, and made so severe an assault that all
had to give way before it; and there was a great loss among the
men of the earls, and they soon broke into flight, some running
up the river, some down, and the most leaping into the ditch,
which was so filled with dead that the Norsemen could go dry-foot
over the fen. There Earl Morukare fell. So says Stein Herdison:
"The gallant Harald drove along,
Flying but fighting, the whole throng.
At last, confused, they could not fight,
And the whole body took to flight.
Up from the river's silent stream
At once rose desperate splash and scream;
But they who stood like men this fray
Round Morukare's body lay."
This song was composed by Stein Herdison about Olaf, son of King
Harald; and he speaks of Olaf being in this battle with King
Harald, his father. These things are also spoken of in the song
called "Harald's Stave": --
"Earl Valthiof's men
Lay in the fen,
By sword down hewed,
So thickly strewed,
That Norsemen say
They paved a way
Across the fen
For the brave Norsemen."
Earl Valthiof, and the people who escaped, fled up to the castle
of York; and there the greatest loss of men had been. This
battle took place upon the Wednesday next Mathias' day (A.D.
89. OF EARL TOSTE.
Earl Toste had come from Flanders to King Harald as soon as he
arrived in England, and the earl was present at all these
battles. It happened, as he had foretold the king at their first
meeting, that in England many people would flock to them, as
being friends and relations of Earl Toste, and thus the king's
forces were much strengthened. After the battle now told of, all
people in the nearest districts submitted to Harald, but some
fled. Then the king advanced to take the castle, and laid his
army at Stanforda-bryggiur (Stamford Bridge); and as King Harald
had gained so great a victory against so great chiefs and so
great an army, the people were dismayed, and doubted if they
could make any opposition. The men of the castle therefore
determined, in a council, to send a message to King Harald, and
deliver up the castle into his power. All this was soon settled;
so that on Sunday the king proceeded with the whole army to the
castle, and appointed a Thing of the people without the castle,
at which the people of the castle were to be present. At this
Thing all the people accepted the condition of submitting to
Harald, and gave him, as hostages, the children of the most
considerable persons; for Earl Toste was well acquainted with all
the people of that town. In the evening the king returned down
to his ships, after this victory achieved with his own force, and
was very merry. A Thing was appointed within the castle early on
Monday morning, and then King Harald was to name officers to rule
over the town, to give out laws, and bestow fiefs. The same
evening, after sunset, King Harald Godwinson came from the south
to the castle with a numerous army, and rode into the city with
the good-will and consent of the people of the castle. All the
gates and walls were beset so that the Northmen could receive no
intelligence, and the army remained all night in the town.
90. OF KING HARALD'S LANDING.
On Monday, when King Harald Sigurdson had taken breakfast, he
ordered the trumpets to sound for going on shore. The army
accordingly got ready, and he divided the men into the parties
who should go, and who should stay behind. In every division he
allowed two men to land, and one to remain behind. Earl Toste
and his retinue prepared to land with King Harald; and, for
watching the ships, remained behind the king's son Olaf; the
earls of Orkney, Paul and Erlend; and also Eystein Orre, a son of
Thorberg Arnason, who was the most able and best beloved by the
king of all the lendermen, and to whom the king had promised his
daughter Maria. The weather was uncommonly fine, and it was hot
sunshine. The men therefore laid aside their armour, and went on
the land only with their shields, helmets and spears, and girt
with swords; and many had also arrows and bows, and all were very
merry. Now as they came near the castle a great army seemed
coming against them, and they saw a cloud of dust as from horses'
feet, and under it shining shields and bright armour. The king
halted his people, and called to him Earl Toste, and asked him
what army this could be. The earl replied that he thought it
most likely to be a hostle army, but possibly it might be some of
his relations who were seeking for mercy and friendship, in order
to obtain certain peace and safety from the king. Then the king
said, "We must all halt, to discover what kind of a force this
is." They did so; and the nearer this force came the greater it
appeared, and their shining arms were to the sight like glancing
91. OF EARL TOSTE'S COUNSEL.
Then said King Harald, "Let us now fall upon some good sensible
counsel; for it is not to be concealed that this is an hostile
army and the king himself without doubt is here."
Then said the earl, "The first counsel is to turn about as fast
as we can to our ships to get our men and our weapons, and then
we will make a defence according to our ability; or otherwise let
our ships defend us, for there these horsemen have no power over
Then King Harald said, "I have another counsel. Put three of our
best horses under three of our briskest lads and let them ride
with all speed to tell our people to come quickly to our relief.
The Englishmen shall have a hard fray of it before we give
ourselves up for lost."
The earl said the king must order in this, as in all things, as
he thought best; adding, at the same time, it was by no means his
wish to fly. Then King Harald ordered his banner Land-ravager to
be set up; and Frirek was the name of him who bore the banner.
92. OF KING HARALD'S ARMY.
Then King Harald arranged his army, and made the line of battle
long, but not deep. He bent both wings of it back, so that they
met together; and formed a wide ring equally thick all round,
shield to shield, both in the front and rear ranks. The king
himself and his retinue were within the circle; and there was the
banner, and a body of chosen men. Earl Toste, with his retinue,
was at another place, and had a different banner. The army was
arranged in this way, because the king knew that horsemen were
accustomed to ride forwards with great vigour, but to turn back
immediately. Now the king ordered that his own and the earl's
attendants should ride forwards where it was most required. "And
our bowmen," said he, "shall be near to us; and they who stand in
the first rank shall set the spear-shaft on the ground, and the
spear-point against the horseman's breast, if he rides at them;
and those who stand in the second rank shall set the spear-point
against the horse's breast."
93. OF KING HARALD GODWINSON.
King Harald Godwinson had come with an immense army, both of
cavalry and infantry. Now King Harald Sigurdson rode around his
array, to see how every part was drawn up. He was upon a black
horse, and the horse stumbled under him, so that the king fell
off. He got up in haste and said, "A fall is lucky for a
The English king Harald said to the Northmen who were with him,
"Do ye know the stout man who fell from his horse, with the blue
kirtle and the beautiful helmet?"
"That is the king himself." said they.
The English king said, "A great man, and of stately appearance is
he; but I think his luck has left him."
94. OF THE TROOP OF THE NOBILITY.
Twenty horsemen rode forward from the Thing-men's troops against
the Northmen's array; and all of them, and likewise their horses,
were clothed in armour.
One of the horsemen said, "Is Earl Toste in this army?"
The earl answered, "It is not to be denied that ye will find him
The horseman says, "Thy brother, King Harald, sends thee
salutation, with the message that thou shalt have the whole of
Northumberland; and rather than thou shouldst not submit to him,
he will give thee the third part of his kingdom to rule over
along with himself."
The earl replies, "This is something different from the enmity
and scorn he offered last winter; and if this had been offered
then it would have saved many a man's life who now is dead, and
it would have been better for the kingdom of England. But if I
accept of this offer, what will he give King Harald Sigurdson
for his trouble?"
The horseman replied, "He has also spoken of this; and will give
him seven feet of English ground, or as much more as he may be
taller than other men."
"Then," said the earl, "go now and tell King Harald to get ready
for battle; for never shall the Northmen say with truth that Earl
Toste left King Harald Sigurdson to join his enemy's troops, when
he came to fight west here in England. We shall rather all take
the resolution to die with honour, or to gain England by a
Then the horseman rode back.
King Harald Sigurdson said to the earl, "Who was the man who
spoke so well?"
The earl replied, "That was King Harald Godwinson."
Then, said King Harald Sigurdson, "That was by far too long
concealed from me; for they had come so near to our army, that
this Harald should never have carried back the tidings of our
Then said the earl, "It was certainly imprudent for such chiefs,
and it may be as you say; but I saw he was going to offer me
peace and a great dominion, and that, on the other hand, I would
be his murderer if I betrayed him; and I would rather he should
be my murderer than I his, if one of two be to die."
King Harald Sigurdson observed to his men, "That was but a little
man, yet he sat firmly in his stirrups."
It is said that Harald made these verses at this time: --
No helmets glance,
But blue swords play
In our array.
No mail-coats glance,
But hearts are here
That ne'er knew fear."
His coat of mail was called Emma; and it was so long that it
reached almost to the middle of his leg, and so strong that no
weapon ever pierced it. Then said King Harald Sigurdson, "These
verses are but ill composed; I must try to make better;" and he
composed the following: --
"In battle storm we seek no lee,
With skulking head, and bending knee,
Behind the hollow shield.
With eye and hand we fend the head;
Courage and skill stand in the stead
Of panzer, helm, and shield,
In hild's bloody field."
Thereupon Thiodolf sang: --
"And should our king in battle fall, --
A fate that God may give to all, --
His sons will vengeance take;
And never shone the sun upon
Two nobler eaglet; in his run,
And them we'll never forsake."
95. OF THE BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE.
Now the battle began. The Englishmen made a hot assault upon the
Northmen, who sustained it bravely. It was no easy matter for
the English to ride against the Northmen on account of their
spears; therefore they rode in a circle around them. And the
fight at first was but loose and light, as long as the Northmen
kept their order of battle; for although the English rode hard
against the Northmen, they gave way again immediately, as they
could do nothing against them. Now when the Northmen thought
they perceived that the enemy were making but weak assaults, they
set after them, and would drive them into flight; but when they
had broken their shield-rampart the Englishmen rode up from all
sides, and threw arrows and spears on them. Now when King Harald
Sigurdson saw this, he went into the fray where the greatest
crash of weapons was, and there was a sharp conflict, in which
many people fell on both sides. King Harald then was in a rage,
and ran out in front of the array, and hewed down with both
hands; so that neither helmet nor armour could withstand him, and
all who were nearest gave way before him. It was then very near
with the English that they had taken to flight. So says Arnor,
the earls' skald: --
"Where battle-storm was ringing,
Where arrow-cloud was singing,
Harald stood there,
Of armour bare,
His deadly sword still swinging.
The foeman feel its bite;
His Norsemen rush to fight,
Danger to share,
With Harald there,
Where steel on steel was ringing."
96. FALL OF KING HARALD.
King Harald Sigurdson was hit by an arrow in the windpipe, and
that was his death-wound. He fell, and all who had advanced with
him, except those who retired with the banner. There was
afterwards the warmest conflict, and Earl Toste had taken charge
of the king's banner. They began on both sides to form their
array again, and for a long time there was a pause in fighting.
Then Thiodolf sang these verses: --
"The army stands in hushed dismay;
Stilled is the clamour of the fray.
Harald is dead, and with him goes
The spirit to withstand our foes.
A bloody scat the folk must pay
For their king's folly on this day.
He fell; and now, without disguise,
We say this business was not wise."
But before the battle began again Harald Godwinson offered his
brother, Earl Toste, peace, and also quarter to the Northmen who
were still alive; but the Northmen called out, all of them
together, that they would rather fall, one across the other, than
accept of quarter from the Englishmen. Then each side set up a
war-shout, and the battle began again. So says Arnor, the earls'
"The king, whose name would ill-doers scare,
The gold-tipped arrow would not spare.
Unhelmed, unpanzered, without shield,
He fell among us in the field.
The gallant men who saw him fall
Would take no quarter; one and all
Resolved to die with their loved king,
Around his corpse in a corpse-ring."
97. SKIRMISH OF ORRE.
Eystein Orre came up at this moment from the ships with the men
who followed him, and all were clad in armour. Then Eystein got
King Harald's banner Land-ravager; and now was, for the third
time, one of the sharpest of conflicts, in which many Englishmen
fell, and they were near to taking flight. This conflict is
called Orre's storm. Eystein and his men had hastened so fast
from the ships that they were quite exhausted, and scarcely fit
to fight before they came into the battle; but afterwards they
became so furious, that they did not guard themselves with their
shields as long as they could stand upright. At last they threw
off their coats of ringmail, and then the Englishmen could easily
lay their blows at them; and many fell from weariness, and died
without a wound. Thus almost all the chief men fell among the
Norway people. This happened towards evening; and then it went,
as one might expect, that all had not the same fate, for many
fled, and were lucky enough to escape in various ways; and
darkness fell before the slaughter was altogether ended.
98. OF STYRKAR THE MARSHAL.
Styrkar, King Harald Sigurdson's marshal, a gallant man, escaped
upon a horse, on which he rode away in the evening. It was
blowing a cold wind, and Styrkar had not much other clothing upon
him but his shirt, and had a helmet on his head, and a drawn
sword in his hand. As soon as his weariness was over, he began
to feel cold. A waggoner met him in a lined skin-coat. Styrkar
asks him, "Wilt thou sell thy coat, friend?"
"Not to thee," says the peasant: "thou art a Northman; that I
can hear by thy tongue."
Styrkar replies, "If I were a Northman, what wouldst thou do?"
"I would kill thee," replied the peasant; "but as ill luck would
have it, I have no weapon just now by me that would do it."
Then Styrkar says, "As you can't kill me, friend, I shall try if
I can't kill you." And with that he swung his sword, and struck
him on the neck, so that his head came off. He then took the
skin-coat, sprang on his horse, and rode down to the strand.
Olaf Haraldson had not gone on land with the others, and when he
heard of his father's fall he made ready to sail away with the
men who remained.
99. OF WILLIAM THE BASTARD.
When the Earl of Rouen, William the Bastard, heard of his
relation, King Edward's, death, and also that Harald Godwinson
was chosen, crowned, and consecrated king of England, it appeared
to him that he had a better right to the kingdom of England than
Harald, by reason of the relationship between him and King
Edward. He thought, also, that he had grounds for avenging the
affront that Harald had put upon him with respect to his
daughter. From all these grounds William gathered together a
great army in Normandy, and had many men, and sufficient
transport-shipping. The day that he rode out of the castle to
his ships, and had mounted his horse, his wife came to him, and
wanted to speak with him; but when he saw her he struck at her
with his heel, and set his spurs so deep into her breast that she
fell down dead; and the earl rode on to his ships, and went with
his ships over to England. His brother, Archbishop Otto, was
with him; and when the earl came to England he began to plunder,
and take possession of the land as he came along. Earl William
was stouter and stronger than other men; a great horseman and
warrior, but somewhat stern; and a very sensible man, but not
considered a man to be relied on.
100. FALL OF KING HARALD GODWINSON.
King Harald Godwinson gave King Harald Sigurdson's son Olaf leave
to go away, with the men who had followed him and had not fallen
in battle; but he himself turned round with his army to go south,
for he had heard that William the Bastard was overwhelming the
south of England with a vast army, and was subduing the country
for himself. With King Harald went his brothers Svein and Gyrd,
and Earl Valthiof. King Harald and Earl William met each other
south in England at Helsingja-port (Hastings). There was a great
battle in which King Harald and his brother Earl Gyrd and a great
part of his men fell. This was the nineteenth day after the fall
of King Harald Sigurdson. Harald's brother, Earl Valthiof,
escaped by flight, and towards evening fell in with a division of
William's people, consisting of 100 men; and when they saw Earl
Valthiof's troop they fled to a wood. Earl Valthiof set fire to
the wood, and they were all burnt. So says Thorkel Skallason in
Valthiof's ballad: --
"Earl Valthiof the brave
His foes a warming gave:
Within the blazing grove
A hundred men he drove.
The wolf will soon return,
And the witch's horse will burn
Her sharp claws in the ash,
To taste the Frenchman's flesh."
101. EARL VALTHIOF'S DEATH.
William was proclaimed king of England. He sent a message to
Earl Valthiof that they should be reconciled, and gave him
assurance of safety to come to the place of meeting. The earl
set out with a few men; but when he came to a heath north of
Kastala-bryggia, there met him two officers of King William, with
many followers, who took him prisoner, put him in fetters, and
afterwards he was beheaded; and the English call him a saint.
Thorkel tells of this: --
"William came o'er the sea,
With bloody sword came he:
Cold heart and bloody hand
Now rule the English land.
Earl Valthiof he slew, --
Valthiof the brave and true.
Cold heart and bloody hand
Now rule the English land."
William was after this king of England for twenty-one years, and
his descendants have been so ever since.
102. OF OLAF HARALDSON'S EXPEDITION TO NORWAY.
Olaf, the son of King Harald Sigurdson, sailed with his fleet
from England from Hrafnseyr, and came in autumn to the Orkney
Isles, where the event had happened that Maria, a daughter of
Harald Sigurdson, died a sudden death the very day and hour her
father, King Harald, fell. Olaf remained there all winter; but
the summer after he proceeded east to Norway, where he was
proclaimed king along with his brother Magnus. Queen Ellisif
came from the West, along with her stepson Olaf and her daughter
Ingegerd. There came also with Olaf over the West sea Skule, a
son of Earl Toste, and who since has been called the king's
foster-son, and his brother Ketil Krok. Both were gallant men,
of high family in England, and both were very intelligent; and
the brothers were much beloved by King Olaf. Ketil Krok went
north to Halogaland, where King Olaf procured him a good
marriage, and from him are descended many great people. Skule,
the king's foster-son, was a very clever man, and the handsomest
man that could be seen. He was the commander of King Olaf's
court-men, spoke at the Things (1) and took part in all the
country affairs with the king. The king offered to give Skule
whatever district in Norway he liked, with all the income and
duties that belonged to the king in it. Skule thanked him very
much for the offer, but said he would rather have something else
from him. "For if there came a shift of kings," said he, "the
gift might come to nothing. I would rather take some properties
lying near to the merchant towns, where you, sire, usually take
up your abode, and then I would enjoy your Yule-feasts." The
king agreed to this, and conferred on him lands eastward at
Konungahella, Oslo, Tunsberg, Sarpsborg, Bergen, and north at
Nidaros. These were nearly the best properties at each place,
and have since descended to the family branches which came from
Skule. King Olaf gave Skule his female relative, Gudrun, the
daughter of Nefstein, in marriage. Her mother was Ingerid, a
daughter of Sigurd Syr and Asta, King Olaf the Saint's mother.
Ingerid was a sister of King Olaf the Saint and of King Harald.
Skule and Gudrun's son was Asolf of Reine, who married Thora, a
daughter of Skopte Ogmundson; Asolf's and Thora's son was Guthorm
of Reine, father of Bard, and grandfather of King Inge and of
(1) Another instance of the old Norse or Icelandic tongue having
been generally known in a part of England.
103. OF KING HARALD SIGURDSON.
One year after King Harald's fall his body was transported from
England north to Nidaros, and was buried in Mary church, which he
had built. It was a common observation that King Harald
distinguished himself above all other men by wisdom and resources
of mind; whether he had to take a resolution suddenly for himself
and others, or after long deliberation. He was, also, above all
other men, bold, brave, and lucky, until his dying day, as above
related; and bravery is half victory. So says Thiodolf: --
"Harald, who till his dying day
Came off the best in many a fray,
Had one good rule in battle-plain,
In Seeland and elsewhere, to gain --
That, be his foes' strength more or less,
Courage is always half success."
King Herald was a handsome man, of noble appearance; his hair and
beard yellow. He had a short beard, and long mustaches. The one
eyebrow was somewhat higher than the other. He had large hands
(1) and feet; but these were well made. His height was five
ells. He was stern and severe to his enemies, and avenged
cruelly all opposition or misdeed. So says Thiodolf: --
"Severe alike to friends or foes,
Who dared his royal will oppose;
Severe in discipline to hold
His men-at-arms wild and bold;
Severe the bondes to repress;
Severe to punish all excess;
Severe was Harald -- but we call
That just which was alike to all."
King Harald was most greedy of power, and of all distinction and
honour. He was bountiful to the friends who suited him. So says
"I got from him, in sea-fight strong,
A mark of gold for my ship-song.
Merit in any way
He generously would pay."
King Harald was fifty years old when he fell. We have no
particular account of his youth before he was fifteen years old,
when he was with his brother, King Olaf, at the battle of
Stiklestad. He lived thirty-five years after that, and in all
that time was never free from care and war. King Harald never
fled from battle, but often tried cunning ways to escape when he
had to do with great superiority of forces. All the men who
followed King Harald in battle or skirmish said that when he
stood in great danger, or anything came suddenly upon him, he
always took that course which all afterwards saw gave the best
hope of a fortunate issue.
(1) It is a singular physical circumstance, that in almost all
the swords of those ages to be found in the collection of
weapons in the Antiquarian Museum at Copenhagen, the handles
indicate a size of hand very much smaller than the hands of
modern people of any class or rank. No modern dandy, with
the most delicate hands, would find room for his hand to
grasp or wield with case some of the swords of these
Northmen. -- L.
104. KING HARALD AND KING OLAF COMPARED.
When Haldor, a son of Brynjolf Ulfalde the Old, who was a
sensible man and a great chief, heard people talk of how unlike
the brothers Saint Olaf and King Harald were in disposition, he
used to say, "I was in great friendship with both the brothers,
and I knew intimately the dispositions of both, and never did I
know two men more like in disposition. Both were of the highest
understanding, and bold in arms, and greedy of power and
property; of great courage, but not acquainted with the way of
winning the favour of the people; zealous in governing, and
severe in their revenge. King Olaf forced the people into
Christianity and good customs, and punished cruelly those who
disobeyed. This just and rightful severity the chiefs of the
country could not bear, but raised an army against him, and
killed him in his own kingdom; and therefore he is held to be a
saint. King Harald, again, marauded to obtain glory and power,
forced all the people he could under his power, and died in
another king's dominions. Both brothers, in daily life, were of
a worthy and considerate manner of living; they were of great
experience, and very laborious, and were known and celebrated far
and wide for these qualities."
105. KING MAGNUS'S DEATH.
King Magnus Haraldson ruled over Norway the first winter after
King Harald's death (A.D. 1067), and afterwards two years (A.D.
1068-1069) along with his brother, King Olaf. Thus there were
two kings of Norway at that time; and Magnus had the northern and
Olaf the eastern part of the country. King Magnus had a son
called Hakon, who was fostered by Thorer of Steig in
Gudbrandsdal, who was a brother of King Magnus by the mother's
side; and Hakon was a most agreeable man.
After King Harald Sigurdson's death the Danish king Svein let it
be known that the peace between the Northmen and the Danes was at
an end, and insisted that the league between Harald and Svein was
not for longer time than their lives. There was a levy in both
kingdoms. Harald's sons called out the whole people in Norway
for procuring men and ships, and Svein set out from the south
with the Danish army. Messengers then went between with
proposals for a peace; and the Northmen said they would either
have the same league as was concluded between King Harald and
Svein, or otherwise give battle instantly on the spot. Verses
were made on this occasion, viz.: --
"Ready for war or peace,
King Olaf will not cease
From foeman's hand
To guard his land."
So says also Stein Herdison in his song of Olaf: --
"From Throndhjem town, where in repose
The holy king defies his foes,
Another Olaf will defend
His kingdom from the greedy Svein.
King Olaf had both power and right,
And the Saint's favour in the fight.
The Saint will ne'er his kin forsake,
And let Svein Ulfson Norway take."
In this manner friendship was concluded between the kings and
peace between the countries. King Magnus fell ill and died of
the ringworm disease, after being ill for some time. He died and
was buried at Nidaros. He was an amiable king and bewailed by