Heimskringla The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
Part 17 out of 18
came to Herdla, where Einar, a son of Laxapaul, had a farm; and
went into Hamar's fjord, to the Gangdaga-thing. They took all
the goods that were at the farm, and a long-ship of twenty-two
benches which belonged to Einar; and also his son, four years
old, who was living with one of his labouring people. Some
wanted to kill the boy, but others took him and carried him with
them. The labouring man said, "It will not be lucky for you to
kill the child; and it will be of no use to you to carry him
away, for it is my son, and not Einar's." And on his word they
let the boy remain, and went away. When Einar came home he gave
the labourer money to the value of two ore of gold, and thanked
him for his clever invention, and promised him his constant
friendship. So says Eirik Odson, who first wrote down this
relation; and he heard himself Einar Paulson telling these
circumstances in Bergen. Sigurd then went southward along the
coast all the way east to Viken, and met Fin Saudaulfson east at
Kvildar, as he was engaged in drawing in King Inge's rents and
duties, and hanged him. Then they sailed south to Denmark.
8. OF KING INGE'S LETTER TO KING SIGURD.
The people of Viken and of Bergen complained that it was wrong
for King Sigurd and his friends to be sitting quietly north in
the town of Nidaros, while his father's murderer was cruising
about in the ordinary passage at the mouth of the Throndhjem
fjord; and King Inge and his people, on the other hand, were in
Viken in the midst of the danger, defending the country and
holding many battles. Then King Inge sent a letter north to the
merchant-town Nidaros, in which were these words: "King Inge
Haraldson sends his brother King Sigurd, as also Sadagyrd, Ogmund
Svipte, Ottar Birting, and all lendermen, court-men, house-
people, and all the public, rich and poor, young and old, his own
and God's salutation. The misfortune is known to all men that on
account of our childhoods -- thou being five, and I but three
years of age -- we can undertake nothing without the counsel of
our friends and other good men. Now I and my men think that we
stand nearer to the danger and necessity common to us both, than
thou and thy friends; therefore make it so that thou, as soon as
possible, come to me, and as strong in troops as possible, that
we may be assembled to meet whatever may come. He will be our
best friend who does all he can that we may be united, and may
take an equal part in all things. But if thou refuse, and wilt
not come after this message which I send thee in need, as thou
hast done before, then thou must expect that I will come against
thee with an armament; and let God decide between us; for we are
not in a condition to sit here at so great an expense, and with
so numerous a body of troops as are necessary here on account of
the enemy, and besides many other pressing charges, whilst thou
hast half of all the land-tax and other revenues of Norway. Live
in the peace of God!"
9. OTTAR BIRTING'S SPEECH.
Then Ottar Birting stood up in the Thing, and first of all
answered thus: "This is King Sigurd's reply to his brother King
Inge -- that God will reward him for his good salutation, and
likewise for the trouble and burden which he and his friends have
in this kingdom, and in matters of necessity which effect them
both. Although now some think there is something sharp in King
Inge's message to his brother Sigurd, yet he has in many respects
sufficient cause for it. Now I will make known to you my
opinion, and we will hear if King Sigurd and the other people of
power will agree to it; and it is, that thou, King Sigurd, make
thyself ready, with all the people who will follow thee, to
defend thy country; and go as strong in men as possible to thy
brother King Inge as soon as thou art prepared, in order to
assist each other in all things that are for the common good; and
may God Almighty strengthen and assist you both! Now, king, we
will have thy words."
Peter, a son of Saudaulf, who was afterwards called Peter
Byrdarsvein, bore King Sigurd to the Thing. Then the king said,
"Ye must know that, if I am to advise, I will go as soon as
possible to my brother King Inge." Then others spoke, one after
the other; but although each began his speech in his own way, he
ended with agreeing to what Ottar Birting had proposed; and it
was determined to call together the war-forces, and go to the
east part of the country. King Sigurd accordingly went with
great armament east to Viken, and there he met his brother King
10. FALL OF MAGNUS THE BLIND.
The same autumn (A.D. 1139) Sigurd Slembe and Magnus the Blind
came from Denmark with thirty ships, manned both with Danes and
Northmen. It was near to winter. When the kings heard of this,
they set out with their people eastwards to meet them. They met
at Hvalar, near Holm the Grey, the day after Martinmas, which was
a Sunday. King Inge and King Sigurd had twenty ships, which were
all large. There was a great battle; but, after the first
assault, the Danes fled home to Denmark with eighteen ships. On
this Sigurd's and Magnus's ships were cleared; and as the last
was almost entirely bare of men, and Magnus was lying in his bed,
Hreidar Griotgardson, who had long followed him, and been his
courtman, took King Magnus in his arms, and tried to run with him
on board some other ship. But Hreidar was struck by a spear,
which went between his shoulders; and people say King Magnus was
killed by the same spear. Hreidar fell backwards upon the deck,
and Magnus upon him; and every man spoke of how honourably he had
followed his master and rightful sovereign. Happy are they who
have such praise! There fell, on King Magnus's ship, Lodin
Saupprud of Linustadar, Bruse Thormodson; and the forecastle-men
to Sigurd Slembidjakn, Ivar Kolbeinson and Halyard Faeger, who
had been in Sigurd Slembe's fore-hold. This Ivar had been the
first who had gone in, in the night, to King Harald, and had laid
hands on him. There fell a great number of the men of King
Magnus and Sigurd Slembe, for Inge's men let not a single one
escape if they got hold of him; but only a few are named here.
They killed upon a holm more than forty men, among whom were two
Icelanders -- the priest Sigurd Bergthorson, a grandson of Mas;
the other Clemet, a son of Are Einarson. But three Icelanders
obtained their lives: namely, Ivar Skrauthanke, a son of Kalf
Range, and who afterwards was bishop of Throndhjem, and was
father of the archbishop Eirik. Ivar had always followed King
Magnus, and he escaped into his brother Jon Kauda's ship. Jon
was married to Cecilia, a daughter of Gyrd Bardson, and was then
in King Inge's and Sigurd's armament. There were three in all
who escaped on board of Jon's ship. The second was Arnbjorn
Ambe, who afterwards married Thorstein's daughter in Audsholt;
the third was Ivar Dynta, a son of Stare, but on the mother's
side of a Throndhjem family, -- a very agreeable man. When the
troops came to know that these three were on board his ship, they
took their weapons and assaulted the vessel, and some blows were
exchanged, and the whole fleet had nearly come to a fight among
themselves; but it came to an agreement, so that Jon ransomed his
brothers Ivar and Arnbjorn for a fixed sum in ransom, which,
however, was afterwards remitted. But Ivar Dynta was taken to
the shore, and beheaded; for Sigurd and Gyrd, the sons of
Kolbein, would not take any mulct for him, as they knew he had
been at their brother Beintein's murder. Ivar the bishop said,
that never was there anything that touched him so nearly, as
Ivar's going to the shore under the axe, and turning to the
others with the wish that they might meet in joy here-after.
Gudrid Birger's daughter, a sister of Archbishop Jon, told Eirik
Odson that she heard Bishop Ivar say this.
11. SIGURD SLEMBE TAKEN PRISONER.
A man called Thrand Gialdkere was the steersman of King Inge's
ship. It was come so far, that Inge's men were rowing in small
boats between the ships after those who were swimming in the
water, and killed those they could get hold of. Sigurd Slembe
threw himself overboard after his ship had lost her crew,
stripped off his armour under the water, and then swam with his
shield over him. Some men from Thrand's vessel took prisoner a
man who was swimming, and were about to kill him; but he begged
his life, and offered to tell them where Sigurd Slembe was, and
they agreed to it. Shields and spears, dead men, weapons, and
clothes, were floating all around on the sea about the ships, "Ye
can see," said he, "a red shield floating on the water; he is
under it." They rowed to it immediately, took him, and brought
him on board of Thrand's ship. Thrand then sent a message to
Thjostolf, Ottar, and Amunde. Sigurd Slembe had a tinder box on
him; and the tinder was in a walnut-shell, around which there was
wax. This is related, because it seems an ingenious way of
preserving it from ever getting wet. He swam with a shield over
him, because nobody could know one shield from another where so
many were floating about; and they would never have hit upon him,
if they had not been told where he was. When Thrand came to the
land with Sigurd, and it was told to the troops that he was
taken, the army set up a shout of joy. When Sigurd heard it he
said, "Many a bad man will rejoice over my head this day." Then
Thjostolf Alason went to where Sigurd was sitting, struck from
his head a silk hat with silver fringes, and said. "Why wert thou
so impudent, thou son of a slave! to dare to call thyself King
Magnus Barefoot's son?"
Sigurd replied, "Presume not to compare my father to a slave; for
thy father was of little worth compared to mine."
Hal, a son of the doctor Thorgeir Steinson, King Inge's court-
man, was present at this circumstance, and told it to Eirik
Odson, who afterwards wrote these relations in a book, which he
called "Hryggjarstykke". In this book is told all concerning
Harald Gille and his sons, and Magnus the Blind, and Sigurd
Slembidjakn, until their deaths. Eirik was a sensible man, who
was long in Norway about that time. Some of his narratives he
wrote down from Hakon Mage's account; some were from lendermen of
Harald's sons, who along with his sons were in all this feud, and
in all the councils. Eirik names, moreover, several men of
understanding and veracity, who told him these accounts, and were
so near that they saw or heard all that happened. Something he
wrote from what he himself had heard or seen.
12. TORTURE OF SIGURD SLEMBE.
Hal says that the chiefs wished to have Sigurd killed instantly;
but the men who were the most cruel, and thought they had
injuries to avenge, advised torturing him; and for this they
named Beintein's brothers, Sigurd and Gyrd, the sons of Kolbein.
Peter Byrdarsvein would also avenge his brother Fin. But the
chiefs and the greater part of the people went away. They broke
his shin-bones and arms with an axe-hammer. Then they stripped
him, and would flay him alive; but when they tried to take off
the skin, they could not do it for the gush of blood. They took
leather whips and flogged him so long, that the skin was as much
taken off as if he had been flayed. Then they stuck a piece of
wood in his back until it broke, dragged him to a tree and hanged
him; and then cut off his head, and brought the body and head to
a heap of stones and buried them there. All acknowledge, both
enemies and friends, that no man in Norway, within memory of the
living, was more gifted with all perfections, or more
experienced, than Sigurd, but in some respects he was an unlucky
man. Hal says that he spoke little, and answered only a few, and
in single words, under his tortures, although they spoke to him.
Hal says further, that he never moved when they tortured him,
more than if they were striking a stock or a stone. This Hal
alleged as proof that he was a brave hero, who had courage to
endure tortures; for he still held his tongue, and never moved
from the spot. And farther he says, that he never altered his
voice in the least, but spoke with as much ease as if he was
sitting at the ale-table; neither speaking higher nor lower, nor
in a more tremulous voice than he was used to do. He spoke until
he gave up the ghost, and sang between whiles parts of the Psalm-
book, and which Hal considered beyond the powers and strength of
ordinary men. And the priest who had the church in the
neighbourhood let Sigurd's body be transported thither to the
church. This priest was a friend of Harald's sons: but when they
heard it they were angry at him, had the body carried back to
where it had been, and made the priest pay a fine. Sigurd's
friends afterwards came from Denmark with a ship for his body,
carried it to Alaborg, and interred it in Mary church in that
town. So said Dean Ketil, who officiated as priest at Mary
church, to Eirik; and that Sigurd was buried there. Thjostolf
Alason transported Magnus the Blind's body to Oslo, and buried it
in Halvard's church, beside King Sigurd his father. Lodin
Saupprud was transported to Tunsberg; but the others of the slain
were buried on the spot.
13. EYSTEIN HARALDSON COMES TO NORWAY.
When the kings Sigurd and Inge had ruled over Norway about six
years, Eystein, who was a son of Harald Gille, came in spring
from Scotland (A.D. 1142). Arne Sturla, Thorleif Brynjolfson,
and Kolbein Hruga had sailed westward over the sea after Eystein,
accompanied him to Norway, and sailed immediately with him to
Throndhjem. The Throndhjem people received him well; and at the
Eyra-thing of Ascension-day he was chosen king, so that he should
have the third part of Norway with his brothers Sigurd and Inge.
They were at this time in the east part of the country; and men
went between the kings who brought about a peace, and that
Eystein should have a third part of the kingdom. People believed
what he said of his paternal descent, because King Harald himself
had testified to it, and he did not resort to the ordeal of iron.
King Eystein's mother was called Bjadok, and she followed him to
Norway. Magnus was the name of King Harald Gille's fourth son,
who was fostered by Kyrpingaorm. He also was chosen king, and
got a fourth part of the country; but Magnus was deformed in his
feet, lived but a short time, and died in his bed. Einar
Skulason speaks of them: --
"The generous Eystein money gave;
Sigurd in fight was quick and brave;
Inge loved well the war-alarm;
Magnus to save his land from harm.
No country boasts a nobler race
The battle-field, or Thing, to grace.
Four brothers of such high pretence
The sun ne'er shone upon at once."
14. MURDER OF OTTAR BIRTING.
After King Harald Gille's death Queen Ingerid married Ottar
Birting, who was a lendermen and a great chief, and of a
Throndhjem family, who strengthened King Inge's government much
while he was in his childhood. King Sigurd was not very friendly
to Ottar; because, as he thought, Ottar always took King Inge's
side. Ottar Birting was killed north in the merchant town
(Nidaros), in an assault upon him in the twilight as he was going
to the evening song. When he heard the whistling of the blow he
held up his cloak with his hands against it; thinking, no doubt,
it was a snowball thrown at him, as young boys do in the streets.
Ottar fell by the stroke; but his son, Alf Hrode, who just at the
same moment was coming into the churchyard, saw his father's
fall, and saw that the man who had killed him ran east about the
church. Alf ran after him, and killed him at the corner of the
choir; and people said that he had good luck in avenging his
father, and afterwards was much more respected than he had been
15. BEGINNING OF KING EYSTEIN.
King Eystein Haraldson was in the interior of the Throndhjem
district when he heard of Ottar's murder, and summoned to him the
bonde-army, with which he proceeded to the town; and he had many
men. Ottar's relations and other friends accused King Sigurd,
who was in the town, of having instigated this deed; and the
bondes were much enraged against him. But the king offered to
clear himself by the ordeal of iron, and thereby to establish the
truth of his denial; and accordingly a peace was made. King
Sigurd went to the south end of the country, and the ordeal was
never afterwards heard of.
16. BEGINNING OF ORM THE KING-BROTHER.
Queen Ingerid had a son to Ivar Sneis, and he was called Orm, and
got the surname of King-brother. He was a handsome man in
appearance, and became a great chief, as shall be told hereafter.
Ingerid afterwards married Arne of Stodreim, who was from this
called King's-mate; and their children were Inge, Nikolas, Philip
of Herdla, and Margaret, who was first married to Bjorn Buk, and
afterwards to Simon Karason.
17. JOURNEY OF ERLING SKAKKE AND EARL RAGNVALD.
Kyrpingaorm and Ragnhild, a daughter of Sveinke Steinarson, had a
son called Erling. Kyrpingaorm was a son of Svein Sveinson, who
was a son of Erling of Gerd. Otto's mother was Ragna, a daughter
of Earl Orm Eilifson and Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Fin Arnason.
The mother of Earl Orm was Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hakon the
Great. Erling was a man of understanding, and a great friend of
King Inge, by whose assistance and counsel Erling obtained in
marriage Christina, a daughter of King Sigurd the Crusader and
Queen Malmfrid. Erling possessed a farm at Studla in South
Hordaland. Erling left the country; and with him went Eindride
Unge and several lendermen, who had chosen men with them. They
intended to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and went across the
West sea to Orkney. There Earl Ragnvald and Bishop William
joined them; and they had in all fifteen ships from Orkney, with
which they first sailed to the South Hebrides, from thence west
to Valland, and then the same way King Sigurd the Crusader had
sailed to Norvasund; and they plundered all around in the heathen
part of Spain. Soon after they had sailed through the Norvasund,
Eindride Unge and his followers, with six ships, separated from
them; and then each was for himself. Earl Ragnvald and Erling
Skakke fell in with a large ship of burden at sea called a
dromund, and gave battle to it with nine ships. At last they
laid their cutters close under the dromund; but the heathens
threw both weapons and stones, and pots full of pitch and boiling
oil. Erling laid his ship so close under the dromund, that the
missiles of the heathens fell without his ship. Then Erling and
his men cut a hole in the dromund, some working below and some
above the water-mark; and so they boarded the vessel through it.
So says Thorbjorn Skakkaskald, in his poem on Erling: --
"The axes of the Northmen bold
A door into the huge ships' hold
Hewed through her high and curved side,
As snug beneath her bulge they ride.
Their spears bring down the astonished foe,
Who cannot see from whence the blow.
The eagle's prey, they, man by man,
Fall by the Northmen's daring plan."
Audunraude, Erling's forecastle-man, was the first man who got
into the dromund. Then they carried her, killing an immense
number of people; making an extraordinarily valuable booty, and
gaining a famous victory. Earl Ragnvald and Erling Skakke came
to Palestine in the course of their expedition, and all the way
to the river Jordan. From thence they went first to
Constantinople, where they left their ships, travelled northwards
by land, and arrived in safety in Norway, where their journey was
highly praised. Erling Skakke appeared now a much greater man
than before, both on account of his journey and of his marriage;
besides he was a prudent sensible man, rich, of great family,
eloquent, and devoted to King Inge by the strictest friendship
more than to the other royal brothers.
18. BIRTH OF HAKON HERDEBREID.
King Sigurd went to a feast east in Viken along with his court,
and rode past a house belonging to a great bonde called Simon.
While the king was riding past the house, he heard within such
beautiful singing that he was quite enchanted with it, and rode
up to the house, and saw a lovely girl standing at the handmill
and grinding. The king got off his horse, and went to the girl
and courted her. When the king went away, the bonde Simon came
to know what the object of the king's visit had been. The girl
was called Thora, and she was Simon the bonde's servant-girl.
Simon took good care of her afterwards, and the girl brought
forth a male child (A.D. 1047), who was called Hakon, and was
considered King Sigurd's son. Hakon was brought up by Simon
Thorbergson and his wife Gunhild. Their own sons also, Onund and
Andreas, were brought up with Hakon, and were so dear to him that
death only could have parted them.
19. EYSTEIN AND THE PEASANTS OF HISING ISLE.
While King Eystein Haraldson was in Viken, he fell into disputes
with the bondes of Reine and the inhabitants of Hising Isle, who
assembled to oppose him; but he gave them battle at a place
called Leikberg, and afterwards burnt and destroyed all around in
Hising; so that the bondes submitted to his will, paid great
fines to the king, and he took hostages from them. So says Einar
"The Viken men
Won't strive again,
With words or blows,
The king to oppose.
None safety found
On Viken's ground,
Till all, afraid,
Pledge and scat paid."
And further: --
"The king came near;
He who is dear
To all good men
Came down the glen,
By Leikberg hill.
They who do ill,
The Reine folk, fly
Or quarter cry."
20. WAR EXPEDITION OF KING HARALDSON.
Soon after King Eystein began his journey out of the country over
sea to the West (A.D. 1153), and sailed first to Caithness. Here
he heard that Earl Harald Maddad's son was in Thursa, to which he
sailed directly in three small boats. The earl had a ship of
thirty banks of oars, and nearly eighty men in her. But they
were not prepared to make resistance, so that King Eystein was
able to board the ship with his men; and he took the earl
prisoner, and carried him to his own ship, but the earl ransomed
himself with three marks of gold: and thus they parted. Einar
Skulason tells of it thus: --
"Earl Harald in his stout ship lay
On the bright sand in Thursa bay;
With fourscore men he had no fear,
Nor thought the Norse king was so near,
He who provides the eagle's meals
In three small boats along-shore steals;
And Maddad's son must ransom pay
For his bad outlook that fair day."
From thence King Eystein sailed south along the east side of
Scotland, and brought up at a merchant-town in Scotland called
Aberdeen, where he killed many people, and plundered the town.
So says Einar Skulason: --
"At Aberdeen, too, I am told,
Fell many by our Norsemen bold;
Peace was disturbed, and blue swords broke
With many a hard and bloody stroke."
The next battle was at Hartlepool in the south, with a party of
horsemen. The king put them to flight, and seized some ships
there. So says Einar: --
"At Hartlepool, in rank and row,
The king's court-men attack the foe.
The king's sharp sword in blood was red,
Blood dropped from every Norse spear-head.
Ravens rejoice o'er the warm food
Of English slain, each where he stood;
And in the ships their thirst was quenched:
The decks were in the foe's blood drenched."
Then he went southwards to England, and had his third battle at
Whitby, and gained the victory, and burnt the town. So says
"The ring of swords, the clash of shields,
Were loud in Whitby's peaceful fields;
For here the king stirred up the strife. --
Man against man, for death or life.
O'er roof and tower, rose on high
The red wrath-fire in the sky;
House after house the red fiend burns;
By blackened walls the poor man mourns."
Thereafter he plundered wide around in England, where Stephen was
then the king. After this King Eystein fought with some cavalry
at Skarpasker. So says Einar: --
"At Skarpasker the English horse
Retire before the Norse king's force:
The arrow-shower like snow-drift flew,
And the shield-covered foemen slew."
He fought next at Pilavik, and gained the victory. So says
"At Pilavik the wild wolf feeds,
Well furnished by the king's brave deeds
He poured upon the grass-green plain
A red shower from the Perthmen slain.
On westwards in the sea he urges,
With fire and sword the country purges:
Langtown he burns; the country rang,
For sword on shield incessant clang."
Here they burnt Langatun, a large village; and people say that
the town has never since risen to its former condition. After
this King Eystein left England in autumn, and returned to Norway.
People spoke in various ways about this expedition.
21. OF HARALD'S SONS.
There was good peace maintained in Norway in the first years of
the government of Harald's sons; and as long as their old
counsellors were alive, there was some kind of unanimity among
them. While Inge and Sigurd were in their childhood, they had a
court together; but Eystein, who was come to age of discretion,
had a court for himself. But when Inge's and Sigurd's
counsellors were dead, -- namely, Sadagyrd Bardson, Ottar
Birting, Amunde Gyrdson, Thjostolf Alason, Ogmund Svipter, and
Ogmund Denger, a brother of Erling Skakke (Erling was not much
looked up to while Ogmund lived), -- the two kings, Inge and
Sigurd divided their courts. King Inge then got great assistance
from Gregorius Dagson, a son of Dag Eilifson by Ragnhild a
daughter of Skapte Ogmundson. Gregorius had much property, and
was himself a thriving, sagacious man. He presided in the
governing the country under King Inge, and the king allowed him
to manage his property for him according to his own judgment.
22. HABITS AND MANNERS OF HARALD'S SONS.
When King Sigurd grew up he was a very ungovernable, restless man
in every way; and so was King Eystein, but Eystein was the more
reasonable of the two. King Sigurd was a stout and strong man,
of a brisk appearance; he had light brown hair, an ugly mouth;
but otherwise a well-shaped countenance. He was polite in his
conversation beyond any man, and was expert in all exercises.
Einar Skulason speaks of this: --
"Sigurd, expert in every way
To wield the sword in bloody fray,
Showed well that to the bold and brave
God always luck and victory gave.
In speech, as well as bloody deeds,
The king all other men exceeds;
And when he speaks we think that none
Has said a word but he alone."
King Eystein was dark and dingy in complexion, of middle height,
and a prudent able man; but what deprived him of consideration
and popularity with those under him were his avarice and
narrowness. He was married to Ragna, a daughter of Nicolas Mase.
King Inge was the handsomest among them in countenance. He had
yellow but rather thin hair, which was much curled. His stature
was small; and he had difficulty in walking alone, because he had
one foot withered, and he had a hump both on his back and his
breast. He was of cheerful conversation, and friendly towards
his friends; was generous, and allowed other chiefs to give him
counsel in governing the country. He was popular, therefore,
with the public; and all this brought the kingdom and the mass of
the people on his side. King Harald Gille's daughter Brigida was
first married to the Swedish king Inge Halsteinson, and
afterwards to Earl Karl Sonason, and then to the Swedish king
Magnus. She and King Inge Haraldson were cousins by the mother's
side. At last Brigida married Earl Birger Brose, and they had
four sons, namely, Earl Philip, Earl Knut, Folke, and Magnus.
Their daughters were Ingegerd, who was married to the Swedish
king Sorkver, and their son was King Jon; a second daughter was
called Kristin, and a third Margaret. Harald Gille's second
daughter was called Maria, who was married to Simon Skalp, a son
of Halkel Huk; and their son was called Nikolas. King Harald
Gille's third daughter was called Margaret, who was married to
Jon Halkelson, a brother of Simon. Now many things occurred
between the brothers which occasioned differences and disputes;
but I will only relate what appears to me to have produced the
more important events.
23. CARDINAL NIKOLAS COMES TO THE COUNTRY.
In the days of Harald's sons Cardinal Nikolas came from Rome to
Norway, being sent there by the pope. The cardinal had taken
offence at the brothers Sigurd and Eystein, and they were obliged
to come to a reconciliation with him; but, on the other hand, he
stood on the most affectionate terms with King Inge, whom he
called his son. Now when they were all reconciled with him, he
moved them to let Jon Birgerson be consecrated archbishop of
Throndhjem and gave him a vestment which is called a pallium; and
settled moreover that the archbishop's seat should be in Nidaros,
in Christ church, where King Olaf the Saint reposes. Before that
time there had only been common bishops in Norway. The cardinal
introduced also the law, that no man should go unpunished who
appeared with arms in the merchant-town, excepting the twelve men
who were in attendancce on the king. He improved many of the
customs of the Northmen while he was in the country. There never
came a foreigner to Norway whom all men respected so highly, or
who could govern the people so well as he did. After some time
he returned to the South with many friendly presents, and
declared ever afterwards that he was the greatest friend of the
people of Norway. When he came south to Rome the former pope
died suddenly, and all the people of Rome would have Cardinal
Nikolas for pope, and he was consecrated under the name of
Adrian; and according to the report of men who went to Rome in
his days, he had never any business, however important, to settle
with other people, but he would break it off to speak with the
Northmen who desired to see him. He was not long pope, and is
now considered a saint.
24. MIRACLE OF KING OLAF.
In the time of Harald Gille's sons, it happened that a man called
Haldor fell into the hands of the Vindland people, who took him
and mutilated him, cut open his neck, took out the tongue through
the opening, and cut out his tongue root. He afterwards sought
out the holy King Olaf, fixed his mind entirely on the holy man,
and weeping besought King Olaf to restore his speech and health.
Thereupon he immediately recovered his speech by the good king's
compassion, went immediately into his service for all his life,
and became an excellent trustworthy man. This miracle took place
a fortnight before the last Olafsmas, upon the day that Cardinal
Nikolas set foot on the land of Norway.
25. MIRACLES OF KING OLAF ON RICHARD.
In the Uplands were two brothers, men of great family, and men of
fortune, Einar and Andres, sons of Guthorm Grabard, and brothers
of King Sigurd Haraldson's mother; and they had great properties
and udal estates in that quarter. They had a sister who was very
handsome, but did not pay sufficient regard to the scandal of
evil persons, as it afterwards appeared. She was on a friendly
footing with an English priest called Richard, who had a welcome
to the house of her brothers, and on account of their friendship
for him she did many things to please him, and often to his
advantage; but the end of all this was, that an ugly report flew
about concerning this girl. When this came into the mouth of the
public all men threw the blame on the priest. Her brothers did
the same, and expressed publicly, as soon as they observed it,
that they laid the blame most on him. The great friendship that
was between the earl and the priest proved a great misfortune to
both, which might have been expected, as the brothers were silent
about their secret determination, and let nothing be observed.
But one day they called the priest to them, who went, expecting
nothing but good from them; enticed him from home with them,
saying that they intended to go to another district, where they
had some needful business, and inviting him to go with them.
They had with them a farm-servant who knew their purpose. They
went in a boat along the shore of a lake which is called Rands
lake, and landed at a ness called Skiptisand, where they went on
shore and amused themselves awhile. Then they went to a retired
place, and commanded their servant-man to strike the priest with
an axe-hammer. He struck the priest so hard that he swooned; but
when he recovered he said, "Why are ye playing so roughly with
me?" They replied, "Although nobody has told thee of it before,
thou shalt now find the consequence of what thou hast done."
They then upbraided him; but he denied their accusations, and
besought God and the holy King Olaf to judge between them. Then
they broke his leg-bones, and dragged him bound to the forest
with them; and then they put a string around his head, and put a
board under his head and shoulders, and made a knot on the
string, and bound his head fast to the board. Then the elder
brother, Einar, took a wedge, and put it on the priest's eye, and
the servant who stood beside him struck upon it with an axe, so
that the eye flew out, and fell upon the board. Then he set the
pin upon the other eye, and said to the servant, "Strike now more
softly." He did so, and the wedge sprang from the eye-stone, and
tore the eyelid loose. Then Einar took up the eyelid in his
hand, and saw that the eye-stone was still in its place; and he
set the wedge on the cheek, and when the servant struck it the
eye-stone sprang out upon the cheek-bone. Thereafter they opened
his mouth, took his tongue and cut it off, and then untied his
hands and his head. As soon as he came to himself, he thought of
laying the eye-stones in their place under the eyelids, and
pressing then with both hands as much as he could. Then they
carried him on board, and went to a farm called Saeheimrud, where
they landed. They sent up to the farm to say that a priest was
lying in the boat at the shore. While the message was going to
the farm, they asked the priest if he could talk; and he made a
noise and attempted to speak. Then said Einar to his brother,
"If he recover and the stump of his tongue grow, I am afraid he
will get his speech again." Thereupon they seized the stump with
a pair of tongs, drew it out, cut it twice, and the third time to
the very roots, and left him lying half dead. The housewife in
the farm was poor; but she hastened to the place with her
daughter, and they carried the priest home to their farm in their
cloaks. They then brought a priest, and when he arrived he bound
all his wounds; and they attended to his comfort as much as they
were able. And thus lay the wounded priest grievously handled,
but trusting always to God's grace, and never doubting; and
although he was speechless, he prayed to God in thought with a
sorrowful mind, but with the more confidence the worse he was.
He turned his thoughts also to the mild King Olaf the Saint,
God's dear favourite, of whose excellent deeds he had heard so
much told, and trusted so much more zealously on him with all his
heart for help in his necessity. As he lay there lame, and
deprived of all strength, he wept bitterly, moaned, and prayed
with a sore heart that the dear King Olaf would help him. Now
when this wounded priest was sleeping after midnight, he thought
he saw a gallant man coming to him, who spoke these words, "Thou
art ill off, friend Richard, and thy strength is little." He
thought he replied to this assentingly. Then the man accosted
him again, "Thou requirest compassion?" The priest replies, "I
need the compassion of Almighty God and the holy King Olaf." He
answered, "Thou shalt get it." Thereupon he pulled the tongue-
stump so hard that it gave the priest pain; then he stroked with
his hands his eyes, and legs, and other wounded members. Then
the priest asked who he was. He looked at him, and said, "Olaf,
come here from Throndhjem;" and then disappeared. But the priest
awoke altogether sound, and thus he spoke: "Happy am I, and
thanks be to the Almighty God and the holy King Olaf, who have
restored me!" Dreadfully mishandled as he had been, yet so
quickly was he restored from his misfortune that he scarcely
thought he had been wounded or sick. His tongue was entire; both
his eyes were in their places, and were clear-sighted; his broken
legs and every other wound were healed, or were free from pain;
and, in short, he had got perfect health. But as a proof that
his eyes had been punched out, there remained a white scar on
each eyelid, in order that this dear king's excellence might be
manifest on the man who had been so dreadfully misused.
26. KING INGE AND SIGURD HOLD A THING.
King Eystein and King Sigurd had quarrelled, because King Sigurd
had killed King Eystein's court-man Harald, the Viken man, who
owned a house in Bergen, and also the priest Jon Tapard, a son of
Bjarne Sigurdson. On account of this affair, a conference to
settle it was appointed in winter in the Uplands. The two sat
together in the conference for a long time, and so much was known
of their conference that all three brothers were to meet the
following summer in Bergen. It was added, that their conference
was to the effect that King Inge should have two or three farms,
and as much income as would keep thirty men beside him, as he had
not health to be a king. When King Inge and Gregorius heard this
report, they came to Bergen with many followers. King Sigurd
arrived there a little later, and was not nearly so strong in
men. Sigurd and Inge had then been nineteen years kings of
Norway (A.D. 1155). King Eystein came later still from the south
than the other two from the north. Then King Inge ordered the
Thing to be called together on the holm by the sound of trumpet;
and Sigurd and Inge came to it with a great many people.
Gregorius had two long-ships, and at the least ninety men, whom
he kept in provisions. He kept his house-men better than other
lendermen; for he never took part in any entertainment where each
guest brings his liquor, without having all his house-men to
drink with him. He went now to the Thing in a gold-mounted
helmet, and all his men had helmets on. Then King Inge stood up,
and told the assembly what he had heard; how his brothers were
going to use him, and depose him from his kingdom; and asked for
their assistance. The assembled people made a good return to his
speech, and declared they would follow him.
27. OF GREGORIUS DAGSON.
Then King Sigurd stood up and said it was a false accusation that
King Inge had made against him and his brother, and insisted that
Gregorius had invented it; and insinuated that it would not be
long, if he had his will, before they should meet so that the
golden helmet should be doffed; and ended his speech by hinting
that they could not both live. Gregorius replied, that Sigurd
need not long so much for this, as he was ready now, if it must
be so. A few days after, one of Gregorius's house-men was killed
out upon the street, and it was Sigurd's house-men who killed
him. Gregorius would then have fallen upon King Sigurd and his
people; but King Inge, and many others, kept him back. But one
evening, just as Queen Ingerid, King Inge's mother, was coming
from vespers, she came past where Sigurd Skrudhyrna, a courtman
of King Inge, lay murdered. He was then an old man, and had
served many kings. King Sigurd's courtmen, Halyard Gunnarson,
and Sigurd, a son of Eystein Trafale, had killed him; and people
suspected it was done by order of King Sigurd. She went
immediately to King Inge, and told him he would be a little king
if he took no concern, but allowed his court-men to be killed,
the one after the other, like swine. The king was angry at her
speech; and while they were scolding about it, came Gregorius in
helmet and armour, and told the king not to be angry, for she was
only saying the truth. "And I am now," says he, "come to thy
assistance, if thou wilt attack King Sigurd; and here we are,
above 100 men in helmets and armour, and with them we will attack
where others think the attack may be worst." But the most
dissuaded from this course, thinking that Sigurd would pay the
mulct for the slaughter done. Now when Gregorius saw that there
would be no assault, he accosted King Inge thus: "Thou wilt
frighten thy men from thee in this way; for first they lately
killed my house-man, and now thy court-man, and afterwards they
will chase me, or some other of thy lendermen whom thou wouldst
feel the loss of, when they see that thou art indifferent about
such things; and at last, after thy friends are killed, they will
take the royal dignity from thee. Whatever thy other lendermen
may do, I will not stay here longer to be slaughtered like an ox;
but Sigurd the king and I have a business to settle with each
other to-night, in whatever way it may turn out. It is true that
there is but little help in thee on account of thy ill health,
but I should think thy will should not be less to hold thy hand
over thy friends, and I am now quite ready to go from hence to
meet Sigurd, and my banner is flying in the yard."
Then King Inge stood up, and called for his arms, and ordered
every man who wished to follow him to get ready, declaring it was
of no use to try to dissuade him; for he had long enough avoided
this, but now steel must determine between them.
28. OF KING SIGURD'S FALL.
King Sigurd sat and drank in Sigrid Saeta's house ready for
battle, although people thought it would not come to an assault
at all. Then came King Inge with his men down the road from the
smithy shops, against the house. Arne, the king's brother-in-
law, came out from the Sand-bridge, Aslak Erlendson from his own
house, and Gregorius from the street where all thought the
assault would be worst. King Sigurd and his men made many shots
from the holes in the loft, broke down the fireplaces, and threw
stones on them. Gregorius and his men cut down the gates of the
yard; and there in the port fell Einar, a son of Laxapaul, who
was of Sigurd's people, together with Halvard Gunnarson, who was
shot in a loft, and nobody lamented his death. They hewed down
the houses, and many of King Sigurd's men left him, and
surrendered for quarter. Then King Sigurd went up into a loft,
and desired to be heard. He had a gilt shield, by which they
knew him, but they would not listen to him, and shot arrows at
him as thick as snow in a snow-shower, so that he could not stay
there. As his men had now left him, and the houses were being
hewn down, he went out from thence, and with him his court-man
Thord Husfreyja from Viken. They wanted to come where King Inge
was to be found, and Sigurd called to his brother King Inge, and
begged him to grant him life and safety; but both Thord and
Sigurd were instantly killed, and Thord fell with great glory.
King Sigurd was interred in the old Christ church out on the
holm. King Inge gave Gregorius the ship King Sigurd had owned.
There fell many of King Sigurd's and King Inge's men, although I
only name a few; but of Gregorius's men there fell four; and also
some who belonged to no party, but were shot on the piers, or out
in the ships. It was fought on a Friday, and fourteen days
before Saint John the Baptist's day (June 10, 1155). Two or
three days after King Eystein came from the eastward with thirty
ships, and had along with him his brother's son Hakon, a son of
King Sigurd. Eystein did not come up to the town, but lay in
Floruvagar, and good men went between to get a reconciliation
made. But Gregorius wanted that they should go out against him,
thinking there never would be a better opportunity; and offered
to be himself the leader. "For thou, king, shalt not go, for we
have no want of men." But many dissuaded from this course, and
it came to nothing. King Eystein returned back to Viken, and
King Inge to Throndhjem, and they were in a sort reconciled; but
they did not meet each other.
29. OF GREGORIUS DAGSON.
Somewhat later than King Eystein, Gregorius Dagson also set out
to the eastward and came to his farm Bratsberg in Hofund; but
King Eystein was up in the fjord at Oslo, and had his ships drawn
above two miles over the frozen sea, for there was much ice at
that time in Viken. King Eystein went up to Hofund to take
Gregorius; but he got news of what was on foot, and escaped to
Thelemark with ninety men, from thence over the mountains, and
came down in Hardanger; and at last to Studla in Etne, to Erling
Skakke's farm. Erling himself had gone north to Bergen; but his
wife Kristin, a daughter of King Sigurd, was at home, and offered
Gregorius all the assistance he wanted; and he was hospitably
received. He got a long-ship there which belonged to Erling, and
everything else he required. Gregorius thanked her kindly, and
allowed that she had behaved nobly, and as might have been
expected of her. Gregorius then proceeded to Bergen, where he
met Erling, who thought also that his wife had done well.
30. RECONCILIATION OF EYSTEIN AND INGE.
Then Gregorius went north to Throndhjem, and came there before
Yule. King Inge was rejoiced at his safety, and told him to use
his property as freely as his own, King Eystein having burnt
Gregorius's house, and slaughtered his stock of cattle. The
ship-docks which King Eystein the Elder had constructed in the
merchant town of Nidaros, and which had been exceedingly
expensive, were also burnt this winter, together with some good
vessels belonging to King Inge. This deed was ascribed to King
Eystein and Philip Gyrdson, King Sigurd's foster-brother, and
occasioned much displeasure and hatred. The following summer
King Inge went south with a very numerous body of men; and King
Eystein came northwards, gathering men also. They met in the
east (A.D. 1156) at the Seleys, near to the Naze; but King Inge
was by far the strongest in men. It was nearly coming to a
battle; but at last they were reconciled on these conditions,
that King Eystein should be bound to pay forty-five marks of
gold, of which King Inge should have thirty marks, because King
Eystein had occasioned the burning of the docks and ships; and,
besides, that Philip, and all who had been accomplices in the
deed, should be outlawed. Also that the men should be banished
the country, against whom it could be proved that they gave blow
or wound to King Sigurd; for King Eystein accused King Inge of
protecting these men; and that Gregorius should have fifteen
marks of gold for the value of his property burnt by King
Eystein. King Eystein was ill pleased with these terms, and
looked upon the treaty as one forced upon him. From that meeting
King Inge went eastward to Viken, and King Eystein north to
Throndhjem; and they had no intercourse with each other, nor were
the messages which passed between them very friendly, and on both
sides they killed each other's friends. King Eystein, besides,
did not pay the money; and the one accused the other of not
fulfilling what was promised. King Inge and Gregorius enticed
many people from King Eystein; among others, Bard Standale
Brynjolfson, Simon Skalp, a son of Halkel Huk, Halder
Brynjolfson, Jon Halkelson, and many other lendermen.
31. OF EYSTEIN AND INGE.
Two years after King Sigurd's fall (A.D. 1157) both kings
assembled armaments; namely, King Inge in the east of the
country, where he collected eighty ships; and King Eystein in the
north, where he had forty-five, and among these the Great Dragon,
which King Eystein Magnuson had built after the Long Serpent; and
they had on both sides many and excellent troops. King Inge lay
with his ships south at Moster Isle, and King Eystein a little to
the north in Graeningasund. King Eystein sent the young Aslak
Jonson, and Arne Sturla, a son of Snaebjorn, with one ship to
meet King Inge; but when the king's men knew them, they assaulted
them, killed many of their people, and took all that was in the
ship belonging to them. Aslak and Arne and a few more escaped to
the land, went to King Eystein, and told him how King Inge had
received them. Thereupon King Eystein held a House-thing, and
told his followers how ill King Inge had treated his men, and
desired the troops to follow him. "I have," said he, "so many,
and such excellent men, that I have no intention to fly, if ye
will follow me." But this speech was not received with much
favour. Halkel Huk was there; but both his sons, Simon and Jon,
were with King Inge. Halkel replied, so loud that many heard
him, "Let thy chests of gold follow thee, and let them defend thy
32. KING EYSTEIN'S DEATH.
In the night many of King Eystein's ships rowed secretly away,
some of them joining King Inge, some going to Bergen, or up into
the fjords; so that when it was daylight in the morning the king
was lying behind with only ten ships. Then he left the Great
Dragon, which was heavy to row, and several other vessels behind;
and cut and destroyed the Dragon, started out the ale, and
destroyed all that they could not take with them. King Eystein
went on board of the ship of Eindride, a son of Jon Morner,
sailed north into Sogn, and then took the land-road eastwards to
Viken. King Inge took the vessels, and sailed with them outside
of the isles to Viken. King Eystein had then got east as far as
Fold, and had with him 1200 men; but when they saw King Inge's
force, they did not think themselves sufficiently strong to
oppose him, and they retired to the forest. Every one fled his
own way, so that the king was left with but one man. King Inge
and his men observed King Eystein's flight, and also that he had
but few people with him, and they went immediately to search for
him. Simon Skalp met the king just as he was coming out of a
willow bush. Simon saluted him. "God save you, sire," said he.
The king replied, "I do not know if thou are not sire here."
Simon replied, "That is as it may happen."
The king begged him to conceal him, and said it was proper to do
so. "For there was long friendship between us, although it has
now gone differently."
Simon replied, it could not be.
Then the king begged that he might hear mass before he died,
which accordingly took place. Then Eystein laid himself down on
his face on the grass, stretched out his hands on each side, and
told them to cut the sign of the cross between his shoulders, and
see whether he could not bear steel as King Inge's followers had
asserted of him. Simon told the man who had to put the king to
death to do so immediately, for the king had been creeping about
upon the grass long enough. He was accordingly slain, and he
appears to have suffered manfully. His body was carried to Fors,
and lay all night under the hill at the south side of the church.
King Eystein was buried in Fors church, and his grave is in the
middle of the church-floor, where a fringed canopy is spread over
it, and he is considered a saint. Where he was executed, and his
blood ran upon the ground, sprang up a fountain, and another
under the hill where his body lay all night. From both these
waters many think they have received a cure of sickness and pain.
It is reported by the Viken people that many miracles were
wrought at King Eystein's grave, until his enemies poured upon it
soup made of boiled dog's flesh. Simon Skalp was much hated for
this deed, which was generally ascribed to him; but some said
that when King Eystein was taken Simon sent a message to King
Inge, and the king commanded that King Eystein should not come
before his face. So King Sverre has caused it to be written; but
Einar Skulason tells of it thus: --
"Simon Skalp, the traitor bold,
For deeds of murder known of old,
His king betrayed; and ne'er will he
God's blessed face hereafter see."
SAGA OF HAKON HERDEBREID (HAKON THE BROAD-SHOULDERED) (1)
This saga describes the feud between Hakon Sigurdson and his
The only skald quoted is Einar Skulason.
(1) The period is from A.D. 1157 to 1161. -- L.
1. BEGINNING OF HAKON HERDEBREID.
Hakon, King Sigurd's son, was chosen chief of the troop which had
followed King Eystein, and his adherents gave him the title of
king. He was ten years old. At that time he had with him
Sigurd, a son of Halvard Hauld of Reyr, and Andreas and Onund,
the sons of Simon, his foster-brothers, and many chiefs, friends
of King Sigurd and King Eystein; and they went first up to
Gautland. King Inge took possession of all the estates they had
left behind, and declared them banished. Thereafter King Inge
went to Viken, and was sometimes also in the north of the
country. Gregorius Dagson was in Konungahella, where the danger
was greatest, and had beside him a strong and handsome body of
men, with which he defended the country.
2. OF GREGORIUS DAGSON.
The summer after (A.D. 1158) Hakon came with his men, and
proceeded to Konungahella with a numerous and handsome troop.
Gregorius was then in the town, and summoned the bondes and
townspeople to a great Thing, at which he desired their aid; but
he thought the people did not hear him with much favour, so he
did not much trust them. Gregorius set off with two ships to
Viken, and was very much cast down. He expected to meet King
Inge there, having heard he was coming with a great army to
Viken. Now when Gregorius had come but a short way north he met
Simon Skalp, Haldor Brynjolfson, and Gyrd Amundason, King Inge's
foster-brothers. Gregorius was much delighted at this meeting,
and turned back with them, being all in one body, with eleven
ships. As they were rowing up to Konungahella, Hakon, with his
followers, was holding a Thing without the town, and saw their
approach; and Sigurd of Reyr said, "Gregorius must be fey to be
throwing himself with so few men into our hands." Gregorius
landed opposite the town to wait for King Inge, for he was
expected, but he did not come. King Hakon put himself in order
in the town, and appointed Thorliot Skaufaskalle, who was a
viking and a robber, to be captain of the men in the merchant
ships that were afloat in the river; and King Hakon and Sigurd
were within the town, and drew up the men on the piers, for all
the townspeople had submitted to King Hakon.
3. KING HAKON'S FLIGHT.
Gregorius rowed up the river, and let the ship drive down with
the stream against Thorliot. They shot at each other a while,
until Thorliot and his comrades jumped overboard; and some of
them were killed, some escaped to the land. Then Gregorius rowed
to the piers, and let a gangway be cast on shore at the very feet
of Hakon's men. There the man who carried his banner was slain,
just as he was going to step on shore. Gregorius ordered Hal, a
son of Audun Halson, to take up the banner, which he did, and
bore the banner up to the pier. Gregorius followed close after
him, held his shield over his head, and protected him as well as
himself. As soon as Gregorius came upon the pier, and Hakon's
men knew him, they gave way, and made room for him on every side.
Afterwards more people landed from the ships, and then Gregorius
made a severe assault with his men; and Hakon's men first moved
back, and then ran up into the town. Gregorius pursued them
eagerly, drove them twice from the town, and killed many of them.
By the report of all men, never was there so glorious an affair
as this of Gregorius; for Hakon had more than 4000 men, and
Gregorius not full 400. After the battle, Gregorius said to Hal
Audunson, "Many men, in my opinion, are more agile in battle than
ye Icelanders are, for ye are not so exercised as we Norwegians;
but none, I think, are so bold under arms as ye are." King Inge
came up soon after, and killed many of the men who had taken part
with Hakon; made some pay heavy fines, burnt the houses of some,
and some he drove out of the country, or treated otherwise very
ill. Hakon fled at first up to Gautland with all his men; but
the winter after (A.D. 1159), he proceeded by the upper road to
Throndhjem, and came there before Easter. The Throndhjem people
received him well, for they had always served under that shield.
It is said that the Throndhjem people took Hakon as king, on the
terms that he should have from Inge the third part of Norway as
his paternal heritage. King Inge and Gregorius were in Viken,
and Gregorius wanted to make an expedition against the party in
the north; but it came to nothing that winter, as many dissuaded
4. FALL OF GYRD AND HAVARD.
King Hakon left Throndhjem in spring with thirty ships nearly;
and some of his men sailed before the rest with seven ships, and
plundered in North and South More. No man could remember that
there ever before had been plundering between the two towns
(Bergen and Nidaros). Jon the son of Halkel Huk collected the
bondes in arms, and proceeded against them; took Kolbein Ode
prisoner, killed every woman's son of them in his ship. Then
they searched for the others, found them all assembled in seven
ships, and fought with them; but his father Halkel not coming to
his assistance as he had promised, many good bondes were killed,
and Jon himself was wounded. Hakon proceeded south to Bergen
with his forces; but when he came to Stiornvelta, he heard that
King Inge and Gregorius had arrived a few nights before from the
east at Bergen, and therefore he did not venture to steer
thither. They sailed the outer course southwards past Bergen,
and met three ships of King Inge's fleet, which had been
outsailed on the voyage from the east. On board of them were
Gyrd Amundason, King Inge's foster-brother, who was married to
Gyrid a sister of Gregorius, and also lagman Gyrd Gunhildson, and
Havard Klining. King Hakon had Gyrd Amundason and Havard Klining
put to death; but took lagman Gyrd southwards, and then proceeded
east to Viken.
5. OF THE CONSULTATIONS OF KING INGE.
When King Inge heard of this he sailed east after them, and they
met east in the Gaut river. King Inge went up the north arm of
the river, and sent out spies to get news of Hakon and his fleet;
but he himself landed at Hising, and waited for his spies. Now
when the spies came back they went to the king, and said that
they had seen King Hakon's forces, and all his ships which lay at
the stakes in the river, and Hakon's men had bound the stems of
their vessels to them. They had two great East-country trading
vessels, which they had laid outside of the fleet, and on both
these were built high wooded stages (castles). When King Inge
heard the preparations they had made, he ordered a trumpet to
call a House-thing of all the men; and when the Thing was seated
he asked his men for counsel, and applied particularly to
Gregorius Dagson, his brother-in-law Erling Skakke, and other
lendermen and ship-commanders, to whom he related the
preparations of Hakon and his men.
Then Gregorius Dagson replied first, and made known his mind in
the following words: -- "Sometimes we and Hakon have met, and
generally they had the most people; but, notwithstanding, they
fell short in battle against us. Now, on the other hand, we have
by far the greatest force; and it will appear probable to the men
who a short time ago lost gallant relations by them, that this
will be a good occasion to get vengeance, for they have fled
before us the greater part of the summer; and we have often said
that if they waited for us, as appears now to be the case, we
would have a brush with them. Now I will tell my opinion, which
is, that I will engage them, if it be agreeable to the king's
pleasure; for I think it will go now as formerly, that they must
give way before us if we attack them bravely; and I shall always
attack where others may think it most difficult."
The speech was received with much applause, and all declared they
were ready to engage in battle against Hakon. Then they rowed
with all the ships up the river, until they came in sight of each
other, and then King Inge turned off from the river current under
the island. Now the king addressed the lendermen again, and told
them to get ready for battle. He turned himself especially to
Erling Skakke, and said, what was true, that no man in the army
had more understanding and knowledge in fighting battles,
although some were more hot. The king then addressed himself to
several of the lendermen, speaking to them by name; and ended by
desiring that each man should make his attack where he thought it
would be of advantage, and thereafter all would act together.
6. ERLING'S SPEECH.
Erling Skakke replied thus to the king's speech: "It is my duty,
sire, not to be silent; and I shall give my advice, since it is
desired. The resolution now adopted is contrary to my judgment;
for I call it foolhardy to fight under these circumstances,
although we have so many and such fine men. Supposing we make an
attack on them, and row up against this river-current; then one
of the three men who are in each half room must be employed in
rowing only, and another must be covering with the shield the man
who rows; and what have we then to fight with but one third of
our men? It appears to me that they can be of little use in the
battle who are sitting at their oars with their backs turned to
the enemy. Give me now some time for consideration, and I
promise you that before three days are over I shall fall upon
some plan by which we can come into battle with advantage."
It was evident from Erling's speech that he dissuaded from an
attack; but, notwithstanding, it was urged by many who thought
that Hakon would now, as before, take to the land. "And then,"
said they, "we cannot get hold of him; but now they have but few
men, and we have their fate in our own hands."
Gregorius said but little; but thought that Erling rather
dissuaded from an attack that Gregorius's advice should have no
effect, than that he had any better advice to give.
7. OF HAKON'S FLEET.
Then said King Inge to Erling, "Now we will follow thy advice,
brother, with regard to the manner of attacking; but seeing how
eager our counsellors are for it, we shall make the attack this
Erling replied, "All the boats and light vessels we have should
row outside the island, and up the east arm of the river, and
then down with the stream upon them, and try if they cannot cut
them loose from the piles. Then we, with the large ships, shall
row from below here against them; and I cannot tell until it be
tried, if those who are now so furiously warm will be much
brisker at the attack than I am."
This counsel was approved by all. There was a ness stretched out
between their fleet and Hakon's, so that they could not see each
other. Now when Hakon and his men, who had taken counsel with
each other in a meeting, saw the boat-squadron rowing down the
river, some thought King Inge intended to give them battle; but
many believed they did not dare, for it looked as if the attack
was given up; and they, besides, were very confident, both in
their preparations and men. There were many great people with
Hakon: there were Sigurd of Reyr, and Simon's sons; Nikolas
Skialdvarson; Eindride, a son of Jon Mornef, who was the most
gallant and popular man in the Throndhjem country; and many other
lendermen and warriors. Now when they saw that King Inge's men
with many ships were rowing out of the river, Hakon and his men
believed they were going to fly; and therefore they cut their
land-ropes with which they lay fast at the piles, seized their
oars, and rowed after them in pursuit. The ships ran fast down
with the stream; but when they came further down the river,
abreast of the ness, they saw King Inge's main strength lying
quiet at the island Hising. King Inge's people saw Hakon's ships
under way, and believed they were coming to attack them; and now
there was great bustle and clash of arms, and they encouraged
each other by a great war-shout. Hakon with his fleet turned
northwards a little to the land, where there was a turn in the
bight of the river, and where there was no current. They made
ready for battle, carried land-ropes to the shore, turned the
stems of their ships outwards, and bound them all together. They
laid the large East-country traders without the other vessels,
the one above, the other below, and bound them to the long-ships.
In the middle of the fleet lay the king's ship, and next to it
Sigurd's; and on the other side of the king's ship lay Nikolas,
and next to him Endride Jonson. All the smaller ships lay
farther off, and they were all nearly loaded with weapons and
8. SIGURD OF REYR'S SPEECH.
Then Sigurd of Reyr made the following speech: "Now there is hope
that the time is come which has been promised us all the summer,
that we shall meet King Inge in battle. We have long prepared
ourselves for this; and many of our comrades have boasted that
they would never fly from or submit to King Inge and Gregorius,
and now let them remember their words. But we who have sometimes
got the toothache in our conflicts with them, speak less
confidently; for it has happened, as all have heard, that we very
often have come off without glory. But, nevertheless, it is now
necessary to fight manfully, and stand to it with steadiness; for
the only escape for us is in victory. Although we have somewhat
fewer men than they, yet luck determines which side shall have
the advantage, and God knows that the right is on our side. Inge
has killed two of his brothers; and it is obvious to all men that
the mulct he intends to pay King Hakon for his father's murder is
to murder him also, as well as his other relations, which will be
seen this day to be his intent. King Hakon desired from the
beginning no more of Norway than the third part, which his father
had possessed, and which was denied him; and yet, in my opinion,
King Hakon has a better right to inherit after his father's
brother, King Eystein, than Inge or Simon Skalp, or the other men
who killed King Eystein. Many of them who would save their
souls, and yet have defiled their hands with such bloody deeds as
Inge has done, must think it a presumption before God that he
takes the name of king; and I wonder God suffers such monstrous
wickedness as his; but it may be God's will that we shall now put
him down. Let us fight then manfully, and God will give us
victory; and, if we fall, will repay us with joys unspeakable for
now allowing the might of the wicked to prevail over us. Go
forth then in confidence, and be not afraid when the battle
begins. Let each watch over his own and his comrade's safety,
and God protect us all." There went a good report abroad of this
speech of Sigurd, and all promised fairly, and to do their duty.
King Hakon went on board of the great East-country ship, and a
shield-bulwark was made around him; but his standard remained on
the long-ship in which it had been before.
9. OF KING INGE'S MEN.
Now must we tell about King Inge and his men. When they saw that
King Hakon and his people were ready for battle, and the river
only was between them, they sent a light vessel to recall the
rest of the fleet which had rowed away; and in the meantime the
king waited for them, and arranged the troops for the attack.
Then the chiefs consulted in presence of the army, and told their
opinions; first, which ships should lie nearest to the enemy; and
then where each should attack.
Gregorius spoke thus: "We have many and fine men; and it is my
advice, King Inge, that you do not go to the assault with us, for
everything is preserved if you are safe. And no man knows where
an arrow may hit, even from the hands of a bad bowman; and they
have prepared themselves so, that missiles and stones can be
thrown from the high stages upon the merchant ships, so that
there is less danger for those who are farthest from them. They
have not more men than we lendermen can very well engage with. I
shall lay my ship alongside their largest ship, and I expect the
conflict between us will be but short; for it has often been so
in our former meetings, although there has been a much greater
want of men with us than now." All thought well of the advice
that the king himself should not take part in the battle.
Then Erling Skakke said, "I agree also to the counsel that you,
sire, should not go into the battle. It appears to me that their
preparations are such, that we require all our precaution not to
suffer a great defeat from them; and whole limbs are the easiest
cured. In the council we held before to-day many opposed what I
said, and ye said then that I did not want to fight; but now I
think the business has altered its appearance, and greatly to our
advantage, since they have hauled off from the piles, and now it
stands so that I do not dissuade from giving battle; for I see,
what all are sensible of, how necessary it is to put an end to
this robber band who have gone over the whole country with
pillage and destruction, in order that people may cultivate the
land in peace, and serve a king so good and just as King Inge who
has long had trouble and anxiety from the haughty unquiet spirit
of his relations, although he has been a shield of defence for
the whole people, and has been exposed to manifold perils for the
peace of the country." Erling spoke well and long, and many
other chiefs also; and all to the same purpose -- all urging to
battle. In the meantime they waited until all the fleet should
be assembled. King Inge had the ship Baekisudin; and, at the
entreaty of his friends, he did not join the battle, but lay
still at the island.
10. BEGINNING OF THE BATTLE.
When the army was ready they rowed briskly against the enemy, and
both sides raised a war-shout. Inge's men did not bind their
ships together, but let them be loose; for they rowed right
across the current, by which the large ships were much swayed.
Erling Skakke laid his ship beside King Hakon's ship, and ran the
stem between his and Sigurd's ship, by which the battle began.
But Gregorius's ship swung upon the ground, and heeled very much
over, so that at first she could not come into the battle; and
when Hakon's men saw this they laid themselves against her, and
attacked Gregorius's ship on all sides. Ivar, Hakon Mage's son,
laid his ship so that the stems struck together; and he got a
boat-hook fastened on Gregorius, on that part of his body where
the waist is smallest, and dragged him to him, by which Gregorius
stumbled against the ship's rails; but the hook slipped to one
side, or Gregorius would have been dragged over-board.
Gregorius, however, was but little wounded, for he had on a plate
coat of armour. Ivar called out to him, that he had a "thick
bark." Gregorius replied, that if Ivar went on so he would
"require it all, and not have too much." It was very near then
that Gregorius and his men had sprung overboard; but Aslak Unge
threw an anchor into their ship, and dragged them off the ground.
Then Gregorius laid himself against Ivar's ship, and they fought
a long while; but Gregorius's ship being both higher sided and
more strongly manned, many people fell in Ivar's ship, and some
jumped overboard. Ivar was so severely wounded that he could not
take part in the fight. When his ship was cleared of the men,
Gregorius let Ivar be carried to the shore, so that he might
escape; and from that time they were constant friends.
11. KING HAKON'S FLIGHT.
When King Inge and his men saw that Gregorius was aground, he
encouraged his crew to row to his assistance. "It was," he said,
"the most imprudent advice that we should remain lying here,
while our friends are in battle; for we have the largest and best
ship in all the fleet. But now I see that Gregorius, the man to
whom I owe the most, is in need of help; so we must hasten to the
fight where it is sharpest. It is also most proper that I should
be in the battle; for the victory, if we win it, will belong to
me. And if I even knew beforehand that our men were not to gain
the battle, yet our place is where our friends are; for I can do
nothing if I lose the men who are justly called the defence of
the country, who are the bravest, and have long ruled for me and
my kingdom." Thereupon he ordered his banner to be set up, which
was done; and they rowed across the river. Then the battle
raged, and the king could not get room to attack, so close lay
the ships before him. First he lay under the East-country
trading ship, and from it they threw down upon his vessel spears,
iron-shod stakes, and such large stones that it was impossible to
hold out longer there, and he had to haul off. Now when the
king's people saw that he was come they made place for him, and
then he laid alongside of Eindride Jonson's ship. Now King
Hakon's men abandoned the small ships, and went on board the
large merchant vessels; but some of them sprang on shore. Erling
Skakke and his men had a severe conflict. Erling himself was on
the forecastle, and called his forecastlemen, and ordered them to
board the king's ship; but they answered, this was no easy
matter, for there were beams above with an iron comb on them.
Then Erling himself went to the bow, and stayed there a while,
until they succeeded in getting on board the king's ship: and
then the ship was cleared of men on the bows, and the whole army
gave way. Many sprang into the water, many fell, but the greater
number got to the land. So says Einar Skulason: --
"Men fall upon the slippery deck --
Men roll off from the blood-drenched wreck;
Dead bodies float down with the stream,
And from the shores witch-ravens scream.
The cold blue river now runs red
With the warm blood of warriors dead,
And stains the waves in Karmt Sound
With the last drops of the death-wound.
"All down the stream, with unmann'd prow,
Floats many an empty long-ship now,
Ship after ship, shout after shout,
Tell that Kign Hakon can't hold out.
The bowmen ply their bows of elm,
The red swords flash o'er broken helm:
King Hakon's men rush to the strand,
Out of their ships, up through the land."
Einar composed a song about Gregorius Dagson, which is called the
River-song. King Inge granted life and peace to Nikolas
Skialdvarson when his ship was deserted, and thereupon he went
into King Inge's service, and remained in it as long as the king
lived. Eindride Jonson leaped on board of King Inge's ship when
his own was cleared of men, and begged for his life. King Inge
wished to grant it; but Havard Klining's son ran up, and gave him
a mortal wound, which was much blamed; but he said Eindride had
been the cause of his father's death. There was much lamentation
at Eindride's death, but principally in the Throndhjem district.
Many of Hakon's people fell here, but not many chiefs. Few of
King Inge's people fell, but many were wounded. King Hakon fled
up the country, and King Inge went north to Viken with his
troops; and he, as well as Gregorius, remained in Viken all
winter (A.D. 1160). When King Inge's men, Bergliot and his
brothers, sons of Ivar of Elda, came from the battle to Bergen,
they slew Nickolas Skeg, who had been Hakon's treasurer, and then
went north to Throndhjem.
King Hakon came north before Yule, and Sigurd was sometimes home
at Reyr; for Gregorius, who was nearly related to Sigurd, had
obtained for him life and safety from King Inge, so that he
retained all his estates. King Hakon was in the merchant-town of
Nidaros in Yule; and one evening in the beginning of Yule his men
fought in the room of the court, and in this affray eight men
were killed, and many were wounded. The eighth day of Yule, King
Hakon's man Alf Rode, son of Ottar Birting, with about eighty
men, went to Elda, and came in the night unexpectedly on the
people, who were very drunk, and set fire to the room; but they
went out, and defended themselves bravely. There fell Bergliot,
Ivar's son, and Ogmund, his brother, and many more. They had
been nearly thirty altogether in number. In winter died, north
in the merchant-town, Andres Simonson, King Hakon's foster-
brother; and his death was much deplored. Erling Skakke and
Inge's men, who were in Bergen, threatened that in winter they
would proceed against Hakon and his men; but it came to nothing.
Gregorius sent word from the east, from Konungahella, that if he
were so near as Erling and his men, he would not sit quietly in
Bergen while Hakon was killing King Inge's friends and their
comrades in war north in the Throndhjem country.
12. THE CONFLICT UPON THE PIERS.
King Inge and Gregorius left the east in spring, and came to
Bergen; but as soon as Hakon and Sigurd heard that Inge had left
Viken, they went there by land. When King Inge and his people
came to Bergen, a quarrel arose between Haldor Brynjolfson and
Bjorn Nikolason. Bjorn's house-man asked Haldor's when they met
at the pier, why he looked so pale.
He replied, because he had been bled.
"I could not look so pale if I tried, at merely being bled."
"I again think," retorted the other, "that thou wouldst have
borne it worse, and less manfully." And no other beginning was
there for their quarrel than this. Afterwards one word followed
another, till from brawling they came to fighting. It was told
to Haldor Brynjolfson, who was in the house drinking, that his
house-man was wounded down on the pier and he went there
immediately. But Bjorn's house-men had come there before, and as
Haldor thought his house-man had been badly treated, he went up
to them and beat them; and it was told to Bjorn Buk that the
people of Viken were beating his house-men on the pier. Then
Bjorn and his house-men took their weapons, hurried down to the
pier, and would avenge their men; and a bloody strife began. It
was told Gregorius that his relation Haldor required assistance,
and that his house-men were being cut down in the street; on
which Gregorius and his men ran to the place in their armour.
Now it was told Erling Skakke that his sister's son Bjorn was
fighting with Gregorius and Haldor down on the piers, and that he
needed help. Then he proceeded thither with a great force, and
exhorted the people to stand by him; saying it would be a great
disgrace never to be wiped out, if the Viken people should
trample upon them in their own native place. There fell thirteen
men, of whom nine were killed on the spot, and four died of their
wounds, and many were wounded. When the word came to King Inge
that Gregorius and Erling were fighting down on the piers, he
hastened there, and tried to separate them; but could do nothing,
so mad were they on both sides. Then Gregorius called to Inge,
and told him to go away; for it was in vain to attempt coming
between them, as matters now stood. He said it would be the
greatest misfortune if the king mixed himself up with it; for he
could not be certain that there were not people in the fray who
would commit some great misdeed if they had opportunity. Then
King Inge retired; and when the greatest tumult was over,
Gregorius and his men went to Nikolas church, and Erling behind
them, calling to each other. Then King Inge came a second time,
and pacified them; and both agreed that he should mediate between
When King Inge and Gregorius heard that King Hakon was in Viken,
they went east with many ships; but when they came King Hakon
fled from them, and there was no battle. Then King Inge went to
Oslo, and Gregorius was in Konungahella.
13. MUNAN'S DEATH.
Soon after Gregorius heard that Hakon and his men were at a farm
called Saurby, which lies up beside the forest. Gregorius
hastened there; came in the night; and supposing that King Hakon
and Sigurd would be in the largest of the houses, set fire to the
buildings there. But Hakon and his men were in the smaller
house, and came forth, seeing the fire, to help their people.
There Munan fell, a son of Ale Uskeynd, a brother of King Sigurd
Hakon's father. Gregorius and his men killed him, because he was
helping those whom they were burning within the house. Some
escaped, but many were killed. Asbjorn Jalda, who had been a
very great viking, escaped from the house, but was grievously
wounded. A bonde met him, and he offered the man money to let
him get away; but the bonde replied, he would do what he liked
best; and, adding that he had often been in fear of his life for
him, he slew him. King Hakon and Sigurd escaped, but many of
their people were killed. Thereafter Gregorius returned home to
Konungahella. Soon after King Hakon and Sigurd went to Haldor
Brynjolfson's farm of Vettaland, set fire to the house, and burnt
it. Haldor went out, and was cut down instantly with his house-
men; and in all there were about twenty men killed. Sigrid,
Haldor's wife, was a sister of Gregorius, and they allowed her to
escape into the forest in her night-shift only; but they took
with them Amunde, who was a son of Gyrd Amundason and of Gyrid
Dag's daughter, and a sister's son of Gregorius, and who was then
a boy about five years old.
14. OF THE FALL OF GREGORIUS DAGSON.
When Gregorius heard the news he took it much to heart, and
inquired carefully where they were. Gregorius set out from
Konungahella late in Yule, and came to Fors the thirteenth day of
Yule, where he remained a night, and heard vespers the last day
of Yule, which was a Saturday, and the holy Evangel was read
before him. When Gregorius and his followers saw the men of King
Hakon and Sigurd, the king's force appeared to them smaller than
their own. There was a river called Befia between them, where
they met; and there was unsound ice on the river, for there went
a stream under the ice from it. King Hakon and his men had cut a
rent in the ice, and laid snow over it, so that nobody could see
it. When Gregorius came to the ice on the river the ice appeared
to him unsound, he said; and he advised the people to go to the
bridge, which was close by, to cross the river. The bonde-troops
replied, that they did not know why he should be afraid to go
across the ice to attack so few people as Hakon had, and the ice
was good enough. Gregorius said it was seldom necessary to
encourage him to show bravery, and it should not be so now. Then
he ordered them to follow him, and not to be standing on the land
while he was on the ice, and he said it was their council to go
out upon the dangerous ice, but he had no wish to do so, or to be
led by them. Then he ordered the banner to be advanced, and
immediately went out on the ice with the men. As soon as the
bondes found that the ice was unsound they turned back.
Gregorius fell through the ice, but not very deep, and he told
his men to take care. There were not more than twenty men with
him, the others having turned back. A man of King Hakon's troop
shot an arrow at Gregorius, which hit him under the throat, and
thus ended his life. Gregorius fell, and ten men with him. It
is the talk of all men that he had been the most gallant
lenderman in Norway that any man then living could remember; and
also he behaved the best towards us Icelanders of any chief since
King Eystein the Elder's death. Gregorius's body was carried to
Hofund, and interred at Gimsey Isle, in a nunnery which is there,
of which Gregorius's sister, Baugeid, was then the abbess.
15. KING INGE HEARS OF GREGORIUS'S FALL.
Two bailiffs went to Oslo to bring the tidings to King Inge.
When they arrived they desired to speak to the king: and he
asked, what news they brought.
"Gregorius Dagson's death," said they.
"How came that misfortune?" asked the king.
When they had told him how it happened, he said, "They gave
advice who understood the least."
It is said he took it so much to heart that he cried like a
child. When he recovered himself he said, "I wanted to go to
Gregorius as soon as I heard of Haldor's murder; for I thought
that Gregorius would not sit long before thinking. of revenge.
But the people here would think nothing so important as their
Yule feasts, and nothing could move them away; and I am confident
that if I had been there, he would either have proceeded more
cautiously, or I and Gregorius would now have shared one lodging.
Now he is gone, the man who has been my best friend, and more
than any other has kept the kingdom in my hands; and I think it
will be but a short space between us. Now I make an oath to go
forth against Hakon, and one of two things shall happen: I shall
either come to my death, or shall walk over Hakon and his people;
and such a man as Gregorius is not avenged, even if all were to
pay the penalty of their lives for him."
There was a man present who replied, "Ye need not seek after
them, for they intend to seek you."
Kristin, King Sigurd's daughter and King Inge's cousin, was then
in Oslo. The king heard that she intended going away. He sent a
message to her to inquire why she wished to leave the town.
She thought it was dangerous and unsafe for a female to be there.
The king would not let her go. "For if it go well with me, as I
hope, you will be well here; and if I fall, my friends may not
get leave to dress my body; but you can ask permission, and it
will not be denied you, and you will thereby best requite what I
have done for you."
16. OF KING INGE.
On Saint Blasius' day (February 3, 1161), in the evening, King
Inge's spies brought him the news that King Hakon was coming
towards the town. Then King Inge ordered the war-horns to call
together all the troops up from the town; and when he drew them
up he could reckon them to be nearly 4000 men. The king let the
array be long, but not more than five men deep. Then some said
that the king should not be himself in the battle, as they
thought the risk too great; but that his brother Orm should be
the leader of the army. The king replied, "I think if Gregorius
were alive and here now, and I had fallen and was to be avenged,
he would not lie concealed, but would be in the battle. Now,
although I, on account of my ill health, am not fit for the
combat as he was, yet will I show as good will as he would have
had; and it is not to be thought of that I should not be in the
People say that Gunhild, who was married to Simon, King Hakon's
foster-brother, had a witch employed to sit out all night and
procure the victory for Hakon; and that the answer was obtained,
that they should fight King Inge by night, and never by day, and
then the result would be favourable. The witch who, as people
say, sat out was called Thordis Skeggia; but what truth there may
be in the report I know not.
Simon Skalp had gone to the town, and was gone to sleep, when the
war-shouts awoke him. When the night was well advanced, King
Inge's spies came to him, and told him that King Hakon and his
army were coming over the ice; for the ice lay the whole way from
the town to Hofud Isle.
17. KING INGE'S SPEECH.
Thereupon King Inge went with his army out on the ice, and he
drew it up in order of battle in front of the town. Simon Skalp
was in that wing of the array which was towards Thraelaberg; and
on the other wing, which was towards the Nunnery, was Gudrod, the
king of the South Hebudes, a son of Olaf Klining, and Jon, a son
of Svein Bergthor Buk. When King Hakon and his army came near to
King Inge's array, both sides raised a war-shout. Gudrod and Jon
gave King Hakon and his men a sign, and let them know where they
were in the line; and as soon as Hakon's men in consequence
turned thither, Gudrod immediately fled with 1500 men; and Jon,
and a great body of men with him, ran over to King Hakon's army,
and assisted them in the fight. When this news was told to King
Inge, he said, "Such is the difference between my friends. Never
would Gregorius have done so in his life!" There were some who
advised King Inge to get on horseback, and ride from the battle
up to Raumarike; "where," said they, "you would get help enough,
even this very day." The king replied, he had no inclination to
do so. "I have heard you often say, and I think truly, that it
was of little use to my brother, King Eystein, that he took to
flight; and yet he was a man distinguished for many qualities
which adorn a king. Now I, who labour under so great
decrepitude, can see how bad my fate would be, if I betook myself
to what proved so unfortunate for him; with so great a difference
as there is between our activity, health, and strength. I was in
the second year of my age when I was chosen king of Norway, and I
am now twenty-five; and I think I have had misfortune and sorrow
under my kingly dignity, rather than pleasure and peaceful days.
I have had many battles, sometimes with more, sometimes with
fewer people; and it is my greatest luck that I have never fled.
God will dispose of my life, and of how long it shall be; but I
shall never betake myself to flight."
18. KING INGE'S FALL.
Now as Jon and his troop had broken the one wing of King Inge's
array, many of those who were nearest to him fled, by which the
whole array was dispersed, and fell into disorder. But Hakon and
his men went briskly forwards; and now it was near daybreak. An
assault was made against King Inge's banner, and in this conflict
King Inge fell; but his brother Orm continued the battle, while
many of the army fled up into the town. Twice Orm went to the
town after the king's fall to encourage the people, and both
times returned, and went out again upon the ice to continue the
battle. Hakon's men attacked the wing of the array which Simon
Skalp led; and in that assault fell of King Inge's men his
brother-in-law, Gudbrand Skafhogson. Simon Skalp and Halvard
Hikre went against each other with their troops, and fought while
they drew aside past Thraelaberg; and in this conflict both Simon
and Halvard fell. Orm, the king's brother, gained great
reputation in this battle; but he at last fled. Orm the winter
before had been contracted with Ragna, a daughter of Nikolas
Mase, who had been married before to King Eystein Haraldson; and
the wedding was fixed for the Sunday after Saint Blasius's mass,
which was on a Friday. Orm fled east to Svithjod, where his
brother Magnus was then king; and their brother Ragnvald was an
earl there at that time. They were the sons of Queen Ingerid and
Henrik Halte, who was a son of the Danish king Svein Sveinson.
The princess Kristin took care of King Inge's body, which was
laid on the stone wall of Halvard's church, on the south side
without the choir. He had then been king for twenty-three years
(A.D. 1137-1161). In this battle many fell on both sides, but
principally of King Inge's men. Of King Hakon's people fell Arne
Frirekson. Hakon's men took all the feast and victuals prepared
for the wedding, and a great booty besides.
19. OF KING HAKON AND QUEEN KRISTIN.
Then King Hakon took possession of the whole country, and
distributed all the offices among his own friends, both in the
towns and in the country. King Hakon and his men had a meeting
in Halvard's church, where they had a private conference
concerning the management of the country. Kristin the princess
gave the priest who kept the church keys a large sum of money to
conceal one of her men in the church, so that she might know what
Hakon and his counsellors intended. When she learnt what they
had said, she sent a man to Bergen to her husband Erling Skakke,
with the message that he should never trust Hakon or his men.
20. OF OLAF'S MIRACLE.
It happened at the battle of Stiklestad, as before related, that
King Olaf threw from him the sword called Hneiter when he
received his wound. A Swedish man, who had broken his own sword,
took it up, and fought with it. When this man escaped with the
other fugitives he came to Svithjod, and went home to his house.
From that time he kept the sword all his days, and afterwards his
son, and so relation after relation; and when the sword shifted
its owner, the one told to the other the name of the sword and
where it came from. A long time after, in the days of Kirjalax
the emperor of Constantinople, when there was a great body of
Varings in the town, it happened in the summer that the emperor
was on a campaign, and lay in the camp with his army. The
Varings who had the guard, and watched over the emperor, lay on
the open plain without the camp. They changed the watch with
each other in the night, and those who had been before on watch
lay down and slept; but all completely armed. It was their
custom, when they went to sleep, that each should have his helmet
on his head, his shield over him, sword under the head, and the
right hand on the sword-handle. One of these comrades, whose lot
it was to watch the latter part of the night, found, on awakening
towards morning, that his sword was gone. He looked after it,
and saw it lying on the flat plain at a distance from him. He
got up and took the sword, thinking that his comrades who had
been on watch had taken the sword from him in a joke; but they
all denied it. The same thing happened three nights. Then he
wondered at it, as well as they who saw or heard of it; and
people began to ask him how it could have happened. He said that
his sword was called Hneiter, and had belonged to King Olaf the
Saint, who had himself carried it in the battle of Stiklestad;
and he also related how the sword since that time had gone from
one to another. This was told to the emperor, who called the man
before him to whom the sword belonged, and gave him three times
as much gold as the sword was worth; and the sword itself he had
laid in Saint Olaf's church, which the Varings supported, where
it has been ever since over the altar. There was a lenderman of
Norway while Harald Gille's sons, Eystein, Inge, and Sigurd
lived, who was called Eindride Unge; and he was in Constantinople
when these events took place. He told these circumstances in
Norway, according to what Einar Skulason says in his song about
King Olaf the Saint, in which these events are sung.
21. OLAF'S MIRACLE IN FAVOUR OF THE VARINGS.
It happened once in the Greek country, when Kirjalax was emperor
there, that he made an expedition against Blokumannaland. When
he came to the Pezina plains, a heathen king came against him
with an innumerable host. He brought with him many horsemen, and
many large waggons, in which were large loop-holes for shooting
through. When they prepared for their night quarters they drew
up their waggons, one by the side of the other, without their
tents, and dug a great ditch without; and all which made a
defence as strong as a castle. The heathen king was blind. Now
when the Greek king came, the heathens drew up their array on the
plains before their waggon-fortification. The Greeks drew up
their array opposite, and they rode on both sides to fight with
each other; but it went on so ill and so unfortunately, that the
Greeks were compelled to fly after suffering a great defeat, and
the heathens gained a victory. Then the king drew up an array of
Franks and Flemings, who rode against the heathens, and fought
with them; but it went with them as with the others, that many
were killed, and all who escaped took to flight. Then the Greek
king was greatly incensed at his men-at-arms; and they replied,
that he should now take his wine-bags, the Varings. The king
says that he would not throw away his jewels, and allow so few
men, however bold they might be, to attack so vast an army. Then
Thorer Helsifig, who at that time was leader of the Varings
replied to the king's words, "If there was burning fire in the
way, I and my people would run into it, if I knew the king's
advantage required it." Then the king replied, "Call upon your
holy King Olaf for help and strength." The Varings, who were 450
men, made a vow with hand and word to build a church in
Constantinople, at their own expense and with the aid of other
good men, and have the church consecrated to the honour and glory
of the holy King Olaf; and thereupon the Varings rushed into the
plain. When the heathens saw them, they told their king that
there was another troop of the Greek king's army come out upon
the plain; but they were only a handful of people. The king
says, "Who is that venerable man riding on a white horse at the
head of the troop?" They replied, "We do not see him." There
was so great a difference of numbers, that there were sixty
heathens for every Christian man; but notwithstanding the Varings
went boldly to the attack. As soon as they met terror and alarm
seized the army of the heathens, and they instantly began to fly;
but the Varings pursued, and soon killed a great number of them.
When the Greeks and Franks who before had fled from the heathens
saw this, they hastened to take part, and pursue the enemy with
the others. Then the Varings had reached the waggon-
fortification, where the greatest defeat was given to the enemy.
The heathen king was taken in the flight of his people, and the
Varings brought him along with them; after which the Christians
took the camp of the heathens, and their waggon-fortification.
MAGNUS ERLINGSON'S SAGA.
With this saga, which describes a series of conflicts, Snorre's
"Heimskringla" ends. King Eystein died in 1177, but Magnus
Erlingson continued to reign until his death in 1184. The
conflicts continued until the opposition party was led to victory
by King Sverre.
The only skald quoted is Thorbjorn Skakkaskald.
1. OF MAGNUS ERLINGSON'S BEGINNING.
When Erling got certain intelligence of the determinations of
Hakon and his counsellors, he sent a message to all the chiefs
who he knew had been steady friends of King Inge, and also to his
court-men and his retinue, who had saved themselves by flight,
and also to all Gregorius's house-men, and called them together
to a meeting. When they met, and conversed with each other, they
resolved to keep their men together; and which resolution they
confirmed by oath and hand-shake to each other. Then they
considered whom they should take to be king. Erling Skakke first
spoke, and inquired if it was the opinion of the chiefs and other
men of power that Simon Skalp's son, the son of the daughter of
King Harald Gille, should be chosen king, and Jon Halkelson be
taken to lead the army; but Jon refused it. Then it was inquired
if Nikolas Skialdvarson, a sister's son of King Magnus Barefoot,
would place himself at the head of the army; but he answered
thus: -- It was his opinion that some one should be chosen king
who was of the royal race; and, for leader of the troops, some
one from whom help and understanding were to be looked for; and
then it would be easier to gather an army. It was now tried
whether Arne would let any of his sons, King Inge's brothers, be
proclaimed king. Arne replies, that Kristin's son, she was the
daughter of King Sigurd the Crusader, was nearest by propinquity
of descent to the crown of Norway. "And here is also a man to be
his adviser, and whose duty it is to take care of him and of the
kingdom; and that man is his father Erling, who is both prudent,
brave, experienced in war, and an able man in governing the
kingdom; he wants no capability of bringing this counsel into
effect, if luck be with him." Many thought well of this advice.
Erling replied to it, "As far as I can see or hear in this
meeting, the most will rather be excused from taking upon
themselves such a difficult business. Now it appears to me
altogether uncertain, provided we begin this work, whether he who
puts himself at the head of it will gain any honour; or whether
matters will go as they have done before when any one undertakes
such great things, that he loses all his property and possibly
his life. But if this counsel be adopted, there may be men who
will undertake to carry it through; but he who comes under such
an obligation must seek, in every way, to prevent any opposition
or enmity from those who are now in this council."
All gave assurance that they would enter into this confederacy
with perfect fidelity. Then said Erling, "I can say for myself
that it would almost be my death to serve King Hakon; and however
dangerous it may be, I will rather venture to adopt your advice,
and take upon me to lead this force, if that be the will,
counsel, and desire of you all, and if you will all bind
yourselves to this agreement by oath."
To this they all agreed; and in this meeting it was determined to
take Erling's son Magnus to be king. They afterwards held a
Thing in the town; and at this Thing Magnus Erlingson, then five
years old, was elected king of the whole country. All who had
been servants of King Inge went into his service, and each of
them retained the office and dignity he had held under King Inge
2. KING MAGNUS GOES TO DENMARK.
Erling Skakke made himself ready to travel, fitted out ships, and
had with him King Magnus, together with the household-men who
were on the spot. In this expedition were the king's relatives,
-- Arne; Ingerid, King Inge's mother, with her two sons; besides
Jon Kutiza, a son of Sigurd Stork, and Erling's house-men, as
well as those who had been Gregorius's house-men; and they had in
all ten ships. They went south to Denmark to King Valdemar and
Buriz Heinrekson, King Inge's brother. King Valdemar was King
Magnus's blood-relation; for Ingebjorg, mother of King Valdemar,
and Malmfrid, mother of Kristin, King Magnus's mother, were
cousins. The Danish king received them hospitably, and he and
Erling had private meetings and consultations: and so much was
known of their counsels, that King Valdemar was to aid King
Magnus with such help as might be required from his kingdom to
win and retain Norway. On the other hand, King Valdemar should
get that domain in Norway which his ancestors Harald Gormson and
Svein Forked-beard had possessed; namely, the whole of Viken as
far north as Rygiarbit. This agreement was confirmed by oath and
a fixed treaty. Then Erling and King Magnus made themselves
ready to leave Denmark, and they sailed out of Vendilskage.
3. BATTLE OF TUNSBERG.
King Hakon went in spring, after the Easter week, north to
Throndhjem, and had with him the whole fleet that had belonged to
King Inge. He held a Thing there in the merchant-town, and was
chosen king of the whole country. Then he made Sigurd of Reyr an
earl, and gave him an earldom, and afterwards proceeded
southwards with his followers all the way to Viken. The king
went to Tunsberg; but sent Earl Sigurd east to Konungahella, to
defend the country with a part of the forces in case Erling
should come from the south. Erling and his fleet came to Agder,
and went straight north to Bergen, where they killed Arne
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