Heimskringla The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
Part 4 out of 18
land, and peace was well preserved in the country among the
bondes. The Earl, for the greater part of his lifetime, was
therefore much beloved by the bondes; but it happened, in the
longer course of time, that the earl became very intemperate in
his intercourse with women, and even carried it so far that he
made the daughters of people of consideration be carried away and
brought home to him; and after keeping them a week or two as
concubines, he sent them home. He drew upon himself the
indignation of me relations of these girls; and the bondes began
to murmur loudly, as the Throndhjem people have the custom of
doing when anything goes against their judgment.
51. THORER KLAKKA'S JOURNEY.
Earl Hakon, in the mean time, hears some whisper that to the
westward, over the Norh sea, was a man called Ole, who was
looked upon as a king. From the conversation of some people, he
fell upon the suspicion that he must be of the royal race of
Norway. It was, indeed, said that this Ole was from Russia; but
the earl had heard that Trygve Olafson had had a son called Olaf,
who in his infancy had gone east to Gardarike, and had been
brought up by King Valdemar. The earl had carefully inquired
about this man, and had his suspicion that he must be the same
person who had now come to these western countries. The earl had
a very good friend called Thorer Klakka, who had been long upon
viking expeditions, sometimes also upon merchant voyages; so that
he was well acquainted all around. This Thorer Earl Hakon sends
over the North sea, and told him to make a merchant voyage to
Dublin, many were in the habit of doing, and carefully to
discover who this Ole was. Provided he got any certainty that he
was Olaf Trygvason, or any other of the Norwegian royal race,
then Thorer should endeavor to ensnare him by some deceit, and
bring him into the earl's power.
52. OLAF TRYGVASON COMES TO NORWAY.
On this Thorer sails westward to Ireland, and hears that Ole is
in Dublin with his wife's father King Olaf Kvaran. Thorer, who
was a plausible man, immediately got acquainted with Ole; and as
they often met, and had long conversations together, Ole began to
inquire about news from Norway, and above all of the Upland kings
and great people, -- which of them were in life, and what
dominations they now had. He asked also about Earl Hakon, and if
he was much liked in the country. Thorer replies, that the earl
is such a powerful man that no one dares to speak otherwise than
he would like; but that comes from there being nobody else in the
country to look to. "Yet, to say the truth, I know it to be the
mind of many brave men, and of whole communities, that they would
much rather see a king of Harald Harfager's race come to the
kingdom. But we know of no one suited for this, especially now
that it is proved how vain every attack on Earl Hakon must be."
As they often talked together in the same strain, Olaf disclosed
to Thorer his name and family, and asked him his opinion, and
whether he thought the bondes would take him for their king if he
were to appear in Norway. Thorer encouraged him very eagerly to
the enterprise, and praised him and his talents highly. Then
Olaf's inclination to go to the heritage of his ancestors became
strong. Olaf sailed accordingly, accompanied by Thorer, with
five ships; first to the Hebrides, and from thence to the
Orkneys. At that time Earl Sigurd, Hlodver's son, lay in
Osmundswall, in the island South Ronaldsa, with a ship of war, on
his way to Caithness. Just at the same time Olaf was sailing
with his fleet from the westward to the islands, and ran into the
same harbour, because Pentland Firth was not to be passed at that
tide. When the king was informed that the earl was there, he
made him be called; and when the earl came on board to speak with
the king, after a few words only had passed between them, the
king says the earl must allow himself to be baptized, and all the
people of the country also, or he should be put to death
directly; and he assured the earl he would lay waste the islands
with fire and sword, if the people did not adopt Christianity.
In the position the earl found himself, he preferred becoming
Christian, and he and all who were with him were baptized.
Afterwards the earl took an oath to the king, went into his
service, and gave him his son, whose name was Hvelp (Whelp), or
Hunde (Dog), as an hostage; and the king took Hvelp to Norway
with him. Thereafter Olaf went out to sea to the eastward, and
made the land at Morster Island, where he first touched the
ground of Norway. He had high mass sung in a tent, and
afterwards on the spot a church was built. Thorer Klakka said
now to the king, that the best plan for him would be not to make
it known who he was, or to let any report about him get abroad;
but to seek out Earl Hakon as fast as possible and fall upon him
by surprise. King Olaf did so, sailing northward day and night,
when wind permitted, and did not let the people of the country
know who it was that was sailing in such haste. When he came
north to Agdanes, he heard that the earl was in the fjord, and
was in discord with the bondes. On hearing this, Thorer saw that
things were going in a very different way from what he expected;
for after the battle with the Jomsborg vikings all men in Norway
were the most sincere friends of the earl on account of the
victory he had gained, and of the peace and security he had given
to the country; and now it unfortunately turns out that a great
chief has come to the country at a time when the bondes are in
arms against the earl.
53. EARL HAKON'S FLIGHT.
Earl Hakon was at a feast in Medalhus in Gaulardal and his ships
lay out by Viggja. There was a powerful bonde, by name Orm
Lyrgja, who dwelt in Bunes, who had a wife called Gudrun, a
daughter of Bergthor of Lundar. She was called the Lundasol; for
she was the most-beautiful of women. The earl sent his slaves to
Orm, with the errand that they should bring Orm's wife, Gudrun,
to the earl. The thralls tell their errand, and Orm bids them
first seat themselves to supper; but before they had done eating,
many people from the neighbourhood, to whom Orm had sent notice,
had gathered together: and now Orm declared he would not send
Gudrun with the messengers. Gudrun told the thralls to tell the
earl that she would not come to him, unless he sent Thora of
Rimul after her. Thora was a woman of great influence, and one
of the earl's best beloved. The thralls say that they will come
another time, and both the bonde and his wife would be made to
repent of it; and they departed with many threats. Orm, on the
other hand, sent out a message-token to all the neighbouring
country, and with it the message to attack Earl Hakon with
weapons and kill him. He sent also a message to Haldor in
Skerdingsstedja, who also sent out his message-token. A short
time before, the earl had taken away the wife of a man called
Brynjolf, and there had very nearly been an insurrection about
that business. Having now again got this message-token, the
people made a general revolt, and set out all to Medalhus. When
the earl heard of this, he left the house with his followers, and
concealed himself in a deep glen, now called Jarlsdal (Earl's
Dale). Later in the day, the earl got news of the bondes' army.
They had beset all the roads; but believed the earl had escaped
to his ships, which his son Erlend, a remarkably handsome and
hopeful young man, had the command of. When night came the earl
dispersed his people, and ordered them to go through the forest
roads into Orkadal; "for nobody will molest you," said he, "when
I am not with you. Send a message to Erlend to sail out of the
fjord, and meet me in More. In the mean time I will conceal
myself from the bondes." Then the earl went his way with one
thrall or slave, called Kark, attending him. There was ice upon
the Gaul (the river of Gaulardal), and the earl drove his horse
upon it, and left his coat lying upon the ice. They then went to
a hole, since called Jarlshella (the Earl's Hole), where they
slept. When Kark awoke he told his dream, -- that a black
threatening mad had come into the hole, and was angry that people
should have entered it; and that the man had said, "Ulle is
dead." The earl said that his son Erlend must be killed. Kark
slept again and was again disturbed in his sleep; and when he
awoke he told his dream, -- that the same man had again appeared
to him, and bade him tell the earl that all the sounds were
closed. From this dream the earl began to suspect that it
betokened a short life to him. They stood up, and went to the
house of Rimul. The earl now sends Kark to Thora, and begs of
her to come secretly to him. She did so and received the earl
kindly and he begged her to conceal him for a few nights until
the army of the bondes had dispersed. "Here about my house,"
said she, "you will be hunted after, both inside and outside; for
many know that I would willingly help you if I can. There is but
one place about the house where they could never expect to find
such a man as you, and that is the swine-stye." When they came
there the earl said, "Well, let it be made ready for us; as to
save our life is the first and foremost concern." The slave dug
a great hole in it, bore away the earth that he dug out, and laid
wood over it. Thora brought the tidings to the earl that Olaf
Trygvason had come from sea into the fjord, and had killed his
son Erlend. Then the earl and Kark both went into the hole.
Thora covered it with wood, and threw earth and dung over it, and
drove the swine upon the top of it. The swine-style was under a
54. ERLEND'S DEATH.
Olaf Trygvason came from sea into the fjord with five long-ships,
and Erlend, Hakon's son, rowed towards him with three ships.
When the vessels came near to each other, Erlend suspected they
might be enemies, and turned towards the land. When Olaf and his
followers saw long-ships coming in haste out of the fjord, and
rowing towards them, they thought Earl Hakon must be here; and
they put out all oars to follow them. As soon as Erlend and his
ships got near the land they rowed aground instantly, jumped
overboard, and took to the land; but at the same instant Olaf's
ship came up with them. Olaf saw a remarkably handsome man
swimming in the water, and laid hold of a tiller and threw it at
him. The tiller struck Erlend, the son of Hakon the earl, on the
head, and clove it to the brain; and there left Erlend his life.
Olaf and his people killed many; but some escaped, and some were
made prisoners, and got life and freedom that they might go and
tell what had happened. They learned then that the bondes had
driven away Earl Hakon, and that he had fled, and his troops were
55. EARL HAKON'S DEATH.
The bondes then met Olaf, to the joy of both, and they made an
agreement together. The bondes took Olaf to be their king, and
resolved, one and all, to seek out Earl Hakon. They went up
Gaulardal; for it seemed to them likely that if the earl was
concealed in any house it must be at Rimul, for Thora was his
dearest friend in that valley. They come up, therefore, and
search everywhere, outside and inside the house, but could not
find him. Then Olaf held a House Thing (trusting), or council
out in the yard, and stood upon a great stone which lay beside
the swine-stye, and made a speech to the people, in which he
promised to enrich the man with rewards and honours who should
kill the earl. This speech was heard by the earl and the thrall
Kark. They had a light in their room.
"Why art thou so pale," says the earl, "and now again black as
earth? Thou hast not the intention to betray me?"
"By no means," replies Kark.
"We were born on the same night," says the earl, "and the time
will be short between our deaths."
King Olaf went away in the evening. When night came the earl
kept himself awake but Kark slept, and was disturbed in his
sleep. The earl woke him, and asked him "what he was dreaming
He answered, "I was at Hlader and Olaf Trygvason was laying a
gold ring about my neck."
The earl says, "It will be a red ring Olaf will lay about thy
neck if he catches thee. Take care of that! From me thou shalt
enjoy all that is good, therefore betray me not."
They then kept themselves awake both; the one, as it were,
watching upon the other. But towards day the earl suddenly
dropped asleep; but his sleep was so unquiet that he drew his
heels under him, and raised his neck, as if going to rise, and
screamed dreadfully high. On this Kark, dreadfully alarmed, drew
a large knife out of his belt, stuck it in the earl's throat, and
cut it across, and killed Earl Hakon. Then Kark cut off the
earl's head, and ran away. Late in the day he came to Hlader,
where he delivered the earl's head to King Olaf, and told all
these circumstances of his own and Earl Hakon's doings. Olaf had
him taken out and beheaded.
56. EARL HAKON'S HEAD.
King Olaf, and a vast number of bondes with him, then went out to
Nidarholm, and had with him the heads of Earl Hakon and Kark.
This holm was used then for a place of execution of thieves and
ill-doers, and there stood a gallows on it. He had the heads of
the earl and of Kark hung upon it, and the whole army of the
bondes cast stones at them, screaming and shouting that the one
worthless fellow had followed the other. They then sent up to
Gaulardal for the earl's dead body. So great was the enmity of
the Throndhjem people against Earl Hakon, that no man could
venture to call him by any other name than Hakon the Bad; and he
was so called long after those days. Yet, sooth to say of Earl
Hakon, he was in many respects fitted to be a chief: first,
because he was descended from a high race; then because he had
understanding and knowledge to direct a government; also manly
courage in battle to gain victories, and good luck in killing his
enemies. So says Thorleif Raudfeldson: --
"In Norway's land was never known
A braver earl than the brave Hakon.
At sea, beneath the clear moon's light,
No braver man e'er sought to fight.
Nine kings to Odin's wide domain
Were sent, by Hakon's right hand slain!
So well the raven-flocks were fed --
So well the wolves were filled with dead!"
Earl Hakon was very generous; but the greatest misfortunes
attended even such a chief at the end of his days: and the great
cause of this was that the time was come when heathen sacrifices
and idolatrous worship were doomed to fall, and the holy faith
and good customs to come in their place.
57. OLAF TRYGVASON ELECTED KING.
Olaf Trvgvason was chosen at Throndhjem by the General Thing to
be the king over the whole country, as Harald Harfager had been.
The whole public and the people throughout all the land would
listen to nothing else than that Olaf Trygvason should be king.
Then Olaf went round the whole country, and brought it under his
rule, and all the people of Norway gave in their submission; and
also the chiefs in the Uplands and in Viken, who before had held
their lands as fiefs from the Danish king, now became King Olaf's
men, and held their hands from him. He went thus through the
whole country during the first winter (A.D. 996) and the
following summer. Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, his brother
Svein, and their friends and relations, fled out of the country,
and went east to Sweden to King Olaf the Swede, who gave them a
good reception. So says Thord Kolbeinson: --
"O thou whom bad men drove away,
After the bondes by foul play,
Took Hakon's life! Fate will pursue
These bloody wolves, and make them rue.
When the host came from out the West,
Like some tall stately war-ship's mast,
I saw the son of Trygve stand,
Surveying proud his native land."
And again, --
"Eirik has more upon his mind,
Against the new Norse king designed,
Than by his words he seems to show --
And truly it may well be so.
Stubborn and stiff are Throndhjem men,
But Throndhjem's earl may come again;
In Swedish land he knows no rest --
Fierce wrath is gathering in his breast."
58. LODIN'S MARRIAGE
Lodin was the name of a man from Viken who was rich and of good
family. He went often on merchant voyages, and sometimes on
viking cruises. It happened one summer that he went on a
merchant voyage with much merchandise in a ship of his own. He
directed his course first to Eistland, and was there at a market
in summer. To the place at which the market was held many
merchant goods were brought, and also many thralls or slaves for
sale. There Lodin saw a woman who was to be sold as a slave: and
on looking at her he knew her to be Astrid Eirik's daughter, who
had been married to King Trygve. But now she was altogether
unlike what she had been when he last saw her; for now she was
pale, meagre in countenance, and ill clad. He went up to her,
and asked her how matters stood with her. She replied, "It is
heavy to be told; for I have been sold as a slave, and now again
I am brought here for sale." After speaking together a little
Astrid knew him, and begged him to buy her; and bring her home to
her friends. "On this condition," said he, "I will bring thee
home tn Norway, that thou wilt marry me." Now as Astrid stood in
great need, and moreover knew that Lodin was a man of high birth,
rich, and brave, she promised to do so for her ransom. Lodin
accordingly bought Astrid, took her home to Norway with him, and
married her with her friends' consent. Their children were
Thorkel Nefia, Ingerid, and Ingegerd. Ingebjorg and Astrid were
daughters of Astrid by King Trygve. Eirik Bjodaskalle's sons
were Sigird, Karlshofud, Jostein, and Thorkel Dydril, who were
all rich and brave people who had estates east in the country.
In Viken in the east dwelt two brothers, rich and of good
descent; one called Thorgeir, and the other Hyrning; and they
married Lodin and Astrid's daughters, Ingerid and Ingegerd.
59. OLAF BAPTIZES THE COUNTRY OF VIKEN.
When Harald Gormson, king of Denmark, had adopted Christianity,
he sent a message over all his kingdom that all people should be
baptized, and converted to the true faith. He himself followed
his message, and used power and violence where nothing else would
do. He sent two earls, Urguthrjot and Brimilskjar, with many
people to Norway, to proclaim Christianity there. In Viken,
which stood directly under the king's power, this succeeded, and
many were baptized of the country folk. But when Svein Forked-
beard, immediately after his father King Harald's death, went out
on war expeditions in Saxland, Frisland, and at last in England,
the Northmen who had taken up Christianity returned back to
heathen sacrifices, just as before; and the people in the north
of the country did the same. But now that Olaf Trygvason was
king of Norway, he remained long during the summer (A.D. 996) in
Viken, where many of his relatives and some of his brothers-in-
law were settled, and also many who had been great friends of his
father; so that he was received with the greatest affection.
Olaf called together his mother's brothers, his stepfather Lodin,
and his brothers-in-law Thorgeir and Hyrning, to speak with them,
and to disclose with the greatest care the business which he
desired they themselves should approve of, and support with all
their power; namely, the proclaiming Christianity over all his
kingdom. He would, he declared, either bring it to this, that
all Norway should be Christian, or die. "I shall make you all,"
said he, "great and mighty men in promoting this work; for I
trust to you most, as blood relations or brothers-in-law." All
agreed to do what he asked, and to follow him in what he desired.
King Olaf immediately made it known to the public that he
recommended Christianity to all the people in his kingdom, which
message was well received and approved of by those who had before
given him their promise; and these being the most powerful among
the people assembled, the others followed their example, and
all the inhabitants of the east part of Viken allowed themselves
to be baptized. The king then went to the north part of Viken
and invited every man to accept Christianity; and those who
opposed him he punished severely, killing some, mutilating
others, and driving some into banishment. At length he brought
it so far, that all the kingdom which his father King Trvgve had
ruled over, and also that of his relation Harald Grenske,
accepted of Christianity; and during that summer (A.D. 996) and
the following winter (A.D. 997) all Viken was made Christian.
60. OF THE HORDALAND PEOPLE.
Early in spring (A.D. 997) King Olaf set out from Viken with a
great force northwards to Agder, and proclaimed that every man
should be baptized. And thus the people received Christianity,
for nobody dared oppose the king's will, wheresoever he came. In
Hordaland, however, were many bold and great men of Hordakare's
race. He, namely, had left four sons, -- the first Thorleif
Spake; the second, Ogmund, father of Thorolf Skialg, who was
father of Erling of Sole; the third was Thord father of the Herse
Klyp who killed King Sigurd Slefa, Gunhild's son; and lastly,
Olmod, father of Askel, whose son was Aslak Fitjaskalle; and that
family branch was the greatest and most considered in Hordaland.
Now when this family heard the bad tidings, that the king was
coming along the country from the eastward with a great force,
and was breaking the ancient law of the people, and imposing
punishment and hard conditions on all who opposed him, the
relatives appointed a meeting to take counsel with each other,
for they knew the king would come down upon them at once: and
they all resolved to appear in force at the Gula-Thing, there to
hold a conference with King Olaf Trygvason.
61. ROGALAND BAPTIZED.
When King Olaf came to Rogaland, he immediately summoned the
people to a Thing; and when the bondes received the message-
token for a Thing, they assembled in great numbers well armed.
After they had come together, they resolved to choose three men,
the best speakers of the whole, who should answer King Olaf, and
argue with the king; and especially should decline to accept of
anything against the old law, even if the king should require it
of them. Now when the bondes came to the Thing, and the Thing
was formed, King Olaf arose, and at first spoke good-humoredly to
the people; but they observed he wanted them to accept
Christianity, with all his fine words: and in the conclusion he
let them know that those who should speak against him, and not
submit to his proposal, must expect his displeasure and
punishment, and all the ill that it was in his power to inflict.
When he had ended his speech, one of the bondes stood up, who was
considered the most eloquent, and who had been chosen as the
first who should reply to King Olaf. But when he would begin to
speak such a cough seized him, and such a difficulty of
breathing, that he could not bring out a word, and had to sit
down again. Then another bonde stood up, resolved not to let an
answer be wanting, although it had gone so ill with the former:
but he stammered so that he could not get a word uttered, and all
present set up a laughter, amid which the bonde sat down again.
And now the third stood up to make a speech against King Olaf's;
but when he began he became so hoarse and husky in his throat,
that nobody could hear a word he said, and he also had to sit
down. There was none of the bondes now to speak against the
king, and as nobody answered him there was no opposition; and it
came to this, that all agreed to what the king had proposed. All
the people of the Thing accordingly were baptized before the
Thing was dissolved.
62. ERLING SKJALGSON'S WOOING.
King Olaf went with his men-at-arms to the Gula-Thing; for the
bondes had sent him word that they would reply there to his
speech. When both parties had come to the Thing, the king
desired first to have a conference with the chief people of the
country; and when the meeting was numerous the king set forth his
errand, -- that he desired them, according to his proposal, to
allow themselves to be baptized. Then said Olmod the Old, "We
relations have considered together this matter, and have come to
one resolution. If thou thinkest, king, to force us who are
related together to such things as to break our old law, or to
bring us under thyself by any sort of violence, then will we
stand against thee with all our might: and be the victory to him
to whom fate ordains it. But if thou, king, wilt advance our
relations' fortunes, then thou shalt have leave to do as thou
desirest, and we will all serve thee with zeal in thy purpose."
The king replies, "What do you propose for obtaining this
Then answers Olmod, "The first is, that thou wilt give thy sister
Astrid in marriage to Erling Skjalgson, our relation, whom we
look upon as the most hopeful young man in all Norway."
King Olaf replied, that this marriage appeared to him also very
suitable; "as Erling is a man of good birth, and a good-looking
man in appearance: but Astrid herself must answer to this
Thereupon the king spoke to his sister. She said, "It is but of
little use that I am a king's sister, and a king~s daughter, if I
must marry a man who has no high dignity or office. I will
rather wait a few years for a better match." Thus ended this
63. HORDALAND BAPTIZED.
King Olaf took a falcon that belonged to Astrid, plucked off all
its feathers, and then sent it to her. Then said Astrid, "Angry
is my brother." And she stood up, and went to the king, who
received her kindly, and she said that she left it to the king to
determine her marriage. "I think," said the king, "that I must
have power enough in this land to raise any man I please to high
dignity." Then the king ordered Olmod and Erling to be called
to a conference, and all their relations; and the marriage was
determined upon, and Astrid betrothed to Erling. Thereafter the
king held the Thing, and recommended Christianity to the bondes;
and as Olmod, and Erling, and all their relations, took upon
themselves the most active part in forwarding the king's desire,
nobody dared to speak against it; and all the people were
baptized, and adopted Christianity.
64. ERLING SKJALGSON'S WEDDING.
Erling Skjalgson had his wedding in summer, and a great many
people were assembled at it. King Olaf was also there, and
offered Erling an earldom. Erling replied thus: "All my
relations have been herses only, and I will take no higher title
than they have; but this I will accept from thee, king, that thou
makest me the greatest of that title in the country." The king
consented; and at his departure the king invested his brother-in
law Erling with all the land north of the Sognefjord, and east to
the Lidandisnes, on the same terms as Harald Harfager had given
land to his sons, as before related.
65. RAUMSDAL AND FJORD-DISTRICTS BAPTIZED.
The same harvest King Olaf summoned the bondes to a Thing of the
four districts at Dragseid, in Stad: and there the people from
Sogn, the Fjord-districts, South More, and Raumsdal, were
summoned to meet. King Olaf came there with a great many people
who had followed him from the eastward, and also with those who
had joined him from Rogaland and Hordaland. When the king came
to the Thing, he proposed to them there, as elsewhere,
Christianity; and as the king had such a powerful host with him,
they were frightened. The king offered them two conditions, --
either to accept Christianity, or to fight. But the bondes saw
they were in no condition to fight the king, and resolved,
therefore, that all the people should agree to be baptized. The
king proceeded afterwards to North More, and baptized all that
district. He then sailed to Hlader, in Throndhjem; had the
temple there razed to the ground; took all the ornaments and all
property out of the temple, and from the gods in it; and among
other things the great gold ring which Earl Hakon had ordered to
be made, and which hung in the door of the temple; and then had
the temple burnt. But when the bondes heard of this, they sent
out a war-arrow as a token through the whole district, ordering
out a warlike force, and intended to meet the king with it. In
the meantime King Olaf sailed with a war force out of the fjord
along the coast northward, intending to proceed to Halogaland,
and baptize there. When he came north to Bjarnaurar, he heard
from Halogaland that a force was assembled there to defend the
country against the king. The chiefs of this force were Harek of
Thjotta, Thorer Hjort from Vagar, and Eyvind Kinrifa. Now when
King Olaf heard this, he turned about and sailed southwards along
the land; and when he got south of Stad proceeded at his leisure,
and came early in winter (A.D. 998) all the way east to Viken.
66. OLAF PROPOSES MARRIAGE TO QUEEN SIGRID.
Queen Sigrid in Svithjod, who had for surname the Haughty, sat in
her mansion, and during the same winter messengers went between
King Olaf and Sigrid to propose his courtship to her, and she had
no objection; and the matter was fully and fast resolved upon.
Thereupon King Olaf sent to Queen Sigrid the great gold ring he
had taken from the temple door of Hlader, which was considered a
distinguished ornament. The meeting for concluding the business
was appointed to be in spring on the frontier, at the Gaut river.
Now the ring which King Olaf had sent Queen Sigrid was highly
prized by all men; yet the queen's gold-smiths, two brothers, who
took the ring in their hands, and weighed it, spoke quietly to
each other about it, and in a manner that made the queen call
them to her, and ask "what they smiled at?" But they would not
say a word, and she commanded them to say what it was they had
discovered. Then they said the ring is false. Upon this she
ordered the ring to be broken into pieces, and it was found to be
copper inside. Then the queen was enraged, and said that Olaf
would deceive her in more ways than this one. In the same year
(A.D. 998) King Olaf went into Ringenke, and there the people
also were baptized.
67. OLAF HARALDSON BAPTIZED.
Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand, soon after the fall of Harald
Grenske married again a man who was called Sigurd Syr, who was a
king in Ringerike. Sigurd was a son of Halfdan, and grandson of
Sigurd Hrise, who was a son of Harald Harfager. Olaf, the son of
Asta and Harald Grenske, lived with Asta, and was brought up from
childhood in the house of his stepfather, Sigurd Syr. Now when
King Olaf Trygvason came to Ringerike to spread Christianity,
Sigurd Syr and his wife allowed themselves to be baptized, along
with Olaf her son; and Olaf Trygvason was godfather to Olaf, the
stepson of Harald Grenske. Olaf was then three years old. Olaf
returned from thence to Viken, where he remained all winter. He
had now been three years king in Norway (A.D. 998).
68. MEETING OF OLAF AND SIGRID.
Early in spring (A.D. 998) King Olaf went eastwards to
Konungahella to the meeting with Queen Sigrid; and when they met
the business was considered about which the winter before they
had held communication, namely, their marriage; and the business
seemed likely to be concluded. But when Olaf insisted that
Sigrid should let herself be baptized, she answered thus: -- "I
must not part from the faith which I have held, and my
forefathers before me; and, on the other hand, I shall make no
objection to your believing in the god that pleases you best."
Then King Olaf was enraged, and answered in a passion, "Why
should I care to have thee, an old faded woman, and a heathen
jade?" and therewith struck her in the face with his glove which
he held in his hands, rose up, and they parted. Sigrid said,
"This may some day be thy death." The king set off to Viken, the
queen to Svithjod.
69. THE BURNING OF WARLOCKS.
Then the king proceeded to Tunsberg, and held a Thing, at which
he declared in a speech that all the men of whom it should be
known to a certainty that they dealt with evil spirits, or in
witchcraft, or were sorcerers, should be banished forth of the
land. Thereafter the king had all the neighborhood ransacked
after such people, and called them all before him; and when they
were brought to the Thing there was a man among them called
Eyvind Kelda, a grandson of Ragnvald Rettilbeine, Harald
Harfager's son. Eyvind was a sorcerer, and particularly knowing
in witchcraft. The king let all these men be seated in one room,
which was well adorned, and made a great feast for them, and gave
them strong drink in plenty. Now when they were all very drunk,
he ordered the house be set on fire, and it and all the people
within it were consumed, all but Eyvind Kelda, who contrived to
escape by the smoke-hole in the roof. And when he had got a long
way off, he met some people on the road going to the king, and he
told them to tell the king that Eyvind Kelda had slipped away
from the fire, and would never come again in King Olaf's power,
but would carry on his arts of witchcraft as much as ever. When
the people came to the king with such a message from Eyvind, the
king was ill pleased that Eyvind had escaped death.
70. EYVIND KELDA'S DEATH.
When spring (A.D. 998) came King Olaf went out to Viken, and was
on visits to his great farms. He sent notice over all Viken that
he would call out an army in summer, and proceed to the north
parts of the country. Then he went north to Agder; and when
Easter was approaching he took the road to Rogaland with 300
(=360) men, and came on Easter evening north to Ogvaldsnes, in
Kormt Island, where an Easter feast was prepared for him. That
same night came Eyvind Kelda to the island with a well-manned
long-ship, of which the whole crew consisted of sorcerers and
other dealers with evil spirits. Eyvind went from his ship to
the land with his followers, and there they played many of their
pranks of witchcraft. Eyvind clothed them with caps of darkness,
and so thick a mist that the king and his men could see nothing
of them; but when they came near to the house at Ogvaldsnes, it
became clear day. Then it went differently from what Eyvind had
intended: for now there came just such a darkness over him and
his comrades in witchcraft as they had made before, so that they
could see no more from their eyes than from the back of their
heads but went round and round in a circle upon the island. When
the king's watchman saw them going about, without knowing what
people these were, they told the king. Thereupon he rose up with
his people, put on his clothes, and when he saw Eyvind with his
men wandering about he ordered his men to arm, and examine what
folk these were. The king's men discovered it was Eyvind, took
him and all his company prisoners, and brought them to the king.
Eyvind now told all he had done on his journey. Then the king
ordered these all to be taken out to a skerry which was under
water in flood tide, and there to be left bound. Eyvind and all
with him left their lives on this rock, and the skerry is still
71. OLAF AND ODIN'S APPARITION.
It is related that once on a time King Olaf was at a feast at
this Ogvaldsnes, and one eventide there came to him an old man
very gifted in words, and with a broad-brimmed hat upon his head.
He was one-eyed, and had something to tell of every land. He
entered into conversation with the king; and as the king found
much pleasure in the guest's speech, he asked him concerning many
things, to which the guest gave good answers: and the king sat up
late in the evening. Among other things, the king asked him if
he knew who the Ogvald had been who had given his name both to
the ness and to the house. The guest replied, that this Ogvald
was a king, and a very valiant man, and that he made great
sacrifices to a cow which he had with him wherever he went, and
considered it good for his health to drink her milk. This same
King Ogvald had a battle with a king called Varin, in which
battle Ogvald fell. He was buried under a mound close to the
house; "and there stands his stone over him, and close to it his
cow also is laid." Such and many other things, and ancient
events, the king inquired after. Now, when the king had sat late
into the night, the bishop reminded him that it was time to go to
bed, and the king did so. But after the king was undressed, and
had laid himself in bed, the guest sat upon the foot-stool before
the bed, and still spoke long with the king; for after one tale
was ended, he still wanted a new one. Then the bishop observed
to the king, it was time to go to sleep, and the king did so; and
the guest went out. Soon after the king awoke, asked for the
guest, and ordered him to be called, but the guest was not to be
found. The morning after, the king ordered his cook and cellar-
master to be called, and asked if any strange person had been
with them. They said, that as they were making ready the meat a
man came to them, and observed that they were cooking very poor
meat for the king's table; whereupon he gave them two thick and
fat pieces of beef, which they boiled with the rest of the meat.
Then the king ordered that all the meat should be thrown away,
and said this man can be no other than the Odin whom the heathens
have so long worshipped; and added, "but Odin shall not deceive
72. THE THING IN THRONDHJEM.
King Olaf collected a great army in the east of the country
towards summer, and sailed with it north to Nidaros in the
Throndhjem country. From thence he sent a message-token over all
the fjord, calling the people of eight different districts to a
Thing; but the bondes changed the Thing-token into a war-token;
and called together all men, free and unfree, in all the
Throndhjem land. Now when the king met the Thing, the whole
people came fully armed. After the Thing was seated, the king
spoke, and invited them to adopt Christianity; but he had only
spoken a short time when the bondes called out to him to be
silent, or they would attack him and drive him away. "We did
so," said they, "with Hakon foster-son of Athelstan, when he
brought us the same message, and we held him in quite as much
respect as we hold thee." When King Olaf saw how incensed the
bondes were, and that they had such a war force that he could
make no resistance, he turned his speech as if he would give way
to the bondes, and said, "I wish only to be in a good
understanding with you as of old; and I will come to where ye
hold your greatest sacrifice-festival, and see your customs, and
thereafter we shall consider which to hold by." And in this all
agreed; and as the king spoke mildly and friendly with the
bondes, their answer was appeased, and their conference with the
king went off peacefully. At the close of it a midsummer
sacrifice was fixed to take place in Maeren, and all chiefs and
great bondes to attend it as usual. The king was to be at it.
73. JARNSKEGGE OR IRON BEARD.
There was a great bonde called Skegge, and sometimes Jarnskegge,
or Iron Beard, who dwelt in Uphaug in Yrjar. He spoke first at
the Thing to Olaf; and was the foremost man of the bondes in
speaking against Christianity. The Thing was concluded in this
way for that time, -- the bondes returned home, and the king went
74. THE FEAST AT HLADER.
King Olaf lay with his ships in the river Nid, and had thirty
vessels, which were manned with many brave people; but the king
himself was often at Hlader, with his court attendants. As the
time now was approaching at which the sacrifices should be made
at Maeren, the king prepared a great feast at Hlader, and sent a
message to the districts of Strind, Gaulardal, and out to
Orkadal, to invite the chiefs and other great bondes. When the
feast was ready, and the chiefs assembled, there was a handsome
entertainment the first evening, at which plenty of liquor went
round. and the guests were made very drunk. The night after they
all slept in peace. The following morning, when the king was
dressed, he had the early mass sung before him; and when the mass
was over, ordered to sound the trumpets for a House Thing: upon
which all his men left the ships to come up to the Thing. When
the Thing was seated, the king stood up, and spoke thus: "We held
a Thing at Frosta, and there I invited the bondes to allow
themselves to be baptized; but they, on the other hand, invited
me to offer sacrifice to their gods, as King Hakon, Athelstan's
foster-son, had done; and thereafter it was agreed upon between
us that we should meet at Maerin, and there make a great
sacrifice. Now if I, along with you, shall turn again to making
sacrifice, then will I make the greatest of sacrifices that are
in use; and I will sacrifice men. But I will not select slaves
or malefactors for this, but will take the greatest men only to
be offered to the gods; and for this I select Orm Lygra of
Medalhus, Styrkar of Gimsar, Kar of Gryting, Asbjorn Thorbergson
of Varnes, Orm of Lyxa, Haldor of Skerdingsstedja;" and besides
these he named five others of the principal men. All these, he
said, he would offer in sacrifice to the gods for peace and a
fruitful season; and ordered them to be laid hold of immediately.
Now when the bondes saw that they were not strong enough to make
head against the king, they asked for peace, and submitted wholly
to the king's pleasure. So it was settled that all the bondes
who had come there should be baptized, and should take an oath to
the king to hold by the right faith, and to renounce sacrifice to
the gods. The king then kept all these men as hostages who came
to his feast, until they sent him their sons, brothers, or other
75. OF THE THING IN THRONDHJEM.
King Olaf went in with all his forces into the Throndhjem
country; and when he came to Maeren all among the chiefs of the
Throndhjem people who were most opposed to Christianity were
assembled, and had with them all the great bondes who had before
made sacrifice at that place. There was thus a greater multitude
of bondes than there had been at the Frosta-Thing. Now the king
let the people be summoned to the Thing, where both parties met
armed; and when the Thing was seated the king made a speech, in
which he told the people to go over to Christianity. Jarnskegge
replies on the part of the bondes, and says that the will of the
bondes is now, as formerly, that the king should not break their
laws. "We want, king," said he, "that thou shouldst offer
sacrifice, as other kings before thee have done." All the bondes
applauded his speech with a loud shout, and said they would have
all things according to what Skegge said. Then the king said he
would go into the temple of their gods with them, and see what
the practices were when they sacrificed. The bondes thought well
of this proceeding, and both parties went to the temple.
76. THE THRONDHJEM PEOPLE BAPTIZED.
Now King Olaf entered into the temple with some few of his men
and a few bondes; and when the king came to where their gods
were, Thor, as the most considered among their gods, sat there
adorned with gold and silver. The king lifted up his gold-inlaid
axe which he carried in his hands, and struck Thor so that the
image rolled down from its seat. Then the king's men turned to
and threw down all the gods from their seats; and while the king
was in the temple, Jarnskegge was killed outside of the temple
doors, and the king's men did it. When the king came forth out
of the temple he offered the bondes two conditions, -- that all
should accept of Christianity forthwith, or that they should
fight with him. But as Skegge was killed, there was no leader in
the bondes' army to raise the banner against King Olaf; so they
took the other condition, to surrender to the king's will and
obey his order. Then King Olaf had all the people present
baptized, and took hostages from them for their remaining true to
Christianity; and he sent his men round to every district, and no
man in the Throndhjem country opposed Christianity, but all
people took baptism.
77. A TOWN IN THE THRONDHJEM COUNTRY.
King Olaf with his people went out to Nidaros, and made houses on
the flat side of the river Nid, which he raised to be a merchant
town, and gave people ground to build houses upon. The king's
house he had built just opposite Skipakrok; and he transported
thither, in harvest, all that was necessary for his winter
residence, and had many people about him there.
78. KING OLAF'S MARRIAGE.
King Olaf appointed a meeting with the relations of Jarnskegge,
and offered them the compensation or penalty for his bloodshed;
for there were many bold men who had an interest in that
business. Jarnskegge had a daughter called Gudrun; and at last
it was agreed upon between the parties that the king should take
her in marriage. When the wedding day came King Olaf and Gudrun
went to bed together. As soon as Gudrun, the first night they
lay together, thought the king was asleep, she drew a knife, with
which she intended to run him through; but the king saw it, took
the knife from her, got out of bed, and went to his men, and told
them what had happened. Gudrun also took her clothes, and went
away along with all her men who had followed her thither. Gudrun
never came into the king's bed again.
79. BUILDING OF THE SHIP CRANE.
The same autumn (A.D. 998) King Olaf laid the keel of a great
long-ship out on the strand at the river Nid. It was a snekkja;
and he employed many carpenters upon her, so that early in winter
the vessel was ready. It had thirty benches for rowers, was high
in stem and stern, but was not broad. The king called this ship
Tranen (the Crane). After Jarnskegge's death his body was
carried to Yrjar, and lies there in the Skegge mound on Austrat.
80. THANGBRAND THE PRIEST GOES TO ICELAND.
When King Olaf Trygvason had been two years king of Norway (A.D.
997), there was a Saxon priest in his house who was called
Thangbrand, a passionate, ungovernable man, and a great man-
slayer; but he was a good scholar, and a clever man. The king
would not have him in his house upon account of his misdeeds; but
gave him the errand to go to Iceland, and bring that land to the
Christian faith. The king gave him a merchant vessel: and, as
far as we know of this voyage of his, he landed first in Iceland
at Austfjord in the southern Alptfjord, and passed the winter in
the house of Hal of Sida. Thangbrand proclaimed Christianity in
Iceland, and on his persuasion Hal and all his house people, and
many other chiefs, allowed themselves to be baptized; but there
were many more who spoke against it. Thorvald Veile and
Veterlide the skald composed a satire about Thangbrand; but he
killed them both outright. Thangbrand was two years in Iceland,
and was the death of three men before he left it.
81. OF SIGURD AND HAUK.
There was a man called Sigurd, and another called Hauk, both of
Halogaland, who often made merchant voyages. One summer (A.D.
998) they had made a voyage westward to England; and when they
came back to Norway they sailed northwards along the coast, and
at North More they met King Olaf's people. When it was told the
king that some Halogaland people were come who were heathen, he
ordered the steersmen to be brought to him, and he asked them if
they would consent to be baptized; to which they replied, no.
The king spoke with them in many ways, but to no purpose. He
then threatened them with death and torture: but they would not
allow themselves to be moved. He then had them laid in irons,
and kept them in chains in his house for some time, and often
conversed with them, but in vain. At last one night they
disappeared, without any man being able to conjecture how they
got away. But about harvest they came north to Harek of Thjotta,
who received them kindly, and with whom they stopped all winter
(A.D. 999), and were hospitably entertained.
82. OF HAREK OF THJOTTA.
It happened one good-weather day in spring (A.D. 999) that Harek
was at home in his house with only few people, and time hung
heavy on his hands. Sigurd asked him if he would row a little
for amusement. Harek was willing; and they went to the shore,
and drew down a six-oared skiff; and Sigurd took the mast and
rigging belonging to the boat out of the boat-house, for they
often used to sail when they went for amusement on the water.
Harek went out into the boat to hang the rudder. The brothers
Sigurd and Hauk, who were very strong men, were fully armed, as
they were used to go about at home among the peasants. Before
they went out to the boat they threw into her some butter-kits
and a bread-chest, and carried between them a great keg of ale.
When they had rowed a short way from the island the brothers
hoisted the sail, while Harek was seated at the helm; and they
sailed away from the island. Then the two brothers went aft to
where Harek the bonde was sitting; and Sigurd says to him, "Now
thou must choose one of these conditions, -- first, that we
brothers direct this voyage; or, if not, that we bind thee fast
and take the command; or, third, that we kill thee." Harek saw
how matters stood with him. As a single man, he was not better
than one of those brothers, even if he had been as well armed; so
it appeared to him wisest to let them determine the course to
steer, and bound himself by oath to abide by this condition. On
this Sigurd took the helm, and steered south along the land, the
brothers taking particular care that they did not encounter
people. The wind was very favourable; and they held on sailing
along until they came south to Throndhjem and to Nidaros, where
they found the king. Then the king called Harek to him, and in a
conference desired him to be baptized. Harek made objections;
and although the king and Harek talked over it many times,
sometimes in the presence of other people, and sometimes alone,
they could not agree upon it. At last the king says to Harek,
"Now thou mayst return home, and I will do thee no injury; partly
because we are related together, and partly that thou mayst not
have it to say that I caught thee by a trick: but know for
certain that I intend to come north next summer to visit you
Halogalanders, and ye shall then see if I am not able to punish
those who reject Christianity." Harek was well pleased to get
away as fast as he could. King Olaf gave Harek a good boat of
ten or twelve pair of oars, and let it be fitted out with the
best of everything needful; and besides he gave Harek thirty men,
all lads of mettle, and well appointed.
83. EYVIND KINRIFA'S DEATH.
Harek of Thjotta went away from the town as fast as he could; but
Hauk and Sigurd remained in the king's house, and both took
baptism. Harek pursued his voyage until he came to Thjotta. He
sent immediately a message to his friend Eyvind Kinrifa, with the
word that he had been with King Olaf; but would not let himself
be cowed down to accept Christianity. The message at the same
time informed him that King Olaf intended coming to the north in
summer against them, and they must be at their posts to defend
themselves; it also begged Eyvind to come and visit him, the
sooner the better. When this message was delivered to Eyvind, he
saw how very necessary it was to devise some counsel to avoid
falling into the king's hands. He set out, therefore, in a light
vessel with a few hands as fast as he could. When he came to
Thjotta he was received by Harek in the most friendly way, and
they immediately entered into conversation with each other behind
the house. When they had spoken together but a short time, King
Olaf's men, who had secretly followed Harek to the north, came
up, and took Eyvind prisoner, and carried him away to their ship.
They did not halt on their voyage until they came to Throndhjem,
and presented themselves to King Olaf at Nidaros. Then Eyvind
was brought up to a conference with the king, who asked him to
allow himself to be baptized, like other people; but Eyvind
decidedly answered he would not. The king still, with persuasive
words, urged him to accept Christianity, and both he and the
bishop used many suitable arguments; but Eyvind would not allow
himself to be moved. The king offered him gifts and great fiefs,
but Eyvind refused all. Then the king threatened him with
tortures and death, but Eyvind was steadfast. Then the king
ordered a pan of glowing coals to be placed upon Eyvind's belly,
which burst asunder. Eyvind cried, "Take away the pan, and I
will say something before I die," which also was done. The king
said, "Wilt thou now, Eyvind, believe in Christ?" "No," said
Eyvind, "I can take no baptism; for I am an evil spirit put into
a man's body by the sorcery of Fins because in no other way could
my father and mother have a child." With that died Eyvind, who
had been one of the greatest sorcerers.
84. HALOGALAND MADE CHRISTIAN.
The spring after (A.D. 999) King Olaf fitted out and manned his
ships, and commanded himself his ship the Crane. He had many and
smart people with him; and when he was ready, he sailed
northwards with his fleet past Bryda, and to Halogaland.
Wheresoever he came to the land, or to the islands, he held a
Thing, and told the people to accept the right faith, and to be
baptized. No man dared to say anything against it, and the whole
country he passed through was made Christian. King Olaf was a
guest in the house of Harek of Thjotta, who was baptized with all
his people. At parting the king gave Harek good presents; and he
entered into the king's service, and got fiefs, and the
privileges of lendsman from the king.
85. THORER HJORT'S DEATH.
There was a bonde, by name Raud the Strong, who dwelt in Godey
in Salten fjord. Raud was a very rich man, who had many house
servants; and likewise was a powerful man, who had many Fins in
his service when he wanted them. Raud was a great idolater, and
very skillful in witchcraft, and was a great friend of Thorer
Hjort, before spoken of. Both were great chiefs. Now when they
heard that King Olaf was coming with a great force from the south
to Halogaland, they gathered together an army, ordered out ships,
and they too had a great force on foot. Raud had a large ship
with a gilded head formed like a dragon, which ship had thirty
rowing benches, and even for that kind of ship was very large.
Thorer Hjort had also a large ship. These men sailed southwards
with their ships against King Olaf, and as soon as they met gave
battle. A great battle there was, and a great fall of men; but
principally on the side of the Halogalanders, whose ships were
cleared of men, so that a great terror came upon them. Raud
rode with his dragon out to sea, and set sail. Raud had always a
fair wind wheresoever he wished to sail, which came from his arts
of witchcraft; and, to make a short story, he came home to Godey.
Thorer Hjort fled from the ships up to the land: but King Olaf
landed people, followed those who fled, and killed them. Usually
the king was the foremost in such skirmishes, and was so now.
When the king saw where Thorer Hjort, who was quicker on foot
than any man, was running to, he ran after him with his dog Vige.
The king said, "Vige! Vige! Catch the deer." Vige ran straight
in upon him; on which Thorer halted, and the king threw a spear
at him. Thorer struck with his sword at the dog, and gave him a
great wound; but at the same moment the king's spear flew under
Thorer's arm, and went through and through him, and came out at
his other-side. There Thorer left his life; but Vige was carried
to the ships.
86. KING OLAF'S VOYAGE TO GODEY.
King Olaf gave life and freedom to all the men who asked it and
agreed to become Christian. King Olaf sailed with his fleet
northwards along the coast, and baptized all the people among
whom he came; and when he came north to Salten fjord, he intended
to sail into it to look for Raud, but a dreadful tempest and
storm was raging in the fjord. They lay there a whole week, in
which the same weather was raging within the fjord, while without
there was a fine brisk wind only, fair for proceeding north along
the land. Then the king continued his voyage north to Omd, where
all the people submitted to Christianity. Then the king turned
about and sailed to the south again; but when he came to the
north side of Salten fjord, the same tempest was blowing, and the
sea ran high out from the fjord, and the same kind of storm
prevailed for several days while the king was lying there. Then
the king applied to Bishop Sigurd, and asked him if he knew any
counsel about it; and the bishop said he would try if God would
give him power to conquer these arts of the Devil.
87. OF RAUD'S BEING TORTURED.
Bishop Sigurd took all his mass robes and went forward to the bow
of the king's ship; ordered tapers to be lighted, and incense to
be brought out. Then he set the crucifix upon the stem of the
vessel, read the Evangelist and many prayers, besprinkled the
whole ship with holy water, and then ordered the ship-tent to be
stowed away, and to row into the fjord. The king ordered all the
other ships to follow him. Now when all was ready on board the
Crane to row, she went into the fjord without the rowers finding
any wind; and the sea was curled about their keel track like as
in a calm, so quiet and still was the water; yet on each side of
them the waves were lashing up so high that they hid the sight of
the mountains. And so the one ship followed the other in the
smooth sea track; and they proceeded this way the whole day and
night, until they reached Godey. Now when they came to Raud's
house his great ship, the dragon, was afloat close to the land.
King Olaf went up to the house immediately with his people; made
an attack on the loft in which Raud was sleeping, and broke it
open. The men rushed in: Raud was taken and bound, and of the
people with him some were killed and some made prisoners. Then
the king's men went to a lodging in which Raud's house servants
slept, and killed some, bound others, and beat others. Then the
king ordered Raud to be brought before him, and offered him
baptism. "And," says the king, "I will not take thy property
from thee, but rather be thy friend, if thou wilt make thyself
worthy to be so." Raud exclaimed with all his might against the
proposal, saying he would never believe in Christ, and making his
scoff of God. Then the king was wroth, and said Raud should die
the worst of deaths. And the king ordered him to be bound to a
beam of wood, with his face uppermost, and a round pin of wood
set between his teeth to force his mouth open. Then the king
ordered an adder to be stuck into the mouth of him; but the
serpent would not go into his mouth, but shrunk back when Raud
breathed against it. Now the king ordered a hollow branch of an
angelica root to be stuck into Raud's mouth; others say the king
put his horn into his mouth, and forced the serpent to go in by
holding a red-hot iron before the opening. So the serpent crept
into the mouth of Raud and down his throat, and gnawed its way
out of his side; and thus Raud perished. King Olaf took here
much gold and silver, and other property of weapons, and many
sorts of precious effects; and all the men who were with Raud he
either had baptized, or if they refused had them killed or
tortured. Then the king took the dragonship which Raud had
owned, and steered it himself; for it was a much larger and
handsomer vessel than the Crane. In front it had a dragon's
head, and aft a crook, which turned up, and ended with the figure
of the dragon's tail. The carved work on each side of the stem
and stern was gilded. This ship the king called the Serpent.
When the sails were hoisted they represented, as it were, the
dragon's wings; and the ship was the handsomest in all Norway.
The islands on which Raud dwelt were called Gylling and Haering;
but the whole islands together were called Godey Isles, and the
current between the isles and the mainland the Godey Stream.
King Olaf baptized the whole people of the fjord, and then sailed
southwards along the land; and on this voyage happened much and
various things, which are set down in tales and sagas, -- namely,
how witches and evil spirits tormented his men, and sometimes
himself; but we will rather write about what occurred when King
Olaf made Norway Christian, or in the other countries in which he
advanced Christianity. The same autumn Olaf with his fleet
returned to Throndhjem, and landed at Nidaros, where he took up
his winter abode. What I am now going to write about concerns
88. OF THE ICELANDERS.
Kjartan Olafson, a son's son of Hoskuld, and a daughter's son of
Egil Skallagrimson, came the same autumn (A.D. 999) from Iceland
to Nidaros, and he was considered to be the most agreeable and
hopeful man of any born in Iceland. There was also Haldor, a son
of Gudmund of Modruveller; and Kolbein, a son of Thord, Frey's
gode, and a brother's son of Brennuflose; together with Sverting,
a son of the gode Runolf. All these were heathens; and besides
them there were many more, -- some men of power, others common
men of no property. There came also from Iceland considerable
people, who, by Thangbrand's help, had been made Christians;
namely, Gissur the white, a son of Teit Ketilbjornson; and his
mother was Alof, daughter of herse Bodvar, who was the son of
Vikingakare. Bodvar's brother was Sigurd, father of Eirik
Bjodaskalle, whose daughter Astrid was King Olaf's mother.
Hjalte Skeggjason was the name of another Iceland man, who was
married to Vilborg, Gissur the White's daughter. Hjalte was also
a Christian; and King Olaf was very friendly to his relations
Gissur and Hjalte, who live with him. But the Iceland men who
directed the ships, and were heathens, tried to sail away as soon
as the king came to the town of Nidaros, for they were told the
king forced all men to become Christians; but the wind came stiff
against them, and drove them back to Nidarholm. They who
directed the ships were Thorarin Nefjulson, the skald Halfred
Ottarson, Brand the Generous, and Thorleik, Brand's son. It was
told the king that there were Icelanders with ships there, and
all were heathen, and wanted to fly from a meeting with the king.
Then the king sent them a message forbidding them to sail, and
ordering them to bring their ships up to the town, which they
did, but without discharging the cargoes. (They carried on their
dealings and held a market at the king's pier. In spring they
tried three times to slip away, but never succeeded; so they
continued lying at the king's pier. It happened one fine day
that many set out to swim for amusement, and among them was a man
who distinguished himself above the others in all bodily
exercises. Kjartan challenged Halfred Vandredaskald to try
himself in swimming against this man, but he declined it. "Then
will I make a trial," said Kjartan, casting off his clothes, and
springing into the water. Then he set after the man, seizes hold
of his foot, and dives with him under water. They come up again,
and without speaking a word dive again, and are much longer under
water than the first time. They come up again, and without
saying a word dive a third time, until Kjartan thought it was
time to come up again, which, however, he could in no way
accomplish, which showed sufficiently the difference in their
strength. They were under water so long that Kjartan was almost
drowned. They then came up, and swam to land. This Northman
asked what the Icelander's name was. Kjartan tells his name.
He says, "Thou art a good swimmer; but art thou expert also in
Kjartan replied, that such expertness was of no great value.
The Northman asks, "Why dost thou not inquire of me such things
as I have asked thee about?"
Kjartan replies, "It is all one to me who thou art, or what thy
"Then will I," says he, "tell thee: I am Olaf Trygvason."
He asked Kjartan much about Iceland, which he answered generally,
and wanted to withdraw as hastily as he could; but the king said,
"Here is a cloak which I will give thee, Kjartan." And Kjartan
took the cloak with many thanks.)" (1)
(1) The part included in parenthesis is not found in the
original text of "Heimskringla", but taken from "Codex
89. BAPTISM OF THE ICELANDERS.
When Michaelmas came, the king had high mass sung with great
splendour. The Icelanders went there, listening to the fine
singing and the sound of the bells; and when they came back to
their ships every man told his opinion of the Christian man's
worship. Kjartan expressed his pleasure at it, but most of the
others scoffed at it; and it went according to the proverb, "the
king had many ears," for this was told to the king. He sent
immediately that very day a message to Kjartan to come to him.
Kjartan went with some men, and the king received him kindly.
Kjartan was a very stout and handsome man, and of ready and
agreeable speech. After the king and Kjartan had conversed a
little, the king asked him to adopt Christianity. Kjartan
replies, that he would not say no to that, if he thereby obtained
the king's friendship; and as the king promised him the fullest
friendship, they were soon agreed. The next day Kjartan was
baptized, together with his relation Bolle Thorlakson, and all
their fellow-travelers. Kjartan and Bolle were the king's guests
as long as they were in their white baptismal clothes, and the
king had much kindness for them. Wherever they came they were
looked upon as people of distinction.
90. HALFRED VANDREDASKALD BAPTIZED.
As King Olaf one day was walking in the street some men met him,
and he who went the foremost saluted the king. The king asked
the man his name, and he called himself Halfred.
"Art thou the skald?" said the king.
"I can compose poetry," replied he.
"Wilt thou then adopt Christianity, and come into my service?"
asked the king.
"If I am baptized," replies he, "it must be on one condition, --
that thou thyself art my godfather; for no other will I have."
The king replies, "That I will do." And Halfred was baptized,
the king holding him during the baptism.
Afterwards the king said, "Wilt thou enter into my service?"
Halfred replied, "I was formerly in Earl Hakon's court; but now I
will neither enter into thine nor into any other service, unless
thou promise me it shall never be my lot to be driven away from
"It has been reported to me," said the king, "that thou are
neither so prudent nor so obedient as to fulfil my commands."
"In that case," replied Halfred, "put me to death."
"Thou art a skald who composes difficulties," says the king; "but
into my service, Halfred, thou shalt be received."
Halfred says, "if I am to be named the composer of difficulties,
what cost thou give me, king, on my name-day?"
The king gave him a sword without a scabbard, and said, "Now
compose me a song upon this sword, and let the word sword be in
every line of the strophe." Halfred sang thus:
"This sword of swords is my reward.
For him who knows to wield a sword,
And with his sword to serve his lord,
Yet wants a sword, his lot is hard.
I would I had my good lord's leave
For this good sword a sheath to choose:
I'm worth three swords when men use,
But for the sword-sheath now I grieve."
Then the king gave him the scabbard, observing that the word
sword was wanting in one line of his strophe. "But there instead
are three swords in one of the lines," says Halfred. "That is
true," replies the king. -- Out of Halfred's lays we have taken
the most of the true and faithful accounts that are here related
about Olaf Trygvason.
91. THANGBRAND RETURNS FROM ICELAND.
The same harvest (A.D. 999) Thangbrand the priest came back from
Iceland to King Olaf, and told the ill success of his journey;
namely, that the Icelanders had made lampoons about him; and that
some even sought to kill him, and there was little hope of that
country ever being made Christian. King Olaf was so enraged at
this, that he ordered all the Icelanders to be assembled by sound
of horn, and was going to kill all who were in the town, but
Kjartan, Gissur, and Hjalte, with the other Icelanders who had
become Christians, went to him, and said, "King, thou must not
fail from thy word -- that however much any man may irritate
thee, thou wilt forgive him if he turn from heathenism and become
Christian. All the Icelanders here are willing to be baptized;
and through them we may find means to bring Christianity into
Iceland: for there are many amongst them, sons of considerable
people in Iceland, whose friends can advance the cause; but the
priest Thangbrand proceeded there as he did here in the court,
with violence and manslaughter, and such conduct the people there
would not submit to." The king harkened to those remonstrances;
and all the Iceland men who were there were baptized.
92. OF KING OLAF'S FEATS.
King Olaf was more expert in all exercises than any man in Norway
whose memory is preserved to us in sagas; and he was stronger and
more agile than most men, and many stories are written down about
it. One is that he ascended the Smalsarhorn, and fixed his
shield upon the very peak. Another is, that one of his followers
had climbed up the peak after him, until he came to where he
could neither get up nor down; but the king came to his help,
climbed up to him, took him under his arm, and bore him to the
flat ground. King Olaf could run across the oars outside of the
vessel while his men were rowing the Serpent. He could play with
three daggers, so that one was always in the air, and he took the
one falling by the handle. He could walk all round upon the
ship's rails, could strike and cut equally well with both hands,
and could cast two spears at once. King Olaf was a very merry
frolicsome man; gay and social; was very violent in all respects;
was very generous; was very finical in his dress, but in battle
he exceeded all in bravery. He was distinguished for cruelty
when he was enraged, and tortured many of his enemies. Some he
burnt in fire; some he had torn in pieces by mad dogs; some he
had mutilated, or cast down from high precipices. On this
account his friends were attached to him warmly, and his enemies
feared him greatly; and thus he made such a fortunate advance in
his undertakings, for some obeyed his will out of the friendliest
zeal, and others out of dread.
93. BAPTISM OF LEIF EIRIKSON.
Leif, a son of Eirik the Red, who first settled in Greenland,
came this summer (A.D. 999) from Greenland to Norway; and as he
met King Olaf he adopted Christianity, and passed the winter
(A.D. 1000) with the king.
94. FALL OF KING GUDROD.
Gudrod, a son of Eirik Bloodaxe and Gunhild, had been ravaging in
the west countries ever since he fled from Norway before the Earl
Hakon. But the summer before mentioned (A.D. 999), where King
Olaf Trygvason had ruled four years over Norway, Gudrod came to
the country, and had many ships of war with him. He had sailed
from England; and when he thought himself near to the Norway
coast, he steered south along the land, to the quarter where it
was least likely King Olaf would be. Gudrod sailed in this way
south to Viken; and as soon as he came to the land he began to
plunder, to subject the people to him, and to demand that they
should accept of him as king. Now as the country people saw that
a great army was come upon them, they desired peace and terms.
They offered King Gudrod to send a Thing-message over all the
country, and to accept of him at the Thing as king, rather than
suffer from his army; but they desired delay until a fixed day,
while the token of the Thing's assembling was going round through
the land. The king demanded maintenance during the time this
delay lasted. The bondes preferred entertaining the king as a
guest, by turns, as long as he required it; and the king accepted
of the proposal to go about with some of his men as a guest from
place to place in the land, while others of his men remained to
guard the ships. When King Olaf's relations, Hyrning and
Thorgeir, heard of this, they gathered men, fitted out ships, and
went northwards to Viken. They came in the night with their men
to a place at which King Gudrod was living as a guest, and
attacked him with fire and weapons; and there King Gudrod fell,
and most of his followers. Of those who were with his ships some
were killed, some slipped away and fled to great distances; and
now were all the sons of Eirik and Gunhild dead.
95. BUILDING OF THE SHIP LONG SERPENT.
The winter after, King Olaf came from Halogaland (A.D. 1000), he
had a great vessel built at Hladhamrar, which was larger than any
ship in the country, and of which the beam-knees are still to be
seen. The length of keel that rested upon the grass was seventy-
four ells. Thorberg Skafhog was the man's name who was the
master-builder of the ship; but there were many others besides,
-- some to fell wood, some to shape it, some to make nails, some
to carry timber; and all that was used was of the best. The ship
was both long and broad and high-sided, and strongly timbered.
While they were planking the ship, it happened that Thorberg had
to go home to his farm upon some urgent business; and as he
remained there a long time, the ship was planked up on both sides
when he came back. In the evening the king went out, and
Thorberg with him, to see how the vessel looked, and everybody
said that never was seen so large and so beautiful a ship of
war. Then the king returned to the town. Early next morning the
king returns again to the ship, and Thorberg with him. The
carpenters were there before them, but all were standing idle
with their arms across. The king asked, "what was the matter?"
They said the ship was destroyed; for somebody had gone from,
stem to stern, and cut one deep notch after the other down the
one side of the planking. When the king came nearer he saw it
was so, and said, with an oath, "The man shall die who has thus
destroyed the vessel out of envy, if he can be discovered, and I
shall bestow a great reward on whoever finds him out."
"I can tell you, king," said Thorberg, "who has done this piece
of work." --
"I don't think," replies the king, "that any one is so likely to
find it out as thou art."
Thorberg says, "I will tell you, king, who did it. I did it
The king says, "Thou must restore it all to the same condition as
before, or thy life shall pay for it."
Then Thorberg went and chipped the planks until the deep notches
were all smoothed and made even with the rest; and the king and
all present declared that the ship was much handsomer on the side
of the hull which Thorberg, had chipped, and bade him shape the
other side in the same way; and gave him great thanks for the
improvement. Afterwards Thorberg was the master builder of the
ship until she was entirely finished. The ship was a dragon,
built after the one the king had captured in Halogaland; but this
ship was far larger, and more carefully put together in all her
parts. The king called this ship Serpent the Long, and the
other Serpent the Short. The long Serpent had thirty-four
benches for rowers. The head and the arched tail were both gilt,
and the bulwarks were as high as in sea-going ships. This ship
was the best and most costly ship ever made in Norway.
96. EARL EIRIK, THE SON OF HAKON.
Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, and his brothers, with many
other valiant men their relations, had left the country after
Earl Hakon's fall. Earl Eirik went eastwards to Svithjod, to
Olaf, the Swedish king, and he and his people were well received.
King Olaf gave the earl peace and freedom in the land, and great
fiefs; so that he could support himself and his men well. Thord
Kolbeinson speaks of this in the verses before given. Many
people who fled from the country on account of King Olaf
Trygvason came out of Norway to Earl Eirik; and the earl resolved
to fit out ships and go a-cruising, in order to get property for
himself and his people. First he steered to Gotland, and lay
there long in summer watching for merchant vessels sailing
towards the land, or for vikings. Sometimes he landed and
ravaged all round upon the sea-coasts. So it is told in the
"Eirik, as we have lately heard,
Has waked the song of shield and sword --
Has waked the slumbering storm of shields
Upon the vikings' water-fields:
From Gotland's lonely shore has gone
Far up the land, and battles won:
And o'er the sea his name is spread,
To friends a shield, to foes a dread."
Afterwards Earl Eirik sailed south to Vindland, and at Stauren
found some viking ships, and gave them battle. Eirik gained the
victory, and slew the vikings. So it is told in the "Banda-
"Earl Eirik, he who stoutly wields
The battle-axe in storm of shields,
With his long ships surprised the foe
At Stauren, and their strength laid low
Many a corpse floats round the shore;
The strand with dead is studded o'er:
The raven tears their sea-bleached skins --
The land thrives well when Eirik wins."
97. EIRIK'S FORAY ON THE BALTIC COASTS.
Earl Eirik sailed back to Sweden in autumn, and staid there all
winter (A.D. 997); but in the spring fitted out his war force
again, and sailed up the Baltic. When he came to Valdemar's
dominions he began to plunder and kill the inhabitants, and burn
the dwellings everywhere as he came along, and to lay waste the
country. He came to Aldeigiuburg, and besieged it until he took
the castle; and he killed many people, broke down and burned the
castle, and then carried destruction all around far and wide in
Gardarike. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa": --
"The generous earl, brave and bold,
Who scatters his bright shining gold,
Eirik with fire-scattering hand,
Wasted the Russian monarch's land, --
With arrow-shower, and storm of war,
Wasted the land of Valdemar.
Aldeiga burns, and Eirik's might
Scours through all Russia by its light."
Earl Eirik was five years in all on this foray; and when he
returned from Gardarike he ravaged all Adalsysla and Eysysla, and
took there four viking ships from the Danes and killed every man
on board. So it is told in the "Banda-drapa": --
"Among the isles flies round the word,
That Eirik's blood-devouring sword
Has flashed like fire in the sound,
And wasted all the land around.
And Eirik too, the bold in fight,
Has broken down the robber-might
Of four great vikings, and has slain
All of the crew -- nor spared one Dane.
In Gautland he has seized the town,
In Syssels harried up and down;
And all the people in dismay
Fled to the forests far away.
By land or sea, in field or wave,
What can withstand this earl brave?
All fly before his fiery hand --
God save the earl, and keep the land."
When Eirik had been a year in Sweden he went over to Denmark
(A.D. 996) to King Svein Tjuguskeg, the Danish king, and courted
his daughter Gyda. The proposal was accepted, and Earl Eirik
married Gyda; and a year after (A.D. 997) they had a son, who was
called Hakon. Earl Eirik was in the winter in Denmark, or
sometimes in Sweden; but in summer he went a-cruising.
98. KING SVEIN'S MARRIAGE.
The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married to Gunhild, a
daughter of Burizleif, king of the Vinds. But in the times we
have just been speaking of it happened that Queen Gunhild fell
sick and died. Soon after King Svein married Sigrid the Haughty,
a daughter of Skoglartoste, and mother of the Swedish king Olaf;
and by means of this relationship there was great friendship
between the kings and Earl Eirik, Hakon's son.
99. KING BURIZLEIF'S MARRIAGE.
Burizleif, the king of the Vinds, complained to his relation Earl
Sigvalde, that the agreement was broken which Sigvalde had made
between King Svein and King Burizleif, by which Burizleif was to
get in marriage Thyre, Harald's daughter, a sister of King Svein:
but that marriage had not proceeded, for Thyre had given positive
no to the proposal to marry her to an old and heathen king.
"Now," said King Burizleif to Earl Sigvalde, "I must have the
promise fulfilled." And he told Earl Sigvalde to go to Denmark,
and bring him Thyre as his queen. Earl Sigvalde loses no time,
but goes to King Svein of Denmark, explains to him the case; and
brings it so far by his persuasion, that the king delivered his
sister Thyre into his hands. With her went some female
attendants, and her foster-father, by name Ozur Agason, a man of
great power, and some other people. In the agreement between the
king and the earl, it was settled that Thyre should have in
property the possessions which Queen Gunhild had enjoyed in
Vindland, besides other great properties as bride-gifts. Thyre
wept sorely, and went very unwillingly. When the earl came to
Vindland, Burizleif held his wedding with Queen Thyre, and
received her in marriage; bus as long as she was among heathens
she would neither eat nor drink with them, and this lasted for
100. OLAF GETS THYRE IN MARRIAGE.
It happened one night that Queen Thyre and Ozur ran away in the
dark, and into the woods, and, to be short in our story, came at
last to Denmark. But here Thyre did not dare to remain, knowing
that if her brother King Svein heard of her, he would send her
back directly to Vindland. She went on, therefore, secretly to
Norway, and never stayed her journey until she fell in with King
Olaf, by whom she was kindly received. Thyre related to the king
her sorrows, and entreated his advice in her need, and protection
in his kingdom. Thyre was a well-spoken woman, and the king had
pleasure in her conversation. He saw she was a handsome woman,
and it came into his mind that she would be a good match; so he
turns the conversation that way, and asks if she will marry him.
Now, as she saw that her situation was such that she could not
help herself, and considered what a luck it was for her to marry
so celebrated a man, she bade him to dispose himself of her hand
and fate; and, after nearer conversation, King Olaf took Thyre in
marriage. This wedding was held in harvest after the king
returned from Halogaland (A.D. 999), and King Olaf and Queen
Thyre remained all winter (A.D. 1000) at Nidaros.
The following spring Queen Thyre complained often to King Olaf,
and wept bitterly over it, that she who had so great property in
Vindland had no goods or possessions here in the country that
were suitable for a queen; and sometimes she would entreat the
king with fine words to get her property restored to her, and
saying that King Burizleif was so great a friend of King Olaf
that he would not deny King Olaf anything if they were to meet.
But when King Olaf's friends heard of such speeches, they
dissuaded him from any such expedition. It is related at the
king one day early in spring was walking in the street, and met a
man in the market with many, and, for that early season,
remarkably large angelica roots. The king took a great stalk of
the angelica in his hand, and went home to Queen Thyre's lodging.
Thyre sat in her room weeping as the king came in. The king
said, "Set here, queen, is a great angelica stalk, which I give
thee." She threw it away, and said, "A greater present Harald
Gormson gave to my mother; and he was not afraid to go out of the
land and take his own. That was shown when he came here to
Norway, and laid waste the greater part of the land, and seized
on all the scat and revenues; and thou darest not go across the
Danish dominions for this brother of mine, King Svein." As she
spoke thus, King Olaf sprang up, and answered with loud oath,
"Never did I fear thy brother King Svein; and if we meet he shall
give way before me!"
101. OLAF'S LEVY FOR WAR.
Soon after the king convoked a Thing in the town, and proclaimed
to all the public, that in summer would go abroad upon an
expedition out of the country, and would raise both ships and men
from every district; and at the same time fixed how many ships
would have from the whole Throndhjem fjord. Then he sent his
message-token south and north, both along the sea-coast and up in
the interior of the country, to let an army be gathered. The
king ordered the Long Serpent to be put into the water, along
with all his other ships both small and great. He himself
steered the Long Serpent. When the crews were taken out for the
ships, they were so carefully selected that no man on board the
Long Serpent was older than sixty or younger than twenty years,
and all were men distinguished for strength and courage. Those
who were Olaf's bodyguard were in particular chosen men, both of
the natives and of foreigners, and the boldest and strongest.
102. CREW ON BOARD OF THE LONG SERPENT.
Ulf the Red was the name of the man who bore King Olaf's banner,
and was in the forecastle of the Long Serpent; and with him was
Kolbjorn the marshal, Thorstein Uxafot, and Vikar of Tiundaland,
a brother of Arnliot Gelline. By the bulkhead next the
forecastle were Vak Raumason from Gaut River, Berse the Strong,
An Skyte from Jamtaland, Thrand the Strong from Thelamork, and
his brother Uthyrmer. Besides these were, of Halogaland men,
Thrand Skjalge and Ogmund Sande, Hlodver Lange from Saltvik, and
Harek Hvasse; together with these Throndhjem men -- Ketil the
High, Thorfin Eisle, Havard and his brothers from Orkadal. The
following were in the fore-hold: Bjorn from Studla, Bork from the
fjords. Thorgrim Thjodolfson from Hvin, Asbjorn and Orm, Thord
from Njardarlog, Thorstein the White from Oprustadar, Arnor from
More, Halstein and Hauk from the Fjord district, Eyvind Snak,
Bergthor Bestil, Halkel from Fialer, Olaf Dreng, Arnfin from
Sogn, Sigurd Bild, Einar from Hordaland, and Fin, and Ketil from
Rogaland and Grjotgard the Brisk. The following were in the hold
next the mast: Einar Tambaskelfer, who was not reckoned as fully
experienced, being only eighteen years old; Thorstein Hlifarson,
Thorolf, Ivar Smetta, and Orm Skogarnef. Many other valiant men
were in the Serpent, although we cannot tell all their names. In
every half division of the hold were eight men, and each and all
chosen men; and in the fore-hold were thirty men. It was a
common saying among people, that the Long Serpent's crew was as
distinguished for bravery, strength, and daring, among other men,
as the Long Serpent was distinguished among other ships. Thorkel
Nefja, the king's brother, commanded the Short Serpent; and
Thorkel Dydril and Jostein, the king's mother's brothers, had the
Crane; and both these ships were well manned. King Olaf had
eleven large ships from Throndhjem, besides vessels with twenty
rowers' benches, smaller vessels, and provision-vessels.
103. ICELAND BAPTIZED.
When King Olaf had nearly rigged out his fleet in Nidaros, he
appointed men over the Throndhjem country in all districts and
communities. He also sent to Iceland Gissur the White and Hjalte
Skeggjason, to proclaim Christianity there; and sent with them a
priest called Thormod, along with several men in holy orders.
But he retained with him, as hostages, four Icelanders whom he
thought the most important; namely, Kjartan Olafson, Haldor
Gudmundson, Kolbein Thordson, and Sverting Runolfson. Of Gissur
and Hjalte's progress, it is related that they came to Iceland
before the Althing, and went to the Thing; and in that Thing
Christianity was introduced by law into Iceland, and in the
course of the summer all the people were baptized (A.D. 1000).
104. GREENLAND BAPTIZED
The same spring King Olaf also sent Leif Eirikson (A.D. 1000) to
Greenland to proclaim Christianity there, and Leif went there
that summer. In the ocean he took up the crew of a ship which
had been lost, and who were clinging to the wreck. He also found
Vinland the Good; arrived about harvest in Greenland; and had
with him for it a priest and other teachers, with whom he went to
Brattahild to lodge with his father Eirik. People called him
afterwards Leif the Lucky: but his father Eirik said that his
luck and ill luck balanced each other; for if Leif had saved a
wreck in the ocean, he had brought a hurtful person with him to
Greenland, and that was the priest.
105. RAGNVALD SENDS MESSENGERS TO OLAF.
The winter after King Olaf had baptized Halogaland, he and Queen
Thyre were in Nidaros; and the summer before Queen Thyre had
brought King Olaf a boy child, which was both stout and
promising, and was called Harald, after its mother's father. The
king and queen loved the infant exceedingly, and rejoiced in the
hope that it would grow up and inherit after its father; but it
lived barely a year after its birth, which both took much to
heart. In that winter were many Icelanders and other clever men
in King Olaf's house, as before related. His sister Ingebjorg,
Trygve's daughter, King Olaf's sister, was also at the court at
that time. She was beautiful in appearance, modest and frank
with the people, had a steady manly judgment, and was beloved of
all. She was very fond of the Icelanders who were there, but
most of Kjartan Olafson, for he had been longer than the others
in the king's house; and he found it always amusing to converse
with her, for she had both understanding and cleverness in talk.
The king was always gay and full of mirth in his intercourse with
people; and often asked about the manners of the great men and
chiefs in the neighbouring countries, when strangers from Denmark
or Sweden came to see him. The summer before Halfred
Vandredaskald had come from Gautland, where he had been with Earl
Ragnvald, Ulf's son, who had lately come to the government of
West Gautland. Ulf, Ragnvald's father, was a brother of Sigurd
the Haughty; so that King Olaf the Swede and Earl Ragnvald were
brother's and sister's children. Halfred told Olaf many things
about the earl: he said he was an able chief, excellently fitted
for governing, generous with money, brave and steady in
friendship. Halfred said also the earl desired much the
friendship of King Olaf, and had spoken of making court
Ingebjorg, Trygve's daughter. The same winter came ambassadors
from Gautland, and fell in with King Olaf in the north, in
Nidaros, and brought the message which Halfred had spoken of, --
that the earl desired to be King Olaf's entire friend, and wished
to become his brother-in-law by obtaining his sister Ingebjorg in
marriage. Therewith the ambassadors laid before the king
sufficient tokens in proof that in reality they came from the
earl on this errand. The king listened with approbation to their
speech; but said that Ingebjorg must determine on his assent to
the marriage. The king then talked to his sister about the
matter, and asked her opinion about it. She answered to this
effect, -- "I have been with you for some time, and you have
shown brotherly care and tender respect for me ever since you
came to the country. I will agree therefore to your proposal
about my marriage, provided that you do not marry me to a heathen
man." The king said it should be as she wished. The king then
spoke to the ambassadors; and it was settled before they
departed that in summer Earl Ragnvald should meet the king in the
east parts of the country, to enter into the fullest friendship
with each other, and when they met they would settle about the
marriage. With this reply the earl's messengers went westward,
and King Olaf remained all winter in Nidaros in great splendour,
and with many people about him.
106. OLAF SENDS EXPEDITION TO VINDLAND.
King Olaf proceeded in summer with his ships and men southwards
along the land (and past Stad. With him were Queen Thyre and
Ingebjorg, Trygveis daughter, the king's sister). Many of his
friends also joined him, and other persons of consequence who had
prepared themselves to travel with the king. The first man among
these was his brother-in-law, Erling Skjalgson, who had with him
a large ship of thirty benches of rowers, and which was in every
respect well equipt. His brothers-in-law Hyrning and Thorgeir
also joined him, each of whom for himself steered a large vessel;
and many other powerful men besides followed him. (With all this
war-force he sailed southwards along the land; but when he came
south as far as Rogaland he stopped there, for Erling Skjalgson
had prepared for him a splendid feast at Sole. There Earl
Ragnvald, Ulf's son, from Gautland, came to meet the king, and to
settle the business which had been proposed ;n winter in the
messages between them, namely, the marriage with Ingebjorg the
king's sister. Olaf received him kindly; and when the matter
came to be spoken of, the king said he would keep his word, and
marry his sister Ingebjorg to him, provided he would accept the
true faith, and make all his subjects he ruled over in his land
be baptized; The earl agreed to this, and he and all his
followers were baptized. Now was the feast enlarged that Erling
had prepared, for the earl held his wedding there with Ingebjorg
the king's sister. King Olaf had now married off all his
sisters. The earl, with Ingebjorg, set out on his way home; and
the king sent learned men with him to baptize the people in
Gautland, and to teach them the right faith and morals. The king
and the earl parted in the greatest friendship.)
107. OLAF'S EXPEDITION VINDLAND.
(After his sister Ingebjorg's wedding, the king made ready in all
haste to leave the country with his army, which was both great
and made up of fine men.) When he left the land and sailed
southwards he had sixty ships of war, with which he sailed past
Denmark, and in through the Sound, and on to Vindland. He
appointed a meeting with King Burizleif; and when the kings met,
they spoke about the property which King Olaf demanded, and the
conference went off peaceably, as a good account was given of the
properties which King Olaf thought himself entitled to there. He
passed here much of the summer, and found many of his old
108. CONSPIRACY AGAINST KING OLAF.
The Danish king, Svein Tjuguskeg, was married, as before related,
to Sigrid the Haughty. Sigrid was King Olaf Trygvason's greatest
enemy; the cause of which, as before said, was that King Olaf had
broken off with her, and had struck her in the face. She urged
King Svein much to give battle to King Olaf Trygvason; saying
that he had reason enough, as Olaf had married his sister Thyre
without his leave, "and that your predecessors would not have
submitted to." Such persuasions Sigrid had often in her mouth;
and at last she brought it so far that Svein resolved firmly on
doing so. Early in spring King Svein sent messengers eastward
into Svithjod, to his son-in-law Olaf, the Swedish king, and to
Earl Eirik; and informed them that King Olaf of Norway was
levying men for an expedition, and intended in summer to go to
Vindland. To this news the Danish king added an invitation to
the Swedish king and Earl Eirik to meet King Svein with an army,
so that all together they might make an attack; on King Olaf
Trygvason. The Swedish king and Earl Eirik were ready enough for
this, and immediately assembled a great fleet and an army through
all Svithjod, with which they sailed southwards to Denmark, and
arrived there after King Olaf Trygvason had sailed to the
eastward. Haldor the Unchristian tells of this in his lay on
Earl Eirik: --
"The king-subduer raised a host
Of warriors on the Swedish coast.
The brave went southwards to the fight,
Who love the sword-storm's gleaming light;
The brave, who fill the wild wolf's mouth,
Followed bold Eirik to the south;
The brave, who sport in blood -- each one
With the bold earl to sea is gone."
The Swedish king and Earl Eirik sailed to meet the Danish king,
and they had all, when together, an immense force.
109. EARL SIGVALDE'S TREACHEROUS PLANS.
At the same time that king Svein sent a message to Svithjod for
an army, he sent Earl Sigvalde to Vindland to spy out King Olaf
Trygvason's proceedings, and to bring it about by cunning devices
that King Svein and King Olaf should fall in with each other. So
Sigvalde sets out to go to Vindland. First, he came to Jomsborg,
and then he sought out King Olaf Trygvason. There was much
friendship in their conversation, and the earl got himself into
great favour with the king. Astrid, the Earl's wife, King
Burizleif's daughter, was a great friend of King Olaf Trygvason,
particularly on account of the connection which had been between
them when Olaf was married to her sister Geira. Earl Sigvalde
was a prudent, ready-minded man; and as he had got a voice in
King Olaf's council, he put him off much from sailing homewards,
finding various reasons for delay. Olaf's people were in the
highest degree dissatisfied with this; for the men were anxious
to get home, and they lay ready to sail, waiting only for a wind.
At last Earl Sigvalde got a secret message from Denmark that the
Swedish king's army was arrived from the east, and that Earl
Eirik's also was ready; and that all these chiefs had resolved to
sail eastwards to Vindland, and wait for King Olaf at an island
which is called Svold. They also desired the earl to contrive
matters so that they should meet King Olaf there.
110. KING OLAF'S VOYAGE FROM VINDLAND.
There came first a flying report to Vindland that the Danish
king, Svein, had fitted out an army; and it was soon whispered
that he intended to attack King Olaf. But Earl Sigvalde says to
King Olaf, "It never can be King Svein's intention to venture
with the Danish force alone, to give battle to thee with such a
powerful army; but if thou hast any suspicion that evil is on
foot, I will follow thee with my force (at that time it was
considered a great matter to have Jomsborg vikings with an army),
and I will give thee eleven well-manned ships." The king
accepted this offer; and as the light breeze of wind that came
was favourable, he ordered the ships to get under weigh, and the
war-horns to sound the departure. The sails were hoisted and all
the small vessels, sailing fastest, got out to sea before the
others. The earl, who sailed nearest to the king's ship, called
to those on board to tell the king to sail in his keel-track:
"For I know where the water is deepest between the islands and in
the sounds, and these large ships require the deepest." Then the
earl sailed first with his eleven ships, and the king followed
with his large ships, also eleven in number; but the whole of the
rest of the fleet sailed out to sea. Now when Earl Sigvalde came
sailing close under the island Svold, a skiff rowed out to inform
the earl that the Danish king's army was lying in the harbour
before them. Then the earl ordered the sails of his vessels to
be struck, and they rowed in under the island. Haldor the
Unchristian says: --
"From out the south bold Trygve's son
With one-and-seventy ships came on,
To dye his sword in bloody fight,
Against the Danish foeman's might.
But the false earl the king betrayed;
And treacherous Sigvalde, it is said,
Deserted from King Olaf's fleet,
And basely fled, the Danes to meet."
It is said here that King Olaf and Earl Sigvalde had seventy sail
of vessels: and one more, when they sailed from the south.
111. CONSULTATION OF THE KINGS.
The Danish King Svein, the Swedish King Olaf, and Earl Eirik,
were there with all their forces (1000). The weather being fine
and clear sunshine, all these chiefs, with a great suite, went
out on the isle to see the vessels sailing out at sea, and many
of them crowded together; and they saw among them one large and
glancing ship. The two kings said, "That is a large and very
beautiful vessel: that will be the Long Serpent."
Earl Eirik replied, "That is not the Long Serpent." And he was
right; for it was the ship belonging to Eindride of Gimsar.
Soon after they saw another vessel coming sailing along much
larger than the first; then says King Svein, "Olaf Trygvason must
be afraid, for he does not venture to sail with the figure-head
of the dragon upon his ship."
Says Earl Eirik, "That is not the king's ship yet; for I know
that ship by the coloured stripes of cloth in her sail. That is
Erling Skialgson's. Let him sail; for it is the better for us
that the ship is away from Olaf's fleet, so well equipt as she
Soon after they saw and knew Earl Sigvalde's ships, which turned
in and laid themselves under the island. Then they saw three
ships coming along under sail, and one of them very large. King
Back to Full Books