The printed book's only clue about authorship is in the Notes. All other information comes from the Norwegian edition.
Original author: Snorri Sturluson (generally spelled Snorre Sturlason in Norwegian). Modern (1899) Norwegian translation: Gustav Storm. English translation (based on modern Norwegian, not on original): Ethel Harriet Hearn.
The html version of this e-text includes illustrations, also taken from the Norwegian edition.]
The Sagas of OLAF TRYGGVASON and of HARALD THE TYRANT (Harald Haardraade)
London Williams and Norgate MCMXI
The places of notes in the text are indicated thus Sec.. The relative matter will be found at the end of the book in due order as to page and line.
[Footnote markers shown in brackets [Sec.] were missing from the printed text and have been supplied by the transcriber.]
THE SAGA OF OLAF TRYGGVASON, CMLXVIII-M
Now it befell in the days of King Tryggvi Olafson that the woman he had wedded was Astrid & she was the daughter of Eirik Biodaskalli, a wealthy man who dwelt at Oprostad.
When the downfall of Tryggvi had been accomplished, Astrid fled away bearing with her what chattels she might. And with her went her foster-father Thorolf Louse-Beard, who never left her, whereas other trusty men, loyal to her, fared hither and thither to gather tidings of her foes or to spy out where they might lurk. Now Astrid being great with child of King Tryggvi caused herself to be transported to an islet on a lake & there took shelter with but few of her company.
In due time she bare a man-child, and at his baptism he was called Olaf after his father's father. All that summer did she abide there in hiding. But when the nights grew as long as they were dark and the weather waxed cold, she set forth once more and with her fared Thorolf and the others of her train. Only by night could they venture in those parts of the country that were inhabited being in fear lest they should be seen of men or meet with them. In time, at even, came they to the homestead of Eirik of Oprostad. And since they were journeying by stealth, Astrid sent a messenger to the goodman of the house, who bade them to be led to an outhouse & there had set before them the best of cheer. Thence, when Astrid had abided for a while, her followers went unto their homes, but she remained there & with her to bear her company were two women, her babe Olaf, Thorolf Louse-Beard and his son Thorgills who was six winters old. They rested in that place until the winter was done.
After they had made an end to slaying Tryggvi Olafson, Harald Grey-Cloak and Gudrod his brother hied them to the homesteads that had been his. But ere they came thither Astrid had fled & of her learned they no tidings save a rumour that she was with child of King Tryggvi.
In the autumn fared they to the north, as has been related beforetime, and when they were face to face with their mother Gunnhild, told they her all that had befallen them on their journey. Closely did she question them concerning Astrid, and they imparted to her what they had heard. But because the sons of Gunnhild were that same autumn and the next winter at strife with Earl Hakon, as hath already ere now been set forth, made they no search for Astrid and her son.
When the spring was come, Gunnhild despatched spies to the Uplands, and even as far as Vik, to get news of Astrid. And when the spies returned it was with the tidings that she was with her father Eirik & there most like was she rearing the son that she had borne to King Tryggvi that was dead. Forthwith Gunnhild chose messengers and equipped them handsomely both with weapons and wearing apparel: thirty men chose she, and their leader was Hakon, a man of influence and a friend to herself. She bade them make their way to Oprostad to Eirik and from thence take the son of Tryggvi and bring him unto herself.
Thereupon the messengers set out on their way, but when they were come nigh to Oprostad learned the friends of Eirik concerning their journey and went one evening unto him with the tidings.
Straightway when night had fallen, Eirik bade Astrid make ready to leave, furnished her with sure guides, & set her eastwards with her face towards Sweden, to his friend Hakon the Old, who was a man in the exercise of potent sway. They adventured when the night was not far spent, & next day, towards even, were they come to a country-side called Skaun, and seeing there a homestead thither went they craving lodging for the night. Of their names they made a secret & their garb was but meanly. The yeoman who abode in the place was called Biorn Venom-Sore, a wealthy man was he but withal churlish, and he drave them away, & they came that same evening to another homestead which was called Vizkar.
Thorstein was the yeoman who dwelt there & he gave them shelter and good cheer for the night, and there they slept in good beds.
Next day betimes came Hakon with the men of Gunnhild to Oprostad and asked for Astrid and her son, but Eirik said that she was not there, so Hakon and his men ransacked the homestead and bided till late even toward sundown, and gat them some tidings of Astrid's road. Then rode they forth the same day and came almost as night fell to the house of Biorn Venom-Sore in Skaun, and there took harbour.
Then Hakon asked Biorn if he had aught to tell concerning Astrid; and he said that some wayfarers had come there during the day and had asked for a night's lodging, 'I sent them away, and it is likely they sought a refuge elsewhere in the neighbourhood.' Now a workman that had been of the household of Thorstein, being on his way to pass out from the forest, that same even happened to chance on the homestead of Biorn and learned that guests were tarrying, & further of what fashion was their errand; and all this he forthwith sped back to tell to Thorstein the yeoman.
So while there was still a third of the night unspent, Thorstein aroused his guests and bade them begone, urging them harshly to bestir themselves. When they had passed a little way from the house then did Thorstein open unto them that the emissaries from Gunnhild were hard by at the house of Biorn seeking for them.
They besought him for succour, and he set them on their way with a guide & some food, and their guide led them into the forest where there was a lake & an islet overgrown with reeds. They were able to wade out unto the islet & thereon hid they themselves among the reeds.
Early on the morrow Hakon rode out from the homestead of Biorn over the countryside, asking withersoever he went for Astrid. When he was come unto the house of Thorstein demanded he if they had thither been and Thorstein said that certain folk had fared thither & had gone on at daybreak eastwards through the forest. Then did Hakon bid Thorstein come with him because he was skilled in the knowledge of the tracks and hiding-places: and Thorstein set forth. But when they were come to the forest led he them away from where Astrid was.
The whole of that day did they go seeking for them, but found them not. Then they came back on their road & related unto Gunnhild what had befallen. Astrid & her followers went forth on their way till they were come unto Sweden to the home of Hakon the Old, and there Astrid and her son dwelt a long while, and it was well with them.
Gunnhild, she that was mother to the King, hearing that Astrid & her son Olaf were in Sweden, once more sent forth Hakon and a brave following with him, this time eastward to Eirik King of Sweden, with goodly gifts and fair words. The messengers were made welcome and given good entertainment, and thereafter Hakon made known his errand to the King, saying that Gunnhild had sent craving the King's help so that he might take Olaf back with him to Norway: 'Gunnhild will foster him,' quoth he.
Then did the King give him men to go with him, and they rode to the house of Hakon the Old, and there Hakon offered with fair words to take Olaf with him. Hakon the Old returned a friendly answer and said that it must so happen that the mother of the child should decide about his going, but Astrid would in nowise suffer the boy to fare forth with them. So the messengers went their way & brought back the answer unto King Eirik and they made them ready to return home; but once more prayed they the King to grant them help to bear off the boy whether Hakon the Old were willing or not. So the King yet again gave them a company of men & the messengers returned to Hakon the Old and demanded that the boy be allowed to fare forth with them, but as Hakon was unwilling that this should be, resorted they to big words and threats of violence, and bore themselves wrathfully. Then did a thrall spring forward whose name was Bristle, and would have smitten Hakon but that he & they that were of his company withdrew hastily so that in nowise might they be beaten of the thrall: and back fared they to Norway and recounted to Gunnhild all the happenings of their journey & likewise that they had seen Olaf Tryggvason.
Now Astrid had a brother, the son of Eirik Biodaskalli, whose name was Sigurd: long had he been remote from the land, sojourning in the realm of Garda (western Russia) with King Valdamar,Sec. by whom was he held in great honour. Now Astrid conceived the desire that she should hie unto this her brother Sigurd. Therefore Hakon the Old furnished her with trusty followers & handsome equipment after the best manner. And she journeyed in the company of certain merchants. It was for the space of two winters she had abode with Hakon the Old, and Olaf was now three winters old. It came to pass as they were heading eastwards across the sea some vikings fell upon them, men of Eistland (Esthonia) and took possession both of folk and goods, and some of the folk they killed & some they shared among themselves as thralls. Thus was Olaf withdrawn from his mother and passed into the custody of one Klerkon, an Eistlander. Together with him were committed Thorolf and Thorgills. Klerkon deemed Thorolf too old for a thrall, and that he would be of no use, therefore slew he him, but took the boys with him and sold them to a man, hight Klerk, for a good he-goat.
A third man bought Olaf, and gave for him a good tunic or cloak. The man was named Reas, his wife Rekon, & their son Rekoni. There tarried Olaf long and it fared well with him, and always was he mightily beloved by the churl. Six winters did Olaf sojourn thus in Eistland.
Sigurd Eirikson had come unto Eistland as an emissary of Valdamar King of Holmgard (Novgarod) to collect the tribute belonging to the King & he travelled as a man of wealth with many folk much beladen in his train.
Now it chanced that in the marketplace his eye lit on a certain fine boy whom he knew could not be of the country, & asking him his name gat for answer that he was called Olaf and his father Tryggvi Olafson and his mother Astrid, the daughter of Eirik Biodaskalli. Thus did Sigurd learn that Olaf was son unto his very own sister, and he asked him after what manner he had come to that place: and Olaf told him all that had befallen him. Sigurd bade him come with him to the peasant Reas, and when they were come to the churl paid he him what price was covenanted between them for the boys and bare them with him to Holmgard. But never a word did he relate of the lineage of Olaf, yet held he him in high favour.
It was that one day in the marketplace lingered Olaf Tryggvason when there was a gathering of many people. And it chanced that amongst them, spied he Klerkon who had slain his fosterfather Thorolf Louse-Beard. Now Olaf had a small axe in his hand, and he drave it into the head of Klerkon so that it went right down into his brain: forthwith ran he home to his lodging and told his kinsman Sigurd thereof. Straightway did Sigurd take Olaf to the house of the Queen, and to her made known what had befallen. Her name was Allogia, and Sigurd prayed for her grace to protect the lad. The Queen beheld the boy and said that one so young and so well favoured must not be slain, and proclaimed her readiness to summon men fully armed. Now it fell in Holmgard that so great was the respect paid unto peace that it was lawful to slay any man who himself had slain another who was uncondemned; and therefore in accordance with their law and custom the people made assemblage together to take into custody the person of the boy.
Then were they told that he was in the house of the Queen in the midst of an armed band; and this was also brought to the ears of the King.
He made him ready to go over to these armed men & give them his commission not to fight, and forthwith did he, the King, adjudge the geld-levy, the fine thereof being paid down by the Queen. Thereafter did Olaf abide in the house of the Queen and waxed to find much favour in her eyes.
Now it was the law in Garda that men of royal blood should not dwell there save with the consent of the King, therefore Sigurd made known unto the Queen from what stock Olaf was descended and in what manner he had come thither, saying that because of dissensions he could not prudently be in his own country, and he prayed her to speak with the King upon this matter. Then did she approach the King beseeching him that he would help this son of a king even because so hard a fate had befallen him: & the outcome of her prayers was that the King pledged her his word and taking Olaf under his protection treated him with honour, as it was seemly the son of a king should be held in honour.
Olaf was nine winters old when he came to Garda, & nine more winters dwelt he with King Valdamar. Olaf was exceeding fair & tall to look upon and of mighty stature & of great strength withal. And in prowess in sports, so it is told, was he the best of all the Norsemen.
Earl Hakon Sigurdson abode with the Danish King, Harald Gormson, during the winter after he had fled from Norway before the sons of Gunnhild.
Now Hakon had so much on his mind that winter that he took to his bed, and often lay wakeful, eating & drinking only so much as would maintain the strength in his body. Then secretly sent he his men northwards to Throndhjem to his friends there, & counselled them that they should slay King Erling if it might be that they could compass that deed; adding furthermore that he himself would fare back to his realm in summer-time. That winter they that were of Throndhjem slew Erling, as is aforewrit.
Betwixt Hakon and Gold Harald was there a friendship close as that of brothers that have been laid in the same cradle and Harald would lay bare his thoughts unto Hakon. Harald confessed he desired to settle on the land and no more live on his ship of war, and he questioned Hakon if he thought Harald would share his kingdom with him were he to demand the half. 'Methinks,' quoth Hakon, 'that the Danish King will not refuse thee justice; but thou wilt know more concerning this matter if thou speakest thereon to the King; methinks thou wilt not get the realm save thou demandest it.' Shortly after this talk spake Gold Harald to King Harald when they were in company with many mighty men, good friends unto them both. Gold Harald then demanded that he should halve the kingdom with him, in accordance with the rights which his birth and lineage gave him there in Denmark.
At this demand waxed Harald very wroth, & sware that no man had ever besought his father, Gorm, that he should become King of half of what pertained unto Denmark, nor yet of his father Horda-Knut (Hardicanute), nor again of Sigurd Snake-i'-the-eye, nor of Ragnar Lodbrok; & so great was his fury that none dared parley with him.
Thence came it that his own position was now even less than before to the liking of Gold Harald, for no kingdom had he any more than aforetime; while to this was added the wrath of the King. So went he to his friend Hakon and made wail of his plight unto him, and besought of him good counsel, if he had such to give him, as to how he might become possessed of the realm; and he said he was minded to seek his kingdom by force of arms. Then Hakon bade him not breathe word of this to anyone lest it should become known: 'It might cost thee thy life,' he said.
'Bethink thee diligently what thy strength is, for he who would risk so great a venture must be high-hearted and dauntless, shirking neither the good nor the evil, so that to which he hath set his hand may come to pass. All unworthy is it to take up great issues and afterwards to lay them down again with dishonour.' Then did Gold Harald answer: 'To such purpose will I take up this claim, that I will not even spare these my own hands from slaying the King himself if occasion serve, should he refuse me this kingdom which is mine by right.' And therewith ended they their commune. After this came King Harald to Hakon, and they fell to talking together & the King told the Earl of Gold Harald's claim to the kingdom, and with what answer he had rebuked him, declaring that he would by no means diminish his own kingdom, 'but if Gold Harald hold fast to this his claim; then see I nothing for it save that I should put him to the death for in him have I but little faith if he will not surrender this desire.' The Earl made answer: 'Methinks Harald hath set out on this matter with such earnestness that he is not like to set it aside; and that if it should come to a rising in the land, there would be many that would flock unto his standard and the main of them because of the love they had borne to his father. It would bring thee the greatest ill-chance shouldst thou slay thy kinsman, for in such case all men would deem him blameless. Nor will I counsel thee to become a lesser king than was Gorm thy father; he also very much increased his realm, but in no wise diminished it.' Then said the King: 'What then is thy counsel, Hakon? Wouldst thou that I should divide my kingdom, and have this unrest off my mind?' 'Our meeting will be again ere many suns set,' answered Earl Hakon.
'I will first ponder over this difficult matter, and thereafter give thee an answer.' Then did the King depart and with him all the men that were of his company.
Thereafter came it to pass that Earl Hakon betook himself once more to pondering and plotting, and permitted but few of his men to be in the house with him. Some days later came Harald again to the Earl, and they communed together, and the King asked of the Earl if he had thought deeply upon that matter whereon they had discoursed when they were last face to face. 'On that matter,' quoth the Earl, 'have I lain sleepless both by night and day ever since, and I deem it the wisest counsel that thou shouldst hold and rule the kingdom that thy father had and that thou didst inherit after him, but that thou shouldst get for thy kinsman Harald another kingdom wherein he may have all honour.' 'What kingdom is that?' inquired the King, 'that I may lightly give to Harald, keeping the Danish kingdom whole the while?' The Earl made answer, 'It is Norway. The kings who rule there are hated by all the folk of their land, & every man wishes them ill, as is but meet.' Then mused the King aloud: 'Norway is a great land, and the folk are a hardy folk; it beseems me to be a land ill chosen whereon to fall with a foreign host. Thus did it happen to us when Hakon defended the land; many men were slain to us but no victory did we achieve. Moreover Harald Eirikson is my foster-son and hath sat on my knee.' Then saith the Earl: 'Long have I known that thou hast given help to the sons of Gunnhild; yet with naught but ill have they requited thee. We will take Norway more easily than by fighting for her with all the hosts of Denmark. Send thou to thy foster-son Harald, and bid him receive from thee the lands and fiefs which they had aforetime here in Denmark.
Appoint a tryst with him; then can Gold Harald in a short while win himself a kingdom in Norway from King Harald Grey-cloak.' Then answered the King that it would be called of foul intent to betray his foster-son. 'The Danes, I trow, will account it a better deed to slay a Norwegian viking than one who is a brother's son and a Dane,' answereth the Earl; & thereafter talked they on this matter until they were in full accord.
Yet again came Gold Harald to speak with Hakon, and the Earl made known to him that he had so championed his cause and to such good purpose that there was hope that a kingdom might now be making ready for him in Norway. 'Let us,' said he, 'hold fast by our compact. I shall be able to afford thee great support in Norway. Get thou first that kingdom. King Harald is now very old & hath but one son, a bastard, whom he loveth but little.' To such measure did the Earl open up the matter to Gold Harald that the younger man was in full accord with him thereon; and thereafter did they all three take lengthy counsel, to wit, the King, the Earl, and Gold Harald full oft. Then sent the Danish King his men north into Norway even to Harald Grey-cloak, and they were right well furnished for their journey, and were made welcome with much cheer and in all courtesy were received by King Harald. They related the tidings that Earl Hakon was in Denmark, and was lying sick unto death and well-nigh witless; and the further tidings that Harald the Danish King bade Harald Grey-cloak to him to take such fiefs as he and his brothers had held aforetime in Denmark, and to that purpose bade he Harald come to him in Jutland. Harald Grey-cloak laid the matter before Gunnhild and other counsellors and their views were not all of one accord, some fearing that this journey was not without peril by reason of the men that were set over against them to be dealt with; but the greater number were desirous that he should go by reason of the great famine that was at this time in Norway whereby the kings could scarce feed their men. And it was at this season that the fjord near-by which the kings most oft abode gat its name of Harding.
In Denmark, as men had marked, the harvest had been at least of goodly measure, so that men thought to get thence what they required should King Harald have fief & dominion there. It was agreed therefore ere the emissaries departed whence they had come, that when summer was at hand Harald should hie to the Danish King, and pronounce his adhesion to the conditions King Harald proffered.
So in due course when the summer sun shone in the long hours of night fared forth Harald Grey-cloak towards Denmark in three longships, & one of these was steered by Arinbiorn, the 'hersir'Sec. of the Fjords.Sec. King Harald sailed from Vik over to Limfjord and took port at Hals, where it was told him that the Danish King was expected in a brief space. Now when King Harald heard of this, hastened he to make sail thither with nine ships, the which had been whiles mustered and set in readiness to take the sea. Earl Hakon had likewise armed his men & he also was about to set forth after the manner of a viking; at his word twelve ships, and they large ones, set their sails. When Gold Harald had fared forth, Earl Hakon spake to the King, saying, 'Methinks we are like to row to war and yet pay the war-fine[Sec.] to boot. Gold Harald will now slay Harald Grey-cloak and thereafter take himself a kingdom in Norway.
Thinkest thou that he will be loyal to thee when thou givest him so much power? Thus said he in my presence last winter that he would slay thee could he but find occasion to do so. Now will I bring Norway under thy sway and slay Gold Harald, if thou wilt promise easy absolution at thy hands for the deed.
Then will I be thine earl, and bind myself by oath that with thy might to be my aid I will bring Norway under subjection under thee, and thereafter hold lands under thy dominion & pay thee tribute. Then wilt thou be a greater king than thy father was, inasmuch as thou shalt hold sway over two great peoples.'
Thus was this covenanted betwixt the King and the Earl; and Hakon set out with his men to seek Gold Harald.
Gold Harald came to Hals in Limfjord, and forthwith offered battle to Harald Grey-cloak; and Harald, albeit to him were fewer men, went ashore, made him ready for battle & set his host in array. But or ever the onset took place Harald Grey-cloak spoke cheering words to his men, bade them draw their swords, and rushing first into the fray smote on either side. Thus saith Glum Geirason in Grey-cloak's lay:
'Brave words spake the swordsman, He that dared to dye the grass sward of battle With the blood of the foe; And when Harald bade his men ply the swords in the strife, His manly words did them mightily encourage.'
There fell Harald Grey-cloak. Thus saith Glum Geirason:
'The bearer of the shield, He that clave longest to the ship, In death lay stretched On the broad marge of Limfjord; On the sands at Hals Fell the bounteous chieftain; It was his glib-tongued kinsman That wrought the deed.'
There fell with King Harald the greater number of his men; there, likewise, fell Arinbiorn the 'hersir.' Fifteen winters had passed since the fall of Hakon, he that was foster-son to Adalstein, and thirteen since the fall of Sigurd the Earl of Ladir. The priest Ari Thorgilson saith that Earl Hakon was for thirteen winters ruler of his heritage in Throndhjem before the death of Harald Grey-cloak; & that during the last six winters of Harald Grey-cloak's life, saith Ari, the sons of Gunnhild and Hakon fought against one another, & in turn fled the country.
Earl Hakon and Gold Harald met not long after the fall of Harald Grey-cloak, & straightway Earl Hakon joined battle with Gold Harald. Therein Hakon gained the victory; moreover Harald was taken prisoner, and Hakon had him hanged upon the gallows. Thereafter fared Hakon to the Danish King, and easily made his peace with him for the slaying of his kinsman Gold Harald. King Harald then called out a host from the whole of his kingdom and sailed with six hundred ships, and there went with him Earl Hakon and Harald the Grenlander, who was a son of King Gudrod, and many other great men who had fled from their free lands in Norway before the sons of Gunnhild.
The Danish King set his fleet in sail up from the south to Vik, and when he was come to Tunsberg great numbers flocked to him.
And King Harald gave the whole of the host which had come to him in Norway into the hands of Earl Hakon, making him ruler over Rogoland and Hordaland, Sogn, the Fjords, South More, Raumsdal, and North More. These seven counties gave he to Earl Hakon to rule over, with the same rights as Harald Fair-hair had given to his sons; only with this difference, that not only was Hakon there as well as in Throndhjem to have all the King's manors and land-dues, but he was moreover to use the King's money and estates according to his needs should there be war in the land. To Harald the Grenlander gave King Harald Vingulmark, Vestfold, and Agdir as far as Lidandisness (the Naze) with the title of King, and gave him dominion thereof with all such rights as his kin had had aforetime, & as Harald Fair-hair had given to his sons. Harald the Grenlander was in these days eighteen winters old, & became thereafter a famous man. Then did Harald the Danish King hie him home with all the might of his Danish host.
Earl Hakon fared with his men northward along the coast, and when Gunnhild and her sons heard these tidings gathered they together an host, but found obstacles to enrolling men at arms. So they took the same resolution as before, to wit to sail westward across the main with such men as would go with them, and thus fared they to the Orkneys and tarried there a while. Thorfinn Skull-cleaver's sons were now earls there Hlodvir, Arnvid, Liot, and Skuli. Forthwith did Earl Hakon subdue all the land and that winter abode he in Throndhjem. Of this speaketh Einar Jingle-scale in the Vellekla:
'The Earl that on his noble brow A silken fillet binds Counties seven hath he enthralled With their chattels, lands, and hinds.'
Now when Earl Hakon in the summer-time fared northward along the coast, & the people there made their submission to him, issued he proclamation that all temples and blood-offerings should be maintained throughout his dominions; and it was done accordingly. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
'Seeing that he was wise The folk-leader commanded that be sacred kept The temple-lands of Thor and other Gods. Home to glory across the billows Did the shield-bearer steer the ship, It was the Gods that led him. 'And the men-loving AEsirs gloat on the offerings Whereby the shield-bearer is made of more account. Bountifully doth the earth give forth her sustenance When its lord builds temples for the Gods.' All that is northward to Vik lies under the heel of the Earl; Wide is the sway that he holds, mightily waxed by victories.'
That self-same first winter wherein King Hakon ruled over Norway came the herring up along the coast, and before that in the autumn had the corn grown wheresoever it had been sown; in the spring men gat themselves seed-corn and the greater number of the peasants sowed their fields, and soon there was promise of a good harvest.
King Ragnfrod, son unto Gunnhild, and Gudrod, he that was another son to her, these two were now the only sons of Eirik and Gunnhild who were still alive.
Thus saith Glum Geirason in Grey-cloak's lay:
'Half is my hope of wealth downfallen since the strife, The strife in which the life of the chief was lost, The death of Harald weigheth me down, Albeit his brethren twain have good things promised me, And to them all men look for their welfare.'
Now when Ragnfrod had abode one winter in the Orkneys made he him ready in the spring and thence shaped a course eastward to Norway, & with him were a chosen company in large ships.
And when he was come to Norway learned he tidings how Earl Hakon was in Throndhjem, forthwith did he steer northward round Stad & laid waste South More; and some folks submitted to him as oft befalleth when warrior bands go through a country— those that they meet with seek help, each one wheresoever it seemeth likeliest to be gotten. When it was told to Earl Hakon that there was war in the south within More, caused he war-arrows to be sharpened and he equipped himself in haste & set sail down the fjord. Moreover an easy matter was it for him to bring folk around his standard. Earl Hakon and Ragnfrod sighted one another off the northernmost part of South More, & straightway Hakon gave battle, he that had most men but withal smaller ships. Hard was the struggle & therein waxed Hakon luckless; men fought from the prows and sterns, as the custom was in those times. Now there was a current in the sound, and all the ships were driven into shore, so the Earl bade his folk rest on their oars, and drift to land at such place where he should deem it best to land; and when the ships grounded, the Earl and all his host sallied forth and haled them up on the beach, so that their foemen might not drag them forth again. Then did the Earl array his men on the banks, and shouted defiance to Ragnfrod to land, but they that were with Ragnfrod lay-to farther out, and though for a while they shot at one another, would Ragnfrod in no wise come ashore, and thereafter they parted. Ragnfrod sailed with his fleet southward to Stad, for he feared him that the land hosts might assemble and flock to Earl Hakon. But that earl waged war no more for unto his mind the difference betwixt the ships was over-great. In the autumn fared he north to Throndhjem, & there abode during the winter. King Ragnfrod therefore held all the land south of Stad: the Fjords, Sogn, Hordaland, and Rogaland. Many men were at his beck throughout that winter, and when the spring-tide came called he a muster and gat him many more. Moreover sent he far & wide over all these counties to gather together men and ships and what other stores whereof he had need.
When spring was come Earl Hakon summoned men from out the very north of the country; many gat he from Halogaland, & Naumdal, so that right from Byrda to Stad came men to him from all the sea-boards. He reared a host from all the districts of Throndhjem, and likewise from Raumsdal. It was said that he had men from four counties; with him fared seven earls, and in their train were an exceeding large company. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
'Thereafter, full of lust for slaughter, Did the defender of the folk of More Bring from the north a tale of men to Sogn. From counties four called forth that warrior hosts, Seeing in them sure help for all his folk. To the war-gathering on the longships Swiftly, to meet their warrior chieftain, Hie lords of the land in number seven. All Norway trembled at the warrior host; Beyond the capes were borne unnumbered fallen.'
Then Earl Hakon set sail with the whole of this host southward past Stad; and when it came to his ears that King Ragnfrod with his host had entered into the Sognfjord thither led he his men and there encountered him.
Thereafter having brought his ships to land chose he out a battle-field whereon to fight King Ragnfrod. Thus saith the Vellekla:
'Now did the chieftain meet in second battle The slayer of the Vandals, and fell slaughter followed. The prows were set to land, And the ships steered even to the marches of the shires At the bidding of the warrior.'
And it came to pass that both sides did dress their battle and fought amazing fierce, but in men had Earl Hakon the super-abundance and the issue was to him. This was at Thinganes, where Sogn and Hordaland meet. King Ragnfrod fled from his ships, and of his folk there fell three hundred men. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
'Fierce was the strife before three hundred were pressed Beneath the claws of the carrion bird By the host of the warrior chief: O'er the heads of the sea-dwellers, Thence could the conquering chief stride— Aye, and the deed was glorious.'
After this battle did King Ragnfrod hie him away from Norway and Earl Hakon brought peace to the land; he gave licence that the great host which had been with him in the summer should fare back northward, but he himself abode hard by there where he gained the victory, not whiles only that autumn but also throughout the winter that came after.
Earl Hakon took to wife a woman named Thora, who was exceeding fair. The daughter was she of Skagi Skoptison, a man possessed of much wealth.
Their sons were Svein and Heming, & their daughter was Bergliot, who thereafter was wedded to Einar Tamberskelfir. Earl Hakon was over much given to women, and by them had many children. One of his daughters was called Ragnhild, and he gave her in marriage to Skopti Skagason, the brother of Thora. The Earl so loved Thora that her kinsmen became dearer to him than all other men, and Skopti his son-in-law had more influence with him than any other of his kindred. To him gave the Earl large fiefs in More; & it was covenanted betwixt them that whensoever the fleet of the Earl was at sea Skopti was to bring his ship alongside the Earl's, and for none other was it to be lawful to lay his ship between their ships.
Now it happened one summer when Earl Hakon was with his ships on the main that Thorleif the Meek was master of one of them, & Eirik, the son of the Earl, he being then some ten or eleven winters old, was aboard. Of an evening when they were come into haven, Eirik would not have it otherwise save that the ship whereon he was must be closest to the ship pertaining to the person of the Earl.
Now when they made sail south to More there came likewise Skopti, he that was son-in-law to the Earl, with his long-ship well manned. Skopti, as his men were rowing towards the fleet, called out to Thorleif to leave the haven and let him lie-to there, but Eirik sprang up & answered back bidding Skopti hie him to another berth. Now Earl Hakon hearing that his son deemed himself too mighty to make way for Skopti, straightway called out to Thorleif bidding him leave the berth, or he would make it the worse for them, to wit, that he would have them beaten. So Thorleif when he heard this shouted to his men to slip their cables, and this they did according to his word; then did Skopti lie-to in the berth he was wont to have, nearest the Earl's ship. Now Skopti was called Tidings Skopti, & this had come about seeing that it had been agreed that when they were together he was to make known to the Earl all the tidings, or if it so happened that the Earl had heard them first then it was he that would tell the tidings to Skopti. Now in the winter that was after all that hath been before but now related, was Eirik with his foster-father Thorleif, but even so soon as the earlier spring-tide was he given a company of men.
Thorleif moreover gave him a fifteen-benched ship with all the gear, tilts, and victuals that were needful. Eirik thence sailed from the fjord, and so south to More. Now it befell that Tidings Skopti was also at sea between his homesteads, & he too in a fifteen-benched craft; Eirik forthwith bore straight down on him and offered battle, and in the issue thereof fell Skopti, but Eirik gave quarter to such of his men who were not slain. Thus saith Eyolf Dadaskald, in the Banda lay:
'Late in the day, On the ski of the sea-king, With combatants equal, Fared the youth 'gainst the "hersir," Him the stout-hearted. There 'neath the hand That a bloody blade wielded Fell Tidings Skopti. (The feeder of wolves Was food for the ravens.)'
With that sailed Eirik south along the coast to Denmark, and adventured to King Harald Gormson, abiding with him the winter; but the spring thereafter the Danish King sent Eirik north, & bestowed on him the title Earl & therewith VingulmarkSec. and Raumariki, to be beneath his sway even under the self-same tenure as had tribute-paying kings aforetime been in fief and tribute.
In the days that were to come after waxed Earl Eirik, and men knew him as a mighty chieftain. All this while abode Olaf Tryggvason in Garda, at the court of King Valdamar, where he had much honour & enjoyed the faithful love of the Queen.
King Valdamar made him lord of the host which he sent out for the defence of his country, and for him fought Olaf divers battles and proved himself to be an able captain, and himself maintained a large host of warriors on the fiefs allotted to him by the King. Of no niggardly disposition, Olaf was ever openhanded to the men that were with him and who for this self-same reason held him in affection; but as oft times happens when men who are not of the country are exalted to power, or are so greatly honoured that they take the lead of the men of the land, many there were who envied him the love he had of the King, & even so much the more that of the Queen.
Spake many men of that matter to the King, charging him to beware lest he should make Olaf over great: 'For a man of the kind might be harmful to thee, would he lend himself to such a deed as to make thee and thy realms suffer, so crafty & beloved of men is he; nor wot we what he & the Queen have thus oft whereon to commune one with the other.'
Now it was in those days generally the custom among great kings for the queen to possess half the court and to maintain it at her own charge, and for this purpose levied she her taxes and dues, in amount as much as she stood in need therefor. In this wise was it also with King Valdamar.
The Queen held no less splendid a court than pertained to the King, and vied they one with the other as to which might procure men of prowess, each having it at heart to possess such men for themselves. Now it happened that the King gave heed unto words of this fashion, which men spake unto him, & he waxed silent and with countenance aloof from Olaf. And Olaf marking it well spake thereof to the Queen, and opened to her likewise how that it was the desire of his heart to journey even unto the north. His kin, said he, had held dominion there in days of yore, & therefore he thought it likeliest that he would there obtain the more advancement.
So the Queen bade him farewell, saying that wheresoever he might chance to tarry there would all deem him a man of prowess.
Olaf thereafter made him ready for his journey, went aboard his ship, and stood out into the Eystrasalt (the Baltic). Thence sailing west came he to Borgundarholm (Bornholm) and made thereon a landing and harried all in the isle. The men of the land came together and did battle with him, but Olaf gat the victory and much booty.
Now while Olaf lay-to off Borgundarholm, there was rough weather with a gale raging at sea, that their ships began to drag their anchors, for which reason did they set sail south to the coast of Vindland (Wendland)Sec. on which shore were good havens, whereon ships might ride at peace.
There did they tarry for long whiles.
The King of Vindland was named Burizlaf,Sec. & the three daughters to him were Geira, Gunnhild, and Astrid.
Now at the place where there came ashore Olaf and his men did Geira hold rule & dominion, and under her he that exercised most authority was one hight Dixin. When it became known that strange men had come to the country who behaved themselves in seemly fashion & abode there in peace, Dixin hied to them with a message from Queen Geira bidding them sojourn in her land during the winter, seeing the summer was near spent, the weather threatening ill, & the storms waxing great. And being come thither Dixin saw on the instant that the captain of these men was one notable both for descent and appearance.
Therefore recounted he to them that the Queen invited them to her with messages of friendship, & Olaf nothing loath did her bidding and went to Queen Geira as her guest. It came to pass that they twain thought both so well one of another that Olaf made ado to woo Queen Geira, and so it befell that winter that Olaf took Geira to wife, & gat he the rule of the realm with her. Thereof spake Halfrod the Troublous-skald in the lay he made about Olaf the King:
'The chieftain at Holm let the sharp-edged swords be dyed blood-red Eastward too in Garda, nor can this be in any manner concealed.'
Now Hakon, he that ruled over Norway, paid no tribute, the reason whereof being that the King of Denmark had made assignment to him of all the taxes to which the King had a right in Norway, by reason of the trouble & costs the Earl was put to in defending the land against the sons of Gunnhild.
Now it befell in those days that the Emperor OttaSec. was in Saxland (North Germany), & word sent he to Harald, King of Denmark, that he and the people that were his must be baptized & accept the true Faith, or else, swore the Emperor that he would march upon him with an host. So the King of Denmark admonished those that defended the land that they should be ready at his call, DanavirkiSec. caused he to be well maintained, and his war ships were manned; thereafter sent the King to Earl Hakon commanding him that he must come to him early in the spring-tide with even as many men as he might muster. So at the first song of the birds Earl Hakon levied an host from all parts of his dominions, and many men were enrolled to him; this host bade he take ship to Denmark and with them sailed he himself to meet the King of Denmark, and by him was received in right seemly fashion. With the King were there at that hour many another lord proffering help, so that all told gathered he together an host waxing exceeding large.
Now, as hath already been set forth, Olaf sojourned that winter in Vindland, & in the months thereof went he to those districts thereof which had formerly obeyed the rule of Queen Geira, but had now ventured to throw off allegiance & the payment of taxes. These did Olaf harry, slaying many men, burning the homes of some, and taking much booty; then having rendered these realms subject unto himself turned he him back again to his stronghold. So soon as the spring-tide was come, did Olaf make ready his ships and put out to sea, sailing across to Skani (Scania) where he went ashore.
The people of those parts assembled and fought against him; but Olaf was victorious and gat much plunder. Thence sailed he eastward to the island of Gotland, and took a merchant craft owned by men from Jamtaland who rendered a stout defence, but in such wise did the struggle end that Olaf cleared the ship, slew many men, & took possession of all the goods that were on board.
A third battle fought he in Gotland; there likewise the day was to his strength and much spoil was to his hand. Thus saith Halfrod the Troublous-skald:
'The foeman of the shrines slew merchants of Jamtaland And men of Vindland in battle As in days of youth had been his wont. To those that lived in Scotland Was the lord of "hersirs" the bane. Is it not told that the giver of gold Loved to fight in Skani?'
Therefore gathered the Emperor Otta a mighty host; men he had from Saxland (north Germany), Frankland (France), and Frisland, whiles out of Vindland, likewise King BurizlafSec. contributed a large host. With the array went the King himself and his son-in-law Olaf Tryggvason.
To the Emperor was a great body of horsemen, and so much the more a greater body of foot-folk.
From Holtsetaland (Holstein) likewise came to him a large host. As it is said in the Vellekla:
'So it befell likewise that the steeds of the sea Southward ran 'neath the deft riders to Denmark, And the Lord of the Hordmen, becoifed with the helmet, Chief of the Dofrar folk, sought the lords of the Dane-realm. And the bountiful King of the dark forest lands Would in winter-tide test the warrior come from the north, What time that doughty fighter gat from his chief a message Bidding him defend the wall against the foes of Denmark. Little gladsome was it to go against their hosts; Albeit the shield-bearer did cause great destruction, And the sea-hero incited to battle When the warriors came from Frisland with Franks and Vandals.'
Now Earl Hakon set companies above all the gates of the fortification, but the greater part of his host sent he along the walls to defend the places where the onslaught was hottest, and many fell of the Emperor's host, but nothing did they win of the wall.
So then the Emperor turned him away, and no longer made trial there. Thus it is said in the Vellekla:
'Spear-points were broken when in that war game Shield clashed against shield and the foe gave not way; The steerer of the sea-steeds turned Saxons fleeing thence, And the chief 'fended the rampart 'gainst the foe.'
After this battle went back Earl Hakon even unto his ships and would have homeward sailed unto Norway, but that he could get no wind, so accordingly he lay out in Limfjord.
Now turned the Emperor Otta his host so that they faced around & hied them to the gulf of Sle (Sleswick), whereat gathered he together a large host and took his men across to Jutland.
When the intelligence thereof came to the ears of the King of Denmark fared he forth against the Emperor with his host, and a great battle was fought betwixt them.
The issue was to the Emperor, and thereon the King of Denmark fled away to Limfjord & took ship out to Marsey.
Then did emissaries journey betwixt him and the Emperor, and a truce was covenanted, also that they twain should commune face to face. In Marsey, then, did the Emperor Otta and the Danish King confront one the other, & there a saintly bishop,Sec. Poppo by name, preached the faith before Harald, and to show the truth thereof bare he glowing iron in his hand, and Harald testified that the hand of the holy man was unscarred by the heated iron. Thereafter was Harald himself baptized with the whole of the Danish host that were with him.
Ere this had Harald the King, albeit that he abode the nonce in Marsey, summoned Earl Hakon to his aid, and the Earl had just come to the island when the King let himself be christened. So the King sent a message to the Earl to come to him, and when the Earl was come thither compelled him also that he should be baptized. After this manner was the Earl made a Christian, and all his men with him.
Thereafter did the King appoint him priests and other learned men,Sec. and commanded him to cause all the people of Norway to be baptized into the faith and with this they parted. Thereafter Earl Hakon put out to sea to await a favourable wind, and when a breeze sprang up, lo! without more ado set he all the learned men to wade even unto the shore and upon that wind himself stood out to sea. The wind was from the west, and the Earl sailed eastward through Eyrasund (Oeresund) pillaging whatsoever lands he sighted, & thereafter came east unto the Skani side, plundering and harrying wherever he put ashore. Now as he was sailing his course off the skerries of east Gautland put he ashore and offered up a great sacrifice, and whiles this was solemnized came two ravens flying up, loudly croaking, & for this reason deemed the Earl that Odin had accepted his sacrifice, and that good fortune would favour him in his battles. Even so burned he all his ships and came ashore with every man of all his host, and carried war throughout the land. Against him was arrayed Earl Ottar, he that held rule over Gautland, and they fought a great battle wherein was Earl Hakon victorious, & he slew Earl Ottar together with a great number of his host.
Earl Hakon then marched hither & thither carrying war through both the Gautlands, until he was come unto Norway, & then took he the road right to the north, to Throndhjem. It is of this that the Vellekla speaketh:
'The foeman of those who fled consulted the gods on the plain, and Gat answer Fret[Sec.] from that the day was propitious to battle; There the war-leader saw how mighty were the corse-ribs; The gods of the temple would thin lives in Gautland. A Sword-Thing held the Earl there where no man afore him With shield on arm had durst to harry; No one ere this so far inland had borne That shield of gold; all Gautland had he o'errun. With heaps of the fallen the warriors piled the plain The kith of the AEsirs conquered, Odin took the slain; Can there be doubt that the gods govern the fall of kings? Ye strong powers, I pray, make great the sway of Hakon.'
After that he had parted in all goodly friendship from the Danish King, fared Emperor Otta back to his realm of Saxland; men say that he held Svein the son of Harald at the font, & that the child bore the name of Otta Svein. Harald, the Danish King, held by the Christian faith even to the day of his death. King Burizlaf, after these things, betook himself back to Wendland, & together with him in his company went his son-in-law King Olaf Tryggvason. Of the battle aforesaid telleth Hallfrod the Troublous-skald in Olaf's lay:
'The ruler of war ships hewed and smote asunder warriors Even in Denmark to the south of Hedeby.'
It was the space of three winters that Olaf Tryggvason abode in Wendland, even until Geira his wife fell ill of a sickness, whereof she died, and so great a sorrow was this to Olaf that he no longer had pleasure in living in Wendland.
Therefore getting him ships of war once more went he forth plundering and harrying, first in Saxland, then in Frisland, and he even fared as far as Flanders. Thus saith Hallfrod the Troublous-skald:
'Oft did the son of Tryggvi smite to the death the Saxon And left maimed corses food for the wolves, And for their drink did that lord, beloved of his host, Give the brown blood of many a Frisian. Mighty sea-kings hewed In Flanders corses asunder, The prince to the ravens gave The flesh of Walloons as supper.'
Thereafter did Olaf Tryggvason sail for England, and ravaged apace & afar in that country; right north did he sail to Nordimbraland (Northumberland) and there harried; thence fared he farther to the northward even to Scotland where he plundered and pillaged far and wide.
From thence sailed he again to the Hebrides, the where he fought more than once, and afterwards sailed a course south to Man & fought there. Far and wide did he plunder in Ireland and then sailed he to Bretland (Wales) and pillaged there, & in Kumraland (Cumberland) did he likewise. Then he sailed to Frankland (France) where he harried the people, & from thence came back again, being minded to return to England, but came to those Islands which are called Scilly in the western part of the English main. Thus saith Hallfrod the Troublous-skald:
'The unsparing young King plundered the Englishmen, The feeder of spear-showers made murder in Northumbria, The war-loving feeder of wolves laid waste to Scotia, The giver of gold fared with up-lifted sword in Man. The bearer of the elm-bow brought death to the hosts Of the Isle of Erin, for fame yearned the lord; Four winters did the King smite the dwellers in Wales, And Northumbrians hewed he ere the greed of the chough was appeased.'
Four winters did Olaf Tryggvason fare on viking cruises from the time of his leaving Wendland even until his coming to the Isles of Scilly.
Now when Olaf Tryggvason was lying off the Isles of Scilly he heard tell that there was a soothsayer thereon, and that he foretold the future and spake of things not yet come to pass, and many folk believed that things ofttimes happened according as this man had spoken. Now Olaf being minded to make assay of his cunning sent to him the finest and fairest of his men, in apparel as brave as might be, bidding him say that he was the King, for Olaf had become famous in all lands in that he was comelier and bolder and stronger than all other men. Since he had left Garda, howsoever, he had used no more of his name than to call himself Oli, and had told people that he was of the realm of Garda. Now when the messenger came to the soothsayer and said he was the King, gat he for answer: 'King art thou not, but my counsel to thee is that thou be loyal to thy King,' & never a word more deigned the seer to utter. Then went the messenger back and told Olaf this thing, and the King had no longer any doubt that this man was verily a soothsayer, and his wish to meet with him, now that he had heard such an answer, waxed greater than heretofore. So Olaf went to him & communed with him, & asked him to prophesy about his future, whether or not he would win himself a kingdom or other good fortune. Then answered the prophet with saintly prophecy: 'Thou wilt be a glorious King, & do glorious deeds, to faith & christening wilt thou bring many men, and thou wilt help thereby both thyself & many others. But to the end that thou shalt not doubt about this mine answer take this for a token: Hard by thy ships shalt thou meet with guile & with foemen, & thou shalt do battle; and of thy men some shall fall and thou thyself shalt be wounded. From that wound wilt thou be nigh unto death and be borne on a shield to thy ship; yet of thy hurt shalt thou be whole within a sennight and shall shortly thereafter accept Christianity.' Then Olaf went down to the ships, & verily did meet with the warlike men who would slay him & his followers, & their combat ended even as the hermit had foretold, to wit, in such manner that Olaf was indeed borne out to his ship on a shield & likewise was whole again after a sennight. Then Olaf felt assured in his mind that it was the truth that this seer had told him, and that of a truth was he a wise soothsayer, whencesoever might he have his gift of prophecy. So Olaf a second time went unto him and held much talk with him, and questioned him closely as to whence he gat the wisdom to foretell what was to come. And the hermit saith that the God of the men that were baptized Himself causeth him to know all that He wisheth. Then recounted he to Olaf the mighty works of God, & after these persuasions Olaf assented unto Christianity, & it befell that he was there baptized, & all the men that were with him. In that place abode he a long time and learned the true Faith, and in his train bore away with him priests & other learned men.
From the Isles of Scilly Olaf hied in the autumn to England, and there lay he in a certain haven & lived in peace, for England was a Christian land & now was he likewise a Christian man.
Now there went throughout the land a summons to a certain Thing, that all men should come to the Thing, & when there was assemblage thither came to it a queen whose name was Gyda.[Sec.]
She was the sister of Olav Kvaran who was King of Dublin, which is in Ireland, and she had been married to a powerful earl in England who was now dead, but after him she yet ruled his dominion.
Now there was a man in her dominions whose name was Alwin, a mighty champion & 'holmgangsman.'Sec.
Alwin had wooed Gyda, but she had made answer that she herself would make choice whom she would have among the men of her dominion, and forasmuch as she would choose herself a husband was this Thing convened. Thereto likewise came Alwin decked out in his best raiment, and many others were there apparelled also in their best. Now Olaf too was come thither, & he was clad in his bad-weather raiment, wearing a cloak exceeding rough; and he stood with his followers somewhat aloof from the others. Gyda walked hither & thither among the men, gazing at each one favoured in her eyes; but when she was come to where Olaf held his ground looked she searchingly up into his face and asked of what manner of man was he. Then did he make answer that he was Oli, and said: 'I am not of the country born nor bred.' Saith Gyda: 'Wilt thou have me? Even upon that then will I choose thee.' 'I will not say nay to it,' quoth he, and asked her name and lineage. 'I am,' said she, 'a King's daughter of Ireland, but I was wedded into this country, to an earl who held dominion here. Since the time that he died have I ruled the land; divers men have wooed me, but none that I would wed, & my name is Gyda.'
Youthful was she and fair, and Olaf and she communed over this matter even until they became of one accord, and thereafter was Olaf betrothed to Gyda. This was but sour in the mouth of Alwin, but there was a custom in England that when two contended about a matter they should meet in single combat, and Alwin therefore bade Olaf Tryggvason fight with him on this matter.
The time and place were appointed, & on either side were there chosen twelve men. Then when they were met said Olaf unto his men that they were to do even as he did, and a great axe had he in his hand. Now as Alwin was minded to drive his sword into him Olaf struck it out of his hand, & at the second stroke Alwin himself so that he fell to the ground. Then did Olaf bind him fast, & in this manner also was treatment meted out to the men that were with Alwin, to wit, to be beaten and bound, and thereafter were taken home to Olaf's lodging. Then did he bid Alwin depart from out the land & nevermore therein set foot again, and thereafter Olaf took possession of all his lands.
So it came to pass that Olaf wedded Gyda & abode for the most part in England, but sometimes in Ireland. Once when Olaf was out on a foray, it fell that it was needful that they should foray ashore for provisions, and accordingly went his men to land and drove down a number of cattle to the shore. Then came a peasant after them & prayed Olaf give him back his cows, & Olaf bade him take his cows could he find them; 'but let him not delay our journey.' The peasant had with him a big cattle-dog. This dog sent he into the herd of neat whereof were being driven many hundreds, and the animal hither and thither ran among the drove, singling out as many cows as the peasant said he owned, and all of them were marked in the same manner.
Now knowing that the dog had chosen rightly it seemed to them that this was passing clever, and so Olaf asked of the peasant whether he would give him the dog. 'Willingly,' answered he, and Olaf in exchange therefor gave him a gold ring, and the promise of his friendship.
That dog was named Vigi, and it was the best of all dogs; Olaf had pleasure in him for a long time thereafter.
Now it came to the ears of the King of Denmark, even to him hight Harald Gormson, that Earl Hakon had cast aside Christianity & had pillaged in the country pertaining to the King of Denmark who thereon gathered together an host, & thereafter fared to Norway.
And when he was come to the realm over which Earl Hakon had rule harried he there, laying bare all the land. Then led he his host to the islets which are called Solunder. Five homesteads alone stood unburned in Lardal, in Sogn, and all the folk of the valley were fled to the mountains and forests, taking with them such of their chattels as they might carry. Thereafter the Danish King was minded to take his hosts to Iceland to avenge the mockery of the Icelanders, for it happened that they had made malicious verses about him.
Now a law had been made in Iceland to the end that for every soul in the country one lampoon should be made on the Danish King, and the reason therefor was to this wise, to wit, that a ship pertaining to men of Iceland had stranded on the coast of Denmark & the Danes had taken all the cargo thereon, calling it flotsam.
The man who had had the chief concern in this matter was one Birger, the King's steward. Jests were made both on him and on the King, and this is one of them:
'When the fight-wonted Harald rode the sea-steed from the south In the shape of Faxe, The slayer of Vandals as wax became altogether as impotent. Birger by guardian sprites outcast in mare's shape met him As all men did behold.'
Now King Harald bade a warlock betake him to Iceland in one or other guise, that he might bring him back tidings of the country.
And the warlock set forth in the shape of a whale, and when he was come thither to Iceland he went along the north side of the coast, and he saw that all the mountains and hills were full of guardian spirits, some large & others small. When he was arrived at Vapnafjord there went he up and was like to have gone ashore when, lo! a great dragon came down from the valley, & in its company many serpents, toads, and vipers, and these beasts belched venom at him. So swam he away westward all alongside the land even the whole way until he was come to the mouth of the Eyjafjord, & after he had turned up this fjord towards him there came a bird so large that its wings reached the hills on either side, and with it were a number of other birds, both large and tiny.
So away fared he thence, & westward along by the land to Breidafjord, and there went he up the fjord, but a great bull came towards him bellowing after a fashion that was most horrible, & in its company were a swarm of kindred spirits.
Then went he away from there and swam past Reykjanes and was about to go up on Vikarseid, but a hill giant came towards him with a staff in his hand, and this giant carried his head higher than the hills, and with him were many other giants.
Then swam he eastward all the way along the coast: 'There is nothing,' quoth he, 'save sand and wilderness and great breakers outside; and so broad is the sea betwixt the lands,' said he, 'that it is all unmeet for long-ships.'
Now in those days Brod-Helgi dwelt in Vapnafjord, Eyolf Valgerdson in Eyjafjord, Thord Gelli in Breidafjord and Thorod the Priest in Olfus.
Then put the King of Denmark his fleet about, standing south along the coast, and thereafter sailed back to Denmark. Hakon the Earl caused all the habitations that had been devastated to be builded up again, & nevermore thereafter paid he any tribute to the King of Denmark.
Now it came to pass that Svein he who was afterwards called Two-beard demanded a kingdom of his father King Harald, & as before so again it befell that King Harald would not part Denmark in twain, nor let any other man, no matter of what blood he was, have dominion therein.
So Svein assembled a fleet of war & gave out that he was about to go on a viking cruise, and when the whole of his fleet was come together, & Palnatoki of the Jomsborg vikings was also come to his aid, Svein made for Zealand, and went into Isafjord. There King Harald his father was lying, likewise, with his ships, for he was preparing to sail to war, & Svein fell upon him, & a great battle ensued; but many men flocked to King Harald and Svein had to give way before great odds and flee. There nevertheless did Harald receive such hurt that he died, and thereafter Svein was hailed as King of Denmark. In those days Jomsborg in Wendland was ruled by Earl Sigvaldi; he was the son of Strut-Harald who had ruled Skani, and Sigvaldi's brothers were Heming and Thorkel the Tall. At that time Bui the Burly of Borgundarholm & his brother Sigurd were likewise chiefs among the Jomsborg vikings, and with them, too, was Vagn, who was the son of Aki and Thorgunna and the sister's son of Bui and Sigurd.
Now Sigvaldi the Earl had made King Svein prisoner and had taken him to Jomsborg in Wendland, and had constrained him to make peace with the Wendish King Burizlaf.
It was to Earl Sigvaldi to settle the conditions of agreement between them— Sigvaldi had then to wife Astrid the daughter of King Burizlaf— and if peace were not made, said the Earl, he would deliver King Svein into the hands of the Wends.
Then the King knowing full well that they would torture him even to the death was content that the Earl should be peacemaker, & the Earl adjudged matters in such fashion that King Svein was to have the daughter of King Burizlaf to wife, and King Burizlaf the sister of King Svein, Tyra, that was daughter to Harald.
Moreover it was covenanted that the two Kings were to have each his own dominion, and there was to be lasting peace between the countries.
Then did King Svein journey home to Denmark with his wife Gunnhild; their sons were Harald and Knut the Great (Canute).
And in those days made the Danes great boast that they would sail with a host to Norway even against Earl Hakon.
Now because King Svein was going to take his succession after his father Harald, made he a great funeral feast, to which were bidden all the chiefs of his kingdom.
Not long before this Strut-Harald of Skani had died, and also Veseti of Borgundarholm, who was the father of Bui & Sigurd. The King therefore sent word to the Jomsborg vikings bidding Earl Sigvaldi and Bui, and their brothers, to come thither and seal their inheritance by drinking grave-ale in memory of their fathers at the feast which the King himself was about to give. And to this feast accordingly went the Jomsborg vikings with all the stoutest of their folk; forty ships had they from Wendland & twenty from Skani, & a great number of people were assembled together. On the first day of the feast, before King Svein stepped into his father's high seat, he drank the cup of memory to him, vowing therewith that before three months were over he would go to England with his hosts & slay King Ethelred, or drive him from the country. Now all those who were at the feast were obliged to drink that cup of memory, and for the chiefs of the Jomsborg vikings the largest horns were filled, and withal with the strongest ale. When this cup of memory had been drunk to the dregs then were all men to drink to the memory of Christ; and ever to the Jomsborg vikings were brought the fullest horns & the strongest drink. The third cup was to St. Michael, and this was drunk by all; and thereafter Sigvaldi drank to his father's memory, & made a vow that before three winters were passed he would go to Norway and slay Eirik, or drive him from the land. Then did his brother Thorkel the Tall swear that he would fare with Sigvaldi, and never shun battle as long as Sigvaldi was fighting there; and Bui the Burly said that he too would go with them to Norway, and not flee before Earl Hakon in battle. Then did Vagn Eirikson swear that he also would accompany him, & not return before he had slain Thorkel Leira and lain abed with his daughter Ingibiorg.
Many other lords made vows anent sundry matters, & all men drank the heirship ale. When the morrow was come and the Jomsborg vikings had slept as long as they were minded, they deemed that they had spoken big words enough & met together to take counsel as to how and when they should proceed with their cruise, and then they covenanted to array their ships and men as speedily as might be. Now this matter was rumoured of far and wide in the lands.
Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, was at that season in Raumariki, & hearing of these tidings straightway mustered the folk and set forth to the Uplands, and then made his way northwards across the mountains to Throndhjem, to his father Earl Hakon. Of this speaketh Thord Kolbeinson in Eirik's lay:
'In good sooth from the south came fearsome tales of war, Peasants even fear to fight; And the captain of the ship learned that the long-ships of the Danes Along their rollers were run out seawards.'
Earl Hakon and Earl Eirik caused war-arrows to be sent throughout the whole of the district around Throndhjem, and sent messengers to South-More, North-More, and Raumsdal; likewise sent they northward to Naumdal and Halogaland, and when this was accomplished had they called out their full muster of men and ships. Thus saith Eirik's lay:
'Many a long-ship and bark and great keel (How the skald's praise grows apace) The shield-bearer caused to be run into the sea (Off-shore was the muster goodly) So that the warrior could defend the lands of his fathers.'
Earl Hakon went forthwith south to More, to reconnoitre and collect men, while Earl Eirik assembled his host & took it southwards.
The Jomsborg vikings brought their hosts to Limfjord and thence sailed out to sea; sixty ships had they, and they took them across to Agdir whence without tarrying shaped they a course northward to the dominion of Earl Hakon. They sailed off the coast, plundering & burning wheresoever they went. Now there was a certain man named Geirmund who was sailing in a light boat & had but few men with him, & he came to More where he found Earl Hakon, & going in before the Earl as he sate at meat told him that there was an host to the southward which was come from Denmark. The Earl asked if he knew this in good sooth, and Geirmund, holding up one of his arms from which the hand had been severed, said that that was the token that a host was in the land.
Then did the Earl question him closely concerning this host, & Geirmund said that it was the Jomsborg vikings, & that they had slain many men and plundered far & wide: 'Nevertheless they are travelling speedily and hard.
Methinks it will not be long before they are here.'
So then the Earl rowed up all the fjords, inwards along one shore and outwards along the other faring night and day, and he sent scouts on to the upper way across the isthmus,Sec. & south in the Fjords, & likewise north where Eirik was now with his host.
It is of this that Eirik's lay telleth:
'War-wise was the Earl who had long-ships on the main Heading with lofty prows against Sigvaldi, Mayhap many an oar shook, But the seamen who rent the sea with strong oar-blades Feared not death.'
Earl Hakon took his host southwards as speedily as ever he was able.
Sailing northwards with his fleet Earl Sigvaldi rounded Stad, and first put in over against Hereya. Here, although the vikings fell in with the folk of the country, never could they get from them the truth as to the whereabouts of the Earl. Whithersoever they went the vikings pillaged, & in the island of Hod they ran up ashore & plundered the people, taking back with them to their ships both folk and cattle, though all men capable of bearing arms they slew.
Now as they were going down again to their ships an old man approached them— for he was walking nigh to the men of Bui— and unto them said he, 'Not as warriors go ye here, driving neat and calves down to the shore; better prey would it be for ye to take the bear since ye have come so nigh his lair.'
'What saith the carle?' they cry, 'Can ye tell us aught of Earl Hakon?' The peasant made answer: 'Yesterday he sailed to Hiorundarfjord having with him one or two ships, or three at most, & at that time he had not heard aught of ye.' Forthwith ran Bui & his men to their ships, leaving all their booty behind, & Bui called out saying: 'Let us make the most of having got this news, so that we may be the ones nighest to the victory.'
And when they had mounted up into their ships straightway rowed they out north of the isle of Hod, and then rounding that island into the fjord.
Earl Hakon and his son Earl Eirik were lying in Hallsvik, with their hosts and one hundred and fifty ships.
Now they had heard by this time that the Jomsborg vikings were lying-to off Hod, and the Earls accordingly rowed northward to seek them, and when they were come to the place which is called Hiorungavag met they one with another.
Both sides then set themselves in array for battle. In the midst of his host was the banner of Earl Sigvaldi and over against this Earl Hakon took up his position; Earl Sigvaldi had twenty ships, and Earl Hakon sixty.
In Earl Hakon's following were the chiefs Thorir Hart of Halogaland, and Styrkar of Gimsar. As for the battle array, one wing consisted of the twenty ships belonging to Bui the Burly and his brother Sigurd. Against these Earl Eirik Hakonson placed sixty ships, with him being the chiefs Gudbrand the White from the Uplands & Thorkel Leira from Vik.
In the other wing of the array was Vagn Akason with twenty ships, and against him with sixty ships was Svein Hakonson with Skeggi of Uphaug in Yriar, and Rognvald from Ervik in Stad. In Eirik's lay it is told of thus:
'And the sea-ships to battle sped towards the Danish ships, The sea-host sailed the coast along: From before the vikings cleared the Earl away many at More The ships drifted amid war-slain heaps.'
And thus saith Eyvind in the Halogaland tale:
'Hardly was it a tryst of joy in that day's dawning For the foemen of Yngvi Frey, When the land-rulers guided the long-ships across the waste, And the sword-elf from the south-land Thrust the sea-steeds against their hosts.'
Then the fleets were brought together and there ensued the grimmest of battles, and many were slain on both sides, albeit the host of Hakon was it which fared the worst, for the Jomsborg vikings fought stoutly both with boldness & dexterity, shooting clean through the shields. So great in number were the missiles which struck Earl Hakon that his shirt of mail became all rent and useless so that he threw it from him.
Of this speaketh Tind Halkelson:
'The kirtle which gold bedecked women wrought for the Earl (The sparks from the sword wax brighter) Could no longer be borne; Then the mailed hero from off him cast the King's shirt (Ready were the steeds of the sea). Asunder, on the sand, blown from the Earl by the wind Was the ring-weaved shirt of Sorli (Thereof bore he the marks).'
Now the ships of the Jomsborg vikings were both larger, and higher in the gunwale, than were those of Earl Hakon, but nevertheless were they boldly beset from both sides. Vagn Akason pressed the ships of Svein Hakonson so hard that Svein let his men backwater & came nigh to fleeing, whereupon Earl Eirik came up into his place & thrust himself into the battle against Vagn, and Vagn backed his ship, and the craft lay again as they had lain at first.
Then Eirik returned to his own battle, where his men were now going astern, and Bui having cut himself free from his lashings was about to follow the fugitives.
Eirik then laid his ship alongside the ship of Bui, & a sharp hand to hand struggle took place, and two or three of the ships of Eirik set on the one ship whereon was Bui.
Then a storm came on, and there fell hailstones so heavy that one stone alone weighed an ounce. Then did Sigvaldi cut his ship adrift & went about, with the intention of fleeing; Vagn Akason cried out to him bidding him stay, but never a moment would Sigvaldi heed give to what he said, so Vagn sent a javelin after him, and smote the man who held the tiller. Earl Sigvaldi rowed out of the battle with thirty-five ships and left twenty-five behind him.
Then did Earl Hakon bring his ship round to the other side of that of Bui, and short respite then had the men of Bui between the blows. Now there was an anvil with a sharp end standing on the forecastle of the ship that pertained to Bui, and the reason thereof was that some man had made use thereof when welding the hilt of his sword, and Vigfus the son of Vigaglums, who was a man of great strength, took up the anvil & throwing it with both hands, drave it into the head of Aslak Holmskalli, so that the snout thereof entered his brain. No weapon hitherto had scathed Aslak, though he had been laying about him on either side.
He was the foster-son of Bui, and his forecastle man. Yet another of the men to Bui was Havard the Hewer; even stronger was he, and a man of great valour. During this struggle the men of Eirik went up aboard Bui's ship, & made aft to the poop, towards Bui, and Thorstein Midlang struck him full across the nose, cleaving asunder the nose-piece of his helmet, and leaving a great wound.
Bui then smote Thorstein in the side in such a manner that he cut the man right athwart his middle, and then seizing two chests of gold he shouted: 'Overboard all the men of Bui,' and plunged into the sea with the chests, and many of his men likewise sprang overboard, though others fell on the ship, for little avail was it to ask for quarter. The ship was now cleared from stem to stern, and the other craft were likewise cleared one after the other.
After this Earl Eirik brought his ships alongside that of Vagn, and from the latter met with right stout resistance; in the end however the ship was cleared, and Vagn and thirty men taken prisoners. Bound were they & taken on land, and Thorkel Leira went up to them and spoke thus: 'Vagn, thou didst vow to slay me, but me seemeth it is I who am more like to slay thee.'
Now it happened that Vagn and his men were all sitting on the felled trunks of a mighty tree, and Thorkel had a big axe, & with it he struck at the man who was sitting farthest off on the trunk.
Vagn and his men were so bound that a rope was passed round their feet, but their hands were free. Then said one of them, 'I have in my hand a cloak-clasp, and into the earth will I thrust it if I wot anything after my head is off'— and his head was struck off, and down fell the clasp from his hand.
Hard by sat a fair man with goodly hair and he swept his hair forward over his face, saying as he stretched forth his neck: 'Make not my hair bloody.' A certain man took the hair in his hand and held it fast, and Thorkel swang the axe so as to strike, but the viking drew back his head suddenly & he who was holding his hair moved forward with him, and lo, the axe came down on both his hands and took them off, thereafter cleaving the earth. Then Earl Eirik came up and asked: 'Who is that fine man?' 'Sigurd the lads call me,' said he, 'and I am thought to be a son to Bui: not yet are all the vikings of Jomsborg dead.' 'Thou must of a surety be a true son to Bui; wilt thou have quarter?' 'That dependeth upon who is the bidder thereof,' said Sigurd. 'He offereth it who hath power to give it, to wit Earl Eirik.' 'Then will I take it,' and loosed was he from the rope. Then said Thorkel Leira: 'Though thou grantest quarter, Earl, to all these men, yet never shall Vagn Akason depart hence alive,' & so saying he ran forward with uplifted axe. Just then the viking Skadi tripped in the rope, and dropped before Thorkel's feet, and Thorkel fell flat over him, and Vagn seizing the axe dealt Thorkel his death-blow. Then said the Earl: 'Wilt thou have quarter?' 'Yea will I,' said he, 'if we all are given quarter.' 'Loose them from the rope,' said the Earl, and so it was done accordingly.
Eighteen of these men were slain, but to twelve was quarter granted.
Now Earl Hakon & many of his men with him were sitting on a log.
Suddenly there twanged a bowstring from Bui's ship, but the arrow struck Gizur of Valders, a feudatory who was sitting by the Earl & was clad in brave apparel, & forthwith went sundry of Hakon's men out to the ship and found on it Havard the Hewer kneeling by the bulwarks, for his feet had been smitten off him. A bow had he in his hand and when they were come out to the ship, as aforesaid, Havard asked: 'Who fell off the tree-trunk?' 'One named Gizur,' they say. 'Then was my luck lesser than I wished.' 'Ill-luck enough,' say they, 'and more hurt shalt thou not do,' & therewith they slew him. After these things the dead were searched, and the booty brought together for division; five and twenty ships belonging to the Jomsborg vikings were thus cleared of booty. Tind saith as follows:
'He, feeder of ravens, (Their swords did smite their thighs) Against the friends of the Wends long did struggle, Until he who shields destroyed had Five and twenty ships laid waste.'
Thereafter were the hosts dispersed.
Earl Hakon betook him to Throndhjem, taking it full ill that Eirik had given Vagn Akason quarter.
Men say that during this battle Earl Hakon made sacrifice of his son Erling in order to gain the victory, and afterwards the hailstorm came, and that then the slaughtering changed over out of the hands of the Jomsborgers. After the battle Earl Eirik went to the Uplands, and from there east to his dominions, and with him went Vagn Akason. Thereafter Eirik gave the daughter of Thorkel Leira— Ingibiorg was her name— in marriage to Vagn, & a goodly long-ship to boot, well furnished in all things appertaining thereto, & a crew did he get him for the ship, and they parted in all friendship. Vagn thence fared southward home to Denmark, and became thereafter a famous man.
Many men of might are descended from him.
Now it hath been heretofore related how Harald the Grenlander was King of Vestfold, and how Asta, the daughter of Gudbrand Kula had he taken to wife. One summer when he was out laying waste the countries to the eastward, came he to Sweden where Olaf the Swede was King in those days. Olaf was the son of Eirik the Victorious and of Sigrid the daughter of Skogla-Tosti.
Sigrid was now a widow and to her pertained many great manors in Sweden. When she heard that her foster-brother Harald the Grenlander had come ashore not far from where at that time she was abiding, sent she messengers to him, bidding him to a feast which she was making ready to give. Thereat was Harald glad, and fared to Astrid with a great following of men. And a goodly feast was it withal: the King and the Queen sat in the high-seat and in the evening drank both together, and among the men flowed the ale freely.