Part 10 out of 18
the ring and laid it on the table.
The king asked if that was the gift of King Canute.
Thorer replied that he could not deny it was.
The king ordered him to be seized and laid in irons. Kalf came
up and entreated for mercy, and offered money for him, which also
was seconded by many; but the king was so wroth that nobody could
get in a word. He said Thorer should suffer the doom he had
prepared for himself. Thereupon he ordered Thorer to be killed.
This deed was much detested in the Uplands, and not less in the
Throndhjem country, where many of Thorer's connections were.
Kalf took the death of this man much to heart, for he had been
his foster-son in childhood.
176. THE FALL OF GRJOTGARD.
Grjotgard Olverson, Thorer's brother, and the eldest of the
brothers, was a very wealthy man, and had a great troop of people
about him. He lived also at this time in Hedemark. When he
heard that Thorer had been killed, he made an attack upon the
places where the king's goods and men were; but, between whiles,
he kept himself in the forest and other secret places. When the
king heard of this disturbance, he had inquiry made about
Grjotgard's haunts, and found out that he had taken up night-
quarters not far from where the king was. King Olaf set out in
the night-time, came there about day-dawn, and placed a circle of
men round the house in which Grjotgard was sleeping. Grjotgard
and his men, roused by the stir of people and clash of arms, ran
to their weapons, and Grjotgard himself sprang to the front room.
He asked who commanded the troop; and it was answered him, "King
Olaf was come there." Grjotgard asked if the king would hear his
words. The king, who stood at the door, said that Grjotgard
might speak what he pleased, and he would hear his words.
Grjotgard said, "I do not beg for mercy;" and at the same moment
he rushed out, having his shield over his head, and his drawn
sword in his hand. It was not so much light that he could see
clearly. He struck his sword at the king; but Arnbjorn ran in,
and the thrust pierced him under his armour into his stomach, and
Arnbjorn got his deathwound. Grjotgard was killed immediately,
and most of his people with him. After this event the king
turned back to the south to Viken.
177. KING OLAF SENDS FOR HIS SHIPS AND GOODS.
Now when the king came to Tunsberg he sent men out to all the
districts, and ordered the people out upon a levy. He had but a
small provision of shipping, and there were only bondes' vessels
to be got. From the districts in the near neighbourhood many
people came to him, but few from any distance; and it was soon
found that the people had turned away from the king. King Olaf
sent people to Gautland for his ships, and other goods and wares
which had been left there in autumn; but the progress of these
men was very slow, for it was no better now than in autumn to
sail through the Sound, as King Canute had in spring fitted out
an army throughout the whole of the Danish dominions, and had no
fewer than 1200 vessels.
178. KING OLAF'S COUNSELS.
The news came to Norway that King Canute had assembled an immense
armament through all Denmark, with which he intended to conquer
Norway. When this became known the people were less willing to
join King Olaf, and he got but little aid from the bondes. The
king's men often spoke about this among themselves. Sigvat tells
of it thus: --
"Our men are few, our ships are small,
While England's king is strong in all;
But yet our king is not afraid --
O! never be such king betrayed!
'Tis evil counsel to deprive
Our king of countrymen to strive
To save their country, sword in hand:
Tis money that betrays our land."
The king held meetings with the men of the court, and sometimes
House-things with all his people, and consulted with them what
they should, in their opinion, undertake. "We must not conceal
from ourselves," said he, "that Canute will come here this
summer; and that he has, as ye all know, a large force, and we
have at present but few men to oppose to him; and, as matters now
stand, we cannot depend much on the fidelity of the country
people." The king's men replied to his speech in various ways;
but it is said that Sigvat the skald replied thus, advising
flight, as treachery, not cowardice, was the cause of it: --
"We may well fly, when even our foe
Offers us money if we go.
I may be blamed, accused of fear;
But treachery, not faith, rules here.
Men may retire who long have shown
Their faith and love, and now alone
Retire because they cannot save --
This is no treachery in the brave."
179. HAREK OF THJOTTA BURNS GRANKEL AND HIS MEN.
The same spring (A.D. 1028) it happened in Halogaland that Harek
of Thjotta remembered how Asmund Grankelson had plundered and
beaten his house-servants. A cutter with twenty rowing-benches,
which belonged to Harek, was afloat in front of the house, with
tent and deck, and he spread the report that he intended to go
south to Throndhjem. One evening Harek went on board with his
house-servants, about eighty men, who rowed the whole night; and
he came towards morning to Grankel's house, and surrounded it
with his men. They then made an attack on the house, and set
fire to it; and Grankel with his people were burnt, and some were
killed outside; and in all about thirty men lost their lives.
After this deed Harek returned home, and sat quietly in his farm.
Asmund was with King Olaf when he heard of it; therefore there
was nobody in Halogaland to sue Harek for mulct for this deed,
nor did he offer any satisfaction.
180. KING CANUTE'S EXPEDITION TO NORWAY.
Canute the Great collected his forces, and went to Limfjord.
When he was ready with his equipment he sailed from thence with
his whole fleet to Norway; made all possible speed, and did not
land to the eastward of the Fjords, but crossed Folden, and
landed in Agder, where he summoned a Thing. The bondes came down
from the upper country to hold a Thing with Canute, who was
everywhere in that country accepted as king. Then he placed men
over the districts, and took hostages from the bondes, and no man
opposed him. King Olaf was in Tunsberg when Canute's fleet
sailed across the mouth of the fjord. Canute sailed northwards
along the coast, and people came to him from all the districts,
and promised him fealty. He lay a while in Egersund, where
Erling Skjalgson came to him with many people, and King Canute
and Erling renewed their league of friendship. Among other
things, Canute promised Erling the whole country between Stad and
Rygiarbit to rule over. Then King Canute proceeded; and, to be
short in our tale, did not stop until he came to Throndhjem, and
landed at Nidaros. In Throndhjem he called together a Thing for
the eight districts, at which King Canute was chosen king of all
Norway. Thorer Hund, who had come with King Canute from Denmark,
was there, and also Harek of Thjotta; and both were made sheriffs
of the king, and took the oath of fealty to him. King Canute
gave them great fiefs, and also right to the Lapland trade, and
presented them besides with great gifts. He enriched all men who
were inclined to enter into friendly accord with him both with
fiefs and money, and gave them greater power than they had
181. OF KING CANUTE.
When King Canute had laid the whole of Norway trader his
authority, he called together a numerous Thing, both of his own
people and of the people of the country; and at it he made
proclamation, that he made his relation Earl Hakon the governor-
in-chief of all the land in Norway that he had conquered in this
expedition. In like manner he led his son Hardaknut to the high-
seat at his side, gave him the title of king, and therewith the
whole Danish dominion. King Canute took as hostages from all
lendermen and great bondes in Norway either their sons, brothers,
or other near connections, or the men who were dearest to them
and appeared to him most suitable; by which he, as before
observed, secured their fidelity to him. As soon as Earl Hakon
had attained this power in Norway his brother-in-law, Einar
Tambaskelfer, made an agreement with him, and received back all
the fiefs he formerly had possessed while the earls ruled the
country. King Canute gave Einar great gifts, and bound him by
great kindness to his interests; and promised that Einar should
be the greatest and most important man in Norway, among those who
did not hold the highest dignity, as long as he had power over
the country. He added to this, that Einar appeared to him the
most suitable man to hold the highest title of honour in Norway
if no earls remained, and his son Eindride also, on account of
his high birth. Einar placed a great value on these promises,
and, in return, promised the greatest fidelity. Einar's
chiefship began anew with this.
182. OF THORARIN LOFTUNGA.
There was a man by name Thorarin Loftunga, an Icelander by birth,
and a great skald, who had been much with the kings and other
great chiefs. He was now with King Canute the Great, and had
composed a flock, or short poem, in his praise. When the king
heard of this he was very angry, and ordered him to bring the
next day a drapa, or long poem, by the time he went to table; and
if he failed to do so, said the king, "he shall be hanged for his
impudence in composing such a small poem about King Canute."
Thorarin then composed a stave as a refrain, which he inserted in
the poem, and also augmented it with several other strophes or
verses. This was the refrain: --
"Canute protects his realm, as Jove,
Guardian of Greece, his realm above."
King Canute rewarded him for the poem with fifty marks of silver.
The poem was called the "Headransom" ("Hofudlausn"). Thorarin
composed another poem about King Canute, which was called the
"Campaign Poem" ("Togdrapa"); and therein he tells King Canute's
expedition when he sailed from Denmark to Norway; and the
following are strophes from one of the parts of this poem: --
"Canute with all his men is out,
Under the heavens in war-ships stout, --
'Out on the sea, from Limfjord's green,
My good, my brave friend's fleet is seen.
The men of Adger on the coast
Tremble to see this mighty host:
The guilty tremble as they spy
The victor's fleet beneath the sky.
"The sight surpasses far the tale,
As glacing in the sun they sail;
The king's ship glittering all with gold,
And splendour there not to be told.
Round Lister many a coal-black mast
Of Canute's fleet is gliding past.
And now through Eger sound they ride,
Upon the gently heaving tide.
"And all the sound is covered o'er
With ships and sails, from shore to shore,
A mighty king, a mighty host,
Hiding the sea on Eger coast.
And peaceful men in haste now hie
Up Hiornagla-hill the fleet to spy,
As round the ness where Stad now lies
Each high-stemmed ship in splendour flies.
"Nor seemed the voyage long, I trow,
To warrior on the high-built bow,
As o'er the ocean-mountains riding
The land and hill seem past him gliding.
With whistling breeze and flashing spray
Past Stein the gay ships dashed away;
In open sea, the southern gale
Filled every wide out-bellying sail.
"Still on they fly, still northward go,
Till he who conquers every foe,
The mighty Canute, came to land,
Far in the north on Throndhjem's strand.
There this great king of Jutland race,
Whose deeds and gifts surpass in grace
All other kings, bestowed the throne
Of Norway on his sister's son.
"To his own son he gave the crown
(This I must add to his renown)
Of Denmark -- land of shadowy vales,
In which the white swan trims her sails."
Here it is told that King Canute's expedition was grander than
saga can tell; but Thorarin sang thus because he would pride
himself upon being one of King Canute's retinue when he came to
153. OF THE MESSENGERS SENT BY KING OLAF FOR HIS SHIPS.
The men whom King Olaf had sent eastwards to Gautland after his
ships took with them the vessels they thought the best, and burnt
the rest. The ship-apparel and other goods belonging to the king
and his men they also took with them; and when they heard that
King Canute had gone to Norway they sailed west through the
Sound, and then north to Viken to King Olaf, to whom they
delivered his ships. He was then at Tunsberg. When King Olaf
learnt that King Canute was sailing north along the coast, King
Olaf steered with his fleet into Oslo fjord, and into a branch of
it called Drafn, where he lay quiet until King Canute's fleet had
sailed southwards again. On this expedition which King Canute
made from the North along the coast, he held a Thing in each
district, and in every Thing the country was bound by oath in
fealty to him, and hostages were given him. He went eastward
across the mouths of the fjords to Sarpsborg, and held a Thing
there, and, as elsewhere, the country was surrendered to him
under oath of fidelity. King Canute then returned south to
Denmark, after having conquered Norway without stroke of sword,
and he ruled now over three kingdoms. So says Halvard
Hareksblese when he sang of King Canute: --
"The warrior-king, whose blood-stain'd shield
Has shone on many a hard-fought field,
England and Denmark now has won,
And o'er three kingdoms rules alone.
Peace now he gives us fast and sure,
Since Norway too is made secure
By him who oft, in days of yore,
Glutted the hawk and wolf with gore."
154. OF KING OLAF IN HIS PROCEEDINGS.
King Olaf sailed with his ships out to Tunsberg, as soon as he
heard that King Canute had turned back, and was gone south to
Denmark. He then made himself ready with the men who liked to
follow him, and had then thirteen ships. Afterwards he sailed
out along Viken; but got little money, and few men, as those only
followed him who dwelt in islands, or on outlying points of land.
The king landed in such places, but got only the money and men
that fell in his way; and he soon perceived that the country had
abandoned him. He proceeded on according to the winds. This was
in the beginning of winter (A.D. 1029). The wind turned very
late in the season in their favour, so that they lay long in the
Seley islands, where they heard the news from the North, through
merchants, who told the king that Erling Skjalgson had collected
a great force in Jadar, and that his ship lay fully rigged
outside of the land, together with many other vessels belonging
the bondes; namely, skiffs, fisher-yachts, and great row-boats.
Then the king sailed with his fleet from the East, and lay a
while in Egersund. Both parties heard of each other now, and
Erling assembled all the men he could.
155. OF KING OLAF'S VOYAGE.
On Thomasmas, before Yule (Dec. 21), the king left the harbour as
soon as day appeared. With a good but rather strong gale he
sailed northwards past Jadar. The weather was rainy, with dark
flying clouds in the sky. The spies went immediately in through
the Jadar country when the king sailed past it; and as soon as
Erling heard that the king was sailing past from the East, he let
the war-horn call all the people on board, and the whole force
hastened to the ships, and prepared for battle. The king's ship
passed by Jadar at a great rate; but thereafter turned in towards
the land, intending to run up the fjords to gather men and money.
Erling Skjalgson perceived this, and sailed after him with a
great force and many ships. Swiftly their vessels flew, for they
had nothing on board but men and arms: but Erling's ship went
much faster than the others; therefore he took in a reef in the
sails, and waited for the other vessels. Then the king saw that
Erling with his fleet gained upon him fast; for the king's ships
were heavily laden, and were besides water-soaked, having been in
the sea the whole summer, autumn, and winter, up to this time.
He saw also that there would be a great want of men, if he should
go against the whole of Erling's fleet when it was assembled. He
hailed from ship to ship the orders to let the sails gently sink,
and to unship the booms and outriggers, which was done. When
Erling saw this he calls out to his people, and orders them to
get on more sail. "Ye see," says he, "that their sails are
diminishing, and they are getting fast away from our sight." He
took the reef out of the sails of his ship, and outsailed all the
others immediately; for Erling was very eager in his pursuit of
186. OF ERLING SKJALGSON'S FALL.
King Olaf then steered in towards the Bokn fjord, by which the
ships came out of sight of each other. Thereafter the king
ordered his men to strike the sails, and row forwards through a
narrow sound that was there, and all the ships lay collected
within a rocky point. Then all the king's men put on their
weapons. Erling sailed in through the sound, and observed
nothing until the whole fleet was before him, and he saw the
king's men rowing towards him with all their ships at once.
Erling and his crew let fall the sails, and seized their weapons;
but the king's fleet surrounded his ship on all sides. Then the
fight began, and it was of the sharpest; but soon the greatest
loss was among Erling's men. Erling stood on the quarter-deck of
his ship. He had a helmet on his head, a shield before him, and
a sword in his hand. Sigvat the skald had remained behind in
Viken, and heard the tidings. He was a great friend of Erling,
had received presents from him, and had been at his house.
Sigvat composed a poem upon Erling's fall, in which there is the
following verse: --
"Erling has set his ship on sea --
Against the king away is he:
He who oft lets the eagle stain
Her yellow feet in blood of slain.
His little war-ship side by side
With the king's fleet, the fray will bide.
Now sword to sword the fight is raging,
Which Erling with the king is waging."
Then Erling's men began to fall, and at the same moment his ship
was carried by boarding, and every man of his died in his place.
The king himself was amongst the foremost in the fray. So says
"The king's men hewed with hasty sword, --
The king urged on the ship to board, --
All o'er the decks the wounded lay:
Right fierce and bloody was that fray.
In Tungur sound, on Jadar shore,
The decks were slippery with red gore;
Warm blood was dropping in the sound,
Where the king's sword was gleaming round."
So entirely had Erling's men fallen, that not a man remained
standing in his ship but himself alone; for there was none who
asked for quarter, or none who got it if he did ask. There was
no opening for flight, for there lay ships all around Erling's
ship on every side, and it is told for certain that no man
attempted to fly; and Sigvat says: --
"All Erling's men fell in the fray,
Off Bokn fjord, this hard-fought day.
The brave king boarded, onward cheered,
And north of Tungur the deck was cleared.
Erling alone, the brave, the stout,
Cut off from all, yet still held out;
High on the stern -- a sight to see --
In his lone ship alone stood he."
Then Erling was attacked both from the forecastle and from the
other ships. There was a large space upon the poop which stood
high above the other ships, and which nobody could reach but by
arrow-shot, or partly with the thrust of spear, but which he
always struck from him by parrying. Erling defended himself so
manfully, that no example is known of one man having sustained
the attack of so many men so long. Yet he never tried to get
away, nor asked for quarter. So says Sigvat: --
"Skjalg's brave son no mercy craves, --
The battle's fury still he braves;
The spear-storm, through the air sharp singing,
Against his shield was ever ringing.
So Erling stood; but fate had willed
His life off Bokn should be spilled.
No braver man has, since his day,
Past Bokn fjord ta'en his way."
When Olaf went back a little upon the fore-deck he saw Erling's
behaviour; and the king accosted him thus: -- "Thou hast turned
against me to-day, Erling."
He replies, "The eagle turns his claws in defence when torn
asunder." Sigvat the skald tells thus of these words of Erling:
"Erling. our best defence of old, --
Erling the brave, the brisk, the bold, --
Stood to his arms, gaily crying,
`Eagles should show their claws, though dying:'
The very words which once before
To Olaf he had said on shore,
At Utstein when they both prepared
To meet the foe, and danger shared."
Then said the king, "Wilt thou enter into my service, Erling?"
"That I will," said he; took the helmet off his head, laid down
his sword and shield, and went forward to the forecastle deck.
The king struck him in the chin with the sharp point of his
battle-axe, and said, "I shall mark thee as a traitor to thy
Then Aslak Fitiaskalle rose up, and struck Erling in the head
with an axe, so that it stood fast in his brain, and was
instantly his death-wound. Thus Erling lost his life.
The king said to Aslak, "May all ill luck attend thee for that
stroke; for thou hast struck Norway out of my hands."
Aslak replied, "It is bad enough if that stroke displease thee,
for I thought it was striking Norway into thy hands; and if I
have given thee offence, sire, by this stroke, and have thy ill-
will for it, it will go badly with me, for I will get so many
men's ill-will and enmity for this deed that I would need all
your protection and favour."
The king replied that he should have it.
Thereafter the king ordered every man to return to his ship, and
to get ready to depart as fast as he could. "We will not plunder
the slain," says he, "and each man may keep what he has taken."
The men returned to the ships and prepared themselves for the
departure as quickly as possible; and scarcely was this done
before the vessels of the bondes ran in from the south into the
sound. It went with the bonde-army as is often seen, that the
men, although many in numbers, know not what to do when they have
experienced a check, have lost their chief, and are without
leaders. None of Erling's sons were there, and the bondes
therefore made no attack, and the king sailed on his way
northwards. But the bondes took Erling's corpse, adorned it, and
carried it with them home to Sole, and also the bodies of all who
had fallen. There was great lamentation over Erling; and it has
been a common observation among people, that Erling Skjalgson was
the greatest and worthiest man in Norway of those who had no high
title. Sigvat made these verses upon the occasion: --
"Thus Erling fell -- and such a gain
To buy with such a loss was vain;
For better man than he ne'er died,
And the king's gain was small beside.
In truth no man I ever knew
Was, in all ways, so firm and true;
Free from servility and pride,
Honoured by all, yet thus he died."
Sigvat also says that Aslak had very unthinkingly committed this
murder of his own kinsman: --
"Norway's brave defender's dead!
Aslak has heaped on his own head
The guilt of murdering his own kin:
May few be guilty of such sin!
His kinsman's murder on him lies --
Our forefathers, in sayings wise,
Have said, what is unknown to few,
`Kinsmen to kinsmen should be true.'"
187. OF THE INSURRECTION OF AGDER DISTRICT.
Of Erling's sons some at that time were north in Throndhjem, some
in Hordaland, and some in the Fjord district, for the purpose of
collecting men. When Erling's death was reported, the news came
also that there was a levy raising in Agder, Hordaland, and
Rogaland. Forces were raised and a great army assembled, under
Erling's sons, to pursue King Olaf.
When King Olaf retired from the battle with Erling he went
northward through the sounds, and it was late in the day. It is
related that the king then made the following verses: --
"This night, with battle sounds wild ringing,
Small joy to the fair youth is bringing
Who sits in Jadar, little dreaming
O'er what this night the raven's screaming.
The far-descended Erling's life
Too soon has fallen; but, in the strife
He met the luck they well deserve
Who from their faith and fealty swerve."
Afterwards the king sailed with his fleet along the land
northwards, and got certain tidings of the bondes assembling an
army. There were many chiefs and lendermen at this time with
King Olaf, and all the sons of Arne. Of this Bjarne
Gullbrarskald speaks in the poem he composed about Kalf Arnason:
"Kalf! thou hast fought at Bokn well;
Of thy brave doings all men tell:
When Harald's son his men urged on
To the hard strife, thy courage shone.
Thou soon hadst made a good Yule feast
For greedy wolf there in the East:
Where stone and spear were flying round,
There thou wast still the foremost found.
The people suffered in the strife
When noble Erling lost his life,
And north of Utstein many a speck
Of blood lay black upon the deck.
The king, 'tis clear, has been deceived,
By treason of his land bereaved;
And Agder now, whose force is great.
Will rule o'er all parts of the state."
King O1af continued his voyage until he came north of Stad, and
brought up at the Herey Isles. Here he heard the news that Earl
Hakon had a great war-force in Throndhjem, and thereupon the king
held a council with his people. Kalf Arnason urged much to
advance to Throndhjem, and fight Earl Hakon, notwithstanding the
difference of numbers. Many others supported this advice, but
others dissuaded from it, and the matter was left to the king's
188. DEATH OF ASLAK FITIASKALLE.
Afterwards the king went into Steinavag, and remained there all
night; but Aslak Fitiaskalle ran into Borgund, where he remained
the night, and where Vigleik Arnason was before him. In the
morning, when Aslak was about returning on board, Vigleik
assaulted him, and sought to avenge Erling's murder. Aslak fell
there. Some of the king's court-men, who had been home all
summer, joined the king here. They came from Frekeysund, and
brought the king tidings that Earl Hakon, and many lendermen with
him, had come in the morning to Frekeysund with a large force;
"and they will end thy days, sire, if they have strength enough."
Now the king sent his men up to a hill that was near; and when
they came to the top, and looked northwards to Bjarney Island,
they perceived that a great armament of many ships was coming
from the north, and they hastened back to the king with this
intelligence. The king, who was lying there with only twelve
ships, ordered the war-horn to sound, the tents to be taken down
on his ships, and they took to their oars. When they were quite
ready, and were leaving the harbour, the bonde army sailed north
around Thiotande with twenty-five ships. The king then steered
inside of Nyrfe Island, and inside of Hundsver. Now when King
Olaf came right abreast of Borgund, the ship which Aslak had
steered came out to meet him, and when they found the king they
told him the tidings, -- that Vigleik Arnason had killed Aslak
Fitiaskalle, because he had killed Erling Skjalgson. The king
took this news very angrily, but could not delay his voyage on
account of the enemy and he sailed in by Vegsund and Skor. There
some of his people left him; among others, Kalf Arnason, with
many other lendermen and ship commanders, who all went to meet
Earl Hakon. King Olaf, however, proceeded on his way without
stopping until he came to Todar fjord, where he brought up at
Valdal, and landed from his ship. He had then five ships with
him, which he drew up upon the shore, and took care of their
sails and materials. Then he set up his land-tent upon a point
of land called Sult, where there are pretty flat fields, and set
up a cross near to the point of land. A bonde, by name Bruse,
who dwelt there in More, and was chief over the valley, came down
to King Olaf, together with many other bondes, and received him
well, and according to his dignity; and he was friendly, and
pleased with their reception of him. Then the king asked if
there was a passable road up in the country from the valley to
Lesjar; and Bruse replied, that there was an urd in the valley
called Skerfsurd not passable for man or beast. King Olaf
answers, "That we must try, bonde, and it will go as God pleases.
Come here in the morning with your yoke, and come yourself with
it, and let us then see. When we come to the sloping precipice,
what chance there may be, and if we cannot devise some means of
coming over it with horses and people."
189. CLEARING OF THE URD.
Now when day broke the bondes drove down with their yokes, as the
king had told them. The clothes and weapons were packed upon
horses, but the king and all the people went on foot. He went
thus until he came to a place called Krosbrekka, and when he came
up upon the hill he rested himself, sat down there a while,
looked down over the fjord, and said, "A difficult expedition ye
have thrown upon my hands, ye lendermen, who have now changed
your fealty, although but a little while ago ye were my friends
and faithful to me." There are now two crosses erected upon the
bank on which the king sat. Then the king mounted a horse, and
rode without stopping up the valley, until he came to the
precipice. Then the king asked Bruse if there was no summer hut
of cattle-herds in the neighbourhood, where they could remain.
He said there was. The king ordered his land-tent to be set up,
and remained there all night. In the morning the king ordered
them to drive to the urd, and try if they could get across it
with the waggons. They drove there, and the king remained in the
meantime in his tent. Towards evening the king's court-men and
the bondes came back, and told how they had had a very fatiguing
labour, without making any progress, and that there never could
be a road made that they could get across: so they continued
there the second night, during which, for the whole night, the
king was occupied in prayer. As soon as he observed day dawning
he ordered his men to drive again to the urd, and try once more
if they could get across it with the waggons; but they went very
unwillingly, saying nothing could be gained by it. When they
were gone the man who had charge of the king's kitchen came, and
said there were only two carcasses of young cattle remaining of
provision: "Although you, sire, have 400 men, and there are 100
bondes besides." Then the king ordered that he should set all
the kettles on the fire, and put a little bit of meat in each
kettle, which was done. Then the king went there, and made the
sign of the cross over each kettle, and told them to make ready
the meat. The king then went to the urd called Skerfsurd, where
a road should be cleared. When the king came all his people were
sitting down, quite worn out with the hard labour. Bruse said,
"I told you, sire, but you would not believe me, that we could
make nothing of this urd." The king laid aside his cloak, and
told them to go to work once more at the urd. They did so, and
now twenty men could handle stones which before 100 men could not
move from the place; and thus before midday the road was cleared
so well that it was as passable for men, and for horses with
packs, as a road in the plain fields. The king, after this, went
down again to where the meat was, which place is called Olaf's
Rock. Near the rock is a spring, at which Olaf washed himself;
and therefore at the present day, when the cattle in the valley
are sick, their illness is made better by their drinking at this
well. Thereafter the king sat down to table with all the others;
and when he was satisfied he asked if there was any other
sheeling on the other side of the urd, and near the mountains,
where they could pass the night. Bruse said there was such a
sheeling, called Groningar; but that nobody could pass the night
there on account of witchcraft, and evil beings who were in the
sheeling. Then the king said they must get ready for their
journey, as he wanted to be at the sheeling for the night. Then
came the kitchen-master to the king, and tells that there was
come an extraordinary supply of provisions, and he did not know
where it had come from, or how. The king thanked God for this
blessing, and gave the bondes who drove down again to their
valley some rations of food, but remained himself all night in
the sheeling. In the middle of the night, while the people were
asleep, there was heard in the cattle-fold a dreadful cry, and
these words: "Now Olaf's prayers are burning me," says the
spirit, "so that I can no longer be in my habitation; now must I
fly, and never more come to this fold." When the king's people
awoke in the morning the king proceeded to the mountains, and
said to Bruse, "Here shall now a farm be settled, and the bonde
who dwells here shall never want what is needful for the support
of life; and never shall his crop be destroyed by frost, although
the crops be frozen on the farms both above it and below it."
Then the king proceeded over the mountains, and came to a farm
called Einby, where he remained for the night. King Olaf had
then been fifteen years king of Norway (A.D. 1015-1029),
including the year both he and Svein were in the country, and
this year we have now been telling about. It was, namely, a
little past Yule when the king left his ships and took to the
land, as before related. Of this portion of his reign the priest
Are Thorgilson the Wise was the first who wrote; and he was both
faithful in his story, of a good memory, and so old a man that he
could remember the men, and had heard their accounts, who were so
old that through their age they could remember these
circumstances as he himself wrote them in his books, and he named
the men from whom he received his information. Otherwise it is
generally said that King Olaf had been fifteen years king of
Norway when he fell; but they who say so reckon to Earl Svein's
government, the last year he was in the country, for King Olaf
lived fifteen years afterwards as king.
190. OLAF'S PROPHECIES.
When the king had been one night at Lesjar he proceeded on his
journey with his men, day by day; first into Gudbrandsdal, and
from thence out to Redemark. Now it was seen who had been his
friends, for they followed him; but those who had served him with
less fidelity separated from him, and some showed him even
indifference, or even full hostility, which afterwards was
apparent; and also it could be seen clearly in many Upland people
that they took very ill his putting Thorer to death, as before
related. King Olaf gave leave to return home to many of his men
who had farms and children to take care of; for it seemed to them
uncertain what safety there might be for the families and
property of those who left the country with him. Then the king
explained to his friends his intention of leaving the country,
and going first east into Svithjod, and there taking his
determination as to where he should go; but he let his friends
know his intention to return to the country, and regain his
kingdoms, if God should grant him longer life; and he did not
conceal his expectation that the people of Norway would again
return to their fealty to him. "I think," says he, "that Earl
Hakon will have Norway but a short time under his power, which
many will not think an extraordinary expectation, as Earl Hakon
has had but little luck against me; but probably few people will
trust to my prophecy, that Canute the Great will in the course of
a few years die, and his kingdoms vanish; and there will he no
risings in favour of his race." When the king had ended his
speech, his men prepared themselves for their departure. The
king, with the troop that followed him, turned east to Eid
forest. And there were along with him the Queen Astrid; their
daughter Ulfhild; Magnus, King Olaf's son; Ragnvald Brusason; the
three sons of Arne, Thorberg, Fin, and Arne, with many lendermen;
and the king's attendants consisted of many chosen men. Bjorn
the marshal got leave to go home, and he went to his farm, and
many others of the king's friends returned home with his
permission to their farms. The king begged them to let him know
the events which might happen in the country, and which it might
be important for him to know; and now the king proceeded on his
191. KING OLAF PROCEEDS TO RUSSIA.
It is to be related of King Olaf's journey, that he went first
from Norway eastward through Eid forest to Vermaland, then to
Vatnsby, and through the forests in which there are roads, until
he came out in Nerike district. There dwelt a rich and powerful
man in that part called Sigtryg, who had a son, Ivar, who
afterwards became a distinguished person. Olaf stayed with
Sigtryg all spring (A.D. 1029); and when summer came he made
ready for a journey, procured a ship for himself, and without
stopping went on to Russia to King Jarisleif and his queen
Ingegerd; but his own queen Astrid, and their daughter Ulfhild,
remained behind in Svithjod, and the king took his son Magnus
eastward with him. King Jarisleif received King Olaf in the
kindest manner, and made him the offer to remain with him, and to
have so much land as was necessary for defraying the expense of
the entertainment of his followers. King Olaf accepted this
offer thankfully, and remained there. It is related that King
Olaf was distinguished all his life for pious habits, and zeal in
his prayers to God. But afterwards, when he saw his own power
diminished, and that of his adversaries augmented, he turned all
his mind to God's service; for he was not distracted by other
thoughts, or by the labour he formerly had upon his hands, for
during all the time he sat upon the throne he was endeavouring to
promote what was most useful: and first to free and protect the
country from foreign chiefs' oppressions, then to convert the
people to the right faith; and also to establish law and the
rights of the country, which he did by letting justice have its
way, and punishing evil-doers.
192. CAUSES OF THE REVOLT AGAINST KING OLAF.
It had been an old custom in Norway that the sons of lendermen,
or other great men, went out in war-ships to gather property, and
they marauded both in the country and out of the country. But
after King Olaf came to the sovereignty he protected the country,
so that he abolished all plundering there; and even if they were
the sons of powerful men who committed any depredation, or did
what the king considered against law, he did not spare them at
all, but they must suffer in life or limbs; and no man's
entreaties, and no offer of money-penalties, could help them. So
says Sigvat: --
"They who on viking cruises drove
With gifts of red gold often strove
To buy their safety -- but our chief
Had no compassion for the thief.
He made the bravest lose his head
Who robbed at sea, and pirates led;
And his just sword gave peace to all,
Sparing no robber, great or small."
And he also says: --
"Great king! whose sword on many a field
Food to the wandering wolf did yield,
And then the thief and pirate band
Swept wholly off by sea and land --
Good king! who for the people's sake
Set hands and feet upon a stake,
When plunderers of great name and bold
Harried the country as of old.
The country's guardian showed his might
When oft he made his just sword bite
Through many a viking's neck and hair,
And never would the guilty spare.
King Magnus' father, I must say,
Did many a good deed in his day.
Olaf the Thick was stern and stout,
Much good his victories brought out."
He punished great and small with equal severity, which appeared
to the chief people of the country too severe; and animosity rose
to the highest when they lost relatives by the king's just
sentence, although they were in reality guilty. This was the
origin of the hostility of the great men of the country to King
Olaf, that they could not bear his just judgments. He again
would rather renounce his dignity than omit righteous judgment.
The accusation against him, of being stingy with his money, was
not just, for he was a most generous man towards his friends; but
that alone was the cause of the discontent raised against him,
that he appeared hard and severe in his retributions. Besides,
King Canute offered great sums of money, and the great chiefs
were corrupted by this, and by his offering them greater
dignities than they had possessed before. The inclinations of
the people, also, were all in favour of Earl Hakon, who was much
beloved by the country folks when he ruled the country before.
193. OF JOKUL BARDSON.
Earl Hakon had sailed with his fleet from Throndhjem, and gone
south to More against King Olaf, as before related. Now when the
king bore away, and ran into the fjord, the earl followed him
thither; and then Kalf Arnason came to meet him, with many of the
men who had deserted King Olaf. Kalf was well received. The
earl steered in through Todar fjord to Valdal, where the king had
laid up his ships on the strand. He took the ships which
belonged to the king, had them put upon the water and rigged, and
cast lots, and put commanders in charge of them according to the
lots. There was a man called Jokul, who was an Icelander, a son
of Bard Jokulson of Vatnsdal; the lot fell upon Jokul to command
the Bison, which King Olaf himself had commanded. Jokul made
these verses upon it: --
"Mine is the lot to take the helm
Which Olaf owned, who owned the realm;
From Sult King Olaf's ship to steer
(Ill luck I dread on his reindeer).
My girl will never hear the tidings,
Till o'er the wild wave I come riding
In Olaf's ship, who loved his gold,
And lost his ships with wealth untold."
We may here shortly tell what happened a long time after. -- that
this Jokul fell in with King Olaf's men in the island of Gotland,
and the king ordered him to be taken out to be beheaded. A
willow twig accordingly was plaited in with his hair, and a man
held him fast by it. Jokul sat down upon a bank, and a man swung
the axe to execute him; but Jokul hearing the sound, raised his
head, and the blow struck him in the head, and made a dreadful
wound. As the king saw it would be his death-wound, he ordered
them to let him lie with it. Jokul raised himself up, and he
"My hard fate I mourn, --
Alas! my wounds burn,
My red wounds are gaping,
My life-blood escaping.
My wounds burn sore;
But I suffer still more
From the king's angry word,
Than his sharp-biting sword."
194. OF KALF ARNASON.
Kalf Arnason went with Earl Hakon north to Throndhjem, and the
earl invited him to enter into his service. Kalf said he would
first go home to his farm at Eggja, and afterwards make his
determination; and Kalf did so. When he came home he found his
wife Sigrid much irritated; and she reckoned up all the sorrow
inflicted on her, as she insisted, by King Olaf. First, he had
ordered her first husband Olver to be killed. "And now since,"
says she, "my two sons; and thou thyself, Kalf, wert present when
they were cut off, and which I little expected from thee." Kalf
says, it was much against his will that Thorer was killed. "I
offered money-penalty for him," says he; "and when Grjotgard was
killed I lost my brother Arnbjorn at the same time." She
replies, "It is well thou hast suffered this from the king; for
thou mayest perhaps avenge him, although thou wilt not avenge my
injuries. Thou sawest how thy foster-son Thorer was killed, with
all the regard of the king for thee." She frequently brought out
such vexatious speeches to Kalf, to which he often answered
angrily; but yet he allowed himself to be persuaded by her to
enter into the earl's service, on condition of renewing his fiefs
to him. Sigrid sent word to the earl how far she had brought the
matter with Kalf. As soon as the earl heard of it, he sent a
message to Kalf that he should come to the town to him. Kalf did
not decline the invitation, but came directly to Nidaros, and
waited on the earl, who received him kindly. In their
conversation it was fully agreed upon that Kalf should go into
the earl's service, and should receive great fiefs. After this
Kalf returned home, and had the greater part of the interior of
the Throndhjem country under him. As soon as it was spring Kalf
rigged out a ship that belonged to him, and when she was ready he
put to sea, and sailed west to England; for he had heard that in
spring King Canute was to sail from Denmark to England, and that
King Canute had given Harald, a son of Thorkel the High, an
earldom in Denmark. Kalf Arnason went to King Canute as soon as
he arrived in England. Bjarne Gullbrarskald tells of this: --
"King Olaf eastward o'er the sea
To Russia's monarch had to flee;
Our Harald's brother ploughed the main,
And furrowed white its dark-blue plain.
Whilst thou -- the truth I still will say,
Nor fear nor favour can me sway --
Thou to King Canute hastened fast,
As soon as Olaf's luck was past."
Now when Kalf came to King Canute the king received him
particularly well, and had many conversations with him. Among
other things, King Canute, in a conference, asked Kalf to bind
himself to raise a warfare against King Olaf, if ever he should
return to the country. "And for which," says the king, "I will
give thee the earldom, and place thee to rule over Norway; and my
relation Hakon shall come to me, which will suit him better, for
he is so honourable and trustworthy that I believe he would not
even throw a spear against the person of King Olaf if he came
back to the country." Kalf lent his ear to what the king
proposed, for he had a great desire to attain this high dignity;
and this conclusion was settled upon between King Canute and
Kalf. Kalf then prepared to return home, and on his departure he
received splendid presents from King Canute. Bjarne the skald
tells of these circumstances: --
"Sprung from old earls! -- to England's lord
Thou owest many a thankful word
For many a gift: if all be true,
Thy interest has been kept in view;
For when thy course was bent for home,
(Although that luck is not yet come,)
`That Norway should be thine,' 'tis said,
The London king a promise made."
Kalf thereafter returned to Norway, and came to his farm.
195. OF THE DEATH OF EARL HAKON.
Earl Hakon left the country this summer (A.D. 1029), and went to
England, and when he came there was well received by the king.
The earl had a bride in England, and he travelled to conclude
this marriage, and as he intended holding his wedding in Norway,
he came to procure those things for it in England which it was
difficult to get in Norway. In autumn he made ready for his
return, but it was somewhat late before he was clear for sea; but
at last he set out. Of his voyage all that can be told is, that
the vessel was lost, and not a man escaped. Some relate that the
vessel was seen north of Caithness in the evening in a heavy
storm, and the wind blowing out of Pentland Firth. They who
believe this report say the vessel drove out among the breakers
of the ocean; but with certainty people knew only that Earl Hakon
was missing in the ocean, and nothing belonging to the ship ever
came to land. The same autumn some merchants came to Norway, who
told the tidings that were going through the country of Earl
Hakon being missing; and all men knew that he neither came to
Norway nor to England that autumn, so that Norway that winter was
without a head.
196. OF BJORN THE MARSHAL.
Bjorn the marshal sat at home on his farm after his parting from
King Olaf. Bjorn was a celebrated man; therefore it was soon
reported far and wide that he had set himself down in quietness.
Earl Hakon and the other chiefs of the country heard this also,
and sent persons with a verbal message to Bjorn. When the
messengers arrived Bjorn received them well; and afterwards Bjorn
called them to him to a conference, and asked their business. He
who was their foreman presented to Bjorn the salutations of King
Canute, Earl Hakon, and of several chiefs. "King Canute," says
he, "has heard much of thee, and that thou hast been long a
follower of King Olaf the Thick, and hast been a great enemy of
King Canute; and this he thinks not right, for he will be thy
friend, and the friend of all worthy men, if thou wilt turn from
thy friendship to King Olaf and become his enemy. And the only
thing now thou canst do is to seek friendship and protection
there where it is most readily to be found, and which all men in
this northern world think it most honourable to be favoured with.
Ye who have followed Olaf the Thick should consider how he is now
separated from you; and that now ye have no aid against King
Canute and his men, whose lands ye plundered last summer, and
whose friends ye murdered. Therefore ye ought to accept, with
thanks, the friendship which the king offers you; and it would
become you better if you offered money even in mulct to obtain
When he had ended his speech Bjorn replies, "I wish now to sit
quietly at home, and not to enter into the service of any chief."
The messenger answers, "Such men as thou art are just the right
men to serve the king; and now I can tell thee there are just two
things for thee to choose, -- either to depart in peace from thy
property, and wander about as thy comrade Olaf is doing; or,
which is evidently better, to accept King Canute's and Earl
Hakon's friendship, become their man, and take the oaths of
fealty to them. Receive now thy reward." And he displayed to
him a large bag full of English money.
Bjorn was a man fond of money, and self-interested; and when he
saw the silver he was silent, and reflected with himself what
resolution he should take. It seemed to him much to abandon his
property, as he did not think it probable that King Olaf would
ever have a rising in his favour in Norway. Now when the
messenger saw that Bjorn's inclinations were turned towards the
money, he threw down two thick gold rings, and said, "Take the
money at once, Bjorn, and swear the oaths to King Canute; for I
can promise thee that this money is but a trifle, compared to
what thou wilt receive if thou followest King Canute."
By the heap of money, the fine promises, and the great presents,
he was led by covetousness, took the money, went into King
Canute's service, and gave the oaths of fealty to King Canute and
Earl Hakon, and then the messengers departed.
197. BJORN THE MARSHAL'S JOURNEY.
When Bjorn heard the tidings that Earl Hakon was missing he soon
altered his mind, and was much vexed with himself for having been
a traitor in his fidelity to King Olaf. He thought, now, that
he was freed from the oath by which he had bound himself to Earl
Hakon. It seemed to Bjorn that now there was some hope that King
Olaf might again come to the throne of Norway if he came back, as
the country was without a head. Bjorn therefore immediately made
himself ready to travel, and took some men with him. He then set
out on his journey, travelling night and day, on horseback when
he could, and by ship when he found occasion; and never halted
until he came, after Yule, east to Russia to King Olaf, who was
very glad to see Bjorn. Then the king inquired much about the
news from Norway. Bjorn tells him that Earl Hakon was missing,
and the kingdom left without a head. At this news the men who
had followed King Olaf were very glad, -- all who had left
property, connections, and friends in Norway; and the longing for
home was awakened in them. Bjorn told King Olaf much news from
Norway, and very anxious the king was to know, and asked much how
his friends had kept their fidelity towards him. Bjorn answered,
it had gone differently with different people.
Then Bjorn stood up, fell at the king's feet, held his foot, and
said, "All is in your power, sire, and in God's! I have taken
money from King Canute's men, and sworn them the oaths of fealty;
but now will I follow thee, and not part from thee so long as we
The king replies, "Stand up, Bjorn' thou shalt be reconciled with
me; but reconcile thy perjury with God. I can see that but few
men in Norway have held fast by their fealty, when such men as
thou art could be false to me. But true it is also that people
sit in great danger when I am distant, and they are exposed to
the wrath of my enemies."
Bjorn then reckoned up those who had principally bound themselves
to rise in hostility against the king and his men; and named,
among others, Erling's son in Jadar and their connections, Einar
Tambaskelfer, Kalf Arnason, Thorer Hund, and Harek of Thjotta.
105. OF KING OLAF.
After King Olaf came to Russia he was very thoughtful, and
weighed what counsel he now should follow. King Jarisleif and
Queen Ingegerd offered him to remain with them, and receive a
kingdom called Vulgaria, which is a part of Russia, and in which
land the people were still heathen. King Olaf thought over this
offer; but when he proposed it to his men they dissuaded him from
settling himself there, and urged the king to betake himself to
Norway to his own kingdom: but the king himself had resolved
almost in his own mind to lay down his royal dignity, to go out
into the world to Jerusalem, or other holy places, and to enter
into some order of monks. But yet the thought lay deep in his
soul to recover again, if there should be any opportunity for
him, his kingdom in Norway. When he thought over this, it
recurred to his mind how all things had gone prosperously with
him during the first ten years of his reign, and how afterwards
every thing he undertook became heavy, difficult, and hard; and
that he had been unlucky, on all occasions in which he had tried
his luck. On this account he doubted if it would be prudent to
depend so much upon his luck, as to go with so little strength
into the hands of his enemies, seeing that all the people of the
country had taken part with them to oppose King Olaf. Such cares
he had often on his mind, and he left his cause to God, praying
that He would do what to Him seemed best. These thoughts he
turned over in his mind, and knew not what to resolve upon; for
he saw how evidently dangerous that was which his inclination was
most bent upon.
199. OF KING OLAF'S DREAM.
One night the king lay awake in his bed, thinking with great
anxiety about his determination, and at last, being tired of
thinking, sleep came over him towards morning; but his sleep was
so light that he thought he was awake, and could see all that was
doing in the house. Then he saw a great and superb man, in
splendid clothes, standing by his bed; and it came into the
king's mind that this was King Olaf Trygvason who had come to
him. This man said to him, "Thou are very sick of thinking about
thy future resolutions; and it appears to me wonderful that these
thoughts should be so tumultuous in thy soul that thou shouldst
even think of laying down the kingly dignity which God hath given
thee, and of remaining here and accepting of a kingdom from
foreign and unknown kings. Go back rather to that kingdom which
thou hast received in heritage, and rule over it with the
strength which God hath given thee, and let not thy inferiors
take it from thee. It is the glory of a king to be victorious
over his enemies, and it is a glorious death to die in battle.
Or art thou doubtful if thou hast right on thy side in the strife
with thine enemies? Thou must have no doubts, and must not
conceal the truth from thyself. Thou must go back to thy
country, and God will give open testimony that the kingdom is
thine by property." When the king awoke he thought he saw the
man's shoulders going out. From this time the king's courage
rose, and he fixed firmly his resolution to return to Norway; to
which his inclination also tended most, and which he also found
was the desire of all his men. He bethought himself also that
the country being without a chief could be easily attacked, from
what he had heard, and that after he came himself many would turn
back towards him. When the king told his determination to his
people they all gave it their approbation joyfully.
200. OF KING OLAF'S HEALING POWERS.
It is related that once upon a time, while King Olaf was in
Russia, it happened that the son of an honest widow had a sore
boil upon his neck, of which the lad lay very ill; and as he
could not swallow any food, there was little hope of his life.
The boy's mother went to Queen Ingegerd, with whom she was
acquainted, and showed her the lad. The queen said she knew no
remedy for it. "Go," said she, "to King Olaf, he is the best
physician here; and beg him to lay his hands on thy lad, and
bring him my words if he will not otherwise do it." She did as
the queen told her; and when she found the king she says to him
that her son is dangerously ill of a boil in his neck, and begs
him to lay his hand on the boil. The king tells her he is not a
physician, and bids her go to where there were physicians. She
replies, that the queen had told her to come to him; "and told me
to add the request from her, that you would would use the remedy
you understood, and she said that thou art the best physician
here in the town." Then the king took the lad, laid his hands
upon his neck, and felt the boil for a long time, until the boy
made a very wry face. Then the king took a piece of bread, laid
it in the figure of the cross upon the palm of his hand, and put
it into the boy's mouth. He swallowed it down, and from that
time all the soreness left his neck, and in a few days he was
quite well, to the great joy of his mother and all his relations.
Then first came Olaf into the repute of having as much healing
power in his hands as is ascribed to men who have been gifted by
nature with healing by the touch; and afterwards when his
miracles were universally acknowledged, this also was considered
one of his miracles.
201. KING OLAF BURNS THE WOOD SHAVINGS ON HIS HAND FOR HIS
It happened one Sunday that the king sat in his highseat at the
dinner table, and had fallen into such deep thought that he did
not observe how time went. In one hand he had a knife, and in
the other a piece of fir-wood from which he cut splinters from
time to time. The table-servant stood before him with a bowl in
his hands; and seeing what the king was about, and that he was
involved in thought, he said, "It is Monday, sire, to-morrow."
The king looked at him when he heard this, and then it came into
his mind what he was doing on the Sunday. Then the king ordered
a lighted candle to be brought him, swept together all the
shavings he had made, set them on fire, and let them burn upon
his naked hand; showing thereby that he would hold fast by God's
law and commandment, and not trespass without punishment on what
he knew to be right.
202. OF KING OLAF.
When King Olaf had resolved on his return home, he made known his
intention to King Jarisleif and Queen Ingegerd. They dissuaded
him from this expedition, and said he should receive as much
power in their dominions as he thought desirable; but begged him
not to put himself within the reach of his enemies with so few
men as he had. Then King Olaf told them of his dream; adding,
that he believed it to be God's will and providence that it
should be so. Now when they found he was determined on
travelling to Norway, they offered him all the assistance to his
journey that he would accept from them. The king thanked them in
many fine words for their good will; and said that he accepted
from them, with no ordinary pleasure, what might be necessary for
203. OF KING OLAF'S JOURNEY FROM RUSSIA.
Immediately after Yule (A.D. 1080), King Olaf made himself ready;
and had about 200 of his men with him. King Jarisleif gave him
all the horses, and whatever else he required; and when he was
ready he set off. King Jarisleif and Queen Ingegerd parted from
him with all honour; and he left his son Magnus behind with the
king. The first part of his journey, down to the sea-coast, King
Olaf and his men made on the ice; but as spring approached, and
the ice broke up, they rigged their vessels, and when they were
ready and got a wind they set out to sea, and had a good voyage.
When Olaf came to the island of Gotland with his ships he heard
the news -- which was told as truth, both in Svithjod, Denmark,
and over all Norway -- that Earl Hakon was missing, and Norway
without a head. This gave the king and his men good hope of the
issue of their journey. From thence they sailed, when the wind
suited, to Svithjod, and went into the Maelar lake, to Aros, and
sent men to the Swedish King Onund appointing a meeting. King
Onund received his brother-in-law's message in the kindest
manner, and went to him according to his invitation. Astrid also
came to King Olaf, with the men who had attended her; and great
was the joy on all sides at this meeting. The Swedish king also
received his brother-in-law King Olaf with great joy when they
204. OF THE LENDERMEN IN NORWAY.
Now we must relate what, in the meantime, was going on in Norway.
Thorer Hund, in these two winters (A.D. 1029-1030), had made a
Lapland journey, and each winter had been a long time on the
mountains, and had gathered to himself great wealth by trading in
various wares with the Laplanders. He had twelve large coats of
reindeer-skin made for him, with so much Lapland witchcraft that
no weapon could cut or pierce them any more than if they were
armour of ring-mail, nor so much. The spring thereafter Thorer
rigged a long-ship which belonged to him, and manned it with his
house-servants. He summoned the bondes, demanded a levy from the
most northern Thing district, collected in this way a great many
people, and proceeded with this force southwards. Harek of
Thjotta had also collected a great number of people; and in this
expedition many people of consequence took a part, although these
two were the most distinguished. They made it known publicly
that with this war-force they were going against King Olaf, to
defend the country against him, in case he should come from the
205. OF EINAR TAMBASKELFER.
Einar Tambaskelfer had most influence in the outer part of the
Throndhjem country after Earl Hakon's death was no longer
doubtful; for he and his son Eindride appeared to be the nearest
heirs to the movable property the earl had possessed. Then Einar
remembered the promises and offers of friendship which King
Canute had made him at parting; and he ordered a good vessel
which belonged to him to be got ready, and embarked with a great
retinue, and when he was ready sailed southwards along the coast,
then set out to sea westwards, and sailed without stopping until
he came to England. He immediately waited on King Canute, who
received him well and joyfully. Then Einar opened his business
to the king, and said he was come there to see the fulfillment of
the promises the king had made him; namely, that he, Einar,
should have the highest title of honour in Norway if Earl Hakon
were no more. King Canute replies, that now the circumstances
were altered. "I have now," said he, "sent men and tokens to my
son Svein in Denmark, and promised him the kingdom of Norway; but
thou shalt retain my friendship, and get the dignity and title
which thou art entitled by birth to hold. Thou shalt be
lenderman with great fiefs, and be so much more raised above
other lendermen as thou art more able than they." Einar saw
sufficiently how matters stood with regard to his business, and
got ready to return home; but as he now knew the king's
intentions, and thought it probable if King Olaf came from the
East the country would not be very peaceable, it came into his
mind that it would be better to proceed slowly, and not to be
hastening his voyage, in order to fight against King Olaf,
without his being advanced by it to any higher dignity than he
had before. Einar accordingly went to sea when he was ready; but
only came to Norway after the events were ended which took place
there during that summer.
206. OF THE CHIEF PEOPLE IN NORWAY.
The chiefs in Norway had their spies east in Svithjod, and south
in Denmark, to find out if King Olaf had come from Russia. As
soon as these men could get across the country, they heard the
news that King Olaf was arrived in Svithjod; and as soon as full
certainty of this was obtained, the war message-token went round
the land. The whole people were called out to a levy, and a
great army was collected. The lendermen who were from Agder,
Rogaland, and Hordaland, divided themselves, so that some went
towards the north, and some towards the east; for they thought
they required people on both sides. Erling's sons from Jadar
went eastward, with all the men who lived east of them, and over
whom they were chiefs; Aslak of Finey, and Erlend of Gerde, with
the lendermen north of them, went towards the north. All those
now named had sworn an oath to King Canute to deprive Olaf of
life, if opportunity should offer.
207. OF HARALD SIGURDSON'S PROCEEDINGS.
Now when it was reported in Norway that King Olaf was come from
the East to Svithjod, his friends gathered together to give him
aid. The most distinguished man in this flock was Harald
Sigurdson, a brother of King Olaf, who then was fifteen years of
age, very stout, and manly of growth as if he were full-grown.
Many other brave men were there also; and there were in all 600
men when they proceeded from the uplands, and went eastward with
their force through Eid forest to Vermaland. From thence they
went eastward through the forests to Svithjod and made inquiry
about King Olaf's proceedings.
208. OF KING OLAF'S PROCEEDINGS IN SVITHJOD.
King Olaf was in Svithjod in spring (A.D. 1030), and had sent
spies from thence to Norway. All accounts from that quarter
agreed that there was no safety for him if he went there, and the
people who came from the north dissuaded him much from
penetrating into the country. But he had firmly resolved within
himself, as before stated, to go into Norway; and he asked King
Onund what strength King Onund would give him to conquer his
kingdom. King Onund replied, that the Swedes were little
inclined to make an expedition against Norway. "We know," says
he, "that the Northmen are rough and warlike, and it is dangerous
to carry hostility to their doors, but I will not be slow in
telling thee what aid I can give. I will give thee 400 chosen
men from my court-men, active and warlike, and well equipt for
battle; and moreover will give thee leave to go through my
country, and gather to thyself as many men as thou canst get to
follow thee." King Olaf accepted this offer, and got ready for
his march. Queen Astrid, and Ulfhild the king's daughter,
remained behind in Svithjod.
209. KING OLAF ADVANCES TO JARNBERALAND.
Just as King Olaf began his journey the men came to him whom the
Swedish king had given, in all 400 men, and the king took the
road the Swedes showed him. He advanced upwards in the country
to the forests, and came to a district called Jarnberaland. Here
the people joined him who had come out of Norway to meet him, as
before related; and he met here his brother Harald, and many
other of his relations, and it was a joyful meeting. They made
out together 1200 men.
210. OF DAG HRINGSON.
There was a man called Dag, who is said to have been a son of
King Hring, who fled the country from King Olaf. This Hring, it
is said further, had been a son of Dag, and grandson of Hring,
Harald Harfager's son. Thus was Dag King Olaf's relative. Both
Hring the father, and Dag the son, had settled themselves in
Svithjod, and got land to rule over. In spring, when Olaf came
from the East to Svithjod, he sent a message to his relation Dag,
that he should join him in this expedition with all the force he
could collect; and if they gained the country of Norway again,
Dag should have no smaller part of the kingdom under him than his
forefathers had enjoyed. When this message came to Dag it suited
his inclination well, for he had a great desire to go to Norway
and get the dominion his family had ruled over. He was not slow,
therefore, to reply, and promised to come. Dag was a quick-
speaking, quick-resolving man, mixing himself up in everything;
eager, but of little understanding. He collected a force of
almost 1200 men, with which he joined King Olaf.
211. OF KING OLAF'S JOURNEY.
King Olaf sent a message before him to all the inhabited places
he passed through, that the men who wished to get goods and
money, and share of booty, and the lands besides which now were
in the hands of his enemies, should come to him, and follow him.
Thereafter King Olaf led his army through forests, often over
desert moors, and often over large lakes; and they dragged, or
carried the boats, from lake to lake. On the way a great many
followers joined the king, partly forest settlers, partly
vagabonds. The places at which he halted for the night are since
called Olaf's Booths. He proceeded without any break upon his
journey until he came to Jamtaland, from which he marched north
over the keel or ridge of the land. The men spread themselves
over the hamlets, and proceeded, much scattered, so long as no
enemy was expected; but always, when so dispersed, the Northmen
accompanied the king. Dag proceeded with his men on another line
of march, and the Swedes on a third with their troop.
212. OF VAGABOND-MEN.
There were two men, the one called Gauka-Thorer, the other
Afrafaste, who were vagabonds and great robbers, and had a
company of thirty men such as themselves. These two men were
larger and stronger than other men, and they wanted neither
courage nor impudence. These men heard speak of the army that
was crossing the country, and said among themselves it would be a
clever counsel to go to the king, follow him to his country, and
go with him into a regular battle, and try themselves in this
work; for they had never been in any battle in which people were
regularly drawn up in line, and they were curious to see the
king's order of battle. This counsel was approved of by their
comrades, and accordingly they went to the road on which King
Olaf was to pass. When they came there they presented themselves
to the king, with their followers, fully armed. They saluted
him, and he asked what people they were. They told their names,
and said they were natives of the place; and told their errand,
and that they wished to go with the king. The king said, it
appeared to him there was good help in such folks. "And I have a
great inclination," said he, "to take such; but are ye Christian
Gauka-Thorer replies, that he is neither Christian nor heathen.
"I and my comrades have no faith but on ourselves, our strength,
and the luck of victory; and with this faith we slip through
The king replies, "A great pity it is that such brave
slaughtering fellows did not believe in Christ their Creator."
Thorer replies, "Is there any Christian man, king, in thy
following, who stands so high in the air as we two brothers?"
The king told them to let themselves be baptized, and to accept
the true faith. "Follow me then, and I will advance you to great
dignities; but if ye will not do so, return to your former
Afrafaste said he would not take on Christianity, and he turned
Then said Gauka-Thorer, "It is a great shame that the king drives
us thus away from his army, and I never before came where I was
not received into the company of other people, and I shall never
return back on this account." They joined accordingly the rear
with other forest-men, and followed the troops. Thereafter the
king proceeded west up to the keel-ridge of the country.
213. OF KING OLAF'S VISION.
Now when King Olaf, coming from the east, went over the keel-
ridge and descended on the west side of the mountain, where it
declines towards the sea, he could see from thence far over the
country. Many people rode before the king and many after, and he
himself rode so that there was a free space around him. He was
silent, and nobody spoke to him, and thus he rode a great part of
the day without looking much about him. Then the bishop rode up
to him, asked him why he was so silent, and what he was thinking
of; for, in general, he was very cheerful, and very talkative on
a journey to his men, so that all who were near him were merry.
The king replied, full of thought, "Wonderful things have come
into my mind a while ago. As I just now looked over Norway, out
to the west from the mountains, it came into my mind how many
happy days I have had in that land. It appeared to me at first
as if I saw over all the Throndhjem country, and then over all
Norway; and the longer this vision was before my eyes the
farther, methought, I saw, until I looked over the whole wide
world, both land and sea. Well I know the places at which I have
been in former days; some even which I have only heard speak of,
and some I saw of which I had never heard, both inhabited and
uninhabited, in this wide world." The bishop replied that this
was a holy vision, and very remarkable.
214. OF THE MIRACLE ON THE CORN LAND.
When the king had come lower down on the mountain, there lay a
farm before him called Sula, on the highest part of Veradal
district; and as they came nearer to the house the corn-land
appeared on both sides of the path. The king told his people to
proceed carefully, and not destroy the corn to the bondes. The
people observed this when the king was near; but the crowd behind
paid no attention to it, and the people ran over the corn, so
that it was trodden flat to the earth. There dwelt a bonde there
called Thorgeir Flek, who had two sons nearly grown up. Thorgeir
received the king and his people well, and offered all the
assistance in his power. The king was pleased with his offer,
and asked Thorgeir what was the news of the country, and if any
forces were assembled against him. Thorgeir says that a great
army was drawn together in the Throndhjem country, and that there
were some lendermen both from the south of the country, and from
Halogaland in the north; "but I do not know," says he. "if they
are intended against you, or going elsewhere." Then he
complained to the king of the damage and waste done him by the
people breaking and treading down all his corn fields. The king
said it was ill done to bring upon him any loss. Then the king
rode to where the corn had stood, and saw it was laid flat on the
earth; and he rode round the field, and said, "I expect, bonde,
that God will repair thy loss, so that the field, within a week,
will be better;" and it proved the best of the corn, as the king
had said. The king remained all night there, and in the morning
he made himself ready, and told Thorgeir the bonde to accompany
him and Thorgear offered his two sons also for the journey; and
although the king said that he did not want them with him, the
lads would go. As they would not stay behind, the king's court-
men were about binding them; but the king seeing it said, "Let
them come with us; the lads will come safe back again." And it
was with the lads as the king foretold.
215. OF THE BAPTISM OF THE VAGABOND FOREST-MEN.
Thereafter the army advanced to Staf, and when the king reached
Staf's moor he halted. There he got the certain information that
the bondes were advancing with an army against him, and that he
might soon expect to have a battle with them. He mustered his
force here, and, after reckoning them up, found there were in
the army 900 heathen men, and when he came to know it he ordered
them to allow themselves to be baptized, saying that he would
have no heathens with him in battle. "We must not," says he,
"put our confidence in numbers, but in God alone must we trust;
for through his power and favour we must be victorious, and I
will not mix heathen people with my own." When the heathens
heard this, they held a council among themselves, and at last 400
men agreed to be baptized; but 500 men refused to adopt
Christianity, and that body returned home to their land. Then
the brothers Gauka-Thorer and Afrafaste presented themselves to
the king, and offered again to follow him. The king asked if
they had now taken baptism. Gauka-Thorer replied that they had
not. Then the king ordered them to accept baptism and the true
faith, or otherwise to go away. They stepped aside to talk with
each other on what resolution they should take. Afrafaste said,
"To give my opinion, I will not turn back, but go into the
battle, and take a part on the one side or the other; and I don't
care much in which army I am." Gauka-Thorer replies, "If I go
into battle I will give my help to the king, for he has most need
of help. And if I must believe in a God, why not in the white
Christ as well as in any other? Now it is my advice, therefore,
that we let ourselves be baptized, since the king insists so much
upon it, and then go into the battle with him." They all agreed
to this, and went to the king, and said they would receive
baptism. Then they were baptized by a priest, and the baptism
was confirmed by the bishop. The king then took them into the
troop of his court-men, and said they should fight under his
banner in the battle.
216. KING OLAF'S SPEECH.
King Olaf got certain intelligence now that it would be but a
short time until he had a battle with the bondes; and after he
had mustered his men, and reckoned up the force, he had more than
3000 men, which appears to be a great army in one field. Then
the king made the following speech to the people: "We have a
great army, and excellent troops; and now I will tell you, my
men, how I will have our force drawn up. I will let my banner go
forward in the middle of the army, and my-court-men, and
pursuivants shall follow it, together with the war forces that
joined us from the Uplands, and also those who may come to us
here in the Throndhjem land. On the right hand of my banner
shall be Dag Hringson, with all the men he brought to our aid;
and he shall have the second banner. And on the left hand of our
line shall the men be whom the Swedish king gave us, together
with all the people who came to us in Sweden; and they shall have
the third banner. I will also have the people divide themselves
into distinct flocks or parcels, so that relations and
acquaintances should be together; for thus they defend each other
best, and know each other. We will have all our men
distinguished by a mark, so as to be a field-token upon their
helmets and shields, by painting the holy cross thereupon with
white colour. When we come into battle we shall all have one
countersign and field-cry, -- `Forward, forward, Christian men!
cross men! king's men!' We must draw up our meal in thinner
ranks, because we have fewer people, and I do not wish to let
them surround us with their men. Now let the men divide
themselves into separate flocks, and then each flock into ranks;
then let each man observe well his proper place, and take notice
what banner he is drawn up under. And now we shall remain drawn
up in array; and our men shall be fully armed, night and day,
until we know where the meeting shall be between us and the
bondes." When the king had finished speaking, the army arrayed,
and arranged itself according to the king's orders.
217. KING OLAF'S COUNSEL.
Thereafter the king had a meeting with the chiefs of the
different divisions, and then the men had returned whom the king
had sent out into the neighbouring districts to demand men from
the bondes. They brought the tidings from the inhabited places
they had gone through, that all around the country was stripped
of all men able to carry arms, as all the people had joined the
bondes' army; and where they did find any they got but few to
follow them, for the most of them answered that they stayed at
home because they would not follow either party: they would not
go out against the king, nor yet against their own relations.
Thus they had got but few people. Now the king asked his men
their counsel, and what they now should do. Fin Arnason answered
thus to the king's question: "I will say what should be done, if
I may advise. We should go with armed hand over all the
inhabited places, plunder all the goods, and burn all the
habitations, and leave not a hut standing, and thus punish the
bondes for their treason against their sovereign. I think many a
man will then cast himself loose from the bondes' army, when he
sees smoke and flame at home on his farm, and does not know how
it is going with children, wives. or old men, fathers, mothers,
and other connections. I expect also," he added, "that if we
succeed in breaking the assembled host, their ranks will soon be
thinned; for so it is with the bondes, that the counsel which is
the newest is always the dearest to them all, and most followed."
When Fin had ended his speech it met with general applause; for
many thought well of such a good occasion to make booty, and all
thought the bondes well deserved to suffer damage; and they also
thought it probable, what Fin said, that many would in this way
be brought to forsake the assembled army of the bondes.
Now when the king heard the warm expressions of his people he
told them to listen to him, and said, "The bondes have well
deserved that it should be done to them as ye desire. They also
know that I have formerly done so, burning their habitations, and
punishing them severely in many ways; but then I proceeded
against them with fire and sword because they rejected the true
faith, betook themselves to sacrifices, and would not obey my
commands. We had then God's honour to defend. But this treason
against their sovereign is a much less grievous crime, although
it does not become men who have any manhood in them to break the
faith and vows they have sworn to me. Now, however, it is more
in my power to spare those who have dealt ill with me, than those
whom God hated. I will, therefore, that my people proceed
gently, and commit no ravage. First, I will proceed to meet the
bondes; if we can then come to a reconciliation, it is well; but
if they will fight with us, then there are two things before us;
either we fail in the battle, and then it will be well advised
not to have to retire encumbered with spoil and cattle; or we
gain the victory, and then ye will be the heirs of all who fight
now against us; for some will fall, and others will fly, but both
will have forfeited their goods and properties, and then it will
be good to enter into full houses and well-stocked farms; but
what is burnt is of use to no man, and with pillage and force
more is wasted than what turns to use. Now we will spread out
far through the inhabited places, and take with us all the men we
can find able to carry arms. Then men will also capture cattle
for slaughter, or whatever else of provision that can serve for
food; but not do any other ravage. But I will see willingly that
ye kill any spies of the bonde army ye may fall in with. Dag and
his people shall go by the north side down along the valley, and
I will go on along the country road, and so we shall meet in the
evening, and all have one night quarter."
218. OF KING OLAF'S SKALDS.
It is related that when King Olaf drew up his men in battle
order, he made a shield rampart with his troop that should defend
him in battle, for which he selected the strongest and boldest.
Thereafter he called his skalds, and ordered them to go in within
the shield defence. "Ye shall." says the king, "remain here, and
see the circumstances which may take place, and then ye will not
have to follow the reports of others in what ye afterwards tell
or sing concerning it." There were Thormod Kolbrunarskald,
Gissur Gulbraskald, a foster-son of Hofgardaref, and Thorfin Mun.
Then said Thormod to Gissur, "Let us not stand so close together,
brother, that Sigvat the skald should not find room when he
comes. He must stand before the king, and the king will not have
it otherwise." The king heard this, and said, "Ye need not sneer
at Sigvat, because he is not here. Often has he followed me
well, and now he is praying for us, and that we greatly need."
Thormod replies, "It may be, sire, that ye now require prayers
most; but it would be thin around the banner-staff if all thy
court-men were now on the way to Rome. True it was what we spoke
about, that no man who would speak with you could find room for
Thereafter the skalds talked among themselves that it would be
well to compose a few songs of remembrance about the events which
would soon be taking place.
Then Gissur sang: --
"From me shall bende girl never hear
A thought of sorrow, care, or fear:
I wish my girl knew how gay
We arm us for our viking fray.
Many and brave they are, we know,
Who come against us there below;
But, life or death, we, one and all,
By Norway's king will stand or fall."
And Thorfin Mun made another song, viz.: --
"Dark is the cloud of men and shields,
Slow moving up through Verdal's fields:
These Verdal folks presume to bring
Their armed force against their king.
On! let us feed the carrion crow, --
Give her a feast in every blow;
And, above all, let Throndhjem's hordes
Feel the sharp edge of true men's swords."
And Thorrood sang: --
"The whistling arrows pipe to battle,
Sword and shield their war-call rattle.
Up! brave men, up! the faint heart here
Finds courage when the danger's near.
Up! brave men, up! with Olaf on!
With heart and hand a field is won.
One viking cheer! -- then, stead of words,
We'll speak with our death-dealing swords."
These songs were immediately got by heart by the army.
219. OF KING OLAF'S GIFTS FOR THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO SHOULD BE
Thereafter the king made himself ready, and marched down through
the valley. His whole forces took up their night-quarter in one
place, and lay down all night under their shields; but as soon as
day broke the king again put his army in order, and that being
done they proceeded down through the valley. Many bondes then
came to the king, of whom the most joined his army; and all, as
one man, told the same tale, -- that the lendermen had collected
an enormous army, with which they intended to give battle to the
The king took many marks of silver, and delivered them into the
hands of a bonde, and said, "This money thou shalt conceal, and
afterwards lay out, some to churches, some to priests, some to
alms-men, -- as gifts for the life and souls of those who fight
against us, and may fall in battle."
The bonde replies, "Should you not rather give this money for the
soul-mulct of your own men?"
The king says, "This money shall be given for the souls of those
who stand against us in the ranks of the bondes' army, and fall
by the weapons of our own men. The men who follow us to battle,
and fall therein, will all be saved together with ourself."
220. OF THORMOD KOLBRUNARSKALD.
This night the king lay with his army around him on the field, as
before related, and lay long awake in prayer to God, and slept
but little. Towards morning a slumber fell on him, and when he
awoke daylight was shooting up. The king thought it too early to
awaken the army, and asked where Thormod the skald was. Thormod
was at hand, and asked what was the king's pleasure. "Sing us a
song," said the king. Thormod raised himself up, and sang so
loud that the whole army could hear him. He began to sing the
old "Bjarkamal", of which these are the first verses: --
"The day is breaking, --
The house cock, shaking
His rustling wings,
While priest-bell rings,
Crows up the morn,
And touting horn
Wakes thralls to work and weep;
Ye sons of Adil, cast off sleep,
Wake up! wake up!
Nor wassail cup,
Nor maiden's jeer,
Awaits you here.
Hrolf of the bow!
Har of the blow!
Up in your might! the day is breaking;
'Tis Hild's game (1) that bides your waking."
Then the troops awoke, and when the song was ended the people
thanked him for it; and it pleased many, as it was suitable to
the time and occasion, and they called it the house-carle's whet.
The king thanked him for the pleasure, and took a gold ring that
weighed half a mark and gave it him. Thormod thanked the king
for the gift, and said, "We have a good king; but it is not easy
to say how long the king's life may be. It is my prayer, sire,
that thou shouldst never part from me either in life or death."
The king replies, "We shall all go together so long as I rule,
and as ye will follow me."
Thormod says, "I hope, sire, that whether in safety or danger I
may stand near you as long as I can stand, whatever we may hear
of Sigvat travelling with his gold-hilted sword." Then Thormod
made these lines: --
"To thee, my king, I'll still be true,
Until another skald I view,
Here in the field with golden sword,
As in thy hall, with flattering word.
Thy skald shall never be a craven,
Though he may feast the croaking raven,
The warrior's fate unmoved I view, --
To thee, my king, I'll still be true."
(1) Hild's game is the battle, from the name of the war-goddess
Hild. -- L.
221. KING OLAF COMES TO STIKLESTAD.
King O1af led his army farther down through the valley, and Dag
and his men went another way, and the king did not halt until he
came to Stiklestad. There he saw the bonde army spread out all
around; and there were so great numbers that people were going on
every footpath, and great crowds were collected far and near.
They also saw there a troop which came down from Veradal, and had
been out to spy. They came so close to the king's people that
they knew each other. It was Hrut of Viggia, with thirty men.
The king ordered his pursuivants to go out against Hrut, and make
an end of him, to which his men were instantly ready. The king
said to the Icelanders, "It is told me that in Iceland it is the
custom that the bondes give their house-servants a sheep to
slaughter; now I give you a ram to slaughter (1). The Icelanders
were easily invited to this, and went out immediately with a few
men against Hrut, and killed him and the troop that followed him.
When the king came to Stiklestad he made a halt, and made the
army stop, and told his people to alight from their horses and
get ready for battle; and the people did as the king ordered.
Then he placed his army in battle array, and raised his banner.
Dag was not yet arrived with his men, so that his wing of the
battle array was wanting. Then the king said the Upland men
should go forward in their place, and raise their banner there.
"It appears to me advisable," says the king, "that Harald my
brother should not be in the battle, for he is still in the years
of childhood only." Harald replies, "Certainly I shall be in the
battle, for I am not so weak that I cannot handle the sword; and
as to that, I have a notion of tying the sword-handle to my hand.
None is more willing than I am to give the bondes a blow; so I
shall go with my comrades." It is said that Harald made these
"Our army's wing, where I shall stand,
I will hold good with heart and hand;
My mother's eye shall joy to see
A battered, blood-stained shield from me.
The brisk young skald should gaily go
Into the fray, give blow for blow,
Cheer on his men, gain inch by inch,
And from the spear-point never flinch."
Harald got his will, and was allowed to be in the battle.
(1) Hrut means a young ram. -- L.
222. OF THORGILS HALMASON.
A bonde, by name Thorgils Halmason, father to Grim the Good,
dwelt in Stiklestad farm. Thorgils offered the king his
assistance, and was ready to go into battle with him. The king
thanked him for the offer. "I would rather," says the king,
"thou shouldst not be in the fight. Do us rather the service to
take care of the people who are wounded, and to bury those who
may fall, when the battle is over. Should it happen, bonde, that
I fall in this battle, bestow the care on my body that may be
necessary, if that be not forbidden thee." Thorgils promised the
king what he desired.
223. OLAF'S SPEECH.
Now when King Olaf had drawn up his army in battle array he made
a speech, in which he told the people to raise their spirit, and
go boldly forward, if it came to a battle. "We have," says he,
"many men, and good; and although the bondes may have a somewhat
larger force than we, it is fate that rules over victory. This I
will make known to you solemnly, that I shall not fly from this
battle, but shall either be victorious over the bondes, or fall
in the fight. I will pray to God that the lot of the two may
befall me which will be most to my advantage. With this we may
encourage ourselves, that we have a more just cause than the
bondes; and likewise that God must either protect us and our
cause in this battle, or give us a far higher recompense for what
we may lose here in the world than what we ourselves could ask.
Should it be my lot to have anything to say after the battle,
then shall I reward each of you according to his service, and to
the bravery he displays in the battle; and if we gain the
victory, there must be land and movables enough to divide among
you, and which are now in the hands of your enemies. Let us at
the first make the hardest onset, for then the consequences are
soon seen. There being a great difference in the numbers, we
have to expect victory from a sharp assault only; and, on the
other hand, it will be heavy work for us to fight until we are
tired, and unable to fight longer; for we have fewer people to
relieve with than they, who can come forward at one time and
retreat and rest at another. But if we advance so hard at the
first attack that those who are foremost in their ranks must turn
round, then the one will fall over the other, and their
destruction will be the greater the greater numbers there are
together." When the king had ended his speech it was received
with loud applause, and the one encouraged the other.
224. OF THORD FOLASON.
Thord Folason carried King Olaf's banner. So says Sigvat the
skald, in the death-song which he composed about King Olaf, and
put together according to resurrection saga: --
"Thord. I have heard, by Olaf's side,
Where raged the battle's wildest tide,
Moved on, and, as by one accord
Moved with them every heart and sword.
The banner of the king on high,
Floating all splendid in the sky
From golden shaft, aloft he bore, --
The Norsemen's rallying-point of yore."
225. OF KING OLAF'S ARMOUR.
King Olaf was armed thus: -- He had a gold-mounted helmet on his
head; and had in one hand a white shield, on which the holy cross
was inlaid in gold. In his other hand he had a lance, which to
the present day stands beside the altar in Christ Church. In his
belt he had a sword, which was called Hneiter, which was
remarkably sharp, and of which the handle was worked with gold.
He had also a strong coat of ring-mail. Sigvat the skald, speaks
of this: --
"A greater victory to gain,
Olaf the Stout strode o'er the plain
In strong chain armour, aid to bring
To his brave men on either wing.
High rose the fight and battle-heat, --
the clear blood ran beneath the feet
Of Swedes, who from the East came there,
In Olaf's gain or loss to share."
226. KING OLAF'S DREAM.
Now when King Olaf had drawn up his men the army of the bondes
had not yet come near upon any quarter, so the king said the
people should sit down and rest themselves. He sat down himself,
and the people sat around him in a widespread crowd. He leaned
down, and laid his head upon Fin Arnason's knee. There a slumber
came upon him, and he slept a little while; but at the same time