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Heimskringla The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway by Snorri Sturlson

Part 13 out of 18

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league and partition, so that Harald should have half of Norway
with King Magnus, and that they should divide all their movable
property into two equal parts, he accepted the proposal, and the
people went back to King Magnus with this answer.


A little after this it happened that Harald and Svein one evening
were sitting at table drinking and talking together, and Svein
asked Harald what valuable piece of all his property he esteemed
the most.

He answered, it was his banner Land-waster.

Svein asked what was there remarkable about it, that he valued it
so highly.

Harald replied, it was a common saying that he must gain the
victory before whom that banner is borne, and it had turned out
so ever since he had owned it.

Svein replies, "I will begin to believe there is such virtue in
the banner when thou hast held three battles with thy relation
Magnus, and hast gained them all."

Then answered Harald with an angry voice, "I know my relationship
to King Magnus, without thy reminding me of it; and although we
are now going in arms against him, our meeting may be of a better

Svein changed colour, and said, "There are people, Harald, who
say that thou hast done as much before as only to hold that part
of an agreement which appears to suit thy own interest best."

Harald answers, "It becomes thee ill to say that I have not stood
by an agreement, when I know what King Magnus could tell of thy
proceedings with him."

Thereupon each went his own way. At night, when Harald went to
sleep within the bulwarks of his vessel, he said to his footboy,
"I will not sleep in my bed to-night, for I suspect there may be
treachery abroad. I observed this evening that my friend Svein
was very angry at my free discourse. Thou shalt keep watch,
therefore, in case anything happen in the night." Harald then
went away to sleep somewhere else, and laid a billet of wood in
his place. At midnight a boat rowed alongside to the ship's
bulwark; a man went on board, lifted up the cloth of the tent of
the bulwarks, went up, and struck in Harald's bed with a great
ax, so that it stood fast in the lump of wood. The man instantly
ran back to his boat again, and rowed away in the dark night, for
the moon was set; but the axe remained sticking in the piece of
wood as an evidence. Thereupon Harald waked his men and let them
know the treachery intended. "We can now see sufficiently," said
he, "that we could never match Svein if he practises such
deliberate treachery against us; so it will be best for us to get
away from this place while we can. Let us cast loose our vessel
and row away as quietly as possible." They did so, and rowed
during the night northwards along the land; and then proceeded
night and day until they came to King Magnus, where he lay with
his army. Harald went to his relation Magnus, and there was a
joyful meeting betwixt them. So says Thiodolf: --

"The far-known king the order gave,
In silence o'er the swelling wave,
With noiseless oars, his vessels gay
From Denmark west to row away;
And Olaf's son, with justice rare,
Offers with him the realm to share.
People, no doubt, rejoiced to find
The kings had met in peaceful mind."

Afterwards the two relatives conversed with each other and all
was settled by peaceful agreement.


King Magnus lay at the shore and had set up tents upon the land.
There he invited his relation, King Harald, to be his guest at
table; and Harald went to the entertainment with sixty of his men
and was feasted excellently. Towards the end of the day King
Magnus went into the tent where Harald sat and with him went men
carrying parcels consisting of clothes and arms. Then the king
went to the man who sat lowest and gave him a good sword, to the
next a shield, to the next a kirtle, and so on, -- clothes, or
weapons, or gold; to all he gave one or the other valuable gift,
and the more costly to the more distinguished men among them.
Then he placed himself before his relation Harald, holding two
sticks in his hand, and said, "Which of these two sticks wilt
thou have, my friend?"

Harald replies, "The one nearest me."

"Then," said King Magnus, "with this stick I give thee half of
the Norwegian power, with all the scat and duties, and all the
domains thereunto belonging, with the condition that everywhere
thou shalt be as lawful king in Norway as I am myself; but when
we are both together in one place, I shall be the first man in
seat, service and salutation; and if there be three of us
together of equal dignity, that I shall sit in the middle, and
shall have the royal tent-ground and the royal landing-place.
Thou shalt strengthen and advance our kingdom, in return for
making thee that man in Norway whom we never expected any man
should be so long as our head was above ground." Then Harald
stood up, and thanked him for the high title and dignity.
Thereupon they both sat down, and were very merry together. The
same evening Harald and his men returned to their ships.


The following morning King Magnus ordered the trumpets to sound
to a General Thing of the people; and when it was seated, he made
known to the whole army the gift he had given to his relation
Harald. Thorer of Steig gave Harald the title of King there at
the Thing; and the same day King Harald invited King Magnus to
table with him, and he went with sixty men to King Harald's
land-tent, where he had prepared a feast. The two kings sat
together on a high-seat, and the feast was splendid; everything
went on with magnificence, and the kings' were merry and glad.
Towards the close of the day King Harald ordered many caskets to
be brought into the tent, and in like manner people bore in
weapons, clothes and other sorts of valuables; and all these King
Harald divided among King Magnus's men who were at the feast.
Then he had the caskets opened and said to King Magnus,
"Yesterday you gave us a large kingdom, which your hand won from
your and our enemies, and took us in partnership with you, which
was well done; and this has cost you much. Now we on our side
have been in foreign parts, and oft in peril of life, to gather
together the gold which you here see. Now, King Magnus, I will
divide this with you. We shall both own this movable property,
and each have his equal share of it, as each has his equal half
share of Norway. I know that our dispositions are different, as
thou art more liberal than I am; therefore let us divide this
property equally between us, so that each may have his share free
to do with as he will." Then Harald had a large ox-hide spread
out, and turned the gold out of the caskets upon it. Then scales
and weights were taken and the gold separated and divided by
weight into equal parts; and all people wondered exceedingly that
so much gold should have come together in one place in the
northern countries. But it was understood that it was the Greek
emperor's property and wealth; for, as all people say, there are
whole houses there full of red gold. The kings were now very
merry. Then there appeared an ingot among the rest as big as a
man's hand. Harald took it in his hands and said, "Where is the
gold, friend Magnus, that thou canst show against this piece?"

King Magnus replied, "So many disturbances and levies have been
in the country that almost all the gold and silver I could lay up
is gone. I have no more gold in my possession than this ring."
And he took the ring off his hand and gave it to Harald.

Harald looked at it, and said, "That is but little gold, friend.
for the king who owns two kingdoms; and yet some may doubt
whether thou art rightful owner of even this ring."

Then King Magnus replied, after a little reflection, "If I be not
rightful owner of this ring, then I know not what I have got
right to; for my father, King Olaf the Saint, gave me this ring
at our last parting."

Then said King Harald, laughing, "It is true, King Magnus, what
thou sayest. Thy father gave thee this ring, but he took the
ring from my father for some trifling cause; and in truth it was
not a good time for small kings in Norway when thy father was in
full power."

King Harald gave Thorer of Steig at that feast a bowl of mountain
birch, that was encircled with a silver ring and had a silver
handle, both which parts were gilt; and the bowl was filled with
money of pure silver. With that came also two gold rings, which
together stood for a mark. He gave him also his cloak of dark
purple lined with white skins within, and promised him besides
his friendship and great dignity. Thorgils Snorrason, an
intelligent man, says he has seen an altar-cloth that was made of
this cloak; and Gudrid, a daughter of Guthorm, the son of Thorer
of Steig, said, according to Thorgil's account, that she had seen
this bowl in her father Guthorm's possession. Bolverk also tells
of these matters: --

"Thou, generous king, I have been told,
For the green land hast given gold;
And Magnus got a mighty treasure,
That thou one half might'st rule at pleasure.
The people gained a blessed peace,
Which 'twixt the kings did never cease;
While Svein, disturbed with war's alarms,
Had his folk always under arms."


The kings Magnus and Harald both ruled in Norway the winter after
their agreement (A.D. 1047), and each had his court. In winter
they went around the Upland country in guest-quarters; and
sometimes they were both together, sometimes each was for
himself. They went all the way north to Throndhjem, to the town
of Nidaros. King Magnus had taken special care of the holy
remains of King Olaf after he came to the country; had the hair
and nails clipped every twelve month, and kept himself the keys
that opened the shrine. Many miracles were worked by King Olaf's
holy remains. It was not long before there was a breach in the
good understanding between the two kings, as many were so
mischievous as to promote discord between them.


Svein Ulfson remained behind in the harbour after Harald had gone
away, and inquired about his proceedings. When he heard at last
of Magnus and Harald having agreed and joined their forces, he
steered with his forces eastward along Scania, and remained there
until towards winter, when he heard that King Magnus and King
Harald had gone northwards to Norway. Then Svein, with his
troops, came south to Denmark and took all the royal income that
winter (A.D. 1047).


Towards spring (A.D. 1047) King Magnus and his relation, King
Harald, ordered a levy in Norway. It happened once that the
kings lay all night in the same harbour and next day, King
Harald, being first ready, made sail. Towards evening he brought
up in the harbour in which Magnus and his retinue had intended to
pass the night. Harald laid his vessel in the royal ground, and
there set up his tents. King Magnus got under sail later in the
day and came into the harbour just as King Harald had done
pitching his tents. They saw then that King Harald had taken up
the king's ground and intended to lie there. After King Magnus
had ordered the sails to be taken in, he said, "The men will now
get ready along both sides of the vessel to lay out their oars,
and some will open the hatches and bring up the arms and arm
themselves; for, if they will not make way for us, we will fight
them." Now when King Harald sees that King Magnus will give him
battle, he says to his men, "Cut our land-fastenings and back the
ship out of the ground, for friend Magnus is in a passion." They
did so and laid the vessel out of the ground and King Magnus laid
his vessel in it. When they were now ready on both sides with
their business, King Harald went with a few men on board of King
Magnus's ship. King Magnus received him in a friendly way, and
bade him welcome. King Harald answered, "I thought we were come
among friends; but just now I was in doubt if ye would have it
so. But it is a truth that childhood is hasty, and I will only
consider it as a childish freak." Then said King Magnus, "It is
no childish whim, but a trait of my family, that I never forget
what I have given, or what I have not given. If this trifle had
been settled against my will, there would soon have followed'
some other discord like it. In all particulars I will hold the
agreement between us; but in the same way we will have all that
belongs to us by that right." King Harald coolly replied, that
it is an old custom for the wisest to give way; and returned to
his ship. From such circumstances it was found difficult to
preserve good understanding between the kings. King Magnus's men
said he was in the right; but others, less wise, thought there
was some slight put upon Harald in the business. King Harald's
men, besides, insisted that the agreement was only that King
Magnus should have the preference of the harbour-ground when they
arrived together, but that King Harald was not bound to draw out
of his place when he came first. They observed, also, that King
Harald had conducted himself well and wisely in the matter.
Those who viewed the business in the worst light insisted that
King Magnus wanted to break the agreement, and that he had done
King Harald injustice, and put an affront on him. Such disputes
were talked over so long among foolish people, that the spirit of
disagreeing affected the kings themselves. Many other things
also occurred, in which the kings appeared determined to have
each his own way; but of these little will be set down here.


The kings, Magnus and Harald, sailed with their fleet south to
Denmark; and when Svein heard of their approach, he fled away
east to Scania. Magnus and Harald remained in Denmark late in
summer, and subdued the whole country. In autumn they were in
Jutland. One night, as King Magnus lay in his bed, it appeared
to him in a dream that he was in the same place as his father,
Saint Olaf, and that he spoke to him thus: "Wilt thou choose, my
son, to follow me, or to become a mighty king, and have long
life; but to commit a crime which thou wilt never be able to
expiate?" He thought he made the answer, "Do thou, father,
choose for me." Then the king thought the answer was, "Thou
shalt follow me." King Magnus told his men this dream. Soon
after he fell sick and lay at a place called Sudathorp. When he
was near his death he sent his brother, Thorer, with tokens to
Svein Ulfson, with the request to give Thorer the aid he might
require. In this message King Magnus also gave the Danish
dominions to Svein after his death; and said it was just that
Harald should rule over Norway and Svein over Denmark. Then King
Magnus the Good died (A.D. 1047), and great was the sorrow of all
the people at his death. So says Od Kikinaskald: --

"The tears o'er good King Magnus' bier,
The people's tears, were all sincere:
Even they to whom he riches gave
Carried him heavily to the grave.
All hearts were struck at the king's end;
His house-thralls wept as for a friend;
His court-men oft alone would muse,
As pondering o'er unthought of news."


After this event King Harald held a Thing of his men-at-arms, and
told them his intention to go with the army to Viborg Thing, and
make himself be proclaimed king over the whole Danish dominions,
to which, he said, he had hereditary right after his relation
Magnus, as well as to Norway. He therefore asked his men for
their aid, and said he thought the Norway man should show himself
always superior to the Dane. Then Einar Tambaskelfer replies
that he considered it a greater duty to bring his foster-son King
Magnus's corpse to the grave, and lay it beside his father, King
Olaf's, north in Throndhjem town, than to be fighting abroad and
taking another king's dominions and property. He ended his
speech with saying that he would rather follow King Magnus dead
than any other king alive. Thereupon he had the body adorned in
the most careful way, so that most magnificent preparations were
made in the king's ship. Then all the Throndhjem people and all
the Northmen made themselves ready to return home with the king's
body, and so the army was broken up. King Harald saw then that
it was better for him to return to Norway to secure that kingdom
first, and to assemble men anew; and so King Harald returned to
Norway with all his army. As soon as he came to Norway he held a
Thing with the people of the country, and had himself proclaimed
king everywhere. He proceeded thus from the East through Viken,
and in every district in Norway he was named king. Einar
Tambaskelfer, and with him all the Throndhjem troops, went with
King Magnus's body and transported it to the town of Nidaros,
where it was buried in St. Clement's church, where also was the
shrine of King Olaf the Saint. King Magnus was of middle size,
of long and clear-complexioned countenance, and light hair, spoke
well and hastily, was brisk in his actions, and extremely
generous. He was a great warrior, and remarkably bold in arms.
He was the most popular of kings, prized even by enemies as well
as friends.


Svein Ulfson remained that autumn in Scania (A.D. 1047), and was
making ready to travel eastward to Sweden, with the intention of
renouncing the title of king he had assumed in Denmark; but just
as he was mounting his horse some men came riding to him with the
first news that King Magnus was dead, and all the Northmen had
left Denmark. Svein answered in haste, "I call God to witness
that I shall never again fly from the Danish dominions as long as
I live." Then he got on his horse and rode south into Scania,
where immediately many people crowded to him. That winter he
brought under his power all the Danish dominions, and all the
Danes took him for their king. Thorer, King Magnus's brother,
came to Svein in autumn with the message of King Magnus, as
before related, and was well received; and Thorer remained long
with Svein and was well taken care of.


King Harald Sigurdson took the royal power over all Norway after
the death of King Magnus Olafson; and when he had reigned over
Norway one winter and spring was come (A.D. 1048), he ordered a
levy through all the land of one-half of all men and ships and
went south to Jutland. He herried and burned all summer wide
around in the land and came into Godnarfjord, where King Harald
made these verses: --

"While wives of husbands fondly dream,
Here let us anchor in the stream,
In Godnarfjord; we'll safely moor
Our sea-homes, and sleep quite secure."

Then he spoke to Thiodolf, the skald, and asked him to add to it
what it wanted, and he sang: --

"In the next summer, I foresee,
Our anchorage in the South will be;
To hold our sea-homes on the ground,
More cold-tongued anchors will be found."

To this Bolverk alludes in his song also, that Harald went to
Denmark the summer after King Magnus's death. Bolverk sings
thus: --

"Next summer thou the levy raised,
And seawards all the people gazed,
Where thy sea-steeds in sunshine glancing
Over the waves were gaily prancing;
While the deep ships that plunder bore
Seemed black specks from the distant shore.
The Danes, from banks or hillocks green,
Looked with dismay upon the scene."


Then they burned the house of Thorkel Geysa, who was a great
lord, and his daughters they carried off bound to their ships.
They had made a great mockery the winter before of King Harald's
coming with war-ships against Denmark; and they cut their cheese
into the shape of anchors, and said such anchors might hold all
the ships of the Norway king. Then this was composed: --

"The Island-girls, we were told,
Made anchors all our fleet to hold:
Their Danish jest cut out in cheese
Did not our stern king's fancy please.
Now many a maiden fair, may be,
Sees iron anchors splash the sea,
Who will not wake a maid next morn
To laugh at Norway's ships in scorn."

It is said that a spy who had seen the fleet of King Harald said
to Thorkel Geysa's daughters, "Ye said, Geysa's daughters, that
King Harald dared not come to Denmark." Dotta, Thorkel's
daughter, replied, "That was yesterday." Thorkel had to ransom
his daughters with a great sum. So says Grane: --

"The gold-adorned girl's eye
Through Hornskeg wood was never dry,
As down towards the sandy shore
The men their lovely prizes bore.
The Norway leader kept at bay
The foe who would contest the way,
And Dotta's father had to bring
Treasure to satisfy the king."

King Harald plundered in Denmark all that summer, and made
immense booty; but he had not any footing in the land that summer
in Denmark. He went to Norway again in autumn and remained there
all winter (A.D. 1049).


The winter after King Magnus the Good died, King Harald took
Thora, daughter of Thorberg Arnason, and they had two sons; the
oldest called Magnus, and the other Olaf. King Harald and Queen
Ellisif had two daughters; the one Maria, the other Ingegerd.
The spring after the foray which has just been related King
Harald ordered the people out and went with them to Denmark (A.D.
1049), and herried there, and did so summer after summer
thereafter. So says Stuf, the skald: --

"Falster lay waste, as people tell, --
The raven in other isles fared well.
The Danes were everywhere in fear,
For the dread foray every year."


King Svein ruled over all the Danish dominions after King
Magnus's death. He sat quiet all the winter; but in summer he
lay out in his ships with all his people and it was said he would
go north to Norway with the Danish army and make not less havoc
there than King Harald had made in Denmark. King Svein proposed
to King Harald in winter (A.D. 1049) to meet him the following
summer at the Gaut river and fight until in the battle-field
their differences were ended, or they were settled peacefully.
They made ready on both sides all winter with their ships, and
called out in summer one-half of all the fighting men. The same
summer came Thorleik the Fair out of Iceland, and composed a poem
about King Svein Ulfson. He heard, when he arrived in Norway,
that King Harald had sailed south to the Gaut river against King
Svein. Then Thorleik sang this: --

"The wily Svein, I think, will meet
These inland Norsemen fleet to fleet;
The arrow-storm, and heaving sea,
His vantage-fight and field will be.
God only knows the end of strife,
Or which shall have his land and life;
This strife must come to such an end,
For terms will never bind King Svein."

He also sang these verses: --

"Harald, whose red shield oft has shone
O'er herried coasts, and fields hard won,
Rides in hot wrath, and eager speeds
O'er the blue waves his ocean-steeds.
Svein, who in blood his arrows stains,
Brings o'er the ocean's heaving plains
His gold-beaked ships, which come in view
Out from the Sound with many a hue."

King Harald came with his forces to the appointed meeting-place;
but there he heard that King Svein was lying with his fleet at
the south side of Seeland. Then King Harald divided his forces;
let the greater part of the bonde-troops return home; and took
with him his court-men, his lendermen, the best men-at-arms, and
all the bonde-troops who lived nearest to the Danish land. They
sailed over to Jutland to the south of Vendilskage, and so south
to Thioda; and over all they carried fire and sword. So says
Stuf, the skald: --

"In haste the men of Thyland fly
From the great monarch's threat'ning eye;
At the stern Harald's angry look
The boldest hearts in Denmark shook."

They went forward all the way south to Heidaby, took the merchant
town and burnt it. Then one of Harald's men made the following
verses: --

"All Heidaby is burned down!
Strangers will ask where stood the town.
In our wild humour up it blazed,
And Svein looks round him all amazed.
All Heidaby is burned down!
From a far corner of the town
I saw, before the peep of morning,
Roofs, walls, and all in flame high burning."

To this also Thorleik alludes in his verses, when he heard there
had been no battle at the Gaut river: --

"The stranger-warrior may inquire
Of Harald's men, why in his ire
On Heidaby his wrath he turns,
And the fair town to ashes burns?
Would that the day had never come
When Harald's ships returned home
From the East Sea, since now the town,
Without his gain, is burned down!"


Then King Harald sailed north and had sixty ships and the most of
them large and heavily laden with the booty taken in summer; and
as they sailed north past Thioda King Svein came down from the
land with a great force and he challenged King Harald to land and
fight. King Harald had little more than half the force of King
Svein and therefore he challenged Svein to fight at sea. So says
Thorleik the Fair: --

"Svein, who of all men under heaven
Has had the luckiest birth-hour given,
Invites his foemen to the field,
There to contest with blood-stained shield.
The king, impatient of delay,
Harald, will with his sea-hawks stay;
On board will fight, and fate decide
If Svein shall by his land abide."

After that King Harald sailed north along Vendilskage; and the
wind then came against them, and they brought up under Hlesey,
where they lay all night. A thick fog lay upon the sea; and when
the morning came and the sun rose they saw upon the other side of
the sea as if many lights were burning. This was told to King
Harald; and he looked at it, and said immediately, "Strike the
tilts down on the ships and take to the oars. The Danish forces
are coming upon us, and the fog there where they are must have
cleared off, and the sun shines upon the dragon-heads of their
ships, which are gilded, and that is what we see." It was so as
he had said. Svein had come there with a prodigious armed force.
They rowed now on both sides all they could. The Danish ships
flew lighter before the oars; for the Northmen's ships were both
soaked with water and heavily laden, so that the Danes approached
nearer and nearer. Then Harald, whose own dragon-ship was the
last of the fleet, saw that he could not get away; so he ordered
his men to throw overboard some wood, and lay upon it clothes and
other good and valuable articles; and it was so perfectly calm
that these drove about with the tide. Now when the Danes saw
their own goods driving about on the sea, they who were in
advance turned about to save them; for they thought it was easier
to take what was floating freely about, than to go on board the
Northmen to take it. They dropped rowing and lost ground. Now
when King Svein came up to them with his ship, he urged them on,
saying it would be a great shame if they, with so great a force,
could not overtake and master so small a number. The Danes then
began again to stretch out lustily at their oars. When King
Harald saw that the Danish ships went faster he ordered his men
to lighten their ships, and cast overboard malt, wheat, bacon,
and to let their liquor run out, which helped a little. Then
Harald ordered the bulwarkscreens, the empty casks and puncheons
and the prisoners to be thrown overboard; and when all these were
driving about on the sea, Svein ordered help to be given to save
the men. This was done; but so much time was lost that they
separated from each other. The Danes turned back and the
Northmen proceeded on their way. So says Thorleik the Fair: --

"Svein drove his foes from Jutland's coast, --
The Norsemen's ships would have been lost,
But Harald all his vessels saves,
Throwing his booty on the waves.
The Jutlanders saw, as he threw,
Their own goods floating in their view;
His lighten'd ships fly o'er the main
While they pick up their own again."

King Svein returned southwards with his ships to Hlesey, where he
found seven ships of the Northmen, with bondes and men of the
levy. When King Svein came to them they begged for mercy, and
offered ransom for themselves. So says Thorleik the Fair: --

"The stern king's men good offers make,
If Svein will ransom for them take;
Too few to fight, they boldly say
Unequal force makes them give way.
The hasty bondes for a word
Would have betaken them to the sword,
And have prolonged a bloody strife --
Such men can give no price for life."


King Harald was a great man, who ruled his kingdom well in home-
concerns. Very prudent was he, of good understanding; and it is
the universal opinion that no chief ever was in northern lands of
such deep judgment and ready counsel as Harald. He was a great
warrior; bold in arms; strong and expert in the use of his
weapons beyond any others, as has been before related, although
many of the feats of his manhood are not here written down. This
is owing partly to our uncertainty about them, partly to our wish
not to put stories into this book for which there is no
testimony. Although we have heard, many things talked about, and
even circumstantially related, yet we think it better that
something may be added to, than that it should be necessary to
take something away from our narrative. A great part of his
history is put in verse by Iceland men, which poems they
presented to him or his sons, and for which reason he was their
great friend. He was, indeed. a great friend to all the people
of that country; and once, when a very dear time set in, he
allowed four ships to transport meal to Iceland, and fixed that
the shippund should not be dearer than 100 ells of wadmal. He
permitted also all poor people, who could find provisions to keep
them on the voyage across the sea, to emigrate from Iceland to
Norway; and from that time there was better subsistence in the
country, and the seasons also turned out better. King Harold
also sent from Norway a bell for the church of which Olaf the
Saint had sent the timbers to Iceland, and which was erected on
the Thing-plain. Such remembrances of King Harald are found here
in the country, besides many great gifts which he presented to
those who visited him.


Haldor Snorrason and Ulf Uspakson, as before related, came to
Norway with King Harald. They were, in many respects, of
different dispositions. Haldor was very stout and strong, and
remarkably handsome in appearance. King Harald gave him this
testimony, that he, among all his men, cared least about doubtful
circumstances, whether they betokened danger or pleasure; for,
whatever turned up, he was never in higher nor in lower spirits,
never slept less nor more on account of them, nor ate or drank
but according to his custom. Haldor was not a man of many words,
but short in conversation, told his opinion bluntly and was
obstinate and hard; and this could not please the king, who had
many clever people about him zealous in his service. Haldor
remained a short time with the king; and then came to Iceland,
where he took up his abode in Hjardarholt, and dwelt in that farm
to a very advanced age.


Ulf Uspakson stood in great esteem with King Harald; for he was a
man of great understanding, clever in conversation, active and
brave, and withal true and sincere. King Harald made Ulf his
marshal, and married him to Jorun, Thorberg's daughter, a sister
of Harald's wife, Thora. Ulf and Jorun's children were Joan the
Strong of Rasvol, and Brigida, mother of Sauda-Ulf, who was
father of Peter Byrdar-Svein, father of Ulf Fly and Sigrid. Joan
the Strong's son was Erlend Himalde, father of Archbishop Eystein
and his brothers. King Harald gave Ulf the marshal the rights of
a lenderman and a fief of twelve marks income, besides a half-
district in the Throndhjem land. Of this Stein Herdison speaks
in his song about Ulf.


King Magnus Olafson built Olaf's church in the town (Nidaros), on
the spot where Olaf's body was set down for the night, and which,
at that time, was above the town. He also had the king's house
built there. The church was not quite finished when the king
died; but King Harald had what was wanting completed. There,
beside the house, he began to construct a stone hall, but it was
not finished when he died. King Harald had the church called
Mary Church built from the foundations up, at the sandhill close
to the spot where the king's holy remains were concealed in the
earth the first winter after his fall. It was a large temple,
and so strongly built with lime that it was difficult to break it
when the Archbishop Eystein had it pulled down. Olaf's holy
remains were kept in Olaf's church while Mary Church was
building. King Harald had the king's house erected below Mary
Kirk, at the side of the river, where it now is; and he had the
house in which he had made the great hall consecrated and called
Gregorius Church.


There was a man called Ivar the White, who was a brave lenderman
dwelling in the Uplands, and was a daughter's son of Earl Hakon
the Great. Ivar was the handsomest man that could be seen.
Ivar's son was called Hakon; and of him it was said that he was
distinguished above all men then in Norway for beauty, strength
and perfection of figure. In his very youth he had been sent out
on war expeditions, where he acquired great honour and
consideration, and became afterwards one of the most celebrated


Einar Tambaskelfer was the most powerful lenderman in the
Throndhjem land. There was but little friendship between him and
King Harald, although Einar retained all the fiefs he had held
while Magnus the Good lived. Einar had many large estates, and
was married to Bergliot, a daughter of Earl Hakon, as related
above. Their son Eindride was grown up, and married to Sigrid, a
daughter of Ketil Kalf and Gunhild, King Harald's sister's
daughter. Eindride had inherited the beauty of his mother's
father, Earl Hakon, and his sons; and in size and strength he
took after his father, Einar, and also in all bodily perfections
by which Einar had been distinguished above other men. He was,
also, as well as his father, the most popular of men, which the
sagas, indeed, show sufficiently.


Orm was at that time earl in the Uplands. His mother was
Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hakon the Great, and Orm was a
remarkably clever man. Aslak Erlingson was then in Jadar at
Sole, and was married to Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Svein
Hakonson. Gunhild, Earl Svein's other daughter, was married to
the Danish king, Svein Ulfson. These were the descendants of
Earl Hakon at that time in Norway, besides many other
distinguished people; and the whole race was remarkable for their
very beautiful appearance, and the most of them were gifted with
great bodily perfection, and were all distinguished and important


King Harald was very proud, and his pride increased after he was
established in the country; and it came so far that at last it
was not good to speak against him, or to propose anything
different from what he desired. So says Thiodolf, the skald: --

"In arms 'tis right the common man
Should follow orders, one by one, --
Should stoop or rise, or run or stand,
As his war-leader may command;
But now to the king who feeds the ravens
The people bend like heartless cravens --
Nothing is left them, but consent
To what the king calls his intent."


Einar Tambaskelfer was the principal man among the bondes all
about Throndhjem, and answered for them at the Things even
against the king's men. Einar knew well the law, and did not
want boldness to bring forward his opinion at Things, even if the
king was present; and all the bondes stood by him. The king was
very angry at this, and it came so far that they disputed eagerly
against each other. Einar said that the bondes would not put up
with any unlawful proceedings from him if he broke through the
law of the land; and this occurred several times between them.
Einar then began to keep people about him at home, and he had
many more when he came into the town if the king was there. It
once happened that Einar came to the town with a great many men
and ships; he had with him eight or nine great war-ships and
nearly 500 men. When he came to the town he went up from the
strand with his attendants. King Harald was then in his house,
standing out in the gallery of the loft; and when he saw Einar's
people going on shore, it is said Harald composed these verses:

"I see great Tambaskelfer go,
With mighty pomp, and pride, and show,
Across the ebb-shore up the land, --
Before, behind, an armed band.
This bonde-leader thinks to rule,
And fill himself the royal stool.
A goodly earl I have known
With fewer followers of his own.
He who strikes fire from the shield,
Einar, may some day make us yield,
Unless our axe-edge quickly ends,
With sudden kiss, what he intends."

Einar remained several days in the town.


One day there was a meeting held in the town, at which the king
himself was present. A thief had been taken in the town, and he
was brought before the Thing. The man had before been in the
service of Einar, who had been very well satisfied with him.
This was told to Einar, and he well knew the king would not let
the man off, and more because he took an interest in the matter.
Einar, therefore, let his men get under arms, went to the Thing,
and took the man by force. The friends on both sides then came
between and endeavoured to effect a reconciliation; and they
succeeded so far that a meeting-place was appointed, to which
both should come. There was a Thing-room in the king's house at
the river Nid, and the king went into it with a few men, while
the most of his people were out in the yard. The king ordered
the shutters of the loft-opening to be turned, so that there was
but a little space left clear. When Einar came into the yard
with his people, he told his son Eindride to remain outside with
the men, "for there is no danger here for me." Eindride remained
standing outside at the room-door. When Einar came into the
Thing-room, he said, "It is dark in the king's Thing-room." At
that moment some men ran against him and assaulted him, some with
spears, some with swords. When Eindride heard this he drew his
sword and rushed into the room; but he was instantly killed along
with his father. The king's men then ran up and placed
themselves before the door, and the bondes lost courage, having
no leader. They urged each other on, indeed, and said it was a
shame they should not avenge their chief; but it came to nothing
with their attack. The king went out to his men, arrayed them in
battle order, and set up his standard: but the bondes did not
venture to assault. Then the king went with all his men on board
of his ships, rowed down the river, and then took his way out of
the fjord. When Einar's wife Bergliot, who was in the house
which Einar had possessed in the town, heard of Einar's fall, she
went immediately to the king's house where the bondes army was
and urged them to the attack; but at the same moment the king was
rowing out of the river. Then said Bergliot, "Now we want here
my relation, Hakon Ivarson: Einar's murderer would not be rowing
out of the river if Ivar stood here on the riverbank." Then
Bergliot adorned Einar's and Eindride's corpses and buried them
in Olaf's church, beside King Magnus Olafson's burial-place.
After Einar's murder the king was so much disliked for that deed
that there was nothing that prevented the lendermen and bondes
from attacking the king, and giving him battle, but the want of
some leader to raise the banner in the bonde army.


Fin Arnason dwelt at Austrat in Yrjar, and was King Harald's
lenderman there. Fin was married to Bergliot, a daughter of
Halfdan, who was a son of Sigurd Syr, and brother of Olaf the
Saint and of King Harald. Thora, King Harald's wife, was Fin
Arnason's brother's daughter: and Fin and all his brothers were
the king's dearest friends. Fin Arnason had been for some
summers on a viking cruise in the West sea; and Fin, Guthorm
Gunhildson and Hakon Ivarson had all been together on that
cruise. King Harald now proceeded out of Throndhjem fjord to
Austrat, where he was well received. Afterwards the king and Fin
conversed with each other about this new event of Einar's and his
son's death, and of the murmuring and threatening which the
bondes made against the king.

Fin took up the conversation briskly, and said, "Thou art
managing ill in two ways: first, in doing all manner of mischief;
and next, in being so afraid that thou knowest not what to do."

The king replied, laughing, "I will send thee, friend, into the
town to bring about a reconciliation with the bondes; and if that
will not do, thou must go to the Uplands and bring matters to
such an understanding with Hakon Ivarson that he shall not be my

Fin replies, "And how wilt thou reward me if I undertake this
dangerous errand; for both the people of Throndhjem and the
people of Upland are so great enemies to thee that it would not
be safe for any of thy messengers to come among them, unless he
were one who would be spared for his own sake?"

The king replies, "Go thou on this embassy, for I know thou wilt
succeed in it if any man can, and bring about a reconciliation;
and then choose whatever favour from us thou wilt."

Fin says, "Hold thou thy word, king, and I will choose my
petition. I will desire to have peace and safe residence in the
country for my brother Kalf, and all his estates restored; and
also that he receive all the dignity and power he had when he
left the country."

The king assented to all that Fin laid down, and it was confirmed
by witnesses and shake of hand.

Then said Fin, "What shall I offer Hakon, who rules most among
his relations in the land, to induce him to agree to a treaty and
reconciliation with thee?"

The king replies, "Thou shalt first hear what Hakon on his part
requires for making an agreement; then promote my interest as
thou art best able; and deny him nothing in the end short of the

Then King Harald proceeded southwards to More, and drew together
men in considerable numbers.


Fin Arnason proceeded to the town and had with him his house-
servants, nearly eighty men. When he came into the town he held
a Thing with the town's people. Fin spoke long and ably at the
Thing; and told the town's people, and bondes, above all things
not to have a hatred against their king, or to drive him away.
He reminded them of how much evil they had suffered by acting
thus against King Olaf the Saint; and added, that the king was
willing to pay penalty for this murder, according to the judgment
of understanding and good men. The effect of Fin's speech was
that the bondes promised to wait quietly until the messengers
came back whom Bergliot had sent to the Uplands to her relative,
Hakon Ivarson. Fin then went out to Orkadal with the men who had
accompanied him to the town. From thence he went up to
Dovrefield, and eastwards over the mountains. He went first to
his son-in-law, Earl Orm, who was married to Sigrid, Fin's
daughter, and told him his business.


Then Fin and Earl Orm appointed a meeting with Hakon Ivarson; and
when they met Fin explained his errand to Hakon, and the offer
which King Harald made him. It was soon seen, from Hakon's
speech, that he considered it to be his great duty to avenge the
death of his relative, Eindride; and added, that word was come to
him from Throndhjem, from which he might expect help in making
head against the king. Then Fin represented to Hakon how much
better it would be for him to accept of as high a dignity from
the king as he himself could desire, rather than to attempt
raising a strife against the king to whom he was owing service
and duty. He said if he came out of the conflict without
victory, he forfeited life and property: "And even if thou hast
the victory, thou wilt still be called a traitor to thy
sovereign." Earl Orm also supported Fin's speech. After Hakon
had reflected upon this he disclosed what lay on his mind, and
said, "I will be reconciled with King Harald if he will give me
in marriage his relation Ragnhild, King Magnus Olafson's
daughter, with such dower as is suitable to her and she will be
content with." Fin said he would agree to this on the king's
part; and thus it was settled among them. Fin then returned to
Throndhjem, and the disturbance and enmity was quashed, so that
the king could retain his kingdom in peace at home; and the
league was broken which Eindride's relations had made among
themselves for opposing King Harald.


When the day arrived for the meeting at which this agreement with
Harald should be finally concluded, Hakon went to King Harald;
and in their conference the king said that he, for his part,
would adhere to all that was settled in their agreement. "Thou
Hakon," says he, "must thyself settle that which concerns
Ragnhild, as to her accepting thee in marriage; for it would not
be advisable for thee, or for any one, to marry Ragnhild without
her consent." Then Hakon went to Ragnhild, and paid his
addresses to her. She answered him thus: "I have often to feel
that my father, King Magnus, is dead and gone from me, since I
must marry a bonde; although I acknowledge thou art a handsome
man, expert in all exercises. But if King Magnus had lived he
would not have married me to any man less than a king; so it is
not to be expected that I will take a man who has no dignity or
title." Then Hakon went to King Harald and told him his
conversation with Ragnhild, and also repeated the agreement which
was made between him and Fin, who was with him, together with
many others of the persons who had been present at the
conversation between him and Fin. Hakon takes them all to
witness that such was the agreement that the king should give
Ragnhild the dower she might desire. "And now since she will
have no man who has not a high dignity, thou must give me such a
title of honour; and, according to the opinion of the people, I
am of birth, family and other qualifications to be called earl."

The king replies, "When my brother, King Olaf, and his son, King
Magnus, ruled the kingdom, they allowed only one earl at a time
to be in the country, and I have done the same since I came to
the kingly title; and I will not take away from Orm the title of
honour I had before given him."

Hakon saw now that his business had not advanced, and was very
ill pleased; and Fin was outrageously angry. They said the king
had broken his word; and thus they all separated.


Hakon then went out of the country with a well-manned ship. When
he came to Denmark he went immediately to his relative, King
Svein, who received him honourably and gave him great fiefs.
Hakon became King Svein's commander of the coast defence against
the vikings, -- the Vindland people, Kurland people, and others
from the East countries, -- who infested the Danish dominions;
and he lay out with his ships of war both winter and summer.


There was a man called Asmund, who is said to have been King
Svein's sister's son, and his foster-son. This Asmund was
distinguished among all by his boldness and was much disliked by
the king. When Asmund came to years, and to age of discretion,
he became an ungovernable person given to murder and
manslaughter. The king was ill pleased at this, and sent him
away, giving him a good fief, which might keep him and his
followers well. As soon as Asmund had got this property from the
king he drew together a large troop of people; and as the estate
he had got from the king was not sufficient for his expenses he
took as his own much more which belonged to the king. When the
king heard this he summoned Asmund to him, and when they met the
king said that Asmund should remain with the court without
keeping any retinue of his own; and this took place as the king
desired. But when Asmund had been a little time in the king's
court he grew weary of being there, and escaped in the night,
returned to his former companions and did more mischief than
ever. Now when the king was riding through the country he came
to the neighbourhood where Asmund was, and he sent out men-at-
arms to seize him. The king then had him laid in irons, and kept
him so for some time in hope he would reform; but no sooner did
Asmund get rid of his chains than he absconded again, gathered
together people and men-at-arms and betook himself to plunder,
both abroad and at home. Thus he made great forays, killing and
plundering all around. When the people who suffered under these
disturbances came to the king and complained to him of their
losses, he replied, "Why do ye tell me of this? Why don't you go
to Hakon Ivarson, who is my officer for the land-defence, placed
on purpose to keep the peace for you peasants, and to hold the
vikings in check? I was told that Hakon was a gallant and brave
man, but I think he is rather shy when any danger of life is in
the way." These words of the king were brought to Hakon, with
many additions. Then Hakon went with his men in search of
Asmund, and when their ships met Hakon gave battle immediately --
and the conflict was sharp, and many men were killed. Hakon
boarded Asmund's ship and cut down the men before his feet. At
last he and Asmund met and exchanged blows until Asmund fell.
Hakon cut off his head, went in all haste to King Svein and found
him just sitting down to the dinner-table. Hakon presented
himself before the table, laid Asmund's head upon the table
before the king, and asked if he knew it. The king made no
reply, but became as red as blood in the face. Soon after the
king sent him a message, ordering him to leave his service
immediately. "Tell him I will do him no harm; but I cannot keep
watch over all our relations (1).

(1) This incident shows how strong, in those ages, was the tie
of relationship, and the point of honour of avenging its
injuries -- the clanship spirit. -- L.


Hakon then left Denmark, and came north to his estates in Norway.
His relation Earl Orm was dead. Hakon's relations and friends
were glad to see Hakon, and many gallant men gave themselves much
trouble to bring about a reconciliation between King Harald and
Hakon. It was at last settled in this way, that Hakon got
Ragnhild, the king's daughter, and that King Harald gave Hakon
the earldom, with the same power Earl Orm had possessed. Hakon
swore to King Harald an oath of fidelity to all the services he
was liable to fulfill.


Kalf Arnason had been on a viking cruise to the Western countries
ever since he had left Norway; but in winter he was often in the
Orkney Islands with his relative, Earl Thorfin. Fin Arnason sent
a message to his brother Kalf, and told him the agreement which
he had made with King Harald, that Kalf should enjoy safety in
Norway, and his estates, and all the fiefs he had held from King
Magnus. When this message came to Kalf he immediately got ready
for his voyage, and went east to Norway to his brother Fin. Then
Fin obtained the king's peace for Kalf, and when Kalf and the
king met they went into the agreement which Fin and the king had
settled upon before. Kalf bound himself to the king in the same
way as he had bound himself to serve King Magnus, according to
which Kalf should do all that the king desired and considered of
advantage to his realm. Thereupon Kalf received all the estates
and fiefs he had before.


The summer following (A.D. 1050) King Harald ordered out a levy,
and went to Denmark, where he plundered during the summer; but
when he came south to Fyen he found a great force assembled
against him. Then the king prepared to land his men from the
ships and to engage in a land-fight. He drew up his men on board
in order of battle; set Kalf Arnason at the head of one division;
ordered him to make the first attack, and told him where they
should direct their assault, promising that he would soon make a
landing with the others, and come to their assistance. When Kalf
came to the land with his men a force came down immediately to
oppose them, and Kalf without delay engaged in battle, which,
however, did not last long; for Kalf was immediately overpowered
by numbers, and betook himself to flight with his men. The Danes
pursued them vigorously, and many of the Northmen fell, and among
them Kalf Arnason. Now King Harald landed with his array; and
they soon came on their way to the field of battle, where they
found Kalf's body, and bore it down to the ships. But the king
penetrated into the country, killing many people and destroying
much. So says Arnor: --

"His shining sword with blood he stains,
Upon Fyona's grassy plains;
And in the midst of fire and smoke,
The king Fyona's forces broke."


After this Fin Arnason thought he had cause to be an enemy of the
king upon account of his brother Kalf's death; and said the king
had betrayed Kalf to his fall, and had also deceived him by
making him entice his brother Kalf to come over from the West and
trust to King Harald's faith. When these speeches came out among
people, many said that it was very foolish in Fin to have ever
supposed that Kalf could obtain the king's sincere friendship and
favour; for they thought the king was the man to seek revenge for
smaller offences than Kalf had committed against the king. The
king let every one say what he chose, and he himself neither said
yes or no about the affair; but people perceived that the king
was very well pleased with what had happened. King Harald once
made these verses: --

"I have, in all, the death-stroke given
To foes of mine at least eleven;
Two more, perhaps, if I remember,
May yet be added to this number,
I prize myself upon these deeds,
My people such examples needs.
Bright gold itself they would despise,
Or healing leek-herb underprize,
If not still brought before their eyes."

Fin Arnason took the business so much to heart that he left the
country and went to Denmark to King Svein, where he met a
friendly reception. They spoke together in private for a long
time; and the end of the business was that Fin went into King
Svein's service, and became his man. King Svein then gave Fin an
earldom, and placed him in Halland, where he was long earl and
defended the country against the Northmen.


Ketil Kalf and Gunhild of Ringanes had a son called Guthorm, and
he was a sister's son to King Olaf and Harald Sigurdson. Guthorm
was a gallant man, early advanced to manhood. He was often with
King Harald, who loved him much, and asked his advice; for he was
of good understanding, and very popular. Guthorm had also been
engaged early in forays, and had marauded much in the Western
countries with a large force. Ireland was for him a land of
peace; and he had his winter quarters often in Dublin, and was in
great friendship with King Margad.


The summer after King Margad, and Guthorm with him, went out on
an expedition against Bretland, where they made immense booty.
But when the king saw the quantity of silver which was gathered
he wanted to have the whole booty, and regarded little his
friendship for Guthorm. Guthorm was ill pleased that he and his
men should be robbed of their share; but the king said, "Thou
must choose one of two things, -- either to be content with what
we determine, or to fight; and they shall have the booty who gain
the victory; and likewise thou must give up thy ships, for them I
will have." Guthorm thought there were great difficulties on
both sides; for it was disgraceful to give up ships and goods
without a stroke, and yet it was highly dangerous to fight the
king and his force, the king having sixteen ships and Guthorm
only five. Then Guthorm desired three days' time to consider the
matter with his people, thinking in that time to pacify the king,
and come to a better understanding with him through the mediation
of others; but he could not obtain from the king what he desired.
This was the day before St. Olaf's day. Guthorm chose the
condition that they would rather die or conquer like men, than
suffer disgrace, contempt and scorn, by submitting to so great a
loss. He called upon God, and his uncle Saint Olaf, and
entreated their help and aid; promising to give to the holy man's
house the tenth of all the booty that fell to their share, if
they gained the victory. Then he arranged his men, placed them
in battle order against the great force, prepared for battle, and
gave the assault. By the help of God, and the holy Saint Olaf,
Guthorm won the battle. King Margad fell, and every man, old and
young, who followed him; and after that great victor, Guthorm and
all his people returned home joyfully with all the booty they had
gained by the battle. Every tenth penny of the booty they had
made was taken, according to the vow, to King Olaf the Saint's
shrine; and there was so much silver that Guthorm had an image
made of it, with rays round the head, which was the size of his
own, or of his forecastle-man's head; and the image was seven
feet high. The image thus produced was given by Guthorm to King
Olaf of the Saint's temple, where it has since remained as a
memorial of Guthorm's victory and King Olaf the Saint's miracle.


There was a wicked, evil-minded count in Denmark who had a
Norwegian servant-girl whose family belonged to Throndhjem
district. She worshipped King Olaf the Saint, and believed
firmly in his sanctity. But the above mentioned count doubted
all that was told of the holy man's miracles, insisted that it
was nothing but nonsense and idle talk, and made a joke and scorn
of the esteem and honour which all the country people showed the
good king. Now when his holyday came, on which the mild monarch
ended his life, and which all Northmen kept sacred, this
unreasonable count would not observe it, but ordered his servant-
girl to bake and put fire in the oven that day. She knew well
the count's mad passion, and that he would revenge himself
severely on her if she refused doing as he ordered. She went,
therefore, of necessity, and baked in the oven, but wept much at
her work; and she threatened King Olaf that she never would
believe in him, if he did not avenge this misdeed by some
mischance or other. And now shall ye come to hear a well-
deserved vengeance, and a true miracle. It happened, namely, in
the same hour that the count became blind of both eyes, and the
bread which she had shoved into the oven was turned into stone!
Of these stones some are now in St. Olaf's temple, and in other
places; and since that time O1afsmas has been always held holy in


West in Valland, a man had such bad health that he became a
cripple, and went on his knees and elbows. One day he was upon
the road, and had fallen asleep. He dreamt that a gallant man
came up to him and asked him where he was going. When he named
the neighbouring town, the man said to him, "Go to Saint Olaf's
church that stands in London, and there thou shalt be cured."
There-upon he awoke, and went straightway to inquire the road to
Olaf's church in London. At last he came to London Bridge, and
asked the men of the castle if they could tell him where Olaf's
church was; but they replied, there were so many churches that
they could not tell to whom each of them was consecrated. Soon
after a man came up and asked him where he wanted to go, and he
answered to Olaf's church. Then said the man, "We shall both go
together to Olaf's church, for I know the way to it." Thereupon
they went over the bridge to the shrine where Olaf's church was;
and when they came to the gates of the churchyard the man mounted
over the half-door that was in the gate, but the cripple rolled
himself in, and rose up immediately sound and strong: when he
looked about him his conductor had vanished.


King Harald had built a merchant town in the East at Oslo, where
he often resided; for there was good supply from the extensive
cultivated district wide around. There also he had a convenient
station to defend the country against the Danes, or to make an
attack upon Denmark, which he was in the custom of doing often,
although he kept no great force on foot. One summer King Harald
went from thence with a few light ships and a few men. He
steered southwards out from Viken, and, when the wind served,
stood over to Jutland, and marauded; but the country people
collected and defended the country. Then King Harald steered to
Limfjord, and went into the fjord. Limfjord is so formed that
its entrance is like a narrow river; but when one gets farther
into the fjord it spreads out into a wide sea. King Harald
marauded on both sides of the land; and when the Danes gathered
together on every side to oppose him, he lay at a small island
which was uncultivated. They wanted drink on board his ships,
and went up into the island to seek water; but finding none, they
reported it to the king. He ordered them to look for some long
earthworms on the island, and when they found one they brought it
to the king. He ordered the people to bring the worm to a fire,
and bake it before it, so that it should be thirsty. Then he
ordered a thread to be tied round the tail of the worm, and to
let it loose. The worm crept away immediately, while thread
wound off from the clew as the worm took it away; and the people
followed the worm until it sought downwards in the earth. There
the king ordered them to dig for water, which they did, and found
so much water that they had no want of it. King Harald now heard
from his spies that King Svein was come with a large armament to
the mouth of the fjord; but that it was too late for him to come
into it, as only one ship at a time can come in. King Harald
then steered with his fleet in through the fjord to where it was
broadest to a place called Lusbreid. In the inmost bight, there
is but a narrow neck of land dividing the fjord from the West
sea. Thither King Harald rowed with his men towards evening; and
at night when it was dark he unloaded his ships, drew them over
the neck of land into the West sea, loaded them again, and was
ready with all this before day. He then steered northwards along
the Jutland coast. People then said that Harald had escaped from
the hands of the Danes. Harald said that he would come to
Denmark next time with more people and larger vessels. King
Harald then proceeded north to Throndhjem.


King Harald remained all winter at Nidaros (A.D. 1062) and had a
vessel built out upon the strand, and it was a buss. The ship
was built of the same size as the Long Serpent, and every part of
her was finished with the greatest care. On the stem was a
dragon-head, and on the stern a dragon-tail, and the sides of the
bows of the ship were gilt. The vessel was of thirty-five rowers
benches, and was large for that size, and was remarkably
handsome; for the king had everything belonging to the ship's
equipment of the best, both sails and rigging, anchors and
cables. King Harald sent a message in winter south to Denmark to
King Svein, that he should come northwards in spring; that they
should meet at the Gaut river and fight, and so settle the
division of the countries that the one who gained the victory
should have both kingdoms.


King Harald during this winter called out a general levy of all
the people of Norway, and assembled a great force towards spring.
Then Harald had his great ship drawn down and put into the river
Nid, and set up the dragon's head on her. Thiodolf, the skald,
sang about it thus: --

"My lovely girl! the sight was grand
When the great war-ships down the strand
Into the river gently slid,
And all below her sides was hid.
Come, lovely girl, and see the show! --
Her sides that on the water glow,
Her serpent-head with golden mane,
All shining back from the Nid again."

Then King Harald rigged out his ship, got ready for sea, and when
he had all in order went out of the river. His men rowed very
skilfully and beautifully. So says Thiodolf: --

"It was upon a Saturday,
Ship-tilts were struck and stowed away,
And past the town our dragon glides,
That girls might see our glancing sides.
Out from the Nid brave Harald steers;
Westward at first the dragon veers;
Our lads together down with oars,
The splash is echoed round the shores.

"Their oars our king's men handle well,
One stroke is all the eye can tell:
All level o'er the water rise;
The girls look on in sweet surprise.
Such things, they think, can ne'er give way;
The little know the battle day.
The Danish girls, who dread our shout,
Might wish our ship-gear not so stout.

"'Tis in the fight, not on the wave,
That oars may break and fail the brave.
At sea, beneath the ice-cold sky,
Safely our oars o'er ocean ply;
And when at Throndhjem's holy stream
Our seventy cars in distance gleam,
We seem, while rowing from the sea,
An erne with iron wings to be."

King Harald sailed south along the land, and called out the levy
everywhere of men and ships. When they came east to Viken they
got a strong wind against them and the forces lay dispersed about
in the harbour; some in the isles outside, and some in the
fjords. So says Thiodolf: --

"The cutters' sea-bleached bows scarce find
A shelter from the furious wind
Under the inland forests' side,
Where the fjord runs its farthest tide.
In all the isles and creeks around
The bondes' ships lie on the ground,
And ships with gunwales hung with shields
Seek the lee-side of the green fields."

In the heavy storm that raged for some time the great ship had
need of good ground tackle. So says Thiodolf: --

"With lofty bow above the seas,
Which curl and fly before the breeze,
The gallant vessel rides and reels,
And every plunge her cable feels.
The storm that tries the spar and mast
Tries the main-anchor at the last:
The storm above, below the rock,
Chafe the thick cable with each shock."

When the weather became favourable King Harald sailed eastwards
to the Gaut river with his fleet and arrived there in the
evening. So says Thiodolf: --

"The gallant Harald now has come
To Gaut, full half way from his home,
And on the river frontier stands,
To fight with Svein for life and lands.
The night passed o'er, the gallant king
Next day at Thumia calls a Thing,
Where Svein is challenged to appear --
A day which ravens wish were near."


When the Danes heard that the Northmen's army was come to the
Gaut river they all fled who had opportunity to get away. The
Northmen heard that the Danish king had also called out his
forces and lay in the south, partly at Fyen and partly about
Seeland. When King Harald found that King Svein would not hold a
meeting with him, or a fight, according to what had been agreed
upon between them, he took the same course as before -- letting
the bonde troops return home, but manning 150 ships, with which
he sailed southwards along Halland, where he herried all round,
and then brought up with his fleet in Lofufjord, and laid waste
the country. A little afterwards King Svein came upon them with
all the Danish fleet, consisting of 300 ships. When the Northmen
saw them King Harald ordered a general meeting of the fleet to be
called by sound of trumpet; and many there said it was better to
fly, as it was not now advisable to fight. The king replied,
"Sooner shall all lie dead one upon another than fly." So says
Stein Herdison: --

"With falcon eye, and courage bright,
Our king saw glory in the fight;
To fly, he saw, would ruin bring
On them and him -- the folk and king.
`Hands up the arms to one and all!'
Cries out the king; `we'll win or fall!
Sooner than fly, heaped on each other
Each man shall fall across his brother!'"

Then King Harald drew up his ships to attack, and brought forward
his great dragon in the middle of his fleet. So says Thiodolf:

"The brave king through his vessels' throng
His dragon war-ship moves along;
He runs her gaily to the front,
To meet the coming battle's brunt."

The ship was remarkably well equipt, and fully manned. So says
Thiodolf: --

"The king had got a chosen crew --
He told his brave lads to stand true.
The ring of shields seemed to enclose
The ship's deck from the boarding foes.
The dragon, on the Nis-river flood,
Beset with men, who thickly stood,
Shield touching shield, was something rare,
That seemed all force of man to dare."

Ulf, the marshal, laid his ship by the side of the king's and
ordered his men to bring her well forward. Stein Herdison, who
was himself in Ulf's ship, sings of it thus: --

"Our oars were stowed, our lances high,
As the ship moved swung in the sky.
The marshal Ulf went through our ranks,
Drawn up beside the rowers' banks:
The brave friend of our gallant king
Told us our ship well on to bring,
And fight like Norsemen in the cause --
Our Norsemen answered with huzzas."

Hakon Ivarson lay outside on the other wing, and had many ships
with him, all well equipt. At the extremity of the other side
lay the Throndhjem chiefs, who had also a great and strong force.


Svein, the Danish king, also drew up his fleet, and laid his ship
forward in the center against King Harald's ship, and Fin Arnason
laid his ship next; and then the Danes laid their ships,
according as they were bold or well-equipt. Then, on both sides,
they bound the ships together all through the middle of the
fleets; but as the fleets were so large, very many ships remained
loose, and each laid his ship forward according to his courage,
and that was very unequal. Although the difference among the men
was great, altogether there was a very great force on both sides.
King Svein had six earls among the people following him. So says
Stein Herdison: --

"Danger our chief would never shun,
With eight score ships he would not run:
The Danish fleet he would abide,
And give close battle side by side.
From Leire's coast the Danish king
Three hundred ocean steeds could bring,
And o'er the sea-weed plain in haste
Thought Harald's vessels would be chased."


As soon as King Harald was ready with his fleet, he orders the
war-blast to sound, and the men to row forward to the attack. So
says Stein Herdison: --

"Harald and Svein first met as foes,
Where the Nis in the ocean flows;
For Svein would not for peace entreat,
But, strong in ships, would Harald meet.
The Norsemen prove, with sword in hand,
That numbers cannot skill withstand.
Off Halland's coast the blood of Danes
The blue sea's calm smooth surface stains."

Soon the battle began, and became very sharp; both kings urging
on their men. So says Stein Herdison: --

"Our king, his broad shield disregarding,
More keen for striking than for warding,
Now tells his lads their spears to throw, --
Now shows them where to strike a blow.
From fleet to fleet so short the way,
That stones and arrows have full play;
And from the keen sword dropped the blood
Of short-lived seamen in the flood."

It was late in the day when the battle began, and it continued
the whole night. King Harald shot for a long time with his bow.
So says Thiodolf: --

"The Upland king was all the night
Speeding the arrows' deadly flight.
All in the dark his bow-string's twang
Was answered; for some white shield rang,
Or yelling shriek gave certain note
The shaft had pierced some ring-mail coat,
The foemen's shields and bulwarks bore
A Lapland arrow-scat(1) or more."

Earl Hakon, and the people who followed him, did not make fast
their ships in the fleet, but rowed against the Danish ships that
were loose, and slew the men of all the ships they came up with.
When the Danes observed this each drew his ship out of the way of
the earl; but he set upon those who were trying to escape, and
they were nearly driven to flight. Then a boat came rowing to
the earl's ship and hailed him and said that the other wing of
King Harald's fleet was giving way and many of their people had
fallen. Then the earl rowed thither and gave so severe an
assault that the Danes had to retreat before him. The earl went
on in this way all the night, coming forward where he was most
wanted, and wheresoever he came none could stand against him.
Hakon rowed outside around the battle. Towards the end of the
night the greatest part of the Danish fleet broke into flight,
for then King Harald with his men boarded the vessel of King
Svein; and it was so completely cleared that all the crew fell in
the ship, except those who sprang overboard. So says Arnor, the
earls' skald: --

"Brave Svein did not his vessel leave
Without good cause, as I believe:
Oft on his casque the sword-blade rang,
Before into the sea he sprang.
Upon the wave his vessel drives;
All his brave crew had lost their lives.
O'er dead courtmen into the sea
The Jutland king had now to flee."

And when King Svein's banner was cut down, and his ship cleared
of its crew, all his forces took to flight, and some were killed.
The ships which were bound together could not be cast loose, so
the people who were in them sprang overboard, and some got to the
other ships that were loose; and all King Svein's men who could
get off rowed away, but a great many of them were slain. Where
the king himself fought the ships were mostly bound together, and
there were more than seventy left behind of King Svein's vessels.
So says Thiodolf: --

"Svein's ships rode proudly o'er the deep,
When, by a single sudden sweep,
Full seventy sail, as we are told,
Were seized by Norway's monarch bold."

King Harald rowed after the Danes and pursued them; but that was
not easy, for the ships lay so thick together that they scarcely
could move. Earl Fin Arnason would not flee; and being also
shortsighted, was taken prisoner. So says Thiodolf: --

"To the six Danish earls who came
To aid his force, and raise his name,
No mighty thanks King Svein is owing
For mighty actions of their doing.
Fin Arnason, in battle known,
With a stout Norse heart of his own,
Would not take flight his life to gain,
And in the foremost ranks was ta'en."

(1) The Laplanders paid their seat, or yearly tax, in bows and
arrows; and the meaning of the skald appears to be, that as
many as were paid in a year were shot at the foe. -- L.


Earl Hakon lay behind with his ships, while the king and the rest
of the forces were pursuing the fugitives; for the earls' ships
could not get forward on account of the ships which lay in the
way before him. Then a man came rowing in a boat to the earl's
ship and lay at the bulwarks. The man was stout and had on a
white hat. He hailed the ship, "Where is the earl?" said he.

The earl was in the fore-hold, stopping a man's blood. The earl
cast a look at the man in the hat and asked what his name was.
He answered, "Here is Vandrad: speak to me, earl."

The earl leant over the ship's side to him. Then the man in the
boat said, "Earl, I will accept of my life from thee, if thou
wilt give it."

Then the earl raised himself up, called two men who were friends
dear to him, and said to them, "Go into the boat; bring Vandrad
to the land; attend him to my friend's Karl the bonde; and tell
Karl, as a token that these words come from me, that he let
Vandrad have the horse which I gave to him yesterday, and also
his saddle, and his son to attend him."

Thereupon they went into the boat and took the oars in hand,
while Vandrad steered. This took place just about daybreak,
while the vessels were in movement, some rowing towards the land,
some towards the sea, both small and great. Vandrad steered
where he thought there was most room between the vessels; and
when they came near to Norway's ships the earl's men gave their
names and then they all allowed them to go where they pleased.
Vandrad steered along the shore, and only set in towards the land
when they had come past the crowd of ships. They then went up to
Karl the bonde's farm, and it was then beginning to be light.
They went into the room where Karl had just put on his clothes.
The earl's men told him their message and Karl said they must
first take some food; and he set a table before them and gave
them water to wash with.

Then came the housewife into the room and said, "I wonder why we
could get no peace or rest all night with the shouting and

Karl replies, "Dost thou not know that the kings were fighting
all night?"

She asked which had the better of it.

Karl answered, "The Northmen gained."

"Then," said she, "our king will have taken flight."

"Nobody knows," says Karl, "whether he has fled or is fallen."

She says, "What a useless sort of king we have! He is both slow
and frightened."

Then said Vandrad, "Frightened he is not; but he is not lucky."

Then Vandrad washed his hands; but he took the towel and dried
them right in the middle of the cloth. The housewife snatched
the towel from him, and said, "Thou hast been taught little good;
it is wasteful to wet the whole cloth at one time.

Vandrad replies, "I may yet come so far forward in the world as
to be able to dry myself with the middle of the towel."

Thereupon Karl set a table before them and Vandrad sat down
between them. They ate for a while and then went out. The horse
was saddled and Karl's son ready to follow him with another
horse. They rode away to the forest; and the earl's men returned
to the boat, rowed to the earl's ship and told the success of
their expedition.


King Harald and his men followed the fugitives only a short way,
and rowed back to the place where the deserted ships lay. Then
the battle-place was ransacked, and in King Svein's ship was
found a heap of dead men; but the king's body was not found,
although people believed for certain that he had fallen. Then
King Harald had the greatest attention paid to the dead of his
men, and had the wounds of the living bound up. The dead bodies
of Svein's men were brought to the land, and he sent a message to
the peasants to come and bury them. Then he let the booty be
divided, and this took up some time. The news came now that King
Svein had come to Seeland, and that all who had escaped from the
battle had joined him, along with many more, and that he had a
great force.


Earl Fin Arnason was taken prisoner in the battle, as before
related; and when he was led before King Harald the king was very
merry, and said, "Fin, we meet here now, and we met last in
Norway. The Danish court has not stood very firmly by thee; and
it will be a troublesome business for Northmen to drag thee, a
blind old man, with them, and preserve thy life."

The earl replies, "The Northmen find it very difficult now to
conquer, and it is all the worse that thou hast the command of

Then said King Harald, "Wilt thou accept of life and safety,
although thou hast not deserved it?"

The earl replies, "Not from thee, thou dog."

The king: "Wilt thou, then, if thy relation Magnus gives thee

Magnus, King Harald's son, was then steering the ship.

The earl replies, "Can the whelp rule over life and quarter?"

The king laughed, as if he found amusement in vexing him. --
"Wilt thou accept thy life, then, from thy she-relation Thorer?"

The earl: "Is she here?"

"She is here," said the king.

Then Earl Fin broke out with the ugly expressions which since
have been preserved, as a proof that he was so mad with rage that
he could not govern his tongue: --

"No wonder thou hast bit so strongly, if the mare was with thee."

Earl Fin got life and quarter and the king kept him a while about
him. But Fin was rather melancholy and obstinate in
conversation; and King Harald said, "I see, Fin, that thou dost
not live willingly in company with me and thy relations; now I
will give thee leave to go to thy friend King Svein."

The earl said, "I accept of the offer willingly, and the more
gratefully the sooner I get away from hence."

The king afterwards let Earl Fin be landed and the traders going
to Halland received him well. King Harald sailed from thence to
Norway with his fleet; and went first to Oslo, where he gave all
his people leave to go home who wished to do so.


King Svein, it is told, sat in Denmark all that winter, and had
his kingdom as formerly. In winter he sent men north to Halland
for Karl the bonde and his wife. When Karl came the king called
him to him and asked him if he knew him, or thought he had ever
seen him before.

Karl replies, "I know thee, sire, and knew thee before, the
moment I saw thee; and God be praised if the small help I could
give was of any use to thee."

The king replies, "I have to reward thee for all the days I have
to live. And now, in the first place, I will give thee any farm
in Seeland thou wouldst desire to have; and, in the next place,
will make thee a great man, if thou knowest how to conduct

Karl thanked the king for his promise, and said he had now but
one thing to ask.

The king asked what that was.

Karl said that he would ask to take his wife with him.

The king said, "I will not let thee do that; but I will provide
thee a far better and more sensible wife. But thy wife can keep
the bonde-farm ye had before and she will have her living from

The king gave Karl a great and valuable farm, and provided him a
good marriage; and he became a considerable man. This was
reported far and wide and much praised; and thus it came to be
told in Norway.


King Harald stayed in Oslo the winter after the battle at Nis-
river (A.D. 1063). In autumn, when the men came from the south,
there was much talk and many stories about the battle which they
had fought at Nis-river, and every one who had been there thought
he could tell something about it. Once some of them sat in a
cellar and drank, and were very merry and talkative. They talked
about the Nis-river battle, and who had earne'd the greatest
praise and renown. They all agreed that no man there had been at
all equal to Earl Hakon. He was the boldest in arms, the
quickest, and the most lucky; what he did was of the greatest
help, and he won the battle. King Harald, in the meantime, was
out in the yard, and spoke with some people. He went then to the
room-door, and said, "Every one here would willingly be called
Hakon;" and then went his way.


Earl Hakon went in winter to the Uplands, and was all winter in
his domains. He was much beloved by all the Uplanders. It
happened, towards spring, that some men were sitting drinking in
the town, and the conversation turned, as usual, on the Nis-river
battle; and some praised Earl Hakon, and some thought others as
deserving of praise as he. When they had thus disputed a while,
one of them said, "It is possible that others fought as bravely
as the earl at Nis-river; but none, I think, has had such luck
with him as he."

The others replied, that his best luck was his driving so many
Danes to flight along with other men.

The same man replied, "It was greater luck that he gave King
Svein quarter."

One of the company said to him, "Thou dost not know what thou art

He replied, "I know it for certain, for the man told me himself
who brought the king to the land."

It went, according to the old proverb, that the king has many
ears. This was told the king, and he immediately ordered horses
to be gathered, and rode away directly with 900 men. He rode all
that night and the following day. Then some men met them who
were riding to the town with mead and malt. In the king's
retinue was a man called Gamal, who rode to one of these bondes
who was an acquaintance of his, and spoke to him privately. "I
will pay thee," said he, "to ride with the greatest speed, by the
shortest private paths that thou knowest, to Earl Hakon, and tell
him the king will kill him; for the king has got to the knowledge
that Earl Hakon set King Svein on shore at Nis-river." They
agreed on the payment. The bonde rode, and came to the earl just
as he was sitting drinking, and had not yet gone to bed. When
the bonde told his errand, the earl immediately stood up with all
his men, had all his loose property removed from the farm to the
forest, and all the people left the house in the night. When the
king came he halted there all night; but Hakon rode away, and
came east to Svithjod to King Steinkel and stayed with him all
summer. King Harald returned to the town, travelled northwards
to Throndhjem district, and remained there all summer; but in
autumn he returned eastwards to Viken.


As soon as Earl Hakon heard the king had gone north he returned
immediately in summer to the Uplands (A.D. 1063), and remained
there until the king had returned from the north. Then the earl
went east into Vermaland, where he remained during the winter,
and where the king, Steinkel, gave him fiefs. For a short time
in winter he went west to Raumarike with a great troop of men
from Gautland and Vermaland, and received the scat and duties
from the Upland people which belonged to him, and then returned
to Glutland, and remained there till spring. King Harald had his
seat in Oslo all winter (A.D. 1064), and sent his men to the
Uplands to demand the scat, together with the king's land dues,
and the mulcts of court; but the Uplanders said they would pay
all the scat and dues which they had to pay, to Earl Hakon as
long as he was in life, and had forfeited his life or his fief;
and the king got no dues that winter.


This winter messengers and ambassadors went between Norway and
Denmark, whose errand was that both Northmen and Danes should
make peace, and a league with each other. and to ask the kings to
agree to it. These messages gave favourable hopes of a peace;
and the matter proceeded so far that a meeting for peace was
appointed at the Gaut river between King Harald and King Svein.
When spring approached, both kings assembled many ships and
people for this meeting. So says a skald in a poem on this
expedition of the kings, which begins thus: --

"The king, who from the northern sound
His land with war-ships girds around,
The raven-feeder, filled the coast
With his proud ships, a gallant host!
The gold-tipped stems dash through the foam
That shakes the seamen's planked home;
The high wave breaks up to the mast,
As west of Halland on they passed,

"Harald whose word is fixed and sure,
Whose ships his land from foes secure,
And Svein, whose isles maintain is fleet,
Hasten as friends again to meet;
And every creek with vessels teems, --
All Denmark men and shipping seems;
And all rejoice that strife will cease,
And men meet now but to make peace."

Here it is told that the two kings held the meeting that was
agreed upon between them, and both came to the frontiers of their
kingdoms. So says the skald: --

"To meet (since peace the Dane now craves)
On to the south upon the waves
Sailed forth our gallant northern king,
Peace to the Danes with him to bring.
Svein northward to his frontier hies
To get the peace his people prize,
And meet King Harald, whom he finds
On land hard used by stormy winds."

When the kings found each other, people began at once to talk of
their being reconciled. But as soon as peace was proposed, many
began to complain of the damage they had sustained by harrying,
robbing and killing men; and for a long time it did not look very
like peace. It is here related: --

"Before this meeting of the kings
Each bende his own losses brings,
And loudly claims some recompense
From his king's foes, at their expense.
It is not easy to make peace,
Where noise and talking never cease:
The bondes' warmth may quickly spread,
And kings be by the people led.

"When kings are moved, no peace is sure;
For that peace only is secure
Which they who make it fairly make, --
To each side give, from each side take.
The kings will often rule but ill
Who listen to the people's will:
The people often have no view
But their own interests to pursue."

At last the best men, and those who were the wisest, came between
the kings, and settled the peace thus: -- that Harald should have
Norway, and Svein Denmark, according to the boundaries of old
established between Denmark and Norway; neither of them should
pay to the other for any damage sustained; the war should cease
as it now stood, each retaining what he had got; and this peace
should endure as long as they were kings. This peace was
confirmed by oath. Then the kings parted, having given each
other hostages, as is here related: --

"And I have heard that to set fast
The peace God brought about at last,
Svein and stern Harald pledges sent,
Who witnessed to their sworn intent;
And much I wish that they and all
In no such perjury may fall

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