Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Heimskringla The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway by Snorri Sturlson

Part 15 out of 18

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The king said, "My doom is soon delivered. He shall fly the
country, and never come back to Norway as long as the kingdom is
mine; and he shall leave all his goods behind."

"But will it not be more for thy honour," said Kolbjorn, "and
give thee a higher reputation among other kings, if, in banishing
him from the country, thou shouldst allow him to keep his
property, and show himself among other people? And we shall take
care that he never comes back while we live. Consider of this,
sire, by yourself, and have respect for our assurance."

The king replied, "Let him then go forth immediately."

They went back, therefore, to Sveinke, and told him the king's
words; and also that the king had ordered him out of the country,
and he should show his obedience, since he had forgotten himself
towards the king. "It is for the honour of both that thou
shouldst show obedience to the king."

Then Sveinke said, "There must be some great change if the king
speaks agreeably to me; but why should I fly the country and my
properties? Listen now to what I say. It appears to me better
to die upon my property than to fly from my udal estates. Tell
the king that I will not stir from them even an arrow-flight."

Kolbjorn replied, "This is scarcely prudent, or right; for it is
better for one's own honour to give way to the best chief, than
to make opposition to one's own loss. A gallant man succeeds
wheresoever he goes; and thou wilt be the more respected
wheresoever thou art, with men of power, just because thou hast
made head so boldly against so powerful a chief. Hear our
promises, and pay some attention to our errand. We offer thee to
manage thy estates, and take them faithfully under our
protection; and also never, against thy will, to pay scat for thy
land until thou comest back. We will pledge our lives and
properties upon this. Do not throw away good counsel from thee,
and avoid thus the ill fortune of other good men."

Then Sveinke was silent for a short time, and said at last, "Your
endeavours are wise; but I have my suspicions that ye are
changing a little the king's message. In consideration, however,
of the great good-will that ye show me, I will hold your advice
in such respect that I will go out of the country for the whole
winter, if, according to your promises, I can then retain my
estates in peace. Tell the king, also, these my words, that I do
this on your account, not on his."

Thereupon they returned to the king, and said, that Sveinke left
all in the king's hands. "But entreats you to have respect to
his honour. He will be away for three years, and then come back,
if it be the king's pleasure. Do this; let all things be done
according to what is suitable for the royal dignity and according
to our entreaty, now that the matter is entirely in thy power,
and we shall do all we can to prevent his returning against thy

The king replied, "Ye treat this matter like men, and, for your
sakes, shall all things be as ye desire. Tell him so."

They thanked the king, and then went to Sveinke, and told him the
king's gracious intentions. "We will be glad," said they, "if ye
can be reconciled. The king requires, indeed that thy absence
shall be for three years; but, if we know the truth rightly, we
expect that before that time he will find he cannot do without
thee in this part of the country. It will be to thy own future
honour, therefore, to agree to this."

Sveinke replies, "What condition is better than this? Tell the
king that I shall not vex him longer with my presence here, and
accept of my goods and estates on this condition."

Thereupon he went home with his men, and set off directly; for he
had prepared everything beforehand. Kolbjorn remains behind, and
makes ready a feast for King Magnus, which also was thought of
and prepared. Sveinke, on the other hand, rides up to Gautland
with all the men he thought proper to take with him. The king
let himself be entertained in guest-quarters at his house,
returned to Viken, and Sveinke's estates were nominally the
king's, but Kolbjorn had them under his charge. The king
received guest-quarters in Viken, proceeded from thence
northwards, and there was peace for a while; but now that the
Elfgrims were without a chief, marauding gangs infested them, and
the king saw this eastern part of the kingdom would be laid
waste. It appeared to him, therefore, most suitable and
advisable to make Sveinke himself oppose the stream, and twice he
sent messages to him. But he did not stir until King Magnus
himself was south in Denmark, when Sveinke and the king met, and
made a full reconciliation; on which Sveinke returned home to his
house and estates, and was afterwards King Magnus's best and
trustiest friend, who strengthened his kingdom on the eastern
border; and their friendship continued as long as they lived.


King Magnus undertook an expedition out of the country, with many
fine men and a good assortment of shipping. With this armament
he sailed out into the West sea, and first came to the Orkney
Islands. There he took the two earls, Paul and Erlend,
prisoners, and sent them east to Norway, and placed his son
Sigurd as chief over the islands, leaving some counsellors to
assist him. From thence King Magnus, with his followers,
proceeded to the Southern Hebudes, and when he came there began
to burn and lay waste the inhabited places, killing the people
and plundering wherever he came with his men; and the country
people fled in all directions, some into Scotland-fjord, others
south to Cantire, or out to Ireland; some obtained life and
safety by entering into his service. So says Bjorn Krephende: --
"In Lewis Isle with fearful blaze
The house-destroying fire plays;
To hills and rocks the people fly,
Fearing all shelter but the sky.
In Uist the king deep crimson made
The lightning of his glancing blade;
The peasant lost his land and life
Who dared to bide the Norseman's strife.
The hunger battle-birds were filled
In Skye with blood of foemen killed,
And wolves on Tyree's lonely shore
Dyed red their hairy jaws in gore.
The men of Mull were tired of flight;
The Scottish foemen would not fight,
And many an island-girl's wail
Was heard as through the isles we strife sail."


King Magnus came with his forces to the Holy Island (Iona), and
gave peace and safety to all men there. It is told that the king
opened the door of the little Columb's Kirk there, but did not go
in, but instantly locked the door again, and said that no man
should be so bold as to go into that church hereafter; which has
been the case ever since. From thence King Magnus sailed to
Islay, where he plundered and burnt; and when he had taken that
country he proceeded south around Cantire, marauding on both
sides in Scotland and Ireland, and advanced with his foray to
Man, where he plundered. So says Bjorn Krephende: --

"On Sandey's plain our shield they spy:
From Isla smoke rose heaven-high,
Whirling up from the flashing blaze
The king's men o'er the island raise.
South of Cantire the people fled,
Scared by our swords in blood dyed red,
And our brave champion onward goes
To meet in Man the Norseman's foes."

Lagman (Lawman) was the name of the son of Gudrod, king of the
Hebudes. Lawman was sent to defend the most northerly islands;
but when King Magnus and his army came to the Hebudes, Lawman
fled here and there about the isles, and at last King Magnus's
men took him and his ship's crew as he was flying over to
Ireland. The king put him in irons to secure him. So says Bjorn
Krephende: --

"To Gudrod's son no rock or cave,
Shore-side or hill, a refuge gave;
Hunted around from isle to isle,
This Lawman found no safe asyle.
From isle to isle, o'er firth and sound,
Close on his track his foe he found.
At Ness the Agder chief at length
Seized him, and iron-chained his strength."


Afterwards King Magnus sailed to Wales; and when he came to the
sound of Anglesey there came against him an army from Wales,
which was led by two earls -- Hugo the brave, and Hugo the Stout.
They began immediately to give battle, and there was a severe
conflict. King Magnus shot with the bow; but Huge the Brave was
all over in armour, so that nothing was bare about him excepting
one eye. King Magnus let fly an arrow at him, as also did a
Halogaland man who was beside the king. They both shot at once.
The one shaft hit the nose-screen of the helmet, which was bent
by it to one side, and the other arrow hit the earl's eye, and
went through his head; and that was found to be the king's. Earl
Huge fell, and the Britons fled with the loss of many people. So
says Bjorn Krephende: --

"The swinger of the sword
Stood by Anglesey's ford;
His quick shaft flew,
And Huge slew.
His sword gleamed a while
O'er Anglesey Isle,
And his Norsemen's band
Scoured the Anglesey land."

There was also sung the following verse about it: --

"On the panzers arrows rattle,
Where our Norse king stands in battle;
From the helmets blood-streams flow,
Where our Norse king draws his bow:
His bowstring twangs, -- its biting hail
Rattles against the ring-linked mail.
Up in the land in deadly strife
Our Norse king took Earl Huge's life."

King Magnus gained the victory in this battle, and then took
Anglesey Isle, which was the farthest south the Norway kings of
former days had ever extended their rule. Anglesey is a third
part of Wales. After this battle King Magnus turned back with
his fleet, and came first to Scotland. Then men went between the
Scottish king, Melkolm and King Magnus, and a peace was made
between them; so that all the islands lying west of Scotland,
between which and the mainland he could pass in a vessel with her
rudder shipped, should be held to belong to the king of Norway.
Now when King Magnus came north to Cantire, he had a skiff drawn
over the strand at Cantire, and shipped the rudder of it. The
king himself sat in the stern-sheets, and held the tiller; and
thus he appropriated to himself the land that lay on the farboard
side. Cantire is a great district, better than the best of the
southern isles of the Hebudes, excepting Man; and there is a
small neck of land between it and the mainland of Scotland, over
which longships are often drawn.


King Magnus was all the winter in the southern isles, and his men
went over all the fjords of Scotland, rowing within all the
inhabited and uninhabited isles, and took possession for the king
of Norway of all the islands west of Scotland. King Magnus
contracted in marriage his son Sigurd to Biadmynia, King
Myrkjartan's daughter. Myrkjartan was a son of the Irish king
Thialfe, and ruled over Connaught. The summer after, King
Magnus, with his fleet, returned east to Norway. Earl Erland
died of sickness at Nidaros, and is buried there; and Earl Paul
died in Bergen.

Skopte Ogmundson, a grandson of Thorberg, was a gallant
lenderman, who dwelt at Giske in Sunmore, and was married to
Gudrun, a daughter of Thord Folason. Their children were Ogmund,
Fin, Thord, and Thora, who was married to Asolf Skulason.
Skopte's and Gudrun's sons were the most promising and popular
men in their youth.


Steinkel, the Swedish king, died about the same time (A.D. 1066)
as the two Haralds fell, and the king who came after him in
Svithjod was called Hakon. Afterwards Inge, a son of Steinkel,
was king, and was a good and powerful king, strong and stout
beyond most men; and he was king of Svithjod when King Magnus was
king of Norway. King Magnus insisted that the boundaries of the
countries in old times had been so, that the Gaut river divided
the kingdoms of the Swedish and Norwegian kings, but afterwards
the Vener lake up to Vermaland. Thus King Magnus insisted that
he was owner of all the places lying west of the Vener lake up to
Vermaland, which are the districts of Sundal, Nordal, Vear, and
Vardyniar, with all the woods belonging thereto. But these had
for a long time been under the Swedish dominion, and with respect
to scat were joined to West Gautland; and, besides, the forest-
settlers preferred being under the Swedish king. King Magnus
rode from Viken up to Gautland with a great and fine army, and
when he came to the forest-settlements he plundered and burnt all
round; on which the people submitted, and took the oath of
fidelity to him. When he came to the Vener lake, autumn was
advanced and he went out to the island Kvaldinsey, and made a
stronghold of turf and wood, and dug a ditch around it. When the
work was finished, provisions and other necessaries that might be
required were brought to it. The king left in it 300 men, who
were the chosen of his forces, and Fin Skoptason and Sigurd
Ulstreng as their commanders. The king himself returned to


When the Swedish king heard this he drew together people, and the
report came that he would ride against these Northmen; but there
was delay about his riding, and the Northmen made these lines: --
"The fat-hipped king, with heavy sides,
Finds he must mount before he rides."

But when the ice set in upon the Vener lake King Inge rode down,
and had near 300 men with him. He sent a message to the Northmen
who sat in the burgh that they might retire with all the booty
they had taken, and go to Norway. When the messengers brought
this message, Sigurd Ulstreng replied to it; saying that King
Inge must take the trouble to come, if he wished to drive them
away like cattle out of a grass field, and said he must come
nearer if he wished them to remove. The messengers returned with
this answer to the king, who then rode out with all his army to
the island, and again sent a message to the Northmen that they
might go away, taking with them their weapons, clothes, and
horses; but must leave behind all their booty. This they
refused. The king made an assault upon them, and they shot at
each other. Then the king ordered timber and stones to be
collected, and he filled up the ditch; and then he fastened
anchors to long spars which were brought up to the timber-walls,
and, by the strength of many hands, the walls were broken down.
Thereafter a large pile of wood was set on fire, and the lighted
brands were flung in among them. Then the Northmen asked for
quarter. The king ordered them to go out without weapons or
cloaks. As they went out each of them received a stroke with a
whip, and then they set off for Norway, and all the forest-men
submitted again to King Inge. Sigurd and his people went to King
Magnus, and told him their misfortune.


When King Magnus was east in Viken, there came to him a foreigner
called Giparde. He gave himself out for a good knight, and
offered his services to King Magnus; for he understood that in
the king's dominions there was something to be done. The king
received him well. At that time the king was preparing to go to
Gautland, on which country the king had pretensions; and besides
he would repay the Gautland people the disgrace they had
occasioned him in spring, when he was obliged to fly from them.
He had then a great force in arms, and the West Gautlanders in
the northern districts submitted to him. He set up his camp on
the borders, intending to make a foray from thence. When King
Inge heard of this he collected troops, and hastened to oppose
King Magnus; and when King Magnus heard of this expedition, many
of the chiefs of the people urged him to turn back; but this the
king would not listen to, but in the night time went
unsuspectedly against the Swedish king. They met at Foxerne; and
when he was drawing up his men in battle order he asked, "Where
is Giparde?" but he was not to be found. Then the king made
these verses: --

"Cannot the foreign knight abide
Our rough array? -- where does he hide?"

Then a skald who followed the king replied: --

"The king asks where the foreign knight
In our array rides to the fight:
Giparde the knight rode quite away
When our men joined in bloody fray.
When swords were wet the knight was slow
With his bay horse in front to go;
The foreign knight could not abide
Our rough array, and went to hide."

There was a great slaughter, and after the battle the field was
covered with the Swedes slain, and King Inge escaped by flight.
King Magnus gained a great victory. Then came Giparde riding
down from the country, and people did not speak well of him for
not being in the fight. He went away, and proceeded westward to
England; and the voyage was stormy, and Giparde lay in bed.
There was an Iceland man called Eldjarn, who went to bale out the
water in the ship's hold, and when he saw where Giparde was lying
he made this verse: --

"Does it beseem a courtman bold
Here to be dozing in the hold?
The bearded knight should danger face:
The leak gains on our ship apace.
Here, ply this bucket! bale who can;
We need the work of every man.
Our sea-horse stands full to the breast, --
Sluggards and cowards must not rest."

When they came west to England, Giparde said the Northmen had
slandered him. A meeting was appointed, and a count came to it,
and the case was brought before him for trial. He said he was
not much acquainted with law cases, as he was but young, and had
only been a short time in office; and also, of all things, he
said what he least understood to judge about was poetry. "But
let us hear what it was." Then Eldjarn sang: --

"I heard that in the bloody fight
Giparde drove all our foes to flight:
Brave Giparde would the foe abide,
While all our men ran off to hide.
At Foxerne the fight was won
By Giparde's valour all alone;
Where Giparde fought, alone was he;
Not one survived to fight or flee."

Then said the count, "Although I know but little about skald-
craft, I can hear that this is no slander, but rather the highest
praise and honour." Giparde could say nothing against it, yet he
felt it was a mockery.


The spring after, as soon as the ice broke up, King Magnus, with
a great army, sailed eastwards to the Gaut river, and went up the
eastern arm of it, laying waste all that belonged to the Swedish
dominions. When they came to Foxerne they landed from their
vessels; but as they came over a river on their way an army of
Gautland people came against them, and there was immediately a
great battle, in which the Northmen were overwhelmed by numbers,
driven to flight, and many of them killed near to a waterfall.
King Magnus fled, and the Gautlanders pursued, and killed those
they could get near. King Magnus was easily known. He was a
very stout man, and had a red short cloak over him, and bright
yellow hair like silk that fell over his shoulders. Ogmund
Skoptason, who was a tall and handsome man, rode on one side of
the king. He said, "Sire, give me that cloak."

The king said, "What would you do with it?"

"I would like to have it," said Ogmund; "and you have given me
greater gifts, sire."

The road was such that there were great and wide plains, so that
the Gautlanders and Northmen were always in sight of each other,
unless where clumps of wood and bushes concealed them from each
other now and then. The king gave Ogmund the cloak and he put it
on. When they came out again upon the plain ground, Ogmund and
his people rode off right across the road. The Gautlanders,
supposing this must be the king, rode all after him, and the king
proceeded to the ships. Ogmund escaped with great difficulty;
however, he reached the ships at last in safety. King Magnus
then sailed down the river, and proceeded north to Viken.


The following summer a meeting of the kings was agreed upon at
Konghelle on the Gaut river; and King Magnus, the Swedish king,
Inge, and the Danish king, Eirik Sveinson, all met there, after
giving each other safe conduct to the meeting. Now when the
Thing had sat down the kings went forward upon the plain, apart
from the rest of the people, and they talked with each other a
little while. Then they returned to their people, and a treaty
was brought about, by which each should possess the dominions his
forefathers had held before him; but each should make good to his
own men the waste and manslaughter suffered by them, and then
they should agree between themselves about settling this with
each other. King Magnus should marry King Inge's daughter
Margaret, who afterwards was called Peace-offering. This was
proclaimed to the people; and thus, within a little hour, the
greatest enemies were made the best of friends.

It was observed by the people that none had ever seen men with
more of the air of chiefs than these had. King Inge was the
largest and stoutest, and, from his age, of the most dignified
appearance. King Magnus appeared the most gallant and brisk, and
King Eirik the most handsome. But they were all handsome men;
stout, gallant, and ready in speech. After this was settled they


King Magnus got Margaret, King Inge's daughter, as above related;
and she was sent from Svithjod to Norway with an honourable
retinue. King Magnus had some children before, whose names shall
here be given. The one of his sons who was of a mean mother was
called Eystein; the other, who was a year younger, was called
Sigurd, and his mother's name was Thora. Olaf was the name of a
third son, who was much younger than the two first mentioned, and
whose mother was Sigrid, a daughter of Saxe of Vik, who was a
respectable man in the Throndhjem country; she was the king's
concubine. People say that when King Magnus came home from his
viking cruise to the Western countries, he and many of his people
brought with them a great deal of the habits and fashion of
clothing of those western parts. They went about on the streets
with bare legs, and had short kirtles and over-cloaks; and
therefore his men called him Magnus Barefoot or Bareleg. Some
called him Magnus the Tall, others Magnus the Strife-lover. He
was distinguished among other men by his tall stature. The mark
of his height is put down in Mary church, in the merchant town of
Nidaros, which King Harald built. In the northern door there
were cut into the wall three crosses, one for Harald's stature,
one for Olaf's, and one for Magnus's; and which crosses each of
them could with the greatest ease kiss. The upper was Harald's
cross; the lowest was Magnus's; and Olaf's was in the middle,
about equally distant from both.

It is said that Magnus composed the following verses about the
emperor's daughter: --

"The ring of arms where blue swords gleam,
The battle-shout, the eagle's scream,
The Joy of war, no more can please:
Matilda is far o'er the seas.
My sword may break, my shield be cleft,
Of land or life I may be reft;
Yet I could sleep, but for one care, --
One, o'er the seas, with light-brown hair."

He also composed the following: --

"The time that breeds delay feels long,
The skald feels weary of his song;
What sweetens, brightens, eases life?
'Tis a sweet-smiling lovely wife.
My time feels long in Thing affairs,
In Things my loved one ne'er appears.
The folk full-dressed, while I am sad,
Talk and oppose -- can I be glad?"

When King Magnus heard the friendly words the emperor's daughter
had spoken about him -- that she had said such a man as King
Magnus was appeared to her an excellent man, he composed the
following: --

"The lover hears, -- across the sea,
A favouring word was breathed to me.
The lovely one with light-brown hair
May trust her thoughts to senseless air;
Her thoughts will find like thoughts in me;
And though my love I cannot see,
Affection's thoughts fly in the wind,
And meet each other, true and kind."


Skopte Ogmundson came into variance with King Magnus, and they
quarrelled about the inheritance of a deceased person which
Skopte retained; but the king demanded it with so much
earnestness, that it had a dangerous appearance. Many meetings
were held about the affair, and Skopte took the resolution that
he and his son should never put themselves into the king's power
at the same time; and besides there was no necessity to do so.
When Skopte was with the king he represented to him that there
was relationship between the king and him; and also that he,
Skopte, had always been the king's friend, and his father's
likewise, and that their friendship had never been shaken. He
added, "People might know that I have sense enough not to hold a
strife, sire, with you, if I was wrong in what I asked; but it is
inherited from my ancestors to defend my rights against any man,
without distinction of persons." The king was just the same on
this point, and his resolution was by no means softened by such a
speech. Then Skopte went home.


Then Fin Skoptason went to the king, spoke with him, and
entreated him to render justice to the father and son in this
business. The king answers angrily and sharply. Then said Fin,
"I expected something else, sire, from you, than that you would
use the law's vexations against me when I took my seat in
Kvaldinsey Island, which few of your other friends would do; as
they said, what was true, that those who were left there were
deserted and doomed to death, if King Inge had not shown greater
generosity to us than you did; although many consider that we
brought shame and disgrace only from thence." The king was not
to be moved by this speech, and Fin returned home.


Then came Ogmund Skoptason to the king; and when he came before
him he produced his errand, and begged the king to do what was
right and proper towards him and his father. The king insisted
that the right was on his side, and said they were "particularly

Then said Ogmund, "It is a very easy thing for thee, having the
power, to do me and my father injustice; and I must say the old
proverb is true, that one whose life you save gives none, or a
very bad return. This I shall add, that never again shall I come
into thy service; nor my father, if I can help it." Then Ogmund
went home, and they never saw each other again.


The spring after, Skopte Ogmundson made ready to travel out of
the country. They had five long-ships all well equipped. His
sons, Ogmund, Fin, and Thord, accompanied him on this journey.
It was very late before they were ready, and in autumn they went
over to Flanders, and wintered there. Early in spring they
sailed westward to Valland, and stayed there all summer. Then
they sailed further, and through Norvasund; and came in autumn to
Rome, where Skopte died. All, both father and sons, died on this
journey. Thord, who died in Sicily, lived the longest. It is a
common saying among the people that Skopte was the first Northman
who sailed through Norvasund; and this voyage was much


It happened once in the merchant town (Nidaros) where King Olaf
reposes, that there broke out a fire in the town which spread
around. Then Olaf's shrine was taken out of the church, and set
up opposite the fire. Thereupon came a crazy foolish man, struck
the shrine, threatened the holy saint, and said all must be
consumed by the flames, both churches and other houses, if he did
not save them by his prayers. Now the burning of the church did
cease, by the help of Almighty God; but the insane man got sore
eyes on the following night, and he lay there until King Olaf
entreated God A1mighty to be merciful to him; after which he
recovered in the same church.


It happened once in the merchant town that a woman was brought to
the place where the holy King Olaf reposes. She was so miserably
shaped, that she was altogether crumpled up; so that both her
feet lay in a circle against her loins. But as she was diligent
in her prayers, often weeping and making vows to King Olaf, he
cured her great infirmities; so that feet, legs, and other limbs
straightened, and every limb and part came to the right use for
which they were made. Before she could not creep there, and now
she went away active and brisk to her family and home.


When King Magnus had been nine years king of Norway (A.D. 1094-
1102), he equipped himself to go out of the country with a great
force. He sailed out into the West sea with the finest men who
could be got in Norway. All the powerful men of the country
followed him; such as Sigurd Hranason, Vidkun Jonson, Dag
Eilifson, Serk of Sogn, Eyvind Olboge, the king's marshal Ulf
Hranason, brother of Sigurd, and many other great men. With all
this armament the king sailed west to the Orkney Islands, from
whence he took with him Earl Erlend's sons, Magnus and Erling,
and then sailed to the southern Hebudes. But as he lay under the
Scotch land, Magnus Erlendson ran away in the night from the
king's ship, swam to the shore, escaped into the woods, and came
at last to the Scotch king's court. King Magnus sailed to
Ireland with his fleet, and plundered there. King Myrkjartan
came to his assistance, and they conquered a great part of the
country, both Dublin and Dyflinnarskire (Dublin shire). King
Magnus was in winter (A.D. 1102) up in Connaught with King
Myrkjartan, but set men to defend the country he had taken.
Towards spring both kings went westward with their army all the
way to Ulster, where they had many battles, subdued the country,
and had conquered the greatest part of Ulster when Myrkjartan
returned home to Connaught.


King Magnus rigged his ships, and intended returning to Norway,
but set his men to defend the country of Dublin. He lay at
Ulster ready for sea with his whole fleet. As they thought they
needed cattle for ship-provision, King Magnus sent a message to
King Myrkjartan, telling him to send some cattle for slaughter;
and appointed the day before Bartholomew's day as the day they
should arrive, if the messengers reached him in safety; but the
cattle had not made their appearance the evening before
Bartholomew's mass. On the mass-day itself, when the sun rose in
the sky, King Magnus went on shore himself with the greater part
of his men, to look after his people, and to carry off cattle
from the coast. The weather was calm, the sun shone, and the
road lay through mires and mosses, and there were paths cut
through; but there was brushwood on each side of the road. When
they came somewhat farther, they reached a height from which they
had a wide view. They saw from it a great dust rising up the
country, as of horsemen, and they said to each other, "That must
be the Irish army;" but others said, "It was their own men
returning with the cattle." They halted there; and Eyvind Olboge
said, "How, sire, do you intend to direct the march? The men
think we are advancing imprudently. You know the Irish are
treacherous; think, therefore, of a good counsel for your men."
Then the king said, "Let us draw up our men, and be ready, if
there be treachery." This was done, and the king and Eyvind went
before the line. King Magnus had a helmet on his head; a red
shield, in which was inlaid a gilded lion; and was girt with the
sword of Legbit, of which the hilt was of tooth (ivory), and
handgrip wound about with gold thread; and the sword was
extremely sharp. In his hand he had a short spear, and a red
silk short cloak, over his coat, on which, both before and
behind, was embroidered a lion in yellow silk; and all men
acknowledged that they never had seen a brisker, statelier man.
Eyvind had also a red silk cloak like the king's; and he also was
a stout, handsome, warlike man.


When the dust-cloud approached nearer they knew their own men,
who were driving the cattle. The Irish king had been faithful to
the promises he had given the king, and had sent them. Thereupon
they all turned towards the ships, and it was mid-day. When they
came to the mires they went but slowly over the boggy places; and
then the Irish started up on every side against them from every
bushy point of land, and the battle began instantly. The
Northmen were going divided in various heaps, so that many of
them fell.

Then said Eyvind to the king, "Unfortunate is this march to our
people, and we must instantly hit upon some good plan."

The king answered, "Call all the men together with the war-horns
under the banner, and the men who are here shall make a rampart
with their shields, and thus we will retreat backwards out of the
mires; and we will clear ourselves fast enough when we get upon
firm ground."

The Irish shot boldly; and although they fell in crowds, there
came always two in the place of one. Now when the king had come
to the nearest ditch there was a very difficult crossing, and few
places were passable; so that many Northmen fell there. Then the
king called to his lenderman Thorgrim Skinhufa, who was an Upland
man, and ordered him to go over the ditch with his division. "We
shall defend you," said he, "in the meantime, so that no harm
shall come to you. Go out then to those holms, and shoot at them
from thence; for ye are good bowmen."

When Thorgrim and his men came over the ditch they cast their
shields behind their backs, and set off to the ships.

When the king saw this, he said, "Thou art deserting thy king in
an unmanly way. I was foolish in making thee a lenderman, and
driving Sigurd Hund out of the country; for never would he have
behaved so."

King Magnus received a wound, being pierced by a spear through
both thighs above the knees. The king laid hold of the shaft
between his legs, broke the spear in two, and said, "Thus we
break spear-shafts, my lads; let us go briskly on. Nothing hurts
me." A little after King Magnus was struck in the neck with an
Irish axe, and this was his death-wound. Then those who were
behind fled. Vidkun Jonson instantly killed the man who had
given the king his death-wound, and fled, after having received
three wounds; but brought the king's banner and the sword Legbit
to the ships. Vidkun was the last man who fled; the other next
to him was Sigurd Hranason, and the third before him, Dag
Eilifson. There fell with King Magnus, Eyvind Olboge, Ulf
Hranason, and many other great people. Many of the Northmen
fell, but many more of the Irish. The Northmen who escaped
sailed away immediately in autumn. Erling, Earl Erlend's'son,
fell with King Magnus in Ireland; but the men who fled from
Ireland came to the Orkney Islands. Now when King Sigurd heard
that his father had fallen, he set off immediately, leaving the
Irish king's daughter behind, and proceeded in autumn with the
whole fleet directly to Norway.


King Magnus was ten years king of Norway (A.D. 1094-1105), and in
his days there was good peace kept within the country; but the
people were sorely oppressed with levies. King Magnus was
beloved by his men, but the bondes thought him harsh. The words
have been transmitted from him that he said when his friends
observed that he proceeded incautiously when he was on his
expeditions abroad, -- "The kings are made for honour, not for
long life." King Magnus was nearly thirty years of age when he
fell. Vidkun did not fly until he had killed the man who gave
the king his mortal wound, and for this cause King Magnus's sons
had him in the most affectionate regard.



"Agrip", "Fagrskinna", and "Morkinskinna" more or less complete
the story of the sons of Magnus. They contain some things omitted
by Snorre, while, on the other hand, some facts related by Snorre
are not found in the above sources.

Thjodrek the Monk tells of Sigurd that he made a Journey to
Jerusalem, conquered many heathen cities, and among them Sidon;
that he captured a cave defended by robbers, received presents
from Baldwin, returned to Norway in Eystein's lifetime, and
became insane, as a result, as some say, of a poisonous drink.

The three brothers became kings in the year A.D. 1103. Olaf died
1115, Eystein 1122 or 1123, Sigurd 1130.

Skalds quoted in this saga are: Thorarin Stutfeld, Einar
Skulason, Haldor Skvaldre, and Arne Fjoruskeif.


After King Magnus Barefoot's fall, his sons, Eystein, Sigurd, and
Olaf, took the kingdom of Norway. Eystein got the northern, and
Sigurd the southern part of the country. King Olaf was then four
or five years old, and the third part of the country which he had
was under the management of his two brothers. King Sigurd was
chosen king when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, and
Eystein was a year older. King Sigurd left west of the sea the
Irish king's daughter. When King Magnus's sons were chosen
kings, the men who had followed Skopte Ogmundson returned home.
Some had been to Jerusalem, some to Constantinople; and there
they had made themselves renowned, and they had many kinds of
novelties to talk about. By these extraordinary tidings many men
in Norway were incited to the same expedition; and it was also
told that the Northmen who liked to go into the military service
at Constantinople found many opportunities of getting property.
Then these Northmen desired much that one of the two kings,
either Eystein or Sigurd, should go as commander of the troop
which was preparing for this expedition. The kings agreed to
this, and carried on the equipment at their common expense. Many
great men, both of the lendermen and bondes, took part in this
enterprise; and when all was ready for the journey it was
determined that Sigurd should go, and Eystein in the meantime,
should rule the kingdom upon their joint account.


A year or two after King Magnus Barefoot's fall, Hakon, a son of
Earl Paul, came from Orkney. The kings gave him the earldom and
government of the Orkney Islands, as the earls before him, his
father Paul or his Uncle Erland, had possessed it; and Earl Hakon
then sailed back immediately to Orkney.


Four years after the fall of King Magnus (A.D. 1107), King Sigurd
sailed with his people from Norway. He had then sixty ships. So
says Thorarin Stutfeld: --

"A young king just and kind,
People of loyal mind:
Such brave men soon agree, --
To distant lands they sail with glee.
To the distant Holy Land
A brave and pious band,
Magnificent and gay,
In sixty long-ships glide away."

King Sigurd sailed in autumn to England, where Henry, son of
William the Bastard, was then king, and Sigurd remained with him
all winter. So says Einar Skulason: --

"The king is on the waves!
The storm he boldly braves.
His ocean-steed,
With winged speed,
O'er the white-flashing surges,
To England's coast he urges;
And there he stays the winter o'er:
More gallant king ne'er trod that shore."


In spring King Sigurd and his fleet sailed westward to Valland
(A.D. 1108), and in autumn came to Galicia, where he stayed the
second winter (A.D. 1109). So says Einar Skulason: --

"Our king, whose land so wide
No kingdom stands beside,
In Jacob's land next winter spent,
On holy things intent;
And I have heard the royal youth
Cut off an earl who swerved from truth.
Our brave king will endure no ill, --
The hawks with him will get their fill."

It went thus: -- The earl who ruled over the land made an
agreement with King Sigurd, that he should provide King Sigurd
and his men a market at which they could purchase victuals all
the winter; but this he did not fulfil longer than to about Yule.
It began then to be difficult to get food and necessaries, for it
is a poor barren land. Then King Sigurd with a great body of men
went against a castle which belonged to the earl; and the earl
fled from it, having but few people. King Sigurd took there a
great deal of victuals and of other booty, which he put on board
of his ships, and then made ready and proceeded westward to
Spain. It so fell out, as the king was sailing past Spain, that
some vikings who were cruising for plunder met him with a fleet
of galleys, and King Sigurd attacked them. This was his first
battle with heathen men; and he won it, and took eight galleys
from them. So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"Bold vikings, not slow
To the death-fray to go,
Meet our Norse king by chance,
And their galleys advance.
The bold vikings lost
Many a man of their host,
And eight galleys too,
With cargo and crew."

Thereafter King Sigurd sailed against a castle called Sintre and
fought another battle. This castle is in Spain, and was occupied
by many heathens, who from thence plundered Christian people.
King Sigurd took the castle, and killed every man in it, because
they refused to be baptized; and he got there an immense booty.
So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"From Spain I have much news to tell
Of what our generous king befell.
And first he routs the viking crew,
At Cintra next the heathens slew;
The men he treated as God's foes,
Who dared the true faith to oppose.
No man he spared who would not take
The Christian faith for Jesus' sake."


After this King Sigurd sailed with his fleet to Lisbon, which is
a great city in Spain, half Christian and half heathen; for there
lies the division between Christian Spain and heathen Spain, and
all the districts which lie west of the city are occupied by
heathens. There King Sigurd had his third battle with the
heathens, and gained the victory, and with it a great booty. So
says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"The son of kings on Lisbon's plains
A third and bloody battle gains.
He and his Norsemen boldly land,
Running their stout ships on the strand."

Then King Sigurd sailed westwards along heathen Spain, and
brought up at a town called Alkasse; and here he had his fourth
battle with the heathens, and took the town, and killed so many
people that the town was left empty. They got there also immense
booty. So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"A fourth great battle, I am told,
Our Norse king and his people hold
At Alkasse; and here again
The victory fell to our Norsemen."

And also this verse: --

"I heard that through the town he went,
And heathen widows' wild lament
Resounded in the empty halls;
For every townsman flies or falls."


King Sigurd then proceeded on his voyage, and came to Norfasund;
and in the sound he was met by a large viking force, and the king
gave them battle; and this was his fifth engagement with heathens
since the time he left Norway. He gained the victory here also.
So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"Ye moistened your dry swords with blood,
As through Norfasund ye stood;
The screaming raven got a feast,
As ye sailed onward to the East."

King Sigurd then sailed eastward along the coast of Serkland, and
came to an island there called Forminterra. There a great many
heathen Moors had taken up their dwelling in a cave, and had
built a strong stone wall before its mouth. They harried the
country all round, and carried all their booty to their cave.
King Sigurd landed on this island, and went to the cave; but it
lay in a precipice, and there was a high winding path to the
stone wall, and the precipice above projected over it. The
heathens defended the stone wall, and were not afraid of the
Northmen's arms; for they could throw stones, or shoot down upon
the Northmen under their feet; neither did the Northmen, under
such circumstances, dare to mount up. The heathens took their
clothes and other valuable things, carried them out upon the
wall, spread them out before the Northmen, shouted, and defied
them, and upbraided them as cowards. Then Sigurd fell upon this
plan. He had two ship's boats, such as we call barks, drawn up
the precipice right above the mouth of the cave; and had thick
ropes fastened around the stem, stern, and hull of each. In
these boats as many men went as could find room, and then the
boats were lowered by the ropes down in front of the mouth of the
cave; and the men in the boats shot with stones and missiles into
the cave, and the heathens were thus driven from the stone wall.
Then Sigurd with his troops climbed up the precipice to the foot
of the stone wall, which they succeeded in breaking down, so that
they came into the cave. Now the heathens fled within the stone
wall that was built across the cave; on which the king ordered
large trees to be brought to the cave, made a great pile in the
mouth of it, and set fire to the wood. When the fire and smoke
got the upper hand, some of the heathens lost their lives in it;
some fled; some fell by the hands of the Northmen; and part were
killed, part burned; and the Northmen made the greatest booty
they had got on all their expeditions. So says Halder Skvaldre:

"Forminterra lay
In the victor's way;
His ships' stems fly
To victory.
The bluemen there
Must fire bear,
And Norsemen's steel
At their hearts feel."

And also thus:--

"'Twas a feat of renown, --
The boat lowered down,
With a boat's crew brave,
In front of the cave;
While up the rock scaling,
And comrades up trailing,
The Norsemen gain,
And the bluemen are slain."

And also Thorarin Stutfeld says:--

"The king's men up the mountain's side
Drag two boats from the ocean's tide;
The two boats lay,
Like hill-wolves grey.
Now o'er the rock in ropes they're swinging
Well manned, and death to bluemen bringing;
They hang before
The robber's door."


Thereafter King Sigurd proceeded on his expedition, and came to
an island called Iviza (Ivica), and had there his seventh battle,
and gained a victory. So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"His ships at Ivica now ride,
The king's, whose fame spreads far and wide;
And hear the bearers of the shield
Their arms again in battle wield."

Thereafter King Sigurd came to an island called Manork (Minorca),
and held there his eighth battle with heathen men, and gained the
victory. So says Haldor Skvaldre: --

"On green Minorca's plains
The eighth battle now he gains:
Again the heathen foe
Falls at the Norse king's blow."


In spring King Sigurd came to Sicily (A.D. 1109), and remained a
long time there. There was then a Duke Roger in Sicily, who
received the king kindly, and invited him to a feast. King
Sigurd came to it with a great retinue, and was splendidly
entertained. Every day Duke Roger stood at the company's table,
doing service to the king; but the seventh day of the feast, when
the people had come to table, and had wiped their hands, King
Sigurd took the duke by the hand, led him up to the high-seat,
and saluted him with the title of king; and gave the right that
there should be always a king over the dominion of Sicily,
although before there had only been earls or dukes over that


King Roger of Sicily was a very great king. He won and subdued
all Apulia, and many large islands besides in the Greek sea; and
therefore he was called Roger the Great. His son was William,
king of Sicily, who for a long time had great hostility with the
emperor of Constantinople. King William had three daughters, but
no son. One of his daughters he married to the Emperor Henry, a
son of the Emperor Frederik; and their son was Frederik, who for
a short time after was emperor of Rome. His second daughter was
married to the Duke of Kipr. The third daughter, Margaret, was
married to the chief of the corsairs; but the Emperor Henry
killed both these brothers-in-law. The daughter of Roger the
Great, king of Sicily, was married to the Emperor Manuel of
Constantinople; and their son was the Emperor Kirjalax.


In the summer (A.D. 1110) King Sigurd sailed across the Greek sea
to Palestine, and thereupon went up to Jerusalem, where he met
Baldwin, king of Palestine. King Baldwin received him
particularly well, and rode with him all the way to the river
Jordan, and then back to the city of Jerusalem. Einar Skulason
speaks thus of it: --

"Good reason has the skald to sing
The generous temper of the king,
Whose sea-cold keel from northern waves
Ploughs the blue sea that green isles laves.
At Acre scarce were we made fast,
In holy ground our anchors cast,
When the king made a joyful morn
To all who toil with him had borne."

And again he made these lines: --

"To Jerusalem he came,
He who loves war's noble game,
(The skald no greater monarch finds
Beneath the heaven's wide hall of winds)
All sin and evil from him flings
In Jordan's wave: for all his sins
(Which all must praise) he pardon wins."

King Sigurd stayed a long time in the land of Jerusalem
(Jorsalaland) in autumn, and in the beginning of winter.


King Baldwin made a magnificent feast for King Sigurd and many of
his people, and gave him many holy relics. By the orders of King
Baldwin and the patriarch, there was taken a splinter off the
holy cross; and on this holy relic both made oath, that this wood
was of the holy cross upon which God Himself had been tortured.
Then this holy relic was given to King Sigurd; with the condition
that he, and twelve other men with him, should swear to promote
Christianity with all his power, and erect an archbishop's seat
in Norway if he could; and also that the cross should be kept
where the holy King Olaf reposed, and that he should introduce
tithes, and also pay them himself. After this King Sigurd
returned to his ships at Acre; and then King Baldwin prepared to
go to Syria, to a heathen town called Saet. On this expedition
King Sigurd accompanied him, and after the kings had besieged the
town some time it surrendered, and they took possession of it,
and of a great treasure of money; and their men found other
booty. King Sigurd made a present of his share to King Baldwin.
So say Haldor Skvaldre: --

"He who for wolves provides the feast
Seized on the city in the East,
The heathen nest; and honour drew,
And gold to give, from those he slew."

Einar Skulason also tells of it: --

"The Norsemen's king, the skalds relate,
Has ta'en the heathen town of Saet:
The slinging engine with dread noise
Gables and roofs with stones destroys.
The town wall totters too, -- it falls;
The Norsemen mount the blackened walls.
He who stains red the raven's bill
Has won, -- the town lies at his will."

Thereafter King Sigurd went to his ships and made ready to leave
Palestine. They sailed north to the island Cyprus; and King
Sigurd stayed there a while, and then went to the Greek country,
and came to the land with all his fleet at Engilsnes. Here he
lay still for a fortnight, although every day it blew a breeze
for going before the wind to the north; but Sigurd would wait a
side wind, so that the sails might stretch fore and aft in the
ship; for in all his sails there was silk joined in, before and
behind in the sail, and neither those before nor those behind the
ships could see the slightest appearance of this, if the vessel
was before the wind; so they would rather wait a side wind.


When King Sigurd sailed into Constantinople, he steered near the
land. Over all the land there are burghs, castles, country
towns, the one upon the other without interval. There from the
land one could see into the bights of the sails; and the sails
stood so close beside each other, that they seemed to form one
enclosure. All the people turned out to see King Sigurd sailing
past. The Emperor Kirjalax had also heard of King Sigurd's
expedition, and ordered the city port of Constantinople to be
opened, which is called the Gold Tower, through which the emperor
rides when he has been long absent from Constantinople, or has
made a campaign in which he has been victorious. The emperor had
precious cloths spread out from the Gold Tower to Laktjarna,
which is the name of the emperor's most splendid hall. King
Sigurd ordered his men to ride in great state into the city, and
not to regard all the new things they might see; and this they
did. King Sigurd and his followers rode with this great
splendour into Constantinople, and then came to the magnificent
hall, where everything was in the grandest style.

King Sigurd remained here some time. The Emperor Kirjalax sent
his men to him to ask if he would rather accept from the emperor
six lispund of gold, or would have the emperor give the games in
his honour which the emperor was used to have played at the
Padreim. King Sigurd preferred the games, and the messengers
said the spectacle would not cost the emperor less than the money
offered. Then the emperor prepared for the games, which were
held in the usual way; but this day everything went on better for
the king than for the queen; for the queen has always the half
part in the games, and their men, therefore, always strive
against each other in all games. The Greeks accordingly think
that when the king's men win more games at the Padreim than the
queen's, the king will gain the victory when he goes into battle.
People who have been in Constantinople tell that the Padreim is
thus constructed: -- A high wall surrounds a flat plain, which
may be compared to a round bare Thing-place, with earthen banks
all around at the stone wall, on which banks the spectators sit;
but the games themselves are in the flat plain. There are many
sorts of old events represented concerning the Asas, Volsungs,
and Giukungs, in these games; and all the figures are cast in
copper, or metal, with so great art that they appear to be living
things; and to the people it appears as if they were really
present in the games. The games themselves are so artfully and
cleverly managed, that people appear to be riding in the air; and
at them also are used shot-fire (1), and all kinds of harp-
playing, singing, and music instruments.

(1) Fireworks, or the Greek fire, probably were used. -- L.


It is related that King Sigurd one day was to give the emperor a
feast, and he ordered his men to provide sumptuously all that was
necessary for the entertainment; and when all things were
provided which are suitable for an entertainment given by a great
personage to persons of high dignity, King Sigurd ordered his
men to go to the street in the city where firewood was sold, as
they would require a great quantity to prepare the feast. They
said the king need not be afraid of wanting firewood, for every
day many loads were brought into the town. When it was
necessary, however, to have firewood, it was found that it was
all sold, which they told the king. He replied, "Go and try if
you can get walnuts. They will answer as well as wood for fuel."
They went and got as many as they needed. Now came the emperor,
and his grandees and court, and sat down to table. All was very
splendid; and King Sigurd received the emperor with great state,
and entertained him magnificently. When the queen and the
emperor found that nothing was wanting, she sent some persons to
inquire what they had used for firewood; and they came to a house
filled with walnuts, and they came back and told the queen.
"Truly," said she, "this is a magnificent king, who spares no
expense where his honour is concerned." She had contrived this
to try what they would do when they could get no firewood to
dress their feast with.


King Sigurd soon after prepared for his return home. He gave the
emperor all his ships; and the valuable figureheads which were on
the king's ships were set up in Peter's church, where they have
since been to be seen. The emperor gave the king many horses and
guides to conduct him through all his dominions. Then King
Sigurd left Constantinople; but a great many Northmen remained,
and went into the emperor's pay. Then King Sigurd traveled from
Bulgaria, and through Hungary, Pannonia. Suabia, and Bavaria,
where he met the Roman emperor, Lotharius, who received him in
the most friendly way, gave him guides through his dominions, and
had markets established for him at which he could purchase all he
required. When King Sigurd came to Slesvik in Denmark, Earl
Eilif made a sumptuous feast for him; and it was then midsummer.
In Heidaby he met the Danish king, Nikolas, who received him in
the most friendly way, made a great entertainment for him,
accompanied him north to Jutland, and gave him a ship provided
with everything needful. From thence the king returned to
Norway, and was joyfully welcomed on his return to his kingdom
(A.D. 1110). It was the common talk among the people, that none
had ever made so honourable a journey from Norway as this of King
Sigurd. He was twenty years of age, and had been three years on
these travels. His brother Olaf was then twelve years old.


King Eystein had also effected much in the country that was
useful while King Sigurd was on his journey. He established a
monastery at Nordnes in Bergen, and endowed it with much
property. He also built Michael's church, which is a very
splendid stone temple. In the king's house there he also built
the Church of the Apostles, and the great hall, which is the most
magnificent wooden structure that was ever built in Norway. He
also built a church at Agdanes with a parapet; and a harbour,
where formerly there had been a barren spot only. In Nidaros he
built in the king's street the church of Saint Nikolas, which was
particularly ornamented with carved work, and all in wood. He
also built a church north in Vagar in Halogaland, and endowed it
with property and revenues.


King Eystein sent a verbal message to the most intelligent and
powerful of the men of Jamtaland, and invited them to him;
received them all as they came with great kindness; accompanied
them part of the way home, and gave them presents, and thus
enticed them into a friendship with him. Now as many of them
became accustomed to visit him and receive gifts from him, and he
also sent gifts to some who did not come themselves, he soon
gained the favour of all the people who had most influence in the
country. Then he spoke to the Jamtaland people, and told them
they had done ill in turning away from the kings of Norway, and
withdrawing from them their taxes and allegiance. He began by
saying how the Jamtaland people had submitted to the reign of
Hakon, the foster-son of Athelstane, and had long afterwards been
subjected to the kings of Norway, and he represented to them how
many useful things they could get from Norway, and how
inconvenient it was for them to apply to the Swedish king for
what they needed. By these speeches he brought matters so far
that the Jamtaland people of their own accord offered to be
subject to him, which they said was useful and necessary for
them; and thus, on both sides, it was agreed that the
Jamtalanders should put their whole country under King Eystein.
The first beginning was with the men of consequence, who
persuaded the people to take an oath of fidelity to King Eystein;
and then they went to King Eystein and confirmed the country to
him by oath; and this arrangement has since continued for a long
time. King Eystein thus conquered Jamtaland by his wisdom, and
not by hostile inroads, as some of his forefathers had done.


King Eystein was the handsomest man that could be seen. He had
blue open eyes; his hair yellow and curling; his stature not
tall, but of the middle size. He was wise, intelligent, and
acquainted with the laws and history. He had much knowledge of
mankind, was quick in counsel, prudent in words, and very
eloquent and very generous. He was very merry, yet modest; and
was liked and beloved, indeed, by all the people. He was married
to Ingebjorg, a daughter of Guthorm, son of Thorer of Steig; and
their daughter was Maria, who afterwards married Gudbrand


King Eystein had in many ways improved the laws and priveleges of
the country people, and kept strictly to the laws; and he made
himself acquainted with all the laws of Norway, and showed in
everything great prudence and understanding. What a valuable man
King Eystein was, how full of friendship, and how much he turned
his mind to examining and avoiding everything that could be of
disadvantage to his friends, may be seen from his friendship to
an Iceland man called Ivar Ingimundson. The man was witty, of
great family, and also a poet. The king saw that Ivar was out of
spirits, and asked him why he was so melancholy. "Before, when
thou wast with us, we had much amusement with thy conversation.
I know thou art a man of too good an understanding to believe
that I would do anything against thee. Tell me then what it is."

He replied, "I cannot tell thee what it is."

Then said the king, "I will try to guess what it is. Are there
any men who displease thee?"

To this he replied, "No."

"Dost thou think thou art held in less esteem by me than thou
wouldst like to be?"

To this he also replied, "No."

"Hast thou observed anything whatever that has made an impression
on thee at which thou art ill pleased?"

He replied, it was not this either.

The king: "Would you like to go to other chiefs or to other men?"

To this he answered, "No."

The king: "It is difficult now to guess. Is there any girl here,
or in any other country, to whom thy affections are engaged?"

He said it was so.

The king said, "Do not be melancholy on that account. Go to
Iceland when spring sets in, and I shall give thee money, and
presents, and with these my letters and seal to the men who have
the principal sway there; and I know no man there who will not
obey my persuasions or threats."

Ivar replied, "My fate is heavier, sire; for my own brother has
the girl."

Then said the king, "Throw it out of thy mind; and I know a
counsel against this. After Yule I will travel in
guest-quarters. Thou shalt come along with me, and thou will
have an opportunity of seeing many beautiful girls; and, provided
they are not of the royal stock, I will get thee one of them in

Ivar replies, "Sire, my fate is still the heavier; for as oft as
I see beautiful and excellent girls I only remember the more that
girl, and they increase my misery."

The king: "Then I will give thee property to manage, and estates
for thy amusement."

He replied, "For that I have no desire."

The king: "Then I will give thee money, that thou mayest travel
in other countries."

He said he did not wish this.

Then said the king, "It is difficult for me to seek farther, for
I have proposed everything that occurs to me. There is but one
thing else; and that is but little compared to what I have
offered thee. Come to me every day after the tables are removed,
and, if I am not sitting upon important business, I shall talk
with thee about the girl in every way that I can think of; and I
shall do so at leisure. It sometimes happens that sorrow is
lightened by being brought out openly; and thou shalt never go
away without some gift."

He replied, "This I will do, sire, and return thanks for this

And now they did so constantly; and when the king was not
occupied with weightier affairs he talked with him, and his
sorrow by degrees wore away, and he was again in good spirits.


King Sigurd was a stout and strong man, with brown hair; of a
manly appearance, but not handsome; well grown; of little speech,
and often not friendly, but good to his friends, and faithful;
not very eloquent, but moral and polite. King Sigurd was self-
willed, and severe in his revenge; strict in observing the law;
was generous; and withal an able, powerful king. His brother
Olaf was a tall, thin man; handsome in countenance; lively,
modest, and popular. When all these brothers, Eystein, Sigurd
and Olaf were kings of Norway, they did away with many burthens
which the Danes had laid upon the people in the time that Svein
Alfifason ruled Norway; and on this account they were much
beloved, both by the people and the great men of the country.


Once King Sigurd fell into low spirits, so that few could get him
to converse, and he sat but a short time at the drinking table.
This was heavy on his counsellors, friends, and court; and they
begged King Eystein to consider how they could discover the cause
why the people who came to the king could get no reply to what
they laid before him. King Eystein answered them, that it was
difficult to speak with the king about this; but at last, on the
entreaty of many, he promised to do it. Once, when they were
both together, King Eystein brought the matter before his
brother, and asked the cause of his melancholy. "It is a great
grief, sire, to many to see thee so melancholy; and we would like
to know what has occasioned it, or if perchance thou hast heard
any news of great weight?"

King Sigurd replies, that it was not so.

"Is it then, brother," says King Eystein, "that you would like to
travel out of the country, and augment your dominions as our
father did?"

He answered, that it was not that either.

"Is it, then, that any man here in the country has offended?"

To this also the king said "No."

"Then I would like to know if you have dreamt anything that has
occasioned this depression of mind?"

The king answered that it was so.

"Tell me, then, brother, thy dream."

King Sigurd said, "I will not tell it, unless thou interpret it
as it may turn out; and I shall be quick at perceiving if thy
interpretation be right or not."

King Eystein replies, "This is a very difficult matter, sire, on
both sides; as I am exposed to thy anger if I cannot interpret
it, and to the blame of the public if I can do nothing in the
matter; but I will rather fall under your displeasure, even if my
interpretation should not be agreeable."

King Sigurd replies, "It appeared to me, in a dream, as if we
brothers were all sitting on a bench in front of Christ church in
Throndhjem; and it appeared to me as if our relative, King Olaf
the Saint, came out of the church adorned with the royal raiment
glancing and splendid, and with the most delightful and joyful
countenance. He went to our brother King Olaf, took him by the
hand, and said cheerfully, to him, `Come with me, friend.' On
which he appeared to stand up and go into the church. Soon after
King Olaf the Saint came out of the church, but not so gay and
brilliant as before. Now he went to thee, brother, and said to
thee that thou shouldst go with him; on which he led thee with
him, and ye went into the church. Then I thought, and waited for
it, that he would come to me, and meet me; but it was not so.
Then I was seized with great sorrow, and great dread and anxiety
fell upon me, so that I was altogether without strength; and then
I awoke."

King Eystein replies, "Thus I interpret your dream, sire, -- That
the bench betokens the kingdom we brothers have; and as you
thought King Olaf came with so glad a countenance to our brother,
King Olaf, he will likely live the shortest time of us brothers,
and have all good to expect hereafter; for he is amiable, young
in years, and has gone but little into excess, and King Olaf the
Saint must help him. But as you thought he came towards me, but
not with so much joy, I may possibly live a few years longer, but
not become old, and I trust his providence will stand over me;
but that he did not come to me with the same splendour and glory
as to our brother Olaf, that will be because, in many ways, I
have sinned and transgressed his command. If he delayed coming
to thee, I think that in no way betokens thy death, but rather a
long life; but it may be that some heavy accident may occur to
thee, as there was an unaccountable dread overpowering thee; but
I foretell that thou will be the oldest of us, and wilt rule the
kingdom longest."

Then said Sigurd, "This is well and intelligently interpreted,
and it is likely it will be so." And now the king began to be
cheerful again.


King Sigurd married Malmfrid, a daughter of King Harald
Valdemarson, eastward in Novgorod. King Harald Valdemarson's
mother was Queen Gyda the Old, a daughter of the Swedish king,
Inge Steinkelson. Harald Valdemarson's other daughter, sister to
Malmfrid, was Ingebjorg, who was married to Canute Lavard, a son
of the Danish king, Eirik the Good, and grandson of King Svein
Ulfson. Canute's and Ingebjorg's children were, the Danish king,
Valdemar, who came to the Danish kingdom after Svein Eirikson;
and daughters Margaret, Christina, and Catherine. Margaret was
married to Stig Hvitaled; and their daughter was Christina,
married to the Swedish king, Karl Sorkvison, and their son was
King Sorkver.


The king's relative, Sigurd Hranason, came into strife with King
Sigurd. He had had the Lapland collectorship on the king's
account, because of their relationship and long friendship, and
also of the many services Sigurd Hranason had done to the kings;
for he was a very distinguished, popular man. But it happened to
him, as it often does to others, that persons more wicked and
jealous than upright slandered him to King Sigurd, and whispered
in the king's ear that he took more of the Laplander's tribute to
himself than was proper. They spoke so long about this, that
King Sigurd conceived a dislike and anger to him, and sent a
message to him. When he appeared before the king, the king
carried these feelings with him, and said, "I did not expect that
thou shouldst have repaid me for thy great fiefs and other
dignities by taking the king's property, and abstracting a
greater portion of it than is allowable."

Sigurd Hranason replies, "It is not true that has been told you;
for I have only taken such portion as I had your permission to

King Sigurd replies, "Thou shalt not slip away with this; but the
matter shall be seriously treated before it comes to an end."
With that they parted.

Soon after, by the advice of his friends, the king laid an action
against Sigurd Hranason at the Thing-meeting in Bergen, and would
have him made an outlaw. Now when the business took this turn,
and appeared so dangerous, Sigurd Hranason went to King Eystein,
and told him what mischief King Sigurd intended to do him, and
entreated his assistance. King Eystein replied, "This is a
difficult matter that you propose to me, to speak against my
brother; and there is a great difference between defending a
cause and pursuing it in law;" and added, that this was a matter
which concerned him and Sigurd equally. "But for thy distress,
and our relationship, I shall bring in a word for thee."

Soon after Eystein visited King Sigurd, and entreated him to
spare the man, reminding him of the relationship between them and
Sigurd Hranason, who was married to their aunt, Skialdvor; and
said he would pay the penalty for the crime committed against the
king, although he could not with truth impute any blame to him in
the matter. Besides, he reminded the king of the long friendship
with Sigurd Hranason. King Sigurd replied, that it was better
government to punish such acts. Then King Eystein replied, "If
thou, brother, wilt follow the law, and punish such acts
according to the country's privileges, then it would be most
correct that Sigurd Hranason produce his witnesses, and that the
case be judged at the Thing, but not at a meeting; for the case
comes under the law of the land, not under Bjarkey law." Then
said Sigurd, "It may possibly be so that the case belongs to it,
as thou sayest, King Eystein; and if it be against law what has
hitherto been done in this case, then we shall bring it before
the Thing." Then the kings parted, and each seemed determined to
take his own way. King Sigurd summoned the parties in the case
before the Arnarnes Thing, and intended to pursue it there. King
Eystein came also to the Thing-place; and when the case was
brought forward for judgment, King Eystein went to the Thing
before judgment was given upon Sigurd Hranason. Now King Sigurd
told the lagmen to pronounce the judgment; but King Eystein
replied thus: "I trust there are here men acquainted sufficiently
with the laws of Norway, to know that they cannot condemn a
lendermen to be outlawed at this Thing." And he then explained
how the law was, so that every man clearly understood it. Then
said King Sigurd, "Thou art taking up this matter very warmly,
King Eystein, and it is likely the case will cost more trouble
before it comes to an end than we intended; but nevertheless we
shall follow it out. I will have him condemned to be outlawed in
his native place." Then said King Eystein, "There are certainly
not many things which do not succeed with thee, and especially
when there are but few and small folks to oppose one who has
carried through such great things." And thus they parted,
without anything being concluded in the case. Thereafter King
Sigurd called together a Gula Thing, went himself there, and
summoned to him many high chiefs. King Eystein came there also
with his suite; and many meetings and conferences were held among
people of understanding concerning this case, and it was tried
and examined before the lagmen. Now King Eystein objected that
all the parties summoned in any cases tried here belonged to the
Thing-district; but in this case the deed and the parties
belonged to Halogaland. The Thing accordingly ended in doing
nothing, as King Eystein had thus made it incompetent. The kings
parted in great wrath; and King Eystein went north to Throndhjem.
King Sigurd, on the other hand, summoned to him all lendermen,
and also the house-servants of the lendermen, and named out of
every district a number of the bondes from the south parts of the
country, so that he had collected a large army about him; and
proceeded with all this crowd northwards along the coast to
Halogaland, and intended to use all his power to make Sigurd
Hranason an outlaw among his own relations. For this purpose he
summoned to him the Halogaland and Naumudal people, and appointed
a Thing at Hrafnista. King Eystein prepared himself also, and
proceeded with many people from the town of Nidaros to the Thing,
where he made Sigurd Hranason, by hand-shake before witnesses,
deliver over to him the following and defending this case. At
this Thing both the kings spoke, each for his own side. Then
King Eystein asks the lagmen where that law was made in Norway
which gave the bondes the right to judge between the kings of the
country, when they had pleas with each other. "I shall bring
witnesses to prove that Sigurd has given the case into my hands;
and it is with me, not with Sigurd Hranason, that King Sigurd has
to do in this case." The lagmen said that disputes between kings
must be judged only at the Eyra Thing in Nidaros.

King Eystein said, "So I thought that it should be there, and the
cases must be removed there."

Then King Sigurd said, "The more difficulties and inconvenience
thou bringest upon me in this matter, the more I will persevere
in it." And with that they parted.

Both kings then went south to Nidaros town, where they summoned a
Thing from eight districts. King Eystein was in the town with a
great many people, but Sigurd was on board his ships. When the
Thing was opened, peace and safe conduct was given to all; and
when the people were all collected, and the case should be gone
into, Bergthor, a son of Svein Bryggjufot, stood up, and gave his
evidence that Sigurd Hranason had concealed a part of the
Laplanders' taxes.

Then King Eystein stood up and said, "If thy accusation were
true, although we do not know what truth there may be in thy
testimony, yet this case has already been dismissed from three
Things, and a fourth time from a town meeting; and therefore I
require that the lagmen acquit Sigurd in this case according to
law." And they did so.

Then said King Sigurd, "I see sufficiently, King Eystein, that
thou hast carried this case by law-quirks (1), which I do not
understand. But now there remains, King Eystein, a way of
determining the case which I am more used to, and which I shall
now apply."

He then retired to his ships, had the tents taken down, laid his
whole fleet out at the holm, and held a Thing of his people; and
told them that early in the morning they should land at
Iluvellir, and give battle to King Eystein. But in the evening,
as King Sigurd sat at his table in his ship taking his repast,
before he was aware of it a man cast himself on the floor of the
forehold, and at the king's feet. This was Sigurd Hranason, who
begged the king to take what course with regard to him the king
himself thought proper. Then came Bishop Magne and Queen
Malmfrid, and many other great personages, and entreated
forgiveness for Sigurd Hranason; and at their entreaty the king
raised him up, took him by the hand, and placed him among his
men, and took him along with himself to the south part of the
country. In autumn the king gave Sigurd Hranason leave to go
north to his farm, gave him an employment, and was always
afterward his friend. After this day, however, the brothers were
never much together, and there was no cordiality or cheerfulness
among them.

(1) These law-quirks show a singularly advanced state of law.
and deference to the Law Things, amidst such social disorder
and misdeeds. -- L.


King Olaf Magnuson fell into a sickness which ended in his death.
He was buried in Christ church in Nidaros, and many were in great
grief at his death. After Olaf's death, Eystein and Sigurd ruled
the country, the three brothers together having been kings of
Norway for twelve years (A.D. 1104-1115); namely, five years
after King Sigurd returned home, and seven years before. King
Olaf was seventeen years old when he died, and it happened on the
24th of December.


King Eystein had been about a year in the east part of the
country at that time, and King Sigurd was then in the north.
King Eystein remained a long time that winter in Sarpsborg.
There was once a powerful and rich bonde called O1af of Dal, who
dwelt in Great Dal in Aumord, and had two children, -- a son
called Hakon Fauk, and a daughter called Borghild, who was a very
beautiful girl, and prudent, and well skilled in many things.
Olaf and his children were a long time in winter in Sarpsborg,
and Borghild conversed very often with King Eystein; so that many
reports were spread about their friendship. The following summer
King Eystein went north, and King Sigurd came eastward, where he
remained all winter, and was long in Konungahella, which town he
greatly enlarged and improved. He built there a great castle of
turf and stone, dug a great ditch around it, and built a church
and several houses within the castle. The holy cross he allowed
to remain at Konungahella, and therein did not fulfill the oath
he had taken in Palestine; but, on the other hand, he established
tithe, and most of the other things to which he had bound himself
by oath. The reason of his keeping the cross east at the
frontier of the country was, that he thought it would be a
protection to all the land; but it proved the greatest misfortune
to place this relic within the power of the heathens, as it
afterwards turned out.

When Borghild, Olaf's daughter, heard it whispered that people
talked ill of her conversations and intimacy with King Eystein,
she went to Sarpsborg; and after suitable fasts she carried the
iron as proof of her innocence, and cleared herself thereby fully
from all offence. When King Sigurd heard this, he rode one day
as far as usually was two days' travelling, and came to Dal to
Olaf, where he remained all night, made Borghild his concubine,
and took her away with him. They had a son, who was called
Magnus, and he was sent immediately to Halogaland, to be fostered
at Bjarkey by Vidkun Jonson; and he was brought up there. Magnus
grew up to be the handsomest man that could be seen, and was very
soon stout and strong.


King Eystein and King Sigurd went both in spring to
guest-quarters in the Uplands; and each was entertained in a
separate house, and the houses were not very distant from each
other. The bondes, however, thought it more convenient that both
should be entertained together by turns in each house; and thus
they were both at first in the house of King Eystein. But in the
evening, when the people began to drink, the ale was not good; so
that the guests were very quiet and still. Then said King
Eystein, "Why are the people so silent? It is more usual in
drinking parties that people are merry, so let us fall upon some
jest over our ale that will amuse people; for surely, brother
Sigurd, all people are well pleased when we talk cheerfully."

Sigurd replies, bluntly, "Do you talk as much as you please, but
give me leave to be silent."

Eystein says, "It is a common custom over the ale-table to
compare one person with another, and now let us do so." Then
Sigurd was silent.

"I see," says King Eystein, "that I must begin this amusement.
Now I will take thee, brother, to compare myself with, and will
make it appear so as if we had both equal reputation and
property, and that there is no difference in our birth and

Then King Sigurd replies, "Do you remember that I was always able
to throw you when we wrestled, although you are a year older?"

Then King Eystein replied, "But I remember that you was not so
good at the games which require agility."

Sigurd: "Do you remember that I could drag you under water, when
we swam together, as often as I pleased?"

Eystein: "But I could swim as far as you, and could dive as well
as you; and I could run upon snow-skates so well that nobody
could beat me, and you could no more do it than an ox."

Sigurd: "Methinks it is a more useful and suitable accomplishment
for a chief to be expert at his bow; and I think you could
scarcely draw my bow, even if you took your foot to help."

Eystein: "I am not strong at the bow as you are, but there is
less difference between our shooting near; and I can use the
skees much better than you, and in former times that was held a
great accomplishment."

Sigurd: "It appears to me much better for a chief who is to be
the superior of other men, that he is conspicuous in a crowd, and
strong and powerful in weapons above other men; easily seen, and
easily known, where there are many together."

Eystein: "It is not less a distinction and an ornament that a man
is of a handsome appearance, so as to be easily known from others
on that account; and this appears to me to suit a chief best,
because the best ornament is allied to beauty. I am moreover
more knowing in the law than you, and on every subject my words
flow more easily than yours."

Sigurd: "It may be that you know more law-quirks, for I have had
something else to do; neither will any deny you a smooth tongue.
But there are many who say that your words are not to be trusted;
that what you promise is little to be regarded; and that you talk
just according to what those who are about you say, which is not

Eystein: "This is because, when people bring their cases before
me, I wish first to give every man that satisfaction in his
affairs which he desires; but afterwards comes the opposite
party, and then there is something to be given or taken away very
often, in order to mediate between them, so that both may be
satisfied. It often happens, too, that I promise whatever is
desired of me, that all may be joyful about me. It would be an
easy matter for me to do as you do, -- to promise evil to all;
and I never hear any complain of your not keeping this promise to

Sigurd: "It is the conversation of all that the expedition that I
made out of the country was a princely expedition, while you in
the meantime sat at home like your father's daughter."

Eystein: "Now you touched the tender spot. I would not have
brought up this conversation if I had not known what to reply on
this point. I can truly say that I equipt you from home like a
sister, before you went upon this expedition."

Sigurd: "You must have heard that on this expedition I was in
many a battle in the Saracen's land, and gained the victory in
all; and you must have heard of the many valuable articles I
acquired, the like of which were never seen before in this
country, and I was the most respected wherever the most gallant
men were; and, on the other hand, you cannot conceal that you
have only a home-bred reputation."

Eystein: "I have heard that you had several battles abroad, but
it was more useful for the country what I was doing in the
meantime here at home. I built five churches from the
foundations, and a harbour out at Agdanes, where it before was
impossible to land, and where vessels ply north and south along
the coast. I set a warping post and iron ring in the sound of
Sinholm, and in Bergen I built a royal hall, while you were
killing bluemen for the devil in Serkland. This, I think, was of
but little advantage to our kingdom."

King Sigurd said: "On this expedition I went all the way to
Jordan and swam across the river. On the edge of the river there
is a bush of willows, and there I twisted a knot of willows, and
said this knot thou shouldst untie, brother, or take the curse
thereto attached."

King Eystein said: "I shall not go and untie the knot which you
tied for me; but if I had been inclined to tie a knot for thee,
thou wouldst not have been king of Norway at thy return to this
country, when with a single ship you came sailing into my fleet."

Thereupon both were silent, and there was anger on both sides.
More things passed between the brothers, from which it appeared
that each of them would be greater than the other; however, peace
was preserved between them as long as they lived.


King Sigurd was at a feast in the Upland, and a bath was made
ready for him. When the king came to the bath and the tent was
raised over the bathing-tub, the king thought there was a fish in
the tub beside him; and a great laughter came upon him, so that
he was beside himself, and was out of his mind, and often
afterwards these fits returned.

Magnus Barefoot's daughter, Ragnhild, was married by her brothers
to Harald Kesia, a son of the Danish king, Eirik the Good; and
their sons were Magnus, Olaf, Knut and Harald.


King Eystein built a large ship at Nidaros, which, in size and
shape, was like the Long Serpent which King Olaf Trygvason had
built. At the stem there was a dragon's head, and at the stern a
crooked tail, and both were gilded over. The ship was high-
sided; but the fore and aft parts appeared less than they should
be. He also made in Nidaros many and large dry-docks of the best
material, and well timbered.

Six years after King Olaf's death, it happened that King Eystein,
at a feast at Hustadir in Stim, was seized with an illness which
soon carried him off. He died the 29th of August, 1123, and his
body was carried north to Nidaros, and buried in Christ church;
and it is generally said that so many mourners never stood over
any man's grave in Norway as over King Eystein's, at least since
the time Magnus the Good, Saint Olaf's son, died. Eystein had
been twenty years (A.D. 1104-1123) king of Norway; and after his
decease his brother, King Sigurd, was the sole king of Norway as
long as he lived.


The Danish king, Nikolas, a son of Svein Ulfson, married
afterwards the Queen Margaret, a daughter of King Inge, who had
before been married to King Magnus Barefoot; and their sons were
Nikolas and Magnus the Strong. King Nikolas sent a message to
King Sigurd the Crusader, and asked him if he would go with him
with all his might and help him to the east of the Swedish
dominion, Smaland, to baptize the inhabitants; for the people who
dwelt there had no regard for Christianity, although some of them
had allowed themselves to be baptized. At that time there were
many people all around in the Swedish dominions who were
heathens, and many were bad Christians; for there were some of
the kings who renounced Christianity, and continued heathen
sacrifices, as Blotsvein, and afterwards Eirik Arsale, had done.
King Sigurd promised to undertake this journey, and the kings
appointed their meeting at Eyrarsund. King Sigurd then summoned
all people in Norway to a levy, both of men and ships; and when
the fleet was assembled he had about 300 ships. King Nikolas
came very early to the meeting-place, and stayed there a long
time; and the bondes murmured much, and said the Northmen did not
intend to come. Thereupon the Danish army dispersed, and the
king went away with all his fleet. King Sigurd came there soon
afterwards, and was ill pleased; but sailed east to Svimraros,
and held a House-thing, at which Sigurd spoke about King
Nikolas's breach of faith, and the Northmen, on this account,
determined to go marauding in his country. They first plundered
a village called Tumathorp, which is not far from Lund; and then
sailed east to the merchant-town of Calmar, where they plundered,
as well as in Smaland, and imposed on the country a tribute of
1500 cattle for ship provision; and the people of Smaland
received Christianity. After this King Sigurd turned about with
his fleet, and came back to his kingdom with many valuable
articles and great booty, which he had gathered on this
expedition; and this levy was called the Calmar levy. This was
the summer before the eclipse. This was the only levy King
Sigurd carried out as long as he was king.


It happened once when King Sigurd was going from the drinking-
table to vespers, that his men were very drunk and merry; and
many of them sat outside the church singing the evening song, but
their singing was very irregular. Then the king said, "Who is
that fellow I see standing at the church with a skin jacket on?"
They answered, that they did not know. Then the king said: --

"This skin-clad man, in sorry plight,
Puts all our wisdom here to flight."

Then the fellow came forward and said: --

"I thought that here I might be known,
Although my dress is scanty grown.
'Tis poor, but I must be content:
Unless, great king, it's thy intent
To give me better; for I have seen
When I and rags had strangers been."

The king answered, "Come to me to-morrow when I am at the drink-
table." The night passed away; and the morning after the
Icelander, who was afterwards called Thorarin Stutfetd, went into

Book of the day: