Part 8 out of 18
who managed the king's farm there at Haug; and to him the king
sent a message to come to him as quickly as possible. Thoralde
did not decline the journey, but went immediately to the town
with the messenger. The king called him in and in a private
conversation asked him what truth there was in what had been told
him of the principles and living of the people of the interior
of Throndhjem, and if it really was so that they practised
sacrifices to heathen gods. "I will," says the king, "that thou
declare to me the things as they are, and as thou knowest to be
true; for it is thy duty to tell me the truth, as thou art my
Thoralde replies, "Sire, I will first tell you that I have
brought here to the town my two children, my wife, and all my
loose property that I could take with me, and if thou desirest to
know the truth it shall be told according to thy command; but
if I declare it, thou must take care of me and mine."
The king replies, "Say only what is true on what I ask thee, and
I will take care that no evil befall thee."
Then said Thoralde, "If I must say the truth, king, as it is, I
must declare that in the interior of the Throndhjem land almost
all the people are heathen in faith, although some of them are
baptized. It is their custom to offer sacrifice in autumn for a
good winter, a second at mid-winter, and a third in summer. In
this the people of Eyna, Sparby, Veradal, and Skaun partake.
There are twelve men who preside over these sacrifice-feasts; and
in spring it is Olver who has to get the feast in order, and he
is now busy transporting to Maerin everything needful for it."
Now when the king had got to the truth with a certainty, he
ordered the signal to be sounded for his men to assemble, and for
the men-at-arms to go on board ship. He appointed men to steer
the ships, and leaders for the people, and ordered how the people
should be divided among the vessels. All was got ready in haste,
and with five ships and 300 men he steered up the fjord. The
wind was favourable, the ships sailed briskly before it, and
nobody could have thought that the king would be so soon there.
The king came in the night time to Maerin, and immediately
surrounded the house with a ring of armed men. Olver was taken,
and the king ordered him to be put to death, and many other men
besides. Then the king took all the provision for the feast, and
had it brought to his ships; and also all the goods, both
furniture, clothes, and valuables, which the people had brought
there, and divided the booty among his men. The king also let
all the bondes he thought had the greatest part in the business
be plundered by his men-at-arms. Some were taken prisoners and
laid in irons, some ran away, and many were robbed of their
goods. Thereafter the bondes were summoned to a Thing; but
because he had taken many powerful men prisoners, and held them
in his power, their friends and relations resolved to promise
obedience to the king, so that there was no insurrection against
the king on this occasion. He thus brought the whole people back
to the right faith, gave them teachers, and built and consecrated
churches. The king let Olver lie without fine paid for his
bloodshed, and all that he possessed was adjudged to the king;
and of the men he judged the most guilty, some he ordered to be
executed, some he maimed, some he drove out of the country, and
took fines from others. The king then returned to Nidaros.
(1) The ships appear to have been decked fore and aft only; and
in the middle, where the rowers sat, to have had tilts or
tents set up at night to sleep under. -- L.
116. OF THE SONS OF ARNE.
There was a man called Arne Arnmodson, who was married to Thora,
Thorstein Galge's daughter. Their children were Kalf, Fin,
Thorberg, Amunde, Kolbjorn, Arnbjorn, and Arne. Their daughter,
who was called Ragnhild, was married to Harek of Thjotta. Arne
was a lenderman, powerful, and of ability, and a great friend of
King Olaf. At that time his sons Kalf and Fin were with the
king, and in great favour. The wife whom Olver of Eggja had left
was young and handsome, of great family, and rich, so that he who
got her might be considered to have made an excellent marriage;
and her land was in the gift of the king. She and Olver had two
sons, who were still in infancy. Kalf Arneson begged of the king
that he would give him to wife the widow of Olver; and out of
friendship the king agreed to it, and with her he got all the
property Olver had possessed. The king at the same time made him
his lenderman, and gave him an office in the interior of the
Throndhjem country. Kalf became a great chief, and was a man of
very great understanding.
117. KING OLAF'S JOURNEY TO THE UPLANDS.
When King Olaf had been seven years (A.D. 1015-1021) in Norway
the earls Thorfin and Bruse came to him, as before related, in
the summer, from Orkney, and he became master of their land. The
same summer Olaf went to North and South More, and in autumn to
Raumsdal. He left his ships there, and came to the Uplands, and
to Lesjar. Here he laid hold of all the best men, and forced
them, both at Lesjar and Dovre, either to receive Christianity or
suffer death, if they were not so lucky as to escape. After they
received Christianity, the king took their sons in his hands as
hostages for their fidelity. The king stayed several nights at a
farm in Lesjar called Boar, where he placed priests. Then he
proceeded over Orkadal and Lorodal, and came down from the
Uplands at a place called Stafabrekka. There a river runs along
the valley, called the Otta, and a beautiful hamlet, by name
Loar, lies on both sides of the river, and the king could see far
down over the whole neighbourhood. "A pity it is," said the
king, "so beautiful a hamlet should be burnt." And he proceeded
down the valley with his people, and was all night on a farm
called Nes. The king took his lodging in a loft, where he slept
himself; and it stands to the present day, without anything in it
having been altered since. The king was five days there, and
summoned by message-token the people to a Thing, both for the
districts of Vagar, Lear, and Hedal; and gave out the message
along with the token, that they must either receive Christianity
and give their sons as hostages, or see their habitations burnt.
They came before the king, and submitted to his pleasure; but
some fled south down the valley.
118. THE STORY OF DALE-GUDBRAND.
There was a man called Dale-Gudbrand, who was like a king in the
valley (Gudbrandsdal), but was only herse in title. Sigvat the
skald compared him for wealth and landed property to Erling
Skjalgson. Sigvat sang thus concerning Erling: --
"I know but one who can compare
With Erling for broad lands and gear --
Gudbrand is he, whose wide domains
Are most like where some small king reigns.
These two great bondes, I would say,
Equal each other every way.
He lies who says that he can find
One by the other left behind."
Gudbrand had a son, who is here spoken of. Now when Gudbrand
received the tidings that King Olaf was come to Lear, and obliged
people to accept Christianity, he sent out a message-token, and
summoned all the men in the valley to meet him at a farm called
Hundthorp. All came, so that the number could not be told; for
there is a lake in the neighbourhood called Laugen, so that
people could come to the place both by land and by water. There
Gudbrand held a Thing with them, and said, "A man is come to Loar
who is called Olaf, and will force upon us another faith than
what we had before, and will break in pieces all our gods. He
says that he has a much greater and more powerful god; and it is
wonderful that the earth does not burst asunder under him, or
that our god lets him go about unpunished when he dares to talk
such things. I know this for certain, that if we carry Thor, who
has always stood by us, out of our temple that is standing upon
this farm, Olaf's god will melt away, and he and his men be made
nothing so soon as Thor looks upon them." Then the bondes all
shouted as one person that Olaf should never get away with life
if he came to them; and they thought he would never dare to come
farther south through the valley. They chose out 700 men to go
northwards to Breida, to watch his movements. The leader of this
band was Gudbrand's son, eighteen years of age, and with him were
many other men of importance. When they came to a farm called
Hof they heard of the king; and they remained three nights there.
People streamed to them from all parts, from Lesjar, Loar, and
Vagar, who did not wish to receive Christianity. The king and
Bishop Sigurd fixed teachers in Loaf and in Vagar. From thence
they went round Vagarost, and came down into the valley at Sil,
where they stayed all night, and heard the news that a great
force of men were assembled against them. The bondes who were in
Breida heard also of the king's arrival, and prepared for battle.
As soon as the king arose in the morning he put on his armour,
and went southwards over the Sil plains, and did not halt until
he came to Breida, where he saw a great army ready for battle.
Then the king drew up his troops, rode himself at the head of
them, and began a speech to the bondes, in which he invited them
to adopt Christianity. They replied, "We shall give thee
something else to do to-day than to be mocking us;" and raised a
general shout, striking also upon their shields with their
weapons. Then the king's men ran forward and threw their spears;
but the bondes turned round instantly and fled, so that only few
men remained behind. Gudbrand's son was taken prisoner; but the
king gave him his life, and took him with him. The king was four
days here. Then the king said to Gudbrand's son, "Go home now to
thy father, and tell him I expect to be with him soon."
He went accordingly, and told his father the news, that they had
fallen in with the king, and fought with him; but that their
whole army, in the very beginning, took flight. "I was taken
prisoner," said he, "but the king gave me my life and liberty,
and told me to say to thee that he will soon be here. And now we
have not 200 men of the force we raised against him; therefore I
advise thee, father, not to give battle to that man."
Says Gudbrand, "It is easy to see that all courage has left thee,
and it was an unlucky hour ye went out to the field. Thy
proceeding will live long in the remembrance of people, and I see
that thy fastening thy faith on the folly that man is going about
with has brought upon thee and thy men so great a disgrace."
But the night after, Gudbrand dreamt that there came to him a man
surrounded by light, who brought great terror with him, and said
to him, "Thy son made no glorious expedition against King Olaf;
but still less honour wilt thou gather for thyself by holding a
battle with him. Thou with all thy people wilt fall; wolves will
drag thee, and all thine, away; ravens wilt tear thee in
stripes." At this dreadful vision he was much afraid, and tells
it to Thord Istermage, who was chief over the valley. He
replies, "The very same vision came to me." In the morning they
ordered the signal to sound for a Thing, and said that it
appeared to them advisable to hold a Thing with the man who had
come from the north with this new teaching, to know if there was
any truth in it. Gudbrand then said to his son, "Go thou, and
twelve men with thee, to the king who gave thee thy life." He
went straightway, and found the king, and laid before him their
errand; namely, that the bondes would hold a Thing with him, and
make a truce between them and him. The king was content; and
they bound themselves by faith and law mutually to hold the peace
so long as the Thing lasted. After this was settled the men
returned to Gudbrand and Thord, and told them there was made a
firm agreement for a truce. The king, after the battle with the
son of Gudbrand, had proceeded to Lidstad, and remained there for
five days: afterwards he went out to meet the bondes, and hold a
Thing with them. On that day there fell a heavy rain. When the
Thing was seated, the king stood up and said that the people in
Lesjar, Loaf, and Vagar had received Christianity, broken down
their houses of sacrifice, and believed now in the true God who
had made heaven and earth and knows all things.
Thereupon the king sat down, and Gudbrand replies, "We know
nothing of him whom thou speakest about. Dost thou call him God,
whom neither thou nor any one else can see? But we have a god
who call be seen every day, although he is not out to-day,
because the weather is wet, and he will appear to thee terrible
and very grand; and I expect that fear will mix with your very
blood when he comes into the Thing. But since thou sayest thy
God is so great, let him make it so that to-morrow we have a
cloudy day but without rain, and then let us meet again."
The king accordingly returned home to his lodging, taking
Gudbrand's son as a hostage; but he gave them a man as hostage in
exchange. In the evening the king asked Gudbrand's son what like
their god was. He replied, that he bore the likeness of Thor;
had a hammer in his hand; was of great size, but hollow within;
and had a high stand, upon which he stood when he was out.
"Neither gold nor silver are wanting about him, and every day he
receives four cakes of bread, besides meat." They then went to
bed, but the king watched all night in prayer. When day dawned
the king went to mass, then to table, and from thence to the
Thing. The weather was such as Gudbrand desired. Now the bishop
stood up in his choir-robes, with bishop's coif upon his head,
and bishop's staff in his hands. He spoke to the bondes of the
true faith, told the many wonderful acts of God, and concluded
his speech well.
Thord Istermage replies, "Many things we are told of by this
horned man with the staff in his hand crooked at the top like a
ram's horn; but since ye say, comrades, that your god is so
powerful, and can do so many wonders, tell him to make it clear
sunshine to-morrow forenoon, and then we shall meet here again,
and do one of two things, -- either agree with you about this
business, or fight you." And they separated for the day.
119. DALE-GUDBRAND IS BAPTIZED.
There was a man with King Olaf called Kolbein Sterke (the
strong), who came from a family in the Fjord district. Usually
he was so equipped that he was girt with a sword, and besides
carried a great stake, otherwise called a club, in his hands.
The king told Kolbein to stand nearest to him in the morning; and
gave orders to his people to go down in the night to where the
ships of the bondes lay and bore holes in them, and to set loose
their horses on the farms where they were; all which was done.
Now the king was in prayer all the night, beseeching God of His
goodness and mercy to release him from evil. When mass was
ended, and morning was grey, the king went to the Thing. When he
came there some bondes had already arrived, and they saw a great
crowd coming along, and bearing among them a huge man's image
glancing with gold and silver. When the bondes who were at the
Thing saw it they started up, and bowed themselves down before
the ugly idol. Thereupon it was set down upon the Thing-field;
and on the one side of it sat the bondes, and on the other the
king and his people.
Then Dale-Gudbrand stood up, and said, "Where now, king, is thy
god? I think he will now carry his head lower; and neither thou,
nor the man with the horn whom ye call bishop, and sits there
beside thee, are so bold to-day as on the former days; for now
our god, who rules over all, is come, and looks on you with an
angry eye; and now I see well enough that ye are terrified, and
scarcely dare to raise your eyes. Throw away now all your
opposition, and believe in the god who has all your fate in his
The king now whispers to Kolbein Sterke, without the bondes
perceiving it, "If it come so in the course of my speech that the
bondes look another way than towards their idol, strike him as
hard as thou canst with thy club."
The king then stood up and spoke. "Much hast thou talked to us
this morning, and greatly hast thou wondered that thou canst not
see our God; but we expect that he will soon come to us. Thou
wouldst frighten us with thy god, who is both blind and deaf, and
can neither save himself nor others, and cannot even move about
without being carried; but now I expect it will be but a short
time before he meets his fate: for turn your eyes towards the
east, -- behold our God advancing in great light."
The sun was rising, and all turned to look. At that moment
Kolbein gave their god a stroke, so that the idol burst asunder;
and there ran out of it mice as big almost as cats, and reptiles,
and adders. The bondes were so terrified that some fled to their
ships; but when they sprang out upon them they filled with water,
and could not get away. Others ran to their horses, but could
not find them. The king then ordered the bondes to be called
together, saying he wanted to speak with them; on which the
bondes came back, and the Thing was again seated.
The king rose up and said, "I do not understand what your noise
and running mean. Ye see yourselves what your god can do, -- the
idol ye adorned with gold and silver, and brought meat and
provisions to. Ye see now that the protecting powers who used it
were the mice and adders, reptiles and paddocks; and they do ill
who trust to such, and will not abandon this folly. Take now
your gold and ornaments that are lying strewed about on the
grass, and give them to your wives and daughters; but never hang
them hereafter upon stock or stone. Here are now two conditions
between us to choose upon, -- either accept Christianity, or
fight this very day; and the victory be to them to whom the God
we worship gives it."
Then Dale-Gudbrand stood up and said, "We have sustained great
damage upon our god; but since he will not help us, we will
believe in the God thou believest in."
Then all received Christianity. The bishop baptized Gudbrand and
his son. King Olaf and Bishop Sigurd left behind them teachers,
and they who met as enemies parted as friends; and Gudbrand built
a church in the valley.
120. HEDEMARK BAPTIZED.
King Olaf proceeded from thence to Hedemark, and baptized there;
but as he had formerly carried away their kings as prisoners, he
did not venture himself, after such a deed, to go far into the
country with few people at that time, but a small part of
Hedemark was baptized; but the king did not desist from his
expedition before he had introduced Christianity over all
Hedemark, consecrated churches, and placed teachers. He then
went to Hadaland and Thoten, improving the customs of the people,
and persisting until all the country was baptized. He then went
to Ringerike, where also all people went over to Christianity.
The people of Raumarike then heard that Olaf intended coming to
them, and they gathered a great force. They said among
themselves that the journey Olaf had made among them the last
time was not to be forgotten, and he should never proceed so
again. The king, notwithstanding, prepared for the journey. Now
when the king went up into Raumarike with his forces, the
multitude of bondes came against him at a river called Nitja; and
the bondes had a strong army, and began the battle as soon as
they met; but they soon fell short, and took to flight. They
were forced by this battle into a better disposition, and
immediately received Christianity; and the king scoured the whole
district, and did not leave it until all the people were made
Christians. He then went east to Soleys, and baptized that
neighbourhood. The skald Ottar Black came to him there, and
begged to be received among his men. Olaf the Swedish king had
died the winter before (A.D. 1021), and Onund, the son of Olaf,
was now the sole king over all Sweden. King Olaf returned, when
the winter (A.D. 1022) was far advanced, to Raumarike. There he
assembled a numerous Thing, at a place where the Eidsvold Things
have since been held. He made a law, that the Upland people
should resort to this Thing, and that Eidsvold laws should be
good through all the districts of the Uplands, and wide around in
other quarters, which also has taken place. As spring was
advancing, he rigged his ships, and went by sea to Tunsberg. He
remained there during the spring, and the time the town was most
frequented, and goods from other countries were brought to the
town for sale. There had been a good year in Viken, and
tolerable as far north as Stad; but it was a very dear time in
all the country north of there.
121. RECONCILIATION OF THE KING AND EINAR.
In spring (A.D. 1022) King Olaf sent a message west to Agder, and
north all the way to Hordaland and Rogaland, prohibiting the
exporting or selling of corn, malt, or meal; adding, that he, as
usual, would come there with his people in guest-quarters. The
message went round all the districts; but the king remained in
Viken all summer, and went east to the boundary of the country.
Einar Tambaskelfer had been with the Swedish king Olaf since the
death of his relation Earl Svein, and had, as the khag's man,
received great fiefs from him. Now that the king was dead, Einar
had a great desire to come into friendship agreement with Olaf;
and the same spring messages passed between them about it. While
the king was lying in the Gaut river, Einar Tambaskelfer came
there with some men; and after treating about an agreement, it
was settled that Einar should go north to Throndhjem, and there
take possession of all the lands and property which Bergliot had
received in dower. Thereupon Einar took his way north; but the
king remained behind in Viken, and remained long in Sarpsborg in
autumn (A.D. 1022), and during the first part of winter.
122. RECONCILIATION OF THE KING AND ERLING.
Erling Skjalgson held his dominion so, that all north from Sogn
Lake, and east to the Naze, the bondes stood under him; and
although he had much smaller royal fiefs than formerly, still so
great a dread of him prevailed that nobody dared to do anything
against his will, so that the king thought his power too great.
There was a man called Aslak Fitiaskalle, who was powerful and of
high birth. Erling's father Skjalg, and Aslak's father Askel,
were brother's sons. Aslak was a great friend of King Olaf, and
the king settled him in South Hordaland, where he gave him a
great fief, and great income, and ordered him in no respect to
give way to Erling. But this came to nothing when the king was
not in the neighbourhood; for then Erling would reign as he used
to do, and was not more humble because Aslak would thrust himself
forward as his equal. At last the strife went so far that Aslak
could not keep his place, but hastened to King Olaf, and told him
the circumstances between him and Erling. The king told Aslak to
remain with him until he should meet Erling; and sent a message
to Erling that he should come to him in spring at Tunsberg. When
they all arrived there they held a meeting at which the king said
to him, "It is told me concerning thy government, Erling, that no
man from Sogn Lake to the Naze can enjoy his freedom for thee;
although there are many men there who consider themselves born to
udal rights, and have their privileges like others born as they
are. Now, here is your relation Aslak, who appears to have
suffered great inconvenience from your conduct; and I do not know
whether he himself is in fault, or whether he suffers because I
have placed him to defend what is mine; and although I name him,
there are many others who have brought the same complaint before
us, both among those who are placed in office in our districts,
and among the bailiffs who have our farms to manage, and are
obliged to entertain me and my people."
Erling replies to this, "I will answer at once. I deny
altogether that I have ever injured Aslak, or any one else, for
being in your service; but this I will not deny, that it is now,
as it has long been, that each of us relations will willingly be
greater than the other: and, moreover, I freely acknowledge that
I am ready to bow my neck to thee, King Olaf; but it is more
difficult for me to stoop before one who is of slave descent in
all his generation, although he is now your bailiff, or before
others who are but equal to him in descent, although you bestow
honours on them."
Now the friends of both interfered, and entreated that they would
be reconciled; saying, that the king never could have such
powerful aid as from Erling, "if he was your friend entirely."
On the other hand, they represent to Erling that he should give
up to the king; for if he was in friendship with the king, it
would be easy to do with all the others what he pleased. The
meeting accordingly ended so that Erling should retain the fiefs
he formerly had, and every complaint the king had against Erling
should be dropped; but Skjalg, Erling's son, should come to the
king, and remain in his power. Then Aslak returned to his
dominions, and the two were in some sort reconciled. Erling
returned home also to his domains, and followed his own way of
123. HERE BEGINS THE STORY OF ASBJORN SELSBANE.
There was a man named Sigurd Thoreson, a brother of Thorer Hund
of Bjarkey Island. Sigurd was married to Sigrid Skjalg's
daughter, a sister of Erling. Their son, called Asbjorn, became
as he grew up a very able man. Sigurd dwelt at Omd in
Thrandarnes, and was a very rich and respected man. He had not
gone into the king's service; and Thorer in so far had attained
higher dignity than his brother, that he was the king's
lenderman. But at home, on his farm, Sigurd stood in no respect
behind his brother in splendour and magnificence. As long as
heathenism prevailed, Sigurd usually had three sacrifices every
year: one on winter-night's eve, one on mid-winter's eve, and the
third in summer. Although he had adopted Christianity, he
continued the same custom with his feasts: he had, namely, a
great friendly entertainment at harvest time; a Yule feast in
winter, to which he invited many; the third feast he had about
Easter, to which also he invited many guests. He continued this
fashion as long as he lived. Sigurd died on a bed of sickness
when Asbjorn was eighteen years old. He was the only heir of his
father, and he followed his father's custom of holding three
festivals every year. Soon after Asbjorn came to his heritage
the course of seasons began to grow worse, and the corn harvests
of the people to fail; but Asbjorn held his usual feasts, and
helped himself by having old corn, and an old provision laid up
of all that was useful. But when one year had passed and another
came, and the crops were no better than the year before, Sigrid
wished that some if not all of the feasts should be given up.
That Asbjorn would not consent to, but went round in harvest
among his friends, buying corn where he could get it, and some he
received in presents. He thus kept his feasts this winter also;
but the spring after people got but little seed into the ground,
for they had to buy the seed-corn. Then Sigurd spoke of
diminishing the number of their house-servants. That Asbjorn
would not consent to, but held by the old fashion of the house in
all things. In summer (A.D. 1022) it appeared again that there
would be a bad year for corn; and to this came the report from
the south that King Olaf prohibited all export of corn, malt, or
meal from the southern to the northern parts of the country.
Then Asbjorn perceived that it would be difficult to procure what
was necessary for a house-keeping, and resolved to put into the
water a vessel for carrying goods which he had, and which was
large enough to go to sea with. The ship was good, all that
belonged to her was of the best, and in the sails were stripes of
cloth of various colours. Asbjorn made himself ready for a
voyage, and put to sea with twenty men. They sailed from the
north in summer; and nothing is told of their voyage until one
day, about the time the days begin to shorten, they came to
Karmtsund, and landed at Augvaldsnes. Up in the island Karmt
there is a large farm, not far from the sea, and a large house
upon it called Augvaldsnes, which was a king's house, with an
excellent farm, which Thorer Sel, who was the king's bailiff, had
under his management. Thorer was a man of low birth, but had
swung himself up in the world as an active man; and he was polite
in speech, showy in clothes, and fond of distinction, and not apt
to give way to others, in which he was supported by the favour of
the king. He was besides quick in speech, straightforward, and
free in conversation. Asbjorn, with his company, brought up
there for the night; and in the morning, when it was light,
Thorer went down to the vessel with some men, and inquired who
commanded the splendid ship. Asbjorn named his own and his
father's name. Thorer asks where the voyage was intended for,
and what was the errand.
Asbjorn replies, that he wanted to buy corn and malt; saying, as
was true, that it was a very dear time north in the country.
"But we are told that here the seasons are good; and wilt thou,
farmer, sell us corn? I see that here are great corn stacks, and
it would be very convenient if we had not to travel farther."
Thorer replies, "I will give thee the information that thou
needst not go farther to buy corn, or travel about here in
Rogaland; for I can tell thee that thou must turn about, and not
travel farther, for the king forbids carrying corn out of this to
the north of the country. Sail back again, Halogalander, for
that will be thy safest course."
Asbjorn replies, "If it be so, bonde, as thou sayest, that we can
get no corn here to buy, I will, notwithstanding, go forward upon
my errand, and visit my family in Sole, and see my relation
Thorer: "How near is thy relationship to Erling?"
Asbjorn: "My mother is his sister."
Thorer: "It may be that I have spoken heedlessly, if so be that
thou art sister's son of Erling."
Thereupon Asbjorn and his crew struck their tents, and turned the
ship to sea. Thorer called after them. "A good voyage, and come
here again on your way back." Asbjorn promised to do so, sailed
away, and came in the evening to Jadar. Asbjorn went on shore
with ten men; the other ten men watched the ship. When Asbjorn
came to the house he was very well received, and Erling was very
glad to see him, placed him beside himself, and asked him all the
news in the north of the country. Asbjorn concealed nothing of
his business from him; and Erling said it happened unfortunately
that the king had just forbid the sale of corn. "And I know no
man here." says he, "who has courage to break the king's order,
and I find it difficult to keep well with the king, so many are
trying to break our friendship."
Asbjorn replies, "It is late before we learn the truth. In my
childhood I was taught that my mother was freeborn throughout her
whole descent, and that Erling of Sole was her boldest relation;
and now I hear thee say that thou hast not the freedom, for the
king's slaves here in Jadar, to do with thy own corn what thou
Erling looked at him, smiled through his teeth, and said, "Ye
Halogalanders know less of the king's power than we do here; but
a bold man thou mayst be at home in thy conversation. Let us now
drink, my friend, and we shall see tomorrow what can be done in
They did so, and were very merry all the evening. The following
day Erling and Asbjorn talked over the matter again, and Erling
said. "I have found out a way for you to purchase corn, Asbjorn.
It is the same thing to you whoever is the seller." He answered
that he did not care of whom he bought the corn, if he got a good
right to his purchase. Erling said. "It appears to me probable
that my slaves have quite as much corn as you require to buy; and
they are not subject to law, or land regulation, like other men."
Asbjorn agreed to the proposal. The slaves were now spoken to
about the purchase, and they brought forward corn and malt, which
they sold to Asbjorn, so that he loaded his vessel with what he
wanted. When he was ready for sea Erling followed him on the
road, made him presents of friendship, and they took a kind
farewell of each other. Asbjorn got a good breeze, landed in the
evening at Karmtsund, near to Augvaldsnes, and remained there for
the night. Thorer Sel had heard of Asbjorn's voyage, and also
that his vessel was deeply laden. Thorer summoned people to him
in the night, so that before daylight he had sixty men; and with
these he went against Asbjorn as soon as it was light, and went
out to the ship just as Asbjorn and his men were putting on their
clothes. Asbjorn saluted Thorer, and Thorer asked what kind of
goods Asbjorn had in the vessel.
He replied, "Corn and malt."
Thorer said, "Then Erling is doing as he usually does, and
despising the king's orders, and is unwearied in opposing him in
all things, insomuch that it is wonderful the king suffers it."
Thorer went on scolding in this way, and when he was silent
Asbjorn said that Erling's slaves had owned the corn.
Thorer replied hastily, that he did not regard Erling's tricks.
"And now, Asbjorn, there is no help for it; ye must either go on
shore, or we will throw you overboard; for we will not be
troubled with you while we are discharging the cargo."
Asbjorn saw that he had not men enough to resist Thorer;
therefore he and his people landed, and Thorer took the whole
cargo out of the vessel. When the vessel was discharged Thorer
went through the ship, and observed. "Ye Halogalanders have good
sails: take the old sail of our vessel and give it them; it is
good enough for those who are sailing in a light vessel." Thus
the sails were exchanged. When this was done Asbjorn and his
comrades sailed away north along the coast, and did not stop
until they reached home early in whiter. This expedition was
talked of far and wide, and Asbjorn had no trouble that winter in
making feasts at home. Thorer Hund invited Asbjorn and his
mother, and also all whom they pleased to take along with him, to
a Yule feast; but Asbjorn sat at home, and would not travel, and
it was to be seen that Thorer thought Asbjorn despised his
invitation, since he would not come. Thorer scoffed much at
Asbjorn's voyage. "Now," said he, "it is evident that Asbjorn
makes a great difference in his respect towards his relations;
for in summer he took the greatest trouble to visit his relation
Erling in Jadar, and now will not take the trouble to come to me
in the next house. I don't know if he thinks there may be a
Thorer Sel in his way upon every holm." Such words, and the like
sarcasms, Asbjorn heard of; and very ill satisfied he was with
his voyage, which had thus made him a laughing-stock to the
country, and he remained at home all winter, and went to no
124. MURDER OF THORER SEL.
Asbjorn had a long-ship standing in the noust (shipshed), and it
was a snekke (cutter) of twenty benches; and after Candlemas
(February 2, 1023), he had the vessel put in the water, brought
out all his furniture, and rigged her out. He then summoned to
him his friends and people, so that he had nearly ninety men all
well armed. When he was ready for sea, and got a wind, he sailed
south along the coast, but as the wind did not suit, they
advanced but slowly. When they came farther south they steered
outside the rocks, without the usual ships' channel, keeping to
sea as much as it was possible to do so. Nothing is related of
his voyage before the fifth day of Easter (April 18, 1023), when,
about evening, they came on the outside of Karmt Island. This
island is so shaped that it is very long, but not broad at its
widest part; and without it lies the usual ships' channel. It is
thickly inhabited; but where the island is exposed to the ocean
great tracts of it are uncultivated. Asbjorn and his men landed
at a place in the island that was uninhabited. After they had
set up their ship-tents Asbjorn said, "Now ye must remain here
and wait for me. I will go on land in the isle, and spy what
news there may be which we know nothing of." Asbjorn had on mean
clothes, a broadbrimmed hat, a fork in his hand, but had girt on
his sword under his clothes. He went up to the land, and in
through the island; and when he came upon a hillock, from which
he could see the house on Augvaldsnes, and on as far as
Karmtsund, he saw people in all quarters flocking together by
land and by sea, and all going up to the house of Augvaldsnes.
This seemed to him extraordinary; and therefore he went up
quietly to a house close by, in which servants were cooking meat.
From their conversation he discovered immediately that the king
Olaf had come there to a feast, and that he had just sat down to
table. Asbjorn turned then to the feasting-room, and when he
came into the ante-room one was going in and another coming out;
but nobody took notice of him. The hall-door was open, and he
saw that Thorer Sel stood before the table of the high-seat. It
was getting late in the evening, and Asbjorn heard people ask
Thorer what had taken place between him and Asbjorn; and Thorer
had a long story about it, in which he evidently departed from
the truth. Among other things he heard a man say, "How did
Asbjorn behave when you discharged his vessel?" Thorer replied,
"When we were taking out the cargo he bore it tolerably, but not
well; and when we took the sail from him he wept." When Asbjorn
heard this he suddenly drew his sword, rushed into the hall, and
cut at Thorer. The stroke took him in the neck, so that the head
fell upon the table before the king, and the body at his feet,
and the table-cloth was soiled with blood from top to bottom.
The king ordered him to be seized and taken out. This was done.
They laid hands on Asbjorn, and took him from the hall. The
table-furniture and table-cloths were removed, and also Thorer's
corpse, and all the blood wiped up. The king was enraged to the
highest; but remained quiet in speech, as he always was when in
125. OF SKJALG, THE SON OF ERLING SKJALGSON.
Skjalg Erlingson stood up, went before the king, and said, "Now
may it go, as it often does, that every case will admit of
alleviation. I will pay thee the mulct for the bloodshed on
account of this man, so that he may retain life and limbs. All
the rest determine and do, king, according to thy pleasure."
The king replies, "Is it not a matter of death, Skjalg, that a
man break the Easter peace; and in the next place that he kills a
man in the king's lodging; and in the third that he makes my feet
his execution-block, although that may appear a small matter to
thee and thy father?"
Skjalg replies, "It is ill done, king, in as far as it displeases
thee; but the deed is, otherwise, done excellently well. But if
the deed appear to thee so important, and be so contrary to thy
will, yet may I expect something for my services from thee; and
certainly there are many who will say that thou didst well."
The king replies, "Although thou hast made me greatly indebted to
thee, Skjalg, for thy services, yet I will not for thy sake break
the law, or cast away my own dignity."
Then Skjalg turned round, and went out of the hall. Twelve men
who had come with Skjalg all followed him, and many others went
out with him. Skjalg said to Thorarin Nefiulfson, "If thou wilt
have me for a friend, take care that this man be not killed
before Sunday." Thereupon Skjalg and his men set off, took a
rowing boat which he had, and rowed south as fast as they could,
and came to Jadar with the first glimpse of morning. They went
up instantly to the house, and to the loft in which Erling slept.
Skjalg rushed so hard against the door that it burst asunder at
the nails. Erling and the others who were within started up. He
was in one spring upon his legs, grasped his shield and sword,
and rushed to the door, demanding who was there. Skjalg named
himself, and begs him to open the door. Erling replies, "It was
most likely to be thee who hast behaved so foolishly; or is there
any one who is pursuing thee?" Thereupon the door was unlocked.
Then said Skjalg, "Although it appears to thee that I am so
hasty, I suppose our relation Asbjorn will not think my
proceedings too quick; for he sits in chains there in the north
at Augvaldsnes, and it would be but manly to hasten back and
stand by him." The father and son then had a conversation
together, and Skjalg related the whole circumstances of Thorer
126. OF THORARIN NEFIULFSON.
King Olaf took his seat again when everything in the hall was put
in order, and was enraged beyond measure. He asked how it was
with the murderer. He was answered, that he was sitting out upon
the doorstep under guard.
The king says, "Why is he not put to death?"
Thorarin Nefiulfson replies, "Sire, would you not call it murder
to kill a man in the night-time?"
The king answers, "Put him in irons then, and kill him in the
Then Asbjorn was laid in chains, and locked up in a house for the
night. The day after the king heard the morning mass, and then
went to the Thing, where he sat till high mass. As he was going
to mass he said to Thorarin, "Is not the sun high enough now in
the heavens that your friend Asbjorn may be hanged?"
Thorarin bowed before the king, and said, "Sire, it was said by
Bishop Sigurd on Friday last, that the King who has all things in
his power had to endure great temptation of spirit; and blessed
is he who rather imitates him, than those who condemned the man
to death, or those who caused his slaughter. It is not long till
tomorrow, and that is a working day."
The king looked at him, and said, "Thou must take care then that
he is not put to death to-day; but take him under thy charge, and
know for certain that thy own life shall answer for it if he
escape in any way."
Then the king went away. Thorarin went also to where Asbjorn lay
in irons, took off his chains, and brought him to a small room,
where he had meat and drink set before him, and told him what the
king had determined in case Asbjorn ran away. Asbjorn replies,
that Thorarin need not be afraid of him. Thorarin sat a long
while with him during the day, and slept there all night. On
Saturday the king arose and went to the early mass, and from
thence he went to the Thing, where a great many bondes were
assembled, who had many complaints to be determined. The king
sat there long in the day, and it was late before the people went
to high mass. Thereafter the king went to table. When he had
got meat he sat drinking for a while, so that the tables were not
removed. Thorarin went out to the priest who had the church
under his care, and gave him two marks of silver to ring in the
Sabbath as soon as the king's table was taken away. When the
king had drunk as much as he wished the tables were removed.
Then said the king, that it was now time for the slaves to go to
the murderer and put him to death. In the same moment the bell
rang in the Sabbath.
Then Thorarin went before the king, and said, "The Sabbath-peace
this man must have, although he has done evil."
The king said, "Do thou take care, Thorarin, that he do not
The king then went to the church, and attended the vesper
service, and Thorarin sat the whole day with Asbjorn. On Sunday
the bishop visited Asbjorn, confessed him, and gave him orders to
hear high mass. Thorarin then went to the king, and asked him to
appoint men to guard the murderer. "I will now," he said, "be
free of this charge." The king thanked him for his care, and
ordered men to watch over Asbjorn, who was again laid in chains.
When the people went to high mass Asbjorn was led to the church,
and he stood outside of the church with his guard; but the king
and all the people stood in the church at mass.
127. ERLING'S RECONCILIATION WITH KING OLAF.
Now we must again take up our story where we left it, -- that
Erling and his son Skjalg held a council on this affair, and
according to the resolution of Erling, and of Skjalg and his
other sons, it was determined to assemble a force and send out
message-tokens. A great multitude of people accordingly came
together. They got ready with all speed, rigged their ships, and
when they reckoned upon their force they found they had nearly
1500 men. With this war-force they set off, and came on Sunday
to Augvaldsnes on Karmt Island. They went straight up to the
house with all the men, and arrived just as the Scripture lesson
was read. They went directly to the church, took Asbjorn, and
broke off his chains. At the tumult and clash of arms all who
were outside of the church ran into it; but they who were in the
church looked all towards them, except the king, who stood still,
without looking around him. Erling and his sons drew up their
men on each side of the path which led from the church to the
hall, and Erling with his sons stood next to the hall. When high
mass was finished the king went immediately out of the church,
and first went through the open space between the ranks drawn up,
and then his retinue, man by man; and as he came to the door
Erling placed himself before the door, bowed to the king, and
saluted him. The king saluted him in return, and prayed God to
help him. Erling took up the word first, and said, "My relation,
Asbjorn, it is reported to me, has been guilty of misdemeanor,
king; and it is a great one, if he has done anything that incurs
your displeasure. Now I am come to entreat for him peace, and
such penalties as you yourself may determine; but that thereby he
redeem life and limb, and his remaining here in his native land."
The king replies, "It appears to me, Erling, that thou thinkest
the case of Asbjorn is now in thy own power, and I do not
therefore know why thou speakest now as if thou wouldst offer
terms for him. I think thou hast drawn together these forces
because thou are determined to settle what is between us."
Erling replies, "Thou only, king, shalt determine, and determine
so that we shall be reconciled."
The king: "Thinkest thou, Erling, to make me afraid? And art
thou come here in such force with that expectation? No, that
shall not be; and if that be thy thought, I must in no way turn
Erling replies, "Thou hast no occasion to remind me how often I
have come to meet thee with fewer men than thou hadst. But now I
shall not conceal what lies in my mind, namely, that it is my
will that we now enter into a reconciliation; for otherwise I
expect we shall never meet again." Erling was then as red as
blood in the face.
Now Bishop Sigurd came forward to the king and said, "Sire, I
entreat you on God Almighty's account to be reconciled with
Erling according to his offer, -- that the man shall retain life
and limb, but that thou shalt determine according to thy pleasure
all the other conditions."
The king replies, "You will determine."
Then said the bishop, "Erling, do thou give security for Asbjorn,
such as the king thinks sufficient, and then leave the conditions
to the mercy of the king, and leave all in his power."
Erling gave a surety to the king on his part, which he accepted.
Thereupon Asbjorn received his life and safety, and delivered
himself into the king's power, and kissed his hand.
Erling then withdrew with his forces, without exchanging
salutation with the king; and the king went into the hall,
followed by Asbjorn. The king thereafter made known the terms of
reconciliation to be these: -- "In the first place, Asbjorn, thou
must submit to the law of the land, which commands that the man
who kills a servant of the king must undertake his service, if
the king will. Now I will that thou shalt undertake the office
of bailiff which Thorer Sel had, and manage my estate here in
Augvaldsnes." Asbjorn replies, that it should be according to
the king's will; "but I must first go home to my farm, and put
things in order there." The king was satisfied with this, and
proceeded to another guest-quarter. Asbjorn made himself ready
with his comrades, who all kept themselves concealed in a quiet
creek during the time Asbjorn was away from them. They had had
their spies out to learn how it went with him, and would not
depart without having some certain news of him.
128. OF THORER HUND AND ASBJORN SELSBANE.
Asbjorn then set out on his voyage, and about spring (A.D. 1023)
got home to his farm. After this exploit he was always called
Asbjorn Selsbane. Asbjorn had not been long at home before he
and his relation Thorer met and conversed together, and Thorer
asked Asbjorn particularly all about his journey, and about all
the circumstances which had happened on the course of it.
Asbjorn told everything as it had taken place.
Then said Thorer, "Thou thinkest that thou hast well rubbed out
the disgrace of having been plundered in last harvest."
"I think so," replies Asbjorn; "and what is thy opinion, cousin?"
"That I will soon tell thee," said Thorer. "Thy first expedition
to the south of the country was indeed very disgraceful, and that
disgrace has been redeemed; but this expedition is both a
disgrace to thee and to thy family, if it end in thy becoming the
king's slave, and being put on a footing with that worst of men,
Thorer Sel. Show that thou art manly enough to sit here on thy
own property, and we thy relations shall so support thee that
thou wilt never more come into such trouble."
Asbjorn found this advice much to his mind; and before they
parted it was firmly, determined that Asbjorn should remain on
his farm, and not go back to the king or enter into his service.
And he did so, and sat quietly at home on his farm.
129. KING OLAF BAPTIZES IN VORS AND VALDERS.
After King Olaf and Erling Skjalgson had this meeting at
Augvaldsnes, new differences arose between them, and increased
so much that they ended in perfect enmity. In spring (A.D. 1023)
the king proceeded to guest-quarters in Hordaland, and went up
also to Vors, because he heard there was but little of the true
faith among the people there. He held a Thing with the bondes at
a place called Vang, and a number of bondes came to it fully
armed. The king ordered them to adopt Christianity; but they
challenged him to battle, and it proceeded so far that the men
were drawn up on both sides. But when it came to the point such
a fear entered into the blood of the bondes that none would
advance or command, and they chose the part which was most to
their advantage; namely, to obey the king and receive
Christianity; and before the king left them they were all
baptized. One day it happened that the king was riding on his
way a singing of psalms, and when he came right opposite some
hills he halted and said, "Man after man shall relate these my
words, that I think it not advisable for any king of Norway to
travel hereafter between these hills." And it is a saying among
the people that the most kings since that time have avoided it.
The king proceeded to Ostrarfjord, and came to his ships, with
which he went north to Sogn, and had his living in guest-quarters
there in summer (A.D. 1023); when autumn approached he turned in
towards the Fjord district, and went from thence to Valders,
where the people were still heathen. The king hastened up to the
lake in Valders, came unexpectedly on the bondes, seized their
vessels, and went on board of them with all his men. He then
sent out message-tokens, and appointed a Thing so near the lake
that he could use the vessels if he found he required them. The
bondes resorted to the Thing in a great and well-armed host; and
when he commanded them to accept Christianity the bondes shouted
against him, told him to be silent, and made a great uproar and
clashing of weapons. But when the king saw that they would not
listen to what he would teach them, and also that they had too
great a force to contend with, he turned his discourse, and asked
if there were people at the Thing who had disputes with each
other which they wished him to settle. It was soon found by the
conversation of the bondes that they had many quarrels among
themselves, although they had all joined in speaking against
Christianity. When the bondes began to set forth their own
cases, each endeavored to get some upon his side to support him;
and this lasted the whole day long until evening, when the Thing
was concluded. When the bondes had heard that the king had
travelled to Valders, and was come into their neighborhood, they
had sent out message-tokens summoning the free and the unfree to
meet in arms, and with this force they had advanced against the
king; so that the neighbourhood all around was left without
people. When the Thing was concluded the bondes still remained
assembled; and when the king observed this he went on board his
ships, rowed in the night right across the water, landed in the
country there, and began to plunder and burn. The day after the
king's men rowed from one point of land to another, and over all
the king ordered the habitations to be set on fire. Now when the
bondes who were assembled saw what the king was doing, namely,
plundering and burning, and saw the smoke and flame of their
houses, they dispersed, and each hastened to his own home to see
if he could find those he had left. As soon as there came a
dispersion among the crowd, the one slipped away after the other,
until the whole multitude was dissolved. Then the king rowed
across the lake again, burning also on that side of the country.
Now came the bondes to him begging for mercy, and offering to
submit to him. He gave every man who came to him peace if he
desired it, and restored to him his goods; and nobody refused to
adopt Christianity. The king then had the people christened, and
took hostages from the bondes. He ordered churches to be built
and consecrated, and placed teachers in them. He remained a long
time here in autumn, and had his ships drawn across the neck of
land between the two lakes. The king did not go far from the
sides of the lakes into the country, for he did not much trust
the bondes. When the king thought that frost might be expected,
he went further up the country, and came to Thoten. Arnor, the
earl's skald, tells how King Olaf burnt in the Uplands, in the
poem he composed concerning the king's brother King Harald: --
"Against the Upland people wroth,
Olaf, to most so mild, went forth:
The houses burning,
All people mourning;
Who could not fly
Hung on gallows high.
It was, I think, in Olaf's race
The Upland people to oppress."
Afterwards King Olaf went north through the valleys to
Dovrefield, and did not halt until he reached the Throndhjem
district and arrived at Nidaros, where he had ordered winter
provision to be collected, and remained all winter (A.D. 1024).
This was the tenth year of his reign.
130. OF EINAR TAMBASKELFER.
The summer before Einar Tambaskelfer left the country, and went
westward to England (A.D. 1023). There he met his relative Earl
Hakon, and stayed some time with him. He then visited King
Canute, from whom he received great presents. Einar then went
south all the way to Rome, and came back the following summer
(A.D. 1024), and returned to his house and land. King Olaf and
Einar did not meet this time.
131. THE BIRTH OF KING MAGNUS.
There was a girl whose name was Alfhild, and who was usually
called the king's slave-woman, although she was of good descent.
She was a remarkably handsome girl, and lived in King Olaf's
court. It was reported this spring that Alfhild was with child,
and the king's confidential friends knew that he was father of
the child. It happened one night that Alfhild was taken ill, and
only few people were at hand; namely, some women, priests, Sigvat
the skald, and a few others. Alfhild was so ill that she was
nearly dead; and when she was delivered of a man-child, it was
some time before they could discover whether the child was in
life. But when the infant drew breath, although very weak, the
priest told Sigvat to hasten to the king, and tell him of the
He replies, "I dare not on any account waken the king; for he has
forbid that any man should break his sleep until he awakens of
The priest replies, "It is of necessity that this child be
immediately baptized, for it appears to me there is but little
life in it."
Sigvat said, "I would rather venture to take upon me to let thee
baptize the child, than to awaken the king; and I will take it
upon myself if anything be amiss, and will give the child a
They did so; and the child was baptized, and got the name of
Magnus. The next morning, when the king awoke and had dressed
himself, the circumstance was told him. He ordered Sigvat to be
called, and said. "How camest thou to be so bold as to have my
child baptized before I knew anything about it?"
Sigvat replies, "Because I would rather give two men to God than
one to the devil."
The king -- "What meanest thou?"
Sigvat -- "The child was near death, and must have been the
devil's if it had died as a heathen, and now it is God's. And I
knew besides that if thou shouldst be so angry on this account
that it affected my life, I would be God's also."
The king asked, "But why didst thou call him Magnus, which is not
a name of our race?"
Sigvat -- "I called him after King Carl Magnus, who, I knew, had
been the best man in the world."
Then said the king, "Thou art a very lucky man, Sigvat; but it is
not wonderful that luck should accompany understanding. It is
only wonderful how it sometimes happens that luck attends
ignorant men, and that foolish counsel turns out lucky." The
king was overjoyed at the circumstance. The boy grew up, and
gave good promise as he advanced in age.
132. THE MURDER OF ASBJORN SELSBANE.
The same spring (A.D. 1024) the king gave into the hands of
Asmund Grankelson the half of the sheriffdom of the district of
Halogaland, which Harek of Thjotta had formerly held, partly in
fief, partly for defraying the king's entertainment in guest-
quarters. Asmund had a ship manned with nearly thirty well-armed
men. When Asmund came north he met Harek, and told him what the
king had determined with regard to the district, and produced to
him the tokens of the king's full powers. Harek said, "The king
had the right to give the sheriffdom to whom he pleased; but the
former sovereigns had not been in use to diminish our rights who
are entitled by birth to hold powers from the king, and to give
them into the hands of the peasants who never before held such
offices." But although it was evident that it was against
Harek's inclination, he allowed Asmund to take the sheriffdom
according to the king's order. Then Asmund proceeded home to his
father, stayed there a short time, and then went north to
Halogaland to his sheriffdom; and he came north to Langey Island,
where there dwelt two brothers called Gunstein and Karle, both
very rich and respectable men. Gunstein, the eldest of the
brothers, was a good husbandman. Karle was a handsome man in
appearance, and splendid in his dress; and both were, in many
respects, expert in all feats. Asmund was well received by them,
remained with them a while, and collected such revenues of his
sheriffdom as he could get. Karle spoke with Asmund of his wish
to go south with him and take service in the court of King Olaf,
to which Asmund encouraged him much, promising his influence with
the king for obtaining for Karle such a situation as he desired;
and Karle accordingly accompanied Asmund. Asmund heard that
Asbjorn, who had killed Thorer Sel, had gone to the market-
meeting of Vagar with a large ship of burden manned with nearly
twenty men, and that he was now expected from the south. Asmund
and his retinue proceeded on their way southwards along the coast
with a contrary wind, but there was little of it. They saw some
of the fleet for Vagar sailing towards them; and they privately
inquired of them about Asbjorn, and were told he was upon the way
coming from the south. Asmund and Karle were bedfellows, and
excellent friends. One day, as Asmund and his people were rowing
through a sound, a ship of burden came sailing towards them. The
ship was easily known, having high bulwarks, was painted with
white and red colours, and coloured cloth was woven in the sail.
Karle said to Asmund, "Thou hast often said thou wast curious to
see Asbjorn who killed Thorer Sel; and if I know one ship from
another, that is his which is coming sailing along."
Asmund replies, "Be so good, comrade, and tell me which is he
when thou seest him."
When the ships came alongside of each other, "That is Asbjorn,"
said Karle; "the man sitting at the helm in a blue cloak."
Asmund replies, "I shall make his blue cloak red;" threw a spear
at Asbjorn, and hit him in the middle of the body, so that it
flew through and through him, and stuck fast in the upper part of
the stern-post; and Asbjorn fell down dead from the helm. Then
each vessel sailed on its course, and Asbjorn's body was carried
north to Thrandarnes. Then Sigrid sent a message to Bjarkey Isle
to Thorer Hund, who came to her while they were, in the usual
way, dressing the corpse of Asbjorn. When he returned Sigrid
gave presents to all her friends, and followed Thorer to his
ship; but before they parted she said, "It has so fallen out,
Thorer, that my son has suffered by thy friendly counsel, but he
did not retain life to reward thee for it; but although I have
not his ability yet will I show my good will. Here is a gift I
give thee, which I expect thou wilt use. Here is the spear which
went through Asbjorn my son, and there is still blood upon it, to
remind thee that it fits the wound thou hast seen on the corpse
of thy brother's son Asbjorn. It would be a manly deed, if thou
shouldst throw this spear from thy hand so that it stood in
Olaf's breast; and this I can tell thee, that thou wilt be named
coward in every man's mouth, if thou dost not avenge Asbjorn."
Thereupon she turned about, and went her way.
Thorer was so enraged at her words that he could not speak. He
neither thought of casting the spear from him, nor took notice of
the gangway; so that he would have fallen into the sea, if his
men had not laid hold of him as he was going on board his ship.
It was a feathered spear; not large, but the handle was gold-
mounted. Now Thorer rowed away with his people, and went home to
Bjarkey Isle. Asmund and his companions also proceeded on their
way until they came south to Throndhjem, where they waited on
King Olaf; and Asmund related to the king all that had happened
on the voyage. Karle became one of the king's court-men, and the
friendship continued between him and Asmund. They did not keep
secret the words that had passed between Asmund and Karle before
Asbjorn was killed; for they even told them to the king. But
then it happened, according to the proverb, that every one has a
friend in the midst of his enemies. There were some present who
took notice of the words, and they reached Thorer Hund's ears.
133. OF KING OLAF.
When spring (A.D. 1024) was advanced King Olaf rigged out his
ships, and sailed southwards in summer along the land. He held
Things with the bondes on the way, settled the law business of
the people, put to rights the faith of the country, and collected
the king's taxes wherever he came. In autumn he proceeded south
to the frontier of the country; and King Olaf had now made the
people Christians in all the great districts, and everywhere, by
laws, had introduced order into the country. He had also, as
before related, brought the Orkney Islands under his power, and
by messages had made many friends in Iceland, Greenland, and the
Farey Islands. King Olaf had sent timber for building a church
to Iceland, of which a church was built upon the Thing-field
where the General Thing is held, and had sent a bell for it,
which is still there. This was after the Iceland people had
altered their laws, and introduced Christianity, according to the
word King Olaf had sent them. After that time, many considerable
persons came from Iceland, and entered into King Olaf's service;
as Thorkel Eyjolfson, and Thorleif Bollason, Thord Kolbeinson,
Thord Barkarson, Thorgeir Havarson, Thormod Kalbrunar-skald.
King Olaf had sent many friendly presents to chief people in
Iceland; and they in return sent him such things as they had
which they thought most acceptable. Under this show of
friendship which the king gave Iceland were concealed many things
which afterwards appeared.
134. KING OLAF'S MESSAGE TO ICELAND, AND THE COUNSELS OF THE
King Olaf this summer (A.D. 1024) sent Thorarin Nefiulfson to
Iceland on his errands; and Thorarin went out of Throndhjem fjord
along with the king, and followed him south to More. From thence
Thorarin went out to sea, and got such a favourable breeze that
after four days sail he landed at the Westman Isles, in Iceland.
He proceeded immediately to the Althing, and came just as the
people were upon the Lawhillock, to which he repaired. When the
cases of the people before the Thing had been determined
according to law, Thorarin Nefiulfson took up the word as
follows: -- "We parted four days ago from King Olaf Haraldson,
who sends God Almighty's and his own salutation to all the chiefs
and principal men of the land; as also to all the people in
general, men and women, young and old, rich and poor. He also
lets you know that he will be your sovereign if ye will become
his subjects, so that he and you will be friends, assisting each
other in all that is good."
The people replied in a friendly way, that they would gladly be
the king's friends, if he would be a friend of the people of
Then Thorarin again took up the word: -- "This follows in
addition to the king's message, that he will in friendship desire
of the people of the north district that they give him the
island, or out-rock, which lies at the mouth of Eyfjord, and is
called Grimsey, for which he will give you from his country
whatever good the people of the district may desire. He sends
this message particularly to Gudmund of Modruvellir to support
this matter, because he understands that Gudmund has most
influence in that quarter."
Gudmund replies, "My inclination is greatly for King Olaf's
friendship, and that I consider much more useful than the out-
rock he desires. But the king has not heard rightly if he think
I have more power in this matter than any other, for the island
is a common. We, however, who have the most use of the isle,
will hold a meeting among ourselves about it."
Then the people went to their tent-houses; and the Northland
people had a meeting among themselves, and talked over the
business, and every one spoke according to his judgment. Gudmund
supported the matter, and many others formed their opinions by
his. Then some asked why his brother Einar did not speak on the
subject. "We think he has the clearest insight into most
Einar answers, "I have said so little about the matter because
nobody has asked me about it; but if I may give my opinion, our
countrymen might just as well make themselves at once liable to
land-scat to King Olaf, and submit to all his exactions as he has
them among his people in Norway; and this heavy burden we will
lay not only upon ourselves, but on our sons, and their sons, and
all our race, and on all the community dwelling and living in
this land, which never after will be free from this slavery. Now
although this king is a good man, as I well believe him to be,
yet it must be hereafter, when kings succeed each other, that
some will be good. and some bad. Therefore if the people of this
country will preserve the freedom they have enjoyed since the
land was first inhabited, it is not advisable to give the king
the smallest spot to fasten himself upon the country by, and not
to give him any kind of scat or service that can have the
appearance of a duty. On the other hand, I think it very proper
that the people send the king such friendly presents of hawks or
horses, tents or sails, or such things which are suitable gifts;
and these are well applied if they are repaid with friendship.
But as to Grimsey Isle, I have to say, that although nothing is
drawn from it that can serve for food, yet it could support a
great war-force cruising from thence in long-ships; and then, I
doubt not, there would be distress enough at every poor peasant's
When Einar had thus explained the proper connection of the
matter, the whole community were of one mind that such a thing
should not be permitted; and Thorarin saw sufficiently well what
the result of his errand was to be.
135. THE ANSWER OF THE ICELANDERS.
The day following, Thorarin went again to the Lawhill, and
brought forward his errand in the following words: -- "King Olaf
sends his message to his friends here in the country, among whom
he reckons Gudmund Eyjolfson, Snorre Gode, Thorkel Eyjolfson,
Skapte the lagman, and Thorstein Halson, and desires them by me
to come to him on a friendly visit; and adds, that ye must not
excuse yourselves, if you regard his friendship as worth
anything." In their answer they thanked the king for his message
and added, that they would afterwards give a reply to it by
Thorarin when they had more closely considered the matter with
their friends. The chiefs now weighed the matter among
themselves, and each gave his own opinion about the journey.
Snorre and Skapte dissuaded from such a dangerous proceeding with
the people of Norway; namely, that all the men who had the most
to say in the country should at once leave Iceland. They added,
that from this message, and from what Einar had said, they had
the suspicion that the king intended to use force and strong
measures against the Icelanders if he ruled in the country.
Gudmund and Thorkel Eyjolfson insisted much that they should
follow King Olaf's invitation, and called it a journey of honour.
But when they had considered the matter on all sides, it was at
last resolved that they should not travel themselves, but that
each of them should send in his place a man whom they thought
best suited for it. After this determination the Thing was
closed, and there was no journey that summer. Thorarin made two
voyages that summer, and about harvest was back again at King
Olaf's, and reported the result of his mission, and that some of
the chiefs, or their sons, would come from Iceland according to
136. OF THE PEOPLE OF THE FAREY ISLANDS.
The same summer (A.D. 1024) there came from the Farey Islands to
Norway, on the king's invitation, Gille the lagman, Leif
Ossurson, Thoralf of Dimun, and many other bondes' sons. Thord
of Gata made himself ready for the voyage; but just as he was
setting out he got a stroke of palsy, and could not come, so he
remained behind. Now when the people from the Farey Isles
arrived at King Olaf's, he called them to him to a conference,
and explained the purpose of the journey he had made them take,
namely, that he would have scat from the Farey Islands, and also
that the people there should be subject to the laws which the
king should give them. In that meeting it appeared from the
king's words that he would make the Farey people who had come
answerable, and would bind them by oath to conclude this union.
He also offered to the men whom he thought the ablest to take
them into his service, and bestow honour and friendship on them.
These Farey men understood the king's words so, that they must
dread the turn the matter might take if they did not submit to
all that the king desired. Although they held several meetings
about the business before it ended, the king's desire at last
prevailed. Leif, Gille, and Thoralf went into the king's
service, and became his courtmen; and they, with all their
travelling companions, swore the oath to King Olaf, that the law
and land privilege which he set them should be observed in the
Farey Islands, and also the scat be levied that he laid upon
them. Thereafter the Farey people prepared for their return
home, and at their departure the king gave those who had entered
into his service presents in testimony of his friendship, and
they went their way. Now the king ordered a ship to be rigged,
manned it, and sent men to the Farey Islands to receive the scat
from the inhabitants which they should pay him. It was late
before they were ready; but they set off at last: and of their
journey all that is to be told is, that they did not come back,
and no scat either, the following summer; for nobody had come to
the Farey Isles, and no man had demanded scat there.
137. OF THE MARRIAGE OF KETIL AND OF THORD TO THE KING'S SISTERS.
King Olaf proceeded about harvest time to Viken, and sent a
message before him to the Uplands that they should prepare guest-
quarters for him, as he intended to be there in winter.
Afterwards he made ready for his journey, and went to the
Uplands, and remained the winter there; going about in guest-
quarters, and putting things to rights where he saw it needful,
advancing also the cause of Christianity wheresoever it was
requisite. It happened while King Olaf was in Hedemark that
Ketil Kalf of Ringanes courted Gunhild, a daughter of Sigurd Syr
and of King Olaf's mother Asta. Gunhild was a sister of King
Olaf, and therefore it belonged to the king to give consent and
determination to the business. He took it in a friendly way; for
he know Ketil, that he was of high birth, wealthy, and of good
understanding, and a great chief; and also he had long been a
great friend of King Olaf, as before related. All these
circumstances induced the king to approve of the match, and so it
was that Ketil got Gunhild. King Olaf was present at the
wedding. From thence the king went north to Gudbrandsdal, where
he was entertained in guest-quarters. There dwelt a man, by name
Thord Guthormson, on a farm called Steig; and he was the most
powerful man in the north end of the valley. When Thord and the
king met, Thord made proposals for Isrid, the daughter of
Gudbrand, and the sister of King Olaf's mother, as it belonged to
the king to give consent. After the matter was considered, it
was determined that the marriage should proceed, and Thord got
Isrid. Afterwards Thord was the king's faithful friend, and also
many of Thord's relations and friends, who followed his
footsteps. From thence King Olaf returned south through Thoten
and Hadaland, from thence to Ringerike, and so to Viken. In
spring (A.D. 1025) he went to Tunsberg, and stayed there while
there was the market-meeting, and a great resort of people. He
then had his vessels rigged out, and had many people about him.
138. OF THE ICELANDERS.
The same summer (A.D. 1025) came Stein, a son of the lagman
Skapte, from Iceland, in compliance with King Olaf's message; and
with him Thorod, a son of Snorre the gode, and Geller, a son of
Thorkel Eyjolfson, and Egil, a son of Hal of Sida, brother of
Thorstein Hal. Gudmund Eyjolfson had died the winter before.
These Iceland men repaired to King Olaf as soon as they had
opportunity; and when they met the king they were well received,
and all were in his house. The same summer King Olaf heard that
the ship was missing which he had sent the summer before to the
Farey Islands after the scat, and nobody knew what had become of
it. The king fitted out another ship, manned it, and sent it to
the Farey Islands for the scat. They got under weigh, and
proceeded to sea; but as little was ever heard of this vessel as
of the former one, and many conjectures were made about what had
become of them.
139. HERE BEGINS THE STORY OF CANUTE THE GREAT.
During this time Canute the Great, called by some Canute the Old,
was king of England and Denmark. Canute the Great was a son of
Svein Haraldson Forkedbeard, whose forefathers, for a long course
of generations, had ruled over Denmark. Harald Gormson, Canute's
grandfather, had conquered Norway after the fall of Harald
Grafeld, Gunhild's son, had taken scat from it, and had placed
Earl Hakon the Great to defend the country. The Danish King,
Svein Haraldson, ruled also over Norway, and placed his son-in-
law Earl Eirik, the son of Earl Hakon, to defend the country.
The brothers Eirik and Svein, Earl Hakon's sons, ruled the land
until Earl Eirik went west to England, on the invitation of his
brother-in-law Canute the Great, when he left behind his son Earl
Hakon, sister's son of Canute the Great, to govern Norway. But
when Olaf the Thick came first to Norway, as before related, he
took prisoner Earl Hakon the son of Eirik, and deposed him from
the kingdom. Then Hakon proceeded to his mother's brother,
Canute the Great, and had been with him constantly until the time
to which here in our saga we have now come. Canute the Great had
conquered England by blows and weapons, and had a long struggle
before the people of the land were subdued. But when he had set
himself perfectly firm in the government of the country, he
remembered that he also had right to a kingdom which he had not
brought under his authority; and that was Norway. He thought he
had hereditary right to all Norway; and his sister's son Hakon,
who had held a part of it, appeared to him to have lost it with
disgrace. The reason why Canute and Hakon had remained quiet
with respect to their claims upon Norway was, that when King Olaf
Haraldson landed in Norway the people and commonalty ran together
in crowds, and would hear of nothing but that Olaf should be king
over all the country, although some afterwards, who thought that
the people upon account of his power had no self-government left
to them, went out of the country. Many powerful men, or rich
bondes sons, had therefore gone to Canute the Great, and
pretended various errands; and every one who came to Canute and
desired his friendship was loaded with presents. With Canute,
too, could be seen greater splendour and pomp than elsewhere,
both with regard to the multitude of people who were daily in
attendance, and also to the other magnificent things about the
houses he owned and dwelt in himself. Canute the Great drew scat
and revenue from the people who were the richest of all in
northern lands; and in the same proportion as he had greater
revenues than other kings, he also made greater presents than
other kings. In his whole kingdom peace was so well established,
that no man dared break it. The people of the country kept the
peace towards each other, and had their old country law: and for
this he was greatly celebrated in all countries. And many of
those who came from Norway represented their hardships to Earl
Hakon, and some even to King Canute himself; and that the Norway
people were ready to turn back to the government of King Canute,
or Earl Hakon, and receive deliverance from them. This
conversation suited well the earl's inclination, and he carried
it to the king, and begged of him to try if King Olaf would not
surrender the kingdom, or at least come to an agreement to divide
it; and many supported the earl's views.
140. CANUTE'S MESSAGE TO KING OLAF.
Canute the Great sent men from the West, from England, to Norway,
and equipped them magnificently for the journey. They were
bearers of the English king Canute's letter and seal. They came
about spring (A.D. 1025) to the king of Norway, Olaf Haraldson,
in Tunsberg. Now when it was told the king that ambassadors had
arrived from Canute the Great he was ill at ease, and said that
Canute had not sent messengers hither with any messages that
could be of advantage to him or his people; and it was some days
before the ambassadors could come before the king. But when they
got permission to speak to him they appeared before the king, and
made known King Canute's letter, and their errand which
accompanied it; namely, "that King Canute considers all Norway as
his property, and insists that his forefathers before him have
possessed that kingdom; but as King Canute offers peace to all
countries, he will also offer peace to all here, if it can be so
settled, and will not invade Norway with his army if it can be
avoided. Now if King Olaf Haraldson wishes to remain king of
Norway, he will come to King Canute, and receive his kingdom as a
fief from him, become his vassal, and pay the scat which the
earls before him formerly paid." Thereupon they presented their
letters, which contained precisely the same conditions.
Then King Olaf replies, "I have heard say, by old stories, that
the Danish king Gorm was considered but a small king of a few
people, for he ruled over Denmark alone; but the kings who
succeeded him thought that was too little. It has since come so
far that King Canute rules over Denmark and England, and has
conquered for himself a great part of Scotland. Now he claims
also my paternal heritage, and will then show some moderation in
his covetousness. Does he wish to rule over all the countries of
the North? Will he eat up all the kail in England? He shall do
so, and reduce that country to a desert, before I lay my head in
his hands, or show him any other kind of vassalage. Now ye shall
tell him these my words, -- I will defend Norway with battle-axe
and sword as long as life is given me, and will pay scat to no
man for my kingdom."
After this answer King Canute's ambassadors made themselves ready
for their journey home, and were by no means rejoiced at the
success of their errand.
Sigvat the skald had been with King Canute, who had given him a
gold ring that weighed half a mark. The skald Berse
Skaldtorfason was also there, and to him King Canute gave two
gold rings, each weighing two marks, and besides a sword inlaid
with gold. Sigvat made this song about it: --
"When we came o'er the wave, you cub,
When we came o'er the wave,
To me one ring, to thee two rings,
The mighty Canute gave:
One mark to me,
Four marks to thee, --
A sword too, fine and brave.
Now God knows well,
And skalds can tell,
What justice here would crave."
Sigvat the skald was very intimate with King Canute's messengers,
and asked them many questions. They answered all his inquiries
about their conversation with King Olaf, and the result of their
message. They said the king listened unwillingly to their
proposals. "And we do not know," say they, "to what he is
trusting when he refuses becoming King Canute's vassal, and going
to him, which would be the best thing he could do; for King
Canute is so mild that however much a chief may have done against
him, he is pardoned if he only show himself obedient. It is but
lately that two kings came to him from the North, from Fife in
Scotland, and he gave up his wrath against them, and allowed them
to retain all the lands they had possessed before, and gave them
besides very valuable gifts." Then Sigvat sang: --
"From the North land, the midst of Fife,
Two kings came begging peace and life;
Craving from Canute life and peace, --
May Olaf's good luck never cease!
May he, our gallant Norse king, never
Be brought, like these, his head to offer
As ransom to a living man
For the broad lands his sword has won."
King Canute's ambassadors proceeded on their way back, and had a
favourable breeze across the sea. They came to King Canute, and
told him the result of their errand, and King Olaf's last words.
King Canute replies, "King Olaf guesses wrong, if he thinks I
shall eat up all the kail in England; for I will let him see that
there is something else than kail under my ribs, and cold kail it
shall be for him." The same summer (A.D. 1025) Aslak and Skjalg,
the sons of Erling of Jadar, came from Norway to King Canute, and
were well received; for Aslak was married to Sigrid, a daughter
of Earl Svein Hakonson, and she and Earl Hakon Eirikson were
brothers' children. King Canute gave these brothers great fiefs
over there, and they stood in great favour.
141. KING OLAF'S ALLIANCE WITH ONUND THE KING OF SVITHJOD.
King Olaf summoned to him all the lendermen, and had a great many
people about him this summer (A.D. 1025), for a report was abroad
that King Canute would come from England. People had heard from
merchant vessels that Canute was assembling a great army in
England. When summer was advanced, some affirmed and others
denied that the army would come. King Olaf was all summer in
Viken, and had spies out to learn if Canute was come to Denmark.
In autumn (A.D. 1025) he sent messengers eastward to Svithjod to
his brother-in-law King Onund, and let him know King Canute's
demand upon Norway; adding, that, in his opinion, if Canute
subdued Norway, King Onund would not long enjoy the Swedish
dominions in peace. He thought it advisable, therefore, that
they should unite for their defence. "And then," said he, "we
will have strength enough to hold out against Canute." King
Onund received King Olaf's message favourably, and replied to it,
that he for his part would make common cause with King Olaf, so
that each of them should stand by the one who first required help
with all the strength of his kingdom. In these messages between
them it was also determined that they should have a meeting, and
consult with each other. The following winter (A.D. 1026) King
Onund intended to travel across West Gautland, and King Olaf made
preparations for taking his winter abode at Sarpsborg.
142. KING CANUTE'S AMBASSADORS TO ONUND OF SVITHJOD.
In autumn King Canute the Great came to Denmark, and remained
there all winter (A.D. 1026) with a numerous army. It was told
him that ambassadors with messages had been passing between the
Swedish and Norwegian kings, and that some great plans must be
concerting between them. In winter King Canute sent messengers
to Svithjod, to King Onund, with great gifts and messages of
friendship. He also told Onund that he might sit altogether
quiet in this strife between him and Olaf the Thick; "for thou,
Onund," says he, "and thy kingdom, shall be in peace as far as I
am concerned." When the ambassadors came to King Onund they
presented the gifts which King Canute sent him, together with the
friendly message. King Onund did not hear their speech very
willingly, and the ambassadors could observe that King Onund was
most inclined to a friendship with King Olaf. They returned
accordingly, and told King Canute the result of their errand, and
told him not to depend much upon the friendship of King Onund.
143. THE EXPEDITION TO BJARMALAND.
This winter (A.D. 1026) King Olaf sat in Sarpsborg, and was
surrounded by a very great army of people. He sent the
Halogalander Karle to the north country upon his business. Karle
went first to the Uplands, then across the Dovrefield, and came
down to Nidaros, where he received as much money as he had the
king's order for, together with a good ship, such as he thought
suitable for the voyage which the king had ordered him upon; and
that was to proceed north to Bjarmaland. It was settled that the
king should be in partnership with Karle, and each of them have
the half of the profit. Early in spring Karle directed his
course to Halogaland, where his brother Gunstein prepared to
accompany him, having his own merchant goods with him. There
were about twenty-five men in the ship; and in spring they sailed
north to Finmark. When Thorer Hund heard this, he sent a man to
the brothers with the verbal message that he intended in summer
to go to Bjarmaland, and that he would sail with them, and that
they should divide what booty they made equally between them.
Karle sent him back the message that Thorer must have twenty-five
men as they had, and they were willing to divide the booty that
might be taken equally, but not the merchant goods which each had
for himself. When Thorer's messenger came back he had put a
stout long-ship he owned into the water, and rigged it, and he
had put eighty men on board of his house-servants. Thorer alone
had the command over this crew, and he alone had all the goods
they might acquire on the cruise. When Thorer was ready for sea
he set out northwards along the coast, and found Karle a little
north of Sandver. They then proceeded with good wind. Gunstein
said to his brother, as soon as they met Thorer, that in his
opinion Thorer was strongly manned. "I think," said he, "we had
better turn back than sail so entirely in Thorer's power, for I
do not trust him." Karle replies, "I will not turn back,
although if I had known when we were at home on Langey Isle that
Thorer Hund would join us on this voyage with so large a crew as
he has, I would have taken more hands with us." The brothers
spoke about it to Thorer, and asked what was the meaning of his
taking more people with him than was agreed upon between them.
He replies, "We have a large ship which requires many hands, and
methinks there cannot be too many brave lads for so dangerous a
cruise." They went in summer as fast in general as the vessels
could go. When the wind was light the ship of the brothers
sailed fastest, and they separated; but when the wind freshened
Thorer overtook them. They were seldom together, but always in
sight of each other. When they came to Bjarmaland they went
straight to the merchant town, and the market began. All who had
money to pay with got filled up with goods. Thorer also got a
number of furs, and of beaver and sable skins. Karle had a
considerable sum of money with him, with which he purchased skins
and furs. When the fair was at an end they went out of the Vina
river, and then the truce of the country people was also at an
end. When they came out of the river they held a seaman's
council, and Thorer asked the crews if they would like to go on
the land and get booty.
They replied, that they would like it well enough, if they saw
the booty before their eyes.
Thorer replies, that there was booty to be got, if the voyage
proved fortunate; but that in all probability there would be
danger in the attempt.
All said they would try, if there was any chance of booty.
Thorer explained, that it was so established in this land, that
when a rich man died all his movable goods were divided between
the dead man and his heirs. He got the half part, or the third
part, or sometimes less, and that part was carried out into the
forest and buried, -- sometimes under a mound, sometimes in the
earth, and sometimes even a house was built over it. He tells
them at the same time to get ready for this expedition at the
fall of day. It was resolved that one should not desert the
other, and none should hold back when the commander ordered them
to come on board again. They now left people behind to take care
of the ships, and went on land, where they found flat fields at
first, and then great forests. Thorer went first, and the
brothers Karle and Gunstein in rear. Thorer commanded the people
to observe the utmost silence. "And let us peel the bark off the
trees," says he, "so that one tree-mark can be seen from the
other." They came to a large cleared opening, where there was a
high fence upon which there was a gate that was locked. Six men
of the country people held watch every night at this fence, two
at a time keeping guard, each two for a third part of the night,
when Thorer and his men came to the fence the guard had gone
home, and those who should relieve them had not yet come upon
guard. Thorer went to the fence, stuck his axe up in it above
his head, hauled himself up by it, and so came over the fence,
and inside the gate. Karle had also come over the fence, and to
the inside of the gate; so that both came at once to the port,
took the bar away, and opened the port; and then the people got
in within the fence. Then said Thorer, "Within this fence there
is a mound in which gold, and silver, and earth are all mixed
together: seize that. But within here stands the Bjarmaland
people's god Jomala: let no one be so presumptuous as to rob
him." Thereupon they went to the mound and took as much of the
money as they could carry away in their clothes, with which, as
might be expected, much earth was mixed. Thereafter Thorer said
that the people now should retreat. "And ye brothers, Karle and
Gunstein," says he, "do ye lead the way, and I will go last."
They all went accordingly out of the gate: but Thorer went back
to Jomala, and took a silver bowl that stood upon his knee full
of silver money. He put the silver in his purse, and put his arm
within the handle of the bowl, and so went out of the gate. The
whole troop had come without the fence; but when they perceived
that Thorer had stayed behind, Karle returned to trace him, and
when they met upon the path Thorer had the silver bowl with him.
Thereupon Karle immediately ran to Jomala; and observing he had a
thick gold ornament hanging around his neck, he lifted his axe,
cut the string with which the ornament was tied behind his neck,
and the stroke was so strong that the head of Jomala rang with
such a great sound that they were all astonished. Karle seized
the ornament, and they all hastened away. But the moment the
sound was made the watchmen came forward upon the cleared space,
and blew their horns. Immediately the sound of the loor (1) was
heard all around from every quarter, calling the people together.
They hastened to the forest, and rushed into it; and heard the
shouts and cries on the other side of the Bjarmaland people in
pursuit. Thorer Hund went the last of the whole troop; and
before him went two men carrying a great sack between them, in
which was something that was like ashes. Thorer took this in his
hand, and strewed it upon the footpath, and sometimes over the
people. They came thus out of the woods, and upon the fields,
but heard incessantly the Bjarmaland people pursuing with shouts
and dreadful yells. The army of the Bjarmaland people rushed out
after them upon the field, and on both sides of them; but neither
the people nor their weapons came so near as to do them any harm:
from which they perceived that the Bjarmaland people did not see
them. Now when they reached their ships Karle and his brother
went on board; for they were the foremost, and Thorer was far
behind on the land. As soon as Karle and his men were on board
they struck their tents, cast loose their land ropes, hoisted
their sails, and their ship in all haste went to sea. Thorer and
his people, on the other hand, did not get on so quickly, as
their vessel was heavier to manage; so that when they got under
sail, Karle and his people were far off from land. Both vessels
sailed across the White sea (Gandvik) . The nights were clear, so
that both ships sailed night and day; until one day, towards the
time the day turns to shorten, Karle and his people took up the
land near an island, let down the sail, cast anchor, and waited
until the slack-tide set in, for there was a strong rost before
them. Now Thorer came up, and lay at anchor there also. Thorer
and his people then put out a boat, went into it, and rowed to
Karle's ship. Thorer came on board, and the brothers saluted
him. Thorer told Karle to give him the ornament. "I think,"
said he, "that I have best earned the ornaments that have been
taken, for methinks ye have to thank me for getting away without
any loss of men; and also I think thou, Karle, set us in the
Karle replies, "King Olaf has the half part of all the goods I
gather on this voyage, and I intend the ornament for him. Go to
him, if you like, and it is possible he will give thee the
ornament, although I took it from Jomala."
Then Thorer insisted that they should go upon the island, and
divide the booty.
Gunstein says, "It is now the turn of the tide, and it is time to
sail." Whereupon they began to raise their anchor.
When Thorer saw that, he returned to his boat and rowed to his
own ship. Karle and his men had hoisted sail, and were come a
long way before Thorer got under way. They now sailed so that
the brothers were always in advance, and both vessels made all
the haste they could. They sailed thus until they came to
Geirsver, which is the first roadstead of the traders to the
North. They both came there towards evening, and lay in the
harbour near the landing-place. Thorer's ship lay inside, and
the brothers' the outside vessel in the port. When Thorer had
set up his tents he went on shore, and many of his men with him.
They went to Karle's ship, which was well provided. Thorer
hailed the ship, and told the commanders to come on shore; on
which the brothers, and some men with them, went on the land.
Now Thorer began the same discourse, and told them to bring the
goods they got in booty to the land to have them divided. The
brothers thought that was not necessary, until they had arrived
at their own neighbourhood. Thorer said it was unusual not to
divide booty but at their own home, and thus to be left to the
honour of other people. They spoke some words about it, but
could not agree. Then Thorer turned away; but had not gone far
before he came back, and tells his comrades to wait there.
Thereupon he calls to Karle, and says he wants to speak with him
alone. Karle went to meet him; and when he came near, Thorer
struck at him with a spear, so that it went through him.
"There," said Thorer, "now thou hast learnt to know a Bjarkey
Island man. I thought thou shouldst feel Asbjorn's spear."
Karle died instantly, and Thorer with his people went immediately
on board their ship. When Gunstein and his men saw Karle fall
they ran instantly to him, took his body and carried it on board
their ship, struck their tents, and cast off from the pier, and
left the land. When Thorer and his men saw this, they took down
their tents and made preparations to follow. But as they were
hoisting the sail the fastenings to the mast broke in two, and
the sail fell down across the ship, which caused a great delay
before they could hoist the sail again. Gunstein had already got
a long way ahead before Thorer's ship fetched way, and now they
used both sails and oars. Gunstein did the same. On both sides
they made great way day and night; but so that they did not gain
much on each other, although when they came to the small sounds
among the islands Gunstein's vessel was lighter in turning. But
Thorer's ship made way upon them, so that when they came up to
Lengjuvik, Gunstein turned towards the land, and with all his men
ran up into the country, and left his ship. A little after
Thorer came there with his ship, sprang upon the land after them,
and pursued them. There was a woman who helped Gunstein to
conceal himself, and it is told that she was much acquainted with
witchcraft. Thorer and his men returned to the vessels, and took
all the goods out of Gunstein's vessel, and put on board stones
in place of the cargo, and then hauled the ship out into the
fjord, cut a hole in its bottom, and sank it to the bottom.
Thereafter Thorer, with his people, returned home to Bjarkey
Isle. Gunstein and his people proceeded in small boats at first,
and lay concealed by day, until they had passed Bjarkey, and had
got beyond Thorer's district. Gunstein went home first to Langey
Isle for a short time, and then proceeded south without any halt,
until he came south to Throndhjem, and there found King Olaf, to
whom he told all that had happened on this Bjarmaland expedition.
The king was ill-pleased with the voyage, but told Gunstein to
remain with him, promising to assist him when opportunity
offered. Gunstein took the invitation with thanks, and stayed
with King Olaf.
(1) Ludr -- the loor -- is a long tube or roll of birch-bark
used as a horn by the herdboys in the mountains in Norway.
144. MEETING OF KING OLAF AND KING ONUND.
King Olaf was, as before related, in Sarpsborg the winter (A.D.
1026) that King Canute was in Denmark. The Swedish king Onund
rode across West Gautland the same winter, and had thirty hundred
(3600) men with him. Men and messages passed between them; and
they agreed to meet in spring at Konungahella. The meeting had
been postponed, because they wished to know before they met what
King Canute intended doing. As it was now approaching towards
winter, King Canute made ready to go over to England with his
forces, and left his son Hardaknut to rule in Denmark, and with
him Earl Ulf, a son of Thorgils Sprakaleg. Ulf was married to
Astrid, King Svein's daughter, and sister of Canute the Great.
Their son Svein was afterwards king of Denmark. Earl Ulf was a
very distinguished man. When the kings Olaf and Onund heard that
Canute the Great had gone west to England, they hastened to hold
their conference, and met at Konungahella, on the Gaut river.
They had a joyful meeting, and had many friendly conversations,
of which something might become known to the public; but they
also spake often a great deal between themselves, with none but
themselves two present, of which only some things afterwards were
carried into effect, and thus became known to every one. At
parting the kings presented each other with gifts, and parted the
best of friends. King Onund went up into Gautland, and Olaf
northwards to Viken, and afterwards to Agder, and thence
northwards along the coast, but lay a long time at Egersund
waiting a wind. Here he heard that Erling Skjalgson, and the
inhabitants of Jadar with him, had assembled a large force. One
day the king's people were talking among themselves whether the
wind was south or south-west, and whether with that wind they
could sail past Jadar or not. The most said it was impossible to
fetch round. Then answers Haldor Brynjolfson, "I am of opinion
that we would go round Jadar with this wind fast enough if Erling
Skjalgson had prepared a feast for us at Sole." Then King Olaf
ordered the tents to be struck, and the vessels to be hauled out,
which was done. They sailed the same day past Jadar with the
best wind, and in the evening reached Hirtingsey, from whence the
king proceeded to Hordaland, and was entertained there in guest-
145. THORALF'S MURDER.
The same summer (A.D. 1026) a ship sailed from Norway to the
Farey Islands, with messengers carrying a verbal message from
King Olaf, that one of his court-men, Leif Ossurson, or Lagman
Gille, or Thoralf of Dimun, should come over to him from the
Farey Islands. Now when this message came to the Farey Islands,
and was delivered to those whom it concerned, they held a meeting
among themselves, to consider what might lie under this message,
and they were all of opinion that the king wanted to inquire into
the real state of the event which some said had taken place upon
the islands; namely, the failure and disappearance of the former
messengers of the king, and the loss of the two ships, of which
not a man had been saved. It was resolved that Thoralf should
undertake the journey. He got himself ready, and rigged out a
merchant-vessel belonging to himself, manned with ten or twelve
men. When it was ready, waiting a wind, it happened, at Austrey,
in the house of Thrand of Gata, that he went one fine day into
the room where his brother's two sons, Sigurd and Thord, sons of
Thorlak, were lying upon the benches in the room. Gaut the Red
was also there, who was one of their relations and a man of
distinction. Sigurd was the oldest, and their leader in all
things. Thord had a distinguished name, and was called Thord the
Low, although in reality he was uncommonly tall, and yet in
proportion more strong than large. Then Thrand said, "How many
things are changed in the course of a man's life! When we were
young, it was rare for young people who were able to do anything
to sit or lie still upon a fine day, and our forefathers would
scarcely have believed that Thoralf of Dimun would be bolder and
more active than ye are. I believe the vessel I have standing
here in the boat-house will be so old that it will rot under its
coat of tar. Here are all the houses full of wool, which is
neither used nor sold. It should not be so if I were a few
winters younger." Sigurd sprang up, called upon Gaut and Thord,
and said he would not endure Thrand's scoffs. They went out to
the houseservants, and launched the vessel upon the water,
brought down a cargo, and loaded the ship. They had no want of a
cargo at home, and the vessel's rigging was in good order, so
that in a few days they were ready for sea. There were ten or
twelve men in the vessel. Thoralf's ship and theirs had the same
wind, and they were generally in sight of each other. They came
to the land at Herna in the evening, and Sigurd with his vessel
lay outside on the strand, but so that there was not much
distance between the two ships. It happened towards evening,
when it was dark, that just as Thoralf and his people were
preparing to go to bed, Thoralf and another went on shore for a
certain purpose. When they were ready, they prepared to return
on board. The man who had accompanied Thoralf related afterwards
this story, -- that a cloth was thrown over his head, and that he
was lifted up from the ground, and he heard a great bustle. He
was taken away, and thrown head foremost down; but there was sea
under him, and he sank under the water. When he got to land, he
went to the place where he and Thoralf had been parted, and there
he found Thoralf with his head cloven down to his shoulders, and
dead. When the ship's people heard of it they carried the body
out to the ship, and let it remain there all night. King Olaf
was at that time in guest-quarters at Lygra, and thither they
sent a message. Now a Thing was called by message-token, and the
king came to the Thing. He had also ordered the Farey people of
both vessels to be summoned, and they appeared at the Thing. Now
when the Thing was seated, the king stood up and said, "Here an
event has happened which (and it is well that it is so) is very
seldom heard of. Here has a good man been put to death, without
any cause. Is there any man upon the Thing who can say who has
Nobody could answer.
"Then," said the king, "I cannot conceal my suspicion that this
deed has been done by the Farey people themselves. It appears to
me that it has been done in this way, -- that Sigurd Thorlakson
has killed the man, and Thord the Low has cast his comrade into
the sea. I think, too, that the motives to this must have been
to hinder Thoralf from telling about the misdeed of which he had
information; namely, the murder which I suspect was committed
upon my messengers."
When he had ended his speech, Sigurd Thorlakson stood up, and
desired to be heard. "I have never before," said he, "spoken at