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Medieval and Classical Library

The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Saga of Olaf Haraldson: Part IV

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #15b


One summer (A.D. 1018) that Earl Einar marauded in Ireland, he
fought in Ulfreks-fjord with the Irish king Konofogor, as has
been related before, and suffered there a great defeat.  The
summer after this (A.D. 1019) Eyvind Urarhorn was coming from the
west from Ireland, intending to go to Norway; but the weather was
boisterous, and the current against him, so he ran into
Osmundwall, and lay there wind-bound for some time.  When Earl
Einar heard of this, he hastened thither with many people, took
Eyvind prisoner, and ordered him to be put to death, but spared
the lives of most of his people.  In autumn they proceeded to
Norway to King Olaf, and told him Eyvind was killed.  The king
said little about it, but one could see that he considered it a
great and vexatious loss; for he did not usually say much if
anything turned out contrary to his wishes.  Earl Thorfin sent
Thorkel Fosterer to the islands to gather in his scat.  Now, as
Einar gave Thorkel the greatest blame for the dispute in which
Thorfin had made claim to the islands, Thorkel came suddenly back
to Caithness from Orkney, and told Earl Thorfin that he had
learnt that Earl Einar would have murdered him if his friends and
relations had not given him notice to escape.  "Now," says he,
"it is come so far between the earl and me, that either some
thing decisive between us must take place if we meet, or I must
remove to such a distance that his power will not reach me."  The
earl encouraged Thorkel much to go east to Norway to King Olaf.
"Thou wilt be highly respected," says he, "wherever thou comest
among honourable men; and I know so well thy disposition and the
earl's, that it will not be long before ye come to extremities."
Thereupon Thorkel made himself ready, and proceeded in autumn to
Norway, and then to King Olaf, with whom he stayed the whole
winter (A.D. 1020), and was in high favour.  The king often
entered into conversation with him, and he thought, what was
true, that Thorkel was a high-minded man, of good understanding.
In his conversations with Thorkel, the king found a great
difference in his description of the two earls; for Thorkel was a
great friend of Earl Thorfin, but had much to say against Einar.
Early in spring (A.D. 1020) the king sent a ship west over the
sea to Earl Thorfin, with the invitation to come east and visit
him in Norway.  The earl did not decline the invitation, for it
was accompanied by assurances of friendship.


Earl Thorfin went east to Norway, and came to King Olaf, from
whom he received a kind reception, and stayed till late in the
summer.  When he was preparing to return westwards again, King
Olaf made him a present of a large and fully-rigged long-ship.
Thorkel the Fosterer joined company with the earl, who gave him
the ship which he brought with him from the west.  The king and
the earl took leave of each other tenderly.  In autumn Earl
Thorfin came to Orkney, and when Earl Einar heard of it he went
on board his ships with a numerous band of men.  Earl Bruse came
up to his two brothers, and endeavoured to mediate between them,
and a peace was concluded and confirmed by oath.  Thorkel
Fosterer was to be in peace and friendship with Earl Einar; and
it was agreed that each of them should give a feast to the other,
and that the earl should first be Thorkel's guest at Sandwick.
When the earl came to the feast he was entertained in the best
manner; but the earl was not cheerful.  There was a great room,
in which there were doors at each end.  The day the earl should
depart Thorkel was to accompany him to the other feast; and
Thorkel sent men before, who should examine the road they had to
travel that day.  The spies came back, and said to Thorkel they
had discovered three ambushes.  "And we think," said they, "there
is deceit on foot."  When Thorkel heard this he lengthened out
his preparations for the journey, and gathered people about him.
The earl told him to get ready, as it was time to be on
horseback.  Thorkel answered, that he had many things to put in
order first, and went out and in frequently.  There was a fire
upon the floor.  At last he went in at one door, followed by an
Iceland man from Eastfjord, called Halvard, who locked the door
after him.  Thorkel went in between the fire and the place where
the earl was sitting.  The earl asked, "Art thou ready at last,

Thorkel answers, "Now I am ready;" and struck the earl upon the
head so that he fell upon the floor.

Then said the Icelander, "I never saw people so foolish as not to
drag the earl out of the fire;" and took a stick, which he set
under the earl's neck, and put him upright on the bench.  Thorkel
and his two comrades then went in all haste out of the other door
opposite to that by which they went in, and Thorkel's men were
standing without fully armed.  The earl's men now went in, and
took hold of the earl.  He was already dead, so nobody thought of
avenging him: and also the whole was done so quickly; for nobody
expected such a deed from Thorkel, and all supposed that there
really was, as before related, a friendship fixed between the
earl and Thorkel.  The most who were within were unarmed, and
they were partly Thorkel's good friends; and to this may be
added, that fate had decreed a longer life to Thorkel.  When
Thorkel came out he had not fewer men with him than the earl's
troop.  Thorkel went to his ship, and the earl's men went their
way.  The same day Thorkel sailed out eastwards into the sea.
This happened after winter; but he came safely to Norway, went as
fast as he could to Olaf, and was well received by him.  The king
expressed his satisfaction at this deed, and Thorkel was with him
all winter (A.D. 1091).


After Earl Einar's fall Bruse took the part of the country which
he had possessed; for it was known to many men on what conditions
Einar and Bruse had entered into a partnership.  Although Thorfin
thought it would be more just that each of them had half of the
islands, Bruse retained the two-thirds of the country that winter
(A.D. 1021).  In spring, however, Thorfin produced his claim, and
demanded the half of the country; but Bruse would not consent.
They held Things and meetings about the business; and although
their friends endeavoured to settle it, Thorfin would not be
content with less than the half of the islands, and insisted that
Bruse, with his disposition, would have enough even with a third
part.  Bruse replies, "When I took my heritage after my father I
was well satisfied with a third part of the country, and there
was nobody to dispute it with me; and now I have succeeded to
another third in heritage after my brother, according to a lawful
agreement between us; and although I am not powerful enough to
maintain a feud against thee, my brother, I will seek some other
way, rather than willingly renounce my property."  With this
their meeting ended.  But Bruse saw that he had no strength to
contend against Thorfin, because Thorfin had both a greater
dominion and also could have aid from his mother's brother, the
Scottish king.  He resolved, therefore, to go out of the country;
and he went eastward to King Olaf, and had with him his son
Ragnvald, then ten years old.  When the earl came to the king he
was well received.  The earl now declared his errand, and told
the king the circumstances of the whole dispute between him and
his brother, and asked help to defend his kingdom of Orkney;
promising, in return, the fullest friendship towards King Olaf.
In his answer, the king began with showing how Harald Harfager
had appropriated to himself all udal rights in Orkney, and that
the earls, since that time, have constantly held the country as a
fief, not as their udal property.  "As a sufficient proof of
which," said he, "when Eirik Blood-axe and his sons were in
Orkney the earls were subject to them; and also when my relation
Olaf Trygvason came there thy father, Earl Sigurd, became his
man.  Now I have taken heritage after King Olaf, and I will give
thee the condition to become my man and then I will give thee the
islands as a fief; and we shall try if I cannot give thee aid
that will he more to the purpose than Thorfin can get from the
Scottish king.  If thou wilt not accept of these terms, then will
I win back my udal property there in the West, as our forefathers
and relations of old possessed it."

The earl carefully considered this speech, laid it before his
friends, and demanded their advice if he should agree to it, and
enter into such terms with King Olaf and become his vassal.  "But
I do not see what my lot will be at my departure if I say no; for
the king has clearly enough declared his claim upon Orkney; and
from his great power, and our being in his hands, it is easy for
him to make our destiny what he pleases."

Although the earl saw that there was much to be considered for
and against it he chose the condition to deliver himself and his
dominion into the king's power.  Thereupon the king took the
earl's power, and the government over all the earl's lands, and
the earl became his vassal under oath of fealty.


Thorfin the earl heard that his brother Bruse had gone east to
King Olaf to seek support from him; but as Thorfin had been on a
visit to King Olaf before, and had concluded a friendship with
him, he thought his case would stand well with the king, and that
many would support it; but he believed that many more would do so
if he went there himself.  Earl Thorfin resolved, therefore, to
go east himself without delay; and he thought there would be so
little difference between the time of his arrival and Bruse's,
that Bruse's errand could not be accomplished before he came to
King Olaf.  But it went otherwise than Earl Thorfin had expected;
for when he came to the king the agreement between the king and
Bruse was already concluded and settled, and Earl Thorfin did not
know a word about Bruse's having surrendered his udal domains
until he came to King Olaf.  As soon as Earl Thorfin and King
Olaf met, the king made the same demand upon the kingdom of
Orkney that he had done to Earl Bruse, and required that Thorfin
should voluntarily deliver over to the king that part of the
country which he had possessed hitherto.  The earl answered in a
friendly and respectful way, that the king's friendship lay near
to his heart: "And if you think, sire, that my help against other
chiefs can be of use, you have already every claim to it; but I
cannot be your vessel for service, as I am an earl of the
Scottish king, and owe fealty to him."

As the king found that the earl, by his answer, declined
fulfilling the demand he had made, he said, "Earl, if thou wilt
not become my vassal, there is another condition; namely, that I
will place over the Orkney Islands the man I please, and require
thy oath that thou wilt make no claim upon these lands, but allow
whoever I place over them to sit in peace.  If thou wilt not
accept of either of these conditions, he who is to rule over
these lands may expect hostility from thee, and thou must not
think it strange if like meet like in this business."

The earl begged of the king some time to consider the matter. 
The king did so, and gave the earl time to take the counsel of
his friends on the choosing one or other of these conditions.
Then the earl requested a delay until next summer, that he might
go over the sea to the west, for his proper counsellors were all
at home, and he himself was but a child in respect of age; but
the king required that he should now make his election of one or
other of the conditions.  Thorkel Fosterer was then with the
king, and he privately sent a person to Earl Thorfin, and told
him, whatever his intentions might be, not to think of leaving
Olaf without being reconciled with him, as he stood entirely in
Olaf's power.  From such hints the earl saw there was no other
way than to let the king have his own will.  It was no doubt a
hard condition to have no hope of ever regaining his paternal
heritage, and moreover to bind himself by oath to allow those to
enjoy in peace his domain who had no hereditary right to it; but
seeing it was uncertain how he could get away, he resolved to
submit to the king and become his vassal, as Bruse had done.  The
king observed that Thorfin was more high-minded, and less
disposed to suffer subjection than Bruse, and therefore he
trusted less to Thorfin than to Bruse; and he considered also
that Thorfin would trust to the aid of the Scottish king, if he
broke the agreement.  The king also had discernment enough to
perceive that Bruse, although slow to enter into an agreement,
would promise nothing but what he intended to keep; but as to
Thorfin when he had once made up his mind he went readily into
every proposal and made no attempt to obtain any alteration of
the king's first conditions: therefore the king had his
suspicions that the earl would infringe the agreement.


When the king had carefully considered the whole matter by
himself, he ordered the signal to sound for a General Thing, to
which he called in the earls.  Then said the king, "I will now
make known to the public our agreement with the Orkney earls.
They have now acknowledged my right of property to Orkney and
Shetland, and have both become my vassals, all which they have
confirmed by oath; and now I will invest them with these lands as
a fief: namely, Bruse with one third part and Thorfin with one
third, as they formerly enjoyed them; but the other third which
Einar Rangmund had, I adjudge as fallen to my domain, because he
killed Eyvind Urarhorn, my court-man, partner, and dear friend;
and that part of the land I will manage as I think proper.  I
have also my earls, to tell you it is my pleasure that ye enter
into an agreement with Thorkel Amundason for the murder of your
brother Einar, for I will take that business, if ye agree
thereto, within my own jurisdiction."  The earls agreed to this,
as to everything else that the king proposed.  Thorkel came
forward, and surrendered to the king's judgment of the case, and
the Thing concluded.  King Olaf awarded as great a penalty for
Earl Einar's murder as for three lendermen; but as Einar himself
was the cause of the act, one third of the mulct fell to the
ground.  Thereafter Earl Thorfin asked the king's leave to
depart, and as soon as he obtained it made ready for sea with all
speed.  It happened one day, when all was ready for the voyage,
the earl sat in his ship drinking; and Thorkel Amundason came
unexpectedly to him, laid his head upon the earl's knee, and bade
him do with him what he pleased.  The earl asked why he did so.
"We are, you know, reconciled men, according to the king's
decision; so stand up, Thorkel." 

Thorkel replied, "The agreement which the king made as between me
and Bruse stands good; but what regards the agreement with thee
thou alone must determine.  Although the king made conditions for
my property and safe residence in Orkney, yet I know so well thy
disposition that there is no going to the islands for me, unless
I go there in peace with thee, Earl Thorfin; and therefore I am
willing to promise never to return to Orkney, whatever the king
may desire."

The earl remained silent; and first, after a long pause, he said,
"If thou wilt rather, Thorkel, that I shall judge between us than
trust to the king's judgment, then let the beginning of our
reconciliation be, that you go with me to the Orkney Islands,
live with me, and never leave me but with my will, and be bound
to defend my land, and execute all that I want done, as long as
we both are in life."

Thorkel replies, "This shall be entirely at thy pleasure, earl,
as well as everything else in my power."  Then Thorkel went on,
and solemnly ratified this agreement.  The earl said he would
talk afterwards about the mulct of money, but took Thorkel's oath
upon the conditions.  Thorkel immediately made ready to accompany
the earl on his voyage.  The earl set off as soon as all was
ready, and never again were King Olaf and Thorfin together.


Earl Bruse remained behind, and took his time to get ready.
Before his departure the king sent for him, and said, "It appears
to me, earl, that in thee I have a man on the west side of the
sea on whose fidelity I can depend; therefore I intend to give
thee the two parts of the country which thou formerly hadst to
rule over; for I will not that thou shouldst be a less powerful
man after entering into my service than before: but I will secure
thy fidelity by keeping thy son Ragnvald with me.  I see well
enough that with two parts of the country and my help, thou wilt
be able to defend what is thy own against thy brother Thorfin."
Bruse was thankful for getting two thirds instead of one third of
the country, and soon after he set out, and came about autumn to
Orkney; but Ragnvald, Bruse's son, remained behind in the East
with King Olaf.  Ragnvald was one of the handsomest men that
could be seen, -- his hair long, and yellow as silk; and he soon
grew up, stout and tall, and he was a very able and superb man,
both of great understanding and polite manners.  He was long with
King Olaf.  Otter Svarte speaks of these affairs in the poem he
composed about King Olaf: --

     "From Shetland, far off in the cold North Sea,
     Come chiefs who desire to be subject to thee:
     No king so well known for his will, and his might,
     To defend his own people from scaith or unright.
     These isles of the West midst the ocean's wild roar,
     Scarcely heard the voice of their sovereign before;
     Our bravest of sovereigns before could scarce bring
     These islesmen so proud to acknowledge their king."


The brothers Thorfin and Bruse came west to Orkney; and Bruse
took the two parts of the country under his rule, and Thorfin the
third part.  Thorfin was usually in Caithness and elsewhere in
Scotland; but placed men of his own over the islands.  It was
left to Bruse alone to defend the islands, which at that time
were severely scourged by vikings; for the Northmen and Danes
went much on viking cruises in the west sea, and frequently
touched at Orkney on the way to or from the west, and plundered,
and took provisions and cattle from the coast.  Bruse often
complained of his brother Thorfin, that he made no equipment of
war for the defence of Orkney and Shetland, yet levied his share
of the scat and duties.  Then Thorfin offered to him to exchange,
and that Bruse should have one third and Thorfin two thirds of
the land, but should undertake the defence of the land, for the
whole.  Although this exchange did not take place immediately, it
is related in the saga of the earls that it was agreed upon at
last; and that Thorfin had two parts and Bruse only one, when
Canute the Great subdued Norway and King Olaf fled the country.
Earl Thorfin Sigurdson has been the ablest earl of these islands,
and has had the greatest dominion of all the Orkney earls; for he
had under him Orkney, Shetland, and the Hebudes, besides very
great possessions in Scotland and Ireland.  Arnor, the earls'
skald, tells of his possessions: --

     "From Thurso-skerry to Dublin,
     All people hold with good Thorfin --
     All people love his sway,
     And the generous chief obey."

Thorfin was a very great warrior.  He came to the earldom at five
years of age, ruled more than sixty years, and died in his bed
about the last days of Harald Sigurdson.  But Bruse died in the
days of Canute the Great, a short time after the fall of Saint


Having now gone through this second story, we shall return to
that which we left, -- at King Olaf Haraldson having concluded
peace with King Olaf the Swedish king, and having the same summer
gone north to Throndhjem (1019).  He had then been king in Norway
five years (A.D. 1015-1019).  In harvest time he prepared to take
his winter residence at Nidaros, and he remained all winter there
(A.D. 1020).  Thorkel the Fosterer, Amunde's son, as before
related, was all that winter with him.  King Olaf inquired very
carefully how it stood with Christianity throughout the land, and
learnt that it was not observed at all to the north of
Halogaland, and was far from being observed as it should be in
Naumudal, and the interior of Throndhjem.  There was a man by
name Harek, a son of Eyvind Skaldaspiller, who dwelt in an island
called Thjotta in Halogaland.  Eyvind had not been a rich man,
but was of high family and high mind.  In Thjotta, at first,
there dwelt many small bondes; but Harek began with buying a farm
not very large and lived on it, and in a few years he had got all
the bondes that were there before out of the way; so that he had
the whole island, and built a large head-mansion.  He soon became
very rich; for he was a very prudent man, and very successful. 
He had long been greatly respected by the chiefs; and being
related to the kings of Norway, had been raised by them to high
dignities.  Harek's father's mother Gunhild was a daughter of
Earl Halfdan, and Ingebjorg, Harald Harfager's daughter.  At the
time the circumstance happened which we are going to relate he
was somewhat advanced in years.  Harek was the most respected man
in Halogaland, and for a long time had the Lapland trade, and did
the king's business in Lapland; sometimes alone, sometimes with
others joined to him.  He had not himself been to wait on King
Olaf, but messages had passed between them, and all was on the
most friendly footing.  This winter (A.D. 1020) that Olaf was in
Nidaros, messengers passed between the king and Harek of Thjotta.
Then the king made it known that he intended going north to
Halogaland, and as far north as the land's end; but the people of
Halogaland expected no good from this expedition.


Olaf rigged out five ships in spring (A.D. 1020), and had with
him about 300 men.  When he was ready for sea he set northwards
along the land; and when he came to Naumudal district he summoned
the bondes to a Thing, and at every Thing was accepted as king. 
He also made the laws to be read there as elsewhere, by which the
people are commanded to observe Christianity; and he threatened
every man with loss of life, and limbs, and property who would
not subject himself to Christian law.  He inflicted severe
punishments on many men, great as well as small, and left no
district until the people had consented to adopt the holy faith.
The most of the men of power and of the great bondes made feasts
for the king, and so he proceeded all the way north to
Halogaland.  Harek of Thjotta also made a feast for the king, at
which there was a great multitude of guests, and the feast was
very splendid.  Harek was made lenderman, and got the same
privileges he had enjoyed under the former chiefs of the country.


There was a man called Grankel, or Granketil, who was a rich
bonde, and at this time rather advanced in age.  In his youth he
had been on viking cruises, and had been a powerful fighter; for
he possessed great readiness in all sorts of bodily exercises.
His son Asmund was equal to his father in all these, and in some,
indeed, he excelled him.  There were many who said that with
respect to comeliness, strength, and bodily expertness, he might
be considered the third remarkably distinguished for these that
Norway had ever produced.  The first was Hakon Athelstan's
foster-son; the second, Olaf Trygvason.  Grankel invited King
Olaf to a feast, which was very magnificent; and at parting
Grankel presented the king with many honourable gifts and tokens
of friendship.  The king invited Asmund, with many persuasions,
to follow him; and as Asmund could not decline the honours
offered him, he got ready to travel with the king, became his
man, and stood in high favour with him.  The king remained in
Halogaland the greater part of the summer, went to all the
Things, and baptized all the people.  Thorer Hund dwelt at that
time in the island Bjarkey.  He was the most powerful man in the
North, and also became one of Olaf's lendermen.  Many sons of
great bondes resolved also to follow King Olaf from Halogaland.
Towards the end of summer King Olaf left the North, and sailed
back to Throndhjem, and landed at Nidaros, where he passed the
winter (A.D. 1021).  It was then that Thorkel the Fosterer came
from the West from Orkney, after killing Einar Rangmumd, as
before related.  This autumn corn was dear in Throndhjem, after a
long course of good seasons, and the farther north the dearer was
the corn; but there was corn enough in the East country, and in
the Uplands, and it was of great help to the people of Throndhjem
that many had old corn remaining beside them.


In autumn the news was brought to King Olaf that the bondes had
had a great feast on the first winter-day's eve, at which there
was a numerous attendance and much drinking; and it was told the
king that all the remembrance-cups to the Asas, or old gods, were
blessed according to the old heathen forms; and it was added,
that cattle and horses had been slain, and the altars sprinkled
with their blood, and the sacrifices accompanied with the prayer
that was made to obtain good seasons.  It was also reported that
all men saw clearly that the gods were offended at the Halogaland
people turning Christian.  Now when the king heard this news he
sent men into the Throndhjem country, and ordered several bondes,
whose names he gave, to appear before him.  There was a man
called Olver of Eggja, so called after his farm on which he
lived.  He was powerful, of great family, and the head-man of
those who on account of the bondes appeared before the king. 
Now, when they came to the king, he told them these accusations;
to which Olver, on behalf of the bondes, replied, that they had
had no other feasts that harvest than their usual entertainments,
and social meetings, and friendly drinking parties.  "But as to
what may have been told you of the words which may have fallen
from us Throndhjem people in our drinking parties, men of
understanding would take good care not to use such language; but
I cannot hinder drunken or foolish people's talk."  Olver was a
man of clever speech, and bold in what he said, and defended the
bondes against such accusations.  In the end, the king said the
people of the interior of Thorndhjem must themselves give the
best testimony to their being in the right faith.  The bondes got
leave to return home, and set off as soon as they were ready.


Afterwards, when winter was advanced, it was told the king that
the people of the interior of Throndhjem had assembled in great
number at Maerin, and that there was a great sacrifice in the
middle of winter, at which they sacrificed offerings for peace
and a good season.  Now when the king knew this on good authority
to be true, he sent men and messages into the interior, and
summoned the bondes whom he thought of most understanding into
the town.  The bondes held a council among themselves about this
message; and all those who had been upon the same occasion in the
beginning of winter were now very unwilling to make the journey.
Olver, however, at the desire of all the bondes, allowed himself
to be persuaded.  When he came to the town he went immediately
before the king, and they talked together.  The king made the
same accusation against the bondes, that they had held a mid-
winter sacrifice.  Olver replies, that this accusation against
the bondes was false.  "We had," said he, "Yule feasts and
drinking feasts wide around in the districts; and the bondes do
not prepare their feasts so sparingly, sire, that there is not
much left over, which people consume long afterwards.  At Maerin
there is a great farm, with a large house on it, and a great
neighbourhood all around it, and it is the great delight of the
people to drink many together in company."  The king said little
in reply, but looked angry, as he thought he knew the truth of
the matter better than it was now represented.  He ordered the
bondes to return home.  "I shall some time or other," said he,
"come to the truth of what you are now concealing, and in such a
way that ye shall not be able to contradict it.  But, however,
that may be, do not try such things again."  The bondes returned
home, and told the result of their journey, and that the king was
altogether enraged.


At Easter (A.D. 1021) the king held a feast, to which he had
invited many of the townspeople as well as bondes.  After Easter
he ordered his ships to be launched into the water, oars and
tackle to be put on board, decks to be laid in the ships, and
tilts (1) and rigging to be set up, and to be laid ready for sea
at the piers.  Immediately after Easter he sent men into Veradal.
There was a man called Thoralde, who was the king's bailiff, and
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
ruling them.


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
Erling's habitation."

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
thy business."

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


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


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
Sel's murder.


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.


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
and fly."

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.


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.

Continue to Haraldson: Part V