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The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Saga of Olaf Haraldson: Part V

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #15b


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
their country.

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.


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
his message.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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
greatest fright."

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.
     -- L.


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-


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
done it?"

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
a Thing, and I do not expect to be looked upon as a man of ready
words.  But I think there is sufficient necessity before me to
reply something to this.  I will venture to make a guess that the
speech the king has made comes from some man's tongue who is of
far less understanding and goodness than he is, and has evidently
proceeded from those who are our enemies.  It is speaking
improbabilities to say that I could be Thoralf's murderer; for
he was my foster-brother and good friend.  Had the case been
otherwise, and had there been anything outstanding between me and
Thoralf, yet I am surely born with sufficient understanding to
have done this deed in the Farey Islands, rather than here
between your hands, sire.  But I am ready to clear myself, and my
whole ship's crew, of this act, and to make oath according to
what stands in your laws.  Or, if ye find it more satisfactory, I
offer to clear myself by the ordeal of hot iron; and I wish,
sire, that you may be present yourself at the proof."

When Sigurd had ceased to speak there were many who supported his
case, and begged the king that Sigurd might be allowed to clear
himself of this accusation.  They thought that Sigurd had spoken
well, and that the accusation against him might be untrue.

The king replies, "It may be with regard to this man very
differently, and if he is belied in any respect he must be a good
man; and if not, he is the boldest I have ever met with: and I
believe this is the case, and that he will bear witness to it

At the desire of the people, the king took Sigurd's obligation to
take the iron ordeal; he should come the following day to Lygra,
where the bishop should preside at the ordeal; and so the Thing
closed.  The king went back to Lygra, and Sigurd and his comrades
to their ship.

As soon as it began to be dark at night Sigurd said to his ship's
people.  "To say the truth, we have come into a great misfortune;
for a great lie is got up against us, and this king is a
deceitful, crafty man.  Our fate is easy to be foreseen where he
rules; for first he made Thoralf be slain, and then made us the
misdoers, without benefit of redemption by fine.  For him it is
an easy matter to manage the iron ordeal, so that I fear he will
come ill off who tries it against him.  Now there is coming a
brisk mountain breeze, blowing right out of the sound and off the
land; and it is my advice that we hoist our sail, and set out to
sea.  Let Thrand himself come with his wool to market another
summer; but if I get away, it is my opinion I shall never think
of coming to Norway again."

His comrades thought the advice good, hoisted their sail, and in
the night-time took to the open sea with all speed.  They did not
stop until they came to Farey, and home to Gata.  Thrand was ill-
pleased with their voyage, and they did not answer him in a very
friendly way; but they remained at home, however, with Thrand.
The morning after, King Olaf heard of Sigurd's departure, and
heavy reports went round about this case; and there were many who
believed that the accusation against Sigurd was true, although
they had denied and opposed it before the king.  King Olaf spoke
but little about the matter, but seemed to know of a certainty
that the suspicion he had taken up was founded in truth.  The
king afterwards proceeded in his progress, taking up his abode
where it was provided for him.


King Olaf called before him the men who had come from Iceland,
Thorod Snorrason, Geller Thorkelson, Stein Skaptason, and Egil
Halson, and spoke to them thus: -- "Ye have spoken to me much in
summer about making yourselves ready to return to Iceland, and I
have never given you a distinct answer.  Now I will tell you what
my intention is.  Thee, Geller, I propose to allow to return, if
thou wilt carry my message there; but none of the other
Icelanders who are now here may go to Iceland before I have heard
how the message which thou, Geller, shalt bring thither has been

When the king had made this resolution known, it appeared to
those who had a great desire to return, and were thus forbidden,
that they were unreasonably and hardly dealt with, and that they
were placed in the condition of unfree men.  In the meantime
Geller got ready for his journey, and sailed in summer (A.D.
1026) to Iceland, taking with him the message he was to bring
before the Thing the following summer (A.D. 1027).  The king's
message was, that he required the Icelanders to adopt the laws
which he had set in Norway, also to pay him thane-tax and nose-
tax (1); namely, a penny for every nose, and the penny at the
rate of ten pennies to the yard of wadmal (2).  At the same time
he promised them his friendship if they accepted, and threatened
them with all his vengeance if they refused his proposals.

The people sat long in deliberation on this business; but at last
they were unanimous in refusing all the taxes and burdens which
were demanded of them.  That summer Geller returned back from
Iceland to Norway to King Olaf, and found him in autumn in the
east in Viken, just as he had come from Gautland; of which I
shall speak hereafter in this story of King Olaf.  Towards the
end of autumn King Olaf repaired north to Throndhjem, and went
with his people to Nidaros, where he ordered a winter residence
to be prepared for him.  The winter (A.D. 1027) that he passed
here in the merchant-town of Nidaros was the thirteenth year of
his reign.

(1)  Nefgildi (nef=nose), a nose-tax or poll-tax payable to the
     king.  This ancient "nose-tax" was also imposed by the
     Norsemen on conquered countries, the penalty for defaulters
     being the loss of their nose.
(2)  Wadmal was the coarse woollen cloth made in Iceland, and so
     generally used for clothing that it was a measure of value
     in the North, like money, for other commodities. -- L.


There was once a man called Ketil Jamte, a son of Earl Onund of
Sparby, in the Throndhjem district.  He fled over the ridge of
mountains from Eystein Illrade, cleared the forest, and settled
the country now called the province of Jamtaland.  A great many
people joined him from the Throndhjem land, on account of the
disturbances there; for this King Eystein had laid taxes on the
Throndhjem people, and set his dog, called Saur, to be king over
them.  Thorer Helsing was Ketil's grandson, and he colonised the
province called Helsingjaland, which is named after him.  When
Harald Harfager subdued the kingdom by force, many people fled
out of the country from him, both Throndhjem people and Naumudal
people, and thus new settlements were added to Jamtaland; and
some settlers went even eastwards to Helsingjaland and down to
the Baltic coast, and all became subjects of the Swedish king.
While Hakon Athelstan's foster-son was over Norway there was
peace, and merchant traffic from Throndhjem to Jamtaland; and, as
he was an excellent king, the Jamtalanders came from the east to
him, paid him scat, and he gave them laws and administered
justice.  They would rather submit to his government than to the
Swedish king's, because they were of Norwegian race; and all the
Helsingjaland people, who had their descent from the north side
of the mountain ridge, did the same.  This continued long after
those times, until Olaf the Thick and the Swedish king Olaf
quarrelled about the boundaries.  Then the Jamtaland and
Helsingjaland people went back to the Swedish king; and then the
forest of Eid was the eastern boundary of the land, and the
mountain ridge, or keel of the country, the northern: and the
Swedish king took scat of Helsingjaland, and also of Jamtaland.
Now, thought the king of Norway, Olaf, in consequence of the
agreement between him and the Swedish king, the scat of Jamtaland
should be paid differently than before; although it had long been
established that the Jamtaland people paid their scat to the
Swedish king, and that he appointed officers over the country.
The Swedes would listen to nothing, but that all the land to the
east of the keel of the country belonged to the Swedish king. 
Now this went so, as it often happens, that although the kings
were brothers-in-law and relations, each would hold fast the
dominions which he thought he had a right to.  King Olaf had sent
a message round in Jamtaland, declaring it to be his will that
the Jamtaland people should be subject to him, threatening them
with violence if they refused; but the Jamtaland people preferred
being subjects of the Swedish king.


The Icelanders, Thorod Snorrason and Stein Skaptason, were ill-
pleased at not being allowed to do as they liked.  Stein was a
remarkably handsome man, dexterous at all feats, a great poet,
splendid in his apparel, and very ambitious of distinction.  His
father, Skapte, had composed a poem on King Olaf, which he had
taught Stein, with the intention that he should bring it to King
Olaf.  Stein could not now restrain himself from making the king
reproaches in word and speech, both in verse and prose.  Both he
and Thorod were imprudent in their conversation, and said the
king would be looked upon as a worse man than those who, under
faith and law, had sent their sons to him, as he now treated them
as men without liberty.  The king was angry at this.  One day
Stein stood before the king, and asked if he would listen to the
poem which his father Skapte had composed about him.  The king
replies, "Thou must first repeat that, Stein, which thou hast
composed about me."  Stein replies, that it was not the case that
he had composed any.  "I am no skald, sire," said he; "and if I
even could compose anything, it, and all that concerns me, would
appear to thee of little value."  Stein then went out, but
thought he perceived what the king alluded to.  Thorgeir, one of
the king's land-bailiffs, who managed one of his farms in
Orkadal, happened to be present, and heard the conversation of
the king and Stein, and soon afterwards Thorgeir returned home.
One night Stein left the city, and his footboy with him.  They
went up Gaularas and into Orkadal.  One evening they came to one
of the king's farms which Thorgeir had the management of, and
Thorgeir invited Stein to pass the night there, and asked where
he was travelling to.  Stein begged the loan of a horse and
sledge, for he saw they were just driving home corn.

Thorgeir replies, "I do not exactly see how it stands with thy
journey, and if thou art travelling with the king's leave.  The
other day, methinks, the words were not very sweet that passed
between the king and thee."

Stein said, "If it be so that I am not my own master for the
king, yet I will not submit to such treatment from his slaves;"
and, drawing his sword, he killed the landbailiff. Then he took
the horse, put the boy upon him, and sat himself in the sledge,
and so drove the whole night.  They travelled until they came to
Surnadal in More.  There they had themselves ferried across the
fjord, and proceeded onwards as fast as they could.  They told
nobody about the murder, but wherever they came called themselves
king's men, and met good entertainment everywhere.  One day at
last they came towards evening to Giske Isle, to Thorberg
Arnason's house.  He was not at home himself, but his wife
Ragnhild, a daughter of Erling Skjalgson, was.  There Stein was
well received, because formerly there had been great friendship
between them.  It had once happened, namely, that Stein, on his
voyage from Iceland with his own vessel, had come to Giske from
sea, and had anchored at the island.  At that time Ragnhild was
in the pains of childbirth, and very ill, and there was no priest
on the island, or in the neighbourhood of it.  There came a
message to the merchant-vessel to inquire if, by chance, there
was a priest on board.  There happened to be a priest in the
vessel, who was called Bard; but he was a young man from
Westfjord, who had little learning.  The messengers begged the
priest to go with them, but he thought it was a difficult matter:
for he knew his own ignorance, and would not go.  Stein added his
word to persuade the priest.  The priest replies, "I will go if
thou wilt go with me; for then I will have confidence, if I
should require advice."  Stein said he was willing; and they went
forthwith to the house, and to where Ragnhild was in labour. 
Soon after she brought forth a female child, which appeared to be
rather weak.  Then the priest baptized the infant, and Stein held
it at the baptism, at which it got the name of Thora; and Stein
gave it a gold ring.  Ragnhild promised Stein her perfect
friendship, and bade him come to her whenever he thought he
required her help.  Stein replied that he would hold no other
female child at baptism, and then they parted.  Now it was come
to the time when Stein required this kind promise of Ragnhild to
be fulfilled, and he told her what had happened, and that the
king's wrath had fallen upon him.  She answered, that all the aid
she could give should stand at his service; but bade him wait for
Thorberg's arrival.  She then showed him to a seat beside her son
Eystein Orre, who was then twelve years old.  Stein presented
gifts to Ragnhild and Eystein.  Thorberg had already heard how
Stein had conducted himself before he got home, and was rather
vexed at it.  Ragnhild went to him, and told him how matters
stood with Stein, and begged Thorberg to receive him, and take
care of him.

Thorberg replies, "I have heard that the king, after sending out
a message-token, held a Thing concerning the murder of Thorgeir,
and has condemned Stein as having fled the country, and likewise
that the king is highly incensed: and I have too much sense to
take the cause of a foreigner in hand, and draw upon myself the
king's wrath.  Let Stein, therefore, withdraw from hence as
quickly as thou canst."

Ragnhild replied, that they should either both go or both stay.

Thorberg told her to go where she pleased. "For I expect," said
he, "that wherever thou goest thou wilt soon come back, for here
is thy importance greatest."

Her son Eystein Orre then stood forward, and said he would not
stay behind if Ragnhild goes.

Thorberg said that they showed themselves very stiff and
obstinate in this matter.  "And it appears that ye must have your
way in it, since ye take it so near to heart; but thou art
reckoning too much, Ragnhild, upon thy descent, in paying so
little regard to King Olaf's word."

Ragnhild replied, "If thou art so much afraid to keep Stein with
thee here, go with him to my father Erling, or give him
attendants, so that he may get there in safety."  Thorberg said
he would not send Stein there; "for there are enough of things
besides to enrage the king against Erling."  Stein thus remained
there all winter (A.D. 1027).

After Yule a king's messenger came to Thorberg, with the order
that Thorberg should come to him before midsummer; and the order
was serious and severe.  Thorberg laid it before his friends, and
asked their advice if he should venture to go to the king after
what had taken place.  The greater number dissuaded him, and
thought it more advisable to let Stein slip out of his hands than
to venture within the king's power: but Thorberg himself had
rather more inclination not to decline the journey.  Soon after
Thorberg went to his brother Fin, told him the circumstances, and
asked him to accompany him.  Fin replied, that he thought it
foolish to be so completely under woman's influence that he dared
not, on account of his wife, keep the fealty and law of his

"Thou art free," replied Thorberg, "to go with me or not; but I
believe it is more fear of the king than love to him that keeps
thee back."  And so they parted in anger.

Then Thorberg went to his brother Arne Arnason, and asked him to
go with him to the king.  Arne says, "It appears to me wonderful
that such a sensible, prudent man, should fall into such a
misfortune, without necessity, as to incur the king's
indignation.  It might be excused if it were thy relation or
foster-brother whom thou hadst thus sheltered; but not at all
that thou shouldst take up an Iceland man, and harbour the king's
outlaw, to the injury of thyself and all thy relations."

Thorberg replies, "It stands good, according to the proverb, -- a
rotten branch will be found in every tree.  My father's greatest
misfortune evidently was that he had such ill luck in producing
sons that at last he produced one incapable of acting, and
without any resemblance to our race, and whom in truth I never
would have called brother, if it were not that it would have been
to my mother's shame to have refused."

Thorberg turned away in a gloomy temper, and went home.
Thereafter he sent a message to his brother Kalf in the
Throndhjem district, and begged him to meet him at Agdanes; and
when the messengers found Kalf he promised, without more ado, to
make the journey.  Ragnhild sent men east to Jadar to her father
Erling, and begged him to send people.  Erling's sons, Sigurd and
Thord, came out, each with a ship of twenty benches of rowers and
ninety men.  When they came north Thorberg received them
joyfully, entertained them well, and prepared for the voyage with
them.  Thorberg had also a vessel with twenty benches, and they
steered their course northwards.  When they came to the mouth of
the Throndhjem fjord Thorberg's two brothers, Fin and Arne, were
there already, with two ships each of twenty benches.  Thorberg
met his brothers with joy, and observed that his whetstone had
taken effect; and Fin replied he seldom needed sharpening for
such work.  Then they proceeded north with all their forces to
Throndhjem, and Stein was along with them.  When they came to
Agdanes, Kaff Arnason was there before them; and he also had a
wellmanned ship of twenty benches.  With this war-force they
sailed up to Nidaros, where they lay all night.  The morning
after they had a consultation with each other.  Kalf and Erling's
sons were for attacking the town with all their forces, and
leaving the event to fate; but Thorberg wished that they should
first proceed with moderation, and make an offer; in which
opinion Fin and Arne also concurred.  It was accordingly resolved
that Fin and Arne, with a few men, should first wait upon the
king.  The king had previously heard that they had come so strong
in men, and was therefore very sharp in his speech.  Fin offered
to pay mulct for Thorberg, and also for Stein, and bade the king
to fix what the penalties should be, however large; stipulating
only for Thorberg safety and his fiefs, and for Stein life and

The king replies, "It appears to me that ye come from home so
equipped that ye can determine half as much as I can myself, or
more; but this I expected least of all from you brothers, that ye
should come against me with an army; and this counsel, I can
observe, has its origin from the people of Jadar; but ye have no
occasion to offer me money in mulct."

Fin replies, "We brothers have collected men, not to offer
hostility to you, sire, but to offer rather our services; but if
you will bear down Thorberg altogether, we must all go to King
Canute the Great with such forces as we have."

Then the king looked at him, and said, "If ye brothers will give
your oaths that ye will follow me in the country and out of the
country, and not part from me without my leave and permission,
and shall not conceal from me any treasonable design that may
come to your knowledge against me, then will I agree to a peace
with you brothers."

Then Fin returned to his forces, and told the conditions which
the king had proposed to them.  Now they held a council upon it,
and Thorberg, for his part, said he would accept the terms
offered.  "I have no wish," says he, "to fly from my property,
and seek foreign masters; but, on the contrary, will always
consider it an honour to follow King Olaf, and be where he is."
Then says Kalf, "I will make no oath to King Olaf, but will be
with him always, so long as I retain my fiefs and dignities, and
so long as the king will be my friend; and my opinion is that we
should all do the same."  Fin says, "we will venture to let King
Olaf himself determine in this matter."  Arne Arnason says, "I
was resolved to follow thee, brother Thorberg, even if thou hadst
given battle to King Olaf, and I shall certainly not leave thee
for listening to better counsel; so I intend to follow thee and
Fin, and accept the conditions ye have taken."

Thereupon the brothers Thorberg, Fin, and Arne, went on board a
vessel, rowed into the fjord, and waited upon the king.  The
agreement went accordingly into fulfillment, so that the brothers
gave their oaths to the king.  Then Thorberg endeavored to make
peace for Stein with the king; but the king replied that Stein
might for him depart in safety, and go where he pleased, but "in
my house he can never be again."  Then Thorberg and his brothers
went back to their men.  Kalf went to Eggja, and Fin to the king;
and Thorberg, with the other men, went south to their homes.
Stein went with Erling's sons; but early in the spring (A.D.
1027) he went west to England into the service of Canute the
Great, and was long with him, and was treated with great

Continue to Haraldson: Part VI