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Medieval and Classical Library

The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Saga of Harald Hardrade: Part I

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #15b

Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, was born in the year A.D. 1015, and left Norway A.D. 1030. He was called Hardrade, that is, the severe counsellor, the tyrant, though the Icelanders never applied this epithet to him. Harald helped the Icelanders in the famine of A.D. 1056, and sent them timber for a church at Thingvol. It was the Norwegians who gave him the name tyrant in contrast to the "debonairete" of Magnus. He came to Norway in A.D. 1046, and became sole king in A.D. 1047. He died in A.D. 1066, and his son and successor Magnus died in A.D. 1069.

His saga is to be compared with "Agrip", "Fagrskinna", and "Morkinskinna".

The skalds quoted are: Thiodolf, Bolverk, Illuge Bryndalaskald, Stuf the skald, Thorarin Skeggjason, Valgard o' Val, Od Kikinaskald, Grane Skald, Thorleik the Fair, Stein Herdison, Ulf the Marshal, Arnor the earls' skald, Thorkel Skallason, and King Harald Hardrade himself.


Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, brother of Olaf the Saint, by the same
mother, was at the battle of Stiklestad, and was fifteen years
old when King Olaf the Saint fell, as was before related.  Harald
was wounded, and escaped with other fugitives.  So says Thiodolf:

     "At Haug the fire-sparks from his shield
     Flew round the king's head on the field,
     As blow for blow, for Olaf's sake,
     His sword and shield would give and take. 
     Bulgaria's conqueror, I ween,
     Had scarcely fifteen winters seen,
     When from his murdered brother's side
     His unhelmed head he had to hide."

Ragnvald Brusason led Harald from the battle, and the night after
the fray took him to a bonde who dwelt in a forest far from other
people.  The peasant received Harald, and kept him concealed; and
Harald was waited upon until he was quite cured of his wounds.
Then the bonde's son attended him on the way east over the ridge
of the land, and they went by all the forest paths they could,
avoiding the common road.  The bonde's son did not know who it
was he was attending; and as they were riding together between
two uninhabited forests, Harald made these verses:

     "My wounds were bleeding as I rode;
     And down below the bondes strode,
     Killing the wounded with the sword,
     The followers of their rightful lord.
     From wood to wood I crept along,
     Unnoticed by the bonde-throng;
     `Who knows,' I thought, `a day may come
     My name will yet be great at home.'"

He went eastward over the ridge through Jamtaland and
Helsingjaland, and came to Svithjod, where he found Ragnvald
Brusason, and many others of King Olaf's men who had fled from
the battle at Stiklestad, and they remained there till winter was


The spring after (A.D. 1031) Harald and Ragnvald got ships, and
went east in summer to Russia to King Jarisleif, and were with
him all the following winter.  So says the skald Bolverk: --

     "The king's sharp sword lies clean and bright,
     Prepared in foreign lands to fight:
     Our ravens croak to have their fill,
     The wolf howls from the distant hill.
     Our brave king is to Russia gone, --
     Braver than he on earth there's none;
     His sharp sword will carve many feast
     To wolf and raven in the East."

King Jarisleif gave Harald and Ragnvald a kind reception, and
made Harald and Ellif, the son of Earl Ragnvald, chiefs over the
land-defence men of the king.  So says Thiodolf: --

     "Where Ellif was, one heart and hand
     The two chiefs had in their command;
     In wedge or line their battle order
     Was ranged by both without disorder.
     The eastern Vindland men they drove
     Into a corner; and they move
     The Lesians, although ill at ease,
     To take the laws their conquerors please."

Harald remained several years in Russia, and travelled far and
wide in the Eastern land.  Then he began his expedition out to
Greece, and had a great suite of men with him; and on he went to
Constantinople.  So says Bolverk: --

     "Before the cold sea-curling blast
     The cutter from the land flew past,
     Her black yards swinging to and fro,
     Her shield-hung gunwale dipping low.
     The king saw glancing o'er the bow
     Constantinople's metal glow
     From tower and roof, and painted sails
     Gliding past towns and wooded vales."


At that time the Greek empire was ruled by the Empress Zoe the
Great, and with her Michael Catalactus.  Now when Harald came to
Constantinople he presented himself to the empress, and went into
her pay; and immediately, in autumn, went on board the galleys
manned with troops which went out to the Greek sea.  Harald had
his own men along with him.  Now Harald had been but a short time
in the army before all the Varings flocked to him, and they all
joined together when there was a battle.  It thus came to pass
that Harald was made chief of the Varings.  There was a chief
over all the troops who was called Gyrger, and who was a relation
of the empress.  Gyrger and Harald went round among all the Greek
islands, and fought much against the corsairs.


It happened once that Gyrger and the Varings were going through
the country, and they resolved to take their night quarters in a
wood; and as the Varings came first to the ground, they chose the
place which was best for pitching their tents upon, which was the
highest ground; for it is the nature of the land there to be soft
when rain falls, and therefore it is bad to choose a low
situation for your tents.  Now when Gyrger, the chief of the
army, came up, and saw where the Varings had set up their tents,
he told them to remove, and pitch their tents elsewhere, saying
he would himself pitch his tents on their ground.  Harald
replies, "If ye come first to the night quarter, ye take up your
ground, and we must go pitch our tents at some other place where
we best can.  Now do ye so, in the same way, and find a place
where ye will.  It is, I think, the privilege of us Varings here
in the dominions of the Greek emperor to be free, and independent
of all but their own commanders, and bound only to serve the
emperor and empress."  They disputed long and hotly about this,
and both sides armed themselves, and were on the way to fight for
it; but men of understanding came between and separated them.
They said it would be better to come to an agreement about such
questions, so that in future no dispute could arise.  It came
thus to an arbitration between them, at which the best and most
sagacious men should give their judgment in the case.  At this
arbitration it was determined, with the consent of all parties,
that lots should be thrown into a box, and the Greeks and Varings
should draw which was first to ride, or to row, or to take place
in a harbour, or to choose tent ground; and each side should be
satisfied with what the drawing of the lots gave them. 
Accordingly the lots were made and marked.  Harald said to
Gyrger, "Let me see what mark thou hast put upon thy lot, that
we may not both mark our lots in the same way."  He did so.  Then
Harald marked his lot, and put it into the box along with the
other.  The man who was to draw out the lots then took up one of
the lots between his fingers, held it up in the air, and said,
"This lot shall be the first to ride, and to row, and to take
place in harbour and on the tent field."  Harald seized his band,
snatched the die, and threw it into the sea, and called out,
"That was our lot!"  Gyrger said, "Why did you not let other
people see it?"  Harald replies, "Look at the one remaining in
the box, -- there you see your own mark upon it."  Accordingly
the lot which was left behind was examined, and all men saw that
Gyrger's mark was upon it, and accordingly the judgment was given
that the Varings had gained the first choice in all they had been
quarrelling about.  There were many things they quarrelled about,
but the end always was that Harald got his own way.


They went out all on a campaign in summer.  When the whole army
was thus assembled Harald kept his men out of the battle, or
wherever he saw the least danger, under pretext of saving his
men; but where he was alone with his own men only, he fought so
desperately that they must either come off victorious or die.  It
thus happened often that when he commanded the army he gained
victories, while Gyrger could do nothing.  The troops observed
this, and insisted they would be more successful if Harald alone
was chief of the whole army, and upbraided the general with never
effecting anything, neither himself, nor his people.  Gyrger
again said that the Varings would give him no assistance, and
ordered Harald to go with his men somewhere else, and he, with
the rest of his army, would win what they could.  Harald
accordingly left the army with the Varings and the Latin men, and
Gyrger on his side went off with the Greek troops.  Then it was
seen what each could do.  Harald always gained victories and
booty; but the Greeks went home to Constantinople with their
army, all except a few brave men, who, to gain booty and money,
joined themselves to Harald, and took him for their leader.  He
then went with his troops westward to Africa, which the Varings
call Serkland, where he was strengthened with many men.  In
Serkland he took eighty castles, some of which surrendered, and
others were stormed.  He then went to Sicily.  So says Thiodolf:

     "The serpent's bed of glowing gold
     He hates -- the generous king, the bold!
     He who four score towers laid low,
     Ta'en from the Saracenic foe.
     Before upon Sicilian plains,
     Shield joined to shield, the fight he gains,
     The victory at Hild's war game;
     And now the heathens dread his name."

So says also Illuge Bryndala-skald: --

     "For Michael's empire Harald fought,
     And southern lands to Michael brought;
     So Budle's son his friendship showed
     When he brought friends to his abode."

Here it is said that Michael was king of the Greeks at that time.
Harald remained many years in Africa, where he gathered great
wealth in gold, jewels, and all sorts of precious things; and all
the wealth he gathered there which he did not need for his
expenses, he sent with trusty men of his own north to Novgorod to
King Jarisleif's care and keeping.  He gathered together there
extraordinary treasure, as is reasonable to suppose; for he had
the plundering of the part of the world richest in gold and
valuable things, and he had done such great deeds as with truth
are related, such as taking eighty strongholds by his valour.


Now when Harald came to Sicily he plundered there also, and sat
down with his army before a strong and populous castle.  He
surrounded the castle; but the walls were so thick there was no
possibility of breaking into it, and the people of the castle had
enough of provisions, and all that was necessary for defence.
Then Harald hit upon an expedient.  He made his bird-catchers
catch the small birds which had their nests within the castle,
but flew into the woods by day to get food for their young.  He
had small splinters of tarred wood bound upon the backs of the
birds, smeared these over with wax and sulphur, and set fire to
them. As soon as the birds were let loose they all flew at once
to the castle to their young, and to their nests, which they had
under the house roofs that were covered with reeds or straw.  The
fire from the birds seized upon the house roofs; and although
each bird could only carry a small burden of fire, yet all at
once there was a mighty flame, caused by so many birds carrying
fire with them and spreading it widely among the house roofs.
Thus one house after the other was set on fire, until the castle
itself was in flames.  Then the people came out of the castle and
begged for mercy; the same men who for many days had set at
defiance the Greek army and its leader.  Harald granted life and
safety to all who asked quarter, and made himself master of the


There was another castle before which Harald had come with his
army.  This castle was both full of people and so strong, that
there was no hope of breaking into it.  The castle stood upon a
flat hard plain.  Then Harald undertook to dig a passage from a
place where a stream ran in a bed so deep that it could not be
seen from the castle.  They threw out all the earth into the
stream, to be carried away by the water.  At this work they
laboured day and night, and relieved each other in gangs; while
the rest of the army went the whole day against the castle, where
the castle people shot through their loop-holes.  They shot at
each other all day in this way, and at night they slept on both
sides.  Now when Harald perceived that his underground passage
was so long that it must be within the castle walls, he ordered
his people to arm themselves.  It was towards daybreak that they
went into the passage.  When they got to the end of it they dug
over their heads until they came upon stones laid in lime which
was the floor of a stone hall.  They broke open the floor and
rose into the hall.  There sat many of the castle-men eating and
drinking, and not in the least expecting such uninvited wolves;
for the Varings instantly attacked them sword in hand, and killed
some, and those who could get away fled.  The Varings pursued
them; and some seized the castle gate, and opened it, so that the
whole body of the army got in.  The people of the castle fled;
but many asked quarter from the troops, which was granted to all
who surrendered.  In this way Harald got possession of the place,
and found an immense booty in it.


They came to a third castle, the greatest and strongest of them
all, and also the richest in property and the fullest of people.
Around this castle there were great ditches, so that it evidently
could not be taken by the same device as the former; and they lay
a long time before it without doing anything.  When the castle-
men saw this they became bolder, drew up their array on the
castle walls, threw open the castle gates, and shouted to the
Varings, urging them, and jeering at them, and telling them to
come into the castle, and that they were no more fit for battle
than so many poultry.  Harald told his men to make as if they did
not know what to do, or did not understand what was said.  "For,"
says he, "if we do make an assault we can effect nothing, as they
can throw their weapons under their feet among us; and if we get
in the castle with a party of our people, they have it in their
power to shut them in. and shut out the others; for they have all
the castle gates beset with men.  We shall therefore show them
the same scorn they show us, and let them see we do not fear
them.  Our men shall go out upon the plain nearest to the castle;
taking care, however, to keep out of bow-shot.  All our men shall
go unarmed, and be playing with each other, so that the castle-
men may see we do not regard them or their array."  Thus it went
on for some days, without anything being done.


Two Iceland men were then with Harald; the one was Haldor (1), a
son of the gode Snorre, who brought this account to Iceland; the
other was Ulf Uspakson, a grandson of Usvifer Spake.  Both were
very strong men, bold under arms, and Harald's best friends; and
both were in this play.  Now when some days were passed the
castle people showed more courage, and would go without weapons
upon the castle wall, while the castle gates were standing open.
The Varings observing this, went one day to their sports with the
sword under their cloaks, and the helmet under their hats.  After
playing awhile they observed that the castle people were off
their guard; and instantly seizing their weapons, they made at
the castle gate.  When the men of the castle saw this they went
against them armed completely, and a battle began in the castle
gate.  The Varings had no shields, but wrapped their cloaks round
their left arms.  Some of them were wounded, some killed, and all
stood in great danger.  Now came Harald with the men who had
remained in the camp, to the assistance of his people; and the
castle-men had now got out upon the walls, from which they shot
and threw stones down upon them; so that there was a severe
battle, and those who were in the castle gates thought that help
was brought them slower than they could have wished.  When Harald
came to the castle gate his standard-bearer fell, and Harald said
to Haldor, "Do thou take up the banner now."  Haldor took up the
banner, and said foolishly, "Who will carry the banner before
thee, if thou followest it so timidly as thou hast done for a
while?"  But these were words more of anger than of truth; for
Harald was one of the boldest of men under arms.  Then they
pressed in, and had a hard battle in the castle; and the end was
that Harald gained the victory and took the castle.  Haldor was
much wounded in the face, and it gave him great pain as long as
he lived.

(1)  One of the descendants of this Haldor was Snorre Sturlason,
     the author of "Heimskring1a".


The fourth castle which Harald came to was the greatest of all we
have been speaking about.  It was so strong that there was no
possibility of breaking into it.  They surrounded the castle, so
that no supplies could get into it.  When they had remained here
a short time Harald fell sick, and he betook himself to his bed.
He had his tent put up a little from the camp, for he found
quietness and rest out of the clamour and clang of armed men. 
His men went usually in companies to or from him to hear his
orders; and the castle people observing there was something new
among the Varings, sent out spies to discover what this might
mean.  When the spies came back to the castle they had to tell of
the illness of the commander of the Varings, and that no assault
on that account had been made on the castle.  A while after
Harald's strength began to fail, at which his men were very
melancholy and cast down; all which was news to the castle-men.
At last Harald's sickness increased so rapidly that his death was
expected through all the army.  Thereafter the Varings went to
the castle-men; told them, in a parley, of the death of their
commander; and begged of the priests to grant him burial in the
castle.  When the castle people heard this news, there were many
among them who ruled over cloisters or other great establishments
within the place, and who were very eager to get the corpse for
their church, knowing that upon that there would follow very rich
presents.  A great many priests, therefore, clothed themselves in
all their robes, and went out of the castle with cross and shrine
and relics and formed a beautiful procession.  The Varings also
made a great burial.  The coffin was borne high in the air, and
over it was a tent of costly linen and before it were carried
many banners.  Now when the corpse was brought within the castle
gate the Varings set down the coffin right across the entry,
fixed a bar to keep the gates open, and sounded to battle with
all their trumpets, and drew their swords.  The whole army of the
Varings, fully armed. rushed from the camp to the assault of the
castle with shout and cry; and the monks and other priests who
had gone to meet the corpse and had striven with each other who
should be the first to come out and take the offering at the
burial, were now striving much more who should first get away
from the Varings; for they killed before their feet every one who
was nearest, whether clerk or unconsecrated.  The Varings
rummaged so well this castle that they killed all the men,
pillaged everything and made an enormous booty.


Harald was many years in these campaigns, both in Serkland and
in Sicily.  Then he came back to Constantinople with his troops
and stayed there but a little time before he began his expedition
to Jerusalem.  There he left the pay he had received from the
Greek emperor and all the Varings who accompanied him did the
same.  It is said that on all these expeditions Harald had fought
eighteen regular battles.  So says Thiodolf: --

     "Harald the Stern ne'er allowed
     Peace to his foemen, false and proud;
     In eighteen battles, fought and won,
     The valour of the Norseman shone.
     The king, before his home return,
     Oft dyed the bald head of the erne
     With bloody specks, and o'er the waste
     The sharp-claw'd wolf his footsteps traced."


Harald went with his men to the land of Jerusalem and then up to
the city of Jerusalem, and wheresoever he came in the land all
the towns and strongholds were given up to him.  So says the
skald Stuf, who had heard the king himself relate these tidings:

     "He went, the warrior bold and brave,
     Jerusalem, the holy grave,
     And the interior of the land,
     To bring under the Greeks' command;
     And by the terror of his name
     Under his power the country came,
     Nor needed wasting fire and sword
     To yield obediance to his word."

Here it is told that this land came without fire and sword under
Harald's command.  He then went out to Jordan and bathed therein,
according to the custom of other pilgrims.  Harald gave great
gifts to our Lord's grave, to the Holy Cross, and other holy
relics in the land of Jerusalem.  He also cleared the whole road
all the way out to Jordan, by killing the robbers and other
disturbers of the peace.  So says the skald Stuf: --

     "The Agder king cleared far and wide
     Jordan's fair banks on either side;
     The robber-bands before him fled,
     And his great name was widely spread.
     The wicked people of the land
     Were punished here by his dread hand,
     And they hereafter will not miss
     Much worse from Jesus Christ than this."


Thereafter he went back to Constantinople.  When Harald returned
to Constantinople from Jerusalem he longed to return to the North
to his native land; and when he heard that Magnus Olafson, his
brother's son, had become king both of Norway and Denmark, he
gave up his command in the Greek service.  And when the empress
Zoe heard of this she became angry and raised an accusation
against Harald that he had misapplied the property of the Greek
emperor which he had received in the campaigns in which he was
commander of the army.  There was a young and beautiful girl
called Maria, a brother's daughter of the empress Zoe, and Harald
had paid his addresses to her; but the empress had given him a
refusal.  The Varings, who were then in pay in Constantinople,
have told here in the North that there went a report among
well-informed people that the empress Zoe herself wanted Harald
for her husband, and that she chiefly blamed Harald for his
determination to leave Constantinople, although another reason
was given out to the public.  Constantinus Monomachus was at
that time emperor of the Greeks and ruled along with Zoe.  On
this account the Greek emperor had Harald made prisoner and
carried to prison.


When Harald drew near to the prison King Olaf the Saint stood
before him and said he would assist him.  On that spot of the
street a chapel has since been built and consecrated to Saint
Olaf and which chapel has stood there ever since.  The prison was
so constructed that there was a high tower open above, but a door
below to go into it from the street.  Through it Harald was
thrust in, along with Haldor and Ulf.  Next night a lady of
distinction with two servants came, by the help of ladders, to
the top of the tower, let down a rope into the prison and hauled
them up.  Saint Olaf had formerly cured this lady of a sickness
and he had appeared to her in a vision and told her to deliver
his brother.  Harald went immediately to the Varings, who all
rose from their seats when he came in and received him with joy.
The men armed themselves forthwith and went to where the emperor
slept.  They took the emperor prisoner and put out both the eyes
of him.  So says Thorarin Skeggjason in his poem: --

     "Of glowing gold that decks the hand
     The king got plenty in this land;
     But it's great emperor in the strife
     Was made stone-blind for all his life."

So says Thiodolf, the skald, also: --

     "He who the hungry wolf's wild yell
     Quiets with prey, the stern, the fell,
     Midst the uproar of shriek and shout
     Stung tho Greek emperor's eyes both out:
     The Norse king's mark will not adorn,
     The Norse king's mark gives cause to mourn;
     His mark the Eastern king must bear,
     Groping his sightless way in fear."

In these two songs, and many others, it is told that Harald
himself blinded the Greek emperor; and they would surely have
named some duke, count, or other great man, if they had not known
this to be the true account; and King Harald himself and other
men who were with him spread the account.


The same night King Harald and his men went to the house where
Maria slept and carried her away by force.  Then they went down
to where the galleys of the Varings lay, took two of them and
rowed out into Sjavid sound.  When they came to the place where
the iron chain is drawn across the sound, Harald told his men to
stretch out at their oars in both galleys; but the men who were
not rowing to run all to the stern of the galley, each with his
luggage in his hand.  The galleys thus ran up and lay on the iron
chain.  As soon as they stood fast on it, and would advance no
farther, Harald ordered all the men to run forward into the bow.
Then the galley, in which Harald was, balanced forwards and swung
down over the chain; but the other, which remained fast athwart
the chain, split in two, by which many men were lost; but some
were taken up out of the sound.  Thus Harald escaped out of
Constantinople and sailed thence into the Black Sea; but before
he left the land he put the lady ashore and sent her back with a
good escort to Constantinople and bade her tell her relation, the
Empress Zoe, how little power she had over Harald, and how little
the empress could have hindered him from taking the lady.  Harald
then sailed northwards in the Ellipalta and then all round the
Eastern empire.  On this voyage Harald composed sixteen songs for
amusement and all ending with the same words.  This is one of
them: --

     "Past Sicily's wide plains we flew,
     A dauntless, never-wearied crew;
     Our viking steed rushed through the sea,
     As viking-like fast, fast sailed we.
     Never, I think, along this shore
     Did Norsemen ever sail before;
     Yet to the Russian queen, I fear,
     My gold-adorned, I am not dear."

With this he meant Ellisif, daughter of King Jarisleif in


When Harald came to Novgorod King Jarisleif received him in the
most friendly way and he remained there all winter (A.D. 1045).
Then he took into his own keeping all the gold and the many kinds
of precious things which he had sent there from Constantinople
and which together made up so vast a treasure that no man in the
Northern lands ever saw the like of it in one man's possession.
Harald had been three times in the poluta-svarf while he was in
Constantinople.  It is the custom, namely, there, that every time
one of the Greek emperors dies, the Varings are allowed
poluta-svarf; that is, they may go through all the emperor's
palaces where his treasures are and each may take and keep what
he can lay hold of while he is going through them.


This winter King Jarisleif gave Harald his daughter Elisabeth in
marriage.  She is called by the Northmen Ellisif.  This is
related by Stuf the Blind, thus: --

     "Agder's chief now got the queen
     Who long his secret love had been.
     Of gold, no doubt, a mighty store
     The princess to her husband bore."

In spring he began his journey from Novgorod and came to
Aldeigjuborg, where he took shipping and sailed from the East in
summer.  He turned first to Svithjod and came to Sigtuna.  So
says Valgard o' Val: --

     "The fairest cargo ship e'er bore,
     From Russia's distant eastern shore
     The gallant Harald homeward brings --
     Gold, and a fame that skald still sings.
     The ship through dashing foam he steers,
     Through the sea-rain to Svithjod veers,
     And at Sigtuna's grassy shores
     His gallant vessel safely moors."


Harald found there before him Svein Ulfson, who the autumn before
(A.D. 1045) had fled from King Magnus at Helganes; and when they
met they were very friendly on both sides.  The Swedish king,
Olaf the Swede, was brother of the mother of Ellisif, Harald's
wife; and Astrid, the mother of Svein, was King Olaf's sister.
Harald and Svein entered into friendship with each other and
confirmed it by oath.  All the Swedes were friendly to Svein,
because he belonged to the greatest family in the country; and
thus all the Swedes were Harald's friends and helpers also, for
many great men were connected with him by relationship.  So says

     "Cross the East sea the vessel flew, --
     Her oak-keel a white furrow drew
     From Russia's coast to Swedish land.
     Where Harald can great help command.
     The heavy vessel's leeward side
     Was hid beneath the rushing tide;
     While the broad sail and gold-tipped mast
     Swung to and fro in the hard blast."


Then Harald and Svein fitted out ships and gathered together a
great force; and when the troops were ready they sailed from the
East towards Denmark.  So says Valgard: --

     "Brave Yngve!  to the land decreed
     To thee by fate, with tempest speed
     The winds fly with thee o'er the sea --
     To thy own udal land with thee.
     As past the Scanlan plains they fly,
     The gay ships glances 'twixt sea and sky,
     And Scanian brides look out, and fear
     Some ill to those they hold most dear."

They landed first in Seeland with their men and herried and
burned in the land far and wide.  Then they went to Fyen, where
they also landed and wasted.  So says Valgard: --

     "Harald! thou hast the isle laid waste,
     The Seeland men away hast chased,
     And the wild wolf by daylight roams
     Through their deserted silent homes.
     Fiona too could not withstand
     The fury of thy wasting hand.
     Helms burst, shields broke, -- Fiona's bounds.
     Were filled with death's terrific sounds.

     "Red flashing in the southern sky,
     The clear flame sweeping broad and high,
     From fair Roeskilde's lofty towers,
     On lowly huts its fire-rain pours;
     And shows the housemates' silent train
     In terror scouring o'er the plain,
     Seeking the forest's deepest glen,
     To house with wolves, and 'scape from men.

     "Few were they of escape to tell,
     For, sorrow-worn, the people fell:
     The only captives form the fray
     Were lovely maidens led away.
     And in wild terror to the strand,
     Down to the ships, the linked band
     Of fair-haired girls is roughly driven,
     Their soft skins by the irons riven."


King Magnus Olafson sailed north to Norway in the autumn after
the battle at Helganes (A.D. 1045).  There he hears the news that
Harald Sigurdson, his relation, was come to Svithjod; and
moreover that Svein Ulfson and Harald had entered into a friendly
bond with each other and gathered together a great force,
intending first to subdue Denmark and then Norway.  King Magnus
then ordered a general levy over all Norway and he soon collected
a great army.  He hears then that Harald and Svein were come to
Denmark and were burning and laying waste the land and that the
country people were everywhere submitting to them.  It was also
told that King Harald was stronger and stouter than other men,
and so wise withal that nothing was impossible to him, and he had
always the victory when he fought a battle; and he was also so
rich in gold that no man could compare with him in wealth. 
Thiodolf speaks thus of it:

     "Norsemen, who stand the sword of foe
     Like forest-stems unmoved by blow!
     My hopes are fled, no peace is near, --
     People fly here and there in fear.
     On either side of Seeland's coast
     A fleet appears -- a white winged host;
     Magnus form Norway takes his course,
     Harald from Sweden leads his force.


Those of Harald's men who were in his counsel said that it would
be a great misfortune if relations like Harald and Magnus should
fight and throw a death-spear against each other; and therefore
many offered to attempt bringing about some agreement between
them, and the kings, by their persuasion, agreed to it. 
Thereupon some men were sent off in a light boat, in which they
sailed south in all haste to Denmark, and got some Danish men,
who were proven friends of King Magnus, to propose this matter to
Harald.  This affair was conducted very secretly.  Now when
Harald heard that his relation, King Magnus, would offer him a
league and partition, so that Harald should have half of Norway
with King Magnus, and that they should divide all their movable
property into two equal parts, he accepted the proposal, and the
people went back to King Magnus with this answer.


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

He answered, it was his banner Land-waster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Harald replies, "The one nearest me."

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

He also sang these verses: --

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

Einar remained several days in the town.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

Continue to Hardrade: Part II