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*^J:^-f-tyt^, /r . x/V^T-^^irtrzy^ , 



and his Ancestors. 


K.C.I.E., D.C.L.. F.R.S.. F.S.A.. 

Being two Papers read before the Viking Society, London, 
on May 4th and November 2nd, 1918. 

and his Ancestors. 


IPKOPOSE in the following pages to describe 
the reign of the greatest of the Norwegian 
kings, who probably shares with the famous 
Emperor Otho the First, the reputation of being 
the most heroic figure in the European history of 
the 10th Century — namely, Harald Halfdaneson, 
known from the profusion and beauty of his 
locks, as Fairhair, the founder of the kingdom 
of Norway. 

The exceptional features of Harald's career 
make it necessary, if we are to understand its 
real meaning, to try and grasp the earlier con- 
dition of Norway as it may be gathered from the 
scanty materials alone available. This I propose 
to do shortly, before turning to the Life of the 
Great King. Especially do I deem it convenient 
to do so because it is an almost untrodden field in 
English literature, and I intend, therefore, to 
condense some of the information on the subject 
which was admirably sifted by Munch, one of the 
few great historians the world has known, which I 
shall quote from Clausen's German translation 
of the first two volumes, and shall supplement it 
by the later researches of Vigfusson and Powell, 
G. Storm, A. Bugge and others. 

During recent years it has become more and more 
probable that the same Scandinavian stock which 
inhabits the great peninsula has been there from 
very early times and has probably been very little 
altered in its more general features. I do not propose 

2 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

at this stage to discuss at length the archaeology 
of the race — this would involve a long description 
— nor yet the religion, the laws, or the customs of 
the people, but only its political history and the 
distribution and movements of the communities 
into which it was divided in early mediaeval times. 
Munch and others have established the conclusion 
that the Norwegian race in early tinjes comprised 
three great communities, one of them occupying 
Norway east of the ^' keel " or backbone of the 
country, and two of them occupying the whole 
seaboard from Norland to the great inlet of Yiken 
and the Christianiafiord. These were known as 
the Thronds, in the north-west ; the Hords in the 
south-west, and the Kaums in the Uplands, i.e.^ 
the northern part of Norway, east of the Dovrefelds. 

Munch made it plain that the stock which 
peoples the whole maritime district of North- 
West Norway, including the widely ramified 
Throndheimfiord and extending from the province 
of North Mere in the South to that of Norland 
inclusive, is united by certain unmistakable 
common features, physical, artistic and linguistic, 
and notably also by the local nomenclature. In 
all these respects it differs generally from the 
people to the South, who are separated from them 
by Eaumdal. 

The race occupying the long maritime dis- 
trict just named were called Thronds (Throendr): 
What the etymology of the name was, does not 
seem very certain. Munch suggests that it means 
the prosperous (op. cit., 114, note 2). Thrond 
occurs as a personal name in several places in the 
the Heimskringla, and occurs also as a place-name, 
notably where it gives its name of Throndheim 
(i.e.^ the home of the Thronds) to the great inland 
fiord of Central Norway. 

" Ha aid Fair hair''' and his Ancestors. 3 

The name occars at a very early period, and is 
found in the form Throwende, in '' Widsith" or the 
Travellers' Tale, one Une of which reads : " I was 
in Throwende," while the indigenous Norwegian 
chronicle known as the Fundinn Noregr, makes 
them the earliest inhabitants of Norway. 

The province of Halogaland was originally the 
focus and heart of this community, and a headland 
called Trondenaes occurs on the north-east side 
of the Hinn-isle in Halogaland (see Magnusson, 
Heimskringla IV., 285). 

The name Halogaland was long ago explained 
by Adam of Bremen as meaning the Holy or 
Sacred Land." He says: ''''Hoc ignonuites paqani 
terram illam vacant sanctam et beatarii, quce tale 
miracidum prcestat viortalihus.'' This etymology 
has been adopted by Munch, whom it is generally 
safe to follow. He says : " Hdlugr is an archaic 
form of heilagr holy, whence haaloga land the 
holy land. In Anglo-Saxon it w^as called Halga- 
land, which is the same thing, and the modern 
pronunciation Helge land probably comes from an 
old form Helga land." (Munch op. cit., 1, 98, 
note 3). 

Adam of Bremen speaks of Halagland (as he 
calls it) as an island near Normannia not less in 
size than Iceland or Greenland, op. cit., 245. His 
mistake was corrected by a scholiast, who says of 
it that " it is the furthest part of Nordmannia and 
nearest to the Scridfingi " — i.e., to the Lapps. 

As Munch says, Heligoland, also called Fosete, 
situated in the bight of the Elbe, is the same name 
and has no other etymology than that of Holyland. 
In the case of the Norwegian Holyland, the name 
is best explained by its having been the oldest seat 
of the race who dwelt there (ib., 96). It further 
seems to me that he is right in attributing the 

4 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

reference in Eyvind Scaldaspieler's famous poem, 
the Haleyiatal, in which he applies the name 
'' Mandheim," meaning the first homeland of men, 
not to Suithiod or Sweden, as some have done, but 
to Halogaland, the country of the hero whose 
praises he was singing (op. cit., 96, Note 2). The 
name-Thorscliff, now Thorshaug, in the parish of 
Stadsbygden-in-Fosen to the north of Throndheim, 
no doubt recalls a famous shrine of Thor in this 
district, which may have given its name to 

The God Thor, or Thor, was well known 
to the Germanic peoples as well as the 
Scandinavians. The Anglo-Saxons knew him as 
Thunor, i.e., the Thunder God and he presided 
over heaven and the phenomena of the air and 
thus corresponded to Zeus or Jupiter. It is a daring 
and perhaps a foolish suggestion to hint that the 
names Thor and Thrond were connected, and that 
the Thronds w^ere the special cultivators of the 
worship of Thor, who was the great god of Western 
Scandinavia, as Odin seems to have been of the 
East, where he had probably largely superseded 
Thor. It is at least noticeable how frequently his 
name occurs among those of the early Icelandic 
settlers. Miss Philpotts, in her admirable account 
of Germanic heathenism, says that at least one out 
of every five emigrants to Iceland in heathen times 
bore a name of which Thor formed a part, and in 
Iceland we hear of settlers consecrating their land 
to Thor and naming it after him. (Cambridge 
Mediaeval History, Vol. II., 481). It is interesting 
to remember that our Thursday still commemorates 
the famous God, while the winter month of the 
Norsemen was called Thor's month. 

It will be convenient to here set out an account 
of one of the temples dedicated to Thor. The best 

^^ Harald Fairhair'" and his Ancestors. 5 

description of such a building is contained in the 
Eyrbyggja Saga, and the account is worth re- 
peating at length. We there read of an exile 
from Most, an island off South Hordaland, called 
Rolf. He had charge of the Temple of Thor 
in that island, and was a great friend of the 
God, whence he was styled Thorolf. He was 
outlawed by King Harald Fairhair, as we shall see. 
Thereupon he made a great sacrifice to Thor and 
asked of him whether he should make peace with the 
King or begone. The reply of the god was that he 
should go to Iceland. He therefore pulled down the 
temple and took with him most of its timbers and 
some mould from under the altar where Thor had 
sat (probably also the altar itself), and when he 
reached Iceland he threw over into the sea the 
pillars of his high seat which had been in the 
temple, and on one of which Thor was carved, and 
he declared over them that he would settle in 
Iceland wherever Thor should contrive that the 
pillars should land. They in fact landed in a 
firth he called Broadfirth, which they afterwards 
called Temple Wick. The promontory where 
Thorolf had landed was called Thor's Ness, and he 
afterwards went further to the river called Thor's 
river, and settled his people there, and there he 
set up for himself a great house at Temple Wick, 
which he called Temple Stead, and there he built 
a temple. It had a door in the side wall and 
near to one end of it. Inside the door stood the 
pillars of the high seat, and nails were driven into 
them which were called the God's nails, and within 
it was a great frith-place {i.e,^ the sanctuary, a 
kind of apse), and near by was another house of 
the fashion, says our author, of a choir in a church, 
and in the midst of it stood an altar on which 
lay a ring without a joint, that weighed twenty 
ounces on which all oaths were sworn, and which 

6 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

the chief must wear on his arm at all male ^' motes" 
or assemblies. On the altar also stood the blood 
bowl and therein the blood-rod like a sprinkler, 
with which the blood from the bowl, which was 
called " Hlaut," was sprinkled. It was blood 
which had flowed from beasts that had been 
sacrificed to the Gods, and round the altar stood 
the Gods arranged in the holy place. To that 
temple all men paid toll, and were bound to follow 
the temple priest in all journeys, as (says the author) 
do the Thingmen their leaders, but the Chief 
must uphold the temple at his own cost, so that it 
should not go to ruin, and hold sacrifices there. 

On the ness or headland was a fell, and Thorolf 
held it in such awe that no unwashed man was 
allowed to cast his eyes on it and neither man nor 
beast could be killed on it. Thorolf called it Holy 
Fell, and he arranged to be buried there when he 
died, together with all his kindred from the ness, 
and he ordered that all oaths were to be sworn on 
the tongue of the ness where Thor had landed, and 
there he set up a fylki-thing (Eyrbyggja Saga, 
chapters iii. and iv.). In the Kjalnesinga Saga we 
have some additional details. It says Thorgrim 
was a great settler. He had a large temple built 
in his home-field at Kjalness 100 feet long, and 
sixty feet wide, to which all his Thing men paid 
toll. From its end there projected a building- 
shaped like a cap {i.e.., an apse). It was arranged 
with hangings, and had windows all round. Thor 
stood in the middle, and on either hand the other 
gods. In the front was an altar, highly wrought 
and covered on the top with iron, on which burnt 
a fire which must never go out, and which they 
called a hallowed fire. 

In the notice last mentioned the writer goes on to 
tell us that the ring placed on the altar was made 

'''' Harald Fairhair" and his Ancestors. 7 

of silver, and on it all oaths relating to ordeal cases 
had to be taken. The blood-bowl was a large one 
and made of copper, and the blood was sprinkled on 
arms and heads. The money of the temple was to 
be spent in entertaining visitors at sacrifices. 

Magnusson reports the discovery in recent years 
of the remains of a private blood-house. These 
showed that at one end of it was a semi-circular 
chamber separated from the main building by a 
party wall. 

In sacrificing men, they were to be hurled into 
the fire which was by the door and was called the 
pit of sacrifice. From Hauk's edition of the 
Landnama, we learn that before using the ring 
or swearing upon, it was reddened with the 
blood of a sacrificed heifer. The temple guardians 
were chosen at the Thing according to their 
wisdom and goodness, and had the further duty of 
ruling the pleadings of cases and naming the 
judges. They were called " Godher " (op. cit. xxxi — 

Returning to Halogaland; an early notice of 
the district is that contained in King Alfred's 
version of Orosius, where he quotes the narrative 
of a visitor who went to see him from Norway who 
was named Othere, and who claimed to be a native 
of Halogaland. He told the King (who, by the 
way, he styles Hlaford or Lord) that his home lay 
further north than that of any other Northman. 
Rask ingeniously suggested that he filled an 
official post in the far north of Norway and 
collected the taxes there. It is difficult to explain 
how Othere came to pay a visit to England from 
so remote a place, and it has been suggested that 
he was in fact one of Harald's victims and that he 
actually settled in England and may even have 
been a jarl Othere or Othir, who is named as 

8, Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

taking part in a fight there in the year 911, (See 
Dahlmann Forschungen, i., Note 410). But this 
is very doubtful, and there is another candidate 
for the distinction. The name Othere was not 
uncommon in Norway. Othere's notice of the far 
north is one of the most interesting relics of 
9th Century literature which we possess, but 
cannot be pursued here. 

In the romantic legend about the origin of 
the Norwegian rulers contained in the Fundinn 
Noregr and also as an introduction to the Orkney 
Saga and which is founded largely on geographical 
assonances and names, the district inhabited by 
the Thronds is treated as the earliest home of the 
Norsemen. We read of the two brothers Norr 
and Gorr who divided the country between them, 
Norr taking the inland parts and Gorr the islands 
and outscars. The latter was to have all the islands 
between which and the mainland he could pass in 
a ship with a fixed rudder. His sons were Heiti 
and Beiti, who were also sea kings and fought 
against Norr's sons, in which first one side won 
and then the other. Thus we are told that Beiti 
ran into Throndheim and lay in the place called 
Beitsfiord and Beitstede, thence he made them drag 
his ship from the innermost bight of Beitstede 
and so north over the isthmus. That is to where 
the NaUmdale comes down from the east. He 
himself sat on the poop and held the tiller in 
his hand, and claimed for his own all that lay 
on the larboard side, including much cultivated 
land. Munch, in discussing this Saga, rationahses 
it by claiming it as a proof that the peninsula 
bounded by the Naumdal Eid or transit, was 
peopled by the same section of the Thronds as 
the seaboard, and not by an invasion from 
Throndheim fiord itself. Among the names com- 
pounded with Beit above named, he mentions in 

" 1 1 (I raid hairhair" atid his Aiuestors. 9 

this district Beitstadt and Beitstadt fiord, Beitsjor, 
also called Beit's Sjor — i.e.^ Beit's landing-place, 
and the lake of Beit. (Op. cit. i., 99 and Note). 

There is a good deal of evidence to show, as we 
shall see, that the Thronds were once ruled by a 
special dynasty of kings who probably controlled 
the whole race. One of this Koyal stock, on the 
extinction of the race of Harald, became the 
King of the whole of Norway — namely, Hakon 
the 2nd. His deeds and those of his ancestors 
were recorded in a famous poem (an imitation of 
Thiodulf's Ynglingatal), and written by Hakon's 
Court poet, Eyvind Skaldaspieler, who lived in 
the end of the 10th Century. The poem is 
referred to in the preface to the Ynglinga Saga, 
and there it is expressly said that Eyvind derived 
his hero from Saemingr, the son of Yngwi Frey. 
These rulers were referred to in the list as 
Kings and iarls of Halogaland, which originally, 
doubtless, comprised the whole country of the 

Eyvind'G poem has most unfortunately only 
been preserved in fragments, which barely include 
one-fifth of the whole. Four of them are 
preserved in the King's lives ; a fifth in the 
MS. known as Fagrskinna, and the rest in the 
Edda and Skalda. These fragments are given by 
Vigfusson and York-Powell (See Corpus Poet. 
Bor., i., 251 — 253), and in a restored text (lb. ii., 

Fortunately, portions of the poem have 
survived as prose paraphrases and quotations 
elsewhere. Among them we have preserved a 
list of Hakon's professed ancestors derived through 
many generations from Saemingr, the son of Odin 
and the giantess Skadhi, whose reputed descend- 
ants were known as Saemings, and formed the 

lo Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

third great Koyal stock of the North, the others 
being the YngUngs and the Scioldings. 

In the following list it will be seen that the 
earlier rulers of Halogaland are called kings, and 
the later ones iarls : — 



Odin, who married the 


Hersir (? Hersi). 

giantess Skadhi. 

















• 19. 





Haraldr Trygill. 






Hav^arr Handrami. 








Heimgestr Huldar- 





Hakon Urna-iarl. 




Sigurd Hlada-iarl. 




Hakon Hlada-iarl 


Mundill Gamli. 

Note.— W^e Vigfusson and Powell, C.P.B. ii., 522 and 3, 
taken from Eyvind's poem and The Flatey Book. It will 
be noticed that one of these iarls is called Throndr. 
1 think Vigfusson is unreasonably sceptical about at 
least the later of these names. The order of the 
names 11 and 12 is reversed in the Ynglingatal 
(see below). 

The first of those in the above list who is 
mentioned in the Ynglinga Saga was a king called 
Gudlaug who belonged to the heroic age. He is 
the first ruler of any part of Norway to be named 
in the Heimskringla. We there read that Jorund 
and Eric were the sons of Yngwi, son of Alric, 
King of Sweden. They were great warriors, and 
one summer were harrying Denmark, when Gudlaug 
(^.6. Godlaugr), " King of Haloga," happened to be 
there. With him they had a battle, and his ship 
was " cleared," i.e., its crew were destroyed, and he 
was captured. They brought him to land at 

*' Harald Fairhair'' and his Avcestors. ii 

Straumeyjarnes and there hanged him, and there his 
folk heaped up a mound over him. Two verses 
of Eyvind are quoted in the YngHnga Saga for 
this account. In them we are further told that 
the " ness," or headland, was known far and wide 
from being marked by a stone on the king's 
mound. (Ynglinga Saga, ch. 26. For the poem 
see Vigfusson and Pow^ell, Corp. Poet. Bor., i., 
p. 252). The locality of Straumeyjarnes is not now 
known. The two Swedish brothers got great fame 
from this deed. 

Presently, we are told, Jorund became King 
at Upsala, and he often went a-warring, and 
one summer went to Denmark and harried in 
Jutland, and went up the Lim-liord where he 
plundered, and then landed his ships in Odd- 
sound, when there came thither Gylaug, King 
of Halogaland, the son of the above named 
Gudlaug, and a battle took place between the two 
kings. The people of the country having heard of 
it came together from all sides, both great and 
small, and King Jorund's men were overwhelmed 
by the nmltitude and his ships were " cleared." He 
himself leapt overboard and began to swim, but 
they laid hands on him and brought him to land, 
and King Gylaug reared a gallow^s, and led Jorund 
thither and hanged him on it. This was reported 
by Thiodolf in the Ynglingatal (Op. cit., ch. 28), 
and probably was derived by Eyvind from that 
poem. I do not understand Vigfusson's note on 
this verse. (See op. cit., i., 523). 

■The next time we read of Halogaland w^as 
when Adils was reigning in Sweden. We are told 
that he was fond of horses, and sent a present of 
one called "Kaven" to Godguest, the King of 
Halogaland. King Godguest mounted it, and the 
horse threw him and he was killed (Ynglinga Saga, 

1 2 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

op. cit. 33). This was at Omd in Halogaland. 
Omd was the eastern part of the island of Hin, 
now called Hindo in Halogaland. (See the fourth 
volume of Magnusson's Heimskringla, page 270), 
Up to this point Halogaland is the only part 
of Norway, and its kings are the only rulers of that 
land named in the Heimskringla, and it all points 
to its having then been the focus and centre of 
Norwegian life (at least on its west coast) in 
very early time. Nothing in fact is reported of 
the eastern and southern parts of Norway until the 
Ynglings invaded it after the death of King 
Ingiald of Sweden. 

Turning to later times, we have a curious 
legend professing to show why the kings of Halo- 
galand became iarls. In the poem of Eyvind, as 
we learn from the fragment on early Norwegian 
history known as Agrip, where it is quoted as the 
authority, it is said that Hersi (the fourtenth in 
the above list) was king in Naumdale (a fylki 
or shire of the Thrond-land). His wife's name 
was Wigtha, after whom the river Wigtha in 
Neamdal {sic) was said to have been named. Hersi 
having lost her, wished to make away with 
himself in order to join her, and asked if any 
precedent could be found for a King having 
committed suicide. On search being made a 
precedent was found for a iarl having done so, 
but not for a king. Hersi then went to a 
certain house on a hill and rolled himself 
down, saying that he had rolled himself out 
of the king's title. He then hanged himself in a 
iarl's title, and his offspring would never after- 
wards take upon them the title of king (C.P.B., 
528). This story is an interesting folk-tale. 
It is clearly an invention to cover some less 
romantic cause which it was necessary to disguise. 
I. have not seen this suggested, but it seems 

" Harald Fait hair" and his Ancestois. 13 

highly probahle. Kings in old days did not 
generally exchange their position for that of iarls 
except under compulsion. Let us, therefore, turn 
aside to another more probable folk tale. 

It would seem that at an early time Haloga- 
land was divided into a number of shires or 
" fylkis," each of them wdth its petty ruler, but all 
subordinate to one supreme chief, who had his seat 
in the fylki called Naumdal, and the first of the 
iarls of Halogaland in the Ust above quoted is 
called King of Naumdal in a tale to w4iich w^e 
will now turn. 

Harald Fairhair was not the first Conqueror 
who subdued this part of Norway. We are told in 
the saga of King Hakon that Ey stein was called the 
ruthless (hardhradi), the njighty (inn riki), the evil 
(inn illi), and the evil-minded (illradhi). The focus 
of his wdde realm was Heathmark where he 
lived, and whence he ruled the Uplands in Eastern 
Norway (Ynglinga, ch. 49-54). He invaded and 
conquered the " Isles fylki " and the " Sparebiders 
fylki " in the district of Throndheiu), over which he 
set his son Osmund, whom the Thronds presently 
slew. He thereupon made a second invasion of 
Throndheim, which ho harried far and wide and 
completely subdued its people. This we are ex- 
pressly told in the Saga of Hakon the Good, 
ch. xiii., and it probably occurred in the time of 
Harald Fairhair's father or grandfather. 

Ari tells us that in order to punish the murder 
of his son, Eystein imposed a ujost ignominious 
punishment on the people of Throndheim. He 
bade them choose whether they would be governed 
by his thrall who w^as called Thorir Faxi or his 
hound who was called Saur. They thought they 
would have more of their ow^n way under the latter, 
on whom therefore their choice fell. They then 

14 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

had the dog bewitched, so that he had the wisdom 
of three men, and he barked two words and spoke 
the third. A collar was wrought for him and chains 
of gold and silver, and when the roads were bad 
his courtmen carried him on their shoulders. A 
high seat was decked out for him, and he sat on a 
horse as kings were wont to do. He dwelt at the 
Inner Isle, i.e. the Eyna fyiki, and had his abode 
at the stead called Saur's home, and it was said 
he came to his death in this wise — the wolves 
fell on his flocks and herds, and his courtmen 
egged him on to defend his sheep ; so he leapt 
from his horse and went to meet the wolves, 
but they tore him asunder. This folk-tale may 
contain some elements of truth, for it was quite 
after the taste of these grim Norsemen to humiliate 
their enemies by a punishment of this kind. 

Eystein, we are told, did many other marvellous 
deeds among the Throndheimers, and to escape 
from his ravage and cruelty many Lords and other 
people fled the country abandoning, their old odal 
lands, i.e. lands that paid no tax (op. cit.). 

Among them was Ketil Jamti, the son of 
Onund, iarl of Sparbyggja-fylki now Sparburn 
and he crossed over the keel or Great Mountains 
and went eastwards with a great company of men 
who took their families with them. They cleared 
the woods and peopled the great countrysides 
there, and the country was thence known as 
Jamtaland (ib. ch. xiv.). 

Ketil's grandson was Thorir Helsing, who was 
outlawed from Jamtaland for murders he had 
committed there, and migrated thence through the 
woods to the East, where many people joined him, 
and the district was afterwards called Helsingland 
after him. The Norwegians, however, only settled 
the western part of Helsingland, while the 

*' Harald Fair hair ^' and his Ancestors. 15 

coastlands of the province were settled by the 
Swedes. All this seems to me quite rational and 
probable. The migration eastwards continued in 
later days, thus we read how, in the reign of Harald 
Fairhair, Wethorm, the son of Wemund the Old, 
a mighty hersir, fied from King Harald into 
Jamtaland and cleared the wild forests or marks 
there (Landnamadel v., 15, 1). 

What is plain from all this story is that the 
Thronds were at that time conquered by Eystein 
the Great, the King of the Uplands, who had other 
sons beside Osmund, and we nowhere hear that 
his victims recovered their independence again. 
I would urge as a most reasonable solution of the 
difficulty that Eystein, in fact, divided the country 
among his own relatives, and that the various 
Kinglets who were found in Throndheim, Naumdal 
and North Mere when Harald arrived were his 
descendants, in one case only, namely, in that 
of the specially sacred Land of the Thronds, to 
which the name Halogaland was now limited, was 
an exception apparently made. There, as we have 
seen, the old dynasty which claimed descent from 
Odin continued to reign, not as Kings but as iarls 
— that is, they paid tribute to the conquerors. 
The critical distinction between a King and an 
iarl was the payment of skat or tribute, and a 
ruler, however small his kingdom, if he paid no 
skat was styled a king. This seems to be a rational 
explanation of the change of the rulers of Haloga- 
land from the status of Kings to that of iarls. 

As I have said, Halogaland (the land of the 
Thronds) was doubtless divided from early times 
into several " fylkies " or provinces, answering to 
the Northfolk and Southfolk in England, who were 
all governed by the same code of laws but had their 
own independent administration. Four of them 

1 6 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

were situated on the coast, namely, Ramnafylki, 
Nord Mere, Naumdal, and the most northern, i.e, 
Halogaland. Halogaland was separated by an inlet 
named Nid from N. Mere in the South, and had no 
definite boundary in the North, where it bordered on 
the great stretch of land reaching to the North Cape, 
which was peopled by a thin sprinkling of Lapps. 
The Norse inhabitants were chiefly gathered in the 
southern parts, where the temple of Thor was 
planted on Thor's Ness. In later times it furnished 
a few emigrants to Iceland, and produced some 
famous writers, notably the poet of the oldest 
Eddaic poem, the Yolundarkuidha, and there at 
Tiolto was the home of the last great skald of 
the Viking period, Eyvind Skaldaspieler, see 
A.Bugge (Op. cit., 210.) Each of the other fylkies 
had its sacred fane, called Hof or Thorshof, 
where the great gods were worshipped and which 
formed the focus and central point of the shire. 
Each of the smaller divisions, also had its Thor's 
temple, and its ^' Thing," or Assembly. On the 
west side of the Great Mountain, in fact, Thor was 
everywhere, and his larger temples were the finest 
buildings in the land. 

The whole district of Throndheim, called 
Dronthemen's by Adam of Bremen, was divided 
into a series of cantons, some large and some small 
forming eight "inland fylkies," as they are called ; 
they numbered 3 to 10 in the list quoted below, 
each with its petty ruler and all bound together 
by a common dialect and laws. The names of 
these were: — The Orkdale fylki, so called from the 
river Orke ; this is the westernmost of the fylkies 
and on the south of the Firth; Gauldoela fylki, 
from the river Gaul; Strinda fylki and Stioradoela 
fylki, from the river Stiora ; these were grouped 
about the entrance of the fiord ; further inland 
there lived the so-called Inlanders, namely, 

^' Harald Fair hair " and his Ancestors. 17 

Verdaela fylki, so called from the river Vera; 
Skeyna fylki, Sparbyggia fylki, and Kyna fylki. 

I will now abstract from Munch : " Nordnwen 
denes aeldste Gudeog Helte Sagn, 178," a list of 
the fylkies into which the land of the Thronds 
(which was subject to the Frosta Thing) was 
divided, with the situation of their principal 
temples, where known : — 

. 1. Haleygja fylki Throndarnes 

2. Naumdael fylki Jod 

3. Sparbyggia fylki Maerindelni 

4. Eyna fylki Hiissladir (Saurshaugz) 

5. Verdaela fylki Haugr 

6. Skeyna fylki ? 

7- Stiordoela fylki Stjoiadal 

8. Strinda fylki Hladir 

9. Gauldoela fylki Medalhiis 

10. Orkdoela fylki Niardvik 

11. Nordrmoera fylki Yrjum 

12. Raumsdoela fylki Veey. 

The larger part of these fylkies, as is obvious, 
took their name from the principal valleys which 
traversed them. The two first and the two last 
faced the sea, and were largely backed by moun- 
tains and forests which made access to them from 
the land side almost impossible at this point. 
North Mere was separated from Halogaland by a 
narrow Sound called the Nid, which gives access 
to the great inland Throndheim fiord that consists 
of a congeries of converging valleys and water- 
ways. Naumdale lay north of the great Firth, 
and was nearer to Iceland than any part of 
Norway, and naturally supplied a greater number 
of the emigrants, who came from Norway to that 
island, than any other district. The Thrond extended 
southward to North-Mere fylki which had its 
counterpart in South Mere, but was, however, 
occupied by another race, the Hords. The two 
Meres apparently originally represented waste 

1 8 Siigd'Book of the Viking Society. 

districts separating the territories of the Thronds 
and Hords. They are now separated by a fylki 
called Kaumdal, which is the frontier of the 
Thronds in the South. Smaa-land, a similar district 
in Sweden, was called Mere by Othere. 

Behind these four districts lay, as I have said, 
the sprawling Throndheim fiord, throwing out its 
arms in different directions, like a huge starfish, and 
reminding us of the Lake of the Four Cantons 
in Switzerland. It was naturally landlocked, and 
its inhabitants were not fishermen and navigators, 
but cultivated their rich lands and migrated 
eastward, and not westward, when conditions 
demanded it, and in this way largely peopled the 
Osterdals and the northern frontier of Sweden. 

Having described the Thronds let us now turn 
to their neighbours, the Hords. They gave their 
name to Hordaland, now known as Sondre Bergen- 
husamt, which was the kernel of their land. Munch, 
in his analysis of the population of South West 
Norway, shows that from Hordaland itself, north- 
wards as far as the Northern frontier of South 
Mere, the land was peopled by Hords. This is 
shown by the common dialect prevailing there, and 
especially by the fact that it was all subject to the 
same code of Laws and was obedient to the same 
great Thing or National Assembly. 

This code was known as the Gulathingslag, 
a.nd took its name from Gula in North Horda- 
land, and no doubt embodied the old Common 
Law Qf the Hords. It was also obeyed in later 
times beyond the borders of the Hords themselves 
by at least two communities, which once no 
doubt, had local codes of their own, namely, the 
Eugians in Rogaland and the district of Agder, 
both of them famous. To thein we will return 
presently. The Hords, properly so called, occupied 

" Ha f aid Fat f hair*' and his Ancestors. 19 

the fylkies of North and South Hordaland, Har- 
danger, Sogn, Hallingsyadal, Waldres, South 
Fiord, North Fiord, and the western part of Gud- 
brandsdal called Lorn or Loar (Munch H. N. F. 
i. 110). 

South of this land of the Hords was Rogaland, 
^.e., the land of theliygiar orRugians. The two, how- 
ever, were very close akin. The Rugians held the 
coast and also the islands as far as the eastern district 
called the Vik: the frontier between the two ran 
between the hamlets of Nedenaes and Bratsberg 
called Rygiarbit in old days. Originally Rogaland 
also included the western part of Thelemarken with 
the so-called Robygger whence Robygdelag got its 
name. The latter points to the Rugians having once 
had a code of their own, and dominated Agder. 
Munch suggests that Robygger is short for Rogbyg- 
ger. (Munch, op. cit., 107). 

In regard to Agder, it was once a se[)arate 
kingdom and the seat of more than one legend. 
It seems plain that earlier however it formed a part 
of the land of the Rugians. The name, according to 
Munch, originally merely meant a strip of coast, 
and was given to the maritime border between the 
Ryfylki and the Vik, part of which, was known as 
Ryuiarbit. At all events, it is plain that during the 
Middle ages the whole of Rogaland and Agder 
were subject to the Gulalag. 

Both the Hords and Rugians were known in 
very early times. The Hords have been very 
reasonably associated with the Kharudes, who 
formed a section of the army that invaded Gaul 
under Ariovistus, in Csesar's times, and who are also 
mentioned in the Morumentum Ancyranum, dating 
from the reign of Augustus, and by Ptolemy. 
They were probably in part at least living in 

20 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Jutland, and doubtless gave its name to Harde- 
Syssel in that peninsula. 

The Eugians (the Eygir of the Northern 
writers) also had colonies south of the Baltic. 
The island of Eugen was no doubt connected with 
them. They are, in fact, mentioned as Ulmerugii 
or Island-Eugii by Jordanes and in the legends of 
Scandinavia as Holm-rygir. Eugii are also described 
as living near the Vistula, and are met with in the 
legends of the Goths and Lombards, and took a part 
in the great Teutonic invasion of the 4th and 5th 

The two tribes, as I have said, were closely 
united in the most ancient Sagas and in the 
early romantic history of Norway called the 
Fundinn Noregr, we are told that Gard Agde, the 
son of Nor the Just, ruled over Agder, Eogaland 
Horda land, Sogn, the Fiords and South Mere. 
According to the same document, Gard Agde's sons 
were Hord, King of the Hords, Eugalf of the 
Eugians, Thrum of Egden, Wegard of Sogn fiord, 
Freygard of the Firths, Thorgard of South Mere 
and Griotgard of Nord Mere. (Munch, op. cit., 
110, and note 3). 

It is a curious fact, that has not been so far 
as I know noticed, that Odoaker, who deposed 
the last Eoman Emperor Eomulus Augustulus 
and occupied his place, probably came from this 
district of Norway. He ruled over a confederacy 
of four tribes — namely, the Eugii, the Turcilingi, 
the Sciri and the HeruH. In one place Jordanes 
calls him '' genere RugusP While in another he 
calls him '' Turcilingorum rex.'" 

It would seem that the Turcilingi were, in fact, 
a tribe of the Eugii. What is interesting to us is 
that their name is clearly compounded of the 

** Harald Fairhair'^ and his Ancestors. 21 

Scandinavian name Thurkil. The Sciri it has long 
ago been suo:geste(l gave its name to Sciringshal, the 
famous early trading mart, situated in the king- 
dom of Westfold, (|uite near Rogaland. A colony 
of tliem seems to have settled at the mouth of 
the Vistula, where Pliny puts them. The name 
also reminds us of " the Scoringa " of Paul the 
Deacon. In regard to the Heruli, the most 
puzzling of all the tribes who invaded the Roman 
Empire, who filled such a notable place in the 
history of the 4th and 5th Century, and who 
apparently formed the great bulk of the army of 
Odoakar, I believe they were no other than Hords 
or Haeretha-men with a somewhat altered name. 
At least I know of no other tribe but the Heruli 
to which Jordanes' language can apply. He 
says of them : " Qm inter omnes Scandiae nationes 
nomeu sibi ob nimium proceritatem ajf'ectant prae- 
cipuuniy (Jordanes Hist. Goth., ch. 3). Pro- 
cupius has much to say of them as a seafaring 
race, and tells us how a branch of them, after 
their great migration, returned again to their old 
home in Scandinavia, and that they '' settled near 
the Goths, the most numerous of the peoples of 
Thule." They probably were the tribe otherwise 
called Hirri. 

Jordanes speaks of a King Kodulv, who visited 
Theodoric in Italy. A. Bugge would identify 
him with the King of the Heruli of the same name 
mentioned by Procopius, and with the Koadulv 
mentioned in the famous R()ksetenn in East 
Gothland, who reigned over a number of tribes 
in South- Western Norway. Aruth was the name of 
another Chief of the Heruli. Bugge identifies it with 
the name Hord (See A. Bugge Die Wikinger, I. 16 
and 17). The names in the list are corrupted 
almost beyond recognition, but something can be 

22 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

made of them. There are the Tilae or people of 
Thelemark,and the Granii,no doubt the people who 
gave its name to the fylki of Grenlaiid near 
Kogaland. In Agandziae, Zeuss and MuUenhof 
suggest, we have the same stock as the people of 
Agder, the former adding the phrase : " Vielleicht 
nur in Gothischen Munde umgehildet mit participial 
endungT The Ethelrugi Zeuss would make the 
Rugians of the west part of Thelemark. The 
Arochiranni, Munch divides into Arochirani, 
and makes the latter a corruption of Hords and 
of Kaumi, and Sygni, i.e., the people of Sogn. 
(Zeuss Die Deutsche und der Nachbar-stamme, 
507; Munch 1.124). 

There still remains another famous stock, the 
Burgundians, who very probably came from this 
district. It is usual to derive them from the small 
Baltic island of Bornholm, where a colony of them 
doubtless existed, but like Eugen it was probably 
only a colony, and it is noteworthy that the chief 
centre in the fylki of South Mere was called 

A. Bugge condenses a graphite picture of the 
south-west districts of Norway occupied by the 
Hords and Rugians in early times, and especi- 
ally Yaederen and the Hardanger fiord, the lowland 
in the south of Norway, enclosed by the sea on 
the one side and the fjeld on the other hand, which 
already in the bronze age, the early iron age and 
even earlier, was one of the most populous districts 
of Norway. 

Its excellent soil made it the most fertile 
part of Norway, enabling it to support a large 
population. From Yaederen was the shortest 
passage to Jutland, and both districts seem at 
one time to have been closely united together. 
Thence also the passage was the shortest to 

" Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 23 

England. At the time of the great race migrations 
as is shown by its archa3ological remains, it was 
closely tied to the lands beyond the North Sea. 

In the Viking time Hordaland and Rogaland 
were among the great foci of piracy in Norway, 
and were the homes of some of the greatest of 
the pirate chiefs — of Geirmund and his brother 
Hainund Heljarskinn and of Anund Trefot. who 
were descended from the ohi kings of Horda- 
land (A. Biigge, op. cit. I. 205). 

In early times again, Yaederen was the 
special home of design in handicrafts and of 
carved Runic stones in Norway. They were 
doubtless learnt in the West, where the arts were 
much more developed. Certain stones found in the 
district, and notably the famous Kleppe stone, 
are markedly like those from the Isle of Man and 
the Hebrides. It was from the West that the 
shorter Runic stave which prevailed in Yaederen 
at one time and also other artistic ideas must have 
come, and were thence imported into East Gothland 
and the island of Gotland. It was in this district 
also that memorial stones began to be erected 
which were clearly inspired by those in the West, 
in the Hebrides and the Isle of Man. (A. Bugge, 
Die Wikinger, 208 and 209). 

After the Viking time, Yaederen sank again 
into obscurity. Professor Sars is of opinion that 
Harald Fairhair, when he conquered Western 
Norway, laid a particularly heavy hand on this 
district so that it never recovered again during the 
Middle Ages. It occurs sometimes in the sagas 
of the time of Olaf Trygvesson and Olaf Haraldson, 
but no such heroes as Erling Skjalgsson of 8ole, 
are then heard of It must be remembered, 
however, that after Norway became united into a 

24 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

kingdom, there was not the same scope for 
buccaneering on a great scale that there was in 
the earlier time. 

Half, or Halv, was King of Hordaland at the 
beginning of the Viking time, and was the hero of 
a poem which now only survives in the Half's 
Saga. In later times, this poem partly inspired 
Frithiofs Saga and alsa Esaias Tegner in his famous 
story. Other poems also existed about other kings 
in Hordaland and Rogaland. Thus there has been 
preserved a strophe from one about the brothers 
Geirmund and Hamund Heljarskiri above men- 
tioned, who were so alike that their own mother 
could not distinguish them. 

At the beginning of the Viking period its 
chiefs were apparently already intermarrying with 
Anglo-Saxon wives. A. Bugge identifies the 
Ljufvina of the Saga, who married Hjorz 
Halvsson, with the Anglo-Saxon name Leofwynn 
or Lewina, the female complement of the well- 
known Anglo-Saxon man's name Leofwine. He 
suggests that he lived at the beginning of the 
9th Century, and was the father of Geirmund and 
his brother above named. In the Saga she 
is called the daughter of the King of Biarma, 
but this is clearly a mistake, for at this time the 
Norsemen had not found their way to the 
White Sea, and her name clearly shows she 
was an Anglo-Saxon. As we shall see, at 
the great battle of Hafursfiord, there were pre- 
sent Western warriors. Among them, perhaps, 
as Gustav Storm has suggested, was Olaf the White 
from Dublin. The poet Hornkloti, apostrophises 
the " Western swords." Among these were, no 
doubt, the swords inlaid with the names of English 
makers on which my friend Lorange wrote such 
an excellent monograph. The spears and white 

•' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 25 

shields (probably made of the linden or lime tree), 
of those who came to the great fight, were also 
doubtless importations. 

A. Bugge also attributes one of the Eddaic poems 
to an author from Hordaland — namely, the splendid 
Hyndlaliod. Its author, Ottar, sprang from the old 
Kings of Hordaland, and was of the same stock 
as (jreirmund Heljarskinn and on the mother's 
side was related to Hordakari, whose family is 
described by Snorri as the most famous one in 
Hordaland. To it Erling Skjalgsson belonged. 
Ottar became a Viking and resided in the West, 
and Bugge would identify him with Ottar the 
iarl, or Ottar the black, who is mentioned as 
raiding in England in 910—9-20 (Op. cit., 207). 

So famous werei the Hords, that Hordaland is 
the name by which Norway is fii-st referred to in 
our own vernacular literature, and from it the fii'st 
piratical attack of the Vikings was made on our 
English coasts The name occui-s in the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle as Haeretha land (see A.S.d 
MSS., D. & E. sub. ann., 787). By the Irish 
writers the name is given in the form Hirotha or 
Irruaith. (See Todd, Chronicle of the Gaedhill 
and Gael. xxxv. I., note). 

Another and more usual name for Norway in 
the Irish writers was Locldannoch or the land 
of the fiords or firths, a specially ai)propriate 
nanie for this coast of Norway, where two of 
the fy Ikies were known as North Fiord and 
South' Fiord. 

It is a pity that we have so litth^ recorded 
about the local history of this district before the 
time of Harald Fairhair, for it is quite plain that 
the Norwegian raids upon the British Isles for 
a period of nearly eighty years after the one just 

26 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

mentioned (the real date of which, as I long ago 
showed, was 793) down to the battle of Hafurs- 
fiord, were conducted in great part, if not 
altogether, by the men of Hordaland. These 
raids, as well as the story of the earlier settle- 
ments of the Norwegians in the West, are how- 
ever, much too large a subject to be treated in this 
prologue, and need a special memoir to illustrate 

When Harald comes on the scene we find 
him marrying the proud daughter of the King 
of Hordaland, who refused to wed him till he 
was master of all Norway. This shows the 
pretensions of the race at that time and also 
its wealth and prosperity. 

The country occupied by the Hords was 
divided like that of the Thronds into a 
number of fylkies, each with its great 
Thor temple, its local Thing and its large 
Hall, the dwelling of its local ruler. These 
fylkies are thus enumerated by Munch, who gives 
the corresponding '• county towns " where the 
institutions in question were planted. They were 
as follows : — 

Name of 

Site of Hof or 


Thor's Temple. 



,{i.e.^ Souih Mere) . 



(i.e.^ the Firths) 

.. Gaulum 


(ie., Sogn) ... 

.. Vik 


Gula and Mostri 




H ,, 


.. Ali 




CAgder) ... ., 


These different fylkis had a common centre at 
Gula in Hordaland, from which their code of laws 

'' Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors y-j 

was named. Each, however, had its separate ruler. 
Although styled kings, they no doubt accepted the 
hegemony of the ruler of the dominant fylki of 
Hordaland, the king of which at the accession of 
Harald Fairhair was the hitter's father-in-law, Eric. 
Having dealt with the Thronds and the Hords, 
we will now turn to the third main division of the 
Norse people — namely, the Haunis. The great 
area east of the Dovrefjelds and west of Sweden, 
and bounded on the north by huge forests and 
wastes, was in early times, so far as can be seen, 
peopled only by a very scanty population of Finns, 
divided into two sections witli very dift'erent 
histories. A northern section occupying a hilly 
and not too fertile land, and a southern one com- 
prising the fertile lands round the Clnistiania 
fiord and eastward as far as West Gothland. 
The former was known as Alfheim, and was so- 
called from the two great rivers, with their 
affluents, which watered it — namely, the (ilommen 
or Kauma. and the Klar-elf or Gotha. 

Munch identifies the Alfheimers with the 
Hilleviones of Pliny, the Helvikones of Tacitus, 
and the Heliouen of Ptolemey. Pliny sa vs of them 
that they came from another world, which Munch 
explains as meaning that they were immigrants 
into the country where they were then living. 
He further argues that they came from the North 
and occupied a district once occupied by another 
people. With this he compares the legendary 
story preserved in the so-called Fundinn Noregr, 
about the origin of the Norway peoples. It tells 
us that Nor (the e[)onymos of the Northmen) had 
a son Ranma, who was settled in Alfheim, which 
included all the countiy through which the two 
rivers flowed. By Vergdis, the daughter of the 
giant Thrym, Rauma had thi-ee sons among 

28 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

whom he divided his realm. Bi oin to(k 
Eaumdal ; Brand, Gudbrandsdal ; and Alf, 
Osterdal and all the country north of the Worm 
as far as the Gaut-Elf and the Raum-Elf, the 
modern Gota and Glommen He goes on to say 
that other sons of Kaum settled in Hadaland, 
Haddingadal and Ringeriki, which he looks upon 
as later acquisitions of the Raums. The focus of 
their count i*y in early times was apparently 
Raumariki, so-called from the river Rauma, and 
hence the race wliich peopled it were afterwards 
known as Raums, while the name Alfheim was 
restricted to the fylki, bounded on either side by 
the two great rivei-s just named, which had a 
different history. The Uplands, properly so 
called, comprised the fylkies or counties of 
Gudbrandsdal, Hedemark, Thoten, the southern 
part of Herdalen, Raumariki, and generally the 
country watered by the Rauma, the Logen, the 
Worm and (xlommen rivers. 

It is interesting to find some of the names sur- 
viving in this district in use as early as the time 
of Joidanes. He speaks of the Raumarici, the 
Ragnarici and the Fervir, (? corruption of Ferdir). 

Munch gives us a list of these fylkies in the 
Uplands, with the sites of the great Thor 
temples, marking the central focus of each of 
them : — 

Fylki. Site of Temples. 

Rauma fylki ... Ullinshof at Uileisakri 

Hardha ,, ... Thotmi 

Ringariki ,, ... Niardharhof and a temple at Gron 

Heina ,, .. Thorshof at Redahu (Vang), a 

hof at Cyjunir and another 

at Skaun 

Eystridalir Alfrhimir 

Gudbrandsdalir ... Fron near Hundthorp 

^^ Hnrald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 29 

Eysteiii the Great, whom 1 have spoken of 
above, was the ruler of the Uphinds. I have 
ah'eady described his famous campaign against 
the Thronds. He had several sons namely 
Hogni and Frotlii, Eystein the Younger, and 
Osmund. While Hedemark or Heathmark, was 
the centre of his realm and he was sometimes 
called King of Hedemark, he was also the ruler 
of the great fylkies of Hadeland, Thoten, 
Raumariki, Gudbrandsdal, and Osterdaler. He 
was in fact the great overlord of the Raumfolk, 
and doubtless belonged to a very old stock. 

The fylkies, over which he ruled, were grouped 
round the great lake formerly called Miors and 
now known as Mjosen, the second largest lake in 
Norway, and containing a famous sacred island 
with a noted shrine of Thor. It was also known as 
the Watersend (Magnusson HeimskringlalV., 265), 
and stretches from Gudbrandsdal to Kaumariki. 

Hedemark is the district north of Raumariki, 
and bounded on the east by the Glommen and by 
the Wormen the river of Gudbr«vndsdal. Its name 
shows it w^as a frontier district or mark. Thoten, 
the modern Toten, was bounded on the east by 
the Mjosen lake and the Wormen, which separated 
it from Hedemark, on the south by Raumariki. 
Hadeland was situated immediately to the 
8.W. of Thoten and bordered the Randsford. 

The districts which were occupied by the 
Thronds, Hords and Raums were not always 
conterminous, which accounts for their different 
customs, laws and dialect. Munch has shown very 
clearly what happened. It was similarly explained 
by Geiger in regard to Sweden. The earlier tribal 
settlements were doubtless once quite isolated. 
Each tribe having round it as a protection a 

30 Suga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Mark or frontier, which, in the North really 
meant a wide stretch of impassable forest. As 
the population grew the forest was gradually 
reclaimed by industrious settlers — saeters they are 
called in the North. The Anglo Saxons called 
them saetas, as in Dorsaetas, Defnsaetas, etc. 
They increased in numbers, and gradually pushed 
on as an advanced guard of each tribe until the 
two streams met. 

Munch cells us that their ancient homes are 
marked both in the North and South by differ- 
ences in dialect, pointing to there having been 
a gap between them at one time. " A mark," in 
fact, tliat is a stretch of unoccupied land, separated 
in each case the great tribal areas. It was. the 
best protection available in a wild country. The 
intervening gaps were afterwards filled up by 
immigrants from either side. In this way the upper 
parts of the so-called Gsterdals were gradually 
encroached upon by settlers from Throndheim, 
and we find the people in them speaking the 
dialect of the Thronds. The Thrond speech extends 
to Noros on the Upper Glommen, but south of 
that town not a trace of it is to be found. There 
they speak the Rauma dialect as far as Quickne, a 
place near where the Glommen and the Grka 
come together, and where there is another similar 
frontier. Munch says that it is clear the settling 
of this part of the country has come from two 
sides, and that the streams of population ran from 
Tonset in the north to the Lower Neendal in the 

So much for the frontier between the Eaums 
and the Thronds. The evidence points to similar 
results in the south-west between the former and 
the Hords. Munch shows that the inhabitants 
of the upper parts of the valleys to the east of 

" Harald Fairhair'" and his Ancestors, 31 

the mountains aiul south of Gudbrandsdal — i.e., of 
Waldres and Hallingdal, are in dialect, appear- 
ance and habits much more like their neighbours 
on the other side of the mountains in 8ogn and 
Hardanger, who were Hords, than with those of 
their neighbours in the lower part of the same valleys 
showing whence the latter came. On the other hand, 
their land in Hadeland, Sigdal and Ringariki, 
obviously received their first inhabitants from 
the west — i.e., from the land of the Hords by 
the easy route of Fillefjeld Hemsedalsfjeld, the 
Aurlandsfjeld and the heights of Ustedal. This 
becomes more probable when we remember that 
Waldres and Hallingdal were in ancient times 
treated as part of the ancient Hord confederacy, 
and were subject to the jurisdiction of the Gula- 
thing. In this district, therefore, we .igain have 
two streams of people — one from the West and the 
other from E-aumdal It is not only the valleys 
belonging to the water shed of the Drams Elv to 
which this applies. Thelemark is also divided 
into two portions separated by their dialect. That 
in the Eastern, is quite unlike that in the Western 
'• setars," and it cannot be doubted that the two 
sections of Thelemarken got their population partly 
from the East — i.e., from Westfold, which was 
perhaps once called Thyle or Thule, and partly 
from the West from the land of the Rugians. 

Munch has collected a good deal of evidence to 
show that the people of Rogaland, who were 
closely akin to the Hords and obeyed the Gula 
thing, also sent considerable colonies across the 
mountains northward and eastward ; both Thele- 
mark and Numedal afford proofs of this. 

So much for the three great tribes which 
occupied Norway in early times. We still have 
to consider another district which had a distinct 

32 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

history. South of the Uplands, comprising all the 
fertile lands round the Christiania fiord, and extend- 
ing from Westfold in the West to West Gothland 
in the East inclusive, was apparently in early times 
occupied by a different race, and probably it was in 
fact dominated, as it was almost certainly civilised 
by the Goths, and Munch thus accounts, not only 
for the artistic work found in the graves in this 
district being so like that in the graves of East 
and West Gothland, but for the earliest Runic 
inscriptions of this same district being written in 
Gothic runes and in the Gothic speech. He is 
very emphatic in this matter and says that one of 
the Gothic monuments has been found even west 
of Westfold in Thelemark. He also quotes the 
occurrence of " mark " in the latter name, and in 
Yingul-mark as due to Gothic influence. 

In later times, as we shall see, there is reason 
to think that a portion of it at least formed a 
part of the realm ruled over by Signrd Ring, the 
heroic chief of the Skioldung race, and by his 
ancestors. Eric, the Swedish Ring, claimed that 
Sifirnrd had ruled the Raum realm and Westfold, 
out to Grenmar, Vingulmark, and thence away 
South. (Saga of Harald Fairhair, ch. xiv.) 

Round the Tyrifiord in South -Western Norway 
was a noted centre of wealth and culture. 
Ringariki in this district, like Yaederen further 
west, is noted for the number and beauty of its 
monuments and the carved work on them, and it 
was clearly one of the great centres of culture 
in the Viking time. The very rich country west 
of the Christiania fiord, the Viken of the Norse- 
men, was the focus of their wealth, enterprise 
and artistic skill. Near Hole, not far from the 
modern Svangstraudvei they found a valuable 
material for these monuments in the red sandstone 

'^ Harald Fair hair" and his Ancestors. 33 

which occurs there. Thence they were carried to 
the neighbouring districts. On these stones we have 
representations of hawking scenes and other sub- 
jects, in wliich human figures occur, and which are 
decorated with intertwined snakes and also with ac- 
anthus leaves. A. Bugge mentions such stones from 
Tandberg in Ringariki, from Strand inUpperHalling- 
dal, from Vang in Valclres, from Djnna in Hadeland 
and Alstad in Toten. The greater part of them are 
carved from the sandstone of Hole. This district 
was divided up, like the rest of Norway, at the time 
we are chiefly interested in now% into a number of 
fylkies. Those occupying the district collectively 
known as Viken, comprised : — 

Name of Fylkis. Site of Thor's Temple. 

Groena fylki. Lillaheradhr (?) 

Vestfold Skiring^ssal and Saeheimi 

Vingfulmark Osloarheradhi and Tunum 

Alfheimr Konungahellu (?) 

As we shall see later, the first two were united 
under one ruler, and were named Westfold, which 
became the nucleus of the later kingdom of 
Norway. To the origin and growth of this we 
will now turn. 

Note I. — It is interesting to remember that Adam of Bremen in regard 
to Thor has the phrase : " Thor praesedit in aere qui tonitrus 
et fulmina, ventos imhrcsque serena et fruges gubernat." 

Note II.— Munch has an interesting paragraph about the particle rik or 
ric which terminates certan names in South Norway. He says: In 
the old German world we never find the designation rigi or riki 
except in the case of conquered districts or those from which the 
former inhabitants have been dispossessed. Thus, Frankrige, 
France ; Myrcena-rica, Mercia ; Beornica-rige, Bernicia ; Deorarige, 

34 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

Deira, West Seaxenarige, Wessex, etc. In Norway we have the 
fylkis of Raumariki, Ranrike, and Ringariki pointing to these dis- 
tricts having been conquered from others. Their conquerors 
must have come from the south-east, i.e., from the land of the 
Goths, whose north-west frontier was doubtless Hedemark, while 
Vingulmark points to another marchland. 

Note III. — In the Ynglinga Saga, c. 49, we read that Halfdane Huitbein 
was buried at Skaereidh in Skiringesal. These two names, 
says Munch, correspond with the Scoringa and Scoeri of Paul 
Warnefrid. the historian of the Lombards. He suggests that the 
Winili, as the latter ^ere originally called, first made their way to 
Vingulmark, and thence to Skiringesal and Rygiarbit, whence with 
the Scyri and Rugians they fought with the Wendles (the Vandals), 
op. cit. 1, 113. 


Before I enter into the main part of my 
subject, I must lay down certain postulates 
which it is necessary to remember, and which, 
it is possible, may not meet with universal 
acquiescence. In the first place I hold that 
among the Norsemen such a thing as a parvenu 
ruler or chief was unknown. Among no race was 
loyal attachment to the sacred stock (to which 
alone the kings and chiefs belonged) more marked. 
The slaughter of particular chiefs was common 
enough, but this was followed by their being 
replaced by others of the same family and 
blood. The families which had this hereditary 
privilege were deemed to be the direct descendants 
of the famous companions of Odin, the Asirs, or 
Anses, and to them, and them alone, belonged the 
privilege of ruling. 

In the next place we cannot help thinking that 
the amount of disintegration in the communities 

^^ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 35 

which held Scandinavia in early days has been a 
good deal exaggerated by the recent critical 
historians. It is true that before the end of the 
8th Century there was not the cohesion in the 
government that there was in later tinies, and 
that the supreme chief was not the autocrat he 
afterwards became. His authority was consider- 
ably distributed, and there were a number of 
so-called district, or-fylki, kings who divided 
the lands among them, each controlling his own 
patrimony ; but it seems to me that there was, 
nevertheless, a veiy distinct acceptance of the 
feudal and patriarchal notions by which the 
head of the house, the high priest of the 
community, was de facto, as well as de jure, the 
supreme ruler of all. I take it that the com- 
munity was, in this respect, organised very much as 
a Scotch clan or an Irish sept was, with the senior 
chief and many subordinate and semi-independent 
ones. The district chiefs all belonged to the same 
race as all the chiefs of the Macleods or Campbells 
theoretically do : all having a common ancestoi*, 
all obeying at critical times, and at all times 
acknowledging as their head, the Lord of Dun- 
vagan or the Macallum Mor. Thus we find that 
when the great chief had a mortal struggle, the 
various branches. of the house gathered round him 
at his summons, and joined their ships to his. 
The amount of independence exercised by the 
district kings no doubt varied with the locality. 
In districts like Western Norway where every 
fiord is separated by difficult barriers from the 
next one, or where the intercourse either by land or 
water was difficult, and probably intermittent only, 
the maximum of independence would be reached. 
There the little community and, in many cases, the 
isolated farm would be practically independent. 

36 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

The same rale, caused by the same circumstances, 
held good in the Peloponnesus in ancient times 
and in the promontory of Sorrento in mediaeval 
ones. In more fertile and thickly peopled dis- 
tricts, which were more accessible and more 
valuable, the authority of the supreme chief was 
doubtless more marked and his visits more frequent : 
the association of liberty with a rugged country is 
well explained in such instances at least. 

These postulates are reasonable and generally 
accepted, and are both supported by ample 
evidence. Thus, if we turn to the earliest poetic 
literature of the North, the "Traveller's Tale" 
and " Beowulf," we are struck by finding the 
Scandinavian district divided into a number of 
so-called ''gaus," or provinces, each one occupied 
by a separate clan, as in Ireland and Celtic 
Scotland in mediaeval times ; each clan subject 
to a royal stock, all belonging to the sacred caste 
tracing descent from Odin and his Asirs, and 
thus having, for its chiefs at least, a common 
pedigree. A few lines of the "Traveller's Tale" 
will exhibit this division into communities, 
each with its royal caste. I take the following at 
haphazard : — 

Sigehere longest 
Ruled the Sea Danes. 
Hnaef the Hocings, 
Helm the Wulfings, 
Wald the Woings, 
Wod the Thyrings, 
Saeferth the Sycs, 
The Sweons Ongendtheov, 
Sceafthere the Ymbers, 
Sceafa the Longbeards, &c., &c. 
Sedgefield's editioji of Widsith lines^ 28-32. 

It is not my present purpose to examine these 
clans and their ruling stocks in detail. Our story 

*' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 37 

begins at a much later stage, when tlie petty 
communities were being consolidated into larger 
kingdoms by the absorption of several by the more 
vigorous and ambitious among them. This con- 
solidation had a very potent effect indeed on the 
social condition of the north of Europe. Denmark 
and Sweden were the first to feel its effects, and 
were presently followed by Norway. Norway's 
consolidation occurred just at the beginning of 
its written history, and, in fact, its real history 
begins with this consolidation. The movement 
took place under the leadership of the royal 
stock of the Ynglings, which, if we are to credit 
the very reasonable tradition to be presently 
referred to, was expelled from Sweden by the 
Scioldungs. We must always remember that 
the first kings of Norway were Swedes and not 
Norwegians. This revolution is described for us m 
the last chapter of the Ynglinga Saga, the general 
truth of which I cannot see the smallest reason 
to doubt. This consolidation of power in the 
North, and especially the internecine struggle 
between the Scioldungs and the Ynglings just 
referred to, more than aught else caused, as 1 
believe, the vast impulse given to piracy and 
foreign colonisation in the ninth and tenth centuries, 
and converted w4iat had previously been, so far as 
our facts point, a peaceable, trading, stay-at-home 
folk into an army of plunderers which assailed 
every part of the European seaboard. It was as 
exiles and expatriated chieftains that many of the 
Norsemen emigrated from their rugged homes, and 
the migration only ceased when the rival stocks 
of sacred blood had settled down into what 
became their normal distribution. Before entering 
on our main subject we must say something about 
our authorities. 

38 Saga-Book of the Vikmg Society. 

In a paper written many years ago on the early 
history of Sweden, I urged that the Ynglinga 
and the Scioldunga Saga (of which last we have 
fragments remaining, the most important being the 
well-known Sogubrot) were probably written by 
one person, and I suggested that this person was 
Snorri, the author of the Heimskringla. Since 
writing that paper I have had the advantage of 
reading the admirable prolegomena to the Stur- 
lunga Saga, written by my friend, Professor 
Vigfussion, in which I found my main contention 
confirmed — namely, that the early part of the 
Heimskringla and the original draft of the 
Scioldunga were by one hand. Vigfusson has, 
however, I think, shown very clearly that the 
author of the two in their early form was not 
Snorri, as I urged, but his predecessor, Ari 
Thorgilsson, styled Frothi, or the Learned, who 
was born in 1067 and died in 1148, and who 
was douMess the first Norse writer who wrote 
prose history. One of the books he is known to 
have written was called the " Konunga-bok," 
or Kings' Book. In regard to it, Vigfusson 
tells us that the superscription of the Codex 
Frisianus has the words, " Here beginneth 
the Book of Kings according to the records of the 
Priest Ari, the Historian : opening from the three- 
fold division of the world, which is followed by 
the History of all the Kings of Norway." To this 
statement is prefixed a short introduction con- 
taining a life of Ari. The words quoted can only 
mean, either that the following Sagas are Ari's 
" Book of Kings," or that they are derived 
therefrom. The discrepancy between the myth- 
ology of the Ynglinga and the Prose Edda 
(which was Snorri's own work) may be noted 
as some confirmation of this view " (Op. cit., 

" Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 39 

xxix). Vigfusson concludes that Ari's " Kon- 
unga-bok" probably ended with the death of 
King Harald Sigurdson, commonly called Harald 
Hai'drada. His work has been embodied in and 
forms the greater part of the Heimskringla ; and 
it is nearly certain, as Vigfusson says, that the 
first book of the Heimskringla — namely, the 
Ynglinga Saga, with which we have alone to deal 
here — is Ari's own work, with slight, if any, 

Let us examine the Ynglinga a little more 
closely. In the preface to the Heimskringla we 
read, ''The lives and times of the Yngling race 
were written from Thiod wolf's relation, enlarged 
afterwards by the accounts of intelligent people." 
The relation referred to was a poem written 
by Thiodvvolf the Wise of Hvin, a valley 
west of Lindnesnaes. Thiodwolf composed this 
poem, which was called the '' Ynglinaatal," or 
Yngling-tale— i.^., the list or succession of the 
Ynglings — at the instance of Rognvald, called 
the Mountain High, who was first cousin to Harald 
Haarfagre, at whose court Thiodwolf was the 
chief Scald, or poet. Thiodwolf was on very 
friendly terms with Harald Haarfagre himself, 
and became the foster-father of his son Gudrod, 
who was drowned because he would persist in 
sailing out in stormy weather contrary to the 
advice of the old seer (Id., i. 304-5). This enables 
us to fix the date when Thiodwolf flourished and 
wrote his poems on the Descent of the Ynglings 
as the earlier part of the tenth century ad. He 
is one of the oldest of the Scalds whose composition 
has come down to us and who treated his subject 

Vigfusson was the first to analyze the versicles 
of Thiodwolf, and to show that, as we have them, 

40 Saga-Book oj the Viking Society 

they are very corrupt, owing to theii* long passage 
through many fragile memories, instead of being 
written down, and owing also to the language 
having altered and become largely obsolete and 
unintelligible and been misunderstood. 

Fortunately the character and structure of 
Northern poetry, and especially its rhythm and 
alliteration, make it possible to restore it when 
corrupted with some certainty, and it has been 
done with marvellous insight by Vigfusson, in 
this case. He has shewn that we have only 
a fraction of the poems preserved in the versi- 
cles as we have them. I have not noticed the 
fact anywhere, but it is curious that in almost 
every case the only versicle which is preserved 
about each king is the last one — i.e., that reporting 
his death and place of burial ; all the rest are gone. 

The poem, in fact, had no doubt become largely 
quite obscure and incomprehensible after the people 
in the North had thrown away their old gods and 
their old modes of thought, and the versicles that 
were preserved in a corrupt form were doubtless 
kept alive merely as a convenient memoria technica 
to preserve in a ready way a record of the 
catalogue of the early rulers. Originally we can 
hardly doubt that this poem was a genuine 
historical epic. It was matched in the early 
poetry of Ireland by similar poems, one famous 
one of which is still extant, dating from almost 
the same time. It is almost certain that in this 
case the poem of Thiodwolf was intact in its 
original form in the time of Ari Frothi, and 
that he really t^'anslated it into prose in the 
vernacular of his day. This was supplemented by 
certain additions from tradition or early songs, 
and we doubtless have its contents substantially 

•* Hill aid Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 41 

preserved for us as incorporated in the Yn^linga 
Saga, witli some further additions made by Snorri, 
and notably the early section about Odin and other 
gods and including the first thirteen chapters, none 
of which, it will be noted, is marked by a versicle. 

Vigfusson has argued very reasonably that in 
Ari's original Ynglinga none of the versicles 
were, in fact, inserted, for they repeat the same 
story in part, and confuse the narrative, but 
that they were added by Snorri, who broke up what 
remained of the poem and distributed it in Ari's 
narrative. This is strongly supported by the 
corrupt state of the text of these versicles as 
we find them in the Heimskringla. 

It seems plain, however, that we have in the 
prose part of the Ynglinga a perfectly reputable 
historical document of the 1 1th Century, based 
on a quite respectable historical poem of the 
early part of the 10th Century, that is of an 
approximate date to that of the composition of 
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, before which the late 
Mr. Freeman, who poured contempt on what he 
called "mere sagas," used to do obeisance night 
and morning. 

In addition to the edition of the Ynglinga in 
the Heimskringla we have an independent witness 
about it in the so-called *' Historia Norvegiae." 
It only now exists in a Scotch MS. of the 
15th century, but was composed much earlier, 
since it is quoted in the composition known as 
" Agrip," and was therefore composed before 1190. 
It was written in Latin by a Norwegian. The 
earlier part, as my friend Gustav Storm showed, 
is based upon the Ynglingatal before it was 
sophisticated by Snorri's addition (Storm's *'Snorre 
Sturlasson's Historieskrivning, etc.," 22 and 23). 

42 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

Beside this we have another tradition, doubt- 
less also derived from Thiodwolf s poem, if not 
from the '• Historia JSorvegiae" in the account of 
the Upland Kings, by Hauk Erlendson, who was 
born inNorway. He is named as Lawman of Ice- 
land in 1294 and also Lawman of the Gulathing of 
Norway, and died in 1334 (Vigfusson, preface to 
the Sturlunga Saga C 2, x, 1 ). 

With the earlier part of the Ynglinga Saga, 
before chapter xxxviii., we have nothing to do at 
present. We begin with the death of Ingiald 
Illradi, or Evil -heart, who, by his conquests 
and diplomacy, became sole king of Sweden. He 
filled the canvas with a considerable figure, and 
eventually was burned to death in a fire lit by 
himself while entertaining some of his under- 
kings, having already destroyed all the rest — a 
notable and terrible holocaust. Whatever may 
may be the case in regard to the earlier parts of 
Thiodwolfs story, I cannot help thinking that 
from the time of Ingiald, who was but six 
generations removed from him, the tradition was 
perfectly lively and reliable. In our own day a 
tradition ranging over six generations and extend- 
ing considerably over a century is a very ordinary 
occurrence, especially about famous characters 
who have taken part in history. Many of our 
own acquaintances repeat stories told them by 
their grandfathers which they heard from theirs, 
and which are quite reliable. But in our sophisti- 
cated society this is accidental only. The 
introduction of contemporary writing and of print- 
ing has done away with the necessity for pre- 
serving a special aptitude for the preservation 
of a viva voce tradition. Before contemporary 
chronicles were introduced such traditions were 
preserved in songs and recited sagas by schools 

^^ Harald Fair hair" and his Ancestors. 43 

of Scalds, whose continuity and wide dispersal 
made their report most vahiable, since they 
checked one another. They took the part of State 
historiographers, and the limits of a possible 
tradition reaching back without written records 
were greatly extended. At all events there can 
be no question that within six generations such 
traditions, when stated boiid-Jide, and when not 
obviously fables, are worthy, of considerable credit. 

Our present purpose is with Ingiald's succes- 
sors, and not with himself. We are told by Ari 
that he married Gauthild, the daughter of Algaut, 
the son of Gautrek the Bounteous and grandson 
of Gaut, from '' whom Gothland took its name." 
Gauthild's mother was Alof, daughter of Olaf 
Skygne or the Farsighted, king in Nerike. ( Ynglinga 
Saga, xxxiii. and xlvi.). Munch argues that the 
repetition of the particle "Gaut" in these names, 
the introduction of Olaf Skygne, (who with 
Gautrek the Mild are named as contemporaries 
of Vikar and Starkad in the Gautrek Saga), and 
the connection of several of the names in form 
with Gothland, points to a mythical origin to 
the whole. This rather points, in my view, 
to Ari havhig followed the practice of Saxo 
Grammaticus in connecting names of a quite 
probable authenticity with others of the same 
sound; and thus rounding of!' a truncated 
pedigree by a bold leap into the realms of 
myth where eponymous names such as Gaut 
abound. To proceed with our story, however. By 
Gauthild, Ingiald had two children — a daughter, 
Asa, whom he married to Gudrod, king of 
Scania, and who brought about the death of 
her husband and his brother Halfdane, and 
eventually perished with her father. Beside his 
daughter Asa, Ingiald had a son, Olaf, who lived 

44 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

with his mother's foster-father Bove, in West 
Gothland, where he was brought up with Saxi, 
Bove's son, who was surnamed Flettir (Ynghnga 
Saga, xhii). Saxi Flettir is named by Saxo Gram- 
maticus in conjunction with Sali Gothus as fighting 
in the Bravalla struggle on the side of Ringo 
{i.e., of Sigurd Ring). He brings them both from 
the northern part of the river Albis (i.e., the Elf 
par excellence, the Gothelf). In the fragment of 
the Scioldunga Saga called Sogubrot, the two 
are respectively styled Saxi Flettir and Sali 
Gautski, and are also brought from the north of 
the Gothelf, and therefore from Alfheim. The 
conjunction of two such different authorities, as 
are the author of the Sogubrot and of Saxo in this 
statement is notable and interesting. " Flettir," 
says Mliller, is an "appellative, and means a cleaver" 
C'diffisor," Miiller's Saxo, \. 381, note 5f Mag- 
nuson equates the name with that of Fletcher 
Heims. iv. 174). The Saxi Flettir of the two notices 
is no doubt the same person. Miiller and Munch 
have argued that a foster-brother of Olafs could 
not have fought at Bravalla ; but this is by no 
means so clear, for, as we shall see presently, Olafs 
grandson outlived the victor at Bravalla, Sigurd 
King, who, again, lived for many years after that 
fight. But to resume. 

The Ynglinga Saga tells us that when Olaf 
heard of his father Ingiald's death he went, with 
those men who chose to follow him, to Nerike — 
i.e., tjie Nether rik, or Nether realm — situated 
in the western part of Sweden it abuts on 
the north-eastern corner of Lake Wenern and 
is bounded on the west by Wermeland. He 
fled thither because the Swedes had risen with 
one accord to drive out the family of Ingiald and 
all its supporters. His maternal gra^ndmother, as 

*' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 45 

we have seen, came thence. Munch suggests that 
as Olaf was brought up in Gothhmd, and as the 
statement of the Saga seems to imply that he 
had not returned to his home in Sweden wlien liis 
father died, that his followers were in fact Goth- 
landers. (Munch, Hist, of Norway, ii. 107, note 2). 
"When the Swedes heard where he was, he could not 
remain in Nerike, but went on westward with his 
followers through the forest to a river which comes 
from the north and falls into the Wenern lake and 
is called the Klar river. There they sat them- 
selves down — turned to, and burnt and cleared the 
woods. Soon there were great districts, with 
settlements in them, which were collectively called 
Wermeland, and we read that a good living was 
to be made there. When it was told of Olaf in 
Sweden that he was clearing the forests, they 
laughed at his proceedings and called him Tretelia, 
or the Tree-feller. There were many people who 
fled the country from Sweden on account of King 
Ivar, who had meantime come from Scania, and had 
supplanted the family of Ingiald and become 
ruler at Upsala, and when they heard that King 
Olaf had got good lands in Wermeland, so 
great a number came there to him that the 
land could not support them." Here we have, 
detailed, in neither unintelligible nor incredible 
form, the ftrst colonisation on a considerable scale 
of the western and remote province of Sweden 
called Wermeland. 

The Klar Elf, or Klar river, of this notice was 
the Gauta Elf, and was also known in early 
times as Eystrielfr ; in a document of the 
13th century it is called Gautelfr (See AaFs 
Snorri, p. 31, note to chap. xlvi). Wermeland 
probably merely means the warm land. Geijer 
says it was a debatable territory between the 

46 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Swedes and Norwegians — ^' Inter Norntanniam et 
Svioniani Vernielani,'' says Adam of Bremen — 
subject to either kingdom alternately. The early 
settlers kept to the fertile dales along the 
rivers in the Western part of Wermeland, 
between the dales were forests and mountains ; 
the whole of Eastern Wermeland was a wilder- 
ness. The settled districts were separated from 
Norway by the Eidha Skoge, or Waste Wood, whose 
name survives in the parish of Eda in Wermeland 
and Eidskog in Norway, through which the road 
into that country has long passed. Towards 
Gothland forests were the boundary both on the 
eastern and western side of Lake Wenern. Above 
Wermeland the Skridfins or Finn Laps still 
wandered in the 11th Century ; the name of 
Dalecarlia was not then known. (Geijer, Eng. 
Trans. 19). Northern Wermeland must have 
been at the tmie we are describing very 
scantily peopled, althotigh, as we know from the 
archaeological remains that are still found there, 
its southern part had been partially settled long 
before, and, in fact, Snorri suggests this when he 
makes Olaf's foster-father come from there. 

Let us on with our story. We are told that Olaf 
got a wife called Solva or Solveig, the daughter of 
Halfdane Guldtand, or Gold-Tooth, the son of Solve 
Solveson, who was the son of Solve the Old, who 
first settled in Soloer (Ynglinga Saga, xlvi.). 
Munch argues, reasonably, in regard to these names 
that they are artificial, and that their common 
particle " Sol " has some connection with Soleyer, 
whose etymology is still unknown. Saxo explains 
it as meaning " insula? solis," islands of the sun ; 
but this, says Munch (ii. 106, note 1), cannot 
be so, since in ancient times the name was 
written Soleyar, and not Soleyyar. The district 

*♦ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 47 

lay immediately west of Wermeland, and between 
it and the Glommen. Soloyar, or Soleyar, now 
called Soloer (says Aal), although forming no part of 
liaumariki, was yet included in the Rauma fylki (i.^., 
the gau, or county, of Rauma) . It formed a long nar- 
row strip, bounded on the east by Wermeland, on the 
north by the so-called Alfrhiem's Herad (surviving 
in the parish of Elverum), on the west by the river 
Glommen, and on the south by Alfheim and 
Raumariki {i^ee Aal's map). It has been suggested 
that the early chiefs of Soloer had their seat at the 
house called Kongshaug, in the parish of Grinder, 
which in the Red Book and in charters of the 
fourteenth century was called Konungshof (Aal, 
op. cit., 32 note). 

By Solva, Olaf had two sons, Ingiald and 
Halfdane. The latter was brought up in Soloer, 
in the house of his grandfather Solve, and was 
called Halfdane Huitbein — i.e., White Leg (Yng- 
linga Saga, xlvi.). We have described the 
overpeopling of Wermeland by the immigrant 
Swedes. " There then came dear times and 
famine," says our author, '^ which they ascribed to 
their king — as the Swedes used always to reckon 
■good or bad crops for or against their kings." The 
distress was attributed to Olaf's neglecting the 
sacrifices ; they therefore gathered their troops 
and surrounded his house, and burnt him in it, 
offering him as a sacrifice to Odin for good crops. 
Thiod wolf's verses describing this are as follows : — 

The temple destroyer" by the bay, 

The corpse of Anleiff the tree-hewer (swallowed), 

And the ember hot Forniot's son! 

Dissolved the frame of the Swedish king, 

So the Scion of Upsala's glorious race 

Disappeared long ago.! 

* i.e., the fire. f Forniot was the father of Logi fire. 
\ Vigfusson and Yorke-Powell, Corpus, etc., i. 249. 

48 Saga-Book of the Vikmg Society. 

It is said that the haugr, or mound, in which 
his remains were buried is still to be seen at 
Safiebro, in the Herad of Naes, not far from the 
Wenern (Aal's Snorri^ note to chap. xlvi.). The 
sacrificing of the king in a time of calamity was 
widely recognised in early times in the North. 
Geijer tells us that sometimes the shedding- of noble 
blood was deemed requisite, even that of the nearest 
and dearest. In the appendix to the old Law of Goth- 
land we read, " In that time when men believed 
in groves and mounds, in holy places and palings, 
then sacrificed they to the heathen gods their sons 
and daughters and their cattle, withmeatand drink." 
Adam of Bremen reports how a Christian had 
seen at Upsala seventy-two dead bodies of immo- 
lated men and animals hanging in the sacred grove 
of the temple at Upsala, which shone with gold, 
and in the interior of which were set up the images 
of Odin, Thor, and Freya. 

In regard to this saga it will be seen that 
Thiodwolf's verses do not say anything about Olaf 
having been burnt alive, but merely report the 
burning of his body on the shore of the lake, as 
was usual in the case of all royal funerals. The 
" Historia Norvegise " distinctly tells us that 
he died full of years in Sweden, and says 
nothing about his tragical end as reported in 
the Ynglinga Saga. Its words are, " Olavus diu 
et pacifice functus regno, plenus dierum obiit 
in Suecia " (See Storm, op. cit. 110.) Hauk 
Erlendson also says that Olaf ruled over 
Wermeland till his old age ; nor does he say any- 
thing about his having been sacrificed. (Munch, 
ii. 106, note 2). The phrase in the verse about the 
burning of the body has been probably mistaken 
by the author of the prose setting. Olaf Tretelia, 
as king of Wermeland, is mentioned in Egils Saga 

''*' Hnrald Fairhair'' and his Aucesiors. 49 

(Op. cit. ch. 73), one of the mo6t important 
and earliest of the Sagas. He is also named in 
the " Langfedgatal " as the son of Ingiald Illradi, 
while an " Olavus Wermorum regulus" is njen- 
tioned by Saxo (Op. cit. i. 370) ; but, as usual 
with him, in connection with names from heroic 
times, and in a story full of anachronisms. As 
the tale is quaint, it may not be inappropriate to 
interpolate it here as a folktale only. It is intro- 
duced to show the prowess of Olo, whom he makes 
the son of Sigurd by a sister of Harald Hildetand, 
and assigns him a special role during the latter's 
reign. Inter alia, he says that at that time the 
insolent conduct of the brothers Scatus and 
Hiallus had reached such a point of wantonness, 
that they took virgins of remarkable beauty away 
from their parents and violated them. It came 
about that, intending to carry of! Esa, daughter 
of Olavus the ruler of the Wermii, they an- 
nounced to her father that, if he was unwilling 
for her to submit to their desires, he must fight 
them, either personally or by means of some 
champion, in defence of his child. When Olo 
heard this, rejoicing in the opportunity of fight- 
ing, he went to the house of Olavus, having first 
borrowed a rustic dress as a disguise. He was sit- 
ting among those at the end of the table, and seeing 
the distress of the king's family, he entered into 
conversation with his son, and inquired why the 
rest looked so sad. The latter told him that, 
unless some defender speedily intervened, his 
sister's chastity would be violated by some very 
formidable warriors. Olo then inquired further 
what reward would be given to the man who 
should risk his life for the virgin. Olavus, being 
pressed by his son on the point, answered that his 
daughter would be ceded to the champion, an 
answer which greatly aroused Olo's desire to 

50 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

hazard the danger. The maiden, however, used* 
always to examine the faces of her father's guests 
near at hand and attentively, with a light, in order 
that she might form a better idea of their manners 
and dress. It is also believed that she could dis- 
criminate, from the lineaments of the countenance, 
the stock of those she examined, and, by mere 
sagacity of sight, distinguish whether a person 
was of high descent or no. 

When she drew near to Olo, who, as we have 
seen, was disguised, she viewed him with a very 
searching examination, was seized with horror 
at the unwonted expression of his eyes, and fell 
down almost insensible. When her strength 
gradually returned and her spirit revived, she 
again tried to examine the youth, but again fell 
down and lay as if insensible. Sbe tried again a 
third time to raise her closed and downcast eyes. 
Not only her eyes but her feet also now failed, and 
she again suddenly fell. When Olavus saw this he 
asked why she had thus thrice fallen. She replied 
that she was struck with horror at the truculent 
expression of the stranger ; while she asserted that 
he was of royal descent, and that if he prevented 
the ravishers from carrying out their purpose she 
would deem him quite worthy of her embraces. 
Olo, who had his face muffled up with a woollen 
wrapper, was now requested by all to put aside this 
veil and let them see his face. Thereupon, he bade 
them all to be more cheerful and to lay aside their 
grief, uncovered his face and drew the eyes of all 
upon him in admiration of his remarkable beauty 
— for he had yellow shining hair. He took care, 
however, to keep his eyes concealed by his eyelids, 
lest they should strike fear into the beholders. 
The guests were so elated that they danced, and 
the courtiers leaped with joy. " In this way the 

** Harald Fairhair"' and his Ancestors. 51 

kindly promise of the guest drove away the 
common fear of all." In the midst of these pro- 
ceedings Hiallus and Scatus came up with ten 
slaves as if to carry off the maiden straightway. 
This threw everything into tumult and confusion. 
They challenged the king to fight, or surrender his 
daughter ; but Olo at once stopped their boasting 
by accepting the challenge, making one condition 
only, that no combatant should approach another 
behind, but that they should only fight face to face. 
He succeeded in slaying the twelve with his sword 
named Lagthi, and thus accomplished a unique 
exploit. The place where the fight took place was 
an island which stood in the middle of a marsh, 
and not far from it, says Saxo^ is a village which 
has a memento of this struggle, bearing conjointly 
the names of the brothers Hiallus and Scatus. 
Olo now married the maiden, and by her had a 
son Omund. (Saxo, ed. Miiller, 370-72). This 
story, like many others in Saxo, is full of anachro- 
nism. Sniallus and Hiallus (Sniallr and Hiallr) 
are mentioned in the '^ Mantissa " appended to 
the " Landnama-bok " as the sons of King Vatnar, 
and are made contemporaries, not of Harald 
Hildetand, but of Harald Hardrada. (Op. cit. 388). 
They are also named in the history of King Half. 
(Fornald, Sogur, ii. 28. See Notae Uberiores to 
MiiUer's Saxo, 215-16). 

The Saga reported by Saxo must be treated, 
like hi« other tales, as another instance w^here he 
has fathered a famous heroic tale upon well- 
known names. At all events, the fact that he 
associates his Olaf, the petty king of the Werme- 
landers, with figures of the mythical cycle, and 
that his chronology is entirely arbitrary, is not 
enough to remit the quite reasonable story told as in 
the Ynglinga to the land of mere legend ;- for. we 

52 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

must remember that Thiodwolf lived well within 
the reach of a lively tradition about Olaf Tretelia. 
To return to the Ynglinga. 

" Those of the Swedes who had more under- 
standing, found that the dear times proceeded 
from there being a greater number of people oh 
the land than it could support, and that the king 
could not be blamed for this. They took the reso- 
lution, therefore, to cross the Eida forest with all 
their men." This was the Eydaskog, already 
named, which formed the march between Sweden 
and Norway. " The emigrants, having crossed the 
forest, arrived unexpectedly in the district of 
Soloer, where they put to death King Solve, and 
took prisoner his grandson, Olaf the Tree-feller's son, 
Halfdane Huitbein or Whiteleg (who had been 
brought up there). They made him their king. 
He thereupon subdued Soloer " (Id. xlviii.). 

We are told in the fiftieth chapter of the same 
Saga that Olaf's other son, Ingiald, succeeded his 
father in Wermeland. The real story seems, to be 
that the revolution which had taken place at 
Upsala, by which the old royal stock there was 
driven out, led, as was very natural, to a consider- 
able migration, voluntary or otherwise. The 
emigrants followed the steps of their expatriated 
chiefs westward to Wermeland. Finding no 
elbow-room there, they left Ingiald in charge of 
that province which had been his father's, and 
went onward across the forest to join Halfdane 
Huitbein in Soloer. Hauk Erlendson, in his 
account of the Upland Kings, says nothing of 
Halfdane having killed King Solve, nor of the 
Swedish expedition to Soloer, but merely that he 
succeeded his grandfather there ; and it may be 
that the account in the Ynglinga has been to 
this extent coloured. 

'''■ Harnld Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 53 

Halfdane Huitbein, says the Ynglinga, became 
a great king. He was, in fact, the real founder of 
the Norwegian Monarchy. Munch, who is dis- 
posed (as I think) capriciously to question the 
connection of Olaf Tretelia with the stock of the 
later Westfold kings, says of Halfdane Huitbein 
that his historical existence is not to be doubted. 
(Op. cit. ii. 107). He is made the son of Olaf 
Tretelia in the " Langfedgatal," and in Hauk 
Erlendson's account of the Upland chiefs. The 
" Landnama-bok " makes Halfdane Huitbein the 
ancestor of the famous king of Dublin, Olaf the 
White. (Op. cit. 106). He married Asa, a 
daughter of Eystein the Severe, otherwise called 
the Great, king of the Uplands, by whom he had 
two sons, Eystein and Gudrod. (Ynghnga, xlix.). 

Halfdane's father-in-law, Eystein the Great, 
was a much more important figure than has 
generally been supposed. A large part of the 
various districts peopled by the Eauma clan were' 
united in obeying a common code of laws known 
as the Eidsivathing, and in being, as we have seen, 
subject to Eystein the Great, for we presently find 
his sons and grandson having a fierce struggle with 
the descendants of Halfdane for the districts w^hich 
the latter had appropriated ; among these we are 
expressly told was Hedemark, where Eystein had 
his court. Eystein was, in fact, master of all Norway 
east of the Dovrefelds, except Westfold, Alfheim, 
and Vingulmark. He thus ruled over the so-called 
Uplands, including Hedemark, Thoten, Eaumariki, 
Hadeland, Eingariki, &c. In addition to this he 
also, as I have described in the Prologue, made a 
famous conquest west of the Dovrefelds. *It is clear, 
therefore,' that Halfdane made a great alliance when 
he married his daughter, and this distinction he 
doubtless owed to his ancient and unmatched 

54 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

pedigreQ. Halfdane Huitbein's heritage in the 
district of Soloer wa^ doubtless too narrow for the 
Swedish emigrants who had joined : him from 
Upsala, who were probably among the most 

» martial men of his country, and ready enough to 
assist an adventurous chieftain. During the life 
of his father-in-law Halfdane, Eystein apparently 
remained quiet and it was only on his death that 
he began his conquests of which we have only 

. very meagre details. We are told that he first 
proceeded with an army to Eaumariki, which he 
plundered and subdued (Ynglinga, xlviii.). 

Eaumariki lay west of Soloer, and formed with 
ic the Eauma fylki, the two being only separated 
by the river Glommen. It was doubtless settled 
from an early date, and it is probable that the 
original people of Soloer came from Eaumland. 

In addition to Eaumariki, Halfdane subdued a 
great part of Hedemark, Thoten and Hadeland 
' (Id., xlix.). Hedemark is the district north of 
of Eaumariki, and bounded on the east and west 
by the Glommen and the Vormen, the river of 
Gudbrandsdal. Its name shows it was a frontier 
district. (For Thoten see ante p. 29). Hadeland 
was situated immediately to the south-west 
of Thoten, and traversed by the Eands-fiord. 
Hadeland, or Hadaland, according to the Sagas 
was so named from one of the grandsons of the 
mythical Nor, called Haud, or Hod, and according. 
to an obscure report, he lived at a place in 
Thingelstad Sogn, near which there is still a 
mound known as Kongshaug. These various 
districts, as I believe, were conquered by Halfdane 
■from his own brothers-in-law, the sons of Eystein 
the Great of the Uplands. It was doubtless from 
this conquest that Halfdane was called the King 
of the Uplands. (Landnamma bok ed., Vigfusson, 

" Harald Fair hair ''^ and his Ancestors, 55 

ii., 144). This did not include all his kingdom, 
however. In chapter xxxvii. of the Yynglinga 
Saga, we are told that his son Eystein married 
Hilda, daughter of Eric Amarson, who was king 
in Westfold. King Eric died without leaving a 
son during Halfdane's life, whereupon he and his 
son took possession of Westfold. 

The story shews that Halfdane only acquired 
Westfold in his old age, at all events after his son's 

The district of Westfold is described in a 
work entitled " Regesta Geographica in scripta 
Islandorum, etc.," (Royal Ant. Soc, vol. xii., 
Copenhagen, 1846). In it we read that Westfold 
was the part of Norway bordering the Christiania 
fiord on the west. It was bounded on the east 
by Yinguhuark and Fiordis, on the west by 
Gronalandr or Gronafulki, and on the north by 
Ringariki,' and in ancient days comprehended, 
beside the modern governments of larlsbergen 
and Laurvigen, the districts bordering them on 
the north, namely, the parishes of Sandveren, 
Ekeren, and Liericum. Westfold was divided into 
two parts, Upsio (Of si or Upsi), and Westmare, 
the former in the north, the latter in the south, 
and near the sea. Tunsberg, one of the most ancient 
emporia of Norway, was situated there (Kruse 
Chron. Nort., 69, 70), 

Munch argues that the early inhabitants of 
Westfold belonged to the same Rauma clan as the 
folk in the neighbouring gaus (Op. cit., i. 104). 
The famous code known as Eidsivathing's law had 
authority there as in the country of the Raumas 
(Id., ii. 168), and it would naturally have formed 
part of Eystein the Great's dominions, and pro- 
bably of those of his ancesters ; but at this 
time we are expressly told in the Ynglinga that 

5^ ^CLga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Eric, who was king in Westfold, was the son of 
Agnar, who was the son of Sigtryg, king in Yendil. 
The question arises, where was Vendii. Some 
have suggested Yingulmark ; but this is quite out 
of the question : Vingahnark is always so called in 
the Heimskringla, and it was ruled by quite a 
different set of kings. There is no place in 
Norway or Sweden answering to the name Vendii, 
and we must cross over the water to Jutland to 
find it. The part of Jutland, north of the Lim- 
fiord is still called Wendsyssel ; Syssel or Sysla 
being a well-known early Norse land-division, of 
which several examples may be found in Aal's map ; 
ithe inhabitants, also call it Yendilsbyggiar. It 
seems to me that this is the Vendii referred to as 
the homeland of the early Westfold kings. On 
turning to the thirty-first chapter of the Ynglinga 
Saga, we read how when King Frode of Denmark 
was away from home, Ottar, the ruler at Upsala, 
set sail for Denmark and wasted the land. Inter 
alia, he sailed north to Jutland, entered the 
Limfiord, and plundered in Vendii. The Danes 
collected an armament ; a battle was fought in the 
great inlet ; Ottar was killed, and his body given 
to the wild beasts and ravens. The victors then 
made the figure of a crow in wood, sent it to 
Sweden, saying he had been no better than that, 
whence he was called Ottar Vendilcrow. (Ynglinga, 
xxxi. and Aal's note). In Thiod wolf's verse, which 
is appended to the notice of this Ottar, Vendsyssel 
is replaced by Vendii. 

There can be little doubt, therefore, that, accord- 
ing to the Ynglinga Sa,ga, Westfold, for some time 
before Halfdane Huitbein took possession of it, 
was ruled by a dynasty which came from Jutland, 
and which doubtless had authority on both sides of 
the water. This introduces some curious subjects 

*' Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 57 

of speculation. Such a dynasty was no doubt an 
intrusive one in WestfoJd, and the authority it 
exercised both there and in Jutland probably led, 
as we shall see, to a more important claim of 
similar authority, but in a reverse way, somewhat 
later. In addition to his other possessions already 
named, we are told that Halfdane, on the death of 
his brother Ingiald, took possession of Wermeland, 
imposed scatt, or taxes, upon it, and placed iarls 
there as long as he lived. 

Thiodwolf tells us Halfdane lived to be an old 
man, and that he died in his bed at Thoten, 
whence his body was transported to Westfold, and 
that it was laid at Skaereid, near Skiringesall. 
(Ynglinga Saga, xlix). Hauk Erlendson, who here 
contradicts Thiodwolf, and is not therefore of much 
value, says he was buried at Thoten. 

I will now extract some phrases from Jacob 
Aal a^bout the famous site at Skiringesall — just 
named. It has been the subject of much debate, 
and has been fixed in several positions, as in 
Bohuslan, in Skane, in the neighbourhood of 
Stockholm, and even in Prussia, notwithstanding 
that Snorri and the authors of the Sogubrot and 
the Fagrskinna put it in Westfold. Aal says that 
in the 15th Century the name survived as that 
of the district forming the parish of Tiolling in 
the bailiwick of Laurvig. (Op. cit. ch. xlix, note). 
The Sogubrot tells us that a great temple of Freya 
once stood there. This temple. Munch suggests, 
was built by Halfdane and his son Eystein, who 
also probably introduced the w^orship of Freya, 
the special divinity of the Ynglings, from Upsala. 
(Op. cit. ii. 75). He adds that not far from the 
sea, on an open space in this district, is the old 
church of Thioling (or Tiolling, formerly called 
Thiodalyng, the people's heath). On this 

58 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

open space are still the remains of a stone 
circle, which was probably connected with some 
great Tiling^ or meeting-place for law-making; 
not far off is another and smaller circle. The 
church .doubtless marks the site of the former 
heathen temple, and the open place is where the 
great gathering of the people of Yiken took place 
(Munch, ii. 139). 

Close by Thioling, is a field containing a 
number of mounds, where many antiquites have 
been found (Id. 141, note), no doubt marking the 
site of an early cemetery. Somewhat to the west 
was the royal seat of Geirstad (now Gierrstad), 
to which we shall revert presently. Besides being 
a great religious and political meeting-place, 
Skiringesall was also a noted staple or market, 
and this was why it was probably visited by the 
famous navigator Othere, or Ottar, in the ninth 
century, whose story has been written by King 
Alfred (See Bosworth's edition, 46, note 53) From 
its repute as a market came, no doubt, the fact 
that the name ^' Kaupangr," ^.e., a cheaping or 
mart (reminding us of Cheapside) is still applied 
to two farms on the so-called Yiggs Fiord. 
The Yiggs Fiord and Sandy Fiord were formerly 
united by a creek running from Siavagaristra 
(now Sogrist in Thioling parish) to Eid (Eidet). 
This creek converted Skaerid, near Skiringesall, 
into an island. It is now a peninsula called 
Lande, separating the two fiords. Close by, 
again, is an island which in the Red Book, dating 
from the end of the fourteenth century, was called 
Thorsoy, i.e. Thor's island. The mart at Skiringes- 
all was doubtless supplanted by that at Tunsberg 
(Snorri ed. Aal, op. cit., xlix. note. Magniisson 
Heinskringla, iv. 277 and 278). With Hetheby, 
in Jutland, Skiringesall, formed a twin haven, 

*' Harald hairhair'' and his Ancestors. 59 

where .the mercantile world of the North met, 
and where, doubtless, at special times, fairs on 
a large scale were held. At Hkiringesall, as Munch 
says, there, no doubt, assembled traders from 
widely separated districts, Helgelanders and Prus- 
sians, Thronders, Saxons, and Wends, Danes and 
Swedes. There were exchanged, cordage made of 
walrus hide, and peltries from the far North, 
amber from Prussia, costly stuffs from Greece and 
the East, Byzantine and Arabic money, bangles 
and brooches of silver, and richly decorated armour 
and weapons. Let us now go on with our story. 

As Halfdane was an old man when he died, and 
was the successor of Olaf, the victim of Ivar 
Vidfame, it is almost certain that he himself was 
the contemporary of Ivar's successor, Harald 
Hildetand, who ruled both at Upsala and also at 
Lethra. Halfdane's territory was a very consider- 
able one, and, as the representative of the senior 
line of the Yngling race, he no doubt had, a 
prestige far surpassing those Norwegian rulers who 
were still independent. 

By Asa, his wife, already named, Halfdane 
had two sons, Eystein and Gudrod. The former, 
as we have seen, had married the daughter and 
heiress of Eric, the ruler of Westfold. He 
succeeded his father in Raumariki and Westfold, 
and lived to a great age. It is equally probable, 
therefore, a priori, that Eystein w^as the contem- 
porary of Sigurd Ring, and the Sagas, in fact, 
as we shall now see, bring the two into contact. 

Arngrim Jonsson, who, in 1596, published a 
well-known work, entitled " Eegum Danorum frag- 
menta ex vetustissimis Norvegiorum commen- 
tariis historicis Islandorum, translata," has a 
very curious fragment on the death of Sigurd 

6o Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

King, which Vigfusson says is evidently taken 
from another manuscript of the Skioldunga than 
that from which the Sogubrot comes. This 
fragment enables us to complete the incident at 
the close of the ordinary version of the Sogubrot. 
In the latter we read that " when Sigurd was 
very old, he happened to be in West Gothland 
in autumn, dispensing justice amoug his people, 
when the sons of King Grandalf — i.e.^ his brothers- 
in-law — went to ask his assistance against King 
Eystein of Westfold. At this time the sacrifices 
were being oJffered at Skiringesall, which it was 
the custom for the people of all Yiken to celebrate 
there." At this point the " Sogubrot " breaks off. 
The fragment preserved by Arngrim, which is 
translated into Latin, tells us that on the death of 
his wife Alfhilda, the mother of Ragnar Lodbrog, 
Sigurd determined to find himself a fresh wife. 
Having, therefore, set out from his province of Vestra 
Gotia {i.e.^ West Gothland), he went to Skiringes 
all in Yikia {i.e.^ Viken), in Norway, to attend 
the solemn sacrifices which were at that time 
being carried on there, and he saw a beautiful 
maiden named Alfsol, daughter of Alf, king of 
Vendil, and having seen her was determined to 
secure her, notwithstanding that the gods were 
unwilling. She had two" brothers, named Alf and 
Inguo, from whom Sigurd asked their sister in 
marriage. They refused to give the young maiden 
to the old greybeard. Sigurd was enraged that 
he, such a great king, should be thus thwarted by 
the sons of a petty chief. He threatened them 
with war, but, on account of the solemn sacrifices 
then going on, had to postpone his vengeance. 
Presently he prepared an armament to punish 
them ; and, as they were too weak to resist him, 
they gave their sister poison. In the struggle 
which ensued they were both killed. Sigurd King 

'"'■ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 6i 

himself, however, was so badly wounded in tlie 
struggle that his end was clearly seen. He ordered 
the bodies of the two brothers to be put in a ship, 
which he himself mounted, and lay down in the 
poop with the corpse of the beautiful Alfsol. The 
ship was charged wirh inflammable matter, it was 
set on fire, and he held the rudder himself as the 
wind blew it out to sea. The crowd on the strand 
was greatly moved tliat he, the author of so many 
crimes and the master of so many kingdoms, 
preferred to visit Odin with regal pomp, after the 
fashion of his ancesters, rather than pass away into 
senile imbecility. Before setting sail he had made 
himself a mound on the strand as a memorial of 
himself. This was called Ringshaug. Munch 
says a place called Eingshaug is still to be found in 
the parish of Slagn) north of Tunsberg (Vigfusson, 
Sturluiiga Saga, Prolegomena, xc, note. Munch, 
op. cit. ii. 81 and 82, notes). One thing to be 
remembed from these notices is that they point to 
Sigurd Ring having had a potent position in 
Norway at this time, when he probably, in fact, 
held the hegemony of Scandinavia. 

If Sigurd be the Sigifrodus of the Frank 
Chronicles, as has been often argued, and as I have 
a strong conviction he was, we may place his death 
approximately about the year 800. He is last 
mentioned by name by Eginhardt, in the year 798 ; 
while in 804 we meet with his successor Godfred, 
as king of the Danes. 

Let us now continue our story. I would 
tentatively suggest as probable that Eystein, 
against whom Sigurd Ring went to war in his last 
days, did not long survive his rival, but died 
shortly after. We will now set down what the 
Ynglinga Saga has to say of him. It tells us that 
in his time " there lived at Yarna a king named 

62 ' Saga" Book of the Viking Society ' 

Skiold, who was a great wizard. King Ey stein went 

with some warships to Varna, and plundered there, 

carrying away what he could of clothes and other 

valuables, and of the peasants' stock, and killing 

their cattle on the strand for provision, and then 

went off. King Skiold came to the strand with his 

army just as Eystein was at such a distance over 

the fiord that the former could only see his sails. 

Then he took his cloak, waved it, and bl-ew iirto it. 

King Eystein was sitting at the helm as they sailed 

within the larl soy, or Earl's isle, and another ship 

was sailing at the .side of his, when there came a 

stroke of a wave, by which the boom of the other ship 

struck the king and threw him overboard, which 

proved his death. His men fished up his body, 

and it was carried into Borro, where a mound was 

thrown over it upon a cleared field out towards the 

sea at Yodle " (Ynglinga Saga, li.). Thiodwolf's 

verse reads thus in Vigfusson's translation : — 

" King Eystein, struck by the boom, went to Hel"^ 

and the Washer of Blades is now lying under the 

bones of the sea (i.e., the stones) on the beach, 

where the icy cold Wadle Stream, runs into the 

bay close by." 

In regard to the various localities in this notice, 
the name Varna, Vaurno, or Vorno, denoted, in 
early times, not only the farm Vaerno, but com- 
prised the ecclesiastical district of Rygge. as far as 
Kambo, with the exception, perhaps, of Joeloen. 
At early as the thirteenth century the knights of 
St. John of Jerusalem built a hospital at Varna. 
Munch says this foundation is still called Waerne 
(Op. cit., ii. 138, note 1). The Earl's Island, or 
larlsoy, is on the opposite side of the Christiania 
fiord in Vingulmark. It is still called Jaerso, 
and is near Tunsberg. . Borro, or Borra, now 

*" The Maid of Byleists' brother,' 

** Harald Fairhatr'* and his Ancestors. 63 

called Borre, is situated about a Norwegian mile 
north of Tunsberg. Vadle is now called Void, 
and is a farm near the fiord, close to Borre, where 
the mounds of Eystein and his son still remain. 

On Eystein's death he was succeeded by his son 
Halfdane, known as the Mild, and the Bad Enter- 
tainer. This was because, though he was lavish in 
giving his men gold, which he distributed as pro- 
fusely as other kings did silver, yet he starved them 
in their diet. We are told he was a great warrior 
who had been on viking cruises and had collected 
great property. Munch suggests that he was the 
same Haldane who was sent as his envoy by King 
Sigfred (i.e., Sigurd King) in 807 to the Frank 
emperor, but this is very improbable. The later 
kings of Westfold and their descendants were at 
deadly issue with the Scioldung family, and were 
not their familiars. Again, the envoy Halfdane 
was father of Harald Klak, and, if so, was 
himself the son of another Harald, and, as I have 
argued, was the son of Harald Hildetand. 

In the text of the Ynglinga it is said that 
Halfdane the Mild took Eystein's kingdom after 
him. He married Hlif, the daughter of King Day 
of Westmere. His chief manor was Hottar in 
Westfold, and he there died in his bed and was 
laid in a mound at Borre (Ynglinga, ch. lii.) close 
to his father. Let us now turn to Gudrod, 
who was the son of Halfdane Whitefoot, and a 
brother of Eystein, and not a son of Halfdane the 
Mild, as some have thought. We are expressly 
told that Halfdane Whitefoot had two sons, 
Eystein and G-udrod (Ynglinga, ch. xlix). 

The Ynglinga Saga gives Gudrod the surname 
Mikillati {i.e., the Magnificent) also Veidhikonge 
{i.e.,, the Hunter) ; the latter name also occurs in 

64 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

the " Historia NorvegiBe," where he is called " Gun- 
thodus rex Yenator," some reminiscence, probably, 
of his fame as a sportsman. In the " Langfedgatel " 
Gudrod is surnamed Gofuglati i.e.^ the Magnani- 
mous). In several of the genealogies he is styled 
hinn Giafmildi (^.e.. Very Beneficent). In the 
"Mantissa," or , supplement to the " Landnama," 
he is called Gudrod Leoma (^.e., Splendoris). 
These various synonyms are evidence of the im- 
portant position he filled (Vigfusson, i. 271). It is 
curious that the Monk of St. Gallen, in reporting 
the death of Godfred (which he, strangely enough, 
states took place on the river Mosel, during his 
invasion of the Empire) says further that he was 
killed by his son, ivUpm about to release a ducli from 
a falcon^ in revenge for the wrong he had done his 
mother in taking another wife (Pertz, ii. 757). 

Gudrod's wife was Alfhild the daughter of 
Alfarin of Alfheim, in the maritime district on the 
east of the Wik, between the Raum elf and the 
Gaut elf, and with her he got as a dowry one 
half of Yingulmark. Their son was Olaf, after- 
wards called Geirstadalf. When she presently 
died, we are told, Gudrod sent messengers to 
Harald Redlip, King of Agdir, to ask for the 
hand of his daughter Asa, but was refused. He 
thereupon launched his ships and went with a 
great host to Agdir, where he arrivM unawares, 
Harald, nevertheless, dared to face his powerful 
assailant, but the odds were too great, and he was 
killed, together with his son Gyrd. Gudrod then 
carried off Asa, whom he married, and by her had 
a son named Halfdane (Ynglinga Saga, ch. 1.). 

Gudrod had succeeded to a great heritage from 
his father, and was no doubt the most potent 
ruler in the' North in his time. 

^^ Harald Fair hair'* arid his Ancestors. 65 

I long ago identified him with the Godfred who 
was the contemporary and rival of the Emperor 
Charles the Great. I did not then know that Munch 
had already published this conclusion. 

I will remit the evidence to a note at the end 
of this paper. Meanwhile I shall take it for 
granted that the identification is a reasonable one, 
and shall proceed to record his doings, and those 
of his sons, outside of his own lands. I shall first 
epitomize what had happened in the further lands 
of the Empire in previous years. 

In the year 777 Charles the Great (more widely 
known as Charlemagne), invaded Saxony with an 
armament, to punish the Saxons for repeated 
rebellions and the slaughter of his garrisons. 

The pomp of his surroundings and the strength 
of his forces cowed them, and he marched through 
Westphalia and held a general assembly at Pader- 
born, at the sources of the Lippe, where he built a 
fortress at Eresburgh, not far from where Drusus had 
planted his stronghold. A great crowd of Saxons 
were baptized and did homage, one only of their 
chiefs, the most redoubtable and dangerous of them 
all, whose real name was probably Withmund, but 
who is generally known by his nickname of Witikind 
refused to bend his neck, and fled with his followers. 

The annals of Lorsch tell us that he fled to 
Northmannia {in partilus Nortmanniae), while in 
the annals of Eginhardt, the biographer of Charles 
the Great, we are told that he went to Sigifridus, 
the King of the Danes. 

Sigfred and Godfred are German forms of the 
Norse names Sigurd and Gudrod, and I have long 
held that this Sigfred was no other than the famous 
Northern hero — Sigurd Ring. 

The Battle of Bravalla, in which Sigurd Ring 
defeated his uncle Harald Hildetand and sup- 

66 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

planted him, as ruler of Sweden and Denmark, was 
a notable struggle. It has been hypothetically 
dated by Kunlk and others about the year 775. 
After this struggle Sigurd was acknowledged as 
^' Imperator," or over chief, of the greater part of 
Scandinavia, and he filled that position for some 
time. His reign, therefore, coincides exactly with 
that assigned to Sigifridus in the Frankeil annals, 
and the identification of the two rulers as one 
person seems quite reasonably. 

Eeturning to the annals: about the year 781, 
the Emperor, having meanwhile put down some 
fresh outbreaks among the Saxons, sent St. Willchad 
to plant Christianity in Wigmodia, the district 
between the Elbe and the Weser, where Bremen 
afterwards stood ; this mission was a partial success, 
and thus was the faith first carried to the borders 
of the Danish land. 

In 782 Charles held another great assembly 
on the Lippe, which, we are told in the Lorsch 
Annals, was attended by envoys from king Sigfred, 
namely, Halbtani and his companions. In two 
late copies of the Lorsch annals, one of the Fulda 
annals and in the chronicle of Eeginon the name 
Godfred is wrongly substituted for Sigfred, while 
Eeginon, who was not remarkable for his accuracy, 
calls the envoy Altdeni and gives him a companion 
whom he calls Hosmund, which is not a Norse but 
a Saxon name and which he has apparently made 
by misreading the word sociils in the earlier 

Pertz rightly insists that we are bound by the 
testimony of the oldest copies of the Lorsch 
annals and those of Eginhardt, which were contem- 
porary. The name of the envoy was no doubt the 
well known Norse name Halfdane. He was 
doubtless a person of moment, and possibly a 

'* Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 67 

relative and the deputy of Sigurd Ring, in Jutland, 
and was not improbably sent to enquire what was 
the meaning of the ambiguous movement on his 
borders, and whether it meant the planting there 
of an advanced post of the Empire from which 
the land might be menaced. 

The assembly was followed by another revolt of 
the Saxons under Witikind, in which the Frank 
garrisons in Saxony, were again slaughtered, and 
the Christian missions in Friesland, and the young 
Church there were desolated. These outrages were 
punished ruthlessly by the beheading of 4,500 
Saxons. The Emperor now began a policy of trans- 
planting large bodies of Saxons to other parts of 
the Empire and replacing them by Slavs. 

The year 792 is marked, m the Biography of 
Charles by Eginhardt, by the ominous sentence that 
" the Emperor left Aachen " (Aix Chapelle, as the 
French call it) in March and made a journey 
along the maritime district of Gaul and Germany, 
which was infested by Normans, who were called 
Danes {contra Nortmannos qui Danos vocantur) 
and he ordered a special fleet to restrain them. 

The next year is notable for the first attack 
made by the Northmen on Britain {vide infra). 

In 797 the Franks employed their new fleet for 
the first time and punished the Saxons beyond the 
Elbe (Annales Eginhardti ad an). The next year 
the Saxons from the other side of the Elbe killed- 
some Frankish envoys who had been sent to obtain 
a redress of grievances, and also put to death 
another one who had the Slav name of Godescalc, 
i.e., Gottschalk. They had been sent by the Emperor 
to the Danish king, who is again called Sigifridus 
i.e., Sigurd, by the Chronicler Eginhardt. This is 
the last time he is named, and it is remarkable that 

68 Sag a- Book of the Viking Society 

for the next few years there is no mention of the 
Northmen in the Frankish annals pointing to its 
having been a turbulent period in their land. When 
a northern king is next mentioned, he is called 
Godfred and it is most likely that Sigfred had died 
soon after his last mention in the chronicles. 

The interval between the years 797 and 804 is 
a blank in the Frankish Chronicles as far as the 
Northmen is concerned, and it no doubt corresponds 
with great changes among them. Sigurd's great 
victory over his uncle Harold Hildetand had no 
doubt prostrated all rivals. According to all the 
traditions he left an only son, Ragnar Lodbrog, 
whose story is one of the great enigmas of early 
Northern history. He probably succeeded to only a 
small part of his father's kingdoms, and became 
famous not as a great territorial ruler, but as the 
greatest of the Vikings. 

Meanwhile, his relatives, the sons of Harald 
Hildetand, asserted their pretentions. One of 
them, Eystein, became King at Upsala and in the 
Saga of Ragnar Lodbrog, the latter is made to 
have a struggle with him. Another son, Thrond, 
is named as the ancestor of an Icelandic family in 
the Landnamabok. This family was named Odd- 
werja and to it belonged Saemund Frothi. The 
descent is thus given. Harald Hildetand, King of 
Denmark, the father of Hrcerck Sloengvand-bauga, 
the father of Thorolf Wagane, father of Wemund 
Ordhlokar, father of Walgard, father of Rafn the 
Fool, who emigrated to Iceland from Throndheim 
(Landnamabok ed., Vigfusson, v. 3.1). I believe 
that a third one was the Halfdane, who was sent as 
an envoy to the Emperor by Sigurd, as w^e have seen. 
He was apparently the ruler of Jutland under him, 
and on his patron, Sigurd's death, apparently 
sought refuge from the Emperor. 

'* Harald Fairhair^^ and his Ancestors, 69 

The death of Sigurd King also gave an oppor- 
tunity to a stronger person than any of the sons 
of Harald Hildetand, namely Gudrod, who also 
possessed a wider kingdom and a larger fleet. His 
position in Viken, looking straight upon Jutland, was 
a powerful vantage, nor could he forget that Westf old, 
the focus of his kingdom, was recently held by a 
ruler who also governed at least Northern Jutland 
(vide ante), nor that he had a heavy debt to exact 
from the person who, I take it, was then its ruler ; 
since his predecessors had expelled his own from 
their ancient heritage. I have no doubt that he 
used all his advantages and proceeded to drive out 

This is strongly confirmed by a curious and 
neglected entry in the narrative of the anonymous 
Saxon poet, who for the most part follows Eginhardt, 
but who here records the very interesting fact, not 
mentioned by the latter, that Halfdane, the leader 
of the Northmen, and with him a considerable force, 
submitted to the Emperor and tried to enter into 
a perpetual pact with him. 

Interea N orthmannorutn dux Alfdetti dictiis 
Augusto magna sese comitante caterva 
Subdidit atque /idem studuit firmare perennem, 

(Poeta Saxo, Pertz, i. 263). 

This admission to the Empire of a great 
Northern chief with a considerable following is 
hardly a probable event, unless he was in fact an 
outcast from his own country, and it is significant 
that his disappearance from Jutland is coincident 
with Grudrod's appearance there. I suggested long 
ago that it is quite probable that the Emperor 
granted Halfdane an appanage in Friesland, where 
Harald Klak, who was probably his son, received 
one some years later. This was quite consonant 
with the policy of the Franks at this time, which 

70 - Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

was to play one of the frontier rivals against 
another, and to embroil his neighbours, while a 
feudatory Norse chief in Friesland would be a good 
fence against his countrymen's piratcal attacks. 

We are told by both Eginhardt and Keginon 
that in the year 804 " Godfred, the Danish King " 
went with his fleet, and all the army of his kingdom, 
to Sliesthorp (i.e., the far-famed mart of Schleswig, 
on the Schlie. Eginhardt, in his biography, ex- 
plains that the enmity {iniviicitia) of the Northmen 
arose from the appropriation of the Saxon land 
beyond the Elbe by the Franks. A very notable 
encroachment of this kind was made by the latter in 
the year 804, when, according to the Chron. Moiss- 
iacense, the inhabitants of the three gaus or 
counties of Wigmodia, Hostinga and Eosoga, which 
formed the later diocese of Bremen, were transported 
and their lands largely made over to the Slavs 
called Obotriti. From this time the district 
of Wagria became a Slav land. According to 
Eginhardt, Godfred had promised to attend the 
Imperial diet, but was restrained by the counsel 
of his own people. This not very friendly mood 
seems to me to point to some change of policy 
and to strengthen the view that he was 
himself an intruder into Jutland, which probably 
he appropriated at this time. The Emperor 
who was at Hollenstedt, south of Harburg, sent 
some envoys to treat for the return of fugitives 
(probably Saxons). 

No doubt Gudrod would hesitate before making a 
direct attack on the Frankish forces, when they were 
in strength in Saxony, and he doubtless had in view 
an attack upon some of their allies, and especially 
the hated Slavs who" had been introduced into what 
he deemed his borders without his permission, and 
against whom he had made due preparations. These 

*' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors, 71 

lasted some time, but we are told that in 808, while 
the emperor was at Aachen, Gudrod and his men 
marched against the Obotriti. Charlemagne sent 
his son Charles to the Elbe with an army of 
Franks and Saxons, with orders to resist him if he 
attempted to cross the Saxon frontier. Gudrod 
ravaged the borders of the Slavs, captured some 
of their fortresses, drove away Thrasco, one of 
their chiefs, hanged Godelaib, another, made 
the two sections of the Obotriti tributary, and 
also destroyed their emporium on the coast, called 
in the Danish tongue Eerie. This, as we are 
told by Adam of Bremen, was the site of the old 
Mecklenburg, near Wismar, and its inhabitants were 
afterwards known as Reregi : " T>einde secuntur 
Ohodriti qui nunc Beregi vocantur et civitas eorum 
Magnoyolis'' (Adam of Bremen, Pertz, ix. 311; 
Ann. Laur. 808 ; Chron. Moiss., ib. Ann. St. Amandi, 
p. ii). Gudrod carried off its merchants, and im- 
posed a heavy tribute on the Obotriti (Eginhardt in 
Pertz, i. 195 ; Kruse, 46.) I have small doubt that 
this expedition has been confused by the author of 
the longer saga of Olaf Trygvason (copying Saxo), 
with the campaign against the Friesians in 810, 
and by the " Islandic Annals," and that they have 
converted the emporium Reric into a Hraerek or 
Rurik prince of Friesia, who is quite unknown to 
the contemporary Frank annalists. This campaign 
cost Gudrod some of his best men, and among 
them, according to Eginhardt, was Reginold, his 
brother's son, who was killed wdth many Danes in 
attacking a town. The '' Chronicon Moissiacense," 
calls him Gudrod's nephew, and the first in the king- 
dom after himself (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 195 ; Chron. 
Moiss., Pertz, ii. 258 ; Kruse, Chron. Norm., 46, 48). 
To oppose the attacks of Gudrod, Charlemagne's son, 
Charles, crossed the Elbe into Lauenburg, marched 
in the direction of the modern Lubeck, and having 

72 Sagd'Booik of the Viking Society. 

devasted the lands of the Linones and Smeldingi 
(Slavic tribes which had gone over to Gudrod), he 
once more recrossed the Elbe. According to one 
ingenuous writer, his expedition was by no means 
altogether a success, for he lost most of his men 
(Lesser Annals of Lorsch, Pertz, i. 263 : Kruse, 
49, 50.) G-udrod had been assisted in his campaign 
by the Wiltzi, another Slavic tribe, the eastern 
neighbours of the Smeldingi and Linone^, who were 
ancient foes of the Obotriti. They returned home 
with a considerable booty. Gudrod himself, after 
his campaign, sent his fleet round to Schleswig, 
marched his army there, and proceeded to build a 
mound along the northern shores of the Eider, 
from one sea to the other. This was pierced by a 
single gateway for the passage of men and mer- 
chandise. After dividing the work among his 
chiefs he returned home. This mound was 
according to Worsaae, probably not the cele- 
brated Dannewirke (that having been traditionally 
connected with another Danish king, namely, 
Gorm the Old), but rather an older and ruder 
mound which still runs along the Eider. The 
making of a mound by Gudrod is, however, 
distinctly mentioned in the Annales Islandiac, and 
it is there expressly called the Danewirke. The 
larger mound ran from the termination of the 
Schley inlet (Selke Noer) as far as Kurburg, or 
perhaps to Hollingstette. It is 20 feet high, and 
the narrow entrance mentioned by the annalist is 
situated near the village of Little Danewirke, now 
called Ost Kalegat (Kruse, 48 ; Chron. Moiss, p. 48). 
Having heard that the emperor was displeased at his 
campaign against the Obotriti in the previous year, 
Gudrod, in 809, sent him envoys asking him to fix 
a convention beyond the Elbe, where explanations 
might be given. Such a convention was held at 
Badenfiiot (probably the village now called Baden- 

"' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 73 

Heth, on the banks of the Stur — Kruse, 50, note). 
This convention was apparently not very effective 
in huuibUng the Danes, but, on the contrary, we find 
that directly after, Thrasco, the Duke of the Obo- 
triti, and the 'protege of the Franks, surrendered 
his daughter as a hostage to Gudrod. This was 
probably to secure his neutrality in the war which 
he was then pressing against the old enemies of 
his people, the Wiltzi, and from which he returned 
with a great booty. He afterwards, with the 
assistance of the Saxons, captured the chief town 
of the Smeldingi, ^.e., Mollen. 

When the emperor heard of the arrogant 
behaviour of the Northern king, he determined to 
build a fortress beyond the Elbe, and having 
collected a number of artificers in Gaul and 
Germany, he sent them thither under command 
of the Saxon Count Egbert. I have else- 
where in a paper in the Numismatic Chronicle 
on the coinage of Egbert, King of England, 
identified him with this Count Egbert. The 
former was certainly living at the Court of Charles 
the Great at this time and his name is very 
specially an English one. Esesfeldt was fixed upon 
as the site of the fortress It has been identified 
by several inquirers with Itzehoe on the Stur. 
Mannert (Gesch. der alt. Deuts., i. 486), would place 
it on the site of Gluckstadt at the mouth of that 
river. We are told it was occupied by Egbert on 
the Ides of March. 

Meanwhile Thrasco, the chief of the Obotriti, 
was treacherously killed by an emissary of Gudrod's 
at Eerie (Eginhardt, i. 196, 197 ; Kruse, 51), which 
may have been meant as a counter blow. He was 
probably considered a too faithful friend of the 
Franks to be well disposed to the Northmen. These 
acts were hardly a gauge of peace. We next read 

^4 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

how Godfred, i.e. Gudrod, at the head of 200 ships, 
fell upon Friesia, devastated its coasts and islands, 
and fought three battles with the Fresians, whom 
he made tributary, exacting a sum of 100 pounds 
of silver from them, after which he returned home 
(Einhardt, Pertz, i. 197, 198 ; lb., Vit., Car. ch. 14, 
17 ; Poeta Saxo, v. 403, 404; Fulda Annals, ib., i. 
354, 345 ; Kruse, 53, etc.). This may have been a 
blow against Halfdane who, as we have seen, was 
then probably the emperor's feudatory there. A 
curious fact is cited by Depping to show to what 
straits the Friesians were at this time reduced. He 
quotes an old law by which a captive Friesian, who, 
in the service of the Northmen, should attack a 
village, violate women, kill men, or burn houses, was 
not to be punished when he returned home ; it being 
held that he was not a free agent, but only doing 
the bidding of his exacting masters. Another law 
authorised mothers to dispose of the property of 
such of their children as were carried off, showing 
how hopeless their return generally was. 

We at all events find that the throne of 
Jutland was immediately occupied by one who 
courted the friendship of the Franks, while the 
SODS of Godfred escaped beyond the water — 
assuredly this means their withdrawal to Westfold. 

Saxo, as I mentioned in a previous page, tells 
us that, when Godfred exacted tribute from the 
Friesians, he made them throw their money into 
the hollow of a shield and guessed from the sound 
whether it was good coin or no. Miiller throws 
light on this story from some rather ghastly 
features of the old laws of the North in reference 
to compounding for punishment ; thus he tells us 
how, by the law of Sialand (Lib. ii. cap. 39), two 
pieces of money {prer) were to, be paid in cases 
of wounding, for each bone out of the wound which 

'^ Harald Fairhair*' and his Ancestors. 75 

made a sound when thrown into the hollow of a 
shield. (" Hwaert hen i mulltigh shiaelder thaer 
botaes twa orae foraeT) This almost incredible 
provision is repeated in the Friesic laws (Ed. 
Gaertner. Addit. Sapient, tit. iii § 24) in the 
following words : — " ]^i ossa de vulnere exierint 
taiitcE magnitudinis^ ut in scutum j actum XII. 
'pedum spatio distante homine possit audiri, tin urn 
ter IV. solid, componat, aliud ter duohus, tertium 
ter una solido.'' The same occurs again in the 
Kipuarian Code, tit. Ixx. § 1 (See Miiller, op. cit. 
251). What was true of bones was transferred to 
the coin paid, in Saxo's narrative, and perhaps also 
in the popular traditions which had reached him. 
In the law just cited, the person testing the sound 
was to stand twelve feet off. In Saxo's narrative 
this has grown greatly, for he tells us Godlred had 
a building erected 240 feet long, containing twelve 
rooms of equal size, in the innermost of which sat 
the royal tax-collector, while the shield was placed 
in the one at the other end of the building. Saxo 
also tells us that when Godfred conquered the 
Saxon chiefs (this, as we have seen, is an 
unwarranted assertion) he imposed a tribute of a 
hundred white horses, which were to be paid on the 
accession of each king. Miiller explains that in the 
middle ages it was customary to use white horses 
in solemn processions, as when homage was done ; 
and that it is not improbable some Saxon chiefs 
may have done homage to the Norse chief and 
offered him a present of white horses (Op. cit. 251). 

Saxo has another story about Godfred of the 
usual type in which he has borrowed the incidents 
and the facts from other sagas, and the only interest 
of which is the local colour which he has pre- 
served. In this he tells us that Godfred was 
famous not only for his prowess but for his 

7^ Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

liberality, and he was no less clement than strong. 
At this time, he says, Goto, i.e., Gautr, the king 
of Norway was visited by Bero, and Eefo 
(Eefr means a fox), from Thule, who presented 
him with a bracelet of great weight. The by- 
standers thereupon declared that Goto's generosity 
was unsurpassed. Kefo however, who, notwith- 
standing the present, was disposed to be candid, 
declared that Godfred, whom he treats as a 
Danish king, excelled him in this quality. UlvuS, 
i.e.., Ulf, who was nettled at this, thereupon 
preferred a wager to Eefo to go and test 
the Danish King. Eefo accordingly set out, 
and found Godfred seated on his throne dividing 
prey or booty among his soldiers. On being asked 
what his name was he answered that he was a 
little fox. This aroused the laughter of some and 
the admiration of others. ''A fox," said Godfred, 
" ought to take its prey in its mouth," and thereupon 
detaching his bracelet he tried to insert it in Eefo's 
proffered lips. The latter placed it on his arm and 
showed it, decorated as it was with gold, to all pre- 
sent. Meanwhile he hid the other bracelet which had 
no ornament on it so that it might not tempt Godfred 
into another act of generosity, but that his gift should 
be spontaneous. He was delighted, not only with 
the value of the gift, but at having won his wager. 
When Godfred heard of the bet and how it had 
been won by accident rather than by design he was 
more delighted than Eefo himself. The latter 
returned to Norway to obtain the wager, which 
being refused, he killed the king there and carried 
off his daughter as a prize to Godfred (Saxo i. 435). 

This story has been shown by Miiller in his 
Notae Uberiores to Saxo, to have been transferred to 
Godfred (a supposed Danish king) from another God- 
fred altogether, for the Saga occurs in an Icelandic 

'■*• Harald Fairhair" and his Ancestors. 77 

recension. As Miiller says, Saxo's narrative 
shows it is an epitome. In the first place, two 
Thylenses, Bero and Eefo, are mentioned by him 
as taking part in the adventure ; but Bero speedily 
disappears from the scene altogether, and Ulvo is 
introduced without warning as if he had been 
already described. Nor does Saxo explain how the 
quarrel arose between Eefo and Goto, his former 
benefactor, which led to his carrying off his 

In the much longer Icelandic legend (Forn. Sog. 
iii. 40 — 53) the story is more consistent. According 
to this account, Kefo, or Giafa Eefr, who was the 
son of a rich Norwegian peasant, born on an island 
in the north of Norway called Jadria, spent his 
youth in great squalor and indolence. Being scolded 
by his father, he expressed his willingness to leave 
home if he might take with him the thing his father 
most valued. To this the father consented, and he 
accordingly led away an ox whose horns had been 
decorated with gold and silver and been united 
by a silver ring. 

This ox he took as a present to Nerio, or Nerius, 
iarl of the Uplands, a prudent, and a very firm 
person, who was his father's patron. Nerio accepted 
the gift, presented him in return with a be- 
coming garment, and also with a gilt shield. Eefo 
having observed that Nerio directly after repented 
of having parted with such a rich shield, he 
willingly returned it again. Nerio was pleased 
with this, and gave Eefo a touchstone (coticula)^ 
and bade him go to Gautric, or Gotric, king of 
Gothland, who, after the death of his beloved wife, 
was accustomed to assuage his sorrow by hawking. 
He was to seize the opportunity when the king, 
was sitting alone on a mound and was looking for 
stones with which to excite the hawks, and then he 

78 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

was to slip the touchstone into his hand. Kefo 
duly performed his task and slipped the stone into 
the king's hand, who, in return, gave him a golden 
bracelet. Eefo now returned to Nerio, and spent 
the winter with him. Again, on his persuasion, he 
went to Ella, king of England, and presented him 
with the bracelet. 

Ella in return, gave him a ship laden with mer- 
chancise and furnished with sailors, and, in addition, 
gave him two beautiful Melitaean, i.e.^ Maltese dogs, 
which Eefo in turn gave to Eolf Krak, who repaid 
him with the gift of a laden ship, as well as a 
decorated helmet and corslet of singular fabric. 

The helmet and corslet he presented to Olav, a 
sea king who had command of eighty ships, and 
who offered in return to let Eefo have the use of 
them on some occasion. Having put himself at 
the head of these, he set out against king Gotric, 
to whose generosity he owed his subsequent good 
fortune, and compelled him to adopt him as his 
son-in-law. Nerio, by whose counsel Eefo had acted 
in these matters, now deemed that he had in some 
measure repaid him for the ox he had given him. 

This Saga agrees with the story told by Saxo 
in the names of two of its chief actors, Gotric and 
Eefo. Saxo, could not well introduce Eolf Krak, 
king of Denmark, nor Nerio, chief of the Uplands, 
into his story without making it incredible, and in 
appropriating the story he had to make some 
sacrifices to consistency and he apparently con- 
verted the name of Nero or Nerio into Bero. Some 
of the incidents in Saxo's narrative, and its 
terminating phrase about Eefo's journey to Sweden, 
prove, perhaps, that he had before him a more 
perfect copy of the Saga in some respects than i^ 
extant in the Icelandic edition. 

" Hurald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 79 

The story, however, is quite a fabulous one, and 
full of anachronisms, Eolf Krak and Ella, King of 
England, i.e., of Northumbria, being brought into 
contact. Ella seems to have been a generic name for 
English kings among some Icelandic Saga-tellers, 
and its occurrence causes difficulty as is well a 
known in explaining the Sagas about Kagnar 
Lodbrog. Another anachronism of a very patent 
kind is the bringing of Thylenses or Icelanders- into 
contact with King Godfred. Iceland was not 
discovered till long after the latter's reign. 

Returning to our main story it is strange to read 
the notice of the preparation of the Frankish forces 
to meet the attacks of the Saxons, and their 
march towards the Rhine mentioned in the same 
paragraph with the death of an elephant which 
had been sent as a present to Charlemagne by 
Aaron, the King of the Saracens, i.^., by Harun- 
az-Rashid, the Khalif of the Arabian Nights. 
The Franks marched towards the Alar, and at 
its confluence with the Weser, they awaited 
the attack of the Norsemen, who had boasted 
loudly of their intentions after the Friesian war. 
They did not, however, come, but news arrived 
that Godfred had been assasinated (Eginhardt, 
Pertz, 197, 198), assuredly an abrupt and tragical 
phrase. The Chronicle of St. Gallen says the 
deed was done by one of his sons in revenge 
for his having deserted his mother in favour of 
another wife (Pertz, ii. 757). 

The Ynglinga Saga has a different story. It 
says that when his son Halfdane was one year old 
and another son Olaf was twenty, Gudrod went on 
a round of visits. He lay with his ship in Stifia- 
sund, and there was heavy drinking, and having 
drunk hard he got very tipsy. His ship was 
connected with the shore by gangways. When 

8o Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

it was dark, he went ashore and had got to 
the end of the gangway when a man ran a spear 
into him and killed him. The man was instantly 
put to death, and in the morning it was discovered 
that he was Queen Asa's foot-boy, nor did she 
conceal that it was done by her orders. In Thiod- 
wolfs versicles as edited by Vigfusson we read : 
" Gudrod the Magnificent (in Gaofoglati), who 
lived long before, was struck down by treason, and 
a deadly hatred long nursed, drew treachery upon 
the King, upon the drunken prince ; and the 
traitorous messenger of Asa won a murderous 
victory over the King, yea the prince was 
stabbed to death on the ancient bed of Stiflasund" 
(Vigfusson Corp. Poet, 1.250 note). 

Saxo merely says that Godfred was the victim of 
the treachery of one of his dependents, which agrees 
with the story told in the Ynglinga, and is another 
proof that the Godfred of the Franks and Gudrod 
were the same person, and, if so, the Frank Annals 
are witness that he died in 810. In the annals of 
the so-called Rykloster we read that when he had 
defeated the Emperor and laid waste Saxony he 
was thrust through the body. 

Gudrod's Norwegian possessions stretched from 
the modern Folda, along the shores of the 
Christiana fiord as far as the Miosa lake and 
the Kandsfiord, and thence directly south as far 
Kygiarbit. They reached eastward as far as 
Soloer and Wermeland inclusive. 

The death of so great a chieftain would have 
caused a great gap anyhow, but it was made 
greater by the misfortunes or perhaps the incompe- 
tence of his eldest son Olaf, (who was only twenty) 
and who succeeded to most of his possessions in 
Norway. In Jutland he was succeeded, we are 

*' Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 8 1 

expressly told, not by either of his sons, but by 
Hemming. Eginhardt calls him his brother's son 
(Pertz, i. 197). We shall return to him presently, 
meanwhile a few words about Olaf The later Saga 
of Olaf Tryggveson calls him a brother of Godfred, 
but this cannot weigh against the contemporary 
Frank annals, while Saxo makes him his son. 

This seems to be a mistake, and to have 
arisen from a confusion between Halfdane, the 
brother and predecessor of Gudrod, and Halfdane, 
the deputy of Sigurd Ring in Jutland, who 
was a 'protege of the emperor. It is most un- 
likely that Gudrod, who had sons of his own, who 
as we shall see were very active at this time, 
should have been succeeded by his nephew, and, as 
we shall see presently. Hemming was really a son 
of another Halfdane, who belonged to a rival 
family to that of Gudrod, and which had been 
driven from Jutland by himself, had recovered 
it on his death. In this way only can we explain 
what happened 

The new king came to terms with the Empire, 
and in a treaty made between them in 811 the 
Eider was acc'epted as the frontier between the 
two kingdoms (Helmold, Kruse, 58). Steenstrup 
argues that this was not the North Eider, or 
Treewe. This is the Danish view, the German 
view as maintained by Waitz, Simson, and 
others is that the boundary was the Treewe. 
Thus the border district occupied by the Transal- 
bingian Saxons, with the Obotriti of Wagrien, over 
which Godfred had exacted a kind of suzerainty, 
were surrendered to the Franks. This treaty was 
concluded at a conference held on the Eider, in 
which ten chiefs on the side of the Franks were 
met by an equal number of Danes. 

82 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

In a letter from Pope Leo, the names of the 
Franks are thus given :— 1. Count Walach, son of 
Bernhard, that is Walach or Wala, afterwards Abbot 
of Corbey, cousin to Charlemagne (and son of his 
uncle Bernard, by a Saxon mother) ; whom he had 
sent against the Lombard King Desiderius (Simson, 
Jahrbuch, 466 and note 5). 2. Count Burchard ; who 
was mmei^ stabuli to the Emperor, and was sent 
by him, in 807, with a fleet to Corsica to fight the 
Moors (Eginhardt sub an. calls him missus donnni). 

3. Count Unroch who was sent into Dalmatia ; he 
was the grandfather of the Emperor Berenger, 
(Einh, sub an. 817, Sims., 466 and note 5). 

4. Count Wodo, or Odo, doubtless the Odo legatus 
mentioned in 810 as the commander of Hohbuoki 
(Eginhardt annales Pertz i, 197). 5. Count Megin- 
hard, i.e., the father of Eberhard the Saxon, who was 
killed in 881 by the Norsemen. 6. Count Egbert 
(already named as the founder of a fortress across 
the Elbe and probably the later King Egbert of 
Wessex). 7. Count Theotheri, w^ho was doubtless 
the same person sent as an envoy to the Danes 
with Kruodmund in the next reign. 8. Count 
Abo, probably Abbio, who was baptised with 
Witikind, {Annales Lauriss. and Eginh. sub anno 
785 ; Kruse, 62). 9. Count Ostdag, doubtless a 
Saxon. Count Wigman, a Saxon, mentioned in 
939 (Pertz, i, 619). On behalf of the Danes the 
deputies were thus named : — Two brothers of 
Hemming named Hancwin (probably a corruption 
of Hakon, Dahlman, I., 25) and Augandeo (Aug- 
antyi', ib.), and the following chief men : — Osfred, 
styled Turdimul (? from Islandic tutinn thick, 
and muli mouth, Dahlmann 25), Warstein (this 
name also occurs in the Landnama bok, Y. Powell) : 
Suomi ? and L'rm, and another Osfred, the son 
of Heilig (i.e., Helye), and Osfred of Sconaowe, 

^^ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 83 

^.^., of Scania, and Hebbi, (reminding us of 
Hubba Y.P.), and Aowin (Eanwind, i.e., Onwend). 
The names are given by Eginhardt in their 
Frankish form (Pertz. i. 198-9, suh an. 811. 

We are told that peace was sworn according to 
the method of the Danes. 

The Emperor now divided his army into three 
sections ; one was sent into IVittany, another into 
Pannonia, and the third crossed the Elbe into the 
country of the Slavic Linones, which restored the 
fortress of Hohbuoki, destroyed the previous year 
by the Wiltzi. Charles himself went to Bononia, 
i.e., Boulogne, where the ships he had ordered to 
be built the year before were assembled. He 
restored the pharos there, doubtless that which 
had been built by the Roman Emperor Caligula ; 
and caused the nocturnal fire to be relighted. 
Eginhardt speaks of it as antiquitus constitutam. 
He then went up the Scheldt to Ghent {in loco 
qui Ganta vocatur), where he inspected another 
fleet, and in the middle of November returned 
to Aachen, where there came Aowin and Hebbi, 
two envoys of the king (Hemming) bearing gifts. 
While the Emperor thus extended a civil hand to 
the Norsemen, he carefully prepared more effica- 
cious defences for the coasts. 

The Frankish chronicles here introduce us to a 
fierce struggle. Sigfred, i.e., Sigurd, (who by 
Eginhardt is called the nephew of Godfred), and 
Anulo the nephew or grandson (nepos) of Harald 
who was formerly king (that is, of Harald Hilde- 
tand) ; in this battle we are told that 10,940 
men fell. 

Anulo is translated Ringo by Saxo and in the 
longer life of Olaf Trygveson, which at this point 
apparently follows him, it has been supposed by 

84 Saga-Book of the Vikivg Society. 

some that by him Sigurd Ring was really meant, 
while it is almost clear that the latter had been 
dead some years. 

Who then was Anulo ? He was clearly a pre- 
tender. The name Anulo is conjugated Anulo 
Anulonis, and has apparently nothing to do with 
Annulus as Saxo thought. It is probably some 
form of a Norse name. Munch suggested that 
it stood for Aale, formerly Anli, Saxon Anlo, 
(op. cit., ii. 153, note 2). 

I have suggested that he was the son of 
Halfdane (above mentioned as having had authority 
in Jutland) and the brother of Hemming 

As I read the difficult story, the fight which 
occurred, took place between some relative of 
Gudrod, possibly a son, named Sigurd, and the 
family of Haldane whom Gudrod had expelled 
from Jutland. The {)arty of the former won the 
fight, and that that of Gudrod which had been in 
possession of Jutland, and had expelled Hemming, 
was defeated and driven out. We are told by the 
Frankish writers (whose story at this time is not at 
all clear), that both Sigurd and Anulo were killed 
in the battle. What seems plain is that the party 
opposed to Gudrod's interests, and who were his 
heirs, won the day,. It was fought in 812, and the 
number of casualties shows that it was a despeiate 
struggle and a huge strain on such thinly peopled 
countries as the Scandinavian lands. 

The next few years were occupied with a per- 
sistent struggle in which the sons of Gudrod and 
those of Haldane, took a part and in which the suc- 
cess was intermittent on either side. The general 
result was the great set-back of the new Nor- 
wegian kingdom, which is not disguised by Ari's 
phrases about the courage and manliness of Olaf, 
the King of Westfold, and probably accounts for 

^ Harald Fairhair'" and his Ancestors. 8:: 

the virtual silence of the Northern Sagas on the 
details of the struggle for which we have to turn 
to the Frankish historians. It is curious that even 
these do not mention the particular names of 
the Norse chieftains at this time, and only refer 
to them as " the sons of Godfred." Of their 
opponents it only mentions two, namely, the two 
brothers Harald and Keginfred, the sons of Half- 
dane, who fought against the Emperor's proteges 
and dependents. 

Olaf, according to the Ynglinga Saga, wasv a 
great warrior, and was yery handsome, strong, and 
large of growth. This is an astounding statement, 
for it is immediately followed by the most complete 
confession of disaster that was perhaps ever 
recorded in such a few sentences. It tells us that 
the very wide dominions, which had been conquered 
by Olaf's father and grandfather, were reduced 
to the small districts of Westfold and Westmar (the 
latter being named as his in the Flatey-bok). 
Meanwhile King Alfgar of Alfheim took all 
Vingulmark (part of which had been ruled over by 
Olafs father) and placed his son Gandalf over it, 
after which the father and son reduced the greater 
part of Raumariki. On another side Hedemark 
and Soloer with Thoten and Hadeland were 
recovered by Hogne, son of Eystein the Great of 
the Uplands. Hauk Erlendson, in his account of 
the Kings of the Uplands, and the Flatey-bok, with 
whom Munch agrees, say this last conquest was 
made by Eystein, son of Hogne, and grandson of 
Eystein the Great (Ynglinga Saga, ch. 54; Munch, 
154). Wermeland was also conquered by the Swedish 
king. Meanwhile, Gudrod's widow Asa, ruled 
over Agdir, in the name of her young son Halfdane. 

It is not to be wondered at that Gudrod's sons 
also lost their hold on Jutland, which the two 

86 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

victorious brothers Harald and Reginfred appro- 

We are told that in the same year they sent 
envoys to make a pact with the Emperor, and to 
ask him to send them back and to release their 
brother Hemming, shewing he was still living 
(Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 199); he was doubtless the 
same Hemming, who died in Walcheren, as I shall 
show presently, many years later, and is there dis- 
tinctly called the son of Halfdane. The next year an 
imperial conventum or council was held at Aachen, 
where at the request of their king [i.e., Hemming), 
it was determined by the Emperor to send sixteen 
of the Frank and Saxon chiefs across the Elbe to 
ratify a peace with the Danes. They accordingly 
went, and met sixteen of the latter. They took with 
them Hemming, and returned him to his people. 
His brothers were at this time absent with their 
army, and had gone to Westarfold, which region 
we are told lay beyond their kingdom between the 
north and west, and looking towards Britain 
(Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 200). Steenstup and his 
followers have tried to claim that Westarfold was 
some obscure place in Denmark, but as Pertz, i. 
200, note 17, and Kruse have argued a view which 
is also Simson's, the expression domi non erant, 
shows they were not then in any part of Denmark 
(Simson, 521 note). It was clearly the district 
of Westfold in Norway, which looks towards 
England, and was the very homeland of Gudrod 
and his people, and then subject to the rival 
family of Inglings. We are told the two 
brothers reduced the chiefs and people of 
Westerfold to obedience (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 200 ; 
Kruse, 69). • 

The same year, i.e., in 813, Godfred's sons 
returned from exile with not a few of the chief 

** Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancesiors. 87 

Danes who had left their country {relicta palria is a 
most suggestive phrase) and had sought refuge 
among the Swedes. They also collected a large 
body of people from all parts of Denmark, who 
had joined them etiam regno iion multo eos labore 
pepulerunt. They were api)arently welcomed by 
a large number of their father's folk, and fought 
against the two kings and drove them and their 
brother Hemming out (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 200 ; 
Chron. Moiss., id i. 3) 1 , ii. 259). Meanwhile, Karl 
the Great died on the 28th of January, 814 
{See the fine account of his death and burial in 
Hodgkin, Invaders of Italy, vii. 200, etc.). His 
strong arm and vigorous policy had preserved the 
empire from ravage. The garrisons he fixed on 
the coast, the guardships he had built on the rivers, 
the heavy hand he laid on marauders had restrained 
the pirates of Denmark and the Saracens from too 
daring attacks, But even these precautions had 
not entirely availed. Already the bold seamen of 
the North had coasted round the peninsula, and 
entered the Mediterranean, and the monk of Saint 
Gallen relates how the Emperor one day, when in 
one of his southern ports, saw from the walls the 
ships of the Northmen in the distance, and 
although they dared not beard him, he is said to 
have lamented for the fate of the empire and for 
his descendants (Pertz, ii. 757, 758). 

It is convenient at this point to refer to a 
mythical story which has deceived many people, 
(including myself, in former days), about a supposed 
paladin of Charlemagne known as Olger the Dane, 
the alleged hero of many adventures. A certain 
Otger, who was one of Charles' marcMones^ is 
mentioned by the Monk of St. Gallen, in his life of 
Charles ; also in the Ann. Lob., 771, and the C'hron. 
Moiss. in 773), but he is not call a Dane by any of 

8S Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

them. The first reference I can find to an Olger 
"the Dane" at this date attributes to him the 
rebuilding of Saint Martin's Church at Cologne 
after it had been burnt by the Saxons in the 778, 
and is contained in the so-called Chronicle of 
St. Martin, a forgery of the Monk Legepont, 
and dating from the 18th century. 

Between the years 814^ — 19 the monastery of 
St. Filibert on the island of Noirmouttier was 
sacked by the Norsemen. (The island was also 
called Hermutier = Heri Monasterium ; Herio or 
Heri being the name of the island on which it 
stood.) ; it was south of the Loire. Depping (i. 67, 
68) tells an anecdote referring to a fresh prevision 
of calamity at this time : Liudger, a scholar of 
Alcuin's, had been a youthful missionary among 
the Westphalians and Friesians. He also wished 
to go among the Northmen to reclaim them to 
Christianity, but the Emperor, who had made 
him Bishop of Munster, would not permit him. 
His influence among the Friesians was too 
valuable for his life to be risked on such a 
dangerous errand. Liudger, too, saw the dangei* 
that loomed in the future. Depping tells how he one 
night dreamed that clouds came from the north, 
covered the face of the sun, and threw a gloom 
over the earth. " I shall not see it," he said to his 
sister, " but you will ; " and truly, as his biographer 
says, they came frequently after he was dead, and 
ravished the land mercilessly {Altfridus vita sancti 
Liudgeri, lib. ch. 2, &c., Depping, 68, note). These 
calamities did not come at once. The first suc- 
cessor of Charlemagne was quite equal to defending 
his frontiers, however incapable he was of man- 
aging his household. He was a soldier as well as 
a scholar. The Avars and the Saracens had both 
tested his prowess before his father's death and 

^^ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 89 

after he was crowned at Rheims by Pope Stephen 
himself, the ICniperor Louis received lordly em- 
bassies from Nicephoros, Emperor of Byzantium, 
and the Khalif Abdurrahman, the rulers of the 
two strongest empires of his day. It is not strange, 
therefore, that the Northmen respected his borders. 
Their intestine quarrels continued, however. In 
814 the two kings Harald and Keginfred who had 
been expelled by the sons of Godfred, and had 
sought shelter among the Obotriti, collected an 
army and returned the next year to the "attack. 
In the fight that ensued, Reginfred and the eldest 
son of Godfred are said by one authority to have 
been killed (Chron. Moiss, an., 813). The leport 
about Keginfred is doubtful however, since Adam 
of Bremen says distinctly thai he took to piracy 
(Gest. Hamb. Ecc. Pont, i. 17; see vii. 291, note 54). 
The Ynglinga Saga says the same of Olaf, the 
elder son of Gudrod. The invaders were evidently 
defeated, for we are told by Eginhardt that Harald 
repaired to the Emperor and acknowledged his su- 
premacy {se in manus illius comynendavit—Egxwh^vdt, 
Pertz,i. 201 ; Kruse, 72, 73). He apparently asked 
for help in recovering Jutland. He was told to 
return to Saxony (Saxony beyond the Elbe is doubt- 
less meant) and to wait awhile, when he might hope 
for assistance. The Emperor gave orders that the 
Saxons and Obotriti should prepare to assist him. 
It was proposed to advance while the rivers were 
still frozen, but a sudden thaw broke them up, and 
the expedition was postponed till May 815. The 
combined troops, led by the Imperial legate 
Baldric, then crossed the Eider and advanced 
seven days' journey into the Danish district called 
Sinlendi, i.e., the Sillende of Other (Kruse, 73 ; 
Simson says Sinlendi, east of Schleswig, Jahr- 
bucher III., i. 52, note 6), without doubt the later 

90 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Schleswig. They went as far as the coast, where they 
entrenched themselves. Godfred's sons meanwhile 
retired to an island three miles off the mainland 
(Kruse suggests the island of Alsen, op. cit. 74 ; 
he follows Leibnitz, but Simson, Dummler, etc., 
suggest more probably, Funen). There they as- 
sembled a large army and a fleet of 200 ships. 
The Franks dared not cross arms with them, and 
contented themselves with ravaging the districts 
around, carried off forty hostages, and then 
returned to the Emperor, who was at Paderborn. 
Dahlmann makes out that the camp of the 
invaders was at Snogoi, opposite the town of 
Middlefart, in Funen, where the Belt is very 
narrow (op. cit., i. 27.)^ The Convention at 
Paderborn wished to settle the question of the 
eastern frontiers of the Slavs and Danes, and also 
the affairs of Harald (Simson, 53, xide Theganus, 
Pertz ii, 523, Einh. Ann. ; Pertz. i. 202). 

This expedition of the Frank Emperor seems 
utterly indefensible. To take the part of a fugitive 
chief who has been driven out of his country, and to 
invade and ravage that country with no substantive 
quari'el of one's own, is surely to attempt severe 
reprisals when opportunity arrives, and we need 
not travel far, when we find such policy in vogue, 
to excuse and palliate the cruel ravages of the 
pirates a few years later. Louis had no more right 
to intervene in the domestic quarrels of his neigh- 
bours than Napoleon in those of Spain. If it was 
then deemed good policy to sow discord among the 
frontagers of the empire by taking the side of 
fugitives and pretenders (a policy carried out with 
the Obotriti as well as the Danes), we need not 

* It would seem from the confused account in the Icelandic annals 
that Ragnar Lodbrog was thought to have been opposed to Harald on 
this occasion (Kruse, 75). 

" Humid Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 91 

wonder that such sowing should have led to a plenti- 
ful growth of ill-feeling on the part of the victims. 
To the diet at Paderborn in 815, went envoys from 
the Danes asking for peace (Theganus, Vit. Lud., 
Pertz, ii. 593). Louis was too strong to be 
attacked, nor was his strength tempered with 
overmuch courtesy, for we are told that in 817 the 
sons of Godfred sent envoys to him to complain of 
the continual attacks of his protege Ha raid, and 
ottered their own master's submission. In the Vita. 
Ludovisi (Pertz, ii. 621, 622), these messages are 
described as simulatu^ i e., dishonest and they 
were therefore rejected. Dahlmann suggests that 
the negotiations with the Slavs had reached 
Louis' ears (Gesch. von Dan, i. 2). It was deemed 
politic to neglect the news but further assistance 
was offered to Harald. About the same time, i.e., 
in 817, Sclaomir, who, on the murder of Thrasco, 
had been made chief of the Obotriti, was ordered to 
share his realm with Ceadrig, the son of his pre- 
decessor. Tl^is he resented, swore he would 
neither cross the Elbe again, nor attend the 
Imperial palace. He also sent envoys to God- 
fred's sons and invited them to invade Saxony 
beyond the Elbe (which had been granted to 
his people by Charlemagne). The Obotriti had 
hitherto been most faithful allies of the Franks, 
who styled them Slavi nostri qui dicu7itur Obotriti, 
(Chron. Moiss., sub an. 798, etc., etc., ; see Simson, 
i. 110-111, note-i.) They accordingly set out with 
their fleet, mounted the Elbe to Esesfeld, now 
called Itzehoe, and ravaged the borders of the 
river Stur. At the same time Gluomi, the 
custodian of the Norman frontier — (" Custos Nord- 
mannici limitis^'' as he is called in the annals 
of Eginhardt Pertz, i. 203, 204), advanced over- 
land to the same place, but retired before the 

92 Saga- Book of the Viking Society 

deterpiined attitude of the Franks. This was the 
first time, so far as we know, in which the North- 
men openly dared to attack an imperial outpost, 
Friesia being only an appanage at the most, and 
almost independent. 

We now read of a revolution in Denmark, 
which is not quite explicable. * This was in 819, 
and therefore two years after the previous mention 
of the Danes. Doubtless, as Simson savs, Harald 
had meanwhile kept up his attacks, assidua in- 
festatio Heinoldi says Eginhardt. In 817, we are 
told that Harald, having led his ships by the 
Emperor's orders through the land of the Obo- 
triti,^ returned to his own country, where he 
was well received by two of Godfred's sons, who 
agreed to share the kingdom with him. Other two 
sons, however, were expelled from the kingdom, 
Eginhardt adds, " sed hoc dolo factum putatur'^' 
that is by fraud (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 208 ; Kruse, 
78, 819). The meaning of this revolution, I 
presume, is that Harald, backed by the influence 
of the Frank Emperor, succeeded in planting his 
foot once more in his native land, not as a 
welcome guest, but as a traitor, whose presence 
w^as a daily insult to his neighbours. The question 
arises, who were these sons of Godfred ? About 
one of them there is no difficulty, the one who 
probably supplanted the rest, Eric, known as Eric 
the First. The other brother who shared hi^ 
realm with him was doubtless Reginfred. The 
brothers, who were excluded from Jutland, 

* It is not actually said that Harald led his ships, as the words have 
been translated, but rather that he conducted them through the land of 
the Obotriti, " reductus ad naves " is the phrase used. — Eginhardt Ann., 
Pertz, i. 208. How could he lead them overland ? Messrs. Warn,. 
Koenig & Gerard say he was conducted to his ships and then went by 
sea towairds his own country (op. cit., ii. 214). ' 

'* Harald Fatrhair'^ and his Ancestors. 93 

who had probably remained behind in Norway, 
and who shared the kingdom of Westfold, were 
not improbably Olaf and Halfdane, kings who 
were certainly sons of Giidrod. 

In 820, thirteen piratical ships made a descent 
upon the coast of Flanders (Eginhardt, .s'?/Z>. rf?^//.). 
They committed some damage and captured 
some cattle, when they were driven away by the 
coastguards ; aliquot casae viies inrensae, et par- 
vus pecoris nuynerus abactus est. They then 
repaired to the open low-banked estuary of the 
Seine. There they were attacked, and lost five 
of their number. Sailing on again, they once more 
landed on the coast of Aquitaine, at a place called 
Bundium by Eginhardt, and Buin in the Vita 
Ludovici, Ch. 33. Bonin, say Messrs. Warn & 
Ger, ii. 214, was on the island of the same 
name. Where this island really was is doubtful. 
Valesius & Leibnitz suggest St. Paul de Born, 
south of the Garonne, but this is contested 
by Pertz. Noirmontier or some island close 
by is perhaps meant. There they plundered 
effectively {vieo quodam qui Vyocatur Bundium ad 
integrum, depopulato^ Eginhardt Annales, Pertz, i. 
207), and returned home laden with an im- 
mense booty (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 207 ; Kruse, 79), 
and with abundant temptation to their hardy, 
poor, and adventurous countrymen to try the trade 
of buccaneering. As Kruse suggests, it is exceed- 
ingly probable that this expedition was led by the 
two sons of Godfred, who were driven away from 
home in the preceeding year (Kruse, op. 80). 
Simson (Ludwig der Frommen, 161, note 4), seems 
to suggest that it was on this occasion the 
Brotherhood of St. Filibert of Noirmoutier, which 
had often suffered from the pirates, built themselves 
a new monastry on the mainland, whither they 

94 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

returned in the summer when the sea was free 
from the pirates. But this was surely later ? 
Prevost (Ord. Vit. Vol., i. 158, note) says the 
monks passed the good season in the monastery of 
Dee, 10 miles from Nantes. 

During 821 the empire was not molested by the 
Danes, and Harald, we are told, lived peaceably with 
the sons of Godfred. H. Martin, Hist, de France, 
suggests they hgi,d ceded him a part of Jutland (op. 
cit. ii. 381, ed. of 1861 Warn & Ger., ii. 214). 
They were, however, only considered to be fair- 
weather friends to the empire, and Ceadrag, the 
chief of the Obotriti, was suspected of holding secret 
intercourse with them. Sclaomir, who had been de- 
tained at the Frankish court, was allowed to return 
home, probably with the intention of displacing 
him ; but on his arrival in Saxony he fell ill, and 
having been baptized, died (Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 207; 
Kruse, 80). In this year a Capitulary was issued, 
which provided in several clauses for the uniting 
of the slaves or villeins into Guilds for mutual 
protection against the Norman pirates, especially 
on the coast of Flanders ; See Sickel, 170. 

It was the custom of the Emperor to spend 
several months of each year in a tour of inspection 
of his dominions. As Palgrave well observes, the 
Carlovingian sovereigns knew their country well 
from constantly traversing it. " Travel and tramp 
are good teachers both of statistics and geography." 
In the Ghron. Moissense, 814, we have a notable 
entry about the Emperor Louis at this time. We 
read, that he planted garrisons on the seaboard 
where they were required — prcesidia ponit in 
litore maris ubi necesse fuit (see also Nigellus 
II., V. 157). On returning from his tour the 
Kaiser generally settled down at one of his palaces — 

'* Harnld Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 95 

Aachen or Niinvegen, Compiegne, Ingelheim, or 
Frankfort. There he received envoys from the 
dependent nations, and controlled the adminis- 
tration of his vast dominions. At the council held 
at Frankfort, in November, 822, envoys bringing 
gifts came from all the Eastern Slavs — from the 
Obotriti, Sorabi, Wiltzi, Bohemians, Marvani, {i.e., 
the Moravians), the Praedenecenti (i.e., the Obodriti, 
who lived near the Danube, close to the Bul- 
garians — Kruse, 83, note), and from the Avars, 
(Eginhardt, Pertz, ii. 209 ; Kruse, 83). The monk 
of St. Gallen adds that they took gold and 
silver as proofs of devotion, and their masters' 
swords as symbols of subjection ; but this is 
probably a rhetorical flourish. Among the rest 
we are told that Harald and the sons of Godfred 
also sent envoys to this conventum (Einhardt, 
op. cit.). Simson suggests that the peace between 
them was then at an end. 

We now arrive at a period when the Franks 
were seriously preparing to evangelize the country 
beyond the Elbe, a policy which, perhaps, more than 
any other brought upon them those flights of gad- 
flies, the Danish rovers, in the next age. We are told 
in Rembert's " Life of St. Anscarius " that about 
the years 817—819, Ebbo, the Archbishop of 
Rheims, fourth brother of the Emperor Louis, 
burned to call the heathen, and especially the 
Danes, whom he had frequently seen at the palace, 
within the Christian fold (vit. St. Ansch., Pertz, IL, 
2,699; Kruse, 79). His first efforts in this 
direction apparently took place in 822, when we 
read in the Fuldensian annals that he evan- 
gelized the race of the Norsemen (Pertz, i. 357 ; 
Kruse, 81) — that is, he probably had the gospel 
preached to such of Harald's people as had come 

96 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

within or near the Frankish frontier, or were living 
in Harald's part of. Jutland.^ 

The next year Harald attended in person at 
Compiegne, and complained that Godfred's sons 
threatened to expel him from the country. 
The Emperor determined to send the Counts 
Theothar and Hruodmund as envoys to them, 
to make inquiries on the spot^ and report to 
him. With them went Ebbo, Archbishop of 
Rheims, who on his return claimed to have baptized 
many (Enhardus, Fuldensian Annals, Pertz. i. 211 ; 
Kruse, 84). According to the monk Ermoldus 
Nigellus, - he also converted King Harald, and 
persuaded him to become a Christian. This is, 
doubtless, an exaggeration,, but he probably urged 
upon him the good policy of doing so. The Emperor 
seems to have been satisfied with his inquiries, for 
in 825 the envoys of Godfred's sons went and 
renewed their pact with the Empire, at a conventum 
held at Aachen. We are told that peace was rati- 
fied with them in October of 825, and that it was 
signed 'S'?i viarca eorum'' {i.e., on their march or 
frontier). It ^was this march or mark w^hich 
probably gave its name to Denmark, which 
merely means the march or mark of the Danes. 
The absence of perpetual attacks at this time shews, 
as Messrs. Warnkoenig & Gerard say, that these 
acts had really been acts of war (op. cit., ii. 296). 
Ebbo seems to have renewed his mission (see Rem- 

• Ebbo had gone to Rome in 822 and obtained a commission for this 
work from Pope Paschal. He was accompanied on his journey by Wilde- 
rich/ Bishop of Bremen. Halfgar of Kammerich, whom the Pope had 
designed as his companion, did not apparently go with bim. 
Dummler, op. cit., i. 259, notes 37 and 38. For his support while 
he stayed in Denmark the Emperor gave Ebbo the "Cell" of 
Welanao, the modern Munsterburg on the Stur, near Itzeoe (id.). He 
used it as a base of operations and a recruiting place, and we are told 
he often went there and prosecuted his labours in the Northern parts 
successfully (vit.AnsiJj, 13, 14, p. 697). 

*' Harald Fair hair'' and his Ancestors. 97 

bert, ch. 13 ; Dummler, Ost Franken, i. 259, note 
47). Up to this point Harald and Godfred's sons 
seem to have lived on fair terms. The next year the 
annual " conventum " was held in Charlemagne's 
palace at Ingelheim, where envoys went from the 
Obotriti and from Godfred's sons (Eginhardt, Pertz, 
i. 214 ; Kruse. 88). It was, however, famous for a 
much more important event. Harald, who had been 
driven out again by the latter, and was now 
a fugitive, deemed it prudent to adopt a new 
policy. He determined to be baptized, and to 
become a dependent of the empire. The story of 
the ceremony has been told in detail by the 
panegyrist of Louis, the monk Ermoldus, who 
was doubtless an eye-witness ; and a very graphic 
picture it is of the Imperial court of the early part 
of the ninth century. 

Eginhardt tells us how Charlemagne had built 
himself a palace at Ingelheim, a suburb of Mainz, 
close by the church of St. Alban, then outside the 
city walls. The palace overlooked the grand old 
river, the Rhine. The poet Saxo speaks of its 
hundred pillars — doubtless such as can still be seen 
in Charlemagne's Dom at Aachen; some were 
spoils of old Rome, and some of home-got granite. 
These shafts still survive (scattered however) at 
Ingelheim, Mainz, the monastery of Eberbach 
and at Heidelberg (Simson, Yit. Lud. 257), while 
some of the capitals of the pillars are in the 
museum at Mainz. Ermoldus describes the palace 
as ornamented with has-reliefs^ or paintings. He 
speaks in one place of the B>egia domus late per 
sculpfa ; in another, however, he uses the word 
pingitur as if they were painted, which is more pro- 
bable, Simson so understands it. In these paintings, 
or reliefs, the deeds of the great conquerors and 
legislators of old were represented — of Alexander 

98 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

and Hannibal, Constantine and Theodosius, etc. 
They were apparently based on Orosius, and in- 
cluded on one side Ninus ; Cyrus, whose head the 
Scythian queen was putting in a bowl of blood ; 
Hannibal, as he lost an eye in the marshes of 
Etruria, Alexander's great deeds and the foundation 
of Rome. On the other side were scenes from 
later history; the founding of Constantinople. 
Theodosius the Great, Charles Martel receiving 
the submission of the Friesians ; and Pepin of the 
Aquitanians : while on other slabs were represented 
the dealings of the mighty Karl himself (Karl with 
the sage front, as he is styled) and his conflict with 
the Saxons, — all rude enough, no doubt ; copies of 
crude works of the later days of the Western 
Empire, but (when hung about with the florid 
tapestries and hangings that came from the 
Saracen looms) impressive enough to the warriors 
of the Slavic and Northern marches (Simson^257.) 
Many small temporary dwellings were erected to 
accomniodate the visitors. There in his Aula 
Louis received the many-tongued and variedly 
dressed deputations of his friends and satellites. 
It was there also that in 826 Harald went with 
his wife and his son (one late writer, Hermann 
von Reichenau says sons, and Harald had certainly 
two sons, Godfred and Rodulf). He also took his 
nephew, or brother Rurik (probably his nephew) 
and a large body of retainers. The monk describes 
how when the fleet appoached, the Kaiser, who 
watched it from the battlements, sent Matfred, 
Count of Orleans, with a body of young courtiers to 
meet the Danes ; and with them some richly capari- 
soned horses. Haraldapproached the hall of audience 
mounted on a Frank horse. The poet also gives 
at length what he claims to be Harald's address to 
the great Emperor, inter alia., stating how he had 
been converted by the Archbishop Ebbo, and now 

** Harald Fatrhair'' and his Aticeslurs. 99 

wished to be baptized. The ceremony was per- 
formed in St. Alban's Chapel (Simson, i. 258, 
note). Louis was god-father to Harald, and decked 
him with his white chrism al robe; the Empress 
Judith did the same for the great Dane's consort ; 
while the young Lothaire, the Emperor's heir, was 
sponsor to Harald's son. With them were baptised 
four hundred Northmen of both sexes — ^romiscui 
nexus (" Annales Xantenses," sub anno 826). The 
Monk of St. Gallen does not directly refer to this 
ceremony in his notice. He says that not a year 
passed without some of the Danes being baptised, 
and declaring themselves vassals. On one occasion 
50 came, and there not being sufficient white robes 
for them, they had to be made quickly and rudely ; 
and our author reports how one of the northern 
warriors rejected his robe, saying. '' Keep your 
dress for women ; this is the twentieth time I have 
been baptized, and never before had I such a 
costume. If I were not ashamed to go naked I 
would leave your Christ and your garment to- 
gether" (Simson). This, as Dapping says, was 
probably a tale invented to amuse the courtiers 
at Ingelheim. After the ceremony the Emperor 
gave his ^protege some lordly presents, a purple 
robe fringed with gold, the sword that hung by 
his side, a golden girdle, golden bracelets for 
his arms, and a jewelled sash for his sword, a 
coronal for his head, his own socks of golden tissue 
and his white gloves. His wife was also duly 
decked by the Empress Judith with a tunic stiff 
with gold and jewels, a golden band to entwine her 
flaxen curls, a twisted golden collar about her 
neck, bracelets on her arms, a gold jewelled sash, 
about her waist, and a cape of golden tissue 
upon her shoulders ; while Lothaire presented his 
godson with garments of golden material. Their 
four hundred followers were also rewarded with pre- 

loo Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

sents of Frank robes (see line 397). When thus 
decked out they proceeded to the Dom, where 
priests and attendants were assembled, a picture of" 
glorious colour. We are told that among the 
grandees present were Clement, the head of the 
school; Theuto, the precentor, who ordered the 
singing of the choir of clerics ; while Adhalewi 
acted as Chamberlain and arranged the throng 
with his ferule in his hand, as they raised the 
alleluia. First came the young Prince Charles, and 
then amidst stirring strains the great Kaiser and 
his company paced up the church to the apse, 
the Abbot and Arch-Chaplain Hilduinon his right, 
the Imperial Chancellor, the Abbott Helisachar, 
on his left. Then came Gerung the chief door- 
keeper, with a staff in his hand and a golden 
crown on his head, then prince Lothaire, then 
the Danish king in chrismal robes, and the 
Empress Judith, conducted by Matfred, Count of 
Orleans and Hugo, of Tours, also wearing crowns 
and gold embroidered garments, then followed 
Harald's wife, and the Chancellor Fridugis, with a 
crowd of his scholars in white garments, lastly 
the rest of the people including the Danes, 
followed by the great nobles of the Empire clad in 
their state robes. 

Most imposing must such pageantry have been 
to ordinary eyes, but how much more to the 
homely experience of the Danish exiles ! We 
are told how the preacher raised his voice, and 
bade Harald convert the Danish swords and 
spears into ploughs and reaping-hooks — surely 
a cynical address in the presence of the war- 
loving Franks. It must have been a solemn 
sight when, placing his hands in those of the Em- 
peror, Harald commended himself and the realms 
over which he had such a shadowy hold into the 

** Harald Fairhatr'" and his Ancesiors. 10 1 

hands of his suzerain. South Jutland was 
formally at least added to the appanages of the 
empire. Once more the Frankish sovereign might 
claim the much honoured style of Mehrer cies 
Beichs, increaser of the empire (Palgrave, i. 258). 

After the state ceremonial came the feast, over 
which Petrus, the chief baker, andGunto, the chief 
cook, and Otho, the chief butler (no doubt honorary 
officers), presided, spreading out the napkins with 
their snowy fringes, and laying the victuals on the 
marble discs. Golden cups were used for drinking. 
By Louis' side sat his wife JuditH, the hated step- 
mother of his sons. 

After the feast the Danes were entertained at a 
royal hunt on one of the w^ooded islands of the 
Khine, and the spoil of bears, stags, wild boars, 
and roes was afterwards borne in, in state and 
divided among the courtiers and others, the clergy, 
as the old poet remarks, getting their due share. 
The Emperor, Empress, Lothaire, and Charles, 
Count Wido, and others were all there, and thus 
did the first Scandinavian chieftain of high rank 
formally forsake the faith of his forefathers 
and become a Christian. 

When Harald had declared himself *' the man " 
of the Kaiser, we read that after the manner of 
the Franks he was presented with a steed and a 
set of arms. He also received more valuable gifts, 
for we are told that the Emperor granted him the 
district of Eustri, a rich and extensive gau or 
Pagus, in Friesia, still called Rustringen or Butya- 
dingerland, in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburgh, at 
the mouths of the Weser and the Yahde (Vogel, 
Die Normannen, op. cit., 60). To this was 
added a vine-growing district, (" loca vinifera,'* as 
Ermoldus calls it), probably the district near 
Coblenz, Andernach, and Sinzig, which was after- 

loi Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

wards (namely in 885), claimed by Harald's son 
Godfred (Kruse, 95). Palgrave has a note on 
Charlemagne's cultivation of the vine in the Khine 
Valley. These grants probably had attached to 
them the condition that attached to other mar- 
graviates, namely, that of defending the borders 
of the empire against the Danes. At length 
Harald departed, accompanied by the monk 
Anscharius, with appropriate store of sacred vessels, 
vestments, and priests' books to convert the Danes 
to Christianity, and to subservience to the Empire 
(Palgrave, 1,257 ; see also a long note in Langebek's 
life of St. Anscharius, Langebek, Rer. Dan. Scrip., 
1,439). Ermoldus says that Harald's son and 
nephew remained behind as hostages (v. 629, 630). 

On Harald's return he was accompanied as I 
have said, by the monk Anscliar, the famous 
apostle of the North, and his companion Autbert. 
Their venture and that of Archbishop Ebbo, to 
which I have referred, were not the first missionary 
efforts in this direction. As far back as the year 699 
the English bishop St. Willibrord had made an 
ineffectual attempt to introduce Christianity into 
Jutland, but was repelled by the then king of the 
country, who was called Augandeo (Dahlmann, i. 30, 
note). He baptized thirty Danish boys, who he 
hoped would form the nucleus of a Christian 
community. Among these, tradition makes out 
was St. Sebald, who in the legend is called a son 
of a Danish king (Dahlmann, i. 30, note). 
These earlier efforts, however, seem to have left 
no fruit behind them, and Anschar may claim 
the honour of having been the proto-apostle 
of Scandinavia. He was born on the 9th of 
September, 801. Having lost his mother when 
he was five years old he became an inmate of the 
school attached to the Abbey of Corbey, on the 

" Harald Fairhair'^ aud his Ancestors. 103 

Soiiime, in Picardy, and was there ten years ; later 
he adopted the monkish habit, and when he was 
twenty was at the head of the school. In 823 he 
set out with other monks from the same abbey to 
work in Westphalia, where on the river Weser the 
Emperor Louis had built several churches and 
monasteries, and there he founded a " New 
Corbey " as a focus of missionary light. He had 
worked in Westphalia for three years, when he re- 
ceived orders from the mother monastery at Corbey 
to accompany Harald homewards. He declared 
his willingness to go, and was introduced to the 
Emperor, and supplied with the necessary articles — 
vessels, vestments, and books, together with tents 
and other necessaries, but with no servants, as none 
volunteered, and he did not wish to constrain 
any ; another monk named Autbert (as I have 
said), was his only companion (see for all this 
Simson, i. 256, 266). They were commissioned 
to take care the converted king did not relapse 
into his old ways, to instruct him further in the 
Christian faith, and also to preach to the 
heathen in Denmark. They had a wretched 
journey down the Ehine, past the lovely Rheingau 
and the Drachenfels, and suffered a good deal from 
the coarse, rude manners of Harald and his com- 
panions. Their condition was improved, when 
they were supplied with a separate vessel in 
which they could stow away their goods, by 
Hadebald, the Archbishop of Cologne. It con- 
tained two small cabins, a luxury unknown to the 
Danes. These took the king's fancy, and he 
transported himself into the Frankish ship, and 
took possession of one cabin ; but considerately 
left the other to the two monks. They afterwards 
gained his confidence and the respect of his people. 
They went by way of Dorestadt, i.e.^ W^k te 
Doorestede, which was an appanage of Harald 

I04 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

(Fulda Annals, suh ami, 850), and then by 
the Lech and the Maas into the North Sea. 
Coasting along the Friesic shore they arrived at 
the mouth of the Weser, where Harald's newly 
granted appanage of Rustringen lay, and then 
onwards to Harald's frontiers in the south of 
Schlesvig (Dahlmann, i. 38, 39). There Anschar 
began his evangelistic work. 

Let us now turn from the gorgeous ceremonial 
at Ingelheim, and its sequel (in which the exile 
Harald had so freely laid himself and his country at 
the feet of the Frank Kaiser), to Jutland and 
its then rulers. Jutland was a rugged, dreary 
land. Adam of Bremen describes it in the 
eleventh century as a huge waste of marsh and 
sterile land (" Porro cum omnes tr actus GermanicB 
Jiorreant saltibtis, sola est Jutland ceteris liorridior^^). 
Cultivation was confined to the river banks, and its 
farms were wide asunder ; the population were a 
rough, hardy and persevering folk, such as the 
Danes are still — fishermen and sailors, much 
attached to their old creed and customs, and ruled 
over in great part at this time, as we have seen, 
by the sons of Godfred. On its borders Anschar 
now started a school of about twelve boys, 
partially consisting of those redeemed from 
Slavery, and partly of those handed over to him 
by Harald to be educated (Dummler i. 261). One 
can well believe how unwelcome Harald and his 
Christian proteges would be to this free folk, for he 
was coming to tie their necks, impatient of 
restraint, to the triumphal car of the great 
Emperor, whose renown had reached their ears 
but whose yoke they had not felt about their 
necks. Nor can we wonder that Christianity 
coming under Imperial auspices — coming, in fact, 
as the pendent to the chains of subservience to 

^^ Ha aid Fair hair'' and his Anctstors. 105 

the Frank throne — should have been received with 
scorn by the bulk of the people, and that their old 
faith, which thus became a symbol of their 
freedom, should have been clung to with the long- 
enduring affection which it was by their neighbours 
the Saxons. 

In 827 we read that the Emperor held two 
general assemblies, one at Nimw^egen, the grand 
fortress whose fragments still remain and command 
the course of the Lower Rhine, and the other at 
Compiegne. The former was held to meet the 
washes of Eric the son of Godfred, w^ho had 
promised to attend i.t in person (Eginhardt, Pertz, 
i. 216 ; Kruse, 104). These promises are styled 
'^ falsas pollicitationes,'' which show that he did 
not go. The sons of Godfred (no doubt including 
Eric), in fact, expelled Harald once more from 
their borders ; (" de consortio regni " is the phrase 
in Eginhardt meaning, no doubt, from the 
joint kingship), so that he must have gone back 
to Friesia. This doubtless stopped evangelistic 
work in Denmark itself, but Anschar continued 
to teach at his school ; two years later he w^as 
abandoned by Autbert, who, no doubt, grew weary 
of his wretched life of suspense, and returned to 
Corbey, where he died after a long illness, appar- 
ently at Easter, 830 {id). We are told that in 828 
negotiations had been opened for mutual peace 
between the Danes and Franks and to arrange the 
affairs of Harald. A more likely story is told in the 
Vita. Ludovici, namely, that the Emperor wished to 
help Harald, and to make a treaty of peace with 
Godf red's sons, and sent the Saxon counts with him 
to open negotiations for the return of the latter to 
South Jutland (Pertz., ii. 621, 632). At this confer- 
ence nearly all the Saxon counts and the marquises 
or march guardians w^ere present. But while the 

io6 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

Saxon and Danish lords were treating, Harald, who 
was doubtless jealous of the peacemaking (which it 
was apparently arranged should involve the giving 
of hostages — Eginhardt, i. 217), went into and burnt 
some Danish hamlets. Godfred's sons thereupon 
naturally collected an army, crossed the Eider 
and attacked the camp planted on the other 
side, plundered it and drove the garrison away 
(Eginhardt, ih,, Kruse, 106). This was in 828. 
Such was the treacherous dealing which sharpened 
the spears of the Danes when they revenged 
themselves upon the cities of the Frankish 
empire some years later. They behaved meekly 
enough on this occasion, however, for we are told 
by Eginhardt that they sent envoys to the Emperor 
to explain how^ they had been driven to the course 
they took, and were now ready to make amends. 
The Emperor was satisfied and peace was renewed 
with them. This account of the transactions, for 
which we depend entirely on the Frank Chronicles, 
seems to point to a rebuff and a distinct blow to 
the prestige of the Empire, and so Simson reads it. 
A good proof of this is the panic which followed the 
rumour which was spread in June the next year, 
i.e. 829, that the Danes were about to invade Saxony 
and were approaching the frontier. Louis sum- 
moned the Franks from all parts to a general 
levy, and announced that he intended crossing 
the Khine at Neus in the middle of July. It was 
however, a false report. No envoys, came from 
the Danes to the conventum this year. (See 
Eginhardt, Pertz, i. 218). This is the last notice 
of the Norsemen by the great chronicler and 
biographer, Eginhardt. Their invasions at this 
time were clearly not piratical but legitimate 
warfare, and meant to create terror in the Empire 
and prevent its extending northward. They after- 
wards degenerated into piracy in consequence of 

''^ Harald Fairhair*' and his Ancestors. 107 

the successes of the Norsemen. Depping asserts 
that they agreed to admit Harald into their land, 
probably to share its govertiment, but I have not 
traced his authority, nor does this seem probable 
from other considerations. It is singular that 
in 829 and 830 there should be no mention of 
trouble with the Danes by the Frankish writers ; 
Hars^jld apparently continued at peace in his 
holding, and there is no hostile mention in the 
Frank annals till 834. They may have been raiding 
elsewhere, for we read that in 830 — the island 
of Herio in Brittany was placed under the special 
protection of Louis and Lothaire on account of the 
invasions of the Northmen (Kruse, 122). 

We now come to an incident which shows how 
Anschar's mission was more suspected politically 
than otherwise. While he had to do his missionary 
work from outside Denmark, envoys came to the 
Emperor from the Swedes, begging him to send 
some missionaries to their country. Sweden 
probably felt itself out of reach of the grasping 
Frankish empire, and could afford to trust the 
missionaries. Anschar volunteered to go. On his 
return thence in 831 it was determined to found 
a See on the pagan marches by the Elbe, whence 
the North might be evangelized; and he w^as 
accordingly appointed Archbishop of Hamburgh. 
He journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium, and 
was duly invested with the commission of apos- 
tolical legate to the Swedes, Danes, and Slavs. 
He busied himself with his work, and we are told 
how he redeemed boys from slavery among the 
Danes and Slavs, and educated them for the 
service of God — native presbyters such as our 
missionaries still find so useful in Africa and 
elsewhere. It is probable that few of the Danes, 
save exiles and their like, were much influenced by 

io8 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

his teaching. The converts were no doubt looked 
upon as political traitors and renegades, and their 
new faith was treated as a badge of their disloyalty 
as well as their apostasy. This nest of Christians 
on the borders of the Eider was a constant menace 
to the independence of the Danes, a mere imperial 
outpost at their very threshold. It was doubtless 
the feeling nursed by these circumstances, that 
caused Christianity and its professors to be so 
bitterly hated by the corsairs of a few years later, 
and made so many ruins of monasteries and 
churches. In our own day the same feeling led to 
similar cruel persecutions in Japan and China, 
where indifferentism and toleration in religious 
matters are tempered by a fierce jealousy of 
political propagandism. 

In 831 the Emperor held his third general 
placitum at Thionville (Theodonis mlla, called 
Diedenhofen by the Germans). Envoys went 
there to him from Persia (which seems a long 
way off), seeking peace. There also went others 
from the Danes (no doubt from Eric's subjects), who, 
having renewed their pact with the empire, returned 
home (Annales Bert. Pertz, i, 424 ; Kruse, 113). 
I have already remarked how the early Danish 
attacks upon the coasts of the empire were 
far from being mere individual acts of piracy, 
and were deliberate acts of war, differing from 
the contemporary wars of the Franks only in 
being sea fights and not land fights. This is clear 
when we consider that whenever there was peace 
between the Imperial ruler and the Danish king ; 
and envoys were exchanged, w^e read of no attacks 
on the coasts, but these only occur when there 
was a feud between the two powers. In England 
and Ireland matters were very different, as we 
shall presently show. The view here urged is 

''^ Harald Fauhair'^ and his Ancestors. 109 

supported by the further fact that the assaults 
upon the coasts of the mainland of Europe, when 
they recommenced, were directed not against the 
empire itself, but against the fief granted to 
Harald and his family. They continued, in fact, 
the long strife between the sons of Godfred and 
their rivals which we have traced out. 

There is good reason for believing that besides 
the gau of Kustringen, the greater part of Friesia 
and of modern Holland were under the immediate 
authority of Harald and his relatives {Theganus 
vita Hludovic Imp, Pertz, ii, 597 ; Kruse, 89) ; and 
we accordingly read that in the year 834 the 
Danes, {i.e., the Danes of Jutland), devasted 
a portion of Friesia* and having doubtless 
mounted the old course of the Rhine, now called 
the '' Oude Rhyn," they reached Vetus Trajectum, 
i.e., Utrecht, and then passed on to the great mart 
of those parts, which gave its name to the district 
— namely, Dorestadt. This was a famous trading 
centre where the Carlovingians had a mint, of 
which many coins are extant, and, according to 
the life of Anscharius, there were fifty-five churches 
and a crowd of clergy there. So. famous was it as 
a religious centre that pilgrims visited it like they 
did the most holy places elsewhere, and a church 
was placed as its emblem on its coins (Depping, 

* Friesland says Vogel, especially that part of it extending from 
the Vlie to Sinkfal near Sluis, in regard to trade and industry, was cer- 
tainly one of the most prosperous and progressive parts of the Empire, 
as well as one of the most fertile. With the exception of the Jews, the 
Friesians were the principal traders in Europe. We are told that the 
fairest portion of Mainz, then the great Mart where the trade routes 
from the Danube and Italy met, was inhabited by Friesians (A. Fuld, 
887). There were Friesian traders at St. Denis (Bouquet, v. 699 and 
vi. 466) ; Muhlbach 75 ; also at York (Altfridus Vit. Luidgeri i. 11 ; 
S. S. ii. 40). Friesic fabrics were well known as far as the East. 
Thence there came too weapons and other kinds of smiths' work from 
the Rhine and the Belgian towns, so especially did wine, not only 
for drinking but for the ritual of the church. Thither also came wool 
from England, furs from the far north, and spices from the Levant 
(Vogel. 66). 

I lo Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

81, 82). It was situated at the point where the 
Lech and the old Rhine diverge, and is now 
represented by the village of Wyk te Doorestede, 
the Vicus Batavorum of Tacitus (Depping, /oc. cz7.). 
It was doubtless the metropolis of Harald's 
dominions, and the great focus of light, learning, 
and wealth for all Friesia.f Here the Danes now 
committed great ravages, pillaging the town and 
slaughtering its inhabitants. They then passed to 
Kynemarca, i,e., the Dutch province of Kennemer- 
land, where they destroyed the church of St. 
Adelbert the Confessor ; cut off the head, as it is 
said, of the holy Jero at Niortich, i,e,, Noortwyk 
op Zee, and ruined the very strong castle of 
Aurundel, near Varenburg, i.e., the rude old castle 
at Voorburg, formerly called Hadriani Forum, 
near Leyden. They slaughtered a great number 
of the inhabitants, including Theobald and Gerald 
(doubtless two of the chief inhabitants), and 

t Its fame as a trading mart was wide spread. The annals of 
Xanten, under the year 834, call it Nominatissitnum Vtcum, Liudger, 
Vita. Gregorii abb Traject, C 5, S. S., xv. 71 speaks of it as vicum 
famosum Dorstad, see Urk., Karls d Gr. 8 June, 777, Muhlbach 21. 
Three great trade routes met at Dorstadt : — First that along the Rhine 
which connected Mainz with the outer world, and which also tapped the 
valley of the Danube and that which traversed Mont Cenis into Italy ; 
secondly, the English trade by way of the Maas and the Lech ; 
thirdly, the Scandinavian and Baltic trade which went along the Krum- 
man Rhine by Utrecht, through the Vecht, the Zuyder Sea and between 
the Friesian Islands and the mainland to Schleswig. It is unlikely 
there was in old times an opening from the Rhine for ships at Katwyk. 
The traders went to the North by the Vecht (See Berg. Geogr. Ned., 62, 
63) Dorstadt was one of the important stations where the excise dues 
were collected. In a document of the Emperor Louis dated June 831 ; 
(MuhlbaCh, 890) — relating to the City of Strasburg it is stated that its 
goods were toll-free except at Quentovic Dorestadt and Sclusae. Sclusae 
says Vogel does not mean Sluys but a place on the Mont Cenis route. 
This is a proof that the people of Strasburgh at that time traded 
between Lombardy, England, and Denmark (Op. cit., 66 and 67; for 
other references (see especially Passio. S. Frederici Episc. Tree, c. 19, 
A. SS., XV. 354). 

See also acts of St. Frederick, bishop of Utrecht and martyr (Dom 
Bouq., i, 339). These annals call them Danes ; the Annals of Xanten 
pagans ; while the Fuldea Annals call them Normanni. 

'^ Harald Fatrhair'' and hts Ancestors. iii 

carried off many of the women and children into 
captivity (Magnum Chron. Belgicum, ap. Fist. 65 ; 
Kriise, 119). Kruse says he does not know 
whence these details were derived, but does not 
doubt they are trustworthy. 

This attack was doubtless directed against what 
Eric and his people must have deemed the 
traitorous colony on his frontier, the pestilent pre- 
tenders to his throne, and the servile creatures of 
the Empire. It was repeated the next year when 
they again ravaged Dorestadt, whereupon the 
Emperor Louis, who held a council at Cremica on 
the Rhone, {in Stremiaco Kruse, 121, and note 3 ; 
Vogel, 69 says at Dramades) ; and was no doubt 
beginning to fear for his own borders, repaired 
to Aachen, and set the maritime or coast guards 
in order (Prudent. Trecen., Pertz., i. 429 ; Annales 
Xantenses, Pertz, ii. 226 , Kruse, 121). 

Prevost. (Ord. Vit. i. 158, note), says that in 830 
Louis and Lothairs authorised the construction of 
a fortified wall about St. Filibert's monastery — 
contra piratarum incursiones. Wala of Corbey 
was exiled to Noirmoutiers in 830, and released 
thence in 834, showing it was intact at the latter 

In 834 the monks of Noirmoutiers are said, 
in consequence of the invaders, to have left their 
island and monastery, taking with them the relics 
of St. Filibert, which had been seen there by Wala 
of Corbey when an outcast (Ann. Engol, 834 ; 
Ann. Aquit. 830; Pertz., ii. 252; xvi. 485; 
Dummler, i. 188 ; Simson ii. 129. 

On the 20th xlugust, 835. — Count Rainald of 
Herbauge {Arbatilicensis comes) ^ inflicted a severe 
defeat on the invaders Ann. Engol. 835 ; Chron. 
Aquit. 835, 836 ; Ademar, iii. c. 16 ; Tran. St. 

112 ^aga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Filibert, Mabillon, iva. 536. The Abbot Ermen- 
tarius in his account of the translation of the saint 
says the battle began at nine and went on to 
vespers, and the pirates lost nine ships, 484 of 
them were killed, and only one of the Franks. 
Some knights were wounded and many horses killed. 
He adds that Rainald himself was defeated in a 
fight in 843 against Lambert. It is not clear, says 
Simson, whether the count was victorious or 
not. The Ann. Engol. simply speak of the fight. 
Ademar says the Count was beaten, which is 
confirmed by the fact that Abbot Hilbod the 
year following sought protection for the island 
from Pepin, in Aquitaine. 

We are told that in 836 Hilbod repaired 
to Pepin, in Aquitaine, to ask for aid against 
repeated attacks of the Northmen. With the 
consent of the bishops, abbots, counts, and other 
faithful ones, it was decided that the bones of St. 
Filibert should be transferred to a safer place. On 
the 7tli June they were disinterred and taken to 
the Monastery of Deas on the mainland, whence 
they were moved to Burgundy in 875 (Simson, 
143, note 5). 

In the same year (836) the Danes (one account 
says, in conjunction with the Saxons, probably the 
Nordalbingians — Kruse, 125), once more ravaged 
Dorestadt and Friesia. On this occasion they burnt 
the town of Antwerp and a trading mart at the 
mouth of the Maas, which the chronicler calls 
Witla, and which Kruse identities, with some 
probability, with Briel (op. cit., 125) and imposed 
tribute on the Friesians. Then mounting the 
Scheldt, they reached the town of Doorne(Turinum), 
where was situated the monastery of St. Frede- 
gand. There they burnt and destroyed the 

'* Harald Fiiirhair^' and his Ancestors. 113 

monastery, killed part of its inmates, and. carried 
off the rest; l)iit the relics of the saint had 
meanwhile, been transferred to a place of safety. 
They then went to Mechlin, laid waste the 
church of St. Rumold, and devastated the 
town with fire and sword If we are to believe 
the life of St. Gommar, when the Danes came to 
that monastery and set fire to the roof, it was 
miraculously put out. This only increased the 
anger of the pirates, who broke into the church 
and killed the priest Fredegar at the altar. The 
same work goes on to say that as they bore off the 
booty to their ships, two of their chiefs, named 
Reolfus and Reginarius, came to an untimely end. 
lieolfus bui'st his stomach, and his l)Owels fell out ; 
and Reginaiius, being deprived of his sight, 
perished miserably. 

This story is derived from the life of St. Gom- 
mar, abstracted by F. Hara^us (Ann. Brabant, 
i. 67 ; see Langebok, i. 519 ; Krnse, 125). It is 
singularly interesting, and although we crave per- 
mission entirely to doubt the tale of the death 
of the two chiefs as related in it, there can be 
small doubt ts is an otherwise truthful record ; and 
the names, especially, I believe to be most 
authentic. I shall revert to them on another 
occasion. I would remark that in this invasion the 
Danes clearly overstepped the limits of the fief 
which had been granted to Harald, and crossed the 
imperial borders. In September, 836, Eric sent 
envoys to the 'placiturii which Louis held at 
Worms to tell the Emperor that it was contrary 
to his wish that his borders had been attacked 
and that he had had nothing to do with it, which 
as I beleive was true. Eric in fact complained 
that some of his own men had been put to 

114 Sagn-Book o^ ihe Vikivg Sociefy. 

death near Cologne. These envoys secured the 
punishment of the offenders (Prud. Tr. Pertz., 
i. 430 ; Depping, 83). Later in the year envoys 
again came from Eric asking for the " wehrgeld," 
or blood money, for the murdered Danes (Pru. 
of Tr. Pertz., i. 430; Simson, i. 430); Dumm- 
ler, i. 266, note. Prudentius thus reports the 
event. — i^cd ei Horih reoc Davorurn. per legator 
suoif in eodem placAto amicitiw aique, ohedieMtme cov- 
ditiones mandans, se nullatenus eonim import uni- 
tafihus assenswn praebuisse tes-tatus, de suorum ad 
imperatorem missoriwi intefectione coiiqueMu^ est, 
qui dudum circa Coloiiiam Agrippinam quoriivdaw 
P'wuwmptio'iie neenti faeraiit ; quorum jierem etiaw 
inrperator^ n/is'sia ad hoc solum legatis justissime 
vJtns est (Prud. Pertz. i. 430). 

In 837 we find the sea rovers again attacking 
the fief of the exiled Danish princes, and making a 
descent on the island of Walichra (i.e., Walicheren), 
where, on the 17th June, they killed Eggihard or 
Eckhart, the count of the district, and Hemming 
the son of Halfdane, who was, as I believe, the 
brother of Harald, " a Dane and a most Christian 
chief " as he is called by Thegan, {Ex stirpe 
Danonun dux Ghristianissimus). Thegan says 
an innumberable number of Christians with many 
grandees then fell, while others were captured 
and afterwards ransomed. The invaders also 
carried off many women and large numbers of 
different kinds {diversi generis) of cattle (Ann. 
Xantenses Simson, ii. 168, notes 1 and 2). They 
afterward again ravaged Dorestadt, and having 
collected black-mail, or tribute, from the Friesians 
they retired (Thegani vita Ludovici, Pertz, ii. 604; 
Fuldensian Annals, Pertz, i. 361 ; Prud. Tree, 
Pertz, i. 430; Kruse, 126, 127). Dorestadt had 

^^ Hiirald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 115 

been a rare mine for the invaders, and many 
coins struck there have been found in Scandi- 
navia (Depping, 83). On the news of this last 
invasion, the Emperor Louis, who had determined 
upon spending the winter in Italy, altered his 
plans and went to his palace at Nimvegen, not 
far from Dorestadt. There he held an inquiry 
into the conduct of those who had had charge 
of the coasts, and who explained that their 
forces had been too weak and had also been thwarted 
by their subordinates. He appointed certain counts 
and abbots to repress this insubordination, and to 
prepare a fleet to cruise on the coasts of Friesia 
(Pmd. Tree, Pertz, i. 430; Kruse, 127). The 
Fries ians had proved very lax in making prepara- 
tions and some officials were specially sent to press 
them to do their duty (see Prud. Tr.) But the 
weakness of the Empire was at its very heart. It 
was the quarrels and dissensions of Louis' sons 
which really gave rise to it. The old man, in his 
various schemes of dividing the empire so as to 
find a portion for the child of his old age, Charles, 
and of his second wife, Judith, aroused the jealousy 
and hatred of his other sons. 

In 838 the Eiuperor remained at Nimvegen, 
where he held his so called " May-meeting" in June, 
so as to overawe the invaders, and to repair the 
damage they had done in previous years. They did 
not make an attack this year; but, according to 
Prudentius, it was because their fleet was dispersed 
and destroyed by a storm — ortoque suhito maritim- 
oruni fluctuum turbine, vixpaucissiinis evadeiitihus, 
suhmersi sunt (Prudentius Tree, Pertz. i. 431, 432). 
While Louis was at Attigny, envoys went to him 
from Eric, saying that out of devotion to the Em- 
peror he had imprisoned the authors of the recent 
raids and had ordered them to be put to death {captos 

1 16 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

et interfici jussos) and asking that he would make 
over to hnn the country of the Friesians and the 
Obotriti. The former, as M. Kruse says, seems to 
hove been treated by the Northern kings as a depend- 
ence of their empire, and was so held especially 
by Godfred, the contemporary of Charlemagne ; 
while a section of the Obotriti were colonists 
settled at the instance of the great Emperor in 
the country of the Nordalbingian Saxons, who 
were also more or less dependent on the Danish 
sovereigns. This claim of Eric's proves that he 
was becoming a much more important personage in 
European affairs, and also that the Empire was 
rapidly weakening. It was treated, however, by the 
imperial authorities with contempt and disdain 
(Prud. Tree, Simson, op, cit., iii. 189). This 
year ships were built against the Northmen (see 
An. Fulden. ; also Ann. Bertin.) At a diet held at 
Nimvegen at the same time a great "relief" was 
distributed to the niaritime districts, which had 
suffered through the invasion of the Danes 
(Ann. Bertin.). Simson suggests that the de- 
mand was made to provide the wehrgeld for the 
murdered envoys and suggests a lacuna in the 
MS. ii. 189, note. 

The following year, i.e., in 839, Friesia was 
visited by its usual scourge (Prud. 839 : Quidum 
etiavi 'piratcE in qiiaiidcun Frisiae partem imienteH 
non partem incommodi nostris finihus intulerunt). 
As usual distinction seems to have been niade 
between this outlier of the empire and the empire 
itself, for the same year envoys went to the 
emperor from Eric, who were accompanied by the 
latter's nephew, doubtless Roric. They were gladly 
{Jiilariter) received and rewarded, and complained 
of the Friesians, (see Prudentius, Tr., ad. an., ajid 
Simson, ii. 217, 218). The emperor then sent 

** Harald Fatrhatr" and his Ancestors. 1 17 

envoys to Eric who secured, as was hoped by 
the Franks, a lasting peace ratified by oaths 
(iVi.— Prud. Tree, Pertz, i. 484—436; Kruse, 
183, 184). The Annales Ehion. Pertz., v. 12. 
say that in May, 839. Normanni in Walachria 
interfaerunt FrancoH — Dunimler, 188, note 19. 
This invasion is probably that dated wrongly in 840 
in the Chron. Norm. (Kruse. 140) ; and which ought 
to be under 839. Dahlmann argues that at this 
time Harald was driven away from Rustringen, and 
with his brother (? nephew) Rorik retained only 
Dorestadt (i. 48). 

It was about a year before his death, i.e.^ 839, 
that Louis le Debonnaire made the tenth of his 
dispositions of the empire among his sons, the 
tenth of those arrangements which were being con- 
stantly altered, and which became the seeds of so 
much bitter contention in later days. The portion 
of Lothaire the eldest, included, according to Prud- 
entius of Troyes, the kingdom of Saxony, with its 
marches, the duchy of Friesland as far as the Maas, 
and the counties of Hamarlant, Batavia, Testerbant, 
and Dorestadt (Kruse, 183). That is, it included 
the districts which had been granted to Harald and 
Roric as appanges. The old emperor spent the 
few^ months which remained to him in suppressing 
the revolts of his sons Pepin and Louis the German. 
He afterw^ards summoned a Diet at Worms, on the 
Feast of St. Rumbold, the first day of July, 840. 
" But," to quote the picturesque sentences of Pal- 
grave, "the end was nigh. Jjouis le Debonnaire 
never saw any of his children again. At Frankfort 
on the Maine he stayed his progress ; it was 
springtime, past Whitsuntide. The season had 
been rendered awful ; on the eve of the Ascension 
the sun was totally eclipsed, and the stars shone 
with nocturnal brightness. His stomach refused 

1 1 8 Saga- Book oj the Viking Society. 

nourishment, weakness and languor gained upon 
him ; uneasy and seeking rest the sick man fancied 
that he would pass the approaching summer upon the 
island which, dividing the heavily-gushing Ehine, 
is now covered by the picturesque towers of the 
Pfaltz ; and he desired that a thatched lodge, or 
leafy hut, should be there prepared, such as had 
served for him when hunting in the forest, or as a 
soldier in the field. Lying on his couch, he longed 
for the soothing music of the gurgling waters and 
the freshness of the waving wind. Thither he was 
conveyed, his bark floating down from stream to 
stream. Many of the clergy were in attendance ; 
amongst others, his brother. Archbishop Drogo, 
who at this time held the office of Arcliicapellanus ; 
and it was he who received the last injunctions 
which the son of Charlemagne had to impart. His 
imperial orown and sword he gave to Lothaire, 
with the earnest request that he would be kind and 
true to Judith, the widowed empress, and keep 
his word and promise to his brother Charles. 
Dying of inanition the bed of the humble and 
contrite sinner was surrounded by the priests, 
who continued in prayer with him and for him till 
he expired. Louis the Emperor died on the third 
Sunday in June, and his corpse was removed to 
Metz and buried in the basilica of St. Arnolph, 
without the walls" (Palgrave, i. 309). The weak 
and foolish old man, as he had now become, 
who was laid under the ground in the year 840, 
was the last sovereign who ruled over the 
entire heritage of Charlemagne. Its incongruous 
elements now fell asunder, and fell very naturally 
into fragments coincident largely with peculiarities 
of language, &c. It was perhaps well that the 
mere pretence which bound together Frenchmen 
and Germans, Italians and Aquitanians, under one 
government should cease. It led however to 

''^ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. iig 

disastrous results in the internecine struggle of 
those who divided to the Empire and the opening 
of the gaping wounds which the Northern pirates 
utilised without stint presently. 

For some years the Dane Harald does not 
appear in the Annals, and it would seem from the 
narrative of Prudentius of Troyes, confirmed by 
Saxo (Kruse, 142), that he had relapsed to paganism, 
perhaps with the sanction, or even by the advice, 
of Lothaire (Prud. Tr., Pertz, i. 437, 438) ; at all 
events Count Nithard the Royal historian (probably 
a grandson of Charlemagne), tells us Lothaire 
subsidized the Norsemen, and incited them to 
plunder the Christians. To Lothaire he remained 
faithful to the end, and the last time he is men- 
tioneti is when, after the terrible defeat of the 
Emperor by his brothers at Fontenoy, Lothaire 
planted guards at Coblenz to defend the passage 
of the Moselle against the victors. Among whom 
were Otgar, Bishop of Mainz, Count Hatto, and 
Harald. They were not strong enough to offer 
real resistance and withdrew (Nithard, Pertz. ii. 
667) ; Harald the exile, the godson of the Emperor 
Louis at Mainz, the rival of the Jutish King 
Eric, now disappears from history. He seems to 
have died about this time), probably, like others, 
a victim of the disaster at Fontenoy. 

We are told that after living on good terms with 
the Franks for many years, he was put to death by 
the Marchiones or Marquises, the custodians of the 
frontier, from a suspicion that he was having 
treacherous connnunications with his countrymen 
(Euod. Fuld. Pertz, i. 367, see Huh an. 850; 
Kruse, 206). 

He had lived a curiously romantic life and is a 
prominent figure in the history of the ninth 
century. He was doubtless the Harald Klak of 

l^o ^aga-Book of the Viking Society. 

the Saga writers. Vogel says, whether his brother 
(? nephew) Rorik succeeded to his dominions is 
doubtful. Later he is found in conflict with 
Lothaire (op. cit. 86). 

We are now told that Lothaire granted the 
isle of Walcheren {Gualaci\is) and other neigh- 
bouring districts to Korik (Prudentius v. 4i ; 
Nithard, iv. ch. 2), and thus added the mouth of 
the Scheldt to his other possessions in Rustringen 
and Dorestadt."^ He in fact now probably domi-- 
nated over the whole country inhabited by 
Frieslanders, from the Elbe to the Scheldt. 

In this narrative it has not been possible to 
separate the doings of the special rulers of West- 
fold from those of their brothers ; the annals 
group them together in the phrase " the sons of 
Grodfred,'' nor yet has it been possible to separate 
the doings of the rival clans who followed the 
standards of the sons of Halfdane and Godfred 
{i.e., Gudrod), respectively representing the rival 
houses of the Scioldungs and the Ynglings. 
I have deemed it best in this monograph to report 
all the doings I could meet with about both of 
them, and to unite them together by their inter- 
course with the Empire. I must now return to 
Westfold and its special rulers. 

Two other brothers of Hemming, called Hanc- 
win {i.e., Hakon) and Angandeo (Angantyr) • by 
Eginhardt, are mentioned among the envoys sent 
by him to the Frank emperor in 811. These three 
brothers were probably the sons of Eystein, 

* Perhaps the most notable feature of these cruel raids was the fate 
which now overtook Dorestede, which went down from the position of a 
great mart to a mere obscure trading place. In 1842, 1845 and 1846 
excavations were made there and a large number of coins were found. 
Some dated from Merovingian times, but the great bulk were coins of 
Pepin, Charles the Great, Louis the Pious, and Lothaire. The 
excavations also proved that the place had been destroyed by fire and 
doubtless at some date during the years 834 — 837. 

" Harald Futrhair'* and his Ancestors. 121 

Gudrod's predecessor. A fourth brother was doubt- 
less the Sigurd who fought against Harald and 
Kaginfred in 812. In that battle, where, according 
to the Frank historians, more than 10,000 men 
perished, it would seem that Gudrod's nephews 
who fought for the heritage of Hemming were all 
killed, for they are not again named in history. 

Especially is it notable that Olaf, the reigning 
ruler of Westfold at this time, is not mentioned by 
name by the Franks. 

The victors in the great fight were Harald and 
Raginfred, the sons of Halfdane, and the meaning 
of the struggle is that for a short time the Sciol- 
dungs resumed their supremacy in Denmark and 
the Ynglings were thrust out. Having secured the 
throne, the two victors sent to ask the emperor 
for the release of their brother Hemming, who was 
allowed to go back with their envoys. On his 
arrival they were absent, having gone to Wester- 
fold., which lay, we are told, beyond their kingdom, 
between the north and west, and looking towards 
Britain. There is no doubt they had gone to 
Westfold to complete their victory over the family 
of Godfred (Gudrod) by an attack upon its special 
heritage. We are told they reduced the chiefs 
and people of Westfold to obedience. 

This very year, however, namely in 813, 
Godfred's sons, together with not a few .of the 
Danes who had sought refuge among the Sueones 
or Swedes, collected their forces from all sides, and 
were joined by a great crowd of people from all 
the land of the Danes. Having fought a battle 
with Harald and Raginfred, they drove them out 
of the kingdom with little trouble (Eginhardt, 
Pertz, i. 200). Here, then, we have the Yngling 
dynasty once more reinstated — reinstated in the 
persons of Godfred's sons. Who, then, were these 

1 2 2 Saga- Book of the Viking Society 

sons ? The Frank annalists mention one only by 
name, namely Eric, although they tell lis he had 
in fact five sons. One of them is stated to have 
been killed in 814 in a struggle with Harald Klak. 
In 819 four others are mentioned, two of whom 
are said to have shared the kingdom of Denmark 
with Harald, while the other two were driven out 
from the kingdom (Eginhardt, Annales Pertz, i. 
208). Of the two who stayed, Eric was no doubt 
one ; the name of the other is not forthcoming in 
any of the annals. 

The Ynglinga Saga says Olaf was twenty years 
old when Gudrod died, and that he divided the king- 
dom with his young brother Halfdane. He lived 
at Geirstad, which is supposed to have been on the 
site of a farm now called Gierrestad, in the parish 
of Tiolling, where Skiringsal is also situated 
(Aal's Heimskringla, liv. note). 

A curious legend is reported of Olaf, namely, 
that he once dreamt that a great black and vicious 
ox came into the land from the east, whose poison- 
ous breath killed a number of men, and eventually 
his whole court. He thereupon summoned a 
great Thing-assembly at Gierstad, before which he 
interpreted the dream as meaning that a terrible 
pestilence would arrive from the east which would 
first destroy a great number of people, then the 
court, and lastly himself. They decided that the 
whole assembly should set to work and erect a vast 
mound on a neighbouring tongue of land, and plant 
a hedge round it so that no cattle could traverse it. 
In this mound all the dead were to be buried, and 
every illustrious man was to have half an ore of 
silver buried with him. Olaf ordered that he him- 
self should also be put in the mound, and that no 
blood offering or sacrifice should be made after his 
death. The dream was duly fulfilled, and he was 

^^ Harald Fairhair^' and his Ancestors. 123 

buried, as he had ordered, in the mound. The 
king's men were the last to die and were taken unto 
the mound, and he himself was then quickly laid 
beside them with much treasure and *' the house," 
^.6;., the tomb, was closed. His injunction about the 
sacrifice was, however, disobeyed, and a sacrifice was 
offered to him as the guardian of the frontier and 
the tutelary spirit of the district, whence he was 
afterwards called Geirstad Alf (Aal's Heimskringla, 
liv. note). Munch quotes this Saga from the 
account of Olaf in the ' Flatey-bok,' and from 
Olaf the Saint's Saga. He adds that the story of 
the dream and the pestilence was not very old, or 
Thiodwolf, who dedicates his Ynglingatal to 
Rognvald, Olaf's son, would have menioned it ; 
while he tells us, on the contrary, that he died 
from a disease in his foot (? the gout), and that he 
was buried in a mound at Geirstad. We must 
remember, however, that we only have fragments 
of Thiodwolf 's original poems. Munch urges 
that the Saga was probably manufactured out of 
the fact that he w^as generally looked upon as a 
protector of the frontier, or else made up merely 
to suit his great mound at Geirstad. Another 
Saga, reports how the sword Baesing, which was 
afterwards called Hneitir, was dug up out of Olaf 
Geirstad Alf's mound and presented to another Olaf 
(Munch, ii. 162, 163). Saxo, w^ho habitually trans- 
fers the stories about other foreign princes to 
Denmark, states that this Olaf was buried at Lethra 
in a mound called after him. ' The mound referred 
to was known as Olshoi, and doubtless belonged to 
some other Olaf. Thiodwolf's verses about King 
Olaf read thus in Vigfusson's translation. " And 
the shoot of the tree of Woden's son Treythrone 
in Norway, Anlaf, (i.<5., Olaf), once ruled Upsa, Vithi 
(Wood), Groen and Westmare. He reigned till gout 
was fated to destroy ' the war dealer ' at the land's 

1 24 Saga-Book of the Vtking Society. 

thrum (i.e., the shore). Now the doughty king of 
hosts is lying with a barrow over him at Geirstad. 
He was succeeded by his brother Halfdane, called 
the Black from the colour of his hair " (Ynglingatal 
Corp. Poet., i. 251). Westmare is familiar enough, 
Groen is no doubt Gronland, the land of the 
Grens, or Graeini, the Granii of Jornandes, Upsi, 
is not named elsewhere. 

Olaf's son and successor in Westfold, and perhaps 
Groenland (Ibid., 163), was Eognvald who was 
called " Higher than the hills." Of him we know 
nothing more than what is reported in the last verse 
of Thiodwolf's poem, which has been explained 
entirely afresh by Vigfusson, namely, as a glori- 
fication of his suzerain. King Harald. It reads 
thus : — " The best surname that I know any king 
under the blue sky has borne, is that when Eeagnaldr 
the Lord of ruin called thee Fair Hair Corpuscle," 
i.e.. King Harald Fairhair, 251. 

With Halfdane the Black we enter upon a new 
phase of Norwegian history. We no longer have 
the poem of Thiodwolf of Hwin upon which to 
thread the story ; but on the other hand, the 
number of details shows that we are getting nearer 
to a period when traditions of a trusty character 
abounded. Let us first examine what materials 
are available for a history of Halfdane, and what 
authority they possess. The only contemporary 
ones that we could expect to meet with would 
be songs or productions of the skalds, and geneal- 
ogies, for prose history had not yet begun to be 
composed in the North. We have no poems 
relating to Halfdane, although we know^ the name 
of at least one Skald, namely, Audun Illskaelda, 
who lived at his court, and doubtless wrote about 
his famous doings (G. Storm, Snorre Sturlason's 
Historieskriving, 112). We can only recover such 

*' Harald Bairhnir'' and hts Ancestors, 125 

legends and traditions as were incorporated in 
their histories by the prose-writeis. Of these 
the first in date and importance, was Aii Frothi, 
in whose " Landnania-bok," as well as the 
supplement called "Mantissa," we have three 
interesting references to Halfdane. Ari also wrote 
a " Konungatal," contained in the " Islendinga- 
bok," now lost, and of which an epitonje, generally 
quoted as Ari's " Libellus," is alone available. 
Ari's " Konungatal " is referred to in his preface by 
Snorri. It was probably the basis of Ari's ow^n 
Saga of Halfdane the Black in the Heimskringla. 
We next have a notice of Halfdane in the " Konun- 
gatal," or collection of Lives of the Kings, cited in 
modern times as " Aagrip," of which Dr. Vigfusson 
says it comprises short lives of the kings of Norway 
from Harald Fairhair to King Sverri, 1180 ; adding 
that it is a very early work and closely connected 
with Saemund and Ari, from whose "Konungatal," 
in the lost " Liber Islandorum " it may have been 
copied (Sturlunga Proleg., Ixxxvii) ; Storm has 
given a critical notice of the work (Historieskriv- 
ning, 25 — 28). It was probably composed in 
Iceland about the year 1190. Another book which 
dates from an early period is the so-called " Fagr- 
skinna," or Fair Skin — " the modern name," says 
Vigfusson, for " Aettartal Noregs Konunga " (so it 
is inscribed in Codex A), or Noregs Konungatel (as 
inscribed in Codex B), an independent compendium 
of the kings' lives from Halfdane the Black to 
Sverri, who reigned 1135 — 1177, to w^hich later 
Saga it was apparently intended to serve as an 
introduction. It was preserved only in Norse 
vellums (destroyed in 1728), and must have been 
compiled by Norwegians from Icelandic sources. 
The style in many places resembles that of the 
Northern version of the story of Barlaam and 
Josaphat dating from the days of Hakon the Old. 

1 26 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

Moreover, we can identify it with the work read to 
King Sverri as he lay dying (Hakon's Saga). This 
follows both from the place of its beginning, and also 
the time it took to read through, which correspond 
exactly with " Fagrskinna." (Sturlunga Proleg., 
Ixxxvii and Ixxxviiij. Lastly, we have the story of 
Halfdane as told by Snorri. This occurs in two recen- 
sions : one is contained in the well-known ''Flatey- 
bok," which is so called from having been discovered 
in the Isle of Flato in Breidafiord, in Iceland, in 1651 : 
It is an Icelandic manuscript, written for Jon Hakor- 
isson in the years 1379 — 80, and contains the lives 
of at all events the later kings more fully than in 
the epitome (which is known as the " Heims- 
kringla"), and with which the name of Snorri is 
alone legitimately connected. 

Let us proceed with our story. Halfdane the 
Black, as we have seen, was the son of G-udrod 
by his second wife Asa, the daughter of Harald 
Kodskeg (Kedlip), king in Agder (Ynglinga, liii). 
In the "Mantissa" or appendix to the " Land- 
nama," he is referred to "as Halfdane the 
Black, king of the Uplands, son of Gudrod 
Leoma" (Op. cit., 385). He was only a year 
old when his father died, and his mother took him 
to Agder and there he occupied the kingdom which 
belonged to her father (Heimskringla, Harald the 
Black's Saga, i.). Munch says, very truly, that as 
we meet with independent kings of Agder in the 
reign of Halfdane's son and successor Harald 
Fairhair, it seems to follow that Halfdane did not 
rule over the whole of that district. It is even 
probable that he merely reigned as a dependent 
or subordinate ruler to his older brother Olaf. 
We are told he grew up as a stout, strong 
man, and was called Black from the colour of 
his hair. When he was eighteen years old he 

** Harnld Fair hair"' and his Ancestors. 127 

took his heritage (whatever it might be) in Agder 
on his own shoulders, and also claimed his own 
share of his father's dominions, which, we 
read, his elder brother Olaf divided with him. 
According to the Heimskringla, Olaf took the 
eastern (? northern) part, and he the southern. 
This seems a mistake : the southern part of 
Westfold was the kernel of the kingdom where 
Skiringsal was situated, the residence and burying- 
place of the kings. It is hardly likely that 
Olaf would surrender this to his younger brother, 
and it is much more probable that Halfdane's 
portion lay in the north of Westfold, near 
to Vingulmark, whither he first turned his arms. 
The mistake is a very pardonable one in an author 
writing in Iceland. This is my view. Munch 
accepts the statement in the Saga, and says that 
Olaf probably chose for himself the part of West- 
fold w^hich was the nearest to the district of 
Gronland, over w^hich he inherited a special claim. 
He suggests that he received G-ronland with 
a daughter of larl Nerid, whom he may have 
married, or perhaps his father Gudrod had a 
daughter of the iarl for one of his wives (Munch, 
op. cit., ii. 161 — 2). This view involves two 
unverified postulates. We know little of what 
happened during Halfdane's reign. 

The same autumn that he acquired his share 
of Westfold ho took his men to fight against King 
Gandalf of Vingulmark, who had, as we have seen, 
recovered that province from Halfdane's brother Olaf. 
After fighting several battles, with varying success, 
it was at length agreed that he should retain that 
portion of Vingulmark w^hich had belonged to his 
father Gudrod. The district of Raumariki had been 
subdued by Sigtryg, the son of King Eystein, who 
was then living in Hedemark, (by whom Eystein, 

128 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Hogne's son, King of the Uplands, is doubtless 
meant). A battle was fought with him, which 
Halfdane won, and we are told Sigtryg was killed 
by an arrow which struck him under the arm as 
his troops were trying to fly. Halfdane thus 
secured Raurnariki ; but no sooner had he re- 
turned from this expedition than Eystein Sigtryg's 
father, who was then king in Hedemark, marched 
to Baumariki and reconquered the greater portion 
of it. Halfdane once more set out northwards, 
drove out Eystein, and compelled him to fly to 
Hedemark, where he pursued and again defeated 
him. Eystein now fled onwards to the herse 
Gudbrand (Id. 171, and note 2), in Gudbrandsdal, 
(to which he may have given his name), and 
who was probably one of his most important 
subjects. There he received reinforcements, re- 
turned to Hedemark in the winter, and fought 
with Halfdane on a large island in the midst of the 
Miosa, or Miosen lake, which is known as Helge 
Oen, or Holy Island. Guttorm, son of Gudbrand 
above named, one of the finest men in the Uplands, 
fell in this struggle. Eystein once more fled to Gud- 
brandsbal, and sent his relative Halvard Skalk to 
Halfdane to beg for peace. Halfdane surrendered 
half of Hedemark to him, which he and his relatives 
had held before, but retained for himself Thoten and 
Hadaland and Land, a district lying between 
Hadaland and Yaldres, and bordering the upper 
part of the Randsfiord and its tributaries. We 
are further told he plundered far and wide and 
became a mighty king. Eystein was probably 
reduced to the position of an under-king. By 
these victories Halfdane recovered the greater part 
of what had been ruled over by his ancestor and 
namesake, Halfdane Huitbein. 

A curious Saga reports that it was at this 
time that Hereydal was first settled by Halfdane's 

^^ Harald Fatrhair'' and his Ancestors. i2q 

frontier comnitander, a border guardian or mar- 
quis {merkesmand). Having incurred Halfdane's 
displeasure, he had fled to the Swedish king 
Anund, by whom he was received in a friendly 
manner, and with whom he stayed for some time, 
until he was obliged to fly again for having seduced 
a kinswoman of the king named Helga. With 
Helga he returned to Norway, and settled in an 
uninhabited valley which was afterwards called 
Heryedal (Heryardalr). From this pair there 
sprang, in the eighth generation, one called Liot 
Dagson, who built the first church in Heryedal 
(Munch, ii. 170 — 1). The Saga seems to be 
very old, and a Heriulf Hornbriot, whose 
grandson Thrase settled in Iceland, is mentioned 
in the " Landnama-bok." Peter Clausen has 
published an account which seems to be an inde- 
pendent witness that the cause of Heriulf 's quarrel 
with Halfdane was his having killed one of the 
courtiers with a drinking horn, whence his sobriquet 
of Hornbriot (/fl?., 170, note 2). The story seems 
credible enough. On the other hand, we must 
remember that the name of the dale where Heriulf 
settled is nowhere given as Heriulfsdal, but Hery- 
edal, and that it is more probably derived from the 
river Herya, or Heryaa, which flows through it 
(Munch, ii. 171, and note 2). 

Sogn is a remote district of Western Norway, 
whose name some have derived from a mythical 
king Sokni. In the old speech, however, it meant 
a deep or secluded dale, which was doubtless what 
really gave it its name. It included the district 
threaded by the famous Sogn fiord, which, with 
its various ramifications, is much the largest fiord 
in NorwMy. It was bounded on the east by the 
Dovrefell, on the west by the sea, on the north 
by Firda fylki, and on the south by Horda 

130 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

fylki. In the early times it had a wide reputation. 
Aal has a considerable note on its topography. 
At the time we are writing about, we are told 
that Harald Gullskeggr, i.e.^ Goldbeard, ruled in 
Sogn. Halfdane married a daughter of this 
Harald. In the '' Landnama-bok," she is called 
Thora ; in the King's Lives and the Heimskringla — 
Ragnhild (which is probably a mistake), the latter 
tells us further that her mother was called Salvor, 
and was the daughter of iarl Hundolf and sister 
of iarl Atli Miove (i.e., the Thin), and of Thurida, 
who married Ketil Helloflag (Landnama-bok V., 
chap. xi. ) Hundolf and his son Atli were iarls 
of Gaular, upon which name Aal has again a 
very long note. Some would explain it as 
referring to the famous Gulathing-sted in North 
Hordaland, w^here the Gulathing's law, to be 
referred to presently, was enacted ; others again, 
as referring to an important district in the Fiala 
fylki, which lay immediately north of Sogn, and 
which was so important that the whole fylki was 
sometimes called by the name. To this latter 
conclusion, which seems the most reasonable, Aal 
himself inclines (Aal's Heimskringla, pp. 43 — 45, 
note). The *' Mantissa," I must add, calls Hun- 
dolf, Hunolf Iarl or Fiordom, thus connecting him 
with Fiorda fylki, which lies north of Fiala fylki 
(Op. cit., V. 2). By Thora Halfdane had a son, who 
was called after his maternal grandfather and 
brought up at his house. When Harald Goldbeard 
became very weak and old, having no sons, he 
gave his dominions to his grandson Harald, who 
was then but ten years old. Shortly after, he 
died and his death was followed by that of his 
daughter, Halfdane's wife, and a year later by that 
of her son, who was then ten years old, a fact which 
has a sinister look. Halfdane went to Sogn and 

** Haiald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 131 

claimed the district as liis son's heir, and, no 
opposition bein^ made, he appropriated the whole 
kingdom (Halfdane the Black's Saga, chap. 1 — 3 ; 
Landnama-bok V., xi. 1 ). 

.When Halfdane had secured Sogn, he did not 
incorporate it with his dominions, but appointed 
his brother-in-law Atli as its iarl. The acquisition 
of Sogn was an important success, for it was the 
first portion of Norway on this side of the Dovre- 
fell over which the kings of Westfold gained 
authority. We are told iarl Atli proved a good 
friend to Halfdane, that he judged the country 
according to the country's law (i.e., no doubt, 
according to the Gulathing's law, which had 
authority in all this district), and collected scatt, or 
tribute there, on the king's account (Halfdane 
the Black's Saga, chap, iii.; Munch, ii. 165). These 
Scandinavian iarls answered closely to the 'comes,' 
or counts, of the Carlovingian polity. They were 
administrative officials, who acted as viceroys in 
their special governments, and collected the taxes 
there. They differed from the earlier counts at 
this time in their office being apparently hereditary, 
and not merely held during life. 

Having appointed Atli as his deputy in Sogn, 
King Halfdane returned again to Westfold. The 
same spring he happened to be in Vingulmark, 
when a man who had been on guard there came up 
on horseback and reported that a large army was 
coming up. It proved to be a considerable force 
under Hysing and Helsing, the sons of Gandalf. 
(In the ' Flatey-bok ' the names are given, appar- 
ently in error, as Hysing and Hake, see Munch, 
op.cit.II.166,notel). They were doubtless bent on 
recovering their former supremacy in Vingulmark. 
In the fight which ensued, Halfdane was over- 
powered by numbers, and fled to the forest, leaving 

132 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

many of his men behind. There he was joined by 
numbers of people, and he again marched against 
his assailants and a battle ensued at Eyde Sker, or 
Eidi. The river Glommen, some distance above its 
outlet, opens out into a long lake called Oieren, also 
known as Eyyirde vatn, which perhaps preserves 
the older form of the name ; while Eid and 
Eidsberg are names marked on Aal's map, a little 
south of this lake, which, with the Glommen, 
separated Yingulmark from Alfheim, and there 
can be small doubt the battle was fought there. 
Hysing and Helsing both fell in the struggle, while 
a third brother fled to Alfheim, and Halfdane 
occupied all Yingulmark. In the Heimskringla we 
are told that among the victims of the first fight 
in' which Halfdane was defeated was his foster- 
father, Oelver the Wise. In the ' Flatey-bok,' on 
the contrary, Oelver is made to bring him rein- 
forcements (Munch, ii. 166, note 2; Aal, 45 note). 

As we have seen Halfdane had consoHdated a 
considerable Kingdom and was virtually master 
of all Norway, east of^' the Keel^' as Dovrefell, the 
Backbone of that country, has been picturesquely 
called. The two - or three semi-independent 
communities which remained there under their 
own rulers were insignificant and reduced to 

By a lucky marriage, assisted by a strong will, 
Halfdane had also, as we have seen, secured a 
foothold on the West of the Mountains and 
appropriated his father-in-law's realm which was 
situated round the Sogn fiord. Halfdane thus 
ruled a very wide district with powerful frontiers. 
On the east he was protected from Sweden (where 
King Eric then reigned) by huge forests, on the 
west by the Dovrefell range and on the north by 
a stretch of almost unpeopled wild forest land. 

'* Harald Fairhair^^ and his Ancestors. 133 

He had consolidated his realm by wise measures 
and had especially ^iven to it a famous code of 
laws known as the Heidssaevis or Eidsiva-lag, and 
also the Sleps-lag. 

On the death of his first wife and son Halfdane 
married again. In regard to his second wife there 
are two legends. One of them is contained in 
the Fagrskinna,^ which Munch accepts as the 
more probable ; a conclusion in which I cannot 
follow him. It tells us he married Helga, the 
beautiful-haired daughter of the great Herse Dag 
Frothi, who lived at Thengilstad in Hadaland, and 
who beside her had a son named Guthoim Ilaad- 
spake {i.e. , wise in counsel, Munch, op. cit. II. 17 1 ). In 
the ' Landnama-bok ' and Heimskringla we are told 
a different story, and one which is certainly vitiated 
by anachronisms. They make him marry Ragn- 
hild, a daughter of Sigurd Hiort {i.e., Sigurd, the 
hart or deer), king in Ringariki, who was, accoi'd- 
ing to the Heimskringla, the son of Helge the 
Sharp and Aslaug, a daughter of Sigurd the Worm- 
tongued, son of Ragnar Lodbrog. Sigurd Hiort's 
mother is also called Aslaug, daughter of Sigurd 
the Worm-tongued, in the so-called ' Mantissa,' an 
appendix to the Landnama-bok. This statement 
is most improbable : Sigurd the Worm-tongued, 
son of Ragnar Lodbrog could hardly have been a 
grandfather at this time. About Sigurd Hiort we 
are told that many a long Saga was extant : inter 
alia, we read of him that when only twelve years 
old he killed the Bareserk Hildebrand in single 
combat with eleven of his companions. He had 
two children, Ragnhild, already mentioned, and 
Guthorm, who was younger. Perhaps the latter 

* This is an independent rescension of the King's lives composed 
in Norway from Icelandic sources and containing materials not found 
elsewhere. The original MSB. were burnt in the great fire of 1728, 
but good copies remain (see Corp. Poet. Bor., introduction p. 2). 

134 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

was baseborn, as he did not succeed to his father's 
realm. Ragnhild's mother, we are again told, was 
Thyrni, daughter of Harald Klak, sister of Thyra 
Dannebod, the wife of the Danish king Gorm the 
Old, which is again most improbable, for Thyra is 
elsewhere said to have had no sister, nor does the 
chronology allow of such a solution. The motive 
of the sophistication, as well as of the introduction 
of Sigurd the Worm-tongued into the story, is pro- 
bably due, as Munch says, to the wish of the 
Northern genealogists to connect the Norwegian 
kings with the famous stock of K-agnar Lodbrog, 
and also with that of the Danish Royal family. 

It was related of Sigurd Hiort that he 
performed many heroic feats, and was fond of 
hunting great beasts. In one of these excursions 
he rode into the forest as usual, and after riding a 
long way he presently came out on a piece of 
cleared land near to Hadaland. There he met the 
Bareserk Hake, who had thirty men with him. 
They fought, and Sigurd himself fell, after killing 
twelve of Hake's men. Hake, the champion, lost 
one hand and had three other wounds. After the 
fight he went to Sigurd's house, whence he carried 
off Ragnhild and her brother Guthorm, and took 
them, with much booty, to Hadaland, where he had 
many great farms. Eagnhild was then fifteen years 
old, and Guthorm fourteen (i6.). The Heimskringla 
says she was twenty years old, and her brother a 
youth. Hake wished to be married to her, and 
ordered a feast to be prepared ; but his wounds 
healed very slowly, and he had to keep his bed. 
At this time King Halfdane was in Hedemark at 
the Yule feast, and one morning he ordered Haarek 
Gand or the Wolf to take a hundred men, and to 
cross the Miosa lake to Hake's house at *^ otten" (i.e., 
break of day — the Icelanders call the interval be- 

^^ Harald Fairhair^' arid his Anceslors 135 

tween three and six in the morning *'otten" — Aal, 
op. cit., 46, note), and to bring Sigurd Hiort's 
daughter to him. He went about this task so quickly 
that he had crossed the lake by dawn, and came to 
Hake's house. They surrounded it, and occupied 
the doors and stairs, so that his housecarls could 
not come to the rescue. They then entered his 
bedroom, and carried off Ragnhild and her brother, 
and all the goods that were there ; and they set 
fire to the housecarls' dwelling, and burnt all the 
people in it. They then covered over a magnificent 
waggon, put Ragnhild and Guthorm into it, and 
drove down upon the ice. Presently Hake woke 
up, and pursued them ; but when he reached the 
ice he turned his sword hilt to the ground, and let 
himself fall upon its point, and thus killed himself. 
He was buried there under a mound. When 
Halfdane, who was quicksighted, saw the party 
coming back over the ice with the waggon, he 
knew their errand had been successful. He 
summoned the most distinguished men in the 
neighbourhood to a feast, and the same day united 
himself with Ragnhild (Heimskringla, Halfdane 
the Black's Saga, chap, v., Munch, op. cit. ii. 
171 — 73). This story, with the exception oi" the 
genealogical phrases, which seem to be interpola- 
tion, reads as if it were a genuine one, and I don't 
know on what ground Munch prefers that in the 
''Fagrskinna." It accounts, as Munch himself 
says, for the manner in which Ringariki, with its 
capital Stein, was added to the patrimony of the 
chiefs of Westfold, and for Halfdane's head having 
been buried at Stein, as we shall see. 

Munch draws attention to the mention of a 
waggon instead of a sledge having been used for the 
conveyance of Ragnhild as a suspicious circum- 
stance ; he also says, truly enough, that unless by 

1 36 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Hadaland in the above notice we are to understand 
the district of Thoten attached to the Hada 
fylki, it is incomprehensible how Ragnhild could 
be taken across the lake from Hadaland to 
Hedemark. He further suggests that it is not 
probable that Halfdane's position in Hedemark 
was sufficiently assured for him to have had the 
adventure there, and urges that in the oldest form 
of the Saga the residence of Halfdane was placed, 
as is natural, in Hadaland, and that he sent across, 
not the Miosa lake, but the Rands fiord, which 
traverses Hada fylki, and across which he could see. 
Hake's residence, being in that part of the Hada 
fylki west of the Rands fiord and nearest to Ring- 
ariki (Op. cit. ii, 173 note). To continue our 

Ragnhild was accustomed to dream great 
dreams. On one occasion she dreamt she was in 
her herb-garden, when she took a thorn out of her 
shift. While she was holding this thorn in her 
hand it grew to the size of a great tree, one end 
of which stuck in the ground and became firmly 
rooted, while the other end raised itself so high in 
the air that she could scarcely see over it, and 
the trunk also became very large. The under 
part of the tree was blood-red, the stem beautifully 
green, and the branches snow-white. The tree 
had many great limbs, which spread all over 
Norway, and even further. Soon after this her 
son Harald Haarfagre was born. 

Halfdane himself never had dreams. Thinking 
it strange, he consulted Thorleif Spake, i.e , the 
Wise, who replied that he himself when he wanted 
to have a revelation in a dream used to go to sleep 
in a swine's sty, which never failed to bring him 
dreams. The king followed his advice, and he 

*' Harald Fair hair ^' and his Ancestors. 137 

dreamt that he had the most beautiful hair that 
ever was seen, which was so thick that it grew in 
locks, some of which reached to the ground, some to 
his calves, others to his knees, others to his hips, 
some to his neck, others again in small knots 
clung to his head. These locks were of different 
shades ; but one of them surpassed all the rest in 
size, beauty and lustre. Halfdane having asked 
Thorlief to explain the dream, the latter said it 
meant that he would have a numerous posterity, and 
that his descendants would be great people, but not 
all equally great. As to the exceptionally long and 
and beautiful lock, it was explained as be- 
tokening king Olaf the Saint (Halfdane's Saga, 
ch. vii; Munch, ii. 175 — 176). It is notable that 
Halfdane's counsellor was on this occasion called 
Thorleif Spake and Munch says the name occurs in 
several generations among the chief advisers of the 
kings. Thus King Hakon the Good is said to have 
issued the Gulathing laws on the advice of Thorleif 
Spake. A Thorleif Spake again is named in the 
reign of Olaf Trygvesson as the ancestor of the 
famous stock, to which Kagnald the Saint, iarl 
of the Orkneys belonged (Munch ii. 176 note). 

Halfdane's death is thus reported. '* In the 
spring, when the ice began to be unsafe, he was 
one day returning from a feast at Biandabu, in 
Hadaland, and had to cross the Eands fiord. 
There were many people with him, but most of 
them were drunk. As they drove across the bight 
called Rekensvik (a small inlet half-way down on 
the eastern side of the Rands fiord, taking its 
name from a farm called Reken which is situated 
there Aal, op. cit., 48 note) — they came to a place 
where the ice had broken in and a hole had been 
made for the cattle to drink at, and where the dung 
having fallen upon the ice the thaw had eaten into 

138 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

it. As the party drove over, the ice broke, 
and Halfdane with his father-in-law, Dag Frothe, 
and twenty-one men were drowned (Fagrskinna, 
ch. iv. ; Heimskringla, Halfdane the Black's Saga, 
chap. ix. ; Munch, ii. 178). A Saga still extant in 
Hadaland makes out that Halfdane was drowned 
while returning from paying a visit to a noble lady 
at Hermansrud, west of the E-ands-fiord (Munch, 
ii. 178, note 2) . He had been a very fortunate king, 
and good seasons had characterised his reign, and 
he was so highly thought of, that when his body was 
floated to Kingariki to be buried, the people of most 
repute from Westfold, Raumariki, and Hedemark, 
who came to meet it, all wished it to be buried 
among themselves, hoping thus to secure good 
seasons and crops. It was at last agreed to divide 
the body into four parts. Ari says the head was laid 
in a mound at Stein in Ringariki, while those from 
each of the other districts took home a portion. 
They were laid under mounds which were after- 
wards called Halfdane's Mounds, and sacrifices were 
long after offered there. The " Flatey-bok " agrees 
with this notice, only replacing Hedemark by 
Vingulmark ; while the " Fagrskinna," which has 
been followed by Munch tells us the head was laid 
at Skiringsal in Westfold, the entrails at Thengil- 
stad in Hadaland (there was a royal residence there 
from early times — as its very name implies, 
" Thengil," meaning a king or overlord (Aal, 48 
note) ; and the body at Stein in Ringariki, where 
Sigurd Hiort probably had his residence. Nothing 
is said of the fate of the fourth portion, and 
Munch suggests that Hedemark was its probable 
bourne (Munch, op. cit., ii. 179—80). 

We must now say a word or two to fix, as well 
as we can, the chronology of Halfdane's reign, or, 
at all events, of its beginning and end. We are told 

'•'' Harald Fatrhatr " and his Ancestors. 139 

that he was a year old when his father Giidrod died. 
If Gudiod was the same person as Godfred the 
Danish king wlio fought against the Franks and who 
was killed in 810 a.d., then Halfdane was born in 
809. Ari says he took possession of his share of 
Agder when he was eighteen years old, that is in 
827. A Saga which I have above quoted brings 
him into contact, as we have seen, with the 
Swedish king Anund This Anund is in every 
probability the Anund, King of the Swedes, men- 
tioned by E/embert, in his ^' Life of St. Anscharius," 
whom I mentioned in my paper 011 the Early 
History of Sweden, and who flourished about the 
year 845. The best authorities agree that Harald 
Fairhair, Halfdane's son, died about the year 933. 
Ari says he was then eighty-three years old. 
This puts his birth in the year 850, and as we are 
told he was ten years old when his father died, we 
may approximately date this event in the year 860. 
So that, roughly, Halfdane reigned from 827 — 860, 
that is, thirty-three years. 

All these dates hang together, and seem very 
reasonable. There is only one difficulty — namely, 
that Ari says Halfdane was but forty years old 
when he died, while this calculation makes him 
fifty ; and we have no other resource than to 
suggest that Ari, in fact, made a mistake of ten 
years in the life of the king — a very small postu- 
late, considering what a remote period his narra- 
tive refers to. 

Halfdane is described by Ari as a wise man, 
a man of truth and uprightness, who made laws 
and observed them himself, and obliged others to 
observe them ; and, in order that violence should 
not take the place of laws, he fixed the number of 
criminal acts recognised by the law, and the wehr- 
gelds or compensations, fines and penalties for each 

140 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

case according to every one's birth and dignity 
(Heimskringla, Halfdane the Black's Saga, chap, 
vii). In a later Saga Ari tells us expressly that the 
Heidsaevis laws were first established by Halfdane 
the Black (Hakon the Good's Saga, chap. xi). 
These laws made up the so-called Selfs Lag and 
Heidsaevis or Eidsiva Lag. 

Munch derives Self tentatively from " Sef," 
meaning blood relationship, and *'Sefi" a relative — 
so that Selfs lag would mean la^v^ of the relatives 
or of the companions, and Eidsiva the union of 
Eid. This view is also that of the editors of the 
Olaf's Saga, Messrs Keyser and linger and of 
Munch (op. cit., 167 note). The explanation needs 
a further one as to the meaning of Eid, which will 
lead us into a somewhat wide digression. Munch 
has shewn that it was a very early feature of the 
fylkis in Scandinavia (i.e.^ the divisions corres- 
ponding to the '' gaus," or counties, in Germany 
and England, traces of which remain in the North 
folk and South folk of East Anglia) to be united in 
Unions of two or three for religious purposes, and 
for holding a common Thing, or legislative and 
judicial assembly ; while on the other hand there 
is evidence that certain districts, as, for instance, 
that of the Upper Dales, did not originally 
constitute separate fylkis at all, but attached 
themselves to some neighbour for these special 
purposes, still retaining their independence as 
communities. Thus, Vors and Haddingyadal were 
apparently united in this way to Hordaland, 
Waldres to Sogn, Osterdal to Raumariki, Southern 
Thelemark to Westfold, North Western Thelemark 
and Robygdelag to Ryfylki. It would seem that 
in early times Fiarda and Sogn fylki were thus 
united to Hordaland, Agder to Rogaland, and 
Hada fylki to Raumariki or Hedemark. These 

** Harald Fairhair^^ and his Ancestors. 141 

unions seem to point to an early relationship and 
close kinship among the people who formed them. 
The so-called Gulathings-law, i.e., code of the 
Guhx Thing, had authority in all the district from 
Rygyarbit as far as the frontiers between Sond- 
more and Raumsdal. In the form in which 
it has reached us it dates from the end of the 
twelfth century. It was passed at a common Thing 
at Gulen, in the northern part of North Hordaland. 
From the so-called Eigla, which was composed 
at the end of the ninth or beginning of the tenth 
century, we learn, on the other hand, that at 
that time the Thing at Gulen had authority 
only in Horda fylki, Sogn, and Firda fylki. The old 
Frostathingslaw had authority in Kaumsdal and 
Finmark ; while the eight fylkis in Throndheim 
had a similar joint code, and formed a close union. 

From the remains of the old laws of Viken 
which are extant in a recension of the twelfth 
century, it would seem that three fylkis were there 
united and had a common Thing — namely, Kanriki, 
Vingulmark, and Westfold ; while Westmare and 
Gronland either did not belong to the union, or 
were merely attached to it without forming 
essential parts of it (Munch, i. 131 — 132). 

Munch considers it probable that the inner 
Upland fylkis formed a close union from the 
earliest times. At first, this probably comprised 
only Raumsdal, Gudbrandsdal, and Hedemark ; 
but later, as the people of Rauma obtained 
control of Raumariki, and even further towards 
the south-west, while Raumsdal extended its 
influence beyond the mountains, it came to include 
the focus and kernel of the Uplands, i.e.., the fylkis 
round the Miosen lake, namely, Heina, Hada, and 
Rauma. Munch further holds that the general 

142 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

gathering-place for this union of fylkis was the Eid- 
Harde (the modern diocese of Eidsvold), South of 
Lake Miosen. Here we find from very early times a 
place called Eidsvellir used as the general gathering- 
place of the Upland fylkis. It is marked on the 
map attached to Aal's edition of " Snorri." The 
Thing held there was called Eidsivathing, and the 
code of laws enforced there was called the Eidsiva 

It is more than probable that the old union of 
gaus, which had its meeting-place at Eidsvellir, 
had a law from early times, and it would seem that 
Halfdane's work was that of a codifier. We have 
no extant remains of his original code, nor of any of 
the original codes of Southern Norway, and only 
such parts as were incorporated in the later 
Christian laws. He also probably extended the 
authority of the Eidsiva lag over a wider area than 
it had previously embraced — namely, over his 
whole kingdom. In early Norwegian history we 
meet with three great codes — the Frostathing's lag 
in Nordmore, Raumsdal, and the northern fylkis ; 
Gulathing's lag, for the district of the Thrond 
people, i.e., the fylkis from Sondmore as far 
as Rygiarbit ; and, lastly, Eidsivathing*s law, 
for what is known as Eastland. The former 
two were, according to Snorri, the work of 
Hakon the Good, and the last of Halfdane 
the Black. This last had authority, as we have 
said, in the districts immediately subject to Half- 
dane, that is to say, Rauma fylki, the greater 
part of Heina f^dki. Sand, Hadaland, Westfold, 
and Vingulmark, and also probably, on the death 
of his nephew Rognvald, Gronland, Westmare, and 
the southern part of Westfold, and, in addition, 
the northern part of far-off Wermeland. In 

*^ Harald Fairhair'' and his Ancestors. 


Harald Fairhair's Saga, chapter xv., it is expressly 
said that the bonder Aake, who was the greatest of 
the bonders of Wermeland, had formerly been 
Halfdane the Black's man. In later times the 
Eidsiva code also had authority in Gudbrandsdal, 
Osterdal, Thelemark, and Alfheim, and eventually 
included the district of Viken, which was origin- 
ally subject to a Thing of its own, known as the 
Borgar Thing ; for we are told that the remains of 
the old Borgarthing law and the Eidsivathing law, 
which are preserved in the later Christian editions 
of these codes, approximate to each other more 
closely than either of them ^oes to the Gulathing 
or Frostathing laws. 

To revert to Halfdane's kingdom. It must be 
remembered that Eaumariki at this time only 
extended as far as the river Glommen. East of 
that river was Alfheim, subject to King Gandalf. 
Nor did Halfdane reign directly over distant Sogn, 
which, as we have seen, he made over to Earl Atli 
to rule for him, taking scatt, or tribute from it. 
The part of Agder which Halfdane possessed 
at the beginning of his reign was apparently not 
included in the jurisdiction of the Eidsivathing, 
and it is indeed very doubtful whether he retained 
possession of it or not. 

Halfdane's kingdom was bounded on the north 
by Gudbrandsdal and Osterdal, on the east by the 
the Glommen and the forests of Wermeland, on 
the west by Valdres, Haddingdal, Thelemark, and 
Agder, and on the south by the sea ; and he was 
undoubtedly the most powerful ruler of Norway if 
not of Scandinavia at this time (Munch ii.). 

We have now traced the history of the Yngling 
occupation of Norway, from the time when the 

144 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

fugitive Olaf the Treefeller first occupied a part of 
Wermeland to that when his descendant had 
secured the most valuable part of the fertile land 
in the heart of the Christiania Gulf, and had there 
consolidated a power such as had not up to this 
time been known in Norway. 


Illradi = Gauthild 

1 / 

Olaf Tretelia = Solva 
1 1 



Asa = Halfdane Huitbeir 

1 1 




1 1 
=f Eystein Alfhild = Gudrod MikiUati. &c. 

1 , 

i ill! 

Halfdane Mildi Ragniald Hemming Hakon Angantyr 

1 1 1 
Olaf Geirstad Alf Halfdane the Black Eric, king of 
1 1 Jutland. 

1 1 


The '' Flatey-bok " and Srioiri preserve some 
ftibulous tales of Harald's youth, which, as Munch 
says, so far as they are reliable, point to there 
having been but little harmony between him and 
his father. Thus we read that when Halfdane and 
his companions were having a feast one Yule-tide 
evening, the meat and drink suddenly disappeared 
from the table. The guests went home frightened, 
but the King sat on alone in his place much 
confused. He presently had a Finn {vide ivfra) 
who was skilled in sorcery, seized and tortured in 
order to extract from him some explanation of what 
had happened. He would not give any explanation, 
however, and begged Harald to assist him. The 
latter interceded, for him, but in vain. Presently, 
however, he allowed him to escape, against his 
father's will, and himself followed him to where 
his chief was holding a feast, and where he was 
well received. There Harald remained till the 
spring, when the Finn said to him " Your father 
took it amiss that I robbed him of his Yule- feast. 
I will repay what he did in a friendly manner. If 
you will follow my counsel you will go home again. 
There is some one there who needs your help and 
who will be of great assistance to you, for it is 
your destiny to become master of all Norway." 
This is the story as told in the Heimskringla. 
In the " Flatey-bok " we have another 8aga in 
which a great Yotun, named Dovre, is introduced, 
(The Yotuns of Norse legend were the primitive 
people of Scandinavia, who occupied it before the 
advent of the Norse-folk, and were represented 
as giants and sorcerers). Dovre had repeatedly 
plundered the king's gold coffer, but had eventually 
been caught in a skilfully constructed trap, and 

146 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

had been bound with leaden coils in a steel box. 
He had his home in the mountains which bore 
his name. The king had doomed him to the 
most disgraceful death, and had forbidden anyone 
to help him or to give him anything to eat. 
Harald (who, we are gravely told in the story, was 
not yet five years old), had pity on him, and cut his 
leaden bands with an excellent knife which had 
been given him by the Finn chief, Dovre thanked 
him and sped away as fast as he could. He 
was soon missed, and the king learnt that 
Harald had loosed him. He was greatly enraged, 
and forbade him ever to enter his presence 
aojain, and told him to betake himself to his 
friend Dovre. Harald went away into the forest, 
and after he had spent four or five days and 
nights there he met Dovre, who took him into his 
cavern. He lived with him for five years, and was 
taught by him all kinds of bodily exercises. When 
the five years had elapsed Dovre said one day to 
him, '' I have not forgotten to requite thee for 
having helped me to escape. Thy father is dead, 
and not altogether without my assistance. Thou 
must now return home to thy kingdom, and mind 
not to cut thy hair nor thy nails till thou art master 
of all Norway. I will continually support thee." 
When Harald returned home he found his father 
dead, and was nominated king in his stead. From 
his residence with Dovre he received the name of 
Dovre -Fostre, i.e.^ Dovre's foster-child (Munch ii. 
176 — 7). The latter part of the story referring to 
Dovre is not told by Snorri, who, perhaps, thought 
it too incredible, and tried to rationalise the leo^end. 
It is contained in chapters iv. to vi. of Haltdane 
the Black's Saga in the " Flatey-bok." Munch 
and others have tried to rationalise it in another 
way by assuming that Halfdane did not care for 

" Harald Fairhair " 147 

Harald, and that the latter, when a child, was, in 
fact, fostered by one of his chieftains ; others, 
again, have argued that Dovre was the name of 
some illustrious chief who did Harald some 
service (Munch, op. cit. 177—8). Without any 
rationalising, the story as it stands is very in- 
teresting as a graphic folk- tale showing the real 
beliefs of people in times when men's days were 
largely spent in lonely mountains and forests far 
from their neighbours and were prone to see visions 
and to translate the forces of Nature into acts of 
very uncanny supermen. This accounts for the 
potency which the men of the North then attributed 
to Wizardy. 

Harald according to Ari was ten years old 
when his father died.' He had a great physique 
and is naturally described in the Heimskringla as 
the biggest, strongest and fairest of men, a wise 
man and high minded. His mother's brother 
Guthorm was nominated as his guardian and held 
the appointment of Captain of his body-guard, 
the leader of his host, and the controller of his 

From his mother he inherited the province of 
Ringariki, which was situated round the borders 
of the Tyrifiord in south-eastern Norway and 
was one of the most fertile districts in the land. 

His father had left many enemies behind him, 
for he had laid hands on several small kingdoms, 
and their rulers naturally deemed a "minority" of 
so marked a kind, a fair opportunity foi* reprisals. 
The first of these to try his chance was Gandalf, 
(formerly, as we have seen in an earlier page, King 
of all Vingulmark) who had been deprived of half 
his territory by King Halfdane. He gathered his 
forces and determined to cross "the Firth," now 
called the Christiania fiord, and thus to invade 

148 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Westfold. Meanwhile his son Haki, who had 
escaped to Alfheim after a defeat by Halfdane, 
went with three hundred men by the inland roads 
and tried to surprise Harald and his uncle Guthorm 
unawares, but the latter, having heard of the plan, 
collected an army and, taking Harald with him, he 
marched against him up the country, where a 
battle was fought, and Haki was killed with 
a great part of his men. He was buried, says our 
author, in a place called Hakadalr, now Hakedale, 
a valley dividing Hadaland from Raumariki 
(Magnussen, op. cit. iv. 253). 

Guthorm, with the young king, returned to 
Westfold, which had meanwhile been invaded by 
King Gandalf, Haki's father. The two armies 
fought a hard fight, but Gandalf was beaten and 
lost most of his men, and returned in a sad plight 
to his home in Vingulmark. 

While these events were happening Hogni and 
Frothi, the sons of King Eystein of Heathmark, 
who had been deprived of half that kingdom by 
Harald's father (Saga of Halfdane the Black, ch. 2), 
associated themselves with Hogni Karason, who 
had been raiding far and wide in Ringariki, or 
Ring realm and had appointed a rendezvous at 
Ringsacre in Heathmark^ with the liersir Gud- 
brandt from the Dales. 

To meet this attack Guthorm and Harald, with 
all the host they could collect, went towards the 
Uplands, keeping by the way through the forest 
in order to surprise their enemies, and arrived at 
midnight where they had appointed their muster. 

* The place is still called Ringsaker, it is a manor on the eastern 
side of the Western arm of Lake Miosen, which runs north towards 
Gudbrandsdale, by the west of Heathmark (see Magnusson's Note — 
Heimskringla, vol. iv, 273). 

t Who probably gave his name to Gudbrandsdal. 

' Harald Fairhair " 


They surprised those on guard and surrounded the 
house where Gudbrand and Hogni Karason were 
sleeping. They set fire to it and burned them both 
in it ; Eystein's sons, Hogni and Frothi, managed 
to get out for a while and made a fight, but both 
were killed. The result of the fight was that 
King Harald. by the help of his uncle, secured a 
great accession to his kingdom, namely, Heath- 
mark, Gudbrandsdal and Hadaland, Thotn and 
Eaumariki, and all the northern parts of Vingul- 
mark. After this Harald and Guthorm fought 
again with King Gandalf, who had escaped, as 
we have seen. They had several struggles, in 
the last of which the latter was killed, and Harald 
annexed all his realm as far as the river 
Glommen*. The next event mentioned in the 
Heimskringla is the negotiation for Harald's 
wedding with Gyda, the daughter of King Eric 
of Hordaland.t 

The fact of this proposal points to Harald's 
having been more than ten years old at his father's 
death. The lady was at this time being fostered 
in the house of a rich bonder, or farmer, at 

Like most royal brides, she is described as very 
fair and high-minded, and we are told Harald 
would fain have her for a bedmate. When his 
messengers arrived she is reported to have said 
haughtily that it was not her intention to wed one 
who was merely the master of a few fylkies, or 

• It is the largest river in Norway, running from north to south into 
the eastern side of the Skagarak. 

t This was a great district in Western Norway, now called " Sondre 
Bergenhusamt " which was bounded on the east and south-east by 
Haddingdal, Numdale, and Thelemark, and on the south by Rogaland 
(Magnussen, op. cit. 257). Its people were known as Hords. 

\ A district east of Sogn fylki, bounded on the north by Gud- 
brandsdale, on the east by Land and Ringariki, and on the south by 

150 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

counties, and she marvelled there was no king who 
was minded to make Norway his own, and be its 
lord and master in the way that King Gorm had 
done in Denmark and King Eric at Upsala. 
Harald's messengers were taken aback by this 
reply and asured her that Harald was such a 
mighty king that he was quite worthy to be her 
partner, but if she was unwilling, there was 
nothing left for them but to take their departure, 
and they put on their travelling clothes to depart. 
Thereupon she spoke again and said she would 
only consent to be his wife if he would make 
himself master of all Norway and rule that king- 
dom as freely as Eric of Sweden and Gorm of 
Denmark did theirs. 

When the messengers returned to King Harald 
and reported her answer, which they deemed 
impertinent and witless, they said it would not be 
wrong (if the king were so minded) to send a body of 
his men and forcibly ravish her. He took another 
view, and replied that she had done no ill in the 
matter, but had in fact won his gratitude, for she 
had only brought to his mind a matter which he 
now thought it wondrous had not occurred to him 
before, and he proceeded to take a solemn oath 
that he would neither cut his hair again, nor comb 
it, until he had conquered all Norway and had 
taken dues and taxes from it. For this oath he 
was thanked by his uncle and tutor Guthorm, who 
pronounced it the resolve of a King (Saga of 
Harald Fairhair IV.). 

Harald by his rapid stnd well planned campaign 
had now made himself virtually master of all 
Norway, east of the Great Mountains, which had 
been largely dominated by his father, and which he 
now completely subdued. A much more difficult 
task awaited him, namely, the conquest of 

* * Harald Fairhair " 151 

the communities living in Western and South- 
western Norways, from Halogaland round the 
whole of the coast as far as W^estfold, and which 
was broken up into a number of separate and 
independent fylkies, with the sea before them and 
the great mountain barrier behind. They seemed 
safe against attack, and had for the most part been 
independent for many generations. There had 
never been a time before, as far as we know, when 
these maritime fylkies had all obeyed one master. 
They were no doubt, however, grouped into larger 
communities, united by racial ties and similar 
customs and laws. They may have had tribal 
chiefs who, as was the habit, divided their heritage 
among their sons, each one being styled a king. 
This meant no more in Norway than that they 
paid no tax or dues to any superior. Harald's 
object was to weld them all into one State, as his 
contemporaries in Sweden and Denmark had 
done theirs. 

The whole proceeding looks at first sight like a 
purely ruthless buccaneering expedition, unpro- 
voked and inspired by mere lust of conquest and 
plunder, the innate prompting of a piratical race 
and of its ambitious ruler. Although probably 
thus prompted it must be added that its ulti- 
mate result was that of putting an end to 
piracy in the North, and this fact no doubt 
greatly strengthened Harald's hands, for it meant 
protecting the peaceable bonders or farmers 
from the assaults of a cruel and untamed race, 
and the substitution of law and order for the 
capricious justice of a most insolent and undaunted 
caste of fighting men. 

He determined to begin by attacking the richest 
but the least powerful of these confederacies of 
fylkies, namely, that which occupied the fertile 

152 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

valleys grouped round the great Throndheim fiord, 
which was more open to attack than any other on 
the West coast, and which (having formed a part of 
the realm of Eystein the Great, King of the 
Uplands, the eastern part of which latter Harold 
had in such large measure subdued), he might well 
deem he had some rights to, and he made prepara- 
tions accordingly. 

" Thereupon," says the Heimskringla, '' the 
kinsmen " gathered much folk together and armed 
themselves to invade the Uplands. Thus did 
Harald set out for his great venture, which 
eventually led him far afield and was to take him 
four years to accomplish. Of the two ways to his 
goal, the one which led by the sea no doubt was 
too risky, nor is it likely that at this time he 
commanded a sufficient fleet for such an under- 
taking. It would certainly arouse the animosity of 
the most powerful and dangerous of the Yiking 
communities, whose strongholds he would have 
had to pass on the way. He, therefore, chose the 
overland route, which must then have been diffi- 
cult, for the forests were still largely uncleared and 
the population was sparse, and it no doubt involved 
great obstacles in provisioning his men, hardy and 
enduring as they were, with food and necessaries. 
These difficulties did not daunt him, however, and 
we are told he went up into the Uplands, and so 
northwards through the Dales, and thence again 
north over the Dovre-Fell, the great Scandinavian 

When he and his men first reached a peopled 
country they began to ravage and kill. Those who 
would not submit fled down the valleys, some to 
Orkdale, some to Gauldale, and some into the 
forests. The invaders found nothing to resist them 
till they came to Orkdale itself, where the people 

'■'' Harald Fair hair''' 153 

had assembled under a petty king called Gr^jting. 
There is still a small town called Orkedalseren at 
the influx of the river Orka into the Orkdale 

In the fight which followed, (Harald won the 
battle) Gryting was captured and many of his 
people were slain. Their king was humble and 
swore fealty to the conqueror, whereupon all the 
people of Orkdale also submitted and became 
Harald's men (Harald the Fair's Saga, ch. 5). 

After this Harald went " to Gauldale," and 
fought there, and killed two kings and annexed the 
fylkies of Gauldale and Strinde in Throndheim, 
and he gave larl Hakon, the iarl of Halogaland, 
who had submitted to him, charge of the 
conquered country.* Harald went on to Stior- 
dale and received the submission of that fylki also. 
After these victories the up-country people of 
Throndheim gathered together under four kings 
to oppose Harald, one of them was the ruler 
of Verdale, another of Skaun, the third of the fylki 
of the Sparbiders, and the fourth of the Isles fylki. 
In the battle which followed the victory was again 
with him, and in it two of the kings were killed, 
while two escaped. Altogether, we are told, he had 
fought eight battles and destroyed eight of the 
kings, and all Throndheim had become subject to 
him (Saga of Harald Fairhair,v.). These eight rulers 
had been united in a common League governed by 
a common code, called the Thronderlag, and 
had a common Legislative Assembly. It met at 
Nidaros, which was so called from the river Nid, 
where it was planted. The people of Thronheim 
as I have said, were very different from those of 

• As we saw in an earlier page, he was the descendant of the old 
Kings of Halogaland, and had a long pedigree and no doubt rejoiced at 
the overthrow of the descendants of Eystein in Throndheim. 

154 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

other parts of West Norway, from whom they were 
cut off by mountains and forests. Their country 
was more fertile and temperate in climate owing to 
the Gulf Stream. They were prosperous farmers, 
traders and fishermen, and being well-to-do had no 
occasion to join the piratical expedition of their 
countrymen further south. The Vikings found few 
recruits among them, nor did many of them settle 
in Iceland or the Western colonies. On the other 
hand, as we shall see, they colonized the upper 
country of North Norway and Sweden, in large 

Having thus conquered the several inland 
fylkies of Throndheim, Harald compelled the 
bonders or farmers to pay dues to him, both rich 
and poor, and he set up a iarl in each fylki to 
collect the skatt or taxes, of which one-third was 
to go to himself for his board and the costs of 
administration. Each iarl was to have under him 
four hersirs or more, each of whom was to have 
20 marks for his maintenance. For this each iarl 
was to supply 60 men, for the King's army at his own 
cost and each hersir 20. So much were the revenues 
of the land increased by these measures that the 
iarls had a bigger income than the Kings had before 
and when the news spread throughout Throndheim 
many rich men came to King Harald and took 
service under him (Saga of Harald, 6). 

Ainong these by far the most important was 
Hakon, son of Griotgard above-mentioned, iarl of 
Halogaland, who presently became Harald's right 
hand man. The submission of Hakon meant that 
of the province over which he. had ruled, namely, 
Halogaland, which thus became part of Harald's 
realm without a struggle. The fact of Hakon 
having offered no resistance is notable, and 
supports the view above urged that his interests 

** Harald Fairhair 


and sympathies were not those of the foreign 
princes who ruled the rest of the land. North- 
east of Halogaland was the fylki of Naumdal with 
which it had close ties of race. It was ahnost 
certainly once ruled by princes of the same, 
stock (namely, that of the Saemings). Its rulers, 
when Harald arrived, were styled Kings, while 
those of Halogaland were styled iarls. It is also 
noteworthy that when Harald divided his kingdom 
into sections among his sons, Halogaland, Naumdal, 
and Nordmere were given to one son, while the 
inner fiords of Throndheim were given to another. 

Harald's next step was the conquest of 
Naumdale, which was then ruled over by two kings 
who were brothers. They were named Herlang and 
Hrollaug. They had been three summers making 
a howe or burial mound doubtless for their own 
burial. It was built of stone and lime and roofed 
with timber. It was doubtless also covered in with 
earth, although the fact is not mentioned. This 
was just finished when news arrived of Harald's 
approach with his army. It was clearly impossible 
for the brothers to resist. Herlaug, with the 
Spartan instincts of his race, determined to put an 
end to his own life rather than become another 
man's deputy, and to do it in an original way. 
He placed a store of victuals and drink in the howe 
and then went in himself with eleven men and 
had the entrance closed. 

His brother, Hrollaug, we are told, went to the 
top of another howe near by, whereon the Kings 
were wont to sit in state. He decked out the royal 
seat and then sat upon it ; he then placed pillows on 
the seat below, where the iarls had been wont to sit, 
and came down from the high seat to the humbler 
one and gave himself the style of iarl, that is to 
say, he divested himself of his kingly status and 

1 56 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

accepted that of a iarl under Harald. He then 
went to meet the latter and surrendered his reahn, 
and asked to become his man, and told him what he 
had done. Then, we are told, King Harald took a 
sword and fastened it to his girdle, and hung a 
shield about his neck and made him his iarl, 
and led him to a high seat and proclaimed him 
iarl of the Naumdale fylki (op. cit., ch. 8). The 
mode of investiture thus described is very in- 
teresting and early. Naumdale, like Halogaland, 
afterwards supplied a large number of emigrants to 
Iceland, to which it was nearer than any other 
part of Norway. 

After this Harald retu]:-ned to Throndheim and 
spent the winter there, and called it his home ever 
after, and there he built the finest house in the 
country, which was called Ladir, whence the later 
iarls of Ladir, took their title. The same winter 
he married Asa, the daughter of iarl Hakon, who 
had freely submitted to him as we saw, and whom, 
we are told, he held in highest honour among 
all men (Saga of Harald Haarfagr, ch. ix). 

Having subdued those of the Northern fylkies 
which he could approach overland, he now turned 
his thoughts to those further south which could 
only be approached by the sea, and which were 
sheltered from attack from the land-side by the 
great mountains. He had, therefore, to prepare a 
fleet, and we are told that during the winter he 
built himself a great galley shaped like a dragon 
and arrayed in noble fashion. This he manned 
with his Court guards and his hareserks^ or 
indomitable champions."^ The best tried men, 
called the stem-men, with the King's banner were 

* It is doubtful what the word means ; Snorri gives the name to 
Odin's warriors, who fought without byrnies or coats of mail and in 
bare shirts (Serks or Sarks). Hornklofi the poet, however, groups them 
with Wolf Coats as if the name meant Bearskins (Magnussen iv. 298). 

** Harnld Fairhair" 157 

in front. Aft of the stern as far as the baling 
place was the forecastle, which was specially 
manned by bareserks, the very pick of the crew for 
strength, good heart, and prowess. Besides this 
Royal vessel, which was then no doubt of pheno- 
menal size and splendour in the North, Harald 
had with him a large number of big ships, and 
many mighty men followed him. 

The poet Hornklofi, in his famous Glymdrapa, 
apostrophized him and his doings in this venture, 
but the verses are, as Vigfusson shows, utterly 
corrupt (see Harald's Saga, ch. ix). 

In the spring Harald set out with his fleet from 
Throndheim southwards towards Mere (really 
North-Mere), which was doubtless peopled by the 
same stock and perhaps ruled by the same family 
as its southern neighbour Raumsdale. The King 
of North-Mere was Hunthiof, who was the father 
of Solvi, styled Klofi. Raumsdale was ruled by 
Nockvi. He was Hunthiof's father-in-law, and 
they w^ent together against Harald and met his 
forces at Solskel, now Solskelo in Aedo parish, off 
the coast of the southern part of North-Mere 
(Magnussen Heimskringla, iv. 279). As usual 
Harald won the fight, and both the kings who 
opposed him (^.6., Hunthiof and Knockwi) fell, but 
Solvi escaped. Ari has preserved another verse of 
Hornklofi referring to this fight, which is very 
corrupt. Harald appropriated the two fylkies 
dwelt there a greater part of the summer, 
and proceeded to set up law and justice, and 
established rulers over them and took their 
fealty. Harald appointed Rognwald, (the son of 
Eystein Glumra), iarl of North-Mere and Raunjs- 
dale (w^hence he was afterwards known as the 
Mere iarl), and assigned him lords and franklins, 
or freemen, and also ships wath which he 

158 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

might protect the country. He was known as 
Kognwald the Mighty or Keen-counselled, and it 
was said he deserved both titles equally well. He 
was the ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy and 
and of our Norman Kings. Harald spent the next 
winter at Throndheim. 

Meanwhile Solvi, the son of Hunthiof, had 
remained with his ships all the winter, had 
harried in North-Mere and had slain many of 
King Harald's men, robbed others, and burnt the 
houses of others. Part of the time he stayed 
with Arnvid, his kinsman, the King of South- 
Mere, which lay south of Kaumsdale '^ the latter 
fylki, in fact, divided the two Meres from one 
another, forming an important race frontier as 
well, since it divided the Thronds, of whom we 
have said so much, from the Hords, of whom we 
shall say more presently. 

When Harald heard of their doings he got his 
fleet together and in the spring set out for South- 
Mere, where Solvi gathered a considerable number 
of those who were discontented with Harald. He 
also paid a visit to King Audbiorn who ruled in 
Firda fylki, or Firdir (the Firths, a maritime 
kingdom of south-west Norway) now Nord-og 
Sondfiord in the Stift of Bergen (Magnussen iv. 
249) It was the very focus of Yiking activity, the 
Lochlannoch of the Irish writers, which merely 
translates the name. He asked him to aid him and 
urged that there were only two courses for them to 
follow, either to rise up against the aggressive King 
or to become his slaves, which was a thing not to 
be thought of in the case of a person like Harald, 
who was not more nobly born than themselves. 

* It is possible in fact that all three fylkies N. and S. Mere and 
Raumsdale, which formed a wedge between the Thronds and Hords, 
were peopled by the Raum Stock which had come down to the seaboard 
by way of Raumsdal. 

♦* Harald Fatrhair 


'' My father," he said, " deemed it a better choice 
to fall in battle as a real king than to be one of 
Harald's underlings." Audbiorn was talked over 
by this rhetoric and set out to join his forces to 
those of Solvi and of King Arnvid. At this point 
we get an important sidelight from a responsible 
and trustworthy Saga, which was written down 
about 1160 — 1200, but preserves a good tradition 
and is generally trusted, namely, Egil's Saga. 

It begins with the story of a certain Ulf, who 
lived in Firda fylki, and whose father was a notable 
person and one of King Audbion's feudatories. 
He was famous for his height and strength and had 
been a noted Viking. He had a partner named 
Kari of Berdla, already named, also a strong and 
daring pirate and a bareserk. The two had a 
common purse and had acquired great wealth, had 
both given up piracy and were living on their 
estates, and were great friends. Kari had two sons, 
Eyvind Lambi and Aulvir Knuf, and a daughter 
Salbgory, whom Ulf had married. Ulf, we are told, 
took the title of liegeman, as his father had done. 
He was a very considerable personage and looked 
carefully after his affairs. He rose early and then 
went round among his labourers and smiths, over- 
looked his stock and fields, and would talk with 
those who needed good counsel, but in the evening 
he became duller, and we read that he was "an 
evening sleeper." He was surnamed Kueld Ulf. He 
had two sons, Thorolf and Grim, fashioned largely 
on their father's pattern. The former was comely 
and cheery, like his mother while Grim was swarthy 
and ill-favoured like his father, and like him a good 
man of business, and skilled in working wood and 
iron. In the winter he often went to the herring 
fishing with his father's men. . When Thorold 
was 20 years old his father gave him a long ship 

i6o Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

with which to pursue the profitable profession of 
piracy and his uncles Eyvind and Aulvir, the sons 
of Kari, his grandfather, joined in the venture 
in another long ship. For several summers they 
engaged in buccaneering, and spent their winters 
at home with their fathers and mothers ; to whom, 
we are told, Thorolf took many costly things. 

At this time Harald was engaged in his great 
campaign again, the kings of the Western fylkies 
among them, as we have seen, was Audbiorn, King 
of the Firthfolk, who summoned his feudatory 
Ulf to go to the help of himself and his con- 
federates against Harald. Kueldulf replied that 
' he would consider it his duty to fight alongside 
of him in defence of the Firths, but it was 
no part of his duty to defend Mere from attack, 
and he further thought that Harald had a 
load of good fortune, while Audbiorn had but 
a handful. He accordingly remained on his property 
and took no part in the fight (where his suzerain, 
Audbion, was killed), and about which Ari preserves 
another verse from Hornklofi's sadly corrupt poem. 
It was then the custom, says Harald's Saga when 
men fought on ship-board, to bind the ships 
together and to fight from the forecastle, and this 
happened now. King Harald laid his ship alongside 
that of King Arnvid of South Mere, and many men 
fell in the melee which followed ; Harald fought in 
the midst of his men and with such e:ffect 
that some of the crew of Arnvid's ship were 
pressed back to the mast and others fell, and 
presently the rest took to flight. The two allied 
Kings fell fighting. The struggle must, however, 
have been a desperate one, for among those who 
were killed on Harald's side were Asgaut and 
Asbiorn, who were doubtless well known champions, 
and two of his iaicls, Griotgard and Herlaug (one of 
his wives' brothers, and sons of iarl Hakon of Ladir). 

'' Harald Fairhair'' > i6i. 

Sol vi again escaped and became a Viking. He greatly 
ravaged ' Harald's kingdom, and afterwards killed 
one of his sons, Guthorm, who governed "The 
Wik," or " Vik," comprising the fylkies border'ing 
on the Bay of Fold (now Christiania fiord, viz.: 
Grenland, Westfold, Vingulmark, and Alfheim 
(Mag., op. cit., iv. 291). This, was in a battle at 
the mouth of the Elf or Gotha river (Heinjskringla,. 
c*h. 33). 

Harald now completely appropriated South-Mere," 
but Vemund, the son of Audbiorn, still retained 
the throne of the Firth people. He would have 
gone against him but the autumn was much 
advanced and he was persuaded by his followers 
that it was dangerous to sail round the Stad, 
{i.e.^ Stadtlandet, or Cape Stadt, the westermost 
peninsula and promontory of South-Mere — Mag- 
nussen, op. cit., iv. 280). Harald therefore added 
South-Mere to Hakon's iarldom and returned to 
Throiidheiin (Saga of Harald Fairhair, ch. 12). 

Meanwhile Harald's friend, iarl Eognwald, set 
out to take possession of the Firths where Vemund 
still held out. He went by the inner course 
through Eid, or Inner Eid, now called Mandseid,"^ 
and then southward past the Firths and surprised 
King Vemund in his house called Naustdale,t 
where he was feasting. He set fire to it and 
burnt him to death with 90 of his men, a 
ruthless fate which was often dealt out by the 
Northmen and which he himself had to meet at a 
later day. After this Eognwald was joined by 
Kari of, Berdla.j Ari says he was a mighty 

• That is through the upper part of the isthmus which connects 
Stadt with the mainland on the North side of North fiord in Firth fylki 
(Mag.. 246). 

t Now called Naustdal in the parish of Eid in Nord fiord in the 
northern part of Firth fylki (Mag. iv. 266). 

\ This place, now called Berle, was an ancient manor house on the 
south-eastern coast of the large island of Brimangrsland, now Bremanger, 
in' the mouth of the North fiord (Mag., 241). '-^ 

1 62 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

bareserk. With a long ship they returned together 
to North-Mere. Rognwald took the ships belonging 
to Vemund and also his goods. 

After this in the spring King Harald him- 
self went from Throndheim to Firda fylki and 
subdued all the people there and according 
to the Heimskringla he left them in charge 
of Hakon, the iarl of Ladir. In Egil's Saga 
(which is probably right, since Hakon's own iarl- 
dom in the North was far away) we are told that 
he gave it to Hroald, who had been a iarl under 
King Audbiorn (Op. cit., 2). The same Saga says 
that King Harald was very careful when he had 
got new people under his power to keep watch on 
the liegemen and such land owners and others who 
might raise a rebellion. He insisted either on their 
becoming his own liegemen, or going abroad, or else 
imposed harder conditions, and even the loss of 
life or limb, and treated as his own freeholds all their 
patrimonies, and all lands, tilled or untilled, and all 
sea and fresh water lakes. All the landowners must 
become his tenants, with all who worked in the forest, 
salt burners and hunters, and fishers on land or sea. 
They all now owed him duty (I^., iv). He then went 
eastward and northward till he arrived at Yik. 
When the King was gone iarl Hakon bade Atli 
the Slender to get him gone from Sogn and to 
become again the iarl in Gaular as he had 
been beforetime, for he said that King Harald 
had given him Sogn. Atli, as we have seen, 
had been given his iarldom of Sogn by Harald's 
father Halfdane. He now replied that he in- 
tended to hold both Sogn and Gaular till he 
had seen Harald. Thereupon the two iarls col- 
lected their forces for a mortal struggle. This 
took place in the fylki of Fialir in Stafanessvagr, 
now Stang fiord. There they fought a great fight 

' ♦ Harald Fairhair " 1 63 

in which iarl Hakoii was killed. This must have 
been a serious loss to Harald for he was a faithful 
and skilled friend of his. Iarl Atli was himself 
mortally wounded and his men carried him to 
'' Atli's Isles," now Atleo, on the north side of the 
mouth of Dalsfiord in the fylki of Fialir. There 
he died. 

After the late battle Harald, as we have seen, 
went down himself with his fleet to the Firths. He 
then sent messengers to invite Ulf [i.e.^ Kueldulf) to 
go and see him, no doubt to secure his homage. The 
latter replied that he was too old and unfit for war. 
They then suggested that one of his sons should go, 
for they were tall men and likely warriors, and they 
told Grim, who was the only one at home, that 
Harald would make him a lord if he went. He replied 
that he would be a liegeman under none as long as 
his father lived ; " while he lives he shall be my liege 
lord." The old man replied that he would be 
Harald' s friend that he would persuade others 
to be so, and that he would be prepared to hold the 
same authority from his hand that he had held 
from his former King Audbiorn, but he would not 
go to him. Thorolf, his elder son, he added, was 
not at home, but engaged on an expedition, but 
on his return he might go to Harald if he pleased 
and become his man. With this answer the king 
was apparently content. 

It would seem that Ulf's father-in-law, Kari of 
Berdla above named, and his sons, had followed the 
example of his partner and had not taken part 
in the late fight. After the battle the sons of iarl 
Atli of Gaula attacked Aulvir Knuf, Kari's son, 
at his home, intending to kill him, but he escaped 
and fled to King Harald and submitted to him, and 
went to Throndheim with him and became one of 
his scalds. Aulvir had married Solveig the Fair, 

i64 Saga-Book of the ViMyig Society. 

daughter of iarl Atli, whom he had met at a 
great gathering for a sacrificial feast at Gaular, 
and for whom he composed many love songs, 
and left off freehooting, while his brother 
Eyvind kept it on (JZ)., 11). After King Yemund 
had been killed by iarl Rognwald, Kari himself, 
who was no doubt an old man, went to the 
latter with a fully-manned long ship, and after- 
wards went to King Harald at Throndheim and 
also became his man (Op. cit., ch. iv.). 

^Meati while Thorolf, Ulf's son, who had been on 
a Viking cruise with his uncle (Kari^s son Eyvind 
Lambi) returned home and heard of what had 
happened. His father Ulf told him that he himself 
had in fact declined to become Harald's man and 
foresaw only trouble in doing so, but that he might 
please himself, althousjh he counselled him to follow 
his own example. Thorolf decided differently, for 
he thought he should get much advancement froni 
Harald if he became his man. He had heard that 
he had only valiant men in his guard whom he 
treated generously and well, and he told his father 
that if he had had prophetic foresight of what would 
happen, why had he not gone to help his own king 
Audbiorn in the late battle. It was not reasonable 
to be neither his friend nor his enemy. The old man 
replied that he must choose his own path. If he 
chose to join Harald's guard he was sure that he 
would be equal to the foremost among them in 
feats of manhood. He counselled him to keep 
within bounds and not to try and rival his betters, 
nor yet yield to others overmuch, and when Thorolf 
set out for the North he accompanied him to 
the ship, and embraced him and gave him his 
good wishes (J&., vi.). 

y At this time Harald also secured another 
champion, namely Bard, whose story is worth 

■■ ** Harald Fair hair'' 165 

telling. His grandfather, named Biorgalf, was a 
powerful and wealthy land owner who lived at Tor- 
gar, in Halogaland, and who had grown old and lost 
his wife. - One autumn there was a banquet at Leka, 
at which Biorgalf and his son were the most honour- 
able guests present. In the evening the guests were 
paired off by lots to drink together, as was the old 
custom. There was present a man of great wealth, 
handsome and shrewd, but of no family. He had a 
beautiful daughter called Hildirida, and the lot fell 
upon her to sit by Biorgalf. The old man was 
captivated by her. The next autunm he went in 
a ship of his own, holding 30 men, and went 
with 20 of his crew, to call on Hildirida's 
father Hogni, who went to meet him and 
offered him welcome for himself and party which 
was accepted. When they had taken of! their 
travelling clothes and put their mantles on, Hogni 
gave orders to bring in a great bowl of beer, and 
Hildirida helped the guests to it. The old man 
then told his host that he had come to fetch his 
daughter and proposed to marry ber then and 
there, and having received an ounce of gold from 
his guest, the marriage followed. Hildirida went 
home with her old husband by whom she had 
two sons, soon after which he died. 

Thereupon Biorgalf's eldest son Bryngalf, to 
whom he had some time before made over all his 
affairs, drove away Hildirida and her sons, nor would 
he let her share in his father's fortune. This was 
the beginning of a long tragedy. She thereupon 
returned home to her father, whose fortune she and 
her boys inherited. Bryngalf had a son Bard, who 
presently married Sigridi, the daughter of Sigurd, 
who was deemed the richest man thereabouts, and 
his daughter was the best match in Halogaland. He 
went to woo her on a ship manned by 30 men 

i66 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

His offer was accepted and he proposed to return 
next summer to wed her and take her home. 

Meanwhile King Harald summoned all the 
principal men in Halogaland to go to him, and Bryn- 
galf and his son duly went southward to Thrond- 
heim and there they met the king who received 
them gladly, made Bryngalf a liegeman and gave 
him large grants, besides what he had before, and 
notably the office of collecting the skatt or tribute 
from the Finns, the right of travelling among 
them, the control of the king's business on the fells, 
and the Finn traffic. A similar position had been 
held by his father. Bryngalf returned home and 
Bard became one of the king's bodyguards. Of 
all these guards, says Egil's Saga, Harald most 
prized his scalds, and of them Audun Ill-Skald, 
the oldest, sat innermost. He had been his 
father's poet. Next sat Thorbiorn Kaven, then 
Aulvir Knuf already named, and next to him was 
placed Bard who was named Bard the White, or the 
Strong. He was held in high honour by all, but 
especially by Aulvir Knuf. The same autumn 
Thorolf, Kueldulf's son, and Eyvind Lambi, Kari of 
Berdla's son, arrived at Throndheim in a swift 
twenty-benched long ship, well manned, which they 
had previously used in their Viking voyages. They 
were introduced to Harald by Kari of Berdla and 
Aulvir Knuf. The king said he would do well by 
Thorolf if he should prove himself as accomplished 
in deed as he was brave in looks. Thereupon 
the latter joined the king's household and became 
one of his guard. Meanwhile Kari of Berdla and 
his son Eyvind returned to their own estate in the 
same ship which had brought Thorolf. The king 
gave Thorolf a seat between Aulvir Knuf and Bard 
and the three became close friends. In the autumn 
Bard asked leave to go and fetch his bride, 

♦* Harald Fairhair " 167 

which was given him, and he asked Thorolf 
to go with him saying he would meet many of his 
kinsmen of renown whom he had not seen or known 
in Halogahxnd. At the wedding there was a great 
gathering and, as Bard had said, Thorolf met many 
of his relations he had not seen before. The 
wedding was held at the house of the bride's father 
Sigurd, who gave a splendid feast, after which Bard 
and his wife went to his own home and Thorolf 
with him, and in the autumn returned to the king 
and was with him during the winter. At this time 
Bryngalf, Bard's father died; Bard asked Harald 
to let him go home to take up his inheritance, and 
the king made him one of his liegeman as his 
father had been, and he held of him all the 
offices which Bryngalf had held, and became a 
great chief (76., x.). 

King Harald had meanwhile taken his host 
eastward into the Wik and, according to Ari, laid 
up his ships at Tunsberg or Tonsberg, which was a 
famous cheaping place or market. The name had, 
as we have seen, replaced one of wider fame, namely, 
Skiringsal, which was a very notable trading mart 
in earlier times. It was situated in Harald's own 
fatherland of Westfold. 

Harald had now been engaged for four years 
in conquering and settling his north-western 
dominions, and it was quite time he should return 
to look after those in the east, where things were 
not going on so well. At Tonsberg he heard of 
the ambitious schemes of Eric Eymundson 
the king of Sweden, who had invaded 1)he frontier 
province of Wermeland and claimed taxes from 
its woodland people (Harald Fairhair's Saga, 
xiv.) He also claimed to extend the western 
borders of West Gothland, beyond the river 
Gotha, and as far as Swinesund, thus encroaching 

*i 68 Saga-Book of the Viliin^ ' Society. ' 

Oil a recognised old frontier of Norway. He 
not only levied dues there, but also appointed 
the Gothlander Kani to rule the district as his 
deputy or iarl, between Swinesund and the Gaut 
Elf, or Gotha. His pretensions were still greater for 
he claimed that he intended to appropriate all the 
lands in " The Wik " which he alleged had been 
ruled over by his great ancestor Sigurd Eing and his 
son Ragnar Lodbrog. This included Raumariki and 
Westfold as far as Grenmar (now LangBsunds- 
fjorden), with Vingulmark and the country to the 
South, that is to say, the very kernel of Harald's 
dominions. Probably as the result of the latter's 
absence in the the West many chiefs in these 
frontier lands had turned their eyes to the great 
King of Upsala. Harald was naturally much dis- 
tressed at the news, and summoned a gathering, 
or mote, of his bonders, or farmers, in the district of 
Westfold and charged them with treason to himself. 
Some denied it, some paid money as a fine, and 
others were punished. Thus he spent the summer, 
and in the autumn he went to Raumariki, upon 
which he also laid a heavy hand. 

• Meanwhile he heard that the Swedish King was 
going to and fro in Wermeland and claiming quarters 
and forcible entertainment there. He accordingly 
crossed the great Eid Forest and entered Werme- 
land, where he in turn claimed entertainment. 
There lived there a very rich old bonder, 
the mightiest man in the place, who was called 
Aki. He sent his son and bade Harald to a 
feast on a certain day, on which he also in- 
vited the Swedish King. Aki's great guest-hall 
had grown old so he built a second one, quite as 
big and well appointed as the older one. He 
furnished it with new furniture, while he kept the 
old for the older building. 

" Harald Fairhatr"" i6q 

!" In the old hall he entertained the Swedish King, 
while Harald was his guest in the new one. The 
fopner drank from the old beakers and horns well 
decked with gold, but Harald's, which were new, 
were, probajbly more showy. In either case the 
drinl^ was of the best. The reason for the dis- 
tinction shown by Aki to Harald was that he had 
once been the liegeman of Halfdane the Black, 
Harald's father. 

The feast having ended, the kings put on their 
travelling dress. Aki sent his son Ubbi, who was 
twelve years old, to Harald and begged him, if 
he approved of his goodwill, to reward the boy by 
making him his page or attendant ; Harald duly 
acknow^ledged the hospitality which had been 
shewn him, and Aki produced many lordly gifts, 
while he and the king greeted each other with 
a kiss. 

After this Aki went to say goodbye to the 
Swedish King, whom he found clad for his depar- 
ture, and, as might have been expected, in a by no 
means amiable mood. Aki offered his presents, but 
the king answered little and leaped on horseback 
while Aki accompanied him. The road passed 
through a wood near the house and when they 
came to it the king asked him why he had treated 
him so differently to the way he had treated 
Harald, although he knew that he was his man. 

"I deem it Lord," said Aki, "that neither 
Harald nor thyself has lacked aught at the feast. 
If thfe appointments in the hall were pld so was 
the king himself, whereas Harald being in the flower 
of his age had the newer things. As to his being 
the king's man, Aki held that Eric was just as much 
his own man, whereupon Eric clove him down with 
his sword and killed his host ; assuredly a brutal 

i^o' Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

act, even if the old man Aki had been exception- 
ally tactless in steering through a difficult position. 

When Harald was ready to mount, he summoned 
Aki. His men went to look for him and found him 
dead on the road. He called on them to avenge 
their host. They thereupon rode together in 
pursuit of King Eric until they reached the forest 
that separates Gothland from Wermeland. There 
Harald turned back into Wermeland, which he 
subdued, and slew King Eric's men wherever he 
found them. After which he returned to Kau- 
mariki and dwelt there awhile. Thence he went 
to visit his fleet at Tonsberg. Having put the 
ships in trim he crossed over the Firth with them 
to Yingulmark, and through the winter he harried 
much in Ranriki, i.e.^ the district between Swine- 
sund and the Gotha, administered by iarl Rani, 
who had probably given it his name, for the 
Swedish King. 

Meanwhile the Gothlanders began to get 
together from the country side, and when the 
spring came they staked the river Gotha so that 
Harald might not bring his ships up into the land, 
but the latter took them up as far as the stakes 
and then harried the land on either side and burnt 
the homesteads. Thereupon the Gothlanders 
came down with a mighty host and a great fight 
and slaughter took place, but Harald prevailed. 
After his victory he went to and fro about Goth- 
land, and many fights took place on the river 
Gotha. In one of them fell Rani, the Gothland 
iarl. Then Harald subdued the land north of 
the river Gotha and west of Lake Wener, together 
with all Wermeland; and he set his uncle Guthorm to 
rule over them; he thus largely increased the latter's 
government. Harald then turned to the Uplands and 
dwelt there awhile, whence he crossed the Dovrefell 

' ' Harald Fairhair " » 7 1 

once more to Throndheiiii, where he abode a long 
time, and had many children. 

It was hardly possible that after he had con- 
quered so much, Harald should not wish to 
complete his work and bring all Norway under his 
sway. On the other hand, his ambition and his 
unqualified successes hitherto, made him a per- 
petual danger to the few States which were still 
free, and we are told that they confederated 
together against him with many ships and men. 
Their chiefs were Eric, King of Hordaland, 
who was Harald's father-in-law ; Sulki, king 
of Eogaland and larl Soti, his brother ; Kiotvi* 
the Wealthy, king of Agdir, who in Hornklofi's 
poem seems to be treated as head of the Con- 
federacy ; and Thorir Longchin. From Thelemarkf 
there came Ronald and Rig, and with them Hadd 
the Hardy. 

When Harald heard of their doings he in turn 
collected his forces : it was a mighty array from 
every folk land that counted him as its master. 
He presently came South and arrived near the 
Stad, now t^tadt-landet^ or Cape Stadt, the most 
westerly peninsula and promontory of Southmere 
(Mag., iv. 280). King Eric of Hordaland, heard 
of it, so he in turn went South to meet his 
friends who were coming from the East, and 
they all met north of Yadaren, {i.e.^ on the western 
coast of Rogaland, south of the Boknfirth archi- 
pelago), and then went on to Hafursfiord, (now 

* Vigfussen thinks that Kiotvi is a Norse corruption of Kiotvan. 
which he suggests was a Gaelic name like other names in the Land- 
namabok ending in n., i.e., Beslan, Trostan, Kiaran ; Haklangr 
sounds as if translated from Gaelic, like Svarthodfdi, Hunding, and so 
many more. These chiefs, he says, were of half Gaelic blood, like so 
many of the Icelandic settlers, C.P.B.. i. 73. 

t An inland fylki surrounded by Hordaland on the N.W. ; Numdale 
on the S.W. ; E. Grenland on the E. ; and Agdir on the S. and W. 

172 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

Hafrsfiord in Yadaren), where Harald was awaiting 
them. A great and long fight ensued. Harald 
won the battle. He in fact probably had an 
overwhelming force. King Eric was killed, so 
were King Sulki and larl Thorir with the long 
chin, who was a great bareserk. He had laid his 
ship alongside of King Harald's, and it was a fierce 
fight before he was killed, after which, in the 
grim words of the Saga, " his ship, was utterly 

King Kiotyi fled away to a certain holm 
where there was a good fighting position and the 
rest of the survivors also fled, some by ship and 
others escaped up the country, and so to the South 
about Yadar. 

The poet Hornklofi has some picturesque 
touches in regard to this fateful fight, which became 
a byword for many a day. He speaks of the ships, 
with their grim gaping heads and "fair-graven '' prow 
plates, and of the white shields that hung around 
their sides, of spears from the Westland, and Welsh 
wrought swords (probably from Flanders or Britain), 
of the roaring of the bareserks, and the howling of 
the wolfcoats. He speaks also of " the bold Lord of 
the Eastmen, the bider at Utsteinn or Outstone,"* 
(i.e.^ iarl Thorir), and again of the brawny-necked 
king who waxed weary with protecting his country 
from Shockhead (meaning Harald) and found shelter 
at the holm, (^.e., Kiotvi). " Down 'neath the decks 
dived the wounded warriors, their buttocks uphoven 
and their heads laid by the keel " (Op. cit., ch. 19). 

Gustav Storm, who was a friend of mine, and 
was a distinguished scholar of Munch and the 
editor of his works, wrote a short memoir on the 

* This was a manor of Harald*s situated on the west of an island 
of the same name, now called Utsteno, or Klostero, off Rogaland. It 
is now, says Magnusson, called Utsten or Utstens Kloster from the 
Augiistinian monastery which existed there in later times (Op. cit., 270). 

^^ Har aid Fair hair " 173 

battle of Hafrsiiord, entitled, *' Slaget i Havrs- 
fiord," in which he reached some conclusions about 
the fight which are very reasonable, and to 
which I must refer. He points out that Olaf the 
White, the Norwegian king of Dublin, who had 
filled that office since the year 853, disappears 
from the chief Irish Annalfe about the year 871. 
There is no notice of his death, which is singular, 
since the obits of the foreign princes are very 
regularly entered in these Annals. The last entry 
about him in the Annals of Ulster — a most 
reputable work — is in the year 870, where we read 
that he and Ivar his brother returned to Athcliath, 
{i.e.^ Dublin), from Alba, or Scotland, with 200 ships 
and a great multitude of men ; English, Britons, 
and Picts who were taken back as captives to 
Ireland. In 872, Ivar who is mentioned in the 
same annals as King of all Norsemen of Ireland 
and Britain, finished his life. 

There is one important work, which strongly 
supports Storm's conclusion, but of which we only 
have fragments. They are preserved at Brussels and 
were published by J. 'Donovan under the name of 
" Three Irish Fragments." In this work, after 
reporting the return of Olaf from Scotland, which 
it puts in 871, the author says : In that year Olaf 
went from Ireland to Lochlann, i.e., Norway, (for 
at that time there was war among the Lochlannag, 
i.e., Northmen), to help his father Godfred or 
Gudrod, who had sent to ask his son to go and 
help him. This war can only have been the 
one we have described between King Harald and 
the rulers, of South-Western Norway, which ended 
in the battle of Hafrsfiord, and which the Northern 
writers, including Ari, put in the year 871 or 872. 
Storm further suggests that Kiotvi (who was 
King of Agdir and a distinguished leader of 

174 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

the rebellious Vikings) was a foreign name, and 
that he also had a Norwegian name, and was really 
perhaps called Godfred, and that '' Kiotvi " or 
Ceotvi was his descriptive name, or cognomen." If 
so, then Kiotvi was the father of Olaf the White. 
Storm further suggests that Haklang (named as a 
hero of the fight by Hornklofi) was a cognomen 
of Olaf. This would fit in very well with the fact 
that Haklang, as we know, was killed in the battle of 
Hafrsfiord, while on the other hand, Olaf is men- 
tioned no more after the date of that fight. That 
Kiotvi and Haklang were both used as cognomnia 
is shewn by Storm, who quotes the name of an 
Asbiorn Kiotvi from the Vatnisdla Saga, while Hak- 
lang is used as the cognomen of Thore in Hornklofi's 
poem. Against all these coincidences I know of only 
one fact for which I have no explanation, namely, 
that Haklang is made in the poem the cognomen, 
not of an Olaf but of a Thore. Whatever ex- 
planation there may be of this it seems to me 
clear that that single fact cannot outweigh the 
large number of others which Storm has brought 
together in his paper. I may add that his con- 
tention coiripletely agrees with the date of the great 
fight 871 or 872, as fixed by the old Norse writers 
against that of Vigfusson who puts it in 885. 

The defeat of the Vikings at Hafrsfiord led 
to a large migration to Iceland. Among others 
who thus went was Geirmund, called Hell Skin. He 
had a principality in Eogaland and is called a " host 
King" in the Landnama-bok, but he had long left 
off his Viking life. When Harald's victory drove 
out so many men from their possessions, he thought 
there was no room for him in Norway, so he set out 
for Iceland and took Ulf the Sqinter, his cousin, and 
Stanulf son of Hrolf the Herse of Agd with him. 
Each one of the three went in his own ship. 

' Harald Fairhair 


Another emigrant to Iceland from Agd (or 
Ogdhom, as it was called) who went with 
Geirmund, was Throndr Slimleg. Geirmund must 
have been a considerable person for we are told 
he had 80 freemen (Landnama-bok, ii. 17 — 3). 
Men said that he was more nobly born than any 
other person in Iceland, but had little feud or war 
with other men there because he was old when he 
went to Iceland. There he was buried in a " ship- 
how," (z.6., in a ship buried under a mound), in a wood 
near his house. " Erne was the son of a noblenjan 
and a kinsman of Geirirmnd. He came from 
Rogaland to Iceland because of the oppression of 
King Harald" {Ih., 22—1). 

Ann Eedcloak, son of Grim, we are told, fell 
out with King Harald, who had harried in Ireland. 
He had there married Greliath, the daughter of 
iarl Beartmar, i.e. Great deed, and then went to 
Iceland and settled down where his wife thought 
she could smell the honey {Ih. ii. 22). Another of 
the settlers was Thiord, who professed to be the 
son of a Viking, but most men declared that he 
was the son of King Harald. He himself left many 
distinguished descendants (7^., ii. 23 — 2). Hall- 
ward Sougher fought in the battle of Hafrsfiord 
against King Harald. He came from Shielings, 
in Hordaland, and settled in Iceland {Ih., ii.24 — 3). 
Aurlyg, the son of Bead-were, was another fugitive 
from the oppression of Harald (76., 27 — 1). 
Slate Biorn was a great Viking and a foe of 
King Harald. He went to Iceland and when 
he entered Biorns-firth his ship was all set 
with shields. He was afterwards called Biorn of 
the Shields ; the foundations of his house were 
still to be seen when Ari wrote [Ih.^ 28 — 1). Of 
Hererod (Hwic timber, i.e.. White Sky), we are told 
that he was a man of birth, who was slain by the 

176 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

contrivance of King Harald, and his three' sons 
went to settle in Iceland (J6., ii. 28^4). Balce, 
son of Clong, was also against Harald. He fled to 
Iceland after the battle (16., ii. 30^ — 1). Throndr 
the Far-sailer, son of Biorn, was also against 
Harald at Hafrsfiord and was afterwards banished 
the, land and settled in Iceland (76., v. 12 — 5). 
Orm the Old, who went to Iceland, was the son 
of iarl Eywind, who was with Kiotvi the Wealthy 
against King Harald at Hafrsfiord (ZZ)., v. 16 — 4). 

A more interesting story is told of Ingimund, 
styled the Old, a great Viking, who harried in the 
West in joint cruises with Saemund who was his 
partner. They came back from a raid at the time 
when Harald was coming to the land and setting 
out for Hafrsfiord. Ingimund wished to help the 
King, but Saemund did not, and the two parted. 
After the battle Harald gave Wigdis, the daughter 
of iarl Thore the Silent in marriage to Ingimund, 
who, says our author, could find no peace in Norway, 
whereupon Harald urged him to try his fate in 
Iceland. He said he had never been minded to 
do so. He had apparently been before, for we 
read of him that he was the son of iarl Ingimund, 
iarl of Gautland, and Wigdis, and was brought up 
in the isle of Hefne with Thori, the father of Grim 
and Hiodmund. Heid volvu,2i.e. the Sybil prophesied 
of all three that they would settle in a land that 
was still undiscovered, West over the sea. Ingi- 
mund said he would not do that. She replied that 
he would not be able to help it, and as a token she 
said that the teraph or lot, i.e. the mascot, would 
disappear out of his purse, saying he • would find it 
when he dug a hole to plant his porch pillars in. 
However, he sent two Finns thither, to get back his 
sacred image or family teraph, or penate. It was a 
figure of Frey made in silver, which must have been 

''^ Harald Fairhair'' 177 

concealed by him. On their return the Finns re- 
ported that they had found where the teraph was, but 
could not obtain it, and that it was in a certain dale 
between two woods, and described how the land 
lay. He then set out for Iceland with his 
brother-in-law, his friends, and his thralls or slaves. 
They stayed the winter with Grim, his sworn 
brother. He got a large estate there and duly 
found his teraph buried in the ground as he was 
digging the foundation for his porch pillars. 
Presently he fell upon a white she- 
bear with two cubs on a mere near his home, 
and afterwards went to Norway and gave the bears 
to King Harald. We are told that white bears had 
never before been seen in Norway. Thereupon the 
king gave him the ship Stiganda (Stepper) with a 
cargo of wood, a most welcome and precious gift 
for an Icelander. He returned to the island with 
his two ships and on his return voyage he was the 
first to round the Skaw in Iceland. After this Kaven 
the Eastman stayed with him. He had a good 
sword, which he took into the Temple, whereupon 
Ingimund took it from him ; apparently it was 
deemed wrong to enter a Temple with a weapon 
(76., iii. 5 — 2, 3, and 9). Two incidental notices in 
the story have a special interest of another kind. 
The present treeless character of Iceland makes it 
interesting to read in one sentence of a willow-dale 
at Ingimund's liolt or wood ; another note tells us 
that Ingimund lost ten swine and they were found 
the next harvest time in Swinedale, and there were 
there a hundred swine. " The boar was called 
Beigad " and leapt into Swine mere and swam till 
his hoofs fell off and he died ! ! ! (16., ii. 10). There 
are no swine now in Iceland, and I remember 
Vigfussen telling me that he had never seen one 
when he first read the story of Circe and her 
swine in Homer. 

178 Saga- Book of the Vikiitg Society. 

Let us now return to Egil's Saga. It says that 
when the roll of King Harald's men was called after 
the great fight there were many who had fallen and 
many who were sore wounded. Among the latter 
was Thorolf above named, who was badly hurt, and 
Bard who was worse, nor was there a single man 
unwounded before the mast, except those whom iron 
would not bite, i.e.^ the bareserks. The king had the 
wounds of his men bound up, and he thanked them 
for their valour and gave them gifts. Some he n amed 
steers-men, others forcastle-men, others bow- 
setters. He also saw to the burial of the dead. 

Thorolf 's wounds presently healed, but Bard was 
mortally hit, and he sent for the king and asked 
him to be allowed to name his heir, and on the 
king assenting, he named his friend and kinsman 
Thorolf as successor both to his lands and chattels, 
and left him his wife and the bringing up of his 
son, and then died. 

In the autumn Thorolf, who had won such great 
honour in the great fight asked leave from the king 
to go to Halogaland to take up his heritage from 
Bard. Harald gave his leave and made Thorolf a 
liegeman or landman, and transferred to him all 
the rights he had given Bard in the Finn laud, 
and also gave him a good long ship with all its 
tackling. When he reached Torgar he was well 
received, and Sigridr (Bard's widow) consented 
to the match and was duly betrothed to him, and he 
took over the management of the property and 
also the king's business. He now went in his 
ship with 40 men to Sandness and Alost to get 
the consent of Sigurd to his daughter's marriage. 
He was well received and described to his host the 
details of the fight and how his son-in-law had 
fallen, how he had left him his wife, and how 
the king had consented to the arrangement. 

' * Harald Fairhair " 1 79 

Sigurd duly consented and the marriage was fixed 
for the autumn at Torgar. The wedding was held 
on a great scale. The same winter Sigurd died and 
Thorolf succeeded to all his property. There- 
upon the sons of Hildirida (half-brothers of 
Bard) went to him and put in a claim to some 
of the property which had belonged to their 
father Bjorgalf. This claim he repudiated and 
said it had been also repudiated by Bard, who 
spoke of them as illegitimate. They declared on the 
contrary that they were honourably born and that 
their mother (as they could prove by witnesses), 
had been bought with payment, i.e.^ her father had 
received a wedding gift for her, which was apparently 
necessary to constitute a regular marriage. It was 
true they said that they had not pressed their claim 
against their kinsman but now that the property 
had passed to a stranger they could no longer remain 
silent. Thorolf denied the statement about the 
wedding gift and declared that the mother of the 
claimants had been really carried of! by force and 
taken home as a captive (op. cit., ch. ix). This 
refusal was the cause of Thorolf's eventual undoing. 

To that we will now turn and describe the 
dramatic close of his career. We have seen how 
he became one of Harald's chief champions. 
How he fought at Hafrsfiord and afterwards 
inherited two great estates, and was also given 
the very lucrative post of collector of the skatt 
or tribute paid by the Finns. The mention of 
Finns introduces an interesting issue. Who were 
the Finns referred to in the early Norwegian 
Sagas ? The natural reply would be that they 
were the Lapps, as has sometimes been suggested, 
but this seems to me to be very improbable ; the 
Lapps are not mentioned (at all events by that 
name) for a considerable time after this, and their 

,l8o Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

tradition is that they were late intruders into the 
land which they now occupy, which is called 
Finmark. They brought with them a strain of 
reindeer differing considerably from those of early 
times in Scandinavia and in all probability they came 
from Russian Lappland, which is known as Lapp- 
mark. The Finns it will be remembered were 
treated very largely as equals by the Norwegians who 
inter-married with them. King Harald himself had 
a Finn wife, and their women are described as comely 
and their men as able artificers in metal and sword 
makers. They were also fighting men. In all 
respects therefore, except their language, they 
differed from the small ill-favoured, dark skinned 
dwarf Lapps. They were also found wandering 
far to the south of the habitat of the Lapps and 
especially in the northern provinces of Sweden, 
and in the forests and fells of the Uplands of 
Norway, and were doubtless close akin to the true 
Finns of Finland ; tall, flaxen-haired men who 
were hunters and fishermen, and also betimes 
cultivators of the soil, and whose focus was the 
two sides of the Bothnian Gulf, but who travelled 
far and wide in their occupation and left their 
name in many places in the unenclosed forests and 
mountain lands of the great peninsula. They 
were also known as Quens, and were at feud with 
another Finnic race, the " Carelians," who had a 
higher culture than their own, who came from 
the country surrounding the great Russian lakes, 
and whose national epic was the Kalevala. 
It seems to me plain that it was from these 
true Finns who were living, not in the remote and 
barren district of the North Cape, but on the 
eastern frontiers of the Thrond people and in the 
northern parts of Sweden, that the Norwegians 
took tribute. 

♦ • Harald Pair hair " 1 8 1 

Let us now turn to Thorolf's intercourse with 
them. We are told in Egil's Saga that in the 
winter Thorolf took his way up to the fells with a 
force of not less than 90 men, whereas it had been 
usual for the king's stewards to have only 30 men 
with them, and sometimes fewer. He also took 
with him plenty of goods for trading and ap- 
pointed a meeting with the Finns, where he took 
tribute and held a fair. They were all friendly, 
and he went far and wide about Finmark, 
but when he reached the fells towards the East he 
heard that the Carelians were come from the East 
to trade with the Finns and also to plunder. 

Thorolf set Finns to spy out the movements of 
the invaders, and followed after in search of them. 
He came upon 30 of. them in one encampment, all 
of whom he slew. Presently he did the same to 
15 or 20 others. He killed in all nearly a hundred, 
and having taken a large booty, went home in the 
spring. This shows that winter was the season for 
travelling and fighting in those parts. 

Thorolf then returned home to Sandness. He 
had a long ship built, which was large and had a 
dragon's head, and it was well appointed. He 
gathered great stores in Halogaland, and employed 
his men in herring and other fishing, also in seal 
hunting and Qgg gathering, and he never had 
fewer than a hundred men about him. 

That summer King Harald went to Halogaland 
and banquets were made ready for his coming, both 
on his estates and those of the liegemen and great 
landowners. Thorolf's banquet was an especially 
costly one, and he asked a great company of the 
best men to meet the king. Altogether he had 
500 men there, while the king had only 300, which 
was a dangerous contrast in the presence of one so 
jealous as Harald was. 

1 82 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Thorolf caused a large granary, where the 
drinking was to take place, to be prepared, for 
there was no hall large enough to hold them. 
The building was hung round with shields. The 
king sat in the high seat, and when the high 
table was filled with Thorolf's men he looked 
round and turned red, and men thought he was 
angry. The banquet was splendid and everything 
was of the best but Harald looked gloomy, and he 
remained for three days and three nights, which 
was the usual length of these Royal entertainments. 
On the third day, when the king was to leave, 
Thorolf offered to go down to the strand with him, 
and there was moored off the land the great dragon 
ship that he had had built, with its awning and 
tackling complete. He gave the ship to the king, 
like Wolsey gave his palace to Henry the Eighth, 
and assured him he had gathered all these men not 
as a rival but to show him honour. The king was 
pleased and cheerful and merry, and they parted 
good friends. Harald then went northward through 
Halogaland, and then south as the summer went on 
with banquets all the way. 

Among his hosts were the sons of Hildirida, who 
as we have seen had a grievance against Thorolf 
because they considered he had robbed them of 
their patrimony. They gave the king a three 
nights banquet, and took the opportunity to poison 
his mind against his late host, whom they charged 
with being very ambitious ; of keeping a great 
guard round him, like a king, and further, that he 
w^as very wealthy. It was even said that he 
proposed to make himself king of Halogaland and 
Naumdale, and that the force he had got together 
was meant to fight the king, and that, in fact, he 
had intended to kill him at the banquet by setting 
fire to the dining hall, and the only reason that 

''^ Harald Fair hair'' 183 

he had for entertaining him in the granary was 
that he did not like to destroy his beautiful hall. 
Thus did the two brothers arouse the king's 
jealousy and anger, and he was inclined to believe 
what he had been told. 

Meanwhile Thorolf ordered Thorgils, his house-' 
steward, who had been his forecastle man and 
standard bearer, and had fought with him in the 
great battle of Hafrsfiord, to get together all the 
king's tribute which he had collected from the 
Finns, to put it on board a large ship of burden 
with 20 men on board and to go and meet 
the king. It was clear that Harald was angry, but 
he went to the ship where Thorgils had set out the 
furs. The show was much larger and better than 
was expected and Harald became more pacified and 
was especially pleased with the bear skins and other 
valuables which Thorolf had sent him. He never- 
theless remarked that it was a great pity that 
the latter should have been unfaithful to him and 
plotted his death. The people round merely re- 
marked that it was a slander of wicked men who 
had misled the king in this matter. 

That winter Thorolf went again to the Finn land. 
He held a fair with the Finns and travelled far and 
wide over the country, and when he reached the 
far East there came to him some Quens saying 
they were sent by Faravid, king of Quenland, be- 
cause the Carelians were harrying his land, and 
asked Thorolf for help, and saying he should have 
a share of the booty equal to the king's share, and 
each of his men as much as two Quens. Among 
the Finns the law was, that the king should take 
one-third, as well as all the bearskins and sables, 
and his men the rest. 

" Finmark," says our author, ^' is a wide track. 
It is bounded westward by the sea, from which large 

184 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

firths run up into the land ; the sea also bounds 
it, going northward and round to the east ; south- 
ward lies Norway, while Finmark stretches along 
nearly all the inland region, bounded on the west 
by Halogaland." This shows that by Finmark was 
t)ien meant a great deal more than the modern 
Finmark now inhabited by the Lapps. 

"Eastward from Naumland," continues our 
author, "is Jemteland, then Helsingjaland and 
Kwenland, then Finland, then Kirialand, i.e.^ 
Carelia. Bounding all these lands on the north 
lies Finmark, and there are wide inhabited fell 
districts, some in dales and some by lakes." 

When Thorolf came to Quenland and met 
King Faravid they prepared to march. There 
were 300 Quens and 100 Norsemen, and they went 
by the upper way over Finmark and came to where 
the Carelians, who had been harrying the Quens, 
were camped in the fen. In the battle that 
followed the Norsemen charged furiously, carrying 
shields stronger than those of the Quens. There 
was great slaughter among the Carelians. Many 
fell and some fled, and the two allies took an 
immense booty and returned to Quenland, whence 
Thorolf went home by way of the fell to Yefsnir 
and then to his farm at Sandness, and in the 
spring went with his men north to Torgar. 

Meanwhile the sons of Hildirida had been 
living with the king and continued to slander 
Thorolf, assuring Harald that he had kept back a 
larger portion of the booty than he had sent. Thus, 
he had sent only three bear skins, but his traducers 
declared they knew for certain he had kept back 
30 skins. All this made the king very angry. 
In the summer Thorolf went south to Throndheim, 
taking with him all the tribute and much wealth, 

** Harald Fairhair^' 185 

and 90 men besides. They were entertained magni- 
ficently in the guest hall. There his friend Aulvir 
told him what had happened, and what his enemies 
had reported to the king. He asked Aulvir to 
plead with Harald for him, for said he, " I shall be 
short spoken if he chooses to believe the lies of 
wicked men rather than the truth and honesty he 
will find in me." Aulvir returned and told Thorolf 
he had spoken to the king, but knew not what was 
in his mind. The latter then determined to go 
himself. He accordingly went, and arrived when 
Harald was having his meal, and when he went into 
the hall he saluted the king, who accepted his 
greeting and bade them serve him with drink. 
Thorolf then told him he had brought him not only 
the tribute, but part of the booty his own men had 
captured in Finmark. The king said he expected 
nothing but good from him, for he had deserved 
nothing else from the generous way he himself had 
treated Thorolf. But men, he added, told two tales 
as to his intention towards himself. Thorolf said 
that the men who spoke thus were his bitterest 
enemies and would pay dearly some time for their 
slanders. Next day he brought in the tribute and 
counted it in the king's presence, adding some bear 
skins and sable skins. Still the king was un- 
satisfied, and said that Thorolf had not been faithful 
to him, to which he replied with dignity, pointing 
to what he had done and suffered in his cause. 

Hildirida's sons, when attacking Thorolf, had 
suggested that Harald, in order to secure his 
loyalty, should keep him more close to himself, and 
at his Court. There he would be removed from 
possible temptations, as he was very powerful in the 
North, where he had many retainers. Harald 
accordingly suggested to Thorolf that he should join 
his guard and bear his banner. The latter, we read, 

1 86 Saga-Book of the Viking Society 

looked on either hand where stood his housecarls 
and replied that, in regard to the titles and grants 
he had made him, Harald must have his own way, 
but he could not desert his faithful followers as 
long as he had means to keep them, and he invited 
the king to visit him again at his home and 
inquire for himself, from those who knew him, 
what they thought of his loyalty. Harald replied 
that he would not again accept entertainment from 
him, and he accordingly left. 

When he had gone, Harald gave Hildirida's sons 
the Koyal Stewardship Thorolf had had in Haloga- 
land, and also his office of tax-gatherer in Finland. 
He also deprived him of Torgar, and all the 
property Brigjolf had had, and he sent messengers 
to tell Thorolf what he had done. Thereupon the 
latter got together the ships that belonged to him, 
and put on board all the chattels he could carry 
and with all his people, both freemen and thralls, 
sailed northward to his farm at Sandness, where he 
kept up no fewer men, and no less state than before. 

The two sons of Hildirida now proceeded to 
Fimnark to collect the tribute, taking 30 men with 
them. The same winter Thorolf went up on the 
fell again with a hundred men, and went straight 
to Quenland and took counsel with King Faravid, 
and again made a joint expedition against the land 
of the Carelians with 400 men, and they attacked 
such districts as they deemed they could overmatch. 
In the spring he went home to his farm and 
employed his men at the fishing at Vagar (now 
Yaagen, in the south of the island called Ostvango, 
in Halogaland), probably the cod fishing, and also 
in herring fishing, and had the catch taken to 
his farm. 

We now come to a particularly interesting 
paragraph in the Saga. Thorolf we are told had 

** Harald Fairhair " 187 

a large ship which was waiting to put to sea. 
It was well appointed in every way, beautifully 
painted down to the sea line, the sails were 
striped with blue and red, and the tackling 
was as good as the ship. He had it made 
ready and put on board some of his donjestics 
(housecarls) as a crew and freighted it with dried 
fish, hides, ermine, and grey furs in abundance, and 
other skins he had got from the fell, and it was 
commanded by Thorgils Teller. The ship set sail 
westward for England to buy him clothes and other 
supplies. It first steered southwards along the 
coast and then westward along the North Sea to 
England, where they found a good market and 
loaded the ship with wheat, honey, wine, and 
clothes, and sailing in the autumn, returned with a 
fair wind and came to Hordaland. 

There were at this time two brothers, named 
Hallvard the Hardfarer and Sigtry gg the Swift- 
farer, sons of a wealthy man who had an estate in 
Hising. They were employed as his agents by the 
king, and had been sent by him on many 
dangerous errands, either for getting rid of his 
enemies or in confiscating their goods. They had 
a large following, but their occupation did not 
make them popular, although the king prized them 
highly. They were valiant and very wary, and were 
famous walkers, either on foot or with snow shoes. 

Meanwhile the king was present at a banquet 
in Hordaland, and ordered the two brothers, to 
waylay the ship. They accordingly pursued it 
northwards, whither they were told it had gone, 
on two vessels. They found it in Fir Sound and 
knew it at once, and laid one of their own vessels 
on the seaward side of it. 

Some of the men then -landed and climbed on 
the ship bj the gangways. Thorgils and his men 

1 88 ' Saga-Book of the Vikivg Society, 

were taken completely by surprise, and had no time 
to seize their weapons, and were put on shore without 
arms, and with nothing but the clothes they wore. 
Hallvard's men now pulled up the gangways, loosed 
the cables, and towed out the ship, then turned 
about and sailed southward along the coast till 
they met the king, to whom they brought the ship 
and all its cargo. 

Thorgils and his crew managed to get transport, 
and went to Kueldulf, Thorolf s father, and told 
him of the mishap which had occurred. The old 
man said things had only happened as he had 
foretold, namely, that his son's friendship with 
Harald would never bring him good luck. " I don't 
mind his money-loss, but I fear he will underrate 
the power of his enemies." He told Thorgils to 
tell this to Thorolf. He then counselled Thorgils 
himself to leave Norway and take service with 
the King of England, of Denmark, or of Sweden, 
and he gav-e him a rowing cutter with tackling 
complete, with an awning and provisions, and all 
things necessary for their journey. 

Thorgils then set out and did not stop till he 
had rejoined Thorolf and told him what had 
happened. The latter took his loss philosophically, 
and said he " should not be short of money, for 'twas 
good to be in partnership with a king." He then 
bought meal and what was needed to maintain his 
people, but he said that his housecarls must be 
for a time less smartly attired than they had been. 
In order to maintain his position he now sold 
some of his lands and mortgaged other parts, but 
spent as much, and had quite as many men with 
him as before, and also continued his feasts and 
hospitality as lavishly as ever. 

When the spring came and the snow and ice 
were loosened Thorolf launched a large warship, 

*' Harald Fatrhair'' 189 

had it made ready, and manned it with a hundred 
men, all well armed, and when a fair wind came 
he steered south for Byrda, along the coast, and 
then continued an outer course outside the islands, 
and at times along the channels between fell slopes, 
and thus they sailed southwards and then east- 
wards, and met with no one till they came to the 
Vik. There they heard that King Harald was in 
the Vik, and that he proposed in the summer to go 
into the Uplands. The people there knew nothing 
of Thorolfs voyage. He held on to Denmark, ancl 
thence into the Baltic, where he harried, but only 
got an indifferent booty, and in the autumn re- 
turned to Denmark. At that time the fleet at 
Eyrar was breaking up, and there had been many 
Norse ships there as usual. Thorolf let them 
all sail past without disclosing his presence: One 
day he sailed into Mostrar Sound and saw a large 
trading ship which had come from Eyrar. The 
steersman was named Thorir Thrum, he was the 
steward of Harald's great farm at Thruma, where 
the king used to make a long stay when he was 
in the Vik ; it required much provisioning, and 
Thorir had gone to Eyrar to buy a cargo of malt, 
wheat, and honey for Harald, for which the king 
had supplied iiim with ample means. Thorolf 
challenged Thorir to fight, but the latter had not 
sufficient force to resist, so he yielded. Thorolf 
thereupon carried off the ship, and put Thorir on 
shore on an island. He then sailed inwards along 
the coast until he came to the mouth of the Elf, 
where he waited for the night, and when it was 
dark he steered up the river and made for the farm 
buildings belonging to Hallvard and Sigtrygg, who 
had recently robbed him of his own ship and had 
taken it for a voyage to England. He and his 
men formed a ring round the buildings, then raised 

IQO Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

a war shout which awoke those inside, who seized 
their weapons. Thorgeir fled from his bed chamber. 
The farm was surrounded with high wooden palings. 
Grasping the stakes he swung himself over, 
Thorgils Yeller, Thorolf s benchman, was close by 
^d struck him with his sword, cutting off* his 
hand, but he escaped to the wood. His brother 
Thord, however, was slain with 20 of his men. 
The farm was plundered and burnt, and Thorolf 
and his men then withdrew again, and went down 
to the river. They sailed north to the Vik, where 
they met with another merchant vessel, belonging 
to the men of Vik, laden with malt and meal. 
It was defenceless and also surrendered and its 
crew were disarmed and put on shore. Thorolf 
and his men again proceeded on their way with 
their three ships. We are told they took the 
high way of the sea to Lidandisness. They 
moved quickly, raiding cattle on their way on 
headland and shore. They then held a course 
further out, but pillaged wherever they touched 
land. When he came near the Firths Thorolf 
turned inwards in order to go and see his father, 
to whom he described his summer voyage. The 
latter told him he had once warned him that he 
would get no good by entering Harald's service. 
He now warned him again of the consequences of 
trying to put his forces against those of the king. 
He told him plainly that he was not strong enough 
to do this successfully and that all who had 
hitherto tried had failed. He said further, as they 
parted, that he foresaw that they would never meet 
again. Thorolf now proceeded onward, but no 
tidings of him were heard, says our author (who 
was evidently writing from the narratives of con- 
temporary witnesses) until, he reached his home at 
Sandness, where he stored all the cargoes he had 

'' Hnrald Fairhair'' 


brought with him, and there was no lack of 
provisions through the winter i^Ih. chap, xix.).- 

It was not to be expected that Thorolfs recent 
action would be tolerated by the king whose hold 
on his unruly subjects would not bear the strain 
of such a rebuff if it went unpunished, nor was it 
likely that the two brothers Hallvard and Sigtrygg 
would quietly tolerate the burning and plundering 
of their home. The king himself had been in Viken 
during Thorolfs buccaneering tour, he now went to 
the Uplands, where he stayed through the autumn 
with a large force, and the two brothers just 
named were with him. They asked his leave to 
take their usual following with which to attack 
Thorolf in his home. The king warned them of 
the dangers they would incur, for Thorolf was a 
brave and powerful opponent. They replied that 
they had been accustomed to meet risks when the 
odds were against them and had been hitherto 
successful. They made preparations accordingly, 
and in the spring received the king's consent to go. 
Although many prophesied ill luck Harald hoped 
they would return with Thorolfs head, and much 
rich plunder. They took two ships and 200 men 
with them and sailed out of the Firth with a 
north-east wind, which was a head wind for those 
going northwards. 

The king was at Ladir when the brothers set 
out, and he seems to have distrusted their power 
to compass what they had in hand, and himself 
hastily got ready four ships in which he put a large 
force, and they rowed up the Firth by Beitis-8ea 
inwards to the isthmus of Eida. 

There he left his ships and crossed the isthmus 
to Naumdale, where he took others belonging to 
the great landowners, with his guard, which was 

192 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

400 men strong, with him. He had six well 
manned and equipped ships. They had to face a 
head wind so had to row night and day, for the 
night was then light enough to travel by. They 
arrived at Sandness, Thorolf s home, at sunset, and 
saw lying there, with its awning spread, a long ship 
which they knew to be Thorolf s. He had prepared 
to escape, and had ordered the ale for the parting 
carousal. The king bade his men to disembark 
and to raise his standard. It was a short distance 
only to the farm buildings. Thorolf s watchmen, 
who clearly did not know what was coming, were 
all drinking instead of being at their posts. The 
hall was surrounded. A war blast was sounded 
on the king's trumpet, and a war whoop came from 
his men. Thereupon Thorolf s dependents sprang to 
their weapons, for each man's weapon hung over his 
seat. The king caused a proclamation to be 
issued, bidding women, children, old men, thi'alls, 
and bondmen, to come out. Sigridr, Thorolf s wife, 
and her maids, then came out. She asked if the 
sons of Kari of Berdla were there. They both came 
forward and she asked them to take her to the 
king. She then asked him if anything would 
reconcile him to Thorolf. He replied that if he 
asked for mercy his life and limb should be spared, 
but as to his men, they must be punished for their 
misdeeds as the law provided. Thereupon Aulvir, 
son of Kari, who was an old friend of Thorolf s, 
went out to interview him. He reported what the 
king had said. The reply was a haughty and 
characteristic refusal to accept any compulsory 
terms from Harald. He asked that they 
might have their freedom, adding ambiguously, 
that things should then go their course, that is, he 
challenged him to fight it out. The king replied 
that he would not waste the lives of his men in 

Harald Fairhair** 


this way, and ordered them to fire the hall. The 
wood was dry, the timbers were tarred, and the 
roof covered with birchbark, so the fire soon 
caught. Thorolf ordered his men to break U() the 
wainscoatingand to take the gable beams, and with 
them to burst through into the hall. When they 
got a beam, as many men as could hold on, seized 
it, and they rammed at the corner so effectively 
that the clamps flew out, and the walls started 
asundei'. and there was a wide opening. Through 
this Thorolf led the way, followed by Thorgils the 
Yelier, and then the rest. There was a desperate 
fight, and for a while it was uncertain which side 
would win, for the wall of the building protected 
the rear of Thorolf's forces. 

Many men were lost on the king's side before 
the hall began to burn, then the fire attacked 
Thorolf's side, and many of them fell. Thorolf 
rushed forward and hewed about him on either 
side. "There was small need to bind the wounds 
of those who encountered him," says the graphic 
Saga writer. 

He made for the king's standard, and at this time 
his henchman Thorgils the Yelier fell. When he 
himself reached the shield-wall he struck down the 
royal standard-bearer saying, " Now am I but three 
feet short of my aim," meaning doubtless the king. 
There they all set on him with sword and spear. 

The king gave him his death blow, and he fell 
forward at his feet. Harald then called out to 
them to cease fighting, which they did, and his 
men returned to their ships. 

He then turned to Aulvir Knuf, and bade him 
take his kinsman Thorolf and give him honourable 
burial, and also to bury the rest of the dead, and 
to see to the wounded who had hopes of life, nor 

194 Saga-Book of the Vikmg Society, 

should any be allowed to plunder, seeing the place 
was now his property. This showed unusual 
magnanimity in one who had, in the latter days at 
all events, been sorely tried by the splendid 
warrior Thorolf. When the king reached his ships 
he went round to superintend the care of the 
wounded, and confessed he had lost many of his 
men in the fight. 

It was only on his return voyage southwards 
that he realized what a serious danger he had run, 
for as the day wore on they came upon many 
rowing vessels in all the sounds between the islands, 
carrying men who were replying to Thorolfs 
summons to go to his help against the men of 
Hallvard and Sigtrygg, who said they had been 
delayed by the north wind and took no part in the 
fight. On their return home, we are told, the 
latter were much mocked at. 

The king and his men went on their ships to 
Naumdale. There the}^ left them and travelled 
overland to Throndheim and on to Ladir. 

The two brothers Aulvir and Eyvind remained 
behind awhile at Sandness to bury the dead. 
Thorolf was buried with all customary honours in 
the case of a man of wealth and renown, and they 
set a memorial stone over him, and also looked 
after the wounded. They also arranged with 
Sigridr about the house, but most of the house- 
furniture, table service, and clothing were burnt. 

On their return to the king they were sad and 
down-spirited, and spoke little with others, for they 
had been very close friends with Thorolf, and they 
asked Harald to be allowed to go home to their 
farms, for they had no heart to share drink and 
seat with tho^e who had fought against their 
kinsman Thorolf. The king refused this and 

^^ Harold Fairhair 


presently had the brothers summoned to him in 
his audience hall. He said they had been long 
with him and had borne themselves like men, and 
satisfied him in everything. He then told Eyvind 
to go north to Halogaland, and gave him Thorolf's 
widow, Sigridr, in marriage, with all the wealth 
that had belonged to him, and said he should have 
his friendship as long as he could keep it. Aulvir, he 
said, he could not spare, on account of his skill as 
a skald, and he must remain with him. The 
brothers were very grateful to the king for the 
honours he had given them and gladly accepted his 
offer. Eyvind, having got a good and suitable 
ship, went north to Alost and Sandness, where he 
was welcomed by Sigridr, the widow of two great 
Norsemen. He shewed her the consent to their 
marriage which the king had given, and they were 
married. He thus became the owner of Sand- 
ness and all Thorolf's property, and was now a 
wealthy man. One of his sons, Fid, surnamed 
the Squinter, married Gunhilda, the daughter of 
iarl Hakon, and of Ingibiorg, daughter of King 
Harald, and was the father of the famous skald, 
Eyvind Skald-spiller (76., xxii.). 

After Thorolf's death. Kettle Haening, his kins- 
man and close friend, who had intended fighting by 
his side, but was prevented by the king's rapid 
journey, did not wait long to revenge him. He 
took a ship and 60 men, and went to Torgar, where 
Hildirida's sons lived. Their slanders had been, as 
we have seen, the cause of the king's turning 
against him. They only had a few people with 
them. Haening killed them both and appropriated 
all their wealth that he could lay his hands upon, 
including their two largest ships of burden. In 
one of them he shipped his booty and cattle, and 
also took his wife and children. His foster-brother, 

196 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Bang, a man of good family, and wealthy, steered 
the ship, as well as his late ship-mates, and 
they made for Iceland and settled at Hofi, near 
East River. His son Hrafn became the first law- 
man in Iceland (76., ch. xxiii). 

When the old and wise Viking, Kueldulf, heard 
of the death of his famous son Thorolf, he took to 
his bed from sorrow and age. He was cheered by 
his other son Skallagrim, who reminded him that 
anything was better than to become useless and 
bedridden ; " it were better they should determine 
to revenge Thorolf's death." Kueldulf, we are told, 
wrote a song. This is preserved in Egil's Saga, 
and I follow Mr. Green's translation : — 

Thorolf in Northern isle 
(O cruel Norns ! ) is dead. 
Too soon the Thunder God 
Hath ta'en my warrior son. 
Thor's heavy wrestler, age, 
Holds my weak limbs from fray ; 
Though keen my spirit spurs, 
No speedy vengeance mine. 

(Op. cit., XX. iv.). 

That summer the king went to the Uplands, 
and in the autumn, westward to Yaldres, and as 
far as Vors. Aulvir, we are told, asked him if he 
would pay wehrgeld or blood atonement to Thorolf's 
father and brother, for having slain him. The king 
consented to do so if they would go and see him. 
Aulvir at once set off for the Firths to meet them, 
and he remained for some time with his old friends. 
He told Kueldulf the details of his son's death, 
and that it was the king who had given him his 
death wound, and said that Thorolf fell forward 
when he died. Upon which the fierce old man 
replied that there was a saying " that he would be 
avenged who fell forward, and that vengeance 
would reach him who stood before him." 

' * Harald Fairhatr " 1 97 

Aulvir told his friends that if they would go to 
the king and crave atonement it would be a journey 
to their honour, and he pressed them to do so. 
Kueldulf said he was too old to travel and he meant 
to sit at home. Grim said he had no errand thither. 
He declared the king would find him too fluent of 
speech, and he would not long pray for atonement. 
Aulvir said he would have no need to speak as 
he himself would be their spokesman. Presently 
he consented to go, and fixed a time to do so. He 
accordingly prepared for the journey, and selected 
the strongest and bravest men from his household, 
twelve in all. Among them, one was a wealthy 
landowner, some were his housecarles, one of them 
" a coal biter," i.e.^ one who could bite live coals, 
and two others, sons of Thororna, who was skilled 
in magic. 

They set sail in one of his ships and w^ent 
along the coast southward to Ostra Firth, then by 
land up to the lake of Vors. They arrived when the 
king was being entertained at table there. When 
Grim reached the door he sent for Aulvir and his 
men to come out. Having greeted them, he invited 
them in. Grim told his followers that it was custom- 
ary for men to enter the king's presence weaponless. 
Six therefore took off their w^eapons and went 
in, while the other six remained outside w^ith their 
arms on. Aulvir then approached the king, with 
Grim behind him. The former w^as the spokesman 
and begged that Harald would confer some fitting 
honour upon Grim, who deserved it better than 
many who had been so treated, and that it would 
please his people, and especially himself, if he did 
so. Several others present supported Aulvir's 

The king then turned to Grim, who was called 
Skallagrim from being bald, and was taller than the 

19S Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

others by a head. He asked him to become his 
liegeman and to join his guard, and he would honour 
him and make him atonement for his brother's 
death if he should deserve it, but he must know 
better how to keep troth than he had done. This 
was not a conciliatory speech to make to a proud, 
brave man. Grim said his brother was far superior 
to himself, and yet he got no luck with the king. 
Nor would he accept his offer, for he could see no 
chance of faring better than his brother in return 
for honest and worthy service. 

The king was silent and became blood-red with 
fury. Aulvir now bade Grim and his men secure their 
weapons and begone with all haste. He and many 
others escorted Grim to the waterside. Aulvir 
expressed his disappointment that his efforts had 
failed, and bade them haste homewards and keep 
well out of the way of the king and his men. 
They accordingly set off, while Aulvir and his men 
dismantled the boats which were lying on the shores 
of the lake, so that they could not be used in 
pursuit. Meanwhile a large body of armed men 
were seen advancing rapidly towards them. When 
Grim and his men withdrew from the audience 
Harald regained his speech. He was very angry, 
and declared " the bald-head" to be full of wolfish- 
ness, and a dangerous person, and ordered his men 
to pursue and kill him. They found no boats, how- 
ever, fit to travel in, and had to return. Grim 
went back to his father, who was pleased that he 
had refused to join the king's service. Father and 
son now discussed what they should do, since it was 
clear that Norway had become a very dangerous 
place for them, and they determined to emigrate to 
Iceland, for good reports had reached them about 
the land to be had there, where men could take 
land free of cost, aad choose their households 

' ' Ha ra Id Fa irha ir'' 1 9<> 

where they willed, while several of their relations 
had gone there, notably Ingolf Arnarson, and his 

In the spring Kueldulf and his son made ready 
their ships. We are told they had plenty to choose 
from. They selected tw^o large ships of burden, 
and put 30 strong men in each, beside women and 
children, and all the moveable goods they could 
carry, but no one dared buy their lands for fear of 
the king, and when ready they sailed aw^ay, first to 
the Solundir islands, off the mouth of Sogne-firth, 
which were many and large and so cut into by bays 
that few men knew all their havens. 

From this vantage the emigrants kept a look- 
out for the return of a ship laden with merchandise, 
and which had been sent by Harald under the 
command of Hallvard and Sigtrygg (who had been 
the mortal enemies of Thorolf), to bring home the 
family of his uncle Guthrom, the iarl of Viken, 
who had died. Presently the ship was espied by 
Grim, who was on the look-out. He had a 
good sight, and knew the vessel which had once 
belonged to Thorgils. He watched them lay to in 
the haven in the evening and reported w hat he had 
seen to his father. They accordingly set their 
boats in order and put 20 men in each. Kueldulf 
steered one and Grim the other, and they row^ed 
for their enemy's ship, but when they came near 
where it lay they put into land. 

Hallvard's men had put an awning over their 
ship and laid down to sleep. When Kueldulf's 
force came upon them, the watchman who sat at 
the gangway leapt up and called to his shipmates, 
and bade the men rise, for an enemy was upon 
them. Upon which they took to their weapons, 
but the two gangways were blocked by the two 

ioo ^aga-^ook of the Viking Society. 

assailants, father and son. Kueldulf and some of 
his men were now seized with the fervour and war 
madness which sometimes seized the Norsemen ; 
this was incited, doubtless, by the memory of his 
son's death. He now rushed on board his enemy's 
ship and ordered iiis men to go along the outer way 
of the gun W' ale and cut down the awning from its 
forks, while he himself rushed aft to the stern- 
castle, and he and his men slew all they came 
across. Grim did the same at his end of the ship, 
nor did they stay their hands till it was "cleared." 
When Kueldulf came aft to the stern-castle he 
brandished high his axe. and smote Hallvard with 
it and cut him through helm and head, so that 
the axe sank in up to the shaft. He snatched 
it back so forcibly that it carried Hallvard's body 
aloft, and he flung him overboard. Grim cleared 
the fore-castle and slew Sigtrygg. Many of the 
victims had plunged into the sea, but Grim took 
one of the boats and rowed after them, and slew all 
that were swimming. The two brothers lost 
50 men in the struggle. Their ship became the 
prey of the victors, who only gave their lives to two 
or three of the crew whom they deemed of least 
count. From them they heard what had been the 
motive of their voyage. Thereupon they looked 
over the slain on board and found that more had 
perished by drowning than those who had fallen 
in the ship. Among those who had thus perished 
were two boys of 12 and 10 ; sons of Guthorm, 
Harald's uncle, who had recently died. 

Grim now released the men who had been 
spared, and bade them go to their master Harald, 
and tell him what they had seen and heard, and he 
also sent the king a verse in which he referred to 
what he had done as revenging the death of a 
noble warrior (Op. cit., ch. xxviii.). 

^^ Ham Id Fuirluiif'' 201 

Grim and his luen took possession of the cap- 
tured ship and cargo, and they made an exchange, 
loading the ship they had taken with the contents 
of one of their own, which was smaller, and which 
they sank by boring holes and putting stones in it. 
When the wind was favourable they set out for sea. 

It was reported of the bareserks, and other 
men possessed with the bareserk fury, that they 
w^ere so strong that no one could resist them, 
but when it abated they were weaker than their 
wont. It w^as so now with the old man Kueldulf, 
who felt so exhausted from the onset he had made 
that he was utterly weak, and lay in his bed. In 
their voyage to Iceland, Kueldulf commanded the 
captured ship and his son the other. For a while 
the two ships kept together, and were long in sight 
of each other. Meanwhile Kueldulf's sickness in- 
creased, and as he felt death coming near, he 
summoned his shipmates and told them he had 
never been an ailing man, but if so be that he died 
they were to make a coffin and put him overboard, 
and he thought it likely that he would be drifted to 
Iceland. They were further to bear his greeting to 
his son Grim, and to tell him that if he reached 
Iceland, and (as might be the case) he himself 
should reach it first, that Grim should choose a 
homestead as near as possible to the spot where the 
coffin landed. He soon after died, and his ship- 
mates did as he had bidden them, and they shot 
his coffin into the sea. An old friend of Kueldulf 
and his son, also called Grim, son of Thorir 
Kettleson, who was travelling with them, now took 
charge of the ship. When he reached Iceland, he 
took it up a narrow river, called the Gufer river, 
and there unshipped the cargo and remained over 
the first winter. When they explored the land 
along the sea shore, inwards and outwards, they 

202 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

had not gone far when they found Kueldulf's coffin 
cast up in a creek. They took it to the ness close 
by, ^nd raised a pile of stones over it. 

^Harald, not unnaturally, confiscated all the 
lands which Kueldulf and his son had possessed in 
Norway, as well as their other property, and sought 
out all those who had supported them and had 
been in their confidence. He laid a heavy hand on 
all their relatives and friends. Some he punished, 
and many fled away and sought refuge either in 
the land or outside it. Among them was Yngvar, 
Grim's father-in-law. He turned all the property 
he could dispose of into chattels that could be 
moved, and having secured a good sea-going ship, 
set off for Iceland, where he heard that Grim had 
settled. He and his men were welcomed by him, 
and spent the winter with, and accepted a farm 
from him on Swan Ness (/&.,• ch. xxx.). 

There is another story in Egil's Saga which 
illustrates graphically the rough life of men in 
King Harald's time, and the way in which he 
pursued wrong-doers and breakers of the public 
peace. The hero, if such he should be called, was 
named Biorn. He was the son of Brynjolf, the 
son of another Biorn, who was a great personage 
in Sogn. 

The younger Biorn was a famous traveller, 
both as a freebooter and trader, and a tough man 
withal. On one occasion he was at a banquet 
where there was present a good-looking maiden 
called Thora, styled Lacehand, the sister of 
Thorir Hroaldsson previously mentioned. Biorn 
sought her in marriage, but Thorir refused 
his consent. The same autumn the former took 
a well-equipped long ship to the Firths, and 
went to Thorir's house when he was not at 
home and carried her off to his father's house 

* Harald Fairhair " 


at Aurland, and there they spent the winter 
together. He wished to marry her, but Brynjolf 
refused to allow such a thing in his house, for 
he was a great friend of Thorir's, and sent to 
the latter to offer him redress for what his son had 
done. Thorir replied that the only atonement 
possible was to send his sister home again. This 
Biorn would not consent to, and so matters re- 
mained awhile. Next spring he asked his father 
for a long ship and a crew, that he might go 
freebooting. I3rynjolf replied, saying he would 
doubtless, if he got the ship, use it against his 
wishes, and that he had already had enough 
trouble with him, but he offered him a trading 
vessel laden with goods for trafficking, and bade 
him go south to Dublin, which he said was well 
spoken of as a mart, and he also provided him 
with a crew. To this Biorn consented, and got 
a ship ready, which was manned with 12 men, 
which he took to his father's house at Aurland. 
He found his mother there, sitting in her bower 
or parlour with several maidens, among whom 
was Thora. Biorn told them that he was deter- 
mined Thora should go with him. His mother, as 
is the usual way of mothers, took his part and helped 
him, and Thora's clothes and trinkets were duly 
put together ready. That night they went out 
together to Biorn's ship. They had a bad, stormy 
passage, and presently reached the east coast of 
Shetland during a gale, and the ship was finally 
wrecked in making land at Hrossey, now 
Mainland, in Orkney. They took shelter in 
the borg or Pictish tower there, into which they 
moved their goods, and then proceeded to repair 
their ship, and there he married Thora (I^., xxxii). 
A little before winter news reached them that a 
long ship had come to the Orkneys with messages 
from King Harald, ordering larl Sigurd to kill 

204 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Biorn wherever he was found. The same orders 
were sent to the Sudereys and also to Dubhn. 
Biorn also heard that he had been outlawed in 
Norway., and realised the danger of his position, and 
in the spring, as soon as the weather was settled, he 
got a good wind and sailed for Iceland, where he 
was welcomed by Grim, who did not know what 
had happened. Biorn was a close friend and 
foster-brother of Thorolf, who was also a friend of 
Biorn's father, Brynjolf, and so Biorn and Thora 
took up their abode with Grim. In the autumn, 
however, ships came from Norway with full tidings 
of what had really occurred, and that Biorn had 
actually married Thora without the consent of her 
family and had been outlawed by King Harald. 
When he heard this Grim was furious, for he was 
a great friend of Thorir. Grim's son Thorolf, how- 
ever, pleaded for him, as did others, and he was 
presently appeased and bade them do what they 
liked in the matter. Thora had meanwhile had a 
daughter, who had been sprinkled with water and 
was called Asgerd, while Thorolf became a close 
friend of Biorn. He asked his father what he 
counselled should be done, for Biorn had a great 
wish to return to Norway, and he further begged 
him to send men thither to make atonement for 
him, for he thought Thorir would greatly honour 
his counsel. He accordingly sent deputies to 
Norway, and when they arrived they were joined 
by Brynjolf, who also offered to make atonement 
for his son. Thorir on his side agreed to accept 
this, and he put up the messengers from Iceland in 
his house for the winter, when they went back 
with their message. Biorn stayed a third winter 
in Norway, and then returned for his wife. At her 
own request they left their child Asgerd with 
Grim's wife Bera, the daughter and heiress of 
Yngvar, who had been its foster-mother, and she 

•• Harald Fairhair " 205 

was brought up in Grim's family. Thorolf, Grim's 
son, went to Norway with Biorn. The voyage was 
a successful one, and they duly reached Sogn, and 
thence went to Biorn's father, where the atonement 
was duly ratified. One condition was that Thorir 
paid such of his property in his house as belonged 
to his sister to Thora, and afterwards, we are told, 
the two remained good brothers-in-law and friends. 

(/^., XXXV.). 

V I have deemed it right to give at length these 
most valuable and illuminating extracts from the 
Egil Saga as a very notable and instructive picture 
of the inner life of the Norsemen in the time of 
King Harald. What would not we give for a 
similar picture, with equal authority (and there are 
others), ilkistrating the parallel condition of the 
English race at the same time ? I have given the 
story in the great Saga writer's own words, and 
have taken it from Mr. W. C. Green's racy trans- 
lation, upon which I could not improve. Let us 
now return to the King. 

After the battle of Hafrsfiord, says the Heims- 
kringla. King Harald found nothing to withstand 
him in all Norway, for all his greatest foemen 
were fallen. Certain of them had migrated to 
other lands, and thus were the waste lands peopled 
far and wide. Jamtaland and Helsingland were 
then occupied, though both of them had already 
got./some settlers (Op. cit., ch. 20). 

/ Harald's conquest of the Western coasts of 
Norway, and his making their proud and free 
landowners pay taxes was a hard blow for many of 
them. And among other consequence (as told in his 
life) were that the Oiitlands were discovered and 
peopled, namely, the Faroes and Iceland. Many 
again went to Shetland and many others adopted 
a Viking's life and went warring and buccaneering 

2o6 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

in the West. They abode largely, in the winter, in 
the Orkneys and the Sudereys, or Hebrides (as 
they are now called), but in the summer they 
greatly ravaged Norway and caused much trouble 
there. There were many, however, who sided with 
Harald and became his men. Probably the bonders 
or farmers, who had suffered much from their 
piratical countrymen, were the latter's chief recruits. 
When he heard how the fugitives who had fled 
westward had turned their weapons on their old 
home of Norway, he determined on a vigorous 
campaign against them. He on several occasions 
made summer trips with his fleet across the North 
Sea, and searched the islands and skerries and 
drove them from their haunts out to sea. Growing 
tired of this privateering warfare, he determined on 
a greater effort, and collected a large fleet and 
made straight for Shetland and there slew all the 
Vikings who did not flee. 

He then went to the Orkneys, which he 
entirely cleared of their Vikings, and then to the 
Sudereys or South islands, where he also harried 
and slew many Vikings "who were captains of 
bands " there. He had many fights, but always 
won the day. Then he harried in Scotland. 
When he arrived in the Isle of Man all the people, 
having heard of his previous doings, fled to 
Scotland, and that island was depopulated, and 
all the property in it was removed away, and thus 
when he and his men landed they secured no 

In these battles Ivar, son of Rognwald, iarl of 
Mere was killed, and as a recompense King Harald 
offered his father the iarldom of the Orkneys and 
the Shetlands, but Rognwald declined the gift. 
He probably did not relish ruling a depopulated 
and devastated land and he gave it over to his 

'* Harald Faithait *' 207 

brother Sigurd, who stayed behind when the King 
and his host returned to Norway. Harald con- 
firmed his appointment. 

Rognwald left two sons Rolf and Thorir, by 
Hilda, daughter of Kolf Regia, and also left three 
other sons, whose mothers were not high born, and 
who were called Halladr, Einar, and Hrollaug. 
They were a good deal older than the two sons 
just named and had reached manhood when the 
latter were still children. Rolf adopted the career 
of a Viking. He was so big that no horse could 
carry him, so that he used to march afoot and was 
hence known as the Ganger. He was continually 
harrying in the East lands {i.e.^ East of the Baltic). 
On one occasion w^hen he was returning thence he 
w^as apparently short of provisions and ran into 
the Yik, and there seized a number of cattle on 
the shore. This form of plundering was known 
as strand-slaughtering. Harald happened to be 
then in Viken and was very angry since he had 
forbidden all such piratical acts in his own 
dominions. He therefore summoned a Thing and 
there proclaimed Rolf an outlaw^ nor did the 
appeals of his mother Hilda avail to save the 
culprit. She then sang a song in which she 
warned the King that it was rather a rash thing to 
quarrel with a wolf of Odin's lineage and that if 
he w^ithdrew to the forest he would grievously 
harry his flock. Rolf thereupon went westward 
to the Sudereys and thence to Valland, i.e.^ the 
Frankish kingdom, where, as Ari says, he founded 
a mighty iarldom, which he peopled with North- 
men, and which was afterwards called Normandy 
(Harald Fairhair's Saga, ch. xxiv.). In Olaf Tryg- 
visson's Saga we read that Harald, having found 
that on his return home the Scotch and Irish 
Vikings had descended on the Sudereys (^.6., the 
Hebrides), sent Ketil Flatnose, son of Biorn. 

2o8 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

the ungarfcered, into the West to win them back. 
Ketil left his son Biorn to look after his estates 
in Norway, and went West with his wife and 
other children. Having reduced the Sudereys, he 
made himself chief of them, and refused to pay 
taxes to Harald, who thereupon seized all his 
estates in Norway and drove away his son Biorn 
(Op. cit., ch. 121). 

The widespread conquests of Harald, which 
involved the subjugation or suppression of such a 
number of previously independent communities 
under their own rulers and owners, and the extirpa- 
tion or disappearance by emigration of the latter, 
necessitated a revision of the administrative 
machinery of the Country on an equivalent scale. 
Harald proceeded to divide it afresh. At first he 
put the larger areas under the control of his most 
trusted dependents, giving each of them the title 
of iarl. He deputed to each of them a virtu- 
ally supreme jurisdiction within his province 
subject only to his own dominant authority in 
the last instance. Each iarl he appointed was 
also subject to his paying over to him a con- 
siderable portion of the scatt or taxes which were 
collected in the province and which had not been 
used in paying the expenses of Government there. 
These iarldoms were in effect great hereditary 
administrative posts. 

Harald having put down all his enemies, was, 
we are told, feasting with his friend iarl Kognvald 
when he remembered the oath which he had made 
that he would neither be shorn nor bathe until 
he had conquered Norway, and he accordingly, 
after ten years, took his first bath and had his 
hair sheared and combed. Aforetime, says Ari, 
he had been called Shockhead, but men now called 
him Harald Fairhair, and they all said he was well 

'* Hat aid Fatrhair*' 209 

named for he had both abun(hint and beautiful 
hair (Op. cit , 28). 

Harald, like many other liand.some warriors 
(in the old days l)efore Christianity had intervened 
with its restriction on the numbers of a man's 
wives) had a large and well-born harem. He first 
married Asa. the daughter of iarl Hnkon, who was 
his most trusted and powerful .subject (Saga of 
Harald Fairhair, ch. 9). By her he had four sons, 
(xuthorm (doubtless named after his own uncle and 
foster father) ; two twin sons called Halfdane, 
distinguished as Halfdane the White and Halfdane 
the Black, and fourthly Sigfrod (?Sigfrodr). They 
were apparently born dui inghis four years' residence 
at Throndheim and, we are told, weie brought up 
there in great honour [lb., ch. 18). Secondly, he 
married Gyda, the daughter of King Eric of 
Hoidaland (///., ch. 3 and 21). We have already 
referred to this proud lady who refused to marry 
him till he had conquered all Norway. By her he 
had four sons, Roerik, Sigtryg, Froth i, and Thorgils, 
and a daughter Alof, called Arbot, i.e., the Years- 
heal, who was the oldest of the family and whom 
he married to Thorir the Silent, iarl of Mere (Saga 
of Harald Fairhair, ch. 30). 

Another of his wives was Swanhild, daughter 
of King Ey stein of Heath mark. By her he had 
three sons, Olaf Geirstad-Elf, Biorn, and Eagnar 
Ryckil (lb., ch. 21); another of his wives was 
Ashild, daughter of Ring Dayson from Ringariki, 
and their sons were Day, Ring, and Gudi'od Skiria, 
and a daughter Ingigiord. 

In regard to one of his wives we have a curious 
Saga. We are told that on one occasion he 
went a guesting into the Uplands and spent his 

210 Saga-Book of the Viking Scciely. 

Yuletide at Nord Tofti, in the parish of Dovre, in 
North Gudbrandsdal. When he had sat down at 
table a Finn, who was a Shaman or Wizard, named 
Swazi, came to the door and sent a message to the 
King bidding him go to his cot. Although Harald 
was wroth he felt constrained to go, but some 
of his company were not pleased. When he 
entered, there met him Swazi's daughter, who was 
very fair to look at, and who offered him a bowl of 
houeymead. He took both the mead and the hand 
that offered it, says our author, and straightway it 
was as hot as if hot fire had pierced her skin, and he 
felt overcome with passion. All this, he suggests, 
was the effort of her witchery. Swazi insisted 
that if the matter was to go any further the King 
must be duly betrothed and lawfully wedded. He 
became so engrossed with her that he forgot his 
duties to his kingdom and they had four sons, 
Sigurd a-Bush, Halfdane Longlegs, Gudrod Gleam, 
and Rognvald Straightlegs. 

Snowfair presently died, but her skin remained 
as red and white as she was when alive, and the 
King sat beside her and thought in his heart she 
was still living. For three winters he thus 
sorrowed, and his people did so too, that he should 
be so beguiled. Presently came Thorleif the Sage, 
learned in medicine (or leechcraft, as it was known 
in those times) ; he approached him soothingly and 
said he did not wonder he was so devoted to so fair 
a woman, but that it was necessary she should 
be moved so that her clothes might be changed. 
But as soon as she was taken out of bed a dreadful 
smell came from the dead body and they brought 
holy fire, i.e., incense, and burnt it. It first turned 
thin and then nauseous, uncanny beasts came from 
it, worms and adders, frogs and paddocks, and 
other creeping things, and she thus fell into ashes. 

** Harald Fairhair " 211 

Thereupon the King recovered his good sense and 
cast out his folly, and ruled the realm stoutly 
with the help of his councillors (Saga of Harald 
Fairhair, ch. 25). 

Ari tells us that after Snovvfair's death 
Harald realized that she had bewitched him into 
an alliance with her, and he drove her four sons 
away and would not look at them. Thereupon 
one of them, Gudrod, repaired to Harald's famous 
bard Thiodolf, who had been his foster-father and 
who was a great favourite of the king's, and asked 
him to intercede for him. Harald was then staying 
in the Uplands, whither Gudrod and his brother 
made their way, but as they arrived in the evening 
and were still in their travelling dress, they sat down 
in an outer place and kept hidden. As the King 
went up the hall-floor and looked over the benches 
he sang a verse in which he spoke of his old 
warriors as being over eager for the feast and added 
that they were many and hoary. Thiodolf, who 
had disguised himself, and was hurt by the 
remark, thereupon improvised a reply, in which 
he recalled that in their fights together, the 
heads of his warriors had borne hard blows in 
his company, and he asked if they had been too 
many then. He now removed his head covering and 
the King recognised and welcomed him. The old 
poet then begged him not to cast out his sons and 
uttered a memorable phrase, saying that they would 
gladly have had a better-born mother if he had 
only given them one. The King took the rebuke 
kindly and asked him to take Gudrod to himself 
again and let him live with him as he had done 
before. Sigurd and Halfdane he sent to Kingariki, 
while Rognvald he sent to Hadaland. Ari adds 
that they became hfianly men and well endowed 
with prowess (Ih., ch. 26). 

2 1 2 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Keturniiig to Harald's wives, the one he 
cherished most, and who was most high-born, was 
Kagnhild the Mighty, daughter of Eric, King of 
Jutland, no doubt the son of Gudrod, King of 
Westfold, who has occupied us so greatly. Eric 
was therefore Harald's uncle, and Eagnhild was his 
cousin. By her he had one son, namely, Eric, styled 
Bloody Axe, who presently succeeded him as King 
of Norway. People said that when Harald married 
her he put away from him nine wives. 

Hornklofi refers to this in one of his caustic 
verses in the Raven Song. He tells us that when 
Harald married his Danish wife he scorned the 
Holmfolk {i.e., the women belonging to the 
typical Norwegian district of the islj?nds on the 
coast of Itogaland) and the maidens of the Hords 
and Raums (or of Horda land and Raum realm) 
and of Halgoland. 

He adds the cryptic sentence that the bond- 
maids of Ragnhild, the proud woman, would now 
have something more pleasant to talk about than 
that they had been treated with short commons by 
Harald (Vigfusson, Corpus Poet, Bor. i. 259). 

When Harald grew old he had a son by a 
woman of good, but not noble family, named 
Thoi'a Mostrstong, i.e,, Most-staff. Her family 
name was taken from the place called Most^^ 
and the foet Horde Kari was one of her 
relatives. She was very tall and fair and was one 
of the King's bond-women, for in those days there 
were many of good blood, both men and women, 
w^ho were in the King's employment. It was then 
the custom, when a child of high birth was born, 

* Now Mostero, on the Western side of the Sound called Bommelen 
in South Hordaland, the main inlet into the Hardanger fiord from the 
South (Magnussen iv. 265). 

'• Harald Fairhair" 213 

to select someone who would sprinkle water on 
bini and give him a name. When the child we 
are dealing with was about to be born, his mother 
lliora, who was living at Most, sought out 
Harald, who was then in residence at ISaeheimr,* 
whither she travelled in a ship of Sigurd, 
iarl of Ladir, who had undertaken the task of 
godfather. One night, when they lay off the 
land, Thora brought forth a child at the cliflfs 
side by the gangway-head leading to the ship, and 
it proved to be a boy. 80 iarl Sigurd sprinkled 
him with water and called him Hakon, after his 
own father. He grew up to be handsome and tall 
and was the very image of his father Harald. He 
was brought up with his mother and was about the 
king's manors while he was young. 

While still a boy Hakon was the hero of an 
incident which has been by some suspected as an 
invention, as I think with very poor reason. 
y\l though coloured with some obviously fanciful 
incidents, it seems to me to be substantially true. 

At this time Athelstane had recently become 
King of England. An says he was called the 
Victorious or the P'aithful, and adds that he sent 
men to Norway to King Harald with his greeting. 
This was in itself a very likely matter since the 
Norwegian king was the mightiest man in the 
North and had ties with the Scottish islands that 
would make him well known to the English king. 
Athelstane's envoy took with him a lordly gift in 
the shape of a sword, the hilt of which was 
decorated with gold as was the grip, while its 
airay or scabbard was also wrought with gold and 
silver. So far the story seems perfectly natural. 

* This was one of Harald's manors and is now called Saem. It is 
on the N. side of the Osterfirth (North of Berpen), almost opposite 
Hammer on the isle of Ostero (Magnussen iv. 275; 

2 1 4 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Then comes a passage which is in itself hard to be- 
lieve. Ari says that when the king took the grip, 
Athelstane's messenger immediately said : ''Since 
thou hast taken the sword as our king would, now 
thou hast become his man." That the messenger on 
an occasion where courtesy was everything should 
have thrown such an insult at the aged king, who 
was very much more powerful than Athelstane 
and over whom he could have no pretence of 
claiming homage, seems incredible and seems 
rather an addition to the story to meet the tastes 
of the Icelandic vikings for whom Ari wrote, than 
a reality. He goes on to say that Harald deemed 
that the affront was meant to mock him and de- 
clared that he would be no man's feudatory, but he 
recollected that it was his practice to " sleep upon 
his wrath " and not to take a hasty decision, and 
he also consulted his friends, who agreed that it 
would be better to let the messenger return in 
peace rather than to do him ill. This again was 
hardly the way these proud Norwegian Junkers 
were wont to behave when flouted. 

The next summer we are told Harald sent a 
ship to England under the command of Hawk 
Habrok, i.e.. High- breech, who was a great 
champion and much liked by the king. He sent 
him to visit Athelstane and put Hakon in his 
charge, which in itself is not an improbable 
thing, but most improbable if he had previously 
been treated with indignity by him. Hawk 
found the King in London, where he was well 
received and feasted. To carry out the dramatic 
part of the story Ari reports that at this feast 
Hawk instructed his men that he should go out 
first who came in last, and that all should stand 
abreast before the Royal board, each man with his 
sword at his left side but with their cloaks so 


1 lav aid Fair hair " 


arranged that their swords should not t>e seen and 
so they entered the hall, a company of 30 men. 
Hawk then appoached Athelstane and greeted him 
and the king bade him welcome. Then Hawk 
took the lad Hakon and placed him on Athel- 
stane's knee. Athelstane having asked why he 
did so. Hawk replied: "King Harald biddeth 
thee foster the child of his bondwoman." Here 
again is an incident which is incredible. That 
Hawk should have thus described the pet child of 
Harald's old age, the special foster-child of the great 
iarl of Ladir, and have invited a very cruel treat- 
ment, not only for the lad but for the whole party, 
by insulting the English king, seems ridiculous, 
and may be explained as a dramatist's clumsy 
form of tit for tat, but does not represent the con- 
duct of a sane man. Ari says that Athelstane was 
exceedingly wrath and took up his sword to kill 
the boy, upon which Hawk replied : "Thou hast 
set him on thy knee and may est murder him if 
thou wilt, but thou will not thus put an end to all 
the sons of King Harald." Thereupon Hawk and 
his men all withdrew to their ship and put to sea 
and returned to Norway. Ari goes on to say 
that King Harald was well pleased that his 
son had remained to be fostered by Athelstane, 
for men ever account the fosterer less noble than 
him whose child he fostereth. Then he adds a 
moral which rather spoils the effectiveness of his 
way of telling the story. He says : " By such 
like dealings of the kings may it be seen how 
either would fain be greater than the other, yet 
not a whit, for by all this was not any honour of 
either spilt, and either was sovereign lord of his 
realm till his death day." 

What follows shows that the incident of the 
mutual insults of the two kings is almost certainly 

2i6 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

an imaginative addition to the real story, for after 
Hawk's challenge and before his whole Court, 
Athelstane certainly did the very reverse of treating 
the boy as the son of a bondwoman. 

We are told that he had him christened and 
taught the right truth and good manners and all 
kinds of prowess and that he loved him more than 
all his kin, and so did all other men who knew 
him. Hence he was called " Hakon, Athelstane's 
fosterling." He became a man of great strength 
and size and of fair speech, and eventually rose to 
be King of Norway. We are told that King 
Athelstane gave him a swotd, the hilt and grip of 
which were all decorated with gold, while the 
blade was still choicer, and that with it Hakon was 
reputed to have split " a quern-stone to the eye," 
whence the weapon was called Quern biter. It was 
the best sword that ever came to Norway and 
Hakon kept it until his death day [lb., ch. xlii. 
and xliii.). 

After reporting how well filled his quiver was 
with children and speaking of his later days, Ari 
says that King Harald sat at home in his own 
land enjoying good peace and plenteous seasons 
(Op. cit., ch. 26). 

This does not mean that he had no troubles. 
The great king had had a successful career and 
was the most notable ruler in Europe of his time. 
He had conquered and consolidated a great king- 
dom and beaten or driven away all his enemies, 
but like other great conquerors, troubles accumu- 
lated in his own family whio^ were harder to face. 
His quiver no doubt was full, and he w^as proud 
of it, but the weapons it contained began to be 
menacing. The fact is that for the most part his 
various wives continued to live among their own 


Harald Fairhair " 


people and brought up their own sons there. This 
was the only feasible plan when a king had many 
wives who could not be tr.eated like the shive-wives 
among the Mohammedans, where they occupy one 
harem and are kept under strict discipline by 
truculent eunuchs or an exacting mother-in-law. 
Higli-born and high-spirited Scandinavian dames 
could not be thus treated. 

As is still the fashion among the rich Arabs 
each wife had a separate house. The difference 
being that in the North these several houses were 
not in one place but in the different parts of the 
country, each among her own people. For the 
most part such marriages were political and 
diplomatic and meant to secure the allegiance and 
loyalty of powerful families. It was perhaps only 
in this way that a country so broken by physical 
obstacles into separate counties could be tied 

This hadj however, its inconveniences, for 
having no common home, the king's sons hardly 
knew each other and hardly recognized the ties 
which bind brothers together who have been 
playmates and companions from their nursery. 
Jealousies and rivalries and quarrels naturally 
arose and each one became the centre of intrigues. 
Being of Royal blood, and great personages, they 
naturally had expensive households, and often 
found that their incomes, which were at first mere 
doles and allowances from their father, were not 
sufficient for their needs and ambitions. 

. Ari says that some of them had become riotous, 
and in some cases hr ^ driven out the iarls, and in 
others killed them. As I have said, the great king 
was baffled when he tried to rule his own household 
in which the children of several mothers had to be 
satisfied. They struggled with each other for their 

2 1 8 Saga-Book of the Viking Society, 

father's inhericance, which he had parcelled out 
among them in the fashion recognized in the North, 
without taking care to. make any one of them 
absolutely supreme over the rest. Some of them, 
too, whose portions were too scanty for their 
ambitions, viewed with great jealousy the domi- 
nating position assigned by Harald' to some of his 
own administrative officers, the great iarls. They 
treated them as not having [)retensions like them- 
selves who claimed descent from a long race of 
lordly kings. 

Thus it came about that his most devoted 
counsellor and friend, and the most powerful of 
his iarls, the ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy, 
namely, Rognwald, iarl of Mere came by his end. 
One spring we read that Halfdane Longlegs and 
Gudrod Gleam, two of Harald's sons by the 
Finnish woman Snowfair, went with a company of 
men and surprised the great iarl in his house and 
burnt him there with 60 of his men. It will be 
remembered that Rognwald had committed a 
similar crime on another iarl years before. Gud- 
rod thereupon appropriated the possessions of the 
iarl while his brother Halfdane took three of his 
big ships and sailed into the Western sea. 

Kognwald left several sons, more than one of 
whom became distinguished. One of them was 
named HroUaug. He lived with King Harald for 
some time, made a good marriage, and eventu- 
ally settled in Iceland. He remained a powerful 
person there and continued his friendship for the 
King, and he never left Iceland. The king sent 
him a good sword, an ale horn, and a gold bracelet 
weighing five ounces. The sword became the 
property of Kol, son of Hall O'Side, and the horn 
was seen by Kolskegg the historian (see the long- 
Saga of Olaf Trygvisson, ch. 214). 

' ' Hnrald Fairhair " 219 

When King Harakl heard what had happened 
he was naturally enraged with his sons and went 
with a great force against Gudrod, who had 
appropriated the dead iarl's reahii and who at once 
submitted. His father sent him eastward into 
Agder, and he made over the iarldom of Mere to 
Thorir, called the Silent, son of Kognwald, and 
gave him his own daughter Alof in marriage. 

Meanwhile Halfdane, as we have seen, went 
westward to the Orkneys, where he was murdered. 

We must now revert for a few paragraphs to 
the story of those islands. We have seen how 
Harald had made Sigurd, son of Rognwald, 
iarl. He there associated himself with Thorstein 
the Red, the son of Olaf the White, of whose 
probable death at Hafrsfiord 1 have already 
spoken. The two harried in Scotland and con- 
quered Sutherland and ('aithness, as far as the 
Eikkjel which separates Ross from Sutherland. (In 
the Orkney Saga, Moray and Ross are also named, 
but these were apparently later conquests). In this 
war they fought against the Scotch iarl, Melbricta 
or Melbriga. The account in the Flatey-bok and 
the Orkneyinga Saga, says that they had agreed 
to meet at a certain place, with 40 men on 
horseback on each side, in order to settle their 
difference. Sigurd, who suspected some treachery 
on the part of the Scots, mounted 80 men on his 
40 horses. Melbricta noticed this and said to his 
men : "I see two legs on each side of each horse '' 
and he at once determined to fight. Sigurd told 
half of his men to dismount and attack them from 
behind, while those who were mounted were 
to charge them in front. Presently Melbricta fell, 
and with him all his men. Sigurd fastened the 
head of the Scotch iarl to his saddle bow and thus 

220 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

rode home. Meanwhile, when spurring his horse, 
lie struck his leg against a projecting tooth of 
Melbricta (whence his soubriquet of Tonn or the 
Toothed). The wound proved serious and he died 
of it and, says the Saga, he was buried in a mound 
at Ekkjalsbakki. Anderson, in his edition of the 
Orkneyinga Saga, identifies it with a mound on 
the Dornoch firth. Skene argues against this and 
would identify the place as near Forres, and would 
even equate the famous sculptured pillar there and 
known as '' Sweno's Stone " with Sigurd's monu- 
ment. On one side are two figures engaged in 
friendly conversation, and above, a cross with the 
usual network ornamentation ; on the other side is 
a representation, difficult to make out, of a number 
of men engaged in Council and behind is a building 
or fortification, above which is a party of men 
at full gallop followed by foot soldiers with bows 
and arrows. Above again is a leader with a man's 
head hanging to his girdle followed by three 
trumpeters sounding for victory and surrounded 
by decapitated bodies and human heads ; above 
again is a party seizing a man in a Scotch dress, 
and below another party, one of whom is cutting 
off another man's head ; above all is a leader 
followed by seven men. The correspondence of 
these sculptures with the incidents in the tale is 
striking (Skene's Celtic Scotland, i. 337 — 8, and 

Sigurd was succeeded as iarl by his son 
Guthorm "who ruled the land for one winter and 
then died childless," whereupon his patrimony as 
iarl was seized by several Danes and Northmen 
Harald Fairhair's Saga, xxii.). When Kognwald the 
iarl of Mere heard of the death of his brother and 
nephew, and what had become of their lands, he 
sent his son Hallad. who received the title of iarl, 

''^ Har aid Fair hair ^' 221 

and took a large number of men with him and 
settled them at Hrossey, but the Vikings in the 
islands landed on different nesses or headlands, 
and ravaged the land, killing the cattle, until Hallad 
grew weaiy, relinquished his title as iarl, and again 
became a franklin, much to the chagrin of his 
father [lb., ch. xxvii.). In the Orkneyinga Saga 
the names of two of the Vikings are mentioned 
who then occupied the late iarl's lands, namely, 
Thorir Woodbeard and Kalf Scurvy. 

Rognwald then summoned his three elder sons, 
who were base born : To Thorir, he said he could 
not spare him, his career must be at home ; to 
Hrollaug, that his future would be in Iceland, 
where he prophesied he would become famous. 
The third and youngest son, Einar, is then reported 
to have spoken to his father and said : '' Wilt thou 
that I go ? I will promise thee in that case that 
which will be most welcome to thee, that I will 
never again come into thy eyesight, nor have I 
much here to live upon." The grim iarl replied : 
" Thou art not a very fitting person to become a 
chief, for thou art thrall-born on all sides, but it 
is true I w^ould gladly see thee go, and hope thou 
wilt not return." liognwald gave him a ship, with 
20 benches, fully manned, and King Harald gave 
him the title of iarl. 

He sailed West to Shetland, where he was 
joined by a number of people, and then went on to 
the Orkneys, and proceeded to attack Kalf and his 
companion. A battle followed, in which both the 
Vikings fell. Einar was a tall man and ugly, and 
one-eyed, and yet very sharp sighted (Orkneyinga 
Saga, ch. vi.). 

It was reported that he was called Turf Einar, 
because he was apparently the first Norwegian to 

222 Saga- Book of the Viking Society, 

use turf for fires in Torf Ness, there being no wood 
in the Orkneys. We shall return to him presently. 

I described on an earlier page the murder of 
the greut iarl Kognwald by Harald's two sons, and 
how thereupon one of them, Hnlfdane Longlegs, 
went westward to the Orkneys — a daring journey, 
since those islands were then in the hands of the 
son of the murdered chief On his arrival some of 
the settlers there joined him and became his liege- 
men, but Einar fled into Scotland. Halfdane sub- 
dued the islands and made himself King of them. 
The same year Einar returned and a great battle was 
fought, in which the latter gained the victory and 
Halfdane jumped overboard. Thereupon Einar 
sang a song, in which he reproached his brothers 
for not having taken vengeance on their father's 
murderers, and specially attacks Thorir for sitting 
mute over his mead cups in Mere. 

Next morning they went to look for runaway 
men among the islands and all they caught were at 
once slain. Looking towards feinansey, Einar 
said he saw something that stood up and then 
laid down, and it must be either a bird or a man. 
They went to see and there they found Halfdane 
Longlegs. Einar made them carve an eagle on 
his back with a sword and cut the ribs through 
from the backbone, and drew the lungs through 
the cuts, and made an offering of the whole to 
Odin for the victory he had won. Vigfusson and 
Powell seem to throw some doubts on this. 
I think with little reason. The particular penalty 
of making a spread eagle on an enemy's back was 
common in Viking times, and we must remember 
that Einar was revenging the very ruthless murder 
of his own father. Several of the latter's verses on 
his victory are reported in the Orkneyinga Saga. 
Some of the lines are vigorous. In them, inter alia^ 

"■ Harald Fair hair'' 



he claimed to have hewn a hole in Plarald's shield, 
which no one could gainsay. He gloated over his 
victory, and the feast he had given the falcons and 
carrion birds. '' Cast the stones," he says, ** over 
Longlegs," i.e., pile them on his grave, *'for we have 
got the victory. It was with hard money I paid 
him taxes. I know that a good many men are 
seeking my life, but they cannot know until I am 
dead whether it will be I or they who will feed the 
eagles" (see V. & P., Corp., Poet Bor., i. 371 and 

On the news of Halfdane's murder reaching 
Harald, in Norw^ay, he called out his men and set 
out for the West to revenge him. As soon as he 
heard of the king's approach iarl Einar fled to 
Caithness. Harald doubted the policy, or perhaps 
the possibility of waylaying him, and it was 
arranged that they should come to a parley, at 
which Einar and the people of the Orkneys agreed 
to pay 60 marks of gold as a blood penalty for the 
outrage they had committed. The bonders or 
farmers deemed the fine altogether excessive, so 
Einer agreed to pay it himself on condition that all 
the odal or tax-free lands in the islands were made 
over (or perhaps rather became taxable) to him. 
This they consented to do, for the poor people had 
but little land while the rich hoped to redeem their 
property again. After this Harald returned to 

Meanwhile another tragedy happened to 
another of Harald's sons. We have seen how 
much he was helped in his earlier days by his 
uncle and foster father Guthorm, and how the 
latter w^as well rewarded by him. He lived at 
Tonsberg, in Westfold, which he administered 
as he did the Uplands in Harald's absence (/ft., 21). 
We are told he had a good deal of worry in 

224 Saga-Book of the Viktug Society, 

protecting his charge against the piratical attacks 
of the Vikings and the men of Eric Eymundson, 
King of Sweden. The latter, we read, died 
when Harald had been King of Norway ten years, 
and was succeeded as King of Sweden by his son 
Biorn (Saga of Harald Fairhair, ch. 29). 

It was apparently a few months after this that 
Guthorm, ^Iso died " in His bed,"iis it is said in the 
Heimskringla, a rare occurrence in those days. We 
have seen how his two young sons were drowned 
when on their way to join Harald ivide ante). 
Guthorm had undertaken the tutelage of Harald's 
eldest son, Eric, and had sprinkled water over him 
and given him his name. Ari says " he set the lad 
on his knee and became his fosterer and had him 
away with him into the Vik " {lb., 21). When 
the old man died without a male heir Harald 
appointed his own son, '' the godson and namesake 
of the elder Guthorm," to succeed him as governor 
of Westfold and the Uplands {lb., 29). He had 
to «:aard the former a^rainst the foravs of the 
pirates and used to patrol the skerries round the 
coast with his ships. On one occasion, when he lay 
in the mouth of the river Elf, Solfi Klofi, of whom 
we have heard before, and who had been formerly 
severely defeated by King Harald, attacked and 
killed him. He was apparently succeeded as ruler 
of Viken by his brother Biorn {lb., 38). 

Another of Harald's sons, Halfdane the White, 
was also killed at this time in a desperate battle 
fought between himself and his twin brother 
Halfdane the Black in the Eastlands, i.e., in the 
lands to the east of the Baltic (op. cit., 33). 

Of one of Harald's sons by the Finn woman 
Snowfair, named Rognwald Spindleshanks, Ari 
has a grim story. He had been given a share of 

'* Harald Fatrhair'' 225 

Hadaland as an appanage by his fiither and took 
to wizardy or magic and working spells, which had 
been practised by his Finn mother, and to which 
black art Harald was greatly opposed. The 
king having heard of a wizard living in Hadaland 
called Vitgeir, sent to bid him leave off his 
wizardy. He replied in a verse in which he rebuked 
the king for restraining him who was only carl- 
born by either parent, while his own son Rognwald 
was practising the same art in Hadaland. On 
hearing this Harald sent his eldest son Eric with a 
force to Hadaland where he burnt his brother and 
with him 80 wizards {lb., 36). 

Wizardy continued to be practised in the 
lamily by the son of Rognwald Spindleshanks, 
grandson of King Harald, named Eyvind Kelda, 
who is described as wealthy, and who was a 
wizard. He afterwards came by a tragical end in 
the reign of King Olaf Trygvisson (see Saga of 
(). T., ch. 195). 

Still another of Harald's sons also had a tragical 
end at this time, namely, Gudrod Gleam the foster 
son of the poet Thiodwolf He was determined to 
go in an ill-manned ship northward to Kogaland 
when the weather was very rough, nor would he 
listen to Thiodwolfs advice to put off his journey 
till there was better weather, but set out most 
rashly. When he came off Yaderen the ship 
foundered and all who were in it perished (Harald 
Fairhair's Saga, 37). 

Meanwhile Harald in order to stop the struggles 
and jealousies of his sons, had to make fresh 
provision for them and to give them a higher 
status. Hoping to satisfy their ambitions, he 
called together a great Thing or Assembly of tlie 
South Country, to which he also invited the 
Uplanders. At this he gave appanages to several 

2 26 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

of them wiili the title of kings and established 
that in each case the father should be succeeded 
by his son in his kingdom. This title was reserved 
for his sons and their descendants, while according 
to Harald those who were related to him on the 
spindle side (by whom the descendants of his 
daughters are probably meant) were to have oidy 
the status and name of iarls. 

In dividing the kingdom he had assigned Vin- 
gulmark, Raumariki, Westfold and Thelemark to 
Olaf, Biorn, Sigtrygg, Frothi and Thorgils. Heath- 
mark and Gudbrandsdale he gave to Dag, King, 
and Kagnar. Ringariki, Had aland, Thoten, and 
all that pertained to them he gave to the sons of 
Snowfair, Sigurd Brushwood and Halfdane Long- 
legs. The latter was afterwards killed, in the West, 
as we have seen, by Torf Einar, iarl of Orkney, but 
Sigurd retained his kingdom in Ringariki. There 
he was succeeded by his son Halfdane, and he by 
his son Sigurd, who married the widow of King 
Harald the Grenlander, named Asta. They were 
both baptized at the instance of King Olaf Tryg- 
visson, as was their boy Olaf, who was named after 
the great King Olaf himself (see the long Saga 
of King O. T., ch. 194) To Guthorm Harald gave 
Ranriki that is, all the countrv from the river Gotha 
Elf to Swinesund, and doubtless called after iarl 
Rani the Gothlander, who had governed it for the 
Swedish king. 

Harald chiefly made his home in the middle of 
the land, namely, Rogaland and Hordaland. His 
sons Rorek and Gudrod always lived with their 
father but held great bailiwicks or appanages in 
Hordaland and Sogn. The far-north province of 
Throndheim Harald gave to his sons Halfdane the 
Black, Halfdane the White, and Sigrod. To Eric, 
his favourite son (whose mother was the Jutish 

'•'' Hat aid Fair hair'" 227 

princess, Ragnhild the Mighty, who he meant 
to succeed him as Overlord of the whole State, 
and who also lived continually with him), he gave 
as a special appanage Halogaland, Northmere and 

The dues in each of these petty kingdoms 
were divided between himself and his sons in 
equal parts, while they had a place on the high seat 
higher than the iarls, but lower than his own. Ari 
remarks, in regard to HarakVs own high seat, that 
each one of his sons hoped some day " to sit in the 
seat which Harald had selected for Eric." On the 
other hand the Throndheim people, probably the 
most wealthy in the realm and whose country was 
planted in the very midst of that which was given 
as a special appanage to Eric, were determined 
that their special king, Halfdane the Black, should 
presently sit on the high throne. 

In regard to this Halfdane, who, as we 
have seen, had destroyed his twin brother in 
a fight, we read elsewhere that when his other 
brother. King Eric, was ''guesting" (z*.^., being 
entertained) at Solvi, inside of Agdaness, Half- 
dane hastened thither with "a host" and cap- 
tured and burnt the house he was living in, with 
all its inmates, but Eric was luckily sleeping in 
an outbuilding with four of his men and escaped. 
He went to his father and gave him an account 
of the outrage. The old man was very wroth 
and led a fleet against the Throndheimers. He 
lay with his men by Reinsletta, in the parish 
of Rissen, on the northern side of the outer 
Throndheim fiord. Halfdane on his side summoned 
his men and ships and put out to Stadr, inside of 
ThorsclifF; Magnussen says of it, '*now Stadshyg- 
den, in the district of Fosen, in North Throndheim." 
The position was no doubt very serious, and we are 

2 28 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

told that certain people intervened between father 
and son. Among them was one called Guthorm, 
named Cinder, a skald or poet. He was now w^ith 
Halfdane, and had formerly written for them 
both, and had been offered a reward by them. He 
had refused the gifts, but said he might sometime 
ask them a boon instead. This he now claimed, 
and it was that the two chiefs should make 
peace with one another, while other noblemen 
also intervened. Father and son consented to do 
so. Halfdane remained king in Throndheim and 
undertook not to molest his brother. Jorun, the 
female skald, made a poem on this quarrel, of 
which a stanza is preserved in the Heimskringla 
(Harald Fairhair's Saga, ch. xxxix : see also 
V. and P., Corp. Poet. Bor., ii. 29). 

To two of his sons Harald did not give lands, 
but ships, namely, Thorgils and Fiothi, and they 
w^ent harrying out to the West, to Scotland, Wales, 
and Ireland. It was reported that Frothi was 
poisoned there, while Thorgils i-eigned for a long 
time over the Dublin people and eventually died 
there^ (Harald's Saga, ch. 35). 

Turning to the troubles caused by the local 
jealousies of the different sections of the realm, we 
are told, the people of Vik and the Uplands also 
had different views to the Throndheimers in regard 
to their choice of their future rulers. " Whence," 
says Ari, '' there waxed dissension anew amidst 
the brethren." The fact is that apart from the am- 
bitions of various princes there underlay a strong 
element of disruption in the position itself The 
local differences of custom, descent and dialect, 
with the different loyalties and prejudices of the 

* In the Heimskringla it is said that he was the first Viking who 
possessed Dublin, but this is a mistake, Its founder was Olaf the White 
in 852. 

** Ha raid Fair hair 


various communites caused a great cleavage ainon^ 
them. They liad been separated by natural 
bari'iers from early days. A strong and powerful 
personality like Harald had succeeded in uniting 
them for a while by artificial ties into a whole, but 
it took a long time and many struggles to weld 
I hem into a leal union. The history of early 
England, of France, Germany, and Italy, afford 
abundant examples to illustrate the problem as it 
occurred in Early Norway. 

While Harald gave a number of his sons ap- 
panages with the distinction of • being entitled 
kings, and of receiving a royal income, he reserved 
a large part of the administration of the country 
in his own hands, and it continued to be conti'olled 
by his iarls or deputies. Ke appointed that there 
should be a iarl over each folkland or county and 
gave him the control of justice and the right to 
collect fines and land taxes in his special govern- 
ment. Each iarl was also to have a third of the 
''skatt" or royal revenue and of the dues, for his 
board and other costs of living. He was to have 
under him four or more officials called hersirs, each 
of whom was to have 20 marks for his main- 
tenance. Each iarl was to bring 60 men-at-arms to 
the king's host at his own cost, and each hersir 
w^as to bring 20. Harald had so managed the 
finances (no doubt by increasing the taxes and 
dues) that his iarls had more wealth and weight 
than the kings formerly had (/^., ch. vi). We are 
told by Ari that the regulation just described 
endured for a long time (Long Saga of Olaf Tryg- 
visson, ch. 1.). 

The hersirs were set over the administrative 
districts called herads or hundreds, whence their 
name. Each originally probably consisted of a 
hundred families. Their position was apparently 

230 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

heriditary, thus the hersir Erling on being offered 
a iarldom by his brother-in-law King Olaf Tryg- 
visson replied : " Hersirs have all my kindred 
been, nor will I have a higher name than they, 
but this I will take of thee, King, that thou 
make me the highest of that title here in the land." 
To this the king consented and gave him control 
of the dominion south away, between Sognfirth and 
East Lidandisness, the most northern part of North 
Agder, in such wise as Harald Fairhair had given it 
to his sons (Heimskringla, Saga of Olaf Trygvisson, 
ch. Ixiv). The hersir seems to have combined the 
offices of war commander and chief priest of his 
district. Of one of these hersirs^ called Gudbrand 
of the Dales, Ari says he was as a king in the 
Dales though he only bore the title of Hersir 
(Saga of Olaf the Saint, ch. cxviii.) The mode of 
investiture for iarls and hersirs adopted by Harald 
was followed ,by his successor (see Magnusson, 
iv., p. 94). We have described it in the case of iarl 
Hrollaug of Naumdale. The order of precedence 
of sub-kings and iarls was determined by the 
position each one occupied on state occasions, when 
the king sat on his throne, the under kings or folk 
kings on the second step and the iarls on the third 
one. One of Harald's most important regulations 
was the compelling all franklins or free men to pay 
him dues. This was a very unpopular regulation 
but it lasted until the days of Hakon the Good 
who gave back to the freeborn bonders the odal 
rights w^hich King Harald had taken from them 
(Saga of Hakon the Good, 1). 

The great king was now an old man in strength 
and vigour as well as in years, for he had spent 
himself without stint all his life, and his feet, we 
are told, were heavy so that he could not travel to 
and fro as he was once wont, nor could he look 

'^ Harald Fair hair'' 231 

after State affairs witli the same skill, so lie [)ut his 
son Ei'ic on his high seat and gave him dominion 
over the land (Saga of Harald Fairhair, ch. 44). 
How uneasy that seat proved, we shall see presently. 

^_Harald lived for three years after he had given 
over the realm to Eric, and eventually died in his 
bed in Kogaland and was buried in the howe, by 
Kormtsound, that is the waterway separating the 
island of Kormt fiom the Mainland and there a 
memorial monument of granite was erected to him 
in 1872. 

" In Howe Sound," says Ari, " a church standeth 
to this day and just to the north-west of the church- 
yard lies the howe of King Harald Haarfagre, but 
west of the church lies the stone wdiich lay over 
the king's grave in the Mound, and the stone was 
thirteen feet and a half long and nearly two ells 
broad. In the middle of the howe was the grave 
of King Harald, and one stone was set at the head 
and the other at the feet, and on the top was laid a 
flat stone^ while a wall of stones was built below 
it on either side, but these stones, which were once 
in the howe, are now in the churchyard." This 
shows how very soon the grave of the. Mighty 
King was dismantled. 

All men agreed, says Ari, that King Harald was 
the handsomest man recorded, the biggest and 
strongest, the most bounteous of his wealth, and 
the friendliest to his men. The common report 
went that the great tree which his mother saw in 
her dream foreshadowed his life and his deeds, for 
the lower half was red as with blood, and thence 
upwards for a span it was fair and green, which 
pictured the flourishing of his realm, while the top 
was white, betokening the great age and hoary 
hairs he would see. The boughs and branches 
represented his widespread descendants (16., ch. 45). 

2^2 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

The internecine struggles of Harald's sons no 
doubt (as civil strife inevitably does) caused a great 
spread of lawlessness, cruelty and utter disregard 
for life, and I am tempted to again refer to that 
excellent storehouse of accredited facts, the Egil's 
Saga, for two striking examples of the anarchy that 
ensued. They also throw considerable light on the 
common law relating to property and its succession 
at this time. The first one is not quite so ruthless 
as the other. They are .both reported in the 
Landnama-bok. The first one refers to a certain 
Ketilbiorn, a nobleman in Naumdale, son of Ketil 
and of Asa the daughter of iarl Hakon, Griotgard's 
son, who married Helga the daughter of Thord 
Skeggie. He went to Iceland, when its maritime 
part was widely settled, in a ship called Eilida, and 
stayed the first winter with his father-in-law. In 
the spring he set out to find a suitable place to 
settle in. They had a sleeping place and built 
a Hall, says Tait, at a place called Hallbrink in 
Blue shaw. His children were Tait and Thormod 
(Diarnjaed), Thorleit and Ketil, Thorkatla and 
Ordleif, Thorgedr and Thordr. Five of them, it 
will be noted, had names compounded with the 
name Thor. He was so rich in money, says Ari, 
that he bade his sons cast a crossbeam of silver for 
the temple that they were about to build. This they 
would not do. He then drove with the silver up 
onto the fell with the aid of two oxon, and went with 
Hake, his thrall, and Bot, his bondwoman. They 
buried the treasure there " so that it has never been 
found since." No doubt to secure the secret being 
kept, Ketilbiorn killed Hake at Hake-pass and 
Bot at Bot-pass. Many great men, we are told, 
were descended from Ketilbiorn. The names are 
recorded of two of his great grandsons, and a great 
great grandson, who became bishops (16., v. 14, 

^* Marald P'airhair^' 233 

The second story, also from the great Domes- 
day book of the North, illustrates the savage 
and cruel methods which justice pursued in 
King Harald's days. Biorn was the name of a 
nobleman in Gothland, the son of Hrodwolf-a- 
River. His wife was Hlifa,' daughter of Hrodwolf, 
the son of Ingiald, the son of Frothi. Starcad the 
Old was poet to the two last-named personages. 
Their son was Eyvind. Biorn had a quarrel with 
Sigfast, father-in-law of Solwar, a iarl of the 
Goths, by whose help he kept possession of all 
Biorn's lands by force. Biorn then settled all his 
lands and goods in Gothland upon his wife Hilda, 
and his son Eywind. He then burnt Sigfast in his 
house and set out westward for Norway with 
12 men, and 12 horses laden with silver, and went 
to Grim the herse, who lived at Agd in Hwin, 
now Kvinesdalen, through which the river Hwin in 
Agder Hows (Magnusson, iv., 258). Biorn and his 
companions were well received, and stayed with 
Grim during the winter, but presently, tempted by 
his wealth, the latter hired a man to assassinate him, 
who failed. Biorn then left and went to stay with 
Ondott Crow, the son of Erling Knit, who lived at 
Hwin-firth in Agd, with whom he stayed when not 
engaged in a Viking's life. At that time Biorn's 
wife Hlifa died in Gothland, and he then married 
Helga, Ondott's sister, by whom he had a son 
called Thrond the Far Sailer. Presently Eyvind, 
his elder son by Hlifa, came from Gothland and 
took over his father's warship, and continued the 
latter's pursuit as a Viking. He was known as "the 
Eastman " because he had come from Gothland. 
Soon after Biorn died in Ondott's house. Thereupon 
Grim claimed that he ought to take charge of all 
his property, since he was a foreigner (he was, of 
course, a Goth), while his son was away in the 

^^34 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 

West, but Ondott kept the inheritance on behalf of 
Biorn's younger son Thrond, his own nephew (//>., 
iii. 13, 1 and 2). Meanwhile Thrond, who had 
been raiding in the Sudereys, returned home and 
took over the moveable assets of his father Biorn, 
and sailed with them fox Iceland. 

Ondott's homestead stood near the sea near 
Ingialdsby. Grim lived close by. One night as 
Ondott was cutting wood in the copse, for the 
brewing preparatory to the Yule feast, Orim came 
upon him and killed him in the king's name, and 
four men with him. Thereupon Ondott's widow 
put all his goods and chattels on a long ship and 
set out, with her two young sons, Asmund and 
Asgrim, and all her housecarls. She herself went to 
her father, Sigh vat, while her sons were sent to take 
shelter with her foster-son, Hedin, in Sokendale, who 
hid them. Grim pursued, and came upon her ship, 
which he ransacked, but could not find the boys, 
who reached Hedin's house in safety. Grim and 
his men went after them. He met one of Hedin's 
sons in the wood, and inquired about the boys, but 
he pretended to be witless. Presently he met 
another son, and offered him half-a-hundred pieces 
of silver money to say where the boys were. He 
gave his father the money and told him all about 
it, but did not return to Grim. The latter suspected 
that the man who had got his money would betray 
him so he went home again. The two boys lived 
hidden in an underground house with Hedin till the 
harvest came. They then set out to go to their 
grandfather, Sighvat. The ground was frozen hard, 
and they were shoeless, and lost their way, and 
they presently reached a homestead which they did 
not recognize at first, but presently realised that it 
was a house their father Ondott had built. They 
thought they would not be safe there, so went to 

" Harald Pairhair " ^35 

that of one called Ingiald near by, and were con- 
cealed by him and his wife, and remained there for 
the winter, meanwhile passing by other names. 

Next summer Grim was entertaining King 
Harald's iarl, called Eadwine. After the feast the 
two sons of Ondott just named set fire to Grim's house 
and burnt him in it, and taking Ingiald's boat, rowed 
away to the islands in the fiord of Hwin. When 
they landed they heard men talking in the house 
who had been with Eadwine on his cruise. They 
returned to the mainland, where they saw the iarl's 
smack lying afloat under awnings. They went to 
the hall, where they learnt he was sleeping, with 
two men on guard. Asgrim, one of the boys, 
seized the men and held them while his brother 
entered the hall and put the point of his spear to 
Eadwine's breast and demanded the wehrgeld, or 
blood money, for his father's murder. Thereupon 
the iarl gave him three golden bracelets and a 
finely woven mantle. He was dubbed a goat (i.e., a 
coward) by Asgrim for thus surrendering. The two 
brothers then rushed down to the sea, where they 
spread the mantle on the water to make believe they 
were dead, and thus misled their pursuers. Presently 
they got separated. Asgrim went on to Surn- 
dale, and northwards round Stimr, a promontory 
between Naumdale and Northmere, where dwelt a 
landowner or thane called Eric Aulfus and 
another thane called Hallstan Stred, who were 
keeping Yuletide, and who bade them welcome, 
but Hallstan struck Asgrim with a drinking 
horn, probably in a drunken revel. Asgrim in 
turn wounded his assailant (who presently died 
of the injury), and then fied to the woods, and 
was pursued by Hallstan's men, and was wounded 
sorely as he was crossing a river in the frost. He 
presently found shelter and was hidden away by an 

236 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

old woman. Ari tells us she killed an animal and 
took out its entrails, and laid them on Asgrim's 
body, to make believe he was dead, and so deceived 
the pursuers. Fancying he was no more, they 
went home again, while the old woman kept him in 
hiding in an underground house till she had cured 
him. His brother, also thinking him dead, went to 
Iceland. Presently Eric Aulfus, above named, 
gave Asgrim a long ship with 30 benches, and he 
took to buccaneering for some summers. 

Meanwhile King Harald put a price on his 
head, and sent Thorgir, Grim's sister's son, with 
two warships to secure his head. He failed to 
catch him, and then w^ent to Iceland to seize his 
brother. Both eventually settled in Iceland (Ih., 
iii. 15, "pasdm). 

We can hardly realise what a drain upon the 
thinly-peopled Norwegian land must have been 
caused by the reckless slaughtering of so many of 
its people in the fashion here described, in which 
the victims suffered mainly as the result of firing 
the great halls, when everybody inside, men, women 
and children, guests and slaves, perished together. 
This was largely matched by the toll of the sea 
caused by the losses in the predatory raids in the 
wild weather round the North Sea and the Irish 

The ruthlessness of the incidents of the story 
proves how necessary a strong hand was in such 
times, and Harald had no scruples whatever, in 
fact, in having any person who deliberately dis- 
obeyed him killed, nor were his victims always 
cowed. We read of one of them who himself killed 
three of Harald's reeves and then fied to Iceland. 

In a later page we have a notice shewing that 
it was Harald's intention to subdue Iceland. We 

** Harnld Fairhair " 237 

are told his agent in the work was a certain 
Une the Unborn {i.e., say the editors, the 
posthumous, or Caesarian) ; he was the son of Gard- 
here, who had first discovered Iceland. He went 
there with the intention of conquering it, under 
Haral-d's patronage, and the king promised to make 
him its iarl if he did so. After several unlucky 
attempts to secure support, he was killed in a 
quarrel (Landnama-bok, iv. 6, 7). 

^•-^he imposition of taxes was resisted by the old 
Norwegian freeholders, or odallers, with great 
pertinacity. Thus we read that King Harald sent 
Thororm, his kinsman out of Thrum, in Agd, to 
get in scatt or tax which he had demanded from 
Asgrim, son of a mighty hersir, in Thelemark. 
Asgrim would not pay, though he had shortly 
before sent the king a present of a Gothic horse 
and much silver, saying it was a gift, but not a tax, 
for he had never paid skatt before. The king sent 
the money back and would not receive it. Presently 
Thororm came again to gather the tax, whereupon 
Asgrim summoned a moot and asked the franklins 
or free men if they wished to pay the impost. 
They, of course, said they did not wish to pay. 
The moot was held near a wood, and a slave of 
Thororm rushed out and killed Asgrim, whereupon 
the murderer was at once slain b}' the freemen. 
When Thorstan, Asgrim's son, heard of this he 
was away " warring," and on his return he 
sold his lands for silver and made ready to go to 
Iceland, but before he set out he burnt Thororm in 
his house in Thrum, and thus revenged his father. 
The climax of these tragedies is made more grim 
by the fact that Asgrim, when his son Thorstan 
was born, had ordered him to be exposed, i.e, to be 
put out to die. The thrall who was to dig the grave 
was sharpening his spade, and the boy was already 


238 Saga-Book of the Viking Sccteiy. 

laid out on the floor, when they all heard him recite 
these lines : — 

Give me to my mother, the floor is cold for me, 

Where should a child be better, than by his mother's 

hearth ? 
No need to put an edge on the iron, nor to shear the 

strips of turf. 
Let the wicked work cease ; for I shall yet live among men. 

When the boy was sprinkled with water they called 
him Thorstan (/^., i. 8, 2). After he had settled 
in Iceland, a ship came to the mouth of the 
Bang river, in which was a great sickness, 
and no man would take the travellers in, but 
Thorstan went and fetched them, and pitched 
tents for them at the place afterwards called the 
Tialda-stader (Tilt booths), and ministered to them 
himself as long as they lived, but they all eventually 
died (76. , v. 8, 5). This incident marks an amiable 
side of- the old Norwegian life at this time, of which 
samples are seldom recorded. 

About the home life of King Harald we know 
little and should like to know more. We are told 
by Ari that, in his latter days, he often abode in his 
great manors.* 

A few picturesque details about him are pre- 
served in a unique, but cruelly mutilated poem, 
written by a contemporary of the king who was a 
close friend of his, Hornklofi, which enable us just 
to peep into his home doings. It is in the form 
of a dialogue between a Eaven and a Walkyrie, or 
perhaps a Finnish wise woman. A Walkyrie was 
a kind of compound of Minerva and a witch who 

* In Hordland was Alrek-stead, now called Aarstad, a short distance 
south-east of Bergen (Magnussen, op. cit., iv., 240). On the western or 
Boknfirth end of an island of the same name, now called Utensteno or 
Utsten (76., 270) was another of these houses. Another was at Seaham 
(now called Seim, on the north side of the Ostero (76., 275) and another 
at Ogvaldsness on the N.E. side of the large island of Kormt, the south 
ei^d of which is watered by the mouth of the Boknfirth, 

* ' Harald Fairhair " 239 

could ride through the air on a super-natural horse, 
who selected those entitled to enjoy the rewards of 
heroism in another world, and apparently directed 
and shaped the fortunes of men. The Kaven 
represents the poet himself, whose surname was 
Hornkloii, or Hardbeaked. The poem is worth 
quoting at length, and I have adopted Vigfusson 
and Powell's translation : — 

" Listen ye warriors while I tell the feats of arms of 
Harald the fortunate. I will tell of a parley I heard between 
a fair and bright-eyed maiden and a raven. She seemed a 
wise walkyrie that despised wedlock, a keen Finnish maid 
that knew the tongue of birds. The white- throated lady 
spoke to the rover of the sky with the quick eyelids, as he sat 
on a peak of Wincrag. 

'"How is it with you ravens, whence have ye come with 
gory beak at the dawning of the day ? There is flesh cleaving 
to your talons and a carrion's stench comes from your mouth. 
You lodged last night I ween, where the corpses are lying. 

" Thereupon the poll-feathered sworn-brother of the eagle 
shook himself and wiped his beak, and thought of an answer. 
We have followed the young Yngling Harald, the son of 
Halfdane, ever since we left the egg. I thought thou must 
know the king that dwells at Kwinnom,* the lord of the North- 
men. He has many a deep keel, with reddened targets and 
red shields, tarred oars and snow-white awnings. The eager 
prince would drink his Yule at sea and play Frey's game 
\i.e.^ war) if he had his will. From his youth up he loathed 
sitting indoors beside the hearth, in the warm bower on the 
bolster full of down. 

" Quoth the Walkyrie : How does the generous prince 
deal with the brave men who guard his land ? 

'' Quoth the Raven : They are well cared for, the 
warriors who throw dice in Harald's court, they are endowed 
with wealth and fair swords, with the ore of the Huns (i.e., 
gold), and with maids from the East. They are glad when 
there is a hope of a battle. They will leap up in hot haste 

* On this name Vigfusson has a note. He says "Kvinnom," no 
doubt the present Quind-herred, Hardanger (Rosendal). Ahhough never 
named in the King's Lives, which always speak of Alrekstad near 
Bergen it must have been a favourite residence of the kings, being a 
central place in the Viking time — C.P.B-. i- 5^9. 

240 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

and ply the oars with hot haste, snapping the oar thongs and 
cracking the tholes. Fiercely I ween do they churn the water 
with their oars at the king's bidding. 

Quoth the Walkyrie : About the poets, how fare they. 
Thou must know well how the minstrels fare who live with 
Harald ? 

Quoth the Raven : Their good cheer and their gold 
bracelets show well that they are among the king's friends. 
They have red cloaks, gaily fringed, silver mounted swords 
and ring-woven coats of mail, gilt trappings, graven helmets, 
and wrist-fitting rings, the gift of Harald. 

" Quoth the Walkyrie : I will next ask thee, thou blood- 
drinker, how live the Bareserks.* How are the men, daring 
in war, who rush into the fight treated ? 

" Quoth the Raven : Wolfcoats they call them, and carry 
bloody targets in battle. They redden their spear heads when 
they rush into the fight, where they work together. The wise 
king only enrols men of high renown among those who smite 
upon the shield. 

" Quoth the Walkyrie : What of the tumblers and 
players.! What is the treatment of Andad and his company 
in Harald's house ? 

'* Quoth the Raven : Andad dandles his crop-eared dog 
and plays the fool, making the king laugh. There are others 
who carry burning wooden chips across the fire, tucking their 
flaming shock-locks under their belts. 

Quoth the Walkyrie : Didst thou hear how, at Hafrs- 
fiord, the high-horn king fought with Kiotvan the Wealthy ? 

Quoth the Raven : Ships came from the West, ready for 
war, with grinning heads and carved beaks. They were laden 
with warriors, with white shields, with Western spears and 
Welsh {i.e., Western) swords. They tried their strength 

* Vigfusson in his note says that while Baresarks is the generic 
name, Wolfcoats refers specifically to Harald's own bodyguard. In each 
case derived from the skins of the wild beasts which they wore. He 
aptly quotes the fact that the Aquilifer or eagle-bearer of a Roman 
legion — answering to the drum-major in a modern regiment — wore a 
wolfs skin (lb. 257). 

t Vigfusson & Powell suggest that this Court buffoonery and 
juggling was probably brought back by Harald from his Western 
journey. In the Irish story of Cuchullin and in the Senchus Mor, quoit 
hurling and keeping balls and knives in the air together are mentioned, 
find the whole has the air of the Irish Couit life [lb., 530). 

'' Harald Fairhair'' 241 

against the eager king, the Lord of the Eastman, who dwells 
at Outstone, and he taught them how to flee. The king 
launched his ship where he spied the battle. The Bare- 
sarks roared in the midst of the fight, the Wolfcoats howled 
and shook the iron, i.e., their spears. There was a hammering 
on bucklers ere Haklang fell. The thick-necked king 
(Haklang) could not keep his land against Shockhead Harald. 
He put the island between them as a shield. The wounded 
threw themselves down beneath the bench. They turned 
their backs up and jammed their heads down to the keel. The 
cunning ones let their shields shine on their backs as they 
were pelted with stones. The Eastern fellowship, i.e., the 
allies of the confederated Vikings, ran along the shore of 
Yader, away from Hafrsfiord, thinking of their mead at 
home, corpses lay on the sand there, a present for the one- 
eyed husband of Frigga {i.e., Odin). We [i.e., the Ravens) 
rejoiced at such a deed of fame (C.P.B., i. 255 — 259). 

Quoth the Raven (when the Walkyrie asked him of 
Harald's wife) : He scorned the Holm-rygians and the 
maidens of the Hords, of the Heins and the race of Halgo- 
land. The high-born king took a Danish wife. Ye 
bondmaids of Ragnhild (the Queen), that proud woman, shall 
have other things to gossip over at their cups than that ye be 
slavewomen that Harald has starved " 

Thus ends a broken line and a cryptic sentence. 
This splendid poem is unmatched in Northern 
poetry, in its fresh, unconventional imagery, and 
condensed strength. The sharp cut words read 
like flashes from a flint when struck by steel, and 
have a biting grip, which is the character oi the 
dialogues in Northern stories. 

Returning to Harald and his later days. It was 
a tragical conclusion to a great career when the 
old king having spent his life in integrating the 
broken fragments of Norway into a compact whole 
in his own firm grip, should in his latter days have 
undone so much of his work by once more dividing 
it into fragments at deadly feud with each other, and 
that his blood should have run out and his heritage 
have passed into another stock, notwithstanding the 
numerous progeny he had left. It might otherwise 

242 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

have initiated a new era in Norwegian history. It 
would require the pathos and splendid diction of a 
Greek tragedian like Aeschylus to do adequate 
justice to such a theme. To his people he became 
a type of the highest kind of leader. Ari reports 
the opinion of an old warrior called Egil Woolserk, 
who had once been bigger and stronger than any of 
his men, and had long borne King Harald's banner. 
He thus apostrophises his master's masculine 
virtues. Addressing his son Hakon, who had 
become King of Norway, he says :— '' I have been 
in battles with thy father. While at times he 
fought with great foes and at other times with 
lesser ones, he had always the victory. Nor did 
I ever hear him seek counsel of his friends to teach 
him how to flee (Saga of Hakon the Good, 
ch. xxiii.). 

Thus again spake the proud and boastful 
Swedish King Olaf of him : — " In Norway are but 
little dwellings and far sundered, and there have 
been but kinglets. But Harald Fairhair was the 
great king in the land, and he had to do with kings 
of the folk-lands and broke them down under him ; 
yet he knew what was well for him, and did not 
covet the Swede King's realm, and for that reason 
the Swede Kings let him rest in peace, and there 
was kinship between them." 

I will conclude with a few words from my 
old friend, who died too early, and was such a 
picturesque and gifted person, York Powell, which 
may well close my paper : — " The impression 
left upon one's mind," he says, " by reading the 
Book of Settlement and Fairhair's Battles, is 
that before his day Norway was a land of loosely 
organized folk-kingdoms, an anarchy rather than 
a heptarchy, save in the South, where, as Ari 
tells us, under Halfdane the Black and perhaps 

^^ Harald Fairhair'' 243 

earlier, there was a well-organised nucleus, strong, 
compact, and orderly, a small league, we take it, of 
folk tribes round Heaths*vi-Moot by the Vik. 
Harald Fairhair, in fact, starts as head of the best 
organised state in Norway — the only compound 
state — which was ruled by one king, and he wins 
folk-kingdom after folk-kingdom, and governs them 
by his sons, as other conquerors have done, 
but ever keeping a strict eye to their good rule and 
peace-keeping. The only time that Harald is in 
danger, through all his task of conquest, is when 
he meets the war leagues of Kings and Western 
Vikings he beat at Hafrsfiord, after a struggle of 
the most desperate kind. But this victory was the 
keystone of his power. His kingdom was never 
after in jeopardy and he was able, by his expedition 
to the West, to force the great part of the Con- 
federation that had fought against him at Hafrs- 
fiord to leave the western islands for the Northern 
colony " (Corp. Poet., ii. 498). 

Harald Fairhair had eight wives, respectively 
named : — 

Asa, daughter of iarl Hakon, by whom he had four sons — 

Guthorm, Halfdane the Black, Halfdane the White, 

and Sigfrod (or Sigrod). 
Gyda, daughter of King Eric of Hordaland, by whom be 

had a daughter and four sons — Alof, Rorek, Sigtrygg, 

Frodi, and Thorgils. 
Ragnhild, daughter of King Eric of Jutland, by whom 

he had one son — Eric Bloody Axe. 
Snowfair, daughter of Swazi the Fair, by whom he had 

four sons —Halfdane, Gudrod, Sigurd, Rognwald. 
SWANHILD, daughter of King Eystein of Heathmark, by 
whom he had four sons — Ragnor,Biorn,01af,Ingigird. 
ASHILD, daughter of King Dayson of Ringariki, by whom 

he had three sons — Day or Dag, Ring, Gudrod. 
Thora Most-Staff, by whom he had one son — Hakon 

the Good. 
Besides these children, Harald had a daughter, Ingibiorg, 

whose mother is unknown. 

244 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 


The earliest historical records of Scandinavia, as in other 
countries, were doubtless the poems and prose tales in which the 
pedigrees of the chiefs and other notable events were enshrined, and 
which the bards and court poets and professed storytellers composed and 
committed to memory when prose writing was unknown. Besides these 
were lapidary records, which were naturally very short The lack of 
more important literature was largely due to the corresponding lack of 
materials for writing. It was upon such oral sagas and poems, as we 
have seen, that the earliest prose writers of any moment in Norway — 
namely, Saemund and Ari — relied. 

After the introduction of prose writings these poems were largely 
corrupted and forgotten for lack of the trained class of skalds whose 
duty it was to preserve them, and they have only reached us in many cases 
in a fragmentary way. It was Vigfusson who first carefully analysed the 
character and quality of these poems in his great work written jointly 
with Yorke Powell, the Corpus Poeticutn Boreale. 

Of these poets or bards we have no mention of the actual names 
before the reign of Halfdane the Black, one of whose bards, 
namely. Andun lUskald. is mentioned in the Egil's Saga. In the 
reign of his son Harald we have the names of a galaxy of such 
poets recorded. This outburst was coincident with the beginning 
of the intercourse of the Norsemen with the Irish, who had a much 
older culture, and among whom the composing of epical and other 
poems was greatly developed, as was that of composing historic tales. 
In regard to the Norse tales Magnusson has given a graphic picture of the 
Saga teller's art which I shall not scruple to copy. He says : "The 
chief settlers in Iceland were men of high birth who had seen better 
days. They left behind lands, homes, kindred, environment ; they took 
with them family traditions, family pride, martial mettle, uncurbed 
ambition. A dreadful solitude prevailed throughout the land for a long 
time while the process of colonization was going on, which lasted for 
two-thirds of a century. In the widely-scattered homes the family circle 
became the centre of orally-rehearsed family stories during the evenings 
of the long winter. These stories were easily learnt by heart by nimble- 
minded listeners. They were the first nuclei of the Sagas of Iceland. 
They were recited at religious festivals, which were presided over and 
conducted by the Temple Godi or priest, at wedding feasts and Thing- 
motes, and other popular gatherings. In course of time the nucleus 
expanded into a complete Saga recording the acts of the settlers them- 
selves and their dealings, hostile or friendly, with one another. 
Ultimately the Althing at Thingvellir, where the elite of the little nation 
congregated yearly, became the great centre for the display of the story- 
teller's art, and from there the Saga travelled into every part of the 
country, more or less faithfully remembered, and recited to curious 
listeners. The interesting part of the business was that the teller of the 
story was in most cases placed face to face with critical audiences. The 
chiefs themselves, their children and relatives would in most cases be 
numbered among the crowd of interested visitors, and would be certain 
if necessary to interrupt and correct the reciter whenever his delivery 
failed in veracity as to facts or offended against fairness. In this way, 
to tell a story fairly {i.e., truthfully) was a moral duty and the highest 
matter of honour, while telling a leaning story {halla sogn) was regarded 
as the meanest of actions, and more than once cost the perpetrator his 

' Harald Fair hair " 


life (Nial's Saga, 1875, ch. 155, s. 23; Olaf the Good's Saga, Hcims- 
kringla, ii. 222, pp. 14-29)." 

As an illustration of this lucid account, Magnusson quotes a really 
remarkable story from the Morkinskinna, pp. 72-73, in regard to Marald 
Hardrada and an Icelandic Saga-teller : — " It happened that one summer 
a young and lively Icelander approached the King and asked for his 
favour. The King asked if he knew any lore, and he said he knew 
some sagas. The King said that in that case he would patronize 
him, but he must be prepared at all times to offer entertainment 
whenever asked, whereupon the courtier presented him with suitable 
clothes and the King with weapons, and he fulfilled his task appar- 
ently satisfactorily. But at the approach of Yuletide he looked 
sad, and the King suggested it was because he had exhausted his 
Sagas, which was unfortunate as Yuletide was approaching. He 
replied that it was partly true, since he had only one Saga remaining 
untold, but he dared not tell it for it related to his journey abroad 
The King replied that this was of all Sagas the one he desired most 
to hear, and he forbade him telling any more stories till the Yuletide 
came, and the loss would not be felt since his men had much on 
hand, and he must recommence it on Yuleday {i.e., Christmas) and 
make it last out till the end of the feast. This could be done, for the 
season was chiefly devoted to hard drinking, when there was not too 
much time for listening to stories. The Icelander duly began the Saga, 
and continued it till the King told him to stop, and thus the story went 
on till Yuletide was gone. The listeners, who did not know that the 
matter bad been arranged by the King, deemed it an impertinence on 
the part of the Icelander to recite it, but were conciliated by the fact 
that he had told it so well. On Twelfth Night, the Saga having been 
ended while it was still daylight, the King asked the story-teller if 
he wished to know his own opinion of it. ' I fear to hear it,' he said. 
'I like it right well,' said the King; 'it is in no way worse than the 
deeds warrant. Who taught thee the Saga ? ' 'It was.' said the story- 
teller, ' my custom every summer to attend the great Althing or annual 
gathering in Iceland, and learn by heart each summer a part of the Saga 
from Halldor Snorrisson.' ' It is no wonder that thou knowest it well.' 
he replied. The King duly rewarded him with a store of goods and kept 
him by him. and he became a man of substance" (Magnusson. op. cit. 
iv., Iv -Ivii.). This Halldor, son of Snorri, had in fact served under 
Harald when he commanded the Varangian mercenaries at Constanti- 
nople (ib. 82). 

Presently when writing was introduced into Iceland these oral 
recitals were written down, and no doubt their artistic qualities were 
duly improved by skilled writers like Snorri and others. The art itself 
had been originally largely borrowed, as I have said, from the Irish. 
Before that a skilled class of bards or poets had put the main facts into 
verse and thus greatly assisted the memory and perpetuated the poem, 
and every considerable court had its poets, who were highly rewarded and 
very privileged persons and. like the mediaeval clowns, were permitted to 
indulge in covert gibes at their employers, which formed a very useful 
and necessary antidote at times to the unbounded eulogy they employed 
at others. I have quoted two notable instances when Thiodolf rebuked 
his master Harald at a feast when he had complained that his veterans 
unduly flocked to his feasts and when he repudiated his sons by Snowfair. 
and in both cases very effectively ; while Guthorm Cinder interfered 
equally effectively to make peace between Harald and his ruthless son. 
Halfdane the Black. 

246 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 


The rival schools of history in the North which have championed 
the respective claims of the Norwegians and the Danes as the real heroes 
of the heroic time of* Scandinavian history have misled a large number 
of Western writers of the last generation. The fact is that the Danes, 
under the leadership of Steenstrup, a very industrious, ingenious and 
persistent champion, have largely befogged the position in regard to the 
earlier history of Denmark. Danish history really begins with the 
conversion of Denmark to Christianity, which took place much earlier 
in Denmark than among the Norsemen. For the pagan period we have 
no records of the least value except those shreds which have been pre- 
served by the Icelandic writers and by the Prankish chroniclers. There 
are neither native poems nor prose writings of any value extant dealing 
with the pre-Christian period with the exception of Beowulf and the 
Gleeman's tale, which deal with an earlier period and mainly with 
Germanic and not Norse traditions. Christianity apparently swept away 
all the trustworthy memorials of the pagan period of the Danish annals. 
Nothing shews this better than the great and romantic Danish prose epic 
of Saxo Grammaticus. The latter part of his work, especially that 
dealing with the reigns of the three Waldemars, is excellent history. The 
earlier books form an entirely fabulous compilation, in which the author 
has appropriated tales and Sagas from other people and deliberately 
invented a large number of royal names and attached to them incidents 
which have been deliberately transferred from the traditions of other 
nations, and in doing so has entirely mixed up and sophisticated the 
chronology as well as the facts, and constructed a romance as remote 
from real history as Baron Munchausen's adventure. The romance has 
been excellently told in excellent and fluent Latin, but has no kind of 
basis of truth. The real history of Denmark begins with Gorm, the 
father of Harald Blartand, grandfather of Swegen, and great-grand- 
father of Knut, or Canute, the famous Emperor of the North, whose 
career first brought the Danes into a conspicuous position in history and 
gave Denmark a notable place in the European polity. 

Gorm was a real person, and his gravestone still remains where it 
was erected by his son Harald, but for what we know of both father and 
son we have to turn elsewhere than to Saxo, who has made an astound- 
ing " muddle " of their chronology, and gives us no new facts which 
have any value whatever about them. 

On another occasion I may enlarge on Gorm and his son at 
greater length. At present I wish to speak of Godfred, whose 
relations with the Empire I have described. Saxo makes him the 
son of a Gormo or Gorm, and in order to give his view a semblance 
of consistency he has had to triplicate the only Gorm known to real 
history, who lived in the early part of the 10th century. One of these 
he makes the father of Godfred, who in that case must have lived 
in the second half of the 8th, since Godfred was the contemporary 
of Charlemagne. The Gorm whom he makes the father of the 
latter is preceded in his list by a series of names and events which 
take us back to the 6th and earlier centuries to Jarmeric and Bikko 
heroes of the Volsunga Saga, and to Aggo and Ebbo, the heroes of the 
Lombards, as reported by Paul the Deacon, who was himself a writer of 
the 8th century. This is not all. These latter names are again preceded 
by those of Harald and his nephew Sigurd Ring, the latter of whom 
lived in the end of the 8th century, but who Saxo plants in the earlier 

* * Harald Fairhair 


centuries after Christ. To intensify the confusion this second Harald and 
a second Sigurd occur in Saxo as successors of Hemming, who is 
definitely mentioned in the Prankish Chronicles of the 9th century, so 
that the same two rulers are in this case made to repeat their reigns after 
an interval of several centuries. Saxo's account of this Gormo is full of 
anachronisms. Thus he makes him have intercourse with Thule, or 
Iceland, which was not discovered till long after, and also be converted 
to Christianity in Germany and to introduce it into Denmark. As Godfred 
died in 910, if his father Gorm was a Christian, the latter must have 
been converted in the 8th century. The first Danish ruler to be con- 
verted was. however, Harald Klak in 826, and Denmark's conversion 
was long after this. The whole story is a huge tangle of confusion, and 
can only be explained by the fact that Saxo had no materials except his 
own fancy for reconstructing the lost annals of Denmark, except what he 
got from the Icelanders and the Prankish annals, and finding the name 
of Godfred mentioned very prominently by the latter authorities as an 
opponent of the Empire in Jutland, he concluded he was a Danish king, 
and proceeded to find him quite a mythical father and quite a mythical 

The Prankish annalists nowhere tell us who his father was. They 
call him a Norseman and they call him a Dane indifferently. His 
having come from Jutland to some extent justified the latter name, as it 
justified the Northern writers in sometimes calling the speech of Norway 
Danskattunga. The fact is the name Godfred or Gudrod does not occur 
in the best accredited list of Danish names or in the undisputed references 
to early Danish affairs in the Chronicles, while it is a very common 
name among the Norwegians. 

The Danish writers who have claimed Godfred as a ruler of Denmark, 
not only in older uncritical times, but in our own day, and notably Steen- 
strup and Jesson, have based their conclusion on the flimsiest evidence. 
They could produce no early witness in its favour, either native or 
foreign, and merely relied on the two facts that Godfred is sometimes 
called King of the Danes, by which was meant no doubt that he ruled at 
the time over at least that part of Denmark called Jutland, and, secondly, 
that the utterly descredited narrative of Saxo makes him a King of 

On the other side, the evidence is very strong indeed, if not, as I 
believe it, to be conclusive. 

First, he is made King of Westfold in Norway by the Icelanders, 
and designated as a very potent king in that part of Norway, with 
abundant details of his reign and of his ancestry given by 
Ari, the Icelandic historian, who wrote two centuries before Saxo, 
and whose writings, as we have seen, were not only remarkable 
for their proved reliability and critical faculty, but who had a 
large mass of excellent materials to support him. Godfred's sons are 
expressly referred to in the Prankish Chronicles more than once as rulers 
of Westfold, and they tell us in fact that it was when they were driven out 
of Jutland that they returned to their home in Westfold. Godfred occurs 
in the well-known Landfedgatal, the oldest list of the Northern Kings. 
His name is a very well known Norwegian name, and, what is very im- 
portant, the approved chronology of the Northern rulers of the Ynglings 
places him just at the period when Godfred is named by the Pranks. 
He occurs in the latter as the commander of a very large fleet, and his 
sudden appearance in the Prankish annals after a lapse of several years 
of silence points to his having been an intruder in Denmark, as does the 
fact of one of his sons being called " Eric the Usurper" by them. This 

248 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

view has been adopted by such excellent authorities as Kruse, Munch, 
G. Storm, Vigfusson, and Yorke-Powell. I arrived at the conclusion 
myself independently forty years ago {vide Translations of the Royal 
Historical Society for 1877), and it seems to me to be the only view 
consistent with the facts and with the history of the period. 

Steenstrup's attempt to identify Westfold with quite an obscure place 
in Jutland has not, so far as I know, had any support, and is quite incon- 
sistent with the great role played by Gudrod. Kruse, Pertz and Simson 
all agree that the Westfold here named was the Norwegian Westfold 
{vide ante p. 86). It is clear to me that, in addition to Westfold in 
Norway, he and his sons ruled over a large part of Jutland, and perhaps 
of Denmark proper, in the interval between the reign of Sigurd Ring and 
that of Gorm the Old, the real founder of the Danish Monarchy. 

It is curious that Steenstrup and his followers, who accept the state- 
ments in the Scioldunga (which was almost certainly composed by Ari 
Frothi) in regard to the earlier history of Denmark, should have treated 
with such scant regard Ari's other and more famous work, viz., his 
History of the Norwegian Kings. 

Gudrod, or Godfred, was not the only great Norwegian who has 
been appropriated by Steenstrup and his followers, as it was by 
most of the older writers, including our own Palgrave and Freeman, 
and made into a Dane. A second one was Rolf, the founder of the 
Dukedom of Normandy. In this case they also base their con- 
clusion upon an authority whose veracity has been greatly discredited 
of late years, namely, Dudo de St. Quentin, who in the 12th century 
wrote a panegyric of the rulers of Normandy. It is many years ago 
since I subjected this work to an elaborate analysis in a paper in 
the " Archaeologia," and showed that the French writer in question 
apparently knew nothing of the Norse speech or Norse literature. He 
was, like Saxo, in large part a mere romancer and, except in the latter 
part of his story, quite untrustworthy. He speaks of Rolf as a son of a 
King of Denmark, and quite ignores the details given by the Icelanders 
about him. I must refer my readers to my analysis of the work just 
mentioned for proofs of its worthlessness. I may say that it has 
been accepted by Vigfusson and by the most recent French critical 
writers on the period. The most notable circumstance in this case, apart 
from the direct evidence we possess, is the fact that Saxo, who raked 
together from every side all the materials, fantastic and otherwise, he 
could find to exalt the glory of Denmark, does not make any claim what- 
ever in favour of the founder of the great Norman Dukedom having been a 
Dane. In this case, as in that of Gudrod, the only satisfactory authorities 
are in fact the Icelanders, and especially Ari Frothi and Snorri, and their 
witness is the stronger because Rolf lived within quite a reasonable 
traditional memory of Ari and in a period about which much detailed 
information exists. It must also be noted that whilst Rolf is a common 
name in Norway, it is virtully unknown in Denmark. 

Ari's story about Rolf is plain and consistent, and his pedigree of him 
quite free from ambiguity. As we should expect from what we know of the 
potency of blue blood among the Normans, he had a very distinguished 
descent, and as we have seen he is described by Ari as a descendant of the 
early rulers of the Uplands. His ancestors for several generations are 
recorded by him. He makes him the son of Rognwald, the son of 
Eystein Glum, or the Noisy, the son of Ivar the Uplander, the son 
of Halfdane the Old, the son of Sweethi, the son of Hesti, the son 
of Gor. The three last names are mythical, but the others were doubt- 

" Harald Fairhair 


less Kings of the Upland. Halfdane the Old is mentioned in another 
pedigree in the Landnama-bok. Ari does not inform us, however, from 
which of the primitive Northern stocks they sprang, but it is clear that 
when the Ynglings settled in Norway these Upland Kings were the most 
powerful of its rulers. The recurrence of the names of Eystein and Ivar 
among them very possibly point to the solution of the question, and I 
may return to it on another occasion. Like Saxo, Dudo has transferred 
the deeds of other Northern freebooters who plundered in France to 
him, and confused the chronology. I ventured in my memoirs on him 
to give the first certain date of his appearance in France as the year 910, 
and the date has been adopted by Vigfusson and Yorke-Powell and the 
more recent French writers. 


In regard to the chronology of Harald's reign, I do not find it 
possible to accept Vigfusson's dates or his arguments, and it is the only 
substantial difference I have with my master. They are based partly on 
the date he fixed upon as that of the original settlement of Iceland, and 
partly on the equating of the generations of a number of Icelandic 
families, an uncertain guide, since it depends on the ages of the several 
individuals tabulated, when they married, etc. He puts these calcula- 
tions in opposition with the dates reached by Ari, and claims to correct 
the latter by them. If this had merely involved a correction of two or 
three years it would have been reasonable, but to suppose that a very 
critical and trustworthy authority like Ari would have been mistaken to 
the extent of 15 to 30 years in his calculation of the length of the reign 
of the great Harald and the date of the original settlement in Iceland 
seems to me quite incredible and impossible. The family records and 
genealogies in Iceland were very carefully kept, and Ari makes a masterly 
use of them in his works, and in regard to questions of chronology be 
had a predecessor who had made a special study of chronology, namely, 
Saemund Sigfusson, Priest of Oddi in Iceland, styled the Learned, who 
the Kristna Saga tells us was the best Clerk in Iceland, who was born in 
1056, the year Christianity was introduced in Iceland and twelve years 
before Ari, and died in 1133, fifteen years before him. Saemund went 
abroad when quite young, and in 1076 was studying in Paris under a 
great master of astronomy, as reported in Jon's Saga (see Magnusson, 
iv., Ivii.) ; and we learn from the preface to the Islendinga-bok and in 
chapter 7 of the same work that Ari submitted its first edition to him and 
relied upon him for the date of Olaf Trygvisson's reign. Saemund's own 
grandson, the poet Jon Loptson, in enumerating the kings of Norway 
with their regnal years, tells us that for those of the ten reigns from 
Harald Fairhair to Magnus the Good, both inclusive, he depended on 
the authority of Saemund (76., Iviii.). Magnusson argues plausibly that 
Saemund's work was written in Latin. 

It must further be remembered that Christianity was introduced 
into Norway by King Olaf Trygvisson, who reigned from 995 — 1000, and 
that from that date educated priests and the use of writing would be 
known there, and that the obits of the different Norwegian kings would 
doubtless be duly recorded there. The most important fact, however, to me 
is that the recognised dates of the Kings of Norway as generally accepted 
tallies with such events as we can approximately date ; a good e.xample 
of which is that of the battle of Hafrsfiord, which, if Storm's arguments 
about the end of Olaf the White that I have accepted is right, must have 
taken place in 871 or 872, as Ari says, and not in 885, as Vigfusson 
argues, while Harald's death would similarly fall in 933. 

250 Saga- Book of the Viking Society. 


One of the things about Harald which we should Uke to know 
something more about is his attitude towards the Christian reHgion 
which was facing him in all the realms around him, except those of 
Sweden and the Baltic lands. There are evidences that although he 
was probably a devotee of the worship of Thor, he was strongly opposed 
to the wizardry and magic which prevailed in so many of the Norwegian 
valleys, for he pursued its adherents, who were very numerous, with 
bitterness and asperity. 

It is also remarkable that, as we have seen, he should have sent 
his youngest and favourite son Hakon to be brought up at the court of 
the Christian King of England, Athelstan, and allowed him to be 
baptized there. A form of baptism was indeed preached at this time 
among the pagan inhabitants of Norway, among whom when a child 
"/as born his godfather, whose name he generally took, sprinkled him 
with water. This was possibly of Christiaa origin. 

We must remember also that at this time a great change had taken 
place in Odinism, involving an amalgamation of various Christian tradi- 
tions with it. This has been shewn to have been the case by the elder 
Bugge, Vigfusson and others. The latter has also given some excellent 
reasons for believing that this change of faith took its rise among the 
Vikings of the Western islands of Scotland, where the Eddaic poems 
were probably composed. 

"' Harald Fairhair'' 251 



There is one difficulty always attending a writer when 
he deals with Scandinavian history which is almost insuperable, 
namely, the variation of orthography of personal ard geographi- 
cal names, due to the fact that it is enshrined in three separ- 
ate languages, requiring three different dictionaries to explore 
them and adopting a varying alphabet and phonology, especially 
in the vowels,while the names themr.elves have also considerably 
varied in their spelling in their long history. I am conscious of 
having failed too frequently in maintaining a uniform spelling, 
but hope I have not seriously misled my readers by the fact, 
although I may have irritated some by these small fiies that 
have crept into my pot of ointment, the majority of which 
consist in one letter being substituted for another. My bad 
eyesight and the difficulties of having proofs properly read 
under recent conditions have also caused lapses for which the 
author can only crave patience and tolerance from those who 
care to consult his work. I hope that they will not fail to 
remember that as far back as Adam it is possible to affirm of 
our race that error is human and patience divine. 

Page 2, line 16 and elsewhere. For " Dofrefelds" read " Dovrefells." 
3, ,, 30. For "ib. 90" read " Munch, op. cit. 1, 96." 
7, ,, 15. Insert a second " it " before the comma. 
13, ,, 11. Erase the words " to which we will now turn " and 
insert "cited in the previous pages." 

15, ,, 8. For " Landnamadel " read " Landnamabok." 

16, ,, 16. For " op. cit." put " Die Vikingr." 

,, 16, ,, 25. Erase the " 's " in " Dronthemen's." 
,, 17, ,, 35. For "Thrond" read "Thronds." 

Pages 19, line 2, and 28, line 6. For " Hallingsyadal " and " Had- 
dingadal " read " Hallingyadal." 

Page 19, line 34. For " Morumentum " read " Monumentum." 
,, 22, ,, 10. For " Arochirani " read " Arochis Rani." 
,, 29, ,, 34. For " Geiger" read " Geijer." 
,, 31, ,, 5. Delete "with." 
,, 32, ,, 22. For " Ring " read " King." 
,, 30, ,, ZZ. For " rica" read " rige." 

Pages 34, line 31, and 36, line 20. For " Asirs " read " Aesir." 

Page 38, line 11. For " Vigfussion " read " Vigfusson." 
,, 38, ,, 21. After " history " read " in the vernacular." 
,, 41, ,, 3. I am not as sure as I was that Ari did not write the 
first 16 chapters of the Ynglinga Saga. It is 
quite possible that he did so. 
,, 45, ,, 11, and elsewhere. For " Tretelia " read " Tretelgia." 
,, 51, ,, 36. Transpose " told " and " as.'' 
,, 54, ,, 7. Transpose " Haldane " and " Eystein." 
., 55, ,, 6. For " he " substitute " the latter." 
., 57, lines 29 and 32. For " Freya " read " Frey." 
,, 58, line 26. Erase " ga " from " Siavagarista." 
,, 58, ,, 36. For " Heinskringla" read " Heimskringla.*" 

252 Saga-Book of the Viking Society. 

Page 61, line 24. For " Sigifrodus " read " Sigifroidus." 

62, „ , 11. For " larl soy " read " larlsoy." 

63, ,, 25. For "Hottar" read " Holtar, now Holtan (Magn. 
iv. 157)." 

65, ,, 28. For " partilus " read " partibus." 

66, ,, 13. For " Willchad " read "Willehad." 

71, ,, 23. For " Trygvason " read " Trygvisson." 

72, ,, 25. For " Icelandic" read " Icelandise." 
74, ,, 3. For " Fresians " read " Friesians." 
83, ,, 28. Insert " between " after " struggle." 

83, ,, 35. Substitute " is " for " e " in Trygveson." 

84, lines 17 and 32. For " Haldane " read " Halfdane." 
91, line 11. For " Ludovisi " read " Ludovici." 
94, ,, 4. Erase " good." 
94, ,, 5. For " Dee " read " Deas " (see supra 112). 

113, ,, 24. For "is" read "it." 

113, ,, 35. For " beleive" read " believe." 

116, ,, 4. For " hove " read " have." 

116, ,, 34. Cancel the words " doubtless Roric." 

119, ,, 2. Cancel "to." 

151, ,, 2. For " Norways " read " Norway." 

153, ,, 6. There is a homestead in Orkedale called Grytingr or 

Griting, perhaps named from this chief. 
155, ,, 15. For " Herlang " read " Herlaug." 
157, ,, 26. For " Knock wi " read " Nockvi." 
159, ,, 15. Cancel the words " already named." 
159, ,, 29. Kueld Ulf means the Night Wolf." 
163, ,, 5. For "Atleo" read "Atleo." 
173, ,, 33. Omit the comma after " rulers." 
, 176, ., 20. This was probably because his neighbours resented 
his fighting on Harald's side and not their's in 
the great battle. 
,177, ,, 32. For "there " put "then." 
, 180, ,, 29. Put " originally " after "came." 
, 182, ,, 9. Erase the comma and the words "and he" and 

insert " He." 
, 197, ,, 15. Eating a piece of live coal was one of the tricks 
played by the wizards and bareserks and is 
practised by modern conjurors. 
,219, ,, 23. The name is a corruption of the Gaelic Mselbrighde, 
and he was no doubt a Gaelic Maormar or iarl 
subordinate to the Scottish king. 
, 222, ,, 21. Now North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys. 

Printed by H. Williams & Son, 222, Gray's Inn Road, London, W.C. 

IJihing ^ocictn for |Tortlicvn Ilcsenrch. 

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