Chapter 207. The King and His Forces Sleep in the Open

 

Thereafter the king set out, going down along the valley. He selected a place for passing the night, and there all his troops gathered and slept out in the open during the night under their shields. As soon as day broke, the king mustered his troops, and they proceeded down the valley. Then a great many farmers came to the king, joining his colors; and all reported the same thing—that the landed-men had gathered an overwhelming host and intended to do battle with the king.

 

Then the king took [a purse containing] many marks of silver and handed it to a farmer, saying, “This money you are to safeguard, and parcel out later, donating some of it to the churches, some to priests, and some to the poor, for the lives and souls of those who will fall in battle fighting against us.”

 

The farmer said, “Is this money to be given for the salvation of the souls of your men, sire?”

 

The king replied, “This money is to be given for the souls of those men who stand on the side of the farmers and will fall by the weapons of our men. But as to those who are on our side in the battle, we shall be saved, all of us.”

 

Chapter 208. The Skald Thormóth Recites the Lay of Bjarki

 

During the aforesaid night, when King Óláf lay in the midst of his troops, he stayed awake for a long time, praying to God for himself and his men, and slept but a short while. Toward morning sleep overcame him, and when he awoke, day broke. The king thought it was rather early to wake the army. Then he asked where the skald Thormóth was. He happened to be near and asked what the king wanted of him. The king said, “I would have you recite some lay for us.” Thormóth arose and spoke in a very loud voice so that all the army could hear him. He chanted the “Old Lay of Bjarki,”1 of which this is the beginning:

 

(141.)

 

330.   Day has come,
the cock shakes his wings.
’tis time for thralls
to take to their tasks.
Awake, ye friends,
be wakeful ever,
all ye best men
in Athils’2 court.

 

(142.)

 

331.   Hár the hard-gripping,
Hrólf the bowman,
men of noble line
who never flee:
I wake you not to wine
nor to women’s converse,
but rather to Hild’s
hard game of war.

 

Then the troops awoke. And when he had finished the men thanked him for it and were exceedingly pleased with it. They thought it well-chosen and called the poem the “Housecarls’ Exhortation.” The king thanked him for his entertainment. Then he gave him a gold [arm] ring weighing half a mark. Thormóth thanked the king for his gift and said, “A good king we have; but it is not easy to see now how long he will live. It is my prayer, sire, that we may not be parted, whether dead or alive.”

 

The king replied, “We shall all go the same way, so long as I prevail, if you wish not to part with me.”

 

Then Thormóth said, “I expect, sire, whether now there be peace or war, to stand close by you while I have the chance, and whatever we learn of the whereabouts of Sigvat with his sword Golden Hilt.” Then he spoke this verse:

 

(143.)

 

332.   Stay would I still with thee,
steerer-of-ships, till other
skalds thou hast—but when dost
hope they come?—and fend thee:
gladly would I, gallant—
greedy wolves we batten—
wielder-of-the-wound-snake,3
with thee live and die eke!

 

Chapter 209. Harald, the King’s Half-Brother Insists on Staying for the Battle

 

King Óláf moved his army down along the valley. Dag with his company went by another way. The king did not stop on his march till he arrived at Stiklarstathir. Then they saw the array of the farmers. Their ranks were scattered and their numbers were so great that all paths were crowded with men, and in many places large detachments moved together. They [the king’s troops] caught sight of a company of men descending the Vera Dale. They had been reconnoitering and approached closely to the army of the king and were not aware of it before they were so close that they could recognize one another. That was Hrút of Vigg, with thirty men. Then the king ordered his bodyguard to fall upon Hrút and kill him. The men were quick to do this. Then the king said to the Icelanders in his flock, “I have heard it said that it is a custom in Iceland for farmers to have to give their man servants a sheep to slaughter in fall. Now I will give you a ram to slaughter.”1 The Icelanders were not slow to accept the challenge and, with other men, at once fell upon Hrút. Both he and all those with him were slain.

 

When the king arrived at Stiklarstath he took up a position and halted his army. He ordered his men to dismount and prepare for battle, and they did as they were told. Then they were placed into formation and the standards were set up. By that time Dag and his troops had not arrived yet, so his wing did not materialize.

 

Then the king ordered the men from Uppland to come up and advance the banners.

 

“It seems advisable to me,” said the king, “that my brother Harald be not in this battle as he is still only a child.”

 

Harald answered, “By all means I shall take part in it, and if I am so weak as not to be able to wield a sword, then I know what to do: let my hand be tied to the haft. No one is more minded than I to strike a blow against those farmers. I mean to be with my comrades,” We are told that Harald on this occasion spoke this verse:

 

(144.)

 

333.   Ward I shall the wing—and
worthy will my mother
hold that—which I stand on,
hardily reddening targes.
Fearful is not of foemen
farmers’ spear-thrusts youthful
warrior where will wage men
weapon-thing2 most murderous.

 

And Harald had his will to be in the battle.

 

Chapter 210. Thorgils Hálmuson Promises to See to the King’s Burial

 

There was a certain man called Thorgils Hálmuson, a farmer who lived at Stiklarstathir. He was the father of Grím the Good. Thorgils offered the king his help to be in the battle with him. The king thanked him for his offer, “But I wish, [friend] farmer,” said the king, “that you be not in the battle. I would rather you helped our men after the battle to bind their wounds and give burial to those who fall in it; so that, [friend] farmer, if so happen that I fall in this battle, you perform the last rites for my body, unless you be forbidden to do that.” Thorgils promised the king to do as he was bidden.

 

Chapter 211. The King Exhorts His Troops

 

Now when King Óláf had drawn up his troops in battle array he spoke to them, saying that they should take heart and advance boldly. “If it comes to battle,” he said, “we have a stout and large army; so that, even if the farmers do have a somewhat larger force, fate will decide the outcome. I want you to know that I shall not flee out of this battle. I shall either be victorious or else fall in it. I pray to God that that will come to pass which He deems is best for me. Therefore let us put our trust in this that we have a more righteous cause than the farmers and also that God will restore us to our possessions after this battle, or else reward us with a much greater recompense for the loss we suffer here than we can ourselves wish for. But if I be granted to address you after the battle, then I shall enrich everyone of you according to his deserts and according to how he comports himself in the battle. Then, if we are victorious, there will be a plenty, both of land and chattels, to divide between you of the possessions now in the hands of our enemies. Let us attack most briskly at the very start, because then there will be a quick decision if the odds are against us. Victory will be ours if we rush at them swiftly, but fortune will not be with us if we fight till we are tired so that we are unstrung because of weariness. We are likely to have fewer reserves than they for pushing forward while the others [merely] defend themselves or rest. But if we rush at them so hard that those in the front ranks turn, then one will tumble on top of the other, and their defeat will be greater the more there are of them,” Now when the king ceased speaking, there was a great acclaim of his harangue, and one fired the other.

 

Chapter 212. Thórth Fólason Bears the King’s Standard

 

Thórth Fólason carried King Óláf’s standard. So says Skald Sigvat in the memorial drápa1 he composed about King Óláf and provided with a burden from the Story of Creation:

 

(145.)

 

334.   That time, heard I, Thórth did—
thickened the storm-of-arrows—
stanch hearts stood there together—
stalwartly fight with Óláf.
High he held the standard—
help he did not grudge—for
keen-eyed king; nor failed in
combat Ogmund’s brother.2

 

Chapter 213. King Óláf’s Accouterment

 

King Óláf was armed thus: on his head he had a gilded helmet, and his shield was white, inlaid with the holy cross in gold. In his hand he had the halberd which now stands by the altar in Christ Church.1 He was girt with the sword called Hneitir, an exceedingly keen weapon whose haft was wound with gold. He wore a coat of chain mail. Skald Sigvat makes mention of this:

 

(146.)

 

335.   Foemen many felled the
fearless king, the Stout hight,
in burnished byrnie as to
battle he strode, much daring;
whilst warlike Swedes waded—
waxed the sword-din—sent from
the east, with bold lord banded—
blood-streams. Truth I tell you.

 

Chapter 214. King Óláf’s Dream

 

Now when King Óláf had drawn up his troops in battle array, the army of the farmers was still far away. So the king told the men to sit down and take a rest. And he himself sat down, together with all his troops, and they sat at a comfortable distance one from the other. He leaned down and laid his head on Finn Árnason’s lap. Then sleep overcame him, and he slept for a while. Then they saw the farmers’ army approaching. They were moving toward the king’s troops and had raised their banners. It was a huge host of men. Finn waked the king and told him that the farmers were advancing towards them.

 

And when the king awoke he said, “Why did you wake me and not let me have my dream out?”

 

Finn replied, “You are not likely to dream anything more fitting than to be awake and make ready to fight the host that is moving against us. For do you not see how near the crowd of farmers is to us?”

 

The king answered, “They are still so distant that it would have been better if I had kept on sleeping.”

 

Then Finn said, “What then did you dream, sire, that you think it better if I had not waked you?”

 

Then the king told him his dream—that he thought he saw a high ladder and that he mounted it up into the air so far that the heavens opened before him, so tall was the ladder. “I had come to the topmost rung,” he said, “when you waked me.”

 

Finn said, “This dream does not seem to me so good as it might seem to you. I should think this signifies your death, unless it be only some dream phantasm that occurred to you.”

 

Chapter 215. Arnljót Gellini Joins the King’s Ranks

 

One other thing happened after King Óláf had arrived at Stiklarstathir a certain man came to him. But that alone was not so strange, because many came to him from the surrounding country. The novelty was this that this man was not like the other men who at that time had come to the king. He was so tall that no one else in height came up to his shoulders. He was of very handsome appearance and fair-haired. He was well-armed. He had a fine helmet and a corselet of chain mail and a red shield, and was girt with a beautifully adorned sword. In his hand he carried a large spear inlaid with gold, with a shaft so thick that it filled your hand.

 

This man approached the king, greeted him, and asked whether the king would accept his service. The king asked him what was his name, his extraction, and from what part of the country he hailed. He answered, “I have kinsfolk in Jamtaland and Helsingjaland. My name is Arnljót Gellini. Let me first of all recall to your mind that it was I who aided your men whom you had sent to Jamtaland to fetch your tribute there. I entrusted them with a silver dish which I sent you as a token that I wished to be your friend.” The king then asked him whether or no he was a Christian. He said concerning his faith that he believed in his own power and strength.

 

“That belief has so far sufficed me; but now I mean rather to believe in you, sire.”

 

The king replied, “If you will believe in me, then you must believe what I shall teach you. This you are to believe, that Jesus Christ created heaven and earth and all human beings; and that after death all shall go to him who are good and have the right faith.”

 

Arnljót replied, “I have heard the White Christ spoken of, but I do not know what is his function and where his dominion lies. Now I shall be willing to believe all you tell me. I shall entrust myself to you altogether.”

 

Thereupon Arnljót was baptized. The king taught him all of the faith which seemed most necessary for him to know. He assigned him to the front rank and to stand before his banner. There stood also Gauka-Thórir and Afra-Fasti with their band.

 

Chapter 216. The Army of the Farmers

 

We have to tell now, from the point where we turned aside, how the landed-men and farmers had gathered an unconquerable army as soon as they learned that the king had departed from Gartharíki in the east and had arrived in Sweden. And when they heard that the king had come from the east to Jamtaland and intended to proceed from there across the Keel to Vera Dale they moved this army to the inner reaches of the Trondheimfjord and there gathered together everyone, free men as well as thralls, and then proceeded up the Vera Dale. They had so great a host that there was no one who had ever seen so large a force gathered in Norway. And as is apt to be the case in such a large army, there were all kinds of people in it. There were a goodly number of landed-men and a great multitude of powerful farmers, yet the great mass was made up of cotters and laborers. And the main part of it consisted of men gathered in the Trondheim Districts. That army was violently enraged against the king.

 

Chapter 217. Of Bishop Sigurth

 

As was written above, Knút the Powerful had subdued all of Norway and had set Earl Hákon to rule it. As bishop for his court he had given him a priest called Sigurth.1 He was of Danish origin and had long been with King Knút. This bishop was a man of vehement temper and unusual eloquence. He gave King Knút all the support he could, and was most hostile toward King Óláf. This bishop was in the farmers’ army and often spoke to them, urging them strongly to make resistance to King Óláf.

 

Chapter 218. Bishop Sigurth Harangues the Farmers

 

Bishop Sigurth spoke at a meeting of the council [of the farmers], attended by a great multitude. He made the following speech:

 

“A great multitude has gathered here now, so great that there is hardly a chance of ever seeing a greater host of men born here in this poor land. And this great host should stand you in good stead. There is sufficient need for that if this Óláf still insists on wanting to make war on you. Already in his youth he accustomed himself to rob and kill men, and in so doing went about far and wide. And finally he turned to this land and began by making enemies of the best and most powerful men, King Knút [among them], whom all are in duty bound to serve. He took possession of this land which is tributary to him [Knút], and the same he did to King Óláf of Sweden; and he drove Earl Svein and Earl Hákon from their inherited possessions. But most ruthlessly he treated his own kin, driving all kings out of the Uppland provinces; though to be sure that was justified in some measure, because earlier they had broken faith with King Knút and abandoned their allegiance to him while supporting this Óláf in all his evil designs. Then their friendship came to an end, as was to be expected. He inflicted mutilations on them, and appropriated their dominions, and thus he destroyed all princely races in the land. And you probably know how he later dealt with the landed-men: the most prominent ones he killed, while many had to flee the country for him. Also, he has fared far and wide about this country with robber hordes, burned the countryside, and killed and robbed the people. Who, indeed, is here of men of mark who does not have to avenge himself on him for great losses he inflicted on him? Now he comes with an army of foreigners, most of whom are people from the woods, highwaymen, or other robbers. Do you think he is likely to be gentle with you now, coming with this rabble when [before] he committed such depredations when all who followed him warned him against that? I consider it advisable for you to remember the words of King Knút—what he counseled you to do in case Óláf tried to regain the land, how you should maintain the liberty, which King Knút promised you: he bade you resist and drive off such gangs of bandits. Now is the time for you to make head against them and strike down these miscreants for eagle and wolf [to feed on], letting everyone lie there where he is cut down, unless you would rather drag their corpses into the woods or rock piles. Let no one be so bold as to move them into churches, because they are a pack of vikings and evil-doers.” And when he stopped speaking, the men made great acclaim, and said they would do as he had counseled.

 

image

 

Bishop Sigurth addresses the farmers.

 

Chapter 219. Hárek and Thórir Refuse the Leadership of the Farmers

 

The landed-men who had gathered there had a meeting and discussed arrangements as to how the line of battle should be drawn up and who should be in command of the army. Then Kálf Árnason spoke up and said that Hárek of Thjótta was the man best suited to be in command of this array, “because he is of the line of Harald Fairhair. The king is greatly incensed at him for the slaying of Grankel, and he will be most dangerously exposed if Óláf regains his power. Also Hárek is most experienced in warfare and a man of great ambition.”

 

Hárek replied that men in their prime were better suited [to be the leader]; “but I am now an old man,” he said, “and infirm and little fitted for battle. Also, I am a kinsman of Óláf, and though he may lay little stress on that in his relations with me, yet it is not seemly for me to be more prominent in this battle than anyone else in our company. But you, Thórir, are well suited to be our leader in fighting against King Óláf. Also, you have sufficient reason for so doing. Not only do you have to take revenge on him for the slaying of your kinsmen but also for his driving you from all your possessions as an outlaw. Additionally, you have promised King Knút as well as your kinsmen to avenge Ásbjorn. Or do you think you will ever have a better chance than now to avenge yourself on Óláf for all the wrongs he has done you?”

 

Thórir answered him as follows: “I do not trust myself to bear the standard against King Óláf or to be made the leader of this army. It is the Thronders who have the greatest host here. I know their overweening pride and that they are not likely to obey me or any other from Hálogaland. But there is no need to remind me of the wrongs I have to repay Óláf for. I remember the loss of [kins]men, for Óláf took the lives of four men, and all distinguished by birth and high worth; my brother’s son Ásbjorn, Thórir and Grjótgarth, my sister’s sons, and their father, Olvir; and I owe it to each of them to avenge them. Now as to myself, I have chosen eleven of my housecarls who are briskest; and I think that we will not need fear comparison with others when it comes to exchanging blows with Óláf, if chance offers to do so.”

 

Chapter 220. Kálf Ámason Cautions the Leaders of the Farmers

 

Then Kálf Árnason spoke up, “We shall have to be on our guard lest the business we are engaged in does not end with mere talk, now that this army has been gathered together. We shall need to do more if we are to do battle with King Óláf than having everyone shirk the responsibility for undertaking a difficult job; because we may well expect that, even though Óláf possibly has a smaller army compared with ours, it has a fearless leader and all his troops can be counted on to be loyal to him. Now if we are somewhat nervous—we who should by all means be the leaders of our force—and will not encourage and exhort the troops, nor lead them, then the great mass of the army will straightway lose heart, and everyone will take to looking out for himself. And though a great army is gathered here, we are likely to be put to a severe test when we meet King Óláf and his troops in battle; and we are certain of defeat unless we, their leaders, be brisk and the whole army rush forward with one accord. And unless that is the case, then it would be best for us not to risk battle; and then the other alternative will evidently be for us to take our chance at Óláf’s mercy; and he was harsh when he had less cause to be so than now. Yet I know that there are men in his army that I could count on for obtaining quarter if I sought it. Now if you are agreed, then you, brother-in-law Thórir, and you, Hárek, shall put yourselves under the standard we shall all raise and also follow. Let us all be brisk and keen in the business we have undertaken, and let us advance against them with our army of farmers in such a fashion that they will not detect any fear in us. And that will inject courage in the hearts of everybody if we proceed cheerfully to put our troops in battle order and fire their hearts.”

 

When Kálf had finished they all were agreed with him and said they would do as he would have them. Then all were agreed to have Kálf as leader of the troops and have him station everyone as he thought fit.

 

Chapter 221. The Battle Array of the Farmers

 

Kálf set up the standard and stationed his housecarls under it, and with them, Hárek of Thjótta and his company. Thórir the Hound and his men stood in front of the standards at the head of the formation. And a chosen band of farmers was on both sides of Thórir, men who were the keenest and best armed. This, [the center of the army], was both long and deep, and in it were men from Trondheim and Hálogaland. To the right of this formation there was placed another, and at the left side of the center stood the men from Rogaland, Horthaland, Sogn, and the Fjords, and there was set up the third standard.

 

Chapter 222. Thorstein the Shipbuilder Vows Vengeance on King Óláf

 

There was a certain man called Thorstein the Shipbuilder. He was a merchant and a great artificer, a big and strong man, of great energy in all matters, and also one who had committed many manslaughters. He had had a falling out with the king, and the king had taken from him a new and large ship which Thorstein had built. It was on account of Thorstein’s deeds of violence and as a weregild that the king had exacted this. Thorstein had joined the farmers’ army. He went in front of the lines to where stood Thórir the Hound and said, “I want to be in this company, Thórir, right by you, because if Óláf and I meet I mean to be the first to strike him, if I manage to get close enough to him, and thus repay him for his seizing my ship, one of the best among trading vessels.” Thórir and his men received him into their ranks.

 

Chapter 223. Kálf Árnason Exhorts the Troops

 

Now when the battle order of the farmers was established, the landed-men spoke to them, exhorting the troops to watch their position, where each one was stationed, beneath which standard was his place, how far from his banner or how near to it. They asked the men to be alert and quick to take their places when the trumpets sounded and they heard the signal, and then keep step; because they still had to advance their army a very long distance, and there was a chance that their lines might break during the march. Then they fired the spirits of the troops. Kálf said that all men who had a grievance against King Óláf and a revenge to exact against him were to advance under those standards which were to meet those of Óláf, and be mindful of the wrongs he had done them—they would not ever have a better chance to avenge themselves for what he had inflicted on them, and thus liberate themselves from the oppression and thralldom he had subjected them to. “A coward he,” he said, “who does not fight most bravely, because the men who stand against you [all] have been offenders against the law, and they will not spare you, given the chance.” There was a tremendous acclaim given his speech, and men fired one another throughout the army.

 

Chapter 224. The Rearguard of Both Armies Lags

 

Thereupon the farmers with their army proceeded to Stiklarstathir. There stood King Óláf with his army. At the head of their troops marched Kálf and Hárek with their standard. Now when the armies met, fighting did not start right away, because the farmers delayed the attack for the reason that their troops by no means had advanced equally, so they waited for the detachments that had lagged. Thórir the Hound with his company brought up the rear, because he was assigned to see to it that no troops stayed behind when the battle cry was heard and the armies were in touch with one another, and so Kálf and his men waited for Thórir. The farmers had this watchword to urge themselves on to battle: “Forward, forward, farmer folk.”

 

King Óláf also made no attack to begin with because he was waiting for Dag and his troops. Then the king saw Dag and his men coming. We are told that the farmers had no less than hundred times a hundred [14,400] men. As says Sigvat:

 

(147.)

 

336.   Heavy my heart that Óláf
had a small force only
from the east: unfalt’ring,
firmly gripped he his sword-hilt.
Had by half the enemy’s
henchmen greater numbers.
Checked that the warriors’ chieftain.
Chide I no one for faint heart.

 

Chapter 225. The King and Kálf Árnason Exchange Words

 

When both armies were [thus] stationary and men could recognize one another, the king said, “Why are you, Kálf, on that side, seeing that we parted as friends south in Mœr? It ill befits you to fight against us and shoot fatal shots into our ranks, because there are four brothers of yours with me here.”

 

Kálf replied, “Much goes differently, sire, than would be most fitting. You parted with us in such a fashion that it was necessary for me to make peace with those on the other side. Now each of us has to stay where he is; but if I had my way we still could come to an agreement.”

 

Then Finn1 answered, “About Kálf this is to be noted, that when he speaks fair he is about to do ill.”

 

The king said, “It may be, Kálf, that you wish to come to an agreement, but it seems to me that the farmers do not look like having peaceful intentions.”

 

Then Thorgeir of Kviststathir said, “You are now going to have such peace [from us] as many a one before has had at your hands, and now you will be repaid for it.”

 

The king replied, “You do not need to be so eager to meet us, because victory will not be granted you today over me—for did I not raise you from a lowly station to power?”

 

Chapter 226. King Óláf Fights in the Front Ranks

 

By that time Thórir the Hound had arrived with his company and surged forward in front of the standard, calling out, “Forward, forward, farmer folk!” They raised the battle cry and let fly both arrows and spears. Thereupon the king’s men raised their battle cry and urged each other on with the rallying cry they had been taught: “Forward, forward, Christ’s men, cross men, king’s men!” Now when the farmers who were stationed outermost in the wing heard this, they called out the same as they heard others call out. But when the other farmers heard that, they thought they were king’s men and attacked them, thus fighting their own men, and many fell before they recognized each other.

 

The weather was fair and the sun shone from a clear sky. But when the battle started there came a redness in the sky and also over the sun and before the battle ended it was as dark as at night. [July 29th.]

 

The king had stationed his men on a certain hillock, and they rushed from above onto the army of the farmers, and made such a furious assault that they gave way, so that the front of the king’s battle line came to stand where those in command of the farmers’ army had been stationed before, and many among them were about to flee. But the landed-men and their house-carls stood their ground and then there developed a violent struggle. As says Sigvat:

 

(148.)

 

337.   Widely o’er fields fared on
foot—of peace was surcease—
byrnied men to baleful
battle—the earth resounded,
in early morning hour when
arrow-senders, helm-clad—
steel-storm raged at Stiklar
Stead—rushed down upon them.

 

The landed-men urged their troops on and goaded them to advance. Sigvat makes mention of this:

 

(149.)

 

338.   Abreast strode, their banner
bearing, in middle line, stout
Thronders there, with halberds
thrusting. Now they rue it!1

 

Then the army of the farmers attacked on all sides. Those who stood foremost slashed with their swords, those standing next behind them thrust with their spears, whilst all those in the rear let fly both with javelins or arrows or threw stones or hand-axes or shafts with pointed stones. Soon the battle grew murderous, with many falling on either side. In the first onset fell Arnljót Gellini, Gauka-Thórir, and Afra-Fasti, together with all their company, but only after each of them had slain one or two men, and some, several. Then the lines before the banner of the king grew thin. So the king bade Thórth to advance the standard, and the king himself followed it with the body of men he had selected to be about him in battle. These were the most dexterous in the use of their weapons and the best armed among his troops. This is mentioned by Sigvat:

 

(150.)

 

339.   Closest heard I, kept my
king beside his standard,
hastening headlong with it—
hard the fight—’gainst foemen.

 

When King Óláf issued from the shield castle and went into the front ranks and the farmers beheld his countenance, they were filled with dread and their hands failed them. This is mentioned by Sigvat:

 

(151.)

 

340.   Dreadful was it, I deem, for
dragon-hoard-dispenders2
to look in the eyes of Óláf,
eager for fight and knife-sharp.
Nor dared the doughty Thronders—
dread of the hersars’ lord o’er-
awed them—in fray e’er his
asp-keen eyes encounter.

 

Then the battle grew most violent. The king himself advanced in hand to hand combat. As Sigvat says:

 

(152.)

 

341.   Red grew in raging sword-fight,
wrathfully as fought fierce
warriors our worthy folk-lord,
weapons and hands with wound-dew.
And in the game-of-iron,
Óláf, battle-eager,
cleft many a man’s head in
middle with sharp falchion.

 

Chapter 227. There Is an Eclipse of the Sun During the Battle

 

King Óláf fought then most valiantly. He slashed across the face of Thor-geir of Kviststathir, the landed-man mentioned above, cutting in two the nose guard of his helmet and cleaving his head below the eyes, so that it was almost sundered. When he fell, the king said, “Is it not true what I told you, Thorgeir, that when we met you would not be the victor?”

 

Right then, Thórth rammed down the standard shaft so hard that it stood in the ground. He had received a mortal wound and fell beneath the standard. With him fell also Thorfinn Mouth and Gizur Goldbrow. He had been attacked by two men, but killed one of them and wounded the other before he fell. As says Hofgartha-Ref:

 

(153.)

 

342.   One bold spear-Ygg,1 without
wavering, started Hild’s-play—
his sword sang out—against two
savage trees-of-combat.2
Dealt the dart-thrower bold his
death-blow—he steel reddened—
to one war-worker, another
wounded he grievously.

 

Then occurred this, as was stated above, that in a clear sky the sun disappeared and it became dark. This is mentioned by Sigvat:

 

(154.)

 

343.   No small wonder, say the
sailship-steerers, was it,
when from cloudless heaven
hardly warmth gave the sun-orb.
An awful omen—from the
English3 I learned the portent—
for the king that fast did
fail daylight in battle!

 

Just at that time Dag Hringsson arrived with his force, and he began to put his troops in battle formation and set up his standard. However, because of the great darkness they delayed in delivering their attack, for they did not know for sure who confronted them. Yet they turned against the wing where stood the men from Rogaland and Horthaland. Many of these events occurred at the time or else shortly before or after.

 

Chapter 228. Thorstein, Thórir, and Kálf Deal King Óláf Fatal Blows

 

Two kinsmen of Kálf Árnason bore the name of Kálf and Óláf. They stood on one side of him. They were large and bold men. Kálf was the son of Árnfinn Armóthsson, a nephew of Árni Armóthsson. On the other side of Kálf Árnason stood Thórir the Hound. King Óláf slashed across Thórir the Hound’s shoulder. The blow took no effect, and it seemed as if dust flew up out of the reindeer skin. Sigvat makes mention of this:

 

(155.)

 

344.   The free-handed king found out
full clearly himself, how
the mighty magic of Finns from
maim protected Thórir,
when with slaughterous sword he
slashed across the shoulders
of the Hound, but blunted,
bit not gold-dight Hneitir.

 

Thórir struck at the king, and then they exchanged some blows; and the king’s sword took no effect where Thórir’s reindeer skin protected him, yet he received a wound on his hand. Sigvat says still further about this:

 

(156.)

 

345.   Who would call in question—
courage lacked not Thórir—
the Hound’s hardihood when
having it out with Óláf?
The stalwart storm-of-arrows-
starter basely dared ’gainst
the king himself in cruel
combat to lift his broadsword.

 

The king said to Bjorn, his marshal, “Strike down the dog on whom steel takes no effect!”

 

Bjorn turned his battle-axe and hit him with the hammer of it. The blow fell on Thórir’s shoulder. It was a mighty one, and Thórir tottered. At the same moment the king turned on Kálf and his kinsmen and dealt Óláf, Kálf’s kinsman, his deathblow. Then Thórir the Hound thrust with his spear at Bjorn the Marshal and pierced him in the middle and that was his death.

 

Then Thórir said, “Thus beat we the bears.”1

 

Thorstein Shipbuilder hewed at King Óláf with his battle-axe, and the blow struck his left leg above the knee. Finn Árnason instantly killed Thorstein. Receiving that wound the king leaned against a boulder. He threw down his sword and prayed God to help him. Then Thórir the Hound thrust at him with his spear. It pierced him from below his coat of mail and through the belly. Then Kálf slashed at the king, and the blow struck his neck on the left side. Men disagree as to which Kálf [Kálf Árnason or Kálf Árnfinnsson] wounded the king. These three wounds caused King Óláf’s death. After his fall most of the company which had advanced with him fell too. Bjarni Gullbrárskáld composed this verse about Kálf Árnason:

 

(157.)

 

346.   Warlike prince, with weapons you
warded Norway ’gainst Óláf.
You fought with noblest folklord
fearlessly. I heard said
that, stout of heart, at Stiklar-
stath you went before the
flag and fought until that
fallen lay the liege-lord.

 

The skald Sigvat composed this verse about Bjorn the Marshal:

 

(158.)

 

347.   Also heard I how erstwhile—
onward he strode—Bjorn taught
marshals, manly-wise, their
masters to help in battle:
fell he with faithful king’s men,
fighting for his liege-lord,
by the head of high-souled
hero. Glorious that death is.

 

Chapter 229. Dag Hringsson Renews the Battle

 

Thereupon Dag Hringsson kept the battle going, making such a strong first attack that the farmers yielded ground and some turned to flee. Then fell a great number of farmers, and also these landed-men: Erlend of Gerthi and Áslák of Finney. The standard they had followed was cut down then. The battle then raged most violently. It has been called Dag’s Onslaught. Against Dag made head Kálf Árnason, Hárek of Thjótta, Thórir the Hound, together with the troops under their command. Then Dag was overborne by the odds against him, and he turned to flight, as did all that remained of the army. There is a certain valley through which fled the main body of it, and there many were cut down. Then men fled two ways, many severely wounded, and some so spent that they were fit for nothing. The farmers did not pursue them for any length of time because their leaders soon returned to the battlefield, for many were bound to look there for their friends and kinsmen.

 

Chapter 230. King Óláf’s Sanctity Is Revealed to Thórir the Hound

 

Thórir the Hound went to the spot where lay the corpse of King Óláf, and prepared it for burial, laying it flat on the ground, straightening it, and covering it with a garment. And when he wiped the blood from the king’s face, he related afterwards, his countenance was beautiful, in that his cheeks were ruddy as though he were asleep, and much more radiant than before when he was alive. The king’s blood came on Thórir’s hand and flowed between his fingers where he had been wounded before, and from that moment the wound healed so quickly that it required no dressing. Thórir himself bore witness to this occurrence before all men at the time the sanctity of King Óláf became known. Thórir the Hound came to be the first among the men of influence who had been the king’s opponents to witness to his sanctity.

 

Chapter 231. The Farmers’ Army Disbands

 

Kálf sought for his brothers who had fallen there. He found Thorberg and Finn, and we are told that Finn hurled a sword at him and wanted to kill him. He spoke harsh words to him, calling him a truce breaker and a betrayer of his king. Kálf paid no attention to him and had him borne from the battlefield together with Thorberg. Their wounds were investigated and none of them found mortal. They had fallen because of the shower of missiles and from sheer exhaustion. Then Kálf proceeded to have his brothers brought to his ship and departed with them himself.

 

Now as soon as he had gone, all the farmers who had their homesteads nearby left too, excepting those who were busy with their friends and kinsmen who were wounded or who attended to the bodies of those who had fallen. The wounded were brought in to the farms, so that every house was full of them; but over some, tents were erected outside. But however remarkably many had gathered to form the army of farmers, it was thought even more remarkable how quickly this gathering of forces broke up, once it began to do so; and the reason for that was chiefly that the greatest number had come together there from the [surrounding] country and that they were very eager to return to their homes.

 

Chapter 232. Thórir the Hound Gives Pursuit

 

The farmers who lived in the Vera Valley went to meet the chieftains Hárek and Thórir and complained about their difficulties. They said, “These fugitives who have escaped from battle are likely to make their way through Vera Valley and are likely to deal roughly with our homes, and we dare not return home while they are in the valley here. Be so good to pursue them with your troops and let no living soul get away; because that is what they would have done to us if they had been victorious in the battle, and so they are likely to do still if there is an encounter when they have greater numbers than we. Possibly they will linger in the valley if they consider they have nothing to be afraid of. And in that case they are likely right away to deal roughly with our habitations.” The farmers said a great deal about this and urged the chieftains with great impatience to proceed and kill the men who had fled. And when the chieftains discussed this matter between them they thought the farmers had much justification for what they said; so they agreed to send Thórir the Hound to accompany the Vera Valley farmers with the six hundred [720] men who had stood under his leadership, and they started on their way.

 

Night began to fall then. Thórir did not stop till at nightfall he arrived at Súl. There he learned that Dag Hringsson and many other of Óláf’s troops had been there and stopped for eating their supper, but had then continued over the mountains. Then Thórir said he would not pursue them over the mountains. So he returned down the valley, and they managed to cut down only a few [of the stragglers]. Thereupon the farmers returned to their homes; and the day after, Thórir and his men boarded their ships. But the king’s men who could do so saved their lives by hiding in the forests. Some were helped by people [living near by].

 

Chapter 233. Of the Skald Thormóth and Kimbi

 

Thormóth the Skald of Coalbrows, had fought in the battle beneath the king’s standard. And when the king had fallen and the battle raged at its fiercest, the king’s bodyguard fell, one after the other, and those who still stood up were mostly wounded. Thormóth had been severely wounded. Then he, like the others, retreated from where they thought was the greatest danger, and some fled running. Then started the battle which men call Dag’s Onslaught. All of the king’s troops still capable of fighting joined it, but Thormóth did not fight in that battle, for he was unable to on account of exhaustion and his wounds, and he merely stood up near his companions though he could do nothing else. Then he was struck by an arrow in his left side. He broke off the shaft of the arrow, then left the battle, and went up to a farmstead and came to a barn. That was a large building. Thormóth had a bare sword in his hand. And when he went inside, a man met him.

 

He said, “There is a most miserable noise in here with wailing and lamenting. Great shame that brave men should not be able to bear their wounds. It may be that the king’s men acquitted themselves well in the fight, but they bear their wounds mighty poorly.”

 

Thormóth answered, “What is your name?” He gave his name as Kimbi [Scoffer]. Thormóth asked, “Were you in the battle?”

 

“I stood with the farmers,” he said, “which was the better part [to take].”

 

“Are you wounded at all?” asked Thormóth.

 

“A little,” said Kimbi; “and you, were you in the battle?”

 

Thormóth replied, “I was, and on the side of those who had the better cause.”

 

Kimbi saw that Thormóth had a gold ring on his arm. He said, “You are likely to be a king’s man. Give me your gold ring, and I will hide you. The farmers will kill you if they find you.”

 

Thormóth said, “Take the ring if you can. I have now lost what is most valuable.” Kimbi reached out and wanted to grab the ring. Thormóth swung his sword, cutting off his hand; and we are told that Kimbi bore the pain of his wound in no wise better than those he had found fault with. Kimbi went his way, and Thormóth sat down in the barn and stayed there for a while listening to what people said. They talked most about what they had seen in the battle and discussed how the combatants had fought. Some praised most highly King Óláf’s valor, but others praised other men no less. Then Thormóth spoke this verse:

 

(159.)

 

348.   Oaken-hearted Óláf
onward strode—gore-covered
steel bit deep at Stiklar-
Stath—and urged his men on.
Shields did shelter all from
shower-of-arrows—tried was
many a warrior’s mettle in
medley—but the leader.

 

Chapter 234. Thormóth’s Last Hours

 

Thormóth then went to a small detached building and entered it. Inside it there were already many severely wounded men. A certain woman was busy there bandaging these men. There was a fire on the floor, and she heated water for cleansing their wounds. Thormóth sat down near the door. People went in and out, attending to the wounded men. One of them turned and looked at Thormóth and then said, “Why are you so pale? Are you wounded, and if so why don’t you ask to be helped by the healer?” Thormóth then spoke a verse:

 

(160.)

 

349.   Not ruddy am I; red cheeks,
ring-dight slender woman,
has your husband. No one
heeds my grievous wounds, though.
Pale I am with pangs of
pain, scatterer-thou-of-
gold, from deep wounds deadly
Danish arrows gave me.

 

Thereupon Thormóth got up to stand before the fire, and remained there for a while. Then the healer woman said to him, “You man, go outside and bring me the firewood that lies outside the door.” He went outside, brought in an armful of firewood, and threw it down on the floor. Then the healer woman looked at his face and said, “Terribly pale this man is. Why are you so pale?” Then Thormóth spoke this verse:

 

(161.)

 

350.   Wonders the woman, why so
wan the tree-of-combat.1
Few from wounds grow fair-hued:
Found me the flight of arrows.
The ice-cold iron, linen-
elm,2 flew through my middle.
Hard by my heart, think I,
hit me the baleful weapon.

 

Then the healer woman said, “Let me see your wounds and bandage them.” Then he sat down and cast off his clothes. And when she inspected his wounds she looked closely at the wound he had in his side. She noticed that there was an iron in it, but did not know which path it had taken. She had made a concoction in a stone kettle in which she had mashed leeks and other herbs and boiled them together, and that she gave the wounded men to eat. In that manner she tried to find out if they had wounds in vital parts, because she could smell the leek through a wound which went into the body cavity. She brought some of it to Thormóth and told him to eat it.

 

He replied, “Take it away! I am not porridge-sick.” Then she took a pair of pincers and tried to pull out the iron [head of the arrow], but it was stuck fast and would not budge. Also, it showed but little, the wound having swollen.

 

Then Thormóth said, “You cut in to reach the iron so that one can take hold of it with the pincers, then let me have them and let me pluck it out.” She did as he told her. Then Thormóth took the gold ring off his arm and gave it to the healer woman, telling her to do with it as she pleased. “There is good value in it,” he said. “King Óláf gave me the ring this morning.” Thereupon Thormóth took the pincers and pulled out the arrow. It had barbs on it, and there were fibers of his heart in it, some red and some white; and when he saw that he said, “Well has the king fed us. I am fat still about the roots of my heart.” Thereupon he leaned back and was dead. And this ends what we have to say about Thormóth.

 

Chapter 235. The Aftermath of the Battle

 

King Óláf fell on Wednesday the fourth Calends of August [July 29th]. 1 It was close to midday when the armies met, and early in the afternoon when the battle began. The king fell before high noon [three o’clock], and the darkness lasted from midday till high noon. Sigvat tells this about the end of the battle:

 

(162.)

 

351.   Loath I am, our liege’s
loss to bear, the time that—
cleft was his shield—o’ercome in
clash he was by foemen.
Of land and life reft Óláf
lawless hordes—were splintered
shields. Unsheltered, the fray he
shunned not; but Dag was laggard.

 

He recited also this verse:

 

(163.)

 

352.   Never before, of farmers
folk had seen so many
gathered—they did to death the
dear lord—nor of hersar,
seeing that such a king the
sea-steed-steerers laid low—
drenched in dew-of-wounds2 lay
doughty men—as was Óláf.

 

The farmers did not pilfer the dead, for right after the battle a dread fell upon many who had fought against the king. Yet they clung to their ill-will [against him] and decided between them that all those who had fallen on the king’s side should have no care given their bodies nor burial as befitted good men, and declared them all robbers and outlaws. But men of power who had kinsmen among the fallen paid no heed to this but brought their bodies to the churches and gave them burial.

 

Chapter 236. The King’s Blood Restores a Blind Man’s Vision

 

Thorgils Hálmuson and his son Grím went to the battlefield after it had grown dark. They took up the body of King Óláf and bore it to a certain small, empty hovel distant from their farmstead. They had lights and water along, removed the clothes from the corpse, washed it, then swathed it in linen cloths, deposited it there in the hut, and hid it under wood so that it could not be seen even if people came into the hut. Then they went home to their farm.

 

Both armies had been followed by many mendicants and poor folk who begged for food. Now on the evening following the battle many of them had remained behind there, and when night fell, they sought shelter in all houses, both large and small. One blind man is told of. He was poor, and his boy went with him, leading him. They went about the farm, looking for shelter, and came to this same deserted hut. The door was so low that they almost had to creep in. And when this blind man came inside he groped about on the floor to find a place where he might lie down. He had a hood on his head, and when he bent down it slid down over his face. With his hands he felt that there was a pool on the floor. He lifted his wet hand to raise up the hood, and when his fingers touched his eyes there was at once such an itching in his eyelids that he passed over the eyes themselves with his wet fingers. Then he backed out of the house, saying that everything in there was so wet one could not lie there. And when he came out of the house he could at once distinguish his hands, and then all the things near him that could be seen in the darkness of night. He straightway went back to the farm and into the sitting room, and there told all the people that he had regained his sight and could now see everything. Now many knew that he had been blind for a long time, for he had been there before and had gone about the settlements. His sight returned to him only then when he came out of a certain mean little house, “and all was wet inside there,” he said. “I got in it with my hands and with my wet hands rubbed my eyes.” He also told them where that house was. But the people who heard and saw this wondered greatly about this occurrence and talked about what might be in the house. But Farmer Thorgils and his son Grím believed they knew what the connection was. They greatly feared that enemies of the king might come and ransack the house. So they stole away, went to the hut, and moved the king’s body out into the pasture where they hid it. Then they returned home and slept during the night.

 

Chapter 237. Thorgils Hálmuson Hides the King’s Body from Thórir the Hound

 

On the fifth day [of the week, Thursday] Thórir the Hound came down the Vera Valley to Stiklarstathir, together with many troops. There was also a large part of the farmers’ army. At that time the battlefield was still being cleared. Men were moving the bodies of their friends and kinsmen and gave help to those whom they wanted to restore to health. But a great number had died since the battle had ended. Thórir the Hound went to the place where the king had fallen, looking for his body, but not finding it he inquired whether anyone could tell him what had become of it; but no one could tell him. Then he asked Farmer Thorgils if he knew where the king’s body was. Thorgils made this reply: “I was not in the battle, and I know little of what happened there. Many stories are current about it now. People say that King Óláf had been seen last night up at Staf together with a troop of men. But if he fell, your men probably hid his body in the woods or in stone piles.” And though Thórir thought he knew that the king had fallen, many were willing [to believe the opposite] and spread the rumor that the king probably escaped from the battle and that it might be but a little while before he gathered troops and fell upon them. So Thórir went to his ships and sailed through the fjord and out to sea. Then all the army of the farmers scattered, taking with them all the wounded men capable of being moved.

 

Chapter 238. Thorgils Brings the King’s Body to Nitharós

 

Thorgils Hálmuson and his son Grím had the mortal remains of King Óláf in their keeping, and they were greatly concerned how they should go about it that the enemies of the king should not get to mistreat the corpse; because they had heard the farmers say it would be advisable to burn the body of the king if it were found, or else to take it out to sea and drop it there. Both father and son had seen what seemed like a candle burning at night on the spot where the body of King Óláf had lain on the battlefield; and also, after they had hidden it, they saw a light always burning at night at the place where the king reposed. They were afraid that the enemies of the king might search for the body where it was hidden if they saw the signs. So they were anxious to remove the body to some place where it would be safe. They made a coffin, taking great pains to have it well made, and in it they deposited the body of the king. And afterwards they made another coffin which they filled with straw and stones to weigh as much as a man’s body and closed it carefully. Now when all of the troops of the farmers had left Stiklarstath, Thorgils made ready to depart [with the coffins]. He procured a large rowboat which he manned with seven or eight of his kinsmen or friends. They brought the body of the king on board in all secrecy, placing the coffin beneath the floorboards. The coffin which they had filled with stones they also had along, placing it where everyone could see it. Then they sailed through the fjord. They had a favorable breeze and in the evening as it began to grow dark they arrived in Nitharós and made fast at the royal pier.

 

Then Thorgils sent men into the town to tell Bishop Sigurth that they had come with the body of King Óláf. As soon as the bishop heard this he sent his men down to the pier. They fetched a rowboat and laid it alongside that of Thorgils, demanding to have the king’s body. Thorgils and his companions lifted up the coffin that lay on top of the floorboards and carried it over to the bishop’s boat. Thereupon his men rowed out into the fjord and there dropped the coffin overboard.

 

By that time it had become dark night. Then Thorgils and his friends rowed up the river to the end of the town and landed at a place called Saurhlith which is outside the town. They carried the coffin with the king’s body into a certain empty house standing above the other houses there. There they kept vigil during the night over the body. Thorgils went down to the town then. There he spoke with some men who had been among the king’s best friends. He asked them if they would take care of the king’s body, but no one dared to do that. Thereupon Thorgils and his companions moved the body [further] up the river and buried it in a sandbank there, then levelled the ground so that no one should see that anyone had been digging there. They were done with all this before dawn. Then they returned to their boat and at once rowed out of the river [into the fjord], then pursued their course till they were back again at Stiklarstathir.

 

Chapter 239. King Svein’s Harsh Laws Embitter the Norwegians

 

Svein, the son of King Knút and of Álfífa, the daughter of Earl Álfrim, had been appointed to rule Jómsborg in Wendland; but then there came to him the message of King Knút, his father, that he was to come to Denmark; moreover that then he was to proceed to Norway to rule that land, and that the title of king of Norway was to be conferred upon him. Thereupon Svein proceeded to Denmark with a great force. With him went Earl Harald and many other men of influence. This is mentioned by Thórarin Loftunga in the poem which he composed about Svein, the son of Álfífa, and which is called Glœlognskvitha:1

 

(164.)

 

353.   No one doubts
what dapper band
of Danes were
with the Dogling:2
first of all
came Earl Harald;
after him
every man’s son
following him
more fit than th’other.

 

Then Svein proceeded to Norway, accompanied by Álfífa, his mother; and he was accepted as king at every general assembly. He had arrived in Vík, coming from the east [south], at the time the battle of Stiklarstathir occurred and King Óláf fell. Svein did not stop in his journey till in the fall he arrived north in the Trondheim District. He was accepted there as king as he had been in other places.

 

King Svein instituted new laws in the land concerning many matters. They were patterned after the Danish laws, but some were much harsher. No one was to depart from the country except with the king’s leave; but if he left nevertheless, then his property was to revert to the king. And everyone who killed a person was to forfeit land and chattels. If a man was outlawed and an inheritance came to him, then this inheritance fell to the king. At Yuletide every farmer was to bring to the king a measure of malt for every hearth and also the ham of a three year old ox—that was called vinartoddi [pasture tax]—also, a pail of butter. And every housewife was to pay of rykkjartó—that is, of undressed linen [thread]—so much as could be grasped between thumb and the long finger. Farmers were in duty bound to construct all the houses the king desired to have on his estates. Seven men, including every [boy] five years old, were to equip one man for war duty and perform their share in the same proportion in the building and equipping of ships levied. Every man who rowed out to sea [for fishing] was to pay the king land-tax, from whatever place he started, to the amount of five fish. Every ship leaving the land was to reserve for the king’s [purposes] one space across the ship. Everyone travelling to Iceland was to pay land-dues, both Norwegians and Icelanders. Among these statutes was also this one that Danes were to have such weight in Norway that one Danish witness was to outweigh the witness of ten Norwegians.

 

Now when these laws were made known to the people there was immediate opposition and there arose grumbling as they met together. Those who had not participated in the campaign against King Óláf said, “Now you people from the inner reaches of the fjord are shown the friendship and reward of the Knytlings3 for having fought against King Óláf and deprived him of his country. Peace and better justice were promised you, but now you have oppression and servitude [from them], and in addition you have committed a great misdeed and villainy.”

 

It was not easy to contradict them, because all could see that they had taken ill advice. Yet people did not dare to make resistance against King Svein, chiefly because they had given their sons or other near kinsmen as hostages to King Knút, and also because they had no leader for such resistance. Soon people complained greatly of King Svein, though most blamed Álfífa for what irritated them. But now the truth came to be heard by many concerning King Óláf.

 

Chapter 240. King Óláf’s Sainthood Is Recognized

 

That winter there arose much talk among the people of Trondheim that King Óláf was in truth a saint and that many miracles had come to pass testifying to his sainthood. Many began to invoke King Óláf about matters of importance to them. Many were benefited by these prayers, some in their health, some in the furthering of their voyages or of other matters where help seemed needful.

 

Chapter 241. Einar Thambarskelfir Champions King Óláf’s Sanctity

 

Einar Thambarskelfir had returned home to his estates from the west in England and was enjoying the revenues which King Knút had bestowed upon him when they had met in Trondheim; and that was almost an earldom. Einar Thambarskelfir had not joined in the rebellion against King Óláf, and that he boasted of himself. Einar was mindful of the fact that Knút had promised him the earldom over Norway, and also that the king had not kept his promise. Einar was the first among men of influence to maintain the sanctity of King Óláf.

 

Chapter 242. Kálf Árnason Restores His Brothers to Health

 

Finn Árnason dwelled but a short time with Kálf at Egg because he was exceedingly put out by Kálf’s having been in the battle against King Óláf; and for that reason Finn reproached Kálf bitterly. Thorberg Árnason showed much more restraint in this matter than Finn; yet he too was eager to return home to his estate. Kálf provided his two brothers with a good man-of-war equipped with all tackle and other gear as well as with a good crew. So they returned to their estates. Árni Árnason lay for a long time laboring with his wounds, but recovered finally without being in any way a cripple. Later in winter he journeyed south to his estate. All of the brothers made their peace with King Svein and settled down in their homes.

 

Chapter 243. Bishop Sigurth Flees the Country

 

The summer after there was much talk about the sanctity of King Óláf, and [now] all this talk about the king took a different turn. There were many then who confirmed the sanctity of the king who had been his sworn enemies and had not at any time done him justice. Then they began to heap reproaches on those who had most urged them on in their hostility against the king. Much of that was blamed on Bishop Sigurth; and people showed such great hostility to him that he thought it wisest to leave the country and sail west to England and join King Knút. Thereupon the people of Trondheim sent messengers to the Uppland districts inviting Bishop Grímkel to come north to Trondheim. King Óláf had sent Bishop Grímkel back to Norway when he himself proceeded east to Gartharíki, and since that time Bishop Grímkel had lived in the Uppland District. When this message came to him, he at once made ready to go. A special reason for his going was that he believed there might be truth in what was said about the miracles and the sainthood of King Óláf.

 

Chapter 244. King Óláf’s Body Is Disinterred

 

Bishop Grímkel then set out to meet Einar Thambarskelfir. Einar received the bishop joyfully and they discussed many matters, and also the great events which had taken place in the land. They came to agree on all matters. Thereupon the bishop journeyed to the town, and there all the people received him well. He inquired carefully into the miracles told of King Óláf and learned only good reports about them.

 

Thereupon the bishop sent word to Thorgils and his son, Grím, requesting them to come to the town and meet with him. They did so at once and came to the bishop and told him of all the signs they had noted and also where they had deposited the body of the king. Thereupon the bishop sent word to Einar Thambarskelfir. He came to the town, and both then had speech with the king and Álfífa, requesting them to give permission to disinter the body of King Óláf. The king gave it and told the bishop to proceed with it as he pleased. There was at that time a great multitude of people in the town.

 

The bishop, Einar, and some men went to the place where the body of the king had been interred and had them spade up the ground for it. The coffin had by then about come to view. Many advised the bishop to have the king buried by the Church of Saint Clemens. Now when twelve months and five days had passed after the death of King Óláf, his holy remains were again disinterred. By that time the coffin had again emerged considerably out of the ground, and looked span-new as though it were but recently planed. Bishop Grímkel was present when the coffin of King Óláf was opened. A delicious odor met them. Then the bishop bared the countenance of the king, and its aspect had changed in nowise, and there was a ruddiness on his cheeks as though he had only recently fallen asleep. Those who had seen King Óláf when he fell now saw a great change in that his hair and nails had grown almost as much as they would have if he had been alive all the time since he fell. Then King Svein approached to view the body of King Óláf, and so did all the chieftains present.

 

Then Álfífa said, “Mighty little do bodies decompose when buried in sand. It would not be the case if he had lain in earth.” Then the bishop took a pair of shears and cut the king’s hair and trimmed his whiskers. He had had long whiskers as people in those days used to have.

 

Then the bishop said to the king and Álfífa, “Now the hair and the beard of the king are as they were when he died, but it had grown as much as you can see here cut off.”

 

Then Álfífa replied, “That hair would seem to me a holy relic only if fire does not burn it. We have often seen wholly preserved and undamaged the hair of persons who have lain in the ground longer than this man has.”

 

Thereupon the bishop had fire put into a censer, blessed it, and put incense on it. Then he laid King Óláf’s hair into the fire, and when all the incense was burned, the bishop took the hair out of the fire, and it was not burned. The bishop had the king and the other chieftains view it. Thereupon Álfífa bade them lay the hair into fire that had not been blessed. Then Einar Thambarskelfir bade her be silent and used hard language against her. So then, by the bishop’s pronouncement, the consent of the king, and the judgment of all the people, King Óláf was declared a true saint. Subsequently the body of the king was carried into Saint Clemens Church and set up in public view before the high altar. The coffin was covered with a costly fabric and canopied with velvet[?]. Right soon there occurred many kinds of miracles by the shrine of Saint Óláf.

 

image

 

Niðarós. From Íslenzk Fornrit, Vol. 28. Courtesy of Hið Íslenzka Fornritafélag, Reykjavík.

 

Chapter 245. Saint Óláf’s Miracles Are Sung by Thórarin Loftunga

 

On the sand flat where the body of King Óláf had been interred, a fine spring arose, and people obtained relief from their ailments by drinking its water. It was walled in, and its water has been safeguarded ever since. First a chapel was built there and an altar erected where the burial place of the king had been; but now Christ Church stands on that spot. When Archbishop Eystein built the large minster which stands there now he had its high altar erected on the very spot where the king’s grave had been. And on that spot stood also the high altar in the old Christ Church. It is said that Saint Óláf’s Church now stands where stood the shed in which the body of King Óláf reposed during the night. The rise up which the holy remains of the king were borne from the boat is now called Óláf’s Slope, and that is now in the middle of the town. The bishop tended the sanctuary of King Óláf, clipping his hair and nails, because both grew as they did when he was living in this world. As says the skald Sigvat:

 

(165.)

 

354.   Like on living men—I
lie not—much praise is due the
fearless men who his flag did
follow—Óláf’s hair grew.
Lasted the locks of him who
light gave to the eyes of
Valdamar who, view-less
vision gained in Garthar.1

 

Thórarin Loftunga composed the poem about Svein Álfífuson which is called Glœlognskvitha; and in it are these verses:

 

(166.)

 

355.   Now has the
high-born one gained
the throne in
Thrándheim’s folk-lands.
There fore’er
the atheling hopes
as liege-lord
the land to rule,

 

(167.)

 

356.   Where Óláf
erstwhile governed
ere he fared
to future life
and there was,
as wot we all,
set as saint
in sepulchre.

 

 

 

(168.)

 

357.   Had him there
in heavenly Kingdom
Harald’s son
with hardy deeds
won a realm

 

(169.)

 

358.   There where pure,
unputrified,
our lief liege
lies in his grave,
wondrously
as on one living
hair and nails
behold growing!

 

(170.)

 

359.   The choir bells
his coffin above
ring themselves
readily o’er him:
every day
all the people
hear the bells
above the king.

 

(171.)

 

360.   Over him
on the altar,
to Christ lief,
the candles burn.
Thus Óláf
ere he left us,
free of sins
had saved his soul.

 

(172.)

 

361.   Hosts do come
where the holy king
lies in state,
relief to gain.
Halt and blind,
they hither come
and hence go
hale and hearty.

 

(173.)

 

362.   Pray Óláf
to apportion you—
God’s saint he—
goodly Norway;
he will get
from God himself
for us all
all that is needful,

 

(174.)

 

363.   if made known
to the man of God
what your wants,
so he will grant them.

 

Thórarin Loftunga was in attendance with King Svein at the time, and saw and heard these great miracles, witnessing to the sanctity of King Óláf: that above his sanctuary one could hear sounds as though bells were rung by supernatural powers; and candles lit themselves above the altar, kindled by heavenly fire. And as Thórarin says, a host of halt and blind or otherwise ailing people came to the sanctuary of King Óláf, and departed from there hale and well. And though he says nothing else nor gives a close account there must have been an innumerable host who regained their health right from the beginning of the miracles wrought by Holy King Óláf. But the most important miracles of Saint Óláf which have occurred since have been written down and noted carefully.

 

Chapter 246. The Length of King Óláf’s Reign

 

Men who have kept close account say that Holy King Óláf was king of Norway for fifteen years after Earl Svein left the country, but that he assumed the royal title the winter before, when he was in the Uppland District. The skald Sigvat says this:

 

(175.)

 

364.   Open-handed Óláf
Uppland districts ruled for
fifteen years before he
fell in his patrimony.
What greater giver-of-rings hath
governed northern folk-lands?
Though shorter his life was shaped than
should have been his fortune.

 

According to Priest Ari the Learned, Holy King Óláf was thirty-five years old when he fell. He had fought twenty large battles. As says the skald Sigvat:

 

(176.)

 

365.   Some good men believed in God, we
gather; others did not1
folk-battles twenty fought the
folk-lord eager for combat.
Kings-men in Christ believing
called he to stand on right wing.
Would that God gave welcome
warm to Magnús’ father!

 

Now we have told a part of the saga of King Óláf, of some happenings which occurred whilst he ruled Norway, and also of his fall and how his sainthood became known. But now we must not neglect to tell what redounds to his greatest honor, and that is, of the miracles wrought by him; but of that will be written also later in this book.

 

Chapter 247. The Norwegians Resent the Tyranny of the Danes

 

King Svein, the son of Knút was ruler of Norway for several years. He was a child both in age and sense. During that time Álfífa, his mother, had the government of the country in her hand; and the Norwegians hated her greatly, both then and afterwards. The Danes showed great overbearing in Norway during these years, and the people of the country were much incensed about that. And when they talked about that among themselves, people from other parts of the country than the Trondheim districts blamed the people of Trondheim for having been the chief cause of Saint Óláf’s death and [for the fact] that Norwegians were subjected to such tyranny, when oppression and slavery were the lot of both the great and the humble and all the people; and they said that it behooved the Tronders to start a rebellion “to free us from this oppression.” Also it was the general opinion that they had at that time the greatest power in Norway because of their leaders and the great numbers of inhabitants. And when it came to the ears of the Tronders that their countrymen reproached them, they acknowledged the truth of [the reproach, and admitted] that they had committed a most ungodly deed in robbing King Óláf of both life and land, and also, that their luckless deed was being repaid with much evil.

 

The chieftains had meetings and discussed what was to be done; and in these deliberations Einar Thambarskelfir was the leader. The same was the case of Kálf Árnason, when he understood into what trap he had fallen through the instigation of King Knút: the promises he had made to Kálf were all broken. King Knút had promised Kálf an earldom and the rule over all Norway, and Kálf had been the leader in the battle against King Óláf and in depriving him of his land. [But now] Kálf had no higher rank than before, so he considered himself badly deceived, and so he came to an understanding with his brothers Finn, Thorberg, and Árni, and good relations were re-established between them.

 

Chapter 248. Kálf Árnason Refuses to Join King Svein’s Fleet

 

When Svein had been king for three years the news came to Norway that west across the sea a band was gathering whose leader was a certain Tryggvi. He called himself a son of Óláf Tryggvason and Gytha the English woman. 1 Now when King Svein learned that a foreign army might invade the land he summoned a force from the northern part of the country and most of the landed-men of the Trondheim District joined him. Einar Thambarskelfir remained at home and refused to join King Svein. But when the message came to Kálf at Eggja, to wit that he was to join the king’s levy, he took a ship of twenty rowers’ benches which he owned, went on board of it with his housecarls in a great hurry and steered through the fjord, nor waited for King Svein. Then Kálf sailed south to Mœr and did not stop till he arrived south at Giski where his brother Thor-berg lived. Thereafter all of the brothers, the sons of Árni, arranged for a meeting and took counsel with one another. Then Kálf returned north. But when he came to Frekeyar Sound there lay before him the fleet of King Svein; and as Kálf came rowing north in the sound they hailed one another. The king’s men called upon Kálf to lay to and join the king and help him defend his land. Kálf answered, “I have done enough if not too much, fighting against my countrymen in order to help the Knytlings gain the kingdom.” Kálf and his men rowed north on their way, and continued until he came home to Eggja. None of the sons of Árni joined King Svein’s levy. King Svein steered south along the land with his fleet; but when he learned that no fleet had arrived from the west he continued south to Rogaland and all the way to Agthir, because his men believed that Tryggvi might intend to sail first to Vík because there his forbears had lived and he had most support. And [indeed] there he had much backing from kinsmen.

 

Chapter 249. The Pretender Tryggvi Is Defeated and Slain

 

Coming from the west, King Tryggvi arrived with his fleet in Horthaland. Then he learned that King Svein had sailed south, whereupon he also sailed south to Rogaland. But when King Svein heard of Tryggvi’s whereabouts after arriving from the west, he turned back north with his fleet, and the hostile forces met in the Sóknar Sound on the landward side of the Island of Bókn, not far from where Erling Skjálgsson had fallen, and a great and violent battle took place. It is told that Tryggvi hurled javelins with both hands at the same time. He said, “Thus did my father teach me to say mass.” His enemies have said that most likely he was the son of a priest, but he himself boasted that he looked more like King Óláf Tryggvason. Tryggvi was indeed a most resourceful man. In this battle he fell, together with many of his force. Some escaped by flight, others asked for quarter. The poem on him, called Tryggvaflokkr,1 has it thus:

 

(177.)

 

366.   For fame eager, forth fared
from the north King Tryggvi,
whilst Svein from the south forth
sailed to join the battle.
From fray not far was I.
Fast they raised their banners.
Swiftly then—rang sword ’gainst
sword—began the bloodshed.

 

This battle is mentioned in the poem of praise composed about King Svein:2

 

(178.)

 

367.   That Sunday morning, maiden,
much unlike it was to
days when at wassail women
wait on men with ale-drink:
when Svein the sailors bade his
sloops of war to fasten
by their bows, with carrion
battening hungry ravens.

 

King Svein continued to rule the country after this battle. A time of peace followed. During the ensuing winter King Svein resided in the south of the land.

 

Chapter 250. Kálf Árnason Refuses Tribute to King Knút

 

Einar Thambarskelfir and Kálf Árnason conferred that winter and took counsel together, meeting in Kaupang. About that time there arrived a messenger from King Knút to Kálf Árnason, demanding that Kálf should send him three dozens of [battle-]axes of prime quality. Kálf made this answer, “No axes shall I send to King Knút. Tell him I shall let his son Svein have enough axes so he will not think he is short of them.”

 

Chapter 251. Einar Thambarskelfir and Kálf Árnason Offer Magnús the Crown

 

Early in the spring Einar Thambarskelfir and Kálf Árnason set out with a large company of men picked from the best in all the Trondheim districts. They proceeded to Jamtaland in spring, across the Keel, from there to Helsingjaland, and arrived in Sweden. There they procured ships and in summer sailed to Gartharíki, arriving in fall at Aldeig-juborg. From there they sent messengers to Hólmgarth and King Jarizleif with the message that they desired Magnús, the son of Saint Óláf to go with them and accept their company to Norway, and that there they would give him support so that he could win back his patrimony and be made king of the country. Now when this message reached King Jarizleif he took counsel with the queen and his other chieftains. They agreed upon sending word to the Norwegians inviting them to come and meet with King Jarizleif and Magnús. They were given safe-conduct for the journey. And when they arrived in Hólmgarth it was agreed between them that the Norwegians who had come there were to swear loyalty to Magnús and become his followers; and they confirmed this with the oaths of Kálf and all those who had fought against King Óláf at Stiklarstathir. [On his part] Magnús gave his plighted faith offering full reconciliation, and confirmed with his oath that if he obtained the kingship and the rule of Norway he would be faithful and true to them. He was to become the foster son of Kálf Árnason, and Kálf [on his part] was to be in duty bound to do all that for Magnús which he believed would make his realm greater and more independent than before.

 

image

 

The Saga of Magnús the Good

 

Chapter 1. Magnús Óláfsson Arrives in Sweden

 

King Magnús Óláfsson started on his journey to the west after Yule, first from Hólmgarth to Aldeigjuborg. He and his men began to get their ships ready when the ice broke up in spring. Arnór Jarlaskáld mentions this in his Magnússdrápa:1

 

(1.)

 

368.   Of the atheling’s early
outfitting shall I speak now—
give ye heed, ye gold-ring
givers—for I was witness.
Eleven years had not lived the
lordling noble, when out of
Russia he made ready
red-shielded war-galleons.

 

In spring King Magnús sailed west to Sweden. Thus says Arnór:

 

(2.)

 

369.   Summoned the sword-reddener,
sage though young, his forces.
Weaponed, briskly went the
warrior’s host to the row-locks.
From the east, o’er ocean,
oaken keels pushed westward.
Blustering winds bore the
breaker-of-rings to Sigtúna.

 

We learn here that King Magnús, leaving Russia, first sailed west to Sweden and to Sigtúna. At that time Emund Óláfsson was the king of Sweden. And there lived also Queen Ástríth, the widow of Holy King Óláf. She welcomed her stepson Magnús most heartily, and immediately had a numerous assembly summoned at a place called Hangrar.2 At this assembly Queen Ástríth spoke as follows: “With us here is the son of Holy King Óláf, whose name is Magnús. He now plans to proceed to Norway to recover his patrimony. I have great good reason to support him in this endeavor, for he is my stepson, as all know, both Swedes and Norwegians. I shall not be sparing of anything which he may need for his aid, so that his force may become as great as possible. I shall not be sparing of either the followers I have or of my goods. So all who are willing to join him in his expedition shall be assured of my whole-hearted friendship. I shall also let it be known herewith that I shall join him in this expedition. Thus all can see that I shall not be sparing for his support of any other thing which I am able to supply him with.” And she continued thus eloquently and at length.

 

But when she ceased, many made answer and said that the Swedes who had followed King Óláf, his father, to Norway had reaped little honor therefrom—“nor is there expectation of greater success with this king,” they said. “And for this reason men are not very willing to go on this expedition.”

 

Ástríth made this answer: “All those who want to be called men of mettle will not be given pause by such considerations. But [on the contrary], if anyone lost a kinsman in following Holy King Óláf or was wounded himself, then it shows manhood to proceed to Norway now and avenge that.”

 

And so successful was Ástríth, what with her speech and her active support of Magnús, that a great host was willing to join Ástríth in accompanying him to Norway. This is noted by the skald Sigvat:

 

(3.)

 

370.   Owe I to open-handed
Óláf’s daughter, her who
wedded was to Norway’s
warlike king, my praises.
A countless host on Hangrar
heath of Swedes assembled,
eastward, to hear Ástríth
Óláf’s son’s cause pleading.

 

(4.)

 

371.   More whole-hearted counsel
hardly could she have given,
mailed Swedes among, than if
Magnús were her own son.
Harald’s3 whole dominion
her, the Swedish princess—
most beside Christ the mighty—
Magnús had to thank for.

 

(5.)

 

372.   Due to Ástríth’s doughty,
dreadless words it is that
Magnús o’er lands and lieges
lords it in high favor.
Women few with well-turned
words have ever thus—I
praise her pluck and shrewdness—
profited their stepsons.

 

The skald Thjóthólf4 has this to say in his poem about Magnús:

 

(6.)

 

373.   Out you shoved a ship, fast—
shuddered the boat’s sail-yards—
seaward driven by sixty
sweeps strong-manned, King Magnús.
Above you, stormy blasts did
bend the shaken mast-head.
Striped sail loyal liegemen
lowered at Sigtúna.

 

Chapter 2. Magnús Arrives in Trondheim and Is Received Cordially

 

Magnús Óláfsson started from Sigtúna and had then a large force which the Swedes had gotten together for him. On foot they traversed Sweden proper and then journeyed to Helsingjaland. Thus says Arnór Jarlaskáld:1

 

(7.)

 

374.   Bucklers red then bor’st thou, Ygg-of-
battle, into Swedish hamlets,
and the franklins of the folk-land
flocked to thee to aid thy progress.
From the east there thronged the thingmen
thither, with gilded spears and shields white—
reddener-of-ravenous-wolves’-tongues—
rallying, chosen for the sword-thing.2

 

From there, Magnús Óláfsson journeyed through Jamtaland and across the Keel and down to Trondheim; and immediately all the inhabitants gave him cordial reception. But the followers of King Svein, as soon as they learned that Magnús, the son of King Óláf, had entered that part of the land, all fled in every direction and sought safety. No resistance was shown there to Magnús. King Svein had his residence in the south. As says Arnór Jarla-skáld:

 

(8.)

 

375.   Westward cam’st thou, awing craven
caitiff foemen with the highest
helm of terror,3 into Trondheim’s
traitor shires, thou wound-birds’4-feeder;
whilst approaching doom and downfall
dogged the enemy host from Denmark:
for their wretched lives they fearing
fled before the son of Óláf.

 

Chapter 3. The Eyra Assembly Accepts Magnús as King

 

Magnús Óláfsson and his army marched to Kaupang.1 There he got a friendly reception. Then he had the Eyra Assembly summoned. And when the farmers arrived at the assembly, Magnús was accepted as king over all the land as far as King Óláf, his father, had had sway. Thereupon King Magnús selected a bodyguard and appointed landed-men. Soon afterwards in the fall King Magnús levied men and ships round about the Trondheim District, and he met a good response. Thereupon he sailed south with his fleet.

 

Chapter 4. King Svein Decides to Sail to Denmark

 

King Svein, the son of Álfífa, was in South Horthaland when he learned about this news of war. He had the war-arrows carried at once in all directions, summoning all the farmers to him with the message that there should be a general levy of men and ships to defend the land with him. All those in his immediate neighborhood gathered about him. Thereupon the king had an assembly and addressed the farmers, saying that he would advance against King Magnús and do battle with him if the farmers would follow him. The king spoke rather briefly. To this the farmers made rather lukewarm response. Then the Danish chieftains who were with the king spoke at length and cleverly; but the farmers made bold to speak against them. Many said they would follow King Svein and join him in battle, but some refused to. Some said nothing; some said they would join King Magnús as soon as they could.

 

Thereupon King Svein said, “It appears to me that few farmers have come here of those whom we summoned. But those farmers who are here tell us themselves that they mean to follow King Magnús. So it seems they will be as helpful to me as those who say nothing. But as to those who say they will follow us, probably every other man, or more, will not be dependable if we come to do battle against King Magnús. My advice is that we do not depend on the loyalty of these farmers, but rather go where all the people are proven and true to us. There we have a sufficient force to win and hold this land.”

 

As soon as the king had made this decision all his men concurred with him. They turned their ships about and hoisted their sails. Then King Svein sailed east [and south] along the land, nor stopped till he came to Denmark. There he was well received. And when he met his brother Hortha-Knút, the latter offered to share his kingdom in Denmark with him, and that King Svein accepted.

 

Chapter 5. King Knút the Powerful Dies in England

 

In the fall King Magnús journeyed east to the very boundary of the land, and was accepted as king everywhere; and all the people were glad that Magnús had become king. That same fall Knút the Powerful died in England, on the thirteenth of November. He was buried in Winchester. He had then been king of Denmark for twenty-seven years, and over Norway too, for seven years. Then Harald, the son of Knút, became king of England. That same winter Svein Álfífuson died in Denmark. Thjóthólf spoke this verse about King Magnús:

 

(9.)

 

376.   Swedish forests you fared o’er,
feeder of hungry eagles.
With you wended, ruler,
warrior-hosts to Norway.
Fled Svein; and deserted
sithen by all, that learned I,
Denmark-ward had drifted,
daunted, the son of Álfífa.

 

Bjarni Gullbrárskáld composed this verse about Kálf Árnason:

 

(10.)

 

377.   Great the help you gave, to
Gain for each his kingdom.
Right I reck it for Svein to
rule in Denmark only.
Kálf, through you the king did
come into his own; and
you it was who, warrior,
won Magnús his title.

 

King Magnús ruled that winter in Norway, and Hortha-Knút in Denmark.

 

Chapter 6. Peace Is Concluded between Magnús and Hortha-Knút

 

In the spring following both of the kings levied men and ships for war, and it was reported that they would fight it out near the [Gaut Elf] River. But when both forces were preparing to do battle, the landed-men in either army sent messengers to kinsmen and friends to find out if peace could not be concluded between the kings. And because both kings were still young and of childish mind, the influential men who had been chosen therefore in either land were in charge of the government; and it came to this that a peace meeting was arranged for the kings. Thereupon they met personally, and terms of peace were discussed. And the covenant was made that the kings swore brotherhood by mutual oath, and concluded peace between them for so long as either lived; and if one of them died without a male heir, the one who survived was to take over his land and subjects. Twelve men, the noblest in either land, confirmed with their oaths that this peace was to be kept the while any one of them lived. Thereupon the kings parted, and both returned to their kingdoms; and this peace was kept the while both lived.

 

Chapter 7. Ástríth and Álfhild Have a Falling Out

 

Queen Ástríth, who had been married to King Óláf the Saint, came to Norway with King Magnús, her stepson, and resided with him in excellent agreement, as was proper. Then also Álfhild, King Magnús’ mother, joined his court. The king immediately received her with the greatest affection and established her in worthy fashion. But as is the case with many when they obtain power, Álfhild’s presumption grew apace, so that she was greatly vexed that Queen Ástríth was honored somewhat more than she, both in their seating and the services rendered them. Álfhild wanted to sit near to the king, but Ástríth called her her servant-woman, as had been the case when Ástríth was queen in Norway, at the time when King Óláf ruled the country, and would under no condition sit with Álfhild. [Indeed] they would not be accommodated in the same lodgings.

 

image

 

Magnús the Good meets Hortha-Knút.

 

Sigvat the Skald, had made pilgrimage to Rome the time the battle of Stiklarstathir took place. But on his journey north he learned of the fall of King Óláf, and that was a great sorrow for him. Then he spoke this verse:

 

(11.)

 

378.   On the Mont1 I stood, remembering
many targes sundered,
broad ones, and long byrnies,
above the keep, at sunrise:
in his prime the prince wielded
power in all of Norway;
near the throne did Thórth2 stand
then—to mind I called it.

 

One day Sigvat came through a hamlet and heard a certain farmer wailing loudly because he had lost his wife by death. He beat his breast and rent his clothes, weeping much and saying that he would gladly die. Sigvat spoke this verse:

 

(12.)

 

379.   His dear wife dying, he would
die too, vowed in sadness
a peasant: too high a price to
pay for love departed;
but bloody tears will be weeping—
worse by far our loss is—
unfleeing men when fallen they
find their king in battle.

 

Chapter 8. Sigvat Sorrows over King Óláf’s Death

 

Sigvat returned to Norway. He had a home and children in the Trondheim District. He sailed north along the land on a merchant ship. And when they were anchored in the Hillar Sound1 they saw many ravens flying past. Sigvat spoke this verse:

 

(13.)

 

380.   Harborward now hie them
hungry ravens, where ere
floated the fair-shielded2
fleet of noble Óláf.
Screaming hie to Hillar
hither greedy eagles
many a morning, whom oft
Magnús’ father had sated.

 

But when Sigvat had come north to Kaupang he encountered King Svein, and the king invited him to join his court, because Sigvat before had been with Knút the Powerful, King Svein’s father. Sigvat said he wished to go to his homestead. One day Sigvat was walking on the Street and saw the king’s men disporting themselves at games. Then Sigvat spoke a verse:

 

 

 

(14.)

 

381.   Pale as ashes, I promptly
passed from where the ruler’s
spearmen in games sprightly
sported—my breast fills sorrow:
came to mind how the keen-eyed
king oft played, aforetime,
the glorious one, games on
ground of his forefathers.

 

Thereupon he repaired to his homestead. He heard many reproach him, saying that he had fled from King Óláf. Sigvat spoke this verse:

 

(15.)

 

382.   May cast me Holy Christ in
quenchless fires of hell-pain,
the all-seeing, if I from
Óláf fled: I am guiltless.
Witnesses have I like water.
Went I to Rome as palmer,
amends to make for my
many sins—why deny it?

 

Sigvat did not like it at home. One day he walked outside and spoke this verse:

 

(16.)

 

383.   Smiled, methought, the sloping
sides of hills in Norway—
close to him the king e’er
kept me—when Óláf lived still:
gloomier now the grey fells—
grief besets me—with him
I sailed the seas in my time—
since his face shone on me.

 

At the beginning of winter Sigvat journeyed east over the Keel to Jamta-land and from there to Helsingjaland, and finally to Sweden. He straightway repaired to Queen Ástríth and remained with her for a long time, enjoying her favor. He also stayed with King Onund, her brother, and received from him ten marks of burnt [silver]. So we are told in his Knúts drápa.3 Sigvat often asked merchants who had dealings with Hólmgarth what they could tell him about Magnús Óláfsson. He spoke this verse:

 

(17.)

 

384.   Once more would I—nor are
wasted your words, often
praising high the princeling—
ply you with my questions:
little ask I, though littlest
love-birds—but I doubt not
the king’s sop craves now home to
come—oft fare between us.