Chapter 25. Magnús Has Custody of the Reliques of Saint Óláf

 

King Magnús and King Harald both ruled Norway in the winter following their agreement, and both had their own bodyguards. During the winter they went about the district of Uppland on their journeys of state, sometimes together, sometimes separately. They progressed as far as the district of Trondheim and the town of Nitharós. King Magnús had had custody of the reliques of Saint Óláf ever since his return to Norway. He had cut Saint Óláf’s hair and clipped his nails every twelve months, and kept the key to the shrine. Many kinds of miracles happened at that time at the shrine of King Óláf.

 

Soon there came some rifts in the concord of the two kings; and many were so malicious as to sow ill-will between them.

 

Chapter 26. Svein Takes the Royal Tithes in Denmark

 

Svein Úlfsson lay asleep when Harald had absconded. Thereafter, Svein inquired carefully about Harald’s actions. And when he learned that Harald and Magnús had come to an agreement and had one army in common, he proceeded with his fleet east past the coast of Scania, and remained there till he learned, in winter, that both Magnús and Harald with their forces had proceeded north to Norway. Thereupon Svein sailed with his fleet south [west] to Denmark and during that winter took in all royal tithes there.

 

Chapter 27. Magnús Asserts His Rights to the King’s Berth

 

When spring approached, King Magnús and King Harald levied men and ships for war. It happened one time that both kings one night lay in the same harbor; but the day after, Harald got ready to sail first and proceeded at once. In the evening he anchored in the place where King Magnús and his ships had intended to anchor that night. Harald anchored his vessel in the king’s berth and pitched his tent there. King Magnús got a later start and arrived at the harbor where Harald and his men had already pitched their tents. They saw that Harald had anchored in the king’s berth and that he meant to remain there. But when King Magnús’ crew had lowered their sail, King Magnús said, “Let men sit down by the gunwales and take to their oars. Let others get out their weapons and arm themselves. And if they will not move we shall fight.”

 

But when King Harald saw that King Magnús meant to do battle with him, he ordered his men, “Cut the cables and move the ships out of their berths. Our kinsman Magnús is furious.” And so they did, and rowed their ships out of the king’s berth. Then King Magnús moved his ships into the king’s berth; and when both parties had made their arrangements, King Harald with a few men went aboard King Magnús’ ship. The king welcomed him cordially.

 

Then King Harald said, “I had thought that we had come to be friends; but a while back I wondered if you would have it that way. But there is truth in the saying that ‘hasty is youth.’ I shall not consider this as anything but a childish prank.”

 

Then King Magnús replied, “It was a family trait, not a childish deed, when I bore in mind what I gave and what I withheld. If this little matter had been taken from me without my consent, there would soon be another. But we mean to stick to all agreements we have made; and the same we expect from you, just as we have settled matters between us.”

 

Then answered King Harald, “It is also an old custom for the wiser one to yield—” and went back to his ship.

 

In such conflicts between the kings it was seen that it was difficult for them to observe moderation. King Magnús’ followers held that he was in the right; but unreasonable men thought that Harald had been slighted. But as to King Harald’s henchmen, it was their opinion that there were no two ways about it—that King Magnús should occupy the king’s berth if both arrived at the same time, but that Harald was not obliged to move out of the king’s berth if he came there first; and they maintained that Harald had acted wisely and well. But those who wanted to put a worse interpretation on it said that King Magnús wanted to break their agreement and that he had done King Harald a wrong and insulted him.

 

From such dissensions there soon arose the talk of unwise men which finally brought about discord between the two kings. Then many things occurred about which the kings each had his own opinion; though little is written about that here.

 

Chapter 28. King Magnús Dies and Gives Svein Denmark

 

With that fleet King Magnús and King Harald sailed south to Denmark. And when Svein was informed of that, he fled east to Scania. Both King Magnús and King Harald stayed in Denmark for a long time that summer and brought all the land under their sway. They were in Jutland in the fall.

 

One night, when King Magnús lay in his bed he dreamed that he was in the presence of his father, Holy King Óláf, and that he spoke to him, “Which of these two would you choose, my son: to go with me now or to become the most powerful of all kings and live long and do such misdeeds as you could atone for hardly or not at all?”

 

King Magnús dreamed that he answered, “I would want you to choose for me.”

 

Then he thought the king replied, “In that case you shall go with me.”

 

King Magnús told his men this dream. And a short while after he fell sick and took to his bed at a place called Súthathorpe. And when he was near death he sent his brother Thórir to Svein Úlfsson, with the message that he should help Thórir whenever he needed it. And also, that King Magnús gave Svein the Danish realm after his death, saying that it was proper that Harald ruled over Norway and Svein over Denmark. Thereupon King Magnús the Good died, and was sorrowed for by all the people. As Odd Kíkinaskáld says:

 

(99.)

 

466.   Men shed many tears when
Magnús—heavy that sorrow—
to grave was borne—gold he
gave a plenty to lieges.
Housecarls their tears hardly
held back, grieving sorely;
downcast, o’er their dauntless
dealer-of-gold they sorrowed.

 

Chapter 29. Harald Is Proclaimed King over all Norway

 

After these events King Harald called an assembly of his army and told them of his intention to proceed with them to the Vebjorg Assembly and there let himself be proclaimed king of the Danish realm and then subdue the land. He claimed Denmark to be his inheritance after his kinsman King Magnús as well as Norway, and asked his army to support him, saying that then Norwegians would for all times be the masters of the Danes.

 

Thereupon Einar Thambarskelfir answered and said that it was his duty to give burial to King Magnús, his foster son, and bring him to his father, King Óláf, rather than to fight in foreign parts and be bent on acquiring another king’s land and property, and he concluded by saying that he preferred to follow King Magnús in death rather than any other king in life. Thereupon he had King Magnús’ body prepared honorably for burial so that one might see the funeral arrangements on board the royal vessel.

 

Thereupon all Thronders and Norwegians prepared to proceed homeward with the body of King Magnús, and the army broke up. Then King Harald considered it wisest to return to Norway with all his army. And as soon as he arrived there he met with the people at assemblies and had himself proclaimed king over all the land. And thus he proceeded all the way west from Vík, so that he was acknowledged as king in every district of Norway.

 

Chapter 30. Of King Magnús’ Appearance and Character

 

Einar Thambarskelfir proceeded with the body of King Magnús, followed by the Thronders in the army, and brought it to Nitharós, where he was buried in the Church of Saint Clement. There was kept the shrine of Holy King Óláf. King Magnús was of middle height, with regular features and light complexion. He had light blond hair, was well-spoken and quick to make up his mind, was of noble character, most generous, a great warrior, and most valorous. He was most popular as a king, both friends and enemies praising him.

 

Chapter 31. Svein Is Acknowledged as King of Denmark

 

Svein Úlfsson sojourned in Scania that fall, and was preparing to proceed east to Sweden, intending to give up the royal title he had assumed in Denmark. But when he was about to mount his horse, some men came riding up to him with tidings—first, that King Magnús Óláfsson had died and, also, that all the Norwegian army had left Denmark. Then Svein quickly answered and said, “Swear I by God that never after shall I flee from Denmark whilst I live.” Thereupon he mounted his horse and rode south in Scania. Then a great host joined him straightway. That same winter he took possession of all the Danish realm, and all Danes acknowledged him as their king. Thórir, King Magnús’ brother, came to Svein that fall with the message of King Magnús as written above. Svein received him well, and Thórir dwelled a long time with him in high favor.

 

Chapter 32. King Harald Raids in Denmark

 

After the death of King Magnús Óláfsson, King Harald Sigurtharson assumed kingship over all of Norway. But when he had ruled over it one winter, and spring came, he summoned forces for war from the whole country, half a levy of men and ships, and sailed south to Jutland. There he harried and burned far and wide in the summer and anchored in the Gothnarfjord.1 At that time King Harald composed this verse:

 

(100.)

 

467.   At anchor we lie—while lulls the
linen-goddess2 her husband,
the gait-fair-Gerth2 with songs—in
Gothnarfjord in our dragons.

 

Then he challenged Thjóthólf the Skald to compose one to match this. He spoke this verse:

 

(101.)

 

468.   Next summer further southward—
say I truly—shall we
cast our anchor and let
iron-nose3 hold the sea-steed.

 

And Bolverk in his drápa also mentions that Harald sailed to Denmark in the summer following the death of King Magnús:

 

(102.)

 

469.   A levy from all the lands you—
lapped the brine your mere-ships,
furrowed the main your fair-decked
fleet—craved the year after.
Fair-dight rode on darkling
deep the sea-steed, booty-
laden, near the land—ill
luck befell the Danes then.

 

Then they burned down the farm of Thorkel Geysa. He was a great chieftain. Then his daughters were led down to the ships bound. The winter before they had scoffed much about King Harald’s intending to sail to Denmark with his fleet. They had fashioned anchors out of cheese and said that anchors such as that might well be able to hold fast the ships of the king of Norway. Then this verse was spoken:

 

(103.)

 

470.   Made the Danish maidens—
much that angered Harald—
anchor-rings and other
outfit of soft whey-cheese.
This morn, though, see maidens
many—no laughing matter
that!—hard hooks of iron
hold the ruler’s vessels.

 

It is told that the lookout man who had seen the fleet of King Harald said to the daughters of Thorkel Geysa, “You daughters of Geysa said Harald would not come to Denmark.”

 

Dótta answered, “That was yesterday.”

 

Thorkel ransomed his daughters with an immense amount of money. As says Grani:4

 

(104.)

 

471.   Left the ruthless ruler
rarely dry the eyes of
hapless maidens hid in
Horn Forest’s great thickets.
Down King Harald drove the
Danish foe to the seashore.
Dótta’s father forthwith
for her paid huge ransom.

 

All that summer King Harald harried in Denmark, taking immense booty, but did not stay there for good, and in the fall returned to Norway, where he resided during the winter.

 

Chapter 33. King Harald Marries Thóra

 

King Harald married Thóra, the daughter of Thorberg Árnason, the winter after King Magnús the Good died. They had two sons. The older was called Magnús, the other Óláf. King Harald had two daughters with Queen Ellisif. The one was called Máría, the other, Ingigerth. The spring following the expedition we just told of, King Harald summoned a levy of men and ships and in the summer sailed to Denmark where he harried, one year after another. As says the skald Stúf:

 

(105.)

 

472.   We hear that Falster was harried.
Haunted were people with terror.
Fed were wolves with fallen.
Feared the Danes each summer.

 

Chapter 34. King Harald Harries in Denmark

 

King Svein ruled over the entire Danish realm after King Magnús died. He kept the peace during the winter, but in summer he mustered his forces and vowed to sail north to Norway with the Danish fleet and do as much damage there as Harald had done in Denmark. One winter King Svein challenged King Harald to meet him the following summer in the [Gaut Elf] River and there fight it out or else come to an agreement. Both of them had outfitted their ships all that winter and summoned a half levy of men and ships by the following summer.

 

That summer, Thorleik the Fair came from Iceland and began to compose a poem about King Svein Úlfsson.1 When he had arrived in northern Norway he learned that King Harald had sailed south to the river to fight King Svein. Then Thorleik spoke this verse:

 

(106.)

 

473.   Before long, belike, the
levy of In-Thronders2
on the main will meet a
martial king in battle.
There, who life or land shall
lose, almighty Godhead—
Svein distrusts oaths sworn and
seldom kept—will settle.

 

And still further:

 

(107.)

 

474.   In wrath he who with red shield3
roamed oft foreign lands, now
brings on Buthli’s-pathways4
broad warships from northland.
But the beauteous ships of
battle-tested Svein, with
gilded prows and painted
planks advance from southward.

 

King Harald with his fleet came to the place agreed on. Then he learned that King Svein and his fleet were in the south, off the coast of Seeland. So King Harald divided his force and let most of the yeoman army return; and he himself, with his bodyguard, his stewards, picked men, and those of the yeomen who lived [in Norway] nearest to Denmark, sailed on. They sailed south to Jutland, south of the Skaw, then south past Thjóth,5 harrying wherever they came. As says the skald Stúf:

 

(108.)

 

475.   Fled those in Thjóth Shire the
thane’s oncoming straightway.
Stout-hearted, he aimed highly.
Hereafter dwell with Jesus.6

 

They sailed all the way south to the town of Heithabýr, took it by storm, and burned it. Then men in King Harald’s forces composed this verse:

 

(109.)

 

476.   Burned down was at both ends—
bold methinks this deed was—
by Harald’s valiant henchmen
Heithabýr altogether.
Dire damage to Svein we’ll
do; before dawn was I—
high flames out of houses
whirled—in the town’s outskirts.

 

This is mentioned also by Thorleik in his flokk, composed when he learned that no battle had taken place by the river:

 

(110.)

 

477.   How that to Heithabýr the
hate-filled king then travelled,
that, he who heard not, needs to
have his shipmates tell him—
the time when, to no purpose,
toward King Svein’s borough
Harald headed west—ah,
had it never been thus!

 

Chapter 35. King Svein Pursues Harald’s Fleet

 

Then Harald sailed north with sixty ships, of which most were large and loaded down with the booty they had taken that summer. But when they sailed north past Thjóth, King Svein came down to the coast with a great force and challenged King Harald to do battle on land. King Harald had an army smaller by half than Svein. Yet he challenged King Svein to do battle with him on the sea. As says Thorleik the Fair:

 

image

 

When it dawns they see the Danish fleet.

 

 

 

(111.)

 

478.   Bade he, on earth who born was
best, noble King Svein, his
lordly lieges, in fray on
land their shields to redden.
But fearless Harald fain would
fight on his sail-horses
if the crafty king would
keep him from his own land.

 

Then Harald sailed north past the Skaw. There they got contrary winds and they lay to in the lee of Hlésey Island and remained there during the night. Then there was a heavy mist. But when morning came and the sun rose, it looked on the opposite side as though fires were burning on the sea. That was told King Harald. And when he saw it he said straightway, “Cast the tent coverings off the ships and let men take to the oars. Most likely the Danish fleet is approaching us. The fog probably has lifted over there and the sun is shining on the dragon heads of theirs which are gilt.” And it was as Harald said: there was Svein, the king of the Danes, with an overwhelming fleet. Then both parties rowed with all their might. The Danes had faster-rowing vessels, whereas the ships of the Norwegians were both water-logged and very deep in the water, so that the distance between them grew less. Then Harald said that would not do.

 

King Harald’s dragon ship went slowest of them all. Then King Harald gave orders to throw pieces of wood overboard and lay clothes and valuable things on them. The weather was so calm that all these drifted with the current. But when the Danes saw their property floating on the sea, those who were foremost steered toward it, thinking it easier to gather up things floating than to go for them on board the Norwegian ships, and so the pursuit lagged. But when King Svein caught up with them with his ship he urged them on and said it was a big shame that so large a fleet as theirs should not overtake the enemy when they had so few ships, and overpower them.

 

Thereupon the Danes took to rowing harder again. But when King Harald saw that the Danish ships were gaining on them, he bade his men to lighten the ships by throwing overboard malt and wheat and bacon, and to jettison their drinks, and that helped for a while. Thereupon King Harald ordered bulwarks and the casks and barrels which were empty to be thrown overboard, together with captives. And when all this drifted on the sea, King Svein gave command to rescue the men; and so they did, and with that the distance between them became greater. Thereupon the Danes gave up the pursuit, and the Norwegians went their way. As says Thorleik the Fair:

 

(112.)

 

479.   Heard I have, on ship’s-road
how that Northmen were by
Svein pursued—how nathless
slipped away sly Harald.
Scattered, as they ’scaped, on
squally Jutland waters—
laden ships they lost—was
loot they took in Denmark.

 

King Svein returned with his fleet and anchored under the lee of Hlésey Island. There they found seven Norwegian ships. They were manned by men levied by Harald—all farmers. But when King Svein bore down upon them they asked quarter, offering goods in return. As says Thorleik the Fair:

 

(113.)

 

480.   Eagerly for quarter asked the
atheling’s confederates:
blenching, the brave warriors1
battle shunned, outnumbered.
And the unflinching farmers
fighting wished to stave off—
loath they were their life to
lose—by their much parleying.

 

Chapter 36. Of King Harald and His Skalds

 

King Harald was a powerful and able ruler of his land, and one extremely resourceful, so that it is common opinion that in the northlands no prince ever was his equal as to sagacity and wise counsel. He was a great warrior and greatly skilled in arms. He was stronger and more dexterous in arms than any other man, as was written above. Yet many more of his famous deeds have not been set down, both because of our lack of information and because we do not wish to put down in writing stories not sufficiently witnessed. Even though we have heard mentioned, or touched upon, a number of things, it seems better that they be added later, rather than that they need to be omitted then. Much about King Harald is incorporated in poems delivered by Icelanders before him or his sons. For that reason he was a great friend of theirs. Also, he befriended greatly all countrymen of ours who came to Norway. And when there was a bad season in Iceland, King Harald gave permission to four ships to export flour to Iceland and determined that the shippound1 should not cost more than a hundred and twenty ells of homespun. He allowed all poor people to come to Norway [from Iceland] if they could find transportation across the sea; and thus our land was able to recover with better seasons and better conditions. King Harald sent out to Iceland the bell for the church for which Holy King Óláf had sent the timber and which was built on the site of the Althing.2 Memories of King Harald such as these are cherished here as well as that he made noble presents to those who sought him out.

 

As was mentioned before, Halldór Snorrason and Úlf Óspaksson joined King Harald in Norway. They differed in many respects. Halldór was very tall, strong, and handsome. That testimony King Harald bore him that he was one of those among his followers who was least disturbed when anything terrible and unforeseen occurred. Whether danger threatened or good news was brought, or whatever peril there was, he was neither gladder nor sadder, nor did he sleep more or less, nor eat and drink otherwise than was his custom. Halldór was a man of few words, and gruff, outspoken, stubborn, and obstinate. But that did not sit well with the king, as he had plenty of excellent men about him who were ready to serve him. Halldór remained but a short while with the king. He sailed to Iceland, established himself in Hjartharholt, and lived there till his old age.

 

Chapter 37. Úlf Óspaksson Marries Jórunn

 

Úlf Óspaksson was in great favor with King Harald. He was exceedingly wise, eloquent, a great leader, dependable and honest. King Harald made Úlf his marshal and gave him Jórunn, the daughter of Thorberg, in marriage. She was the sister of Thóra with whom King Harald was married. The children of Úlf by Jórunn were Jóan the Strong of Rásvoll and Brígitha, the mother of Sautha-Úlf, the father of Peter Byrtharsvein, the father of Úlf Flý [and his brothers and sisters]. The son of Jóan the Strong was Erlend Hímaldi, the father of Archbishop Eystein and his brothers. King Harald gave Marshal Úlf the income of a king’s steward and twelve marks of rent, together with half a shire in the Trondheim District. So says Stein Herdísarson1 in his poem called Úlfsflokk.

 

Chapter 38. King Harald Builds Churches in Kaupang

 

King Magnús Óláfsson had the Saint Óláf’s Church built in the town of Kaupang. At that spot the body of the king was set down one night. It was located above the town. Also, he had the royal residence erected there. The church was not finished before the king’s death, and King Harald had it completed. In the same enclosure he laid the foundations of a stone hall; and that was not finished before he laid the foundation of Saint Mary’s Church on the sand hill near where the holy remains of the king were interred the first winter after his fall. That was a great minster, constructed strongly with mortar so that they could hardly raze it when Archbishop Eystein had it torn down. The holy shrine of King Óláf was kept in Saint Óláf’s Church while Saint Mary’s Church was being erected. King Harald had the royal residence built below Saint Mary’s by the river, where it now stands. But the hall he had erected he had consecrated as Saint Gregory’s Church.

 

Chapter 39. Of Ívar the White

 

There was a man by the name of Ívar the White, an excellent steward of the king. He resided in the Uppland District. He was the son of a daughter of Earl Hákon the Powerful. He was an exceptionally handsome man. His son was called Hákon. Of him it is said that he was superior to all his contemporaries in Norway as to valor, strength, and accomplishments. Even in his youth he joined warlike expeditions and acquired much fame, making a great name for himself.

 

Chapter 40. Of Einar Thambarskelfir and His Son Eindrithi

 

Einar Thambarskelfir was the most powerful landed-man in the Trondheim District. There was considerable coolness between him and King Harald. Yet Einar kept the revenues he enjoyed whilst King Magnús lived. Einar was a man of very great wealth. His wife was Bergljót, a daughter of Earl Hákon, as was mentioned above. At this time, Eindrithi, their son, was full grown. He married Sigríth, a daughter of King Harald’s sister. Eindrithi had the handsome appearance and comeliness of his mother’s kin, Earl Hákon and his sons, and the stature and strength of his father, Einar, as well as the accomplishments in which Einar excelled all others. He was the favorite of everyone.

 

Chapter 41. The Descendants of Earl Hákon

 

At that time there resided in the district of Uppland an earl by the name of Orm. His mother was Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hákon the Powerful. He was a most excellent man. East [west] in the district of Jathar at Sóli there lived a man by the name of Áslák Erlingsson, who was married to Sigríth, a daughter of Earl Svein, the son of Earl Hákon. Gunnhild, another daughter of Earl Svein became the wife of Svein Úlfsson, the king of Denmark. Those and other distinguished persons were the descendants of Earl Hákon living at that time in Norway; and all that family were handsomer by far than other people, and most of them were greatly accomplished, but all were distinguished.

 

Chapter 42. Of King Harald’s Imperious Nature

 

King Harald was of an imperious nature, and grew the more so as he consolidated his rule in Norway. And eventually it became worse than useless to oppose him or to promote matters other than those he wished. As says Skald Thjóthólf:

 

(114.)

 

481.   ’Tis right for loyal liege, as
likes the combat-loving
war-worker intrepid
well, to sit and stand eke.
The army all obey the
eagles’-feeder; neither
could the king’s own men go
counter to his wishes.

 

Chapter 43. Einar Thambarskelfir Antagonizes King Harald

 

Einar Thambarskelfir was the chief leader of the farmers in all the districts of Trondheim. At the assemblies he defended those against whom suit was brought by the king’s men. Einar was well versed in the laws; and he did not lack the boldness to defend his case at the assemblies, even though the king himself was present. And all the farmers supported him. This infuriated the king, and it went so far that it came to high words beween them. Einar maintained that the farmers would not tolerate any unjustice from the king nor stand for his breaking the laws of the land. And this occurred several times between them. As a consequence Einar took to having a large company of men about him when he was at home, and even more when he came to town and knew the king to be there.

 

It happened one day that Einar came sailing to the town with a great host—eight or nine warships—and a crew of some five hundred [600} men; and when he reached the town he went on shore with that company. King Harald was in his royal residence and stood outside in the gallery, watching Einar’s troops disembark. And it is said that he then composed these verses:

 

 

 

(115.)

 

482.   Behold free-handed Einar,
who the sea can cleave with
keel-horse, come ashore, by
crew of hundreds followed:
means the mighty chieftain—
many earls I’ve known were
followed by fewer men—to
fill the royal throne-seat.

 

(116.)

 

483.   Will the dart-speeder dauntless
drive me from my kingdom
but the baron kiss the
bill’s blue thin-lipped edges.1

 

Einar remained several days in the town.

 

Chapter 44. Einar and His Son Eindrithi Are Slain by King Harald

 

One day a meeting was held, and the king himself attended it. A thief had been taken in town and was led to the meeting. The man had been with Einar, before, and Einar had rather liked him. When Einar was told, he thought the king would not let the man go any the sooner because Einar would take his side. So Einar had his troops take their arms and go to the meeting, where he took the man from the meeting by force. Thereupon friends of both the king and Einar went between them and sought to reconcile them. As a result an appointment was agreed upon where they were to meet. The meeting hall was in the king’s residence down by the river. The king entered the room with only a few men; the remainder of his force stayed outside. The king had the cover lid drawn over the louver, so as to leave but a small opening. Then Einar arrived in the yard with his men. He said to Eindrithi, his son, “Stay outside here with the men; then there will be no risk for me.” Eindrithi stood outside at the entrance door. When Einar came into the room he said, “It is dark in the king’s council hall.” Immediately, men fell upon him, some thrusting, others striking. But when Eindrithi heard that, he drew his sword and burst into the room. He was promptly cut down, along with his father. Thereupon the king’s men [outside] ran to the hall and stood before the door. But the farmers did not know which way to turn as they now were left leaderless. One urged on the other, saying it was a shame if they did not avenge their chieftain. Yet nothing came of an attack. The king came out to his troops and ordered them in battle array, setting up his standard; but no attack was made by the farmers.

 

Thereupon the king boarded his ship with all his force. They rowed down the river and out into the fjord.

 

Bergljót, Einar’s wife, learned of his fall. At the time she was in the quarters which Einar and she had occupied when in the town. She went at once up to the royal residence where the farmers’ force stood, and heatedly urged them to do battle. That was just when King Harald rowed down the river. Then said Bergljót, “Now we feel the want of my kinsman, Hákon Ívarsson. The slayers of Eindrithi would not be rowing down the river if Hákon stood here on the banks.” Then Bergljót had the remains of Einar and Eindrithi attended to. They were interred near the Church of Saint Óláf, close by the tomb of King Magnús Óláfsson.

 

After the fall of Einar, King Harald was so strongly detested on account of his deed that the only reason the king’s stewards and the farmers did not attack and do battle with him was the lack of a leader to raise the standard for the farmers’ army.

 

Chapter 45. King Harald Has Finn Árnason Intercede for Him

 

At that time Finn Árnason lived at Austrátt in the district of Yrjar. He was a steward of King Harald’s. Finn had in marriage Bergljót, the daughter of Hálfdan, the son of Sigurth Sýr. Hálfdan [thus] was a brother of Holy King Óláf and King Harald. Thóra, wife of King Harald, was the niece of Finn Árnason. The king was very fond of Finn, as of his brothers. For some summers, Finn Árnason had been on viking expeditions in the west. He, Guthorm Gunnhildarson, and Hákon Ívarsson had been together on these expeditions.

 

King Harald had sailed out on the Trondheimfjord till he came to Austrátt. There he was made very welcome. Later, Finn and the king talked together about the events which had just happened—the slaying of Einar and his son—and also about the grumbling and uproar of the Thronders against the king. Finn answered quickly, “You blunder in whatever you do. First you commit all kinds of wrongs, and afterwards you are so afraid that you don’t know what to do with yourself.”

 

The king answered laughing, “Kinsman, I am now going to send you to the town. I want you to reconcile me with the farmers. And if you don’t succeed in that, I want you to go to Uppland and bring it about that Hákon Ívarsson doesn’t become my enemy.”

 

Finn answered, “What will you promise to do for me if I go on this dangerous errand, because both Thronders and the men of Uppland are so enraged against you that no messenger of yours can go there without danger to life and limb, unless he has your assistance.”

 

The king answered, “You go on this errand, kinsman, because I know that if anybody can execute it successfully, you can. Reconcile us and you can choose whatever you want from me.”

 

Finn replied, “Then keep your promise and I shall choose this: I choose pardon and permission to stay in the country, for my brother Kálf, and that he may regain all his property; and also, that he have the rank and all the power he had before he left the country.”

 

The king assented to all conditions Finn made, and the agreement was witnessed by others, and they clasped hands upon it. Then Finn asked, “What shall I offer to Hákon to make him agree to a reconciliation with you? He is the person of greatest influence now among the people of Trondheim.”

 

The king answered, “First hear what Hákon himself would demand for a reconciliation. Then advance my interests as best you can; but as a last resort offer him anything short of being king.” Thereupon King Harald sailed south to Mœr and gathered a considerable force.

 

Chapter 46. Finn Offers Compensation for the Slaying of Einar

 

Finn Árnason sailed to the town together with his henchmen, almost eighty in number. And when he entered the town he arranged a meeting with the townsmen. At this meeting Finn made a long and eloquent speech in which he asked both townsmen and farmers by all means to avoid hostilities against their king so as to drive him away. He reminded them how much evil they had suffered doing that before to Holy King Óláf; and he said that the king was willing to pay compensation for the slayings committed, according to the judgment of the best and wisest men. At the conclusion of his speech the farmers agreed to do nothing about the matter until the messengers returned whom Bergljót had sent to Hákon Ívarsson in Uppland.

 

Thereupon Finn, together with the men who had followed him to the town, travelled up the Orka Valley; then to the Dofra Fell, and then east [south] across it. First, Finn went to see Earl Orm, his son-in-law—he had married Sigríth, Finn’s daughter—and told him about his business.

 

Chapter 47. Hákon Ívarsson Demands Ragnhild in Marriage

 

Thereupon they arranged a meeting with Hákon Ívarsson; and when they met, Finn told Hákon the message which King Harald had entrusted to him. It soon appeared that Hákon thought it was his stern duty to avenge his kinsman Eindrithi; and he said he had had word from Trondheim that he would find sufficient support there to start a rebellion against the king. Thereupon Finn demonstrated to Hákon that it was a better alternative for him to exact from the king as much honor as he himself would ask for, rather than to risk rising in opposition to the king to whom he was bound in allegiance; that he might be defeated—“and then you have forfeited both property and life. But if you overcome King Harald you will be called a traitor to your king.”

 

Earl Orm also gave support to Finn’s arguments. And when Hákon had weighed them he revealed what he had in mind. He said, “I shall be reconciled to King Harald if he will give in marriage to me his relative Ragnhild, the daughter of King Magnús Óláfsson, together with such a dowry as is seeming to her and as she would like.” Finn said he would assent to that by authority of the king; and they came to an agreement about that. Thereupon Finn returned north to Trondheim. Then the unrest and turbulence there subsided, so that the king continued to rule undisturbed in the land; because now there was an end to the alliance among Eindrithi’s kinsmen to resist King Harald.

 

Chapter 48. King Harald Refuses Hákon Ívarsson the Title of Earl

 

When the time came for Hákon to demand the fulfilment of the agreement, he went to see King Harald. And when they began to discuss the matter, the king declared that he would on his part adhere to the agreement reached between Finn and Hákon. “It is your business, Hákon, to talk about this matter with Ragnhild and find out whether she agrees to this marriage. But neither you nor any else will find it advisable to obtain Ragnhild in marriage unless it be with her own consent.”

 

Thereupon Hákon went to Ragnhild and made his proposal of marriage to her. She answered in this wise, “Frequently I am made to feel that King Magnús, my father, is dead and his memory gone, if I am to marry a farmer, even though you are handsome and accomplished in many ways. If King Magnús were alive he would not give me in marriage to anyone less than a king. So there is no prospect that I be willing to marry a man not of princely rank.”

 

Thereupon Hákon went to King Harald and reported to him the parley between Ragnhild and him, and also reminded him of the agreement made between Finn and himself. Both Finn and several others were present who had been witnesses of this agreement. Hákon called upon all of them to witness that it had been agreed upon that the king was to provide Ragnhild with such a dowry as would be acceptable to her. “Now she declares she will not marry a man not of princely rank; so you can give me the title of earl. I am of sufficiently high birth to be called an earl, and also have some other qualities required for that, according to what people say.”

 

The king answered, “Both King Óláf, my brother, and King Magnús, his son, during their reign allowed only one earl at one time in the country. And I followed this, ever since I became king. I am not willing to take the title away from Earl Orm which I have before bestowed on him.”

 

Then Hákon understood that his plan would not succeed, and he was very greatly displeased. Finn, too, was furious. They said that the king would not abide by his word; and with that they parted. Hákon immediately left the land with a well-equipped warship. He sailed south to Denmark and immediately sought out King Svein, his kinsman. The king made him very welcome and gave him large revenues. He was entrusted with the defence of the country against the vikings who made many incursions in the Danish realm—Wends, Kurlanders, and many others from the eastern Baltic. He was out at sea with his fleet both in summer and winter.

 

Chapter 49. Hákon Ívarsson Defeats and Slays Ásmund

 

There was a man called Ásmund who, it is said, was the son of King Svein’s sister and was fostered by him. Ásmund was most accomplished, and the king was very fond of him. But as Ásmund grew up, he became most overbearing and a killer. The king was displeased at that and dismissed him from his presence; but he procured him a good fief on which he could well support himself together with a company of men. But as soon as Ásmund had received these possessions from the king he drew a great host of men together. And since the moneys the king had given him did not meet his expenses, he appropriated other and far greater properties belonging to the king. When the king learned of that he summoned Ásmund, and when he came, ordered him to join his bodyguard and not to have any followers; and the king had his way. But after Ásmund had been a little while with the king’s court he did not like it there, and he escaped at night and rejoined his company and did more mischief than before. So when the king rode over land near where Ásmund kept himself, he sent a body of men to capture him by force. Then the king had him placed in chains for a while, thinking that he might calm down. But as soon as Ásmund was freed he straightway escaped and got himself a company and warships, and then he began to harry both abroad and at home, doing great damage, and killing and robbing far and wide. Those who suffered from these hostilities went to the king and complained about the damage done to them. He answered them, “Why do you tell me this? Why don’t you go to Hákon Ívarsson? He is entrusted by me with the defence of the country and appointed for the purpose of keeping the peace for you farmers and punishing vikings. I was told that Hákon was a bold and brave man, but now it seems to me he doesn’t want to engage in anything he thinks might involve danger.”

 

These words were reported to Hákon, together with many that were not said. Then Hákon with his force went to search for Ásmund. They met with their fleets. Hákon at once gave battle, and it was a great one, and hard fought. Hákon boarded Ásmund’s ship and cleared its decks. Finally, he and Ásmund encountered each other and fought. Ásmund fell and Hákon cut off his head. Then he hurriedly sought out the king and found him sitting at table. Hákon advanced to the table and laid Ásmund’s head on it before the king and asked him if he knew it. The king made no answer, but his face grew red as blood. Then Hákon left. A short time afterwards the king sent men to Hákon asking him to leave his service, “Tell him that I do not wish to do him harm; but I cannot take care of all our kinsmen.”

 

Chapter 50. King Harald Bestows the Earldom on Hákon

 

Thereupon Hákon left Denmark and returned north to his possessions in Norway. His kinsman Orm had died meanwhile. Both kinsmen and friends received Hákon with open arms; and many excellent men took it upon themselves to reconcile King Harald and Hákon. In the end they agreed upon these terms that Hákon was to have Princess Ragnhild in marriage, and King Harald conferred on Hákon the earldom and power Earl Orm had had. Hákon swore allegiance to King Harald, binding himself to perform all the services he owed the king.

 

Chapter 51. Kálf Árnason Is Permitted to Return to Norway

 

Kálf Árnason had been engaged in freebooting expeditions in the western seas ever since he left Norway; but during the winters he stayed in the Orkneys with his kinsman, Earl Thorfinn. Kálf’s brother, Finn Árnason, sent word to Kálf to tell him of the special agreement between King Harald and himself, that Kálf be permitted to return to Norway to his possessions and have the same revenues he had had under King Magnús. When this message was brought to Kálf he made ready at once for the journey. He sailed east to Norway, and first of all he went to meet his brother Finn. Thereupon Finn procured security for Kálf; and they both met together, the king and Kálf, and came to an agreement according to the terms which the king and Finn had before settled on. Kálf then pledged himself to the king that, according to stipulations formerly arrived at with King Magnús, he was in duty bound to do all King Harald wanted him to and which the king held would strengthen his rule. Thereupon Kálf repossessed himself of all the properties and revenues he had had before.

 

Chapter 52. Kálf Árnason Is Slain on Funen

 

The summer following, King Harald summoned a levy and sailed south to Denmark, where he harried all summer. When he arrived at the island of Funen in the south, he found a great army arrayed against him. The king had his men disembark and make ready to go up on land. He divided his forces in such fashion that Kálf Árnason was to head a troop which was to disembark first. He told them in which direction they were to proceed and said he would go up on land after them and support them. Accordingly, Kálf and his troop went up on land and were promptly met by the enemy. Kálf engaged him at once; nor did the battle last long, for Kálf was soon overborne by superior force. He and his troop took to flight, pursued by the Danes. Many of the Norwegians fell there, also Kálf Árnason. King Harald went up on land with his force, and they soon came on the field of battle and found Kálf’s body. It was borne down to the ships. The king himself went ashore to harry, and killed a great many there. As Arnór says:

 

(117.)

 

484.   Reddened then wrathfully—
Ran fire o’er their dwellings—
his flashing blade on Funen
folk; their numbers lessened.

 

Chapter 53. Finn Árnason Joins King Svein

 

After this occurrence Finn thought he had good reason for harboring enmity to the king who, he considered, had been the cause of his brother Kálf’s death. He accused the king of having contrived Kálf’s death, and [argued] that it was merely a ruse against him when he enticed his brother Kálf from the west across the sea into his power and on his good faith.

 

But when people learned of these allegations many said that it was naive for Finn to have believed that Kálf could trust the good faith of King Harald, considering that the king had shown his vindictiveness in the case of smaller offences than those which Kálf had committed against him. The king let everyone talk about this as he pleased, he neither confirmed it nor denied it. Only this was plain that the king was pleased with what had happened. King Harald spoke this verse:

 

(118.)

 

485.   Done to death now have I—
driven was I to it—
and laid low of my lieges
eleven and two, I remember.
Men must guard them ’gainst the
guileful toils of traitors:
great oaks, say they, out of
acorns little grow up.1

 

Finn was so infuriated by this deed [of Harald’s] that he left the country and sailed south to Denmark where he joined King Svein and was welcomed by him. They had long conferences in private, and their upshot was that Finn swore allegiance to King Svein. He was given the title of earl by King Svein and the rule of the province of Halland, where he was entrusted with the defence against the incursions of the Norwegians.

 

Chapter 54. Guthorm Allies Himself with King Margath

 

There was a man called Guthorm who lived on Hringuness. He was the son of Ketil Kálf and Gunnhild, and thus the nephew of King Óláf and Harald. Guthorm was an accomplished man, early full grown. He often was in the company of King Harald and was a great favorite of his. He counselled the king, because he was a shrewd man, besides being much liked by people. Frequently he was on warlike expeditions and harried much in the lands beyond the North Sea. He had a great force under him. He had a place of retreat and winter quarters in Dublin in Ireland, where he was on terms of close friendship with King Margath [Eachmargach].1

 

Chapter 55. By Saint Óláf’s Help Guthorm Defeats Margath

 

The summer following, King Margath and Guthorm went on a viking expedition and harried in Wales. There they took immense booty. Then they sailed to Anglesey Sound [Menai Strait], where they were to divide their spoils. But when the large amount of silver was brought forth and the king saw it, he wanted to have all the treasure himself and counted for little his friendship with Guthorm. The latter was greatly affronted that he and his men should be robbed of their just share. The king said he could choose one of two things, “Either to be content with the way I want it, or else to fight with us and let him have the silver who is victorious—and also this: I want you to surrender your ships, because I want to have them.” To Guthorm both alternatives seemed bad, and he thought he could not in decency give up his ships and the silver, not having given any provocation on his part. On the other hand it was very risky to do battle with the king and the large fleet he had. There was a great difference between their forces, in that the king had sixteen warships against Guthorm’s five. Guthorm asked the king to let him have three nights’ time to confer with his men about this matter. He thought that the king might relent somewhat in that time and that he might obtain better terms with the king through the representatives of his men. But the king refused to consent to this request.

 

The time was the eve of Saint Óláf’s Day. Then Guthorm chose to die like a man, or else win the victory, rather than suffer the shame and dishonor, and the reproach of cowardice, for having lost so much. Thereupon he called on God and Holy King Óláf, his kinsman, for help and support, and he made the vow to give tithes to the church of that saint of all the spoils they would make if they were victorious. Thereupon he arranged his forces in battle array against the large fleet, advanced and engaged them. But with the help of God and Saint Óláf, Guthorm won the victory. King Margath fell there, and with him, every man who followed him, young and old. And after this glorious victory Guthorm [and his men] returned home happy with all the treasure they had won in the battle. Then was taken every tenth coin of silver they had won and had vowed to give Holy King Óláf; that was a huge amount of silver. Of it, Guthorm had a crucifix made as tall as he himself or his forecastleman. That image1 is seven ells high, and Guthorm gave the crucifix so fashioned to the Church of Saint Óláf. It has remained there ever since as a memorial to Guthorm’s victory and to this miracle of Holy King Óláf.

 

Chapter 56. The Evil Count Is Blinded by Saint Óláf

 

In Denmark there lived a count of evil and envious disposition. He had a Norwegian servant woman from the district of Trondheim. She worshipped Holy King Óláf and firmly believed in his sanctity. But the count I mentioned disbelieved all that was told him of the miracles of this holy man. He said it was nothing but rumor and loose talk, and made mock and sport of the praise and honor which the people of the country gave the good king. Now the holy day approached on which the gentle king had lost his life and which all Norwegians kept. This, that unwise count did not want to keep and ordered his maid to heat the oven and bake bread on that day. She knew the fury of the count and that he would punish her severely if she did not do all he told her. She went to work much against her will and heated the oven for baking, weeping much as she worked, and calling on Holy Óláf and saying that she would never believe in him unless he avenged this enormity by some sign. Now you may here learn of fitting punishment and a true miracle: right quickly, and at the same time, the count became blind in both eyes, and the bread which she had shoved into the oven turned into stone. Some bits of this stone were brought into Saint Óláf’s Church and into many others. From that time on Saint Óláf’s Day has always been kept in Denmark.

 

image

 

Saint Óláf and the cripple walk over London Bridge.

 

Chapter 57. Saint Óláf Miraculously Heals a Cripple

 

West in France there lived a man who was in such ill health and so crippled that he had to walk on his knees and knuckles. One day he fell asleep on the road. He dreamed that a courtly man approached him and asked him whither he was going, and he named some town. The courtly man said to him, “Go to the Church of Saint Óláf in London, you will recover your health there.”

 

Thereupon he awoke and straightway proceeded to find Saint Óláf’s Church. Finally he came to London Bridge and there asked townsmen if they could tell him were Saint Óláf’s Church was. And they answered, saying that there were so many churches there that they didn’t know to whom each one was dedicated. But a little while afterwards a man approached him and asked whither he was going. He told him. Then the man said, “Let us both go to Saint Óláf’s Church, I know the way there.” Then they walked over the Bridge and went up the street leading to Saint Óláf’s Church. And when they came to the gate of the churchyard, this man stepped over the threshold of the gate, but the cripple rolled himself over it, and straightway arose a well man. But when he looked about him, his companion had vanished.

 

Chapter 58. King Harald Escapes from the Limfjord

 

King Harald had a market town built in Ósló in the east, and often resided there, because provisions were easy to obtain there and it is an important center. And the location was good also, both to protect the land against an attack of the Danes and to make incursions in Denmark. He often did so, even though he did not have much of a force.

 

One summer King Harald sailed forth with some light, swift ships and a small crew. He sailed south in Vík, and when there was a favorable wind he crossed over to Jutland and took to harrying there. But the countrymen gathered together to defend their land. Then King Harald sailed to the Limfjord and into it. The nature of the Limfjord is such that at its entrance it is narrow like some river channel, but after one is inside it opens up like a broad sea. Harald harried on both shores, but the Danes had armed forces everywhere. Then King Harald anchored his ships close to an island. It was small and uninhabited, and when they looked for water they found none, and told the king so. He had them look for some snake, and when they found one they brought it to the king. He had it carried to fire, to heat and exhaust it, so that it should become as thirsty as possible. Then they tied a string to its tail and let it go. It escaped quickly, with the string unwinding from the ball. They followed the snake till it burrowed down into the ground. The king bade them dig for water in that place. They did so, and they found an abundance of it there.

 

King Harald learned from his spies that King Svein had arrived at the mouth of the fjord with a big fleet. He was delayed in entering it as only one ship at a time could navigate the channel. King Harald with his ships continued farther into the fjord. Its broadest expanse is called Lúsbreith, and between one of the innermost arms and the sea there is only a slender neck of land. King Harald and his fleet rowed to that place in the evening; and in the night, when it had become dark, they unloaded their ships and dragged them across the neck of land. Before day broke they had finished doing that, and made their ships ready again and sailed north past Jutland. Then they spoke this ditty:

 

(119.)

 

486.   Through the hands of the Danes
Harald did slip.

 

Then the king said that another time he would come to Denmark with a greater fleet and larger ships. Thereupon he sailed north to Trondheim.

 

Chapter 59. King Harald Challenges King Svein

 

During the winter King Harald resided in Nitharós and had a ship constructed outside on the point of Eyrar. That was [of the type] called búz,1 and in point of size like the Long Serpent, and great pains were bestowed on it. It had a dragon head on the stem and a tail on the stern, and the neck of the dragon head was gilt. It had thirty-five compartments and was long in proportion and altogether handsome. The king had all of its equipment made of choice materials, both the sail, the hawsers, the anchor, and the anchor ropes. In winter King Harald sent a message south to King Svein of Denmark that he should in spring come north to the Gaut Elf River, there to fight it out and dispose of their lands, so that one of them should have both kingdoms.

 

Chapter 60. King Harald Is Delayed by a Storm

 

That winter King Harald summoned a total levy in Norway. And when spring came, a large army collected. Then King Harald ordered the large ship to be launched in the Nith River and had the dragon head erected on it. Then Thjóthólf the Skald spoke this verse:

 

(120.)

 

487.   Lo! I saw launched, fair one,
lordly ship in the river:
pridefully its panelled
prow rides on the water;
golden shines the shapely
ship since from its moorings
floated, flaming-maned, with
flanks all gilt, the dragon.

 

Then King Harald got that vessel shipshape and made ready for his expedition. And when all ready he steered the ship out of the river [into the fjord]. Much care was bestowed on the management of the oars. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(121.)

 

488.   Betimes tosses off the
tent-flaps, on a Saturday,
the leader-in-war, as ladies
look from the town on his sailing:
steers his stag-of-billows
straightway seaward, while the
long oars of his lads do
lash the briny waters.

 

(122.)

 

489.   Well in time his warriors
wield the slender sweeps as
eyes the maid the oar-blades’
even course with wonder:
ply they will in peace their
pitchblack oars ere that in
shower-of-darts are shivered,
shapely maid, their row-tools.

 

(123.)

 

490.   Much ill will suffer oaken
oar-locks, ere by rowers
seventy sweeps from stormy
sea be lifted sithen:
onward, Northmen urge the
iron-mailed great dragon,
like as, with outspread wings, an
eagle, on hailstruck sea-stream.

 

King Harald sailed his fleet south along the land, summoning a levy both of men and ships. But when they advanced east in Vík they encountered strong head-winds, so that the fleet was forced to anchor in many places, both by out-islands and in the bays. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(124.)

 

491.   Sheltering shores beneath lie
shield-rimmed galleys, storm-tossed.
Girds the levy’s lord the
land with plank-built warships.
Landlocked lies the fleet in
lea of wooded hillocks,
’gainst scathe by every skerry
screened and safely harbored.

 

But in the great gale that beset them the large ship needed good anchor cables. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(125.)

 

492.   Cleaves the king’s ship’s iron
keel the pounding billows.
Stand in good stead cables
stout to hold the sea-steed.
Unkind is the oak’s-scourge1 to
anchor-flukes, the curved ones:
both nasty gale and nibbed rock
gnaw at the crooked iron.

 

But when a favorable breeze sprang up, King Harald with his fleet sailed east [south] to the Gaut Elf River and arrived there in the evening. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(126.)

 

493.   Swept Harald his sail-craft
swiftly toward the River.
Passed Norway’s king the night quite
near to Denmark’s border.
There he has a thing2 at
Thumli3 with Svein Úlfsson,
owing to ravens, unless
off the Danes do hie them.

 

Chapter 61. King Harald Places His Fleet in Battle Array

 

But when the Danes learned that the Norwegian fleet had come, then all fled who could. The Norwegians were told that the Danish king also had called out his forces and lay in the south by Funen and the Smaller Islands.1 But when King Harald learned that King Svein did not intend to meet him in battle as agreed upon, he followed the same plan as before, letting the levy of farmers return home, and fully manning a hundred and fifty [180] ships. Thereupon he proceeded south along Halland, ravaging the countryside. He anchored in the Lófufjord2 and harried from there.

 

Shortly after, King Svein with his fleet approached. He had three hundred [360] ships. And when the Norwegians sighted this fleet, King Harald had the fleet called together. Many said that it was best to flee, that it was impossible to fight that force. The king answered, “Rather shall we all of us fall, one upon the other, than flee.” As says Stein Herdísarson:3

 

(127.)

 

494.   This spoke who, methought, would
thewfully prove him a leader:
“Put away all pleas for
peace,” he said, “as hopeless.”
“Rather,” said the ruler—
readied men their weapons—
“than flee shall each, unfaltering
fall upon the other.”

 

Thereupon King Harald drew up his fleet in order for the attack. His own great dragon ship he put in the middle of his line. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(128.)

 

495.   At the head, free-handed
Harald, to wolves friendly—
fore-front was that of our
fleet—placed his dragon.

 

That vessel was excellently equipped and had a numerous crew. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(129.)

 

496.   Fast and fearless bade the
folk-ruler his men stand.
Round him arrayed, warriors
raised their shields to ward him.
Sheathed with blood-red shields his
ship the dauntless leader
tightly, so that touched one
t’ other—by the Níza River.

 

Úlf, the king’s marshal, placed his ship by one side of the royal ship, ordering his men to have it well forward. Stein Herdísarson was aboard Úlf’s ship. He spoke this verse:

 

(130.)

 

497.   Egged us on to battle
Úlf, the sea-king’s marshal,
spears when sped about us,
spurring us to row fast.
Bade the king’s friend brave to
bring his ship well forward,
alongside with his lord’s to
lie; which the crew did willing.

 

Earl Hákon Ívarsson was placed outermost in one wing. He had a great many ships under him with well-equipped crews. And outermost in the other wing were the chieftains from the Trondheim District. They also had a great and fine fleet.

 

Chapter 62. King Svein with a Great Fleet Opposes Harald

 

King Svein likewise arrayed his forces for battle. He laid his ship in the middle of the front against that of King Harald, and right next to his was Earl Finn Árnason’s ship; and close to them was arrayed that part of the Danish force which was bravest and best equipped. Then both parties fastened together with hawsers the central portions of their fleet. But because the fleet was so large, there was such a multitude of ships that a great many of them had to navigate independently, each moving to the attack as its skipper chose; and there was a great difference in that respect. Still, though the odds were great, both sides had a tremendous host. There were six earls in King Svein’s fleet. As said Stein Herdísarson:

 

(131.)

 

498.   Ran great risks the valiant
ruler of Thronders, when that,
with vessels half two-hundred
he awaited Svein’s fleet.
Eftsoons, Leire’s liege-lord
likewise thither, wroth in
mind, with kelpland’s-coursers1
came fully three hundred.

 

Chapter 63. The Danish Fleet Is Defeated

 

King Harald had the trumpets sounded as soon as his ships were ready for battle and had his men row to the attack. As says Stein Herdísarson:

 

(132.)

 

499.   Hindered Harald, at Níz’ mouth,
high-souled Úlf’s son’s progress.
Unstinting stand made there
strife-loving Norway’s ruler.
Sword-girt, the sea-king’s henchmen
smartly rowed by Halland,
while welled wound-dew steaming
warm upon the waters.

 

Then the battle began with great fury. Both kings urged their men on. As says Stein Herdísarson:

 

(133.)

 

500.   Did both the brave Skyldings1
bid men, both unshielded—
hand to hand then fought the
hosts—to give no quarter.
Reeking red blood dripped from
ring-sarks—death it boded
to the fey—as flew in
fray both stones and arrows.

 

It was late in the day when they closed and the battle lasted all night. King Harald for a long time shot with his bow. As says Thjóthólf:
 

(134.)

 

501.   All night long the liege-lord
let the arrows fly from
yew-bow on shining shields—the
shafts pierced warriors’ mail-coats.
Bloody axes bit through
byrnies, while stinging arrows
stabbed through stained shields—grew
storm-of-darts from the Dragon.2

 

Earl Hákon and his force had not fastened their ships together and rowed at those Danish ships which fought singly; and every ship he fastened himself to he cleared of its crew. But when the Danes observed that, then everyone drew away from the earl. He pursued the Danes as they retreated, and they were about to flee. At that juncture a skiff approached the earl’s ship; they called to him from it and told him that the other wing [of Harald’s fleet] was yielding ground and that many had fallen there. Thereupon the earl rowed in that direction and made a sharp attack, so that the Danes again retreated with their ships. The earl pursued the same course all night long, attacking where there was most need; and wherever he came, there was no resisting him. Hákon rowed on the outside of the battle. Toward the latter part of the night the general flight of the Danes began, because by then King Harald with his force had boarded King Svein’s ship, and it was cleared so thoroughly of its crew that all men fell except those who jumped overboard. As says Arnór the Earls’ Skald:

 

(135.)

 

502.   His swift-sailing ship left
Svein not without struggle:
hard iron against helmets,
heard I, rang in combat.
Crewless floated the fearless
friend-of-Jutes’3 swift warship,
ere that the atheling fled, with
all its warriors fallen.

 

But as soon as the banner of Svein had fallen and his ship was cleared of its crew, then all his host fled, and some fell. And on the ships which were fastened together, men jumped overboard while some took refuge on other ships which had not been fastened together. But all of Svein’s men who could, rowed away. Then there was great carnage. But at the point where the battle between the kings themselves had taken place and where most ships were fastened together, more than seventy vessels of King Svein’s fleet lay cleared of their crews. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(136.)

 

503.   ’Tis told how taken, in the
twinkling of an eye, were
swift ships seventy, at least, of
Svein’s by valiant leader.

 

King Harald rowed in pursuit of the Danes, but that was not easy, because the ships were crowded together so thickly that it was difficult to proceed. Earl Finn refused to flee, and was captured. Also, his sight was poor. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(137.)

 

504.   Nowise owes Svein success to
six earls, though in forefront
bravely battling in the bitter storm-of-arrows.
Dying Danes among, but
dauntless, in midcolumn
fighting, loath to flee, was
Finn Árnason captured.

 

Chapter 64. Earl Hákon Ívarsson Helps King Svein to Escape

 

Earl Hákon lagged behind with his ship when the king with the remainder of the fleet pursued the enemy, because the earl’s ship could not push forward with all the ships barring his way. At that time a man in a boat rowed toward the earl’s ship and made fast along the poop. He was a large man, and had a wide hood over his face. He called up to the ship, “Where is the earl?” The earl was in the stern, stopping a man’s bleeding. He looked at the man with the hood and asked his name. He replied, “Vandráth1 is here. Speak with me, earl!” The earl leaned down to him over the ship’s side. The man in the boat said: “I would ask my life of you, if you will grant it.”

 

The earl straightened up and designated two men, both close friends of his, and said, “Get into the boat and bring Vandráth to land. Accompany him to Farmer Karl, my friend, and tell him by way of token to let Vandráth have the horse I gave Karl day before yesterday, together with the saddle, and tell him to let his son accompany Vandráth.”

 

They got into the boat and took to the oars, with Vandráth steering. This occurred at dawn of day. There was at that time a great moving to and fro of ships, some rowing to land, some out to sea, both big and little ships. Vandráth steered where there seemed most passageway between the ships. But whenever Norwegian ships rowed near them the earl’s men said who they were, so all let them pass wherever they wanted. Vandráth steered along the land, but did not make for shore until they had passed the great mass of ships. Then they went up on land to Karl’s farm as it began to be daylight. They went into the room. There they found Karl, who had just dressed himself. The earl’s men told him their message. Karl told them to eat first. He had the table set for them and gave them water to wash their hands.

 

Then the lady of the house entered the room and said right away, “Good heavens, we can’t get sleep or rest tonight what with all the shouting and noise.”

 

Karl replied, “Don’t you know that the kings battled tonight?”

 

She asked, “Who had the upper hand?”

 

Karl answered, “The Norwegians were victorious.”

 

“Then I suppose our king fled once more,” she said.

 

Karl answered, “It is not known whether he fell or fled.”

 

She said, “A wretched king we have. He is both halt2 and a coward.”

 

Then Vandráth said, “It isn’t that the king is a coward though he is not victorious.”

 

Vandráth was the last to wash his hands, but when he took the towel he dried them on the middle of it. The lady of the house took hold of it and snatched it from him. She said: “You have no manners. It is boorish to wet all the towel.”

 

[Vandráth answered, “I shall yet come to a place where I can dry my hands on the middle of a towel.”]3 Then Karl set the table before them, and Vandráth seated himself in the middle.

 

They ate for a while, and afterwards went outside. There they found a horse all ready and the son of the farmer prepared to accompany him, seated on another horse. They rode away to the forest; but the earl’s men got into their boat and rowed out to the earl’s ship.

 

Chapter 65. King Harald Learns of King Svein’s Escape

 

King Harald and his fleet pursued the enemy for a while, then rowed back to the ships that had been cleared. They searched these and found a great many corpses but not the body of the king. Yet they thought he had fallen. Then King Harald had his own dead attended to and the wounds of those dressed who needed it. Thereupon he had the bodies of King Svein’s men brought to land, and sent word to the farmers that they were to bury them. Then he had the booty divided. He stayed there for some time. Then he learned that King Svein had escaped to Seeland and that all those who had fled from the battle had joined him, together with many others and that he had gotten together an innumerable army.

 

Chapter 66. King Harald Gives Quarter to Finn Árnason

 

Earl Finn was captured in the battle, as was written before. He was brought before the king. King Harald was very merry then and said, “Here we meet now, Finn, as we did lately, in Norway. The Danish men have not stood firm about you, and [now] the Norwegians are put to the trouble to drag you around with them, blind as you are, in order to keep you alive.”

 

Then the earl answered, “Much ill the Norwegians are made to do, and worst, all that you order them to do.”

 

Then said King Harald, “Will you accept quarter, though you don’t deserve it?”

 

Then the earl said, “Not from you, dog!”

 

The king said, “Will you then accept quarter from your kinsman, Magnús?” Magnús, the king’s son, was there and had command of a ship.

 

Then the earl answered, “How can that whelp give quarter?”

 

Then the king laughed and thought it fun to tease him, and said, “Will you accept quarter from your kinswoman, Thóra?”

 

Then the earl said, “Is she here?”

 

“Here she is,” said the king.

 

Then the earl spoke the abusive [and uncourtly] words which have been remembered ever since and show how furious he was so that he could not put restraint on his language, “No wonder you bit savagely, seeing that mare was with you.”

 

Finn’s life was spared, and King Harald had him along for a while. Finn showed himself rather dejected and was gruff in his language. Then King Harald said to him, “I can see, Finn, that you do not want to be friends with me and your kinsfolk. I shall now give you permission to join Svein, your king.”

 

The earl answered, “That I accept, and the more thankfully the sooner I get away from here.” Thereupon the king had the earl and his company put to land. The people of Halland received him well. Then King Harald steered his fleet north to Norway, first to Ósló, and gave leave to all to go home if they wanted to.

 

Chapter 67. King Svein Rewards Farmer Karl

 

We are told that King Svein resided in Denmark the following winter and maintained his rule there as before. In winter he sent men north [east] to Halland to fetch Karl and his wife. And when they arrived at the king’s court he called Karl to him and asked him whether he recognized him or thought he had seen him before.

 

Karl answered, “I know you now, sire, and I knew you before, as soon as I saw you, and I thank God that the little help I gave you was of use to you.”

 

The king answered, “I owe you my life from that day on. I shall reward you, first, by giving you the estate in Seeland which you may choose to have; and also, I shall raise you to great honor if you prove worthy of it.”

 

Karl thanked the king greatly for his words and said that—“there is still one wish I would have granted me.” The king asked what that might be. Karl said, “I shall ask you, sire, to let me have my wife with me.”

 

The king gave this answer, “That I shall not grant you, because I shall procure you a much better wife and a wiser one. But your wife might get along with the small farm you had before. That will provide her with sustenance.”

 

The king gave him a large and excellent estate and procured him a good match, and he grew to be a man of importance. This incident became favorably known and was spread far and wide. It became known in Norway.

 

Chapter 68. King Harald’s Jealousy of Earl Hákon Is Aroused

 

The winter following the battle of Níz River King Harald resided in Ósló. In fall, when the fleet had returned from the south, there was much talk about the battle which had taken place outside the Níz River, and many stories were told. Everyone who had been in it thought he could tell something about it. It happened one time that some men sat in an under-room drinking and became very talkative. They talked about the battle of Níz River and also, of who had most distinguished himself there. They were all of one opinion, that no one had fought there like Earl Hákon—“he was the keenest fighter and the most skilful and the luckiest, and all he did was of the greatest help, and he won the victory.”

 

King Harald happened to be outside in the yard, talking with some men. Then he walked to the door of the room and said, “Everyone here would now like to be called Hákon,” and went his way.

 

Chapter 69. Earl Hákon Is Forewarned of the King’s Intention to Kill Him

 

Earl Hákon journeyed to Uppland in the fall and during the winter resided in his domain. He was exceedingly popular with the Upplendings. One time when spring was approaching and men sat drinking, it happened that the talk again turned to the battle of the Níz River. There was much praise for Earl Hákon, but some commended others no less. After they had talked about that for a while, a man spoke up and said, “It may be that others beside Earl Hákon fought bravely outside the Níz River; yet no one is likely to have had as much luck as he.” The men said that the greatest piece of good fortune was that he had put to flight many of the Danes. The same man replied, “A greater piece of good fortune it was that he saved King Svein’s life.”

 

One of the men answered, “You probably don’t know that for sure.”

 

He replied, “I know it for sure, because I was told by one of the men who conveyed the king to land.”

 

And then the saying proved true that “many are the king’s ears”: this was told the king, and straightway he had many horses saddled, and at once set out at night with two hundred [240] men.

 

They met some men who were going to the town with flour and malt. A certain man with the name of Gamal was in the king’s company. He rode up to one of the farmers who was an acquaintance of his. They had some conversation by themselves. Gamal said, “I will give you money if you will ride to Earl Hákon the fastest you can by secret paths and the shortest way you know, and tell him that the king means to kill him. Because the king knows now that the earl helped King Svein to the land near the River Níz.”

 

And they agreed on this. The farmer rode and came to the earl who was sitting up drinking, and had not yet gone to sleep. And when the farmer had delivered his message the earl rose at once, and all his men. The earl had all his movable property removed from his estate to the woods. Also all his men left the place during the night before the king arrived. The king stayed there during the night; but Earl Hákon rode on his way till he came to King Steinkel east in Sweden; and there he remained during the summer. King Harald afterwards returned to the town. He journeyed to Trondheim in summer, and dwelt there during the summer with his followers, but in fall returned east to Vík.

 

Chapter 70. The King Is Denied His Revenues from the Upplands

 

Earl Hákon straightway returned to Uppland in summer as soon as he learned that the king had journeyed north, and stayed there till the king returned to the south. Thereupon the earl journeyed east to Vermaland and dwelt there a long time during the winter. King Steinkel gave the earl the revenues from that district. As winter wore on he journeyed west, to Raumaríki, accompanied by a great host which the people from Gautland and Vermaland had gotten together for him. Then he levied the rents and revenues from Uppland which belonged to him. Thereupon he returned east to Gautland and remained there in the spring following.

 

King Harald resided in Ósló during the winter and sent his men to the Uppland districts to fetch the revenues, rents, and fines due him. But the Uppland people said that they would pay all their just dues, and deliver them into Earl Hákon’s hands, as long as he lived and had not forfeited either his life or his possessions; and that winter the king received no revenues from that district.

 

Chapter 71. King Harald and King Svein Conclude Peace

 

That same winter, messages and emissaries fared between Norway and Denmark, with the intent that both Norwegians and Danes wished to arrange for peace and agreements between them and prayed the kings to be agreeable to that. These exchanges of messages seemed likely to bring about an agreement, and the result was that a meeting to come to terms about peace was set at the [Gaut Elf] River between King Harald and King Svein. And when spring came, both kings collected many troops and ships for the journey; and in one flokk the skald1 tells about both kings and their expeditions:

 

(138.)

 

505.   Steers from Seeland’s strands with
steeds-of-blueland2 he who
feeds the wolves; his fleet does
fence the Danish islands.
Gash the gold-emblazoned
galleons the waters
west of Halland while that
heavy seas assail them.

 

 

 

(139.)

 

506.   Oft, to oaths true, Harald
orders out his navy.
Svein, too, the Sound furrows,
seeking the other ruler.
Large the force the liege of
loyal Danes all summoned,
the wolves’ feeder, with fleet who
fences all bays to southward.

 

Here we are told that these two kings came to the appointed meeting agreed on between them, and that both met at the boundary, as is told in this verse:

 

(140.)

 

507.   South you sailed then, noble
sire, as all Danes wanted:
no less the cause for coming,
king, than for a battle!
Northward sailing, Svein did
seek his kingdom’s border—
windy weather swept the
wide lands—to meet Harald.

 

And when the kings met, men began to talk about peace between them; and no sooner was this matter broached than many complained about the great havoc they had suffered from pillage, harrying, and loss of life. And they held forth long about this as is told in these verses:

 

(141.)

 

508.   As they met, they uttered
angry words between them,
withering words outspoken,
wounding doughty yeomen.
Men who quit not quarrelling
constantly will hardly—
rises the rulers’ vainglory—
reach a fair agreement.

 

(142.)

 

509.   Parlous to peace grows the
princes’ rankling dudgeon.
Wise men wanting truce will
weigh all matters justly.
’Tis needful now to make this
known to the folk-rulers:
stubbornness will stir up
strife between the sea-kings.

 

Finally the most eminent men and the wisest intervened. Then a reconciliation of the two kings was brought about to this effect that Harald was to have Norway, and Svein, Denmark, to the boundaries which had been heretofore between Norway and Denmark. Neither was to make amends to the other. Incursions were to stop, and he who had made gains was to hold onto them. And this peace was to be in force as long as they lived. This agreement was confirmed by oaths. The kings gave each other hostages, as is told in this verse:

 

(143.)

 

510.   Heard I have, how, gladly
Harald and Svein each did
give the other—God had
granted it—hostages.
May all their oaths kept be
altogether, nor broken
e’er the pact of peace by
people sworn as witness.

 

King Harald fared north to Norway with his force, and King Svein sailed south to Denmark.

 

Chapter 72. Harald Defeats Earl Hákon—Thormóth Eindrithason Slays Hall

 

King Harald stayed in the district of Vík in summer, and sent his men to Uppland to gather the dues and taxes owing to him there. Then the farmers there did not pay the dues they owed the king and declared they would wait with everything till Earl Hákon returned, if indeed he did.

 

Earl Hákon at that time was inland in Gautland with a great host. When summer was nearly gone, King Harald sailed south to Konungahella. There he gathered all the light, fleet ships he could obtain and rowed up the river. He portaged around the Falls1 and moved his ships into Lake Vænir, then rowed east across the lake to where he had heard Earl Hákon was.

 

But when the earl learned about the approach of the king he came down toward the lake, unwilling that the king should harry there. Earl Hákon had a considerable force which the people of Gautland had procured for him. King Harald anchored his ships in some large river and made ready to go on land, leaving behind some of his force to guard the ships. The king himself and some of his troops rode, but by far the most walked. They had to pass through some woods, and then they encountered some swamps with bushes growing in them, and then some stony ridges. And when they had gotten up on a ridge they saw the army of the earl. A swamp lay between them. Then both drew up their battle array. Then the king ordered his men to remain sitting on the hill—“let us first see if they mean to attack us. Hákon is impatient,” he said. It was frosty weather, with some driving snow. Harald and his men sat behind their shields, but the men from Gautland were scantily clad and became chilled. The earl bade them wait till the king attacked them, so that they were on a level with them. Earl Hákon used those battle flags which King Magnús Óláfsson had possessed.

 

The lawman of the Gauts was called Thorvith. He sat on a horse, and the reins were tethered to a stump that stood in the swamp. He spoke and said, “God knows we have here a great force and exceedingly brave men. Let King Steinkel learn that we give good support to this excellent earl. I am sure that if the Norwegians attack us we shall make stanch resistance. But if your young men grumble and will not wait, then let us run no farther than to this brook here. And if the young men keep on grumbling, as I am sure will not be the case, then let us not run farther than to that hill.”

 

Just then the Norwegian force stood up and raised their war whoop, beating their shields. Thereupon the Gauts raised their war whoop. But the lawman’s horse took fright at the war whoop and jerked the reins so hard that the stump was pulled out and hit the lawman on the head. He shouted, “Shoot, you wretch of a Norwegian,” and galloped away.

 

King Harald had before told his troops, “Though we shout and halloo, let us not go down the hill before they come on against us.”

 

Now as soon as his men raised their war whoop, the earl had his standard borne before him. But when they arrived at the foot of the hill the king’s men rushed down on them. Then part of the earl’s force fell and part fled. The Norwegians did not push the pursuit long because it was late in the day. They captured there Earl Hákon’s standard and such booty of weapons and garments as they could. The king had both standards borne before him when he returned [to the lake]. They discussed whether the earl might have fallen. But when they rode down through the forest only one could ride [along the path] at one time. A man leapt across the path and ran his halberd through the man who carried the earl’s standard. He seized the standard-pole and disappeared into the forest with the standard. But when the king was told this, he said, “The earl is alive! Bring me my coat of mail!”

 

Then the king rode to his ships in the night. Many said that the earl had taken his revenge. Then Thjóthólf spoke this verse:

 

(144.)

 

511.   Fallen the flock of Steinkel’s
followers, given to Hel, who—
brought the king2 it about thus—
bid were to help Hákon.
But since help from him3 did
hapless prove, says he who
thought that best, the baron
beat a retreat quickly.

 

King Harald passed the remainder of the night on his ships; but in the morning, when dawn came, it was seen that ice had formed about the ships, and of such thickness that one could walk around them. Then the king commanded his men to chop the ice from the ships [to make a way] out into open water. So men took to chopping the ice. Magnús, King Harald’s son, steered the ship which lay farthest down the river and nearest to open water. Now when the men had cleared nearly all the ice away, a man ran along over the ice to where it was to be cut away and began to chop like one possessed. Then somebody said, “Now you can see as always that no one is as good to lend a hand in whatever is called for as is Hall, the Slayer of Kothrán. Just look how he chops the ice.”

 

Now there was a man on Magnús’ ship called Thormóth Eindrithason, and when he heard the name of Hall, the Slayer of Kothrán, he ran up to Hall and struck him a mortal blow. Kothrán was the son of Guthmund, the son of Eyólf; and Valgerth, the sister of Guthmund, was the mother of Jórunn, the mother of Thormóth. Thormóth was one year old when Kothrán was slain, and he had never seen Hall Ótryggson before.

 

image

 

Thormóth Eindrithason slays Hall on the ice.

 

By that time the ice was chopped out to open water and Magnús moved his ship into it. He hoisted sail at once and sailed west across the lake. But the king’s ship lay inmost [in the clearing made in the ice] and issued last. Hall had been a follower of the king and a great favorite of his, so the king was most furious. It was late in the day when he made harbor, and by that time Magnús had helped the slayer to escape into the woods, and now offered amends for him. But the king almost came to blows with Magnús and his men before mutual friends brought about a reconciliation.

 

Chapter 73. The King Avenges Himself on the Uppland Farmers

 

That winter, King Harald journeyed to Raumaríki with a great host. He accused the farmers of having withheld from him the dues and taxes and of having aided his enemy in hostile actions against him. He had the farmers seized. Some he had maimed, others killed, and of many he confiscated all their property. All those who could, fled. He had the district burned and laid waste far and wide. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(145.)

 

512.   Direly the Danes’ humbler
dealt with Raumaríki:
harshly Harald’s men did
harry ’mong the franklins.
Farms were fired in vengeance
fierce by the king, while tow’ring
flames took down the farmers’
froward bearing toward him.

 

Thereupon King Harald marched up to Heithmork, burning and ravaging there no less than in Raumaríki. From there he proceeded to Hathaland, and thence to Hringaríki, burning and harrying. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(146.)

 

513.   Burned the goods of grudging
grangers, fire seized shingles.
The unbeaten battle-lord dealt
blows to men of Heithmork.
Begged for their lives luckless
landholders of Hringshire;
nor was lifted Logi’s-
loathly-doom1 ere they rued it.

 

After that, the farmers submitted unconditionally to the king.

 

Chapter 74. The King’s Feud with the People of Uppland Continues

 

After the death of King Magnús, fifteen years elapsed before the battle off Níz River, and two more before Harald and Svein came to an agreement. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(147.)

 

514.   Put the prince an end now—
peace began the third year—
were bucklers battered on Danish
beaches—to horrid warfare.

 

After this peace with Denmark, the feud of the king with the people of the Uppland districts lasted for a year and a half. As says Thjóthólf:

 

(148.)

 

515.   Hard is ’t to tell, how that,
high-handed, the atheling
taught the oafs of Uppland
idle to keep their ploughshares.1
Regard so great has the
gallant chieftain won him,
these three half-years, that, hear I,
hardly will’t be forgotten.

 

Chapter 75. Of the Sons of King Eadward of England

 

Eadward, the son of Æthelred, ruled over England after the death of his brother Hortha-Knút. He was named Eadward the Good. And he was that. The mother of King Eadward was Queen Emma, daughter of Richard, earl of Rouen. Her brother was Earl Robert, the father of William the Bastard, who then was duke of Rouen in Normandy. King Eadward was married to Queen Eadgyth, the daughter of Earl Godwine, the son of Wulfnoth. The brothers of Eadgyth were Earl Tostig—he was the oldest—the second, Earl Morkere, the third, Earl Wæltheow, the fourth, Earl Svein, the fifth, Harold. He was the youngest. He was brought up at the court of King Eadward as his foster son. The king loved him exceedingly and adopted him as his son, being childless himself.

 

Chapter 76. Harold, the Son of Earl Godwine, Is Engaged to Earl William’s Daughter

 

One summer Harold, the son of Godwine, was to journey to Bretland [Wales] by ship. But when they left harbor they had headwinds and were driven out to sea. They reached land to the west [south] in Normandy after having weathered a dangerous storm. They anchored by the town of Rouen and found there Earl William. He received Harold and his followers graciously. Harold remained there a long time during the fall, enjoying the earl’s hospitality, because the storms continued and it was not feasible to go out to sea.

 

But when winter approached, the earl and Harold discussed the latter’s remaining there during the winter. Harold sat in the high-seat, with the earl on one side and the earl’s wife on the other. She was more beautiful than any other woman men had known. At table they all always talked together for entertainment. The earl most often went to bed early, but Harold sat up long evenings, talking with the earl’s wife. Thus it continued for a long time during the winter. One time when they were conversing together she said, “Now the earl has spoken to me about it and asked what we talked about so constantly, and now he is furious.”

 

Harold replied, “Then we shall let him know by the soonest what we have been talking about.” The next day Harold asked the earl to speak with him, and they went into the conference room. The earl’s wife and their councillors were present also. Then Harold spoke as follows: “I shall have to tell you, earl, that more was in my mind in coming here than I have given you to understand. It is my intention to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage. This I have frequently discussed with her mother, and she has promised to support my suit with you.”

 

Now as soon as Harold had proposed this, all those who heard it were favorably inclined and lent their support to it before the earl. And the outcome of it was that the maiden was betrothed to Harold. But because she was young, it was agreed that they were to wait several years for the marriage.

 

Chapter 77. By a Ruse Harold Is Made King of England

 

Now when spring came, Harold got his ship ready for his departure. The earl and he parted as great friends. Harold sailed to England and joined King Eadward’s court, and never afterwards returned to France to fetch his bride. Eadward was king of England for twenty-three years and died of a malady in London on the fifth of January (1066). He was buried in Saint Paul’s Church, and Englishmen considered him a saint.

 

At that time the sons of Earl Godwine were the most powerful men in England. Tostig had been put in command of the army of the king of England; and he was charged with the defence of the country when the king began to grow aged. He was chief over all the other earls. Harold his brother always was nearest [to the king] in all services, and guarded all the treasures of the king.

 

It is told that when the king was near death, Harold was present with few others. Then Harold bent down over the king and said, “I call you all to witness that the king just now gave me the kingdom and all power in England.” A short while afterwards the king’s [lifeless] body was lifted out of the bed. The same day there was a meeting of the chieftains, and the succession to the kingship was discussed. Then Harold produced his witnesses that King Eadward in his dying hour had bestowed the kingdom on him. And the meeting ended with Harold being chosen king and consecrated as such on the thirteenth day afterwards in Saint Paul’s Church. Then all chieftains swore allegiance to him, and all the people.

 

But when Earl Tostig, his brother, learned of that he took it in ill part, thinking he was no less entitled to the crown. “It is my wish,” he said, “that the chieftains of the land choose him as king whom they deem most fitting.” And these words passed between the brothers. King Harold declared that he would not surrender the crown, seeing that he now had ascended the throne in the place designated for that, and had since been anointed and consecrated as king. Also, he had on his side the great majority of the people. Besides, he had all the king’s treasuries in his keeping.