Chapter 22. Magnús Is Crowned King by the Archbishop

 

Erling Skakki had a great banquet prepared in the great royal hall, which was hung with costly stuffs and tapestries and outfitted at very great expense. Both his following and all retainers were entertained there, with a great number of guests and many chieftains present. Magnús was then consecrated as king by Archbishop Eystein, 1 and at the coronation there were present five other bishops, the papal legate, and a multitude of clerics. Erling Skakki, together with twelve landed-men and the king swore oaths to obey the laws. And on the day on which the coronation took place, the king and Erling had as their guests the archbishop, the papal legate, and all the bishops, and that banquet was a most splendid one. Both father and son gave [the guests] many magnificent presents. At that time King Magnús was eight years old and had been king for three years.

 

Chapter 23. King Valdamar Reminds Erling of Their Agreement

 

Valdamar, the king of the Danes, now had learned the tidings from Norway that by this time Magnús was sole king. All other opposing forces in the country had, by that time, been dispersed. Then King Valdamar sent messengers with letters to King Magnús and Erling, reminding them of the special agreement which Erling had made with King Valdamar, as was written above, that King Valdamar should have possession of Vík west to Rýgjarbit if Magnús became sole king of Norway. But when the messengers appeared at Erling’s court and showed Erling the letters of the Danish king and he understood the claims Valdamar made on Norway, he brought this matter up before other men with whom he was wont to confer, and they said with one accord that never should the Danes have a share of Norway, because everyone said that those times had been the worst in the land when the Danes had power over Norway. The messengers of the Danish king discussed their business with Erling, requesting him to come to a decision. Erling invited them to come east to Vík with him in the fall, saying that he would then arrive at a decision after he had spoken with the wisest men in Vík.

 

Chapter 24. The People of Vík Refuse to be Subjects of Denmark

 

In fall, Erling Skakki proceeded east to Vík and made his residence in Túnsberg. He sent messengers to Borg and had them call together an assembly of four districts. Thereupon Erling proceeded to Borg with his following. And when the assembly was gathered, Erling spoke and told what agreements had been made with the Danish king at the time Erling and his friends had first gathered forces. “And I am willing,” he said, “to keep all the agreements we made at that time if that meets with your wishes and has the consent of you farmers, to be subject to the king of Denmark, rather than to the king who has been consecrated and crowned to govern this land.”

 

The farmers made answer to Erling, saying, “On no account will we be subjects of the Danish king while one of us men of Vík is alive.” Then the whole crowd tumultuously shouted and cried out and begged Erling not to break the oaths he had sworn before to all the people—“to defend your son’s land, and we shall all follow you.” And so the assembly dissolved.

 

Thereupon the emissaries of the Danish king returned south to Denmark and told about the outcome of their errand as it had turned out. The Danes heaped many reproaches on Erling and all Norwegians, saying that only evil was to be expected of them. The rumor spread that the Danish king would muster an army in spring in order to harry in Norway. In the fall, Erling journeyed north [west] to Bergen. He resided there during the winter and paid out his men.

 

Chapter 25. King Valdamar Suborns the People of Trondheim

 

That winter some Danes travelled over the mountains, alleging that—as frequently was the case—they wanted to keep vigil at the shrine of Holy King Óláf. But when they arrived in the District of Trondheim, they sought out many influential men and then revealed their errand, which was that the king of Denmark had sent them to seek their friendship and ask for their welcome if he came to the land; and that in return he promised to give them both power and money. Accompanying this message was the letter and the seal of the Danish king, as also the request that the yeomen should in return send their letter and seal. They did so, and most of them turned a favorable ear to the message of the Danish king. His emissaries returned east [south] as Lent wore on.

 

Erling resided in Bergen, and as spring arrived his friends told him the rumor which they had heard from merchantmen who had arrived south from Trondheim, that the people there showed open enmity to him and that they had given notice at their assembly that if Erling ever came to Trondheim he would not round Agthaness alive. Erling said that these were false rumors and nonsense. He announced that he would sail south to Unarheim 1 for the assembly held there during Rogation Week [May 11th], and he ordered to be made ready a swift sailing ship of twenty rowers’ benches, a skiff of fifteen rowers’ benches, and also a merchant ship with provisions. And when these were ready, there arose a brisk wind from the south. On Tuesday during Rogation Week Erling had trumpet signals given that the crews were to repair to the ships, but the men were unwilling to leave the town and thought it was hard to pull against the wind. Erling put into Bishop’s Harbor to the north. There Erling spoke to the men, “You complain bitterly to have to row against the wind. Now go ahead and raise the masts, hoist the sails, and let us proceed to the north.” They did so, and sailed day and night to the north. On Wednesday in the evening they rounded Agthaness. Then they encountered a large assembly of ships—merchantmen, rowboats, and skiffs, with folks going [to the town] on Ascension Day [May 13th]—some went ahead of them, some followed. The townspeople for that reason paid no attention to the warships [coming in with them].

 

Chapter 26. Erling Mulcts the People of Trondheim

 

Erling Skakki arrived in the town at the time when matins were being said in Christ Church. He and his troops ran up into the town and they were told that Álf Hrothi, the son of Óttar Birting, a landed-man, was still at table, drinking with his followers. Erling fell upon them and killed him and most of his men. Few others were slain as most people had gone to church. That was in the night before Ascension. Early next morning Erling gave the signal for all the troops to assemble at Eyrar, and at this assembly Erling accused the people of Trondheim of treason against the king and himself, and named in particular Bárth Standali, Pál Andréásson, and Raza-Bárth—he was the king’s treasurer for the town—and also many others. They replied, trying to clear themselves of the accusation.

 

Then arose Erling’s chaplain, and held up many letters and seals, and asked them if they recognized their seals which that spring they had sent to the Danish king. And the letters were read aloud. There were present also, in Erling’s company, those Danes who in winter had gone about [with these letters]. It was Erling who had got them to do that; and they spoke before the people the words of each of them. “Those were your words, Raza-Bárth, and you beat your breast. And out of your breast came all these machinations, to begin with.”

 

Bárth replied, “Out of my mind I was, my lord, when I spoke thus.” There was no other way out for them than to let Erling be sole judge in this whole business. Then he forthwith took an immense amount of money from many [as punishment] and let all those who had been slain lie unatoned. Then he returned south to Bergen.

 

Chapter 27. King Valdamar Returns to Denmark

 

That spring, King Valdamar assembled a large fleet in Denmark, and with it sailed north to Vík. As soon as he arrived in the dominions of the king of Norway, the farmers gathered in great multitudes. The king [and his force] proceeded peaceably and quietly, but wherever they approached the mainland, people shot at them, even though there were only one or two of them, so the Danes understood the complete ill will of the people toward them. Now when they came to Túnsberg, King Valdamar called an assembly on Haugar Hill, but few or no one came to it from the countryside. Then King Valdamar spoke as follows: “It is easy to see that all the people of this country are against us. Now we have two alternatives, one to harry in the country and spare neither man nor beast; the other, to return south without having accomplished anything. And I am inclined rather to sail into the Baltic to heathen lands, of which there are plenty, and not kill Christians here, even though they have richly deserved it.” But all others [in his army] were eager to harry. Nevertheless the king prevailed, so that they returned south. Yet they plundered far and wide in outer islands and everywhere, whenever the king was not present. They sailed south to Denmark.

 

Chapter 28. Erling Pursues the Danish Fleet

 

When Erling Skakki learned that an army of Danes had arrived in Vík, he called for a general levy throughout the country, both of ships and men. That resulted in a great rush to arms, and with that host he sailed east along the land. But when he arrived at Cape Lithandisness he learned that the Danish fleet had returned south to Denmark, and that there had been much harrying in the Vík District. Then Erling gave all the levied army permission to return home. But he himself and some landed-men and a great fleet sailed south to Jutland to pursue the Danes. And when they arrived at the place called Dýrsá, he found there numerous Danish ships returning from the expedition. Erling attacked them and fought with them. The Danes quickly fled, losing many men, and Erling and his troops plundered the ships and also the market town. They obtained a tremendous amount of booty, and then returned to Norway. Then for a time there were hostilities between Norway and Denmark.

 

Chapter 29. Erling Remains as Hostage in Denmark

 

Kristín, daughter of Sigurth Jerusalemfarer and wife of Erling Skakki, travelled to Denmark, in the fall, to meet King Valdamar, her kinsman. They were the children of sisters. The king received her cordially and provided her with revenues so that she could maintain her retinue. She often spoke with the king, and he was exceedingly kind to her. And in the spring following, Kristín sent messengers to Erling, praying him to have a meeting with the Danish king and come to an agreement with him. During the following summer, Erling had his residence in Vík. He outfitted a warship and manned it with a picked crew. Then he sailed over to Jutland. He learned that King Valdamar was in Randarós. 1 Erling sailed there and arrived at the time when most people sat at table. And when they had tented and made fast their ship, Erling and eleven other men, all in coats of mail, with hoods over their helmets and swords under their cloaks, went to the king’s quarters. Dishes with food were being taken in, and the doors were open. Erling and his companions at once went in and before the high-seat. Erling spoke, “We would have safe-conduct, sir king, both here and for our return journey.”

 

The king looked at him and said, “Are you here, Erling?”

 

He answered, “Aye, I am here; and tell us quickly whether we shall have safe-conduct.” In the hall there were eighty men, all unarmed.

 

The king said, “Safe-conduct you shall have as you ask. I shall not behave in a dastardly way to any man who seeks me out.” Then Erling kissed the king’s hand, and then left the hall and went to his ship. He dwelled there for a time with the king. They discussed the terms between themselves and their lands, and came to the agreement that Erling should remain as a hostage with the Danish king, and in return Ásbjorn Snara, brother of Archbishop Absalón, was to go to Norway as a hostage.

 

Chapter 30. Erling Becomes Earl Under Valdamar

 

One time, when King Valdamar and Erling were talking together, Erling said, “My lord, to come to an agreement between us it would seem to me best that you obtain all that portion of Norway which was promised you in our special agreement. And if so, what chieftain would you assign to it—some Dane, perchance? No,” he continued, “hardly any Danish chieftain would care to go to Norway, and there have to deal with a stubborn and dis-obedient people when they had it easy with you here. I have sought you out because I would on no account be without your friendship. Men have before come hither to Denmark from Norway, men such as Hákon Ivarsson and Finn Árnason; and King Svein, your kinsman, made both of them earls. I am now a man of no less power than they were in their time, and the king gave them revenues in Halland, a land of which he before had possession. Now it would seem to me you could well afford to grant me this land [of Vík], if I become your retainer and hold it in fief from you. Nor will King Magnús, my son, deny me that. But to you I would be in duty bound for all service to you, such as appertains to the title of earl.”

 

These arguments, and others of a like nature, Erling produced; with the result, finally, that Erling swore fealty to King Valdamar. And the king led Erling to [an earl’s] seat, giving him the earldom of Vík to govern as a fief. Thereupon Erling sailed home to Norway, and from that time on was an earl for the remainder of his life, remaining at peace with the Danish king ever after.

 

Erling had four illegitimate sons. One was called Hreithar, another, Ogmund. They were sons of different mothers. A third son was called Finn, a fourth, Sigurth. Their mother was Ása the Fair. They were younger than the others. With Kristín Kingsdaughter Erling had a daughter whose name was Ragnhild. She was married to Jón Thorbergsson of Randaberg. Kristín left Norway with a man named Grím Rusli. They journeyed to Miklagarth, staying there for a while, and had some children together.

 

Chapter 31. Erling Captures the Ships of Óláf Guthbrandsson

 

Óláf, the son of Guthbrand Skafhoggsson and of Máría, the daughter of King Eystein Magnússon, had been fostered up at the estate of Sigurth Agnhott in the Uppland District. And when Erling was in Denmark, Óláf and his foster father Sigurth raised a troop, and many from the Upplands joined it, and Óláf was chosen king there. With these troops they went about the Upplands, sometimes in Vík and sometimes east in the Markir [Forest] District. They had no ships. When Earl Erling heard of this band, he proceeded with his troops to Vík and was in his ships during the summer, but dwelled in Ósló during the fall, and there he prepared the Yule feast. He sent out scouts into the country to reconnoiter about this band, and himself went to look for them together with Orm Kingsbrother. And when they came to the lake called———1 they captured all the ships lying there.

 

Chapter 32. Erling Is Warned of Treachery by Dreams

 

The priest who sang mass at the estate of Rythjokul, which is near the lake, invited the earl and his followers to a banquet at Candlemas [February 2nd]. The earl promised to come, considering it a good thing to hear the divine service there. They rowed across the lake in the evening before Candlemas. But this priest had another plan in mind; he sent out men to inform Óláf of Erling’s whereabouts. He gave Erling and his company strong drink in the evening, and encouraged them to drink heavily. When the earl wished to go to sleep, their beds were made for them in the banquet hall. When they had slept but a little while, the earl awoke and asked if it was time for the matins. The priest said it was still early in the night, and told them to sleep at their ease. The earl said: “I am dreaming so much tonight, and I am sleeping poorly.” Then he fell asleep, but woke up again and bade the priest get up and sing mass. The priest asked the earl to go to sleep, saying it was [barely] midnight. The earl lay down and slept a short while, then jumped out of his bed and ordered his men to put on their clothes. They did so and took up their arms, then went to church and deposited them outside whilst the priest sang the matins.

 

Chapter 33. Óláf Ill-Luck Fails to Capture Erling

 

Óláf got the message in the evening; and during the night they travelled six rastir,1 which people considered a huge distance, and arrived at Rythjokul at matins. It was pitch dark night. Óláf and his men rushed at the hall, raising their battle cry, and killed some who had not gone to matins. But when Erling and his men heard the battle cry, they ran to fetch their weapons, and then took the way down to the ships. Óláf and his men encountered them by a [stone] fence, and there was a fight. Erling and his men retreated along the fence, which protected them. Their number was much smaller than that of Óláf. Many of them fell, and many were wounded. What helped them most was that Óláf’s men could not distinguish them as it was so dark. Erling’s men made straight for the ships. In that fight fell Ari Thorgeirsson, the father of Bishop Guthmund, and many others of Erling’s bodyguard. Erling received a wound on his left side, but some men say that he accidentally directed the sword against himself when he drew it. Orm, too, was sorely wounded. With great difficulty they escaped onto the ships and at once pulled away.

 

It was said that Óláf and his men had the worst kind of ill luck in this encounter, seeing how Erling and his men were delivered into their hands, if only he had proceeded with more sense. Thereafter, people called him Óláf Ill-Luck, and some called his troops “hoodmen.” They moved with their band around the country as before, but Earl Erling retired to Vík to his ships, and spent the following summer there. Óláf was, sometimes, in the Uppland districts and sometimes, east in the Markir District. They held that band together a second winter.

 

Chapter 34. Erling Defeats Óláf Ill-Luck

 

In the following spring, Óláf and his men came down to Vík and collected the royal revenues there, remaining there for a long time during the summer. Earl Erling learned of that and steered his fleet east to encounter them. That took place in the eastern part of the [Ósló] fjord, at a locality called Stangir. There was a great battle and Erling won the victory. Sigurth Agnhott fell there, together with many of Óláf’s men, but Óláf himself saved himself by flight. Later, he went south to Denmark and, during the following winter, stayed in Álaborg in Jutland.

In the spring following, Óláf took sick and died. He is interred by Saint Mary’s Church, and the Danes consider him a saint.