Genealogy Index | Orme in Icelandic Sagas
Hakon, King Sigurd's son, was chosen chief of the army that had followed King Eystein, and his followers gave him the title of king, although he was only ten years old. With him were Sigurd, a son of Halvard Hauld of Reyr, and Andreas and Onund, the sons of Simon, his foster-brothers, and many chiefs, friends of King Sigurd and King Eystein. They all went to Gautland.
King Inge took possession of all the estates they had left behind, and declared them banished. Then King Inge went to Viken, and sometimes to the north of the country.
Gregorius Dagson was in Konungahella, where the danger was greatest, and had with him a strong and handsome body of men, with which he defended the country.
In the summer, Hakon came with his men and went to Konungahella with a numerous and handsome troop. Gregorius was in the town at that time, and summoned the peasants and townspeople to a great meeting. He asked for their assistance, but he thought the people were against him and he did not really trust them.
Gregorius took two ships to Viken, he was feeling very downcast. He expected to meet King Inge there, having heard he was coming with a great army to Viken. When Gregorius had sailed a short distance to the north he met Simon Skalp, Haldor Brynjolfson, and Gyrd Amundason, King Inge's foster-brothers. Gregorius was delighted at this meeting, and turned towards Konungahella with them, between them they had eleven ships.
As they were rowing to Konungahella, Hakon was holding a meeting outside the town and saw their approach. Sigurd of Reyr said, "Gregorius must be mad to come with so few men, he is throwing himself into our hands."
Gregorius disembarked opposite the town to wait for King Inge, but he did not come. King Hakon put himself in battle order in the town, and appointed Thorliot Skaufaskalle, who was a Viking and a robber, to be captain of the men in the merchant ships that were afloat in the river. King Hakon and Sigurd were within the town, and gathered the men on the piers, for all the townspeople had accepted Hakon as their rightful King.
Gregorius rowed up the river, and let the ship drift down towards Thorliot with the current. They shot arrows at each other until Thorliot and his men jumped overboard. Some of them were killed, but some escaped to the land.
Then Gregorius rowed to the piers, and had a gangplank thrown down at the feet of Hakon's men. There his standard bearer was slain, just as he was going to step on shore. Gregorius ordered Hal, a son of Audun Halson, to pick up the banner and he bore the banner up to the pier. Gregorius followed close behind him, holding his shield over their heads and protecting Hal as well as himself.
When Gregorius was on the pier, Hakon's men recognised him and gave way, making room for him on every side. This enabled more men to land from the ships, and then Gregorius made a determined attack with his men. Hakon's men first moved back, and then they retreated to the town. Gregorius pursued them eagerly and drove them from the town twice, killing many of them. By all reports this was a glorious victory, for Hakon had more than 4000 men, and Gregorius not fully 400.
After the battle, Gregorius said to Hal Audunson, "Many men, in my opinion, are more agile in battle than you Icelanders are, for you are not so exercised as we Norwegians; but none, I think, are so skilled with weapons as you are."
King Inge arrived soon after, and killed many of the men who had taken part with Hakon. He made some pay heavy fines, burnt the houses of others, and some he drove out of the country, or treated badly in other ways.
Hakon fled to Gautland with all his men, but when winter came he went by the upper road to Throndhjem, and arrived there before Easter. The Throndhjem people received him well, for they had always served under that shield. It is said that the Throndhjem people took Hakon as king on the terms that he should have from Inge the third part of Norway, as his father had before him.
King Inge and Gregorius were in Viken, and Gregorius wanted to make an expedition against the party in the north; but it came to nothing that winter because many spoke against it.
King Hakon left Throndhjem in spring with thirty ships, seven of which sailed ahead and plundered in North and South More. Never before had there been plundering between the two towns (Bergen and Nidaros), at least not in living memory.
Jon the son of Halkel Huk collected armed peasants and defended against Hakon. He took Kolbein Ode prisoner and killed every woman's son of them in his ship. Then they searched for the others and found them all together in the other six ships. They fought with them, but his father Halkel did not come to his assistance as he had promised and many good peasants were killed, Jon himself was wounded.
Hakon headed south to Bergen with his army, but when he came to Stiornvelta he heard that King Inge and Gregorius had arrived at Bergen a few nights before, so he did not go there. They sailed the outer course south past Bergen and met three ships of King Inge's fleet, which had lagged behind on the voyage from the east. On board of them were Gyrd Amundason, King Inge's foster-brother, who was married to Gyrid, a sister of Gregorius, and also lagman Gyrd Gunhildson, and Havard Klining. King Hakon had Gyrd Amundason and Havard Klining put to death; but took lagman Gyrd south, and then went east to Viken.
When King Inge heard of this he sailed east after them, and they met in the Gaut River. King Inge went up the north arm of the river, and sent out spies to get news of Hakon and his fleet; but he himself landed at Hising, and waited for his spies. When the spies came back they went to the king they said that they had seen King Hakon's forces, and all of his ships lay with the stems of their vessels tied to stakes in the river. They had two great East-country trading vessels, which lay outside of the fleet, and on both these were built high wooden stages (castles). When King Inge heard the preparations they had made, he ordered a trumpet to call a house-meeting of all the men. When the meeting was seated he asked his men for advice, particularly his brother-in-law Gregorius Dagson, Erling Skakke, and other barons and ship-commanders. He told them of Hakon's preparations.
Gregorius Dagson replied first, and made his mind known with the following words: "Sometimes we have met Hakon, and generally he had the most people, but still they fell short in battle against us. Now we have by far the greatest force. It seems a good opportunity for the men who recently lost gallant relatives because of Hakon to take their revenge. Hakon's army has fled before us the greater part of the summer, we have often said that if they waited for us we would have a brush with them. Now I will tell my opinion, which is, that I will engage them, if it be agreeable to the king's pleasure. I think it will go as before, they will fall back before us if we attack them bravely; and I shall always attack where others may think it most difficult."
The speech was received with much applause, and all declared that they were ready to engage in battle against Hakon. Then they rowed up the river with all the ships, until they came in sight of each other, and then King Inge turned off from the river current under the island. The king addressed the barons again, and told them to prepare for battle. He turned to Erling Skakke, and told him that he had more understanding and knowledge in fighting battles than any other man in the army, although some were more hot. The king then addressed himself to several of the barons, speaking to each by name; and ended by suggesting that initially each man should make his attack where he thought it would be of advantage, and after that they would all act together.
Erling Skakke replied to the king's speech: "It is my duty not to be silent; and I shall give my advice, since it is desired. The resolution now adopted is contrary to my judgment; for I call it foolhardy to fight under these circumstances, although we have so many and such fine men. Supposing we make an attack on them, and row up against this river-current? One in three men must be employed in rowing only, another must be covering the rower with a shield. What have we then to fight with but one third of our men? It appears to me that men can be of little use in the battle when they are sitting at their oars with their backs turned to the enemy. Give me some time for consideration, and I promise you that before three days are over I shall fall upon some plan by which we can come into battle with advantage."
It was evident from Erling's speech that he was against an attack; but it was urged by many who thought that Hakon would now, as before, take to the land. "And then he will get away again" they said; "but now they have but few men, and we have their fate in our hands." Gregorius said little, other than that he had no better advice to give than they had already heard.
Then King Inge said to Erling, "We will follow your advice with regard to the manner of attacking; but seeing how eager our counsellors are for battle, we shall make the attack today."
Erling replied, "All of our light vessels should row outside the island, and up the east arm of the river, then drift down with the current and try to cut them loose from the piles. Then our large ships can row against them from below here. I cannot tell until it is tried, whether those of you who are now so furious will be much brisker at the attack than I will be." This advice was approved by all.
There was a ness stretched out between their fleet and Hakon's, so that they could not see each other. When Hakon and his men, who had taken counsel with each other in a meeting, saw the boats rowing down the river, some thought King Inge intended to give them battle; but many believed they did not dare, for it looked as though the attack was given up. They were very confident, both in their preparations and men. There were many great people with Hakon: they were Sigurd of Reyr, and Simon's sons; Nikolas Skialdvarson; Eindride, a son of Jon Mornef, who was the most gallant and popular man in the Throndhjem country; and many other barons and warriors.
When they saw that King Inge's men with many ships were rowing out of the river, Hakon and his men believed they were going to flee. They cut their mooring ropes, seized their oars, and rowed after them in pursuit. The ships moved fast with the current; but when they came further down the river, abreast of the ness, they saw King Inge's main strength lying ready at the island Hising. King Inge's people saw Hakon's ships under way, and believed that they were coming to attack them. There was great bustle and clash of arms, and they encouraged each other by a great war-shout.
Hakon's fleet turned towards the land, where there was a bay in the turn of the river, and there was no current. They made ready for battle and carried land-ropes to the shore, turning the stems of their ships outwards and binding them all together. They laid the large East-country traders outside the other vessels, one above and the other below, binding them to the longships. In the middle of the fleet lay the king's ship, and next to it Sigurd's; and on the other side of the king's ship lay Nikolas, and next to him Endride Jonson. All the smaller ships lay further off, and they were all almost fully loaded with weapons and stones.
Then Sigurd of Reyr made the following speech: "At last, we will meet King Inge in battle. We have long prepared ourselves for this; and many of our comrades have boasted that they would never flee from or submit to King Inge and Gregorius, and now let them remember their words. But we who have sometimes got the toothache in our conflicts with them, speak less confidently; for very often we have come away without glory. Nevertheless, it is now time to fight manfully and stand steadfast; for the only escape for us is in victory. Although we have fewer men than they, luck will determine which side shall have the advantage, and God knows that the right is on our side. Inge has killed two of his brothers; and it is obvious to all men that the reward he intends to give King Hakon for his father's murder is to murder him too, as well as his other relations, which will be seen this day to be his intent. King Hakon desired from the beginning no more of Norway than the third part, which his father had possessed, and which was denied him; and yet, in my opinion, King Hakon has a better right to inherit after his father's brother, King Eystein, than Inge or Simon Skalp, or the other men who killed King Eystein. Many of them who would save their souls, and yet have defiled their hands with such bloody deeds as Inge has done, must think it a presumption before God that he takes the name of king; and I wonder God suffers such monstrous wickedness as his; but it may be God's will that we shall now put him down. Let us fight manfully, and God will give us victory; and, if we fall, will reward us for not allowing the might of the wicked to prevail over us. Go forth with confidence, and have no fear when the battle begins. Let each watch over his own and his comrade's safety, and God protect us all."
Sigurd's speech was well received and all promised to do their duty. King Hakon went on board of the great East-country ship, and a wall of shields was made around him; but his standard remained on the long-ship in which it had been before.
Now we must tell about King Inge and his men. When they saw that King Hakon and his army were ready for battle, and only the river was between them, they sent a light vessel to recall the rest of the fleet which had rowed away. Meanwhile, King Inge waited for them and arranged his troops for the attack. Then the chiefs consulted in presence of the army, and told their opinions; first, which ships should lie nearest to the enemy; and then where each should attack. Then Gregorius spoke: "We have many fine men; and it is my advice, King Inge, that you do not take part in the assault with us, for everything is preserved if you are safe. No man knows where an arrow may hit, even from the hands of a bad bowman. They have prepared themselves so that missiles and stones can be thrown from the high stages upon the merchant ships, so there will be less danger for those who are farthest from them. They do not more men than we barons can cope with. I will lay my ship alongside their largest ship, and I expect the conflict between us will be but short; for it has often been so in our former meetings, even with less men than we have now."
All thought well of the advice that the king himself should not take part in the battle. Then Erling Skakke said, "I agree to the counsel that you, sire, should not go into the battle. It appears to me that their preparations are such that we must be careful not to suffer a defeat, and whole limbs are the easiest cured. In the counsel that we held earlier, many opposed what I said and you said then that I did not want to fight. Now I think the business has altered its appearance, and greatly to our advantage, since they have hauled off from the piles, so now I do not dissuade from giving battle, for I see the advantage that all are aware of. It is necessary to put an end to this robber band who have gone over the whole country with pillage and destruction, in order that people may cultivate the land in peace, and serve a king so good and just as King Inge who has long had trouble and anxiety from the haughty unquiet spirit of his relations, although he has been a shield of defence for the whole people, and has been exposed to manifold perils for the peace of the country."
Erling spoke well and long, and many other chiefs also; and all to the same purpose, urging to battle. Meanwhile they waited until all the fleet was assembled. King Inge had the ship Baekisudin and at the request of his friends, he did not join the battle, his ship remained at the island.
When the army was ready they rowed briskly against the enemy, and both sides shouted a war-cry. Inge's men did not tie their ships together, but left them loose because they had to row across the current, which made the large ships rock wildly. Erling Skakke laid his ship beside King Hakon's ship, and ran the stem between his and Sigurd's ship, by which the battle began. But Gregorius's ship swung upon the ground, and keeled over so that at first she could not come into the battle. Hakon's men saw this they laid themselves against her and attacked Gregorius's ship on all sides. Ivar, Hakon Mage's son, laid his ship so that the stems struck together; and he got a boat-hook fastened on Gregorius, on that part of his body where the waist is smallest, and dragged him to him. Gregorius stumbled against the ship's rails; but the hook slipped to one side, otherwise Gregorius would have been dragged overboard. Gregorius, however, was but little wounded, for he was wearing a coat of plate armour. Ivar called out to him, that he had a "thick bark." Gregorius replied, that if Ivar went on so he would "require it all, and not have too much."
Gregorius and his men were about to jump overboard onto the land, but Aslak Unge threw an anchor into their ship, and dragged them off the ground. Then Gregorius laid himself against Ivar's ship, and they fought a long while; but Gregorius's ship being both higher sided and more strongly manned, many people fell in Ivar's ship, and some jumped overboard. Ivar was so severely wounded that he could not take part in the fight. When his ship was cleared of the men, Gregorius let Ivar be carried to the shore, so that he could escape; and from that time they were constant friends.
When King Inge saw that Gregorius was aground, he encouraged his crew to row to his assistance. He said, "It was bad advice that we should remain here while our friends are in battle, for we have the largest and best ship in all the fleet. But now I see that Gregorius, the man to whom I owe the most, is in need of help; so we must hasten to the fight where it is sharpest. It is only right that I should be in the battle, for the victory will belong to me, if we win it. Even if I knew beforehand that our men were not to win the battle, our place would still be where our friends are; for I can do nothing if I lose the men who are justly called the defence of the country, who are the bravest, and have long ruled for me and my kingdom."
At that he ordered his banner raised and they rowed across the river. The battle raged, but the king could not get room to attack because the ships were so tightly packed in front of him. First he lay under the East-country trading ship, and from it they threw spears down upon his vessel, and such large stones that it was impossible to hold out longer there, and he had to haul off. When the king's people saw that he was there they made place for him, and then he laid alongside of Eindride Jonson's ship.
King Hakon's men abandoned the small ships, and went on board the large merchant vessels; but some of them sprang on shore. Erling Skakke and his men had a severe conflict. Erling himself was on the forecastle, he called his forecastlemen and ordered them to board the king's ship; they answered this was no easy matter, for there were beams above with an iron comb on them. Then Erling himself went to the bow, and stayed there until they had succeeded in boarding the king's ship. The ship was cleared of men on the bows, and the whole army gave way. Many sprang into the water, many fell, but the greater number got to the land.
King Inge granted life and peace to Nikolas Skialdvarson when his ship was deserted, and Nikolas went into King Inge's service, remaining in it as long as the king lived. Eindride Jonson leaped on board of King Inge's ship when his own was cleared of men, and begged for his life. King Inge wished to grant it, but Havard Klining's son ran up and gave him a mortal wound, saying that Eindride had been the cause of his father's death. There was much lamentation at Eindride's death, principally in the Throndhjem district. Many of Hakon's people fell here, but not many chiefs. Few of King Inge's people fell, but many were wounded. King Hakon fled up the country and King Inge went north to Viken with his troops, he and Gregorius remained in Viken all winter.
When King Inge's men, Bergliot and his brothers, sons of Ivar of Elda, came from the battle to Bergen, they killed Nickolas Skeg, who had been Hakon's treasurer, and then went north to Throndhjem. King Hakon came north before Yule and Sigurd was sometimes home at Reyr; for Gregorius, who was closely related to Sigurd, had obtained life and safety for him from King Inge, so that he retained all his estates. King Hakon was in the merchant-town of Nidaros in Yule; and one evening in the beginning of Yule his men fought in the room of the court, in this affray eight men were killed and many were wounded.
On the eighth day of Yule, King Hakon's man Alf Rode, son of Ottar Birting, went to Elda with about eighty men. He returned unexpectedly in the night, turning on the people, who were very drunk, and setting fire to the room; but they went out, and defended themselves bravely. Thirty men died, including Bergliot, Ivar's son, and Ogmund, his brother, and many more.
Andres Simonson, King Hakon's foster- brother, died in the merchant town that winter and his death was much deplored. Erling Skakke and Inge's men, who were in Bergen, threatened that they would proceed against Hakon and his men; but it came to nothing. Gregorius sent word from the east, from Konungahella, that if he was as close to Hakon as Erling and his men, he would not be sitting quietly in Bergen while Hakon was killing King Inge's friends and their comrades in war north in the Throndhjem country.
In the spring, King Inge and Gregorius left the east and came to
Bergen; but as soon as Hakon and Sigurd heard that Inge had left
Viken, they went there by land. When King Inge and his people came to
Bergen, a quarrel arose between Haldor Brynjolfson and Bjorn
Nikolason. One of Bjorn's house-servants met one of Haldor's at the
pier and asked why he looked so pale. He replied, because he had been
"I could not look so pale if I tried, at merely being bled."
Haldor's man retorted, "I think that you would have borne it worse, and less manfully."
This was enough to begin the quarrel. Afterwards one word followed another, until from brawling they came to fighting. It was reported to Haldor Brynjolfson, who was in the house drinking, that his house-servant was wounded down on the pier and he went there immediately. Bjorn's house-servants had come there first, and as Haldor thought his man had been badly treated, he went up to them and beat them. It was reported to Bjorn Buk that the people of Viken were beating his house-servants on the pier. Bjorn and his house-servants took their weapons and hurried down to the pier to avenge their men, and a bloody strife began.
It reported to Gregorius that his relation Haldor required assistance, and that his house-servants were being cut down in the street; at which Gregorius and his men ran to the place in their armour. Then it was reported to Erling Skakke that his sister's son Bjorn was fighting with Gregorius and Haldor down on the piers, and that he needed help. He went there with a great force and rallied his men, saying it would be a great disgrace if the Viken people should trample upon them in their own native place. Thirteen men were killed, of whom nine were killed on the spot and four died of their wounds later, many others were wounded less seriously.
When the word came to King Inge that Gregorius and Erling were fighting on the piers, he hurried there, and tried to separate them; but could do nothing because they were so angry on both sides. Gregorius called to Inge, and told him to go away; because it was no use trying to come between them as matters now stood. He said that it would be the greatest misfortune if the king became involved; for he could not be certain that there were not people in the fray who would commit some great misdeed if they had opportunity. King Inge retired to a safe distance. When the greatest tumult was over, Gregorius and his men went to Nikolas church, followed by Erling and his men, they called and taunted each other. King Inge came a second time to pacify them and both agreed that he should mediate between them.
When King Inge and Gregorius heard that King Hakon was in Viken, they went east with many ships; but King Hakon fled from them, and there was no battle. Then King Inge went to Oslo, and Gregorius to Konungahella.
Soon after, Gregorius heard that Hakon and his men were at a farm called Saurby, which lies beside the forest. Gregorius hurried there in the night; and supposing that King Hakon and Sigurd would be in the largest of the houses, set fire to the buildings there. But Hakon and his men were in the smaller house and seeing the fire they came out to help their people. There Munan fell, a son of Ale Uskeynd, a brother of King Sigurd Hakon's father. Gregorius and his men killed him because he was helping people to escape from the burning house. Some escaped, but many were killed.
Asbjorn Jalda, who had been a very great viking, escaped from the house, but was badly wounded. A peasant met him and he offered the man money to let him get away, but the peasant replied that he would do as he pleased; and adding that he had often been in fear of his life because of him, he killed him. King Hakon and Sigurd escaped, but many of their people were killed.
Gregorius returned home to Konungahella. Soon after, King Hakon and Sigurd went to Haldor Brynjolfson's farm of Vettaland and set fire to the house. Haldor went out, and was cut down instantly with his servants; and in all there were about twenty men killed. Sigrid, Haldor's wife, was a sister of Gregorius, and they allowed her to escape into the forest in her night-dress only; but they took with them Amunde, the five year old son of Gyrd Amundason and of Gyrid Dag's daughter, a nephew of Gregorius.
When Gregorius heard the news he took it much to heart and enquired carefully where they were. Gregorius set out from Konungahella late in Yule, and came to Fors the thirteenth day of Yule. He remained there a night, and heard vespers on the last day of Yule, which was a Saturday, and the holy Evangel was read before him. When Gregorius and his followers saw the men of King Hakon and Sigurd, the king's force appeared to them smaller than their own. There was a river called Befia between them, where they met; and there was unsound ice on the river, for there was a stream running under the ice.
King Hakon and his men had cut a rent in the ice, and laid snow over it, so that nobody could see it. When Gregorius came to the river, the ice appeared to him unsound, so he advised the people to cross the river using a nearby bridge. The peasant-troops replied that they did not know why he should be afraid to go across the ice to attack so few people as Hakon had, and the ice was good enough. Gregorius said it was seldom necessary to encourage him to show bravery, and it should not be so now. Then he ordered them to follow him, and not to be standing on the land while he was on the ice, and he said that it was their idea to go out upon the dangerous ice, but he had no wish to do so, or to be led by them. Then he ordered the banner to be advanced, and immediately went out on the ice with the men. As soon as the peasants found that the ice was unsound they turned back. Gregorius fell through the ice, but the water was not deep, and he told his men to take care. There were not more than twenty men with him, the others having turned back.
A man of King Hakon's troop shot an arrow at Gregorius, which hit him under the throat, and thus ended his life. Gregorius fell, and ten men with him. It is the talk of all men that he had been the most gallant man in Norway that any man then living could remember; and also he behaved the best towards Icelanders of any chief since King Eystein the Elder's death. Gregorius' body was carried to Hofund, and interred at Gimsey Isle, in a nunnery which is there, of which Gregorius's sister, Baugeid, was then the abbess.
Two bailiffs went to Oslo to bring the news to King Inge. When
they arrived they asked to speak to the king: and he asked, what news
they brought. "Gregorius Dagson's death," said they.
"How did it happen?" asked the king. When they had told him how it happened, he said, "They that gave the most advice had the least understanding."
It is said he took it so much to heart that he cried like a child.
When he recovered himself he said, "I wanted to go to Gregorius as
soon as I heard of Haldor's murder; I did not think that Gregorius
would sit long before thinking of revenge. But the people here would
think nothing so important as their Yule feasts, and nothing could
move them away. I am confident that if I had been there, he would
either have proceeded more cautiously, or Gregorius and I would now
be sharing a grave. Now he is gone, the man who has been my best
friend, and more than any other has kept the kingdom in my hands. I
think it will be but a short space between us. Now I make an oath to
go forth against Hakon, and one of two things will happen: either I
will meet my death, or we will walk over Hakon and his people. Such a
man as Gregorius is never avenged, even if they all pay the penalty
of their lives for this deed."
There was a man present who replied, "You need not seek after them, for they intend to seek you."
Kristin, King Sigurd's daughter and King Inge's cousin, was then in Oslo. The king heard that she intended going away. He sent a message to her to enquire why she wished to leave the town. She thought that it was dangerous for a female to be there. The king would not let her go. "For if it goes well with me, as I hope, you will be safe here; and if I fall, my friends may not get leave to dress my body; but you can ask permission, and it will not be denied you, and thereby you will best repay what I have done for you."
On Saint Blasius' day (February 3), in the evening, King Inge's spies brought him the news that King Hakon was coming towards the town. King Inge ordered the war-horns to call together all the troops from the town; and when he drew them up he counted them to be nearly 4000 men. The king let the array be long, but not more than five men deep. Then some said that the king should not be himself in the battle, as they thought the risk too great; but that his brother Orm should be the leader of the army.
The king replied, "I think if Gregorius were alive and here now, and I had fallen and was to be avenged, he would not lie concealed, but would be in the battle. Although through my ill-health I am not fit for the combat as he was, I am as willing as he would have been. Do not even think that I should not be in the battle."
People say that Gunhild, who was married to Simon, King Hakon's foster-brother, had a witch employed to sit out all night and procure the victory for Hakon; and that the answer was obtained that if they fought King Inge by night, and never by day, and then the result would be favourable. The witch was called Thordis Skeggia; but what truth there may be in the report I know not.
Simon Skalp had gone to the town, and had gone to sleep, when the war-shouts awoke him. When the night was well advanced, King Inge's spies came to him, and told him that King Hakon and his army were coming over the ice; for the ice lay the whole way from the town to Hofud Isle.
King Inge went with his army out on the ice, and he drew it up in battle order in front of the town. Simon Skalp was in that wing of the array which was towards Thraelaberg; and on the other wing, which was towards the Nunnery, was Gudrod, the king of the South Hebrides, a son of Olaf Klining, and Jon, a son of Svein Bergthor Buk. When King Hakon and his army came near to King Inge's array, both sides raised a war-shout. Gudrod and Jon gave King Hakon and his men a sign, and let them know where they were in the line; and as soon as Hakon's men in consequence turned that way, Gudrod immediately fled with 1500 men; and Jon, and a great body of men with him, ran over to King Hakon's army, and assisted them in the fight.
When this news was told to King Inge, he said, "Such is the
difference between my friends. Never would Gregorius have done so in
his life!" There were some who advised King Inge to get on horseback,
and ride from the battle up to Raumarike; "where," said they, "you
would get help enough, even this very day." The king replied, he had
no inclination to do so. "I have heard you often say, and I think
truly, that it was of little use to my brother, King Eystein, that he
took to flight; and yet he was a man distinguished for many qualities
which adorn a king. Now I, who labour under so great decrepitude, can
see how bad my fate would be if I did the same thing and fled; with
so great a difference as there is between our activity, health, and
I was in the second year of my age when I was chosen king of Norway, and I am now twenty-five; and I think I have had misfortune and sorrow under my kingly dignity, rather than pleasure and peaceful days. I have had many battles, sometimes with more, sometimes with fewer people; and it is my greatest luck that I have never fled. God will dispose of my life, and of how long it shall be; but I will never run away."
By his desertion, Jon and his troop had broken the one wing of King Inge's array. Many of those who were nearest to him had also fled, by which the whole array was dispersed, and fell into disorder. Hakon and his men went briskly forwards; and now it was near daybreak.
An assault was made against King Inge's banner, and in this conflict King Inge fell; but his brother Orm continued the battle, while many of the army fled up into the town. Twice Orm went to the town after the king's fall to encourage the people, and both times returned, and went out again upon the ice to continue the battle. Hakon's men attacked the wing of the array which Simon Skalp led; and in that assault fell King Inge's brother-in-law, Gudbrand Skafhogson. Simon Skalp and Halvard Hikre went against each other with their troops, and fought while they drew away past Thraelaberg; and in this conflict both Simon and Halvard fell.
Orm, the king's brother, gained great reputation in this battle; but eventually he was forced to retreat. The previous winter, Orm had been contracted with Ragna, a daughter of Nikolas Mase. She had been married before to King Eystein Haraldson; and the wedding was fixed for the Sunday after Saint Blasius's mass, which was on a Friday. Orm went east to the safety of Svithjod, where his brother Magnus was then king; and another brother Ragnvald was an earl there at that time. They were the sons of Queen Ingerid and Henrik Halte, who was a son of the Danish king Svein Sveinson.
The princess Kristin took care of King Inge's body, which was laid in the stone wall of Halvard's church. He had then been king for twenty-three years. In this battle many fell on both sides, but principally of King Inge's men. Of King Hakon's people fell Arne Frirekson. Hakon's men took all of the feast prepared for the wedding, and a great booty besides.
King Hakon took possession of the whole country, and distributed all the offices among his own friends, both in the towns and in the country. King Hakon and his men held a meeting in Halvard's church, where they had a private conference concerning the management of the country. Kristin the princess gave the priest who kept the church keys a large sum of money to conceal one of her men in the church, so that she might know what Hakon and his counsellors intended. When she learnt what they had said, she sent a man to Bergen to her husband Erling Skakke, with the message that he should never trust Hakon or his men.
Many years before, when King Olaf received his death wound at the battle of Stiklestad, he threw aside his sword 'Hneiter'. A Swedish man, who had broken his own sword, took it up, and fought with it. When this man escaped with the other fugitives he came to Svithjod, and went home to his house. From that time he kept the sword all his days, and afterwards his son, and so relation after relation; as the sword was passed on, each man told the next the name of the sword and where it came from.
A long time after, in the days of Kirjalax the emperor of Constantinople, when there was a great body of Varings in the town. In the summer, the emperor was on a campaign and lay in the camp with his army. The Varings who had the guard and watched over the emperor, lay on the open plain outside the camp. They changed the watch with each other in the night, and those who had been relieved lay down and slept; but all completely armed. It was their custom, when they went to sleep, that each should have his helmet on his head, his shield over him, sword under the head, and the right hand on the sword-handle.
One of these comrades, whose lot it was to watch the latter part of the night, woke in the morning to find that his sword had gone. He looked about for it and spotted it lying on the flat plain at a distance from him. He got up and took the sword, thinking that his comrades who had been on watch had taken the sword from him in a joke; but they all denied it. The same thing happened three nights. Then he marvelled at it, and so did others who saw or heard of it; and people began to ask him how it could have happened. He said that his sword was called Hneiter, and had belonged to King Olaf the Saint, who had himself carried it in the battle of Stiklestad; and he also related how the sword since that time had gone from one to another.
This was told to the emperor, who called the man before him and gave him three times as much gold as the sword was worth. He had the sword laid in Saint Olaf's church, which the Varings supported, where it has been over the altar ever since. There was a baron of Norway while Harald Gille's sons, Eystein, Inge and Sigurd lived, who was called Eindride Unge; and he was in Constantinople when these events took place. He told these circumstances in Norway, according to what Einar Skulason says in his song about King Olaf the Saint, in which these events are sung.
It happened once in the Greek country, when Kirjalax was emperor there, that he made an expedition against Blokumannaland. When he came to the Pezina plains, a heathen king came against him with an innumerable host. He brought with him many horsemen, and many large waggons, in which were large holes for shooting through. When they prepared their camp they drew up their waggons, one by the side of the other, outside their tents, and dug a great ditch all around; thus making a defence as strong as a castle. The heathen king was blind.
When the Greek king came, the heathens prepared their army on the plains in front of their camp. The Greeks drew up their army opposite, and they rode on both sides to fight with each other; but it went so badly that the Greeks were compelled to retreat after suffering a great defeat, and the heathens gained a victory. Then the king drew up an army of Franks and Flemings, who rode against the heathens, and fought with them; but it went with them as with the others, many were killed, and the survivors fled.
The Greek king was very angry at his men; and they said that he should attack with his wine-bags, the Varings. The king replied that he would not throw away his jewels, and allow so few men, however brave they might be, to attack so vast an army. Then Thorer Helsifig, who was leader of the Varings replied to the king's words, "If there was burning fire in the way, my men and I would run into it, if we knew that it was to the king's advantage."
The king replied, "Call upon your holy King Olaf for help and strength." The Varings, who were 450 men, made a vow to build a church in Constantinople, at their own expense and with the aid of other good men, and have the church consecrated to the honour and glory of the holy King Olaf; and then the Varings rushed into the plain. When the heathens saw them, they told their king that there was another troop of the Greek king's army on the plain; but they were only a few men.
The king said, "Who is that venerable man riding on a white horse at the head of the troop?" They replied, "We do not see him." There was so great a difference of numbers, that there were sixty heathens for every Christian man; but the Varings went boldly to the attack. As soon as they met, terror and alarm seized the army of the heathens who began to flee; but the Varings pursued them and soon killed a great number of them. When the Greeks and Franks who had earlier fled from the heathens saw this, they rushed to join in and pursue the enemy with the others. Then the Varings had reached the camp, where the greatest defeat was given to the enemy. The heathen king was taken prisoner in the flight of his people, and the Varings kept him with them; after this the Christians captured the camp of the heathens.