Harald Hardrade - Part 2
The following summer King Harald raised an army and went to plunder Denmark, but when he came to Fyen he found a great force assembled against him. Harald prepared to engage in a land fight. He drew up his men on board in order of battle and set Kalf Arnason at the head of one division, ordering him to make the first attack. He told Kalf where they should direct their assault, promising that he would soon make a landing with the others and come to their assistance.
As Kalf and his men were landing a force came to oppose them, and Kalf immediately engaged in battle. The battle did not last long, because Kalf was heavily outnumbered and fled with his men. The Danes pursued them vigorously, many of the Northmen fell and among them Kalf Arnason.
King Harald soon landed with his men and made his way to the battle-field. There they found Kalf's body, so they took it down to the ships. Harald and his army then penetrated far into the country, killing many people and destroying much.
Fin Arnason thought he had reason to be an enemy of the king because of his brother Kalf's death. He said the king had deceived him by making him entice his brother Kalf to come back from the West so that the king could send Kalf to his death. When word of this spread amongst the people, many said that it was very foolish of Fin to have believed that Kalf could obtain the king's sincere friendship and favour; and that the king had taken revenge for the offences that Kalf had committed against him years before.
The king let every one speek freely, and he neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, but people noticed that the king seemed pleased by what had happened.
Fin Arnason took the business so much to heart that he left the country and went to King Svein in Denmark, where he had a friendly reception. They spoke together in private for a long time; and Fin went into King Svein's service, and became his man. King Svein then gave Fin an earldom, and placed him in Halland, where he remained as earl for a long time and defended the country against the Northmen.
Ketil Kalf and Gunhild of Ringanes had a son called Guthorm, and he was a sister's son to King Olaf and Harald Sigurdson. Guthorm was a gallant man and very mature for his young age. He was often with King Harald, who loved him much, and asked his advice because Guthorm had good understanding and was very popular. Guthorm had been on raids from an early age and had marauded much in the Western countries with a large force. Ireland was for him a land of peace, he often had his winter quarters in Dublin and was on friendly terms with King Margad.
King Margad and Guthorm went on an expedition against Bretland*, where they took immense booty, but when Margad saw the quantity of silver he wanted to have it all, and forgot his friendship with Guthorm. Guthorm was ill pleased that he and his men should be robbed of their share; but the king said, "I will also have your boats. It is your choice: either to be content with what I decide, or fight us."
Guthorm was in a quandary; for it was disgraceful to give up ships and goods without striking a blow, and yet it was highly dangerous to fight the king and his force, because the king had sixteen ships and Guthorm only five. Then Guthorm asked for three days to consider the matter with his people, hoping in that time to pacify the king and come to a better arrangement through the mediation of others; but Margad refused.
It was the day before St. Olaf's day. Guthorm decided that they would rather die or conquer like men, than suffer disgrace, contempt and scorn, by submitting to so great a loss. He called upon God and his uncle Saint Olaf, and asked for their help; promising to give to the holy man's house a tenth of all their booty if they gained the victory. Then he arranged his men, placed them in battle order against the great force, prepared for battle, and made the assault. By the help of God, and the holy Saint Olaf, Guthorm won the battle. King Margad fell, and every man, old and young, who followed him.
Guthorm and all his men returned home in high spirits with all the booty they had gained by the battle. Every tenth penny of the booty they had made was taken, according to the vow, to King Olaf the Saint's shrine. There was so much silver that Guthorm had a statue made of it, with rays around the head, which was the size of his own, or of his forecastle-man's head; and the image was seven feet high. The image thus produced was given by Guthorm to King Olaf of the Saint's temple, where it has since remained as a memorial of Guthorm's victory and King Olaf the Saint's miracle.
King Harald had built a merchant town in the East at Oslo, where he often resided; for there was good supply from the extensive cultivated district in the surrounding area. It was also a convenient base to defend the country against the Danes, or to make an attack upon Denmark, which he was in the custom of doing often, although he kept no great force on foot. One summer King Harald went from there with a few light ships and a few men. He steered southwards out of Viken, and, when the wind the wind was in the right direction, he sailed over to Jutland and marauded. Then King Harald steered to Limfjord, and went into the fjord. Limfjord is so formed that its entrance is like a narrow river; but further into the fjord it spreads out into a wide sea. King Harald raided on both sides of the fjord; and when the Danes gathered together on every side to oppose him, he lay at a small island which was uncultivated.
His men were thirsty and went up into the island to seek water; but finding none, they reported it to the king. He ordered them to look for some long earthworms and when they found one they brought it to the king. He ordered the people to bring the worm to a fire, and bake it to make it thirsty. Then he ordered a thread to be tied round the tail of the worm, and to let it loose. The worm crept away immediately, while thread wound off from the spool as the worm took it away; and the people followed the worm until it burrowed down into the ground. The king ordered them to dig there for water and they found so much that they had no lack of it.
King Harald then heard from his spies that King Svein had come to the mouth of the fjord with a large fleet; but that it was too dangerous for him to come into it, as only one ship at a time could pass through the narrow entrance. King Harald then took his fleet to where the fjord was broadest, at a place called Lusbreid. There was only a narrow neck of land dividing the fjord from the West sea. King Harald's fleet rowed there in the twilight of evening; and under the cover of darkness he unloaded his ships, drew them over the neck of land into the West sea, and loaded them again before daybreak. He then steered north along the Jutland coast. After his escape Harald said that he would come to Denmark next time with more men and larger vessels. King Harald then went north to Throndhjem.
King Harald passed the winter at Nidaros and had a ship built on the beach. The ship was built of the same size as the Long Serpent, and every part of her was finished with the greatest care. On the stem was a dragons head, and on the stern a dragons tail, and the sides of the bows of the ship were gilded. The vessel had thirty-five rowers benches, and was large for that size, and was remarkably handsome; for the king had everything belonging to the ship's equipment of the best, both sails and rigging, anchors and cables. King Harald sent a message to King Svein, that he should come north in spring and they should meet at the Gaut river and fight to settle the division of the countries. The one who gained the victory would have both kingdoms.
King Harald called out the fighting men from all over Norway, and towards spring a great force was assembled. Then Harald had his great ship drawn down and put into the river Nid, and set up the dragon's head on her. Then King Harald rigged out his ship, got ready for sea, and when he had all in order went out of the river. His men rowed very skilfully and beautifully. King Harald sailed south along the land, gathering men and ships all along the coast. When they came east to Viken a strong wind came against them and the forces lay dispersed about in the harbour; some amongst the outer islands and some in the fjords. A heavy storm raged for some time and the great ship made good use of it's strong anchor. When the weather became favourable King Harald sailed eastwards to the Gaut river with his fleet and arrived there in the evening.
When the Danes heard that the Northmen's army had come to the Gaut river all who had opportunity fled. The Northmen heard that the Danish king had also called out his forces and lay in the south, partly at Fyen and partly at Seeland. When King Harald found that King Svein would not hold a meeting with him, or a fight, according to what had been agreed upon between them, he took the same course as before; he let the peasant troops return home, but kept 150 ships, with which he sailed south along Halland, where he raided all round, and then took his fleet in Lofufjord, and laid waste the country.
Soon after this King Svein came upon them with the Danish fleet, consisting of 300 ships. When the Northmen saw them King Harald ordered a general meeting of the fleet to be called by sound of trumpet; and many there said it was better to flee, as now it was not advisable to fight. The king replied, "It would be better to all lie dead one upon another than flee. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees!"
Then King Harald drew up his ships to attack, and brought forward his great dragon in the middle of his fleet. Ulf, the marshal, laid his ship by the side of the king's and ordered his men to bring her well forward. Hakon Ivarson lay outside on the other wing, and had many ships with him, all well equipped. At the extremity of the other side lay the Throndhjem chiefs, who had a great and strong force.
Svein, the Danish king, also drew up his fleet, and laid his ship forward in the center against King Harald's ship, and Fin Arnason laid his ship next; and then the Danes laid their ships, according to how bold or well-equiped they were. Then, on both sides, they tied the ships together through the middle of the fleets; but as the fleets were so large, very many ships remained loose, and each laid his ship forward according to his courage, and that was very unequal. Although the difference among the men was great, altogether there was a very great force on both sides. King Svein had six earls among the people following him.
As soon as King Harald was ready with his fleet, he ordered the war-blast to sound, and the men to rowed forward to the attack. The battle began late in the day, and became very sharp with both kings urging on their men and it continued the whole night. King Harald shot for a long time with his bow. Earl Hakon, and the people who followed him, did not tie their ships into the fleet, but rowed against the Danish ships that were loose, and slew the men of all the ships they came up against. When the Danes saw this they tried to keep out of his way, but he set upon those who were trying to escape, and they were nearly driven to flight.
Then a boat rowed towards to the earl's ship and hailed him and said that the other wing of King Harald's fleet was giving way and many of their people had fallen. The earl rowed across to the other wing and gave so severe an assault that the Danes had to retreat before him. The earl went on in this way all the night, coming forward where he was most wanted, and wherever he came none could stand against him. Towards the end of the night the greatest part of the Danish fleet broke into flight. King Harald and his men boarded King Svein's ship; all who did not jump overboard were slain.
When King Svein's banner was cut down, and his crew killed, the rest of his forces took to flight. The ships that were tied together could not be cut loose quickly enough, so the people that were in them jumped overboard. Some swam to other ships that were loose and all of King Svein's men who could do so rowed away, but a great many of them were slain. Where King Svein himself had fought, the ships were securely bound together; as a result of this more than seventy of King Svein's vessels were left behind.
King Harald tried to pursue the Danes but the ships were so tightly packed together that they could hardly move. Earl Fin Arnason would not flee; and being also shortsighted, was taken prisoner. Earl Hakon lay to the rear with his ships, while the king and the rest of the forces were pursuing the fugitives; because the earl's ships could not get through the abandoned ships that lay before him.
A man in a small boat rowed up to the earl's ship and lay alongside. The man was stout and wore a white hat. He hailed the ship, "Where is the earl?" he said.
The earl was in the fore-hold, stopping a man's blood. The earl looked at the man in the hat and asked what his name was. He answered, "I am Vandrad: speak to me, earl." The earl leant over the ship's side to him. Then the man in the boat said, "Earl, I will accept of my life from you, if you will give it."
Then the earl stood up and called two men who his dear friends, saying to them, "Go into the boat; bring Vandrad to the land; take him to my friend Karl the farmer. So that he knows these words came from me, tell Karl to let Vandrad have the horse that I gave to him yesterday, and also his saddle, and his son to attend him."
They went into the boat and took the oars in hand, while Vandrad steered. It was just about daybreak and many vessels were moving, some rowing towards the land, some towards the sea, both small and great. Vandrad steered where he thought there was most room between the vessels; and when they came near to Norway's ships the earl's men gave their names and then they were allowed to go where they pleased. Vandrad steered along the shore, and only went in towards the land when they had passed the crowd of ships.
Then they went up to Karl's farm as day was breaking. The earl's men gave him their message and Karl said they must first take some food; and he set a table before them and gave them water to wash with.
Then the housewife came into the room and said, "It is a wonder we got any sleep at all last night with all that shouting and screaming."
Karl replied, "Do you not know that the kings were fighting all night?"
She asked which had the better of it. Karl answered, "The Northmen gained." "Then," said she, "our king will have taken flight."
"Nobody knows," says Karl, "whether he has fled or is fallen."
She said, "What a useless sort of king we have! He is both slow and frightened."
Vandrad replied, "Frightened he is not; but he is unlucky."
Then Vandrad washed his hands; but he took the towel and dried them right in the middle of the cloth. The housewife snatched the towel from him, and said, "You have been brought up badly; it is wasteful to wet the whole cloth at one time."
Vandrad replied, "I may yet reach a position in the world where I will be allowed to dry myself with the middle of a towel."
Karl set a table before them and Vandrad sat down with them. They ate for a while and then went out. The horse was saddled and Karl's son ready to follow him with another horse. They rode away to the forest; and the earl's men returned to the boat, rowed to the earl's ship and told the success of their expedition.
King Harald and his men followed the fugitives only a short way, and rowed back to the place where the deserted ships lay. Then the battle-place was searched. In King Svein's ship they found a heap of dead men; but the king's body was not found, although people were certain that he had fallen. King Harald paid great attention to the dead of his own men, and had the wounds of the living bound up. The dead bodies of Svein's men were brought to the land, and he sent a message to the peasants to come and bury them. Then he had the booty divided, and this took up some time. News came that King Svein had gone to Seeland, and that all who had escaped from the battle had joined him, along with many more, and that he had a great force.
Earl Fin Arnason was taken prisoner in the battle, as before related; and when he was led before King Harald the king was very merry, and said, "Fin, fancy meeting you here, we met last in Norway. The Danish court seems to have abandoned you and it will be a troublesome business for us to drag you back to them and preserve your life."
The earl replied, "The Northmen have always found it very difficult to conquer others, and it is all the worse now that you have command of them."
Then King Harald said, "Will you accept your life and safety, although you do not deserve it?"
The earl replied, "Not from you, you dog."
The king said, "Will you accept if your relation Magnus gives you quarter?" Magnus, King Harald's son, was then steering the ship.
The earl replied, "That ill-bred youth has neither the authority nor the wit!"
The king laughed, as though he found amusement in vexing Fin. "Will you accept your life, then, from your she-relation Thorer?"
The earl replied, "Is she here?"
"She is here," said the king.
Then Earl Fin broke out with ugly and foul expressions, the like of which had seldom been heard before but which since have been preserved, as a proof that he was so mad with rage that he could not govern his tongue. "No wonder you bit us so strongly, if that rump-fed bitch was with you!"
Earl Fin kept his life and the king kept him on the ship for a while, but Fin was melancholy and obstinate in conversation. King Harald said, "I see now, Fin, that you enjoy neither my company nor that of your own relatives. I will give you leave to go to your friend King Svein."
The earl said, "I accept your offer willingly, and the sooner the better."
The king allowed Earl Fin be landed and the traders going to Halland received him well. King Harald sailed from there to Norway with his fleet; and went first to Oslo, where any of his forces who wished to go home were given leave to go.
King Svein, it is told, sat in Denmark all that winter, and still had his kingdom as before. During the winter he sent men north to Halland, to fetch Karl the farmer and his wife. When Karl came the king called him to him and asked him if he knew him, or thought he had ever seen him before. Karl replied, "I know you, sir, and knew you before, the moment I saw you; and God be praised if the small help I could give was of any use to you."
The king replied, "I am indebted to you for all the days I have left to live. Firstly, I will give you any farm in Seeland that you would like to have; and secondly, I will make you a great man, if you know how to conduct yourself."
Karl thanked the king for his promise, and said that he now had but one thing to ask. The king asked what that was. Karl said that he would like to take his wife with him. The king said, "I have met your wife, so I will not let you do that; but I will provide you with a far better and more sensible wife. Your old wife can keep the farm you had before and she will have her living from it."
The king gave Karl a great and valuable farm, and arranged a good marriage for him; and he became a considerable man. This was reported far and wide and much praised; and thus it came to be told in Norway.
King Harald stayed in Oslo the winter after the battle at the river Nis. In autumn, when the men came from the south, there was much talk and many stories about the battle which they had fought at the river Nis, and every one who had been there thought he could tell something about it. Once some of them sat in a cellar and drank, and were very merry and talkative. They talked about the river Nis battle, and who had earned the greatest praise and renown. They all agreed that no man there had been at all equal to Earl Hakon. He was the boldest in arms, the quickest, and the luckiest; what he did was of the greatest help, and he won the battle. King Harald, in the meantime, was out in the yard, and talked with some of the people. Then he went to the door of the room and said, "We would all willingly be called Hakon today." and then he went on his way.
Earl Hakon passed the winter in the Uplands, in his own domains. He was much beloved by all the Uplanders. Towards spring, that some men were sitting drinking in the town, and the conversation turned, as usual, to the river Nis battle. Some praised Earl Hakon, and some thought that others were equally deserving of praise. When they had debated for a while, one of them said, "It is possible that others fought as bravely as the earl at the river Nis; but none, I think, has had such luck as he." The others replied, that his best luck was his driving so many Danes to flight along with other men. The same man replied, "It was greater luck that he gave King Svein quarter."
One of the company said to him, "You do not know what you are saying." He replied, "I know it for certain, for the man who brought the king to the shore told me himself ."
It went, according to the old proverb, that the king has many ears. It was reported to the king, and he immediately ordered horses to be gathered, and rode away with 900 men. He rode all that night and the following day. Then they met some men who were riding to the town with mead and malt. In the king's retinue was a man called Gamal, who rode to one of the peasants who was an acquaintance of his, and spoke to him privately. "I will pay you," he said, "to ride with the greatest speed, by the shortest private paths that you know, to Earl Hakon, and tell him that the king will kill him; for the king knows that Earl Hakon set King Svein on shore at the river Nis."
They agreed on the payment. The peasant rode and came to Earl Hakon just as he was sitting drinking, and had not yet gone to bed. When the man told his errand, the earl immediately had all his moveable property taken from the farm to the forest, and all the people left the house in the night.
When the King Harald arrived at the farm he stayed there all night; but meanwhile Hakon was riding away. Hakon went east to Svithjod to King Steinkel and stayed with him all summer. King Harald returned to the town, travelled northwards to Throndhjem district, and remained there all summer; and in autumn he returned eastwards to Viken.
When Earl Hakon heard that King Harald had gone north he returned to the Uplands and remained there until the king had returned from the north. Then the earl went east into Vermaland, where he remained during the winter, and where the king, Steinkel, gave him lands. For a short time in winter he went west to Raumarike with a great troop of men from Gautland and Vermaland, and collected his taxes and duties from the Upland people, then he returned to Gautland, and remained there until spring. King Harald was in Oslo all winter, and sent his men to the Uplands to demand the taxes, together with the king's land dues, and the fines imposed by the court; but the Uplanders said while Earl Hakon still lived they would only pay their money to the earl, and the king got nothing from them that winter.
Messengers and ambassadors went between Norway and Denmark, trying to negotiate peace between their countries. A date was set for a peace conference beetween King Harald and King Svein. As spring approached, both kings assembled many ships and people for the meeting.
When the kings met, people began to talk of reconcilliation, but as soon as peace was proposed many began to complain of the damage they had sustained in raids and demanded compensation. The best men, and those who were the wisest, came between the kings, and settled the peace in this way: Harald should have Norway, and Svein Denmark, according to the boundaries of old established between Denmark and Norway; neither of them should pay to the other for any damage sustained; the war should cease with all boundaries and properties as they now stood, and this peace should endure as long as they were kings. The agreement was confirmed by oath and after giving each other hostages as a guarantee they parted.
King Harald was in Viken in the summer, and once again he sent his men to the Uplands to collect the taxes and duties; but the peasants paid no attention to the demand and said that they would look after the money carefully until Earl Hakon came for it. Earl Hakon was in Gautland with a large armed force at that time. When summer was past King Harald went south to Konungahella. Then he took all of the available light boats and rowed inland up the river. He had the vessels drawn overland past all the waterfalls and in this manner he brought them into the Wener lake. Then he rowed eastward across the lake to where he thought that Earl Hakon was; but when the earl heard of the king's expedition he retreated down the country, and would not let the king plunder the land. Earl Hakon had a large armed force which the Gautland people had raised for him. King Harald laid his ships up in a river, and made a foray on land, leaving some of his men behind to protect the ships. The king himself rode with some of the men, but the greater part were on foot. They had to cross a forest, where they found a marsh or lake, and close to it a wood; and when they reached the wood they saw the earl's men at the other side of the marsh. They all prepared themselves for battle.
King Harald ordered his men to sit down on the hillside. "Let us see whether they will attack us. Earl Hakon does not usually wait to talk."
It was frosty weather, with some snow-drift, and Harald's men sat down under their shields; but it was cold for Hakon's Gautlanders, who had no winter clothing with them. The earl told them to wait until King Harald came nearer, so that they would all be on solid ground. Earl Hakon had the banner which had belonged to King Magnus Olafson.
The leader of the Gautland people, Thorvid, sat on a horse, and the bridle was fastened to a stake that stood in the marsh. He spoke out with these words: "God knows we have many brave and handsome fellows here, and we will let King Steinkel hear that we stood by the good earl bravely. I am sure of one thing: we will behave gallantly against these Northmen, if they attack us; but if our young people give way, let us not run farther than to that stream; but if they should give way farther, which I am sure they will not do, let it not be further than to that hill."
The Northmen sprang to their feet, raised the war-cry, and struck on their shields; and the Gautland army began also to shout. Thorvid's horse shied with the war-cry, and backed away so hard that the stake flew up and struck the Thorvid on the head. He said, "Curse you, Northman, for that arrow!" and promptly fled.
King Harald told his people, "Keep striking your shields with your weapons, but do not go down from the hill until they come nearer to us." When the war-cry was raised Earl Hakon's forces advanced; but when they came to the foot of the hill the king's army rushed down upon them, and killed some of the earl's people, the rest fled. The Northmen did not pursue them for long because night was falling; but they took Earl Hakon's banner and all the arms and clothes that they could find. King Harald had both of the banners carried before him as they marched away.
They spoke among themselves and decided that the earl had probably fallen. As they were riding through the forest they could only ride singly, one following the other. Suddenly a man came full gallop across the path, struck his spear through the standard bearer and rode into the forest with the banner. When this was reported to the king he said, "Bring me my armour, the earl is still alive."
The king and his army rode back to their boats in the night; and some joked that Earl Hakon had taken his revenge by making them ride in the dark.
Harald passed the rest of the night in his boats; but by the morning the ice had gathered about the vessels so firmly that it was possible to walk around them. The king ordered his men to cut the ice from the boats and cut a channel out to the clear water. King Harald's son, Magnus, steered the vessel that lay nearest to the open water. When channel was almost finished, a man ran out to the ice, and began hewing at it like a madman. One of the men said, "That is Hal who killed Kodran, none can work as fast as him when he sets to work. See how he is hewing away at the ice."
There was a man in the crew who was called Thormod Eindridason; and when he heard the name of Kodran's murderer he ran up to Hal, and gave him a death-wound. Kodran was a son of Gudmund Eyjolfson; and Valgerd, who was a sister of Gudmund, was the mother of Jorun, and the grandmother by the mother's side of this Thormod. Thormod was a year old when Kodran was killed, and had never seen Hal Utrygson until now. When the ice was broken all the way out to the water, Magnus set sail immediately, and sailed westward across the lake; the king's ship came out last. Hal had been in King Haralds retinue, and was very dear to him; so the king was enraged at his death. The king was the last into the harbour, and by that time Magnus had let the murderer escape into the forest. Magnus offered to pay compensation for Hal's life and the king very nearly attacked Magnus and his crew, but their friends came up and reconciled them.
That winter King Harald went to Raumarike, and had many people with him; and he accused the peasants there of having witheld his taxes and duties, and of having aided his enemies to raise disturbance against him. He captured the peasants, maiming some, killing others, and robbed many of all their property. Others fled from him. He burned everything in the districts and laid waste to the land. Then Harald went to Hedemark, burnt the dwellings, and made no less waste and havoc there than in Raumarike. From there he went to Hadeland and Ringerike, burning and ravaging all the land. Then all the peasants surrendered to the king's mercy.
Edward, Ethelred's son, was king of England after his brother Hardacanute. He was called Edward the Good; and so he was. King Edward's mother was Queen Emma, daughter of Richard, earl of Rouen. Her brother was Earl Robert, whose son was William the Bastard, who at that time was earl at Rouen in Normandy. King Edward's queen was Gyda, a daughter of Earl Godwin, the son of Ulfnad. Gyda's brothers were, Earl Toste, the eldest; Earl Morukare the next; Earl Walter the third; Earl Svein the fourth; and the fifth was Harald, who was the youngest, and he was brought up at King Edward's court, and was his foster-son. The king loved him very much, and treated him as his own son; for he had no children.
One summer, Harald, the son of Godwin, made an expedition to Bretland with his ships, but when they got to sea the wind changed, and were driven off into the ocean. They landed west in Normandy, after suffering from a dangerous storm. They came to Rouen, where they met Earl William, who received Harald and his company gladly. The stormy weather continued, so Harald remained there until late in harvest, and was hospitably entertained.
This continued until winter set in; so the earl and Harald agreed that he should remain there all winter. Harald sat on the high-seat on one side of the earl; and on the other side sat the earl's wife, one of the most beautiful women that could be seen. They often talked together for amusement at the drinking-table; and the earl went generally to bed, but Harald and the earl's wife sat long in the evenings talking together, and so it went on for a great part of the winter. In one of their conversations she said to Harald, "The earl has asked me what it is we have to talk about so much, for he is angry about it."
Harald replied, "Then we must tell him at once."
The following day, Harald asked the earl to a conference, and together they went together into the conference-room; the queen was there and also some of the councillors. Then Harald said: "I have to inform you, earl, that there is more to my visit here than meets the eye. I have come to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage, and have often spoken of this matter with her mother, and she has promised to support my proposal."
As soon as Harald had made his proposal known, it was well received by all who were present. They explained the case to the earl; and he and Harald reached an agreement, but as she was very young it was resolved that the wedding should be deferred for some years.
When spring came Harald rigged his ships and sailed away; he and the earl parted with great friendship. Harald sailed back to England to King Edward, but did not return to Valland to fulfill the marriage agreement.
Edward was king over England for twenty- three years and died on a bed of sickness in London on the 5th of January, and was buried in Paul's church. Englishmen call him a saint.
The sons of Earl Godwin were the most powerful men in England. Toste was the chief of the English king's army, and was his land-defence man when the king began to grow old; and he was also placed above all the other earls. His brother Harald was always with the court itself, and nearest to the king in all service, and had the charge of the king's treasure-chamber.
It is said that when the king was approaching his last hour, Harald and a few others were with him. Harald leant down over the king, and then said, "I take you all to witness that the king has given me the kingdom, and all the realm of England." and then the king was taken dead out of the bed. The same day there was a meeting of the chiefs, at which there was some talk of choosing a king; and then Harald brought forward his witnesses that King Edward had given him the kingdom on his death bed. The meeting chose Harald as king, and he was consecrated and crowned the 13th day of Yule, in Paul's church. All the chiefs and all the people submitted to him.
When his brother, Earl Toste, heard of this he took it very ill, as he thought himself more entitled to be king than his younger brother Harald. He said, "I would like the principal men of the country choose which of us they think most suitable for kingship." Sharp words passed between the brothers. King Harald said that he would not give up his kingly dignity, for he was seated on the throne which kings sat upon, and had been anointed and consecrated as king. The strength of the people was on his side because he had all of the kings treasure.
When King Harald saw that his brother Toste wanted to deprive him of the kingdom he did not trust him; for Toste was a clever man, and a great warrior, and a friend of the principal men of the country. He therefore took the command of the army from Toste, and also all the power he had beyond that of the other earls of the country. Earl Toste could not accept the prospect of becoming his younger brothers servant; so he went over the sea to Flanders with his people, and stayed there a while, then went to Friesland, and from thence to Denmark to his relation King Svein.
Earl Ulf, King Svein's father, and Gyda, Earl Toste's mother, were brother's and sister's children. Earl Toste asked King Svein for support and help of men. King Svein invited him to stay with him, with the promise that he should get so large an earldom in Denmark that he would be an important chief. Earl Toste replied, "My only wish is to go back to my estate in England; but if I cannot get help from you for that purpose, I will agree to help you with all the power I can command in England, if you will go there with the Danish army, and win the country, as Canute, your mother's brother, did."
The king replied, "I am not so great a man as Canute, it is difficult for me to defend my own Danish dominions against the Northmen. King Canute, on the other hand, inherited the Danish kingdom, took England by force, almost losing his life in the contest; and Norway he took without resistance. It suits me much better to live according to my own abilities rather than try to imitate my relation, King Canute's, luck."
Earl Toste said, "The result of my errand here is less fortunate than I expected of so gallant a man as you, seeing that your own relative is in such great need. It may be that I will seek friendly help where it could less be expected; and that I may find a chief who is less afraid of a great enterprise than you are." Then the king and the earl parted, though not as the best of friends.
Earl Toste went to Norway, where he presented himself to King Harald who was at that time in Viken. When they met the earl explained his errand to the king. He told him all his proceedings since he had left England, and asked his help to recover his dominions in England. The king replied that the Northmen had no great desire for a campaign in England, and to have English chiefs over them there. "People say," he added, "that the English are not to be trusted."
The earl replied, "Is it true what I have heard people tell in England, that your relative, King Magnus, sent men to King Edward with the message that King Magnus had right to England as well as to Denmark, and had inherited it from Hardacanute?"
The king replied, "Why did he not get it, if he had a right to it?"
The earl said, "Have you not Denmark, as King Magnus, your predecessor, had it?"
The king replied, "The Danes have nothing to brag of over us Northmen; for many a place in Denmark we have laid in ashes."
Then the earl said, "If you will not tell me, I will tell you. Magnus subdued Denmark, because all the lords of the country helped him; and you have not done it, because all the lords of the country were against you. King Magnus did not strive for England, because all the nation wanted Edward for king and they would have been against him. I will arrange that most of the principal men in England will be your friends and allies, and assist you, so will you take England now? All men know that there never was such a warrior as you in the northern lands; and it appears to me extraordinary that you have been fighting for fifteen years to take Denmark, and will not take England that lies open to you."
King Harald carefully weighed the earl's words, and saw that there was truth in much of what he said; and he also had a great desire to acquire dominions. King Harald and the earl talked long and frequently together; and at last he decided to England in the summer, and conquer the country. King Harald sent a message-token through all Norway and raised an army of one half of all the men in Norway able to carry arms. When word of this spread, there was much speculation as to the possible outcome of the expedition. Some recalled King Harald's great achievements, and thought that he was a man who could accomplish this. Others said that England was difficult to attack; that it was very full of people; and the men-at-arms were so brave that one of them was better than two of Harald's best men.
Earl Toste sailed in spring west to Flanders, to meet the people who had left England with him, and others besides who had gathered to him both out of England and Flanders.
King Harald's fleet assembled at the Solunds. When King Harald was ready to leave Nidaros he went to King Olaf's shrine, unlocked it, clipped his hair and nails, and locked the shrine again, throwing the keys into the Nid. Some say he threw them overboard outside of Agdanes; and since then the shrine of Saint Olaf, the king, has never been opened. Thirty-five years had passed since Olaf was slain; and he lived thirty-five years here on earth.
King Harald sailed south with his ships and a great fleet was collected; according to people's reckoning, King Harald had nearly 200 war ships, not counting the provision-ships and small craft.
Before King Harald left Throndhjem, he let his son Magnus be proclaimed king and set him as king over Norway while he was absent. Thora, the daughter of Thorberg, also remained behind; but he took with him Queen Ellisif and her two daughters, Maria and Ingegerd. Olaf, King Harald's son, also accompanied his father abroad.
When King Harald ready to depart, and the wind became favourable, he sailed out into the ocean and he himself landed in Shetland, part of his fleet landed in the Orkney Islands. King Harald stopped but a short time in Shetland before sailing to Orkney, from there he took with him a great armed force, and the Earls Paul and Erlend, the sons of Earl Thorfin; but he left behind the Queen Ellisif, and her daughters Maria and Ingegerd. Then he sailed, leaving Scotland and England westward of him, and landed at a place called Klifland. There he went on shore and plundered, and brought the country in subjection to him without opposition.
Then he went to Skardaburg* , and fought with the people of the place. He went up a hill which is there, and built a great bonfire upon it, which he set alight. When the bonfire was burning well, his men took pitch-forks and hurled the burning wood down onto the town, so that one house caught fire after another, and the town surrendered. The Northmen killed many people there and took all the booty they could lay hold of. There was nothing left for the Englishmen now, if they would preserve their lives, but to submit to King Harald; and thus he subdued the country wherever he came. Then the king went south along the land, and brought up at Hellornes, where a force had been assembled to oppose him, they had a battle, and Harald gained the victory.
Next the king sailed to the Humber, and up along the river, and then he landed. In Jorvik* were two earls, Earl Morukare, and his brother, Earl Valthiof, and they had an immense army. While the army of the earls was coming down from the upper part of the country, King Harald lay in the Usa*. King Harald disembarked and drew up his men in battle order. One arm of his line stood at the outer edge of the river, the other turned towards the land along a ditch; and there was also a marsh, deep, broad, and full of water. The earls let their army proceed slowly down along the river, with all their troops in line. The king's banner was next to the river, where the line was thickest. It was thinnest at the ditch, where the weakest of the men were. When the earls advanced along the ditch, the arm of the Northmen's line which was at the ditch gave way; and the Englishmen followed, thinking the Northmen would flee. The banner of Earl Morukare advanced bravely. When King Harald saw that the English army had come to the ditch, he ordered the charge to be sounded, and urged on his men. He ordered the banner which was called the Land-ravager to be carried before him, and made so severe an assault that all had to give way before it; and there was a great loss among the men of the earls, and they soon broke into flight, some running up the river, some down, and the most leaping into the ditch, which was so filled with dead that the Norsemen could go dry-foot over the fen. There Earl Morukare fell.
Earl Valthiof, and the people who escaped, fled to the castle of York, but there had been a great loss of men.
Earl Toste had come from Flanders to King Harald as soon as he arrived in England, and the earl was present at all these battles. It was as he had predicted and in England many people flocked to them because they were friends and relations of Earl Toste, and thus the king's forces were much strengthened. After the battle most of the people in the nearest districts submitted to Harald, but some fled. Then the king advanced to take the castle, and laid his army at Stanforda-bryggiur*; and as King Harald had gained so great a victory against such great lords and so great an army, the people were dismayed, and doubted whether they could make any opposition. The men of the castle therefore decided to send a message to King Harald, and surrender the castle to him. All this was soon settled; so that on Sunday the king proceeded with the whole army to the castle, and called a meeting at which the people of the castle were to be present. At this meeting all the people accepted the conditions of submitting to Harald, and gave him the children of the most prominent people as hostages. In the evening the king returned to his ships and was very merry after the victory. A meeting was held in the castle early on Monday morning, and King Harald named officers to rule over the town, to give out laws, and allocate lands.
The same evening, after sunset, King Harald Godwinson came to the castle with a large army, and rode into the city with the good-will and consent of the people of the castle. All the gates and walls were so heavily guarded that the Northmen received no news of this, and the English army remained in the town all night.
On Monday, when King Harald Sigurdson had taken breakfast, he ordered the trumpets to sound for going on shore. The army got ready, and he divided the men into the parties who should go, and who should stay behind to guard the fleet. In every division he allowed two men to land, and one to remain behind. Earl Toste and his retinue landed with King Harald; and the king's son Olaf remained behind to watch the ships, with the Earls of Orkney, Paul and Erlend; and also Eystein Orre, a son of Thorberg Arnason, who was the most able and best beloved by the king of all the barons, and to whom the king had promised his daughter Maria.
The weather was uncommonly fine, and it was hot sunshine. The men therefore laid aside their armour, and went on the land only with their shields, helmets and spears, and girded with swords. Many had bows and arrows too, and all were very merry. As they approached the castle a great army seemed to be coming against them, and they saw a cloud of dust as though it came from horses' feet, and under it shining shields and bright armour. The king halted his people, and called to Earl Toste asking him what army this could be. The earl replied that he thought it most likely to be a hostile army, but possibly it might be some of his relations who were seeking mercy and friendship, in order to obtain certain peace and safety from the king. Then the king said, "We must wait here to discover what kind of a force this is."
The nearer the force came the greater it appeared, and their shining arms glinted like ice.
Then King Harald said, "Let me hear some good sensible advice; for it is obviously a hostile army and the king himself is undoubtably with them."
The earl said, "My advice is to return to our ships to get our men and our weapons as quickly as possible, and then we will make a defence according to our ability; or otherwise let our ships defend us, for there these horsemen would have no power over us."
Then King Harald said, "I have another idea. Put three of our best horses under three of our best riders and let them ride with all speed to tell our people to come quickly to our relief. The Englishmen shall have a hard fight of it before we give ourselves up for lost."
The earl said the king must order in this, as in all things, as he thought best; adding, at the same time, it was by no means his wish to flee.
King Harald arranged his army, and made the line of battle long, but not deep. He bent both wings of it back, so that they met together; and formed a wide ring equally thick all round, shield to shield, both in the front and rear ranks. The king himself and his retinue were within the circle; and there was the banner, and a body of chosen men. Earl Toste, with his retinue, was at another place under a different banner. The army was arranged in this way, because the king knew that horsemen were accustomed to ride forwards with great vigour, but to turn back immediately. The king ordered that his own and the earl's attendants should ride forwards where it was most required. "Bowmen," he said, "remain within the safety of the circle; men-at-arms in the first rank set your spear-shaft on the ground, and the spear-point against the horseman's breast if he rides at you. Second rank set your spear-point against the horse's breast."
King Harald Godwinson had come with an immense army, both of cavalry and infantry. King Harald Sigurdson rode around his array, to see how every part was drawn up. He was upon a black horse, and the horse stumbled under him, so that the king fell off. He got up in haste and said, "A fall is lucky for a traveller."
The English king Harald said to the Northmen who were with him, "Who is the stout man who fell from his horse, the one with the blue shirt and the beautiful helmet?"
"That is the king himself." they replied.
The English king said, "A great man, and of stately appearance; but I think his luck has just left him."
Twenty horsemen rode forward from the English troops against the Northmen's array; and all of them, and likewise their horses, were clothed in armour. One of the horsemen said, "Is Earl Toste in this army?"
The earl answered, "I cannot deny that you will find me here."
The horseman said, "Your brother, King Harald, sends you greetings, with the message that you may have the whole of Northumberland; and rather than requiring you to submit to him, he will give you that one third part of his kingdom."
The earl replied, "This is something different from the enmity and scorn he offered last winter; and if this had been offered then it would have saved many a man's life, and it would have been better for the kingdom of England. But if I accept of this offer, what will he give King Harald Sigurdson for his trouble?"
The horseman replied, "He has also spoken of this; and will give him seven feet of English ground, or perhaps a little more as he may be taller than other men."
"Then," said the earl, "go and tell King Harald to get ready for battle; for it will never be said that Earl Toste left King Harald Sigurdson to join his enemy's troops, when he came to fight west here in England. We will all take the resolution to die with honour, or to gain England by a victory."
Then the horseman rode back. King Harald Sigurdson said to the earl, "Who was the man who spoke so well?"
The earl replied, "That was King Harald Godwinson."
King Harald Sigurdson said, "That was by far too long concealed from me; he should not have been allowed to return to his troops."
Then the earl said, "It was certainly imprudent for such a lord to approach us with so few men in support, and it may be as you say; but I had guessed that he was going to offer me peace and a great dominion, and if I had betrayed him I would be my own brothers murderer. I would rather he should be my murderer than I his, if one of us has to die."
King Harald Sigurdson observed to his men, "That was only a little man, yet he sat firmly in his stirrups."
The battle began. The Englishmen made a strong assault on the Northmen, who sustained it bravely. It was no easy matter for the English to ride against the Northmen on account of their spears; therefore they rode in a circle around them. The fight at first was but loose and light, as long as the Northmen kept in their ranks; for although the English rode hard against the Northmen, they turned away immediately, because they saw that they could do nothing against them. The Northmen thought that the enemy were making only weak assaults and ran after them, thinking to drive them into flight; but when they had broken their shield-rampart the Englishmen rode up from all sides, and threw arrows and spears on them.
When King Harald Sigurdson saw this, he went into the fray where the greatest crash of weapons was, and there was a sharp conflict, in which many people fell on both sides. King Harald Sigurdson was in a rage, and ran out in front of the array, and hewed down with both hands; so that neither helmet nor armour could withstand him, and all who were nearest gave way before him. The English army came close to fleeing.
King Harald Sigurdson was hit by an arrow in the windpipe, and that was his death-wound. He fell, and all who had advanced with him, except those who retired with the banner. A severe conflict followed, and Earl Toste had taken charge of the king's banner. Both sides reformed their battle array, and there was a pause in fighting. Harald Godwinson again offered his brother, Earl Toste, peace, and also quarter to the Northmen who were still alive; but the Northmen called out that they would rather fall, one across the other, than accept quarter from the Englishmen. Then each side set up a war-shout, and the battle began again.
Eystein Orre came up from the ships with the men who followed him, and all were clad in armour. Then Eystein took up King Harald's banner Land-ravager; and there was, for the third time, a sharp conflict, in which many Englishmen fell, and they were near to taking flight. This conflict is called Orre's storm. Eystein and his men had hurried from the ships so fast that they were exhausted when they arrived, and scarcely fit to fight; but afterwards they became so furious that they did not guard themselves with their shields as long as they could stand upright. At last they threw off their coats of mail, and then the Englishmen could easily lay their blows at them. Many fell from weariness, and died without a wound. Almost all of the chief men among the Norway people fell. This happened towards evening and many fled as the slaughter continued into the darkness.
Styrkar, King Harald Sigurdson's marshal, a gallant man, escaped on a horse, on which he rode away in the evening. It was blowing a cold wind, and Styrkar had not much clothing other than his shirt, and a helmet on his head, and a drawn sword in his hand. As soon as his weariness was over, he began to feel cold. He met a waggoner who was wearing a fur-lined coat. Styrkar asked him, "Will you sell me your coat, friend?"
"Not to you," said the peasant: "You are a Northman; I can tell by your accent."
Styrkar replied, "If I were a Northman, what would you do?"
"I would kill you," replied the peasant; "but as luck would have it, I have no weapon with me that would do it."
Then Styrkar said, "As you can't kill me, friend, I will kill you instead." And with that he swung his sword, and struck him on the neck, so that his head came off. He then took the coat, sprang on his horse, and rode down to the beach. Olaf Haraldson had not gone on land with the others, and when he heard of his father's fall he made ready to sail away with the men who remained.
When the Earl of Rouen, William the Bastard, heard of his relation, King Edward's, death, and also that Harald Godwinson was chosen, crowned, and consecrated king of England, it appeared to him that he had a better right to the kingdom of England than Harald, because he was Edward's cousin. He also thought that he had grounds for avenging the affront that Harald had put upon him with respect to his daughter.
William gathered together a great army in Normandy, he had many men, and sufficient boats to transport them. The day that he rode out of the castle to his ships. As he mounted his horse, his wife came to him and wanted to speak with him; but when he saw her he struck at her with his heel, and set his spurs so deep into her breast that she fell down dead. The earl rode on to his ships, and sailed over to England. His brother, Archbishop Otto, was with him; and when the earl came to England he began to plunder, and take possession of the land. Earl William was stouter and stronger than other men; a great horseman and warrior, but somewhat stern; a very sensible man, but not considered reliable.
King Harald Godwinson gave King Harald Sigurdson's son Olaf leave to go away, with the men who had followed him and had not fallen in battle; but he himself turned round with his army to go south, for he had heard that William the Bastard was overwhelming the south of England with a vast army, and was subduing the country for himself. With King Harald went his brothers Svein and Gyrd, and Earl Valthiof.
King Harald and Earl William met each other south in England at Helsingja-port* . There was a great battle in which King Harald and his brother Earl Gyrd and a great part of his men fell. This was the nineteenth day after the fall of King Harald Sigurdson. Harald's brother, Earl Valthiof, escaped by flight, and towards evening fell in with a division of William's people, consisting of 100 men. When they saw Earl Valthiof's troop they fled to a wood, Earl Valthiof set fire to the wood and they were all burnt.
William was proclaimed king of England. He sent a message to Earl Valthiof that they should be reconciled, and gave him assurance of safety to come to the place of meeting. The earl set out with a few men; but when he came to a heath north of Kastala-bryggia, there met him two officers of King William, with many followers, who took him prisoner, put him in fetters, and afterwards he was beheaded.
Olaf, the son of King Harald Sigurdson, sailed with his fleet from England from Hrafnseyr, and came in autumn to the Orkney Isles, where the event had happened that Maria, a daughter of Harald Sigurdson, died a sudden death the very day and hour her father, King Harald, fell. Olaf remained there all winter; but the following summer he returned to Norway, where he was proclaimed king along with his brother Magnus. Queen Ellisif came from the West, along with her stepson Olaf and her daughter Ingegerd. With Olaf came Skule,a son of Earl Toste, who since has been called the king's foster-son, and his brother Ketil Krok. Both were gallant men, of high family in England, and both were very intelligent; and the brothers were much loved by King Olaf. Ketil Krok went north to Halogaland, where King Olaf arranged a good marriage for him, and from him are descended many great people. Skule, the king's foster-son, was a very clever man, and the handsomest man that could be seen. He was the commander of King Olaf's court-men, spoke at the meetings and took part in all the countries affairs with the king.
The king offered to give Skule whatever district in Norway he liked, with all the income and duties that belonged to the king in it. Skule thanked him very much for the offer, but said that he would rather have something else from him. "For if there was a change of kings," he said, "the gift might come to nothing. I would rather take some properties lying near to the merchant towns, where you usually take up your abode, and then I could enjoy your Yule-feasts." The king agreed to this, and gave him lands at Konungahella, Oslo, Tunsberg, Sarpsborg, Bergen, and north at Nidaros. These were nearly the best properties at each place, and have since descended to the family branches which came from Skule.
King Olaf gave Skule his female relative, Gudrun, the daughter of Nefstein, in marriage. Her mother was Ingerid, a daughter of Sigurd Syr and Asta, King Olaf the Saint's mother. Ingerid was a sister of King Olaf the Saint and of King Harald. Skule and Gudrun's son was Asolf of Reine, who married Thora, a daughter of Skopte Ogmundson; Asolf's and Thora's son was Guthorm of Reine, father of Bard, and grandfather of King Inge and of Duke Skule.
One year after King Harald's fall his body was transported from England to Nidaros, and was buried in Mary church, which he had built. It was a common observation that King Harald distinguished himself above all other men by wisdom and resources of mind; whether he had to take a resolution suddenly for himself and others, or after long deliberation. He was, also, above all other men, bold, brave, and lucky, until his dying day, as above related; and bravery is half of victory.
King Harald Sigurdson was a handsome man, of noble appearance; his hair and beard yellow. He had a short beard, and a long moustache. He had large hands and feet; but these were well made. His height was five ells* . He was stern and severe to his enemies, and avenged cruelly all opposition or misdeed. King Harald was fifty years old when he fell. We have no particular account of his youth before he was fifteen years old, when he was with his brother, King Olaf, at the battle of Stiklestad. He lived thirty-five years after that, and in all that time was never free from care and war. King Harald never fled from battle, but often tried cunning ways to escape when he had to do with great superiority of forces. All the men who followed King Harald in battle or skirmish said that when he stood in great danger, or anything came suddenly upon him, he always took that course which all afterwards saw gave the best hope of a fortunate outcome.
When Haldor, a son of Brynjolf Ulfalde the Old, who was a sensible man and a great chief, heard people talk of how unlike the brothers Saint Olaf and King Harald were in disposition, he used to say, "I was in great friendship with both the brothers, and I knew intimately the dispositions of both, and never did I know two men more alike in disposition. Both were of the highest understanding, and bold in arms, and greedy of power and property; of great courage, but not acquainted with the way of winning the favour of the people; zealous in governing, and severe in their revenge. King Olaf forced the people into Christianity and good customs, and cruelly punished those who disobeyed. The chiefs of the country could not bear this just and rightful severity, but raised an army against him, and killed him in his own kingdom; and therefore he is held to be a saint. King Harald marauded to obtain glory and power, forced all the people he could under his power, and died in another king's dominions. Both brothers, in daily life, were of a worthy and considerate manner of living; they were of great experience, and very hard-working, and were known and celebrated far and wide for these qualities."
King Magnus Haraldson ruled over Norway the first winter after King Harald's death, and afterwards jointly with his brother, King Olaf, for two years. Thus there were two kings of Norway at that time; Magnus had the northern and Olaf the eastern part of the country. King Magnus had a son called Hakon, who was fostered by Thorer of Steig in Gudbrandsdal, who was a brother of King Magnus by the mother's side; and Hakon was a most agreeable man.
After King Harald Sigurdson's death the Danish king Svein let it be known that the peace between the Northmen and the Danes was at an end, and insisted that the league between Harald and Svein was not for longer time than their lives. Armies were raised in both kingdoms. Harald's sons called upon the whole of Norway to provide men and ships, and Svein set out from the south with the Danish army. Messengers went between them with proposals for a peace; and the Northmen said they would either have the same treaty agreed between King Harald and Svein, or otherwise give battle.
Friendship was negotiated between the kings and peace between the countries. King Magnus fell ill and died of the ringworm disease, after being ill for some time. He died and was buried at Nidaros. He had been a popular king and was mourned by the people for a long time.
*Jorvik: York, England.
*Skardaburg: Scarborough, England.
*Usa: The River Ouse, England.
*Stanforda-bryggiur: Stanford Bridge, England.
*Helsingja-port: Hastings, England.
*ell: Old Norse - forearm. A unit of measurement, the length of a forearm measured from elbow to knuckles, so King Harald Sigurdson was about 6 feet or 1.8 metres tall.