When Erling heard about the intentions of Hakon and his counsellors, he sent a message to all the chiefs who he knew had been steady friends of King Inge. He also contacted King Inge's courtiers and his retinue, who had saved themselves by fleeing, and Gregorius's house-servants too, and called them all together to a meeting. When they met, they resolved to keep their men together, confirming the resolution by oaths and handshakes.
Then they considered who they should take to be king. Erling Skakke suggested that Simon Skalp's son, the son of the daughter of King Harald Gille, should be chosen king, and Jon Halkelson be taken to lead the army; but Jon refused it. Then it was asked whether Nikolas Skialdvarson, a sister's son of King Magnus Barefoot, would place himself at the head of the army; but he answered that it was his opinion that someone should be chosen king who was of the royal race; and, for leader of the troops, someone from whom help and understanding were to be looked for; and then it would be easier to gather an army.
Then it was asked whether Arne would let any of his sons, King Inge's brothers, be proclaimed king. Arne replied that Kristin's son (Kristin was the daughter of King Sigurd the Crusader) was nearest by line of descent to the crown of Norway. "There is also a man to be his adviser, and who can take care of him and of the kingdom. That man is his father Erling, who is both prudent, brave, experienced in war, and an able man in governing the kingdom." Many thought well of this advice.
Erling replied, "As far as I can see or hear in this meeting, most men would rather be excused from taking on such a difficult business. It appears to me that if we go ahead with this proposal it is uncertain whether he who puts himself at the head of it will gain any honour. He may well lose all of his property and possibly his life, as others have done before him. If we are to pursue this option, there are men who will undertake to carry it through; but there must be no opposition or dissent from this council."
They all gave their assurance that they would keep to the agreement faithfuly. Then Erling said, "I would rather die than serve King Hakon. How ever dangerous it may be, I would prefer to lead this force against him, if that is the will of this council, and if you will all bind yourselves to this agreement by oath." They all agreed to this and accepted Erling's son Magnus as their king.
Afterwards, they held a meeting in the town. At the meeting, Magnus Erlingson, then five years old, was elected king of the whole country. All who had been servants of King Inge went into his service, and each of them retained the office and dignity he had held under King Inge.
Erling Skakke prepared to travel and fitted out ships. With him were King Magnus and the house-servants. In this expedition were the king's relatives, Arne, Ingerid the King Inge's mother - with her two sons, Jon Kutiza (a son of Sigurd Stork), Erling's house-servants and those who had been Gregorius's house-servants. Together they had ten ships.
They went south to Denmark, to King Valdemar and Buriz Heinrekson, King Inge's brothers. King Valdemar was King Magnus's blood-relation; for Ingebjorg, mother of King Valdemar, and Malmfrid, mother of Kristin, King Magnus's mother, were cousins. The Danish king received them hospitably, and he and Erling had private meetings and consultations. It was decided that King Valdemar would help King Magnus to win and retain Norway with anything that might be required from his kingdom . In return, King Valdemar would receive the domain in Norway that his ancestors Harald Gormson and Svein Forked-beard had possessed; namely, the whole of Viken as far north as Rygiarbit. This agreement was confirmed by oath and a treaty. Then Erling and King Magnus made ready to leave Denmark, and they sailed out of Vendilskage.
The next spring, after Easter, King Hakon went north to Throndhjem. He took with him the whole fleet that had belonged to King Inge. He held a meeting there in the merchant-town, and was chosen king of the whole country. Then he made Sigurd of Reyr an earl, and gave him land. After that he and his followers went south to Viken. The king went to Tunsberg; but sent Earl Sigurd east to Konungahella, to defend the country with a part of the forces in case Erling should come from the south. Erling and his fleet came to Agder, and went straight north to Bergen, where they killed Arne Brigdarskalle, King Hakon's officer, and came back immediately against King Hakon.
Earl Sigurd, who had not observed the journey of Erling and his followers from the south, was at that time east in the Gaut river, and King Hakon was in Tunsberg. Erling stopped at Hrossanes, and stayed there for some nights. Meanwhile King Hakon made preparations in the town.
As Erling and his fleet approached Tunsberg, they took a merchant vessel, filled it with wood and straw, and set fire to it. The wind was blowing towards the town and drove the vessel towards the piers. Erling had two cables brought on board the vessel and made fast to two boats that were rowed along with the vessel. When the fireboat had drifted closer to the town, the men in the rowing-boats held back the vessel by means of the ropes. The town could not be set on fire, but a thick smoke spread from the fireboat over the town and nobody could see where Erling's approaching forces were. When the whole fleet were close to the shore, they shot at the enemy. The townspeople saw that the fire was approaching their houses ran to douse the flames and many were wounded by the bowmen.
They resolved to send the priest Hroald, the long-winded speaker, to Erling, to beg him to spare them and the town. As soon as Hroald had obtained an agreement the townspeople dispersed, leaving only Hakons men on the piers. Some urged Hakon's men to make resistance, but Onund Simonson, who had most influence over the army, said, "I will not fight for Earl Sigurd's earldom, since he is not here himself." Then Onund fled and was followed by all the people, and by the king himself, and they hurried away up the country. King Hakon lost many men there.
King Hakon took the land-road to Throndhjem. When Earl Sigurd heard of this, he gathered as many ships as he could and sailed to the North, to meet King Hakon there.
Erling Skakke took all the ships in Tunsberg that had belonged to King Hakon, and he also took the Baekisudin which had belonged to King Inge. Then Erling reduced the whole of Viken in obedience to King Magnus, and the whole country wherever he appeared on his way to Bergen, where he stayed all winter. In Bergen, Erling killed Ingebjorn Sipil, King Hakon's baron of the north part of the Fjord district.
That winter, King Hakon was in Throndhjem; but the following spring he raised an army and prepared to go against Erling. With him were Earl Sigurd, Jon Sveinson, Eindride Unge, Onund Simonson, Philip Peterson, Philip Gyrdson, Ragnvald Kunta, Sigurd Kapa, Sigurd Hiupa, Frirek Keina, Asbjorn of Forland, Thorbjorn (a son of Gunnar the treasurer) and Stradbjarne.
Erling was in Bergen with a great army. He prohibited merchant vessels from sailing north to Nidaros, because he knew that King Hakon would receive news of him. Apart from that, it was better for Bergen to get the goods, even if the owners were obliged to sell them cheaply, than that they should fall into the hands of enemies and thereby strengthen them.
A great many vessels were assembled at Bergen, for many arrived every day, and none were allowed to leave. Then Erling had some of the lightest of his vessels laid ashore, spreading a rumour that he would wait for Hakon, and oppose him there. Then one day he called a meeting of the ship-masters, and gave the merchant ships and their steersmen leave to go where they pleased. There was a soft and favourable wind for sailing north along the coast and before the evening all who were ready had set sail. They sailed away as fast as they could, according to the speed of their vessels, the one vying with the other.
When this fleet came north to More, Hakon's fleet was there and he was engaged in collecting men, summoning the barons and all who were liable to serve. It was a long time since he last heard any news from Bergen. Now he heard that Erling Skakke had laid his ships up in Bergen, and they would find him there with a large force. King Hakon sailed from Bergen to Veey, sending Earl Sigurd and Onund Simonson to gather men, and sent others to gather men in both of the More districts. When King Hakon had been in Veey for a few days, he sailed on further south, thinking that it would both promote his journey and enable new forces to join him sooner.
On Sunday Erling Skakke had allowed all the merchant vessels to leave Bergen. On Tuesday, as soon as the early mass was over, he ordered the warhorns sounded to summon the men-at-arms and the townsmen and had the ships which were laid up on shore launched. Then Erling held a meeting with his men, he told them his intentions and named ship commanders. The names of the men who were to be on board of the king's ship were also announced. The meeting ended with Erling's order to every man to make himself ready in his berth wherever a place was appointed him; and added that any man who was still in the town after the Baekisudin was hauled out would be punished by loss of life or limb.
Orm, the king's brother, laid his ships out in the harbour immediately that evening, and many others too, and the greater number were afloat before the Baekisudin.
On Wednesday Erling sailed from Bergen with all his fleet, consisting of twenty-one ships; and there was a fresh breeze for sailing northwards along the coast. Erling had his son King Magnus with him, and there were many barons accompanied by the finest men. When Erling came to the Fjord district he sent a boat on shore to Jon Halkelson's farm and took Nikolas (a son of Simon Skalp and of Maria, Harald Gille's daughter) out to the fleet, putting him on board the king's ship.
On Friday they sailed to Steinavag where King Hakon, with thirteen ships, was lying in the harbour. He and his men were up at play on the island and the barons were sitting on the hill, when they saw a boat rowing from the south with two men in it. they were bending back deep towards the keel, and taking hasty strokes with their oars. When they came to the shore they did not tie up the boat, but both ran from it. The great men seeing this, said to each other, "These men must have some news to tell!" and got up to meet them.
When they met, Onund Simonson asked, "Have you any news of Erling
Skakke, that you are running so fast?" They answered, as soon as they
got their breath back, "Erling is coming from the south, with about
twenty-one ships and some of them are huge. You will see their sails
Eindride Unge said, "Too near to the nose, said the peasant, when his eye was knocked out."
They hurried to where the games were being played and sounded the war-horns, all the men ran down to the ships in the greatest haste. It was just the time of day when their meat was nearly cooked. The men rushed to the ships, and each ran on board the vessel that was nearest to him, so that the ships were unequally manned. Some took to the oars and some raised the sails, turning the heads of the vessels northwards towards Veey, where they expected much assistance from the townspeople.
Soon they saw the sails of Erling's fleet and both fleets came within sight of each other. Eindride Unge had a ship called Draglaun, which was a large long-ship but which had only a small crew; for those who belonged to her had run on board of other ships, and she was therefore the hindmost of Hakon's fleet. When Eindride came abreast of the island Sek, the Baekisudin, which Erling Skakke himself commanded, came up with her; and these two ships were bound fast together. King Hakon and his followers had arrived close to Veey; but when they heard the war-horn they turned back to assist Eindride.
As the vessels arrived, so the battle began. Many of the sails lay midships across the vessels and the ships were not tied to each other, as was the normal practice, because they did not have time. It was not long before Hakon's ship was in disorder, some fell and others sprang overboard. Hakon threw a grey cloak over himself and jumped on board another ship; but when he had been there a short time he realised that he was amongst his enemies; and when he looked about him he saw none of his men nor of his ships near him. He went to the forecastle-men in the Baekisudin, and begged his life. They took him in their keeping, and gave him quarter.
In this conflict there was a great loss of people, but principally of Hakon's men. In the Baekisudin fell Nikolas, Simon Skalp's son; and Erling's men are accused of having killed him themselves. Then there was a pause in the battle, and the vessels separated. Erling was told that Hakon was on board of his ship; and that the forecastle-men had taken him into their keeping, threatening that they would defend him with arms. Erling sent men forward to the forecastle-men with orders to guard Hakon well, so that he should not get away. At the same time he let it be understood that he had no objection to giving the king life and safety, if the other chiefs were willing, and a peace could be established. All the forecastle-men gave their chief great credit and honour for these words.
Then Erling ordered a new a blast of the war-horns, and that the ships should be attacked which had not lost their men; saying that they would never have such another opportunity of avenging King Inge. Thereupon they all raised a war-shout, encouraged each other, and rushed to the assault. In this tumult King Hakon received his death-wound. When his men knew he had fallen they rowed with all their might against the enemy, threw away their shields, slashed with both hands, and cared not for life. This heat and recklessness, however, proved soon a great loss to them; for Erling's men saw the unprotected parts of their bodies, and where their blows would have effect. The greater part of Hakon's men who remained fell here; and it was principally owing to the want of numbers, as they were not enough to defend themselves. They could not get quarter, except for those whom the chiefs took under their protection and bound themselves to pay ransom for.
The following of Hakon's people fell: Sigurd Kapa, Sigurd Hiupa, and Ragnvald Kunta; but some ships crews got away, rowed into the fjords, and thus saved their lives. Hakon's body was carried to Raumsdal, and buried there; but afterwards his brother, King Sverre, had the body transported north to the merchant town Nidaros, and laid in the stone wall of Christ church south of the choir.
Earl Sigurd, Eindride Unge, Onund Simonson, Frirek Keina, and other chiefs kept the troop together, left their ships in Raumsdal and went to the Uplands. King Magnus and his father Erling sailed north to Nidaros in Throndhjem with their troops, and subdued the country as they went along. Erling called together a meeting, at which King Magnus was proclaimed king of all Norway. Erling, however, remained there but a short time; for he thought the Throndhjem people were not well disposed towards him and his son. King Magnus was then called king of the whole country.
King Hakon had been a handsome man in appearance, well grown, tall and thin; but rather broad-shouldered, on which account his men called him Herdebreid. As he was young in years, his barons had ruled for him. He was cheerful and friendly in conversation, playful and youthful in his ways, and was much liked by the people.
There was an Upland man called Markus of Skog, who was a relation of Earl Sigurd. Markus brought up a son of King Sigurd Mun, who was also called Sigurd. This Sigurd was chosen king by the Upland people, by the advice of Earl Sigurd and the other chiefs who had followed King Hakon. They had now a great army, and the troops were divided in two bodies; so that Markus and the king were less exposed where there was anything to do, and Earl Sigurd and his troop, along with the barons, were most in the way of danger.
They went with their troops mostly through the Uplands, and sometimes eastwards to Viken. Erling Skakke had his son King Magnus always with him, and he had also the whole fleet and the land defence under him. He was in Bergen for a while in autumn; but from there went eastward to Viken, where he settled in Tunsberg for his winter quarters, and collected in Viken all the taxes and revenues that belonged to Magnus as king; and he had many and very fine troops.
As Earl Sigurd had but a small part of the country, and kept many men on foot, he soon was in want of money; and where there was no chief in the neighbourhood he had to seek money by unlawful ways, sometimes by unfounded accusations and fines, and sometimes by open robbery.
Norway was a prosperous country. The people were wealthy and powerful, but unaccustomed to hostilities or violence and the oppression of roving troops; so there was soon a great noise and scandal when they were despoiled and robbed. The people of Viken were very friendly to Erling and King Magnus, principally from the popularity of the late King Inge Haraldson; for the Viken people had always served under his banner. Erling kept a guard in the town, and twelve men were on watch every night. Erling had meetings regularly, at which the misdeeds of Sigurd's people were often talked over. By the persuasion of Erling and his followers, they came to a unanimous decision that for the common good these bands should be rooted out.
Arne, the king's relation, spoke well and long on this subject, finishing severely, "I require that all here at this meeting, whether man-at-arms, freeman, towns-man, or merchant, should come to the resolution to sentence according to law Earl Sigurd and all his troop, and deliver them to Satan, both living and dead." From the animosity and hatred of the people, this was agreed to by all; and thus the unheard-of deed was adopted and confirmed by oath, as though a judgment in the case had been delivered by the meeting according to law.
The priest Hroald the Long-winded, who was a very eloquent man, spoke in the case; but his speech was to the same purpose as that of others who had spoken before. Erling gave a feast at Yule in Tunsberg, and paid the wages of the men-at-arms at Candlemas.
Earl Sigurd went to Viken with his best troops, many people were obliged to submit to his superior force, and many had to pay money. He travelled widely higher up the country, penetrating into different districts. But there were some in his troop who privately tried to make peace with Erling; but they received the reply that all who asked for their lives should obtain quarter, but they only should get leave to remain in the country if they had not been guilty of any great offences against Erling. When Sigurd's followers heard that they would not be able to remain in the country, they held together in one body; for there were many among them who knew for certain that Erling would look upon them as guilty of offences against him.
Philip Gyrdson made terms with Erling, got his property back, and went home to his farm; but soon after Sigurd's men came there and killed him. They committed many crimes against each other, and many men were slain in their mutual persecution; but here only what was committed by the chiefs is written down.
At the beginning of Lent, news came to Erling that Earl Sigurd intended to attack him; sporadic reports of Sigurd's whereabouts came, sometimes he was nearer, sometimes further off. Erling sent out spies in all quarters around to discover where Sigurd was. Every evening he assembled all the men-at-arms outside the town by sounding a war-horn; and for a long time in the winter they lay under arms all night, ready to be drawn up in battle-array. At last Erling received intelligence that Sigurd and his followers were not far distant, at the farm Re.
Erling began his expedition out of the town, taking with him all the towns-people who were able to carry arms and had arms, and likewise all the merchants; leaving only twelve men behind to keep watch in the town. Erling went out of the town on Thursday afternoon, in the second week of Lent (February 19); and every man had two days' provisions with him. They marched by night, and it was late before they got out of the town with the men. Two men were with each shield and each horse; and the people, when mustered, were about 1200 men. When they met their spies, they were told that Sigurd was at Re, in a house called Rafnnes, and had 500 men.
Erling called together his people and told them the news he had received. All were eager to hasten their march, to fall on them in the houses, or to engage them by night. Erling replied to them, "It is probable that we shall soon meet Earl Sigurd. Also, there are many men in this band whose handy-work remains in our memories; such as cutting down King Inge, and so many more of our friends, it would take a long time to list them all. These deeds they did by the power of Satan, by witchcraft, and by villainy; for it stands in our laws that however highly a man may have been guilty, it shall be called villainy and cowardly murder to kill him in the night. This band has followed witchcraft by fighting at night, and not in the light of day; and in that way they have they been victorious over the chiefs whose heads they have laid low on the earth. We have often seen, and proved, how unsuitable and improper it is to go into battle in the night; therefore let us follow the example of chiefs better known to us, and who deserve better to be imitated, and fight by open day in normal battle array, and not steal upon sleeping men in the night. We have enough men against them, so few as they are. Let us, therefore, wait for day and daylight, and keep together in case they attack us."
Thereafter the whole army sat down. Some opened up bundles of hay, and made a bed of it for themselves; some sat upon their shields, and thus they waited for the dawn. The weather was raw, and there was a wet snowdrift.
Earl Sigurd received the first news of Erling's army when it was already near to the house. His men got up and armed themselves; but not knowing how many men Erling had with him, some wanted to flee, though the majority decided to stand. Earl Sigurd was a man of understanding, and could talk well, but certainly was not considered brave enough to take a strong resolution; and indeed the earl himdelf showed a great inclination to flee, for which he got many stinging words from his men-at-arms.
As day dawned, both sides began to draw up their battle array. Earl Sigurd placed his men on the edge of a ridge between the river and the house, at a place at which a little stream runs into the river. Erling and his men placed their array on the other side of the river; but at the back of his array were men on horseback well armed, who had the king with them. When Earl Sigurd's men saw that there was so great a want of men on their side, they held a council, and were for taking to the forest. But Earl Sigurd said, "You alleged that I had no courage, but it will now be proved; and let each of you take care not to fail, or flee, before I do so. We have a good battle-field. Let them cross the bridge; but as soon as the banner comes over it let us rush down the hill upon them, and none desert his neighbour."
Earl Sigurd was wearing a red-brown kirtle, and a red cloak, of which the corners were tied and turned back; shoes on his feet; and a shield and sword called Bastard. The earl said, "God knows that I would rather get at Erling Skakke with a stroke of Bastard, than receive a fortune in gold."
Erling Skakke's army wished to go on to the bridge; but Erling told them to go up along the river, which was small, and not difficult to cross, as its banks sloped gently; and they did so. Earl Sigurd's array went along the ridge right opposite them on the other bank; but as the ridge ended, the ground was level over the river, Erling told his men to sing a Paternoster, and beg God to give them the victory who best deserved it. Then they all sang aloud "Kyrie Eleison", and struck with their weapons on their shields. With this singing 300 men of Erling's men slipped away and fled.
Erling and his men went across the river, and the earl's men raised the war-shout; but there was no assault from the ridge down upon Erling's array, the battle began upon the hill itself. They first used spears then edge weapons; and the earl's banner soon retired so far back, that Erling and his men scaled the ridge. The battle lasted but a short time before the earl's men fled to the forest, which they had close behind them. This was reported to Earl Sigurd, and his men bade him flee; but he replied, "Let us continue while we can."
His men fought on bravely and cut down on all sides. In this tumult fell Earl Sigurd and Jon Sveinson, and nearly sixty men. Erling lost few men, and pursued the fugitives to the forest. There Erling halted his troops, and turned back. He came just as the king's slaves were starting to strip the clothes from Earl Sigurd, who was not quite lifeless. He had put his sword in the sheath, and it lay by his side. Erling took it, striking the slaves with it and driving them away. Then Erling and his troops returned to Tunsberg to rest. Seven days after Earl Sigurd's fall Erling's men took Eindride Unge prisoner, and killed him, with all his ship's crew.
Markus of Skog, and King Sigurd, his foster-son, rode down to Viken towards spring, and there got a ship; but when Erling heard it he went eastwards against them, and they met at Konungahella. Markus fled with his followers to the island Hising; and there the country people of Hising came down in swarms, and placed themselves in Markus's and Sigurd's array. Erling and his men rowed to the shore; but Markus's men shot at them. Then Erling said to his people, "Let us take their ships, but not go up to fight with a land force. The Hisingers are a bad set to quarrel with, hard, and without understanding. They will keep this troop among them but a short time, for Hising is a small place." This was done: they captured the ships, and took them to Konungahella. Markus and his men went up to the forest district, from which they intended to make assaults, and they had spies out on both sides. Erling had many men-at-arms with him that he had brought from other districts, and they made attacks on each other in turn.
Eystein, a son of Erlend Himaide, was selected to be archbishop, after Archbishop Jon's death; and he was consecrated the same year that King Inge was killed. When Archbishop Eystein came to his see, he made himself beloved by all the country, as an excellent active man of high birth. The Throndhjem people, in particular, received him with pleasure; for most of the great people in the Throndhjem district were related to the archbishop, and all were his friends.
The archbishop made a request to the people in a speech, in which he told them how much money the see needed, and how much more they needed to give to maintain it suitably, as how it was now of much more importance than before. He asked them to give him a higher fee for determining law-suits, instead of what they had paid before, which was judgment money, of that kind which was paid to the king in judging cases. The difference between the two fees was that the fee he required was a half greater than the other. By help of the archbishop's relations and friends, and his own activity, this was carried; and it was fixed by law in all the Throndhjem district, and in all the districts belonging to his archbishopric.
When Sigurd and Markus lost their ships in the Gaut river, and saw they could get no hold on Erling, they went to the Uplands, and proceeded by land north to Throndhjem. Sigurd was received there joyfully, and chosen king at a meeting; and many gallant men, with their sons, attached themselves to his party. They fitted out ships, rigged them for a voyage, and when summer came they went south to More, collecting all the royal revenues wheresoever they came.
At this time the following barons were appointed in Bergen for the defence of the country: Nikolas Sigurdson, Nokve Palson, and several military leaders; as Thorolf Dryl, Thorbjorn Gjaldkere, and many others. As Markus and Sigurd sailed south, they heard that Erling's men were numerous in Bergen; and therefore they sailed outside the coast-rocks, and south past Bergen. It was generally remarked, that Markus's men always got a fair wind, wherever they wished to sail to.
Erling Skakke heard that Sigurd and Markus had sailed south, so he hurried to Viken, gathering an armed force on the way; and he soon had a great many men, and many stout ships. But when he came to Viken, he met with a strong contrary wind, which kept him there in port the whole summer. When Sigurd and Markus came east to Lister, they heard that Erling had a great force in Viken; so they turned to the north again. They reached Hordaland, with the intention of sailing to Bergen, and came opposite the town, Nikolas and his men rowed out against them, with more men and larger ships than they had.
Sigurd and Markus saw no way of escaping other than rowing away to the south. Some of them went out to sea, others went south to the sound, and some went into the Fjords. Markus, and some men with him, landed at an isle called Skarpa. Nikolas and his men took their ships, gave Jon Halkelson and a few others quarter, but killed the most of them.
Some days later, Eindride Heidafylja found Sigurd and Markus, and they were brought to Bergen. Sigurd was beheaded outside of Grafdal, and Markus and another man were hanged at Hvarfsnes. This took place on Michaelmas day, and the band which had followed them was dispersed.
Frirek Keina and Bjarne the Bad, Onund Simonson and Ornolf Skorpa had rowed out to sea with some ships, and sailed along the coast to the east. Wherever they came to the land they plundered, and killed Erling's friends.
When Erling heard that Sigurd and Markus were dead, he gave leave to the barons and their men to return home; but he and his men went eastward across the Folden fjord, for he had heard of Markus's men there. Erling sailed to Konungahella, where he remained throughout autumn. In the first week of winter Erling went out to the island Hising with his men, and called the people to a meeting. When the Hising people came to the meeting, Erling laid his law-suit against them for having joined the bands of Sigurd and Markus, and having raised men against him. Assur was the name of one of the most important men on the island, and he answered Erling on behalf of the others. The meeting was long assembled; but at the close they left the matter in Erling's hands, and he appointed another meeting in the town within one week, naming fifteen men who should appear there.
When they came, he condemned them to pay a penalty of 300 head of cattle; and the men returned home ill pleased at this sentence. Soon after, the Gaut river was frozen and Erling's ships were fast in the ice. The people kept back the fine and lay assembled for some time. Erling made a Yule feast in the town; but the Hising people had joint-feasts with each other, and kept under arms during Yule. The night after the fifth day of Yule Erling went to Hising, surrounded Assur's house, and burnt him in it. He killed one hundred men in all, burnt three houses, and then returned to Konungahella. The men came then, according to agreement, to pay the fine.
Erling Skakke made ready to sail in spring as soon as the ice cleared, and sailed from Konungahella; for he heard that those who had formerly been Markus's friends were marauding in the north of Viken. Erling sent out spies to learn of their doings, searched for them, and found them lying in a harbour. Onund Simonson and Ornolf Skorpa escaped, but Frirek Keina and Bjarne the Bad were taken, and many of their followers were killed.
Erling had Frirek bound to an anchor and thrown overboard; and for that deed Erling was much detested in the Throndhjem country, for the most powerful men there were relatives of Frirek. Erling ordered Bjarne the Bad to be hanged; and he uttered, according to his custom, many dreadful imprecations during his execution. Onund and Ornolf, with the band that had escaped, fled to Denmark; but were sometimes in Gautland, or in Viken.
After that, Erling Skakke sailed to Tunsberg, and remained there all through the spring; but when summer came he went north to Bergen, where at that time a great many people were assembled. There was the legate from Rome, Stephanus; the Archbishop Eystein, and other bishops of the country. There was also Bishop Brand, who was consecrated bishop of Iceland, and Jon Loptson, a daughter's son of King Magnus Barefoot; and on this occasion King Magnus and Jon's other relations acknowledged the relationship with him.
Archbishop Eystein and Erling Skakke often conversed together in private; and, among other things, Erling asked one day, "Is it true, sir, what people tell me, that you have raised the fee upon the people north in Throndhjem, in the law cases in which a fee is paid you?"
"It is so," said the archbishop, "that the people have allowed me to increase the fees; but they did it willingly, and without any kind of compulsion, and have thereby added to their honour for God and the income of the bishopric."
Erling replied, "Is this according to the law of the holy Olaf? Or have you gone to work more arbitrarily in this than is written down in the lawbook?"
The archbishop replied, "King Olaf the Holy fixed the laws, to which he received the consent and approval of the people; but it will not be found in his laws that it is forbidden to increase God's right."
"Since you have augmented your right, perhaps you could assist me to augment the king's right by the same amount."
"You have already sufficiently augmented your son's power and dominion; and if I have exceeded the law by increasing the fee from the Throndhjem people, it is, I think, a much greater breach of the law that one is king over the country who is not a king's son, and who has neither any support in the law, nor in any precedent here in the country."
"When Magnus was chosen king, it was done with your knowledge and consent, and also of all the other bishops here in the country."
"You promised then, Erling, that provided we gave our consent to electing Magnus king, you would, on all occasions, and with all your power, strengthen God's rights."
"I may well admit that I have promised to preserve and strengthen God's commands and the laws of the land with all my power, and with them the king's strength; and now I consider it to be much more advisable, instead of accusing each other of a breach of our promises, to hold firmly by the agreement entered into between us. You strengthen Magnus in his dominion, according to what you have promised; and I, on my part, will strengthen your power in all that can be of advantage or honour."
The conversation now took a more friendly turn; and Erling said, "Although Magnus was not chosen king according to what has been the old custom of this country, with your power you could give him consecration as king, as God's law prescribes, by anointing the king to sovereignty; and although I am neither a king, nor of kingly race, yet most of the kings, within my recollection, have not known the laws or the constitution of the country so well as I do. Besides, the mother of King Magnus is the daughter of a king and queen born in lawful wedlock, and Magnus is son of a queen and a lawfully married wife. If you will give him royal consecration, no man can take royalty from him. William Bastard was not a king's son; but he was consecrated and crowned king of England, and the royalty in England has ever since remained with his race, and all have been crowned. Svein Ulfson was not a king's son in Denmark, and still he was a crowned king, and his sons likewise, and all his descendants have been crowned kings. Now we have here in Norway an archiepiscopal seat, to the glory and honour of the country; let us also have a crowned king, as well as the Danes and Englishmen."
Erling and the archbishop afterwards talked often of this matter, and they were quite agreed. Then the archbishop brought the business before the legate, and easily persuaded to give his consent. Thereafter the archbishop called together the bishops, and other learned men, and explained the subject to them. They all replied in the same terms, that they would follow the counsels of the archbishop, and all were eager to promote the consecration as soon as the archbishop pleased.
Erling Skakke then had a great feast prepared in the king's house. The large hall was covered with costly cloth and tapestry, and adorned at great expense. The courtiers and all the attendants were entertained there, and there were numerous guests, and many chiefs.
King Magnus received the royal consecration from the Archbishop Eystein; and at the consecration there were five other bishops and the legate, besides a number of other clergy. Erling Skakke, and with him twelve other barons, administered to the king the oath of the law; and the day of the consecration the king and Erling had the legate, the archbishop, and all the other bishops as guests. The feast was exceedingly magnificent, and the father and son distributed many great presents. King Magnus was then eight years of age, and had been king for three years.
When the Danish king Valdemar heard the news from Norway that Magnus was become king of the whole country, and all opposition had been removed, he sent his men with a letter to King Magnus and Erling, and reminded them of the agreement which Erling had entered into, under oath, with King Valdemar, of which we have spoken before; namely, that Viken from the east to Rygiarbit should be ceded to King Valdemar, if Magnus became the sole king of Norway.
When the ambassadors came forward and showed Erling the Danish king's letter, and he heard the Danish king's demand upon Norway, he laid it before the other chiefs by whose counsels he usually covered his acts. All, as one man, replied that the Danes should never hold the slightest portion of Norway; for things had never been worse in the land than when the Danes had power in it. The Danish king's ambassadors pressed Erling for an answer, and desired to have it decided; but Erling begged them to go east to Viken with him, and said he would give his final answer when he had met with the men of most understanding and influence in Viken.
In autumn, Erling Skakke went to Viken, and stayed in Tunsberg. From there he sent men to Sarpsborg to summon a meeting of four districts; and then Erling went there with his people too. When the meeting was seated Erling made a speech in which he explained the resolutions which had been settled upon between him and the Danish king the first time he collected troops against his enemies. "I will keep faithfully the agreement which we then entered into with the king, if it be your will and consent to serve the Danish king rather than the king who is now consecrated and crowned king of this country."
The assembly replied to Erling's speech: "We will never become the Danish king's men, as long as one of us Viken men lives." The whole assembly, with shouts and cries, called on Erling to keep the oath he had taken to defend his son's dominions, "even if we must all follow you to battle." And so the meeting was dissolved.
The ambassadors of the Danish king then returned home, and related the outcome of their errand. The Danes abused Erling, and all Northmen, and declared that only evil came from them; and the rumour was that in Spring the Danish king would send out an army and lay waste Norway. Erling returned north to Bergen in autumn, stayed there all winter, and gave their pay to his people.
The same winter some Danish people came by land through the Uplands, saying that they were going to the holy King Olaf's festival. But when they came to the Throndhjem country, they went to many men of influence, saying that the Danish king had sent them to ask for their support if he came to the country, and promising them both power and money. The verbal message was supported by the Danish king's letter and seal, and a message to the Throndhjem people that they should send back their letters and seals to him. They did so, and the most of them received the Danish king's message favourably.
Erling was in Bergen; and towards spring Erling's friends told him the rumours they had heard from some merchant vessels that had arrived from Throndhjem, that the Throndhjem people were openly hostile against him; and had declared that if Erling came to Throndhjem, he should never pass Agdanes alive. Erling said this was mere folly and idle talk.
He made it known that he would go to Unarheim to the meeting; and ordered a boat of twenty rowing benches to be fitted out, with another boat of fifteen benches, and a provision-ship. When the vessels were ready, a strong southerly gale came. On the Thursday of Ascension week, Erling called his men to their departure by sound of trumpet; but the men were reluctant to leave the town and row against the strong wind. Erling took his vessels to Biskupshafn and said, "Since you are so unwilling to row against the wind, raise the mast, hoist the sails, and let the ship go north." They did so, and sailed northwards both day and night. On Wednesday, in the evening, they sailed in past Agdanes, where they found a fleet of many merchant vessels, rowing craft, and boats, all going towards the town to the celebration of the festival, Erling put his vessels amongst them so that the townspeople would not notice the long-ships coming.
Erling came to the town just as vespers was being sung in Christ church. He and his men ran into the town, where it was told them that the baron, Alf Rode, a son of Ottar Birting, was still sitting at table, and drinking with his men. Erling fell upon them; and Alf was killed, with almost all his men. Few other men were killed; for they had almost all gone to church, as this was the night before Christ's Ascension-day.
In the morning early, Erling called all the people by sound of trumpet to a meeting out upon Evrar. At the meeting Erling laid a charge against the Throndhjem people, accusing them of intending to betray the country and take it from their king; and named Bard Standale, Pal Andreason, and Razabard, who then presided over the town's affairs, and many others.
They denied the accusation; but Erling's writer stood up, produced many
letters with seals, and asked if they acknowledged their seals which they
had sent to the Danish king; and thereupon the letters were read. There was
also a Danish man with Erling who had gone with the letters in winter, and
Erling had taken into his service. He related the exact words that each man
had used. "And you, Razabard, spoke, striking your breast; and the very
words you used were, `Out of this breast are all these counsels
Bard replied, "I was wrong in the head, sirs, when I spoke so."
There was now nothing to be done but to submit the case entirely to the sentence Erling might give upon it. He took great sums of money from many as fines, and condemned all those who had been killed as lawless, and their deeds as lawless; making their deaths thereby not subject to revenge or financial retribution. Then Erling returned south to Bergen.
In spring, the Danish king Valdemar gathered a vast army, and took it north to Viken. As soon as he reached the dominions of the king of Norway, the people assembled in a great multitude. The king advanced peacefully; but when they came to the mainland, the people shot at them even when there were only two or three together, from which the ill-will of the country people towards them was evident. When they came to Tunsberg, King Valdemar summoned a meeting; but nobody attended it from the country parts.
Then Valdemar spoke to his troops: "It is evident that all the country-people are against us; so now we have two options: one is to go through the country, sword in hand, sparing neither man nor beast; the other is to turn back without achieving our objective. I am more inclined to take the army to the East against the heathens, rather than kill Christian people here, although they may deserve it."
The others wanted to continue; but the king ruled, and they all went back to Denmark. However, on their way back they pillaged all around in the distant islands whenever their king was out of sight.
As soon as Erling heard that a Danish force had come to Viken, he raised men and ships from throughout the land, so that there was a great assembly of men in arms; and with this force he went east along the coast. When he came to Lidandisnes, he heard that the Danish army had returned south to Denmark, after plundering all around them in Viken.
Erling gave the conscripted men permission to return home; but he himself and some barons, with many vessels, sailed to Jutland after the Danes. When they came to a place called Dyrsa, the Danes who had returned from the expedition lay there with many ships. Erling gave them battle, and there was a fight, in which the Danes soon fled with the loss of many people. Erling and his men plundered the ships and the town, and they returned to Norway with a great booty. Thereafter, for a time, there was hostility between Norway and Denmark.
In the autumn, the princess Krisfin went south to Denmark, to visit her relation King Valdemar who was her cousin. The king received her kindly, and gave her land in his kingdom, so that she could support her household well. She often conversed with the king, who was remarkably kind towards her. The following spring, Kristin sent to Erling and begged him to pay a visit to the Danish king, and enter into a peace with him. In summer Erling was in Viken, where he fitted out a single long-ship, manned it with his finest men, and sailed over to Jutland. When he heard that the Danish king Valdemar was in Randaros, Erling sailed there, and came to the town just as the king sat at the dinner-table, and most of the people were taking their meal.
When his men had made themselves ready according to Erling's orders, set up the ship-tents, and made fast the ship, Erling landed with twelve men, all in armour, with hats over their helmets, and swords under their cloaks. They went to the king's lodging, where the doors stood open, and the dishes were being carried in. Erling and his people went in immediately, and drew up in front of the high-seat. Erling said, "Peace and safe conduct we desire, both here and to return home."
The king looked at him, and said, "Is that you, Erling?"
He replied, "It is Erling. Shall we have peace and safe conduct?"
There were eighty of the king's men in the room, but all unarmed. The king replied, "Peace you will have, Erling, according to your desire; for I will not use force or villainy against a man who comes to visit me."
Erling then kissed the king's hand, went out, and down to his ship. Erling stayed at Randaros some time with the king, and they talked about terms of peace between them and between the countries. They agreed that Erling should remain as hostage with the Danish king; and that Asbjorn Snara, Bishop Absalon's brother, should go to Norway as hostage on the other part.
In a conference which King Valdemar and Erling once had together. Erling said, "Sir, it appears to me likely that it might lead to a peace between the countries if you received that part of Norway which was promised you in our agreement; but if it should be so, what chief would you place over it? Would he be a Dane?"
"No," replied the king; "no Danish chief would go to Norway, where he would have to manage an obstinate hard people, when he has it so easy here with me."
"It was on that very consideration that I came here; for I would not on any account in the world deprive myself of the advantage of your friendship. In days of old other men, Hakon Ivarson and Fin Arnason, also came from Norway to Denmark, and your predecessor, King Svein, made them both earls. Now I am not a man of less power in Norway than they were then, and my influence is not less than theirs; and the king gave them the province of Halland to rule over, which he himself had and owned before. It appears to me, sir, that if I become your man and vassal, you can allow me to hold for you the land which my son Magnus will not deny me."
Erling spoke such things, and much more in the same strain, until it came at last to this, that Erling became Valdemar's man and vassal; and the king led Erling to the earl's seat one day, and gave him the title of earl, and Viken under his rule. Earl Erling went back to Norway, and was earl afterwards as long as he lived; and also the peace with the Danish king was afterwards always preserved.
Earl Erling had four sons by his concubines. The one was called Hreidar, the next Ogmund; and these by two different mothers: the third was called Fin; the fourth Sigurd: these were younger, and their mother was Asa the Fair.
The princess Kristin and Earl Erling had a daughter called Ragnhild, who was married to Jon Thorbergson of Randaberg. Kristin went away from the country with a man called Grim Rusle; and they went to Constantinople, where they were for a time, and had some children.
Olaf, a son of Gudbrand Skafhaug, and Maria, a daughter of King Eystein Magnuson, were brought up in the house of Sigurd Agnhot in the Uplands. While Earl Erling was in Denmark, Olaf and his foster-father gathered a troop together, and many Upland people joined them; and Olaf was chosen king by them. They went with their bands through the Uplands, and sometimes down to Viken, and sometimes east to the forest settlements; but never came on board of ships.
When, Earl Erling received news of this troop, he hurried to Viken with his forces; and spent the summer there in his ships, in autumn he went to Oslo and kept Yule there. He had spies following Olaf's troop, and went himself, along with Orm, the King-brother, up the country to follow them. When they came to a lake they captured all of the vessels that were upon the lake.
The priest who performed divine service at a place called Rydiokul, close by the lake, invited the earl to a feast at Candlemas. The earl promised to come; and thinking it would be good to hear mass there, he and his attendants rowed with over the lake the night before Candlemas day.
But the priest had other plans. He sent men to tell Olaf of Earl Erling's arrival. The priest gave Erling strong drink in the evening, and let him have an excessive quantity of it. When the earl wished to lie down and sleep, the beds were made ready in the drinking room; but when they had slept a short time the earl awoke, and asked if it was not the hour for matins. The priest replied, that only a small part of the night was gone, and told him to sleep in peace. The earl replied, "I dream of many things to-night, and I sleep restlessly." He slumbered again, but awoke soon, and told the priest to get up and sing mass. The priest told the earl to sleep, and said it was only midnight. Then the earl again lay down, slept a little while, and, springing out of bed, ordered his men to put on their clothes. They dressed, took their weapons and went to the church, laying their arms outside while the priest was singing matins.
As Olaf received his message in the evening, they travelled six miles in the night. When they arrived at Rydiokul the priest was still singing mass, and it was pitch-dark. Olaf and his men went into the drinking room, raised a war-shout, and killed some of the earl's men who had not gone to the early mass. When Erling and his men heard the war-shout, they ran to their weapons, and hurried down to their ships. Olaf and his men met them at a fence, at which there was a sharp conflict.
Erling and his men retreated along the fence, which protected them to some extent. Erling had far fewer men, and many of them had fallen, and still more were wounded. What helped Earl Erling and his men the most was that Olaf's men could not see them easily in the dark; and the earl's men were always drawing down towards their ships. Are Thorgeirson, father of Bishop Gudmund fell there, and many other of Erling's courtiers. Erling himself was wounded in the left side; but some say he did it himself in drawing his sword.
Orm the King-brother was also severely wounded; and with great difficulty they escaped to their ships, and instantly pushed off from land. It was generally considered as a most unlucky event for Olaf's people, because if they had proceeded more carefully Earl Erling would have been in their hands. Olaf was afterwards called Olaf the Unlucky; but others called his people Hat-men. They went through the Uplands with their bands as before. Erling went back to Viken to his ships, and remained there all summer. Olaf was in the Uplands, and sometimes east in the forest districts, where he and his troop remained all the next winter.
The following spring the Hat-men went down to Viken, and collected the king's taxes all around, remaining there for much of the summer. When Earl Erling heard this, he hastened with his troops to meet them in Viken, and caught up with them east of the Fjord, at a place called Stangar. There they had a great battle, in which Erling was victorious. Sigurd Agnhot, and many others of Olaf's men, fell there; but Olaf escaped by fleeing, went south to Denmark, and was in Alaborg in Jutland all winter. The following spring Olaf fell into an illness which ended in death, and he was buried in the Maria church; the Danes call him a saint.
King Magnus had a baron called Nikolas Kufung, who was a son of Pal Skaptason. He took Harald (who called himself a son of King Sigurd Haraldson) prisoner, and the princess Kristin, and a brother of King Magnus by the mother's side. Nikolas brought Harald to Bergen, and delivered him into Earl Erling's hands. It was Erling's custom when his enemies came before him, that he said little or nothing to them when he had decided to put them to death; or rose with furious words against them when he intended to spare their lives. Erling spoke but little to Harald, and many, therefore, suspected his intentions. Some begged King Magnus to put in a good word for Harald with the earl; and the king did so. The earl replied, "Your friends advise you badly. You would govern this kingdom but a short time in peace and safety if you were to follow the counsels of the heart only." Earl Erling ordered Harald to be taken to Nordnes, where he was beheaded.
There was a man called Eystein, who claimed to be a son of King Eystein Haraldson. He was at this time young, and not full grown. It is said that he appeared one summer in Svithjod, and went to Earl Birger Brosa (who was then married to Brigida, Eystein's aunt, a daughter of King Harald Gille). Eystein explained his business to him, and asked his assistance. Both Earl Birger and his wife listened to him in a friendly way, and promised him their confidence, and he stayed with them for a while. Earl Birger gave him some assistance of men, and a good sum for travelling expenses; and both promised him their friendship on his taking leave.
Eystein went north into Norway, and when he came to Viken people flocked to him in crowds; Eystein was there proclaimed king and he remained in Viken in winter. As they were very poor in money, they robbed all around, so the people raised an army against them; and being thus overpowered by numbers, they fled away to the forests and deserted hill grounds, where they lived for a long time.
Their clothes being worn out, they wound the bark of the birch-tree about their legs, and thus were called by the peasants Birkebeins. They often rushed down upon the settled districts here or there, and made an assault where they did not find many people to oppose them. They had several battles with the peasants with various success. The Birkebeins also held three battles in proper array, and gained the victory in them all. At Krokaskog they nearly made an unlucky expedition, for a great number of peasants and men-at-arms were assembled there against them; but the Birkebeins felled brushwood across the roads, and retired into the forest. They were two years in Viken before they showed themselves in the northern parts of the country.
Magnus had been king for thirteen years when the Birkebeins first made their appearance. They obtained ships in the third summer, with which they sailed along the coast gathering goods and men. They were first in Viken, but when summer advanced they went northwards, and so rapidly that no news preceded them until they came to Throndhjem. The Birkebeins' troop consisted principally of hill-men and Elfgrims, and many were from Thelemark; and all were well armed. Their king, Eystein, was a handsome man, and with a small but good countenance; he was not of great stature, for his men called him Eystein Meyla.
King Magnus and Earl Erling were in Bergen when the Birkebeins sailed past it to the north; but they did not hear of them. Earl Erling was a man of great understanding and power, an excellent leader in war, and an able and prudent ruler of the country; but he had the character of being cruel and severe. The cause of this was principally that he never allowed his enemies to remain in the country, even when they prayed to him for mercy; and therefore many joined the bands which were raised against him.
Erling was a tall strong-made man, somewhat short-necked and high-shouldered; had a long and sharp countenance of a light complexion, and his hair became very grey. He bore his head a little on one side; was free and agreeable in his manners. He wore the old fashion of clothes, long body-pieces and long arms to his coats, foreign cloak, and high shoes. He made the king wear the same kind of dress in his youth; but when he grew up, and acted for himself, he dressed very finely. King Magnus was of a light turn of mind, full of jokes; a great lover of mirth, and not less of women.
Nikolas was a son of Sigurd Hranason and of Skialdvor, a daughter of Brynjolf Ulfalde, and a sister of Haldor Brynjolfson by the father's side, and of King Magnus Barefoot by the mother's side. Nikolas was a distinguished chief, who had a farm at Ongul in Halogaland, which was called Steig. Nikolas also had a house in Nidaros, below Saint Jon's church, where Thorgeir the scribe lately dwelt. Nikolas was often in the town, and was leader of the townspeople. Skialdvor, Nikolas's daughter, was married to Eirik Arnason, who was also a baron.
As the people of the town were coming from matins the last day of Marymas (September 8th), Eirik went up to Nikolas, and said, "Here are some fishermen come from the sea, who report that some long-ships are sailing into the fjord; and people think that these may be the Birkebeins. It would be advisable to call the townspeople together with the war-horns, to meet under arms out on Eyrar."
Nikolas replied, "I don't panic at fishermen's reports; but I will send out spies to the fjord, and in the meantime hold a meeting today."
Eirik went home; but when they were ringing to high mass, and Nikolas was going to church, Eirik came to him again, and said, "I believe the news to be true; for here are men who say they saw them under sail; and I think it would be most advisable to ride out of town, and gather men with arms; for it appears to me the townspeople will be too few."
Nikolas replied, "You are confusing everything; let us first hear mass, and then make our decision."
Nikolas then went into the church. When the mass was over Eirik went to Nikolas, and said, "My horses are saddled; I will ride away."
Nikolas replied, "Farewell, then: we will hold a meeting today on the Eyrar, and examine what force of men there may be in the town."
Eirik rode away, and Nikolas went to his house, and then to dinner.
The meat was scarcely put on the table, when a man came into the house to tell Nikolas that the Birkebeins were rowing up the river. Nikolas called to his men to take their weapons. When they were armed Nikolas ordered them to go up into the loft. But that was a most imprudent step; for if they had remained in the yard, the townspeople might have come to their assistance; but now the Birkebeins filled the whole yard, and from there scrambled from all sides up to the loft.
They called to Nikolas, and offered him quarter, but he refused it. Then they attacked the loft. Nikolas and his men defended themselves with bow-shot, hand-shot, and stones from the chimney; but the Birkebeins hewed down the houses, broke up the loft, and returned shot for shot from bow or hand. Nikolas had a red shield in which were gilt nails, and about it was a border of stars. The Birkebeins shot so that the arrows went in up to the arrow feather. Then Nikolas said, "My shield fails me." Nikolas and a number of his people fell, and his death was greatly lamented. The Birkebeins gave all the towns-people their lives.
Eystein was then proclaimed king, and all the people submitted to him. He stayed in the town for a time, and then went into the interior of the Throndhjem land, where many joined him, and among them Thorfin Svarte of Snos with a troop of men.
At the beginning of winter the Birkebeins came into the town. The sons of Gudrun from Saltnes, Jon Ketling, Sigurd, and William, joined them; and when they went from Nidaros up Orkadal, they numbered almost 2000 men. Afterwards they went to the Uplands, and on to Thoten and Hadaland, and from there to Ringerike, and subdued the country wheresover they came.
King Magnus went east to Viken in autumn with a part of his men and with him Orm, the king's brother; but Earl Erling remained behind in Bergen to meet the Berkebeins in case they took the sea route. King Magnus went to Tunsberg, where he and Orm held their Yule.
When King Magnus heard that the Birkebeins were in Re, the king and Orm went there with their men. There was much snow, and it was dreadfully cold. When they came to the farm they left the beaten track on the road, and drew up their array outside of the fence, treading a path through the snow with their men, who were not quite 1500 in number. The Birkebeins were dispersed here and there amongst the farms, a few men in each house. When they saw King Magnus's army they assembled, and drew up in battle order. They thought that their force was larger than his, which it actually was, so they resolved to fight; but when they hurried forward to the road only a few could advance at a time, which broke their array, and the first to advance on the beaten were cut down. Then the Birkebeins' banner was cut down; those who were nearest gave way and some took to flight. King Magnus's men pursued them, and killed one after the other as they caught up with them.
The Birkebeins did not have the opportunity to reform their battle array; and being exposed to the weapons of the enemy singly, many of them fell, and many fled. It happened here, as it often does, that although men may be brave and gallant, if they have once been defeated and driven to flight, they will not easily be turned to continue the battle. The main body of the Birkebeins began to flee and many fell; because Magnus's men killed all they could lay hold of, and not one of them received quarter.
Eysteins forces became scattered far and wide. Eystein in his fleeing ran into a house, and begged for his life, asking the peasant to conceal him; but the peasant killed him, and then went to King Magnus. He found King Magnus at Rafnnes, where the king was in a room warming himself by the fire along with many people. Some went to fetch the corpse, and bore it into the room, where the king told the people to come and inspect the body.
A man was sitting on a bench in the corner, he was a Birkebein but nobody had noticed him. When he saw and recognised his chief's body he sprang up suddenly and actively, rushing out onto the floor with an axe in his hands he made a blow at King Magnus's neck between the shoulders. A man saw the axe swinging, and pulled the king to a side, by which the axe struck lower in the shoulder, but still made a large wound. He then raised the axe again, and made a blow at Orm, the King-brother, who was lying on a bench. The blow was directed at both legs; but Orm seeing the man about to kill him, drew in his feet instantly, threw them over his head, and the blow fell on the bench, in which the axe stuck fast. Then the blows at the Birkebein came so thick that he could scarcely fall to the ground. It was later discovered that he had dragged his entrails after him over the floor; and this man's bravery was highly praised. King Magnus's men followed the fugitives, and killed so many that they became tired of it. Thorfin of Snos and a very great number of Throndhjem people fell there.
The group that was called the Birkebeins had gathered together in great numbers. They were a hardy people, and the boldest of men under arms; but wild, and going forward madly when they had a strong force. They had few men amongst them who were good counsellors, or accustomed to rule a country by law, or to head an army. If there were such men among them who had more knowledge the others would still have allowed only those measures which they liked, prefering to trust their numbers and courage.
Of the men who escaped many were wounded, and had lost both their clothes and their weapons, and they were altogether destitute of money. Some went east to the borders, some went all the way east to Svithjod; but the most of them went to Thelemark, where they had their families. They all fled, because they had no hope of King Magnus or Earl Erling sparing their lives.
King Magnus then returned to Tunsberg, and got great renown by this victory; for it had been an expression in the mouths of all, that Earl Erling was the shield and support of his son and himself. But after gaining a victory over so strong and numerous a force with fewer troops, it was thought that King Magnus surpassed all other leaders, and that he would become a warrior as much greater than his father, Earl Erling, as he was younger.