Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, the Sons of Harald

Genealogy Index | Orme in Icelandic Sagas

Queen Ingerid, and with her the barons and the court which had been with King Harald, decided to send a fast ship to Throndhjem to let the people know of King Harald's death, and also to ask the Throndhjem people to take King Harald's son Sigurd for king. Sigurd was then in the north, and was fostered by Sadagyrd Bardson.

Queen Ingerid herself went east to Viken. Inge was the name of her son by King Harald, and he was fostered by Amunde Gyrdson, a grandson of Logberse. When they came to Viken a meeting was immediately called, at which Inge, who was two years old, was chosen king. This resolution was supported by Amunde and Thjostolf Alason, together with many other great chiefs.

When the news came to Throndhjem that King Harald was dead, the Throndhjem people took Sigurd, King Harald's son, to be the king; and this resolution was supported by Ottar Birting, Peter Saudaulfson, the brothers Guthorm of Reine, and Ottar Balle, sons of Asolf and many other great chiefs. Almost the whole nation submitted to the brothers, principally because their father was considered holy; and the country took the oath to them, that the kingly power should not go to any other man as long as any of King Harald's sons were alive.

Sigurd Slembe sailed north around Stad; and when he came to North More, he found that letters and full powers had arrived before him from the leaders who had given their allegiance to Harald's sons; so that he got no welcome or help there. Sigurd had but few people with him, so he departed and went to Throndhjem, to seek out Magnus the Blind and ask for his assistance in gaining the throne.

When they came to the town, they rowed up the river Nid to meet King Magnus, and moored on the shore by the king's house; but they had to cast off immediately, because the people rose against them. They then landed at Monkholm, and took Magnus the Blind out of the cloister against the will of the monks; for he had been consecrated a monk. It is said by some that Magnus willingly went with them; although it was differently reported, in order to make his cause appear better.

After Yule, Sigurd set out with his men, having received the help that he had asked for from Magnus and his friends. They sailed out of the fjord, and were soon joined by Bjorn Egilson, Gunnar of Gimsar, Haldor Sigurdson, Aslak Hakonson, the brothers Bendikt and Eirik, and also the court which had before been with King Magnus, and many others.

With this troop they went south to More, and down to the mouth of Raumsdal fjord. Here Sigurd and Magnus divided their forces, and Sigurd went west across the sea. Meanwhile, King Magnus went to the Uplands, where he found the help and strength of numbers that he had expected. He stayed there for the winter and all through the following summer, and had many people with him; but King Inge came against him with all his forces, and they met at a place called Mynne.

There was a great battle, at which King Magnus had the most people. It is commonly said that King Inge got his ill health there, which he retained as long as he lived, so that his back was knotted into a hump, and the one foot was shorter than the other; and he was also so infirm that he could scarcely walk as long as he lived. The battle turned against Magnus and his men; and when Haldor Sigurdson, Bjorn Egilson, Gunnar of Gimsar, and a great number of his men had fallen, he took to his horse and fled.

Magnus fled eastward to Gautland, and then to Denmark. At that time there was in Gautland an earl, Karl Sonason, who was a great and ambitious man. Magnus the Blind and his men said, wherever they happened to meet with chiefs, that Norway lay quite open to any great chief who wanted to attack it, for there was no real king in the country and the kingdom was ruled by barons, among whom there was jealousy and discord.

Karl, being a powerful and ambitious man, listened carefully. He raised an army and rode west to Viken, where many people submitted to him out of fear.

When Thjostolf Alason and Amunde heard of this, they went with the men they could gather, and took King Inge with them. They met Earl Karl and the Gautland army to the east in Krokaskog, where there was a great battle and a great defeat, King Inge gaining the victory. Munan Ogmundson, Earl Karl's mother's brother, fell there. Ogmund, the father of Munan, was a son of Earl Orm Eilifson, and Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Fin Arnason. Astrid, Ogrnund's daughter, was the mother of Earl Karl. Many other Gautland people fell at Krokaskog and the earl fled eastward through the forest. King Inge pursued them all the way out of the kingdom and the expedition became a great disgrace to them, making Earl Karl and his men the object of much derision.

Magnus the Blind went to Denmark to King Eirik Eimune, where he was well received. Magnus offered to follow King Eirik if he would invade Norway with a Danish army, and subdue the country; saying that if he came to Norway with his army, no man in Norway would dare to throw a spear against him.

The king succumbed to Magnus' persuasions, raised an army, and went north to Norway with 200 ships; Magnus and his men were with him on this expedition. When they came to Viken, they proceeded peacefully and gently on the east side of the fjord; but when the fleet came to Tunsberg, a great number of King Inge's barons came against them. Their leader was Vatnorm Dagson, a brother of Gregorius.

The Danes could not land to fetch drinking-water without many of them being killed so they went in through the fjord to Oslo, where Thjostolf Alason opposed them.

King Eirik and his army advanced against the town and some of his men advanced against Thjostolf and his troop. Thjostolf retreated to Raumarike and collected men during the night, with whom he returned to the town in the morning. Meanwhile King Eirik had set fire to the town, which was entirely burnt.

When Thjostolf arrived with his men, Eirik's forces took to their boats and sailed away. They found that they could not land anywhere on that side of the fjord, because of the barons who came down against them. Wherever they attempted a landing, they left five or six of their men dead on the shore.

King Inge was at Hornborusund with a great number of men. When he heard what had happened he sailed south towards Denmark. He pursued Eirik and took from him all the ships that he could overtake.

King Eirik made his escape, but was very ill pleased. He thought that King Magnus and his men had made a fool of him by encouraging him to undertake the expedition, and he declared he would never again be friends with them as before.

That summer, Sigurd Slembidjakn came from the West sea to Norway, where he heard of his relation King Magnus' unlucky expedition. He expected no welcome in Norway, so he sailed south past the land to Denmark, and went into the Sound. He encountered a Vindland fleet south of the islands, gave them battle, and gained the victory. He cleared eight ships, killing many of the men, and he hanged the others. He also had a battle off the Island Mon with the Vindland men, and again he gained a victory.

He then sailed from the south and came to the eastern arm of the Gaut river, and took three ships of the fleet of Thorer Hvinantorde, and Olaf, the son of Harald Kesia, who was Sigurd's own sister's son; for Ragnhild, the mother of Olaf, was a daughter of King Magnus Barefoot. He drove Olaf up the country.

Thjostolf was in Konungahella, and had raised an army to defend the country. Sigurd went there with his fleet. They shot at each other, but he could not make a landing and many were killed and many wounded on both sides. Ulfhedin Saxolfson, Sigurd's forecastle man, fell there. He was an Icelander, from the north quarter. Sigurd continued northwards to Viken and plundered far and wide around.

When Sigurd lay in a harbour called Portyrja on Limgard's coast, and watched the ships going to or coming from Viken to plunder them, the Tunsberg men collected an armed force against him, and came unexpectedly upon them while Sigurd and his men were on shore dividing their booty. Some of the men came down from the land, but some of the other party laid themselves with their ships right across the harbour outside of them. Sigurd ran up into his ship, and rowed out against them. Vatnorm's ship was the nearest, and he let his ship fall behind the line, and Sigurd rowed clear past, and thus escaped with one ship and the loss of many men.

Sigurd Slembidjakn sailed from there to Denmark; and at that time a man was lost in his ship, whose name was Kolbein Thorliotson of Batald. He was sitting in a small boat which was being towed and overturned because they were sailing so quickly.

When they came south to Denmark, Sigurd abandoned his ship and went to Alaborg, and was there for the whole winter. The next summer, Magnus and Sigurd sailed together from the south with seven ships, and came unexpectedly in the night to Lister, where they laid their ships on the land. Beintein Kolbeinson, a courtier of King Inge, and a very brave man, was there.

Sigurd and his men jumped on shore at daylight and attacked without any warning. They surrounded the house and were setting fire to the buildings, but Beintein came out of a store-house and stood in the doorway with drawn sword, his shield before him, helmet on, and ready to defend himself. The door was somewhat low. Sigurd asked which of his lads had most desire to go in against Beintein, which he called brave man's work; but none was very keen to take him on.

While they were discussing this matter Sigurd rushed into the house, past Beintein. Beintein struck at him, but missed. Sigurd turned instantly on Beintein; and after exchanging blows, Sigurd gave him his death-stroke, and soon after he emerged bearing Beintein's severed head in his hands.

They took all the goods that were in the farm-house, carried the booty to their ships, and sailed away. When King Inge heard of Beintein's murder, he sent a great force against Sigurd Slembe and his followers; then he went himself, and took a ship from Hakon Paulson Pungelta, who was a daughter's son of Aslak, a son of Erling Skjalgson of Sole, and cousin of Hakon Mage. King Inge drove Hakon and his followers up the country, and took all their gear. Sigurd Stork, a son of Eindride of Gautdal, and his brother, Eirik Hael, and Andres Kelduskit, son of Grim of Vist, all fled away into the fjords. But Sigurd Slembe, Magnus the Blind and Thorieif Skiappa sailed outside the isles and north to Halogaland with three ships.

Magnus spent the winter in Bjarkey Isle with Vidkun Jonson. Sigurd had the stem and stern-post of his ship cut out, made a hole in her, and sank her in the inner part of Egisfjord, and thereafter he passed the winter at Tialdasund by Gljufrafjord in Hin. Far up the fjord there is a cave in the rock; in that place Sigurd hid with more than twenty men. A grey cloth was hung over the mouth of the cave, so that no person could see them from the beach.

Thorleif Skiappa, and Einar, son of Ogmund of Sand, and of Gudrun, daughter of Einar Arason of Reikiaholar, found food for Sigurd during the winter. It is said that Sigurd made the Laplanders construct two boats for him during the winter up in the fjord; they were made without nails, instead they were fastened together with deer sinews, and with woven willow for oar-guides, and each boat could carry twelve men. Sigurd was with the Laplanders while they were making the boats; and the Laplanders had good ale, with which they entertained Sigurd. These boats were so light that no ship could overtake them in the water, according to what was sung at the time.

In spring Sigurd and Magnus went south along the coast with the two boats which the Laplanders had made; and when they came to Vagar they killed Svein the priest and his two sons.

Then Sigurd came south to Vikar, and seized King Sigurd's barons, William Skinnare and Thorald Kept, and killed them both. Then Sigurd turned south-wards along the coast, and met Styrkar Glaesirofa south of Byrda, as he was coming from the south from the town of Nidaros, and killed him.

When Sigurd came south to Valsnes, he met Svinagrim outside of the ness, and cut off his right hand. From there he went south to More, past the mouth of the Throndhjem fjord, where they took Hedin Hirdmage and Kalf Kringluauge. They let Hedin escape, but killed Kalf.

When King Sigurd, and his foster-father, Sadagyrd, heard of Sigurd Slembidjakn's progress, and what he was doing, they sent people to search for him. Their leader was Jon Kauda, a son of Kalf Range, with them was Bishop Ivar's brother, and also the priest Jon Smyril. They went on board the ship the Reindeer, which had twenty-two rowing benches, and was one of the swiftest sailing vessels, to seek Sigurd; but as they could not find him, they returned north-wards with little glory; for people said that they had got sight of Sigurd and his people, and dared not attack them.

Afterwards Sigurd went south to Hordaland, and came to Herdla, where Einar, a son of Laxapaul, had a farm; and went into Hamar's fjord, to the meeting. They took all the goods that were at the farm, and a long-ship of twenty-two benches which belonged to Einar; and also his son, four years old, who was living with one of his labouring people. Some wanted to kill the boy, but others took him and carried him with them. The labouring man said, "It will bring you bad luck if you kill the child; and it will be of no use to you to carry him away, for he is my son, and not Einar's." And on his word they let the boy remain, and went away. When Einar came home he gave the labourer gold, and thanked him for his clever invention, and promised him his constant friendship.

Sigurd then sailed south along the coast all the way east to Viken, and met Fin Saudaulfson east at Kvildar, as he was engaged in collecting King Inge's rents and other duties, and hanged him. Then they sailed south to Denmark.

The people of Viken and of Bergen complained that it was wrong for King Sigurd and his friends to be sitting quietly in the town of Nidaros, while his father's murderer was cruising about at the mouth of the Throndhjem fjord; and King Inge and his people, on the other hand, were in Viken in the midst of the danger, defending the country and holding many battles.

King Inge sent a letter to the merchant-town Nidaros, saying, "King Inge Haraldson sends his brother King Sigurd, as also Sadagyrd, Ogmund Svipte, Ottar Birting, and all barons, courtiers, house-servants, and all the public, rich and poor, young and old, his own and God's salutation. The misfortune is known to all men that on account of our young ages - you being five, and I but three years of age - we can undertake nothing without the counsel of our friends and other good men. Now I and my men think that we stand nearer to the danger and necessity common to us both, than you and your friends; therefore you should come to me as soon as possible, and as strong in troops as possible, that we may be assembled to meet whatever may come. He will be our best friend who does all he can that we may be united, and may take an equal part in all things. But if you refuse, and will not come after this message which I send you in need, as you have done before, then you must expect that I will come against you with an armament; and let God decide between us; for we are not in a condition to sit here at so great an expense, and with so numerous a body of troops as are necessary here on account of the enemy, and besides many other pressing charges, whilst you have half of all the land-tax and other revenues of Norway. Live in the peace of God!"

Then Ottar Birting stood up in the meeting, and said, "This is King Sigurd's reply to his brother King Inge: that God will reward him for his good salutation, and likewise for the trouble and burden which he and his friends have in this kingdom, and in matters of necessity which effect them both. Although now some think there is something sharp in King Inge's message to his brother Sigurd, yet he has in many respects sufficient cause for it. Now I will make known to you my opinion, and we will hear if King Sigurd and the other people of power will agree to it; and it is, that you, King Sigurd, make yourself ready, with all the people who will follow you, to defend your country; and go as strong in men as possible to your brother King Inge as soon as you are prepared, in order to assist each other in all things that are for the common good; and may God Almighty strengthen and assist you both! Now, king, we will have your words."

Peter, a son of Saudaulf, who was afterwards called Peter Byrdarsvein, carried King Sigurd to the meeting. Then the king said, "I will go as soon as possible to my brother King Inge."

Then others spoke, one after the other; but although each began his speech in his own way, he ended by agreeing to what Ottar Birting had proposed. They decided to call together the war-forces and go to the east part of the country. King Sigurd accordingly went to Viken with a large army and there he met his brother King Inge.

That same autumn, Sigurd Slembe and Magnus the Blind came from Denmark with thirty ships, manned both with Danes and Northmen. It was near to winter. When the kings heard of this, they set out eastwards to meet them. They met at Hvalar, near Holm the Grey, the day after Martinmas, which was a Sunday. King Inge and King Sigurd had twenty ships, which were all large. There was a great battle; but, after the first assault, the Danes fled home to Denmark with eighteen ships.

Sigurd's and Magnus's ships were cleared; and as the last was almost entirely bare of men, and Magnus was lying in his bed, Hreidar Griotgardson, who had long followed him, and been his courtier, took King Magnus in his arms, and tried to escape with him to another ship. But Hreidar was struck by a spear, which went between his shoulders; and people say King Magnus was killed by the same spear. Hreidar fell backwards onto the deck, and Magnus upon him; and every man spoke of how honourably he had followed his master and rightful sovereign. Happy are they who have such praise!

There fell, on King Magnus's ship, Lodin Saupprud of Linustadar, Bruse Thormodson; and Sigurd Slembidjakn's forecastle men, Ivar Kolbeinson and Halyard Faeger, who had been in Sigurd Slembe's fore-hold. This Ivar had been the first who had gone during the night to King Harald, and had laid hands on him. A great number of the men of King Magnus and Sigurd Slembe fell, for Inge's men let none escape.

On one boat they killed more than forty men, among whom were two Icelanders - the priest Sigurd Bergthorson, a grandson of Mas; the other Clemet, a son of Are Einarson. But three Icelanders obtained their lives: namely, Ivar Skrauthanke, a son of Kalf Range, and who afterwards was bishop of Throndhjem, and was father of the archbishop Eirik. Ivar had always followed King Magnus, and he escaped into his brother Jon Kauda's ship. Jon was married to Cecilia, a daughter of Gyrd Bardson, and was in King Inge's and Sigurd's army.

There were three in all who escaped on board of Jon's ship. The second was Arnbjorn Ambe, who afterwards married Thorstein's daughter in Audsholt; the third was Ivar Dynta, a son of Stare, but on the mother's side of a Throndhjem family, a very agreeable man. When the troops came to know that these three were on board his ship, they took their weapons and assaulted the vessel, and some blows were exchanged, and the whole fleet had nearly come to a fight among themselves; but it came to an agreement, so that Jon ransomed his brothers Ivar and Arnbjorn for a fixed sum in ransom, which, however, was afterwards remitted. But Ivar Dynta was taken to the shore, and beheaded; for Sigurd and Gyrd, the sons of Kolbein, would not take any ransom for him, as they knew he had been at their brother Beintein's murder.

Ivar the bishop said, that never was there anything that touched him so nearly, as Ivar's going to the shore under the axe, and turning to the others with the wish that they might meet in joy here-after. Gudrid Birger's daughter, a sister of Archbishop Jon, told Eirik Odson that she heard Bishop Ivar say this.

A man called Thrand Gialdkere was the steersman of King Inge's ship. It was come so far, that Inge's men were rowing in small boats between the ships after those who were swimming in the water, and killed those they could catch. Sigurd Slembe threw himself overboard after his ship had lost her crew, stripped off his armour under the water, and then swam with his shield over him. Some men from Thrand's vessel took prisoner a man who was swimming, and were about to kill him; but he begged his life, and offered to tell them where Sigurd Slembe was, and they agreed to it. Shields and spears, dead men, weapons, and clothes, were floating all around on the sea about the ships, "You can see," said he, "a red shield floating on the water; he is under it."

They rowed to it immediately, took him, and brought him on board of Thrand's ship. Thrand then sent a message to Thjostolf, Ottar, and Amunde. Sigurd Slembe had a tinder box on him; and the tinder was in a walnut-shell, around which there was wax. This is related, because it seems an ingenious way of preserving it from ever getting wet. He swam with a shield over him, because nobody could know one shield from another where so many were floating about; and they would never have found him, if they had not been told where he was.

When Thrand came to the land with Sigurd, and it was told to the troops that he was taken, the army set up a shout of joy. When Sigurd heard it he said, "Many a bad man will rejoice over my head this day." Then Thjostolf Alason went to where Sigurd was sitting, struck from his head a silk hat with silver fringes, and said. "Why were you so impudent, you son of a slave, to dare to call yourself King Magnus Barefoot's son?"

Sigurd replied, "Do not compare my father to a slave; for your own father was of little worth compared to mine."

The chiefs wished to have Sigurd killed instantly; but the men who were the most cruel, and thought they had injuries to avenge, advised torturing him; and for this they named Beintein's brothers, Sigurd and Gyrd, the sons of Kolbein. Peter Byrdarsvein would also avenge his brother Fin. But the chiefs and the greater part of the people went away.

They broke his shin-bones and arms with an axe-hammer. Then they stripped him, and would flay him alive; but when they tried to take off the skin, they could not do it for the gush of blood. They took leather whips and flogged him so long, that the skin was as much taken off as if he had been flayed. Then they stuck a piece of wood in his back until it broke, dragged him to a tree and hanged him; and then cut off his head, and brought the body and head to a heap of stones and buried them there.

All acknowledge, both enemies and friends, that no man in Norway, within memory of the living, was more gifted with all perfections, or more experienced, than Sigurd, but in some respects he was an unlucky man. He spoke little, and answered only a few single words under his tortures, although they questioned him. He did not flinch as they tortured him, and it was as though they were striking a stock or a stone. He was a brave man, who had courage to endure tortures; for he still held his tongue, and never moved from the spot. His voice did not alter in the least, but he spoke in a relaxed way, as though he was sitting at the ale-table; neither speaking higher nor lower, nor in a more tremulous voice than normal. He spoke until he gave up the ghost, and sang parts of the Psalm-book, which was considered beyond the powers and strength of ordinary men.

The priest of the local Church had Sigurd's body taken there, but Harald's sons were angry at this and had the body carried back to where it was before, making the priest pay a fine. Later Sigurd's friends from Denmark came with a ship and took his body to Alaborg, interring it in Mary church. Thjostolf Alason transported Magnus the Blind's body to Oslo, and buried it in Halvard's church, next to King Sigurd his father. Lodin Saupprud was transported to Tunsberg; but the rest of the dead were buried on the spot.

When the kings Sigurd and Inge had ruled over Norway about six years, Eystein, who was a son of Harald Gille, came in spring from Scotland. Arne Sturla, Thorleif Brynjolfson, and Kolbein Hruga had sailed westward over the sea after Eystein, accompanied him to Norway, and sailed immediately with him to Throndhjem. The Throndhjem people received him well; and at the meeting on Ascension-day he was chosen king, so that he should have the third part of Norway with his brothers Sigurd and Inge.

They were at this time in the east part of the country; and men went between the kings who brought about a peace, so that Eystein should have a third part of the kingdom. People believed what he said of his paternal descent, because King Harald himself had testified to it, and they did not resort to the ordeal of iron. King Eystein's mother was called Bjadok, and she followed him to Norway. Magnus was the name of King Harald Gille's fourth son, who was fostered by Kyrpingaorm. He too was chosen king, and got a fourth part of the country; but Magnus was deformed in his feet, lived but a short time, and died in his bed.

After King Harald Gille's death Queen Ingerid married Ottar Birting, who was a barons and a great chief, and of a Throndhjem family, who greatly strengthened King Inge's government while Inge was in his childhood. King Sigurd was not very friendly to Ottar; because he thought that Ottar always took King Inge's side. Ottar Birting was killed in the merchant town of Nidaros, in an assault upon him in the twilight as he was going to evensong. When he heard the whistling of the blow he held up his cloak with his hands against it; thinking, no doubt, it was a snowball thrown at him, as young boys do in the streets. Ottar fell by the stroke; but his son, Alf Hrode, who just at the same moment was coming into the churchyard, saw his father's fall, and saw that the man who had killed him ran east about the church. Alf ran after him, and killed him at the corner of the choir; and people said that he had good luck in avenging his father so promptly, and afterwards was much more respected than he had been before.

King Eystein Haraldson was in the interior of the Throndhjem district when he heard of Ottar's murder, and summoned his army, with which he proceeded to the town. He had many men. Ottar's relations and other friends accused King Sigurd, who was in the town, of having instigated the deed; and the people were angry with him. But the king offered to clear himself by the ordeal of iron, to establish the truth of his denial; and accordingly a peace was made. King Sigurd went to the south end of the country, and the ordeal was never afterwards heard of.

Queen Ingerid had a son to Ivar Sneis, and he was called Orm, and got the surname of King-brother. He was a handsome man in appearance, and became a great chief, as shall be told hereafter. Ingerid afterwards married Arne of Stodreim, who was from this called King's-mate; and their children were Inge, Nikolas, Philip of Herdla, and Margaret, who was first married to Bjorn Buk, and afterwards to Simon Karason.

Kyrpingaorm and Ragnhild, a daughter of Sveinke Steinarson, had a son called Erling. Kyrpingaorm was a son of Svein Sveinson, who was a son of Erling of Gerd. Otto's mother was Ragna, a daughter of Earl Orm Eilifson and Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Fin Arnason. The mother of Earl Orm was Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hakon the Great. Erling was a man of understanding, and a great friend of King Inge, by whose assistance and counsel Erling obtained in marriage Christina, a daughter of King Sigurd the Crusader and Queen Malmfrid. Erling possessed a farm at Studla in South Hordaland.

Erling left the country; and with him went Eindride Unge and several barons, who had chosen men with them. They intended to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and went across the West sea to Orkney. There Earl Ragnvald and Bishop William joined them; and they had in all fifteen ships from Orkney, with which they first sailed to the South Hebrides, from thence west to Valland, and then the same way King Sigurd the Crusader had sailed to Norvasund; and they plundered all around in the heathen part of Spain.

Soon after they had sailed through the Norvasund, Eindride Unge and his followers, with six ships, separated from them; and then each was for himself. Earl Ragnvald and Erling Skakke fell in with a large ship of burden at sea called a dromund, and gave battle to it with nine ships. At last they laid their boatss close under the dromund; but the heathens threw both weapons and stones, and pots full of pitch and boiling oil. Erling laid his ship so close under the dromund, that the missiles of the heathens fell outside his ship. Then Erling and his men cut a hole in the dromund, some working below and some above the water-mark; and they boarded the vessel through it. Audunraude, Erling's forecastle-man, was the first man who got into the dromund. Then they won her, killing an immense number of people; taking an extraordinarily valuable booty, and gaining a famous victory.

Earl Ragnvald and Erling Skakke came to Palestine in the course of their expedition, and all the way to the river Jordan. From there they went first to Constantinople, where they left their ships, travelled northwards by land, and arrived in safety in Norway, where their journey was highly praised. Erling Skakke appeared now a much greater man than before, both on account of his journey and of his marriage; besides he was a prudent sensible man, rich, of great family, eloquent, and devoted to King Inge by the strictest friendship more than to the other royal brothers.

King Sigurd went to a feast east in Viken along with his court, and rode past a house belonging to a man named Simon Thorbergson. As the king was riding past the house, he heard such beautiful singing that he was quite enchanted with it. He rode up to the house, and saw a lovely girl standing at the handmill and grinding. The king got off his horse, and went to the girl and courted her. When the king went away, Simon came to know what the object of the king's visit had been. The girl was called Thora, and she was Simon's servant-girl. Simon took good care of her afterwards, and the girl brought forth a male child, who was called Hakon, and was considered to be King Sigurd's son.

Hakon was brought up by Simon Thorbergson and his wife Gunhild. Their own sons also, Onund and Andreas, were brought up with Hakon, and were so dear to him that death only could have parted them.

While King Eystein Haraldson was in Viken, he fell into disputes with the people of Reine and the inhabitants of Hising Isle, who assembled to oppose him; but he gave them battle at a place called Leikberg, and afterwards burnt and destroyed all around in Hising; so that the people submitted to his will, paying great fines to him, and he took hostages from them.

Soon after King Eystein began his journey out of the country over sea to the West, and sailed first to Caithness. Here he heard that Earl Harald Maddad's son was in Thursa, he sailed there immediately with three small boats. The earl had a ship of thirty banks of oars, and nearly eighty men in her. But they were not prepared to make resistance, so that King Eystein was able to board the ship with his men; and he took the earl prisoner, and carried him to his own ship, but the earl ransomed himself with three marks of gold: and thus they parted.

From there King Eystein sailed south along the east side of Scotland, and came to a merchant-town in Scotland called Aberdeen, where he killed many people, and plundered the town. The next battle was at Hartlepool in the south, with a party of horsemen. The king put them to flight, and seized some ships there. Then he went south to England, and had his third battle at Whitby, and gained the victory, and burnt the town. Thereafter he plundered wide around in England, where Stephen was then the king. After this King Eystein fought with some cavalry at Skarpasker. He fought next at Pilavik, and gained the victory. Here they burnt Langatun, a large village; and people say that the town has never since risen to its former condition. After this King Eystein left England in autumn, and returned to Norway. People spoke in various ways about this expedition.

There was good peace maintained in Norway in the first years of the government of Harald's sons; and as long as their old counsellors were alive, there was some kind of unanimity among them. While Inge and Sigurd were in their childhood, they had a court together; but Eystein, who was come to age of discretion, had a court for himself. But when Inge's and Sigurd's counsellors were dead, namely Sadagyrd Bardson, Ottar Birting, Amunde Gyrdson, Thjostolf Alason, Ogmund Svipter, and Ogmund Denger, a brother of Erling Skakke (Erling was not much looked up to while Ogmund lived), the two kings, Inge and Sigurd divided their courts. King Inge then got great assistance from Gregorius Dagson, a son of Dag Eilifson by Ragnhild a daughter of Skapte Ogmundson.

Gregorius had much property, and was himself a thriving, sagacious man. He presided in the governing of the country under King Inge, and the king allowed him to manage his property for him according to his own judgment.

When King Sigurd grew up he was a very ungovernable, restless man in every way; and so was King Eystein, but Eystein was the more reasonable of the two. King Sigurd was a stout and strong man, of a brisk appearance; he had light brown hair, an ugly mouth; but otherwise a well-shaped countenance. He was polite in his conversation beyond any man, and was expert in all exercises.

King Eystein was dark and dingy in complexion, of middle height, and a prudent able man; but what deprived him of consideration and popularity with those under him were his avarice and narrowness. He was married to Ragna, a daughter of Nicolas Mase.

King Inge was the handsomest among them in countenance. He had yellow but rather thin hair, which was much curled. His stature was small; and he had difficulty in walking alone, because he had one foot withered, and he had a hump both on his back and his breast. He was of cheerful conversation, and friendly towards his friends; was generous, and allowed other chiefs to give him counsel in governing the country. He was popular, therefore, with the public; and all this brought the kingdom and the mass of the people on his side.

King Harald Gille's daughter Brigida was first married to the Swedish king Inge Halsteinson, and afterwards to Earl Karl Sonason, and then to the Swedish king Magnus. She and King Inge Haraldson were cousins by the mother's side. At last Brigida married Earl Birger Brose, and they had four sons, namely, Earl Philip, Earl Knut, Folke, and Magnus. Their daughters were Ingegerd, who was married to the Swedish king Sorkver, and their son was King Jon; a second daughter was called Kristin, and a third Margaret. Harald Gille's second daughter was called Maria, who was married to Simon Skalp, a son of Halkel Huk; and their son was called Nikolas. King Harald Gille's third daughter was called Margaret, who was married to Jon Halkelson, a brother of Simon.

In the days of Harald's sons Cardinal Nikolas came from Rome to Norway, being sent there by the pope. The cardinal had taken offence at the brothers Sigurd and Eystein, and they were obliged to come to a reconciliation with him; but, on the other hand, he stood on the most affectionate terms with King Inge, whom he called his son.

When they were all reconciled with him, he asked them to let Jon Birgerson be consecrated archbishop of Throndhjem and gave him a vestment which is called a pallium; and said that the archbishop's seat should be in Nidaros, in Christ church, where King Olaf the Saint reposes. Before that time there had been only common bishops in Norway.

The cardinal also introduced the law, that no man should carry arms in the town, other than the twelve men who were in attendancce on the king. He improved many of the customs of the Northmen while he was in the country. There had never been a foreigner in Norway who was respected so highly, or who could govern the people so well as he. After some time he returned to the South with many friendly presents, and declared thereafter that he was the greatest friend of the people of Norway.

When he returned to Rome the former pope died suddenly, and the people of Rome wanted Cardinal Nikolas for pope, and he was consecrated under the name of Adrian. According to the report of men who went to Rome in his days, he would always break off his business, however important, to speak with any Northmen who wished to see him. He was not long pope, and is now considered a saint.

King Eystein and King Sigurd had quarrelled, because King Sigurd had killed King Eystein's court-man Harald, the Viken man, who owned a house in Bergen, and also the priest Jon Tapard, a son of Bjarne Sigurdson. Because of this a meeting was arrnged in the Uplands the next winter. The two sat together in the conference for a long time, and so much was known of their conference that all three brothers were to meet the following summer in Bergen. It was added, that their conference was to the effect that King Inge should have two or three farms, and as much income as would keep thirty men beside him, as he had not health to be a king. When King Inge and Gregorius heard this report, they came to Bergen with many followers. King Sigurd arrived there a little later, and was not nearly so strong in men. Sigurd and Inge had then been nineteen years kings of Norway. King Eystein came from the south later than the other two from the north. Then King Inge ordered the meeting to be called together by the sound of trumpet; and Sigurd and Inge came to it with a great many people. Gregorius had two long-ships, and at least ninety men, whom he kept in provisions. He kept his house-servants better than other barons; for he never took part in any entertainment where each guest brings his liquor, without having all his house-servants to drink with him.

He went to the meeting wearing a gold-mounted helmet, and all his men had helmets on. Then King Inge stood up, and told the assembly what he had heard; how his brothers were going to use him, and depose him from his kingdom; and asked for their assistance. The assembled people made a good return to his speech, and declared they would follow him.

Then King Sigurd stood up and said it was a false accusation that King Inge had made against him and his brother, and insisted that Gregorius had invented it; and suggested that it would not be long, if he had his will, before they should meet so that the golden helmet should be doffed; and ended his speech by hinting that they could not both live. Gregorius replied, that Sigurd need not long so much for this, as he was ready now, if it must be so.

A few days later, one of Gregorius's house-servants was killed on the street, and it was Sigurd's house-servants who killed him. Gregorius would have fallen upon King Sigurd and his people then; but King Inge, and many others, kept him back.

One evening, just as Queen Ingerid, King Inge's mother, was coming from vespers, she came past where Sigurd Skrudhyrna, a courtier of King Inge, lay murdered. He was then an old man, and had served many kings. King Sigurd's courtiers, Halyard Gunnarson, and Sigurd, a son of Eystein Trafale, had killed him; and people suspected it was done by order of King Sigurd. She went immediately to King Inge, and told him he would be a little king if he took no concern, but allowed his men to be killed, the one after the other, like swine. The king was angry at her speech; and while they were scolding about it, Gregorius came in his helmet and armour, and told the king not to be angry, for she was only saying the truth. He said, "I have come to help you, if you wish to attack King Sigurd; and here we are, over 100 men in helmets and armour, and with them we will attack where others think the attack may be worst."

But the most dissuaded from this course, thinking that Sigurd would pay a fine as compensation for the slaughter done. When Gregorius saw that there would be no assault, he said to King Inge: "You will frighten your men away from you; first they killed my house-servant, and now your courtier, and afterwards they will chase me, or some other of your barons who you would feel the loss of, when they see that you are indifferent about such things; and at last, after your friends are killed, they will take the royal dignity from you. Whatever your other barons may do, I will not stay here longer to be slaughtered like an ox; but Sigurd the king and I have a business to settle with each other to-night, in whatever way it may turn out. It is true that there is but little help in you on account of your ill health, but I should think your will would not be less to hold your hand over your friends, and I am now quite ready to go from here to meet Sigurd, and my banner is flying in the yard."

King Inge stood up, and called for his arms, and ordered every man who wished to follow him to get ready, declaring that it was of no use to try to dissuade him; for he had avoided this for long enough, and now steel must determine between them.

King Sigurd sat and drank in Sigrid Saeta's house ready for battle, although people thought it would not come to a fight at all. Then King Inge came down the road from the smithy shops with his men, against the house. Arne, the king's brother-in-law, came out from the Sand-bridge, Aslak Erlendson from his own house, and Gregorius from the street where all thought the assault would be worst. King Sigurd and his men made many shots from the holes in the loft, broke down the fireplaces, and threw stones on them. Gregorius and his men cut down the gates of the yard; and there in the port fell Einar, a son of Laxapaul, who was of Sigurd's people, together with Halvard Gunnarson, who was shot in a loft, and nobody lamented his death.

They hewed down the houses, and many of King Sigurd's men left him, and surrendered for quarter. Then King Sigurd went up into a loft, and desired to be heard. He had a gilt shield, by which they knew him, but they would not listen to him, and shot arrows at him as thick as snowfall, so that he could not stay there. His men had now left him, and the houses were being hewn down, he went out from there, and with him his courtier Thord Husfreyja from Viken. They wanted to find where King Inge was to be found, and Sigurd called to his brother King Inge, and begged him to grant him life and safety; but both Thord and Sigurd were instantly killed, and Thord fell with great glory. King Sigurd was interred in the old Christ church.

King Inge gave Gregorius the ship King Sigurd had owned. Two or three days later King Eystein came from the east with thirty ships, and with him his brother's son Hakon, a son of King Sigurd. Eystein did not come up to the town, but lay in Floruvagar, and good men went between them to make a reconciliation.

Gregorius wanted them to oppose him with force, thinking there never would be a better opportunity. He spoke against reconcilliation, "For we have no lack of men." But many dissuaded from this course, and it came to nothing. King Eystein returned to Viken, and King Inge to Throndhjem, and they were in a way reconciled; but they did not meet each other.

Somewhat later than King Eystein, Gregorius Dagson also set out to the east and came to his farm Bratsberg in Hofund; but King Eystein was up in the fjord at Oslo, and had his ships drawn more than two miles over the frozen sea, for there was much ice at that time in Viken. King Eystein went to Hofund to take Gregorius; but he got news of what was happening, and escaped to Thelemark with ninety men, from there over the mountains, down in Hardanger; and at last to Studla in Etne, to Erling Skakke's farm.

Erling himself had gone north to Bergen; but his wife Kristin, a daughter of King Sigurd, was at home, and offered Gregorius all the assistance he wanted; and he was hospitably received. He got a long-ship there which belonged to Erling, and everything else that he required. Gregorius thanked her kindly, and said that she had behaved nobly, and as might have been expected of her. Gregorius then went to Bergen, where he met Erling, who also thought that his wife had done well.

Gregorius went north to Throndhjem, and came there before Yule. King Inge rejoiced at his safety, and told him to use his property as freely as his own, King Eystein having burnt Gregorius's house, and slaughtered his cattle.

The ship-docks which King Eystein the Elder had constructed in the merchant town of Nidaros, and which had been extremely expensive, were also burnt that winter, together with some good vessels belonging to King Inge. This deed was ascribed to King Eystein and Philip Gyrdson, King Sigurd's foster-brother, and caused much displeasure and hatred. The following summer King Inge went south with a very large body of men; and King Eystein came northwards, gathering men along the way. They met in the east at the Seleys, near to the Naze; but King Inge was by far the strongest in men.

It nearly came to a battle; but at last they were reconciled on these conditions, that King Eystein should be bound to pay forty-five marks of gold, of which King Inge should have thirty marks, because King Eystein had caused the burning of the docks and ships; and, besides, that Philip, and all who had been accomplices in the deed, should be outlawed. Also that the men, against whom it could be proved that they gave blow or wound to King Sigurd, should be banished from the country; for King Eystein accused King Inge of protecting these men; and that Gregorius should have fifteen marks of gold for the value of his property burnt by King Eystein. King Eystein was ill pleased with these terms, and thought that the treaty had been forced upon him rather than negotiated.

From that meeting King Inge went east to Viken, and King Eystein north to Throndhjem. The peace between them was uneasy, and on both sides they killed each other's friends. King Eystein, besides, did not pay the money; and each accused the other of not fulfilling what was promised. King Inge and Gregorius enticed many people from King Eystein; among others, Bard Standale Brynjolfson, Simon Skalp, a son of Halkel Huk, Halder Brynjolfson, Jon Halkelson, and many other barons.

Two years after King Sigurd's fall both kings assembled armies; namely, King Inge in the east of the country, where he collected eighty ships; and King Eystein in the north, where he had forty-five, and among these the Great Dragon, which King Eystein Magnuson had built after the Long Serpent; and they had on both sides many and excellent troops. King Inge lay with his ships south at Moster Isle, and King Eystein a little to the north in Graeningasund. King Eystein sent the young Aslak Jonson, and Arne Sturla, a son of Snaebjorn, with one ship to meet King Inge; but when the king's men recognised them, they attacked them, killed many of their people, and took all that was in the ship belonging to them.

Aslak and Arne and a few more escaped to the land, went to King Eystein, and told him how King Inge had received them. King Eystein held a meeting, and told his followers how badly King Inge had treated his men, and asked the troops to follow him. "I have," said he, "so many, and such excellent men, that I have no intention of retreating, if you will follow me." But this speech was not received with much favour. Halkel Huk was there; but both his sons, Simon and Jon, were with King Inge. Halkel replied, so loudly that many heard him, "Let your chests of gold follow you, and let them defend your land."

In the night many of King Eystein's ships rowed away secretly, some of them joining King Inge, some going to Bergen, or up into the fjords; so that in the morning the king was left with only ten ships. He left the Great Dragon, which was heavy to row, and several other vessels behind. He cut and destroyed the Dragon and destroyed all that they could not take with them. King Eystein went on board of the ship of Eindride, a son of Jon Morner, sailed north into Sogn, and then took the land-road eastwards to Viken.

King Inge took the vessels, and sailed with them outside of the isles to Viken. King Eystein had then reached Fold, and had with him 1200 men; but when they saw King Inge's force, they did not think themselves sufficiently strong to oppose him, and they retired to the forest. Every one fled his own way, so that the king was left with but one man. King Inge and his men observed King Eystein's flight, and also that he had but few people with him, and they went immediately to search for him.

Simon Skalp met the king just as he was coming out of a willow bush. Simon saluted him. "God save you, sire," said he. The king replied, "I do not know if you are not sire here." Simon replied, "That is as it may happen." The king begged him to conceal him, and said it was proper to do so. "For there was long friendship between us, although it has now gone differently." Simon replied, it could not be. Then the king begged that he might hear mass before he died, which accordingly took place. Then Eystein laid himself down on his face on the grass, stretched out his hands on each side, and told them to cut the sign of the cross between his shoulders, and see whether he could bear steel as King Inge's followers had said of him.

Simon told the man who was to put the king to death to do so immediately, for the king had been crawling about upon the grass long enough. He was accordingly slain, and he appears to have suffered manfully. His body was carried to Fors, and lay all night under the hill at the south side of the church. King Eystein was buried in Fors church, and his grave is in the middle of the church-floor, where a fringed canopy is spread over it, and he is considered a saint.

Back to Icelandic Sagas


Additional Links