39. RECONCILIATION OF THE KINGS.
 
King Eirik went in winter northwards to More, and was at a feast
in Solve, within the point Agdanes; and when Halfdan the Black
heard of it he set out with his men, and surrounded the house in
which they were.  Eirik slept in a room which stood detached by
itself, and he escaped into the forest with four others; but
Halfdan and his men burnt the main house, with all the people who
were in it.  With this news Eirik came to King Harald, who was
very wroth at it, and assembled a great force against the
Throndhjem people.  When Halfdan the Black heard this he levied
ships and men, so that he had a great force, and proceeded with
it to Stad, within Thorsbjerg.  King Harald lay with his men at
Reinsletta.  Now people went between them, and among others a
clever man called Guthorm Sindre, who was then in Halfdan the
Black's army, but had been formerly in the service of King
Harald, and was a great friend of both.  Guthorm was a great
skald, and had once composed a song both about the father and the
son, for which they had offered him a reward.  But he would take
nothing; but only asked that, some day or other, they should
grant him any request he should make, which they promised to do.
Now he presented himself to King Harald, brought words of peace
between them, and made the request to them both that they shou1d
be reconciled.  So highly did the king esteem him, that in
consequence of his request they were reconciled.  Many other able
men promoted this business as well as he; and it was so settled
that Halfdan should retain the whole of his kingdom as he had it
before, and should let his brother Eirik sit in peace.  After
this event Jorun, the skald-maid, composed some verses in
"Sendibit" ("The Biting Message"): --
 
     "I know that Harald Fairhair
     Knew the dark deed of Halfdan.
     To Harald Halfdan seemed
     Angry and cruel."
 
40. BIRTH OF HAKON THE GOOD.
 
Earl Hakon Grjotgardson of Hlader had the whole rule over
Throndhjem when King Harald was anywhere away in the country; and
Hakon stood higher with the king than any in the country of
Throndhjem.  After Hakon's death his son Sigurd succeeded to his
power in Throndhjem, and was the earl, and had his mansion at
Hlader.  King Harald's sons, Halfdan the Black and Sigrod, who
had been before in the house of his father Earl Hakon, continued
to be brought up in his house.  The sons of Harald and Sigurd
were about the same age.  Earl Sigurd was one of the wisest men
of his time, and married Bergljot, a daughter of Earl Thorer the
Silent; and her mother was Alof Arbot, a daughter of Harald
Harfager.  When King Harald began to grow old he generally dwelt
on some of his great farms in Hordaland; namely, Alreksstader or
Saeheim, Fitjar, Utstein, or Ogvaldsnes in the island Kormt.
When Harald was seventy years of age he begat a son with a girl
called Thora Mosterstang, because her family came from Moster.
She was descended from good people, being connected with Kare
(Aslakson) of Hordaland; and was moreover a very stout and
remarkably handsome girl.  She was called the king's servant-
girl; for at that time many were subject to service to the
king who were of good birth, both men and women.  Then it was the
custom, with people of consideration, to choose with great care
the man who should pour water over their children, and give them
a name.  Now when the time came that Thora, who was then at
Moster, expected her confinement, she would to King Harald, who
was then living at Saeheim; and she went northwards in a ship
belonging to Earl Sigurd.  They lay at night close to the land;
and there Thora brought forth a child upon the land, up among the
rocks, close to the ship's gangway, and it was a man child.  Earl
Sigurd poured water over him, and called him Hakon, after his own
father, Hakon earl of Hlader.  The boy soon grew handsome, large
in size, and very like his father King Harald.  King Harald let
him follow his mother, and they were both in the king's house as
long as he was an infant.
 
41. KING ATHELSTAN'S MESSAGE
 
At this time a king called Aethelstan had taken the Kingdom of
England.  He was called victorious and faithful.  He sent men to
Norway to King Harald, with the errand that the messengers should
present him with a sword, with the hilt and handle gilt, and also
the whole sheath adorned with gold and silver, and set with
precious jewels.  The ambassador presented the sword-hilt to the
king, saying, "Here is a sword which King Athelstan sends thee,
with the request that thou wilt accept it."  The king took the
sword by the handle; whereupon the ambassador said, "Now thou
hast taken the sword according to our king's desire, and
therefore art thou his subject as thou hast taken his sword."
King Harald saw now that this was an insult, for he would be
subject to no man.  But he remembered it was his rule, whenever
anything raised his anger, to collect himself, and let his
passion run off, and then take the matter into consideration
coolly.  Now he did so, and consulted his friends, who all gave
him the advice to let the ambassadors, in the first place, go
home in safety.
 
42. HAUK'S JOURNEY TO ENGLAND.
 
The following summer King Harald sent a ship westward to England,
and gave the command of it to Hauk Habrok.  He was a great
warrior, and very dear to the king.  Into his hands he gave his
son Hakon.  Hank proceeded westward tn England, and found King
Athelstan in London, where there was just at the time a great
feast and entertainment.  When they came to the hall, Hauk told
his men how they should conduct themselves; namely, that he who
went first in should go last out, and all should stand in a row
at the table, at equal distance from each other; and each should
have his sword at his left side, but should fasten his cloak so
that his sword should not be seen.  Then they went into the hall,
thirty in number.  Hauk went up to the king and saluted him, and
the king bade him welcome.  Then Hauk took the child Hakon, and
set it on the king's knee.  The king looks at the boy, and asks
Hauk what the meaning of this is.  Hauk replies, "Herald the king
bids thee foster his servant-girl's child."  The king was in
great anger, and seized a sword which lay beside him, and drew
it, as if he was going to kill the child.  Hauk says, "Thou hast
borne him on thy knee, and thou canst murder him if thou wilt;
but thou wilt not make an end of all King Harald's sons by so
doing."  On that Hauk went out with all his men, and took the way
direct to his ship, and put to sea, -- for they were ready, --
and came back to King Harald.  The king was highly pleased with
this; for it is the common observation of all people, that the
man who fosters another's children is of less consideration than
the other.  From these transactions between the two kings, it
appears that each wanted to be held greater than the other; but
in truth there was no injury, to the dignity of either, for each
was the upper king in his own kingdom till his dying day.
 
43. HAKON, THE FOSTER-SON OF ATHELSTAN, IS BAPTIZED.
 
King Athelstan had Hakon baptized, and brought up in the right
faith, and in good habits, and all sorts of good manners, and he
loved Hakon above all his relations; and Hakon was beloved by all
men.  He was henceforth called Athelstan's foster-son.  He was an
accomplished skald, and he was larger, stronger and more
beautiful than other men; he was a man of understanding and
eloquence, and also a good Christian.  King Athelstan gave Hakon
a sword, of which the hilt and handle were gold, and the blade
still better; for with it Hakon cut down a mill-stone to the
centre eye, and the sword thereafter was called the Quernbite
(1).  Better sword never came into Norway, and Hakon carried it
to his dying day.
 
ENDNOTES:
(1)  Quern is the name of the small hand mill-stones still found
     in use among the cottars in Orkney, Shetland, and the
     Hebrides.  This sword is mentioned in the Younger Edda.
     There were many excellent swords in the olden time, and many
     of them had proper names.
 
44. EIRIK BROUGHT TO THE SOVEREIGNTY.
 
When King Harald was eighty years of age (A.D. 930) he became
very heavy, and unable to travel through the country, or do the
business of a king.  Then he brought his son Eirik to his
high-seat, and gave him the power and command over the whole
land.  Now when King Harald's other sons heard this, King Halfdan
the Black also took a king's high-seat, and took all Throndhjem
land, with the consent of all the people, under his rule as upper
king.  After the death of Bjorn the Chapman, his brother Olaf
took the command over Vestfold, and took Bjorn's son, Gudrod, as
his foster-child.  Olaf's son was called Trygve; and the two
foster-brothers were about the same age, and were hopeful and
clever.  Trygve, especially, was remarkable as a stout and strong
man.  Now when the people of Viken heard that those of Hordaland
had taken Eirik as upper king, they did the same, and made Olaf
the upper king in Viken, which kingdom he retained.  Eirik did
not like this at all.  Two years after this, Halfdan the Black
died suddenly at a feast in Throndhjem and the general report was
that Gunhild had bribed a witch to give him a death-drink.
Thereafter the Throndhjem people took Sigrod to be their king.
 
45. KING HARALD'S DEATH.
 
King Harald lived three years after he gave Eirik the supreme
authority over his kingdom, and lived mostly on his great farms
which he possessed, some in Rogaland, and some in Hordaland.
Eirik and Gunhild had a son on whom King Harald poured water, and
gave him his own name, and the promise that he should be king
after his father Eirik.  King Harald married most of his
daughters within the country to his earls, and from them many
great families are descended.  Harald died on a bed of sickness
in Hogaland (A.D. 933), and was buried under a mound at Haugar in
Karmtsund.  In Haugesund is a church, now standing; and not far
from the churchyard, at the north-west side, is King Harald
Harfager's mound; but his grave-stone stands west of the church,
and is thirteen feet and a half high, and two ells broad.  One
stone was set at head and one at the feet; on the top lay the
slab, and below on both sides were laid small stones.  The grave,
mound, and stone, are there to the present day.  Harald Harfager
was, according to the report of men~of knowledge, or remarkably
handsome appearance, great and strong, and very generous and
affable to his men.  He was a great warrior in his youth; and
people think that this was foretold by his mother's dream before
his birth, as the lowest part of the tree she dreamt of was red
as blood.  The stem again was green and beautiful, which
betokened his flourishing kingdom; and that the tree was white at
the top showed that he should reach a grey-haired old age.  The
branches and twigs showed forth his posterity, spread over the
whole land; for of his race, ever since.  Norway has always had
kings.
 
46. THE DEATH OF OLAF AND OF SIGROD.
 
King Eirik took all the revenues (A.D. 934), which the king had
in the middle of the country, the next winter after King Harald's
decease.  But Olaf took all the revenues eastward in Viken, and
their brother Sigrod all that of the Throndhjem country.  Eirik
was very ill pleased with this; and the report went that he would
attempt with force to get the sole sovereignty over the country,
in the same way as his father had given it to him.  Now when Olaf
and Sigrod heard this, messengers passed between them; and after
appointing a meeting place, Sigrod went eastward in spring to
Viken, and he and his brother Olaf met at Tunsberg, and remained
there a while.  The same spring (A.D. 934), King Eirik levied a 
great force, and ships and steered towards Viken.  He got such a
strong steady gale that he sailed night and day, and came faster
than the news of him.  When he came to Tunsberg, Olaf and Sigrod,
with their forces, went out of the town a little eastward to a
ridge, where they drew up their men in battle order; but as Eirik
had many more men he won the battle.  Both brothers, Olaf and
Sigrod, fell there; and both their grave-mounds are upon the
ridge where they fell.  Then King Eirik went through Viken, and
subdued it, and remained far into summer.  Gudrod and Trygve fled
to the Uplands.  Eirik was a stout handsome man, strong, and very
manly, -- a great and fortunate man of war; but bad-minded,
gruff, unfriendly, and silent.  Gunhild, his wife, was the most
beautiful of women, -- clever, with much knowledge, and lively;
but a very false person, and very cruel in disposition.  The
children of King Eirik and Gunhild were, Gamle, the oldest; then
Guthorm, Harald, Ragnfrod, Ragnhild, Erling, Gudrod, and Sigurd
Sleva.  All were handsome, and of manly appearance (1).
 
ENDNOTES:
(1)  Of Eirik, his wife, and children, see the following sagas.

 



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Harald’s Saga

Vikings for all occasions, no tale too odd

Manaraefan Herred