King Olaf Trygvason’s Saga

Olaf Trygvasson (960s – 9 September 1000) was King of Norway from 995 to 1000. He was the son of Tryggvi Olafsson, king of Viken (Vingulmark, and Rånrike), and, according to later sagas, the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, first King of Norway.

Olaf is seen as an important factor in the conversion of the Norse to the Roman Catholic religion. Many of these new converts were converted under threat of violence.He is said to have built the first Christian church in Norway, in 995, and to have founded the city of Trondheim in 997. A statue of Olaf Tryggvason is located in the city’s central plaza.

Historical information on Olaf is sparse. He is mentioned in some contemporary English sources,and some skaldic poems. The oldest narrative source mentioning him briefly is Adam of Bremen’s Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum of circa 1070.

In the 1190s, two Latin versions of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar were written in Iceland, by Oddr Snorrason and by Gunnlaugr Leifsson – these are now lost, but are thought to form the basis of later Norse versions. Snorri Sturluson gives an extensive account of Olaf in the Heimskringla saga of circa 1230, using Oddr Snorrason’s saga as his primary source. Modern historians do not assume that these late sources are accurate, and their credibility is debated.The most detailed account is named Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta (“Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason”) and is recorded in the Flateyjarbók, and in the early 15th-century Bergsbók.

The Icelandic, Danish and Norwegian versions can be found here.
Vellekla is kind of special since it has two endings. The first ending happens in stanza 33 (the skald is thanking the earl for his payment for the kvad).

This gives reason to believe that it was created after Hakon Earl of Lade had defended Denmark against the Saxon Emperor in 976, and that the skald later added 4 stanzas.

Snorri Sturlasson renders parts of Vellekla (‘Lack of Gold’) in Heimskringla You’ll find it in the “Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd”. but he is missing stanzas 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 33, 34, 35, and 36.

Vellekla ‘Lack of Gold’ (Eskál Vell) is an unusually long and well-preserved praise-poem for one of the most powerful rulers of tenth-century Norway, Hákon jarl Sigurðarson. Hákon belonged to the house of the Hlaðajarlar, the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade), whose power base lay in what is now Trøndelag. He was born c. 940, and ruled c. 970-c. 995;

Contents ;

  1. Olaf Trygvason’s Birth
  2. Of Gunhild S Sons
  3. Astrid’s Journey
  4. Hakon’s Embassy To Sweden
  5. Of Sigurd Eirikson
  6. Olaf Is Set Free In Eistland
  7. Klerkon Killed By Olaf
  8. Of Hakon Earl Of Hlader
  9. Of Gold Harald
  10. Councils Held By Hakon And Harald
  11. Harald Gormson’s Message To Norway
  12. Treachery Of Harald And Hakon
  13. Death Of Harald Grafeld
  14. Gold Harald’s Death
  15. Division Of The Country
  16. Gunhild’s Sons Leave The Country
  17. Hakon’s Battle With Ragnfred
  18. Battle Between Hakon And Ragnfred
  19. Earl Hakon’s Marriage
  20. Death Of Skopte
  21. Olaf Trygvason’s Journey From Russia
  22. Olaf Trygvason’s Marriage
  23. Earl Hakon Pays No Scat
  24. Harald Opposes Christianity
  25. Olaf Trygvason’s War Expedition
  26. Otta And Hakon In Battle
  27. Harald And Hakon Are Baptized
  28. Hakon Renounces Christianity
  29. Emperor Otta Returns Home
  30. Olaf’s Journey From Vindland
  31. King Olaf’s Forays
  32. King Olaf Is Baptized
  33. Olaf Marries Gyda
  34. King Olaf And Alfvine’s Duel
  35. King Olaf Gets His Dog Vige
  36. Harald Gormson Sails Against Iceland
  37. Harald Sends A Warlock To Iceland
  38. Harald Gormson’s Death
  39. Vow Of The Jomsborg Vikings
  40. Eirik And Hakon Make A War Levy
  41. Expedition Of The Jomsborg Vikings
  42. Of The Jomsborg Vikings
  43. Battle With The Jomsborg Vikings
  44. Earl Sigvalde’s Flight
  45. Bue Throws Himself Overboard
  46. Vikings Bound Together In One Chain
  47. Death Of Gissur Of Valders
  48. King Harald Grenske’s Death
  49. Birth Of Olaf, Son Of Harald Grenske
  50. About Earl Hakon
  51. Thorer Klakka’s Journey
  52. Olaf Trygvason Comes To Norway
  53. Earl Hakon’s Flight
  54. Erlend’s Death
  55. Earl Hakon’s Death
  56. Earl Hakon’s Head
  57. Olaf Trygvason Elected King
  58. Lodin’s Marriage
  59. Olaf Baptizes The Country Of Viken
  60. Of The Hordaland People
  61. Rogaland Baptized
  62. Erling Skjalgson’s Wooing
  63. Hordaland Baptized
  64. Erling Skjalgson’s Wedding
  65. Raumsdal And Fjord-districts Baptized
  66. Olaf Proposes Marriage To Queen Sigrid
  67. Olaf Haraldson Baptized
  68. Meeting Of Olaf And Sigrid
  69. The Burning Of Warlocks
  70. Eyvind Kelda’s Death
  71. Olaf And Odin’s Apparition
  72. The Thing In Throndhjem
  73. Jarnskegge Or Iron Beard
  74. The Feast At Hlader
  75. Of The Thing In Throndhjem
  76. The Throndhjem People Baptized
  77. A Town In The Throndhjem Country
  78. King Olaf’s Marriage
  79. Building Of The Ship Crane
  80. Thangbrand The Priest Goes To Iceland
  81. Of Sigurd And Hauk
  82. Of Harek Of Thjotta
  83. Eyvind Kinrifa’s Death
  84. Halogaland Made Christian
  85. Thorer Hjort’s Death
  86. King Olaf’s Voyage To Godey
  87. Of Raud’s Being Tortured
  88. Of The Icelanders
  89. Baptism Of The Icelanders
  90. Halfred Vandredaskald Baptized
  91. Thangbrand Returns From Iceland
  92. Of King Olaf’s Feats
  93. Baptism Of Leif Eirikson
  94. Fall Of King Gudrod
  95. Building Of The Ship Long Serpent
  96. Earl Eirik, The Son Of Hakon
  97. Eirik’s Foray On The Baltic Coasts
  98. King Svein’s Marriage
  99. King Burizleif’s Marriage
  100. Olaf Gets Thyre In Marriage
  101. Olaf’s Levy For War
  102. Crew On Board Of The Long Serpent
  103. Iceland Baptized
  104. Greenland Baptized
  105. Ragnvald Sends Messengers To Olaf
  106. Olaf Sends Expedition To Vindland
  107. Olaf’s Expedition Vindland
  108. Conspiracy Against King Olaf
  109. Earl Sigvalde’s Treacherous Plans
  110. King Olaf’s Voyage From Vindland
  111. Consultation Of The Kings
  112. Of King Olaf’s People
  113. Olaf’s Ships Prepared For Battle
  114. Of King Olaf
  115. The Battle Begins
  116. Flight Of Svein And Olaf The Swede
  117. Of Earl Eirik
  118. Of Einar Tambarskelver
  119. Olaf Gives His Men Sharp Swords
  120. The Serpent Boarded
  121. The Serpent’s Decks Cleared
  122. Report Among The People
  123. Of Earl Eirik, The Son Of Hakon

Hitherto the narrative has been more or less fragmentary. With Olaf Trygvason’s Saga reliable history begins, and the narration is full and connected. The story of Hakon the earl is incorporated in this saga.

Accounts of Olaf Trygvason may be found in

  • Od the Monk’s legendary saga,
  • in parts of “Agrip”,
  • “Historia Norvegiae”,
  • and in Thjodrek.

Icelandic works on this epoch are:

  • “Egla”,
  • “Eyrbyggja”,
  • “Finboga”,
  • “Floamanna”,
  • “Faereyinga”,
  • “Hallfredar Saga”,
  • “Havardar Saga”,
  • “Are’s Islendinga-bok”,
  • “Kristni Saga”,
  • “Laxdaela”,
  • “Ljosvetninga”,
  • “Njala”,
  • “Orkneyinga”,
  • “Viga Glums Saga”,
  • and “Viga Styrs Saga”.

The skalds quoted are:

  • Glum Geirason,
  • Eyvind Finson,
  • Skaldaspiller,
  • Einar Skalaglam,
  • Tind Halkelson,
  • Eyjolf Dadaskald,
  • Hallarstein,
  • Halfred Vandraedaskald,
  • Haldor Ukristne,
  • Skule Thorsteinson,
  • and Thord Kolbeinson.


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