5. Saga Of King Harald Grafeld

11. Of Harald Grenske

King Gudrod Bjornson had made a good and suitable marriage, and had by his wife a son called Harald, who had been sent to be fostered to Grenland to a lenderman called Hroe the White. Hroe’s son, called Hrane Vidforle (the Far-travelled), was Harald’s foster-brother, and about the same age. After his father Gudrod’s fall, Harald, who was called Grenske, fled to the Uplands, and with him his foster-brother Hrane, and a few people.

Harald staid a while there among his relations; but as Eirik’s sons sought after every man who interfered with them, and especially those who might oppose them, Harald Grenske’s friends and relations advised him to leave the country. Harald therefore went eastward into Svithjod, and sought shipmates, that he might enter into company with those who went out a cruising to gather property.

Harald became in this way a remarkably able man. There was a man in Svithjod at that time called Toste, one of the most powerful and clever in the land among those who had no high name or dignity; and he was a great warrior, who had been often in battle, and was therefore called Skoglar-Toste.

Harald Grenske came into his company, and cruised with Toste in summer; and wherever Harald came he was well thought of by every one. In the winter Harald, after passing two years in the Uplands, took up his abode with Toste, and lived five years with him.

Toste had a daughter, who was both young and handsome, but she was proud and high-minded. She was called Sigrid, and was afterwards married to the Swedish king, Eirik the Victorious, and had a son by him, called Olaf the Swede, who was afterwards king of Svithjod.

King Eirik died in a sick-bed at Upsala ten years after the death of Styrbjorn.

Source


12. Earl Hakon’s Feuds

Gunhild’s sons levied a great army in Viken (A.D. 963), and sailed along the land northwards, collecting people and ships on the way out of every district. They then made known their intent, to proceed northwards with their army against Earl Hakon in Throndhjem. When Earl Hakon heard this news, he also collected men, and fitted out ships; and when he heard what an overwhelming force Gunhild’s sons had with them, he steered south with his fleet to More, pillaging wherever he came, and killing many people.

He then sent the whole of the bonde army back to Throndhjem; but he himself, with his men-at-arms, proceeded by both the districts of More and Raumsdal, and had his spies out to the south of Stad to spy the army of Gunhild’s sons; and when he heard they were come into the Fjords, and were waiting for a fair wind to sail northwards round Stad, Earl Hakon set out to sea from the north side of Stad, so far that his sails could not be seen from the land, and then sailed eastward on a line with the coast, and came to Denmark, from whence he sailed into the Baltic, and pillaged there during the summer.

Gunhild’s sons conducted their army north to Throndhjem, and remained there the whole summer collecting the scat and duties. But when summer was advanced they left Sigurd Slefa and Gudron behind; and the other brothers returned eastward with the levied army they had taken up in summer.

Source


13. Of Earl Hakon And Gunhild’s Sons

Earl Hakon, towards harvest (A.D. 963), sailed into the Bothnian Gulf to Helsingjaland, drew his ships up there on the beach, and took the land-ways through Helsingjaland and Jamtaland, and so eastwards round the dividing ridge (the Kjol, or keel of the country), and down into the Throndhjem district.

Many people streamed towards him, and he fitted out ships. When the sons of Gunhild heard of this they got on board their ships, and sailed out of the Fjord; and Earl Hakon came to his seat at Hlader, and remained there all winter. The sons of Gunhild, on the other hand, occupied More; and they and the earl attacked each other in turns, killing each other’s people.

Earl Hakon kept his dominions of Throndhjem, and was there generally in the winter; but in summer he sometimes went to Helsingjaland, where he went on board of his ships and sailed with them down into the Baltic, and plundered there; and sometimes he remained in Throndhjem, and kept an army on foot, so that Gunhild’s sons could get no hold northwards of Stad.

Source


14. Sigurd Slefa’s Murder

One summer Harald Grayskin with his troops went north to Bjarmaland, where be forayed, and fought a great battle with the inhabitants on the banks of the Vina (Dwina). King Harald gained the victory, killed many people, plundered and wasted and burned far and wide in the land, and made enormous booty.

Glum Geirason tells of it thus:

"I saw the hero Harald chase
With bloody sword Bjarme's race:
They fly before him through the night,
All by their burning city's light.
On Dwina's bank, at Harald's word,
Arose the storm of spear and sword.
In such a wild war-cruise as this,
Great would he be who could bring peace."

King Sigurd Slefa came to the Herse Klyp’s house. Klyp was a son of Thord, and a grandson of Hordakare, and was a man of power and great family. He was not at home; but his wife Alof give a good reception to the king, and made a great feast at which there was much drinking.

Alof was a daughter of Asbjorn, and sister to Jarnskegge, north in Yrjar.

Asbjorn’s brother was called Hreidar, who was father to Styrkar, whose son was Eindride, father of Einar Tambaskielfer. In the night the king went to bed to Alof against her will, and then set out on his journey. The harvest thereafter, King Harald and his brother King Sigurd Slefa went to Vors, and summoned the bondes to a Thing.

There the bondes fell on them, and would have killed them, but they escaped and took different roads. King Harald went to Hardanger, but King Sigurd to Alrekstader. Now when the Herse Klyp heard of this, he and his relations assembled to attack the king; and Vemund Volubrjot [1] was chief of their troop.

Now when they came to the house they attacked the king, and Herse Klyp, it is said, ran him through with his sword and killed him; but instantly Klyp was killed on the spot by Erling Gamle (A.D. 965).

[1]: Volubrjotr. Literally “the one who breaks the vala”, that is, breaks the skulls of witches.

Source


15. Grjotgard’s Fall

King Harald Grafeld and his brother King Gudrod gathered together a great army in the east country, with which they set out northwards to Throndhjem (A.D. 968). When Earl Hakon heard of it he collected men, and set out to More, where he plundered.

There his father’s brother, Grjotgard, had the command and defence of the country on account of Gunhild’s sons, and he assembled an army by order of the kings. Earl Hakon advanced to meet him, and gave him battle; and there fell Grjotgard and two other earls, and many a man besides.

So says Einar Skalaglam:

"The helm-crown'd Hakon, brave as stout,
Again has put his foes to rout.
The bowl runs o'er with Odin's mead, [1]
That fires the skald when mighty deed
Has to be sung. Earl Hakon's sword,
In single combat, as I've heard,
Three sons of earls from this one fray
To dwell with Odin drove away." [2]

Thereafter Earl Hakon went out to sea, and sailed outside the coast, and came to Denmark. He went to the Danish King, Harald Gormson, and was well received by him, and staid with him all winter (A.D. 969).

At that time there was also with the Danish king a man called Harald, a son of Knut Gormson, and a brother’s son of King Harald. He was lately come home from a long viking cruise, on which he had gathered great riches, and therefore he was called Gold Harald.

He thought he had a good chance of coming to the Danish kingdom.

[1]: Odin’s mead, called Bodn, was the blood or mead the sons of Brage, the god of poets, drank to inspire them.

[2]: To dwell with Odin,viz. slew them.

Source


16. King Erling’s Fall

King Harald Grafeld and his brothers proceeded northwards to Throndhjem, where they met no opposition. They levied the scat-duties, and all other revenues, and laid heavy penalties upon the bondes; for the kings had for a long time received but little income from Throndhjem, because Earl Hakon was there with many troops, and was at variance with these kings. In autumn (A.D. 968) King Harald went south with the greater part of the men-at-arms, but King Erlin remained behind with his men.

He raised great contributions from the bondes, and pressed severely on them; at which the bondes murmured greatly, and submitted to their losses with impatience. In winter they gathered together in a great force to go against King Erling, just as he was at a feast; and they gave battle to him, and he with the most of his men fell (A.D. 969).

Source


17. The Seasons In Norway At This Time

While Gunhild’s sons reigned in Norway the seasons were always bad, and the longer they reigned the worse were the crops; and the bondes laid the blame on them. They were very greedy, and used the bondes harshly. It came at length to be so bad that fish, as well as corn, were wanting.

In Halogaland there was the greatest famine and distress; for scarcely any corn grew, and even snow was lying, and the cattle were bound in the byres [1] all over the country until midsummer.

Eyvind Skaldaspiller describes it in his poem, as he came outside of his house and found a thick snowdrift at that season:

"Tis midsummer, yet deep snows rest
On Odin's mother's frozen breast:
Like Laplanders, our cattle-kind
In stall or stable we must bind."

[1]: Byres = gards or farms.

Source


18. The Icelanders And Eyvind The Skald

Eyvind composed a poem about the people of Iceland, for which they rewarded him by each bonde giving him three silver pennies, of full weight and white in the fracture.

And when the silver was brought together at the Althing, the people resolved to have it purified, and made into a row of clasps; and after the workmanship of the silver was paid, the row of clasps was valued at fifty marks. This they sent to Eyvind; but Eyvind was obliged to separate the clasps from each other, and sell them to buy food for his household.

But the same spring a shoal of herrings set in upon the fishing ground beyond the coast-side, and Eyvind manned a ship’s boat with his house servants and cottars, and rowed to where the herrings were come, and sang:

"Now let the steed of ocean bound
O'er the North Sea with dashing sound:
Let nimble tern and screaming gull
Fly round and round , our net is full.
Fain would I know if Fortune sends
A like provision to my friends.
Welcome provision 'tis, I wot,
That the whale drives to our cook's pot."

So entirely were his movable goods exhausted, that he was obliged to sell his arrows to buy herrings, or other meat for his table:

"Our arms and ornaments of gold
To buy us food we gladly sold:
The arrows of the bow gave we
For the bright arrows of the sea."

[1]: Herrings, from their swift darting along, are called the arrows of the sea.

Source


Bellows Corona Edda Eiriksmal Facebook Fb Frigg Frigga Goddess Eir Hakonarmal Harald Fairhair Heathen Heathens Heimdallr Heimskringla Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar I – The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding Sólarljóð – Songs of the Sun Gróttasöngr – The Lay of Grotti Hymiskviða Hárbarðsljóð Hávamál Lokasenna Mimir Nine worlds NNV Odin Othin Petition Poetic Edda Prophecy of the Seeress Prose Edda Ragnarök Sacred text Skaldskaparmal Skírnismál Snorri Sturluson social media Toughts Vafþrúðnismál Valhalla Vanaheim Viking Vindheim Völundarkviða Völuspá Yggdrasil Þrymskviða