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Heimskringla

The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway

Part 230 - Bishop Sigurd's Speech

At a House-thing, at which a great many people were assembled, the bishop desired to be heard, and made the following speech:

"Here are now assembled a great many men, so that probably there will never be opportunity in this poor country of seeing so great a native army; but it would be desirable if this strength and multitude could be a protection; for it will all be needed, if this Olaf does not give over bringing war and strife upon you.

From his very earliest youth he has been accustomed to plunder and kill: for which purposes he drove widely around through all countries, until he turned at last against this, where he began to show hostilities against the men who were the best and most powerful; and even against King Canute, whom all are bound to serve according to their ability, and in whose scat-lands he set himself down.

He did the same to Olaf the Swedish king.

He drove the earls Svein and Hakon away from their heritages; and was even most tyrannical towards his own connections, as he drove all the kings out of the Uplands: although, indeed, it was but just reward for having been false to their oaths of fealty to King Canute, and having followed this King Olaf in all the folly he could invent; so their friendship ended according to their deserts, by this king mutilating some of them, taking their kingdoms himself, and ruining every man in the country who had an honourable name.

Ye know yourselves how he has treated the lendermen, of whom many of the worthlest have been murdered, and many obliged to fly from their country; and how he has roamed far and wide through the land with robber-bands, burning and plundering houses, and killing people.

Who is the man among us here of any consideration who has not some great injury from him to avenge?

Now he has come hither with a foreign troop, consisting mostly of forest-men, vagabonds, and such marauders.

Do ye think he will now be more merciful to you, when he is roaming about with such a bad crew, after committing devastations which all who followed him dissuaded him from?

Therefore it is now my advice, that ye remember King Canute's words when he told you, if King Olaf attempted to return to the country ye should defend the liberty King Canute had promised you, and should oppose and drive away such a vile pack.

Now the only thing to be done is to advance against them, and cast forth these malefactors to the wolves and eagles, leaving their corpses on the spot they cover, unless ye drag them aside to out-of-the-way corners in the woods or rocks. No man would be so imprudent as to remove them to churches, for they are all robbers and evil-doers."

When he had ended his speech it was hailed with the loudest applause, and all unanimously agreed to act according to his recommendation.

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