The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway

by Snorri Sturlson | c.1179-1241 | 320,198 words

The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to the year A.D. 1177....

Part 6 - History Of Hakon, Sigurd's Son

Hakon, the son of Earl Sigurd, was up in the interior of the Throndhjem country when he heard this news. Great was the tumult through all the Throndhjem land, and every vessel that could swim was put into the water; and as soon as the people were gathered together they took Earl Sigurd's son Hakon to be their earl and the leader of the troops, and the whole body steered out of Throndhjem fjord.

When Gunhild's sons heard of this, they set off southwards to Raumsdal and South More; and both parties kept eye on each other by their spies. Earl Sigurd was killed two years after the fall of King Hakon (A.D. 962).

So says Eyvind Skaldaspiller in the "Haleygjatal": —

"At Oglo. as I've heard, Earl Sigurd
Was burnt to death by Norway's lord, —
Sigurd, who once on Hadding's grave
A feast to Odin's ravens gave.
In Oglo's hall, amidst the feast,
When bowls went round and ale flowed fast,
He perished: Harald lit the fire
Which burnt to death the son of Tyr."

Earl Hakan, with the help of his friends, maintained himself in the Throndhjem country for three years; and during that time (A.D. 963-965) Gunhild's sons got no revenues from it. Hakon had many a battle with Gunhild's sons, and many a man lost his life on both sides.

Of this Einar Skalaglam speaks in his lay, called "Vellekla," which he composed about Earl Hakon: —

"The sharp bow-shooter on the sea
Spread wide his fleet, for well loved he
The battle storm: well loved the earl
His battle-banner to unfurl,
O'er the well-trampled battle-field
He raised the red-moon of his shield;
And often dared King Eirik's son
To try the fray with the Earl Hakon."

And he also says-

"Who is the man who'll dare to say
That Sigurd's son avoids the fray?
He gluts the raven — he ne'er fears
The arrow's song or flight of spears,
With thundering sword he storms in war,
As Odin dreadful; or from far
He makes the arrow-shower fly
To swell the sail of victory.
The victory was dearly bought,
And many a viking-fight was fought
Before the swinger of the sword
Was of the eastern country lord."

And Einar tells also how Earl Hakon avenged his father's murderer: —

"I praise the man, my hero he,
Who in his good ship roves the sea,
Like bird of prey, intent to win
Red vengeance for his slaughtered kin.
From his blue sword the iron rain
That freezes life poured down amain
On him who took his father's life,
On him and his men in the strife.
To Odin many a soul was driven, —
To Odin many a rich gift given.
Loud raged the storm on battle-field —
Axe rang on helm, and sword on shield."

The friends on both sides at last laid themselves between, and brought proposals of peace; for the bondes suffered by this strife and war in the land.

At last it was brought to this, by the advice of prudent men, that Earl Hakon should have the same power in the Throndhjem land which his father Earl Sigurd had enjoyed; and the kings, on the other hand, should have the same dominion as King Hakon had: and this agreement was settled with the fullest promises of fidelity to it. Afterwards a great friendship arose between Earl Hakon and Gunhild, although they sometimes attempted to deceive each other.

And thus matters stood for three years longer (A.D. 966-968), in which time Earl Hakon sat quietly in his dominions.

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