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 20 - King Magnus's Armament

Thereafter King Magnus gathered together a great army, and summoned to him all lendermen and powerful bondes, and collected war-ships. When the army was assembled it was very handsome, and well fitted out. He had seventy large vessels when he sailed from Norway.

So says Thiodolf the skald: —

"Brave king! the terror of the foe,
With thee will many a long-ship go.
Full seventy sail are gathered here,
Eastward with their great king to steer.
And southward now the bright keel glides;
O'er the white waves the Bison rides.
Sails swell, yards crack, the highest mast
O'er the wide sea scarce seen at last."

Here it related that King Magnus had the great Bison, which his father King Olaf had built. It had more than thirty banks of rowers; and forward on the bow was a great buffalo head, and aft on the stern-post was its tail. Both the head and the tail, and both sides of the ship, were gilded over.

Of this speaks Arnor, the earls' skald: —

"The white foam lashing o'er the deck
Oft made the glided head to shake;
The helm down, the vessel's heel
Oft showed her stem's bright-glacing steel.
Around Stavanger-point careering,
Through the wild sea's white flames steering,
Tackle loud singing to the strain,
The storm-horse flies to Denmark's plain."

King Magnus set out to sea from Agder, and sailed over to Jutland. So says Arnor: —

"I can relate how through the gale
The gallant Bison carried sail.
With her lee gunwale in the wave,
The king on board, Magnus the brave!
The iron-clad Thingmen's chief to see
On Jutland's coast right glad were we, —
Right glad our men to see a king
Who in the fight his sword could swing."

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