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 17 - Journey Of Erling Skakke And Earl Ragnvald

Kyrpingaorm and Ragnhild, a daughter of Sveinke Steinarson, had a son called Erling. Kyrpingaorm was a son of Svein Sveinson, who was a son of Erling of Gerd. Otto's mother was Ragna, a daughter of Earl Orm Eilifson and Sigrid, a daughter of Earl Fin Arnason. The mother of Earl Orm was Ragnhild, a daughter of Earl Hakon the Great.

Erling was a man of understanding, and a great friend of King Inge, by whose assistance and counsel Erling obtained in marriage Christina, a daughter of King Sigurd the Crusader and Queen Malmfrid. Erling possessed a farm at Studla in South Hordaland. Erling left the country; and with him went Eindride Unge and several lendermen, who had chosen men with them. They intended to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and went across the West sea to Orkney.

There Earl Ragnvald and Bishop William joined them; and they had in all fifteen ships from Orkney, with which they first sailed to the South Hebrides, from thence west to Valland, and then the same way King Sigurd the Crusader had sailed to Norvasund; and they plundered all around in the heathen part of Spain. Soon after they had sailed through the Norvasund, Eindride Unge and his followers, with six ships, separated from them; and then each was for himself.

Earl Ragnvald and Erling Skakke fell in with a large ship of burden at sea called a dromund, and gave battle to it with nine ships. At last they laid their cutters close under the dromund; but the heathens threw both weapons and stones, and pots full of pitch and boiling oil.

Erling laid his ship so close under the dromund, that the missiles of the heathens fell without his ship. Then Erling and his men cut a hole in the dromund, some working below and some above the water-mark; and so they boarded the vessel through it.

So says Thorbjorn Skakkaskald, in his poem on Erling: —

"The axes of the Northmen bold
A door into the huge ships' hold
Hewed through her high and curved side,
As snug beneath her bulge they ride.
Their spears bring down the astonished foe,
Who cannot see from whence the blow.
The eagle's prey, they, man by man,
Fall by the Northmen's daring plan."

Audunraude, Erling's forecastle-man, was the first man who got into the dromund. Then they carried her, killing an immense number of people; making an extraordinarily valuable booty, and gaining a famous victory. Earl Ragnvald and Erling Skakke came to Palestine in the course of their expedition, and all the way to the river Jordan.

From thence they went first to Constantinople, where they left their ships, travelled northwards by land, and arrived in safety in Norway, where their journey was highly praised.

Erling Skakke appeared now a much greater man than before, both on account of his journey and of his marriage; besides he was a prudent sensible man, rich, of great family, eloquent, and devoted to King Inge by the strictest friendship more than to the other royal brothers.

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