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....

Soon after King Eystein began his journey out of the country over sea to the West (A.D. 1153), and sailed first to Caithness. Here he heard that Earl Harald Maddad's son was in Thursa, to which he sailed directly in three small boats. The earl had a ship of thirty banks of oars, and nearly eighty men in her.

But they were not prepared to make resistance, so that King Eystein was able to board the ship with his men; and he took the earl prisoner, and carried him to his own ship, but the earl ransomed himself with three marks of gold: and thus they parted.

Einar Skulason tells of it thus: —

"Earl Harald in his stout ship lay
On the bright sand in Thursa bay;
With fourscore men he had no fear,
Nor thought the Norse king was so near,
He who provides the eagle's meals
In three small boats along-shore steals;
And Maddad's son must ransom pay
For his bad outlook that fair day."

From thence King Eystein sailed south along the east side of Scotland, and brought up at a merchant-town in Scotland called Aberdeen, where he killed many people, and plundered the town.

So says Einar Skulason: —

"At Aberdeen, too, I am told,
Fell many by our Norsemen bold;
Peace was disturbed, and blue swords broke
With many a hard and bloody stroke."

The next battle was at Hartlepool in the south, with a party of horsemen. The king put them to flight, and seized some ships there.

So says Einar: —

"At Hartlepool, in rank and row,
The king's court-men attack the foe.
The king's sharp sword in blood was red,
Blood dropped from every Norse spear-head.
Ravens rejoice o'er the warm food
Of English slain, each where he stood;
And in the ships their thirst was quenched:
The decks were in the foe's blood drenched."

Then he went southwards to England, and had his third battle at Whitby, and gained the victory, and burnt the town.

So says Einar: —

"The ring of swords, the clash of shields,
Were loud in Whitby's peaceful fields;
For here the king stirred up the strife. —
Man against man, for death or life.
O'er roof and tower, rose on high
The red wrath-fire in the sky;
House after house the red fiend burns;
By blackened walls the poor man mourns."

Thereafter he plundered wide around in England, where Stephen was then the king. After this King Eystein fought with some cavalry at Skarpasker.

So says Einar: —

"At Skarpasker the English horse
Retire before the Norse king's force:
The arrow-shower like snow-drift flew,
And the shield-covered foemen slew."

He fought next at Pilavik, and gained the victory. So says Einar: —

"At Pilavik the wild wolf feeds,
Well furnished by the king's brave deeds
He poured upon the grass-green plain
A red shower from the Perthmen slain.
On westwards in the sea he urges,
With fire and sword the country purges:
Langtown he burns; the country rang,
For sword on shield incessant clang."

Here they burnt Langatun, a large village; and people say that the town has never since risen to its former condition. After this King Eystein left England in autumn, and returned to Norway. People spoke in various ways about this expedition.

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