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 5 - Of Erling's People

Erling was in Bergen with a great armament, and resolved to lay a sailing prohibition on all the merchant vessels which were going north to Nidaros; for he knew that King Hakon would soon get tidings of him, if ships were sailing between the towns.

Besides, he gave out that it was better for Bergen to get the goods, even if the owners were obliged to sell them cheaper than they wished than that they should fall into the hands of enemies and thereby strengthen them. And now a great many vessels were assembled at Bergen, for many arrived every day, and none were allowed to go away. Then Erling let some of the lightest of his vessels be laid ashore, and spread the report that he would wait for Hakon, and, with the help of his friends and relations, oppose the enemy there.

He then one day called a meeting of the ship-masters, and gave them and all the merchant ships and their steersmen leave to go where they pleased. When the men who had charge of the cargoes, and were all ready to sail away with their goods, some for trade, others on various business, had got leave from Erling Skakke to depart, there was a soft and favourable wind for sailing north along the coast.

Before the evening all who were ready had set sail, and hastened on as fast as they could, according to the speed of their vessels, the one vying with the other. When this fleet came north to More, Hakon's fleet had arrived there before them: and he himself was there fully engaged in collecting people, and summoning to him the lendermen, and all liable to serve in the levy, without having for a long time heard any news from Bergen.

Now, however, they heard, as the latest news, that Erling Skakke had laid his ships up in Bergen, and there they would find him; and also that he had a large force with him. King Hakon sailed from thence to Veey, and sent away Earl Sigurd and Onund Simonson to gather people, and sent men also to both the More districts. After King Hakon had remained a few days at the town he sailed farther, and proceeded to the South, thinking that it would both promote his journey and enable new levies to join him sooner.

Erling Skakke had given leave on Sunday to all the merchant vessels to leave Bergen; and on Tuesday, as soon as the early mass was over, he ordered the warhorns to sound, summoned to him the men-at-arms and the townsmen, and let the ships which were laid up on shore be drawn down into the water. Then Erling held a House-Thing with his men and the people of the levy; told them his intentions; named ship commanders; and had the names called over of the men who were to be on board of the king's ship.

This Thing ended with Erling's order to every man to make himself ready in his berth wherever a place was appointed him; and declared that he who remained in the town after the Baekisudin was hauled out, should be punished by loss of life or limb. Orm, the king's brother, laid his ships out in the harbour immediately that evening, and many others, and the greater number were afloat before.

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