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 - Of Erling Skakke

On Wednesday, before mass was sung in the town, Erling sailed from Bergen with all his fleet, consisting of twenty-one ships; and there was a fresh breeze for sailing northwards along the coast. Erling had his son King Magnus with him, and there were many lendermen accompanied by the finest men.

When Erling came north, abreast of the Fjord district, he sent a boat on shore to Jon Halkelson's farm, and took Nikolas, a son of Simon Skalp and of Maria, Harald Gille's daughter, and brought him out to the fleet, and put him on board the king's ship. On Friday, immediately after matins, they sailed to Steinavag, and King Hakon, with thirteen ships, was lying in the harbour in the neighbourhood.

He himself and his men were up at play upon the island, and the lendermen were sitting on the hill, when they saw a boat rowing from the south with two men in it, who were bending back deep towards the keel, and taking hasty strokes with their oars. When they came to the shore they did not belay the boat, but both ran from it.

The great men seeing this, said to each other,

"These men must have some news to tell;"

and got up to meet them. When they met, Onund Simonson asked,

"Have ye any news of Erling Skakke, that ye are running so fast?"

They answered, as soon as they could get out the words, for they had lost their breath,

"Here comes Erling against you, sailing from the south, with twenty-one ships, or thereabouts, of which many are great enough; and now ye will soon see their sails."

Then said Eindride Unge,

"Too near to the nose, said the peasant, when his eye was knocked out."

They went in haste now to where the games were playing, and immediately the war-horns resounded, and with the battle-call all the people were gathered down to the ships in the greatest haste. It was just the time of day when their meat was nearly cooked. All the men rushed to the ships, and each ran on board the vessel that was nearest to him, so that the ships were unequally manned. Some took to the oars; some raised the masts, turned the heads of the vessels to the north, and steered for Veey, where they expected much assistance from the towns.

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