Here begins the Prologue
…tus (1), treating in his Philostratus of the other good things of life, says in praise of friendship that between true friends hardly any difficulties arise. Not by any means daring to oppose the well-founded axiom of such a philosopher, knowing myself incapable of matching in any way such sagacity and my powers too feeble for such an onerous task, yet bound in duty to respond to the highly honourable urging of the most excellent of men, lest I show myself ungrateful for the favour of his many generosities (2), I shall therefore attempt, willy-nilly, to undertake what is asked of me. For it is a heavy burden on my ignorant self to describe comprehensively the situation of a region so very vast, to disentangle the genealogy of its rulers, to relate the advent of Christianity side by side with the retreat of paganism and to expound the current state of both religions (3). You yourself know best what a labour this will be, full of inordinate toil, a subject, though hitherto unattempted in Latin discourse (4), is devised by an eminent mind and imposed upon my callow ness; and you know best how onerous the task and how great the risk to be run on account of envious men. I comply nevertheless, trusting in the sources we have and disregarding their devouring rancour if it touches us, because you generations to come will have the fruits of my labour, in which, if the author who obeys has done aught amiss in untaught presumption, may the patron who ordains pardon it in forbearing charity. Therefore, Agnellus (5), whatever other readers may say of these writings of mine, that they are not smoothed with rhetorical charm but gravelled with rough barbarisms, do you who are set above me with a so teacher's authority (6) receive them with the kindness that befits a friend. For I am neither eager for praise as a historian nor fearful of the sting of censure as a liar, since concerning the course of early times I have added nothing new or unknown but in all things followed the assertions of my seniors. On the other hand, if I came upon something noteworthy that occurred in our own day I have included it, for I have observed that the illustrious acts of many men, along with the men themselves, daily escape the memory of our contemporaries because there are no writers to record them.
Here begins the first book of the History of Norway (7)
Norway, then, received its name from a certain king called Nórr (8). And Norway is a very vast country (9), though for the most part uninhabitable because of the great number of mountains and forests and frozen tracts. It starts in the east from…, a great river (10), but turns westwards and so is by a curving stretch bends its way towards the north. It is a land with many inlets and innumerable promontories and through its length contains three habitable regions. The first is and largest is the seaboard region. The second is the interior, also called the mountainous, region. The third is the forest region, lived in by Lapps (11) but not cultivated. Bounded by the stream of ocean to the west and north, it has Denmark and the Baltic Sea to the south, and Sweden, Gautland, Angrmannaland and Jamtaland (12) to the east. Thanks be to God, the populations of these countries are now Christian, but northward and spreading from the east across Norway are many peoples devoted to paganism: Kirjalians, Kvænir, Horn-Lapps (13) and the people of the two Bjarmalands (14). Of what peoples live beyond these we have no certain knowledge. However, when certain shipmen were trying to return to Norway from Iceland, they were driven by contrary tempests into the wintry region and at last made land between the Greenlanders and the Bjarmians (15) where, so they claimed, they found men of prodigious size and a country of maidens (these are said to conceive children by a drink of water) (16). Greenland (17) is cut off from these by icy crags. This country, which was discovered, settled and confirmed in the universal faith by Icelanders (18), is the western boundary of Europe, almost touching the African islands where the waters of ocean flood in. Beyond the Greenlanders some manikins have been found by hunters, who call them Skrælings (19). Weapon-wounds inflicted on them from which they will survive grow white without bleeding, but if they are mortal the blood hardly ceases flowing. But they lack iron completely: they use whales' teeth for missiles, sharp stones for knives.
Thus far we have made known Norway's situation and surroundings. Now let us also describe its threefold inhabited regions.
The three inhabited parts of Norway
The seaboard region can be called Decapolis (20), for it is famous for ten townships. It comprises four provinces (21) containing twenty-two districts (22). The first province is called the Vík, is beginning at the border of Denmark and extending to the place known as Rýgjarbit; it contains four districts. The second is the Gula province, going as far as the island called Miðja and containing six districts. In the northernmost of these, with the name Mœrr, there is a farm of a marvel lous nature, for every felled tree and cut branch turns to stone if they lie one year on the ground there. The third province is called Þrándheimr, a bay with a very narrow entrance, having eight districts in the capacious pouches of its shores and three more outside it, making eleven in all. The fourth is Hálogaland, whose inhabitants often live together with the Lapps and have frequent commerce with them. This province bounds Norway to the north, where the place Vegistafr marks the divide between it and Bjarma land. The deepest stretch of northern sea is found there, with a Charybdis and Scylla (23) and whirlpools from which there is no escape (24); and there are frozen headlands which send headlong into the sea immense icebergs, which are increased in bulk by the water spewed on them by the flooding waves and solidified by the frost of winter. Traders making for Greenland often and unwillingly must set their course among them and so run the risk of shipwreck. There are also great whales of diverse kind there, shattering the strongest ships and swallowing down the sailors they overwhelm. One- eyed horse-whales with spreading manes are found there, most ferocious beasts ploughing the depths of the sea. The pistrix is among them and the hafstrambr (25), a monster of great size but without tail or head, looking like a tree-trunk as it leaps up and down and portending perils to mariners is when it appears. The hafgufa and the hafrkitti (26) occur there, the biggest of all sea-monsters, and countless more of this sort.
Leaving the seaboard, let us move to the mountainous region.
The mountainous parts of Norway
The interior region goes from the border of Gautland and extends to Þrándheimr, comprising four provinces and twelve districts. The first of these provinces consists of the people of Raumaríki and Hringaríki in their sequent districts. The second comprises Þelamork and the settlements beyond it. The third is Heiðmork with the Alv valleys. And the fourth takes in Guðbrandsdalar with the people of Lóar and other adjacent districts. It ends with the great Dofrafjall. There are in addition numerous inhabited parts between the sea board and mountainous regions, Valdres and Haddingjadalr so and others, which are subject to the Gulaþing laws. In the mountainous region there is a river, red with golden sands, which flows out of the great lake Mjors and reaches the sea in the Vík. Saxons came there once upon a time and they realised the presence of gold from what they saw on the hooves of cattle swimming across that river. They secretly smelted the gold and carried it away in boundless quan tity. And close to the township of Oslo there is a great wealth of silver, but floods of water now make it inaccessible to men and it lies hidden under cliffs of rock (27).
Now that we have traversed the mountainous region, let us enter and explore the forests of the Lapps.
Bordering the length of Norway is a vast wasteland, sepa rating it from the pagan peoples. This waste is lived in by Lapps and by the wild animals whose flesh they eat half raw and whose skins they wear (28). They are indeed most skilful hunters, solitary rovers and nomadic. For homes they use huts of hide which they carry about on their shoulders as they move with their wives and children, travelling faster than a bird over snow-fields and mountain slopes by means of smooth wooden slats attached under their feet (a device they call ondros (29)) and drawn by reindeer. For where they lodge is uncertain since at any given time it is the supply of game which decides their hunting-grounds. There is no limit to the number of wild animals there: bears, wolves, lynxes, foxes, sables, otters, badgers and beavers (30). This last beast, the beaver, is marvellously wary. Since it is very often chased by hunters' hounds, it digs itself three underground dens by a stream. When the water rises, it keeps to the middle or top one, but when the water is low and dogs are snap ping, they leave a slave-beaver (31) in the way of the hounds at the entrance, and the master-beaver, as if homeward bound, makes his way with mate and cubs to the lowest den, where he has freer access to the stream, for they put more trust in travel by water than by land. When winter provisions are to be gathered in, they work all the harder, using their teeth to cut down huge elms (whose bark is the food they prefer) and load them on their slave, who lies on his back holding a bar of wood in his front paws. They use him as a cart in this way and bring in a great quantity, helping each other to drag the load-bearer by gripping the bar with their teeth. For there is a certain servile class of beaver which fetches a very small price and on account of frequent use for work is not furry but smooth-skinned. Among the Lapps are also a great many squirrels and ermines, and every year the Lapps pay the skins of all these animals as large tribute to the kings of Norway, whose subjects they are.
Their intolerable ungodliness will hardly seem credible nor how much devilish superstition they exercise in the art of magic (32). For some of them are revered as soothsayers by the foolish multitude because whenever asked they can employ an unclean spirit, which they call a gandus (33), and make many predictions for many people which later come to pass. By marvellous means they can also draw to them selves objects of desire from distant parts and although far off themselves miraculously bring hidden treasures to light.
Once when some Christians were among the Lapps on a trading trip, they were sitting at table when their hostess suddenly collapsed and died. The Christians were sorely grieved but the Lapps, who were not at all sorrowful, told them that she was not dead but had been snatched away by the gandi of rivals and that they themselves would soon retrieve her. Then a wizard spread out a cloth under (34) which he made himself ready for unholy magic incantations and with hands extended lifted up a small vessel like a sieve, which was covered with images of whales and reindeer with harness and little skis, even a little boat with oars (35). The devilish gandus would use these means of transport over heights of snow, across slopes of mountains and through depths of lakes. After dancing there for a very long time to endow this equipment with magic power, he at last fell to the ground, as black as an Ethiopian (36) and foaming at the mouth like a madman, then his belly burst and finally with a great cry he gave up the ghost (37). Then they consulted another man, one highly skilled in the magic art, as to what should be done about the two of them. He went through the same motions but with a different outcome, for the hostess rose up unharmed. And he told them that the dead wizard had perished in the following way: his gandus, in the shape of a whale (38), was rushing at speed through a certain lake when by evil chance it met an enemy gandus (39) in the shape of sharp ened stakes, and these stakes, hidden in the depths of that same lake, pierced its belly, as was evident from the dead wizard in the house (40).
On another occasion, when Lapps side by side with Christ ians were trying to hook the squamous flock, the Lapps had noticed creels almost full of fish in the dwellings of the Christians, and these they drew from the water's depth is and almost filled their boat with fish.
I have selected these piecemeal from among the innu merable deceptions of the Lapps and offered them as illus trations of such a godless group for the benefit of people who live at a greater distance from them (41).
Having made the circuit of Norway's regions, let us turn to the tributary islands. As for the islands which lie off the coast of Norway itself, they are such a multitude that no one can count them.
The tributary islands
There are, then, certain islands lying off the coast of the Gula province which are called the Sólund islands by the inhabitants, from which the sea between Norway and Scot land (42) is named the Sólund Sea. In this sea are the Orkney islands, more than thirty in number (43), deriving their name from a certain earl named Orkan (44). These islands have been inhabited by various peoples (45) and are now divided into two realms: the southern isles, enhanced by the rule of petty kings, and the northern isles, graced by the rule of earls (46). Each of them pays no small tribute to the kings of Norway (47).
The Orkney islands
These islands were first inhabited by the Picts (48) and the Papar. The Picts, who were only a little bigger than pygmies, worked great marvels in city-building each evening and morning, but at noontide they were utterly bereft of their strength and hid for fear in little subterranean dwellings. At that time moreover the islands were not called the Orkneys but Pictland, and this is why still to this day the sea dividing the islands from Scotland is called the Pictland Firth (49) by the local people. The greatest of all whirlpools is to be found there, which engulfs the strongest ships, sucking them in at ebb tide and spewing out their fragments with a belch at flood tide (50). We do not know at all where these people came from. On the other hand, the Papar got their name from the albs they wore, like clerics, for all clergy are called papœ in the German tongue (51). There is moreover an island still today called Papey after them (52). It is seen, however, from the character and script of the books they left behind them that they were Africans who practised Judaism (53). When Háraldr hárfagri ruled in Norway some vikings of the kin of a very mighty prince, Rognvaldr (54), crossed the Sólund Sea with a large fleet, drove the Papar from their long-established homes, destroyed them utterly and subdued the islands under their own rule. With winter bases thus provided, they sallied forth all the so more securely in summer and imposed their harsh sway now on the English, now on the Scots, and sometimes on the Irish, so that Northumbria in England, Caithness in Scotland, Dublin and other coastal towns in Ireland were brought under their rule. In this company was a certain Hrólfr, called Gongu-Hrólfr (55) by his comrades because he always travelled on foot, his immense size making it impossible for him to ride. With a few men and by means of a marvellous stratagem he took Rouen (56), a city in Normandy. He came into a river with fifteen ships, where each crew member dug his part of a trench which was then covered by thin turves, simulating the appearance of firm ground. They then arrayed themselves on the landward side of the trenched ground and advanced prepared for battle. When the townsmen saw this, they met the enemy in head-on attack, but these feigned flight as if racing back to their ships. The mounted men, pursuing them faster than the rest, all fell in heaps into the hidden trenches, their armoured horses with them, where the Norwegians slaughtered them with deadly hand. So, with the flight of the townsmen, they freely entered the city and along with it gained the whole region, which has taken its name of Normandy from them.
Having obtained rule over the realm, this same Hrólfr married the widow of the dead count (57), by whom he had William, called Longspear, the father of Richard, who also had a son with the same name as himself. The younger Richard was the father of William the Bastard (58), who conquered the English. He was the father of William Rufus and his brother Henry, who in the prophecies of Merlin is styled the Lion of Justice (59). When established as count of Normandy Hrólfr invaded the Frisians with a hostile force and won the victory, but soon afterwards he was treacherously killed in Holland by his stepson (60).
Meanwhile his comrades confirmed their dominion in the Orkney islands, which are indeed to this day still under the rule of their descendants, though subject to the kings of Norway by due payment of tribute (61).
The Faroe islands
In the streams of ocean there are also "islands of sheep", eighteen in number (62), which the inhabitants call Færeyjar in their native tongue, for fat flocks abound in the ownership of the farmers there, some having sheep by the thousand. These islanders also pay tribute to our kings (63) at fixed times.
Westwards from there is the big island which the Italians called Ultima Thule (64). It is now inhabited by a multitude of colonists but it was once a vast empty land and unknown to men (65) until the time of Haraidr hárfagri. Then Ingólfr and Hjorleifr, Norwegians (66) who were fleeing their homeland on account of killings, took ship with their wives and children and, seeking their way through the combing waves, finally found the island which had first been discovered by Garðarr and subsequently by Anbi (67). In about fifty years (68) it was in habited all over in the same way as it is today. The Norwe gians call this island Iceland, "the land of ice" (69), for the island contains countless mountains covered with uninterrupted sheets of ice and by their sheen mariners at sea and far from land customarily set their course for the haven best suited to them. Among them is Mount Hekla which, quak ing all over like Mount Etna (70), is shaken by a terrible disturbance of the ground and sends out bursts of sulphurous flames. Small hot springs similarly boil up at various sites which, roofed over and tempered by the introduction of cold water, provide the local people with bath-like washing places. There are some other wells on the island in which wool or cloth steeped overnight turns to stone. Another spring there, gushing in the sandy coils of a river, has the taste and colour of beer; a mere mouthful is said to restore health.
Nor do I think it proper to pass over what is reported to have occurred in our own time (71): for over a stretch of three miles the whole ocean began to surge like narrow waters and boil like a cauldron, while out of the deep the gaping earth sent forth fire-spewing vapours and a great moun tain emerging from the waves. This will be thought an evil omen by many people, auguring that when the elements spontaneously disturb the regular tides and movements of nature it either portends marvels on earth or prefigures the end of the world. For in the book Solinus wrote on the wonders of the world (72), he said that there is a very deep abyss in the earth itself (which is why it is written, "the fountains of the great deep were broken up" (73)) and alongside it are open-mouthed caverns containing winds which are said to be brought forth by the breathing of the water, and these are the breath of gales. Indeed, by their breathing these winds draw to them the waters of the sea through hidden passages in the earth; they shut them up in the vaults of the abyss, and then by the same force drive them out again, causing sea-surges, spates and the whirling of waterspouts. Earthquakes (74) also occur and various discharges of vapour and conflagration, for when the winds' breath, held in the cheeks of earth, presses to burst out, it shakes the foundation of the world with a dreadful roaring and forces it to tremble. So when the winds' breath contends with fire in the earth's interior, then even in mid-ocean the depths are fissured and smoky exhalations and sulphurous flames are seen to emerge. Similarly, what is a tremor in the ground is believed to correspond to thunder in the clouds, a rift here to lightning there. Although we do not clearly understand these marvels in the world, or oth ers greater still, they are not therefore to be taken as omens or reckoned portents foreboding the deluge. On the con trary, since in some mysterious manner they gloriously serve him who knows all things unknown, the immutable Crea tor of mutable things, they comply with nature in every way. Since, truly, the spark of our feeble intellect, surrounded by the obscurity of corporeal darkness, is found quite incapable of investigating the deepest causes, let us call for enlightenment on him who with the spirit of understanding brings to light the things hidden in darkness (75).
So far we have described the tributary islands one by one. Let us now, however, turn our pen to an account of the kings who have ruled Norway and from whom they descend.
The origin of the kings (76)
The ancient line of the kings of Norway had its beginning in Sweden, from where Þrándheimr, the principal region of Norway (77), was also settled. So King Ingvi (78), whom many assert to have been the first to rule the kingdom of Sweden, fathered Njorðr (79), who fathered Freyr – both these were worshipped as gods by their posterity through many centuries. Freyr fathered Fjolnir (80), who was drowned in a vat of mead and whose son, Svegðir, chased a dwarf into a rock and is said never to have returned, which can certainly be counted a fable. He fathered Vanlandi, who was smothered by a demon in his sleep and died. This sort of demon is called mara in Norwegian. Vanlandi fathered Vísburr, who with all his retinue was burned alive by his sons so that they might all the sooner inherit the kingdom. His son, Dómaldi, was hanged by the Swedes as a sacrifice to the goddess Ceres (81) to ensure the fertility of the crops (82). He fathered Dómarr who died of sickness in Sweden and whose son, Dyggvi, also ended his life in that country. His son Dagr succeeded him in the reign; Danes killed him in a general battle at a ford called Skjótansvað or Vápnavað when he was seeking to avenge a sparrow's wrongs. He so fathered Alrekr who was beaten to death with a bridle by his brother, Eiríkr. Alrekr was the father of Hogni (83), whose wife killed him with her own hands, hanging him from a tree by a golden chain at the place Agnaflt, which is now called Stockholm (84). His son, Ingjaldr (85), was killed in Sweden by his own brother because of the taunting of the latter's wife; her name was Bera (which is ursa in Latin (86)). After him came his son, Jorundr (87), who met a miserable end when he fought against the Danes and was hanged by them on the sea-inlet in Denmark which the natives call Limafjorðr. He was the father of Aun (88) who, it is told, in the drawn-out infirmity of old age took no solid food for nine years before his death but only sucked milk from a horn like an infant. Aun fathered Egill, nicknamed Vendilkráki (89), who was deprived of his kingdom by his own slave, named Tunni. The slave raised civil strife against his master in eight battles and won the victory in all of them; he fell in the ninth, vanquished at last, but the king himself was soon afterwards gored to death by a ferocious bull. He was succeeded in is the realm by his son Óttarr who was killed by a namesake, Óttarr, earl of the Danes, and Fasti, his brother, in Vendill, one of the provinces of Denmark. His son Aðils, or Aðísl (90), fleeing from idolatrous sacrifice, fell from his horse in front of the temple of Diana (91) and died. He was father of Eysteinn, whom the Gautar (92) forced into a house and burnt alive with his men. His son Yngvarr, nicknamed "the White", was killed in a campaign on an island in the Baltic Sea which is called Eysysla by the natives. This Yngvarr fathered Braut-Onundr who was killed by his brother, Sigvarðr (93), at Himinheiðr, whose name means "field of heaven". In succession to him his son Ingjaldr (94) was elevated to the kingship. He had immoderate fear of a King Ívarr, called víðfaðmi (95), who terrified many people at the time, so with all his retinue he shut himself up in his feasting-hall and set it on fire. His son Óláfr, with the nickname "Tree-feller" (96), ruled the kingdom long and peacefully and died full of days in Sweden.
Óláfr was the father of Hálfdan, with the nickname "White-leg" (97), whom the Norwegians of the mountainous region accepted as king when he came from Sweden. He gave up the ghost at an advanced age in the district of Þotn. When his son Eysteinn, nicknamed "Fart" (98), was sailing in narrow waters between two islands with many ships in company, he was knocked off the stern-deck by a spar from another vessel and disappeared, sunk beneath the waves. He was succeeded by his son Hálfdan who was lavish of gold and most tenaciously sparing of food (99), for he presented his retainers with gold and tortured them with hunger. He was the father of Guðrøðr the Hunter-king (100) who was betrayed by his own wife, for a young man whom she bribed pierced his side with a spear. His son Hálfdan, nicknamed "the Black" (101), likewise held the kingdom in the mountainous region after his father. On his way from a feast, when he was travelling with wagons and many mounted men across the ice of a lake called Rond, he was carelessly driven into a break in the frozen surface, where herdsmen customarily watered their beasts, and perished under the ice (102).
His son who succeeded him, Háraldr hárfagri (103), so called because of his comely head of hair, was the first to hold sway over the whole seaboard region; indeed, the interior region, hitherto ruled by petty kings, was likewise as good as under his rule. Many and marvellous are the things told of him, which it would take too long to rehearse in sequence at this point. He ruled for seventy-three years (104) and had sixteen sons (105). The first-born was Eiríkr, nicknamed blóðøx (106), that is "bloody axe". The second was Hákon, whom Æthelstan, king of the English, adopted as a son. The third Óláfr. The fourth Bjorn, which means "bear". The fifth Sigvarðr, nicknamed "the Giant". The sixth Gunnrøðr. The seventh Guðrøðr. The eighth Hálfdan High-leg. The ninth Rognvaldr réttilbeini (107), who was fostered by a sorceress in the district of Haðaland and was active in the same magic art as his foster-mother. The tenth was Eysteinn. The eleventh Jorundr. The twelfth Sigtryggr. The thirteenth Yngvarr. The fourteenth Tryggvi. The fifteenth Hringr. The sixteenth Hrólfr.
The oldest of these, Eiríkr Bloodaxe, acquired the kingdom after his father and took to wife a vicious and most iniquitous woman from Denmark named Gunnhildr, the daughter of the notably foolish Gormr, king of the Danes (108), and of the notably sagacious woman, Þyri. With Gunnhildr he had six sons (109), namely Háraldr, with the nickname "Greypelt", second Gamli, third Sigvarðr Gleam, fourth Gunnrøðr, fifth Erlingr, sixth Gormr. After ruling for a year, and pleasing no one on account of the excessive arrogance of his wife, Eiríkr was deprived of the kingdom by his brother Hákon, foster-son of Æthelstan, king of England, with the agreement of the chief men of Norway, and Eiríkr withdrew as a fugitive to England. There he was well received by his brother's foster-father (110) and laved in the fount of baptism; he was made earl over all Northumbria and proved most acceptable to all until his outrageous wife, Gunnhildr, is arrived. The Northumbrians would not suffer her pestilential fury and forthwith threw off their intolerable yoke. Eiríkr, however, died when he was attacked while on a foray in Spain (111), and Gunnhildr returned with her sons to her brother Háraldr, king of the Danes.
Hákon was accepted as king by the seaboard peoples of Norway. This man, most dutifully reared by a most Christian king in England, nevertheless went so far astray that by a most wretched exchange he preferred an ephemeral realm to the eternal kingdom. In his anxiety to retain his sovereign rank he became, alas, an apostate, subject in servitude to idols, serving gods, not God. But although eternally deprived of perdurable greatness because of blind ambition for fleeting majesty, he nevertheless observed his nation's laws and the decisions of the people more faithfully than all the kings who lived in the heathen age (112). Because of this he was indeed dear to the nobility and an object of devotion to the commoners. He defended his homeland with the utmost vigour for twenty-seven years. In the last years of his life he was engaged in almost constant warfare against his nephews, the sons of his brother and Gunnhildr, their mother. Two of their battles (113) were especially renowned. One was at the place called Rastarkálfr on the island of Fræði in the district of Norð-Mœrr, where Gamli, son of Gunnhildr, and a great number of their host were forced off a promontory into the sea. The other great battle they fought was in the Gula province at the settlement called Fitjar, an encounter in which many fell on both sides. Two sons of Gunnhildr, Gormr and Erlingr, fell there, while their other brothers fled. But in their retreat a lad in their company threw a spear aimed at the battle-line of the enemy which gave King Hákon himself a lethal wound in his upper arm on the right side. It will be clearly apparent to all and sun-is dry that it was divine vengeance that brought about this event in such a way: having dared to deny the Christ Child, he was now overcome by a mere boy after his enemies were defeated. He decided to return to his estate of Alreksstaðir but he died on the way in the very haven where he had been born, and as a result this place has ever since been called Hákonarhella, that is "Hákon's stone".
After these events the whole seaboard region was held for fourteen years (114) by Gunnhildr and her sons, Háraldr, Sigvarðr and Gunnrøðr. Under their rule Norway was most heavily oppressed by famine and all sorts of evils through the exceptional wickedness of its rulers. But Sigvarðr and many other men were killed at an assembly by the people of Vors, led by Vémundr volubrjótr (115). Gunnrøðr, however, was killed on the Alreksstaðir estate (the famous town of Bergen is now situated nearby) by a certain Þorkell, nicknamed klyppr (116), whose wife he had ravished against her will. He thrust him through with a sword, and one of his retainers, Erlingr the Old by name, manfully avenged him. But … (117).
Of the great number of Háraldr hárfagri's sons two, that is Eiríkr and Hákon, are said to have ruled the seaboard peoples in succession to their father; the others had rule in the mountainous region. Some indeed ended their lives before their time to rule arrived, for Hálfdan High-leg was killed by the Orkney islanders (118), while Rognvaldr réttilbeini, infamous for the disgrace customarily attached to degrading practices, is said to have been thrown into a whirlpool in Haðaland on his father's orders (119). But their brothers left to posterity an altogether worthy lineage, for from their line sprang those two health-bringing namesakes, Óláfr and Óláfr (120), who, like bright lights of heaven, illumined their homeland with the radiance of holy faith. Bjorn, son of Háraldr hárfagri, was nurtured in Grenland (121), where he is also said to have ruled. He fathered Guðrøðr who was the father of Háraldr the Grenlander, who was brought up and had rule in Grenland. He made a very choice match with Ásta, daughter of Guðbrandr kúla (122), and she bore him Óláfr, perpetual king of Norway (123). Sigvarðr Sow (124), king in the mountainous region, took Ásta in marriage after the death of her husband. Sigvarðr risi (that is, "the Giant" (125)), son of Háraldr hárfagri, was the father of Hálfdan who was the father of Sigvarðr Sow. By Ásta he had Háraldr, a man of great sagacity and deep experience in the art of war. The fabric of the genealogy of the kings of Norway, stretching down to this day, descends from him, as it were by a thread. Óláfr (126), son of Háraldr hárfagri, was the father of Tryggvi. Tryggvi, nurtured in Raumariki, where he is said to have first had rule, married Ástriðr, a lovely maiden from the mountainous region. Later, when he had subjugated the Vík, he was cunningly led astray and treacherously killed by his cousins, namely the sons of Eiríkr, in a small island (127) in Ranríki on an occasion when they were supposed to confirm a pact of peace betwen them. That place is still called Tryggvareyrr, that is "Tryggvi's cairn". Many people maintain that Tryggvi's death came about in this different way: when the local people, that is the men of Ranríki, had no stomach to tolerate the harshness of his rule, an assembly was summoned, as if for the public weal, at which they had the king deceitfully killed by Saxi, Skorri and Skreyja (128), youths bribed with money for the purpose. But whether it was done by the first lot or the second, the name of the site on that island demonstrates that he was done to death there. Meanwhile Ástriðr herself, now pregnant, went with three ships and fitting company to the Orkney islands (129); there she was most loyally given refuge and there the happy mother-to-be gave birth to the future king, whom she named Óláfr, through whom Norway finally received the most salutary admonitions of Christ.
On the death of the sons of Gunnhildr, a certain Hákon (nicknamed "the Bad" on account of the unrestrained cruelty of his nature), who had the title of earl, usurped sovereignty over all Norway after having expelled all the petty kings and done away with those who were tributary to the Swedes. And he preferred to be called "earl" like his forebears rather than "king", for through his father Sigvarðr and his mother Bergljót, daughter of Þorir the Silent, he was descended from the line of the earls of Mœrr and Hálogaland. Mighty in war but stubbornly devoted to idolatry, he increased his dominion far and wide, subduing numerous neighbouring regions. But when he learnt of the fatherless boy born in Orkney, he straightway laid crafty plans against the lad who would, he suspected, deprive him of the kingdom (130). When his mother learnt of the earl's malevolent plots, then in order to remove the boy from her to safety she gave him, by God's provident mercy (so I believe), although she loved him dearly as her only son, to a certain Þórólfr Louse-beard to foster and carry to Sweden. Þórólfr took the child as his to foster with every care and carrying him in his bosom passed through Þrándheimr in the greatest peril. After that he got to Sweden, where he paused for a time, then made for Russia but landed in Estonia. In the end while sailing off Eysysla they were intercepted by pirates and some of them taken prisoner, some killed. Among them the boy's foster-father was also executed, while the boy Óláfr himself was sold as a slave to Estonians. Óláfr was redeemed from there by a kinsman (131) of his who by chance was sent there at that time by the king of Russia with the task of collecting taxes. For some years Óláfr lived privately with him in Russia. When he was about twelve years old he manfully avenged his foster-father in the middle of the market-place of Holmgarðr, and word of this unheard-of act of vengeance by a lad barely twelve years of age soon reached the king. Because of it he was presented to the king, by whom he was finally adopted as a son (132). Practising piracy as a youth (133), traversing the Baltic shores and striking terror into all the peoples of those parts, this glorious bandit was in his ignorance steered away from God. His fleet was swelled by Norwegians and Danes, Gautar and Slavs, who joined him in making their winter quarters in Jómsborg (134), the strongest of the Slav townships. From here he made for Frisia, after that entered Flanders, and from there went to England, and after ravaging these lands he worked wonders in Scotland and spared no one in Ireland. But indeed the n Creator, taking care of his created, in the bowels of his mercy miraculously visited this tyrant so free and fierce, and by his visitation illumined him, so that those whom he had hitherto cloaked in the shadow of death, He might now clothe in the robe of eternal radiance. For when this Óláfr had inflicted his insensate rage on the peoples named he came upon a hermit serving God on a small island off Britain (135). Óláfr put him to the test by changing clothes with his shield-bearer, but he at once recognised this servant of the king and admonished him to serve his lord faithfully. At that the princely leader of pirates made haste to visit the hermit, who he now had no doubt was a prophet of God, and he heard from him many predictions which he soon found by experience to be true.
"You will be," he said, "an illustrious king, most devout in the Christian faith and most beneficial to your people, for through you innumerable people will become truly Christian. And if the things I foretell are true, take this as a sign: the day after tomorrow, when you leave your ships, you will see cattle on the shore and you will realise that there is deceit behind it, for you will be ambushed by enemies. But while you are suffering losses among your men, you yourself will be wounded almost to death and you will be carried barely alive on a shield to your ships. After a week you will be healed with heaven's help and on your return you will be laved in the fount of life."
The outcome verified all these things, just as he foretold them.
When the blessed Óláfr (136), through the health-giving change effected by the right hand of the Most High (137), had received the grace of baptism, and the greater part of his host with him, he crossed the sea to Norway, having with him Bishop Johannes (138) and the priest Þangbrandr (139) whom he sent to preach to the Icelanders. He also had with him many other ministers of God, all of whom began to preach Christ with one mind and one mouth (140) to the heathens. The Norwegians, converted to the faith by the measureless mercy of the great God, made Óláfr their king and expelled Earl Hákon from the realm after he had been ruling for thirty-three years. A slave of his by the name of Karkr killed him despicably by night (141) in Gaulardalr, one of the districts of Þrándheimr, and even brought his severed head to the king, hoping to win great rewards. But what befell him was just the reverse of that, for he was publicly condemned as a most villainous murderer and hanged as a criminal. But the sons of Earl Hákon, Sveinn and Eiríkr, fled to Denmark and were peacefully received by King Sveinn.
Meanwhile Óláfr reconciled all his countrymen in the seaboard region to the King of Kings, and if there were those whom the bishop could not subdue to the reign of Christ by the sword of the spirit, the king used material means on noble and commoner, suckling child with the man in years. Thus it came about that within five years he rendered to Christ all the peoples of the tributary islands, the Shetlanders, the Orcadians, the Faroese and the Icelanders (142), shining in faith, rejoicing in hope, ardent in charity (143). As a result, the chariot of God, multiplied by ten thousand, and the waggon of Christ, filled full of his salvation freely offered, were drawn by this wonder-working king, as if by the strongest horse, to the farthest bounds of the world and set on course to return to the homeland of Paradise.
Óláfr married a lady from Denmark, sister of King Sveinn, Þyri by name, who had in fact been previously betrothed against her will to the duke of Slavland (144). But because King Sveinn determined to keep fast hold on Sjáland, which he had given in dowry to his sister, King Óláfr went to war against the Danes, and he ordered that a great fleet from Þrándheimr and Gulaþing should be gathered by the leading men; and he himself summoned the host of the eastern region and waited for the others on the border between Denmark and Norway. So, when some of the Gulabing men arrived, the king set off with no great numbers on the planned expedition, hoping that the rest of the force would follow him. But they were unwilling to cross their country's frontier, especially when their leader had departed, and they went back to their homes. When the king realised that they had cheated him, he decided to go to the Slavs and seek reinforcements from the men who had been his most loyal comrades in piracy. But while sailing past Sjáland (145), he was cut off by enemies in ambush like a sheep by wolves. The fact was that, when King Sveinn heard that Óláfr would be coming with an armed force, he summoned his stepson, Óláfr king of the Swedes, and Eiríkr, the son of Earl Hákon, and these three against one then fought their sea-battle in this way. First Sveinn attacked Óláfr with thirty ships while he fought back with only eleven, but the royal ship was furnished with eighty bench-divisions. This vessel, which had the image of a serpent's head on prow and stern, was called the Long Serpent. It had room for one hundred and sixty oarsmen if all the half-bench spaces together were occupied for rowing, and in the battle now spoken of all of them are said to have been in coats of mail. There were also forty clerics in the thirty half-bench spaces nearest the stern; not brought up to war, they worked harder at praying than fighting. After a long struggle each one of Sveinn's ships had been cleared of men and he returned with great disgrace to his allies. Then his stepson Óláfr, with the same number of ships, attacked his namesake and suffered worse loss than Sveinn, his predecessor, and retired with great dishonour. Eiríkr, last in sequence but first in victory, made a most fierce attack on the enemy; not unmindful of the death of his father and his own flight, he dealt injuries to pay for those injuries. But Óláfr, as if starting all over again in resisting with all his might the strong onslaught of those bold rebels, strove to hurl stones, spears and other missiles at their adversaries. Finally, with no strength left and their ships boarded by their enemies with no one to lift a hand against them, all those still quickened by the warmth of life were devoured by the sword's mouth, except the king himself who was last seen by them standing on the lofty stern-deck. But when the battle was over they found him neither alive nor dead, and because of this some say that, being in armour, he sank under the waves. There are others who claim to have seen him long afterwards in a certain monastery. But how he may have been brought through the perils of the sea to the firm ground of the shore – by his own swimming or by a skiff's conveyance or by spirits angelic and attendant – or whether he drowned there is, I believe, unknown to all our contemporaries. Therefore let us more honestly leave the subject by omitting what is indefinite rather than offering false opinion on an uncertain fact (146). But certainly Óláfr's wife bore the death of her husband with excessive tribulation and died of grief.
After these events rule over all Norway was conceded by Sveinn Forkbeard to the sons of Earl Hákon. They presided over the realm as earls for fourteen years and almost uprooted God's holy church which the blessed Óláfr had planted and Johannes watered (147).
In those times Óláfr, son of Háraldr the Grenlander, was held in high esteem in Russia. Because he was dispossessed of his native land, he had to turn to piracy. He usually wintered in Eapolis (148), which we call Hólmgarðr, attended by no small fleet. In summer he constantly harassed all the peoples round the Baltic Sea (149) with raiding and ravaging. He utterly laid waste the large and populous island of Eysysla, and so harried two others equal to it in size and population, namely Gotland and Eyland, that their inhabitants paid enormous sums in tribute throughout the time he stayed in Russia. In the coun try of the Kurlanders he inflicted no small slaughter on them, crowned with most glorious success. After long displaying the fierceness of a tyrant, this splendid leader made ready to return to his homeland, but when he arrived in Denmark, he was invited by Sveinn, king of the Danes, to cross the sea with him to England (150); Knútr accompanied his father Sveinn. They won the victory in every battle through the military shrewdness of that most blessed tyrant (151), Óláfr. At last Æthelred (152) was driven out and Sveinn held the whole island but only briefly, for three months later he was removed from the light of this world. When Knútr returned to his homeland, he was made king by the Danes in place of his father. Óláfr meanwhile waged war against the Britons and reached even regions of Spain; leaving there the clearest tokens of his triumph, he returned to Denmark and was received with high honour by his comrade, now king of the Danes. They made a pact of brotherhood by adoption. But because Knútr had fled ingloriously from England on the death of his father, he now intended to return with an enormous army. He strongly urged his comrade Óláfr and his step-brother of the same name to go with him, promising them half if it proved possible for him to win the whole island with their support. Consequently they eagerly started off together (153) and with bil lowing sails and fair winds in three days reached the port of Yarmouth. From there they moved on to attack London, where by chance King Edmund was staying at the time (154), now deprived of his father Æthelred. When the king learnt of the arrival of the enemy, he summoned the townsmen and ordered them to fortify the bridge over the River Thames so that his foe should not have free entry. They took ac tion without delay to fulfil his command, and he gathered a host from the neighbouring districts. Meanwhile the Danes, approaching the bridge with huge clamour, began all with one intent to assault their fortifications, while those on the other side strove with all their might to defend themselves and their property. When Knútr had thus contended all day in fruitless effort and suffered the sore loss of many of his men, our Óláfr put himself and his men into great danger for the sake of victory. With eleven ships he rowed hard against the bridge defences, his troops covered by protective shields, and risking their lives to make mock of the contrivan ces of the defenders, they most audaciously penetrated them. When the supremely victorious Óláfr had made his entry into the city, he was accorded splendid acclamations of praise by the whole host, and the renown of the triumph won was attributed all to him. After London was taken they fought hard against King Edmund five times in nine months. At last when both sides were exhausted, the kings, Edmund and Knútr, made a pact by which as long as both lived they should rule the island on equal terms, but the one who outlived the other should have it all. Then when Edmund had reigned for a single month he was deprived of the light of this world and Knútr took possession of the whole kingdom. He married the mother of his late co-regent, named Ælfgifu (155), who as … Sveinn and Knútr, nicknamed "the Hard" (152), his two sons. The agreement he had most firmly made with his supporters he set entirely at nought, allowing both his brother and his comrade to depart disappointed of all reward for their labours. Before leaving, Óláfr of Norway was then betrothed to the sister of Óláfr of Sweden, Margaret (157) by name, whom he had long esteemed highly with the favour of deep affection becomingly recip rocated. But this came to nothing, for she was forced by her brother to marry King Jaroslav of Russia against her will. This act would have fomented very great hatred and discord among those three illustrious princes had not Margaret's exceedingly wise sister, following the counsel of her foster-father, most fittingly re-knit the severed ties of the previous betrothal: for Óláfr made her his wife and by her had… (158).
Óláfr, returning from England with two big ships of burden, crossed the sea to his native Norway. Four bishops (159) were with him, namely Grímkell, Bernard, Ruðólfr and Sigfrid.
The end (160)
Here begins the Prologue
1) …tus] A large initial and between two and four other letters are missing at the beginning of the text, with the result that the author of the work referred to here as the Phllostratus has not certainly been identified. While Storm read the surviving letters as tus others have read the first letter as an i without its dot (e. g. Lehmann 1936-37, 2: 76; Koht 1950, 9; Ekrem 1998a, 22). No work entitled Phllostratus is known to have existed. Ekrem (1998a, 25-26) suggests that the work referred to here may be a version of the Imago mundi by Honorius Augustodunensis (c. 1110) supplemented by additional material from the Greek Elkones by Flavius Philostratus (c. 200), with the name of the latter work's author having become substituted for that of the work. The letters surviving in the manuscript might then be the last three of Honorius's name (reading i instead of Storm's t). Or they may be the final letters of the name Solinus (which would fit the manuscript lacuna better); it seems that the author of HN may have thought that Solinus was the author of Honorius's Imago mundi, either because he found that work together with Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium (to which HN later refers, see 11/8) in his manuscript, or because reference to Solinus in the scholia to Honorius's work led the author of HNto believe that Honorius based his work on that of Solinus (Ekrem 1998a, 24). An alternative explanation offered by Ekrem (1998a, 26) would see the phllistratu of the manuscript as a misreading by the Scottish copyist of phie tratu, an abbreviation for philosophic tractaiu; either Honorius's Imago mundi or Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium could be described as a "philosophical treatise". For the use in HN of Honorius's work see Skard 1930, 78-83; Steinnes 1946-48, 17-28.
2) Not by any means … many generosities] It was common practice in the Middle Ages to employ the modesty topos in prefaces and prologues and to ascribe a text's existence to the insistence of a patron; cf. also 1/29-1/30 below. On the modesty topos see Curtius 1953, 83-85.
3) to describe … both religions] The writer here sets out his three aims. The third of these is unrealised in the work as it survives.
4) hitherto unattempted in Latin discourse] This probably implies that the writer did not know of any Latin history of Norway. In particular it suggests he did not know of the work of Theodoricus, though he may have known Ari Þorgilsson's lost vernacular konunga ævi. It is also possible, however, to read this as implying that the writer knew of no work which attempted to fulfil all three of his aims: a geographical description, an account of Norway's rulers, and an account of the religious struggle between Christianity and paganism. This would leave open the possibility of the writer's knowing of Theodoricus's work since it does not contain a geographical description of the region.
5) Agnellus] The identity of the dedicatee of HN remains uncertain. The manuscript reads angnelle or anguelle, which Storm (1880, 72) emends to Agnelle. Most scholars have followed Storm (1880, xxiii) in identifying him with the Thomas Agnellus who was Archdeacon of Wells at the end of the twelfth century (see also Koht 1919-20, 110-11). Paasche (1957, 432) preferred a Franciscan called Agnellus who was in Oxford in 1224 and he has been another popular candidate (cf. Ekrem 1998a, 88; 1998b, 50), Bugge (1873, 34-35) suggests Agnellus could stand for the Norse name Lambi, and identifies him with a prior of that name at the Norwegian monastery in Elgseter c.1240, an identification dismissed by Storm (1880, xxi). Ekrem offers two possible alternatives: (i) Ormr, abbot of Munkeliv monastery in 1146 (by reading anguelle as the vocative of a diminutive of anguis, "snake, worm", the meaning of ON ormr (1998a, 72-73); a candidate also suggested by Hanssen 1949, 13-15, and Steinnes 1949-51, 184; 1965, 28); (ii) Eysteinn Erlendsson, Archbishop of Níðaróss 1161-88 (by reading agnelle, and taking this as an abbreviation for Augustinelle, the vocative of a diminutive form of Augustinus, the Latin equivalent of Eysteinn (1998a, 74-75)). This identification is also suggested by Sandaaker (1985, 86 n. 11). According to Ekrem the identification with Eysteinn need not rule out his possible authorship of HN since non-existent dedicatees were not unusual in the Middle Ages (1998a, 78).
6) teacher's authority] Steinnes (1965, 28) notes that the word for teacher here (didascalicus) has the specific sense of a canon in charge of the school at a cathedral.
Here begins the first book of the History of Norway
7) the first book of the History of Norway] This indicates clearly that the surviving text is only the beginning of the work, though it is uncertain whether what survives is all that was ever written or whether one or more subsequent books have now been lost.
8) Nórr] The S text (MS Stock. Perg. 4to nr 18) of the Norse translation of Oddr Snorrason's Life of Óláfr Tryggvason states that Sa konungr ræð fyrstr Norege er Nór het (Oddr 83; "The first king to rule Norway was called Nórr"). Nórr also appears in the section of the late fourteenth-century Flateyjarbók entitled Hversu Nóregrbyggðisk (Flat. I 21-24) and in Orkneyinga saga chs 1-2.
9) a very vast country] Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxi (30) says of Norway that "in its length that land extends into the farthest northern zone" (trans. Tschan 1959, 211).
10) from …, a great river] A manuscript lacuna. Storm (1880, 73) suggests Albia or Albiaem the light of Schol. 131 (126) to Gesta Hamm. IV.xxi (21), or alternatively Gautorum or Gautelf. Salvesen (1969, 19; cf. 39 n. 3) has [Göta-]elven, following Koht (1950, 11).
11) Lapps] Latin Finni. Like Old Norse finnr, Latin finnus may refer either to a Lapp (Saami) or to an inhabitant of Finland (Suomalainen) cf. MSE 379 s.v. " Lapland ".
12) Jamtaland] This province is here clearly regarded as outside Norway. Msk 353 and Snorri Sturluson in Msona (Hkr) ch. 15 hold that Eysteinn Magnússon annexed Jamtaland in 1110, but this is too early a date for the composition of HN; Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar ch. 11 states that King Sverrir annexed Jamtaland and Sverris saga ch. 26 suggests that this was done in 1177. This would fit with a dating of HN to before 1177. Ekrem (1998a, 29), however, suggests that HN is concerned with ecclesiastical boundaries; Jamtaland did not belong to the Niðaróss archdiocese until 1570.
13) Kirjalians, Kvænir, Horn-Lapps] Comparison with Egils saga ch. 14 suggests that by Horn-Lapps the author here means the inhabitants of Finland between the Kirjalians and the Kvasnir. Horn-Lapps also appear in the Icelandic Hauksbók (probably written c.1306-10; at any rate before Haukr Erlendsson's death in 1334), but by that time they have become man-eating creatures with horns on their heads inspired by Isidore of Seville's description of satyrs (cf. Storm 1880, 74-75).
14) people of the two Bjarmalands] Perhaps meaning Bjarmaland on each side of the White Sea (Koht 1950, 11). Saxo Grammaticus (Gesta Danorum VIIl.xiv.6) refers to Biarmia ulterior, thus perhaps implying the existence of Biarmia citerior (cf. Storm 1880, 75; Salvesen 1969, 39).
15) land between the Greenlanders and the Bjarmians] Implies a land connection between these north of the Atlantic Ocean; cf. the twelfth- or thirteenth-century Geographical Treatise preserved in an Icelandic manuscript of 1387: Af Biarmalandi ganga lond óbygd of nordrett, unz vidtekr Grenland (Kålund 1908, 12; "From Bjarmaland uninhabited land continues through the north until it joins Greenland").
16) a country of maidens … drink of water] Cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xix (19): "Likewise, round about the shore of the Baltic Sea, it is said, live the Amazons in what is now called the land of women. Some declare that these women conceive by sipping water" (trans. Tschan 1959, 200).
17) Greenland] Note that Greenland appears within the description of Norway rather than separately among the tributary islands; this implies a date for the composition of HN before 1261, when Greenland began to pay tribute to the Norwegian crown. Greenland is described by Adam of Bremen in Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxvii (36) after a description of Iceland.
18) settled and confirmed in the universal faith by Icelanders] Icelandic accounts of the discovery, settlement and conversion of Greenland include Íslendingabók ch. 6, Eiriks saga rauda and Grœnlendinga saga. See further Jones 1986, especially 73-114, and Ólafur Halldórsson 1978.
19) Skrælings] ON Skrælingar ("wretches"). Although HN implies that these Skrælings live in Greenland, in Grænlendinga saga and Eiríks saga rauða this name is given to the inhabitants of Vinland, the part of North America (roughly northern Newfoundland) discovered and visited by Icelanders and Greenlanders around the year 1000. Ari writes of a people es Vínland hefir byggt ok Grœnlendingar kalla Skrælinga (Íslendingabók 13-14; "who inhabited Vinland and whom the Greenlanders call Skrælings").
The three inhabited parts of Norway
20) Decapolis] Greek for "ten cities". This name is used of a part of the Holy Land in the Gospels of Matthew (4: 25) and Mark (5: 20). Storm lists the ten Norwegian cities as Niðaross, Bergen, Oslo, Borg (Sarpsborg), Tunsberg, Konghelle, Stavanger, Veey (Veøy), Skiðan (Skien) and Kaupangr in Sogn (1880, 76; cf. Koht 1950, 13).
21) provinces] The Latin term is patria, referring here to the area red by a specific legal code (log). On the use of the term patria in HN see Robberstad 1949-51.
22) districts] The Latin term is provincia. For lists of the names of districts within the provinces mentioned here and references to the sources see Storm 1880, 77-78, and Koht 1950, 13-14.
23) Charybdis and Scylla] A whirlpool and a sea monster in classical legend, also briefly mentioned by Honorius (Imago mundi I.xxxv).
24) whirlpools from which there is no escape] Cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxix-xl (38-39).
25) pistrix. … hafstrambr] The pistrix appears in one reading in Pliny's Naturalis historia IX.iv (3) (textual note). The hafstrambr is mentioned in a list of kinds of whale in the bulur attached to Skáldskaparmál in the Codex Regius manuscript of Snorri Sturluson's Edda (1998, 127), and in Konungs skuggsiá 27, 163.
26) hafgufa … hafrkitti] The hafgufa is also mentioned in the bulur appended to Skáldskaparmál (Snorri Sturluson, Edda 1998, 127), in Konungs skuggsiá 17 and in Orvar-Odds saga 132. The hafrkitti is mentioned in the discussion of different kinds of whale in Konungs skuggsiá 16.
The mountainous parts of Norway
27) In the mountainous region… cliffs of rock] Koht (1919-20, 112) took this passage as evidence that the author of HN was not from the east of Norway, arguing that no one who knew the area around the river in question (the Vorma) or around Oslo could have believed what is stated here. From Storm (1880, 82) onwards scholars have taken the reference to silver here as evidence supporting the belief that the abandoned mining galleries under Gamle Aker church in Oslo represent the earliest mining in Norway. If those mines date back to the second half of the twelfth century they would be by far the oldest in Norway. Recently, however, Moseng has exposed the shaky foundations on which this belief has been based. He points out (1992, 48-49) that HN (the only medieval source which might provide evidence of mining at Aker) mentions only silver, not silver mining, and is no more specific geographically than "close to the township of Oslo", a wide area. According to Moseng (1992, 61-69) there is no definite evidence of mining in Norway before 1490, and no reason to believe the mines at Aker were in operation before c.1532. He regards this passage in HN as typical of a common kind of medieval "tall story" about great quantities of precious metals.
28) whose skins they wear] Cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxii (31): "They use the pelts of beasts for clothing" (trans. Tschan 1959, 212).
29) ondros] Not originally, as stated here, a Lappish term, but ON ondrar (sg. ondurr). These were skis, specifically those with seal or reindeer skin undersides (cf. Koht 1950, 17).
30) There is no limit … and beavers.] Cf. a similar list of wild animals in Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxii (31).
31) slave-beaver] The term biœuerthrel ("slave-beaver") is used in the Danish Chronicon Lethrense (49), written c.1170. The description of beavers and their behaviour in HN is strikingly similar to descriptions by Gerald of Wales in his Topographia Hibernica I.xxv-xxvi, Itinerarium Kambriae II.iii, and Descriptio Kambriae I.v (the last two of these passages are identical and are more extensive than the first; for translations see Thorpe 1978, 174-77, 227-29). HN and Gerald may depend on a lost common source, or simply depend on common oral traditions. See also Bernström 1957.
32) art of magic] The association of the Lapps with magic is commonplace in the Icelandic sagas and elsewhere (e. g. in Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors IV.3.II).
33) gandus] Like ondros, an originally Norse rather than Lappish term (ON gandr). Tolley (1994, 143-48) compares Lappish and Norse beliefs about souls and spirits and concludes that the author of HN has given the Norse name gandr to a spirit with characteristics derived from (i) various Lappish spirits "both anthropomorphic and theriomorphic, as well as the shaman's free-soul and the dead" and (ii) the Norse gandr (including the ability to change into various forms). On the gandr see also Tolley 1995.
34) under] Storm emended the MS reading sub to super. The translation here follows Tolley (1994, 136), who dismisses Storm's emendation as "needless". The cloth under which the shaman prepares himself is not found in later accounts of Lappish shamanism, although such accounts mention linen hats or veils worn by women assistants; Tolley (1994, 141) suggests the cloth is probably "a genuine feature which later disappeared amongst men" and which "may have symbolized the heavens to be traversed".
35) with hands extended … boat with oars] The lilting up of arms before entering a trance occurs in later descriptions of shamanistic séances (Tolley 1994, 141). The small decorated vessel like a sieve is probably some kind of percussion instrument; Tolley translates "like a tambourine" (1994, 137); see also his discussion of decorated Lappish drums (1994, 151-53).
36) After dancing … as an Ethiopian] Later accounts of Lappish shamanism feature leaping about, and one account from 1672 mentions that the shaman turns black before entering a trance. As Tolley (1994, 141 n. 9) notes, "given the lack of breathing that is emphasised in many of the accounts, it seems likely that the Lappish shaman did indeed turn distinctly off-colour during trance".
37) he gave up the ghost] Cf. Tolley 1994, 142: "The author writes of the collapse and death of the shaman without separating them, whereas in fact the shaman must first have collapsed as if lifeless, then sent out his soul, and subsequently have died while in trance as a result of the attack on his helping spirit".
38) whale] Latin cetus can refer to any large water creature and Tolley (1994, 137 n. 5) suggests that the usual translation "whale" may be problematic given the lake setting (unless stagnum should be translated "fjord" rather than "lake"). The ability of a sorcerer to turn himself into a whale is, however, also found elsewhere in Norse literature; see, for example, Knytlinga saga ch. 3; ÓlTrygg (Hkr) ch. 33.
39) an enemy gandus] Shamanic contests involved fights between animal spirit helpers in which anything suffered by these spirits would be reflected in the shaman who owned them (cf. Tolley 1994,149-50).
40) Their intolerable ungodliness … in the house] On this description of Lappish shamanistic practices see Bäärnhielm and Zachrisson (1994) and Tolley (1994; 1996). This passage includes the earliest detailed account of a Lappish shamanistic séance. Tolley's comparison of the account with later evidence for Lappish shamanism from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries demonstrates that despite some misunderstandings on the part of the author of HN and some assimilation to Norse rather than Lappish magical beliefs the account is an essentially reliable description of a Lappish séance (Tolley 1994). In a later article (1996), Tolley offers evidence that Snorri Sturluson may have used the description of the Lappish séance in HN when describing the supernatural powers of Óðinn in Yngl. ch. 7; Tolley does not, however, consider the question of whether Snorri could actually understand a Latin source text (on Snorri's acquaintance with Latin see Faulkes 1993).
41) for the benefit of people who live at a greater distance from them] One of several statements implying an intended foreign audience for HN.
The tributary islands
42) Scotland] The text has Hyberniam (MS Iberniam), that is Ireland (so Koht 1950, 20 and Salvesen 1969, 23). The islands in question, however, lie close to the Norwegian coast, thus between Norway and Scotland. A similar misunderstanding of the location of Ireland seems to be evident in Gesta Hatnm. IV.xxxv (34) and in the report of his voyages which Ohthere made to King Alfred and which was subsequently incorporated in the Old English translation of Orosius's Historia adversus paganos (Bateley 1980, 16/1-9). Bateley's note (1980, 193-94) on the passage in the Old English Orosius suggests that Ohthere may have been thinking in terms of sea-routes rather than actual geography and the same may be true of the author of HN.
43) the Orkney islands, more than thirty in number] By the Orkney islands the writer means Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides (cf. 8/2-4 below and note). For the number "more than thirty" cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxv (34): "The Orkney Islands, numbering nearly forty, lie close together" (trans. Tschan 1959, 215); and Honorius, Imago mundi I.xxxi: Orcades triginta tres (thirty-three Orkney islands ).
44) Orkan] Latin Orchanus. He is not mentioned in any other source and may be the author's invention, perhaps by analogy with Nórr (see above 2/11 and note).
45) various peoples] Storm (1880, 88) suggests Norse and Celtic peoples (i. e. those living in Orkney and the Hebrides respectively) are meant, but as the statement refers to the past it seems more likely that it is the Picts and Papar mentioned below that the writer has in mind.
46) two realms … rule of earls] The southern isles here are the Hebrides (ON Suðreyjar); the northern isles comprising the Orkney earldom included both Orkney and Shetland until 1195 when, following a rebellion against him, King Sverrir deprived the earls of Shetland.
47) Each of them pays no small tribute to the kings of Norway] Orkney paid tribute to the Norwegian king from 1150, the Hebrides from 1152 (Storm 1880, 88). The Hebrides were recognised as belonging to Scotland at the agreement of the Peace of Perth in 1266, although they had in practice ceased to be under Norwegian control in 1264. This sentence therefore suggests 1266 as the latest possible date for the composition of the text. Since there is no hint that Shetland does not belong to the Orkney earldom (see previous note) it is likely that HN was written before 1195.
The Orkney islands
48) Picts] The earliest known inhabitants of Scotland. With regard to the statement here that they were "little bigger than pygmies" Bugge (1873, 39) draws attention to a long-lived Orcadian tradition to this effect which is noted by Sir Walter Scott in Note C in his historical novel The Pirate (1996, 346). Scott tells of a clergyman visiting the island of North Ronaldsay c. 1800 who was suspected of being Pictish because he was "a very little man, dark complexioned … ill-dressed and unshaved". Munch (1850, 36-37) suggests that small structures known in Orkney as "picthouses" may have suggested that the Picts must have been unusually short.
49) the sea dividing... Pictland Firth] Now the Pentland Firth. It is significant that the Firth is said to "divide" Orkney from Scotland; this reinforces the connections between Orkney and Norway, and Ekrem (1998a, 42) takes this as supporting her theory that the opening geographical description in HN covers the region which would legitimately belong to a Norwegian archdiocese.
50) The greatest of all whirlpools ... at flood tide] The Pentland Firth retains a reputation today as a particularly rough stretch of sea.
51) the Papar... German tongue] An alb is a white linen garment reaching from the neck to the ankles which is worn by the clergy at Mass. The Latin term papce is here (wrongly) derived from Low German pape (cf. MHG pfaffe). Latin papa, "father", was a title used by priests and is the source of ON papar and modern English "pope". Finnur Jonsson (1920-24, II598-99) and Lehmann (1936-37, 2:75) believed the author of HN could have been a German living in Norway, but it would have been easy for a Norwegian to acquire sufficient German to make this statement in those parts of Norway, such as Bergen, which had trading links with Germany (cf. Koht 1919-20, 113). Whereas HN says these people were called Papar only because their dress resembled that of priests, Ari refers to Papar in Iceland before the settlement by Scandinavians who were Irish Christians: "Þá váru hér menn kristnir, þeir es Norðmenn kalla papa … þeir váru menn írskir" (Íslendingabók 5; "Those Christian men were here then whom Norse people call papar… They were Irish").
52) an island still today called Papey after them] Several island and place-names in Orkney and Shetland derive from papar.
53) It is seen … practised Judaism] The source for this remarkable statement is unknown. Storm (1880, 89) suggests that the books referred to may have been fragments of Old Testament books. While this might explain the Judaism, it can hardly account for the idea that they came from Africa. Perhaps this was suggested by the fact that a chapter on Africa follows that on Orkney in Honorius's Imago mundi (I.xxxi-xxxii). It may also be significant that one of the features suggesting Pictish race to the early nineteenth-century inhabitants of North Ronaldsay was their visiting clergyman's "dark complexion" (Scott 1996, 346; cf. note to 8/8 above). Ari's papar left books behind them in Iceland, but these indicated that they were Irish and Christian (Íslendingabók 5).
54) Rognvaldr] Rognvaldr was made earl of Mœrr in Norway by King Haraldr hárfagri and was given Orkney and Shetland as compensation for the death of his son Ívarr on campaign with King Haraldr. Rognvaldr then granted control of Orkney to various other members of his family in turn. See Orkneyinga saga ch. 4; Hhárf (Hkr) chs 24, 27.
55) Gongu-Hrólfr] Literally, "Walk-Hrólfr", a son of Rognvaldr of Moerr. Identified with Rollo, ancestor of the dukes of Normandy.
56) Rouen] Latin Roda rather than the usual Rothomus or Rodomus, probably reflecting the Norse form of the name (cf. Old Icelandic Ruða); see Storm 1880, 90.
57) count] Cf. 9/26 "count of Normandy". Latin comes rather than dux, "duke"; the words are used interchangeably at this date, but the choice of comes here perhaps emphasises Hrólfr's Norse origins by highlighting his relationship to the earls, jarlar, of Mœrr (cf. Ekrem 1998a, 43).
58) The younger Richard was the father of William the Bastard] A generation is missing here and the text may originally have read "The younger Richard had a son Robert who was the father of William the Bastard" (cf. Storm 1880, 91). William the Bastard is better known today as William the Conqueror (king of England 1066-1087).
59) Henry, who in the prophecies of Merlin is styled the Lion of Justice] The Prophetiae Merlini comprise sections 111-17 of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, and the leo iustitiae is mentioned in section 112 (11). Skard (1930, 77) notes that Geoffrey does not explicitly identify the Lion of Justice with King Henry I of England (r. 1100-35); this is, however, made explicit by Orderic Vitalis in Book XII of his Historia ecclesiastica (VI 386-89), suggesting that the author of HNmay have used Orderic's text, though the identification is also made in the Liber de legibus Angliae (Stubbs 1868-71, II 241). In HN the Latin actually reads qui in prophetia Merlini regis leo justifies pnenominalus est, "who in the prophecies of King Merlin is styled the Lion of Justice". Storm (1880, 91) argues that as Merlin is never called a king elsewhere, regis here stands for in historia regum, a reference to the title of Geoffrey of Monmouth's work. Skard (1930, 77 n. 1), however, draws attention to possible sources for the belief that Merlin was a king; see in particular Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini52 (line 21): Rex erat et votes… ("He was a king and prophet").
60) Having obtained … his stepson] This information on Norman dukes and English kings probably derives from the Descriptio genealogiae ducum Normannorum in the Liber de legibus Angliae (Stubbs 1868-71, II 239-41; see the Introduction above pp. xxii-xxiii). Ellehøj (1965, 161-74), however, argues that the information on Norman dukes in HN derives from Ari Þorgilsson's lost konunga œvi. In a table at the end of his book Ellehøj provides a useful overview of information on the Norman dukes from several Norse sources in parallel columns.
61) subject to the kings of Norway by due payment of tribute] Cf. note to 8/5 above.
The Faroe islands
62) "islands of sheep", eighteen in number] Cf. ON fœr, "sheep". The ninth-century Irish writer Dicuil (Liber de mensura orbis terrae VII.15) refers to unnamed islands north of Britain filled with innumerable sheep.
63) our kings] This implies that the author was Norwegian.
64) island which the Italians called Ultima Thule] By Italians the writer means Romans; cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxvi (35). Adam of Bremen cites several early writers who refer to an island north of Britain called Thule and states that "This Thule is now called Iceland, from the ice which binds the ocean" (trans. Tschan 1959, 217).
65) a vast empty land and unknown to men] The author of HN is either unaware of traditions recorded by Dicuil (Liber de mensura orbis terrae VII. 7-13; taking Dicuil's Thule to refer to Iceland) and Ari (Íslendingabók 5) that Irish hermits inhabited Iceland before the arrival of Scandinavian settlers (Storm 1880, 92), or he deliberately avoids mentioning them so as not to compromise the Norse origins of Iceland and its consequent place within the archdiocese of Niðaróss (Ekrem 1998a, 44-45).
66) Ingólfr and Hjorleifr, Norwegians] In Íslendingabok 5 Ari Þorgilsson states that Ingólfr was the first Norwegian to come to Iceland. The much fuller account of the discovery of Iceland in Landnámabók 34-47 mentions others who arrived there earlier but did not settle there: Naddodd(r) the Viking (from the Faroes), Garbarr Svávarsson (a Swede) and Flóki Vilgerðarson. Garbarr is said in HN to have discovered Iceland (10/15), but his Swedish nationality is not mentioned, perhaps because the author wishes to stress Iceland's Norwegian origins for church political reasons. Landnámabók also tells of Ingólfr's sworn brother and fellow-settler, Leifr (later Hjorleifr).
67) Anbi] Storm (1880, 93) suggests this name may be a corruption of Oddo (= Nadoddr) or Auda (= Auðr djúpauðga, an important early settler of Iceland). Koht gives the form Ambe in his translation (1950, 26).
68) fifty years] According to Ari wise men said that Iceland was settled in sixty years (Íslendingabók 9).
69) land of ice] Cf. Gesta Hamm. IV.xxxvi (35): " Thule is now called Iceland, from the ice which binds the ocean" (trans. Tschan 1959, 217).
70) Mount Hekla which, quaking all over like Mount Etna] The volcanic Mount Etna is mentioned by Honorius Augustodunensis (Imago mundi I.xxxv and I.xli-xliii); news of its eruption in 1169 spread throughout Europe (Koht 1950, 27). The Icelandic annals refer to eruptions of Hekla in 1104, 1158, 1206, 1222 and 1300 (see Islandske Annaler).
71) what is reported to have occurred in our own time] Many scholars have agreed with Bugge's suggestion (1873, 35-37) that the eruption referred to here is the one recorded in Icelandic annals for the year 1211, suggesting that HN was written soon after that date. But see Storm 1873, 377-78 and Koht 1919-20, 104 for reasons for doubting this.
72) the book Solinus wrote on the wonders of the world] A reference to C. Julius Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium (written c.200). At this point, however, HN is based not on Solinus but on Honorius Augustodunensis's description of Mount Etna in Imago mundi I.xli-xliii. On possible reasons for the reference to Solinus when basing the text on Honorius see note to 1/2 above and the Introduction, p. xxii.
73) the fountains of the great deep were broken up] Genesis 7:11.
74) Earthquakes] Bede gives a similar description in De natura rerum chs 28 and 49 (PL 90, cols 249-50A and 275B).
75) brings to light... in darkness] Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
The origin of the kings
76) The origin of (he kings] HN is one of a number of sources listing the Yngling kings of Sweden from whom the earliest Norwegian kings were believed to be descended. The surviving texts include: Ynglingatal, a probably ninth-century poem by Þjóðólfr of Hvin; a genealogical list at the end of the extant version of Ari Þorgilsson's Íslendingabók (27-28) which may be indicative of the contents of his lost konunga œvi; Snorri Sturluson's Yngl.; genealogies in Langfeðga tal frá Nóa in MS AM 415 4to (Kålund 1917-18, 57-58) and Ættartala Haralldz frá Óðni in Flat. (I 26-27); and, for the kings from Óláfr trételgja onwards, Af Upplendinga konungum in Hauksbók 456-57. Ellehøj (1965, 114-15) prints lists of the kings from these sources in parallel columns, from which it is clear that HN is closest to Íslendingabok, though it occasionally shows connections with Yngl. and the Flat. genealogy. Various explanations of the relationships between the texts have been put forward. For brief summaries see Magerøy 1976, Rausing 1993; for a full discussion with reference to earlier scholarship and arguing that HN used Ari's lost konunga œvi as a source, see Ellehøj 1965,109-41 and 293-94; Krag 1991 offers a reinterpretation of the evidence based on a redating of Ynglingatal to the twelfth century. On genealogies with mythological names generally see Faulkes 1978-79.
77) Þrándheimr, the principal region of Norway] Also the region in which the shrine and cathedral of St Óláfr Haraldsson were situated and the seat of the archdiocese of Niðaross.
78) Ingvi] The Yngling kings are named after him. In the list of kings appended to Ari's Íslendingabók (27) Yngvi is a Turkish, i. e. Trojan, king (Tyrkjakonungr) in accord with the widespread medieval tendency, following Virgil's Aeneid, to trace the origins of western European royal lines back to Troy. In HN he is the first Swedish king, either because this was the case in Ari's original version of Íslendingabók or because the author of HN altered his source at this point. Ari and HN agree that Yngvi is the father of Njorðr the father of Freyr, but Snorri has Óðinn as the father of Njorðr and states that Freyr hét Yngvi oðru nafni ("Freyr was also called Yngvi"; Yngl. 24). Flat. I 26 has Óðinn-Freyr-Njorðr-Freyr.
79) Njorðr, who fathered Freyr – both these were worshipped as gods by their posterity] Njorðr is the first Svíakonungr ("king of the Swedes") in the appendix to Íslendingabók (21). For this euhemerising explanation of the pagan gods cf. the Prologues to Snorri Sturluson's Edda (1982, 3-4), Hkr (I 3-5) and SepÓlhelg (3).
80) Fjolnir] The first of the kings to be mentioned in Þjóðolfr of Hvin's Ynglingatal (st. 1).
81) Ceres] A classical rather than Norse deity. The name may be used for the benefit of readers outside Scandinavia as an equivalent of Freyja.
82) Dómaldi, was hanged by the Swedes … fertility of the crops] The form Dómald in HN corresponds to Dómaldr in Ari (Íslendingabók 27); Yngl. (ch. 15) and Ynglingatal (st. 5) have the form Dómaldi. Yngl. and Ynglingatal also state that he was sacrificed, but only HN mentions that he was hanged. The close relationship between the king and the fertility of the land, together with the belief that the sacrifice of a king could secure fertility, were ancient and long-lived beliefs of the Germanic peoples. Lönnroth (1986) discusses Snorri's version of the story of Dómaldi in relation to these beliefs.
83) Alrekr was the father of Hogni] HN alone has the name Hogni (Latin Hogna) which appears to be an error for Agni; cf., for example, Íslendingabók 27. HN agrees with Ari that Alrekr was the father of Agni/Hogni, whereas Snorri has them the other way round (Yngl. chs 19-20).
84) Agnafit, which is now called Stockholm] The phrase qui nunc Stokholm dicitur and the description of the manner of Agni's death are not in the Dalhousie manuscript of HN but are added by Storm from the Swedish king lists which depend on an earlier text of HN. Evans (1981, 90 n. 3) claims that the reference to Stockholm almost certainly does not derive from the original version of HN and points out (1981, 101-02) that the name Stockholm is not found in Swedish sources until 1252. Ynglingatal and Yngl. give fuller accounts of the events alluded to here; see further Evans 1981.
85) Ingjaldr] Ynglingatal (st. 12), Ari (Íslendingabók 27), Snorri (Yngl. ch. 21) and Flat. (I 26) all have the name Yngvi. It is not clear why HN has a different name.
86) Bera (which is ursa in Latin)] Both mean "bear".
87) Jorundr] Ynglmgatal (si. 14) and Snorri (Yngl. ch. 24) state that he was hanged by Gýlaugr Háleygjakonungr.
88) Aun] The MS has Auchim (emended in Storm 1880, 100 to Auchun), perhaps a mistake for Authun. He is known in other sources as Aun, which Koht suggests might be an abbreviation of Audun or Audvin (1950, 29).
89) Egill, nicknamed Vendilkráki] In giving this cognomen to Egill HN agrees with Íslendingabók 27, but in Yngl. ch. 27 the name, as is more correct, belongs to his son Óttarr who is said in Þjoðólfr's Ynglingatal st. 19 to have died in Vendill. Though Egill dies in exile according to HN and Ynglingatal St. 20, in Yngl. (ch. 26) he returns to Sweden and dies there.
90) Aðils, or Aðísl] Ari has the form Aðísl (Íslendingabók 27), Ynglingatal st. 21 and Yngl. ch. 29 have ABils. Yngl. ch. 29 has a different account of his death from that given here: Snorri records that Aðils attended a sacrifice at Uppsala and rode around the hall on his horse. The horse stumbled; Aðils was thrown and broke his skull against a rock. Aðils appears in Hrólfs saga kraka and, as Eadgils, in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.
91) Diana] Another classical rather than Norse deity (cf. 12/24). In Breta Sogur (Hauksbók 241) Diana is made equivalent to Gefjun, though Snorri says that the sacrifice A8ils attended was made to the female guardian spirits known as disir (Yngl. ch. 29).
92) Gautar] Ynglingatal St. 23 and Yngl. ch. 31 assert that he was killed by Jutlanders (see further Krag 1991, 125-26).
93) Braut-Onundr who was killed by his brother, Sigvarðr] No other surviving source says that he was killed by his brother (but cf. Krag 1991, 128-29).
94) Ingjaldr] Nicknamed (enn) illráði ("the Wicked") in Íslendingabók 27 and Yngl. ch. 41.
95) víðfaðmi] "Far-reaching".
96) Óláfr, with the nickname "Tree-feller"] Ari (Íslendingabók 27) and Ynglingatal (st. 29) count Óláfr trételgja among Swedish kings, as here; in Snorri's Yngl. ch. 43 he is a king in Vermaland. Snorri also records a quite different manner of death: in Yngl. ch. 43 Óláfr is burned as a sacrifice to Óðinn. The list of Uppland kings in Hauksbók (456) begins with Óláfr trételgja.
97) Halfdan, with the nickname "White-leg"] The first of the Ynglingar to rule in Norway in this text. Ari (Íslendingabók 27) and Hauksbók (456) agree with HN that Hálfdan ruled the Uppland area; Ynglingatal (st. 30) and Yngl. (ch. 46) claim that he also ruled Vestfold (see further Krag 1991,133).
98) Eysteinn, nicknamed "Fart"] He appears with the nickname fretr ("fart") in a genealogy which though interpolated after the Prologue of Íslendingabók largely agrees with the genealogy appended to that work and so may depend on Ari's original version (Íslendingabók 3). The cognomen is not found in Ynglingatal, Yngl. or Af Upplendinga konungum in Hauksbók
99) Halfdan who was lavish … sparing of food] In the interpolated genealogy after the Prologue of Íslendingabók (see preceding note) Hálfdan is called enn mildi ok enn matarilli, "the munificent and stingy with food" (Íslendingabók 3).
100) Guðrøðr the Hunter-king] Called veiðikonungr ("Hunter-king") in the genealogy interpolated after the Prologue of Íslendingabók (3). In Ynglingatal st. 33 and Hauksbók 457 he is nicknamed gofugláti ("generous"), and Yngl. ch. 48 says hann var kallaðr Guðrøðr inn gofugláti, en sumir kolluðu hann veiðikonung ("he was called the Generous, but some called him Hunter-king").
101) Hálfdan, nicknamed "the Black"] His life is recounted by Snorri Sturluson in Hálfdsv (Hkr).
102) On his way … under the ice] Cf. Ágrip 2. Other sources, including Hálfdsv (Hkr) 91-92, record that the feast was a mid-winter Yule-feast.
103) Haraldr hárfagri] Snorri tells in Hkr of Haraldr's promise not to cut or comb his hair until he was king of all Norway ; when this had been achieved he did have it cut and acquired the nickname hárfagri, "fine-hair" (Hhárf (Hkr) 97, 122).
104) seventy-three years] Theodoricus (ch. 1) and Ari (Íslendingabók 6) state that Haraldr ruled seventy years; according to Ágrip (6) he ruled sixty years after winning the whole of Norway. Other sources agree with HN that he ruled for seventy-three (e.g. Nóregskonungatal St. 9; Fskch. 5; SepÓlhelgch. 1); cf. further references in McDougall and McDougall 1998, 57-58 n. 18.
105) sixteen sons] Ágrip (4) and Hkr state that Haraldr had twenty sons, though their lists are not identical (cf. Agrip, 84-85 n. 10). Thirteen of the sons listed in HN are in the list in Agrip; three of those listed here do not appear elsewhere (Jorundr (14/34), Yngvarr (15/1), and Hrólfr (15/2)). Comparison of the remaining names with other sources suggests that Gunnrøðr and Guðrøðr (14/30) were originally one and the same person, as also were Sigtryygr (15/1) and Tryggvi (15/2); cf. Koht 1950, 34-35.
106) Eiríkr, nicknamed blóðøx] The nickname is usually explained as due to the fact that he killed so many of his brothers (cf., for example, Ágrip 8), though Fsk 79 says that he acquired the name because of his activity as a viking.
107) Rognvaldr réttilbeini] The nickname means "straight-leg".
108) Gunnhildr, the daughter of the notably foolish Gormr, king of the Danes] Among Scandinavian sources, only HN records, as was in fact the case, that Gunnhildr was the daughter of Gormr of Denmark (d. c. 940; cf. the naming of one of Eiríkr's sons Gormr after him); Norse sources maintain that Gunnhildr was the daughter of one Ozurr, that she came from Hálogaland and that she was brought up among the Lapps (Finnar; cf., for example, Ágrip 8, Hhárf (Hkr) 135, Fsk 74, Egils saga 94, Njáls saga 11). Jómsvíkingasaga ch. 1 (Blake 1962, 2) records that Gormr was known as "the Foolish" at first, but later as Gormr the Old or the Mighty.
109) six sons] Snorri names seven sons (Hhárf (Hkr) ch. 43), Ágrip (8) ten. It seems that Gamli and Gormr were originally the same person (Koht 1950, 36; Ágrip 88 n. 15).
110) Eiríkr withdrew … foster-father] HN agrees with Ágrip (8, 16) and Theodoricus (ch. 2) that Eiríkr went directly to England (via Denmark, according to Ágrip). Hkr (I 152, II 159) and Egils saga (176) record that he arrived in England after visiting Orkney. Hákon's foster-father, Æthelstan, reigned 925-39 and Eiríkr is unlikely to have arrived in England during his reign. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (MS D) records s. a. 948 that King Eadred invaded Northumbria in that year to win it back from Eiríkr's control. Hkr (1152-53) says that Æthelstan offered Eiríkr rule (ríki, i. e. presumably an earldom) in England (cf. Ágrip 16); he is thought to have become ruler there in 847/48.
111) Spain] Ágrip (16) also records that Eiríkr died in Spain. All other Norse sources agree that he died in battle on Stainmoor in Westmorland in 954.
112) he nevertheless observed… heathen age] In Ágrip, Fsk and once in Hkr Hákon is called "the Good".
113) Two of their battles] Fsk (81-82, 88-93) also mentions two battles, but Theodoricus mentions just one (ch. 4), and Ágrip (10-12) and Hkr (Hákonar saga góða chs 19-31) mention three.
114) fourteen years] Hkr (I 239) gives fifteen years, Theodoricus twelve (ch. 4), Sasmundr the Wise (as preserved in Nóregskonungatal st. 18) nine. Ágrip 18 may have either xv or xii (cf. Ágrip 91 n. 33). See Ólafia Einarsdóttir 1964, 177-79.
115) volubrjótr] This may mean "breaker of sorceresses" or "knuckle-cruncher".
116) klyppr] "squarely-built".
117) But…] The manuscript shows no sign of a lacuna, but it seems that a section of the text telling how Haraldr Eiríksson died has been lost here.
118) Halfdan High-leg was killed by the Orkney islanders] Cf. Orkneyinga saga ch. 8 and Hhárf (Hkr) ch. 30.
119) Rognvaldr réttilbeini … father's orders] Rognvaldr is said above to have been fostered by a sorceress and to have followed her in the practice of magic (14/32-34). The practice of magic (seidr) was often associated with ergi, "unmanliness" including (passive) homosexual activity, and this may explain the "degrading practices" referred to here which impel Rognvaldr's father to order his death by drowning (cf. Strom 1974, 8-9,16-17). In Hhárf (Hkr) ch. 34 Rognvaldr is burnt to death in a house by his half-brother, Eiríkr Bloodaxe, but it is probable that HN preserves the more original version of events.
120) Óláfr and Óláfr] I. e. Óláfr Tryggvason and St Óláfr Haraldsson. The manner in which they are introduced together here may be seen as part of the sustained attempt by HN to present Óláfr Tryggvason as just as worthy of canonisation as his sainted namesake (on this see Ekrem 1998a, 60-63; 1998b, 58-59).
121) Grenland] Elsewhere, Bjorn and his son Guðrøðr are said to have ruled Vestfold (cf. Hhárf (Hkr) ch. 35; Hkr, Haraldssaga gráfeldar ch. 1).
122) kula] "Knob, ball".
123) perpetual king of Norway] At his coronation in 1163/64 Magnus Erlingsson received Norway to rule on behalf of her perpetual king in heaven, St Óláfr.
124) Sow] The Latin scrofa used here means "sow", but the Norse form of the nickname, syr, often declines differently from the common noun sýr, "sow", possibly indicating a different original meaning.
125) Sigvarðr risi (that is "the Giant")] In Icelandic sources his nickname is hrisi (Ágrip 4, Hhárf (Hkr) ch. 25, Msk 56, 190 and Fsk 71, 226); with the long vowel this means not "giant" but "illegitimate son/bastard" (cf. ON hrísungr).
126) Óláfr] In Ágrip 4 he has the nickname digrbeinn ("stout-leg"), but in Hkr I 119 is called Geirstaðaálfr ("elf of Geirstaðir") after an earlier character of that name who also, according to Ólhelg (Leg) 30 had the additional nickname digrbeinn.
127) a small island] The mound Tryggvareyrr (see 18/2) is modern Tryggvarör on Tryggvaey (modern Tryggo) to the west of Sótanes (Ranríki). Ágrip 26, Oddr 6 and other sources place Tryggvareyrr on Sótanes.
128) Saxi, Skorri and Skreyja] All nicknames of men whose names are not now known.
129) Ástriðr herself… Orkney islands] HN is the only source to record that Óláfr was born in Orkney; all others have him born in Norway. Ágrip 26 has Ástriðr flee to Orkney after Tryggvi's death with a three-year-old Óláfr. In ÓlTrygg (Hkr) ch. 1 Óláfr is born on an island in a lake after Tryggvi's death.
130) when he learnt… deprive him of the kingdom] Here the young Óláfr Tryggvason is strikingly compared to the Christ-Child (a "fatherless boy") and Hákon jarl to Herod; cf. Matthew 2: 1-18. The comparison of Óláfr with the Christ-Child is made more explicitly in Oddr 22-23.
131) a kinsman] Ástrioðs brother, Sigurðr Eiríksson was at the court of Vladimir, son of Grand Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev.
132) When he was about twelve … adopted as a son] A slightly fuller account of this deed is in Ágrip ch. 18, though that text makes no mention of Óláfr's adoption by the king. Oddr 26-28 provides a much fuller account in which Óláfr is said to have been nine years old.
133) Practising piracy as a youth] On Óláfr's Viking activity see Jones 1984, 131-33. See also note to 23/24-25 below.
134) Jómsborg] Only HN and Agrip state that this was Óláfr's winter base. The main source of information on this south Baltic town and the Vikings who inhabited it is the early thirteenth-century Jómsvíkinga saga, though it is not clear how much faith may be put in the historical accuracy of its account. See Blake 1962.
135) a small island off Britain] Ágrip 28 refers simply to "a place in England", but most other sources agree that the hermit lived in the Isles of Scilly. Britannia in HN corresponds to ON Bretland, referring specifically to the Celtic parts of Britain, here Cornwall. The story of Óláfr's encounter with the hermit and subsequent baptism parallels a similar story told of his namesake Óláfr Haraldsson in Ólhelg (Leg) 64. (On the transfer of stories concerning St Óláfr Haraldsson to his namesake in an attempt to promote Óláfr Tryggvason's sanctity see Lönnroth 1963; 1965, 16-18.) Turville-Petre (1967, 135-36) draws attention to a source for the stories in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle s. a. 994 states that Óláfr was baptised (or possibly confirmed) at Andover in that year.
136) the blessed Óláfr] Cf. 23/17. Ekrem (1998a, 61-62; 1998b, 58-59) adduces this title as evidence of an attempt by the writer of HN to advance Óláfr Tryggvason's canonisation. St Óláfr Haraldsson is referred to below as beatissimus, "most blessed" (24/4).
137) the health-giving change … Most High] Cf. Psalm 76: 11 (77: 10).
138) Johannes] Cf. Gesta Hamm. II.xxxvii (35), Oddr ch. 26 (17). Other sources (Ágrich. 19, Theodoricus ch. 8) give the bishop's name as Sigeweard/Sigurðr. Oddr (91-92) introduces him as Jon, but later (98, 246) says that he was also called Sigurðr.
139) Þangbrandr] A prominent early foreign missionary to Iceland. He was rather more successful at making (and in some cases slaying) enemies than converting heathens. See Íslendingabók 14; Kristnisaga 14-30).
140) one mind and one mouth] Cf. Romans 15: 6.
141) Karkr killed him despicably by night] Parallel accounts tell how Karkr murdered Hákon in a pigsty (cf. Theodoricus ch. 10, Ágrip ch. 13, Oddr ch. 21 (15), ÓlTrygg (Hkr) chs 48-49). On Karkr's name in different texts and its possible meaning see Agrip 92 n. 40.
142) the Shetlanders … Icelanders] All peoples who came under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Niðaróss when it was established in 1152/53. Shetlanders and Orcadians are listed separately here, though in the earlier geographical description the Shetland islands were not mentioned.
143) shining in faith … ardent in charity] Cf. Romans 12: 10-12.
144) the duke of Slavland] Pyri had in fact been married to Búrizleifr (Boleslaw the Brave), ruler of Poland 992-1025. HN here agrees closely with Ágrip 32, but a slightly different account is given in Hkr (I 273, 341-43), Oddr 143-47 and Fsk 145-47.
145) while sailing past Sjáland] What follows is an account of the Battle of Svolðr, the location of which is now uncertain. HN follows Gesta Hamm. II.xl (38) and agrees with Ágrip ch. 20 in locating the battle near Sjáland (Sjælland) in Øresund. See further McDougall and McDougall 1998, 74 n. 113 and references there.
146) But when the battle … an uncertain fact] For similar uncertainty about Óláfr's fate, see Theodoricus ch. 14, Ágrip ch. 20, ÓlTrygg (Hkr) ch. 112 (citing Hallfreðr vandræðaskald's Óláfsdrápa (erfidrápa)). Oddr (chs 73 (61) to 75 (63), 78 (65) to 81) claims that Óláfr escaped the battle, visited the Holy Land and died a monk.
147) almost uprooted … Johannes watered] Cf. 1 Corinthians 3: 6; Matthew 15: 13. See also Oddr 1.
148) in Eapolis] The manuscript reads in ea poll or in eo poli, where poli is presumably ablative of the Latinised Greek word polis, "city". Koht (1950, 49) adopts the latter reading, taking poli to refer to Hólmgarðr.
149) he constantly harassed all the peoples round the Baltic Sea] Óláfr's Viking activities are recorded in Sigvatr Þórðarson's Víkingarvísur and Óttarr svarti's Hofuðlausn.
150) he was invited … to England] Sveinn sailed to England in 1013, but Óláfr did not accompany him. Óláfr had been in England in the army of the Dane Porkell Strút-Haraldsson inn hávi between 1009 and 1012, then went to France and Spain, wintering in Rouen in 1013-14. On Þorkell's campaign and Óláfr's activities in England see Campbell 1949, 73-82.
151) most blessed tyrant] Latin beatissimus tyrannus. Tyrannus here may have the sense of "Viking"; cf. Skard 1930, 23, 51; Ekrem 1998a, 43, 61.
152) Æthelred] Æthelred "the Unready" (Old English unræd, "ill-advised"), fled England late in 1013 but returned after Sveinn's death on 2 February 1014 with Óláfr among his followers. Æthelred then reigned again until his own death in 1016.
153) they eagerly started off together] In fact, Óláfr was not with Knútr; cf. notes above to 24/1-2 and 24/4.
154) King Edmund was staying at the time] Æthelred died in 1016 and Edmund was in London that year; Óláfr had already returned to Norway by then. He had, however, been involved in a battle for London in the winter of 1009-10; Sigvatr's Víkingarvísur and Óttarr's Hofuðlausn celebrate his attack on London Bridge then. See Ólhelg (Hkr) chs 12-13.
155) Ælfgifu] This is the Anglo-Saxon name used by Emma of Normandy, Æthelred's widow and the daughter of Richard I of Normandy. HN is the only foreign source to use this name rather than Emma; see Campbell 1949, 55-58 (especially 56-57). Storm (1880, 123 n. 6), however, suggests the following manuscript lacuna may have provided her alternative name Emma.
156) Knútr, nicknamed "the Hard"] Norse sagas refer to him as Horða-Knútr, i.e. Knútr from Horð in Jutland. The nickname in HN agrees with that found in Danish sources. Knútr was the only son of Knútr Sveinsson and Emma/Ælfgifu of Normandy ; his half-brother Sveinn was Knútr's son by his concubine, Ælfgifu of Northampton.
157) Margaret] She was the sister of Knútr, not of Óláfr of Sweden. Other sources record that Óláfr was betrothed to Ingigerðr, a daughter of Óláfr of Sweden, and that he eventually married her sister, Ástriðr; see, for example, Theodoricus ch. 16, Ágrip ch. 25, Fsk ch. 30, Ólhelg (Hkr) chs 88-93.
158) by her had ...] Ágrip (ch. 25) gives Óláfr's daughter's name as Gunnhildr, but other sources (e. g. Theodoricus ch. 16, Fsk ch. 30, Ólhelg (Hkr) chs 181, 197) give Óláfr's daughter's name as Úlfhildr, which is more likely to be correct.
159) Four bishops] Also listed in Cesta Hamm. II.lvii (55) as among the many English bishops and priests Óláfr had with him.
160) The end] HN cannot originally have been intended to end here and in such a perfunctory manner. Ekrem (1998a, 87) suggests that the word Explicit may have been transferred here from the end of what was originally Book II, or alternatively that the original reading was Explicit liber I.