ОБЗОР САГ О НОРВЕЖСКИХ КОНУНГАХ
1. According to Snorri (Heimskringla I 97, 122) and most of the other sources, Haraldr vows neither to cut nor comb his hair till he is king of all Norway. This vow is absent from the story as preserved here, but may have appeared in that part of the manuscript now wanting at the beginning. It is said that when Haraldr's hair finally was cut, ten years later, he was redubbed hárfagrí, 'fine-hair'.
2. The Scandinavians retained jól, the name of their pre-Christian mid-winter feast, or forms of it, as the name of the Christian celebration which gradually replaced it. The Old Icelandic jólmánuðr, 'yule-month', was the third month of winter, lasting from mid-December to mid-January. Thus it corresponds to the OE geol, the twin months around the winter solstice, a sense preserved in the modern English Yule and Yule-tide. On Old Norse-Icelandic time-reckoning generally see Þorsteinn Vilhjálmsson 1990, especially 16-24, and Árni Björnsson 1990; or, in English, Hastrup 1985, 17-49 and references there.
Jólnir as a name for Óðinn appears elsewhere, but is not common. Snorri, quoting Eyvindr skáldaspillir, gives the plural form jólnar as a name for the gods in general (Edda Snorra Sturlusonar 1931, 166). In Fíateyjarbók (I 564), Óðinn's name is (correctly) derived from that of the feast, and not, as here, the other way round.
Viðrir, Hár and Þriði are probably the best attested of Óðinn's two hundred-odd names. Viðriris related to veðr, 'weather', meaning 'he who rules the weather' (cf. Flateyjarbók I 564). Hár(r) and Þriði, 'High' (or 'Hoary', or 'One-eyed') and 'Third', appear frequently, for example in Snorri's Gylfaginning (Edda Snorra Sturlusonar 1931, 10-16 et passim) as two members of a much-debated pagan trinity (see Lorenz 1984, 81-83). The third member, Jafnhár, 'Equally High', is here omitted. On Óðinn's various names see Turville-Petre 1964, 61-63.
3. Hálfdan svarti was the son of Guðrøðr, king in Vestfold. Haraldr hárfagri was Hálfdan's son by his second wife Ragnhildr, daughter of Sigurðr hjörtr, king in Hringaríki (now Ringerike). According to tradition, Hálfdan was forty at the time of his death and Haraldr ten at the time of his accession (cf. Agrip's own 'by the age of twenty he was the first king to gain ail Norway ' and 'ten winters he fought'). Beginning with Ari fróði, the Icelandic sources – and Ágrip, though whether on the basis of Ari's chronology remains a point of contention – seem to reckon Haraldr's birth to have been not later than 851 or 852 (see Íslendíngabók xxxv), a date historians agree must be too early. The problems surrounding dates for the earliest kings of Norway are complex; discussion can be found in Heimskríngla I lxxi-lxxxi; Jón Jóhannesson 1956, 26-27 (1974, 13-15); Ólafía Einarsdóttir 1964, 59-61; Íslendíngabók xxxv-xxxviii; and Andersen 1977, 79-84.
4. In other sources (e. g. Heimskringla 191-92) a Yule-feast is specified; presumably the reason for the digression on the origin of the word jól in the preceding paragraph.
5. There is a large mound in Ringerike called Halvdanshaugen. Fagrskinna (58) and Ágrip agree that Hálfdan was buried there, but in Heimskringia (I 93) and other sources his body is said to have been divided into three (or four) parts, so that one part of him could be buried in each part of his kingdom. This is not known to have been a practice in Norway in heathen times, and the story is not generally credited.
6. The place here called Hafrsvágr is known in other sources as Hafrsfjörðr (i. e. 'Goat's fjord' as opposed to 'bay'). Finnur Jónsson (1928, 281) suggested that the author could here have been working from a Latin source in which the name appeared as Caprí sinus, which, being unfamiliar with the original name, he rendered back into Norse as Hafrsvágr.
7. Oddmjór, 'thin (i. e. narrow) at the point'. This poem is otherwise unknown, nor does the half-verse cited here appear elsewhere. Bjarni Einarsson (Ágrip 1984, xlvii; 4) suggests the name might have been applied to the poem because it was thought to end abruptly.
8. ON Skjöldungr, a descendant of the legendary Skjöldr, Beowulf's Scyld Scefíng, founder of the Scylding dynasty of Denmark; here used as a heiti (poetic synonym) for king (Lexicon Poeticum 510); hence my translation 'Scylding-king'.
9. Skeiðarbrandr was the word for the decorated piece of wood on the side of a warship's prow. It is used here to mean simply ship, and is therefore not, strictly speaking, a kenning, but rather an example of synecdoche. The author of Ágrip misinterprets the term, however, taking the second element as the personal name Brandr. This has been cited as evidence for Norwegian authorship, the locus classicus being Turville-Petre's observation that 'an educated Icelander of that day would be sufficiently well trained in scaldic diction to avoid such obvious pitfalls' (1953, 173). But even if one accepts Turville-Petre's view of medieval Icelanders, it must be said in defence of our author – and medieval Norwegians in general – that names of this sort (genitive plus proper name) were in no way uncommon (e. g. Skalla-Grímr), whereas the term skeiðarbrandr appears only twice in the whole of skaldic literature, here, and in str. 7/3-4 of the poem Hrynhenda by Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld (Skjd. A I 334; B I 307), as the determinant in the kenning skyldír skeiðarbrands, 'a sailor' (Lexicon Poeticum 504). There is, moreover, a general resemblance, first pointed out by Munch (Ágrip 1834, 274-75), between the first two lines of Oddmjór and the two lines in Hrynhenda that contain the kenning: 'skyldir [or in some manuscripts 'skjöldungr'] stökk með skœðan þokka / skeiðarbrands fyr þér ór landi'. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Ágrip 1841, 351) noted in addition a resemblance between the second couplet of Oddmjór and two lines from Arnórr's Magnúsdrápa, str. 7: 'Náði siklingr síðan / snjallr ok Danmörk allri' (Skjd. A I 340; B I 312), suggesting that the whole verse cited here is simply a conflation of the two.
It is also interesting, however, that the author of Ágrip seems to have more information on 'Brandr' than can be gleaned from the half-verse he cites, suggesting that the other half-verse – assuming there to have been one – may have contained references to Denmark and Wendland. On the other hand the author may merely have felt obliged to say more about this king Brandr and simply invented for him what seemed a probable fate for Haraldr's final enemy.
10. Haraldr's sons are also said to be twenty in Heimskringla, but a few of the names, and many of the nicknames, differ. Historía Norvegiæ names sixteen sons, thirteen of whom also appear in Ágrip. Ágrip also includes one, Eysteinn, presumably Haraídr's son by Svanhildr (see below), not mentioned by Snorri. Haraldr's various sons are listed here in roughly chronological order. Forms in Heimskringla, where different, are given in brackets.
By Ása Hákonardóítir: Goðormr (Guthormr), Hálfdan svarti ('the black'); Heimskringla also lists Hálfdan hvíti ('the white') and Sig(f)røðr, neither of whom is mentioned in Ágrip.
By Gyða Eiríksdóttir: Hrœrekr, Tryggvi (Sigtryggr in Heimskríngla, both named in Ágrip), Fróði; Heimskringla also lists Þorgils (sometimes written Þorgísl), and in Snorri's Separate Óláfs saga helga (6) Gunnrøðr, 'whom some call Guðrøðr' (actually the same name) is said to be Haraldr's son by Gyða, together with Guthormr and Hrœrekr. A daughter Álof (Ólof) is also mentioned in both Heimskringía and Ágrip.
By Ragnhildr Eiríksdóttir: Eiríkr blóðøx, 'blood-axe'; the cognomen is thought generally to refer to his murdering so many of his brothers – he is called fratrum interfector by Theodoricus (7) – but in Fagrskinna (79) his nickname is explained as referring to his Viking days.
By Svanhildr Eysteinsdóttir: Óláfr digrbeinn, 'stout-leg' (called Geirstaðaálfr, 'the elf of Geirstaðir', in Heimskríngla (I 119); the Oláfr Geirstaðaálfr after whom this one was named also had the nickname digrbeinn, according to the 'Legendary Saga' (1982, 30)); Björn kaupmaðr, 'merchant', whom some call buna, the meaning of which is not entirely clear (Finnur Jónsson, Ágrip 1929, 3, note 2, gives it as 'entw. "knochenröhre" oder "klumpfuß"' (cf. Lind 1920-21, 49; Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon 1989, 92), and Cleasby-Vigfússon 1957, 86, as 'one with the stocking hanging down his leg, ungartered'; Snorri (Heimskringla I 140) says that Björn's brothers called him farmaðr or kaupmaðr, 'sailor' or 'merchant'); Rögnvaldr, or Ragnarr, called reykill (rykkill in Heimskringia I 119), possibly related to rykkja, 'to pull' (Lind 1920-21, 299).
By Áshildr Hringsdóttir: Dagr, Hringr, Guðrøðr, called skirja, probably 'cow' (see Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon 1989, 846), but tentatively related by Lind (1920-21, 327) to Norwegian (nynorsk) skjerja, 'to screech with laughter'. Heimskringla also mentions a daughter, Ingigerðr.
By Snjófríðr (Snæfríðr) Svásadóttir; Sigurðr hrísi, probably related to hrísungr, 'an illegitimate son', or, more properly, 'a son begotten in the woods' (Fritzner 1886-96, II 61; Lind 1920-21, 157-58), Hálfdan hvítbeinn, 'white-leg' (called háleggr or (in a verse) Háfœta, 'high-leg', in Heimskríngla), Guðrøðr ljómi, 'lustre', Rögnvaldr (réttilbeini, 'straight-leg', in Heimskríngla, confused with Ragnarr rykkill in Ágrip; see note 12 below), Hákon góði, 'the good', so called only in Ágrip and Fagrskínna (and once in Heimskringlá), but otherwise known as Aðalsteinsfóstri, as he was brought up by king Æthelstan of England. He was not Haraldr's son by Snjófríðr according to Snorri, but by Þóra Mo(r)strstöng.
11. Snjófríðr: Snorri (Heimskríngla I 126) uses the variant form Snæfríðr, and calls her father Svási merely 'the Lapp', rather than 'king of the Lapps'. In Flateyjarbók (I 582), where there is no indication that he is Snjófríðr's father, he is said to be a dwarf.
12. The awkwardness of this passage has led some scholars to postulate the existence of a Latin source for it, in which the Norse term seiðmaðr was included and then glossed, presumably with something like vocatus est seidmadr, id est propheta. Finnur Jónsson (Ágrip 1929, 3) went as far as to suggest that this source might even have been the lost book of Sæmundr fróði (see Introduction, p. xv). Ulset (1983, 116-l8) points out, however, that in Ágrip chapter XIX, where the text closely parallels that of Historía Norvegiæ, the author uses the loan-word própheti, whereas, having once translated it as spámaðr, he might reasonably be expected to do so again. Ulset is of the opinion that the author has confounded two persons, Rögnvaldr and Ragnarr, one of whom was called skratti (normally seiðskratti), the other seiðmaðr, from the word seiðr, 'charm' or 'spell'. Both words signified 'wizard' or 'warlock' in medieval usage. Loath to omit one of the terms, our author decided to define one of them more closely, although in fact they are more or less synonymous. Bjarní Einarsson (Ágrip 1984, xxii) has suggested instead that the author may have preferred to use the loan word própheti in chapter XIX in describing a man of God, having used the more normal spámaðr here for a pagan wizard.
13. Snorri uses the story of Snjófríðr in Heimskringla (I 125-27), beginning here and following Ágrip down to Land the kingdom by them both' (ch. IV). Stylistically the episode differs markedly from the material surrounding it in Heimskringla, and it is tempting to think that Snorri recognised a good story when he heard one and felt no need to alter it. He does, however, include one piece of information not found in the story as preserved here. After the death of Snæfríðr, he says: en litr hennar skipaðisk á engan veg, var hon jafnrjóð sem þá, er hon var kvik. Konungr sat æ yfír henni ok hugði, at hon myndi lifna, 'but her colour changed in no way; she was as rosy-cheeked as she had been in life. The king sat always by her, and believed that she would revive.' As was mentioned above, a version of the story also appears in Flateyjarbók (I 582-83), one differing so significantly from that preserved in Ágrip that it cannot derive from it. There too we find the explanation for Haraldr's behaviour: spread over Snjófríðr after her death is the cloth Svásanautr – presumably the guðvefr and fatnaðr mentioned in Ágrip and Heimskringla – which is so charged with magical properties that Haralldi konungi læitzst hennar likame suo biartr ok inniligr at hann uillde æigi iarda lata, 'her body appeared to King Haraldr so bright and lovely that he would not have her buried'. This must therefore have been part of the original story, and Snorri must therefore have used a version of Ágrip different from – and closer to the original than – the one now extant. Ólafur Halldórsson (1969) has argued that the Flateyjarbók version of the story derives from the poem Snjófrfðardrápa, only the first strophe of which is cited in Flateyjarbók (I 582; Skjd. A I 5; B I 5), where it is attributed to Haraldr himself. A further five half-strophes attributed to Ormr Steinþórsson and preserved in Edda Snorra Sturlusonar(1931, 92, 94, 146, 147, 176; Skjd. A I, 415-16; B I 385) are, Ólafur maintains, also part of this same drápa. Snjófríðardrápa and the story as preserved in Ágrip derive from a common source. A sixth half-strophe from the same poem is found in Magnús Ólafsson's Edda; see Ólafur Halldórsson (1990).
The story's ultimate origins in folklore have been investigated by Moe (1925-27, II 168-97), who points out the relationship between the first part of the story and, for example, the tale of King Vortigern and Rowena in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (1985-88, I 67; II 91-92), and, somewhat more distant, between the second part and the story of Snow White – called Snofri in Norwegian versions of the tale.
14. The name Hasleyjarsund is not attested elsewhere, the strait in question being otherwise referred to as Haugasund (modern Haugesund), but Jan Ragnar Hagland (1989) has argued that Haugasund was originally not the name of the strait, but rather of a place on the coast, which was later applied to the strait itself, while Hasleyjarsund is the original name, deriving from the name of the island (Hasley, modern Hasselø, but in earlier dialect forms Hatløy).
15. Gunnhildr was probably the daughter of Gormr gamli, king of Denmark, and the sister of Haraldr blátönn. It was the common Icelandic view, however, that Gunnhildr was the daughter of Özurr (cf. e. g. Heimskringla 1135, Fagrskinna 74, Egils saga 94, Njáls saga 11). His nickname lafskegg, 'dangling beard', appears also in Fagrskinna, but Snorri calls him toti, 'protuberance' (cf. English teat etc.), possibly with the same meaning, or in the sense of 'nose' or 'snout' (cf. Lind 1920-21, 385). In Historia Norvegiæ (105) Gunnhildr is identified as the daughter of Gormr. The origin of this confusion is not clear, but it may be due, at least in part, to Icelandic hostility toward Gunnhildr, whom they may have wanted to have had more humble origins. An interesting, if now somewhat dated, examination of Gunnhildr and the legends surrounding her is offered by Sigurður Nordal (1941).
Snorri lists the sons of Eiríkr and Gunnhildr as Gamli, Guthormr, Haraldr gráfeldr ('grey-cloak'), Ragnfrøðr, Erlingr, Guðrøðr, Sigurðr slefa ('drool' or, conceivably, 'snake', see Lind 1920-21, 339; Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon 1989, 890), all of whom are mentioned in Ágrip, where we also find Hálfdan, Eyvindr, and Gormr. Snorri's Guthormr is called in Ágrip Goðormr, an alternative form of that name; Gormr, a contracted form of Goðormr, is what one would expect Eiríkr and Gunnhildr's first-born son to have been named (i. e. after his maternal grandfather). According to Lind (1905-15, 297-98) Gamli Eiríksson is the earliest and only certain example of the name Gamli found in Norway, although there are instances of the strong form, Gamall. Nicknames could, of course, also be passed on – we have already seen an example of this in Haraldr's son Hálfdan svarti – and there are examples of nicknames becoming proper names in their own right (e. g. Magnús, from Karlamagnús = Charlemagne), so that Gamli and Gormr could have been the same person (Storm 1893, 216-17).
16. Snorri (Heimskringla I 147) divides the five years of Eiríkr's reign the other way, three while Haraldr lived and two thereafter, and this is the generally accepted view.
17. As was noted above, Gunnhildr's reputation is thought to have suffered at the hands of Icelandic historians. But even here, in a work apparently composed entirely in a Norwegian milieu and most probably by a Norwegian, the portrait is one of a beautiful, wicked, ambitious, treacherous and cruel woman, who practised sorcery on more than a few occasions. It may be that the author, like Theodoricus, got much of his material from Icelanders, and was prepared to accept their view of the story, but it may also be that Gunnhildr's reputation in Norway was equally notorious. Both Theodoricus (7) and Historia Norvegiæ (105-06), for example, blame her for Eiríkr's unpopularity.
18. According to Heimskringla (I 152 and II 159) and Egils saga (176), Eiríkr went to England by way of Orkney; Theodoricus (7) and Historia Norvegiæ (105), and Ágrip itself (chapter VII), say he went directly to England.
19. This heathen wife of Hákon's is otherwise unknown, but his daughter Þóra is mentioned in Heimskringla (I 192).
20. Þrœndir: men from the area of Þrándheimr, the modern Trøndelag.
21. Hákon would have been brought up a Christian at the court of his foster-father, and although he did proclaim his intention to convert the people of Norway, and may even have brought English missionaries with him to Norway, his political good sense seems to have tempered his religious fervour and there are several stories like these of his attempting to have his cake and eat it. He would drink toasts to the gods only after making the sign of the cross over the cup (Heimskringla I 171), or, as here, would wrap the sacrificial horse-liver in cloth so as to bite but not taste it. The chieftains would not accept these compromises and in the end Hákon worshipped as his ancestors had done. Eyvindr skáldaspillir's Hákonarmál (Skjd. A I 64-68; B I 57-60), composed in his memory, depicts his entry into Valhöll where he is welcomed as one who has vel um þyrmt véom ('respected holy places').
22. The original reads: hann setti Golaþingslög eftir ráðagørð Þorleifs spaka, er verity hafði forðum. Here setti cannot mean established, as the Gulaþingslög predated Hákon's time; nor is it clear what er verit hafði forðum refers to (er could be either 'which' or 'who'). Although syntactically it could refer to Þorleifr, er would seem more logically to refer to lög, in which case however one would expect a plural verb, i. e. höfðu. Bjarni Einarsson (Ágrip 1984, li) suggests that something like ok hagaði í flestu eptir því could be missing between spaka and er (but cf. Heimskringla I 163).
23. A child would take a metronymic rather than the more common patronymic when the father was unknown, deceased or less prominent than the mother (see H0dneb0 1974, 319).
24. The Battle of Fræði (modern Frei) is generally reckoned to have been fought five years after the battle at Körmt (modern Karmøy).
25. Gamli too fell at Fræði (cf. Heimskringla I 180-81), and the story related here may well derive from an incorrect interpretation of the name Gamlaleir, which probably means 'old clay'. Although leir(r) is not common as a second place-name element (see Rygh 1897-1936, Forord og indledning 65), specific incidents such as this very rarely give rise to place names (see Dalberg and Sørensen 1972-79, I 196).
26. According to Snorri (Heimskringla I 182), the Battle of Fitjar was fought when Hákon had been king twenty-six years, and therefore only six years after Fræði, not nine as here. The .ix. of the MS could be a mistake for. vi., or the author could be reckoning from the Battle of Körmt, or it could simply reflect the apparent confusion among medieval historians as to the number and dates of battles between Hákon and the sons of Eiríkr. Theodoricus (10) mentions only one battle, Historia Norvegiæ (107) and Fagrskinna (81-82, 88-93) two. Snorri and Ágrip agree at least as to number, if not as to date.
27. The name appears in the manuscript as scraygia (which would be normalised 'skreygja'), but in Heimskringla (1185, 189-90) and Egils saga (123), where he is said to be the brother of Queen Gunnhildr, he is called skreyja, the meaning of which may be 'a sickly-looking man' or 'a coward' (Lind 1920-21, 333). Neither seems appropriate to the character described here. Guðbrandur Vigfússon (Cleasby-Vigfússon 1957, 557) suggested 'a brayer, bragger', which Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon (1989, 861-62) is prepared to accept. In Historia Norvegiæ (111) he is called simply 'Screyia'.
28. Pórálfr Skólmsson inn sterki is mentioned in a number of sources, and is everywhere said to be a man of great strength. Cf. e. g. Heimskringla (I 187), Fagrskinna (74), Crettis saga (187) and Landnámabók(251). Þórðr Sjáreksson composed a drápa on him, of which there are preserved three and a half verses (Skjd. A I 328-29; B I 302-03).
29. Eyvindr Finnsson, known as skáldaspillir (thought to mean 'plagiarist') was a Norwegian court poet whose Hákonarmál, mentioned above, through its resemblance to Eiríksmál (written in honour of Eiríkr blóðøx), may have earned him his nickname.
30. Also called Kvernbítr, 'mill-stone biter'. Cf. Heimskringla I 146:
Aðalsteinn konungr gaf Hákoni sverð þat, er hjöltin váru ór gulli ok meðalkaflinn, en brandrinn var þó betri, þar hjó Hákon með kvernstein til augans. Þat var síðan kallat Kvernbítr. Þat sverð hefir bezt komit til Nóregs. Þat átti Hákon til dauðadags. ('King Æthelstan gave Hákon a sword with a golden hilt and haft, but the blade was even better. With it Hákon split a millstone to the eye. It was thereafter called Kvernbítr. It was the best sword ever to have come to Norway. Hákon had it until the day he died.')
31. This information is not to be found in either Historía Norvegiæ or Theodoricus, but Snorri (Heimskdngla 1152-53) says that King Æthelstan sent word to Eiríkr offering him a kingdom in England. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (D) for 948 records that the Northumbrians had received Eiríkr as king in York. It is unlikely that he would have been in England much before 947, and Æthelstan died in the autumn of 939.
32. Only Ágrip and Historia Norvegiæ (106) place Eiríkr's death in Spain. Snorri (Heimskringla 1154) and the other Scandinavian historians, undoubtedly on the authority of Eiríksmál (Fagrskinna 79), say he died along with five other Norse kings on Stainmoor in Westmoreland (see Seeberg 1978-79). Finnur Jónsson (1920-24, II 614, n. 2) suggests Span- may be a corruption of Stan-.
33. This number is now virtually unreadable in the manuscript and could be either .xv. or .xii, A comparison with the other sources is of no help, as Snorri (Heimskringla 1239) gives the first and Theodoricus (10) the second as the number of years in Haraldr's reign. There is little external evidence to support either number. Noregskonungatal (Flateyjarbók II 522), which is thought, as was said, to be based on Sæmundr fróði's lost book (see Introduction, p. xv), says that Haraldr ruled for nine years. According to Historia Norvegiæ (107) he ruled for fourteen years.
34. kleypr, written clavpr in the manuscript, may be another form of – or error for – klyppr, 'squarely-built', the form found in other sources (Lind 1920-21, 205). Snorri (Heimskringla I 218-19) uses it as a proper name.
35. This sentence is now almost unreadable in the manuscript, the result of an attempt at some point to rub it out. If the reading is correct, Ágrip here agrees with Theodoricus (11) in claiming that Haraldr gráfeldr killed Tryggvi. In chapter XVI, where the text is quite similar to that of Historia Norvegiæ (110-11), it is said that 'not all tell of his [i. e. Tryggvi's] slaying in the same way'.
36. Gull-Haraldr was the son of Knútr Danaást, Haraldr blátönn's brother. In Jómsvíkinga saga (1969, 73-74; Flateyjarbók I 104-05) it is said that Haraldr blátönn was responsible for his brother Knútr's death, as he would later be for his nephew's.
37. This last speech of Haraldr gráfeldr is not found in Heimskringla or any of the other major Kings' Sagas, but does appear in one manuscript of Jómsvikinga saga (1969, 82).
38. In the later histories Gunnhildr, as a result of all her sons proclaiming themselves king at one time or another, is referred to as konungamóðir, 'mother of kings'.
39. As Gunnhildr was probably Haraldr blátönn's sister (see note 15 above), this story – found also in Theodoricus (12-13), Jómsvíkinga saga (1969, 83-84) and some manuscripts of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta (I 170-71; Flateyjarbók I 152-53) – must be seen in the light of the medieval 'smear campaign' against Gunnhildr mentioned above (notes 15 and 17).
40. Snorri (Heimskringla I 295-98) calls him both Karkr and Þormóðr karkr, while he is Skopti karkr in Jómsvíkinga saga (1969, 185, 194) and Fagrskinna (139), and called just Karkr by Oddr Snorrason (1932, 78). The word itself could be related to the Norwegian (nynorsk) word kark, 'thick bark', or to karka, 'to tie or bind tightly' (Lind 1920-21, 189; Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon 1989, 447).
41. Ulli is a pet-name for Erlendr (Lind 1905-15, 1056). According to Snorri (Heimskringía I 295) and the other sources Óláfr Tryggvason had only shortly before killed Hákon's son Erlendr, who was waiting by his father's ships.
42. Literally 'that all passages were closed'.
43. The author may here be working from two different sources, as this was already stated at the beginning of the chapter.
44. This is the only version of this story in which Karkr murders Hákon under orders, rather than on his own initiative (cf. Heimskringla I 297; Oddr Snorrason 1932, 83). This is perhaps meant further to demean Hákon's already inglorious death preparatory to the arrival of the spectacular figure of Óláfr Tryggvason.
45. Hákon's position had by this time so weakened that with Óláfr's return to Norway he found every hand turned against him. Although his appetite for women was legendary (cf. Heimskríngla I 290-91), the chief reasons for his unpopularity were obviously political (see Andersen 1977, 101).
46. Karkr is said to have been hanged in most of the other sources, but in Heimskringla (I 298) he is beheaded.
47. Hersir was the traditional title of a Norwegian chieftain from the earliest times down to about the time of Haraldr hárfagri, when it came to represent a rank below jarl, 'earl' and above hölðr, 'yeoman, freeholder' (Fritzner 1886-96, I 804-05; see also Sogner 1961). It is highly unlikely that Hersir was ever the name of any particular king and there is no other record of any king bearing this name. Similarly, Vigða is unknown as a woman's name but does exist as a river-name (Rygh 1904, 296).
48. Sixteen verses and half-verses from the poem Háleygjatal (none of them relating to the incidents described here) have survived in Heimskringla, Edda Snorra Sturfusonar and Fagrskinna (see Skjd. A I 68-71; B 160-62).
49. Tryggvareyrr (or -hreyrr, modern Tryggvarör), is the name of a large mound thought to date from the Bronze Age on the island Tryggö (ON Tryggvaey, 'Tryggvi's island'), to the west of Sótanes (Sotanäs). In Historia Norvegiæ (110) Tryggvareyrr is said to be on an island, but other sources, e. g. Oddr Snorrason (1932, 6) agree with Ágrip in placing it on Sótanes itself. The text seems to imply that Sótanes is in Raumaríki (Romerike), and, if so, is incorrect. It is in Ranríki (modern Bohuslan), which, according to Snorri (Heimskringla I 151), is where Tryggvi ruled.
50. Snorri (Heimskringla I 225) has Ástríðr's son born on an island in a lake after Tryggvi's death. But as it was customary for a child born after the death of its father to be named after him, that Óláfr was named after his grandfather and not his father lends credence to the story as it is related here (cf. Storm 1893, 214).
51. There is an erasure following lúsarskegg in which Gustav Storm was able to make out sumir loðskeggi, '[but] some [call] shaggy-beard' (see textual note). The reason for the erasure may be that since the author has already introduced Þórólfr in chapter IX, there calling him only lúsaskegg (lúsa- is gen. pf., lúsar- gen. sg.), it might have seemed odd to mention his other nickname here.
52. Sigurðr Eirfksson, Ástríðr's brother, had long been at the court of Vladimir (ON Valdamarr), son of Grand Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev. On the Kievan Rus generally see Noonan 1986 and references there.
53. The island Ösel in the Ballic (Estonian; Saaremaa).
54. The year of Óláfr's birth is usually reckoned to be 968 or 969. It is said that he was nine years old when he was ransomed by his uncle and brought to Hólmgarðr, and that he was another nine years at the court of King Vladimir (cf. Heimskringla 1232). This would then have been about the year 980.
55. Gautar, men of Gautland (modern Östergötland and Vastergötland) in southern Sweden.
56. There are dozens of stories of Óláfr's exploits between the time he left Hólmgarðr (c.986) and his triumphant return to Norway in 994 or 995. Many are unsupported but make interesting reading. Óláfr is mentioned enough in foreign sources, however, to indicate that he was quite busy during these years. It is probable íhat he fought at the Battle of Maldon in 991 and with Sveinn tjúguskegg at London in 994 (see the Anglo-Saxon Chronide (A, E, and F) for 993 and 994). The stories that he fought in Bornholm, lived in Wendland and plundered western Europe, however highly embellished, seem also to be based on fact; see Andersen 1977, 102-06 and references there. For summaries in English see Jones 1968b, 131-33; 1968a; Turville-Petre 1951, 133-35.
57. Jómsborg was supposed to be a town on the south Baltic coast inhabited by a group of mercenary Vikings known as the Jómsvíkingar. The principal source of information on them and their town is the early thirteenth-century Jómsvíkinga saga. For summaries of the debate surrounding Jómsborg and the saga's historicity see Ólafur Halldórsson's introduction to Jómsvíkinga saga 1969, esp. 28-51, or the introduction to Blake's edition (1962, especially vii-xv).
58. The Isles of Scilly (ON Syllingar), according to Snorri (Heimskringla I 266) and most of the other sources.
59. The text has here the loan word própheti (see note 12 above).
60. According to Snorri (Heimskringla 1267), Óláfr and his men were baptised then and there. A similar story is told in the 'Legendary Saga' (1982, 64) about Óláfr helgi, who is also said to have met a hermit in Britain. Both these stories may be based on the story of how Totila, Visigothic king of Italy, tested the powers of St Benedict of Nursia, which appears in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, a work early translated into Norse (see Turville-Petre 1953, 135-36).
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 994 Óláfr received baptism at Andover with King Æthelred acting as sponsor, and him þá Anelaf behet, and eac gelæste, þæt he næfre eft to Angelcynne mid unfriðe cuman nolde.
61. According to Icelandic sources (Njáls saga 256, Kristni saga 14, and Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta l 149), Þangbrandr was the son of a Saxon count named Vilbaldus. In most sources he is said to come from Bremen or Saxony. Theodoricus (15) calls him Theobrand and says that he is Flemish. Þangbrandr was the first foreign missionary to go to Iceland. He spent two or three winters there, making a few converts and many enemies, some of whom he slew (cf. Kristni saga 25-26; Íslendingabók 14). He returned to Norway in 998 or 999. Þormóðr is also mentioned in Kristni saga (38), Íslendingabók (15) and by Oddr Snorrason (1932, 91), but no source contains any information on his origins, although he is said to have accompanied Óláfr to Norway from England.
62. ilii ('the bad'), i. e. in contradistinction to Hákon góði.
63. His age in other sources varies from twenty-two to thirty-three, but Ágrip's assertion that he was twenty-seven is in keeping with the generally accepted chronology.
64. These claims are largely exaggerated. Certainly in the more accessible areas of western Norway and the Vík most people would have been at least nominally Christian, but those in the inland districts would still have been unbaptised and pagan.
Óláfr appears to have been very persuasive. He is known to have threatened people with mutilation or death if they refused baptism. But, as we have seen already, the conversion of Norway was a process that had begun before Óláfr's return and one far from complete at the time of his death. It is not really until the death of his namesake, Óláfr helgi, that one can safely speak of a Christian Norway.
The conversion of Iceland, although in many respects untypical, is the best documented, and can serve to indicate general trends. According to Ari fróði, Christianity was accepted at the Alþingi the same summer as – in fact two or three months before – Óláfr's death. Ari also states that Óláfr had been one of the initiators of the conver-sion, but it cannot be said that he was wholly responsible for it. On the conversion of Norway see Andersen 1977, for Iceland Strömbáck 1975 and Hastrup 1985, 179-89, and for Scandinavia generally Sawyer 1987.
65. This was Boleslaw 'the Brave', called Búrizláfr (or -leifr) in ON, who ruled Poland from 992 to 1025 and to whom Þyri Haraldsdóttir had in fact been wedded. Ágrip here agrees with Historia Norvegiæ (116-17). The story also appears, but in a slightly different form, in Heimskringla (I 273, 341-43), Oddr Snorrason (1932, 143-47), and Fagrskinna (146-47).
66. The word landamærí would normally mean 'boundary', 'border-land' or 'frontier', but must logically here refer to the coast – the coast obviously also marking the extremities of the country. Margaret Ashdown (1930, 213) points to the similar use of landgemyrce in Beowulf, 1. 209 (cf. Bosworth-Toller 1898, 618).
67. This was the Battle of Svölð(r), a favourite topic of skaldic poets and authors of Kings' Sagas. Its causes, and even its location, remain the subject of much debate (see Ellehøj 1958; or Andersen 1977, 104-05, for a summary and further references).
68. ON rúm, 'rooms, places': Viking ships were divided into rowing-places, one for each pair of oars. Ormr inn langi, 'the Long Serpent', was the most famous ship of the age and by all accounts one of the largest. Brøgger and Shetelig (1950, 96) state that it had places for thirty-four pairs of oars and give it an overall length of about fifty meters.
69. King Sveinn retained direct control of the Vík, the area in which Danish influence was always the greatest. King Óláfr of Sweden was given control of Ranríki in the south-east and four provinces in eastern Þrándheimr, most of which was effectively ruled by Sveinn Hákonarson as the king's vassal. Eiríkr Hákonarson ruled the western provinces of Þrándheimr and coastal provinces – in other words most of Norway – although it would be a mistake to underestimate Danish influence during this time (see Andersen 1977, 106-09).
70. 1008 was the traditional year for the death of King Sveinn, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (E) entry for 1014 informs us that Her on þissum geare Swegen geendode his dagas to candelmæssan .iii. N° Febr.
71. The traditional chronology takes 1012 as the year of Hákon's succession and there is no reason to doubt this; it is, however, unlikely that Eiríkr was in England before 1014. He ruled as earl in Northumbria from 1016 until his death in 1023.
72. This was Knútr inn ríki (Canute the Great) who by 1027 could in his letter to the English people title himself Rex totius Angliae et Denemarchiae et Norregiae et parties Swavorum (Andersen 1977, 129). He had first come to England with his father Sveinn tjúguskegg in 1013, and following Sveinn's death a year later increased his power in England until, with the death of Edmund Ironside on St Andrew's Day 1016, feng Cnut cyng to eall Engla landes rice (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (D, under 1017)). He ruled until his death on 12 November 1035.
73. This rather unpleasant-sounding cause of death is attested by other sources (Theodoricus 25, Fagrskinna 167, Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta II 317). Snorri (Heimskringla II 32) says he bled to death but omits any further detail.
74. The text as it stands seems to indicate that Óláfr was called grœnski, i. e. from Grenland in southern Norway. Óláfr was in fact known in the early part of his life as Óláfr digri, 'the stout', and the surname grœnski (or grenski) is otherwise associated with his father Haraldr. Modern editors have therefore supplied the word Haraldssunar.
75. With the exception of the statement 'much is said about the extent of Óláfr's travels' at the beginning of the next chapter, Ágrip in fact says nothing about Óláfr's viking years; these make up on the other hand the last pages of Hístoria Norvegiæ (119-24).
76. Most of what is said about Óláfr's travels can be found in the Víkingarvísur (the title is modern) of Sighvatr Þórðarson (Skjd. A I 223-28; B I 213-16; Fell 1981). For a summary in English of Óláfr's early years based on the literary sources see Turville-Petre 1951, 140-46. Óláfr returned to Norway in the autumn of 1015, then about twenty.
77. According to Snorri and the other sources Óláfr places his two ships on either side of the strait with a thick cable tied between them, which would explain the reciprocal form 'his ships pulled towards each other' (heimtusk samari); cf. the 'Legendary Saga' (1982, 68), where the wording is closest to that of Ágrip; also Fagrskinna (171), Heimskringla (II 36-37), the Separate Óláfs saga helga (62-64) and Theodoricus (27).
78. There is no evidence in support of Agrip's assertion that Hákon ruled in the Hebrides.
79. Óláfr's father, Haraldr grenski, had died shortly after Óláfr was born. After his death Óláfr's mother had married Sigurðr sýr Hálfdanarson, a king in Hringaríki, part of the area known as Upplönd, and it was there that Óláfr grew up.
80. Óláfr had been accepted as king only by the farmers of Upplönd and the Vík, but Þrándheimr, home of the jarls of Hlaðir, remained loyal to Sveinn.
Nesjar was not the first meeting of Óláfr and Sveinn; they had met previously at Niðaróss, but Óláfr had not been as successful in Sveinn's territory as he was to be the following spring in his own. For the events leading up to Nesjar see Johnsen 1916; or Turville-Petre 1951, 148-50 for a summary.
81. Einarr was arguably the most important chieftain of his age and played a prominent role in Norwegian politics for over 50 years. The meaning of his nickname, usually written þambarskelfir, is not entirely clear, but the possibilities are interesting enough to warrant mention here. Þambar is the genitive of pömb, a word meaning 'guts, belly', particularly with the notion of being blown up or extended, but which can also be used to mean 'gut-string', particularly bow-string. In view of Einarr's reputation as an archer (cf. Heimskringla II 27), some scholars have opted for this explanation (e. g. Lind 1920-21, 405-06). The second element, written variously skelmir or skelfir, probably means 'shaker' – although it could mean 'devíl' – but whether Einarr shook his belly or his bow-string is unresolved.
82. Garðar, literally 'cities' (i. e. walled strongholds), the old Scandinavian term for the Scandinavian settlements in Russia. On the term see Pritsak 1981, esp. 217-20.
83. Yaroslav, ON Jaritláfr (or Jarizláfr, -leifr), was the son of Vladimir (see note 52 above). He ruled in Kiev from his father's death in 1016 until his own in 1054. His wife Ingigerðr died in about 1050. For the story of her betrothal to Óláfr and events following see Heimskringla II 114-47.
84. Gunnhildr is called Úlfhildr in Heimskringla (II 327-28; III 41) and elsewhere, and this is likely to be more correct as she is called Wulfhild in German sources. Otto – Ótta in Heimskringla – was really Ordulf (1059-72), the son of Bernhard Billung, Duke of Saxony. In contrast to the male offspring, quite a lot is known of the names and fates of Úlfhildr's descendants at least, who seem to have made out reasonably well. Ordulf and Úlfhildr had a son, Magnus (1072-1106), whose daughter – he had no male offspring – married Duke Henry the Black of Saxony and Bavaria. Their son was Henry the Proud (d. 1139), father of Henry the Lion (d. 1195), father of Otto, Duke of Brunswick Luneburg (d. 1252), from whom are descended the Hanoverians.
85. This is also mentioned by Guillaume de Jumièges (1914, 81-82) and Adam of Bremen (1917, 112), and in Historia Norvegiæ (121-22), but not, for example, by Theodoricus or Snorri.
86. The battle between Óláfr and Erlingr was fought on 21 December 1028 near Tungunes in Jaðarr (modern Jæren).
87. According to Snorri (Heimskringla II 192) Áslákr and Erlingr were kinsmen.
88. Legally, níðingr was the strongest term of abuse and was during the pagan period justification for homicide. The term carried with it a sense of 'unmanliness' (if one takes manliness in the sense of 'all that may become a man'). hence its use here of a traitor; treason was unmanly (see S0rensen 1980, esp. 16-39; 1983, 14-32).
89. According to Theodoricus (31) and Snorri (Heimskringla II 335) Hákon Eiríksson drowned in the Pentland Firth (see Stenton 1971, 405).
Sveinn was Knútr's son by his English consort Ælfgyfu (ON Álfífa), daughter of Ælfhelm, Earl of Northumbria. This was 'the other Ælfgyfu', not Ælfgyfu, or Emma as she was more commonly called, Æthelred's widow, whom Knútr married in 1017. See Stenton 1971, 397, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle II 211.
90. Vinartoddi: vinar, more correctly vinjar, is the genitive of vin, 'meadow', a word occuring otherwise only in proper names, while toddi is a 'bit' or 'piece' (Fritzner 1886-96, III 949; 709), and the meaning of the whole is therefore 'a bit of the meadow', a part of the farmer's yearly produce paid as tax to the king.
91. Rygjartó: rygjar is from rygr, 'lady', and tó means 'unspun wool or flax' (Fritzner 1886-96, III 141; 709). These terms can also be found in medieval Norwegian law books such as the Frostaþingslög (NgL I 257-58). The close similarity between Ágrip and the texts of the laws themselves suggests that the author was either working from a legal text or was at least familiar with legal terminology (Ágrip 1984, xiii; Andersen 1977, 138).
92. In Norway the unit for the organisation of the levy or conscription was the hamla (pl. hömlur), this being the loop into which the oar was fitted, representing a single oarsman.
93. The text here has hérlenzkr ok útlenzkr, literally 'here-landish and out-landish'; Snorri, writing in Iceland, has in the corresponding passage in Heimskringla (II 400) þarlenzkrok útlenzkr, 'there-landish and out-landish'.
94. Cf. chapter LII below.
95. The traditional date for the Battle of Stiklastaðir (or in some sources Stiklarstaðir; modern Stiklestad) was 29 July 1030; see Andersen 1977, 132-33.
96. Haraldr, later called harðráði ('hard-ruler'), was Óláfr's half-brother, son of Sigurðr sýr ('sow') and Ásta Guðbrandsdóttir. Rögnvaldr Brúsason was jarl of Orkney (d. 1045). Björn digri was Óláfr's marshal.
97. Sighvatr Þórðarson was an Icelander who came to King Óláfr's court in about 1015. The verse cited here can also be found in the 'Legendary Saga' (1982, 208; see also Skjd. A I 274; B I 253).
98. This date, the only attempt at absolute chronology in Ágrip, derives from Theodoricus (42): occubuit autem beatus Olavus... anno ab incarnalione Domini millesimo vicesimo nono, ut nos certius indagare potuimus (i. e. 'as far as we can tell'). Bjarni Einarsson (Ágrip 1984, xxxvi) suggests that this was Theodoricus's attempt to reconcile the year 1028, found in Acta Sancti Olavi regis et martyris (131-32), and the year 1030, given by Ari fróði and all later Icelandic historians as well as by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (E). Interestingly, Theodoricus begins his next chapter with the observation Sciendum vero est, in libris nil adeo corruptum ut supputationen numerorum. It should also be noted that Ágrip's own (relative) chronology, reckoning from the fall of Óláfr helgi to the Battle of Stamford Bridge (nineteen days before Hastings), would have the Normans invade England in 1065 (see Ágrip 1984, lix).
99. If by this it is meant that Haraldr claimed the kingship immediately after Óláfr's death it is the only one of the sources to say so. If this is not what is meant, it is not clear what is.
100. Miracles attributed to Óláfr are said to have been reported within hours of his death at Stiklastaðir. Óláfr's body was exhumed – according to some sources it rose to the surface of its own accord – a year and five days after his death and was found to be uncorrupted (see the 'Legendary Saga' 1982, especially 220-36; also Turville-Petre 1951, 159-64; Jones 1968a).
101. What his contemporaries viewed as the 'harshness' of Magnús's first years of rule, a theme in the skaldic poetry of the time (e. g. Sighvatr's Bersöglisvísur and Arnórr Þórðarson's Hrynhenda), was probably his taking revenge on his father's former opponents and his continuation of the taxation policies instituted by Sveinn and Álfífa (Andersen 1977, 144).
102. This is one of nine strophes cited by Snorri (Heimskringla III 26-30), one of thirteen in the manuscript known as Hulda (fol. 4) and one of sixteen in Flateyjarbók (III 267-69). The poem as a whole is known as Bersöglisvísur (or -flokkur), 'the plain-speaking verses' (Skjd. A I 251-56; B I 234-39).
103. Hörða-Knútr, from Hörð in Jutland, was Knútr's son by Emma of Normandy, and therefore his only legitimate heir.
104. Some historians have denied the existence of this agreement, but the anonymous Chronicon Roskildense (SmhDmæ. 122), written c. 1140, agrees with Ágrip on this point (Andersen 1977, 161-62).
105. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (C) for the year 1042 reports:
Hér gefor Harðacnut swa þæt he æt his drince stód. Ond he færinga feoll to þære eorðan mid egeslicum anginne, ond hine gelæhton ðe þar neh wæron, ond he syððan nan word ne gecwæð. Ond he forðferde on vi ID IUN.
106. Sveinn is commonly known as Estridsson (Estrid being the Danish form of Ástríðr). Ástríðr/Estrid was the daughter of Sveinn tjúguskegg, and Knútr's half-sister and also the half-sister of King Óláfr the Swede. Sveinn grew up in Sweden and went to England probably in the year 1039. After Magnús's death Sveinn ruled Denmark until his own death in 1047.
107. According to Snorri (Heimskríngla III 56) the battle of Helganes was fought a full year after the Battle of Hlýrskógsheiðr. Sveinn and Magnús first met in the autumn of 1042, shortly after Magnús had been received as king. Their meeting at Gauteífr (modern Göta alv) was peaceful, ending with their pledges of friendship and allegiance. Sveinn was made jarl, to rule over Denmark as king's regent as his father Úlfr Þorgilsson had done before him.
108. Hlýrskógsheiðr (Lyrskovshede) lies in fact about 100 km to the south of Skotborgará (now Kongeå), to the northwest of Hedeby in Schleswig.
109. Haraldr came to Sweden in 1045 and to Norway the following year. Snorri's Haralds saga Sigurðarsonar (Heimskringla III 68-90) provides a fictionalised account of Haraldr's exploits after Stiklastaðir as a member of the famous Varangian guard in Constantinople. Sigfús Blöndal (1954, 108-68; 1978, 54-102) examines all the written sources pertaining to Haraldr.
110. Úlfr stalleri was an Icelander, the nephew of Guðrún OsvífrsdóttÍr of Laxdœla saga. According to Snorri (Heimskringla III 79) he had been with Haraldr in the Varangian guard, which only underlines the unlikelihoodof this story. Úlfr was King Haraldr's marshal, not Magnús's.
111. A less joyful meeting is described by Snorri (Heimskringla III 94-102).
112. Heikilnef is a hapax legomenon of uncertain meaning; Lind 1920-21, 140, suggests 'snippnäsa' (i. e. 'pointy-nosed'; cf. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon 1989, 314).
113. Magnús died on 25 October 1047.
114. This sentence bears a striking resemblance to the 39th verse of Nóregskonungatal (Flateyjarbók II 524), leading some to conclude that it derives from Sæmundr's lost book (Ellehøj 1965, 264; see Introduction p. xv).
115. Ragnhildr, who later married Hákon Ivarsson, the great-grandson of Hákon Sigurðarson.
116. Þóra, daughter of Þórbergr Árnason. His brother Finnr (Fiðr) was married to Bergljót Hálfdanardóttir, King Haraldr's niece. Kálfr Arnason, mentioned above (chapters XXVI and XXXI) was another of the brothers. Haraldr was already married to Ellisif (Elizabeth), the daughter of Jaroslav and Ingigerðr Óláfsdóttir and it is therefore more likely that Þóra was his mistress than his queen; it was their issue, however, Magnús and Óláfr, that became the more prominent. According to the text here, Finnr lived austr í Ranríki, 'east in Ranríki'. This is probably a mistake in the text, however, as according to Snorri (Heimskringla III 126) Finnr Árnason lived á Yrjum á Austrátt, i. e. on the farm Austrátt (modern Austrått) in the area Yrjar, a peninsula in the south-western part of Naumdælafylki (modern Namdalen) on the northern side of the mouth of the Trondheim Fjord. It is not difficult to imagine a copyist misreading an exemplar which read á Austrátt á Yrjum, particularly as austrátt can also mean 'easterly direction'.
117. Snorri bases their quarrel on more complicated yet equally personal grounds (see Heimskringla III 126-35).
118. Halland is in southwestern Sweden, but at this time was politically part of Denmark. Haraldr of Norway and Sveinn of Denmark met in battle at the mouth of the River Niz on 9 August 1062.
119. mœddr við eld: literally 'exhausted with fire'. This story is not found in Heimskringla.
120. Tostig (ON Tósti) was Harold's younger brother. He had been made Earl of Northumbria in 1055, but was expelled from England along with his family and retainers following a revolt in Northumbria for which it seems he was partially to blame (Stenton 1971, 578-79).
121. Sjaldan fór svá, þá er vel vildi. Theodoricus has Raro ... tale signum portendit victoriam (57). Snorri (Heimskringla III 186) also relates the incident, but has the king more optimistically say Fall er fararheill, 'a fall is a good omen for a journey'. In Sverris saga (1920, 35) Jarl Erlingr says: Eigi fór þá svá er vel vildi.
122. Óláfr Haraldsson is called bóndi (older form búandi), 'farmer', in Ágrip and a few other sources (e. g. Heimskringla III 208), but is more commonly known as Óláfr kyrri, 'the quiet' or 'the peaceful' (see Lind 1920-21, 36; 231).
123. Elgjusetr (modern Elgeseter, near Trondheim) was an Augustinian monastery founded probably by Archbishop Eysteinn Erlendsson in about 1170.
124. This was to become the great cathedral of Kristskirkja (modern Kristkirken), though it was certainly not completed during Óláfr's lifetime (see Heimskringla III 204).
125. Miklagildi: 'the Great Guild'; each guild had a patron saint and the guildsmen would meet on the saint's feast day (see Blom 1960). St Óláfr was the patron saint of Miklagildi; his feast day was 29 July, the day of the Battle of Stiklastaðir (see Heimskringla III 204-05).
126. This half-strophe is found also in Heimskringla in the last chapter of Snorri's Haraids saga Sigurðarsonar (Heimskringla III 202) and in Morkinskinna (292). Its author is unknown.
127. Only Ágrip calls him berleggr, 'bare-leg'; in Heimskringla and all other sources he is known as Magnús berfœttr or berbeinn, the meaning of which is the same (Lind 1920-21,21). Snorri explains that Magnús was called by this name because after returning from 'west viking' he and his men dressed 'as was the custom in the western lands [i. e. the British Isles ]' and describes what are clearly meant to be kilts. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (Heimskríngía III 229) points out that nowhere in Snorri's source material is Magnús's nickname explained; it is not known whether kilt-wearing was in fact a custom in Ireland in Magnús's day, and it is not unlikely that Snorri's explanation is merely the one that seemed most likely to him. Cf. also Ágrip, chapter LI: 'he wore gaiters (stighosur), as was his custom.' For an alternative explanation of his nickname see Saxo Grammaticus 1931, 342.
128. Skúlagarðr was the old kings' residence, named after the English Skúli, foster-father of Óláfr kyrri (see Heimskringla III 197).
129. Klémetskirkja (Klemenskirken) is the oldest church in Trondheim, built by Óláfr Tryggvason.
130. Hefring (Høvringen); a headland to the west of Trondheim.
131. Dofrafjall (Dovrefjell) according to Snorri (Heimskríngla III 212).
132. Sveinn was a Dane according to Snorri (Heimskringla III 213).
133. Vagnvíkastrqnd (now Leksvikstrand) is immediately across the fjord from Trondheim.
134. According to Snorri (Heimskringla III 213), Þórir was gamall maðr ok þungfœrr ('an old man and slow-going'), and, in his own words, as Snorri reports them (III 216), heill at höndum, en hrumr at fótum, 'hale of hand but feeble of foot' (also in Fagrskinna 304).
135. This verse also appears in the other major vernacular Kings' Sagas, Heimskringla (III 216), Morkinskinna (304), and Fagrskinna (305); see also Skjd. A I 434, B I 403. Perkins (1987) relates it to Old Norse rowing chants and children's verses.
136. Snorri (Heimskringla III 217) says of this statement that í því sýndisk, at konungr vildi hafa verít beðinn, at Egill hefði lifat ('from this it was evident that the king had wanted to be asked to spare Egill's life'). Little is known of Egill's family – in Heimskringla he is called Ásláksson, Áskelsson here – but his wife Ingibjörg's family was among the most prominent in Norway and Magnús might have expected them to come forward on Egill's behalf. This would account for the references to Egill's wife and her family here. But by 'kin' (frændr) Magnús could also be referring to himself: his grandmother Þóra Þorbergsdóttir was Ögmundr's sister, aunt of Egill's wife Ingibjörg.
137. Skutilsveinn was a title of honour derived from the ON skutill, 'a plate or small table' (from OE scutel, Lat. scutella). Those with this title were involved with the everyday running of the king's household (see Hamre 1971).
138. Ingi Steinkelsson, who ruled Sweden c.1080-1110.
139. Ágrip is the only testimony to this Norwegian victory. According to Theodoricus (61-62) there were two separate attacks, the second of which ended in defeat for Magnús, while in Heímskringla (III 225-29), Fagrskinna (310-11) and Morkinskinna (323-30) Magnús is defeated in both. All sources do agree with Ágrip that Magnús got both Margrét (referred to as friðkolla, 'peace-girl') and the lands in question.
140. These figures, and those mentioned in the previous sentence, were all prominent in eleventh-century Norwegian politics.
141. St Magnús of Orkney (d. 1116).
142. Hugi digrí ('the stout') was Hugh, son of Richard, Viscount of Avranches, whom King William made Earl of Chester in 1101. This account is found also in Theodoricus (62), but according to Snorri (Heimskringla III 222), Morkinskinna (319) and other sources it was another earl, Hugi prúði ('the magnificent') – Hugh of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury – whom Magnús killed. See A. Bugge 1914, 38-40;Charles 1934, 116-22.
143. Irish annals indicate that Magnús was in Ireland by 1102, when he conquered Dublin and made a pact with Muirchertach (ON Mýrjartak, or in some sources Mýrkjartan) Úa Briain (1086-1119), King of Munster, arranging for the marriage of his son Sigurðr (then either nine or twelve depending on the source) and Muirchertach's daughter, said to have been five years old at the time. Magnús spent the winter on Man, and the following summer joined with Muirchertach in an attack on Domnall Úa Lochlainn, a king in Ulster. They were badly defeated in battle on 5 August, and according to Snorri (Heimskringla III 234-37) were awaiting supplies from Muirchertach in order to return to Norway when they were attacked by a large army of Irishmen. Irish annals relate that Magnús was killed by Ulstermen while raiding there, in County Down, in 1103. See A. Bugge 1914, 30-49; Ó Corráin 1972, 142-50.
144. Morkinskinna (334) follows Ágrip in this, but in Heimskringla (III 234) Magnús is said to have died on Bartholomew's Day itself (24 August).
145. Called Eyvindr ölbogi, 'elbow', in Heimskringla (III 233) and there said to be the king's marshal (stallari).
146. In Heimskringla (III 224) Mýrjartak is said to be the son of King Þjálbi rather than Kondjálfi, which may be a scribal error, i. e. konungs Þjálbasonar for Kondjátfasonar. He was in fact Muirchertach, son of Toirdelbach Úa Briain, grandson of Brian Bóroimhe. His daughter Biadmuin married Magnús's son Sigurðr in 1102. Magnús set Sigurðr over Man, but he ruled it possibly less than a year before his father's death brought him back to Norway. In Fagrskinna (315) it is said that Sigurðr left her fyrir vestan haf ... ok vildi þá ekki eiga hana, 'in the west ... and did not want to be married to her' (cf. Morkinskinna 337).
147. Cf. chapter XXIX. Snorri does not mention that the brothers abolished these laws till after his account of Sigurðr's return from Jerusalem (Heimskringla III 256).
148. Both Scandinavian and foreign sources indicate that Sigurðr left Norway in the autumn of 1107, spent that winter in England and arrived in Palestine in August 1109. See Runciman 1951-54, II 92-93, on how Sigurðr helped the Franks besiege Sidon.
149. Við landsenda: this was at Konungahella, on the northern side of the Göta álv. The church was called Krosskirkja.
150. An army of heathen Wends attacked Konungahella in 1135. The Annales regii or Konungsannáll (Storm 1888, 113) for that year notes succinctly: Undr í Konungahellu, 'miracle at Konungahella'; cf. Heimskringla III 288-96.
151. There is a leaf missing from the manuscript at this point, but the text of Morkinskinna (352-53) gives a fair idea of what followed.
152. The text that preceded these lines can be reconstructed from chapter XXIV of Magnússona saga in Heimskringla (III 263-64). Sigurðr Jórsalafari and the Danish king Níkolás had agreed to meet in Eyrarsund (Øresund), their intention being to Christianise the people of Smálönd (Smáland). The Danes arrived first and, growing tired of waiting, decided to return home. This angered Sigurðr, who in retaliation decided to raid Danish possessions in the area, taking the town Tumaþorp (modern Östra Tommarp). They then went on into Sweden and plundered the market town Kalmarnar (Kalmar) and other parts of Smálönd.
153. There was an eclipse of the sun, total in the vicinity of Þrándheimr, on 11 August 1124.
154. Óhœgyndi, 'discomfort'; Sigurðr was subject to fits of madness, called by Snorri staðleysi, 'restlessness', or perhaps 'instability, lack of self-control', an example of which he provides in Magnússona saga (Heiwskringia III 262).
155. Magnús was born in 1115, Sigurðr's son by Borghildr Óláfsdóttir (Heimskringla III 257-58).
156. From Irish gille-Críst, 'servant of Christ'. Haraldr is more commonly referred to as gilli, On Haraldr and the events following his arrival in Norway see Helle 1974, 24-27.
157. In other words he offered to submit to ordeal. Ordeal was often resorted to in cases such as this where proof could be offered in no other way. The most common form of ordeal was járnburðr, which involved carrying red-hot iron, but walking over iron was not unknown. The ordeal normally took place on a Wednesday; the hands and feet were immediately bandaged and inspected on the following Saturday. If the wound was clean the man was innocent of the crime of which he had been accused or the truth of his assertion was granted. If not the man was judged guilty or accounted a liar. The ordeal was unknown in Norway before Christian times and seems to have been introduced from England by missionaries. Ordeals were always conducted under the auspices of the church. The practice was banned in 1247 (see Hamre 1960).
158. Sæheimr is probably the place now called Jarlsberg in Vestfold. (It is clearly a different place from the Sæheimr mentioned in ch. VI, which was in Norðhörðaland.)
159. There is a lacuna here of four leaves, the contents of which have been much discussed. It is unlikely that it contained anything not found in Snorri's Magnúss saga blinda ok Haralds gilla (Heimskringla III 278-302). Ágrip resumes at about the same point as Snorri begins chapter XXI of his Haraldssona saga (Heimskringla III 330). This was the beginning of a period of unrest that lasted until the rise to power of King Sverrir (see Helle 1974, 20-47; Gathorne-Hardy 1956).
160. Ingi, Sigurðr and Eysteinn were the three eldest sons (by three different women) of Haraldr gilli.
161. In the manuscript there is a space at the beginning of the list of names, before ok Ömundí, where a word of about nine letters has been erased. Snorri lists the same men in the same order, but names first one Sáða-Gyrðr (which Storm claimed to be able to make out here). Sáða-Gyrðr Bárðarson (not the Gyrðr mentioned later in this chapter) was the fostér-father of Sigurðr Haraldsson.
Erlingr skakki was so called because he held his head at an angle as the result of a battle-wound. He and Ögmundr jengir were in fact half-brothers. In Morkinskinna and Heimskringla the comment that Ögmundr was 'the one who achieved by far the greater honour while they both lived' is put the other way round, i. e. that lítils þótti vert um Erling, meðan Ögmundr lifði, 'little was thought of Erlingr while Ögmundr lived' (Heimskríngla III 330; cf. Morkinskinna 445). Erlingr later married the daughter of Sigurðr Jórsalafari and became the effective ruler of Norway after twenty years of chaos during which the sons of Haraldr gilli had fought among themselves. He was eventually slain by Sverrir Sigurðarson in 1179.
162. According to Saxo Grammaticus (1931, 446-47), Ingi had been dropped by his nurse in infancy and was crippled as a result:
Sed infantiæ suæ tempore per incuriam nutricis forte sinu delapsus, ita humo inflictus est, ut, confracto dorso, reliquum vitæ tempus gibbo oneratus exigeret. In quo quidem homine excellentis animi venustatem corporis deformitate affecti ludibrio fœdatam putares neque discernere queas, maius fortunæ beneficium receperit an opprobrium senserit.'
163. This story is absent from Heimskringla and Fagrskinna but appears in Morkinskmna (448-53). The text of the story in Morkinskinna is on the whole fuller and would appear to be more original than that preserved here (Ágrip 1984, xliii-xliv). The episode centers around Gregóríús Dagsson, who has not yet been introduced into the story as it is preserved in Ágrip although his name was mentioned in chapter L. Gregóríús was the son of Dagr Eilífsson, who is said in the story to be married to Ragnhildr, the sister of Gyða. After killing Gersteinn, Gyrðr flees, seeking shelter with Gregóríús, who protects him from Gersteinn's sons, when they come seeking revenge, and kills them both. For this Gregóríús incurs the wrath of King Sigurðr munnr, which leads ultimately to his becoming King Ingi's counsellor and general.