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Of Eirik Blood-axe's five years' reign Snorre has no separate saga. He appears not to have been beloved by the people and his queen Gunhild seems to have had a bad influence on him.
Other accounts of Hakon may be found in "Fagrskinna" (chaps. 25-34), "Agrip", "Historia", "Norvegiae", and in "Thjodrek" (chap. 4).
The reader is also referred to "Saxo", "Egla", "Laxdaela", "Kormaks Saga", "Gisle Surssons Saga", "Halfred's Saga", "Floamanna Saga", "Viga Glum's Saga", and to "Landnamabok".
Skald mentioned in this Saga are: -- Glum Geirason, Thord Sjarekson, Guthorm Sindre, Kormak Ogmundson, and Eyvind Skaldaspiller. In the "Egla" are found many poems belonging to this epoch by Egil Skallagrimson.
In "Fagrskinna" is found a poem (not given by Snorre) which Gunhild (his wife) had made on King Eirik after his death, telling how Odin welcomed him to Valhal. The author or skald who composed it is not known, but it is considered to be one of the gems of old Norse poetry, and we here quote it in Vigfusson's translation in his "Corpus Poeticum", vol. i. pp. 260, 261. Gudbrand Vigfusson has filled up a few gaps from "Hakonarmat", the poem at the end of this Saga. We have changed Vigfusson's orthography of names, and brought them into harmony with the spelling used in this work: -- Ed.
"Odin wakes in the morning and cries, as he opens his eyes, with his dream still fresh in his mind: -- `What dreams are these? I thought I arose before daybreak to make Valhal ready for a host of slain. I woke up the host of the chosen. I bade them ride up to strew the benches, and to till up the beer-vats, and I bade valkyries to bear the wine, as if a king were coming. I look for the coming of some noble chiefs from the earth, wherefore my heart is glad.'
"Brage, Odin's counsellor, now wakes, as a great din is heard without, and calls out: -- `What is that thundering? as if a thousand men or some great host were tramping on -- the walls and the benches are creaking withal -- as if Balder was coming back to the ball of Odin?'
"Odin answers: -- `Surely thou speakest foolishly, good Brage, although thou art very wise. It thunders for Eirik the king, that is coming to the hall of Odin.'
"Then turning to his heroes, he cries: -- `Sigmund and Sinfjotle, rise in haste and go forth to meet the prince! Bid him in if it be Eirik, for it is he whom I look for.'
"Sigmund answers: -- `Why lookest thou more for Eirik, the king, to Odin's hall, than for other kings?'
"Odin answers: -- `Because he has reddened his brand, and borne his bloody sword in many a land.'
"Quoth Sigmund: -- `Why didst thou rob him, the chosen king of victory then, seeing thou thoughtest him so brave?'
"Odin answered: -- `Because it is not surely to be known, when the grey wolf shall come upon the seat of the god.'
SECOND SCENE. -- Without Valhal. Sigmund and Sinfjotle go outside the hall and meet Eirik.
"Quoth Sigmund: -- `Hail to thee, Eirik, be welcome here, and come into the hall, thou gallant king! Now I will ask thee, what kings are these that follow thee from the clash of the sword edges?'
"Eirik answers: -- `They are five kings; I will tell thee all their names; I myself am the sixth (the names followed in the song, whereof the rest is lost.)
"Fagrskinna" says "Hakonarmal" was the model of this poem.
1. HAKON CHOSEN KING.
Hakon, Athelstan's foster-son, was in England at the time (A.D. 934) he heard of his father King Harald's death, and he immediately made himself ready to depart. King Athelstan gave him men, and a choice of good ships, and fitted him out for his journey most excellently. In harvest time he came to Norway, where he heard of the death of his brothers, and that King Eirik was then in Viken. Then Hakon sailed northwards to Throndhjem, where he went to Sigurd earl of Hlader who was the ablest man in Norway. He gave Hakon a good reception; and they made a league with each other, by which Hakon promised great power to Sigurd if he was made king. They assembled then a numerous Thing, and Sigurd the earl recommended Hakon's cause to the Thing, and proposed him to the bondes as king. Then Hakon himself stood up and spoke; and the people said to each other, two and two, as they heard him, "Herald Harfager is come again, grown and young."
The beginning of Hakon's speech was, that he offered himself to the bondes as king, and desired from them the title of king, and aid and forces to defend the kingdom. He promised, on the other hand, to make all the bondes udal-holders, and give every man udal rights to the land he lived on. This speech met such joyful applause, that the whole public cried and shouted that they would take him to be king. And so it was that the Throndhjem people took Hakon, who was then fifteen years old, for king; and he took a court or bodyguard, and servants, and proceeded through the country. The news reached the Uplands that the people in Throndhjem had taken to themselves a king, who in every respect was like King Harald Harfager, -- with the difference, that Harald had made all the people of the land vassals, and unfree; but this Hakon wished well to every man, and offered the bondes to give them their udal rights again, which Harald had taken from them. All were rejoiced at this news, and it passed from mouth to mouth, -- it flew, like fire in dry grass, through the whole land, and eastward to the land's end. Many bondes came from the Uplands to meet King Hakon. Some sent messengers, some tokens; and all to the same effect -- that his men they would be: and the king received all thankfully.
2. KING HAKON'S PROGRESS THROUGH THE COUNTRY.
Early in winter (935), the king went to the Uplands, and summoned the people to a Thing; and there streamed all to him who could come. He was proclaimed king at every Thing; and then he proceeded eastward to Viken, where his brother's sons, Trygve and Gudrod, and many others, came unto him, and complained of the sorrow and evil his brother Eirik had wrought. The hatred to King Eirik grew more and more, the more liking all men took to King Hakon; and they got more boldness to say what they thought. King Hakon gave Trygve and Gudrod the title of kings, and the dominions which King Harald had bestowed on their fathers. Trygve got Ranrike and Vingulmark, and Gudrod, Vestfold; but as they were young, and in the years of childhood, he appointed able men to rule the land for them. He gave them the country on the same conditions as it had been given before, -- that they should have half of the scat and revenues with him. Towards spring King Hakon returned north, over the Uplands, to Throndhjem.
3. EIRIK'S DEPARTURE FROM THE COUNTRY.
King Hakon, early in spring, collected a great army at Throndhjem, and fitted out ships. The people of Viken also had a great force on foot, and intended to join Hakon. King Eirik also levied people in the middle of the country; but it went badly with him to gather people, for the leading men left him, and went over to Hakon. As he saw himself not nearly strong enough to oppose Hakon, he sailed (A.D. 935) out to the West sea with such men as would follow him. He first sailed to Orkney, and took many people with him from that country; and then went south towards England, plundering in Scotland, and in the north parts of England, wherever he could land. Athelstan, the king of England, sent a message to Eirik, offering him dominions under him in England; saying that King Harald his father was a good friend of King Athelstan, and therefore he would do kindly towards his sons. Messengers passed between the two kings; and it came to an agreement that King Eirik should take Northumberland as a fief from King Athelstan, and which land he should defend against the Danes or other vikings. Eirik should let himself be baptized, together with his wife and children, and all the people who had followed him. Eirik accepted this offer, and was baptized, and adopted the right faith. Northumberland is called a fifth part of England. Eirik had his residence at York, where Lodbrok's sons, it was said, had formerly been, and Northumberland was principally inhabited by Northmen. Since Lodbrok's sons had taken the country, Danes and Northmen often plundered there, when the power of the land was out of their hands. Many names of places in the country are Norwegian; as Grimsby, Haukfliot, and many others.
4. EIRIK'S DEATH.
King Eirik had many people about him, for he kept many Northmen who had come with him from the East; and also many of his friends had joined him from Norway. But as he had little land, he went on a cruise every summer, and plundered in Scotland, the Hebrides, Ireland, and Bretland, by which he gathered property. King Athelstan died on a sick bed, after a reign of fourteen years, eight weeds, and three days. After him his brother Jatmund was king of England, and he was no friend to the Northmen. King Eirik, also, was in no great favour with him; and the word went about that King Jatmund would set another chief over Northumberland. Now when King Eirik heard this, he set off on a viking cruise to the westward; and from the Orkneys took with him the Earls Arnkel and Erlend, the sons of Earl Torfeinar. Then he sailed to the Hebrides, where there were many vikings and troop-kings, who joined their men to his. With all this force he steered to Ireland first, where he took with him all the men he could, and then to Bretland, and plundered; and sailed thereafter south to England, and marauded there as elsewhere. The people fled before him wherever he appeared. As King Eirik was a bold warrior, and had a great force, he trusted so much to his people that he penetrated far inland in the country, following and plundering the fugitives. King Jatmund had set a king, who was called Olaf, to defend the land; and he gathered an innumerable mass of people, with whom he marched against King Eirik. A dreadfu1 battle ensued, in which many Englishmen fell; but for one who fell came three in his place out of the country behind, and when evening came on the loss of men turned on the side of the Northmen, and many people fell. Towards the end of the day, King Eirik and five kings with him fell. Three of them were Guthorm and his two sons, Ivar and Harek: there fell, also, Sigurd and Ragnvald; and with them Torfeinar's two sons, Arnkel and Erlend. Besides these, there was a great slaughter of Northmen; and those who escaped went to Northumberland, and brought the news to Gunhild and her sons (A.D. 941).
5. GUNHILD AND HER SONS.
When Gunhild and her sons knew for certain that King Eirik had fallen, after having plundered the land of the King of England, they thought there was no peace to be expected for them; and they made themselves ready to depart from Northumberland, with all the ships King Eirik had left, and all the men who would go with them. They took also all the loose property, and goods which they had gathered partly as taxes in England, partly as booty on their expeditions. With their army they first steered northward to Orkney, where Thorfin Hausakljufer was earl, a son of Torfeinar, and took up their station there for a time. Eirik's sons subdued these islands and Hjaltland, took scat for themselves, and staid there all the winter; but went on viking cruises in summer to the West, and plundered in Scotland and Ireland. About this Glum Geirason sings: --
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The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway -by- Snorri Sturlson