মুখ্য Delphi Collected Norse Sagas (Illustrated) (Delphi Series Nine Book 5)

Delphi Collected Norse Sagas (Illustrated) (Delphi Series Nine Book 5)

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এই বইটি আপনার কতটা পছন্দ?
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মান নির্ণয়ের জন্য বইটি ডাউনলোড করুন
ডাউনলোড করা ফাইলগুলির মান কিরকম?
Norse sagas concern tales of ancient Nordic and Germanic history, detailing early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during these voyages, exotic adventures in foreign lands and the migration to Iceland. These prose sagas were written in the Old Norse language, sharing similarities with epic poetry, telling of heroic deeds of days long gone. The tales offer an endless panorama of pagan chieftains, Viking warriors, historic saints, noble bishops and ordinary men and women, facing human dilemmas that troubled the ancient Scandinavian world. This eBook presents a comprehensive collection of Norse Sagas, with numerous illustrations, rare texts appearing in digital print for the first time, informative introductions and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)

* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to the sagas
* Concise introductions to the ancient texts
* A generous selection of sagas from four categories: Kings’ Sagas; Sagas of Icelanders; Legendary Sagas; Bishops’ Sagas
* Features many rare sagas appearing in English for the first time in digital publishing, including the Kings’ Saga ‘Sverris saga’
* Includes Frederick York’s rare translations of Bishops’ Sagas
* Images of how the sagas were first printed, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Includes seven bonus collections of Norse Sagas
* Special criticism section, with Conrad Hjalmar Nordby’s book evaluating the influence of Old Norse literature on English literature
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and genres
ক্যাটাগোরিগুলো:
সাল:
2018
প্রকাশক:
Delphi Classics
ভাষা:
english
পৃষ্ঠা:
7417
বইয়ের সিরিজ:
Delphi Series Nine Book
ফাইল:
EPUB, 18.21 MB
ডাউনলোড (epub, 18.21 MB)

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আপনি একটি বুক রিভিউ লিখতে পারেন এবং আপনার অভিজ্ঞতা শেয়ার করতে পারেন. অন্যান্য পাঠকরা আপনার পড়া বইগুলির বিষয়ে আপনার মতামত সম্পর্কে সর্বদা আগ্রহী হবে. বইটি আপনার পছন্দ হোক বা না হোক, আপনি যদি নিজের সৎ ও বিস্তারিত চিন্তাভাবনা ব্যক্ত করেন তাহলে অন্যরা তাদের জন্য উপযুক্ত নতুন বইগুলি খুঁজে পাবে.
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Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave

সাল:
2018
ভাষা:
english
ফাইল:
EPUB, 86.99 MB
5.0 / 5.0
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Os Guerreiros

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1960
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portuguese
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EPUB, 310 KB
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The Delphi Collected

NORSE SAGAS

(9th to 13th century)



Contents

Kings’ Sagas

Sverris saga

Heimskringla

The Saga of Haakon Haakonarson

Sagas of Icelanders

The Story of the Banded Men

Egil’s saga

The Saga of Erik the Red

The Saga of the Ere-Dwellers

Færeyinga saga

Gísla saga

Grettis saga

The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-Tongue and Rafn the Skald

The Saga of Howard the Halt

The Saga of the Heath Slayings

The Saga of Hrafnkell, Frey’s Priest

The Saga of Hen-Thorir

The Saga of Cormac the Skald

Laurentius saga

Laxdæla saga

Njáls saga

The Saga of Viga-Glum

The Saga of Viglund the Fair

Legendary Sagas

Fridthjof’s saga

The Saga of Hervör and Heidrek

Volsunga saga

The Saga of Dietrich of Bern

The Saga of Thorstein, Viking’s Son

The Story of Norna-Gest

The Tháttur of Sörli

Bishops’ Sagas

Hunger-waker

Saga of Saint Thorlak

Saga of Bishop Paul

Saga of John of Holar

Collections of Norse Sagas

The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths by Padraic Colum

In the Days of Giants: A Book of Norse Tales by Abbie Farwell Brown

The Heroes of Asgard: Tales from Scandinavian Mythology by Keary and Keary

Legends of Norseland by Mara L. Pratt-Chadwick and A. Chase

Stories and Ballads of the Far Past, by Nora Kershaw

Told by the Northmen: Stories from the Eddas and Sagas by E. M. Wilmot-Buxton

Viking Tales by Jennie Hall

The Criticism

The Influence of Old Norse Literature on English Literature, by Conrad Hjalmar Nordby

The Delphi Classics Catalogue



© Delphi Classics 2018

Version 1





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The Delphi Collected

NORSE SAGAS



By Delphi Classics, 2018





COPYRIGHT


Collected Norse Sagas



First published in the United Kingdom in 2018 by Delphi Classics.

© Delphi Classics, 2018.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior pe; rmission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.

ISBN: 978 1 78656 101 5

Delphi Classics

is an imprint of

Delphi Publishing Ltd

Hastings, East Sussex

United Kingdom

Contact: sales@delphiclassics.com



www.delphiclassics.com





Kings’ Sagas





Skipanes on Eysturoy, Faroe Islands — according to the Sverris saga, Sverre was born in 1151 to Gunnhild and her husband Unås, a comb maker from the Faroes.





Sverris saga




Translated by John Sephton, 1890

The Kings’ sagas (Kongesagaer) tell of the lives of legendary and mythological Nordic kings. They were composed during the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries in Iceland and Norway. One of these texts is the Sverris saga, concerning the life of King Sverre Sigurdsson of Norway (1177–1202) and it is the main source for this period of Norwegian history. The saga was initially begun in 1185 under the king’s direct supervision, though it is not known when it was finished, but presumably it was well known when Snorri Sturluson began writing his Heimskringla in the 1220’s, as Snorri ends his account where the Sverris saga begins. Therefore, the saga is contemporary or near-contemporary with the events it describes. Though the saga is clearly written by an author sympathetic to Sverre’s cause, the strict demands of the genre ensure some degree of impartiality.

The first distinct part of the saga is called Grýla and concerns events until the aftermath of Sverre’s first major victory at the Battle of Kalvskinnet outside Nidaros in 1179. Central to this part is Sverre’s claim to be the son of King Sigurd Munn and his struggle against his rival claimant Magnus Erlingsson. Grýla is written in a unique style that seems to be inspired by the long medieval tradition of hagiography. The style and focus of Sverris saga is very unlike that of the earlier Norwegian synoptics. Instead of narrowly focusing on the king and major events of state, the saga is a detailed biography, particularly in its description of battles, while featuring a large cast of characters, elaborate scenes and dialogue.





A page from one of the preserved manuscripts of the saga, AM 81 a fol.





Trondheim, Norway — the Battle of Kalvskinnet occurred in 1179 on Kalvskinnet, an area west of Nidarosdomen in what is today the centre of Trondheim.





CONTENTS


PROLOGUE.

THE SAGA OF KING SVERRI





Head of Sverre Sigurdsson from the octagon in Nidarosdomen, c. 1200





Coin of Sverre, Middelalderen. Christiania, 1865





PROLOGUE.




HERE WE BEGIN to speak of events which happened a while ago, within the memory of the men who related them for this book; to speak, that is, of King Sverri, son of King Sigurd Haraldsson. The beginning of the book is written according to the one that Abbot Karl Jonsson first wrote when King Sverri himself sat over him and settled what he should write. The story has not come far [from its source]. It tells of certain of his battles, and as the book advances, his strength grows, foreshadowing the greater events. They therefore called this part of the book Gryla, that is, bugbear. The latter part of the book is written according to the relation of those who remembered what happened, having actually seen or heard it, and some of them had been with King Sverri in battles. Some of these stories were fixed in memory, having been written down directly the events occurred, and they have not been altered since. Possibly, if this book is seen by those who have full knowledge of the events, they may think many matters passed over hastily, and many left untold which they regard as worthy of mention; they may well cause these to be written down if they wish. And though, in telling of battles against large numbers, some things are here said to have occurred otherwise than seems most probable, let all know of a certainty that nothing has been added. To us it seems probable that the stories are true which are told in books concerning famous men who lived in old times.





THE SAGA OF KING SVERRI


Sverri’s birth, and early life in the Faereys.



BISHOP HROI WAS at that time in the Færeys. He had a brother called Unas Kambari, who married a Norse wife named Gunnhild late in the reign of the brothers Ingi, Sigurd, and Eystein, the sons of Harald Gilli. Before long, Gunnhild had a son, who was called Sverri, and was said to be the son of Unas. His coming into the world was heralded by remarkable dreams, such as ever precede remarkable events. His mother Gunnhild told of a dream that came to her before he was born. She dreamt that she was in a goodly upper room, and about to give birth to her child, and her maid was seated at her knees ready to receive the child at its birth. After the birth a great terror seized the maid, and she cried aloud saying, “Gunnhild, my Gunnhild! you have brought forth a wonderful and awful birth.” Three times she cried out, using the same words. And when Gunnhild heard the maid utter the same cry so often with trembling voice, she inquired what it was that was born; and it seemed in her dream to be a stone, very large, white as snow to the sight; and it glowed fiercely, so that it emitted sparks in all directions like iron at a white heat in the fierce blast of a forge. And she said to her maid, “We must have a watchful care of this birth and let no one know aught of it, for all who see it will think it a strange sight.” So, in her dream, they took the stone and set it in a large chair and hid it under a fair covering. But cover it as they would, sparks continued to issue from it which flew in all directions through the covering to every part of the room, and they were greatly affrighted at the awful issue from the stone. Then Gunnhild awoke.

Unas and Gunnhild had a son named Hidi; a daughter, who was married to Svina-Stefan, and had a son named Petr Steypi; and also several other daughters.

When Sverri was five years old he sailed from Norway to the Færeys, and was there brought up as the foster-son of Bishop Hroi. The Bishop put him to books, and admitted him to Holy Orders, and he was ordained priest. But when he reached a ripe age he did not shape himself to the priesthood, and was rather unruly. He had a quarrel with Bryniolf, son of Kalf Sendiman, who was then King’s bailiff in the islands. Sverri had struck a man, and Bryniolf, with a large company, went to seize him, but he escaped. Yet they pressed him so closely that he ran into a stove-room to conceal himself. A woman hid him in the oven, and set a flat stone before the oven’s mouth; then she lighted a fire outside. His pursuers sought him in the room, but did not find him. And afterwards, when people saw what he became, they thought there had been many signs pointing to supernatural power in him.

Sverri’s dream.

2. Sverri had remarkable dreams, which some men regarded as nonsense and made sport of. He told of one in which he dreamt that he was in Norway, and was become a bird, so large that its beak reached the boundaries of the land in the east, and the feathers of its tail as far north as the dwellings of the Finns, while its wings covered the whole country. He told this dream to a wise man named Einar, and inquired what he thought it might portend. Einar answered that the dream was dark to him, but that it probably pointed to power of some kind. “Possibly,” said he, “you may become Archbishop.”

“It seems to me very unlikely that I shall become Archbishop,” replied Sverri, “when I am not well suited to be priest.” Sverri was twenty-four years of age before he was told who was his real father, and he remained one year longer in the Færeys before he proceeded to Norway.

King Magnus of Norway and his father Earl Erling.

3. At that time King Magnus and Earl Erling were strong in the support of mighty men and of all the commons. The King was beloved and popular; the Earl was powerful and wise, energetic and blest with victory, and held all rule over the land. There were many, great and small, who wished him ill, especially in the communities of the Thronds north of the land. But Archbishop Eystein, who controlled all the north, was a very dear friend of King Magnus, and secured to him its whole strength.

King Magnus had all the greatest men in the land on his side; some of them served in his bodyguard, and others held royal grants; while the commons, with one consent, agreed to exalt him and maintain him in the kingdom. His ancestry was the greatest advantage to him; for all the people of the land loved him because of it, preferring rather to serve a descendant of Sigurd Jorsala-fari than one of Harald Gilli.

Sverri learns that he is a son of King Sigurd Munn.

4. A strange matter now happened: Gunnhild, the mother of Sverri, left the land to go south to Rome. There, to one who heard her confessions, she confessed that the man whom hitherto she had stated to be her son’s father was not so; but that a king was his father, and her son himself knew it not. This confession being laid before the Pope, she was commanded in her penance to inform her son of his real parentage as soon as she found him. Not long after her return home, she sailed to the Færeys, and told Sverri that he was the son of King Sigurd Munn. This information caused him much anxiety, and his mind wavered greatly. To contend for the kingdom against King Magnus and Earl Erling seemed difficult; and yet, supposing he were a king’s son, it seemed contemptible that he should do nothing more than a plain yeoman’s son would, do. But when he called to mind the interpretation put upon his dreams by wise men, those very dreams quickened his courage to avenge his kinsmen.

Sverri dreams that he aids St. Olaf in fight.

5. Sverri related in these words a dream which appeared to him. He dreamt that he had come to Norway over the sea from the west, and had attained some position of honour, chosen to be bishop most likely. And there was much unrest in the land, because of the contention of kings. He dreamt that King Olaf the Saint was contending against King Magnus and Earl Erling, and he was pondering in his mind which side he should join. He chose rather to go to King Olaf, and on his arrival the King welcomed him with great joy. He had not been long with him when this event happened. One morning, as it seemed to him in his dream, there were few men with the King, not more than fifteen or sixteen, and the King was washing himself at a table in an upper room. When he had finished, another man wished to go to the table and wash in the same water, but the King pushed him aside with the hand and bade him desist. He then called Sverri Magnus by name, and bade him wash in the same water; and Sverri dreamt that he did as he was bid. When he had washed, a man rushed into the room with the sudden tidings that the King’s foes were at the door, and he bade them seize their weapons as quickly as they could. But the King spoke, and said there was no danger, and bade the men take their axes and swords and march out, while he himself would take his shield and protect them all. And they did as the King commanded. Then he took his sword and offered it to the young man Sverri, and placed his standard in Sverri’s hand, saying, “Take my standard, Lord, and know of a surety that henceforth you shall be its bearer always.” And Sverri in his dream received the standard, though with a feeling of dread. Afterwards the King took his shield, and they all walked out together somewhat hastily. The vestibule seemed long as they marched through, not less than sixty ells in length, and while they were in the building, Sverri was unable to carry the standard upright. But when they reached the door through which they had to pass, seven men came against them with weapons, intending to cut down the standard-bearer. But the King moved forward in front of him, and with his shield protected him and all the others, so that they were unharmed. Afterwards they came in his dream to an open country and a fair field, where he carried the standard upright, and bore it against the array of King Magnus and Earl Erling. And as soon as the attack was made, that host fell away. Then Sverri awoke, and pondering his dream, considered it better than no dream, though it seemed a strange one. He told it afterwards to his friends, that is, a few, and succeeding events agreed fairly with their interpretation. And when such things came into his mind he was greatly strengthened.



Sverri arrives in Norway; meets with Earl Erling; and visits Earl Birgi Brosa in Gautland [1174-1176].

6. Sverri now made ready for a voyage to Norway to see what would happen, and he arrived there at the time when Eystein had let himself be proclaimed King. Now Eystein and he were cousins, sons of two brothers. And when Sverri heard of Eystein’s doings, he made careful inquiry into them, and found many of his plans and designs quite immature; this checked him, so that he did not feel it right to join Eystein.

Afterwards he journeyed to the north of the land, for his foster-father, Bishop Hroi, had advised that he should present himself before the Archbishop and tell his difficulty to him. As he went on the voyage he made inquiries of men who had come from the north. He delayed for a time at Selia, because he found friends. And there was a priest who gave him accurate information about all he wished to know, from which Sverri perceived how strong an opponent the Archbishop had been to his brothers. There seemed to him small hope that he would be exalted where his brothers had been abased.

He then turned south to leave the land, and sailed to Tunsberg with the crew of a merchantman, and thence to Konunga-hella. Here he had constant speech with Earl [Erling] himself, and dissembled with such success that the Earl neither knew who he was nor what his mind was brooding over. Sverri mixed much with the body-guard and others of the King’s men, and his cheerful manner and conversation were a pleasure and amusement to them at all hours. By prudent speech he so sounded them that he became assured of many matters which they would never have disclosed if they had known who was among them or with whom they conversed. He applied his mind diligently to observe if the commons showed doubtful loyalty in their language, taking care that his own words roused no suspicion, and that no one perceived what his mind was brooding over. But he only found that the whole of the commons were loyal to King Magnus.

From Konunga-hella he passed to Liodhus, enduring much fatigue and toil; and thence into East Gautland, where he arrived weary and exhausted. Three days before Yule he came to his kinsman Earl Birgi Brosa, who had married his father’s sister Brigit, and he laid bare his difficulty to the Earl and his wife. But they looked coldly on the project of helping his cause. There were two reasons for this: the first, that his kinsman Eystein had raised his band of followers by their aid, and so long as he lived they would help no one else; and the second reason, a rumour had come to the ears of Birgi that Earl Erling had sent Sverri to him in “mockery. Sverri remained here during Yule, and constantly spoke to the Earl of his difficulty, begging him to give wholesome advice as to the plans he should adopt. Now there happened to be men present, such as constantly are met with, fuller of malice than kindness, and their presence was a source of great danger to Sverri. For as they were mostly shortsighted men, they believed the rumour and wished to slay him; but Earl Birgi would not have him slain without just cause, and he wished rather to inquire what were his usual habits. So they gave him to drink wine and mead, that he might become drunk, and be proved criminal out of his own mouth. But Sverri, anxious about his cause at every moment, gave little heed to either mead or wine though placed before him in plenty, and when he found that answers were drawn from him on all matters of moment to himself, he grew more and more cautious; so that those who would make him drunk found nought of which to accuse him.

Sverri visits his sister Cecilia in Vermaland [1177].

7. After Yule-tide was passed, Sverri, perceiving that he did not obtain from the Earl such an answer as he wished, turned his course to Vermaland. He was not accompanied by a large crowd of followers, for he had only one man with him when he left the Earl; and he endured much fatigue and toil on the road. His condition most resembled that of royal children in the old stories, under the curses of step-mothers. For six or seven days together he strayed through wide and unknown forests, suffering cold and hunger in his wanderings. Arrived in Vermaland, he met men who had come from Norway, and asked them minutely of the tidings. They were able to tell him of what had lately happened: that King Eystein had marched from the north, east into the Vik, and had fought a battle at Re against King Magnus, in which he had fallen with a great part of Ms force. Those that escaped had fled to Vermalana, or Thelamork, or south to Denmark. The sorrows and perplexities of Sverri seemed greatly increased by this event, and he went first of all to his sister Cecilia, who, as soon as she had heard of her brother’s movements, had prepared for him a hospitable reception. She was glad at his coming, and welcomed him with much joy. Afterwards brother and sister deliberated what plan he should follow. To return to Norway was not safe, for information of his affairs and movements had found its way there. It seemed to them the best course that he should visit foreign lands for a time and wait for the tidings that God would send him.

The Birkibeins, having lost their leader, offer to serve under Sverri. He refuses their offer.

8. And now the miserable band that had lost its leader learnt that a son of King Sigurd Munn had come to Vermaland All of them that heard the news went to see Sverri, and they begged him to put himself at the head of their cause and become their leader. The troop was in a very shameful condition: some had grievous wounds, some were without clothes, and well-nigh all were weaponless. So very young, too, were they all, that they appeared to him unfit for any great enterprise. He answered them in this manner: —

“It does not seem to me desirable for either you or me that we take that course. You are poor men, and I am without resources and unknown to you. If my resolves are not to your liking, you may say that you do not clearly know whom you serve. I was brought up where men are little accustomed to such high aims or labours; and you and I, it seems to me, have small foundation for comradeship together, except poverty and trouble. I am not prepared to join your perplexities to my anxiety. But inasmuch as you have applied to me, I will give you advice that seems to me good. Birgi, my kinsman, and his wife Brigit, have three sons, who have an equal right with King Magnus Erlingsson to rule the land. Go to Birgi and ask him to give you one of them as your leader. Besides, I have carefully viewed and considered your band, and I observe in particular that there is little to distinguish one man from another among you. It is quite out of my power to take up with this band. I see great hindrances to a common cause, especially in the absence of that which either of us can least afford to lack; for there is good reason to suppose that your company has not in it the elements of such great influence in the land as is needed to cope with Earl Erling. And for myself, brought up on an outlying rock, remote from other lands, I am incapable of enterprise. Little acquaintance had I even with the customs of other men, until lately when I came to your land; far less have I the knowledge to lead a warlike host, or direct the government of the country. I am capable of nothing, being unknown to every one. No man knows from what family I spring: all are ignorant, except so far as I myself may tell of it. Possibly you will now say of me, as of your former leader, that you did not know what manner of man he was to whom your service was given. Thus your chief will ever be held your reproach wherever you meet your foes. Let all men set their hopes on the sons of Birgi, no one on me.”

The Birkibeins consult Earl Birgi about a leader, and he sends them back to Sverri. Sverri’s favourable answer.

9. These men, still in search of a leader, went to see Birgi Brosa. He bewailed their loss greatly, and thus spoke: “My sons are children in age, unable to form plans either for themselves or others; they are not capable of such — chiefly, though, because of their youth. Among the men of your band I see none to choose that are able to form plans for my sons, and I could raise no force here, because the men of Norway will not suffer a Gautish host to invade their land. But I will lay before you the plan that seems to me the best; God will decide how it turns out. A son of King Sigurd was with us during Yule, and he will be now in Vermaland. Take him for your leader; he is of the right age, and of a suitable understanding. Ask him to place himself at the head of your cause.”

“We went to that man,” they answered, “and he gave us a refusal.” The Earl then became the more urgent and said: “It is my belief that your cause will find no success unless it comes from him; and so if you will take my advice, you will go to him. You may bear him this message from me, that I promise him all such friendship as I can afford, and he shall bring his force here as to a friendly country whenever he comes into the realm of the Swedes. Give him the choice either to yield to the need of you all or to lose his life.” Now they had set men to keep watch over him while they went to consult Earl Birgi; because Sverri had formed a design to visit Jerusalem, thinking that he knew no men in Norway from whom he might expect protection. For King Magnus and Earl Erling had so fearfully bewitched the whole of that region that no man dared speak of Sigurd or Hakon by the title of King.

These men now came the second time to Sverri, bringing letters from King Knut and Earl Birgi containing these words: “It is our prayer that you be moved to help this poor band, and show no disregard to our words. And notwithstanding that we looked coldly on your cause aforetime, yet now we will support and strengthen your rule in every way that we can.” But although they used this fair, enticing language, Sverri none the less perceived his lack of means for so great a design, and again refused the men’s prayer. They then called to mind the last words of Earl Birgi and offered Sverri the choice of two courses: would he prefer to take pity on their cause or look for sharper trouble from them; and they spoke in this manner: “We have long served your kinsmen. For your father’s sake we have lost our fathers, brothers, well-nigh all our relations, and we have no land wherein we may dwell peacefully. And now we all again offer our duty to you yourself, but you prefer to despise both us and your own honour. Know then of a surety that we will slay you and all belonging to you, and so purchase to ourselves peace with King Magnus; we who were most loyal to you in time past will now be most stem.” Sverri’s position now seemed to him one of great and fresh difficulty, and he pondered it in himself. He saw that he would bring all his kindred to a very swift end if he risked these threats of evil. He chose otherwise, and on the Lord’s day before Lent, he entered into fellowship with them; the Monday following, seventy men swore fealty to him. Some became his Guardsmen, some his Gests, and some his House-carles.

Sverri dreams that he is anointed by the Prophet Samuel.

10. The next night Sverri had a dream. He dreamt that he was at Borg, where the Raum-Elf falls into the sea, and King Magnus, Earl Erling, and their force were in the town. There was somewhat of a stir, because a king’s son was supposed to be in the town, and all the people were busy seeking where he might be. And it seemed to Sverri that this stir was about himself. He dreamt that he was making his way secretly out of the town, and had come up to Mariukirk, which he entered for the service. As he was at prayers in the church, there appeared to him a man who came and took him by the hand, and leading him into a chapel that lay north of the choir-door, thus spoke to him, “Come with me, brother, I have somewhat to tell thee in secret.” Sverri went in his dream with the man, carefully observing his appearance. The man seemed to him to be very aged; his hair was of a snowy whiteness, his beard was long, and his garments trailed upon the ground; his face was ruddy, with short hair around it, and he inspired great awe. — Sverri’s mind was full of concern, wondering what the man might want The old man perceived his anxiety and said to him, “Fear not, brother, for God has sent me.” Then Sverri, in his dream, sank to the ground before him, and asked, “Who art thou, Lord, that I may be assured that God has sent thee.” The old man answered a second time, bidding Sverri fear not, and saying that God had sent him to him. But Sverri’s fear became rather greater than less. Then the old man took him by the hand and raised him up, saying the third time, “Fear not, brother, peace be with thee. I am Samuel the prophet of God, and I have a message from God to deliver to thee.” After this, the old man took a horn from a scrip which he carried about his neck, and the horn appeared to Sverri to contain holy oil. And the old man said, “‘Let me see thy hands.” And Sverri stretched out both his hands towards him. And the man anointed them, saying, “May these hands be sanctified and made strong to hate foes and opponents, and to govern much people.” Then he kissed Sverri, and taking his right hand in his own, said, “Be thou strong and valiant, for God will give thee help.” Sverri then awoke and related his dream to the twelve men, two priests and ten others, who slept in the same room with him. They all considered the dream remarkable and of great import, and all of them were somewhat gladdened by it. But when he asked them to interpret the dream, no one had the confidence to explain it, though all thought the dream better than no dream. When Sverri perceived that there was no interpretation of the dream forthcoming, he bade his men avoid speaking of the vision, though it had appeared to him.

After this dream his disposition seemed to all who were about him to undergo a great change. It was altogether a trying experience for him to live in a strange land and among a people altogether strange. And at the very same time that he took on himself the charge of his company he had to bear the burdens of those who served him; for in the troop that he had accepted, and whose lot he had bound to his own, there was not a man besides himself able to form a plan.

Sverri leads his troop into the Vik, where his men make him King. He returns to Vermaland.

11. The following Wednesday, which we call Ash-Wednesday, Sverri took with him this troop, and started from Hamar in Vermaland with not more than seventy men. He marched into the Vik, and on the way, men crowded to his band, so that when he reached Saurby in the Vik he had three and a half hundred men. Here he caused an Assembly to be summoned, at which his men would have him accept the title of King. But he excused himself, saying that it became him better to wait until his cause was strengthened by some clear evidence of its truth. Then they declared that they would not listen to him: “They were unwilling,” they said, “to serve one who had no higher title than any one of themselves.” They gave him, therefore, the title of King the first Lord’s day in Lent, and swore fealty to him, laying their hands on his sword.

He had not been long ruler of the band before he saw, what he had already suspected, that he would not gain much strength from their counsels. He began, then, to take the whole burden on himself, and while he stayed in the Vik with his men he studied diligently their ways and proceedings. They seemed to him a very unequal band, some of them gallant and orderly men, others unruly. Then he formed the design of putting them to the test if they would follow him for any other object than pillage and disorder. He returned to Vermaland, being unwilling to plunder in the Vik, and desirous rather of fighting for the land that was his by birthright. Thence he continued his journey, intending to march north. He proceeded as far as Eidaskog, where he reviewed his troop, and found that many who had become his liegemen lacked manliness, and had thought of plunder rather than of fighting for the honour of their King, for he had then no more than seventy men of the four hundred He now saw that he had not the means to attain his object; his troop was too small to confront such overwhelming odds as he might expect to meet. He could put no trust in a force that was unwilling to follow him north and back again. They seemed, indeed, more willing to bring down the wrath of the commons on their heads by pillage and disorder than to support him in dangerous undertakings. And this brought him much depression of mind, because almost from the outset he had been compelled to accept the title of King, and those who compelled him had given him no loyal support afterwards. Then he pondered on the plan he should follow. He could see, as he thought, no way to separate himself from his force, because those who were his most eager followers kept careful watch over him, now that he had accepted the title of King and become known to all in the land. So he turned again into Vermaland, and kept Easter with a priest who prepared a grand entertainment for him. Afterwards he sent letters into Norway, to Thelamork, because its people were at variance with King Magnas and Earl Erling, and he promised them some amendment of their laws if they would turn to him.

He also appointed that they should meet him north in the land, if they would join him or afford him assistance.

King Sverri’s toilsome march north through the forests.

12. Easter week being past, Sverri perceived that he would not be able to reach the north of the land unless he made a laborious march by strange paths. For directly it became known that a rebellious troop was forming in the east of the country, great preparations to meet it were made over the whole land, so that no progress was possible through well-peopled districts. To turn towards the Eystra-salt seemed his best plan. The first wood through which he marched with his men before they reached Aekisherad was twelve miles long. And when they passed thence, they had to march through another wood quite as long, before they came to Molung. Thence they marched fifteen miles through a wood to Jarnberaland. In all these woods there was no food except flesh of birds and elks. For many reasons the marches were toilsome and difficult, for they were made chiefly through uninhabited districts, and the men suffered hunger, cold, and much weariness; they were unable to make use of horses or other means of progress, for the roads were in the worst condition, as at that time the snow was melting in the woods and the ice thawing on the waters. At one time they marched over bogs or wide moors, at another through dense forests or over great felled trees.

Jarnberaland is under the rule of the King of the Swedes, and was at that time a heathen land. Its people had never before set eyes on a king, and they were unaccustomed to the visits of kings. It might even be said, there was not one among them who understood what king’s men were, or knew whether they were men or animals. There was great difficulty in making way among so rude a people. But Almighty God and Holy Maria gave such abundant grace to King Sverri, that when the people heard his words they furthered his progress and permitted him to pass through their land. But his road lay for the most part by wild forests, mosses, deserts, great streams and lakes, rather than by human dwellings. From Jarnberaland he marched eighteen miles through a wood to the district called Herdales, which was his own land. Thence he marched thirty-two miles through another wood, in which his men were so distressed that they found nothing to eat except the bark and sap of trees, and such berries as had lain all winter under the snow.

King Sverri the subject of a miracle. Continued sufferings of his men on the march north

13. It happened that King Sverri had to pass over a large lake in a forest, and as there were no boats in the neighbourhood, his men constructed rafts of trees, three or four together, just as they then could. The raft which bore the King was not large, and had four men on it. The lake was half a mile across. As soon as they had moved a short distance from shore, the raft sank until the water reached half-way up the legs of those who were on it. At this moment a man came running to the edge of the lake, much exhausted by the march, for they were in the very thick of the forest, and the whole troop had now been two days without food. He called to those on the raft, begging them to save him, as he was almost dead of exhaustion. Now the rest of the troop were well on their way over the lake. The King heard the man’s cry, and saw that his life depended on their taking him; yet the raft seemed scarcely able to bear those already on it. But he had the raft pushed to land and took the man on, though it was no easy matter; and when he came on the raft, the water reached above their knees. In this way they crossed the lake, and then quitted the raft, landing by means of a single log. The King was the last to go on shore, and as soon as he left the raft it sank like a stone. All marked the singular and marvellous character of the event. For having beheld the raft float when carrying its human freight, and sink the instant they left it, all saw clearly that it had borne one who was destined to do great deeds that were yet undone, and to hold higher rank than he yet held.

They passed the next two days in the wilds without nourishment, except from chewing pine-shoots for the sap, and sucking birch-wood. The third day the whole troop was in extreme need. Yet they marched with such vigour through this wilderness that only thirteen short miles yet remained. And now it came to pass that the troop crossed a large river, and as they reached the other side they lay down on the bank, having lost all desire to go farther, so weaned had they become. The King was among the last three that crossed, and the current bore them a long way down the river, but at last they drifted to land and took rest. Then the King bade his men be of good courage; they were not far now, he said, from the abodes of men, and their hopes would again shine bright if they should come at last to a Christian people.

King Sverri marches through Jamtaland and comes to Nidaros. The men of Selbu and Gaulardale submit to him.

The King now reached Jamtaland, and the Jamts wished to oppose him. He therefore sent forward Sigurd of Saltness, supposing they would be less on their guard against wise schemes before he himself, the chief of the band, came up. And his supposition proved true, for Sigurd in his expedition got possession of all their ferry-boats, which they had prepared for the defence of their land. When the King himself arrived, the yeomen felt the loss of their boats, and, as the best course before them, submitted to him. King Magnus had many barons in the land, and they all made peace with King Sverri; they prepared receptions for him» and full entertainment; they supplied him with sixty men. Afterwards he proceeded on his march, and again his troop suffered great distress, so that no man tasted food for five days; neither had they time for sleep, because the King did not wish intelligence of his march to precede him On the Friday night before Whitsunday he came into the neighbourhood of the town [Nidaros]. The townsmen heard of his approach, and crossed the river Nid to oppose him with twelve hundred men under Sigurd Nikolasson, Eirik Amason, Ivar Horti, Ivar Silki, and Ivar Giafvallsson. When the King became aware of this force he went himself to spy them out, taking with him a man named Jon, and coming right among them, obtained an accurate knowledge of the odds against him; and seeing that with one hundred men he was unable to fight against twelve hundred, he turned away for the present.

Then the men of Selbu gathered together against him to the number of three hundred. But King Sverri’s men were so exhausted by their toilsome march and long want of sleep that they were forced to take rest So he sent messengers to Vigleik of Digrin, bidding him give his men food, and Vigleik thought good to obey the message. On their departure from Digrin, God so furthered the King’s cause that he and his troop got between the Selbu host and their boats, the whole of which they took. They then sailed to the abodes of the very men who were eagerly plotting against their lives, and found a lodging in their houses, whether the owners of the farms liked it or not And when these reached their homes, there was not a man of them but consented to all the King required; and he laid on them the charge of half a month’s provisions. The King then occupied an island in the lake of Selbu, afterwards called the King’s-holm. This place they left in the night, no one knowing of their departure but themselves, and marched into the Vatsfell. Here they lay, no one being aware of them; and they learnt all that occurred in the town, and heard much that was said of themselves. The men of Gaulardale also had gathered a great host together, which the Birkibeins watched closely, but this force was disbanded when, after some days, nothing was heard of the King. Forthwith the Birkibeins, seeing them disperse, followed close upon their heels and came quite unexpected to their abodes; the inhabitants then gladly submitted to all that King Sverri demanded. This news was soon told in Nidaros, and a force was again despatched from the town to go after him. But King Sverri again withdrew for a time and marched up into Soknadale. When he arrived there he heard that But and eighty men, all well armed, had come from Thelamork. This was in answer to the message and letters, already mentioned, which the King had sent to Thelamork. He rejoiced greatly to hear the news, and then marched up to Rennabu to meet them.

King Sverri’s victory over the men of Nidaros.

15. After this the King turned back, having now with him a hundred and eighty men. They marched until they came to the mouth of the Gaul, which they crossed on ferry-boats. The twenty men who first reached the other side were sent forward by the King as scouts under Jon Gudrunarson. The townsmen [of Nidaros] had also sent out scouts on their part, seven in number. These two bands met; five of the townsmen were slain, one was taken prisoner, and one escaped, who bore the news to the town. Hereupon the townsmen went forth, twelve hundred in number, drawn up in orderly array. And Ivar Horti spoke, saying, “We must use craft in hunting them down; let us hide some of our force, for if they see the whole they will not venture to attack.” So they placed seven hundred men behind a fence, to come forth and attack the enemies’ rear when the hosts were engaged in close combat. The townsmen showed such audacity — barons and yeomen as they were — that they took the banner of King Olaf the Saint, to bear it against King Sverri; but you shall hear now what came to pass. The man who bore the banner was mounted on horseback, and as he rode behind the force he could not stop his horse, which ran against two men. One of these was killed, and the other so injured that he never fully recovered; the rider himself was thrown, and let the banner fall to the ground. Against these five hundred men, all in battle array, the King drew up his force, setting his bowmen all together; and every man made good use of his weapons. The ambush behind the fence only became aware of the fight by the whizzing of the arrows over their heads. These all whom Ivar supposed to have the victory in their hands were the first to flee, each man running against his fellow; and those who, considering their numbers, might be thought unlikely to win, were made glad by victory. King Sverri in this battle slew Ivar Silki and Ivar Giafvallsson, and more than a hundred men besides. They captured the banner of King Olaf the Saint, which they bore to the town in glorious triumph, while the chiefs who escaped from the battle ran hither and thither like mice to their holes. Eirik Arnason was there taken prisoner. Afterwards quarter was accepted, and many came with meekness into the presence of Sverri who before, in excess of pride, had been loudest in their talk against him. And now King Sverri gave thanks to Almighty God, to Holy Maria the Mother of God, and to King Olaf the Saint, for the glorious victory which God had given him; and he showed his thankfulness by granting pardon to every one that asked it Many great men had escaped, and he was conscious that they would lay plots against him if he were not on his guard.

After the battle the King sent forth spies from the town both by sea and land. These returned after three days, bringing with them tidings that the Inner Thronds had collected twenty hundred men, and were already on the way thither; and that Ivar had fifty ships at sea, near the Raudabiorg. As soon as these tidings came all at once to the ears of the King, he perceived that he could not remain where he was, and his men hastened on board eleven cutters which they procured. When they had rowed a short distance beyond Holm, they beheld the fleet of the Inner Thronds sailing from the inner part of the Fiord, and came within range of them. There were nine ships of burden at anchor near the Raudabiorg, but the King would not attack them, for they were a merchant fleet come from Vaga, and he would never do harm to merchants if they would value themselves aright. Near the Raudabiorg, also, lay eleven cutters and one long-ship which Ivar had got together. These fled immediately, for they dared not fight with the Birkibeins; and the King sailed on to Agdaness, where he came upon nine cutters, and at once made at them. Their crews did some trade — trade of this kind: they bartered their clothes and weapons for knocks and shame. They lost everything of value they possessed, but the King would not allow the men themselves to be slain. Then he took his ships seaward to Folskn, where they met with a ship of burden, owned by Ivar; and on board of it was property to the value of six marks of gold, which they took. After this they sailed south to Mœri, where they came upon twelve or thirteen cutters, and a like market was made for these as for the former crews. Both fleets were intending to join Ivar, if there came no ‘trolls in the way between outhouse and home.’

The Assembly at Eyra accepts Sverri as King. He marches into the Uplands and gains two victories.

16. After this the King turned back north to Throndham, and, coming to Nidaros, was received as befitted a king by the townsmen, who had the bells rung throughout the town and went in procession to meet him. He then caused the Assembly to be summoned at Eyra, calling to it twelve men by name from each of the eight shires that lie within Agdaness. At this Assembly of the eight shires, met together, the title of King was given to Sverri, and ratified by the brandishing of weapons; land and liegemen were confirmed to him by oath in accordance with the old laws of the land.

Tidings of these things spread abroad rapidly, and reached King Magnus and Earl Erling, who straightway gathered a force together and sailed north coastwise. On hearing this, King Sverri would not wait for them, but with his ships and men sailed away into Orkadale. Here they dragged the ships ashore, set fire to them, and burnt them completely. They now turned to the Uplands. Having passed over Dofrafell into Gudbrandsdales, they held an Assembly, after which they marched on till they came to the lake called Miors, where was a gathering of barons with eighteen ships. There were three barons, Hallvard of Sasteads, Saebiorn Sindrason, and Ivar Gæsling. They had another force on land which numbered twelve hundred men. King Sverri had two hundred men. He now sought counsel of his troop what plan he should adopt; and they all wished to fight. But the King thus answered them: “It does not appear to me as to you; for I think there are great odds to deal with. I intend to avenge my sorrows another way, a way more promising than that of walking into such a snare, for my father, brothers, and many ancestors besides, will not be avenged by my biting the dust or being driven to flight.” So by the King’s advice, but against their own wish, they marched thence two days’ journey. The King sent forward forty men to Hadaland, to the lake called Bond, and they seized all the ships that were there. And when the King arrived he found three hosts gathered together — in two places three hundred men, and five hundred in the third. He then divided his force into two, himself taking one half, a hundred men, and the other half he sent to the homestead of Ozur Bilsi, which they plundered to the amount of twenty marks of gold. The King did not wish to be idle while they were absent, and he decided to attack with the force he had a host of three hundred before him. Both sides made ready as best they could, and marched against each other. But as soon as the Birkibeins brandished their weapons, the yeomen fellows were struck to the heart with fear. They took now a better course. They asked for quarter, threw down their weapons, and so showed their fear. The King acted as before, and gave every man quarter that asked. A second host of those gathered together, seeing how their fellows were dealt with, also reconciled themselves to the King. They promised such obedience as never before was promised in Hadaland, and an Assembly was summoned at which the King should conclude peace. But this meeting for peace was not meant by the yeomen to be free from guile, for seeing that the King had but a small force with him, they intended to fall upon him at the Assembly. On the day appointed for the meeting, those who had been sent to plunder Ozur’s homestead returned, and as the King’s force was now more numerous than the yeomen expected, they dared not utter a word in opposition to what the King wished. He therefore laid upon them such terms as he liked, and they promised all that he demanded. Thus they were reconciled, so to speak. But yet the yeomen fellows showed somewhat of a deceitful disposition as before; for they decided to send word to Orm Kings-brother, who was then at sea on board ship, and ask him to sail up from the Vik against the King, whom they said they would oppose if he should attempt to escape. Orm therefore collected a numerous force, and had large ships dragged out of the lake called Tyrfi, to go to Rond and attack King Sverri, who was there on board ship.

The King’s bailiffs had arranged to have in Heidmork at that time fourteen ships on Miors. King Sverri, having intelligence of these, formed his plan. He made as though he would go to meet Orm, and sent forward all his scouts in that direction. Then he went into the wood with forty men, and they felled trees. No one knew the reason of this; but the King had commanded his men to follow him, which they did, and passed the night there. At daybreak the next morning the trumpets were sounded, and the whole force arose, not knowing what business the King had in hand. When the men were dressed, he arranged them, and bade them drag the ships from Rond, five miles along a road never before passed by ships. No need now to ask why the King had those trees felled in the wood; they were the rollers. No pause was made on the road until they came to Miors. Arrived there, they rowed forward and made an unexpected attack on the barons. The encounter so ended that he whom God favoured gained a victory, and King Sverri routed all his foes. When he had cleared the place he sailed to Hamar-Kaupang, where he held an Assembly, and no man spoke a single word against the King. The barons fled before him to the south of the lake, and there was now a long distance between them, for Miors is so large a lake that it is more like a sea.

King Sverri defeats the barons near Lake Miors,.

17. Hallvard of Sasteads and other barons held a great feast at Sasteads, to which he invited all who wished to be invited, that their following might be as numerous as possible. It was the anniversary of the dedication of the church. Three hundred were bidden, but more than three hundred attended; for the Birkibeins came to the festival, all prepared for battle. Both sides drew up their array, marched against each other and exchanged shots; the barons and their host were soon in flight, seven being slain and five taken prisoners. And now the unbidden guests were they that enjoyed the feast, and they that prepared it were chased away. These ran to Orm Kings-brother, and told him that their paths had not been smooth. King Sverri now inquired of the men made prisoners where their ships lay hidden, and being told, he seized all the ships on Miors, both small and large. He took of the property of the barons and of all those who fled away, likewise all the land dues which King Magnus and Earl Erling expected for themselves.

The whole of the Uplands and the Eystridales were now in the possession of King Sverri, and those who submitted to him had ever a better lot than those who steered away from him. And as men perceived his power growing, more by wise counsels than a multitude of adherents, they were ever the more eager to cultivate his friendship. His host increased so that he had three hundred men. After this, King Magnus and Earl Erling came into the Vik, and having heard all the tidings now related of the Birkïbeins, they gathered troops together afresh from over all the Vik, collecting a warlike host that was irresistible; and when King Sverri was told of it, he perceived the unwisdom of awaiting danger there from this innumerable force.

King Sverri marches across country to Sogn, intending to go to Bergen.

18. King Sverri now made ready to march into Sogn, intending to proceed to Bergen. And inasmuch as Almighty God and Holy Maria have given King Sverri many a glorious victory, it is possible, if we speak only of his victories, that envious and foolish men will not believe our story, but will assert that we must be untruthful. We shall therefore check their incredulity and show the fairness of our narrative by telling both of good and evil fortune; for many a wretched road had Sverri to travel and his men to tramp, before he had avenged the many grievous sorrows which he had to requite the King and his father the Earl, and before he was able to win by the sword the inheritance of his fathers from his powerful opponents with the small force at his command. And though he always had much trouble and fatigue through his labour, yet he never was so tried by weariness and bad weather, by loss of sleep and want of food, as in the journey that he now undertook.

He started on his march to Bergen, but when he reached Sogn his enemies had preceded him with the news of his approach, and he was confronted by a large gathering. At the beginning of his descent from the mountains into Sogn with his troops, his road lay along a narrow path; on one side was a river so rapid as to be one constant waterfall, and not a living creature could cross it but a bird on the wing; the other side was a sheer precipice that might not be scaled in any way. So narrow was the path that it afforded passage for but one at a time. Above, on the crags in front, the yeomen sat in large numbers, having a store of logs and stones ready to cast down on the King’s men as they passed under. When the King perceived them, he used stratagem to meet stratagem, and thus addressed his force:

“Stand under shelter of the rock, and don’t let these men have opportunity to hurt you; taunt them, nevertheless, as much as lies in your power, and I will see if I can make a stir in their troop.” Then with some of his men he found a way as he best could to the fells above, and came upon his foes, quite unawares, in their rear. Straightway they took to flight, and some of them were slain. Afterwards he marched forwards with his men into the peopled district and entered Leradale. Next morning Ozur Bilsi arrived by sea with six-and-twenty ships before they were aware of his coming. The Birkibeins seized their weapons and went to meet the foe; but though the ships’ crews formed a numerous host, they did not venture to come on shore. There was danger ahead where they saw Birkibeins awaiting them on land quite close to the harbour, and they stood aloof.

King Sverri marches from Leradale to Vors, and then turns back. The sufferings of his men.

19. The King now perceived, since intelligence of his approach had already preceded him, that he would be unable to obtain ships. He therefore proposed to march up to Vors, and thence down into Bergen. This was a journey full of danger at the beginning of winter, because large parts of the road lay over mountains where much snow was to be expected. But the resolution was made, because destiny had ordained a battle for the Birkibeins at that time. They marched up to Vors, where danger did not cease to await them in many forms, the chief one being a hostile gathering of all the men of Vors, and many of Sogn, Hardangr, and South Hordaland, an irresistible host All this force came upon the Birkibeins unawares on Simun’s mass-day, as the King sat at meat before continuing his march. As soon as the Birkibeins became aware of their approach, they leapt up from the tables, put on their armour, and awaited the arrival of their comrades in arms, for they had not all passed the night in the same quarters. When their whole force was come together, the Birkibeins drew up in battle array, and the yeomen likewise. But though the Birkibeins were the smaller host, they were not the less eager to begin the attack, and so fierce was their first onset that the enemy’s vanguard recoiled before them. The yeomen fled down a steep descent to a river, which they crossed; on the other side was a steep ascent, and as the chasm was narrow, both armies exchanged shots across it. Each host now proceeded up the river on its own side, the yeomen wishing to get ahead, so as to be in the rear [when the Birkibeins turned]. The higher they marched, the broader became the chasm, which widened above into a lake; so that the farther the two hosts marched, the greater became the distance between them. Night came on and they lost sight of each other, so that nothing further might be done.

No advantage could be gained now by going on to Bergen, as the news of the King’s approach would precede him all the way, and at Bergen there was a force so numerous and strong as to make the place unsafe for the Birkibeins. The King now wished to march back by the way he had come, and took with him five guides, men who had the most accurate knowledge of the ways. This was then needful, for the weather had become so stormy that the like had seldom been seen, and snow fell deep beyond experience. To tell of the march briefly, they lost more than one hundred and twenty horses with gilded saddles, and also precious chattels of different kinds, cloaks, weapons, and many other valuables. In addition to this trouble they lost knowledge of their way. They were without food, and unable even to obtain water; for eight days they tasted nothing but snow. The day before All Hallows’ Mass the weather was so stormy — those who hear this story will deem it incredible — that the storm hurled one man to the ground with such violence that he was killed, his back being broken in three places. When the squalls passed over them they could only cast themselves down in the snow and hold their shields over them with all their strength. Their guides lost hope, for they knew not where they had come, and the darkness was so thick that they could not see before them. Hunger and weariness, and in some cases the cold, had crushed completely the whole force, and their strength was so exhausted that not a man would proceed farther. As soon as they could see just in front of them they found that they had arrived at some steep rocks. Thereupon an evil murmur ran through the Kings host. Some declared that they would suffer no longer, but leap from the rocks and bring their severe torment to a speedy end. Others said, “We shall show more prowess in calling to mind the deeds of old time, and in following the courageous example of those who turned their weapons against one another, and met death at each other’s hands rather than endure misery.”

King Sverri encourages his men under their sufferings.

20. The King now began to address them, and having called for a hearing, spoke thus, as God taught him: —

“I have considered your design,” he said; “it seems a hopeless one, and your purpose will not help you in the least. To leap from the cliffs and kill yourselves is the expedient of madmen who are unable to guide their own steps. And as to your wish to turn your weapons against one another, that is a custom of the heathen who know not God. We are Christians, the children of Christians, and know that whosoever inflicts death upon himself has no hope in God. The suggestion is an instigation of the Fiend, and we must not do his will. Turn we now to the mercy of God, and let this sink into our minds, that though His chastisement seems severe, He will not inflict much where little is merited. Let us repent of our sins, and recognise that we are chastised by God for our evil lives, and not from cruelty on His part. We must therefore submit ourselves to Him, in meekness and lowliness, as He himself has taught us. ‘Learn of Me,’ He said; ‘for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ Now every one may see that it is better to submit to God’s mercy and make vows than to fall by evil deeds into the power of the Fiend. I desire your promise, therefore, the promise of you all, to join heartily with me in what I wish to take in hand. We will all with one consent appeal to God’s mercy, to the Blessed Maria, and to King Olaf the Saint, and make holy vows.”

At the close of the King’s speech they bound themselves straightway, by joining hands and clashing weapons, to perform the solemn vow the King should make. And such was the fierce violence of the storm when the King began to utter it, that those who stood nearest heard him with difficulty; but as soon as he had given utterance to the vow, God granted them His gracious mercy so speedily that no one at the moment could say from what quarter the wind then blew; sunshine, bright weather, and a balmy air, as if the time were midsummer, broke suddenly over them. They now perceived where they had come, and that they had marched in a direction quite athwart their proper course; and so weary and exhausted were they that twenty of them fell down dead within a short space. But the troop took courage, and though their progress was slow and difficult, they reached some mountain sheds, where they cast themselves down and found repose. After this they sought to kindle a fire for themselves if they possibly could, for there was great need of it and midnight was at hand But so utterly worn out were the men that not one was capable of kindling the fire. And now, as in other straits, there was one place to look to, through God’s mercy; life depended on their obtaining fire, and he who brought the greatest good fortune to that troop, and guided all their undertakings, King Sverri himself, kindled it for them. He struck a flint and lighted a wax-candle, which he handed to his men, and with its help they made a large fire and dried themselves. There was a small house a short way off, and the King went to the yeoman who lived there and passed the night, while some of his force went to the main homestead. When the King saw that his troops were refreshed, he went himself to keep watch, taking with him those that seemed most capable; for the approach was by a single narrow path, and if that was well guarded, all were safe. Three days the King kept watch, and then he wished to go forward to a more thickly peopled part. To pass between the two was very difficult; he must either march a long journey across the fells, or over steep rocky slopes that were very dangerous. The King’s men did not wish to go across the fells, for they would have encountered the same stormy weather as in coming where they were.

King Sverri marches through Valdres into Gudbrandsdales, and surprises Thorgrim, one of King Magnus’s men.

21. King Sverri next marched up into Valdres and was entertained on the royal estates. Thence he passed into Gudbrandsdales, where half a month’s entertainment was prepared for him and all his force at the King’s estate of Steig. After this it was not possible for him to remain in quiet. There were twelve yeomen of Heidmork who had met and agreed that each of them should raise a hundred men. These twelve were King Magnus’s men from Hamar-Kaupang. When the King was informed of these tidings he prepared to depart from the Dales, not wishing to be shut in, if his foes should beset the main entrance. The ringleader and head of the gathering was a yeoman named Thorgrim. Now the King marched in haste, as he wished to carry the news of his journey himself rather than let others tell of it And one night he left his force, not wishing the whole of it to be delayed on the business he had in hand. Taking five men with him, he went to seek Thorgrim, whom he found at home with eight men, and their meeting was of another kind than Thorgrim had expected. For God so ordered between them that the nobler man had the upper hand: the yeoman was bound prisoner and his House-carles were beaten. The affair ended by the King taking much wealth from Thorgrim; and over and above, Thorgrim paid King Sverri half a mark of gold, glad, however, that he was able to do it and be free. Upon this they separated.

King Sverri’s further marches. He passes Yule in the Eystridales.

22. After this King Sverri marched to Hamar-Kaupang, where he took Harald Gudbrandsson prisoner. Harald was a kinsman of the King, and many persons begged that he might not be slain. He paid to the King twelve ounces of gold. Others of King Magnus’s men escaped by flight, forsaking much wealth in property of all kinds. The King next marched into Eystridales, where he arrived five days before Yule. The yeomen, supposing that the troops of the Birkibeins intended to live during Yule at their cost, adopted means of prevention, and not one of them prepared either ale or other stores for the Yule banquets. The King, perceiving their design, laid his own plans to meet theirs; for he and his men needed Yule fare none the less though the yeomen should fail in affording them hospitality. He therefore turned away elsewhere, pretending a march east into Vermaland, and came as far as Eidaskog on the right way. Arrived there, he divided his force, and sent one hundred men through the forest to Vermaland, where they were well received. The King himself, with two hundred men, then turned back to the Dales, for he suspected that as soon as he had left the yeomen they would hold their Yule banquets. The King’s foresight proved true on this occasion, as on many others. He reached the district at Yule-tide, and his men all made themselves at home, regardless of ‘Sheafbeard’s’ pleasure. So the King had the best of entertainment the whole of Yule.

Earl Erlings attempt to surprise King Sverri [1178].

23. At this time Earl Erling was staying east in the Vik, and heard of these proceedings. Immediately after Yule he summoned a levy, thinking to make a din at the door of the Birkibeins, and shut them up in the Dales, like sheep in pens ready for slaughter. But craft met craft, for King Sverri soon espied the snare in which they intended to take him. He had made his plans so that the places where he was first entertained lay in the northern parts of the Dales. As Yule passed on he drew south cowards the main entrance, and before the Earl could reach that spot he was away east in Vermaland, leaving his pursuers to whistle in his rear. The Earl now resolved to follow him east into Vermaland; but the Verms opposed his passage, and cut down trees before him on his march through the wood, saying that this march should be the worst he ever made. Thereupon he turned right back again.

King Sverri assaults the house of Simun of Skriksvik. He defeats Simun in a pitched battle.

24. King Sverri now gathered together all his force, and rode with five hundred men down into the Vik to Simun’s homestead in Skriksvik, which they seized. They burnt his house, all his long-ships, and a new ship built for trading in the Baltic, and drove off forty cattle into Vermaland. When Simun heard of his loss he sent the war-arrow round about summoning thane and thrall to join him in a march against the Birkibeins. Simun was a great and mighty chief, whose bidding no man dared withstand, and in a short time he had collected a large force, one of four hundred and twenty men. Meanwhile the King had passed right away east to the Elf, and reached the boundary of the land. Simun therefore marched up along the Gaut-Elf. Now the King was staying by the river in a small village, and his men were dispersed in quarters a short distance off, because the village was small; besides, the King knew not that danger was so swiftly overtaking him. But his friends sent him word during the night from Gautland that Simun was coming with an overwhelming host, and would quickly be upon him if he were not on his guard. As soon as King Sverri heard this he hasted to dress and take his weapons; and then sent to call together all his men, which was not a matter to be done quickly, for they were scattered here and there. He then went into a wood known as the wood of Hufuness, where he waited for them. And when they were come, he took counsel with them what plan they should adopt “It will be difficult for us to fight against King Magnus and Earl Erling,” he said, “if we flee before barons, even though in our ignorance of their numbers we should find a large force against us.” His men all said they would fight against Simun rather than flee, not supposing Simun’s force so great as it was. They marched, therefore, against Simun, and the two armies met before day in such pitchy darkness that no man saw the foe till his standard was waving over them. Fighting began at once; the battle was fierce, but not long, and in the end God gave the King a glorious victory. There fell a hundred and forty of Simun’s men, and seven of the King’s. Simun and his men fled, but the King did not venture to pursue the fugitives on account of their numbers and the darkness.

King Sverri in the Vik. He avoids King Magnus, and marches to Vermaland, and thence northwards.

25. After this battle King Sverri set out for Konungaheila, where he obtained much wealth, the property of those who fled on his approach. He also laid a tribute on the town, twenty marks [of silver] by weight. But he stayed no longer than two days, for he considered that a force so large as the one that had fled under Simun would probably return. He passed on therefore to Liodhus, where he abode several days. Meanwhile King Magnus and Earl Erling, with all the barons of the Vik, collected a large force, and the two armies marched by chance towards one another, yet without knowing it. For King Sverri was then planning to gain some further advantage in the Vik, if opportunity offered. At one time the two armies were quartered for the night not more than a mile apart, and yet neither knew of the other. The next morning they marched towards one another, till only the fourth of a mile separated them. And now King Sverri became aware of the presence of the hostile force under King Magnus and the Earl his father. He turned back instantly until he came east to Vermaland. Here he held a meeting with all the most powerful men and the wisest, and inquired whether they would form a compact with him and he should become their protector, or would they reject his offer. To this they answered that they would gladly bargain to help him in battle as if he were their King. The men of Sunndale said they would make an unpleasant rear attack on those who came against him there in the east. When King Magnus and Earl Erling heard of these things they turned away without more ado. But they despatched Orm Kings-brother into the Uplands, a country where his kinsmen dwelt in great force, and bade him lie in wait against Sverri, should he again come there from Vermaland.

King Sverri, seeing it hard to face them, set out to march as far as the Eystrasalt, having with him not more than two hundred men. When he reached Jamberaland he was opposed by a great gathering, that cut down the trees in his way, saying they were not used to royal visits, and, moreover, did not want them. The King rode forward and conversed with them; and at the end of the parley they allowed him to go on with his journey, and furthered it in every way they could.

Raving passed through Jarnberaland and Helsingialand, King Sverri conquers the Jamts.

26. From Jarnberaland King Sverri marched into Helsingialand, and when he reached Alpta he was met by a great crowd collected to oppose him, not less than thirty hundred men, all prepared for battle, and one hundred of them were clad in mail. All this force had decreed to declare every man a traitor who should give quarter [to the Birkibeins] or let them march forward, and had all ratified it by clash of weapons. Moreover, they suffered none of King Sverri’s men to come to their Assembly or speak a word there; but at length leave was given all the Kings men to attend and listen to what was said. Then King Sverri spoke to his men that they should form in warlike order and be prepared for what this people should attempt. And when the men of the land saw this, their courage failed them, so that they sent to say the King might attend the Assembly, but should not himself be allowed to speak, though his men might speak for him. The men of Helsingialand now declared that the King must not go forward, and they offered him no course but to return by the way he came. At length, however, the King was allowed to make one speech, and he thus began: “We know not what charges you can lay against us; but you should consider this, that we all acknowledge one God and call Him our Father. There is then great need — yea, it is our bounden duty — that we be at peace one with another, and care for one another as for ourselves. My men have never done you wrong. Consider, too, how small are the benefits for which you are indebted to King Magnus and Earl Erling.” Then having commanded two horses to be brought forward that they might be slain for food, he said that if they were so sparing of their food, the story would be told in every land how Christian men, to preserve life, were compelled to eat horse-flesh in their country. When he ceased speaking, one of the yeomen offered to entertain him and seventy of his men. This was he who had made the proposal to declare every man a traitor from whom Sverri should obtain aid. And after him the yeomen offered entertainment to the King and all his men.

The Jamts, having learnt what had occurred among the Helsings, gave King Sverri and his men a good reception, and he passed from the east over their land, receiving entertainment. Coming to the north of it, he showed great confidence in the friendly promises of the Jamts, and so arranged his night-quarters that his men were dispersed about the neighbourhood, and he kept with him no larger a force than one hundred. On one occasion, about the middle of the night, a man came to him with information that the Jamts had collected a force in the east of the land and were marching after him, purposing to slay him and all his men; all the barons were in the plot. King Sverri arose instantly and had his men roused, bidding them put their armour on. He told them what tidings he had learnt, and said he feared very greatly that his men, scattered over the district, were slain. Straightway, the same night, he marched with the force he had with him, towards the place where he heard the Jamts were. How they had advanced in three divisions, that each might approach the King from a different side and so surround him; and as King Sverri was passing over a creek of the lake between the Undurseys and the mainland, the host of the Jamts came upon him and surrounded him. The host was twelve hundred men. Then the King charged his men: “Make use of the same password and encourage one another in the same phrases that you hear the Jamts use; and as soon as possible withdraw from their host and pass over to the islands. But first let us make a fierce attack on them and try if they will give way.” The Birkibeins now raised the war-cry and ran forward boldly as the Jamts came upon them from all sides. A great battle followed, with sharp fighting, but the night was so dark that no man could see to recognise another. When the sharp attack was over, the Birkibeins withdrew from among the crowd of yeomen. These did not perceive the stratagem at once, and fought against each other for a long time, until near dawn. When they ceased fighting, having discovered that they were slaying one another, the Birkibeins set upon them with such fierceness that the yeomen recoiled before them; and seeing the ill luck of their force, they fled, followed hard by the Birkibeins, who slew as many as they wished. Nearly one hundred of the Jamts were slain, and a great number were wounded. King Sverri had a hundred men, and the Jamts twelve hundred. In the morning the King sent for his other men, and all came. The Jamts now begged for peace, and brought hostages to the King, and were reconciled to him. He laid a heavy tribute on them. They agreed to become his subjects, and he appointed bailiffs to collect fines and other dues. The Jamts confirmed the agreement with many oaths, and when the tribute was paid, the King departed from them without more ado.

King Sverri is compelled by his men to attack Nidaros against his judgment.

27. Hereupon King Sverri set out on his journey over the fells, and came down into Naumudale, where he betook himself to the ships owned by the yeomen, and sailed out to the Skillinga. He held a council of his men here, for he did not wish the people to know of what they spoke. The King then discussed with his men how they should go on with their journey, saying that three courses appeared open: one, to make a voyage north to Halogaland, obtain there friends and ships, and then sail south to Bergen to see if he could win a victory over his foes; the second course, to leave the land and sail west to the islands, where was a good prospect, he considered, of obtaining support; the third course, to go on a plundering expedition to Ireland or other western lands, for he was of opinion that the popularity of King Magnus and Earl Erling would grow less the longer they ruled over the country. “At present,” he said, “their power is great, and to contend with them will be a hard matter.” His men all answered him that they wished to go on to Nidaros; there was nothing to prevent their reaching the town; and as it held no forces of either King or Earl, but contained many friends of King Sverri, they would be able to win it and so increase his resources. But the King replied, “I am not eager for this, and my feeling has been confirmed by a dream. You would act more wisely in following my advice, as on former occasions, and attack the town later on.” As nothing would satisfy his men except an attempt on the town, the King said they should have their wish. So, against his desire, they now sailed south to the entrance of Throndham. Arrived at Folskn, the King wished to sail on to Bergen and not enter the Fiord, saying that no honour would be gained, in his opinion, by going at present to Nidaros. But the men said there was no wiser course, and nothing to prevent them reaching the town; and all, the King excepted, agreed with one consent that they must go to Throndham. So they rowed into the Fiord to the Raudabiorg, where they anchored. The King then summoned all his men from the ships, and when silence obtained, inquired bow they purposed to make their attack on the town, if they were so eager to make it. They answered that they meant to row up to the quays and try to effect a landing. “Your plan seems to me unwise,” replied the King; “I don’t suppose the townsmen will let us quietly take possession of the town. I expect they will defend it, for they will not look on us Birkibeins as likely to forbear from plunder and pillage. It is my advice that, before daylight, we send a cutter up the Fiord past Stad and above Holm, to look out. Let it anchor under Hladhamra, so far from land as to be visible from the town when daylight appears, and let the awning be all gaily set up. Its craw should all go on shore into the wood, and march by the land road above Hladi, directing their course to the height above the bridge, where they will wait till daybreak. But we will row up the Fiord to Fladki, on the other side, and then keep near the shore under the Gaularas until we come close to the Gullhamar. I expect that at daybreak, as soon as they see a ship lying close to the Hladhamra, they will suppose it to be ours, and think that there are more ships where they see only one. They will then man their own ships and set out from the town. And while they are rowing towards Hladhamra our wisest plan will be, I think, to row from the Hefring up to Eyra; we may hope then that we shall have to defend the town against them, and not they against us.” But Gudlaug, the King’s marshal, answered, “Our force, probably, will not seem too numerous even if we do not divide it in two.” The majority agreed with Gudlaug rather than the King. They decided to row to the town as soon as it was daylight. The King said he could go wherever they went, but declared that he was unwilling. “Your scheme,” he said, “opposed to my wishes, will turn out, I imagine, badly.”

Archbishop Eystein defends Nidaros against the Birkibeins, and defeats them of the Hattarhamar. The King’s narrow escape.

28. Archbishop Eystein was present in the town, and had summoned a meeting the day before. He said he had received intelligence of the Birkibeins,’ who had come down into Naumudale in the north, and gone away south by sea. “We expect they will pay us a visit here in the Fiord,” he said. “I have been told that their numbers are few and their ships small; the men, moreover, are in an exhausted and wretched condition. It befits not yeomen and merchants to give up their clothes or goods to such thieves and evildoers as Sverri has scraped together. We desire rather to help you, if you will defend the town against them. I will contribute my ships, and all my house-carles present here at the Bishop’s court, if the townsmen and merchants will offer themselves.” This seemed to all of them a fit plan, and they declared their willingness to follow it, rather than be exposed to the landing of the Birkibeins. Four ships were then manned by the townsmen and merchants, and a fifth by the Archbishop, which contained his house-carles, and was the best manned of all; its captain being Sigurd, son of Ozur Bilsi. The townsmen set a watch on the Digrmull and raised a beacon, and at daybreak when the watch saw the ships at the Raudabiorg they fired the beacon. The townsmen, seeing it, summoned the crews on board and rowed out of the river. The Birkibeins had pulled down the awning of their ships, and they rowed across the Fiord under the Gaularas as the townsmen rowed over the bay; and when the townsmen were off the Digrmull, the two fleets came in sight of each other, and met in the bay within the Hattarhamar. The four ships of the townsmen came into the battle; also four of King Sverri, one only of which was a twenty-benched vessel. A hard and fierce contest began; and while the fighting went on, the weather was fine, and a light north-east wind drove all the ships together towards the shore until they touched land. After they had fought for a time there came in sight the Archbishop’s ship, which had been the last to leave the town. And now the battle, which, before this ship came in sight, had gone hard with the Birkibeins, did not look more promising when they beheld her. So they broke into flight and leapt on shore from their ships. King Sverri was dressed in a long dark cowled cloak, and was one of the first that moved to the fore part of the ship to leap on shore. When he was beyond the mast, a plank slipped under his feet, and he fell into the hold. His men leapt thickly over him, and he was kept there a long time, unable to rise, while the crowd passed. One of the last to leap over him was Helgi, surnamed Byggvomb. As the King looked up, Helgi recognised him, and said, “’Tis a bad parting from our King to leave him lying in the bilge-water;” and he caught hold of the King’s shoulder and raised him out of the hold. The King said, “Call me not Eng too freely for a while,” and they then leapt on shore both together. Three of the townsmen came against them on the beach, but Helgi ran towards them and fought with them, and the King climbed up a steep bank When a good height up he stepped on his cloak, his feet slipped, and he then fell down on the beach. One of the three fighting with Helgi ran to the King to slay him, but Helgi seeing him, extricated himself from his two opponents, and going after the man, struck him a deathblow. The Eng looked up at him the second time. The two men who had already tried Helgi’s prowess had less mind now to renew the attack, and turned away without more ado. The King was not well able to walk, for he had been struck by a javelin in the battle and wounded in the foot. Serk of Riod was the man that wounded him. Helgi now accompanied the King, and they climbed up the Gaularas and went along it, joined gradually by the King’s men who had escaped from the battle. The King moved forward to the fell and rested there, and they heard the voices of the townsmen discussing whether Sverri had fallen or not. Whereupon Helgi answered them so loud that they heard him: “King Sverri will raise a fiercer storm about you townsmen before he is dead.”

In this battle there fell many brave and valiant men. Sigurd of Saltness and his brother Jon Ketling were slain on the beach; their brother Vilhialm was escaping on board ship under the Gaularas and off the Ness, but the townsmen followed hard after him and he leapt on shore. He was slain on the beach; and the townsmen, after sharing among themselves the weapons of the slain, went back again. Gudlaug, the King’s marshal, received a severe wound, but made his escape up the Gaularas. He was dressed in a scarlet kirtle. A yeoman armed with a poleaxe met him, and perceiving that Gudlaug belonged to the fugitive host, struck at him, hitting him just below the nape of the neck The blow felled Gudlaug. The yeoman, supposing him slain, stripped him of his clothes, and left his body covered with brushwood. Shortly afterwards Gudlaug recovered from his swoon, and stood up and made his way to a farmhouse, where he was well received. Afterwards he followed the King and grew whole of his wounds, and henceforth the Birkibeins gave him the name of Gudlaug Gnitaskor.

Speech of King Sverri to his men after the defeat off the Hatttarhamar.

29. After this battle King Sverri and his men marched into the Uplands; some went down into Moeri where they slew Serk and eleven others, and then followed the King. When the Birkibeins were come east into the Vik, King Magnus and Orm Kings-brother heard of them, and proceeded to seek them; but the Birkibeins turned aside, for their force was small compared with that of King Magnus. King Sverri then addressed his men and thus spoke: —

“When we sailed with our force into Throndham to fight against the men of Nidaros it was done against my will. We lost men there, most valiant fellows. And now that our ill-luck has become known, we are chased and harassed wherever we go, and ail who know of our wretchedness think we are nobody of consequence. Before this battle, victory was always on our side, and men all dreaded to come to blows with us. You have learnt that King Magnus, now pursues us with a numerous force. We have only to let ourselves be driven by him over the land for a short time, and lo! the whole country, thane and thrall, will be upon us; our whole force will perish ingloriously, like all who fall in flight. It seems to me a braver course to confront our foes, though our band is not large. Even if we are overwhelmed by superior numbers, we may yet so behave as to obtain great renown in our fail, since we shall fight against King Magnus himself. But if we win a victory over him, then will our strength increase thereby. We must not expect to win this land and realm without seeing some time or other the banner of King Magnus on high. We have now been driven quite long enough from place to place, and endured many troubles from our enemies.”

King Sverri then spoke many encouraging words to his men, and urged them stoutly; his heart, he said, assured him of success. He thus put courage in his men, and much applause followed his words.

King Sverri’s success over King Magnus at the bridge over the Hirta [Hirtubru].

30. After this they marched forward until they had crossed the bridge over the river called Hirta, where they obtained accurate information that King Magnus was come near them. King Sverri made his men enter a thicket a little way from the bridge. King Magnus and Orm Kings-brother also had accurate information of the march of the Birkibeins, and when they arrived at the bridge, King Magnus straightway caused his banner to be carried over, and himself followed; Orm Kings-brother did likewise. As soon as King Magnus and a portion of his force had passed over the bridge, the Birkibeins made a violent attack on them. A sharp fight began, which did not last long before much of King Magnus’s force fell; he himself, and Orm Kings-brother also, fled back over the bridge, both wounded. King Magnus lost many men in the battle. After it was over, the two armies shot at each other for some time across the stream, and then drew away. King Magnus went back to Tunsberg to his ships, and afterwards sailed east coastwise. King Sverri marched up into Raumariki and east to Liodhus, overland. Here he learnt that King Magnus was at Konungahella, and he marched thither, arriving unexpectedly. Some fighting again occurred, but no great slaughter. King Magnus sailed away down the river, and King Sverri seized some ships and had them burnt. King Magnus then sailed into the Vik, and came to Oslo, where he abode for a time, and sent forth scouts as far as to the Elf. King Sverri brought all the eastern bailiwicks under his rule, and drew tribute from them. Both the Birkibeins and Heklungs were now in the Vik, and made frequent assaults on each other.

King Sverri’s success in another skirmish.

31. King Sverri led his force north in the Vik, to plan the gaining of some further advantage if opportunity offered. And one night, in order to get information, he himself with six men rode into a certain wood a short distance from Saurby. The same night a captain of King Magnus was on the march with fifty men, intending to slay, if he could, some of the Birkibeins. The night was dark, and King Sverri heard them on their ride, for the men had drunk plentifully of mead and were talkative, having no fear for themselves. Their road was no wider than permitted the men to ride in single file. Then King Sverri addressed his men and bade them keep silent. “We must have our bows ready,” he said, “and stand on both sides of the road. When they come right opposite, let every man shoot with all the speed he can. Possibly they may suppose our force more numerous than it is; but if we are overborne by superior numbers, we can then save ourselves.” So the Birkibeins shot their bolts with all speed, being guided by the voices of the foe, for it was so dark that no one could see before him, and those who rode behind were ignorant of what hindered those in front. So they crowded all together, not knowing what was the matter; and meanwhile the Birkibeins continued shooting as fast as possible. The enemy, thinking there must be many men in the wood, ran away as quickly as they could. The Birkibeins followed after, and chased them as long as they were able; and in the morning when it was light, returning to the spot, they found eighteen men slain, and many horses.

Winter in Throndham. Miraculous escape of King Sverri off Stad in the following spring [1179].

32. In the autumn King Sverri marched north to Throndham, and inflicted a heavy blow on the men of King Magnus at Kaupang [Nidaros], winning a victory and capturing ten ships.

The following spring he sailed down the Fiord with his force, and took the outside course, on the open sea, south to Moeri.

When he approached Stad from the north, he was met by a fleet of large ships, with a very great host on board, under King Magnus, Earl Erling, Archbishop Eystein, Orm Kings-brother, and many of the barons. As soon as the two fleets came in sight of one another, and King Sverri perceived the odds against him, he endeavoured to push out into the open sea, using both sails and oars to the utmost. King Magnus’s men observing this, hasted after him, likewise using their sails and rowing furiously. They gained on King Sverri, so that the ship under Earl Erling’s command came near enough to see the men on board King Sverri’s ships. The Earl then bade his men lay to and wait for the others. The ships having all come up, the Earl called out to the men on board and made arrangements for an attack. They were likely to have a battle with the Birkibeins, he said, and he bade his men in that case to remember what great injury the Birkibeins had done them by manslaughter and robbery. He bade them beware of presuming, any one of them, to give quarter to the Birkibeins, though he would like Sverri to be taken prisoner, if possible, and brought to him alive. To this they all agreed, and then unfurled the sails and pursued the fugitives. King Sverri now perceived that the ships of King Magnus were much swifter than his, and were gaining on them; and there appeared no way out of his difficulty, fitting well the occasion, unless God would grant them His mercy beyond what then seemed likely. He betook himself therefore to prayer, and called upon King Olaf the Saint, pleading for his men with much eloquence. And at that instant a mist came down on the sea, so thick that they could not see from one ship to another. King Magnus and Earl Erling, not being able to see their way, turned their ships round and sailed close up to shore. And the Earl said, “Luck fared not thus when it wished us well.” Their whole fleet now arrived at the Hereys, and the following day they learnt that the Birkibeins had sailed with five ships through the sounds, and gone towards the fiord. The Earl therefore summoned the chiefs for conference and counsel, and thus spoke: “I cannot tell whether the Birkibeins sailed north or south along the coast when they came near land, and it seems to me that we shall need to send a force both ways. I desire therefore that the Archbishop and Orm Kings-brother, with the barons and captains whom I shall name, proceed south to Bergen to defend the land there; King Magnus and I will sail north with the greater part of the host.” As the Earl directed, so they did.

The rival Kings at Nidaros. Proposals of King Sverri.

33. When Earl Erling and King Magnus reached Nord-Moeri they heard the tidings that King Sverri had sailed from the open sea, past Smyl and Aedey, and so to Knarrarskeid, from the north. Thence King Sverri sailed north to the entrance of Throndham, and afterwards up the Fiord to Kaupang, where he brought his ships to anchor close to the quays. King Magnus and Earl Erling sailed north in pursuit of him. And when King Sverri perceived the sails of their ships, now but a short distance from the town, he summoned his men to a meeting, at which he declared his intention to leave his ships and go on shore. “Let no man presume,” he said, “to take with him anything but his weapons, and the clothes in which he stands.” After that, the Birkibeins armed themselves and went up into the town. They left their ships afloat, with all the awnings spread, in front of the quays; the hammocks lay in their places; the cabin chests remained on the ships, and the keys were set in the lockers. The Birkibeins were marching inland over the bridge as King Magnus and Earl Erling rowed into the river. King Sverri himself used to say how great a boast it was to him that few instances could be found where men in flight had left behind them property or ships as his men had done; at a time, too, he said, when it was almost certain that others would in turn have the use of the property and clothes also. The fleet of King Magnus and Earl Erling was brought to anchor close to Brottu-eyri, outside Skipa-crook and the men landed there. As the Earl leapt on shore, he fell forward on his knees. Thrusting both hands into the ground, he said, “Fall portends fortunate journey.” Each captain, as he landed with his ship’s crew, arranged them in order and marched them up the street. The Earl and his troop were the first ready, and when he came beyond Kristskirk yard and the Bishop’s court to the bridge, he beheld King Sverri’s standard in rapid movement along the highroad to Kleppabu, and he supposed the King would be with it and the greater part of his force.

He therefore passed over the bridge to the Sprota-fields; but King Sverri, with the greater part of his force, lay in a valley a short distance from the bridge, above the lower Sandbreck. The Earl saw nought of King Sverri’s ambush, for his mind was bent on cutting off some of the rear; and when the Birkibeins sprang forward to attack, the Earl retreated to the bridge and over to the other side. The Birkibeins pursued his men right up to the fence that divides the end of the bridge from the town; but when the force of King Magnus and the Earl moved up to meet them, the Birkibeins turned back again over the bridge, and the armies exchanged shots across the river. The Earl then bade his men move out of range, and they sat down on the Akr and watched what the Birkibeins did. King Sverri and his men sat down on the other side on the river bank near Sandbreck, and so both armies remained a large part of the day. King Magnus’s men sent into the town to fetch ale. Many of the bowmen in both forces moved to the front to shoot at one another, and some of both sides were wounded. The day passed on, and when it was now the hour of Nones, King Sverri’s marshal, Gudlaug, advanced to the end of the bridge, holding his shield in front, and called out to King Magnus’s force, saying that he wished to speak with them if they would listen. Ivar Horti, one of King Magnus’s men, answered, saying that he would listen to whatever was said; and Gudlaug thus began: “King Sverri wishes to make three offers to King Magnus, Earl Erling, and, with them, to all their force. This is the first: if they will come over the bridge, King Sverri will retire with ail his force to a distance, while the Earl arranges his men as shall seem good; let us join battle on the Sprota-fields, and let the side win that God wills. If King Magnus and Earl Erling will not accept this offer, King Sverri makes a second: if they will go out of the town to the castle and draw their men up in battle array on a fair open ground, we Birkibeins will pass over the bridge to you and leave the issue to fortune. If they will accept neither of these offers, there is yet a third: let them go out to Eyra, near their ships, and draw up in battle array as shall seem good, and we Birkibeins will pass through the town to encounter them. For King Sverri wishes to join battle now, if he has the opportunity.” Then Ivar withdrew from the bank of the river to the Akr, and having found the Earl, delivered the message to him. King Magnus was near the Earl at the time, asleep, and the Earl, clapping him on the back with his hand, bade him awake. The King asked what was the matter, and the Earl told him of the offers that Priest Sverri had made. King Magnus bade the Earl choose, but the Earl said he would not choose any one of them. He would rather offer terms to Priest Sverri, he said, than have them offered by Sverri to him. Then Ivar went and bore the Earl’s answer to Gudlaug, and Gudlaug returned and told it to the Birkibeins. They now crowded together for a while, and afterwards began their march, by King Sverri’s direction, along the way on the east side of the river to Kleppabu They so ordered their going that they walked in single file, and the force appeared to be very numerous, for the last man was long in starting. So the two armies separated for the present.

King Sverri now led his men along the river to a homestead called Kot, where they pulled down a building to get material for a float On this float they passed over the river Nid, and about the sixth hour of the afternoon they marched over Thiodmoors and came down to Staf. Here they crossed the Gaul on small ferry-boats; and when they had reached the other side the King bade his men take rest, saying that he felt heavy and wished to sleep. He soon fell asleep, and at supper-time a yeoman came up with packs of malt which he intended to sell in the town. The Birkibeins crowded around him, pretending they would buy the malt. The King awoke, and inquired what was the matter. Being told that a yeoman was there with malt, he said he would like to see him. And the King said to him, “We will not stop your journey to the town; but tell them the truth, that you met with the Birkibeins on the other side of the Gaul, and they intended to pass the night at Medalhus.” So the man went his way, and the Birkibeins stayed there three or four nights before they advanced to the town a second time.

Earl Erling is forewarned of King Sverri’s attack.

34 One day after the Earl had taken his evening meal, Sigurd Nikolasson and Jon of Randaberg came to him; and Sigurd asked him if the outposts were stationed. “We are told, Sire,’ he said, “that the Birkibeins will shortly pay us a visit. I would advise that we summon our whole force under arms to the castle and be ready for them if they visit us here. We believe it true that they have come into Gaulardale, and some say that they are making their way to the fell. But it is none the less likely, so we are certainly told, that they intend to attack us here.”

“I wish it were true with all my heart,” answered the Earl, “that they are coming here; I expect their errand would meet with a fit reception. But I think you may sleep the night through without fear of the Birkibeins, for they must have turned to the fell, I am told. Sverri will not venture to attack us here, if we are on our guard, as is the case now.” Then Jon of Randaberg spoke: “The Earls promise, that we need not fear the Birkibeins, ought to presage good to us. But some men there are, Sire, who say that you give yourself to excess in mead and wine rather than to devising firm purposes for the good of your men.” And the Earl answered in much anger: