The Complete

Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda

Legendary Sagas of the Northland

in English Translation

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Þáttr af Ragnars Sonum

The Tale of Ragnar’s Sons
© Peter Tunstall, 2005
1. Upphaf Ragnars konungs

1. King Ragnar

Eptir dauða Hrings konungs tók Ragnarr, sonr hans, konungdóm yfir Svía veldi ok Dana. Þá gengu margir konungar á ríkin ok lögðu undir. En því at hann var ungr maðr ok þeim sýndist hann lítt fallinn til ráðagerðar eða landstjórnar, þá var einn jarl í Vestra-Gautlandi, er Herrauðr hét. Hann var jarl Ragnars konungs. Manna var hann vitrastr ok hermaðr mikill. Hann átti eina dóttur, er Þóra borgarhjörtr var kölluð. Hún var allra kvenna fríðust, þeira er konungr hafði spurt til.

Jarlinn, faðir hennar, hafði gefit henni einn yrmling í morgingjöf. Hún fæddi hann fyrst í eski sínu. En þessi ormr varð svá mikill um síðir, at hann lá í kring um skemmuna ok beit í sporð sér. Hann gerðist þá svá ólmr, at menn þorðu eigi at koma nær skemmunni nema þeir, er honum gáfu mat eða þjónuðu jarls dóttur, en hann át uxa um dag. Fólkit óttaðist mjök, ok vissu, at hann mundi mikinn skaða gera, svá mikill ok ólmr sem hann var þá orðinn. Jarl strengdi þá þess heit at bragarfulli, at hann skyldi þeim einum manni gifta dóttur sína, Þóru, er dræpi orminn eða þyrði at ganga til tals við hana fyrir orminum.

Ok er Ragnarr konungr spyrr þessi tíðendi, þá ferr hann í Vestra-Gautland. Ok er hann átti skammt til býjar jarlsins, þá fór hann í rögguð klæði, brækr ok kápu, ok ermar á ok höttr. Þau klæði váru þæfð með sand ok tjöru ok tók í hönd sér eitt mikit spjót, en var gyrðr sverði, ok gekk svá einn frá sínum mönnum ok til býjar jarlsins ok skemmu Þóru. Ok þegar ormrinn sá, at þar var kominn ókunnr maðr, þá reistist hann upp ok blés eitri móti honum. En hann skaut móti skildinum ok gekk at honum djarfliga ok lagði hann með spjóti í hjartat. Ok síðan brá hann sínu sverði ok hjó af orminum höfuðit, ok fór þat svá sem segir í sögu Ragnars konungs, at hann fekk síðan Þóru borgarhjört.

Ok síðan lagðist hann í hernað ok frelsti allt sitt ríki. Hann átti með Þóru tvá syni. Hét annarr Eiríkr, en annarr Agnarr. Ok er þeir váru nokkurra vetra gamlir, þá tekr Þóra sótt ok andaðist. Síðan fekk Ragnarr Áslaugar, er sumir kalla Randalín, dóttur Sigurðar Fáfnisbana ok Brynhildar Buðladóttur. Þau áttu fjóra syni. Ívarr beinlausi var ellstr, þá Björn járnsíða, þá Hvítserkr, þá Sigurðr. Þat var mark í auga honum, at svá var sem ormr lægi um sjáldrit, ok því var hann kallaðr Sigurðr ormr í auga.

After the death of King Hring, his son Ragnar came to power in Sweden and Denmark. Then many kings came to the kingdom and seized land. And because he was a young man, they thought he would also be unfit for decision making or governing the country. There was a jarl in West Gautland who was called Herraud. He was a vassal of King Ragnar. He was the wisest man there was and a great warrior. He had a daughter, who was called Thora Hart-of-the-Town. She was the fairest of all women that the king had heard tell of.

The jarl, her father, had given her a baby snake for a present one morning. To begin with, she kept it in a box. But in time, this snake got so big that it coiled right round the bower and bit its own tail. It grew so fierce then that no one dared come near the bower, except her servants and those who fed it, and it ate an ox a day. Folk were very scared, and they could see that it would do great harm, so big and fierce had it become. The jarl made this solemn vow at the bragarfull, the ceremony of the chief’s cup, that he would give his daughter Thora in marriage to none but the man who could kill that snake, or who dared go and talk with her there in front of the snake.

And when King Ragnar hears this news, he goes to West Gautland. And when he had just a little way to go to the jarl’s dwelling, he donned shaggy clothes: trousers and a cloak with sleeves and hood. These clothes were treated with sand and tar, and he took in his hand a great spear, and had a sword on his belt, and in this way he left his men and walked alone to the jarl’s dwelling and Thora’s bower. And as soon as the snake saw that a stranger had come, it reared up and blew poison at him. But he thrust his shield at it and went bravely towards it and pierced its heart with his spear. Then he drew his sword and cut off the serpent’s head. And it turned out just as it says in the Saga of King Ragnar: he married Thora Hart-of-the-Town.

And afterwards he went to war and liberated the whole kingdom. He had two sons with Thora, one called Eirik, the other Agnar. And when they were a few years old, Thora takes sick and she died. After that, Ragnar married Aslaug, whom some call Randalin, the daughter of Sigurd Fafnir’s Bane and Brynhild Budli’s daughter. They had four sons. Ivar Boneless was the eldest, then Bjorn Ironside, then Hvitserk, then Sigurd. There was a mark is his eye, as if a snake lay around the pupil, and that’s why he was called Sigurd Snake-in-Eye.

2. Fall Ragnarssona inna eldri 2. The Death of Ragnar’s Elder Sons

Nú er synir Ragnars váru vaxnir, þá herjuðu þeir víða um lönd. Þeir bræðr Eiríkr ok Agnarr fóru í öðrum stað, en í þriðja stað fóru þeir Ívarr ok þeir inir yngri bræðr hans með honum, ok gerði hann ráð fyrir þeim, því at hann var forvitri. Þeir lögðu undir sik Selund ok Reiðgotaland, Eygotaland ok Eyland ok öll smálönd í hafinu. Settist þá Ívarr með inum yngrum bræðrum sínum af Hleiðru á Selundi, ok var þat þó móti vilja Ragnars konungs. Fóru synir hans með hernaði allir, því at þeir vildu eigi ófrægri vera en Ragnarr konungr, faðir þeira.

Þat líkaði Ragnari konungi illa, er synir hans heldu móti honum ok tóku skattlönd hans móti hans vilja. Hann setti þann konung yfir UppSvíaveldi, er Eysteinn beli hét, ok bað hann halda því ríki sér til handa, en verja fyrir sonum sínum, ef þeir kallaði til.

Þat var eitt sumar, er Ragnarr konungr var farinn með her í Austrveg, at Eiríkr ok Agnarr, synir hans, kómu til Svíþjóðar ok heldu skipum sínum upp í Löginn. Gerðu þeir þá boð Eysteini konungi til Uppsala, at hann kæmi til þeira. Ok er þeir fundust, sagði Eiríkr, at hann vildi, at Eysteinn konungr heldi Svíaríki undir þá bræðr, ok kveðst þá fá vilja Borghildar, dóttur hans, ok segir, at þá megu þeir vel halda því ríki fyrir Ragnari konungi. Eysteinn kveðst þetta vilja tjá innanlands höfðingjum, ok skildust þeir svá. Ok er Eysteinn konungr bar þetta mál upp, þá urðu allir landsmenn á þat sáttir at verja landit fyrir sonum Ragnars, ok dregst nú saman óvígr herr, ok ferr Eysteinn konungr móti Ragnars sonum. Ok er þeir finnast, verðr þar mikil orrosta, ok verða nú synir Loðbrókar ofrliði bornir, ok fellr svá lið þeira bræðra, at fátt eitt stóð upp. Þá fell ok Agnarr, en Eiríkr varð handtekinn.

Eysteinn konungr bauð Eiríki grið ok svá mikit fé af Uppsala veldi fyrir Agnar, bróður sinn, sem sjálfr vildi hann, ok þar með dóttur sína, þá er áðr hafði hann beðit. Eiríkr vildi engar fébætr ok eigi konungs dóttur, ok eigi kveðst hann vilja lifa eptir þann ósigr, er hann hafði fengit, en þat kveðst hann þiggja vilja, at hann kjósi sér sjálfr dauðdaga. Ok af því at Eysteinn konungr mátti enga sætt fá af Eiríki, þá játtar hann honum þat.

Eiríkr bað, at þeir tæki undir hann spjótsoddum ok hefi hann svá upp yfir allan valinn. Þá kvað Eiríkr:


  • "Vilkat boð fyr bróður né baugum mey kaupa, Eystein kveða orðinn Agnars bana, heyra; grætr eigi mik móðir, munk efstr of val deyja, ok geirtré í gögnum gerr, látið mik standa."

     

     

    Ok áðr hann væri hafinn upp á spjótin, þá sá hann einn mann ríða mikit. Þá kvað hann:


  •  

     

    "Þau berið orð it efra, eru austrfarar liðnar, at mær hafi mína mjó, Áslaugu, bauga; þá mun mest af móði, ef mik spyrja dauðan, mín stjúpmóðir mildum mögum sínum til segja."

     

     

     

    Var nú svá gert, at Eiríki var lypt upp á spjótsoddunum, ok dó hann svá uppi yfir valnum.

    Ok er þessi tíðendi spyrjast út á Selund til Áslaugar, þá ferr hún þegar á fund sona sinna ok segir þeim þessi tíðendi. Þeir Björn ok Hvítserkr léku tafl, en Sigurðr stóð at framan. Þá kvað Áslaug:


  • "Eigi mundi yðar, ef ér dæið fyrri, eitt misseri eptir óhefnt vera, bræðra; lítt ráðumk því leyna, ef líf hafa knætti Eiríkr sitt ok Agnarr óbornir mér niðjar."

     

     

     

    Þá svaraði Sigurðr ormr í auga:

  • "Þat skal þriggja vikna, ef þik tregar, móðir, leið eigu vér langa, leiðangr búinn verða; skal Uppsölum eigi þótt ófafé bjóði, ef oss duga eggjar Eysteinn beli ráða."

     

     

     

     

     

    Þá kvað Björn járnsíða:

  • "Duga mun hugr ok hjarta í hauksnöru brjósti, þótt minnr um þat mæli, manni innan rifja; eigi er oss í augum ormr né fránir snákar, bræðr glöddu mik mínir, mank stjúpsonu þína."

     

     

     

     

    Þá svaraði Hvítserkr:

    "Hyggjum at, áðr heitim, at hefnt megi verða; látum ýmsa illu, Agnars bana, fagna; hrindum húf á hrannir, höggum ís fyr barði, sjám á hitt, hvé snekkjur snemmst vér fáim búnar."

     

     

     

     

    Þá kvað Ívarr beinlausi:

    "Hafið ofrhuga ærinn ok áræði bæði, þess mundi þá þurfa, at þrá mikit fylgdi; bera mun mik fyr bragna beinlausan fram verða, þó gatk hönd til hefnda, at hváriga nýtak."

     

     

     

     

     

    Eptir þat drógu Ragnars synir saman óvígan her. Ok er þeir váru búnir, þá fóru þeir með skipaher til Svíþjóðar, en Áslaug drottning ferr með fimmtán hundruðum riddara landveg, ok var þat fólk allvel búit. Sjálf bar hún herklæði ok var formaðr þess hers ok kallaðist Randalín, ok mætast þau í Svíþjóð ok ræna ok brenna, hvar sem þau fara yfir.

    Þetta spyrr Eysteinn konungr ok safnar her í móti þeim, hverjum þeim manni, er vígr var í hans ríki. Ok er þeir mætast, verðr þar mikil orrosta, ok fá Loðbrókar synir sigr, en Eysteinn konungr fell, ok spyrst þetta ok verðr mjök frægt.

    Ragnarr konungr, þar sem hann var í hernaði, spyrr þetta ok líkar stórilla við sonu sína, at þeir létu eigi hefndina bíða hans. Ok er hann kom heim í ríki sitt, þá segir hann Áslaugu, at hann skal gera eigi minna frægðarverk en synir hans höfðu þá gert. "Hefi ek nú flest allt þat ríki aptr unnit undir mik, er mínir forellrismenn hafa átt, utan England eigi, ok því hefi ek nú látit gera knörru tvá í Líðum á Vestfold," því at hans ríki stóð allt til Dofrafjalls ok Líðandisness.

    Áslaug svaraði: "Mörg langskip máttu þér hafa gera látit með verði þessa knarra. Vitu þér ok, at stórskipum er ekki gott at halda at Englandi sakir straums ok útgrynnis, ok er þetta ekki vitrliga ráðit."

    En allt at einu ferr Ragnarr konungr með þessum knörrum vestr til Englands með fimm hundruð manna ok brýtr bæði skipin við England, en sjálfr hann ok allr herr hans kom heill á land. Tekr hann nú at herja, hvar sem hann ferr.

    Now when Ragnar’s sons were fully grown, they went raiding far and wide. The brothers Eirek and Agnar were second in rank after Ragnar, and Ivar third with his younger brothers, and he was the leader because he was very clever. They conquered Zealand and Reidgotaland, Gotland, and Öland and all the smaller islands in the sea. Then Ivar set himself up at Hleidargard in Zealand with his younger brothers, but that went against the will of King Ragnar. His sons all went warring, because they didn’t want to be any less famous than their father the king.

    King Ragnar wasn’t too pleased about this, that his sons had turned against him and taken his tributary lands against his will. He set up a man called Eystein Beli as king over Upper Sweden, and told him to hold the realm for him and guard it from his sons, if they laid claim to it.

    One summer, when King Ragnar had gone east over the Baltic with his army, his sons Eirik and Agnar came to Sweden and brought their ships into Lake Mälaren. Then they sent word to King Eystein in Uppsala, telling him to come to them. And when they met, Eirik said that he wanted Eystein to govern Sweden under the brothers, and adds that he wants to marry Eystein’s daughter Borghild, and says that then they’ll be well able to hold the kingdom against King Ragnar. Eystein tells them that he wants to consult the Swedish chieftains, so with that they part. And when King Eystein raised this matter, the chieftains were all of one mind: to defend the land from Ragnar’s sons. And they bring together now an overwhelming host, and King Eystein marches against Ragnar’s sons. And when they clash, a great battle ensues and Lodbrok’s sons are overwhelmed by superior numbers, and their troops fall in such numbers that hardly any were left standing. Then Agnar fell too, and Eirik was captured.

    King Eystein offered peace to Eirik and as much of the wealth of Uppsala as he wanted in compensation for his brother Agnar and, along with that, he could have his daughter Borghild, just as he’d asked. Eirik didn’t want any money, and he didn’t want the king’s daughter, and he says he doesn’t want to live after such a defeat as he’s just had. But this, he said, this is what he would accept: to choose for himself the day of his death. And since King Eystein couldn’t get any settlement out of Eirik, he agreed to that.

    Eirik asked them to catch him from below on spear-points and so lift him up above all the slain. Then chanted Eirik:

    “Don’t care, cur, to hear you,

    killer if you offer;

    (Eystein, they say, slew Agnar)

    I don’t want your daughter.

    To mourn me I’ve no mother;

    make haste, hey!, impale me.

    I’ll die over host hoisted,

    highest o’er the slaughter.”

    And before he was lifted up on the spears, he saw a man riding hard. Then he said:

    “Send word to my slender

    sweet stepmother, greet her:

    (my forays east are ended)

    say all my rings are hers.

    Great will grow their anger

    when they get to know it,

    when she brings her bounteous

    boys news of my demise.”

    Now it was done, just as he’d said: Eirik was raised up on the spear-points, and he died thus, up above the slain.

    And when word of this reaches Aslaug in Zealand, she goes at once to see her sons and tells them the news. Bjorn and Hvitserk were playing tafl, and Sigurd was stood in front. Then said Aslaug:

    “I doubt, if they’d made it,

    and you lot had fallen,

    (with loved ones not living)

    they’d let you go forgotten

    I say and make no secret

    six whole months sans vengeance,

    if Eirik lived, and Agnar—

    I who never bore them.”

    Then Sigurd Snake-in-Eye answered:

    “In three weeks we’ll be through with

    (if that grieves you, mother)

    (long the way that waits us)

    war-readying of levies.

    Eystein’s rule’s soon over

    —even if he offers

    payments big and brazen—

    if our blades prove true then.

    Then said Bjorn Ironside:

    “Heart will hold, heroic,

    in a hawk-keen torso:

    doughty, daring, though I

    don’t shout out about it,

    nor snakes nor beady serpents

    sit in my eyes spiralled.

    Those men made me merry:

    your stepsons I remember.”

    Then answered Hvitserk:

    “Let’s plan, before vowing,

    how vengeance might be managed,

    various vile torments

    devise for Agnar’s killer;

    heave hulls onto billows,

    hew ice aside, slice it.

    Let’s see whose sloop’s scrambled,

    schooners to sea, soonest.

    Then Ivar Boneless said:

    “Pluck you have in plenty

    and pith as well with it:

    let’s trust too you’re stubborn,

    as tough heads are needed.

    I’m borne before my fighters

    forward though I’m boneless,

    I have hands for vengeance,

    though hardly strength in either.”

    After that, Ragnar’s sons mustered an overwhelming army. And when they were ready, they went with a fleet to Sweden, while Queen Aslaug goes overland with fifteen hundred knights, and that host was well equipped. She wore armour herself and commanded the army, and they called her Randalin, and they meet up in Sweden and plunder and burn wherever they go.

    King Eystein hears word of this and raises an army against them, with every man of fighting age who was in his realm. And when they met, a mighty battle ensued, and Lodbrok’s sons had the victory, and King Eystein fell, and news of this battle spreads far and wide, and very famous it becomes.

    Out campaigning, King Ragnar hears of it, and he’s less than happy with his sons, as they’d taken revenge without waiting for him. And when he comes home to his realm, he says to Aslaug that he’ll do deeds no less famous than his sons have done. “I’ve now won back almost all the lands that my forebears held, but not England. And that’s why I’ve now had two knorrs[1] made at Lidum in Vestfold”

    —his kingdom reached all the way to Dovrefjell and Lindesnes.

    Aslaug answered, “You could have had many longships[2] made for

    the price of these knorrs. And besides, you know that big ships are no good for going to England, with all the streams and shallows there, and this is not well thought out.”

    But all the same, King Ragnar goes west to England in these knorrs with five hundred men and both ships are wrecked in England, but Ragnar himself and all his crew came safely ashore. He takes now to harrying wherever he goes.

    3. Fall Ragnars ok hefnd sona hans 3. The Fall of Ragnar and the Vengeance of his Sons

    Í þann tíma réð sá konungr fyrir Norðhumbrulandi, er Ella hét. Ok er hann spyrr, at herr er kominn í ríki hans, þá safnar hann miklu liði ok ferr móti honum með óvígan her, ok verðr þar orrosta mikil ok hörð. Ragnarr konungr var yst í silkihjúp þeim, er Áslaug gaf honum at skilnaði. En því at landherrinn var mikill, svá at ekki mátti við haldast, þá fell náliga allt fólk hans, en hann gekk sjálfr vel fjórum sinnum í gegnum fylking Ellu konungs, en ekki járn festi á silkiskyrtu hans. Varð hann um síðir handtekinn ok settr í einn ormgarð, ok vildu ormarnir ekki koma nær honum. Ella konungr sá, at hann bitu eigi járn um daginn, er þeir börðust, ok nú vildu eigi ormarnir granda honum. Þá lét hann fletta af honum klæði þat, er hann hafði yst haft um daginn, ok þegar hengu ormarnir á honum alla vega, ok lét hann þar líf sitt með miklum hraustleik.

    Ok er synir Ragnars konungs spyrja þessi tíðendi, þá fara þeir vestr til Englands ok berjast við Ellu konung. Ok af því at Ívarr vildi eigi berjast ok ekki hans fólk, en landherrinn var drjúgr, þá fengu þeir ósigr ok flýðu til skipa ok fóru við svá búit heim til Danmarkar.

    En Ívarr var eptir í Englandi ok fór á fund Ellu konungs ok beiddist af honum bóta fyrir föður sinn. Ok því at Ella konungr sá, at Ívarr vildi eigi berjast með bræðrum sínum í móti honum, þá þótti honum trúligt at gera sætt við hann. Ívarr bað konung gefa honum svá mikit af landi í föðurgjöld sem hann breiddi yfir ina mestu öldungshuð, því at hann segir sér eigi vel munu fritt at fara heim fyrir bræðrum sínum. Ellu þótti þetta eigi ótrúligt, ok bundu þeir með þessu sætt sína. Tekr Ívarr nú húðina hráblauta ok lætr þenja sem mest. Ok síðan lætr hann rista húðina í inn mjóvasta streng ok klýfr síðan sér hvárt, hárham ok holdrosu. Síðan lætr hann draga um einn sléttan völl ok marka þar um utan grundvöll. Hann reisir þar á sterka borgarveggi, ok er sú borg nú kölluð Jórvík. Hann vingaðist við allt landsfólk ok mest við höfðingja, ok svá kom, at allir höfðingjar hétu honum trúnaði ok bræðrum hans.

    Síðan sendir hann boð til bræðra sinna ok segir, at þá er meiri ván, at þeir megi hefna föður síns, ef þeir koma með her til Englands. Ok er þeir spyrja þat, bjóða þeir her út ok halda til Englands. Ok er Ívarr verðr þess varr, ferr hann þegar á fund Ellu konungs ok segir, at hann vill eigi leyna hann slíkum tíðendum, en segir, at hann má eigi berjast móti bræðrum sínum, en þó vill hann fara á fund þeira ok leita um sættir. Konungr þiggr þetta. Kemr Ívarr á fund bræðra sinna ok eggjar þá at hefna föður síns ok ferr síðan aptr til Ellu konungs ok segir, at þeir eru svá ólmir ok óðir, at þeir vilja fyrir hvetvetna fram berjast. Konungi sýnist þetta inn mesti trúleiki, er Ívarr gerði. Ferr hann nú móti þeim bræðrum með sinn her.

    Ok er þeir koma saman, þá snerust margir höfðingjar frá konunginum ok til Ívars. Varð konungr þá borinn ofrliði, svá at mikill þorri liðs hans fell, en sjálfr varð hann handtekinn. Ívarr ok þeir bræðr minntust nú, hversu faðir þeira var píndr. Létu þeir nú rista örn á baki Ellu ok skera síðan rifin öll frá hrygginum með sverði, svá at þar váru lungun út dregin. Svá segir Sighvatr skáld í Knútsdrápu:


  • "Ok Ellu bak at lét hinns sat Ívarr ara Jórvík skorit."

     

     

    Eptir þessa orrostu gerðist Ívarr konungr yfir þeim hluta Englands, sem hans frændr höfðu fyrri átt. Hann átti þá tvá bræðr frilluborna, en annarr hét Yngvarr, en annarr Hústó. Þeir pínuðu Játmund konung inn helga eptir boði Ívars, ok lagði hann síðan undir sik hans ríki.

    Loðbrókar synir fóru um mörg lönd með hernaði: England ok Valland ok Frakkland ok út um Lúmbardí. En svá er sagt, at þar hafi þeir framast komit, er þeir unnu þá borg, er Lúna heitir. Ok um eina stund ætluðu þeir at fara til Rómaborgar ok vinna hana, ok hefir þeira hernaðr frægstr verit um öll Norðrlönd af danskri tungu. Ok er þeir koma aptr í Danmörk í ríki sitt, þá skipta þeir löndum með sér. Tók Björn járnsíða Uppsala ríki ok alla Svíþjóð ok þat, er þar til heyrir, en Sigurðr ormr í auga hafði Selund ok Skáni ok Halland ok alla Víkina ok Agðir tll Líðandisness ok mikinn þorra af Upplöndum, en Hvítserkr hafði Reiðgotaland ok Vindland.

    Sigurðr ormr í auga átti Blæju, dóttur Ellu konungs. Þeira sonr var Knútr, er kallaðr var Hörða-Knútr, er ríki tók eptir föður sinn í Selund, Skáni ok Hallandi, en Víkin hvarf þá undan honum. Hann átti þann son, er Gormr hét. Hann var heitinn eptir fóstra hans, syni Knúts fundna. Hann helt allt land af sonum Ragnars, meðan þeir váru í hernaði. Gormr Knútsson var allra manna mestr ok sterkastr ok inn mesti atgervimaðr um alla hluti, en ekki var hann svá vitr sem verit höfðu inir fyrri frændr hans.

    At that time, there was a king called Ella ruling over Northumbria in England. And when he learns that raiders have come to his kingdom, he musters a mighty force and marches against Ragnar with an overwhelming host, and hard and terrible battle ensues. King Ragnar was clad in the silken jacket Aslaug had given him at their parting. But as the defending army was so big that nothing could withstand them, so almost all his men were killed, but he himself charged four times through the ranks of King Ella, and iron just glanced off his silk shirt. Finally he was taken captive and put in a snake-pit, but the snakes wouldn’t come near him. King Ella had seen during the day, as they fought, that iron didn’t bite him, and now the snakes won’t harm him. So he had him stripped of the clothes that he’d been wearing on the day, and at once snakes were hanging off him on all sides, and he left his life there with much courage.

    And when the sons of King Ragnar hear this news, they head west to England and fight with King Ella. But since Ivar wouldn’t fight, nor his men, and moreover the English army was immense, they were defeated and fled to their ships and home to Denmark, leaving it at that.

    But Ivar stayed in England and went to see King Ella and asked to be compensated for his father. And because King Ella had seen that Ivar didn’t want to fight alongside his brothers, he took this for a genuine offer of peace. Ivar asked the king to give him in compensation as much land as he could cover with the biggest old bull-hide he could find, because, he says, he can’t very well go home in peace to his brothers if he doesn’t get anything. This all seemed above board to Ella and they agree to these terms. Ivar now takes a fresh supple bull-skin and has it stretched out as thin as can be. And then he has the hide sliced into the finest string, and he then splits the flesh-side from the hair-side for himself. Then he has it pulled around a flat stretch of land and marked out foundations. He builds strong city walls, and that town is now called York. He makes alliances with all the people of the country and especially with the leaders, and eventually all the chiefs around pledged loyalty to him and his brothers.

    Then he sends word to his brothers and says it’s more likely they’ll be able to avenge their father now if they come with an army to England. And when they hear that, they order out the army and make for England. And as soon as Ivar learns they’re on their way, he goes to King Ella and says that he doesn’t want to keep such news a secret, but he can’t really fight against his own brothers; nevertheless he’ll go and talk to them and try to make peace. The king agrees. Ivar goes to meet his brothers and incites them to avenge their father, and then goes back to King Ella and says that they’re so savage and crazed with fury that they want to fight no matter what. As far as the king can see, Ivar is acting with the utmost faith. Now Ella goes against the bothers with his army.

    But when they clash, a good many leaders leave the king and go over to Ivar. The king was outnumbered then, so that the greater part of his forces fell, while he himself was taken captive. Ivar and the brothers now recall how their father was tortured. They now had the eagle cut in Ella’s back, then all his ribs severed from the backbone with a sword, in such a way that his lungs were pulled out there. As Sighvat says in the poem Knutsdrapa:

    “Ivar, he who

    held court at York,

    had eagle hacked

    in Ella’s back.”

    After this battle, Ivar made himself king over that part of England which his forbears had owned before him. He had two brothers born out of wedlock, one called Yngvar, the other Husto. They tortured King Edmund the Saint on Ivar’s orders, and then he took his kingdom.

    The sons of Lodbrok went raiding in many lands: England, Normandy, France, and out over Lombardy. But it’s said the furthest they got was when they took the town of Luni. And one time they thought of going to Rome and taking that. And their warrings have become the most famous in all the northlands where Norse is spoken. And when they come back to their realm in Denmark, they shared out the lands between them. Bjorn Ironside got Uppsala and central Sweden and all the lands that belong to that, and it’s told that Sigurd Snake-in-Eye had Zealand and Scania and Halland, and Oslo Fjord, and Agder as far as Lindesnes and a good portion of the Norwegian Uplands, while Hvitserk had Reidgotaland and Wendland.

    Sigurd Snake-in-Eye married Blaeja, the daughter of King Ella. Their son was Knut, who was called Horda-Knut, who succeeded his father in Zealand, Scania and Halland, but Oslo Fjord broke away from his rule. Gorm was his son. He was named after his foster father, the son of Knut the Foundling. He governed all the lands of Ragnar’s sons while they were away at war. Gorm Knutsson was the biggest of men and the strongest and the most impressive in every respect, but he wasn’t as wise as his forebears had been.

    4. Frá Danakonungum ok Englakonungum 4. Of King Gorm

    Gormr tók konungdóm eptir föður sinn. Hann fekk Þyri, er kölluð var Danmarkarbót, dóttur KlakkHaralds, er konungr var í Jótlandi. En er Haraldr var andaðr, þá tók Gormr þat ríki allt undir sik. Gormr konungr fór með her yfir allt Jótland ok eyddi öllum neskonungum allt suðr til Slés, ok svá vann hann mikit af Vindlandi, ok margar orrostur átti hann við Saxa, ok gerðist hann inn ríkasti konungr. Hann átti tvá syni. Hét inn ellri Knútr, en Haraldr inn yngri. Knútr var allra þeira manna fegrstr, er menn hafa sét. Konungr unni honum um fram hvern mann ok þar með öll alþýða. Hann var kallaðr Danaást. Haraldr líktist í móðurætt sína, ok unni móðir hans honum eigi minna en Knúti.

    Ívarr inn beinlausi var lengi konungr í Englandi. Hann átti ekki barn, því at hann var svá skapaðr, at honum fylgdi engi girnd né ást, en eigi skorti hann spekt eða grimmd, ok varð hann ellidauðr á Englandi ok var þar heygðr. Þá váru allir Loðbrókar synir dauðir. Eptir Ívar tók konungdóm í Englandi Aðalmundr. Hann var bróðursonr Játmundar ins helga, ok kristnaði hann víða England. Hann tók skatta af Norðhumrulandi, því at þat var heiðit. Eptir hann tók konungdóm sonr hans, er Aðalbrigt hét. Hann var góðr konungr ok varð gamall.

    Ofarliga á hans dögum kom Danaherr til Englands, ok váru formenn hersins Knútr ok Haraldr, synir Gorms konungs. Þeir lögðu undir sik mikit ríki í Norðhumrulandi, þat er Ívarr hafði átt. Aðalbrigt konungr fór móti þeim, ok börðust þeir fyrir norðan Kliflönd, ok fell þar margt af Dönum. Ok nokkuru síðar gengu Danir upp við Skarðaborg ok börðust þar ok fengu sigr. Síðan fóru þeir suðr til Jórvíkr, ok gekk þar undir þá allt fólk, ok uggðu þeir þá ekki at sér. Ok einn dag, er heitt veðr var, fóru menn á sund. Ok svá sem konungssynir váru á sundi millim skipanna, hlupu menn af landi ofan ok skutu á þá. Var þá Knútr lostinn öru til bana, ok tóku þeir líkit ok fluttu út á skip. Ok er landsmenn spyrja þetta, safnast þeir saman, svá at síðan fá Danir engar uppgöngur sakir safnaðar landsmanna ok fara síðan heim aptr til Danmarkar.

    Gormr konungr var þá á Jótlandi. Ok er hann spurði þessi tíðendi, þá hné hann aptr ok sprakk af harmi annan dag eptir at jafnlengd. Þá tók konungdóm eptir hann yfir Danaveldi Haraldr, sonr hans. Hann tók fyrstr trú ok skírn sinna ættmanna.

    Gorm took the kingship after his father. He married Thyri, who was called Denmark’s Saviour, daughter of Klakk-Harald, who was king in Jutland. But when Harald died, Gorm took all of Harald’s realm under his rule too. King Gorm went with his host over the whole of Jutland and abolished all the petty kings as far south as the River Schlei, and thus seized much of Wendland, and he fought great battles against the Saxons and became a mighty king. He had two sons. The eldest was called Knut, and the younger one Harald. Knut was the most handsome man ever seen. The king loved him above any other man, and so did all the people. He was called The Love of the Danes. Harald resembled his mother’s kin and his mother loved him no less than Knut.

    Ivar the Boneless was king in England for a long time. He had no children, because of the way he was: with no lust or love—but he wasn’t short of cunning and cruelty. And he died of old-age in England and was buried there. Then all Ragnar’s sons were dead. After Ivar, Adalmund, the son of Saint Edmund’s brother, took the kingship in England and converted large parts of it to Christianity. He took tribute from Northumbria, because that was heathen. His son, Adalbrigt, ruled after him. He was a good king and lived to an old age.

    Towards the end of his time, a Danish army came to England, and the leaders of the army were Knut and Harald, the sons of King Gorm. They seized large parts of the kingdom in Northumbria, which Ivar had owned. King Adalbrigt marched against them and they fought north of Cleveland, and a great many Danes fell there. And a little later, the Danes went up to Scarborough and fought there and won. Then they marched south to York and the whole populous accepted their rule, and they had no fear. And one day, when the weather was hot, the men went bathing in the sea. And as the king’s sons were also swimming between the ships, some men rushed down from the land and shot at them. Knut was mortally wounded with an arrow, and they took the body and carried it out to the ship. And when the English hear that, they gather their forces, so that the Danes can’t get ashore, due to the Englishmen gathered there. So after that they go back home to Denmark.

    King Gorm was in Jutland at the time. And when he heard these tidings, he collapsed and he died of grief at the same hour the following day. Then Harald, his son, ruled in Denmark. He was the first of his kin to take the faith and be baptised.

    5. Frá Sigurði hirti ok Haka konungi

       5. The Fall of Sigurd Hart

    Sigurðr ormr í auga ok Björn járnsíða ok Hvítserkr höfðu herjat víða um Frakkland. Þá sneri Björn heim til ríkis síns. Eptir þat barðist örnúlfr keisari við þá bræðr, ok fell þá af Dönum ok Norðmönnum hundrað þúshundraða. Þar fell þá Sigurðr ormr í auga, ok Guðröðr hét annarr konungr, er þar fell. Hann var sonr Óláfs Hringssonar, Ingjaldssonar, Ingasonar, Hringssonar, er Hringaríki er við kennt. Hann var sonr Dags ok Þóru drengjamóður. Þau áttu níu syni, ok er af þeim komin Döglinga ætt.

    Helgi hvassi hét bróðir Guðröðar. Hann hafði brott ór orrostunni merki Sigurðar orms í auga ok sverð hans ok skjöld. Hann fór heim til Danmarkar með sínu liði ok fann þar Áslaugu, móður Sigurðar, ok sagði henni tíðendin. Þá kvað Áslaug vísu:

     

     

     

    "Sitja veiðivitjar vals á borgar halsum, böl er, þats hefir of hafnat hrafn Sigurðar nafni; blása nýtinjótar nás í spán at hánum, ofsnemma lét Óðinn álf valmeyjar deyja."

     

    En af því at Hörða-Knútr var ungr, þá var Helgi þar með Áslaugu lengi til landvarnar. Sigurðr ok Blæja áttu dóttur. Hún var tvíbura við Hörða-Knút. Áslaug gaf henni nafn sitt ok fæddi hana upp síðan ok fóstraði. Hana fekk síðan Helgi hvassi. Þeira sonr var Sigurðr hjörtr. Hann var allra þeira manna fríðastr ok mestr ok sterkastr, er menn höfðu sét. Þeir váru jafngamlir Gormr Knútsson ok Sigurðr hjörtr.

    En er Sigurðr var tólf vetra, þá drap hann berserk þann í einvígi, er Hildibrandr hét, ok þá tólf saman. Eptir þat gifti KlakkHaraldr honum dóttur sína, er Ingibjörg hét. Þau áttu tvau börn, Guðþorm ok Ragnhildi.

    Þá spurði Sigurðr, at Fróði konungr, föðurbróðir hans, var dauðr. Fór hann þá norðr til Noregs ok gerðist konungr yfir Hringaríki, ættleifð sinni. Frá honum er löng saga, því at hann vann margs kyns þrekvirki.

    En þat er at segja frá lífláti hans, at hann reið út á eyðimerkr at veiða dýr, sem vandi hans var til, ok kom þar móti honum Haki Haðaberserkr með þrjá tigu manna alvápnaðra ok barðist við hann. Þar fell Sigurðr ok hafði drepit áðr tólf menn, en Haki konungr hafði látit hönd sína hægri ok hafði þó þrjú sár önnur. Eptir þat reið Haki konungr með sínum mönnum á Hringaríki til Steins, sem bú Sigurðar var, ok tók brott Ragnhildi, dóttur hans, ok son hans, Guðþorm, ok mikit gós annat ok flutti heim með sér á Haðaland. Ok litlu síðar lét hann efna til veislu mikillar ok ætlaði at gera brullaup sitt, en þat dvaldist, því at sár hans höfðust illa. Ragnhildr var þá fimmtán vetra gömul, en Guðþormr fjórtán vetra. Leið svá haustit ok vetrinn fram um jól, at Haki lá í sárum.

    Þá var Hálfdan konungr svarti á Heiðmörk at búum sínum. Hann sendi Hárek gand ok með honum hundrað manna, ok fóru þeir yfir um ís á Mjörs á Haðaland á einni nótt ok kómu í dagan á bæ Haka konungs ok tóku allar dyrr á þeim skála, er hirðmenn sváfu í. Ok síðan gengu þeir til svefnskemmu Haka konungs ok tóku þar Ragnhildi ok Guðþorm, bróður hennar, ok allt þat fé, er þar var, ok hafa brott með sér. Þeir brenndu skálann ok þar inni í alla hirðina ok fara síðan brott. En Haki konungr stóð upp ok klæddi sik ok gekk eptir þeim um hríð. Ok er hann kom at vatnsísinum, þá sneri hann niðr hjöltunum á sverðinu ok lagðist á blóðrefilinn ok fekk þar bana ok er þar heygðr á vatnsbakkanum.

    Hálfdan konungr sá, at þeir óku yfir ísinn með vagn tjaldaðan, ok þóttist vita, at þeira erendi mundi orðit hafa slíkt sem hann vildi. Lét hann þá senda boð um alla byggð ok bauð til öllu stórmenni á Heiðmörk ok gerði þann dag mikla veislu. Gerði hann þá brullaup til Ragnhildar, ok váru þau saman síðan marga daga. Þeira sonr var Haraldr konungr inn hárfagri, er fyrstr varð einvaldskonungr yfir öllum Noregi.

    Sigurd Snake-in-Eye and Bjorn Ironside and Hvitserk had raided widely in France. Then Bjorn headed back home to his kingdom. After that, the Emperor Arnulf fought with the brothers, and a hundred thousand Danes and Norwegians fell there. There also fell Sigurd Snake-in-Eye, and Gudrod was the name of another king who fell there. He was the son of Olaf, the son of Hring, the son of Ingjald, the son of Ingi, the son of Hring, after whom Ringerike in Norway is known. Hring was the son of Dag and Thora Mother-of-Drengs. [3]

    They had nine sons, and the Dagling dynasty comes from them.

    Helgi Hvassi, the Sharp, was the name of Gudrod’s brother. He escaped from the battle with the standard of Sigurd Snake-in-Eye, and his sword and shield. He went home to Demark with his own forces and there found Aslaug, Sigurd’s mother, and told her the tidings. Then Aslaug spoke a verse:

    “Sad sit the corpse-stalkers,

    slaverers after cadavers:

    the slain-craver, raven—

    what a shame!—forsaken

    by namesake of Sigurd;

    in vain now they’re waiting.

    Too soon from life Lord Odin

    let such a hero go.”

    But because Horda-Knut was young, Helgi stayed with Aslaug for a long time as protector of the land. Sigurd and Blaeja had a daughter. She was Horda-Knut’s twin. Aslaug gave her own name to her and brought her up then and fostered her. Afterwards she married Helgi Hvassi. Their son was Sigurd Hart. Of all the men ever seen, he was the fairest, and the biggest, and the strongest. They were the same age, Gorm Knutsson and Sigurd Hart.

    When Sigurd was twelve, he killed the berserk Hildibrand in a duel, and he single-handedly slew twelve men in that fight. After that Klakk-Harald gave him his daughter, who was called Ingibjorg. They had two children: Gudthorm and Ragnhild.

    Then Sigurd learnt that King Frodi, his father’s brother, was dead. He went north to Norway and became king over Ringerike, his inheritance. There is a long story told of him, as he did all manner of mighty deeds.

    But it’s said of his passing, that he rode out hunting in the wilderness, as was his custom, and Haki Hadaberserk came at him with thirty fully armed men and they fought with him. Sigurd fell there, after first killing twelve men, but King Haki had lost his right hand and received three other wounds besides. Afterwards Haki and his men rode to Ringerike, to Stein, where Sigurd’s dwelling was, and took away Ragnhild his daughter, and his son Gudthorm, and plenty of goods too, and carried them off home with him to Hadeland. And soon after that, he had a great feast prepared and meant to celebrate his wedding, but it was put off because his wounds weren’t healing. Ragnhild was fifteen years old then, and Gudthorm fourteen. Autumn passed, and Haki was laid up with his wounds till Yule.

    At this time, King Halfdan the Black was staying at his estate in Hedmark. He sent Harek Gand with a hundred and twenty men, and they marched over the frozen Lake Mjøsa to Hadeland one night and came the next morning to King Haki’s home and seized all the doors of the hall where the retainers were sleeping. And then they went to King Haki’s bedroom and took Ragnhild and Gudthorm, her brother, and all the treasure that was there, and carry it off with them. They burnt all the retainers in their hall and then leave. But King Haki got up and got dressed and went after them for a while. But when he came to the ice, he turned down his sword-hilt to the ground and fell on the point and met his death there, and he’s buried on the bank of the lake.

    King Halfdan saw them coming over the ice with a covered wagon and guessed their mission had gone exactly as he wished. He had a message sent then to all the settlements and invited to all the important people in Hedmark to a big feast that very day. There he celebrated his wedding to Ragnhild, and they lived together for many years after. Their son was King Harald the Fine-Haired, who was first to become sole ruler over the whole of Norway.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Bulky cargo ships.

    [2] Sleeker vessel favoured as a warship.

    [3] drengr ‘a gallant, brave fellow’.

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