The Saga of Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson Ch. 17.0


Book 7, Chapter 17.0,  The Calm Before the Storm  (Circa 1029 AD), Excerpts:

(1029 AD)  Prince Hraerik had waited until Yulefest for news on the death of Emperor Constantine ‘the Eighth’ Porphyrogennetos of New Rome, who had died November 12th of 1028 of a mysterious illness that had turned him ashen grey before death.  There had been no opportunities to off the second target as he had led his Varangians to Italy before the Emperor had expired and was already engaged with the Normans there.  The Prince passed that news onto Duke Robert, who had been invited to England for Yule, as had Princess Estrid of Denmark.  When the duke had heard that Estrid would be in London, he left Herleva and little William ‘the Bastard’ in Normandy.  He was now a duke without a duchess, with just an unmarried concubine and her illegitimate son, and he had been going out of his way to connect with the Princess of Denmark.  The Prince knew that if he wanted to find Duke Robert, then he should first locate Princess Estrid and the duke was sure to be nearby.

“I’ve just received news from Constantinople,” Hraerik told Duke Robert, “and it involves your Norman troops in Italy.”  And the Prince announced that Emperor Constantine was dead, but before he had died he gave former King Olaf of Norway a regiment of Varangian Guard foot soldiers to help him win back the Norse country.  Olaf had taken the regiment to Italy instead and was reported to have attacked the Normans there.  Duke Robert almost cursed out loud, but Princess Estrid was nearby so he bit his lip instead.  “Have you any details of the attack?” the Duke asked.

“Not yet,” Hraerik said.  “I have only heard that they have taken much plunder, but I should have details on their attacks by the time we come to Rouen for the joust matches.”

“I hope to make another match at that time,” the duke said, “with the permission of her father, King Canute.  Do you know of any gift I might present the King of England with that would impress him enough to allow me to ask for the hand of his daughter, Princess Estrid?”

“Princess Estrid of Denmark?” Hraerik asked innocently.  “Besides adding Denmark to his Empire, he has just recently added Norway, so, perhaps a regiment of Norman foot to put against Olaf’s Varangian foot soldiers, who will undoubtedly be coming north eventually to challenge his rule there.”

I have just posted a first draft of Chapter 17.0,  The Calm Before the Storm  (Circa 1029 AD),of Book Seven of ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’ Series, “The Saga of King Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson” to the website under the Book Seven Heading.

Prince Hraerik had again led the great merchant fleet east through Hraes’ and he went first to Constantinople and met with Gretta, who was staying in the Red House of Constantinople and had been monitoring Jarl Olaf’s movements in Roman territory, then he went to Baghdad and then India and then he returned to Constantinople with a fleet of slaver knars full of untouchables for sale in the slave markets of the Roman Empire.  “Any word on Olaf?” he asked Gretta when he arrived at the Red House.

“He’s still in Italy,” she replied.  “I should have followed him.”

“It’s too dangerous,” Hraerik told her.  “If Olaf doesn’t get you, then there are hundreds who will try to enslave a woman on her own.”

“But there aren’t any opportunities to make a hit on him here, in Constantinople.  It’s the capital of the Roman Empire, there are spies everywhere, and there are security services everywhere on the lookout for them.”

“Is it that bad?” he said, as he poured her some Frankish wine.  They were once more in the eighth floor bridal suite of the RHOC and he wanted her to relax.

“When I was operating in London,” she confirmed, “I could spy on kings and no one would know it.  Here, when I’m spying, I spot other spies, and, if they’re any good, they spot me.  And sometimes I see the Emperor’s security watching them and I wonder if they are watching me.  It’s that crowded here!”

“Have you been seen?” Hraerik asked her.

“No.  I’m sure of it.  Pretty sure.”  She paused.  “The Varangian Guard protects the new Emperor and Olaf is again a part of the Guard, so it protects him too.  In Italy, that would all change.  His guard would be down.”

“It’s too dangerous,” Hraerik repeated, “for a woman alone.”

“I wouldn’t be alone,” she replied.  “I’ll hire a theatre troupe to go with me.  I’ve written a play for it and I’ll hire a troupe to take it to Italy with me.  The actors in the troupe will be my cover and my protection.  They travel all the time and know how to handle the dangers.”

“You’ve written a play?  You, my dear, have too much time on your hands.”

“I know,” she said.  “I’m stuck in Constantinople trying to perform a hit on a target who is in Naples.”

“What’s it called?  This play of yours?”

“It’s called Amleth,” she said, “and it’s based on the saga ‘Amleth, Prince of Denmark’, that you wrote.”

“Nobody in Constantinople, or Rome, or Naples is going to want to see a play covering a Norse saga,” Hraerik lamented.

“I know,” she said.  “That’s why I’ve named it ‘Lucius Junius Brutus, Prince of Rome’.  You loosely based Amleth on the Brutus tale and I’ve loosely based Lucius Junius Brutus on your Amleth tale.”

“There is a certain poetry to your plan.  Tell me more about it.”

Jarl Haakon was leaving Norway for England in his fine new brightly painted warship and was racing against a storm that was brewing and blowing out of the northeast.  It was late fall and the wind was cold and biting and ice was forming along the topstrakes and his rowers were kept busy knocking it back into the sea from whence it had lept.  The young jarl spotted the opening in the great Trondheim Fjord that led to the North Sea and he had his rudderman steer for it and they were soon in open waters.  Then he saw two warships coming out of the mouth of the fjord and soon he could make out the ship of Einar and the ship of Ole, his foremost man.  He stood at the aftstem of his own ship and he waved at them and they soon pulled up on either side of him.  The jarl hadn’t seen the ropes that were submerged in the water between the two ships that had glided up to his, but he felt a sensation of what the Normans called ‘Deja-Vu’, when suddenly the ropes were raised between them and Einar and Ole’s men managed to capsize Haakon’s large warship.  While the young jarl and his men were in the water, Ole’s men kept them from clambering atop the strakes of their capsized ship and would allow them no egress to his own.  Einar kept his ship off a bit so he wouldn’t have to watch the cold waters sap the lives out of those in them and slip beneath the waves.

Hearse Einar had planned to gather up all the floating bodies and Haakon’s ship and was going to burn them all along a deserted coastal beach, but the storm came upon them suddenly and they were lucky to get themselves back within the safe confines of Trondheim Fjord before the full fury of it came down upon them.  The storm progressed from the northeast and took Haakon and his men and his ship southwest across the North Sea and deposited them on the beaches of several of the Orkney Islands, where they were found by the locals over the next few days.  Jarl Haakon’s fine new ship was easily identified even though the blue and battered bodies weren’t so easily distinguished and news of the incident, the drowning, was kept quiet and sent only to King Canute in Winchester.  There was a mysterious rope entangled up in the rudder of the ship and there were numerous mysterious rope burns in the tarred lower strakes of the ship.  The fine new ship would be held for study by King Canute’s Exeyes officers.

Please Note: This website is about Vikings and Varangians and the way they lived over a thousand years ago.  The content is as explicit as Vikings of that time were and scenes of violence and sexuality are depicted without reservation or apology.  Reader discretion is advised.

‘The VARANGIANS’ Series (AKA ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’ Series):

‘The Varangians’ series (‘AKA ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’ series) of five (seven) books is about the Danish Varangian Princes of early Rus’ (Ukraine), based on The Nine Books of Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus and the Rus’ Primary Chronicle of Nestor.  The Rus’ monk Nestor asserts that Rus’ was founded by three brothers, Rurik, Sineus and Truvor, but the Danish names in Book 5 of Saxo’s work are Erik, Sigfrodi (King Frodi) and Roller, three brothers from Denmark and Norway.

Book One of the five book Varangians Series places the Saga of King Frodi the Peaceful from Book Five of The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) into its proper chronological location in history.  In 1984, when I first started the book, I had placed the main character, Erik’s (Hraerik’s) birth at circa 800 CE, but have since revised it to 810 to better fit with the timelines of the following books in the series.  Saxo had originally placed the saga at the time of Christ’s birth and later experts have placed the story at about 400 CE to correspond with the arrival of the Huns on the European scene but when Attila was driven back to Asia, the Huns didn’t just disappear, they joined the Khazar Empire north of the Caspian Sea and helped the Khazars control the western end of the famous Silk Road trade route.

When King Frodi’s Danes started their ninth century ‘Southern Way’ incursions into the rivers of present day Russia, they ran into the Khazar Khaganate that was controlling Silk Road trade there and cooperation looked promising when he married King Hun’s daughter, Princess Hanund.  But she cheated on him and he sent her back to Khazaria in disgrace and things got ugly, fast.  Two Norwegian princes, Hraerik and Hraelauger Hraegunarson, sons of the famous Hraegunar Lothbrok, visited Frodi’s court in Liere with a dangerous plan to protect their own Nor’Way trade route to Khazaria, but that plan changed when Prince Hraerik fell in love with and married Princess Gunwar, King Frodi’s sister.

When news arrived in Liere that the Huns planned to attack Denmark, Prince Hraerik convinced King Frodi to assemble a Varangian Army of the North and lead a pre-emptive strike against the Khazar Empire.  Following the capture of Kiev, the three brothers, Frodi, Hraerik and Hraelauger established the Hraes’ (Rus’) Trading Company and built an empire that exists in many forms to this very day, including Russia, Normandy, Great Britain and L’Anse Aux Meadows in America.  The wealth of the Hraes’ Trading Empire they created powered the prolific Viking expansion in Medieval Europe that still fascinates us today.

Book One, “The Saga of Hraerik ‘Bragi’ Hraegunarson,” recreates Book Five of Saxo’s work to illuminate the origins of the name Rus’ and how it evolved from Hraes’ in ninth century Russia and how the name Varangians originally meant Va Rangers or Way Wanderers of the Nor’Way.  The book examines the death of Princess Gunwar (Hervor) at the hands of the Hunnish Prince Hlod and how it drives Prince Hraerik ‘Bragi the Old’ Hraegunarson (Hraegunar Lothbrok’s son) to write a famous poem of praise that both saves his head and rallies the northern kingdoms to fight the infamous Battle of the Goths and the Huns on the Don Plain of Gardariki (Gnita Heath of Tmutorokan).

Book Two, “The Saga of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson,” recreates Arrow Odd’s Saga of c. 1200 to illustrate how Arrow Odd was Prince Helgi (Oleg in Slavic) Hraerikson of Kiev, by showing that their identical deaths from the bite of a snake was more than just coincidence.  The book investigates the true death of Hraegunar Lothbrok by poisoned blood-snakes (kenning for swords) and how his curse of ‘calling his young porkers to avenge the old boar’ sets up a death spiral between swine (Sveinald) and snakes (Gorm ‘the Old’) that lasts for generations.  It then goes on to depict the famous Battle of the Berserks on Samso, where Arrow Odd and Hjalmar the Brave slay the twelve berserk grandsons of King Frodi on the Danish Island of Samso, setting up a death struggle that takes the Great Pagan Army of the Danes from the ravaged coast of Norway to England and on to Helluland in Saint Brendan’s Newfoundland.

Book Three, “The Saga of Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Hraerikson,” reveals how Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Ragnarson was actually Prince Eyfur (Ivar in Danish, Igor in Slavic) Hraerikson of Kiev and then King Harde Knute of Denmark.  By comparing a twenty year lacuna in the reign of Prince Igor in the Russian Chronicles with a coinciding twenty year appearance of a King Harde Knute I (Hard Knot or Knytling) of Denmark in European Chronicles, Prince Igor’s death by sprung trees, which reportedly tore his legs off, may have rather just left him a boneless and very angry young king.  Loyal Danes claimed, “It was a ‘hard knot’ indeed that sprung those trees,” but his conquered English subjects, not being quite as polite, called him, Ivar ‘the Boneless’. And the Danish ‘Knytling’ line of kings carried on for ‘the Old’ Fridleif/Frodi line of kings.

Books Four, Five and Six, “The Saga of Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson“, “The Saga of Valdamar ‘the Great’ Sveinson” and “The Saga of Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson” demonstrate how Prince Sviatoslav ‘the Brave’ of Kiev was really Prince Svein Ivarson of Kiev, who later moved to Norway and fought to become King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark and England.  But before being forced out of Russia, the Swine Prince sated his battle lust by crushing the Khazars and attacking the great great grandfather of Vlad the Impaler in a bloody campaign into the Heart of Darkness of Wallachia that seemed to herald the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with the 666 Salute of the Army of the Impalers.  The campaign was so mortifying that the fifteen thousand pounds of gold that the Emperor of Constantinople paid him to attack the Army of the Impalers seemed not nearly enough, so Prince Svein attacked the Eastern Roman Empire itself.  He came so close to defeating the greatest empire in the world, that later Danish Christian Kings would call his saga, and the sagas of his kin, “The Lying Sagas of Denmark” and would set out to destroy them, claiming that, “true Christians will never read this saga”.

Book Seven, “The Saga of Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson”, establishes how Grand Prince Vladimir ‘the Great’ of Kiev was also known as Prince Valdamar Sveinson of Gardar, who supported his father, Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’, in attacks upon England and later became King Canute ‘the Great’ of England and also King Knute ‘the Great’ of Denmark and Norway.  Unlike his father, he came to the aid of a Roman Emperor, leading six thousand picked Varangian cataphracts against Anatolian rebels, and was rewarded with the hand of Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos, a true Roman Princess born of the purple who could trace her bloodline back to Julius and Augustus Caesar.  She was called Czarina, and after her, all Rus’ Grand Princes were called Czars and their offspring were sought matrimonially by European royalty.


By recreating the lives of four generations of Russian Princes and exhibiting how each generation, in succession, later ascended to their inherited thrones in Denmark, the author proves the parallels of the dual rules of Russian Princes and Danish Kings to be cumulatively more than just coincidence.  And the author proves that the Danish Kings Harde Knute I, Gorm ‘the Old’ and Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson/Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ were not Stranger Kings, but were Danes of the Old Jelling Skioldung Fridlief/Frodi line of kings who only began their princely careers in Rus’ and returned to their kingly duties in Denmark with a lot of Byzantine Roman ideas and heavy cavalry and cataphracts.

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