The Saga of Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson Ch. 18.0

                                    


Book 7, Chapter 18.0,  The Second Battle of Stiklastad Part I  (July 29, 1030 AD), Excerpts:


(1030 AD)  When Jarl Olaf ‘the Stout’ Haraldson learned of the death of Jarl Haakon of Norway from a secret messenger sent to him by Hearse Einar ‘Thong-Shaker’, he knew it was time to take his personal retinue and his Varangian Guard regiment back north, up through Hraes’, and then to Sweden to prepare his attack upon the Jarls of Norway who now ruled his former kingdom.  He told his men that King Olaf Tryggvason had come to him in a dream and had told him it was time to retake his kingdom.  He gathered his men about him and they prayed to King Olaf Tryggvason for guidance and blessings.  The rivers of Hraes’ were still frozen over, so it would be a hard journey, but Olaf wanted to traverse Hraes’ before the great merchant fleet came down the Dan’Way rivers and might prevent him from achieving his goal.  He knew that the fleet’s leader, Prince Hraerik ‘Bragi’ of Gardariki, was of the same ‘Old Fridleif/Frodi’ line of Danish kings that Canute ‘the Old’ was birthed from and he knew that the Prince would stop him, even kill him, if given the chance.

The Dnieper River south of Kiev was first to begin breaking up, so light Roman biremes took the retinue and regiment up through the ice to Kiev.  Jarl Olaf stayed with Prince Ivaraslav and his sister-in-law, Princess Ingigerd, in Kiev for a week and they showed him and his followers the greatest of hospitality.  It is said that Olaf miraculously cured a young Danish Kievan boy of a boil on his neck that threatened his life, but a very skilled Roman physician was attached to the Guard regiment, and he may have helped.  Olaf left his young son Magnus in his aunt, Princess Ingigerd’s care there and Prince Ivaraslav provided the troop with horses, because the rivers north were still frozen over.  The horses were shod with iron ice-pick horseshoes and pulled heated and covered sledges full of men and gear up the rivers north to the Baltic.  From there Olaf hired ships to take his men to Sweden.  When they stopped at the Island of Gotland they heard news that Jarl Haakon of Norway had been missing all winter and no one knew what had happened to him.  Fortunately for Olaf, the Gotland merchant fleet had already sailed off to Roskilde to join up with the great merchant fleet there, so no one could inform the Prince of Olaf’s whereabouts.


I have just posted a first draft of Chapter 18.0,  The Second Battle of Stiklastad Part I  (July 29, 1030 AD), of Book Seven of ‘The Lying Sagas of Denmark’ Series, “The Saga of King Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson” to the website SeiberTeck.com under the Book Seven Heading.


King Olaf mustered his men, and reckoned he had added more than three thousand men to the retinue and Varangian Guard regiment he had brought up from Roman lands, which made up one great army to field.  Then the king made the following speech to the people: “We have a great army, and excellent troops and weapons and armour, and now I will tell you, my men, how I will have our force drawn up.  I will lead my banner forward in the center, and my personal retinue and Varangian Guardsmen shall follow it, together with the war forces that joined us from the Uplands, and also those who may come to us here in the Trondheim district.  On the right hand of my banner shall be Prince Dag Hringson, with his son, Hring, and all the men he brought to our aid; and he shall have the second banner.  And on the left hand of our line shall be the men the Swedish King Anund gave us, together with all the people who came to us in Sweden, and they shall have the third banner.  I will also have the people divide themselves into distinct cohorts and maniples, so that relatives and friends can be together; for thus they defend each other best, and know each other.  We will have all our men distinguished by a mark, so as to be a field-token upon their helmets and shields, by painting the holy cross thereupon with white colour.  When we go into battle we shall all have one countersign and field-cry,—’Forward, forward, Christian men! Cross men! King’s men!’  We must draw up our men in thinner ranks, because we have fewer and stronger people, and I do not wish to let them surround us with their men.  Now you men divide yourselves into separate cohorts and then maniples, and then each maniple into ranks, and my Guardsmen will help, then let each man observe well his proper place, and take notice what banner he is drawn up under.  Then we shall remain drawn up in array; and our men shall be fully armed, night and day, until we know where the battle will be between us and the bondes.”  When the king had finished speaking, the Guardsmen arrayed and arranged the army according to the king’s orders.


Of the bonde army that had been raised against Jarl Olaf, for he was a jarl, having given up his throne to King Canute, it consisted of Norway’s foremost jarls and hearses and lendermen and bondes, as well as freemen and tradesmen and labourers who had little experience in warcraft.  But they did have a thousand Norman knights who were very well trained and tempered in Roman warfare and wanted nothing better than to train their blades upon Varangian Guardsmen of the New Romans of Constantinople.

The jarls and lendermen who had come with their followers consulted together how they should draw up their troops, and who should be their leader.  Kalf Arneson said, “Harek of Thjotta is best fitted to be the chief of this army, for he was descended from Harald Fairhair’s race.  

“On the other hand, you, Thorer, are well suited to be our chief in this battle against Olaf; and you have distinct grounds for being so, both because you must avenge the death of your relation, and have also been driven by him as an outlaw from your property.”

Thorer replied thus to his speech: “I do not confide in myself so much as to raise the banner against King Olaf, or, as chief, to lead on this army; for the people of Trondheim have the greatest part in this armament, and I know well their haughty spirit, and that they would not obey me, or any other Halogaland man.”

Witch Hallveig watched from the back of the hall and gave Jarl Kalf a look that told him you lead a wavering many, but Kalf already knew that.  The only troops he had confidence in were his own retinue, the Norman knights and her Jomsviking warriors.  But without the wavering many, they were sorely outnumbered.

Then Kalf Arneson desired to speak.  “It is highly necessary,” he said, “that this business we have on hand do not turn out a mockery and child-work now that an army is collected.  Something else is needful, if we are to stand battle with Jarl Olaf, then that each should shove the danger from himself, for we must recollect that, although Olaf has not many people compared to this army of ours, the leader of them is intrepid, and the whole body of them, particularly the Varangian Guardsmen, will be true to him, and obedient in battle.  But if we, who be the leaders of this army show any fear, and will not encourage the army and go at the head of it, it will happen that courage of our people, the spirit, will leave their hearts, and the next thing will be that each will seek his own safety.  Although we have now a great force assembled, we shall find our destruction certain, when we meet Jarl Olaf and his troops, if we, the chiefs of the people, are not confident in our cause, and have not the whole army confidently and bravely going along with us.  If it cannot be so, we had better not risk a battle.  Will you now all adopt my proposal: that shall you, friend Thorer lead the left banner, and you, Harek, go under the right banner and then I will lead the center banner which we will all of us raise up, and then follow.  Let us all be speedy and determined in the resolution we have taken, and put ourselves so at the head of the bondes’ army that they see no distrust in us; for then will the common man advance with spirit when we go merrily to work in placing the army in battle-order, and in encouraging the people to the strife.”

When Kalf had ended they all concurred in what he proposed, and all would do what Kalf thought of advantage.  All desired Kalf to be the leader of the army, and to give each what place in it he chose.  When the people left the hall Kalf took aside Hallveig and the Norman captain, Hugh de Hauteville, and he expressed his concerns about the wavering many.  Then he told Hugh, “I know that you wished to go tete-a-tete against Olaf’s Varangian Guardsmen, but I think it best if we break up your formation to lead under each banner, a cohort at center and half cohorts on each flank.  This will give backbone to our separate groups.”

Captain Hugh protested of course.  “We’ve come solely to fight the Varangers,” he said, “for the pain they’ve inflicted on our brothers in Italy.  I allowed you to split up our regiment because it ensured that at least half our men would go against the Guard, whether they attacked from the south or the east, and I have confidence that my half regiment of Norman knights can defeat a full regiment of the Varangian Guard, but a mere cohort against them is asking too much!”

“And what do you say, Witch Hallveig?” Jarl Kalf asked.

“I have seen that our messages arrived in the south,” she told him, “and Captain Hugh will be pleased to hear that his southern cohorts have already sailed up into Trondheim Fjord and are presently riding here.”

“That is great news!” Captain Hugh shouted.

“But they do not arrive in time,” Hallveig added.  “We need to make a sacrifice and call on the goddess Irpa for help, or all is lost.”

Jarl Kalf and Captain Hugh looked at each other in disbelief, or what they wished was disbelief, but Kalf was still Aesir and he believed Hallveig, and Hugh was Norman and, though Christian, they had their Witches of Rouen that they often consulted and Captain Hugh knew that of all foreign witches, it was Witch Hallveig of York that the Norman witches, themselves, consulted most.

“What sacrifice does the goddess require?” Kalf asked.

“She wants the body of King Olaf,” Hallveig said.

“You mean Jarl Olaf,” Kalf said.  “She wants us to kill Jarl Olaf.”

“No.  She specifically wants the corpse of King Olaf,” Hallveig said with determination.

“Then we shall give her King Olaf’s body,” Hugh told her.  “Even if my Norman cohort has to cut its way through a regiment of the Varangian Guard!”

“I shall bolster your cohort with my Jomsvikings,” Witch Hallveig offered.

“Your Joms warriors shall be welcome on the flanks of my cohort,” the captain said in thanks.


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.

Conclusion:

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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