The Saga of Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson Ch. 18.1


Book 7, Chapter 18.1,  The Second Battle of Stiklastad Part II  (July 29, 1030 AD), Excerpts:

(1030 AD)  As the armies on both sides stood so near that people knew each other, the king said, “Why are you here, Kalf?  For we parted good friends south in More?  It beseems you ill to fight against us, or to throw a spear into our army; for here are four of your brothers.”

Kalf replied, “Many things come to pass differently from what may appear seemly.  You parted from us so that it was necessary to seek peace with those who were left behind in the country.  Now each must remain where he stands, but if I might advise, we should be reconciled.”

Then Fin, his brother, answered, “This is to be observed of Kalf, that when he speaks fairly he has it in his mind to do ill.”

The king answered, “It may be, Kalf, that you are inclined to reconciliation; but, methinks, the bondes do not appear so peaceful.”

Then Thorgeir of Kviststad said, “You shall now have such peace as many formerly have received at your hands, and which you shall now pay for.”

And the king replied, “You have no occasion to hasten so much to meet us; for fate has not decreed to thee today a victory over me, who raised you to power and dignity from a mean station.”

Now came Thorer Hund, forward in front of the banner with his troop, and called out, “Forward, forward, bondesmen!”  Thereupon the bondesmen raised the war-cry, and shot their arrows and spears.  The king’s men also raised a war-shout; and that done, encouraged each other to advance, crying out, “Forward, forward, Christ-men! Cross-men! King’s men!”  When the bondes who stood outermost on the right flank heard it, they repeated the same cry, but when the Norman knights heard them shout it, they thought these were king’s men, and turned their arms against them, and they fought together, and many bondesmen were slain before Harek could call off the knights.  The weather was beautiful, and the sun shone clear, and a warm breeze blew across the wide field of Stikla’s stead, cooling off the men as the shield walls crashed and the fight began in earnest.  King Olaf had drawn up his army upon a rising ground, and it rushed down from there upon the bonde-army with such a fierce assault, that when the shield walls had crashed, the bondes’ array was driven back before it; so that the breast of the king’s array came to stand upon the ground on which the rear of the bondes’ array had stood, and many of the bondes’ army were almost in flight, but the Norman knights forced them to stand their ground and the jarls and lendermen and their house-men stood fast, and the battle became very severe.

Then the bonde-army pushed on from all quarters.  They who stood in front hewed down with their swords; they who stood next thrust with their spears; and they who stood hindmost shot arrows, cast spears, or threw stones, hand-axes, or sharp stakes.  Soon there was a great fall of men in the battle.  Many were down on both sides.  In the first onset fell Arnliot Gelline, Gauka-Thorer, and Afrafaste, with all their men, after each had killed a man or two, and some indeed more.  Now the ranks in front of the king’s banner began to be thinned, and the king ordered Thord to carry the banner forward, and the king himself followed it with his regiment of Varangian Guardsmen he had chosen to stand nearest to him in battle, and these were the best armed men in the field, and the most expert in the use of their weapons.  But the lendermen urged their men on, and the knights forced them to advance.

Olaf came forth from behind the shield-bulwark, and put himself at the head of the army, and when the bondes looked him in the face they were frightened, and let their hands drop.  The combat became fierce, and the king went forward in the fray.

I have just posted a first draft of Chapter 18.1,  The Second Battle of Stiklastad Part II (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 under the Book Seven Heading.

King Olaf fought most desperately.  He struck the lenderman, Thorgeir of Kviststad across the face, cut off the nose-piece of his helmet, and clove his head down below the eyes so that they almost fell out.  When he fell the king said, “Was it not true, Thorgeir, what I told you, that you would not be victor in our meeting?”  At the same instant Thord stuck the banner-pole so fast in the earth that it remained standing.  Thord had got his death-wound, and fell beneath the banner.  There also fell Thorfin Mun, and also Gissur Gullbrarskald, who was attacked by two men, of whom he killed one, but only wounded the other before he fell.  So shouted Hofgardaref-skald, from behind the Varangian shield wall:

     “Bold in the Iron-storm was he,

     Firm and stout as forest tree,

     The hero who, ‘gainst two at once,

     Made Odin’s fire from sword-edge glance;

     Dealing a death-blow to the one,

     Known as a brave and generous man,

     Wounding the other, ere he fell,—

     His bloody sword his deeds showed well.”

High upon a hill behind the bondes army, Witch Hallveig had her chantreusses dance, twelve in a ring around her, and those who stopped to catch breath on Stikla’s field below could see wisps of clouds where spirits gathered.  And from the east, dark storm clouds came, following the River Helgaa, the Holy River named after Hallveig’s grandfather, Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson, the famed warrior who had fought beside the warrior maiden Stikla at the first battle upon her stead.  Soon, the overhead sun became red, and as the battle progressed it grew darker until it became as dark as at night.

Once the cohort of Norman knights in the vanguard were sure the bondes army would stand, they laid into the Varangian Guard regiment and, with the help of the Jomsvikings on either side, they pressed them hard and many of the Emperor’s men fell, but their shieldwall held.  Then, coming in from the west, the goddess Irpa was seen to fly at them and from the fingertips of each hand flew five arrows, each the death of a man.  And Hallveig’s Jomsviking captives fought on harder with this, for they had seen the darts of Irpa before, but it was against them in that fight.  Hallveig’s metaled goddess body flew above them, naked and swathed in human blood, possessed by Irpa, and beautiful as Hell, even in the darkness, and she focused her deadly flights upon the center of the Varangian corp and the skalds who had sheltered there took flight at the Guardsmen’s fall. 

A skald took up a fallen shield and from its shelter sang:

     “No common wonder in the sky

     Fell out that day—the sun on high,

     And not a cloud to see around,

     Shone not, nor warmed Norway’s ground.

     The day on which fell out this fight

     Was marked by dismal dusky light,

     This from the East I heard—the end

     Of our great king it did portend.”

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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