THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON Has Been Added to The Site Under the New Heading The VARANGIANS / UKRAINIANS Book Series – The True History of ‘The Great Viking Manifestation of Medieval Europe’© and the below Post Covers CHAPTER TWO:
Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ Ragnarson of Hraegunarstead, Stavanger, Nor’Way
BOOK TWO: THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON
A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert
© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
2.0 A FISTFUL OF LUCK (Circa 828 AD)
“The way I see it, Harald has all the luck he’s ever
likely to need, while our King hasn’t even a fistful.”
Ulf Bjalfason; Egil’s Saga
(828 AD) A narrow greensward ran along the south edge of Stavanger Fjord at Hraegunarstead, between the mountains and the vik, a lush meadow the freemen called the bitter green. At its westernmost point stood a watchtower where a lookout monitored the bend in the fjord for the approach of ships, be they friend or foe. Whenever one of their longships returned, all the folk of Hraegunarstead would rush along the bitter green to welcome their elite home. In an instant it would be known which warriors were not returning from battle. Everyone ran across that meadow. Only the old folk walked. It was said the bitter green was watered by the weeping of new-found widows; it was a verdant green.
A week after the passing of King Gotar’s war arrow a longship was spotted sailing up the fjord toward Hraegunarstead. It was Ragnar’s ship and the whole household rushed out onto the bitter green to welcome him home. Erik watched as his stepmother, Kraka, ran amongst the throng along the meadow to greet her husband. Her agility belied her age. The people stood about, apprehensive, gathered in small moving knots, facing west and swaying with the fresh spring breeze. The distinctive white and red sail of Ragnar’s ship could be seen above the waves but, as it neared, no white shield could be seen suspended above it. Only the Raven Banner fluttered madly above it. Murmurs raced through the throng as the ship’s bulwarks rose up out of the waters and soon the oars could be seen chomping at the waves. Men could be made out on the foredeck and then men could be seen scampering about mid-deck, gathering up the sail and unfooting the mast. As the ship passed along the shore the crewmen at the stern kept their heads downcast, as though ashamed. The people on shore ran back along the bitter green, following the longship’s progress. Erik, too, ran with the throng, but Kraka, surrounded by the elders of the stead, walked slowly, as though in a trance. By the downcast nature of the ship’s crew, it was evident that something was amiss. Ragnar’s ship was rowed till near the shore, then the oars were raised, and it coasted up onto the beach, scudding softly into the salty sand. Ropes were let out and the multitude grabbed them up and hauled the ship onshore, as the vikings stowed their oars. Roller was at the forestem, below the fierce dragon’s head, and was the first to leap to land. Erik rushed at Roller, grasped him by the shoulders, then hugged him.
“You’re alive at least,” Erik said. “That much I can tell by looking at your glum face. How went the raid?”
Roller raised a finger to his lips, glancing back at Ragnar as he ambled down the gangplank to the shore. Erik could see it was a foul mood he was in. Ragnar hollered out directions to his crew, stamped across the sand to Kraka, kissed her on the cheek, then stormed off toward his longhall. Kraka, Roller and Erik followed, leaving the folk of the stead on the beach with the crew. Inside the hall, Ragnar shut himself up in his bedchamber and would let none enter and would not come out. His sons shared a high seat and a horn of ale, and Roller told Erik about the raid.
“It was fey,” he started. “The beginning had dire portents, the middle was bad and the ending worse.” They could hear Kraka and her bondmaidens attempting to coax Ragnar from his chamber.
“First, we ran into Hrafn Ketil,” Roller continued, “King Gotar’s foremost man, on his way back from Denmark and he and father had words. When we got into Danish waters we found there was little there worth raiding. King Frodi taxes his people so heavily that they feel their labours not worth the effort. He taxes their every transaction: when they buy a cow or sell a sheaf of grain or even get married, a share goes to their king. The Danes have forfeited their wealth to feed themselves and now have so little left it was unseemly to rob them. We carried on around Gotland and up to Sweden and we traded for iron bars, as usual, but the Danes had driven up prices so high we could only buy a half supply. And the ton-stone of the Swedes was in short supply as well, but we got most of it. Then, as if things were not bad enough, on our way back King Frodi’s sea king, Oddi, tracked us down and offered us battle. Though he had twelve wild berserks howling at the bow of his ship, father was ready to fight him, but Brak had a word with him and they both glanced back at me and they decided that we would make a run for it instead. He’s never run from a fight in his life and doing so has crushed him. Oddi chased after us and we rowed for our lives the better part of a day before we lost them in the dark. The Danes say that, using magic, Oddi travels over the sea without a ship, monitoring all routes, so we skirted the Danish islands in a weaving path, hiding in bays during the day and rowing nights. That’s why we’re late and that’s why father’s shut himself up in his room.”
“Who were these berserks?” Erik asked, gazing into his ale.
“King Frodi’s champions. The sons of Westmar, Frodi’s guardian.”
“They seem to have caused Hraegunar some grief.”
“Father would have fought them had I not been along. He’s getting on. It would have been his most glorious battle. You poets would have written a drapa or two of the battle that would have been fought that day. All the skalds would have sung praises of father’s bravery. Now he fears he shall die a straw death and it’s all my fault.”
Erik sensed how deeply Roller was holding himself responsible for the way things had unfolded so he tried to change the subject. “Gotar has sent the war arrow around,” he started.
“We heard when we touched in at Agder. The news is up and down the coast. King Gotar intends to attack King Frodi. Exactly what he intends to gain by it I can only suspect.”
Erik rose and refilled their cup.
“What is that about your waist?” Roller asked. “It’s new, is it not?”
“Dvalin and I have forged a sword,” Erik answered proudly, unbuckling his heavy scabbard and passing it over to Roller. “I’ve named her Tyrfingr. It must never be unsheathed without being the death of a man,” he warned his brother.
“Father says he’ll not be going to the war thing,” Roller started, taking up the sword and studying the hilt. “He has his Nor’Way trade to attend to and he wants to leave right away. This steel is strange.”
“Don’t draw out the blade,” Erik said, putting a hand on the guard. “Who will go then? Somebody has to go.”
“Father’s still angry with Brak for advising him to flee the Danes, so he may not be travelling the Way this summer. And I’d like to attend the war thing. I’ve a score to settle with those berserks and a war thing sounds like a proper place to start. What is this metal?”
“I had to accept the war arrow in Hraegunar’s stead, so I’m duty bound to go too. It’s star steel. Dvalin showed me how to work it.”
“You must tell me more of this star steel, but here…father comes.” Roller handed Erik back his weapon.
Ragnar emerged from the chamberway and stamped half the length of the hall. He stomped up the dais and threw himself upon his high seat. Brak followed close behind, taking up the third high seat and Kraka, herself, brought them horns of ale. The two hoary old merchant warriors sat beside each other and fumed.
The young men waited an appropriate amount of time. “I want to go to the war council,” Roller announced, “and I want Hraerik to come.”
“Brak is going to the war thing,” Ragnar replied. “You are plying the Nor’Way with me, and Hraerik is to look after the stead.”
“Hraerik accepted the arrow and he should be allowed to attend. We won’t be gone that long if it’s still your intention to withhold your support from King Gotar.”
“You must learn,” Ragnar expounded, “that the success of a trading company depends upon maintaining your trade routes.”
“Next year you will teach me this?” Roller asked, flashing the broad grin of a favoured son over his drinking horn. His winsome looks softened Ragnar.
“I suppose it’s important that you learn to deal with kings as well. You shall represent Rogaland Province. Brak will steer you clear of strands.”
“Hraerik shall tend the stead! With his temper, he’s not likely to stay out of trouble in a court such as Gotar’s.”
“Yes, father,” Roller said.
“And make no deals to support Gotar. King Frodi has all the luck he’s ever likely to need, while our king hasn’t even a fistful.”
Roller turned to Erik. “I tried,” he whispered. He took a long draft of ale, then passed the horn to Erik.
“I’m still going,” Erik murmured over the edge of the horn, and he drew his share of the brew.
Later, Brak called them over to his bench and they made plans for attending the war council in three weeks’ time. It was decided that only Brak’s and Ragnar’s longships would be used on the mission, as Ragnar required the full complement of his dozen merchant ships…Way-Ranging ships of the special Nor’Way construction…on his trading expedition. Messengers were sent out to the other steads with orders for raising troops and ships, while the folk of Hraegunarstead gathered up supplies and prepared the two ships for the journey. Ragnar’s longship required repairs on damages it had sustained during the raiding, so Roller started work on that while Erik oversaw the unloading of the iron and ton-stone. Once the repairs were made they would leave for Rennes Isle, where the host of Rogaland Province was to assemble. Ragnar, meanwhile, planned to set off next day on his Nor’Way crossing.
Night had long fallen over the fjord before Ragnar’s preparations were completed, yet, once everyone had retired, Erik had difficulty getting to sleep, disturbed at being excluded from the war thing. Erik kept Roller up and told him all about the forging of Tyrfingr and of his promise to Dvalin.
“Where is the dwarf, anyway?” Roller asked. “I didn’t see him playing at his hearth.”
“Dvalin’s been making himself scarce since Hraegunar’s return. Had you been looking for him you would have noticed a trace of him here, a trail of him there. He was like the wind today; sensed but not seen.”
“And how do you propose to fulfil your promise to him? Hraegunar has the only ships that will handle the Nor’Way crossing and he is taking them all on his expedition.”
“Dvalin foresees me crossing soon. If he is wrong, that is his mistake. I shall do my best and no more, for I already have the sword.”
“And you’ve still not even seen the blade?” Roller asked Erik. “Not even tested its bite?” he asked further. “Knowing that trickster, Dvalin, I should not be surprised if you draw the blade in time of need and it turns out to be blunt.”
“Don’t worry, brother. She’s had test enough in the hands of Dvalin on one of the slaves. He sent our bellowsman straight to hades, poor fellow, with a wound cut so keen it’s probably healed by now.”
“I just meant for you not to put too much faith in an untried blade. Still…,” Roller murmured, stroking the hilts of the sword, “I’ve never seen such metal as this.”
“Hraegunar mentioned Gotar’s luck as being but a fistful next to Frodi’s fortune. If Denmark is in such ruin, how does Hraegunar gauge the Dane’s success?”
“Rumours are flying that King Frodi has expanded the Southern Way, Hraegunar’s Sor’Way, their supposed Dan’Way. His new Hun wife has brought them into the Khazar fold. That is what he has been spending his gold on. And that is one of the reasons we did some raiding…to hear it for ourselves.”
“It appears he has, but he’s having trouble making it work. The Baltic is filling with pirates and they plunder his ships. Yet, with Oddi’s help he could pull it off, and that could very well destroy our Northern Way. Father figures that King Gotar is planning to either destroy Frodi to protect the Nor’Way and, therefore, lay claim to it himself, or force Frodi to give him a share in the Southern Way trade. We’re not sure what he is up to, but either way we lose.”
“What can we do about it?”
“Not too much now. First and foremost, I’ve got to come up with a way to withhold our support from King Gotar without losing too much face. Father just keeps saying ‘tell him we aren’t going’, but the consequences of refusal are dire. I must figure us a way out of this, but first we must sleep,” Roller said.
Erik sank back into the straw of his mattress but could only sleep fitfully. Roller was snoring soundly when Erik cried out in the middle of the night. Roller got up and woke his brother, saying, “What is it, Hraerik?”, then shaking him, “What troubles you?”
Erik woke very slowly and, rubbing his eyes, looked about as if he had expected to wake up in some other place. “I had a nightmare,” he answered. “It came to me as a poem, but it seemed so real.”
“What was it?” Roller asked, and he hunkered down beside Erik’s bed. “Dreams can be portents and I have an important journey ahead of me.”
“The dream danced like a drapa running through my mind; it started with the beating of kettle drums–war drums–then I was out over the ocean. There was a fierce battle raging, then next I was on a lone sand bar with our wrecked ships strewn about its shores and in the middle of it an eagle was perched, picking over the carcase of a wolf.” Erik sat up and rested his crossed arms on his knees then looked at Roller. He took a deep breath then said, “And the wolf was King Gotar.”
“I see now what father meant,” Roller said. “It’s revealed in your dream. Gotar’s fistful of luck may be just enough to get us all killed. Now you really must come to the war thing. You may be our only way out of this slaughter.”
The next morning Erik went down to the smithy shed and helped Brak open the crates of Swedish iron bars. “I’m sorry the shop’s in such a state,” Erik apologized, waving toward the temporary bellows system he had rigged up.
“Yes, a veritable shitstorm has hit our smith works, but that’s alright,” Brak replied, toeing his boot through the bloodied sand floor. “We’ll get her straightened up and get the iron into the stone boats before we head out to the war thing. We could only afford a half order of iron thanks to King Frodi’s needs. That means half the steel, half the swords and half the profits. At least the Swedes allowed us our full complement of ton-stone for the Nor’Way trade. The Alchemist’s Guild will pay us well for that.” Brak stood at the great stone anvil, both fists upon the flat of it. “With the prospect of us losing access to Swedish iron, Hraegunar had made arrangements with the guild for my training in making Indian steel in Damascus. I was to be going across the Nor’Way, but I was not coming back this season. Now Gotar’s war plans have changed all that,” Brak complained bitterly.
The Swedish iron that they had acquired came from a mine near Uppsala that was renowned for its iron purity. It was essentially carbon free, which would seem detrimental if one’s goal was to make carbon steel, except that normal iron had too much carbon, giving it a brittle quality. Brak, a trained steel smith, had learned of a process for adding just the right amounts of carbon to the pure iron to produce low carbon steel suitable for the forging of the finest swords and weapons. The Trident Swords of Stavanger were a commodity sought by many in the northern clime.
“If we lose access to the iron,” Brak continued, “we’ll need knowledge of this new Indian steel. And only the alchemists in Baghdad can teach me. Even the Greeks and Romans have not learned of it,” he added as the two began straightening up the shop.
“Do you know how it works?” Erik asked.
“The metallurgists I talked with in Baghdad told me it is a method of controlled burn out of excess charcoal from bog iron, but how it is done I have not been able to ascertain. When we soak our Swedish iron in coals in the stone boats of the firing mounds we are adding charcoal to the iron to make varying qualities of steel. The Indian process does the opposite. One places bog iron nodules in a stone chimney filled with coals and additives and the firing process removes charcoal from the pig iron to form blooms of the finest steels. The additives can even prevent the steel from rusting.”
Erik took his scabbard from out of his belt and placed his new sword, Tyrfingr, on the anvil stone upon which it had been created. “Here is a steel you have never seen before,” Erik challenged his teacher. “It is from a star stone and Dvalin taught me how to forge it. He says it shall never rust and shall never dull. But the blade must always be sheathed in the blood of its last victim, so don’t pull it from its scabbard.”
Brak took the sword up from the stone and studied the hilts. “Ahh….Dvalin. You are right when you say I have never seen such steel, but I have heard of it,” and Brak quickly pulled the blade free of its scabbard and studied it. “And the dwarf put the edge on it?” Brak asked as he just as quickly sheathed the sword. “There was a famed Alchemist, a smith named Merlin, who pulled a sword from star stone such as this and he gave it to his Briton king. It is but a legend now. With the sword this king was able to keep the Saxons and the Angles at bay and keep his kingdom safe from conquest, but the sword had a glow such as yours has, and it eventually poisoned the blood of its master and the Briton king fell in battle. This was hundreds of years ago and it is only legend now. But it is the lead scabbard that keeps the poison glow at bay and the fable of the blood….it keeps the sword in its scabbard. In those ancient times they had no knowledge of the glow or its consequences. It is the additives in the star stone steel that cause the glow and during battle the glow can become alarming. That is when it is most dangerous. Limit your blows and use stabbing strokes. That is its safest use. They had no knowledge of this back then and the sword Excalibur was buried with the master it had poisoned. A sword such as this should always be buried with its master.”
No one knew how old Brak was. Ragnar had brought him back from the east with him, and Brak continued on as Ragnar’s foremost man. And now Ragnar was growing old, but in all that time, Brak had not seemed to age at all.
Some said he was an alchemist, some said he was a metallurgist, but Brak only laid claim to being a steel smith. Not a black smith or an iron smith, but a true “secret of steel” steel smith.
“Do you even know what an alchemist is?” Brak had asked Erik the first time the boy had asked his mentor if he really was one. And Brak went on to explain that alchemists could specialize in many areas: science, philosophy, geography, medicines, mathematics, metals, chemicals, potions, but originally, most importantly, going back as far in time as tales allowed, they were refiners of gold. They were masters of the acids and chemicals and processes to turn base gold into the purest of metals. The rich and powerful have always loved the lustre of pure gold, the purer, the better, so alchemists have always been the favoured guild of kings and queens. But when alchemists learned to turn copper into bronze, they soon became the favourites of princes and warriors. Some metallurgists specialized in weapons: swords and spears and arrowheads, while others specialized in armour: helmets and bucklers and breastplates. And the more powerful the weapons became, the better the defence against them had to become. So, while lustre of gold drew alchemists close to kings, lust of life drew them closer to princes. This race between sword and buckler continued on into the age of iron and carries on now into the age of steel. So, while some might call Brak an alchemist, he always called himself a steel smith.
In the most ancient of times there was a saying that smiths could turn tin into gold, for the best bronze swords and armour would turn one king’s gold into another king’s treasury. But, in the time of the pharaohs the verse turned to myth and in Babylon it was said that alchemists could turn lead into gold. And the myth persisted and grew as iron replaced bronze, but it changed once more as steel replaced iron and Romans replaced Greeks and Brak knew it had something to do with the flow of ton-stone from the Northern lands that the Guild had entrusted him with maintaining. And he still planned to stay in Damascus and Baghdad to find out just what. His stay might be shorter than planned, but he would find out what.
Erik used a flint and steel to fire up the forges while several grumbling slaves set up the bellows and Brak emptied the first crate of iron bars. Soon the two smiths were pounding out thin sword blade strips out of the pure Swedish iron. The strips would be laminated into full blades following carbon impregnation treatment in the stone boats that the dwarves of Finmark had fashioned out of soapstone to Brak’s specifications. Three carbon steel strips would be forged into one blade, a center strip of higher carbon steel to keep a sharp edge and two lower carbon strips on the outside for greater flexibility, so they were working on the center strips first, so they could be placed in the first stone boat with coal powder, sealed with clay under a stoneboat lid and carburized longer. The sealed stoneboats would be placed in earthen mounds filled with firewood and exposed to the flames for several weeks. Then the carbon steel strips would be forged together using Damascus flux, heat and hammers. The resulting blades were some of the finest in Europe and were in high demand in the eastern reaches of the Nor’Way trade routes.
“If you know how to make the flux,” Erik asked Brak, “why do you trade for it in Damascus?”
“It’s more efficient to just buy it,” Brak replied. “A few fox hides and we have enough flux for the season. And it keeps me a customer with the steel makers there.”
Once they had the stoneboats all in the firing mounds, Erik, Brak and Dvalin started forging swords using carburized strips from the prior year’s stock. Dvalin pulled an outer strip out of his forge and placed it on the stone anvil, then Erik sprinkled flux on it and Brak pulled a center strip out of his forge and laid it atop Dvalin’s strip as Dvalin began hammering the two together. Brak sprinkled flux on the center strip as Erik pulled a second outer strip out of his forge and laid it atop to complete the triple lamination and all three smiths began forging the blade with hammers, Dvalin at the tip, Brak at the centre and Erik at the tang. When the strips were forged together into a common blade, it went back into Brak’s forge for reheating and came out for final forging, then Dvalin started tinking out a tip and edges while Brak forge welded a trident guard onto the tang as Erik began work on the heavy pommel ton-stone.
“I wanted to leave my forge set-up we made for the star stone, so I could try it out on the ton-stone,” Erik explained as he tonged a white-hot piece of the heavy metal from the fire. He began hammering it into a sphere and the more he hammered it, the smaller and denser it became. A few more firings and forgings and Erik soon had a very heavy pommel ready for Brak to forge onto the sword. “This is the densest pommel ever,” Erik started. “The high heat of these coals seems to work more of the impurities out of the ton-stone.”
Brak agreed, as he worked the heavy metal into a split he had chiselled into the end of the tang which he forged into an encircling loop. “The alchemists of the gold and silver guild use chemicals to refine it even more. I want to find out what they use it for,” he said as he completed the loop. Brak sat down on the long bench behind them and Erik joined him and they rested as they watched Dvalin finish tinking edges on the blade just shy of the hilts. Dvalin brought the cooling blade over to the bench for their inspection and approval then put the blade into his forge for one last firing before the quench. The bellowsmen pumped even harder at the approach of the dwarf and the resting Brak marvelled at the newfound respect the slaves seemed to have for the so recently freed smith. He surmised it had something to do with the blood in the sand floor. “I mean to find out what it is they are doing with this refined ton-stone,” Brak began. Long ago he had told Erik about the significance of the ton-stone. Sigurd Hring had been a smith of uncanny ability and it was he who had started incorporating the trident guard on their Stavanger swords and it was he who had started using Swedish ton-stone in the pommels of their swords. The great density of the metal made it an excellent counterweight for the blade of a sword, giving it good balance while keeping the handle compact. But when his son, Ragnar, had started trading these swords in the east, the Alchemists Guild took notice. They had another use for this heavy Ton-Stone, a metal quite as dense as gold, that would come to be called, by some, Wolfram, by others, Tungsten.
Dvalin called them over to his forge. The blade was ready for quenching. Erik put on his heavy leather gloves then took them off, grabbed his tongs and went over to Dvalin’s forge. Brak was close behind him with a wet sheepskin and Dvalin had moved over to the soapstone quenching tub and checked the temperature of the whale oil in it then put his ear to the tub and waved them over. Erik tonged the sword out of the forge and darted over to the tub of oil and immersed the hot blade in the oil and a flame shot up and Brak sheltered Erik’s hands with the sheepskin. Erik pulled the warm blade from the quench and the flames went out. “It felt good,” he said, as Brak pulled back the hide. “No crack,” Dvalin said, taking his ear from the tub. They all took turns inspecting the blade for warps and cracks and, passing approval, Dvalin handed it to a slave for wipe down and grinding. Another slave pedalled the grinding wheel as the first slave got to work. And the smiths returned to their forges and began firing three more strips for another blade. It seemed a drawn-out process, but it was quite fast for the quality of the blades they were making.
Once the stoneboats had been in the firing mounds for a week or so the smoke holes were sealed, and fires died out and everything was let to cool slowly. Roller had completed the repairs on his father’s ship and the warriors of Hraegunarstead sailed off to the war thing. Kraka once more traversed the bitter green, this time to wave goodbye to her son.
Chapter 3: THE WINNING OF FAIR FAXI (Circa 828 AD) of BOOK 2: THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON shall follow on next Post or may be found under Heading of The VARANGIANS / UKRAINIANS Book Series – The True History of ‘The Great Viking Manifestation of The Middle Ages’© in Book Two: The Saga of Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ Ragnarson.
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 / UKRAINIANS or The Nine Books of Saxo’s Danish History Per Brian Howard Seibert
BOOK ONE: The Saga of King Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson
King Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson’s third wife, Princess Aslaug, was a young survivor of the Saga of the Volsungs and was a daughter of King Sigurd ‘the Dragon-Slayer’ Fafnirsbane, so this is where Ragnar’s story begins in almost all the ancient tales (except Saxo’s). In our series, we explore this tail end of the Volsungs Saga because King Sigurd appears to be the first ‘Dragon-Slayer’ and King Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ would seem to be the second so, it is a good opportunity to postulate the origins of Fire Breathing Dragons and how they were slain. King Ragnar would lose his Zealand Denmark to the Anglish Danes of Jutland, who spoke Anglish, as did the majority of Vikings who attacked England, which spoke both Anglish and Saxon languages, sometimes mistakenly called a common Anglo-Saxon language. The Angles and Saxons of England never really did get along, as shall be demonstrated in the following books. King Ragnar assuaged the loss of Zealand by taking York or Jorvik, the City of the Boar, in Angleland and Stavanger Fjord in Thule from which he established his Nor’Way trade route into Scythia.
BOOK TWO: The Saga of Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ Ragnarson
Book Two of the Nine Book The Varangians / Ukrainians Series places The Saga of Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ Ragnarson from Book Five of The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200 AD) about King Frodi ‘the Peaceful’ into its proper chronological location in history. In 1984, when I first started work on the book, I placed Prince Erik’s birth at circa 800 CE, but it has since been revised to 810 CE to better reflect 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, just north of the Caspian Sea, and helped the Khazars control the western end of the famous Silk Road Trade Route. Princes Erik and Roller, both sons of Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’, sail off to Zealand to avenge their father’s loss, but Erik falls in love with Princess Gunwar, the sister of the Anglish King Frodi of Jutland and, after his successful Battle Upon the Ice, wherein he destroys the House of Westmar, Erik marries Gunwar and both brothers become King Frodi’s foremost men instead, and the story moves on to the founding of Hraes’ and Gardar Ukraine.
BOOK THREE: The Saga of Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Erikson
Book Three, The Saga of Prince Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Erikson, recreates Arrow Odd’s Saga of circa 1200 AD to illustrate how Arrow Odd was Prince Helgi (Oleg in Slavic) Erikson 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 Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ by poisoned blood-snakes in York or Jorvik, the ‘City of the Boar’, and how his curse of ‘calling his young porkers to avenge the old boar’ sets up a death spiral between swine and snake that lasts for generations. The book then illustrates the famous Battle of the Berserks on Samso, where Helgi ‘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 Denmark to ravage Norway and then England and on to Helluland in Saint Brendan’s Newfoundland. A surprise cycle of vengeance manifests itself in the ‘death by snakebite’ of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’.
BOOK FOUR: The Saga of Prince Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Erikson
Book Four, The Saga of Prince Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Erikson, reveals how Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Ragnarson was actually Prince Eyfur or Ivar (Igor in Slavic) Erikson of Kiev and then King Harde Knute ‘the First’ of Denmark. By comparing a twenty year lacuna in the reign of Prince Igor in The Hraes’ Primary Chronicle with a coinciding twenty year appearance of a King Harde Knute (Hard Knot) of Denmark in European Chronicles, Prince Igor’s punishment by sprung trees, which reportedly tore him apart, 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’. The book expands on the death curse of Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ and the calling of ‘his young porkers to avenge the old boar’ when Ivar leaves his first son, King Gorm (Snake) ‘the Old’, to rule in Denmark and his last son, Prince Svein (Swine) ‘the Old’ to rule in Hraes’, further setting up the death spiral between the swine and snake of the ‘Lothbrok’ curse.
BOOK FIVE: The Saga of Prince Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson
Book Five, The Saga of Prince Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson, demonstrates how Prince Sveinald (Sviatoslav in Slavic) ‘the Brave’ of Kiev was really Prince Svein ‘the Old’ 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 then 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 and included the famed 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 close to defeating the greatest empire in the world, but lost and was forced to leave Hraes’ to his three sons. He returned to the Nor’Way and spent twelve years rebuilding Ragnar’s old trade route there.
BOOK SIX: The Saga of Grand Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ Sveinson
Book Six, The Saga of Grand Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ Sveinson, establishes how Grand Prince Valdamar (Vladimir in Slavic) ‘the Great’ of Kiev, expanded the Hraes’ Empire and his own family Hamingja by marrying 700 wives that he pampered in estates in and around Kiev. Unlike his father, Svein, 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 of Constantinople, 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 Hraes’ Grand Princes were called ‘Czars’ and their offspring were earnestly sought after, matrimonially, by European royalty.
BOOK SEVEN: The Saga of King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson
In The Saga of King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ Ivarson, Prince Svein anonymously takes the name of Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ in Norway and befriends the Jarls of Lade in Trondheim Fjord in Norway as he expands the Nor’Way trade route of his grandfather, Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’. He had come close to defeating the Eastern Roman Empire, and still felt that he was due at least a shared throne in Constantinople. He used the gold from the Nor’Way trade to rebuild his legions and his Hraes’ cataphracts and though his brother, King Gorm ‘the Old’, was dead, his son, Sweyn’s nephew, King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormson had usurped the throne of Denmark and had hired the famed Jomsvikings to attack Prince Sweyn in Norway, setting up the famous Battle of Hjorungavagr in a fjord south of Lade. King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ would emerge from that confrontation and then he would defeat King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway in the Battle of Svolder in 1000 AD, in an engagement precipitated over the hand of Queen Sigrid ‘the Haughty’ of Sweden. Later he attacked England in revenge for the following St. Brice’s Day Massacre of Danes in 1002 AD and he fought a protracted war with the Saxon King Aethelred ‘the Unready’ that could only be described as the harvesting of the English for sale as slaves in Baghdad and Constantinople. With the help of his son, Prince Valdamar of Kiev, and the legions and cataphracts of Hraes’, he conquered England on Christmas Day of 1013, but victory was not kind to him.
BOOK EIGHT: The Saga of King Canute ‘the Great’ Sweynson
Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ Sveinson of Kiev, who had supported his father, King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark in attacks upon England left his ‘Czar’ sons in charge of Hraes’ and took over as King Valdamar of England, but the Latin Christian English revolted against his eastern name and Orthodox Christian religion and brought King Aethelred back from exile in Normandy and Valdamar had to return to Hraes’ and gather up the legions he had already sent back after his father’s victory. His half brother was ruling in Denmark and his sons were ruling in Hraes’ so, in 1015 AD Grand Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ of Kiev was written out of Hraes’ history and in 1016 the Latin Christian Prince Canute ‘the Great’ returned to England to reclaim his throne. He defeated Aethelred’s son, King Edmund ‘Ironside’ of England, at the Battle of Assandun to become King Canute ‘the Great’ of England and later King Knute ‘the Great’ of Denmark and Norway as well. But that is just the start of his story and later Danish Christian Kings would call his saga, and the sagas of his forefathers, The Lying Sagas of Denmark, and would set out to destroy them, claiming that, “true Christians will never read these Sagas”.
BOOK NINE: The Saga of King William ‘the Conqueror’ Robertson
The Third Danish Conquest of Angleland was seen to herald the end of the Great Viking Manifestation of the Middle Ages, but this, of course, was contested by the Vikings who were still in control of it all. Danish Varangians still ruled in Kiev and Danes still ruled the Northern Empire of Canute ‘the Great’, for the Normans were but Danish Vikings that had taken up the French language, and even Greenland and the Newfoundland were under Danish control in a Hraes’ Empire that ran from the Silk Road of Cathay in the east to the Mayan Road of Yucatan in the west. “We are all the children of Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’,” Queen Emma of Normandy often said. Out of sheer spite the Saxons of England took over the Varangian Guard of Constantinople and would continue their fight against the Normans in Southern Italy as mercenaries of the Byzantine Roman Empire. They would lose there as well, when in the Fourth Crusade of 1204, the Norman Danes would sack the City of Constantinople and hold it long enough to stop the Mongol hoards that would crush the City of Kiev. It would be Emperor Baldwin ‘the First’ of Flanders and Constantinople who would defeat the Mongol Mongke Khan in Thrace. But the Mongols would hold Hraes’ for three hundred years and this heralded the end of the Great Viking Manifestation. The Silk Road was dead awaiting Marco Polo for its revival. But the western Mayan Road would continue to operate for another hundred years until another unforeseen disaster struck. Its repercussions would be witnessed by the Spanish conquerors who followed Christopher Columbus a hundred and fifty years later in the Valley of the Mound Builders.
By recreating the lives of four generations of Hraes’ Ukrainian 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 Hraes’ Ukrainian 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 Hraes’ and returned to their kingly duties in Denmark with a lot of Byzantine Roman ideas and heavy cavalry and cataphracts.