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 SIXTEEN:


The Khazar Kaganate (Marked in Red) of the Ninth Century


A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert

© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert


16.0  THE KHAZARS  (Circa 831 AD)


  “Concerning the king of the Khazars,

whose title is Kagan,

he appears in public only once every four months.

They call him the Great Kagan.

 His deputy is called Kagan Bek;

 he is the one who commands and supplies the armies,

manages the affairs of state,

            appears in public and leads in war.”

            Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan (c. 960 AD)

(831 AD)  Gotwar looked ancient.  She had aged incredibly in the three years since Erik had razed the house of Westmar.  Her skin had become a wrinkled patchwork of dry parchment and oily leather and her hair, stark white, was dishevelled and mangy.  Her teeth were all but gone, and her nose was red and swollen and tracked with veins.  She was a Priestess of Odin transformed.  A witch.  Erik shuddered just to look upon her; he avoided the experience, but there was a problem.  The Slavs had closed the Southern Way and the Khazars were behind it.  And old Gotwar knew the Khazars.

Years earlier, when King Frodi had come of marriageable age his regents had cast about for a suitable match.  Caught up in the grip of vice and decadence, young King Frodi foiled all proposals with claims of unsuitability, and when, at last, an equal had been found him in Princess Hanund, daughter of King Hunn, Kagan Bek of the Khazars, he parried by reminding all that his father, King Fridleif ‘the Swift’, had always warned against alliances made afar and that neighbours made the best matches.  Gotwar had been the one to convince him otherwise, and the developing Southern Way played no little part in the politics of it.  King Frodi became determined that the Danes would be the first to seek an alliance with the Orient.

“I convinced young King Frodi to send an embassy to the Khazars,” old Gotwar began, gulping greedily of the fine wine Erik had offered her, “but when he asked me to accompany the mission I was aghast.  It would be a dangerous proposal in a far-off land.  I was too old for it.  Then he offered me gold,” and she pointed at the necklace young Gunwar was wearing, the one Erik had won off the old crony in their flygting contest.  “I was torn between the wealth and the danger, so I asked that Westmar and my sons come along. They were the finest of champions,” she said bitterly, almost to herself, “none dispute that fact”.

She gulped her wine, passionately, and began her tale anew, as one driven, possessed.  “The journey was long and hard, cold and bitter, and dark dangers were everywhere.  The rivers steamed sorrows and the forests breathed death, but, finally, we came upon the great Scythian plain with the oriental delights of Khazaria before us.  The first tribe that we met were the Turkoi, westernmost of the seven Khazar tribes.  They were dark skinned Turkic-speaking nomads.  Dangerous people in a dangerous land, but trustworthy, and great horsemen.  Then we met the Onogur, a lighter skinned tribe that was semi-nomadic and very peaceful.  Finally, we came upon the Khazars, a most curious mix of people.  The Kara-Khazars were as light as the Greeks and very noble looking.  We travelled through lush gardens and vineyards, attended by civilized people that knew the meaning of hospitality and were eager at the opportunity for trade.  They admired our furs most of all and they would happily trade a mark of silver for a squirrel pelt.  They drank wine sweetened with honey and they ate meats cooked savoury with spices.  A party of them took us to see the Kagan Bek in their capital city.  Coming over a low rise, the capital lay spread out before us, a city the likes of which I have never seen.  Covering the many banks of the fanning Volga River estuary, this white brick city of towers and spires rose up into the sky, breaking the horizon into an array of bristling turrets and minarets.”

Gotwar had been famous for her brazen tongue, but Erik had never heard her spin a tale, and she wove her words surprisingly well.  Princess Gunwar was at the edge of her seat as the old woman paused for a refill of her cup.  It was a blustery spring evening outside, but the roaring hearth fires of Gunwar’s high seat hall kept the old woman flushed and her words began flowing again.  “The western half of the city is called Kazaran and is connected to Atil, the eastern half, by bridges of boats.  Kazaran, itself, is surrounded by a high white wall with four gates, and within the walls are the palaces and courts of the Kagan and the Kagan Bek and the homes of the pure-bred At-Khazars.  They are Jewish in religion and remain segregated from the Moslems of Atil.  Only from the At-Khazars can a new Kagan be chosen.  The Kagan Bek may come from any of the Khazar tribes, as has King Hunn from the tribe of Huns in the south of Khazaria.

“Now the Huns are a very dangerous tribe, brave and warlike, and they shape the heads of their warriors at birth to a point so that their skulls might resemble a helmet, though they wear none, and they shave themselves clean, leaving only a long lock hanging from the crest, a plume, as it were, on their helmed head.  So fierce are their warriors, it is said they can strike an Arab dead with a glance, and the Kagan Bek usually rises to power from this tribe.  All tribes fear the Huns, except the At-Khazars, who are very fine warriors in their own right, not so much as individuals, but in fighting as a group.  When we arrived in Kazaran, the Kagan Bek threw a great feast for us and our Onogur guides.  He was very receptive to talk of trade, for the Khazars tax all trade by a tenth, but we feared mention our true mission lest King Hunn take offence.  We were far from our homeland and would only get back by the grace of our host.

“Grep and the rest of my sons made a name for themselves as champions during the days between feasting, and they defeated all who came before them in battle exercises,” Gotwar said proudly, “be they Arab, Hun or At-Khazar.  Finally, on the third day of feasting, Princess Hanund graced us with her presence, for she was a fine raven-haired beauty.  When Westmar alluded jestingly that our young King Frodi was single and in need of a wife, she replied haughtily that King Frodi was in greater need of fame, for she had never heard of him.  Westmar went on, though, describing the attributes of our young king while I plied the young Princess with runes of infatuation and charms of love.  Soon we had her swayed to the point where we might approach her father, so Westmar and my sons went to King Hunn, in the midst of the banqueting, and demanded his daughter’s hand in our king’s name.  At first, King Hunn was reticent, but when Westmar drew his sword partway from its sheath and our sons did likewise and no eastern warriors came forth to meet this challenge, the King relented, saying he would like to hear Princess Hanund’s thoughts on the proposal.  Much to his surprise, the young Princess agreed, and the match was made, and the feasting resumed.  That is how King Frodi got his first Queen.”

Erik thanked Gotwar for the tale and allowed her to remain for supper, which pleased Gunwar.  The old woman had kept her word when Erik had spared her against Roller’s wishes, and she served her young princess faithfully.  Erik saw very little of the old woman, so it was not too taxing having her about.


“Concerning the Emperor of the Khazars,

 whose title is Caesar,

 he appears in public only once every four months.

 They call him Caesar Porphyrogennetos.

 His deputy is called Caesar Ordinarius;

 he is the one who commands and supplies the armies,

 manages the affairs of state,

 appears in public and leads in war.”

Brian Howard Seibert (c. 1980 CE)

Porphyrogennetos.  Born of the purple.  Born of the blood of the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar (c. 60 BC).  It came to Erik in a dream.  Emperor Valerian was at the head of an army of Twelve Legions.  Seventy thousand men….foot soldiers mostly and a few thousand light cavalry.  Against him was Shapur, King of Persia, with fifty thousand heavy cavalry lancers and another ten thousand mounted archers.  It was the middle of the third century of the Current Era as the two armies melded into one thrashing mass of soldiery, and the battle raged for hours before the Romans began to fall back before the mass of the heavy horse.  Both sides suffered equally under the hot eastern sun.  The Legions kept their formations as they worked their way back to a high bluff around which they settled and held their ground.  Heavy cavalry swept around the square of shields and attacked then retreated at will, for the Emperor’s light horse were gone by now, all dead or captured.  And King Shapur’s mounted archers circled at a safe distance and fired their arrows into the square knot of linked shields, the darts biting bone, finding gaps in the legionary armour.  Supplies were dwindling as the day wore on, with no sign of either side breaking.  When supplies were gone.  That would determine who had won.  And most of the Roman baggage train remained in the valley below with the Persian train beside it, resupplying the mounted archers when they’d expended all their arrows.  And pouring water over the sweating horse of Shapur’s heavy cavalry.

In a break in the fighting, Emperor Valerian rode forth with a group under the white flag of truce and requested terms.  He was immediately surrounded by heavy horse and they swept his party of light horse away with them to the painted pavilions of the Persian king.  Valerian looked back at his Legions still in formation and he watched in astonishment as a Persian supply troop left wagon barrels of water just outside of the shield walls for the parched foreign troops.

“We do not want to kill any more Romans than we absolutely have to,” King Shapur stated, as Emperor Valerian was led into the main pavilion.  “I have a job for them.”

He was half Valerian’s age with dark eyes and black flowing hair.  His white tunic still bore the marks of armour that had recently been stripped off him.  Valerian’s remaining armour was covered in dust and sweat and a bit of blood, and a bit of his short cropped black hair tufted out of his helmet across his steel grey eyes.

“We are not here to work.  We are here to fight,” the Roman Emperor protested weakly.

“Had you worked harder at fighting, perhaps it would be I who was seeking terms from you.  But that is supposition.  What I am going to offer you is choices.  You may fight on and, believe me, you will die.  Or you can live, and your Corps of Roman Engineers and men can build my new capital for me.”

Erik had been given knowledge of all things the nine days he had been in a coma at Hraegunarstead, his nine days upon the tree Yggdrasil, and it told him that south of Susa, Shapur had built his new capital, and he called it Bishapur, and south of that was a small construction town he called Kazaran, the Ran or House of Caesar.

Valerian was the first Roman Emperor ever captured in battle and was likely the only Roman Emperor to build a city, not in a day, just as Rome was not, but over a period of three years.  His men worked hard for their lives and, when the job was done, they were given the opportunity to work even harder for their freedom.  So, they built Shapur a dam, and Shapur, the ever-eloquent host, called it Band-E-Qaisar, or, Caesar’s Dam.  The Roman engineering that went into that weir was so good that the dam was still operating in Erik’s time.

“I have always found it puzzling that you spared me,” Valerian started.  “I can understand you sparing my men and, particularly my engineers, but to spare an old leader like me and to now give us all our freedom….it dumbfounds me.”

“In Rome, they say I use you as a foot stool to get upon my horse.  You are the second most important man in Persia.  I am a king and you are my guest, an emperor.  Even my Prime Minister is not of high enough station to order your death.  By holding you in high station, I ensure that my people hold me in even higher station.  Conversely, you Romans turn on your own so often, it is impossible to know who will next be ascending to the throne of Rome.  By protecting you, I protect myself; that is what the Persian kings have learned over the centuries since the time of the Greeks.  It is a thing Alexander and the Ptolemies learned from us.  But I digress.  As regards your freedom, I cannot let you return to Rome.  You may have suspected as much all along, but I was going to chance it, chance having a friend in Rome rather than an enemy.  We have worked well together over the years, my friend.”  And Valerian nodded in agreement.  “But I have bad news for you from Rome.  Your son, Emperor Gallienus, has been assassinated.  If I return you to Rome, you shall share his fate.”

But Shapur kept his word and gave Valerian and his men their freedom and lands north of the Caspian Sea, across the Volga River from a city called Atil.  And the Romans built their own city there and Valerian called it Kazaran.  Erik’s dream told him the city was so prosperous that the surrounding lands became known as Khazaria…Land of Caesar.  In an ironic twist, the city across from Kazaran, Atil, was the birthplace of Atilla the Hun, scourge of the Roman Empire.

Chapter 17: THE DIRGE OF ALFGEIR or THE VIKING AND THE NUN  (Circa 831 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.

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