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 SEVENTEEN:
BOOK TWO: THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON
A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert
© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
17.0 DIRGE OF ALFGEIR OR THE VIKING AND THE NUN (Circa 831 AD)
“First, they laid him in his grave, over which
a roof was erected, for the space of ten days, until
they had completed the cutting and sewing of his
clothes. They also brought together his goods, and
divided them into three parts. The first of these for
his family; the second is expended for the garments they
make; and with the third they purchase strong drink,
against the day when a girl resigns herself to death,
and is burned with her master.”
From a manuscript of Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan
(831 AD) In the morning, King Frodi got himself a ladder and went up into the rafters of his high seat hall and took down the war arrows of his father. He gave one to a messenger to take to King Roller of Norway; another he had passed around his own native Denmark; and the third he gave to Erik to take to the tributary Sclavs. Erik had selected choice men of his Centuriata to accompany him, but, as it turned out, Alfgeir and Einar Cuff had been planning a spring trading expedition down the Southern Way and he had asked Erik to accompany him. So Erik took only one aghast old woman, Gotwar, with him, for no one knew better the court and habits of the Huns. They set sail in a merchant vessel bound for Sclavia with a commission to raise a Sclav army, and further instructions to determine the strength and attitude of the Khazar forces.
Erik passed King Frodi’s war arrow onto the subject Sclavs, then their party proceeded on up the Dvina River. When they came to the Dvina-Dnieper Portage, they unloaded horses and furs and slaves–the wares of Southern Way trade–then unfooted their mast and left their ship hidden in an overgrown grassy cove of one of the Dvina tributaries. Alfgeir led the mounted party up an old familiar path. Soon they were deep in the tall forests of Eastern Europe. It was yet early spring; the weather was cold and wet; patches of snow remained upon the ground in shaded areas and, as the forest grew thicker, its carpet became whiter. At times, they rode the better part of a day without seeing sunlight, just patches of blue sky straight overhead, framed by the sombre hues of the evergreens all about them. And the dark drab greens grew, themselves, out of the blackness of shadows, and there was an eerie calm in the woods. Birds and animals could be heard off in the distance, but never nearby. Always, silence greeted them.
After several days, they fell into a routine: the morning breaking of bread, riding till noon, alimentation, consisting of roast meats from the previous evening’s meal, then more riding for the rest of the day; in the evening they would make camp, pitching awnings in the shelter of the trees, and they would hunt small game and cook cakes of bread and roast meats and eat and drink about the campfire, and then they would retire to their sleeping furs and their slave girls and the warmth and companionship available, for these comforts would be gone on the return–the slave girls on sale in some Baghdad market, the furs on their way to Constantinople. In their place would be cool silks and silvers and the coldness of gold.
One morning, just before noon, Alfgeir was looking for a place to halt for lunch. A way up the trail they could make out a clearing, but Alfgeir halted the column and looked into the woods suspiciously. Behind him, Erik, too, sensed something dangerous. As usual, there was no sound of birds about them, but, disquietingly, there were no animal sounds further down the path. All stood still and there was a perfect stillness about them. Erik sniffed at the air, and his blacksmith’s nose picked up a strange hint of oiled steel. “Weapons,” he hissed, as he took up his shield. All followed suit, and, as he began to unsheathe Tyrfingr, armed bandits began dropping out of the trees all about them. Erik wheeled his horse about in the narrow path, and he lashed out with Tyrfingr at an assailant leaping at him from a nearby branch, and he hacked him near in twain.
“Lithuanians!” Alfgeir shouted, riding up beside Erik. “Warriors stand your ground, all others make for the clearing!”
Arrows began flying out from the trees as the Danes countered against their attackers. Slaves and merchants whipped their frightened horses and made a dash for the clearing, but many of the slave women were dragged from their animals and carried off into the woods. Erik caught all this as he battled brigands still dropping from the trees. Several darts were lodged in his shield, and several merchants had fallen, pierced with arrows, but the Lithuanian warriors paled before the Danish counterattack, led, with surprising effectiveness, by Alfgeir, who seemed to be everywhere shouting instructions. Erik was caught up in his own battle fury. His horse had fallen, with an arrow through its jugular, and a knot of native warriors were closing about him, and Tyrfingr began to glow and howl through the air as he swung the blade in deathly earnest, and Lithuanian corpses began piling up all around him. Then, suddenly, they were gone, back into the trees from whence they had dropped with only a sparse scattering of arrows to cover their flight. One of these darts arced gracefully towards Alfgeir as he wheeled his horse about. Erik opened his mouth to shout a warning. Alfgeir’s mount crossed its forelegs in the midst of its manoeuvre. Einar Cuff looked up at Erik and followed his eyes in time to see the arrow part the back of Alfgeir’s ribs just below the right shoulder blade. Alfgeir slumped forward onto the neck of his horse and clung to both mount and life. Einar ran to his aid and helped his adopted father down from the steed. Erik joined him as Alfgeir opened his eyes and whispered, “I fear we’ll have nothing but trouble from these Lithuanians. They’re hard-nosed…” and he lapsed into a coma.
They set up camp in the clearing, and old Gotwar bandaged up Alfgeir’s wound and the wounds of others. She was still a Priestess of Odin, a witch, and a healer, even in her fallen estate, and she carved out rune cures for the injured. From a cat skin bag, she withdrew a handful of bones and she cast these upon the ground and she mumbled chants in her low crackling voice as she circled her right hand over them. She then gathered up the bones and she cast them again and repeated the process. “The others shall survive their wounds, but Odin cries out for Alfgeir. It is his fate,” she pronounced matter of factly.
Alfgeir was laid up in a sick-tent a little way from the camp with no one to tend him save the priestess, Gotwar. The Lithuanians could be heard off in the woods, and sometimes they could be seen at its edge, and once they attempted to shower the camp with arrows until Erik strung his powerful bow and killed an archer with a dart. But they did not attack. Einar Cuff said it was because they feared Erik and his sword, Tyrfingr, and the Danish lieutenant expressed much admiration for the weapon. Still, everyone expected an attack at any moment, and a strong guard was posted. Their furs were intact, but there were few slave girls left to protect. Erik had lost the woman he had been sleeping with, so he selected a rather drab young girl, all dressed in black with a white hood, and that night he took her to his tent.
She sat below the awning of his tent, staring out into the darkness, and she spoke to Erik. “I left Paris to spread the word of Christ amongst the pagans, but, in Frisia, raiders captured our whole mission. Twelve nuns and two priests they carried off in chains, captives, and they took us north to sell into slavery. I was separated from the rest and I was taken to a town your people call Hedeby to be sold.”
Erik sensed the grief the young woman felt, and he put a cloak around her shoulders and he, too, stared off into the darkness.
“In Hedeby, I saw a man whom I recognized, and he saw me. Dirty, dishevelled and in chains, my habit torn and filthy, the Bishop Prudentius saw me and he rode over to me and dismounted. He told me he was part of a mission to Denmark and he promised to ransom me, whatever the cost. He rode off to get a mark of silver, but while he was gone, I was sold, and I was taken aboard a ship and brought here.”
Erik held the young woman as she sat shivering in the cold night air, and he kissed her.
“His offer still stands,” she proffered Erik. “Any Christian settlement with a priest shall hold good the word of Bishop Prudentius,” but Erik ignored her offer and led her into the tent and settled her amongst his furs, for he could not understand a word of her French.
The next day, the young woman in black became determined to teach Erik how to speak her language and how to read and write Latin. She had not given up on being ransomed.
On the second day, it was announced that Alfgeir’s condition had worsened, and on the morning of the third day, old Gotwar took a cat-gut cord with her out to the sick-tent, and a few minutes later she returned and told all that Alfgeir had died in the night.
They packed up their camp and their furs and their dead, and they tethered a string of young slave girls behind Gotwar’s nag, and in a day, they were out of the Lithuanian lands and into Radimichi territory. The Radimichi were Slavs, not too war-like and open to trade. Alfgeir’s family maintained a Danish post there, on the banks of a Dnieper tributary, and, within two days, Erik’s trading company–for all had elected him as their new leader–reached this. All the while, the young nun had remained with Erik, riding with him and teaching him languages.
The post consisted of several longhalls in a clearing by the riverbank, along with a large stable for horses, warehouses for the storage of furs and goods and a number of boat sheds, where monoxylan, straked dugout boats used by the Slavs in Dnieper trade, were built. This was the jumping off point for Southern Way trade and it reminded Erik of Hawknista, both in strength and solitude.
The relatives of Alfgeir placed his body in an open grave and covered it with a tent, then divided his possessions into thirds: one they kept for themselves, the second was used in the preparation of his funeral goods, and the third they spent on feasting his friends and relatives. Then the family asked of all the slave girls, who of them would like to journey with her master, and the young woman that Alfgeir had last slept with stepped forward and volunteered. Two females of Alfgeir’s clan were then assigned to accompany the girl wherever she went. As days of feasting and preparations progressed, she took up drinking and singing in praise of her master and she learned all she could about him from his family. They, in turn, took exceptional care of her, her handmaidens often combing her hair and washing her feet.
Alfgeir’s family built for him a beautiful ship from oak they had cut and seasoned the previous year, and they rigged it with silks and a crew of wood carved figures, then they hauled it onto the riverbank and supported it between four piles of birch firewood. They then brought forth a sleeping bench and placed it upon the deck of the ship and erected an awning over this. Gotwar had been asked by the family to be the Angel of Death in the ceremony, to which she readily agreed. She placed Alfgeir’s personal effects about the boat in a prescribed manner, while his family drew him forth from the open grave. Alfgeir’s corpse had blackened with the cold, lips had shrivelled, exposing teeth, but otherwise he remained unchanged. The family washed his body and cut his hair and pared his nails, then clothed him in funeral garments they had prepared and placed him in the tent upon the ship. They set strong drink and fruit and basil beside him, and they laid his weapons alongside him. Then they brought forth two dogs and struck them in two, and a cock and a hen, and a cow and a bull and a mare and a stallion were likewise sacrificed in Alfgeir’s honour.
While all this was going on, the slave girl that was to accompany Alfgeir went from tent to tent of Erik’s company, and she drank and coupled with the men who had befriended Alfgeir, and all of them said, “I do this for the love of your master.”
In the late afternoon, a doorframe was erected and six men of Alfgeir’s family raised the slave girl up, so she could look above it.
“Lo, I see my father and my mother,” she cried. Then they lifted her above it once again.
“Lo, I see all my deceased relatives sitting,” she cried again, and they raised her a third time.
“Lo, I see my master sitting in paradise, and paradise is so beautiful, so green, and with him are his relatives deceased, and now he is calling for me. Take me to him, please,” and she fell back into the arms of the men, quite drunk, and they took her to the ship.
Old Gotwar awaited her beside the ship with her cat-gut cord and a dagger. The young woman gave the old crone the two bracelets from her wrists, and she gave her handmaidens an anklet each, then the six men lifted her up onto the ship and lifted old Gotwar also, and then they clambered aboard, themselves, and all stood upon the oaken deck.
Now all the men of Erik’s company and all the men of the post gathered around the ship with their shields and staves and Erik passed up a cup of strong drink to the slave girl. She took the drink and she sang over it and she drank it, then said, “With this I take leave of those who are dear to me.” When she was finished the drink, old Gotwar grabbed her by the hair and hauled her into the tent. The men about the ship began beating their shields with the staves as though they were marching into battle, and the noise covered the screams of the girl as old Gotwar beat her into submission. The six men on the deck then entered the tent, one at a time, and had their way with the slave girl. Then they laid the young woman down beside her master, with two men at her feet and two men at her hands and two men at the cat-gut cord that Gotwar knotted about her delicate white throat. Then the old crone plunged a dagger deep between the ribs of the wailing slave girl as the two men strangled her, and, all the while, the men outside the ship were beating upon their shields. Moments later, the young woman set off to join her master in paradise and the living departed the ship. Had the young woman turned out to be a witch, Gotwar would not have ended her quickly, for witches had to be slain without drawing blood, but such was not the case here, as it turned out, so she was killed with a quick stroke.
Four relatives of Alfgeir emerged, naked, from a building and walked backwards towards the ship carrying torches. They approached the piles of birch firewood in this fashion, never looking at the ship, and set them ablaze with their brands. Soon the ship and the tent and the chieftain and his slave girl were one blazing funeral pyre and within an hour all were reduced to a pile of ashes.
Erik and his company had been ten days cremating Alfgeir, nonchalantly spending the time attending to the obsequies of their dead friend rather than to the duties owed their lord, and this without reservation, but, their duties to their captain complete, they set about executing the orders of their king. To this end, keeping in mind their fragile existence in the world, especially the part of the world in which they presently existed, Erik decided to split his company in two, with Einar Cuff leading the second party. It was imperative that one group get back to King Frodi with a report on the disposition of the Khazars. The next morning, Einar Cuff’s group set out on horse, while Erik’s company launched forth in a monoxyla purchased from Alfgeir’s relatives and the young woman in black was at his side. She had remained at his side the whole ten days as if fearing she might be left behind there and she kept teaching her Dane the French of Frankia because he seemed to enjoy learning languages and was less likely to forget her or replace her, as he apparently, as a trader, valued the knowledge of knowing many tongues.
Monoxylan were clumsy boats compared with the refined straked ships that Erik was used to, but sailing down the Dnieper was no Nor’Way crossing either, and, within hours, his company had passed from the territory of the Radimichi to the lands of the Dregovichi. The sun was yet high in the east and a steady breeze blew from the north, adding its power, by sail, to the speed of the current and the efforts of the rowers, driving the vessel south towards the Black Sea. Local fishermen could be seen working the shores of the Dnieper, but no Dregovichi boats came forth to challenge the Danes. Still, expectation of naval attack grew with each passing day, as Erik’s people plied their way down that immortal river. The young slave girl, all dressed in black, continued to teach Erik her French as they sailed and rowed down the river, and she was surprised at how quickly Erik was picking up both her own and the Latin tongue, for, while many people read the Roman language, there were very few who still conversed in it. When they moved into Drevjane territory, activity picked up and the locals could be seen making preparations for war: monoxylan were being built, weapons were being forged and warriors could be seen training; but, again, none came forth to challenge the Danes. The young woman in black continued to sleep with Erik the whole time and she made sure she pleasured him in Frankish ways that would preclude him from being attracted to the other few slave girls still left in the company.
One night after the woman in black had pitched their tent, she sat before the awning, staring out into the darkness, and she spoke to Erik in her French. “I left Paris to spread the word of Christ amongst the pagans, but, in Frisia, raiders captured our whole mission. Twelve of us nuns and two priests they carried off in chains, captive, and they took us north to sell us into slavery. I was separated from the rest and I was taken to a town your people call Hedeby to be sold.”
Erik already knew this, had sensed this, and he put a Roman red cloak around her shoulders and he stared off into the darkness with her. “Go on,” he told her in Latin.
“In Hedeby, I saw a man whom I recognized, and he saw me. Dirty, dishevelled and in chains, my habit torn and filthy, the Bishop Prudentius saw me, and he rode over to me and dismounted. He told me he was part of a mission to Denmark and he promised to ransom me, whatever the cost. In retrospect, I realize that he should have just traded me for his horse, but he rode off to get a mark of silver, and while he was gone, I was sold, and I was taken aboard a ship and brought here.”
Erik held the young woman as she sat shivering in the cold night air, and he kissed her again.
“His offer still stands,” she proffered Erik. “Any Christian settlement with a priest shall hold good the word of Bishop Prudentius,” so Erik accepted her offer and he told her that there was but one Christian church in Kiev and that he would deliver her there. He then led her into their tent and they settled amongst their furs and made love, and, after, they conversed in her French for a long time. In the early morning darkness, Sister Saint Charles began her day by throwing up and Erik knew that she was pregnant and that the child was his. She had finally told him her name, and that she was from a little convent between Rouen and Paris. Erik had planned on sneaking his ship past Kiev in the early light of dawn but now he changed his plans and took a somewhat bolder tack.
They sailed down the Dnieper in the light of day and in the land of the Poljane, Erik’s party was intercepted by ships of the fleet of King Olmar. Two ships of the fleet escorted the monoxyla to the main quay of Kiev and Prince Erik addressed the king of the Poljane, who was standing on the wharf, “Why do you prepare such a fleet for war? For whom is all this armour made ready? Where are you off to, King Olmar, with a fleet such as this made ready for war?”
“We are off to make war with the son of King Fridleif ‘the Swift’,” King Olmar shouted, referring to King Frodi by his sire’s name, a slander on his lack of renown, and ‘the Swift’ a further slander on his father for his renown at having deferred fighting King Charlemagne of the Franks. “Who addresses me thus? Whose shrewd tongue asks such questions of me?”
It seemed that King Olmar had guessed the identity of Erik, who responded to the slur against his king: “Vanquished fate awaits he who tries the unconquered. No one attacks King Frodi with impunity.”
“Seize them!” King Olmar ordered, and a large number of Slav troops boarded Erik’s monoxyla.
“It is unseemly for so many to attack so few,” Erik shouted to King Olmar as he, too, boarded the ship. Erik had his hand upon the hilt of Tyrfingr and his crew were backed up behind him at the stern of the ship. The Christian nun, Sister Saint Charles, stood bravely beside her Dane, her Ogier.
King Olmar marched through his troops towards Erik. “One must attack one’s enemies, no matter how lean they be,” and two very stalwart guards seized Erik by either arm, tearing his tunic open. “What is this?” King Olmar asked, tearing Erik’s exposed trident cloak pin from around his neck. “Where did you get this?”
“It belonged to my mother,” Erik started. Olmar scowled in disbelief. “She was a captive from the eastern realms,” Erik explained. “Her name was Boddi,” but he could see the name meant nothing to King Olmar.
“I’ve no doubt you got this from someone’s mother,” King Olmar said, angrily. “Still,” he continued, studying Erik’s dark eyes, “I shall keep this trinket till we meet again, and we shall meet again. For now, you may carry on. Meet with King Hunn. Set the field of battle.”
“That I shall,” Erik reassured him, “but I have rescued a nun from captivity and I wish to turn her over to the priest of your Christian church here. Can you give me leave to deliver her into his hands?”
King Olmar looked as though to object, for he was a follower of Perun, the Slavic god, and he cared naught for Christians, either for or against, but he looked at the bauble in his hands and Erik could see that he had recognized it as something from his past, and he gave Erik and the nun leave to enter Kiev, but he left soldiers on the monoxyla and the king carried on organizing his fleet. The two soldiers who had grabbed Erik now escorted him into their city, and the Viking and the Nun were soon standing on the porch of the little wooden church talking to the priest.
“I don’t have a mark of silver to give you,” the priest told Erik, “but I’m sure Bishop Prudentius of Paris is good for it.”
“Well, you have a mark of silver now,” Erik said, pressing it into his hands, and he gave Sister Saint Charles another mark of silver to spend on her way through Christian lands and he gave the young woman a deep kiss and said, “Take care of your child and I shall see you in Rouen some day. If you need further silver, just tell your Christian brethren to send notice to me, Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ Boddason-Ragnarson, in Liere, Denmark. We have a Christian church there as well, a bit larger than this one, but not by much,” and Erik departed with his escort and he looked back at the nun a few times before he disappeared down another street. The soldiers took him back to the quay and held him in a lot more respect than they’d had on the way to the church. Sister Saint Charles even saw the difference in their demeanour as they walked alongside Erik as he’d left the church. They walked him down the quay and let him rejoin his company on the monoxyla. Prince Erik saw King Olmar further down the quay and he had parting words for him.
“Remember,” Erik shouted as his men rowed away from the Slavs, “no one attacks King Frodi with impunity!”
“All brave souls remain unconquered till vanquished,” King Olmar replied. “Death befalls the brave but once,” he continued, “and is, often as not, unexpected fate,” he trailed off, warning Erik not to put too much trust in fate or fortune. They were words that Erik would remember, so he thanked King Olmar for this good advice and they parted adversaries, rather than enemies.
Further down the Dnieper, old Gotwar warned Erik of rapids that would soon be upcoming. She knew of a route that would take them to the Khazar portage with only one land crossing. Now, the monoxyla they were sailing was well suited to overland portages, being founded upon a dugout base that could be dragged like a sledge without worry of damaging a keel, so Erik followed the advice of Gotwar, and soon they had left the Dnieper and were sailing up the Orel River. When they had reached its source, they portaged across to the Donets River and sailed down it to the Don. The Khazar portage was an overland road between the Don and the Volga Rivers, and it was with this goal in mind that they were sailing up the Don when Erik’s keen eye spotted the campfire smoke of a great army inland on the Onogur plains, a great stretch of land covered in rich grasses and almost totally devoid of trees. Erik had given all their horses to Einar Cuff’s overland expedition, save one, so they now let Erik and the small pony off at the riverbank, then anchored the monoxyla in the relative safety of the centre of the river to await his return. It had been three weeks since they had cremated Alfgeir, almost all of their journey by river.
Erik rode for a day, enjoying the feel of the horse and the land beneath him, before he came upon the Hunnish host early the next morning. The vanguard was composed of a huge formation of cavalry, kicking up dust for an enormous column of foot-soldiers that stretched across the great open plain from one horizon to the next. No one bothered with the Northman as he rode most of the day down the column towards its rear-guard formation. Erik counted fifteen standards, flags of the different tribes and tribute nations that composed the Khazar empire, and behind each of these standards flew a hundred and twenty group standards with twenty men to a group. Erik did some quick mental calculations, thanking Kraka for her meal of wisdom, which had enlightened him to the ways of numbers, and came up with a total of thirty-six thousand foot-soldiers, not including cavalry, archers and support personnel. As Erik approached the rear of the column, a rider came forth from the rear-guard formation towards him.
“Have you ever seen such an army as this?” the stranger shouted in Norse. Erik could understand the tall, gaunt, battle-scarred warrior that neared him, but the dialect was old, the accent ancient. His face was shaven, but whiskered, and he had a patch over one eye. His good eye was bright green and ravenous and shaded by a wide brimmed hat that flopped about as he rode, somehow managing to stay upon his head. “The Khazars learned all about the handling of hosts during their Arab wars a half century ago. I am General Ygg,” he introduced himself. “You must be the Norwegian, Erik Ragnarson, sent by King Frodi Fridleifson of Denmark to determine the strength of the Khazars.”
Erik was surprised that the man not only knew who he was but was expecting him. General Ygg took Erik to the pavilioned chariot of the kagan bek, which was more freight wagon than cart, having four huge wheels and being drawn by a dozen oxen. As they neared the travelling pavilion, awnings were raised and, on his throne, sat King Hunn, ruler of the Huns and Kagan Bek of the Khazars. “What mischief is your King Frodi about?” the kagan bek asked in Greek, not mincing words. General Ygg translated this into the ancient Norse tongue that Erik could understand.
“King Frodi awaits you not at home,” Erik responded in Latin, “but sallies forth to meet you. Oft-times he who covets another’s dominion fails in his own reign.” Once again General Ygg translated, surprised that the Norseman could converse in the tongue of the Emperors of Constantinople.
At Erik’s answer, the kagan bek leaned over and said, “Could this Erik we were expecting be the Erik ‘Bragi’ that falsely accused my daughter of impropriety?” and a cruel smile played upon his lips. “Seize this man!” he shouted. “I’ll have his head on a pike, too!”
Instantly, a dozen dark-skinned Turk cavalry officers were around Erik, who had Tyrfingr drawn in an instant. “It is unseemly for so many to attack one man,” Erik shouted, wheeling his horse about.
General Ygg came to Erik’s aid, saying, “It is unseemly and unwise. We must allow one man to return to the Danes to terrify them with news of our formidable array. If they come with too small a host, they will but flee before us.”
“But this is Erik ‘Bragi’,” King Hunn objected.
“Had you spared the others,” General Ygg countered, “as I requested, you could keep Erik and send them back. The prize fish escapes because we’ve eaten the bait.”
“Tell your King Frodi,” King Hunn began, “that I come to place Queen Hanund’s son, his son, Prince Hlod, upon the throne of Denmark.”
Erik was shocked to suddenly learn that Hanund had been pregnant when King Frodi had sent her back to her father. Having a cuckold son to lay claim to the Danish throne would certainly be a surprise to his king and threw a whole new complexion on the campaign of the Khazars.
“Escort him to the vanguard and release him,” the kagan bek instructed his cavalrymen. “We shall meet again soon enough.”
“You are to be released,” General Ygg explained. “I’m sorry about your friends. Had it been up to me, you would all have been freed, but your friends died so that you might live.”
Prince Erik followed General Ygg’s eyes, and behind the pavilioned chariot of the kagan bek, upon the spears of a dozen Turkish lancers, were the heads of Einar Cuff and all those in his party. Erik caught up his breath and paled with the spectacle, then colour returned to his face as anger welled up within him. He looked down at the drawn blade of Tyrfingr and it started to glow, and he remembered the dwarf Dvalin and the curse of the sword, and he lashed out in a powerful downward stroke at the Turk nearest him. Tyrfingr bit into the helm of the man and passed through the mass of his body as though it were not there and passed through the man’s horse and was not sated till biting greedily of the earth. And, though the follow-through of the blow very nearly unseated Erik, he jerked the broad sword free of the ground as though it were a feather, spun his horse around and charged at the cavalrymen furthest from the Hunnish host, killing two more as he made good his escape.
“This bodes not well for us,” Kagan Bek Hunn related to General Ygg. “There is magic in the swords of the Danes.”
Chapter 18: SEA OF CORPSES or THE CONQUEST OF KIEV (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.