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 NINETEEN:


Saint Stephen of Surozh, Crimea circa 717 AD


A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert

© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert



            “A few years after the death of the Saint (St. Stephen

            of Surozh) there came a large Russ army from

            Novgorod–Prince Branliv, very strong.”

            Ignatius the Deacon (c.820-842)

(831 AD)  The Black Sea seemed the end of the earth to Erik.  He had travelled the farthest reaches of Norway, sailed the worst Arctic ocean storms, buried friends in the eastern marches, and now he stood upon the southernmost shore of the Crimean Peninsula.  It seemed as though he had travelled the length and breadth of the world.  How could there be more?

“Such a journey shall soon be yours,” the dwarf, Dvalin, had told him of travelling the eastern realm, “and great though it is, it shall be only one of many long trips you shall make in your lifetime, my lord.”  This was not the end of the earth, Erik knew.  There was much more.

In fact, Erik was just about at the centre of the known world at that time.  To the southwest was the Eastern Roman Empire, that great hulking remnant of the immense Roman Empire;  to the south was the Arab Caliphate, a young zealous empire at the peak of its expansion;  and to the east was the Khazar Khaganate, a loose confederation of Asian and Caucasian tribes engaged in commercial trade;  further to the west was the Frankish domain, the Holy Roman Empire;  to the south were the Black lands, to the southeast the Indian provinces and to the east Serkland, the land of the Turks;  and to the far, far east was Cathay, the mysterious land of the Chinese dynasties.  This was the extent of the world as far as Erik had learned from the merchants and scholars and kings of his day.  Indeed, it was the extent of the known world of civilized man for many centuries to come.  And beyond all this, Erik had heard, lay a new world to the far west that an Irish monk called Brendan had discovered.  Erik wondered if he was getting old, getting tired.  Was the campaign wearing on him?  It was beginning to seem as if he was taking on the world.  King Frodi’s Southern Way was turning out to be a vaster challenge than he had ever anticipated.

Erik had stepped out of his pavilion to greet the midsummer day.  To the west, he could see the walled city of Cherson, an outpost of the Roman Empire.  On the approach of the Danes they had immediately shut themselves up within their works and had sent a ship off to their emperor requesting aid.  All attempts to discuss a peace with the Greeks had fallen upon deaf ears, so the Danish army began pillaging the countryside thereabout, as much to terrify the populace as to obtain supplies.  They could not afford to have a strong enemy at their rear while engaging the Khazars.  Cherson was too strong a fortress to reduce quickly, so King Frodi had decided that fear would be their protection against treachery.  “It will make them think twice about attacking us,” Erik had agreed.  And Gotwar made her usual sacrifices to Odin, god of hosts, ensuring a successful campaign against the Huns.

The Danish army proceeded east, foraging and pillaging as it went, until it came upon the Gothic city of Sugedea, or, as it was known by the Greeks, Surozh.  Imperceptibly, control of the land had shifted from Greek to Gothic inhabitants, descendants of the followers of Eormanrik, who, four centuries earlier, had made the very same trek that the Danes were now completing.  Resistance increased as the Danes began trampling upon a hardier people.  Erik was on horse when he came upon a monastery and a Danish unit that had faltered in its attack on a stout group of Gothic monks defending a stone sarcophagus.

“Why have you stopped?” Erik asked, rallying the men about himself.  “We must show no sign of weakness.  That is King Frodi’s new law.”

An old Danish veteran stepped forward and pointed to a tall lithe monk in the forefront of the Gothic defense and said, “The monk is crazy.  None of my men will kill a crazy man.  His troubled spirit will haunt them forever, and that is a law,” he spat, “that’s been around longer than young King Frodi.”

“That may well be,” Erik replied, angrily, “but an army cannot cater to the antics of a madman.  I’ll handle this.”  Erik dismounted and, hand upon Tyrfingr, approached the tall figure in the dark flowing robes.  He was a big man, Erik noted, with much the same frame as his brother Roller, but there was a mad glow in his eyes as though he defended something much more important than his very life.  In his hands he held an ancient sword, a two-hander of Vanir design, like the weapon Grep had carried with him to the harbour town of Liere to terrorize the villagers.  The effectiveness of the blade was apparent by the lifeless stare of a young Dane he had slain, there upon the cobbles of the square.  The monk was breathing heavily and drooling from the mouth as he rested both hands upon the pommel of that great sword.  “Is it you who owes me Bishop Prudentius’ ransom, one mark of silver, for the nun?” Erik said in broken Latin.

The mad monk stepped forward and answered Erik in equally rustic Latin, “If you are the one who freed the nun, your mark of silver awaits you in Cherson.  Word of your deed has spread along the coast, as though it was some miracle that had saved the bride of Christ.”

“Why do you resist us so, thusly?  It is a sign of madness,” Erik said.

His Latin being worse than Erik’s, the monk reverted to the ancient language that General Ygg had spoken when Erik had spied upon the Huns.  “We defend the tomb of Saint Stephen of Surozh.  We shall defend his uncorrupted body to the death!”

“Uncorrupted?” Erik responded in Norse.  “How do you mean uncorrupted?”  Suddenly he was intrigued.  The tall monk wiped the drool from his mouth, stood himself up erect and shook off the shroud of madness that had enveloped him, as though he had been awaiting the arrival of one such as Erik.

“Our saint’s body has remained untainted, though dead some years now,” the monk answered, and he lowered his sword to the pavement and approached Erik curiously.  “It is a sign of his holiness.  You, yourself, have an aura of the divine about you,” he said, moving his hands in front of Erik’s face as though he wished to feel the space about him.  “I beg that you respect and protect our patron saint.”

“I wish to see this uncorrupted body,” Erik said.  He remembered Alfgeir’s corpse and how shocked he was at its blackness, just days in the cold ground of the eastern realm.  “If what you say is true, if the body is truly unimpaired, we shall give some thought to respecting your saint.”

Erik walked with the monk over to the sarcophagus.  “I am Brother Gregory,” the monk introduced himself as he led Erik through the tight knot of clergy.

“My name is Erik Bragi,” the Norwegian responded.

“The Branliv Prince you are called hereabouts,” Brother Gregory said, “Eloquent Prince being its meaning.”

Four monks strained at the lid of the tomb and slid it askew, providing an angular opening through which to view the body.  Erik was amazed at the sight of it.  Except for a waxy pallor, the corpse looked as though it had held life only yesterday.  “How long has he rested here?” Erik asked.

“Over twenty years,” Brother Gregory said, placing a hand upon Erik’s shoulder.  “He is our saint, acknowledged by both the Eastern and Holy Roman Empires.”

“And if we spare this saint of yours,” Erik asked almost whimsically, “will you Goths give us your loyalty and support in our struggle against the Khazars?”

“That and more,” Brother Gregory promised.  “Although I cannot speak for our people, I have great influence with them and with my brother, General Ygg, whom you have already met, Erik Bragi.”

Erik stepped back from the monk, but Brother Gregory held him fast by the shoulder.  “We shall support your cause when you need us most in your campaign, for we have no love of the Huns, but we must be careful in how we execute it, as this is our homeland now and we have no realm to return to should the grandiose plans of the Danes fall through.”  Now Brother Gregory drew Erik close to him and whispered into his face, “Further, should you grant me this boon, I shall risk my life to save the life of your firstborn, for I have seen that it is God’s will that he shall need my aid.”

Erik leaned against the sarcophagus.  The stone was cold on the palm of his hand and moist, as of the earth.  “I shall have a son?” Erik asked, weakly.  “You have seen this?”

“It shall be some time in the coming,” Brother Gregory warned, “but you shall have a son.  You must have patience.”

Erik gathered himself up and shook his head.  He had been leaning against the stone sarcophagus, and the Danish troops were beginning to stir, fearing for his safety.  Erik turned to face his soldiers.  “There shall be no more pillaging today,” he announced.  “I want all things taken from the Goths returned to them.  Should there be dispute as to the amount taken, the property shall be returned twofold.”  Erik gathered up his horse’s reins and leapt up onto the saddle.  “I expect my orders to be followed by all.  Brother Gregory shall represent his people in any disputes.”  Erik waved at the monk, wheeled his horse about and rode off to spread his orders to other units.

All followed Erik’s wishes in this matter.  Word soon spread that Erik had had a vision that day at the tomb of Saint Stephen of Surozh, and, though, in fact, it had been Brother Gregory who had had the vision, Erik let the rumour stand.  King Frodi hated to see his treasury so drained, but, against Gotwar’s strongest objections, he too let Erik’s orders stand.  Never had he needed his brother-in-law’s uncanny wisdom more than now.

And, though the Khazar Khaganate awaited them in the east, and the Roman Byzantine Empire still stood in the southwest, and other far flung lands yet watched in mute disinterest, Erik awoke and rose the next day and viewed the Black Sea with a youthful vigour he had, too long, been missing.  It was good that Erik had this brief reprieve from his troubles, for on the morrow they would meet the Huns.

Chapter 20: THE KHAZAR WAR or SWIFT DANES  (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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