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 THIRTY FOUR:
BOOK TWO: THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON
A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert
© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
34.0 THE BATTLE OF THE GOTHS AND THE HUNS (Circa 841 AD)
“On the Danube-heath below the Hills of Ash
I call you to fight, your foes meeting; Hraese…,
may Odin let the dart fly as I prescribe it!”
Gizur Grytingalidi; The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise
(841 AD) Over winter King Frodi heard rumours that Erik Bragi had been killed in Sweden. Although their friendship had been strained the last few years, Frodi was grief-stricken; following rumours, he set forth for the Swedish lands in the early spring, leading a small warfleet from Kiev, up the Dnieper and down the Dvina to the Baltic Sea. Off the shore of Sodermanland, the Hraes’ fleet met up with a huge fleet of the Goths; it was King Gestiblind and the army he had raised to fight the Huns. King Frodi learned from them that Erik ‘Bragi’ was alive and well and raising a host to destroy the Huns. When it became apparent that both fleets were bound for Birka, the foremost men of their respective kings got into a dispute over which ships should enter the harbour first. Since the smaller fleet of the Hraes’ was faster, Skalk the Skanian addressed the captain of the Hraes’ vanguard ship.
“Since we are both bound for the harbour of Birka,” Skalk yelled over the waves, “I think it only respectful that the smaller fleet follow the larger.”
Captain Arngrim, King Frodi’s foremost man of late, shouted back his reply, “You may be the larger fleet now, for we have left the bulk of our forces in Gardar, but when it comes time to fight the Huns, we shall have, by far, the largest force. Therefore, if one is to judge rights by size, it should be our fleet that leads all into the harbour of Birka.”
“Prospective size means little in the here and now,” Skalk said, “where we outnumber you four to one. But a battle would be against the wishes of the prince we both make haste to serve.” Skalk stood steady upon the deck of his ship, arms akimbo, a veritable giant of a man. “Perhaps you have a champion who will present your case in arms?”
Captain Arngrim left the bow of his ship to confer with his king, who sat brooding amidships with his children, Prince Alf and Princess Eyfura. All could see that King Frodi was not impressed with the overbearing conduct of the Goths, yet he wished to preserve the peace. But Arngrim saw the offer as a chance to prove himself to his monarch and, more importantly, the princess at his elbow. Eyfura stood beside her father, a reflection of the beauty that was once Queen Alfhild, and she was moved by the brave chivalry of the young captain. She had all the accoutrements of a princess, save a champion, and when she put her hand upon her father’s shoulder, leaned forward and passed the young captain her handkerchief, Frodi fell silent before the pleas of Arngrim and waved him forward into the fray.
The sea was calm, the day was bright, both fleets sat bobbing upon the waters as the two gaily painted flagships approached each other. Once they were manoeuvred portside to portside, oars were laid between them and lashed to the rowlocks, binding the two longships together, then boarding planks were laid across the topstrakes to form a combat platform, and the two champions armed themselves for battle. Arngrim was the first up on the platform and he looked back down into the Hraes’ ship at Princess Eyfura, who stood upon a rowing bench, steadying herself with a hand upon the mast. King Frodi remained seated, sullenly, and Prince Alf looked off in the stearingboard direction. Arngrim calmly tied Eyfura’s kerchief around his neck, gave her one last look, then bit into the linden shield he carried and took up the fit of the berserker. He was well into his rage when the giant, Skalk, stepped up onto the planks, and he attacked the Goth suddenly and ferociously. The older man fended off the young captain’s blows with some difficulty and his oak shield was soon battered beyond use. Skalk threw off the leaf and began an attack of his own. Taking his sword in both hands, he rained massive blows upon the shield of the Hraes’ captain, but the linden wood withstood the shock of the beating until the blows abated. Arngrim gave the giant no respite in which to rearm himself, and, as he countered with his second attack, the giant backed across to the outermost plank.
Years earlier a tiny wood ant had gnawed its way right through a huge timber that had been left in the forest to season, and from that timber was made a plank upon which Skalk the Skanian now stood, and the drift made by the ant ran through the width of the plank below the giant’s foot, so that, when Skalk stepped back to better absorb the shock of a blow, the plank snapped in half and the giant toppled backwards into the water. Captain Arngrim, still in his rage, leaped in after him, just entering the water as Skalk resurfaced, and he dealt him a mortal blow. The sea turned red with the giant’s blood and Skalk the Skanian slipped beneath the waves, never to be seen again. The cold waters sapped Arngrim’s berserk fury and a great weakness overcame him. His armour would have drowned him, had he not climbed atop his faithful linden shield. It took four strong men to haul him out of the water and into the Hraes’ longship. As Princess Eyfura was tending to Captain Arngrim, she noticed her handkerchief was gone, but she told no one. Instead, she dried his long blonde locks with another and then tied it tightly around his right bicep.
King Frodi’s flagship led the two fleets into the harbour of Birka and both King Bjorn ‘of the Barrows’ and Prince Erik ‘Bragi’ were waiting on shore to greet him. Erik and Frodi had not seen each other in years and, as they stood across from each other, tears welled up in both men’s’ eyes and they took the last few steps between them, as though completing a long, long journey; then they embraced.
“I’d heard you had died,” King Frodi cried. “That my foremost man was no more.”
“My thirst to avenge your sister has kept me alive,” Erik answered, truthfully.
Hard years had taken a toll on both men and it showed as they climbed aboard a carriage and waited for King Gestiblind to land. Erik now had a limp and King Frodi’s face was ravaged, not by age, but, as he claimed, by his own hands, a punishment he had executed upon himself for the murder of Alfhild. Erik knew otherwise.
When King Gestiblind landed, Erik went forth to meet him and learned of the slaying of Skalk the Skanian. Erik asked who had killed Skalk and was told it had been Arngrim, a captain in the fleet of King Frodi. He took note of the fact but said nothing.
A great feast had been prepared by King Bjorn on the arrival of the armies and, during the festivities, Captain Arngrim approached the guests’ high seat, where Prince Erik and King Frodi shared the most honoured bench, and he asked his king for the hand of his daughter, Princess Eyfura.
“What think you of this bold request, Erik?” King Frodi asked of his partner.
“I think that the slaying of Skalk was a foolish, though brave risk that has damaged our plans for a successful campaign. Rather than reward such destruction with the hand of your daughter, I think you should set young Jarl Arngrim forth on a constructive errand that shall help our cause, rather than hinder it.”
“What kind of an errand do you have in mind?” King Frodi asked. “Bear in mind, young captain, that you are in the presence of one of the clearest wits I have ever met.”
Jarl Arngrim stood silent while Erik passed his judgement.
“You must lead a force against King Egther of Permland and King Thengil of Finmark, for, of all the lands over which King Frodi holds sway, only those two have withheld their aid in our upcoming war with the Huns.”
“But I shall miss all the fighting in Khazaria,” Captain Arngrim countered angrily.
“Erik ‘Bragi’ speaks wise thoughts,” King Frodi answered. “If you are quick about it, you can subject the Finns to our rule and levy troops from their ranks to bolster our forces. You are to meet us on the Don Heath with your forces at your earliest opportunity.” Captain Arngrim’s attempts to object met with only one cold order from Angantyr Frodi. “You are to leave in the morning.”
Secretly that night, Princess Eyfura tied another handkerchief to the left bicep of her champion, so that his left arm would not be ashamed in the presence of his right.
The next day, just after Captain Arngrim had set out with a flotilla of ships, King Roller entered the harbour of Birka at the head of a huge Norwegian fleet. Roller hugged his brother, Erik, warmly, then grasped Frodi in his arms and near crushed him in greeting. It had been many years since Roller had seen the king who had granted him all of Norway. Erik then introduced his brother to Kings Bjorn and Gestiblind. That evening, they convened a huge war-thing. All the great chieftains and mighty warriors of Denmark, Gotland, Sweden, Norway and Gardar were in attendance. It took Erik’s thoughts back to his youth and his first war-thing in the court of King Gotar. The thrill and excitement, the huge throngs of warriors and troops, his first sight of Alfhild, his murdered queen. Erik felt, then, that she bore her husband no malice in dying. He only hoped he could show his brother-in-law the same forgiveness he had shown Queen Alfhild for her one slip. He looked over at King Frodi and he spotted Princess Eyfura at his elbow and he saw the fine-boned beauty of Alfhild once more and he remembered the warmth of his queen in a campaign tent on the Don Heath, the ghost of his queen, he reminded himself and he looked away.
In the week that passed, while the huge army made preparations, ships filled with warriors continued flocking to Sweden. Prince Erik’s half-brothers, Princes Ivar, Siward and Agnar arrived with a warfleet from Angleland and Prince Imair arrived with an Irish force in tow. A torch had been lit in the dark pagan night, a tale of two drapas, one written to lament the death of a princess, Gunwar’s Song, and another, written overnight, to save the life of the Bragning Prince, The Head Ransom Drapa, to avenge the death of his Skjoldung wife. Followers of Odin gathered from all over the Boreal lands. Troops were assembled and they sailed east, into the orient dawn, where Christians and Moslems and Jews converged on the south Scythian plain. On the Dvina River, the pagan Lithuanians, stalwarts of Satem, watched the great fleet go past and harried them not. On the Dnieper River, pagan warriors of the Radimichi joined the host, and in Kiev, where King Olmar had assembled the Drevjane and Poljane followers of Perun, the Slav god of war, the mighty fleet made repairs to their ships, then carried on, their ranks swelled by brave Slav soldiers. Up the Orel River they sailed, and a lengthy portage placed them upon the Donets, and soon the mighty host stood before the great stone walls of Sarkel, that strategic Khazar fortress built by the Greeks.
At the approach of the vast northern host, the small Hun garrison fled, leaving their Greek mercenary allies to fend for themselves. Erik watched the Roman troops as they rowed their great trireme ships out on the Don River in an attempted escape to Cherson. Sarkel stood, undefended, before the great army.
“Burn it to the ground!” Erik Bragi ordered. “Let no two stones stand atop one another,” he shouted, sealing the fate of that most hated fortress. Great stocks of firewood were gathered from miles around Sarkel and placed both within and without the walls of the deserted fortress. Erik, himself, struck the Fa Chu that sparked a blaze that would rage for three days within the mighty stone walls. The heat of the conflagration was so intense that huge monolithic blocks cracked in pieces and heavy Doric columns crumbled under their loads. Shortly after the fire had been set, scouts spotted great billows of smoke to the south, almost as if the plain about the Don was afire. A day later, when that blaze seemed to have died out, a mighty fleet appeared, sailing up the river. It was General Ygg and the ships of the Hraes’ Trading Company, manned by Hraes’ survivors and their Gothic allies.
General Ygg and the Hraes’ fleet had spent the winter on the Black Sea harrying Khazar shipping and attacking Greek coastal settlements. Their successes had so terrified the local populace that news of them had reached Constantinople, and their path of destruction was recorded in Roman annals. Within Erik’s bright pavilion the Goth General described the Hraes’ campaign. “I knew you would return, Erik,” the general explained, “so it seemed important to keep the Hraes’ Trading Company fleet intact and to make our presence felt. We received word from Kiev that you had come back at the head of an army, so we sailed up the Don knowing there would only be one direction in which you would head. We knew also that the Khazars would be sallying forth to meet you, so we were very wary as we sailed upriver. It’s too bad for the Greeks that they were not equally vigilant, for we caught them by complete surprise as they rounded a bend in the river. They had no time to prepare their Greek fire and, rather than have their secret fall into enemy hands, they torched their own ships and dove into the water. I have never seen flames so violent as those that literally tore apart the triremes. Fire floated and burned upon the water bringing most of the Greeks to a fiery end. Those that escaped the flames surrendered. That is what caused the billowing smoke you saw from even this great distance.”
The Khazar Empire was astir with the news of an impending attack by the Goths. King Humli, the great kagan of the federation, ordered a huge army assembled in Atil. The kagan bek, King Hunn, ordered all his men twelve years of age and up to arm themselves, and all ponies two years old and greater to be levied from the tribes. This mighty Hunnish host set forth from the heart of Khazaria to meet their enemy. Over a hundred thousand troops had been raised, under the command of one hundred and seventy kings and princes, and they marched, in a formation that stretched from horizon to horizon, towards the Fortress of Sarkel.
General Ygg stood before Prince Erik and King Frodi and the assembled host of the Varangians. “I claim the honour of riding forth to challenge the Huns. The Gothic people and the Hunnish horde have long been enemies. We Goths have won our greatest victories over these barbarians and suffered our greatest defeats. Let me sally forth with our challenge to arms.” King Frodi looked at Prince Erik then nodded to General Ygg. “Where shall I call the Huns to war?” the Gothic general asked his king.
“On the Don Heath, below the Khazar mountains, shall you challenge the Huns to battle. There your Goths have often waged war and gained many victories.”
So, as Erik had done a generation before, General Ygg set out to challenge the Huns to war. A ship took him across the Don River and he rode off on the dusty plain to find the Khazar army. After a hard day’s ride, he came upon the Hunnish host and he shouted out his challenge in a surprisingly loud voice:
“Hapless your host, fey is your kagan,
Our standards shall flutter over you,
Odin is angered!
“On the Don Heath, ‘neath the Khazar mountains,
we challenge you to fight–meet us, your foes;
the Hraes’ await you!”
“And may Odin,” Ygg prayed, “let loose the war-arrow as I have foretold.”
A large troop of Hun horsemen were at the forefront of the Khazar army and Prince Hlod and his father rode foremost of all.
“It is the Goth general, Yggerus, Angantyr’s man,” the prince said to his father. “Seize him!” Hlod shouted, but King Hunn waved his men back.
“Heralds who ride alone should not be harmed,” he said.
General Ygg paused a few moments before the Huns, showing no sign of fear, then rode for the Don Heath and marked the battlefield with four hazel poles. He then rode off towards the sunset and the Goth camp.
The yet burning fires of Sarkel showed the old man the way back to the Don River, and he lit a fire and made camp on the riverbank. Exhausted, he wrapped himself in a blanket and slept with his head on his saddle. An hour later, in dawn’s early light, a ship came to fetch him. Both King Frodi and Erik leapt onto the bank and strode into his camp.
“You found the Huns?” King Frodi asked the Goth.
“A hard day’s ride from here,” General Ygg answered, sitting up. “I challenged them to battle on the Don Heath. There they shall await us.”
“How strong are they?” Erik asked.
“Huge is their host,” General Ygg answered, and he could use only Greek terms to describe its vast size:
“Of soldiers they have six phalanxes,
every phalanx has five thousands,
every thousand thirteen hundreds,
and every hundred is four times counted.”
General Ygg had counted over a hundred and fifty thousand men. Erik and Frodi stepped back from Ygg as he rose to his feet. “We’ve perhaps half that number,” Erik said, “if we count the Valkyries.”
“A Valkyrie’s worth two Huns,” King Frodi commented. “Still, we’d better send out the call for more men.”
That day messengers were sent to Gothland, Kiev and further parts to levy more troops. The Varangian army was ferried across the Don River by ships of the Hraes’ fleet and it assembled and began its march across the Don Heath to meet the Khazars, marching until late afternoon before cavalry scouts spotted the Hunnish host. The Khazar army was encamped on the far side of the open flat plain that General Ygg had marked out. It patiently awaited an adversary.
Erik ordered his troops to make camp on their side of the plain, the two armies being in clear sight of one another. An ominous mood ran through the encampments of both armies that evening. Scouts could be seen leaving both camps to run patrols, to watch for enemy movements and to search out deserters. Many of the soldiers and warriors, both Varangian and Hun, were brave enough to fight any man in combat, yet, when hosts of this size sat before one another, the thought of fighting against so many at once overwhelmed many of them. The pagans had a term for this: ‘the Fetters of Odin’, whereby Odin, the god of hosts could strike fear into the bravest of men, often at the most critical of times. So, cavalry scouts sallied about both camps and brought back as many deserters as could be caught. King Frodi had ordered his deserters hanged, while King Hunn had ordered his beheaded, so, in a line between the camps stood a row of slowly filling hanging ladders on one side and a gradually increasing line of countenanced pikes on the other. One of King Roller’s Norwegian cavalry scouts brought a deserter before Roller, who he, in turn, brought before Erik. The delinquent was none other than Ask, Erik’s long time lieutenant and friend.
“What would you have us do with him?” Roller asked his brother. “Frodi has ordered all deserters hanged.”
“Let me have a word with Ask,” Erik answered, then turned towards the bedraggled captive. “You have always been a brave man, Ask. Why have you run?”
“I’ve been having dreams ever since we left Sweden,” Lieutenant Ask answered, “and in these nightmares I am standing alone before a host of men and an arrow flies forth from that group and kills me. Then, tonight, in a dream, Odin told me the Huns with their hornbows have an arrow with my name upon it. I woke up in a fever, left my tent and started to run.”
“It is the Fetters of Odin,” Erik told his friend, patting him upon the shoulder. “Tonight, you shall sleep in my pavilion.”
“And the orders of King Frodi?” Roller asked.
“I shall vouch for Ask,” Erik answered.
The camps of the Varangians and the Huns began stirring before dawn, and, as the orient light broke over the Scythian plain, hundreds of corpses bristled in two rows upon the horizon, the hanged bodies swinging and the lanced heads swaying in the morning breeze. It was a warning to all who might be tempted to run in the course of the day. Ask took his usual place at the head of Erik’s new Centuriata, which formed the vanguard of the Varangian army, but, as they marched past the row of dead, he could not bring himself to look upon them, for he was at one with them. The Khazar army, too, was advancing and the two hosts approached each other in the centre of the plain. The Varangian force thinned its ranks to meet the greater expanse of the opposing army and when the Hunnish host came within range, Erik had his troop of Swedish footbowmen loose volley after volley of heavy arrows into their midst to hurry them along. Then the Norse army weathered the storm of darts from the Huns’ long range hornbows until their archers, too, could join in the maelstrom with their lighter arrows. Next, it was the Khazar host’s turn to weather the heavy spears and throwing axes of the Norsemen until they could answer with spears of their own. The two armies closed, their kettle drums pounding, their armour rattling in a continuous metallic murmur. On either wing were the cavalry units, holding off their attacks until the main hosts were engaged. Soon sword met shield and the battle began. The clash of weapons and the screams of men rent continuously through the general roar of the massive armies: the pounding of hooves and the scuffle of feet, the shouting of orders and the choked grunts of exertion, the kettledrums and the trumpets and the fluttering of a thousand banners.
All day the sound roared, but neither side budged an inch. At dusk the din died down. Both sides retired to their tents and pavilions with their dead and wounded. The Valkyries had moved the hanging ladders and their burdens behind the Varangian camp. There, too, they stacked their dead and they dispatched the mortally wounded amongst the cordwood for the campfires. Soldiers were not allowed behind the camp. Only cavalry patrolled the perimeter, and the Valkyries, hardened old hags and beautiful young maidens, hanged the ever-present deserters. The warriors stayed in their tents and by their campfires, tending to their weapons and their wounds. Erik’s pavilion was in the centre of the camp with those of the kings, but the tents of his Centuriata were spread out before his in the Vanguard’s choice position, so he visited with his men after campaign meetings and told them short tales and recited them poems, always of bravery and actions resulting in victory. Erik took note of the fact that Ask was alive and well and had distinguished himself in battle. The following day the battle resumed in much the same manner as it had before. All day the Goth and Hun troops were engaged in mortal combat and, though the Huns outnumbered the Norsemen, Goth and Slav warriors had rallied to King Frodi’s call for help and were pouring into the Hraes’ camp at such a rate that, despite severe casualties on both sides, the number of Gothic troops actually increased while the Hun numbers dwindled. Still, the superior numbers of the Khazar host began to prevail and the Hraes’ were forced to give ground, but they held their formations intact and at days end both sides again retired to their respective encampments.
That evening Roller visited the pavilion of his brother, Erik. “There is a rumour spreading amongst my men that a deserter was spared,” he explained. “If King Frodi were to hear of it, he shall ask questions. I’m here to let you know that I have no intentions of covering for Ask’s actions.”
“Nor would I expect you to,” Erik responded. “I shall answer to Frodi should the time come.”
“You are jeopardizing your reputation for your man,” Roller complained. “It would be best for all involved if Ask were to die in tomorrow’s battle.”
“I’ve lost almost half my Centuriata in battle. Ask has been at the head of the vanguard and has distinguished himself in combat for two days. He has atoned himself of his crime and I shall play no part in further jeopardizing his life. I supported him two nights ago and, should he survive our conflict, I shall continue to do so.”
“You’re a hard man to deal with, Erik Bragi,” Roller exclaimed.
“I got it from my father,” Erik explained, and the two brothers supped together.
The next four days of combat were pretty much the same as the second, with the Goth army continuing to lose ground before the Hun host, until finally, by the evening of the sixth day the Hraes’ were backed up to their own camp. The Khazars, sensing victory, were fighting ever fiercely. While their numbers were falling due to casualties and desertions, the numbers of their enemies had not dropped at all. King Hunn had soon realized that, if they were to prevail, the Khazar forces would have to win while their forces remained superior. He instilled his men with this sense of urgency and it was with this added incentive that the Huns had managed to almost drive the Goths from the field.
At the campaign meeting on the evening of the sixth day, Erik recommended that the Hraes’ army withdraw to the other side of the Don River, to the plain before Sarkel.
“This will lead to mass desertions,” King Frodi countered. “With the river at our backs our men are forced to fight on.”
“Each day our army swells with new recruits. The longer we stave off defeat the better our position becomes. The Huns know this. That is why they are pressing so hard.”
“We shall stay and fight,” King Frodi countered.
“Where is Jarl Arngrim, your foremost man?” Erik goaded his king. “He was to bring a host to our aid and he has yet to appear.”
Roller stepped between Erik and King Frodi, as they eyed each other heatedly. “You play a dangerous game,” he whispered to his brother.
“Arngrim shall come through for us,” King Frodi exclaimed. “He has never failed me!”
“And I’m sure he has no intention of starting,” Erik shouted back. “Let us buy him some time to arrive. Let us retreat across the Don. I’m sure he shall meet us on the other side with a fresh army. As we draw nearer him, it shall speed up his arrival.”
“So be it,” King Frodi spat, then sat and smiled wryly. “Once again my foremost of foremost men has played me like a lyre and gotten his way. Time and again you earn your byname, Bragi.”
After the campaign meeting, King Frodi took Erik aside and said, “There is a rumour going around that a deserter has been spared. Those involved could share the deserter’s fate if the situation is not rectified. See if you can correct it for me.”
Erik wondered how much of the story King Frodi knew as he wandered back to his own camp. He gathered his men about him and asked for volunteers to remain in camp and tend to patrols and campfires while the army withdrew under cover of darkness. His eye caught Ask’s, and his lieutenant immediately volunteered. Most of the Centuriata followed Ask’s example, so Erik placed his lieutenant in charge of all forces participating in the dangerous rear-guard action. They would all be equipped with fast steeds for the final evacuation, but it was a day’s march to the Don and the Huns had the finest horsemen in the world.
The next day, when the Khazar army assembled in formation there was no Hraes’ army there to face them. Mounted pickets still rode the camp’s perimeter, campfires still blazed, but no troops roused to make a formation. King Hunn sent Prince Hlod and a troop of cavalry to investigate; the Hraes’ rear-guard immediately torched their own camp, mounted their steeds and fled. Ask rode out to the lead horseman, Prince Hlod, and shouted the name “Sarkel”, then rode off. The Hun cavalry set off in pursuit, sending back a messenger to their kagan.
“The Goths have fled!” the messenger shouted. “They await us at Sarkel!”
Morning found the Hraes’ army on the east bank of the Don River, and the Hraes’ navy came out from the port of Sarkel to assist them in the crossing. By noon they were all on the west bank of the Don and had re-occupied their encampment outside the walls of Sarkel. The fires within the fortress still flared up and a dark pallor of smoke hung over the countryside. The heat from the burning cord wood that had been stacked up against the stone walls both inside and out had cracked the stones and destroyed the mortar holding them together. The walls of Sarkel were near collapse. It would never house another garrison of Greek troops. A command pavilion was set up in front of the doomed fortress and, while the troops were resting from their exhausting forced march, the officers and chieftains held a council of war.
It was suggested that the Hraes’ navy be employed to prevent the Huns from crossing over, but King Frodi dismissed the idea. “There are but forty ships to stop a hundred thousand from crossing. We would lose the struggle and our honour as well. Let the Huns cross. This is where we’ll stand. This is where we’ll fight!” No one dared dispute with their king further on the matter.
Erik was not about to argue. He had looked for Ask when he had called for volunteers for the rear-guard, and he was racked with guilt over his actions. He might as well have ordered Ask to volunteer for the suicide action. “We must place the fleet up and down the river to assist any of the rear-guard that might make it to the Don,” Erik said. “We shall have need of the fleet later.”
All present, King Frodi included, shouted, “Aye!”
Back upon the Don Heath, Hun cavalry units were running down the scattered Hraes’ rear-guard, cutting them to pieces as they caught them, but in the centre of that long broad plain a knot of Hraes’ cavalry charged for the Don River seemingly unimpeded. The Hraes’ commander, Lieutenant Ask, had rallied Erik’s Centuriata and others about him, forming a unit too large for the undisciplined Hun horsemen to chance attacking. Hard they rode, in the heat of noon, for the quenching safety the river promised them. Prince Hlod rallied a troop of Huns behind him and was in chase, but the lead the Hraes’ had, and the good horse Erik had provided Ask, was too much, even for the excellent Turk riders. Crashing down the steep riverbank of the Don, the Hraes’ cavalry unit plunged into the waters of the river, and the flanks of the horses were flecked with foam and their riders covered in sweat and dust when the waters rushed up and swept it all away. Prince Hlod slowed his force as they neared the riverbank and they drew their hornbows and began to fire arrows at the fleeing rear-guard. Two ships of the Hraes’ navy rowed to the aid of their countrymen and placed themselves between the shore and the fording horsemen and returned the fire with footbows firing huge arrows that would knock down a horse when hit and took men right off the back of their mounts. Erik was aboard one of the ships and he strung his Turk hornbow and fired arrows that, not only matched the Huns in range, but surpassed them in firing rate and accuracy. When the Hun horsemen withdrew from the riverbank, a great cheer of victory resounded from the Hraes’ army on the west bank of the river.
That evening, the Khazar army reached the bank of the Don River and camped on its shore. Withdrawing from the river, the Hraes’ army offered the Huns an opportunity for an unchallenged crossing. Before the dawn of the next morning, Kagan Humli took advantage of this gift and Kagan Bek Hunn ordered his army to assemble their round skin boats and make the crossing. Soon, a hundred thousand Turks were in formation on the west bank of the Don. Seventy thousand of the seventy-five thousand remaining Hraes’ warriors awaited them.
“Where are the other five thousand?” King Frodi asked Erik as they rode their mounts before their battle-worn troops. “And where is Jarl Arngrim?”
“He will come,” was Erik’s evasive reply.
The kettledrums sounded and the Hraes’ warriors pounded their swords upon their shields and the berserkers bit into their linden wood and howled in fury as the Goth army advanced upon the Huns.
The battle started with the heavy thud of Swedish footbows followed by the thrum of hornbows then the longbows, followed by the heavy thumps of spears, and then the shocked crash of shields announced that the true battle had begun. Half the day the shield walls wavered back and forth until it seemed that either side might fold at any time. Erik pulled men from the left flank and placed them on the right in an attempt to drive the Huns back toward the river, but the Khazar host held firm. A thick billow of smoke rose out of the fortress and worked its way up and then down upon the battlefield and sometimes the wind would shift and blow it in the faces of the Varangians and then would shift and blow it in the faces of the Khazars, but finally it settled down upon the Hunnish host and soon had their warriors doubling up in fits of coughing and the Khazar line was pushed back toward the river. King Hunn and Prince Hlod were busy rallying their troops when, from out of a western coulee and behind a copse of trees, came a fresh army led by Jarl Arngrim, Varangians and Finns, to lend their brave stout arms to the driving task at hand.
King Frodi, himself, rode back to meet and urge them on and he greeted his lieutenant as a starving man welcomes bread. Erik directed the new forces into the fray, then he handed control over to his king and joined his Centuriata in the vanguard.
“Where is Ask?” was Erik’s first question, as he joined his men.
“He’s been slain,” one officer offered, grabbing the reins as Erik joined the formation behind the three deep shield wall. The Hraes’ battle line had been spread thin, no thanks to the five thousand men Erik had plucked from the force the night previous.
“He’s yet alive,” another officer blurted out as he rushed to join the line. “The Valkyries are attending to him,” and the soldier pointed to their rest area behind the lines, then ran to rejoin his squad. Erik trotted back to the Centuriata’s aid station to find two young Valkyrie warriors breaking off an arrow that had penetrated Ask’s nose and pierced his tongue. Erik squatted beside his comrade and supported his back as the Valkyries snapped the flight protruding from his face, then cut the arrowhead away from his mouth, leaving the blood smeared shaft where it had shattered his face. Ask could barely talk but he said, “Erik, it is Odin’s arrow, missed its mark!”
“Good,” replied Erik. “Now you may sit out the rest of this fray.”
“You don’t understand,” Ask lisped back. “I can rejoin the battle. Odin’s arrow has missed its mark.”
“You rest,” Erik said, patting Ask’s shoulder, “and that is an order!” Though Erik had never followed the path of the berserk, his father had been a famed manic warrior, and Erik soon found himself doffing his shirt, gnawing on linden wood and howling at the Huns facing him. The limp he had acquired duelling King Alrek was gone, and he joined the forefront in a rage unmatched by any. He cut down all Huns before him and, in the ecstasy of his fit, the Khazar line melted away. The fresh troops of Prince Arngrim’s army were following hard behind him and soon they had cut a deep swath into the ranks of the Huns. Erik was working his way towards the mounted Prince Hlod, but the sway of combat took Hlod away from the Centuriata and placed him before the mounted King Frodi, instead.
At first, it seemed as though Prince Hlod would flee, but he quickly raised the sword, Tyrfingr, over his head and charged his father. King Frodi deflected the vicious down stroke, which ended deep in the earth, and answered with a down stroke from his own battered blade that ended the life of the stripling prince. Tyrfingr lay planted in the Don soil as King Hunn, seeking to avenge his son, charged King Frodi. Erik fought his way to the blade he had forged as his own king charged the Hun kagan bek. Erik pulled the famed blade free from the earth just as a blow from Kagan Hunn shattered the damaged sword of King Frodi. An area had cleared around the battling kings and Erik took advantage of the pause to throw Tyrfingr to his king. Frodi caught the middle-piece in his two hands and, as King Hunn raised his sword for the death blow, the Dane thrust the blade of Tyrfingr between the Hun’s spread ribs. King Hunn fell to the earth, dead, without a sound.
With the demise of their leaders, the Hunnish host began falling back and their right flank was being driven into the Don River. Their centre collapsed before the onslaught of Prince Arngrim’s fresh forces and their left flank followed in panicked abandon. Soon, the whole Khazar army was in flight, fighting over their skin boats on the shore of the Don. Half the Hun host was in the water when the Hraes’ navy, bolstered by the five thousand troops Erik had spirited away, struck. A slaughter on the river ensued and, even with their comrades experiencing annihilation, the Huns still fought among themselves for places on the remaining craft, rather than face the fury of the Hraes’ army on land.
So great was the slaughter upon the waters of the Don River, quencher of Khazars, that the snagged and piling corpses of the Hun army turned the course of that primary river system. The Hraes’ navy, having defeated the living, were soon battling the dead, as they fought their way through the floating corpses back to the harbour of Sarkel.
“That is where my five thousand were disbursed!” King Frodi exclaimed, as the foot soldiers watched the remainder of the battle from the shoreline.
But Erik heard not what his commander had said; he was searching the battlefield for his lieutenant, Ask, and he found him, slain, a bright arrow through his breast. “It would seem Odin’s arrow has not missed its mark after all,” Erik said bitterly, as he viewed the corpse of his comrade.
King Frodi, too, rode his horse among the slain till he found the corpse of Prince Hlod and exclaimed:
“Treasures uncounted, kinsman, I offered you,
wealth and cattle well to content you;
but for war’s reward you have won neither
realm more spacious nor rings glittering.”
Angantyr Frodi got off his horse, knelt beside the corpse and took up the breast of Prince Hlod onto his lap.
“We are cursed, kinsman, your killer am I!
It will never be forgotten; the Norns’ doom is evil.”
The great kagan, Humli, heard King Frodi’s laments, as King Roller accepted his formal surrender. Erik joined his brother and they celebrated each other’s survival. The supreme Khazar leader looked down from his huge wheeled pavilion and his eyes met Erik’s. Even in defeat, the captured Huns bowed before the gaze of their leader, so powerful was the spell he held over them. Erik could see that the kagan, though old, sat proudly in his high seat; the blood of Caesars yet flowed through his veins. Smoke still drifted over the battlefield from the Fortress of Sarkel, and a wisp of black smoke ended the eye contact between the man who was a leader because of his blood and the man who lead despite his.
Small fires burned all over the battlefield and smoke hung over it like a fog, muffling the cries of the wounded as the Valkyries darted among the piled bodies like phantoms of death. Erik and Roller joined their king by the bodies of Prince Hlod and King Hunn. Angantyr Frodi stood up, his eyes red and swollen, and offered Erik the sword, Tyrfingr. “Keep it if you wish, for it has saved your life” Erik said. “You know full well its curse and its blessings.”
King Frodi thanked Erik for the famed blade, then summoned all his kings to an assembly to be held that evening. There, he awarded Erik the realm of Tmutorokan and the wealth and the lands of Prince Hlod, as war guild for the loss of Princess Gunwar; to General Ygg he gave command of Gothland; to King Olmar he gave the Principality of Novgorod; and to Jarl Arngrim he awarded all the Northern lands he had conquered and the hand of his daughter, Princess Eyfura, in marriage.
Although, once more Roller demanded the death of the great kagan and an immediate attack upon Khazaria, Erik managed to calm him down and reminded both he and King Frodi of his visions of the steppe hordes that were being held back by the Khazars. King Frodi decided to impose a ransom on Kagan Humli to be paid out to the Hraes’ troops.
Later that evening, a messenger called Erik away from the Hraes’ victory feast and to the tent of King Olmar.
“Come in, Erik,” the Slav monarch said. “Sit down and share wine with an old man.”
Erik sat on a camp stool before his grandfather.
“Do you still carry the gold trident I returned to you in Kiev?” King Olmar asked.
“I carry it at my breast, as always,” Erik answered, and he pulled it out from his shirt by the gold chain around his neck.
King Olmar leaned forward, took the trident bodkin from Erik’s hand and drew him close. He studied it very carefully then said, “Tell me again about your mother. The last time we talked of her, you were my enemy and prisoner. It seems so long ago.”
Erik told Olmar everything that Ragnar had told him of her: she was dark haired and beautiful; she spoke the Slav tongue and others, but no Norse; she had risked stabbing a Varangian’s hand rather than part with her bodkin; Ragnar had fallen in love with her and she had grown to return that love; and she had died giving birth to her only child, Erik. All these things he told King Olmar, who listened in quiet suffering. “She was your daughter,” Erik concluded.
“She was my foster-daughter,” King Olmar began. “Jarl Heimer of Volsunga arrived at my court with the young daughter of the slain King Sigurd Fafnirsbane, the first slayer of fire breathing dragonships, and his dead lover, Princess Brynhild, the young Princess Aslaug. They were heading north to Oster-Gotland to find another dragon-slayer.”
Erik knew the story. It was his stepmother Kraka, Princess Aslaug, whom his father, King Ragnar, had saved from enslavers in Skane.
“Jarl Heimer had been travelling with a nursemaid who had a baby girl with her and the Jarl asked me to care for them and then he and little Princess Aslaug carried on northward with his huge harp upon his back. I took the nursemaid in as a concubine and I raised the baby girl as my foster daughter, treating her as I did my own. I sent spies to Volsunga and I learned from a witch that the baby girl was the daughter of Princess Brynhild with another warrior, a prince of the Thervings, the West Goths. The young girl grew up strong and beautiful and we called her Bryn in honour of her mother. When she was of marriageable age, King Hunn, who died today, wanted her to wife, so I sent her off to Khazaria. She never made it. She disappeared along the way at the same time a second fire breathing dragonship of the Romans was slain near the Don Heath, the Gnita Heath, and now I know it to have been King Ragnar who had taken her and had married her in King Hunn’s stead.
“I’d always hoped that I would find my daughter alive and in hiding somewhere, perhaps as a handmaiden to some Khazar princess, but it is a hard thing to accept the proof that she died alone in some far-off land.” Erik attempted to reassure the old king, but Olmar held up a hand and continued. “This unwillingness of mine to admit the truth has cost us both overmuch, not only in years we might have shared as grandfather and grandson, but, I fear, great-grandson as well.”
Erik could not guess where Olmar’s conversation was leading, but he continued listening patiently.
“General Ygg was going to tell you this, but I begged him to let me break the news to you only when the time was right.” King Olmar poured Erik some more wine but took none for himself. “Before Gunwar’s last battle with the Huns on the plains before Gardariki, she gave birth to a baby boy…your son. We all swore ourselves to secrecy, and the next day Prince Hlod slew your wife, fratricidally. When we were forced to evacuate your city, I tried to convince Brother Gregory and General Ygg that the baby was my great-grandson and that I should protect him for you, but understandably, they did not believe this, seeing me as an opportunist seeking influence over your child. Had I publicly acknowledged you as my grandson when I first believed you to be such, my motives wouldn’t have been suspect.”
“But where is my son now?” Erik stammered.
“Let me finish,” King Olmar said, looking away from Erik in great anguish. “I was going to take your son, but the dwarf, Durin, and Brother Gregory took off with him, with intentions of returning him to you via the Nor’Way. Brother Gregory has not been seen since, and General Ygg has learned that he was lost at sea making the Nor’Way crossing. I fear your son has perished,” King Olmar cried, “and it is as much my fault as anyone’s.” The old man broke down, sobbing uncontrollably.
“Grandfather,” Erik said. “You cannot blame yourself. I shall find my son. He may yet be alive.”
King Olmar pulled Erik to his breast. “Do not make the mistake I made,” he whispered hoarsely, “and hope beyond hope that your child still lives.”
“I must learn the truth,” Erik cried, pushing himself away from the old man. “And I cannot do so from Gardariki. You must rule over Tmutorokan for me!”
“If you wish, take Novgorod. The land is too cold and harsh for an old king like me. From there you may search but promise me you shall accept whatever truths you find.”
“I accept your offer and your terms,” Erik said, and the two men hugged each other warmly as grandfather and grandson.
Erik became the ruler of Novgorod, and he sent out ships and search parties into Biarmia and the Nor’Way. He learned that, indeed, Brother Gregory had taken a baby with him and attempted a Nor’Way crossing, but all hands had been lost at sea. King Roller, in turn, checked with relatives in Norway, but none reported receiving the infant son of Gunwar, so Erik kept the terms of his agreement with King Olmar and devoted himself to re-establishing the Southern Way.
While Prince Erik was searching the north for his son, he returned to Hraegunarstead in Stavanger Fjord and he visited with Jarl Brak and Princess Aslaug, his stepmother Kraka, and he told them what King Olmar had learned of Erik’s mother Boddi, and Kraka realized that Erik was the son of her younger half-sister, Princess Bryn.
Prince Erik made many trading expeditions with his Hraes’ Trading Company and visited King Frodi in Kiev, and King Olmar in Tmutorokan. Prince Arngrim and Princess Eyfura came to live with Prince Erik in Novgorod, from where Arngrim ruled his northern lands, and Eyfura bore Arngrim many sons, with whom Erik consoled himself.
Chapter 35: POSTSCRIPT: AMLETH — THE ORIGINS OF HAMLET 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.