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 The POSTSCRIPT ON AMLETH – THE ORIGINS OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK:
BOOK TWO: THE SAGA OF PRINCE ERIK ‘BRAGI’ RAGNARSON
A Novel By Brian Howard Seibert
© Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
AMLETH — THE ORIGINS OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK
“Such great good fortune stung Feng with jealousy,
so that he resolved treacherously to waylay his brother,
thus, showing that goodness is not safe even from those
of a man’s own house. And behold, when a chance came to
murder him, his bloody hand sated the deadly passion of
his soul. Then he took the wife of the brother he had
butchered, capping unnatural murder with incest.”
“Amleth beheld all this, but feared lest too shrewd
a behaviour might make his uncle suspect him. So he chose
to feign dullness and pretend an utter lack of wits.”
Amleth; Saxo Grammaticus
When Erik ‘Bragi’ Boddason Ragnarson returned to Novgorod, for he had been there once before, the town, situated on a marshy island at the mouth of the Volkov River, was no more than a trading station. He had known the place as Holmgard when the Danish army had taken refuge there during the First Khazar War, and the population of the place seemed very sparse now in comparison. Gardariki had once been just an open meadow surrounded by hills and Erik had built a fortress around the crests of those hills and a town had grown inside it. Novgorod would need no such walls, being nestled within the secure expanse of the Volkov, so Erik set about having erected longhalls and warehouses and places of worship for both Odin and Perun. No Christian church graced the grounds of Novgorod and the fact saddened Erik. The building of the town spun him back through the years and he had never missed Gunwar more. Sometimes he could feel her presence as though she walked through the constructions with him and he would change a building here or locate a bath house there because he knew it would have been her suggestion. And always he would think about his missing son, but reports would come back from his emissaries and traders that no sign of the boy could be found. So Erik put his efforts into the building of his town and was consoled in the sons of Princess Eyfura and Prince Arngrim, who had agreed to rule his northern lands from there.
“Tell us a story,” Angantyr asked Erik one night before the hearth of the high seat hall. He was the eldest of the twelve sons of Eyfura.
“I shall recite you a poem of the ancients,” Erik replied.
“But, we’ve heard all the poems of the ancients,” he complained, and the agreement of eleven brothers could be heard in the background.
Erik looked towards Eyfura as she sat on the floor before the hearth with her youngest in her lap and he saw shades of both Gunwar and Alfhild in her. “But, I’m a poet,” Erik responded. “Stories are for the tellers of tall tales.”
“We want something new!” another Angantyr demanded, for the first three sons of Eyfura were named after their grandfather, King Frodi, denoting their common birth.
“A new story!” chimed in the third.
Erik looked over at Eyfura once more and her eyes pleaded, just as Gunwar’s would have done. The Bragning Prince stared into the fire and the flames took him back into the past and he could have sworn he saw Gardariki burning. “There was once a Danish Prince,” he began, “whose name was Amleth…”
THE SAGA OF ERIK ’BRAGI’ RAGNARSON
SEE ATTACHED APPENDIXES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
To be Continued in
Coming Soon: BOOK THREE – THE SAGA OF HELGI ‘ARROW ODD’ ERIKSON
APPENDIX A: THE SAGA OF ERIK ‘BRAGI’; GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Abbasid Caliphate–Arab dynasty that overthrew Ommayad dynasty in 750 A.D.
Aesir–group of northern gods of the Scandinavian pagan religion, including Odin, Tyr and Thor, in constant conflict with the Vanir, southern gods.
aett–the extended family, including those predeceased and those members yet to be.
althing–annual meeting, during pagan times, in which law was practiced and elections held.
Aurvandil–Thor carried him out of Giantland in a basket, but Aurvandil’s exposed toe froze, so Thor broke it off and threw it up into the sky, where it became a star.
arvel–funeral feast; also, possibly arval.
atheling–warrior or noble.
At-Khazars–White Khazars, a tribe of the Khazar Empire of possible Roman origins, their leaders said to be Porphyrogeniti, born of the purple, a bloodline of the Roman Caesars. They were Jewish in religion and may have finally settled in Poland.
Balder–Aesir god; son of Odin.
banesman–slayer; ie: Hundingsbane = Hunding’s slayer.
barrow–burial mound; also, howe.
berserk–warrior capable of attaining a manic fury in battle in which he is impervious to weapons but is overcome with weakness once the fit is through; also, berserker, shape-changer.
Biarmians–Finno-Ugric tribe of Northern Asia.
bireme–ship having two banks of oars each side.
bragarful–celebration filled with lively speech and brave boasts.
Bragi–Aesir god of poetry; also name of first Scandinavian poet; may also signify one eloquent in speech.
brand–sword; also, blood snake.
Branliv–Slavic byname meaning quarrelsome; possibly eloquent in speech.
buckler–shield; also, targe, leaf of leafy-land(sea).
Bulgars–Turkic tribe that migrated from western China to the Volga River with a second group moving on to Bulgaria; also, Volga Bulgars.
bulwarks–the side strakes of a ship; also, gunwales.
Burtas–Turkic tribe of the middle Volga River.
byrnie–coat of mail armour.
Byzant–gold coin of the Roman Empire.
Byzantine Empire–formed of the Eastern Roman Empire, following the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D., by mostly Greek citizens. Fell to the Turks in 1453 A.D.
Disertus–byname of Erik in Saxo’s Fifth Book of Danish History, Latin for eloquent in speech.
disir–female guardian spirits.
drapa–Norse poem of twenty stanzas.
Dregovichi–Slav people of the upper Dnieper River.
Drevjane–Slav people of the middle Dnieper river.
Fafnir–dragon who guarded the Rhinegold treasure; slain by Sigurd the Volsung.
fey–doomed to die.
fleer–to mock or make fun of.
flygting–argumentive or abusive poetry.
Freya–Vanir goddess of fertility.
Freyr–Vanir god of fertility.
Fridleif–early king of Denmark; King Frodi III’s father.
Frigg–Aesir goddess; wife of Odin.
Frodi III–legendary king of Denmark; conqueror of Russia, according to Saxo.
fylgja–female spirit that accompanies each person.
ginungagap–the great abyss into which everything was created.
Greek fire–an incendiary mixture of petroleum spirits and chemicals that bursts into flame, possibly on contact with air. A secret weapon of the Byzantines.
Ghuzz Turks–Turkic tribe found between the Aral and Caspian Seas.
hamingja–fortune or luck.
Havamal–poem telling the words of the high one (Odin); Possibly written by Bragi the Old.
Huns–Turkic tribe migrated from Western China into Europe(c.370 A.D.), attacking the Gothic Empire of Eormanrik and threatening the Roman Empire. Their leader, Attila, was poisoned by the Roman Emperor and the Huns moved on to Gaul. They were defeated at Chalons(451 A.D.) and retired back into Asia, apparently joining the Khazar Empire and settling north of the Caucasus Mountains.
Hymir–sea giant with whom Thor fished for the Midgard serpent.
Ibn Fadlan, Ahmad–Arab geographer and diplomat of the tenth century who recorded a trip up the Volga in which he met Varangian settlers.
Iconoclast–anyone against the veneration of religious pictures or icons.
Iconophile–anyone who practices the veneration of religious pictures or icons.
Kara-Khazars–Black Khazars of the Khazar Empire.
kenning–metaphor or metaphorical rhyme.
Krivichi–Slav people of the upper Moskva River.
Kufa–silver coin of the Arab Caliphate.
Kvasir–god who invented mead.
Loki–Aesir god of mischief.
Magyars–Turkic tribe migrated from Western China to present day Hungary circa 830 to 890 A.D.; also, Turkoi; members of the Khazar Empire.
mead–alcoholic drink made from fermented honey.
Midgard Serpent(Worm)–snake that encircles the world, deep within the sea.
monoxyla–dugout bottomed ship with built-up side strakes.
ness–headland or promontory.
nith-song–curse casting or derogatory poem.
norns–three female spirits representing the past, present and future, and controlling the fates of men.
Odin–chief god of the Aesir; god of hosts and battle.
Onogur–Turkic tribe of the Khazar Empire.
Permians–Finno-Ugric tribe of Northern Asia.
Poljane–Slav people of the middle Dnieper River.
pyre–bonfire used to cremate the dead.
Raes, Hraes–theoretical patername of Erik Bragi (Hraerik), from which the names Hraes’, Rus’ and Rhos may have been derived. King Ragnar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson may have been originally caller Gunar Sigurdson, Hraegunar ‘Lothbrok’ being added after his victory over the Byzantine Roman fire-breathing bireme Fafnir and its mighty roar of ‘Hraaee’, after which the shield that protected him was called Hraes’ Ship’s Round, a title found in the Elder Edda.
Radimichi–Slav people between the Dnieper and Desna Rivers.
Ragnar Lothbrok–early king of the Danes who slew a dragon in the east; his sons attacked England.
Ragnarsdrapa–ninth century poem by Bragi Boddason dedicated to Ragnar Lothbrok (or possibly Ragnar Sigurdson?).
Regin–blacksmith who helped Sigurd attack Fafnir.
ran–large Scandinavian house.
Rhinegold hoard–treasure robbed from the dragon Fafnir by Sigurd, who slew the dragon on the advice of Regin. It is an eastern tale with a possible Black Sea locale, but the name of the treasure is, oddly, Germanic.
Rhos–early Greek name for Norsemen and Slavs of Russia.
ring-giver–king or prince.
runes–alphabetic characters of early Germanic writing.
Rus or Rus’–early Slavic name of Norsemen, from which is derived the names Ruthenians and Russians.
sark–shirt or kirtle.
Saxo-Grammaticus–Danish historian of the twelfth century who wrote The First Nine Books of Danish History aka Gesta Danorum; Erik’s Saga Bragi is based primarily on the fifth book about King Frodi III and Erik Disertus. Books three and four of his History also contain the tale of Amleth, the earliest form of Hamlet.
Scald or skald–poet; also, thul.
scorn pole–pole carved with runes and topped with the head or skull of a horse meant to cast a curse.
shaman–priest or mystic of Shamanism, the spiritual religion of Northeast Asia and native America.
Sigurd the Volsung–slayer of Fafnir the Dragon for which he won the Rhinegold treasure.
Skaldskaparmal–Snorri Sturluson’s `Words of the Skalds’, a collection of ancient poems demonstrating kennings; second half of the Prose Edda.
skerries–reefs or sandbars.
Snorri Sturluson–twelfth Century Icelandic author of the Prose Edda and possibly Egil’s Saga.
sound–marine passage connecting two bodies of water.
Sovar–Turkic tribe of the Khazar Empire.
strait–narrow passage between two bodies of water.
strake–a row of planks running the length and forming the sides of a ship.
strand–seashore or sandbar off a coast.
thing–assembly (see althing).
Thor–Aesir god of thunder; possible son of Odin.
trireme–ship having three banks of oars on each side.
troll–giant; also, etin.
Tyr–Aesir god of justice.
valkyries–handmaidens of Odin who selected those to die in battle. Also, may have been women who fought in early Germanic battles or worked behind the battle lines slaying the wounded enemy.
Valhall–dwelling place of Odin, where those slain in battle are rewarded.
Vanir–southern gods in constant conflict with the northern Aesir.
Varangians–early Greek and Slavic name for Norsemen in Russia. May have been derived from varanger, possibly meaning way-ranger or way-wanderer.
Viatichi–Slav people of the upper Don River.
Vik–bay area of present-day Oslo.
Vikar–legendary Norwegian king who was sacrificed to Odin by the warrior giant Starkad.
Wends–a main branch of the Slavic peoples; also Poles.
withy–plaited willow twigs used as rope.
worm–dragon or snake.
Ygg–nickname of Odin.
APPENDIX B: MAP OF EASTERN EUROPE OF THE NINTH CENTURY
APPENDIX C: THE ORIGINS OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF THE HRAES
The Origins of Hamlet
Prince of the Hraes’
Brian Howard Seibert
Dr. T. Bishop
The Origins of Hamlet, Prince of the Hraes’
Shakespeare’s audiences in the Globe Theatre may have had somewhat different understandings of Hamlet’s claim, “I know a hawk from a handsaw”.
The nobles watching from box seats and balconies must have wondered at the disparity between comparative nouns. Sanity would dictate “knowing a hawk from a sparrow” or “knowing a hammer from a handsaw” but knowing a “hawk from a handsaw” only perpetuated the Danish Prince’s madness from their perspective. The truant workers in the commoners’ pit, on the other hand, heard the statement as “I know a brick hawk from a handsaw”, and the comparative nouns were quite similar. The mason and the dauber perhaps exchanged knowing winks as they gazed upward at the baffled nobility and they loved their dear William for his jest.
When William Shakespeare wrote his play, “The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, little did he know the thing would send literary researchers on an odyssey across Europe and history to trace its origins.1 The root of the work has had its founding strokes traced to Ireland, to Sweden and amazingly, yet convincingly, to the early Roman Empire. And in all cases Hamlet’s social stature has remained quite princely. But who exactly was this person, this prince, this Hamlet?
Evidence has unfortunately thinned under the heavy rolls of time, and we may never truly learn just who this princely protagonist really was, but in order to find the origins of our youthful hero we must first turn back the pages of time and expose the history and the theories behind the play, the thing that is “Hamlet”.
“Hamlet” was registered in London on July 26, 1602 and there are three substantially different versions of the play extant. The First Quarto (Bad Quarto) of 1603 is the earliest known printing. This crude, possibly pirated form of the play was apparently lost and not rediscovered until 1823. The Second Quarto, (Good Quarto) of 1604 is a larger and more eloquent version of the play. In 1623 two associates of Shakespeare, John Heminge and Henry Condell compiled a collection of his plays and had them printed in what is now known as the First Folio.3 There were further quartos and folios printed, but the modern play “Hamlet” is extracted from these three works.
The 1604 version of Hamlet begins with the haunting scene of the ghost of Hamlet’s father telling Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother Claudius. We then learn that Claudius has married the Queen; Hamlet’s mother and usurped the throne and it becomes apparent that Hamlet has survived in the court of his uncle by pretending to be mad and by playing the fool. The young prince’s insanity is put to the test by beautiful Ophelia, but the young woman’s wiles do not uncover Hamlet’s deceit and lead to his famous harangue “To be, or not to be…”.
While Claudius tests Hamlet, the prince confirms the guilt of the king with a play he calls ‘The Mousetrap. A further test of Hamlet’s wits is taken up by
Polonius, a courtier of Claudius, who hides behind an arras in Queen Gertrude’s chambers hoping to overhear Hamlet plotting with his mother. Hamlet stabs him to death through the tapestry then chastises his mother for her involvement with the usurper.
Following the death of Polonius, King Claudius sends Hamlet to England with the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They bear a note instructing the English king to execute Hamlet, however, through Hamlet’s cunning, the instructions are changed and, it is the courtiers that are buried in Britain. Hamlet returns to Denmark to find burial preparations being made for Ophelia and it is in the graveyard during preparation that Hamlet clasps the skull of his former jester and cries “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…” Soon after, a duel between Hamlet and Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, leads to the tragic death of all. In themselves alone, the three plays, the First and Second Quartos and the First Folio form sufficiently controversial sources for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, however, they are far from being the original source of the thing. Literary and critical references of the Elizabethan period indicate that an “Ur-Hamlet” play had been produced well before Shakespeare’s play was performed in 1596.
The “Ur-Hamlet” is documented, by Phillip Henslowe as having played in 1594. The play may have been performed as early as 1589, the year when Thomas Nashe criticized both Thomas Kyd and a play called “Hamlet”. Thomas Kyd is a prime candidate as being the playwright of the “Ur-Hamlet” due to Nashe’s famous critique and a previous play of his, “The Spanish Tragedy”, which also had vengeance and madness themes. It is also known that Kyd was well versed in the French language, a valuable asset indeed when the next link to the origin of “Hamlet” is Francois DeBelleforest’s “Histoires Tragiques”.4
In the decade of 1560, Francois DeBelleforest, a minor French author, was commissioned to produce a French translation of Matteo Bandello’s “Latin Romances”. He apparently deemed it advisable to include translations of other works, including those of Krantz, Johanne Magnus, and Saxo Grammaticus.
DeBelleforest’s work was printed in Paris in 1582 and Volume V contained Saxo
Grammaticus’ “Tale of Amleth”, a minor Prince of Denmark.5
Cleric Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1150-c. 1220) entered the service of Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, in 1180 and, upon the latter’s request, began compiling and writing his “Gesta Danorum” or “Historica Danica”, chronicling the early Danish heroic legends. Originally, he had intended to write on Danish history from the time of Svend Estridson (d.1076), but later he added the histories of earlier times. His history is written in a polished Latin, similar in style to Valerius Maximus and Martianus Capella, upon whom he may have modeled his works, and consists of sixteen books, the first nine of which tell tales of the early kings and warriors of Denmark. His story of Amleth is about the life and times of a legendary warrior-prince so named and falls at the end of Book Three and the beginning of Book Four of “Historica Danica”. It is most certainly the direct source of the play “Hamlet”.6
The story of Saxo Grammaticus’ Amleth runs thus: Horwendil and Feng are brothers appointed by King Rorik of Denmark to govern Jutland. Horwendil holds the monarchy for three years but decides to seek adventure in piracy. While out a viking, Horwendil acquires a fierce and profitable reputation culminating in his slaying of King Koll of Norway in personal combat. In three successful years of roving Horwendil accumulates great wealth, much of which he turns over to King Rorik, who, in return, proffers the hand of his daughter, Gerutha. Horwendil and Gerutha are married and blessed with a son, Amleth.
Horwendil’s brother, Feng, is possessed with jealousy over Horwendil’s good fortune and plots a treacherous usurpation. He has coerced and corrupted the king’s royal court while Horwendil was off roving and employs their assistance when he murders their king. Feng then gains favour with King Rorik when he claims he slew Horwendil in defence of Gerutha’s life and Horwendil’s royal court bears false witness against their former king. Feng then forces Queen Gerutha into an incestuous marriage that gives him both the kingship and control over the former wife of Horwendil and her son.
Amleth, knowing the full scope of Feng’s treachery, feigns madness to conceal his intelligence, thereby ensuring his own safety while preparing for his revenge. But Feng and his corrupt court are not convinced that Amleth is totally lacking of wits and they devise tests whereby to judge his sanity. Amleth is forewarned of this plot by his foster brother and plays the part of the fool most perfectly. A young woman was to tempt him into throwing off the cover of buffoonery in exchange for pleasures, but Amleth rides his horse backwards, pretending not to see her standing alone on the path, and uses various ruses to divest the girl of her pleasures while yet, himself, remaining unexposed.
‘Again, as he passed along the beach, his companions found the
rudder of a ship which had been wrecked, and said they discovered
a huge knife. “This”, said he, “was the right thing to carve such a
huge ham” by which he really meant the sea, to whose infinitude,
he thought, this enormous rudder matched. Also, as they passed
the sandhiIls, and bade him look at the meal, meaning the sand, he
replied that it had been ground small by the hoary tempest of the
Thus, the court’s plan was thwarted, and Feng became convinced of Amleth’s ineptitude.
A courtier of Feng’s was not yet fully convinced and so devises and has approved a further check of Amleth’s wit. While Feng is journeying, his courtier hides in Gerutha’s bedchamber hoping to uncover Amleth’s ruse if he should converse sensibly with his mother. Amleth discovers the eavesdropper while searching his mother’s bedchamber, for he trusted no one, and dispatches the spy. Then, sword in hand, he apportions the corpse to the swine. Upon his return to Gerutha’s bedchamber, he begins to admonish his mother for disloyalty to his dead father. He then learns that his mother, also, is a prisoner in her own kingdom.
When Feng returns and learns that his man has died, he realizes that Amleth is dangerous and plots to have him slain without offending Gerutha or her father, the fearsome King Rorik. Feng sends Amleth and two escorts to England with a sealed message for its king. The message instructs the English king to slay Amleth, but our young prince, discovering the intent of the message, alters the contents, instructing the king to slay the escorts instead and to offer Amleth his daughter’s hand in marriage. Thus, once more he attempts to thwart Feng.
‘But the king was suspicious of the message and, sparing the envoys,
invites all to a banquet in their honour. Amleth declines to attend the
banquet and later, when the envoys question him as to why he had
abstained, he answered that the bread was flecked with blood and tainted;
that there was a tang of iron in the liquor; while the meats of the feast
reeked of the stench of a human carcase, and were infected by a kind
of smack of the odour of the charnel. He further said that the king had
the eyes of a slave, and that the queen had in three ways shown the
behaviour of a bondmaid.’7b
The king learned of this through a spy he had stationed outside the guests’ chamber and decides to investigate the weight of the words of Amleth before reacting to them. He discovers that the bread was made from grain grown on an old battlefield and of lard from hogs that had eaten of the corpse of a robber, thereby gaining the hint of blood and taint; the liquor had been brewed with water from a spring in which sat several rusty swords, thereby gaining the tang of iron (although Saxo states that others relate that Amleth knew the liquor to be sweetened with honey from bees that had fed in the paunch of a dead man); and the king, himself, learns he was the son of a slave, for his mother, when pressed, admits to infidelity towards his father.
The king was so impressed with Amleth’s intuitive powers that, suspicious or not, he gives Amleth his daughter’s hand and has the envoys executed.
Amleth feigned grief at the death of his comrades, so the king gives him gold as a form of compensation. This gold Amleth melts and pours into two sticks of wood hollowed out for this purpose. He passes a year in England with his wife then expresses a desire to visit his home.
He returns to Jutland alone, bearing only the gold filled sticks, and arrives just in time to interrupt his own funeral banquet. Dishevelled and dirty and once more doltish, he stands amongst his enemies, the corrupt court and their usurping king, who are only temporarily shocked. They ask him where his two comrades are, and he raises his hand and replies that the sticks are they. The court was once more convinced of Amleth’s foolishness and resumes banqueting while our young prince makes busy plying them with liquor and, when they are drunk and sleeping, he binds them in netting fastened tight by crooks and sets the palace aflame with the courtiers in it. He then slays his uncle, Feng, with the usurper’s own sword. (End of Book Three, “Gesta Danorum”.)
Following the slaughter of the nobles, Amleth aroused the support of the
Danes through a lengthy harangue, bringing some to compassion and yet others to tears and through general acclaim was pronounced their new king. Amleth had three ships and choice warriors and a magnificent shield all prepared for a triumphant return to England, and the shield he had decorated with a mural telling the full story of his victory, through courage and cunning, over the usurper.
The English king received them with much pomp and ceremony but was greatly perplexed when he learned that Amleth had slain Feng, for he had long ago made a mutual revenge pact with the old usurper, and now realized that his son-in-law must suffer the consequences of a contract which had now matured. The king, however, did not want Amleth’s blood upon his hands, so he concocted a scheme by which to fulfil his contractual obligation. He knew of a fierce Scottish Queen, Hermutrude, who protected her chastity by slaying all who attempted to woo her and requested that Amleth take her a message proposing a marriage bond between the English and Scottish monarchs.
Amleth set off with the message and while travelling through the Scottish wilds chanced upon a restful spot by a brook and slept. A spy, sent out from
Hermutrude’s castle, crept up on him, relieved him of his message and shield, and returned to his queen. The Scottish monarch read the story upon the shield and became infatuated with Amleth’s courage and cleverness. She altered the message, placing Amleth as the suitor, in place of the English king, and had both shield and message returned to Amleth while he slept.
When Amleth arrived at the Scottish queen’s castle, not only was he well received, but he was wed. He returned to England with his new wife and a strong
Scottish retinue, but was warned of treachery, on the part of the English king, by his first wife. A battle shortly ensued and through the course of the day Amleth lost a goodly number of his troops. In preparing for the next day’s battle, Amleth had his dead propped upon rocks and stakes and horses and the English troops, approaching with the sunrise, were filled with dread that this host should number as many as before a full day’s slaughter. They withdrew in confusion and the Scottish and Danish troops attacked and slew the English king in the ensuing panic. Amleth then plundered England and returned to Jutland with his wives.
Meanwhile in Jutland, King Rorik had died and his successor, Wiglek, had stripped Amleth’s mother of her wealth, wishing to claim the fiefdom for himself. Amleth, upon his return, did battle with Wiglek and lost, losing both his life and his Scottish wife to the young Danish king.
‘So ended Amleth. Had fortune been as kind to him as nature,
he would have equalled the Gods in glory, and surpassed the
labours of Hercules by his deeds of prowess. A plain in Jutland
is to be found, famous for his name and burial place.’8
As can be seen from the tale just related, Saxo Grammaticus’ Amleth is the prototype of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but once again it is not the original source of the basic uncle/nephew revenge theme common to both. Many literary researchers have attempted to trace the earlier origins of ‘Hamlet’; with varying results. There are numerous views as to the origin of this princely protagonist, some tracing the story back to an actual historical figure of that period and locale, others tracing it back to earlier times and often distant lands. While we briefly review the most plausible of these theories, we must keep in mind that Saxo must have had much verbal non-clerical information available to him and that very few details of his historical sources remain.
We know that Saxo had read Valerius Maximus, for the style of the
‘Historica Danica’ is almost identical, as explained by Giovanni Bach in his “The
History of Scandinavian Literature”.9 We know that Saxo had relied heavily upon Icelandic and English Sagas and Eddas, for he acknowledges such in his work’s preface.10 We know also that Saxo had relied upon Danish folklore, travelling as far as Norway to hear old folktales and memories.11 The first nine books covering early Danish history, although no longer considered authentic history, provide intriguing reading from a legendary point of view.
Credible theories as to the origin of Amleth may be classified into several schools of thought. Sir Israel Gollancz was a devout believer in Irish origins stemming from their legendary King Amhlaide, as covered in his essay “Hamlet in Iceland” of 1898.12 In “The Literary History of Hamlet” of 1923, Kemp Malone attempts to trace the tale back to the legendary King Onela of Geatland.13 Marion Taylor expands on Dr. Detter’s theories of 1892 in “A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet” of 1968, wherein the tale is traced to the story of Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic.14
Gollancz investigates several theories in his “The Sources of Hamlet” of 1926 but remains faithful to his own theory of Irish origin, in which the tale is traced back to Anlaf Curan, king of Ireland and son of Sitric Gale. There are very
few details existing on the career of Anlaf Curan, with Gollancz’s hypothesis resting upon one reference from the “Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters” of 917 (=919), in which Amhlaide, a possible nickname for Anlaf, is credited with the slaying of Niall Glundubh.15 Gollancz then switches the actual killing to the hands of Anlaf’s father, Sitric, in order to parallel the slaying of Koll by Horwendil in the Amleth saga.16 This appears to be the extent of the possible similarities between Amhlaide and Amleth, and although we may accept the hypothesis that Amhlaide is the Irish form of Amlodi which is in turn the Icelandic form of Amleth, we have only Gollancz’s speculations that Amhlaide and Anlaf are indeed the same person. Based upon existing evidence and probability, the Irish theory should be classified as questionable.
Kemp Malone attempts to prove that the Hamlet tale, although of Jutish superstructure, had foundations in the Geatish kingdom of southern Sweden. He expands the tale of King Onela, the usurper, in the epic saga of Beowulf thusly:
Following King Ongepeow’s demise, his son, and Onela’s brother, Ohthere, took the throne of Sweden. When Ohthere died Onela
usurped the crown, displacing Ohthere’s two sons, Eanmund and
Eadgils, who fled to Geatland for safety. Onela pursued his nephews
and defeated the Geats in battle, slaying their King Heardred, and his
nephew Eanmund, while Eadgils escaped, possibly to Denmark. Onela
placed Beowulf on the Geatish throne but Beowulf then sided with
Eadgils and the two overthrew Onela. Beowulf was succeeded by
Wiglaf, whom Eadgils treated with animosity.17
In this tale Eadgils would correspond to Amleth, Onela to Feng, and Wiglaf, of
course, to Wiglek of Saxo’s tale.18
Once again this evidence is deduced etymologically, for Malone proposes that Amleth, of Amlodi, is derived from ‘mad Ole’, a possible shortened version of Onela.19 He cannot explain how the theme of madness, if the mad Ole conjecture is to be believed at all, was transferred to the Amleth figure, and he also makes many suppositions involving partially destroyed sagas in the writing of this historical sequence. His evidence is no more concrete than that of Gollancz, yet he manages to discount the Irish theory with arguments that could just as well be used to discount his own. Once more we have a theory which may be classified as improbable.
An early legendary figure closely resembling Saxo’s Amleth is to be found in the tale of Lucius Junius Brutus, as related by Titus Livius, Valerius Maximus, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, three great historical authors of the Roman Empire. They tell a tale of Brutus, who feared for his very life, after his uncle Tarquinius had slain his father (and/or elder brother, depending upon the individual author) and usurped the throne of Rome. Brutus survived by making pretence of being stupid and foolish, thereby gaining his surname, which means just that, and was kept among the royal court as amusement for Tarquinius’ sons.
Tarquinius sent his sons to consult the Delphic oracle concerning a plague (or a vision according to some) and sent Brutus along, at their request, as entertainment. They crossed the sea to Greece, consulted with the oracle and made their offerings to Apollo. They mocked Brutus for offering the god a cornel stick, which had been hollowed out and filled with gold, the purpose being to make the outer offering worthy of a fool and the inner offering worthy of a god. The brothers then asked the oracle who was to succeed to the monarchy and received the reply “the one who should first kiss his mother”. Tarquinius’ sons made a pact to kiss their mother at the same time but Brutus saw an underlying meaning to the statement. Upon their return to Rome he pretended to stumble, and he fell, face first, into the dirt, kissing the earth as he landed, for he had surmised that the oracle had meant Rome as being the mother of all Romans.
Later in life, Brutus seized upon an opportunity that arose and cast Tarquinius and his sons out of Rome and its territories. He founded the Roman
Republic and gave freedom from monarchy to all Romans and following a public harangue was appointed as one of their consuls. He died on the battlefield defending his young republic, at the hands of one of Tarquinius’ sons.20
There are many parallels between the tales of Amleth and Brutus, such as feigned madness for survival, an uncle/nephew vengeance theme, gold filled sticks, trips across seas, skill in the use of double meanings in both words and deeds and finally death in battle. The stories are so similar, in fact, that one wonders if Saxo did not rely upon his access to the works of Valerius Maximus and Livius Titus in recreating a legendary figure which he had found in their works. This dubbing of histories is quite common in ancient works; Geoffrey of Monmouth, for instance, used biblical tales for his “History of the Kings of Britain”,22 but in the case of Amleth it is somewhat unlikely, as Saxo is noted for being a very diligent researcher and undoubtedly had much folklore at hand with which to weave his tales. As Sir Oliver Elton states, in his translation of Saxo’s work, “He will possibly on occasion mutilate a story by omissions of what he considers too heathen or too trivial; but though this be a failing in him, he never commits the greater, the unforgiven fault of adding to or doctoring the stories before him.”23
There is much evidence indicating that the tale of Amleth, as laid out by
Saxo, was present in the form of edda or song in Danish folklore long before Saxo took up pen to write his history. Amleth’s father is murdered in Saxo’s tale, while it is an elder brother who is dispatched in both Maximus and Livy’s tales.
Dionysius is the only writer who includes both a father and an elder brother, and
Saxo is less familiar with his work.24
There is also evidence that the name Amlodi (Amleth) was famous centuries prior to Saxo as indicated by a reference to it in a verse by tenth century poet-adventurer Snaebiorn, that runs: “yea, they have for ages past been grinding at Amlodi’s meal-bin.” But although this example is the only literary reference to Amlodi prior to Saxo, it is known from runes that Amlodi was a term for dull or foolish at the time of Snaebiorn, and that, by early in the thirteenth century, the English had the word Amlaze, which corresponded to it in meaning, and the Irish Amhlaid may also, as Gollancz argued, have had a similar meaning.25 The existence of a folk tale could help explain the existence of the word Amlodi in the middle Scandinavian language when it had not existed in the old language form; only a very popular folk tale could have spread the term Amlodi to other countries in various native forms while retaining the same meaning; only a folk tale could explain Snaebiorn’s use of the word as a character instead of its usual form as a description. And one must not overlook the similarities between Snaebiorn’s meal-bin and Amleth’s meal, meaning the sand.26
Further evidence of a folklore source of Amleth may be found in Saxo’s writing itself. When Amleth’s sagacity is tested by the English king, he finds that the liquor has been brewed of water from a spring containing rusty swords, but Saxo states that others claim the taint was from bees that had eaten from the paunch of a dead man, indicating that Saxo may have had two or more versions of the tale in front of him.27 Another passage, “FiaIIer, the governor of Skane, he drove into exile; and the tale is, that Fialler retired to a spot caIIed Undensakre, which is unknown to our peoples,” seems to imply that the folklore tale stated places with which Saxo was unfamiliar. Undensakre may be loosely translated as Odin’s acre,28 which is very likely Byzantium, the fabled house of Odin, an integral part of our next theory.
There can be little doubt that Amleth is a derivative of the older legendary figure of Brutus, but evidence shows us that this Amleth was not suddenly torn from the pages of the past by a chronicler looking for exciting tales. How then did the tale of Brutus travel from Rome to Scandinavia and how did it become ‘Nordicized’? How did it traverse a continent and span two millenia?29
Marion A. Taylor’s “A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet”, published in the Netherlands in 1968, covers in detail the theory of Varangian (Viking) transmission of Greco-Roman legends in the ninth and tenth centuries. Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that Viking rovers and traders had penetrated the waterways of Russia (the Dvina, Dnieper, and Volga Rivers) to the Black and Caspian Seas as early as 825. The Vikings are even recorded as having attacked Constantinople in 860, and they later formed the backbone of the famed Varangian Guard of Byzantium.30
It would seem reasonable to assume that Byzantium, the last vestige of the Roman Empire, would become a compendium of Greco-Roman legend. This would explain, as Taylor points out, the Grecian and Arabic tales which are woven into the basic Brutus framework of Saxo’s Amleth tale.
The sagacity of Amleth in revealing the low birth of the king of England may be traced to the Byzantine tale of Ptochleon, who also intuitively determined a king’s low birth. The tale of Ptochleon may then be further traced to a tale of the Greek King Heraklios, and yet further to an Arabian source.31 The altering of letters to gain a reprieve from a death sentence is also very oriental and the shield and message theft and replacement is very close in theme to the story of King Florian of Constantinople.32
If the Byzantine tales were transmitted to Scandinavia by the Varangians, they were no doubt passed on by word of mouth, in song and saga, thereby gaining their respective Scandinavian superstructures. It is quite probable that the Byzantine tales were so ‘Nordicized’ by the time of Saxo Grammaticus that he may have considered them to be true Danish folklore. But how would Roman tales become localized in Danish history in the first place? The localization of legend would be greatly facilitated if a person, or focal point, existed around whom the tales could be spun. Marion Taylor claims that just such a person existed in Rorik the Dane, king of Jutland. King Rorik, Taylor states, was such a powerful figure that “He collected legends about him the way Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest collect clouds about them.”33 Taylor maintains that although Gerutha, Horwendil, and Amleth were most likely mythical, Rorik the Dane was real and was also the infamous Rurik, the founder of Russia.34
Vernadsky, in his “History of Russia” tells us that the “identification of Riurrik of Novgorod as Roric of Jutland was first suggested by Friedrich Kruse in 1836, ….”35 He believes that the arguments put forth by N.T. Beliaev in 1926 prove this supposition to be valid. However, this connection has been refuted by many historians. This is a somewhat moot point though as far as we are concerned, for if Saxo believed that the Varangian/Byzantine legends surrounding Rurik of Novgorod were, in actuality, folklore about Rorik the Dane, he would have considered the two to be the same man. He had, as we have pointed out, much folklore collected, most of it undated, and if a tale surrounding Rurik could be dated through an existing King Rorik, he would have undoubtedly accommodated any inconsistencies in Rorik’s own history. But if the two men were truly separate individuals, would this not diminish Taylor’s claim that Rorik collected legends about him? Not necessarily. The fact is that Rorik and Rurik may have each collected their own legends about them and Saxo may have unwittingly combined the two kings into one person himself. But who were these two kings?
Rorik the Dane (c.800 – 870) was a king of Jutland and Friesland who roved in a true Viking sense, attacking Europe and England and earning a spot in real history through references to him in undisputable Frankish annals.36 Rurik of Novgorod was a Norseman called in to rule over Novgorod in c. 856 as recorded in The Chronicle of Nestor, written by a Russian monk in the eleventh century.37 Rurik put his new kingdom into order and, according to the chronicle, died in c. 879. He left a young son Igor (Ingvar), but a kinsman, Oleg (Ole), ruled in Novgorod after Rurik’s death. Oleg ruled until his legendary death by snakebite and Igor then regained his father’s crown in 912. In 945 he was killed in battle while fighting the Drevelians.38
The hotly debated Chronicle of Nestor tells us a tale of a young prince who had his rightful throne usurped by a kinsman, a prince who regained his throne after the mythical death of the usurper, a prince who died in battle fighting for his country. Was this prince, Igor, the focal point for the collecting of the legendary tales of Amleth? Or, like William Shakespeare years later, did a young Varangian skald help himself to legends and stories he was exposed to, perhaps in Byzantium, and create fantastic tales that propelled him to the forefront of his contemporaries….the poets and skalds of Scandinavia. Was this prince Bragi the Old?
1 Cay Dollerup, Denmark, Hamlet and Shakespeare, (Salzburg: Salzburg Studies in English Literature, 1975), chronological and bibliographical reference acknowledged.
2 Frank Hubbard, The First Quarto Edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1920) pp.19-36.
3 Hubbard, pp.4-5.
4 Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare’s Sources, (n.p.: Methuen, 1957), pp.110-122.
5 Frank Hook, The French Bandello, (Columbia, University of Missouri, 1948), pp.9-20.
6 Giovanni Bach, The History of Scandinavian Literature, trans. Fredrika Blankner (n.p.: Dial Press, 1938), pp.161-163.
7a Oliver Elton, The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus, (n.p.: The Folklore Society, 1893), p.109.
7b Elton, pp.113-14.
7c Elton, pp.104-30, freely adapted.
8 Elton, p.130.
9 Bach, p.163.
10 Elton, p.8.
11 Elton, p.c.
12 Israel Gollancz, The Sources of Hamlet, (London: Oxford University Press, 1926), p.51.
13 Kemp Malone, The Literary History of Hamlet, (New York: Haskell House, 1964), pp.59-76.
14 Marion Taylor, A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet, (The Hague: Mouton, 1968), pp.25-32.
15 Gollancz, p.49.
16 Gollancz, p.52.
17 Malone, pp.59-76.
18 Malone, general reference.
19 Malone, p.59.
20 Dyonisius, Roman Antiquities, trans. Earnest Cary, (Harvard: Harvard University Press, n.d.), pp.406-09, freely adapted.
See also Livius Titus, The History of Rome, for same story.
21 Elton, p.406.
22 Communication w/ Prof. N. Parker-Jervis, 1982.
23 Elton, p.cxvi.
24 Elton, p.407.
25 Malone, pp.52-58.
26 Elton, p.402.
27 Elton, p.401.
28 Elton, p.129n. While Elton translates Undensakre as being the land of the undead, I believe it means Odin’s Acre because defeated warriors often left for service in Varangia or Byzantium, the fabled house of Odin. I am sure that other researchers may have drawn this same conclusion.
20 A close analysis of the possibility of British transmission of Roman legend is beyond the scope of this essay, but one must keep in mind that the Romans occupied Britain from circa 100 AD to circa 400 AD.
30 Taylor, pp.25-32.
31 Taylor, p.28.
32 Taylor, p.29.
33 Taylor, p.45.
34 Taylor, pp.33-46.
35 George Vernadsky, A History of Russia Volume I, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943), p.337.
36 Vernadsky, p.365.
37 Taylor, p.38.
38 Vernadsky, p.366.
Bach, Giovanni. The History of Scandinavian Literature. Trans. Fredrika Blankner. n.p.: Dial Press, 1938.
Dionysius of Halicarnasis. Roman Antiquities. Trans. Earnest Cary. Harvard: Harvard University Press, n.d.
Dollerup, Cay. Denmark, Hamlet and Shakespeare. Salzburg: Salzburg Studies in English Literature, 1975.
Elton, Sir Oliver. The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. n.p.: The Folklore Society, 1893.
Gollancz, Sir Israel. The Sources of Hamlet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926.
Hook, Frank. The French Bandello. Columbia: University of Missouri, 1948.
Hubbard, Frank. The First Quarto Edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1920.
Malone, Kemp. The Literary History of Hamlet. New York: Haskell House, 1964.
Muir, Kenneth. Shakespeare’s Sources. n.p.: Methuen, 1957.
Taylor, Marion. A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet. The Hague: Mouton, 1968.
Vernadsky, George. A History of Russia Volume I. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943.
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.