Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert


Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, September, 9 AD, by O.A.K. Varusschlacht (1909)



(Circa 812 AD)  When King Angul of the Anglish Danes had led an army through Saxony to the Alemanni it had been to answer a call for aid throughout the Teutonic lands for troops to fight the Romans and their legions in the Teutoburg forest of Lower Saxony.  Emperor Augustus lost three legions in the deep forests of Germany and they were never heard from again, mostly.  King Angul had fallen in love with a Saxon princess after the battle, for there was much feasting and celebrating after the great victory, but an Alemanni king had also fallen in love with her and they fought a battle themselves, the Danes and the Alemanni, over her hand and the Danes won.  When King Fridleif, many years later, many many years later, again led the Anglish Danes against the Alemanni, they were the Roman Empire and they were so much harder to beat.  King Fridleif had fought Emperor Charlemagne to a draw and was now at war with his son, Emperor Louis ‘the Pious’.  After defeating the Alemanni, Fridleif had planned to take Zealand and Skane from King Ragnar, but when he heard of the great success King Ragnar had had against the Swedes and then the Sclavs, he directed his army south against the Franks once more.  He could not afford a war on two fronts.  So he changed his plan to take over Ragnar’s Southern Way somewhat and he allied himself with the Obotrite Slavs and built a fortress on the Wendish Island of Jom, at the mouth of the Oder River and the Anglish Danes sailed along the Slavic coast of the southern Baltic to the Nieman River and they rowed up it, instead of the Dvina, to make their way into the Land of the Slavs and to King Olmar’s Kiev, his City of Key, in order to trade with the Eastern Roman Empire and Constantinople.

This eastern trade was more important to the Anglish Danes than ever before, for they were now at war with the Western Holy Roman Empire and all trade with the east had to come from the east because it no longer flowed up from the south.  And to deal with the Caesar of the Eastern Roman Empire, one had to deal with the Kaezar or Khagan of the Eastern Khazar Empire and that meant dealing with the Huns, the most powerful tribe of the seven tribes of the Khazar Federation.  King Fridleif had to cater to the wants and needs of the Obotrite Slavs and the Wend Slavs and the Pripyat Slavs and the Drevjane Slavs and the Poljane Slavs and then the Huns and then the Khazars and finally the Romans of Constantinople in order to get the goods the Anglish Danes used to just buy from the Saxon merchants and Frisian traders just south and west of them.  It was a process.  But the Anglish traders went out and, with the warming trend that was lengthening seasons, they could leave and return in one long summer season, which was of utmost importance to them.  But they were going through so many different lands and peoples that their approach, by necessity, had to be different than that used by King Ragnar and his Zealand Danes, the approach of bashing everybody that stood in between him and his goals.  When the Jutland traders arrived in Kiev and met the Zealand traders, they were ordered not to tell them who they really were.  And they were not allowed to participate in the slave trade.  The Roman word for slaves was actually servants, and the term slaves came from the Slavs that the earlier Gothic traders would capture and sell in Vanir Roman Constantinople.  So the Slavs did not like slave traders and the Anglish Danes needed the Slavs to like them.  And they needed the Huns to like them and they needed the Kaezar of the Khazars and the Caesar of the Romans to like them as well.  So, the Jutland Danish traders were very secretive and very likeable and the Zealand Danish traders were nothing of the kind.  They were bellicose and drunk, trading in furs and flesh, fighting everywhere they went and they enjoyed themselves everywhere they went and became renowned for their fighting and bargaining skills.

Now Ragnar had spent almost five years in developing his new Southern or Sor’Way and at least twice that developing his beloved Nor’Way, and had quickly compelled all other nations to submit; but he found the Permians to always be in open defiance of his sovereignty.  He had conquered them and had just conquered them again, but their loyalty was always shifting about like a sail in a blustery wind.  When they heard that he had come once more, they cast spells upon the sky, stirred up the clouds, and drove them into the most furious storms.  This would halt the Danes from sailing for varying lengths of time and they would often run out of food and supplies.  Then, again, the storm would suddenly abate, and the weather would become scorching hot and the heat was no easier to bear than the cold and wind had been.  And the mischievous excesses in both directions affected the bodies of the traders alternately, and it affected their health and dysentery killed a lot of them.  So the Zealand Danes, being pent in by the dangerous state of the weather, were dying of bodily plagues that arose on every side.  But the Danes persisted and went on and got to the country of the Kurlanders and the Sembs and were treated as the most revered of conquerors, and this enraged King Ragnar all the more against the arrogance of the Permians, and when he attempted to attack them for it, their king, whose name is not known, was struck with panic at such a sudden invasion of the enemy, and at the same time had no heart to join battle with them; and fled to Matul, the prince of Finmark.  He, trusting in the great skill of his archers, harassed with impunity the army of Ragnar, which was wintering in Permland.  For the Finns were wont to glide about freely on slippery timbers called skis throughout the winter countryside and were able to approach and depart very quickly and, as soon as they had shot their arrows at the Danish enemy, they would fly off as speedily as they had come and were very nimble in attack and retreat.

Ragnar was amazed with this turn of his fortunes when he considered that he, who had conquered Karl of Holy Rome at his pinnacle of power, was now being dragged under by an unarmed and uncouth race.  He, therefore, who had signally crushed the most glorious flower of the Western Roman soldiery, and the forces of a most great and serene Emperor, now yielded to a base mob with the poorest and slenderest equipment; and he whose lustre in war the might of the strongest race on earth had failed to tarnish, was now too weak to withstand the tiny band of a miserable tribe.  Hence, with that force which had helped him bravely to defeat the most famous legions in all the world and the weightiest weapon of military power, and to subdue in the field all that thunderous foot, horse, and encampment; with this he had now, stealthily and like a thief, to endure the attacks of a wretched and obscure populace.

In desperation, King Ragnar decided to abandon the Aesir way of marking battlefields with hazel poles and fighting in the light of day and decided to resort to fighting in the Christian Byzantine way: at night and through ambush.  He had Kurlanders who could ski teach his men the way of it and after the Finns had attacked them one day, his men, all picked warriors, skied behind them and followed their trail in the snow over mountain and valley until they arrived at dusk before the great winter camp and they waited in the forest hidden under white silks they had traded for in Constantinople until it was night and the Finns and Perms had all gone to sleep in their white woolen tents.  They silently skied up to the tents, two warriors to a tent and, on the shrill bleat of a Roman war whistle, they fell upon each tent and pulled them down atop their sleeping host and the Danish warriors bled the white tents red and none were allowed to escape the confines of the wool, but by the freedom elicited by death.

Ragnar took no pride in his victory over the Finns and Perms through this stealth and ambush, for it was not the Aesir way of the fist and foot, yet he was just as pleased at the defeat of the Finns as he had been at that of Karl, and he admitted that he had found more strength in that defenceless people than in the best equipped soldiery; for he found the heaviest weapons of the Romans easier to bear than the light darts of this ragged tribe.  Here, after killing the King of the Perms and slaying the King of the Finns, Ragnar set an eternal memorial of his victory on rune stones, which bore the runic characters of his deeds on their faces so that the gods could look down upon them and remember who the Danes were and who they had trod upon.  And Ragnar learned from this and he had all his traders and men trained in how to ski on boards and skate on bones and he took this craft back home with him and he trained all his sons in it so they could benefit from not just the skill, but in how their king had learned from it.  He taught his sons that traders must first learn the language of their clients, and then the skill set.  Only then could they trade with them as equals and not as guests.

While King Ragnar was thus employed in the establishment of both the Nor’Way and Sor’Way trade routes, young Prince Ubbe was used by his grandfather, Esbern, to make an attempt upon the kingship and the highseats of Denmark and Skane, and, casting away all thought of safety for his grandson, Esbern claimed the emblem of royalty for his own head.

When Ragnar heard of this arrogance on the part of his father-in-law from Jarls Kelther and Thorkill, of Sweden, he made a hasty voyage towards Gothland.  Esbern, finding that these two jarls remained devoutly loyal to King Ragnar, offered them bribes of lands and gold to desert the king.  But their loyalty could not be compromised and they answered that their will depended on that of King Biorn Ragnarson, declaring that not a single Swede would dare to do what went against their king’s wishes.  Esbern speedily made an attempt at bribing Biorn himself, addressing him most courteously through envoys and plying him with gifts.  Biorn said that he found it contemptable to favour of an infamous brother such as young Ubbe over the love of a most righteous and famous father.  The envoys, themselves, he punished with hanging, because they counselled him to commit so grievous a crime and the Swedes, moreover, slew the rest of the train of the envoys in the same way, as a punishment for their patricidal preaching’s.  So, Esbern doffed his covert efforts and mustered his forces openly, and went publicly forth to war.  But Ivar, the Zealand ambassador to Jutland, seeing no righteousness on either side of the impious conflict, avoided all unholy war by voluntary exile, and he stayed in Jelling and convinced the Anglish Danes to stay out of the fray.

King Ragnar attacked and slew Esbern in the bay that is called in Latin Viridis; he cut off the dead man’s head and bade it be set upon the ship’s prow, a dreadful sight for the seditious.  But Prince Ubbe took to flight, and sought protection with his brother, Prince Ivar, in Jelling.  When Ivar learned that the uprising in his country had been quelled by the punishment of the rebel, Esbern, he went to Zealand and Ragnar received him with the greatest honour, because, while the unnatural war had raged its fiercest, he had kept out of it all.  Now he stepped in and began the long slow process of reconciling Ragnar and Ubbe.

Meanwhile, back in the land of the Sclavs, Daxo worked to covertly overthrow King Hwitserk Ragnarson, who ruled over his former citadel and lands, by slowly developing a peace with the Danes that involved Sclavs making a peace and working at trade in the new Sor’Way that Hwitserk was growing with his father.  But the former Sclav King Daxo had, in truth, been preparing an army with weapons, who feigned to be trading and rode into the city in merchant carts and carriages, and they made a murderous night-attack on the longhall palace of their host.  King Hwitserk and his Centuriata smote this band of robbers with such a slaughter that they were surrounded with heaps of Sclav warriors bodies, and the few of the Centuriata that still stood could only be taken by letting down ladders from the roof above.  The final twelve companions of his Centuriata were captured at the same time as their king and were given leave to go back to their country, but they chose to remain with their king and chose to share the dangers of another rather than be quit of their own.

King Daxo, now moved with compassion at the beauty of Hwitserk, and, undoubtedly, fear of King Ragnar, offered him not only his life, but his daughter in marriage, with a dowry of half his kingdom, choosing rather to spare his comeliness than to punish his bravery.  But Hwitserk, unable to deal with the depths of his defeat, refused the offer and embraced a sentence of doom, saying, that Ragnar would exact a milder vengeance for his son if he found that he had made his own choice in selecting the manner of his death.  King Daxo was perplexed by his rashness, but promised that he should die by the manner of death which he, alone, would choose as his punishment.  Prince Hwitserk accepted this leave as a great kindness, and begged that he might be locked in an old longhall and be burned alive with his friends while drinking and banqueting.  King Daxo speedily complied with his prayers that craved for death, and by way of kindness granted him the end that he had chosen.

When King Ragnar heard of this, especially his son’s chosen manner of death, he began to grieve immediately.  He put on garbs of mourning, outfitted his shieldship, and sailed from Liere to Stavanger Fjord and he went straight to his Ragnarstead estate, well within the protection of the long fjords there, and he broke the news to Princess Aslaug (Kraka) that their third son was dead.  Their elder sons, Roller (Ragnald) and Erik were out tending the herds, but Jarl Brak came in from the forges and heard the news alongside Kraka and the three of them broke down in tears together.  When the older sons came in from the fields, they too learned of their brother’s demise and they both vowed to make King Daxo pay for the horrible death he had executed upon young Hwitserk.

But King Ragnar was beyond vengeance in his grief and, in the exceeding sorrow of his soul, took to his bed and showed his grief by groaning.  Kraka comforted him in bed and they mourned for a full week, but his wife, who had more than a man’s courage, tired of this weakness, and began, once more, to put heart into him with her manful admonitions.  Drawing his mind off from his woe, she bade him be zealous in the pursuit of war; declaring that it was better for so brave a father to avenge the bloodstained ashes of his son with weapons than with tears.  She also told him not to whimper, but make war, not to cry, but make war cries, not to wail, but take the whale road south and avenge their son.  Upon these words, Ragnar became determined to exact revenge, so, shaking off his melancholy garb and putting away his signs of mourning, he revived his sleeping valour with hopes of speedy vengeance.  King Hraegunar left Jarl Brak in charge of the Nor’Way trade, and Princess Aslaug in charge of the Stavanger Vikingdom, but he took Princes Roller and Erik away from Thule and back to Liere with him to make preparations for war.  They were now at an age to learn of and partake in warcraft.  So he put his Kingdom of Denmark in charge of Ivar, and embraced with a father’s love young Ubbe, who was now restored to kingly favour and his mother’s love.  Then he and his Norwegian sons led his great warfleet over to Hraes’ (Rus’), in ancient Scythia and he, once again, made war on the Sclavs of the Dvina River.  When the Sclav officers once more saw King Ragnar upon their ancient battlefield with his great team of horses standing on the deck of his Roman war chariot, with his sons on either side of him, and the great Danish army behind him, they charged King Daxo with treason, bound him in chains, and sent him out of the citadel to beg mercy of King Ragnar.

And Daxo was not shy, nor quiet in his begging for mercy as he lamented on his knees in the dust behind King Ragnar’s chariot.  Daxo pled his case, admitting to Ragnar that he had stolen the kingdom back from his son, but had then offered King Hwitserk his own daughter in marriage, and half the kingdom as his share and full royal title as co-King of Sclavia, but, inexplicably, young Hwitserk had refused his offer and demanded to be put to death in a manner of his own choosing.  “My daughter even pleaded with him to marry her,” Daxo begged, “and she and her handmaiden prepared him his last supper and they both shared themselves with him on his last night and pleaded with him to relent and accept the offer, but he took only their love and not their advice.  The next day, a great pyre was built around an old longhall for King Hwitserk, we, allowing him to bear his royal title right to the end, in case he should relent and share Sclavia with us, and then my daughter had Aesir witches mark her handmaiden with a spear as a sacrifice to Odin in their prescribed manner and she was burned in the longhall with your son, King Hwitserk, and his twelve boyars, as the Slavs called them.  This sacrifice to Odin, as your son called his ritual death, was all performed in the greatest respect of your Aesir religion.”  Daxo wanted to tell Ragnar that he felt that Hwitserk preferred death to his offer because he was vexed and ashamed of the ease with which he had lost his kingdom, but he chose rather to say, “My daughter had a son by King Hwitserk, and he now rules in my stead as we speak.”

King Ragnar and his sons were taken aback by Daxo’s long lamentation and they could not believe what King Hwitserk had been offered by the Sclavs.  Officers and witnesses were brought forth from the citadel before King Ragnar and they all swore oaths and many of them were Danes, the healed wounded of his son’s Centuriata, and they all confirmed what Daxo had told them.  Finally, Daxo’s young daughter was brought forth from the citadel with her baby at breast and Ragnar saw that she was beautiful and, he too was at a loss as to why his son had preferred death to this.  “We have named him Prince Hwitserk,” Daxo’s daughter said, and she passed the baby up to King Ragnar on his chariot and Ragnar held the baby and he could see Hwitserk in those eyes and he passed the baby around to his sons and then back down to the daughter.  “We wish your grandson, Prince Hwitserk, to rule in your son’s stead,” she added, pulling forth her fine young breast and putting baby Hwitserk to work upon it, “and we hope that whenever you come through Sclavia to trade that you will stop and visit with us.”

Ragnar looked down upon the beautiful daughter of Daxo and asked, “Will your son, the new King Hwitserk, make me the same offer that the old King Daxo made my son?”

She looked up at King Ragnar and it took her a bit to fathom what he was asking for.  “Yes,” she answered firmly.  “He will share half his kingdom with you and he offers you my hand in marriage.  Typically a boy would turn twelve before he could decide who his mother marries, but I speak for him, so his youth is not a factor.”

Daxo was spared and taken away in chains for imprisonment in the farthest reaches of the world, Thule, and Sclav hostages were taken before Ragnar and his sons led their Centuriata into the capital and celebrated King Ragnar’s marriage to Daxo’s daughter.  They honey-welled for a week in the master suite of the palace and when Daxo’s daughter began vomiting, Ragnar knew it was time to take her father and the hostages back west with his sons.  King Ragnar showed, on this occasion, the most merciful moderation towards the slayer of his dearest son, since he sufficiently satisfied the vengeance which he desired, by the exile of the culprit rather than his death.  This compassion shamed the Sclavs out of any further rage against such a king, who could not be driven even by the most grievous wrongs to inflict death upon his prisoners.  Ragnar soon took Daxo back into his favour, and later restored him to his country, upon his promising that he would every year pay him a tribute barefoot, like a suppliant, with twelve elders, also unshod.  For he thought it better to punish a prisoner and a suppliant gently, than to draw the axe of bloodshed; better to punish that proud neck with constant slavery than to sever it once and for all.  Then he went on and appointed his son Erik, surnamed Wind-hat, over Sweden.  Here, while Fridleif and Siward were serving under him, he found that the Norwegians and the Scots had wrongfully conferred the title of king on two other men.  So he first overthrew the usurper to the power of Norway, and let Biorn have the country for his own benefit.

Then he summoned Biorn and Erik, ravaged the Orkneys, landed at last on the territory of the Scots, and in a three-days’ battle wearied out their king Murial (Maelmuire), and slew him.  But Ragnar’s sons, Dunwat and Radbard, after fighting nobly, were slain by the enemy, so that the victory their father won was stained with their blood.  He returned to Denmark, and found that his wife, the daughter of Esbern, had in the meantime died of disease.  Straightway he sought medicine for his grief in loneliness, and patiently confined the grief of his sick soul within the walls of his palace in Liere.  But this bitter sorrow was driven out of him by the sudden arrival of Ivar, who had been expelled from his Kingdom of Northumbria in Angleland.  For the Anglish and Gauls had made him fly, and had wrongfully bestowed royal power on a certain AElla, the son of the King Hame that King Ragnar had slain so many years before.  King Ragnar took Prince Ivar to guide him, since he was acquainted with the country, gave orders for a fleet, and approached the harbour called York.  Here he disembarked his forces, and after a battle which lasted three days, he made AElla, who had trusted in the valour of the Anglish and Gauls, desirous to fly.  The affair cost much blood to the Anglish and very little to the Danes.  Here King Ragnar completed a year of conquest, and then, summoning his sons to help him, he went to Ireland, slew its king Melbrik, besieged Dublin, which had been conquered by another Irish clan and was filled with wealth of barbarians, attacked it, and received its surrender.  There he lay in camp for a year, restoring Queen Imaira and his son Imair to power there.  And then, sailing through the Mediterranean Sea, he made his way to the Hellespont and won signal victories there and established a trade agreement with the Romans of Constantinople, but it was subject to the approval of a corresponding trade agreement with the Khazars and, though he gained support from the Huns, the Khazar Federation, itself, failed to ratify it.

King Ragnar came to the conclusion that there was a blood secret between the Caesar of Constantinople and the Kaezar of Kazaran, the city of the White Khazars, across the Volga River from the Khazarian Huns of the city of Atil.  He pondered this secret connection as he crossed all the intervening countries, and completed the establishment of his Sor’Way and its prosperous advance.