Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

Warships Leading a Merchant Fleet



When King Ivar returned north with the Hraes’ trading fleet, he stopped in at Kiev to talk with his mother about his father’s development of several Roman trained Varangian legions.  Queen Mother Eyfura complained about the cost, as Ivar knew she would, so he told her the Prince had given him gold to get it started.  Then he gave Eyfura a chest of gold and he gave one to Queen Helga and his daughter, Princess Alfhild.

Then King Ivar went to the Hraes’ Trading Company treasury, where the tithes for all the merchant ships were collected, and he began matching the payments collected against the value of the goods being transported until he was satisfied that everything was correct.  Merchant ships paid a gold Byzant each just to sail the Dan’Way and then the merchants had to pay a tithe of ten percent on the value of the goods being shipped and there were thousands of merchant ships, so it added up to a lot of gold.  Some was kept in the treasury in Kiev and some Ivar took aboard his ships.  Heading north, he stopped at the Hraes’ station in Chernigov and collected a share of profits made on the sale of supplies and services to merchants, including food, lodgings and ship repairs, then paid out a share of Hraes’ tithes to the station owners.  He did the same at Smolensk and Surazh but there the profits included portage fees charged to load ships on wagons and transport them overland between rivers.

Most of the merchant ships continued west along the Dvina River to Polotsk and then into the Baltic and on to their respective kingdoms with their silks and spices and other southern wares.  But King Ivar wanted to do the northern leg on his way to Sweden, so he sent some officers to Polotsk to collect profits and pay tithe shares and he portaged his ships from Surazh to the Lovat River and collected gifts from Vadim the Brave of Staraja Russa and collected profits and paid out tithe shares at Hraes’ stations in Novgorod and Staraja Ladoga before sailing along the Gulf of Finland and across the Baltic to the Hraes’ station in Birka and then to Uppsala in Sweden to visit with King Halfdan.  Ivar conveyed greetings from Halfdan’s uncle in Chernigov and then confirmed that Halfdan’s new marriage was doing well.

Ivar then visited the Hraes’ stations in Gotland and Skane before arriving in Liere to his wife, Queen Blaeja and his son Gorm.  He treated them much more warmly than he had previously.  King Ivar managed some state business in Liere and collected profits from the new Hraes’ stations he had set up in Denmark, including the largest at Hedeby.  Then he sailed to Norway and visited the Hraes’ station in Kaupang and then sailed up the coast of the Nor’Way to Southmore, where he visited his wife, Lagertha, and his son, Frode.  Jarl Ane and Jarl Sigurd met him there and they squared up business with Hraes’ stations from Northmore to Hrafnista.

From Southmore, King Ivar sailed to Ireland and met with Princess Hrafnhild in Dublin, introducing himself as her uncle, the younger brother of her father, Helgi Arrow Odd Hraerikson.  He collected his share of profits and paid out her share of tithes and helped her streamline her operation a bit then sailed off to Rouen to share profits and tithes with his uncle, Duke Rollo.  Then he headed to York to finish up business with Princess Blaeja Senior and her Hraes’ station in York Castle.  His first night there he raped Blaeja once again, then headed off to Lincoln to see how Biorn was making out with the Angles of the Danelaw.  Once he was sure that Biorn had his conquests under control, he returned to York and, finding his bags still located on the third floor, he raped Princess Blaeja once more.

“You might as well move into my room and be done with it!” Princess Blaeja cried.  ‘If your father knew you were treating me like this, there would be hell to pay!”

“I enjoy plundering you from my room down the hall.  And that reminds me…father wanted me to give you this two year supply of a drug you requested.  I gave the exact same drug to Duke Rollo and he would only tell me it was for the elderly.  You don’t look elderly at all,” he said, and he ravaged her once again.  “I am thinking of wintering in York once again.”

“Have you thought about my idea of minting Northumbrian coinage?” Princess Blaeja asked, as she tucked herself under Ivar’s arm.

“You mentioned that last spring,” he started.  “How does it go again?”

“Right now, we are officially using the gold and silver coins you have minted in Denmark.  The ones with your portrait on one face and King Frodi’s on the other.  It works well for Denmark, because the Danes still revere King Frodi the Peaceful, but it’s not really working that well here because King Frodi is still seen as the leader of the Great Pagan Army of 865.  For Northumbria we should mint coins locally with you on one side and King Oddi on the other.  The Umbrians loved Arrow Oddi.”

“You are right, of course, my princess, but King Oddi was also a leader of the Great Pagan Army of 865, just on the other side of the coin, the side that fled.  I think we should mint local coinage with my portrait on both sides of the coins.”

“That was my next suggestion,” Princess Blaeja lied.  “The people love you as much as your brother Oddi.”

So, King Ivar set up a mint in York and they started introducing coins with King Ivar ‘Harde Knute’ Eyfurson on both sides and the people called them Ivar the Boneless coins, with a leg missing on each side.  A thousand years later, hoards of silver coins would be found with both the Danish and York minted coins in them and archaeologists would be stupefied by the matching and mismatching portraiture.

All winter the coasts of Angleland and Ireland were raided by the slaver ships of the Danes, huge two masted knarrs that could spirit off whole villages at a time.  And the Saxon kings could not stop the raiding, so their annals made little mention of the enslavement of the people.  Just the attacks upon the church and the ravaging of the nobility.

In the spring, King Ivar again assembled and led the huge merchant fleets across the Baltic and into the riverways of Gardar.  After a few years, Ivar became known as King Ivar the Traveller and sagas were written of him.  And some of his sagas were localized and adopted by countries that loved him for the prosperity he brought them.  Countries such as Denmark and Sweden, kingdoms that were not having their coasts ravaged by slavers and raiders.