Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
KING SWEYN CONQUERS ENGLAND (Circa 1011 – 1014 AD)
“on that very night came there the sea king,
Mysing (Arrow Oddi), who slew Frodi,
and took much booty– and that was
the end of “The Peace of Frodi.”
Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)
(1011) In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to the Isle of Wight in Angleland where he had left his Danish mobile legion over the winter and with him he brought his Danish cataphract legion and he brought his son, Prince Valdamar, who brought his Kievan mobile legion and his Kievan cataphract legion and they met Jarl Eirik, who brought another five thousand Vikings with him besides the five thousand he had left in Ipswich over the winter. He left Princess Gyda and the children in Lade as this promised to be another interesting summer.
Queen Emma returned to Wight to get her quarry back up and running and get work on the cathedral going and Sweyn joined her in Southampton when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s silver tribute. Again, King Sweyn warned the Ealdormen of London about the Jomsviking threat as he accepted the forty eight thousand pounds of silver in tribute and he gave them peace with the Danes. When they returned to London, Sweyn took the silver back to Wight with him and Emma settled into her palace in the city square.
The Jomsviking army had spent the winter in Kent and the town of Sandwich, and the Ealdormen of London met with them there and offered them tribute of twenty thousand pounds of silver for peace with them. Jarl Thorkell told them that he would keep peace with England but not necessarily with Kent, as they would have to raid for supplies. The London Earls told Thorkell that the king would order Kent and Essex to supply the Jomsvikings with provisions if they kept peace with them as well and the Jarl accepted this for the summer. This worked well in the spring, but as summer progressed, the Jomsviking demands for mead and ale and women grew each month until the local Earls baulked.
The Jomsvikings immediately began raiding and pillaging throughout Kent; and behind them rowed the slaver knars of the Hraes’. They transferred their unransomed captives to the Viking camp in Sandwich and larger ocean going knars took them from Angleland across the Baltic to the slave schools of Kiev. The Danes weren’t involved in the human trafficking except for their king, Sweyn Forkbeard, who was a principal owner of the Hraes’ Trading Company, and profited immensely from the plundering of the Jomsvikings, who had, after all, come to Angleland at his request. The main target for the season was Canterbury and the Jomsvikings laid siege to the city. But Jarl Thorkell faced a dilemma because he had no siege equipment outside of ladders that were not tall enough for the Roman walls of Canterbury.
The original Roman city of Durovernum Cantiacorum had been built atop the British town of Durouernon and the Romans had built strong stone walls around their new city which was later occupied by the Danish Jutes of Jutland when they left, and was then called Cantwareburh which evolved into Canterbury. Although the names had changed, the cold stone Roman walls remained the same and would be an easy target for King Sweyn’s gravity trebuchets, however, the Danish king did not want his mobile legions involved in the siege because he had given his peace in trade for tribute. And his future plans required his maintaining the trust of the Anglo-Saxons. When Jarl Thorkell sailed to Wight with the twenty thousand pounds of silver tribute King Athelred had given him to not attack England, he gave it to his king and then requested the use of his trebuchets. King Sweyn told him he did not want his Danish legions involved in the assault and the trebuchets would require his experienced artillery crews to discharge them. “They are not like the simple Anglish catapults,” Sweyn explained. “Calculations must be made when setting them or their use can be dangerous. Untrained operators could end up maimed or worse.”
“Can we get Anglish catapults?” Thorkell asked.
“The Roman walls were built to be proof against the old catapult designs,” Sweyn went on, “because the designs are Roman, but the new Cathayan trebuchets have double the velocities and we use tonstone for greater impact, so, we can take down unmodified Roman walls very quickly, but the greater velocities and densities of the projectiles make them very dangerous when not employed properly.”
“Longer ladders are even more dangerous,” Thorkell said.
“Hence our dilemma,” Sweyn said. “But this isn’t the first time we’ve attacked Canterbury. Years ago I raided Kent as well and we met a Saxon army led by an Earl Aelfmar of Kent and my Exeyes officers tell me he is in charge of the defence of Canterbury. We crushed them, of course!”
“And you took his submission?” Thorkell asked.
“We took his whole army’s submission,” Sweyn told him. “We spent the whole afternoon forcing the Saxons to take a knee and bending them over their shields. I took the Earl’s submission in my pavilion and I didn’t cut my mark on his ear because I thought he might be of future use. Perhaps now is the time to use him. Can you set up a parley with him outside the walls?”
“A what?” Thorkell asked.
“Sorry, it’s a Norman term for meeting,” Sweyn answered. “Can you set up a meeting with Earl Aelfmar outside the walls of the city. He probably thinks he’s okay fighting Jomsvikings because he submitted to Danes, but you tell him you work for me. I’ll lend you my pavilion and you set it up in front of the main gates just outside of arrow range. He may recognize the pavilion. He saw the fabric pretty close when I had him bent over my campaign cot. I’ll give you my Frankish sparkling wine and my special roe of Khazar Vayar, he’ll recognize them. Then tell him you work for me and I’m ordering him to let your troops into the city at night. He’s been in default of the Roman conventions by fighting against you because that’s fighting against me, but I’ll let it go this time because he didn’t know. If he doesn’t follow my orders and let you in, when Canterbury falls I want him taken captive and I’ll personally cut two notches on his ear so, when I send him to the eunuch army training school in Kiev, the medics will castrate him and shorten his cock by six inches, the best six inches! Then tell him we’ve started taking the whole cock because we get them stuffed and sell them to women as dildos undercounter at Hraes’ stores so, if he doesn’t want his cock sold to some lonely Frankish wench in Paris, he’d better do as he’s ordered because Canterbury will fall!”
Thorkell sat across from Sweyn and didn’t know what to say. Finally he asked, “What if he doesn’t believe that you sent me?”
“If he doesn’t believe I sent you, tell him to show you his cock. After I took his submission, and I took it twice and he took a knee in between the times, I didn’t mark his ear, I cut my mark into his foreskin. Ask to see his cock!”
“Some of the Anglish are getting circumcised these days,” Thorkell pointed out. “They’re offering it to Heathens and Aesir when they convert.”
“Good! You’ve been studying up,” Sweyn said. “If he whips out his cock and it’s been circumcised, you tell him his cock’s going to hurt a whole hell of a lot more if I have to send him to Kiev! And remind him that he’ll keep his wealth and station in Canterbury if he follows orders.”
“That should convince him,” Thorkell said.
“I hope so,” Sweyn said. “Are you going to get it when you convert?”
“Circumcised! Are you going to let them circumcise you when you convert?”
“Fock no!” Thorkel cursed. “I like my cock just the way it is! Long and hard and up to its neck in Anglish honey, foreskin and all!”
“And how is your latest Anglish honey working out for you?” Sweyn asked him.
“Oh, she’s fine, very sweet!” Thorkell replied and then he said, “You know?”
“About Princess Aelfrowana? Prince Valdamar was a bit put off at having a Jomsviking for a brother-in-law! I told him he might have to take your submission.”
“What did he say about that?”
“Pretty much what you said…he’d prefer to keep his cock up to its neck in Anglish honey!” And they both laughed, Thorkell, somewhat nervously.
When Jarl Thorkell returned to Canterbury, he asked for a parley with Earl Aelfmar and was surprised to learn that the Anglish knew what a parley was. Aelfmar met with Thorkell and they shared some fine Frankish wine and some Khavayar in King Sweyn’s pavilion and Thorkell could see that Aelfmar recognized the fine royal fabric of the tent and remembered the taste of the sparkling wine and the texture of the Khavayar and Thorkell didn’t have to ask to see his cock at all. Aelfmar agreed to do as ordered right away. He knew the penalty for defaulting on submission. Every trooper and every soldier and every warrior in England knew about submission requirements of the captured and what punishments were allotted to defaulters. The Jutes and the Angles and the Saxons had all been Aesir when they subjugated the British when the Romans fled centuries ago. The Franks and the Saxons and the Marcomanni and many other Scandinavian groups had been Aesir when they moved south and took the submission of the Celts of Germany at the same time that Julius Caesar was taking the submission of the Celts of Gaul. When the fresh Roman forces in Gaul turned on the new Aesir tribes in Germany, it was a new conflict between the Aesir and the Vanir, a struggle for the control of Northern Europe, between two conquering religions following the same tripartite gods, Odin versus Zeus pater or Jupiter, Thor versus Mars and Tyr versus Mercury, and Odin won again. The Romans left Britain and then they left Gaul and soon Rome, itself, fell. The Romans should have stayed in their Vanir south and should have left the Celts to the Scandinavian Aesir. They had fought it out in the east a thousand years earlier, when Troy fell, and the Aesir Greeks drove the Vanir Persians south into India and west into Italy. The prince, Paris, fell in Troy, but Prince Aeneas led some of the Trojans west to found Rome, and other Trojans fled south to join the Vanir Bhramans in the Indus valley.
The Anglo-Saxons didn’t remember all the history, but they remembered submissions and the penalties for defaulting on them so, Earl Aelfmar met Jarl Thorkill and his Jomsviking army at a side gate of Canterbury’s city walls and he let them in. In the morning the Saxons arose to learn the Jomsvikings were in control of everything and then the rapes and plundering began. The men were taken captive and the slavers took their submissions and the Vikings moved into the homes of Canterbury and took the submissions of their wives and daughters and they overwintered there. Slave knars took the men down the River Stour to Sandwich where they were allowed to ransom themselves, but most of them had their silver hidden back in Canterbury, where their wives were being raped and their children were being abused and a few were ransomed by the church but they were being taken as well, so, most of the men were shipped directly off to Kiev and only one in ten were ransomed.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Elphege was seized and shackled and imprisoned and tortured, Earl Aelfmar was made abbot of St. Augustine’s monastery and given leave to go there, Bishop Godwin of Rochester and Elfward, the king’s reeve, were made prisoner as well, and Abbess Leofruna of St. Mildred and all her nuns were bedded as the abbey was turned into a barracks for the Viking warriors. While the church was being thus abused, ransoms were not being paid and the half of the population that was enslaved consisted mostly of males bound for the eunuch armies of the east.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
“A.D. 1011. This year sent the king and his council to the army,
and desired peace; promising them both tribute and provisions,
on condition that they ceased from plunder. They had now
overrun East-Anglia, and Essex, and Middlesex, and
Oxfordshire, and Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire,
and Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire, and half of
Huntingdonshire, and much of Northamptonshire; and, to
the south of the Thames, all Kent, and Sussex, and Hastings, and
Surrey, and Berkshire, and Hampshire, and much of Wiltshire. All
these disasters befell us through bad counsels; that they would
not offer tribute in time, or fight with them; but, when they had
done most mischief, then entered they into peace and amity with
them. And not the less for all this peace, and amity, and
tribute, they went everywhere in troops; plundering, and
spoiling, and slaying our miserable people. In this year,
between the Nativity of St. Mary and Michaelmas, they beset
Canterbury, and entered therein through treachery; for Elfmar
delivered the city to them, whose life Archbishop Elfeah formerly
saved. And there they seized Archbishop Elfeah, and Elfward the
king’s steward, and Abbess Leofruna, and Bishop Godwin; and
Abbot Elfmar they suffered to go away. And they took therein all
the men, and husbands, and wives; and it was impossible for any
man to say how many they were; and in the city they continued
afterwards as long as they would. And, when they had surveyed
all the city, they then returned to their ships, and led the
archbishop with them.
Then was a captive
he who before was
of England head
there might be seen
where oft before
great bliss was seen,
in the fated city,
whence first to us
and bliss ‘fore God
and ‘fore the world.
And the archbishop they kept with them until the time
when they martyred him.”
(1012) Over the winter, Archbishop Aelfheah, also called Alphege, had worked hard to convert as many Heathens to Latin Christianity as he could and Bishop Godwin marvelled at how many of the Jomsvikings he’d had success with, since the Jomsvikings were absolutely the most godless of the pagans and were famed for their violence and rapes and pillaging. By early spring he had even converted Jarl Thorkell ‘the Tall’ Strut-Haraldson to Christianity and a group of Jomsviking followers joined him in foregoing the rapes of the women of Canterbury, although many claimed Thorkell’s conversion was due to his falling in love with a Christian Northumbrian princess he had captured in the sacking of Northampton the previous fall. But much of the skepticism was dispelled when Thorkell released Bishop Godwin and many priests and monks from the Canterbury prison and even provided them with transport to London aboard Jomsviking longships bearing white shields on their masts. After that, news of Thorkell’s conversion spread all over England.
In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to the Isle of Wight in Angleland where he had left his Danish mobile legion over the winter and with him he brought his Danish cataphract legion and another mobile legion from Kiev that had overwintered in Denmark. He met Jarl Eirik, who brought another five thousand Vikings with him, at the fortress and learned that again he had left Princess Gyda and the children in Lade.
Over Yulefest, King Sweyn had learned from Jarl Sigvald that Thorkell had converted to Christianity so, Sweyn had asked the Jomsviking leader to join him in Angleland and, when Jarl Eirik saw Sigvald, he demanded his submission before Eirik would work with him. “It is for Jarl Haakon that I demand his submission,” Eirik told Sweyn. “Jarl Haakon sacrificed his son, to beat the Jomsvikings at Hjorungavagr, so, he deserves Sigvald’s submission more than anyone, even if it is given posthumously!”
“I never thought of it that way,” Sweyn replied. “I’m an adopted son of Haakon. Perhaps we should both take his submission for Jarl Haakon.”
“I think Jarl Haakon would find that most fitting!” Eirik said and he put a finely crafted Walnut box in front of Sweyn and he opened it and in it was Jarl Haakon’s head. “I had the witch, Hallveig preserve it in the Aesir way,” Eirik said.
So, Sweyn arranged for Eirik to meet him at his master suite and they put the box on the headboard of the bed and opened it so that the box formed a shroud around Haakon’s head and a lace veil was in front, hiding the head from view but not obscuring the view of the head. Haakon’s eyes were shut and his lips were mute and his blond hair was pristine. They sent for Sigvald and, when he was brought into the suite, Sweyn sent the guards away and they had Frankish wine and Khazar Vayar in the great room with Sigvald and then they took his submission in the bedroom. They stripped the Jomsviking naked, putting a leash around his neck and having him take a knee before them at the end of the bed and they each dropped their pants and got naked. Then they bent him over the foot of Sweyn’s bed and took him from behind in honour of the late Jarl Haakon. As Sweyn was thrusting deep into Jarl Sigvald, he looked up at Haakon’s head and he was startled by the blue eyes that stared back at him and those steely eyes drew him to thrust even deeper and Sweyn almost felt Haakon calling on his goddess Irpa to bless Sweyn even more and Sigvald cried out in pain at the bruising that this swelling was causing him. Afterwards, they tied Sigvald’s leash to the footpost and he sat naked on the bed and watched Eirik and Sweyn renew their Theban Sacred Band Brotherhood rituals and he slept on the foot of the bed as Eirik and Sweyn slept together under the silks.
When Queen Emma returned to Wight to get her quarry back up and running, Sweyn told her that Thorkell ‘the Tall’, the leader of the Jomsvikings in Canterbury had converted to Christianity over winter with a large number of his followers and that the Jomsvikings of Wollin had sent Jarl Sigvald to replace him. The Jomsviking problem had just gotten more unpredictable so, he had brought additional legions to help keep the peace. They returned to Southampton together when the Anglish ships arrived from London with the king’s tribute, forty eight thousand pounds of silver. King Sweyn told the Ealdormen of London about some of the Jomsvikings converting to Christianity and how it might further destabilize an already precarious situation in Canterbury. When the Ealdormen returned to London, Sweyn took the silver back to Wight with him and Emma settled into her palace in Southampton.
Later in the spring, Prince Valdamar brought his Kievan mobile legion and his Kievan cataphract legion to Angleland, but they sailed straight to Bamburgh in Northumbria and Valdy had most of his legions lay low there. Prince Valdamar and Princess Aelfgifu then took a retinue and troops to visit her family holdings in York, Gainsborough and Northampton and they left a regiment of legionnaires on her estates at each location. They were there to protect Aelfgifu’s relatives from ravaging Jomsvikings and in every city they were stationed in, they set about improving the defences and the locals welcomed the added security they provided. Even though the troops weren’t English, were Hraes legionnaires from Kiev and Constantinople, they were Chrisitans, they were better than Jomsvikings and they kept the peace. Prince Valdamar brought two regiments to Northampton, which had been sacked in the fall, and the soldiers set about making repairs to the defensive walls and gates and to churches and civic buildings. Princess Aelfgifu’s mother, Lady Aelfhelm, welcomed her new son-in-law and so did Aelfgifu’s two blind brothers. Years earlier, Earl Aelfhelm, had been ordered put to death by King Athelred for supporting the Danes and his two sons had been ordered blinded and Aelfgifu, herself, had been declared a bad match and was expected to die a spinster or join a nunnery and that is why Valdy had found her eighteen years old and still a single virgin the previous fall. To be so beautiful and wealthy and still single at the age of eighteen had not made sense to the prince, but now the cause of it was emerging and Valdy was thankful for Athelred’s vindictiveness, for it had allowed him time to find his princess.
Meanwhile, on the Holy Saturday of Easter in mid-April, the pagan Jomsvikings offered to give Archbishop Alphege, his freedom for a ransom payment of three thousand pounds of silver, but Alphege refused such ransoms so, they put off his execution until the next Saturday. When it arrived, the Christian Jomsvikings had talked the pagan Jomsvikings into delaying their threats once more, until a shipment of supplies and fine Frankish wine arrived from the port of Sandwich and they began feasting and drinking and were soon intoxicated, and, being incensed at Alphege for having forbidden any ransom, they brought him forth from his dungeon and dragged him into their great hall. They chained him to a post in the center of the hall and showered him with trencherplates, bones, and ox-skulls until he was beaten almost senseless. The Christian Jomsvikings came at the hall to save the archbishop, but the pagans within locked them out. Thorkell pounded at the door and offered the pagans anything they wanted in order to save Alphege, but when they asked Thorkell for his ship, their leader refused them it. At length, one of them whose name was Thrum, a man Alphege had just converted only the day before, with compassionate impiety, split his head with the back of an axe, and he instantly collapsed, dead.
Jarl Thorkell sailed to London in his ship with the corpse of Alphege aboard on the day following, and he led forty four other Christian Jomsviking ships with him and they all had white shields on their masts. They sailed up the Thames between the new large ships of the English and eighty of the large ships escorted the Jomsvikings to the great city. King Athelred met them there and the body of Archbishop Alphege was received by the citizens of London with deep reverence, and it was interred in St. Paul’s Church by Bishop Ednoth of Lincoln, and Bishop Alfhun of London. After the arval, Jarl Thorkell and the Christian Jomsviking fleet, which had been kept under guard, offered to serve the king, as Archbishop Alphege had wished them to, and the crews all swore fealty to Athelred, and he engaged them to defend England against foreigners, and he supplied them with silver and food and raiment. Jarl Thorkell and many others had brought their Christian wives with them, but Princess Aelfrowana had warned Thorkell not to tell the king who she was and she told him the story of her father, Earl Aelfhelm’s, disgrace and subsequent murder.
After Jarl Thorkell had left for London with his Christian Jomsvikings, Jarl Sigvald arrived in Canterbury with two regiments of Hraes’ troops and took control of the Jomsvikings and set about organizing the defence of the city. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, King Sweyn had been building up his legions and forces around London, readying for a final assault on the city. He held or controlled Southampton, Canterbury, Ipswich, Cambridge, Northampton and Oxford, all the major cities surrounding London and the Anglo-Saxons, for various reasons, were unaware of the dangerous situation evolving around their great city in the center. Sweyn was building up an overwhelming force, but he did not want to use it. He needed the brave fyrds of London for his upcoming war with the Romans. He needed an intact and strong England behind him in his war in the east.
Sweyn had the support of the Ui Imair of Ireland and the support of Scotland, the support and alliance of Normandy, his own Denmark and the support of Norway and Sweden through marriage and alliance and his own family Principalities of Hraes’, which had grown to a size almost equalling the northern Scandinavian countries combined. But a long drawn out war to conquer England might compromise the combined strengths of all the kingdoms to a point where an attack on Rome might not be possible. More importantly, a long drawn out war required time, and Sweyn was getting old. He had already spent decades milking Ireland and England and Baghdad and Constantinople to refill his war-chests with gold and now he was getting old. He needed rapid victories, England next year, the reconquest of Bulgaria in three months, his co-Emperorship in another three months including three days to kill his competing emperors, then six months in the Levant before he would enter Baghdad, then Egypt and North Africa and Greece and Spain and the Normans would attack Italy from the north and he would attack it from the south for a planned meeting in the ancient city of Rome. That was the plan and very few people knew of it. Prince Hraerik ‘Bragi’ of Tmutorokan, Grand Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ of Kiev, Jarl Eirik of Lade and Duke Richard of Normandy.
The plan was quite doable, even with the compressed timeframe, but Prince Hraerik had just added more to the order. After Rome, there was to be India, then Cathay, including an island group of the rising sun, and then Turkland, all of it, from Hraes’ all the way east to the rising sun land. The only land not to be conquered was Africa, from whence all man originally sprang, according to Prince Hraerik, and the newfoundlands in the west, which posed no threat. It was a tall order. But the highseat would be Rome, in Constantinople, and Empress Sviataslava would be sitting at his side. From there he would rule in peace and could die in peace, hopefully while sleeping inside Svia as the gods took him away.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
A.D. 1012. This year came Alderman Edric, and all the oldest
counsellors of England, clerk and laity, to London before Easter,
which was then on the ides of April; and there they abode, over
Easter, until all the tribute was paid, which was 48,000 pounds.
Then on the Saturday was the army much stirred against the
bishop; because he would not promise them any fee, and forbade
that any man should give anything for him. They were also much
drunken; for there was wine brought them from the south. Then
took they the bishop, and led him to their hustings, on the eve
of the Sunday after Easter, which was the thirteenth before the
calends of May; and there they then shamefully killed him. They
overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them
smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards
with the blow; and his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his
sacred soul was sent to the realm of God. The corpse in the
morning was carried to London; and the bishops, Ednoth and
Elfhun, and the citizens, received him with all honour, and
buried him in St. Paul’s minster; where God now showeth this holy
martyr’s miracles. When the tribute was paid, and the peace-oaths
were sworn, then dispersed the army as widely as it was
before collected. Then submitted to the king five and forty of
the ships of the enemy; and promised him, that they would defend
this land, and he should feed and clothe them.
(1013) In the early spring, King Sweyn returned to the Isle of Wight and left another Hraes’ legion there and he brought another legion for his son, Prince Valdamar, in Gainsborough and he brought another legion to Ipswich, where he met Jarl Eirik, who brought yet another five thousand Vikings with him as well as Princess Gyda and the children. There were so many Hraes’ troops in England that Eirik felt confident in bringing his princess and children with him. And still, the Anglo-Saxons hadn’t realized how great the storm was building that would soon be unleashed upon the kingdom. There were distractions occurring, whereby Vikings were converting to Christianity and appeared to be building up English strength, and there were important English leaders dying and being buried in lavish ceremonies that kept English eyes focused within London.
King Sweyn even kept Queen Emma unaware of the build-up. When she came down from London to continue her cathedral building in Southampton, Sweyn made sure he had a mobile legion out at sea on manoeuvres in their transport ships so, the harbour at Wight wasn’t overly crowded or the fortress there not overly full of troops. She spent time with Sweyn while she got her quarry back up and running and when she returned to Southampton she reassured concerned Ealdormen that she had not seen fleets of Hraes’ ships in the harbour of Wight. The Hraes’ troops that were known to be in England were busy repairing towns and cities throughout the countryside from damages inflicted by marauding Jomsvikings. Things were now so calm in England, with the Jomsvikings hunkered down in Canterbury enjoying their feasting and the Kentish women there, that Sweyn felt comfortable leading the spring’s great merchant fleet out of Roskilde, east to Baghdad. He had a few more legions to bring back with him in the fall and he spent time in Kiev with Princess Serah as they processed the various independent traders using the route and then he stopped in Cherson to visit with Princess Svia, who had taken up residence there while Prince Valdamar was overwintering in Angleland. Then he met his grandfather, Prince Hraerik, in Tmutorokan and they went through the progress of their plans and Sweyn arranged to have his thirty Roman dromons sail through the Mediterranean into the Atlantean Sea, north to England. He wanted them there on a precise date and no earlier. If they arrived early, they were to wait in Normandy for the set date.
Princess Svia led the merchant fleet to Constantinople and was entertained by the Emperors and by the royals of Rome while her traders sold slaves and furs and honey in the city. She was also busy forwarding her husband, Sweyn’s, claim to the Roman throne. After he conquered Angleland, he would come and reconquer Bulgaria for the Romans, so quickly as to put fear into the Emperors, and then demand his promised co-Emperorship. King Sweyn and Prince Hraerik led the rest of the fleet east to the Caspian Sea and some went further east to Khwarizm and Cathay while most sailed south along the coast for Baghdad. “I want to take my Tmutorokan mobile legion north in the fall and help you conquer Angleland,” the Prince told Sweyn as they sat together in the Hraes’ wing of the Caliph’s palace.
“I was hoping you’d offer,” Sweyn told him. “I need one more mobile legion to meet my Roman dromons at the mouth of the Thames. The English have new warships, similar to the dromons but taller and harder to attack. They were designed by Queen Emma of Normandy,” Sweyn said and he went on to tell Hraerik more about the queen of England than he did about her ships.
“You love her, don’t you?” his grandfather asked.
“I love her,” Sweyn admitted, “but I have to neutralize her ships before I attack England.”
Prince Hraerik led a fleet on to India, and sent a further merchant fleet and recovery vessels on to Cathay. They would not be coming back for another year.
Near the end of summer King Sweyn and Prince Hraerik cut their trading season short and took the Tmutorokan mobile legion north to England. They sailed straight to Sandwich and met the fleet of Roman dromons there and collected intel from Ipswich and Canterbury and Wight. Queen Emma and her children were still in Southampton so, Sweyn sent orders for Commander Gudmund to take a legion across the Solent to lock down the city, as well as Portsmouth to the south. Then Sweyn and Hraerik took their fleets into the mouth of the Thames, where one hundred of Queen Emma’s new tall ships awaited them.
The English warships ran up both banks of the Thames for many miles so, it was impossible to surprise more than just the first few so, the Roman dromons sailed up the center of the river two abreast and unloaded their deck mounted trebuchets on the English ships as they rowed past them and then the transport warships of the Tmutorokan mobile legions let loose with their lighter deck mounted trebuchets and the English finally began returning shots with their catapults and it turned into a running naval artillery barrage of English granite against Swedish tonstone. And old Roman style torsion twisted catapults against the newer high velocity Cathayan trebuchets. It should have been no contest, but the rough heavy sawn tarred planking of the fixed frame English ships withstood the battering and the finely planed planks of the Hraes’ ships, that made them more seaworthy, took damage that equalized the disparity in projectile power.
But the Hraes’ had learned a trick or two from the Andulus Arabs of Spain and they carried pots of Greek fire that they lit and shot at the tarred planks of the English ships and, when the Greek fire burned, no amount of water pumped from the Thames could put it out. The English ships had been built so quickly that the rough plank strakes leaked, even with the copious amounts of pine tar on them, so, the ships were equipped with multiple bilge pumps run constantly by pump crews and the water was directed by hide hoses onto the erupting flames and English damage control became a battle within the battle as the Hraes’ ships progressed past them on their way up the Thames. The more water the English sailors had to pour on their ships to fight the flaming decks, the less water was pumped over the sides back into the river and the ships began to sink. The ships were all smashed and burning by the time the Hraes’ fleet made it to London, but behind the Hraes’ fleet came a fleet of Jomsviking warships out of Sandwich and they were spoiling for a fight to avenge the beating they had taken at the hands of the English ships earlier.
The English sailors fought hard to save their ships as the battle progressed but by the time the Jomsvikings arrived the large ships were low enough in the water for the Vikings to board them and they would have slaughtered all the English sailors and marines had it not been for one thing. King Sweyn needed sailors and marines for his upcoming fight with the Romans so, he had ordered Jarl Sigvald and his Jomsvikings to take every English submission they possibly could and he held Sigvald personally responsible for his order being followed. Jarl Sigvald and his Jomsvikings boarded the English ships and took submissions and, whether the English preferred death or not, they bent them over the siderails of their ships and raped them with extreme violence and Sigvald personally attended to as many submissions as a man his age possibly could.
When King Sweyn and Prince Hraerik arrived on his shieldship before the walls of London, it bore a red shield of war on its mast, and Sweyn demanded that King Athelred surrender his kingdom. The English responded by opening up their catapults on the Hraes’ fleet and the English granite fell harmlessly into the waters of the Thames. While destroying the new English navy, the Danes had pretty much figured out the maximum range of their Roman catapults. The Londoners’ refusal to capitulate was not reflected in the actions or mood of the rest of the country. Prince Valdamar and Princess Aelfgifu were at the Viking fortress he was building in Gainsborough when the message to attack arrived. The legions that were laying low in Bamburgh came out and took York and then soon after Earl Utred pledged allegiance to the Danes, and all the Northumbrians with him, and then all the people of Lindsey, and afterwards the people of the Five Boroughs of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford, and Lincoln pledged themselves to the Danes and soon after all the army to the north of Watling-street; and hostages were sent to Prince Valdamar from each shire. When all the people were subject to him, he led his army southward to meet up with his father, King Sweyn, at Oxford; and the population of the city resisted, but soon surrendered. But because they had resisted, Prince Valdamar set up his army in Oxford and they gave the citizens there the same treatment the Jomsvikings had given the people of Canterbury. The men were enslaved and offered ransom, but most were loaded into slaver knars and hauled down the Thames to Sandwich, where they were transferred to sea going knars and were carried off to the slave schools of Kiev. The legionnaires then moved into the homes of their wives and daughters and made themselves comfortable while a siege was set up around London. Prince Valdamar then retired to Northampton to meet Princess Aelfgifu and they made themselves comfortable as well.
Prince Hraerik commanded the fleet on the Thames and the army around the city of London, while Sweyn began negotiations with King Athelred for the surrender of the city. The surrounding country had all acknowledged Sweyn as their king and only the Londoners held out, but news began filtering into the city of what had befallen Oxford because they had resisted and the London Ealdormen soon started side negotiations with Sweyn. Then a messenger arrived from Southampton and it was from Queen Emma, begging an audience in her palace with the new king of England. King Sweyn left the Prince in charge and took a legion south to Winchester to take pledges and hostages there and went on to Southampton and met with the queen in her new palace.
She held a feast in celebration of his victory and she took him to bed for the first time in her palace and they made love and slept together into the late morning. Ealdorman Ethelmar and all the western Earls and thanes came to Southampton to give pledges to the new king, but Emma would not let Sweyn entertain them in her new palace. “It would not look proper,” she told him. “I am still the wife of King Athelred.” Sweyn understood and took his pledges and hostages at the Hraes’ palace across the street and only returned to her palace to sleep with her. One evening, Sweyn slipped away to study the third floor construction of Emma’s palace, and again he saw the three black clad cleaning women that worked for Emma and he thought that he recognized the youngest one. She was beautiful with long dark hair and just of marriageable age and she looked familiar somehow, as if Sweyn should know her. Then he went up into the top level and he marvelled at the construction. It was the same as the ships Emma had designed, only upside down. He marvelled, once more, at the resourcefulness of the queen.
“I want to marry you,” Sweyn told Emma in bed.
“And I want to marry you,” Emma responded. “But I cannot be the spoils of war. I want to go back to Normandy and stay with Richard for a while and then I’ll come back to marry you. It will look better to my subjects that way.”
“I made an agreement with Duke Richard,” Sweyn began, “for him to accept my booty and prisoners in Normandy.”
“I hope I’m not your prisoner!” Emma said, imperiously, and Sweyn was reminded of why he had fallen in love with her.
“No, not at all!” Sweyn replied. “But before I left London, I offered Athelred safe passage to Normandy with Jarl Thorkell and his fleet of Christian Jomsvikings. I love you and I don’t want that lecherous motherfocker anywhere near you!”
“I haven’t had sex with Athelred in over a decade!” Emma exclaimed. “I’ll be perfectly safe in Normandy!”
“If you haven’t had sex in over a decade…” Sweyn mused, “are your children mine?”
“I’ll let you know when we are married,” Emma told him, imperiously. “A lady does not discuss such personal issues with anyone but her husband.”
So, Queen Emma took her son Edward and her daughter Goda and her youngest son Alfred aboard her little flagship, and a warfleet of Hraes’ sailors, marines and legionnaires escorted her to Normandy. Bishop Elfun went with the ethelings to continue to give them instruction overseas. The rest of her household staff she sent north to London to work in her estate there while she was gone. Sweyn saw Emma off and then he saw the young girl in black as she boarded another ship with her fellow cleaners bound for London.
King Sweyn took his legion back north via a circuitous route through Salisbury, Bath and then Bristol, taking pledges and hostages as he progressed, then he went to Oxford, to the rest of his army there, and he partook of the Oxford women while they waited for Prince Valdamar to join them. So vast was their army that when they got to the Thames, many soldiers grew impatient with the ships that were to ferry them across and they attempted to ford the river and many lives were lost due to this haste. Sweyn and Valdy joined Prince Hraerik, Commander Gudmund and Jarl Sigvald on the bridge of the Roman dromon shieldship and they waited for a messenger to row out from the walls of London with King Athelred’s response to Sweyn’s offer of sanctuary in Normandy. The king accepted the offer as long as Jarl Thorkell and his Christian Jomsvikings were allowed to transport him there and stay with him as security throughout his stay with Duke Richard. King Sweyn gave his royal oath that this would be allowed. They would sail to Southampton in the afternoon, stay over in Queen Emma’s palace, and would sail from there in the morning for Normandy.
King Athelred was placed under Christian Jomsviking guard in a suite in Queen Emma’s palace in Southampton and Sweyn and Jarl Eirik met in Queen Emma’s master suite and they put the box with Haakon’s head on the headboard of the bed and opened it so that the box formed the shroud around Haakon’s head and the lace veil was in front of it again to hide the head from view. Haakon’s eyes were shut and his lips were mute and his blond hair was pristine. Sweyn ordered Jarl Thorkell to fetch the king and, when he was brought into the suite, Sweyn sent the Christian Jomsviking guards away and they had Frankish wine and Khazar Vayar in the great room with Athelred and then they told him that they would be taking his submission in the bedroom.
Athelred protested, of course, but they stripped him naked and put a leash about his neck and Sweyn had him kneel in front of him and Athelred was still protesting when Sweyn dropped his pants and his hard member stood out before the king. Athelred had seen larger cocks before, but it really was quite beautiful, exquisite even, as he took it into his mouth and sucked longingly upon it. He was pleasantly surprised at how it grew while it was in his mouth and, when it was ready, Athelred bent himself over the foot of the bed and took it all in and he began moaning as Sweyn thrust again and again. Sweyn looked up to the headboard and he saw the flash of steel blue eyes through the veil on Haakon’s box and he grew even larger as Irpa blessed him again for Haakon’s sacrifice, and Athelred moaned in delight at this and he came all over the silk sheets as Sweyn exploded inside him. There were no protests when Eirik stood naked in front of the kneeling king. As Eirik was thrusting deep into Athelred, he looked up at Haakon’s head and he too was startled by the blue eyes that stared back at him and the steely eyes of his father caused him to thrust even deeper into Athelred, who moaned in delight and came several times before Eirik did. Afterwards, they tied Athelred’s leash to the footpost and he sat naked on the bed and watched Eirik and Sweyn perform their Theban Sacred Band Brotherhood rituals and he begged to be allowed to join them but was refused. He slept on the foot of the bed as Eirik and Sweyn slept together under the silks.
The next day, they sailed for Normandy and King Athelred was in a lighthearted mood as he enjoyed the trip. “I think he enjoyed giving his submission more than we did taking it,” Sweyn complained to Eirik. “I know!” Eirik said, “And Haakon’s head enjoyed it even more. I saw it in his eyes! Father always did enjoy a good rape, especially if the victim turned out to be not too distraught about it.”
“That he did!” Sweyn agreed. The witch, Hallveig, had been a victim of Jarl Haakon’s lust for the rapine, but, even in death, she still served him. He shook his head as King Athelred took a great gulp of sea air and pointed out the mouth of the Seine.
Back in England, the population of London offered pledges of fealty to King Sweyn and gave hostages, and they dreaded what would become of them if Sweyn emulated the treatment that had been dispensed in Oxford. But the slave schools of Kiev had been filled and the lust for Menja had been sated. Prince Hraerik sent his Tmutorokan legion back to Hraes’ with the last of the slaver knars and the Kievan legions went with it. The Prince, himself, had been invited by Iceland and Greenland princes to join them on a trade mission into the Newfoundland and he was joined by the Welsh, led by Weiand of North Wales. They would be overwintering in several native settlements that were run by the descendants of his first son, Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’. The Prince had been there before and it was an opportunity he could not pass on so, they sailed off west while the weather was good.
All England acknowledged King Sweyn as the king of England and it was time for the Danes to allow England to heal and rebuild itself. King Sweyn planned to lead the great merchant fleet east in the spring, leaving Prince Valdamar in England, and he planned to reconquer Bulgaria over the summer, so, his Kievan and Tmutorokan legions would rest at home over the winter and start a fresh campaign in the summer. The Bulgarians would fight harder than the English had, but they would fall as fast, Sweyn reassured himself as he relaxed in Queen Emma’s palace in London. The three women dressed in black were there and they went out of their way to serve their king. The old one cooked, the middling one cleaned and the young one drew his bath and warmed his bed with charcoal braziers.
One evening, the middling woman told Sweyn he could take her daughter, but she only asked that she and her mother be taken as well, for they did everything as a threesome. Sweyn had been pining for Emma and decided to take the comely woman up on her offer and that night the older women brought the girl into the master suite and Sweyn was in the great room drinking fine Frankish wine and eating Khavayar and he offered some to the women and they sat and joined him and they gave some wine to the young girl to help with the pain, for she was a virgin just into puberty and she was a deer girl, so, they gave her a bit more wine and she was very gay and lighthearted when the women stripped naked in front of Sweyn and then went into the bedroom to warm the bed for him. They called him into the room when the bed was warmed and Sweyn came in and undressed before them and they saw that he was already erect and would be a challenge for the young girl. Sweyn threw back the sheets and surveyed the women, the middling woman nearest him was comely of face and well formed and the young girl was beautiful and still youthfully figured and the older woman was lean and taut and drove him to look back at the young girl again. Sweyn laid between them on the bed and the middling woman got up and went to the dressing room for towels while the old woman took Sweyn’s member into her toothless mouth and began nominal congress on him with a power and skill that belied her age. The middling woman came back and put towels under Sweyn and they guided the young girl over Sweyn’s hips and the old woman gave Sweyn’s cock a few last wettings and held his cock in her hands as the middling woman lowered her daughter onto Sweyn’s member and the girl breathed in deeply as Sweyn entered her and burst her membrane and blood flowed onto the towels. The old woman wiped down Sweyn’s hips gently as the blood poured forth from the girl and she settled on Sweyn and rose up as her mother guided her and then the girl began to stride on Sweyn slowly and she began to feel more pleasure than pain and she rode Sweyn for a while before her mother pulled her off and took her place and the young girl watched as her mother rode Sweyn hard and began coming and moaning in pleasure and the young girl noted that her mother didn’t seem to be in any pain at all. The older woman was busy pleasuring herself to get moist and, when the middling woman climaxed, the older woman took her place on Sweyn and began riding him for a while but she quickly lost her moisture and was soon in pain so, her daughter, the middling woman climbed back on Sweyn and rode him for a few more climaxes before giving Sweyn up to the young girl again and, as she was riding him, Sweyn realized who the girl reminded him of and it was Gunhild of Wend, his wife he had lost in Ipswich during the Saint Brice’s Day Massacre just over a decade earlier. The girls face in pleasure looked as Gunhild’s had when they were focking hard and her long dark locks flowed the same way. It excited Sweyn and he began flowing inside the girl almost immediately.
They slept together all night and in the morning Sweyn thanked the women and gave them gifts and asked them to warm his bed again that night. And so it went for the rest of the week and when King Sweyn had to travel about his kingdom attending to his subjects and projects he took the three women in black along with him and they kept his pavilion for him. The old woman cooked, the middling woman cleaned and the young woman drew his bath and bathed him and warmed his campaign cot for him. Sweyn brought his food tasters with him on his travels and his Exeyes officers kept a strong security net cast about him. They were the first to notice when the young girl working for King Sweyn began vomiting and they put food tasters on duty for all personnel eating in the king’s pavilion, but the vomiting persisted and it was determined that the young girl was pregnant.
King Sweyn returned to London with his retinue and settled his young girl into palace life as a concubine wife. When Christmas approached, Sweyn, being Aesir, returned to Denmark for Yulefest with his wives there and Prince Valdamar and Princess Aelfgifu moved into King Athelred’s palace from Northampton and officiated over Christmas celebrations in London and all England. Lady Aelfhelm and her blind sons joined them at the palace and Princess Aelfrowana joined them from Normandy even though Jarl Thorkell had to remain in Rouen with King Athelred. Princess Aelfgifu was very pleased that her family had endured the king’s rage for many years and were now looking down upon all who had previously looked so down upon them. She did miss her namesake, Queen Emma ‘Aelfgifu’ of Normandy and Princess Aelfrowana told her that the queen was living in Paris and was opening more Hraes’ stores in Frankia.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
“A.D. 1013. The year after that Archbishop Elfeah was martyred,
the king appointed Lifing to the archiepiscopal see of
Canterbury. And in the same year, before the month August, came
King Sweyne with his fleet to Sandwich; and very soon went about
East-Anglia into the Humber-mouth, and so upward along the Trent,
until he came to Gainsborough. Then soon submitted to him Earl
Utred, and all the Northumbrians, and all the people of Lindsey,
and afterwards the people of the Five Boroughs, and soon after
all the army to the north of Watling-street; and hostages were
given him from each shire. When he understood that all the
people were subject to him, then ordered he that his army should
have provision and horses; and he then went southward with his
main army, committing his ships and the hostages to his son
Knute. And after he came over Watling-street, they wrought the
greatest mischief that any army could do. Then he went to
Oxford; and the population soon submitted, and gave hostages;
thence to Winchester, where they did the same. Thence went they
eastward to London; and many of the party sunk in the Thames,
because they kept not to any bridge. When he came to the city,
the population would not submit; but held their ground in full
fight against him, because therein was King Ethelred, and
Thurkill with him. Then went King Sweyne thence to Wallingford;
and so over Thames westward to Bath, where he abode with his
army. Thither came Alderman Ethelmar, and all the western thanes
with him, and all submitted to Sweyne, and gave hostages. When
he had thus settled all, then went he northward to his ships; and
all the population fully received him, and considered him full
king. The population of London also after this submitted to him,
and gave hostages; because they dreaded that he would undo them.
Then bade Sweyne full tribute and forage for his army during the
winter; and Thurkill bade the same for the army that lay at
Greenwich: besides this, they plundered as oft as they would.
And when this nation could neither resist in the south nor in the
north, King Ethelred abode some while with the fleet that lay in
the Thames; and the lady went afterwards over sea to her
brother Richard, accompanied by Elfsy, Abbot of Peterborough.
The king sent Bishop Elfun with the ethelings, Edward and Alfred,
over sea; that he might instruct them. Then went the king from
the fleet, about midwinter, to the Isle of Wight; and their abode
for the season; after which he went over sea to Richard, with
whom he abode till the time when Sweyne died. Whilst the lady
was with her brother beyond sea, Elfsy, Abbot of Peterborough,
who was there with her, went to the abbey called Boneval, where
St. Florentine’s body lay; and there found a miserable place, a
miserable abbot, and miserable monks: because they had been
plundered. There he bought of the abbot, and of the monks, the
body of St. Florentine, all but the head, for 500 pounds; which,
on his return home, he offered to Christ and St. Peter.
(1014) After Yulefest, King Sweyn returned to Queen Emma’s palace in London and learned that his youngest concubine wife was not vomiting as much but was still just as pregnant. Prince Valdamar was busy building a moat and bailey castle in Gainsborough, and his English wife was back in Northampton with her family. Valdamar was travelling between Athelred’s palace in London and Aelfgifu’s palace in Northampton and his own castle in Gainsborough and he finally got around to inviting his father to come north and inspect the work before he planned on heading east for trade and war in the spring. So, King Sweyn packed up his household and retinue and pavilion and sailed down the River Trent to Gainsborough. But before they left, the old woman in black visited an apothecary in London and purchased a few items. When they got to Prince Valdamar’s castle in Gainsborough, Sweyn was put up in a suite there and his personal guard billeted in the great room and his women in black stayed with him in the master bedroom. While Sweyn was busy inspecting the construction of the castle with his son, the middling woman cleaned the suite, the young woman drew a bath for Sweyn and the older woman was busy cooking for Sweyn in the castle kitchen.
The great room had several bedrooms off it where his Exeyes officers stayed and two food tasters shared a room as well. The old woman was preparing concoctions in the kitchen along with the food and one of the balms was an Aesir poison and another mixture was a special antidote for the poison. Because Sweyn had food tasters, the old woman mixed the antidote into the king’s meal and she kept the poisonous balm in a little container tied around her neck. When Sweyn got back to the suite from his inspections, the young woman had his bath all drawn in the dressing room and she came out to him naked and she was showing a small bump and she displayed it for him as she undressed him in the bedroom and led him into the dressing room for his bath. The old woman returned from the kitchen and had the middling woman prepare the table in the great room for their meal. She went into the bedroom to see how things were progressing and she could hear Sweyn and the young woman focking in the dressing room as water splashed about. She went back to the kitchen and finished preparing the food and put the portions on plates and carried it all on a wooden tray to the suite. Sweyn and the young woman were at the table when she got back and she presented the food to the food tasters who ate from each item on the tray. Once it passed their inspection, she put the tray on the table and the young woman spun the tray around to look at it and put Sweyn’s portion away from him.
“This is how forestem comes stern in the great gale of the Nor’Way,” the old woman said, laughing, as she spun the tray about again. Sweyn started into his meal and quickly finished it and the antidote that was in it as well. He was in high spirits and he took two bottles of Frankish wine into the bedroom with his women in black. They undressed and sat naked upon the huge bed and drank some wine and then Sweyn got frisky with the young woman again and was soon focking her and the middling woman joined in and began riding Sweyn and then the young woman took the reins again. Sweyn was getting old and he could last a very long time, especially after the bath he’d had earlier. The old woman went off into the dressing room and she put the poison balm onto her lips and she greased herself, her honey well, with pig fat so she could go a long time and she returned to the bedroom and she took her turn upon Sweyn and she put a finger to her lips and she wiped a bit of balm across Sweyn’s eyes and when he looked up at her he could swear it was Princess Svia that was riding him, and not the older Svia of today, but the young Svia he had rescued from Count Vlad during the Battle of Ramnic and she was beautiful. The old woman leaned forward as she rode Sweyn and she got horizontal on top of him and she kissed him with her poisoned lips and Sweyn got very excited with the young Svia he thought was riding him and he flipped her onto her back and started focking her hard and fast and the old woman closed her eyes and then died from the poison, but Sweyn was possessed and kept focking her lifeless body until he exploded inside of her and he cried out, “Svia, Svia, Svia, Svia!” then collapsed on top of her and he fell unconscious and then died. The two other women realised what had just transpired and that both of them were dead upon the bed and they ran naked out into the great hall and roused the guards and the Exeyes officers and they went into the bedroom and, sure enough, the king was lying dead inside his expired concubine. They tried reviving the king, but found the two locked together in love and could not pry the king out of the old woman. They put the two bodies on their sides and began pounding on Sweyn’s back to try reviving him and the women copied them and tried reviving the old woman. The men pounded on the king’s chest to no avail and the women pounded on the chest of the older one and she coughed, weakly, and came back to life. But still they could not pry the two apart, for Sweyn had gone full Irpa inside of her and they were locked together in the passionate embrace and when they tried easing Sweyn’s large member out of the old crone, she cried out in pain. Finally, they got the two apart and the officers were astounded at the size and colour of King Sweyn’s member. It was a metal silver in colour and was the size of a Viking horse’s member.
“The king flew into a desirous rage and he began focking my mother very violently,” the middling woman told the Exeyes officers, “and then I think she died.”
“I think he focked her to death!” the one Exeyes officer said.
“And then he died focking her,” the other officer concluded. “We could only revive the woman.”
Prince Valdamar and Jarl Eirik were discussing burial arrangements for King Sweyn and Valdy stated that Sweyn would want to have his arval in Liere and have his body burned in the Aesir fashion as was his faith. “But the official report cannot state he died focking a woman to death,” the prince added.
“I quite agree,” the Jarl replied. “Perhaps it could state that he fell from his horse? That’s a common accident.”
“He fell from his horse and landed on his sword,” Valdy said. “That will keep the Aesir happy.”
“We’ll have to preserve his body,” Eirik said, “if we’re going to ship it to Denmark and then have it presentable for burning.”
“I still find it suspicious that he would fly into a fit of lust focking that old crone. The young girl perhaps, but he called the old one ‘Lady Dryasdust’. And the girl said he cried out ‘Svia!’ four times before he collapsed on top of her. Princess Svia is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Why would he call out her name while focking that!”
“I brought the witch, Hallveig, from Hell with me,” Eirik said. “I was going to have her preserve Sweyn’s body. Maybe there is something else she can do for us.”
The women in black were being held under lock and key in the master bedroom of Sweyn’s suite and his body was lying in state in the great room on the table. The witch, Hallveig, came into the room at midnight, burning incense and sprinkling water as she came. Prince Valdamar and Jarl Eirik were already sitting at the table on either side of Sweyn and Hallveig sat down next to his head and she cut runes into a stick and she opened Sweyn’s mouth and put the stick under his tongue. “Hold his hands,” she instructed the men, and Valdy and Eirik each clasped a hand between the two of theirs. Hallveig recited an Aesir prayer and Sweyn’s eyes opened and stared bluely up at the ceiling and his hands twitched slightly and Valdy and Eirik looked at each other.
“How did you die my king?” Hallveig asked and Sweyn mumbled as though talking with a stick in his mouth. Then Hallveig said, “He says he was poisoned by the old crone. She had poison on her lipstick. She also died from the poison, but Sweyn injected her with the antidote when he came inside her. That is why she could be revived. She put the antidote in his food, but the antidote has to be taken after the poison for it to work.”
“I’ll have her executed!” Valdamar cursed. “Were the other two involved?”
Hallveig asked the corpse the question. “He says they weren’t, but he doesn’t want her killed.” Hallveig listened as the corpse mumbled some more and then she sat back in her chair and she blinked. “He wants you to be king of England and build a tower in London and keep them locked up in it as your concubines. He wants you to make love to the young one, fock the middle one, and hard fock the old one, ‘Lady Dryasdust’, until she confesses that it was King Athelred that put her up to this. Then fock her to death! She is the one who killed Queen Gunhild and Thora and the men in Ipswich on Athelred’s orders during the Saint Brice’s Day Massacre. That is what King Sweyn has said and that is what he wants,” Hallveig said. “He also had one last request from both of you, a hard one,” and she discussed the request with Valdy and Eirik. She took the runestick out of Sweyn’s mouth, closed his eyes with her hand and she kissed his forehead gently. The next day, she preserved his body.
A few days later, a small warfleet sailed down the River Trent led by Prince Valdamar and Jarl Eirik and they carried the body of King Sweyn out of the Humber estuary and east to Denmark. Commander Gudmund and Jarl Sigvald ruled in London while they were gone, but the main part of the army remained in the castle in Gainsborough. Valdamar and Eirik spent a week in Liere burying their king as the great merchant fleet began assembling in Roskilde Harbour. Prince Valdamar realized he would have to sail with the merchant fleet to Baghdad in the place of his father. It was decided that Jarl Eirik would organize the army in England while Valdamar was away. But they both headed back together to Gainsborough to move the army into the different areas of the country. When they got back, they found that Commander Gudmund and Jarl Sigvald had fled London with their troops. “Duke Richard of Normandy has brought a warfleet up the Thames to London and is claiming England for King Athelred,” Sigvald said.
“He has two legions of foot and two of cataphracts,” Gudmund added. “We had to make a strategic withdrawal from London.”
“Jarl Thorkell and his Christian Jomsvikings are in London as well,” Sigvald said, “but King Athelred is still back in Normandy, where it is safe. Queen Emma has brought her son, Edward, King Athelred’s son, with her and has convinced the London fyrds to join them. She says King Athelred will forgive all when he returns as king, and rule in a gentlemanly fashion, so, now all the fyrds of England are joining them.”
“Half our forces have returned to Denmark and to Hraes’,” Valdamar complained. “We’ll have to withdraw and come back in full force next year. Duke Richard can’t afford to keep four legions in England forever.”
Messengers were sent to the Isle of Wight to mobilise the two legions there for withdrawal and to meet the main army at Sandwich. Then Valdamar and Eirik gathered up their two legions in Gainsborough and York and he sent for his wife, Princess Aelfgifu, and her family to come from Northampton and the armada sailed down the Trent for Sandwich. They stopped at Ipswich and Jarl Eirik sent Princess Gyda and the Children off to Lade, but he told her Sweyn’s two oldest sons were of age to join the army and that all hands would be needed for the withdrawal. In the harbour of Sandwich the fleets were joined up and provisioned. Jarl Sigvald told Valdamar that he would join his Jomsvikings in Canterbury and they would hold the city walls for a year until he got back with a large army. Prince Valdamar took all the hostages that they had collected from the English out on the beach of Sandwich and he maimed them and then set up a horse head scorn pole pointed toward London and the witch, Hallveig put a curse upon the land until their return, then the warfleet sailed east to Denmark.
“Care to join me in Baghdad?” Prince Valdamar asked Jarl Eirik.
“I’d love to,” Eirik replied. “I haven’t talked to the Caliph in a long time.”
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:
“A.D. 1014. This year King Sweyne ended his days at Candlemas,
the third day before the nones of February; and the same year
Elfwy, Bishop of York, was consecrated in London, on the festival
of St. Juliana. The fleet all chose Knute for king; whereupon
advised all the counsellors of England, clergy and laity, that
they should send after King Ethelred; saying, that no sovereign
was dearer to them than their natural lord, if he would govern
them better than he did before. Then sent the king hither his
son Edward, with his messengers; who had orders to greet all his
people, saying that he would be their faithful lord–would
better each of those things that they disliked–and that each
of the things should be forgiven which had been either done or
said against him; provided they all unanimously, without
treachery, turned to him. Then was full friendship established,
in word and in deed and in compact, on either side. And every
Danish king they proclaimed an outlaw for ever from England.
Then came King Ethelred home, in Lent, to his own people; and he
was gladly received by them all. Meanwhile, after the death of
Sweyne, sat Knute with his army in Gainsborough until Easter; and
it was agreed between him and the people of Lindsey, that they
should supply him with horses, and afterwards go out all together
and plunder. But King Ethelred with his full force came to
Lindsey before they were ready; and they plundered and burned,
and slew all the men that they could reach. Knute, the son of
Sweyne, went out with his fleet (so were the wretched people
deluded by him), and proceeded southward until he came to
Sandwich. There he landed the hostages that were given to his
father, and cut off their hands and ears and their noses.
Besides all these evils, the king ordered a tribute to the army
that lay at Greenwich, of 21,000 pounds. This year, on the eve
of St. Michael’s day, came the great sea-flood, which spread wide
over this land, and ran so far up as it never did before,
overwhelming many towns, and an innumerable multitude of people.
The Saga of Svein ‘The Old’ Ivarson
And King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’
To be Continued in
The Saga of Prince Valdamar ‘The Great’ Sveinaldson
And King Canute ‘the Great’