19.0 KING CANUTE GOES TO THE VATICAN AGAIN

Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN POINT ZERO

19.0 KING CANUTE GOES TO THE VATICAN AGAIN  (Circa 1031 AD)

 

“King Olaf’s Fall” at the Second Battle of Stiklastad  (July 29, 1030 AD) by H Egedius

  

“The night that I wrote the slain and slaying comments about King Olaf and had Prince Hraerik call him Slaint Olaf ‘the Holey’, July 3rd 2022, I discovered wounds on my right leg and lower abdomen consistent with where one would expect Olaf to have been axed and speared in the Heimskringla Saga description.  There was fresh scabbing and bleeding where there had only been clear skin before.  It gave me pause when I wanted to explore the possibility that King Olaf had been impaled by his attackers.  That matter was eventually taken up by Sir Hugh ‘de Hauteville’.  Thank you Hugh.”

                                                                                                Brian Howard Seibert

 

(1031 AD)  It didn’t take long.  King Olaf ‘the Stout’ Haraldson was slain on July 29th of 1030 AD and well before Christmas King Canute received an invitation to visit the Pope in the spring.  There were rumours that King Canute may have gone against a Papal Bull and had helped the Norwegian bondes army with the slaying of Saint Olaf ‘the Holy’.

“Slain and slaying,” Valdamar told the Prince, “are the words I like associated with Olaf, not saint or saintly.”  They had just finished their Yulefest celebrations for 1030 and had just welcomed in 1031 in London.  Duke Robert had been up as expected, visiting with Princess Estrid…focking Princess Estrid was more accurate.  They were doing it everywhere, in their rooms, in the libraries, under staircases, even under, it was rumoured, the highseats in Canute’s London palace!  “Duke Robert has just sailed off for Normandy and Estrid for Denmark,” Valdy said.  “At least I hope she’s going to Denmark.  Their wedding is in early spring and you and Queen Emma are invited.  We made sure it wouldn’t conflict with either of your merchant sailing schedules.”

“Well thank you,” Hraerik said, “and Emma thanks you as well.  Rouen in the spring!  We’ll be there!”

“Paris in the spring!” Valdy said.  “That’s where I’ll be.  After the wedding I have to head south for Vatican City.  The Pope wants my assurances that I had nothing to do with Olaf’s unsavoury, what was the term he used?  Slaying?  Slain?  I love using those words in a sentence with Olaf.”

“Saint Olaf ‘the Holey’, is good too,” Hraerik said, tracing a circular hole on his belly.

“You are a poet!” Valdamar said.  “Saint Olaf ‘the Spear Holey’ Haraldson!”

“Are you taking some witnesses with you when you see the Pope?”

“I am,” said Canute.  “Duke Robert is coming along with his new wife, my daughter Estrid.  They are honey welling, I mean honey mooning, but honey welling is more accurate, in Rome and then Apulia.  We are taking Captain Hugh ‘de Hauteville’ with us and he is going to tell the Pope that it was he, on his own initiative, that had taken Norman knights to Trondheim to fight the Roman Emperor’s Varangian Guard in Norway after it had disengaged from them while plundering in Apulia to go help the Orthodox Christians support King Olaf in the north.  As punishment for acting without orders, Duke Robert is providing him with two regiments of Norman knights with which to fight the Byzantine Romans in southern Italy as the Pope directs them.”

“And who are you taking?” Hraerik asked, though he already had a pretty good idea.

“I’ll be taking King Malcolm’s daughters with me to be blessed by the Pope.”

“And what will you be blessing them with?”

“They want daughters this time.”  Hraerik gave his grandson a funny look.  “The girls are concerned,” Valdy explained.  “They claim their father’s allegiance to me is faltering and that he needs another display of me holding back the waters and, for that, they need daughters, born of the purple, but my kind of purple, Great Northern Empire purple!”

“I’ve heard of marrying off daughters to build alliances,” the Prince protested, “but seeding your own daughters into the daughters of your allies?  That’s a new one for me, that’s all.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea?” Valdy asked.  “I’m only asking, because you thought my idea of marrying a Porphyrogennetos princess to bring the throne of Rome with me wherever I went was a great idea, and it’s never quite worked out the way I thought it would.  My Porphyrogennetos Prince sons all think they’re too good for me and poor Estrid was being used as a breeding sow by that pig, Duke Richard.  So, if you think my Scottish plan is a good idea too, I won’t do it.”

“Well, go ahead and do it, because I think it’s a very bad idea that has so many ways of blowing up on you, that it just might work and, if it doesn’t, at least you’ve had a fine time with Malcolm’s beautiful young daughters and, at our age, there’s something to be said about that!”

Valdy smiled and thanked his grandfather.  It was heart-warming to have a two hundred year old man call you old in the context that he had meant.  He’d always said to take care of oneself because there was no retirement program for kings and princes.  Very few of them ever lived that long and the few that did, always seemed to end up with the byname ‘the Victorious’, because that’s what it took to live long as a king or prince…to always be victorious in battle.  King Olaf learned that the hard way…dead at thirty five.  And his son, Magnus, would fare no better.  And his half-brother, Harald, would find his own Battle of Stiklastad to die at.  Valdy laughed at himself, waxing wise as if he had visions like his grandfather.  He shook his head.  He had just turned sixty and for a prince and then a king, that was quite an achievement.  Forty six years as the Grand Prince of Hraes’ and the last fourteen years as the King of England.  All further time was bonus time.  His father, Sweyn, had died an elderly man, over seventy years old!  And he had died focking!

Emma knew something was bothering Hraerik all winter and she tried to get him to tell her about it, but he wouldn’t.  She learned from members of the Prince’s Centuriata that Hraerik had been required to use witchcraft  to save Witch Hallveig after the Battle of Stiklastad and it had bothered him, that’s all they knew.  One night, when they were in bed, Hraerik told her that Witch Hallveig was coming to Southampton, that she was pregnant and afraid and wanted to have her babies here.

“Babies?” Emma said.  “As in more than one?  Are they yours?”

“I’m not sure,” Hraerik told her.  “The twins might be mine, but I don’t see how.”

Then he told her about the shit-show that had happened after the slaying of King Olaf at the battle.  “Witch Hallveig knew she would have to call upon the goddess Irpa to help the bondes army defeat Jarl Olaf, so she had left her two Skioldung sons back in York, in case Irpa would want them for a sacrifice.  She was right.  But Irpa agreed to settle for the body, the corpse, of Jarl Olaf instead.  The goddess didn’t want Olaf sainted any more than her Aesir followers did.  So, Hallveig called upon Irpa to help in the fight against Olaf’s Varangian Guard and Irpa used a shower of arrows to clear a path right through the Guard for the bonde army to pass through and kill Olaf.  And that they did, but after the battle, Jarl Olaf’s body disappeared.  Nobody knew where it went.  So, Goddess Irpa got angry and put Witch Hallveig into a coma and gave the Norwegians three days to come up with the body or Hallveig would die in that coma.  The spirit of Hallveig left her body and asked me for help.”

“But you would have been in India,” Emma said.  “Her spirit contacted you all the way in India?”

“She couldn’t.  So, she contacted Witch Nado in Chernigov and Nado contacted Witch Nadege who was with me in India studying Brahman witchcraft.  They set up an intervention in which I would play a large part.  Nadege and I used the Zombie drug and had sex and my spirit flew to Chernigov and I had sex with Witch Nado and that allowed me to fly to Stiklastad and I had sex with Goddess Irpa and Witch Hallveig.  When I flowed within Witch Hallveig, Irpa made it so that two boys were conceived, I don’t know how, but she did it.  Then she woke Witch Hallveig from the coma and told her that she would accept the two boys in lieu of the body of Jarl Olaf and Hallveig had to agree or she would have died the next day.”

“That’s focked up,” Emma said.

“I know,” he agreed.  “And now Hallveig is afraid and wants to have her babies here.”

“Goddess Irpa’s not going to attack us here, is she?”

“No.  But Hallveig doesn’t know when Irpa will be taking her sacrifice.  It could be right after the birth or it could be years from now.  She doesn’t know and that’s why she’s afraid.  She needs our help.”

“Well, of course, she’s got it,” Emma said.  “Anything we can do for her will be done.”

“Thanks,” Hraerik said, laying back and relaxing.

“Is that why you’re so hard now?” Emma asked.  “Riding you lately has been like riding a pole.  It’s like full Irpa plus!”

“I know.  You should have seen it when I was with Goddess Irpa.  My lingam was as big as my forearm and Irpa took it all in.  I couldn’t believe it.  We hard focked for what seemed hours before Irpa had me take Hallveig.”

“What was it like?  Focking a goddess?”

“It was wild!  She was going crazy!  And I entered her spirit and experienced what she was feeling and it was so intense I didn’t want to leave her spirit but she forced me back into mine, which was pretty intense as well!”

“And Hallveig?”

“That was a real shit-show,” Hraerik repeated.  “Her Jomsvikings had erected her pavilion on the top of her hill at Stiklastad and she was in a coma on her camp bed and Irpa blew the blanket off her naked body and it flew across the tent and Hallveig was like her usual goddess self, but unconscious and I forced my way into her metalled body with my lingam as big as an arm and she couldn’t take half of it and her honey well opened up so wide I thought it was going to tear open and her men couldn’t see me but they could see her being forced open and they freaked.  They didn’t know if she was being raped or whot the fock was going on so they were drawing swords and their captain had to settle them down and send most of them out of the pavilion.  As I was hard-focking Hallveig she came out of her coma and began screaming in pain and I began flowing inside her and the more she screamed the more I flowed.  It was like a river pouring out of her and her five Jomsvikings watched in disbelief.  Then she started coming and she wrapped her legs around me and her Vikings could see that there was a man there by the way her legs wrapped and that freaked them out even more.  When Irpa was sure that two boys had been conceived, I was suddenly back in Mumba focking Witch Nadege who was dead and I flowed inside her and then I died.  She kissed me and woke me and I told her what had happened and she couldn’t believe it.

“So many different new things had occurred during that one session of witchcraft that Nadege said she wouldn’t even know how to start studying up on what had just happened.  And now Witch Hallveig is coming here.”

“I can see why she’s so afraid,” Emma said.

“I think I wrecked her for life,” Hraerik confessed.

In early spring, King Canute and his retinue left Winchester for Southampton and he joined Prince Hraerik and Queen Emma there and they sailed across the English Channel and up the Seine River to Rouen.  His daughter, Princess Estrid, had already arrived with his wife, Princess Aelfgifu, from Denmark and they all stayed together in the east wing of Duke Robert’s palace.  Canute greeted Duchess Herleva, Robert’s concubine wife, and little William ‘the Bastard’ had grown a little since they had last met on Wight.  Valdamar soon surmised that the duke intended to maintain his relationship with Herleva even as he married Princess Estrid and he had expected that his daughter would object to that encumbrance, but she was in love and she told her father that everything would work out for the best.

“No good will come of this,” Valdy told Aelfgifu as they spent time together in the east wing master suite.  “Estrid is fine with the arrangement now, while in fiery love with Robert, but I know her and I know the pride all my children by Anna take in the born of the purple blood.  She will not want to share her husband with a thrall once the passion has cooled somewhat.”

“She’s not a thrall,” Aelfgifu corrected him, “she’s freeborn and very pretty.”

“Yes, but of such uncommonly common station that Duke Robert can’t marry her without giving up his own royal station.  I know these things.  My mother was a handmaiden when she married Sweyn and my Porphyrogennetos children never ever let me forget that, even though her father was a prince of the Slavs and her mother was a Swedish princess.”

“And Prince Mal gave you your little ‘Pink Monster’,” Aelfgifu said as she began stroking his lingam to get it hard again.  “I thank him in my prayers for that little gift he bestowed upon you.  Now if I could just get it up!” and she shook the thing in her hand and it grew as it flexed back and forth and soon she took it in her mouth and savoured it.

King Malcolm’s daughters had been invited to the wedding as representatives of Scotland, but their presence in Rouen was official business and they planned to hook up with King Canute in Paris.  Jarl Ivar ‘the White’ of Canute’s retinue travelled once more with his king and made all the arrangements for a two week stay in the Frankish capital, the ‘City of Lanterns’, and he had booked the whole of Queen Emma’s Hraes’ Hostel next to her Paris Hraes’ Store.  Ivar set up tours of Paris and the surrounding estates for all the young royal princesses that awaited the blessing of King Canute and his Great Northern Empire blood.

Once more, King Canute had several chests of gold with him and he made donations at all churches along the way to Paris.  The monasteries along the way remembered the generous progress south that the English king had made a few years earlier and were queued up as Canute passed by at a leisurely pace.  The inns along the way also remembered the king’s generosity and the young local women flocked to gain the king’s attention.  Canute again slept most nights with a recently deflowered young virgin under each arm, as they made numerous stops along the short trip to the city.  They briefly visited Emma’s Hraes’ Store in Paris and then went next door to their Hraes’ Hostel lodgings in Paris.

Princesses Beatrice, Donalda and Olith were waiting for Canute when he entered the bridal suite of the hostel and they all vied for first sex with him, but Valdamar knew they wanted daughters, so he reminded them of the Aesir rule:

“Wait fourteen days once the period’s done,

 Fock for three and you’ll have a son,

 Fock any other days in between

 And you’ll be raising a little queen.”

The women went through the times of their periods and both Beatrice and Olith were good to go, so Valdy took them both to bed for the next several nights and then Donalda joined them.  King Canute managed to squeeze a few other princesses into his tight schedule, for he also wanted to see a few of the sites about the city.  And he wanted to see the lanterns at night, but he was a little disappointed.  There were more torches than lanterns and the ‘City of Lanterns’ was not on par with the night lights of Constantinople.  The Romans had access to the naphthas of the Middle East, which often flowed freely out of the ground, and had developed lanterns that used silk meshes and earth metals and glowed white and gave off a very white light.  Valdamar was hoping to see something similar in Paris, but there was nothing being employed in the ‘City of Lanterns’ than had been in use in Kiev in his youth.  His grandfather, Prince Hraerik had often told him about the House of Lanterns in Constantinople that had stolen some secrets from the Alchemists’ Guild for their bright lanterns.  But there were others who had said that the House of Lanterns was the Guild.

When the three daughters of King Malcolm started showing signs of their pregnancies, King Canute decided it was time for the royal retinue to leave Paris.  King Canute visited King Robert ‘the Second’, King of the Franks, for the last time and then they quit the ‘City of Lanterns.  

Witch Hallveig arrived in her longship at the main quay of Southampton and both Hraerik and Emma were there to greet her.  She was big for seven months and Emma could see she was carrying twins.  They put her up in a master suite in Emma’s palace and the slaves and servants doted over the witch, half out of respect and half out of fear.  She planned to stay a few months, but was there a couple of weeks when she went into early labour.  Healers were called and a midwife arrived just in case it wasn’t false labour.  But the midwife soon indicated that it appeared to be the real thing and that it was too early to be a safe delivery.

Things were progressing too quickly and two healers held up Hallveig’s legs at the end of her bed as the midwife sat on a stool in front of her and Hraerik and Emma watched from the side.  “She’s crowning,” the midwife said as she took the head and pulled the baby free of Hallveig.  It was a boy and was hairless and bright white and barely moved.  The arms and legs fell about loosely and the midwife said, “He has no bones!”  Hraerik cut the cord and she put the baby on Hallveig’s metalled chest and the baby took a breast and the midwife returned to her work.  She pulled another boy free and it was the same thing.  “This one’s boneless as well,” she said in distress.  Hraerik cut the cord and she cleaned it up and put it at Hallveig’s other breast, but the babies wouldn’t suck and within minutes of each other they died.  Then Hallveig’s metalled body turned to flesh, aged flesh, and Hraerik looked up at her and she was suddenly quite old.  The goddess Irpa had taken her sacrifices and had terminated her relationship with Witch Hallveig that went back decades into the early reign of Jarl Haakon Sigurdsson.

King Canute and his retinue sailed on up the Seine and visited with young royals in Troyes and Dijon before being portaged across to the River Rhone and visiting more young royals in Lyon and Marseille, and the daughters of King Malcolm were by now throwing up often and welcomed the assistance the young princesses along the way were providing in the satisfaction of their profligate king.  And the young royal women that were being blessed with the blood of Great Northern Empire purple were also being blessed by English gold.

Leaving Marseilles, the small fleet sailed down the coast of Italy, leisurely stopping at Hraes’ Hostels all along the route to Rome.  Pope John ‘the Nineteenth’ had taken King Canute’s complaint about the lack of safe hospices and hostels along the route to Rome seriously and had helped Queen Emma finance a chain of Hraes’ Hostels from Normandy to Rome and then into Southern Italy and even into Islamic Sicily.  By taking advantage of such opportunities, Queen Emma had progressed from being the wealthiest woman in England to, possibly being, the wealthiest woman in the known world.  However, the Hraes’ Hostel in Rome was a bit of a disappointment.  The city itself had been allowed to run down.  Defensive walls were in disrepair and aqueducts were down, so security and services were lacking.  The hostel itself had been located in an old Roman mansion and had been renovated to acceptable levels, but the water was bad and the food suspect.  Wine was sipped instead and Canute’s personal chef cooked food for the entire retinue.

Vatican City was in much better shape than Rome was, and the tithes paid to the Latin church helped pay for the local splendour.  “I am so glad to see you,” the Pope welcomed Canute in Latin, “and I greet and bless your entire retinue.”

“We thank you for your welcome and your blessing,” Valdamar replied.

“Your Latin is still excellent!” Pope John told the king.

Canute then introduced his retinue to the Pope, Duke Robert and his new wife Estrid and the three daughters of King Malcolm of Scotland and Queen Gunnora of Normandy, Princesses Beatrice, Donalda and Olith and then Sir Hugh ‘de Hauteville’, Knight of Normandy, and they got down to business.

“At our last meeting,” the Pope continued in Latin, “I gave you permission to wrest Norway from King Olaf on condition that you spare his life and now I have received requests from certain parties in Norway to have the dead King Olaf sainted.  I have also been informed that there were Norman knights present at the Battle of Stiklastad where King Olaf was slain.  I believe your wife, Queen Emma, is Norman and I would like your assurances that you were in no way a part of the death of the Norwegian king.”

“I can assure you,” Valdamar said, switching to Gaulish French, which he knew the Pope was fluent in, “that I was not involved and that the Norman knights were only in Norway to fight the Roman Emperor’s Varangian Guard knights that King Olaf led north into Norway with him.  The Varangian Guard knights had just fought and pillaged in Apulia, Southern Italy, against the Norman cataphract legion there and the Normans sent a message to their fellow legionary regiment in Rouen that the Guardsmen were on their way to Norway.  Sir Hugh took up the calling on his own and snuck his knights out of Normandy to Norway dressed as a peasant army and, at the Battle of Stiklastad, the Norman knights fought only the Varangian Guard and had nothing to do with the death of King Olaf.  The bondes army of the people of Norway killed King Olaf.  And I call on Sir Hugh to bear witness to my testimony.”

“Is this all true?” Pope John asked Sir Hugh in Frankish.

“It is all true, my Pope,” Hugh ‘de Hauteville’ told the Pope while standing at attention.  “I was at the Battle of Stiklastad and personally witnessed the death of King Olaf.”

“Please relax,” Pope John told him.  He was intrigued by the witness.  So often the evidence he heard of battles was second hand or worse.  To have someone who was there and had personally witnessed an event of this importance was truly rare.  “Please relate to me the exact circumstances of King Olaf’s death and try to keep it just about Olaf’s death.  We are considering him for sainthood.”

“I had one cohort, five hundred knights, against a full regiment of two thousand Varangian Guardsmen who made up the vanguard of King Olaf’s forces, but I consider one Latin Christian Norman knight to be worth four Orthodox Christian Varangian knights, so this was considered a fair fight.  My knights formed up in a wedge against the Varangian rectangle and we penetrated through their middle and allowed the jarls and hearses of the Norwegian bondes army to attack King Olaf and his personal retinue.  King Olaf led his men and fought bravely against the jarls and slew many of them himself, but one berserk clove Olaf in his right leg, just under his shield, and the king went down.  His men rushed to his aid and killed the berserk and surrounded him and King Olaf was helped back to a great flat stone from which I heard he had given a great speech before the battle.  That is how far back my Norman knights had driven the Varangians.

“King Olaf was lying upon the stone and had lost a lot of blood, but I don’t consider the blow to have been his death stroke.  I fought on with my men against the Guardsmen while the leaders of the bondesmen fought against Olaf’s retinue and some of them broke through and a few jarls fought their way to the stone and one of them slipped a spear up under King Olaf’s chainmail armour and he prodded around for an opening of sorts and when he found it, he thrust his spear deeply into King Olaf.  I think he impaled him your holiness”, and Hugh could see that the Pope grew quite pale at the telling.  “The Aesir pagans,” Hugh began by way of explanation, “follow the same religion as the ancient Roman Vanir, and impalement is the old Roman punishment for treason and the jarls felt that King Olaf had been treasonous to Norway by abandoning them and going to Constantinople for Orthodox Christian aid.”  The Pope nodded in understanding.

“The jarl who had impaled King Olaf was in a rage because the king had killed many of his relatives and he would shake the spear he had thrust within King Olaf and the king would cry out in pain and it was apparent that he was dying.  The jarl leader of the bondes army tried to stop the berserk jarl from tormenting the king, but he was in a rage and could not be stopped, so the leader took his sword and gave King Olaf a mercy stroke on his neck to end his suffering.  I consider the spear thrust to be the fatal stroke, for nobody survives an impaling.  Once the king was dead, the Varangian Guardsmen fled and they led the personal retinue and the king’s young brother back to the east through Hraes’.”

The Pope was very pale and shaking at this news.  He realised then that there was something to be said about second hand recitations of events.  Once he had calmed a little, he asked Sir Hugh, “I have had reports that there was witchcraft used by the bondes army and its leaders.  I’ve been told that the sky grew dark and stormy and that witches were seen flying about causing havoc.  From my experience, whenever there are reports of a sky growing dark during our battles with pagans, witchcraft is always involved.”

“Good Norman Latin Christians do not believe in witchcraft,” Sir Hugh qualified, “and I saw no darkness during the battle.  Some might have, but fear can sometimes play tricks, and Norman knights know no fear.  I have brought two regiments of Norman knights to serve you in Apulia and I hope to be allowed to prove this to you.”

Duke Robert stepped in now.  “We have news that the Varangian Guard regiment, what was left of it, made it back to Constantinople and is being reinforced for another attack in Southern Italy, your Holiness.  I hope you will accept my generosity in this matter and give Sir Hugh ‘de Hauteville’ the opportunity to make reparations.  I wanted to punish Sir Hugh for borrowing my legionnaires, but, perhaps he shall die in battle instead.”

“I shall accept your offer,” Pope John ‘the Nineteenth’ replied, “and with God’s grace he will not die in battle.  We need more such Swords of Christ,” the Pope added.  “So many more.”  The Pope then had King Canute line up his retinue and the Pope personally blessed each of them.  Then he took Canute aside and told him that he would likely be sainting King Olaf for the good of the Latin Christian church.  He also said he was glad that any darkening of sky was likely caused by fear rather than witchcraft, because an eclipse had occurred a month after the battle and was already being attached to the sky darkening during the battle.

‘The race is on,’ Valdy told himself.  His grandfather had told him that the Latin and Orthodox branches would be contesting the sanctity of Olaf and would be likely sainting him quickly and for free.

Sir Hugh ‘de Hauteville’ soon led his Norman knights south to Apulia, but Princess Estrid wanted to stay in Rome a little longer before going south with her new husband.  Valdamar didn’t mind.  Rome was full of beautiful and pretentious princesses who wished to be blessed by greater royalty.

In its rundown condition, Rome could hardly be called the ‘Eternal City’, but it did have a secret byname that was protected by the followers of the goddess Angerona, who was the goddess of silence.  There was a statue of her at Volupia which showed her with her mouth stitched up.  The name was so secret, that no one was allowed to say it, not even in rituals for Angerona.  A poet called Quintus Valerius Soranus had let slip the byname in a poem about the ‘Sacred City’ and he was arrested by the Senate to be crucified, but escaped and fled to Sicily, where he was seized by the governor and executed by impalement.

Every married Roman had at least one mistress and, unknown to them, their wives had at least one lover, often their priest, and musicians and poets were everywhere and night clubs proliferated.  Rome had an exciting and sensuous night life.  It seemed as though the Romans were still practicing their ancient Vanir religion, for Roman women were as bountiful as Danish women had ever been.  And there was a new dance in Rome that had come up from Spain and it was called the Flamenco Tango and Estrid went out of her way to teach it to her father and her new husband.  But they spent a little too much time in Rome.  One of Queen Emma’s Gyrfalcon ships came from Paris to Rouen with the news that King Robert of Frankia was dead.  Duke Robert knew he would be needed in Normandy in case the transition of power took a wrong turn.  He passed the notice to Valdamar:

“King Robert ‘the Second’ has died on July 20th, 1031, at his residence in Melun of an overwhelming fever.  Long live the king!

Sometime before his most holy death, which happened on 20 July, on the day of the death of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the sun, like the last quarter of the moon, veiled its rays to everyone, and appeared at the sixth hour of the day, turning pale above the heads of men, the sight of which was so obscured, that they remained without recognizing each other until the moment to see was returned.

Helgaud of Fleury, Epitoma vitæ regis Roberti pii”

Duke Robert and Princess Estrid took a security detail and the Gyrfalcon back to Rouen, but King Canute wasn’t in as much of a hurry.  King Malcolm’s three beautiful young daughters were over the vomiting stage of pregnancy and were in the affectionate stage and Valdy wanted to enjoy that stage while taking his time sailing north.  Besides, Bernice, Donalda and Olith had learned the Flamenco Tango with Valdamar and were excited about taking it back to Paris with them and teaching it to the friends they had made a few months earlier.  Canute doubted very much if he would ever be called to Rome by the Pope again, so he wanted to enjoy a last Tango in Paris.

Soon after, Prince Hraerik was also heading back north, but from Mumba and Baghdad and Constantinople.  He had visited his grandsons, Princes Ivaraslav and Mstislav on his way south and had planted the idea in their heads that the war King Mieszko of Poland was fighting with King Conrad of the Holy Roman Empire provided an opportunity for them to work together and retake the Polish cities they had lost to King Boleslaw in 1018, when the Kievan Hraes’ people were called ‘Swift Danes’ and ‘Runaway Slavs’ by Chronicler and Warrior Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg.  So much had come to light about the Christianizing efforts of both the Orthodox Christians of the Greek Romans and the Latin Christians of the Holy Romans that Prince Hraerik did not regret its happening, but now was the time to put things back right.  His grandsons had agreed, so he wanted to see how effective their cooperation had been and if it had brought the two of them back together again.

When the great merchant fleet arrived in Kiev, the Prince was happy to learn that Prince Ivaraslav had relocated his highseats to King Frodi’s old palace in the city.  The two princes had campaigned together well and had recovered all their lost Polish lands and towns.  They agreed to share the new scat from the old territories and also took many Poles prisoner, allowed them ransoms and, those that could ransom themselves were allowed to settle along the Ros River, but those who could not were entered into the slave schools of Kiev for training over winter and eventual sale in Constantinople and Baghdad in the spring.  They both thanked Prince Hraerik for his suggestion.  Business had been good for everybody.

Princess Ingigerd had preferred Novgorod because it kept her closer to Sweden, but Kiev was larger, more cosmopolitan and had an international complexion about it.  She was happy to be wherever her husband, Ivar, was.  The Prince stopped off in Chernigov as well and found Prince Mstislav and Princess Nado both happy with the current changes.  The Prince left Witch Nadege with the couple because the young woman wanted to study more Alan Aran witchcraft with Witch Nado.  She had accompanied Hraerik to India to study Brahman witchcraft in Ashaval and Mumba but did not want to stay and study alone in India because she did not like the way they treated their women there.

On his way back to England, Hraerik visited his grandson Svein, son of Princess Estrid, in Sweden, where he was living in the personal retinue of King Anund Jakob.  Princess Ingigerd was worried about him because his mother was now living in Rouen instead of Roskilde.  The Young boy was growing up strong and Anund was raising him to be a true Viking king.  The Prince carried on to Roskilde Harbour and collected tithes from the great merchant fleet before releasing it and then sailed off to Southampton with his personal merchant fleet.  Queen Emma told him that King Canute was still in Paris with the daughters of King Malcolm and everyone was growing concerned, especially his daughter, Princess Estrid, and Duke Robert in Rouen.

Paris in the fall was lovely.  Bernice, Donalda and Olith were all well into their pregnancies by then, but were still having a fine time with their favourite king in the ‘City of Lanterns’.  The night clubs concept of Rome had migrated to Paris and King Canute had brought some Flamenco musicians and dancers north with him and they were busy introducing the Flamenco Tango into several of the clubs in the city.  Malcolm’s daughters would come and watch Valdamar dance the Tango with the many young royal beauties that were vying for his royal ‘born of the purple’ blessing, for the rumour that he carried the blood of the Caesars persisted and it was hard to deny it when the rumour brought so many beautiful young virgins before him wishing to be blessed.  One night, Valdamar had so many bevies in bed with him that he ran out of lubricating oils and had to ring up room service for a pound of freshly churned butter.

The three pregnant daughters had planned to overwinter in Rouen to have their babies amongst their relatives in the city.  Their mother, Gunnora, was a Danish princess from Rouen who had met and married King Malcolm in the city while he was on a pilgrimage to the Vatican and the Scots had maintained close relations with the Normans ever since.  Princesses Bernice, Donalda and Olith had married their respective Jarls of Scotland and had had children by them, but these daughters would be raised in Rouen and used for further Scottish alliances with the continent.  Their royal ties with both Canute and Malcolm would be duly recorded and would also serve to bind Canute and Malcolm into a stronger alliance between themselves, having shared more and more blood together.

When King Canute dropped the girls off in Rouen, he visited with Princess Estrid and Duke Robert and had to admit he had never seen such wedded bliss as was theirs.  Even Duchess Herleva and little William ‘the Bastard’ seemed to fit in well with the royal couple and they kept their distance and place.  Soon Valdamar was back in Southampton sharing tales of his trip with his grandfather and the tales were so similar to what the Prince had experienced in India, that it seemed as if the Jat custom of having pre-marital aged daughters blessed by Aesir princes had been transported, somehow, to Frankia and Italy.  The tales were not what one might expect from men the ages of Canute and his grandfather, but Valdamar had been blessed by the stamina of Prince Mal and Hraerik had been preserved by the Alchemist Guild’s elusive Elixir of Life.

 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

A.D. 1031.  This year returned King Knute; and as soon as he came

to England he gave to Christ’s church in Canterbury the haven of

Sandwich, and all the rights that arise therefrom, on either side

of the haven; so that when the tide is highest and fullest, and

there be a ship floating as near the land as possible, and there

be a man standing upon the ship with a taper-axe in his hand,

whithersoever the large taper-axe might be thrown out of the

ship, throughout all that land the ministers of Christ’s church

should enjoy their rights.  This year went King Knute to Rome;

and the same year, as soon as he returned home, he went to

Scotland; and Malcolm, king of the Scots, submitted to him, and

became his man, with two other kings, Macbeth and Jehmar; but he

held his allegiance a little while only.  Robert, Earl of

Normandy, (would soon go) went this year to Jerusalem, where he died; and

William, who was afterwards King of England, succeeded to the

earldom, though he was a child.

 

The Prince Hraerik’s New Chronicle of the Hraes’ for the year read:

(1031 AD). Ivaraslav and Mstislav collected a large force and

marched into Poland. They recaptured the cities of Cherven, and

ravaged the Polish countryside. They also captured many Poles and

distributed them as colonists in various districts. Ivaraslav located his

captives along the Ros River.