9.0 KING CANUTE SAVES PRINCESS ESTRID

Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

 

CHAPTER NINE POINT ZERO

9.0 KING CANUTE SAVES PRINCESS ESTRID (Circa 1021 AD)

 

Princes Mstislav and Rededya Wrestling By Nicholas Roerich (1943)

 

(1021)  When Prince Hraerik had asked Duke Richard for the hand of his sister, Queen Emma, in 1017, the duke requested the hand of King Canute’s daughter, Princess Estrid, the eldest daughter of Princess Anna Porphyrogennetos, and also born of the purple blood of the Roman Emperors.  The young princess was very fertile and had provided the older duke with a number of children, but it was not out of love, which Estrid had hoped for, but out of due diligence and a once a month intercourse routine that was timed by the duke’s witch healer, who tested Estrid for peak fertility before giving the duke the go ahead.  They spent one night together per month until she was pregnant again and then she wouldn’t see him for ten months.  He spent the rest of his time with his first wife, with whom he was fervently in love and Estrid put the two together and realized that she was but a concubine contracted to produce babies born of the purple for European royalty and Norman alliances.  Beyond the one night a month when she wasn’t already pregnant, Duke Richard treated Princess Estrid with total indifference and, perhaps, even a touch of cruelty.

The marriage with Duke Richard was not a loving relationship, and Estrid passed her feelings, via handmaidens, back to Kiev and her brother, Prince Ivaraslav, and he passed the messages on to Prince Hraerik whenever he would lead the merchant fleet through Kiev.  Because the Prince had spent the last trading season in the Newfoundland, he had asked Queen Emma to look in on Princess Estrid once in a while whilst he was gone.  Emma had promised her husband to do it and when she did just that she was mortified at the cold treatment being shown the young princess, having, herself, gone through a cold relationship with her first husband, King Athelred.  Like all modern princesses, Emma had been raised on dreams of romance and had followed all the tales of romance between Tristan and Isolde and the Viking and the Nun and others and had hoped and prayed for such a love someday, but she had been married off by her brother into an English alliance and now she learned that her brother had married Princess Estrid to garner daughters for further royal alliances and the discovery sickened her.

When her Prince returned from the Newfoundland, she told him about what she had learned while he was there and they met with King Canute to discuss what was to be done about it.  Valdamar was very upset by the news and a little hurt that his daughter had not come to him for help, but had gone to her brother, Ivaraslav, in Kiev instead.  But then he realised that it was he, himself, who had given Estrid to Duke Richard in exchange for the hand of Queen Emma, and Estrid had never been told that he had only done it because Queen Emma and Prince Hraerik were in love and it was the only way they could be secretly married.  Over Yulefest, while King Canute and Queen Emma were busy officiating the Christmas festivities in London,  Prince Hraerik and Princess Aelfgifu went to Rouen to see what could be done about Princess Estrid and her children.  The princess would not leave the duke without her children, and they all knew that the duke would not give up his Porphyrogennetos babies without a fight.  The situation was further complicated by the fact that Queen Emma’s children by King Athelred were now being raised in Rouen for their own safety, as the children of Athelred tended to die if they strayed too close to England’s present king.  Their safety in Rouen might be jeopardized by an attack upon the Duke of Normandy by the King of England.

When Prince Hraerik and Princess Aelfgifu returned to Southampton, King Canute and Queen Emma were there waiting for them.  And when Valdamar heard what had been happening to his daughter, he flew into a rage and ordered preparations for war.  He mobilized the legion, ten thousand men, that were sitting on the Isle of Wight and supplies were ferried across the strait to the Viking harbour on Wight and the legionary fleet was prepared to sail the next day.  Prince Hraerik, Queen Emma and Princess Aelfgifu all begged with their king for a calmer approach, but that night, on the highseats of King Sweyn, Valdy asked his grandfather, “Are you coming with me?”

“Of course!” Hraerik shouted.  “You know it!”  And there was a rousing shout from all the officers and jarls gathered about the longhall.  Only Emma and Aelfgifu sat sullenly in silence.  They held hands across the triple highseats and worried about their husbands and their children.

The next day the fleet sailed for Normandy and that night they camped at the mouth of the Seine River.  Their longships captured and held every boat and ship and fishing vessel that had the misfortune of plying the river that evening and the knights rode out and patrolled the surrounding land so that not a solitary scream worked its way inland towards Rouen.  Surprise, total and complete, is what King Canute ordered, and that is what his men gave him.  When the fleet sailed into the river city the next afternoon, Duke Richard and a few of his officers and troops managed to ride out of Rouen with a regiment of Hraes’ cataphracts hot on their horses’ tails.  Princess Estrid and her children were found alone in the palace and Queen Emma’s sons, Edward and Alfred were there as well.  King Canute wanted to sack the city, but Prince Hraerik had words with him.

“Rouen has not been sacked since the days of King Frodi,” the Prince began, “and my brother, King Hraelauger, Duke Rollo, ruled it.  It was a Hraes’ trading center then and should not have been sacked, and it should not be sacked now.”

“Our legion deserves and expects booty,” Canute complained.

“The Hraes’ Trading Company shall reward them with a bonus.  That is all.  There is no booty for training exercises.”

“Is that what you think this is?” Valdy asked.

“When is the last time the legion has fought?”

“At the Battle of Assandun.”

“In 1016!” Hraerik added.  “I think a full mobilization training exercise has been long overdue.  Let’s pack up for Princess Estrid and her children and take them to Southampton.”

“And the boys, Edward and Alfred?” Valdy asked.

“Queen Emma will want them left here, I’m sure,” Hraerik answered.

If there was any question as to Queen Emma’s wishes, they were soon confirmed.  The two Aelfgifu’s arrived in Rouen that very evening, disembarking from Queen Emma’s longship at the main quay of the city.  The two women arrived at the palace and hugged Princess Estrid warmly and Emma took her sons into her arms and hugged them too.  “They are staying in Rouen,” Queen Emma announced, “as am I.  I’m going to wait here until my brother, Richard, returns and then I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!”

Both Prince Hraerik and King Canute knew that Queen Emma would not be dissuaded from her wish and so, the next day the Hraes’ mobile legion packed up their gear and sailed back to Southampton with Princess Estrid and her children, leaving Queen Emma and her sons to deal with the errant duke.  “We are all the children of Hraegunar Lothbrok!” she exclaimed from the main quay as the fleet sailed away.

The mobile legion returned to King Sweyn’s Viking fortress on the Isle of Wight and King Canute and his retinue stayed the night with Prince Hraerik in Queen Emma’s palace before heading off to Winchester.  The Prince began making preparations for the spring sailing to the Newfoundland, but he would not be going west with the tallships this year.  He would be sailing east, once more, to Baghdad and India.  He had to see what kind of a job Prince Mstislav had done of the eastern trade the previous year and he had to make a decision about India.  The Alchemist Guild was pretty pissed about Myia’s death and the misuse of the Zombie blowfish drug in the killing of a future Mongol Khan and Prince Hraerik’s prescient skills were not as valued as they had once been, because that very same drug was being used by the Guild to communicate with past and future Guild members in lieu of psychic chants and spirit gatherings.  Science was taking over.  Still, prescience was proven and the new drugs were scarce, so, the Prince still received his allotment of the anti-aging Elixir drug and he was even being offered a Guild wife to tie him to the sub-continent.

Queen Emma got back from Rouen just in time for the tallships sailing and the Prince hugged her warmly as they waved off the fourteen tallships that were being towed out to sea from Southampton.  “Richard was pissed?”

“Not nearly as pissed as when I got through with him,” Emma answered.  “He’ll straighten up.”

“He’s already trying to get Princess Estrid back,” Hraerik told her.  “Valdy wants to marry her to Jarl Thorkel ‘the Tall’ to bring him back into the fold so he doesn’t have to banish him for telling Jarl Olaf about the killing of his brother.”

“And what does Estrid say about it?”

“It doesn’t matter.  Jarl Thorkel refused to give up his wife, Edith.”

“Athelred’s first wife?” Emma asked, shaking her head.  “She must be pretty good in bed.”

“I’m to drop them all off in Denmark,” Hraerik said, “on my way through Roskilde with the merchant fleet.”

“And what does Princess Estrid say about that?”

“Valdy wanted me to take her all the way to Kiev.  She pleaded not to go back and settled for Roskilde.  He wants her as far away from Rouen as possible.”

When the Prince took them to Denmark, Thorkel’s brother, Ulf, was there to meet them in Roskilde.  Queen-Mother Gyritha was watching over Denmark for King Canute, but Valdamar’s jarls were watching over Gyritha for him.  The great merchant fleet made the Baltic crossing without incident, but when Hraerik led it past Polotsk he heard that Prince Bryachislav of Polotsk, son of Izyaslav, grandson of Valdamar, was off laying siege to Novgorod, and, when he stopped in at Kiev with the fleet, Prince Ivaraslav was raising an army to go relieve Novgorod.  It was a matter of Prince Valdamar just having too many wives and too many sons for any of them to get along with each other.  When the merchant fleet arrived in the Harbour of Cherson, Prince Mstislav was there to meet him and help with the tariffs and tithes.  The Prince was glad that a least one of Valdamar’s sons was more interested in trade and business than in conquest.

From Cherson, the Orthodox Christian merchants sailed for Constantinople and other points in the Eastern Roman Empire and the rest of the fleet sailed east across the Black Sea and through the river portages to Baghdad while some went further east to Cathay, following the Silk Road.  Hraerik got Prince Mstislav set up in the Caliphate and proceeded south and then east to India, following the route of Sindbad the Sailor.  He stayed in Ashaval for a week and made arrangements for the transportation to Baghdad of untouchables he had purchased there.  When he arrived in Mumba, he stayed with his wife, Mahara, and family at the estate of Myia’s parents.  Misha and Meena, the two university students Hraerik had blessed with Aesir babies were there and they both expressed their grief at the loss of Myia. 

The Prince was a little surprised when Misha asked to meet him privately the next evening, but he took her up on her offer and they had a nice date together in Mumba that wound up at her apartment by the University of Mumba.  They had sex that night and Misha told him that she wished to be his new Aesir wife and continue the work he was doing with Myia.  “I was helping Myia with her Cosmology work, with your work, and I know that the Guild has halted work on your theories, but I think I can put a team together to continue on with the work without their help or knowledge.”

“But the Guild said the mathematics required would be cost prohibitive,” Hraerik replied.

“Our team would be volunteers,” Misha explained.  “University mathematicians who would work on theorems and proofs in cells and groups.  We intend to keep costs to a minimum.”

“The Guild has offered me a new Aesir wife,” Hraerik told her.  “She is very young and beautiful and quite the mathematical genius herself.”

“How young?” Misha said, getting up on her elbow.

“She’s twelve,” Hraerik said, “and just turned marrying age, is a virgin and a prodigy.  I found it difficult to turn them down.  I’m hoping it will convince the Guild to restart research.”

“They know you,” she said.  “They just want to keep you available for your prescient powers.”

“Did Myia tell you why the Guild halted work on my theories?” he asked.

“She told me that another dimension was added, but she didn’t get a chance to tell me what it was before she…” and Misha could just mouth the word ‘died’.

“The added dimension, the fourth dimension, is time,” Hraerik told her.  “The Universe, every second, every minute, every hour of it exists.  Time doesn’t pass by.  It grows forward.  People don’t die and cease to exist.  Their existence ends at some point, but their past always exists.  And the past, and future, can be accessed.  That is how Myia died.  We were accessing the future.”

Misha’s jaw grew slack and her mouth slowly fell open.  “You were there?  In the future?”

“Yes,” Hraerik said.  “We killed a man in the future and Myia didn’t make it back.”

“She’s still there?”

“I don’t think so,” Hraerik choked.  “The body she possessed died.  She didn’t make it back to her own time and space in time.”

“That’s focked up!” Misha said.  “Poor Myia!  Is she still out there?”

“I don’t think so,” Hraerik said.  “I think her existence just ended at that point, but she still exists in the past.  I think I could even go visit with her if I did it right.”

“How did you even start on the mathematics of it?”

“We didn’t.  The Guild has a drug and we had a guide.  It’s a Zombie drug.”

“That new sex drug?” Misha asked.  “The one that’s been killing people?”

“Yes.  Death and access are connected.  Our guide was a spirit, a witch.”

“You’re scaring me, Hraerik,” Misha said.

“I know.  It’s pretty focked up, but so is talking with somebody who is two thousand years in the past and connecting them with somebody a thousand years in the future, and I’ve done that for the Guild a number of times.”

“I can only help with the math,” she began, “but this is way beyond math.  Myia never told me anything about this.”

“I made her promise me to keep it secret.  I’m not supposed to tell anybody.  That’s why I am taking the Guild up on their offer.  I want you to promise me you’ll keep my secret as well as Myia did.”

“I won’t tell a soul,” Misha swore.  “Nobody would believe me anyway.”

“Will you come to my Aesir wedding?”

“To your twelve year old virgin?”

“I want you to meet Nika.”

“Yes, I’ll come.”

Hraerik and Misha had sex again and then the Prince took his carriage back to the family estate.

When Prince Hraerik returned to Baghdad from India, he met with Prince Mstislav at the Caliph’s palace and they went through sales figures on the untouchables that the Prince had sent from Ashaval.  The increasing numbers of Indian slaves being sold in Baghdad and Constantinople still did not make up for the lost sales of Anglo-Saxon slaves that used to be taken while the Danes were at war with the English.  And Slav slaves coming out of Hraes’ were decreasing due to the fragmentation of the land into petty principalities ruled by the numerous sons of Prince Valdamar, all with princely titles and aspirations.  Competition from slavers out of Africa was increasing to make up for the shortages.  Fur sales were up though, thanks to an increasing supply from the Newfoundland.

“I’m concerned about the infighting going on between principalities,” Mstislav told the Prince while they were discussing the slave shortage.  “Prince Bryachislav attacked Novgorod and captured a lot of Ilmen Slavs, planning to sell them here in Baghdad, but Ivaraslav attacked him and took back his people.”

“Well, Ivaraslav still rules over Novgorod even though he is Grand Prince of Kiev,” Hraerik replied.  “He has to look after his people.”

“And so does each and every prince,” Mstislav said.  “It is one cause of our present shortages.  Hraes’ princes used to rule only the cities and the Slav towns would raid each other and sell us their captives for slaves.  Now, every town is ruled by a minor Hraes’ prince and they don’t raid each other, so there are fewer slaves available.  Hraes’ is becoming less a company and more of a country!  The same has happened with England and Ireland now that our father, Prince Valdamar, has become King Canute of England.  Our Hraes’ slavers no longer raid the Anglo-Saxons and Welsh, and Irish slaves decrease every year.”

“We are making up for it with increased sales in furs and silks,” Hraerik countered.

“The loss of our high quality slave sales weakens our position in the Caliphate and in Constantinople.  Mediterranean slavers are taking over prime spots and the African slavers are pushing us out of other places.  Berber slavers are even raiding in Ireland instead of Vikings!”

Mstislav had been helping run the Hraes’ trade for the last few years, but he had picked up trading very quickly and he was very astute in his summary of present problems, but the Prince sensed there was more.  “Has something happened in Tmutorokan?” Hraerik asked.

“While I’ve been attending to the Hraes’ trade, Kasogians have been raiding the southern border of our lands.  When I get back I’ll have to wage war with them,” Mstislav admitted.  “I thought I could do both, rule and trade, but it’s proving to be difficult.”

“I’ll take care of the tithes in Cherson,” Hraerik offered, “and you can sail directly to Tmutorokan and assemble your legions and attack them.”

“That’ll help,” the young prince stammered, but he seemed apprehensive.

“When I finish with the tithes and release the fleet north to Kiev, I’ll come back to Gardariki and get my legions and we’ll make short work of the Kasogians!”

Prince Mstislav smiled and accepted the offer.  The great merchant fleet soon packed up and sailed north up the Tigris River and portaged to the Araks River which branched into the Kura and they sailed up it and portaged across to the Rioni River and sailed into the Black Sea.  They sailed along the northern coast and Prince Mstislav and his fleet sailed for Tmutorokan while the rest of the fleet carried on to Cherson Harbour to declare trade and pay tithes before carrying on up the Dnieper for Kiev.  The Prince took his small Gardariki fleet back east and assembled his legions in Gardariki and joined Prince Mstislav at the southern border of Tmutorokan.  A Kasogian army soon came forth to meet them.  It was fall, a time for raiding, and the Kasogians had gathered in full force, hoping to make a great sweep into Tmutorokan for riches and slaves.

The Prince sent out scouting patrols to assess strength and disposition and he soon picked up that Mstislav was not well versed in martial arts, so the Prince held strategy and planning meetings with his generals and officers to acquaint the young prince in the politics of war.  “You’ll find that you can rely on your legionary generals and officers for help in planning,” Hraerik told the prince, “because most of them are trained in the Varangian Guard and are quite skilled in the Roman art of war.  But the Aesir art of war is still superior.  The Romans would go out to meet the Kasogians, but our scouts have ascertained that the Kasogian army consists mainly of mounted light cavalry raiders, so we will let them come to us.  There is a pass we came through, so we should withdraw to it.  We can then arrange our legions across the pass and limit their use of light horse.  They could go to another pass, but that would cost them valuable raiding time and they don’t want to leave an intact army behind them while they’re spread out raiding, so they will come to us.”

So the Hraes’ legions withdrew to the pass and Hraerik explained some battle tactic basics that Mstislav had undoubtedly read about but had never intended to use in the field.  The Tmutorokan legions consisted of a full Hraes’ legion of foot, “which is like two full Roman legions of five thousand men each,” Hraerik lectured, “and we base our full legions on ten thousand men because it is better for large, pitched battles,”  and a full Hraes’ legion of cataphracts, “which consist of five thousand fully armoured men and horses, a lower number, but a stronger force.  The Romans fight a lot of thematic wars of smaller scale so their legions are leaner.”  The Prince had brought from Gardariki one mobile legion of ten thousand men, “six thousand foot and four thousand heavy cavalry and cataphracts,” Hraerik went on, “integrated together to provide a more versatile fighting force.  Mobile legions were designed by your grandfather, Prince Svein, who became King Sweyn and conquered England with them.  Each mobile legion is an army unto itself, complete with its own supply and transport fleet and siege trebuchets.  Each can fight on land and on sea and is particularly adept at capturing seaports and river cities.  They can be combined into larger armies and can be mixed and matched as well.  And that is what we shall be doing for the Kasogians.”

Scouts arrived with further news that the Kasogians, about forty thousand horsemen, were a half day away.  Prince Hraerik arranged the ten thousand foot across the center of the valley and put the legion of cataphracts on the left flank and the two regiments of heavy horse on the right flank.  The six thousand foot of the mobile legion he placed across the valley a little back of the legion of foot.  “Light cavalry is very mobile and flexible,” Hraerik began, and Mstislav was soaking it all in, “and will tend to bunch up when it finds weak areas that give way before it.”  The Prince then digressed into an explanation of crescent and wedge formations and how they matched up and he looked to his officers and told them, “the foot in the center is to give way before the enemy light horse and the cataphracts on the flanks are to hold their positions and wait for the light horse to bunch up in the center.  As the foot falls back and takes the shape of a longer crescent, the foot of the mobile legion will move forward to fill the gaps that form and spears will then be presented to hold the line.  Then, and only then, will the cataphracts charge the light horse before them and then wheel about and attack the horse in the center from behind.  Once the circle is closed, the light horse are not to be allowed to escape because then we will never catch them.  Prisoners are to be taken and bent over their shields in the Aesir way before being enslaved for sale in Baghdad next year.  Nobody is to be killed who can be captured.”

After the strategy meeting, the officers were sent out to arrange the legions across the valley and Hraerik took the young prince aside and gave him the usual lecture that he gave princes about being too brave in battle.  “You must avoid personal combat and let your men do the fighting.  Battles are lost because leaders fall and old princes are few and far between.”  Prince Mstislav was fine with that.  He was a fast learner and he wanted to see just how this strategy would play out.

An hour after noon, just after the legions had eaten, the Kasogian horsemen came riding up the valley.  They saw the legions arrayed before them and didn’t even stop to rest and water their horses before charging straight into battle.  If they were hoping to catch the legions off guard, their hopes were dashed.  Mounted scouts had been signalling their approach from hilltops via mirrors for the last many miles.  The horsemen came at the legions and the foot soldiers fell back before them, then planted their long spears which bristled outwards from the formations.  The cataphracts didn’t budge and had their long lances levelled and the light horse hit them and were halted and began flowing sideways into the void created by the retreating infantry, but when the foot planted their sarissas and spears the horses were either impaled or had balked and the light cavalry bunched up in the center just as the cataphracts charged and drove more light horse into the middle and surrounded them.

Years before, in Bulgaria, a Roman army of cataphracts had closed just such a trap on twenty thousand Hraes’ Pecheneg horsemen and they slaughtered them all.  It was much the same here, but for the slaughter part.  The legionnaires were all well rested and well fed and the Kasogians had been riding all morning and were both hungry and thirsty when they attacked and now they were hemmed in and fighting for their lives and were quickly exhausted and dragged from their horses and were gagged and bound and were being bent over their shields just outside the shieldwall while the horsemen within watched in a trapped mass and awaited their turns to be dragged down, bound and raped.  The cataphracts were all equipped with lassoes and nets for capturing fleeing foes and these were now used to drag Kasogians from their mounts and into the throngs of waiting foot.

Kasogian princes rode about in the mass demanding terms, but none were given and they, in turn, were dragged from their horses and raped with the rest of their men, as the Aesir were wont to do in the old Vanir Greek and Roman fashion.  The captives were fed and then marched down to the Black Sea coast where slaver ships awaited them.  They spent the night on the beach and the slavers had their way with the younger, handsomer ones before they were loaded onto ships the next morning for transport to the slave schools of Kiev.  The schools would be crowded for the first time since England had fallen to the Danes in 1013 and there would be no escaping from Kiev in the winter.

Prince Mstislav was amazed at the number of Kasogians that had been killed compared against the few legionnaires and even more amazed at the thirty thousand that had been captured.  He had even bent a few of them over their shields himself!

“I didn’t see you bending any Kasogians over their shields,” Mstislav joked with Hraerik.

“My bending men over their shields days are long over,” Hraerik said.  “At my age one prefers the comfort of beds and the women within them.  To that end, shall we carry on into Kasogian lands and sack a few of their cities?”

“Teach me how to sack a city,” Mstislav replied.  “We need female slaves as well.  The women’s slave schools of Kiev should not sit empty while the men’s schools are bursting at the seams.”

Just after the slaver ships left the coast, the transport supply ships of the mobile legion arrived and the legion was loaded up and taken down the coast to attack the one Kasogian seaport city, while the Tmutorokan legions followed inland down the coast sacking towns and villages as it progressed.  Women and children were herded after the legions as captives and the seaport had fallen by the time they got there.  Thirty thousand children were loaded into slaver ships and another thirty thousand women were loaded into the legionary transport ships and they were all taken to Kiev for training over the winter.

Prince Hraerik joined Prince Mstislav for a celebration in the city of Tmutorokan and during the feast the young prince told Hraerik that Prince Rededya of the Kasogians had already vowed to attack the Hraes’ in revenge for their attack upon him.

“We’ll have to stall him,” Hraerik said.  “We’ll send him gifts and gold and apologies, enough to keep him expecting more to come, then, when nothing more is forthcoming, he will attack us.  But next fall.  Our slave schools will need filling again.”

The Prince returned to Gardariki and put together gifts and gold and sent them to Mstislav in Tmutorokan for forwarding on to Prince Rededya of Kasogia and then he loaded many chests of gold into the ships of his personal fleet and he sailed off to England.  He would build another Gardariki in the west and keep half the Hraes’ gold there.  It would take several seasons to transport it without raising suspicions, but Gardariki was a fortress city that had been designed to withstand assault from without.  These new Hraes’ princes were beginning to pose a threat of assault from within.  ‘Best not to keep all ones eggs in one basket,’ Hraerik thought, ‘especially if the eggs are golden.’

The Kasogian war had delayed the Prince’s departure and he barely made it through the rivers of Hraes’ before they began freezing over.  Worldwide cooling was prevailing, heralding an end to the five hundred year warming period, and the rivers were freezing over a few days earlier than they had been previously.  The Prince made a mental note to keep that in mind.  The weather was more erratic going from warming to cooling than it was when going from cooling to warming, because hot weather was a lot more volatile than cold weather.  There was a lot more energy in the warm systems than in the cool ones, so, extremes of heat could be experienced while the cooling trend took over.  The change, itself, caused volatility, the type that could result in flooding as had happened in England but had been blamed on Prince Valdamar’s Unicorn curse that had paralyzed and killed King Athelred.  While it was possible that the Unicorn curse had paralyzed Athelred and the incapacitation may have contributed to his death, it had nothing to do with the flooding that had accompanied it.

Queen Emma was waiting for the Prince when he arrived in Southampton late, but she wasn’t worried because Hraerik had sent messages with the merchant fleet that he would be delayed.  They’d been instructed to leave out the reason for his delay, war not being a very reassuring excuse.  She met him on the main quay and as they walked towards her city Hraerik asked, “Have you ever been to Gardariki?”

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year read:

A.D. 1021.  This year King Knute, at Martinmas, outlawed Earl

Thurkyll; and Bishop Elfgar, the abundant giver of alms, died in

the morning of Christmas day.

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

(1021 AD)  Bryachislav, son of Izyaslav, grandson of Valdamar, came

and captured Novgorod, and having taken the people of Novgorod and

their property, he returned to Polotsk.  When he arrived at the Sudomir’

River, Ivaraslav came thither from Kiev after a seven days’ march.  He

conquered Bryachislav, and returned the people of Novgorod to their city,

while Bryachislav fled back to Polotsk.  In the fall, the Kasogians attacked

the Principality of Tmutorokan and Prince Mstislav drove them back.