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dead !

ORNULF. So it must be, Gunnar; — and my venge-
ance was rather against her than thee. Dear has this

meeting been to both of us ; there is my

hand ; be there peace between us !

GUNNAR. Thanks, Ornulf! And now aboard;
I sail with thee to Iceland.

Ornulf. Ay, to Iceland ! Long will it be ere
our forth-faring is forgotten.

Weapon-wielding warriors' meeting,
woful, by the northern seaboard,
still shall live in song and saga
while our stem endures in Iceland.



THE PRETENDERS.

(1864.)



14



Characters.



HAKON Hakonsson, the King elected by the Birchlegs.

Inga of Varteig, his mother.

Earl Skule.

Lady Ragnhild, his -wife.

Sigrid, his sister.

Margrete, his daughter.

guthorm ingesson.

Sigurd Ribbung.

Nicholas Arnesson, Bishop of Oslo.

Dageinn the Peasant, Hakotis marshal.

Ivar Bodde.

Vegard V/eradal, one of his guard.

Gregorius Jonsson, a nobleman.

Paul Flida, a nobleman.

I.NGEBORG, Andres Skialdarband's wife.

Peter, her son, a young priest.

SlRA Viliam, Bishop Nicholas's chaplain.

Master Sigard of Brabant, a. physician.

Jatgeir Skald, an Icelander.

Bard Bratte, a chieftain from the Trondhiem district.

Populace and Citizens of Bergen, Oslo, and Nidaros.

Priests, Monks, and Nuns.

Guests, Guards, and Ladies.

Men-at-Arms, etc., etc.

The action passes in the first half of the Thirteenth Century.

[Pronunciation of Names. — Skule = Skoole : ; Margrete = Mar-
grayte ; Guthorm = Gootorm ; Sigurd Ribbung = Sigoord Ribboong ;
"Da.g^nn = Daagfin (a as in "hard"); Ivar Bodde = Eevar Bodde;
Vegard = Vaygard ; Jonsson = Yoonson ; Flida = Fleeda ; Ingeborg =
Ingheborg ; Jatgeir = Yatgheir ; Bard Bratte = Board Bratte. The
names " Hakon " and " Ingeborg " appear as " IJakon " and
" Ingebjbrg" in Ibsen's text. The forms I have substituted are
equally current in Norway, and less troublesome to English readers.]



THE PRETENDERS.

HISTORIC PLAY IN FIVE ACTS.



Act First.

{The Churchyard of Christ Church, Bergen. At the back rises
the church, the main portal of which faces the specta-
tors. In front, on the left, stands Hakon Hakonsson, with
Dagfinn the Peasant, Vegard of V^eradal, Ivar
Bodde, and several other nobles and chieftains. Opposite
to him stand Earl Skule, Gregorius Jonsson, Paul
Flida, and other s of the Earl's men. Further back on the
same side are seen Sigurd Ribbung and his followers, and
a little way from him Guthorm Ingf.sson, with several
chiefs. Men-at-arms line the approaches to the church; the
common people fill the churchyard ; many are perched in the
trees and seated on the walls ; all seem to await, in suspense,
the occurrerice of some event. Bells are ringing in all the
church-towers far and near.)

EARL SKULE {softly and impatiently, to Gre-
GORIUS JONSSON). Why tarry they so long in
there?

Gregorius Jonsson. Hush ! Now begins the
psalm.

{From inside the closed church doors, to the accom-
paniment of trumpets, is heard a CllOIR OF



212 The Pretenders. [Act I.

Monks and Nuns singing Domine coeli, etc.,

etc. / / liile the singing is going on, the church

door is opened from inside; in /he vestibule

Bishop Nicholas is seen, surroundedby Priests

(Did Monks.)

Bishop Nicholas {steps forward to the doonvay

and proclaims with uplifted crosier). Inga of Varteig

is undergoing the ordeal on behalf of Hakon the

Pretender !

( The cliurcJi door is closed again : the singing
inside continues?)
Gregorius Jonsson (in a low voice, to the Earl).
Call upon holy King Olaf to protect the right.

Earl Skule (hurriedly, with a deprecating gesture).
Not now. Best not remind him of me.

Ivar Bodde (seizing Hakon by the arm). Pray
to the Lord thy God, Hakon Hakonsson.
Hakon. No need ; I am sure of him.

(The singing in the church groivs louder ; all
uncover ; many fall upon their knees arid pray.)
Gregorius Jonsson (to the Earl). A solemn
hour for you and for many !

Earl SKULE (looking anxiously tozvards the church).
A solemn hour for Norway.

Paul Flida (near the Earl). Now is the glowing
iron in her hands.

Dagfinn (beside Hakon). They are coming down
the nave.

Ivar BODDE. Christ protect thy tender hands,
Inga, mother of the King !

Hakon. My whole life shall surely reward her for
this hour.



Act I.] The Pretenders. 213

Earl SKULE (who has been listening anxiously,
breaks out suddenly). Did she cry out ? Has she let
the iron fall ?

Paul Flida (goes up). I know not what it was.

Gregorius JONSSON. The women are weeping
loudly in the outer hall.

The Choir in the Church (breaks forth in jubi-
lation). Gloria in excelsis deo !

(The doors are thrown open. INGA comes forth,
followed by Nuns, Priests, and Monks?)

INGA (on the church steps). God has given judg-
ment ! Behold these hands ; with them I bore the
iron !

Voices amongst the Multitude. They are
tender and white as before !

Other Voices. Fairer still !

The Whole Multitude. He is Hakon's son!
He is Sverre's grandson !

Hakon (embraces her). Have thanks, have thanks,
thou blessed among women !

Bishop Nicholas (in passing, to the Earl). We
did wrong to accept the ordeal.

Earl Skule. Nay, my lord Bishop, we could not
but pray for God's voice in this matter.

Hakon (deeply moved, holding INGA by the hand).
It is done, then, that which my every fibre cried out
against — that which has made my heart shrivel and
writhe within me

DAGFINN (turning tozvards the multitude). Ay,
look upon this woman and bethink you, all that are
gathered here! Who ever doubted her word, until
certain people required that it should be doubted.



2T4 The Pretenders. [Act I.

Paul Flida. Doubt has whispered in every
corner from the hour when Hakon the Pretender
was borne, a little child, into King Inge's hall.

GREGORIUS JONSSON. And last winter it swelled
to a roar, and sounded forth over the land, both
north and south ; I trow every man can bear witness
to that.

Hakon. I myself can best bear witness to it.
Even therefore have I yielded to the counsel of many
faithful friends, and humbled myself as no other
chosen king has done for many a day. I have
proved my birth by the ordeal, proved my right, as
the son of Hakon Sverresson, to succeed to the throne
of Norway. I will not now question who fostered the
doubt, and made it, as the Earl's kinsman says, swell
into a roar ; but this I know, that I have suffered
bitterly under it. I have been chosen king from boy-
hood, but little kingly honour has been shown me,
even where it seemed I might look for it most
securely. I will but remind you of last Palm Sunday
in Nidaros, 1 when I went up to the altar to make my
offering, and the Archbishop turned away and made
as though he saw me not, to escape greeting me as
kings are wont to be greeted. Yet such slights I
could easily have borne, had not open war been
like to break out in the land ; that I must needs
hinder.

DAGFINN. It may be well for kings to hearken to
counsels of prudence ; but had my counsel been heard
in this matter, it had not been with hot iron, but with

1 The old name for Trondhiem.



Act I] The Pretenders. 215

cold steel that Hakon Hakonsson should have called
for judgment between himself and his foes.

Hakon. Curb yourself, Dagfinn ; think what
beseems the man who is to be foremost in the
state.

EARL Skule {with a slight smile). Tis easy to
call every one the King's foe who chimes not with the
King's will. Methinks he is the King's worst foe
who would dissuade him from making good his right
to the kingship.

HAKON. Who knows ? Were my right alone in
question, mayhap I had not paid so dear to prove it ;
but there are higher things at stake : my calling and
my duty. I feel deeply and warmly within me — and
I shrink not from saying it — that I alone am he
who can guide the land for the best in these times ;
kingly birth begets kingly duty

Earl Skule. There are others here who bear
themselves the like fair witness.

SlGURD Ribbung. That do I, and with even as
good ground. My grandfather was King Magnus
Erlingsson

HAKON. Ay, if your father, Erling Steinvaeg, was
indeed King Magnus's son ; but most people deny it,
and the matter has not yet been put to the ordeal.

SlGURD RlBBUNG. The Ribbungs 1 received me
as king of their own free will, whilst Dagfinn the
Peasant and other Birchlcgs 1 must needs use threats
to gain for you the kingly title.

1 The " Birkebeincr " or llirchlcjjs were at this period a political
fiction. They were so called because, at the time of their lirst
appearance wh^n they seem to have been little more than bandits,



216 The Pretenders. [Act I.

Hakon. Ay, so ill had you dealt with Norway
that the stock of Sverre had to claim its right with
threats.

GUTHORM INGESSON. I am of the stock of Sverre
as much as you

Dagfinn. But not in the direct male line.

Bishop Nicholas. You are on the female side,
Guthorm.

GUTHORM INGESSON. Yet this I know, that my
father, Inge Bardsson, was lawfully chosen king of
Norway.

HAKON. Because none knew that Sverre's grand-
son was alive. From the day that became known,
he held the kingdom in trust for me — not other-
wise.

Earl Skule. That cannot truly be said ; Inge
was king all his days, with all lawful power and with-
out reserve. It may be true enough that Guthorm
has but little claim, for he was born out of wedlock ;
but I am King Inge's lawfully-begotten brother, and
the law is with me if I claim, and take, his full
inheritance.

Dagfinn. Ah, Sir Earl, of a truth you have
contrived to inherit in full, not only your father's
family possessions, but all the wealth Hakon
Sverresson left behind him.



they eked out their scanty attire by making themselves leggings of
birch bark. Norway at this time swarmed with factions, such as
the "Bagler" or Croziers (Latin, bacuhis), so called because Bishop
Nicholas was their chief, the Ribbungs, the Slittungs, etc., devoted,
for the most part, to one or other of the many pretenders to the
crown.



Act I.] The Pretenders. 217

Bishop Nicholas. Not all, good Dagfinn. Re-
spect the truth ; — King Hakon has kept a brooch and
the golden ring he wears on his arm.

HAKON. Be that as it will ; with God's help I
shall win myself wealth again. And now, ye barons
and thanes, ye churchmen and chieftains and men-
at-arms, now it is time to form the folkmote, as has
been agreed. I have sat with bound hands until this
day ; methinks no man will blame me for longing to
get them loosed.

Earl Skule. There are many in like case, Hakon
Hakonsson.

HAKON {on the alert). What mean you, Sir
Earl?

Earl SKULE. I mean that all we Pretenders
have the same cause for longing. We have all alike
been straitly bound, for none of us has known how far
his right held good.

Bishop Nicholas. The church has been even as
unsettled as the kingdom ; but now must we abide
by the sainted King Olaf 's law.

Dagfinn {half aloud). Fresh stratagems!
(HAKON's men gather more closely together.)

HAKON {with forced calmness, advances a couple of
paces tozvards the Earl). I trust I have not rightly
taken your meaning. The ordeal has made good my
hereditary right to the kingdom, and therefore, as 1
deem, the folkmote has nought to do but to ratify my
election, which took place at the Orcthing 1 six years
ago.

1 A " thing," or assembly, held from time to time on the " die" or
foreshore at the mouth of the river Nid, at Trondhiem.



2i 8 The Pretenders. [Act I.

Several of the Earl's and Sigurd's Men.
No, no ! That we deny !

Karl Skule. Not to that end did we agree to
hold the folkmote here. The ordeal has not given
you the kingdom ; it has but proved your title to
come forward to-day, along with us other Pre-
tenders, and assert the right you hold to be
yours

HAKON {constraining himself to be calm). That
means, in brief, that for six years I have unlawfully
borne the name of King, and for six years, you, Sir
Earl, have unlawfully ruled the land as regent for
me.

Earl Skule. In no wise. Some one must
needs bear the kingly title, since my brother was
dead. The Birchlegs, and most of all Dagfinn the
Peasant, were active in your cause, and hastened
your election through before we others could set forth
our claims.

Bishop Nicholas (to Hakon). The Earl would
say that that election gave you but the usufruct of
the kingly power, not its rightful ownership.

EARL Skule. You have enjoyed all the privileges;
but Sigurd Ribbung and Guthorm Ingesson and
I hold ourselves to the full as near inheritors
as you ; and now shall the law adjudge between
us, and say whose shall be the inheritance for all
time.

Bishop Nicholas. In truth, the Earl's reasoning
is good.

EARL SKULE. Both ordeal and folkmote have
more than once been talked of in these years,



Act I.] The Pretenders. 219

but something has ever come between. And, Sir
Hakon, if you deemed your right immovably estab-
lished by the first election, how came you to accept
the ordeal ?

Dagfinn {bitterly). To your swords, King's-men,
let them decide !

Many of the King's Men {rushing forward).
Down with the King's enemies !

Earl Skule {calls to his men). Slay none!
Wound none ! Only keep them off.

HAKON {restraining his men). Up with your blades,
all who have drawn them ! — Up with your blades, I
say ! {Calmly.) In doing thus you make things ten-
fold worse for me.

Earl Skule. So goes it wherever men meet
men, all the country over. You see now, Hakon
Hakonsson ; does not this show you what you have
to do if you have any care for the country's peace and
the lives of men ?

HAKON {after some refection). Yes — I see it.
{Takes INGA by the hand and turns to one of those
standing by him.) Torkell, you were a trusty man in
my father's guard ; take this woman to your own
abode and see you tend her well ; she was very dear
to Hakon Sverresson. — God bless you, my mother, —
now I must gird me for the folkmote. (INGA presses
his hand, and goes with TORKELL. IIakon is silent
azvhile, then steps forzvard and says with emphasis :)
The law shall decide, atul it alone. Ye Birchlegs
who, at the Orcthing, took me for your Kin;.;, I free
you from the oath ye sware to me. You, Dagfinn,
are no longer my marshal ; I will not appear with



220 The Pretenders. [Act I.

marshal or with guard, 1 with vassals or with hirelings.
I am a poor man ; all my inheritance is a brooch and
this gold ring ; — these are scant goods wherewith to
reward so many good men's service. Now, ye other
Pretenders, now we stand equal ; I will have no
advantage of you, save the right which I have from
above, — that I neither can nor will share with any
one. — Let the assembly-call be sounded, and then let
God and the sainted King Olaf 's law decide.

{Goes out with his men to the left; blasts of
trumpets and horns are heard far azvay.)

Gregorius Jonsson {to the Earl, as the crotvd
prepare to depart). Methought you seemed afraid
during the ordeal, and now you look so glad and
hopeful.

Earl Skule {with an expression of contentment).
Marked you that he had Sverre's eyes as he spoke ?
Whether he or I be chosen, the choice will be a good
one.

Gregorius Jonsson {uneasily). But do not you
give way. Think of all who stand or fall with your
cause.

Earl Skule. I stand now upon justice ; I no
longer fear to call upon Saint Olaf.

{Goes out to the left with his followers!)

1 The word hird is very difficult to render. It meant something
between "court,"' "household," and "guard." I have never trans-
lated it "court,'' as that word seemed to convey an idea of peaceful
civilisation foreign to the country and period ; but I have used either
"guard" or "household" as the context seemed to demand. Hird-
maud I have generally rendered " man-at-arms." Lendermand I have
represented by "baron," lagmand and sysselmand by "thane," and
stallare by "marshal " — all mere rough approximations.



Act I.] The Pretenders. 221

Bishop Nicholas {hastening after Dagfinn the
Peasant). 'Twill go well, good Dagfinn, 'twill go
well ; — but keep the Earl far from the King when he
is chosen ; — see you keep them far apart !
{All go out to the left, behind the church.)



{A hall in the Palace. On the left, in the foreground,
is a low window ; on the right the entrance-door ; in
the background a larger door wliich leads into the
King's Hall. By the window, a table ; chairs and
benches stand about)

(Lady Ragnhild and Margrete enter by the
smaller door ; ^ICl^yd follows immediately)

Lady Ragnhild. In here?

MARGRETE. Ay, here it is darkest.

Lady Ragnhild {goes to the window). And here
we can look down upon the mote-stead.

MARGRETE {looks out cautiously). Ay, there they
are all gathered behind the church. {Turns, in tears.)
Yonder must now betide what will bring so much in
its train.

Lady RAGNHILD. Who will be master in this
hall to-morrow?

Margrete. Oh, hush ! So heavy a day I had
never thought to see.

LADY Ragnhild. It had to be; the regency
was no full work for him.

Margrete. Ay, it had to be; he could never
rest content with the mere name of king.

Lady Ragnhild. Of whom speak you ?



The Pretenders. [Act I.

Margrete. Of Hakon.

LADY RAGNHILD. I spoke of the Earl.

MARGRETE. There breathe not nobler men than
they two.

Lady Ragnhild. See you Sigurd Ribbung?
With what a look of evil cunning he sits there — like
a wolf in chains.

Margrete. Yes, see ! — He folds his hands be-
fore him upon his sword-hilt and rests his chin upon
them.

Lady Ragnhild. He bites his beard and
laughs

Margrete. Tis an evil laugh.

Lady Ragnhild. He knows that none will take
his part ; — it is that which makes him wroth. Who
is yonder thane that speaks now ?

Margrete. That is Gunnar Grionbak.

Lady Ragnhild. Is he for the Earl ?

Margrete. No, he is for the King

Lady Ragnhild {looking at her). For whom say
you ?

Margrete. For Hakon Hakonsson.

Lady Ragnhild {looks out; after a s/iort pause).
Where sits Guthorm Ingesson? — I see him not.

Margrete. Behind his men, lowest of all there —
in a long mantle.

Lady Ragnhild. Ay, there.

Margrete. He looks as though he were
ashamed

Lady Ragnhild. That is for his mother's sake.

MARGRETE. So did not Hakon.

Lady Ragnhild. Who speaks now?



Act I.] The Pretenders. 223

Margrete {looking out). Tord Skolle, the thane
of Ranafylke.

Lady Ragnhild. Is he for the Earl ?

Margrete. No — for Hakon.

Lady Ragnhild. How motionless the Earl sits
listening !

Margrete. Hakon seems thoughtful — but strong
nonetheless. {With animation?) Were a stranger
here, he could pick out those two amongst all the
thousand others.

Lady Ragnhild. See, Margrete! Dagfinn the
Peasant drags forth a gilded chair for Hakon

Margrete. Paul Flida places one like it behind
the Earl

Lady Ragnhild. Hakon's men seek to hinder
it!

Margrete. The Earl holds the chair fast !

Lady Ragnhild. Hakon speaks angrily to him.
{Starts back, with a cry, from the window.) Oh

Christ ! Saw you his eyes — and his smile ! No,

that was not the Earl !

Margrete (who has follotved her in terror). Nor
Hakon either ! Neither one nor the other !

SlGRiD (at the window). Oh pitiful ! Oh pitiful !

Margrete. Sigrid !

Lady Ragnhild. You here !

SlGRll). Goes the path so low that leads up to the
throne !

Margrete. Oh, pray with us, that all be guided
for the best.

Lady Ragnhild (wJiite and horror-stricken , to
SlGRID). Saw you him? Saw you my husband?



224 The Pretenders. [Act I.

His eyes and his smile — I should not have known
him !

SlGRID. Looked he like Sigurd Ribbung?

Lady Ragniiild {softly). Ay, he looked like
Sigurd Ribbung.

SlGRID. Laughed he like Sigurd ?

Lady Ragnhild. Ay, ay !

SlGRID. Then must we all pray.

Lady Ragnhild {with despairing strength). The
Earl must be chosen King ! 'Twill work ruin in his
soul if he become not the first man in the land !

SlGRID {more loudly). Then must we all pray !

Lady Ragnhild. Hist! What is that? {At
the ivindozv.) What shouts ! All the men have risen ;
all the banners and standards wave in the wind.

SlGRID {seizes her by the arm). Pray, woman !
Pray for your husband !

Lady Ragnhild Ay, holy King Olaf, give him
all the power in this land !

SlGRID (zuildly). None — none ! Else is he lost!

Lady Ragnhild. He must have the power. All
the good in him will grow and blossom if he gets it. —
Look forth, Margrete ! Listen ! {Starts back a step.)
All hands are lifted for an oath !

(Margrete listens at the window.)

Lady Ragnhild. God and Saint Olaf, who wins ?

SlGRID. Pray !

(Margrete listens, andtvith tiplif ted Jiand motions
for silence?)

Lady Ragnhild {after a little while). Speak !
{From the mote-stead is heard a loud blast of
trumpets and horns.)



Act I.] The Pretenders. 225

Lady Ragnhild. God and Saint Olaf! Who
has won ?

{A short pause.)
Margrete {turns her head and says :) 'Tis Hakon
Hakonsson they choose for king.

( The music of the royal procession is heard, first in
the distance and then nearer and nearer. LADY
RAGNHILD clings zveeping to SlGRlD, who leads
her quietly out on the right ; Margrete re-
mains hhmovable, leaning against the window-
frame. The King's attendants open the great
doors, disclosing the interior of the Hall, which
is gradually filled by the procession from the
mote-stead.)
Hakon {in the doorway, turning to Ivar Bodde).
Bring me a pen and wax and silk — I have parchment
here. {Advances exultantly to the table and lays some
rolls of parchment upon it.) Margrete, now am I
King!

Margrete. Hail to my lord and King !
Hakon. I thank you ! {Looks at her and takes
her hand) Forgive me; I forgot that it must wound
you.

MARGRETE {drawing her hand away). It did
not wound me; — of a surety you are born to be
king.

Hakon {with animation). Ay, must not all men
own it, who remember how marvellously God and the
saints have shielded me from all harm ? I was but a
year old when the Birchlegs bore me over the moun-
tains, through frost and storm, and through the very
midst of those who sought my life. At Nidaros I

15



mm: Pre rENDERS. [Act I.

came scatheless from the Baglcrs 1 when they burnt
the town with so great a slaughter, while King Inge
himself barely saved his life by climbing on ship-
board up the anchor-cable.

Margrete. Your youth has been a hard one.

HAKON {looking steadily at her). Methinks you
might have made it easier.

Margrete. I ?

Hakon. You might have been so good a foster-
sister to me, through all the years when we were grow-
ing up together.

MARGRETE. But it fell out otherwise.

Hakon. Ay, it fell out otherwise; — we looked at
each other, I from my corner, you from yours, but we

seldom spoke {Impatiently.) What is keeping

him ? (Ivar BODDE comes ivith the writing materials?)
Are you there ? Give me the things !

(HAKON seats himself at the table and writes. A
little while after, EARL SKULE comes in; then
Dagfinn the Peasant, Bishop Nicholas,

tf^VEGARD ViERADAL.)

Hakon {looks up and lays down his pen). Know
you, Sir Earl, what I am writing here ? ( The Earl
approaches.) This is to my mother; I thank her for
all her love, and kiss her a thousand times — here in
the letter you understand. She is to be sent east-
ward to Borgasyssel, and to live there with all kingly
honours.

Earl Skule. You will not keep her in the
palace?

HAKON. She is too dear to me, Earl; — a king

: See note, p. 215.



Act I.] The Pretenders. 227

must have none about him whom he loves too
well. A king must act with free hands; he must
stand alone; he must neither be led nor lured. There
is so much to be mended in Norway.
{Goes on writing)

Vegard V/Eradal {softly to Bishop Nicholas).
'Tis by my counsel he deals thus with Inga, his
mother.

Bishop Nicholas. I knew your hand in it at once.

Vegard ViERADAL. But now one good turn de-
serves another.

Bishop Nicholas. Wait. I will keep that I
promised.

Hakon {gives the parchment to IVAR BODDE).
Fold it together and take it to her yourself, with
many loving greetings

Ivar BODDE {who has glanced at the parchment).
My Lord — will you not delay a day !

Hakon. The wind is fair for a southward course.

DAGFINN {slowly). Bethink you, my lord King,
that she has lain all night on the altar-steps in prayer
and fasting.

IVAR BODDE. And she may well be weary after
the ordeal.

Hakon. True, true; — my good kind mother !

{Collects himself?) Well, if she be too weary, let her
wait until to-morrow.

IVAR BODDE. It shall be as you will. {Puts
another parchment forward) But this other, my lord.

HAKON. That other ? — Ivar Bodde, I cannot.

DAGFINN {points to the letter for Inga). Yet you


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