M. A Wyllie.

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in some respects both, are now much changed." {Prose

" Then ruled over England King Ethelred, son of Edgar
(979). He was a good chief; he sat this winter in
London. The tongue in England, as well as in Norway
and Denmark, was then one. But it changed in England
when William the Bastard won England. Thenceforth
the tongue of Valland (France) was used in England,
for he (William) was born there." {Guaoclaaig Ormstivngas
Saga, c. 7.)

If we read the sagas we can trace our forefathers
back to Odin the Asa king, and learn the character and
life of the Norse ancestors of the English-speaking
peoples. We can form a satisfactory idea of their
religious, social, political, and warlike life. We can
follow them from their birth to their grave ; see the
infant exposed to die, or water sprinkled; follow the
child in his education, in his sports ; the young man in


his practice of arms ; the maiden in her domestic duties
and embroidery ; the adult in his warhke expeditions ;
hear the clash of swords, and the song of the scald
inciting the warriors to greater deeds of daring, or it
may be recounting afterwards the glorious death of the
hero. We listen to the old man giving his advice at the
Thing ; we learn about the dress of these ancestors, their
ornaments, implements, weapons ; their expressive names
and complicated relationships ; their dwellings and con-
vivial halls, with their primitive or magnificent furniture ;
their temples, sacrifices, gods, and sacred ceremonies ;
their personal appearance, even to the hair, eyes, face,
and limbs. Their festivals, betrothal and marriage feasts
are open to us. We are present at their athletic games,
preparatory to the stern realities of the life of that
period, where honour and renown were won on the battle-
field; at the revel and drunken bout; behold the dead
warrior on his burning ship, or on the pyre, surrounded
by his weapons, horses, slaves, or fallen companions who
are to enter with him into V^alhalla.

The first metal the Norsemen knew was copper, which
is found in many parts of Norway. To begin with, it
was used unalloyed, for in the north many implements
of pure copper have been unearthed. Gradually it was
discovered that a little tin mixed with the copper made
it much harder. And as bronze was far superior to
stone, it no doubt superseded it in many cases. But the
new metal must have been very costly, as tin had to be
imported from distant countries. Stone axes were used
therefore far on in the age of bronze. Gold was also
worked up into all sorts of ornaments, rings, bracelets,
and brooches.

Du Chaillu, who years ago introduced the gorilla to
the world, wrote his book to prove the truth of the


old myth that the Scandinavian race came with Odin
originally from the shores of the Black Sea, and that they
brought with them the religion, the arts, and the culture
of the ancient Greeks. He illustrated it with many
beautiful pictures, showing what a likeness the Viking
ships bore to those of Argos and Corinth. The patterns
wrought by the old Norsemen were shown to be very
like early classic ornament, the similarity of the rude
figures chiselled in the rock to archaic carving in Asia
Minor, and the likeness of the runic character to the
Greek alphabet, were all worked out in the most ingenious

Isaac Taylor, the Dean of York, also made systematic
researches into the origin of the alphabet. When he
came to study the runes he suggested quite the same
interpretation, and said that they were derived from
Greek sources. On the other hand, Wimmer, in his great
work Die Runenschrift, states that the runes were
developed from the Latin letters in use during the
second century, but it has been pointed out that the
Latin was written from left to right, and it is very
unlikely that a people borrowing such an alphabet would
use it to write from right to left.

Hempl contends that the runes were derived about
600 B.C. from the western Greek. Taylor, however,
thought they came from a Greek colony on the Black
Sea, and it is well known that the early Greek was often
written, as we should say, backwards. Wherever the Norse
Vikings came from, there can be no doubt that they had
much in common with the warrior kings of Homer's verse.
The mythology of each race may be compared, — Zeus, the
god of the sky, with his irresistible bolts might quite
well be Thor the Thunderer under another name. His
fight with the Titans has probably suggested the slaying


of the Jotun giants. The immortals, though nothing
but types of contemporary human nature, have much in
common. Each race beheved in three sisters of fate, the
gods of fire, and the under-world, besides demi-gods and
heroes of all degrees.

Animal metamorphosis of the most wonderful character
occurs in both mythologies. The Scandinavian cosmogonic
myth gives us tales of Odin, the swift-goer, the ganger.
He could deal in magic. When he stole Suttungs Mead,
which answers to the classic nectar, he flew away in the
shape of an eagle. One of his names is the Raven God.
Asa Loki was of mixed race, half god, half giant. He
changed into a mare and became the mother of the eight-
legged horse of Odin. Helen is described as the long-
legged one, lord of the ooze ; his name suggests that of
a crane. The constant enemies of the gods, the giants,
could also turn themselves into animals when they wished.
Havindal and Loki change themselves into seals to fight
their battle. Odin''s wife was Frigg, from whom we have
the week day Friday. Their son was Thor, the thunder
god. Thursday was his festival. He had a hammer and
was a jjreat fighter.

The gods of Norway, some of them derived from the
forces of nature, and the rest indifferently represented
as divine, human, or animal, are, after all, only men, and
primitive men at that. The story of the pure and much-
loved god Balder, who descended into Hell, seems to have
been adopted later; suggested perhaps by the teaching
of Christianity. The race of the gods was called
Asgardr Godheimr, and that of the giants Utgardr
Jotunheimr, and the bards sang Eddas of the halls of
Odin, where the souls of the heroes killed in war lived for

Everywhere we see that gold was in the greatest


abundance, as shown by the treasures in the museums
of the north, which bear witness to the truthfuhiess
of the records. The spade has developed the history of
Scandinavia as it has done that of Assyria and Etruria ;
but in addition the Northmen had the Saga and Edda
literature to perpetuate their deeds.

Britain, being an island, could only be settled or con-
quered by seafaring tribes, just in the same way as to-day
distant lands can only be conquered by nations possessing
ships. Unfortunately the Roman accounts of the con-
quest and occupation of Britain, of its population and
inhabitants, are very meagre and unsatisfactory, and do
not help us much to ascertain how the settlement in
Britain by the people of the north began.

We find from Roman records that the so-called Saxons
had founded colonies, or had settlements in Belgium and
Gaul ; and another important fact we know from the
records relating to Britain is, that during the Roman
occupation of the island the Saxons had settlements in
the country, but how they came there we are not

In the Notitia Dign'dahim utriusque imperii, which was
a sort of catalogue or " army list " compiled towards
the latter end of the fourth century, occurs the expres-
sion, " Comes litoris Saxonici per Britannias " — Count
of the Saxon shore in Britain. Within this litus
Saxonicum the following places are mentioned —
Othona, said to be "close by Hastings"; Dubris, said
to be Dover ; Rutupige, Richborough ; Branodumum,
Brancaster ; Regulbium, Reculvers ; Lemannis, West
Hythe; Garianno, Yarmouth; Anderida, Pevensey;
Portus Adurni, Shoreham or Brighton. This shows
that the so-called Saxons were settled in Britain before
the Notitia was drawn up, and at a date very much


earlier than has been assigned by some modern his-

The Skjoldunga Saga, which is often mentioned in
other sagas, and Avhich contains a record down to the
early Kings of Denmark, is unfortunately lost ; but from
some fragments we see that several Danish and Swedish
Kings claimed to have possessions in England long before
the supposed coming of the Danes.

" Skjold (Shield) was the son of Odin, from whom the
Skjoldungar are descended. He dwelt in and ruled over
the lands now called Danmork, which were then called
Gotland. Skjold had a son, Fridleif, who ruled the lands
after him. Fridleifs son Frddi got the kingship after
his father, about the time when the Emperor Augustus
made peace all over the world. Then Christ was born.
As Frddi was the most powerful of all kings in the
northern lands, all who spoke the Danish tongue
attributed the peace to him, and the Northmen called
it the peace of Frddi. Now Frddi the Valiant had two
sons, Ing-jald and Halfdan. From the first was descended
the great Harald Hilditonn, who was defeated by his kins-
man Sigurd Hring at the Bravalla battle. From the second
was descended Harald Fairhair, the ancestor of the Dukes
of Normandy, and so indirectly of Queen Victoria. " All
who are truly wise in events know that the Tyrkjar and
Asia-men settled in the northern lands. Then began
the tongue which has since spread over all lands. The
leader of these people was called Odin, and to him men
trace their families." (Sfamimig's Saga.)

The rather mythical genealogy of Ynglingatal com-
posed for the uncle of Harald Fairhair traces the family
through thirty generations up to Odin, and, being pro-
bably composed a little after 900, it would make Odin
live about 100 before Christ.



Thus the Skjoldunga Branch began with —

Odin Asa King.





Havar the Hand-strong.


Vermund the Wise.
Olaf the Humble.
Dan the Proud.
Frodi the Peaceful.


Frodi the Valiant.



Hroerek Ringeng-



Hroerek Ring-

Harald Hilditonn.


Hrolf Kraki.

Valdar the Mild.
Harald the Old.
Halfdan the Valiant.
Ivar Vidfadmi.
Aud, the \


fl, Hroerek Ring-thrower.
'\2. Rand bard.

Sigurd Hring.
Ragnar Lodbrok.
Sigurd Snake-eye.

Sigurd Hart.
Harald Fairhair.


Harald Fairhair
Eirik Bloodaxe
Hakon the Good
Harald Grafeld

Olaf Tryggvason .
Hakon Jarl the Great
Eirik Jarl .
St. Olaf

Reigned A.D.







Reigned A.D.

Knut the Great . . 1028-1035

Magnus the Good . 1035-1047

Harald Hardradi . . 1047-1066
Olaf "the Peaceful"

Kyeri . . , 1066- 1093

Magnus Barefoot . . 1093-1103

(Three sons — Eystein,

Olaf, Sigurd.)

Jarsalafari . . . 1103-I130
Civil War— Harald Gilli,

Magnus the Blind,

and others . . 11 30-1 162

Magnus Erlingsson . 11 62-1 184

Civil Wars . . . 1184-1217

Haakon Haakonsscin . 12 17-1263

Magnus Lagaboter . 1263-12S0

Eric Magnusson . . 1280- 1299

Haakon Magnusson . 1299-13 19

(No male issue)

Transition to the Union : Magnus Smek, by Ingeborg Haakon's
daughter and the Swedish Duke Eric ....



Harald Harfagre, or Fair-Haired Harald, also called
Lufa, or the Thick-Haired, was born about the year 850,
and was the son of Halfdan the Black, King of Upland,
an inconsiderable district in Norway. By the mother's
side he was descended from Ragnar Ladbrok and the
renowned Siguard the Serpent- killer. When he was
ten years of age his father died, and he became King of
the little district of Upland. For some years his affairs
were managed by Guthorus, his mother's brother, but
when he was about eighteen he took everything into
his own hands. Harald was tall and athletic, — of an
exceedingly handsome countenance, bold and daring,
and of a mind of great ambition. At that time there
was no universal King in Norway, almost every district
being governed by its own petty sovereign or head-
man, under whom the people enjoyed their othul, or
right of the soil, merely paying a slight tribute to the

This state of things, however, was not destined to
continue. No sooner had Harald become his own master
than he made a vow to Odin that he would neither cut
nor comb his hair till he had made himself sole King of
the country, and absolute lord of the lives and property
of the inhabitants.

Harald Harfagre had first to secure the kingdom he
had inherited from his father, and thereupon crossed the
Dovre Mountains to Trondhjem, where he took up his
abode in this well-populated community. All this he
accomplished in a few years by dauntless bravery, force
of character, and terrible severity. In some instances
he experienced a desperate resistance, but he never lost
a battle. His hardest conflict was the sea fight at Hafirs-
firth, in which he encountered several confederated kings.
In this he was hard pressed, and would probably have


been worsted but for the fall of Haklangr, or Longehiii,
the principal leader of the opposite party, a man of
great courage and immense strength. This battle was
decisive, for after it Harald was sole master of Norway,
from the inhabitants of which he took their cherished
othul, reducing them to the condition of bondsmen or
servants, Harald was satisfied with being King of
Norway, but the effects of what he did were by no means
confined to that country.

Perhaps the actions of few or none have had so much
influence on the affairs of Europe as those of Hai'ald
Harfagre. He was the principal cause and originator of
what may be called the Norman March. Terra North-
mannorum, occupied in the early part of the tenth century
by the Northmen, whose name was on Gaelic soil gradu-
ally changed to Norman Rollo or Rolf, settled at Rouen,
embraced Christianity, and became the Carlovingian King's
man. The Viking leader received a grant from Charles
the Simple of all the land between Dive and the River
Epte. He was called " Princeps Northmannorum," or
sometimes " Dux piratarum."

A nobility gradually sprang up consisting chiefly, it
would seem, of those who could claim any kind of kindred,
legitimate or illegitimate, with the ducal house. Some
of the greatest Norman houses sprang from kinsfolk of
wives or mistresses of the dukes, who were themselves
of very low degree. The Cotentin Avith the Channel
Islands seems to have been added in the time of the
second duke, William Longsword, about 927. It appears
that though the East Normans were Christians and spoke
French, the coast folk were mostly heathen and Scandi-

Richard the Fearless was the son of William by a
Breton mother, who stood in the doubtful relationship


called a Danish marriage. He reigned fifty years, then
there came a second, and a third Richard, and then a
Robert who was the father of our William the Con-

The Viking Rolf Ganger, the founder of the Norman
settlement, was one of that magnificent race of men of
the old North whom popular histories include in the
common name of Danes. They replunged into barbarism
the nations over which they swept ; but from their barbar-
ism they reproduced the noblest elements of civilisa-
tion, and were wonderfully pliable and malleable in their
admixtures Avith the peoples they overran. Frankes, the
Archbishop, baptized Rolf Ganger, and this is the reason
why the Normans lost their old names in their conversion
to Christianity,

Thus Charles the Simple insists that Rolf Ganger shall
change his creed and his name, and Rolf or Rou is
christened Robert, and within a little more than a century
afterwards the descendants of these terrible heathens,
who had spared neither priest nor altar, were the most
redoubtable defenders of the Christian Church, — their
old language forgotten save by a few in the town of
Bayeux, their ancestral names save amongst a few of the
noblest changed into French. And all the while in my
head runs " The Ballad of Rou "—

" From Blois to Senlis, wave by wave, roll'd on the Norman

And Frank on Frank went drifting down the weltering tide of

There was not left in all the land a castle wall to fire,
And not a wife but wailed a lord, a child but mourned a sire.
To Charles the King, the mitred monks, the mailed Barons

While, shaking earth, behind them strode the thunder march of



*0 King,* then cried these Barons bold, 'in vain are mace

and mail,
We fall before the Norman axe, as corn before the hail.'
'And vainly,' cried the pious monks, 'by Mary's shrine we

For prayers, like arrows, glance aside against the Norman steel.'
The Barons groaned, the shavelings wept, while near and

nearer drew.
As death-birds round their scented feast, the raven flags of

Rou. . . .

Psalm-chanting came the shaven monks, within the camp of

dread ;
Amidst his warriors, Norman Rou stood taller by the head ;
Out spoke the Frank Archbishop then, a priest devout and

sage :
'When peace and plenty wait thy word, what need of war and

Why waste a land as fair as aught beneath the arch of blue.
Which might be thine to sow and reap?' thus saith the

King to Rou.

' I'll give thee all the ocean coast, from Michael Mount to

And Gille, my fairest child, as bride, to bind thee fast and sure ;
If thou but kneel to Christ our God, and sheathe thy paynim

And hold thy land, the Church's son, a fief from Charles thy

The Norman on his warriors looked — to counsel they withdrew ;
The saints took pity on the Franks, and moved the soul of Rou.

So back he strode and thus he spoke to that Archbishop meek :
* I take the land thy King bestows, from Eure to Michael-peak,
I take the maid, foul or fair, a bargain with the coast ;
And for thy creed, a sea-king's gods are those that give the

most, —
So hie thee back and tell thy chief to make his proffer true.
And he shall find a docile son, and ye a saint in Rou.


So o'er the border stream of Epte came Rou the Norman, where,
Begirt with Barons, sat the King, enthroned at green St. Clair ;
He placed his hand in Charles' hand, — loud shouted all the

But tears were in King Charles' eyes, — the grip of Rou was strong.
' Now kiss the foot,' the Bishop said, — ' that homage still is

due' ;
Then dark the frown and stern the smile of that grim convert,


He takes the foot, as if the foot to slavish lips to bring :

The Normans scowl, he tilts the throne, and backwards falls

the King.
Loud laugh the joyous Norman men — pale stare the Franks

aghast ;
And Rou lifts up his head as from the wind springs up the

mast :
' I said I would adore a God, but not a mortal too,
The foot that fled before a foe let cowards kiss ! ' said Rou."

The people of Norway in general submitted to the
sway of Harald, and several of the petty Kings were
glad to become his earls and land-warders, but there
were proud, indomitable spirits both amongst the
peasants and the chieftains \vho disdained to be en-
thralled by him. Many repaired to Iceland, which had
been discovered by one Gardr at an early period of his
reign, and colonised it ; others betook themselves to the
Faroe and the Shetland and Orkney Isles, where they
formed piratical establishments ; others to the Sotherics
and Isle of Man, of all which islands they became masters
— thousands went to Ireland, where they founded Dublin.
Immense numbers, too, to that part of England which is
north of the Humber, which they entirely took possession
of. The elite, however, of the discontented Norsemen
repaired to France, a part of which they conquered and
occupied, and named after themselves Normandy, or the


land of the Normans, where, from the relations which
they formed with the women of the country, a race
sprang up which in course of time subdued England,
Naples, and Sicily, giving kings of the Norman race to
all three.

Harald's life after he had become monarch was
tolerably tranquil. Any insurrections against him he
speedily put down by means of his hirdlid, — an armed
force which he always kept about him, consisting of
about four hundred of the tallest and strongest fellows
whom he could induce to serve him. To these he was
very liberal in clothes, bracelets, armour, and coin ; but
it was said of him, during his life and long after his
death, that though he was free of gold he was rather
stingy of meat. He had several places of residence, but
his favourite one was Rogaland in Utstein.

He married Ragnhilda, daughter of the King of
Jutland. By this Ragnhilda he had Eirik, surnamed
Blood-axe, from his desperate deeds in war, to whom
he bequeathed the sceptre of Norway at his death. He
lived and died a believer in the religion of Odin, Thor,
and Frey — a religion of blood and horror — the votaries
of which held two great festivals in the year, one at
Yule or Midwinter, and the other at Haust or Harvest,
at which they drank ale and ate horse flesh in honour
of the gods. He was very fond of poetry, and generally
had several skalds about him, who sang his praises in
alliterative verse The achievement of Harald Harfagre
made itself apparent in the growing consciousness in the
mind of the nation that it constituted one people.

He died at the age of eighty -three, after having been
King seventy-three years, and absolute sovereign of
Norway about fifty-eight. He was a contemporary of
Alfred the Great, his son Edward, and his grandson


Athelstane, to the last of whom he sent his son Haakon
to be fostered. This child, born to him in his old age,
and who eventually became King of Norway, was the
first Christian ruler of that country.

Erik Blodoks (Bloody-axe) reigned but a short time,
having to yield the throne to his youngest brother
Haakon, who had been brought up in England by King
Athelstane, and was supported by the Tronders.

" Haakon was a good Christian when he came to
Norway ; but as all the land was heathen, and there was
much sacrificing and many chiefs, and he much needed
the help and friendship of the people, he decided to
conceal his Christianity, and kept Sundays, and fasting
on Fridays, and the greatest festivals. He made it a
law that the Yule should begin at the same time as
that of the Christians, and that every man should have
a certain measure of ale or pay a fine, and keep the
days holy while Yule lasted. It formerly began on
the mid-winter night, and it was kept for three nights.
He wanted to make the people Christians when he got
established in the land and had fully subjected it to
himself. He sent to England for a bishop and other
priests. When they came to Norway, Haakon made
known that he would try to Christianise the land."
{Haakon the Good's Saga : Fornmanna Sogiir^ i.)

Haakon's reign was marked by a series of meritorious
reforms. The old Thing Association of the Tronders
was extended by the union with it of several shires ;
and the common Thing place was now removed to
Frosta. The Orething, however, continued to exist as
well, and it came to have a special importance as the
place where the oath of allegiance to the Norwegian
Kings was taken. The defence of the country was also
now organised by the imposition of a levy which obliged


the yeomen in the coast districts to equip and man
warships. Haakon, who was honoured by his people
with the surname of The Good, fell in 961 while de-
fending his country against the sons of Erik Blodoks.
After the brothers had governed cruelly for nine years
the eldest of them, Harald Graafeld (Greyskin), was
assassinated in Denmark, whereupon the others were
obliged to yield to Earl Haakon, chief of the Tronders.
Baptized under compulsion, he remained a fanatical
heathen, and by cruelty alienated the affections of his
people. They rose against him, and he was murdered,
while fleeing, by a thrall who accompanied him.

Just at this time came Olaf Tryggvason, a descendant
of Harald Harfagre, who was immediately chosen King
by the Tronders. Olaf is one of the most brilliant
figures in Norwegian history ; after a romantic boyhood
he had distinguished himself as leader of a Viking army
that had ravaged England. Immediately before his

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