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The indignant people of Throndheim chose Hakon, surnamed the Jarl, the son of Sigurd, their leader, and frustrated the ambition of the sons of Gunillda. Many battles ensued it was at last settled that Hakon should enjoy Throndheim, and the other kings were to possess the rest of the dominions of Hakon the Good (1).
The future enmities between Hakon Jarl and the sons of Eric need not be detailed (2). They enabled Harald Blaatand to subject Norway, who sometimes was the friend, and sometimes was the enemy of Hakon Jarl (3). This prince, who has come down to us with a fame so eclipsed as to be called Hakon the Bad, became at last the monarch of Norway (4). After a life of great warlike exertions, he fell in his age, before a new competitor for the moveable crown; this was Olave the son of Tryggva. The aggressions of Olave on England connect his actions with the reign of Ethelred, and demand a corner in the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The little sketch will forcibly express the state of manners in these districts.
In 969, Tryggva his father suffered that death of violence (5) which usually closed the lives of those inhabitants of the north who stepped out of the path of industry into the adventures of heroism. His widow fled, pregnant with Olaf, and he was born on an island in the lake where she was concealed (6). In his childhood he was captured by Eastern pirates, and was sold. He was afterwards purchased and carried to Russia (7). He was there brought up by Waldemar, who employed him in his army.
Life of Olaf,
His favour declining, he quitted the Russian court, sailed to the Baltic, and settling in the isle of Bornholm, he began the dismal profession of a vikingr (8). After marrying a queen, on whose coast he landed, he commenced depredations on Scania and Gothland (9). On her death he extended the scene of his piracy, and Friesland, Saxony, and Flanders, mourned his visitations. From these the unwearied sea-king turned towards England, and attacked Northumbria. As fortunate as enterprising, he made Scotland,
(1) Snorre, p. 175.
(2) See Snorre, 175-184., and also his Saga af Olasi Tryggva, 195-203. Snorre adduces Ara Frode as an evidence on this subject.
(3) Snorre, 202, 203. 230.
(4) Snorre, 245. In Hakon's reign Greenland was discovered and colonised by the Icelanders. Eric the Red first saw and gave it that name, in hopes that a country with an epithet so pleasing might attract settlers. He found the traces of men both in the east and west regions, et assamenta fracta et lapidarum opera unde cognoscerent quod ejus generis ibi vixerunt qui Vinlandiam incoluerint et quos Islandi vocant Screlingos. Ara Frode, c. vi. p. 40.
(5) Snorre, p. 177. Island. Ann. 2 Langb. 189.
(7) Snorre, 192, 193. (9) Ibid. 215.
the Hebrides, Ireland, Wales, Cumbria, and Normandy, feel the exertions of his valour (1).
Great and ardent spirits are liable to be impressed by the peculiar and the interesting. Olaf, anchoring once off the Scilly isles, was converted to Christianity by the lessons of a hermit, whose age and seclusion had won from the rude population the fame of a seer (2).
But although this warrior was daring every danger that storms and battles could present, his rigid heart was found penetrable by the shafts of love. A princess of Dublin had promised her chiefs to choose a husband they assembled that she might select, and Olaf, though uninvited, joined the meeting. The movements of the tender passions are more eccentric than the wanderings of the heathy meteor. Clothed in rough garments, made to keep off rain, and wrapped in a hairy gown, the figure of Olaf was not the vision of a Cupid. But it was uncouth; and when Gyda's eye roved anxiously around, it arrested her notice: "Who are you?”— "Olaf, a stranger." It was enough; and if Snorre has not slandered the lady, love, instantaneous love, supplied every other explanation. With all the simplicity of rude nature, she exclaimed, "If you desire me for your wife, I will choose you for my husband."
Olaf was, however, less impetuous or less philosophical than the lady. He had the caution to enquire who she was, her name, and parentage: she declared her birth, and Olaf contemplated her again. She was young and beautiful. At last his tardy sensibility was kindled, and he became her husband, after conquering a rival (3).
The reputation of Olaf roused the crafty and cruel mind of Hakon the Bad, who sent a favourite to discover and to circumvent him (4). But Hakon's disorderly passions had offended the chiefs whose families he had dared to violate, and they were in insurrection against him, when Olaf, led by his pretended friend, was approaching Norway. Hakon had fled before the chiefs when Olaf landed. The Norwegians eagerly placed the crown on his ⚫ head, as a descendant of Harald Harfragre; and thus, in 995, Olaf became the monarch of Norway (5).
One of Olaf's most zealous occupations was to convert Norway. He proceeded, with his desire, from province to province, and at last accomplished it, but by methods repugnant to that freedom of mind which is man's dearest birthright, and as odious to the spirit and lessons of Christianity as the Paganism he abolished (6).
(2) Ibid. 223, 224.
(1) Snorre, 221, 222.
(3) Ibid. 225, 226.
(5) Ibid. 247–253. Hakon the Bad was killed in his hiding-place. I take the date from the Isl. Ann. 190.
(6) Snorre, 258-266. Among Olaf's Voyages, Snorre mentions his expedition to Vinland. As this was a country west of Greenland, it is obvious that the Nor
Ethelred is stated to have sent the archbishop of York and two priests to Sweden to convert the natives. Olaf was baptised by him (1).
Harald Harfragre had pursued the vikingr with a perseverance which promised to annihilate the custom, but on his death they flourished again. His son Eric, after his deposition, occupied his summers in depredations on the British islands to maintain his associates (2). In the reign of Edmund they again abounded, and made the Hebrides their resort (3). On Eric's death his sons passed their winters on the Orkney and Shetland isles, but devoted their summers to piracies on Scotland and Ireland (4). The Northern kings sometimes sailed against them with fleets of punishment to revenge aggressions on their own dominions. Thus Hakon the Good attacked cleven vikingr in Oresound, and hanged all those whom he met off Scania (5); but no combined system existed of repressing them. The practice, though from the rise of monarchies it was less frequent, had not yet excited the decided abhorrence of the northern society; therefore Harald Blaatand (6) of Denmark, and Tryggvi Gudrawd, and Harald Graffeld, three kings in Norway, indulged themselves in the practice (7).
Olaf the son of Tryggvi was a sort of new Ragnar Lodbrog, in the activity, extent, and success of his marauding exploits. Bornholm, Scania, Gothland, Friesland, Saxony, Flanders, Normandy, and all the British islands, suffered from his presence (8). The son of Hakon Jarl was a sea-king, whose summers were devoted to enterprises as fearless (9); but it is needless to multiply instances. The vikingr, who have been mentioned, were men of rank in their society, who flourished between 930 and 1000; and their habits show, that, notwithstanding the checks which the direful custom had experienced, it was again becoming prevalent and respectable.
But yet while piracy was revivifying, other habits were also growing up which were destined to destroy it.
The continuance of piracy had a tendency to preclude all traffic ; but wherever profit is seen to glitter, though danger guard every avenue, and the spectre of death even hovers over the path, men will hasten to tread it, and dare the chances of its evils. Rude as
Last stage of northern piracy.
wegians or their colonies discovered and settled in part of North America in this tenth century.
(1) Loce. Hist. S. p. 52., and Ver. Suio-Goth. p. 50.
(2) Snorre, p. 128.
(4) Tunc autem Orcades et Hialldtlandiam suæ ditionis fecere Eiriki filii, census nde percipientes, ibique per hyemes commorantes. Per æstates autem mare occidentale piratica infestum reddidere prædas agentes circa littora Scotiæ atque Hiberniæ. Snorre, p. 130.
(5) Sorre, p. 132. (8) See before.
(7) Snorre, 135-177.
(6) Saxo Grammat. 180.
the Northmen were in manners, arts, and virtues, they wanted commodities from each other, which the productive industry or resources of any one place could not supply. Hence skins for clothing were carried from Iceland to Norway (1). Fish, cattle, and corn, their food, were often, from partial famines, required to be interchanged (2). Hemp, or seal skins, or whale-hides, were needed for robes (3). Captives were to be sold, and, of course, slaves to be purchased (4); besides many articles of war and luxury.
The necessity of conveying from coast to coast the wanted commodities turned a part of society into merchants: their places of resort became noted. Thus Tunsberg in Norway was much frequented by merchant ships, which came to it not only from the adjoining Vikĭa, and the more northern regions, but from Denmark and Saxony (5). Birca in Sweden was another considerable emporium, in which vessels of merchandise came from all parts of the Baltic to acquire or to exchange the necessaries of life (6), though its wealth and excellent harbours perpetually invited depredations of the vikingr (7). Our Dublin was in those days much frequented for trade (8).
It was auspicious to the future predominance of civilized habits that commerce became honourable. This circumstance in such an age of general warfare is as remarkable as it was beneficial. Perhaps, the honour attached to commerce arose partly from the vikingr disposing of their spoils themselves, and partly from the necessity they felt for the objects of traffic. The merchants who ventured to sail through such ambushes of pirates could not at first have been very numerous, and this rarity gave them increased value, and even dignity. In time also kings became their patrons.
Commerce was, however, in such credit, that Biorn, prince of Westfold, the son of Harald Harfragre, became a merchant, and by his more warlike brothers was distinguished by that title (9). Others
(1) Snorre, 176.
(2) Thus the Scalld Eyvind, when a famine oppressed Norway, pecora emit familiæ sustentandæ necessaria. He sent his ships to purchase herrings, and for that purpose parted with his property, and even with his arrows. Snorre, 186.
(3) See Ohther's Voyage.
(4) Lodinus was a rich man. Accidit quadam æstate ut mercatum profectus Lodinus navi quæ ejus unius erat, mercibusque dives, cursum ad Esthoniam dirigeret, ubi per æstatem mercaturæ operam dedit. Dum celebrantur nundinæ ad quas comportatæ sunt merces omnis generis, ducti etiam multi homines venales, p. 256.
(5) Tunsbergam plurimæ tunc mercatoriæ frequentabant naves tam ex Vikia et borealibus regionibus Norwegiæ quam ex Dania et Saxonia. Snorre, 115.
(6) Adam. Brem. 18, 19. Helmoldus, p. 9. Rembert in 1 Langb. 444. (7) Bircani etiam piratarum excursionibus quorum ibi magna copia est, sæpius impregnati. Adam. Brem. 18.
(8) Hunc-jussit Hakonus Jarl Dublinum ire mercatorem, id quod plurimis tunc temporis frequens crat. Snorre, 246.
(9) Biorno regi suæ etiam erant naves mercatoriæ quæ in commeatu exteras ad regiones, varias res ingentis pretii et plura quæ necessaria videbantur illi adve
also, of illustrious ancestry, were traders, and are mentioned for the affluence acquired by it (1).
Traffic being thus respectable, it is no wonder that another circumstance arose which operated to suppress piracy. This was the remarkable fact, that the two professions of pirate and merchant came in many instances to be blended. The same persons were at one time roaming to plunder, at another voyaging to trade: thus the people of Vikia are described as very commercial, at the same time that many of them were vikingr (2). Thus the friend whom Hakon the Bad had selected to circumvent Olaf, the son of Tryggva, had been long a pirate, but he was also a merchant, and was employed to visit Dublin in that capacity (3). Thus Lodinus, though he had sometimes pirated, was a merchant, and in his mercantile character visited Estland (4). Biorn, surnamed the Trader, had also practised piracy (5). Thus the celebrated men of Jomsburg were as eminent for their commercial as for their depredatory activity. It was perhaps from their martial habits and equipments, arising from this alternation of pursuit, that merchants were enabled to combat with the pirates who attacked them (6). They sometimes secured the success of their defensive exertions by voyaging in companies.
When we read that the pirates seized every moveable commodity where they invaded, and destroyed by fire the habitations and growing produce of the field when they could not remove it; that part of the inhabitants they slew on the spot, and carried away the others for slaves, sharing them by lot (7) ; that of these captives they killed such as were too old for labour, and were therefore unsaleable (8) ; and that they exposed the others to the public market so unsparingly, that we find, at one time, a queen, pale, worn out with fa
hebant. Illum igitur Navigatorem aut Mercatorem (farmann eda Kaupmann) nominarunt ejus fratres. Snorre, 115.
(1) Snorre, 256, 257.
(2) Ipsi enim Vikverienses in mercatura erant frequentes in Angliam et Saxoniam aut in Flandriam, aut in Daniam : quidam autem piraticam exercebant, hyemes in Christianorum terris transigentes. Snorre Saga, Olaf's Helga, vol. ii. p. 71.
(3) Diu hic in piratica, interdum etiam in mercatura versatus. Snorre, vol. i. p. 240.
(4) Sæpe ille in mercatura versabatur, interdum etiam in piratica. Snorre, vol. i. p. 256.
(5) Biorno-in piratica parum frequens. Snorre, 115.
(6) Rembert, who lived in the tenth century, mentions a conflict of this sort. 1 Langb. 444. Snorre also mentions a merchant ship which endured a long conflict with a sea-king, vol. i. p. 215. So the Niala Saga says, "Piratis in Mercatores tela jacientibus, prælium oritur, hique se pulchre tutantur." Cello Scand. p. 83. This was in the year 992.
(7) Mare orientem versus sulcantes aggressi piratæ quidam Estenses homines captivos ducunt, bona diripiunt, occisis nonnullis, aliis quos inter se sortiti in servitutem abstractis. Snorre, vol. i. p. 192.
(8) Visus est Klercono æstate jam provectior Thoralfus quam ut servus esse posset, nec laboribus satis idoneus; quare eum occidit. Ibid.