Karsten Friis-Jensen (ed.), Oxford Medieval Texts: Saxo Grammaticus: Gesta Danorum: The History of the Danes, Vol. 1
fo.89v1.1.Olauus Gøtrici filius patre mortuo regnat.1 Hic paterne uindicte studio ciuilibus patriam bellis implicare sustinuit, publicam pietatem priuato affectui subiiciendo. Cuius extincti corpus collis Olaui titulo celeber prope Lethram congestus excepit.2
pg 6282.1.Huic succedit Hemmingus, cuius dignum memoratu opus non repperi, nisi quod pacem cum Cesare Ludouicoa iurisiurandi firmitate composuit.3 Et forte complura temporum eius insignia, quamquam preclara extiterint, uetustatis liuore teguntur.
3.1.Post hos Siuardusa cognomento Ring, quem eiusdem nominis pater, Noruagie dux, olim ex Gøtrici filia susceperat, Scanis Sialandisque fautoribus regnat. Nam consobrinus eius Ringo idemque Gøtrici nepos Iutiam occupabat. Igitur unius regni diuidua potestas tanquam utraque parte ob paruitatem ignobili non sperni modo, sed etiam lacessi ab exteris coepit. Quos Siuardus maiore odio, quam regni emulum insecutus,* peregrina bella ciuilibus preferendo quinquennio periculis patrie defensionem suam opponere perseuerauit. Elegit enim uulnus tolerare domesticum,* quo promptius sanaret externum.
3.2.Quamobrem Ringo ⟨potiende⟩b dominationis eius occasione suscepta uniuersum imperii ius in seipsum transferre conatus foris excubias peragentem intus lacerare sustinuit. Prouincias siquidem, que ab ipso possidebantur, inuadens communis patrie defensionem ingrata mente pensabat. Igitur ex Sialandicis quidam Siuardi studiosiores, quo synceriorem absenti fidem gererent, filium eius Regnerum uixdum cunis erutum regis nomine censuerunt,4 non quod ipsum regimini pg 630intempestiuum nescirent, sed ut tanti pignoris ductu aduersum Ringonem torpentium sociorum animos excitarent. Audiens autem Ringo Siuardum interim ab expeditione regressum Sialandenses magna manu petitos, ni se dederent, ferro perituros edixit.
3.3.At Sialandici, quibus aut rubor aut periculum imperabatur, uiribus ob paucitatem diffisi deliberande rei inducias poposcerunt. Quibus impetratis, quum nec Siuardi gratiam colere liberum* nec Ringonis amplecti uideretur honestum, diu inter metum pudoremque solliciti iactabantur. Qua in re ne senibus quidem consilio suppetente Regnerus tunc forte concioni presens: 'Breuis', inquit, 'arcus subito spiculum iacit. Ego uero, tametsi puerili ausu maiorum ora precurrere uidear, ignoscendum erratis ueniamque immature editis precor. Verum prudentie monitor, tametsi despicabilis uideatur, respuendus non est. Docili* quippe animo sorbenda est utilium disciplina. At quoniam ut desertores ac transfugas notari turpe, ita supra uires audere temerarium est et utrobique par culpa subesse conuincitur, simulata transitione petendus est hostis, idemque, quum primum facultas obuenerit, opportuna desertione linquendus. Satius ergo erit aduersarii iram obsequii figmento precurrere quam negatione eundem in nosmetipsos acrius incessendos armare. Quid enim fortioris imperium detrectantes agimus, nisi quod ipsi in iugulum nostrum arma sponte prestamus? Sepe inuolutioribus studiis efficacissima fo.90rfraus alitur. Astu illaqueanda | est uulpes.'
3.4.Cuius consilii* salubritate et fluctuantium ciuium* cunctationem discussit et hostilibus castris noxium robur adiecit. Concio quoque infantie eius non facundiam minus quam ingenium mirans egregie indolis decretum habitu annorum excellentius cupide amplexata est. Nec rubori fuit defectis consilio* senibus puerilibus obsequi monitis, que quamquam a teneroc manassent, integerrimo discipline pondere redundabant. Auctorem uero consilii instanti periculo obiicere ueriti educationis gratia Noruagiam transtulerunt. Breui post conserta pugna pg 632Ringonem Syuardus aggreditur. Quo occiso ipse immedicabili plaga perstrictus paucis interiectis diebus ex uulnere decessit.
4.1.aCui Regnerus in regnum succedit.a Quo tempore rex Suetie Frø interfecto Noruagiensium rege Syuardo coniuges necessariorum eius prostibulo relegatasb publice constuprandas exhibuit. Quo Regnerus audito auite ultionis studio Noruagiam petiuit. Eo ueniente matrone complures, que corporum suorum ludibria aut nuper passec fuerant aut in proximo pudicitie periculum uerebantur, uiriliter culte cupide castris eius adproperare coeperunt, profitentes se fatum contumelie prelaturas. Nec erubuit futurus muliebris* improperii uindex aduersum auctorem turpitudinis, quarum ignominiam ulcisci uenerat, auxiliad mutuari.
4.2.Inter quas affuit et Lathgertha, perita bellandi foemina, que uirilem* in uirgine animum gerens immisso humeris capillitio prima inter promptissimos dimicabat. Cuius incomparabilem operam admirantibus cunctis—quippe cesaries tergo inuolare conspecta foeminam esse prodebat—Regnerus aui interfectore prostrato de puella, quam in acie preuiam prenotauerat, commilitones plurimum percontatus est, unius foemine uiribus uictoriam sibi constitisse professus. Quam quum illustri* inter barbaros loco natam cognouisset, per internuntios procari perstitit.
4.3.Illa legatione tacite spreta consensum simulat. Cumque datis fallaciter responsis anhelanti proco potiendi uoti fidutiam attulisset, adiectum urso canem in edis sue uestibulo religari precepit, contra omne amatoris studium per obiectas belluas proprium tutatura conclaue. Regnerus uero fauorabili nuntio recreatus nauigium scandit, emensusque fretum comitibus apud Gølerdal—id ualli nomen est—subsistere iussis solitarius puelle penates accedit. Vbi exceptuse a belluis alteram telo traiicit, alteram faucibus apprehensam obtorto gutture strangulauit, uirginemque uicti periculi premium habuit. Ex cuius matrimonio geminis filiabus, quarum nomina memorie prodita non sunt, filioque Fridleuo susceptis triennium feriatus est.
pg 6344.4.Cuius ob recentes nuptias reditu desperato Iuti, gens insolens, Scanis in societatem contractis Sialandos, qui Regneri fidem propensiori charitate colebant, bello lacessere tentant. Quo comperto Regnerus tricenas instruit puppes, uentisque nauigationi parentibus Scanos apud Whitebyf uicum bellum ausos obtriuit, exactaque hyeme cum Iutis prope Lymfiorthinumg eius regionis fretum habitantibus secundis euentibus dimicauit. Tertio item ac quarto Scanis Hallandisqueh foelici auspicio domitis, in Thoram Herothi regis filiam nuptiarum amore conuerso, sibi ac Lathgerthe repudium interiecit. Damnabat enim coniugis fidem, quam olim in perniciem suami summe ferocitatis belluas admouisse meminerat.
4.5.Interea rex Sueonum Herothus syluas forte uenatione complexus repertas a comitibus angues filie detulit nutriendas. Illa fo.90vpaterno ocyus obsecuta precepto | uipereum genus uirgineis manibus educare sustinuit. Quinetiam* cure habuit, ut integrum bouis cadauer earum quotidie satietati suppeteret, ignorans se priuato pabulo publicam sustentare perniciem. Que quum adulte pestilentissimo halitu uiciniam urerent, rex inertis opere poenitens potiturum filia, qui pestem amouisset, edixit. Quo non minori fortitudinis quam libidinis incitamento frequens iuuentus adducta periculosam inaniterj operam erogabat.
4.6.Cuius rei summam Regnerus ab intermeantibus expertus laneum a nutrice sagulum uillosaque admodum foemoralia, quibus inflictos anguium morsus elideret, expetiuit. Nam ut munimenti gratia referto pilis cultu utendum credidit, ita agilitatis causa tractabilem sumpsit. Cumque nauigio Suetiam appulisset, incidente gelu aquis de industria corpus iniecit humefactamque uestem, quo minus penetrabilis redderetur, brume durandam prebuit. Qua amictus salutatos comites ad fidem Fridleuo seruandam hortatus solus pg 636procedit ad regiam. Qua uisa ensem lateri nectens dextre telum inserit amentatum.
4.7.Procedenti inusitate magnitudinis obuius allabitur serpens. Huic alter granditate par priorisque prolapsum insecutus arrepsit. Qui iuuenem modo caude* uoluminibus quatere, modo pertinaci uomitu ac ueneno conspuere decertabant.k Interea aulici tutiora complexi latibula perinde ac pauentes puellule rem eminus inspectabant. Ipse rex pari metu perterritus in angustum cum paucis conclaue refugerat. At Regnerus gelati cultus duritie fretus non armis modo, sed etiaml amictu uirulentos frustrabatur assultus, solusque duarum rictum pertinaci spiritu uirus in se profundentium infatigabili congressione sustinuit. Quippe morsus clypeo, uenenum* ueste respuit. Ad ultimum excussum manu telum strenue incessentium se beluarum corporibus* adigit, eoque utriusque precordia lacerans foelicem pugne euentum* habuit.
4.8.Cuius cultum rex curiosius contemplatus, quum hirtum atque hispidum animaduertisset, precipue tamen occidue uestis horrorem maximeque incomptam braccharum speciem eludens, Lothbrog5 eum per ludibrium agnominauit. Quem etiam ut ex laboribus recrearet, cum amicis epulaturum accersit. Ille prius reuisendos sibi, quos reliquerat, arbitros aiebat profectusque eosdem future epulationis gratia nitidius cultosm adducit. Ac demum peracto conuiuio prefixum uictorie pignus accepit. Ex qua Rathbarthumn Dunwatumque,o egregie* indolis pignora, procreauit. Hisdem Syuardus, Biornus, Agnerus Iuarusque naturap fratres adiecti sunt.
4.9.Interea Iuti ac Scani insopibili* seditionis face succensi abrogato Regneri titulo Haraldo cuidam rerum contribuunt summam. Aduersum quos Regnerus legatis Noruagiam missis quum amica precaretur auxilia, Lathgertha pristini amoris pertinaciore haustu exuberans cum uiro ac filio nauigationem arripuit. Centum ac uiginti nauium classem ei, a quo olim repudio acta fuerat, exhibere sustinuit. Qui etiam uniuerse opis egenum se iudicans ab omni etate presidium* mutuari pg 638curauit, robustisque imbecilles agglomerans fortium cuneis senum puerorumque partes inserere non erubuit.
4.10.Igitur apud campum, qui Latialiter Laneus dicitur,6 in primis Scanorum res obterere orsus graue cum factiosis bellum habuit. Vbi Iuarus septimum agens annum insigni pugna edita puerili corpore grandeuum robur exercuit. Syuardus uero, dum hosti uim aduerso corpore ingerit, humi collapsus pronoq uulnus excepit. Que res inspectantibus sociis grauissimam circunspiciende fuge solicitudinem attulit nec Syuardum modo, sed et omnia fere Regnerice partis arma deiecit. Verum hunc attonitarum mentium lapsum Regnerus uirili opera hortatuque firmauit paratosque uinci* uictoriam conari perpulit.
4.11.Lathgertha quoque teneris membris incomparabilem sortita fo.91rspiritum | trepidantis militie studium specioso fortitudinis exemplo correxit.r Militari namque discursu inopinatorum terga circumuolans socialem metum in hostilia castra conuertit. Ad ultimum laxata Haraldi acie atque ipso per summam suorum stragem fugato, quum domum ex acie reuertisset, spiculo, quod toga occultauerat, noctu mariti iugulum attentauit totiusque potentie eius ac nominis summam inuasit. Insolentissimus namque foemine spiritus absque uiro regnum gerere quam fortune eius communicare iocundius duxit.
4.12.Interea Syuardus oppido, quod in uicinia erat, allatus curandum medicis corpus prebebat. Quibus ad summam usque desperationem* prouectis, dum uulneris immanitas adhibita fomentorum genera frustraretur, quidam stupenda magnitudine7 egri lectulum adire conspectus, si sibi illorum quos armis oppressurus foret animas dedicasset, protinus incolumitate gauisurum promittit. Nec nomine quidem suppresso Rostarums se dici subiunxit. Animaduertens autem Syuardus paruule promissionis impendio ingens comparari beneficium posse petitist cupide paruit. Tunc senex attrectate tabis liuorem repentino manus auxilio dispulit subitamque uulneri cicatricem pg 640intendit. Postremo pupillas eius puluere perfundens abiit. Qui maculis repente coortis eximiam uermiculorum similitudinem obstupescentibus oculis ingenerauit. Crediderim huius miraculi auctorem futuram iuuenis seuitiam euidentiori luminum testimonio prodere uoluisse, ne perspicacior corporis pars sequentis uite presagio uacua maneret. Quem anus, que potionibus* eius preerat, uermiculatas ore notas preferre conspiciens inusitato iuuenis horrore permota subito* lapsu decidens linqui animo coepit. Quo euenit, ut Syuardo serpentini oculi uulgatum late cognomen accederet.
4.13.Interea nuptam Regneri Thoram uiolentus morbi casus absumpsit, eaque res amantissimo coniugis uiro infinitam egritudinis molestiam peperit. Quam optime negotio discutiendam ratus solatium ab exercitio mutuari doloremque labore temperare constituit. Militiam itaque detrahende egritudinis pariendique solaminis gratia meditatus statuit, ut unusquisque paterfamilias, quem inter liberos contemptissimum duceret aut si quem pigrioris opere ac minus spectate fidei seruum haberet, stipendia sibi meriturum offerret. Quod edictum, tametsi parum proposito competens uideretur, inualidissimos Danice gentis aliarum nationum fortissimis prestare docuit magnumque iuuentuti profectum attulit, delectis certatim socordie notam abstergere cupientibus.
4.14.Preterea, ut omnis controuersiarum lis semotis actionum instrumentis nec accusantis impetitione nec rei defensione admissa duodecim patrum approbatorum iudicio mandaretur, instituit. Cuius legis beneficio temeraria litium contractione summota improborum calumnie sufficienter obuiatum existimans arma in Britanniam erexit, regemque eius Hamam, Helle nobilissimi iuuenis8 patrem, pugna perstrictum occidit. Inde Scotie ac Petie insularumque, quas Australes uel Meridianas uocant,9 ducibus interfectis Syuardou ac Rathbartho filiis uacuas gubernatore prouincias in potestatem addixit. Noruagiam quoque principe suo uiolenter exutam Fridleuo parere pg 642precepit eundemque Orchadibus proprio duce defectis preferre curauit.
4.15.Interea Danorum quidam pertinacioris erga Regnerum odii obstinatis ad rebellandum animis Haraldi10 quondam profugi partibus aduoluti prostratam tyranni fortunam attollere conati sunt. Qua temeritate insolentissimos* belli ciuilis aduersum regem spiritus excitauerunt externisque liberum domesticis implicuere periculis. Ad quos constringendos Regnerus cum insularium Danorum classe fo.91vprofectus rebellium agmen elisit Haraldumque, | superati exercitus ducem, fuga in Germaniam actum honorem improbe partum impudenter abiicere compulit. Captiuos quoque simplici morte afficere non contentus tortos necare maluit, ut, qui ad deserendam impietatem adduci non poterant, ne spiritum quidem nisi per summam poenarum uiolentiam deponere sinerentur. Ceterum latifundia eorum, qui cum Haraldo profugerant, secum stipendia peragentibus partitus est, eo patres punitiores iudicans, quod ad liberos, quos suo iudicio repulissent, charioribus patrimonio spoliatis honorem hereditatis sue translatum uiderent.
4.16.Sed ne sic quidem ultionis satietate perfusus, insuper Saxoniam, quod eam asylum hostium Haraldique profugium crederet, oppugnare constituens implorato filiorum auxilio Karolum tunc forte illis imperii sui finibus immorantem offendit.11 Cuius quum interceptis uigilibus preiectas fefellisset excubias atque ob hoc cetera factu leuia duceret conatuque promptiora speraret, subito diuina futuri muliercula, tanquam celeste quoddam oraculum aut diuine uoluntatis interpres, salutari regem predictione permonuit aduentantisque periculi malum foelici uaticinio precucurrit, Syuardi classem ad Sighniniv fluminis fauces appulisse denuntians. Imperator attente accepto monitu hostilem interpretatus aduentum significatos sibi barbaros pugne oppositu constringendos curauit. Qua in Regnerum habita non pg 644similiter, ut discriminis cautelam hausit, belli actum impleuit. Itaque infatigabilis ille totius pene Europe domitor serenissimis amplissimisque uictoriis tantam terrarum partem emensus tot ciuitatum, tot gentium uictorem exercitum auersis bello pectoribus unius prouincie paruula manu profligatum aspexit.12
4.17.Cumque Regnerus oneratis tributo Saxonibus de morte Herothiw certum e Suetia nuntium accepisset liberosque suos Sorli, suffecti regis, calumnia auitis bonis exutos cognosceret, Biorni, Fridleui atque Rathbarthi collegium apprecatus—nam Regnaldus, Withsercus et Ericus, quos ex Suanlogha13 progenuerat, nondum habilem armis etatem impleuerant—Suetiam petiit. Cui occurrens cum exercitu Sorlus, publice an priuatim dimicandi optione facta, singularem deligenti conflictum Scarthum,x spectate audacie pugilem, cum septena filiorum manu ex prouocatione* pugnaturum admouit. Cum quibus Regnerus tribus filiis in certaminis societatem assumptis utroque exercitu inspectante congressus agone uictor excessit. Biornus uero, quod integer hosti cladem ingesserat, tanquam a ferrei lateris firmitate sempiternum usurpauit agnomen.14 Qua uictoria Regnerus omnis periculi superandi fidutiam nactus Sorlum cum uniuersis, quas ductauerat, copiis impetitum occidit.
4.18.Cumque Biorno ob conspicue* fortitudinis meritum Suetica prelatione donato aliquanto bellorum interstitio quieuisset, cuiusdam forte muliercule* amantior factus, quo promptiorem sibi potiende eius aditum* strueret, patrem ipsius amplissimo beneficentie cultu officiosissime captandum curauit. Sepe enim numero accersitum ad epulas plurimey comitatis officiis prosequebatur. Nam et uenientem assurgendi* reuerentia discumbentemque proximo sibi consessu ueneratus est. Sepe etiam donis, interdum benignissimo recreauit pg 646alloquio. Qui quum tante honorationis causam a nullo suo merito profectam animaduerteret, cogitatione uarie deflexa ex amore filie sue tantamz principis liberalitatem descendisse cognouit, libidinosum* propositum humanitatis nomine colorantis. Quam, ut exactissimum amantis ingenium frustraretur, tanto impensius obseruandam curauit, quanto eam latentioribus studiis ac peruicacioribusa modis ambiri comperit. Verum Regnerus certissimo consensus eius nuntio recreatus uillam, in qua asseruabatur, accessit nihilque amori inuium putans in uicino quendam rustice* uite solitarius hospitio petiit. Mane fo.92rcommutata | cum foeminis ueste amice laneum opus explicanti muliebriter* cultus astitit uirgineoque operi rudes artificii manus callide, ne proderetur, admouit. Nocte uero uotis uirginem amplexatus indulsit.
4.19.Cumque maturescente partu temerate pudicitie facinus tumidiore puelle gremio proderetur, incertus pater, cui se filia polluendam dedisset, ignoratum stupri auctorem ex ipsa maxime cognoscere perseuerauit. Qua se neminem preter pedissequam lecti participem habuisse pertinacius affirmante rem regi cognoscendam mandauit. Ille insontem famulam inusitata criminatione notari non sustinens proprii sceleris professione aliene innocentie fidem facere non erubuit. Qua humanitate et muliebris calumnie partes reppulit et, ne ridiculus rumor apud improbas aures sereretur, effecit. Preterea gignendum ex ea filium sui sanguinis esse, quodque eum Vbbonem15 nuncupari uellet, adiecit. Qui quum aliquatenus excreuisset, tenere etatis ingenio mature discretionis habitum apprehendit. Matris enim dilectionem, quod excellenti se thoro miscuisset, amplexus uenerationem patris, quod ad obscuriorem iusto copulam descendisset, abiecit.
4.20.Post hec Regnerus expeditionem in Hellesponticos parans uocataque Danorum concione saluberrimas se populo leges laturum promittens ut unusquisque paterfamilias, sicut ante, quem minimi inter liberos duxerat, militaturum exhiberet,b ita tunc ualentioris opere filium aut probatioris fidei seruum armaret, edixit. Quo facto omnibus, quos cex Thorac procreauerat, filiis preter Vbbonem pg 648assumptis Hellespontum eiusque regem Dian uariis contusum bellis lacessendo perdomuit. Ad ultimum eundem creberrimis discriminibus implicatum extinxit.
4.21.Cuius filii Dian et Daxon olim Rutheni regis filias maritali sorte complexi impetratis a socero copiis ardentissimo spiritu paterne uindicte negotium rapuerunt. Quorum Regnerus immensum animaduertens exercitum diffidentia copiarum habita equos eneos ductilibus rotulis superpositos ac uersatilibus curriculis circumductos in confertissimos hostes maxima ui exagitari precepit. Que res tantum ad laxandam aduersariorum aciem ualuit, ut uincendi spes magis in machinamento quam milite reposita uideretur. Cuius intolerabilis moles, quicquid impulit, obruit. Altero ergo ducum interfecto, altero fuga sublapso uniuersus Hellesponticorum cessit exercitus. Scithe quoque Daxon arctissimo* materni sanguinis uinculo contingentes eodem obtriti discrimine referuntur. Quorum prouincia Withserco attributa Ruthenorum rex parum uiribus fidens formidolosa Regneri arma fuga precurrere maturauit.
4.22.At Regnerus ceteris prompta sibi deditione substratis, quum quinquennem propemodum piraticam expleuisset, Biarmos nuper deuictos inualida subiectionis fide palam imperium detrectantes inuenit. Qui quum aduentum eius compertum haberent, carminibus aggressi celum sollicitatas nubes ad summam usque nymborum uiolentiam impulerunt. Que res Danos aliquamdiu nauigatione prohibitos alimentorum* facultate defecit. Eosdem quoque subito remissa tempestate estuosissimi feruoris* flagrantia torruit. Nec ea quidem pestis concitati frigoris magnitudine tolerabilior extitit. Itaque anceps gemine intemperantie malum uicissim affecta corpora immoderata utriusque status accessione corrupit. Ceterum laxi uentris profluuium complurimos exanimauit. Ita Danorum plerique dubia celi qualitate conclusi passim obortad corporum pestilentia decesserunt.
4.23.Cumque se Regnerus adulterina magis quam uera aeris ui prepeditum animaduerteret, utcumque nauigatione producta in Curorum Semborumque regionem accessit. Qui maiestatem eius perinde atque honoratissimi uictoris amplitudinem impensius pg 650uenerati sunt. Quo beneficio rex magis aduersus Biarmorum fo.92vinsolentiam efferatus sprete maiestatis sue uindictam | inopinato petiuit assultu. Quorum ignoti nominis rex subitanea hostium irruptione perculsus simulque conserende* cum ipsis manus fidutia uacuus Matullum Finmarchie ducem perfugio petiit. Cuius peritissima sagittariorum opera fretus Regneri apud Biarmiam hiberna peragentem impune lacerauit exercitum.
4.24.Quippe Finni lubricorum stipitum celeri allapsu cursum intendere soliti arbitraria uelocitatis potentia rapiuntur promptissimamque propinquitatis uel absentie facultatem obtinere creduntur. Mox enim ut hostem leserunt,e eadem celeritate, qua subeunt, auolant nec procursu languidius reditum tentant. Itaque et uehiculorum et corporum agilitate instandi fugiendique expertissimam obtinent potestatem. Credendum est tunc Regnerum fortune sue imbecillitatem admiranter tulisse, quum se, olim Romani culminis triumphatorem,16 ab inermi inconditoque agmine ad ultimum usque discrimen abripi peruideret. Itaque, qui splendidissimum Romane militie decus maximique ac serenissimi ducis insignes copias excellenter obtriuerat, agrestis et ignobilis uulgi sordidissimo atque tenuissimo apparatui cessit, isque, cuius bellicam antea claritatem fortissime gentis uis hebetare nequiuerat, despicabilis populi paruulam manum sustinere non ualuit.
4.25.Quo euenit, ut ea manu, qua clarissimam orbis pompam ac grauissimum militaris roboris instrumentum fortissime contudit, qua tot peditum, tot castrorum, tanti equitatus* fragorem apertissime subruit, uilem obscuramque plebeculam furtim et quasi per latrocinium incessere sustineret illustremque gloriam suam palam atque interdiu partam nocturna fallacia maculare non erubesceret, manifeste fortitudinis loco clandestinas* amplexatus insidias. Que res ut opere deformis, ita exitu utilis fuit. Nec Finnorum quam Caroli fuga parcius gratulatus est, plus se uirium in nudissima plebe quam in instructissimo milite repperisse confessus. Siquidem grauissimam Romanorum armaturam quam leuia pannose gentis spicula tolerabilius ferre potuit. Vbi Biarmorum rege interfecto, Finnorum uero pg 652fugato Regnerus saxis rerum gestarum apices pre se ferentibus hisdemque superne locatis eternum uictorie sue monimentum affixit.
4.26.Interea Vbbo per auum suum Hesbernum17 ad sacrilegam regni cupiditatem adductus abiecta paterni respectus uerecundia capiti suo regium arrogauit insigne. Cuius quum Regnerus insolentiam ex Suetie ducibus Kelthero Thorkilloque cognosceret, Gothiam uersus preproperef nauigationem exercuit. Quos Hesbernus Regneri partibus singulari fide deuinctos expertus premio sollicitatos regis desertores efficere laborabat. Illi non flexo e sententia proposito ex Biorni arbitrio suum consistere retulerunt, confessi Sueonum neminem, quod ab eius placito destitisset, ausurum. Nec segniter ipsum Hesbernus benignissimis legatorum alloquiis captauit. Qui se perfidie quam bone fidei propiorem fore denegans piissimi patris amori improbissimi fratris gratiam anteferri perquam nefarium iudicabat. In ipsos uero legatos perinde ac grauissimi criminis hortatores laqueo animaduertit. Sueti quoque de reliqua legatorum turba pari clade noxie exhortationis poenas sumpserunt.
4.27.Igitur Hesbernus occulto clandestinoque paratui parum prosperum ratus constare progressum, adcitis palam copiis manifeste procurrit ad bellum. At prefectus Iutie Iuarus neutram sacrilege pugne partem pietati propinquam autumans impium bellum uoluntario precucurrit exilio. Regnerus uero Hesbernum apud sinum, qui Latialiter Viridis appellatur,18 aggressus occidit, exanimisque abscisumg caput prora excipi mandans terribile factiosis spectaculum edidit.
4.28.Vbbo uero profugio usus iterumqueh patrem reuocato apud Sialandiam bello adortus, dum laxata suorum acie undique solus impetitur, tantum aduersi agminis fudit, ut hostilium cadauerum fo.93rexcremento perinde ac munitione firmissima circumactus | facile prouocantium inhiberet accessum. Ad ultimum frequentioribus hostium globis obfusus comprehensusque publicis uinculis* onerandus abstrahitur. At ille immensa ui extricatis recisisquei catenis pg 654inditos sibi nexus disiicere ac lacerare adorsus nullis obiectumj modis effugerek potuit. At ubi Iuarus tumultum patrie factiosi supplicio discussum comperit, Daniam petiit. Quem Regnerus, quod inter seuissimas parricidiorum procellas integerrimum se pietatis cultorem gesserat, amplissima ueneratione suscepit.
4.29.Interea Daxon Withsercum Scithiel principantem diu nequicquam superare conatus tandem fictem pacis commento circumuentum aggreditur. Conuiuialiter ab eo exceptus armatum subornauit exercitum, qui simulata mercatione in urbem rhedis aduectus hospitis domum nocturno laceraret assultu. Cuius latrocinii manum tanta Withsercus strage perculit, ut hostilium corporum cumulo circumfusus nisi scalis superne admotis comprehendi nequiret. Duodecim quoque comites eius pariter ab hoste capti facta sibi repetende patrie potestate deuotis* pro rege capitibus alienum participare periculum quam suum abiicere maluerunt.
4.30.At Daxon egregie Withserci forme miseratione permotus orientem speciosissime indolis florem conuellere passus non est. Cui non tantum salutem, sed et filiam dimidio regni sui dotatam in matrimonium obtulit ac decori incolumitatem quam fortitudini poenam afferre maluit. Ille uero precarie uite usum animi magnitudine floccipendens impunitatem perinde atque paruulum aliquod beneficium respuit, mortis sententiam sua sponte complexus, prefatus Regnerum uindictamn filii remissius exacturum, si eum in eligendo mortis genere proprio usum arbitrio comperisset. Cuius temeritatem ammiratus hostis ea fati specie, qua ipse in se animaduertisset, consumendum esse promittit. Quam libertatem iuuenis ingentis beneficii loco suscipiens uinctum se cum sociis cremari petiuit. Nec segniter Daxon auidis fati precibus obsecutus pro beneficio optate mortis supplicium erogauit.
pg 6564.31.Quo audito Regnerus obstinato ad moriendum* luctu non modo moerorem induit, uerum et per summam* animi egritudinem lectulo corpus affixit doloremque* conceptum gemitu patefecit. Quem coniunx uirilem supergressa fidutiam imbecillitatis increpitum uirili adhortatione firmauit reuocatumque a moerore animum arma impensius celebrare perdocuit, affirmans fortissimum patrem cruentos filii cineres iustius armis quam lachrymis expiaturum. Monuit quoque, ne muliebriter lugens tantum sibi ignominie fletu pareret, quantum antea claritatis uirtute contraxerat. Ad hanc uocem ueritus Regnerus, ne pristinos fortitudinis titulos effoeminato moerore contereret, discusso moestitie habitu depositisque* doloris insignibus promptissima uindicte spe iacentem reuocauit audaciam. Adeo interdum ab inualidis fortia roborantur ingenia.
4.32.Iuaro ergo regni tutelam deferens Vbbonemque pristine gratie redditum paterna charitate complectens traiecta in Rusciam classe comprehensum Daxon catenarumque poena coercitum apud Vtgarthiam19 custodieo* relegauit. Siquidem tunc Regnerum aduersus charissimi filii interfectorem clementissima animi* moderatione usum esse constabat, cum ad concupite ultionis satietatem exilium sontis quam necem sufficere maluit. Qua quidem* humanitate magnus Ruthenis iniectus est rubor ulterius aduersus eum seuiendi regem, quem ne iniuriarum quidem acerbitate ad infligendam captiuis mortem impellere potuerunt.p Eundem quoque Regnerus breui in gratiam reductum patrie reddidit, pollicentem se ei annuaq nudatum pedes cum duodecim patribus discalciatis suppliciter tributa fo.93vpensurum. Enimuero in captiuum | ac supplicem leniter animaduertere quam cruentam* securim distringere superbamque ceruicem sedulo mulctare seruitio quam semel elidere satius duxit.
4.33.Inde profectus filium suum Ericum uentosi pillei cognomen habentem20 Suetie prefert. Vbi Fridleuo atque Siuardo apud se stipendia merentibus Normannos Scotosque duobus aliis falso regis pg 658nomen arrogasse comperiens in primis Noruagice rei usurpatorem sustulit eamque Biorno fruendam tradidit. Deinde eo atque Erico accitis Orcades populatus ad ultimum Scotorum finibus appulit eorumque regem Murial triduano exhaustum prelio interfecit. Verum filii eius Dunuatr atque Rathbarthus pugna spectabiliter edita ab hoste necati sanguine suo cruentam patri uictoriam pepererunt.
4.34.Cumque in Daniam reuersus coniugem Suanlogam interim morbo cognouisset absumptam, protinus sollicitudini remedium solitudine quesiuit egreque mentis luctum intra penatium suorum claustra cohibere passus non est. Verum hanc moeroris* acerbitatem Iuari21 regno pulsi repentinus detraxit aduentus. Quippe Galli22 fugato eo in Hellam quendam Hamonis filium falsam regis contulerant potestatem. Quo duce Regnerus perinde atque locorum perito usus eductas classe portum, qui Noruicust appellatur, accessit, ubi expositis copiis Hellam Gallicana uirtute subnixum post extractam in triduum pugnam fuge amantem effecit, eaque res creberrimo Anglorum, rarissimo Danorum sanguine constitit.
4.35.Cumque ibidem Regnerus annum uictor explesset, consequenter excitis in opem filiis Hiberniam petit occisoque eius rege Melbricou Duflinamv barbaris opibus refertissimam obsedit, oppugnauit wac cepit.w Ibique annuo statiuis habitis Mediterraneum fretum pernauigans ad Hellesponticum penetrauit, interiecta regionum spacia clarissimis emensus uictoriis continue felicitatis progressum nusquam interpellante fortuna.
4.36.Inter hec Haraldus23 quorundam astipulatione Danorum Regneri militiam languidiore studio comitantium recidiuos patrie tumultus incutiens regii nominis usurpator emersit. Qui Regneri ab Hellesponto redeuntis armis exceptus, cum rebus infeliciter gestis exhausta domestice opis presidia animaduerteret, Lodouicumx pg 660Maguntie constitutum auxilia petiturus accessit. At Lodouicus summo amplificande* religionis ardore confertus conditionem barbaro intulit, opem spondendo, si Christi cultum exsequi consensisset. Nullam enim posse aiebat animorum interuenire concordiam dissona sacra complexis. Quamobrem petitorem opis primum religionis contubernio opus habere, neque magnorum operum consortes* existere posse, quos superne uenerationis formula disparasset. Qua sententia et salutem hospiti et sibi pietatis preconium peperit. Haraldum enim solenni lauacro usum consequenter Saxonicis roborauit auxiliis.
4.37.Quibus is fretus in territorio Slesuicensi dicandam deo edem sollicita moliebatur impensa.24 Hic itaque sanctissimi tenoris specimen a Romanis ritibus mutuatus profanato perfidorum errore delubra diruit, uictimarios proscripsit, flaminium abrogauit atque incondite patrie Christianismi sacra primus intulit, reiectoque demonum cultu diuinum* emulatus est. Supremo, quicquid ad custodiam* religionis attinuit, scrupulosissima cura seruauit. Sed non tam efficaciter quam pie rem auspicatus est. Superueniens enim Regnerus inductaque per eum sacra temerans uera religione proscripta pristino adulterinam loco restituit ac suo cerimonias honore donauit. Haraldus uero profugus fortunam ad sacrilegium transtulit. Nam ut precipuum inchoate religionis specimen, ita primum neglecte spectaculum fuit atque ex splendido sanctitatis auctore infamis eiusdem desertor euasit.
4.38.Interea Hella ad Hibernosy collatus omnes, qui se Regnero propiore fide deuinxerant, ferro suppliciisque mulctauit. Quem fo.94rRegnerus classe adortus | iusta omnipotentis animaduersione* manifestas detracte* religionis poenas pependit. Comprehensus enim atque in carcerem coniectus noxios artus colubris consumendos aduertit atque ex uiscerum suorum fibris tristem uiperis alimoniam prebuit. Cuius adeso* iocinore, cum cor ipsum funesti carnificis* loco coluber obsideret, omnem operum suorum cursum animosa uoce recensuit, superiori rerum contextui hanc adiiciens* clausulam: 'Si sucule uerris supplicium scissent,z haud dubio irruptisa haris afflictum absoluere pg 662properarent'.b25 Quo dicto Hella adhuc nonnullos filiorum eius uiuere interpretatus quiescere carnifices amouerique uiperas iubet. Cumque satellites peragende iussionis gratia accurrissent, Regnerus imperium regis funere suo precesserat.
4.39.Quem quid aliud quam duas inter se fortunas* partitas esse dicemus. Alteram, que ei incolumem classem, propensum imperium, precipuas piratice uires adiiceret, alteram, que claritatis ruinam, commilitonum necem, acerbissimum uite exitum irrogaret, cum ipsum carnifex uenenatis belluis circumfusum eo corde, quod aduersus omne discrimen immobile gesserat, aspides exsatiantem uideret. Itaque ex speciosissimo* uictore ad miserabilem captiui sortem deductus, ne quis nimium fortune* credat, edocuit.
5.1.Quem casum Iuarus, dum forte ludos inspectaret, accepit. Sed nihilominus uultum* in eodem habitu continens solitoque nulla* ex parte infractior non solum nuntiatam parentis cladem doloris dissimulatione suppressit, sed ne strepitum quidem exoriri passus attonitum rumore populum theatro discedere uetuit. Itaque neque oris hilaritatem* deposuit, ne cessato ludo scenam interrumperet,* neque oculos a publico plausu ad priuatam moestitiam flexit,a ne ex summo tripudio repente in ultimum prolapsus moerorem potius calamitosi filii quam iocabundi ducis partes egisse uideretur.
5.2.Siuardus uero eodem nuntio accepto propior* paterne charitati quam priuate passioni hastile, quod forte in manu habebat, altius pedi stupefactus immersit, tristitie* salebra corpoream negligente molestiam. Vt enim animi uulnus patientius ferre posset,b corporis partem grauius afficere studuit. Quo facto simul fortitudinem moeroremque detexit, fortunam suam inter calamitosum* filium constantemque ⟨uirum⟩c partitus.
pg 6645.3.At Biornus inter tesserarum iactus delato ad se paterne mortis nuntio tanta ui correptum manu calculum pressit, ut tabule quoque cruorem digitis extortum infunderet. Vbi nimirum fortune iactum ipsa, quam uersabat, alea leuiorem esse didicit. Quod audiens Hella hunc trium parentis obitum fortiori animi robore sustinuisse iudicauit, qui nihil pietatis eius funeri prestitisset, ideoque sibi Iuari suspectissimam haberi uirtutem.
5.4.Iuarus uero petitis Anglie partibus, cum classem suam conserendi cum hoste belli impotentem animaduerteret, astum audacie preferens Hellam acumine tentat, spatium arui, quantum equino tergore complecti potuisset, in sequestre pacis pignus expostulans. Etd quidem, quod petiit, impetrauit. Rex enim paruo preces stare autumans a tantoe hoste exiguumf magne rei loco expeti gratulatus est, ratus perquam breue tergus paululum ruris occupaturum. At Iuarus corio in exiles admodum corrigias scissimg* extracto habilem exedificande urbi agrum implicuit. Igitur Hella prodigalitatis poenitentia succedente magnitudinem* corii sera estimatione collegit, diuisam cuticulam rectius quam incolumem mensus. Quam enim exiguum soli cincturam credidit, amplissima iugera latius occupantem aspexit. Iuarus uero condite urbi abunde suffecturos obsidioni commeatus inuexit, ab inedia perinde atque hoste defensam haberi cupiens.
5.5.Interea Siuardus ac Biornus cum quadringentarum nauium classe superuenientes bellum regi manifesta prouocatione significant. fo.94vIdque | statuto tempore exsecuti comprehensi ipsius dorsum plaga aquilam figurante affici iubent,26 seuissimum hostem atrocissimi alitis signo profligare gaudentes. Nec uulnus impressisse contenti laceratam saliuere carnem. Taliter perempto Hella Biornus ac Siuardus regna sua reduces expetiuere, Iuarus Angliam biennio tenuit.
pg 6665.6.Interea Dani perseuerantissima bellum factione complexi Siuardo cuidam atque Erico regia gente creatis publicam detulere tyrannidem. Quos Regneri filii communiter mille septingentarum nauium classe apud Slesuicum adorti semestri deleuere pugna. Colles indicio manent, nec minus is, apud quem belligeratum est, sinus Siuardi funere inclaruit. Iamque preter Regneri filios regius propemodum interierat sanguis. Exinde Biorno atque Erico domum reuersis Iuarus atque Siuardus, quo tenaciores rebellibus frenos imponerent, in Dania resederunt, Agnerum Anglie preferentes. Qui repulsa prouocatus Anglorum opitulante Siuardo contemptricem sui prouinciam incolis uacuefaciendo tenacia situ iugera cultore carere quam insolentem alere maluit, pinguissimaque insule rura teterrima uastitate perfundens deserte quam superbe regioni imperitare satius autumauit. Post hec Ericum apud Suetiam Osteni cuiusdam malignitate sublatum ulcisci cupiens, dum aliene uindicte arctius incumbit, suum hosti sanguinem erogauit, dumque cesi fratris poenas auidius expetit, proprium fraterne charitati funus impendit.
5.7.Itaque Siuardus summis totius Danice concionis suffragiis paternum apprehendit imperium. Hic autem post editas late strages domestica claritate contentus toga quam armis illustris haberi maluit, omissoque castrorum cultu ex acerrimo tyranno exactissimum pacis custodem agere coepit, tantum decoris in ocio atque uacatione constituens, quantum ante in uictoriarum frequentia repositum autumabat. Adeo autem studiorum eius mutationem fortuna fauorabiliter prosecuta est, ut sicut ipse neminem, ita nec ipsum quisquam hostiliter laceraret.
5.8.Idem fato functus Ericum admodum infantulum27 nature magis quam regni aut pacis heredem habuit. Quippe Ericus, Haraldi frater, tenerrimam eius etatulam spernens irrupta cum seditiosis patria regium occupauit insigne, nec erubuit lacessita legitimi ducis infantia adulterinam arripere potestatem, hoc se regno indigniorem comprobans, quod imbellem eo spoliare sustinuit. Igitur illum sceptro, seipsum uirtutibus exuit, et dum armis incunabula appetit, omni pg 668pectus uirilitate nudauit. Neque enim, ubi cupiditas ambitioque flagrauit, consanguinea charitas sedem habuit. Sed hanc inhumanitatem superne ultionis ira pensauit. Inter ipsum namque ac Guthormum, Haraldi filium, subito tanta clade confectum est bellum, ut eorum utroque cum innumeris aliis interempto regia Danorum stirps* atrocissimis exhausta cedibus ad unicum superioris Siuardi filium redigeretur.
6.1.Hic consanguineorum iactura regnandi fortunam adeptus utpote propinquorum nece quam incolumitate felicior relictis aliorum exemplis per auiti negocii uestigia* decurrit. Repente nanque studiosissimus piratici muneris executor apparuit. Et utinam in abolendo Christianismi cultua temerarium Regneriani spiritus non egisset heredem! Siquidem religiosissimum quemque aut suppliciis insequi | fo.95raut rebus exuere exilioque mulctare perseuerauit. Sed frustra principium causer, cuius exitum probem. Laudabilior enim est uita, cuius initium turpe speciosus finis abripit, quam cuius probabile exordium in culpas flagitiaque decurrit. Siquidem Ericus ad salutares Ansgarii28 monitus sacrilege mentis errore deposito, quicquid per eiusdem insolentiam commiserat, expiauit, tantumque in excolenda religione se gessit,* quantum egerat in aspernanda. Itaque non solum sanioris discipline haustum docili* animo traxit, uerum etiam primeuas maculas finali puritate pertersit. Hic filium Kanutum ex Guthormi filia eademque Haraldi nepte progenitum superstitem moriens dereliquit.
7.1.Huius infantia manente regni pupillique tutor exposcitur. Verum quoniam huiusce* muneris aduocationem prestare plerisque uel inuidiosum uel arduum uidebatur, sortitione uirum legi placuit. Prudentissimi namque Danorum in tam excellenti negotio arbitrario delectu uti pertimescentes plus aliene fortune quam suis sententiis permiserunt, electionis euentum fortuito magis quam solido consilio delegantes. Quo euenit, ut Ennignupusa quidam amplissime atque integerrime uirtutis tam onerose functioni humeros suos submittere cogeretur decretamque sorte amministrationem ingressus non minus pg 670uniuersorum res quam singularia regis incunabula tueretur. Vnde et ei quidam parum annalium periti medium in fastis locum tribuunt. Cumque Kanutus decursis adolescentie spatiis ab annis uirilitatem* traxisset, amotis, qui sibi beneficium educationis impenderant, ex pene desperato adolescente auctor insperate probitatis euasit. Hoc uno deflendus, quod absque Christiane religionis insignibus e uita* ad mortem transitum habuit.
8.1.Sed mox ad filium eius Frothonem rerum summa concessit. Cuius fortuna armis belloque alita eo felicitatis excessit, ut prouincias, que a Danis quondam defecerant, pristino adactas iugo uetustis alligaret obsequiis. Qui etiam seipsum apud Angliam iampridem Christianismi peritam solennibus aquis humectandum exhibuit. Ceterum priuatam salutem suam in publicam exuberarea cupiens ab Agapito,29 qui tunc ciuitatis Romane sacris preerat, Daniam diuinitus erudiri petiuit. Quod antequam uotis exsequeretur, absumptus est. Nam fatis* suis Romane legationis precucurrit aduentum, animo certe quam effectu superior tantumque superne compensationis ob pietatis propositum assecutus, quantum ceteris prestatur ex opere.
9.1.Huius filius Gormo, cui, quod ex Anglia oriundus extitit, Anglici cognomen incessit,30 patre extincto promptiore fortuna quam diuturniore apud insulam regiam adeptus est arcem.* Dum enim Daniam disponende eius gratia petisset ex Anglia, longam paruuli secessus iacturam expertus est. Quippe Angli libertatis sue fortunam in eius absentia reponentes publicam a Danis defectionem moliendo precipitem rebellandi fidutiam induerunt. Sed quo eum Anglia inuidentius spreuit, hoc Dania fidentius coluit. Itaque, dum ad duarum prouinciarum utramque auidas imperii manus porrexit, altera potitus alterius irreuocabiliter dominationem amisit, nihil unquam fortiter pro ipsius recuperatione conatus. Adeo difficile pregrandia continentur imperia.
pg 672fo.95v10.1.Post quem filius eius Haraldus Danie regnator incessit, ob hoc quidem obscurioris apud posteros memorie egregiorumque operum monimentis uacuus, quod regiarum opum seruator magis quam propagator extiterit.
11.1.Post hunc Gormo arcem* obtinuit,31 semper infensi erga religionem animi Christicolarum perinde ac teterrimorum hominum respectum extinguere cupiens. Omnes huiusce norme participes uario iniuriarum genere fatigatos, quibus potuit, calumniis insequi non quieuit. Quinetiam, ut priscum delubris cultum restitueret, templum in fundo Slesuicensi a religiosis conditum32 tanquam sacrilegum aliquod impietatis domicilium ab imis fundamentorum partibus demolitus est, quos suppliciis non attigerat, sacre celle strage puniens. Hic tametsi proceritatis habitu eximius putaretur, parum respondentem corpori animum gessit. Ita enim mores suos intra regnandi satietatem continuit, ut seruata potius quam aucta maiestate gauderet satiusque tueri proprium quam alienum incessere duceret, magis de acquisitorum custodia quam acquirendorum incremento sollicitus.
11.2.Hic a maioribus coniugalia* sacra celebrare permonitus Anglorum regis Hedelradia filiam Thiram33 nuptiali studio insecutus est. Illa, ut erat grauitate atque industria ante alias prestans, conditionem procob attulit, non ante se ei nupturam prefata, quam Daniam sub dotis nomine recepisset. Eoque pacto intercedente Gormoni desponsa nocte, qua prima genialem* thorum conscendit, sponsum perseuerantissimis precibus aggressa in triduum se uirilis* concubitus expertem dimitti petiuit, non ante rebus Veneriis indulgere constituens, quam matrimonium creandis liberis efficax futurum aliquo per quietem presagio didicisset. Itaque simulatione continentie matrimonii experientiam* interpellabat, cognoscende posteritatis propositum pudicitie specie colorando,c commerciumque* libidinis pg 674distulit, uerecundie figmento fortunam propagande successionis explorans. Alii eam, ut temperantia sua thori socium Christianismi sacris adscisceret,d maritalis* lecti blanditias detrectasse coniectant.
11.3.Verum quamquam iuuenis amori eius flagrantissimo* animo inhereret, aliene tamen continentie quam proprie uoluptati obsequi pretulit, speciosiusque nocturnis motibus imperare quam lachrymosa amice uota repellere arbitratus est, profectas ab industria preces pudicitie propinquas autumans. Euenitque ut, qui mariti partes agere debuerat, pudicitie custodem prestaret, ne in capite nuptiarum stuprose* mentis nota afficeretur, quasi plus libidinis uiribus quam proprie* indulsisset uerecundie. Ceterum ne inconcessum uirginis amorem libidinoso complexu preripere uideretur, uicina latera non solum alterius complexibus exuit, sed etiam destricto mucrone secreuit atque ex cubiculari lecto suum ac sponse diuiduum* contubernium reddidit.
11.4.Sed uoluptatem, quam gratuita humanitate distulit, mox leta somnii specie delibauit. Quippe profuso* in somnum animo existimauit duos alites coniugis sue genitali* parte prolapsos, sed alterum altero grandiorem, corpora superne librantes prepeti coelum uolatu petere exiguoque tempore interiecto reuersos suis altrinsecus manibus insedisse. Secundo quoque ac tertio paruula quiete recreatos propassis alis aeri se credidisse, tandemque minorem ex his ad se pennis cruore oblitis comite uacuum remeasse. Ea opinione attonitus, ut erat somno pressus, indicem stuporis questum edidit ac totos penates tumultuoso* clamore compleuit. Quam speculationem eo | fo.96rpercontantibus famulis explicante Thira felicem se prole futuram autumans omisso* differendarum nuptiarum proposito castimoniam, quam cupide precata fuerat, auidius remisit, coelibatumque ad uenerem transferens sponso gratam suimet potiende copiam tribuit, continentis animi uirtutem admissi concubitus satietate pensando, prefata minime se ei nupturam fuisse, nisi ex his adumbrate* quietis imaginibus certiorem foecunditatis sue fortunam hausisset. Itaque ut uafro,* ita inusitato consilio pudicitie simulatio in future prolis pg 676agnitionem transiuit. Nec sors opinionem eius frustrata est. Breui enim Haraldi atque Kanutie felix prole mater apparuit.
11.5.Qui cum uirilem attigissent etatem, exerta classe effrenatam* Sclauorum insolentiam domuerunt. Nec Angliam quidem immunem* ab hoc uexationis genere reliquerunt. Quorum Edelradusf ingeniis delectatus illatam a nepotibus uim uoluptatis loco habuit, amplissimi beneficii nomine teterrimam amplexatus iniuriam. Multo enim amplius uirtutis in eorum fortitudine quam pietate reposuit,34 ideoque ab infestis lacessi quam ab ignauis coli speciosius duxit, tanquam ex ipso fortissimo indolis habitu futurum uirilitatis eorum specimen peruideret. Non enim ambigere potuit, quin extera quandoque impetituri essent, qui materna tam audacter exigerent. Adeo autem iniurias officiis anteposuit, ut preterita filia Angliam iisdem testamento legaret, auitum nomen paterno preferre non dubitans, nec imprudenter, quoniam aliquanto speciosius* mares quam foeminas regni usum decere nouerat, imbellis filie ac fortissimorum nepotum conditionem separandam existimans. Quo euenit, ut Thira filios suos paternorum bonorum heredes non inuidenter exheres ipsa conspiceret. Prelationem* enim eorum honorabilem sibi magis quam contumeliosam fore arbitrata est.
11.6.Iidem crebris piratice questibus locupletati summa cum fidutia spes* suas ad iniiciendum manus Hibernie promouerunt. Cuius rex Duflina, que prouincie caput habebatur, obsessa, cum paucis admodum sagittarie artis peritis coniunctum urbi nemus ingressus, Kanutum magna cum militum frequentia nocturnis ludorum spectaculis interpositum* insidioso fraudis circuitu uulnifica procul sagitta petiuit, que in aduersum eiusg corpus incidens mortificum ei uulnus intorsit. Veritus autem Kanutus, ne periculum suum hostes effuso* gaudio insequerentur, atque ob hoc cladis sue fortunam dissimulanter haberi cupiens uoce supremos* anhelitus reddente ludos absque tumultuatione peragi iubet. Qua arte prius Danos Hibernie potitores quam suum Hibernis exitum notum reddidit. Quis autem extinctum pg 678non plangeret, cuius disciplina militum suorum uictorie consilio quam spiritu diuturniore suffecit? Salus nanque Danorum in ultimas* angustias deducta ac pene desperationis periculis implicata, quia morientis ducis iussui paruit, breui, quos timuit, triumphauit.
11.7.Quo tempore Gormo ad ultimum* etatis sue finem prouectus ingentem annorum seriem luminibus captus exegerat, senectam ad ultimos humane* conditionis terminos prorogando magis de filiorum uita* et incrementis quam reliquo spiritu suo sollicitus. Tanta autem maioris filii charitate tenebatur, ut a se occidendum iuraret, qui prior ipsius exitum nuntiasset. Cumque forte Thira haud dubium de eiusdem exitio nuntium accepisset, nemine id Gormoni palam insinuare audente presidium* calliditatis amplexa casum, quem ore prodere timuit, opere explicauit. Maritum nanque regio cultu exutum tetriore circundedit aliaque doloris* insignia, per que causam luctus aperiret, admouit, quod antiqui talibus inter exequiarum actiones uti fo.96vconsueuerant, acerbitatem* moeroris habitus | asperitate testantes. Tunc Gormo: 'En mihi', inquit, 'Kanuti fatum publicas?' Et Thira: 'Id ipsum', ait, 'tuoh potius quam nostro declaratur augurio'. Quo dicto marito mortem, sibi uiduitatis causam prebuit nec ante filium quam coniugem planxit. Itaque, dum uiro nati fortunam exprimit, alterum alterius funeri sociauit, amborumque exequias paribus prosecuta lachrymis35 huic coniugales, maternos illi planctus impendit, quamquam tunc temporis magis solatiis* erigenda quam cladibus obterendai fuisset.j
1.1.After the death of Gøtrik1 his son Olaf ruled. Zealous to avenge his father, he was prepared to put personal feeling before his duty to the people and embroil his land in civil wars. When he died his body was received in a mound which had been built near Lejre and took its well-known name from Olaf.2
pg 6292.1.He was succeeded by Hemming, of whom I have discovered no achievement worth recording except the peace, strengthened by oaths, which he established with the emperor Louis.3 Perhaps there were many remarkable deeds, glorious in his era, but the malice of time has concealed them.
3.1.Following these rulers, Sigvarth, surnamed Ring, whom the Norwegian ruler of the same name had once fathered on Gøtrik's daughter, reigned with the support of the Scanians and Zealanders. His cousin Ring, also a grandson of Gøtrik, held Jutland. As its smallness made each half of the realm insignificant, the split dominion began to be despised and even attacked by outsiders. Sigvarth proceeded against them with more rancour than he did against his rival for the kingdom and, since he preferred foreign to internal wars, persisted for five years in putting up a defence against the dangers to his country. He chose to endure a domestic wound so that he could cure one inflicted from abroad all the more readily.
3.2.For this reason Ring, seizing a chance to usurp the other's command, tried to transfer jurisdiction over the whole realm to himself and saw fit to destroy from within the man who was performing guard duty at the gates of his country. Invading the provinces belonging to Sigvarth, he paid for the defence of their common homeland with ingratitude. Some of the Zealanders who were especial partisans of Sigvarth, to demonstrate a more genuine loyalty to their absent lord, bestowed the name of king on his son Ragnar,4 even though he had scarcely yet been plucked from his pg 631cradle; they were quite aware that he was too immature to rule, but they wished to rouse the lethargic spirits of their comrades against Ring by making this beloved child their leader. When Ring heard that Sigvarth had in the meantime returned from his expedition, he attacked the Zealanders with a large force, proclaiming that if they did not surrender he would put them to the sword.
3.3.The Zealanders, who were being ordered to choose between shame or peril, mistrusted their strength, being so few, and requested a truce in order to consider the situation. This was granted; but because they did not appear to be at liberty to seek Sigvarth's protection and it looked dishonourable to embrace Ring's, they fluctuated anxiously for some time between fear and embarrassment. As no advice was forthcoming in this dilemma, even from the old men, Ragnar, who happened to be there, addressed the conference: 'A short bow fires its arrow suddenly. Though I may seem to be butting in with a boy's presumption before my elders have spoken, please be indulgent towards my mistakes and pardon anything childish I say. Someone who gives wise advice mustn't be rejected, even though he might seem a mean fellow. Minds willing to learn ought to swallow profitable instruction. Although being branded as deserters and renegades is ugly, it's rash to be audacious beyond one's strength and equal blame can be proved to exist in both courses; you must pretend to go over to the enemy's side and, as soon as the opportunity arises, abandon him at a timely moment. So it will be better to forestall our foe's anger by simulated obedience than give him a weapon to assault us more fiercely for refusing his wish. If we decline the regime of a stronger individual, what are we doing but voluntarily providing a sword to slit our own throats? Often subterfuge is most effective when nourished on concealed aims. The fox must be caught in a trap of cunning.'
3.4.His sound plan shook the wavering citizens out of their hesitation and added a force lethal to their enemy's war aims. The assembly, amazed at this boy's eloquence no less than his intelligence, gladly accepted the decision of a first-class brain, surpassing what was normal at his age. The older members, who had failed to offer a solution, felt no qualms in submitting to the lad's instructions, for, though they proceeded from a youngster, they contained the full weight of practical knowledge. Afraid of exposing the author of the scheme to immediate peril, they sent him over to be brought up in Norway. Shortly afterwards Sigvarth assailed Ring and they locked in pg 633combat; Ring fell, but his opponent was also hurt and in the space of a few days died from the incurable wound.
4.1.Ragnar inherited his throne. About this time the Swedish ruler Frø, after killing Sigvarth, king of the Norwegians, removed the wives of Sigvarth's relatives to a brothel and exposed them to public prostitution. When Ragnar heard of this he set out for Norway, intent on exacting vengeance for his grandfather's sake. On his arrival many women of quality, who had lately suffered abuse to their bodies or feared that their chastity was in imminent danger, began to dress themselves as men and flock in eagerness to his camp, vowing that they would put death before dishonour. The man who had come to revenge the humiliation offered to these women felt no shame in borrowing their help against the cause of their disgrace.
4.2.Among these had appeared Lathgertha, a skilled female fighter, who bore a man's temper in a girl's body; with locks flowing loose over her shoulders she would do battle in the forefront of the most valiant warriors. Everyone marvelled at her matchless feats, for the hair to be seen flying down her back made it clear that she was a woman; as soon as Ragnar had laid his grandfather's slayer in the dust, he made particular enquiries of his fellow-soldiers as to the identity of the girl he had noted in the vanguard; he confessed that his victory was due to her energy alone. Having discovered that she was of distinguished foreign birth, he set about wooing her with determination through intermediaries.
4.3.She, while secretly disdaining his overtures, pretended to agree. When by her deceptive replies she had brought her panting suitor to a point where he was confident of achieving his wishes, she ordered a bear and a hound to be tethered in the porch of her house so that these animals might act as a defence and protect her room from the full fervour of his desires. Invigorated by the favourable message, he embarked, crossed the straits and, after bidding his companions wait in a valley named Gaulardal, he proceeded alone to the girl's home. The beasts were there to receive him but, by piercing one with his spear and catching hold of the other's throat so as to twist its gullet and throttle it, he overcame the danger and won the maid for his prize. From their union were born two daughters, whose names history has not remembered, and a son, Fridlev; Ragnar spent the next three years peacefully.
pg 6354.4.Deciding that his recent wedding meant no prospect of his return, the Jutlanders, an arrogant people, leagued with the Scanians and tried to make a belligerent attack on the Zealanders, who through an active devotion for Ragnar maintained their loyalty to him. Apprised of this, Ragnar fitted out three hundred vessels and, with compliant winds for his voyage, wiped out the Scanians who had ventured to engage him at the village of Hvideby; by the end of winter he had fought with successful results against the Jutlanders who lived near Limfjorden in that region. When he had had the good fortune to quell the men of Scania and Halland a third and yet a fourth time, his love turned away from his marriage and towards Thora, daughter of King Herröth, with the result that he divorced Lathgertha. He criticized his wife's trustworthiness, for he recalled that she had once set two brutes of the wildest savagery to destroy him.
4.5.Meanwhile it chanced that when the Swedish sovereign Herröth had taken himself to the forest to hunt, his friends found some snakes there, which he brought back for his daughter to rear. She readily obeyed her father's bidding and brought herself to foster these reptiles with a maiden's hands; further than this she took pains to supply a whole carcass of beef each day to gorge their appetites, unaware that by feeding them thus in private she was cultivating a public menace. When they were fully grown they scorched the countryside with their venomous breath until the king, regretting his idleness, made a proclamation that he would give the princess to anyone who would rid him of these pests. Although a stream of young men, prompted thither by bravery as much as sensual desire, tried their hands at the perilous task, they wasted their time.
4.6.Once Ragnar had found out the whole story from men who travelled between the two lands, he begged from his nurse a woollen cloak and some very shaggy thigh-coverings, with which he could baffle the serpents' bites. He dressed himself like this believing that such clothing, cushioned with hair, would act as a protection and at the same time be flexible enough to allow nimble movement. When his ship touched the Swedish coast, the weather was freezing; he intentionally threw himself into the waters and then exposed his soaking garments to be stiffened by the cold, so that they would become even less penetrable. Clad in this manner, he first said goodbye to his companions and urged them to remain loyal to Fridlev, then went on by himself to pg 637the palace. Immediately he caught sight of it, he strapped his sword to his side and grasped a thonged spear in his right hand.
4.7.As he advanced, a snake of prodigious size slithered towards him; a second, equally enormous, glided in its track. They vied now to batter the youth with their spiralling tails, now to spew a constant stream of poisonous vomit on him. In the meantime the courtiers hid themselves in the more sheltered corners to view the fray from a distance, like nervous little girls. The king himself, just as panic-stricken, had taken refuge with one or two others in a narrow room. But Ragnar, depending on the toughness of his frozen apparel, thwarted their virulent leaps with his mantle as well as his weapons; without aid his unflagging spirit battled tirelessly as he faced those two pairs of open jaws shedding their venom on him. His shield repelled their bites, his apparel their poison. In the end he launched the spear, driving it at the bodies of the monsters, which were pressing him hard; it tore through each one's vitals and the fight ended happily for him.
4.8.The king gazed with some curiosity at his dress, noted how rough and bristly it was and, mocking especially the shagginess of his nether attire, the inelegant look of his breeches, nicknamed him Lothbrok5 as a joke. To refresh him after his struggles he also invited Ragnar to feast with him and his friends. The other stated that he must first return to see the retinue he had left behind and went off; when he brought them back, they were decked sprucely for the coming banquet. Finally, when the feasting was over, he took the agreed pledge for his conquest. Through her he became the sire of two outstanding characters, Rådbard and Dunvat; Nature gave them additional brothers, Sigvard, Bjørn, Agner, and Ivar.
4.9.Meanwhile the Jutlanders and Scanians, kindled with inextinguishable flames of mutiny, dismissed Ragnar's claims and handed supreme control to someone named Harald. After Ragnar had dispatched ambassadors to Norway to plead for friendship and aid against these foes, Lathgertha, in whose veins there still ran strong feelings of her former love, sailed speedily with her son and second husband. She resolved to provide Ragnar with a fleet of a hundred and twenty vessels, even though he had once renounced her. Reckoning that he needed help from all quarters, Ragnar enlisted support from every age group, piling infirm and sturdy together, pg 639feeling no embarrassment at introducing boyish and elderly squads among formations of the able-bodied.
4.10.First of all he set about breaking the Scanian power and waged a heavy battle with the insurgents on the field which in Latin is called Wool.6 Ivar, only 7 years old, fought remarkably, displaying a mature strength in his young body. Sigvard, however, while throwing himself head-on at his opponents, fell forward to the ground and was wounded. This accident gave such serious concern to the watching allies that they considered fleeing, and not only Sigvard was demoralized but almost the whole armed might on Ragnar's side. Nevertheless Ragnar strengthened their stunned and drooping spirits by his manly conduct and inspiration and forced them to try for victory just when they were prepared to accept subjugation.
4.11.Lathgertha too, with a measure of vitality at odds with her tender frame, restored the mettle of the faltering soldiery by a splendid exhibition of bravery. She flew round the rear of the unprepared enemy in a circling manoeuvre and carried the panic which had been felt by the allies into the camp of their adversaries. Finally, when Harald's line had given way, his troops been massacred in abundance and their leader put to flight, she returned home from the battle; that night she stuck a dart, which she had concealed beneath her gown, into her husband's throat, thereby seizing for herself his whole sovereignty and title. This woman, of the haughtiest temperament, found it pleasanter to govern a realm alone than share the fortunes of her husband.
4.12.In the meanwhile Sigvard was borne to a neighbouring town and his body delivered to the care of doctors. When their efforts had proved completely hopeless since the terrific gash responded to none of their poultices, an amazingly tall person7 was observed to approach the sickbed; he guaranteed to Sigvard that he would immediately enjoy sound health provided he would consecrate to him the souls of those men he was to strike down in war. Nor did he remain anonymous, but went on to give his name as Roster. Realizing that he could gain a vast blessing at the price of one small promise, Sigvard gladly acceded to his request. Then the old man, touching the discoloured point of infection, cleared it away with a quick manipulation of his hand and promptly stretched a scar across the pg 641wound. Lastly, after sprinkling dust on his irises, Roster departed. Spots unexpectedly appeared in his staring eyes and the dust produced what looked strikingly like little snakes. I could well believe that the one who staged this miracle wanted to give a more obvious proof of the young man's future savagery through his eyes, so that this penetrating feature of his person should not fail to offer some prognostication of his subsequent life. An old crone, who was there to administer his medicines, took one glance at his countenance bearing these serpentine marks, recoiled from the young fellow in peculiar terror, and, slumping suddenly to the floor, fainted away. So it came about that the popular name of Snake-eye was widely attached to Sigvard.
4.13.During this time Thora, Ragnar's wife, was carried off by the ravages of disease; this sank her husband, who was deeply devoted to her, into boundless, oppressive grief. Since he believed he could best shake this off by some employment, he resolved to find comfort in exercise and temper his misery with toil. In order to banish his sorrow and procure consolation, his thoughts turned to soldiering and he decreed that every head of family should offer the son he supposed most worthless or one of his lazier and less trusted slaves to serve in the king's army. His edict, though one would have imagined it basically incongruous with his purpose, in fact taught the least dependable of the Danish race to show themselves superior to the most valiant among other peoples and brought great improvement to these youths, since the ones who had been selected were eager to vie with each other and expunge the stigma of sloth.
4.14.Further, he ordained that all legal disputes should be settled by the judgement of twelve approved elders; the usual provisions for settling cases should be abandoned and neither prosecutor nor defendant allowed to plead. When he reckoned that this law had helped him put an adequate stop to the malicious charges of evildoers and men no longer entered into ill-considered lawsuits, he mounted hostilities against Britain; there he made a strike and killed its king, Hama, the father of a noble young prince, Ælla.8 Then, when he had disposed of the earls of Scotland, Pentland, and the islands which they call Southern or Meridional,9 he gave his sons Sigvard and Rådbard power to govern these domains in their stead. Norway too, forcefully bereft of its ruler, he commanded to obey Fridlev and pg 643ensured that in addition he became governor of Orkney, which had also had its own earl removed.
4.15.Meanwhile certain of the Danes who persisted in their resentment of Ragnar set their minds firmly on an uprising and rallied to the side of Harald,10 at one time an exile, in a bid to elevate his shattered fortunes. This piece of foolhardiness stimulated a hot-blooded spirit of civil war against the king and, when all was calm on the foreign front, embroiled him in hazards at home. He set out to check them with a navy from the Danish islands and smashed the rebel column together with Harald, the leader of this defeated force, who was driven hot-foot into Germany, compelled to resign unblushingly the honour he had gathered so unscrupulously. Nor was Ragnar satisfied to put his prisoners to a straightforward death but chose rather to kill them under torture, so that individuals who could not be induced to forsake their disloyalty might not even be allowed to lay aside their lives without punishments of the most stringent ferocity. Now he divided the estates of Harald's fellow-fugitives among the men who were serving with himself in the army, for he judged that the fathers would be better punished if they saw the reward of their inheritance go over to children they had rejected through their own decision, and the heirs who were dearer to their hearts cheated of their patrimony.
4.16.Even yet Ragnar had not steeped himself in revenge to his full satisfaction and, since he believed that this was a sanctuary for his enemies and Harald's refuge, decided to go on and storm Saxony, for which purpose he begged the help of his sons; it so happened that he stumbled upon Charlemagne,11 who just then was lingering on those borders of his empire. Because he had intercepted Charlemagne's sentries and eluded the guard he had posted, Ragnar expected that everything else would be quick and easy to bring off, but a dwarfish woman, a soothsayer, like some heavenly oracle or expounder of the divine will, suddenly warned the Frankish monarch with a helpful prediction; she informed him that Sigvard's fleet had moored at the mouth of the River Seeve and by her timely prophecy anticipated the impending danger. Listening attentively to her counsel, the emperor appreciated that it was an enemy who had come on the scene and, now on the alert, took measures to stop these barbarians by opposing them in battle. When he strove against Ragnar he did not enjoy the pg 645same luck in action as when he had received word to beware of the threat. That tireless man, who had subdued almost the whole of Europe, who had paraded over such a vast stretch of the world with his unruffled, mighty conquests, here saw that army which had vanquished so many states and so many peoples turn tail and be overthrown by a small company from a single province.12
4.17.After Ragnar had imposed heavy tribute on the Saxons, he heard reliable news from Sweden of Herröth's death and that his own children had been dispossessed of their grandfather's property through the chicanery of Sörli, who had been chosen as regent; requesting Bjørn, Fridlev, and Rådbard to be his associates (Regnald, Hvitserk, and Erik, the boys Svanløg13 had borne him, had not as yet reached a suitable age to wield arms), he made for Sweden. Sörli, confronting him there with his army, gave his opponent the option of meeting en masse or individually; the other chose single combat, whereupon Sörli brought Skarth, a fighting-man of tested courage, together with his band of seven sons to challenge and engage him. Ragnar, with the three sons he had enlisted as his fellow-warriors, clashed with his opponents under the eyes of both armies and emerged victorious from the contest. Because Bjørn had executed slaughter on his foes without a scratch, he adopted ever afterwards a nickname from the iron-like strength of his sides.14 His win had given Ragnar confidence that he could surmount all perils and, attacking Sörli, he slew him and the entire force he had conducted to that locality.
4.18.After Bjørn had been granted hegemony over Sweden as a reward for his striking bravery, Ragnar had a moderate breathing space from wars; then, happening to become rather fond of a young woman, he tried to devise a means of readier access towards gaining her and so set about winning over her father with the most courteous attentions and lavish generosity. Time and again he would invite him to banquets where he bestowed attentions on him with the utmost charm. When the father arrived, he rose to his feet respectfully; when he wished to take his place, Ragnar honoured him with the seat next to his own. He often regaled him with presents, now and then with pg 647the most affable conversation. As the latter discerned that no virtues of his own could be a reason for calling forth such esteem, he cast about in his mind and recognized that this fine open-handedness of his overlord stemmed from desire for his daughter, the kindnesses being merely a gloss for his lustful intent. In order to balk the lover's ideas, however subtle, he had his daughter watched all the more sharply in view of the sly ambitions and purposeful schemes for catching her which he saw afoot. Ragnar however, reinvigorated by a trustworthy message of her sympathy, found his way to the village in which she was being kept and, confident that love knew no obstacles, unaccompanied sought lodging with a neighbouring peasant. The following morning he exchanged his clothing with the womenfolk and was soon standing in female dress by his girlfriend as she was unwinding wool; though his hands were clumsy, he craftily employed them in the unmanly work to escape discovery; in the night he took the maiden in his arms and satisfied his wishes.
4.19.As the time of birth drew near and the girl's swelling stomach betrayed the deed which had polluted her chastity, the father, wondering whom she had allowed to defile her, questioned her incessantly to find out her unknown seducer. But since she persisted in declaring that none but a maidservant had ever shared her bed, he entrusted the investigation to his sovereign. Ragnar could not bear to let a guiltless handmaid be branded with this curious charge; he therefore swallowed his shame and established another's innocence by confessing his personal guilt. Through his decency he dismissed the false accusation against the woman, thus ensuring that the ridiculous tale was not broadcast among base ears. He went on to say that the son she was to bear would be of his own lineage and he wished his name to be Ubbi.15 When the boy had grown a little, even at a tender age his mind took on qualities of mature discernment. His affections were directed towards his mother because she had slept with an august partner, whereas he refused to revere a father who had lowered himself to a union that fell short of his true nobility.
4.20.Afterwards, when Ragnar was proposing a campaign against the Hellespontines, he called an assembly of the Danes and, engaging to introduce laws highly beneficial to his people, made this decree: just as each head of family once provided for military service the child he thought least of, now he must arm his most powerfully active son and his most responsible slave. This done, he took all the sons that pg 649Thora had borne him, though not Ubbi, and in a series of bruising encounters subjugated the Hellespont and its king, Dian. Involving Dian in one disaster after another, he eventually obliterated him.
4.21.His sons, Dian and Daxon, who in the past had been apportioned the daughters of the Russian king in marriage, obtained the troops they requested from their father-in-law and with blazing enthusiasm sped to execute the business of their father's revenge. On noting the vast army of his foes, Ragnar felt uneasy about his own forces; he therefore constructed bronze horses mounted on small wheels and had them brought round on easily manoeuvred carriages; then he gave orders for them to be launched with maximum velocity into the thick of the enemy. Their power broke up the opposing lines so well that prospective victory appeared to rest more on his machinery than his soldiery, for their irresistible weight smashed everything it struck. One general fell, the other slipped away, whereupon the entire Hellespontine army retreated. The Scythians too, attached to Daxon by close ties of blood on his mother's side, are reported to have been crushed in that defeat. Their province was assigned to Hvitserk, while the king of the Russians, diffident of his strength, hastened to fly off before Ragnar's awe-inspiring weapons.
4.22.All other opponents were brought to heel after prompt surrender, but, after spending nearly five years in pirating expeditions, Ragnar discovered that the Biarmians, reduced not long before, were openly critical of his rule and he could put inadequate reliance on their passivity. When the Biarmians knew of his arrival, they addressed their magical spells to the heavens and by agitating the clouds eventually brought about huge, raging thunderstorms. Consequently the Danes could not put to sea for some time, with the result that they ran out of food supplies. Suddenly the tempests abated, only to be replaced by a burning, baking heat. This curse was no more endurable than intense cold. The two wicked extremes of climate following one upon the other broke the men's constitutions. Many were finished off by dysentery. So the majority of the Danes, trapped by the fluctuating sky, contracted disease, and death was widespread.
4.23.Once Ragnar realized that he had been hampered by severe weather that was not natural but contrived, he pursued his voyage as best he could till he reached the regions of Kurland and Samland; the peoples there deeply reverenced his majesty as if he were the greatest pg 651and most glorious of conquerors. Their favour maddened Ragnar all the more against the Biarmians' arrogance and he sought to avenge his slighted dignity in a surprise attack. Their king, whose name is unknown to us, was thrown into consternation by his foes' sudden invasion and, having at the same time no heart for an engagement, took refuge with Matul, prince of Finnmark. Depending on the accomplished marksmanship of Matul's archers, he harried Ragnar's army as it wintered in Biarmaland and remained unscathed himself.
4.24.The Finns have always travelled by gliding swiftly on smooth boards and have complete control of their speed as they race along, so that men say they can be there and gone in a flash, just as they please. As soon as they have done damage to their enemy, they shoot away in the same lightning fashion as they flew to the scene. The nimbleness of their skis and bodies combined gives them a practised ease in attacking and retreating. You can imagine how aghast Ragnar was then at being helpless to control his own fate; once the vanquisher of the Holy Roman Empire at the height of its power,16 he saw himself ultimately swept into utter disaster by a defenceless, uncouth fighting force. So it was that the man who had distinguished himself when he pulverized the glittering splendour of the imperial armies, the renowned troops of that most magnificent and unperturbed of leaders, now yielded to a band of obscure peasants and their miserable, flimsy equipment; he whose warrior glory could not be dimmed previously by the strength of the most courageous nation was unable to withstand a tiny handful of contemptible men.
4.25.Eventually, with a force which had gallantly destroyed the world's most illustrious parade of power and weightiest machine of military might, with whom he had clearly overthrown all that thunder of foot soldiers, camps, and horsemen, Ragnar managed to assail this mean, worthless mob secretively and, so to speak, like a thief; he did not blush to sully his bright fame, won publicly in the light of day, with nocturnal subterfuge and resort to a concealed ambush instead of displaying his valour in the open. It was an undignified piece of work but profitable in its outcome. Ragnar was just as overjoyed at dispelling the Finns as he had been when Charlemagne was routed, for he admitted that he had found these poorly equipped people more powerful than the most highly organized legions; he could stand the heavily armed might of the Empire better than the light darts of this ragged tribe. After the king of the Biarmians had been killed and the pg 653Finnish ruler put to flight, Ragnar had his achievements engraved in writing on stone surfaces, which he set up in a high place to establish an everlasting record of his victory.
4.26.In the meantime Ubbi was prompted by his grandfather, Esbern,17 to an impious longing for the throne; casting aside any decent consideration for his father, he appropriated the royal crown for his own head. When Ragnar came to know of his presumption from the Swedish jarls, Kelther and Thorkil, he set sail in great haste towards Götaland. Esbern, discovering that the two Swedes were bound to Ragnar with a single-minded loyalty, tried hard to bribe them to desert their lord. Yet they would not swerve from their resolution, replying that their own judgements depended on Bjørn's, since no Swede would venture to diverge from his will. Esbern lost no time before attempting to lure Bjørn; he dispatched envoys to engage him in the most friendly talks. The latter stoutly asserted that he would never incline towards treachery more than true faith, and pronounced it quite abominable to favour a scoundrel of a brother before loving a good father; the ambassadors themselves were punished like instigators of a serious crime and hanged. The Swedes, moreover, rewarded any further party of emissaries with equal discomfiture for their mischievous proposal.
4.27.Deciding that he was making little headway with these stealthy, underhand moves, Esbern came out into the open, mustered his troops, and dashed into war. However, Ivar, governor of Jutland, believing that neither side in the profane battle had much sense of right conduct, shied away from such wicked fighting by going into self-imposed exile. Ragnar attacked and slew Esbern at the bay which is called Green in Latin18 and ordered his head, shorn from the lifeless body, to be fixed to his prow as a dreadful prospect to troublemakers.
4.28.Ubbi fled, but renewing hostilities in Zealand, once again assailed his father; eventually Ubbi's line gave way and, standing alone, he was molested from all quarters; even so he overthrew so many of his adversaries that he became surrounded by a growing pile of enemy corpses, which acted as a strong barricade and easily prevented his challengers from coming near. In the end the bands of foemen poured round him in such swarms that he was captured and led off to be loaded with chains like a common criminal. However, with his pg 655enormous strength he cleared himself of his fetters by hacking them off, yet when he tried to rend and discard the ropes with which they then bound him, he could find no way to break free from their resistance. After Ivar discovered that the insurrection in his homeland had been shattered and the rebel punished, he made his way back to Denmark. As he had unflinchingly observed his duty towards his father amid the tempestuous savagery of the would-be parricides, Ragnar acknowledged his devotion with deep respect.
4.29.Meanwhile Daxon, following a long spell of futile attempts to overthrow Hvitserk, who was ruling Scythia, at last made his bid after deceiving him with a feigned truce. Though he was hospitably welcomed by Hvitserk, Daxon had secretly armed a crowd of warriors, who had ridden to the city in waggons as though coming to market, with the intention of wrecking his host's palace in a night attack. Hvitserk beat down this gang of cut-throats with such slaughter that, enclosed as he was by a heap of the enemies' bodies, they had to prop ladders up to the top in order to seize him. When his twelve comrades, captured by their foes at the same time, were given the chance of returning to their home country, they consecrated their lives to their sovereign, preferring to share another's danger rather than escape their own.
4.30.Nevertheless Daxon, moved to pity by Hvitserk's distinguished figure, had not the heart to pluck the budding flower of that noble nature. Not only did he offer him safety, but also his daughter's hand together with a dowry of half the kingdom; he had rather preserve such a fine creature than punish him for his manliness. But the other, through the dignity of his spirit, sniffed at a life granted on sufferance and, scoffing at freedom as if it were some trifling gratuity, embraced the death sentence of his own accord; he told Daxon that Ragnar would be less ruthless in avenging his son when he learnt that Hvitserk had chosen this manner of dying of his own free will. His foe, in wonder at this nonchalant attitude, promised that he should be destroyed with whatever type of end he had in mind to be inflicted on him. The young man accepted the freedom of choice as a great favour and asked if he could be bound and burnt along with his comrades. Daxon submitted with no hesitation to these eager requests for death, dealing the desired method of execution as though it were some kindness.
pg 6574.31.When he heard the news, Ragnar in his grief was set on dying, for he not only went into mourning, but, with a heart completely stricken, confined himself to his bed and let groans reveal the sorrow he had suffered. His wife, whose self-reliance surpassed a man's, chided Ragnar's feebleness and fortified him with her masculine exhortations; she summoned his soul from its dejection, told him he must resort to energetic warfare, and declared that a courageous father would make better amends to a son's blood-stained ashes through arms than tears. Further, she advised him not to whimper like a woman, for he would reap as much dishonour through weeping as he had previously gained glory by his valour. Her words made Ragnar fear he might obliterate his ancient renown for bravery by effeminate lamentation; he therefore threw off his sad demeanour, removed the outward marks of misery, and allowed the hope of a swift revenge to revive his dormant resolution. So at times stout dispositions are strengthened by weaker ones.
4.32.After putting Ivar in charge of the kingdom and restoring Ubbi to his former favour with affectionate paternal embraces, he sailed with his navy over to Russia; there he captured Daxon, entwined him with penal chains and removed him to confinement in Utgarth.19 Ragnar undeniably handled his dearest son's slayer with the most merciful restraint when he chose to allow his appetite for the cherished revenge to be satisfied by exiling the culprit instead of killing him. His lenience struck deep shame into the Russians for venting their rage further upon a king whom even their harsh wrongs could not drive into executing his prisoners. In a short time Ragnar actually took Daxon back into his favour and restored him to his country, on the promise that he would come to him barefoot once a year with twelve unshod elders and humbly render tribute. He believed it finer to chastise a penitent prisoner mildly rather than swing the bloody axe, to sentence a proud neck to unremitting servitude in preference to cleaving it once and for all.
4.33.Journeying back, Ragnar put his son Erik, nicknamed Wind-hat,20 in control of Sweden. Fridlev and Sigvard were serving with Ragnar when he found out that the Northmen and Scots had falsely pg 659recognized two other individuals as their monarchs; first he removed the usurper from the kingship of Norway and transferred its exercise to Bjørn; then, in his and Erik's company, he ravaged Orkney and finally landed on Scottish territory to finish off their king Murial, when he was worn out after a three-day battle with them. Ragnar's sons, Dunvat and Rådbard, having fought spectacularly, won a gory victory for their father, but shed their own lifeblood in the process.
4.34.Once he had returned to Denmark he learnt that in the interval his wife Svanløg had been carried off by a disease; immediately he sought to heal his cares in solitude, incapable of enclosing his grief-stricken mind within the confines of his home. But the unexpected arrival of Ivar,21 expelled from his kingdom, made him forget his bitter sorrow. The Britons22 had put him to flight and conferred spurious royal power on a certain Ælla, son of Hama. Since Ivar knew those parts well, Ragnar put to sea with a fleet under his guidance and reached a port known as Norwich; there, after landing his troops, he engaged with Ælla, who was supported by British strength; the battle was protracted for three days until Ælla wished himself elsewhere; the casualties of the English were extremely severe, the Danes' very light.
4.35.As soon as Ragnar had completed a year of conquest there, he called for the assistance of his sons and swiftly set out for Ireland; after the slaying of its king, Melbrik, Dublin, crammed with barbaric treasures, was besieged, stormed, and taken; here Ragnar encamped for twelve months before voyaging through the Mediterranean Sea right up to the Hellespont; as he then covered all the lands in his path, he achieved outstanding victories, nor did Fortune anywhere disturb his uninterrupted and successful advance.
4.36.While this was happening, Harald,23 with the adherence of certain Danes who were feebly attached to Ragnar's leadership, spurred his country to fresh rebellions and came forward to take possession of the crown. Ragnar met him with an attack as soon as he returned from the Hellespont; Harald had poor success and, as he perceived that aid from his home resources had evaporated, he approached Louis, then stationed at Mainz, to demand help. But pg 661the latter, filled with a consuming zeal to propagate his religion, made it a condition that he would only guarantee succour if this heathen consented to follow the worship of Christ. He said there could be no agreement between minds when each party embraced opposing forms of faith. Anyone who sought assistance needed from the start a fellow-soldier of his own creed; there could be no partners in great enterprises who were divided by principles of spiritual devotion. This decision brought deliverance to his guest and publicity for his own piety. When Harald had been ritually baptized, Louis immediately strengthened him with Saxon reinforcements.
4.37.Trusting to these, he applied care and expense to erecting a church in the district of Schleswig,24 to be consecrated to God. Once he had adopted the pattern of a devout life from the practices of Rome, he dishonoured pagan idolatry, uprooted its shrines, outlawed the sacrificial attendants, and abolished the priesthood; thus he was the first to bring Christian rites to a primitive land and by extirpating the worship of devils fostered the true belief. Finally he paid most scrupulous attention to everything which might help to preserve this religion. Even so, he began his scheme with more holiness than success. For once Ragnar appeared he desecrated the hallowed rites introduced by Harald, annulled the true worship, restored the false religion to its ancient position, and gave his blessing to its ceremonies. Harald, on the run, now staked his fortunes on impiety instead. As he had been the leading pattern for the new belief he was the first to display its neglect; from being the glorious promoter of this blessed faith he emerged a notorious apostate.
4.38.Meanwhile Ælla took himself to Ireland, where he put to torture and the sword all who had bound themselves in close loyalty to Ragnar. When the latter launched a naval attack on Ælla, the Almighty wrought due punishment on Ragnar and made him pay visibly for his spurning of Christianity. He was seized and thrown into a prison in which snakes were allowed to feed on his guilty limbs and the shreds of his entrails provided a dismal sustenance for vipers. After they had gnawed his liver and a serpent lay siege to his heart like some deadly executioner, he reviewed the achievements of his whole career in undaunted tones, adding this coda to the end of his narrative: 'If the young pigs had only known the distress of their boar, they'd certainly break into the sty and release him from his suffering pg 663without delay.'25 Since Ælla understood this to mean that some of Ragnar's sons were still living, he gave orders for the tormentors to abstain and the adders to be removed. But when his henchmen had run forward to carry out his bidding, it was found that Ragnar had anticipated the king's command and was dead.
4.39.What can we say except that he was divided between two different fates? One had given him an unimpaired fleet, a beneficial empire, and a fine efficiency in pirating, the other had imposed the ruin of his splendour, the slaughter of his fellow-soldiers, and a most bitter end to his life, when the tormentor watched him entwined by venomous reptiles, vipers glutting themselves on a heart which he had borne unflinching in the face of every danger. By his descent from brilliant conquests to the abject lot of a prisoner he taught us that no one should put too much trust in Fortune.
5.1.Ivar, as chance would have it, learnt of this calamity while he was watching sports. Nevertheless without the least sign of any unusual weakening, he retained the same expression on his face, gave no indication of his suppressed misery at the announcement of his father's death, and did not even allow any clamour to arise, but forbade the people, stunned by the report, to leave the stadium. His features therefore did not discard their cheerfulness, for he had no wish to put an end to the games by interrupting the spectacle, nor did he turn his gaze inward from the clapping crowd to his own personal sorrow, in case he should suddenly collapse from the most spirited celebration into the deepest dejection and be seen to have played the part of a grief-stricken son instead of a vivacious leader.
5.2.Sigvard, however, on receiving the same message, thought more about the love he bore his father than personal suffering and, in a state of shock, plunged deep into his foot the spear which he happened to be holding, insensible of the injury to his person through the asperity of his grief. He was prepared to do serious harm to a portion of his body to help him endure the mental blow more stoically. His action revealed bravery and anguish both at once, since he split his situation into two halves, heart-broken son and man of inflexibility.
pg 6655.3.The news of his father's death was brought to Bjørn while he was playing a dice game; snatching up a die, he squeezed it so violently that blood was forced from his fingers and dripped on to the board; on this occasion he learnt certainly that the cast of Fate was more capricious than the actual cube he was throwing. Hearing of these events, Ælla decided that, of the three, the one who had exhibited no filial compassion had taken his father's death with the most iron fortitude, and for this reason regarded Ivar's courage as his severest threat.
5.4.Now Ivar, after making the passage to English shores, found his fleet too weak to grapple with the enemy's; therefore, setting guile above daring, he tested his wits on Ælla and asked for a piece of land large enough to be encircled by a horse hide, as a pledge of truce between them. His demand was met. The English king reckoned this boon would cost him little and was delighted that such a mighty enemy was begging not for something huge, but trifling; a very small skin, he imagined, would encompass a mere patch. Ivar, however, cut the hide into extremely thin laces and stretched them out until he had surrounded an area of ground suitable for raising a city on. Ælla was now filled with remorse at his lavishness, for he understood the dimensions of the leather too late and could make a fairer estimate of this little skin after it had been divided than when it was in one piece. What he had believed would enfold a minute plot of earth he saw investing a broad extent of acres. Ivar, once he had founded his city, imported supplies which would amply serve against siege, since he was eager to fortify it against famine as well as defend it from his enemies.
5.5.In the meanwhile, when Sigvard and Bjørn arrived with a fleet of four hundred vessels, they issued the king with an open challenge to battle. It was fought at a prearranged time and Ælla captured; they ordered his back to be carved with the figure of an eagle,26 exultant because at his overthrow they were imprinting the cruellest of birds on their most ferocious enemy. Not satisfied with inflicting wounds, they salted the torn flesh. After Ælla had thus been destroyed, Bjørn and Sigvard sailed back for their own domains, while Ivar held England for two years.
pg 6675.6.During these events the Danes, persistently rebellious, had taken to war and conferred the kingship publicly on a certain Sigvard and Erik, both of royal blood. The sons of Ragnar together attacked them with a navy of seventeen hundred ships off Schleswig and killed them after six months of fighting. Burial-mounds remain there as testimony; similarly the bay where the engagement took place was rendered famous by Sigvard's death. And now, apart from Ragnar's sons, the royal stock had very nearly been extinguished. Next, after Bjørn and Erik had returned to their homes, Ivar and Sigvard settled again in Denmark in order to keep a tighter rein on the insurgents, while Agner they made governor of England. The latter was provoked by the Englishmen's rejection of him to evacuate the inhabitants from this disdainful province with Sigvard's help; he would rather those acres lie without cultivation, unyielding through neglect, than nourish arrogant farmers, and he believed it preferable to turn the island's rich fields into an ugly wilderness instead of trying to govern this bumptious race. Afterwards he was keen to exact vengeance for the death of Erik in Sweden, who had been removed through the malice of someone called Östen; but while he was closely bent on revenging another, he paid the foe with his own blood; eagerly seeking retribution for his murdered kinsman, he sacrificed his own life to brotherly affection.
5.7.Sigvard, supported by the unanimous vote of the entire Danish assembly, took over his father's empire. After widespread slaughters he was happy to enjoy honour at home and now thought it better to be esteemed noble in civilian dress, not armour; abandoning camp life, from being a ruler of great violence he began to act as a scrupulous guardian of peace, finding as much attractiveness in ease and tranquillity as he had previously thought rested in a string of victories. Fortune favoured his change in aims to such an extent that as he distressed nobody with hostilities, so no one harassed him.
5.8.When death took him, he left a very small child, Erik,27 to inherit his nature rather than his kingdom or peace. For Erik, the brother of Harald, despising his namesake's tender years, invaded the country with a band of revolutionaries and seized the royal crown; with no qualms about challenging the boy's rightful leadership nor wresting the sovereignty from him illegally, he proved himself less worthy to reign in that he was ready to despoil a powerless individual. He divested him of his sceptre, himself of virtues, and in making an armed assault against an infant stripped all manliness from his heart. pg 669Where greed and ambition flare up no place can be found in the same blood for tenderness. However, the vengeance of divine wrath requited this lack of human decency. All at once war started between him and Guttorm, Harald's son, ending with such carnage that both of them lost their lives along with countless others; then the Danish royal line, spent with these fearful massacres, was reduced to the one son of the Sigvard I wrote of before.
6.1.Through the loss of his relations he had the luck to attain the throne, more fortunate in this case to have his kinsmen dead than alive; in the absence of other models of activity, he moved in the steps of his grandfather and suddenly emerged as a whole-hearted practitioner of piracy. If only he had not behaved like the headstrong heir of Ragnar's spirit by stamping out the worship of Christ! With steady persistence he would torture all who observed the deepest piety, strip them of their property, or punish them with exile. Nevertheless it would be futile to criticize his beginnings when I am going to applaud the latter part of his career; a man's life is more praiseworthy when a bad opening is effaced by a glorious close rather than where, after a pleasing start, he runs downhill into mischiefs and crimes. For Erik, setting aside the profanity of a misguided mind on the wholesome advice of Ansgar,28 atoned for all the offences of his pride and spent as much energy in fostering Christianity as he had before in spurning it. Not only did his receptive soul draw draughts of a healthier doctrine, but he also wiped away the stains of his youth through his later purity. At the time of his death he left behind Cnut, whom the daughter of Guttorm, Harald's grandchild, had borne him.
7.1.While Cnut remained an infant, a guardian was needed both for him and the realm; but, as most people thought the responsibility of such an office would create envy or be difficult to fulfil, they decided to select a man by lot. The wisest Danes, nervous of making an arbitrary choice for such an outstanding post, gave greater initiative to someone else's presiding destiny than to their own judgements; the outcome of the election was referred to chance in preference to settled deliberation. So it came about that Enni-Gnup, a man of strong and untainted virtue, was forced to stoop his shoulders to this heavy task and embark on a role of tutelage decreed by fate, involving the pg 671protection of the whole commonwealth no less than the cradle of an individual monarch. This is why some inexpert historians ascribe a central place to him in their chronicles. After Cnut had run through the course of his youth and reached the strength of manhood, he set aside those who had devoted their services to his upbringing; whereas folk had almost no hopes for this young man, he turned out to be an unexpected pattern of uprightness, only to be lamented in one feature, that he made the passage from life to death without espousing the emblems of the Christian faith.
8.1.Soon the supreme authority passed to his son Frothi. His circumstances, sustained by arms and warfare, advanced to such a pitch of good fortune that he drove back under their ancient yoke the provinces which had once seceded from Denmark, and bound them to obedience as of old. He also presented himself in England, a country which had long been well acquainted with Christianity, to be sprinkled with holy water. In a desire that his personal salvation should be freely extended to his people, he asked Agapetus,29 at that period pope in the city of Rome, to teach the Danes about God. But before his prayers could be realized he ended his days; the idea outstripped the actual achievement, since his death preceded the arrival of the Roman mission; even so, he gained as much reward in heaven through his pious intent as is vouchsafed to the rest through their actions.
9.1.His son Gorm, who was given the nickname of 'Englishman' because of his birth in England,30 took over the royal command after his father's decease, while he was on that island, but though his fortune was quickly attained it did not persist long. For as he journeyed to Denmark to arrange affairs there, he discovered that his brief withdrawal meant a lasting loss. The English, who were counting on his absence for their chances of liberty, engineered a national rebellion against the Danes, putting their trust in swift revolt. But the more he was scorned and resented by the English, the more devotedly the Danes revered him. Therefore, while he stretched out hands eager for empire towards each of the two provinces, he held one but lost control of the other beyond recall, since he never at any time made a valiant attempt at its recovery. It is very difficult to keep a grasp on over-extensive dominions.
pg 67310.1.Subsequently his son Harald came to the Danish sovereignty; posterity has only a dim recollection of him and he left no record of mighty achievements, because he sought to conserve the royal strength rather than enhance it.
11.1.After him Gorm attained the summit of power;31 he was always malignantly disposed towards the true faith and desired to obliterate the toleration of Christians just as though they were the foulest of mankind. Those who subscribed to their precepts he vexed with all manner of injuries and never rested from hounding them with every slander he could. Further than that, in order to restore the primitive worship to the shrines, he treated a church which had been established by a religious community on a plot of land in Schleswig32 as if it were some impious dwelling of ungodliness and razed it to its very foundations, punishing those he could not lay his hands on to torment by demolishing their holy chapel. Although he was reckoned outstanding in height, his spirit bore little correspondence with his physique. In conduct he restricted himself to the satisfaction of ruling, so that he was happy to maintain his authority without enlarging it; he believed it fitter to protect his own property before encroaching on others', concerned to guard his acquisitions rather than acquire their increase.
11.2.Encouraged by his nobles to perform the rites of marriage, he courted Thyra, daughter of Æthelred, the English king,33 longing to make her his wife. Excelling other women, as she did, in dignity and enterprise, she laid one condition on her suitor: she declared that she could only marry him if she received Denmark as her wedding present. On these terms she became engaged to Gorm, but on the night when she first climbed into the marriage bed she addressed persistent entreaties to her husband that she be allowed abstinence from intercourse with him for three days; she was in fact determined not to indulge in love-making until she had learnt through some dream-omen that their union would be fruitful. By feigning moderation she hindered the proving of their wedlock, putting on a show of bashfulness to cover this scheme of ascertaining their issue; thus she postponed their interchange of sensual delight with a specious pg 675modesty in order to investigate the prospects for the continuance of their line. Others suppose she declined the caresses of the nuptial couch so that by her continence she could win her bridegroom over to Christianity.
11.3.Although the young man's ardent soul remained deeply bent on her love, he preferred to respect another's restraint before his own pleasures and thought it more gallant to control his impulses during the night than rebuff his girl's tearful wishes, believing that her pleas, which really sprang from calculation, were allied to her reserve. The result was that, when he should have played the part of a husband, he became the ward of her chastity, not wishing at the outset of their wedded life to be censured for a lecherous mind as if he paid more heed to his strong lusts than personal propriety. So that he should not appear to be snatching the maiden's ungranted love prematurely in carnal embraces, he even stopped their sides from having contact by placing a naked sword between them and made the bed like a mutual dwelling with divided compartments for himself and his bride.
11.4.However, because of a fortunate type of dream he soon tasted the joy his voluntary kindness had deferred. While his mind was sunk in slumber, he imagined that two birds, one larger than the other, fluttered forth out of his wife's womb, then hovered in the air before soaring to the sky and after a short interval returned to perch one on each of his hands. A second and a third time, after refreshing themselves in a short rest, they took off with outstretched wings, till at last the smaller of them flew back to him alone, its feathers smeared with blood. Bewildered by the vision and still heavy with sleep, he emitted a groan prompted by his stupefaction and then filled the whole house with rousing cries. While he was explaining what he had observed in answer to the servants' questions, Thyra, understanding that she would be blessed with progeny, discarded the idea of putting off the consummation, eagerly renounced the virginity she had desperately implored him to preserve and, exchanging celibacy for sexual love, gave her husband the welcome chance to possess her; she compensated for his virtuous self-control by the total liberality with which she allowed him to consort with her, though she stated that she would not have become his true wife had she not gathered from the shadowy images of his dream a certainty that she would enjoy fertility. By a scheme as subtle as it was strange her simulated shyness developed into a knowledge that she was to bear children. pg 677Nor did Fate cheat her expectations; she shortly became the happy mother of two sons, Harald and Cnut.
11.5.Once they had reached manhood they put out with their fleet and quelled the unbridled impudence of the Wends; nor for that matter did they allow England to go free from the same kind of persecution. Æthelred, delighted with his grandsons' promise, gained pleasure from the violence they inflicted on him and welcomed this terrible outrage as though it were the most generous favour. He found much more virtue in their courageousness than in any respect for himself,34 believing it more creditable to be challenged by such assailants than revered by sluggards, as if he perceived evidence of their future hardiness in their daring natures. He could not doubt that some day they would invade foreign lands if they were now claiming their mother's inheritance so boldly. Because he esteemed injuries from them much more highly than services, he passed over his daughter and bequeathed England to them in his will; he did not hesitate to give greater weight to the name of grandfather than father, and this was wise, since he knew that it is considerably finer and more fitting for men than women to handle a kingdom and reckoned that the position of his peace-loving daughter and his warlike grandsons should be kept distinct. In the event Thyra felt no grudge in being herself disinherited and seeing her sons made the legatees of her father's possessions. She considered that their preferment would shed more honour than reproach upon herself.
11.6.These two, after enriching themselves with repeated gains from piracy, with unswerving optimism extended their aspirations towards the seizure of Ireland. When Dublin, which was considered the capital of the province, lay under siege, the Irish king entered a wood adjoining the city with a mere handful of skilful archers; there, using an indirect and cunning method, from far off he aimed an injurious arrow at Cnut, who was attending a sports display at night amid a heavy throng of his soldiers; the arrow struck the front of his body and dealt him a mortal wound. Cnut wished to keep his injured state concealed, since he was afraid the enemy might greet his critical condition with an outburst of joy, and therefore, though his voice was at its last gasp, ordered that the games should carry on to the end without any commotion. By this artifice he enabled the Danes to win Ireland before the Irish were aware of his death. Who would not mourn the end of this man, whose guidance was sufficient to achieve pg 679victory for his warriors in a scheme which operated longer than his life? The Danes had found themselves in extreme difficulties and were so enveloped by dangers that they almost abandoned hope of preservation; but because they obeyed their dying leader's instructions, they very soon triumphed over the race which had caused their fears.
11.7.At this period Gorm had advanced to the very end of his days, having passed a long succession of years in blindness; in prolonging his old age to the ultimate bound allotted to human beings he became more concerned about his sons' lives and advancement than the remnant of his own existence. So dear to his heart was the elder boy that he swore he would personally kill the one who first brought tidings of his death. When Thyra chanced to hear the news that he had undoubtedly been slain, since no one dared to broach the matter openly to Gorm she grasped at her own ingenuity for aid and revealed by actions the disaster she was afraid to betray by word of mouth. After taking the royal robes from her husband's shoulders, she draped him with shabbier ones and brought other symbols of grief to show there was a reason for mourning; our ancestors used to have these accoutrements on funeral occasions and would demonstrate bitter sorrow by the severity of their dress. 'What are you telling me? That Cnut is dead?' Gorm asked. 'They were your words', Thyra answered. 'I didn't announce it.' Her reply brought about her husband's end and her own widowhood, so that she bewailed her son and her spouse at one and the same time. While she acknowledged to Gorm his child's fate, she united them in death, attended the burials of both35 with equal tears, and devoted a wife's lamentations to one, a mother's to the other, though at that moment she needed cheer and comfort, not a bombardment of calamities.