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Olaf the Glorious A Story of the Viking Age   By: (1859-1934)

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The following narrative is not so much a story as a biography. My hero is not an imaginary one; he was a real flesh and blood man who reigned as King of Norway just nine centuries ago. The main facts of his adventurous career his boyhood of slavery in Esthonia, his life at the court of King Valdemar, his wanderings as a viking, the many battles he fought, his conversion to Christianity in England, and his ultimate return to his native land are set forth in the various Icelandic sagas dealing with the period in which he lived. I have made free use of these old time records, and have added only such probable incidents as were necessary to give a continuous thread of interest to the narrative. These sagas, like the epics of Homer, were handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, and they were not committed to writing until a long time after Olaf Triggvison's death, so that it is not easy to discriminate between the actual facts as they occurred and the mere exaggerated traditions which must surely have been added to the story of his life as it was told by the old saga men at their winter firesides. But in most instances the records corroborate each other very exactly, and it may be taken that the leading incidents of the story are historically true.

The Icelandic sagas have very little to say concerning Olaf Triggvison's unsuccessful invasion of England, and for this part of the story I have gone for my facts to the English chronicles of the time, wherein frequent allusion to him is made under such names as Anlaf, Olave, and Olaff. The original treaty of peace drawn up between King Ethelred the Second and Olaf still exists to fix the date of the invasion, while the famous battle of Maldon, in which the Norse adventurer gained a victory over the East Anglians, is described at length by a nameless contemporary poet, whose "Death of Brihtnoth" remains as one of the finest of early English narrative poems, full of noble patriotism and primitive simplicity.

I have given no dates throughout these pages, but for the convenience of readers who may wish for greater exactness it may be as well to state here that Olaf was born A.D. 963, that he started on his wanderings as a viking in the year 981, that the sea fight between the vikings of Jomsburg and the Norwegians took place in 986, and the battle of Maldon in the year 991. Olaf reigned only five years as King of Norway, being crowned in 995, and ending his reign with his death in the glorious defeat at Svold in the year 1000.



It happened in the beginning of the summer that Sigurd Erikson journeyed north into Esthonia to gather the king's taxes and tribute. His business in due course brought him into a certain seaport that stood upon the shores of the great Gulf of Finland.

He was a very handsome man, tall and strong, with long fair hair and clear blue eyes. There were many armed servants in his following, for he was a person of great consequence, and was held in high honour throughout the land.

He rode across the marketplace and there alighted from his horse, and turned his eyes towards the sea. Before him stretched the rippling, sunlit bay with its wooded holms. A fleet of fishing boats was putting out with the flood tide, and some merchant vessels lay at anchor under shelter of the green headland.

Nearer to the strand a long dragonship, with a tall gilded prow rising high above the deck tent, was moored against a bank of hewn rock that served as a wharf. At sight of the array of white shields along this vessel's bulwarks his eyes brightened, for he knew that she was a viking ship from his own birth land in distant Norway, and he was glad. Not often did it chance that he could hold speech with the bold warriors of the fiords.

Close by the ship there was a noisy crowd of men and boys. He strode nearer to them, and heard the hoarse voices of the vikings calling out in loud praise of a feat that had been performed by someone in their midst... Continue reading book >>

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