King Håkon I The Good Haraldsson of Norway
- Born: Abt 928, Norway
- Marriage: Unknown
- Died: 961, Stord, Hordaland, Norway about age 33
- Buried: 961, Saeheim, North Hordaland, Norway
King of Norway Håkon I Adalsteinsfóstri Haraldsson was given a sword,
of which the hilt and handle were gold, and the blade still better;
for with it Hakon cut down a mill-stone to the centre eye, and the
sword thereafter was called the Quernbite. He was soon grew handsome,
large in size, and very like his father King Harald. He was an
accomplished skald, and he was larger, stronger and more beautiful
than other men; he was a man of understanding and eloquence, and also
a good Christian.
Håkon I also went by the name of Hakon "the Good." The youngest son
of Harald Fairhair, born when Harald was seventy. He was baptized;
Earl Sigurd poured water over him, and called him Hakon, after his own
father, Hakon earl of Hlader. He was raised at the court of King
Athelstan of England, who had Håkon baptized, and brought up in the
right faith, and in good habits, and all sorts of good manners, and he
loved Håkon above all his relations; and Håkon was beloved by all men.
He was henceforth called Athelstan's foster-son before 934. He heard
the news of his father's death and immediately made himself ready to
depart, with his foster-father, King Athelstan, giving him men, and a
choice of good ships, and fitted him out for his journey most
excellently, in 934.
Håkon was King of Norway between 934 and 961. He returned to Norway on
the death of his father and deposed his brother, Eric Bloodaxe, to the
throne of Norway in 935. He was at a feast in Hordaland in the house
at Fitjar on the island Stord, and he had with him at the feast his
court and many of the peasants. And just as the king was seated at the
supper-table, his watchmen who were outside observed many ships coming
sailing along from the south, and not very far from the island, the
son's of Eirik Bloodaxe and their two uncles, had come to attack in
960 in Fitjar, on the island Stord, Hordaland, Norway. He was very
conspicuous among other men, and also when the sun shone his helmet
glanced, and thereby many weapons were directed at him. Then Eyvind
Finson took a hat and put it over the king's helmet. Now Eyvind
Skreyja called out, "Does the king of the Norsemen hide himself, or
has he fled? Where is now the golden helmet?" Then Eyvind, and his
brother Alf with him, pushed on like fools or madmen. King Håkon
shouted to Eyvind, "Come on as thou art coming, and thou shalt find
the king of the Norsemen," and thereupon the king takes his sword
Kvernbit with both hands, and hewed Eyvind through helm and head, and
clove him down to the shoulders.
When King Håkon came out to his ship he had his wound bound up; but
the blood ran from it so much and so constantly, that it could not be
stopped; and when the day was drawing to an end his strength began to
leave him. Then he told his men that he wanted to go northwards to his
house at Alreksstader; but when he came north, as far as Hakonarhella
Hill, they put in towards the land, for by this time the king was
almost lifeless. Then he called his friends around him, and told them
what he wished to be done with regard to his kingdom. He had only one
child, a daughter, called Thora, and had no son. Now he told them to
send a message to Eirik's sons, that they should be kings over the
country; but asked them to hold his friends in respect and honour.
"And if fate," added he, "should prolong my life, I will, at any rate,
leave the country, and go to a Christian land, and do penance for what
I have done against God; but should I die in heathen land, give me any
burial you think fit."
Shortly afterwards Håkon expired, at the little hill on the shore-side
at which he was born. So great was the sorrow over Håkon's death, that
he was lamented both by friends and enemies; and they said that never
again would Norway see such a king.
Håkon I was buried in Saeheim, North Hordaland, Norway. "Hakon,
although a Christian, appears to have favoured the old religion, and
spared the temples of Odin, and therefore a place in Valhal is
His friends removed his body to Saeheim, in North Hordaland, and made
a great mound, in which they laid the king in full armour and in his
best clothes, but with no other goods. They spoke over his grave, as
heathen people are used to do, and wished him in Valhal.
Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed a poem on the death of King Håkon, and
on how well he was received in Valhal. The poem is called "Håkonarmal"
and ends in this way:
"Sooner shall Fenriswolf devour
The race of man from shore to shore,
Than such a grace to kingly crown
As gallant Hakon want renown.
Life, land, friends, riches, all will fly,
And we in slavery shall sigh.
But Hakon in the blessed abodes
For ever lives with the bright gods."
40. BIRTH OF HÅKON THE GOOD.
Earl Hakon Grjotgardson of Hlader had the whole rule over
Throndhjem when King Harald was anywhere away in the country; and
Håkon stood higher with the king than any in the country of
Throndhjem. After Håkon's death his son Sigurd succeeded to his
power in Throndhjem, and was the earl, and had his mansion at
Hlader. King Harald's sons, Halfdan the Black and Sigrod, who
had been before in the house of his father Earl Håkon, continued
to be brought up in his house. The sons of Harald and Sigurd
were about the same age. Earl Sigurd was one of the wisest men
of his time, and married Bergljot, a daughter of Earl Thorer the
Silent; and her mother was Alof Arbot, a daughter of Harald
Harfager. When King Harald began to grow old he generally dwelt
on some of his great farms in Hordaland; namely, Alreksstader or
Saeheim, Fitjar, Utstein, or Ogvaldsnes in the island Kormt.
When Harald was seventy years of age he begat a son with a girl
called Thora Mosterstang, because her family came from Moster.
She was descended from good people, being connected with Kare
(Aslakson) of Hordaland; and was moreover a very stout and
remarkably handsome girl. She was called the king's servant-
girl; for at that time many were subject to service to the
king who were of good birth, both men and women. Then it was the
custom, with people of consideration, to choose with great care
the man who should pour water over their children, and give them
a name. Now when the time came that Thora, who was then at
Moster, expected her confinement, she would to King Harald, who
was then living at Saeheim; and she went northwards in a ship
belonging to Earl Sigurd. They lay at night close to the land;
and there Thora brought forth a child upon the land, up among the
rocks, close to the ship's gangway, and it was a man child. Earl
Sigurd poured water over him, and called him Hakon, after his own
father, Hakon earl of Hlader. The boy soon grew handsome, large
in size, and very like his father King Harald. King Harald let
him follow his mother, and they were both in the king's house as
long as he was an infant.
41. KING ATHELSTAN'S MESSAGE
At this time a king called Aethelstan had taken the Kingdom of
England. He was called victorious and faithful. He sent men to
Norway to King Harald, with the errand that the messengers should
present him with a sword, with the hilt and handle gilt, and also
the whole sheath adorned with gold and silver, and set with
precious jewels. The ambassador presented the sword-hilt to the
king, saying, "Here is a sword which King Athelstan sends thee,
with the request that thou wilt accept it." The king took the
sword by the handle; whereupon the ambassador said, "Now thou
hast taken the sword according to our king's desire, and
therefore art thou his subject as thou hast taken his sword."
King Harald saw now that this was an insult, for he would be
subject to no man. But he remembered it was his rule, whenever
anything raised his anger, to collect himself, and let his
passion run off, and then take the matter into consideration
coolly. Now he did so, and consulted his friends, who all gave
him the advice to let the ambassadors, in the first place, go
home in safety.
42. HAUK'S JOURNEY TO ENGLAND.
The following summer King Harald sent a ship westward to England,
and gave the command of it to Hauk Habrok. He was a great
warrior, and very dear to the king. Into his hands he gave his
son Hakon. Hank proceeded westward tn England, and found King
Athelstan in London, where there was just at the time a great
feast and entertainment. When they came to the hall, Hauk told
his men how they should conduct themselves; namely, that he who
went first in should go last out, and all should stand in a row
at the table, at equal distance from each other; and each should
have his sword at his left side, but should fasten his cloak so
that his sword should not be seen. Then they went into the hall,
thirty in number. Hauk went up to the king and saluted him, and
the king bade him welcome. Then Hauk took the child Håkon, and
set it on the king's knee. The king looks at the boy, and asks
Hauk what the meaning of this is. Hauk replies, "Herald the king
bids thee foster his servant-girl's child." The king was in
great anger, and seized a sword which lay beside him, and drew
it, as if he was going to kill the child. Hauk says, "Thou hast
borne him on thy knee, and thou canst murder him if thou wilt;
but thou wilt not make an end of all King Harald's sons by so
doing." On that Hauk went out with all his men, and took the way
direct to his ship, and put to sea, -- for they were ready, --
and came back to King Harald. The king was highly pleased with
this; for it is the common observation of all people, that the
man who fosters another's children is of less consideration than
the other. From these transactions between the two kings, it
appears that each wanted to be held greater than the other; but
in truth there was no injury, to the dignity of either, for each
was the upper king in his own kingdom till his dying day.
43. HAKON, THE FOSTER-SON OF ATHELSTAN, IS BAPTIZED.
King Athelstan had Håkon baptized, and brought up in the right
faith, and in good habits, and all sorts of good manners, and he
loved Hakon above all his relations; and Hakon was beloved by all
men. He was henceforth called Athelstan's foster-son. He was an
accomplished skald, and he was larger, stronger and more
beautiful than other men; he was a man of understanding and
eloquence, and also a good Christian. King Athelstan gave Hakon
a sword, of which the hilt and handle were gold, and the blade
still better; for with it Hakon cut down a mill-stone to the
centre eye, and the sword thereafter was called the Quernbite
(1). Better sword never came into Norway, and Hakon carried it
to his dying day.