2. HARALD'S JOURNEY TO CONSTANTINOPLE.
The spring after (A.D. 1031) Harald and Ragnvald got ships, and went east in summer to Russia to King Jarisleif, and were with him all the following winter. So says the skald Bolverk: --
"The king's sharp sword lies clean and bright, Prepared in foreign lands to fight: Our ravens croak to have their fill, The wolf howls from the distant hill. Our brave king is to Russia gone, -- Braver than he on earth there's none; His sharp sword will carve many feast To wolf and raven in the East."
King Jarisleif gave Harald and Ragnvald a kind reception, and made Harald and Ellif, the son of Earl Ragnvald, chiefs over the land-defence men of the king. So says Thiodolf: --
"Where Ellif was, one heart and hand The two chiefs had in their command; In wedge or line their battle order Was ranged by both without disorder. The eastern Vindland men they drove Into a corner; and they move The Lesians, although ill at ease, To take the laws their conquerors please."
Harald remained several years in Russia, and travelled far and wide in the Eastern land. Then he began his expedition out to Greece, and had a great suite of men with him; and on he went to Constantinople. So says Bolverk: --
"Before the cold sea-curling blast The cutter from the land flew past, Her black yards swinging to and fro, Her shield-hung gunwale dipping low. The king saw glancing o'er the bow Constantinople's metal glow From tower and roof, and painted sails Gliding past towns and wooded vales."
At that time the Greek empire was ruled by the Empress Zoe the Great, and with her Michael Catalactus. Now when Harald came to Constantinople he presented himself to the empress, and went into her pay; and immediately, in autumn, went on board the galleys manned with troops which went out to the Greek sea. Harald had his own men along with him. Now Harald had been but a short time in the army before all the Varings flocked to him, and they all joined together when there was a battle. It thus came to pass that Harald was made chief of the Varings. There was a chief over all the troops who was called Gyrger, and who was a relation of the empress. Gyrger and Harald went round among all the Greek islands, and fought much against the corsairs.