Now when King Edward had read this letter, he replied thus: "It is known to all men in this country that King Ethelred, my father, was udal-born to this kingdom, both after the old and new law of inheritance. We were four sons after him; and when he by death left the throne my brother Edmund took the government and kingdom; for he was the oldest of us brothers, and I was well satisfied that it was so. And after him my stepfather, Canute the Great, took the kingdom, and as long as he lived there was no access to it. After him my brother Harald was king as long as he lived; and after him my brother Hardaknut took the kingdoms both of Denmark and England; for he thought that a just brotherly division that he should have both England and Denmark, and that I should have no kingdom at all. Now he died, and then it was the resolution of all the people of the country to take me for king here in England. So long as I had no kingly title I served only superiors in all respects, like those who had no claims by birth to land or kingdom. Now, however, I have received the kingly title, and am consecrated king. I have established my royal dignity and authority, as my father before me; and while I live I will not renounce my title. If King Magnus come here with an army, I will gather no army against him; but he shall only get the opportunity of taking England when he has taken my life. Tell him these words of mine." The ambassadors went back to King Magnus, and told him the answer to their message. King Magnus reflected a while, and answered thus: "I think it wisest, and will succeed best, to let King Edward have his kingdom in peace for me, and that I keep the kingdoms God has put into my hands."
Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, was born in the year A.D. 1015, and left Norway A.D. 1030. He was called Hardrade, that is, the severe counsellor, the tyrant, though the Icelanders never applied this epithet to him. Harald helped the Icelanders in the famine of A.D. 1056, and sent them timber for a church at Thingvol. It was the Norwegians who gave him the name tyrant in contrast to the "debonairete" of Magnus. He came to Norway in A.D. 1046, and became sole king in A.D. 1047. He died in A.D. 1066, and his son and successor Magnus died in A.D. 1069.
His saga is to be compared with "Agrip", "Fagrskinna", and "Morkinskinna".
The skalds quoted are: Thiodolf, Bolverk, Illuge Bryndalaskald, Stuf the skald, Thorarin Skeggjason, Valgard o' Val, Od Kikinaskald, Grane Skald, Thorleik the Fair, Stein Herdison, Ulf the Marshal, Arnor the earls' skald, Thorkel Skallason, and King Harald Hardrade himself.
1. HARALD ESCAPES FROM THE BATTLE OF STIKLESTAD.
Harald, son of Sigurd Syr, brother of Olaf the Saint, by the same mother, was at the battle of Stiklestad, and was fifteen years old when King Olaf the Saint fell, as was before related. Harald was wounded, and escaped with other fugitives. So says Thiodolf: --
"At Haug the fire-sparks from his shield Flew round the king's head on the field, As blow for blow, for Olaf's sake, His sword and shield would give and take. Bulgaria's conqueror, I ween, Had scarcely fifteen winters seen, When from his murdered brother's side His unhelmed head he had to hide."
Ragnvald Brusason led Harald from the battle, and the night after the fray took him to a bonde who dwelt in a forest far from other people. The peasant received Harald, and kept him concealed; and Harald was waited upon until he was quite cured of his wounds. Then the bonde's son attended him on the way east over the ridge of the land, and they went by all the forest paths they could, avoiding the common road. The bonde's son did not know who it was he was attending; and as they were riding together between two uninhabited forests, Harald made these verses: