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[OMACL release #15b]
The Heimskringla, by Snorri Sturlson


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                The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway


                           Snorri Sturlson

Originally written in Old Norse, app. 1225 A.D., by the poet and
historian Snorri Sturlson.  English translation by Samuel Laing
(London, 1844).

The text of this edition is based on that published as
"Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings" (Norroena Society,
London, 1907), except for "Ynglinga Saga", which for reasons
unknown is curiously absent from the Norroena Society edition. 
"Ynglinga Saga" text taken from Laing's original edition (London,

This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by
Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM), April 1996.  Some
corrections and "Ynglinga Saga" added courtesy of Ms. Diane
Brendan, May 1996.



The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas
concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to
the year A.D. 1177.

The Sagas covered in this work are the following:

1.  Ynglinga Saga
2.  Halfdan the Black Saga
3.  Harald Harfager's Saga
4.  Hakon the Good's Saga
5.  Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
6.  King Olaf Trygvason's Saga
7.  Saga of Olaf Haraldson (St. Olaf)
8.  Saga of Magnus the Good
9.  Saga of Harald Hardrade
10. Saga of Olaf Kyrre
11. Magnus Barefoot's Saga
12. Saga of Sigurd the Crusader and His Brothers Eystein and Olaf
13. Saga of Magnus the Blind and of Harald Gille
14. Saga of Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, the Sons of Harald
15. Saga of Hakon Herdebreid ("Hakon the Broad-Shouldered")
16. Magnus Erlingson's Saga

While scholars and historians continue to debate the historical
accuracy of Sturlason's work, the "Heimskringla" is still
considered an important original source for information on the
Viking Age, a period which Sturlason covers almost in its



Athalbjarnarson, Bjarni (ed.): "Heimskringla" vol. I-III
(Reykjavik, 1946-51).


Hollander, Lee M.: "Heimskringla" (University of Texas Press,

Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson: "King Harald's Saga"
(Penguin Classics, London, 1966).  "Saga of Harald Hardrade"

Morris, William and Eirikr Magnusson: "Heimskingla", in "Saga
Library", vol III-VI (London, 1893).


Jones, Gwyn: "A History of the Vikings" (Oxford University Press,
Oxford, 1968; Revised, 1984).



In this book I have had old stories written down, as I have heard
them told by intelligent people, concerning chiefs who have have
held dominion in the northern countries, and who spoke the Danish
tongue; and also concerning some of their family branches,
according to what has been told me.  Some of this is found in
ancient family registers, in which the pedigrees of kings and
other personages of high birth are reckoned up, and part is
written down after old songs and ballads which our forefathers
had for their amusement.  Now, although we cannot just say what
truth there may be in these, yet we have the certainty that old
and wise men held them to be true.

Thjodolf of Hvin was the skald of Harald Harfager, and he
composed a poem for King Rognvald the Mountain-high, which is
called "Ynglingatal."  This Rognvald was a son of Olaf
Geirstadalf, the brother of King Halfdan the Black.  In this
poem thirty of his forefathers are reckoned up, and the death and
burial-place of each are given.  He begins with Fjolner, a son of
Yngvefrey, whom the Swedes, long after his time, worshipped and
sacrificed to, and from whom the race or family of the Ynglings
take their name.

Eyvind Skaldaspiller also reckoned up the ancestors of Earl Hakon
the Great in a poem called "Haleygjatal", composed about Hakon;
and therein he mentions Saeming, a son of Yngvefrey, and he
likewise tells of the death and funeral rites of each.  The lives
and times of the Yngling race were written from Thjodolf's
relation enlarged afterwards by the accounts of intelligent

As to funeral rites, the earliest age is called the Age of
Burning; because all the dead were consumed by fire, and over
their ashes were raised standing stones.  But after Frey was
buried under a cairn at Upsala, many chiefs raised cairns, as
commonly as stones, to the memory of their relatives.

The Age of Cairns began properly in Denmark after Dan Milkillate
had raised for himself a burial cairn, and ordered that he should
be buried in it on his death, with his royal ornaments and
armour, his horse and saddle-furniture, and other valuable goods;
and many of his descendants followed his example.  But the
burning of the dead continued, long after that time, to be the
custom of the Swedes and Northmen.  Iceland was occupied in the
time that Harald Harfager was the King of Norway.  There were
skalds in Harald's court whose poems the people know by heart
even at the present day, together with all the songs about the
kings who have ruled in Norway since his time; and we rest the
foundations of our story principally upon the songs which were
sung in the presence of the chiefs themselves or of their sons,
and take all to be true that is found in such poems about their
feats and battles: for although it be the fashion with skalds to
praise most those in whose presence they are standing, yet no one
would dare to relete to a chief what he, and all those who heard
it, knew to be a false and imaginary, not a true account of his
deeds; because that would be mockery, not praise.


The priest Are Frode (the learned), a son of Thorgils the son of
Geller, was the first man in this country who wrote down in the
Norse language narratives of events both old and new.  In the
beginning of his book he wrote principally about the first
settlements in Iceland, the laws and government, and next of the
lagmen, and how long each had administered the law; and he
reckoned the years at first, until the time when Christianity was
introduced into Iceland, and afterwards reckoned from that to his
own times.  To this he added many other subjects, such as the
lives and times of kings of Norway and Denmark, and also of
England; beside accounts of great events which have taken place
in this country itself.  His narratives are considered by many
men of knowledge to be the most remarkable of all; because he was
a man of good understanding, and so old that his birth was as far
back as the year after Harald Sigurdson's fall.  He wrote, as he
himself says, the lives and times of the kings of Norway from the
report of Od Kolson, a grandson of Hal of Sida.  Od again took
his information from Thorgeir Afradskol, who was an intelligent
man, and so old that when Earl Hakon the Great was killed he was
dwelling at Nidarnes -- the same place at which King Olaf
Trygvason afterwards laid the foundation of the merchant town of
Nidaros (i.e., Throndhjem) which is now there.  The priest Are
came, when seven years old, to Haukadal to Hal Thorarinson, and
was there fourteen years.  Hal was a man of great knowledge and
of excellent memory; and he could even remember being baptized,
when he was three years old, by the priest Thanghrand, the year
before Christianity was established by law in Iceland.  Are was
twelve years of age when Bishop Isleif died, and at his death
eighty years had elapsed since the fall of Olaf Trygvason.  Hal
died nine years later than Bishop Isleif, and had attained nearly
the age of ninety-four years.  Hal had traded between the two
countries, and had enjoyed intercourse with King Olaf the Saint,
by which he had gained greatly in reputation, and he had become
well acquainted with the kingdom of Norway.  He had fixed his
residence in Haukadal when he was thirty years of age, and he had
dwelt there sixty-four years, as Are tells us.  Teit, a son of
Bishop Isleif, was fostered in the house of Hal at Haukadal, and
afterwards dwelt there himself.  He taught Are the priest, and
gave him information about many circumstances which Are
afterwards wrote down.  Are also got many a piece of information
from Thurid, a daughter of the gode Snorre.  She was wise and
intelligent, and remembered her father Snorre, who was nearly
thirty-five years of age when Christianity was introduced into
Iceland, and died a year after King Olaf the Saint's fall.  So it
is not wonderful that Are the priest had good information about
ancient events both here in Iceland, and abroad, being a man
anxious for information, intelligent and of excellent memory, and
having besides learned much from old intelligent persons.  But
the songs seem to me most reliable if they are sung correctly,
and judiciously interpreted.