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13: Magnus the Blind, Harald Gylle, and Mutual Extinction of the Haarfagrs

<< 12: Olaf the Tranquil, Magnus Barefoot, and Sigurd the Crusader || 14: Sverrir and Descendants, to Hakon the Old >>


On Sigurd the Crusader's death, Magnus naturally came to the throne; Gylle keeping silence and a cheerful face for the time. But it was not long till claim arose on Gylle's part, till war and fight arose between Magnus and him, till the skilful, popular, ever-active and shifty Gylle had entirely beaten Magnus; put out his eyes, mutilated the poor body of him in a horrid and unnamable manner, and shut him up in a convent as out of the game henceforth. There in his dark misery Magnus lived now as a monk; called "Magnus the Blind" by those Norse populations; King Harald Gylle reigning victoriously in his stead. But this also was only for a time. There arose avenging kinsfolk of Magnus, who had no Irish accent in their Norse, and were themselves eager enough to bear rule in their native country. By one of these,a terribly stronghanded, fighting, violent, and regardless fellow, who also was a Bastard of Magnus Barefoot's, and had been made a Priest, but liked it unbearably ill, and had broken loose from it into the wildest courses at home and abroad; so that his current name got to be "Slembi-diakn," Slim or Ill Deacon, under which he is much noised of in Snorro and the Sagas: by this Slim-Deacon, Gylle was put an end to (murdered by night, drunk in his sleep); and poor blind Magnus was brought out, and again set to act as King, or King's Cloak, in hopes Gylle's posterity would never rise to victory more. But Gylle's posterity did, to victory and also to defeat, and were the death of Magnus and of Slim-Deacon too, in a frightful way; and all got their own death by and by in a ditto. In brief, these two kindreds (reckoned to be authentic enough Haarfagr people, both kinds of them) proved now to have become a veritable crop of dragon's teeth; who mutually fought, plotted, struggled, as if it had been their life's business; never ended fighting and seldom long intermitted it, till they had exterminated one another, and did at last all rest in death. One of these later Gylle temporary Kings I remember by the name of Harald Herdebred, Harald of the Broad Shoulders. The very last of them I think was Harald Mund (Harald of the Wry-Mouth), who gave rise to two Impostors, pretending to be Sons of his, a good while after the poor Wry-Mouth itself and all its troublesome belongings were quietly underground. What Norway suffered during that sad century may be imagined.


<< 12: Olaf the Tranquil, Magnus Barefoot, and Sigurd the Crusader || 14: Sverrir and Descendants, to Hakon the Old >>