Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway

Author: Snorri Sturluson

88. Of the Icelanders.

Kjartan Olafson, a son’s son of Hoskuld, and a daughter’s son of Egil Skallagrimson, came the same autumn (A.D. 999) from Iceland to Nidaros, and he was considered to be the most agreeable and hopeful man of any born in Iceland. There was also Haldor, a son of Gudmund of Modruveller; and Kolbein, a son of Thord, Frey’s gode, and a brother’s son of Brennuflose; together with Sverting, a son of the gode Runolf. All these were heathens; and besides them there were many more, — some men of power, others common men of no property. There came also from Iceland considerable people, who, by Thangbrand’s help, had been made Christians; namely, Gissur the white, a son of Teit Ketilbjornson; and his mother was Alof, daughter of herse Bodvar, who was the son of Vikingakare. Bodvar’s brother was Sigurd, father of Eirik Bjodaskalle, whose daughter Astrid was King Olaf’s mother. Hjalte Skeggjason was the name of another Iceland man, who was married to Vilborg, Gissur the White’s daughter. Hjalte was also a Christian; and King Olaf was very friendly to his relations Gissur and Hjalte, who live with him. But the Iceland men who directed the ships, and were heathens, tried to sail away as soon as the king came to the town of Nidaros, for they were told the king forced all men to become Christians; but the wind came stiff against them, and drove them back to Nidarholm. They who directed the ships were Thorarin Nefjulson, the skald Halfred Ottarson, Brand the Generous, and Thorleik, Brand’s son. It was told the king that there were Icelanders with ships there, and all were heathen, and wanted to fly from a meeting with the king. Then the king sent them a message forbidding them to sail, and ordering them to bring their ships up to the town, which they did, but without discharging the cargoes. (They carried on their dealings and held a market at the king’s pier. In spring they tried three times to slip away, but never succeeded; so they continued lying at the king’s pier. It happened one fine day that many set out to swim for amusement, and among them was a man who distinguished himself above the others in all bodily exercises. Kjartan challenged Halfred Vandredaskald to try himself in swimming against this man, but he declined it. "Then will I make a trial," said Kjartan, casting off his clothes, and springing into the water. Then he set after the man, seizes hold of his foot, and dives with him under water. They come up again, and without speaking a word dive again, and are much longer under water than the first time. They come up again, and without saying a word dive a third time, until Kjartan thought it was time to come up again, which, however, he could in no way accomplish, which showed sufficiently the difference in their strength. They were under water so long that Kjartan was almost drowned. They then came up, and swam to land. This Northman asked what the Icelander’s name was. Kjartan tells his name.

He says, "Thou art a good swimmer; but art thou expert also in other exercises?"

Kjartan replied, that such expertness was of no great value.

The Northman asks, "Why dost thou not inquire of me such things as I have asked thee about?"

Kjartan replies, "It is all one to me who thou art, or what thy name is."

"Then will I," says he, "tell thee: I am Olaf Trygvason."

He asked Kjartan much about Iceland, which he answered generally, and wanted to withdraw as hastily as he could; but the king said, "Here is a cloak which I will give thee, Kjartan." And Kjartan took the cloak with many thanks.)" (1)

ENDNOTES: (1) The part included in parenthesis is not found in the
original text of "Heimskringla", but taken from "Codex


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Chicago: Snorri Sturluson, "88. Of the Icelanders.," Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Stanley Young in Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DKFML9TGUZ2J5G2.

MLA: Sturluson, Snorri. "88. Of the Icelanders." Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Stanley Young, in Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DKFML9TGUZ2J5G2.

Harvard: Sturluson, S, '88. Of the Icelanders.' in Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, Heimskringla, the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DKFML9TGUZ2J5G2.