saints of july: way-back great-grandpa canute the holy, king of denmark

Among saints who celebrate a feast day in the month of July is my roughly 26th great-grandfather1, King of Denmark Canute IV of Denmark (born circa 1040–murdered July 10, 1086, as he knelt in front of the altar of Saint Alban’s Church in Odense, Denmark2,3), aka Canute the Holy / St. Canute IV / Canute IV Knud the Holy Of Denmark, and various variations thereof.

Murder of St. Canute the Holy:  1843 Christian Albrecht von Benzon (1816-1849) painting3

Per Wikipedia3“Canute was an ambitious king who sought to strengthen the Danish monarchy, devotedly supported the Roman Catholic Church, and had designs on the English throne.  Slain by rebels in 1086, he was the first Danish king to be canonized.  He was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as patron saint of Denmark in 1101.”  Wikipedia continues:

“Canute was born c. 1042, one of the many sons of Sweyn II Estridsson.  He is first noted as a member of Sweyn’s 1069 raid of England, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that Canute was one of the leaders of another raid against England in 1075.  When returning from England in 1075, the Danish fleet stopped in the County of Flanders.  Because of its hostility towards William I of England, Flanders was a natural ally for the Danes.  He also led successful campaigns to Sember and Ester, according to skald Kálfr Mánason.

St. Canute, King of Denmark4

“When Sweyn died, Canute’s brother Harald III was elected king, and as Canute went into exile in Sweden, he was possibly involved in the active opposition to Harald.  On 17 April 1080, Harald died; and Canute succeeded him to the throne of Denmark…  On his accession, he married Adela, daughter of Count Robert I of Flanders.  She bore him one son, Charles (a name uncommon in Denmark in 1084…), and twin daughters Cæcilia (who married Erik Jarl) and Ingerid (who married Folke the Fat), born shortly before his death (ca. 1085/86).  Ingerid’s descendants, the House of Bjelbo, would ascend to the throne of Sweden and Norway and Canute IV’s blood returned to the Danish throne in the person of first Olaf II of Denmark.

King of Denmark
“Canute quickly proved himself to be a highly ambitious king as well as a devout one.  He enhanced the authority of the church, and demanded austere observation of church holidays.  He gave large gifts to the churches in Dalby, Odense, Roskilde, and Viborg, and especially to Lund.  Ever a champion of the Church, he sought to enforce the collection of tithes.  His aggrandizement of the church served to create a powerful ally, who in turn supported Canute’s power position.

“In May 1085, Canute wrote a letter of donation to Lund Cathedral which was under construction, granting it large tracts of lands in Scania, Zealand, and Amager.  He founded Lund Cathedral School at the same time.  Canute had gathered the land largely as pay for the pardon of outlawed subjects.  The clerics at Lund got extended prerogatives of the land, being able to tax and fine the peasantry there.  However, Canute kept his universal royal rights to pardon the outlaws, fine subjects who failed to answer his leding[sic] call to war, and demand transportation for his retinue.

“His reign was marked by vigorous attempts to increase royal power in Denmark, by stifling the nobles and keeping them to the word of the law.  Canute issued edicts arrogating to himself the ownership of common land, the right to the goods from shipwrecks, and the right to inherit the possessions of foreigners and kinless folk.  He also issued laws to protect freed thralls as well as foreign clerics and merchants.  These policies led to discontent among his subjects, who were unaccustomed to a king claiming such powers and interfering in their daily lives.

Aborted attempt on England
“But Canute’s ambitions were not purely domestic.  As the grandnephew of Canute the Great, who ruled England, Denmark and Norway until 1035, Canute considered the crown of England to be rightfully his.  He therefore regarded William I of England as a usurper.  In 1085, with the support of his father-in-law Count Robert and Olaf III of Norway, Canute planned an invasion of England and called his fleet in leding at the Limfjord.  The fleet never set sail, as Canute was preoccupied in Schleswig due to the potential threat of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, with whom both Denmark and Flanders were on unfriendly terms.  Canute feared the invasion of Henry, whose enemy Rudolf of Rheinfelden had sought refuge in Denmark.

“The warriors of the fleet, mostly made up of peasants who needed to be home for the harvest season, got weary of waiting, and elected Canute’s brother Olaf (the later Olaf I of Denmark) to argue their case.  This raised the suspicion of Canute, who had Olaf arrested and sent to Flanders.  The leding was eventually dispersed and the peasants tended to their harvests, but Canute intended to reassemble within a year.

“Before the fleet could reassemble, a peasant revolt broke out in Vendsyssel, where Canute was staying, in early 1086.  Canute first fled to Schleswig, and eventually to Odense.  On 10 July 1086, Canute and his men took refuge inside the wooden St. Alban’s Priory in Odense.  The rebels stormed into the church and slew Canute, along with his brother Benedict and seventeen of their followers, before the altar.  According to chronicler Ælnoth of Canterbury, Canute died following a lance thrust in the flank.  He was succeeded by Olaf as Olaf I of Denmark.

ecause of his martyrdom and advocacy of the Church, Canute quickly began to be considered a saint.  Under the reign of Olaf, Denmark suffered from crop failure, which was seen as divine retribution for the sacrilege killing of Canute.  Miracles were soon reported as taking place at his grave, and his canonization was already being sought during the reign of Olaf.

“On 19 April 1101, persuaded by the envoys from Eric III of Denmark, Pope Paschal II confirmed the ‘cult of Canute’ that had arisen, and King Canute IV was canonized as a saint under the name San Canuto.  He was the first Dane to be canonized.  10 July is recognised by the Catholic Church as his feast day.  In Sweden and Finland he is historically, however, partially associated with St. Knut’s Day, which in reality was celebrated in the memory of the death of his nephew, Canute Lavard. [<- Underlining, my own:  the two men are often confused.]

In 1300, his remains and those of his brother Benedict were interred in Saint Canute’s Cathedral, built in his honour, where his remains are on display.

“The reign of Canute has been interpreted differently through the times; from a violent king who tyrannized his subjects, to a strict but fair ruler who devotedly supported the Roman Catholic Church and fought for justice without regard to his own person.  He was never a thoroughly popular saint in Denmark, but his sainthood granted the Danish monarchy an aura of divine legitimacy.  The cause of the rebellion which killed Canute is unknown, but has been speculated as originating in fines issued to the peasants breaking the leding of 1085 as specified in the Chronicon Roskildense, or as a result of his vigorous tithe policy.

“The document of his donation to Lund Cathedral was the oldest comprehensive text from Denmark, and provided broad insights into Danish post-Viking Age society.  The donation might have had the aim of establishing the Danish Archdiocese of Lund according to Sweyn II Estridsson’s wishes, which was finally achieved in 1104.  Canute’s son Carl became Count of Flanders from 1119 to 1127, ruling as Charles the Good.  Like his father, Charles was martyred in a church by rebels (in Bruges, 1127), and later beatified.  According to Niels Lund, Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Copenhagen, Canute’s abortive invasion of England ‘marked the end of the Viking Age.’

“In 2008, an X-ray computed tomography was taken of Canute, which showed that he was right-handed and of a slender build.  It also specified his cause of death as a thrust to the sacrum through the abdomen, negating Ælnoth’s account.  He had no injuries indicating he fought against multiple enemies, which can be seen as supporting an account saying he faced his death without a struggle.”3

Grave of King Canute IV the Holy of Denmark at Odense Cathedral aka St. Canute’s Church; in Odense, Denmark3

Here’s a lighter bio-read for the children 🙂 :  St. Canute,” reads the “Holy Spirit Interactive Kids Zone:” …

“…was a strong, wise king of Denmark and was called Knud IV.  He was a great athlete, an expert horseman, and a marvelous general.  He married Adela, sister of Count Roberts of Flanders.

“At the beginning of his reign, he led a war against the barbarians and his army defeated them.  He loved the Christian faith so much that he introduced it to people who had never heard of Christianity.  Through his kingdom, he spread the gospel, built churches and supported missionaries.

“St. Canute knelt in church at the foot of the altar and offered his crown to the King of kings, Jesus.  King Canute was very charitable and gentle with his people.  He tried to help them with their problems.  Most of all, he wanted to help them be true followers of Jesus.

“But trouble started in his kingdom because of the laws he had made about supporting the Church and he fled to the Island of Fünen. Then one day some angry people went to the church of Saint Alban where Canute and some of his followers were praying. He knew they had come to harm him.

“While his enemies were still outside, King Canute received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion.  He felt compassion for those who were upset enough to kill him.  With all his heart he forgave his enemies.

“Then, as he prayed, a spear was thrown through a window and he was killed.  It was July 10, 1086.

“St. Canute tried to be a good king so he could thank Jesus for all the blessings he had received.  We, too, should thank God every day and offer him a crown made up of good deeds.”4

Bronze Statue of St. Canute at old Albani Church in Odense6

My ascent to Danish King St. Canute the Holy goes from my great-grandfather Carl Johan Eilertsen Fjelse (1848 Fjelse nedre Br.74, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway-Aft. Apr 1911 Norway) as follows:
-> Ellert Tollaksen Haugland (1806 Fjelse nedre Br.38.\Haugland, Hidra, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway-Aft. 1864)
-> Tollak Eriksen Osen (1768 Osen, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-Nov. 15, 1852 Fjelse nedre Br.37 II\Haugland, Hidra, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Erik Tollaksen Sporkland (Aug., 1723 Sporkland, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-June, 1811 Osen\Husmannsplass u\Prestegården, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Johannessen Sporkland (1689 Sporkland Br.1.III, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. Sept. 7, 1763 Sporkland Br.1.IV, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Johannes Tollaksen Sporkland (Abt. 1653 Sporkland Br.1. II, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. June 10, 1742 Sporkland Br.1.IV, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Sigbjørnsen Sporkland (Sporkland Br.1.I, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway-Apr. 2, 1685 Sporkland Br.1.II, Bakke\Sirdal, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Sigbjørn Tollaksen Sandsmark (1611, lived at Sandsmark ytre, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Tollak Sigbjørnsen Stordrange (Apr. 1, 1658 Sandsmark ytre, Bakke, Vest Agder, Norway-Bef. 1598 Storedrange, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Sigbjørn Torlaksen Drange (1530 Drange, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway- )
-> Torlak Gunnersen Stordrange (Bef. 1500 Stordrange Br.4.IV., Nes, Vest Agder, Norway- )
-> Gunnar Asbjørnsen Tengs aka Gunnar Osbjornson (1470 Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway-1546 Drangeid Br.4.IV, Nes, Vest Agder, Norway)
-> Unknown Gunbjørnsdtr Tengs (Tengs, Bjerkreim, Rogaland, Norway-same)
-> Gunnbjørn Tordsen Tengs (Tengs, Egersund, Rogaland, Norway-Aft. 1486 same)
-> Tore Gardsen Garå aka Tord (Tore) Gardson Benkestok (Abt. 1400 Garå, Talgje, Norway-Abt. 1454 same)
-> Ramborg Knutsdtr Lejon (Abt. 1360 Sweden-Aft. 1408 Finnø, Norway)
-> Knut Algotsen Lejon Folkunge IX aka Knut Algotsen
-> Algot Brynjulfson aka Algot Brynjulfson of Vestergtland
-> Brynjulf Bengtsen Lejon Gotland aka Brynjulf Bengtson
-> Bengt Magnusson aka II Bengt Hagfridsen Lejon; Bengt Hafridsson or Magnusson [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Magnus Eskilsson aka Peter Nef Eskildsen; Magnus Christinasson [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Eskild Magnussen [“Lagmann:” attorney]
-> Magnus Minneskold Bengtsson Folkunga aka Magnus Bengtsson Minneskjold Folkunga; Magnus Bengtsson
-> Bengt Snivel Folkunga aka Bengt Folkeson Snivel Folkunga; Benedikt Folkesen
-> Ingerid, or, Ingrid of Demark Knudsdtr.1
1 Norwegian genea
logist Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Flekkefjord, Vest-Agder county, Norway, “Ahnentafel of Sally Marie Eilertsen Fjelse” [“Knut IV SVEINSEN Den hellige…son of Konge Sven ESTRIDSEN…& Dronning Rannveig TORDSDTR Aurland”]prepared Oct.  23, 2001; source, Norwegian bygdebøker; in possession of myself.
2 “For All the Saints,” website of St. Patrick’s Church, Washington, D.C., “Canute IV of Denmark,” accessed Jan., 2002.
3 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Canute IV of Denmark,” at , accessed July, 2018.  (Wikipedia source citations omitted in the above; see Wikipedia for at link indicated.).
4 Image of St. Canute, from the Catholic Exchange, at , accessed July, 2018.
5 The “Holy Spirit Interactive Kids Zone,” “St. Canute,” at , accessed July 18, 2018.
6 Image of St. Canute statue from Visit Odense website at , accessed July, 2018.


who do i think i am? not who i thought i was, that’s for sure! — enter dna test results

Just got my DNA test results back, and the word is, I possess a whopping sixty-four percent Scandanavian ethnicity. 😮

As my four immediate grands are composed of but one Norwegian immigrant grandmother; an immigrant grandfather from England; my Buckner line — Brits who came here in colonial times; and, a fourth grandparent’s line that I’d sum up as a potpourri, I ask:  How can it be that I’m 64% Scandanavian? (So much for my grasp of DNA, biology and even math. 😦 )

So let’s just get right to who, it appears, I really am?  My Norsk line[1] includes more royalty than I can shake a fly swatter at — or a Viking sword — so I’ll just close my eyes, reach into a hat, and pull out a name.

Halfdan The Black As Portrayed By Finnish Actor Jasper Pääkkönen In The History Channel’s “Vikings” Series, 1of2 [2]

Aha!  Alright:  let me introduce you to one of my 36th great-grandfathers[1], King Halfdan the Black of Westfold, GUDRODSSON (797 A.D. Norway – 860 A.D. Norway).

The son of King Gudrød the Hunter of Vestfold, & Asa, King Harald of Agder’s daughter, Halfdan “by reason of his black hair, was called Halfdan the
Black[3].”  (Thus I’m not clear why Halfdan appears as a blonde in the History Channel’s acclaimed “Vikings”[2] series… — ?)

Halfdan The Black As Portrayed By Finnish Actor Jasper Pääkkönen In The History Channel’s “Vikings” Series, 2of2 [2]

Snorri Sturlason’s centuries-old HeimskringlaThe Chronicles of the Kings of Norway begins with the “Halfdan the Black Saga:”


“Halfdan was a year old when his father was killed, and his mother Asa set off immediately with him westwards to Agder, and set herself there in the kingdom which her father Harald had possessed. Halfdan grew up there, and soon became stout and strong; and, by reason of his black hair, was called Halfdan the Black. When he was eighteen years old he took his kingdom in Agder, and went immediately to Vestfold, where he divided that kingdom, as before related [in Snorri Sturlason’s Preface to the book], with his brother Olaf. The same autumn he went with an army to Vingulmark against King Gandalf. They had many battles, and sometimes one, sometimes the other gained the victory; but at last they agreed that Halfdan should have half of Vingulmark, as his father Gudrod had had it before. Then King Halfdan proceeded to Raumarike, and subdued it. King Sigtryg, son of King Eystein, who then had his residence in Hedemark, and who had subdued Raumarike before, having heard of this, came out with his army against King Halfdan, and there was great battle, in which King Halfdan was victorious; and just as King Sigtryg and his troops were turning about to fly, an arrow struck him under the left arm, and he fell dead. Halfdan then laid the whole of Raumarike under his power. King Eystein’s second son, King Sigtryg’s brother, was also called Eystein, and was then king in Hedemark. As soon as Halfdan had returned to Vestfold, King Eystein went out with his army to Raumarike, and laid the whole country in subjection to him.”

Great-Grandpapa Halfdan the Black’s saga goes on for eight more parts, and, although my original intention was to keep this a short post and simply direct the reader to the rest, what the hey.  For the interested among you, I’ll just give Halfdan’s whole saga here; those less enthralled can simply skim or skip their way to the end. 😉


“When King Halfdan heard of these disturbances in Raumarike, he again gathered his army together; and went out against King Eystein. A battle took place between them, and Halfdan gained the victory, and Eystein fled up to Hedemark, pursued by Halfdan. Another battle took place, in which Halfdan was again victorious; and Eystein fled northwards, up into the Dales to the herse Gudbrand. There he was strengthened with new people, and in winter he went towards Hedemark, and met Halfdan the Black upon a large island which lies in the Mjosen lake. There a great battle was fought, and many people on both sides were slain, but Halfdan won the victory. There fell Guthorm, the son of the herse Gudbrand, who was one of the finest men in the Uplands. Then Eystein fled north up the valley, and sent his relation Halvard Skalk to King Halfdan to beg for peace. On consideration of their relationship, King Halfdan gave King Eystein half of Hedemark, which he and his relations had held before; but kept to himself Thoten, and the district called Land. He likewise appropriated to himself Hadeland, and thus became a mighty king.


“Halfdan the Black got a wife called Ragnhild, a daughter of Harald Gulskeg (Goldbeard), who was a king in Sogn. They had a son, to whom Harald gave his own name; and the boy was brought up in Sogn, by his mother’s father, King Harald. Now when this Harald had lived out his days nearly, and was become weak, having no son, he gave his dominions to his daughter’s son Harald, and gave him his title of king; and he died soon after. The same winter his daughter Ragnhild died; and the following spring the young Harald fell sick and died at ten years of age. As soon as Halfdan the Black heard of his son’s death, he took the road northwards to Sogn with a great force, and was well received. He claimed the heritage and dominion after his son; and no opposition being made, he took the whole kingdom. Earl Atle Mjove (the Slender), who was a friend of King Halfdan, came to him from Gaular; and the king set him over the Sogn district, to judge in the country according to the country’s laws, and collect scat upon the king’s account. Thereafter King Halfdan proceeded to his kingdom in the Uplands.


“In autumn, King Halfdan proceeded to Vingulmark. One night when he was there in guest quarters, it happened that about midnight a man came to him who had been on the watch on horseback, and told him a war force was come near to the house. The king instantly got up, ordered his men to arm themselves, and went out of the house and drew them up in battle order. At the same moment, Gandalf’s sons, Hysing and Helsing, made their appearance with a large army. There was a great battle; but Halfdan being overpowered by the numbers of people fled to the forest, leaving many of his men on this spot. His foster-father, Olver Spake (the Wise), fell here. The people now came in swarms to King Halfdan, and he advanced to seek Gandalf’s sons. They met at Eid, near Lake Oieren, and fought there. Hysing and Helsing fell, and their brother Hake saved himself by flight. King Halfdan then took possession of the whole of Vingulmark, and Hake fled to Alfheimar.


“Sigurd Hjort was the name of a king in Ringerike, who was stouter and stronger than any other man, and his equal could not be seen for a handsome appearance. His father was Helge Hvasse (the Sharp); and his mother was Aslaug, a daughter of Sigurd the worm-eyed, who again was a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. It is told of Sigurd that when he was only twelve years old he killed in single combat the berserk Hildebrand, and eleven others of his comrades; and many are the deeds of manhood told of him in a long saga about his feats. Sigurd had two children, one of whom was a daughter, called Ragnhild, then twenty years of age, and an excellent brisk girl. Her brother Guthorm was a youth. It is related in regard to Sigurd’s death that he had a custom of riding out quite alone in the uninhabited forest to hunt the wild beasts that are hurtful to man, and he was always very eager at this sport. One day he rode out into the forest as usual, and when he had ridden a long way he came out at a piece of cleared land near to Hadeland. There the berserk Hake came against him with thirty men, and they fought. Sigurd Hjort fell there, after killing twelve of Hake’s men; and Hake himself lost one hand, and had three other wounds. Then Hake and his men rode to Sigurd’s house, where they took his daughter Ragnhild and her brother Guthorm, and carried them, with much property and valuable articles, home to Hadeland, where Hake had many great farms. He ordered a feast to be prepared, intending to hold his wedding with Ragnhild; but the time passed on account of his wounds, which healed slowly; and the berserk Hake of Hadeland had to keep his bed, on account of his wounds, all the autumn and beginning of winter. Now King Halfdan was in Hedemark at the Yule entertainments when he heard this news; and one morning early, when the king was dressed, he called to him Harek Gand, and told him to go over to Hadeland, and bring him Ragnhild, Sigurd Hjort’s daughter. Harek got ready with a hundred men, and made his journey so that they came over the lake to Hake’s house in the grey of the morning, and beset all the doors and stairs of the places where the house-servants slept. Then they broke into the sleeping-room where Hake slept, took Ragnhild, with her brother Guthorm, and all the goods that were there, and set fire to the house-servants’ place, and burnt all the people in it. Then they covered over a magnificent waggon, placed Ragnhild and Guthorm in it, and drove down upon the ice. Hake got up and went after them a while; but when he came to the ice on the lake, he turned his sword-hilt to the ground and let himself fall upon the point, so that the sword went through him. He was buried under a mound on the banks of the lake. When King Halfdan, who was very quick of sight, saw the party returning over the frozen lake, and with a covered waggon, he knew that their errand was accomplished according to his desire. Thereupon he ordered the tables to be set out, and sent people all round in the neighbourhood to invite plenty of guests; and the same day there was a good feast which was also Halfdan’s marriage-feast with Ragnhild, who became a great queen. Ragnhild’s mother was Thorny, a daughter of Klakharald king in Jutland, and a sister of Thrye Dannebod who was married to the Danish king, Gorm the Old, who then ruled over the Danish dominions.


“Ragnhild, who was wise and intelligent, dreamt great dreams. She dreamt, for one, that she was standing out in her herb-garden, and she took a thorn out of her shift; but while she was holding the thorn in her hand it grew so that it became a great tree, one end of which struck itself down into the earth, and it became firmly rooted; and the other end of the tree raised itself so high in the air that she could scarcely see over it, and it became also wonderfully thick. The under part of the tree was red with blood, but the stem upwards was beautifully green and the branches white as snow. There were many and great limbs to the tree, some high up, others low down; and so vast were the tree’s branches that they seemed to her to cover all Norway, and even much more.


“King Halfdan never had dreams, which appeared to him an extraordinary circumstance; and he told it to a man called Thorleif Spake (the Wise), and asked him what his advice was about it. Thorleif said that what he himself did, when he wanted to have any revelation by dream, was to take his sleep in a swine-sty, and then it never failed that he had dreams. The king did so, and the following dream was revealed to him. He thought he had the most beautiful hair, which was all in ringlets; some so long as to fall upon the ground, some reaching to the middle of his legs, some to his knees, some to his loins or the middle of his sides, some to his neck, and some were only as knots springing from his head. These ringlets were of various colours; but one ringlet surpassed all the others in beauty, lustre, and size. This dream he told to Thorleif, who interpreted it thus:—There should be a great posterity from him, and his descendants should rule over countries with great, but not all with equally great, honour; but one of his race should be more celebrated than all the others. It was the opinion of people that this ringlet betokened King Olaf the Saint.

“King Halfdan was a wise man, a man of truth and uprightness—who made laws, observed them himself, and obliged others to observe them. And that violence should not come in place of the laws, he himself fixed the number of criminal acts in law, and the compensations, mulcts, or penalties, for each case, according to every one’s birth and dignity.

“Queen Ragnhild gave birth to a son, and water was poured over him, and the name of Harald given him, and he soon grew stout and remarkably handsome. As he grew up he became very expert at all feats, and showed also a good understanding. He was much beloved by his mother, but less so by his father.


“King Halfdan was at a Yule-feast in Hadeland, where a wonderful thing happened one Yule evening. When the great number of guests assembled were going to sit down to table, all the meat and all the ale disappeared from the table. The king sat alone very confused in mind; all the others set off, each to his home, in consternation. That the king might come to some certainty about what had occasioned this event, he ordered a Fin to be seized who was particularly knowing, and tried to force him to disclose the truth; but however much he tortured the man, he got nothing out of him. The Fin sought help particularly from Harald, the king’s son, and Harald begged for mercy for him, but in vain. Then Harald let him escape against the king’s will, and accompanied the man himself. On their journey they came to a place where the man’s chief had a great feast, and it appears they were well received there. When they had been there until spring, the chief said, ‘Thy father took it much amiss that in winter I took some provisions from him,—now I will repay it to thee by a joyful piece of news: thy father is dead; and now thou shalt return home, and take possession of the whole kingdom which he had, and with it thou shalt lay the whole kingdom of Norway under thee.’


“Halfdan the Black was driving from a feast in Hadeland, and it so happened that his road lay over the lake called Rand. It was in spring, and there was a great thaw. They drove across the bight called Rykinsvik, where in winter there had been a pond broken in the ice for cattle to drink at, and where the dung had fallen upon the ice the thaw had eaten it into holes. Now as the king drove over it the ice broke, and King Halfdan and many with him perished. He was then forty years old. He had been one of the most fortunate kings in respect of good seasons. The people thought so much of him, that when his death was known and his body was floated to Ringerike to bury it there, the people of most consequence from Raumarike, Vestfold, and Hedemark came to meet it. All desired to take the body with them to bury it in their own district, and they thought that those who got it would have good crops to expect. At last it was agreed to divide the body into four parts. The head was laid in a mound at Stein in Ringerike, and each of the others took his part home and laid it in a mound; and these have since been called Halfdan’s Mounds.”[3]

Halfdan the Black Burial Mound at the Stein in Hole farm in Ringerike, Norway — Ole M. Hakvaag photo[4]

Rest in peace great-grandpapa.

1. “Ahnentafel of Sally Marie Eilertsen Fjelse,” prepared by Flekkefjord, Norway, genealogist & historian Signe Elisabeth Zijdemans, Åsnes 4400 Flekkefjord <>; printed on 30 Nov 2010. In possession of blog author.

2., “Vikings,” “Season 4,” at , accessed July 19, 2016.

3Heimskringla, or, The Chronicle Of The Kings Of Norway, by Snorri Sturlason (circa 1179-1241), poet & historian; originally written in Old Norse approximately 1225 A.D.  Online in full at Project Gutenberg, at, , accessed July 19, 2016.

4. “Archeology,” “A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America,” “Sinking Viking Ship?,” by Tom Bjornstad; Volume 51 Number 1, January/February 1998, at , accessed July 19, 2016.

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Maybe someone should write that down...

Writerly ways for Family Historians and Storytellers

Relative Storyboards

capturing my families' memories

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

Braiding Trees

Bringing my families together.

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