The Danish History, Books I-IX eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 572 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.
is founded and the not less famous one of Hamlet’s vengeance, or whether by steel, as with Hiartuar, or by trick, as in Wicar’s case above cited.  The reward for slaying a king is in one case 120 gold lbs.; 19 “talents” of gold from each ringleader, 1 oz. of gold from each commoner, in the story of Godfred, known as Ref’s gild, “i.e., Fox tax”.  In the case of a great king, Frode, his death is concealed for three years to avoid disturbance within and danger from without.  Captive kings were not as a rule well treated.  A Slavonic king, Daxo, offers Ragnar’s son Whitesark his daughter and half his realm, or death, and the captive strangely desires death by fire.  A captive king is exposed, chained to wild beasts, thrown into a serpent-pit, wherein Ragnar is given the fate of the elder Gunnar in the Eddic Lays, Atlakvida.  The king is treated with great respect by his people, he is finely clad, and his commands are carried out, however abhorrent or absurd, as long as they do not upset customary or statute law.  The king has slaves in his household, men and women, besides his guard of housecarles and his bearsark champions.  A king’s daughter has thirty slaves with her, and the footmaiden existed exactly as in the stories of the Wicked Waiting Maid.  He is not to be awakened in his slumbers (cf.  St. Olaf’s Life, where the naming of King Magnus is the result of adherence to this etiquette).  A champion weds the king’s leman.

His thanes are created by the delivery of a sword, which the king bolds by the blade and the thane takes by the hilt. (English earls were created by the girding with a sword.  “Taking treasure, and weapons and horses, and feasting in a hall with the king” is synonymous with thane-hood or gesith-ship in “Beowulf’s Lay").  A king’s thanes must avenge him if he falls, and owe him allegiance. (This was paid in the old English monarchies by kneeling and laying the head down at the lord’s knee.)

The trick by which the Mock-king, or King of the Beggars (parallel to our Boy-bishop, and perhaps to that enigmatic churls’ King of the “O.  E. Chronicle”, s.a. 1017, Eadwiceorla-kyning) gets allegiance paid to him, and so secures himself in his attack on the real king, is cleverly devised.  The king, besides being a counsel giver himself, and speaking the law, has “counsellors”, old and wise men, “sapientes” (like the 0.  E. Thyle).  The aged warrior counsellor, as Starcad here and Master Hildebrand in the “Nibelungenlied”, is one type of these persons, another is the false counsellor, as Woden in guise of Bruni, another the braggart, as Hunferth in “Beowulf’s Lay”.  At “moots” where laws are made, kings and regents chosen, cases judged, resolutions taken of national importance, there are discussions, as in that armed most the host.

The king has, beside his estates up and down the country, sometimes (like Hrothgar with his palace Heorot in “Beowulf’s Lay”) a great fort and treasure house, as Eormenric, whose palace may well have really existed.  There is often a primitive and negroid character about dwellings of formidable personages, heads placed on stakes adorn their exterior, or shields are ranged round the walls.

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The Danish History, Books I-IX from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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