Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 568 pages of information about Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12).

The boats were usually built long and pointed for the sake of speed, and had seats for thirty rowers.  Besides the rowers, the long-boats could hold from sixty to one hundred and fifty sailors.

II

HARALD FAIRHAIR

Harald Fairhair was one of the foremost of the kings of Norway.  He was so brave a Northman that he became king over the whole of Norway.  In eight hundred and sixty-one, when he began to reign, Norway was divided into thirty-one little kingdoms, over each of which ruled a little king.  Harald Fairhair began his reign by being one of these little kings.

Harald was only a boy, ten years of age, when he succeeded his father; but as he grew up he became a very strong and handsome man, as well as a very wise and prudent one.  Indeed he grew so strong that he fought with and vanquished five great kings in one battle.

After this victory, Harald sent, so the old chronicles of the kings of Norway say, some of his men to a princess named Gyda, bidding them tell her that he wished to make her his queen.

But Gyda wished to marry a king who ruled over a whole country, rather than one who owned but a small part of Norway, and this was the message she sent back to Harald: 

“Tell Harald,” said the maiden, “that I will agree to be his wife if he will first, for my sake, subdue all Norway to himself, for only thus methinks can he be called the king of a people.”

The messengers thought Gyda’s words too bold, but when King Harald heard them, he said, “It is wonderful that I did not think of this before.  And now I make a solemn vow and take God to witness, who made me and rules over all things, that never shall I clip or comb my hair until I have subdued the whole of Norway with scat [land taxes], and duties, and domains.”

Then, without delay, Harald assembled a great force and prepared to conquer all the other little kings who were ruling over the different parts of Norway.

In many districts the kings had no warning of Harald’s approach, and before they could collect an army they were vanquished.

When their ruler was defeated, many of his subjects fled from the country, manned their ships and sailed away on viking expeditions.  Others made peace with King Harald and became his men.

Over each district, as he conquered it, Harald placed a jarl or earl, that he might judge and do justice, and also that he might collect the scat and fines which Harald had imposed upon the conquered people.  As the earls were given a third part of the money they thus collected, they were well pleased to take service with King Harald.  And indeed they grew richer, and more powerful too, than they had ever been before.

It took King Harald ten long years to do as he had vowed, and make all Norway his own.  During these years a great many new bands of vikings were formed, and led by their chief or king they left the country, not choosing to become King Harald’s men.

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Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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