Rognvald' s movements made his wife Busla stir from her sleep. She rolled over and propped herself up on one arm. As she looked over at her husband she was disgusted at how old and fat he had become. She was 20 years younger than the king, and loved her title of "queen" much more than she ever loved her husband. Her marriage was one of convenience, and of course was a political marriage which allied her father's Kingdom of Rogaland with King Rognvald's Kingdom of Hordaland. This marriage of necessity was made to keep the king of Sogn from intruding into the southern kingdoms. The treaty worked very well. The marriage unfortunately did not.
The queen was a secretive and wicked woman who moved unseen behind the scenes. She was always adding a touch of intrigue to the proceedings of the king' s court. She was also a woman who practiced the magical art known as seidr, which at times terrified those around her. As a person she was feared much more than she was respected or loved.
King Rognvald was loved and very much respected by his people because he was a generous man, and also a very forgiving man as well. Every morning after the early meal the king held an audience with his subjects, and allowed them to bring before him their grievances and problems. Where the king could he would help those in need, and he was the final arbitrator in all disputes. He even went so far as to give money from the kingdom' s treasury to help those in need. A treasury that was overflowing with gold and silver from his two son' s very successful raids throughout Britain and the land of the Franks.
The king' s hall was a large structure with huge timbers forming an archway over massive double doors that opened up into the great hall. The hall had two fire pits which kept the great hall warm even during the coldest of Norway' s nights. One was in the center of the structure while the other one was behind the high seats of the king and queen. Those seated closest to the king and queen were considered honored guests, while those closest to the doors and farthest from the fire pits were marginal guests at best. Just to the right and left of the massive doors, on the side walls, there were carved notches where all visitors had to leave their weapons. There were spaces for spears, axes, swords, and even pegs for bows and quivers. Knives were allowed to be kept by visitors. The hall had many benches and could accommodate a small army, but surprisingly it was sparsely adorned in gold and silver. It was the great hall of a very modest man.
This morning as he listened to two farmers arguing a land dispute his mind wandered back through the decades to a time when he himself led a part of his father's army. He had only limited success against his enemies until one day a strange man wandered into their camp. He was a massive human being ! Well over six feet tall, and built like a stone wall. The man, who gave his name as Baleygr, fought with a tenacity and skills that Rognvald had never seen before. This great warrior carried a sword, but his weapon of choice was a strange three bladed spear. Many of Rognvald' s warriors tried to master this unique weapon, but none could wield it as well.
Baleygr wore a patch over his one eye. Rognvald assumed that the warrior had lost it as a result of an injury in battle, but he could never get Baleygr to tell him the story. All the warrior would say about the wound was that losing his eye made him a much wiser man. Whatever the reason, it added to the mystique of the great warrior who rose swiftly through the ranks in Rognvald' s army eventually becoming his top commander. Jarl Rognvald trusted Balegyr as much with his life as Rognvald's father, King Egil, trusted him with his troops. A trust that was proved many, many times over the years.
The wars against the kings of Sogn and More had not gone very well, and most times had ended in stalemate with great losses on both sides. Baleygr showed the young jarl that by using tactics and deception he could counter the brute force of the armies of the north. In a fierce battle that took place on the coast of Hordaland, Rognvald and Baleygr lured into a trap the king of Sogn, and surrounded his troops. They could have wiped out the Northern king's entire army, but after a brief battle Balegyr convinced Jarl Rognvald to call a truce, and offer terms to KIng Eirik. The Sogn king expected it to be a trick, but instead King Eirik was offered a full pardon if he would take his army out of Hordaland and enter into a treaty of alliance with his father King Egil of Hordaland. King Eirik agreed and from that time on never again marched his army south. King Eirik out of respect for Jarl Rognvald broke his alliance with the Kingdom of More, and did his best to keep King Haakon of More within his own borders.
Hearing of this great victory the southern kings of Rogaland and Agder joined forces with King Egil and Jarl Rognvald. It took several years for the " Great Alliance " as it became known to defeat the king of More, but with his new allies, and Baleygr's tactics, the war was finally won. When King Haakon of of More surrendered his sword, along with his army, Jarl Rognvald refused it. King Haakon feared the worst, but once again Balegyr advised Rognvald to be generous in his terms. King Haakon was stunned that he was allowed to leave with the remnants of his army and return to More. It was King Haakon who first called Rognvald " The Magnificent ".
Jarl Rognvald's father was badly injured at the final battle at Vidar Hill against Haakon' s forces. He died the next morning, and Jarl Rognvald took hold of the oath ring and was officially made the king of Hordaland. After the crowning King Rognvald looked for Balegyr to drink a toast to his father's death and entry into Valhalla, but Baleygr had disappeared. The great one - eyed warrior was never seen or heard from again.
" What is your decision my king" , both farmers asked at once. King Rognvald had been lost in his memories, and had heard very little about the land dispute. His trusted court aide, Bogi, leaned over and whispered into the king's ear : " Helgi has the better claim on the land my lord. " The king nodded and then bellowed in a voice that was both authoritative, and compassionate : " I the King of Hordaland find that Helgi has the better claim on this land. " Today's court is now ended. " he added .
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright 2013,
End Chapter 1
Next : The King' s Sons