The Marriage Proposal
Tróndur í Gøtu was a large man with freckles, red hair, and a face that could only be described as being grim in appearance. Tróndur lived on the island of Eysturoy, in the house that his father had built years before. The homestead was called Gøta, ( The Gate ), after his father Torbjorn who was nicknamed Gøtuskeggr, or Gatebeard. He lived there with his father, and his brother Thorlac, until their father died, and Thorlac lost a game of chance to decide who would inherit the property. Thorlac had moved to one of the neighboring islands, but he had recently returned with his wife and sons Sigurd, and Thord. Tróndur's sister also came to stay at Gøta with her son, who was known as Geat the Red.
Tróndur had once ruled over the entire Faroe Islands, but when Sigmundur had returned from Norway with the proclamation that he had been made Lord over all the islands by the Christain King Olav Tryggvason, he was made angry, and rejected both his authority, and the king's decree to convert the islands to the new religion of the White Christ.
After Sigmundur and his men had forcibly converted most of the Faroe Islanders many thought of Tróndur í Gøtu as an evil man, but others considered him a rebel and a hero. To them he was fighting against a chieftain who had been forced upon them by a royal decree by a foreign entity. And like Tróndur, some in the islands changed their faith almost as often as they changed their undergarments.
As winter began to rear it's cold heart a general agreement of peace settled in the islands between Sigmundur and Tróndur í Gøtu. Both men agreed to put aside their differences, and went back to taking care of their homesteads. And there they waited to see what the new year would bring to the Faroes.
The Yule season came and went in the Faroes, but little had changed in the islands. Those loyal to Tróndur would sometimes scuffle with men who had taken an oath to Sigmundr, and when the topic of religion came up it often caused a problem within the community. It seemed that everyone was waiting for the summer Ting to bring before the council their grievances, and level charges against those who they felt had done them wrong.
As the day approached everyone from the islands descended upon Tinganes on the island of Streymoy. Tinganes, a peninsula jutting out from Torshavn, was chosen as the meeting place because of it's central location in the islands. Northern Faroe men came from the islands of Vidoy, Eysturoy, Bordoy, Vagar, and Nolsoy, while the southern Faroe men sailed north from Sandoy, Skúvoy, Stora Dimun, Litla Dimun, and Suduroy, to attend the yearly Ting, or Moot as it was called by some. All had their own agendas ranging from local disputes over land boundaries, debts owed, and minor criminal cases, to the larger issues of taxation by Norway, and the new religion that some felt had been forced upon them.
The smaller cases were settled first of course. They tended to be rather dull in nature, but occasionally an argument would erupt into fisticuffs, to the great joy of the onlookers, that the guards would then have to break up. As the first day ended, and the more respected men of the islands, such as wealthy landowners and chieftains arrived, everyone braced themselves for what was certain to be a very lively second day.
Taxation was the first topic that was brought up by the chieftains of the Faroes, and none shouted louder against it than Tróndur í Gøtu.
" What right have these Christian kings from Norway to tell us how much we should pay them ? ! First it was King Olav, and now it is Jarl Erik of Lade, his brother Sveinn Hakonarson, and that damned invader from Denmark King Sweyn Forkbeard. Why should we pay them what we labor so vigorously to earn ?! To make them rich ? ! " he shouted vehemently at the council.
Sigmundur Brestisson was the first to respond.
" If you had gone to visit King Olav in Nithoyce, that time in the spring, you might understand why it is so important for us to pay them the Scot that they feel is due them ! " he shouted back at Tróndur.
Sigmundur then grinned before adding:
" I do not know why we should listen to someone like you anyway ! King Olav, I believe, referred to you as ' The worst man in all the Northlands ' ! " he told the council with a chuckle.
Tróndur had to be held back from rushing the seated chieftain by Sigurd, and Thord. He was not merely angered by Sigmundur's words, but he was brought to a near state of madness by what he deemed as made up lies. When he finally calmed down he pointed at Sigmundur and addressed him directly.
" I do not put much faith in the words of a king who committed suicide by drowning himself instead of fighting to the end. A coward's words hold no weight here ! " he shouted, this time in a much more rational tone.
Silfast, the local chieftain of Kalsoy, rose up and calmly spoke to Tróndur í Gøtu.
" Words alone cannot change the simple fact that we are too weak here in these islands to defend ourselves against marauders from the north. Have you completely forgotten the troubles we had just a few short years ago when those from the southern islands were almost completely wiped out by invaders ? It is only the threat of an army coming from Norway that protects us from the evil that wishes to destroy us. " he reminded the chieftain.
Sigmundur nodded in agreement.
" Yes ! I barely escaped to Norway myself ! " he added.
Tróndur í Gøtu gave Sigmundur Brestisson an angry stare.
" I think it is obvious to us all why you went to Norway, and the protection of King Olav. You went there to beg for power from a weak - willed king ! " Tróndur yelled back sarcastically.
The elderly, and well respected chieftain of Vagar, Reifr, stood up and raised both his arms in the air when those gathered at the Ting reacted raucously to Tróndur's accusation.
" Please,..... Please ! Let us settle down now ! There is little or nothing that we can do about the taxes being levied against us by the Jarls, or the King of Denmark and Norway. I think we should move on to the next order of business. " he suggested as a way of avoiding physical violence.
Tróndur í Gøtu did not move from his place in front of the Law Rock. He was done talking about the taxes, but he had another charge to level against the leaders back in Norway.
" Not only do our brothers back in Norway tax our properties, but they tax our minds, and our souls as well ! " he told the council in an angry tone.
" How so ? " he asked, not understanding the meaning of what Tróndur had just stated.
Tróndur í Gøtu pointed menacingly at Sigmundur.
" What I mean, you pet of foreign kings, is that not only do they take away our hard earned money, but this king and his Jarls tell us what Gods we can honor, how we can honor them, and even where we must honor them ! " he yelled angrily at the council, which incited the crowd once again.
Sigmundur was immediately worried. He remembered back to the earlier Ting where he and his people had been attacked and almost killed. The chieftain of Skúvoy quickly tried to calm the gathering.
" My friends ! There is only one God,.... and his son Jesus Christ of course. Heathenry has been wiped out in the Land of the Franks, Norway, and Denmark. Only the stubborn, or ill informed, still believe otherwise ! " he shot back.
Tróndur puffed out his chest and held his Thor's Hammer out in front of him for all to see.
"I am ill informed !! I, and many others, honor the Gods of my father, and my father's father. The only reason we allowed ourselves to be baptized was because we were given no choice in the matter. Why does a religion, any religion, need to threaten those it wishes to ' save ' ! And yes, I do pour libations and make sacrifices to Odin, Thor, and Freyja, just as our ancestors did ! Do you stand there before me and tell me that our ancestors, including our first Faroeman Grim Cambran are damned to your Christian Hell forever because they honored the old Gods,... the true Gods ! If that is your meaning then I will tell you, and this council, that I curse this new God, and his White Christ son ! I curse the whole lot of you who turned your backs on our Gods, and I curse these new churches erected to worship this new God. May Thor summon his elemental might, and with his powerful lightning strike down all that is Christian ! " he yelled at the council before storming off with his friends.
Judging by the low murmurs circulating through the crowd after Tróndur í Gøtu left it became fairly obvious that the old religion had not been completely eradicated from the Faroe Islands. Sigmundr was especially dismayed that Tróndur left with more men than he had come to the Ting with. The battle for the hearts and minds of the Faroe people was not over by a long shot !
- End Chapter 2
- Next : Chapter 3 : " Too Many Suitors ! "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.