One such man that we honor is Gudrod the Martyr, who was a minor king who defied the Christian King Olav. The tale of Gudrod is told in Snorri's wonderful Heimskringla. In this epic, ( historical ? )work of the kings of Scandinavia, Snorri tells us that two brothers ruled over Hedemark, Rorik and Ring, and that Gudbrandsdale was ruled by a King called Gudrod. These minor kingdoms were ruled over by leaders who were stilled oathed to the old Gods, and who had no intentions of converting to the new religion of Christianity without a fight.
When King Olav began to travel throughout Norway, he began to hand out stiff punishments to those who would not be baptised and convert to the religion of the white Christ. When word of this reached the King of Raumarik, he sent word to all the other 5 kings in the area to meet in Hedemark. Included in these five kings who were called forth to meet was the King of the Dales, Gudrod.
At the meeting of the 5 kings of Norway, they spoke about all the trouble that Olav Digre was causing throughout their lands. Yhey discussed in great detail the terrible deeds that were being perpetrated by Olav against their folk, which included such horrific things as whole families being slaughtered, and others being tortured and maimed. King Gudrod spoke out vehemently against King Olav saying, " It seems strange to me that you waver in settling this matter." He believed that the five of them, who were no lower in birth than Olav, and were, if united, just as strong if not stronger than he, could take care of this Olav Digre and rule their kingdoms once again in peace. King Gudrod's strong words led to the kings deciding to , " To fall upon King Olav at a place to be arranged. "
As with most tragedies , this story also has a traitor, whose name was Ketel of Ringanes, who was also at this meeting. Betraying the 5 kings he left the meeting with 40 men, found King Olav, and told him the details of the 5 kings plans. King Olav immediately went back to Hedemark with Ketel of Ringanes leading the way. Ketel knew exactly which of the houses the 5 kings were asleep in, and King Olav and his men waited for morning to come to capture them in the light of day. It says in Heimskringla, " The kings had no might of men to protect them, and they were all taken prisoner, and brought befor King Olav.
For being the voice of the 5 kings, and devising the plan to kill him, King Olav had his men cut out Gudrod' s, " lying tongue". Gudrod was then banished from the now consolidated 5 kingdoms. These kingdoms were now the possession of King Olav, and he was then ruthless in his conversion of these folk to Christianity, If not for the traitor Ketel there may have been a different " history " to tell of King Olav, and possibly never a St. Olav. May the Gods curse Ketel's name, and soul for eternity.
We honor, on this day, May 9th, Gudrod the Martyr, who bravely tried to defend his faith, his honor and his people. Though his plan never had a chance to work, we honor him for his bravery in speaking out against King Olav. I raise my horn in grateful honor to you Gudrod for your valian efforts on our ancestors behalf, and call out your name in praise so that it will be remembered for ages to come. We your descendants will speak out for a cause that has changed little over a thousand years ! All hail Gudrod great King of the Gudbrandsdale !
P.S. Look for my article later this month on King Rorik, one of the other 5 kings, who tried to kill King Olav more than once !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !