Finally a peace was brokered because, " The bonders were weary of the fighting, and unrest in the land. " It was decided that Jarl Haakon would be given all the lands that his father Sigurd had owned before, and that the king's would have all the lands that King Hacon held before. There then was peace in these lands for the next three years.
During this time Jarl Haakon traveled one winter to the Uplands for the annual feast. There he met, and bedded, a peasant woman. The boy who later was born out of this union was called Eric, and later his mother brought the young child before the Jarl and told him that it was his baby. Haakon allowed the boy to be raised by Torleiv the wise, who was a wealthy man. Despite his growing into a handsome and powerful man, the Jarl did not care much for the boy.
The ever scheming Gunhild and her sons later learned that Jarl Haakon had secretly met with the Kings Trygvi Olavson, and Gudrod Bjornson, and became suspicious that he was planning something against them. Gunhild's sons then put together a great many men, and ships, and moved on Trondheim. When Jarl Haakon heard of this he sailed south, with his own force, and fought whereever he landed, and then fled to Denmark. In the autumn Jarl Haakon sailed to Helsingeland, and then marched by land back to Trondheim, where he finally settled in for the winter. Gunhild and her sons wintered south in More.
After a battle with the man who was keeping the lands for Gunhild's sons, Grjotgard, Jarl Haakon, realizing he was not strong enough to defeat Gunhild's sons, sailed south to Denmark, where he was warmly welcomed by the Danish King Harald Gormson. While in Denmark he secretly sent his men north to Trondheim, to his allies there, to see if it were possible to kill King Erling. That winter the Tronds, people of Trondheim, were able to kill King Eling. King Harald Gormson and Jarl Haakon then made a deal to rule jointly over Norway. The Danish King then bade King Harald Greyskin to come to Denmark and , " Take such fiefs of him as he and his brothers had formerly held in Denmark. When Gunhild was told of this she sensed treachery. In the summer, however, King Harald Greyskin sailed to Denmark.
Gold - Harald, King Harald Gormson's kinsmen, then went to Hals in Limfjord and met Harald Greyskin on a field of battle. Greyskin had less men, but still he formed up his army into battle formation, and bade them to draw their swords. King Harald Greyskin, and most of his men, fell in the battle, which avenged the death of Jarl Haakon's father Sigurd thirteen years earlier.
After this battle Jarl Haakon brought his troops into battle with Gold - Harald's army, whose men were surely tired, and won an easy victory over them. Gold - Harald was taken prisoner and sent straight to the gallows. Because there was no love lost between King Gormson of Denmark, and Gold - Harald his kinsmen, Jarl Haakon was able to easily reconcile with The Danish King over the loss of his kinsmen. Blood is not always thicker than water, especially in the Viking Age.
Then the Jarl and King Gormson of Denmark sailed for Norway with 600 ships,( probably and exaggeration ), Most submitted willingly to the Danish King and the Jarl, ( Most peasants don't care who their king is as long as they can live peacefully ), but Gunhild and her sons tried to raise a large enough army to oppose them. When they could not raise a sufficient army they fled . Jarl Haakon then placed all lands under his control and told the people to keep up the temples, and to give blood offerings all over his lands .
It is written that Jarl Haakon ruled his lands during a time of plenty. There was a great bounty of herring, and corn grew throughout the land. The Jarl himself could not settle into a time of peace however. King Ragnford, ( There were a lot of Kings in those days ), Gunhild's son, sailed in the spring from the Orkney' s to Norway, where he landed in South More. Most folk, tired of war, gave themselves up to him instead of resisting. When Jarl Haakon learned of this he sent out the war arrows, gathered up his troops, and met King Ragnford in battle at South More. The Jarl's force was much smaller, and the battle did not go well, so he beached his ships and bade King Ragnford to attack him upon the land. Ragnford, however, feared that on land the Jarl would be able to build his army with local men, so he disengaged and they both went into winter quarters.
When the spring came he recruited men from the land just to the north of his. He gathered men from Halogaland, Naumadale, Byrda, Stad, Trondlaw, and Raumsdale. Jarl Haakon then sailed with his men to Sogn where he met King Ragnford in battle. Jarl Haakon struck with a much larger force on the Thinganes, ( Modern Sognfjord ), and forced King Ragnford to flee to his ships. It is written that over 300 of Ragnford's men were killed in the intense fighting. After the dust had settled from this latest intrusion into Jarl Haakon's lands, peace once again fell over his kingdom.
It was then that Jarl Haakon met a beautiful young woman called Thora, who was the daughter of Skagi Skoftason. With her he had two sons, Swein and Heming, and a daughter named Bergliot. Haakon also liked to fool around as well, and had several children outside of his marriage, one of whom was Ragnhild. He loved Thora very much it is said, ( A contradiction in todays terms ), and treated her kinsmen very well. Sometimes even above his own kinsmen !
It was about at this time, 973 - 983 A.C.E. that Emperor Otto II, who was ruling over Saxland, threatened the King of Denmark, with war if he did not convert all of his people to Christianity. King Harald immediately sent messages throughout his kingdom, and to Jarl Haakon asking for men for his army to defend against Otto II, and his Christian army.
Emperor Otto II upon hearing that the king of Denmark was raising an army to oppose him and would rather fight than convert his people to Christianity, raised a tremendous army from all over his vast lands. Armies came from Saxland, Frankland, Friesland, and from Vendland. One thing that should be noted here is that King Burislav's son - in - law also was amongst the troops that came from Vendland. He was the hated soon to be King of Norway, Olav Tryggvasson.
Jarl Haakon's men were put in place to guard the Dane - Works, as Emperor Otto II's army came up from out of the south. The Dane - Works was a fortress where two fjords went into the land on either side. The Danes had constructed a great wall of stones to bar the enemy access, and had dug a deep ditch on the outside, and had built towers near each of the gates. It was at this point that the great battle commenced.
Emperor Otto II threw his army at the walls again and again, but Jarl Haakon's men defended them well and Otto's forces could not win the fortress over. Seeing that he could not defeat the impregnable fortress he then turned his forces towards Sle. Here he was met by the Danish King Harald Gormson. The battle was bloody and lasted for hours, but the Christian army was too much for the Danes who were forced to flee. Later in Morso Emperor Otto II, and King Harald Gormson met and a peace treaty was worked out. It was here by agreement that the Danish King and his army were converted to Christianity, and baptised by the Holy Bishop Poppa. Jarl Haakon and his men were also converted at this time, but the Jarl had no intention of keeping his agreement with the Christians. Once he was out to sea he had his men shoot arrows at every holy man on the beach, killing many. It was here that the rift between Jarl Haakon, and his great protector and ally King Harald Gormson of Denmark formed. It was the beginning of the end for Jarl Haakon.
It is said that when Jarl Haakon went east along the Gautaskerries he went ashore and made a blood offering. At that exact moment two ravens flew over him screeching loudly. The Jarl took this to mean that Odin had accepted his offering, and that his men would now have good luck in battle. In response to this omen the Jarl burned his ships and went inland doing battle with all those who dared to oppose him. At one point he was met by the ruler of Gautland, Ottar the Jarl, and they fought a fierce battle. Haakon gained a great victory over Ottar, who lost a lot of his men. Jarl Haakon then battled his way through East and West Gautland, and all the way to Norway. He then settled back into his kingdom of Trondheim.
King Harald Gormson of Denmark was greatly angered when he heard that Jarl Haakon had turned his back on Christianity and reverted to his Pagan Gods. King Harald decided to gather his army and travel to Norway to make the disobedient Jarl pay for his misdeed. The Danish king sailed to Norway and laid waste to the lands ruled by Haakon with his vast army. After he felt that he had taught the Jarl a lesson the Danish king headed south, and returned to his kingdom in Denmark. Jarl Haakon afterwards rebuilt all the farms and buildings that were destroyed by the Danish Viking army, and never again paid any taxes to the Danish king.
( The next episode of Jarl Haakon's life involves his fight against the Jomsvikings, with his son Eric, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, 2/21/12 thru 2/29/12, and I see no reason to re-write this part of his life. It is also a very long story ! If you wish to re - read it be my guest, my older posts are in the right hand column under archives. )
Haakon the Jarl ruled over all of Norway's sea coast, and had sixteen districts under his control. Harald Hairfair, however, made a law that decreed that all districts have a Jarl, so from that time foward Jarl Haakon had a Jarl for each of the districts under him. I find this fascinating in that it implies that even though Jarl Haakon ruled over the sea coast and sixteen districts, he obviously had to bow to King Harald Hairfair' s will. Jarl Haakon at first became good friends with the bonders, but over time his improper dealings, especially with the daughters of the bonders, which in some cases he had brought back to his fortress, began to wear on the bonders good feelings. It did not take long for the bonders to start talking amongst themselves against the rule of Jarl Haakon.
It was at this time that Jarl Haakon heard rumours about a man who was the son of Trygvi Olavsson. If this man existed he would have a rightful claim to Jarl Haakon's lands, and this worried the Jarl greatly. Haakon decided to send his good friend, Thore Klakka, who he had gone on many Viking raids with, to Dublin to find out the truth about this man. Thore went to Ireland and asked around about this man who was know as Ali. Finally, after some searching, he met with Olav Trygvasson, and he became engaged in conversation with him. Olav asked Thore about the Upland kingdoms, and who ruled them . He then asked about Jarl Haakon and if he were liked by his people. It was then that Thore betrayed Jarl Haakon by telling Olav Trygvasson that many men would rather have a king of Harald Hairfair's kinsmen rule the kingdom. Olav then asked Thore if he thought the bonders would rally around him if he went back to Norway and claimed the kingdom of his ancestors. Thore praised him and told him he believed they would accept him as their king.
Olav then began to plan his return to his ancestors homeland. He first sailed east with 5 ships to the Hebrides Islands accompanied by Thore. Then he sailed to the Orkneys, and later to the isles where he threatened Jarl Sigurd Lodverson that if he did not convert to Christianity he would face his fire and sword. The Jarl held the position of acceptance and chose baptism over war for himself and his people. The Jarl also swore oaths to Olav, and gave his son Whelp as a hostage. Olav then sailed to Norway landing on the coast at Moster. Thore Klakka advised Olav Trygvasson that he should not hesitate, but go forth at once and surprise Jarl Haakon suddenly before he could raise an army. Olav took this advice and sailed quickly, and silently, ( not allowing anyone to learn his identity ), searching for any sign, or word of the whereabouts of Jarl Haakon. When he came to Agdenes he was told by the inhabitants that the Jarl was in the area of the fjord, and that he was not well supported by the bonders. This surprises me a little after his great victory against the Jomsvikings. He must have made a lot of enemies with all of his womanizing ! Olav Trygvasson had Jarl Haakon right where he wanted him, and he suspected nothing !
Jarl Haakon once again got himself in grave trouble with the bonders over a woman. This time the Jarl wanted his thralls to bring him Gudrun, the daughter of Bergtor of Lundar. She was the wife of one of the mightiest bonders in his district, a man named Orm Lyrgja. Orm was greatly insulted, and sent around the war arrow on all four roads of the district, and asked that all should take up weapons against, and kill , Jarl Haakon. When Haakon got wind of this news he and his men escaped to a dale called Jarlsdale, and he, and his men hid there.
The next day he sent out lookouts to watch for the army of the bonders. Jarl Haakon also sent his son Erlend to look after his ships. Thereafter Haakon sent his men away, and traveled with just his thrall Tormad Kark. Kark and the Jarl spent some time hiding in a cave in Jarlsheller. It was here that Kark had dreams of the deaths of Erlend and Jarl Haakon. The Jarl then sent Kark on an errand to see Thora with a message asking her to come at once in secret to meet him. The Jarl was greeted quite fondly by Thora, who told Haakon that the bonders were looking for him in her houses, but that there was a place on her farmstead where she knew that they would not look for a man of his high stature. On this farm she had the thrall dig a great ditch, which she made him lay boards over to conceal their hiding place.
It was during this time that Thora learned that Olav Trygvasson had entered the fjord and was searching for Jarl Haakon. The Jarl and his thrall Kark then went down into the hole, and Thora covered the ditch with boards and sprinkled dirt over them to further hide them. To make it look more natural she allowed her swine to walk of above the hiding place.
Olav Trygvasson sailed into the fjord with five long ships, and was met by Haakon's son Erlend with his three ships. Erlend's men fearing unrest turned their ships and headed back for land. When they had almost reached land they hit bottom, and ran aground. All the men then jumped overboard and swam for the beach. When Olav saw a handsome man swimming in front of his ship, he grabbed the tiller, and threw it at him with all his might. The tiller hit Erlend in the head bursting open his skull, and killing him. Olav's men killed many of Erlend's men, captured others, but a few were lucky enough to escape. The men who were captured were later given quarter.
When Olav met with the bonders afterwards he was told that they had driven the Jarl away, and that his army was scattered throughout the countryside. The bonders agreed to join with Olav's army, and accepted him as their king. They combined and searched for Jarl Haakon everywhere, including Thora's farms, but could find no trace of him. It is written that at one point Olav actually gave a speech on a rock that was right next to the ditch that Kark and the Jarl were hiding in. Olav promised to give a great reward to anyone who captured Haakon. In the darkness of his hiding place he heard this entire speech word for word. When Olav had left, Haakon turned to Kark and asked him if he would betray him for the reward. Kark answered, " Nay", and said, " We two were born on one night, and will die not far apart. "
Still, the Jarl did not trust his thrall Kark, and stayed awake most of the night, as did Kark who no longer trusted Haakon, and was suspicious of his motives. The Jarl tried not to sleep, but dozed in the early hours of the morning, and had a bad dream that made him kick and scream. Kark became frightened and pulled out a large knife, and slit the Jarls throat. This was the end of the Jarls life. Kark then decided to cut the head off of Jarl Haakon and seek out King Olav for the reward money. King Olav, after hearing Kark's story, however, had him taken away, and beheaded as well. I guess you could say he was paid a lie for a lie !
At the end of his life it is written that Jarl Haakon had become so hated by his own people, especially by the bonders of Trondheim, that no one would say his name, unless they called him the evil Jarl. Jarl Haakon had not only lost his life but his reputation as well..... according to Heimskringla. Whether the story of how he died is historical fact or Christian fiction is up to the reader to decide. Today, however, we in the Asatru religion honor him for his valiant attempt to save our ancient religion from the Christians. That is how he will always be remembered by those who call themselves Asatru !
All Hail Jarl Haakon Sigurdsson !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja' s love, and Thor' s protection !