King Blot - Sweyn :
The Last Royal Sacrificer
A Land Divided
The freemen of Sweden were greatly angered when they heard that King Inge had refused to perform the sacred blots. Word of their king's disrespect for the old traditions spread outward from Uppsala like the plague, and it affected the Heathen Swedes greatly that their king would not hold to the ancient law of the land. Some called for the king to abdicate, while others wanted his head ! All were seeking a final solution to this problem, which they had decided to bring to a head at the annual Thing Of All Swedes that would be held at the beginning of March.
Most came to the temple at Uppsala on horseback, and in carts, while many of the local faithful simply walked the short distance to the sacred site, to celebrate the Dísablót . Some sacrifices were offered for the upcoming planting season, while others were performed to ask the Gods for peace, and if peace was not achievable, for victory for the Swedes over their many enemies. Still others came to the Thing Of All Swedes to ask the king to resolve their legal issues. The Thing Of All Swedes was more than a religious gathering, or an assembly of law, it was also a yearly social gathering where markets sprung up in the village, which brought people together from miles around to buy and sell their goods in what was a week long commercial event.
This year, however, the joy of the celebration was dampened by the king's decrees that sought to outlaw all Heathen rituals and sacrifices. A large and rather vocal contingent of Swedes, led by the Chieftain Ottar, had banded together and were determined that they would be heard at the law assembly. They had come to demand that the king's decrees outlawing Heathen sacrifices be lifted, and that King Inge himself administer the Blóts. If he did not agree, the local rulers were prepared to call for his abdication.
Inge was not naive. As the king rode his tall white horse on the muddy road that ran from Vastergotland to Uppland, he was escorted by a large contingent of loyal warriors from his army which he was using to supplement his personal bodyguards, who traveled with him wherever he went.
" In numbers there is strength ! " King Inge told himself as he rode along with his warriors bracketing him on all sides.
The king did not fear his Heathen rivals, but he did think that there might be some trouble this year at the All - Thing, and therefore he felt it prudent to leave his wife Helena, and their children, Christina, Ragnvald, Margaret, and Katarina, back at his great hall in Vastergotland where they would be safe.
Helena, who was very angry about her husband' s cautious attitude, insisted that her family be represented at the proceedings, and asked that her brother Sweyn be allowed to attend in her place. King Inge did not mind bringing him at all. He liked Sweyn very much, and through his royal position, the king had raised her brother up in status to the point where he was known almost as well throughout Sweden as he was himself. Inge also had an ulterior motive for bringing Helena' s brother to the Thing Of All Swedes. Sweyn was well known to be a practitioner of the old Heathen ways, and the king felt that with a Pagan at his side it would have a calming affect on his subjects in Uppsala.
Sweyn was more than happy to accompany his brother - in - law to the All - Thing . He fully realized that the more he was seen in the presence of royalty the greater his standing would grow in the eyes of others. In Vastergotland he was not very popular due to his adherence to the old practices of their ancestors, but here in the predominately Heathen district of Uppland he was well liked and admired. And for this reason, unlike King Inge, Sweyn, brought along his wife Ingrid, and their son Eirik.
King Inge received a lukewarm reception when he reached the great feasting hall that stood adjacent to the great temple at Uppsala. There were no threats made against him, or evil words spoken in his presence, but the angry looks he was receiving from his subjects said as much, if not more, than any harsh words could convey. Sweyn, on the other hand, was welcomed with broad smiles and nods of respect, something that was not missed by Inge .
By the time King Inge settled in for the night, at the great hall at Uppsala, he had decided that tomorrow, at the Law Assembly, he would bring with him into the great hall his entire contingent of warriors to supplement his meager force of bodyguards. The king had an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he knew from past experience, that this was usually an omen of bad things to come.
Sweyn too was having some misgivings about the great Law Assembly that would begin tomorrow. As he walked around Uppsala, earlier that afternoon, there seemed to be a tense mood in the air that was mixed in with the usual joy of the coming Dísablót. Sweyn could almost feel, that much like a cooking pot about to bubble over, the tensions in Uppsala were reaching their boiling point !
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : An Angry Law Assembly !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.