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priests and monks, were especially delighted at pillaging, the churches, and stabled their horses in the chapels of the palaces. When they had devastated and burned some district of the Christian territory: “We have sung them the mass of lances,” said they mockingly; "it commenced in the morning, and lasted until night.”8
In three days, with an east wind, the fleets of Denmark and Norway, consisting of two-sailed vessels, could reach the south of Britain. The soldiers of each fleet obeyed in general one chief, whose vessel was distinguished from the rest by some particular ornament. The same chief commanded when the pirates, having landed, marched in troops on foot or on such horses as they could capture. His title was that of king; but he was king only on the seas and on the battle-field ; for in the hour of the banquet the whole troop sat in a circle, and the horns, filled with beer, passed from hand to hand without any distinction of first man or last. The sea-king was everywhere faithfully followed and zealously obeyed, because he was always renowned as the bravest of the brave, as “one who had never slept under a smoke-dried roof, who had never emptied a cup seated in the chimney-corner.". He could guide his vessel as the good horseman his steed, and to the prestige of courage and skill were added, for him, the influence created by superstition, for he knew the mystic characters which, engraven upon swords, secured the victory, and those which, inscríbed on the poop and on the oars, preserved vessels from shipwreck. Under such a chief the men bore lightly their voluntary submission and the weight of their mailed armor, and they laughed at the wind and waves that failed to do them harm. “The strength of the tempest," they sang, “aids the arm of the rower; the storm is our servant; it throws us where we.
· Clerici et monachi crudelius damnabantur.-Hist. S. Vincentii apud Script. rer. Normann, p. 61.
Aquisgrani in capella regis equos suos stabulant.-Chronicon Hermanni Contracti, apud Script. rer. Gallic et Francic, vol. viii.
8 Attum odda messu.-Olai Wormii, Litteratura runica, p. 208.
* Sub idem quoque tempus multi Daniæ Norvegiæque reges Svioniam deprædabantur, nec non plurimi reges maritimi (Dæner Nordmenn oc magir Sækongar) validis suffulti copiis, ac nullo licet peculiari regnorum dominio gaudentes. Proinde is merito rex maritimus (Sakongar) appellabatur, qui sub fuliginoso tigno somnum nunquam capiebat, nec ante focum ex cornu potare solitus
- Yuglinga Saga, cap. xxxiv. Heimskringla edr Noregs Konunga sógor af Snorra Sturlusyni, i, 43.
Sig-rúnar, the runes of victory. Brim-rúnar, the runes of the waves. Edda Sæmundar hinus fróda, ii, 195.
want to go."! Thus the name of sea-king was only a military title, and had nothing in common with that of kong, meaning “chief,” and borne by the numerous petty kings that ruled in the various Scandinavian kingdoms.
In speaking of kings and kingdoms, we use words of swelling sound and magnificent import. Splendor, extensive dominion, pomp and power are the majestic images which arise in our minds when we hear of thrones. But we must dismiss from our thoughts the fascinating appendages of modern royalty, and rather think of our Indian chiefs, when we contemplate these petty sovereigns of the North. Some of their kingdoms may have equaled an American county in extent, but many would have been rivaled by our towns. Having neither cities nor fortified posts, and only surrounded by a small band of followers, they often became the prey of each other; sometimes even the victims to some coup de main of other pirates who assailed them. This early state of things continued until the latter part of the ninth century, when Eric in Sweden, Gormo in Denmark, and Harald Harfager in Norway, subdued all these petty kings in their respective countries and united them into three separate monarchies.
The second class of these high-titled individuals were sovereigns who neither possessed country nor ruled over regular subjects, and yet filled the regions adjacent with misery and terror. They were a race of beings whom all Europe beheld with horror. Without a square yard of territorial property, without any towns or visible people, with no wealth but their ships, no force but their crews, and no hope but from their swords, the sea-kings of the North swarmed on the boisterous ocean, and plundered in every district they could approach, sometimes amassing so much booty and enlisting so many followers as to be able to assault even whole provinces for permanent conquest. They were generally the younger sons of the kings in question, the elder remaining at home to inherit the government. The former were left to seek their fortune on the ocean, and to wield their scepters amid the turbulent
1 Marinæ tempestatis procella nostra remigiis, nec removet a proposito directæ intentionis ; quibus nec ingens mugitus coeli nec crebri jactus fulminum unquam nocuerunt, favente gratia elementorum.-Hist. S. Edmundi auctore Abbone floriac. abbate, apud Surium in Vit. Sanctor. Novemb. 20, vi, 441.
Kong, Konung, Koning, Kineg, King, meaning "a leader, a chief.” The first among them sometimes bore the title of Kongakong, that is, “ Chief of Chiefs.". Še-kong, her-kong, has been accordingly translated by “see-king.”— Ihre., Gloss. Suio-Gothic,
waters. The consent of the northern people entitled all men of royal descent who assumed piracy as a profession to enjoy the name of “kings,” though they possessed no property ashore. Hence the sea-kings were the kinsmen of the land-sovereigns, and while the eldest son succeeded to his father, the rest of the family hastened like petty Neptunes to establish their kingdom on the waves; and if any of the former were expelled from their inheritance by others, then they also sought a continuance of their dig. nity upon the ocean. Their rank, and especially their
. successes, always secured to them abundant crews, and the mischief they perpetrated was immense.
But while these sea-kings operated under a high-sounding title, there was another set of northern pirates on the ocean, far more ferocious, and much less disciplined, though to the victims it made very little difference. Not only the children of kings, but every man that could afford it equipped ships, and roamed the seas to acquire property by force. At the age of ten or twelve their sons were trained under military tutors in all that could make them distinguished pirates. Piracy, among them, was not only considered the most honorable occupation, but the best field for the harvest of wealth ; nor was it confined to the emulation of the illustrious who pursued it; no one was respected who did not engage in it, and did not return from sea with ships laden with booty. It was therefore well said of the Northmen, by one of their contemporaries, that they sought their food by their sails
· Exuberantes atqae terram, quam incolunt, habitare non sufficientes collecta sorte multitudine pubescientum, veterrimo ritu, in externa regna extruduntur nationum, ut adquirant sibi præliando regna, quibus vivere possint pace perpetua. Dudo de Saint-Quentin, De morib, et actis Norman, duc., p. 62.
Dani tantis adoleverunt incrementis, ut dum repletæ essent hominibus insulæ, quam plures sancita a regibus lege cogerentur de propriis sedibus migrare. Quæ gens idcirco sic multiplicabatur, quoniam nimio dedita luxui mulieribus iungebatur multis. Nam pater adultos filios cunctos a se pellebat, præter unum, quem heredem sui iuris relinquebat.-Guillaume de Jumièges, Histor. Normann., lib. i, cap 4.
“Costume fu jadis lonc tens
En altre terre s'en aleit."-Roman de Rou., i, v. 208, etc. * Mos erat magnorum virorum regum vel comitum, æqualium nostrorum, ut piraticæ incumberent, opes ac gloriam sibi acquirentes.- Vatzdæla, ap. Bare tholin., p. 438.
and inhabited the seas. The name by which this class of pirates was known was Vikingr, which originally meant * kings of the bays,” for it was in the bays that they ambushed to dart upon the passing voyager. The recesses of the shores afforded them a station of safety from the perils of the ocean, and of advantage in their pursuit. Our bolder navigation, which selects in preference the open sea, was then unusual. In those days merchant-vessels coasted wherever it was possible, and therefore gen. erally came in sight of those bays, which often were full of this class of pirates, ready to dart upon their prey.
The ferocity and useless cruelty of this race of beings almost transcend belief. The piracy of the Vikingr was an exhibition of every species of barbarity. Some of them cultivated paroxysms of brutal insanity. These were the Bersekir, whom many authors describe. When a conflict was impending, or a great undertaking was about to be commenced, they abandoned all rationality upon system; they studied to resemble wolves or mad dogs, bít their shields, howled like wild beasts, stirred themselves up to the utmost frenzy, and then rushed to every crime and horror which the most frantic enthusiasm could perpetrate. Their fury was an artifice of battle like the war. whoops of the Indians, and in this, as in their barbarous daring and cruelty, they much resembled the latter; for the rest, their leading characteristics were much the same as those of the Saxons three centuries previous.
It was in the latter part of the eighth century that these people commenced to plague the English coasts. This they kept up at intervals for nearly a century, until at last, seeing that the country was not in condition to resist them, they fitted out large expeditions which, in course of time, overran almost the entire island, carrying with them death and destruction, and leaving nothing but ruin and misery in their trail. Priest, monk, nun, youth, old age, nothing was sacred to them. What they looked for was gold and silver, and they sought it especially in the .monasteries and churches. Northumbria became a waste. What could not be removed was set on fire, and, with but rare exceptions, the whole Anglian literature perished in the flames. All that could leave fled before
Nigellus, who wrote about about 826, has left a poem on the baptism of Harald, in which he says:
* Ipse quidem populus late pernotas habetur, Lintre dapes quærit, incolitatque mare."
the fury of the Danes, and those who remained reverted almost all to their old heathen customs and practices. Civilization went back three centuries; men forgot every art of peace, and what little learning and culture there was among the people became extinguished, even in those parts which hitherto had been the most enlightened.
This is the way it began. One day in 787, a body of men of unknown race entered, in three vessels, a port on the eastern coast where now is Portland. They probably came in the guise of traders, as they were wont on such occasions. In order to learn whence they came, and what they wanted, the Saxon magistrate of the place proceeded to the shore where they had landed. The strangers let them quietly approach; then, surrounding him and his escort, they fell suddenly upon them, killed them, and, after plundering the town, returned with their booty to their ships, and immediately set sail? Six years after a similar robbery took place on the Northumbrian coast, but on a much larger scale. Then the pirates were not further heard of for many years, until in 832 and the year following, when they were seen hovering along the southern and eastern coasts in large numbers, making descents here and there, and doing considerable mischief. It was, however, only in the year 835 that the first great army of Danish corsairs directed their course toward England, and landed on the coast of Cornwall. The ancient in- . habitants of that country, reduced by the English to the hard condition of tributaries, joined the enemies of their conquerors, either in the hope of regaining some small portion of their liberty, or simply to gratify the passion of national revenge. The northern invaders were repulsed, and the Britons of Cornwall remained under the Saxon yoke; but, shortly afterward, other fleets brought the Danes to the eastern coast in such numbers that no force could prevent them from penetrating into the heart of England. They ascended the great rivers until they found a commodious station; then they quitted their barks, and moored them or drew them aground; then, scattering themselves over the neighboring country, they
· Cuomon ærest iii scipu Nordhmanna of Hæredha lande .... Thät wäron tha ærestan scipu Daniscra monna the Angelcynnes lond gesohton.-Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ad ann. 787. Eo etiam tempore primum tres naves Nor. mannorum, id est Danorum, applicuerunt in insula, quæ dicitur Portland.Asserius, de Alfredi Gestis.
· Henrici Huntind., Hist. lib. IV, apud rer. Anglio. Script.