- Project Runeberg -  The History of the Swedes /

(1845) Author: Erik Gustaf Geijer Translator: John Hall Turner
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - III. Establishment of Christianity. Contests of the Swedes and Goths for Supremacy. A.D. 800—1250

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shouldst make up thy quarrel with Norway’s king,
and give him thy daughter Ingegerd in marriage.
If thou wilt win back those lands in the East which
belonged to thy kinsmen and parents, we will
attend thee thither. But if thou heed not our
words, we will set upon and slay thee, and will not
suffer lawlessness and trouble at thy hands. For
so did our fathers before us; they threw five kings
into a well, that were puffed up with arrogance like
thee. Now say forthwith what thou wilt choose.”
Then a great clashing of arms again resounded
from the people. But the king rose up and granted
their prayer, adding, that so the kings of Sweden
had ever done, in taking counsel of the peasants.

Breach of his promise on the king’s part, had
well nigh produced the consequences threatened in
this speech. The peasants were already assembled,
and deliberating upon the king’s dethronement,
because he had broken the decree of the great
Folkmote (allshärjardom). The Lawman of the
West Goths contended that they should renounce
for ever the old line of princes. Certain chiefs of
the Upper Swedes, who had remained true to
Olave, turned this circumstance to the advantage
of his cause. They conferred with their fellows,
and said, “If the matter have gone so far that
Olave, the son of Eric the Victorious, must be
deprived of the kingship, then it seemeth to us that
we Upper Swedes should have most to say thereto;
for so it has ever been, that what the chiefs of the
Upper Swedes have determined among themselves,
the inhabitants of the other provinces have
consented to, and our ancestors never needed to take
counsel of the West Goths as to who should bear
rule in the realm of Sweden.” Thereupon they led
forth the king’s young son among the people. He
had been named Jacob at his baptism, which pleased
the Swedes ill, for never, said they, had there been
a king of Sweden called Jacob. Now they gave him
the name of Anund, and took him to be their king,
stipulating that he should stand upon the rights of
the peasants, if his father would not comply with
their desires; for the old king was still continued
in the government, on condition that he should
fulfil his engagement. Ingegerd, however, the
daughter of the Swedish king promised to Norway,
had already been married to the Russian
grand duke Jaroslav [1], and her sister Astrid
had, although against her father’s wishes, given
her hand to the Norwegian king. It remained
only to conclude peace, which was arranged at a
personal interview of the two sovereigns at
Kung-hall. Two years afterwards died Olave the
lap-king, as the sagas state, when Olave Haraldson had
been for seven years king of Norway, which fixes
the date of the former’s death in 1024. He had
ceded Denmark to his stepfather, and was obliged
to transfer his conquests in Norway to his
son-in-law; he was also reproached with having allowed
the eastern dependencies of Sweden to be lost. On
the other hand the Norwegian settlers in Jemtland
and Helsingland submitted themselves to the
superiority of Sweden. Olave the lap-king,
although a Christian, yet loved the old heathen poesy.
Not less than four Scalds are mentioned as residing
at his court, and an account is preserved of a poetical
contest which took place between two of them
in the king’s presence.

Anund Jacob was now sole ruler; what is known of
his reign chiefly relates to the share he took in the
affairs of Norway and Denmark. He was the faithful
confederate of his brother-in-law Olave of Norway,
and defended him against the powerful Canute,
now lord both of Denmark and England, who had not
abandoned his claims on Norway. These were the
more dangerous, as Olave’s violent zeal for
Christianity, and his rigorous punishment of the Norwegian
pirates, who plundered even their own coasts, had
created many enemies. He was obliged at length
to flee from his kingdom, of which Canute took
possession, and he only returned from Russia and
Sweden to lose his life in battle against his former
subjects at Stiklarstad,—though he was afterwards
revered by them, in common with the whole North,
as a saint. His son Magnus the Good was
recalled from Russia where he had been educated,
ascended with Swedish aid the throne of his father,
and became at last, after many and singular
vicissitudes of fortune, king of Denmark, on the death
of Canute and his sons. Of the family of the latter
monarch Swen only now survived, the son of his
sister Estrid, who remained long in Sweden, and
received support from that country in his
pretensions on Denmark, which were at length admitted
upon the death of Magnus.

Adam of Bremen knew Anund Jacob from the
account of Swen Estridson, and remarks of him,
that no prince was ever so loved by the people of
Sweden. Yet the old catalogue of kings in the
law of West-Gothland declares that he was severe
in his judgments. He was surnamed Kolbränna,
because he burned down the houses of malefactors,
a penalty, which both in the north and among the
Normans of France, was attached to such offences
as entailed the outlawry or banishment of the
criminals [2]. The year of his death is not known with
certainty, though it is evident that he was alive
after 1036, in which it is placed by various later
annalists, from a misapprehension of a passage in
the sagas. Adam of Bremen states that king
Anund died in Sweden, after the sons of Earl
Godwin had reached their highest power in England,
while king Edward retained only the name of
sovereignty. The peace by which Godwin and his
sons compelled that prince to replace them again
in their former dignities was concluded in 1052,
and in the following year their father died [3].
Within this limit falls also the end of Anund Jacob’s
reign and life.

Edmund, surnamed Gammal (the old), because
he did not become king till late in life, succeeded
his brother. Although he was the elder of the
two, his brother had been preferred to him as being
of nobler birth; Edmund, on the other hand, was
born of a mother taken captive in war, the daughter
of a Venedic chieftain, who is called the king’s
handmaid. Edmund was brought up among foreigners
by the relatives of his mother, and gave himself
little solicitude about Christianity [4]. Dearths vexed
the land in his days, a calamity for which the

[1] Her monument still exists in the church of St. Sophia at
Novogorod, with an inscription which states 1051 as the year
of her death, though itself more recent. Anund Jacob was
her full brother; Astrid, her half-sister, being born of a
Venedian mother.
[2] Du Fresne, Glossarium, v. Condemnare.
[3] Simeon Dunelmensis ad ann. 1052. The “Historia
Archiepiscoporum Bremensium” gives 1051 as the year of
Anund Jacob’s death.
[4] Saga of St. Olave, c. 89.

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