Thursday, 16 June 2016

Haven And Vikings

"After sowing season a big fleet rowed out of Haven." (Hrolf Kraki's Saga, p. 47)

For peaceful trade and exploration? No, in viking. Anderson said in his Foreword that he would not spare us the "...spirit of the saga...," which is straight out of "...the midnight of the Dark Ages." (p. xix) We follow the fortunes of two young brothers who have avenged their father by killing their uncle and have then succeeded him as joint kings. So do we think of them as good guys? Not necessarily.

Helgi promises a summer cruise to win wealth. Many younger sons join him. Hroar comments that they have many enemies and vikings to fight without turning viking themselves. Helgi replies that men will not continue to follow them if they cannot win booty. But, two pages previously, Helgi had led his fighting men against "[b]ands of robbers and nests of vikings..." until "...yeomen blessed his name." (p. 45) King Grallon of Ys had found that booty could be won from pirate hideouts. Hadding took leadership of a band of vikings but then hired them out to protect kingdoms against wild tribes and to guard traders. With high pay and booty won from their enemies, they traded and bought farms. Thus, Helgi should be able to do more with his eager young men than "...harry the southern Baltic coasts..." (p. 47), where yeomen will subsequently curse his name.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, King Hadding and later his descendants Hroar and Helgi had the right idea, recruit restless and ambitious young men and use them not for wantonly plundering helpless people but for rooting out bandits and pirates. For Helgi to then go in viking himself was not good, even tho it was all too common in that midnight of the Dark Age and later.

For that matter, we STILL have pirates today! Sea bandits infesting the Horn of Africa and the Malay seas have been preying on sea borne commerce. And the weakness we see all too often from Western nations today is worsening the problem!

For a time the Royal Navy stamped out this plague by simply DESTROYING the pirates and making it convincingly plain to pirates they would be hunted down. No longer, alas!