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MAGNUS CLAIMS THE ENGLISH CROWN.
position seemed less secure. He now fell back on the CHAP. VII. claim by virtue of which he had possessed himself of the EngDenmark, and which, in his eyes, gave him an equal right lish Crown. to the possession of England. Magnus sent an embassy to England, claiming the Crown, and setting forth his right.1 He and Harthacnut had agreed that whichever of them outlived the other should succeed to his dominions. Harthacnut was dead; Magnus had, by virtue of that agreement, succeeded to the Crown of Denmark; he now demanded Harthacnut's other Kingdom of England. Eadward, we are told, answered in a magnanimous Eadward's strain, in which he directly rested his right to the English Crown on the choice of the English people. While his brother lived, he had served him faithfully as a private man, and had put forward no claim by virtue of his birth. On his brother's death, he had been chosen King by the whole nation and solemnly consecrated to the kingly office. Lawful King of the English, he would never lay aside the Crown which his fathers had worn before him. Let Magnus come; he would raise no army against him, but Magnus should never mount the throne of England till he had taken the life of Eadward.3 Magnus, so the Norwegian Saga tells us, was so struck with this answer, that he gave up all thoughts of attacking England, and acknowledged Eadward's right to the English Crown. This account, as perhaps Eadward's answer also, savours somewhat of romance. But that Magnus did contemplate an invasion of England is certain, and, as England had given him no cause for war, an invasion of England would seem to imply a claim on the English Crown. The Norwegian King was looked on as dangerous in the year after
1 Snorro, Magnus, 38 (Laing, ii. 397); Ant. Celt. Scand. 184.
2 Snorro, Ant. Celt. Scand. 185. "Var þat þá rád her allra landsmanna at taka mik till Konungs her í Englandi."
" Does this mean that Eadward meant to meet Magnus in single combat?
CHAP. VII. Eadward's coronation, and in the next year he was kept Preparaback from an invasion of England only by a renewal of the war in the North. In both these years Eadward found it necessary to gather a fleet together at Sandwich.' In the first year the fleet amounted to thirty-five ships only; in the second year we are told that it was a fleet such as no man had ever seen before.2 In this last case we are distinctly told that its object was to repel an expected invasion on the part of Magnus.
The war renewed by
partnership with HAROLD
The war was now renewed by Swegen, seemingly in Swegen in partnership with an actor of greater, though perhaps less merited, renown than himself. Harold the son of Sigurd, the half-brother of Saint Olaf, had escaped as a stripling from the field of Stikkelstad, where his brother, according to one view, received the crown of martyrdom, while, according to another, he received only the just reward of hasty and violent, however well-meant, interference with the ancient institutions of his country. Harold, surnamed Hardrada-the stern in council-lived to become the most renowned warrior of the North, the last Scandinavian King who ever set foot as an enemy on purely English ground, the last invader who was to feel the might of Englishmen fighting on their own soil for their own freedom, and who was, in his fall, to pave the way for the victory of an invader yet mightier than himself. The fight of Stamfordbridge, the fight of the two Harolds, will form one of the most striking scenes in a later stage of our history. As yet, Harold was known only as the hero of a series of adventures as wild and wonderful as
1 Chron. Ab. 1044, 1045; Chron. Petrib. 1043.
2 Chron. Ab. 1045. "And þar was swa mycel here gegæderod swa nan man ne geseh, sciphere nænne maran on þysan lande."
For the life of Harold Hardrada our chief authority is his Saga in Snorro, which will be found in the third volume of Laing's Translation. It fits in better than might have been expected with authentic history. There are also notices in Adam of Bremen and the Danish writers.
HISTORY OF HAROLD HARDRADA.
any that have ever been recounted in poetry or romance. CHAP. VII. Wounded at Stikkelstad, the young prince was saved by Escape of a faithful companion, and was cherished during the fol- from Stiklowing winter by a yeoman ignorant of his rank. He kelstad. passed through Sweden into Russia, where he formed a friendship with King Jaroslaf of Novgorod. Thence, He goes after a few years, he betook himself, with a small train tinople. of companions, to the Byzantine Court. He found the State of Eastern Empire in one of those periods of decay which pire. so strangely alternate in its history with periods of regeneration at home and victory abroad. The great Macedonian dynasty was still on the throne; but the mighty Basil was in his grave, and the steel-clad lancers of the New Rome were no longer the terror of Saracen, Bulgarian, and Russian. The Empire which he had saved, Reign of and which he had raised to the highest pitch of glory, 1028-1050. had now become the plaything of a worthless woman, and the diadem of the Cæsars was passed on at every caprice of her fancy from one husband or lover to another. The Norwegian prince reached the Great City, the Mickelgard of Northern story, in the period of Byzantine history known as the Reigns of the Husbands of Zôê.1 The Eastern Cæsars had already begun to gather the Northern adventurers who appeared at their doors as friends or as enemies into that famous Warangian body-guard, the The Warangians. counterpart of the Housecarls of Cnut, which as yet seems to have been recruited wholly from Scandinavia, but which was afterwards to be reinforced by so large a body of exiles from our own land.2 Harold apparently received the command of this force, and at their head he is said to have performed a series of amazing exploits.3
1 See Finlay, Byz. Emp. i. 466. 2 See vol. i. p. 512, and above, p. 43. 3 Adam Brem. iii. 16. "Erat vir potens et clarus victoriis, qui prius in Græciâ et in Scythia regionibus multa contra barbaros prælia confecit." For some legends, see Saxo, 205.
CHAP. VII. It would almost seem as if the arrival of these Northern auxiliaries had inspired the Empire with a new life.
Their ser- Certain it is that, just about this time, we find the ByHarold in zantine armies, after an interval of deadness, once more in Sicily. vigorous action, and that in the very region in which the Norwegian Saga places the most memorable exploits of Harold. He waged war, we are told, against the Saracens both in Sicily and in Africa; he fought eight pitched battles, and took castle after castle from the misbelievers. That is, there can be little doubt, Harold and his followers served in the Sicilian expedition of Maniakês, who was at this time waging a vigorous war against the Saracens of Sicily, and who won back many of their towns to the Empire.1 It does not appear that Maniakês actually ventured on an African campaign, but, as the Saracens of Africa undoubtedly aided their Sicilian brethren,2 a landing of Imperial troops on their coast is quite possible. At all events, warfare with African Saracens anywhere might easily, in the half-legendary language of the Sagas, grow into a tale of an actual invasion of Africa. Harold is next represented as entering on another series of adventures for which it is more difficult to find a place in authentic history. He set out, we are told, on a premature Crusade; he marched with his followers to Jerusalem, clearing the way of robbers, and winning back countless towns and castles to the allegiance of Christ and Cæsar. Here we have of course the mere reflexion of the age of the writer, who could not conceive so famous a warrior as entering the Holy City in any character but that of a conqueror. But that Harold, as a peaceful pilgrim, the brother of a canonized Saint, visited Jerusalem, that he prayed and gave gifts at the Holy Sepulchre, and bathed in the hallowed stream of Jordan,
1 See Finlay, i. 487.
His Crusade or Pilgrimage.
HAROLD'S EXPLOITS IN THE EAST.
It is worth noticing that the reigning Emperor Constantine Monomachos had a hand in restoring the church of the Holy Sepulchre. It would be singular indeed if Harold Hardrada were in any way the instrument of his bounty. See Finlay, i. 503.
2 See Appendix K.
3 So says the Saga, but it is hard to say who is meant by this niece of Zoe. It is possible that, if there be any truth in the story, some niece or other kinswoman of Constantine is intended; but Ducange (Fam. Byz. 145) does not help us to identify her. William of Malmesbury (iii. 260) gives another turn the story. He was 'pro stupro illustris fœminæ leoni objectus." Of course he kills the beast. In Saxo (205) the crime becomes murder, and the lion is exchanged for a dragon.
is quite in the spirit of the age and of the man.1 To the CHAP. VII. holy places of Christendom Harold would be led of set purpose by every feeling of the time. If, as there is reason to believe, his course of adventure led him to the most renowned seat of heathen freedom and heathen wisdom, it was, we may be sure, with very little recollection of its ancient glories. At some stage of his exploits, Harold and his companions seem to have appeared in a hostile character in the haven of Peiraieus and either, on their own account or by an Imperial commission, to have put down certain disturbances among the Athenians of the eleventh century. At all events, Harold of Norway shared in the penitential devotion of Robert the father of Norman William and of Swegen the brother of English Harold; and, more fortunate than either, he returned in safety and glory to his own land. He came back to Constantinople to find himself maligned at the Imperial Court, and to be refused the hand of a niece of the Empress.3 Scandal went so far as to say that the cause of this refusal was that Zôê, a woman whose passions survived to an unusually late period of life, herself cast an eye of love on the valiant Northman. Harold now made his escape from Constan- Harold tinople, after—so his Northern admirers ventured to say- from Conputting out the eyes of the Emperor Constantine Mono- stanti machos. This of course is pure fiction. The historical