The battle of Svolde - I
King Olaf departed for Norway as the gentle blowing breeze was favorable jarl(earl)Sigvaldi, who was later reveal as a traitor accompanied the king flagging it as a goog help. The Danish and Swedish king amongst others had planed an ambush off the isle called Svolde, possibly located in the Baltic.the coalition force contained vessels of king Sweyn Forkhead of Denmark, king Olaf Skotkonug of Sweden, the Norwegian Jarls, brothers Eric and Sven Haakonsson whose father was deposed by king Olaf. Jarl Eric ship was a well fortified, spectacular, it had bread on the highest part of the prow and stem and a thick plate of iron going from the bread to the waterline.
The plan of King Olaf adversaries was successful, the battle had begun.
The Danish and Swedish kings attacked the front of the Norwegian ship-fort. Eric vessel was of great significance as it rammed through King Olaf formation. Eirik detached vessels one after the other from the king 11-vessels fleet. The king had foresaw this as he had wrote of the Danes calling them
And to the Swedes, saying
The Swedes would have an easier and more pleasant time licking out their sacrificial bowls than boarding the long serpent in the face of our weapons and succeeding in clearing our ships.
But, to the Norwegians brothers, he feared, saying
The are Norwegian like us!
The battle continued all day until the kings’ long serpent is the only one left. The battle of control over the long serpent and in essence Norway is long and hard as each of the king’s men knew that the must sell their lives dearly, knowing victory is impossible but starving of the inevitable.
Scene from “king Olaf Tryggvason’s saga” by Angus McBride Climatic episode of the battle of Svolde(King Olaf left of the center)image courtesy of Armchairgeneral
King Olaf, heavily guarded had a good run but finally was left alone; his enemies were bent on capturing him. Knowing his fate if this happens, Olaf made a warriors decision, he jumped overboard! His heavy equipment quickly taking him to the depth of the cold icy waters of the Baltic Sea. Thus saith Hallfrod
From the serpent sank they down, wounded in the fight;
Give way or flee they would not, resisting to the last.
Though glorious the king maybe who steers the serpent
Such men as there will long be lacking where’re she strideth
The battle of Svolde led to the division of Norway into a number of areas of control, heimskringla describes this as threefold.
image courtesy of Burnpit
Olaf the Swedes received four district (area in blue on the map), he however gave these to jarl Svein , his son in law. Forkhead gained possession of the Viken district (area in brown; the home of King Olaf Tryggvason) and the rest of Norway was ruled by Eirik as Forkhead vassal(area in green). The jarl brothers proved strong, competent rulers and their reign was prosperous.