The Tree of the Folkungs Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Folke Filbyter plants the seed from which grows the mighty Folkung tree. Returning homeward after long sea roving, he brings his ship to shore near a shield maiden’s grave ground in the land of Sveas and Goths. Dwarf Jorgrimme, a Finnish sorcerer, prophesies terror will darken the land, and Thor’s image will tremble.

Folke tramps inland for two nights, his sack of booty on his back. The third night he comes to Jorgrimme’s cave, where the sorcerer gives him drink from the horn Manegarm, treasure of the gods. Then the dwarf cuts the sack so that some of the gold falls out. Discovering the leak, Folke swears he sows the ground with riches he will also reap. There he builds his mighty hall, Folketuna.

Before long Folke has land and thralls but no sons. One morning his men find Jorgrimme’s daughter trapped in a wolf pit, and Folke takes her home to his bed. She has three sons—Ingemund, Hallsten, and Ingevald—but she gets no honor and crouches in the straw like the scurviest thrall. Ingevald stays by his father’s side. Ingemund and Hallsten go roving at sea.

Folke, wanting a good marriage for his son, speaks for Holmdis, Ulf Ulfsson’s daughter. Meanwhile old Jakob, a begging friar, preaches a new faith in the region. When Ingevald tumbles the dwarfs’ one-eyed god, his mother gives him sacred Manegarm, stolen from Jorgrimme’s burial cairn. Folke swears blood brotherhood with the king of outlaws and gets great riches. Then Holmdis proudly spurns a match with the thrall woman’s son, but Ingevald carries her by force to his father’s hall. There, waiting in vain for her kinsmen to rescue her, she brings one son to Folketuna before she dies. After Holmdis’s funeral, Folke turns away from Ingevald. Folke Ingevaldsson is his grandfather’s heir.

When Jakob comes again, Ingevald, hoping to save his son from the lawless life at Folketuna, gives the child to the priest. For years old Folke rides from hearth to hearth looking for his lost grandchild. Thrall and thane alike know of the grim old man’s search.

King Inge travels through the land with his bodyguards, and wherever he stops men either die or are baptized in the new faith. When Ulf Ulfsson speaks for the old gods, the king’s earl and chief adviser, a ruthless, priest-trained young man, leaves him bound to perish in the forest. Ingemund and Hallsten, homeward bound, are in Ulf’s hall that night and join the king’s guard.

Folke is at Upsala when the sacred grove burns and people cry out against Inge and call Blot Sven king. There Folke sees the king’s earl, on his hand the star-shaped mark of the child stolen from Folketuna years before. Although the old outlaw offers his riches to help the king’s need, young Folke and his uncles are proud men with little wish to have a name as unsavory as Folke Filbyter’s associated with them, now that they are counted among the greatest of the king’s thanes. They take the treasure he...

(The entire section is 1215 words.)