Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 988

Odin

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Odin, an Asian conqueror who finally settles in the Scandinavian peninsula. From him, later rulers of the northland claim descent.

Mime

Mime, Odin’s friend, a spy killed by a neighboring people. Receiving the head, Odin preserves it with herbs and sings incantations over it; thereafter, it speaks and discovers secrets for him.

On Jorundsson

On Jorundsson, king of Sweden. He extends his life by sacrificing a son to Odin every ten years. His people refuse to permit his tenth son to be sacrificed, and he dies of extreme old age.

Halfdan the Black

Halfdan the Black, king of Norway. A good king, he dies young. His quartered body is sent to separate provinces to spread his good influence.

Harald the Fairhaired

Harald the Fairhaired, Halfdan’s son. Challenged by a girl who refuses his advances because of the smallness of his territory, he conquers all of Norway and marries her.

Aethelstan

Aethelstan, king of England. He and Harald constantly try to trap each other into acknowledging the other’s mastery, but each rules his own kingdom until death.

Hakon the Good

Hakon the Good, Harald’s son. Sent by Harald as foster son to Aethelstan, Hakon returns to Norway at Harald’s death, and becomes king of Norway. A Christian, he does not force Christianity on his followers, but many are converted.

Eric Blood-Ax

Eric Blood-Ax, Hakon’s brother. Slayer of at least four other brothers, he is killed in England.

Tryggve Olafsson

Tryggve Olafsson, a petty king slain by Eric’s sons, who rule Norway after Hakon is killed in battle.

Olaf Tryggvesson

Olaf Tryggvesson, the son of Tryggve, who becomes a Viking chieftain when twelve. Converted to Christianity after his raids on England, he in turn converts all of Norway to Christianity. He dies at the hands of Danish kings in 1000.

Aethelred

Aethelred, king of England. Olaf makes and keeps peace with him.

Olaf Haraldsson the Saint

Olaf Haraldsson the Saint, a descendant of Harald the Fairhaired. He extends the influence of Christianity and persistently tries to establish independence and national union. Slain in 1030 by petty chieftains whose traditional powers he is trying to reduce, he has long-lasting influence. After his death, many miracles are attributed to him.

Magnus the Good

Magnus the Good, the stepson of Olaf the Saint. He becomes king of Norway; later he is also king of Denmark.

Hardacanute

Hardacanute, king of Denmark and king of England. According to peace terms with Magnus, the survivor is to rule the other’s country.

Edward the Good

Edward the Good, king of England. So sensible and courageous is his reply to Magnus’ claim to the English throne after Hardacanute’s death, that Magnus is content to let him rule in England.

Harald Sigurdsson the Stern

Harald Sigurdsson the Stern, the brother of Olaf the Saint. He collects great wealth in his plundering travels. Returning to Norway, he is troublesome to his nephew Magnus, who finally gives him half of Norway in return for half his booty.

Ellisiv

Ellisiv, the daughter of the Russian king and the wife of Harald the Stern.

Harald Godwinsson

Harald Godwinsson, successor to Edward the Good of England. Trying to unthrone him, Harald the Stern meets his death in England.

Magnus

Magnus, a son of Harald the Stern. Co-ruler of Norway with his brother, he dies young of sickness.

Olaf the Quiet

Olaf the Quiet, another son of Harald the Stern. He is a successful ruler of Norway for twenty-six years.

Magnus Barefoot

Magnus Barefoot, so called after his return from Scotland in Scottish national costume. The son of Olaf the Quiet, he greatly extends the power of the central government during his ten-year rule of Norway. Not yet thirty, he is killed in Ireland in 1103.

Hakon Magnusson

Hakon Magnusson, the nephew of Olaf the Quiet. He shares with Magnus Barefoot in the rule of Norway until his early death from sickness.

Olaf

Olaf, the youngest son of Magnus Barefoot. He dies young.

Eystein

Eystein, another son of Magnus Barefoot. Co-ruler of Norway, he is jealous of his brother Sigurd.

Sigurd the Crusader

Sigurd the Crusader, another son of Magnus Barefoot. He travels for three years to the Holy Land and elsewhere while Eystein rules at home. Surviving his brother, he greatly improves the legal system of his country.

Magnus the Blind

Magnus the Blind, the son of Sigurd and a foolish king. Captured and blinded by Harald Gille, he retires to a monastery.

Harald Gille

Harald Gille, from Ireland. Claiming to be Sigurd’s half brother, he proves his paternity in an ordeal by hot iron. Proclaimed ruler over part of Norway, he is a cruel sovereign.

Sigurd Slembedegn

Sigurd Slembedegn, a pretender to the throne, by whose order and treachery Harald Gille is killed.

Sigurd

Sigurd and

Eystein

Eystein, sons of Harald Gille. Constant unrest results from their leadership of separate factions.

Crippled Inge

Crippled Inge, Harald Gille’s most popular son. Surviving his brothers, he rules alone for a time and dies at twenty-six.

Cardinal Nicholas

Cardinal Nicholas, who comes from Rome in 1152 to establish an archbishopric at Nidaros, shrine of Olaf the Great. Well-loved, he later becomes Pope Adrian IV.

Hakon Sigurdsson the Broad-Shouldered

Hakon Sigurdsson the Broad-Shouldered, an untrustworthy claimant to Eystein’s part of Norway. He kills Inge and is defeated in battle at fifteen in 1162.

Erling Skakke

Erling Skakke, a power behind Inge’s throne. He gives up power to archbishops and to Denmark and becomes a tyrant in order to secure the Norwegian throne for his son.

Valdemar

Valdemar, king of Denmark. Erling Skakke gives him part of Norway as a fief under the Danish crown in exchange for peace.

Magnus Erlingsson

Magnus Erlingsson, the son of Erling Skakke. Son of a daughter of Sigurd the Crusader, he is a legitimate candidate for the throne of Norway. He is five years old when his father’s supporters make him king.

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