History of Sweden:
Sweden In Prehistoric And Early Historic Times
Dawn Of Swedish History - Heimskringla And Ynglingatal
The Viking Age - Ansgar, The Apostle Of Sweden
Early Christian Era - Stenkil's Line And Interchanging Dynasties
The Mediaeval State - The Folkung Dynasty
Unionism Versus Patriotism - Margaret, Engelbrekt And Charles Knutsson
Unionism Versus Patriotism - Uncrowned Kings Of The Sture Families
Revolution And Reformation - Gustavus Vasa
Reformation And Reaction - The Sons Of Gustavus I
Period Of Political Grandeur - Gustavus Ii Adolphus
Read More Articles About: History of Sweden
The Viking Age - Ansgar, The Apostle Of Sweden
( Originally Published 1899 )
" IN the North there is a great ocean, and in this ocean there is a large island called Scandza, out of whose loins our race burst forth like a swarm of bees and spread over Europe." These were the words the Gothic historian Jordanes put on parchment, inspired by the popular traditions of a Teutonic migration from the North. Historic evidence is lacking to prove or disprove the truth of these words. But they may be applied to the phenomenon which has given its name to the Viking Age.
The Viking expeditions seem to stand in connection with the great Teutonic migrations, at least to be related to them in nature. The Teutons of the North were not directly affected by the migrations, but at the close of the eighth century the same restlessness and desire of expansion appear to have taken possession of the Northmen as in earlier times of their relatives in more southerly lands. And it was a timely move, for the energy and strength with which these had in their time suffused Europe were dying out. Europe was in need of new blood and iron to wake her from her anæmia and to build up new institutions. The North was freed from a turbulent and lawless element and was brought in closer contact than ever before with the learning and culture of the world. For centuries the Northmen had through their southern kinsmen been in contact with continental culture. But now they came out to see for themselves, to make themselves a place in a wider and richer world, or to bring home from there what they most desired of beauty, riches and culture. They were not delicate as to means. Violence was with them as natural as their freedom of individuality was in-dispensable. Yet they were to play a most important part in the cultural development of Europe, furnishing her with institutions of imperishable iron and changing the darkness of the Middle Ages into an era of chivalry in spirit and in deeds.
The Viking expeditions were always undertaken by free men, and were in the North, from remotest times, considered not only an honest but an honorable occupation. Slaves and freed men were excluded. The leadersoften kings or their sonswere always men of noble descent or of importance. As the Viking expeditions took on larger proportions, they became more and more organized; from random expeditions, undertaken by individuals, they developed into national undertakings, led by the king or his chieftains, not for a pastime, but in completion of a national policy. On account of this latest aspect, it is but just to divide the field in which the Northmen were active according to their respective nationalities. With such a division applied, the Viking expeditions to the West, to Britain, France, Portugal and Spain do not pertain to Swedish history, for they were planned and undertaken principally by Danes and Norwegians. It is true that there were many Swedish participants also in these expeditions, as the sagas and the memorial stones on Swedish soil tell us; also true that some of the later Swedish provinces, like Bohuslaen and Scania, sent out their large contingents of Vikings and sea-kings to the West, and that one of the oldest Swedish homes of culture, West Gothland, had an appropriate channel to the West, by way of the mighty Gotha River, through which without doubt many a Viking expedition was sent; yet the leaders were in a majority of cases Danish or Norwegian chieftains. For similar reasons the Vi-king expeditions to the East belong by right to Swedish history. In them the participants and chieftains were Swedes, to an overwhelming majority, and, from time immemorial, Swedish districts from which the expeditions were started.
To Russia the Swedes first went on marauding expeditions; but after the countries of the North had been shaped into three large monarchies, they came to Russia upon special invitation, in order to found there a realm of strong and consistent government. This becomes evident from the testimony of the Russian historian Nestor, a monk in Kief, who lived in the latter part of the eleventh century. About the founding of the Russian empire by the Swedes he has the following remarkable statements:
"In the year 6367 (after the creation of the world, which is the 859th after the birth of Christ) the Variagi (or Varangians) came across the sea, taking tribute from the Tchud and the Slays," etc."In the year 6370 (862 A.D.) they chased the Variagi back across the sea, giving them no tribute and commencing to govern themselves, but it turned out badly with legal affairs, tribe rose against tribe, causing strife, and a rebellion was started. Then they said between themselves : `Let us seek a prince who will govern us and reason with us justly!' And they went across the sea to the Variagi, to the Russians, for thus were the Variagi called, just as others were called Sviar, others Nurmanni, others Anglii, and others Goths. And the Tchudi (the Slays of Novgorod), the Slays, the Krivitchi and the Vessi said to the Russians, `Our land is great and fruitful, but it lacks order and justice; come and take possession, and govern us!' And three brothers with their followers were selected, and they took the whole of Rus with them and came. And the oldest, Rurik, took his abode in Novgorod, the second, Sineus, his in Bielo-Jesero, and the third, his in Isborsk; his name was Truvor. After two years Sineus and his brother Truvor died. Rurik then took the whole power into his hands and gave towns over to his men, giving to one Polotsk, to another Rostof, and to a third Bielo-Jesero. And into these towns the Variagi have migrated; the earlier inhabitants in Novgorod were Slays, in Polotsk, Krivitchi, in Rostof, Meri, and in Bielo-Jesero, Vessi."
That the Variagi were of Swedish descent, and that it was they who gave the name of Russia to the Slav countries, is proved beyond the possibility of a doubt. A most weighty argument is the large number of Swedish names in the list of Variag princes who reigned in Russia. It would not have been possible for Nestor to devise the more than one hundred leading names of Swedish origin which occur in his chronicle. Furthermore, it has been shown that there are fifteen Swedish loanwords in Russian. This is very much. Great and powerful nations have left behind a good deal less in modern languages, the Vandals three words, the Burgundians four or five, the Herulians one. Although the Swedes in Russia had no literature in their ancestral language, they have left behind more words than the majority of Teutonic tribes founding states and nations. The Old Swedish equivalents to some of the most important proper names which meet us in early Russian history are as follows : Rurik=Hroerekr, Sineus=Signjôtr, Truvor=Tryggve, Oleg=Helge, Olga=Helga, Igor= Inge, Ingvar.
For two hundred years after Rurik, all the leading men in Russian history carry Swedish names, and all the czars of Russia were the descendants of Rurik, up to the year 1598. The emperor and historian Constantine Porphyrogenitus, speaking of Russia, makes the distinction between the Slays and the Russians proper. In his description of the cataracts of the Dniepr, he gives to each the Russian and the Slav name, and these Russian names are nearly all understood by reference to old Swedish roots. Examples are Gellandri (Gellandi)=the Noisy, Eyfôrr=the Al-ways Turbulent. Luitprand, the Italian chronicler, speaking of the Russians, says : "The Greeks call them Russians, we call them properly Northmen. The annals of St. Bertinus tell how Emperor Theophilus recommended some Russian envoys to Louis le Débonnaire, but how he, taking them for Norman spies, threw them into prison. The first Russian Code of Laws, compiled by laroslaf, presents a striking analogy to the Old Swedish laws.
The Slays must have originally borrowed the name Russian from the Finns, who, up to the present day, call the Swedes Ruotsi. The name is in Sweden connected with a part of the coast of Upland still called Roslagen. The etymology of the name is Old Swedish rodr (rudder) and rodsmenn (oarsmen). Roslagen means "associations of oarsmen." The district is famous for its large peculiar rowboats. By the term Russians, the Slays originally meant people from Roslagen, later Sweden in general. But when these Russians had become the founders of a new empire, south of the Baltic, it became necessary to devise a new name for the inhabitants of Sweden. This name was found in Variagi. Only the Swedes seeking employment as sworn warriors in the service of the new Russian dynasty, or in the body-guard of the Byzantine emperors, were originally thus called. But when the name of the new nation of Swedes and Slays became Russians, the Swedes, and the Scandinavians in general, became known as Variagi. The etymology of the word has been given as the Old Swedish var (sacramentum) and voeringar (sacrarnentarii, soldiers bound by oath). The same name applied to Swedes, or Northmen, occurs frequently in slightly altered forms in Greek and Arabic manuscripts.
While Rurik and his brothers were building towns, which probably means the fortifying of ancient villages, two other Variagi, Askold and Dir, who were not of the family of Rurik, went down to Kief, and reigned over the Poliané. It was they who began the expeditions against Byzantium in 865. In speaking of this, Nestor calls the Bosphorus Sud, an Old Swedish word meaning a sound. The Bosphorus is also called Sud on a Swedish memorial stone over a man who was killed in a similar expedition.
Oleg, the fourth brother of Rurik, was his successor, his son Igor being yet a minor. He was an energetic man and a great administrator.
Smolensk, Lubetch and Kief were captured, and Askold and Dir put to death. Between the years 879-912, Oleg organized the Russian empire. For the sake of commerce, he tried to preserve peace with the Greeks, but when difficulties arose he called in new armies from Sweden and great expeditions started against Byzantium. But these Variagi were an unruly element, and, in order to satisfy their desire for war and booty, the Russian rulers always let a plundering expedition to the Caspian Sea follow every unsuccessful attack upon Byzantium; also when war with the Greeks was avoided through decrees of peace, expeditions to the Caspian Sea took place.
These expeditions against the Arabs, who inhabited the coasts of the Caspian Sea, were neither in any marked degree successful. Masudi is the first author among the Arabs who mentions the expeditions of the Swedes. They came down the river Volga in their ships. The Arabs describe the "Rûs" as blond and "tall as palm-trees." The burial of a Rûs is described by Ibn Fosslan, who visited Bulgaria in 921. "The hero was burned in a ship with weapons, horses, dogs and a woman." In 965, the Israelite, Ibrahim Ibn Jakub, made a journey to Germany. He tells that the Arabs in his day with Rûs (Russians) meant partly the Swedes of Sweden, "who often came in ships from the West to plunder," partly the Swedes settled in Russia, "who speak the language of the Slays, on account of admixture with them."
It was the destiny of the Swedes in Russia to exchange their language for that of the Slays and finally to absorb Slav customs. Such might not have been the case if they had been greater in numbers, or if their coming had been deferred to a later, Christian period, when to a strong form of government would have been added a strong Church organization. Yet their influence was greater than that of the Vikings in any other country, for the Russian empire was entirely a Northern creation.
To follow further the Rurik dynasty would lead us away from Swedish into Russian history. But let us mention that Oleg was succeeded by Rurik's son Igor, who also was a great war-lord, and undertook the third expedition of Russians and Variagi against Byzantium. His widow was the celebrated Olga, who was converted to Christianity and afterward canonized. She reigned during the minority of her son Sviatoslaf, whose conversion she was never able to effect. Sviatoslaf's son and grandson, Saint Vladimir and Jaroslaf the Great, were the Clovis and the Charlemagne of Russia.
After the conquest of Kief, Oleg commanded a tribute to be paid to the Variagi "for the preservation of peace." This tribute to the Swedes was paid up to the death of Jaroslaf, who in 1019 gave assurance to the king of Upsala that it should be paid regularly, Vladimir having neglected to do so. This tribute could be nothing else than a scat paid to the king of Sweden by the rulers of Russia during the ninth and tenth centuries. Sweden possessed in those days a large territory south of the Baltic, which paid scat to the king of Upsala. It was called Austria (Austerike), and reference to it under this name is often made in sagas, chronicles and inscriptions. Ynglinga Saga gives incidents of close Swedish connections to Finland and the Baltic provinces, and archæological finds point to Swedish settlements in Finland, already in the prehistoric period. Memories of conquests are preserved in statements by the Icelanders and by Saxo, the Danish historian, about the Austria of which the Swedish kings Ivar Vidfamne, Harald Hiidetand, "Sigurd" Ring and Ragnar "Lodbrok" were rulers.
Closest to an exact statement comes Snorre, who says that King Eric Edmundson of Sweden ruled over Finland, Carelia, Esthonia, Courland and "wide over all Austria." These countries belonged to Sweden until King Olof Skoetkonung "let all his scatlands get away from him." The chronicler Rimbert says that Courland, by which he means the Baltic provinces, in 850 belonged to Sweden. Shortly after this date fall, according to Nestor, those of the first Swedish contact with interior Russia (859) and of the founding of the Russian empire by Rurik (862). The Swedish dominion in the Baltic provinces, as well as the early Russian empire, must consequently have held a position similar to the one of Normandie to France and England.
The old Swedish name for Russia was Gardarike, for Novgorod Holmgard and for Byzantium Miklagard, which mean "Country of towns," "Island town," and "Great town," respectively.
Vladimir of Russia, in 980, sent a number of Variagi to the emperor. But already the emperors had probably surrounded themselves with a small standing army of Variagi or Barangoi, as they were called by the Greeks. They were treated with a good deal of respect and consideration, and in the North it was considered a distinction to have served in Miklagard, which even the sons of kings eagerly sought for. Soon not only Swedes, but also Norwegians, Danes and Icelanders were attracted, and Icelandic sources have a good many, in part wildly exaggerated, accounts of the Variagi and their experiences in Miklagard. The Northmen were relied upon to support the tottering empire, and were despatched to the points where the hardest combats were fought. They had officers of their own nationality, and the strictest discipline was maintained.
About the year 1050 a detachment of Variagi were accepted into the body-guard of the emperor, surrounding his person on all great occasions and in public ; also keeping watch over the imperial palace. When the emperor died, they had, according to Snorre, the privilege of passing through his treasury, each taking along all he could carry off. Another privilege of theirs was that they were allowed to keep their heathen faith in the midst of the Christian surroundings.
Many and various as the reasons for the Viking expeditions must have been, the principal cause that led to their abolition was the contact with Christianity abroad, and the introduction of its teaching in the heathen North. The first missionaries to Sweden were sent by Louis the Pious, but Christianity was not entirely unknown before their arrival. For centuries, the Swedes had through commercial expeditions stood in direct or indirect contact with the Christian world, and this had brought home some knowledge of "the white Christ" and his gospel of peace. Many Northmen had been baptized while dwelling in foreign lands, and many must the Christian thralls have been who continually were brought into the country. The influence these elements exerted probably could be traced to the ennobling and developing of heathen myths, rather than to direct Christian conversions. And a similar influence of Roman and Greek myths, without doubt, exerted upon the North in earlier historic times.
Ansgar, a learned and pious monk from the convent of Corvey, became the apostle of Sweden. He had spent two years in Denmark as a missionary when called upon by Emperor Louis to visit Sweden. Louis the Pious had received the assurance by Swedish emissaries that the new faith would not meet with any obstacle, and that many were willing to embrace it. Ansgar started in the year of 830, accompanied by Witmar, also of the Corvey convent. They were well received by King Bioern, and were able to comfort many Christians in Swedish captivity, besides converting some of the inhabitants. Among the converts was the powerful Jarl Herger, who for a long period was the chief supporter of Christianity in Sweden. After about a year and a half, Ansgar and Witmar returned to the emperor, who, satisfied with the result of their mission, erected a special archbishopric in Hamburg for the spiritual needs of the North. Ansgar was made the archbishop and, with Ebo, archbishop of Rheims, apostolic legate among Swedes, Danes and Slays. At the same time, Gauzbert was made the first bishop of Sweden under the name of Simon. He went to Sweden and was well received by its king and people. But a revolt against the new faith soon rose among the heathens, not issuing from the king but from the people. Gauzbert was captured and with contumely escorted out of the country, while his relative, Nithard, was killed, thus becoming the first Christian martyr in Sweden. For seven years the country was without a preacher of the Gospel, until Ansgar sent thither a new missionary, Ardgar, who stayed there preaching until the death of Herger. In the meantime Vikings had destroyed Hamburg, and not before its bishopric had been united to that of Bremen was Ansgar in a position to visit Sweden for a second time. This he effected early in the fifties of the ninth century, coming this time as a kind of ambassador from the kings of Denmark and Germany to give more importance to his mission. The heathen partisans, who recently had accepted the departed King Eric among the gods, resented, and the reigning king, Olof, dared not grant Ansgar the right to preach. The difficulty was solved through the ancient custom of throwing dice. Ansgar was successful in the proceedings, and his cause was then brought before the Thing (or Assembly) for deliberation. The people decided that permission should be granted to preach the Gospel, principally on the grounds set forth by an old man who rose to remind the Thing that the new God had already helped a good many, and that it was a good thing to have him to fall back on when the old gods failed. After having built churches and baptized a great number, Ansgar returned home, leaving behind Erimbert, a relative of Gauzbert's. Archbishop Rimbert was Ansgar's successor, himself visiting Sweden. After his death, the archbishops of the North seem to have ceased taking interest in Swedish missions. .The little church, left to itself, soon succumbed. When at last one of the archbishops, Unne, woke up to the necessity of visiting Sweden, he found that the Gospel was forgotten. He was himself surprised by death while in Sweden, and buried in the town of Birka, in 936. Numerous graves of the earlier Christians in Sweden have been found on the site of the old commercial centre of Birka in the island Bioerkoe, in the Lake Maelar, unburned bodies in wooden coffins, and the graves without mounds.
King Eric Edmundson was a contemporary of Rimbert. He was engaged in building up a Swedish dominion in Fin-land and on the southern shores of the Baltic. With King Harald Fairhair of Norway he was disputing the supremacy over the province of Vermland. He was succeeded by his son Bioern, who is said to have reigned for fifty years. Olof and Eric, Birn's two sons, succeeded him, the former dying suddenly at a banquet. His young son, Styrbioern Starke (the Strong), one of the most famous of Swedish heroes, demanded his share of the kingdom when only twelve years old. When King Eric told him he was yet too young, Styrbirn two springs in succession installed himself on the mound of his father, by so doing making claim upon his inheritance, according to old usage. But when he came to the Thing to demand his share in the government he was chased away with stone-throwing. King Eric gave him sixty ships with men and weapons to try his luck in Viking expeditions. Styrbirn won great fame during several years of continual warfare in the Baltic, capturing the mighty Jomsborg, a celebrated Viking nest in the island of Wollin, later turning his weapons upon Denmark, where he made the Danish king Harald Gormson Bluetooth a prisoner. He now felt strong enough to attack his uncle, King Eric. Harald Bluetooth was to help him, but failed to do so. Styrbirn sailed with a fleet to Sweden; after having landed he burned his ships to make a return impossible. King Eric met him at the Fyrisvols and fought a battle which was said to have lasted for three days. Styrbirn fell, and with him the larger part of his army. His uncle, the king, was after this called Eric Segersaell (the Victorious). After the battle the king ascended a high mound, promising a great compensation to the one who could compose a song in praise of the victory. The Icelander Thorvald Hialte, who never previously or afterward appeared as a scald, came forth and recited two strophes which are preserved to our day, receiving a costly armlet of gold as reward. This battlenext to the one at Bravols, the most famous in the heathen Northwas fought in 988.
King Eric invaded Denmark and took possession of the country, making the son of Harald Bluetooth an exile, to which facts Saxo, the Danish historian, testifies. In Den-mark Eric was baptized, the first Swedish king about whom this is said. But upon his return to Sweden he also returned to the old gods. Eric Segersæll was king of Sweden and Denmark until his death, which occurred in 994. His first consort, Sigrid Storrada (the Proud), from whom he later separated, played quite an important part in the history of her time. After the death of Eric, she married the exiled Svend Tjufvuskægg (their son being Canute the Great), who through this matrimony came to the throne of Denmark.
Olof Sktkonung, the son of Eric and Sigrid, succeeded his father. His surname is supposed to mean "the lap king," but he was no longer a minor at the death of King Eric. King Olof was not a powerful or energetic ruler, like the father. He let go, one after the other, the lands of his crown. Denmark regained its independence, and he lost also the scat-paying dominions south of the Baltic. Shortly after Olof ascended the throne, the Norwegian king, Olaf Tryggvason, had demanded Sigrid Storrada in marriage and obtained her consent. But when King Olaf asked her to become a Christian, she refused to change faith, where-upon he insulted her. Sigrid told him that this should cause his death. Two years later, when Sigrid was the wife of King Svend of Denmark, she prevailed upon her son and her husband to join hands in assailing Olaf Tryggvason, who was expected back from an expedition to the lands of the Vends. The compact was made, and the Norwegian jarls, Eric and Svein, entered it. These all collected an immense fleet, which assailed the unsuspecting Olaf at Svolder, close by the coast of Pomerania. The Norwegian king lost the day and his life. This famous battle was fought in 1000, the kings of Sweden and Den-mark also taking a personal part in it. Norway was divided between the victors. The Swedish king received as his share the districts of Drontheim and Bohuslæn. These he granted to Jarl Svein, who was the betrothed of his sister Holmfrid. Fifteen years later they were recaptured by the Norwegian king.
Olaf Tryggvason had been a devout Christian. His sister Ingeborg was married to Jarl Ragnvald of West Gothland, who was baptized and invited Christian missionaries to Sweden. Through such influences King Olof Sktkonung was at last converted and baptized by Sigfrid, a German missionary, at Husaby in West Gothland, in the year 1008. Sigfrid, who has been supposed to be of English parentage and a bishop of York, evidently came from Germany. He preached for a long period in West Goth-land and Vaerend, in the latter district once being attacked by heathén men, who killed three of his companions. King Olof himself saw to it that the murderers were punished, and Sigfrid continued his noble work without molestation. He was later worshipped as a saint. Among other missionaries who were active in converting the various provinces may be mentioned the Anglo-Saxon St. David, the apostle of Westmanland, the Anglo-Saxon St. Eskil and the Swede St. Botvid, the apostles of Sdermanland, and the German Stenfi, or Simon, the apostle of Norrland. St. David was a contemporary of St. Sigfrid, while the others were a few generations younger. It was first through influence from England and Denmark, during the reign of Canute the Great, that Swedish conversions became more widespread and general.
King Olof's conversion met with a great deal of opposition, especially in Svealand, which longest remained heathen. Upsala, with its temple, was the heathen strong-hold of the North, and there the king had always, as one of his principal duties, to preside over the great sacrifices. King Olof was forced to accept the decision of a Thing which granted him freedom to select some part of the kingdom wherein to build churches and perform the duties of the new cult, but which forbade him to use his influence toward the conversion of his subjects. For this reason Olof dwelt principally in the more and more christianized West Gothland, in the capital of which province, Skara, a bishop was installed. The name of the first bishop was Turgot. Only after more than two centuries of endeavor was the Christian Church firmly established in Sweden, in the middle of the eleventh century; but even at that time the great mass of the people were heathen in name. The heathen party was so strong that it could for a long time, and occasionally with success, keep up the battle against Christianity. It took yet another century before the complete victory of Christianity was an assured fact.
The reasons for the slow progress of Christianity in Sweden were many, the principal one not being an opposition to the Christian doctrines. The superstitious change easily from one cult to another. The sceptics do not believe more in one god than in another. Of heathen sceptics there were a great many in the North who believed in nothing else than their own strength. But it was the Christian morals which were so difficult for the Swedes to accept. Accustomed to great personal liberty, they could not endure the restraint which Christian morals placed upon the individual. The very spirit of Christianity, with its kindliness and meekness, was not attractive to the Northman, who in his own mental and physical force found a tower of strength. The period of the first attempts at conversion was not well chosen. The whole North was inflamed by the Viking rage for war and plunder. Then followed a period of disinterestedness when the good seed was sown but the field neglected. Later the too arduous zeal of the priests called forth criticism and resistance from the Swedes, so tardy in making a decision and so careful in weighing reasons for and against.
To this must be added the great prestige of the Upsala temple as the heathen arc of worship in the North, and the influence of the scalds and saga men of Iceland. Iceland was discovered in 870, and settled principally by Norsemen from the British Isles and from the western coast of Nor-way, but also to some extent by Swedes and Danes. Sudden and brilliant was the rise of Icelandic culture, and Icelandic scalds overran the whole territory of the North. At the court of every king and jarl these were at home, sometimes in great numbers, and soon to the exclusion of the native poets. For their poetry, both as to contents and form, they were chiefly dependent upon the heathen myths and traditions, and the result of their popularity must have been a perfect heathen revival in those days of growing scepticism. Through intercourse with Christians in Britain, the Icelanders had borrowed many a noble trait, and their taste found admirers in the old North, where such influence must have been felt through centuries of indirect con-tact with lands of classical or Christian culture. We are told of the great number of southern coins found in Swedish soil. Which travel further and faster, thoughts or coins, and which are the more impressionable? So although it would be unjust to deprive the Icelandic poetry, the impressive and grand Eddie songs and the more artificial court-poetry, of any of its beauty or originality, it is not right to ascribe all the culture, whose blossom it is, to Iceland, or Iceland and Norway, to the exclusion of Sweden and Denmark, or the Teutonic world at large. Good epic poetry has been written all over Teutondom. In Sweden strophes in the very metre of the majority of Eddie poems have been found on tombstones. In the same manner with the contents of the Eddie poems. Granting important exceptions, we think that the heathen myths have been the same in the East as in the extreme West. The very fact that Icelandic court-poetry was accepted and enjoyed by continental chieftains presupposes a thorough knowledge and mastery of the more popular poetry of Eddie songs of gods and heroes.
Hence the revival of heathendom in the North, by which a king like Olof Sktkonung for a long time was influenced, finding his chief delight in the association with poets and saga men.
In Norway, Olaf Haraldson had ascended the throne, and he put an end to Swedish dominion in the Norwegian districts. This caused strife, and also considerable annoyance to the provinces touching the frontier. Popular feeling rose high in Sweden, when the demands for a peace guarantee with Norway were disregarded by King Olof. Jarl Ragnvald sided with the people, desiring a union between the Norwegian king and King Olof's daughter Ingegerd. At a great Thing held in Upsala, in 1018, King Olof listened to Norwegian emissaries pleading for peace and a royal marriage. Jarl Ragnvald complained of the annoyance caused to his people of West Gothland. King Olof became indignant, but was, through the forcible yet dignified appeal for peace by Torgny, the lagman (justice) of Tiundaland, compelled to a promise of peace and a con-cession of marriage. But the king did not keep his promises. A betrothal was arranged but soon annulled by Olof, and the Norwegian king was in vain expecting his promised bride. At the instigation of Jarl Ragnvald, Olaf Haraldson married King Olof's illegitimate daughter Astrid. As this was done without the consent of her father, Ragnvald dared not remain in Sweden. He went to Gardarike (Russia), where he died shortly afterward, in 1019, his widow, the princess Ingegerd, in Novgorod becoming the wife of the Russian ruler Jaroslaf.
In Sweden, trouble was brewing against the king, who had broken faith with his people, and in order to avoid open revolt King Olof was forced to divide his power with one of his sons, who, although yet a minor, was solemnly elected king. He had in baptism received the name of Jacob, which so displeased his heathen subjects that it was changed to Anund. King Olof also agreed to maintain peace with Norway, meeting his son-in-law at Konghaell, in Bohuslæn, in 1019, for a peace agreement. King Olof died two years later and was buried by the church of Husaby, where he was baptized. He was the first king who introduced coinage into Sweden. The earliest coins were made of silver by Anglo-Saxons settled in Sigtuma, and resemble closely Anglo-Saxon coins of the same period.
After the death of his father King Anund ruled alone. He entered into an alliance with his brother-in-law of Nor-way against Canute, who now was king both of Denmark and England. During Canute's absence, Anund and Olaf invaded Denmark. In the subsequent strife between Olaf and Canute, Anund took no active part. King Olaf had to flee to Russia. Upon his return he gathered an army in Sweden, with the help of Anund, and entered Norway through Jemtland. At Stiklastad he met the much superior Norwegian army, and lost his battle and his life, in 1030. After his death, the sentiment in Norway changed radically, and he was worshipped as a saint throughout the North.
Of Anund's reign little is known. Adam of Bremen, an ecclesiastic, whose history of the diocese of Hamburg and Bremen, during the period 788-1072, is one of the most important sources of Swedish history in heathen times, says of Anund : "Young in years, he excelled in wisdom and piety all his predecessors; no king was more beloved by the Swedish people than Anund." The historian gives as his authority the Danish king Svend Estridsen, who as an exile stayed at Anund's court. Anund died in 1050 and was succeeded by his older half-brother Emund surnamed the Old. He was the son of a freed woman, the daughter of a Vendish chief. For this reason he had been passed over at the first election. Emund was educated by his mother's relatives, was baptized, but was not much of a Christian. He was popular neither with the new Christian church nor with the people at large. Emund's unpopularity with the masses was caused by an agreement with Denmark in regard to the boundaries when he ceded the province of Bleking. Emund died in 1060. With him the old royal line became extinct. A new line comes to the throne of Sweden, where, with the general acceptance of Christianity, a new era commences.