The Laxdaela Saga addresses the eternal triangle of love between Kjartan Ólafsson, Bolli Thorleiksson and Gudrún Ósvífursdóttir. Kjartan and his foster brother. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. The Laxdaela Saga, a story of the men and women of the Salmon River valley, is an Icelandic family saga believed to have been composed in the middle of the.
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Ketill Flatnose was the name of a man. He was the son of Bjorn the Ungartered. Ketill was a mighty laxdsela high-born chieftain hersir in Norway.
He abode in Raumsdale, within the folkland of the Raumsdale people, which lies between Southmere and Northmere. Ketill Flatnose had for wife Yngvild, daughter of Ketill Wether, who was a man of exceeding great worth. They had five children; one was named Bjorn the Eastman, and another Helgi Bjolan.
Thorunn the Horned was the name of one of Ketill’s daughters, who was the wife of Helgi the Lean, son of Eyvind Eastman, and Rafarta, daughter of Kjarval, the Irish king.
Unn “the Deep-minded” was another of Ketill’s daughters, and was the wife of Olaf the White, son of Ingjald, who was son of Frodi the Valiant, who was slain by the Svertlings. Jorunn, “Men’s Wit-breaker,” was the name of yet another of Ketill’s daughters. She was the mother of Ketill the Finn, who settled on land at Kirkby. In the latter days of Ketill arose the power of King Harald the Fairhaired, in such a way that no folkland king or other great men could thrive in the land unless he alone ruled what title should be theirs.
When Ketill heard that King Harald was minded to put to him the same choice as to other men of might – namely, not only to put up with his kinsmen being left unatoned, but to be made himself a hireling to boot – he calls together a meeting of his kinsmen, and began his speech in this wise: I have true news of King Harald’s enmity towards us, and to me it seems that we may abide no trust from that quarter.
It seems to me that there are two choices left us, either to fly the land or to be slaughtered each in his own seat.
Now, as for me, my will is rather to abide the same death that my kinsmen suffer, but I would not lead you by my wilfulness into so great a trouble, for I know the temper of my kinsmen and friends, that ye would not desert me, even though it would be some trial of manhood to laxdaeoa me. I will follow the example of noble men, and fly this land. For I deem myself no laxdadla a man by abiding at home the thralls of King Harald, that they may chase me away from my own possessions, or that else I may have to come by utter death at their hands.
This counsel then was settled, that they should leave the country, for the sons of Ketill urged it much, and no one spoke against it. Bjorn and Helgi wished to go to Iceland, for they said they had heard many pleasing news thereof. They had been told that there was good land to be had there, and no need to pay money for it; they said there was plenty of whale and salmon and other fishing all the year round there.
But Ketill said, “Into that fishing place I shall never come in my old age. He knew lands there wide about, for there he had harried far and wide. After that Ketill made a great feast, and at it he married his daughter Thorunn the Horned to Helgi the Lean, as has been said before. After that Ketill arrayed his journey west over the sea.
Unn, his daughter, and many others of his relations went with him. That same summer Ketill’s sons went to Iceland with Helgi, their brother-in-law. Bjorn, Ketill’s son, brought his ship to the west coast of Iceland, to Broadfirth, and sailed up the firth along the southern shore, till he came to where a bay cuts into the land, and a high mountain stood on the ness on the inner side of the bay, but an island lay a little way off the land.
Bjorn said that they should stay there for a while. Bjorn then went on land with a few men, and wandered along the coast, and but a narrow strip of land was there between fell and foreshore.
This spot he thought suitable for habitation. Bjorn found the pillars of his temple washed up in a certain creek, and he thought that showed where he ought to build his house. Afterwards Bjorn took for himself all the land between Staff-river and Lavafirth, and abode in the place that ever after was called Bjornhaven.
He was called Bjorn the Eastman. His wife, Gjaflaug, was the daughter of Kjallak the Old. Their son was Thorlak, father laxdafla Steinthor of Eyr. Helgi Bjolan brought his ship to the south of the land, and took all Keelness, between Kollafirth and Whalefirth, and lived at Esjuberg to old age. Helgi the Lean brought his ship to the north of the land, and took Islefirth, all along between Mastness and Rowanness, and lived at Kristness.
From Helgi and Thornunn all the Islefirthers are sprung. Ketill Flatnose brought his ship to Scotland, and was well received by the great men there; for he was a renowned man, and of high birth. They offered him there such station as he would like to take, and Ketill and his company of kinsfolk settled down there – all except Thorstein, his daughter’s son, who forthwith betook himself to warring, and harried Scotland far and wide, and was always victorious.
Later on he made peace with the Scotch, and got for his own lazdaela of Scotland. He had for wife Thurid, daughter laxdwela Eyvind, and sister of Helgi the Lean. The Scotch did not keep laxddaela peace long, but treacherously murdered him. Ari, Thorgil’s son, the Wise, writing of his death, says that he fell in Caithness. Unn the Deep-minded was in Caithness when her son Thorstein fell. When she heard that Thorstein was dead, and her father had breathed his last, she deemed she would have no prospering in store there.
So she had a ship built secretly in a wood, and when it was ready laxvaela she arrayed it, and had great wealth withal; and she took with her all her kinsfolk who were left alive; and men deem that scarce may an example be found that any one, a woman only, has ever got out of such a state of war with so much wealth and so great a following.
From this it may be seen how peerless among women she was. Unn had with her many men of great worth and high birth. A man named Koll was one of the worthiest amongst her followers, chiefly owing to his descent, he being by title a “Hersir. When lxadaela was ready, Unn took her ship to the Orkneys; there she stayed a little while, and there she married off Gro, the daughter of Thorstein the Red.
After that Unn steered her ship to the Faroe Isles, and stayed there for some time. There she married off another daughter of Thorstein,named Olof, and from her sprung the noblest race of that land, who are called the Gate-Beards.
Unn now got ready to go away from the Faroe Isles, and made it known to her shipmates that she was going to Iceland. She had with her Olaf “Feilan,” the son of Thorstein, and those of his sisters who were unmarried. After that she put to sea, and, the weather being favourable, she came with her ship to the south of Iceland to Pumice-Course Vikrarskeid. There they had their ship broken into splinters, but all the men and goods were saved. After that she went to lsxdaela Helgi, her brother, followed by twenty men; and when she came there he went out to swga her, and bade her come stay with him with ten of her folk.
She answered in anger, and said she had not known that he was such a churl; and she went away, being minded to find Bjorn, her brother in Broadfirth, and when he heard she was coming, he went to meet her with many followers, and laxdala her warmly, and invited her and all her followers to stay with him, for he knew his sister’s high-mindedness.
The Laxdale Saga – Icelandic Saga Database
She liked that right well, and thanked him for his lordly behaviour. She stayed there all the winter, and was entertained in the grandest manner, for there was no lack of means, and money was not spared. In the spring she went across Broadfirth, and came to a certain ness, where they ate their mid-day meal, and since that it has been called Daymealness, from whence Middlefell-strand stretches eastward. Then she steered her ship up Hvammsfirth and came to a certain ness, and stayed there a little while.
There Unn lost her comb, so it was afterwards called Combness. Then she went about all the Broadfirth-Dales, and took to her lands as wide as she wanted. After that Unn steered her ship to the head of the bay, and there her high-seat pillars were washed ashore, and then she deemed it was easy to know where she was to take up her abode.
She had a house laxdasla there: Unn gave, at her own cost, the bridal-feast, and let Thorgerd have for her dowry all Salmonriver-Dale; and Koll set up a household there on the south side of the Salmon-river. Koll was a man of the greatest mettle: After that Unn gave to more men parts of her land-take.
He lived at Hordabolstad Hord-Lair-Steadand was a man of the greatest mark, and blessed with noble offspring. They are called the Gilsbecking-race. Unn spoke to her men and said: You all know that I have given the man named Erp, son of Earl Meldun, his freedom, for far away was it from my wish that so high-born a man should bear the name of thrall.
To Sokkolf Unn gave Sokkolfsdale, where he abode to old age. Hundi was the name of one of her freedmen. He was of Scottish kin. To him she gave Hundidale.
Osk was the name of the fourth daughter of Thorstein the Red. She was the mother of Thorstein Swart, the Wise, who found the “Summer eeke.
She was the mother of Alf o’ Dales, and many great men trace back their line of descent to him. From them come all the Reeknessings. Vigdis was the name of the sixth daughter of Thorstein the Red.
From her come the men of Headland of Islefirth. Olaf “Feilan” was the youngest of Thorstein’s children. He was laxvaela tall man and strong, goodly to look at, and a man of the greatest mettle. Unn loved him above all men, and made it known to people that she was minded to settle on Olaf all her belongings at Hvamm after her day. Unn now became very weary with old age, and she called Olaf “Feilan” to her and said: Their wedding was at Hvamm.
Unn spent much money on this feast, for she let be bidden thereto men of high degree wide about from other parts. She invited Bjorn and Helgi “Bjolan,” her brothers, and they came with many followers. The wedding feast was very crowded; lasdaela there did not come nearly so many as Unn had asked, because the Islefirth people had such a long way to come.
Old age fell now fast upon Unn, so that she did not get up till mid-day, laxdael went early to bed. No one did she allow to come to her for advice between the time she went to sleep at night and the time she was aroused, and she was very angry if any one asked how it fared with her strength.
On this day Unn slept somewhat late; yet she was on foot when the guests came, and went to meet them and greeted her kinsfolk and friends with great courtesy, and said they had shown their affection to her in “coming hither from so far, lxdaela I specially name for this Bjorn and Helgi, but I wish to thank you all who are here assembled.
So the tale goes, that Unn was a woman both tall and portly.
She walked at a quick step out along the hall, and people could not help saying to each other how stately the lady was yet. They feasted that laxdaelw till they thought it time to go to bed. But the day after Olaf went to the sleeping bower of Unn, his grandmother, and when he came into the chamber there was Unn sitting up against her pillow, and she was dead.