Sacred Texts  Legends & Sagas  Iceland  Index  Previous  Next 



1.            Praise glory and splendour and honour be to Almighty God, our redeemer and maker, for his manifold mercy and grace, which he bestows on us who dwell on the uttermost edge of the world;  so that after the saying of the masters who so set it in their books, it seems to them as though we were come out of the world.  And yet all the same though it be so, God hath deigned to show us his mercy, especially in that he hath let us come to the knowledge of his blessed name;  and therewith given us strong pillars, the most saintly forerunners of holy Christianity, from whose holiness the whole North shines and beams near and far.  These are, the saint king Olaf, and the exalted Hallvard his kinsman, who adorn Norway with their halidoms;  the worshipful Magnus, the Isle-earl, who brightens the Orkneys with his holiness, to whose honour the aftercoming Saga is put together.  Herewith are the blessed bishops John and Thorlak, who have enlightened Iceland with the exalted shining of their bright worthiness.  By this it may be seen that we are not far off from God's mercy, though we be far off from other peoples in our abode in the world;  and therefore we are bound to pay Him thanks, honour and reverence all the time of our life.

Master Robert, who hath collected and composed the Saga of the holy earl Magnus in Latin, so begins his Prologue as may here be heard.

2.            Each one bringeth such things as he hath means to bring into the tabernacle of God, as a help to mercy for himself.  One gold, others silver, some gemstones, some goats hair and red buckskin;  and such offerings are not to be contemptuously esteemed, for of such is made the covering over the tabernacle of God, to shield it and keep it from wet and sun heat.  These words may be so glossed with few words.  Let every christain man offer to God of the gifts and grants which He hath bestowed on him, what he hath best.  That God's christianity is the tabernacle that Moses made for God's service, denotes its worth as a shelter and support against the onslaughts of his foes.  Gold denotes wit and wisdom;  silver chastity;  gemstones the miracles of holy men;  goatshair the repentance of sins;  red buckskin martyrdom.  Now the man who reads may so make up his mind, that all these offerings hath the holy Magnus offered to his Lord, as the story of his life witnesseth.  Now though the praise of God be not seemly in sinful man's mouth, still it may be profitable and helpful to others;  for we so read that the whole house was filled with the sweetest savour of the ointment and spices of that sinful woman, who in penitence fell down to wash and anoint the Lord's feet.  But after the bad fashion of those men who cultivate others' lands, the neglect their own and let them lie dry, so we begin this story about the life of earl Magnus the saint all the more trustfully and lovingly, and we bestow our toil on such holy and sublime knowledge, because we trust on and thoroughly look for his help to stay and strengthen us to his worship and honour.  Now for that he is a partaker in the kingdom of heaven, and hath entered into the power of the Lord, so is he mighty to obtain all that he willeth.  But for that we are sinful, and for the sake of our wretched life are not able to set others good examples of ourselves, so we show saint Magnus with his fameful life, which all are bound to follow, and take holy patterns from.  Now that we may not make trouble to  our readers by this discourse, for the Lord made short discourses, so we make this story plain with clear words and pure telling, as God hath granted us to discern.

3.            In the days of Harold Sigurd's son king of Norway there ruled as earls over the Orkneys two brothers, Paul and Erlend, sons of earl Thorfinn, who has been the mightiest of all the earls of the Orkneyingers.  He was the son of earl Sigurd, whom king Olaf Tryggvi's son christened and all the folk in the Orkneys.  This Sigurd fell in Brian's battle in Ireland.  The mother of those two Paul and Erlend was Ingibjörg, who was called earlsmother, the daughter of earl Finn Arni's son;  but Harold Sigurd's son had to wife Thora the daughter of Thorberg Arni's son, the mother of Olaf the quiet, and in that way they were second cousins, king Olaf and the aforesaid earls.  Earl Erlend had to wife that woman whose name was Thora, she was Summerled's daughter, the son of Ospak.  The mother of Ospak was Thordis the daughter of Hall of the Side.  Egill was the name of a son of the aforenamed Hall;  his daughter was Thorgerda, the mother of Saint John, bishop of Holar.  The sons of earl Erlend and Thora were these, Saint Magnus and Erling, but their daughters were Gunnhilda and Cecilia.  Kol Kali's son, a liegeman in Norway, afterwards had Gunnhilda to wife;  their son was Rognvald-Kali, who became afterwards earl in the Orkneys;  he is a thoroughly saintly man;  Rognvald-Kali was a sister's son of earl Magnus the Saint.  Earl Paul the brother of Erlend had to wife a daughter of earl Hacon Ivar's son and Ragnhilda the daughter of king Magnus the good, son of the saint-king Olaf.  Paul's son's name was Hacon, who afterwards comes into the story.

4.            Saint Magnus the earl was born in the Orkneys, the most noble of race and the most famous of kindred.  His father Erlend was earl of the Orkneys, a worshipful lord and chief, honoured in power and esteem, as is the wont of those who live mightily on this earth.  His mother Thora was sprung from the most noble chiefs of that land.  But though to many good birth might turn to pride and spoiling of temper, this blessed youth was already in the first offshoot of his childhood bright and learned by the teaching of the Holy Spirit;  for he held to and loved, valued and kept, the highest power of the mind, sweetness of temper and soberness of morals, and the steadiness of honourable habits.  This youth showed himself old in good behaviour, shareless of childish life in his deeds, gladspoken and blithe, gentle in his loving words, and yielding and reasonable in his conduct and in all his doings.  Well mature and self restrained, so that nothing was found in his dealings that might hurt or shock men who beheld him.  He was soon put to school to learn holy writings, and all that other knowledge which men were then most wont to know.  Magnus was docile and obedient, pliant and attentive to his father and mother and his masters;  kind and pleasant to the whole people.  He cared little for loose company and  games like other young men, but rather showed himself of seemly conduct, though he were young in the tale of winters;  because at once was revealed in him the evident gift of the Holy Spirit, which guided him to all good things.

5.            When those brothers, Paul and Erlend, had taken the power in the Orkneys, king Harold Sigurd's son, came from the east from Norway with a mighty host to the Orkney's and left there behind him queen Elizabeth, and Maria and Ingigerda his daughters.  The earls made them ready to go along with the king with a great host, and they held on south for England;  and in that battle which they fought against king Harold Godwin's son, Harold Sigurd's son fell five nights after the feast of St. Matthew in the autumn.  After this battle Olaf the quiet, Harold's son, sailed with the earls that autumn back to the Orkneys.  And that same day and at that hour on which king Harold fell in England, his daughter Maria died a sudden death in the Orkneys;  and it is the saying of men that they both had one life between them.  Olaf the quiet was the winter over in the Orkneys, and he was the dearest friend of the earls his kinsmen, for they were brothers' daughters, Thora the mother of Olaf and Ingibjörg the mother of the earls.  Olaf fared in the spring east to Norway, and there he was taken to be king with his (brother) Magnus.

6.            Those brothers, Paul and Erlend, ruled the Orkneys a long while, and their agreement was a long time good.  But when their sons began to grow up, then Hacon and Erling got to be very overbearing men, but Magnus was the quietest and best behaved of them in every way.  All those kinsmen were tall and strong, and proper men in all things.  Hacon, Paul's son, wished to be ruler over the sons of Erlend, because he thought himself greater by birth than they;  for that he was the daughter's son of earl Hacon, Ivar's son, and Ragnhilda, the daughter of king Magnus the good, as was shown before, and Hacon would have the higher hand in all their dealings.  Then it so fell out, that they could not agree peacefully together, for many men leaned towards the sons of Erlend, and would not let them bear the lower lot there in the isles;  for they were better friends with all the people and more beloved of men;  Hacon harboured many a grudge for this all his life long.  So then there was risk with the earl's sons.  Then their fathers took part in the matter with them, that they should make things up.  Then a meeting was summoned;  and it was soon found out  that each of the earls leaned towards his sons, and they could not agree;  thenceforth arose great discord between those brothers, and they parted as things stood.  Then next after that men came between them to try to make peace, and then a meeting was summoned between them in Hrossey.  At that meeting peace was agreed to between them on these terms, that the isles were shared into halves;  then things stood so for a while.  Hacon Paul's son pressed hard on those men who served Erlend and his sons, so that they thought things could not stand thus, and so it came about again that they became at variance, and marched against one another with a great force.  Havard Gunni's son and other chiefs and friends of the earls then tried to bring about an atonement between them;  but Erlend and his sons would not then take any terms, so that Hacon should be there in the isles.  But for that their friends thought that there was much to answer for if they were at variance, then Hacon fared away out of the isles at once;  and then an atonement was brought about between those brothers by the counsel of good men and true.  Hacon fared first east to Norway to see king Olaf the quiet, that was toward the end of his days;  there he stayed a short while.  Thence he fared east to Sweden to see king Ingi Steinkel's son, and was with him some while well received.  Then christianity was young in Sweden;  there were many men there who went about with witchcraft, and so thought that they would become wiser as to many things which had not yet come to pass.  King Ingi was a good christian, and took great pains in rooting out those bad customs which had long followed heathendom.

7.            When Hacon Paul's son was in Sweden, he had heard say that there in the land was a man who went about with wisdom and spaedom, whether it were by witchcraft or other things.  Hacon had a great longing to find out this man, and to know whether he could be made wise as to his future fate.  Then he fared to look for that man, and found him at last in a woodland district;  there he used to go about to feasts, and told the freemen about their crops and other things which they were curious to know.  But when Hacon found that man, then he asked him how he might come to power or other good luck.  The wizard asks him what manner of man he might be.  He tells him his name and kin, that he was the daughter's son of earl Hacon Ivar's son.  Then answers the wizard:  "Why wilt thou get from me wisdom or sayings?  Knowest thou not that those former kinsmen of thine have had little faith in such like men as I am.  And it may serve thy turn that thou shouldest seek to know thy fate from Olaf the Stout, in Norway, thy kinsman, whom ye set all faith in.  But I rather doubt that he would not have lowly mindedness enought to tell thee what thou art eager to know, or perhaps be not so powerful either as ye say he is."  Hacon answers:  "I will not blame him;  I think it more likely that I may not have worthiness enough to get wisdom from him, than that he should not be able to make me wise, if he would.  But this is why I have come to see thee, because it hath come into my mind that here neither of us twain will need to look down upon the other for the sake of matters of virtue or belief."  That man answers:  "It likes me well that I find that thou dost not think that thou hast all trust where thy kinsmen of yore had faith.  Wonderful it is, too, that those men who strive after such things go about with fasts and wakes, and deem that therefore those things must be granted to them which they are eager to know.  But though ye take such pains, yet are ye all the less wise the more curious ye are to know those things which it is worth your while to know;  but we lay ourselves under no torments, and yet we are always wise as to those things of which our friends think it worth while to know.  Now things will so go with us two that thou shalt get thyself better able to get the truth from me than from king Ingi's priestly teachers, whom he thinks he may put all trust in.  Thou shalt come to me in three nights' space, and then we two will try if I can tell thee any of these things which thou art eager to know."  After that they parted, and Hacon stayed there in those parts.  And when three nights were gone by he fared to meet the wizard.  He was then in a certain house all alone, and drew his breath heavily when he [Hacon] went in, and stroked his brow with his hand, and said it had cost him much ere he became wise of those things which he wished to know beforehand.  Hacon said he was then willing to hear what he had to say.  He then said:  "If thou wilt know thy fate, then is it long to tell about, and about thy life;  for that from thy voyage west to the Orkneys very great tidings will come to pass when everything hath been fulfilled which will follow from it.  And it is my belief that thou wilt come to be sole chief over the Orkneys in the end;  may be that thou wilt think it long.  I trow also that thy offspring will dwell there.  Thou wilt also in thy days let that wickedness be done, which thou must either make atonement for or not to that God in whom thou believest.  But thy footsteps lie further out into the world than I can get to see;  but still I think that thou wilt bring back thy bones here to the northern half of the world.  Now have I told thee those things that I can at this time, but say thou how thou likest thy lot or errand."  Hacon answers:  "A great story is this thou tellest, if it be sooth; but  I think it will go better with me, as it may well be that thou hast not seen all this of a truth."  The spaeman bade him believe as much of it as he chose.  And after that they parted.

And when Hacon had been a short time with king Ingi, then he fared thence to Norway to see king Magnus barelegs his kinsman.  There he learned those tidings from the Orkneys, that earl Erlend and his sons had most of the rule there, and were very much beloved, but earl Paul his father had very little share in the rule.  He thought too that he made out that the Orkneyingers would long little for his coming thither west;  then they had good peace, and feared, if Hacon came, that from him would arise strife and uproar;  and Hacon thought it not unlikely that his kinsmen would hold the realm against him.  He took that counsel to ask from his kinsman king Magnus, that he would put him into his realm in the Orkneys.  Hacon egged king Magnus on much to lead a host to Scotland and Ireland, and after that to England, to avenge there king Harold Sigurd's son.  The king answers:  "That must thou bear in mind, Hacon, if I do this for the sake of thy words, to fare with a host across the sea west, that it shall not take thee unawares though I bore on with a bold claim to those lands which lie there west across the main, and make there no distinction of persons."  But when Hacon heard that he grew cold, and said little more about it;  but king Magnus then made them call out the levies in full numbers of men and ships over all Norway.

8.            Now next after this we must turn back to the holy Magnus the hero of our Saga;  for a little before ye heard how virtuous he was in all his behaviour, and unlike other young men in his growing up.  But for that many turn their customs after those with whom they live, and whosoever toucheth tar is defiled of it;  so when Magnus had come to be about fullgrown of age, placed among grim and wicked men who were illwilled against good habits, unstable in the faith, opposed to right laws, stiff-necked in learning, yielding to evil habits, gainsayers and disobedient to God's commandments;  he seemed for some winters like wicked men, and as a viking with robbers and warriors he lived by robbery and plunder, and stood by at manslaughters along with others.  But it is to be believed that he did this more from the wickedness and egging on of bad men than from his own badness.  Men think it likeliest that Magnus did this at that time when he and Hacon and Erling his kinsmen were all together in the Orkneys, for afterwards no time can be found for it.  About this his behaviour master Robert thus speaks, who has composed the story.

"Ho ho!  I wonder,"  says he, "how unspeakable is the deepness of the riches of godly knowledge and of the Lord's wisdom;  how inexplicable are his decrees, and how inscrutable are his ways to the race of man.  Why did the allruling God allow this his servant to let himself be greedy for robbery and manslaughter, and to be defiled by so manifold sins and misdeeds?  Why did God's goodness suffer his knight and martyr to let himself fall so fearfully, which from the beginning elected to crown him sublimely in heaven?  With joy and gladness God enriched him, and turned his dust into heavenly glory, and gave him everlasting comfort after this world's woe;  the cloak of good fortune and praise after the stripes of the heart.  What is this?  but that which we have seen every day as manifestly as gloriously, that God raises up and makes sons to Abraham out of stones, righteous out of wrong-doers, honest out of sinners, glorious out of mortals --- (stones) smooth and polished, and four-cornered, with four main virtues, that they may be made to fit into the heavenly edifice, as strong and steadfast cornerstones in Jesus Christ our head stone of the corner;  of one mind with him, and of the same temper with everlasting affection and the link of endless love.  For the Lord Jesus is the son of the great builder, who made and makes the world, and all that is therein, and rules it after his will;  and he changes the vessels of his wrath into vessels of mercy, polishing them with the file of the Holy Spirit;  and he receives sinful men into the widest bosom of his pity and mercy, all those who leave off their naughtiness and turn to him with their whole heart.  For it belongs to the great glory and mercy of the Lord that he lets the abundance of his mercy there be shown, where before the great weight of our wretchedness is in the way;  and he tendeth and healeth all the more powerfully when the sickness already more hotly attacks the sick man, and he makes them all whole and holpen who look to him for help.  See at last, how the holy Magnus, though he was entangled in such sins, yet came to leave off those pursuits, and followed his father and brother and the liegemen in the Orkneys."

9.            At that time which we have reached in the story of king Magnus barelegs came from the east out of Norway, with a countless multitude of ships and force of warriors.  Him followed many of his liegemen;  Vidkun Johnson, Sark of Sogn, Kali of Agdir the son of Seabear, and Kol his son, and many other chiefs.  The king meant in this voyage to lay under him and to harry the western lands, England and Ireland, as was before mentioned.  When king Magnus came to the Orkneys, he seized the earls Erlend and Paul, and forced them away from the isles, and sent them east to Norway;  but he set his son Sigurd over the Orkneys, and gave him councillors, for he was not older than nine winters.  King Magnus settled that the sons of the earls should fare with and attend him;  Magnus and Erling the sons of Erlend, and Hacon Paul's son.  Magnus the son of earl Erlend was a tall man of growth, quick and gallant, and strong of body, fair to look on, lighthued, and well-limbed, noble in aspect, and the most courteous in all his behaviour;  him king Magnus made his waiting-swain, and he always served at the king's board.  King Magnus fared out of the Orkneys to the Southern isles, and he won in that voyage all the Southern Isles under his sway, and seized Logman the son of Godred, king of the Southern isles.  Thence he fared south under Wales, and had there a great battle in Anglesea-sound, with two Welch earls, Hugh the stout, and Hugh the proud.  But when men were getting out their weapons, and busked them to battle, then Magnus Erlend's son sat him down in the foreroom, where he was wont to be, and did not arm himself.  The king asked him why he did so.  Saint Magnus answers, "I have here no quarrel with any man, and that is why I will not fight."  "Get away then," says the king, "down under the planks, but do not lie here under the feet of men if thou darest not to fight, for I do not think that faith drives thee to do this."  Magnus the earl's son sat in the same place, and took a psalter, and sung out of it during the battle, but did not shield himself.  This battle was both hard and long.  But at last Hugh the proud fell, but the Welchmen fled, and king Magnus got the victory, but he had lost many good men, and a number were wounded.  Kali Seabear's son had got many and great wounds.  Magnus the son of Erlend had not been wounded in the battle, though he had not shielded himself, and all may see that it was the fairest token that in so thick flights of arrows, and strong showers of shafts, he should not be wounded, though on all sides of him armed men fell.  And now this need not be wondered at, for God has kept him for a greater crown and victory than to fall there.  King Magnus was not moved by aught of these things, and he laid great feud and dislike on Magnus the earl's son for this.  And when saint Magnus saw that it would neither be for his honour nor for his soul's help to be any longer with king Magnus, then he took another counsel for himself to do that which God taught him.

10.       It fell on a night when king Magnus lay off Scotland, that Magnus Erlend's son stole off from the king's ship, and so made up his berth that it seemed as though a man lay there.  But next morning when the king was clad, he asked whether Magnus Erlend's son were sick.  Then enquiry was made for him, and he was missed.  The king made them look for him, and still he was not found.  Then the king let the slot hounds run loose on land.  Magnus, the earl's son had hurt his foot when he was running on land, and the slot-hounds had found the trail at once.  Magnus had taken to the wood, and he had got up into a tree.  The hounds came to the oak, and stood upon their hindlegs round it.  Then Magnus smote one of them with a staff, which he had hold of, but they betook them to flight at once, and laid their tails behind them, and ran off to the ships.  Magnus Erlend's son hid himself in the wood while the king's men hunted for him.  After that he fared up the country, and came forth at the court of Malcolm, the Scot-king, and stayed there awhile, but sometimes he was in Wales with a certain bishop.  That same autumn king Magnus fared back to the Southern isles, and was there the winter over.  That winter Kali Seabear's son breathed his last of his wounds.  Next spring, early, king Magnus fared to the Orkneys.  There he heard of the deaths of the earls out of Norway;  Erlend had died in Drontheim, and was there buried, but Paul at Bergen.  Then king Magnus gave away in marriage Gunnhilda, earl Erlend's daughter, the sister of Saint Magnus, to Kol the son of Kali, as an atonement for the loss of his father, together with great possessions in the Orkneys.  Then Kol became the liegeman of the king;  their son was Rognvald-Kali.  Some men say that Erling, the son of Erlend, brother of Saint Magnus, has fallen in Anglesea-sound, but Snorri Sturluson says he has fallen in Ulster with king Magnus.  For when king Magnus had ruled Norway nine winters, he fared west to Ireland with a great host, and the summer after he fell in Ulster on the feast of Saint Bartholomew.  But Sigurd his son fared straightway out of the Orkneys east to Norway, and was there taken to be king with his brothers Eystein and Olaf.

11.        Now ye heard in the former chapter how Almighty God is ready to have mercy, whose especial goodness is ever to pity and to turn trouble to comfort and help;  and how he kept this his chosen champion from the woes and worry of the world, to reveal to him, and to show him how great things it behoved him to suffer for his name;  and that he who had often stood by at great manslayings, should at last become an offering of the Holy Spirit, and give to God his own blood with life and body.  And that was why he came out of the power of the greedy king as was read before.

When the holy Magnus was in Scotland he learnt the death of earl Erlend his father, and those other tidings which before were written.  And when he had been such time at the court of the Scot-king as liked him, honoured of the king with gifts and noble company, he fared to Caithness, and was there worthily received of all, kept and cared for, and at once chosen and honoured with the title "earl," beloved and worshipful to all the friends of God.

12.        And next to that without tarrying the saint earl Magnus became Paul out of Saul, a preacher out of a manslayer, and he avenged it on himself that he had lived an ill life.  He fell to weeping himself dead to sin with daily wailing and steadfast remorse;  and he now took fitting vengeance in manifold penance on the sinful lusts of his wretched flesh.  Then he seemed to become a new man, who is changed into what is honourable to God;  and he turned into another man, into a good from a bad man, into a sober from a sinful, into a saint from a sinner, into a blessed and pure man from a defiled man.  This is the conversion of thy right hand, Almighty God.  Thou art strong to strengthen, gracious to help, ready to better, excellent to keep.  In this wise was the holy Magnus changed into a saintly man.  He began to ear the earth of his heart with the sharp share of confession.  Then he slew his unlucky adversary and hid him under the sand.  Then he buried Laban's idols under the treeroots.  He tore up out of himself sins and defilements, and clad him in sublime strength in godly desires with manful steadfastness.  Then he began to wax as an olivetree, and was uplifted in all good things and worthy works.  Just as the cypress is above other trees, so waxed the holy Magnus, that he might be as "magnus," that is "great,"  in godliness, as he was in name, uprising in good fortune and holiness.

13.        One winter or two after the fall of king Magnus barelegs, Hacon Paul's son came from the west across the sea to Norway, and the king gave him the title of earl and such power as his birth might claim.  Then he fared west over the sea, and took under him all the realm in the Orkneys with so much greed and aggression that he slew the guiltless steward of the king of Norway, who held and looked after that half of the isles which Saint Magnus owned, and in that way laid under him all the Orkneys with violence;  for half the isles fell to Saint Magnus by inheritance from his father.  Now when Saint Magnus heard of such tumult, that his first cousin Hacon was taking under him his inheritance with open wrong, he held counsel with his men what should be done.  It was agreed with them that he shall bide for a time till the wrath and greed of his kinsman Hacon were soothed, and that it should not be shown that he sought his inheritance after warriors' wise, but rather as the friend and dear lover of law and justice.

14.        But when that time is come that Saint Magnus will seek his heritage, then he fares with a goodly company from Caithness to the Orkneys, and friends and kinsmen are alike glad to see him.  Then he begged to take his father's heritage.  That was well pleasing to the freemen, for he was blessed with many friends;  he had many kinsmen and connexions who were ready to support him to power.  His mother Thora was then married to that man whose name was Sigurd, they had a great homestead in Paplay.  When earl Hacon heard that Magnus was come into the isles, he gathered force to him, and would not give up the realm, but rather defend it.  Then the friends of both came between them and tried to reconcile them.  Then it so came about by the help of good men and true, that it was agreed that earl Hacon sould give up half the realm, if that were the award of the kings of Norway.  Then Magnus Erlend's son fared at once east to Norway to seek king Eystein, for king Sigurd had then set out for Jewry.  King Eystein received lord Magnus excellently well, and gave up to him his father's inheritance, half the Orkneys, and with that he took the title of earl from the king, together with the most honourable gifts.  And after that lord Magnus the earl fared west over the sea to his realm;  and his friends and kinsfolk, and along with them all the people were fain of him.  Then the kinship of Hacon and Magnus was very close many winters, so long as their friends took part in it.  There was then peace and plenty in the Orkneys while their friendship lasted.  Those kinsmen, lord Magnus the earl and Hacon, had both together the wardship of the land for some while, so that they were well agreed.  It is so said in those songs which have been made on them, that they fought with that viking who harried their realm, whose name was Dufnjal;  he was one degree further off than the earl's first cousin, and he fell before them.  Thorbjorn was the name of a man mighty and noble for family's sake, but poor in good works, whom they cut off in Burrafirth in Shetland for good cause.  And again they wrought many tidings which the songs point to, that they shared both together, though we cannot speak plainly of them.  These things Saint Magnus hath done not as a viking or robber, but rather as lawful ruler of the realm and a keeper of the laws, the lover of peace, to restrain bad customs of men and to chastise wrongdoing, to free and relieve his subjects and his realm from the pride and onslaughts of wicked men, who aye lay in wait to spoil the peace.

15.        Lord Magnus was the most famous man in his chieftainship, of good habits and counsel, a fast friend and bold in fight, well skilled in arms, and victorious in battle, meek-tempered in peace, and yet fit to rule, humble in speech and merciful, a sage in wit, and having the praise of every one.  He was generous of money, and open-handed to chiefs, he gave daily great help to poor men for God's love.  He chastised much plunder and stealing, he let vikings and ill-doers be slain, as well powerful as poor.  He was not given to side with his friends in his judgments;  he set more store by God's law than the distinctions of rank.  In all things he kept firmly God's commandments, and was unsparing towards himself.  Many and famous were his virtues which he showed to God himself but hid from men.

But for that the earl Saint Magnus had rule and government over worldly folk, so he would be like worldly chiefs in the customs of this life;  he took and betrothed unto himself a high-born lady and the purest maid of the noblest stock of Scotland's chiefs, and brought her home to him, and entered into wedlock with her.  This the blessed Magnus did, as it was proved, by the deep-set plan of godly mercy, for the sake of damping the lusts of his body, for he was holpen by godly mercy, for the sake of damping the blithe temptations of this world, rather than to fulfil the lusts of his body, for he was holpen by godly guardianship and heavenly power.  He abode ten winters by this maid pure and thoroughly lotless of all sins of defilement.  But when he felt temptation coming on him to bodily lusts, then he went into cold water and prayed for help from God.

16.        See here the stout champion of God in daily strife, how wondrously he lived with this maiden so long time.  For that, though he might lawfully take pleasure with her, he would rather, stayed by the mercy of God, choose the better lot to live unspoilt, than to fulfil lawful wedlock;  for they suffer the burning passions of the body who follow such things.  Because it is better and more steadfast to keep flowers safe, than to cure those which are already spoilt;  for no wound is as well healed as that flesh which has been kept whole.  But to live in the body without the body's lusts, is not of man's power, but rather of God's gift.  But what temptation and suffering he bore from the heat of the body, what heavy shafts of unlawful feeling, and in what hard strife he overcame and steadied the strong desires of glowing flesh, he knows who tries, but he that is untried doubts.  See my dearest!  this is that great sight which Moses saw, that bush blazing and not burning;  that is so to be understood, this young man tempted but not overcome.  But for that the apostle Paul so says that no one is crowned save he lawfully strives and manfully works for it, so this courtly chief and warlike knight chose thy courts, ["Thy courts" i.e. "God's courts."] to suffer daily strife, and the constant battle of the burning flesh.  And he fought stoutly and conquered luckily, for it seemed to him that he will be too much a carpet knight who will first have the glory ere he accomplishes some doughty deed;  for might is the way to glory and false is that fairness which holy strength does not bring forth.  And I wonder, says the scripture, how fair and desirable is pure begetting with its brightness and loveliness.  This the exalted knight of God, girt with the belt of chastity, took pains with all the desire of his heart to further and fulfil all kinds of loving works to the honour of his Lord.  For what could he refuse of this world's goods to his God, who gave his own life and body in pledge, and poured out his own blood for God's sake?

17.        Now, for that no man can be Abel, save he who tholes and proves the spite and envy of Cain;  and as the holy Ezekiel dwelt with venomous men, and the righteous Lot was hard pressed of wrongful men;  so the foe of the whole human race waked up temptation, and the heat of persecution on all sides against this knight of God, sowing discord and hatred between brothers and kinsfolk and dear friends, all that he might hinder him, and make those wonders of none effect, which then began to grow with him.  But the branch of the godly vine might be moved, but not cut off;  for as wood floats on water, and is turned over and over by the winds and waves, but sinks not, and just as "the Wain" [i.e., 'Charles' Wain," the Bear, the well-known constellation.] turns round in the heaven, but never sets;  as gold is purified in the furnace, and burns not;  and as a strong house is shaken of the storm and falls not:  after that wise was the will and heart of this famous martyr strong and steadfast, unshaken and fearless amid the hot onslaughts and onset of manifold temptation, in the midst of storms and great breakers of hidden envy and guile, as well as of open wickedness and ill-will, against the shafts of the tempting foe. --- Next after this it must be shown in what wise this discord came about between the earls.

18.        When those kinsmen, Saint Magnus and earl Hacon, had ruled the land some winters with peace and good agreement, then that fell about which can often happen, that ill-willing men set themselves to spoil their kinship.  Then wicked men gathered themselves around earl Hacon, for those kinsmen were very unlike in temper.  The lord earl Magnus was good-hearted and trusty in his promises;  he wished to hold the power that God had given him, and coveted naught beyond.  For in what wise could he be proved to be greedy of other men's power or property, who was so free of his own body, that he spared not his own life for the love of God?  He schooled and taught his subjects to right conduct, so that after he had freed and saved his realm from the onslaughts of wicked vikings, he allowed none of his men to go on warfare, and sternly restrained all lawlessness and wickedness.  But earl Hacon was hard-hearted and grim, greedy both of money and power, and more prone to egg on his men to warfare than to hinder them;  but wickedness and ill-doing he punished little.  He was very envious at the friendships and lordliness of saint Magnus;  Hacon would willingly, with the greediness of his bad counsellors, hinder the honour of earl Magnus, and lay under him his realm by wrong and robbery, and Hacon began with his men to plot against his life with guileful schemes.

19.        Now when the blessed Magnus has become thoroughly aware of this by many proofs, which he thinks cannot be hidden, that Hacon wished to get at his life and realm, then he took counsel with his advisers, and it seemed good to him to yield for a while to the envy and wrath of Hacon.  He chose then out of his men those who were choicest and best fitted to follow him, and sailed to England and sought a meeting with king Henry son of William the bastard, who at that time was absolute king over England.  When saint Magnus was come to this king, then he laid bare to him all the story and cause of his coming thither.  And the king received him with great worship.  And he rose up into such great friendship with the king, that he kept him and all his band at his own cost a whole twelvemonth nobly, as it beseemed a king to treat a noble duke.  But this holy martyr kept himself and his followers so wisely that he was ware of and set his face against all fellowship with wicked men.  And when the lord king skilled of his wisdom how earl Magnus was a doer of good works and of honourable habits, and that the Holy Spirit abode in him, then he listened willingly to his counsels, and had his foresight in his undertakings;  for he was sound and safe in his discourse and counsels, blithe-hearted and long-suffering like Chusi, merry and loveable like Jonathan, a righteous zealot for the law like Phineas.  He was so dear and so beloved by all, so pleasant and popular, that there were many who so spoke:  "Blessed are they that saw thee, and who flourished in thy friendship."  He was gladsome and of good will towards great men, open-handed and liberal towards the poor, good-tempered and good-hearted and lowly-minded to all the people.  And though he took his place at the court with wordly chiefs, still he was beware of and set his face against all kinds of lust, which spoil the habits of courtiers.  And that he might not for the future fleck his chastity by consorting with other men's sins, he made ready to return home, as soon as those twelve months were past, which he had spent with king Henry.  May be that God had revealed to him that he should close his toils within a short time, and so offer to God the pure flower of his chastity, by the triumphant death of his martyrdom.  For to be set free from the body, and live with Christ, is far more glorious than to be here in the defilement of this world.

20.       After that Saint Magnus had taken leave of king Henry, honoured and esteemed with rich gifts of many kinds, reverenced of the lord king, then they parted with the greatest love and friendship.  Then he first visited all those holy shrines which were in the neighbourhood, and afterwards fared home to his own land.  But during that time when the holy Magnus was abroad, earl Hacon laid under his rule with great greed and warfare not only all the Orkneys, but all Caithness as well, with robbery and wantoness;  whence it came about that Hacon sat at that time in Caithness when the holy earl Magnus landed in the Orkneys with five ships well manned with bold and well-armed men, meaning to get back his realm, albeit with no wrong greed of this world's honour or of property which did not belong to him;  least of all when he had already so long yearned for God, and was with the whole joy of his heart taken up from the greed of mortal things into the desire of eternal joys;  and so he came now in a little while to close his lifetime all the more worthily as he went sooner away.  These tidings of his homecoming were soon heard on all sides.  Earl Hacon eftsoons awakening as a grim she-bear robbed of her cubs, gathering together and summoning to him the sons of Belial, wicked ill-doers, and sons of the bad Dohet, who aye and aye wrought evil from the day they were born of their mother's womb.  Hacon then meant to come unawares upon the holy Magnus, to work out and fulfil there and then his evil greed and the treachery which he already long had kept harboured in his heart.  But the highest Heaven-king, who from the everlasting beginning determined that he would keep that his glorious chosen vessel among his treasures, saw in his chosen man still some rust of worldly behaviour that was to be cleansed away.  For the God would that he should be cleansed and purified within a few days with the fire of suffering and insult, and with the frost of temptation and much opposition, though there were no mortal sins to wash off him.  Then would God increase his worthiness if aught were lacking in it, that in the same proportion as his temptation and struggle were more and harder so the glory and bliss of the conqueror should be higher and more sublime.  For that, it so came about that the earls sent with messages between them for peace and atonement their  most trusty counsellors, who rightly betoken Chusi and Ahitophel, who brought about the atonement between king David and Absolom his son when they had fallen out.  So at last this matter, by the intervention of good men, was so settled, that there an atonement was formed between those kinsmen in this wise, that the earldom of the Orkneys, Caithness, and Shetland should be equally divided between earls Magnus and Hacon;  neither of them was to attack the other's realm with any greed.  When this agreement had been settled and strengthened with oaths and hansels, then the earls met with the kiss of peace.  But what saint Magnus thought to be peace, that Hacon turned to guile and plotting;  and the longer he kept down the venom of his badness, the more basely he spewed it up;  for his badness and villainy came forth with great force at the time when he could no longer hide it.  In the same way as boils on the face give a man by so much the more pain as they be longer hidden in it, so fares it with all kinds of badness;  the longer it festers in heart and mind, the grimmer it grows to do harm.

21.        The holy Magnus then began again to rule his realm with peace and joy for some time, and that is most in God's sight how holily he lived in this biding-tide of his death;  how he clothed himself with sublime force, and in forwarding all kinds of virtue, in prayers and shedding of tears, and in repentance of heart, in chastity and soberness, in almsgiving and all goodness towards his subjects, in almsgiving and all goddness towards his subjects, in penance and manifold sufferings which he bore on his body, and many more other good deeds than sinful man can call to mind.  In the way in which God's saints do, in that way saint Magnus made him ready for his martyrdom, the telling of which we will next after this begin by God's will.

22.       When the aforesaid atonement and peace had been kept between the earls for some winters, then Hacon showed himself a traitor, pouring forth out of his breast great wrongfulness, which he had up to that time held back.  Hearken how sooth is the judgment of the old poet so saying: ---- "Nulla fides regni sociis, omnisque potestas  Inpatiens consortis erit, totum sitit illa."  Which says this:  "Never can fellowship in this world's power be safe, for all rulers can bear no rivals, and will alone have all."  By this ye may skill what kind of fruit guile brings forth, and what growths spring up of greed.  All sins come of covetousness, and all unlawful desires proceed from greediness.  That was proved with Ahab the most wrongful king, who persecuted Elias the prophet.  That was shown by the most wicked Judas, who sold our Lord for a price.  The very same showed the traitor earl Hacon, both by examples and plain proofs in that treachery by which he beguiled his kinsman earl Magnus who trusted in him, though the events which led to their dealings and quarrel happened in sundry ways.

23.       Two men were they with earl Hacon who are named as having been the worst of all in going between those kinsmen;  the one's name was Sigurd, and the other Sighvat sock.  Sigurd had a brother hight Thorstein, who was the doughtiest follower of earl Magnus.  There were many others who had a bad share in those matters, and these were all with Hacon, for saint Magnus would not keep any backbiters in his following.  These backbitings came to such a length that the earls drew force together and fared each against the other with a very great company.  They both held on for Hrossey, for that was the place of meeting of the Orkneyingers.  But when they came thither, then either side drew them up in array and busked them to battle.  Then there had come together there all the great men with the earls, and many were friends of both, who did all they could to set them at one, and went between them with manliness and good will.  This meeting was in Lent.  But for that many men their well wishers took part in hindering difficulties between them, but would stand by neither to do the other a mischief, then they bound this their agreement with oaths and handsels, at the witness of the best men.  It was so settled that they should meet in the spring at Egelsha (Egils-ey) after Easter.  At this meeting each of the earls was to have two ships, and just as many men as the other.  Both the earls bound that with oaths to have and to hold those terms of agreement which the best men should settle to utter between them at that meeting.  And when this had been done each fared back to his home again.  This preliminary of agreement and concord liked the holy Magnus right well, as he was thoroughly whole-hearted and of good conscience without all mistrust.  But earl Hacon at this meeting had veiled his treachery and covered it with the cloud of falsehood;  for he had made this agreement with guile and treachery and full deceit, as was afterwards proved;  for at that time Hacon and his band, who are rightly called the treasury of hidden wickedness, together with his unworthy thralls, had conspired together in the counsel of their badness for the death and murder of the holy Magnus.  For that all evil is mighty and right dear to shameful company, they determine among themselves that this mischief shall now no longer be put off, and that now they will thoroughly slake their cruel thirst in the out-shedding of innocent blood.  But the highest Lord of all power took care for his dear friend and chosen martyr that, as at that time ready for the kingdom of heaven, he should be taken out of this life under the heavy flail of sharp death.  As the grapes in the winepress by being trodden on and crushed give off the purest wine in their season with great fragrance and sweet savour;  so gave this the glorious martyr of God by reason of his death to all the friends of God and his own, the heavenly sweetness of godly mercy, from that glory and bliss which he hath obtained in the endless joy of everlasting life with God and his saints.

24.       As soon as the holy time of Easter day was over, then each side made them ready to this meeting in unlike wise.  The holy Magnus summoned to him all those men whom he knew had the best good-will to do a good turn to those kinsmen.  He had two longships manned with the bravest men, just as many as were agreed on, and when he was boun he held on for Egelsha.  But as they were rowing in still water and calm weather, then there rose a billow close to the ship in which the earl Magnus was, and broke over the ship where the earl sat.  The chief men on board the ship of earl Magnus hight thus:  Thorstein, of whom we spoke before, Arnkell, Grim, and Gilli, and many other doughty men.  They wondered much at the hap that a billow fell on them in a calm where no man had ever known a billow to fall before, and where the water under was deep.  Then saint Magnus said:  "It is not strange though ye wonder at this, but my thought is, that this hap is a foreboding of my life's end;  may be that may happen here which was before spaed, that earl Paul's son would work the greatest wickedness;  may be that Hacon is plotting treachery against us at this meeting."  The men of earl Magnus were much afraid at these words, when he said he had so short hope as to his life's end, and bade him to shelter himself and be wary of his life, and not go on trusting in earl Hacon.  Saint Magnus answers:  "I will of a surety fare to this meeting as hath been agreed on, and bring no reproach that I have broken my word on me for the sake of my foreboding alone.  And may all be done after God's will as to our voyage.  But if I may have any choice, then I would much rather thole wrong than do wrong to another man.  So may God let my kinsman Hacon get forgiveness though he may do wrong to me."

Now we must tell of earl Hacon that he summoned to him a great band of warriors.  He had seven or eight warships all large, filled with men;  all that company were well boun as though they were running out to battle.  But when the force came together, the earl made it clear to his men that that meeting should so settle matters between earl Magnus and him that they should not thenceforth both of them be over the realm.  Many of the earl's men, who might soothly be called the sons of the Devil, showed themselves well pleased at this purpose, and added to it many fearful words;  but they, Sigurd and Sighvat sock, were then still among the worst in utterance, who aye and aye were egging on to ill.  Then men fell to rowing hard, and they fared hotly and furiously.  Havard Gunni's son, of whom we spoke before, ws then with earl Hacon, he was a dear friend of both earls, Hacon had hidden this bad counsel from Havard.  But as soon as ever he was aware of it, then he leaped overboard from the earl's ship and swam to an isle where no man dwelt, for he would not be a partner in any treachery with Hacon against the holy Magnus.  That man was with earl Magnus who hight Holdbodi, a truth-telling householder out of the Southern isles, he was one of the dearest of earl Magnus' followers;  he was then hard by at all these tidings, and has afterwards told most fully about all that befell and all the discourse between earl Hacon and earl Magnus, as may now be heard next after this.

25.       Earl Magnus the saint came to Egelsha with his men sooner than earl Hacon.  And when they saw Hacon's eight warships then earl Magnus thought he knew that foul play must be meant, and all men who had any clear-sightedness, wondered how such a number of armed men could be wanted for any peaceful purpose.  Would be revealed, then he went up on the isle to the church to prayer;  and was there the night, not for dread or fear's sake, but rather to commit to God all his case.  The men of earl Magnus offered to defend him and to fight against earl Hacon, but he answered so:  "I will not lay your life in peril for me, and if peace cannot be set between us two kinsmen, then God's will be done;  for I will rather thole hurt and treachery than use them against others."  For this noble martyr, saying these things, well knew that all guile and deceit recoil on him who does them.  Now his men thought that came sooth which he had before said about the treachery of Hacon.  But for that earl Magnus knew beforehand as to the duration of his life, whether it were of his own wit or of godly foreshowing, so he would not fly or fare far from the meeting of his foes, and he sought not the holy church for other sake than that of faith.  Earl Magnus was awake long in prayer through the night, and took heed for his soul's help and prayed for it carefully;  he confided all his business and his own self into God's hand.  Next morning he made them sing him mass, and in that mass he received the Lord's Body.  And this his deed was needed for the highest proof, that on that spot he should become the sacrifice of God, as the helpful sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ's body and blood was offered up for the good of the whole world.  But earl Hacon, who at that time was banished from all fear and love of God, dishonouring the privileges of the Church, was not afraid to go into the holy church violating thus her peace and freedom, so that he showed his wickedness all the more grimly that he did it in a holier place.  For ever is sin increased by ill deeds and evil by badness;  and the sinner, when he comes into the deep of sins, throws off all fear of God, and the more he is wont to sin, the more bold he gets, and the less he cares what ill he doeth, for then he thinks it little worth however great his misdeeds may be.  That same morning that earl Hacon had come up on the isle with his evildoers, he sent four of his men, the worst of his servants, who were most cruel and readiest to evil deeds, to seize earl Magnus wherever he might be.  These four, who may rather be called for their cruelty the most harmful wolves than reasonable men, ever thirsting for the outshedding of blood, rushed into the church just about the end of the mass.  They snatched at once earl Magnus the saint with great violence, noise, and tumult out of the peace and bosom of holy church, as the gentlest sheep out of the sheep-fold.  The holy one was holden of sinful thralls, the righteous one was bound and dragged wrongfully by wrong-doers, and led in that way before the covetous judge earl Hacon.  But this the strong champion of God showed so much steadfastness in all these sufferings, that his body neither quaked for fear, nor his heart for dread or grief, for he left this thorny world with all its fruitless flowers.  He looked that God would recompence to him his long-suffering with an unspeakable crown;  but their cruelty and fury with endless pangs in the hot fire of hell, for such unmanly evil and monstrous covetousness.  He was as glad and merry when they laid hands on him as if he were bidden to a banquet, and with such steadfast heart and soul that he neither spoke to his adversaries with any bitterness, wrath, or broken voice.

26.       When earl Magnus the saint was come before earl Hacon, he spoke with much steadfastness to Hacon.  "Thou dost not well, kinsman," says he, "that thou holdest not thy oaths, and it is much to be looked for that thou hast done this more by the ill will of others and their egging on, than of thy own badness.  Now I will offer thee three choices, that thou may'st take one of them rather than that thou shouldst spoil thy oaths, and let me be slain thy kinsman, and guiltless as some will say."  Earl Hacon said, "I will first hear then what thou offerest."  Saint Magnus says, "This is the first choice, that I shall fare away out of the land to Rome, or right out to Jerusalem, to seek holy places, and so make amends for both of us twain;  I shall have two ships out of the land manned with good men, and those necessaries which we need to have.  I shall swear never to come to the Orkneys afterwards."  That choice was quickly refused by Hacon and his men.  Then said saint Magnus:  "Now for that our life is in your power, but I know that I have been guilty in many things against all-ruling God, and that I therefore need to make amends:  then send me up into Scotland to the friends of both of us, and let me be kept in ward there with two men for a passtime to me;  and see thou so to it that I may never come out of that wardship without thy leave."  To this they said "Nay" quickly, and found many reasons why it might not be.  Then this steadfast knight said, "I am in a great strait about the choice," says he.  "Now is that one alone left, which I will offer thee;  and God knows that about this I look rather to the salvation of thy soul than to the life of my body;  for after all it beseems thee less to quench my life.  Let me be maimed in my limbs, or let my eyes be plucked out, and so set me in a dark dungeon from which I may never come out."  Then said earl Hacon, "This atonement I take, nor do I ask for aught more."  Then earl Hacon's men jumped up and said To this we will not agree, to torture earl Magnus;  but we will slay either one of you twain;  and ye two shall not from this day forth both rule the lands."  Then says earl Hacon, "I will rather rule the lands than die quickly, if ye are so stern in this matter." --- So said Holdbodi of their parley.  After that saint Magnus fell to prayers, and looked into the palms of his hands, and poured out many tears in God's eyesight, giving his cause, his life, and himself into the Lord's power.

27.        Next to this, when the holy friend of God, earl Magnus, was done and doomed to death, then earl Hacon bade Ofeig his banner-bearer to slay earl Magnus;  but he said "Nay" with the greatest wrath.  Then earl Hacon forced his cook, whose name was Lifolf, to kill earl Magnus, but he began to weep with a loud voice.  Then earl Magnus the saint spoke and said to him, "Thou shalt not weep,"  says he, "for there is fame for thee in doing such deeds.  Be thou of steadfast heart, for thou shalt have my clothes, as is the wont and law of the men of old.  Thou shalt not be afraid, for thou doest this by force, and he that forces thee to do it hath greater sin than thou."  But when he had said this, then he stripped off him his kirtle, and gave it to Lifolf.  After that the blessed earl Magnus asked leave to say his prayers, and it was granted him.  Then he fell flat on the earth and gave himself over into God's power, bringing himself to Him as an offering.  Nor did he pray for himself alone, but rather for his foes and banemen as well, and he forgave them from all his heart what they had misdone towards him;  and he confessed to God all his offences, and prayed that they might all be washed off him by the outshedding of his blood;  and he commended his soul into God's hand, praying God's angels to come to meet it, and bear it into the rest of Paradise.  Then, when this famous martyr of God had ended his prayers, he said to Lifolf, "Stand thou before me, and hew me on the head a great wound, for it beseems not to behead chiefs like thieves.  Strengthen thee, man, and weep not, for I have prayed God that he will pardon thee."  After that earl Magnus signed himself with the cross, and bowed him to the stroke.  But Lifolf hewed him on the head a great blow with an axe.  Then earl Hacon said, "Hew thou a second time."  Then Lifolf hewed into the same wound.  Then saint Magnus the earl fell on his knees, and fared with this martyrdom from the wretchedness of this world to the everlasting bliss of the kingdom of heaven.  And this man whom the man-slayer took out of the world, All-ruling God let rule with him in heaven.  His body fell to earth, but his soul was loftily lifted up to the heavenly glory of the angels.  That spot on which saint Magnus was smitten with stony and mossy;  but a little after his worthiness towards God was revealed, so that since there is there a green field, fair and smooth;  and God showed by this token that earl Magnus was slain for righteousness sake, and that he had gotten the fairness and greenness of Paradise on the land of the living.  The death-day of earl Magnus the saint is two nights after the feast of Tiburtius and Valerianus;  it was on the second day of the week that the worthy earl Magnus was slain, three weeks after Lady Day [Lady Day, 25th of March, and St. Magnus' Day, April 16th.] in Lent.  He had then been twelve winters earl with Hacon.  Then were kings in Norway Sigurd Jewry-farer, and his brothers Eystein and Olaf.  Then had passed since the fall of saint Olaf Harold's son seventy-four [The figures are wrong both in the Orkneyingers Saga and here.  They should be eighty-six.] winters.  That was in the days of Pope Pascal the second of that name, and of St. John bishop of Holar in Iceland."  To the honour of earl Magnus the saint, Master Robert who has written the story in Latin so speaks:

28.       "This day is revealed to us, dearest brethren, the death day of the blessed earl Magnus the Martyr, his day of rest and everlasting bliss.  Let us be glad and joyful on this high day, for that he craves solemn good-will and special honour of us, who dwell by his halidom [From this it appears that Master Robert, who preached the sermon on the day of the Saint's martyrdom, was an Orkneyinger.] and under his patronage and safe-keeping;  and let us look towards his worthiness.  For that because of his sublime example and holy life, first bloomed in the reagion of the realm of the Orkneys the fairest dispensations of pure good will, and from the holiest decrees of this gloryful martyr sprung manifold increase of the most seemly virtue.  He drove away the throne of the lordship of the Devil out of the northern airt of the world, and established in its stead the tabernacle of Almighty God.  He withered and uprooted all ill weeds with his preaching, but let grow up the fairest flowers and the sweetest corn crop of the most helpsome growth.  He turned all the bitterness of the Orkneys into the seemliness and sweetness of holy habits.  Today he conquered the world and the world's lords, and he ascended a noble victor over the world, taking from his holy master, our Lord Jesus Christ, a crown of glory.  Today he was parted from all the weight of bodily weakness, faring through the heavens, and he entered into bliss, having become like to holy men in all glory.  Today he threw off the worldly garb of this changeful life, uprising higher than human weakness may reckon;  and to him for that is granted heavenly worship, honour and bliss before the eyes of all the Saints.  He ascended in truth bright in worthiness, mighty in perfect blessedness, gloriful from the most seemly victory.  This the exalted martyr of God, the blessed earl Magnus, adorned with the crown of his own blood, was tortured when there had passed from the incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ one thousand one hundred and four years, [It should be sixteen.] on a Monday, the sixteenth of the kalends of the month of May.  Now, my dearest, let us cast away bodily lusts, and keep us from the love of unlawful things, conquering and rising above the attacks of blasphemy;  but let us follow the footsteps and life of this the glorious martyr with all the strength of our minds, so far as our feebleness may bring us.  Let us follow the ways of his life;  let us hold to the pattern of his works, let us strive to be like his life, though it be every day revealed and made plain --- by wondrous miracles and great and glorious tokens, which Almighty God grants to the Northern region for his noble intercession and famous worthiness, both on sea and land, --- that his life and holy virtue is rather more praiseworthy and wonderful than possible to be imitated by our weakness.  He appeared on earth that he might became our guardian and intercessor for help and mercy with Almighty God.  For this it beseems us who are weighed down with the great load of our sins ever to pay him worship with the special devotion of bounden obedience and honour, that this the exalted martyr earl Magnus may deign to beseech for us with his worthiness and prayers that we may attain to be partakers of the heavenly crown and everlasting glory, which he obtained on the day of his martyrdom.  May Our Lord Jesus Christ grant us this, who is honour and bliss, help and health, gladness and glory of all his saints and righteous men;  who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth one God in three persons world without end.  Amen."  Master Robert wrote this story in Latin to the worship and honour of saint Magnus the isle-earl, when twenty winters [It is impossible to verify this date, but if it be correct Master Robert must have written his life of St. Magnus in the year 1136.] were passed from his martyrdom.

29.       Now we must take up the story and tell of those things which were done after the death of saint Magnus the earl, that so great was the cruelty and hardness of earl Hacon, and so great his wrath and fury against the blessed Magnus, that he no less envied earl Magnus dead than alive.  And though the fury and grimness of most men can be soothed after an ill deed is done, still neither ill will nor envy was soothed or sated in the heart of Hacon, for he forbids that earl Magnus should be buried at the church like Christian men, but rather that he should be there hidden in the ground where he was slain.

30.       It had been settled at the former meeting of the earls in Hrossey, that when their agreement had been fully strengthened and made steadfast after the judgment of the best men, which they had bound with oaths, that both earls, when they fared from the meeting, which had been fixed in Egelsha, should go to a feast in Paplay, to Thora the mother of earl Magnus.  But now after the slaying and death of the earl, then earl Hacon still went to the feast with his men.  There was the best of banquets.  But when drink took hold on earl Hacon, then Thora went to him and said thus: --- "Now art thou alone come here, lord, but I looked for both of you twain, thee and earl Magnus my son.  Now be so with me in my prayer, as thou wilt that all ruling God shall be to thee at doomsday, that thou givest me leave that my son may be buried at church."  Earl Hacon looked towards her and shed tears, and said, "Bury thy son, woman, there where it liketh thee."  Saint Magnus was then brought to church and buried at Birsay in Christchurch, which earl Thorfinn his grandfather had let be built.  Then eftsoons a heavenly light was seen to shine over his grave.  Afterwards men who were placed in peril began to vow to saint Magnus the earl, and their need was granted as they themselves prayed for it.  At the same time a heavenly fragrance was perceived at his grave, and there sick men got their health.  Next to that men made their voyage from the Orkneys and Shetland who were past hope of cure, and watched over his tomb, and all got healing for their hurts;  but still men dared not to spread the miracles of earl Magnus much abroad while earl Hacon lived.  It is is so said of those men who had been worst in going between the earls, and were most in treachery against earl Magnus, that they most of them had quick ends and a short life, and they died an ill death.         After the slaying of of saint Magnus, Hacon Paul's son took under him all the rule in the Orkneys;  he made then all men to take oaths of fealty to him, even those as well who had before served earl Magnus.  Then he became a great chief, and laid heavy burdens on the friends of earl Magnus, whom he thought had been most against him in their dealings.  Some winters after Hacon made him ready for a voyage out of the land;  he fared south to Rome, and in that voyage he fared right out to Jewry, as was then palmers' wont;  there he sought holy places, and bathed him in the river Jordan.  After that he fared back to his own land, and took under him the rule in the Orkneys.  He became then a good governor, and kept his realm well at peace.  He laid down then new laws, which the freemen liked far better than those which had been before.  By such things his friendships began to wax many.  Then it came about that those Orkneyingers desired nothing else than to keep earl Hacon in power in the Orkneys, and his offspring.  And there we make an end of speaking of Hacon in this book.

31.        The most merciful God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bids and leads his friends to everlasting bliss from all the misery of this world, he the same who looses all those who creep with all their heart to his mercy, from all the sins and defilement of this sorrowful world, and makes out of the ignorant the wisest, of low and humble the most famous, of poor the richest, of ignoble the most noble chiefs, not indeed of this world's kingdom, but rather of the kingdom of heaven, and of endless glory, as he did of old by Joseph the patriarch, who was led out of the dark dungeon, and made at once lord and chief of all the realm of Egypt --- he, the same who made David out of a shepherd's lad the highest king over all the tribes of Israel, and led Judas Maccabeus out of the starvation of the wilderness, that he might attain honour and renown in victory, and such great glory that he was thought by far to excel other men;  and Alexander the son of Philip, who was called the Macedonian, for the sake of the hard mastership of Aristotle [Here at least one leaf in the MS. is lost.]  **************** and furnished in all things, as might be most seemly.  Then the lord bishop enshrined the halidom of the blessed earl Magnus with honour and pomp, and the thanksgiving of the whole people;  and then all those were healed who were in despair of health, and needing mercy, who had come thither at that time to his halidom.  Saint Magnus the earl was enshrined on the Feast of Lucy the Virgin, before Yule in the winter.  And that day is worthily kept far and wide, both to saint Magnus and the blessed maid of God Lucy;  but the day of his departure to the kingdom of heaven is in spring.

32.       Now we have gone over, though it be less worthily than should be, the story of the translation, proving, and enshrining of the halidom of the blessed earl Magnus, and no less the law which was passed as to his feast.  And it is to be borne in mind and marked that the Lord God honours his bosom friends with divers privileges for their righteousness, some here at once in this life, but others after life.  But still those prerogatives among saints seem somewhat special and preeminent which belong to Magnus the martyr of God.  This is to be understood thus, that when one of his bones was proved at home in the Orkneys, it turned into the fairest mark of the cross in the eyesight of men who stood by.  Another mark is this, that this very same cross of bone was turned afterwards to the brightest hue of gold before the lord Pope himself in Rome.  Wherefore he takes this the purple martyr into the catalogue of saints;  but that has been granted to few others in the North lands, that he (the Pope) himself has done this.  For this we may behold and wonder, though no man may understand it as it is, how mighty the all ruling God is in the riches and depth of his mercy;  for he grants these gifts of love to some of his friends which he doth not grant to others, and shares them between them in the way that he will;  and never faileth, though he give the gifts of the Holy Spirit to each of them.  Therefore be his name eternally praised and blessed for ever and ever, Amen.

33.       From that time the working of miracles of saint Magnus the earl was noised and spread far and near over all the western lands, and the north region of the world;  and men fared from nearlying lands, burgs, and towns, castles and hundreds, with great hearts and offering hands to seek his halidom;  but some sent money towards his holy shrine as an honour to him, but as a means of healing soul and body for themselves, both in this world and the other.  For that shall here next be told some miracles, though they be few, of the countless ones which God grants for his worthiness.

34.       When goodman Bergfinn from the north of Shetland, who was before named in this matter, [i.e., in the lost leaves.] heard these joyful tidings of the translation of saint Magnus the earl, then he fared a second time from the north of Shetland with his leprous son, whose name was Halfdan, to Kirkwall, and they both watched, that father and son, at the halidom of earl Magnus.  But the saint of God appeared to Halfdan, and passed his hands over his body, and on the spot all leprosy fell off him.  Then he arose as whole.  Saint Magnus the earl also showed himself to goodman Bergfinn in sleep, and said to him, "Now shalt thou take clear sight, for now hast thou fared hither with right faith, and not doubted my holiness, and offered me fair vows, both in prayers and fee-gifts."  Then he made the mark of the cross over Bergfinn's eyes, and he awoke as sharpsighted as when he had been sharpest-sighted, and both father and son fared home whole, praising God and saint Magnus the earl.                                                                                                       Thorkell hight a man who abode in the Orkneys, he fell off his barley-rick and was all lamed on his other side on which he fell on the earth.  He was borne to the saint earl Magnus, and there he got speedy cure of his hurts, in healed broken bones, and strengthened body.  He thanked God and saint Magnus for his healing gift.                                                                                    Amundi Illugi's son hight a man, a goodman north from Shetland, he was leprous and very sick.  He fared to earl Magnus the saint, and watched at his shrine, and begged him for mercy and cure.  But as he slept then Magnus the isle-earl appeared to him, and passed his hands over his body, and gave him healing so speedily that he woke up quite whole;  and he gave thanks to God for his cure, and to the merciful Magnus.                                                                Sigurd Tandri's son hight a man, he abode in Shetland at that farm which is hight the Dale;  he became mad, so that he was sewn up in hide.  This man was brought to saint Magnus the earl, and there he got his wit and full health, and he fared thence quite whole, praising God and the saint earl Magnus.                                                                                                                      Another man hight Sigurd, from the north of Shetland;  he had cramped hands, so that all the fingers lay in the palms.  He sought the halidom of the saint earl Magnus, and there he got his cure with straight and lissom fingers for all his needs.  He thanked God for the mercies which had been shown him for the worthiness of earl Magnus.                                                                There was a man hight Thorbjorn Olaf's son, from the north of Shetland, he was devil-mad and witless.  He was brought to the shrine of St. Magnus the earl, and he became at once whole, and he fared to his own home, praising and blessing God, and this his blissful martyr.                                                 Thord hight a man who was also called "dragonbeak," hireling of the aforesaid goodman Bergfinn.  He thrashed corn in the barley barn the next day before the mass-day of saint Magnus the earl.  But when it was about nones in the day, then Bergfinn bade him to leave off working.  "Tis not very often," said Thord, "that thou thinkest overmuch work is done."  Bergfinn said, "The highday that cometh tomorrow we are bound to keep with all the reverence that we may and can."  Then Bergfinn went away, but Thord worked on as before.  But when a short time was over, then Bergfinn went out the second time, and said to Thord in great wrath,  "It mislikes me very much that thou workest in holy times;  but leave off at once on the spot."  Then the goodman went away very wrath, but Thord worked on as before.  But when men were about full at supper, then in came Thord in workaday clothes, and fell at once to drinking greedily.  And when he had drunk one horn of liquor, then he became mad, so that men had once to throw him into bonds, and he went on so for six days.  Then goodman Bergfinn vowed for him to give a half a mark of silver towards the shrine of saint Magnus the earl, and to let Thord watch there three nights if he became whole.  But Thord got back his health the next night after the vow was made for him;  and all praised the highest King of heaven, and this his worthy bosom friend saint Magnus the earl.                                                                                                 

It is said again that two men broke gold from off the shrine of saint Magnus the earl, one of them was a Caithness man, and the other an Orkneyan.  But that Caithness man was lost and drowned in the Pentland Firth, and his name was Gilli.  But the Orkneyan became mad, and he said in his ravings what they had done.  Then a pilgrimage to Rome was vowed for him if he got whole.  After that he was brought to earl Magnus the saint, and a vow was made for his cure, and he became whole on the spot, and praised God and saint Magnus the earl.                                                                                             

Asmund hight a man.  On his head fell a great log, and crushed his skull, but the oftnamed goodman Bergfinn vowed for him;  and lots were cast whether it should be vowed for him to go on a pilgrimage to Rome, or to give money to the church of Magnus.  But the lot came up that he should seek the halidom of earl Magnus the saint.  Then he got back at once his speech which he had before lost.  After that he fared to saint Magnus the earl, and watched there and got the full cure of his hurts.  But goodman Bergfinn gave earl Magnus half a mark of silver weighed as he had vowed.                         

There was a woman hight Sigrid;  she was daughter of Sigurd of Sand, from the north of Shetland.  She was blind from blate babyhood [i.e., from "tender years."] till she was quite twenty.  Her father carried her south to the Orkneys, and let her watch at the shrine of saint Magnus the earl.  e offered there much money.  Sigrid got there clear sight in both her eyes, and that father and daughter fared thence, blessing and praising God and earl Magnus the saint.                                                                                                

 There was yet another woman hight Sigrid, daughter of Arnfrid, from the north of Shetland, from that farm which is called Unst.  Her leg broke into two bits, and she was carried to saint Magnus the earl, and she got speedy cure, and thanked God and earl Magnus the saint.                                             

Yet a third woman hight Sigrid, from the north of Shetland out of Unst.  She was at board with that householder whose name was Thorlak;  he abode at Bollastede.  Sigrid was sewing about evening before the feast of saint Magnus the earl, after that other men had kept it holy.  Thorlak asked why she worked so long, but she said she was just going to stop.  The goodman went away then, but she sewed as before.  Then came Thorlak the second time to her, and said, "Why dost thou so ill at such a holy time?  Go away now, and work no longer in my house."  She said it was a very little fault, and sewed on as before till it was dark night.  But when men busked them to meat, then Sigrid fell mad, so that she had to be thrown at once into bonds, and was hardly held until Thorlak vowed for her, and cast lots whether she should go to Rome or give goods to saint Magnus the earl.  And that lot came up that she was to go to Kirkwall to the halidom of earl Magnus the saint.  And afterwards she was borne thither, and got there the sublime gift of healing for her loss of wit, and she praised God and his exalted knight earl Magnus;  but still she fared afterwards to Rome for her (soul's) help.           

 Groa hight a woman out of Hrossey;  she was devil mad, and fared to Kirkwall to saint Magnus the earl, and there she got good health, and praised God and the earl saint Magnus.                                                                       

Ragnhild hight a woman;  she was a cripple when she was four winters old, and all up to the time she was twenty.  Then she watched three nights at the halidom of St. Magnus the earl.  And on the third night there appeared to her in her sleep a bright man and a noble and fairly clad, and said to her, "Ever and oft hast thou lain here, great is thy need;  rise thou up now, and be whole, and bear this staff in thy hand."  After that he vanished from her.  But she woke;  then she had hold on the lock that was on the aumbry which was on the other side of the choir of Magnus' (church).  (She) rose up at once quite whole, as though she had never been bent, with straight legs and sinews, praising God and saint Magnus the earl.  She was with the bishop many winters.                                                                                                        

Asa hight a woman;  she had been all her days a cripple, but she got such a sublime cure of her health from the blessed earl Magnus, that she walked to Rome the same summer that she became whole.                                                                    

Gudrun hight a woman;  she was a cripple a long time of her life.  She got quick healing of her hurt and full cure from the worthiness and intercession of earl Magnus the saint, and praised God and his bosom friend earl Magnus.                                                                                                                      

Sigurd hight a man;  he was an almsman from Knotsand.  He was so very weakly that he crawled on his knees, and could not stand upright.  He became quite whole at the shrine of earl Magnus;  he praised God and saint Magnus.                                                                                                                    

Two men from the Southern isles cast dice for silver, and one of them lost a hundred marks;  then all his goods were at an end, save one barge that he had left.  Then he laid the barge against all the goods which he had lost.  Then he threw that had won before two sixes.  The then the other vowed a vow to earl Magnus the saint for help that he might get back his goods.  After that he cast, and there turned up six on one of the dice, but the other split asunder into two bits, and there were seven spots on both the bits together and thirteen on the three, and so he won all his goods.                  

That event happened in Norway in the days of Harold Gilli, that some powerful and high and mighty men laid it against two brothers that they meant to beguile their kinswomen.  But this charge was not sooth.  But for all that those powerful men fell on them and laid hands on them, carrying them to the wood away from other men, and slew him against whom they gave it out that he was most guilty.  After that they took the other, and dealt him many and great tortures with great cruelty, so far that they broke asunder both his legs and his arms too.  After that those cruel men stabbed out both his eyes, therewith cutting the tongue away out of his head, and parting from him in such unmanly wise that they fared away, but he lay there half dead.  Speedily after they were away, many wolves rushed out of the wood, rending and tearing the flesh off the bones of him that lay slain, and after that fairing back into the wood.  But of the wounded one it is to be said that albeit he could not with his tongue pray for mercy, he still bethought him all at once that Almighty God might grant him some help.  Especially he turned his thoughts thither where the earl saint Magnus was, for in that time his miracle-making flourished most of all.  And when he had vowed his vow he became aware that a man has come to him, who passes his hands over his broken legs and arms.  Therewith he takes the stump of the tongue and brings it to its place at last;  afterwards he lays his hands on the eye-sockets.  But with this handling wondrous changes came about;  the eyes were reset with clear sight, the tongue is become useful for all utterance, the broken limbs were healed, and all his former health restored to him.  He sees standing by him a man fair of face, to whom he thus speaks: --- "What is thy name most noble lord?"  The bright man answers, "Here is earl Magnus, but mind well to keep what thou hast vowed to God."  At this he was full of joy, and so speaks the second time: --- "For that, sublime friend of God, that thou hast granted me a great gift of healing.  I pray again of thy mercy that thou beggest life for my brother from God."  After he had so spoken the saint earl Magnus vanished from his sight, answering nothing to the prayer mentioned.  But that man falls forward, and thanks God for the mercy shown him, meaning to abide there in that spot two nights in steadfast prayer to help his brother.  But as time went by he looks around, and sees a flock of many wolves running out of the wood to where the carcase of the departed one lay, and there they spew up all that they had eaten of his flesh and bones, and turn back after that into the wood.  And when a little time is passed he sees saint Magnus come, and he blesses with his right hand the whole mass together, the wolves' spew and the bones.  Next to this the body becomes quite whole by these means.  Saint Magnus blesses the breathless body a second time, for the sake of which he that before was slain rose up whole and living, and goes to his brother.  Then each of them greeted the other, giving thanks to God and to saint Magnus the earl for such ready mercy as was shown them.  So let also all hearing such great works yield manifold praise to the true God who grants such great things to sinful men for the prayers and worthiness of his most beloved bosom friends.





Next: The Short Magnus Saga