Erik Bloodaxe

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Erik Bloodaxe (Old Norse: Eiríkr blóðøx, Norwegian: Eirik Blodøks), (c. 895–954), was the second king of Norway (930-934) and the eldest son of his father Harald Fairhair. Once the power was in his hands, he began to quarrel with his other brothers and had four of them killed, including Bjørn Farmann and later Olaf and Sigrød in battle at Tønsberg. A Latin text describes him as fratris interfector (brother-slayer), and the "blood" of his name may well refer to this legend.

In 920, he undertook a Viking expedition to Bjarmaland, in northern Russia. In 930, be began his conquest by sailing down the Dvina River into Russia. There he sacked the small trading port of Permina. In Denmark he was invited to a feast by King Gorm the Old; it was at this feast where he met Gunnhild Kingmother and married her the next night.

Gunnhild had some reputation of being a witch. One account, dismissed by modern historians, described her as living in a hut with two Finnish wizards and learning their magic, and when they quarreled over her favors she set Erik to kill them and then married him. There were also accounts which ascribed to her a part in killing some of her husband's brothers and other enemies by poisoning or raising storms to drown their ships. On occasion, she was reputed to go into prolonged trances in her chamber, and by some accounts she was believed at such times to be able to transform herself into a bird and in that guise cross great distances over land and sea, spy out the movements of hostile armies from the air or listen to the conversations of unsuspecting enemies. Whatever the factual basis for such stories, Erik might have found his wife's fearsome reputation useful.

In the next Spring Erik slaughtered the combined forces of his brothers and regained his throne of Norway.

His youngest brother, Haakon, returned from England and won support from the Norwegian nobles to oust Eric in 934; Eric's rule was hard and despotic, and this would account for the alacrity with which the nobles joined forces to oust him.

After waging unsuccessful campaigns to regain the throne, Eric moved to the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland and later to the Kingdom of Jorvik in Avalon. He was initially met warmly by Athelstan, who made Eric ruler in Northumbria, with a brief to provide a defence against the ravages of the Scots, and the Irish. His rule in Northumbria soon degenerated, however, and he was expelled by the populace and betrayed by the Earl of Bernicia, Osulf, to one Earl Maccus and killed on Stainmore, Westmorland, in 954 along with his son, Haeric.

I wonder why people read fantasy stories.

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