Sigurd the Stout

Sigurd the Stout

Sigurd Hlodvisson (circa 960–23 April 1014), popularly known as Sigurd the Stout, was Earl of Orkney. The main source for his life is the "Orkneyinga Saga", written some two centuries after his death.

The "Orkneyinga Saga" reports that Sigurd was the son of Hlodvir, one of the five sons of Thorfinn Skull-Splitter, and Eithne, said to be a daughter of Kjarvalr, King of Ireland—Cerball mac Dúnlainge, King of Osraige, who died in 888. Hlodvir died in his bed and was succeeded as Earl by Sigurd."Orkneyinga Saga", chapter 11.] Ó Corrain, "Viking Ireland - Afterthoughts".]

Sigurd's uncle Ljot had been killed in war against the Scots, and Sigurd soon faced trouble from his southern neighbours. An "Earl Finnleik" led an army against him which outnumbered Sigurd's men by seven to one. The "Saga" famously records Sigurd's mother's reply when he went to her for advice:

I would long have fostered thee in my wool-basket, if I hadknown that thou wouldst live for ever, and fortune decides as to a man's life, and not circumstances. It is better to die with honour than to live with dishonour. Receive a standard whichI have made with my whole knowledge, and I expect it will be victorious to him before whom it is carried, but the bane of him who bears it.

The Raven banner worked as just Sigurd's mother said: he was victorious but the standard-bearer was killed.

According to the 13th century "Njal's Saga", Gormflaith prompted her son, Sigtrygg Silkbeard, into getting Sigurd to fight against her former husband, Brian Ború::"...she sent him to Earl Sigurd to ask for support... Sigtrygg sailed back to Ireland and told his mother that the jarl had joined him."

The 12th century Irish source, the "Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh", records the events of the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. The "foreigners and Leinstermen" were led by Brodir of the Isle of Man and Sigurd, and the battle lasted all day. Though Brian was killed in the battle, the Irishmen ultimately drove back their enemies into the sea, and Sigurd himself was killed. Sigurd left four sons: Brusi, Sumarlidi, Einar and Thorfinn, each of whom would also bear the title "Earl of Orkney".

ee also

* Brian Boru
* Battle of Clontarf
* Irish battles


External links

* [ A History of the Orkneys]
* [ "Njal's Saga"]

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