Banners from Literature

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Viking Age Compendium articles on Spears and Banners:
VA from Literature.jpg
Banners from Literature
Viking Age Compendium articles on Spears and Banners:
VA from Literature.jpg
Banners from Literature

This article contains quotes from primary sources that mention banners. It is not complete and additional quotes will be added as discovered.

Also see:
Banners for an overview of Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman banners.

Bede – Ecclesiastical History of the English People, 731AD

"His [King Edwin] dignity was so great throughout his dominions, that not only were his banners borne before him in battle, but even in time of peace, when he rode about his cities, townships, or provinces, with his thegns, the standard-bearer was always wont to go before him. Also, when he walked anywhere along the streets, that sort of banner which the Romans call Tufa, and the English, Thuuf, was in like manner borne before him." [SELLAR 1907]
  • Osthryth, queen of the Mercians
"...that there might be a perpetual memorial of the royal character of this holy man [King Oswald], they hung up over the monument his banner of gold and purple." [SELLAR 1907]

Capitulary of Charles the Bald, 843-877AD

“Let our envoys (missi nostril) see that the troops of every bishop, abbot, and abbess, march forth properly equipped, and with their Gonfalonier (cum Guntfannonario).” [HEWITT 1855]:p.166

Annals of St-Bertin c.882AD

  • 865
"The Northman on the Loire made their way on foot to Poitiers without meeting any resistance, burned the civitas and returned to their ships unscathed. But Robert slew more than 500 of these Northman based on the Loire, without losing any of his own men, and sent to Charles the standards and weapons captured from the Northmen." [NELSON 1991]:p.127
  • 876
"On the 7th October the emperor, having already given his squadrons their orders, got up during the night, and raising the standards, tried to launch a surprise attack on his nephew and those with him,..." [NELSON 1991]:p.196

Annals of Fulda c.900AD

  • 844
Pippin's duces defeated Charles's army on June 7. In this battle fell Hugh the Abbot, Charles material uncle, Abbot Rihboto, Hrabanus the standard-bearer, with many others of the nobility.[REUTER 1992]:p.22
  • 891
"The shouts of the Christians rose to heaven, and the pagans after their fashion shouted no less; terrible battle-standards moved through the camps. Swords were drawn on both sides, and the armies clashed like iron on stone." [REUTER 1992]:p.122

"In that battle two of their kings were killed, that is Sigifrid and Godafrid, and sixteen royal standards were carried off and were sent to Bavaria as a witness." [REUTER 1992]:p.123
  • 894
"As dawn came the King heard mass and then ranged his army around to storm the town. He himself remained at the top of the hill with his battle-standard to give assistance to those attacking the wall." [REUTER 1992]:p.126

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle B, C, D, E (970-1116AD)

  • AD 878
“And in the winter of this same year the brother of Ingwar and Healfden landed in Wessex, in Devonshire, with three and twenty ships, and there was he slain, and eight hundred men with him, and forty of his army. There also was taken the war-flag, which they called the RAVEN.” [INGRAM 1912]

Swanton’s translation [SWANTON 2000]:p.77 of Anglo-Saxon Chronicle E “.. and there the banner which they called ‘Raven', was taken.” It's also mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's B, C and D (B was written in the second half of the C10th, probably in the 970's) but it is not mentioned in the oldest surviving copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A (written from c.890AD to 1070AD).

Asser's The Life of Alfred (1000AD)

"...and there they gained a very large booty, and amongst other things the standard called Raven; for they say that the three sisters of Hingwar and Hubba, daughters of Lodobroch, wove that flag and got it ready in one day. They say, moreover, that in every battle, wherever that flag went before them, if they were to gain the victory a live crow would appear flying on the middle of the flag ; but if they were doomed to be defeated it would hang down motionless, and this was often proved to be so. " [GILES 1848]:p62

A major doubt exists regarding the authenticity of this chapter in Asser's Life of Alfred. It has been fairly well proved that Bishop Parker added this chapter directly from The Annals of St Neots in his 1574AD published version of Asser's Life of Alfred. [STEVENSON 1904] The original sole surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript, Cotton MS Otho A xii, was lost in the Cotton Library fire of 1731AD. The two remaining transcripts have both been affected to varying degrees by Bishop Parkers interpolations.

Beowulf, c.1000AD

"High o'er his head they hoist the standard,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,
gave him to ocean." [GUMMERE 1910]
"To Beowulf gave the bairn of Healfdene
a gold-wove banner, guerdon of triumph,
broidered battle-flag" [GUMMERE 1910]
"His glance too fell on a gold-wove banner
high o'er the hoard, of handiwork noblest,
brilliantly broidered; so bright its gleam," [GUMMERE 1910]

The Song of Roland, 1040-1115AD

  • Verse 8
"And Geoffrey of Anjou, the bearer of the King's gonfalon" [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 69
"Through Cerdagne, and through the valleys and the mountains they marched on,
Until of the French army they saw the gonfalon.
Where all the twelve companions with the French rear-guard
King Marsile will not tarry till he have joined the fray" [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 80
"They held Valentian lances, and shield on shoulder wore.
White and blue and vermilion were the gonfalons they bore." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 82
"And from their gold wrought helmets a blazing light did dance on shield and broidered hauberk, on pennant and on lance." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 92
"With all his armor on him that became him well indeed.
He bore the good spear in his hand with the point unto the height.
Upon the summit of the spear was laced a pennant white." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 95
"Therewith the shield he shattered, and the hauberk all to-broke.
Through the side the pennant-fringes were driven at the stroke." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 110
"What store of spears were shattered and drenched in the blood! How many gonfalons and flags were tattered in the fray." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 113
"Blazing were all their helmets with precious stones and gold.
Pennants and spears and bucklers and broidered coats had they and seven thousand war-horns were bellowing for the fray." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 114a
"Then an embroidered banner he gave unto Grandoign
To lead his men against the Franks that battle they might join.
And therewithal was given to Grandoign the whole command." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 114b
"Down he rode through the valley as swiftly as might be.
His gonfalon was fastened with three fair nails of gold" [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 117
"He shattered all the buckler,
through the hauberk did he shear.
He thrust into the body the pennant of the spear." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 120
"He thrust into the body his azure battle-flag.
And dead he struck Count Gerin beside a mighty crag." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 126
"To rally men in battle the Dragon aye he bore." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 138
"The Emperor his war-horns forthwith he let them peal.
From the steeds the Franks dismounted and girded on the steel.
The hauberks and the helmets and the great swords of gold,
and splendid shields and lances heavy and strong they hold,
with the vermilion gonfalons, and the azure and the white.
There mounted on the chargers of the army every knight." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 139
"And all the armor of the host was flashing in the sun.
The hauberks and the helmets shone with a mighty glare,
and likewise the good bucklers with flowers painted fair,
and gleaming were the lances and the gonfalons of gold." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 218
"They deem there will be a battle, if they come upon the foe.
Down over their bright helmets the gonfalons hang low." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 223
"Aloft they bore the lances. Laced were the flags of war" [BACON 1914]
    • Verse 226
"And onwards Geoffrey of Anjou bore the great Oriflame
Because it was Saint Peter's, it bore the Roman name." [BACON 1914]
Note: Oriflame was the name of Charlemagne's banner
  • Verse 237
"Baligant the Amiral was a gallant man of might. He had his Dragon borne before, and Termagant's ensign" [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 239
"It was Amboire of Olifern who bore his gonfalon." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 241
"But when the Emperor Charlemagne the Amiral surveyed, And the Dragon and the ensign and the standard there displayed." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 244
"And shattered all the byrnie. And furthermore he ran his gonfalon right through the midst of the body of the man." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 249
"Right through the Prince's body his golden banner bore.
He smote him dead seven hundred of his servitors before." [BACON 1914]
  • Verse 259
"Ogier the Dane and Charlemagne well the great strokes laid on,
And Neimes and Geoffrey of Anjou that bore the gonfalon.
Ogier the Dane in all things a hero good was he.
He spurred the steed beneath him, and let him gallop free.
On him who bore the Dragon he let drive a buffet dread.
Down to the earth before him he hurled Lord Amboire dead.
And the banner of King Baligant in that hour came to ground.
And Baligant beheld it fall, and the ensign of Mahound
Without a man to guard it. In his heart he saw it plain
How wickedness was on his side and the right with Charlemagne" [BACON 1914]

Bishop Guy of Amiens, The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio c.1067

(Song of the Battle of Hastings)

"On the highest point of the summit he planted his banner, and ordered his other standards to be set up." [MORILLO 1996]:p.47

William of Jumièges, Gesta Normannorum Ducum c.1070AD

(Deeds of the Dukes of the Normans)

"Ragnar Lothbroc saga: Ragnar Lothbroc got a magic shirt from his wife Aslaug and his daughters are said to have woven a magic raven banner" - GET SOURCE

[BROWN 1984]:p.116

William of Poitiers, The Deeds of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England c.1071AD

(Gesta Willelmi ducis Normannorum et regis Anglorum)

"The duke therefore sought the favour of this apostle for the project he had in hand, and gladly received from him the gift of a banner as a pledge of the support of St Peter whereby he might the more confidently and safely attack his enemy." [DOUGLAS & GREENAWAY 1995]:p.227

"He then advanced in good order with the papal banner which had been granted to him bourne aloft at the head of his troops." [DOUGLAS & GREENAWAY 1995]:p.233

Apparently mentions the fighting man standard being sent to Rome. - GET SOURCE

The Annals of St Neots (1120-1140AD)


Although written in the C12th, The Annals of St Neots was based in part on a now missing early version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. [SWANTON 2000]

Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum c.1129-c.1154

  • AD 752 Battle of Burford
“Ethelhun who led the West-Saxons, bearing the royal standard, a golden dragon, transfixed the standard-bearer of the enemy.” [BOHN 1853]:p.130
  • AD 1016 Battle of Assandun
“King Edmund distinguished himself for his valour. For perceiving that the Danes were fighting with more than ordinary vigour, he quitted his royal station which, as was wont, he had taken between the dragon and the ensign called the Standard,....” [BOHN 1853]:p.194

William of Malmesbury, Chronicle of the Kings of England c.1125AD

(Gesta Regum Anglorum)

“The king himself on foot, stood with his brother, near the standard; in order that, while all shared equal danger, none might think of retreating. This standard William sent, after the victory, to the pope; it was sumptuously embroidered, with gold and precious stones, in the form of a man fighting.” [GILES 1847]:p.276

Master Wace, The Chronicle of the Norman Conquest c.1174

(Roman de Rou)

So he would not be detained, but set out from London, leading his men forward armed for the fight, till he erected his standard and fixed his gonfanon right where THE ABBEY OF THE BATTLE is now built. There he said he would defend himself against whoever should seek him. p.143
“The duke called a serving man, and ordered him to bring forth the gonfanon which the pope had sent him; and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took it, reared it, and called to Raol de Conches; "Bear my gonfanon," said he, "for I would not but do you right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been." "Many thanks to you," said Raol, "for acknowledging our right; but by my faith, the gonfanon shall not this day be borne by me. To-day I claim quittance of the service, for I would serve you in other guise. I will go with you into the battle, and will fight the English as long as life shall last, and know that my hand will be worth any twenty of such men."

Then the duke turned another way, and called to him Galtier Giffart. "Do thou take this gonfanon," said he, "and bear it in the battle." But Galtier Giffart answered, "Sire, for God's mercy look at my white and bald head; my strength has fallen away, and my breath become shorter. The standard should be borne by one who can endure long labour; I shall be in the battle, and you have not any man who will serve you more truly; I will strike with my sword till it shall be died in your enemies' blood."

Then the duke said fiercely, "By the splendour of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need." "Sire," said Giffart, "not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony towards you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both soldiers and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have; and if God please, I will serve you: if need be, I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours."

"By my faith," quoth the duke, "I always loved thee, and now I love thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days." Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz Rou le blanc[6], by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux[7]. To him he delivered the gonfanon; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance[Pg 171] on that account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance for ever.
The right of the men of London is to guard the king's body, to place themselves around him, and to guard his standard; and they were accordingly placed by the standard, to watch and defend it.

When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, he came into the midst of the English, and dismounted by the side of the standard, Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were with him; and around him he had barons enough, as he stood by his gonfanon, which was in truth a noble one, sparkling with gold and precious stones. After the victory William sent it to the apostle, to prove and commemorate his great conquest and glory” [TAYLOR 1837]:p.177
Then his brother Gurth drew near, and they placed themselves by the standard; each praying God to protect them. [TAYLOR 1837]:p.184
The Normans drew their swords and hewed down the barricades, and the English in great trouble fell back upon their standard, where were collected the maimed and wounded. [TAYLOR 1837]:p.235

Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took his shield, and galloping towards the standard with his keen-edged sword, struck an Englishman who was in front, killed him, and then drawing back his sword, attacked many others, and pushed straight for the standard, trying to beat it down; but the English surrounded it, and killed him with their bills. He was found on the spot, when they afterwards sought for him, dead, and lying at the standard's foot.[TAYLOR 1837]:p.240
Duke William pressed close upon the English with his lance; striving hard to reach the standard with the great troop he led; and seeking earnestly for Harold, on whose acconnt the whole war was. [TAYLOR 1837]:p.249

And now the Normans had pressed on so far, that at last they reached the standard. There Harold had remained, defending himself to the utmost; but he was sorely wounded in his eye by the arrow, and suffered grievous pain from the blow. An armed man came in the throng of the battle, and struck him on the ventaille of his helmet, and beat him to the ground; and as he sought to recover himself, a knight beat him down again, striking him on the thick of his thigh, down to the bone.[TAYLOR 1837]:p.252

The standard was beaten down, the golden gonfanon was taken, and Harold and the best of his friends were slain; but there was so much eagerness, and throng of so many around, seeking to kill him, that I know not who it was that slew him.
The English were in great trouble at having lost their king, and at the duke's having conquered and beat down the standard; but they still fought on, and defended themselves long, and in fact till the day drew to a close. Then it clearly appeared to all that the standard was lost, and the news had spread throughout the army that Harold, for certain,[Pg 255] was dead; and all saw that there was no longer any hope, so they left the field, and those fled who could [TAYLOR 1837]:p.254

Then he returned thanks to God, and in his pride ordered his gonfanon to be brought and set up on high, where the English standard had stood; and that was the signal of his having conquered, and beaten down the standard. And he ordered his tent to be raised on the spot among the dead, and had his meat brought thither, and his supper prepared there. [TAYLOR 1837]:p.256

“L’apostoile li otreia, un gonfanon li enveia, un gonfanon et un anel, mult precios e riche e bel; si come it dit, desoz la pierre, aveit un des cheveuls Saint Pierre”[MICHEL 1836: p.147] Charlemagne: An Anglo-Norman Poem of the Twelfth Century edited by Francisque Michel 1836

Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla c.1225AD

(The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway)

  • Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
"The sharp bow-shooter on the sea
Spread wide his fleet, for well loved he
The battle storm: well loved the earl
His battle-banner to unfurl,
O'er the well-trampled battle-field
He raised the red-moon of his shield;
And often dared King Eirik's son
To try the fray with the Earl Hakon." [LAING 1907]
  • Harald Harfager's Saga
The forecastle men were picked men, for they had the king's banner." [LAING 1907]
  • Saga of Harald Hardrade
"When Harald came to the castle gate his standard-bearer fell, and Harald said to Haldor, "Do thou take up the banner now." Haldor took up the banner, and said foolishly, "Who will carry the banner before thee, if thou followest it so timidly as thou hast done for a while?" But these were words more of anger than of truth; for Harald was one of the boldest of men under arms." [LAING 1907]
"The coffin was borne high in the air, and over it was a tent of costly linen and before it were carried many banners." [LAING 1907]
"A little after this it happened that Harald and Svein one evening were sitting at table drinking and talking together, and Svein asked Harald what valuable piece of all his property he esteemed the most.
He answered, it was his banner Land-waster.
Svein asked what was there remarkable about it, that he valued it so highly.
Harald replied, it was a common saying that he must gain the victory before whom that banner is borne, and it had turned out so ever since he had owned it.
Svein replies, "I will begin to believe there is such virtue in the banner when thou hast held three battles with thy relation Magnus, and hast gained them all."" [LAING 1907]
"After Einar's murder the king was so much disliked for that deed that there was nothing that prevented the lendermen and bondes from attacking the king, and giving him battle, but the want of some leader to raise the banner in the bonde army." [LAING 1907]
"And when King Svein's banner was cut down, and his ship cleared of its crew, all his forces took to flight, and some were killed." [LAING 1907]
"Earl Hakon had the same banner which had belonged to King Magnus Olafson." [LAING 1907]

"When the war-cry was raised the earl let his banner advance; but when they came under the hill the king's army rushed down upon them, and killed some of the earl's people, and the rest fled. The Northmen did not pursue the fugitives long, for it was the fall of day; but they took Earl Hakon's banner and all the arms and clothes they could get hold of. King Harald had both the banners carried before him as they marched away. They spoke among themselves that the earl had probably fallen. As they were riding through the forest they could only ride singly, one following the other. Suddenly a man came full gallop across the path, struck his spear through him who was carrying the earl's banner, seized the banner-staff, and rode into the forest on the other side with the banner. When this was told the king he said, "Bring me my armour, for the earl is alive." Then the king rode to his ships in the night; and many said that the earl had now taken his revenge." [LAING 1907]
"He saw a great battle-array on the land; and he thought both sides began to fight, and had many banners flapping in the air." [LAING 1907]
"The king's banner was next the river, where the line was thickest. It was thinnest at the ditch, where also the weakest of the men were. When the earls advanced downwards along the ditch, the arm of the Northmen's line which was at the ditch gave way; and the Englishmen followed, thinking the Northmen would fly. The banner of Earl Morukare advanced then bravely." [LAING 1907]
"He ordered the banner which was called the Land-ravager to be carried before him, and made so severe an assault that all had to give way before it;" [LAING 1907]
"Then King Harald ordered his banner Land-ravager to be set up; and Frirek was the name of him who bore the banner." [LAING 1907]
"The king himself and his retinue were within the circle; and there was the banner, and a body of chosen men. Earl Toste, with his retinue, was at another place, and had a different banner." [LAING 1907]
"King Harald Sigurdson was hit by an arrow in the windpipe, and that was his death-wound. He fell, and all who had advanced with him, except those who retired with the banner. There was afterwards the warmest conflict, and Earl Toste had taken charge of the king's banner." [LAING 1907]
"Eystein Orre came up at this moment from the ships with the men who followed him, and all were clad in armour. Then Eystein got King Harald's banner Land-ravager; and now was, for the third time, one of the sharpest of conflicts, in which many Englishmen fell, and they were near to taking flight." [LAING 1907]
  • The Ynglinga Saga
"There was a great battle, in which King Hake went forward so bravely that he killed all who were nearest to him, and at last killed King Eric, and cut down the banner of the two brothers."
"As soon as King Egil perceived the tumult, he prepared for defence, and set up his banner; but many people deserted him, because Tunne and his men attacked them so boldly, and King Egil saw that nothing was left but to fly."
  • King Olaf Trygvason's Saga
"Earl Sigvalde's banner was displayed in the midst of his army, and right against it Earl Hakon arranged his force for attack." [LAING 1907]
"But as Skegge was killed, there was no leader in the bondes' army to raise the banner against King Olaf; so they took the other condition, to surrender to the king's will and obey his order. [LAING 1907]
"Ulf the Red was the name of the man who bore King Olaf's banner, and was in the forecastle of the Long Serpent; and with him was Kolbjorn the marshal, Thorstein Uxafot, and Vikar of Tiundaland, a brother of Arnliot Gelline." [LAING 1907]
"When King Olaf saw that the scattered forces of the enemy gathered themselves together under the banners of their ships, he asked, "Who is the chief of the force right opposite to us?"" [LAING 1907]
  • Saga of Olaf Haraldson
"As they rode up to the house, and were near the room, they saw on the other side of the house the banners of Olaf coming waving; and there was he himself, with about 100 men all well equipped." [LAING 1907]
"He had a white banner on which was a serpent figured. but when they saw the king's fleet coming they began to bind the ships together, to set up their banners, and to make ready for the fight." [LAING 1907]
"Their banner was brought up to the ship that was nearest the earl's, and the king himself followed the banner. So says
Sigvat: --
"`On with the king!' his banners waving:
`On with the king!' the spears he's braving!
`On, steel-clad men! and storm the deck,
Slippery with blood and strewed with wreck.
A different work ye have to share,
His banner in war-storm to bear,
From your fair girl's, who round the hall
Brings the full mead-bowl to us all.'"
[LAING 1907]
There were twelve of Hrorek's men there, and among them Sigurd Hit, who had been his banner-man, and also little Fin." [LAING 1907]
The king then took them into the troop of his court-men, and said they should fight under his banner in the battle." [LAING 1907]
I will let my banner go forward in the middle of the army, and my-court-men, and pursuivants shall follow it, together with the war forces that joined us from the Uplands, and also those who may come to us here in the Throndhjem land. On the right hand of my banner shall be Dag Hringson, with all the men he brought to our aid; and he shall have the second banner. And on the left hand of our line shall the men be whom the Swedish king gave us, together with all the people who came to us in Sweden; and they shall have the third banner.

Now let the men divide themselves into separate flocks, and then each flock into ranks; then let each man observe well his proper place, and take notice what banner he is drawn up under." [LAING 1907]
Thormod replies, "It may be, sire, that ye now require prayers most; but it would be thin around the banner-staff if all thy court-men were now on the way to Rome." [LAING 1907]
Then he placed his army in battle array, and raised his banner. Dag was not yet arrived with his men, so that his wing of the battle array was wanting. Then the king said the Upland men should go forward in their place, and raise their banner there." [LAING 1907]
Thord Folason carried King Olaf's banner. So says Sigvat the skald, in the death-song which he composed about King Olaf, and put together according to resurrection saga: --
"Thord. I have heard, by Olaf's side,
Where raged the battle's wildest tide,
Moved on, and, as by one accord
Moved with them every heart and sword.
The banner of the king on high,
Floating all splendid in the sky
From golden shaft, aloft he bore, --
The Norsemen's rallying-point of yore."
[LAING 1907]
There a slumber came upon him, and he slept a little while; but at the same time the bondes' army was seen advancing with raised banners, and the multitude of these was very great. [LAING 1907]
Thereupon Arnljot was baptized. The king taught him so much of the holy faith as appeared to him needful, and placed him in the front rank of the order of battle, in advance of his banner, where also Gauka-Thorer and Afrafaste, with their men, were. [LAING 1907]
Thorer replies thus to his speech: "I do not confide in myself so much as to raise the banner against King Olaf, or, as chief, to lead on this army; [LAING 1907]
Will ye now adopt my proposal -- then shalt thou, friend Thorer, and thou, Harek, go under the banner which we will all of us raise up, and then follow. [LAING 1907]
"Kalf Arnason then raised his banner, and drew up his house-servants along with Harek of Thjotta and his men. Thorer Hund, with his troop, was at the head of the order of battle in front of the banner; and on both sides of Thorer was a chosen body of bondes, all of them the most active and best armed in the forces. This part of the array was long and thick, and in it were drawn up the Throndhjem people and the Halogalanders. On the right wing was another array; and on the left of the main array were drawn up the men from Rogaland, Hordaland, the Fjord districts, and Scgn, and they had the third banner." [LAING 1907]
"When the bondes' men and array were drawn up the lendermen addressed the men, and ordered them to take notice of the place to which each man belonged, under which banner each should be, who there were in front of the banner, who were his side-men, and that they should be brisk and quick in taking up their places in the array; for the army had still to go a long way, and the array might be broken in the course of march. Then they encouraged the people; and Kalf invited all the men who had any injury to avenge on King Olaf to place themselves under the banner which was advancing against King Olaf's own banner. They should remember the distress he had brought upon them; and, he said, never was there a better opportunity to avenge their grievances, and to free themselves from the yoke and slavery he had imposed on them. "Let him," says he, "be held a useless coward who does not fight this day boldly; and they are not innocents who are opposed to you, but people who will not spare you if ye spare them." [LAING 1907]
"Thereafter the bondes' army advanced to Stiklestad, where King Olaf was already with his people. Kalf and Harek went in front, at the head of the army under their banners." [LAING 1907]
"Now came Thorer Hund, went forward in front of the banner with his troop, and called out, "Forward, forward, bondemen!"
"Midst in their line their banner flies,
Thither the stoutest bonde hies:
But many a bonde thinks of home,
And many wish they ne'er had come."
Now the ranks in front of the king's banner began to be thinned, and the king ordered Thord to carry the banner forward, and the king himself followed it with the troop he had chosen to stand nearest to him in battle; and these were the best armed men in the field, and the most expert in the use of their weapons. Sigvat the skald tells of this: --
"Loud was the battle-storm there,
Where the king's banner flamed in air.
The king beneath his banner stands,
And there the battle he commands."
[LAING 1907]
"At the same instant Thord stuck the banner-pole so fast in the earth that it remained standing. Thord had got his death-wound, and fell beneath the banner. At the same time Dag Hringson came up with his people, and began to put his men in array, and to set up his banner; but on account of the darkness the onset could not go on so briskly, for they could not see exactly whom they had before them." [LAING 1907]
  • 240. KING OLAF'S FALL.
"Warrior! who Olaf dared withstand,
Who against Olaf held the land,
Thou hast withstood the bravest, best,
Who e'er has gone to his long rest.
At Stiklestad thou wast the head;
With flying banners onwards led
Thy bonde troops, and still fought on,
Until he fell -- the much-mourned one."
[LAING 1907]
" There a great number of the bondes fell, and these lendermen, Erlend of Gerde and Aslak of Finey; and the banner also which they had stood under was cut down." [LAING 1907]
" Thormod Kolbrunarskald was under King Olaf's banner in the battle; but when the king had fallen, the battle was raging so that of the king's men the one fell by the side of the other, and the most of those who stood on their legs were wounded." [LAING 1907]
  • Saga of Magnus the Good
"Spattered with mud from heel to head,
Our gallant lord his true men led.
Will Lund's earl halt his hasty flight,
And try on land another fight?
His banner yesterday was seen,
The sand-bills and green trees between,
Through moss and mire to the strand,
In arrow flight, leaving the land."
[LAING 1907]
"And now the Norsemen storm along,
Following their banner in a throng:
King Magnus' banner flames on high,
A star to guide our roaming by.
To Lund, o'er Scania's peaceful field,
My shoulder bore my useless shield;
A fairer land, a better road,
As friend or foe, I never trod."

Across Fiona's moor again,
The paths late trodden by our men
We tread once more, until quite near,
Through morning mist, the foes appear.
Then up our numerous banners flare
In the cold early morning air;
And they from Magnus' power who fly
Cannot this quick war-work deny."
[LAING 1907]
"To fair Fiona's grassy shore
His banner now again he bore:
He who the mail-shirt's linked chains
Severs, and all its lustre stains, --
He will be long remembered there,
The warrior in his twentieth year,
Whom their black ravens from afar
Saluted as he went to war."
[LAING 1907]
  • Magnus Barefoot's Saga
The king answered, "Call all the men together with the war-horns under the banner, and the men who are here shall make a rampart with their shields, and thus we will retreat backwards out of the mires; and we will clear ourselves fast enough when we get upon firm ground."
Vidkun Jonson instantly killed the man who had given the king his death-wound, and fled, after having received three wounds; but brought the king's banner and the sword Legbit

to the ships. [LAING 1907]

  • Saga of Magnus the Blind and of Harald Gille
Then the war-horns sounded, and all Harald's men went out from the house to an enclosed field, and set up their banners. King Harald had on two shirts of ring-mail, but his brother Kristrod had no armour on; and a gallant man he was. [LAING 1907]
On Hlesey's plain the foe must quail
'Fore him who dyes their shirts of mail.
His storm-stretched banner o'er his head
Flies straight, and fills the foe with dread."
[LAING 1907]
  • Saga of Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, the Sons of Harald
It is related that Thjostolf Alason carried King Inge in his belt as long as the battle lasted, and stood under the banner [LAING 1907]
It is true that there is but little help in thee on account of thy ill health, but I should think thy will should not be less to hold thy hand over thy friends, and I am now quite ready to go from hence to meet Sigurd, and my banner is flying in the yard." [LAING 1907]
  • Saga of Hakon Herdebreid ("Hakon the Broad-Shouldered")
There the man who carried his banner was slain, just as he was going to step on shore. Gregorius ordered Hal, a son of Audun Halson, to take up the banner, which he did, and

bore the banner up to the pier. [LAING 1907]

Thereupon he ordered his banner to be set up, which was done; and they rowed across the river. [LAING 1907]
Then he ordered the banner to be advanced, and immediately went out on the ice with the men. [LAING 1907]
An assault was made against King Inge's banner, and in this conflict King Inge fell; but his brother Orm continued the battle, while many of the army fled up into the town. [LAING 1907]
  • Magnus Erlingson's Saga
The people of Viken were very friendly to Erling and King Magnus, principally from the popularity of the late King Inge Haraldson; for the Viken people had always served under his banner. [LAING 1907]
We have a good battle-field. Let them cross the bridge; but as soon as the banner comes over it let us then rush down the hill upon them, and none desert his neighbour." [LAING 1907]
They first used spears then edge weapons; and the earl's banner soon retired so far back, that Erling and his men scaled the ridge [LAING 1907]
Then the Birkebeins' banner was cut down; those who were nearest gave way and some took to flight [LAING 1907]


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