The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship, says Dahlmann. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives (Sagas, literally "Says") as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations. Snorro Sturleson's History of the Norse Kings is built out of these old Sagas; and has in it a great deal of poetic fire, not a little faithful sagacity applied in sifting and adjusting these old Sagas; and, in a word, deserves, were it once well edited, furnished with accurate maps, chronological summaries, &c., to be reckoned among the great history-books of the world. It is from these sources, greatly aided by accurate, learned and unwearied Dahlmann, the German Professor, that the following rough notes of the early Norway Kings are hastily thrown together.
to the luxuriant beauty that had no equal in his day, brought home his Gyda, and made her the brightest queen in all the north. He had after her, in succession, or perhaps even simultaneously in some cases, at least six other wives; and by Gyda herself one daughter and four sons.
Harald was not to be considered a strict-living man, and he had a great deal of trouble, as we shall see, with the tumultuous ambition of his sons; but he managed his government, aided by Jarl Rognwald and others, in a large, quietly potent, and successful manner; and it lasted in this royal form till his death, after sixty years of it.
These were the times of Norse colonization; proud Norsemen flying into other lands, to freer scenes,--to Iceland, to the Faroe Islands, which were hitherto quite vacant (tenanted only by some mournful hermit, Irish Christian fakir, or so); still more copiously to the Orkney and Shetland Isles, the Hebrides and other countries where Norse squatters and settlers already were. Sett
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