Sitric ‘Silkbeard’, Family Fireworks, and Viking Age Ireland

Sitric ‘Silkbeard’, Family Fireworks, and Viking Age IrelandWhen Blood Kin, In-Laws, and Outlaws Read Like a ‘Who’s Who in the Royal  Zoo’ of Queen Gormlaith

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.   (James 3:16)

Viking-reenactors.approaching-battle.png

If a Viking ruled over Ireland’s busy port of Dublin, for more than 40 years, one might expect that Viking had good connections – political networks and family dynasty links. True enough, but those royal connections also came with a lot of family conflict baggage!   This mix of family politics, applied to Viking-style conflict resolution processes, is repeatedly illustrated in the family life and political career of Dublin’s Viking ruler Sitric “Silkbeard” (a/k/a “Silkenbeard”) Olafsson.(1)  

Of course, Vikings in Ireland are known by both their Irish and their Norse names, and variants abound when spelling those names —  so Sitric’s name appears in variants including  Sigtrygg, Sigtryg, Sigtryggr, Sihtric, and Sitrick.  Sitric was not an uncommon Viking name, but history only knows one Viking nicknamed “Silkbeard” (or “Silkenbeard”), so that is how he will often be identified here.

Silkbeard had political connections, as well as family ties, directly, both by his birth and by his marriages, as well as indirectly, because his blood kin and in-laws themselves were very interconnected with the geopolitical networks of Ireland Viking Age, both inside and outside of Ireland.

This short study will show that Silkbeard’s family ties, which overlap with his political networks, help to explain just how interconnected personal relationships were in Viking Ireland, especially during Silkbeard’s unusually long career, as well as during the times immediately before and after that illustrious career.

Viking-reenactors.Oban-Scotland

FAMILY FEUDS: DIVORCE COURT BATTLES, WRIT LARGE?

To specifically illustrate Silkbeard’s interconnectedness with notable players in his world, consider how his career was traumatically challenged when his own mother (Gormlaith ingen Murchada, whose name in Old Norse is Kormloð  –  since the Old Norse use K for both “G” and “K” consonants) urged him to war against her ex-husband (Brian Boru), who was Silkbeard’s former stepfather.

Besides her son Silkbeard, Gormlaith incited others, especially her brother Máel Mórda, plus 3 other warriors whom she appeared willing to marry (if Brian was defeated), to go to war against her ex, Brian Boru. How did ex-queen Gormlaith become so heavily involved in plotting a military coup against her royal ex?

But Silkbeard’s mother, Gormlaith, was not new to politics in Viking Age Ireland.

Firstly, Gormlaith’s father was Murchad mac Finn, king of Leinster (in southern Ireland); her brother Máel Mórda (a/k/a Máel Mordha) mac Murchada, became the successor king when their father (Murchad) died.

Secondly, it is important to notice that Gormlaith’s brother Máel Mórda fought against Brian Boru (Gormlaith’s ex-husband, so Máel’s ex-brother-in-law) at the Battle of Clontarf in AD1014, where many brave warriors breathed their last. (2)

Thirdly, as wife of Dublin-York’s king Olaf Cuaran (a/k/a Kváran(3)) Sitricsson, she mothered Silkbeard (who later became king).

Fourthly, as wife of Munster’s king Brian Boru, she mothered Donnchad (who later became king of Munster).

And, fifthly, it seems that her third and last marriage was to Meath’s king Máel Sechlainn mac Domnall(4) (who once defeated Olaf Cuaran in AD980), — and  who once fought on December 30th of AD999 with Brian Boru, and later against him in AD1002, and  against him again in AD1014), for whom Gormlaith mothered Conchobar (who appears to have died during AD1030).  This part of Gormlaith’s life is less documented (i.e., the evidence for this third marriage is not as sound and thorough as the historical evidence of Gormlaith’s first and second marriages), yet that is to be expected (or at least it is not unforeseeable) because her political relevance apparently faded soon after the Battle of Clontarf.

VikingLongboat-moored.NorthernLights

BRIAN BORU FLIPS THE FAMILY DYNASTY SEESAW

Silkbeard’s mother, years after becoming a widow (when Silkbeard’s father died in AD981) married Brian Boru, who had previously fathered children.

One of Brian Boru’s preëxisting children, in AD1000, was a daughter named Sláine ingen Briain (i.e., Brian’s-dottir), whom Silkbeard (Gormlaith’s son) then married.

In other words, Gormlaith’s marriage to Brian Boru (who was already the father of Sláine), when combined with Silkbeard marrying Sláine (both occurred shortly after the Battle of Glenmama, though Gormlaith’s marriage to Brian preceded Silkbeard’s marriage to Brian’s daughter), meant that Silkbeard was then married to his own mother’s stepdaughter —  in order to doubly tie the dynastic family of Brian Boru to that of Gormlaith and her son (by Olaf Cuaran) Sitric “Silkbeard”.

As a result, Olaf Sitricsson, the son of Silkbeard (and thus part of the Olafsson family dynasty, which apparently descends from the original Norse-Danish Viking dynasty – called by the Irish Uí Ímair (“descendants of Ivar”) —  that established Dublin, led by Ivar, Halfdan, and others) and Sláine (and thus part of Brian Boru’s family dynasty)  —  could claim Gormlaith as both his paternal grandmother and as his maternal step-grandmother.(5)

This double marriage alliance was no romantic accident or lucky coincidence. Rather, this double marriage alliance was a strategic reaction to the outcome of the Battle of Glenmama, where all 4 belligerent parties had a tie to Gormlaith.

Viking-boat-at-sea

BATTLE OF GLENMAMA,  December 30th A.D. 999

Before considering who fought against whom at the Battle of Clontarf (in April of AD1014), it is helpful to notice who fought whom during the earlier Battle of Glenmama (on Little Christmas Eve, AD999).  The Glenmama (Irish: Ghleann Máma) battle climaxed a rebellion in Leinster (southern Ireland).

Four Irish kingdoms were involved at Glenmama’s showdown:

(1) Kingdom of Leinster, headed by King Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother);

(2) Kingdom of Munster, headed by King Brian Boru (who became Gormlaith’s 2nd husband);

(3) Kingdom of Meath, headed by “High King” Máel Sechnaill II mac Domnall (a/k/a “King Malachy”, who appears to have been, at some point, Gormlaith’s husband,  —  most likely her 3rd husband, soon after the Battle of Clontarf, although some say they were a pair before Gormlaith married Brian  —  perhaps both suggestions are true); and

(4) Kingdom of Dublin, headed by Norse-Viking King Sitric “Silkbeard” (Gormlaith’s son by Olaf Cuaran, Gormlaith’s 1st husband).

Battle-Glenmama-AD999.verbal-summary

Brian Boru has thus defeated Gormlaith’s brother (Máel Mórda), and Gormlaith’s son (Sitric “Silkbeard”), at Glenmama.  Two politically coërced marriage alliances soon follow: (1) Gormlaith marries Brian Boru; and (2) Gormlaith’s son Silkbeard marries Sláine, one of Brian’s daughters.

Now to consider the later controversy — about 14 years later — when Gormlaith has been prodding her son (Silkbeard) to help lead a war against her ex-husband (Brian Boru), Silkbeard’s former stepfather.

Unsurprisingly, the rejected ex-queen/now-divorcée, Gormlaith sought revenge against Brian Boru.  This hostile alienation led, in short time, to what history calls the Battle of Clontarf, a major event in Irish history, on Good Friday of AD1014.  Geographically, Clontarf is a coastland on Dublin Bay’s north side (see map below, on page 8).

Gormlaith was determined to support a worthy challenger who could (and would) defeat her ex-husband, Brian Boru.   But who would that be?

Actually the “who” was not just one warrior! The Viking Age histories (especially the Icelandic sagas) indicate that Gormlaith “diversified” the risks involved, i.e., she chose not to put all of her matrimonial “eggs” in one basket.

Gormlaith instructed her son Silkbeard to tell Sigurd “the Stout” Hlodvirsson (earl of Orkney, grandson of Thorfinn Skull-splitter Einarsson) that she would marry Sigurd Hlodvirsson if Brian Boru (her ex) was defeated, plus Gormlaith would use her political power/influence to establish Sigurd as High King in Ireland.

However, Gormlaith likewise instructed her son Silkbeard to similarly tell Bróðir (a/k/a Bróðir of Man, i.e., a warrior from the Isle of Man) that she would marry Bróðir if Brian Boru (her ex) was defeated, plus Gormlaith would use her political power/influence to establish Bróðir as High King in Ireland. (Ironically, Óspak, the brother of Bróðir, refused to fight Brian, choosing rather to fight for him – and thus Óspak’s men fought for Brian Boru while Bróðir’s men fought against Brian.)

Unsurprisingly, Gormlaith instructed her son Silkbeard to avoid telling the Orcadian earl Sigurd what she was promising Bróðir; likewise, she told Silkbeard to keep secret from the Manx warrior Bróðir what she was promising Sigurd!

Ireland-kingdoms-as-of-AD1014.Clontarf

BATTLE OF CLONTARF, April 23rd A.D. 1014

Several Irish kingdoms, plus many mercenary “neighbors”, clashed at Clontarf:

(1) Kingdom of Leinster, headed by King Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother);

(2) Kingdom of Munster, headed by King Brian Boru (who was Gormlaith’s 2nd husband, but now divorced from her) and militarily led by his son Murchad (born of Brian’s 1st wife Mór, daughter of a king of Connacht), with help from Brian’s son Tadc (born of Brian’s 2nd wife Echrad), and from Brian’s grandson Turlough (only 15) and grandson Tadc (son of Murchad);

(3) Kingdom of Meath, headed by “High King” Máel Sechnaill II (of the Irish Uí Néill family dynasty, who apparently became Gormlaith’s 3rd husband, after the battle — it appears that his forces “showed up”, but did not seriously engage in the early fighting, until it was clear that the defenders were winning; only then did the Meath men join the fight, chase down and slaughter the fleeing Manxmen and Orcadian attackers, and soon afterwards claim victory);

(4) Kingdom of Dublin, headed by Norse-Viking King Sitric “Silkbeard” (Gormlaith’s son by her 1st husband; Silkbeard was aided by his brother Dubgall Olafsson);

(5) Earldom of Orkney, headed by Sigurd “the Stout” Hlodvirsson (whom Gormlaith promised to marry, and to help establish as Irish high king, if Brian was defeated)

(6) Isle of Man mercenaries (linked to Sigurd the Stout), represented by Bróðir (whom Gormlaith also promised to marry, and to help establish as Irish high king, if Brian was defeated); and others, of course.

But what happened to those who fought at Clontarf, on Good Friday of AD1014?

Clontarf-Battle-AD1014-map.HistoryIreland-image

Battle of Clontarf, A.D.1014 [image credit: Sean Duffy, History Ireland, 22(2):30-31 (2014)]

Estimates of casualties suggest many thousands fought: maybe 13,000 to 14,000 men total, with Brian’s coalition forces comprising perhaps 7000 or 8000 of that number.

Of those myriads of warriors, most died in battle.  Most died on or near the battlefield, or drowned in tidewaters while trying to flee to their Viking ships, or died from their battle wounds. Records suggest that the attacking allies lost 80% to 90% of their numbers, the defenders lost ¼ to ½ of their numbers  —  its bloodiness is somewhat comparable to the bloodshed at Antietam in America’s Civil War, although that Western Maryland battle exceeded 23,000 casualties in one day, whereas the Battle of Clontarf suffered somewhat close to half that number.

BrianBoru-Clontarf.memorial-marker

During the Battle of Clontarf the Manx Viking Bróðir killed Brian Boru, bragging about it immediately:  “Now, let man tell man, that Bróðir felled Brian!”(6)

Fame flees fastly, though: Bróðir himself died later that day, captured then disemboweled, with his intestinal tract literally wrapped around a tree by Wolf the Quarrelsome (no more details are needed!).

Also, Orkney’s earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson was killed by Brian’s son Murchad; soon afterwards Murchad himself (the main leader of Brian’s forces) also died.

Leinster’s king Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother) was also killed that day.

Obviously Gormlaith never had a problem explaining her simultaneous proposals of marriage to Sigurd and to Bróðir —  because both men died then at Clontarf.

In the end, the Dublin Bay defenders (Brian’s army and its coalition forces, including Silkbeard’s army) “won” the battle – even though Brian Boru himself, and his son Murchad, died in the defense, as did Murchad’s son Tadc (i.e., Brian’s grandson). However, the House of Brian (Uí Briain, a/k/a O’Brien) itself was not a dynastic “winner”, as political power shifted back to the Uí Neill (O’Neill) high-kingship, which then was represented by Máel Sechlainn II.

Accordingly, Máel Sechlainn II, king of Meath, who usually had opposed Brian Boru more than he had helped him, survived the Battle of Clontarf –  and so it was Máel Sechlainn II who would take much of what Brian and others had lost.

Donnchad mac Briain (son of Brian Boru and Gormlaith) also survived the Battle of Clontarf. Donnchard returned to Munster, soon ruling there, in lieu of his deceased father. After eliminating a competitor (his half-brother Tadc mac Briain, whose father was Brian and mother was Echrad) in AD1023, Donnchad established his rule as Munster’s king for 40 years afterwards, a feat comparable to the resilience of his half-brother Sitric Silkenbeard.

The other notable survivor (besides Gormlaith herself(7)) was Sitric Silkbeard, who some say fought valiantly, but others say he stayed close to the Dublin fortress walls, as its military defender (to prevent looting, etc.).

Likely, Silkbeard did some of both.

Politically, the strongest survivor of the battle was Máel Sechlainn II, so he “mopped up” much of Brian’s realm, reimposing the Uí Neill (O’Neill) high-kingship dynasty in central Ireland. Under Máel Sechlainn II’s overlordship, therefore, Silkbeard continued to rule Dublin.  In AD1036, after more than 40 years of ruling Dublin, Silkbeard finally retired – abdicating his throne to his nephew Echmarcach.  Silkbeard traveled widely for 6 years, dying in AD1042.

the Rose and Viking Festival in St. Annes Park

Clontarf Battle Viking reenactor (image credit: Irish Times)

So what was the key to Sitric Silkbeard’s longevity as Dublin’s ruler, amidst all the family fireworks and turf-grabbing turmoil in Viking Age Ireland?

One wise habit Silkbeard practiced was the pragmatic virtue of not trying to be “top dog” in rank or power.  If it was tolerable, Silkbeard submitted to an overlord, what the Irish called a “high king” (i.e., a king who also overruled other kings, what continental Europe called an “emperor”).

The result, for Silkbeard, was survival with less-than-complete autonomy for his Viking port-based kingdom of Dublin, an international commerce giant. Meanwhile, others, who stretched for greater lots, often died trying to overreach.  Contentedness (i.e., appreciating what you have, when it is enough) has its rewards (see 1st Timothy 6:6).

Covetousness is a cruel slavemaster, and greed for glory (and/or for other kinds of gain) has ruined many an ambitious men and women.          ><> JJSJ        profjjsj@aol.com 

JJSJ-CliftonMuseum-NST-lecture


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson (JD, ThD, CPEE, CNHG, MSHist, MSGeog) often researches, writes, and speaks on Viking history, serves the Norwegian Society of Texas, and has taught aboard 9 international cruise ships (by which he visited Dublin in AD2002).  A lifelong learner, he may be reached at profjjsj@aol.com .



ENDNOTE  REFERENCES

(1) As surprising as it may be to some, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin (Ireland), was originally established by King Silkbeard around AD1028  —  it now belongs to the (Anglican Protestant) Church of Ireland.  Silkbeard died in AD1042.

(2) Both Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother, as king of Leinster) and Brian Boru (Gormlaith’s 2nd husband, who divorced her) died during the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday of AD1014, along with thousands of other Norse and Irish warriors.

(3) Olaf Cuaran was king of Northumbria/Jórvík (York) 2 or 3 times, plus king of Dublin twice.  Olaf was known as Óláfr Sigtryggsson in Old Norse, and in old Irish Gaelic as Amlaíb mac Sitric or as Amlaíb Cuarán (meaning Olaf “Sandal”). Olaf was a direct descendant of “Ivar the Boneless”, one of the Great Heathen Army heads.  Regarding the Great Heathen Army’s contribution to creation apologetics, see James J. S. Johnson, “Something Fishy about Radiocarbon-Dating Viking Bones”, Creation Research Society Quarterly, 54(3):213-216 (winter 2018).  Olaf’s sister (some say “daughter”; Brian Tompsett says “sister”; maybe ½-sister?), Gytha (a/k/a Gyda), after becoming widowed, married Christian Viking Olaf Tryggvason, himself then a widower; for a few years Olaf Tryggvason lived in both England and Dublin, likely helping Olaf Cuaran, his royal brother-in-law in Dublin.

(4) It also seems that Máel Sechlainn II mac Domnall (a/k/a “Malachy”) previously married Dublin/York’s king Olaf Cuaran’s daughter named Máel Muire ingen Amlaíb (the latter 2 words meaning “Olafsdottir”, i.e., “daughter of Olaf”).  This Máel Muire was half-sister to Dublin’s king Sitric “Silkbeard” Olafsson, as well as sister (or half-sister) to Gytha Olafsdottir (who married Olaf Tryggvason, who later became Christian Viking king of Norway and its possessions).   Assuming that Gormlaith eventually married Máel Sechlainn II, who previously had married Olaf Cuaran’s daughter Máel Muire (who once was Gormlaith’s stepdaughter), that would mean Gormlaith was marrying the ex-husband of her own stepdaughter!

(5) Would Olaf Sitricsson call Gormlaith “Farmor” (meaning “Father’s mother”), or “Mormor” (meaning “Mother’s [step]-mother”), or just “Bestemor” (meaning “grandmother”)?   [AUTHOR’S PERSONAL NOTE:  my son’s sons (i.e., my biogenetic grandchildren)  call me “Farfar”,  Norwegian for “Father’s father”.     ><>  JJSJ  ]

(6) Regarding, the 2 birds that represent the Isle of Man, see JJSJ’s “Northern Raven and Peregrine Falcon:  Two Birds Supporting the Manx Coat of  Arms”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/02/12/northern-raven-and-peregrine-falcon-two-birds-supporting-the-manx-coat-of-arms/ .  That blogpost includes a genealogical lineage from Manx Viking king Somerled unto King James VI of Scotland (a/k/a King James I of England), whom God providentially used to sponsor the KING JAMES VERSION of the Holy Bible, which is (thankfully) the most published book in the entire history of the world!

(7) Some sources suggest that Gormlaith married king Máel Sechlainn II (“Malachy”), after her 1st husband Olaf Cuaran died  —  yet before she married Brian Boru.  Other sources strongly disagree, suggesting that Gormlaith was married only to Olaf, then Brian, then a third time to Máel Sechlainn II, king of Meath.

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NORWEGIANS TAKE SKIING SERIOUSLY !

NORWEGIANS  TAKE  SKIING  SERIOUSLY !
Skiathlon  Heroes  Recall  Norse  “Birch-leg”  Skiers  of  Old

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For a just man falls 7 times, and rises again, but the wicked fall into calamity.  (Proverbs 24:16)

[photo credit: Business Insider]

As Norway’s Olympic skier Simen Hegstad Krüger recently (i.e., on Sunday, February 11th A.D.2018) reminded the watching world, Norwegians have a time-honored tradition as competitive and resilient snow-skiers – and a track-record as loyal teammates during times of crisis – harking back to the Birkebeiner of old.

At Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, in the men’s cross-country 15km X 15 km skiathlon competition (2018 Winter Olympics, PyeongChang, South Korea), Krüger initially slipped, fell face in the snow, breaking a ski-pole, with his fall worsened when two other skiers (Russia’s Denis Spitsov and Russia’s Adrey Larkov) promptly collided into, stumbled upon, and tangled around him. Within 15 seconds Krüger found himself, in effect, as the cross-country train’s caboose!

[photo credit: Business Insider]

But, since Viking times, Norwegians have a hardy reputation for battling the odds – and 24-year-old Krüger refused to accept this disappointing debacle as an excuse for quitting, or for reducing his best efforts to win.

SUCCESS IS NOT ABOUT NEVER FALLING, IT’S ABOUT GETTING BACK  IN THE RACE!

If you fall the day is not done;

Get up! Finish what you’ve begun !

So when you fall down,

Don’t stay on the ground!

Get back in the race — and RUN !

Astoundingly, Krüger resumed the race, from his last-place position – with Viking-like vigor reminiscent of Eric Liddell – and steadily and serially by-passed each of his 63 Olympian competitors until he had won the race, earning a Gold Medal for Norway.  Wow!

 PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — When Simen Hegstad Krueger [sic – the proper spelling is Krüger] slipped and fell on the first lap of the 30-kilometer cross-country skiathlon and found himself face down in the snow with two rivals on top of him, he figured his hopes at an Olympic medal were over.   He couldn’t have been more wrong.  “Here it is my first ever Olympic race, and it starts in the worst possible way,” said the Norwegian, who untangled his legs and his skis from the two Russian competitors he wrecked, grabbed his broken ski pole and stormed up the hill to get back in contention.

Starting from the rear, Krueger passed 63 other skiers to take the lead and win the gold medal on Sunday to cap an amazing comeback.  After Krueger crossed the line in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 20 seconds, he looked to the heavens and repeatedly pumped his fists in the air.

Norway swept the medals, with [Norway’s] Martin Johnsrud Sundby taking silver and [Norway’s] Hans Christer Holund getting bronze.  Sundby said Krueger’s return to the front of the field after crashing is an incredible testament to his perseverance. “I think we have a deserving Olympic champion,” Sundby said.  Holund said he would expect nothing more from a Norwegian skier in a sport they have dominated for years. “When you are skiing for Norway, there are a lot of guys skiing for that right (to participate in the Olympics). You should not give up, especially when you are in the Olympics,” Holund said. “It shows that Simen is a real strong guy — not just physical, but also mental.”

Just seconds after the mass start began and with skiers still bottled up in lines, Krueger appeared to slip in mid-stride and his right ski came out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground.  The two skiers directly behind him — Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov, Russians competing under the Olympic flag — couldn’t stop quick enough and toppled over him in a heap.

Krueger told himself he needed to stay calm. He knew he couldn’t get back the 15 seconds he lost all at once.  It would take patience to get back in the lead pack and still have some energy left at the end of the race. “I had to try to keep those (negative) thoughts away,” Kruger said. “I knew it was going to be extremely hard.”  One of the Norway coaches gave Krueger a new pole — which is legal — shortly after the crash.

Krueger steadily moved through the field and eventually took the lead with 5 kilometers remaining.

On the eighth and final lap, Krueger made what Holund called a “daring move” to pull away from the pack.  He [i.e., Krüger] succeeded with the help of Norwegian teammates, whose plan coming into the race was for a team victory — meaning protecting the leader if he tried to pull away by not letting other top medal contenders like Swiss great Dario Cologna catch up. “If Simen had a seven-second lead and I tried to catch him and Dario was able to stay with me, and then Dario and [I] caught him and Dario has the best finish — that would not look so good for us,” Sundby said. “I think we all agree the plan was good for the Norwegian team.”

[Quoting “AP” / Soobim Im, “Norwegian Skier Simen Hegstad Krueger Crashes Early, Breaks Pole, Still Wins Gold Medal”, USA TODAY SPORTS, posted at https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2018/02/11/norways-krueger-wins-gold-in-skiathlon-after-early-crash/110314870/ (2-11-AD2018); updated ‎2-12-AD2018, 6‎:‎52‎ ‎a.m.]

Martin Sundby (L), Simen Krüger (M), Hans Holund (R)
[photo credit: Westdeutsche Zeitung]

Yet the stakes were even higher – much higher in fact – when two Norwegian patriots employed their superlative skiing skills to save the life of an infant king, Håkon IV Håkonsson, son of Håkon III Sverreson, who was himself son of the Norwegian king Sverre who is lauded within Norway’s modern (albeit unofficial) national anthem, Ja Vi Elsker, as follows:

Dette landet Harald berget med sin kjemperad     [this land Harald united with his host of heroes],
dette landet Håkon verget medens Øyvind kvad     [this land Håkon protected while Øyvind sang];
Olav på det landet malte korset med sitt blod     [upon the land Olaf painted with his blood the cross],
fra dets høye Sverre talte Roma midt imot     [from its heights Sverre spoke up against Rome].

[Quoting Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s anthem, Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet, verse 2.]

King Sverre Sigurdsson, a descendant of Norway’s Viking kings Harald Fairhair and Harald Hardrada (as shown in a footnote, below), ruled Norway during the Viking Age’s sunset years, and was constantly engaged in a jurisdictional and theological tourney with the Church of Rome’s ecclesiastical-geopolitical imperialism, providing a foretaste of the centuries-later conflict (of Scandian-Saxon nations with the Church of Rome) that today we call the Protestant Reformation. [See, accord, Karl Jonsson, SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), translated by John Sephton (London: David Nutt, 1899; reprinted 1994 by Llanerch Publishers of Felinfach), at pages 2-233, 235, 237, 239-240, & especially 241-261 (“Anecdoton Sverreri”).

NOTE: “Tusen takk” to Col. John Eidsmoe, for repeatedly educating me regarding the heroic Birkebeiner skiers.]

Throughout King Sverre’s adventurous lifetime and turbulent reign, Sverre faced a fierce and bloody conflict with the Baglers (“Hoodies”, who affiliated with the hood-wearing monks of the Roman church, often allied with Denmark). King Sverre’s opposing faction was called the Birkebeiner (“Birch-legs”), because some of them were so poor that they wrapped and tied birch-bark around their legs as protection against Norway’s snow and cold.(1)

Providentially, King Sverre had studied Christian (and Roman) theology in the school of Kirkjubøur (and in time became an ordained priest) in the Faeroe Islands, before Sverre became Norway’s king (during his 30s).

Consequently, Sverre was not easily intimidated by the theological bluffing, sophistic arguments, or bullying tactics of the Bagler faction’s ecclesiastical “authorities”.

After a long and action-packed reign (from about A.D.1184 to March 9th of A.D.1202), King Sverre was succeeded by his son Håkon III Sverreson. Yet Norway’s king Håkon III survived his father by less than 2 years, due to being treacherously poisoned by his Bagler-affiliated stepmother (dowager queen Margrete Eriksdotter, daughter of Swedish king Eric IX), dying on New Year’s Day of A.D.1204. Håkon III was thus succeeded by his 4-year-old nephew, Guttorm, a grandson of King Sverre, from January to August (of A.D.12024) — then the boy king Guttorm died suddenly, another “inside job” assassination by poison.

Before his own assassination, however, the unmarried King Håkon III Sverreson had fathered an son – also named Håkon (thus Håkon IV Håkonsson) – who was born to Inga of Varteig (Håkon III’s concubine since A.D.1203), during the spring of A.D.1204, only a few months after King Håkon III’s death by poison. Thus King Sverre’s dynasty now hung on the life of his newborn grandbaby – as the rival Bagler faction wanted that royal baby killed!(2)

To make matters worse, baby Håkon IV Håkonsson — who was not yet 2 years old! (during the winter of A.D.1205/1206) — was then in Østfold, a part of Norway controlled by the Baglers, so baby Håkon needed to be safely whisked away to territory controlled by the Birch-legs, protected by a bodyguard of Birch-leg patriots. So the Beinebeiners headed toward Nidaros (i.e., Trondheim), in hopes of finding refuge at the capital city of the new Birkebeiner-allied king, Inge II Bårdson (ruled A.D.1204—A.D.1217) — but the Birch-leg patriots’ mountainous trek was vehemently interrupted by a fierce and prolonged winter blizzard.

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Knowing their territorial vulnerability, and with no time to waste, baby Håkon IV was entrusted to the best two skiers, Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka.

Torstein and Skjervald — through hours of blizzard snowstorms — indefatigably carried baby Håkon (for about 5 hours, during daylight hours late winter/early spring) over montane snows from Lillehammer unto Østerdalen, and presented him to King Inge II for safekeeping.  (Håkon IV eventually succeeded King Inge II, in April of A.D.1217, 11 years later).

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Those were violent times in Norway! — notice that King Inge immediately followed the truncated reigns of King Håkon III (who ruled less than 2 years) and boy-king Guttorm (who ruled less than 4 months), both of whom intriguing insiders had assassinated by poison.

Nowadays the amazing skiing of Birch-leg heroes Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka, with baby Håkon IV, is memorialized by Norway’s annual skiing event, Birkebeinerrennet (“Birkebeiner race”), a cross-country skiathlon conducted during March – about 35 miles, with contestants carrying a 3.5-kilogram backpack (to approximate the body weight of the not-yet-2-year-old infant Håkon IV).

Norway’s commemorative Birkebeinerrennet skiing event

[photo credit: Faster Skier]

Obviously, Norwegians take their skiing quite seriously.

><> JJSJ profjjsj@aol.com

[photo credit: Leader Telegram]

Lillehammer heraldry

REFERENCES

(1) In Norwegian, “birk” = “birch”;  “bein” = “leg”.

(2) The patrilinear ancestry of Håkon IV Håkonsson traces back to Norway’s famous Viking king Harald Hardrada, and from him back to Norway’s first nationwide king, Harald Fairhair: Harald “Fairhair” begat Sigurd Haraldsson, who begat Halfdan Sigurdsson, who begat Sigurd “Syr” Halfdansson, who begat Harald “Hardrada” Sigurdsson, who begat Olaf “Kyrre” (i.e., “the Peaceful”) Haraldsson, who begat Magnus “Barefoot” Olafsson, who begat Harald “Gilli-Krist” (i.e., “Christ’s servant”) Magnusson, who begat Sigurd “Munn” (i.e., “the Mouth”) Haraldsson, who begat Sverre Sigurdsson, who begat Håkon III Sverreson, who begat Håkon IV Håkonsson [who was later known as Håkon Gamli (i.e., “the Old”) to distinguish him from his own son, Håkon V Håkonsson].  See the 2 genealogical charts on pages 235 & 237 in John Sephton’s translation of Karl Jonsson’s SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), cited above.


 

 

SCIENTISTS BLUNDER, TRYING TO RADIOCARBON-DATE VIKING BONES, FAILING TO ADJUST FOR SEAFOOD DIETS

SCIENTISTS  BLUNDER,  TRYING  TO  RADIOCARBON-DATE  VIKING  BONES,  FAILING  TO  ADJUST  FOR  SEAFOOD  DIETS

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Viking bones unearthed at mass burial site at Repton, Derbyshire, England   (CNN photo from Ashley Strickland article 2-2-AD2018)

Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cuts and cleaves wood upon the earth.  (Psalm 141:7)

It’s hard to understand why serious amounts of radioactive Carbon 14 are “missing”, in Viking bones, unless you realize that much of it was never there to start with.

GreatHeathenArmy-pic-map.HistoryChannel

GREAT  HEATHEN  ARMY     (History Channel)

The “Great Heathen Army” invaded England, from Scandinavia, during the latter part of the A.D. 800s (specifically, the A.D. 860s  and 870s), replacing previous Viking “hit-and-run” raiding with seizure and occupation of English lands: Nordic Vikings by the thousands had arrived, with intentions to stay!(1)

The raids on England escalated further [i.e., escalated beyond quick hit-and-run plundering] in 865/6, when ‘a great heathen army’ took up winter quarters in East Anglia.  …  The leaders appear to have included Ivar the Boneless and his brother Halfdan, sons of the [Viking] Ragnar Lodbrok, as well as another ‘king’ called Bagsecq, and several ‘earls’ …. The annals in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle afford a good sense of the course of the [great heathen] army’s campaign in the late 860s, as it moved [often on horseback] from East Anglia into Northumbria in 866, from Northumbria into Mercia in 867, and back north into Northumbria in 868, before returning via Mercia to East Anglia in 869.  …  The disarticulated [skeletal] remains of at least 250 people (mainly men in their prime, but also including some women), from the charnel excavated at Repton, Derbyshire, in 1980-6 … [appears to represent the Great Heathen Army]known to have wintered at Repton in 873-4; and it has been suggested that the charnel represents the mass burial of members of the army who died at this time from an epidemic of some kind.

[Quoting Simon Keynes, THE OXFORD ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE VIKINGS (Oxford University Press, 1999; edited by Peter Sawyer), page 52-55.]

IVAR “the Boneless” Ragnarsson photo credit: AncientPages.com

Ironically, skeletal remains of those vicious Vikings, tested by radiocarbon methods, have illustrated once again that radiometric dating is not the always-accurate-and-authoritative “sacred cow” that we have been told it is.(2)

Can we confidently use Carbon 14 radiometric dating, on a disinterred skeleton, to discern when someone died, centuries ago? If a portion of the expected Carbon 14 is “missing” in a Viking skeleton, could it be that it never was there in the first place? In particular, must we sometimes qualify some Carbon 14 testing outcomes by eyewitness reports that describe the deceased’s diet?

As we shall see, investigating this question requires collecting empirical science data, yet the ultimate answer requires forensic science analysis, including verified reports from reliable eyewitnesses.(3)

Consider the case of a mass burial of about 249 or 250 skeletons in Derbyshire, England. Do these skeletons represent Vikings who belonged to the Great Heathen Army [Old English: mycel hæþen here], Scandinavian warriors who over-wintered in the Derbyshire village of Repton during A.D. 873/874?

Because eyewitnesses indisputably reported the Great Heathen Army’s historical presence, then and there, many modern historians concluded that the 249+ mass-grave skeletons (in Derbyshire) were those of Scandinavian Vikings who invaded England as the “Great Heathen Army”, during A.D. 865-879.(1)

However, some empirical science investigators, using routine Carbon 14 radiometric dating methods, rejected that timeframe as matching the buried bones, arguing that the bones must be a century or so older, based upon the residual Carbon 14 found inside the unearthed bones.(4)

Archaeological evidence for the Viking Great Army that invaded England in AD 865 is focused particularly on the area around St. Wytan’s church in Repton in Derbyshire.  Large numbers of burials excavated here in the 1980s have been attributed to the over-wintering of the Great Army in AD 873-874.  Many of the remains were deposited in a charnel, while others were buried in graves with Scandinavian-style grave goods.  Although numismatic [i.e., minted coins] evidence corroborated the belief that these were the remains of the Great Army, radiocarbon results [which were routinely interpreted at chronology ranges in the A.D. 600s or 700s] have tended to disagree.

[Quoting from page 1 of the ANTIQUITY article by Jarman, Biddle, et al. — see Footnote # 2 below.]

So, who was right and who was wrong?

Did the disinterred bones belong to men who died in the A.D. 600s or 700s? If so, why was there no historical record of a Viking army occupying Derbyshire during the A.D. 600s or 700s?

But, if the hundreds of Nordic skeletons were more recent, representing deaths that occurred during the latter half of the A.D. 800s (consistent with the time when the Great Heathen Army was occupying Derbyshire and its environs), why did the radiocarbon measurements suggest that those buried had died a century or more before Derbyshire was overwhelmed by hundreds of Scandinavian Vikings?

Notice that England’s historical records not only provided eyewitness accounts of the Great Heathen Army invading and occupying Derbyshire by the thousands, during the late A.D. 800s, English historical records also indicate that the opposite was true in earlier centuries – i.e., Derbyshire was virtually free of seafaring Nordic invaders during the A.D. 600s and 700s.(1),(2)

As a forensic science problem, the radiometric dating results clashed with all of the available eyewitness accounts – proving that something was wrong with either the historical records or the radiocarbon analysis. Were the eyewitness accounts in error? Or was the radiometric dating methodology invalid?

Of course, Carbon 14 radiometric dating methods utilize several assumptions.(2),(5) So, if one of the basic assumptions is invalid (i.e., incorrect), the conclusions that rely on that erroneous assumption will likewise be invalid (i.e., incorrect).

Could it be that one of the usual assumptions, used in Carbon 14 radiometric dating, is wrong, for measuring time-of-death data, for human skeletons such as those deposited in the mass grave at Repton, in Derbyshire?

To answer this question, consider the basic logic underlying radiometric dating:

The carbon-dating technique cannot be used to date rocks … but it can be used to date things that were once living—things that contain carbon. Here’s how it works. Sometimes nitrogen 14 changes into carbon 14 high in the atmosphere [where sunlight contacts air]. Over time, however, the carbon 14 decays back into nitrogen 14. Since plants “breathe” [i.e., take in] carbon dioxide, their leaves, stems, and seeds contain some carbon 14 in their structures along with the more common isotope, carbon 12. Once they stop living, they stop taking in new carbon 14 [via photosynthesis processes that require the plants to be living] and the unstable carbon 14 already there [especially in the form of digestible carbohydrates] begins to decay back into nitrogen 14, while the stable carbon 12 remains. By measuring the amount of carbon 14 left sometime after the plant dies, you can calculate (in theory) how long ago the plant died. Since animals eat plants [or eat animals that eat plants], their deaths can be dated in the same way.

[Quoting John D. Morris, THE GEOLOGY BOOK (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2007), page 50.]  And, it is assumed, that humans ingest (and release) C-14 the same as do animals.

Thus, the “normal” radiometric dating scenario presumes that human skeletons will contain organic material—with steadily decaying Carbon 14—that is traceable to plant photosynthesis that incorporated atmospheric carbon dioxide into plant carbohydrates, such as fruit sugars or starches within grains or root vegetables.(5)

Moreover, as herbivores graze on plant food, radiocarbon within photosynthesis-fixed carbohydrates can be converted metabolically into animal proteins—such as amino acids derived from eating terrestrial livestock like cattle, sheep, goats, or swine.(4)  So humans can acquire Carbon 14 directly, from eating plants, as well as indirectly, from eating herbivores (or from eating carnivores who ate herbivores).

Carbon14-cycle-diagram.HowStuffWorks

Notice that the vital assumption here, which quickly affects the mathematics of radiometric dating, is the assumption that human skeletons contain residual Carbon 14 acquired from predominantly “terrestrial” (i.e., land-food-based) diets.

However, eating a lot of finfish (such as cod, salmon, trout, herring, etc.), and/or shellfish (such as shrimp or crab), does not fit this vital assumption.(6)  Yet what kind of diet were the Scandinavian Vikings known for?  Seafood, especially fish – and lot so it!  So don’t look for fish to have the same concentration of Carbon 14 that one receives from eating bread, beef, beets, or dairy products.(4),(6)

Meanwhile, the metabolic difference in Carbon 14, between “terrestrial” and “marine” diets, requires that radiocarbon dating methods be adjusted, to account for how a mostly-marine (i.e., fish-dominated) diet produces human radiocarbon counts that are much less than diets comprised of mostly-terrestrial (i.e., more plant-derived) foods.(4),(5),(6)

This dietary reality is discussed, below, in a radiocarbon study of bones from Greenland Vikings, whose habit of eating fish (and other seafood) is historically well-documented (and undisputed).

Bone samples from the Greenland Viking colony provide us with a unique opportunity to test and use 4C dating of remains of humans who depended upon food of mixed marine and terrestrial origin. We investigated the skeletons of 27 Greenland Norse people excavated from churchyard burials from the late 10th to the middle 15th century. The stable carbon isotopic composition (813C) of the bone collagen reveals that the diet of the Greenland Norse changed dramatically from predominantly terrestrial food at the time of Eric the Red around AD 1000 to predominantly marine food toward the end of the settlement period around AD 1450. We find that it is possible to 14C-date these bones of mixed marine and terrestrial origin precisely when proper correction for the marine reservoir effect (the 14C age difference between terrestrial and marine organisms) is taken into account. From the dietary information obtained via the S13C values of the bones we have calculated individual reservoir age corrections for the measured 14C ages of each skeleton. The reservoir age corrections were calibrated by comparing the 14C dates of 3 highly marine skeletons with the 14C dates of their terrestrial grave clothes. The calibrated ages of all 27 skeletons from different parts of the Norse settlement obtained by this method are found to be consistent with available historical and archaeological chronology. . . .

        Bone Dating

The 14C dating of bone is by now technically well established, relying on refined chemical extraction techniques combined with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) (for example, Brown et al. 1988). Since very small, even submilligram-sized, samples of bone collagen can be dated with AMS, it has become possible to select the best samples from a skeleton, minimizing problems with degradation and contamination. If the bone is reasonably well preserved, AMS 14C ages as well as stable carbon isotopic ratios can be determined reliably for skeletal remains of archaeological interest without destroying the object. If the bone collagen is of terrestrial origin, the measured (conventional) 14C age is converted into a true calendar age by using the global tree-ring calibration curve (Stuiver and Polach 1977). However, this simple procedure is not applicable when the bone collagen is derived in part from marine carbon which, due to the marine reservoir effect, appears several hundred 14C years older than the corresponding terrestrial carbon. This seriously constrains the dating of bones of people who have had access to food protein from the sea. Therefore, archaeologists have generally distrusted the precision of 14C dates of human bones. But precise 14C dating of human bones is so attractive to the archaeologist that it is highly desirable to add bone to the list of datable material. To extend the calibration of measured 14C ages to “marine” bones one needs to know both the marine food fraction and the reservoir age, that is, the age difference between the atmosphere and the particular region of the sea at the time the protein was produced.”

[Quoting from Jette Arneborg, Jan Heinemeier, Niels Lynnerup, Henrik L. Nielsen, Niels Rud, & Arny E. Sveinbjornsdottir, “Change of Diet of the Greenland Vikings Determined from Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis and 14C Dating of their Bones”, RADIOCARBON, 41(2):157-168 (1999), at page 157.]

In other words, unless the dietary difference is adjusted for, the skeletons of piscivorous Vikings (who ate literally tons of fish during their lives!) appear to be about a century (or more!) “older” than what they really are, because they appear to have been decaying (and thus losing) Carbon 14 much longer than they actually have been.(4)

Thus, the simple reality, of course, is that the Viking bones’ (supposedly) “missing” portion of the residual Carbon 14 was never there to start with!

So what is the take-away lesson we can learn from these skeletons?

For starters, note this limerick lesson regarding the relevant forensic evidences:

SEAFOOD  DIETS  SKEWED  CARBON  14  “DATING”  OF  VIKING  BONES
    300 skeletons were found,
    Decaying C-14  in the ground;
        But the bone “dates’ were odd,
        Due to diets of cod
    Proving carbon “dates” might not be sound.

Scientific sleuthing, like detective work in a whodunit mystery, requires more than observing physical evidences(3) – we need to learn from reliable eyewitnesses with personal knowledge of the relevant events, in order to properly interpret the evidentiary meaning of physical clues that we see today. Unlike the empirical science practice of observing experiments in the present, past events are no longer visible, so the need for reliable eyewitnesses is an unavoidable reality.  Eyewitness reports need to be verified as reliable (or not), of course, so observing physical evidence is useful for corroborating (or contradicting) an eyewitness report.(3)

The other side of the coin, however, is that empirical science findings must be critiqued by reliable eyewitness reports, if past events are being investigated.

It is a forensic science fundamental that we need reliable witnesses to understand physical effects caused by unique events of the no-longer-observable past. Thus, unusual historical events—such specific battles, or crimes, or traffic accidents, or a worldwide flood)—require more than merely observing physical effects that exist in the present, such as fingerprints, rubber skid-marks, or blood-spatter.(3),(7)

When it comes to reliable eyewitnesses, who can report true facts about our origins, we need Genesis. God is the perfect eyewitness: He was there, He observed it all, He remembers perfectly, He is always truthful, and He is perfectly capable of communicating accurate and relevant information in human language. If we don’t trust Genesis it is our own fault (John 5:44-47).

References

(1) John Haywood, THE PENGUIN HISTORICAL ATLAS OF THE VIKINGS (London: Penguin Books, 1995), pages 13 & 62-63.

(2) Recently evolutionists have been embarrassed by the presence of Carbon 14 (a/k/a “C-14”) in coal, oil, fossilized wood, natural gas samples, and even in many kinds of dinosaur bones, where evolutionary theories do not permit C-14 to be.  See, e.g., Jake Hebert, “Do Young C-14 Results Reflect Contamination?”, ACTS & FACTS, 42(7):20 (July 2013);  Brian Thomas & Vance Nelson, “Radiocarbon in Dinosaur and Other Fossils”, CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY QUARTERLY, 51(4):299-311 (2015). In this study it is the proportional lack of Carbon 14 that presents a dating problem to the empirical scientists who glibly dismiss the applicational relevance of forensic science principles.

(3) James J. S. Johnson, “There’s Nothing Like an Eyewitness”, ACTS & FACTS, 45(12):20 (December 2016) (“Do we need reliable eyewitness reports to know the real truth about non-repeating historic events? In a word, yes.  After the fact, historical causes routinely leave behind physical effects, often with observable characteristics such as fingerprints, tire-tread impressions, or DNA. These can provide reliable inferences about what occurred at a specific location and time… [yet], for complete accuracy, there is nothing like a reliable eyewitness [who] can report relevant observations—about who, what, how, or why—that otherwise could leave a mystery misunderstood or unsolved. … Eyewitness testimony relies upon honesty, opportunity to observe, an accurate memory, and testimonial clarity. These forensic principles apply to the challenging task of reconstructing unique actions that happened in the past, because these events (unless recorded on film or video) can’t be seen in the present. This applies to learning about past occurrences as different as the sinking of a German warship or how sea creatures got fossilized along with land-roaming dinosaurs.”).

(4) Catrine L. Jarman, Martin Biddle, Tom Higham & Christopher Bronk Ramsey, “The Viking Great Army in England:  New Dates from the Repton Charnel”, ANTIQUITY (online version, 2018), pages 1-3 of 17 (posted February 2018, at https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2017.196 ).  Pages 2-3 of this article says: “Although several samples [perhaps from clothing] were consistent with a ninth-century [A.D.] date, a number [of samples, especially those taken form human bones] dated to the seventh and eighth centuries AD, and thus seemed to belong to an earlier phase of activity … [so] identification of those buried in the [Repton] charnel as members of the Great Army has been brought into question. [citing prior literature].”  Pages 6-7 of this article discuss the need to adjust radiocarbon-dating calculations to somehow account for the lower levels of C-14 originally accumulated in the bones of people who habitually eat large amounts of fish and other seafood.

(5) John D. Morris, THE GEOLOGY BOOK (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2007), page 50.

(6) Jette Arneborg, Jan Heinemeier, Niels Lynnerup, Henrik L. Nielsen, Niels Rud, & Árný E. Sveinbjörnsdóttir, “Change of Diet of the Greenland Vikings Determined from Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis and 14C Dating of their Bones”, RADIOCARBON, 41(2):157-168 (1999).

(7) James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Critics Flunk Forensic Science 101”, ACTS & FACTS, 41(3):8-9 (March 2012).


 

In Appreciation of Dr. Brian Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data Website, Now Quashed by University of Hull Management

In Appreciation of Dr. Brian Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data Website,

Now Quashed by University of Hull Management

Dr. Brian Tompsett/ Univ. of Hull photo

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.   (Romans 13:7)

Here is an open letter (the original of which has been mailed overseas) to her royal majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, by which I am trying to apply the principle of Romans 13:7 — giving credit where credit is due — recognizing the valuable family history contributions of computer genealogist/professor Dr. Brian Tompsett, of the University of Hull.



Dr. James J. S. Johnson
[contact information omitted]

21st December, A.D. 20017

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
England, U.K.

Re: Royal Genealogical Data website,
formerly posted by Prof. Brian Tompsett / University of Hull

Dear Queen Elizabeth, your Royal Majesty:

Greetings, from the other side of the Pond – may your CHRISTmas season be filled with gladness and joy, as you contemplate how the Christ of Bethlehem, in His all-wise beneficence, selected you as Great Britain’s monarch, for all of these many years. May He continue to bless your reign and your Realm.

The glorious heritage that you have and represent, unto your Realm and to the world (which continues to be providentially blessed by the deeds of the British Empire, its leadership, and its language), has been a personal blessing to me for more than 60 years now. As a descendant of John of Gaunt, I share some of your forefathers and foremothers, so I have a personal interest in appreciating the family history that you biogenetically connect to, by God’s grace and providence. Dr. Bill Cooper, of Staines in Middlesex, introduced me to the wonderful world of British royal family genealogy, and I am all the richer therefor.

Thereafter I came upon the magnificent blend of historical research and computer science, the Royal Genealogical Data website (which was provided online pro bono publico) produced by Professor Brian Tompsett of the University of Hull – the informational wealth of which cannot be priced in pounds or dollars. For many years I used the Internet-accessible data of Brian Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data website, as a historian who has taught in American universities and colleges, as well as on 9 different cruise ships – and in all of my teaching years I have tried to promote goodwill for the British royals.

For example, I used Brian Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data within this online article: “Christmas, Vikings, and the Providence of God” [posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/christmas-vikings-providence-god/   —  which refers to genealogies linked to the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and also to the Battle of Hastings], showing that Viking ancestors begat progeny, including descendants providentially responsible for the English Bible (AV) and even for George Washington, the historic father of America.)

Sometimes, sad to say, one isn’t properly grateful for valuable information until it disappears.

However, the University of Hull’s management dissolved Dr. Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data website – without warning it deleted the Royal Genealogical Data webpages [see below post-script] – so Americans (like me) no longer can use that online genealogical data now.

Please understand: this letter does not present a “personal” or “political” dispute. Rather, what is mentioned in the post-script (below) is provided only to give context to my appreciation for the online data (while it existed), and to show why I now miss it so. (Now that it’s gone, I better see its value.)

Perhaps your Royal Majesty could devise a way to provide that same electronic information, online to the world, so that Professor Brian Tompsett’s professional labor of love can live on, thereby gracing the cyber-world (including historian-professors like me), pro bono publico, with the genealogical heritage of your royal family. This user-friendly informational legacy is an asset worth salvaging!

Professor Tompsett does not know that I am writing this – I am writing on my own behalf, in hopes that you can and will do something to restore that Internet data to the world. (Maybe a Royal Family website could be invented.) In any event, I thank God for His providential workings in your royal family and kin.

In closing, I have the honour to be an American fan, of you and your regal family, and its illustrious kin (going back many centuries), all of whom our great God has so frequently guided and employed to implement His providential care and kindnesses unto Western Civilization and to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Most respectfully, one of your admiring fans in the State of Texas*
(*which adopted English common law as the foundation of Texas law,
by a legislative act during the 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas),

James J. S. Johnson
JD, ThD, MSGeog, CIHE, CPEE, CNHG
Chaplain, historian, lecturer, etc.

P.S., on information and belief, this is my (sad) understanding of how the University of Hull has – disappointingly – discontinued its prior practice of hosting the Royal Genealogical Data website that was laboriously produced by Professor Brian Tompsett and his team. Frankly, it seems (to me) like the wasteful burning of a cyber-palace (and I recall how horrible it was when your own palace burned), but this was destroying an imperial cyber-treasure of Britannic royal family heritage information.

The “management” of the University of Hull decided to take down all web pages except those used for advertising and recruitment. The website was considered a “marketing tool only” for use of the marketing department. Professor Brian Tompsett (and his computer science team) were not warned or otherwise informed, before their web-pages (i.e., those of all individual staff and students) were just canceled — with no advance notice. Even those web-pages, that Professor Brian Tompsett and his team (who teach web technology for the University of Hull) formerly used for teaching and research purposes, were removed as having “no strategic value for the institution”! Professor Tompsett was not able to timely move (or timely protest) the abrupt, arbitrary, and academic quality-quashing abuses of institutional authority.

Since Professor Tompsett’s Royal Genealogical Data project ran from ~ A.D. 1993 it is a terrible loss. The result of these wasteful actions are sad: your Royal Majesty’s family (and all of its dignified historical heritage, linking to all of the best of Western Civilization for many centuries), is cheated and discounted, depriving the Internet world of British Royal Family fans from the user-friendly ability to research and appreciate the God-blessed value of Great Britain’s historic role (and connectedness) for Western Civilization. This is like revisionist history by vandalism.


Of course, it is unlikely that her Britannic Majesty will actually get to read the above letter  —  Who knows?  —  yet it would be nice if Great Britain’s Parliament would declare that wonderful computer program as a national heritage treasure, like a historic castle, because that user-friendly royal genealogy information/program is truly an informational legacy worthy of preservation and public educational access.

Meanwhile, I have tried to “give credit where credit is due”.

Just thinking about all of that Providential history reminds me of Psalm 102:18, which says: “This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.”   [See also “People Yet to Be Created”,  Acts & Facts (November 2014), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/people-yet-be-created  .%5D


 

A TALE OF TWO VIKING KINGS: THE RIVALRY OF NORSE CO-KINGS MAGNUS OLAFSSON AND HARALD HARDRADA

A TALE OF TWO VIKING KINGS:
THE RIVALRY OF NORSE CO-KINGS MAGNUS OLAFSSON AND HARALD HARDRADA

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, CNHG

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (PROVERBS 15:1)

King Magnus was Harald’s nephew,
But Harald claimed royal right, too;
Harald’s might was well-known,
So he soon shared the throne —
Thus, the co-kings of Norway were two.

Of the other, each king was jealous,
They both, for glory, were zealous;
Once, for a dock spot…
King Magnus got hot!
(At least, that’s what Snorri would tell us.)

“Weapons!” – Magnus’ men went to arm!
But Harald foresaw needless harm;
Harald yielded his space,
Found a new “parking” place,
And withdrew – with a diplomat’s charm.

‘Twas not that Harald feared, to fight,
Nor was timid, to cast a sound-bite;
Though Harald was strong,
The showdown was wrong —
So (for now) he backed down, from the slight.

“Harald parked first!” — someone prattles,
“Ja, let’s fight!” — a sword soon rattles;
But ignoring the nuisance,
King Harald used prudence;
Said Harald:  “you must pick your battles.”
><>  JJSJ

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (PROVERBS 16:32)

COMMENTARY: One of the tense moments, during the unesay co-kingship of Magnus and Harald Hardrada, occurred when Hardrada “parked” his boat in the best docking spot. Oalf insited that Hardrarad move his boat to allow Olaf to “park” there. Before a fight broke out Hardrada conceded to Olaf’s haughty demand – although, interestingly, Olaf died (maybe accidently) soon afterwards, leaving Harald Hardrada as sole king of Norway.

How did this situation arise? Norway’s King Magnus (“the Good”) Olafsson was the illegitimate son of Norway’s King Olaf II (“the Holy”), but he did not promptly ascend to the throne at his father’s death. Rather, Magnus then fled Norway — and the Norwegian kingdom was ruled by the powerful Knut the Great (a/k/a “Canute”, who ruled Norway, Denmark, and England, till he died in AD1035); Knut was himself son of Denmark’s King Sveyn Forkbeard, who was son of the famous Viking Harald Bluetooth, king of Denmark and Norway. After Knut died in AD1035, Magnus immediately became king of Norway – and in AD1042 added the kingdom of Denmark to his realm. However, during AD1046, the wealthy Norwegian Viking Harald Hardrada returned from his exploits in Russia (and in the Byzantine Empire, where he had also been adventuring, for years), and Hardrada demanded a rulership interest in Norway, considering his own claim to the Norwegian throne to be superior to that of King Magnus (Hardrada’s nephew). A co-kingship arrangement was negotiated, so that Norway was jointly ruled by King Magnus and (co-king) Harald Hardrada, with Olaf having first rank of the pair. Friction and jealousy routinely infected the relationship, or course, and – ironically – Magnus died in late AD1047, with the cause of his death still being questioned. King Harald Hardrada himself died in battle, at Stamford Bridge, on 25 September, AD1066, while trying to invade England. Harald Hardrada’s linear descendants include England’s King James I, sponsor of the KING JAMES BIBLE.  (See JJSJ’s “Impact of Norway’s King Harald Hardrada on the British Isles”, posted at https://www.norwegiansocietyoftexas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Hardrada-Somerled.JJSJ-family-tree-CHART.pdf ), with further information on Hardrada’s family lineage (through King Somerled’s progeny) being reported within JJSJ’s “To Globally Sow His Word, Did God Use Vikings?”, posted at https://www.norwegiansocietyoftexas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/VikingHistory-KingJames-ancestry.corrected-AD2012.pdf .)

For more on the Viking history of Norway’s co-kings Olaf and Harald Hardrada, see pages 67-77 of Snorri Sturluson’s KING HARALD’S SAGA: HARALD HARDRADI OF NORWAY (Penguin Classics, 1966, a translation by Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson, of part of Sturluson’s HEIMSKRINGLA: HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF NORWAY).   This episode form Viking history illustrates the timeless wisdom of PROVERBS 15:1 & 16:32, i.e.:  “Pick your battles” strategically;  don’t just fight over a parking spot!

ON THE CHRISTIAN CONVERSIONS OF OLAF TRYGGVASON, LEIF EIRIKSSON, AND OTHER VIKINGS: FROM VALKYRIE BATTLE-CHANTS TO ANGELIC CHORUSES

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (LUKE 15:10, quoting the Lord Jesus Christ)

ON  THE  CHRISTIAN  CONVERSIONS  OF  OLAF  TRYGGVASON,  LEIF EIRIKSSON,  AND  OTHER  VIKINGS:  FROM  VALKYRIE  BATTLE-CHANTS  TO  ANGELIC  CHORUSES

Col. John Eidsmoe  &  Dr. James J. S. Johnson,   co-authors

(borrowing the tune of “WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING”)

ORIGINAL CHORUS:
When Viking eyes are smiling,
Ja, ‘tis like a day in spring;
In the din of Viking plunder
You can hear the valkyries sing.

Yet Viking ears kept hearing
Of life lived a better way,
And when Viking ears were listening
Some the Gospel would obey.

1st STANZA:
Vikings made many cry,
And it’s no surprise why:
They were vicious, as they were tall;
Seizing loot made them smile,
As their victims they’d rile:
Viking swords doomed many to fall.

But laughter is wrong,
When it fills pirate song:
As pillaging underlies glee.
As some lauded Thor,
They spilt others’ gore:
Such woe! – And such tragedy!

CHORUS REPEAT:
When Viking eyes are smiling,
Ja, ‘tis like a day in spring;
In the din of Viking plunder
You can hear the valkyries sing.

Yet Viking ears kept hearing
Of life lived a better way,
And when Viking ears were listening
Some the Gospel would obey.

2nd STANZA:
Olaf T. played a part,
Sharing truth from his heart:
Preaching Christ, Olaf shone a true light;
And it was, before long,
Lucky Leif joined the song:
Trusting Christ, Leif believed what was right.

Telling father, mother,
Sister, and brothers:
Soon Leif, on Vinland, had landed;
Ja, on ocean-wave foam,
Leif sailed east, for home:
Yet stopped, to save some who were stranded.

LATTER CHORUS:
Viking eyes now kindly smiled,
Good news at the Althing;
Unto God now reconciled,
Christian songs Vikings sing!

Thus Viking hearts had real joy,
Unto idols no more to pray;
For when Viking hearts are Christian,
It’s a feasting holiday!

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (LUKE 15:10, quoting the Lord Jesus Christ)

THORBJORN, THE EMIGRANT, MAN OF FAITH AND ACTION

3000123_BVR_Vikingos en la Tierra Verde

THORBJORN,  THE  EMIGRANT,  MAN  OF  FAITH  AND ACTION

With good wealth Thorbjorn had been blessed,
But that changed — his lot was distressed;
Since change was a must,
In God he did trust
Shipped out, he and his, sailing west.

COMMENTARY: See Acts 17:11-12 (regarding demographic migrations). See also Ruth 1:1-2 & 1:6 (illustrating how necessities of life lead to family migrations). The adventures of Thorbjorn the Viking are reported in Snorri Sturluson, THE VINLAND SAGAS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA (Penguin Classics, 1965; translated by Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Palsson), at pages 78-94.