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The Ruthlessness in King Harald's Saga - Essay Example

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May 29, 2015 The Ruthlessness of King Harold If one was to ask most historians to describe King Harold of Norway in one word, that word must be “ruthless.” In Snorri Sturluson’s classic King Harold’s Saga, he wastes no time and begins his description of Harold by referring to him by that very nickname, “Ruthless.” Given to him by subsequent historians, the label was well-earned, and by using it to describe King Harold, Sturluson deliberately emphasizes the character of the man, and the innate violence and inhumanity that the former Viking mercenary harbored not only towards his enemies, but against those whom he ruled…
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The Ruthlessness in King Haralds Saga
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Download file to see previous pages Indeed, it would be easiest to show Harold’s ruthlessness and cruelty towards those whom he fought and conquered, as his Viking blood would often boil and he could not resist killing and maiming those whom he beat in battle. But King Harold’s true ruthlessness and inhumanity showed through in his treatment of his own subjects who did not do exactly as he wanted, his unending desire to plunder and terrorize neighboring kingdoms (like that of the Danes to his south), and continuing efforts to own to expand his ruling empire to lands far from his native Norway. King Harold of Norway served as a transitionary figure, wedged between a barbaric Europe which crawled out of the early Middle Ages--filled with Viking plundering and horrific feats of violence against the people of mainland Europe and what is now Great Britain--into a new era away from the senseless and violent plundering of the Nordic tribes into a honor and land-based fealty hierarchy of rule. King Harold would ultimately meet his doom on the battlefield in his final quest to expand his empire. The last of the feared Scandinavian kings of northern Europe (Sturluson 2005, 9), Harold’s rule was pockmarked by raids against Denmark, iron-fisted rule and intimidation by fear of his own people of Norway, and the attempted expansion of his empire into Britain (Sturuson 2005, 9). Harold was brutal to his enemies and dealt ruthlessly with any opposition to him. His inhumanity to his people was even glorified in poem. In the words of the poet Thjodolf (Sturuson 2005, 161): Resourceful King Harold Punishes pride in his subjects; The king’s guilty men Pay a heavy penalty. The punishment they get Is earned by their misdeeds; Each man gets his due deserts; Harold dispenses justice. Like most rulers of the time, Harold was very generous to those whom he saw as his friends or allies, but ruled his subjects with an iron fist. When King Magnus of Denmark died, Harold had his eye trained on subjugating all of Denmark to Norwegian rule-- his rule. His actions toward the Danish people best illustrates the ruthlessness that King Harold had in his heart when he wanted to subjugate a people to his rule. As he took his Norwegian army southward into Denmark, raiding and plundering all that he could take, and stealing the wealth of the Danes to take back to Norway with him, without even subjugating Denmark. He continued to plunder Denmark each summer thereafter, in order to terrorize the people of Denmark and to establish his dominance over them (Sturluson 2005, 81). Harold killed hundreds, and the corpses piled upon each other and the Danes trembled each year in anticipation of his plundering and brutality he brought to the people. Of course, there were battles against other Kings of other lands. King Svein of Denmark was constantly at battle with Harold of Norway. But how Harold treated his subjects is more interesting to the causal historian such as this writer. Of course, all rulers were inhumane towards their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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