This illustration, created by the artist Wilhelm Wetlesen (c. 1871-1925), depicts the moments before a crime occurred that would threaten to create a rift between a Norwegian king and his son. Kneeling down, with his head just below the tow rope, is a man named Hall Otryggsson, a well-liked member of the entourage of King Harald III of Norway (r. 1045-1066). Hall was a tough individual—in fact, his nickname was Kodran’s-Killer, and the way he gained that title is self-explanatory. With this in mind, we can bring our attention to the man standing to the right of Hall Otryggsson, charging in the opposite direction of the ship. This man is Thormod Eindridason, a good friend of King Harald’s son, Magnus. As it happened, Thormod was a kinsman of Kodran (the aforementioned man killed by Hall), and although it had been years since his relative’s death, he decided to avenge the wrong done to his family then and there. According to the Ljosvetninga Saga, and Snorri Sturluson’s King Harald’s Saga (for which this illustration was produced), Thormod Eindridason succeeded in his impromptu quest for vengeance, killing Hall Otryggsson without any stealth or subtlety. As the attack was carried out in broad daylight for all to see, everyone knew what had occurred, and therefore, factions quickly formed. These opposed camps were centered around King Harald and his son Magnus—the former wanting to execute Thormod, whereas Magnus wanted to protect him. It was reportedly an intense standoff for a time, but father and son were ultimately reconciled, and no severe punishment for Thormod Eindridason was recorded as having occurred.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- Heimskringla, by Snorri Sturluson and translated by Lee Hollander. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964, 2018.
- King Harald’s Saga, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Magnus Mangusson and Hermann Pálsson. New York: Penguin Books, 1966, 2005.