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Haki, Hake or Haco, the brother of Hagbarðr, was a famous Scandinavian sea-king, in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in the 12th century Gesta Danorum, and in 13th-century sources including Ynglinga saga, Nafnaþulur, and Vǫlsunga saga. If historical, he would have lived in the 5th century.

Ynglinga saga[]

Snorri Sturluson wrote in the Ynglinga saga that Haki had amassed a great force of warriors and sometimes plundered together with his brother Hagbarðr. When Haki considered that he had amassed enough wealth and followers to make himself the king of Sweden, he proceeded with his army against the Swedish royal seat at Uppsalir. Haki was a brutal warrior and he had twelve champions, among whom was the legendary warrior Starkaðr the Old.

The Swedish king Hugleikr had also gathered a large army and was supported by the two champions Svipdagr and Geigaðr.

On the Fyrisvellir (Fyris Wolds), south of Uppsalir, there was a great battle in which the Swedish army was defeated. Haki and his men captured the Swedish champions Svipdagr and Geigaðr and then they attacked the 'shield-circle' around the Swedish king and slew him and his two sons.

Haki and his warriors subdued the Swedish provinces and Haki made himself the king of Sweden. Then he happily sat in peace for three years while his warriors travelled far and wide and amassed fortunes.

The previous king, Hugleikr, had two cousins named Eiríkr and Jǫrundr, who had become famous by killing Guðlaugr, the king of Hálogaland. When they learnt that king Haki's champions were gone plundering, they assembled a large force and steered towards Sweden. They were joined by many Swedes who wanted to reinstall the Ynglingar on the Swedish throne.

The two brothers entered Mälaren, went towards Uppsalir, and landed on the Fyrisvellir. There they were met by king Haki, who had a considerably smaller force. Haki was, however, a brutal enemy who killed many men and lastly Eiríkr, who held the banner of the two brothers. Jǫrundr and his men fled to the ships, but Haki was mortally wounded.

Haki asked for a longship, which was loaded with his dead warriors and their weapons. He had the sails hoisted and set fire to a piece of tar-wood, which he asked to be covered with a pile of wood. Haki was all but dead when he was laid on top of the pile. The wind was blowing towards the water and the ship departed in full flame between the small islands out into the sea. This was much talked about and it gave him great fame.

Other traditions[]

Most legends surrounding Haki are probably lost. In the Vǫlsunga saga, Guðrún and Brynhildr have a discussion on the "greatest of men" referring to a legend now lost, where Haki's sons have not yet avenged their sisters by killing the evil Sigarr (the feud with Sigarr is still going on and Hagbard has not yet been hanged):

"Good talk," says Gudrun, "let us do even so; what kings deemest thou to have been the first of all men?" Brynhild says, "The sons of Haki, and Hagbard withal; they brought to pass many a deed of fame in the warfare." Gudrun answers, "Great men certes, and of noble fame! Yet Sigar took their one sister, and burned the other, house and all; and they may be called slow to revenge the deed; why didst thou not name my brethren who are held to be the first of men as at this time?"

The Völsunga saga, translated by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson.

In Gesta Danorum (book 7), Haki (Hakon) killed Sigarr, avenging his brother Hagbarðr's death. In Gesta Danorum, Saxo Grammaticus gives Haki as a king of Denmark, and Hugleikr, called Huglet(h)us, is an Irish king. The motivation behind the attack was to show that even the furthest kingdoms of the world might not be untouched by the Danish arms.

Saxo writes that Starkaðr and Haki brought their fleet to Ireland, where the rich and greedy king Hugleikr lived. Hugleikr was never generous to an honourable man, but spent all his riches on mimes and jugglers. In spite of his avarice, Hugleikr had the great champions Geigaðr and Svipdagr. When the battle began, the jugglers and mimes panicked and fled, and only Geigaðr and Svipdagr remained to defend Hugleikr, but they fought like an entire army. Geigaðr dealt Starkaðr a wound on the head which was so severe that Starkaðr would later sing songs about it. Starkaðr killed Hugleikr and made the Irish flee. He then had the jugglers and mimes whipped and beaten, in order to humiliate them. Then the Danes brought Hugleikr's riches out to Dublin to be publicly looted, and there was so much of it that none cared for its strict division. When Haki learnt that his brother Hagbarðr had been killed by Sigarr, he avenged his brother. However, killing Sigarr was not enough to satiate his thirst for blood:

Then Hakon used his conquest to cruel purpose, and followed up his good fortune so wickedly, that he lusted for an indiscriminate massacre, and thought no forbearance should be shown to rank or sex. Nor did he yield to any regard for compassion or shame, but stained his sword in the blood of women, and attacked mothers and children in one general and ruthless slaughter.

He was soon chased away by Sigarr's son Siwald.

Sources[]

  • Nerman, B. Det svenska rikets uppkomst. Stockholm, 1925.
This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Haki (view authors). As with Myths and Folklore Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported).
Preceded by:
Hugleikr
King of Sweden
Mythic
Succeeded by
Jǫrundr


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