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Norwegian Crusaders and the Balearic Islands

Author(s): Gary B. Doxey


Source: Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 68, No. 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 139-160
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Society for the Advancement of
Scandinavian Study
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40919854 .
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NorwegianCrusadersand the
BalearicIslands

GaryB. Doxey
BrighamYoungUniversity

1108or 1109, a Norwegian fleet onitswaytotheHolyLand


attacked theBalearicislands,whichhad thenbeenin Muslim
handsforroughly twocenturies. Thisislandchain,todaya partof
Spain,is situatednear thecenter of the western basinoftheMediterra-
nean Sea. It includesthe islandsof Majorca,Minorca,Ibiza, and
Formentera. Theseislandsarenow,ofcourse,a populartourist destina-
tion.In theMiddleAges,theBalearics hada different
allure.
Theyheld
thekeyto strategic controlofthesea lanesinthewestern Mediterra-
nean,theage-oldroute desties,
whichallowedsafeandswift passagefor
medieval ships-provided theislands were in hands.1
friendly During
thethirteenth andfourteenth centuries, theBalearicislandsachieved
enormousprestigeand wealthas an emporium and stagingpost.2
Muchlessisknownaboutthesignificance oftheBalearicislandsprior
to thedefinitive Catalanconquestin 1229,althoughtheislandshad
already become an international entrepot underMuslimruleby the
1180s.AtthetimeoftheNorwegian raids,however,themorecommon
Christian perception of the Balearic islandswasthatofa piratehaven
andslaving center.
The seemingly obscureNorwegianraidson theBalearicshavea
twofold significance.First,
theycomprise a significant
partofoneofthe
This articleis based on a paperpresentedat theRockyMountainMedievaland Renais-
sanceAssociationannualmeetinginUtah StateUniversity, Logan,Utah,11-13May 1995.
1 J. H. and war: Studiesin the maritimehistory
Pryor,Geography, technology, of the
Mediterranean, 649-1571(Cambridge,1988) 91-2; J. Haywood, Dark Age navalpower
(London, 1991)113;O.R. Constable,Tradeand traders inMuslimSpain: Thecommercial
realignment oftheIberianpeninsula,900-1500(Cambridge,1994) 16-7; D. Abulafia,A
Mediterranean emporium: TheCatalan KingdomofMajorca (Cambridge,1994) 6.
2 See Abulafia,
chapters6-10, which are dedicatedto Balearic commerceafterthe
Christianconquest.

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i4-o Scandinavian Studies

mostcelebratedchaptersin thehistoryofScandinaviancrusading:the
expeditionofKingSigurSrJorsalafari. (Whetherthisexpeditionwas a
crusadeor a pilgrimageis a topicofsome debateto whichI willreturn
below.) The historyof Scandinaviancrusading,though,is greatlyin
need ofupdating.Paul Riantwrotetheonlycomprehensive treatment
in 1865,long beforethe giganticleaps forwardcrusadescholarshave
achievedin thelastdecades.3Anothernineteenth-century scholar,the
eminent ArabistReinhartDozy, describedthe Norse raidson theBalearic
islandsas partof a largerhistoryof IslamicSpain.4 Dozy had a fairly
limitedknowledgeofthesources,and he did notdeal withanyfurther
consequencesoftheattacks.Yetsubsequenthistorians ofSpain and the
Balearicislandstracetheirknowledgeoftheraidsalmostexclusively to
him.5One of mypurposesis, therefore, to presentan updated,more
criticaldescriptionof theraidsin theirbroadercontext.
Second,theraidsarerelatedto theriseto preeminence ofChristian
maritimepowers in the westernMediterranean-a fieldof inquiry
ultimately linkedto laterEuropean expansionvia theAtlantic.6The
Norse raidshavethedistinction ofpredatingall otherrecordedattacks
on the Muslim Balearic islands by a Christianforce.7Unrecorded
3 P. Riant, etpelerinages
desScandinaves en TerreSainteau tempsdesCroisades
Expeditions
(Paris,1865).For Riant, Sigurdr'sexpeditionis "la plus memorablede l'histoiredes
croisadesscandinaves"[the most memorablein Scandinaviancrusadinghistory]and
"occupela premiere placeparmitesjdrsalaferd"[occupiesfirstplaceamongthcjdrsalaferdir].
Riant,173.See pp. 181-3fora briefdiscussionof theBalearicassault.Riant'sbook also
appeared in Danish translation:P. Riant, Skandinavernes korstog og andagtsreisertil
PaUstina(1000-13S0) (Kjobenhavn,1868).
4 R. deVEspagne
etla litterature 3rded.,
Dozy,Recherches surVhistoire pendantleMoyenAge,
2 vols. (Leiden,1881)vol. 2, 323-6.
5See A. dela dominacidn islamitaenlasIslasBaleares
CampaneryFuertes,Bosquejohistdrico
(Palmade Mallorca,1888)94-6; and morerecently, G. RosselloBordoy,Vislama lesllles
Balears (Palma de Mallorca, 1968) 52-6; J. Busquets Mulet,Mallorca musulmana,in
HistoriadeMallorca,ed. J.Mascaro Pasarius(Palma de Mallorca,1978)vol. 2, 206-20.
(This sectionof Busquets' work was completedby Mascaro PasariusafterBusquets'
death.)
6 See F. FernandezArmesto,BeforeColumbus:Exploration and colonisationfromthe
Mediterranean totheAtlantic,1229-1492 (London, 1987).
7 Before
Campanerpublishedhis Bosquejo,the acceptedtimeline of Balearichistory
mistakenly includedan earliercrusadebyPisa againsttheislands,whichwas supposedto
havetakenplace in 1108.Campanerregardedthe 1108crusadeas specious,althoughhe
couldnotexplainhow ithad enteredtheliterature. Campaner,98-100.The errorwas the
resultofa faulty sixteenth-centurytranscription of a twelfth-
century epitaphin Marseille
honoringPisanswho died duringthewell-attestedsiegeofMajorca in 1115, not in 1108.
The supposedexpeditionof1108has appearedin historiesoftheBalearicislandsevenin

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Norwegian Crusaders 141

attacksbyChristianshad surelyoccurred butmostwere


previously,
probablysmalloperationsandwerewelloutsidethepailof"HolyWar,"
piracybeingthemainformofconflict in theregion.In contrast,the
Norsewereparticipating underroyalleadership in a largeexpedition
thatappearstohavebeenreligiously atleastinpart.Conse-
motivated,
quently,my second purposeis to what
investigate connection, ifany,
theNorseattacksmay havehad to later
Christian to
attempts conquer
theislands.
Theevidence indicates thatlatercrusadersknewaboutthe
Norwegian and
expedition may have found inspirationfortheirown
initsdazzlingsuccess.
assaults

Sources

ThehistoryofSigurdr's expeditiondependsheavilyonxhcKonungasqgur,
orKings'Sagas.AgripafNoregskonunga scgum, whichcouldhavebeen
as as
composed early 1190, istheearliest
survivingaccountinOldNorse
oftheexpedition totheHolyLand.Although itsuppliesa fewimpor-
tantdetails,
itstreatment isbriefandsaysnothing abouttheBalearics.8
A Latintextwritten inNorway, probablyinthe1180s,theHistoria de
antiquitate
regum Norvagiensium byTheodoricus Monachus,also re-
portsSigurdr's
journey totheeast.Theauthor of'Agrip
obviously made
useofTheodoricus5 Historia forpartsofhiswork;butwithregard to
Sigurdr's thetwosources
exploits, showtrueindependence. Theodoricus
doesnotmention theBalearics bynamebutalludesindirectly tofight-
ing on the islandof Formentera.9 Most of the particulars of the
thiscentury.
The fullexplanationof themistakeis in G. Doxey,"Christianattemptsto
reconquertheBalearicislandsbefore1229"(Ph.D. thesis,CambridgeUniversity, 1991)
180-1.
'
8AgripofNdregskonunga sogum,in AgripofNdregskonunga sogum,Fagrskinna:Novels
konungatal, ed. BjarniEinarsson,Islenzkfornrit, 29 (Reykjavik,1985).Though thereis
some consensusas to thelate twelfth-century datingofAgrip,theextantmanuscriptis
fromthe firsthalf of the thirteenth century. Agrip deals with SigurcVsjourneyto
Jerusalem at pp. 47~9- It mentionsthe stop in England,fighting at Sidon, receivinga
pieceoftheTrueCrossfromBaldwinI ofJerusalem, and visitingConstantinople;butit
saysnothingabout Norse deeds in Spain,Portugal,theBalearics,or Sicily.
9 TheodoricusMonachus,Historiade ed. G. Storm,
antiquitateregumNotwagiensium,
M.onumentahistorica Norvegu:Latinskekildeskrifter til Norgeshistoriei middelalderen
(Kristiania,1880; rpt.Oslo, 1973) 3-68. SiguroVsjourneyis coveredon pp. 65-6. An
extensivesurveyofTheodoricus'sHistoriaandAgrip,whichtogetherwiththeHistoria
Norwegucomprisetheso-calledNorwegiansynoptics, is foundin SvendEllehoj,Studier
overden ddsteNomne historieskrivning, BibliothecaArnamagnaeana, 26 (Kobenhavn,

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142 Scandinavian Studies

expedition,includingvirtuallyall theinformationabouttheattackson
theBalearicislands,come fromIcelandoftheearlythirteenth century:
Morkinskinna (c. 1220?),Fagrskinna(c. 1225)andSnom'sHeimskringfla
(c. 1225-35).10
This is not the place foran extensivediscussionof Konungasojjur
texts,theirevolution,or theirimportant literarycontributions.11
Two
points from thatdiscussion,however, are essentialforunderstanding
theKings'Sagas as sourcesofhistory. The firstis thattheinformation
theKings'Sagas containderivesfromearlierwrittensourcesand reli-
ablytransmitted oralaccounts.Thus,eventhoughthethirteenth-century
saga compendiadate frommorethana hundredyearsafterSigurSr's
journey,theydraw upon sources composed much nearerthe fact.
However,theidentity ofthesesourcesis not resolved.
One writtensourcefromtheearlytwelfth centuryis thoughtto be
thenow-lostKonungaavi or Kings'Lives ofAriI>orgilsson, whichhe
musthavewrittenslightly beforeIslmdingabok betweenabout1122and
1132,easilywithinlivingmemoryof theexpedition.12 However,most

1965).For a compellinganalysisof therelationship sharedbythesetexts,see Tor Ulset,


Det genetiske forholdet mdlomAgrip,HistoriaNorweguog Historiade antiquitateregum
Norwagiensium: En analysemedutgangspunkt samtendiskusjon
i oversettelsesteknikk omkring
begrepet «latinisme» i samband med norrene tekster (Oslo, 1985).
10Morkinskinna, ed. FinnurJonsson,Samfundtiludgivelseafgammelnordisklitteratur,
53(Kobenhavn,1932);Fagrskinna, inXgripafNdregskonunga sb'gum, Fagrskinna:Ndregs
konungatal,ed. BjarniEinarsson,islenzkfornrit, 29 (Reykjavik, 1985);SnorriSturluson,
Heimskringla, ed. BjarniAdalbjarnarson, 3 vols.,islenzkfornrit, 26-8 (Reykjavik,1941-
51).One ofseveralEnglishtranslations ofHeimskringla, particularly usefulbecauseofits
notes,is Heimskringla: ofthekingsofNorwaybySnorriSturluson,
History translated with
introduction and notesbyL. M. Hollander(Austin,1964)-The datingo£Morkinskinna
is disputed.The extantmanuscript is fromc. 1275;butit is a reworking of an earlierlost
text,thoughtto datefromthe1220s,knownintheliterature as the"OldcstMorkinskinna"
The "OldestMorkinskinna^ was themainsourceof thelatterpartof'Fagrskinna, which
includestheaccountofSigurdrjorsalafari. Fagrskinna is thusmoretrulyrepresentative of
the stateof theMorkinskinna textin the earlythirteenth century than is the extant
manuscript(and edition)o£Morkinskinna.
11 overviewsand bibliographies of theKings'Sagas are availablein T. M.
Introductory
Andersson,"Kings' sagas (Konungasb'gur)" Old Norse-Icelandic Literature:A Critical
Guide,ed. C. J.CloverandJ.Lindow,Islandica,45 (Ithaca,1985)197-238;and inMedieval
Scandinavia:An Encyclopedia, ed. P. Pulsiano(New York,1993)s.v.Konungasogur.
12Arimentionsthe abok,explainingthathe left
Konunga<eviin theprologueto Islending
out ofthelatterthegenealogiesand theKings'Livesthathad beenincludedin an earlier
versionofthework.Islendingabok inIslendingabok-Landndmabok, ed. JakobBenediktsson,
1 (Reykjavik,
1 vol. in 2 parts,islenzkfornrit, 1968) part1,3.

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Norwegian Crusaders 143

scholars suspect theKings'Liveswerequitebrief, possiblynotconsist-


ing ofmuch more thanchronologicalnotes.13 A considerable bodyof
otherearlysourcematerial mustaccountforthehighlydeveloped
narratives appearing intheKings'Sagasofthe1220s.
Skaldicpoetryis a majorcomponent ofthismaterial. The Kings'
Sagasquotemany stanzasofpoetryand show a on
reliance manymore
notquoteddirectly.14 Thechapters ofMorkinskinna andHeimskringla
coveringSigurdr's journeyquote fourteen and eighteenstanzasor
partialstanzas (Fagrskinna
respectively. quotesone anda halfstanzas
forthesameevents;Agripquotesnone.)The vastmajority of the
stanzasand fragments aboutSigurdrarefromHalldorrskvaldri, an
Icelandic skaldwhoseemstohaveaccompanied thekingtoJerusalem. 15
Theversesappeartohavebeenpartofa longerlayaboutthejourney to
Palestine, littleelseofwhichsurvives.16
Thoughskaldswereverbalartisans firstand recorders of events
second,theyoftenwitnessed thedeedstheycelebrated. Snorricom-
mentsinhispreface toHeimskringlathatpoemsarea majorsourceof
hishistorical information andthathe considers themto be basically
accurate, havingbeenpasseddownfrom earliergenerationswhenthey
wererecited inthepresence ofthosewhohadparticipated inthedeeds,
ortheir sons.17Thetightly-regulated structure ofskaldicpoetry helped
assureaccurate transmissionthrough thegenerations.
Thesecondpointtounderstand aboutKonungasogur texts
assources
ofhistory concerns theirinterrelatedness.
Kings'Sagas share similari-
tiesinstructure, content,andphrasing, whichreveals thattheauthors
drewuponcommonsources, consulted
eachother's work,orboth.For
alltheadvantages textual
relatedness
gives tothose attempting todeter-
minetheevolution ofthesagasorto recover lostpassages,itcallsinto
13Andersson,200-1.
14For a discussionofskaldic
poetryinKings'Sagas texts,see BjarneFidjestol,Det norrene
NordiskInstitutts
fyrstediktet. 11(0vre Ervik,1982).
skriftserie,
^Heimskringla, tr.Hollander,690, n. 4. For a generalintroduction to skaldsand their
associationwithpatronrulers,seeMedievalScandinavia,s.v.skald.
16 For the reconstruction of this lay, see Finnur Jonsson,ed., Den norsk-islandske
4 vols. (Kobenhavn,1912-15)vol. A (diplomatictext),part1,486-8 and
skjaldedigtning,
vol. B (normalizedtext),part1,458-60. FinnurJonssonguessesthedateofcomposition
forthislayis 1120.
17 vol. 1, 5-6. For a recentdiscussionof the role of skaldicpoetryin
Heimskringla,
Heimskringla see D. Whaley,Heimskringla: An Introduction.
VikingSocietyforNorthern
ResearchTextSeries8. (London, 1991)119-23.

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144 Scandinavian Studies

questionthecorroborative valueofthesagasinter se.Outsidesources,


therefore,playa crucial
rolein the
substantiating sagas'historical
reli-
Several
ability. such sources mention Sigurdr'sjourney to the Holy
Land.Two ofthesein particular shedimportant lighton theattacks
againstthe Balearic The
islands. of
discussion these sourcesis more
ifdeferred
effective untilafter the
outlining events themselves.

Outline of Events
The storyofSigurSr's
journey, as recountedinthesagas,beginswith
theaccessionofthethreesonsofMagnusberfixttr afterhisdeathin
ThethreesonswereEysteinn,
Irelandin1103.18 and
Sigurdr Olafr, all
thelast a small 19Thethreeyoungmenruled
child.
quiteyoung, being
Norwayjointly,eachusingthetitleofking.Not longafter comingto
thethrone,andfollowingthecounselofhisbrothers andthebestmen
ofthekingdom, Sigurdrbecameeagerto undertake to
an expedition
Jerusalem.20
Heimskringlaadds thatthe was
journey prompted by the
reportsof Norsemenreturning to theirhomesfromPalestineand
(GreatStronghold
Mikligarcfc = Byzantium) aboutthetimeof the
youngkings'accession,thatis soonafter theFirstCrusade.The men
brought withthemnewsofthewonders oftheeast,nottomention the
highpaytheyearnedas mercenaries in theserviceoftheByzantine
18The outlineofthe
expeditionin thesucceedingparagraphsis takenfcov&Agrip, 47~9;
Theodoricus,65-6; Fagrskinna, 315-20;Heimskringla, vol. 3,238-54;andMorkinskinna,
338-52.Each of thethreelatersagas {Morkinskinna, Fagrskinna, tells
and Heimskringla)
almostthesametale.Heimskringla zndMorkinskinna areespeciallysimilar.
Heimskringla
treatsthestoryofSigurdrand hisbrothersas a separatesaga,Magnussonasaga,whereas
thestorycomprises multipleseparatesectionsintheotheraccounts.^n^ andTheodoricus
aremainlycitedherefora fewinteresting detailstheyincludein otherwisemuchbriefer
treatments.
19At thetimeof theiraccession,theages or Lysteinn,biguror,and Ulafrwere,respec-
fourteen
tively, orfifteen, orfourteen,
thirteen andfourorfive,accordingtoHeimskringla,
vol. 3, 238; or sixteen,fourteen,and threein Fagrskinna,315.Morkinskinna, 337,agrees
thatOlafrwas not olderthanthreeand dateshis deathtwelveyearslater.Agripplaces
Olafr'sdeathatage seventeen, alsoclaimingitwas twelveyearsafterMagnus'sdeath,thus
makingOlafrfiveyearsold at thetimehe beganhis reign.TheodoricussaysOlafrdied
"three"(should read thirteen)years,Eysteinntwentyyears,and Sigurdrtwenty-seven
yearsaftertheirfather's death.Historiansgenerally placeOlafr'sdeathin 1115,
Eysteinn's
in 1122or 1123,and Sigurdr'sin 1130.
2OMorkinskinna, 337;closelyfollowing^n/>, 47-

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Norwegian Crusaders 145

emperor.The peopleofNorwaybeggedtheyoungkingsto sponsoran


expedition.The kings agreed and decided Sigurckwould lead the
fleet.21
In thethirdor fourthyearofhisreign,SigurcVleftNorwaywithhis
fleetofsixtyshipsand winteredin England,whereHenryI extendeda
welcome.22The fleetdepartedfromEngland the nextspring,sailed
down thecoastofFrance,and thenreportedly spentanotherwinterin
Jakobsland.23 This is a reference to the land of St. James,theregionof
Galiciainnorthwestern Spain.The chieftown of this regionis Santiago
de
(St. James) Compostela, the destinationof one of thegreatmedieval
pilgrimages. If theextra winter in Galiciacan be believed,perhapsitwas
due to thedesireto drinkin thereligioussignificance ofthelandof St.
The
James. jarl who ruled the land (perhaps the localcastellanofa port)
agreed to sell food and supplies to the Norse the
throughout winter.
When thejarl insteadclosed his marketsoon afterYule, the Norwe-
gians overpoweredhis troops and occupied his castle,where they
appropriatedhis own supplyof food in additionto otherbooty.24
In springtheNorwegiansstartedout oncemoreandsailedalongthe
coast of Portugal,capturingeight Saracen "viking"(pirate) galleys
alongtheway.Theyconquereda castlein Sintra;had a battleatLisbon,
halfofwhose inhabitants wereChristian;and sacked"Alkasse," which
mightbe a reference to Alcacerdo Sal, thoughtheArabical-qasrmeans
simply"fortification." Then theydefeateda Muslimsquadronnearthe
Straitsof Gibraltar, knownto theNorse as Ncprvasund.25
The NorsefleetcontinuedeastwardalongthecoastofSerkland,that
is,thelandoftheSaracens,to theBalearicislands.Theyfirst cameto the
21 238.
Heimskringla,
22AllfourOld Norse sources
agreethatthereweresixtyships,a numberfoundin a verse
byEorarinnstuttfeldr quoted in Heimskringla andMorkinskinna. The yearof thefleet's
departureis uncertain.See my discussionabout this and otherissues of chronology
below.
2Z
Agnp,47, saysthe firstwinterwas spentin Englandand the second in Jerusalem. It
does not reportany of the deeds betweenSigurcVsdeparturefromEngland and his
arrivalin Jerusalem.
24Faarskinna,315-6;Morkinskinna, vol. 3,240-1.
340-1: Heimskrinqla,
25 This is the
sequence of SigurcVs battlesagainst the "heathens,"as reportedin
Heimkringla, vol. 3,241-4, andMorkinskinna, 341-5.Faarskinna,316,has a muchbriefer
versionofthesebattles,andgivesthema slightly different
sequence:The battleatLisbon,
an unidentifiedbattleon land,thecaptureofeight"viking"galleys,theattackon Alkasse,
and thesea battlein theStraitsof Gibraltar.

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146 Scandinavian Studies

smallislandofFormentera-a merethirty squaremiles-which is sepa-


ratedfromIbiza to thenorthbya narrowchannel.Ibiza andFormentera
werecalledthePityoussaeor Punicislandsanciently. Ibiza is thenatural
landfallfromSpain on theroutedesliesacrosstheMediterranean.
Settlementon Formenterahas alwaysbeen precarious.It appears
thatwhen Sigurflr arrivedtheislandwas a pirates'nest.Accordingto
thesagas,a largeforceofbldmenn [blackmen]andserkir [Saracens]had
establishedthemselves in a cavehighin a sea-cliff,
wheretheykeptthe
considerable loot theyhad gainedfromraiding.The cavewas protected
fromabove by an overhang;and, in frontof the cave'sentrance,the
Saracenshad builta stonewall.The Norwegiansadvancedtowardthe
cave but hesitatedto attackbecauseof theadvantagethecliffand the
wallgaveto thecave'sdefenders. The SaracenstauntedtheNorwegians
byshouting and displaying from thewallsamplesofthetreasuresthat
werestoredwithin.The sagasattribute to youngSigurdran ingenious
plan to overcome the pirates.The Norwegiansdraggedtwo launches
out ofthewaterand up themountainto thecliffabove thecave.After
tyingropesto thebows and sternsandundertheribs,theyloweredthe
launchesovertheside of thecliff.Protectedinsidetheseboats,Norse
archersand stonethrowers succeededin forcingtheSaracensto retreat
fromthedefensive wallintothecave.Sigurdrand histroopswerethus
able to climbup thecliffand reachthewall.Upon breachingthewall,
theChristians stackedlargepiecesofwood nearthemouthofthecave,
litbonfires,and burnedor asphyxiated thepeopleinsideand cutdown
all who triedto escape.The bootyrecoveredfromthecavewas reput-
edlytherichest oftheentireexpedition. Indeed,thebattleon Formentera
receivesthe most detailedtreatment in the sagas of anyof Sigurdr's
battles,and it probablyqualifiesas themostnotableeventin thetiny
island'shistory.26
Theodoricus'sHistoriade antiquitateregumNorvagiensium, also al-
ludesto thefighting on Formentera, butwithoutclarifying wherethe
actiontookplace:
caveametiamquandamincuiusdammontis latronibus
latere, plenissimam
totamregioneminfestantibus,non minusingenioqumn viribuscepit
liberavit.27
patriamqueab ilbrumlatrocinio
26 vol. 3, 244-6; Morkinskinna(very similarto
316-7; Heimskrinpfla,,
Fagfrskinna,
34-5-7.
Heimskrinqla),
27Theodoricus,66.

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Norwegian Crusaders 147

(He alsotook,nolessbyingenuity
thanbymanpower,a certain
cavein
thesideofa certainmountainthatwascompletely
filled
withpirates
whoraidedthewholeregion;andhe liberated
thepatriafromtheir
piracy.)28
The mentionofthecaveis sandwichedbetweena reference to SigurcVs
participationin thebattleforSidon and his a
beinggranted fragment of
the True Cross in Jerusalem.So, to an uninformedreader,the cave
mightseemto be somewherein theeastratherthanon an islandin the
west.The idea thatby rootingout piratesSigurdrwas liberatingthe
patria (meaningtheChristianhomeland)is a notionloaded withsig-
nificanceto whichI shallreturn.
Balearichistoriansand archaeologists in our dayhaveattemptedto
identifythecaveon Formentera, but at presenttheireffortsareincon-
clusive.Concreteevidenceforthevariouspossiblesitessuggestsonly
that the farthestreachesof Formenterawere inhabitedduringthe
period(at someothertimesinitshistory, Formentera hasbeenvirtually
abandoned) and thata numberof cavesand cliffson theislandcould
havebeenthesceneofthebattle.An educatedguesswithwidepopular
acceptanceis thatthecave mighthave been situatedin thevicinity of
Torrentdes Gat on thenorthern side ofLa Mola, thehighestpointon
Formentera. La Mola liesat theeasternend oftheisland,and itsslopes
riseprecipitously above the sea. A cave on the northshorebearsthe
nameCova d'es Fum [Cave of theSmoke],althoughtheoriginof the
nameis uncertain.29
AfterleavingFormentera,Sigurdrand his men raided Ibiza and
Minorca.30Thereisno mentionofattacking Majorca,thelargestisland,
28All translations
aremine,unlessotherwiseindicated.
29The most
widelyknownarcheologicalspeculationsarefoundin Busquets,215-20.An
older,lessscientific
analysisconfidently identifiesCova d'esFum as thesightoftheNorse
attackwithouttheleastreservation. J.M.Mafiade Angulo,"Notas arqueologicassobre
Formentera," Memoriasdelosmuseos arqueologicosprovinciates vol. 13-4 (Madrid,
(19S2-S3),
1956)12-6,rpt.in J.M.Mafiade Angulo,Sobrearqueologia, ebusitana(Ibiza, 1984) 111-5.
30
OnlyinHeimskrinjjla, vol. 3,246-7; andMorkinskinna, 347-8.A one-pagelacunaexists
inMorkinskinna beginningin themiddleof itsmentionof Minorcaand endingduring
the visitto Byzantiumon the returnvoyage.One of Fagrskinna's two manuscriptsis
missingfourpages beginningwiththesea battlein theStraitsof Gibraltarand running
throughtheend of theexpedition.The otherFagrskinnamanuscriptsuppliesthestory
aboutFormentera, thoughnothingaboutIbiza andMinorca,and so on up untilmidway
throughthevisitto Constantinople, wherethismanuscript, too, breaksoffitsnarrative
due to a missinga page. See Fagrskinna, 316,n. 1; 320,n. 2.

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148 Scandinavian Studies

whichliesbetweenIbiza andMinorca.AtthetimeoftheNorse adven-


ture,Majorcawasthecapitalofanindependent statenotyetincorporated
into theAlmoravidempireof the mainland.Majorca was populous,
- moreso
andwell-fortified thanthemuchsmaller
prosperous, certainly
Ibiza and thatoutpostof animalhusbandry, Minorca.31The Norwe-
gians were clearlyusing the Balearic islands as a transitpoint,
opportunistically
attackingas theypassedratherthansettlingin forthe
prolongedsiege warfarerequiredforconquest:theexpedition'sobjec-
tiveremainedPalestine.
besidessayingthattheattackson Ibiza and Minorca
Heimskrinpjla,
wereSigurcVsseventhand eighthbattlesagainst"heathens," adds the
sketchy informationcontained in a fewversesby the skald Halldorr
skvaldri:
Margdyrkadr kommerkir
morbhjolsskipastdli,
fussvasfremdar msir
tillvizu.
fribslitSy
[...]
Kndttiennendtta
oddhribvakibsiban,
Finnsmubgjgld,dgr&nni,
Manorkverba.32
gramsferb,
(The highlyrenowned marker[ = reddener]of slaughter-wheel[=
came
shield] with his of
stock to
ships[= fleet] Ibiza.The of
chieftain
= was for
[ battle] eager glory,
peace-severing [or,accordingto a an
alternate The glorychieftain
interpretation: was eagerforpeace-
severing.]
[. . .]
Theeighthstormofweaponpoints[= battle]wasyetlaterstirred
up
hostreddened
Theking's
ongreenMinorca. thetributesoftheFinn[ =
arrows].)33
31 For sourcesregardingMajorca's considerableurban
archeologicaldata and literary
settlement and defensive see G. RosselloBordoy,"La evolutionurbanade
fortifications,
Palmaen la antigiiedad:II Palmamusulmana"Boletinde la CdmaraOficialde Comercio,
IndustriayNavejjacidndePaltnade Mallorca,no. 632(Palmade Mallorca,julio-septiembre
1961) 182-97; rpt.in G. Rossello Bordoy,MallorcaMusulmana (estudisd'arqueologia),
introduction byM. Barcelo(Palma de Mallorca,1973)80-113.
32 vol. 3,246-7.See alsoFinnurJ6nsson,Dmnorsk-islandske skjaldedigtning,
Heimskringla,
vol. A, part1,487-8 and vol. B, part1,459-60.
331 am to mycolleagueat BrighamYoungUniversity, GeorgeTate,torhisviews
grateful
on, and translationof,theseverses.

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Norwegian Crusaders 149

Halldorr'sdescription ofMinorcaas beinggreengivesreasonto


pause when one considers thattheislandisa gooddealmorearidthan
thenorthern landstowhichthepoetwasaccustomed. Theskald'sword
choice^groznni = the
( <groznn green),supplies alliterating for
[g] £fjgld
andjjmms andprovides therequisite skothending- internalrhyme with
different vowelsbutsimilar post-vocalicconsonants- in[n] forPwmr.34
The colorgreenalsoprovides a contrasting imageto mud( < raubr=
red).Atanyrate,Minorca's greenness,whileperhaps exaggerated tofit
thepoet'sart,is notimplausible. Minorcais a fertile island,greener
certainly thanFormentera; anditwasprobably stillspringwhenthe
Norsemen arrived.
Sigurdr hismenproceeded
and from theBalearic islandsona speedy
to
voyage Sicily, another node on the route desties.
Although thefleet
may have taken a directcourse across the opensea, the usual route to
Sicilyinvolved running with the wind from Minorca forthree or four
daystolandfall inSardinia(lesscommonly Corsica)andthenheading
southalongtheislandcoast.Sardinia's eastcoastleadstoward Messina,
and itswestcoasttowardPalermo.If theNorwegians followedthe
eastern route,theymayhavemadea stopinRometo visitpilgrimage
sites,as travelers enroute to theHolyLandoftendid.In anycase,the
sagasmention nothing aboutSardinia orthedetailsofsailing, butthey
do reporta comfortable andlengthy stayin Sicilyin thesplendor of
CountRogerIFs court.35 claimstheNorwegians
(Fajjrskinna spentyet
anotherwinterin Sicily;Heimskringla sayssimplythatSigurdrre-
mainedtherea longtime.)A longlayover inSicilywouldbenatural for
a largefleet,whichwouldconstantly needto regroupand waitfor
favorable sailingconditions so as to reachitsdestination intact.To
Sigur<3risascribed theroleofconferring uponyoungRoger titleof
the
king.This detail is certainly oflateoriginandreflects theinternational
renownRogerattained in lateryears.The youngcountwouldhave
beentwelveor thirteen at thetimeof Sigurdr's visit;his powerful
mother Adelaidewas firmly in controlas regent;and othersources
34 For a recentintroductionto drottkv&tt see K.E. Gade, The structureof Old Norse
drottkv&tt
poetry,Islandica49 (Ithaca,1995); and H. Kuhn,Das Drottkv&tt (Heidelberg,
1983).See also R. Frank,Old NorseCourtPoetry:The Drottkvastt Stanza. Islandica42
(Ithaca,1978).
35 317-8;Heimskringla, vol. 3,247-8.
Fagrskinna,

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150 Scandinavian Studies

confirm thatRogerbeganusing"king"as histitleonlyin1130.36Sicilian


sourcesmakeno mentionof SigurQr'svisit.
Finally,Sigurdrand hiscompanionsreachedtheportofAcreaftera
summerpassagethroughtheeasternMediterranean. Theymarchedto
Jerusalem,whereKingBaldwinI receivedSigurdrwithhonor.Baldwin
bestowedmanyrelicsupon theNorwegians,including,bypermission
ofthepatriarch ofJerusalem, a splintertakenfromtheTrueCross.The
Norwegiansspent severalmonths of theautumnand winterin Pales-
tineand participatedin thefightforSidon in thefollowingyear.After
departing,theyvisitedByzantium,whereseveralof themenlistedas
mercenaries.Sigur5rand the restgave theirremainingships to the
emperorand placed gildeddragonheads thathad adornedtheking's
shipin thechurchof St. Peter.Then theNorsemenreturnedoverland
throughEuropeto Norway.The entirejourneysupposedlylastedthree
years.37

Non-Scandinavian sources

Severalnon-Scandinaviansourcesdeal withSigurcVsexpedition.The
majorityof thesecoveronlywhat happenedin the Holy Land after
Two non-Scandinavian
SigurcVsarrival.38 sourcesrecordtheattackon
36See, oftheNormankingdom
e.g., H. Takayama,Theadministration ofSicily(Leiden,
1993) 60-1, whichbriefly notesdocumentary sourcesshowingthe stepsin the process
leadingto Roger'scoronation.J.J.Norwich,TheNormansin thesouth(London, 1967)
303-31,paintsa highlyreadableportrait ofthepoliticalcomplexities surrounding Roger's
riseto kingship.
37Theodoricus,65-6, mentionsSidon and the True Cross.Agnp, 48-9, pays special
attentionto an oathrequiredas a conditionto receiving a pieceoftheTrueCross,vaguely
mentionsvictory overheathencities,briefly tellsofthestayin Constantinopleand ofthe
returnjourney,and indicatesthatthewholejourneylastedthreeyears.Vagrskinna, 318-
20, includesAcre,Baldwin,theTrueCross,Sidon, and Constantinople.Heimskringla,
249-54,hasthecompleteaccount.Morkinskinna, 348-52,due to a lacuna,skipsall events
in Palestinebuthas an extendedversionofthestayin Constantinople. An articleon the
Balearicislands,unfortunately, cannotdo justiceto the significant issues concerning
Norse activitiesin PalestineandByzantium.For instance,thelacunamMorkinskinna can
be reconstructed in partwithtextfromtheCodexFrisianusand particularly fromHulda-
Hrokkinskinna, a conglomerationof the last part of Heimskringla and Morkinskinna.
Severaloccurrences reportedinlatersagasforthestayinConstantinople aresuspiciously
similarto othertalesabout Norsemenin Mikligardrand warrantfurther investigation.
See H.R. Ellis Davidson,TheVikingroadtoByzantium(London, 1976) 261-3.
38See the See also S. Rumanian,
manyArabicand Latinsourcescitedin Riant,173-215.
A historyofthe Crusades, vol. 2, TheKingdom ofJerusalem (Cambridge, 1952)92-3.

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Norwegian Crusaders 151

theBalearic Themostintriguing
islands. oftheseistheLiber 'Maiorichinus,
a sourcewithwhichsagascholars havethusfarnotbeenacquainted.
The LiberMaiorichinus is an epic Latinpoem of morethan3,500
hexameter verses.Theimportance of'theLiber'scorroborating evidence
is magnified by the factthat the the
poemeasilypredates surviving
sagas;itwaswritten inPisaprobably no laterthan1125.39
TheLiberMaiorichinus tellsthestoryofa crusadeagainstMuslim
Majorcain 1113-15. The expedition brought together, underthesanc-
tionofPopePaschalII, thenavalmight ofPisaandaninternational host
ofCatalanandOccitanknights ledbyCountRamonBerenguer III of
Barcelona.Internal evidence indicates thattheLiber'sanonymous au-
thorwasa member ofthePisanclergy whoaccompanied theexpedition.
Afterseveralfalsestarts,theexpedition resulted in theshort-lived
of
conquest Majorcafollowing a seven-month siegeofthecapital.A
preliminary stepinthe campaign was theconquestanddismantling of
Ibiza'sdefensessinceconquering Ibiza, which is closestto themain-
land,madeinterference fromMuslimreinforcements lesslikely. The
conquests came at tremendous cost. With theirresources taxed to the
the
limit, victorious Christianssimply departed. Theyhadtemporarily
broken theMajorcan threatandwereunable- perhaps never intended -
to occupytheislandsin thelongterm.MajorcaandIbizaweresoon
takenbytheAlmoravids ofthemainland.40
CertainpassagesoftheLiberarereminiscent ofSigurdr's expedition
a fewyearsearlier.
OnepassagehasPisanstaking captives onFormentera
whoweretrying toescapebyhidingincaveae, whichcouldberendered
"caves."41
A directreference toSigurdr andhismenoccursina scenein
39LiberMaiolichinusdegestisPisanorumillustribus, ed. C. Calisse, Fonti per la storia
d'ltalia,29 (Roma, 1904)- The originaltide of die poem is LiberMaiorichinus. When
Calissepublishedhisedition,he failedto noticethat"Maiolichinus" was a latermodifica-
tionto theoriginaltidein theincipitoftheprincipalmanuscript, and he did notexplain
whythetextofthepoem itselfalwaysrefersto Majorca as "Maiorica"rather"Maiolica."
See G. Scalia,"Intornoai codici del «LiberMaiorichinus* ,"BulletinodeWIstitutoStorico
Italianoper UMedio Evo e Archivio Mumtoriano,69 (Roma, 1957)255-6;272,n. 1. For
datingoftheLiber,see Doxey,"Christianattempts";and G. Scalia,"Oliveriuse Rolandus
nel «LiberMaiorichinus»," Studimediolatinie volgare,
4. (Bologna, 1956)299-300, n. 41.
40For fuller
analysisof thiscrusade,see Doxey "Christianattempts"
41LiberMaiorichinus,w. 1004-5. "Lustrantesquelocum, quo gens inamata latebat,
Abstractoscaveis Ebusum duxereligatos" [And reconnoitering the place where the
enemypeoplelayhidden,havingforcibly removedthemfromtheircaves[basicmeaning
ofcaveais hollowplace,cavity],theyled thembound to Ibiza].

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152 Scandinavian Studies

thepoem in whichsixPisanshipspatrollingthewatersneartheisland
ofIbiza areattackedbya squadronfromthemainlandportofDenia, an
important Almoravidnavalbase. Only two of the Pisan shipsescape.
The fleeingPisanstakerefugein a strongholddescribedas theveryone
the kingof Norwayattackedand burnedwhen he sailed the seas of
Spainwithioo shipson hiswayto theHoly Land. The prizestakenby
the Norwegiansstandin sharpcontrastto the meagerexistencethe
Latinswereable to extractfromtheirhostilesurroundings. One ofthe
threesurviving manuscripts of the poem readsthus:
Plures quifuerant locaper longinqua remoti
Ad castrum veniunt, rex
quod Norgvegius olim
Destruxisse datur,predam deruretrahentes,
Carneque viventes, etagrestibus
siliquis erbis,
Radicibus plures etiam, modicisquesteterunt
Impensis ineodiscrimina plumferentes,
Sepeque perpingues hisescafuistis,
aselli,
HosqueSamceni pugnantes crebropetebcmt.
Castrum tutamen Latiiserathospiciumque.*2
(Severalwhohadgottenawaycameto a stronghold thattheNorwe-
gianking is saidto have once And
destroyed. dragging offplunder
from thecountryside, andlivingonflesh, husksandwildgrasses,roots,
andexcessively meager portions, manyalsosurvived init[thestrong-
hold],confronting manycritical situations.And oftenyou plump
youngdonkeys were food to them. And thewarlikeSaracensrepeat-
edly attacked them. The stronghold was a defense
anda lodgingforthe
Latins.)
Variantsfromthe othertwo manuscriptsagree on these important
additionaldetails:
... Ad castrum quodrexNorgvegius
veniunt, olim
Tradiderat cum
flammis, centum Hispanacarinis
Equorasulcabat, spolioque acto
exhostibus
Victor sanctas
Hyerusalem ad arces
properabat
IstudPisaniretinent,villasrepetentes
Carneque viventes,
siliquis ...43
erbis.
etagrestibus
( ... cametoa stronghold thattheNorwegian kinghadoncedelivered
up to flames, whenhe sailedtheSpanishseaswithioo ships;and

42LiberMaiorichinus,w. 2623-31.
43Calisse,101,
accordingto thevariantforverse2625.

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Norwegian Crusaders 153

havingtakenspoilfromtheenemy,thevictormadehasteto theholy
at Jerusalem.
fortresses That[stronghold]
thePisansheld,attacking
farm and on
houses, living flesh, husks
and .. .)
wildgrasses.

Despitesome discrepancy in thedetails,suchas 100 shipsinsteadof


sixty,it is remarkablethatthe earlytwelfth- centurypoet of theLiber
Maiorichinus was so familiar
withSigurdr'sassaulton Formentera. The
poem showsthatSigurcVsdeeds werethetopicof popularconversa-
tion well outside of Scandinavia.Such fame may have helped stir
popularinterest in theBalearicislandsas thetargetofa futurecrusade.
The imageof abundantpiratetreasure- ifthatwas partof the story
thatreachedPisa- undoubtedlyhad power to firethe imagination.
However,itis quiteclearthattheLiber'sclericauthorviewedthetaking
of spoils as beingonlyincidentalto the Pisan missionin 1113-15, that
being the rescuing of Christiancaptivesheld as slaveson Majorca and
thesuppressionof Baleariccorsairs.Accordingto theLiber,thesecor-
sairsplaguedtheseasandshoresofChristendom fromSpainto Greece.44
News of SigurSr'sattackon theBalearicislandsreachedEnglandas
well,wherewe findthesecondofthetwonon-Scandinavian sourcesto
referto theraids,WilliamofMalmesbury's Gestaregum Anglorum.The
GestarecordSigurdr'swinterin England duringthe firststageof his
voyage,theattackon theBalearics,and latereventswhentheNorwe-
giansreachedtheHoly Land andByzantium.45 WilliamofMalmesbury
is a fairly
dependableauthor,particularly regardto contemporary
with
of
events, which this is one; the firstcompositionof his Gestawas
completedin 1125.His historiesarescholarlyand arebased on written
sources.46
Accordingto theGesta,afterleavingEnglandin thespring,theking
ofNorwayattacked"theBalearicislands,whicharecalledMajorca and
Minorca,"beforeproceedingto Jerusalem. This sourcestandsalone in
44LiberMaiorichinus, w. 5-10; see also thevariants.
45 Williamof
Malmesbury,De gestisregumAnglorumlibriquinque (A.D. 449-1127);
Historiaenovellaelibritres(1125-42),ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Series,90, 1 vol. in 2 parts
(London, 1887-89)part2 (1889) 485-6. The portionrelevantto the earlypartof the
voyageis as follows:"Denique SiwardusrexNoricorum,primoaeviprocessufortissimis
conferendus, inceptoitinereJerosolimitano, rogataqueregispace, inAngliatotaresedit
hyeme;plurimoqueperecclesiasauro expenso,mox,ut Favoniusad serenitatem pelagi
vernalesportas aperuit,naves repetiit;provectusquein altum,Balearesinsulas,qua?
MajoricaetMinoricadicuntur, armisterritas,faciliores
ad subigendumpraefato Willelmo
de Monte Pislerioreliquit."
46E. B. Graves,A to148s(Oxford,1975)436, No. 2921.
bibliography
ofEnglishhistory

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154 Scandinavian Studies

mentioningMajorca,and it failsto recountanythingabout themore


notoriousadventureon Formentera. Doubtless,WilliamofMalmesbury
intendedmerelya generalreference to theislandgroup,notindividual
Williamgoes on to observethatSigurdrlefttheislandseasier
islands.47
forGuillemofMontpellierto conquer.This is a reference to thelordof
Montpellier'sparticipationin the later Pisan-Catalan crusade. Curi-
ously,William remembered Guillem's role in the conquest more than
thecountofBarcelona's.48WhileGuillemwas a prominent figure the
in
crusade,he acted more out of duty to his lord and ally, count of
the
Barcelona,thanon hisown At
initiative. anyrate, William ofMalmesbury
saw theNorse expeditionas a forerunner to thePisan-Catalancrusade.

Chronology

A persistent
weakness ofearliertreatmentsisconfusionoverthecorrect
yearofSigurdr's assaulton the Balearicislands.
Alvaro Campaner, a
Balearichistorianwriting in 1888,assigned1108as the year of the
raids.49NumerousSpanishand Mediterranean historianssince
Campanerhaveacceptedthisdatewithoutquestioning it. In fact,
Campaner's discussionis basedsolelyon thesummary bytheArabist,
ReinhartDozy.Dozy'ssummary actuallysuggests1109as theyearof
theraidsbecauseofthetwowinters spentinEnglandandGaliciaafter
thefleet's
departurein1107.50
Thesources themselves do notagree.Thesagasuserelativechronol-
ogy,fixingonly dates
certain withina king's In
reign. thiscasethedate
fixedis the deathof Sigurdr'sfather, Magnus berfoettrin 1103.
Heimskringla,agreeingwithAgfrip,saysSigurSr setsailfouryearsafter
thisdate,ergo,
1107.51Fajjrskinnaan&Morkinskinna the
put departure
47Riant
disagrees.He readsWilliamofMalmesburyas proofthatMajorcawas thescene
of anotherbattle.Riant,182.
48 in his Gestato Montpellierand severalextensive
Judgingfromotherbriefreferences
ones to the countof Toulouse,Williamof Malmesburywas evidentlywell acquainted
with affairsin southwestern France.In contrast,he saysverylittleabout Barcelona.
Moreover,HenryI ofEnglandwas on friendly termswithGuillemofMontpellier, who
sentHenrya porcupineforhismenagerieatWoodstock.WilliamofMalmesbury, part2,
485.
49Campaner,94.
50Dozy, vol. 2, 323-6.
51 vol. 3,239;Agrip,47.
Heimskringla,

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Norwegian Crusaders 155

onlythreeyearsafterMagnus's death,i.e., in 1106.52The Historiade


antiquitatc regumNorvatjiensium uses itsown formulato calculatethe
year the fleet departed:"septimo,posteaquamiliacivitas[Jerusalem] a
tyrannide Persarum Dei misericordia erepta est, anno" [the seventh
yearafterthatcity[Jerusalem] was recoveredbythemercyofGod from
thetyranny of thePersians].53 Jerusalem fellto theChristiansin 1199,
making 1106 the beginningyear of the journey.
The yearof SigurSr'sarrivalin Englandis attestedindependently in
theso-ca'lcdAnnales from 54Thesecurious
Radintjenses ReadingAbbey.
and tersely-worded"annals"arederivedfrommarginalnotesconcern-
ing mostlycontemporary local eventskepton a table of the Paschal
cycle in a codex from the abbey.55For theyearno 8, the entireentry
readssimply:"Sivurdusrexvenit"[KingSigurSrcame].Whilethevery
factthe Norwegians'stayin England inspiredthisnotationis itself
interesting, itis difficult
to decidehow muchcredenceto giveto 1108as
theyearof theNorse arrival.
There is also a discrepancyin the sagas about how long the out-
boundjourneytook.Agripreportsthefirst winterspentinEnglandand
the second winterin Jerusalem.56 Fagfrskinna, Heimskringla,and
Morkinskinna all maintainthatthesecondwinterwas spentin Galicia,
whileFagrskinnaassertsan implausiblethirdwinterin Sicily.S7Agrip
appearsto havethemostreasonablechronology, as theoutwardvoyage
accordingto theothersagasseemsunnaturally slow.The secondwinter
in Galiciais apparently takenfroma versebyEinarrSkiilasonquoted in
Heimskrinjjla thattellsof "annanvetr"[secondwinter]in Jakobsland.
ccVetr"does not participate in thestructure of theverse,neitherin the
alliterationnor in the rhymeand is, therefore, possiblyincorrect,al-
thoughthereareno manuscript variants.58

52 315;Morkinskinna, 338.
Fagrskinna,
53Theodoricus,65.
54Annales 1066-1189,ed. F. Liebermann,Ungedruckte
Radingenses, anglo-normannische
Geschichtsqudlen(Strassburg,1879)9-12.
55
ReadingAbbeyalso produceda latersetof "annals"derivedfrommarginalnoteson
anotherdocument.See C.W. Previte-Orton, "AnnalesRadingensesposteriores,1135-
Englishhistorical
1265," 37 (1922) 400-3.
review,
56
Agrip,47.
57 315,317;Heimskringla,vol. 3,240; Morkinskinna,
Fagrskinna, 340.
581 am indebtedto theScandinavianStudiesreferee who pointedthisout to me and made
manyotherusefulsuggestionsin a detailedand helpfiilreviewof thisarticlepriorto
publication.The versein questioninHeimskringla, vol. 3,240, (see also FinnurJonsson,

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156 Scandinavian Studies

Ibn al-Athirdated the siege of Sidon, in which the Norwegians


participated,as beginningon 19Octobermo; WilliamofTyreplacedit
betweenApriland December1111; AlbertofAix,saidtheNorse arrived
in Palestinein mo.59 These dates are inconsistentwith the Norse
versionthatthe whole journeylasted threeyearsstartingwith the
departurefromNorwaylatein thesailingseasonof1106or 1107.Three
yearsonlybarelyallowsfora returnjourneyif1108is acceptedas the
departuredate,as inthcAnnalesRadingenses. Of course,theexpedition
may have filledmore thanthreeyears.
Short of manipulatingthe evidenceto solve this puzzle, I offer
simplymy guess: the Norse assaulton the Balearicsdid not occur
before1107byanymeasure,1108soundingcloserto thetruthand 1109
possibly even more likely.The sojourn in the Holy Land and
Constantinopleprobablyoccupied a good portionof mo and either
thelastmonthsof 1109 or thefirstmonthsof mi, withthereturntrip
stretchingwell intomi.

Pilgrimage or Crusade
An importantquestionnot addressedin earliertreatments is whether
SigurcVsraidson theBalearicsshouldbe considereda pilgrimageor a
crusade.60The evidenceis ambiguous.
applythewordferd[journey]to theexpedi-
The sagas consistently
tion.Utferb[journeyabroad]is alsoused.61In thiscontext,utferb
nearly
Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning, vol.A, part1,455and vol. B, part1,423) is as follows:
Ok, sas ceztgat riki,
61f)j66konungr, solar,
ond a Jakobslandi
annanvetr,und ranni.
I>arfrakhilmiherjar,
hjaldrs,lausmaeligjalda
gramrbirtisvansvartan,
snarlyndr, fromumjarli.
59Ibn al-Athir, Recueildeshistoriens desCroisades(hereafter "RHCV)' Onentaux,vol. 1
(Paris,1872)275;WilliamofTyre,RHC: Occidentcmx, vol. 1,pt.1 (Paris,1844) 476; Albert
ofAix,RHC: Occidentaux, vol. 4 (Paris,1879)675,677-8.
60The The Crusades:A shorthistory
questionhas, at least,been raised.J.Riley-Smith,
(London, 1987)90.
61 skylditaraok
E.g., "I>eirbadu konungana,at annarrhvarrpeira,bysteinneoa MgurOr,
verafyrir f)vilidi,ertilutferdar
gerdisk"{Heimskringla, vol. 3,238,emphasisadded) [They
askedthekingswhetherone ortheotherofthem,Eysteinnor Sigurdr, wouldgo andlead
a fleetthatwas beingreadiedforajourneyabroad].

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Norwegian Crusaders 157

alwaysmeanstheHoly Land andcorrespondsto theFrenchoutremer or


Latinultramare (bothmeaning "overseas'5or the
"beyond sea") used in
reference to pilgrimagesand crusadesto Palestine.Likewise,Sigurdr's
byname"Jerusalem Farer"is in keepingwiththethemeof travel.
This emphasison thejourneyitselfsuggestsa pilgrimagebut does
not foreclosea crusade.Indeed, beforetheThirdCrusadein 1187,the
distinction betweencrusadingand armedpilgrimageor othertypesof
"holy" violence was blurred.62 Earlycrusadersunquestionably viewed
themselves as pilgrimsand viewedtheirenterprise as a typeofpilgrim-
age. Theyhad actualdestinations in mindas goals ofpilgrimage.Early
crusadervows were essentiallythose of a pilgrim,and the crusader
indulgencewas a developmentoftheindulgencegrantedto pilgrimsto
theHoly Land. Likewise,theprotectionsand privilegesgivento cru-
sadersundercanon law were the same as those affordedto pilgrims.
Even the crusaderbadge and clothingwere reminiscentof pilgrim
attire.63
Cognomens,suchas Sigardfsjdrsalafari orRobertofFlander's
(a leaderin theFirstCrusade)Hierosolimitanus [Jerusalemite], though
theysmackof pilgrimage,were quite commonmarksof prestigefor
earlycrusaderswho returnedfromtheHoly Land.64The Norwegians
wereat leastarmedpilgrimsand in thatsensewerecrusaders.
More troublesomeis thefactthatthesagas seemto dwellon glory
and plunderwhen referring to victories.Verylittlesuggestspietyor
altruismin takingup arms in defenseof one's neighbor- a prime
concernforcanoniststo justifythe use of violencein Christ'sname.
Neitheris therea clearindicationof papal or evenepiscopalapproval
fortheexpedition,clericalleadersbeingpresentwiththetroops,cru-
sader badges being worn, crusader oaths being taken, liturgical
observancesbeingkept,indulgencesforsinbeingoffered, or anyother
of theusual indiciaof a crusade.65
By comparison,Frenchmonkswho authoredthechiefaccountsof
theFirstCrusadearound1107tookpainsto harmonizetheeventswith
thesensibilitiesoftheGregorianReforms.Men likeRoberttheMonk,
Guibertof Nogent, and Baldricof Bourgueilportrayedcrusadersas
temporary religious,whosecampwas a monastery on themove,whose
62 TheCrusades,88.
Riley-Smith,
63See J. TheFirstCrusadeand theidea ofcrusading(London, 1986) 22-5.
Riley-Smith,
64Ibid., 121.
65 An excellentbriefintroductionto these indiciacan be found in The
Riley-Smith,
Crusades,xxviii-xxx.

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158 Scandinavian Studies

motivewas Christiancharily, andwhosevictoriesrevealedthehandand


will of Providence.The influenceof theseauthorson crusadingwas
tremendous. Theyhelpedtransform itintoa movementthatwouldlast
generations.66 Contributors to the Kings'Sagas, in contrast,wereob-
viously not inclinedtoward overtlypreaching the reform,nor did they
feel a need to explainSigurcVsexploitsin theologicallyacceptable
terms.Theirswas a different focus,one thatpartookof thepanegyric
traditionof courtskalds,thatof describinggreatdeeds ofgreatmen.
Theodoricusdisplaysa tonethatis moreconsonantwiththeconti-
nentaltheologians.67 He refersto thebattleagainst"pagan"piratesat
the mountaincave as being the means of "liberating"the Christian
patria.68Liberationtheologyis at theverycoreofthecrusades,and its
rootsarein thereformmovementin thechurch,wherelibertas meant
papal supremacy over layrulers and freedom from secularmeddlingin
churchgovernment. Liberationwas the mostfrequentthemeof cru-
sadepreaching andwasappliedto callforviolencetofreebothChristians
as wellas thelandsthatwerethoughtto rightly belongto Christians.69
The problemwithacceptingTheodoricusas clearproofthatSigurcVs
journeywas a crusadeis thatalthoughhisHistoriapredatesthecompo-
sitionofthesagas,he wroteat a timewhenthesenotionshad become
commonplace.It is safestto concludethathethoughtSigurcVhad been
engagedin a crusadewhenhe wrotein the1180s.
Even in theadventure-laden tonesof thesagas,a rough-and-ready
religiousmotiveforthefighting is sometimesapparent.The accountof
theconquestofSintracastlein Portugal,forinstance,whilenotfailing
to mentionabundantbooty,statesthattheNorse invadersputto death
all ofthecastle'sdefenders who refusedto acceptChristianity. More to
the point,clauses in Heimskringla and Morkinskinna say thatSintra
castlewas a strongholdfromwhichthe Saracenshad harriedChris-
tians.70The inference isthattheattackon Sintrawaspartially prompted
by thedesire to defend fellow Christians. Subsequent northern Euro-
pean crusaderswho passedthroughSpanish watersen routeto Palestine
regularly stoppedto fightMoors alongtheway,usuallyin aid ofsome
66See Riley-Smith,TheFirstCrusade,135-52.
67 Othershave made the
point about Theodoricus'possibleeducationin France.See
MedievalScandinavia,s.v.Theodoricus:Historiade antiquitateregumNorwagiensium.
68Theodoricus,66.
69Riley-Smith,TheFirstCrusade,17-8.
70Heimskrinffla,
vol. 3,242; JMorkinskinna,
342.

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Norwegian Crusaders 159

mainlandChristianprince.Defenseof fellowChristians,even ifthat


defensetook the formof offensiveaction,constituteda causa iusta
undercanon law justifying Christianviolence.This rationalehad ex-
istedlong beforethecrusades.But in failingto developor takenoteof
theobvioustheologicalargument, sagaauthorsrevealtheirmoreorless
secularorientation.
Despite theambiguity of theevidenceregardingwhetherSigurdr's
journey was a pilgrimageor a crusade,it is hardto imaginehow the
expedition could possiblyfalloutside the crusadingmovementas a
whole. The Norwegianswere treatedas allies by the Christiansthey
encounteredin theeast,and theyfoughtin thecause espousedbythe
Latins there.Though not identifiedas such in the sagas, the First
Crusadehad to have been an importantcatalystfortheNorse adven-
ture.In theeuphoriathatsweptEurope afterthecaptureofJerusalem
in 1099, not only the Norwegiansbut also manyotherarmiesand
individualfighting mentrickledout fromEurope overthenextseveral
years,many without thebenefitof a formalcallto arms.Major Chris-
tiandefeatsin 1101and 1102did littleto curbtheirenthusiasm, and the
firstquarterof the twelfthcenturybecame the most activeperiod of
crusadinguntil1187,whentheThirdCrusadewas launchedin response
to theloss ofJerusalem.71Even withoutall thereligioustrappingsofa
crusadeone mightexpectto findin the sources,thereis enough reli-
gioussubstanceto theNorwegians'motivations to rejectas exaggerated
and anachronistic theassessmentof Campaner,theBalearichistorian,
in callingSigurSr'svoyagea "salvagee hipocritapseudo-cruzado"[a
savageand hypocritical pseudo-crusade].72

Epilogue and Conclusion


Eventsduringtheremainder ofthetwelfthcenturyshowthatChristian
seafaringnationsin the Mediterranean came
gradually to view access
to, or controlof, the Balearicislandsas a commercialand religious
imperative.73The pictureis actuallyquitecomplex.At timesChristian
ships from certain nationswere welcome in Balearicports; at other
times,Balearicrulerstreatedthesesamenationsas enemies.Likewise,
71Riley-Smith,TheFirstCrusade.132.
72
Campaner,96.
73Abulafia,3-7.

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160 Scandinavian Studies

the directionand intensity of Christianpolicytowardthe Balearics


variedover timeand fromone countryto another.74 The fateof the
MuslimBalearicswas sealedin 1229whenJamesI ofAragon- himself
a crusaderwithrather worldly, motives- attheheadof
self-agrandizing
a largemultinational expedition,finallysucceededin bringingMajorca
into the Catalan patrimony.The conquest was bankrolledin large
measurebymerchants anxiousto exploittradethroughtheBalearics.75
Ironically,the Norse raidson the islandsof a centuryearlierhad
nothing to do with commerce andperhapsnota lotto do withreligion.
Nevertheless, they are the firstrecordedattackson theBalearicsby a
Christianforce.Whetherviewedas truecrusadersor meremarauders,
Sigurfir'smenapparently saw thatthemostobviousrouteeastwardlay
through the Balearic islands.The notorietyof theirsuccessmayhave
helpedinspire otherChristian naviesthatfollowed.

74G.
Doxey,"Diplomacy,tradeandwar:MuslimMajorcain international politics,1159-
$1?JournalofMedievalHistory20 (1994) 39-6i.
75For a usefulaccountofthis
conquestin English,see chapter1 ofFernandezArmesto,
11-42. For the complexitiesof Catalan commercialand dynasticpolicies in the 13thv
centuryand later,as theyrelateto thisconquestand its aftermath,see now Abulafia's
Mediterranean emporium.

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