Chapter 75 – The Story

“He would want the story finished,” Rudy said. He opened the book. At first there was just he and Karl in the Sunroom. Soon others joined them, beginning with Mrs. Krantz. For Rudy, it was a eulogy for his friend.

“My gawd,” Mrs. Krantz said, “what a gruesome thing.”

Rudy began with the description of Snorri’s bodyguard being hacked to death as he dozed on a bench at the door of Snorri’s home in Reykholt.

“You might as well keep reading now that you’ve started and tell us the whole sordid thing.” She tilted her head so her good ear leaned in Rudy’s direction.

“Gissur Thorvaldson received a letter from King Hakon describing Snorri as a traitor, that he conspired with the treasonous Earl Skuli and they meant to have Norway and Iceland for themselves. Gissur, now as a King’s man, could have Iceland as the King’s Earl, that Norway and Iceland could be united and all the internal conflicts would be resolved once and for all. Gissur had the authority of Norway to make good his command over Iceland and all its people.

Gissur arrived at Reykholt in the night of the 23rd of September 1241, with 70 men. When Snorri became aware of them he fled. Gissur ordered Simon knútur and four others to find Snorri and kill him. Simon was reluctant but Gissur insisted. They broke through the door of Snorri’s house and searched his rooms. They saw him as he fled through a door, crossing a short path and into the small building where Snorri did his writing. He was an old man, fleeing through the dark of night in his sleeping dress, limping on his gout foot, squealing, and whining like a child as he ran.

The old man slammed the door behind him as he entered his garret but it just as quickly flew open and his adversaries stomped in. It was a small place, nowhere to hide, though Snorri pushed open a small door and made his way down a dark circular stairwell into the cellar of the building. Not a true cellar, a passageway to Snorri’s hot outdoor bath, his Snorralaug, just outside the bottom door. The passageway was a storage space. Nothing more than a few casks of ale and wine, hanging hardfiskur and hangikjot and whale oil stacked against the wall where Snorri fell, his back against a bale of sheep’s wool.

It was there, where Snorri stumbled, that he was come upon by Simon and his men, Markus Mardarson, Thorsteinn Gudnason, Thorarinn Asgrimson and Arni beisker. When they found him, Simon Knútur ordered the weak minded Arni beisker to kill Snorri.

‘Do not strike,’ said Snorri.

‘Kill him now’, Simon ordered.

‘No, do not,’ Snorri said again.

Arni looked to Simon who gave him the hard stare of command and Arni slung his hand axe down upon Snorri’s skull, splitting apart the bone, pushing one eye from the socket. Snorri was not yet dead, though his life was ebbing quickly through his mortal wound. Arni delivered a second blow, fatal, putting Snorri out of his misery and sending him from his life.

That is how Snorri Sturluson was killed, defenseless in the night, by common brutes without being able to plead for respite from Gissur or send any messages to him. Supposedly King Hakon is to have said that he would have preferred Snorri to live and learn to obey, but the killing of Snorri was nonetheless committed in the King’s name.”

Rudy closed the big red book.

“That’s just bloody awful,” Mrs. Krantz said. “Is that the end of the story then?”

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