Oddi – November 1,
Truly, he was my father, for all purposes, fostered or not. Saemunder and Pall were the same as my brothers Thordur and Sighvat. My two families. There were so many others, Loftsson had many women, I thought they were wives, he was a very affectionate man, among his many other skills and talents. He loved women. I learned this skill from him I suppose. Not to say that was the only trait passed from my foster father to me, I had great admiration for his skill at poetry and the law and his ability to lead men, possess power and get his way. I have to say that these are the skills that brought me my own greatness. I suppose had I remained under Sturla’s roof I would have learned to bully and drink hard and connive. I suppose I have to thank him for making me into the man I became; him along with the priests and my other teachers and my brothers, fostered and true born.
It was a shocking thing when Loftsson died. We lost such a great politician. He was my father for fourteen years; I knew him infinitely better than I knew Sturla. They were very different men. One a sophisticated leader, the other a braggadocios ruffian. It is no secret which one I chose to emulate as my life’s model, though I did learn some lessons from Sturla that served me in hard situations. I confess that I was not the best bully, I did not have a truly aggressive seed within me. Some say I was more a coward than a statesman, but I deny that.
We were ‘people of the book’. Made that way by decree at the Althing, that we were all to be Christian. This of course all happened before my day but the declaration of it forced our way of life. I knew no different, educated from an early age by priests and religious scholars but it was Loftsson himself that told me about Valhalla and Thor and Odin and the others and it seemed to me that the Pagan view was much more free than the Christian. Much more interesting and exciting.
In the early days one could be both priest and chieftain but that changed, also by decree. Some didn’t care or follow such an absurd directive. I suppose that is why Loftsson chose to follow the path of the law rather than devote himself so much to the church. This lesson I learned well from him.
I missed him when he passed and I long suspected that some jealous faction may have found a way to make his end come sooner than it needed to come. He was old, but by all measure he was a vigorous healthy man right up to the moment that he wasn’t. Could it have been poison broth or inconspicuous tincture that hastened his end? It was my great fortune that my lessons were learned by the time he went and I was ready to seek my way in the world. I inherited his fondness for women, and it was this value that Thordur and Saemunder exercised, convincing me that I was ready for marriage, which negotiation they would take upon themselves, arranging a union that would lead to my greatest advantage, should I desire to have wealth and even a chieftainship.
It was a timely thing that my mentor Jon Loftsson departed this world at the very time that old Bersi Vermundarson was seeking a husband for his daughter Herdis. How opportune for a young graduate of the school at Oddi, with earned reputation and prestige, to find a marriageable hand that would not only bring an abundant dowry but whose father was so aged and near his end that his estate and chieftainship would very soon pass right into my hands. The girl was not entirely ugly in the face, though she was fairly simple in her thinking. Such be the case, there were plenty of other pretty faces and quick wits around for entertainment and pleasure.
The marriage negotiation was strengthened on my behalf by my first victory, in my first case, that I argued at the Althing. I was nineteen and though my skill at the law was learned from many at the Oddi school, I gave credit to my late foster father. To this day I miss my dear Jon Loftsson, though I speak to him often, in my thoughts.
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