The book is dedicated to the information preserved in the sagas and skaldic poems on the visits of the four Norwegian kings to Rus, namely Olafr Tryggvason in 977–986 (Chapter One), Olafr Haraldsson in 1029-1030 (Chapter Two), his son Magnus from 1029 till 1035 (Chapter Three), and Haraldr Sigurdarson in the early 1030s and in 1043-1044 (Chapter Four).

The circumstances of their appearance in Rus are quite different. According to the sagas, Olafr Tryggvason, at the age of nine, is rescued from the Estonian captivity by his mother's brother who comes there to collect taxes for the Russian prince Vladimir Svjatoslavich, ransoms the boy and takes him to Holmgardr to the court of Prince Vladimir. Olafr Haraldsson, after having been the king of Norway for hfteen years, flees from his political opponents to the Russian prince Jaroslav the Wise and his wife Ingigerd. After one winter in Rus, he decides to return to his own kingdom and to try to regain his dominion in Norway, but he leaves in keeping of the prince and his wife his six year old son Mag-nus, who he has come to Rus with. Haraldr Sigurdarson, at the age of fifteen, flees to Rus after the battle of Stiklastadir, stays here for some time, leaves Rus for ten years and serves in the Varangian guard in Constantinople, comes back to Rus, marries Jaroslav's daughter Elis-abeth, and returns to his country to become the king of Norway.

All the four Norwegian kings are seeking a short-time refuge in Rus and obtain it. They are welcomed by the Russian prince and his wife, and are highly honoured and respected here. Olafr Tryggvason and Magnus Olafsson are brought up by the Russian prince (Vladimir and Jaroslav, correspondingly). Olafr Tryggvason, Olafr Haraldsson, and Haraldr Sigurdarson occupy a high position in the Russian military service. АН of them leave Rus for their own country in an attempt to gain (or regain) power in Norway. Old Norse sources have reflected the activity of Jaroslav the Wise in the field of foreign affairs: the Russian prince is said to use not only diplomatic means and military support of the Norwegian kings, but also espionage and bribery of the leading chieftains in Norway.

The life of the Norwegian kings in Rus is described in the sagas with great laconicism, and with the help of a set of common phrases. On the one hand, this manifests the lack of concrete information. On the oth-er hand, it reflects the saga authors' tendency to exaggerate the role of a noble Scandinavian outside his own country. Still, the very fact that these four kings had been to Rus (in spite of the absolute ignorance of the Old Russian sources in this matter) can not be denied. A basis for such statement is the existence of skaldic strophes, composed by the contemporary poets, mentioning the four kings' stay in Rus.

The study of the saga material would not convince us that these sto-ries had not been an invention of saga authors, a literary topos, an el-ement of the positive characteristic of a Viking-king, if there had been no skaldic stanzas within these fragments. But Hallfredr Vandraeda-skald (ca. 996), Sigvatr Pordarson (1014-1015), Bjarni Gullbrar-skald (ca 1050), Arnorr Jarlaskald (ca. 1047), Bolverkr Arnorsson (llth century), Stufr inn blindi (ca. 1067), and Pjodolfr Arnorsson (ca. 1065), all of them, quoted by saga authors, confirm the saga in-formation.

Skaldic poems not only prove certain concrete facts, but also bear а more general information on the character of political contacts between Rus and Norway in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. Their data demonstrate that at this particular period of time the relations between the two countries were no longer a result of military and trade activities of some enterprising individuals or Viking gangs, but start-ed turning into the inter-state contacts.


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