Harald Wartooth: Wanted Valhalla but Always Won Battle
Viking legend had it that there once was a Viking warrior who became very very old. He devoted all of his life fighting in the battles along with his brothers. While almost all brothers were transcended into Valhalla, he was never touched by the blade. He was ageing and thinking his brothers were feasting along with the gods. The old man became envious and wanted a warrior death. He was Harald Wartooth Viking King and Berserker.
Background and Youth
Harald Wartooth was born around the end of 7th century and the beginning of 8th century. He was the son of a princess named Audr the Deep-Minder and the King of Zealand Hrœrekr Ringslinger. However, the identity of his parents varied from sources to sources.
According to a tale dating back to the 13th century, Harald Wartooth first rose to his power when his grandfather unintentionally killed himself in the battle. The old man was trying to kill the Midgard Serpent which could only be killed by Thor God of Thunder in Ragnarok. The serpent which measured as high as a skyscraper and the old man decided to fight it with bare hands. As a result, his death wish was granted. Harald was the only survivors during this voyage. He was just 15 years old with 3-year experience of being a warrior.
Harald came home and walked into the hall of the royal family. He declared himself as the new leader of this clan and everyone should accept it as soon as possible.
But how could the old Viking royal men accept a reign of a 15-year-old boy? They assembled and voiced their disagreement. Of course, both sides didn't do anything wrong from their viewpoints. What's wrong was who could gain the upper hand if a civil war broke out.
Harald could take the throne because he was a legal heir to the throne and the Viking men could also voice their disagreement with a new reign.
With the axe he had been using for the last three years, Harald Wartooth chopped down everyone who dared to say a word of disagreement with him.
Under the reign of Harald Wartooth
Harald Wartooth roughly after taking up his throne decided to go raiding around North Europe. He pillaged around the territory of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. He savagely crushed all the lines of the victims and spared no life. In the victim countries where he triumphed, he installed his kinsmen as the jarls. Harald Wartooth forced everyone to pay tribute to him. And no more options, every of the victim had to do what he wanted.
Harald Bluetooth was a Viking berserker who worshipped Odin
According to the legends, Harald had the nickname "Wartooth" because he lost two teeth during a battle. And unexpectedly, two teeth grew out of the same spot.
Mythology held it that Harald Wartooth joined the battle without wearing any armour. He was aided with Odin's power as he worshipped Odin. This all made Harald Wartooth become a berserker. In Viking saga, a berserker was a Viking warrior that went into battle without fear. A Viking berserker was a pagan worshipping Odin and they all wished to be ascended into Valhalla when they died.
There was an old man who Harald consulted every time he was about to battle. The old man was believed to be Odin the Allfather. He suggested the right strategy to Harald Wartooth so that he could win the battle easily. Because of this, Harald never fell in the battle. All the warriors of his youth had been feasting with the gods up in Valhalla and he was stuck there to fight and live with the mortal men.
The reign of Harald Wartooth lasted roughly 55 years which could be considered to be a long period back in the Viking Age.
Death wish granted, he was to live in Valhalla
Quickly, Harald realized he was about to meet his demise on his bed. This was the least wanted death back in the Viking Age. Because to die of old age or sickness would never be honored and only the honorable death could stay in Valhalla.
Then he suggested his nephew Sigurd Hring that a fight should be triggered off between them. There the legendary battle of Bråvalla came into being. There came the deafening sound of the horns and the battle began. Arrows came from all directions and they started exchanging spears. Both armies seemed to be equal. Although Harald Wartooth at this time was very old, he fought as if he was in his prime of youth.
After hours of brutally fighting this last battle, Harald Wartooth was mortally wounded. At that time, Harald was unable to walk properly because of cuts on his legs. He rode a chariot to continue the battle until a deadly force blew him out of the chariot.
Harald Wartooth on the chariot in his last battle (Cre: Lorenz Frolich)
Seeing the empty chariot came across, Sigurd Hring realized that Harald Wartooth was no more. Sigurd ordered a cease-fire and they started looking for the deceased Harald. They found him buried under other warriors' corpse. He did die a warrior death which promised him a seat up in Valhalla.
The day after, people from his kingdom held his funeral. They erected a pyre ship and placed Harald there. When the fire lit the pyre, they started throwing things into the flames as a sacrifice for the Deceased King. Sigurd then took on the title of King of Denmark after the death of Harald Wartooth. Sigurd Hring later fathered Ragnar Lothbrok a great Viking king. He was also the grandfather of Ivar Boneless.