In Miklagard (Istanbul)
Most of the Vikings in Constantinople (Miklagard/Istanbul) were from Sweden but there were also Danes and Norwegians. The most famous of the Varangians was perhaps Harald Sigurdsson (1015-1066) who later became King of Norway under the name Harald Hardrada (which means “hard ruler”). He was commander of the emperors bodyguard, the Varangians for many years. He led the Varangians into battle in North-Africa, Syria, Palestine and Sicily. He sent all the goods he could get hold of north to Holmgaard in Russia, to his father-in-law to be, King Jaroslav the Wise. “There was an accumulation of wealth such that no man of the north had seen in the possession of a single man”, said Snorre.
Harald Journeys Home
When Harald, after many years service, planned to go home he wanted to take with him the empress’s niece, Maria, but the empress said no. The Varangians said that there were rumours that Empress Zoe herself wanted Harald. Emperor Constantine imprisoned Harald, but Harald received help in escaping. He took Maria by force, grabbed a ship and rowed out of the harbour. When they reached the chain that protected the harbour he ordered everyone that wasn’t rowing to the back of the boat and the rowers rowed for their lives. When they had rowed the ship up on the chain he ordered everyone forward. The ship tipped forward and slid off the chain. They could continue on into the Black Sea towards Russia. But before going on to Norway he graciously sent Maria back to Miklagard with a company and married Jaroslav’s daughter Ellisif. They left for Norway in 1045.
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