Eric Anundsson

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Eric Anundsson or Eymundsson (died 882) was a Swedish king who ruled during the 9th century. The Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok identifies Eric with the legendary Swedish king Erik Weatherhat.

He is given as the son of Anund Uppsale in Hervarar saga:

Eiríkr hét sonr Önundar konungs, er ríki tók eptir föður sinn at Uppsölum; hann var ríkr konungr. Á hans dögum hófst til ríkis í Noregi Haraldr hárfagri, er fyrstr kom einvaldi í Noreg sinna ættmanna.[1]
Eric was the son of king Anund, and he succeeded his father at Uppsala; he was a rich king. During his reign, Harald Fairhair came to power in Norway, Harald was the first of his kin to reign as a monarch in Norway.

However, the Eric who was contemporary with Harald Fairhair is called Eymundsson by Snorri Sturluson. Since the preceding king is confirmed as Anund by other sources (Rimbert and Adam of Bremen), Anundsson is probably the correct form of the patronym. The names Eymund and Anund were equivalent enough for the later king Anund Jacob to be called Emund (Eymund), in the Westrogothic law. Consequently, Eric's patronym would not be the only instance where the two names were confused.

According to Hervarar saga, he was preceded by his father Anund Uppsale and uncle Björn at Hauge and he was succeeded by Björn (the father of Eric the Victorious and Olof Björnsson). Landnámabók informs that Eric and his son Björn ruled during the time of the Pope Adrian II and Pope John VIII, i.e. in the period 867-883, the time of the first settlement of Iceland. Harald Fairhair's saga relates that Erik died when Harald Fairhair had been king of all Norway for ten years, i.e. 882.

Erik is mentioned in several places in the Heimskringla. In the saga of Olaf Haraldsson, Thorgny Lawspeaker relates:

My grandfather Thorgny could well remember the Uppsala king Eirik Eymundson, and used to say of him that when he was in his best years he went out every summer on expeditions to different countries, and conquered for himself Finland, Kirjalaland, Courland, Esthonia, and the eastern countries all around; and at the present day the earth-bulwarks, ramparts, and other great works which he made are to be seen. And, more over, he was not so proud that he would not listen to people who had anything to say to him.

In Harald Fairhair's saga, Snorri Sturluson relates that Erik also wanted to extend Sweden westwards and to make a kingdom for himself as large as that of the Swedish king Sigurd Ring and his son Ragnar Lodbrok (i.e. Raumarike, Vingulmark and Westfold all the way to island of Grenmar). Thus he conquered Vermland, West Götaland and all the land south of Svinesund (modern Bohuslän) and claimed the shores of Viken as his own. He placed Hrane Gautske (Hrane the Geat) as Jarl of the land between Svinesund and Göta älv. In these territories the people accepted Erik as their king.

When King Harald Fairhair arrived at Tønsberg (in Viken, and at the time a trading town) from Trondheim, he learnt of this and became very angry. He assembled the ting at Fold and accused the people of treason, after which some had to accept his rule, while others were punished. He then spent the summer forcing Viken and Raumarike to accept his rule.

When the winter arrived, Harald learnt that the Swedish king was in Vermland, after which he crossed the Ed forest and ordered the people to arrange a feast in his tribute.

The most powerful man in the province was a man named Åke, who had formerly been one of Halfdan the Black's men, and he invited both the Norwegian king and the Swedish king to his halls. Åke had built a new hall instead of his old one, which was ornamented in the same splendid manner, but the old hall only had old ornaments and hangings.

When the kings arrived, the Swedish king was placed in the old hall, whereas the Norwegian king was placed in the new one. The Norwegian king found himself in a hall with new gilded vessels carved with figures and shining like glass, full of the best liquor.

The next day, the kings prepared to leave. Bidding his farewell Åke gave to Harald's service his own twelve year old son Ubbe. Harald thanked Åke and promised him his friendship.

Then Åke talked to the Swedish king, who was in a bad mood. Åke gave him valuable gifts and followed the king on the road until they came to the woods. Erik asked Åke why he, who was his man, had made such a difference between him and the Norwegian king. Åke answered that there was nothing to blame Erik for but that he had got the old things and the old hall because he was old whereas the Norwegian king was in the bloom of his youth. Åke also answered that he was no less the Swedish king's man than the Swedish king was his man. Hearing the words of treason, Erik had no other choice[citation needed] but to slay the impudent and treacherous Åke.

When Harald learnt of this, he pursued the Swedish king until they saw the Swedish king, but then they had arrived at the border of Götaland and considered it best to return. Harald then spent the rest of the autumn killing all the Swedish king's men in Vermland.

In the winter, Harald plundered and burnt in Ranrike. Then the Norwegians invaded Götaland and travelled far and wide in Götaland, winning most of the battles. In one of the battles, Hrane Gautske fell. Harald then proclaimed himself the ruler of all land north of Göta älv and north and west of lake Vänern and placed Guttorm Haraldsson to defend the region with a large force.

Eric Anundsson
Preceded by
Björn at Hauge and Anund Uppsale or (perhaps co-ruling with) Olof
Semi-legendary king of Sweden Succeeded by
Ring and/or Björn (III) Eriksson

See also[edit]