Hake, Haki or Haco, the brother of Hagbard, was a famous Scandinavian sea-king, in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in the 12th century Gesta Danorum, and in 13th-century sources including Ynglinga saga, Nafnaþulur, Völsunga saga. If historical, he would have lived in the 5th century.
Snorri Sturluson wrote in the Ynglinga saga that Haki had amassed a great force of warriors and sometimes plundered together with his brother Hagbard (who himself was the hero of one of the most popular legends of ancient Scandinavia, see Hagbard and Signy). When Haki considered that he had amassed enough wealth and followers to make himself the king of Sweden, he proceeded with his army against the Swedish royal seat at Uppsala. Haki was a brutal warrior and he had twelve champions, among whom was the legendary warrior Starkad the Old.
On the Fyrisvellir (Fyris Wolds), south of Uppsala, there was a great battle in which the Swedish army was defeated. Haki and his men captured the Swedish champions Svipdag and Geigad and then they attacked the 'shield-circle' around the Swedish king and slew him and his two sons.
Haki and his warriors subdued the Swedish provinces and Haki made himself the king of Sweden. Then he happily sat in peace for three years while his warriors travelled far and wide and amassed fortunes.
The previous king, Hugleik, had two cousins named Eric and Jorund, who had become famous by killing Gudlög, the king of Hålogaland. When they learnt that king Haki's champions were gone plundering, they assembled a large force and steered towards Sweden. They were joined by many Swedes who wanted to reinstall the Yngling dynasty on the Swedish throne.
The two brothers entered Mälaren, went towards Uppsala, and landed on the Fyrisvellir. There they were met by king Haki, who had a considerably smaller force. Haki was, however, a brutal enemy who killed many men and lastly Eric, who held the banner of the two brothers. Jorund and his men fled to the ships, but Haki was mortally wounded.
Haki asked for a longship, which was loaded with his dead warriors and their weapons. He had the sails hoisted and set fire to a piece of tar-wood, which he asked to be covered with a pile of wood. Haki was all but dead when he was laid on top of the pile. The wind was blowing towards the water and the ship departed in full flame between the small islands out into the sea. This was much talked about and it gave him great fame.
Most legends surrounding Haki are probably lost. In the Völsunga saga, Gudrun and Brynhild have a discussion on the "greatest of men" referring to a legend now lost, where Haki's sons have not yet avenged their sisters by killing the evil Sigar (the feud with Sigar is still going on and Hagbard has not yet been hanged):
|“||"Good talk," says Gudrun, "let us do even so; what kings deemest thou to have been the first of all men?" Brynhild says, "The sons of Haki, and Hagbard withal; they brought to pass many a deed of fame in the warfare." Gudrun answers, "Great men certes, and of noble fame! Yet Sigar took their one sister, and burned the other, house and all; and they may be called slow to revenge the deed; why didst thou not name my brethren who are held to be the first of men as at this time?"||”|
In Gesta Danorum (book 7), Haki (Hakon) killed Sigar, avenging his brother Hagbard's death. In Gesta Danorum, Saxo Grammaticus gives Haki as a king of Denmark, and Hugleik, called Huglet(h)us, is an Irish king. The motivation behind the attack was to show that even the furthest kingdoms of the world might not be untouched by the Danish arms.
Saxo writes that Starkad and Haki brought their fleet to Ireland, where the rich and greedy king Hugleik lived. Hugleik was never generous to an honourable man, but spent all his riches on mimes and jugglers. In spite of his avarice, Hugleik had the great champions Geigad and Svipdag. When the battle began, the jugglers and mimes panicked and fled, and only Geigad and Svipdag remained to defend Hugleik, but they fought like an entire army. Geigad dealt Starkad a wound on the head which was so severe that Starkad would later sing songs about it. Starkad killed Hugleik and made the Irish flee. He then had the jugglers and mimes whipped and beaten, in order to humiliate them. Then the Danes brought Hugleik's riches out to Dublin to be publicly looted, and there was so much of it that none cared for its strict division. When Haki learnt that his brother Hagbard had been killed by Sigar, he avenged his brother. However, killing Sigar was not enough to satiate his thirst for blood:
|“||Then Hakon used his conquest to cruel purpose, and followed up his good fortune so wickedly, that he lusted for an indiscriminate massacre, and thought no forbearance should be shown to rank or sex. Nor did he yield to any regard for compassion or shame, but stained his sword in the blood of women, and attacked mothers and children in one general and ruthless slaughter.||”|
He was soon chased away by Sigar's son Siwald.
Nerman, B. Det svenska rikets uppkomst. Stockholm, 1925.
- The Völsunga saga, translated by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson.
- Book 7 of Gesta Danorum at Online Medieval and Classical Library.
|Mythological king of Sweden||Succeeded by