the Great Northern Army
The largest and greatest army of Iolans ever assembled, convened and led by Jarl Harald Hrósa and Hemming Hóarr of Holvika, Jarl Athrik Hilditǫnn of Throrkrir, Jarl Gundwin Heiftin and Harald Grensk of Archeau. The army invaded the Salic lands and was met with early success before it was defeated and smashed by Friedrich Eisenherz of Drestadt, the father of the first King of Menscha and all the Salians.
Then did they set out, on the high sun of the year 437,
a Thing called the followers of Harald the Proud, Lord of the North.
Hear you, Harald Eysteinssen, the signs of the land compel you South,
to the land of your enemies high browed and proud as thee. The power of fate now holds you, the trick of fame grips you,
do not listen to the vain and the proud, for they shall be your undoing,
do not listen to Athrikr Jarl who wishes to travel to Salic land.
For the dreams of your warriors have been ill and poor,
no glory won in the Southland,
only death and defeat, a banquet for crows. In spring, a voyage was prepared, and the power-hungry lord of the north sailed away
raised was the Hird and the land untilled, as iron sailed away to war.
Two hundred and five ships tore through the waves of the sea,
then joined another hundred of Hemming's dragon ships.
to the south then they trode, prowling the sea.
Joined were they by the ships of Gundwin and Athrikr Jarl. Then did they reach Rauðaborg and great battle was made.
the weak earls were carved up, their bones thrown to dogs.
Harald and his iron-ringed warriors rushed forth, battle-yearning
they slew them and threw them aside, iron tore flesh and screams
But Earl Torstein, dying at his feet, did tell Harald Jarl,
"soon shall you meet iron death, King of the North, amidst unmade bread." Harald and Hemming the next day roamed away with riches,
Gresk and Gundwin behind them, counting treasures and gold.
south then they went, gold and riches all round, ready for the taking,
take they did, rings from the dead and life from the living,
far off the sun gleamed, hot and heavy was the air, the stench of death all round. Further, did Harald and Hemming roam, no armor worn, none at all.
yet did the sun shining atop helms far off, glinting and flickering fire.
now come had the Salic king and many warriors were with him
proud in step did approach the southrider to do the business of his lord,
"Where then is the king of the Northmen? Does he hide? Is he afraid?" Battle fury came over Harald's men and out stepped he, sword at side.
"Step closer and you shall find him" roared strong Hrósa.
Harald swung his sword then at the rider, who did also,
their blades rang with a shrill
the rider, headless did flee, a roar went out among the men.
Let all the men reassemble, and so Gundwin Jarl ventured to the ships,
as quick as he could, for blades and armor, for battle would come. Yet so did Harald command his Hirdsmen, forward to take a field of wheat.
So go forth, Sigi War-Wolf, with a hundred men clamoring in armor,
to the field of wheat, awaiting the charge of the Salic men,
and long did they stand there, facing the enemy unbending.
and arrows fell from above, like fruit from shaken tree,
high was the shield yet their bite seeped through
crimson blood tainted wheat, and thus they were overcome. "Vaka Járn! Vaka Járn!" the iron Northmen awaken,
donned in mail and helm, they rode forth prideful and valiant
Harald, before his shield wall, hewed at the men before him.
The iron of his blade tore and bit at all before him,
loud was the roar of battle and wide was its call. Set sword against the enemy, set lance against shield, and ax down upon helm!
Shame on the fleeing man, shame on those not roused to battle,
Proud Harald Jarl rendered men low, dead knelt before him.
Ask well the Southmen if they doubt the battle-fury of the Northmen!
"Vaka Járn! Vaka Járn!" shed the blood of the Salic man, spill his blood, and drink it well. the valor of the Northmen was laid forth,
the banner of the burning sun came before them,
The golden flame of the Salics, their lord held it aloft pridefully.
With sword raised, the Salians ran forth, and the dance rumbled on,
Ironheart, hewed and hacked at the lanes of the Northmen, many fell.
Arrow fell and men died, sword fell and men died, spear pierced the side.
From the lance of the Salic king, fire seared hot, burning away the rank of the Northmen. Slaughter rang out along the wheat field, the Salics fell a great number,
their blades dripped with blood, their eyes mad and crazed like wolves
They overcame the army, ran through the ranks, and scattered the proud,
"Heja, Heja, Heja" laughed their king's men, bloodthirsty
Their steeds sounded like thunder in the mountain, their greeting was steel and death. In humiliation and duress, Harald lost hope and he flew away,
Before the arms of the Salics he fled, by direction of his Hird, cowards.
Yet so many remained, pitted to die so far away from home.
Under warm sun, arrows fell like rain, to the chest of Athrikr Jarl dead
T'was the bane of Northmen, for many fell to their bite.
Yet clutched the handle of the sword, Hemming refused death
"Even at the end, the eagle's claws remain open and sharp" arrow to eye, Hemming Jarl did die. The eagle lay dead, dead, rotten, and forgotten
carrion for the raven and crow upon battlefield,
the pride of the iron North laid low humbled forever,
the grip of power faded, turned to the heat of the land away,
atop the steeds and deeds of the Salic chosen
not the iron and spit of the Northmen. Never again did iron and steel win such glory as long ago.
Gold and silver came forth, shadowing steel and strength,
long and hard was the fall of the North, her wolves to dogs,
abandoning the call of their forefathers, frost dogs retreated away. Remember us they say, their bodies unmoving and uncovered,
remember us, for now, we cannot, bloodied and dead.
Now here we lie, on dry dirt, so far from home.
No mound graces our bodies, no stone raised, no peace in enemy land.
Yet laughing did we die, famed deed done, glory and death
warriors take their far ride to paradise, blade in hand and honor written,
to the halls of our fathers do we go, unashamed. Should any soul come to pass that hallowed land,
upon the wind and rock, all our voices shall whisper but this,
"Here did we stand, sons of the North, unafraid of death,
go tell our countrymen, here we rest now, by our law do we lie."
"Vaka Járn," the war-cry of the Great Northern Army means "Awaken Iron" in the Iolan language. The character of Sigi War-Wolf, who leads the vanguard of the army of the Northmen is thought to be fictional, a composite of Harald Grensk, a prized Huskarl, or household warrior, of Gundwin of Archeau. The author of the poem seems to discredit the memory of Grensk and attributes his role as the leader of the vanguard to another person. The golden banner of the Salians was called the Lorigflamme, the personal banner of the Salic people long flown in warfare. The banner traced back to the earliest stories of the Salians and was a prized artifact of Emperor Radimane who had it flown among his Salic troops. Tales of its ability to literally spit fire from its end were often attributed to the real practice of taking no prisoners when the banner was raised. The banner was given to Mauger, King of the Salians, and was prized at Drestadt, the fortress of the family of Friedrich Eisenherz, the Hohengoffs.
(Harald Hrósa and Hemming Hóarr plan the invasion of Salia)
(The death of Hemming Hóarr, shot in the eye by an arrow)
(The vanguard of Harald Grensk meets the Salic Army)
(Friedrich VIII Eisenherz Hohengoff, Reik of Dresdtadt and victor of Wiezenfach)