07 September 2021

Enforcement of early Christianity

"Then [Eyvind Kinnrifa] was brought to King Olaf.  The king bade him to let himself be baptized like others.  But Eyvind refused.  The king with kind words urged him to accept Christianity, both he and the bishop giving him many reasons for so doing.  But Eyvind would not budge.  Then the king offered him gifts and great revenues, but Eyvind refused all.  Then the king threatened him with torture or death.  Still Eyvind would not budge.  Thereupon the king had a basin full of live coals brought in and put on Eyvind's belly, and soon his belly burst.

Then Eyvind said: "Take the basin away.  I want to say a few words before I die."  And that was done. 

Then the king asked, "Will you now believe in Christ, Eyvind?"

"No," he said, "I cannot accept any baptism.  I am a spirit brought to life in human shape by the sorcery of Finns, my father and my mother could have no child before."  Then Eyvind died.  He had been a great sorcerer..
-- from the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, in Snorri Sturleson's Heimskringla (c. 1230)

[King Olaf] investigated how Christianity was being kept, and when he considered that there was need of improvement, he taught them the right faith.  And he laid such stress on it that if he found anyone who did not want to abandon heathendom, he drove him out of the land.  Some he had maimed, having their hands or feet lopped off or their eyes gouged out, others he had hanged or beheaded, but left no one unchastised who refused to serve God... Always he punished both the mighty and the humble."
    -- from the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, in Snorri Sturleson's Heimskringla (c. 1230)

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