Blot-Sweyn

Blot-Sweyn

was probably made by Sweyn and his family, as it mentions two people named Sweyn and Møy. It is the only existing mention of the name Møy ("maiden") as a girl's name beside the mention of Sweyn's sister "Mær" (the Old Icelandic form of "Møy") in "Hervarar saga", and it is contemporary with Sweyn. [cite web
url = http://runeberg.org/runor/0083.html
author = Erik Brate
date = 1922
title = Sverges runinskrifter
publisher = Project Runeberg
] ] Blot-Sven ( _sv. Blot-Sven, "Sweyn the Sacrificer") was a Swedish king c. 1080cite web
url = http://runeberg.org/nfbc/0419.html
title = Blot-Sven
publisher = Nordisk familjebok, Project Runeberg
] , who replaced his Christian brother-in-law Inge as King of Sweden, when Inge had refused to administer the blóts (pagan sacrifices) at the Temple at Uppsala. There is no mention of Sweyn in the regnal list of the "Westrogothic law", which suggests that his rule did not reach Västergötland.

Becoming king

The earliest source that deals with Blot-Sweyn's coming to power is the Icelandic legendary saga "Hervarar saga":

cquote|King Ingi married a woman called Mær who had a brother called Svein. King Ingi liked Svein better than any other man, and Svein became thereby the greatest man in Sweden.cite web
url = http://www.home.ix.netcom.com/%7Ekyamazak/myth/norse/kershaw/Kershaw1s-hervor-and-heithrek.htm
title = The Saga of Hervör and Heithrek
date = c. 1325
author = translation by Nora Kershaw
]

However, Inge did not permit the people to follow the old ways, unlike his father Stenkil. The Swedes reacted strongly and asked Inge to either comply with the old traditions or abdicate. When Inge proclaimed that he would not abandon the true faith, the people pelted him with stones and chased him away. This was the opportunity for Sweyn to assume power, and the account provided by "Hervarar saga" concerning his inauguration contains a rare description of the ancient Indo-European ritual of horse sacrifice:

Legend of Saint Eskil

The later "Legend of Saint Eskil" tells that Inge was chased away from the kingdom. They then elected an idolator for king by the name Sweyn, an unworthy man and with reason called "Blood-Sweyn". He had this name because he made the people drink blood from bulls that had been sacrificed to the gods, and he ate the sacrificial meat. The infidels assembled around their king in Strängnäs, where they butchered oxen and sheep, and gave offerings to their gods. They had a great banquet in honour of the king and their gods. The English bishop Eskil then appeared and tried to convert the pagans to Christianity. They would not listen, however. Eskil prayed, and God sent thunder, hail, snow and rain destroying the sacrificial altar and beasts of sacrifice. Not a single drop fell on the bishop. The pagans were not impressed and furiously, they attacked Eskil. A diviner named Spåbodde hit him on the head with a stone, while another man crushed his head with an axe. Some chieftains dragged the dying martyr to the king saying that Eskil had used magic arts to control the weather. As soon as the unrightful king had sentenced Eskil to death, he was taken to the valley where the monastery later was founded, and he was stoned to deathcite web
url = http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/spanga/historien/helgontexter/eskil2uppsatt.htm
title = Legender från Sveriges medeltid
pages = 272-273
publisher = Church of Sweden
]

This legend is, however, considered to be a later invention by the Church as more reliable sources date Eskil's death to c. 1016, several generations before Blot-Sweyn.

How Sweyn was killed

According to "Hervarar saga", Sweyn's rule was not to last. Before long, the Christian Inge decided to kill the Pagan Sweyn in a less than honourable way:

A similar account also appears in the "Orkneyinga saga", but in this account, Sweyn stays indoors and is burnt to death:cquote|Christianity was then young in Sweden; there were then many men who went about with witchcraft, and thought by that to become wise and knowing of many things which had not yet come to pass. King Ingi was a thorough Christian man, and all wizards were loathsome to him. He took great pains to root out those evil ways which had long gone hand in hand with heathendom, but the rulers of the land and the great freeholders took it ill that their bad customs were found fault with. So it came about that the freemen chose them another king, Sweyn, the queen’s brother, who still held to his sacrifices to idols, and was called Sacrifice-Sweyn. Before him king Ingi was forced to fly the land into West-Gothland; but the end of their dealings was, that king Ingi took the house over Sweyn’s head and burnt him inside it. After that he took all the land under him. Then he still went on rooting out many bad ways. [cite web
url = http://www.northvegr.org/lore/orkney/009.php
title = The Orkneyingers Saga
author = Translated by Sir G. W. Dasent, D.C.L.
date = 1894
publisher = Northvegr Foundation
]

uccession

It is possible that Ingi was not immediately accepted by the stubbornly pagan Swedes of Uppland. The 13th century historian Snorri Sturlusson wrote in the "Heimskringla" that Blót-Sweyn had a pagan successor who continued the sacrifices (Eirik Arsale):

Blot-Sweyn is believed to have been the father of Eric of Good Harvests (Eirik Arsale)cite web
url = http://runeberg.org/nfbg/0412.html
title = Erik
publisher = Nordisk familjebok, Project Runeberg
] . This Eric is mentioned by a plausible source as the father of Sverker the Eldercite web
url = http://runeberg.org/swkyrhis/1/0382.html
title = Svenska kyrkans historia
date = 1838
publisher = Project Runeberg
] , and so Blot-Sweyn could be the progenitor of the House of Sverker.

Notes


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