Žormóšur Kolbrśnarskįld

born: 998 at Dyršilmżr in Snęfjallaströnd in Iceland
died: 1030 at Stiklarstašir in Norway

Society demanded that lost honor be recovered, but wise men knew that there was a proper time to do it. Grettir Įsmundarson said that a slave took vengeance immediately and a coward never. His implication was that a fool acted immediately without thought or restraint, while a coward never found the courage to act. A wise man waited until the proper moment. Žormóšur was one such man who knew the proper moment to deliver the blow.

Žormóšur traveled to Greenland to avenge the death of his foster-brother. He stayed Žorkell's farm and celebrate Yule there. Earlier during the celebrations, he had tussled with the slave Lošin, who people thought was paying too much attention to one of the women on the farm. On the morning after the feast, Skśfur and the other guests prepared to leave and go home, and only Žormóšur and his friend Bjarni were still lying on the benches. Lošin and three companions came in to the hall to settle the score.

As they came in, Lodin grabbed hold of Thormod's feet, tugged him down to the floor and dragged him across it. Bjarni leapt up, took hold of Lodin round the waist and threw him down hard. Then he cursed the others, who were still dragging Thormod and told them to let him go, and they obeyed him. Then the men left as if nothing had happened.

When Skuf and Bjarni were ready to set off, Thorkel came out to the boat with them along with his men. Lodin was close by the ferry boat and handed over their garments. Thormod was also close by.

And when it was least expected, Thormod drew out an axe from under his cloak and struck at Lodin's head so that he fell to the ground dead.

Fóstbręšra saga, ch. 22
translation: Martin S. Regal, The Complete Sagas of Icelanders, Leifur Eiriksson Publishing (1997).

After being dragged around, Žormóšur made light of the situation, saying he was used to much worse while playing skinnleikur, a rough-and-tumble skin-throwing game played on the benches in the longhouse. Yet, Žormóšur was not going to allow this affront to his dignity go unpunished.

Žormóšur waited for the proper moment, and as he boarded the ship to leave, he made his unexpected move. He drew a hidden weapon and struck a death blow. He and his companions drew in the gangplank. From on shore, the farmer Žorkell urged his men to attack if Žormóšur was not handed over, but cooler heads prevailed. A settlement was reached and compensation paid for the slave.

The following summer, Žormóšur traveled to the assembly in Greenland and achieved his ultimate goal: killing the man who killed his beloved foster-brother.


©2013-2024 William R. Short
Contact us at Hurstwic, LLC