« on: June 16, 2005, 08:45:47 AM »
You be the Judge.
Here is an excerpted synopsis of Einar Sokkasonís saga from Jared Diamondís ďCollapseĒ. Jared provides the synopsis and I did the excerpting.
A Typical Week In the Life of a Greenland Bishop: The saga of Einar Sokkason
While off hunting with 14 friends, Sigurd Njalsson found a beached ship full of valuable cargo. In a nearby hut were the stinking corpses of the shipís crew and its captain Arnbjorn, who had dies of starvation. Sigurd brought the bones back to Garder Cathedral for burial, and donated the ship itself to Bishop Arnald for the benefit of the corpses of the souls. As for the cargo. He asserted finders/keepers rights and divided it among his friends and himself.
When Arnbjornís nephew Ozur heard the news, he came to Garder, together with the relatives of others of the dead crew. They told the bishop that they felt entitled to inherit the cargo. But the Bishop answered that Greenland law specified finders/keepers, that the cargo and ship should now belong to the church to pay for masses for the souls of the dead men who had owned the cargo,, and that it was shabby for Ozur and his friends to claim the cargo now. So Ozur filed a suit in the Greenland Assembly, attended by Ozur and all his men and also by Bishop Arnald and his friend Einar Sokkason and many of their men. The court ruled against Ozur, who didnít like the ruling at all and felt humiliated, so he ruined Sigurdís ship (now belonging to Bishop Arnald) by cutting out planks along the full length of each side. That made the Bishop so angry that he declared Ozurís life forfeit.
While the Bishop was saying holy mass in church, Ozur was in the congregation and complained to the Bishopís servant about how badly the bishop had treated him. Einar seized an axe from the hand of another worshipper and struck Ozur a death-blow. The bishop asked Einar, ďEinar, did you cause Ozurís deathĒ? ďVery true,Ē said Einar, ďI have.Ē The Bishopís response was: ďSuch acts of murder are not right. But this particular one is not without justification.Ē The Bishop didnít want to give Ozur a church burial, but Einar warned that big trouble was on its way.
In fact, Ozurís relative, Simon, a big strong man, said that this was not the time for merely big talk. He gathered his friends Kolbein Thorljotsson, Keitel Kalfsson, and many men from Western Settlement. An old man named Sokki Thorisson offered to mediate between Simon and Einar. As compensation for having murdered Ozur, Einar offered some articles including an ancient suit of armor, which Simon rejected as rubbish. Kolbein slipped around behind Einar and hit him between the shoulders with his axe, just at the moment when Einar was bringing down his own axe on Simonís head. As both Simon and Einar fell dying, Einar commented, ďIt is only what I expected.Ē Einarís foster-brother Thord rushed at Kolbein, who managed to kill him at once by jabbing and axe into his throat.
Einarís men and Kolbeinís men then started a battle against each other. A man called Steingrim told them all to please stop fighting, but both sides were so mad that they thrust a sword through Steingrim. On Kolbeinís side, Krak, Thorir, and Vighvat ended up dead, aw well as Simon. On Einarís side, Bjorn, Thorarin, Thord, and Thorfinn ended up dead as well as Einar, plus Steingrim counted as a member of Einarís side. Many men were badly wounded. At a peace meeting organized by a level-headed farmer called Hall, Kolbeinís side was ordered to pay compensation because Einarís side had lost more men. Even so, Einarís side was bitterly disappointed in the verdict. Kolbein sailed off to Norway with a polar bear that he gave as a present to King Harald Gilli, still complaining about how cruelly he had been treated. King Harald considered Kolbeinís story a pack of lies and refused to pay a bounty for the polar bear. So Kolbein attacked and wounded the king and sailed off to Denmark but drowned en route. And that is the end of this saga.