Sigur of Norway and his 10,000 Viking Crusaders help conquer Sidon

January 31, 2019

King Sigurd I of Norway and King Baldwin ride to the river Jordan.

After these conquests, the Pisans, the Genoese, and several warriors who had followed Baldwin in his expeditions, returned into Europe; and the king of Jerusalem, abandoned by these useful allies, was obliged to employ the forces which remained in repulsing the invasions of the Saracens, who penetrated into Palestine, and even displayed their standards on Mount Sion. He had given up the idea of subduing the maritime cities which still belonged to the Egyptians, when Sigur, son of Magnus, king of Norway, arrived in the port of Jaffa. Sigur was accompanied by ten thousand Norwegians, who, three years before, had quitted the north of Europe for the purpose of visiting the Holy Land. Baldwin went to meet the prince of Norway, and conjured him to join with him in fighting for the safety and aggrandizement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Sigur acceded with joy to the prayer of the king, and required nothing as a recompense for his labor but a piece of wood from the true cross.

Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, painted by Merry-Joseph Blondel

The patriarch of Jerusalem, in order to give additional value to that which the prince required, hesitated at first to grant it, and made with him a treaty at least as solemn as if it had concerned the possession of a kingdom. When they had both taken an oath to fulfill the conditions of the treaty, Sigur, accompanied by his warriors, entered Jerusalem in triumph. The inhabitants of Jerusalem beheld with surprise, mingled with their joy, the enormous battle-axes, the light hair, and lofty stature of the pilgrims from Norway; the presence of these redoubtable warriors was the sure presage of victory. It was resolved in a council to besiege the city of Sidon; Baldwin and Bertrand, count of Tripoli, attacked the ramparts of the place, whilst the fleet of Sigur blockaded the port, and directed its operations against the side next to the sea. After a siege of six weeks the city surrendered to the Christians; the knights of Baldwin and the soldiers of Sigur performed during the siege prodigies of valor, and showed, after their victory, the humanity which always accompanies true bravery. After this conquest Sigur quitted Palestine, accompanied by the blessings of the Christian people. He embarked to return to Norway, carrying with him a piece of the true cross, a precious memorial of his pilgrimage, which he caused to be placed in a church of Drontheim, where it was for a long time the object of the veneration of the faithful.

Joseph François Michaud, The History of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (New York, Redfield, 1853), 1:288-9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 663

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