Battle on the Ice
Table of contents
The Swedish king Ohthere (Ottar Vendelkråka, who is often called the first historical king of Sweden) had died and his brother Onela (Áli) had usurped the Swedish throne. Ottar's sons Eanmund and Eadgils (Adils) had to flee to Geatland and seek refuge with the Geatish king Heardred. This made Onela attack the Geats and kill both Eanmund and Heardred. In order to avenge his king and kinsman, Beowulf decided to help Eadgils gain the throne of Sweden. During the battle Eadgils slew Onela and became the king of Sweden.
In the Norse sagas, some changes have appeared. Onela's name Ali hinn upplenzki "Onela of Uppland" was preserved but, Uppland, the core province of the Swedes had been confused with its Norwegian namesake Oppland, and so Onela was called a Norwegian king.
In Snorri's Edda, in the Kalfsvisa, the battle is mentioned in two places. In the first place, Snorri writes Áli rode Hrafn, as they rode to the ice, but a second one, a grey one, hastened, wounded by spears, eastwards under Adils. In the second place, Snorri recounts: They decided to fight on the ice of the water which is called Vänern... In this fight king Áli died and a great many of his people. Then king Adils took from him his helmet Hildisvín (battle-boar) and his horse Hrafn.
In the Ynglinga saga, Snorri relates that king Adils (Eadgils) fought hard battles with the Norwegian king who was called Áli hin upplenzki. They fought on the ice of Lake Vänern, where Áli fell and Adils won. Snorri relates that much is told about this event in the saga of the Sköldungs, and that Adils took Hrafn (Raven), Áli's horse.
The saga of the Sköldungs is lost but in the end of the 16th century, Arngrim Jonsson saved a piece of information from this saga in Latin. He wrote: There was animosity between king Adils of Sweden and the Norwegian king Áli of Uppland. They decided to fight on the ice of Lake Vänern. Adils won and took his helmet, chainmail and horse.
The accounts about the Battle on the Ice contain accurate information about this time and the Swedish Vendel Age. This time was characterized by the appearence of mounted warriors who fought on horseback, and by boar-crested helmets.
In the Battle of the Ice, the combattants are described as fighting on horseback, although, the later Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, who told about the battle in their legends, would fight on foot. Likewise, Onela's helmet is called the battle-boar although the boar-crested helmets would be long gone when the information was written down.
- Battle on Lake Peipus – 1242 battle of Teutonic Order, sometimes erroneously referred to as the Battle on the Ice, as well