La hache dans les sagas islandaises, compilation

Compilation par Fabrice Guillou, basé sur le document de Hurstwic :

(commentaires en rouge, traduction en cours)

Lexique :

  • « halberd » ?? (kesja)
  • öxi, exi, handoxi=handaxe, höggöxi, breiðöx=broadaxe
  • bolöx = wood axe (outil?) pole axe ?

  • Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa (Saga de Bjorn, champion des gens de Hítardalr)

It hit his helmet and glanced off, and the spike at the back of the axe caught his shield strap. Bjorn was wounded in the chest and, secondly, in the leg, but neither was a serious wound.

unarmed man grapples with a man armed with an axe running in under the axe to grapple

He saw that Thorstein was pale, and suspected that he had come as an assassin. He recoiled a little from him, giving him an opening. Thorstein quickly showed what was weighing on his mind; he raised the axe, meaning to drive it into Bjorn’s head, but Bjorn ran in under the blow, for it was just what he had expected.

He took hold of Thorstein by the waist and lifted him up against his chest. Thorstein lost his grip on the axe, which fell down. Then Bjorn flung him down, not gently, so that there was little need to do more, then grasped his windpipe and strangled him until he was dead, for Bjorn had no weapon with him.

Bjorn rushed out at them so suddenly that they were quite unprepared, and he laid hands on them both. There was a great difference of strength between them; it did not turn out as they had intended. He bound them with their hands behind their backs, but left their legs free, and used no weapons on them. Then he stuck their axes under their bonds at the back and told them to go and show themselves to Thord.

  • Brennu-Njals saga (Saga de Njáll le Brûlé)

In his hand he had a large axe which he owned, with an iron-wrapped handle.

He went up to the house with his axe on his shoulders – it was quite bloody. Hallgerd was outside and said, « Your axe is bloody. What have you done? » « I’ve done that which will permit you to marry a second time. »

Thjostolf walked around with his axe at the ready and behaved atrociously, but no one took notice of him.

example of parrying a sax blow with an axe

Glum was enraged and struck at him with his short-sword, but Thjostolf put his axe in the way and the blow hit the axe-blade and cut into it the width of two fingers. Thjostolf quickly struck a return blow with the axe. It hit his shoulder and split the shoulder-bone and the collar-bone, and the wound bled internally. Glum seized Thjostolf with his other hand with such force that he fell, but Glum was not able to keep him there because death was upon him.

« Then she was not the cause of it, » said Hrut, and drew his sword. Thjostolf saw this and did not want to be the second to strike a blow, and quickly swung his axe at Hrut. Hrut slipped swiftly away from the stroke and hit the side of the axe-blade so sharply with his left hand that the axe flew out of Thjostolfs hand. With his right hand Hrut swung his sword at Thjostolfs leg, above the knee, so that only a small piece was left holding the leg together. At the same time he rushed at him and knocked him down. Hrut then took a swing at Thjostolfs head and dealt him his death-wound.

Kol charged towards him … and he swung the axe at his head and struck him his death blow.

With that, Atli thrust his spear and hit him in the waist. Kol swung his axe at him and missed, then fell off his horse and died at once.

avoiding a thrown spear by throwing oneself to the ground so the spear passes overhead

Brynjolf walked through the smoke right up to him; the man was furiously at work and did not see him. Brynjolf hit him on the head with his axe, but he moved so quickly that Brynjolf lost his grip on it, and Atli grabbed his spear and threw it at him. Brynjolf threw himself to the ground, and the spear passed over him.

« Now pick up the axe which has been lying here. » Brynjolf made no reply and picked up the axe – but not before Atli was dead.

parrying an axe blow with another axe by chopping through the haft

Brynjolf rode at Thord and swung at him. Thord struck back with his axe, and cut the handle of Brynjolf’s axe in two, just above the hand, and at once struck a second time and hit him on his chest and went deep inside. Brynjolf fell off his horse and was dead on the spot.

« Skarphedin was sharpening his axe, Grim was fixing a shaft to his spearhead, Helgi was riveting the hilt on his sword, and Hoskuld was securing the handle on his shield. »

He turned to face Skarphedin and thrust at him with his spear and it struck the shield. Skarphedin cut through the spear-shaft with his axe and raised his axe again and swung at Sigmund, and it struck the shield and split it down to below the handle.

Sigmund drew his sword with his right hand and struck at Skarphedin, but the sword hit the shield and stuck fast there. Skarphedin twisted the shield so quickly that Sigmund lost his grip on the sword. Then Skarphedin swung at Sigmund with his axe; Sigmund was wearing a corselet, and the axe came down on his shoulder and cut through the shoulder blade.

Skarphedin then pulled the axe toward himself, so that Sigmund fell forward on both his knees, and at once he jumped up. « You bowed to me just now, » said Skarphedin, « and you’ll fall on mother earth before we’re through. »

an axe blow on the helmet is a death blow

Skarphedin struck him on the helmet and after that struck the death blow.

Gunnar had walked away from his house all alone, with a basket of seed in one hand and his hand- axe in the other. He went to his field to sow grain. He put his finely-woven cloak and the axe on the ground and sowed grain for a while.

Skammkel ran up behind Gunnar and swung a great axe at him. Gunnar turned quickly to face him and struck the underside of the blade with his halberd; the axe flew out of his hand and out into the Ranga river. Gunnar went at him with the halberd a second time and thrust it right through Skammkel and lifted him into the air and threw him head first on the clay path.

Onund of Trollaskog hit the dog in the head with his axe, and it went right into the brain.

Hrapp then went ashore with his weapons; in his hand he had a large axe with a handle bound in iron.

He ran at them with his axe raised and took a swing at Hrapp’s leg

Hrapp sprang to his feet … and seized his axe.

Hrapp walked in holding his axe high.

Gudbrand asked, « Why is your axe bloody? »

Grim said that an axe was lying there with its edge pointing up. He crawled over to it and used it to cut the bowstring with which he was bound, but cut his arms badly; then he freed Helgi. After that they crept overboard and came ashore, without the earl and his men knowing.

« I won’t be stingy about driving my axe into your head. »

He saw all his sons with their weapons, and also Kari, his son-in-law. Skarphedin was in front, in a black jacket. He was holding a small round shield and had his axe ready on his shoulder.

Skarphedin jumped up as soon as he tied his shoe, and he had his axe at the ready.

Thrain was about to put on his helmet, but Skarphedin came at him first and swung his axe at him and hit him on his head and split it down to the jaw, so that the teeth fell out on the ice.

Grim and Helgi saw where Hrapp was and rushed at him. Hrapp swung his axe at Grim. Helgi saw this and swung at Hrapp’s arm and cut it off, and the axe fell to the ground. Hrapp spoke: « What you did was needed – that arm brought wounds and death to many a man. » « This will put an end to it, » said Grim and thrust his spear through him. Hrapp fell down dead.

He rushed back into the booth until he came up to Lyting, and hit him in the head with his axe so that it sank all the way to the back edge, and then he pulled it toward him. Lyting fell forward, dead on the spot.

He was dressed in a black tunic and blue-striped trousers and high black boots; he had a silver belt around his waist and was holding in his hand the axe with which he had killed Thrain – he called it Battle-Ogre – and a small shield, and around his head he had a silk band, with his hair combed back over his ears. He looked like the complete warrior, and everybody knew him, even without having seen him before.

Skarphedin stood with his axe at the ready and grinned and said, « I had this axe in my hand when I leaped twelve ells across the Markarfljot river and killed Thrain Sigfusson; eight men were standing around him and they didn’t touch me. »

example of using the horn of the axe to kill

Hroald Ozurarson ran to where Skarphedin was standing and thrust at him with his spear. Skarphedin hacked the point off his shaft and ran at him and swung his axe at him, and it came down into the shield and smashed it against him; the upper point of the blade hit him in the face, and he fell back dead on the spot.

A wood-axe was lying in a corner of the cross-bench. Asgrim grabbed it in both hands and leaped up to the edge of the cross-bench and took a swing at Flosi’s head. Glum Hildisson happened to see what was coming, jumped up at once and grabbed the axe above Asgrim’s grip and turned the blade toward him – Glum was a powerful man. Many others jumped up and were ready to rush Asgrim. Flosi said that no one should harm him – « for we pushed him too far, and he only did what he had to do, and showed that he is a very bold man. »

example of using the horn of the axe to kill

Thorgeir Skorargeir came up to Hallbjorn the Strong and made such a lunge at him, with one hand, that Hallbjorn fell over and had a hard time getting to his feet; then he fled. Thorgeir next met up with Thorvald Thrum-Ketilsson and at once swung at him with the axe Battle-Ogre, which had belonged to Skarphedin. Thorvald took the blow on his shield, but Thorgeir split the entire shield and the upper point of the blade hit his chest and went into his body, and Thorvald fell at once, dead.

example of killing one person on the backswing, another with the forward swing

Thorgeir Skorargeir rushed to where Thorkel Sigfusson was standing. Another man came at Thorgeir from behind, but before he could get in a blow Thorgeir swung Battle-Ogre with both hands so fast and hard that on his back-swing the hammer of the axe hit the head of this man behind him and smashed his skull into small pieces; he fell down dead on the spot. And when he swung the axe forward it came down on Thorkel’s shoulder and chopped off his arm.

Thorgeir swung his axe with both hands, and the lower point hit the shield and split it in two and the upper point split the collar bone and tore deep down into his chest. Kari came up then and cut off Leidolf’s leg at mid-thigh. Leidolf fell down dead.

  • Droplaugarsona saga (Saga des fils de Droplaug)

Then Thorgils struck at Hallstein with an axe belonging to Helgi Draplaurgarson, and he needed nothing more than that to cause death.

  • Egils saga (saga d’Egill, fils de Grímr le Chauve)

At their parting, Eirik presented Thorolf with an axe, saying he wanted Skallagrim to have it.

The axe was crescent-shaped, large and inlaid with gold, and its hilt was plated with silver, a splendid piece of work.

When he was in Skallagrim’s house he passed on King Eirik’s greeting and presented him with the axe that the king had sent.

Skallagrim took the axe, held it up and inspected it for a while without speaking, then hung it up above his bed.

Then he went up to them with his axe ‘King’s Gift’ and struck at both oxen with it in one blow. It chopped off the oxen’s heads, but when it went right through and struck the stone the mount broke completely and the blade shattered.

Skallagrim inspected the edge without saying a word, then went into the fire-room, climbed up on a bench and put the axe on the rafters above the door, where it was left that winter.

Before Thorolf left Borg, Skallagrim went up and took down the axe, the gift from the king, from the rafters above the door.

The handle was black with soot and the axe had gone rusty. Skallagrim inspected the edge, then handed it to Thorolf, speaking this verse:

Thord handed Egil an axe he had been holding, a common type of weapon in those days.

They were all carrying shields and wearing helmets and had axes and spears as well.

Steinar gave Thrand a big axe, measuring almost one ell across the head of the blade, and razor- sharp.

Thorstein went up to the top of the cliff, carrying an axe which was not very large, and no other weapons.

Then Thrand sat down to tie his shoe, and Thorstein raised his axe high in the air and struck him on the neck, so that his head fell onto his chest.

Skafti took a fair-sized hand-axe in one hand and struck the skull with it as hard as he could, to try to break it.

He took hold of her and drove an axe into her breast.

  • Eyrbyggja saga (Saga de Snorri le godi)

a boy dips his axe into a pool of blood after the end of a fight, and act viewed with approval by the adults

Kjartan … had a small axe in his hand, and he ran over to the bush and dipped the axe in the blood.

…there was … no weapons around except a small axe and a large carving-knife which he was using to bore holes in the barrow. The knife’s blade was a hand wide at the handle.

using the back of the axe to deliver a non-lethal blow

They all rushed to the other side, away from the whale carcass, and Thorir led the charge. Ospak turned at once towards him and dealt him a blow with the back of his axe. The blow landed on his ear, and he fell down unconscious. Those near him grabbed him and pulled him over to them, crowding around him as he lay there unconscious.

Thorir had a bear-hunting knife in his hand and rushed at Ospak, lunging at him, but Ospak averted the blow. Since Thorir had thrown himself into a lunge which did not find its mark, he fell forward onto his knees with his head bent over. Ospak then struck down on Thorir’s back with his axe and there was a loud crack.

Then one of Thorir’s companions rushed up and struck at Ospak, but he parried with his axe, the blow striking the shaft so that it broke in two, the axe then falling down.

hooking an axe over the edge of the fortification to get in

Snorri and his supporters kept up such a barrage of missiles that Hrafn and his men retreated behind the wall of the fortification. Then Thrand Strider made a running leap at the wall, jumping high enough to be able to hook his axe oyer the top of the wall and then pull himself up by the axe- handle until he got onto the fortification.

  • Finnboga saga ramma (saga de Finnbogi le Fort)

Some fitted handles to axes, and some attached spears to shafts, each according to his abilities.

… he saw Uxi running after him with a two-handed axe. As soon as he came within striking distance he aimed a blow at Finnbogi. The latter turned to meet him but Uxi missed. His blow landed on the frozen earth and he fell forwards and lay flat on the ground. He sprang up quickly and at once struck a second time and a third. Finnbogi soon grew tired of his frenzy, took off his cloak, turned quickly towards him and struck at his feet. Uxi, however, fell suddenly so that his head hit a stone, and he died instantly.

parrying an axe attack with a shield by diverting it

At that moment Sigurd Brettingsson thrust at Finnbogi where he was unprotected. His thrust landed above the knee and cut right through, creating a big wound. Finnbogi then thrust through Sigurd’s shield and through Sigurd himself, pinning him down to the frozen ground. Then Grim ran forward with an enormous axe, intending to sink it into Finnbogi’s head. Finnbogi, however, warded it off with the remains of his shield and diverted the blow, while striking Grim’s shoulder with his sword and cutting down through it.

a intnetionally non-lethal blow with the back of the axe

When the guests were ready to leave, Berg the Bold went up to Kol and struck him a blow on the head with the back of his axe so that he at once fell down unconcious.

  • Fljótsdæla saga (saga de Fljótsdæla)

Thorkel attacks Gunnar Thorkel saw a man in a black tunic and a grey cape walking ahead. The man was very strong- looking but not tall. He had a shining axe in his hand. He was blond-haired, even featured and handsome.

parrying a sword blow with an axe

He sprang up and grabbed a sword that was lying on the seat. It was called Skofnung, and it was lost with him later in Breidafjord. Thorkel drew the sword immediately and jumped across the fire and struck at Gunnar. He raised the axe over his head. Thorkel’s blow landed on the axe-blade but missed the man. Thorkel struck so hard that the sword more or less stuck in the axe-blade. Gunnar reacted quickly and raised the axe.

  • Fóstbræðra saga (Saga des frères jurés)

He had a broad axe, a mighty weapon, keen-edged and sharp, with which he had sent many a man to dine in Valhalla.

Lance + hache

He had a spear in his right hand and turned the point forward. In his left hand was an axe.

When Butraldi was about halfway up, Thorgeir placed his spear underneath him, with the spearhead facing forwards, raised his axe to shoulder height and slid down the snow towards Butraldi. He heard the sound of Thorgeir whizzing down and looked up, but before he knew what was happening Thorgeir struck him full on the chest with his axe and cut right through him and he fell back down the slope.

example of using a spear to parry an axe blow

Thorgeir used the shaft of his spear to divert the blow and then, wielding his axe in his right hand, he struck Skuf on the head and split him to the shoulders.

When Thorgeir saw this he drew his axe in the air and let it fall on the man’s neck.

an example of killing an innocent man simply for the pleasure of testing a weapon

The axe bit well and the head went flying off and landed some distance away.

He rode armed with shield, spear, and axe.

Bouclier + hache dans la main gauche et lance dans la droite

Thorgeir, seriously concerned that Snorri might kill the animals, jumped down from his mount, holding his shield in front of him and an axe in his left hand. In the other hand, he had a spear with which he attacked Snorri, forcing him back towards the sheep-house where the fellow tried to defend himself with his spear.

Then Thorgeir threw down his spear and took up his axe in his right hand, Snorri attacked him fiercely through the opening in the roof.

Thorgeir deflected the blows with his shield and axe, seeking only to cut the shaft from Snorri’s spear and he did not stop until he had succeeded.

As soon as he had broken Snorri’s spear, he jumped in through the opening with both axe and shield and struck him such a hard blow to the head that he cleaved it right through and killed him instantly.

using an axe to parry

Then Gaut struck out at Thorgeir, who deflected the blow with his axe and in the process took a slight wound on the leg. Some men ran between them, grabbed hold of them and held them fast.

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 on the ground, dead.

Thormod had Bjarni make his a special broad axe and told him how we wanted it to be. It was hammered right down to the cutting edge, had no weal to obstruct it, and was thus extremely sharp.

Then he hid his axe under his fur cloak

Then Thormod struck him so hard between the shoulder blades that the axe sunk in up to the shaft.

Before he could remove the axe from the wound, Falgeir leapt down

parrying a spear with an axe

He recognised Thormod and struck at his chest with his spear. Thormod deflected the blow with his axe, but the spear caught him on the calf of his leg and wounded him badly. Ljot thrust forward as he attacked Thormod, and as he did, Sigurd struck him full between the shoulder blades and made a great wound.

An example of throwing an axe. Thormod was wounded so he could scarcely move his leg, so he threw his axe at Kar. …

He threw his axe at Kar

Always holding his broad-axe double handed, he hacked his way through the ranks of the enemy, and no one in his path had the least desire to be dispatched for the night with its blade.

As the man went up to Thormod to look at his wound, Thormod swung his axe at him and wounded him badly.

He was girded with a sword that King Olaf had given him and carried his axe in his hand, but he had no shield.

The king asked him why he was not dressed for battle like the other men and why he carried no shield. « Do you think the men of Trondheim don’t know how to fight? »

Thormod answered, « They shall discover today that my axe is both my shield and my armour. »

le fer de hache s’envole

He hacked away with his axe in both hands in the first fray and then, when the head flew from the shaft, he fought with his sword for the whole of the final assault known as Dagshrid.

  • Gísla saga Súrssonar (saga de Gísli Súrsson)

example of intentional non- lethal blow with back of axe

Berg hit Thorstein with the back of his axe, but Thoregeir came between them and prevented Thorstein from responding.

an example of cutting of a spearhead with an axe

The man thrust out at Gisli with a spear, and Gisli struck back, shearing the head from the shaft. But the blow was so fierce that his axe smashed against the rocky ground and the blade broke off. He threw it down and took up his sword instead, fighting on and guarding himself with his shield.

  • Grettis saga (Saga de Grettir)

… Thorfinn ran up to him and struck him between the shoulderblades with an axe, which sunk in with a squelch.

a leather flask blocked an axe blow and prevented injury

… the axe went into the leather flask without wounding him.

a disarm by grabbing an incoming axe haft and wrenching it free

Skeggi seized his axe and struck at Grettir. Seeing this, Grettir grabbed the shaft of the axe with his left hand, above where Skeggi was holding it, and wrenched it free in an instant. Grettir struck him with the same axe right through to his brain.

Arnbjorn saw the assailant, grabbed hold of Grettir and pushed him so hard that he fell to his knees. The axe struck him on the shoulderblade, ran down it and out under his armpit, causing a deep wound.

an axe sticks in the ground after a blow and is difficult to remove

The axe had stuck in the ground, Hjarrandi was slow in pulling it back out, and Grettir struck at him, slicing off his arm at the shoulder.

Grim swung his axe and buried it between his shoulderblades.

« You creep up behind him and drive your axe between his shoulderblades with both hands. »

  • Grænlendinga þáttur

Just as he came up behind Einar and struck him an axe-blow between the shoulders, Einar’s axe landed on Simon’s head, and they both received their death wound.

example of thrusting with the point of the axe

Then Thord, Einar’s foster-brother, charged at Kolbein and wanted to strike him, but Kolbein side- stepped him and jabbed the point of his axe blade into Thord’s throat, and he died on the spot.

  • Gull-Þóris saga

He then dug his axe into the wall and pulled himself up that way.

Orn stopped and raised a big axe he was carrying. Gudmund jumped off his horse, ran at him with his spear, and thrust it into him. Orn countered the attack, swinging his axe at him above his shoulders. The shaft broke in two, but the tip of the head entered Gudmund’s shoulderblade, and he received a minor wound.

He rode on a painted saddle and carried an inlaid axe over his shoulder whose edge measured nearly an ell. (50 cm)

The man then dismounted and sank his axe into the horse’s head, which died at once.

  • Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls

He recognized Gunnar immediately and attacked him with a big axe, but Gunnar defended himself with his shield.

  • Hallfreðar saga (Möðruvallabók) (saga d’Hallfreð)

The earl thanked him and gave him a great axe inlaid with silver

And afterwards, a battle of words flared up between them, which ended with Hallfred springing up and striking Ottar his death-blow with the axe Hakon’s Gift.

Then Hallfred said, « Now we have three jobs. You, Onund, will collect wood you have a big axe. Audgisl will make the fire and 1 will fetch water. »

Now Onund came in with his load. He sprang suddenly at Hallfred, and struck at him two-handed with the axe, but it hit the knife on the belt.

Then Hallfred got to his feet from under him, with the help of God and the luck of King Olaf. Next he pulled Onund up and hurled him down with such a crash that he lay unconscious, and the axe flew out of his hand.

Gris shot a spear at Hallfred, but he caught it in mid-air, and shot it back at Gris. Einar tried to ward it off with his axe, but the spear pierced Einar’s chest and he fell dead.

  • Harðar saga og Hólmverja and Hávarðar saga Ísfirðing

Example of throwing an axe

Thorvald Blackbeard suddenly turned towards Sigurd and shoved a spear through him. Sigurd had been defending himself with an axe. He threw the axe at Thorvald and it sank into his head. Both of them fell to the ground dead.

He then held out an axe and indicated that someone should kill Hord, but no one would do it.

Le fer tombe du manche

They attacked Hard vigorously. There he slew another six men. Then the axe fell off the shaft.

At that moment Thorstein Gold-button struck him on the nape of the neck with a long-shafted axe, because none of them dared to come at him from the front or to attack him, although he was unarmed.

Olaf went well into the room. He carried his axe in front of him. When he came to the cross-bench, he set the shaft of his axe on the floor and leaned upon it, but no one greeted him, all keeping their silence.

Entrée en lutte sous l’attaque à la hache avec un coup de genou dans les parties

When Thormod felt the strength in the man before him, he leapt onto the bench beside the bed, Olaf leapt up and reached for his axe, intending to strike him a blow, but not quickly enough, for Thormod slipped under his grasp and clutched him around the waist. Olaf countered, and the most furious struggle commenced. Thormod fought so hard that he tore Olafs flesh wherever he grabbed hold. Everything in their way was smashed, and suddenly the light went out. Olaf found this scarcely better. Thormod then attacked in earnest, and finally they found themselves outside. In the field lay a large piece of driftwood, and it chanced that Thormod caught his heels on the log and fell onto his back, Olaf drove his knee into his groin, and, when he got the chance, dealt with him in a manner he found fitting.

He ran outside and down the hill to where they were fighting. Thorbjorn saw him and attacked furiously, but Olaf did not see him. And when Skarf got into striking range of Olaf, he struck him with both hands between the shoulder blades so that the axe bit deep. Olaf had been about to strike Thorbjorn, but when he received the blow, he turned around quickly. Skarf no longer had his axe, but Olaf already had his axe raised, and he struck Skarf in the head, so that it stuck fast in his brain. At that moment Thorbjorn came up to them and struck him in the chest. That too was a sufficient death blow, and they both fell. Thorbjorn then went to Olaf and struck him across the face, so that his front and back teeth popped out. Vak asked, « Why do that to a dead man? » He said they would come in useful later.

It is told next that Brand the Strong ran up and tore up a launching roller – it was a large whale rib – and drove it into the head of Hallgrim’s foster-father. Hallgrim had just come down from the ridge and saw that An had fallen. He ran at Brand with a raised axe and struck him in the head and split it down to his shoulders, just as Thorbiorn and Havard leapt into the sea. He then leapt in after them.

It is said that Ljot … sank his axe into the head of every man who would not let go of whatever he wanted …

two young boys kill a powerful dueler an example where an axe blow doesn’t bite, but does damage the joint

They were carrying hand axes, small but sharp. They stood and waited until Ljot got near the shed. He hurried past them. Ljot had a wood axe in his hand. He went on his way and pretended not to see the boys. And as he passed them, Thorstein struck Ljot on the shoulder. The axe did not bite, but the blow was still so forceful that the shoulder went out of joint. When Ljot saw that the boys were intent on pestering him, he turned quickly and raised his axe, intending to strike Thorstein. And just as he raised his axe, Grim ran at him and cut off his hand above the wrist. The hand fell to the ground with the axe. Then they did not hesitate between blows, and strange as it may seem they killed Ljot the Dueller then and there without being injured themselves. They buried him in the snow and went on their way.

  • Hrafnkels saga Freysgoði

He had an axe in his hand but no other weapons.

  • Kormaks saga (saga de Kormak)

using the back of an axe for a blow

Kormak struck him a blow with the back of an axe and spoke:

Kormak said he would use a large and sharp axe.

  • Króka-Refs saga

parrying a spear thrust with an axe

Grani had an axe in his hand and parried the thrust

  • Laxdæla saga (Saga des gens du Val-au-Saumon)

In parting, the earl gave Olaf an axe inlaid with gold, a prize weapon…

Bolli was still leaning against the wall of the cabin, holding his cloak tightly to contain his entrails. Steinthor Olafsson rushed at him and struck him a blow on the neck just above the shoulders with a great axe, severing his head cleanly.

He wore a plated mail-coat and a steel helmet with a brim as wide as the width of your hand. He held a gleaming axe over his shoulder, the blade of which was an ell in length. The man was dark, with black eyes and the appearance of a viking.

an example of axe throwing

Helgi then charged out through the door so forcefully that those men standing next to it fell back. Thorgils was standing close by and struck at him with his sword, landing a blow on his shoulder that left a large wound. Helgi turned toward him with a wood axe in his hand, saying, « This old fellow still dares to face others. » He threw the axe at Thorgils, striking him on the foot and giving him a severe wound. When Bolli saw this he charged at Helgi with Leg-biter in his hand and thrust it through Helgi, dealing him his death wound.

Thorleik Bollason turned to face Eyjolf, who was a strong man. Thorleik struck him a blow with his sword on the thigh just above the knee which cut off his leg, and he fell to the ground dead. Hunbogi the Strong charged at Thorgils and swung his axe at him, striking him on the spine and splitting him in two in the middle.

…Snorri made him a present of an inlaid axe.

Beinir stood behind them with a large axe in his hand.

« It would have been absolutely fatal; he would have brought his axe down on your head the moment I appeared likely to make a move. »

  • Ljósvetninga saga (C-recension) (Saga des gens du Ljosvatn)

an inappropriate use of an axe

It is told of the brothers that when they were young, Gudmund had a bald foster-father whom he loved greatly. One day when he was sleeping outside in the sun, mosquitoes kept settling on his bald spot. Gudmund drove them away with his hand, thinking that his foster-father would be bitten. « Use your axe on his bald spot, brother, » Einar said. He did so, aiming the axe so that it nicked the bald spot and made it bleed, but the mosquito flew off. The old man woke up and said, « It’s a hard thing when you take weapons to me, Gudmund. » « Now I realise for the first time that Einar’s advice to me isn’t well intended, » he replied, « and this probably won’t be the last time. »

A woman uses weapons to foretell the future.

Some time passed, and early one morning Gudmund rode off alone to Vodlar. Thorhild was outside dressed in breeches and with a helmet on her head and an axe in her hand. She said to him, « Come with me now, Gudmund. » She headed down to the fjord and seemed to grow in stature. She waded out into the shallows and struck her axe into the water, and Gudmund could observe no change. Then she came back and said, « I don’t think there will be men to take up vengeance against you. You will be able to keep your honour. »

an axe horn used to injure

Hoskuld attacked Oddi head on as they were turning their horses. And his axe tip caught him between the shoulders. They managed to get back to their own bank. « That wasn’t a smooth ride, » said Oddi.

A more detailed than usual description of a battle.

Then they attacked each other fiercely. Otrygg acted as if he could see no one but Eyjolf. Thorvard was not especially aggressive at first. Otrygg thrust his spear at Eyjolf, who was wearing a red tunic. He had girded up the skirt of the tunic, and Otrygg’s thrust went into the folds. Thorstein the Mighty brought his axe hammer down so hard on the spear that it drove the spear blade into the ground. Otrygg bent down for it, and when Eyjolf saw that, he pierced Otrygg through with his spear. He twisted away, fell in the stream, and died there. There was no need then to goad Thorvard.

Thorvard made a rush and stepped over Otrygg, but Starri ran at him and held him back. At that moment Eyjolf landed a blow on Thorvard’s thumb, and the joint was left hanging from the sinew. Thorvard asked Oddi from Myvatn to help him. He was the son of Thorgeir Axe-staff, the son of Grenjad, and descended from Fell-Oddi. He was married to Thorvard’s sister Vigdis. Oddi rushed at Starri and delivered a blow with the hammer of his axe so that Starri fell head over heels. Thorvard was hampered by his wound and he wanted to twist off his thumb.

  • Reykdæla saga og Víga-Skútu

he struck at Thorir with the axe called Fluga (Fly) and gave him his death-blow.

Around the time of Yule or a little before, a beam for hanging the washing on fell down and a woman came to Skuta and asked him to put it up and immediately he went there and with him his winter’s lodgers. Then Skuta supported the beam at the middle on his shoulders and Olaf and Thorgaut set the forked support poles under the ends of the beam. Then Olaf struck at Skuta but he leapt from under the beam which fell down between them and the blow did not hit him. He was unarmed because Fluga was standing against the wall. Then Thorgaut leapt at him with a raised axe and was about to strike at him and then Skuta grasped a cudgel which lay beside him and struck against the axe with the cudgel the women used to pound the washing with, and he struck so hard that the axe flew out of Thorgaut’s hand. And it is said that then Skuta seized the axe and immediately struck Olaf his death-blow with that axe

an axe blow between the shoulders

Eyjolf went there then and moved the door from the opening. Bjarni reached out and intended to put the door in front of the opening. Eyjolf saw that and it is said he cut Bjarni’s arm off above the wrist when he reached out for the door. Then Bjarni leapt out of the sheep-barn with his axe and asked Eyjolf to wait for him and he did so. And as soon as Bjarni came in reach he struck at Eyjolf with his other hand and the blow took his shield off and then dug into the ground. Then Eyjolf struck Bjarni between the shoulders and that was a death-blow.

using a wood axe to kill

Skuta went where he had seen a man with a bundle of firewood and exchanged clothes with the man and took up his burden and went west over the river and had a woodcutting axe in his hand. Then Thorgeir’s men ran at him to bargain for the wood and mobbed him roughly. And then Thorgeir saw that and ordered them to let him be. And when he intervened in this, then down fell the burden and in that instant he – Skuta – raised the axe and immediately gave Thorgeir his death- wound.

an example of a man routinely carrying a weapon

Skuta had Fly in his hand and a helmet on his head. On this matter, people do not tell the same story. Some people say, as it says here, that it was an axe and was called Fly, but some that it was a sword and was called Fly. But whichever it was, Skuta always had that weapon in hand and so it was at this time.

  • Svarfdæla saga

In the morning the brothers went to Thorolfs weapon chest where Thorstein found a wood axe that he thought suited his temperament, fitted it with a shaft from a broadaxe, and then went to a brook and sharpened it. He carried this axe ever after as a weapon.

Thorstein asked why his axe was bloody.

Then Klaufi went home, and when Gris saw him, he asked him why his axe and clothing were bloody.

He was so angry that he slammed his axe into the ground and buried it up to the shaft.

Someone had placed a pair of gloves on the ground next to an axe inlaid with silver. Karl picked both up and laid them on his knees. He repeatedly stroked the axe and did not go to the horse-fight.

It was Thorkel Skidason who had left his gloves and axe there on the ground, and when the horse- fight was over, he began to look around for his gloves and saw that Karl was stroking his axe.

« It appears to me that you also think the axe is fine, and I suggest that you accept it and the gloves together as compensation for your father. »

Karl leapt up and hurled the axe away so that it dashed against a rock, completely shattering the blade. Karl then found another place to sit down.

Thorkel went to Ljotolf and showed him what the fool had done to the axe: « Now he has shown just what a complete idiot he is. »

  • Valla-Ljóts saga

description of Ljot two moods, and weapons to suit; an axe with a haft wrapped with iron double blade axe

He was a big man. This was a token of his moods: he had two kinds of attire, a short black tunic and a snag-horned axe, wrapped round the haft with iron; he was thus fitted out when the killing mood was upon him. But when he was in a good mood he wore a brown tunic, with an inlaid, double- bladed axe in his hand.

They saw a man walk away from the farm, and he was dressed in a black tunic and had a double- bladed axe in his hand. He went into the pen and drove out the sheep. Then Gudmund ordered them to jump up and seize him, but not to attack him with weapons. Ljot saw them coming and turned back, holding the axe in front of him, and leapt down into the gorge. But the snow was in fact frozen underneath in the glen, and he raced down along the glen and came to no harm.

Gudmund parries a thrown spear with an axe, and calmly picks up the spear and takes it home.

Gudmund said, « There he goes, » and threw a spear at him, but it struck the axe. Ljot picked up the spear and went home.

  • Vatnsdæla saga (Saga des chefs du Val-au-Lac)

He then came to the fortification and managed to hook the axe onto it and then hauled himself up by the shaft and in this way entered the fortification.

a man hears a weapon whistling through the air and avoids the attack

One morning Gudbrand asked him to get him a horse, and walked outside with Thorir behind him. And as Gudbrand came to the threshold he bent down, and Thorir aimed a blow at him, and when he heard the axe whistling, he got himself through the doorway and Thorir’s blow hit the beam which ran from the barge-rafter. The axe stuck fast in the beam, and Thorir ran away out of the yard with Gudbrand in pursuit. Thorir leapt over the river chasm, and lay there flat out. Gudbrand hurled his sword after him and it hit him in the midriff. He had tied the bridle around himself and the sword hit the bridle ring. Gudbrand jumped over the river and ran up to Thorir, but he was dead by then. He threw earth over him where he lay. There were notches made in the sword, and one was the size of a finger tip. The sword was later sharpened; it was the finest of weapons.

« What are you prepared to do … in return for my giving you the axe… »

a youth (12 years) kills a man in order to acquire an axe

Thorkel Scratcher came into the main room and brushed past Silver and bumped into his foot; and Silver kicked him away and called him a slave-woman’s son. Thorkel leapt up onto the seat right by him, and buried the axe in his head, and Thorkel Silver died instantly, and Thorkel said that he had not had to do too much to acquire the axe.

a woman takes up a weapon; men disarm her with clothing

Hild picked up an axe and said that none of them would take it from her. Thorgils believed that Thorkel must still be there, and told his men to carry a protective wad of clothing against the women. They did so, but Thorkel was not found.

  • Viga glums saga (Saga de Glúmr le Meurtrier)

Eyjolf had a sword and a small axe.

… he walked about in the forest amusing himself with his axe by cutting down the trees that appealed to him.

  • Víglundar saga

Each brother was carrying his axe in his hand

They began to fight and their struggle went on for a good part of the day, and it was impossible to guess who would win. Viglund realised that he could not continue to fight against Jokul on account of his wounds and exhaustion. Therefore he threw up the shield and the axe, and since he could fight equally well with either hand he caught the shield with his right hand and the axe with the left. Jokul could not follow this manoeuvre and Viglund cut off his right arm all the way to the elbow.

  • Vopnfirðinga saga

He had in his hand a great wood-axe with a long shaft

He had in his hand a small wood-axe …

  • Þórðar saga hreðu (Saga de Þòrđr l’Impétueux)

He broke into the mound and took King Hrolf’s sword, Skofnung – the best sword that ever came to Iceland – and the axe which Hjalti the Resolute had owned. But he did not take the sword Laufi from Bodvar Bjarki, becasuse there was no way he could bend his arms.

an example of an intentional non-lethal blow with the back of an axe

« It’s bad to have a slave for your best friend, » Ozur said, and hit him with the blunt side of his axe, so that he collapsed.

  • Þorsteins saga Síðu- Hallssonar

« You have served me well and bravely. Let me give you this axe inlaid with gold.

« Also, take both your axes … « 

Thorstein took the axes and weighed them in his hand …

Thorvard, who was a very stout man, sat down. Just as he was sitting down, Thorstein dealt Nadd his death-blow. And when Thorvard tried to stand up, Thorstein dealt him his death-blow before he managed to get to his feet. Then Helgi came out, darted behind a stone which was in the hayfield and defended himself from there. He was both big and strong, and an excellent warrior. Thorstein attacked him, and they fought for a while. But a man called Sigurd the Wealthy, who was in Thorstein’s party, ran towards Helgi and thrust his spear at him. But at the same time, Thorstein hacked at Helgi with the axe, and killed him.

Bilan :

  • On peut utiliser le « marteau » pour assommer.

  • On peut utiliser la hache pour parer.

  • On peut utiliser la pointe du fer pour tuer.

  • Combinaisons : lance + hache, bouclier + hache dans la même main et lance dans l’autre.

  • Technique : briser la hampe de lance avec sa hache (Fóstbræðra saga (Saga des frères jurés ), lancer de hache (action un peu désespérée sauf dans Laxdaela saga)

  • Le fer peut sortir du manche

  • Les cibles sont variées : tête, bras, jambe, corps, omoplates (souvent citées)

  • une hache peut être cachée sous un manteau ou une cape

  • On note des tailles variées, la hache peut être utilisée à 2 mains

  • On utilise la hache 2 fois pour escalader un mur

  • La hache peut être un objet luxueux, qu’on offre.

  • Une femme habillée en homme lance une hache dans l’eau pour prévoir le futur (Ljósvetninga saga (C-recension) (Saga des gens du Ljosvatn )

  • On parle de gants (Svarfdæla saga)

  • Mention d’une hache à 2 tranchants (Valla-Ljóts saga)

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