Aftermath of the Battle

FYRISVELLIR (c. 984 AD)

Jomsvikings vs. Swedish Leidang

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Björn Olofson, a.k.a. Styrbjörn the Strong, was the orphaned son of Olof, King of Sweden and the nephew of Eric, who he suspected of having poisoned his father. Denied his father’s throne, at age 16, he left with Eric’s blessing and 60 longships to become a Baltic raider, establishing himself as ruler of the Jomsvikings at Wolin and making alliance with the somewhat reluctant King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark against his Uncle Eric.

Intending to claim his father’s throne, Styrbjörn lead his Jomsvikings with 1000 longships first to Denmark, where by raiding, he forced King Harald to join him as hostage with 200 Danish longships. Then the combined fleet set sail to Sweden, following inland watercourses to Lake Mälaren. Alerted to their approach, King Eric raised the leidang to defend his Hall at Uppsala and planted obstacles in the water approaches on the advice of Þorgnýr the Law-giver. Thwarted, Styrbjörn landed his army and then burned his ships, pledging his followers to victory or death. King Harald was reluctant to support such a desperate endeavor and seized the opportunity to sail away with his 200 longships.

Styrbjörn’s army then marched on Uppsala, reaching Fyrisvellir (Fyris Wolds), a marshy plain south of Uppsala and the normal landing point for those visiting the great hall of the King.. Here King Eric had marshaled his leidang in preparation for the battle. As a stratagem, Þorgnýr the Law-giver had arranged for a herd of cattle to be tied together with spears and swords inserted in their harness. As Styrbjörn’s army approached, thralls drove the herd into the Jomsvikings, causing havoc in their ranks. The Jomsvikings, however, were able to recover their order before Eric’s forces could capitalize on the confusion. What followed was two days of stalemated battle, with neither side able to break the other.

Per legend, on the night before the third day of battle, both Styrbjörn and Eric invoked the blessing of the Gods. Styrbjörn sacrificed to Thor, but received omens of imminent doom, no doubt influenced by the arrival on the field of substantial reinforcements for King Eric.

Eric sacrificed to Odin (left), who purportedly manifested himself in the form of a tall man in a blue cloak and broad-brimmed hat and presented Eric with a spear and instructions to throw it over the Jomsvikings with an invocation to Odin.

As dawn broke on the third day, Eric cast the spear and a hail of “Odin’s arrows” fell over the Jomsvikings. The tide of battle had shifted to the Swedish king, and as the day progressed and all appeared lost, Styrbjörn lead his sworn men in a final desperate charge, and was killed. The battle raged until all were dead or had fled the field.

The battle is mentioned in several sagas including the Gesta Danorum or Danish Chronicle, although specific details are sparse. The archaeological record includes four rune stones reputedly associated with the battle:

  • The Hällestad Runestone in Skåne says: “Áskell placed this stone in memory of Tóki Gormr's son, to him a faithful lord. He did not flee at Uppsala.”
  • The Sjörup Runestone in Skåne relates: “Saxi placed this stone in memory of Ásbjörn Tófi's/Tóki's son, his partner. He did not flee at Uppsala, but slaughtered as long as he had a weapon.”
  • The Högby Runestone in Ostergotland states: “The good freeman Gulli had five sons. The brave champion Asmund fell on the Fyris.”
  • The Karlevi Runestone was raised by Danish warriors in memory of a great war chief on the island of Öland near the waterway, which was passed by the Jomsvikings when they went to Uppsala and back.

The Armies

Styrbjörn the Strong’s Jomsvikings (DBA III/40b).

Eric the Victorious’s Swedish Leidang (DBA III/40c), with mandatory Horde option and with addition of one element of stampeded cattle (treat as Scythed Chariot). Eric may also receive reinforcements (see special rule).

Deployment

Players roll normally for deployment for each day of battle.  Although the map shows a waterway (the river Fyris), stakes downriver have rendered it unnavigable and Styrbjorn has burned his ships, so no littoral landings are allowed.

The Map

Special Rules

Days:  The historical battle was fought over three days.  To simulate this in DBA, each day is represented by 12 game turns. At the end of 12 turns, unless victory conditions have been achieved, both sides disengage and retire to their respective camps. The next morning, armies redeploy as normal, with their army breakpoints adjusted accordingly.

Reinforcements:  On the third day, Eric may deploy reinforcements consisting of 1x 4Bd, 1x 3Bw and 1x 7Hd, with the army’s current breakpoint adjusted by +1

Desperate General:  On the third day, Styrbjörn the Strong may opt to deploy his CnC element as a 4Wb/Gen.

Victory Conditions

Normal.


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Last Updated: 18 August 2015

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