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A little Bonde family history

July 10, 2016

Gold toned print

According to materials in the archives at Carleton College and elsewhere, the Bonde family, illustrated here, descended from Norwegian immigrants Tosten (left) and Ingabor (seated some distance to the right). They didn’t do much public display of affection in those days, unless you consider the number of their offspring a public display.

I have mentioned King Harald Harfegre the Fairhair as having given rise to this bunch of people, one of whom is my Grandfather Carl T. Bonde.  Here’s some material I lifted about this damned interesting fair-haired dude:

In the Saga of Harald Fairhair in Heimskringla, which is the most elaborate although not the oldest or most reliable source to the life of Harald, it is written that Harald succeeded, on the death of his father Halfdan the Black Gudrödarson, to the sovereignty of several small, and somewhat scattered kingdoms in Vestfold, which had come into his father’s hands through conquest and inheritance. His protector-regent was his mother’s brother Guthorm.

The unification of Norway is something of a love story. It begins with a marriage proposal that resulted in rejection and scorn from Gyda, the daughter of Eirik, king of Hordaland. She said she refused to marry Harald “before he was king over all of Norway”. Harald was therefore induced to take a vow not to cut nor comb his hair until he was sole king of Norway, and when he was justified in trimming it ten years later, he exchanged the epithet “Shockhead” or “Tanglehair” for the one by which he is usually known.

In 866, Harald made the first of a series of conquests over the many petty kingdoms which would compose all of Norway, including Värmland in Sweden, which had sworn allegiance to the Swedish king Erik Eymundsson. In 872, after a great victory at Hafrsfjordnear Stavanger, Harald found himself king over the whole country. His realm was, however, threatened by dangers from without, as large numbers of his opponents had taken refuge, not only in Iceland, then recently discovered; but also in the Orkney IslandsShetland IslandsHebrides IslandsFaroe Islands and the northern European mainland. However, his opponents’ leaving was not entirely voluntary. Many Norwegian chieftains who were wealthy and respected posed a threat to Harald; therefore, they were subjected to much harassment from Harald, prompting them to vacate the land. At last, Harald was forced to make an expedition to the West, to clear the islands and the Scottish mainland of some Vikings who tried to hide there.[3]

The earliest narrative source which mentions Harald, the 12th century Íslendingabók notes that Iceland was settled during his lifetime. Harald is thus depicted as the prime cause of the Norse settlement of Iceland and beyond. Iceland was settled by “malcontents” from Norway, who resented Harald’s claim of rights of taxation over lands, which the possessors appear to have previously held in absolute ownership.

If you’ve waded through this Wikipedia quotation, you get the idea of the voraciousness with which Harald ruled Norway, all for the sake of Gyda the Scornful.  Also the length of his hair.  And that he allowed his hair to become a tangle.  Perhaps like the dreadlocks of today.

I don’t know which of Harald’s twenty children of the fair-haired one was my forebear, but it may boil down to either one nick-named “blood-axe” or another with the pet name “the good.”  The material I saw doesn’t tell which.

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