Death of King Haco in Orkney
It was here found advisable to grant the troops permission to return to Norway; as, to use the simple expression of the Norwegian Chronicle, "many had already taken leave for themselves." At first the king resolved on accompanying them; but anxiety of mind, the incessant fatigues in which he had passed the summer and autumn, and the bitter disappointment in which they ended, had sunk deep into his heart, and the symptoms of a mortal distemper began to show themselves in his constitution. His increasing sickness soon after this confined him to his chamber; and although for some time he struggled against the disease, and endeavoured to strengthen his mind by the cares of government and the consolations of religion, yet all proved in vain. At last, feeling himself dying, the spirit of the old Norse warrior seemed to revive with the decay of his bodily frame; and, after some time spent in the services of the church, he commanded the Chronicles of his ancestors the Pirate Kings to be read to him. On the 12th of December, the principal of the nobility and clergy, aware that there was no hope, attended in his bedchamber. Though greatly debilitated, Haco spoke distinctly, bade them all affectionately farewell, and kissed them. He then received extreme unction, and declared that he left no other heir than Prince Magnus. The Chronicle of King Swerar was still read aloud to him when he was indisposed to sleep, but soon after this his voice became inaudible; and on the 15th of December, at midnight, he expired.