Who was Einar and why is my house named after him?

Einar. It’s a great name. It’s an Old Norse name for ‘One Warrior’. It’s a fantastic name for our house. As soon as I saw Einar advertised in the Solicitor’s window I was fascinated by the name. Einar.

I looked up the name and found that one of the best-known bearers of the name was Earl Einar, Earl of Orkney. A 10th Century Norseman. Einar was the tall, ugly, one-eyed, bastard son of Rögnvald Eysteinsson of Møre in Norway, the son of a slave concubine.

Earl Rögnvald of Møre had three sons by his wife: Hrolf, Ivar and Thorir the Silent and three sons by other women: Hallad, Hrollaug and Einar. Hrolf was so big that no horse could carry him and he went on to conquor Normandy and the Norman Kings of England were descended from him. Earl Rögnvald’s son Ivar was killed fighting vikings, so King Harald gave Earl Rögnvald Orkney and Shetland in compensation for his lost son.

Rögnvald heard that two Danish vikings, Thorir Tree-Beard and Kalf Scurvy had set up camp on the islands. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, he asked his sons which of them wanted the islands. In a beautiful set-piece verbatim piece of 1000 year old reportage, Thorir answered that the Earl himself should decide. To Hrollaug he said “You’re not destined for the Earldom, your fate will take you to Iceland.” Then Einar came forward and said “Do you want me to go to the islands? I can promise you the greatest favour you could wish for, and that’s never to have to see me again. There’s little enough here to hold me, and I don’t see myself as being any more of a failure elsewhere.”

Rögnvald replied, “Considering the kind of mother you have, slave-born on each side of her family, you’re not likely to make much of a ruler. But I agree: the sooner you leave and the later you return, the happier I’ll be.”

Einar was given a fully equipped ship of twenty benches and given the title of Earl. He sailed west to Shetland, gathered forces and then south to Orkney and killed Thorir Tree-Beard and Kalf Scurvy in battle. He took over the islands and became a great leader. With that kind of parenting, who can imagine his mentality.

As the psychologists say, “If it’s not your mum, it’s your dad.”

Wikipedia: Einar Rögnvaldarson, Torf-Einarr or Turf-Einar (fl. early 890s–920s) was one of the Norse Earls of Orkney. His rise to power is related in sagas which apparently draw on verses of Einar’s own composition for inspiration. After battling for control of the Northern Isles of Scotland, Einar founded a dynasty which retained control of the islands for centuries after his death.

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