Skagul is one of the words for battle in Old Norse and also the name of a Valkyrie. Tosti must have been a beast of a man in combat since he was given the name, but it was also said that the Valkyrie herself followed him on his expeditions, ensuring that he survived and won. He must have felt invincible, and there were little in his life that would have proved him otherwise.
Tosti was a powerful and wealthy Viking magnate sprung from the soil of Västergötaland in Sweden. Born around the 930s, Tosti lived in the stronghold of Aranäs and owned substantial holdings in both Västergötaland and Värmland. His most influential achievement, however, could be the introduction of a certain, bloody tradition among the Vikings raiding in England…
In the year 970 a huge Viking army hungry for battle and riches was led to the English shores by Skagul Tosti. The young Ulfr of Borresta from the earlier post was probably one of the warriors in the horde. The Vikings pillaged and plundered, collecting great riches, until a situation arose where the English desperately needed to rid their nation of the Northmen. They had tried to fight the Vikings with meagre success and the only option remaining were negotiations.
Where the parlay took place is not known, but one can assume that Tosti did his own talking, and that he required the presence of the enemy king across the table. Little did he know that his demand would eventually grow into a lucrative business of blood that allured Vikings from all over Scandinavia to seek the English coastline.
Pay or die….the choice is yours.
What Tosti demanded was Geld, which was a form of extortion where the English would have to pay huge amounts of silver to avoid their ravages. If the English wanted him to leave and take his army with him, it would cost them enough to make every warrior in his service a rich man. The English paid and the Vikings boarded their ships and sailed back to Scandinavia.
Skagul Tosti and his warriors returned triumphantly, each carrying large amounts of silver with them. Being a businessman, Tosti invested his earnings into large land areas in Vadsbo, Närke and Värmland in Sweden, further expanding his holdings and influence. The investment paid off and it is noted in Swedish land registers from 1231 that direct descendants of Tosti still owned parts of these lands bought for English silver. That’s an investment that is proven to have lasted at least 250 years and across 8 generations.
Worth noting is that the proof pointing out Skaul Tosti as the first to demand Geld are scarce, which leaves room for a lot of guessing. Proof can be found in sagas, runestones and so forth, but nothing of that would hold in a modern court of law. This is also why many consider Olav Tryggvason as the first Viking to take Geld in England in the year of 991, mainly because the content of that contract with King Ethelred II is preserved, thereby offering unquestionable proof. We at Grimfrost, however, consider Skagul Tosti as the person responsible for the bloody tradition.
Regardless of who brought home the first Geld, word about the exploit must have spread like wildfire among the Northmen and the following decades were filled with conflicts where Geld, or Danegeld, drained the English treasuries.