The action of the play from beginning to end takes place in the solemn atmosphere of the Trondheim cathedral in Nidaros, the medieval capital of Norway. On the sides of the scene – funerary niches, in the center – the tomb of Harald, the grandfather of the ruling king Hakon Shirokoplechego. The closest to the spectators in the foreground are the massive temple columns, on one of them are the monograms “A” and “B” – Axel and Valborg, the names of the heroes of the play, whose love is doomed – they are the stepbrother and sister, and their mothers are buried right there in the cathedral.
However, Axel and Valborg were teased in “the bride and groom” in early childhood, when later their friendship began to grow into love, Axel was hurried to be removed abroad to Germanic lands where he, along with the Bavarian duke Henry Leo, fought successfully with the Vendian and the non-vandal the young man turned into a brave and self-confident
warrior. Axel is the ideal hero, and he certainly did not forget Valborg. Accustomed to victories, he did not give up on his beloved and obtained permission from the Roman pope Adrian for marriage – the papal bull tore him from Valborg blood relationship.
Full of bright expectations, Axel returns to his homeland. Appearing to Valborg in the guise of an old man, he checks her feelings and, convinced of her loyalty, demands from King Hakon to give his beloved to his wife. But the king also claims the hand of the beautiful Valborg and considers her his own right, he is her protector and guardian. He considers the demand of Axel unnatural, having learned about the permission received, is going to solve the matter by force, but allows himself to be persuaded by his spiritual father, the insidious Dominican monk Knudu, who promises not to allow Axel’s marriage with Valborg with the help of church chicanery.
In fact, Knud very convincingly proves to Bishop Erland that the papal permission given to Axel is not valid: the bride and groom are brother and sister not only by blood, but also by
baptism: Axel was christened only at the age of five, together with the then born and Valborg, and the Pope did not give permission to break this relationship. The bishop regretfully has to admit the justice of the arguments of Knud – they are documented by the records in the church book. With a heavy heart, he starts another ceremony, rather than a wedding, of the ceremony of separation of the bride and groom: Axel and Valborg take the opposite ends of the canvas, and it is cut between them by the blow of the sword, which is being inflicted by the monk Knud.
Axel and Valborg in despair: a secondary appeal to the Pope is impossible – Pope Adrian died, and the new head of the church for political reasons more favor with the king. Fate, thus, again turns against the lovers. Saying goodbye in the cathedral alone, they like humble Christians accept their fate, promising each other to reunite together in heaven.
But such an end of the matter is unfavorable to a fulfilled sympathy for the young bishop Erland. In his youth, he experienced a similar tragedy – he was separated from his beloved, who was turned against another’s will. The feeling of Erland is shared by Aksel’s friend Wilhelm, a grim-looking young warrior who arrived with Axel from abroad. By his own admission, Wilhelm, he – “a cross between a sheep and a wolf”: the son of the former beloved Erland Eleanor and a certain Rudolph. Wilhelm promised his late mother to give her heartfelt Friend the last “forgive” and therefore found himself in a company with Axel not by accident. Fulfilled good intentions, Bishop Erland and Wilhelm revenge an impersonal and indifferent fate for the sufferings of people. They resort to the so-called “pious deception.” The bishop gives Wilhelm a gold helmet, a cloak and an iron spear buried in the Trondheim cathedral of St. Olaf, whose ghost is believed to from time to time appear in the night in the temple. Having appeared in the cathedral at midnight in the vestments of a dead king, Wilhelm orders the guard, bowing before him in awe, to withdraw from the church, and doubted a miracle and suspected deceit of the monk Knud pierced with a sword for unbelief. The Valborg, to be crowned the next morning with King Hacon, is thus at liberty, and Axel can take her away on a boat ready for flight. and doubted the miracle and suspected the deception of the monk Knud pierced with a sword for unbelief. The Valborg, to be crowned the next morning with King Hacon, is thus at liberty, and Axel can take her away on a boat ready for flight. and doubted the miracle and suspected the deception of the monk Knud pierced with a sword for unbelief. The Valborg, to be crowned the next morning with King Hacon, is thus at liberty, and Axel can take her away on a boat ready for flight.
But Axel again challenges the fate he has prepared. He can not leave King Hakon. Just this morning, Nidaros, with his considerable retinue, enters the contender for the throne of Erling. The King’s distant kinsman, Axel is connected with him by bonds of loyalty and honor, a vassal must protect his master.
King Hakon is struck by the nobility of the act of Axel, In the rag, which he bandages his wound, Hakon recognizes the piece severed during the ritual of separation of the bride and groom. But does not Aksed want, giving Hakon good for his evil, thereby humiliating him? Axel dissuades the king – he wanted to take Valborg’s heart desire, Axel knows how great the power of love, and does not take revenge on the king, his intentions are pure – defending the king, he fulfills his duty and hopes that he will repay him good for good.
At that moment Erling’s soldiers burst into the cathedral. Under the pretext that the military helmet of a wounded man is too heavy for him, Axel puts him on his head. He and the king are defending themselves from the attackers, until they are helped by the help of the bikkebeiners. But it’s’ too late. Mortally wounded Axel dies with the name of the beloved on his lips. Called for the last goodbye, Valborg finds Axel dead, she asks his German friend to sing her a folk ballad, which she has never managed to finish herself with because of the tears that choked her. Wilhelm performs a ballad for his own accompaniment on the harp: Knight Ore comes to the island to woo his dear Elsa, but exactly a month later the disease takes him to the grave. Elsa grieves and cries for the groom, and the strength of her grief is so great that she lifts the dead man lying in the grave. He puts the coffin on his shoulders and knocks on the door of Elsa’s house, But she does not let him in, demanding that he first say the name of the Lord. Ore does not fulfill her demands, but promises Else that she will remember him both in joy and in sorrow. The rooster screams – Ore’s time to grave. Ore disappears, and Elsa grieves and mourns him, until exactly a month later the disease does not bring her to the grave, either.
After singing the song to the end, Wilhelm notices that Aalcel Vallborg, who is clinging to the body, is dead. Entering the temple squire Wilhelm declares: just died in the battle of King Hakon. Evil fate, therefore, does not pass in the tragedy of anyone.
King Hakon Broad-shouldered, a real historical person, really died in the battle with Erling in 1162.