Anglo-Saxon England (journal)
Anglo-Saxon England is an annual peer-reviewed academic journal covering the study of various aspects of history and culture in Anglo-Saxon England. It has been published since 1972 by Cambridge University Press and is available in print and digital form; every volume is concluded with a bibliography giving an overview of the past year's work in Anglo-Saxon studies. Its current editors are Simon Keynes. Previous editors include Michael Lapidge. Old English Newsletter Official website
Old Norse poetry
Old Norse poetry encompasses a range of verse forms written in Old Norse, during the period from the 8th century to as late as the far end of the 13th century. Most of the Old Norse poetry that survives was preserved in Iceland, but there are 122 preserved poems in Swedish rune inscriptions, 54 in Norwegian and 12 in Danish. Poetry played an important role in the religious world of the Vikings. In Norse mythology, Skáldskaparmál tells the story of how Odin brought poetry to Asgard, an indicator of the significance of poetry within the contemporary Scandinavian culture. Old Norse poetry is characterised by alliteration, a poetic vocabulary expanded by heiti, use of kennings. An important source of information about poetic forms in Old Norse is the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson. Old Norse poetry is conventionally, somewhat arbitrarily, split into two types—Eddaic poetry and skaldic poetry. Eddaic poetry includes the poems of a few other similar ones. Skaldic poetry is defined as everything else not mentioned.
Old Norse poetry has many metrical forms. They range from the simple fornyrðislag to the complex dróttkvætt, the "courtly metre". In Eddic poetry, the metric structures are simple, are invariably ljóðaháttr or fornyrðislag. Ljóðaháttr, because of its structure, which comprises broken stanzas, lends itself to dialogue and discourse. Fornyrðislag, "the metre of ancient words", is the more used of the two, is used where the poem is narrative, it is composed with four or more syllables per line. Other metrical forms include Málaháttr is similar to fornyrðislag, but with a fixed metrical length of five syllables. Hrynhenda, a variant of dróttkvætt, which uses all the rules of dróttkvætt, with the exception that the line comprises four metrical feet rather than three. Kviðuháttr, another variant of fornyrðislag with alternating lines of 3 and 4 syllables Galdralag, the "magic spell metre", which contains a fourth line which echoes and varies the third line The Eddaic poems have the following characteristics.
The author is always anonymous. The meter is fornyrðislag, málaháttr or ljóðaháttr; the word order is relatively straightforward. Kennings are used sparingly and opaque ones are rare; the skaldic poems have the following characteristics. The author is known; the meter is ornate dróttkvætt or a variation thereof. The syntax is ornate, with sentences interwoven. Kennings are used frequently. Alliterative verse Kennings List of kennings Skald Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning ved Finnur Jónsson, 1912–1915 Carmina Scaldica udvalg af norske og islandske skjaldekvad ved Finnur Jónsson, 1929
The term skald, or skáld, is used for poets who composed at the courts of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders during the Viking Age and Middle Ages. Skaldic poetry forms one of two main groupings of Old Norse poetry, the other being the anonymous Eddic poetry; the most prevalent metre of skaldic poetry is dróttkvætt. The subject is historical and encomiastic, detailing the deeds of the skald's patron. There is no evidence that the skalds employed musical instruments, but some speculate that they may have accompanied their verses with the harp or lyre; the technical demands of the skaldic form were equal to the complicated verse forms mastered by the Welsh bards and Gaelic ollams. Like those poets, much skaldic verse consisted of panegyrics to kings and aristocrats or memorials and testimonials to their battles; the word skald is ultimately related to Proto-Germanic *skalliz "sound, shout". Old High German has skalsang "song of praise, psalm", skellan means "ring, resound"; the Old High German variant stem skeltan etymologically identical to the skald- stem means "to scold, accuse, insult".
The person doing the insulting is skeltāri. This bears striking similarities to the Dutch verb schelden and the southern German schelten, which mean "shouting abuse" or "calling names"; the West Germanic counterpart of the skald is the scop. Like the scop, related to Modern English scoff, the name skald is continued in English scold, reflecting the central position of mocking taunts in Germanic poetry. Skaldic poetry can be traced to the earlier-9th century with Bragi Boddason and his Ragnarsdrápa, considered the oldest surviving Norse poem. Bragi is considered original skald. However, many skalds came after him, like Egill Skallagrímsson and Þorbjörn Hornklofi, who gained much fame in the 10th century for the poems composed for the kings they served of their own exploits. At the time, the Icelanders and Nordic people were still pagan, their work reflected that by many references to gods like Thor and Odin and to seers and runes; the poetry from also can be noted for its portrayal of a "heroic age" for the Vikings and "praise poetry, designed to commemorate kings and other prominent people in the form of quite long poems."As time went on, skalds became the main source of Icelandic and Norse history and culture, as it was the skalds who learned and shared the oral history.
That led to a shift in the role of the skald. Every king and chieftain needed a skald to record their feats and ensure their legacy lived on, as well as becoming the main historians of their society; the written artefacts of that time come from skalds, as they were the first from the time and place to record on paper. Some skalds became clerical workers, recording laws and happenings of the government, some being elected to the Thing and Althing, while others worked with churches to record the lives and miracles of Saints, along with passing on the ideals of Christianity; the last point is important, as skalds were the main agents of culture when they began glorifying and passing on Christianity over the old pagan beliefs, the Viking culture shifted towards Christianity, as well. As the years passed, the skald profession was threatened with extinction until Snorri Sturluson compiled the Prose Edda, as a manual to preserve an appreciative understanding of their art. Snorri, born in Iceland during the 12th century, played a important part in the history of Skaldic poetry.
In addition to being a great poet, he was leader of the Althing for part of his life, leading the government of Iceland. His Prose Edda preserved and passed on the traditions and methods of the Skalds, adding a much needed stimulus to the profession, providing much of the information now known about skalds and how they worked. For example, the Prose Edda broke down and explained kennings used in skaldic poetry, allowing many of them to be understood today. Beyond writing the Prose Edda, Snorri wrote other important works, from retelling old Norse legends to tales of the exploits of kings, which gave him much fame and made his reputation live on beyond his death. Most Nordic verse of the Viking Age came in one of two forms: skaldic. Eddic verse was simple, in terms of content and metre, dealing with mythological or heroic content. Skaldic verse, was complex, composed as a tribute or homage to a particular jarl or king. There is debate over the performance of skaldic poetry, but there is a general scholarly consensus that it was spoken rather than sung.
Unlike many other literary forms of the time, much skaldic poetry is attributable to an author, those attributions may be relied on with a reasonable degree of confidence. Many skalds so were biographically noted; the metre is ornate dróttkvætt or a variation thereof. The syntax is complex, with sentences interwoven, with kennings and heiti being used and gratuitously. Skaldic poetry was written in dialects of Old Norse. Technically, the verse was a form of alliterative verse and always used the dróttkvætt stanza. Dróttkvætt is an eight-line form, each pair of lines is an original single long line, conventionally written as two lines; these are forms of skaldic poetry: a long series of stanzas, with a refrain at intervals. Flokkr, vísur or dræplingr, a shorter series of such stanzas without refrain. Lausavísa, a single sta
Cnut the Great
Cnut the Great known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard, was King of Denmark and Norway. Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, the Norman conquest of England in 1066, this legacy was lost, he is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour. As a Danish prince, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe, his accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together. Cnut sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, as well as through sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028; the Swedish city Sigtuna was held by Cnut.
Dominion of England lent the Danes an important link to the maritime zone between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, where Cnut, like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Norse–Gaels. Cnut's possession of England's dioceses and the continental Diocese of Denmark—with a claim laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire's Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen—was a source of great prestige and leverage within the Catholic Church and among the magnates of Christendom. After his 1026 victory against Norway and Sweden, on his way back from Rome where he attended the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor, Cnut, in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, deemed himself "King of all England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes"; the Anglo-Saxon kings used the title "king of the English". Cnut was ealles Engla landes cyning—"king of all England". Medieval historian Norman Cantor called him "the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history".
Cnut was a son of the Danish prince Sweyn Forkbeard, the son and heir to King Harald Bluetooth and thus came from a line of Scandinavian rulers central to the unification of Denmark. Neither the place nor the date of his birth are known. Harthacnut I of Denmark was the semi-legendary founder of the Danish royal house at the beginning of the 10th century, his son, Gorm the Old, became the first in the official line. Harald Bluetooth, Gorm's son and Cnut's grandfather, was the Danish king at the time of the Christianization of Denmark; the Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg and the Encomium Emmae report Cnut's mother as having been a daughter of Mieszko I of Poland. Norse sources of the High Middle Ages, most prominently Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson give a Polish princess as Cnut's mother, whom they call Gunhild and a daughter of Burislav, the king of Vindland. Since in the Norse sagas the king of Vindland is always Burislav, this is reconcilable with the assumption that her father was Mieszko.
Adam of Bremen in Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum is unique in equating Cnut's mother with the former queen of Sweden, wife of Eric the Victorious and by this marriage mother of Olof Skötkonung. To complicate the matter and other sagas have Sweyn marrying Eric's widow, but she is distinctly another person in these texts, named Sigrid the Haughty, whom Sweyn only marries after Gunhild, the Slavic princess who bore Cnut, has died. Different theories regarding the number and ancestry of Sweyn's wives have been advanced, but since Adam is the only source to equate the identity of Cnut's and Olof Skötkonung's mother, this is seen as an error on Adam's part, it is assumed that Sweyn had two wives, the first being Cnut's mother, the second being the former Queen of Sweden. Cnut's brother Harald was the crown prince; some hint of Cnut's childhood can be found in the Flateyjarbók, a 13th-century source that says he was taught his soldiery by the chieftain Thorkell the Tall, brother to Sigurd, Jarl of mythical Jomsborg, the legendary Joms, at their Viking stronghold on the island of Wollin, off the coast of Pomerania.
His date of birth, like his mother's name, is unknown. Contemporary works such as the Chronicon and the Encomium Emmae, do not mention this. So, in a Knútsdrápa by the skald Óttarr svarti, there is a statement that Cnut was "of no great age" when he first went to war, it mentions a battle identifiable with Sweyn Forkbeard's invasion of England and attack on the city of Norwich, in 1003/04, after the St. Brice's Day massacre of Danes by the English, in 1002. If Cnut indeed accompanied this expedition, his birthdate may be near 990, or 980. If not, if the skald's poetic verse references another assault, such as Forkbeard's conquest of England in 1013/14, it may suggest a birth date nearer 1000. There is a passage of the Encomiast with a reference to the force Cnut led in his English conquest of 1015/16. Here it says all the Vikings were of "mature age" under Cnut "the king". A description of Cnut
Sigvatr Þórðarson or Sigvat the Skald was an Icelandic skald. He was a court poet to King Olaf II of Norway, as well as Canute the Great, Magnus the Good and Anund Jacob, by whose reigns his floruit can be dated to the earlier eleventh century. Sigvatr was the best known of the court skalds of King Olaf and served as his marshal. 160 verses of Sigvatr's poetry have been preserved, more than any for other poet from this period. The style of Sigvat's poems is simpler and clearer than that which characterises older compositions. Although his verse is still dense, he uses fewer complex poetic circumlocutions than many of his predecessors, as a Christian poet, he by and large avoids allusions to pagan mythology. Most of his surviving poems were texts. Many of the poems from St. Olaf's saga in Heimskringla are by Sigvatr. Víkingarvísur, composed c. 1014-15, is the oldest of the surviving long poems attributed to him. The poem tallies King Olaf’s battles on his Viking expeditions until 1015, when he returned to Norway to carve out a kingdom for himself.
In Nesjavísur, the next oldest poem by Sigvatr, the skald describes the naval battle between Olaf and Sveinn Hákonarson at the Battle of Nesjar outside Brunlanes in 1016, the key moment in Olaf's ascent to power in Norway. Víkingarvísur- on the early deeds of King Olaf Nesjavísur- on the Battle of Nesjar Austrfararvísur- on a diplomatic journey to Sweden Drápa um Óláf Konung - on King Olaf Vestrfararvísur - on a journey to Great Britain Kvæði um Erling Skjalgsson - on Erlingr Skjalgsson Flokkr um Erling Skjalgsson - on Erlingr Skjalgsson Tryggvaflokkr - on Tryggve the Pretender Kvæði um Ástríði Dróttningu - about Queen Astrid Knútsdrápa- in memory of King Canute the Great Bersöglisvísur- reprimand to King Magnus Erfidrápa Óláfs helga- in memory of King Olaf Lausavísur Brot - fragments Whaley, Diana Poetry from the Kings' Sagas 1, From Mythical Times to c. 1035 ISBN 978-2-503-51896-1 O'Donoghue, Heather Skaldic Verse and the Poetics of Saga Narrative ISBN 978-0199267323 Index of Sigvatr Þórðarson's poetry, Jörmungrund.
Index of Sigvatr Þórðarson's poetry, Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages