Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (Rv)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Judith Jesch;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 32

Skj info: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Orknøsk jarl og skjald, d. 1158. (AI, 505-28, BI, 478-87).

Skj poems:
Lausavísur
Lausavísur [33-35]

Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson, jarl of Orkney, is known primarily from Orkn, in which he is one of the main characters, but he is also mentioned in other texts, including Hkr (ÍF 28, 324-5) and Icel. annals (Storm 1888, 20-1, 60, 113-14, 116, 120, 321-2, 324). He was born Kali Kolsson, the son of a Norw. nobleman from Agder, Kolr Kalason, and Gunnhildr, the sister of the martyred S. Magnús of Orkney (ÍF 34, 101-2). Orkn recounts various episodes from Rǫgnvaldr’s youth, in Norway and elsewhere, several of them associated with lvv. (see below). Though we are not told how and when he learned the skaldic art, his grandfather Kali Sæbjarnarson is said to have been good at poetical composition (ÍF 34, 95) and indeed Orkn preserves one st. by him (Kali Lv). Kali Kolsson was given the name Rǫgnvaldr by King Sigurðr jórsalafari Magnússon when he also made him joint jarl of Orkney with Páll Hákonarson. There are relatively few lvv. associated with Rǫgnvaldr’s assumption of power in Orkney and subsequent political affairs, though both are recounted at length in the saga. Rǫgnvaldr is remembered for his poetry, especially that composed during his crusade to the Holy Land in 1151-3, and for instigating the building of the cathedral in Kirkwall, dedicated to his uncle S. Magnús. Rǫgnvaldr was killed in Caithness in an ambush by political opponents in 1158 (according to the Icel. annals, but 1159 according to the internal chronology of Orkn, cf. ÍF 34, xc) and is remembered as a saint. His relics were translated in 1192 (according to the Icel. annals) and a skull and some bones found in St Magnus Cathedral may have been his (Jesch and Molleson, 2005). There are thirty-five lvv. attributed to Rǫgnvaldr, of which thirty-two are preserved in mss of Orkn and edited here. Three further lvv. (Rv Lv 33-5III) are edited in SkP III, along with Háttalykill (RvHbreiðm HlIII), a poetical guide to metres composed by Rǫgnvaldr jointly with Hallr Þórarinsson breiðmaga.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries > e. Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson

Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson of Orkney is not commemorated in praise poetry, and his biography is therefore not included here. For his life and poetic works, see his skald Biography.

Lausavísur — Rv LvII

Judith Jesch 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 575-609.

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Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson: Lausavísur (AI, 505-12, BI, 478-87); stanzas (if different): 33 | 34 | 35

SkP info: II, 579-80

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Rv Lv 4II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 579-80.

Sextán hefik sénar
senn ok topp í enni
jarðar elli firrðar
ormvangs saman ganga.
Þat bôrum vér vitni,
vestr at hér flestar
— sjá liggr út við élum
ey — kollóttar meyjar.

 

I have seen sixteen [women] all at once, denuded of {the old age {of the ground of {the serpent-field}}}, [GOLD > WOMAN > BEARD] and [they had] a fringe on their forehead, walking together. We bore witness to the fact that, here in the west, most maidens are bald; that island lies out in the direction of storms.

context: Rǫgnvaldr is on the island of Westray in Orkney during his campaign to claim his inheritance. While attending church on Sunday, he sees sixteen persons who are slyppir ok kollóttir ‘unarmed and bald’. His astonished men discuss who they could be.

notes: According to the chronology of Orkn this took place in April 1136 (Taylor 1938, 252), but Taylor (1938, 386) suggests that the episode is in fact another version of an incident in ch. 77 which also describes the sight of fifteen or sixteen men led by a bishop with a distinctive tonsure and which took place at Christmas in 1138. The st. is probably placed here because it seems to refer to Westray (Vestrey), but it has no obvious connection with either the preceding or the following events which are indeed located in Westray.

texts: Flat 684, Orkn 38

editions: Skj Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson: Lausavísur 4 (AI, 506; BI, 479); Skald I, 235, NN §2061; Flat 1860-8, II, 458, Orkn 1887, 123-4, Orkn 1913-16, 182, ÍF 34, 163-4 (ch. 72), Bibire 1988, 227.

sources

GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 137va, 58 - 137va, 60 (Orkn)  transcr.  image  image  image  
UppsUB R 702x (R702x) 41v, 7 - 41v, 10 (Orkn)  transcr.  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 281r, 1 - 281r, 8  image  
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