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Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (Rv)

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

Lausavísur (Lv) - 32

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.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32 

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

SkP info: II, 576-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Rv Lv 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 576-7.

Tafl emk ǫrr at efla;
íþróttir kannk níu;
týnik trauðla rúnum;
tíðs mér bók ok smíðir.
Skríða kannk á skíðum;
skýtk ok rœk, svát nýtir;
hvártveggja kannk hyggja:
harpslôtt ok bragþôttu.

Emk ǫrr at efla tafl; kannk níu íþróttir; týnik rúnum trauðla; tíðs mér bók ok smíðir. Kannk skríða á skíðum; skýtk ok rœk, svát nýtir; kannk hyggja hvártveggja: harpslôtt ok bragþôttu.

I am quick at playing board games; I have nine skills; I forget runes slowly; the book is a preoccupation with me and also craftsmanship. I am able to glide on skis; I shoot and I row so that it makes a difference; I am able to understand both: harp-playing and poems.

Mss: 325I(5v), Flat(135rb), R702ˣ(40v) (Orkn)

Readings: [3] trauðla: ‘tradla’ R702ˣ    [4] mér: so Flat, om. 325I, R702ˣ    [5] Skríða: ‘skrid’ R702ˣ    [6] rœk: rœ Flat, R702ˣ    [7] kannk (‘kann ec’): kann ek at Flat;    hyggja: ‘hyggu’ R702ˣ

Editions: Skj: Rǫgnvaldr jarl kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 1: AI, 505, BI, 478, Skald I, 235, NN §2203; Flat 1860-8, II, 440, Orkn 1887, 95, Orkn 1913-16, 139, ÍF 34, 130 (ch. 58), Bibire 1988, 226.

Context: Although Kali (later Rǫgnvaldr) Kolsson is mentioned briefly in ch. 42 of Orkn (ÍF 34, 102), he is properly described in ch. 58 and said to have been atgørvimaðr meiri en velflestir menn aðrir ‘a person proficient at more things than almost all others’ (ÍF 34, 130).

Notes: [1] tafl ‘board games’: Tafl may refer to the traditional game of hnefatafl, though it is equally possibly an early reference to chess (KLNM 2, 224). The Lewis chess pieces, probably made in Norway and destined for somewhere in Britain or Ireland when they were lost, are roughly contemporary with Rǫgnvaldr and their number and quality show both the popularity and the high status of this game at that time and in the same region (Robinson 2004). See also Note to st. 23/8. — [2] íþróttir ‘skills’: Kock (NN §2203) collects a range of references to different kinds of íþróttir from a variety of OE and ON sources, though his skaldic examples are mostly from this st. and Hharð Gamv 4 (see Note to ll. 5-8, below). — [3] rúnum ‘runes’: Although it is not possible to point to an inscription carved by Rǫgnvaldr himself, the runic graffiti in the prehistoric chambered tomb of Maeshowe, Orkney, are from his time and are more than plausibly linked to him and his fellow crusaders (Barnes 1994). — [4] tíðs mér bók ‘the book is a preoccupation with me’: Since books were being written in the vernacular by Rǫgnvaldr’s time, it is impossible to determine whether he is boasting of his skill at reading or writing in general, or of a special skill in Lat. learning, as suggested in Hl 1941, 135. — [5-8]: This helmingr is identical to the second helmingr of Hharð Gamv 4. In that st., the poet boasts of eight accomplishments, five of which are the same as Rǫgnvaldr’s (skiing, shooting, rowing and the appreciation of both harp-playing and poetry). Haraldr makes no mention of board games, runes or craftsmanship, but mentions poetry twice, once as the act of composing it and once as the ability to comprehend (and appreciate) it. — [5]: The ability to ski identifies Rǫgnvaldr as Norw. (Jesch 2005, 130-1). — [8] harpslôtt ‘harp-playing’: De Geer (1985, 220-7) discusses the instruments and playing techniques to which this might refer.

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