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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 37. Sigvatr Þórðarson, 10. Knútsdrápa, 1 [Vol. 1, 651]

[1] Ellu ‘Ælla’: Ælla briefly reigned as king of Northumbria in 867 before being killed the same year during the fall of York to the viking army (see ASC s. a.). In skaldic poetry, and later saga prose, this obscure figure comes to function as a defining ancestor for the Anglo-Saxon royal house, and the English more generally: see the kennings kind Ellu ‘the offspring of Ælla [= Englishmen]’ in Sigv Víkv 7/7, niðr Ellu ‘the descendant of Ælla [= Æthelstan]’ in Egill Aðdr 1/2V (Eg 21) and ættleifð Ellu ‘the inheritance of Ælla [= England]’ in Hallv Knútdr 3/5-6III. Sigvatr is thus framing Knútr’s conquest of England by reference to Ívarr’s earlier defeat of Ælla; see further Townend (1997) and Kries (2003).


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