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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Markús Skeggjason (Mark)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Jayne Carroll;

III. 1. Poem on Knútr Sveinsson (Knútr) - 1

Skj info: Markús Skeggjason, Isl. lovsigemand og skjald, d. 1107. (AI, 444-53, BI, 414-21).

Skj poems:
1. Eiríksdrápa
2. Knútsdrápa(?)
3. Kristsdrápa(?)
4. Lausavísur

Markús Skeggjason (Mark) was the son of Skeggi Bjarnason and possibly a brother of the poet Þórarinn Skeggjason (ÞSkegg). He was lawspeaker in Iceland from 1084 until his death on 15 October 1107. In Íslendingabók (Íslb, ÍF 1, 22) he is named as an important informant for Ari Þorgilsson about the lives of the earlier lawspeakers in Iceland. He had gained this information from his brother, father and grandfather. Markús appears to have had close ties to the Church: during his time as lawspeaker, and with his guidance, Gizurr Ísleifsson, bishop of Skálholt (1081-1118), established the Icel. tithe laws (ÍF 1, 22). Markús was among the most respected poets in the canon of the C13th and he is cited often in SnE and TGT (see below).

In Skáldatal, Markús is associated with S. Knútr Sveinsson of Denmark (d. 1086), Eiríkr inn góði ‘the Good’ Sveinsson of Denmark (d. 1103), and Ingi Steinkelsson of Sweden (d. 1110) (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 267, 271, 283, see also 348-53). An extended hrynhent poem about Eiríkr (Mark Eirdr), composed after his death in 1103, and one helmingr about ‘Sveinn’s brother’, probably S. Knútr (Mark KnútdrIII), survive, alongside one helmingr and a couplet from a possible drápa about Christ (Mark KristdrIII) and two lvv. (Mark Lv 1-2III). Aside from Eirdr, all of Markús’s extant poetry is transmitted in SnE or TGT, and it has been edited in SkP III.

Poem on Knútr Sveinsson — Mark KnútrIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Markús Skeggjason, Poem on Knútr Sveinsson’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 292. <> (accessed 26 May 2022)


Skj: Markús Skeggjason: 2. Knútsdrápa(?) (AI, 452, BI, 420); stanzas (if different): [v]

in texts: Skm, SnE, SnEA

SkP info: III, 292

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


This half-stanza, Markús Skeggjason’s ‘Poem on Knútr Sveinsson’ (Mark Knútr), is preserved in mss A (main ms.) and B of Skm (SnE). Because B is now almost illegible, 744ˣ has been used in its place. The helmingr is attributed to Markús, i.e. the Icelandic lawman Markús Skeggjason, in all mss. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267, 283), Markús Skeggjason (see his Biography in SkP II) composed poetry in honour of two sons of the Danish king Sveinn Úlfsson, namely Eiríkr inn góði ‘the Good’ (d. 1103) and Knútr Sveinsson (S. Knútr, r. 1080-6). Hence it cannot be established with certainty whether the present helmingr belonged to a poem about Knútr, but Markús’s extant hrynhent encomium about Eiríkr, Eiríksdrápa (Mark EirdrII), was composed after Eiríkr’s death in 1103, which makes it likely that the half-stanza could have been part of an earlier dróttkvætt poem honouring Knútr (so LH 1894-1901, II, 52; Fidjestøl 1982, 153). It is not certain that the poem was a drápa, however, and the title KnútsdrápaDrápa about Knútr’ is Finnur Jónsson’s tentative construct (Skj; cf. Jón Sigurðsson’s Kvæði um Knút Danakonúng ‘Poem about Knútr, king of the Danes’, SnE 1848-87, III, 349). Fidjestøl (1982, 153) argues that Mark Frag 1 and 2 may also have belonged to the poem about Knútr, while Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 350) includes our Frag 2 in that poem and suggests that the helmingr edited below could have been the poem’s refrain (stef).

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