Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa, 54 [Vol. 7, 925]

[All]: The story of S. Ursula and her 11,000 virgin martyr companions has some similarities to that of Sunniva. It was known in Iceland from Breta sögur (first half of C13th), a translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britaniae (c. 1136). There is also a brief epitome of the legend in a C14th ms. (Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 335). On the cult in Iceland, see Cormack 1994, 29, 34-5, 158. In its elaborated form, the legend of Ursula grew out of a veneration of a small number of unnamed virgins at Cologne in C4th, but, by the C12th, Ursula had become the daughter of a king of Britain. She, together with 11,000 virgins, went on a pilgrimage to Rome and, on their return journey they were murdered by the Huns at Cologne on account of their Christian faith.


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