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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 27 June 2022)

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

in texts: Flat, LaufE, LaufE, Orkn

SkP info: II, 575-609

notes: Last three verses are in SnE/LaufE

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Thirty-two of Rǫgnvaldr’s lvv. (Rv Lv 1-32) are transmitted in Orkn (for Lv 33-5III, see SkP III). They fall into several thematic groups, most of which also include sts by Rǫgnvaldr’s fellow-poets: youthful lvv. (Lv 1-3); lvv. about miscellaneous events, mostly political, in Orkney (Lv 4-5, 32; cf. Anon Orkn, Bót Lv); lvv. responding to, or associated with, lvv. by other poets (Lv 6, 13; cf. Árm Lv 1, Hbreiðm Lv, Oddi Lv 1); lvv. associated with Shetland (Lv 7-12, 14?); the Ermingerðr of Narbonne lvv. (Lv 15-17, 19-22, 25; cf. Árm Lv 3, Oddi Lv 2), which overlap with further lvv. concerning the journey to and from the Holy Land (Lv 18, 23-4, 26, 30-31; cf. Árm Lv 2, 4, Oddi Lv 3, Sigm Lv 1, Þsvart Lv); and lvv. in the Holy Land (Lv 27-9; cf. Sigm Lv 2).

Lv 4-11, 13, 17-19, 21, 23-30 are transmitted in Flat (Flat) and also in R702ˣ, a collection of sts from a lost ms. of Orkn, and its copy 762ˣ. Flat is the main ms. for these sts, as it is for Lv 20, 22, which are not preserved in R702ˣ. Lv 1-3, 15-16, 31-2 are in the same mss and also in the fragmentary saga-ms. 325I, which is thus the main ms. for these. Despite its late date and compilatory character, R702ˣ is quite high up the stemma and its readings are occasionally preferred to both main mss where justified. Moreover, it is the only source for Lv 12, 14. Lv 7 is the only one of Rǫgnvaldr’s lvv. which is transmitted both in Orkn and in the treatises on poetics, in this case LaufE, which also transmits Rv Lv 34-5III.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated