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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Einarr Skúlason (biog. vol. 2), Geisli, 52 [Vol. 7, 49-50]

[All]: Sts 52-6 cover another miracle attributed to Óláfr affecting the Varangians in the service of the Byzantine emperor. It is mentioned in numerous ON versions of the Óláfr legend (see Chase 2005, 42 and nn. 127-30 for references). The Varangians were losing a fight against a group of Petchenegs (a Turkic people who occupied a large area of the lower Danube, Ukraine, Moldavia and Wallachia) at a place called Pézínavellir in ON sources. (This is the only use of the name in skaldic verse; it was probably coined by the Varangians who fought in the battle. Vellir [m. pl.] means ‘plains’, and Pézína is an adaptation of Πετζινάκοι, the Greek name for the Petchenegs.) The army prayed to Óláfr for victory and vowed to build a church in his honour if they were victorious, which they were. The battle may be the same as the one described by the Byzantine chronicler John Kinnamos (c. 1180) as taking place between the Byzantine emperor John II Komnenos and the Petchenegs in the winter of 1121-2 near Beroe (Stara Zagora) in Bulgaria.


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