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Hávarðr halti Ísfirðingr (Hávh)
This edition is currently in preparation. The biography below may represent a superseded edition, notes and/or an interim or draft version. Do not cite this material without consulting the volume and skald editors.
Hávarðr halti Ísfirðingr ‘Hávarðr halti ‘the Lame’ from Ísafjörður’ in north-western Iceland is the main character in the saga that bears his name, Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings (Háv), and is credited with fourteen of the fifteen stanzas in the saga. All fourteen are in dróttkvætt metre. One of them, Háv 4, is probably confused with the poetry of another lame man, Hrómundr halti, or his son Þorbjǫrn þyna (this stanza is edited in SkP as Þþyn Lv 1IV). In all likelihood Hávarðr had an historical existence though many of the incidents in the extant, probably late, saga are likely to be fictitious. Snorri Sturluson evidently considered Hávarðr to have lived and to have composed poetry, as a helmingr (Hávh Lv 1III) is attributed to him in both Skm and LaufE.
Neither the saga nor Landnámabók (Ldn) provides the names of Hávarðr’s father and mother or his wider family. Ldn (ÍF 1, 159, 186, 187, 189, 190, 191) refers to him as Hávarðr halti and mentions him in connection with the death of his son Óláfr (see Óláfr’s biography in this volume) at the hands of Þorbjǫrn Þjóðreksson. His wife Bjargey Valbrandsdóttir is also mentioned in the same context, but in Ldn (ÍF 1, 187, 190, 191) she is said to be the daughter of Valbrandr, son of Eyvindr kné ‘Knee’, whereas in Háv Valbrandr is her brother.
Ldn (ÍF 1, 159, 191) attests to knowledge of a story about Hávarðr’s feud with Þorbjǫrn Þjóðreksson arising from the latter’s unjust killing of Hávarðr’s and Bjargey’s son Óláfr, and this event is also the mainspring of the present saga’s action, which documents a transformation of the elderly Hávarðr, overcome with grief at his son’s death and feeling unable to take vengeance for his killing, into an efficient and determined killer who eventually manages to emerge unscathed from his dealings with powerful local chieftains. All the stanzas attributed to him are on the subject of his loss or his revenge.