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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Bjǫrn krepphendi, Magnússdrápa, 11 [Vol. 2, 404-5]

[All]: This battle is also commemorated in Þham Magndr 3 and in Gísl Magnkv 10-13. Hugh’s death is documented widely in ON and foreign sources (see the literature cited in Anderson 1922, II, 111 n. 2 and Power 1986, 109-10). There is dispute in Theodoricus and the ON prose sources as to the identity of the person who shot Hugh (and also about which of the two Hughs was killed). Theodoricus (MHN 62) says that Magnús killed Hugh the Stout (cognomento grossum), which corresponds to the account of Ágr (ÍF 29, 46), with the exception that, in the latter narrative, Hugh was shot by a man standing next to Magnús. After that man had made the fatal shot, he threw his bow to Magnús and dedicated the shot to him. According to Mork (1928-32, 319), the Hugh who was killed was Hugh the Proud, who was shot in the eye. Magnús and another shooter, a man from Hålogaland who stood next to him, shot simultaneously. Later there was dispute about whose arrow had killed Hugh, and Þham Magndr 3 is cited in support of Magnús being the killer (so also Fsk, ÍF 29, 308). Hkr (ÍF 28, 222) gives a similar account, except that Snorri states the the shot was konunginum kennt ‘attributed to the king’ (so also Orkn, ÍF 34, 96). In his Itinerarium Kambriae (in Geraldi Cambrensis Opera, VI, 129), Gerald of Wales gives a detailed account of this incident. He mistakenly identifies Hugh of Chester (comes Hugo Cestrensis) as the victim, but he states that Magnús was the one who shot him in the right eye and killed him (Hugh was entirely clad in iron except for his eyes). According to Gerald, Magnús, standing in the prow of his ship, looked insolently down at the dying man, shouting in Dan. leit loupe ‘let him leap’. Hugh of Avranches, Earl of Chester, died in 1101.


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