Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Sturla Þórðarson, 1. Hrynhenda, 13 [Vol. 2, 690-1]

[All]: As mentioned in the Introduction to the poem above, Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 84), Finnur Jónsson (Skj), Kock (Skald) and Fidjestøl (1982, 175) all move this st. back in the poem as st. 18 in Hryn, disregarding the ordering of the sts in the mss. Such a reordering of the sts is, however, not necessary. In 1256, King Alfonso X of Spain sent emissaries to Norway to establish diplomatic relations with the Norw. king. To show his good will, he asked for Princess Kristín’s hand in marriage on behalf of one of his brothers. A year later King Hákon accepted the proposal on behalf of his daughter, provided she would be allowed to choose a husband for herself from among the Spanish princes. By placing this st. here, and breaking off the description of the warfare in Denmark, Sturla poses the question about what the Spanish king had to gain by marrying his brother to a Norw. princess. The answer to that question becomes apparent in the next five sts where Sturla extolls the splendid fleet of King Hákon. Alfonso X wanted to have easy access to the fleet, which was one of the largest in Europe at that time. He intended to attack Morocco on a crusade against the heathens there, and he also wanted Hákon to support him in the election as emperor. As far as content is concerned, this st. would seem to belong together with st. 19. The two sts frame the description of Hákon’s great fleet, which was the main reason for the expansion and glory of the Norw. state under Hákon’s rule. The magnificent fleet, the expansion of the state and friendly relations with other monarchs in Europe are the main themes of the poem, showing Sturla’s vast knowledge of Norw. affairs and the politics of his time.


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