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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 4. Þorfinnsdrápa, 14 [Vol. 2, 244-6]

[3] brezkar ‘British’: (a) Bretar and Bretland occur with reference to Celtic peoples, especially those of Wales and Strathclyde. It is difficult to arbitrate between these two main possibilities in this st., and the flanking references to Skotaveldi ‘the realm of the Scots’ and írsk drótt ‘Irish troop’ could favour either ‘Welsh’ as geographically likely (cf. the clear use of Bretland to mean Wales, e.g., in Mork 1928-32, 318 and 321), or to Strathclyde, as favoured by Poole (1987, 292-8). (b) An alternative possibility is that brezkr is used loosely to mean ‘English’ here, since sts 16-18 depict Þorfinnr attacking the English. This might be supported by Anon Liðs 8/7I where the sword rings out á brezkum brynjum ‘on British/English byrnies’ by the Thames, but Poole (loc. cit.) makes a good case for a Welsh presence there.


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