Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 38. Óttarr svarti, 1. Hǫfuðlausn, 13 [Vol. 1, 757]

[All]: As is known from the ASC and other sources, King Æthelred II went into exile in Normandy in 1013, and the English throne was assumed by the Danish conqueror Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson. However, following Sveinn’s death in early 1014, Æthelred was invited back and he himself resumed the throne (not his sons, as Snorri and Fsk claim, in the mistaken belief that Æthelred was already dead). The current stanza, then, concerns Óláfr’s role in Æthelred’s return to England in spring 1014. Relative ignorance of the details of this phase of Anglo-Saxon history led Snorri in ÓH and Hkr and the author of Fsk to place this stanza out of position, with those detailing Óláfr’s earlier English adventures, rather than with his role in the re-establishment of the English dynasty; the placing in Skj follows this tradition. The author of Knýtl, however, who quotes no other verses from Óttarr’s Hfl (but many from his Knútdr), correctly places the stanza at the time of Æthelred’s return to England after Sveinn’s death. Similarly, it is clear that the author of ÓHLeg knew this stanza and interpreted it correctly, even though he does not quote it (see ÓHLeg 1982, 44). For further discussion see A. Campbell (1971, 11-12); Campbell (1998, 77-82) and Poole (1980, 273-5).


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