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Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson (Hharð)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Gamanvísur (Gamv) - 6

See ‘Royal Biographies’ in Introduction to this volume.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 1. Royal Biographies > 1. Kings of Norway > g. Haraldr III harðráði Sigurðarson (Hharð) (r. 1046-66)

Sagas: ÓH, MH, HSig (Ágr, Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, Mork, Theodoricus).

Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson was the son of Sigurðr sýr ‘Sow’ and Ásta Guðbrandsdóttir (see Genealogy II.2.f in ÍF 28). He fought alongside his half-brother, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), at the battle of Stiklestad (29 July 1030) and escaped wounded from the battlefield to seek refuge in Russia. After spending some years in the service of Jaroslav of Novgorod, he proceeded from Russia to Byzantium, where he served as a mercenary in the Varangian army before his return to Norway via Russia and Sweden in 1045/46. From 1046 he ruled jointly with his nephew, Magnús inn góði, and after Magnús’s death (25 October 1047) Haraldr was the sole ruler of Norway until he fell at the battle of Stamford Bridge (on 25 September 1066). See Anon Nkt 38-9, Theodoricus (MHN 50-1, 54-7; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 38-9, 43-46), Ágr (ÍF 29, 36-40; Ágr 1995, 52-9), Mork (Mork 1928-32, 55-281; Andersson and Gade 2000, 129-274), Fsk (ÍF 29, 227-90; Finlay 2004, 181-232), ÓHHkr (ÍF 27, 107-8, 347-8, 364; Hollander 1991, 314-15, 488-9, 500-1), HSigHkr (ÍF 28, 68-202; Hollander 1991, 577-663), Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 287-432), H-Hr (Fms 6, 127-432). See also Hem (Hb 1892-6, 331-49; Fellows-Jensen 1962, 1-64), , Knýtl (ÍF 35, 132-3, 151; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1986, 46-7, 60), Orkn (ÍF 34, 53-4, 75-8, 80, 86-7, 339; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1987, 56-7, 71-4, 77-8).

Events documented in poetry: The battle of Stiklestad (1030) and Haraldr’s escape to Sweden (Hharð Gamv 1; Hharð Lv 1, 2a-2b; ÞjóðA Sex 1); his journey to Russia and his Russian campaigns 1031-3 (ÞjóðA Run 1, 3; Bǫlv Hardr 1); his journey to Constantinople and his campaigns as a mercenary in the Varangian army 1034-42 (Hharð Gamv 2, 4; Hharð Lv 10-11; Þjóð Sex 2-8; ÞjóðA Lv 4; Ill Har 2-4; Bǫlv Hardr 2-6; ÞSkegg Hardr; Valg Hardr 1-4; Þfisk Lv 2-3; Stúfr Stúfdr 2-3); his return to Russia and marriage to Ellisif (Stúfr Stúfdr 4); his journey to Sweden and his harrying in Denmark with Sveinn Úlfsson (ÞjóðA Sex 9; Valg Hardr 5-9); his meeting and reconciliation with Magnús inn góði (ÞjóðA Sex 10; ÞjóðA Frag 1; Bǫlv Hardr 7); his dealings with Magnús (Mgóð Lv 1; Hharð Lv 3); his return to Norway after Magnús’s death in Denmark in 1047 (Valg Hardr 10-11); his first naval campaign against Sveinn Úlfsson and the Danes in 1048 (Hharð Lv 4; ÞjóðA Lv 2; Bǫlv Hardr 8; Grani Har 1-2; Anon (HSig) 1); subsequent campaigns in Denmark against Sveinn (Hharð Lv 5, 10; ÞjóðA Lv 3-4; Arn Hardr 1; Þfagr Sveinn 2-9; Stúfr Stúfdr 5-6; Anon (HSig) 2, 5); the slaying of Einarr þambarskelfir and other enemies (Hharð Lv 6-8; Arn Hardr 1); the desertion of Norwegian magnates to Sveinn in Denmark (ÞjóðA Sex 12); the battle of the Nissan against Sveinn in 1062 (ÞjóðA Sex 13-18; ÞjóðA Har 1-7; Arn Hardr 2-4; Stúfr Stúfdr 7; Steinn Nizv; Steinn Úlffl); the peace treaty between Haraldr and Sveinn in 1064 (ÞjóðA Sex 23; Halli XI Fl); Haraldr’s campaign against Hákon Ívarsson (ÞjóðA Lv 9); his dealing with Norwegian insurrection (ÞjóðA Sex 19-22; Arn Hardr 5-6); the events leading up to the English campaign in 1066 (Hjǫrtr Lv 1-3; Úlfr Lv; Anon (HSig 6-9); the battles of Fulford and Stamford Bridge (Hharð Lv 13-14; ÞjóðA Lv 10-11; Arn Hardr 7-16; Stúfr Stúfdr 8; Steinn Óldr 1-3; Anon Harst). For þættir and smaller anecdotes involving Haraldr and other poets, see Haraldr Lv 9, 12; ÞjóðA Lv 4-8; SnH Lv; Þfisk Lv; Anon (HSig) 3-4.

Gamanvísur — Hharð GamvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, Gamanvísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 35-41. <> (accessed 17 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6 

in texts: Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, HSig, LaufE, Mork, Skm, SnE

SkP info: II, 35-41

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


According to Mork (1928-32, 85; see also Hkr (ÍF 28, 89) and Fsk (ÍF 29, 237)), Haraldr composed the Gamanvísur ‘Jesting Vísur’ (Hharð Gamv) on his return to Russia from Byzantium (c. 1043-4): Oc iþesom ferþom orti Haralldr gamans visor. oc ero xvi. oc eitt niþrlag at flestom. þo ero her far ritnar ‘And on these journeys, Haraldr composed the Gamanvísur, and there are sixteen and most end in the same way, although only a few are recorded here’. Mork (Mork) and H, Hr (H-Hr) contain six sts, whereas mss , 39, F, E, J2ˣ of Hkr and FskBˣ and FskAˣ (Fsk) only give one (st. 2). Stanza 2/1-4 is also preserved in mss R, , W, U and A of SnE (Skm) as well as in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ, 743ˣ). In addition, st. 6/1-3 is recorded on a runic stick found in Bergen, Norway (Run B88VI; c. 1335).

With the exception of st. 4, the poem deals with events in Haraldr’s life, and the order of sts given below attempts to restore the chronology of those events while at the same time adhering as closely as possible to the sequence of sts in Mork (2, 1, 3, 4, 6, 5) and H-Hr (2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6). In Skj and Skald the sts are included among Haraldr’s lvv. Stanza 3 is left out in both eds, because ll. 1-4 duplicate a helmingr in SnE (mss R, , A, C) by Brennu-Njáll Þorgeirsson, the protagonist of Brennu-Njáls saga. No other poetry is attributed to Njáll, however, and the attribution of the lv. to him is highly suspect (so also ÁM in 761bˣ at 23r). The half-st. is therefore edited in this vol. and it is not included in SkP III. The second helmingr of st. 3 duplicates st. 2/5-8. This, and the fact that st. 4/5-8 is part of a lv. composed by Jarl Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson of Orkney (r. 1139-1158; Rv Lv 1), casts doubt on the authenticity of some of the Gamv (see Fidjestøl 1982, 60). In Mork all but one st. (st. 4) end with a refrain referring to Gerðr gollhrings ‘the Gerðr of the gold ring’ in Russia, i.e. Ellisif (Elizabeth), the daughter of Jaroslav (Jarizleifr) of Novgorod and Ingigerðr, the daughter of Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson of Sweden. Haraldr married Ellisif in Russia on his way back to Norway. In H-Hr all sts end with this refrain (see Notes to st. 4 below).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated