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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 8. Volume Introduction 4. Biographies 4.1. Ruler biographies 4.1.a. Kings and jarls of Norway 8. Haraldr I hárfagri Hálfdanarson (r. c. 860-c. 932)

8. Haraldr I hárfagri Hálfdanarson (r. c. 860-c. 932)

The Yngling king Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ was the son of the petty king Hálfdan svarti (q. v.). According to Hkr, Haraldr succeeded Hálfdan as king of Vestfold in south-eastern Norway at the age of ten. He is said to have ruled for seventy or seventy-three years (see Note to Anon Nkt 8 [All]II). Scholars have dated his accession at some point in the period 860-80 but all the dates of his life and reign are highly contested and uncertain (see Andersen 1977, 80-3). Haraldr formed alliances with Hákon Grjótgarðsson, jarl of Hlaðir (Lade) and ruler of the far northern region of Norway, and with Rǫgnvaldr Eysteinsson, jarl of Mœrr (Møre) in the north-west, and fought successful campaigns against the petty kings of Upplǫnd (Opplandene) and Raumsdalr (Romsdalen), as well as regaining the eastern territory of Vermaland (Värmland) from the Swedish king Eiríkr Eymundarson. Haraldr’s territorial expansion culminated in the sea-battle of Hafrsfjǫrðr (Hafrsfjorden, Rogaland) against a coalition of kings and jarls, probably petty rulers from the south-western coastal regions of Hǫrðaland (Hordaland), Rogaland, and Agðir (Agder), though some scholars, such as von See (1961b, 105-11), have argued for more limited opposition; see Andersen (1977, 79-84) for a survey. The battle, traditionally dated c. 872, is often placed c. 885-c. 890 in more recent historiography, and that date-range is used throughout this volume. In the traditional view, Haraldr’s victory made him the effective ruler of all Norway, but the nature and extent of his power is disputed, and medieval claims about Haraldr’s significance in Norway’s progress towards unified statehood are now generally regarded as exaggerated.

Haraldr’s nickname lúfa ‘Shaggy-locks’ later gave way to hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’; both are attested from early poetry (see Index of Nicknames). The change of nickname is linked in some sources to Haraldr’s ambitions. Fsk (ÍF 29, 66) and Hkr (ÍF 26, 97) record a vow by Haraldr that he will not cut his hair until he has gained control of Norway, and HarHárf in Flat (1860-8, I, 569, 575) explicitly links the making of the vow to the nickname lúfa and the fulfilment of it to hárfagri. Ágr (ÍF 29, 3) on the other hand seems to assume an improvement in his looks.

Haraldr is said to have bestowed Shetland and Orkney on the family of his ally Rǫgnvaldr jarl, whose son Torf-Einarr (TorfE; see skald Biography) became the first Norse jarl there. However, Rǫgnvaldr was killed by Haraldr’s sons Hálfdan háleggr ‘Long-legged’ and Guðrøðr ljómi ‘Beam of Light’, provoking a feud, especially with Torf-Einarr. Haraldr had numerous sons – anywhere from nine to twenty, according to the sources (see Hkr 1991, III, 135; Driscoll in Ágr 2008, 84-5); their mothers were various wives, concubines, and servants, among them Ása, daughter of Hákon jarl Grjótgarðsson, and Ragnhildr, daughter of King Eiríkr of Jutland. For the story of Haraldr’s match with the Saami princess Snæfríðr, about whom he is implausibly said to have composed Hhárf Snædr, see Context to that poem. The unstable succession led to a fragmentation of power in Norway after Haraldr’s death c. 932. See Anon Nkt 4-9II, c. 1190; Theodoricus (MHN 6; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 5); HN (MHN 103-5; Kunin and Phelpstead 2001, 14-15); Ágr (ÍF 29, 3-7; Ágr 2008, 3-7); Fsk (ÍF 29, 58-74; Finlay 2004, 42-54); HhárfHkr (ÍF 26, 94-149; Hollander 1964a, 59-95). Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273) lists the following as Haraldr’s skalds: Auðunn illskælda (Auðunn), Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn), Ǫlvir hnúfa (Ǫlvir), Þjóðólfr ór Hvini (Þjóð), Úlfr Sebbason and Guthormr sindri (Gsind; no poetry for Haraldr extant).

Events documented in poetry: Battles against the Orkndœlir (Þhorn Gldr 1-2); two battles near Sólskel (Solskjel, Þhorn Gldr 3-5 (?)); campaign in the Götaälv (Þhorn Gldr 6-7); the battle of Hafrsfjǫrðr (Hafrsfjorden), c. 885-c. 890 (Þjóð Har 4; Þhorn Gldr 3-5 (?); Þhorn Harkv 7-12); Haraldr’s conquest of Norway (Anon Oddm); expedition to the British Isles (Þhorn Gldr 8); Haraldr’s change of nickname (Þjóð Har 5); his military exploits in general (Þhorn Gldr; Jór Send 1, 3); his war-band and life at his court (Þjóð Har 1-3; Þjóð Lv 1; Þhorn Harkv 5-6, 13, 15-23); dealings with (Gǫngu-)Hrólfr Rǫgnvaldsson (Hildr Lv); conflict between Haraldr and his son Hálfdan svarti and reconciliation through Guthormr sindri (Jór Send);  Haraldr’s attempt to suppress a sorcerer’s activities (Vitg Lv); his marriage to Ragnhildr (Þhorn Harkv 13-14); an anecdote featuring three of Haraldr’s skalds (Þhorn Lv; Auðunn Lv; Ǫlvir Lv). Events involving the sons of Haraldr: storm warning to Guðrøðr Haraldsson (Þjóð Lv 2); hostilities between Haraldr’s sons and Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson (Torf-Einarr Lv 1-5); Rǫgnvaldr réttilbeini accused of sorcery (Vitg Lv). See also Biographies of Eiríkr blóðøx and Hákon góði. Two stanzas are attributed to Haraldr: Hhárf Snædr on the death of Snæfríðr and Hhárf Lv on his retainers.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Ágr = [Anonymous] Ágrip af Nóregs konunga sögum.
  4. MHN = Storm, Gustav, ed. 1880. Monumenta historica Norvegiæ: Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen. Kristiania (Oslo): Brøgger. Rpt. 1973. Oslo: Aas & Wahl.
  5. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  6. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  7. Andersen, Per Sveaas. 1977. Samlingen av Norge og kristningen av landet 800-1130. Handbok i Norges historie 2. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. Finlay, Alison, trans. 2004. Fagrskinna: A Catalogue of the Kings of Norway. Leiden: Brill.
  9. HN = Historia Norwegiæ. In MHN 69-124.
  10. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  11. McDougall, David and Ian McDougall, trans. 1998. Theodoricus monachus. Historia de antiquitate regum norwagiensium: An Account of the Ancient History of the Norwegian Kings. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 11. University College, London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. Theodoricus = Theodrici monachi historia de antiquitate regum Norwagiensium. In MHN 1-68.
  13. Ágr 2008 = Driscoll, Matthew J., ed. and trans. 2008. Ágrip af Nóregskonungasǫgum: A Twelfth-Century Synoptic History of the Kings of Norway. 2nd edn. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 10. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  14. See, Klaus von. 1961b. ‘Studien zum Haraldskvæði’. ANF 76, 96-111. Rpt. in von See 1981a, 295-310.
  15. Kunin, Devra, trans., and Carl Phelpstead, ed., introd. and notes. 2001. A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláfr. Viking Society for Northern Research Text Series 13. London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  16. Hollander, Lee M., trans. 1964a. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway by Snorri Sturluson. Austin: The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Rpt. 1991 (rpt. cited in SkP II).
  17. Internal references
  18. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  19. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Biography of) Auðunn illskælda’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 18.
  20. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxi-clxii.
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clix-clxi.
  22. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Biography of) Guthormr sindri’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 154.
  23. Not published: do not cite (HarHárfII)
  24. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Biography of) Ǫlvir hnúfa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 491.
  25. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Biography of) Þorbjǫrn hornklofi’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 73.
  26. Edith Marold 2017, ‘(Biography of) Þjóðólfr ór Hvini’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 431.
  27. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Biography of) Torf-Einarr Rǫgnvaldsson’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 128.
  28. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Nóregs konungatal 4’ 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, p. 764.
  29. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Anonymous Poems, Nóregs konungatal 8’ 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, p. 767.
  30. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Oddmjór’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1001.
  31. Margaret Clunies Ross 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Auðunn illskælda, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 120.
  32. Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Haraldr hárfagri Hálfdanarson, Snæfríðardrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 67.
  33. R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Haraldr hárfagri Hálfdanarson, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 71.
  34. Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hildr Hrólfsdóttir nefju, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 139.
  35. Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Jórunn skáldmær, Sendibítr’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 143.
  36. Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 73.
  37. Margaret Clunies Ross 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 117.
  38. Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Vitgeirr seiðmaðr, Lausavísa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 141.
  39. Judith Jesch (ed.) 2012, ‘Jórunn skáldmær, Sendibítr 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 145.
  40. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 75.
  41. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 3’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 81.
  42. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 6’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 85.
  43. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 8’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 88.
  44. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 13’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 107.
  45. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 5’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 98.
  46. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 7’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 100.
  47. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Poem about Haraldr hárfagri 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 61.
  48. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Poem about Haraldr hárfagri 4’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 62.
  49. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Lausavísur 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 64.
  50. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Lausavísur 2’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 65.
  51. R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Poem about Haraldr hárfagri 5’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 63.
  52. Not published: do not cite ()
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