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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Heil 5VII

[All]: Sts 5-8 celebrate S. Edmund, King of the East Angles (d. 869, given as 870 by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and by Ari Þorgilsson in Íslendingabók, written c. 1130). For his life, see Gransden 2004. Edmund was venerated as a martyr because he died fighting heathen Danish Vikings, his killer being identified by Ari as Ívarr, son of Ragnarr loðbrók. Ari records that Edmund’s martyrdom is ritit … í sǫgu hans ‘written in his saga’ (ÍF 1, 1.4), but no other evidence of an Icel. saga about Edmund exists, so Ari may be referring to the earliest Lat. life of Edmund, by Abbo of Fleury, written c. 985-7 (Winterbottom 1972) or possibly to Abbot Ælfric’s vernacular life, c. 1000, based on Abbo’s (Needham 1966, 43-59). Ari used Edmund’s death date as the basis for his reckoning of the beginning of the settlement of Iceland. Evidence for his cult seems to be confined to the church at Lögmannshlíð in the north of Iceland, where there was an image of him in C14th; Cormack (1994, 94) hypothesises that this may have been because people in this area would have considered they could trace their ancestry back to Edmund via Guðmundr the powerful (cf. Stu 1906-11, I, 53). Fell (1981a, 101) indicates that Edmund’s cult may have been first established in Norway, and passed from there to Iceland.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  3. Stu 1906-11 = Kålund, Kristian, ed. 1906-11. Sturlunga saga efter membranen Króksfjarðarbók udfyldt efter Reykjarfjarðarbók. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  4. Winterbottom, Michael, ed. 1972. Three Lives of English Saints. Toronto Medieval Latin Texts. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies for the Centre for Medieval Studies.
  5. Fell, Christine E. 1981a. ‘Anglo-Saxon Saints in Old Norse sources and vice versa’. In Bekker-Nielsen et al. 1981, 95-106.
  6. Gransden, Antonia. 2004. ‘Edmund [St Edmund] (d. 869), king of the East Angles’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. <> [accessed 6 November 2005]
  7. Needham, G. I., ed. 1966. Lives of Three English Saints. London: Methuen.
  8. ÍF = Íslenzk fornrit.
  9. ÍF 1 (parts 1 and 2) = Íslendingabók; Landnámabók. Ed. Jakob Benediktsson. 1968. Rpt. as one volume 1986.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite (ÍslbIV)
  12. Not published: do not cite (RloðVIII)


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