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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Arn Hardr 17II

[3] vǫrð Girkja ok Garða ‘guardian of the Greeks and of Russia (Garðar)’: Garðar or Garðaríki is Novgorod (Hólmgarðr) and its territory in north-west Russia. The kenning thus refers appropriately to the areas where the young Haraldr distinguished himself (1035-45/46; see Bagge 1990). Johnsen (1969, 50) suggested that it might additionally allude to the fact that Haraldr was long at odds with the papacy, and followed an ecclesiastical policy which in some respects resembled that of Byzantium and Russia. The normalised spelling Girk- ‘Greeks’ is based on the evidence of skaldic rhymes, including the contemporary virk : Girkjum (Stúfr Stúfdr 2/4 and Note). The juxtaposition of Garða, normally a territorial name, with Girkja might suggest that the skald is here applying it to the inhabitants of Garðaríki (so Kuhn 1971, 15), a usage that might have arisen by analogy with pairs such as Svíaríki : Svíar (Sweden and its inhabitants) and Raumaríki : Raumar (Romerike and its inhabitants).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Kuhn, Hans (1899). 1971a. ‘Das älteste Christentum Islands’. ZDA 100, 4-40.
  3. Bagge, Sverre. 1990. ‘Harald Hardråde i Bysants’. In Andersen et al. 1990, 169-92.
  4. Johnsen, Oscar Albert. 1969. ‘Harald Hardrådes død i skaldediktningen’. MM, 47-50.
  5. Internal references
  6. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Stúfr inn blindi Þórðarson kattar, Stúfsdrápa 2’ 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. 352-3.


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