Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Poem about Magnús lagabœtir — Anon MlagII

Anonymous Poems

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Poem about Magnús lagabœtir’ 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. 809-11.


The three sts belong to a panegyric in hrynhent metre (Anon Mlag) about the Norw. king Magnús lagabœtir ‘Law-mender’ Hákonarson (d. 9 May 1280; see ‘Royal Biographies’ in Introduction to this vol.), and it must have been recited in the presence of his son, King Eiríkr Magnússon (see the form of address in st. 3/2 below). Because Magnús is referred to in the past tense (st. 1/5), the poem was most likely composed c. 1280 in his memory. The title of the poem is not preserved. Jón Þorkelsson (Småstykker 1-16, 289) gives the caption Erfidrápa hrynhend om kong Magnús lagabœtir ‘Memorial drápa in hrynhent about King Magnús lagabœtir’, and Finnur Jónsson (Skj) calls it Et arvekvad om kong Magnus lagaböter ‘A memorial poem about King Magnús lagabœtir’. Kock (Skald) supplies the caption Erfikvæði Magnúss lagabœtis ‘Magnús lagabœtir’s memorial poem’. The poet is unknown, but Finnur Jónsson (LH 1894-1901, II, 106) speculates that he could have been the Icel. priest Þorvaldr Helgason, who is listed among Eiríkr Magnússon’s skalds in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 265, 279). Jón Þorkelsson (Småstykker 1-16, 291) suggests that he could have been Þórðr Sturluson (d. 4 March 1283), the son of the Icel. lawman and poet Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl).

The sts must have formed the beginning of the poem. The first st. contains an invocation to God to listen to the poem and to guide the poet in his creative endeavours, which is typical of the beginnings of religious encomia. In the second st., the poet names the person to be eulogised (Magnús), and the third st. addresses the patron before whom the poem is recited (Eiríkr).

The three sts were originally recorded in a ms. (Caps. X Ord. I in fol. no. 24) belonging to the Dan. scholar P. H. Resén (1625-88), which was destroyed in the fire in Copenhagen in 1728. In Resén’s library catalogue, Petri Johannis Resenii Bibliotheca Regiæ Academiæ Hafniensi donata (p. 131), the fragment is listed as item No. 7 in that ms.: Fragmentum Carminis cuiusdam Anonymi de Magno Norvegiæ Rege lagabæterdicto ‘Fragment of a poem by an anonymous poet about Magnús king of Norway … called lagabœtir’. In Resén’s ms., the fragment was recorded between Brevarium Vitæ Gudmundi Episcopi Holensis in Islandia ‘A short life of Bishop Guðmundr of Hólar in Iceland’ (No. 6) and a treatise on astronomy (No. 8). For a list of the content of that ms., see Storm 1888, iv-v. A copy of some of the items in Resén’s ms., including the three sts, is found in Holm papp 76 folˣ (76ˣ, c. 1650-1700). According to Storm (1888, iv), the sts are also recorded in DG 36-38ˣ (c. 1600-1650), but that information is incorrect. The sts were first edited by Jón Þorkelsson as No. 13 in Småstykker 1-16, 289-91.


  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. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Storm, Gustav, ed. 1888. Islandske annaler indtil 1578. Christiania (Oslo): Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond. Rpt. 1977. Oslo: Norsk-historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt.
  5. LH 1894-1901 = Finnur Jónsson. 1894-1901. Den oldnorske og oldislandske litteraturs historie. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Gad.
  6. Internal references
  7. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Biography of) Sturla Þórðarson’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 392.
  8. Not published: do not cite ()

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