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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Heil 1VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra manna drápa 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 872-3.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra manna drápa

text and translation

... mildings - f…-
... um - dyrnar - þustu -
... særa.
Rígarð - hiet -
†ran…† …iljálm - annarr-
Reinald -
klerk*a - blóms - og Hugi hinn sterki.-

… mildings ... um dyrnar þustu ... særa. Rígarð hiet ... annarr …iljálm Reinald ... blóms klerk*a og Hugi hinn sterki.
‘… of the king ... rushed through the door ... of wounds. Richard was the name ... another ... [W]illiam Reginald ... of the adornment of clerics and Hugh the strong.

notes and context

St. 1 is too fragmentary for a firm connection between the various legible words to be established, but it may describe how the four knights who murdered Thomas Becket burst into Canterbury cathedral and attacked him. The st. seems to preserve complete or in fragmentary form the four men’s names: Reginald Fitzurse (= Reinaldr Bjarnarson), Richard Brito (= Rígarðr or Ríkarðr Brito), William de Tracy (probably the ‘ilialm’ of our text, Vilhjálmr af Traz), and Hugh de Morville (= Hugi hinn sterki, Hugi af Morevil); for the ON forms of these names, as recorded in versions of the prose saga of Thomas Becket, see Unger 1869, 236-7 and 434; Eiríkur Magnússon 1875-83, I, 514. — Sts 1-4 recount, with some graphic detail, the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (1120?-70, canonised 1173) in Canterbury cathedral on 29 December 1170; for details of his life and murder, see Barlow 2004. This charismatic medieval saint, who came to symbolise the independence of the Church in the face of secular powers, was the subject of several Lat. and ON lives. The two most complete ON texts are Thómas saga 1 (second half of C13th) and Thómas saga 2 (first half of C14th); Thómas saga 2, written by Abbot Arngrímr Brandsson, also author of a saga about Guðmundr Arason, together with two C14th fragments, appears to draw on an Icel. translation of the now lost Lat. life of Thomas by Robert of Cricklade (Duggan 2004), probably by the priest Bergr Gunnsteinsson, active late C12th-early C13th (Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 334; Stefán Karlsson 1973; Jakobsen 1993). Thomas Becket was very popular in Iceland, especially among churchmen seeking independence from secular chieftains, and his shrine at Canterbury was early the goal of pilgrimage by pious Icelanders, such as Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson (Cormack 1994, 156-7). Four ll. survive of a poem (Ólhv ThómdrIII) about the saint by Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld (d. 1259) and there is a late Thómas diktur erkibyskups in the C16th ms. AM 713 4° (ÍM II, 459-62). — [2]: To Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) and Kahle ‘ar’ was visible before mildings. — [3]: um seems to be preceded by ‘ke’, but the letters are hardly visible. — [5]: To Kahle ‘ra’ was visible after hiet. — [6]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) added <v> to ms. ‘ilialm’ to give the proper name Viljálm.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 10]. Af et digt om hellige mænd 1: AII, 511-12, BII, 562-3, Skald II, 308, NN §3377; Kahle 1898, 90, 112.


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