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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bkrepp Magndr 11II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Bjǫrn krepphendi, Magnússdrápa 11’ 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. 404-5.

Bjǫrn krepphendiMagnússdrápa

text and translation

Lífspelli réð Laufa
lundr í Ǫngulssundi
— broddr fló, þars slǫg snuddu
snúðigt — Huga ins prúða.
Ǫll hefr Jóta fellir
eylǫnd farit brandi
— vítt liggr dyggs und dróttum
dǫglings grund — of stundir.

{Lundr Laufa} réð lífspelli Huga ins prúða í Ǫngulssundi; broddr fló snúðigt, þars slǫg snuddu. {Fellir Jóta} hefr farit ǫll eylǫnd brandi of stundir; vítt liggr grund und dróttum dyggs dǫglings.
‘The tree of Laufi <sword> [WARRIOR] caused the death of Hugh inn prúði (‘the Proud’) in the Menai Strait; the arrow-point flew fast where weapons soared. The slayer of the Jótar [= Magnús] has advanced throughout all the islands with the sword for some time; far and wide the earth is controlled by the retainers of the worthy ruler.

notes and context

The battle of the Menai Strait between Anglesey and Wales in which Magnús fought with the Norman earls Hugh of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury (Hugh the Proud (Hugi inn prúði)) and Hugh of Avranches, Earl of Chester (Hugh the Stout (Hugi inn digri)). Hugh of Shrewsbury was killed by an arrow, apparently shot by Magnús himself.

This battle is also commemorated in Þham Magndr 3 and in Gísl Magnkv 10-13. Hugh’s death is documented widely in ON and foreign sources (see the literature cited in Anderson 1922, II, 111 n. 2 and Power 1986, 109-10). There is dispute in Theodoricus and the ON prose sources as to the identity of the person who shot Hugh (and also about which of the two Hughs was killed). Theodoricus (MHN 62) says that Magnús killed Hugh the Stout (cognomento grossum), which corresponds to the account of Ágr (ÍF 29, 46), with the exception that, in the latter narrative, Hugh was shot by a man standing next to Magnús. After that man had made the fatal shot, he threw his bow to Magnús and dedicated the shot to him. According to Mork (1928-32, 319), the Hugh who was killed was Hugh the Proud, who was shot in the eye. Magnús and another shooter, a man from Hålogaland who stood next to him, shot simultaneously. Later there was dispute about whose arrow had killed Hugh, and Þham Magndr 3 is cited in support of Magnús being the killer (so also Fsk, ÍF 29, 308). Hkr (ÍF 28, 222) gives a similar account, except that Snorri states the the shot was konunginum kennt ‘attributed to the king’ (so also Orkn, ÍF 34, 96). In his Itinerarium Kambriae (in Geraldi Cambrensis Opera, VI, 129), Gerald of Wales gives a detailed account of this incident. He mistakenly identifies Hugh of Chester (comes Hugo Cestrensis) as the victim, but he states that Magnús was the one who shot him in the right eye and killed him (Hugh was entirely clad in iron except for his eyes). According to Gerald, Magnús, standing in the prow of his ship, looked insolently down at the dying man, shouting in Dan. leit loupe ‘let him leap’. Hugh of Avranches, Earl of Chester, died in 1101.



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.

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