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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Ótt Knútdr 9I

Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Óttarr svarti, Knútsdrápa 9’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 778.

Óttarr svartiKnútsdrápa

text and translation

Bjóðr, vannt brynjur rauðar,
blíðr stórgjafa, síðan
— lætr ǫnd, áðr þrek þrjóti
þinn — fyr Norðvík innan.

{Blíðr bjóðr stórgjafa}, vannt síðan brynjur rauðar fyr innan Norðvík; lætr ǫnd, áðr þrek þinn þrjóti.
‘Gracious giver of great gifts [GENEROUS MAN], you afterwards made mail-shirts red inland from Norwich; you will give up your spirit [die] before your strength fails.

notes and context

This helmingr follows a brief account of a battle which Knútr had at Norðvík (Norwich).

It is at least a possibility that this stanza comes from an otherwise lost poem in honour of Knútr’s father, Sveinn tjúguskegg (for earlier discussion of this issue see A. Campbell 1971, 13; Poole 1987, 276-80). According to the English sources we possess (primarily the ASC and the Encomium Emmae Reginae), Knútr did not fight a battle at Norwich in the course of his 1016 campaign in England; but his father Sveinn did fight a major battle there in 1004, which is the only conflict at Norwich recorded in English sources for the late Viking Age (ASC (‘E’) s. a. 1004). Moreover, in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267) Óttarr is listed as having composed for Sveinn as well as Knútr. Nonetheless, Poole (1987, 278) has argued that Knýtl’s attribution of this stanza to Óttarr’s Knútdr can still be salvaged. Although Knútr is not remembered in English sources as having fought a battle at Norwich, ASC (s. a. 1016) does record that after fighting in London (and before the battle of Ashingdon) Knútr and his army went by ship into the river Orwell, and then inland into Mercia. This would provide opportunity for some sort of action at or near Norwich, which Óttarr may then have wished to emphasise in order to draw a parallel between Knútr and his illustrious father. For the sequencing of sts 8-10 in this edn, see further Introduction.



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: Óttarr svarti, 3. Knútsdrápa 9: AI, 298, BI, 274, Skald I, 140; Fms 11, 195, Fms 12, 249, SHI 11, 184, Knýtl 1919-25, 44, ÍF 35, 113 (ch. 12).


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