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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sturl Hryn 13II

Valgerður Erna Þorvaldsdóttir (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 13’ 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. 690-1.

Sturla ÞórðarsonHrynhenda

text and translation

Errinn sendi ungan svarra
út í lönd á geima þrútinn;
aldri fréttuð jöfra dróttins
æðri ferð af heimangerðum.
Allir tóku yppiþollar
unnartams fyrir lægi sunnan
ára blakks, sem allvaldr væri
innan lands, við dóttur þinni.

Errinn sendi ungan svarra út í lönd á þrútinn geima; aldri fréttuð æðri ferð af heimangerðum {dróttins jöfra}. {Allir yppiþollar {unnartams blakks ára}} fyrir sunnan lægi tóku við dóttur þinni, sem allvaldr væri innan lands.
‘The bold one sent the young, proud lady abroad onto the swollen ocean; never did you hear about a more outstanding retinue sent from home by a lord of princes [KING]. All the extolling fir-trees of the wave-tame horse of the oars [SHIP > SEAFARERS] south of the sea received your daughter as if she were a mighty ruler within the land.

notes and context

In the summer of 1257, Princess Kristín was sent off with a large retinue to travel south to Spain, where she was to choose one of the Spanish princes as her husband.

As mentioned in the Introduction to the poem above, Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 84), Finnur Jónsson (Skj), Kock (Skald) and Fidjestøl (1982, 175) all move this st. back in the poem as st. 18 in Hryn, disregarding the ordering of the sts in the mss. Such a reordering of the sts is, however, not necessary. In 1256, King Alfonso X of Spain sent emissaries to Norway to establish diplomatic relations with the Norw. king. To show his good will, he asked for Princess Kristín’s hand in marriage on behalf of one of his brothers. A year later King Hákon accepted the proposal on behalf of his daughter, provided she would be allowed to choose a husband for herself from among the Spanish princes. By placing this st. here, and breaking off the description of the warfare in Denmark, Sturla poses the question about what the Spanish king had to gain by marrying his brother to a Norw. princess. The answer to that question becomes apparent in the next five sts where Sturla extolls the splendid fleet of King Hákon. Alfonso X wanted to have easy access to the fleet, which was one of the largest in Europe at that time. He intended to attack Morocco on a crusade against the heathens there, and he also wanted Hákon to support him in the election as emperor. As far as content is concerned, this st. would seem to belong together with st. 19. The two sts frame the description of Hákon’s great fleet, which was the main reason for the expansion and glory of the Norw. state under Hákon’s rule. The magnificent fleet, the expansion of the state and friendly relations with other monarchs in Europe are the main themes of the poem, showing Sturla’s vast knowledge of Norw. affairs and the politics of his time.



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: Sturla Þórðarson, 3. Hrynhenda 18: AII, 107, BII, 117-18, Skald II, 62; F 1871, 554, E 1916, 650-1, Hák 1910-86, 658, Hák 1977-82, 173, Flat 1860-8, III, 197.


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