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

... 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.

Mss: 720a VI(1r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] f…: ‘[...]’ 399a‑bˣ    [8] klerk*a: ‘(klerkla)’(?) 720a VI, ‘klerkla’ 399a‑bˣ;    blóms: hardly visible 720a VI

Editions: Skj AII, 511-12, Skj BII, 562-3, Skald II, 308, NN §3377; Kahle 1898, 90, 112.

Notes: [All]: 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. — [All]: 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. — [8] klerk*a (m. gen. pl.) ‘of clerics’: Kock (Skald; NN §3377) emends to klerka and refers to st. 17/1, in which the word occurs, whereas Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends to klerkligs (m./n. gen. sg.) ‘clerical’; a possible emendation is also klerkliga (adv.). — [8] Hugi: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald) imply, by capitalising it, that Hugi is a proper name, though neither offers a translation nor an indication of the likely referent, suggested here to be Hugh de Morville. This instance of Hugi is not listed in LP or LP (1860).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  8. Barlow, Frank. 2004. ‘Becket, Thomas [St Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London] (1120?-1170), archbishop of Canterbury’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. <> [accessed 6 October 2005]
  9. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  10. Duggan, A. J. 2004. ‘Cricklade, Robert of (d. in or after 1174), prior of St Frideswides, theologian, and hagiographer’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. <> [accessed 6 October 2005]
  11. Stefán Karlsson. 1973. ‘Icelandic Lives of Thomas à Becket: Questions of Authorship’. In Foote et al. 1973, 212-43.
  12. Unger, C. R., ed. 1869. Thomas Saga Erkibyskups. Fortælling om Thomas Becket Erkebiskop af Canterbury. To bearbeidelser samt fragmenter af en tredie. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  13. ÍM = Jón Helgason, ed. 1936-8. Íslenzk miðaldarkvæði: Islandske digte fra senmiddelalderen. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  14. Jakobsen, Alfred. 1993. ‘Thómas saga erkibiskups’. In MedS, 643-4.
  15. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.
  16. Internal references
  17. Margaret Clunies Ross 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Thómasdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 301.

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