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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 14II/3 — brezkar ‘the British’

Ýmisst vann sá * unnar,
— írsk fell drótt — þás sótti,
Baldr, eða brezkar aldir
— brann eldr — Skotaveldi.

Sá* Baldr unnar vann ýmisst, þás sótti brezkar aldir eða Skotaveldi; írsk drótt fell; eldr brann.

That Baldr <god> of the sword [WARRIOR = Þorfinnr] won diverse [triumphs], as he attacked the British people and the realm of the Scots; the Irish troop fell; fire blazed.


[3] brezkar: ‘brattkar’ 21 6 7 IIˣ


[3] brezkar ‘British’: (a) Bretar and Bretland occur with reference to Celtic peoples, especially those of Wales and Strathclyde. It is difficult to arbitrate between these two main possibilities in this st., and the flanking references to Skotaveldi ‘the realm of the Scots’ and írsk drótt ‘Irish troop’ could favour either ‘Welsh’ as geographically likely (cf. the clear use of Bretland to mean Wales, e.g., in Mork 1928-32, 318 and 321), or to Strathclyde, as favoured by Poole (1987, 292-8). (b) An alternative possibility is that brezkr is used loosely to mean ‘English’ here, since sts 16-18 depict Þorfinnr attacking the English. This might be supported by Anon Liðs 8/7I where the sword rings out á brezkum brynjum ‘on British/English byrnies’ by the Thames, but Poole (loc. cit.) makes a good case for a Welsh presence there.



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