Anglo-Saxon England in Icelandic Medieval Texts by Magnús Fjalldal

By Magnús Fjalldal

Medieval Icelandic authors wrote very much near to England and the English. This new paintings through Magnús Fjalldal is the 1st to supply an outline of what Icelandic medieval texts need to say approximately Anglo-Saxon England in recognize to its language, tradition, background, and geography.

Some of the texts Fjalldal examines comprise relatives sagas, the shorter þættir, the histories of Norwegian and Danish kings, and the Icelandic lives of Anglo-Saxon saints. Fjalldal unearths that during reaction to a opposed Norwegian court docket and kings, Icelandic authors – from the early 13th century onwards (although they have been particularly poorly knowledgeable approximately England sooner than 1066) – created a principally imaginary kingdom the place pleasant, beneficiant, even supposing fairly useless kings dwelling below consistent danger welcomed the help of saga heroes to unravel their problems.

The England of Icelandic medieval texts is extra of a degree than a rustic, and mainly services to supply saga heroes with repute in a foreign country. on account that lots of those texts are hardly tested outdoor of Iceland or within the English language, Fjalldal's e-book is critical for students of either medieval Norse tradition and Anglo-Saxon England.

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Snorri’s account correctly describes the movements of the Norwegian fleet along the Yorkshire coast, but as soon as the action moves further inland (after the Battle of Fulford), it becomes clear that his topographical knowledge of Yorkshire is not very accurate. For instance, he believes Stamford Bridge to be close to the walls of York – and has Haraldr select it as a convenient post for attacking the city – when in reality it is eight miles away. Furthermore, he thinks that Riccall, where the Norwegian ships have been left, Stamford Bridge, and the city of York are all very close to one another, as people shuttle back and forth between them.

2 Still, some of Snorri’s details are less than convincing, particularly his idea that King Athelstan would have entertained thirty armed Norwegians at a royal banquet. But is the kernel of truth in this story that Hákon was really fostered by an English king? That seems to be generally accepted,3 although there is no evidence to support it other than the story we have just looked at and the fact that Hákon is called Aðalsteinsfóstri. However, it never seems to occur to anyone that the Aðalsteinn in question might have been someone other than King Athelstan, and as we shall see in the story of Hákon’s return to Norway, there is more room for doubt.

The next time we hear of Anlaf in the Chronicle is in 994, when he and Sveinn Fork-beard (tjúguskegg) attack London with ninetyfour ships. The purpose of the attack was to set fire to the city, but Anlaf and Sveinn failed completely and were driven off, having suffered more casualties than they had ever anticipated. But, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, their raid was far from over. They then proceeded to attack Essex, Kent, Sus- 38 Anglo-Saxon England in Icelandic Medieval Texts sex, and Hampshire, looting, killing, and burning wherever they went.

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