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Historical Oddity: The Birth of a Commonwealth in Medieval Iceland

Iceland is an odd place with an odd history. Despite being ranked among the wealthiest nations today, for much of its history it was left out of the growth and development of culture and technology throughout the Medieval period. It has never been a particularly hospitable environment for human habitation. Wind-blasted, cold, and rocky, it was an island left unsettled by humans long after it was discovered.

Buried Alive with an Undead Corpse! A Medieval Tale

A medieval tale from northern Europe tells the story of Asmund, who gets buried alive. His friend then rises from the dead!

Kings, Wars, and Duck Eggs: Interpretations of Poetry in Egil’s Saga

Although Egil’s Saga is memorable enough for its bloodshed, feuds, and comically disgusting mead-hall scenes, the one characteristic which most distinctly sets it apart from the other Icelandic sagas is its extensive use of poetry.

Number Symbolism in Old Norse Literature

It is generally agreed that some numbers such as three and nine which appear frequently in the two Eddas hold special significances in Norse mythology. Furthermore, numbers appearing in sagas not only denote factual quantity, but also stand for specific symbolic meanings.

Snorri Sturluson: Viking Mythographer and Historian

I shall first tell you briefly about Snorri’s background and his education and discuss his Edda, where he appears as mythographer, among other things, and then tell you about his career as a politician and discuss his Sagas of the Norwegian Kings.

7 Things One Should Know When Dealing with Kings: The Icelander’s Version

Here is MaryAnn R. Adams’ winning advice on how to deal with Norse kings.

The Making of a Legend: The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok and the TV series ‘Vikings’

Thus neither The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok nor ‘Vikings’ are immediately recognisable as straight works of history, although they both have certain strongly historical elements to their content.

‘Hann lá eigi kyrr’: Revenants and a Haunted Past in the Sagas of Icelanders

From Antiquity to the present day, the idea of the dead returning to interact with the living has greatly influenced human imagination, and this has been reflected in literature — the product of that imagination.

Grief, Gender and Mourning in Medieval North Atlantic Literature

This dissertation explores the relationship between grief, cultural constructs of gender, and mourning behaviour in the literatures of medieval Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Iceland

30 Sagas in 30 Days on Twitter

This month, a scholar is using Twitter to tell the stories of thirty lesser known tales written by Icelanders.

Last Laughs: Torture in Medieval Icelandic Literature

Medieval Icelandic literature is full of violence, calculated and reasoned violence, narrated in such a way as to focus largely on issues of personal honor and justice, less so on the spectacle of blood so common in the modem Hollywood action film.

Reconstructing the past in medieval Iceland

This paper examines the relationship between the Sagas of Icelanders, which are concerned with tenth- and eleventh-century events, and the contemporary sagas of the mid-thirteenth century.

Miracles from Medieval Iceland

The first saint from Iceland was Thorlak Thorhallsson. The saga of his life reveals dozens of the miracles that were attributed to him after his death. Here are ten of these miracles, which reveal much about religion and daily life in medieval Iceland.

‘Black Men and Malignant-Looking’: The Place of the Indigenous Peoples of North America in the Icelandic World View

As they headed back to the ship they saw three hillocks on the beach inland from the cape. Upon coming closer they saw there were three hide-covered boats, with three men under each of them.

The Role of the Dead in Medieval Iceland: A Case Study of Eyrbyggja Saga

In this article I intend to discuss the role of the malevolent restless dead in medieval Iceland by making a case study of the so-called wonders of Fróðá, the Fróðárundr episode in Eyrbyggja saga.

A Hagiographical Reading of Egils saga

When the literary presentation of the character of Egill is examined carefully with an eye toward the hagiographical paradigm, one can see that it matches the presentation of a bishop’s life and character…

Trolls in the Middle Ages

Where did trolls come from? What did medieval and early modern people think of trolls? How did the concept of the modern day troll evolve?

Bárðar saga as a source for reconstruction of pre-Christian religion?

Paper by Eldar Heide given at the second meeting of the Old Norse Folklorist Network

The Names of Islands in the Old Norse Faereyinga Saga and Orkeyinga Saga

The Names of Islands in the Old Norse Faereyinga Saga and Orkeyinga Saga Hilda Radzin (St. John’s University) Literary Onomastics Studies: Volume 5, Article 7 (1978) Abstract In the Old Norse language the word saga denoted any kind of story or history in prose, whether written or oral. Used in this sense, the word saga […]

Of sagas and sheep: Toward a historical anthropology of social change and production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland

This dissertation deals with the formation of chiefdoms, communities, ecclesiastical institutions and state, and with production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland in the context of climatic change and ecological succession.

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