Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Annett Krakow

Peculiarities of the Flateyjarbók version of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta

Thursday, March 17, 2022, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Annett Krakow

Flateyjarbók (c.1387–1394/95) preserves a version of the younger redaction of the so-called longest saga of the Norwegian king Óláfr Tryggvason. Compared with the older redaction and also AM 62 fol., another manuscript of the younger redaction, the Flateyjarbók version differs with regard to two aspects: First, interpolations related to the retainers who fight with King Óláfr in the decisive sea battle at Svǫlðr. Second, the last part of the saga, which covers the subsequent period of the king’s alleged survival until his death in a monastery.

In my talk, I will in particular focus on the first aspect. Even the older sagas of Óláfr Tryggvason by Oddr Snorrason and Snorri Sturluson named the men who fought on the king’s side, especially on his ship Ormrinn langi. In these sagas and in Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta, comparatively few of these men are referred to in other parts of the saga. In Flateyjarbók, attempts were made to diminish this discrepancy and to portray selected retainers. The modifications comprise additional stories in which they feature (for instance in the case of Þorsteinn uxafótr) and interpolations of names in the lists of retainers. A certain Hallsteinn, for example, is in Flateyjarbók explicitly identified as the son of Hrómundr halti and one of the protagonists in the interpolated Hrómundar þáttr halta. In the þættir, one learns that Hallsteinn and (partly) Þorsteinn uxafótr are of Icelandic descent. The same also holds true for Þorsteinn skelkr, whose name was added in the enumeration of retainers, and who is a character in an interpolated þáttr. Thus, Icelanders are among those men in Óláfr’s last battle, who are granted an intensified presentation in the saga.

Concerning the second aspect, modifications in the last part of the saga, one can, for example, note that chapters on Saint Óláfr and Haraldr harðráði were omitted. Moreover, the position of chapters related to the rule of Eiríkr Hákonarson was changed: placed after Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta, they create a transitional passage to Óláfs saga helga. In this transitional passage, one can find further interpolations. One of these is Orms þáttr Stórólfssonar, the eponymous hero of which participates in a ‘re-enactment’ of the fight on Ormrinn langi.

Annett Krakow works at the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland). She holds an MA in English and Scandinavian Studies (2004) and a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies (2009) from Humboldt University, Berlin (Germany). Currently, her research focuses on Yngvars saga víðfǫrla and its reception in studies on Yngvarr’s expedition.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend