Slavs in Old Norse Literature
Tuesday January 28, 2014, at 16.30 Árnagarður 311
The role of Slavs (Vindr) appears to be rather marginal in the Scandinavian medieval literature. From the perspective of saga authors, their lands (Vindland) were located outside Scandinavian world and they were generally encountered as others and strangers. Their image in Old Norse narratives seems to be quite ambiguous. On one hand, Slavs are portrayed as hostile pagans, adversaries of St. Olaf and his followers. As ‘illvirkjar’ and ‘ókristnir’ they are among arch enemies of the Christian king. On the other hand, Slavs are present at crucial moments during the political career of another Norwegian missionary king, Olaf Tryggvason, playing the role of the only supporters of the deserted monarch. Jómsborg, the residence of famous viking band, is located in Vindland as a result of encounters with its famous ruler, Burizleifr. The latter figure becomes important political partner for Scandinavian kings and nobles. The Slavs’ presence at famous military encounters of the saga world (Danevirke, Hjørungavåg, Svoldr) points at their military skills, appreciated by Scandinavian leaders. The aim of this paper will be to look at what factors are decisive with regard to the complex image and role of Slavs in Old Norse literature. Jakub Morawiec is a lecturer in the Institute of History, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. His research focuses on history of Scandinavia in the early Middle Ages. He is the author of Vikings among the Slavs (Wien 2009), Knut Wielki (ok. 995-1035). Król Anglii, Danii i Norwegii (Kraków 2013) and the translator of Hallfreðar saga vandræðaskálds into Polish (Wrocław 2011).