Picture of Egil in a 17th-century manuscript of Egils Saga
|Died||995 (aged 90–91)|
|Occupation||Poet, warrior and farmer|
|Notable works||Egil's saga|
|Children||Þorgerðr Egilsdóttir, Bera Egilsdóttir, Böðvar Egilsson, Gunnar Egilsson and Þorsteinn Egilsson|
|Relatives||Skalla-Grímr Kveldúlfsson, Kári Stefánsson and Bera Yngvarsdóttir|
Egill Skallagrímsson (modernIcelandic pronunciation: [ˈɛiːjɪtl̥ ˈskatl̥akrimsɔn] ; c. 904 –c. 995) was a Viking-Age poet, warrior and farmer. He is known mainly as the protagonist of Egil's Saga . Egil's Saga historically narrates a period from approximately 850 to 1000 CE and is believed to have been written between 1220 and 1240 CE.
Egill is born in Iceland, to Skalla-Grímr Kveldúlfssonand Bera Yngvarsdóttir; he is the grandson of Kveld-Úlfr (whose name means "evening Wolf"). Another of his ancestors, Hallbjörn, is Norwegian-Sami.
Skalla-Grímr is a respected chieftain, and mortal enemy of King Harald Fairhair of Norway. He migrates to Iceland, settling at Borg, the place where his father's coffin lands.
Egill composes his first poem at the age of three years. He exhibits berserk behaviour, and this, together with the description of his large and unattractive head, has led to the theory that he might have suffered from Paget's disease, which causes a thickening of the bones and may lead eventually to blindness.
At the age of seven, Egill is cheated in a game with local boys. Enraged, he goes home, procures an axe, and, returning to the boys, splits the skull to the teeth of the boy who had cheated him.After Berg-Önundr refuses to allow Egill to claim his wife Ásgerðr's share of her father's inheritance, he challenged Önundr to a man-to-man fight on an island (a holmgangr). Berg-Önundr refuses the challenge but is later killed along with his brother Hadd by Egill. Egill is later to kill the last of the brothers, Atli the Short, by biting through Atli's neck during a holmgangr.
Later, after being grievously insulted, Egill kills Bárðr of Atley, a retainer of King Eiríkr Bloodaxe and kinsman of Queen Gunnhildr, both of whom spend the remainder of their lives trying to take vengeance. Seething with hatred, Gunnhildr orders her two brothers, Eyvindr Braggart and Álfr Aksmann, to assassinate Egill and his brother Þórólfr, who has been on good terms with her previously. However, Egill slays the Queen's brothers when they attempt to confront him.
In spring Þórólfr and Egill prepare a large warship and raid along the Eastern route (Austrvegr), where they win much wealth and have many battles. In Courland they make a peace for half a month and trade with the men of the land (ch. 46).
That same summer, Haraldr Fairhair dies. In order to secure his place as sole King of Norway, Eiríkr Bloodaxe murders his two brothers. He then declares Egill an outlaw in Norway. Berg-Önundr gathers a company of men to capture Egill, but is killed during his attempt to do so. Before escaping from Norway, Egill also slays Rögnvaldr, the son of King Eiríkr and Queen Gunnhildr. He then curses the King and Queen, setting a horse's head on a Nithing pole and saying
Gunnhildr also puts a spell on Egill, cursing him to feel restless and depressed until they meet again.
Soon afterwards, Eiríkr and Gunnhildr are forced to flee to the Kingdom of Northumbria by Prince Hákon. In Saxon England, they become King and Queen of Northumbria in rivalry with King Athelstan of England. In time, Egill is shipwrecked in Northumbria and comes to know who rules the land. Egill seeks out the house of his good friend Arinbjörn, where they arm themselves and march to Eiríkr's court. Arinbjörn tells Egill "now you must go and offer the king your head and embrace his foot. I will present your case to him." Arinbjörn presents Egill’s case and Egill composes a short drápa , reciting it with Eiríkr’s foot in his hand, but Eiríkr is not impressed. He explains that Egill’s wrongs to him were far too great to be forgiven so easily. Gunnhildr calls for the immediate execution of Egill, but Arinbjörn convinces the king not to kill him until the morning.
Arinbjörn tells Egill that he should stay up all night and compose a mighty head-ransom poem or drápa fit for such a king, a poem in praise of his enemy. In the morning Egill goes back before king Eiríkr and recites the great drápa. This twenty-stanza long head-ransom poem appears in Chapter 63 of Egils saga . Eiríkr is so surprised by the quality of the poem that he decides to give Egill his life, even though Egill has killed Eiríkr's own son. The complex nature of these poems, with complex poetic metres and metaphors (including kennings), as well as the fact that they were often about kings reliably attested in the historical record, provides some basis for supposing that they might have been composed by a historically real Egill Skallagrímsson, descending more or less unchanged through oral tradition from the time of their composition to the writing of Egils saga. Egils saga and some other Icelandic sagas appear to hang on a skeletal framework of such complex poetry, a spine of historical truth.
Egill also fights at the Battle of Brunanburh in the service of King Æthelstan; his brother Þórólfr dies there, for which Egill receives two chests of silver from Æthelstan in compensation.
Ultimately, Egill returns to his family farm in Iceland, where he remains a force to be reckoned with in local politics. He lives into his eighties, grows blind, and dies shortly before the Christianisation of Iceland. Before Egill dies he buries his silver near Mosfellsbær. In his last act of violence he kills the servants who help him bury his treasure.
When a Christian chapel is constructed at the family homestead, Egill's body is exhumed by his son and re-buried near the altar. According to the saga, the exhumed skull bone was hit with an axe, and it only turned white, showing the strength of the warrior, but also, according to one modern interpretations, suggesting the traits of Paget's disease.
According to Egils saga, Egill has five children with Ásgerðr Björnsdóttir: Þorgerðr Egilsdóttir, Bera Egilsdóttir, Böðvar Egilsson, Gunnar Egilsson and Þorsteinn Egilsson. In later years, Iceland's Mýrar clan claimed descent from him.
Apart from being a warrior of immense might in literary sources, Egill is also celebrated for his poetry, considered by many historians to be the finest of the ancient Scandinavian poetsand Sonatorrek , the dirge over his own sons, has been called "the birth of Nordic personal lyric poetry". His poems were also the first Old Norse verses to use end rhyme. The following works are attributed to Egill:
The following is one of Egill's Lausavísur (no. 3), found in chapter 40 of Egils Saga:
Egill was also a scholar of runes. His apparent mastery of their magic powers assisted him several times during his journeys. During a feast at Atla-isle, Bard's attempt to poison Egill failed when a rune carved by Egill shattered his poisoned cup.
At a companion's request, he examined a sick woman. A local land owner, after being denied her hand in marriage, had attempted to carve love-runes. Instead, he had mistakenly carved runes causing illness. Egill burned the offending runes and carved runes for health, and the woman recovered. He then sang a poem declaring that "Runes none should grave ever/Who knows not to read them."
As for the sick young woman, in addition to burning the runes, Egill ordered her to be lifted out of bed and her old bedding to be thrown away and replaced with new sheets. Recovery was swift.
Runes were also employed by Egill during the raising of the Nithing Pole against King Eirik Bloodaxe and Queen Gunnhildr.
The following nouns were used about people of mixed parentage:".."halftroll 'a half troll'. This is used as the nickname of Hallbjorn of Ramsta in Namdalen, father of Ketill hoengr, and ancestor of some of the settlers of Iceland, including Skalla-Grimr.
Eric Haraldsson, nicknamed Eric Bloodaxe, was a 10th-century Norwegian ruler. It is widely speculated that he had short-lived terms as King of Norway and twice as King of Northumbria.
Skald, or skáld, is generally a term used for poets who composed at the courts of Scandinavian leaders during the Viking Age, 793–1066 AD, and continuing into the Middle Ages. Skaldic poetry forms one of two main groupings of Old Norse poetry, the other being the anonymous Eddic poetry.
Egil's Saga or Egill's saga is an Icelandic saga on the lives of the clan of Egill Skallagrímsson, an Icelandic farmer, viking and skald. The saga spans the years c. 850–1000 and traces the family history from Egil's grandfather to his offspring.
Grímr Kveldúlfsson was a Norwegian who lived in the ninth and tenth centuries. He is an important character in Egils saga and is mentioned in the Landnámabók.
Old Norse literature refers to the vernacular literature of the Scandinavian peoples up to c. 1350. It chiefly consists of Icelandic writings.
Arinbjarnarkviða is a skaldic poem by Egill Skalla-Grímsson in praise of his friend Arinbjörn. The poem is preserved in Möðruvallabók but not in other manuscripts of Egils saga. Some lines are lost while others may be corrupted. The metre is kviðuháttr.
Einarr Helgason or Einarr skálaglamm was a 10th-century Icelandic skald. He was a court poet of Lord Hákon to whom he dedicated his magnum opus, the Vellekla. Einarr's added name skálaglamm means "Bowl tinkle" and refers to a set of balances and weights with divinatory powers, given to him by Hákon.
Jón korpur Hrafnsson son of Þuríður Sturludóttir and Hrafn Oddsson. His mother, Þuríður, was a direct descendant of Þóra Magnúsdóttir daughter of Magnus III of Norway a direct descendant of Harald Fairhair founder of the Fairhair dynasty the first royal dynasty of the united Norway, and a branch of the Ynglings. His father, Hrafn, on the other hand was a direct descendant of Skalla-Grímr father of skald and Viking Egill Skallagrímsson. With the birth of Jón korpur Hrafnsson the warring clans of the Fairhair dynasty and Skalla-Grímr were genetically united in Iceland.
Höfuðlausn or the "Head's Ransom" is a skaldic poem attributed to Egill Skalla-Grímsson in praise of king Eirik Bloodaxe.
Skúli Þórsteinsson was an 11th-century Icelandic poet and warrior. He was the grandson of Egill Skallagrímsson and a courtier of Jarl Eiríkr Hákonarson. A short account of his life is given at the end of Egils saga:
Sonatorrek is a skaldic poem in 25 stanzas by Egill Skallagrímsson. The work laments the death of two of the poet's sons, Gunnar, who died of a fever, and Böðvarr, who drowned during a storm. It is preserved in a few manuscripts of Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar, ch. 78. According to the saga, after Egill placed Böðvarr in the family burial mound, he locked himself in his bed-chamber, determined to starve himself to death. Egill’s daughter Thorgerd diverted him from this plan in part by convincing him to compose a memorial poem for Böðvarr, to be carved on a rune-staff.
A nithing pole, sometimes normalized as nithstang or nidstang, was a pole used for cursing an enemy in Germanic pagan tradition.
Thorolf Kveldulfsson was the oldest son of Kveldulf Bjalfasson and brother of the Norwegian/Icelandic goði and skald Skalla-Grimr. His ancestor Hallbjorn was nicknamed "halftroll", possibly indicating Norwegian-Sami ancestry.
Ulf Bjalfason was a renowned hersir and landowner in ninth century Sogn, Norway. He is a main character in the early chapters of Egils saga and appears in the Landnámabók and other Icelandic sources. Kveldulf is described as an ulfhéðinn, a shape-shifter (hamrammr), or a berserker.
Gunnhildr konungamóðir or Gunnhildr Gormsdóttir, whose name is often Anglicised as Gunnhild is a quasi-historical figure who appears in the Icelandic Sagas, according to which she was the wife of Eric Bloodaxe. She appears prominently in sagas such as Fagrskinna, Egils saga, Njáls saga, and Heimskringla.
Olvir Hnufa or Ölvir hnúfa was a Norwegian commander in a clan and poet of the late ninth and early tenth centuries, known from, among other sources, Egil's Saga, Skaldatal and the Prose Edda. Olvir was the son of the viking Berle-Kari and brother-in-law of Kveldulf Bjalfason, who married Olvir's sister Salbjorg Karadottir; he was thus uncle to Skallagrim and Thorolf Kveldulfsson and great uncle to the famous poet Egil Skallagrimsson. Olvir also had a brother named Eyvind Lambi. Olvir was a prominent member of the court of King Harald Fairhair, who united Norway under his rule in the late ninth or early tenth century. Among other famous poets, he served as one of King Harald's court poets. He also served as a warrior in Harald's retinue, and fought at the pivotal Battle of Hafrsfjord on the king's flagship. He is best known for his involvement in the conflict between Harald and Olvir's kinsman Thorolf Kveldulfsson, which ended with the latter's death. Only a few fragments of Olvir's poetry survive.
Berle-Kari was a viking chieftain who lived in ninth-century Norway. His home was at Berle, in present-day Bremanger in Sogn og Fjordane county. Landnámabók names him as the son of Vemund, and brother of Skjoldolf, one of the early settlers of Iceland.
Eyvind Lambi or Eyvind Lamb was a Norwegian Viking and hersir of the late ninth and early tenth centuries, known from, among other sources, Egils saga. Eyvind was the son of the Viking Berle-Kari and brother-in-law of Kveldulf Bjalfason, who married Eyvind's sister Salbjorg Karadottir; he was thus uncle to Skalla-Grímr and Thorolf Kveldulfsson and great uncle to the famous poet Egill Skallagrímsson. Eyvind also had a brother named Olvir Hnufa, who became a famous skald at the court of King Harald I of Norway.
Borg á Mýrum is a settlement due west of Borgarnes township in Iceland. Its recorded history reaches back to the settlement of Iceland. One of the country's original settlers was Skallagrímur Kveldúlfsson (Skalla-Grímr), who claimed the area around Borg as his land, built a farm and made his home there. His son Egill Skallagrímsson then continued to live and farm at Borg á Mýrum.
Egil or Egill is a masculine given name derived from Old Norse. It may refer to:
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