Thorgil Sprakling

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Thorgil Sprakling (also called Torkel, Torgils or Sprakalägg) was a Danish chieftain (stormand). [1] His grandsons became kings of Denmark and England. [2]

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Contents

Ancestry and background

Little is recorded about Thorgil in historical texts: most of what appears is in reference to his children, two of whom were parents of kings. Thorgil's cognomen Sprakalägg can be translated into English as "Strut-leg". In the Icelandic Knýtlinga saga he is also called "the fast". In the 11th century, English historian John of Worcester provided a pedigree for earl Beorn Estrithson that made his grandfather 'Spraclingus' a son of 'Ursius' (i.e. urso, Latin for bear or Bjørn in Danish, Björn in Swedish). [3]

A cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within a family or family within a clan. The term has also taken on other contemporary meanings.

Knýtlinga saga is an Icelandic kings' saga written in the 1250s, which deals with the kings who ruled Denmark since the early 10th century.

John of Worcester English monk and chronicler

John of Worcester was an English monk and chronicler who worked at Worcester Priory. He is usually held to be the author of the Chronicon ex chronicis.

Two 13th-century writers relate folklore that derives Thorgil from the mating of a bear with a noblewoman. Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus recorded that the son born to such a union was 'named after his father' (i.e. called 'bear' - Ursius/Björn) and in turn became father of 'Thrugillus, called Sprageleg'. The Gesta Antecessorum Comitis Waldevi copies John of Worcester's pedigree but makes the Ursius, father of 'Spratlingus', an actual white bear. The 14th-century chronicle sometimes attributed to John Brompton tells a very similar tale relating to the birth of Björn, called Boresune (bear's-son), father of Siward, Earl of Northumbria, and this may represent the original form of the longer, chronologically impossible pedigree of Siward found in the Gesta that erroneously identifies Björn Boresune with Thorgil's grandson, Beorn Estrithson. It has been suggested that the role of a bear in their immediate ancestry may represent a tradition shared by relatives rather than that two independent families at about the same time both co-opted the same ancient Norwegian legend for their immediate ancestry - that Björn Boresune and Thorgil may have been brothers. [4]

Saxo Grammaticus 12th/13th-century Danish historian

Saxo Grammaticus, also known as Saxo cognomine Longus, was a Danish historian, theologian and author. He is thought to have been a clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, the main advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the Gesta Danorum, the first full history of Denmark, from which the legend of Amleth would come to inspire the story of Hamlet by Shakespeare.

John Brompton or Bromton was a supposed English chronicler.

Siward, Earl of Northumbria 11th-century Earl of Northumbria in England

Siward or Sigurd was an important earl of 11th-century northern England. The Old Norse nickname Digri and its Latin translation Grossus are given to him by near-contemporary texts. Siward was probably of Scandinavian origin, perhaps a relative of Earl Ulf, and emerged as a powerful regional strongman in England during the reign of Cnut. Cnut was a Scandinavian ruler who conquered England in the 1010s, and Siward was one of the many Scandinavians who came to England in the aftermath of that conquest. Siward subsequently rose to become sub-ruler of most of northern England. From 1033 at the latest Siward was in control of southern Northumbria, that is, present-day Yorkshire, governing as earl on Cnut's behalf.

In the 18th century, Danish historian Jakob Langebek suggested this bear story was allegorical, and that the brutish 'Wild' Björn, father of Thorgil, was a reference to Jomsviking brigand leader Styrbjörn the Strong (Styrbjörn Starke), [5] [6] depicted by sagas as the son of Olaf Björnsson, king of Sweden. [5] [6] [7] Styrbjörn's wife in the sagas is stated to have been Tyra of Denmark, the daughter of Harold Bluetooth, king of Denmark and Norway. [5] [6] [8] No primary source supports this royal ancestry for Thorgil, a connection almost impossible to maintain because of the chronological inconsistencies. [ citation needed ] Thorgil is believed to have died circa 1009.[ citation needed ]

Jakob Langebek Danish historian

Jakob Langebek was a Danish historian

Allegory figure of speech

As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory has occurred widely throughout history in all forms of art, largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.

Jomsvikings

The Jomsvikings were an order of Viking mercenaries or brigands of the 10th century and 11th century. They were staunchly Pagan and dedicated to the worship of such deities as Odin and Thor. They reputedly would fight for any lord able to pay their substantial fees and occasionally fought alongside Christian rulers. Although they were Pagan, the institutions of the Jomsvikings in some ways anticipated those of the Christian Knightly Orders of the later Middle Ages.

Children

Cnut the Great 10th and 11th-century King of Denmark, Norway, and England

Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard, was King of Denmark, England and Norway; together often referred to as the North Sea Empire. Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, this legacy was lost. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour.

Sweyn II of Denmark Danish king

Sweyn II Estridsson was King of Denmark from 1047 until his death in 1076. He was the son of Ulf Thorgilsson and Estrid Svendsdatter, and the grandson of King Sweyn I Forkbeard through his mother's line. He was married three times, and fathered 20 children or more out of wedlock, including the five future kings Harald III Hen, Canute IV the Saint, Oluf I Hunger, Eric I Evergood, and Niels.

Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, also called Githa, was a Danish noblewoman. She was the mother of King Harold Godwinson and of Edith of Wessex, queen consort of King Edward the Confessor of England.

Related Research Articles

Godwin of Wessex was one of the most powerful earls in England under the Danish king Cnut the Great and his successors. Cnut made him the first Earl of Wessex. Godwin was the father of King Harold Godwinson and Edith of Wessex, wife of King Edward the Confessor.

Ragnar Lodbrok legendary Norse ruler and hero from the Viking Age

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok was a historically dubious Norse Viking hero and legendary king of Denmark and Sweden, known from Viking Age Old Norse poetry and sagas. According to that traditional literature, Ragnar distinguished himself by many raids against Francia and Anglo-Saxon England during the 9th century. There is no known evidence to substantiate that he actually existed under this name and outside of the mythology associated with him. According to the Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Ragnar was the son of the Swedish king Sigurd Hring.

Bödvar Bjarki, meaning 'Warlike Little-Bear', is the hero appearing in tales of Hrólf Kraki in the Saga of Hrólf Kraki, in the Latin epitome to the lost Skjöldunga saga, and as Biarco in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum.

Yngling mythological Swedish royal dinasty

The Ynglings were the oldest known Scandinavian dynasty, originating from Sweden. It can refer to the clans of the Scylfings, the semi-legendary royal Swedish clan during the Age of Migrations, with kings such as Eadgils, Onela and Ohthere. When Beowulf and Ynglingatal were composed sometime in the eighth to tenth centuries, the respective scop and skald (poet) expected his audience to have a great deal of background information about these kings, which is shown in the allusiveness of the references.

Various gods and men appear as Sons of Odin or Sons of Wodan/Wotan or Sons of Woden in old Old Norse and Old High German and Old English texts.

Björn was the father of Olof (II) Björnsson and Eric the Victorious, and he was the grandfather of Styrbjörn the Strong, according to the Hervarar saga and Harald Fairhair's saga. According to the two sagas, he was the son of an Erik who fought Harald Fairhair and who succeeded the brothers Björn at Hauge and Anund Uppsale:

Alaric and Eric mythological Swedish kings

Alaric and Eric, were two legendary kings of Sweden.

Olof Björnsson was a semi-legendary Swedish king who was referenced in several Old Norse Sagas including Hervarar saga, Saga of Harald Fairhair and the Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa.

Styrbjörn the Strong Nordic pretender

Styrbjörn the Strong according to late Norse sagas was a son of the Swedish king Olof, and a nephew of Olof's co-ruler and successor Eric the Victorious, who defeated and killed Styrbjörn at the Battle of Fyrisvellir. As with many figures in the sagas, doubts have been cast on his existence, but he is mentioned in a roughly contemporary skaldic poem about the battle. According to legend, his original name was Björn, and Styr-, which was added when he had grown up, was an epithet meaning that he was restless, controversially forceful and violent.

Raum the Old is a legendary king in Norway in the Hversu Noregr byggdist and in Thorsteins saga Víkingssonar. He was said to have been ugly, as was his daughter, Bryngerd, who was married to King Álf. Indeed, in Old Norse, raumr means a big and ugly person.

Torgny the Lawspeaker fictional character

Torgny the Lawspeaker is the name of one of at least three generations of lawspeakers by the name Þorgnýr, who appear in the Heimskringla by the Icelandic scholar and chieftain Snorri Sturluson, and in the less known Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa and Hróa þáttr heimska. They were the lawspeakers of Tiundaland, and all lawspeakers in the Swedish kingdom were their subordinates.

Ulf the Earl Danish nobleman

Ulf was a Danish earl (jarl) and regent of Denmark. Ulf was the father of King Sweyn II of Denmark and thus the progenitor of the House of Estridsen, which would rule Denmark from 1047 to 1375, which was also sometimes, specially in Swedish sources, referred to as the Ulfinger dynasty to honor him.

Estrid Svendsdatter of Denmark, was a Danish princess and titular Queen, a Russian princess and, possibly, Duchess of Normandy by marriage. She was the daughter of Sweyn Forkbeard and perhaps Gunhild of Wenden and sister of Cnut the Great. By Ulf Jarl, she was the mother of the later King Sweyn II Estridson and Beorn Estrithson. The dynasty that ruled Denmark in 1047–1412 was named after her. She was known in Denmark as Dronning Estrid, despite the fact that she was not married to a King and not a queen regnant.

Ancestry of the Godwins Ancestry of a noble family

Very little is known for certain of the ancestry of the Godwins, the family of the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, Harold II. When King Edward the Confessor died in January 1066 his closest relative was his great-nephew, Edgar the Ætheling, but he was young and lacked powerful supporters. Harold was the head of the most powerful family in England and Edward's brother-in-law, and he became king. In September 1066 Harold defeated and killed King Harald Hardrada of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and Harold was himself defeated and killed the following month by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

A number of royal genealogies of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, collectively referred to as the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies, have been preserved in a manuscript tradition based in the 8th to 10th centuries.

Beorn Estrithson was the son of Jarl Ulf and Estrid Svendsdatter, sister of Cnut the Great.

References

  1. Lawætz, Peter "Danske vikingekonger – én slægt med mange grene" April 2011
  2. Lawætz, Peter (April 2011). "Ulf jarls herkomst". vikingekonger.dk. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  3. Arthur, Ross G. "Bjorn - Bear" (PDF). English-Old Norse Dictionary. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  4. Timothy Bolton (2007), "Was the Family of Earl Siward and Earl Waltheof a Lost Line of the Ancestors of the Danish Royal Family", Nottingham Medieval Studies, 51:41-71
  5. 1 2 3 Jacob Langebek (1774), Scriptores Rerum Danicarum Medii Ævi, vol. 3, pp. 281-282
  6. 1 2 3 P. A. Munch (1853), Det Norske Folks Historie, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 101
  7. Searle, W.G. (1899) archive.org Anglo-Saxon Bishops, Kings, and Nobles: The Succession of the Bishops and the Pedigrees of the Kings and Nobles (London: Cambridge University Press. pp.355).
  8. "Styrbjörn Starke". Nordisk familjebok. 1918. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  9. "Ulf". Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. Retrieved April 1, 2016.