Sturlunga saga

Manuscript AM 122 a fol. Sturlunga saga (University of Iceland).

Sturlunga saga (often called simply Sturlunga) is a collection of Icelandic sagas by various authors from the 12th and 13th centuries; it was assembled in about 1300. It mostly deals with the story of the Sturlungs, a powerful family clan during the Age of the Sturlungs period of the Icelandic Commonwealth.

Sturlunga saga covers the history of Iceland between 1117 and 1264.[1] It begins with Geirmundar √ĺ√°ttr heljarskinns, the legend of Geirmundr heljarskinn, a regional ruler in late 9th-century Norway, who moves to Iceland to escape the growing power of King Harald Finehair.[2] The more historical sagas commence in 1117 with √ěorgils saga ok Hafli√įa. Other sagas included in the collection are Sturlu saga, Prestssaga Gu√įmundar Arasonar, Gu√įmundar saga biskups, Hrafns saga Sveinbjarnarsonar, √ě√≥r√įar saga kakala, Sv√≠nfellinga saga and √ćslendinga saga, composed by Sturla √ě√≥r√įarson, which constitutes almost half of the compilation and covers the period 1183‚Äď1264.[1] The compiler assembled the components in chronological order, added √ĺ√¶ttir including Geirmundar √ĺ√°ttr and Haukd√¶la √ĺ√°ttr and genealogies, and endeavoured to combine them into a single work, usually replacing the beginning and the ending with a linking passage.[3] In some cases he broke up sagas to achieve chronological order.[1][4] The compilation is often thought of as constituting a genre of sagas, the samt√≠√įars√∂gur or 'contemporary sagas'.

Sturlunga saga is the main source of Icelandic history during the 12th and 13th centuries and was written by people who experienced the internal power struggle which ended in Iceland's loss of sovereignty and submission to Norway in 1262‚Äď64; the descriptions of wounds in √ćslendinga saga are so detailed that they may be based on eyewitness accounts used in compensation claims.[5] It is also indispensable for the details of social history which it contains.[1] Indirect evidence suggests that it was compiled by √ě√≥r√įr Narfason (d. 1308),[6] who may also have written Geirmundar √ĺ√°ttr and Haukd√¶la √ĺ√°ttr and possibly also Sturlu √ĺ√°ttr.[1]

The work is preserved in somewhat differing versions in two defective Western Icelandic parchments dating to the second half of the 14th century, the Kr√≥ksfjar√įarb√≥k and the Reykjafjar√įarb√≥k (AM 122 a fol. and AM 122 b fol.),[2] and in 17th-century paper manuscripts derived from these. The former also contains material from H√°konar saga H√°konarsonar; the latter contains interpolations from √ěorgils saga Skar√įa and also contains Sturlu √ĺ√°ttr and two sagas which are not usually counted as part of Sturlunga saga, Jartegna saga Gu√įmundar biskups and Arna saga biskups.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Sturlunga saga", Rudolf Simek and Hermann P√°lsson, Lexikon der altnordischen Literatur, Kr√∂ners Taschenausgabe 490, Stuttgart: Kr√∂ner, 1987, ISBN 9783520490018, pp. 339‚Äď41 (in German)
  2. ^ a b Jan de Vries, Altnordische Literaturgeschichte, Volume 2 Die Literatur von etwa 1150 bis 1300; die Spätzeit nach 1300, Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 16, 2nd ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1967, OCLC 270854789, p. 308 (in German)
  3. ^ a b Sverrir T√≥masson, "Old Icelandic Prose", in A History of Icelandic Literature, ed. Daisy Neijmann, Histories of Scandinavian Literature 5, Lincoln, Nebraska / London: University of Nebraska, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8032-3346-1, pp. 64‚Äď173, 84‚Äď85.
  4. ^ For details of all the components, see de Vries, pp. 308‚Äď13.
  5. ^ Sverrir, p. 85.
  6. ^ de Vries, p. 313.

Further reading

  • Peder Erasmus Kristian Kaalund, ed. Sturlunga saga efter Membranen Kr√≥ksfjar√įarb√≥k udfyldt efter Reykjarfjar√įarb√≥k. Kongelige Nordiske oldskriftselskab. 2 vols. Copenhagen/Kristiania: Gyldendal, 1906, 1911. OCLC 812627729 (in Danish)
  • J√≥n J√≥hannesson, Magn√ļs Finnbogason and Kristj√°n Eldj√°rn, eds. Sturlunga saga. 2 vols. Rejkjav√≠k: Sturlungu√ļtg√°fan, 1946. OCLC 8056161 (in Icelandic)
  • Sturlunga Saga. Tr. Julia H. McGrew. 2 vols. The Library of Scandinavian Literature, The American-Scandinavian Foundation. 9‚Äď10. New York: Twayne, 1970‚Äď74. ISBN 9780805733655.
  • Stephen Norman Tranter. Sturlunga saga: The r√īle of the Creative Compiler. Doctoral dissertation, University of Freiburg, 1985. Europ√§ische Hochschulschriften Reihe I, Deutsche Sprache und Literatur, 941. Frankfurt/New York: Lang, 1987. ISBN 9783820495027.
  • Lois Bragg. "Generational tensions in 'Sturlunga saga'". Arkiv f√∂r nordisk filologi NS 112 (1997) 5‚Äď35.
  • Gu√įr√ļn Nordal. "To Dream or Not to Dream: A Question of Method". in: The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature: Sagas and the British Isles. Ed. John McKinnell, David Ashurst and Donata Kick. Durham: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University, 2006. ISBN 9780955333507. pp. 304‚Äď13.

External links