Morkinskinna

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Ármann Jakobsson (University of Iceland)
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Morkinskinna

is one of the largest Icelandic king’s sagas, narrating the history of Norway from c. 1035 to c. 1157. It is the oldest of three large kings’ sagas composed in the 1220s that combine biographies of several kings, a large number of skaldic verse and an intricate structure with a large cast of characters. Uniquely among the three,

Morkinskinna

focuses on particular on Icelanders as the subjects of the kings of Norway, with several short anecdotes (often called

þættir

) that illustrate the pitfalls and advantages of the relations between kings and their subjects.

Morkinskinna was long among the most underestimated of kings’ sagas, regarded as a mere repository of older and more significant texts. The name derives from its oldest manuscript (from c. 1280) which in the 17th

906 words

Citation: Jakobsson, Ármann. "Morkinskinna". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 September 2022 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19643, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19643 Morkinskinna 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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