Saga Brief 15 – Ivar the Boneless

Alex Anderson as Ivar the Boneless in Vikings
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In this episode, we tackle the life of Ragnar’s fiercest and most complex son, Ivar the Boneless. We begin with an investigation into Ivar’s birth and enigmatic nickname. From there we trace the path of his illustrious military career. Our journey will take us from Denmark to Ireland, where Ivar conquers Dublin and goes head to head with the High King of Ireland, Mael Sechnaill. From Dublin, we’ll follow Ivar to Anglo-Saxon England with the Great Heathen Army. There Ivar and company topple kingdom after kingdom with ruthless efficiency. Join us as we dive deep into the medieval chronicles, legends, and tales to uncover the stories behind Vikings’ most compelling character, Ivar the Boneless, King of the Vikings in Ireland and Britain.

Previous Vikings Related Episode Links:

Saga Thing 7: The Saga of Ragnar Loðbrok and His Sons

Saga Brief 1: The Blood-Eagle

Saga Brief 3: Krákumál

Saga Brief 5: The Story of Rollo the Viking

Saga Brief 11: The Lesser Ragnarssons

Interested in learning more about Mael Sechnaill and the Irish side of the Viking invasions? Check out this episode of the Irish History Podcast – Vikings in 9th century Ireland.

Select Bibliography for this Episode:

Æthelweard. Chronicon Æthelweardi. Edited and Translated by Alistair Campbell. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Translated by Michael Swanton. New York: Routledge, 1998.

The Annals of Ulster. Edited and Translated by Pádraig Bambury and Stephen Beechinor. Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition. Cork: Ireland, 2000.

Asser, John. Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources. Edited and Translated by Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.

Brink, Stefan and Neil Price. The Viking World. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Clarke, Howard B. and Ruth Johnson. The Vikings in Ireland and Beyond: Before and After the Battle of Clontarf. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press, 2015.

Crawford, B. E. Scandinavian Scotland. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1987.

Downham, Clare. Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ívarr to A.D. 1014. Edinburgh: Dunedin, 2007.

Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. Edited and Translated by Joan Newlon Radner. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.

Jones, Gwynn. A History of the Vikings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

McTurk, Rory. Studies in Ragnars Saga Loðbrokar and its Major Scandinavian Analogues. Medium Ævum Monographs. New Series XV. Exeter: Short Run Press,  1991.

Saxo Grammaticus. The History of the Danes. Edited and Translated by Peter Fisher and H. R. Ellis Davidson. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1996.

Smyth, Alfred P. Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles, 850-880. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Stenton, Frank M. Anglo-Saxon England. 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Valante, Mary A. The Vikings in Ireland: Settlement, Trade, and Urbanization. Portland, OR: Four Courts Press, 2008.

Waggoner, Ben. The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok. New Haven, CT: 2009.

Episode Credits:

Intro – VioDance cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray with Hardanger Violin

Closing Music – Logan Kendell’s folk cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray. To purchase a copy of the song, visit Logan Kendell’s bandcamp page. Be sure to check out his other music while you’re there. As a big fan of outlaws, I recommend his cover of “Not in Nottingham” from Disney’s Robin Hood

Saga Brief 11 – The Lesser Ragnarssons

Ragnarssons (children)

Before we get back to the sagas of the Icelanders, we’re pausing once again to provide you with some of the more interesting history and stories behind the History Channel’s Vikings.

We’ve got two lengthy Saga Briefs for you chock full of Vikings goodness ripped straight from the medieval sources that inform the show. We’ve already covered The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, his death poem, Rollo and the Vikings in Paris, and the mythology surrounding the blood-eagle.

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This time around we’ve got our eyes on the Ragnarssons. As you’ll learn, there are a lot of them. So many, in fact, that we don’t even get to your favorites in this episode. That’s right, you’ll have to wait until next time to hear all about Ivar the Boneless, Ubbe, Bjorn, and Hvitserk. But never fear, there’s plenty here to keep you entertained. Learn all about the origins of Sigurd’s Snake-in-the-Eye. Discover the daring deed of Rognvald Ragnarsson. Ooh and aah over Ulvi’s brief moment in the sun. Hear all about Hastein Ragnarsson, one of Ragnar’s greatest and most trusted sons. And then there’s Eirik and Agnar, Fridleif, Radbard, Dunwat, and even a few daughters to consider. There’s also a good bit in here about Lagertha.

We hope you enjoy!

Credits:

Intro – VioDance cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray with Hardanger Violin

Closing Music – Logan Kendell’s folk cover of “If I Had A Heart” by Fever Ray. To purchase a copy of the song, visit Logan Kendell’s bandcamp page. Be sure to check out his other music while you’re there. I highly recommend his cover of Cruzados’ “La Flor de Mal.”

Episode 14b – The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal (Part 2)

Ingolf and the Outlaws

Join us for the second half of the epic tale of the Vatnsdal chieftains and their family over six generations. In this episode, we clumsily attempt to trace the final three generations of this remarkable family.  We’ve crammed a lot into this episode and we barely scratch the surface.

We pick up the story with the seven children of Ingimund Thorsteinsson (led by the bickering brothers Thorstein and Jokul) as they seek revenge against their father’s killer and begin a career as luck-favored witch-killers. Along the way, they encounter a particularly impressive villain named Thorolf Sledgehammer and his clowder of ornery cats.  With the district safe from evil-doers, the saga shifts to the next generation.

This section begins with the sons of Thorstein Ingimundarson, Ingolf and some other guy.  Ingolf Thorsteinsson is the important one.  He’s the handsome Don Juan of Iceland who melts hearts and enrages menfolk across the north of Iceland. Ingolf may be a bit narcissistic, but he backs up his boasts with impressive feats of derring-do (see picture above, and note the rock strapped to his chest).

The final generation is represented by Thorkel Scratcher, who we discussed briefly in Hallfred’s Saga Troublesome-poet.  Despite his humble origins as an illegitimate son abandoned to the elements as an infant, Thorkel Scratcher rises to become one of the great figures of Iceland. But great men often have jealous enemies…

This episode is filled to bursting with berserkers, half-giants, demonic pumas, missionaries, witches, outlaws, legendary swords, legendary lovers, and the occasional bloodbath. How does one man with twenty enormous black cats keep the litterbox clean? What are the three tests of a chieftain hero? Can one man singlehandedly take out eighteen bandits if he has big enough stones? Is there room for two berserkers in a single family? And can a Norwegian companion ever survive a saga battle?

Listen in and find out!

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In honor of the many Norwegian companions who have fallen in the name of saga violence, we’ve created a special shirt in our Saga Thing store.  Get one for your own Norwegian companion.

  Norwegian Companion ~ 317    ~ 2206

And grab a coffee mug for yourself while you’re at it.  All that and more, available here: Saga Thing store.

Saga Brief 3: Krákumál

Krákumál is an autobiographical poem of the legendary Viking hero Ragnar Loðbrók, composed and spoken while Ragnar awaits his death in the snakepit of King Ælla.  We discuss the content and form of the poem, compare it to the Saga of Ragnar Loðbrók and His Sons, and examine the place of the History Channel’s Vikings in the literary tradition of this legendary figure.  There’s also some discussion of kennings, quirks of early modern scholarship, and the evolution of literary fads throughout history.  We also tackle the question “Unicorns: Fact or Fiction?” in a nearly serious manner.Ragnar_Lodbroks_d%C3%B6d_by_Hugo_Hamilto

Download this episode (right click and save)

Go to vikingnorse.com for more information about Jesse Byock’s Viking Language series, or just click the links below the images to purchase a copy through Amazon.

Viking LanguageViking Norse 2

Viking Language 1 Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic Sagas (Viking Language Series)

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader (Viking Language Series) (Volume 2)

Click Krakumal Translations to read a .pdf of the verses covered in this episode.

If you’d like to have your very own copy of Krákumál, pick up a copy of Ben Waggoner’s The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok

And to prove the poem’s lasting popularity, check out this performance of Peder Syv’s (1631-1702) adaptation of the 12th century Krákumál from Velbastað on the Faroe Islands in 1959 (at least that’s what the tag on the YouTube video says).  Now that’s an impressive journey through the ages.