Vikings Of The Round Table: Kingship in The Islendingasögur and the Riddarasögur
- Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Volume 47, 2016
- pp. 69-101
- Additional Information
Arthurian literature had an enthusiastic reception in Scandinavia. The Norwegian King Hákon Hákonarson (1217–1263) commissioned translations of Brother Thomas’ Tristan legend and Chrétien de Troyes’s romances as a form of entertainment in order to emulate the Angevin courts of Henry III; these translations articulate a relationship between the Norwegian court and the English courts. The majority of the surviving Scandinavian manuscripts, however, were translated or copied in Iceland by Icelanders who did not have kings or courts. Reading Arthurian Icelandic texts such as Ívens saga (1226) and Möttuls saga (ca. 1250) against Icelandic family sagas such as Egils saga (ca. 1220–1240) and Laxardal saga (ca. 1220–1240) reveals that Icelandic Arthurian texts express a preference for the knights that travel as opposed to the kings. Icelandic Arthurian texts are distinct from their French counterpart by the addition of Viking customs, such as gift-giving, and by the different ideologies that engendered the texts. The Icelandic Saga af Tristram ok Ísodd, for example, innovates a Spanish Tristan, marking Scandinavian Arthurian literature as transcultural, and distancing the story from English and French versions of the tale.