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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Einarr Skúlason (biog. vol. 2), Geisli, 28 [Vol. 7, 29-30]

[5] á Hlýrskógsheiði ‘at Lyrskovshede’: The name of the battle, fought by Magnús the Good against the Wends on a heath in Southern Jutland between Hedeby and Ribe on 28 September 1043. The Wends were a Slavic tribe who raided and colonised along the southern coast of the Baltic. According to Adam of Bremen, the Wends attacked Denmark to avenge the killing of their chief, Ratibor, by the Danes. Magnús led an army of his own men joined with a Danish force to a great victory: 15,000 Wends were killed, according to Adam, and Heimskringla reports that it was the greatest carnage seen in the North in Christian times (Gesta, II.lxxix in Schmeidler 1917, 136-8; Hkr, ÍF 28, 43-5). Although Adam identifies Ratibor as being Christian, most Wends were not, and battles with the Wends were often regarded as campaigns against paganism. Danes and Saxons fought a series of battles with the Wends in the century following, and they were not subjugated and forcibly converted before 1169 (Helle 2003, 423). Snorri (Hkr, ÍF 28, 43-4) associates Arn Magndr 10II and ÞjóðA Magnfl 7II with this battle, although neither skald mentions the name of the place.

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