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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Flateyjarbók (Flat) - 1099

Flateyjarbók (Flat)

Skaldic vol. 1; ed. Diana Whaley

verse introduction manuscripts contents

Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 > 8. Volume Introduction > 3. Sources for skaldic poetry cited in the kings’ sagas: manuscripts, facsimiles and editions > 3.1. Sagas of the kings of Norway to c. 1035 > 3. Flateyjarbók (Flat)


Flat:      Flateyjarbók, GKS 1005 fol (Icelandic, mainly c. 1387-95). Three additional quires (188r-210r) comprise the ‘Younger Flateyjarbók’ (YFlat; see SkP II, lx)

325IV b and 325XI 3: AM 325 IV b 4°, AM 325 XI 3 4°; fragments of the archetype of YFlat (c. 1350-1400). AM 325IV b contains no poetry and 325XI 3 contains poetry edited in SkP II (see p. lx).

Facsimile and editions: Flat 1930; Flat 1860-8, I-III, Louis-Jensen 1970b (fragments).

Flateyjarbók ‘Book of Flatey’ is the name given both to an important compilation and to its ms., a large, magnificently illustrated and well-preserved vellum codex, now consisting of 225 leaves. Most of the codex was written in the late fourteenth century by the priests Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Þorhallsson for Jón Hákonarson of Víðidalstunga in northern Iceland. Flatey was the home of its owner in the mid seventeenth century.

Flat as a compilation draws on an estimated forty to fifty mss (see Rowe 2005 on its genesis). The first phase of writing, done by Jón Þórðarson, consisted of Eiríks saga víðfǫrla, ÓT and ÓH. The latter two are in versions that are greatly expanded relative to other recensions by weaving in sections from other texts, some of which are also extant in other versions (e.g. Færeyinga saga (Fær), Jvs, Hallfreðar saga (Hallfr), Fóstbræðra saga (Fbr)), but many of which are þættir found nowhere else. The second phase of copying was carried out by Magnús Þorhallsson, who added Sverris saga, Hákonar saga gamla, þættir and other short texts, poetry both skaldic and non-skaldic, and annals. Important for the present volume are the articuli or short extracts from the lost saga of S. Óláfr, Lífssaga hins heilaga Óláfs konungs Haraldssonar by Styrmir Kárason (also known as Lífssaga Óláfs helga; Flat 1860-8, III, 239-48; ÓH 1941, II, 683-95). To several of the articuli there are parallel texts in mss Tóm and Bæb (ÓH 1941, II, 695-713); see also Sigurður Nordal (1914, 69-133) for a reconstruction of Styrmir’s Lífssaga. A third, much later phase (late fifteenth century) involved the insertion into Flat of twenty-three leaves containing Magnúss saga góða ok Haralds harðráða, the chronological continuation of ÓH. On the use of the paper mss BLAdd 4867ˣ (4867ˣ) and AM 563a 4to (563aˣ) for the text of Þorleifs þáttr jarlaskálds (ÞorlJ), see below.


Flateyjarbók has well over a thousand stanzas, but the majority are also found elsewhere, and the texts tend to be somewhat garbled, especially those copied by Jón Þórðarson (Rowe 2005, 36 n. 4). The principal text-critical significance of this ms. therefore lies in the poetry unique to it, above all Nóregs konungatal (see SkP II, 761-808), a twelfth-century poem of seventy-five stanzas written out in full. . The codex also uniquely attests to over thirty stanzas relating to the period to 1035 and edited in this volume. Most are cited in its unique þættir: Sigurðar þáttr slefu (SSlef): Þklypp Lv; Þorleifs þáttr jarlaskálds (ÞorlJ): Þjsk Sveindr, Þjsk Jarl, Þjsk Lv 5-6, Svtjúg Lv, Hhal Lv; Haralds þáttr hárfagra (HarHárf): Þjóð Har 1-4, Þhorn Gldr 9, Þhorn Harkv 13; Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa (Styrb): Anon (Styrb) 1-3, ÞHjalt Lv 1-2; Eindriða þáttr ok Erlings (EindrErl): Eindr Lv. Other þættir contain numerous stanzas that are recorded elsewhere, including Stefnis þáttr Þorgilssonar (Stefn): Anon (ÓT) 1; Helga þáttr Þórissonar (Helg): ÓTr Lv 2; Þormóðar þáttr Kolbrúnarskálds (Þorm): Þorm Lv 10-11, 15-16; and Vǫlsa þáttr (Vǫlsa): Anon (Vǫlsa) 1-13, Þorm Lv 17 = Anon (Vǫlsa) 11. Further, the Styrmir extracts contain twenty-four stanzas including Anon Liðs 1-10 as an uninterrupted sequence and five stanzas attributed to Óláfr helgi; Ólhelg Lv 4 and 9 are preserved only there. The Flat compilers also inserted Sigv ErfÓl 2 into their text of ÓH and Þrándr Kredda into Fær. On the poetry relating to events after c. 1035, see SkP II, lx, and further poetry from Flat will appear in SkP IV, V and VIII.

Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 4. Sources for Skaldic Poetry Cited in the Kings' Sagas > 1. Sagas of the kings of Norway after 1035 > 3. Flateyjarbók (Flat)


Flat:         Flateyjarbók, GKS 1005 fol (Icelandic, mainly c. 1387-95). Additions: Three quires (188r-210r) comprise the ‘Younger Flateyjarbók’ (YFlat; Mgóð to Ólkyrr (c. 1450-1500), copied from a sister ms. of Mork).
325IVβ and 325XI 3: AM 325 IV β 4°, AM 325 XI 3 4°; fragments of the archetype of YFlat (c. 1350-1400). AM 325IVβ contains no poetry.

Facsimile and editions: Flat 1930; Flat 1860-8, II-III, Louis-Jensen 1970b (fragments).


Of the sagas relevant to SkP II, Flat contains Sv, Hák, parts of Orkn and MH. Many of the þættir found in MHMork (and in MgóðH-Hr and HSigH-Hr) are also recorded in Flat, among them an expanded version of Snegl. The poetry (and prose) in YFlat (MH) corresponds closely to the poetry in the extant portions of MHMork, hence Flat can be used to reconstruct the content of MHMork where Mork has lacunae. In addition to the poetry in the aforementioned sagas, Flat also contains (as the only manuscript) Anon Nkt. Sigv Berv 7-17 are also recorded in 325XI 3.

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