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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300

2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries

a. Erlingr skakki Kyrpinga-Ormsson (KEG)
b. Grégóríus Dagsson (KEG)
c. Jón Loptsson (KEG)
d. Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason (KEG)
e. Rǫgnvaldr Kali Kolsson (KEG)
f. Skúli Bárðarson (KEG)
g. Úlfr stallari Óspaksson (Úlfr) (KEG)
h. Víðkunnr Jónsson (KEG)
i. Waltheof (Valþjófr) of Huntingdon and Northumbria (KEG)
j. Þorfinnr Sigurðarson (KEG)

(Vol. II. Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: from c. 1035 to c. 1300 > 8. Introduction > 5. Biographies > 2. Biographies of Other Dignitaries > j. Þorfinnr Sigurðarson)

j. Þorfinnr Sigurðarson (KEG)

Sagas: Orkn, ÓH, MH, Mgóð (Flat, H-Hr, Hkr, Mork).

Þorfinnr was the son of Jarl Sigurðr Hlǫðvisson of Orkney (d. 1014; see Genealogies I in ÍF 34 and VI in ÍF 28) and an unnamed daughter of Malcolm of Scotland. He was married to Ingibjǫrg, the daughter of the Norwegian Finnr Árnason (see Genealogy VIII in ÍF 28). Þorfinnr was fostered by his maternal grandfather, from whom he received the earldom of Caithness in 1014. After the death of his half-brother, Sumarliði (before 1018), he ruled Orkney with his two half-brothers, Einarr rangmunnr ‘Wry-mouth’ (d. 1020) and Brúsi (d. 1034), but their reign was marred by internal discord. When Brúsi died in 1034, Þorfinnr reigned jointly with his nephew, Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason (c. 1036-45/46), until Rǫgnvaldr was killed by Þorfinnr and his men in 1046. Þorfinnr was the most powerful jarl of Orkney, and he died c. 1064/65. See Orkn (ÍF 34, 27-83; Hermann Pálsson and Edwards 1987, 38-76, ÓHHkr (ÍF 27, 160-74, 448-9; Hollander 1991, 351-62), Mork (Mork 1928-32, 31-2; Andersson and Gade 2000, 109-10), Flat (Flat 1860-8, III, 270-1), H-Hr (Fms 6, 45-7).

Events documented in poetry: Þorfinnr’s hospitality (Arn Þorfdr 2-3); his first battle (before the age of fifteen; Arn Þorfdr 5); his battles against Karl Hundason at Deerness, south of Sandwick (Arn Þorfdr 6-8); his attack on Karl’s Irish divisions at Tarbatness (Arn Þorfdr 9-10); his punishment of the Scots for their insubordination (Arn Þorfdr 11); the battle of Loch Vatten (Vatnsfjǫrðr) and his raiding expeditions eight years later (Arn Þorfdr 13-14); an attack on England (Arn Þorfdr 16-18); the battle of Roberry (Rauðabjǫrg) against Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason in 1044 (Arn Þorfdr 19-22; Arn Lv; BjHall Kálffl 8I).

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