Kings and Poets: Royal Admonition in the sagas of Egil and Gunnlaug

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The thematic parallels of the sagas of warrior poets (skáldasögur) have often been noted, among these the propensity of the skáld to travel to the various courts of the tenth- and eleventh-century North Sea world. Yet, for these similarities, antagonists have very different experiences of kingship and their fates are, in part, shaped by their responses to royal admonition at critical narrative junctures. Focusing on episodes of royal advice-giving at the English court – as portrayed in Gunnlaugs saga and Egils saga – this paper argues that these are nostalgic constructs of royal agency in which the power of a king’s words to shape the fortunes of an individual serve as allegory for societal perceptions of kingship. Importantly, however, it also questions whether such motifs should be understood as linked, or whether they represent a common yet independent experience of the transformative impact of monarchies in the medieval Anglo-Scandinavian world.
Period18 Sept 2020
Held atMonash University Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Australia
Degree of RecognitionNational