Books

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The Varangians - In God´s Holy Fire

This book is the history of the Eastern Vikings, the Rus and the Varangians, from their earliest mentions in the narrative sources to the late medieval period, when the Eastern Vikings had become stock figures in Old Norse Romances. A comparison is made between sources emanating from different cultures, such as the Roman Empire, the Abbasid Caliphate and its successor states, the early kingdoms of the Rus and the high medieval Scandinavian kingdoms. A key element in the history of the Rus and the Varangians is the fashioning of identities and how different cultures define themselves in comparison and contrast with the other. This book offers a fresh and engaging view of these medieval sources, and a thorough reassessment of established historiographical grand narratives on Scandinavian people in the East.

The Varangins. In God´s Holy Fire. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2020.

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Kristur – Saga hugmyndar

The book discusses Christ as a figure of cultural memory, how prevailing ideas about Christ were shaped and why they are different from one another. In the earliest centuries Christians had very different opinions of Christ and his nature. This ideological diversity is analyzed in light of prevailing Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions at the time. Furthermore, the split of Christians into orthodox and heretics during the age of the ecumenical councils and their historical significance is discussed and analysed.

Kristur saga hugmyndar. Reykjavík: Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag, 2018.

Engin venjuleg verslun – Saga Áfengis- og tóbaksverslunar ríkisins í 90 ár

The book is in three parts and retraces the story of ÁTVR (e. The Icelandic liquor- and tobacco store) for the first 90 years of its operation. The second part, dealing with the years 1935 to 1985, is composed by Sverrir Jakobsson, and is the first historical overview of alcoholic policies in this period to be published.

Engin venjuleg verslun – Saga Áfengis- og tóbaksverslunar ríkisins í 90 ár. Reykjavík: Vínbúðin ÁTVR, 2018

ÁTVR bók

 

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Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The last fifty years have seen a significant change in the focus of saga studies, from a preoccupation with origins and development to a renewed interest in other topics, such as the nature of the sagas and their value as sources to medieval ideologies and mentalities.

The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas presents a detailed interdisciplinary examination of saga scholarship over the last fifty years, sometimes juxtaposing it with earlier views and examining the sagas both as works of art and as source materials. This volume will be of interest to Old Norse and medieval Scandinavian scholars and accessible to medievalists in general.

The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas. Ritstj. Ármann Jakobsson og Sverrir Jakobsson. London & New York: Routledge, 2017

The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sturla Þórðarson (1214-1284) – Skald, Chieftain and Lawman

Sturla Þórðarson is one of only a handful of thirteenth-century Icelandic historians to be known by name, and he is certainly one of the most significant. A number of works may be traced directly to his literary-cultural circle, notably Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements), Íslendinga saga (The Saga of Icelanders) and Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (The Saga of King Hákon). Moreover, it is thought that Sturla was involved in the production of the legal text known as Járnsíða, as well as annals and, possibly, some of the Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders). In addition to his role as author and compiler, Sturla Þórðarson was one of the most powerful men in Iceland. In 1262 Sturla visited the court of King Magnús Hákonarson ‘the Law-mender’ in Norway as a court poet. He later became the king’s liegeman, and it was for King Magnús that Sturla wrote the sagas of King Hákon and King Magnús. Sturla served as lawman of all Iceland in the period 1272-77, and then as lawman for the north and west of the country until 1282.

Sturla Þórðarson (1214-1284) – Skald, Chieftain and Lawman. Turnhout: Brill, 2017

Cover Sturla Þórðarson

 

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Auðnaróðal – Baráttan um Ísland 1096–1281

In only few decades, the Icelandic society underwent considerable changes and evolved in the same direction other European medieval societies. The power struggles of chieftains culminated in the years of 1220–1264, better known as Age of the Sturlungs. Here, the political conflicts of these years is discussed in detail and placed into a new context. The focus is not only on few contenders for power but also on diverse social groups, such as housewives, warriors, concubines, scholars, wise women and drifters.

Auðnaróðal. Baráttan um Ísland 1096-1281. Reykjavík: Sögufélag, 2016.

Myndaniðurstaða fyrir auðnaróðal

 

Historical Dictionary of Iceland

Iceland demonstrates most of the characteristics of a modern liberal democracy. It has maintained political stability through a democratic process which enjoys universal legitimacy. Rapid economic modernization has also secured its inhabitants one of the highest living standards in the world, and a comprehensive and highly developed health system has ensured them longevity and one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in the world. Icelanders face, however, formidable challenges in maintaining their status as an independent nation. First, the Icelandic economy is fairly fragile, as overexploitation threatens the fish stocks that remain among Iceland's principal economic resources. Second, the country is rich in unused energy resources, because many of its rivers are still not harnessed, and geothermal power is abundant. But using these resources will necessarily damage the pristine nature of the country, forcing the politicians and the Icelandic public to choose between environmental protection and industrial expansion. Finally, it remains to be seen if a country with just over 329.740 inhabitants will be able to manage its foreign relations in a complex and constantly changing world.

This third edition of Historical Dictionary of Iceland contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 200 cross-referenced entries on important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Iceland.

Historical Dictionary of Iceland, 3. útgáfa (ásamt Guðmundi Hálfdanarsyni). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

Historical Dictionary of Iceland

 

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Saga Breiðfirðinga I – Fólk og rými frá landnámi til plágunnar miklu

This is the first volume of three which discusses the history of Breiðafjörður from the settlement of Iceland until about 1400. In the first volume the material is divided into three main parts. The first one deals with the settlement and the inhabited area of Breiðafjörður until 1148. In the second part „The Age of Sturlungs in Breiðafjörður“ will be discussed and in the last part the main focus turns to Breiðafjörður under royal government. The focus of the narrativey is different from the traditional national and regional histories of Iceland. The study encompasses a long term development of region with its own particularities. 

Saga Breiðfirðinga I. Fólk og rými frá landnámi til um 1400. Reykjavík: Sagnfræðistofnun, 2015.

 

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Hákonar saga I–II, Íslenzk fornrit

In the years 1264–65, the  Sturla Þórðarson wrote the saga of Hákon Hákonarson (ísl. Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar) at the request of King Magnús of Norway. The saga of Hákon Hákonarson is one of the most significant sources to the history of Norway and Iceland in the 13th century.

Íslenzk fornrit XXXI: Hákonar saga Hákonarsaga I. Böglunga saga. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 2013

Íslenzk fornrit XXXII: Hákonar saga Hákonarsaga II. Magnúss saga lagabætis. Reykjavík: Hið íslenzka fornritafélag, 2013

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Við og veröldin – Heimsmynd Íslendinga 1100-1400

The purpose of this study is to analyse the dominant world view in Icelandic society during the period from around 1100, when written culture started to spread, to around 1400, when this written culture had taken on clearly defined features. A world view refers to a system for describing the world, more specifically the visible world and the people who inhabit it. In medieval Icelandic society this world view appears among a select group of literates and bears similarities to the world view of clerics and educated people elsewhere in the Christian world. The Icelandic worldview has its own distinctive features, but these are best seen in the persistence with which the Icelanders adapted to the Catholic world view.