Flateyjarbók


Flateyjarbók
King Harald I of Norway receives Norway out of his father's hands in this illustration from the Flateyjarbók.

The Flatey Book, (Icelandic: Flateyjarbók; lit. "Flat-island book") is an important medieval Icelandic manuscript. It is also known as GkS 1005 fol. and by the Latin name Codex Flateyensis.

Contents

Description

The Flatey Book is the largest medieval Icelandic manuscript, comprising 225 written and illustrated vellum leaves. It contains mostly sagas of the Norse kings as found in the Heimskringla, specifically the sagas about Olaf Tryggvason, St. Olaf, Sverre, Hakon the Old, Magnus the Good, and Harald Hardrada. But they appear here expanded with additional material[1] not found elsewhere (some of it being very old) along with other unique differences. Most—but not all—of the additional material is placed within the royal sagas, sometimes interlaced. Additionally, the manuscript contains the only copy of the eddic poem Hyndluljóð, a unique set of annals from creation to 1394, and many short tales not otherwise preserved such as Nornagests þáttr ("the Story of Norna Gest").

Especially important is the Grœnlendinga saga ("History of the Greenlanders"), giving an account of the Vinland colony with some differences from the account contained in Eiríks saga rauða ("History of Eirík the Red"). Here also are preserved the only Icelandic versions of the Orkneyinga saga ("History of the Orkney Islanders") and Færeyinga saga ("History of the Faroe Islanders").

History

From internal evidence the book was being written in 1387 and was completed in 1394 or very soon after. The first page states that its owner is "Jonn Hakonar son" and that the book was scribed by two priests. One of them, "Jon prestr Þórðar son", scribed the contents from the tale of Eirík the Traveller down to the end of the two Olaf sagas and the other, "Magnús prestr Thorhallz sun", scribed the earlier and later material and also drew the illustrations.

Further material was inserted towards the end of the 15th century.

The manuscript first received special attention by the learnèd in 1651 when Bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson of Skálholt, with the permission of King Frederick III of Denmark, requested all folk of Iceland who owned old manuscripts to turn them over to the Danish king, providing either the original or a copy, either as a gift or for a price. Jon Finnsson, who resided on Flatey ('Flat Island') in Breiðafjörður on the west coast of Iceland, was then the owner of the book which was already known as the Flateyjarbók. At first Jon refused to release his precious heirloom, the biggest and best book in all of Iceland, and he continued to refuse even when Bishop Brynjólfur paid him a personal visit and offered him five hundreds of land. Jon only changed his mind and bestowed the book on the bishop just as the bishop was leaving the region.

The manuscript was given as a present from Bishop Brynjólfur to King Frederick III in 1656, and placed in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. (The rest of Bishop Brynólfur's collection was dispersed by his heirs, who had no interest in a collection of old mansucripts, and most disappeared forever, though fortunately paper transcripts had been made from many of them.) The Flatey Book and the Codex Regius were repatriated to Iceland in 1971 as Icelandic national treasures and are preserved and studied by the Árni Magnússon Institute.

Contents

Flateyjarbók consists of the following texts:

  • Grœnlendinga saga
  • Færeyinga saga
  • Jómsvíkinga saga
  • Otto þáttr keisara
  • Fundinn Noregr
  • Orkneyinga þáttr
  • Albani þáttr ok Sunnifu
  • Íslands bygging
  • Þorsteins þáttr uxafóts
  • Sörla þáttr
  • Stefnis þáttr Þorgilssonar
  • Rögnvalds þáttr ok Rauðs
  • Hallfreðar þáttr vandræðaskálds
  • Kjartans þáttr Ólafssonar
  • Ögmundar þáttr dytts
  • Norna-Gests þáttr
  • Helga þáttr Þórissonar
  • Þorvalds þáttr tasalda
  • Sveins þáttr ok Finns
  • Rauðs þáttr hins ramma
  • Hrómundar þáttr halta
  • Þorsteins þáttr skelks
  • Þiðranda þáttr ok Þórhalls
  • Kristni þáttr
  • Eiríks þáttr rauða
  • Svaða þáttr ok Arnórs kerlingarnefs
  • Eindriða þáttr ilbreiðs
  • Orms þáttr Stórólfssonar
  • Hálfdanar þáttr svarta
  • Haralds þáttr hárfagra
  • Hauks þáttr hábrókar
  • Sverris saga
  • Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar
  • An addendum to Ólafs saga helga by Styrmir Kárason
  • A saga of King Magnus the Good and King Harald Hardrada of the Morkinskinna type
  • Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar
  • Auðunar þáttr vestfirzka
  • Sneglu-Halla þáttr
  • Halldórs þáttr Snorrasonar
  • Þorsteins þáttr forvitna
  • Þorsteins þáttr tjaldstæðings
  • Blóð-Egils þáttr
  • Grœnlendinga þáttr (not to be confused with Grœnlendinga saga)
  • Helga þáttr ok Úlfs
  • Játvarðar saga helga - Saga of King Edward
  • Flateyjarannálar

Notes

  1. ^ Such as Nornagests þáttr ("the Story of Norna-Gest"), Styrbjarnar þáttr Svíakappa ("Tale of Styrbjörn the Swedish Champion"), Hróa þáttr heimska ("The Tale of Roi the Fool") and Völsa þáttr ("the Tale of the Phallos").

References

External links


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