Ashman Rowe, Elizabeth. Helpful Danes, Pagan Irishmen
- Author: Ashman Rowe, Elizabeth
- Title: Helpful Danes, Pagan Irishmen: Saga Fantasies Of The Viking Age In The British Isles
- Published in: Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5
- Year: 2009
- Pages: 1-21
- E-text: Brepols
- Reference: Ashman Rowe, Elizabeth. "Helpful Danes, Pagan Irishmen: Saga Fantasies Of The Viking Age In The British Isles." Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5 (2009): 1-21.
- Key words:
Rowe notes that whilst saga depictions of the British Isles are generally anachronistic and inaccurate, the literary history of these references is important. She divides the fornaldarsögur referencing Britain into two groups: the earlier group presents a ‘Viking empire’ myth which concerns Scandinavian conquest and power in England. This representation is somewhat more historically accurate than the less violent image presented by the second group. This group, composed relatively later, sees the relationship between Scandinavian kings and England presented as supportive and peaceful, with the Scandinavian kings cast in a superior light to their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. The two groups bear other characteristics, such as differing approaches to the historical accuracy of their presentations of the Scandinavian relationship with Ireland. The drastic change in presentations of the British Isles across these two groups of fornaldarsögur is ascribed to the changing political situation in Iceland and to contemporary relationships with England, Ireland and Scotland. It is also noted that across the fornaldarsögur, part of the reason for the focus on England was contemporary trade activity with that country. This is compared with references to Anglo-Saxon England in Njáls saga, which is remarkable in this regard, as such references, contrary to what one may expect, never touch upon trade and commerce.
- Written by: Tonicha Upham
- Icelandic/English translation: