Saga Thing

A podcast reviewing the sagas of the Icelanders with some medieval Scandinavian history, a dash of scholarship, and plenty of nonsense.

February 19th, 2016    

Saga Brief 5: The Story of Rollo the Viking

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In this episode, we celebrate the life and accomplishments of the historical Rollo.  Known to many as the envious brother of the incomparable Ragnar Loðbrok in the History Channel’s Vikings.  While the historical Rollo may not have been Ragnar’s brother, Vikings gets a lot of things right.  As an exile from his homeland, Rollo earned the nickname “the Walker” by wandering throughout northern Europe raiding and conquering everything in his path.  Among his most significant conquests would come to be known as Normandy, a territory in northern France named for the Northmen led by Rollo in the late 9th or early 10th century.  Fearing further Viking aggression, the French King Charles the Simple turned over the city of Rouen over to Rollo and his men.  This simple act (get it?) provided the French with a buffer against future Viking attacks from the north.  Or so they hoped.  In this case, it worked out nicely.  Rollo and his fellow Vikings quickly rebuilt the territories they had ravaged and assimilated into French culture.  Rollo’s descendants would go on to play a very significant role in European history.  As the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, Rollo’s blood flows through many veins of later European royalty.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about that part of the story, we recommend the following episodes of Rex Factor, our very favorite podcast:

 

http://rexfactor.podbean.com/e/17-william-the-conqueror/

 

http://rexfactor.podbean.com/e/18-william-rufus/

Looking for more Vikings and Saga Thing cross-over?  We've got a few episodes that might interest you:

The Saga of Ragnar Loðbrok and His Sons - where we review the medieval stories behind the Vikings hero.

The Blood Eagle - where we discuss the Viking practice of splitting a man open and its historical veracity.

The Krákumál - a detailed look at the famous death song of Ragnar

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February 1st, 2016    

Episode 18a - The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong (Part 1)

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The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong tells the tale of a farmer’s son who overcomes an ignoble birth and rises to become one of Iceland's greatest men, or so the saga author would have you believe.  This obscure and rarely discussed 14th century saga is thought to have been written in response to Vatnsdæla Saga, where Finnbogi comes off rather poorly.  In his own saga, Finnbogi proves to be an upright and noble figure who almost always does the right thing.  With superhuman strength, he’s capable of dispatching an angry bull with his bare hands, snapping the spine of an angry Norwegian bear, and coming out ahead in a seemingly endless feud with Vatnsdæla Saga’s brutish Jokul Ingimundarsson.   Finnbogi’s Saga deserves more attention than it has gotten in the past.  And that's why you come to Saga Thing.    

References:

John Kennedy, Review of Bachman/Erlingsson Translation of The Saga of Finnbogi the Strong, in Scandinavian Studies 64 (1992), 149.

Phillip Pulsiano and Kirsten Wolf, Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia (1993), 194.

Paul Schach, Icelandic Sagas (Boston, 1980), 155-56.

Music for the brief summary: "Nerves" by Kevin MacLeod (incopetech.com).  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0