Anglo-Saxon England



Contextualizing the Knútsdrápur: skaldic praise-poetry at the court of Cnut


Matthew Townend a1
a1 University of York

It is generally recognized that during the reign of Cnut the Danish king's court came to represent the focal point for skaldic composition and patronage in the Norse-speaking world. According to the later Icelandic Skáldatal or ‘List of Poets’, no fewer than eight skalds were remembered as having composed for Cnut: Sigvatr Þórðarson, Óttarr svarti, Þórarinn loftunga, Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Bersi Torfuson, Steinn Skaptason, Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, and Óðarkeptr. Comparing this list with the extant poetic remains, one arrives at the following collection of skaldic praise-poems (some fragmentary) in honour of Cnut: Sigvatr Þórðarson's Knútsdrápa; Óttarr svarti's Knútsdrápa; Hallvarðr háreksblesi's Knútsdrápa; Þórarinn loftunga's Ho[ogonek]fuðlausn and Tøgdrápa; and (probably) a fragment by Arnórr jarlaskáld. Of the other poets cited in Skáldatal, no verse in honour of Cnut is extant by Bersi Torfuson, and none at all by Steinn Skaptason and Óðarkeptr.