Ivar Vidfamne

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Ivar Vidfamne (or Ívarr inn víðfaðmi; English exonym Ivar Widefathom; Danish Ivar Vidfadme) was a legendary Danish[1][2][3] and Swedish king hailing from Scania. He may have died c. 700.[4] According to the Heimskringla and the Hervarar saga, Ivar was also king of parts of Norway, Saxony and England.

Ivar in the Sagas[edit]

He began as king of Scania and conquered Sveariket by defeating Ingjald Illråde. He is then said to have conquered all of Scandinavia and parts of England. Because of his harsh rule, many Swedes fled west and populated Värmland under its king Olof Trätälja. His last campaign was in North Eastern Europe where he died, defeated by Odin in disguise. (Another source claims he took his life by drowning himself in the Gulf of Finland.)

Map showing the possible extent of Ivar Vidfamne's realms. The kingdom of Ivar Vidfamne (outlined in red) and other territories paying him tribute (outlined in purple), as it may be interpreted from the stories about Ivar Vidfamne in the sagas.

According to both Ynglinga saga and Sögubrot, his homeland was Scania, but according to the Ynglinga saga, he had to flee Scania when his uncle Guðröðr of Scania had slain his father Halfdan the Valiant. The Ynglinga saga, Historia Norwegiæ, Hervarar saga and Upplendinga Konungum tell that Ivar conquered Sweden after Ingjald's suicide, and later returned to take Denmark.

According to Hversu Noregr byggðist and Njáls saga, he was the son of Halfdan the Valiant (also given as his father in the Ynglinga saga and the Hervarar saga), son of Harald the Old, son of Valdar, son of Roar (Hroðgar) of the house of Skjöldung (Scylding). According to Hversu, Njal's saga, the Lay of Hyndla and Sögubrot, Ivar had a daughter named Auðr the Deep-Minded.

Sögubrot relates that when Ivar was the king of Sweden, he gave his daughter Auðr the Deep-Minded to king Hrœrekr Ringslinger of Zealand, in spite of the fact that she wanted to marry Hrœrek's brother Helgi the Sharp. Hrœrekr and Auðr had the son Harald Wartooth. Ivar made Hrœrekr kill his brother Helgi, and after this, he attacked and killed Hrœrekr. However, Auðr arrived with the Zealand army and chased her father Ivar back to Sweden. The following year, Auðr went to Garðaríki with her son Harald and many powerful men and married its king Ráðbarðr. This was the opportunity for Ivar to conquer Zealand.

The Hervarar saga does not mention any daughter named Auðr. Instead it mentions an Alfhild. Ivar gave her to Valdar whom Ivar made subking of Denmark.

However, when Ivar learnt that Auðr had married without his permission, he marshalled a great leidang from Denmark and Sweden and went to Gardariki. He was very old at the time. However, when they had arrived at the borders of Raðbarð's kingdom, Karelia (Karjálabotnar), he threw himself overboard. Harald then returned to Scania to become its ruler. In the Lay of Hyndla, Ivar, Auðr, Hrœrekr and Harald appear. Raðbarðr also appears, but there is no information about his relationship with them.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ivar Vidfamne in: Nordisk familjebok (Swedish), 2nd edition (Uggleupplagan), volume 12 (1910), sp. 1119
  2. ^ Ivar Vidfadme in: Salmonsens Konversations Leksikon (Danish), Anden Udgave, Bind XII (1922), p. 731 & p. 732
  3. ^ Ivar Vidfadme in: Store Norske Leksikon (Norwegian)
  4. ^ Lagerquist, Lars O. (1997). Sveriges Regenter, från forntid till nutid. Stockholm: Norstedts. p. 22. ISBN 91-1-963882-5. 

See also[edit]

  • Ivar the Boneless, proposed by Kirsten Møller in the book Vikingeætten from 1997 to be the same person as Ivar Vidfamne. No other writers or scholars seem to have taken up this idea of Kirsten Møller.

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Nerman, B: Det svenska rikets uppkomst. Stockholm, 1925.
  • Engelhardt, P: Danerne fra fødsel til dåb. Copenhagen, 1980.
  • Engholm, Carl: Danske kongeslægter i det 8. & 9. århundrede. Karl den Store og Danerne. Kgs. Lyngby, 1994.


Legendary titles
Preceded by
Ingjald
King of Sweden Succeeded by
Harald Wartooth
Preceded by
Hrœrekr Ringslinger
Legendary king of Zealand
Preceded by
Guðröðr of Scania
Legendary king of Scania