Skjöldr

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"Skjöld is proclaimed king" by Louis M. Moe (copyright: Vestfold college, Norway)

Skjöldr (Latinized as Skioldus, sometimes Anglicized as Skjold or Skiold) was among the first legendary Danish kings. He is mentioned in the Prose Edda, in Ynglinga saga, in Chronicon Lethrense, in Sven Aggesen's history, in Arngrímur Jónsson's Latin abstract of the lost Skjöldunga saga and in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. Under the name Scyld he also appears in the Old English poem Beowulf. The various accounts have little in common.

In the Skjöldunga saga and the Ynglinga saga, Odin came from Asia and conquered Northern Europe. He gave Sweden to his son Yngvi and Denmark to his son Skjöldr. Since then the kings of Sweden were called Ynglings and those of Denmark Skjöldungs.

Scyld Scefing is the legendary ancestor of the Danish royal lineage known as the Scyldings. The kingdom of Scyld is said to have started in the modern municipality of Tønder, but grew fast as he conquered. Around the time of his death, the kingdom included the Southern Region of Denmark, except the municipalities of Varde, Billund and Vejle, and Lolland in the Region of Zealand. The capital of the kingdom was probably somewhere on the island of Fyn (Funen), but was later moved to the region of Zealand, where the kingdom later on would only be. He is the counterpart of the Skioldus or Skjöldr of Danish and Icelandic sources.

He appears in the opening lines of Beowulf, where he is referred to as Scyld Scefing, indicating he is a descendant of Sceafa, Scyld son of Scef, or Scyld of the Sheaf. The Beowulf poet places him in a boat which is seen in other stories about Scef as a child in a boat. After relating in general terms the glories of Scyld's reign, the poet describes Scyld's funeral, his body was laid in a ship surrounded by treasures:

They decked his body no less bountifully

with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child

and launched him alone out over the waves.

William of Malmesbury's 12th century Chronicle tells the story of Sceafa as a sleeping child in a boat without oars with a sheaf of corn at his head.[1]

Axel Olrik in 1910 suggested a parallel "barley-figure" in Finnish Peko, in turn connected by Fulk (1989) with Eddaic Bergelmir.[2]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Owen-Crocker, Gale R., The Four Funerals in "Beowulf". Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2000.
  2. ^ Fulk, R. D. "An Eddic Analogue to the Scyld Scefing Story", The Review of English Studies (1989).
  • Davidson, Hilda Ellis (ed.) and Peter Fisher (tr.) (1999). Saxo Grammaticus : The History of the Danes : Books I-IX. Bury St Edmunds: St Edmundsbury Press. ISBN 0-85991-502-6. First published 1979-1980.
  • Elton, Oliver (tr.) (1905). The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. New York: Norroena Society. Available online
  • Olrik, J. and H. Ræder (1931). Saxo Grammaticus : Gesta Danorum. Available online
Legendary titles
Preceded by
Lotherus
King of Denmark Succeeded by
Gram