There are good reasons to assume that the author was Óláfr Þórðarson (d. 1259), nicknamed hvítaskáld "the White Poet", who was a nephew of Snorri Sturluson. Óláfr is also known for having written the Third Grammatical Treatise. He stayed with the Danish ruler Valdemar II of Denmark in 1240–1241, and Valdemar provided the saga's author with "a great deal of information" and "outstanding accounts".
The saga covers the history of the Danish rulers from the early 10th century until the 13th century. In the first part of its history, the saga resembles the synoptics in giving summaries of the major historical events, but later chapters, from those dealing with the sons of Svend Estridsen (d. mid-1070s) onwards, devote greater attention to the kings themselves. A central theme is the institution of kingship and all that it demanded of those who held royal office. The exemplary characters and behaviours of good kings such as Knútr the Holy (d. 1086) and Eiríkr the Good (d. 1103), are set off against those of incompetent or evil kings. Key benchmarks for good rulership include the promotion of peace and support of the church.
- Ármann Jakobsson, "Royal biography", p. 397-8
- Lönnroth, Ólason and Piltz, "Literature", in Cambridge History of Scandinavia, vol 1, p. 503
- Nationalencyklopedin (1980)
- Ármann Jakobsson (2005). "Royal Biography". In Rory McTurk. A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature. Malden, Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 388–402.
- Lönnroth, Lars; Vésteinn Ólason; Anders Piltz (2003). "Literature". In Knut Helle. Cambridge History of Scandinavia. 1. Cambridge. pp. 487–520.
Editions and translations
- Knýtlinga saga
- ed. Bjarni Guðnason (1982). Danakonunga sögur. Íslenzk fornrit 35. Reykjavik.
- ed. Carl Petersen; Emil Olsen (1919–1925). Sogur Danakonunga. Copenhagen. pp. 29–294.
- tr. Hermann Pálsson; Paul Edwards (1986). Knytlinga Saga: The History of the Kings of Denmark. Odense: Odense University Press. Extracts available from De Re Militari.
- Ármann Jakobsson (1997). Íleit að konungi: konungsmynd íslenskra konungasagna (in Icelandic). Reykjavik.
- Knut's Invasion of England in 1015-16, according to the Knytlinga Saga Extract in English translation
- Jómsvíkíngasaga ok Knytlínga 1828 edition of the Old Norse texts
- Knýtlinga saga in Old Norse on the website heimskringla.no
- Knýtlinga saga in Danish translation by C.C.Rafn on heimskringla.no
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