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Reader Reflects

Reader Reflects

(p.121) Coda A Reader Reflects
Between History and Myth
Bruce Lincoln
University of Chicago Press

In this coda, a reader reflects on Heimskringla and the other comprehensive Kings’ Sagas, as well as their master narrative about the unified monarchic state established by Harald Fairhair as king of Norway; the sagas of Harald and his father, Hálfdan the Black; Hálfdan’s death; and Harald’s oath. From these inquiries, a pattern could be discerned whereby the state-founding Norwegian king is portrayed as dependent on the women he exploited and betrayed; one who destroyed pre-state institutions, including marriage, family, law, and property; and a willful child whose dalliances with giants, criminals, and magicians resulted in his father’s demise. Hálfdan the Black’s death paved the way for a new world and a whole set of new institutions that were as ambiguous as their founder.

Keywords:   king, Heimskringla, Kings’ Sagas, Harald Fairhair, Norway, Hálfdan the Black, death, oath, institutions

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