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(p.8) 2 Gyða
Between History and Myth
Bruce Lincoln
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the founding of two states: the unified kingdom of Norway and the anti-monarchic commonwealth of Iceland. To comprehend the way these states described themselves in their moment of emergence, the chapter focuses on the story of Harald Fairhair, the king who ruled Norway for seventy years (ca. 858–930) and who has been credited for its unification. More specifically, it considers Harald’s peculiar oath, its multiple variants and the multiple stories to which it connects, as well as the ideological maneuvering carried out by way of emplotment and diction. To this end, the chapter analyzes a number of surviving sources that narrate the events surrounding Harald’s vow and how he purportedly reinvented kingdom and kingship alike. One such source is the “Tale of Harald Fairhair,” where Harald took or married Gyða, the daughter of King Eirik of Hörðaland. The chapter also looks at the Heimskringla account of Gyða’s dealings with Harald.

Keywords:   states, Norway, Iceland, Harald Fairhair, kingdom, kingship, Tale of Harald Fairhair, Gyða, Heimskringla

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