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Between History and MythStories of Harald Fairhair and the Founding of the State$
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Bruce Lincoln

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226140926

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226141084.001.0001

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(p.51) 6 Ragnhild
Between History and Myth

Bruce Lincoln

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Ragnhild, the daughter of Sigurð Hart (Sigurð Snake-in-the-Eye) and Thyrni. Sigurð Hart is the son of Ragnar Shaggy-Breeches; both men were semi-legendary Danish kings of the ninth century and belonged to the fabled Scylding dynasty that figures prominently in Beowulf. The chapter examines how Fagrskinna elevated Ragnhild by connecting her to dragon-slaying heroes and Danish kings, and how Heimskringla used her to prophesy Harald Fairhair’s coming greatness. It also considers how Ragnhild acquired her mother Thyrni’s mystic powers and learning and became the mother of Harald Fairhair. Finally, it discusses the central place of revelatory dreams in the accounts of Harald’s nativity.

Keywords:   kings, Ragnhild, Sigurð Hart, Thyrni, Scylding dynasty, Fagrskinna, heroes, Heimskringla, Harald Fairhair, revelatory dreams

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