The Viking Age: A Reader, Third Edition

Edited by Angus A. Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald

© 2020

In this extensively revised third edition of The Viking Age: A Reader, Somerville and McDonald successfully bring the Vikings and their world to life for twenty-first-century students and instructors. The diversity of the Viking era is revealed through the remarkable range and variety of sources presented as well as the geographical and chronological coverage of the readings.

The third edition has been reorganized into fifteen chapters. Many sources have been added, including material on gender and warrior women, and a completely new final chapter traces the continuing cultural influence of the Vikings to the present day. The use of visual material has been expanded, and updated maps illustrate historical developments throughout the Viking Age. The English translations of Norse texts, many of them new to this collection, are straightforward and easily accessible, while chapter introductions contextualize the readings.

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Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 552 pages
  • Illustrations: 14
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.2in x 9.3in
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SKU# HE000832

  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019
    From: $52.95
    ISBN 9781487570477
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019
    From: $42.95
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Who were the Vikings, and do they deserve their unsavoury reputation? Through over 100 primary source documents, this fascinating collection weighs the cultural importance and lasting influence of the Vikings.

The Viking Age: A Reader, Third Edition

Edited by Angus A. Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald

© 2020

In this extensively revised third edition of The Viking Age: A Reader, Somerville and McDonald successfully bring the Vikings and their world to life for twenty-first-century students and instructors. The diversity of the Viking era is revealed through the remarkable range and variety of sources presented as well as the geographical and chronological coverage of the readings.

The third edition has been reorganized into fifteen chapters. Many sources have been added, including material on gender and warrior women, and a completely new final chapter traces the continuing cultural influence of the Vikings to the present day. The use of visual material has been expanded, and updated maps illustrate historical developments throughout the Viking Age. The English translations of Norse texts, many of them new to this collection, are straightforward and easily accessible, while chapter introductions contextualize the readings.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 552 pages
  • Illustrations: 14
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.2in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "This book is a gift to anyone teaching (or being taught) the Vikings – an affordable compilation of essential literature, contextualised with critical introductions. The editors provide a whole course of reading in one volume, and this third edition is now updated with a major new section on gender and a review of the Vikings’ complex legacies from medieval times down to today."


    Neil Price, Uppsala University

    "The third edition of Angus Somerville and Andrew McDonald’s The Viking Age: A Reader is to be welcomed by everyone interested in the Vikings and their world. This significantly revised edition of their classic sourcebook provides even more material than was available in the two previous editions. The entirely new section on responses to the Vikings shows how they have provoked inspiration among writers through the centuries. An expanded section on gender brings in materials that more fully illustrate the complexity of interrelationships and identity. The occasional change of texts in the other sections makes this an appreciably different book from the earlier versions and keeps it in the forefront of modern scholarship."


    Benjamin Hudson, Pennsylvania State University

    "The third edition of The Viking Age: A Reader reaches new heights. With its fresh and readable translations, the pedagogical maps, and the way the editors contextualize and explain their texts, this is the obvious choice for anyone curious about the Vikings. I always use it to good effect when I am teaching Viking history."


    Anders Winroth, Yale University
  • Author Information

    Angus A. Somerville, now retired, formerly taught Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon at Brock University. Somerville was a contributor to the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.


    R. Andrew McDonald is Professor in the Department of History at Brock University.
  • Table of contents

    List of Illustrations

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    Chapter One: The Scandinavian Homelands

    1. The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan
    2. A Description of the Islands of the North

    Chapter Two: Scandinavian Society

    3. The Lay of Rig (Rígsþula)
    4. Politics in Harald Finehair’s Norway
    5. Hoskuld Buys a Slave
    6. Slave Revolts
    (a) Hjorleif's Slaves Revolt
    (b) A Slave Revolt in Egil's Saga
    7. How the Hersir Erling Treated His Slaves

    Chapter Three: Early Religion and Belief

    8. The Norse Creation-Myth
    9. Ragnarok: The Doom of the Gods 
    10. Odin Welcomes Eirik Bloodax to Valhalla
    11. Odin Hangs on Yggdrasil
    12. Odin and Human Sacrifice
    (a) The Death of King Vikar
    (b) The Deaths of Domaldi and Olaf Tretelgja
    13. Sigurd, the Earl of Lade, Sacrifices to the Gods
    14. The Temple at Uppsala
    15. A Temple in Iceland
    16. Norse Funeral Practices
    (a) Snorri’s History of Burial Practices
    (b) Odin Orders Cremation and Becomes a God
    (c) The Death of Baldur the Good
    (d) Gunnar’s Burial Mound
    17. The Living Dead
    (a) Gunnar’s Posthumous Poem
    (b) Grettir’s Fight with Glam

    Chapter Four: Gender in the Viking Age

    18. Manly Men
    (a) Gunnar Weeps
    (b) The Death of Gunnar
    (c) Egil and Armod
    19. Unmanly Men
    (a) Deadly Insults from Grágás
    (b) A Flyting between Sinfjotli and Gudmund
    (c) Egil in Old Age
    20. Strong Women
    (a) Unn the Deep-Minded Takes Control of Her Life
    (b) The Goading of Hildigunn
    (c) The Prowess of Freydis, Daughter of Eirik the Red
    21. Mothers and Sons
    (a) Gudrun Drives Her Sons to Take Revenge
    (b) Gudrun Osvifrsdottir's Incitement of Her Sons
    22. Making and Breaking Marriages
    (a) Betrothals from the Sagas
    (i) The Betrothal of Olaf Hoskuldsson
    (ii) How Unn Mordsdottir Found Herself Betrothed
    (b) Divorces from the Sagas
    (i) How Gudrun Divorced Thorvald
    (ii) Vigdis Divorces Thord Goddi
    23. Women's Work
    (a) Housework in Laxdale Saga
    (b) Magical Women
    (i) The Greenland Prophetess
    (ii) A Phallic Ritual: Passing the Penis
    24. Men and Women Behaving Badly
    (a) Queen Gunnhild Has Her Way with Hrut
    (b) Gisli Sursson Defends the Family Honor
    (c) On the Penalties for Poetry
    (d) Hallfred the Troublesome Poet and Kolfinna
    (e) Grettir the Strong Puts a Woman in Her Place
    25. Same-Sex Encounters
    (a) Penitential of Saint Thorlak
    (b) Civil Penalties in Early Norwegian Law
    (c) Njal Gives a Garment to Flosi
    (d) King Harold Formsson and the Land-Spirits
    (e) Gisli Sursson Fights Skeggi the Berserk
    26. Gender Instability: Trans-Gender and Gender-Shifting
    (a) From Gulathing Law: On Seriously Insulting Speech
    (b) Odin's Wisdom and Arts
    (c) From Loki's Flyting (Lokasenna)
    (d) Loki and Svadilfari: loki's Adventure as a Mare
    27. Cross-Dressing
    (a) Thor as a Bride
    (b) How Aud Dealt wih Her Humiliating Divorce

     Chapter Five: Viking Warriors and Their Weapons

    28. The Accomplishments of a Viking Warrior
    (a) Earl Rognvald Kali on Being a Gentleman
    (b) Gunnar Hamundarson, the Ideal Warrior
    (c) Olaf Tryggvason, King of Norway
    29. Warrior Women
    (a) A Warrior Woman
    (b) The Waking of Angantýr (The Lay of Hervor, Hervarakviða)
    30. Valkyries
    (a) Helgi and Sigrun I
    (b) Helgi and Sigrun II
    (c) Brynhild's Helride
    31. Berserkers and the Berserk Rage
    (a) Odin’s Berserks
    (b) Egil Skallagrimsson Fights a Berserk
    32. Weapons
    (a) King Magnus Barelegs Dresses to Kill
    (b) The Sword Skofnung
    (i) Hrolf Kraki and Skofnung
    (ii) Skeggi and Skofnung
    (iii) Kormak and Skofnung
    (iv) Thorkel Eyolfsson and Skofnung
    (v) Gellir Thorkelsson and Skofnung
    (c) Saint Olaf’s Sword, Hneitir

    Chapter Six: Fjord-Serpents: Viking Ships

    33. King Olaf Tryggvason Builds the Long Serpent
    34. Harald Sigurdarson’s Splendid Ship
    35. Animal Heads on the Prows of Ships
    36. A Sea-Battles from the Sagas: Olaf Tryggvason at the Battle of Svold

    Chapter Seven: “Sudden and Unforeseen Attacks of Northmen”
     
    37. On the Causes of the Viking Expansion
    38. Viking Raids on England, 789–850/1
    39. Alcuin’s Letter to King Athelred, 793
    40. An English Gospel Book Ransomed from the Vikings
    41. Viking Raids on Ireland, 795–842
    42. The Martyrdom of Blathmac, 825
    43. The Life of Saint Findan
    44. Irish Resistance to the Norsemen
    45. Franks and Vikings, 800–829
    46. The Northmen in France, 843–865 
    47. An Account of the Siege of Paris, 885–886
    48. Vikings in the Iberian Peninsula
    (a) Ibn al-Kutia. Year 230 (17 September 844 - 1 October 845)
    (b) Ibn Adhari. Year 229 (30 September 843 - 17 September 844)

    Chapter Eight: “The Heathens Stayed”: From Raiding To Settlement

    49. Viking Activities in England, 851–900
    50. The Martyrdom of Saint Edmund
    51. The Vikings in Ireland, 845–917
    52. Ketil Flatnose and His Descendants in the Hebrides
    53. Earl Sigurd and the Establishment of the Earldom of Orkney
    54. Runic Inscriptions from Maes Howe, Mainland, Orkney
    55. Runic Inscriptions from the Isle of Man
    56. Rollo Obtains Normandy from the King of the Franks

    Chapter Nine: Austrveg: The Viking Road To The East

    57. The Ru¯s
    58. The Ru¯s Attack Constantinople
    59. On the Arrival of the Varangians
    60. A Muslim Diplomat Meets Ru¯ s Merchants on the Volga River
    61. River Routes to Constantinople
    62. A Norwegian Soldier of Fortune in the East
    63. Ru¯ s Expeditions to the Middle East
    64. The Yngvar Runestones

    Chapter Ten: Into the Western Ocean: The Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland

    65. The Islands in the Northern Ocean, c. 825
    66. Sailing Directions and Distances in the North Atlantic
    67. The Western Ocean
    68. Adam of Bremen on Iceland
    69. Icelandic Accounts of the Discovery and Settlement of Iceland
    (a) The Book of the Icelanders
    (b) The Book of Settlements
    70. Skallagrim’s Land-Take in Iceland
    71. The Settlement of Greenland
    (a) The Book of the Icelanders
    (b) The Book of Settlements
    72. The King’s Mirror on Greenland
    73. Adam of Bremen on Vinland
    74. The Norse Discovery of Vinland
    75. Thorfin Karlsefni in Vinland

    Chapter Eleven: Viking Life and Death

    76. Advice for Sailors and Merchants
    77. Svein Asleifarson’s Viking Life
    78. Children
    (a) Young Grettir Helps around the Farm
    (b) Children Mimic Adults
    (c) The Child is Mother of the Woman
    (d) Young Egil Plays for Keeps
    79. Games and Entertainment
    (a) A Horse-fight from Njal’s Saga
    (b) Skallagrim's Rough Play
    (c) Ball Games and Scraper-Games at Sand from Hord's Saga
    (d) Entertainment at a Wedding Feast at Reykjaholar from The Saga of Thorgils and Haflidi
    (e ) Mock Lawsuits from The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn
    80. The Jomsvikings Meet Their End 
    81. The Burning of Njal

    Chapter Twelve: From Odin to Christ

    82. Early Missions to the North: The Life of Saint Anskar
    83. The Conversion of the Danes under Harald Bluetooth
    84. Olaf Tryggvason and the Conversion of Norway
    85. A Poet Abandons the Old Gods
    86. The Christianization of Norway under Saint Olaf
    87. The Conversion of the Icelanders
    88. The Conversion of Greenland
    89. The Conversion of Orkney
    90. Christianity in Sweden
    91. Christianity and the Church in Norway
    92. The Travels of King Sigurd, Jerusalem-Farer
    93. The Journey of Abbot Nikolas Bergsson from Iceland to Jerusalem

    Chapter Thirteen: State-Building at Home and Abroad

    94. Harald Finehair and the Unification of Norway
    95. Denmark: The Jelling Stone
    96. State-Making in Denmark: Unification and Expansion
    97. The Martyrdom of Alfeah (Saint Alphege)
    98. Knut the Great and the North Sea Empire
    99. The England Runestones
    100. The Earldom of Orkney at Its Zenith

    Chapter Fourteen: The End of the Viking Age

    101. The Battle of Clontarf, 1014
    102. The Battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066
    103. The Battle of Largs, 1263

    Chapter Fifteen: Reawakening Angantýr, or Viking Revivals

    104. The First Revival
    (a) Snorri Sturlson (1179-1241) and Norse Poetics
    (b) Saxo Grammaticus and Icelandic Sources
    105. Romantic Vikings
    (a) The Fatal Sisters: An Ode, from the Norse Tongue
    (b) The Vegtam's (Odin's) Kvitha (poem); or The Descent of Odin: An Ode, from the Norse Tongue
    106. Operatic Vikings: Richard Wagner (1818-1883), from Das Rheingold, Scene Two
    107. Aryan Anthropology: Vikings in Politics
    (a) Halfdan Bryn: Methodology
    (b) Hans F.K. Günther on Nordic Man
    (c) Alfred Rosenberg: Creative Men and Beautiful, Motherly Women
    108. The Gods Reborn
    (a) Carl Jung: "Wotanism"
    (b) Odin Lives
    (c) Odinism in America
    (d) Versions of Ásatrú
    (i) The Icelandic Forn Sed Norge / The Society of the Ancient Faith in Norway
    109. Plundering the Vikings, from The Irish Times
    110. The Vikings in the Courtroom of History: Terrorists, Tourists, Others
    (a) Savage Warriors
    (b) Piracy and Commerce
    (c) Intruders of a Recognizable Type?
    (d) Revisiting the Revisionists
    (e) The Viking Diaspora

    Epilogue

    111. Advice from Odin

    Sources

    Index of Topics

    Index of Authors and Sources

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