Democratic Parliamentarism in the Government of Early Medieval Iceland

Settlers left Norway and other regions to start fresh and arrange their world as nowhere else in Europe. By Irina Manea Introduction Early medieval Icelandic government, or Viking Iceland, has been termed an incipient form of democracy or democratic parliamentarism, however, the system was actually nothing like its European counterparts, be they medieval or contemporary. Historiography prefers the[…]

Heimdall: Guardian of Asgard in Medieval Norse Mythology

The main literary source for Heimdall’s role in Norse mythology as a forefather would be the poem Rigsthula. By Irena Manea Introduction Heimdall is a mysterious deity of Norse mythology whose main attribute refers to guarding the realm of the gods, Asgard, from his high fortress called Himinbjörg found at the top of Bifröst, the rainbow bridge. He has the[…]

The Poetic Verbal Contest between Odin and Thor in Norse Mythology

They verbally duel in a so-called mannjafnaðr, a comparison of men, both trying their superiority. By Irina Manea Introduction The poem called The Lay of Greybeard (Old Norse: Hárbarðsljóð) is one story from Norse mythology that relates an intriguing verbal fight between two of its essential gods, Thor and Odin. The poem consists of 60 stanzas and is found complete in the 13th-century CE[…]

Loki, Villainous Trickster God of Medieval Norse Mythology

Loki is referred to in 13th-century Scandinavian poems and folklore. Introduction Loki is a god in Norse mythology. Loki is in some sources the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By[…]

Yggdrasil: The Sacred Ash Tree of Norse Mythology

Yggdrasil stands at the absolute center of the Norse cosmos. This article, Yggdrasil: The Sacred Ash Tree of Norse Mythology, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ With its branches in the heavens and its roots in the underworld, the Cosmic[…]

Varangians: Vikings in Medieval Russia

The Varyags are first mentioned by the Primary Chronicle as having exacted tribute from the Slavic and Finnic tribes in 859. Introduction The Varangians or Varyags, sometimes referred to as Variagians, were Vikings, or Norsemen who went eastwards and southwards through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine mainly in the ninth and tenth centuries.[…]

Beowulf: History, Legend, and Mythology

Analyzing how historical, legendary, and mythological elements are woven through the text of Beowulf? Originally published by Newberry Digital Collections for the Classroom, 05.18.2018, Newberry Library, republished with permission for educational, non-commercial purposes. Introduction Although acknowledged as a foundational work of English literature, the complicated and allusive style of the longest epic poem in Old[…]