Norse Heroes 2
Norse Heroes 2 has articles of heroes who are not connected to the Volung-Nibelung cycle. Most of the characters in this page, are the Skioldungs (Skjoldungs).
The Skioldungs were known as the Scyldings in the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf. The Skioldungs were of the royal dynasty of Denmark.
Note that with the Skjodung family, there are no clear or precise relationship between the members, and that causes some confusion in the genealogy. There are 3 main traditions: the Norwegian and Icelandic tradition, the Danish tradition and the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) tradition. One character in one tradition may have different parents, siblings or children in another tradition.
Since the Skjoldung genealogy may differ from one tradition from another, so some of the articles will note the differences.
The main sources for the Norwegian and Icelandic traditions:
- Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson.
- Heimskringla (including the Ynglinga Saga) by Snorri Sturluson.
- Grottasong (“Song of the Hand-Mill” Grotti).
- Hrolfs saga Kraka.
The Danish tradition:
- Gesto, by Saxo Grammaticus.
- Skjoldunga Saga (Latin summary).
Old English tradition:
|Hrolfs saga Kraka
|Bodvar Bjarki; Bödvarr||Bodvarus||Biarco||Beowulf?|
|Frodi||Frodi, Fróði||Frodo||Frotho, Fronde||Froda|
|Hróarr (Hroar)||Roas||Roe, Ro||Hrōðgār (Hrothgar)|
|Hrolf Kraki||Hrolf Kraki; Hrólfr||Rolfo Krake||Roluo Krake||Hrōðulf (Hrothulf)|
|Skiold||Skiold, Skjöldr||Skioldus||Skioldus||Scyld Scefing|
Geneology: House of Halfdan-Hrolf
|Champion of Hrolf Kraki.
Most of what we know about Bodvar, comes from the Hrolfs saga Kraka, a story about Skiodung dynasty, where he appeared prominently as Champion of Hrolf, the king of Denmark. However, he appeared in other versions.
Bodvar is the closest character to the hero Beowulf, from the Old English poem Beowulf. However, there are numbers of difference. Beowulf was a son of Ecgtheow and an unnamed daughter of King Hrethel of the Geats. Ecgtheow belonged to family known as the Waegmundings. In Beowulf, Beowulf (Bodvar) was Hrothgar’s champion (Hroar’s), not Hrothulf (Hrolf), whereas in Hrolfs saga Kraka and most other literature, Bodvar was a champion of Hrolf, and Bodvar had nothing to do with Hroar.
According to the Hrolfs saga, Bodvar was a son of Bjorn and Bera; he was also a brother of Elk-Frodi and Thorir Hound’s Foot. Bjorn’s father, Hring, was a king of Uppdales. In Beowulf, the hero has no brothers.
Bodvar, along with King Hrolf and Hrolf’s other champions, was killed in the battle against Skuld and Hjorvard.
|King of Denmark. According to Icelandic tradition, especially from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Frodi’s reign marked as the period of peace in the northern kingdoms.
According to both Icelandic Poetic Edda (especially the Grottasong) and Prose Edda, Frodi was a son of Fridleif, so he was often called Fridleifsson, and he was the grandson of Skiold, founder of the Danish royal house on the island of Zealand. And in the Ynglinga Saga, Snorri wrote that Frodi was a son of Dan, and father of Halfdan and Fridleif; this contradict the Prose Edda, which Snorri say that Fridleif was Frodi’s father. And in the Hrolfs saga Kraka, it’s not known who his father was, and Halfdan is his brother. There are no mentions of son or daughter, so one would assume that he died childless.
On the other hand, in the Skjoldunga Saga, Frodi was called Frodo. He was the son of Ingialldus and the father of Halfdanus (Halfdan).
And Saxo called Frodi as Frode, a son of Hadding and Hardgrep, daughter of Wagnhofde. Frode has two sisters, Swanhwid and Ulfhild. Frode was the father of Ro (Hror) and Helge.
In the Hrolfs saga Kraka, his brother, Halfdan was king of Denmark, Frodi murdered his brother to gain the throne. Frodi turned out to be tyrant. He sought unsuccessfully to assassinate Halfdan’s sons, Helgi and Hroar. His young nephews set fire to his palace, and Frodi was killed.
In Grottasong, an Eddaic poem, there’s no hint that Frodi murdered his brother to gain the Danish throne. His reign was marked by a long period of peace in the North, where there were no war and murder. According to Snorri (in the Ynglinga Saga), he was called Frode Mikellati.
|King of Denmark.
According to the Hrolfs saga Kraka, Halfdan was brother of Frodi and father of Helgi and Hroar. His reign didn’t last long, because his brother killed him. But according to the Skjoldunga saga, Frodo (Frodi) was his father, not his brother; his brother was Ingialldus (Old English Ingeld), and it was Ingialldus who murdered him.
In the Old English Beowulf, his name was Healfdene. Healfdene was a son of Beow the Dane and grandson of Scyld Scefing (Skiold), and he was the father of Heorogar, Hrothgar (Hroar), Helga (Helgi), and unnamed daughter who married Onela, the king of Sweden.
|According to the Hrolfs saga Kraka, Helgi was a King of Denmark. The saga also make him the son of Halfdan and brother of Hroar (Old English Hrothgar), and father of Hrolf Kraki and Skuld.
Of the two, Helgi was the more daring than his brother, although he was younger than Hroar. They have managed to escape capture and assassination by their uncle, Frodi, who had murdered their father, and usurpered the throne. With the murder of their father, they were forced to hide with Vifil, and then with their sister, Signy, wife of Jarl Saevil (jarl is actually a title, like earl).
In the Old English Beowulf, Helgi was called Helga. He was the son of Healfdene (Halfdan), and brother of Heorogar, Hrothgar (or Hroðgar, Old Norse Hroar) and unnamed sister. Helga (Helgi) was the father of Hrothulf (Hrolf Kraki).
|King of Denmark from the House of Skjoldung.
Hrolf was the son of Helgi and Yrsa. Helgi and Yrsa were actually father and daughter, but they didn’t know their relationship. He was the half-brother of Skuld.
Hrolf was also the father of Drifa and Skur, but there was never any mention of him being married.
Despite being a wise and generous king, he incurred the enmity of his brother-in-law, Hjorvard, whom he duped into becoming his vassal.
Hrolf had a hound, called Gram. His sword was Skofnung, which was buried with him. It was the same sword that he used to cut Adils’ buttocks.
When his half-sister and her husband, Hjorvard, attacked his capital, Hrolf along with all of his champions fell. Hjorvard was killed too, leaving Skuld as ruler of Denmark. But Vogg, along with brothers of Bodvar, heard the news of their death, raised the army, and retook the capital, and capturing Skuld, whom they tortured to death. The kingdom was given to Hrolf’s daughters.
In the Ynglinga Saga, Hrolf died during the reign of Adils’ son, Eystein, but did not say how. Skuld and Hjorvard were not mentioned.
|The legendary founder of the royal dynasty in Denmark, known as the Skioldungs.
There are variation of spellings. Skiold could be spelt Skjold, Skjöld or Skjöldr in the Old Norse. In Latin, Skioldus, which is found in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum and in the Skjöldunga Saga. In Old English, Skiold is spelt Scyld, where Scyld Scefing, Scefing probably mean son of Scef.
According to the Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson wrote that Skiold was a son of Odin, the Aesir god. And in his other work, Ynglinga Saga (part of the larger Heimskringla), Skiold married the goddess Gefjon. Gefjon was the one who turned 4 giants from Jotunheim (Giantland) into 4 oxen, which she yoked to a gigantic plough. With this plough, she carved the kingdom of King Gylve in the north, into several kingdoms. Skiold dwelled in Leidre with the goddess. The land they settled in was Sealand, or Zealand, the large Danish island. However, Gefjon is not mentioned as Skiold’s wife in Snorri’s Edda. Skiold was the father of Fridleif.
Skiold was also the grandfather of Frodi. From Skiold to Frodi, each was King of Denmark. According to the Hrolfs saga Kraka, however, Frodi was a different king, a cruel tyrant, who murdered his brother, Halfdan. Frodi was burned to death in his fortress, by Helgi’s two sons, Helgi and Hroar. It is not known how Frodi and Halfdan were linked to Skiold in this saga.
However, the Icelandic sources on Skiold and Skioldungs are different to the Danish sources.
In Gesta Danorum, Saxo Grammaticus gave different lineage to Skiold, and different son. Skiold,or Skioldus as he was called in Latin (Saxo wrote his work in Latin), was a son of Lother; Skioldus was grandson of Dan. He wooed Alfhild, daughter of the King of the Saxons, and they had a son, named Gram.
Skioldus (Skiold) was a great hunter and warrior, who killed Attal and Skat. Skat was governor of Allemannia, and rival suitor. Later a great king, who was known for his good rule and law, unlike his father, Lother who was a tyrant. Eventually, when he died, Gram succeeded him.
|The hero in the Gautreks Saga.
Starkad was a son of Storvirk and Unn. Starkad was named after his grandfather, Starkad the Ala-Warrior, and the hero himself was known as Starkad the Old.
Starkad the Ala-Warrior was said to be a giant, who abducted Alfhild, daughter of King Alf.
The Norse god Odin favored Starkad, but Thor hated the hero. For every blessing that Odin bestowed upon Starkad, Thor placed a curse to counterbalance each blessing. One of these blessings and curses, Odin said that Starkad would have a long life of 3 lifespans, but Thor countered with a curse that Starkad would commit a terrible deed in each lifespan. Odin blessed Starkad that he would always be victorious in battle, but Thor cursed the hero that he would always received terrible wounds in each battle.
Starkad’s foster father was Harald. Starkad was a loyal champion, friend and counsellor to King Vikar; Starkad became Vikar’s foster-brother.
|One of Hrolf’s champions. Svipdag played prominent role in the Hrolfs saga Kraki, and there a whole episode of his adventures in the saga.
Svipdag was a son of a farmer, Svip. He was a brother of Hvitserk and Beygad. They all lived on farm, near the one of the mountains in Sweden, and Svipdag wasn’t satisfied being a farmer. He decided to take up service of a king, as a warrior, despite his father trying to dissuade him. At first, he decided to offer his own king – Adils. Svip warned his son that Adils was not a good king; he was a cruel, ungracious and ungenerous king, and worse of all, treacherous.
But on the first day, when he arrived at Adils’ court, he was challenged into a fight with leader of Adils’ berserkers. Svipdag killed the leader, and 3 other berserkers. Adils was angered by Svipdag’s prowess and wanted him killed instead of making Svipdag as his champion. Only Yrsa liked Svipdag, and she welcomed him.
Adils made Svipdag as commander of his army, and banished his berserkers, after death of another berserker. The berserkers raided Adils’ land, so the king sent Svipdag to drive them off, but at the same, Adils hoping for the young hero’s death.
In the last battle, Adils promised aid to Svipdag, but the treacherous king did not turn up with reinforcement. At this time, Svipdag’s two brothers had joined him, and Svipdag was wounded, losing one eye.
When Svipdag’s health and strength returned, he decided to not serve the ungracious and treacherous king, so he returned home with his brothers. Svip still could keep his son home. So upon his father’s advice, Svipdag with his two brothers went to seek services with Hrolf Kraki, Yrsa’s son.
The 3 brothers received better reception with Hrolf, and they served him loyally. Snorri mention all 3 brothers in the Prose Edda, as he list half-dozen of Hrolf’s champions. They joined Hrolf when they went to Adils’ court; Hrolf sought to recover his father’s treasure, which Adils had stolen at Helgi’s death at Adils machination.
Svipdag had also fought the last battle. Skuld, sister of Hrolf, and her husband Hjorvard, invaded Denmark. Although Hrolf and his champions fought valiantly, they were outnumbered, and they were all killed with Hrolf.
Bodvar’s brothers and Vogg avenged their death, by retaking the kingdom, and killing Skuld.
Because Svipdag had lost his eye, he has been compared with the Norse god, Odin. In the Hrolf saga, he appeared to second only to Bodvar Bjarki.
In the Prose Edda, he was one of the 12 champions mentioned. Most of we know of Svipdag is found in the Hrolfs saga Kraki.
|Hero of the Gautreks Saga.
Vikar was a son of King Harald of the Agder Province. His father had a champion, named Storvirk, who was a father of Starkad, so Vikar’s father became Starkad’s foster-father.
His father was killed by Herthjof, king of Hordaland. Herthjof took both Vikar and Starkad as hostages. These two young hostages, became blood-brothers.
|A friend of Hrolf. Vogg was a servant of Yrsa, who was mother of Hrolf, king of Denmark. At the time, Yrsa was married to Adils, king of Sweden, and Vogg was serving Yrsa as her servant and her champion.
In Hrolfs saga Kraki, when Hrolf came to visit his mother in Sweden and asked for his inheritance from his mother, Adils tried to ambushed Hrolf and his twelve champions. After repelling the attack in the palace, Vogg met Hrolf for the first time, and thought that the Danish king looked like a ladder carved from a pole, which was how Hrolf earned the name Kraki, meaning “beanpole”. For this new name, Hrolf gave his gold ring to Vogg, but Vogg had no gift to give to the king. So Vogg promised that if Hrolf was ever killed, he would avenge the king.
The Prose Edda differed from the saga, however, Vogg was a young boy and poor, when he first met Hrolf at in Denmark, when Hrolf was a young king, though the age was not specific. It was this meeting that Vogg gave the king and in return received Hrolf’s gold ring. For this ring, Vogg promised to avenge him if he was ever killed.
When news reached Sweden that Hrolf and his champions were killed, Yrsa sent Vogg to avenge her son’s death, giving him command of the Swedish forces. Vogg and others took the Danish capital and captured Skuld, Hrolf’s half-sister.