Monday, December 15, 2014

Ragnvald (or Rognvald) "the Mountain-High" Olafsson

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 Ragnvald (or Rognvald) "the Mountain-High" Olafsson was a petty king of Vestfold in what is today Norway. He was the son of Olaf Geirstad-Alf.

 His greatest contribution to posterity was that he asked the skald Þjóðólfr of Hvinir to compose a poem about his ancestry. This poem is known as Ynglingatal and is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the most famous and debated of the Old Norse poems.

 Þjóðólfr ended the poem with these lines:

     Under the heaven's blue dome, a name
     I never knew more true to fame
     Than Rognvald bore; whose skilful hand
     Could tame the scorners of the land, --
     Rognvald, who knew so well to guide
     The wild sea-horses through the tide:
     The "Mountain-high" was the proud name
     By which the king was known to fame.

 The 13th century history Heimskringla, which used Ynglingatal as a source but contains much additional material that is not considered reliable, makes him a cousin of Harald Fairhair, while late and dubious pedigree material assigns him a daughter Åsa Ragnvaldsdatter (Aseda Rognvaldsdatter), who married Eystein Ivarsson. As a purported ancestor to William the Conqueror, it would be through this connection with Ivarsson that the current British royal family traces its roots all the way back to the Yngling bloodline mentioned in, among other sources, Beowulf.
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