Article

Old Norse-Icelandic Sagas

Jana K. Schulman

in Medieval Studies


Published online January 2014 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0090

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
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Medieval Iceland produced vernacular prose narratives of various sorts from the early 12th century through the 14th century. These narratives, called sagas, fall into groupings, for lack of a better term, based on their subject matter and/or their generic features. For the most part, scholars recognize saints’ lives, which tell of the lives of holy men and women; bishops’ sagas (biskupasögur), which narrate the lives of Iceland’s bishops; kings’ sagas, which tell of Norway’s kings and Icelanders’ interactions with those kings (konungasögur); the sagas that tell of Icelandic settlers and their descendants who lived between 930 and 1050 (íslendingasögur); sagas of mythical heroes and heroines (fornaldarsögur); sagas of knights and tales of chivalry, often translated from European languages into Icelandic (riddarasögur); and contemporary sagas, which tell of 13th-century men and the authors’ own society.

Article.  20655 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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