Charlemagne in the Norse and Celtic Worlds

Helen Fulton, Sif Rikhardsdottir

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The reception of the Charlemagne legends among Nordic and Celtic communities in the Middle Ages is a shared story of transmission, translation, an exploration of national identity, and the celebration of imperialism. The articles brought together here capture for the first time the richness of the Charlemagne tradition in medieval Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Wales and Ireland and its coherence as a series of adaptations of Old French chansons de geste.

Emerging from the French sources is a set of themes which unite the linguistically different Norse and Celtic Charlemagne traditions. The ideology of the Crusades, the dichotomy of Christian and heathen elements, the values of chivalry and the ideals of kingship are among the preoccupations common to both traditions. While processes of manuscript transmission are distinctive to each linguistic context, the essential function of the legends as explorations of political ideology, emotion, and social values creates unity across the language groups. From the Old Norse Karlamagnús saga to the Irish and Welsh narratives, the chapters present a coherent set of perspectives on the northern reception of the Charlemagne legends beyond the nation of England.

Contributors: Massimiliano Bampi, Claudia Bornholdt, Aisling Byrne, Luciana Cordo Russo, Helen Fulton, Jon Paul Heyne, Susanne Kramarz-Bein, Erich Poppe, Annalee C. Rejhon, Sif Rikhardsdottir, Hélène Tétrel.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages260
ISBN (Electronic)9781800108646
ISBN (Print)9781843846680
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameBristol Studies in Medieval Cultures

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