Rognvaldr is given the title "jarl of Møre" (in Norway) in late sources, as discussed below. Since there appears to be contemporary testimony that his son Þórir held this title, there is a reasonable possibility that Rognvaldr did also.
Date of Birth: Unknown.
Place of Birth: Unknown.
Date of Death: Probably early tenth century, apparently killed
by Hálfdan, son of king Haraldr hárfagri.
(see Commentary section)
Place of Death: Unknown.
(see Commentary section)
Spouse: (see Commentary)
Children: (see Commentary)
Þórir, jarl of Møre.
Hrólfr, often (but dubiously) identified with Rollo of Normandy. See the discussion below and on Rollo's page.
Hrollaugr, an Icelandic settler.
Torf-Einarr, jarl of Orkney.
See Commentary for supposed additional children.
Rognvaldr is an extremely obscure individual, and most of what is said about him is legendary, coming from Icelandic sources that are well over two centuries removed from the time that he lived. However, at least a kernel appears to be historical. The best evidence that Rognvaldr existed is a skaldic poem said to have been written by his son Torf-Einarr to commemorate his killing of Hálfdan, son of king Harald Hárfagri. This poem scolds Hrólfr, Hrollaugr, and Þórir (explicitly called a jarl in the poem, with indications that his seat was Møre) for not taking part in the revenge, and refers to Einarr's killing of the king's son in the Islands. If the poem (and the attribution of its authorship) can be regarded as genuine, this at least indicates that Rognvaldr and four of his sons can be regarded as historical (as well as the manner of Rognvald's death and Einarr's revenge). However, it should be pointed out that nothing in the poem justifies the doubtful identification of Rognvald's son Hrólfr with the famous Rollo of Normandy. See the page on Rollo of Normandy for further discussion.
Supposed father: Eysteinn Glumra (of dubious historicity). Genealogies in late Icelandic sources make Rognvaldr a son of Eysteinn Glumra, son of Ívarr, son of Hálfdan the Old [OI 1: 187 (from Landnáamabók iv.14.1); OrkS 3]. These sources are not independent, but depend on each other in a way that is not entirely clear. Given the general unreliability of the Scandinavian saga sources for such an early period, there is no good reason to believe that Eysteinn or the earlier generations are historical.
Supposed wife: Ragnhildr or Hildr. Said by the late Icelandic sources to be a daughter of Hrólfr Nefja, and mother of Þórir, Hrólfr, and Ívarr (the other sons were supposedly illegitimate) [See OI 1: 187 (from Landnáamabók iv.14.1), OrkS 4]. A skaldic poem attributed to Hildr, said to have been written in respose to her son Hrólfr being outlawed, mentioned the name Nefja [CPB 372-3], but does not confirm any connection to Rognvaldr.
Supposed additional children:
In addition to the four children who appear to be confirmed by the poem attributed to Torf-Einarr, the later sources give Rognvaldr two additional children who are not mentioned in this poem:
Ívarr, said to be by Ragnhildr.
Hallaðr, said to be illegitimate.
Spelling note: The "o" in Rognvaldr's name should be an "o-hook" (an "o" with a small right-facing hook on the bottom), but it has been represented here as an ordinary "o" due to the inability of many browsers to display the correct letter.
CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powell, ed. & trans., Corpus Poeticum Boreale, 2 vols., (New York, 1965).
OI = Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powell, ed. & trans., Origines Islandicae, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1905).
OrkS = Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards, ed. & trans., Orkneyinga Saga (London, 1978). Citation is by chapter, with the page number in parentheses.
Compiled by Stewart Baldwin
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