Norse and Icelandic Sagas

    Sagas are long narratives that appeared in Norway, Iceland and other parts of Scandinavia during the middle ages.  These stories were passed down orally for many generations prior to being transcribed in the 13th century.  Many sagas were written in a objective style that led some early historians to believe they were historically accurate.  When later research revealed that the sagas made use fictitious situations vaguely grounded on some remote historical reality, historians tended to reject them completely.

    While the value of the sagas as accurate history must certainly be questioned, it should also be remembered that the names and spirit of the history represents the knowledge of a person many centuries closer to the truth than we are to-day.

A 14th century manuscript of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda
Page from Prose Edda This book of ancient Scandinavian literature was compiled by Snorri Sturluson about 1222.

Other sagas include the Elder Edda or Codex Regius and the Heimskringla which chronicles the Kings of Norway. The Eddas are invaluable sources on pre-Christian Scandinavian culture.  Equally important is the Saga of Erik the Red and the Greenlanders' Saga.

One of the best known sagas in Grettis, which follows the adventures of Grettir, an Icelandic outlaw who battles a monster called Glamr, not unlike the Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf.

Generation One
Radbard, King in Russia
    In the early middle ages, the land known to-day as Russia was composed of a number of small city states, and it is to be imagined that Radbard established himself as "king" of one of these cities.  However, historical evidence indicates that Scandinavians such as Radbard journeyed to Russia circa 850, and most certainly no earlier that 800.  It is difficult to reconcile this fact with the concept that Radbard's great X2 grandson is said to be the historical figure Ivar "the Boneless" Ragnarsson, who became King of Dublin in 856.  See Generation Four below for mention of Ivar "the Boneless" Ragnarsson.

However, according to legend, Radbard had a son:

Viking ShipGeneration Two
Randver Radbardsson who had a son:

Generation Three
Sigurd Ring who had a son:

Generation Four
Ragnar Lodbrock, who is mentioned in Snorre's Sturluson's Saga "the Icelandic Landnamobok" or "Book of Settlement". However, most historians regard much of the genealogy at this point to be purely legendary, or even mythical.

Ragnar married to Aslaug Sigurdsdottir, daughter of Sigurd Wolsung and they had the following children:

Some sources attempt to explain Ivar's unusual name "the Boneless" as an indication that he suffered since birth from a genetic disorder that resulted in either very soft gristle-like bones or very brittle, easily broken bones that leave one unable to walk. This idea is thought to have come from the Old Norse "inn beinlaussi" which means "without bones" or even "without legs." This may have been a mishearing of "inn barnlausi" which means "without children" - - - Ivar didn't have any children. Alternatively, perhaps the Latin "exosus" or "hateful" was misheard as "exos" or "boneless." Regardless, it is entirely unlikely that in the brutally practical world of 9th century Scandinavia that a handicapped person would have survived, let alone led Viking armies into battle.
. . . Justin Pollard: Alfred the Great, John Murray Publishers, London, 2005, pages 89 & 90.

With regard to Ivar's position as "King of Dublin", the World Book Millenium 2000 Deluxe Edition, © 1999 World Book Inc., © IBM Corp. tells us:  "Vikings established Dublin in the mid-800's, though a small settlement had previously been on the site.  The Viking town was named Dublin, from the Irish words dubh, meaning black; and linn, meaning pool.  The name may refer to a pool of dark water in a branch of the River Liffey.  The branch is now filled in by land."

Generation Five
Sigurd "Snake-in-Eye" Ragnarson who had the following children:

Generation Six
Tora Sigurdsdottir who married Ragnvald Gudrodssoof Agder and they had a daughter:

Generation Seven
Ascrida Ragnvaldsdottir who married Eystein "the Noisy" Glumra, Jarl of the Uplanders

For the continuation of this line, please click on Eystein "the Noisy" Glumra.

The information on this page is drawn from the following sources:

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