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Early Kings of Norway

Early Kings of Norway by Thomas Carlyle
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“The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives (Sagas, literally “Says”) as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations. Snorro Sturleson’s History of the Norse Kings is built out of these old Sagas; and has in it a great deal of poetic fire,. . . and deserves to be reckoned among the great history-books of the world. It is from these sources that the following rough notes of the early Norway Kings are hastily thrown together.” (Excerpted from Thomas Carlyle’s preface by Karen Merline)

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EARLY KINGS OF NORWAY.

by Thomas Carlyle

Transcriber's Note: The text has been taken from volume 19 of the "Sterling Edition" of Carlyle's complete works. All footnotes have been collected as endnotes. The pound (currency) symbol has been replaced by the word "pounds".

The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship, says Dahlmann. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives ( Sagas , literally "Says") as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations. Snorro Sturleson's History of the Norse Kings is built out of these old Sagas; and has in it a great deal of poetic fire, not a little faithful sagacity applied in sifting and adjusting these old Sagas; and, in a word, deserves, were it once well edited, furnished with accurate maps, chronological summaries, &c... Continue reading book >>


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