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Manuscript Heimskringla Snorri Sturluson



Lived: ca. ?-973 

House: ?

Familyson of the Hers Tore Hroaldsson

From: Firdafylke and Arntrud

RoleNorwegian skald and warrior. Jarl of Firdafylke

Alliance to: Erik Bloodax, Gunhild Gormsson and Harald Grayfell/Gråfell. Close friend to Egil Skallagrimson

Enemy to: Hakon Adalsteinsfostre (The good/Den gode)

Figures in: The Battle of Hals


Arinbjörn Herse was from a good family of skalds because his mother Arntrud, according to the Landnamsboken, was the granddaughter of the skald Brage the Old and his wife Lopthöna, Erp the Leaning's daughter. Arinbjörn was a faithful follower of King Erik Blodyx and followed him into exile to England when Hakon Adalsteinsfostre (The good/Den gode) expelled him from Norway. After Erik's death, he joined Harald Grayfell/Gråfell and participated in his expedition to Denmark, where he fell in the battle of Hals in 973. This is mentioned in Olav Tryggvason's saga in Heimskringla. Most of what is known today about Arinbjörn can otherwise be read in Egil's saga. Namely, Arinbjörn was the poet Egil Skallagrimsson's best friend and saved him from many difficulties. Most well known is the episode when Egil in Jorvik (today's York) had fallen into Erik Blodyx's hands. Egil had killed Erik's son Ragnvald and the king had good reason to take revenge. Arinbjörn, who was King Erik's confidant, then advised Egil to compose a ransom, after which he persuaded the king - and threats - to agree to a temporary settlement.

About Arinbjörn's position with Harald Grayfell/Gråfäll, the following is written in Egil's saga: "He was chief of both the army and the country guard, was a mighty warrior and always victorious. He had the county of Firðir as his own county." In addition, he was the king's advisor. In other words, he was not just any herse; in practice he was the closest thing to an earl.

Some of Arinbjörn's own poems have not been preserved. He has, however, received an epithet in the Kväde to Arinbjörn written by his friend Egil Skallagrimsson on kviðuháttr, of which 25 stanzas have been preserved.

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