63 Bloodaxe Graffiti

Eric Haraldsson, nicknamed ‘Bloodaxe’, was a 10th-century Scandinavian ruler. He is thought to have had short-lived terms as the second king of Norway and as the last independent ruler of the kingdom of Northumbria (c. 947/8–948 and 952–5).

Eric's soubriquet blóðøx ‘Bloodaxe’ or 'Bloody-axe' is of uncertain origin and context. It is doubtful whether its preservation in two lausavísur by Egill Skallagrímsson and a contemporary skald genuinely dates to the 10th century or had been inserted at some stage when Eric was becoming the focus of legend.[7] There is no guarantee that it significantly predates the 12th-century narrative tradition, where it is first attached to him in Ágrip and in Latin translation as sanguinea securis in the Historia Norwegiæ.[8] The sagas usually explain it as referring to Eric's slaying of his half-brothers in a ruthless struggle to monopolise his rule over Norway. Theodoricus gives the similar nickname fratrum interfector (killer of brothers).[9] Fagrskinna, on the other hand, ascribes it to Eric's violent reputation as a Viking raider.


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