Thursday, 10 September 2009

Characters in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon SeriesUlf, Sigefid,and Eric

The meaning of the name Ulf is Wolf
The origin of the name Ulf is German
Ulf is a male name common in Scandinavia and Germany. It derives from the Old Norse word for "wolf" (úlfr). The oldest written proof of the name's occurrence in Sweden is from a runestone from the 11th Century. The female form is Ylva.
Ulf is a relatively common name among men between 30 and 60 but is mostly used as a second name today.

Ulf Fase (died 1247) was the jarl of Sweden c 1221-47. His nickname "Fase" (sometimes written Fasi) has not been convincingly explained but may indict "The Dreadful". Ulf belonged to the House of Bjelbo.
After jarl Charles the Deaf had been killed during a Swedish attack against Estonians in 1220, Ulf as his closest relative was soon selected as the new jarl. An ephemeral jarl may have served briefly before Ulf's appointment. Before the death of king John I of Sweden in 1222, Ulf certainly held the office. He is presumed to have been a son of the late jarl Charles.
In 1222, the rival dynasty's young heir, Eric XI of Sweden, ascended the throne at the age of 6. His minority meant that jarl Ulf gained more importance along with Knut the Tall. However, the nominal regent was Bengt Birgersson, Ulf's cousin.
In 1229, Canute usurped the throne and exiled the young Eric. However, Ulf continued to hold the position of jarl. Upon Canute's death in 1234, king Eric, now 18, was restored to the throne. His supporters did not appreciate Ulf's "treachery" in accepting an usurper over Eric five years earlier. Ulf however was too powerful to be deposed from his office.
There are clear records to show that Ulf Fase had the right to mint money, an otherwise exclusively royal prerogative. Several pieces of such coins, bearing his signs, are preserved.
In 1247, there was an attempted coup against king Eric. The rebels were crushed at the Battle of Sparrsätra. Sources do not reveal whether Ulf was already dead at that time, or if alive, what was his role in the revolt. It has been speculated that he participated in the revolt and was therefore executed. Nevertheless, several rebel leaders were beheaded in 1247-48, including Canute's son Holmger Knutsson. After Ulf's death, the office of jarl was held by his relative Birger Magnusson, better known as Birger jarl.
Ulf Fase left one well-attested son, Karl Ulfsson, also known as "junker Karl". Young Karl had bad relations with Birger jarl. Karl went later to voluntary exile by joining Teutonic Knights in Livonia. Karl was killed in 1260 at a battle near Riga in Courland, unmarried.

Ulf was the son of Thorgils Sprakalägg, who is claimed to have been the son of Styrbjörn the Strong, a scion of the Swedish royal house, by Tyra, the daughter of king Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. However, Thorgils' parentage may have been invented to glorify the royal dynasty founded by Ulf's son, Sweyn Estridson.
Ulf joined Cnut the Great's expedition to England. In c. 1015, he married Cnut's sister Estrid[1] and was appointed the Jarl of Denmark, which he ruled when Cnut was absent. He was also the foster-father of Cnut's son Harthacnut.
When the Swedish king Anund Jakob and the Norwegian king Saint Olaf took advantage of Cnut's absence and attacked Denmark, Ulf convinced the freemen to elect Harthacnut king, since they were discontented at Cnut's absenteeism. This was a ruse on Ulf's part since his role as the Harthacnut's guardian would make him the ruler of Denmark.
When Cnut learnt of what had happened in 1026, he returned to Denmark and with Earl Ulf's help, defeated the Swedes and the Norwegians at the Battle of the Helgeå. Ulf's assistance did not, however, cause Cnut to forgive Ulf for his coup.[2] At a banquet in Roskilde, the two brothers-in-law were playing chess and started arguing with each other. The next day, the Christmas of 1026, Cnut had one of his Housecarls kill Earl Ulf in Trinity Church, the predecessor of Roskilde Cathedral. However, accounts contradict each other.
Ulf was the father of Sweyn Estridson, and thus the progenitor of the royal house that would rule Denmark from 1047 to 1375.

1. M. K. Lawson, Cnut: England's Viking King (2004), p. 94, says that the identification of Ulf with the husband of Estrith (Estrid) is commonly made but not certain.
2. Havhingsten fra Glendalough: The battle of the throne of England

Origin: Germanic Meaning: Powerful silence; peaceful victory

Name Sigefrid of Luxemburg
Death 998
Occupation Count of Luxemburg, acceded: 963
Father Wigeric of Luxemburg
Spouses Unmarried
Children Henry I Siegfridson 2 Hedwig, 1C31R Father St. Stephen I of Hungary King of Hungary (969-1038) Mother Giselle of Bavaria (-1033)

Siegfried is a strong hero in the Nibelungenlied, a epic poem written about the year 1200. He killed the dragon Fafnir and took its treasure, the Nibelungenschatz. After killing the dragon, he bathed in its blood and so changed his skin, so that he could not be wounded any more.
But a leaf fell from a linden tree above while he was bathing and landed on his back, and the little patch of skin that it covered did not touch the dragon's blood, so that Siegfried remained vulnerable (he could be hurt) in that one spot.
Siegfried wants to marry Kriemhild, the sister of Gunther, kin of the Burgundians in Worms. But before he is allowed to marry her he has to help Gunther to win against Brünhild, the queen of Iceland. He does it with the help of a cloak which lets him become invisible.
After their marriage Siegfried and Kriemhild live in Siegfried's kingdom for some years. Then they come to visit Worms and Kriemhild's family again. Brünhild, the wife of Gunther, and Kriemhild argue about who is of higher rank. Now Kriemhild tells Brünhild that Siegfried helped Gunther in his fight against her and that he gave a proof of this victory to Kriemhild. Therefore Brünhild becomes so furious that she decides that Siegfried must be killed. This is done by Hagen, one of Gunther's men, while Siegfried is drinking from a well during a hunt in the Odenwald. Hagen also takes the treasure of Siegfried from Kriemhild and throws it into the Rhine.

The name Siegfried in German means "victory peace".
Siegfried appears in two of the four operas in Wagner's Ring cycle: the third opera is called Siegfried and the fourth one is called Götterdämmerung although originally Wagner called it "Siegfrieds Tod" ("The Death of Siegfried"). Wagner makes several changes to the story.

Title page from 1891 edition of the book Eric, or, Little by Little, whose popularity is credited with increasing the use of the name Eric.

Gender: Masculine
Usage: English, French, Swedish
Pronounced: ER-ik (English), er-EEK (French)
From the Old Norse name Eiríkr, derived from the elements ei "ever" and ríkr "ruler". A notable bearer was Eiríkr inn Rauda (Eric the Red in English), a 10th-century navigator and explorer who discovered Greenland. This was also the name of several early kings of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.This common Norse name was first brought to England by Danish settlers during the Anglo-Saxon period. It was not popular in England in the Middle Ages, but it was revived in the 19th-century, in part due to the children's novel 'Eric, or Little by Little' (1858) by Frederic William Farrar

Eric the Red from Arngrímur Jónsson's Gronlandia. Note anachronistic details in his weapons and armor.
Erik the Red (950–c. 1003) (Old Norse: Eiríkr rauði; Icelandic: Eiríkur rauði; Norwegian: Eirik Raude; Danish: Erik den Røde; Swedish: Erik Röde; Faroese: Eirikur (hin) reyði) founded the first Nordic settlement in Greenland. Born in the Jæren district of Rogaland, Norway, as the son of Þorvaldr Ásvaldsson (Thorvald Asvaldsson), he therefore also appears, patronymically, as Erik Thorvaldsson (or as Eiríkr Þorvaldsson). The appellation "the Red" most likely refers to his hair colour.

Erik the Red's parents had to flee Norway because of "some killings" as The Saga of Erik the Red recounts. The family settled in western Iceland. The Icelanders later sentenced Erik to a three-year exile for several murders around the year 982. According to The Saga of Erik the Red, his neighbour Thorgest borrowed a shovel and when it did not come back to Erik, he sought an explanation. When Thorgest refused to return it, Erik stole the shovel back. In the ensuing chase, he killed Thorgest. A second crime laid at Erik's door occurred when he insisted upon revenge for the deaths of his slaves who had "accidentally started a landslide" on Valthjof's farm. Valthjof murderously punished the slaves for this misfortune. Erik did not take kindly to this and so slew Valthjof. The Icelanders eventually convicted Erik of these murders and banished him from Iceland. This event led him and a group of followers to travel to the lands nearly 500 miles west of Iceland. Historical Figure: Eric the Red is an important historical figure for the Vikings because he was the first European to fully explore Greenland. Eric the Red brought approximately 500 settlers with him to Greenland, in the famous Viking longboats. The settlers faced a number of trials, such as a population explosion followed by a quick decrease in population.

Eric the Red (950?-1003 or 1004?) was a Viking explorer who was the first European in Greenland. He sailed from Iceland in 982 and led a group of colonists to Greenland in 986. Eric the Red (also called Erik Thorvaldson, Eirik Raude, or Eirik Torvaldsson) was born in Norway, but his family settled in western Iceland, after his father, Thorvald Asvaldsson, was banished for murdering a man. Eric later killed two men in Iceland and was banished from Iceland for three years.
After hearing of the discovery by Gunnbjorn Olfsson of some islands that lay west of Iceland, Eric decided to sail to these islands during his banishment. With a crew, he sailed due west from from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in 982. He found Gunnbjorn's islands (off eastern Greenland near what is now Angmagssalik) and then landed on the coast of eastern Greenland. He named this harsh place Midjokull (which means "middle glacier"). Eric then sailed south and rounded the southern tip of Greenland (Cape Farewell). He again landed on the southwestern coast (this area would later be called Eystribygd, meaning the Eastern Settlement). After spending the winter on "Erik's Island," he sailed up Erik's fjord. He spent the two following winters at the southern tip of Greenland, exploring the area.

In 985, Eric's banishment from Iceland was over, so he returned to Breidafjord, Iceland. He called this new land Greenland (even though it was covered with ice) to make it sound nicer than it was and encourage settlement (Eric was feuding with many people on Iceland and wanted to start a new settlement without his enemies). Eric and 400 to 500 settlers in 14 ships arrived to settle Greenland in 986. They settled in Brattahlid (now called Julianehåb), the Eastern Settlement and Godthab (or Nuuk), the Western Settlement. After doing well for a while, the settlements experienced unusually cold weather. Some of the settlers returned to Iceland (the last recorded voyage between Iceland and Greenland was in 1410), but the rest of the settlers disappeared. It is thought that either the Inuit people attacked the settlers or they died from epidemics and starvation.
Eric had a daughter, Freydis, and three sons, the explorer Leif Ericsson, Thorvald, and Thorsteinn. Eric died sometime during the winter of 1003-1004.
The Vikings used long wooden ships (called knorrs); these ships had a large, square sail on a central mast.
Even though popular history credits Erik as the first person to find Greenland, earlier Norsemen both discovered and tried to settle it before him. Tradition credits Gunnbjörn Ulfsson (also known as Gunnbjörn Ulf-Krakuson) with the first sighting of the land-mass. Nearly a century earlier, strong winds had driven Gunnbjörn towards a land he called "Gunnbjarnarsker" ("Gunnbjörn's skerries"). But the accidental nature of Gunnbjörn's discovery has led to his neglect in the history of Greenland. After Gunnbjörn, Snaebjörn Galti had also visited Greenland. According to records from the time, Galti headed the first Norse attempt to colonize Greenland, an attempt that ended in disaster. Erik the Red was the first permanent European settler.
In this context, about 982, Erik sailed to a somewhat mysterious and little-known land. He rounded the southern tip of the island (later known as Cape Farewell) and sailed up the western coast. He eventually reached a part of the coast that, for the most part, seemed ice-free and consequently had conditions—similar to those of Iceland—that promised growth and future prosperity. According to the Saga of Erik the Red, he spent his three years of exile exploring this land. He named this land "Greenland" because he wanted to attract other people to it. The first winter he spent on the island of Eiriksey, the second winter he passed in Eiriksholmar (close to Hvarfsgnipa). In the final summer he explored as far north as Snaefell and in to Hrafnsfjord.
When Erik returned to Iceland after his term of banishment had expired, he brought with him stories of "Greenland". Erik deliberately gave the land a more appealing name than "Iceland" in order to lure potential settlers. He explained, "people would be attracted to go there if it had a favorable name". Ultimately, though, he did this to gain favour among people, as he knew that the success of any settlement in Greenland would need the support of as many people as possible. His salesmanship proved successful, as many people (especially "those Vikings living on poor land in Iceland" and those that had suffered a "recent famine") became convinced that Greenland held great opportunity.
After spending the winter in Iceland, Erik returned to Greenland in 985 with a large number of colonists and established two colonies on its southwest coast: the Eastern Settlement or Eystribyggð, in modern-day Qaqortoq, and the Western Settlement or Vestribyggð, close to present-day Nuuk. (Eventually, a Middle Settlement grew up, but many people suggest this settlement formed part of the Western Settlement.) The Eastern and Western Settlements, both established on the southwest coast, proved the only two areas suitable for farming. During the summers, when the weather conditions favored travel more, each settlement would send an army of men to hunt in Disko Bay above the Arctic Circle for food and other valuable commodities such as seals (used for rope), ivory from Walrus tusks, and beached whales (if they had good luck). In these expeditions, they probably encountered the Inuit (Eskimo) people, who had not yet moved into southern Greenland.

Eric's Runestone, Sparlosastenen

In Eystribyggð, Erik built the estate Brattahlíð, near present-day Narsarsuaq, for himself. He held the title of paramount chieftain of Greenland and became both greatly respected and wealthy. The settlement venture involved twenty-five ships, fourteen of which made the journey successfully; of the other eleven, some turned back, while others disappeared at sea.
The settlement flourished, growing to 5000 inhabitants spread over a considerable area along Eriksfjord and neighboring fjords. Groups of immigrants escaping overcrowding in Iceland joined the original party. However, one group of immigrants which arrived in 1002 brought with it an epidemic that ravaged the colony, killing many of its leading citizens, including Erik himself. Nevertheless, the colony rebounded and survived until the Little Ice Age made the land marginal for European life-styles in the 15th century (shortly before Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Canary Islands in 1492). Pirate raids, conflict with Inuit moving into the Norse territories, and the colony's abandonment by Norway became other factors in its decline.

Erik's descendants
History records that Erik the Red and his wife Þjóðhildr (Thjodhildr) had four children: a daughter, Freydís, and three sons, the explorer Leif Eiríksson, Þorvald (Thorvald) and Þorsteinn (Thorstein). Erik himself remained a follower of Norse paganism, unlike his son Leif and Leif's wife, who built the first Christian church in the Americas on their farm. (Despite speculation, it seems unlikely that Leif pioneered the introduction of Christianity to Greenland.)
While not the first to sight the North American continent, Leif Erikson became the first Viking to explore the land of Vinland (part of North America in modern-day Newfoundland). Leif invited his father on the voyage, but according to legend Erik fell off his horse on his way to the ship and took this as a bad sign, leaving his son to continue without his company. Erik died the winter after his son's departure. Leif was unaware of his father's death until he got back to Greenland.

Norse settlement in Greenland
For much of the time that the Norse survived in Greenland, they had a very tough life that demanded finding a balance between maintaining population-levels and finding enough food and supplies to survive. Most of the time they had just enough supplies to continue their societies. Despite the Norse settlers' constant struggle, at Norse Greenland's peak at c. 1126 the inhabitants numbered between 2000 and 4000. The Eastern Settlement had around "190 small farms, 12 parish churches, a cathedral, an Augustinian monastery and a Benedictine nunnery". Even though smaller than the Eastern Settlement, the Western Settlement still had "90 farms and four churches", while the smallest Middle Settlement had only around "20 farms". Despite enjoying what some might consider a reasonable amount of time on Greenland in conjunction with varying times of successes and failures, the Norse settlement in Greenland did not last more than 500 years. Jared Diamond gives a rationale for this, as have others. He presents a five-step process that explains the collapse of civilizations and offers Greenland as an example of this process.
The Norse had found a "virgin" piece of land that they altered in ways they believed would bring the greatest reward but which in fact damaged their environment. Then too, they had become separated from their kin in Europe for so long that most of their friendships and alliances had fallen away, hurting some of their trading and eventual protection; political changes in Europe hastened this process. Perhaps more significantly, a change in climate in the North Atlantic led to an increase in sea-ice, making communication with Europe difficult, and favoring migrations of the Inuit from northern Greenland to the south and to regular contact with the Norse, leading to violence between the groups. Finally, and most importantly, the Norse failed to adapt fully to their surroundings. They clung too much to familiar ways of living that proved ultimately unsuitable in Greenland.
Despite the apparent failure of the Norse Greenland colonies, they mark one of the great achievements in Norse expansion and exploration.

The boy's name Erik \e-rik\ is a variant of Aric (Old Norse), Eric (Old Norse) and Frederick (Old German), and the meaning of Erik is "forever or alone, ruler; peaceful ruler".
The given name Eric is derived from the Old Norse name Eiríkr. The first element, ei- is derived from the older Proto-Norse *ainaz meaning "one" or "alone".[ The second element -ríkr either derives from *rík(a)z meaning "ruler" or "prince" (cf. Gothic reiks) or from an even older Proto-Germanic *ríkiaz which meant "powerful" and "rich".
The most common spelling in Scandinavia is Erik. In Norway, an older form of the name is Eirik is also commonly used . In Finland, the form Erkki is also used. The modern Icelandic version is Eiríkur.
Although the name was in use in Anglo-Saxon Britain, its use was reinforced by Scandinavian settlers arriving before the Norman Invasion. It was an uncommon name in England until the Middle Ages, when it gained popularity, and finally became a common name in the 19th century. This was partly because of the publishing of the novel Eric, or, Little by Little by Frederick William Farrer in 1858. The Erik spelling is traditional in Scandinavia. Eric is used in French, and in Germany Erich and Erik are both used.
The official name day for Erik and Eirik is May 18 in Sweden and Norway.
The Israeli name Arik, officially a shortening of "Ariel" or "Aryeh" and especially known as the nickname of former PM Ariel Sharon, is often considered to be actually an attempted Hebrew emulation of the European "Eric".

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