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Posts Tagged ‘Konungs skuggsjá. The Kings Mirror’

The Kings Mirror

© Johansson Inger E, Greenland and the Greenlanders, the ”Missing people” manuscript 2000-01.

Background
Konungs skuggsjá, latin Speculum Regale written as an Medieval Age Schoolbook for King Magnus Lagabøte’s sons 1250/1260 AD. English title The Kings Mirror

What’s interesting is that the author, some say that it was Archbishop Einar Gunnarsson, show good skills in astronomy, teology, geography as well as early Norwegian and Foreign Litterature up to 1200’s. The book is written using methods we today call Didaktic methods</em. The author tells in detail using a dialoge form about humans and animals living on the other side of the Globe, the other side the Atlantic and also talks about Antipods

In the dialoge there are lots of information given indicating a good knowledge from north western Canada, Hudson Bay area to Greenland fishing and hunting. Good knowledge of how large farms on Greenland was. Information confirmed in our days thru Archaeologic excavations in North America, Islands north west of Greenland and of course in Greenland as well as Labrador.

dialoge in chapter 18
Son. You stated earlier in your talk that no grain grows in that country; therefore I now want to ask you what the people who inhabit the land live on, how large the population is, what sort of food they have, and whether they have accepted Christianity.
Father. The people in that country are few, for only a small part is sufficiently free from ice to be habitable; but the people are all Christians and have churches and priests. If the land lay near to some other country it might be reckoned a third of a bishopric; but the Greenlanders now have their own bishop, as no other arrangement is possible on account of the great distance from other people. You ask what the inhabitants live on in that country since they sow no grain; but men can live on other food than bread. It is reported that the pasturage is good and that there are large and fine farms in Greenland. The farmers raise cattle and sheep in large numbers and make butter and cheese in great quantities. The people subsist chiefly on these foods and on beef; but they also eat the flesh of various kinds of game, such as reindeer, whales, seals, and bears. That is what men live on in that country.”

COMMENT:
Please note the good knowledge the Author of the book had of everyday life in Greenland in mid 1200’s.
Information given confirmed by Rousell A, Farms and churches in the Medieval Norse settlement of Greenland, Meddelelser of Grönland 86(1) as well as
The Roman Church in Norse Greenland, editor G F Bigelow, ”The Norse of the North Atlantic, Acta Archaeologica 61(1991) page 142-150 Köpenhamn

Example:
source: McGovern Thomas H, Bones, Building and Boundaries: Palaeoeconomic Approaches to Norse Greenland, page 213
‘Table 6 Floor area of selected structures of farms of the Eastern and Western Settlements’

Sandnes (W51)
hall in the main building 72 m²
barn 84 m²
storage barn 155 m²

Anavik (W7)
hall in the main building of unknown size
barn/stables 50 m²
storage barn 54 m²
magazine 38 m²

Also confirmed by
Bardarson Ivar, Det gamle Grönlands beskrivelse, Finnur Jonsons edition 1930 (Ivar Bardarson was a monk/priest who in 1340’s was first time was sent to Greenland and lived there some years. Later he lived in Norway before he was sent on a mission to collect tithes from the dioceses under Gardar See. He sailed in late 1350’s returned and delivered the tithes from among other the Crossnes diocese to a Papal delegate visiting Bergen in spring/early summer 1364.
For more information re Crossnes please read Early American History – now forgotten part 2

Information regarding the cheese production is confirmed due to cheese and butter being one of Greenlands export products to Europé up to early 1400’s. Among other documented in books from Queen Margaretha I:s ”fatabur”.

Short but essential information given in ”Kings Mirror”
” There is another kind called the Greenland shark, which is peculiar in this, that it has caul and fat in the abdomen like cattle. The largest of these whales grow to a length of thirty ells at most. ”

Comment: The Greenland shark was and still is common in water from northwestern Canada to Greenland.
Parts from Greenland shark was exported to Europeé together with ivory from Walrus. All documented in shipsdocuments and harbor papers in Orkney and England.

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