[ANSTHRLD] Norse matronymics

C. L. Ward gunnora at vikinganswerlady.org
Sat Mar 9 19:39:42 PST 2002

>Is there any information on why these men in particular used
>matronymics in Norse culture?  The three explanations I can think of
>- no known father
>- the mother was of note, perhaps of much higher status or importance
>  than the father (e.g., I think Svein Estridhson inherited the throne
>  via his mother or something)
>- just because they liked to

It's hard to tell on the Icelandic guys - several were court skalds for the
kings of Norway, and the incidence of the matronymics is fairly closely
grouped in a single quarter of Iceland where (perhaps) there was a little
more Swedish settlement.  Barthi Guthmundsson makes a big deal out of all
this, and he's really suggesting that it's a cultural thing imported by this
group of settlers.

The problem, of course, is that we don't usually get an explanation of the
name...  I think that the case would be either the mother being of higher
status, or the father having died and the common usage was in reffering to
the child by the surviving parent's name.

I need to go and dig in Lind "Binamn" and see what the main body of examples
there looks like... I had info on that by way of Talan as opposed to having
read it myself.


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