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Marsk Stig

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-08-13. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-11-16.

Erik V "Klipping", the royal murder victim in royal blue (from: Wikipedia: Erik Klipping).
Google map of Denmark with location of the island of Hjelm indicated.
The island of Hjelm, May 2015 (photo courtesy Karl Bencke; my thanks are due to Vibeke Sommer for her help in procuring this photo).
The island of Hjelm (photo by Sten Porse, from Wikipedia: Hjelm (ø)).
The church in Finderup. The location of the barn is not known (postcard from village website).
Finderup indicated on map of Denmark (Google Maps).
Meister Rumelant or Rumslant, trendy young PR consultant, depicted in the Codex Manesse, c.1304-40 (from: Wikipedia: Meister Rumelant).
Eric II of Norway, nicknamed the Priest Hater, backed the outlaws as a move against the Danish king (stone bust at Stavanger Cathedral; from Wikipedia: Eric II of Norway).
The conspirators ride from Finderup after the murder of Eric Klipping on the night of St Cecilia 1286 (painted by Otto Bache, 1882).

No less than 14 versions exist of a Danish ballad on the murder of King Erik the Fifth "Klipping" in 1286 and its aftermath.[1] They all feature Marsk Stig Andersen Hvide (d. 1293) and his relatives or associates as central characters. A "marsk"[2] or "marskalk" was a commander of an army (cf. English "marshall"), a royal servant of very high rank that can be compared to a minister of war or minister of defence in more recent times. Following the regicide, Marsk Stig and seven others were outlawed and fled to Norway where they gained the support of the Norwegian king Eric II,[3] memorably nicknamed "the Priest Hater", who provided enough military and naval backing for the former Marsk to set up a fortified pirate base on the tiny (0.62km2) Danish island of Hjelm in the Kattegat, five km from mainland Jutland, c. 37 km east of Aarhus. From Hjelm, plundering raids were conducted on surrounding areas, and as confirmed by archaeological evidence, a mint was set up there to produce counterfeit coin.[4] Marsk Stig died an oulaw on Hjelm in 1293.[5] Whether he and the other outlaws were in fact guilty of the regicide is till debated. We shall probably never know for certain.

Ballads and early editions

Another thing that is less than completely clear is how many Marsk Stig ballads we have. Svend Grundtvig, who edited Danmarks gamle Folkeviser,[6] the standard edition of the Danish popular ballads and the inspiration for F.J. Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads,[7] had, by the time he edited the Marsk Stig ballads, reached the conclusion that the fourteen texts he grouped under item No. 145 in his collection all ultimately derived from one lost longer narrative poem. One surviving text, the Long Ballad discussed below, he felt preserved enough of the original structure to give a reasonably clear idea what this was like. Another much shorter text, Grundtvig's B version, also retained a good deal of the original, while eight fragments of varying length, though often much altered and confused, sometimes preserved bits of the original not found in the two more substantial texts. The four remaining texts in the group are redactions of then existing ballads prepared by the Danish scholar and historian Anders Sørensen Vedel[8] (1542-1616) for inclusion in his One Hundred Choice Danish Ballads (1591), which has strong claims to be considered the earliest of all scholarly ballad collections. As was the case with virtually all ballad editors before Ritson, Vedel did not always reproduce faithfully the ballads he collected but altered the texts as he saw fit. Grundtvig may be right that all 14 texts ultimately go back to one lost original, though I doubt whether this could really, as he believed, have been composed shortly after the regicide, but before the death of Marsk Stig in 1293. All the texts were recorded in the latter half of the 16th century and thus very long after the events they deal with. This group of 14 texts is held together by shared themes and characters as well as Grundtvig's hypothesis about a single ur-text. A critic who does not share Grundtvig's genetic hypothesis may, I think, decide that some of the texts differ so much from the others that they should be considered distinct ballads rather than versions of one and the same ballad.

In addition to the cluster of 14 texts, at least four ballads (DgF numbers 146 to 149) relate to the extended kin group of the Marsk. Their titles translate as 'The Daughters of Marsk Stig', 'The Capture of Riberhus', 'The Wedding of Rane Jonsen' and 'The Death of Rane Jonsen'.[9] These are all first recorded in Vedel's 1591 printed collection or in MSS of the 16th or early 17th century. While these tales are of more than peripheral interest in connection with a study of Marsk Stig, they do not, as far as I can see, throw any light on the more Robin Hood-like aspects of that tradition.

The Long Ballad and the Gest

One ballad, the so-called Long Ballad of Marsk Stig, Svend Grundtvig's A text, with its 108 stanzas is much longer, and also has a more complex plot, than the other nine (fragmentary) ballads that consist of seven to 36 stanzas, averaging c. 16 stanzas. As noted above, Grundtvig was convinced this was an old and threadbare version of a ballad that had been composed shortly after the regicide and the ensuing outlawry of Marsk Stig and his alleged accomplices. He saw the other ballads as derivatives or fragments of the A text or its antecedent. Sofus Larsen in his 1937 monograph on The Ballad of Marsk Stig and his Wife comes a good deal closer to confirming Grundtvig's points of view than he seems willing to admit.[10] However, it would appear that ballad scholars now consider the Long Ballad more likely to have been based on several now lost shorter ballads than to have (been) broken up into such smaller tales.[11]

If the Long Ballad was composed from several shorter pieces, obviously the relationship between this poem and the shorter Marsk Stig ballads rather resembles that often believed to obtain between the Gest and its putative source ballads. However, it should be noted that the (apparent) asymmetry between the Long Ballad and the other Marsk Stig ballads springs in part from the fact that the latter are fragmentary, and with regard to the Robin Hood tales I must emphasize that the Gest cannot simply be broken up into component ballads. In this poem, later events are often anticipated and previous ones harked back to. Scenes that occur in one part of the poem, e.g. archery contests or conversation over dinner, are paralleled elsewhere in the text.[12] Close analysis shows that the poem possesses more narrative unity than critics have tended to believe following Clawson's study.[13] While the Gest certainly owes a large debt to older outlaw literature, it is unclear just how much of this consisted in Robin Hood tales, and in any case it is highly unlikely that such putative Robin Hood ballads could have fitted together like narrative Lego bricks in the manner often envisaged. I am also skeptical of the idea that the Long Ballad of Marsk Stig is a redaction of preexisting ballads, but the surviving ballads appear so fragmented and so far removed from the originals, whatever they were, that it is hardly possible to decide this question on the basis of internal evidence alone. Yet the vast majority of medieval poems, whether religious or secular, narrative or lyrical, allegorical or not, are highly conventional in terms of both language and plot construction: stock incidents and motifs, formulae or stock phrases, rather than entire texts, were the true Lego bricks of medieval (and later pre-modern) narrative construction. As with Lego and Meccano, so with poetry: only very occasionally will one find that large chunks of a previous construction will fit reasonably seamlessly into a new one. It is usually preferable to put together the bricks or strips one by one.

Rape and revenge

If too much should thus not be made of the structural similarity between the Long Ballad and the Gest, it must also be said that the former is quite different from the latter in terms of the protagonists' social standing as well as overall tone. The Long Ballad is a grim tale of rape and revenge. The king sends Marsk Stig abroad to fight his wars and during his absence repeatedly forces the Marsk's wife Ingeborg to have sex with him. When Marstig (as his name is frequently spelled) comes back home, Ingeborg urges him to take vengeance. Only then can she sleep with him again. She and her nephew Rane, who serves at the king's court, together form a plan, and one cold winter night the king is trapped in a lonely place and stabbed to death. Subsequently the Marsk is outlawed; he and his wife and followers settle on the island of Hjelm where they live as outlaws. This is a much more somber tale than those that center on Sherwood or Barnsdale, but it remains a significant fact that Denmark like England has a group of ballads centering on a single outlaw and that in both cases there exists just one tale that is more complex and ambitious in terms of plot construction than the others. Closer comparison of the Gest and the Marsk Stig ballads shows the co-occurrence of a motif in combination with similar names of characters. This is an intriguing hint of at least an indirect relationship between these two cycles of tales. The more detailed similarities between the two traditions occur between the Long Ballad and the Gest, between the latter and two of she shorter (versions of) Marsk Stig ballads, and less importantly, between the Long Ballad and Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.

Analogies between the Long Ballad and the Gest

In fytte III of the Gest, Little John under an assumed identity becomes a servant of the sheriff of Nottingham. The reader/listener is then immediately told that Little John does not intend to give the sheriff good value for his wages:

Nowe is Litell John the sherifës man,
God lende vs well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.[14]

In the Long Ballad:

Frw Ingeborig haffuer en søster-sønn,
Ranne er hans naffuen:
hand thientte vnge kong Erik,
thett wor icke for hans gaffuen.
Lady Ingeborig has a sister son,
Ranne is his name:
he served young king Erik:
it was not for his [i.e. the king's] good
Frw Ingeborig och vnge Ranne
dy gaar denom y rad:
alt huor thi skulde kong Er[i]ck
hans vnge lyff forrade.
Lady Ingeborig and young Ranne
together their counsel they take:
where they should king Erick
his young life betray.[15]

On a Wednesday – this kind of spurious precision lends 'realism' to ballads – Little John runs out into the woods to find the sheriff "[h]untynge with houndes and horne" (st. 182:2). He tells him:

I haue be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That euer yet sawe I me.

'Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seuen score of dere vpon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.

'Their tyndës are so sharpe, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo.'[16]

The gullible sheriff is very keen to get to this hunter's paradise, but when he and Little John arrive, the "mayster-herte" (st. 188:4) turns out to be none other than Robin Hood, the seven score of deer of course his men. After having to eat dinner out of his own silverware, which Little John has previously stolen and brought to the outlaws' quarters, and after suffering a sleepless night lying on the bare ground, the sheriff is allowed to return to town with taunts ringing in his ears. There is little of this farcical tone about the Long Ballad of Marsk Stig, but there also a hunt in the greenwood is being suggested:

Tthett wor lidenn Ranni,
hand staar for kongens buord:
hand sagde kongenn aff hiortte och hinde,
som spelitt vdj den skuoff.
It was little Ranni
he stands at the king's table
he told the king of harts and hinds
playing in that forest.
"Ieg wed meg bode hiortt och hinde,
thi speller vdj den lund:
teckis eder saa, myn edlig herre,
did well wj ride en stund."
I know both hart and hind
they play in that laund:
if it list you my noble lord
there will we ride a stound.[17]

The king is glad to take up the offer and goes hunting with Ranne en route to the "thing" or parliament. Durig the Hunt, all King Erik's servants except Ranne are sent ahead to arrange night lodgings at Viborg where parliament is to be held. The king and Ranne hunt so long that night falls and the king thinks they have lost their way, but Ranne knows a village by the grenwood side where they can take shelter for the cold night. There in the barn in Finderup, the assassins arrive, force open the barn door – which Ranne has made sure is not barred very well – and kill the king.

During some types of hunt, a king or other man of high rank whould have a quite small retinue, and such a hunt would be a promising occassion both for real regicides and for poets who needed to put a literary victim in a situation where he was highly vulnerable. The recurrence of the hunt therefore is not in itself a very strong indication of a closer relationship between the two tales. In fact the late 13th century prose tale of Fulk Fitz-Warin has a scene where the eponymous hero lures his great enemy, King John of England, into an ambush in a manner very similar to Little John's modus operandi in the Gest. However, if the similarities between the latter poem and the Long Ballad are not as close, they are certainly more extensive. The two tales both include an episode where one of the outlaw leader's followers is in the employ of a person who he lures into the hands of his enemies using excellent hunting prospects as bait. Ranne is a servant to the king just as Little John is to the sheriff in the Gest, but like Little John he is in fact the loyal servant of another master (or perhaps mistress in the case of Ranne). Both characters may fairly be described as sidekicks to the main characters of their respective tales. Then there is the name Ranne. Little John introduces himself to the sheriff as Reynold Greenleaf.[18] Rane Jonsen or Rane Jonsen Rani (1254-94),[19] chamberlain to Erik V and owner of the manor of Gjorsley, figures in the Long Ballad, i.e. Grundtvig's A version, as Ranne, Ranni or similar.[20] In other versions recorded in the same period, his name occurs as Ranil[21] or Ranild.[22] On a few occasions his full name is given, but usually only his first name is used.

Other analogies between Marsk Stig and the Gest

Grundtvig's F version is quite different from his A version, the Long Ballad, and probably would have been considered an independent ballad had it not been for his hypothesis of a shared origin of all 14 incomplete texts and fragments in one long ur-text. If F were a distinct ballad, G would be considered another version of it. Where the murder scene in the Long Ballad is decribed from the perspective of someone inside the barn in Finderup, the other story, in the F and G texts, begins with the assassins' preparations:

Alle lode de dennem kleder skere
i graa-munckis lige:
det vaar icke giort for ander sag,
end deris rette herre vidle de suige.
They all let clothes cut
like unto grey monks
it was done for no other cause
than their true liege to betray[23]

The ballad then follows them into the barn. With these different versions it is as if we were security personnel who could choose which camera to follow the crime through.

In the Gest, king Edward stays half a year and more in Nottingham trying in vain to track down the outlaws. Following a tip from a forester, he and five members of his retinue set out for Nottingham dressed as monks:

Full hastely our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtes fyue,
Euerych of them in monkes wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.

Our kynge was grete aboue his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,
They rode up in-to the towne.

Styf botës our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grenë wode,
The couent was clothed in graye.[24]

The king and his men went to an abbey to get their monk's habits. The allusion to the now lost song "The couent was clothed in graye" in the last verse loses some of its poignancy if we do not assume the monk's clothes were those of grey monks, i.e. Franciscans. Sofus Larsen, commenting on the use of grey monk's habits in the Danish ballad, notes that these were chosen because their big hoods made it easy for the regicides to hide their faces.[25] While passing incognito would also be a bonus for king Edward, there is no doubt he and his five companions put on cowls primarily in order to attract the attention of a robber known to specialize in monastic victims. This obviously was what the helpful forester had in mind. Given the utility of the Franciscan's cowl for someone intent on passing unrecognized it seems an obvious choice in stories where such disguise is needed, so this is not a particularly significant analogy between the two tales.

Portentous dreams

At the opening of the ballad of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne (MS c. 1650), Robin Hood has had a foreboding dream, but Little John in typical level-headed fashion tells him not to take it too seriously:

'Me thought they did mee beate and binde,
And tooke my bow mee froe;
If I bee Robin a-liue in this lande,
I'le be wrocken on both them towe.

'Sweauens are swift, master,' quoth John,
'As the wind that blowes ore a hill;
Ffor if itt be neuer soe lowde this night,
To-morrow it may be still.'[26]

A sweven is a dream.[27] It requires a quite literal interpretation of a sweven to wish to be avenged –'be wrocken'– on people for what they do to you in it. What happened in Robin Hood's dream we are not told as some lines have dropped out at this point. In the Long Ballad of Marsk Stig as well as several of the shorter or fragmentary versions, Marsk Stig tells his wife Ingeborg of a bad dream he has had, but she tells him not to worry.

Marsti hand vogner om midnatt,
och taller hand til sinn kerre:
"Meg haffuer drømit saa vnderlig,
Gud rade, hvad thett skall seede!
Myn edelig herre, hynd vnge her Marsti!
Marsti he wakes up at midnight
and speaks to his beloved:
I have dreamt such a strange dream
May God advice what it shall betoken.
My noble lord, the young Sir Marsti!
Meg drømtte om myn stuore skib,
wordt worden til lidene badtt:
och alle thi aarer for buore luo,
der war icke styre paa.
I dreamt that my big ship
was become a small boat
and all the oars lay overboard,
there was no rudder.
Meg tøckte thett ieg och myne mend
wor ridendis offuer en bruo:
myn ganger hand sluo meg vnder seg,
hand løb til wilden stuood."
Me seemed I and my men
were riding on a bridge
my steed he threw me off
he ran to the wild stud.[28]

"My noble lord, the young Sir Marsti!" is the burden of the Long Ballad. As Grundtvig notes, dreams very similar to Marsk Stig's occur in several other Danish ballads,[29] and the belief in portentous dreams is probably found in most eras in most cultures, so the occurrence of this motif in both ballads does not (necessarily) indicate that one was inspired by the other. That someone close to the dreamer in both cases tries to talk down the importance of the dream may seem more suggestive, but it is an idea that must have occurred independently to many poets through the ages as it plays a significant role in the narrative economy: it serves to create a mild tension, an uncertainty about the outcome without which the plot would seem too obviously arranged and thus be less involving.

Long Ballad, Gest and Fulk Fitz-Warin

These points of similarity have not been noted by Child, Clawson, Grundtvig, Larsen or, to my knowledge, in other studies.[30] Of the similarities noted above, the hunt arranged by the treacherous servant seems much the most intriguing. We need not assume one source borrrowed directly from the other, although this may have been the case. The fact that the earliest editions of the Gest are at least a good half century earlier than the earliest MS sources of the Marsk Stig ballad might suggest that the shared material originated in England. Sofus Larsen asserted that the type of (very frequently occurring) ballad metre employed in the Long Ballad "undoubtedly originated in England, where this measure was also used in Latin poetry."[31] Unfortunately there is not really any consensus as to where and when the chief varieties of ballad metre arose, and even if the metrical form arose in England, a motif or sub-plot may still, as it were, have travelled against the current.

In the Long Ballad, the hunt is required as a build-up to the murder scene; it serves to plausibly separate the king from his retinue. In the Gest, the hunt serves to lure the sheriff into the hands of Robin Hood, but the whole incident occurs in a part of the poem that is episodic in structure. In what is surely one of the weakest transitions between sub-plots in the Gest we hear:

Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyue myle in the forest he ran,
Hym happed all his wyll.[32]

He runs out to find the sheriff who is out hunting. Little John's decision to lure the sheriff into Robin's hands thus seems a spur of the moment thing. In this respect the scene seems to more closely resemble the accidental encounter between hero and king in Fulk Fitz-Warin. Yet arguably Little John's trick has been prepared for; when he is hired by the sheriff he says to himself (or rather to us):

I shall be the worst seruaunt to hym
That euer yet had he.'[33]

He then picks a quarrel and a fight with the sheriff's domestics, eventually persuading the sheriff's cook to join the outlaws, whereupon the two abscond with their master's silverware. All this, we are told, happened when "[t]he sherif on huntynge was gone".[34] When entering the sheriff's service, Little John introduced himself to his future employer as Reynold Greenleaf, a name that with its sylvan ring is an obvious joke, though this is lost on the slow-witted sheriff of Nottingham. Fulk Fitz Warin, in his long rambling tale, uses similar noms de plume in two incidents that are unrelated to each other and to the scene in the Gest. At the court of the French king Philip he presents himself as Amys del Boys,[35] i.e. Friend from the Wood. Later, shipwrecked off the coast of Barbary, he introduces himself to the local royalty as "Maryn le Perdu de France", i.e. Lost Sailor from France.[36] Having made a detailed study of the narrative structure of the Gest,[37] I have a higher regard for its author than some critics who do not appear to have studied the text in detail, but I must admit this part of the poem is somewhat loosely structured. One feels the author might as well have left out an incident or thrown in a few more. Assuming a reasonably direct dependence of one tale on the other, the fact that the Danish balllad is here more tightly structured might seem to suggest that it was the earlier poem and that the author of the Gest was here succumbing to the temptation to simply cram in a few extra literary chestnuts, some of which may ultimately derive from Danish outlaw tales. On the other hand there is obviously no law against an author borrowing motifs from an older tale and making better use of them than the author of his source.

What to me does suggest that some of the similarities between the Danish and English ballad may be more than coincidence and that the Danish tradition may have lent material to the early Robin Hood tales is the name Rane or Ranild. Somewhat confusingly the name Reynold, used by Little John as a cover identity, was also the name of one of Robin Hood's men, a character distinct from Little John. He is mentioned as such on a single occasion in the Gest:

Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.[38]

He also figures in the famous acrostic in the Wiltshire parliamentary return for 1432. To us he is now little more than a name, but he evidently once was a more important character. Is this Reynold, whose name may in part have suggested Little John's cover identity, a literary reflection or echo of the royal chamberlain Rane or Ranild Jonsen, who the Marsk Stig ballads depict as the Marsk's right-hand man?

Meister Rumelant – a medieval spin doctor

The use of spin doctors may have assumed annoying proportions among modern politicians, but in fact there is nothing new about this tendency. The spin doctors of medieval royalty did not have title of journalist or public relations specialist. Instead they were called authors or poets, and they generally went about their business with more style and charm than their modern counterparts. One such specialist was hired, in all probability, by the party of Agnes of Brandenburg, widow of Erik the Fifth "Klipping" and mother of the future king Erik the Sixth, during the period after the murder in order to make the best of the situation from a public relations point of view. He was the German minnesänger Meister (Master) Rumelant or Rumslant (fl. c. 1273—c.1300), a name that means something like "out of land", i.e. he who left his country or travelled abroad. He wrote two poems about the murder and another one praising the new young king Erik the Sixth.[39] Meister Rumelant's poems have little in common with ballads and were written in his native Old High German, but they must have helped publicize the story of the murder in a way that served the purpose of the royal family and its supporters. If his poems lived on in Denmark, it is conceivable they may have inspired, directly or indirectly, the writer of the Long Ballad. It is also obvious that as an itinerant minnesänger Meister Rumelant may have helped spread the story to other countries. Whether he ever travelled as far as England I do not know, but this perhaps is not so likely, as he seems mainly to have plied his trade in the north of Germany.[40]

One byproduct of the murder and the political struggles that led to it was a case brought against Jens Grand, archbishop of Lund, by king Erik VI at the papal curia.[41] The case went against the king, and in 1298 the kingdom was placed under an interdict which was only lifted several years later after the king promised to pay a heavy fine. This must have been something of a cause celebre and would have tended to increase interest in the story of the murder and the outlaws among people around Europe who were in a position to pick up news about such affairs.

The marsk in literature and arts

The regicide, its background, consequences and not least the identity of the perpetrators are still debated in Denmark. There are a complex of reasons for this. Murder is always fascinating, especially when the crime remains unsolved, and then fortunately the regicide is the last we have had. The power struggle between the nobility and king, which led to the signing of a document often referred to as the Danish Magna Carta,[42] can be anachronistically distorted into a struggle for democracy – not unlike the events that led to the creation of Magna Carta itself.

Interest in the Marsk Stig "myth" during the 19th and 20th centuries was very much helped by the combined occurrence of three chief factors in the early 19th century:

  • a resurgence of nationalism, whose complex reasons we need not go into here
  • the pan-European "rediscovery" of the popular ballad from the 1760's on
  • the publication of Walter Scott's Waverley novels.

The third factor no doubt has the first two among its preconditions, but in Danish literature, as in the literature of Europe and North America at large, it became a motivating factor in its own right. Walter Scott's Waverley novels soon became extremely popular in Denmark after the first translations appeared in the early 1820's.[43] As elsewhere, a host of Scott epigons sprang up, but few of their works now have much of an adult readership. One such writer who is now largely ignored was Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789-1862), whose production of historical novels includes the two classics Erik Menveds Barndom (1828; 'The Childhood of Erik VI') and Kong Erik og de Fredløse (1833; English edition entitled King Erik and the Outlaws, 1843). For three or four generations these books about the king, the murderers, the murder and its aftermath were boys' classics, much like Howard Pyle's Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883), Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1820) etc. Ingemann's books were translated into other Scandinvian languages, English and German. In 1843 the Royal Danish Ballet performed the ballet Erik Menveds Barndom, choreographed by August Bournonville and with music by Johannes Frederik Frøhlich. The drama Kong Erik og de Fredløse, based on Ingemann's novel and written by Vilhelm Østergård and with music by Johan Bartholdy, was staged in Århus in 1903.

Already in 1802, Salomon Soldin had published Marsk Stig eller Sammenrottelsen mod Erik Glipping, Konge af Danmark. Et romantisk Skilderie fra det trettende Aarhundrede (Marsk Stig or the Conspiracy against Erik Glipping, King of Denmark: a Romantic Portrait from the 13th cent.')[44] Later in the romantic period, the poet Christian Winther wrote Våbendragerens Ed ('The Henchman's Oath'), a short romantic epic inspired by folk tales about the alleged clandestine burial of the Marsk. Other 19th century works include dramas by Carsten Hauch (1850) and Henrik Scharling (1878). The former play was the basis for Peter Heise's and Christian Richardt's 1878 opera Drot og Marsk ('King and Marsk'). Chief works in the 20th century are Jens August Schade's 1934 drama Marsk Stig, Ebbe Kløvedal-Reich's historical novel Festen for Cæcilie: den hemmelige beretning om et kongemord (1979; 'Cecilia's Feast: the Secret Tale of a Regicide') and his drama Land i Våde (1989; 'Country in Peril').

Marsk Stig (DgF 145)

Scholarly and literary editions


Marsk Stigs Døtre (DgF 146)

The Daughters of Marsk Stig.

Scholarly and literary editions

Indtagelsen af Riberhus (DgF 147)

The Capture of Riberhus.

Scholarly and literary editions

Rane Jonsens Giftermaal (DgF 148)

The Wedding of Rane Jonsen.

Scholarly and literary editions

Rane Jonsens Endeligt (DgF 149)

The Death of Rane Jonsen.

Scholarly and literary editions

Poems of Meister Rumelant


Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg Cod. Pal. germ. 848 Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Codex Manesse)


Studies and criticism


Studies and criticism


Also see


  1. It is possible this king's nickname "Klipping" refers to his devaluing, clipping the coins. See Wikipedia: Eric V of Denmark.
  2. Ordbog over det danske Sprog: Marsk, sb.2 (in Danish).
  3. Wikipedia: Eric II of Norway.
  4. See Vellev, Jens. 'Udmøntningerne på Hjelm', in: Asingh, Pauline, ed.; Engberg, Nils, ed. Marsk Stig og de Fredløse på Hjelm (Jysk Arkæologisk Selskabs Skrifter, vol. 40) (Ebeltoft, Højbjerg, 2002), pp. 203-19, 295-96.
  5. For the history of Hjelm, see Wikipedia: Hjelm (Ø) (in Danish).
  6. Grundtvig, Svend, et al, eds. Danmarks gamle Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1853-1976). The title translates as 'The Old Popular Ballads of Denmark'. References to items in the collection are to DgF number and letter.
  7. Child, Francis James, ed. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston and New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, [1882-1898]).
  8. Wikipedia: Anders Sørensen Vedel.
  9. Grundtvig (1853), vol. III, pp. 385-432
  10. Larsen, Sofus Kristian, ed. Visen om Hr. Marsk Stig og hans Hustru: Med Historisk og Kritisk Kommentar (Copenhagen, 1937), see for instance pp. 62, 65.
  11. Den store Danske: Marsk Stig-viserne (in Danish).
  12. See Nielsen, Henrik Thiil. The Literary Evidence of the Gest of Robin Hood and the Origins of the Outlaw Tradition (M.A. thesis, University of Copenhagen, 1990), ch. 2: "The Date of Composition and Putative Ballad Sources of the Gest."
  13. Clawson, W.H. The Gest of Robin Hood (University of Toronto Studies, Philological [& Literature] Series [Extra Volume, No. 2]). ([Toronto], 1909).
  14. Child, op. cit., vol. III, p. 63, st. 153.
  15. Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, p. 352, sts. 51-52. Also see N version sts. 4-5 (III, 370). IRHB translation.
  16. Child, op. cit., vol. III, p. 65, sts. 184-86.
  17. Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, p. 352, sts. 53-54. Also see N version sts. 5-6 (III, 370). IRHB translation.
  18. Gest st. 49:3
  19. Wikipedia: Rane Jonsen (in Danish).
  20. Sts. 51:2, 52:1: Ranne; 53:1: Ranni; 56:3, 58:1, 69:1: Ranny; 74:3: Rany; 81:1: Ranni (Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, pp. 352-53).
  21. Ranil Ienssen: F version, sts. 6:1, 7:1; Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, p. 360.
  22. G version: 5:1, N version: 5:1, 8:4, 9:1, 22:1, 27:3, 37:1, 40:1 (Ranild Ionssen); Grundtvig 1853, vol. III; pp. 361, 370-71.
  23. Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, p. 352, st. 2. Also see G version st. 2:1-2 (Grundtvig, III, 361). IRHB translation.
  24. Gest sts. 371-73, Child, op. cit., vol. III, p. 74.
  25. Sofus Larsen, op. cit., p. 247 n. 1.
  26. Child (1882), vol. III, p. 91, sts. 3-4.
  27. See OED, s.n. sweven, n.
  28. Sts. 1-3, Grundtvig 1853, vol. III, p. 349. Also see B version sts. 1-7 (III, 355), H sts. 1-6 (III, 361-62), I sts. 1-3 (III, 363), M sts. 1-7 (III, 367). IRHB translation.
  29. Grundtvig (1853), vol. III, p. 343 n. **.
  30. Clawson, W.H. The Gest of Robin Hood (University of Toronto Studies, Philological [& Literature] Series [Extra Volume, No. 2]). ([Toronto], 1909). I must note that there are still studies of the Marsk Stig ballad I have not seen.
  31. Larsen, op. cit., p. 161. IRHB translation.
  32. Child (1882), vol. III, p. 65, st. 181.
  33. Child (1882), vol. III, p. 64, st. 164:3-4.
  34. Ibid., st. 155:2.
  35. Brandin, Louis, ed. Fouke Fitz Warin (Paris, 1930), p. 56, and see ibid., p. 57.
  36. Ibid., p. 77.
  37. Nielsen, op. cit.
  38. Child (1882), vol. III, p. 70, st. 293.
  39. Wikipedia: Meister Rumelant. Also see Helle, Knut, ed. The Cambridge History of Scandinavia. Vol. I (Cambridge, 2003), p. 364.
  40. See biographical note at Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg Cod. Pal. germ. 848 Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Codex Manesse).
  41. See for instance Knut Helle, op. cit., pp. 365-66.
  42. For this document, the Håndfæstning, see Helle, Knut, ed. The Cambridge History of Scandinavia. Vol. I (Cambridge, 2003), p. 362; [Wikipedia: Håndfæstning] (in Danish)
  43. For the reception of Scott's novels in Denmark, see Nielsen, Jørgen Erik. Den Samtidige Engelske Litteratur og Danmark, 1800-1840 (Publications of the Department of English, University of Copenhagen, vols. 3-4) (Copenhagen, 1976-77), vol. I, especially pp. 105-39, 284-348, 516-35; Munch-Petersen, Erland. Romanens Århundrede: Studier i den Masselæste Oversatte Roman i Danmark 1800-1870 ([Copenhagen], 1978), vol. 1, pp. 115-44.
  44. For editions of the titles mentioned in this paragraph, see below under "Adaptations".