The Humble Folklore Origins Of The Danes, According To Saxo Grammaticus

Saxo Grammaticus (c. 12th and 13th century), like other medieval and ancient historians, began his Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes) with an account of the early legends and folklore of his people. In the preface of his text, he told of a precursor humanoid race of stonemason giants, who were eventually succeeded by the legendary founders of various Nordic and Germanic peoples. According to the tradition of folklore and oral history that Saxo Grammaticus had at his disposal, many of the leading families among the Danish and Germanic peoples could link themselves to a certain ancient ruler named Humble or Humblus. This mysterious Humble leader was said to have had two sons: Dan (who allegedly provided his name to the Danes) and Angul (who purportedly lent his name to the Angles). On this trio of legendary figures, Saxo wrote, “Now Dan and Angul, with whom the stock of the Danes begins, were begotten of Humble, their father, and were the governors and not only the founders of our race. (Yet Dudo, the historian of Normandy, considers that the Danes are sprung and named from the Danai)” (The Danish History, Book 1).

Written by C. Keith Hansley

Picture Attribution: (Image from Siegfried, the hero of the North, and Beowulf, the hero of the Anglo-Saxons (dated 1909), by Zénaïde A. Ragozin (c. 1835-1924) and George T. Tobin (c. 1864-1956), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).

 

Sources:

  • The Danish History by Saxo Grammaticus, translated by Oliver Elton (Norroena Society, 1905) and edited for reprint by Douglas B. Killings (2012).
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