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Forum LockedIvar "the Boneless"?

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Huscarl View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Huscarl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ivar "the Boneless"?
    Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 11:29
This mighty viking warrior with a curious nickname was the chief commander of the huge and infamous "Great Army" of 865 that invaded England, along with his brothers Halfdan and Ubba, bent upon total domination of the land. They were said to be avenging their Ragnar Lothbrok's death in Northumbria decades earlier (despite his life timeline being incorrect)

Yet Ivar had to continuously carried about on a shield, according to sources. Given his strange nickname, was he;-

  • Disabled physically, perhaps with 'brittle bone' disease or even advanced diabetes or cancer?
  • Impotent, the cruel sexual metaphor being not contemporary, obviously.
  • A midget/dwarf, tiny compared to his 6ft tall comrades and thus then deemed ineffective in battle other than his nobility, courage and commanding qualities?
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Reginmund View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 12:43
I have never heard any of those theories before. If he was seriously ill or a dwarf I'm certain the sources would have mentioned it, whether he was impotent I can't say but I doubt the connotation bone = erection existed back then.

From what I have read Ivar got his nickname because his face looked like it didn't have any bones in it. I have a hard time imagining what such a face would look like.
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
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Styrbiorn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 13:11
Can be anything. The bone-erection connotation doesn't exist in modern Scandinavian as far as I know, but it might have in Old Norse - that I do not know. His brothers were known as Ironside, Whiteshirt and Snake-in-the-eye. The former nicknames might come from them being badass respectively being baptised, but it would be interesting to know if Sigurd actually got a snake up his eye or if he just had a dead serpent gaze.

edit:ach, apparently he had something looking like a snake in his eye. So much for subtlety.


Edited by Styrbiorn - 11-Jun-2009 at 13:13
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King John View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 17:55
I have heard all three of the theories you named, Huscarl.  I don't really buy the one about impotence, it seems to anachronistic.  The others just seem based on little evidence.
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Eigon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Eigon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 20:41
There was a documentary on British TV a year or so ago about Ivar the Boneless.  The maker of the programme had some sort of brittle bone disease himself, and therefore hadn't grown properly, and had suffered multiple bone breakages over the years.  He was putting forward the theory that Ivar suffered from a similar disease to himself.
The moment when he was dressed up in Viking costume and lifted up on a shield was quite clearly the proudest moment of his life!
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