Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar

Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar is the name of several kings' sagas on the life of Óláfr Tryggvason, a 10th century Norwegian king.

Latin versions were written by Oddr Snorrason, and by Gunnlaugr Leifsson; both are now lost, but are thought to survive in Norse transcriptions including that recorded by Snorri Sturluson in Heimskringla; the most detailed version is Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta [The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason], found in the Flateyjarbók, Bergsbók, and other manuscripts.


There are several versions of the saga, some now lost. It is thought that both Snorri Sturluson (in the Heimskringla) and the author of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta made use of Oddr Snorrason's 12th century latin version work.

It is difficult to tell how closely the Old Norse translation(s) of Oddr's Óláfs saga resembles the Latin original but it clearly owes a debt to hagiography, presenting King Óláfr as the apostle to the Norwegians.[1]

Oddr SnorrasonEdit

An account of Olaf's life (Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar) was recorded by Oddr Snorrason in the 12th century in latin. The work is considered to be the first full length icelandic saga.[2]

Its subject is the 10th-century Norwegian king Óláfr Tryggvason. The original work has been almost completely lost but a translation into Old Norse is preserved in two nearly complete versions and a fragment of a third. Oddr made use of previous written works including those of Sæmundr fróði and Ari Þorgilsson as well as Acta sanctorum in Selio and possibly Historia de Antiquitate Regum Norwagiensium.[3]

Gunnlaugr LeifssonEdit

Gunnlaugr Leifsson also composed a Latin biography of Óláfr Tryggvason. This work is now lost but it is believed to have been an expansion of the Latin Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar written by his monastic brother, Oddr Snorrason. Snorri Sturluson made use of Gunnlaugr's work when composing his Heimskringla and sections of Gunnlaugr's work were incorporated into Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta.[4] Some parts are also thought to survive in Vatnsdæla saga.[2]


Oddr Snorrason's version is thought to be a source for the account of Óláfs Tryggvasonar in the early 13th century Fagrskinna.[2]


Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar is recorded in the c.1230s Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson.

Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mestaEdit

The Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta also known as Mesta or the Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason is an extended biography of Óláfr Tryggvason.

The work was compiled c. 1300.[2]

It contains detail on the conversion (to christianity) of the king Óláfr Tryggvason and of the skald Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld. The work uses Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, with increased narrative detail, including information from the saga 'biographies' by both Oddr Snorrason and Gunnlaugr Leifsson, and other works.


A version of the Mesta (Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta) is recorded in the Flateyjarbók of c.1390.

See alsoEdit



  • Simpson, Jacqueline (2004) [1973], Newall, Venetia (ed.), "Olaf Tryggvason versus the Powers of Darkness", The Witch Figure: Folklore Essays by a Group of Scholars in England Honouring the 75th Birthday of Katherine M Briggs, Routledge, pp. 165–187, ISBN 0-415-33074-2
  • Hoops, Johannes, ed. (2003), Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, 22, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-017351-4
  • Jakobsson, Ármann; Jakobsson, Sverrir, eds. (2017), The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas


Oddr Snorrason
  • AM 310 4to
  • Stock. Perg. 4to no. 18
  • Uppsala University Library, DG 4-7
Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta


Oddr Snorrason
Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta
  • Finnur Jónsson, ed. (1930). Flateyjarbók (Codex Flateyensis: MS No 1005 fol. in the Old Royal Collection in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard.
  • Lindblad, Gustaf, ed. (1963). Bergsbók: Perg. fol. nr. 1 in the Royal Library, Stockholm. Copenhagen: Rosenhilde and Bagger.
  • Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. (1958–61). Ólafs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta. Editiones Arnamagnæanæ, Ser. A. Volumes 1-2. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. pp. 313–322.
  • Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. (1982). The great saga of Olaf Tryggvason and Olaf the Saint: AM 61 fol. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger.


Oddr Snorrason