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Elizabeth Ashman Rowe

Illuminated 14th-century deluxe Icelandic manuscript (420×290 mm, 202 fols; Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute, GKS 1005 fol.) of King Sverrir’s Saga. It was compiled by the priests Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Þórhallsson for Jón Hákonarson (1350–before 1416), a wealthy landowner in northern Iceland who collected sagas of the kings of Norway. A note on folio 4r dates Jón Þórðarson’s contribution to 1387, and Magnús Þórhallsson’s annals at the end of the manuscript indicate the book was completed in 1394 or 1395. Magnús illuminated the whole manuscript and was the scribe of King Sverrir’s Saga (composed in part by Abbot Karl Jónsson of Þingeyrar, Iceland, c. 1185). The saga contains eight initials decorated in a style combining Gothic curved and draped human figures with Romanesque grotesques and acanthus motifs. Five initials depict Sverrir (with crown, orb and weapons), his opponent Sigurðr, and their soldiers. One initial is foliate, and two depict hybrid monsters. The taunting grotesque (fol. 156...