JarlOld Norse Dictionary - jarl
Meaning of Old Norse word "jarl" in English.
As defined by the Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse to English dictionary:
jarl Old Norse word can mean:
- m., older form earl, [Hel. erl; A. S. eorl; Engl. earl]: this word had a double sense, one old and common to the Saxons as well as the earliest Scandinavians, one later and specifically Norse, which afterwards became English through the Norse and Danish invasion, and was finally established by the Norman Conquest.
- A. A gentle, noble man, a warrior, and collect. gentlefolk, as opp. to the churl folk or common people (karlar, búendr); thus the old poem Rígsmál distinguishes three classes, earls, churls, and thralls (jarla-ætt, karla-ætt, þræla-ætt); so also in A. S. eorl and ceorl are almost proverbially opposed; in the old Saxon poem Heliand, ‘erl’ is used about a hundred times = a man. Prof. Munch suggested that the name of the Teutonic people Eruli or Heruli simply represents an appellative (warriors), which the Roman writers took to be a proper name. In the Scandin. countries this use of jarl is rare and obsolete, but remains in poët. phrases, in old saws, and in law phrases; oddar görva jarli megin, spears make the earl’s might, Mkv.; rudda ek sem jarlar forðum mér til landa, I won me lands like the earls of yore, Glúm, (in a verse): jarls yndi, an earl’s delight = a man’s delight, Hm. 96; jörlum öllum óðal batni, Gh. 21; hlaðit ér, earlar, eikiköstinn, 20; ítrar jarla-brúðir, ‘earl’s-brides,’ ladies, Gkv. 1. 3; alsnotrir jarlar, the gentle earls, 2; eggja ek yðr, jarlar, Am. 54; jarla einbani, ‘earl-slayer’ = ανδροκτόνος, Em., Hkm.; karl-fólk ok jarla, churlfolk and earl folk, Sighvat; eitt mein sækir hvern jarl, every earl (man) has his ill luck, Fb. ii. (in a verse): in the law, jarls jörð, an earl’s estate, is opp. to konungs jörð, a king’s estate, in the phrase, hálfan rétt skal hann taka er hann kömr á jarls jörð, en þá allan ok fullan er hann kömr á konungs jörð, Grág. (Kb.) i. 192, for this is undoubtedly the bearing of this disputed passage; jarlmaðr is opp. to búkarl, FmS. vii. (in a verse); so also karlmaðr (q. v.) in its oldest sense is opp. to jarlmaðr, = churl-man and earl-man; hirð-jarl = hirðmaðr, FmS. xi. 302, v. l.; berg-jarl, poët. a ‘crag-earl’ = a giant, Edda (in a verse); bak-jarl, a ‘back-earl,’ an enemy in one’s rear; of-jarl (q. v.), an ‘over-earl,’ an overbearing man.
- B. A chief, as a title, specially Norse and Danish. The Landnáma, which is almost our only source for the political and personal history of Norway before king Harald Fairhair and the settlement of Iceland, records several chiefs of the 8th and 9th centuries who bore an earl’s name as a family dignity; Ívarr Upplendinga-jarl (Upplönd, a Norse county), Asbjörn jarl Skerja-blesi, Eyvindr jarl, 317; Atli jarl Mjóvi af Gaulum (a Norse county), Þorkell Naumdæla-jarl (earl in Naumdale, a Norse county), 281; Grjótgarðr jarl í Sölva (a county), 297: and as a family title, the famous Háleygja-jarlar (the earls of the Norse county Hálogaland, whose pedigree from Odin was drawn out in the old poem Háleygja-tal; Hákon jarl Grjótgarðsson, etc.): so also the Mæra-jarlar, the earls of Mæri (a Norse county), the foremost of whom was Rögnvaldr Mæra-jarl, the forefather of the earls of the Orkneys (Orkneyja-jarlar) and the earls of Rouen (Rúðu-jarlar = the dukes of Normandy).
- II. along with the Danish and Norse invasion the name appears in England, Bjartmár jarl in Ireland, Landn.; Hunda-Steinarr, an earl in England, id.; see also the Saxon Chronicle passim, where the very name indicates a Danish or Norse connexion. It is very likely that many of the earls of the Landnáma were sovereign chiefs, differing from kings only in title, for in old poetry a king and an earl were addressed in the same way.
- III. about the time of Harald Fairhair all the petty chiefs became liegemen under one king, the earl being in dignity nearest the king, answering to comes in mid. Lat. and graf in Germ. In Scandinavia both name and office became extinct about the 13th century: in Iceland, being a commonwealth, it never took root; see however Gizur jarl (died A. D. 1268) in the Sturlunga.—For references see the Sagas passim, esp. Har. S. Harf. ch. 6.
- IV. in eccl. translation the Roman procurator provinciae is often rendered by jarl, e. g. Pílatus jarl, earl Pilate, Ver. 67, PasS. 20. 2.
- COMPDS: jarlakappi, jarlaskáld, Jarlasögur, jarlsefni, jarlsmaðr, jarlsníð, jarlsríki, jarlssæti.
Possible runic inscription in Younger Futhark:ᛁᛅᚱᛚ
Younger Futhark runes were used from 8th to 12th centuries in Scandinavia and their overseas settlements
- A. S.
- q. v.
- quod vide.
- Scandinavia, Scandinavian.
- v. l.
- varia lectio.
- et cetera.
- idem, referring to the passage quoted or to the translation
- A. D.
- Anno Domini.
- mid. Lat.
- middle Latin.
- e. g.
- exempli gratia.
➞ See all works cited in the dictionary
Works & Authors cited:
- Atla-mál. (A. II.)
- Edda. (C. I.)
- Eiríks-mál. (A. III.)
- Flateyjar-bók (E. I.)
- Fornmanna Sögur. (E. I.)
- Guðrúnar-hefna. (A. II.)
- Guðrúnar-kviða. (A. II.)
- Grágás. (B. I.)
- Hákonar-mál. (A. III.)
- Hává-mál. (A. I.)
- Konungs-bók. (B. I, C. I, etc.)
- Málshátta-kvæði. (A. III.)
- Landnáma. (D. I.)
- Veraldar Saga. (E. II.)
Also available in related dictionaries:
This headword also appears in dictionaries of other languages descending from Old Norse.