Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-07 > 1028084647

From: (Stewart Baldwin)
Subject: Re: Biolan
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 03:26:09 GMT
References: <>

On 30 Jul 2002 18:01:02 -0700, (Peter
Stewart) wrote:

>According to Norse accounts, Rollo of Normandy had a daughter named Calin
>(Kathleen) who married Biolan, called king and supposed to be established
>somewhere in Scotland.

Actually, these sources make Caln the daughter of a certain
Gongu-Hrlfr, with no reason (other than the name) to connect this
Gongu-Hrlfr to the founder of Normandy. The source usually cited for
this (Landnmabk) does not give a parentage for this Gongu-Hrlfr,
but another early genealogy [see Vigfusson & Powell, eds., Origines
Islandicae, vol. 1, p. 246] makes Caln a daughter of Gongu-Hrlfr,
son of Oxna-rir, making it very difficult to identify this
individual with the founder of Normandy (whom the orthodox Norse
genealogies make an alleged son of Rognvaldr of Mre). The legendary
hero Gongu-Hrlfr appears with different fathers in the Norse sources,
and it would seem that he was identified on different occasions with
various individuals named Hrlfr.

>Biolan, or Beolan, was apparently an Irish name. I've seen the suggestion
>that this man was possibly succeeded in his conquered Scottish territory by
>Thorfinn the Red, son of Olaf the White, king of Dublin (at the moment I
>can't remember where, but it was not more specific or detailed about an
>alleged Irish connection).
>Yesterday, by serendipity in relation to this, I came across a table in
>Martin Aurell's *Stratgies matrimoniales de l'aristocratie (IX-XIII
>sicle)*, _Mariage et sexualit au Moyen ge: Accord ou crise_, Colloque
>international de Conques, edited by Michel Rouche, Cultures et Civilisations
>Mdivales 21 (Paris, 2000). Here he draws on the 1991 thesis of Frdrique
>Lefebvre, _Les mariages des ducs de Normandie de 911 1066_ (University of
>Rouen, unpublished). She appears to have accepted the link to Biolan, as
>other scholars following DC Douglas have done, but mysteriously (to me, from
>Aurell's table) adds the description "comte de Limerick" after Biolan's
>I don't have acceess to the work of Lefebvre. Does anyone know of a source
>definitely connecting Biolan to Ireland?

To my knowledge, there is no unambiguous mention of this Bolln in
any other place. The Irish sources mention a few individuals of that
name, but I know of no good reason to identify any of them with the
person in the Norse sources.

However, I can offer a plausible guess as to the origin of the
description of Bolln given above. The Annals of Inisfallen, under
the year 969, have the entry "Beoln Ltil & a mac do marbad la mar
Luimnich." (Bolln Litil and his son were killed by varr of
Limerick.) This suggests that the above author was identifying the
Bolln of the Norse sources with this person from the Annals of
Inisfallen. It remains to be seen whether or not any evidence was
advanced to support such an identification, but the title "comte de
Limerick" (presumably intended to mean "jarl of Limerick") is a "red
flag" that invites skepticism, as I do not know of any evidence that
such a title "jarl of Limerick" even existed. (In fact, the said
varr was KING of the Vikings of Limerick.)

The Annals of Ulster, under the same year, have an entry "Beollan m.
Ciarmaicc, ri Locha Gabhor, in Christo quieuit." (Bolln son of
Ciarmac, king of Loch Gabor [Lagore], rested in Christ.) This Bolln
would have been a member of the Sl neda Slaine (an offshoot of the
U Nill). Although the accounts of the death are different (because
the Irish annals generally use "quieuit" for a natural death), the
rareness of the name suggests the possibility that they may have been
the same man.

Stewart Baldwin

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