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Template:KrakiEadgils was a 6th century king of Sweden who appears in the Old English epic Beowulf.

In the Norse sagas and Gesta Danorum appears a Swedish 6th century king having a closely similar name Adils, or Athisl. This king was also the son of a king named Ohthere and just like in Beowulf, Adils killed a king named Onela (Ali) with foreign assistance (see also Origins for Beowulf and Hrólf Kraki).

Missing image
Adils pursuing Hrolf Kraki on the Fýrisvellir


The Norse forms are based an older (Proto-Norse) *Aþagīslaz. However, the Anglo-Saxon form is not etymologically identical. The A-S form would have been *Ædgils, but Eadgils (Proto-Norse *Auða-gīslaz, Old West Norse Auðgísl, Old East Norse Øðgisl) was the only corresponding name used by the Anglo-Saxons.


According to the oldest source, Beowulf, Eadgils' uncle Onela usurped the Swedish throne. Eadgils rebelled together with his brother Eanmund and fled to the Geats. Then Onela attacked the Geats and the Geatish king Heardred was killed, as was Eanmund by Onela's champion Weohstan. Then Beowulf became king of the Geats and helped Eadgils in defeating Onela, who was killed by Eadgils.

In the Hrólf Kraki traditions and Heimskringla

In the Hrólf Kraki tradition, Adils (Eadgils) captured and married Yrsa (Yrs), the mother of Hrólf Kraki (Hrothulf). Not long after Hrólf became king, Eadgils requested his assistance against his uncle Áli (Onela). Hrólf sent his twelve companions, led by Bödvar Bjarki (who it is often remarked has similarities with Beowulf), Áli was defeated in the Battle on the Ice and Adils gained the kingdom. But when Adils refused to pay Hrólf's men the expected tributes for their help, Hrólf Kraki set off to Gamla Uppsala. As Adils was away, gathering reinforcements, Hrólf's mother and sister Yrsa then gave him a horn filled with gold and jewels and a famous ring called Sviagris 'Pig of the Swedes'. With the treasure given them by Yrsa, Hrólf and his men try to escape over the Fyrisvellir (Fyris Wolds). When Adils and his men pursued them, Hrólf desperately spilled out the gold to occupy the pursuers with treasure collecting instead. Adils, however, overtook Hrólf who desperately threw away Sviagris. When Adils stooped to pick it up with his spear Hrólf ungloriously cut him in the back screaming that he had bent the back of the most powerful man in Sweden, stole the ring once again and fled.

Snorri Sturluson relates that Adils loved good horses and had the best horses in his days (interestingly, the contempary Gothic scholar Jordanes noted that the Swedes were famed for their good horses). One horse was named Slöngve and another one Raven, which he had taken from Áli. From this horse he had bred a horse also named Raven which he sent to king Godgest of Hålogaland, but Godgest could not manage it and fell from it and died, in Omd on the island of Andøya. Adils himself died in a similar way at the Disablót. Adils was riding around the Disa shrine when Raven stumbled and fell, and the king was thrown forward and hit his skull on a stone. He was buried at Uppsala, and was succeeded by Östen.

Witch-demons, I have heard men say,
Have taken Adils' life away.
The son of kings of Frey's great race,
First in the fray, the fight, the chase,
Fell from his steed -- his clotted brains
Lie mixed with mire on Upsal's plains.
Such death (grim Fate has willed it so)
Has struck down Ole's [Onela's] deadly foe. (Laing's translation [1] (http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/heim/02ynglga.htm))


According to Snorri he was buried in one of the royal mounds of Gamla Uppsala, and he is believed to be buried in Adils' Mound (also known as the Western mound or Thor's mound) one of the largest mounds at Uppsala. An excavation in this mound showed that a man was buried there c. 575 on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings. There were luxurious weapons and other objects, both domestic and imported, show that the buried man was very powerful. These remains include a Frankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and a board game with Roman pawns of ivory. He was dressed in a costly suit made of Frankish cloth with golden threads, and he wore a belt with a costly buckle. There were four cameos from the Middle East which were probably part of a casket. The finds show the distant contacts of the House of Yngling in the 6th century.

Snorri's account that Adils had the best horses of his days, and Jordanes' account that the Swedes of the 6th century were famed for their horses find support in archaeology. This time was the beginning of the Vendel Age, a time characterised by the appearance of stirrups and a powerful mounted warrior elite in Sweden, which rich graves in for instance Valsgärde and Vendel.

Preceded by:
Semi-legendary king of Sweden
Succeeded by:

Template:End box

Gesta Danorum

According to Saxo Grammaticus, Eadgils (Athisl) was defeated by Roulf (Hrólf Kraki, Hrothulf) and replaced. For a discussion about this peculiarity, see Heoroweard.

Primary sources

Secondary sources

Nerman, B. Det svenska rikets uppkomst. Stockholm, 1925.

See also



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