The Testimony of the Hoofprints

Danish Legends about the Medieval Union Queen Margrethe

in Ethnologia Europaea
John Lindow University of California, Berkeley

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Barbro Klein’s “The Testimony of the Button” is still, fifty years after it appeared, a fundamental study of legends and legend scholarship. Inspired by Klein’s article, I analyze legends about “lord and lady” Margrethe (1353–1412), who reigned for decades as the effective ruler of the medieval union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Proceeding through various groups of related legends, I show how these legends were adapted to Margrethe’s anomalous status as a female war leader, including their cross-fertilization with robber legends and the use of a ruse usually associated with male protagonists. This article ends by indicating the importance of place within history as articulated in legends.

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