Aug 11, 2013

Codex Unia: Karl And Redbad - Part III

This is the third and final translation of an Old Frisian legend preserved in the Codex Unia.

PART III - Karl And Redbad

Then the Twelve fell to their knees and prayed piously. When they were done with the prayer, they saw a thirteenth sitting at the stern and a golden axe on his shoulder with which he steered them back to land against the current and wind.

Then they came to land, and he threw the axe upon the land and turned up the grass turf. Then a spring welled up there. Therefore, that place is called "up to the Court of Axes." [FN12] And over Eswei [FN13] they came to land, and they sat beside the spring. They took what the thirteenth taught them as their law. Though none of them knew who the thirteenth was, he was like each of them. [FN14] He showed them the law, that there would no longer be only Twelve. Therefore, there shall be thirteen lawspeakers in the land and their judgments must be pronounced at Axenhof and at Eswei. And whenever they disagree, the seven must overrule the six.   

From this comes the land-law of all Frisia. 

[FN12] Axenhof.

[FN13] Eswei is sometimes translated as the "Way of the Gods." See Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr., An Introduction to Old Frisian, 176 (2009).

[FN14] H.A. Guerber writes that "the newcomer resembled each one of them in some particular, but yet was very different from any one of them in general aspect and mien." See H.A. Guerber, Myths of the Norsemen, 143 (1909).


  1. Thank you for translating and posting this powerful legend.

    1. Definitely my pleasure. I am very glad that you enjoyed the series.