IVAR THE BONELESS: THE ORIGINAL HAMLET, ACT 1
Shakespeare’s audiences in the Globe Theatre may have had somewhat different understandings of Hamlet’s claim, “I know a hawk from a handsaw”. Nobles watching from box seats and balconies must have thought that sanity would dictate “knowing a hawk from a hernshaw (heron)” or “knowing a hammer from a handsaw” but knowing a “hawk from a handsaw” only perpetuated the Danish Prince’s madness from their perspective. The truant workers in the commoners’ pit, on the other hand, heard the statement as “I know a mortar hawk from a handsaw” and the two items were both tools, so Hamlet was merely pretending to be mad as a hatter. The mason and the dauber perhaps exchanged knowing winks as they gazed upward at the baffled nobility and they loved their dear William for his jest.
When William Shakespeare wrote his play, “The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, little did he know the thing would send literary researchers on an odyssey across Europe and history to trace its origins.1 The root of the work has had its founding strokes traced to Ireland, to Sweden and amazingly, yet convincingly, to the early Roman Empire. And in all cases Hamlet’s social stature has remained quite princely. But who exactly was this person, this prince, this Hamlet?
Evidence has unfortunately thinned under the heavy rolls of time, and we may never truly learn just who this princely protagonist really was, but in order to find the origins of our youthful hero we must first turn back the pages of time and expose the history and the theories behind the play, the thing that is “Hamlet”. The play was registered in London on July 26, 1602 and there are three substantially different versions of it extant today. The First Quarto (Bad Quarto) of 1603 is the earliest known printing. This crude, possibly pirated form of the play was apparently lost and not rediscovered until 1823.2 The Second Quarto, (Good Quarto) of 1604 is a larger and more eloquent version of the play. In 1623 two associates of Shakespeare, John Heminge and Henry Condell compiled a collection of his plays and had them printed in what is now known as the First Folio.3 There were further quartos and folios printed, but the modern play “Hamlet” is extracted from these three works.
The 1604 version of Hamlet begins with the haunting scene of the ghost of Hamlet’s father telling Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother Claudius. We then learn that Claudius has married the Queen; Hamlet’s mother and usurped the throne and it becomes apparent that Hamlet has survived in the court of his uncle by pretending to be mad and by playing the fool. The young prince’s insanity is put to the test by beautiful Ophelia, but the young woman’s wiles do not uncover Hamlet’s deceit and lead to his famous harangue “To be, or not to be…”.
While Claudius tests Hamlet, the prince confirms the guilt of the king with a play he calls ‘The Mousetrap’. A further test of Hamlet’s wits is taken up by Polonius, a courtier of Claudius, who hides behind an arras in Queen Gertrude’s chambers hoping to overhear Hamlet plotting with his mother. Hamlet stabs him to death through the tapestry then chastises his mother for her involvement with the usurper.
Following the death of Polonius, King Claudius sends Hamlet to England with the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They bear a note instructing the English king to execute Hamlet, however, through Hamlet’s cunning, the instructions are changed and, it is the courtiers that are buried in Britain. Hamlet returns to Denmark to find burial preparations being made for Ophelia and it is in the graveyard during preparation that Hamlet clasps the skull of his former jester and cries “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…” Soon after, a duel between Hamlet and Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, leads to the tragic death of all.
The three extant plays, the First and Second Quartos and the First Folio are sufficiently controversial sources for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” on their own, however, they are far from being the original source of the thing. Literary and critical references of the Elizabethan period indicate that an “Ur-Hamlet” play had been produced well before Shakespeare’s play was first performed in 1596.
The “Ur-Hamlet” is documented by Phillip Henslowe as having played in 1594. The play may have been performed as early as 1589, the year when Thomas Nashe criticized both Thomas Kyd and a play called “Hamlet”. Thomas Kyd is a prime candidate as being the playwright of the “Ur-Hamlet” due to Nashe’s famous critique and a previous play of his, “The Spanish Tragedy”, which also had vengeance and madness themes. It is also known that Kyd was well versed in the French language, a valuable skill indeed when the next link to the origin of “Hamlet” is Francois DeBelleforest’s “Histoires Tragiques”.4
In the decade of 1560, Francois DeBelleforest, a minor French author, was commissioned to produce a French translation of Matteo Bandello’s “Latin Romances”. He apparently deemed it advisable to include translations of other works, including those of Krantz, Johanne Magnus, and Saxo Grammaticus. DeBelleforest’s work was printed in Paris in 1582 and Volume V contained Saxo Grammaticus’ “Tale of Amleth”, a minor Prince of Denmark.5
Cleric Saxo Grammaticus (c.1150-c.1220) entered the service of Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, in 1180 and, upon the latter’s request, began compiling and writing his “Gesta Danorum” or “Historica Danica”, chronicling the early Danish heroic legends. His history is written in a polished Latin, similar in style to Valerius Maximus and Martianus Capella, upon whom he may have modeled his works, and consists of sixteen books, the first nine of which tell tales of the early kings and warriors of Denmark. His story of Amleth is about the life and times of a legendary warrior-prince so named and falls at the end of Book Three and the beginning of Book Four of “Historica Danica”. It is most certainly the direct source of the play “Hamlet”.6
The story of Saxo Grammaticus’ Amleth runs thus: Horwendil and Feng are brothers appointed by King Rorik of Denmark to govern Jutland. Horwendil holds the monarchy for three years but decides to seek adventure in piracy. While out raiding, Horwendil acquires a fierce and profitable reputation culminating in his slaying of King Koll of Norway in personal combat. In three successful years of roving Horwendil accumulates great wealth, much of which he turns over to King Rorik, who, in return, proffers the hand of his daughter, Gerutha. Horwendil and Gerutha are married and blessed with a son, Amleth.
Horwendil’s brother, Feng, is possessed with jealousy over Horwendil’s good fortune and plots a treacherous usurpation. He has coerced and corrupted the king’s royal court while Horwendil was off roving and employs their assistance in the murder of their king. Feng then gains favour with King Rorik when he claims he slew Horwendil in defence of Gerutha’s life and the royal court bears false witness supporting him. Feng then forces Queen Gerutha into an incestuous marriage that gives him both the kingship and control over the widow of Horwendil and her son.
Amleth, knowing the full scope of Feng’s treachery, feigns madness to conceal his knowledge, thereby ensuring his own safety while preparing for his revenge. But Feng and his corrupt court are not convinced that Amleth is totally lacking wits and they devise tests whereby to judge his sanity. Amleth is forewarned of this plot by his foster brother and plays the part of the fool most perfectly. A young woman was to tempt him into throwing off the cover of buffoonery in exchange for pleasures, but Amleth rides his horse backwards, pretending not to see her standing alone on the path, and uses various amusing ruses to divest the girl of her pleasures while yet, himself, remaining unexposed. Thus, the court’s plan was thwarted, and Feng became convinced of Amleth’s ineptitude.
A courtier of Feng’s was not yet fully convinced and so devises and has approved a further check of Amleth’s wit. While Feng is journeying, his courtier hides in Gerutha’s bedchamber hoping to uncover Amleth’s ruse if he should converse sensibly with his mother. Amleth discovers the eavesdropper while searching his mother’s bedchamber, for he trusted no one, and he stabs the spy. Then, sword in hand, he apportions the corpse to the swine. Upon his return to Gerutha’s bedchamber, he begins to admonish his mother for disloyalty to his dead father. He then learns that his mother, also, is a prisoner in her own kingdom.
When Feng returns and learns that his man has died, he realizes that Amleth is dangerous and plots to have him slain without offending Gerutha or her father, the fearsome King Rorik. Feng sends Amleth and two escorts to England with a sealed message for its king. The message instructs the English king to slay Amleth, but our young prince, discovering the intent of the message, alters the contents, instructing the king to slay the escorts instead and to offer Amleth his daughter’s hand in marriage. Thus, once more he thwarts Feng. The king gives Amleth his daughter’s hand and has the envoys executed. Amleth feigned grief at the death of his comrades, so the king gives him gold as a form of compensation. This gold Amleth melts and pours into two sticks of wood hollowed out for this purpose. He passes a year in England with his wife, then expresses a desire to visit his homeland.
Amleth returns to Jutland alone, bearing only the gold filled sticks, and arrives just in time to interrupt his own funeral banquet. Dishevelled and dirty and once more doltish, he stands amongst his enemies, the corrupt court and their usurping king, who are only temporarily shocked. They ask him where his two comrades are, and he raises his hand and replies that the sticks are they. The court was once more convinced of Amleth’s foolishness and resumes banqueting while our young prince makes busy plying them with liquor and, when they are drunk and sleeping, he binds them in netting fastened tight by crooks and sets the palace aflame with the courtiers in it. He then slays his uncle, Feng, with the usurper’s own sword. (End of Book Three, “Gesta Danorum”.)7
Following the slaughter of the nobles, Amleth aroused the support of the Danes through a lengthy harangue, bringing some to compassion and yet others to tears and through general acclaim was pronounced their new king. Amleth had three ships and choice warriors and a magnificent shield all prepared for a triumphant return to England, and the shield he had decorated with paintings telling the full story of his victory, through courage and cunning, over the usurper.
The English king received them with much pomp and ceremony but was greatly perplexed when he learned that Amleth had slain Feng, for he had long ago made a mutual revenge pact with the old usurper, and now realized that his son-in-law must suffer the consequences of a contract which had now matured. The king, however, did not want Amleth’s blood upon his hands, so he concocted a scheme by which to fulfil his contractual obligation. He knew of a fierce Scottish Queen, Hermutrude, who protected her chastity by slaying all who attempted to woo her, and he requested that Amleth take her a message proposing a marriage bond between the English and Scottish monarchs.
Amleth set off with the message and while travelling through the Scottish wilds chanced upon a restful spot by a brook and slept. A spy, sent out from Hermutrude’s castle, crept up on him, relieved him of his message and shield, and returned to his queen. The Scottish monarch read the story upon the shield and became infatuated with Amleth’s courage and cleverness. She altered the message, placing Amleth as the suitor, in place of the English king, and had both shield and message returned to Amleth while he slept. When Amleth arrived at the Scottish queen’s castle, not only was he well received, but he was wed.
He returned to England with his new wife and a strong Scottish retinue, but was warned of treachery, on the part of the English king, by his first wife. A battle shortly ensued and through the course of the day Amleth lost a goodly number of his troops. In preparing for the next day’s battle, Amleth had his dead propped upon rocks and stakes and horses and the English troops, approaching with the sunrise, were filled with dread that this host should number as many as before a full day’s slaughter. They withdrew in confusion and the Scottish and Danish troops attacked and slew the English king in the ensuing panic. Amleth then plundered England and returned to Jutland with his wives.
Meanwhile, in Jutland, King Rorik had died and his successor, Wiglek, had stripped Amleth’s mother of her wealth, wishing to claim the fiefdom for himself. Amleth, upon his return, did battle with Wiglek and lost, losing both his life and his Scottish wife to the young Danish king.8
As can be seen from the tale just related, Saxo Grammaticus’ Amleth is the prototype of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but once again it is not the original source of the basic uncle/nephew revenge theme common to both. Many literary researchers have attempted to trace the earlier origins of ‘Amleth’; with varying results. There are other Norse sagas about an Amleth character besides Saxo’s, so there were likely many variations of the tale that he may have studied. While we briefly review the most plausible of these theories, we must keep in mind that Saxo must have had much verbal non-clerical information available to him and that very few details of his historical sources remain.
We know that Saxo had read Valerius Maximus, for the style of the ‘Historica Danica’ is almost identical, as explained by Giovanni Bach in his “The History of Scandinavian Literature”.9 We know that Saxo had relied heavily upon Icelandic and English Sagas and Eddas, for he acknowledges such in his work’s preface.10 We know also that Saxo had relied upon Danish folklore, travelling as far as Norway to hear old folktales and memories.11 The first nine books covering early Danish history, although no longer considered authentic history, provide intriguing reading from a legendary point of view. However, Book Five seems to offer some historical value in the founding of the Kievan Rus’ Empire of the mid ninth century, where Prince Erik the Eloquent of Norway seems to echo Prince Rurik of Novgorod. And Book Six, although vague, seems to be dealing with Prince Ivar (Igor), Prince Svein (Sviatoslav) and Grand Prince Valdamar (Vladimir) of early Rus history.
Marion Taylor expands on Dr. Detter’s theories of 1892 in “A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet” of 1968, wherein the tale is traced to the story of Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic.12 An early legendary figure closely resembling Saxo’s Amleth is to be found in the tale of Brutus, as related by Titus Livius, Valerius Maximus, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, three great historical authors of the Roman Empire. They tell a tale of Brutus, who feared for his very life, after his uncle Tarquinius had slain his father and usurped the throne of Rome. Brutus survived by making pretence of being stupid and foolish, thereby gaining his surname, which means just that, and was kept among the royal court as amusement for Tarquinius’ sons.
Tarquinius sent his sons to consult the Delphic oracle concerning a plague and sent Brutus along, at their request, as entertainment. They crossed the sea to Greece, consulted with the oracle and made their offerings to Apollo. They mocked Brutus for offering the god a cornel stick, which he had secretly hollowed out and filled with gold, the purpose being to make the outer offering worthy of a fool and the inner offering worthy of a god. The brothers then asked the oracle who was to succeed to the monarchy and received the reply “the one who should first kiss his mother”. Tarquinius’ sons made a pact to kiss their mother at the same time but Brutus saw an underlying meaning to the statement. Upon their return to Rome he pretended to stumble, and he fell, face first, into the dirt, kissing the earth as he landed, for he had surmised that the oracle had meant Rome as being the mother of all Romans.
Later in life, Brutus seized upon an opportunity that arose and cast Tarquinius and his sons out of Rome and its territories. He founded the Roman Republic and gave freedom from monarchy to all Romans and following a public harangue was appointed as one of their consuls. He died on the battlefield defending his young republic, at the hands of one of Tarquinius’ sons.13
There are many parallels between the tales of Amleth and Brutus, such as feigned madness for survival, an uncle/nephew vengeance theme, gold filled sticks, trips across seas, skill in the use of double meanings in both words and deeds and finally death in battle. The stories are so similar, in fact, that one wonders if Saxo did not rely upon his access to the works of Valerius Maximus and Livius Titus in recreating a legendary figure which he had found in their works. But other Norse works based on the Amleth theme seem to indicate that there may have been an older poem or saga that was known at the time. Saxo is noted for being a very diligent researcher and undoubtedly had no shortage of folklore at hand with which to weave his tales. As Sir Oliver Elton states, in his translation of Saxo’s work, “He will possibly on occasion mutilate a story by omissions of what he considers too heathen or too trivial; but though this be a failing in him, he never commits the greater, the unforgiven fault of adding to or doctoring the stories before him.”14 There is much evidence indicating that the tale of Amleth, as laid out by Saxo, was present in the form of edda or song in Danish folklore long before Saxo took up pen to write his history.
There can be little doubt that Amleth is a derivative of the older legendary figure of Brutus, but evidence shows us that this Amleth was not suddenly torn from the pages of the past by a chronicler looking for exciting tales. How then did the tale of Brutus travel from Rome to Scandinavia and how did it become ‘Nordicized’? How did it traverse a continent and span two millennia?
Marion A. Taylor’s “A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet”, published in the Netherlands in 1968, covers in detail the theory of Varangian (Viking) transmission of Greco-Roman legends in the ninth and tenth centuries. Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that Viking rovers and traders had penetrated the waterways of Russia (the Dvina, Dnieper, and Volga Rivers) to the Black and Caspian Seas as early as 825. The Vikings are even recorded as having attacked Constantinople in 860, and they later formed the backbone of the famed Varangian Guard of Byzantium.15 It would seem reasonable to assume that Byzantium, the last vestige of the Roman Empire, would become a compendium of Greco-Roman legend. This would explain, as Taylor points out, the Grecian and Arabic tales which are woven into the basic Brutus framework of Saxo’s Amleth tale.
The sagacity of Amleth in altering letters to gain a reprieve from a death sentence also turns up in the 839 AD account of Varangians in Constantinople in the Annales Bertiniani attributed to the scribes of Louis the Pious of the Holy Roman Empire. According to the annals, a group of Rus’ Varangians were attached to an embassy from the Romans of Constantinople to the Franks of Ingleheim and a letter from the Roman emperor was handed over to the German emperor by the emissaries. The letter identified them as being Rhos and that they had journeyed to Constantinople; but now their return home was blocked by nomads. They sought permission to return home through Germany, bypassing the nomads. But the Frankish emperor, Louis the Pious, thought the Roman letter may have been doctored and that the Varangians might actually be Vikings that often attacked the Franks from the north, that they might be Swedes. He held them for questioning, but the anal doesn’t tell us how the incident is resolved. Also, the shield and message theft and replacement in the Amleth tale is very close in theme to a story of King Florian of Constantinople.16
If the Byzantine tales were transmitted to Scandinavia by the Varangians, they were no doubt passed on by word of mouth, in song and saga, thereby gaining their respective Scandinavian superstructures. It is quite probable that the Byzantine tales were so ‘Nordicized’ by the time of Saxo Grammaticus that he may have considered them to be true Danish folklore. But how would Roman tales become localized in Danish history in the first place? The localization of legend would be greatly facilitated if a person, or focal point, existed around whom the tales could be spun. Marion Taylor claims that just such a person existed in Rorik the Dane, king of Jutland. King Rorik, Taylor states, was such a powerful figure that “He collected legends about him the way Mt. Fuji and Mt. Everest collect clouds about them.”17 Taylor maintains that although Gerutha, Horwendil, and Amleth were most likely mythical, Rorik the Dane was real as was also the infamous Rurik, founder of Russia.18
George Vernadsky, in his “History of Russia” tells us that the identification of Rurik of Novgorod as Roric of Jutland was first suggested by Friedrich Kruse in 1836,19 and he believes that the arguments put forth by N.T. Beliaev in 1926 prove this supposition to be valid. However, this connection has been refuted by many historians. This is a somewhat moot point though as far as we are concerned, for if Saxo believed that the Varangian/Byzantine legends surrounding Rurik of Novgorod were folklore about Rorik the Dane, he would have considered the two to be the same man. He had, as we have pointed out, much folklore collected, most of it undated, and if a tale surrounding Rurik could be dated through an existing King Rorik, he would have undoubtedly accommodated any inconsistencies in Rorik’s own history. But if the two men were truly separate individuals, would this not diminish Taylor’s claim that Rorik collected legends about himself? Not necessarily. Rorik and Rurik may have each collected their own legends about themselves and Saxo may have unwittingly combined the two kings into one person himself. But who were these two kings?
Rorik the Dane (c.800-c.870) was a king of Jutland and Friesland who roved in a true Viking sense, attacking Europe and England and earning a spot in real history through references to him in undisputable Frankish annals.20 Rurik of Novgorod was a Norseman called in to rule over Novgorod in c.856 as recorded in the Russian Primary Chronicle, written by a Russian monk named Nestor in the eleventh century.21 Rurik put his new kingdom into order and, according to the chronicle, died in c.879. He left a young son Ivar (Igor), but a kinsman, Helgi (Oleg), ruled in Novgorod after Rurik’s death. Oleg ruled until his legendary death by the bite of a snake that crawled out from under a horse’s skull and Ivar regained his father’s title in 912. The hotly debated Chronicle of Nestor tells us a tale of a young Prince Ivar who had his rightful throne usurped by his kinsman, Oleg, a prince who regained his throne after the mythical death of the usurper, a prince who died in battle fighting for his country. Marion A. Taylor asks: “Was Prince Igor the focal point for the collecting of the legendary tales of Amleth?”
Prince Ivar (Slavic: Igor), born circa 890-900 (896?), had been raised in the shadow of his older kinsman, but took power after him. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, young Prince Ivar (Igor) assumed the rule of Kiev, possibly under the tutelage of his mother, Princess Eyfura (Efanda), and married a local princess named Helga (Olga). Prince Ivar began a military campaign in Tmutorokan but had to return to Kiev to put down a revolt of the Drevjane people north of the capital circa 914.
Following the revolt of the Drevjane, Ivar increased the tributes required of his subjects, possibly to pay for military campaigns in Denmark and England. It was while collecting excessive tribute, that Prince Ivar and his retinue were attacked and captured by the Drevjane.
Leo the Deacon, an Eastern Roman annalist, born circa 950, described how Prince Ivar was treated. “They had bent down two birch trees to the prince’s feet and tied them to his legs, then they let the trees straighten again, thus tearing the prince’s body apart.”
But the above description is usually applied to Prince Igor’s second run-in with the Drevjane in 945, which resulted in his death. However, there is a twenty year lacuna in the Russian Chronicle in which there was no mention of Prince Ivar (Igor) between the 916-920 entry and the 935-941 entry. This corresponds with the appearance of a new king in Denmark called Harde Knute (Hard Knot) who ruled from 916 – 936 before leaving his kingdom to his son Gorm (Snake). It would be a hard knot, indeed, that caused your leg bones to be torn out of your body. Could this be the Ivar the Boneless that was carried into battle on a shield?
According to Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, Harde Knut is described as a Danish king who is a son of Erik, a descendant of Ragnar Lodbrok. And according to Adam of Bremen, he came from Northmannia, which could be Northumbria. Could this Erik be the son of Ragnar Lothbrok that helps a King Frodi conquer Russia in Book Five of Saxo’s Gesta Danorum? Could this Erik Disertus (Erik Bragi) be Rurik?
Or, like William Shakespeare years later, did a young Varangian skald help himself to legends and stories he was exposed to, perhaps in Byzantium, and create fantastic tales that propelled him to the forefront of his contemporaries….the poets and skalds of Scandinavia. Was this prince Bragi the Old? We must look to Book Five of “The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus” for answers.
Erik ‘Bragi’ Ragnarson: The Original Hamlet, Act 2 To Follow
NOTE: The recent copyright discovery by the author that Prince Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Rurikson (Slavic: Prince Igor) of Kiev was also King Harde Knute (Hard Knot) of Denmark, that Prince Svein ‘the Old’ Ivarson (Slavic: Prince Sviatoslav) of Kiev was later King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark and England and that Prince Valdamar ‘the Great’ (Slavic: Grand Prince Vladimir) of Kiev was also King Canute/Knute ‘the Great’ of England, Denmark and Norway (the early Knytlings or Knot Kings) is original, speculative and remains to be proven by said author, all rights reserved. To put it in the words of the Bard’s Prince Hamlet, “To be, or knot to be, that is the question.”
1 Cay Dollerup, Denmark, Hamlet and Shakespeare, (Salzburg: Salzburg Studies in English Literature, 1975), chronological and bibliographical reference acknowledged.
2 Frank Hubbard, The First Quarto Edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1920) pp.19-36.
3 Hubbard, pp.4-5.
4 Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare’s Sources, (n.p.: Methuen, 1957), pp.110-122.
5 Frank Hook, The French Bandello, (Columbia, University of Missouri, 1948), pp.9-20.
6 Giovanni Bach, The History of Scandinavian Literature, trans. Fredrika Blankner (n.p.: Dial Press, 1938), pp.161-163.
7 Oliver Elton, The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus, (n.p.: The Folklore Society, 1893), pp.104-117.
8 Elton, pp.118-130.
9 Bach, p.163.
10 Elton, p.8.
11 Elton, p.c.
12 Marion Taylor, A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet, (The Hague: Mouton, 1968), pp.25-32.
13 Dyonisius, Roman Antiquities, trans. Earnest Cary, (Harvard: Harvard University Press, n.d.), pp.406-09, freely adapted.
See also Livius Titus, The History of Rome, for same story.
14 Elton, p.cxvi.
15 Taylor, pp.25-32.
16 Taylor, p.29.
17 Taylor, p.45.
18 Taylor, pp.33-46.
19 George Vernadsky, A History of Russia Volume I, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943), p.337.
20 Vernadsky, p.365.
21 Taylor, p.38.
22 Vernadsky, p.366.
Bach, Giovanni. The History of Scandinavian Literature. Trans. Fredrika Blankner. n.p.: Dial Press, 1938.
Dionysius of Halicarnasis. Roman Antiquities. Trans. Earnest Cary. Harvard: Harvard University Press, n.d.
Dollerup, Cay. Denmark, Hamlet and Shakespeare. Salzburg: Salzburg Studies in English Literature, 1975.
Elton, Sir Oliver. The First Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. n.p.: The Folklore Society, 1893.
Hook, Frank. The French Bandello. Columbia: University of Missouri, 1948.
Hubbard, Frank. The First Quarto Edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1920.
Muir, Kenneth. Shakespeare’s Sources. n.p.: Methuen, 1957.
Taylor, Marion. A New Look at the Old Sources of Hamlet. The Hague: Mouton, 1968.
Vernadsky, George. A History of Russia Volume I. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943.