Norway in the Christian Middle Ages

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The sons of Magnus Barfot

Magnus Barfot had three sons: Sigurd , Øystein and Olav. All three of them became king side by side. We know next to nothing about Olav. He died in 1115 at the age of 17 without having made any political impact. Øystein cared much about the expansion of Bergen, where he founded the Benedictine - Munkeliv Abbey . Sigurd moved to Jerusalem at the age of 18, making him the first European king to go on a crusade . He is said to have sailed to Torarin Stuttfell in 1108 with 60 ships. 3 years later he came back with a splinter of the Holy Cross that he had received from Baldwin , king of the new Kingdom of Jerusalem, in recognition of his services. It was later kept in Nidaros Cathedral. Nothing is known about their domestic political effects. At the beginning of the reign of the three brothers, the Church of Norway was detached from the Archdiocese of Hamburg / Bremen in 1104 and added to the new Archdiocese of Lund . King Øystein built shelters for the fishermen in Lofoten. In 1123 Øystein died and Sigurd was the only king. A stone head with his portrait was found under the Munkeliv monastery. It is considered to be the first portrait of a Norwegian king. In 1129 the Irishman Harald Gille (Gilchrist) underwent the iron test (see fire test ) to prove that he was a son of Magnus Barfot. He was recognized as a brother by Sigurd.

Civil war

The sources

Snorri reports extensively on its source around 1230. It is a saga by Erik Oddsson called Hryggjarstykki . Erik had partly experienced the events from 1134 to 1139 himself, partly had the participants report to him. The book is lost, but many except Snorri have drawn from it. Snorri says Erik reported on Inge, Sigurd, Harald and Magnus "until they died". From the context it cannot be inferred whose death is meant, the death of Magnus and Harald Gille in 1139, or Inge's case in 1161. In any case, Hryggjarstykki is the first contemporary saga in Norwegian historiography. All royal sagas from 1130 onwards are contemporary sagas or draw from contemporary reports and are therefore of particular source value. In addition to Snorri, Morkinskinna and Fagrskinna also drew on Ottar and other contemporary records. In addition to these sagas, a new group of sources has now been added: the oldest Norwegian laws Gulathingslov and Frostathingslov and parts of Eidsivathingslov and Borgarthingslov, the old city law of Trondheim. Important letters and documents from the 12th century have also survived. From the civil war onwards, the science of history has a much more solid foundation. That is why the period from the Civil War to the middle of the 15th century is also known as the “Norwegian High Middle Ages”.

Magnus Sigurdsson and Harald Gille

Sigurd Jorsalfari had appointed his illegitimate son Magnus to be king and secured the oath of the people that they would accept him. Harald Gille came to Norway with his Irish mother from Ireland and claimed to be his brother and proved this by passing an iron test as a divine judgment. Before Sigurd recognized him as a brother, he made it a condition that Harald should not become king either during his lifetime or during the lifetime of his son Magnus. According to the sagas, this appeared to the people to be unlawful, because it contradicted the rule of succession, according to which all men who were descended from a king were called to rule equally. The regulation was of little use after his death. Harald found support from some of the lumbermen during Sigurd's lifetime . The sagas portray Harald Gille as being friendly to everyone. Generous and sociable as he was, he had an easier time finding followers than Magnus Sigurdsson, who was described as stingy and haughty. But according to the sagas, neither of them should have been particularly clever.

At the time of Sigurd's death in Oslo in 1130, his son Magnus was in Oslo, where he was immediately proclaimed king. Harald was in Tønsberg and had himself proclaimed king on Haugathing in the town. He was so strong in the Oslofjord that Magnus had to accept him as fellow king. In autumn 1130 they were both confirmed as fellow kings on the Øyrathing. When the two kings wintered in Trondheim in 1133/1134, there was almost an open dispute between the two. When they separated, Magnus decided to drive Harald out of the country. Both raised troops in the southern part of the country, and the Battle of Fyrileiv, the first battle of the civil war, took place in northern Båhuslen in August 1134 . Magnus emerged victorious from it. The throne controversy expanded to all three Nordic kingdoms, as they were all linked by mutual marriages and had not given up the ambitions to rule from the Viking Age over parts of the other kingdoms. The queens played a special role in this network. Because through them the family was continued, and through the inheritance and succession regulations, economic resources could also change royal houses. The collusion, cemented by marriage, gave energetic queens great political influence.

Bishop Reinald is hanged

After the defeat of Fyrileiv, Harald Gille sought support from the Danish King Erik Emune . He could count on that, as Harald had supported Erik in the fight for his throne when Erik's uncle Nils had tried to eliminate Erik with the help of Magnus Haraldsson of Norway. Shortly after New Year 1135, Harald Gille attacked Magnus in Bergen with superior troops. Magnus was captured and Harald blinded him, chopped off his foot and castrated him. As Magnus the Blind , he took him to the Munkeliv monastery on Nidarholm near Trondheim. Harald believed that Bishop Reinald was managing his brother Magnus' property. Reinald refused to hand it over and was hanged.

But there were more pretenders to the throne, since the kings kept mistresses wherever they went, whose sons were also entitled to the throne. As early as 1136, a Sigurd Slembe performed by King Harald Gille in Bergen , who claimed to be an illegitimate son of Magnus Barfot. The Loins of Magnus tried to get rid of him, but he barely escaped. He returned to Bergen in late autumn. In December he and a few helpers killed Sigurd Gille in the bed of a mistress and, in accordance with the regulations, publicly admitted the manslaughter the next day, so that it was not a murder, and demanded rule of the kings. But only a few joined him because killing a man while he was sleeping was viewed as “envy”. Sigurd then freed Magnus the blind from Nidarholm monastery around New Year 1137.

Inge Krokrygg and Sigurd Munn

The family ties between the Norwegian and Danish kings at the beginning of the 12th century
Sigurd Slembe is tortured.

The people around Harald Gille feared that Sigurd Slembe would move to Trøndelag, where his maternal clan lived and where he could also hope to become followers of Magnus the Elder. To win the blind would go and send couriers there. They achieved that the 4-year-old illegitimate son of Harald Gille, Sigurd Munn, was proclaimed king on the Øyrathing (he was nicknamed “munn” because of his disfigured mouth). One of the leading men on the thing was Ottar Birting, whom the queen widow Ingrid later married. Her two-year-old son Inge Krogrygg (= the hunchback) was proclaimed king on the Borgarthing in the Oslofjord. This resulted in a new dual kingship based on the interests of the aristocracy. Sigurd Slembe gathered a troop in Oppland, but was beaten by the loyal King Inges at Minne, whereupon he went about plundering almost in the Viking style, before moving to Denmark. In this turmoil, the Danish King Erik Emune attacked Oslo, plundered it and burned it down. When relief came, he withdrew. In the summer of 1138 Sigurd and Magnus left Denmark and plundered the coast of southern Norway. They wintered there and in December 1139 sailed into the Oslofjord with a Danish-Norwegian fleet. There they met the united forces of the child kings Sigurd and Inge. They were defeated at the Battle of Holmengrå. Magnus d. Blind was killed in battle, but Sigurd Slembe was captured and tortured to death.

In 1142 another illegitimate son of Harald Gille named Øystein , born in the mid-1920s of the 12th century, was brought to Norway. He brought his own retinue with him. As the two children grew up, they too each had their own suite. Shortly after 1150, Øystein moved to the British Isles, subjugated the Orkneys and robbed England and Scotland in the old Viking fashion.

As Inge and Sigurd grew up, tensions arose between the two, which is probably mainly due to the respective counselors who tried to expand the influence of their respective masters at the expense of the other. This is especially true for the circle around Inge as the only one whose mother was also queen. They sought support from the Church. Nevertheless, there were initially no tangible arguments between the two.

Archdiocese of Nidaros

There was also a lot going on in the church: English monks founded the Cistercian monastery Lysekloster near Bergen in 1146 and the Mariakloster (also Cistercian) on Hovedøya in 1147. In 1152 Pope Anastasius IV sent Cardinal Bishop Nikolaus Breakspear to Norway as plenipotentiary. There he established a Norwegian church province with an archbishop in Nidaros. It can be assumed that there was a long diplomatic lead. The sources only report that King Sigurd Jorsalfari campaigned for the creation of an archbishopric in Norway. Norway was divided into four dioceses, plus the dioceses on the Faroe Islands and Greenland. In addition, the introduction of tithing gave the church a stable financial basis. There had been a religious renewal movement under Sigurd and his brothers, and many monasteries were established from the east coast of England. These in turn brought the currents of continental European reform movements to Norway. Nikolaus Breakspear was an Augustinian himself . Politically, the ecclesiastical province was first in 1103/1104 when the ecclesiastical province of Lund was spun off from the archbishopric of Hamburg / Bremen , to which Norway was then added. In 1130 the Curia needed German help and in return placed Norway temporarily under Hamburg / Bremen again. There are indications that Norway and Sweden should have been spun off from the Archdiocese of Lund earlier. After all, Reidar is listed as the first Norwegian Archbishop in old bishops' lists, but according to the Icelandic annals he died on his way home after his consecration in 1151. The establishment of an archbishopric in Trondheim was also in the interests of the Norwegian kings, in particular the integration of the islands claimed by Norway in the west. After all, the chiefs of the Orkneys , the Hebrides and the Isle of Man had visited King Inge in Bergen at the beginning of the 1250s. In addition, in February 1152, the Roman-German King Konrad III. died, and the future emperor Friedrich Barbarossa from the anti-Gregorian camp stood for election. The separation of the Norwegian-Swedish church provinces from a German sphere of power was an obvious choice.

The cardinal was on good terms with Inge, while there was a conflict with Sigurd and Øystein which forced them to make a comparison. The reason is not known. It is possible that Sigurd and Øystein did not want to support the far-reaching concessions made to the church as a result of the Gregorian reform movement. It may also be that the cardinal resented the fact that Sigurd and Kristin, the daughter of Sigurd Jorsalfaris, had committed incest, from which the son Markus was born, and that Øystein had also attacked churches and monasteries during his raids in Scotland and England.

The Pope's confirmation letter is dated November 30, 1154. However, when Nikolaus Breakspear founded the archbishopric cannot be precisely determined. It was either fall 1152 or the first half of 1153. Jon Birgersson became the first archbishop . The event took place during the renovation and expansion of the Christ Church in Nidaros. The three kings, the bishops of the country and the most distinguished representatives of all parts of the country and dioceses came to the consecration of the archbishop, so that it also became a church and imperial assembly that served as a model for later imperial assemblies and synods.

Nothing is known about the negotiations for the establishment of the archbishopric. But the church was reorganized: in addition to the four dioceses, a fifth was added in Hamar. It also included the six western bishoprics of Skálholt and Hólar on Iceland , Greenland , Faroe Islands , the Orkneys and the Hebrides . In addition, a Rome tax ( Peterspfennig ) in the amount of one pfennig was introduced for every head of the family who owned more than 3 marks in addition to clothing and weapons. The right of the citizens to carry arms in the city was restricted, clergymen were no longer allowed to take part in fighting unless the empire was attacked by pagans. In ecclesiastical matters, the clergy were subordinate to ecclesiastical courts only. The right of the state or the private church leaders to choose the clergy in the churches was abolished. Another important innovation with far-reaching effects was the rule that church foundations did not require the consent of the heirs. Previously they were limited to a tenth of the property (main ten). Now a tenth of the inheritance and a quarter of the self-acquired assets could be donated. Since this contradicted the state laws, the imperial assembly on the occasion of the establishment of the archbishopric served to accept this change in law. Nevertheless, these changes had to be confirmed again by the responsible thing assemblies. In Borgarthingslov this change was not implemented until 1223/1224. All of these innovations were by no means immediately implemented. They were more of a political program than a reality. Cathedral chapters were assigned to the episcopal churches. But they were not Augustinian canons as they were on the continent. They were secular clergymen with high rank and influence, but without special rules and without any obligation to live in community, and they certainly continued to have private property and prebends . But there were also conventions for regular canons of the ordo novus .

The end of the three kings

After Cardinal Breakspear left for Sweden, tensions between the kings increased dramatically. King Inge learned of a plan by his fellow kings to depose him on the occasion of settlement negotiations in the winter of 1154/1155. This led him to a preemptive strike against Sigurd in the summer of 1155 in Bergen. Sigurd was ambushed and slain. In 1156 there was initially a comparison between Inge and Øystein, but this only resulted in a pause in the dispute. In 1157 there was another fight. Øystein had to flee from the overwhelming forces of Inges, was caught up and killed on August 21, 1157 in Båhuslän. Inge was the sole ruler. He owed this success to two followers: Gregorius Dagsson and Erling Ormsson . Gregorius had established the network around Inge and had learned about the attack by the fellow kings. The focus was on Vestland and the Oslofjord. Erling was the head of the Støle clan in Sunnhordland . He owed his reputation to a trip to Palestine between 1152 and 1155 with the Orcadian bishop Wilhelm the Elder. Alten and the local chief, where he was injured by a blow in the neck while boarding a Muslim ship, so that he has been tilting his head since then, which is why he was nicknamed “Skakke” (= the crooked). It is probably the Norman support for King Baldwin III. at the siege of Askalon from the sea, which ended with the conquest on August 22, 1153. The reputation also meant that Erling had the legitimate daughter Sigurd Josarlfaris Kristin as his wife, which was of great importance for the later development.

Gregorius and Erling were of opposite natures. They had their own armed forces. Gregorius had 90 helmeted men on two ships, and he himself wore a gold helmet, was a man of quick decisions and was clumsy in battle and without tactics. Erling also had a troop and at least one longship. He was forward-looking and was also more tactical.

The followers of the killed kings organized the resistance against Inge. They had their greatest support in Trøndelag, Oppland and east of the Oslofjord. There King Øystein was even considered holy after his death. The crystallization point was a son of Sigurd Munn, whom he had with a maid, named Håkon Herdebrei (1147–1162). This resistance movement made Håkon king outside of the Thing assemblies in 1157. This type of king's elevation outside the thing assembly by the followers of a dead king was widely practiced during the Civil War. In the winter of 1158/1159 Håkon was confirmed as co-king in Trøndelag. Since he was still a child, Sigurd Håvardsson led the following fights on his behalf.

This approach led to tough countermeasures by King Inge and Gregorius. In 1158 there was a punitive expedition in the Ostland because Håkon had been supported there. For the first time there were raids between trading locations. A warrior caste began to develop that robbed and burned everything with which it was not connected through clan ties. The raids in 1159 led to spontaneous alliances of the affected population under their Lendmann to ward off these attacks. King Inge defeated Håkon Herdebrei in the Battle of Kongshelle. Håkon fled to Trøndelag, gathered an army and moved again to the Oslofjord, from there to Sweden and Denmark.

The contradiction between Erling and Gregorius intensified. The conflict broke out over the plan of attack against the troops Håkon Herdebreis 1159. The next summer there was an open conflict, which King Inge was only able to resolve with difficulty. But only Gregorius followed him east towards Håkon Herdebrei. On January 7, 1161, Gregorius fell in combat with a division of Håkon Herdebreis' troops. Gregorius rushed to attack the enemy across a river that was not sufficiently frozen, broke in and was killed by an arrow in the neck. After the death of Gregorius the cohesion in the troop was lost. On February 4th there was a fight between King Inge and King Håkon at the Oslofjord. Part of King Inge's army defected to the enemy, and King Inge was also killed by an arrow. Now Håkon was the sole king in Norway and was confirmed on Øyrathing in the spring.

The time of Erling Skakke

Erling Skakke gathered the faithful of the fallen King Inge around him. He and Kristin, the daughter of King Sigurd, had the 5-year-old son Magnus . Since the latter was also entitled to the royal throne through his mother, he had him proclaimed king in 1161 from the Thing in Bergen. Then he sought support from King Waldemar of Denmark against Håkon Herdebrei . This was the cousin of his wife Kristin. Because his mother Ingeborg Mstislavna von Novgorod was the sister of Malmfred, Kristine's mother. Waldemar wanted to extend his power to Norway, primarily to Viken . In 1161 it was agreed that Waldemar would support Magnus' claim to the throne against the surrender of rule over Viken. This agreement also meant that he did not take sides with Emperor Barbarossa in the dispute over the papal election, but with Alexander III. held. In 1162 Erling surprised his enemies on the island of Sekken in Romsdal and killed Håkon Herdebrei. Magnus received the royal homage on the Øyrathing. Since he could not rely on the Trønder, he moved to the Oslofjord, while the opposing party rallied around Sigurd Sigurdsson Markusfostre , the son of Sigurd Munn, who had been on the Swedish border. Magnus had the disadvantage that his claim to the throne could only be derived from his mother, while Sigurd was the king's son. He received support in the Båhus area and later in Trøndelag. But the Church highly valued that Magnus, unlike Sigurd, was born in wedlock. But she was in trouble herself. The legal changes of 1152 were not implemented, the clergy split between the crown pretenders. After the death of Archbishop Jon Birgisson, King Inge Øystein Erlendsson from a Trønder clan appointed him as his successor. In 1161 he went to Pope Alexander III. for the consecration and the pallium and not for his antipope Viktor IV. On this trip he stayed for a while in the reformed monastery of St. Victor in Paris. No sooner was he back than he was vigorously pursuing the goal of economic independence for the Church. To do this, he doubled the fines because the silver content of the coins had fallen by half. Øystein is said to have countered Erling's accusation of defying the law by pointing to the weakness of Magnus' royal descent. A compromise was reached, which resulted in the coronation and anointing of 7-year-old Magnus in the cathedral in Bergen with great splendor, probably by Øystein himself. That probably happened in the late summer of 1163.

On this occasion, an imperial assembly was convened, to which the papal legate Stephen also attended. It was the first church coronation in Norway and had great domestic political significance. Now the king was appointed by the church with the authority of God. This particular consecration made up for the weakness of his parentage. His oath read:

I, King Magnus, pledge and swear by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit over these holy relics that from now on I will be faithful and obedient to the Holy Roman Church and its Supreme Bishop, Lord Alexander, and his Catholic successors and what the Lord Pope Hadrian stipulated when he came as a legate to the Norwegian Empire, would keep. ... "

The Norwegian king officially took sides with Pope Alexander and the Gregorian reform . This also gave the Norwegian royalty a new shape. It now had the task of exercising justice against everyone (this follows from the further text of the oath) and to support the church.

The right of succession to the throne was then changed at the Imperial Assembly with the participation of Archbishop Øystein. According to this, the legitimate son of a king should succeed him who is less wicked and ignorant. But if these qualities drove the elder out of the country, then the king should become, whom the archbishop with his bishops and the 12 most educated men from each diocese considered to be best suited. With that the co-kingship was abolished. In addition, the necessity of marital birth, which was previously unknown in Norway, and the equally unknown primogeniture were established as a rule. In addition, the firstborn of the king who died last had the succession to the throne before his father's brothers. When heirs were lacking, the most suitable should become king. But the right of succession to the throne contained no automatism. The throne was acquired through a formal act of election. The law moved this election from the local tributes to the imperial assembly with all bishops, abbots, aristocrats and the most educated men in order to select the best from those capable of kings. These 12 men from the 5 dioceses are the remnants of the royal election by all free farmers on the Landesthingen, which is now being carried out as a representative election. This law of succession to the throne was unique in Europe. But it would take some time to apply. In this context, Archbishop Øystein apparently also wrote his own Christian law, which was called “ Gullfjær ” (gold pen).

Erling immediately set about fighting his son's opponents by all means, and soon there was no more competition for him. Then King Waldemar of Denmark reminded him of the agreement and demanded rule over Viken. Erling mobilized popular opinion there against the agreement. Then Waldemar wrote a letter to Trøndelag to mobilize Erling's opponents there. In the summer of 1165 he himself came to the Oslofjord with a large army. Everything remained peaceful and he was recognized as king on the Borgarthing. But Erling kept the castle in Tønsberg in Vestfold locked to him, and the bishops refused to meet him. In 1167 Erling invaded Denmark, and Waldemar responded in 1168 with an expedition to the Oslofjord. Again he was well received, this time even in Tønsberg, which is probably due to the fact that he had lifted a previous traffic ban between Norway and Denmark with negative economic consequences. Then Erling thought a comparison would be advisable and sent his wife Kristin to Denmark to see her royal cousin. We owe the peace of 1170 to her. The participation of the Bishop of Oslo shows that the economic interests of the local population weighed heavily. Erling recognized Waldemar as Oberkönig in Viken, but was able to rule there himself as a royal jarl. The peace would last as long as Erling and Magnus lived. Shortly after the peace, Erling and Kristin's marriage broke up. She is said to have moved to Constantinople with another man and had a child by him. Erling then killed Markus, her former son from the incest with Sigurd Munn. After a few quiet years, further unrest broke out in the east in Båhuslän. An uprising crystallized around Øystein Møyla , a son of King Øystein, the son of Harald Gilles. Telemark joined the uprising against the rulers in the Oslofjord. They came plundering from the northern highlands. But the loins and peasants forced them back into the woods and into the wasteland. The clothing was so torn that it no longer covered the legs. They wrapped their feet and legs with birch bark, which is why they were nicknamed " Birkebeiner ". They managed to get ships and they went to Trøndelag, where they immediately found allies. On the way they attacked Erling in Nidaros, killing the town's chief lover. Øystein received the royal dignity on the Øyrathing in 1176. In the winter of 1176/1177 he moved with his birch legs from Trøndelag to the Ostland to attack King Magnus in Tønsberg. But although they outnumbered them, they were repulsed at Re, north of the town of New Year 1177. Øystein Møyla was killed while trying to escape. He was the last anti-king to lose his life in the fight against the royal rule from the Oslofjord.

The next anti-king was Sverre , who claimed to be the son of Sigurd Munn. He was supported from Sweden. West Swedish aristocrats were related to the Sigurd Munn clan through marriages. Birger Brosa, the Jarl over Götaland , was married to Sigurd's sister Brigida and supported him in agreement with the Swedish King Knut Eriksson . His sister Margret later married King Sverre. Folkvid, law spokesman in Värmland, had Cecilia , Sigurd Munn's daughter, as his wife. Both women, Brigida and Cecilia, were very committed to Sverre. And King Canute also had to struggle with rivals who were supported by the Danish King Waldemar, who in turn was an ally of Erling Skakke and his son Magnus, so that an alliance with Sverre was close. For Sverre this meant safe retreats in Sweden. He compensated for his numerical inferiority with high agility and guerrilla tactics. He suddenly invaded unprepared centers of hostile power. As a result, he also trained his own team in combat. He also placed great emphasis on detailed exploration of the enemy and was a master of the ruse. He also tried to soften the opposing front by treating the defeated opponents mildly. Added to this was the old hostility to Magnus in Trøndelag, which made him move there as quickly as possible. There he won his first important victory over the Lendmenn of Magnus near Trondheim in the spring of 1177 and was made king on the Øyrathing in June. The following autumn he conquered Trondheim, which gave him his own power center for wintering. In the early summer of 1179, Erling Skakke and Magnus came north with a large fleet. The Birkebeiner withdrew from the city and surprisingly came back a few days later on July 19th, early in the morning, when the Erling men were still sleepy and drunk from the Victory Festival. Only 600 men were able to follow Erling and Magnus outside the city against the Birkebeiner. Erling was mortally wounded in this battle on Kalvskinnet, a large part of the aristocrats fell, and Magnus only barely escaped on the ship. Much of the fleet fell into the hands of Sverre.

The end of the civil war

The end of King Magnus

The Battle of Kalvskinnet was the great turning point in Sverre's struggle for royal power. Before he had only been the chief of a troop for most of them, now he was worthy of a king for many. He had his strongest support in Trøndelag, but in the rest of the country Magnus still had the upper hand. Bergen and Vestland stayed on King Magnus' side. The same was true of the Oslofjord, even after Magnus' death. Magnus was also stronger in Oppland and Hålogaland. He was also able to bring in reinforcements from Denmark. Economically and militarily, he had greater resources than Sverre. The bishops were also on his side. Archbishop Øystein left his diocese in 1178, as did Bishop Eirik of Stavanger, in order to provide military support to Magnus and her team, although can. 1163 forbade them to fight with arms. The struggle against each other expanded. It was initially about the power centers Trondheim and Bergen. Sverre's style of warfare differed significantly from the traditional order of battle of concentrated fighters with the king's mark at the head and ships tied together in sea combat. He stayed more directing in the background and set up his troops in smaller, separate and very mobile units. Evil tongues often interpreted this as cowardice. He had larger and higher-sided ships built and built larger fortifications than was customary in Norway up to that point, in particular he preferred stone castles. The war lasted five years with varying fortunes. After the victories over Magnus in the battles of Kalvskinn in 1179 and of Ilevoll in 1180, both near Trondheim, the latter fled to Denmark. Archbishop Øystein fled to England in 1180. Sverre offered Magnus the division of the empire. But the latter moved to Trøndelag again with a fleet and suffered another defeat at Ilevoll. On May 31, there was a sea battle near Bergen, with Sverre winning the fight despite being numerically inferior and driving Magnus away. Shortly afterwards he came back, this time with the reinforcement of Bishop Eirik of Stavanger. The Birkebeiner withdrew to Trondheim. In 1181 Sverre apparently took Oslo without a fight. Magnus had now conquered Trondheim twice. In 1182 things were bad again for Sverre. He had recaptured Trondheim, but was stuck there while Magnus and his fleet in the Trondheimsfjord collected the taxes from all of Trøndelag. But on land the Birkebeiner were the masters. Magnus therefore had to retreat to Bergen for lack of a base on land. In the summer of 1183, Sverre surprisingly attacked Bergen during the night and put all resistance to flight, so that Magnus had to flee again to Denmark. After this battle there was a settlement with Archbishop Øystein, so that he could return to his archbishopric. He promised to give up open resistance to Sverre, and Sverre promised to recognize the agreements with Cardinal Nikolaus Breakspeare when the archbishopric was founded. There was a détente between Sverre and the church. After Easter 1184, Sverre first put down the resistance in Vestland and Sogndal in a punitive expedition. To do this, he drove into the Sognefjord. Then he was with his fleet of 14 ships at the exit of the Sognefjord near Fimreite . On June 15, Magnus came from the Oslofjord with 26 ships. He had been very popular on the way. Magnus lined up for battle in the traditional manner, tying his large ships together while Sverre let his ships sail loosely. Magnus, with his ships tied together, headed for one of the main ships of Sverre's “ Mariasude ”, and the crew suffered badly from the attack. But Sverre jumped into a smaller boat and directed his ships to the flanks where the fleet was vulnerable. There he cleaned one ship after the other of the crew. Because the crew of the attacked ships, who did not know how to deal with an attack from the side - the frontal battle between Steven and Steven was common - jumped into the neighboring ship, where they caused chaos and panic. The crew partially jumped into the sea, and the last ship sank due to overcrowding. There must have been an unusually high number of deaths, including King Magnus. But that was by no means the end of the civil war.

King Sverre

Sverre continued to have the chiefs of Vestland against him. In 1185 the Kuvlunge rose up around a monk Jon Kuvlung (“monk's robe”) who claimed to be the son of King Inge Krokrygg.

They conquered Tønsberg and ruled the Oslofjord for three years, settled temporarily in Vestland and attacked Sverre several times in Trondheim. Archbishop Øystein died on January 26, 1188, but had previously appointed Eirik Ivarsson as his successor, who had previously been King Sverre's most active ecclesiastical opponent as Bishop of Stavanger. In autumn Jon kuvlunge was honored at the Øyrathing. In December 1188, the Kuvlunge in Bergen were attacked and Jon was killed.

Archbishop Eirik was a Victorian, that is, an Augustinian of the direction of St. Victor. In his zeal for the Gregorian reforms, he went beyond his predecessor Øystein. He was elected at the Imperial Synod of Bergen in 1188 and returned from Rome with the pallium in 1189. At first there was a certain agreement between the king and archbishop. At a new imperial synod in 1188/1189, both of them issued a state peace order based on the European model, in which churches, clergy and women were given special protection and the carrying of arms in the church and on the thing was forbidden.

In 1189, however, there were new unrest. This time the resistance gathered around Sigurd Brenna, another son of King Inge. The farmers in the Oslofjord beat and drove the troops away.

Now there was an open rift between King Sverre and the Archbishop. The archbishop refused to crown Sverre in the church without the consent of Pope. Sverre appointed Father Martin as the new Bishop of Bergen, refused the agreement between Erling Skakke and Archbishop Øystein about the full silver course for penance to the bishop and cut the Archbishop's entourage on visitation trips from 90 to 30 men according to the Frostathingslov. This of course also meant that the archbishop insisted on the agreements of 1152/1153 and those with King Magnus. In doing so, he relied on Øystein's Christian law, called “Gullfjær”, canon law and papal letters and insisted that divine law must constantly grow and never be diminished. Sverre denied the Church some of the newfound righteousness she interpreted. He demanded that the church submit to him. So he claimed for himself the right to use priests for churches on royal land. He also rejected ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the extent desired by the church. He also did not recognize the 1189 bishopric election in Stavanger for Eirik's successor because he had not been there and cast the first vote according to the canons of 1163. It was Nikolas Arnason , son of Queen Ingrid (wife of King Harald Gilles) and comrade in arms of King Magnus. Nikolas was then elected Bishop of Oslo in 1190. Archbishop Eirik left the country in 1190 and sought refuge with Archbishop Absalon in Lund. In a letter of complaint to the Pope, he complains that Sverre has confiscated the episcopal property and income. Both submitted their complaint to the Pope. But due to the change of Pope in 1191, it took four years for the Curia to respond.

And again there was a local uprising, this time led by a Simon Káresson, which the farmers of the Oslofjord also fought back. Sverre's brother Erik, his wife and son died in Tønsberg in quick succession. It was rumored that they were poisoned. In the summer of 1191 a fighting force under Torleif Breiskjegg rehearsed the uprising. The farmers of the Oslofjord fought the group down and Torleif was killed.

Bishop Nikolas in Oslo organized the resistance against King Sverre. He was probably also behind the uprising of 1193 on the Orkneys under the leadership of the Norwegian circles around Erling Skakke and his son Magnus in agreement with the Orkneyjarl Harald. Many Shetlanders followed them on their move to Norway under the military leader Halkell Jonsson zu Blindheim. They were called " Øyskjeggene " because they came from the islands . Sigurd, son of Magnus Erlingsson, was the heir to the throne for them. They conquered the Oslofjord and also established themselves in Bergen. But on Palm Sunday 1194 they were defeated in a bloody sea battle in Florvåg near Bergen, and Halkell and Sigurd fell. The survivors then joined the baglers .

That summer, Pope Celestine III presented himself . in a bull dated June 15, 1194 fully backed Archbishop Eirik and agreed with him on all essential points. The papal letter ended with a ban threat against anyone who opposed the provisions of 1152/1153 and Magnus Erlingsson's reforms. Sverre was crowned on June 29, 1194 under the direction of Bishop Nikolas of Oslo. Nikolas was threatened with life because of his involvement in the Orkney uprising, leaving him no choice. Thereupon Bishop Eirik banned King Sverre of Lund from the church. The bishops who crowned him were banned by the Pope in November of the same year. The archbishop invited them to Lund before him. The church leadership now uncompromisingly behind the archbishop. Sverre's will to fight remained unbroken and he shied away from any means of propaganda. He persuaded the bishops at an imperial synod in 1195 to write a letter to the Pope with him, claiming that the papal statement for Eirik was a rumor spread by the Danes and that the ban Eirik had pronounced was against his own eyes have. Because Eirik was blind in Denmark. He later claimed that he had received letters from the Pope in which the ban had been lifted. In the autumn of 1195, Bishop Nikolas moved to Lund and compared himself with Archbishop Absalon von Lund and Archbishop Eirik.

The 1st Bagler War

In 1196, Bishop Nikolas Arnason of Oslo founded the Bagler party (Bagall = anord. “Crosier”) in Skåne against King Sverre under his political and military leadership. The ecclesiastical resistance was combined with the secular resistance against Sverre. Inge, the alleged son of Magnus Erlingsson, became the crystallization figure. He was paid homage to the Borgarthing. The Baglers ruled the Oslofjord and Oppland .

Sverre intensified his propaganda. The highlight was a pamphlet “ En tale mot biskopene ” (A speech against the bishops) written by a clergyman who was well versed in canon law . This writing was intended for reading and was intended to prove to the general public that the church was in the wrong and that the clergy had started the dispute with the king. The fact that the Church was wrong was proven by a clever selection of quotations from the Decretum Gratiani . The speech was based on a theocratic ideology: the king ruled on God's behalf and therefore also had guardianship over the church as its protection and guardian. In return, the clergy owed him allegiance. The consequence was that an unjustified ban does not affect the innocent banned.

In 1196, the 1st Bagler War broke out.

On July 26, 1197, the Battle of Oslo took place, where the Baglers under Nikolas Arnesson suffered a heavy defeat. In 1198 there was a sea battle in Trondheimsfjord, in which the baglers were victorious.

In 1198 Innocent made it clear that the letters about King Sverre's ban were forged. He ordered the Norwegian bishops to impose the interdict on all parts of the country that opposed the papal ruling and continued to support King Sverre . It is doubtful whether the order was implemented, as church life did not come to a standstill.

In 1199, however, the situation for King Sverre became difficult. The baglers attacked Nidaros at Pentecost. On June 18, the battle of Strindsjøen broke out, and the baglers were defeated. Thereupon Sverre forced the building of ships for new attacks against the baglers. Three years of fighting for the Oslofjord followed. The poorly organized peasant armies of the Bagler Sverres Birkebeinern were inferior.

His last battle was the conquest of Bergen around New Year 1202. He fell ill during the siege and deteriorated on his return trip to Bergen in February 1202. He died on March 8, 1202.

Despite his undiminished strength in the empire, at the end of his life it seemed advisable to end his quarrel with the church, and on the deathbed he advised his son and successor, Håkon, to seek a comparison with the church.

Church life was not completely paralyzed by the interdict in Norway, even after all the bishops left the country. Sverre continued to have spiritual helpers and also received the sacraments on his deathbed and was buried in a Christian way.

Despite the widespread bitterness of the upper classes against King Sverre, more and more aristocrats converted to the Birkebeinern after his death.

King Håkon Sverreson

What is known about the years 1202-1217 comes from the so-called Baglesaga (Böglunga sögur), a small contemporary work that bridges the gap between the sagas of Sverre and Håkon Håkonsson. It describes the transition period and the period of upheaval in a very informative manner.

Sverre's only son, Håkon , learned of his father's death in Trondheim in the spring of 1202, together with the letter in which Sverre advised him to seek a settlement with the church. Håkon brought back the bishops who had fled the land and compared himself to the Church in the summer of 1202. Pope Innocent III later reproached Archbishop Erik for having released Håkon from the spell he had fallen into because of his father's support, but praised Håkon for his conciliatory attitude. In the king's settlement letter, the church was granted all the privileges it had received since 1151/1152. But this was expressly subject to the proviso that this could not be done at the expense of Håkon's kingship. The church and clergy had to show him all the honor and respect that were due to him as the legal king. Incidentally, the text was so general and vague that both sides could live with it. For Håkon, however, the comparison brought recognition of his kingship on the part of the church. With this comparison, Håkon broke the coalition between the church and the Baglers and thus strengthened his position in the east of the country. In the summer of 1202, the farmers of Oppland attacked the Bagler King Inge Magnusson and killed him. The Bagler party went into dissolution by mutual agreement between the Birkebeiner aristocracy and the Bagler chiefs.

But the situation changed suddenly when King Håkon died in Bergen on New Year's Day in 1204. He was probably poisoned. The Birkebeiners chose the 4-year-old Guttorm , son of Sverre's late son Sigurd Lavard, as the new king . As a result, a group of young and ambitious Birkebeiner chiefs around Sverre's nephew Håkon took over the power of government. Håkon was immediately made a jarl. He was a skilled warrior, but so inaccessible to advice that he was nicknamed Galen , "the madman". The baglers did not accept that and gathered around a supposed son of Magnus Erlingsson named Erling Steinvegg in Denmark . They immediately received support from the Danish king Waldemar II. He hoped to restore the old sovereignty over the Oslofjord. In the summer of 1204 Waldemar came to the Oslofjord with a large Danish fleet. According to Danish annals, Erling swore the feudal oath there and was installed as king on the Haugathing. In the meantime, on both sides, it was the troops who determined the choice of king on the respective thing. But when Guttorm died in Nidaros in August 1204, the mood on the Birkebein side changed. The royal army wanted to make Håkon Galen king, but he had to bow to the Øyrathing of the alliance between the archbishop and the peasant aristocracy in Trøndelag. This brought his Swedish ancestry from the father's side into play. He was a son from the marriage of Sverre's sister Cecilia Sigurdsdatter to the Swedish law spokesman for Värmland, Folkvid. The alliance, however, put Inge Bårdsson through, a son from Cecilia's second marriage to the noble Bård Guttormsson von Rein. He was chosen because he came from a respected Trønder family and probably also because he was more peaceful than Håkon. However, Håkon remained the military leader with the right to half the king's income, probably mainly from Vestland. Inge II stayed mostly in Trøndelag.

The 2nd Bagler War

But the baglers did not want to give up the fight. In the second Bagler War that followed, the Birkebeiners were able to rely on Trøndelag and Vestland, while the Baglers in the Oslofjord had their following. However, the war did not reach the same intensity as the 1st Bagler War. Both sides called for mobilization, but they did not succeed in mobilizing broader strata of the people for the fight. By and large, it became a battle between contingents of professional warriors among their leaders. There was constant movement of troops by sea, the baglers constantly attacked somewhere, but they did not succeed in establishing themselves anywhere outside the Oslofjord. The Birkebeiner apparently had a certain superiority, but this was not enough to conquer the Oslofjord. In 1205 the blind Archbishop Erik gave up his office. He was succeeded by Tore Gudmundsson , an Augustinian Victorinian . But at least the baglers even had to move to Denmark before the Birkebeinern.

The period from 1206 to 1228 was the time in Norwegian history when more warships were built and used than ever before or since. But the success of this upgrade was relatively small.

Erling Steinvegg died around New Year 1207. Now the wish for peace also came into play on the Bagler side. As Erling's successor, Bishop Nikolas von Oslo put his nephew Philipp Simonsson through on the Borgarthing, against the wishes of the army with the support of the peasant aristocrats. He had already favored him when Erling Steinvegg was elected, but had been defeated at the time. The parallel alliance between the bishop and aristocrats against the military in the election of Inges II. 1204 and Philip 1207 indicates the turning point. The Act of Succession to the Throne of 1163 was still authoritative, according to which the Thing farmers had to make the decision about the king's election together with the bishop. Bishops and thing farmers worked on both sides with their personnel policy towards a peace settlement. The Bagler saga describes both kings as peasant-friendly and emphasizes that both disciplined their troops with regard to peasants. The role of the bishops changed. While they used to take sides for one side or the other, they now rose above the parties and acted as a mediator. Bishop Nikolas of Oslo proposed a tripartite division of the country between Inge II, Håkon Galen and Philip. The Birkebeiner only wanted Inge as a unified king. New battles flared up, but the professional armies no longer had the support of the population. In the summer, the baglers' ships were lost. The baglers tried to attack King Inge in Oslo, but they failed. Bishop Nikolas stuck to his course for the longest time, but was persuaded by the archbishop to act as a mediator.

Peace was made on Kvitsøy in 1208 . The country was divided into three parts. Philipp received Oppland and a large part of the Oslofjord, Inge and Håkon shared power on the border north of Dovre west of the Langfjell. To seal the settlement, Philipp married Sverres Kristin, his daughter, to be married. The Birkebeiner fought against the comparison with all their might and forced Philip, contrary to the comparison, to give up his royal title and to recognize Inges as upper king. However, this did not change anything in the entry into force of the settlement and the fact that Philip continued to call himself king.

The comparison of Kvitsøy from 1208 ended the open fight between Birkebeinern and Baglers and ushered in a ten-year rest period. Little is known about Philip's reign. But he exercised a regular government and continued to seal it with his royal seal, although the Birkebeiner repeatedly demanded its surrender. He and Bishop Nikolas had good relations with the English King John Ohneland . The oldest original letters from a Norwegian king have also survived from him. During this time, the Birkebeiner - Bagler antagonism was gradually overlaid by the antagonism between the peasants and the military aristocracy that emerged in the elections for kings in 1204 and 1207, which can be traced back to the high taxes. According to the Kvitsøy comparison, Trøndelag was also fermenting because of the high taxes.

Jarl Håkon from the southern Birkebeinerreich was striving for the title of king. He already had the income. There was a game of intrigue from around the Jarls, so that the Norwegian bishops had to mediate again. The result was a reciprocal succession treaty of 1212: whoever survived the other should own the entire empire. After the death of both, their legitimate sons should inherit the kingdom. The background was that Håkon had a legitimate son, while Inge only had a son Guttorm, who was born out of wedlock.

In 1213 there was a severe drought in Trøndelag. The grain was running out. The peasants refused to pay taxes to the king. They appeared fully armed on a thing that the king had called up in Trøndelag. They killed the local Sysselmann when he asked them to negotiate with the king. King Inge initially did not want to use force against his own farmers and withdrew. But when they killed several of his men, he advanced on them and hit them back.

When Håkon Jarl died in 1214, Inge took over his kingdom in accordance with the succession treaty of 1212. His sudden increase in military power forced the Trønder farmers to make a comparison. Until his death on April 23, 1217 he was king over the entire Birkebeiner area. He was succeeded on July 8, 1217 by Håkon Håkonsson on Gulathing. The Baglers agreed to this on the condition that their territory would be shared between him and the Baglers, indicating their weak position within their own territory against the supporters of the Birkebeiner.

In the summer of 1217, Philipp Simonsson also died in the East. Ragnvald Hallkjelsson, a nephew of King Magnus Erlingsson, initially took power. But since he demanded high taxes for the maintenance of his troops, he was killed on a thing. The power vacuum in the east took advantage of his priest Bene Skinnkniv, who claimed to be a son of Magnus Erlingsson. In the winter of 1217/1218 he gathered a crowd around him, called the slittungene (= the ragged ones ). It was a typical band of robbers in the eastern Norwegian border areas, who stayed in impassable areas and made rapid raids into the Oslofjord. The fact that she still received support from local farmers indicates a dissatisfaction with the local royal Sysselmann.

After the kings Inge II. And Philip died, the only thing left was the contrast between the military aristocracy and the big farmers. For the large farmers it was therefore important to rally around a king who strengthened their position and vigorously fought the revolting tendencies in the eastern Norwegian areas. This new king should be Håkon Håkonsson .

With Håkon Håkonsson, the actual civil war was over.

King Håkon Håkonsson

The main source about Håkon Håkonsson is the Håkon Håkonssons saga . This saga was written down shortly after his death in 1263 by the Icelander Sturla Tordsson, the nephew of Snorri Sturluson. King Magnus Håkonsson asked him to write a story about his father. He had Magnus as an advisor and could rely on information from the closest circle around King Håkon. He also had ample written material. The saga discusses and recites a wide variety of letters, judgments and laws. This rich material makes the saga the most detailed and serious royal saga ever. In addition, more documents have survived from the time of King Håkon than from his predecessors. This is partly due to the advance of correspondence in Norway, and partly to many documents from correspondence with foreign rulers in their archives. On the other hand, as the official royal biography, it is of course a partisan script. In the legitimation of power and in praise of the ruler, the saga is an expression of the rulers ideology of the Sverre family.

The legitimation of the ruler was necessary because after the death of King Inge II, his illegitimate son Guttorm would have been called to succeed him. But the majority of the Birkebeiner stuck to Håkon, who was kept as the illegitimate son of Håkon Sverreson with Inga von Varteig, an old woman from Østfold . He was under the care of Birkebein friends, some of whom had already served under his father and grandfather. Skule Bårdsson , King Inge's half-brother and right-hand man , also strived for royal power . On the deathbed, Inge had transferred command of all the troops to Skule. He was supported by Archbishop Guttorm (1215-1224) and the Cross Brothers in Trondheim. But the archbishop was on a visitation trip to Hålogaland when King Inge died. This was the opportunity for Håkon's supporters to take the initiative. They took the 13-year-old from the cathedral school in Trondheim and promoted the supporters of the late king for their approval of the king's election. Against the resistance of Skules and the Brothers of the Cross, the supporters managed to convene the Øyrathing and obtained Håkon's homage to the king. In the summer the homage followed on the Gulathing and after the death of King Philip also on the Haugathing, the Borgarthing and other local thing meetings. That was at the time of peaceful coexistence between Birkebeiners and Baglers, and the Birkebeiner prevented the Baglers from choosing their own king. The saga attaches great importance to the fact that he descended directly from a king without having to claim the latent royal dignity of a woman, as was the case with Inge II and his son Guttorm, since Inge acquired his royal ability through his sister Sverres Cecilie had to derive. This age-old principle of direct descent from a king was evidently so deeply rooted that Håkon was preferred everywhere. Nevertheless, the church was dissatisfied and emphasized that a fully valid kingship could not be achieved without church agreement. She still relied on Skule, who was responsible for government until Håkon came of age. There was a dispute that ended with a treaty, according to which Skule should rule over a third of the empire.

After the death of the Bagler king Philip in 1218, the Bagler chiefs came to the Birkebeinern and asked for support against the Slittungene. König and Skule came immediately and drove the band of robbers away from Oslo. Thereupon the baglers gave up their name and became followers of the king and the jarl. This ended the party between Bagler and Birkebeiner.

After King Håkon had proven his royal ancestry from his father's side in 1218, his relationship with the church improved significantly. After he came of age in 1219 at the age of 15, he took control of the two thirds of the empire to which he was entitled. He convened a diet in Bergen for 1223, which should finally recognize his kingship. The Reichstag was better attended than in 1218. The Håkons saga emphasizes the representative composition for the entire empire. At the Reichstag the kingship was confirmed and bindingly proclaimed by the archbishop. This also had constitutional significance: in 1217 he was honored at the local thing meetings according to the old right of succession to the throne. In 1218 and 1223, at the instigation of the clergy, the ecclesiastical determining influence for the accession to the throne was asserted and enforced. This was expressed through the binding announcement of the decision by the archbishop.

After the Slittungene had been driven out, there was another uprising in Østlandet in the winter of 1219/1220. They were called Ribbungene (= robbers). They were led by a Sigurd Ribbung who claimed to be the son of Erling Steinvegg, around whom the Baglers had rallied in Denmark at the end of the 1st Bagler War in 1204. The Ribbungene took up the remains of the Slittungene. They built on the old resistance of the eastern Norwegian border areas and the dissatisfaction there with the central government. They were also supported from the western Swedish border area. But the new alliance between Birkebeinern and Baglers was too strong for the Ribbungene to really gain a foothold in the Oslofjord in Oppland.

The fight against the Ribbungene took place in two phases with a brief peaceful interval. In the first phase, Jarl Skule led the fight in his domain and so pressured the Ribbungene that they offered peace negotiations in 1223 with the mediation of Bishop Nikolas. In 1224 Sigurd collected his Ribbungene again in Värmland. In the meantime, King Håkon himself had taken power in Ostland and took energetic action against the Ribbungene. In January 1225 he undertook a punitive expedition from the Oslofjord via the Opplandene to Värmland to prevent support for the Ribbungene from the Swedish border region. The campaign was not a great success. The king only burned down some of the villages in Värmland that had been abandoned by the residents. But it was a resounding show of strength, so that in 1226 the Varmelands hanged the Ribung chief Sigurd for fear of a new punitive expedition. His successor Knut Håkonsson compared himself to the king the following year. This ended the civil war disputes. There was yet another uprising by Skule Jarl in 1239/1240, who in 1239 gained the title of king on the Øyrathing, but it became clear that a nationwide war as before was no longer possible. He and his men were beaten and killed by the king's troops on May 23, 1240 near the Elgeseter monastery. The whole of Norway came under the rule of King Håkon.

With the end of the Ribbungene War and the dispute with Jarl Skule, the royal power had established itself on an imperial basis. The civil wars came to an end as the last offshoot of the Norwegian Wars of Unification. In 1240 the empire was on the cusp of the first real state establishment in Norwegian history. This also ended the sea battles on the coast of Norway and within the fjords. After that there were only war trips outside the country.

Trade in the Baltic Sea had stabilized. In the beginning, Lübeck played an important role. But in the 1240s this connection was broken off because the Lübeckers had plundered Norwegian ships in Danish fairways and the Norwegian king had confiscated Wendish cogs in Bergen in return. Then there was an exchange of notes between Norway and Lübeck, at the end of which was the peace treaty of 1250. Håkon's policy was very closely related to the conditions in the northern German sea trade towns and sought to exploit the weakening of Denmark after Waldemar II's death in 1241.

But now it was first about Håkon's church coronation, although he was born out of wedlock. The bishops and the king turned to Pope Gregory IX independently in 1241 . to agree to the coronation, with the king also taking a crusade vow. But the dispensation from the requirement of conjugal birth no longer came about under him. In 1241 the Mongols stood in Russia, Poland and Hungary and threatened western Christianity. Then the king's crusade vow was converted into a vow of war against the pagan neighbors in the north.

Under pressure from the Mongols, Karelians had invaded southern Troms, where Håkon granted them asylum and converted them to Christianity. This must have helped him in his negotiations with the Pope. His relationship with the Grand Duke of Novgorod, to whom the Karelians were subordinate, had been strained for a long time, because there were arguments about who had tax sovereignty over the Sami, and there were also reciprocal raids on the Karelian and Norwegian sides. But pressure from the Mongols led to new negotiations, which resulted in a peace with a strengthening of Norway in Troms and Finnmark.

When Innocent IV became Pope, he sought an ally in his conflict with Emperor Frederick II. Håkon seized this opportunity and sent a letter to the Pope in Lyon with the request for approval of the coronation and a renewed vow of the crusade. In 1244 Abbot Rita-Bjørn, whom the bishops had sent to the Pope, returned with the archbishop's ban and the Pope's approval for the coronation, but the king refused the conditions that the archbishop made on his participation in the coronation. He wanted to clarify the rights of the church on this occasion after the vague comparison of 1202 in favor of the church and that the king swore the same coronation oath as Magnus Erlingsson. The king flatly refused. The Pope's reaction to the king's own advance was to send Cardinal Wilhelm von Sabina to Norway in 1246. His attitude was probably influenced by the king's promise to take part in the next crusade, which he did not intend to keep. The cardinal was to perform the coronation. He gave the king the dispensation from conjugal birth. The coronation in Bergen was the occasion for an imperial synod and a diet. The king now refused any negotiations with the episcopate, so that he was crowned by the cardinal without any conditions. According to tradition in the Håkons saga, it is quite likely that the cardinal took the side of the king, since immediately after the coronation he issued an ordinance prohibiting the bishops from misappropriating church property and church income to which they were not entitled had. But the Norwegian Church also had advantages, contrary to what is shown in the saga. Because the cardinal announced a far-reaching declaration on the rights of the church at the imperial synod: he stated that the Norwegian church had free jurisdiction over all clergy and complaints against clergy and in all "spiritual matters" regardless of person. He announced this in a public sermon before the king and all participants in the Reichstag. He also established the right of patronage over almost all churches in the country and that the bishops were to be elected by the clergy in accordance with canon law. This declaration was apparently made without objection from the King. However, jurisdiction over laypeople in spiritual matters later led to frequent disputes in the delimitation.

The coronation in 1247 also led to the recognition of hereditary kingship in Håkon's family by the church, which also attached importance to marital birth. His famous crusade vow led to a letter from Louis IX. from France, where he offered him command of the fleet for the next crusade . King Håkon politely declined. Even Alfonso X of Castile showed interest in the fleet Håkons in connection with his fight against the Muslims in Spain. He tried to emphasize his wish by marrying his brother Philipp to Håkon's daughter Kristine. But even he was unsuccessful.

In terms of foreign policy, he tried to take advantage of the Danish succession dispute after the death of Waldemar II. He allied himself with his third son and successor on the throne Christoffer I and his son and successor Erik Klipping . In order to pursue his trade interests in the Baltic Sea, he tried to push back the Danish influence in southern Sweden and in 1249 allied himself with the Swedish ruler Birger Jarl . The support was not very great, however, as Birger Jarl was married to the widow of the Danish King Abel in his second marriage . Håkon laid claim to Halland in 1253 and also pursued it militarily in 1256. But after a comparison between Birger Jarl and King Christoffer in 1257, he preferred to make peace with the Danish king as well. Around this time he probably changed strategy and worked on a marriage between his son Magnus and Ingeborg, the daughter of Erik Plogpenning. It came about in 1261, 1 year after Birger Jarl's son, King Waldemar of Sweden married Ingeborg's sister Sophie. These two and two unmarried sisters were heirs to important lands in Denmark, which opened up opportunities for political interference in Denmark. The expansion of Norwegian influence east and west was an integral part of his foreign policy.

In the 1860s, the king undertook to enact a new law of succession to the throne because he had two sons. That was difficult because the aristocracy did not want to part with the common royalty of all sons. The Church favored the succession of the eldest son. The problem was solved when Håkon the boy died in 1257. In the same year Magnus was appointed successor in the kingdom. The legislative path to one kingship was free. The new law was passed in 1260. Thus the old royal homage with a certain co-determination of the Thing participants about the royal dignity became a pure ceremony. The main political theory at court was that God should determine the king even without human involvement (not even the church). His choice manifested itself in the right of succession to the throne.

The legislation itself also changed fundamentally: If earlier the law thing was the legislative body and the king was only an advisory member, now the king passed the law and had it written down. The law thing only had to agree. With his law, with which he expanded and changed the previous law, the great legal reform began, which was to reach its climax under Magnus Lagabøte. At that time there were only two laws that were uniformly in force for an entire empire: On the one hand, the Roman law inspired imperial law for the Kingdom of Sicily by Emperor Frederick II from the year 1231, and on the other hand the code of law for Castile of Alfonso X. In this context it is noteworthy that the daughter Håkon Håkonssons Kristin married the brother of King Alfonso X of Castile in 1258, who was the first to create a code of law that was valid for his entire empire, although it did not become generally accepted until 1501.

In 1262 the Icelanders signed a treaty ( gamli sáttmáli = the old treaty) with King Håkon about his royal rule and taxes. This made Håkon the King of Iceland, a formally still free country with certain rights and obligations.

When the Scots attacked the Orkneys in 1262, after general mobilization he sailed with a large fleet from Bergen across the Shetlands to Scotland in August 1263. After a tied battle at Largs with the Scots, he retired to the Orkneys for the winter, fell ill and died on December 15, 1263. The company showed that rule over Scotland could no longer be maintained.

Magnus Håkonsson

Magnus Håkonsson Lagabøte (the lawmaker) immediately took office after the news of his father's death. He broke with the expansion policy of his father and led negotiations with Alexander III. from Scotland a. The result of the Peace of Perth of 1266 was that the Isle of Man and the Hebrides were ceded to Scotland for a one-off payment of 4000 and an annual payment of 100 marks sterling. Allegedly the 100 marks were half of the Norwegian income from the two colonies. In return, Scotland recognized Norway's sovereignty over the Shetlands and Orkneys. This was preceded by a trade treaty with England in 1223. This trade suffered badly from the war with Scotland, which is why the English merchants pressed for peace. In 1264 King Heinrich III. England made an extension of the trade treaty of 1223 dependent on a peace being reached. In 1269 the trade treaty was expanded to include mutual free trade. Relations with England were excellent, while those with Scotland were troubled because the Scottish government suspended the agreed payments in 1270. Nevertheless, towards the end of his life, he tried to improve relationships here too. So it came to a marriage between his son and heir to the throne Erik and the daughter of Alexander III. Margaret (February 28, 1260 - April 9, 1283).

His relationship with the Swedish King Waldemar Birgerson was good, and they met every now and then on the common border. In the 1970s, however, there were throne disputes in Sweden, in which King Magnus tried to mediate in favor of Waldemar without success. His brother Magnus Ladulås became King of Sweden with the support of the Danish King Erik Klipping.

During his reign there was a major fire in Stavanger in 1272.

His most decisive achievement was the major legislative revision. Instead of the many individual rights in the individual landscapes, he had a uniform right created for his entire empire after his father. Essentially, there were two laws, landskapslov and bylov , one law each for rural areas and one for the city. Icelandic scholars participated in this law. Since the law in its original version was not adopted by the Icelandic Allthing, it had to be revised until it could come into force as Jónsbók in 1280 . In a new hirdskrá , the duties and privileges of the aristocracy were redefined. The decisive difference to the later legislation of the so-called “early modern state” is that here the king derived and had to derive his legitimation for legislation with the restoration of the old ideal legal status. The establishment of new positive law, as later required by the policey legislation covering all areas of life, was not possible at that time. But the fact that “finding” and “restoring” an old legal status was actually just a facade shows the future development of the legal system. However, when he intervened in the legal relations of the church, he met resistance from Archbishop Jon Raude. This led to protracted disputes between state and church, which were then settled with a settlement in Tønsberg in 1277.

In 1273 he gave his eldest son and successor Erik the title of king and the second-born Håkon the title of duke. There was also a border with Sweden at Bohuslän.

The north German merchants complained that they were equal to the residents in city law. In addition, in practice, they would not have the same legal certainty as the residents due to the new laws. He then granted German-speaking merchants extensive immunity from 1278. This was the first step towards special rights for the Hanseatic League. An important special right was the salvage right for Hanseatic ships stranded in Norway, the exemption from the obligation to watch the night in the port and the obligation to provide assistance with the mooring of ships.

His wife Ingeborg was the daughter of King Erik Plogpenning of Denmark. After his murder, there were further power struggles in Denmark, which also involved his wife's inheritance rights, but he knew how to keep Norway out of these conflicts. Nevertheless, the Norwegian king isolated the fact that he had supported the defeated Waldemar in the Swedish controversy for the throne, despite his claims to the inheritance of his wife, with which he could address the opposition circles in Denmark.

As a further innovation, an apparatus for diplomacy has now been set up. This promoted the position of eloquent and educated people who, through their diplomatic missions, also increasingly gained insight into foreign countries and customs. Many such envoys, bishops and canons, are known. The members of mendicant orders were particularly numerous. But the majority were secular persons who, with the appropriate skill, could rise in the hierarchy. The most important of the specialists was Lodin Lepp , who had accompanied King Kristine's sister to Castile in 1258 when she was to marry Philip, the brother of Alfonso X of Castile. Lodin Lepp also traveled in 1262 on behalf of the king with hunting falcons and other gifts to Caliph Muhammad I al-Mustansir of Tunis. He was also sent to Egypt. In 1280 he went to Iceland to accept the Jónsbók on the Allthing and to accept the oath of homage to the heir to the throne, Erik Magnusson. His property was on Bryggen in Bergen.

As with his predecessors, the military power of the king was based on general conscription and the general duty to maintain and equip ships (" suffering plict "). The weak point of this organization was that the teams were poorly trained. The discipline also left a lot to be desired when a military campaign was called or the operation took place too far from home. That had already been shown on his father's expedition to Scotland. Therefore he created a kind of professional army with around 1,200 men by telling his followers to provide a certain number of well-equipped men for three months, depending on their wealth and position. There weren't many, but they could be mobilized very quickly and in an emergency they could be topped up quickly. A new class of society emerged, the professional soldier. In addition, he restructured the army duty: First it was extended from 2 to 3 months. Then the equipment was graded according to the assets: Anyone who owned 6 marks in addition to their clothing had to have a more solid shield. Anyone who owned over 12 marks had to have an even better shield and a steel helmet. With a fortune over 18 marks a “tank” was required, a thick doublet made of leather or stuffed linen or a ring fountain. There were further requirements for higher ranks in the wake. This special troop may not have had any particular significance during his lifetime, but it did gain in importance among his successors.

He died in 1280. His successor was Erik II.

Erik II Magnusson

When Magnus lagabøte died in May 1280, his son Erik was only 12 years old. He was under the tutelage of a circle of the high aristocracy under the direction of Lodin Lepp. This circle was first called the “Royal Council”. But also the largest landowner in the country Bjarne Erlingsson and Audun Hugleiksson , one of the most knowledgeable employees in the legislative process of Magnus lagabøte, were right at the front of the council. The queen widow Ingeborg is also assigned a central role in the government. Erik's younger brother Håkon took over the duchy that had been granted to him in 1284, consisting of Oppland , the Oslo area , Ryfylke , possibly also Agder, the Faroe Islands and the Shetlands . There he exercised unrestricted government power.

The Imperial Council completely broke with the late king's political line. He went back on a course of confrontation with the Church and returned to an aggressive foreign policy. He resumed anti-Danish politics and also tried to push back the influence of the Hanseatic League. In return, the good relations with England and Scotland were expanded. When the northern German trading cities threatened to blockade in 1284, the council succeeded in agreeing with King Edward I of England an extension of the peace and trade treaty of 1269. Despite all efforts, the Hanseatic cities failed to get Edward to break the agreement. The connection with Scotland was strengthened in 1281 by the marriage with the seven years older daughter Margaret. She brought a dowry of 14,000 silver marks into the marriage. In addition, Scottish payments for the Isle of Man and the Hebrides have resumed.

In the marriage contract, drawn up in Roxburgh in 1281, it was also stipulated that Margaret and her children, whom she would have with King Erik, should inherit the Scottish royal crown if her father Alexander III. should die without male heirs. When Alexander had a fatal accident in 1286, all of his children, including Margarete, had died earlier. But he had a granddaughter whom his daughter Margarete had had with King Erik and who was also called Margarete. This 3-year-old Margarete ( The Maid of Norway ) was now the next heir to the throne. In this situation, the English King Edward I took over the tripartite negotiations between England, Scotland and Norway with the aim of achieving a marriage between Margaret and the English heir to the throne, so that Scotland could be brought into a personal union with England. Margarete was brought west from Norway in 1290, but died in the Orkneys in the same year.

Bergens city administration had enacted regulations that were supposed to prevent the sale of real estate to wintering foreign merchants. In 1282, the Imperial Council backed these efforts from Bergen with unforeseen consequences: the North German territorial princes and the North and Baltic Sea cities with Lübeck at their head made a front against Norway. The Danish King Erik Klipping followed suit. In 1285 the Wendish cities blocked the Øresund . The Reichsrat was forced to negotiate. The dispute was settled in Kalmar in the autumn of 1285 by the award of King Waldemar Birgersson of Sweden. In the Kalmar award, Norway was charged a payment of 6,000 silver marks. The German cities were given the right to free trade in the Norwegian cities and marketplaces, on an equal footing with the locals. This corresponded to the principle of equality of the previously applicable city law. After these events, Erik pursued a policy that was favorable to the Hanseatic League, which was documented in 1294 by a comprehensive letter of privilege from the king together with his brother Håkon for a number of Baltic and North Sea cities. The foreign merchants received confirmation of free trade in the cities and markets on the coast, but were not allowed to transport goods inland. As before, it was also prohibited to drive north of Bergen. But the German merchants were exempt from public duties in the ports to a greater extent than before.

This Kalmar arbitration led to a separate peace between Norway and the northern German cities, in which Denmark was not included and which was in contradiction to their mutual assistance pact. This used the Norwegian government to take up the anti-Danish policy of Håkon Håkonsson and to assert the inheritance claim of Erik Plogpenning's daughter. The privateer Alv Erlingsson was suitable for this. He was appointed jarl in 1286 and was supposed to lead the armaments against Denmark. He also received money from King Edward of England and permission to enlist war people in English ports.

After King Erik Klipping's murder in November 1286, a number of Danish aristocrats who had previously opposed the king were accused of being behind the attack. They were sent into exile and found a safe refuge in Norway.


At their head were Count Jakob von Nord- Halland and the officer Stig Andersen Hvide. Winning Halland has long been a primary goal for Norway. In 1289 Erik started the war against Denmark with a large number of ships in Danish waters and with the asylum seekers in the wake. In 1290 the second campaign began and Stig Andersen managed to establish himself in the Kattegat. He had a fortification built on the island of Hjelm (south coast of Randers). At the same time, Count Jakob built a fortification in Hunehals in North Halland. Both castles were regarded as the Norwegian crown possession and were strategically located for further military campaigns. Count Jacob built the Varberg fortress in southern Halland and received the Norwegian castle Ragnhildarholm near Konghelle with the other exiles. These castles were practically impregnable with the war technology of the time and enabled traffic control via shipping from the Baltic Sea through the Kattegat.

The Norwegian Imperial Council now focused on supporting the Danish opposition to Erik Menved , Erik Klipping's son and successor. After the next military campaigns in 1293 and 1295, King Erik of Denmark offered settlement negotiations, which ended in the autumn of 1295 with an armistice in Hindsgavl on Funen. King Erik of Norway and his brother were given free power to dispose of the goods inherited from their mother in Denmark, and the exiles got their property back. The armistice was later renewed and lasted until the reign of Håkon V.

In 1292 the question of the Scottish succession to the throne was negotiated. There were also Norwegian ambassadors who asserted King Erik's claim to the Scottish throne after his daughter along with the outstanding dowry. However, it was only a matter of negotiation for extensive financial claims. At the same time, a marriage between King Erik and Isabella, granddaughter of Robert Bruce, one of the current candidates for the throne, was negotiated. The marriage was concluded in 1296, but the throne was given to John Balliol , and King Erik had to be content with the dowry of his late wife. King Edward gave only moderate support to Norway, both in terms of succession to the throne and the claims arising from the sale of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland. This led to a change in Norwegian foreign policy.

In 1295 the Norwegian ambassador, Audun Hugleiksson, was King Philip the Fair at the French court , who was at war with England and supported King Balliol of Scotland in his independence policy. The envoy promised to provide Philip with up to 300 ships and 50,000 men for 3 months in return for a payment of 30,000 pounds sterling (= 45,000 marks). Such a Norwegian contingent was completely illusory. But he received an advance of 6,000 marks. The Norwegian military aid did not come into play, however, as Edward won rule over Scotland in 1296 and King Philip made peace with England in 1297. On this occasion, Audun initiated a marriage between the brother of King Håkon and Isabella von Joigny, a relative of the French queen (they both had Hugo IV of Burgundy as their grandfather). But nothing came of it. In 1296 he tried the same with another French count's daughter. This marriage did not take place either. Audun seems to have been very knowledgeable about state organization and legislation, but politically a bit of a gambler, which Duke Håkon disliked. His completely exaggerated offer of help to Philip the Beautiful suggests that. No sooner had King Erik died and Håkon succeeded him when he fell from grace and was sentenced to death by hanging. The reasons are never known. Maybe they had something to do with Håkon's private life and were embarrassed about it. In any case, the nature of the death penalty suggests a crime against the king.

The Norwegian-Scottish-English policy was a failure. Only with Denmark was there any success. The constant armaments efforts overstretched the Norwegian budget and income, so that in 1285 there was an acute lack of money.

King Erik died on July 13, 1299 and his brother Håkon succeeded him on August 10.

Håkon Magnusson

Håkon Magnusson was crowned king with his wife Eufemia on November 1st, 1299. The first spectacular measure taken by the new king was the imprisonment of Audun Hugleiksson. This was part of some kind of purge at the royal court. What Audun was accused of has not been recorded. He was sentenced to death in 1302 and executed. Apparently, during his time as duke, Håkon had observed how the imperial council, as his brother's guardian and later advisory body, exceeded its powers at the king's expense. He was a restless organizer and put his own personal stamp on his court. He paid particular attention to the power of the Imperial Council. Its most important laws are: 1. The Act of Succession to the Throne of 1302. At the same time, it regulated the powers of a guardian government and was intended to prevent " the unheard-of damage that the empire suffered during our childhood " in future. 2. His new administrative and court regulations of 1308. He traced them back to the “ enterprising spirit of various men which they developed against our subjects during our childhood ”.

Changes in the political system among the sons of Magnus lagabæitir

After Magnus lagabøte's death, major institutional changes began in the imperial government. Initially, the Imperial Council came to the fore, albeit as the guardian of King Eirik. But he remained by his side as an advisory institution later on. “The King's Council” appears in the sources for the first time as an independent government organ. Here the influence from the rest of Europe of the 13th century is noticeable. There, too, a clear institutionalization of the “Council” emerged. In England and Sicily this happened in the first half of the century, in Germany, France and Spain in the second half. This development also began in Norway in 1280. It is due to influences from the rest of Europe and ran parallel to the creation of the cathedral chapter and the city council constitution.

The Norwegian Imperial Council was to a large extent an institution of the king. He appeared in its name and emphasized its sovereignty. Typical of this development is the episode in which Lodin Lepp traveled to Iceland as envoy of the Imperial Council and there submitted the new code of law of King Jónsbók for acceptance: At the Allthing 1281 he flatly rejected the various requests for changes made by the Icelanders with reference to the sole legislative power of the king. The Icelandic Biskop-Arne saga says that he was furious that the Icelandic peasants believed themselves to be so powerful that they believed they could pass laws when the king alone could do so. At best, he could imagine that they would first adopt the law and later ask the king and his council to make some changes deemed necessary. Here you can see a legislative ideology that saw the Allthing only as an authority for consent. After the coronation oath of 1260 and 1273, the king was to supplement the laws with advice of good men . In the days of Håkon Håkonsson and Magnus lagabøte, the council of good men was still the diet. But in 1280 there was a major amendment to the law by the Reichsrat, in which this role was transferred to the Reichsrat. The king was not the sole ruler, rather power was exercised in the form of “consensual rule”, as on the continent. This new law was presented to the various thing assemblies. There is no indication that they should have formally accepted it. It seems to have been a unilateral announcement. The style of legislation changed fundamentally. The time of the great works of law was over and was replaced by an abundance of royal ordinances ( skipane ). Initially, there were some literal amendments to Landslov and Bylov's law . Others also changed the administration. All of these new regulations were promulgated at the law thing meetings. Therefore, the Imperial Council and the King also stood behind the municipal ordinances of Bergen from 1282, which caused the war with the North and East German Hanseatic cities . The law thing assembly lost its function, and the last of the old form took place in 1302 to pass a law of succession to the throne.

In 1308 King Håkon Magnusson issued a comprehensive amendment to constitutional and administrative law. The main aim of this was to prevent the expansion of aristocratic power and its self-service abuse in the future, which was apparently torn down, especially during the guardianship of the minor King Erik. The aristocratic politics of the nobility should be stopped, the central government and its control should be strengthened. In the future no new Lendmenn and Jarle could be appointed as the King's Sons and Orkney-Jarle. In this way, the king wanted to control the composition of his court apparatus with newly appointed court officials himself. All administrative districts ( Syssel ) were transferred to new persons, to whom he had better access. Their administration should be supervised by two men from the inner circle of the Reichsrat. Every year you should inspect the third of the empire that the king did not come to himself. In addition, he revoked all major and solemn royal letters in order to be able to check the rights and privileges thus issued for their current validity.

The practical effect of this major administrative amendment of 1308 is very controversial. Because there was a lot missing to achieve its legislative goals. But it was a first step towards preventing abuse of power. At least it can be seen that he was able to get his way through the composition of his Imperial Council. He took over some members from his brother, e. B. Bjarne Erlingsson , but his closest staff consisted essentially of his advisors from his own ducal days. He chose his employees more based on their training, their ability and their reliability than on their social position and wealth. With such a personnel policy, the government became more professional. Such people were his spiritual chancellors, Åke and Ivar Olafsson. With them he started a new organization of the Church. He founded many new royal churches from which he received the income, particularly from Mary's Church in Oslo. He created many spiritual positions and offices. He received papal permission to build his chapels to a certain extent detached from the episcopal churches under the direction of a Kapellan ( Kapellmagister ). 14 royal chapels were built in the country, four of them with a college of priests: the Apostle Church in Bergen, the Maria Church in Oslo, the Olav Church on Avaldsnes and the Michael Church on Tønsberghus. In the clergy in these chapels the king found more reliable collaborators than the other clergymen.

These reform measures are similar to corresponding measures by Edward I of England and especially Philip IV of France, so that the influence from there is not unlikely.

The result of these organizational innovations was a horizontal stratification of the administration into a central royal administration and a regionalized lower administrative level. The extensive use of writing and the organization of his followers enabled closer integration and control of the administrative levels so that the king did not always have to travel to all parts of the country. The four largest cities, Oslo, Tønsberg, Bergen and Trondheim, had their own treasurers who were responsible for collecting taxes. The highest offices at court were the court marshal ( stallare ), the standard bearer ( merkesmann ), the treasurer ( feud ) and the stewardess ( drottsete ). The Chancellor was placed before them. There was also the Reichstag as a government organ and the provincial parliaments on the lower level. The Reichstag corresponded to the Danehof in Denmark and the gentlemen's days in Sweden. Parliaments and assemblies of estates developed on the mainland.

Another result was that Norway became a state in the current sense, although this term did not yet exist. Instead, the expression Norges konges Rige appears in this sense, i.e. the kingdom of the Norwegian king . Norwegians now lived there as a state people who had an independent and sovereign monopoly of power in the royal government.

But the economic basis of this state was weak. The church institutions held around 40% of the property, the king around 7%. The state tax could not compete with the church tithe by a long way. The state revenues from fines, taxes, customs duties and duties from the crown possessions were relatively modest. This is also due to the low population density. A committed foreign policy associated with costs could not be achieved. This was shown by the consequences of the Kalmar arbitration award of 1285, which practically led to national bankruptcy. The fact that the state functioned at all with this shortage of funds is essentially due to the voluntary work of the population and neighborhood help. The government left the fulfillment of public tasks to a large extent to the commitment of the local population, which would later also shape public administration.

Changes in the relationship between state and church

In 1280 there was another conflict with the church. Archbishop Jon Raude had convened a provincial council. He strove to extend ecclesiastical legislation beyond the spiritual area to include secular areas. When King Magnus died, the conflict quickly came to a head. The Reichsrat immediately initiated a supplement to the Landskapslov, which intervened in the ecclesiastical legislative matter. The archbishop tried to make his participation in the coronation of the young king dependent on the fact that the anti-church regulations were not implemented. This is how the king's oath was formulated accordingly. When the coronation with the bishop took place, the amendment was nevertheless put into effect. Thereupon the bishop threatened with the excommunication. Both parties turned to the Pope. But they remained ready to talk, and the bishop crowned the queen after the wedding with Erik. But his relationship with the Reichsrat became more and more tense. When the bishop left after the wedding, the Imperial Council revoked the bishop's right to mint coins. This increased the dispute into irreconcilable forms. In 1282 the archbishop had to leave the empire together with the bishops of Oslo and Hamar. He died at the end of the year in Skara , Sweden. The consistent and determined struggle of the Imperial Council against the church in the name of the king related to three areas: On the one hand, it wanted to curtail the economic resources of the clergy. Therefore, he banned church taxes that were introduced after 1277. The church jurisdiction was also curtailed after the settlement of 1277. Third, the council restricted the archbishop's legislative power. In the amendment to the law of 1280, all editions of Christian law that appeared after 1277 were repealed. The archbishop's death ended the church resistance and led to a comparison of 1283. The church was reset to the legal status of 1277.

Political changes

King Magnus partially distanced himself from his brother's politics. When he came to power, the Hanseatic League had most of Norway's expanding foreign trade, particularly in wholesale and retail trade in Bergen , Tønsberg and Oslo . accepted. In disregard of the privileges of 1294, they tried to extend this position to the inner-Norwegian districts. Håkon therefore resumed Bergen's policy of restricting trade from 1282 (see above under Erik II. Magnusson). He tried to concentrate trade again on the cities and to contain the foreigners there. So it came to the decree of 1299, which forbade foreigners the retail trade in the districts. This was emphasized again in the decree of 1302. Foreigners had to sell their goods to local middlemen in the cities and were not allowed to trade north of Bergen. In Bergen, foreigners were also forbidden to buy goods locally in order to sell them again if there was a lack of supplies. The biggest problem in enforcing these regulations was the foreign merchants who wintered in Bryggen in Bergen. At the beginning of Håkon's reign, they were temporarily forbidden from wintering in Bergen at all, and in 1316 they were limited to 1 year. But these regulations could hardly be enforced against the long-established foreign trading houses. So they got permission to sell their goods outside of the shipping season, but only to named local middlemen. Foreign seasonal merchants were only allowed to sell their goods for 6 weeks. However, these provisions were later toned down. But Norwegian foreign trade was also protected by export tariffs on foreign exporters. From 1294, foreign ships calling at Norwegian ports had to pay a skip bung = 160 kg of grain. During the continental famine years of 1315 and 1316, the king banned the export of butter, clipfish and stockfish to foreign exporters who did not bring grain to Norway. The national trade policy broke with the equality of foreign and domestic merchants. In the first years of the 14th century, however , Lübeck and the Wendish cities got their privileges back in order to make them weigh in the Norwegian-Danish conflict Norway.

In principle, however, this policy of isolation remained the basic line of Norwegian trade policy throughout the entire Middle Ages.

In terms of foreign policy, Håkon continued his father and brother's policy of gaining greater influence in Denmark. So he allied himself with the local opposition to King Erik Menved . Halland was, as before, the main area of ​​interest. Like his predecessors, he was looking for support from Sweden. At a meeting with King Birger Magnusson of Sweden, for example, he agreed to take action against Erik of Denmark and engaged his one-year-old daughter Ingebjørg to the twenty-year-old Duke Erik , the brother of the Swedish king. But it turned out differently. Duke Erik and his brother Valdemar openly opposed their father, King Birger. The Danish King Erik Menved used this to re-alliance with the Swedish king. In this situation the Swedish dukes again sought support in Norway. So it happened that Norway suddenly found itself on the side of opposition groups in both Denmark and Sweden. Duke Erik had to flee to Norway, but was then given a prominent role in the political events of the following years. Because the king wanted to make him the main ally of his west coast policy and no longer rely on the Danish opposition like his brother did. Therefore, Håkon enfeoffed Erik in 1304 with the southern part of Bohuslän. King Håkon won North Halland and transferred this area to Erik as well. This led Erik to occupy a key position between Norway and Sweden. In the same year he reached a settlement with the Danish King Erik Menved and took North Halland from him as a fief. With that, King Håkon was outmaneuvered and had to make a comparison with Erik Menved. In the autumn of 1306 the Swedish opposition captured King Birger. Duke Erik broke ties with the Danish king and began to renew the anti-Danish alliance between Norway and Sweden. But Håkon did not trust him and allied himself with the Danish King Erik Menved to help Birger regain the throne.

Båhus fortress in Kungälv

His daughter Ingebjørg has now been engaged to Birger's son Magnus. Duke Erik responded to this change of course with an incursion into Norway, which Oslo fell victim to. But he had to break off the siege of Akershus Castle due to illness and return to Sweden. Håkon then began building the famous Båhus Fortress in Båhuslän, a fortress that was often besieged but never conquered and, in 1789, served as a quarry for the houses of Kungälv . In 1310 he succeeded in a comparison with Erik Menved of Denmark and the partition of Sweden, whereby he received the western Swedish areas on the Norwegian border. There was a renewed rapprochement with Duke Erik, which in 1312 led Duke Erik to marry his daughter Håkons Ingebjørg and his brother Valdemar's niece Håkons, also named Ingebjørg. Both women gave birth to a son in 1316, whereby their husbands strengthened their position in Sweden and Norway. Now King Birger of Sweden captured the ducal opposition at a meeting in 1317 and let them die in captivity in 1318. With the support of Danish troops, he tried to subjugate the parts of the country to his sons. But the Swedish aristocracy stood behind the widow Ingebjørg and her son, overthrew King Birger and forced Erik Menved to conclude peace at the end of 1318. Magnus Eriksson was then elected King of Sweden in the spring of 1319, who was also the first in line to the Norwegian throne. King Magnus died on May 8, 1319. Modern historiography ends the so-called Norrøne Age with him, as the last king of the Sverre family died with him and a time of personal union with Sweden began.

Magnus Eriksson

His 3-year-old grandson Magnus Eriksson was chosen to succeed him. Guardianship was exercised in each country by the local Imperial Council. At the same time he was King of Sweden. Therefore, in 1319 negotiations between the Norwegian and Swedish Imperial Councils on the modalities of the exercise of power. Since Norway was in a weak military position, the negotiating goal of the Norwegian Imperial Council was to prevent Swedish influence on Norway. In the so-called Oslo Treaty it was agreed that the king would stay half a year in Norway and half a year in Sweden, and that the royal entourage would be completely exchanged when traveling from one country to another at the border. In addition, financial regulations for the court were made.

The Reichsrat

During these negotiations, the Norwegian Imperial Council ( rikes råd ) first appeared as an organ acting under constitutional law. He was to rule Norway when the king was underage. This development can also be observed in contemporary sources in Sweden and Denmark. The Reichsrat thus developed into the representative organ of the aristocracy and the high clergy. The council consisted of 12 people.

The king's mother

The role played by King Ingebjørg's mother is controversial. In some documents she appears at the head of changing groups of councilors. From this it was concluded that she immediately took the government into her own hands and pushed the Reichsrat into the background. However, this contradicts the fact that she was only slightly involved in the internal affairs of Norway, but mainly stayed with her lover Knut Porse, the son of one of the nobles who had previously been exiled from Denmark, in North Halland, where she was with a group of young and old ambitious nobleman surrounded. Their goal was the subjugation of Skåne. Therefore, without consulting the Imperial Council, they allied themselves with Duke Heinrich II of Mecklenburg against Denmark, which was politically weakened after the death of King Erik Menved in 1319. To this end, a marriage contract was signed between her daughter Eufemia and Albrecht II, the son of Duke Heinrich from his second marriage to Anna von Sachsen-Wittenberg. When Knut Porse invaded Skåne with German mercenaries, the Norwegian Imperial Council condemned this action, but could not do anything about it for lack of money. Knut Porse used internal Danish disputes and achieved that he was elected Duke over Halland and Samsø in 1326. This rank made it possible for him to marry Ingebjørgs, which finally left Norwegian politics.

Governor of the Empire

Seal of Magnus Erikssons

These events moved the Reichsrat to tighten the government. Archbishop Eilif was commissioned to appoint a governor to whom the other councilors would submit. In 1323 Eiliv appointed Erling Vidkunson, a well-respected knight who was around 30 years old . He carried the royal seal, exercised all royal powers and carried the title of “ The King's Governor in Norway ”. He tried to put the state finances in order. This transition from a collegial body to a concentration of power to a single person who was not king was the first in Norway's history. The office of governor followed the Swedish example, where this office was introduced in 1322. He must have been a staunch politician. Chancellor of the empire in 1327 was the highly learned Pål Bårdsson , doctor of Roman and canon law from the University of Orléans. In 1333 he became archbishop.

Politically, he had to struggle with securing the borders in the north. A dispute between Russia and Sweden over Karelia , which had been going on since 1290 , led to raids by Karelians and Russians in Northern Norway after Magnus had become the Union king . In 1323 they came to Hålogaland . The Sami were even taxed by Norway and Novgorod because of the border conflict . The dispute was settled diplomatically in 1326 through a peace and border treaty. After that, Norway taxed the Sami and Novgorod the Karelians. However, this did not last, and reciprocal raids continued until the middle of the 14th century. The previous policy of restrictions was continued towards the Hanseatic League. In 1330, the German shoemakers were subordinated to the royal authorities and obliged to help defend the city. For this they received the shoemaker's monopoly in the city and the privilege to settle their disputes according to their own laws. In 1331 the governor and the Imperial Council forbade all foreigners who were not married to a local or a refugee from wintering in Bergen, and renewed the old bans on retail.

The mature king


In 1331 King Magnus came of age under Swedish law at the age of 15 and took over the affairs of government in Sweden. That was five years before the age of consent in Landslov , on which the Håkon V. Guardianship Code was based. Erling Vidkunsson resigned as governor, but Pål Bårdsson remained chancellor until he was elected archbishop in 1333. This led to a conflict with the Norwegian aristocracy, which was not prepared for such an early takeover of government. In particular, the king took possession of the eastern Norwegian income from Akershus and Tønsberg Castle and Bohus Fortress. The local nobles resisted. His predecessor's goal was to acquire Halland. To this end, he allied himself with the nobility in Skåne , who were dissatisfied with the ruling Count Johann von Holstein and recognized him as king in 1332. He took over Skåne, Blekinge and Hven from Johann for a considerable sum . The consequence of the dispute was that the king took action against the allegiance aristocracy because they maintained troops bound by oath of allegiance, which according to the Hirðskrá only certain feudal men and barons were allowed. For the future they were forbidden to have armed followers without royal privilege. They seem to have compared; for the king moved to Flanders in 1334 to woo the hand of Blanka of Namur , and in the meantime appointed Ivar Ogmundsson as governor and Håkon Ogmundsson as keeper of the seal, both from the aristocracy. When he celebrated his wedding in 1335, however, another conflict broke out, as he demanded from the Norwegian knights that Tønsberg Castle and all of his wife's income be given as a morning gift. In 1336 he was crowned for both kingdoms in Stockholm without the presence of Norwegian bishops or members of the Imperial Council. The tensions finally led to an uprising in Eastern Norway in 1338. There was an armistice and negotiations in Bohus in 1339. The result has not been passed down, but the result was better cooperation.

The first step towards the division of the empire

On August 15th, a meeting between King Magnus and the Imperial Council took place at Varberg Castle . At this meeting, it was mutually agreed that his son Erik, born in 1339, should become King of Sweden and his son Håkon, born in 1340, should become King of Norway. This was a break with the Norwegian Succession Act of 1260, according to which the eldest son of a king would succeed him. Historians do not agree on the reasons. Most Norwegian historians see this as an aversion of the Norwegian Imperial Council to the personal union with Sweden; Swedish historians look for the reasons in King Magnus' own politics. But two tendencies are now emerging: First, the electoral monarchy is emerging. On the other hand, the representatives of the four largest Norwegian cities signed the document with their city seal, with which they stood out from the Imperial Council and claimed an independent role. Around the same time, the king changed the previous trade policy, because he needed peace with the North and Baltic Seas in order to be able to pursue his ambitions to annex western Sweden. He was also happy to meet the imperial council if it wanted to have its own king after his death. In return for the good mediation services of Lübeck and other Hanseatic cities in his ambitions in southwest Sweden, he renewed the old trading privileges of the Hanseatic League. All merchants of the German Hanseatic League (the word “Hansa” is used for the first time in this diploma) received duty exemption and unrestricted trade permits, as well as their own jurisdiction according to their laws and traditions. It turns out that for Magnus Norway was essentially Eastern Norway. He has never been further west than Tønsberg. His main interest was Sweden. If one concludes from all this that the Hanseatic League was Norway's main trading partner, this does not agree with the introduction of the plague in the period that followed. Because it turns out that the plague was brought in from England throughout (see the article Plague epidemics in Norway ).


  • Halvard Bjørvik: Folketap og sammenbrudd 1350–1520. In: Aschougs Norges Historie Vol. 4. Oslo 1996.
  • AW Brøgger and Haakon Shetelig: Vikingeskipene. Their forgjengere and etterfølgere . (Viking ships. Their predecessors and successors). Oslo 1950.
  • J. Delaville Le Roulx: Les Hospitaliers à Rhodes jusqu'à la mort de Philibert de Naillac (1310-1421) . Paris 1913.
  • Knut Helle: Under Kirke og Kongemakt 1130-1350 . In: Aschehougs Norges Historie Vol. 3. Oslo 1995. ISBN 82-03-22016-9
  • Jón Viðar Sigurðsson: Det norrøne Samfunnet. Vikingen, Kongen, Erkebiskopen and bonding. Oslo 2008.
  • Sartorius-Lappenberg, documented history of the origin of the German Hanseatic League (Hamb. 1830, 2 vols.)

Individual evidence

  1. J. Delaville Le Roulx writes: " After five months of the siege (editor's note: June / July 1153) a strong Egyptian squadron succeeded in dispersing the Christian flotilla and supplies for the besiegers."
  2. Store norske leksikon keyword “øyskjegger”. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  3. a b Brøgger p. 275.
  4. Knut Helle: "Inge 2 Bårdsson". In: Norsk biografisk leksikon.
  5. Knut Peter Lyche Arstad: "Knut Håkonsson" in: Norsk biografisk leksikon
  6. ^ Gerd Althoff: Heinrich IV. (Darmstadt 2008). P. 23.
  7. Curschmann 1900, pp. 85, 208 f.
  8. Sigurðsson 2008 p. 12.
  9. Sartorius-Lappenberg, Documentary History of the Origin of the German Hanseatic League, Vol. 2, Hamburg 1830, p. 373