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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe


Kingdom of Norway
AD 872 - 1450

Much of what is now Norway has been occupied since the end of the last ice age by Sámi and other early groups. Finno-Ugric tribes added to this mixture (in the form of Kvens and Finns), as did Indo-European Germanic groups, ancestors of today's Scandinavians alongside the absorbed indigenous populations.

The early Germanic group were initially contained entirely within the southernmost third of early Sweden and Norway. What is known today as Norway (Norge) began as Norvegr, meaning 'the way north'. Various Petty Kingdoms formed at first, with many rulers who emerged from legendary origins.

There are less ambiguities and contradictions in Norway's reignal list than there are in Sweden's, probably because it starts much later in time (with the exception of Sæming of Hålogaland and Lade). The only uncertainty here is over the first known ruler, who appears to have been a refugee king from the early kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

It was Haraldr Hárfagri of the petty kingdom of Agder who fought a series of unification wars in the 860s and 870s to forge a single Norwegian kingdom by AD 872. Even by this time, the kingdom still only comprised the southern third of the modern country. It was only in the latter days of the Viking age and in the late medieval period that the rest began to be absorbed.

Migrants also arrived in Norway from Finnic lands to the east, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At least a couple of hundred thousand citizens of modern Norway are known to be descended from the 'Forest Finns', migrants from a group which is distinct from the Kvens (in modern Sweden that number is much larger).

Upon the death of Haraldr's father, the kingdom of Raumarike submitted to Sweden, and had to be forcibly encouraged to join Haraldr's kingdom of Norway, probably completing Haraldr's control of that entire region. It was also claimed by King Eric V Anundsson of the Swedes, forcing Haraldr to invade Götaland to defend his own claim.

In fact, many of Haraldr's opponents were forced to flee the country to seek refuge in various Viking outposts including the Faroe Islands, the Hebrides, Iceland, the Orkney Islands, and the Shetland Islands. Eventually he was forced to undertake an expedition to clear out some of them, including from outposts in Scotland itself. Independently-minded Hålogaland in the north of Norway continued to be a thorn in the king's side for quite some time, while Haraldr placed his son Dag in command in Hedmark.

Accepted wisdom translates the word 'viking' as someone who goes on a raid, but this is much more likely to be a later interpretation of the word based on their reputation for attacking the medieval kingdoms of England, France, and so on. The word was originally used to denote a trader, simply that and nothing more.

Indo-European languages contain many cognates of the root word for trader, such as the Latin 'vic', along with 'wic' (primarily Anglo-Saxon) and 'wich' (Germanic), all of which relate to Scandinavian 'vik'. A Viking was more likely to be someone who goes to 'wics' or 'wichs' to trade.

There is also the problem of 'vik' meaning an inlet in Norse, and this has created considerable confusion. Norway is called that precisely because it is the north way, a sea path. Without roads the only reliable travel is by water, so trading centres would be sited in protected inlets.

FeatureThis meant the use of 'vik' being transferred over time from the trade location or village to its location on inlets. In England, this usage did not go so far, but many Anglo-Saxon trading villages still retain their trading names, such as Harwich, Ipswich (see feature link), and Norwich, while Hamptonwic has been modified as 'Southampton'.


(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, from Gautreks Saga, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, from The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Jordanes, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), from The Heimskringla: Or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, Volume 1, from Glymdrapa, Hornklofe, from Saga: Six Pack 6, A Scandinavian Sextet (various authors), from Novgorodskaia Pervaia Letopis' Starshego i Mladshego Izvodov, A N Nasonov (Ed, ANSSR, 1950), from The Chronicle of Novgorod 1016-1471, Michell & Forbes (Eds, Translators, Offices of the Society, London, 1914), and from External Links: Kvenland (a detailed overview of the existence of Kvenland before it was absorbed into Norway, Sweden, and Finland, although with some content which is of dubious reliability), and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and Visit Norway, and The War in Algiers (in Danish).)

872 - 933

Haraldr Hárfagri / Harald I Fairhair

Son of Halfdanr Svarti / Halfdan III 'the Black' of Agder.

late 800s

Haraldr marries Ragnhidr (Ragnhild), daughter of Eirik, prince of Jutland (who may be the same person as King Eric (I or II) of Denmark). The king's son by her is Eric Bloodaxe. During the same late ninth century period, battles take place as the Geats have to defend themselves against Haraldr. They receive no help from their Swedish overlords.

Haraldr Hárfagri Halfdansson of Norway
Haraldr Hárfagri united all the minor kingdoms of Norway in the later ninth century through a mixture of force of arms and diplomacy, although the former seemed to involve most of his time


It is only after Norway has been unified that the permanent presence of Norsemen is established in Finnmark, the borderland between Norse settlement or trading posts in the far north and the indigenous Sámi tribes.

The Norse sagas state that the new Norwegian monarchy imposes tribute on the Finnmark. It remains unoccupied by Norsemen to any great or permanent extent but royal agents are appointed to collect the tribute from the region's Finno-Ugric tribes.

In this year, the Kvens and Norse cooperate in battles against the invading Karelians, again according to Egil's Saga. Thorolf Kveldulfsson, head of taxes for the king of Norway from 872 (and later the tax agent in the Finnmark), enters Kvenland, going 'up on the fell with a hundred men; he passed on at once eastwards to Kvenland and met King Faravid.' Based on medieval documents, this meeting takes place during the winter of 873-874.

874 - 875

Iceland is 'discovered' in 874 and is settled in increasing numbers (although it would appear that the island has been visited for some years by Norse Vikings). An independent republic governs it until 1262.

Odin Rides to Hel
This woodcut is entitled 'Odin Rides to Hel', being an illustration by WG Collingwood from The Elder Edda or Poetic Edda

During Haraldr's reign, Thorvald Asvaldsson of Jadar is exiled for murder. He settles in Iceland where he becomes the father of Eirik the Red, who himself goes on to settle Greenland and fathers Leif Eriksson, founder of the Vinland colony in the Americas.

At the same time, Haraldr is forced to take more permanent action against Norse exiles who have been raiding Norway's coast since their defeat in 872. Rather than carrying out regular summer expeditions against them, around 875 he pursues them to their western bases.

Hjaltland (Shetland) is stormed, as are the Orkneys and Sudreys (Hebrides), Vikings are chased down across Scotland, and those on the Isle of Man flee before him.


The oldest known written use of the term 'Kven', with nearly that spelling, is made in the Account of the Viking Othere, a report of the geopolitical landscape of the North, based on the voyage by Ottar, the Norse Viking adventurer, as he makes his way through the oceanic coasts of northern Scandinavia and the extreme north-western of modern Russia.

Leif Erikson
Leif Erikson's name is preserved by the Icelandic sagas which record the relatively short-lived Viking settlement of Newfoundland

In this account, the Kvens are referred to as 'Cwenas' who live in 'Cwena land'. It is the first genuine and comprehensive account of the far north, and is therefore a principle source in studies which relate to Nordic history.


Ottar reports his findings to King Alfred of Wessex, who has his account included in the additions to the Universal History of Orosius, which the king republishes. The book is a shared work between Orosius and King Alfred. The Kven Sea is mentioned as the northern border of Germany.

The location of Kvenland is also explained in the following ways: 'Ottar (Ohthere) said that the Norwegians' (Norðmanna) land was very long and very narrow... and to the east are wild mountains, parallel to the cultivated land. Sámi people (Finns) inhabit these mountains... Then along this land southwards, on the other side of the mountain, is Sweden... and along that land northwards, Kvenland (Cwenaland).

'The Cwenas (Kvens) sometimes make depredations on the Northmen over the mountain, and sometimes the Northmen on them; there are very large freshwater meres amongst the mountains, and the Kvens carry their ships over land into the meres, and thence make depredations on the Northmen; they have very little ships, and very light.'

The Estonian artist, Oskar Kallis, depicted Kalevipoeg in his traditional form of a giant, perhaps mixed with a little Viking, in this pastel from 1915, but the giants of legend are usually accepted as being descriptive forms of earlier, pre-Christian peoples


During his reign, Haraldr divides responsibility for the management of the kingdom. The original holdings in the south-east are given to sons (at least twelve) and kinsmen while the south-west coastal region remains under Haraldr's direct control as high king.

The long north-western coastal strip is governed by the earls of Lade, while the earls of Møre govern a much smaller region between Lade and the south-west. The earls of Lade prove to be important players in the rule of Norway later in the century.


Haraldr secures the succession by naming his favourite son, Eric Bloodaxe as his successor. They rule side by side for the three remaining years of Haraldr's life. This does not end the possibility of division within the kingdom, however, and it is not until about 1030 that Norway is unquestionably unified.


To keep the peace in the face of Viking attacks, Charles III of the Franks grants territory in the north to the Viking chieftain, Rollo. The resulting duchy of Normandy proves to be far more powerful than the king could have feared, but Rollo's origins are today disputed by Norway and Denmark.

Norway claims him as the son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, earl of Møre, in western Norway. Records from the twelfth century claim he falls out with the king and migrates to Normandy.

Viking village
The Vikings who settled in Normandy would have seemed a rough and ready lot to the relatively sophisticated French court, but they proved their worth as loyal vassals and renowned fighters

930 - 934

Eric I Bloodaxe

Son. King of York (948 & 952-954).

Gudrod Liomi Haraldsson

Brother. King of Hadeland.

Rögnvaldr / Ragnald Haraldsson

Brother. King of Hadeland. Killed by Eric.

Dag Haraldsson

Brother. King of Hedmark.

Halfdan Haleg (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Ringerike. Killed on Orkney.

Guttorm Haraldsson

Brother. King of Ringerike.

Halvdan Kvite (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Halvdan Svarte (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Sigrød Haraldsson

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Bjørn Farmann

Brother. King of Vestfold. Killed by Eric.

Olaf Haraldsson Geirstadalf

Brother. King of Vingulmark, to which he added Vestfold.

934 - 954

An apparently harsh ruler, Eric quickly falls out of favour with the Norwegian nobility. When Haakon returns from England, he is asked to take the throne. Eric is banished and flees the country to become an adventurer.

In 946 he is invited to England to become ruler of the Scandinavian kingdom of York. He is rejected in 948, returns in 952, and is finally defeated in 954, although by then he has already killed many of his rivals (who also happen to be his brothers).

These deaths include Bjørn Farmann, grandfather of Harald Gudrødsson Grenske, the later king of Agder and Vestfold. Even so, Eric's defeat on the other side of the North Sea creates a fully unified kingdom of England.

Eric Bloodaxe silver penny
Shown here are two sides of a silver penny issued under the rule of Eric Bloodaxe following his exile from Norway and during his governance of the Scandinavian kingdom of York in England

934 - 961

Haakon / Hacon I 'the Good'

Brother. First Christian king. Fostered in Wessex as a child.

961 - 977

Harald II Graypelt

Son of Eric Bloodaxe. Killed Gudrød Bjørnsson of Vestfold.

977 - 995

Haakon Sigurdsson

Danish ally. Jarl Haakon II of Lade. 'Regent'. Murdered.

976 - 977

The accession of Haakon Sigurdsson of Lade may cause some disharmony in the Norwegian nobility. From about 976, Harald Gudrødsson Grenske, father of King Olaf II, can be found ruling Agder, Vestfold, and Viken, although it is not clear if he is claiming a kingship or remains subject to the king's authority.


Greenland is discovered by Eric the Red and is claimed for Norway. He is the son of the exiled Thorvald Asvaldsson of Jadar in Rogaland. His own son, Leif Eriksson, later becomes the founder of the Vinland colony in the Americas.


The Battle of Maldon on the Essex coast of England is lost by the Anglo-Saxon regime when the forces of Olaf Tryggvason (soon to be king of Norway and the main rival against Sweyn Forkbeard for the throne of Denmark) defeat those of the ealdorman of Essex. The Vikings begin to demand heavy tribute from the Saxon lands.

Eadred silver penny
Shown here are both sides of a silver penny which is in surprisingly good condition and which was issued during the reign of Eadred, first acknowledged king of all England

995 - 1000

Olaf I Tryggvason

Defeated in battle and disappeared (probably drowned).


Tryggvason is attacked by a united army under the command of Olaf III Skötkonung of Sweden and Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. The pair have determined that Norway will be conquered and divided between them. They duly defeat Olaf at the Battle of Svolder and divide the country.

A jarl of Lade, Eric son of Haakon, holds the Norwegian throne as regent from this point, while the Swedes gain border territories from part of Trøndelag and modern Bohuslän. A pagan ruler also appears in Gudbrandsdal after this point.

1000 - 1014

Eric Haakonsson

Son of Haakon. Regent for Denmark. Jarl of Lade.

1015 - 1028

St Olaf II Haraldson / 'the Holy' / 'Stout'

Son of Harald (Agder). 1st Christian king. Expelled. Died 1030.

1016 - 1021

The accession of Olaf II in 1016 brings his own domain of Agder fully back under the control of the Norwegian crown (if it was not already under that control beforehand). In gaining the crown, he also restores Norwegian control of the land after the Danish interlude.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1000
This map of Scandinavia around AD 1000 shows the extent of the Norwegian kingdom at this time in relation to its Scandinavian neighbours (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Olaf, though, does have to battle against pagan petty kings in his realm, which means killing Gudrod of Gudbrandsdal about 1020, and mutilating the defeated Hroerkr Dagsson of Hedmark in 1021.

1028 - 1035

Norway again falls under the rule of Denmark. At first it is governed by Haakon Eirksson, son of the previous Norse regent, then directly by Canute himself, and finally under Canute's son, Sweyn, and his mistress, Aelfgifu, in his name until his death. Olaf II returns in 1030 to reclaim his throne but is killed by the Norwegian lords who oppose him at the Battle of Stiklestad.

Chief among these seems to be the independently-minded kings and lords of the north who largely refuse to accept Christianity even under torture.

Thórir Hund of Hålogaland is marked out as the man who strikes Olaf the fatal blow, while Thórir himself is protected under his reindeer cloak, made invulnerable by the magic of his powerful friends in the north (largely Sámi natives who bind magic with paganism to an otherworldly extent).

St Olaf II Haraldson
Early in life Olaf Haraldson took part in Viking raids on England, before securing his election as a king of Norway and pursuing a passion to Christianise his countrymen, something which ended in the rebellion of his subjects

1028 - 1029

Haakon (III) Eiriksson

Regent. Danish ally. Jarl of Lade.

1030 - 1035

Sven Cnutsson / Sweyn / Svein

Regent. Son of Canute II of Denmark.


Canute's death sees his great Scandinavian empire begin to break up. By the late 1020s he had been able to claim kingship over England, Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden. Scotland had also submitted to his overlordship, and Viking raids against the British Isles had been ended. Now his brother Harold gains England, his son Hardicanute gains Denmark, and Sweyn gains Norway.

1035 - 1036

Sven Cnutsson / Sweyn / Svein

Former regent or governor of Norway.

1036 - 1047

Magnus I 'the Good'

Also king of Denmark (1042-1047).

1047 - 1066

Harald III Hardrade 'Hard Ruler'

Killed by Harold II, king of England at Stamford Bridge.


The son of Sigurd Syr, sub-king of Ringerike in Norway, Harald Hardrade attempts to invade England with the help of King Harold's rebellious younger brother, Earl Tostig of Northumbria and his own son, Olaf (later known as 'the Peaceful'). The invasion is defeated at the Battle of Stamford bridge on 28 September, and both Harald and Tostig are killed.

Canute shows that he cannot stop the waves
Canute is popular in folklore for teaching his fawning courtiers that even he was not powerful enough to stop the tide's progress up the beach

1066 - 1069

Magnus II Haraldsson

Son. Became ill and died. Not an official king until recently.

1067 - 1069

Olaf Kyrre 'the Peaceful'

Brother & co-ruler upon return. Succeeded as sole ruler.

1069 - 1093

Olaf III Kyrre 'the Peaceful'

Became sole ruler upon brother's death.

1093 - 1103

Magnus III 'the Barefoot / Barelegs'

Son. Also ruled Ynys Manau (1095-1102) & Dublin (1102-1103).

1093 - 1095

Haakon Magnusson Toresfostre

Son of Magnus II and co-ruler. Died young.

1098 - 1099

Magnus 'Barefoot' is the first aggressive king of Norway since the reign of his grandfather, Harald Hardrade. Having secured his throne at home in these years he goes campaigning in and around the Irish Sea. Orkney, the Hebrides, and Man are all raided, and his authority there is agreed through treaty with King Edgar 'the Valiant' of Scotland.

1103 - 1115

Olaf Magnusson

Son of Magnus 'Barefoot'. Discounted from numbering (IV).

1103 - 1123

Eystein II (I) Magnusson

Half-brother & co-ruler. Improved the country.

1103 - 1130

Sigurd I Jorsalfer 'the Crusader'

Brother & co-ruler. Fought to secure Jerusalem.


A period of prolonged civil war erupts in Norway following the long reign of Sigurd Jorsalfer, partially due to muddy succession laws but also due to various oppositions groups with their own interests in claiming the crown. Conflict is frequent and prolonged until 1240, but there are periods in which it subsides to the level of a mere feud.

King Sigurd Jorsalfer on Crusade
Sigurd Jorsalfer's reign was long and prosperous for Norway, but his death and the country's confusing succesion laws plunged it into a series of civil wars

1130 - 1135

Magnus IV Sigurdsson 'the Blinded'

Illegitimate son. Dethroned &  mutilated. Killed 1139.

1130 - 1136

Harald IV 'Gillechrist'

Uncle. In uneasy co-ruling agreement. Civil war 1134-1135.


Sigurd Slembe 'Horrid'

Deacon. Killed Harald. Held throne for one day.

1136 - 1161

Inge I 'Crookback'

Son of Gillechrist. Defeated a returning Magnus IV.

1136 - 1161

Sigurd II Munn 'the Mouth'

Brother & co-ruler from infancy. Killed by Inge's men.

1142 - 1157

Eystein III (II)

Brother & co-ruler from infancy. Fought, fled, & killed.


The world atlas by the Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, which is commissioned by the Norman king of Sicily, Roger II, mentions that the king of FMRK has possessions in Norway. 'FMRK' refers to Finnmark ('Finn land'), the name for the northernmost part of Fennoscandia, which is still part of Kvenland.

In the modern northern Norwegian county of Troms alone there are at least twelve prehistoric Kven place names, and Finnmark retains its name as Norway's northernmost county.

Muhammad al-Idrisi's world map
Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi's world atlas, as commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily, carries important contemporary notes for each of the regions it displays


In his geographical chronicle, Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan, the Icelandic Abbot Níkulás Bergsson (Nikolaos) provides descriptions of the lands near Norway.

Closest to Denmark is little Sweden (Svíþjóð), there is Öland (Eyland); then is [the island of] Gotland; then Hälsingland (Helsingaland); then Värmland (Vermaland); then two Kvenlands (Kvenlönd, perhaps Kvenland itself and Finland to the south, on the northern shore of the Baltic Sea), and they extend to north of Bjarmia (Bjarmalandi, the land of the Bjarmians).

1161 - 1162

Haakon II Sigurdsson 'Broad-Shoulder'

Illegitimate son of Sigurd Munn. Killed in battle.


By this time Erling 'Skakke' ('the Jolted', named as such after a war 'accident') has claimed much of the country on behalf of his son, Magnus V Erlingsson.

Essentially two power blocs now exist in the civil war; the 'Baglers' (the church and the nobility led by the five year-old Magnus V and his father), and the 'Birkebeiners' (shown in green, a motley crew of brigands, 'ravers', and other outcasts led by King Sverre who holds his claim via his mother's side of the family).

The medieval Swedes and Norse may have liked to think that they had the natives of Kvenland conquered by the thirteenth century, but intermittent raiding was continued by both sides in the struggle for superiority in Scandinavia and Fenno-Scandinavia

1161 - 1179

Erling Skakke 'Slanted'

Former guardian for Inge. Regent for son. Killed in battle.

1162 - 1184

Magnus V Erlingsson

Son. Leader of the 'Baglers'. Killed at Battle of Fimreite.

1162 - 1163

Sigurd III

A Bagler.

1166 - 1169

Olaf / Olav Ugjæva

A Birkebeiner. Fled to Denmark in 1168. Died 1169.

1170 - 1173


A Birkebeiner.


The Historia Norvegiae (History of Norway) provides another mention of the vast and still-largely-mysterious domain of Kvenland, stating that the Kvens serve pagan gods. Given that many Norwegians themselves had only recently given up their pagan ways after resisting Christianity for a good couple of centuries, this is hardly surprising.

1174 - 1177

Eystein Meyla 'the Maiden'

Son of Eystein III (II). A Birkebeiner. Killed escaping battle.

1177 - 1202

Sverre Sigurdsson 'the Priest'

Son of Sigurd? Birkebeiner, in Tronheim (main stronghold).

1184 - 1194

Once Magnus V is killed at the Battle of Fimreite in this year, Sverre is sole king of Norway. He also proves to be a great king, and perhaps one of the country's most important. In 1194, following a disagreement with the church (which supports the opposing Baglers), he is excommunicated by the Pope.

The Danes conquer Rugen
The Danish conquest of Rügen in 1168 ended more than a millennium of independence for the native people - a possible combination of Celts, Germanics, and Slavs - pulling down their gods in the process

Despite this, he continues to receive support both from Knut VI of Sweden and from Prince John in England, and relations with the pope become insignificant with the resurgence of Bagler opposition.

1185 - 1188

Jon Ingesson Cuvlung / Kuvlung

A Bagler. Claimed as a son of Inge. Killed by Sverre.

1193 - 1194

Sigurd Magnusson

Bagler son of Magnus V. Killed in battle against Sverre.

1196 - 1199

Inge Magnusson

Brother? A Bagler. Killed by his own men in 1202.

1202 - 1204

Haakon III

Son of Sverre. A Birkebeiner. Died without an heir.

1203 - 1208

The four sons of Knut VI of Sweden have been living at King Sverker's royal court, but in 1203 they begin to stake their own claims for the throne. Sverker has them exiled to Norway, but they return with troops in 1205, supported by the Birkebeiner faction of Norway's nobility.

Sverker is victorious at the Battle of Älgarås in which three of Knut's sons are killed. The surviving son, Eric Knutsson, retires back to Norway until 1208, when he is able to try again with further Norwegian support, and defeats Sverker at the Battle of Lena. Sverker is forced into exile in Denmark while Eric seizes the Swedish throne.


Guttorm Sigudsson

Nephew, aged 4. A Birkebeiner. Died.

1204 - 1207

Erling Magnusson Steinvegg

Son of Magnus V? A Bagler. Died.

1204 - 1217

Philip Simonsson

Nephew of Inge I. Bagler. Opland & Viken, 2 main strongholds.

1204 - 1217

Inge II Baardson

A Birkebeiner. Ruled in the west only.


Agreement is reached between the two warring factions. Inge rules the west of the country with the title of king, while Philip Simonson rules in Viken and the east in a nominally independence guise, but without the same title.

Eric IX
Eric IX, otherwise known as Eric the Saint, the Lawgiver, and the Holy, became the patron saint of Sweden after his relics became very popular with Swedes following his death


The long-running period of civil war is finally ended following the deaths in this year both of Inge II and Philip Simonson. The thirteen year-old Haakon is chosen as sole king, with Skule Bårdsson acting as regent.

The regency does not go smoothly, however, with Skule eventually rebelling against the king. Skule proclaims himself king in 1239 but is killed the following year, and with that country is finally at peace.

1217 - 1263

Haakon IV Haakinsson 'the Old'

Son of Haakon III. Died on Orkney during an expedition.

1217 - 1240

Skule Bårdsson

Regent. Rebelled and was killed. End of civil war.


Despite the Baglers and Birkebeiners having reconciled themselves to peace, not all Baglers are happy with the situation, especially given that Haakon is essentially a Birkebeiner king. This disaffected element forms its own rebellion, called the Ribbunger ('Ribalds' in English, but with a broader meaning). It digs up two successive candidates, neither of whom proves successful.

1218 - 1226

Sigurd Erlingsson Ribbung

Son of Erling Steinvegg. Died of natural causes.


Knut Haakonsson

Surrendered to Haakon, the Ribbunger cause now spent.


The Norwegians and Karelians engage in combat. Various Karelian elements have been forced westwards by the Mongol invasions, with one in 1241 even being settled and Christianised in Norway. Possibly too many have since followed the same escape route.

Chingiz Khan
This portrait shown Chingiz Khan in his later years, by which time he had built up an empire which covered much of eastern and Central Asia, as well as stretching into Eastern Europe


The Icelandic Althing (assembly) votes for union with Norway. The agreement is known as the 'Old Covenant', or the Gissurarsáttmáli after the Icelandic leader who has worked to promote it. The former term appears to be a confusion with a renewal treaty of 1302 which bears a very similar name.


King Alexander III of Scotland successfully defeats an 'invasion' by Haakon 'the Old' at the Battle of Largs in 1263 (the 'Last Viking Invasion' of the British Isles, although in reality the confrontation is small-scale and relatively neutral in outcome). Now an old man, Haakon winters in Orkney and dies there.

Following this, the Treaty of Perth transfers the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland from Norway. From this point the Isle of Man is controlled directly from either Scotland or England, as the two nations vie for power.

As part of the peace-making, Alexander's daughter marries Haakon's grandson, Eric II. Their daughter Margaret later becomes queen of Scotland.

1263 - 1280

Magnus VI Haakonsson 'Lawmender'

Son of Haakon IV. Pursued a much more peaceful path.


Icelandic annals report the following to have happened in the mid-northern area of modern Norway: 'Then Karelians and Kvens pillaged widely in Hålogaland'.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1300
By around AD 1300 the Swedes and Norse had taken full control of southern Scandinavia and were starting to extend their influence northwards, while the Swedes were also becoming heavily involved in what is now southern Finland (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1281 - 1299

Eric II / Eirik II Magnusson

Son. His dau. Margaret, later queen of Scotland (1286-1290).

1299 - 1319

Haakon V

Brother. Ended ongoing Dano-Norwegian conflict.


Torkel Knutsson, constable of Sweden, governor of Finland, and virtually king during the early years of the young King Berger, is arrested and, in February 1306, he is executed. Prince Waldemar, duke of Finland, divorces his wife, the late constable's daughter, and in 1312 marries Ingeborg Eriksdottir, daughter of the late King Eric II of Norway.

1320 - 1365

Magnus VII of Norway 'the Caresser'

Grandson. Also Magnus II of Sweden (1320-1365).


King Magnus is conducting a series of campaigns of conquest against the Finno-Ugric Izhorians along the River Neva (to the immediate east of today's St Petersburg). His campaign also threatens the Novgorodian fortress of Oreshek on the same river (today's Shlisselburg).

Future posadnik of Novgorod, Ontsifor Lukinich, and his colleagues manage to clear the area, causing the Scandinavians heavy casualties. The fortress still falls, later in the year.

Seventeenth century impression of Novgorod
The Novgorod detinets (from an Old Slavic word to refer to a kremlin or medieval town centre which is also present in Polish as dziedziniec) as shown on a surviving fragment of a seventeenth century Russian icon known as Our Lady of the Sign

1343 - 1380

Haakon VI Magnusson 'the Younger'

Son. Died, leaving Norway to his wife, Margaret.


Upon the death of Valdemar of Denmark, his daughter immediately secures the election of her infant son as his successor. The daughter is Margaret, wife of Haakon VI, having been engaged to him since the age of six. As the son, Olaf, is a baby, Margaret rules in his stead, proving to be an able and accomplished queen regnant.

1380 - 1387

Olaf IV

Son. Also Olaf V of Denmark (1376-1387). Died aged 17.

1380 - 1387

Queen Margaret I

Mother & regent. De facto ruler of Denmark & Norway.


Haakon dies, leaving Queen Margaret to ensure that their son, Olaf, is proclaimed king in Norway, adding it to his territories. This creates the Union of Denmark and Norway, which means that Denmark also gains Greenland and Iceland. In reality, Margaret is again the de facto ruler as Olaf is still a minor.

1387 - 1388

Olaf's sudden and unexpected death at the age of seventeen puts Margaret firmly in the driving seat as queen regent of Denmark and Norway. In effect, Norway is ruled as an appendage of Denmark.

The nobility of Sweden, already unhappy with their own King Albert, invite Margaret to invade and take the throne. In 1388 she is accepted, at her own insistence, as 'Sovereign Lady and Ruler' of Sweden.

Silver coin of Eric XIII of Pomerania
Shown here are two sides of a silver coin which was minted at the Lund mint during the reign of Eric XIII of Pomerania, king of Sweden and Denmark, and then also of Norway

1387 - 1389

Queen Margaret I

Queen of Denmark, Norway & Sweden. Became regent again.


Having promised to find a ruling king for the Scandinavian nations which are under her control, Margaret proclaims her great-nephew, Bogislaw of Pommern-Stolp, as king of Norway with her ruling alongside him as is specifically agreed for Norway.

He receives the more acceptable Scandinavian name of Eric as he takes up his new position, although he is still a minor so Margaret returns to the role of regent.

1389 - 1439

Eric III of Pomerania

Eric VII of Denmark, XIII of Sweden, & I of Pommern-Stolp.

1389 - 1412

Queen Margaret I

Regent and former queen. Remained de facto ruler.


In order to fully unite the three kingdoms under her control and promote her aim of securing peace and prosperity for Scandinavia, Margaret convenes the Congress of the Realm at Kalmar in June 1397. Eric is crowned king of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under the terms of the Union of Kalmar.

Margaret remains regent for the rest of her lifetime so that even when Eric reaches his majority, she remains in control. (Eric is removed by the nobles in 1439, although Norway waits until 1440 to ratify this decision, so he returns to Pommern-Stolp.)

Queen Margaret I of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
Acting as regent for her young son in Denmark and Norway, Olaf IV, Margaret ended up being queen when he died unexpectedly at seventeen, with Sweden also accepting her in 1388

1439 - 1440

Sigurd Jonsson

Regent in Norway until the selection of Christopher.

1440 - 1448


Son of Eric III. Also Christopher of Denmark & III of Sweden.

1448 - 1450

Sigurd Jonsson

Regent for a second time in Norway.

1448 - 1450

Christopher dies suddenly. In Norway, Sigurd Jonsson becomes regent in Norway for the second time while the nobles of the three nations (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) decide who to elect as the new king. Sweden selects Karl while Denmark chooses Christian of Oldenburg.

Norway debates selecting a third candidate for its own throne but eventually it also goes with Christian of Oldenburg (in 1450), although a portion elects Karl in opposition to Christian. Karl and Christian now jostle for supremacy in Scandinavia, and Karl is soon forced by the nobility to relinquish his claim on Norway.

Christian remains Norway's king for the rest of his life. Norway is now, essentially, ruled by Denmark through the Kalmar Union.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.