Civil War Era in Norway - Sources To The Civil War Era

Sources To The Civil War Era

Our main sources to the events of the civil war era are the kings' sagas. Heimskringla, Fagrskinna and Morkinskinna all describe the period up to the year 1177, although the parts of Morkinskinna that are preserved only extend to 1157. These three sagas were written c. 1220-1230, and in using them as historical sources, it has to be remembered that they were thus written a fair amount of time after the events they describe. However, they are likely to have been based on earlier works, in particular the saga Hryggjarstykki, written c. 1150, which is lost to us, but was available to the authors of the three aforementioned sagas. The brief Ágrip also describes the civil war era, but has only been preserved up to the events of c. 1136. The period 1177 to 1240 (and beyond) is treated in detail in contemporaneous sagas: Sverris saga (from 1177 to 1202) the Bagler sagas (1202 to 1217) and Håkon Håkonsson's saga (1217 to 1263). These sagas were written very shortly after the events they describe. However, as they don't overlap, we are given only one version of events (with the partial exception of the Bagler Sagas, which exist in two versions for the period 1202 to 1209), and this version tends to be from the viewpoint of the main character of the saga. From the later part of the period, fragments of documentation start to appear. The oldest Norwegian royal letter which is preserved was made out by Philippus the bagler king. Also, a couple of runic inscriptions written by central figures survive: A rune letter, probably written by King Sverre's son, Sigurd Lavard c. 1200 has been found during excavations in Bergen, and an inscription by Magnus Erlingsson's brother, Sigurd jarlsson, dated 18 June 1194, has been preserved from a portal of the now dismantled Vinje stave church.

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