Tuesday, 5 September 2017
My fourth book: Holy War for the Crown of Norway
The book deals with the 12th century wars for the Norwegian throne (the Norwegian answer to the War of the Roses – or Games of Thrones, except that this story is true) and how the influence from crusading ideas turned them into a holy war. It starts with the crusade of King Sigurd the Crusader in 1108-1111 and ends with the Battle of Fimreite in 1184. By looking at how the wars for the Norwegian throne became intertwined with the Danish civil wars and the conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope the book also attempts to place them in a Scandinavian and European context rather than the narrow Norwegian context they are usually seen in.
The main protagonists are much-loved King Magnus Erlingsson, who while still a child became the first Norwegian King to be crowned; his talented father Erling Wryneck, who with biblical fervour exterminated his son’s rivals; his grandfather Sigurd the Crusader, who was the first European King to go on a crusade to Jerusalem; and the friendly but ambitious King Inge the Hunchback.
On the way from Jerusalem to Fimreite we also meet Kristin Sigurdsdatter, one of the most significant women of medieval Norway; “the devil’s priest” King Sverre and his Birchlegs; the castrated monk Magnus the Blind; the immigrant King Harald Gilchrist; the power broker Queen Ingerid Ragnvaldsdatter and her many men; the last Viking King Øystein Haraldssen; the rapist King Sigurd the Mouth; the mighty Margareta Fredkolla, who became Queen twice; Valdemar the Great, who made Denmark a great power; the reforming Popes Hadrian IV and Alexander III and their bellicose opponent, Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa; the church builder Archbishop Øystein Erlendsson; the rejected child bride Queen Kristin Knudsdatter; and St Olav, the eternal King of Norway.