Saturday, 16 September 2017

My latest article: Innocent IV, the Pope who legitimised the House of Sverre

In today’s issue of the newspaper Klassekampen I write about Pope Innocent IV and his role in Norwegian history, inspired by a recent archaeological find. In connection with railway construction work in Oslo’s old town, archaeologists discovered something as rare as a medieval Papal seal. The seal was found folded, but on Wednesday an attempt was made to open it. This was abandoned because of the risk of breaking it, but the examination revealed that it was Pope Innocent IV who had sent the letter to which the seal was once affixed.
This was an interesting find because this Pope, who reigned from 1243 to 1254, played a small but interesting part in Norwegian history as the Pope who eventually gave permission for Håkon Håkonsson, the illegitimate grandson of the excommunicated usurper King Sverre, to be crowned. Thereby he brought the conflict between the church and the so-called Birchlegs to its conclusion and legitimised the House of Sverre as Norway’s rightful royal house, apparently in the hope that Håkon would go on a crusade and help recover Jerusalem, which had been lost to the Muslims in 1244.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

My fourth book: Holy War for the Crown of Norway

Today I am pleased to announce the upcoming publication of my fourth book, Hellig krig om Norges krone – Tronstrid, borgerkrig og korstog fra Sigurd Jorsalfare til kong Sverre (i.e. “Holy War for the Crown of Norway: Wars of Succession, Civil Wars and Crusades from Sigurd the Crusader to King Sverre”), which will be published by Forlaget Historie & Kultur in early October.
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.

Monday, 4 September 2017

HRH Prince Gabriel Carl Walther of Sweden, Duke of Dalecarlia

In a Council of State at the Royal Palace in Stockholm at 11.15 a.m., King Carl XVI Gustaf officially informed the cabinet of the birth of Prince Carl Philip's and Princess Sofia's second child, a son who saw the light of day at Danderyd Hospital on Thursday 31 August at 11.24 a.m. The newborn has received the name Gabriel Carl Walther and the titles Prince of Sweden and Duke of Dalecarlia (Dalarna in Swedish).
From what Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, it seems the parents have chosen the name Gabriel, which has no royal traditions in Sweden, because they believe it fits their newborn baby. The name Carl, on the other hand, is perhaps the most frequently used male name in Swedish royal history, borne by, among many others, the child's father and paternal grandfather, as well as nine Swedish kings before him (although he is called Carl XVI Gustaf, the first six Carls never existed). Walther is clearly in memory of Queen Silvia's father, the German businessman Walther Sommerlath, and the name is also borne by one of her brothers.
Many had guessed that the newborn baby would receive the dukedom of Dalecarlia, as that is the province from which Princess Sofia hails, but it is actually the first time that such personal connections are taken into consideration for the choice of dukedom. The dukedom of Dalecarlia was last held by King Carl Gustaf's youngest uncle, Prince Carl Johan, who received it at the time of his birth in 1916, but forfeited it when he married a commoner in 1946. Before that it was held by King Oscar I's youngest son, Prince August (1831-1873), whose widow Teresia, the Dowager Duchess of Dalecarlia, died only two years before the dukedom was created anew for Prince Carl Johan.
Prince Gabriel is King Carl Gustaf's and Queen Silvia's sixth grandchild and also sixth in line to the Swedish throne, following Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle, Prince Oscar, Prince Carl Philip and Prince Alexander. However, the family will continue to grow in the near future, as it was announced only four days before Prince Gabriel's birth that Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill are expecting their third child in March.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

My lastest article: Swedish crown jewels and the mother-in-law of Europe

In the September issue of Majesty I embark on a new series on crown jewels, starting with the exquisite Swedish ones, which are the oldest of an extant monarchy. The series will continue next month with the Norwegian crown jewels.
In the same issue I also write about Queen Louise of Denmark, the consort of King Christian IX, an influential lady who arranged dynastic marriages in the mistaken belief that they would prevent wars. Known as "the mother-in-law of Europe", she was also the mother-in-law from hell, at least for her daughter-in-law Louise.
The magazine is already in sale in Britain and will go on sale in Norway on the coming Thursday, which happens to be the bicentenary of Queen Louise's birth.