Tuesday, 10 October 2017

My new book is out today: Holy War for the Crown of Norway

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”), has been published today by Forlaget Historie & Kultur.
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 the 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.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My latest article: The end of Swedish coronations

My new book is just around the corner, but meanwhile I have turned some surplus material from my previous book, Norges krone - Kroninger, signinger og maktkamper fra sagatid til nåtid, into an article for the Swedish English-language royal history magazine Royalty Digest Quarterly (no 3 - 2017), which is now out. The article looks at how and why the Swedish kings stopped having coronations at the death of Oscar II in 1907, by which time coronations had come under increasing criticism for several decades (in sharp contrast to what was the case in neighbouring Norway).

Monday, 2 October 2017

My latest articles: Norwegian crown jewels and Mohammed bin Salman

Court intrigues are always fun, and in the October issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 10) I write about the latest developments in the ongoing struggle for the Saudi succession and the new Crown Prince, 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, who ousted his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef in what amounted to a palace coup this summer and now seems set to rule the world's most powerful monarchy for perhaps fifty years or more.
In the same issue my series on crown jewels continues with an article on the Norwegian ones, which, although mostly made in Sweden, have been symbols of Norway's independence for nearly two centuries.
The magazine is already on sale in Britain and will hit the shops in Norway on Thursday of this week.