Håkons Skjold

The Realm of Norway and its dependencies as a political system

The Realm of Norway and its dependencies (‘Norgesveldet’) was geographically speaking one of the most extensive polities in Europe in the Middle Ages, stretching from the Kola Peninsula in the north to Göta River in the south, and from Ragunda in the east to Davis Strait in the west. In addition to the Norwegian mainland, it included a number of peripheral provinces collectively known as the king’s ‘skattlands’, i.e. tributary countries. Here we will use the term Norse for all territories belonging to the King of Norway.

 Kart over Nidaros 1300-talletThe Norwegian king’s political dominance in the Norse world culminated in the two generations after c.1270 when the kings established direct royal rule over the peripheral provinces of the realm and integrated the dependencies into a common state. The tide turned by the end of the 14th century as a consequence of Norway’s incorporation into a unified Scandinavia. From 1450 onwards the medieval Norwegian realm came apart and the dependencies were divided between Scotland, Sweden and Denmark.

The aim of the project, which is sponsored by the Norwegian Council of Research, is to undertake an analysis of the ‘Norgesveldet’ as a political system. By political system, we understand a complex of structural, social and material components, such as administration and legislation, communication and literacy, aristocratic networks and local community life, taxation and public finances, and so forth. Our ambition is to study the Norwegian realm in the Middle Ages from a common Norse or West-Nordic perspective, and not a national one, be that Norwegian, Icelandic or Scottish or Swedish for that matter. Project description NFR 2009 (pdf)

The project belongs to the Faculty of Humanities, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Dragvoll, N-7491 Trondheim.

Project manager:
Professor Steinar Imsen,
Department of History and Classical Studies (IHK),
NTNU –Dragvoll, N-7491 Trondheim,
tel. +47 73 59 67 72,
e-mail: steinar.imsen@ntnu.no

In co-operation with:

Professor Jón Viðar Sigurðsson,
Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History (IAKH),
University of Oslo, Box 1008, N-315 Oslo
tel. +47 22 84 19 55,
e-mail: j.v.sigurdsson@iakh.uio.no

Postdoctoral Fellow Randi Bjørshol Wærdahl
IHK, NTNU – Dragvoll,
tel. +47 73 59 64 37,
e-mail: randi.werdahl@ntnu.no.