Kraggerud, Egil: Theodoricus

Kraggerud, Egil: Theodoricus

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De antiquitate regum Norwagensium/On the Old Norwegian Kings


The short history of Norway by Theodoricus, a pioneering work, was written about the year 1180 by a Norwegian cleric during the distressing struggles between the ‘birkebeiner’ and the ‘bagler’.

Much points towards the theory that the author is identical with the later archbishop Tore Gudmundsson (1205-1214), the fourth in the row after the Norwegian archdiocese had been established in 1152/53. As archbishop Tore contributed significantly to the settlement between the belligerent parties in 1208 at Kvitsøy, it is tempting to see a conciliatory attitude reflected in De antiquitate regum Norwagiensium at the height of the conflict: the basis for peace must be sought in a harmonious cooperation between a stable royal power (the secularis gladius) and a clearly defined church representing the virga pastoralis (cf. ch. 5 and 23).

The treatise was first published in Amsterdam 1684, more than sixty years after it was found among the medieval manuscripts in Lübeck. 100 years later the historian Peter Fredrik Suhm published the text in the 5th vol. of Jacob Langebek’s collection of historical sources Scriptores rerum Danicarum medii ævi. The historian and philolo­gist Gustav Storm published it critically in his Monumenta historica Norvegiæ. Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen in 1880.

Since 1903, when the best witness to the text came to light in Copenhagen, a new edition of the Latin text has been a desideratum and even more so when the medieval Latinist Paul Lehmann found another copy of the vanished medieval ms in Berlin in the 1930ies. Professor Egil Kraggerud, now emeritus, who for a long time has been interested in the challenges of the text has in this book published his text with a full critical apparatus. He is the first to divide the 34 chapters into sections, a system to oust the old way of referring to the text by page and line in Storm’s edition.

Moreover, Kraggerud has added a parallel English translation on the basis of the preliminary translation of Peter Fisher (Cambridge). As an appendix he has also a Norwegian translation to serve Norwegian historians.

Kraggerud’s commentary serves a double purpose: the first part being directed towards the contents of each chapter, whereas the second part deals with text-critical, grammatical and lexical issues.

In the introductory part of the book Kraggerud deals with the issues attached to Theodoricus’ name, his sources and his views on the place of the Norwegian church within the Ecclesia Romana.


Egil Kraggerud is professor emiritus from the University of Oslo.


Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning/The Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture (IFSK). Serie B, 169.