Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Carl XVI Gustaf becomes longest-reigning Swedish monarch ever

One of these days, Carl XVI Gustaf becomes the longest reigning monarch in Swedish history.
The previous record holder was Magnus Eriksson, who at the age of three was acclaimed King of Sweden on 8 July 1319. His father, Erik Magnusson, Duke of Södermanland, was the younger brother of King Birger Magnusson, who in 1317 imprisoned both his brothers (Erik and Valdemar). The brothers were either killed in captivity or left to starve to death. His brutal treatment of his brothers led to a rebellion, which forced King Birger to flee to Denmark and placed the young Magnus Eriksson on the Swedish throne.
He was already King of Norway, having inherited the Norwegian crown from his maternal grandfather two months previously, but in 1343 the personal union was dissolved when Magnus ceded Norway to his second son, Håkon VI, while his eldest son Erik was declared heir to Sweden.
In 1357, Erik became co-monarch of Sweden, but following his death two years later Magnus Eriksson was again the sole ruler of Sweden until February 1362, when Håkon was elected co-ruler. Magnus and Håkon were both deposed as Swedish kings in February 1364. As the exact date of this event is unknown, it is impossible to say for sure exactly how long Magnus’s reign lasted and therefore also to calculate on which date Carl XVI Gustaf overtakes him, but it is one of these days.
King Carl Gustaf came to the Swedish throne at the age of 27 when his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, died at 8.35 p.m. on 15 September 1973. (His father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, had died in a plane crash in 1947).
There will be no official celebrations of this milestone. King Carl Gustaf himself, accompanied by Queen Silvia, is on an official visit to Japan these days.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Royal jewels: Princess Ingeborg's Fabergé brooch - sold during WWII?

A Fabergé brooch (external link) which was given by the King's maternal grandfather, Prince Carl of Sweden, to Princess Ingeborg on the occasion of their fifteenth wedding anniversary in 1912 was sold by the auction house Coutau-Bégarie in Paris this week.
Several people have asked me about this and the auctioneer's claim that the brooch was sold by Crown Princess Märtha out of necessity during the Second World War. I do not know what is the auction house's source, but to me this seems like a misunderstanding or a supposition.
As I was able to reveal in my 2007 biography of Princess Astrid, Kvinne blant konger, the emerald parure now worn by the Queen was given to Crown Princess Märtha by Princess Ingeborg at the Central Station in Stockholm when she departed for the USA in the summer of 1940. Princess Ingeborg's intention was that her daughter could sell the emeralds if she never returned to Norway (which must have seemed a likely outcome in 1940), but the daring rescue of that the Bank of Norway's gold reserve meant that the Norwegian government-in-exile (unlike others) was able to provide for itself throughout the war and that the royal family did not have to sell their possessions in order to survive.
It therefore seems highly unlikely that Crown Princess Märtha sold the Fabergé brooch out of necessity during WWII.

Monday, 9 April 2018

My latest article: The viceroyalty of Norway

One of the forgotten institutions in Norwegian history is the viceroyalty, which existed between 1814 and 1891, when the Crown Prince or his eldest son could be appointed Viceroy of Norway and exercise the King's functions when the King was in Sweden. This is a unique example of an independent kingdom being governed by a viceroy, but it gave the heir to the throne the chance to get to know Norwegian affairs. Although this was warmly welcomed at first, the viceroyalty eventually became very unpopular.
Until now nothing has been written about the Viceroys of Norway, but on pages 10-17 in the new issue of the Swedish royal history magazine Royalty Digest Quarterly (no 1 - 2018) you may find my article "From Patriotic Desire to Colonial Stigma: The Viceroyalty of Norway, 1814-1891", which is a revised version of a lecture I gave at the conference "Courts and Viceroys: Viceregal Courts in Comparative Perspectives" at New York University in London in 2015.

Friday, 6 April 2018

My latest articles: Prince Henrik & Christian IX

In the April issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty (Vol. 39, No 4) you may read my obituary of Prince Henrik of Denmark, a man of many talents who was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and colourful royals of Europe.
In the same issue I also write about King Christian IX of Denmark, who was born 200 years ago on 8 April 1818. Known in his later years as "the father-in-law of Europe", he was also for a long time a highly controversial figure because of his role as conservative party king during the struggle for parliamentary democracy.
Also in this issue: Ian Lloyd writes about Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and the Commonwealth, Lucinda Gosling on historic royal fashion, Ingrid Seward on royal childbirth in Britain and Paul F. Cockburn on Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's Scottish retreat, the Castle of Mey.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

My latest articles: Gustaf VI Adolf & Hélène of Aosta

In the March issue of Majesty (Vol. 39, No. 3), which has been on sale in Britain for two weeks and is on sale in Norway from today, I write about the life of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, who is often credited with the survival of the Swedish monarchy. I also write about the French-born Princess Hélène, Duchess of Aosta, who was engaged to Prince Albert Victor, heir to the British throne (Queen Maud's brother), but married into the Italian royal family, became an enthusiastic fascist and was widely suspected of coveting the throne for her husband and sons.
In the same issue there is also a report on Prince William and Kate's official visit to Sweden and Norway, a report on the engagement of Princess Eugenie of Britain and Jack Brooksbank and a profile of Meghan Markle (who is also on the cover).
The magazine was already being printed when Prince Henrik of Denmark died, so my obituary of him will appear in the next issue, alongside an article on King Christian IX of Denmark, who was born 200 years ago in April 1818.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

My latest article: A poet among princes

In 45 minutes the funeral of Prince Henrik of Denmark, who died on 13 February, will take place in Christiansborg Palace Church in Copenhagen, and today Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, publishes my obituary of this man of many talents, who during his life could call himself Prince Consort, poet, winegrower, soldier, sculptor and diplomat, but never King. The obituary may be read here (external link).

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

My latest article: 200 years of Bernadottes & the last King of Bavaria

On 5 February the Bernadottes have sat on the Swedish throne for 200 years, so in the February issue of Majesty (Vol. 39, No. 2), which was published in Britain a while ago and will be on sale in Norway tomorrow, I recount the history of this dynasty, which originated in revoltuionary and Napoleonic France, and how it has survived against the odds, including some of the occasions when it might have fallen.
In the same issue I write about a monarch who did fall: King Ludwig III of Bavaria, the cousin of the more famous "mad" King Ludwig II, who seized the crown from another mad cousin, King Otto, in 1913. Although the Bavarians were traditionally attached to their dynasty, Ludwig III was the first monarch to fall when a wave of revolutions swept across Germany in 1918, bringing to an end the 738-year rule of the House of Wittelsbach.
In the same issue there are also articles by other writers on, among other topics, the Duchess of Cambridge's jewels, the gradual transition from Queen Elizabeth of Britain to Prince Charles, the funeral of ex-King Mihai of Romania and the Royal Academy of Arts's new exhibition "Charles I: King and Collector".

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

My latest article: The last King of Romania

Because of Christmas, the January issue of Majesty (Vol. 39, No. 1) is out in Britain already today. In it, I write about the life of King Mihai I of Romania, who died two weeks ago at the age of 96. Mihai, who was the last surviving adult head of state from World War II, reigned from 1927 to 1930, when he was deposed by his father, but returned to the throne ten years later. In 1944, he played a key role in toppling the dictator Antonescu and shifting Romania from the Axis to the Allied side, but in 1947 he was forced to abdicate while being held at gunpoint by the Communists. After the fall of the Iron Curtain he enjoyed tremendous respect and popularity in his former kingdom and was given a state funeral with full military honours last Saturday.

Monday, 18 December 2017

My latest article: Erling Wryneck's holy wars

Erling Wryneck (c. 1115-1179) was one of the most feared, gifted and ruthless men to rule Norway. In the early 1150s he travelled in the footpaths of his father-in-law, King Sigurd the Crusader, on a crusade to Jerusalem, and after he gained power in 1161 as regent for his son, King Magnus Erlingsson, he transferred the crusading ideas to the war for the Norwegian throne. It thus became a holy war in which pretenders had to conquer or die and with biblical zeal Erling exterminated all those of his son's real and potential rivals he could lay his hands on, including his own stepson.
In the December issue of Aftenposten Historie, Norway's largest history magazine, which is on sale from today, I write about Erling Wryneck and his holy wars, and he is also one of the main protagonists of my new book, Hellig krig om Norges krone - Tronstrid, borgerkrig og korstog fra Sigurd Jorsalfare til kong Sverre ("Holy War for the Crown of Norway: Wars of Succession, Civil Wars and Crusades from Sigurd the Crusader to King Sverre").

Thursday, 14 December 2017

My latest article: The Crusader's daughter

One of the most interesting women in medieval Norwegian history was Kristin Sigurdsdatter (c. 1125-178). After he father, King Sigurd the Crusader, had gone mad and died in 1130 and her brother, King Magnus the Blind, had been blinded, castrated and mutilated by their uncle Harald Gilchrist and later killed she was the only one left of the crusader's family, but eventually her son, Magnus Erlingsson, won the crown back from Harald Gilchrist's line. On several occasions Kristin herself took an active part in the wars for the throne, for instance when she spied on King Håkon the Broadshouldered and thereby revealed his schemes and paved her own son's way to the throne, or when she went to Denmark to negotiate a peace treaty with her cousin, King Valdemar the Great.
Kristin also travelled to Constantinople and possibly to Jerusalem, and she lived to see that her husband, Erling Wryneck, executed her illegitimate son so that he would not challenge his half-brother for the throne. This interesting woman's life is the topic of an article I have written for the yearbook of Etne Historical Society (the village where she lived as a married woman), which may be ordered from www.etnesogelag.no (external link). She also features in my new book, Hellig krig om Norges krone - Tronstrid, borgerkrig og korstog fra Sigurd Jorsalfare til kong Sverre ("Holy War for the Crown of Norway: Wars of Succession, Civil Wars and Crusades from Sigurd the Crusader to King Sverre").

Thursday, 7 December 2017

My latest article: Margaretha the matriarch

In the December issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 12) I write about Princess Margaretha of Denmark (1899-1977), who may have been less famous than her sisters, Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and Queen Astrid of the Belgians, but outlived them both by far to become (in the words of her niece, Princess Astrid of Norway) the female head of the family, the person who held the family together, one of King Olav's few confidantes and a valued adviser to younger relatives. The magazine is already out in Britain and from today also in Norway.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

At the road's end: Ex-King Mihai I of Romania (1921-2017)

The last King of Romania, Mihai I, died in his home in Aubonne, Switzerland at noon Central European Time today, aged 96.
Born on 25 October 1921, ex-King Mihai was the longest living king in history and the last surviving adult head of state from the Second World War.
Mihai I became King as far back as in 1927, following the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand I. He was deposed by his father, Carol II, in 1930, but again became King after Carol's abdication in 1940. Romania at first sided with the Axis powers, but King Mihai played a key role in toppling the Fascist dictator Antonescu and switching to the Allied side in 1944. In December 1947, he was forced to abdicate while being held at gunpoint by the Communists.
My obituary of the former King will appear in the next issue of Majesty.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

I now have an official Facebook page

If anyone might be interested, I now have an official author's page on Facebook which people may like without us being Facebook friends: https://www.facebook.com/trondnorenisaksenhistoriker/ (external link). Here you will be able to get updates on my work and a good deal of history and royalty, some art history and perhaps some book recommendations - sometimes in English, sometimes in Norwegian.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

My latest article: Norway's holy war

In today's edition of Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, I have an essay on how the crusading ideas influenced the 12th century war for the Norwegian throne, which they turned into a holy war in which pretenders had to win or die. It is, as the newspaper's chosen headline says, the real-life equivalent to Game of Thrones. The article is based on my new book, Hellig krig for Norges krone - Tronstrid, borgerkrig og korstog fra Sigurd Jorsalfare til kong Sverre, and may be read here (external link).

Friday, 3 November 2017

My latest articles: Danish crown jewels and Prince Henrik's travails

My article series about crown jewels continues in the November issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 11), which is now on sale in Norway as well as in Britain. The third and final installment of the series deals with the Danish crown jewels, and in the same issue I also look at this summer's great royal "scandal", when Prince Henrik of Denmark, shortly before he was diagnosed with senile dementia, announced his refusal to be buried with his wife of fifty years, Queen Margrethe II, in Roskilde Cathedral unless she makes him King Consort. I also look at the historical background for his demand for the title of King Consort, which is actually not so far-fetched as many seem to believe, nor is it the idea of a demented mind.

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.

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.