Ragnvald Knaphövde

Ragnvald Knaphövde

Ragnvald Knaphövde was a King of Sweden whose reign is estimated to the mid-1120s" [http://histvarld.historiska.se/histvarld/sok/artikel.asp?id=21342 Ragnvald knaphövde] " at the site of the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, retrieved January 20, 2007.] or c. 1130." [http://runeberg.org/nfcb/0477.html Ragnvald Knaphöfde] " in "Nordisk familjebok" (1915).] "Ragnvald Knaphövde" in "Nationalencyklopedin" (1994).] His cognomen "Knaphövde" is explained as referring to a drinking vessel, the size of a man's head or meaning "round head" and referring to his being foolish.

Ragnvald is mentioned in the regnal list of the "Westrogothic law" as the successor of king Inge the Younger, but it is not certain whether he is the same person as Inge the Elder's son Ragnvald, because another tradition presents him as the son of an Olof Näskonung ("Neskonungr" meant "king of a ness" or "petty king", in Old Norse).

Ragnvald Knaphövde had been elected king by the Swedes in Uppland and then acknowledged by the East Geats in Östergötland, but when he entered Västergötland, he did so without taking Geatish hostages. In Karleby, he was murdered by the Geats who instead had elected the Danish prince Magnus the Strong as king.

The Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus explained later in the same century that the election of Magnus the Strong and the murder of a rightful king of Sweden was part of a Gothic (Geatish) plan to arrogate the right of electing the king from the Swedes: [1] Interea Sueticarum partium rege absumpto, Gothi summam, cuius omne penes Sueones arbitrium erat, Magno deferre ausi, alieni privilegii detrimento dignitatis sibi incrementa quaerebant. [2] Quorum Sueones auctoritate contempta, veterem gentis suae praerogativam in aliquanto obscurioris populi invidia deponere passi non sunt. [3] Igitur antiquae dignitatis speciem intuentes, titulum iniusta collatione praereptum novi regis electu cassarunt. [4] Qui mox a Gothis trucidatus, morte Magno imperium cessit. [ [http://www.kb.dk/elib/lit/dan/saxo/lat/or.dsr/13/5/index.htm "Gesta Danorum", 13.5.1] , in Latin, at the Royal Danish Library.] However, the king of Sweden was dead and in spite of the fact that it was the privilege of the Swedes to elect a new king, the Geats arrogated this dignity by putting aside the right of others and ventured to give the kingship to Magnus. The Swedes did not want to allow the Geats any kind of right in this respect and considered it improper that a lesser nation should claim a right that had belonged to the Swedes since time immemorial, and as they claimed their old rights, they declared the election of Magnus invalid, because the Geats had no right to elect king, and elected a new one. This new king was soon killed by the Geats and at his death the dominions passed to Magnus. [Translation provided by Wikipedia editors.]

In the following century, in the "Westrogothic law", the Geats would acknowledge that it was the Swedes who were entitled to elect and depose the king. ["Sveær egho konong at taka ok sva vrækæ" ("it is the Swedes who have the right to elect king and to dethrone him").] In the regnal list of this law, they ignored the existence of any Magnus the Strong, but instead they defended the murder of Ragnvald as follows:Tiundi war Rangwaldær konongær. baldær oc huxstor. reð .a. karllæpitt at vgislædhu. oc fore þa sæwirðnigh han giorðhe allum wæstgötom. þa fek han skiæmðær döðhæ. styrðhi þa goðhær laghmaðþær. wæstrægötllandi. oc lanz höffhengiær. oc waru þa allir tryggir landi sinu. [ [http://www.nordlund.lu.se/Fornsvenska/Fsv%20Folder/01_Bitar/A.L5.D-Vidhem.html The regnal list of the "Westrogothic law" at the University of Lund.] , retrieved July 18 2007.] 'The tenth (Christian king) was Ragnvald king, bold and proud. He rode to Karleby without hostage, and for the disrespect that he showed all the West Geats, he was given a death in shame. Then good lawspeakers and chieftains ruled Västergötland. And everyone was safe in their country.' [Translation provided by Wikipedia editors.]

Thus, the Geats explained the murder of Ragnvald as vengeance for his arrogant attitude towards them. After the death of Magnus the Strong, the king of Västergötland, the region was ruled by jarls, probably under the nominal supremacy of Danish kings during a few decades until the Swedish king Sverker the Elder and after him the Swedish king Erik Jedvardsson were accepted there. [The online article " [http://www.historiska.se/histvarld/artikel.asp?id=21630 Sverige] " at the site of the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, retrieved January 20, 2007.]

The 16th century Swedish king John III would later raise a tombstone for Ragnvald over a grave at Vreta, but this grave is probably that of Ragnvald's predecessor king Inge the Younger.

Notes and references


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