Jarl in Sweden

Jarl in Sweden

In Sweden, members of medieval royal families, such as the House of Stenkil and House of Bjelbo, held the title of jarl before their ascension to the throne. Since the early 12th century, there usually was only one holder of the title at a time, second only to the King of Sweden.

For special occasions, regional jarls outside of Sweden could be nominated as well. An example of this is Jon jarl, who allegedly conducted pirate operations against Novgorod in the east. When the House of Bjelbo succeeded in becoming the royal family in 1250, the title was subsumed into that of duke and the powers were merged into the kingship soon after Birger jarl's death in 1266.Fact|date=July 2007


According to Procopius, the heruli, after having raided the European continent for several generations, returned to Scandinavia in 512 AD as a result of military defeats. As their old territory was now occupied by the Danes, they settled next to the Geats in present-day Sweden. While the Proto-Norse word for this mysterious tribe, "erilar",Fact|date=October 2007 is etymologically near "jarl" and "earl", and it has often been suggested they introduced the runes in Scandinavia [See the Järsberg Runestone from the 6th century carrying the inscription "ek erilaR [...] runor waritu..."] Fact|date=October 2007, no elaborate theory exist to explain how the word came to be used as a title. Arguably, their knowledge in interpreting runes also meant they were gifted in martial arts and, as they gradually integrated, "eril" or "jarl" instead came to signify the rank of a leader.Lindström, p 113-115] As described in the Icelandic sagas, such as Rígsthula [ [http://sv.wikisource.org/wiki/Rigstula Wikisource - Rigstula, verse 34] sv icon] , a jarl was a sort of chieftain next in rank to the king. Under any circumstance, when jarls are finally mentioned in medieval documents, it clearly was a title signifying a leader ranked directly under the king.

In Swedish history Jarls are described as either local rulers or viceroys appointed by a king, ruling one of the historical Swedish provinces, such as Västergötland, Östergötland, or Svitjod. In Norway, the jarls apparently kept this role and the kings attempted to introduce one in each Fylke before the title was used exclusively on the Orkney Islands in the 14th century. In Sweden, however, by the mid-10th century the title was used exclusively by a single personFact|date=October 2007 and the local leaders were gradually being referred to as "dux" or duke. Before the title was finally discontinued in the mid 13th century, Swedish jarls were powerful men, such as Birger Brosa, Ulf Fase, and Birger Jarl, often the true rulers of the Swedish kingdom.

Jarls of Sweden

"From diverse families":
* Jon Sverkersson, eldest son and heir of king Sverker I of SwedenFact|date=July 2007
* Karl Sverkersson, next son of king Sverker I - jarl in GothenlandFact|date=July 2007
* jarl Ragvald Henriksson, riksjarl during the brief reign of his brother Magnus (II)Fact|date=July 2007
* Ulf Jarl, jarl in 1160s [Ulf's family ties are unknown.] Fact|date=July 2007
* jarl Guttorm, in 1160sFact|date=July 2007

"From the House of Bjelbo:"
* Folke the Fat, jarl around 1100Fact|date=July 2007
* Bengt Snivil, jarl in the mid-1100s - probably never jarlFact|date=July 2007
* Birger Brosa, 1174-1202Lindström, p 267, "Jarls from the late 12th century to 1266"]
* Johan Sverkersson, 1202-120?
* Jon Jarl, ?-1206?
* Knut Birgersson, 120?-1208, killed in 1208 at the Battle of Lena
* Folke Birgersson, 1208-1210, killed in 1210 at the Battle of Gestilren
* Charles the Deaf ("Karl Döve"), 1210?-1220, killed at the Battle of Lihula
* Ulf Fase, 1220?-? and 1231-1240, died 1248
* Birger Magnusson, 1248-1266, last jarl ("Dux Sweciae")

Regional jarls

Jarls of Västergötland

"From the House of Stenkil:"
* Ulf Tostesson
* Ragnvald Ulfsson (c. 1010-20), later jarl of Staraja Ladoga and Ingria. Father of king Stenkil of Sweden.

Jarls of Östergötland

* Totil, fictional Jarl i Kind.
* Kettil unchristian, fictional Jarl i Kind.

Jarls of Götaland

* Walgöter (fictional)

Jarls of Skåne

"From the House of Munsö".
*Ulf Torgilsson, died 1026. Father of king Sweyn Estridson of Denmark.

Others, unclear position

* Jon jarl (possibly several ones)
* Guttorm jarl 1165-1174. Buried in Sorö, Denmark.
* Sigvard jarl



* cite book
title = Svitjods undergång och Sveriges födelse
author = Lindström, Fredrik; Lindström, Henrik
publisher = Albert Bonniers förlag
date = 2006
id = ISBN 91-0-010789-1
language = Swedish

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