Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson

Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson

Paul Thorfinnsson (died after 1098) and Erlend Thorfinnsson (died after 1098) were the sons of Thorfinn Sigurdsson and Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, and ruled as together as Earls of Orkney after the death of their father. Their lives and times are recounted in the "Orkneyinga Saga".

The first mention of the brothers is when they accompanied the Norwegian king Harald Hardrade and Tostig Godwinson on the ill-fated expedition to England in 1066. Paul and Erlend were with Harald's son Olaf Kyrre, guarding the ships, when the battle of Stamford Bridge was fought. Along with Olaf they were allowed to leave by the English king Harold Godwinson. Olaf overwintered on Orkney with them and left on good terms with the Thorfinssons.

The saga says that Paul and Erlend were on good terms until their children grew to adulthood, after which the disputes between their sons led to a quarrel and open hostility between the brothers. As the disputes between the descendants of Paul and Erlend loomed large in the affairs of 12th century Orkney, the saga goes into some detail on their family relationships.

Earl Paul was married to an unnamed daughter of Norwegian earl Hakon Ivarsson. Two sons and four daughters are named. Of these, Hakon played the greatest part in events. Paul's daughter Gunnhild's was marred to Kol Kalison and Rognvald Kali Kolsson was their son. Earl Erlend married Thora, daughter of one Sumarlidi Ospaksson, and they had two sons and two daughters, while Erlend had a third, illegitimate daughter as well. Erlend's son Magnus appears in the saga as earl, martyr and saint, but the troubles between the earls began with rivalry between Hakon Paulsson and Magnus's brother Erling. Both are described as quarrelsome, arrogant men, and talented too.


* Anon., "Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney", tr. Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Penguin, London, 1978. ISBN 0-14-044383-5
* Donaldson, Gordon, "A Northern Commonwealth: Scotland and Norway." Saltire Society, Edinburgh, 1990. ISBN 0-85411-044-5
* Sturluson, Snorri, "Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway", tr. Lee M. Hollander. Reprinted University of Texas Press, Austin, 1992. ISBN 0-292-73061-6

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