Sigurd I of Norway


Sigurd I of Norway

:"Sigurd Jorsalfar" redirects here. For the orchestral suite by Edvard Grieg, see Sigurd Jorsalfar (Grieg)."

Sigurd I Magnusson (ca. 1090 - March 26, 1130), also known (in Norwegian) as Sigurd Jorsalfare (Old Norse "Sigurðr Jórsalafari", translation: "Sigurd the Crusader", literal translation: "Sigurd, the Jerusalem-farer") was king of Norway from 1103 to 1130. He initially shared the throne with his brothers Øystein and Olav, but ruled alone from 1123.

In 1098 Sigurd accompanied his father, King Magnus III, on his expedition to the Orkney Islands, Hebrides and Irish Sea. He was made King of Orkney the same year, following the removal of the incumbent jarls of Orkney, Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson. He was also, apparently, made King of Mann and the Isles in that year, following the overthrow of their king by Magnus.

It is not certain whether Sigurd returned with Magnus to Norway after the 1098 expedition; however, it is known that he was in Orkney when Magnus returned west in 1102. A marriage alliance was negotiated between Magnus and Muircheartach Ua Briain, the leading king in Ireland at the time and ruler of Dublin. Sigurd was to marry Muirchertach's daughter. However, when Magnus was killed in Ulaid in 1103, the 14-year-old Sigurd returned to Norway, leaving his child-bride behind, and became king together with his brothers Øystein and Olav.

In 1107, Sigurd led a Norwegian contingent in support of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was the first European king to go on crusade, and his crusader feats earned him the nickname "Jorsalafari" ("Jerusalem-farer"). He fought in Lisbon, various Mediterranean islands and Palestine, and visited king Roger II of Sicily in Palermo, Jerusalem ("Jorsalaland") and Constantinople ("Miklagard"). He joined forces with Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem to capture the coastal city of Sidon in 1110.

After returning to Norway in 1111, Sigurd made his capital in Konghelle (Kungälv in present-day Sweden) and built a castle there, where he kept a relic given to him by King Baldwin, a splinter reputed to be from the True Cross. In 1123 Sigurd once again set out to fight in the name of the church, this time to Småland in Sweden, where the inhabitants had renounced their Christian faith and were again worshipping their former gods.

During Sigurd's reign, the tithe (a 10% tax to benefit the church) was introduced in Norway. Sigurd also founded the diocese of Stavanger because he was denied divorce by the bishop in Bergen, so he simply installed another bishop further south.

Sigurd died in 1130 and was buried in the Hallvardskirken church in Oslo. Sigurd and his queen Malmfred (a daughter of Grand Prince Mstislav I of Kiev and granddaughter of king Inge I of Sweden) had a daughter, Kristin Sigurddatter, but no legitimate sons. This led to a power struggle following Sigurd's death between various illegitimate sons and other royal pretenders, which escalated into a lengthy civil war.

During this civil war era in Norway, which lasted from 1130 until 1240, there were several interlocked conflicts of varying scale and intensity. The background for these conflicts were the unclear Norwegian succession laws, social conditions and struggles between various groups of noblemen fighting for power. There were two main parties, the "Bagler" and "Birkebeiner". The rallying point regularly was a royal son, or a person claimed by his followers to be a royal son, who was set up as the head figure of the party in question, to oppose the rule of a king from the contesting party. In the traditions of succession of the day there was little no difference between a legitimate and an illegitimate son of a king; the competence and popularity of the potential heir was supposed to be the deciding factor. This laid the ground-work for long feuds over who should rule the kingdom of Norway in the 12th century and early 13th century.

Around 1225, Snorri Sturluson recorded the saga of Sigurd and his brothers in the "Heimskringla". In the 19th century, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson wrote an historical drama based on the life of the king, with incidental music composed by Edvard Grieg.

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ee also

* List of Norwegian monarchs

External links

* [http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Heimskringla/crusaders.html "Saga of Sigurd the Crusader and his brothers"] from the "Heimskringla" (English translation)


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