Erling Vidkunsson

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Erling Vidkunsson (1293–1355) was Lord High Justiciar of Norway, Lord of Bjarkoy and Giske and the Norwegian regent. Erling received the position of drottsete (High Justiciar) of the country and was probably the most important and wealthy Norwegian noble of his era.[1]

Erling Vidkunsson was born into a noble family of Bjarkøy which held lands principally in northern Norway. The ancestral seat was in Hålogaland, in the region of Tromsø. Erling Vidkunsson became the largest holder of noble estate in Norway. From his father, Vidkun Erlingsson, Erling inherited Bjarkøy and from his mother Gyrid Andresdottir, a descendant of the son of King Inge Stenkilsson of Sweden, he inherited land in Stodreim (Stårum, Stovrheim). He inherited Giske from his uncle Bjarne Erlingsson upon the death of that man's childless daughter Kristin who died young.

In 1319 Magnus IV of Sweden, a child three years old, succeeded to the Norwegian throne. A regency was set up for the young king, with Erling's regency extending from 1323-32. The regency-like system continued also because Magnus primarily resided not in Norway, but in neighboring Sweden. Magnus was acclaimed as hereditary king of Norway at Haugathing in Tønsberg in August 1319 under the Regency of his mother, Ingeborg Håkonsdotter. In February 1323, the Norwegian regency council rebelled against Queen Ingeborg. During the years 1323-31, Erling Vidkunsson led the Norwegian State Board of Royal Authority (norske riksstyret med kongelig myndighet) and held the title of drottsete until Magnus was declared to have come of age at 15.

By 1343, Norway desired to be more independent of Sweden. King Magnus agreed that his younger son, the future Haakon VI of Norway would be king of Norway. Although the young prince was nominally under regency of his father, Norway received a level of independence and the administration continued under Erling. Later when the young king was sent to Norway, Erling was to lead his education.[2]

Erling's only son Bjarne Erlingsson predeceased him. His inheritance was left to his daughters, of whom Ingeborg Erlingsdottir, who married Sigurd Havtoreson of Sudreim, received Giske. Gyrid Erlingsdottir married Eiliv Eilivsson of Naustdalsætten and Gjertrud Erlingsdottir who married Otte Rømer, received the Stårum land. Many of Norway's highest nobles for the next three centuries would be descended from him.

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