Historia Norwegiæ

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Historia Norwegiæ is a short history of Norway written in Latin by an anonymous monk.[1] The only extant manuscript is in the private possession of the Earl of Dalhousie, and is now kept in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.[2] The manuscript contains several other texts; the Historia itself is in folios 1r-12r. Recent dating efforts place it somewhere c. 1500-1510A.[3]

The original text was written several centuries earlier than the manuscript itself; the text refers to both a volcanic eruption and an earthquake in 1211 as contemporary events,[4] and Orkney is stated to be under Norwegian rule.


Historia Norwegiæ consists of three parts:

  • I. A short geographical survey of Norway and its dominions, followed by a brief history of Norway
  • II. Genealogy of the Earls of Orkney
  • III. Catalogue of the Kings of Norway


One of Historia Norwegiæ's important features is a Latin translation of an independent version of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir's skaldic poem Ynglingatal. Besides that text, there is the Ynglinga saga in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla. The text also contains ethnographic details, including a description of a shamanic séance among the Sami people. It is the earliest preserved written source for many of its historical details.


Along with Ágrip af Nóregskonungasögum and the work of Theodoricus monachus, Historia Norwegiæ is considered one of the Norwegian synoptic histories, and is thought to have been written, at the earliest, sometime between 1160 and 1175AD. This dating, however, is under debate and 1220AD may be more accurate. The text may have been composed somewhere in eastern Norway.

The manuscript was published by Peter Andreas Munch in 1850 as Symbolæ ad Historiam Antiquiorem Rerum Norwegicarum. The standard edition was that of Storm (1880) for many years, and the first English translation was done by Kunin and Phelpstead (2001). A new critical edition and translation appeared in 2003.[5]


  1. ^ Jackson, Tatjana N. (2021), Symes, Carol (ed.), "The Far North in the Eyes of Adam of Bremen and the Anonymous Author of the Historia Norwegie", The Global North: Spaces, Connections, and Networks before 1600, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 77–90, ISBN 978-1-64189-490-6
  2. ^ Cornell University. Libraries (1910). Islandica. Cornell University Library. p. 31. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ Phelpstead 2001, p. x.
  4. ^ Holman, K. (2003). Historical Dictionary of the Vikings. G – Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-4859-7. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Historia Norvegiæ". Tyrmistynyt.


  • Ekrem, Inger (editor), Lars Boje Mortensen (editor) and Peter Fisher (translator) (2003). Historia Norwegie. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 87-7289-813-5
  • Phelpstead, Carl, ed. (2001). A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláf. Translated by Kunin, Debra (translator). London: Viking Society for Northern Research, University College London. {{cite book}}: |translator-first1= has generic name (help)
  • Storia della Norvegia. Historia Norwegie (XII sec.), Italian transl. with parallel Latin text, ed. Piero Bugiani, Vocifuoriscena, Viterbo 2017.
  • Storm, Gustav (editor) (1880). Monumenta historica Norwegiæ: Latinske kildeskrifter til Norges historie i middelalderen, Monumenta Historica Norwegiae (Kristiania: Brøgger)
  • Nordisk familjebok [1]
  • Notes and Queries, Issue 56

External links[edit]