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Some of the major petty kingdoms of Norway about 860.
Some of the major petty kingdoms of Norway about 860.
Petty kingdoms of Norway c. 872
Petty kingdoms of Norway c. 872

The petty kingdoms of Norway(Bokmål:smårike) were the entities from which the later Kingdom of Norway was founded. Before the unification of Norway in 872 and during the period of fragmentation after King Harald Fairhair's death Norway was divided in several small kingdoms. Some could have been as small as a cluster of villages and others comprised several of today's counties.

By the time of the first historical records of Scandinavia, about the 8th century, a number of small political entities existed in Norway. The exact number is unknown, and would probably also fluctuate with time. It has been estimated that there were 9 petty realms in Western Norway during the early Viking Age.[1] Archaeologist Bergljot Solberg on this basis estimates that there would have been at least 20 in the whole country.[2]

There are no written sources from this time to tell us the title used by these rulers, or the exact borders between their realms. The main written sources we have on this period, the kings' sagas, were not written until the 12th and 13th centuries. While they were in part based on skaldic poems, and possibly on oral tradition, their reliability as sources for detailed events of the Viking Age continues to be debated among historians. The sagas, most notable of which is Heimskringla, often refer to the petty rulers as konungr, i.e. king, as in Agder, Alvheim, Hedmark, Hordaland, Nordmøre og Romsdal, Rogaland, Romerike, Sogn, Solør, Sunmmøre, Trøndelag, Vestfold (which at various times included several of the aforementioned) and Viken; however in Hålogaland the title was jarl (compared with Count in the Norse sources, as well as German Gräf), later Ladejarl (from the rulers power base at Lade, in modern-day Trondheim). The rulers of all the areas might be called petty kings, herser, subkings, kings or jarls depending on the source. A number of small communities were gradually organised into larger regions in the 9th century, and in AD 872 King Harald Fairhair unified the realm and became its first supreme ruler. Many of the former kingdoms would later become jarldoms under the Norwegian high king and some would try to break free again.

Below follows an incomplete list of petty kingdoms of Norway and their known rulers. Most of the people mentioned in this list are legendary or semi-legendary. Some of the areas might have a contested status as petty kingdoms.

List of petty kingdoms and earldoms

Kingdom of Agder

Rulers:

Legendary(From Gautreks saga)

Kings from 790 to 987

Kingdom of Fjordane

Might also be called Firda or Firdafylke.

Rulers: Olaf brother of Anund Yngling

Kingdom of Grenland

Main article: Grenland § Grenland, Grænafylket and Vestmar

Kingdom of Gudbrandsdalen

Rulers:

Kingdom of Hadeland

Rulers:

Kingdom of Hardanger

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2016)

Kingdom of Hedmark

Rulers:

Kingdom of Hordaland

Rulers:

Kingdom of Hålogaland

Rulers:

Kingdom of Land

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2016)

Earldom of Lade

Main article: Earls of Lade

Rulers:

Kingdom of Namdalen

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2016)

Earldom of Nordmøre

Main article: Jarls of Møre

Kingdom of Oppland

The kings of Oppland go to hold council.
The kings of Oppland go to hold council.

Rulers:

Kingdom of Orkdalen

Rulers:

Kingdom of Ranrike

Rulers:

Kingdom of Raumarike

Rulers:

Kingdom of Ringerike

Rulers:

Kingdom of Rogaland

Rulers:

Kingdom of Romsdal

Rulers:

Kingdom of Sogn

Rulers:

Kingdom of Solør

Rulers:

Earldom of Sunnmøre

Main article: Jarls of Møre

Kingdom of Telemark

The status of Telemark as a kingdom has been contested by some historians.

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2016)

rulers or figures:

Kingdom of Toten

Rulers:

Kingdom of Trøndelag

Rulers:

Kingdom of Vestfold

Rulers:

Kingdom of Vestmar

Rulers:

Kingdom of Vingulmark

Vingulmark is the old name for the area which today makes up the counties of Østfold and Akershus, and included the site of Norway's capital, Oslo, which had not been founded at this time. Archaeologists have made finds of richly endowed burials in the area around the estuary of the river Glomma, at Onsøy, Rolvsøy and Tune, where the remains of a ship, the Tune ship, was found. This indicates that there was a center of power in this area.[7]

There are indications that at least the southern part of this area was under Danish rule in the late 9th century. In the account of Ottar, which was written down at the court of the English king Alfred the Great, Ottar says that when he sailed south from Skiringssal, he had Denmark on the port side for three days.

Rulers:

Kingdom of Viken

Rulers:

Kingdom of Voss

Rulers:

See also

References

  1. ^ Bjørn Ringstad, Vestlandets største gravminner. Et forsøk på lokalisering av forhistoriske maktsentra, (Bergen, 1986)
  2. ^ Bergljot Solberg, Jernalderen i Norge, (Oslo, 2000)
  3. ^ a b Ættartolurbækur Jóns Espólíns Sysslumanns (1980-), Espólín, Jón, (Reykjavík: Samskipti, 1980-), FHL book 949.12 D2e v. 6; FHL microfilms 73,257-73., p. 42, FHL microfilm 73257.
  4. ^ An article from BT on archaeological digs on Nordfjordeid (Norwegian) Retrieved 18 September 2007
  5. ^ a b c "Kingdoms of Northern Europe - Norway (Norge)". The History Files. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Snorre: Norske Kongers Chronica, 1633 – archive.org
  7. ^ Solberg 2000, p. 279