In this book I have had old stories written down

So begins the Heimskringla or 'The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway' which is basically a work recounting the deeds of the various monarchs of Norway. It was originally written in Old Norse, around the year 1225 by the Icelandic historian and poet Snorri Sturluson, based on a variety of sources that were available to him. Some of which such as the Orkneyinga Saga have survived but others such as the Hryggjarstykki are now lost.

The popular name of Heimskringla (orb of the world) is derived from the opening words of the The Ynglinga Saga, Kringla heimsins, sú er mannifolkit byggvir - "the orb of the world, which mankind inhabits" - which continues with an account of a chief called Odin from the city of Asgaard, the great and very far-travelled warrior, who conquered many kingdoms and recounts the mythological origins of Norway in The Ynglinga Saga; continues with an account of the life of Halfdan the Black and a collection of further sagas, covering the period from around the year 850 when Harald Hårfagre first established himself as ruler of Norway, to the reign of Magnus V, Magnus Erlingson who died in 1177.

The extent to which the Heimskringla contains an accurate account of historical events remains a matter of debate, as Snorri Sturluson says in his own preface to the work;

although we cannot just say what truth there may be in these, yet we have the certainty that old and wise men held them to be true

Despite this, the Heimskringla remains an important original source of information on Viking culture and the history of both Norway and the Britain Isles; as large chunks of Britain ended being controlled by Norway between the ninth and fifteenth centuries.

The Heimskringla consists of the Preface of Snorri Sturluson followed by the following sagas:-

  1. The Ynglinga Saga
  2. Halfdan the Black Saga
  3. Harald Harfager's Saga
  4. Håkon the Good's Saga
  5. Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
  6. King Olaf Trygvason's Saga
  7. Saga of Olaf Haraldson (St. Olaf)
  8. Saga of Magnus the Good
  9. Saga of Harald Hardrade
  10. Saga of Olaf Kyrre
  11. Magnus Barefoot's Saga
  12. Saga of Sigurd the Crusader and His Brothers Eystein and Olaf
  13. Saga of Magnus the Blind and of Harald Gille
  14. Saga of Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, the Sons of Harald
  15. Saga of Hakon Herdebreid
  16. Magnus Erlingson's Saga


Some information taken from Magnus Magnusson, Vikings! (BCA, 1980)

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