Since the Age of Settlement, to serve in the retinues of Norwegian kings and earls conferred prestige in Iceland. After Iceland became a tributary land to the Norwegian king in 1262–64, the king’s officials and other liegemen in Iceland had close relations to Bergen, the court and the king’s senior officials there throughout the thirteenth century. Office, liegeman status and high rank gave access to court, and allowed the king’s representatives in Iceland to nurse professional and personal ties to some of the realm’s most influential men. In line with Hirðskrá and Konungs skuggsjá’s descriptions and advice of how to profit from status and closeness to the king, high rank and access to court gave Icelanders the possibility to influence political developments, build careers in Norway, and the ability to assist other Icelanders who had run into trouble with the crown. High rank and life at court tied the king’s officials and other representatives in Iceland together in a social network that had more than the ability to qualify for offices and lucrative positions.
In the years 1262 to 1264, Iceland became a skattland (tributary land) under the king of Norway, and in 1271 and 1281 respectively, the country received two new law books, Járnsíða and Jónsbók, which introduced a new administrative system, based on a Norwegian model. The transformation from chiefdoms to kingdom happened swiftly, and by 1300 the main features of the new system had taken form, providing the basis for a model that would last for centuries. When Icelanders became the subject of the Norwegian kings, the hreppr (rural municipality) was the most important unit in Icelandic society. By including it in the administrative system, all householders in the country were made jointly responsible for running local public life. For the king and his administration, to co-operate with the hreppr was vital, and by giving householders responsibility for many public tasks, it not only became easier to administrate the country, but it also created peace in local communities. The importance of the hreppr can clearly been seen in that Jónsbók converted hreppsfundir to assemblies, and thus included it in the new administrative system. This close co-operation and the strong reciprocal ties between the king and his subjects were in accordance with the situation in Norway.
Skule Bårdsson is one of the most controversial individuals in Norwegian medieval history. Skule's struggle with his son-in-law Håkon Håkonsson for the Norwegian throne ended with the assassination of Skule in 1240. In 1225, Skule sealed a donation letter in favor of Nidaros Cathedral and the clergy attached to it. He gave up landed property in return for the canons celebrating his anniversarium after his death. The diploma is both typical and unique, the latter mostly because relatively few Norwegian documents from this early age are preserved with the seals intact. In this article, various aspects of the diploma are treated, physical as well as diplomatic and paleographic features. The language reveals that it was penned by a local writer from Trøndelag. Skule's seal, which is in poor condition, is an object of special interest. It turns out that Nicholas of Husaby used the same stamp when he sealed a diploma in 1301. This imprint is better preserved and enables a reconstruction of the legend on the back side of Skule's seal, which has a standing lion in its centre. The article also touches upon the Norwegian tenure system and how it worked. As in a modern corporation, shares were sold. The individual owners could only claim a proportional part of the landskyld (annual rent), and could not point to a specific piece of land and say that that part was theirs.
During the summer of 2013, we inspected the three known funnel-shaped reindeer trapping systems in Hedmark County. This region also includes the southern part of the historic Sámi settlement areas. The funnel-shaped trapping systems are converging guiding fences, which end in a closed area where it is difficult for the reindeer to escape. These trapping systems are made for mass hunting. Systems that have been investigated in other parts of southern Norway have been dated from the Iron Age and the medieval period. However, written sources tell about use in historical time on the Varanger Peninsula, Finnmark County. While those constructions are considered to be of Sámi origin in the northern part of Norway, this is more debatable in the southern part. The similarities in these specific trapping systems in the different regions make it pertinent to investigate the origin of these traps in southern Norway.
This article analyzes the use of history in attempts to build the region Hardanger in Western Norway as a brand. The attempts carried out by the regional council, Hardangerrådet, is the main focus, although the use of history by other institutions in the region is analyzed as well. Two projects are analyzed: the establishment of «Trademark Hardanger» in 2005 and a regional project related to the Norwegian constitutional bicentenary in 2014. History was utilized in many contexts and in various ways in these projects. The objectives could be categorized as commercial, political and pedagogical as well as moral, depending on which purposes and in which contexts history was used.
A main argument in the article is that perspectives from research on the use of history are expedient, in order to analyze branding of geographical entities within their societal contexts. In such a sense, these perspectives also represent a supplement to critical literature on branding. For one thing, literature on the use of history provides us with instruments to analyze the historical culture in which the use and non-use of history is embedded.