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To kongar, to dronningar og eit nonnekloster i Bergen

f. 1972, PhD, forskar ved Universitetet i Bergen.

Nonneseter kloster i Bergen var Noregs største og rikaste kvinnekloster, men mykje er uklart kring grunnlegginga av klosteret. Nyare forsking har synt at klosteret høyrde til benediktinarordenen, ikkje cisterciensarordenen. Dateringa er mest sannsynleg 1120-talet heller enn 1140-talet. Med denne nye kunnskapen er det verd å diskutere på nytt opplysingane om at Nonneseter var stifta av «fremfarne Konger og Dronninger». Denne artikkelen diskuterer nærare kor vidt kongsbrørne Øystein (d. 1123) og Sigurd (d. 1130) og dronningane deira, Ingebjørg og Malmfrid, kan ha hatt grunnar for å grunnleggje eit kvinnekloster ved byen Bergen, og om det er sannsynleg at eit av desse kongepara, eller begge, har stått som stiftarar av Nonneseter.

Two kings, two queens and St. Mary’s convent in Bergen

St. Mary’s convent (Nonneseter) in Bergen was once Norway’s largest and wealthiest monastic community for women. Although much is still unclear regarding its history, research undertaken in the past few years proves that Nonneseter was not Cistercian, as formerly believed, but Benedictine. Up until now, 1146 was set as a terminus post quem for its foundation, because it is known from other sources that the Cistercian house Lyse, founded in 1146, was Norway’s first Cistercian monastery. Now that we know Nonneseter was not Cistercian, it is worth taking a closer look at both its foundation and its founders. On stylistic and material grounds, the date of the remaining base of Nonneseter’s bell tower can be estimated to the 1120s. The tower fits with a stage in the building programme started by King Øystein in ca. 1110, but rather than seen as part of a complex prior to the women’s convent, it is more likely that Nonneseter itself dates back to the 1120s. In a royal letter from 1528 it is claimed that Nonneseter was founded by kings and queens. In the past, it was seen as more likely, however, that Bishop Sigurd, the founder of Lyse, founded Nonneseter. Still, the 1528 statement is supported by the fact that the grounds and several properties of Nonneseter must have been royal donations. And now that it is clear Nonneseter was Benedictine and older than formerly believed, there cannot now be any reason for assuming that Bishop Sigurd founded it. It would be more natural to look at the kings and queens of the 1120s: brothers and co-rulers King Øystein (d. 1123) with Queen Ingebjørg, and King Sigurd (d. 1130) with Queen Malmfrid. Not only did they have good reason to found a convent, but the two kings are also described elsewhere as monastic founders.

Keywords: Monastic, St. Mary’s convent, Bergen, King Sigurd, King Øystein.
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