Saturday, April 6, 2019

New Biography: The Life Of St. Magnus And His Supernatural Revenge

Around 1098, the Norwegian crown placed Orkney under direct royal control, but Hakon Paulsson, the son of a formal jarl of the region, was appointed to govern Orkney within a year or two after Sigurd the Crusader became king of Norway in 1103. Jarl Hakon Paulsson was portrayed as a willing retainer of the Norwegian kings in the Orkneyinga saga. Yet, Hakon had a cousin called Magnus Erlendsson who was less enthusiastic about being ordered around. Instead of behaving like Hakon Paulsson and serving his Norwegian liege, Magnus Erlendsson fled to Scotland and found shelter with King Edgar (r. 1097-1107). Magnus’ stay in Scotland, however, was only temporary and he decided to return home not long after Jarl Hakon Paulsson was appointed as jarl of Orkney.
Like Hakon, Magnus Erlendsson’s father was also a former jarl of the islands and he intended to press his claim. Multiple jarls coexisting in Orkney was nothing new—according to the Orkneyinga saga, the practice of dividing the governance of Orkney into halves and thirds was at least a century old by that time. When Magnus Erlendsson arrived in Orkney, he had powerful friends that flocked to back his claim, and the island population seemed accepting to the idea of a second jarl. Hakon Paulsson was undoubtedly less than enthusiastic about sharing power with his cousin, but he was convinced to accept the Norwegian crown’s decision on whether Magnus Erlendsson should become a jarl. The claimant sailed to Norway around 1107 and, to Hakon’s disappointment, Magnus Erlendsson was recognized as a rightful jarl of Orkney.
Continue reading about the life, martyrdom and supernatural revenge of St. Magnus, HERE.

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