Heimskringla (1220)

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Composed around 1220, the Heimskringla (The orb of the world) is a collection of the early sagas of the first kings of Norway written down by the medieval scholar Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241). Sturluson was a powerful Icelandic chief who developed a profound respect for the Nordic past and most things Norwegian. The Heimskringla presents the German mythical god, Odin, as an actual historical figure and the first Norse king. Sturluson traced the history of sixteen famous Nordic kings from this ancient figure through Halvdan the Black (ca. 839-ca. 860) and Magnus V Erlingsson (r. 1162-1184).

Of particular interest to Sturluson was the life of King Olaf II (r. 1016-1029), who was later canonized as Saint Olaf. Olaf began his life as a Viking warrior and later converted to Christianity. Unlike the attempts of previous missionaries to bring Christianity to Norway, Olaf's efforts succeeded. Although his measures were harsh, Olaf's reign was generally remarkable for its peace and stability during the chaotic Middle Ages. The perception of Saint Olaf as a brave warrior, wise king, and pious Christian martyr made him an ideal character for Sturluson's work. He was the embodiment of all that Sturluson saw as good in Norway and lacking in Iceland (stability and wise rule). During his lifetime, Sturluson promoted efforts to impose order on Iceland through Norwegian conquest and other means.


Sturluson, Snorri. The Heimskringla or the Sagas of the Norse Kings. 4 vols. Translated by Samuel Laing. Revised by Rasmus B. Anderson. London: John C. Nimmo, 1889.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Heimskringla. 4 vols. Translated by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1893.

Morris, William, trans. Song of the Nibelungs and the Volsungs. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1949.

Sturluson, Snorri. Heimskringla or Lives of the Norse Kings. Translated by A. H. Smith. Edited by Erling Monsen. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, Ltd, 1932.

Cobb, John Storer, trans. The Nibelungenlied. Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1906.

Morris, William Nanson, trans. The Nibelungenlied. New York: Colonial Press, 1903.

Sturluson, Snorri. Njals' Saga. Translated by Carl Bayerschmidt and Lee M. Hollander. London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1979.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturlusson. Translated by Jean I. Yonng. Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1954.

Morris, William and Eirikr Magnusson, trans. The Story of the Ere Dwellers with the Story of the Heathslayings. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1892.

Morris, William and Eirikr Magnusson, trans. The Story of Howard the Halt, The Story of the Banded Men, The Story of Hen Thorir. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1891.

Morris, William Nanson, trans. Volsunga Saga: The Story of the Volsungs and Nibelungs. London: The Walter Scott Publishing Company, Ltd., 1888.


The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.

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