Journal Mediaeval Scandinavia , vol. Supplement

The Political Thought of The King's Mirror

Sverre Bagge

  • Pages: 253 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:1987

Not Available
  • ISBN: 978-87-7492-596-5
  • Hardback
  • Not Available


The King's Mirror is the outstanding literary monument of thirteenth-century Norway. It is presented as a dialogue between a father and his son. The son wants his father's help and advice to live a good life, and more generally, he wants to know how people belonging to different layers of society should live, both in a moral and in a more practical sense. The dialogue starts with the merchant, goes on to the hirðmaðr (i.e. the man in the king's service), and ends with the king himself.

The author examines this text not as medieval political thought as a stage in the history of ideas but in its connection with practical politics, especially in relationship to the development of society. The King's Mirror was written in Norway, on the periphery of Western Christendom, and a country whose contribution to political thought has not received much attention. This study attempts to cut across the traditional borderline between the Nordic countries and the rest of Western Christendom, both in examining The King's Mirror as part of a common European tradition and in using the work to illuminate European political thought in a comparatively little known period, from the end of the Investiture Contest in the early twelfth century to the revival of Aristotelian studies in the later thirteenth century.

The book was originally published by Odense University Press in 1987 but all the remaining stock has now been taken over by Brepols.