The Early Kings of Norway: Also an Essay on the Portraits of John Knox

By Thomas Carlyle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV.
SVERRIR AND DESCENDANTS, TO HAKON THE OLD.

THE end of it was, or rather the first abatement and beginning of the end, That, when all this had gone on ever worsening for some forty years or so, one Sverrir ( A.D. 1177), at the head of an armed mob of poor people called Birkebeins, came upon the scene. A strange enough figure in History, this Sverrir and his Birkebeins! At first a mere mockery and dismal laughing-stock to the enlightened Norway public. Nevertheless, by unheard of fighting, hungering, exertion, and endurance, Sverrir, after ten years of such a death-wrestle against men and things, got himself accepted as King; and by wonderful expenditure of ingenuity, common cunning, unctuous Parliamentary Eloquence or almost Popular Preaching, and (it must be owned) general human faculty and valour (or value) in the overclouded and distorted state, did victoriously continue such. And founded a New Dynasty in Norway, which ended only with Norway's separate existence, after near three hundred years.

This Sverrir called himself a Son of Harald WryMouth; but was in reality the son of a poor Comb-

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