Petty kingdoms of Norway

The petty kingdoms of Norway were the entities from which the later Kingdom of Norway was founded. Before the unification of Norway in 872 and during the period of fragmentation after King Harald Fairhair's death Norway was divided in several small kingdoms. Some could have been as small as a cluster of villages and others comprised several of today's counties.

By the time of the first historical records of Scandinavia, about the 8th century, a number of small political entities existed in Norway. The exact number is unknown, and would probably also fluctuate with time. It has been estimated that there were 9 petty realms in Western Norway during the early Viking age.[1] Archaeologist Bergljot Solberg on this basis estimates that there would have been at least 20 in the whole country.[2]

There are no written sources from this time to tell us the title used by these rulers, or the exact borders between their realms. The main written sources we have on this period, the kings' sagas, were not written until the 12th and 13th centuries. While they were in part based on skaldic poems, and possibly on oral tradition, their reliability as sources for detailed events of the Viking age continues to be debated among historians. The sagas, most notable of which is Heimskringla, often refer to the petty rulers as konungr, i.e. king, as in Agder, Alvheim, Hedmark, Hordaland, Nordmøre og Romsdal, Rogaland, Romerike, Sogn, Solør, Sunmmøre, Trøndelag, Vestfold (which at various times included several of the aforementioned) and Viken; however in Hålogaland the title was jarl (compare duke), later Ladejarl (from the rulers power base at Lade, in modern-day Trondheim). The rulers of all the areas might be called petty kings, herser, subkings, kings or jarls depending on the source. A number of small communities were gradually organised into larger regions in the 9th century, and in 872 King Harald Fairhair unified the realm and became its first supreme ruler. Many of the former kingdoms would later become jarldoms under the Norwegian high king and some would try to break free again.

Below follows an incomplete list of petty kingdoms of Norway and their known rulers. Most of the people mentioned in this list are legendary or semi-legendary. Some of the areas might have a contested status as petty kingdoms.

List of petty kingdoms and earldoms

Kingdom of Agder



  • Harald Agder-King (legendary)
  • Víkar (Harald Agder-king's son)
  • Harald Vikarson
  • Bjæring, possibly only a chief
  • Vigbrands fra Agder – c. 690
  • Herbrand Vigbrandsson
  • Kissa

Kings from 790–987

Kingdom of Fjordane

Might also be called Firda or Firdafylke.

Rulers: Olaf brother of Anund Yngling

Kingdom of Grenland

Kingdom of Gudbrandsdalen


Kingdom of Hadeland


Kingdom of Hardanger

Kingdom of Hedmark


Kingdom of Hordaland


  • Alrek Eiriksson early 600's
  • Hrolf or Bergi Svåsason
  • Solvi Hrolfson
  • Kaun Solvason
  • Eirik King of Hordaland late 800's

Earldom of Hålogaland


Kingdom of Land

Earldom of Lade


Kingdom of Namdalen

Earldom of Nordmøre

Kingdom of Oppland


Kingdom of Orkdalen


Kingdom of Ranrike


Kingdom of Raumarike


Kingdom of Ringerike


Kingdom of Rogaland


  • Gard
  • Rugalf Gardsson
  • Ogvald Rugalfsson mid 500's
  • Ingjald Ogvaldsson fl. c. 600
  • Jossur Ingjaldsson fl mid 600's
  • Hjor Jossurasson fl. 700's
  • Hjorleif Hjorsson the Fornicator fl. mid-late 700's
  • Halfur Hjorleifsson
  • Hjor Halfsson ? –c. 870s
  • Sulke ? –870
  • Geirmundur Hjorarsson

Kingdom of Romsdal


  • Raum the Old legendary
  • Jötunbjörn the Old son of Raum
  • Raum
  • Hrossbjörn
  • Orm Broken-shell
  • Knatti
  • Thórolf and Ketill Raum (in one version, Thórolf and Ketill Raum are sons of Orm).

Kingdom of Sogn

Kingdom of Solør


Earldom of Sunnmøre

Kingdom of Telemark

The status of Telemark as a kingdom has been contested by some historians.

Kingdom of Toten


Kingdom of Trøndelag


Kingdom of Vestfold


Kingdom of Vestmar


  • Dag the Noisy

Kingdom of Vingulmark

Vingulmark is the old name for the area which today makes up the counties of Østfold and Akershus, and included the site of Norway's capital, Oslo, which had not been founded at this time. Archaeologists have made finds of richly endowed burials in the area around the estuary of the river Glomma, at Onsøy, Rolvsøy and Tune, where the remains of a ship, the Tune ship, was found. This indicates that there was a center of power in this area.[6]

There are indications that at least the southern part of this area was under Danish rule in the late 9th century. In the account of Ottar, which was written down at the court of the English king Alfred the Great, Ottar says that when he sailed south from Skiringssal, he had Denmark on the port side for three days.


Kingdom of Viken


Kingdom of Voss


  • Skilfir
  • Skjöld
  • Eirík
  • Alrek
  • Eirík
  • Alrek
  • Víkar
  • Vatnar
  • Ímald and Eirík

See also


  1. Bjørn Ringstad, Vestlandets største gravminner. Et forsøk på lokalisering av forhistoriske maktsentra, (Bergen, 1986)
  2. Bergljot Solberg, Jernalderen i Norge, (Oslo, 2000)
  3. An article from BT on archaeological digs on Nordfjordeid (Norwegian) Retrieved 18 September 2007
  4. The History Files Retrieved 19 December 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Snorre: Norske Kongers Chronica, 1633 –
  6. Solberg 2000, p. 279

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