Historia de omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque regibus

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Frontispiece of the 1558 edition of the Historia, published in Basel.

The Historia de omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque regibus (The history of all Geatish and Swedish kings) is a posthumously published, partly pseudo-historical work by Johannes Magnus, Sweden's last Catholic Archbishop. It was published in Latin in 1554, ten years after the death of the author by his brother Olaus Magnus.[1]

The Historia was implicitly critical to King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, who had introduced the Protestant Reformation in 1527 and caused the exile of Johannes Magnus. It was nevertheless used widely by Gustav Vasa's sons and successors, to whom it had been dedicated, since it extolled the glorious past of the Swedish kingdom. In particular, the sons used the (partly fictitious) king-list which began with Magog, grandson of Noah. As a consequence, Eric XIV and Charles IX adopted much higher regnal numbers than warranted by the historical sources. A Swedish translation was published by Ericus Benedicti Schroderus in 1620. A modern Swedish version, translated by Kurt Johannesson and with comments by Johannesson and Hans Helander, was published in 2018 by Michaelisgillet and the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities[2].

Content[edit]

Book One[edit]

Noah sets up his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth to govern Asia, Africa, and Europe, respectively. Citing Flavius Josephus, Johannes says that a son of Japheth, Magog, is the father of the Scythian peoples (which Johannes identifies as the Goths and in turn the Geats), and at first rules over “that part of European Scythia now called Finland”. Eighty-eight years after the Deluge, however, Magog and a great number of people crosses the Baltic Sea and reaches Götaland on the Scandinavian peninsula, which he settles and makes his new seat of power, thus becoming the first King of Sweden. This assertion, Johannes explains, is supported by “our fatherland's most reliable chronicles”.

Of Magog's five sons, Suenno and Gethar are set up to rule over (and give their names to) the Swedes and Geats, respectively, while the younger brothers Thor, German, and Ubbo help administer their brother's domains. When Suenno dies around 246 years after the flood, Ubbo becomes ruler of the Swedes, and he builds the city of Uppsala to be his seat of power, its etymology being the Halls of Ubbo. Ubbo is succeeded by Siggo, who builds the city of Sigtuna by Lake Mälaren as a fortress against the Estonians, Finns, and “other peoples in the East”. Already by this point, the runic alphabet has been invented, which Johannes claims are older than both the Greek and Latin alphabets.

While Siggo rules over the Swedes, a man named Eric has been elected King of the Geats. Johannes describes Eric as a man who became renowned for his "good customs" and his "love for the Fatherland", and reproduces a song about the King which he claims dates back from the oldest of times, though latter-day scholars believe it more likely to be a composition of Johannes himself.[3] Already by this point, the Geatish population has grown to such an extent that the Scandinavian peninsula can no longer support them, and to solve this problem, Eric expells all rebels in his realm to isles in the west, where they become the Danes.

After Eric's death in around 425 years after the Deluge, the Golden Age quickly comes to an end, and the Scandinavian peoples soon are converted to paganism. The temple at Uppsala is constructed, “built in such grandeur that all in its walls, roofs, and pillars seemed to be shining of purest gold”. Drawing on Saxo Grammaticus, Johannes gives a brief description of the gods in Norse mythology, which he says are related to the gods of the Roman religion. Over the next four hundred years, the amicable relations between Swedes and Geats deteriorate, and Johannes mentions the kings Uddo, Alo, Odin, Charles, Björn, and Gethar as rulers, of whom he writes that no knowledge has survived, save their names.

Identifying as he does the Geats with the Goths, the author now starts drawing on the Getica of Jordanes, and declares that in around 836 years after the Deluge, Berig, a mythical king of the Goths from the aforementioned work, is unanimously elected king by both the Swedes and the Geats, reuniting the two peoples. Concerned about how Finns, Curonians, and Ulmerugians have been raiding Sweden, Berig rallies the people for a war of conquest against the tribes across the Baltic Sea to seek vengeance and to regain the national honour. Appointing his eldest son Humulphus to rule in his absence, Berig assembles a mighty fleet and sails to the isle called Gothiscandza by Jordanes, which Johannes identifies as Gotland. From thence, they proceed to invade the land of the Ulmerugians, which Johannes identifies as the territory which would later become Prussia. Though the Ulmerguians put up a brave fight, they eventually realize that their forces are inferior to those of the Geats, and so burn their homes and fields and flee into "inner Vandalia". Though the land now is desolate, the Geats nonetheless colonizes it, as well as the neighbouring provinces of Pomerania, Poland, and Mecklenburg.

Johannes goes on to invent a list of regents with six Erics before Eric the Victorious and six Charles before Charles VII. In that way the 16th-century monarchs Eric XIV and Charles IX could boast with ordinal numbers on par with the popes. These fictitious rulers were usually described in positive terms, but the invented King Gostagus (Ostanus, Östen III, number 90 in the list) is referred as a tyrant: "There was hardly a night throughout the year with him abstaining from fornication, rape, incest and the filthiest sexual intercourse". The account of Gostagus contains hateful hints about Gustav Vasa.[4] The strongly patriotic work also displays strong antipathy towards Denmark.[5]

List of Swedish monarchs appearing in the Historia[edit]

Woodcut by Petter Lorens Hoffbro from c:a 1750 illustrating many of the monarchs appearing in the Historia, as well as all subsequent monarchs from Gustav I up to Gustav III.
No. King Swedish name Accession
1 Magog Magog 2259 BC
2 Suenno Sven 2217 BC
3 Gethar Götar I 2161 BC
4 Ubbo Ubbe 2101 BC
5 Siggo Sigge I 2000 BC
6 Ericus Erik I 1990 BC
7 Uddo Udde 1921 BC
8 Alo Ale 1896 BC
9 Othen Odin 1866 BC
10 Carolus Karl I 1746 BC
11 Biorno Björn I 1695 BC
12 Gethar Götar II 1599 BC
13 Siggo Sigge II 1570 BC
14 Berico Berig 1511 BC
15 Humulphus Humulf 1471 BC
16 Humelus Humble 1367 BC
17 Gothilas Gothil 1292 BC
18 Sigthunius Sigtun 1246 BC
19 Scarinus Skarin 1213 BC
20 Sibdagerus Svipdag 1173 BC
21 Asmundus Asmund 1113 BC
22 Uffo Uffe 1065 BC
23 Hunigus Hunding 1021 BC
24 Regnerus Ragnar I 973 BC
25 Hothebrotus Hödbrodd 944 BC
26 Attilus Adils 879 BC
27 Hotherus Höder 830 BC
28 Rodericus Rörik 752 BC
29 Attilus Adils II 668 BC
30 Botuildus Botwild 638 BC
31 Carolus Karl II 596 BC
32 Grimerus Grim 548 BC
33 Tordo Tord I 508 BC
34 Gotharus Götar III 389 BC
35 Adulphus Adolf 315 BC
36 Algothus Algot 292 BC
37 Ericus Erik II 263 BC
38 Lindormus Lindorm 209 BC
39 Alaricus och

Gessillus

Alrik and

Gestiblinde

177 BC
40 Ericus Erik III 75 BC
41 Getricus Gautrekr 4 AD
42 Haldanus Halvdan I 42 AD
43 Vilmerus Filimer 70 AD
44 Nordianus Nordian 82 AD
45 Sivardus Sivar I 103 AD
46 Carolus Karl III 130 AD
47 Ericus Erik IV 169 AD
48 Haldanus Halvdan II 181 AD
49 Euginus Yngwin 194 AD
50 Ragnaldus Ragnvald 202 AD
51 Amunudus Amund I 220 AD
52 Hacho Hake 225 AD
53 Sivardus Sivar II 234 AD
54 Ingo Inge I 240 AD
55 Nearchus Njord 246 AD
56 Frotho Frode I 255 AD
57 Urbanus Urban I 257 AD
58 Ostenus Östen I 262 AD
59 Fliolmus Fjolner 265 AD
60 Svercherus Sveigder 273 AD
61 Valander Vanlandi 276 AD
62 Visbur Visbur 282 AD
63 Domalde Domalde 288 AD
64 Domar Domar 307 AD
65 Attilus Adils III 314 AD
66 Dignerus Dyggvi 336 AD
67 Dagerus Dag the Wise 341 AD
68 Alaricus Alrik II 356 AD
69 Ingemarus, Ingo Ingemar I, Agne 367 AD
70 Ingellus Yngve 378 AD
71 Germundus Jorund 382 AD
72 Haquinus, Ringo Aun, Ring 387 AD
73 Egillus Egil Tunnadolg 399 AD
74 Gotharus Ottar Vendelkråka 405 AD
75 Fatho Faste 421 AD
76 Gudmudus Gudmud 427 AD
77 Adelus Adils 433 AD
78 Ostanus Östen II 437 AD
79 Ingemarus Ingvar 453 AD
80 Holstanus Halsten 455 AD
81 Biorno Björn II 460 AD
82 Raualdus Ragnvald II 464 AD
83 Suartmanus Swartman 481 AD
84 Tordo Tord II 509 AD
85 Rodulphus Rodulf 519 AD
86 Hathinus Hading 527 AD
87 Attilus Adils IV 547 AD
88 Tordo Tord III 564 AD
89 Algothus Algot II 582 AD
90 Gostagus, Oftanus Göstag, Östen III 606 AD
91 Arthus Arte 630 AD
92 Haquinus Håkan 649 AD
93 Carolus Karl IV 670 AD
94 Carolus Karl V 676 AD
95 Birgerus Birger I 685 AD
96 Ericus Erik V 700 AD
97 Torillus Toril 717 AD
98 Biornus Björn III 764 AD
99 Alaricus Alrik III 776 AD
100 Biornus Björn IV 800 AD
101 Bratemundus Bröt-Anund 824 AD
102 Sivardus Sivar III 827 AD
103 Herotus Herröd 842 AD
104 Carolus Karl VI 859 AD
105 Biornus Björn V 868 AD
106 Ingevallus, Ingellus Ingjald Illråde 883 AD
107 Olaus Olof Trätälja 891 AD
108 Ingo Inge II 900 AD
109 Ericus Erik Väderhatt (VI) 907 AD
110 Ericus Victoriosus Erik Segersäll (VII) 917 AD
111 Ericus Aorfel, Stenchillus Erik Årsäll (VIII) 940 AD
112 Olaus Schotkonung Olof Skötkonung 980 AD
113 Amundus Anund Jacob 1018 AD
114 Amundus Emund the Old 1035 AD
115 Haquinus Håkan Röde 1041 AD
116 Stenchillus Stenkil 1054 AD
117 Ingo Inge I 1059 Ad
118 Halstanus Halsten 1064 AD
119 Philippus Philip 1080 Ad
120 Ingo Inge II 1110 AD
121 Ragualdus Ragnvald Knaphövde 1129 AD
122 Magnus Magnus the Strong 1134 AD
123 Suercherus Sverker I 1138 AD
124 Ericus Erik the Saint 1150 AD
125 Carolus Karl Sverkersson 1162 AD
126 Canutus Knut Eriksson 1168 AD
127 Suercherus Sverker I 1192 AD
128 Ericus Erik Knutsson 1208 AD
129 Ioannes Johan Sverkersson 1219 AD
130 Ericus Erik Eriksson läspe och halte 1223 AD
131 Valdemarus Valdemar Birgersson 1251 AD
132 Magnus Ladalos Magnus Ladulås 1277 AD
133 Birgerus Birger Magnusson 1290 AD
134 Magnus Magnus Eriksson 1319 AD
135 Albertus Albrekt of Mecklenburg 1363 AD
136 Margareta Margrethe I 1395 AD
137 Ericus Pomeranus Erik of Pomerania 1412 AD
138 Christophorus Christopher of Bavaria 1441 AD
139 Carolus Canuti Karl Knutsson Bonde 1448 AD
140 Steno Sture senior Sten Sture the Elder 1470 AD
141 Svanto Svante Sture 1504 AD
142 Steno Sture junior Sten Sture the Younger 1512 AD
143 Gostavus Gustav Vasa 1520 AD

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dick Harrison & Bo Eriksson, Sveriges historia 1350-1600. Stockholm: Norstedts, 2010, p. 310.
  2. ^ https://litteraturbanken.se/forfattare/JohannesMagnus/titlar/GoternasOchSvearnas/sida/I/faksimil
  3. ^ Richard Steffen (1929). "Reformationstidevarvet". Svenska Litteraturens Historia. p. 191.
  4. ^ Dick Harrison & Bo Eriksson, Sveriges historia 1350-1600. Stockholm: Norstedts, 2010, pp. 310-1
  5. ^ V. Söderberg, "Johannes Magnus", Nordisk Familjebok, 2nd Edition, pp. 39-40, http://runeberg.org/nfbm/0036.html

Sources[edit]