This chapter examines Heimskringla, a collection of medieval works written about 1230–1235 and often attributed to Snorri Sturluson (1178–1241), with particular reference to its occasional incoherence and extraordinary intricacies. Heimskringla is about the kings of Norway, composed in Iceland at a time when Hákon Hákonarson (r. 1217–1263) was seeking to assume control over the Icelandic commonwealth. The chapter first considers Snorri’s situation to get a glimpse of Norwegian-Icelandic relations at that historic moment. It then discusses Heimskringla’s relation to Snorri’s situation and interests, first by looking at the text’s intertextual relations, its recycling of older materials, and the conventions of medieval historiography that put more premium on fidelity and inclusiveness as regards tradition than originality or a strong authorial perspective. It also explores the historical and political context in which Heimskringla was compiled, the split nature of its audience, and the status of international relations.
Keywords: kings, Heimskringla, Snorri Sturluson, Iceland, Hákon Hákonarson, Norway, intertextual relations, historiography, international relations