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Between History and MythStories of Harald Fairhair and the Founding of the State$
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Bruce Lincoln

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226140926

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226141084.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Between History and Myth

Bruce Lincoln

University of Chicago Press

This book explores how a state’s foundation story blurs the distinction between history and myth by focusing on the stories of Harald Fairhair, who ruled as king of a unified Norway from the mid-870s. It examines how Harald established a modern state by consolidating monarchic power and unifying the Norwegian nation. More specifically, it looks at different accounts of Harald’s state-founding activities, and how he represents the fulfillment of the political process that gives rise to the royal state. It also analyzes Heimskringla, a collection of medieval literature written about 1230–1235 and often attributed to Snorri Sturluson (1178–1241), and how it regards Harald Fairhair and everything he represents. This book highlights the complexity of the story of Harald, his oath, his faith, his kingship, and his state.

Keywords:   state, foundation, history, myth, Harald Fairhair, Norway, Heimskringla, Snorri Sturluson, kingship, faith

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