Knut Helle, who died in June, 2015, was Norway’s foremost medieval historian and was the most active editor and author of books on the medieval history of Norway in the past forty years. He wrote standard authoritative studies of the political, urban and legal history of the formative period when Norway was developing from a domain of Viking sea chieftains into a medieval state. One of his early books was entitled Norge Blir en Stat
(‘Norway becomes a State’)(1965), a profoundly influential study of the kingdom from 1130 to 1319. In the latter year the direct line of male heirs to the kingdom died out, and Norway entered a period of political uncertainty, subject to increasing influence from the neighbouring kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden which led eventually to the uniting of the three kingdoms under one dynasty, and the loss of Norway’s independence as a political entity. Helle’s main research focus was on the history of Norway prior to that loss of independence.
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