Lagabøte exhibitions

29 February 2024

This year we celebrate the 750th anniversary of Magnus Lagabøte’s national law. Together with professor and historian from Nord University and UiT The Arctic University of Norway, we are working to develop Lagabøte exhibitions at several of our museums.

In 1274, King Magnus VI Håkonsson united the entire Norwegian kingdom under one law. The drafting of the Land Act is considered groundbreaking political and legal work. After Magnus died, he was nicknamed Lagabøte – the law improver.

The National Library is the national coordinator for the National Law Jubilee, and has put together an eventful program for 2024.

logo lagabøtejubileet
Jubilee logo from the National Library.

Local connection in the north

In 1291, the Archbishop of Nidaros sends out a letter in which he describes the crimes Bjarne Erlingsson has committed against the church, including revocation of the right to coin, disagreement about tithes, and not least the declaration that the Vága Book was invalid. The letter is a rich starting point for making a northern commemoration of the Land Act in the anniversary year 2024.

The letter tells about several concrete details, both the consequences of the introduction of the national law also in the north, and the reaction and conflicts that came between different groups after Magnus Lagabøte died in 1280. During his reign, the church had also prevailed with several radical demands, which various megalomaniac interests would show back.

The original of the letter can be found in the National Archives.

Vágaboka was a law book that was in use in the north, but it is unknown whether the law book applied to Vågan or also included Hålogaland. At Brudaberget in 1282, Vágaboka was declared invalid, and replaced with Magnus Lagabøte’s national law.

Four exhibitions

In Museum Nord we are now working together in an exhibition group that develops 4 exhibitions for our museums with the Laga Fines Jubilee and the National Act as the overarching theme.

With us on the team we have Sigrun Høgetveit Berg, professor of ancient history at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and Miriam Jensen Tveit, associate professor at Nord University.

We are exploring several ways to tell about the land law and connect it to a local context. For example, how was the smell of the 1200s, and children and women in the Middle Ages – how did they live.

The Lagabøte exhibitions are scheduled to be launched this summer, and there will be activities for schools and lectures throughout the autumn. Stay tuned!

Read more about Vágar

Vágar, middle age town and an urban fishing village in Lofoten

Manuscript for Nordland County Encyclopedia and Håløygminne April 2022 by Reidar Bertelsen.

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