The National Law Anniversary

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

In 1274, King Magnus VI Håkonsson gathered the entire Norwegian kingdom under one law. The drafting of the national law is considered a 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
Landslovjubileet logo fra Nasjonalbiblioteket.


In 1291, the archbishop Gjørund of Nidaros sends out a letter in which he mentions the crimes Bjarne Erlingsson has committed against the church, including the revocation of the right to coin, disagreement over tithes, and not least the declaration that the Vágaboka was invalid. The letter is a content-rich starting point for creating a northern commemoration of the National Act in the anniversary year 2024.

The letter tells of several specific details, both the consequences of the introduction of the national law in the north as well, and the reaction and conflicts that arose between different groups after Magnus Lagabøte died in 1280. During his reign, the church had also won with several radical demands, which various noble interests wanted to refute.

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, the Vágaboka was declared invalid, and replaced with Magnus Lagabøte’s national law.

Gammelt brev
The letter from arch bishop Gjørund


At Museum Nord, we are now working together in an exhibition group that develops 4 exhibitions for our museums with the Lagabøte anniversary and the National Act as the overall 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 explore several ways to tell about the national law and connect it to a local context. For example, what was the smell of the 1200s like? And what did people eat?

The exhibitions will be launched in the spring and summer of 2024, and activities for schools and lectures are planned throughout the autumn and winter at several of the museums.

Visit the exhibitions:

Bø Museum

Experience the history of Bø through objects and exhibitions, coastal culture and the authorship of Regine Normann, boathouse and rorbu. Fairytale forest for children. Artscape Nordland and outdoor gallery nearby. Museum gift shop. The man from the sea and the open-air gallery. Museum shop.

Narvik Museum

The spectacular Ofotbanen railway and iron ore trains, Narvik city’s development and industry in addition to travelling exhibits.

Read more about the middle ages

Magnus Lagabøte

King Magnus 6. Håkonsson, later Lagabøte, was king of Norway in the Middle Ages, and was the king behind the Land Act of 1274.

The National Law of 1274

The National Law is a law book that applied to the whole country, just as Norway’s laws do today. It rested on a long and solid legal tradition, in which the thing was central.

The Vágabok

In the year 1282, an outcry is heard in Vágar. Baron Bjarne Erlingsson of Giske has just stood at the thing at Brurberget and said that the Vágabok must be taken out of use. Now it is the National Law that applies.

The wedding in Lofoten in the Middle Ages

The wedding in Lofoten in the Middle Ages – Read about the dowry Ingebjørg brought with her into her marriage to Torleiv in 1335