World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jarl of Sweden

Article Id: WHEBN0005735141
Reproduction Date:

Title: Jarl of Sweden  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Birger Jarl, Ingrid Ylva
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Jarl of Sweden

In Sweden, members of medieval royal families, such as the House of Stenkil and House of Bjelbo, held the title of jarl before their accession to the throne. Since the early 12th century, there usually was only one holder of the title at a time, second only to the King of Sweden.

For special occasions, regional jarls outside of Sweden could be nominated as well. An example of this is Jon Jarl, who allegedly conducted pirate operations against Novgorod in the east. When the House of Bjelbo (alt. Bjälbo) succeeded in becoming the royal family in 1250, the title was subsumed into that of duke and the powers were merged into the kingship soon after Birger Jarl's death in 1266.


According to Procopius, the Heruli, after having raided the European continent for several generations, returned to Scandinavia in 512 as a result of military defeats. As their old territory was now occupied by the Danes, they settled next to the Geats in present-day Sweden. While the Proto-Norse word for this mysterious tribe, erilar, is etymologically near the title "jarl" and "earl" in other places, perhaps implying ' those who can read or dictate ' and it has often been suggested they introduced the runes in Scandinavia[1], no elaborate theory exist to explain how the word came to be used as a title. Arguably, their knowledge in interpreting runes also meant they were gifted in martial arts and, as they gradually integrated, eril or jarl instead came to signify the rank of a leader.[2] As described in the Icelandic sagas, such as Rígsthula,[3] a jarl was a sort of chieftain next in rank to the king in the function of Marshal or Duke of the King's Army. Under any circumstance, when jarls are finally mentioned in medieval documents, it clearly was a title signifying a leader ranked directly under the king.[2]

In Swedish history, Jarls are described as either local rulers or viceroys appointed by a king, ruling one of the historical Swedish provinces, such as Västergötland, Östergötland, or Svitjod. In Norway, the jarls apparently kept this role and the kings attempted to introduce one in each Fylke before the title was used exclusively on the Orkney Islands in the 14th century. In Sweden, however, by the mid-10th century the title was used exclusively by a single person and the local leaders were gradually being referred to as dux or duke. Before the title was finally discontinued in the mid-13th century, Swedish jarls were powerful men, such as Birger Brosa, Ulf Fase, and Birger Jarl (actual surname "Magnusson"), often the true rulers of the Swedish kingdom.[2]

Jarls of Sweden

From diverse families:

  • Jon Sverkersson, eldest son and heir of king Sverker I of Sweden
  • Karl Sverkersson, next son of king Sverker I - jarl in Gothenland
  • jarl Ragvald Henriksson, riksjarl during the brief reign of his brother Magnus (II)
  • Ulf Jarl, jarl in 1160s[4]
  • jarl Guttorm, in 1160s

From the House of Bjelbo:

Regional jarls

Jarls of Västergötland

From the House of Stenkil:

Jarls of Skåne

From the House of Munsö.

Jarls of Sula

Jarls of Normandy


In popular culture

  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the term Jarl is used for local lords, keeping in tune with Norse Mythology motifs.
  • In the historical role playing video game Mount&Blade: Warband, lords of Kingdom of Nords, a faction inspired by medieval Nordic cultures, are titled Jarls.



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.