List of legendary kings of Sweden

The legendary kings of Sweden are the Swedish mythological kings who preceded Eric the Victorious, according to sources such as the Norse Sagas, Beowulf, Rimbert, Adam of Bremen and Saxo Grammaticus, but who are of disputed historicity because the sources are more or less unreliable, and sometimes contradictory. They are called sagokonungar or sagokungar in Swedish, meaning "Saga kings" according to the etymology given by SAOB.

In sources such as Heimskringla and Ynglinga saga there appear early Swedish kings who belong in the domain of mythology. From about the 6th century, these kings are gradually succeeded by semi-legendary kings with at least partial claim to historicity, who were all depicted as descendents of the House of Ynglings/Scylfings, either in direct royal line, or through the House of Ragnar Lodbrok and the house of Skjöldung (Scylding).

A historical basis of some of the mythological kings was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeo-anthropological theories, as in The Search for Odin. Such suggestions are generally considered speculative, not scientific, but while there is no historiographical tradition that would confirm the historicity of Swedish kings prior to the 6th century, it is safe to assume that the Suiones, as a tribe mentioned by Tacitus in the 1st century AD, did have kings (Common Germanic *kuningaz) during the prehistoric period.

House of Ynglings/Scylfings

The list is mainly based on the Ynglinga saga, in turn based on the Ynglingatal. In addition, Snorri uses a king Gylfe in his prologue to his Edda.

The genealogy is traced to Odin himself (as are the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies). Odin is euhemerised as an Asian noble with a genealogy going back to the Trojans. King Fjölnir, the 4th generation after Odin, in the Grottisongr is named a contemporary of Caesar Augustus, placing him late in the 1st century BC. The kings following Fjölnir based on internal chronology would then span the 1st to 7th centuries AD.[1] The later Yngling kings of the Vendel Period (6th to 7th century) may well correspond to historical rulers, even if biographical detail from the Heimskringla has to be considered legendary; the kings Egil, Ottar and Ale are also attested in Beowulf. After Ingjald, Snorri does not relate any further stories of Swedish kings, and follows the descendants of the house to Norway.

House of Ivar Vidfamne

These are kings who succeeded the Yngling dynasty and who were part of the legends of Harald Hildetand and Ragnar Lodbrok. Björn Ironside is considered to be the founder of the next dynasty. According to the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, Sigurd Ring belonged to the Ynglings and he was the son of Ingjald. The sagas, on the other hand, give his father as Randver, variously the son of Ráðbarðr, King of Garðaríki, or of Valdar, Viceroy of Denmark, or of Hrœrekr Ringslinger, King of Denmark and Zealand.

House of Munsö (8th to 10th centuries)

Main article: House of Munsö

The sources for the period are conflicting, and the kings named in the only contemporary account, Rimbert's Vita Ansgari, do not appear in any Scandinavian sources. Suggestions for explanations of the inconsistencies have been to stipulate a tradition of co-rulership where two brothers were elected kings at the same time. The sources only seem to mention the details when there was civil war (Björn at Hauge and Anund Uppsale) or problems of succession (Eric the Victorious, Olof (II) Björnsson and Styrbjörn Starke).

The line of Swedish kings is continued in List of Swedish monarchs.

Gesta Danorum

Certain kings of Sweden appear in the Danish Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus. Of these, some (for example Athisl/Adils, Hunding/Fjölnir, Halfdan, Sigurd Ring, Ragnar Lodbrok and Erik and Alrik) are based on the same traditions as the West Norse Ynglingatal, Ynglinga saga and Historia Norwegiae. Moreover, the dynasties are the same, i.e. the descendants of the god Frey (i.e. the Ynglings) and intermediary Skjöldungs.

However, there are many differences. These differences are not only due to a considerable distance in time from the kings they describe and to the traditions being kept in different parts of Scandinavia. Whereas Ynglingatal glorifies the Norwegian kings by their Swedish origins, Saxo's Swedish kings are there to glorify the Danes by being dominated by them, the task of which might have needed some fictional creativity from Saxo's side and/or Danish bias and tradition. On the other hand, in some sources the Ynglings did not solely rule Norway after ruling Sweden and so describes kings following Ingjald as kings of Sweden and Norway Ynglings as well as Norway.

This list is incomplete:

See also


  1. The date of Eadgils is inferred from the date of Hygelac's raid on Frisia (c. 516) For more information see e.g. Birger Nerman's Det svenska rikets uppkomst, Elisabeth Klingmark's Gamla Uppsala, Svenska kulturminnen 59, Riksantikvarieämbetet (2013), Lars Ulwencreutz, The Royal Families in Europe vol. 5 (2013), p. 472.
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