a historical mandate

The Saga Heritage Foundation takes its historical mandate from the Icelandic bishop Brynjolf Sveinsson, and follow in the footsteps of Tormod Torfæus and others whose work were invaluable to the survival of Flateyjarbok and the saga tradition.
— The following timeline was created by Sigvald Grøsfjeld


The first part of Flateyjarbók (the royal gift) is written down under the supervision of Jón Hákonarsson.


The young king Olav IV Håkonsson dies, just 17 years old.

The second part of Flateyjarbók is written down under the supervision of Jon Håkonsson.


The farmer Jon Finnsson (ca. 1592) of Flatey Island turns Flateyjarbók, a family treasure, over to Brynjolv Sveinsson, Bishop of Skålholt.


Brynjolf Sveinsson.

Brynjolf Sveinsson.


Brynjolv Sveinsson informs the Allting that the king of Denmark/Norway, Fredrik III, is collecting old manuscripts for his library in Copenhagen, announcing that he himself is giving Flateyjarbók to the king.

Bishop Brynjolv Sveinsson, a man of sophisticated historical sense, was deeply interested in Flateyjarbók. He wished to see knowledge of the Icelandic sagas disseminated throughout Europe. He may have owned some copies of the work. We possess a letter revealing that his goal was to have the original printed up in parallel editions in Danish and, eventually, Latin. Antiquarians in Europe must be able to study these important documents themselves. Otherwise they would lie in Copenhagen, mute as dumb statues. That would be the end of them, in Brynjolv’s opinion. As mere museum artifacts they would die. Therefore they must be made available to new readers!

Flateyjarbók is rapidly translated into Danish by the Icelandic historian Tormod Torfæus (1636-1719).


Torfæus is appointed royal “historiographer” by King Christian V, and gets the king’s blessing for the project of writing a comprehensive Norwegian history. Flateyjarbók is loaned to Torfæus, who lives at Avaldsnes on Karmøy. There it is preserved in a fi reproof cellar for 22 years. The book is an important source for Torfæus’ various historical works.


Flateyjarbók is returned to Copenhagen in connection with King Fredrik IV’s visit to Avaldsnes.


Norwegian state archivist Christian C. A. Lange begins an initiative to have Flateyjarbók published in Old Norse under the national budget.


The first printed edition in Old Norse (3 vols.), edited by Guðbrandur Vigfússon (1827-1889) and Carl Richard Unger (1817-1897) is published in Oslo.


A facsimile of the portion of Flateyjarbók dealing with the Vinland voyages is exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in Chicago, USA.


Flateyjarbók is published in a special facsimile edition edited by Finnur Jónsson (1858-1934), in Copenhagen. The facsimile edition serves as a gift to the representatives of the Icelandic Allting.


Another printed edition in Old Norse (four vols., called the Akranes edition), edited by Sigurður Nordal, is published in Reykjavik, Iceland.


Flateyjarbók and Codex Regius are returned to Iceland on board a Danish war ship, and received with great celebration.


The outstanding Icelandic scholar Ólafur Halldórsson proposes the theory that the fi rst part of Flateyjarbók was originally intended as a gift for King Olav IV.


The American scholar Eizabeth Ashman Rowe follows up Ólafur Halldórsson’s research in her dissertation, Development of Flatejarbók: Iceland and the dynastic crisis of 1389.


The modern Norwegian Flateyjarbok-project is announced, based on Brynjolf Sveinsson’s admonition that Flateyjarbok had to be translated.


The first translated edition of Flateyjarbók, edited by Torgrim Titlestad, is published in Stavanger.


The first English translation of Flateyjarbok in its entirety is announced at Den Norske Klub (The Norwegian Club, In & Out Club), St. James, London. Translator is professor Alison Finlay, Birkbeck London University


The Norwegian edition of Flateyjarbok is completed.