Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson: Sigurd Slembe (2890 words)

  • Kathryn Jane Rees (University of Cambridge)
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This trilogy of plays represents the violent period in twelfth century Norway when royal succession laws recognised the claims of illegitimate sons, resulting in many political factions and, ultimately, civil war. This is a play about allegiance and betrayal, about ambition and indifference. Among the chieftains, politicians and soldiers, plotting and counter-plotting is common; this sense of confusion and uncertainty is reinforced by Bjornson’s use of vigorous, fast-paced scenes.

The eponymous protagonist is based on Sigurd, son of Thora Saxesdatter, husband of Audhild Torleiv. In the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturlsson (1178/9-1241), Sigurd is described as having been

set to book-learning in his …

Rees, Kathryn Jane. "Sigurd Slembe". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 April 2017
[, accessed 21 February 2018.]

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