Sverre Sigurdsson 1177-1202

This may be a portrait of Sverre Sigurdsson 


 The history of  
Sverre Sigurdsson's coinage 


 Coins from  
Sverre Sigurdsson 


According to the sagas, Sverre was born in Norway and raised on the Faeroe Islands in the care of a bishop. Sverre's parentage is unclear and a significant question in research focused on him and his reign. According to Sverre himself, he was the son of Sigurd Munn, a descendant of Magnus Berrføtt (Bareleg). Sverre has been described as a strong-willed man, an accomplished military leader with a talent for acquiring a loyal following and generating enthusiasm for his cause. 

In 1176 Sverre travelled to Norway and became the leader of a small group of men. These men, referred to as "birkebeinere", made him their pretender to the throne in 1177, and with this small group, Sverre fought his way to the throne. The king he was challenging, Magnus Erlingsson, son of Sigurd Jorsalfar's daughter, fell in a battle off the coast from Fimreite in the Sognefjord, in 1184. Sverre subsequently became sole king of Norway. However, the unrest had not been brought to an end. Several other groups rose up against Sverre, including the dangerous "baglere" led by the Oslo bishop Nikolaus Arnesson. 

Since the church had given its support to Magnus Erlingsson, it was in strong opposition to Sverre as king. Sverre wanted to establish a national church with the king as its supreme leader. In the course of the conflict, Archbishop Eirik Ivarsson was forced to flee the country. Although Eirik had excommunicated Sverre, the bishops were forced to crown and anoint him as king. This prompted the pope, Innocens III, to declare an interdict against the whole country. 

Sverre died in Bergen in 1202, with the battle with the Oslo bishop and his followers not yet won. 


Monetary units: 
Penny, half-penny, quarter-penny, bracteate
Mint sites: 
Bergen, Nidaros, possibly also Elvesysla, Gimsøy, Hamar, Konghelle, Marstrand, Oslo, Stavanger, 
Tunsberg, Veøy, and perhaps other unidentified sites.