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About Guttorm Sigurdsson, King of Norway
Guttorm Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Guthormr Sigurðarson) (1199 – 11 August 1204) was King of Norway during 1204.
Guttorm Sigurdsson was the son of Sigurd Lavard and grandson of King Sverre. Sigurd Lavard died in 1200 or 1201 during the reign of King Sverre. Following his death during 1202, King Sverre was succeeded by his younger son who reigned as King Haakon III of Norway until his death on 2 January 1204.
Guttorm succeeded his uncle Haakon as king of Norway. At the time of his death, King Haakon appears to have been in control of the whole country. However following his death, at some point in the first half of 1204, the Bagler pretender, Erling Steinvegg arrived in Viken with a large force, supported by King Valdemar II of Denmark. This was the start of the second Bagler war (1204–1208).
The day after Guttorm became king, Haakon the Crazy (Old Norse: Hákon galinn, Modern Norwegian: Håkon galen), a nephew of King Sverre, was made earl and leader of the Birkebeiner army. Haakon thus became the real leader of the Birkebeiner, as Guttorm was only 4 years old. Guttorm and the Birkebeiner army sailed to Nidaros where Guttorm was proclaimed king at the thing. In August the same year, he fell ill and died. Guttorm is buried in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The Birkebeiner knew of no other direct descendant of King Sverre, as Håkon Håkonsson was still unknown to them. They therefore chose another nephew of Sverre, Inge Bårdsson who reigned as King Inge II of Norway.
The civil wars period of Norwegian history lasted from 1130 to 1240. During this period there were several interlocked conflicts of varying scale and intensity. The background for these conflicts were the unclear Norwegian succession laws, social conditions and the struggle between different aristocratic parties and between Church and King. There were then two main parties, firstly known by varying names or no names at all, but finally condensed into parties of Bagler and Birkebeiner. The rallying point regularly was a royal son, who was set up as the head figure of the party in question, to oppose the rule of king from the contesting party.
Our main sources to the life of Guttorm are the Bagler sagas and The Saga of Haakon Haakonsson, both written in the 13th century.