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Old Tønsberg: The Castle Hill, publ. by Vestfold College, 2001. 
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Dream and reality

by Theodor Broch

"Only that which is lost is possessed forever", said the profound Ibsen. He means that once it is too late, we can sit back and long for lost greatness or people and values never to return. The past becomes a dream and that dream  can often be more beautiful than reality.

Yet people nowadays do not seem to care much about the past and historical relics. That's a pity. Common background and experiences provide a basis for families and organizations, societies and nations. So we are glad to have an excuse for stimulating such fellowship. Age and anniversaries are both good reasons to celebrate. So Tønsberg's 1100th anniversary offers the perfect opportunity to arrange a myriad of events and activities.

A society needs symbols to emphasize its distinctive character. Lucky is the town which has an obvious landmark in its coat of arms. The Jews had Mount  Zion where the temple stood, King David built his castle on the mountain. The dream of Zion has left its mark on Western culture. The holy hill in Athens has done the same. The Acropolis stands as a shining marble pillar in history. In Rome the Capitol stood on one of the seven hills and became the centre of the world. Tokyo has the sacred Fujiyama. These city symbols are so powerful that we need a short break to tear our thoughts away from them. "I have a cold too, said the flea, coughing.

"Slottsfjellet (Castle Hill) in Tønsberg must have been a rallying point even before the town came into being. Even cautious historians refer to a fort located on the hill before written records began. The hill gave the town its name and made it a military and political centre. The Middle Ages were the town's golden era. There were kings and princesses in the red-brick castle on the hill. It glowed in the setting sun.

But let us begin with the realities of everyday life. History is usually experienced backwards, from a chronological point of view. We often become interested first in fairly recent events, and then in more distant times. Or we mark out an area and dig down through the layers of its history. At any rate this is what happened at Tønsberg.

The silhouette Slottsfjellet presents against the evening sky is still well defined and powerful, but simple and unadorned. This must be admitted. The tower per se does not have much to do with the story. It has now become an emblem of the new Tønsberg. The plaque over the entrance reads:

"871 - 1871 

On the sides we see the gilded signatures of two kings: Haakon R (1 August 1906) and Olav R (1 July 1958).

The tower was originally a private initiative taken by the "Slottsfjell Committee", built from donations totalling NOK 14,000. It was intended to mark the 1000th anniversary of the city. The tower was built from large blocks of stone. It was 60 feet high and its appointments were modest. The stone tower replaced a wooden watchtower dating from 1856 which burnt down in 1874. In the anniversary year of 1971 the local authorities spent NOK 200.000 to improve the insulation and compensate for the lack of upkeep. New plaques were mounted inside the tower with the following inscriptions:

Sverre Sigurdsson, king from 1177 - 1202, besieged the Baglers' wooden castle here for 20 weeks 1201 - 1202.

Håkon IV Håkonsson, king from 1217 - 1263, built the stone castle and the Bredestuen.

Magnus Lagabøte (Lawmender), king from 1263 - 1280, received his bride Ingeborg from Denmark here in 1261 and built the Teglkastellet (Brick citadel).

Håkon V Magnusson, king from 1299 - 1319, the last of Harald's line, fell ill and died here.

Magnus Eriksson, king from 1319 - 1374, married Blanca of Namur here in 1335 and gave her the castle and fief as her morning gift.

Slottsfjellet is a tourist attraction in the summer and in the winter the tower is floodlit. There is an old iron cross beneath the south face of the perimeter wall. The cross once stood over St. Mary's church in the market square, but the church was demolished some time ago.

Municipal Christmas parties are usually brought to a close with cream cake and quiz games. There are always a few questions that crop up again and again. For example, "How high above sea level is Slottsfjellet's viewing terrace? Local patriotism tends to put it as high as a few hundred metres. But representatives of the city's technical services are the winners: "80 metres!" And we learn more: Slottsfjellet consists of four layers of rhombus porphyry which lie on older layers of limestone and clay. They are visible on the north side towards the plateau which is called Tallak. At the end of the last Ice Age the hill was 40 metres beneath the sea. During the Sub-Boreal Climatic Interval, around 4000 years before the advent of recorded history, it had become a little islet 15 metres above the sea. Its many fissures make Slottsfjellet hard to drill into. This is why the new road tunnel past Nordbyen was so expensive. Rhombus porphyry of the Slottsfjell-type is quite distinctive. We beg the technical services to stop and award them an extra prize.

"Who owns Slottsfjellet?" - "The town presumably, or rather the local authority." - "Wrong!" The mountain originally belonged to the royal estates of Haugar and Sæheim. Under Danish rule it received little attention and would probably have sunk back into the sea from shame had that been possible.

Kristian IV wanted to give his powerful chancellor Peter Schumacher a token of his gratitude. The king made Schumacher Count Griffenfeldt. By the special licence of 1675 properties from the Drammen River south to Stokke were made over to the Count's domain.

"Likewise we have also ... placed our town of Tonsberg including the adjacent harbours and loading quays under the domain of Count Griffenfeldt, .... and therefore authorize our aforesaid chancellor, the Count of Griffenfeldt and his lawful descendants and successors to bear the title thereof, and sign and call themselves counts and countesses of Griffenfeldt and Tonsberg, and appoint  mayors and councillors, judges and all the town authorities, both in their aforesaid town and in Holmestrand ...."


Tunsberghus seen from the southeast

Those were also dangerous times for politicians. The very next year Griffenfeldt fell into disgrace. He was condemned to death, but then shown mercy and imprisoned for life on Munkholmen near Trondheim. The king made over the Count's domain to his half brother Ulr. Fr. Gyldenløve, Norway's governor. Gyldenløve named the count's domain Jarlsberg and sold it to general field marshall Baron Gustav Wilhelm von Wedel. But Tønsberg town was excluded from the count's domain in happy contrast to Larvik. On the other hand, the boundaries were unclear. Slottsfjellet with the plots to the east and Teglhagen belonged to Jarlsberg and were not part of the town. By the law of 6 May 1876, the Slottsfjell area came within the town boundary without any change of ownership. The hill itself was still not especially appreciated. But the militia used Teglhagen as a drill ground and considered the hill as part of the town down as far as the present Farmannsveien. In the 1750s there were lengthy boundary disputes. Customs officer Wolfgang Sigismund Resch was a good witness for the town. He had papers on the property from the former owner and did not pay taxes to Jarlsberg. The case went to the High Count which found the information submitted inadequate and ordered that a new boundary be drawn. This was repeatedly postponed because no agreement could be reached as to the costs. The dispute was finally reduced to a discussion about the dyer Mads Dahl's plot on the east side of Slottsfjellet. The Count proposed that the matter be decided by drawing lots. This was approved and ordered at the town council meeting on 8 July 1833. The Count was represented by Lieutenant Rynning. The town won the draw. At the same time it was agreed: "Considering the circumstances, the town waives its claim to any right to the upper part of the so-called Slottsfjellet."

The relations between the estate and the town grew increasingly better. But there were still some unclear points of ownership. There was little interest in Slottsfjellet. In a contract dated 1836 Tax Collector Døderlein and his wife secured Slottsfjell harbour with the upper part of Slottsfjellet first for ten years, then for their own and their children's lifetime. In 1880 the Committee for the preservation of historical relics in Tønsberg' leased the upper part of the hill for 99 years for a barrel of barley a year. It was not until 1928 that everything was finally settled between the municipality and the estate. The estate owner Herrman Wedel Jarlsberg and Councillor Anders Rørholt agreed on two contracts, one for around 10 acres of the property Slottsfjell-løkken, and one for "the top of Slottsfjellet and its steep sides down to the shore west of the hill from Nordbyen and as far as the southern edge of the timber merchant Halvorsen's storage yard for boats ("the Peninsula'), everything under land register No. 397, Tønsberg. The areas were made over to Tønsberg municipality as a perpetual heritable lease for a total of 60 hl. of barley a year, i.e. the charge depended on the price of grain. This was on condition that no buildings be erected on the hill without the approval of the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments. Slottsfjell-løkken was to be used as a park, possibly with a bandstand and soft drinks kiosk. Jarlsberg was to have 10 per cent of the net proceeds from the leasing of the top area (but not from the tower or the museum).

The town and the Wedel Jarlsberg family have had a common interest in protecting the environment and historical monuments. In the anniversary year Farmanns Hill by the Jarlsberg manor house and the kings' graves in Haugar were marked with memorial plaques.

After 1814 our people slowly began to be conscious of their national identity. For a long time this was largely accomplished through patriotic songs and toasts. But the farmers had traditions and the parish's common feelings of local patriotism to build on, that is, local patriotism as distinct from people in neighbouring rural parishes. Town life was more socially stratified and town people appeared to have less community spirit. It took a long time to work up general interest in history. Although epic poems were fashionable, valuable historical monuments were falling into disrepair. For a long time Tønsberg was no exception.

The first records of the remains of historical buildings in Tønsberg date from 1823. Major L. D. Klüwer reported to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Trondheim. The town's population had clearly helped themselves  to remains of the castle and churches for use as building materials over the generations. Klüwer was interested in Tunsberghus and prepared maps of the  ruins. But it was not until 1877 that careful excavations were started by the Architect Håkon Thorsen on behalf of the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. After 1898 this work was continued by Professor  Johan Meyer. He was commissioned by the Committee for Tønsberg's History to draw reconstructions of St Michael's Church, Bredestuen and Teglkastellet.  From 1920 to 1930 the Architect Gerhard Fischer carried out thorough investigations and kept records of them. On the initiative of Councillor Rørholt using privately collected funds in the main, Gerhard Fischer saved the Slottsfjell ruins for posterity. His assistant Cato Enger recorded each important stone. The tree planting society, which has always been interested in Slottsfjellet, commissioned Enger to make a plastic model of Tunsberghus as an anniversary gift to the town.

The inner courtyard of Tunsberghus seen from the north.

Councillor Rørholt left piles of documents from 30 years' work on the Slottsfjell ruins. A great deal of progress was achieved thanks to the considerable interest shown by individual people and small public grants. Friends of the town gave annual donations. Sigrid Undset included. She often visited the excavation site and made notes for her medieval novels.

Many valuable finds were made on the hill, jewelry and relics, weapons and tools. Specimens were found of the first coins struck with the Tønsberg inscription: Castrum Tunbergis.

Eirik II Magnusson, also called Prestehater (priest hater), was the son of Magnus Lagabøter and, at the age of 11, he became king. He was married to a Scottish princess 7 years his senior. She taught him to read and write before he became a widower at the age of 15. From 1280 coins struck in Tønsberg bore the boy king's picture.

Copies of these coins in gold and silver were sold with great success at the opening of the town's anniversary celebrations.

A story which Councillor Rørholt occasionally used to tell in private deserves to be retold. "We went for a walk together from Danakleven over the hill and down the earthen steps north of Tallak where the kings in the sagas had their brick works." Rørholt talked about the finds on Slottsfjellet and the people who had taken pains to preserve them. He kept coming back to Professor Oscar  Albert Johnsen, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments Harry Fett and Architect Gerhard Fischer. They were all outstanding and dominant personalities. They were all very fond of talking about their favourites in the royal castle.

Following a good supper at Rørholt's house the four were all in excellent spirits and each expatiated on his particular pet subject. At midnight Mrs. Rørholt retired for the night. Between 3 and 6 o'clock in the morning Rørholt took a little nap and then prepared a good breakfast for them all. His guests had not noticed his absence. Breakfast brought on a new round of discussions. Johnsen and Fischer got back in their stride. At sunrise Harry Fett suggested visiting the site. Gesticulating madly the four gentlemen walked through empty streets towards Slottsfjellet. On the ledge above the unfortunately situated Slottsfjell School the colleagues stopped and took a breather. Harry Fett took the opportunity to describe how a monument to Queen Blanca, the beautiful count's daughter from Flanders, should be erected on that spot overlooking the harbour.

Harry Fett pointed down to the town. Directly south of the hill, by the entrance to Nordbyen, the old royal palace must have stood sheltered from the wind and weather. "This is where the kings' sons were born. That is where beautiful Queen Blanca sat with little Håkon on her knee. She was the horse upon which he rode. That was a king's mother's destiny, to bring her son to the throne. Then other women came along. For the young Prince Håkon it was to be Margrete Valdemarsdatter. The marriage was celebrated in Copenhagen on 1 July 1363 when King Magnus and Queen Blanca were poisoned. We don't know whether it was an accident or politics. The queen died after returning home. But Margrete was  to become the Queen of Kalmar and fate's lady of the north, at least for Norway  and Tønsberg. Queen Blanca from Flanders was the last Norwegian queen in  Tunsberghus.

Like Håkon VI Magnusson we dream of the legends of our childhood. Doesn't Tønsberg do that too? Why not erect a monument to Queen Blanca on this spot?" And the enthusiastic Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments concluded his speech on Slottsfjellet with August Ekenberg's version of the well-known lullaby:

Clinka, clinka, clanka, the horse is called Blanka
Such a good little knight, no spurs yet in sight
When you have won them, childhood's peace shall be gone.

So she sang for her darling of life's adventure 
And lied with a tear, did Blanka of Namur 
And when King Håkon had won his spurs, land and bride?
He remembered with sadness the song for the child.

The walk continued over the hill and back to Nedre Langgate 12, with Harry Fett still in top gear. Rørholt thought that the Chief Inspector certainly deserved first prize in this Slottsfjell olympics. But the professor clearly came out top when it came to who had written the most about Tønsberg. His interesting and detailed history of the town ran to some 2500 pages. His son's anniversary edition would be less than a tenth of that. Dr Arne Odd Johnsen's book "Tønsberg through the ages" is not just a condensed account, but represents our generation's knowledge of the history of Norway's oldest town.

Some renowned citizens of the town, also in their sunset years, talk about Slottsfjellet as they remember it from childhood days spent as bandit leaders  and explorers. The lonely hill was a fairyland with rugged cliffs and mystical caves, but with far more flowers than now. The fields could be literally covered with wild pansies. There were also chives to take home. They may have come from the monks' herb gardens. They had a particularly strong taste.

Tunsberghus seen from the northeast.

The children in those days knew that there was a secret passage under the mountain. It went from Aksel's cave, beneath the Byfjord, to the monastery at Teie. And Aksel's cave can still be found west of the northern approach to Tallak. The knight Aksel was divorced from the beautiful Valborg by order of the king. They had to stand before the altar in St Mary's church with a piece of cloth between them. This was cut in two as a sign of divorce. The gold rings they had given each other were taken from them. The king's confessor Sortebroder (Black Friar) Knut had found out that Aksel and Valborg were second cousins. According to the custom of the time they were not allowed to marry. The king loved the maiden Valborg himself and she was put in a convent. But as the story goes, the knight Aksel knew what to do.

The fact that this beautiful and sad legend is associated with many old castles in the Nordic countries makes it no less interesting. Pastor Jens Müller called the tale a "sheer fable" in 1750. But the priest Andreas Faye from Sande took it more seriously in his book "Norwegian Legends" in 1844: "Legend has it that the beautiful Valborg lived and died in a convent which stood at Teie by Tønsberg where remains of old walls can still be seen; the same convent is supposed to have been connected by an underground passageway to Tønsberg castle where Aksel was. Just a few years ago in Lavran's churchyard they used to point out the large gravestone under which Sortebroder Knut is supposed to lie, and in a hiding place in St Mary's church even the cloth which was torn between Aksel and Valborg is supposed to have been found."

Tønsberg's popular mayor after the war, Georg Martinsen (1885-1962), went for a walk over Slottsfjellet every morning. He said that as a boy he had climbed several metres into a cave which was blocked with large stones. A cat was  pushed down into Aksel's cave once. It came out on the other side of the fjord without a hair on its body. But Martinsen had not seen the cat himself.

The sculptor Carl E. Paulsen has loved Slottsfjellet throughout his long life and generously shared his affection with others. He has been chairman of the Slottsfjell committee for years. As "the commandant on the hill" he enjoys telling stories of kings and princesses. Paulsen's pottering around Slottsfjellet has delighted many. Over a cup of coffee in the Seter Cafe he could point to the crevices in the hill under the Tower." There is the Furrier's Cave. 60 years ago it was very dangerous. The bushes grew high in front of the entrance. The cave curves round a central formation that makes a natural pillar. Anyone who walks round the stone three times and says a bad word is doomed never to find his  way out again. But children had respect for the Furrier's Cave in those days. Even though many years had gone by since the furrier had hung himself behind the pillar, one was never completely safe inside. When the wind blew from the east, the body could still be heard banging against the stone wall.

Unfortunately, the legend was not entirely true. During the Occupation the Germans were billeted on the mountain. They said bad words and went unpunished. In idle moments they blasted their way far into the hill, just to the right of the Furrier's Cave. The site served as both an air raid shelter and a machine gun emplacement. A long main passageway runs parallel with the side of the hill underneath the Slottsfjell tower. It has embrasures in the wall and three entrances. Our postwar children are used to caves. But the inside of Slottsfjellet was exciting. The roof dripped and there were rock falls. The local authority had to seal up all the entrances.

Slottsfjellet has kept up with the times. On the tower there is a radio antenna for fire engines, police and taxis. The parks department looks after the mountain and picks up empty bottles and litter.

Slottsfjellet is still the borderland between dream and reality, as it the Bagler Well. Of course it is real, the remains can still be seen on the north side just above the northern entrance to the road tunnel. But the blasting into the hill and souvenir hunters have eaten away at the well. The notched logs have disappeared. The vein of water was cut in two when the railway was blasted in 1887. That same year the artist Otto Valstad made a sketch of the well.

His wife was the writer Tilla, née Christiansen, from the family estate Løkken on the other side of Tallak. She was interested in the Bagler Well. Other Tønsberg families have their souvenirs. The town council's gavel is made of Bagler oak and the County Museum has several authentic logs from the well.

The Holy Land sacrificed its forests to satisfy the Crusaders' need for splinters from the Cross of Christ. For this reason the splinters of wood in the relics from Tønsberg may well be genuine: And the same certainly applies to the flower stand at Tilla and Otto Valstads museum in Asker. If exacting historians are not equally enthusiastic about the Bagler Well they have their reasons. It was outside the walls and could not be protected during a siege. But no other well has been found on the hill.

Sverre's saga relates that the king had a scout climb up the tower of Lavran's Church which stood where the cathedral stands now. The scout was forced down by arrows shot by the Baglers on the mountain. But he was able to report on the latest defences and the fact that the Baglers had placed an upturned boat over the well.

We have also been in the cathedral tower and it is hardly lower that Lavran's church tower was. There were three bells there: the "Jesus bell", 1530, from St Mary's church, the bell from Lavran's Church, 1689, with the donors' name -  Mathias Iversen and daughter and Mads Gregersen, and the new bell dating from 1939 donated by the Tønsberg Savings Bank.

There is a splendid view from the tower, but it is difficult to get a complete view of the whole of Slottsfjellet. The hill conceals what we call the Bagler Well.

The archaeologists think that rainwater was used. There have always been pools on the hill in the spring. One of them could have held water the whole summer until an earthquake as recently as 1904 caused new fissures in the old hill.

At any rate the Baglers had to go to a well to the north if they wanted to have fresh water. Its exact location has always been a source of contention.

Everyone agrees that Håkon Håkonsson was the great king of Slottsfjellet. He erected the walls and built the castle of baked brick. The furnace for the Tallak brickworks was found in 1904. His son Magnus Lagabøter completed the complex with the large brick citadel. This was the castle's dungeon, following the foreign model. If the outer walls and inner courtyard were taken, this was to serve as the last bastion of defence.

Both Håkon and Magnus were at home on Slottsfjellet. Their ancestor, King Sverre, conquered it. Tønsberg was the Bagler town. The civil war finally came to an end with Skule Bårdsson's dramatic death in Elgesæter monastery in 1240.

Håkon Håkonsson is a central figure in poets' dreams about Slottsfjellet. Ibsen's powerful play "The Pretenders" portrays Håkon as the saga's heroic king. He wanted to make Norway a real kingdom by uniting all Norwegians. Against him stood the mighty Duke Skule who ruled by dividing, setting those from Viken  against those from Toten, Slittungs against Ribbungs. Skule was the doubter and faithless, to himself, but mainly to the king. Time and again peace was   made between the duke and the king. Håkon married Margrete, Skule's daughter, as a symbol of his policy of reconciliation. Ibsen paints an attractive picture of Margrete who secretly loved her spouse and won him in the end. Margrete has captured people's imagination. Rebecca Lodge No 28 "Margrete Skulesdatter Lodge" was founded in Tønsberg in 1961.

Skule raises those from Trondheim to open revolt against Håkon and has the upper hand for a time. But he loses in the end and seeks refuge in Elgesæter monastery. Skule realizes that he and his son Peter have to die in order for the great idea to triumph and the country to find peace. They voluntarily walk out of the monastery gate to face Håkon's soldiers, who are waiting to kill them. When Håkon comes, they lie slain in front of the gate.

Dagfinn Bonde: If Håkon Håkonsson wishes to pass, he must walk over Skule Bårdsson's dead body.

Håkon: In God's name then. (Climbs over the body and goes in.)

"The Pretenders" was published in 1864. Ibsen wrote about problems. Situations and people had many sides. But the people at that time preferred to look at the bright side of things, at any rate as far as Norway and Norwegians were concerned. One of national romanticism's most popular poets was Andreas Munch. He wrote high-flown verse about Norway's age of greatness and was the first to be awarded an artist's scholarship by the Storting (Parliament). "The kings daughter's bridal procession. A poem in twelve romances" was published in 1850, and later in a number of editions, richly illuminated, bound as a large album with gold edging The romances were about Princess Kristina. All the details in the saga were used. But the dream was Andreas Munch's.

In the first romance King Håkon, has sat by his son's bier for three nights. Then the old king straightened his back (he was 53 years old).

Deedless brooding quenches not bereavement's thirst
Haakon has many children, and of these Norway is the first.
A Spanish delegation led by Sira Ferant came courting. The King of Castille wanted a Norwegian princess for one of his brothers. The maid Kristina obediently did her father's bidding. The flattering offer of marriage was accepted. The journey through Europe is described at length with violent storms and dramatic adventures. A young knight gave colour to the expedition, a singer of noble birth - Lord Aimerik of Toulouse.

The magnificent company attracted attention wherever it went. In Normandy 70 horses were bought and the bridal ride through France became a triumphal procession. The beautiful princess gave rich gifts to churches and monasteries. In each new town kings and counts led the princess's horse by the bridle to the castle. The silence in the great forests was broken by crisp notes from the singer's sitar. At the border they were attacked by mountain robbers. At the last minute Princess Kristina was rescued by Lord Aimerik. They sought refuge in a cave. He declared his love. She breathed a kiss on his brow -

I love you! - but am another's bride.
King Haakon's daughter dare not break her word,
The honour of my people, my fatherland, my line
To bear to the south is a duty of mine.
Sira Ferant reassembled his company and the journey continued with ever larger receptions the nearer they came to Valladolid .
... It stands on Castille's high plains
With countless domes and minarets ...
Now the beautiful Kristina was to choose her bridegroom from the brothers of  the King, Alphonso the Wise. Three of them were in the throne room. The Norwegian ambassador, Torlaug Bose, asked if there were not a fourth brother.
Ah, said the King and smiled,
The youngest is but a lad
So I am in no haste
To make his marriage bed.
There was a disturbance in the room. A young man forced his way through the gaily dressed crowd. He himself was the most splendid of them all. The king's
youngest brother, Don Philip, had come. He was - the singer Aimerik.

Then the marriage of Kristina and Don Philip was celebrated

 ... with all the splendour
That Spain could render,
Of further words there is no need
For Spain was matchless indeed.

King Haakon gives his daughter's hand in marriage
King Haakon the Old was in Tunsberg one spring
For two score years had he been Norway's king
And never had this land held greater sway
From the Hebrides to Iceland all power with him lay

From A. Munch's poem "The kings daughter's bridal precision" illustrated by Lorenz Frølich.

Each generation looks at the olden days with new eyes. For all we know, there may be many more stories about the young princess who sailed towards an unknown destiny when the red castle rose up on Slottsfjellet. But we find no new writings until 1912. Then the temperamental Harry Fett published a new book, entitled "Dead Voices". It was anonymous but many knew of Harry Fett's special interests. And so did the even more temperamental Macody Lund; he with "the golden mean.

In a description by an anonymous but unsympathetic historian he quite correctly recognized himself and sued for libel. The book was confiscated. In this way the romance "A king's daughter bridal procession" was withdrawn and there was no new edition until the author's 75th birthday in 1950. You would not think that it was the same princess as the one which Andreas Munch wrote about. Fett would certainly have said that it was not the same one either. His romance begins thus: 

King Håkon the Young, and the maid Kristina sat reading modern French novels. They were all about love; men and women of the highest society who loved one another in the strangest ways. 

The princess decided that she would not be married to, a coarse Norwegian peasant king. She wanted a dashing prince from the south. With her brother's help she obtains the offer of marriage: and the final choice of bridegroom in Valladolid by scheming. "A king's daughter's bridal procession ends thus: 

..The saga says no more about Kristina, but Don Philip was a hothead who never had any luck. He rebelled against his brother and got into many difficulties. Four years after her marriage Kristina Håkonsdatter died at the age of 26. She was buried in the foreign land. No one knows where.

But we were soon to find out. Rufino Vargas is an old parish priest in the village of Covarrubias who can also remember former greatness. The holy man had read about a blonde king's daughter from the North. He finally found a document which showed that she was buried in his monastery chapel of which Don Philip was once honorary abbot. And the miracle happened. In 1957 Father Vargas found the princess, or rather her mummified body in a carved soapstone coffin and he proved that Kristina Håkonsdatter rested in the carved soapstone coffin which stands in the cloister along which he walked each day when the bells rang for the Te Deum. Later the Sarcophagus became a place of pilgrimage for Norwegian officials and television crews. 

Our hectic and practical town below Slottsfjellet has needed a new retelling of its time of greatness. For the 1100th anniversary we wanted to bring to life the colourful dream of Tunsberghus in Håkon Håkonsson's time: We would like to  believe that we understand the human mind and its reactions better, than our forefathers did. At any rate we feel that people's behaviour and actions are conditioned by their surroundings. In tile time of the sagas life  may possible to a large extent have been determined by destiny and bound by a belief in God which was characteristic of the time and a rigid pattern of life, marked by uncertain economic conditions. The kings were powerful, but their power was dependent on the people fighting for them. The peasants lived under force, but there were limits to how effective the force was. The church was international. Priests and monks knew Latin and promoted intercourse between nations. Princesses were beautiful ivory pawns in the power game. Family ties bound the country together. But behind the rigid forms lay human feelings and needs the same then as now. 

We have seem the colourful destiny played with living people in modem style with Kåre Holt's drama "Kristina of Tunsberg". The premiere on 6 June was the highlight of the 1971 anniversary celebrations. 

A vivacious young princess walks over the old grass ramparts; roaming lightly over the centuries; over wild pansies on the old hill. She curtsies to her king.  And she bows to the people of Tønsberg and their guests so that each and every one of them will feel, like a real prince or princess of Tunsberg Castle: And that was precisely the intention of our city 1971 anniversary.

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