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Category 10 - Olaus Magnus - History of the Nordic Peoples (from 1555) - Illustrations with Comments -  Introduction

Illustrationer med förklaringar till Olaus Magnus "Historia om de nordiska folken" (utgiven år 1555) 

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The Work
”History of the Nordic Peoples” – original Latin title Historia
de gentibus septentrionalibus is the first edited major work about Sweden and its inhabitants. As the title tells, also other people and countries are depicted. But the author Olaus Magnus was of an old Swedish family, made his early career in Sweden and kept his Swedish identification during his many years in exile.  

The work is divided into 22 books with totally 476 chapters and also includes preface, appendices and register. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus was printed in Rome, Italy in 1555. The Pope Julius II allowed the privilege of copyright for ten years. The work was soon translated into Italian, English, Dutch, French and German. It was however not translated into Swedish until the first years of the 20th Century.

The Swedish edition
is divided into four volumes edited in 1909, 1912, 1916 and 1925. The size of the volumes are about 20 x 28 cm. See my photos on this webpage. 

The Illustrations
The work is illustrated by 352 culture-historical woodcuts. I addition to these, there are 129 woodcuts with decorative functions including initial letters and ornamentations.

The Author

Olaus Magnus was born in Linköping, Sweden 1490 and died in Rome, Italy 1557. He studied theology, became a parish priest in Stockholm and cathedral dean in Strängnäs. He had in the beginning a good relation with King Gustav Wasa, but when the king began to introduce the Lutheran faith, Olaus Magnus remained a Catholic. He had to flee from Sweden. After some years of travelling around he settled permanently in Italy 1539. There he started a new career as a historic researcher, cartographer and writer.  

Olaus Magnus was formally the last Catholic Archbishop of Sweden. He got this appointment in 1544. But as Sweden had broken the relationships with the Pope in 1524, this was only Pro Forma.

Carta Marina
The probably most well-known work by Olaus Magnus is the Carta Marina (Olaus Magnus himself preferred the title Carta Gothica. This map, measuring 175 x 125 cm, is divided into nine large woodcuts and was printed in Venice 1539. Many of the illustrations in “History of the Nordic Peoples” connect to those of Carta Marina.
The first illustration in Historia
de gentibus… is a simplified version of Carta Marina, shown on this webpage. 

The History of the Nordic Peoples – My Intentions
My intention is to publish all illustrations with cultural-historic contents on this web-site. I also intend to make a short explanation in English of every illustration. Please be indulgent with me – it will take time and my English language could be better.

Illustrations published on this site so far:  

Click here for larger image of the chart!

Page 1: Book 1, Chapter 1, to  Book 1, Chapter 31.
Page 2: Book 1, Chapter 32, to  Book 2, Chapter 26.
Page 3: Book 2, Chapter 27, to  Book 4, Chapter 3.
Page 4: Book 4, Chapter 4, to  Book 5, Chapter 13.
Page 5: Book 5, Chapter 14, to  Book 7, Chapter 4.
Page 6: Book 7, Chapter 6, to  Book 9, Chapter 1.

Page 7: Book 9, Chapter 2, to Book 9, Chapter 12.

Half title page

Title page of "Historia om de nordiska folken", Sweden 1909. Klick for larger image.
Second half title page Title page (Click for larger image) 1st book, 1st chapter



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© 2007 Lars Henriksson

Updated: 2008-01-02