‘The Last King’

I figure I’d better share this film trailer with you, though I’m a little torn. I shall explain below.

The story of the Birkebeiners and the little king is a classic set piece of Norwegian history. The Birkebeiners were a political party/fighting group, mostly based in northern Norway. Baby King Haakon Haakonsson (his actual patrimony is somewhat in doubt, but that was more the rule than the exception in Norway during the dynastic wars) was spirited over the mountains by two faithful retainers on skis, to save his life from the forces of the Bagler party. In time he survived to be king and end the civil wars.

The Birkebeiners (birchlegs) got their name from a legend that they were so poor at the beginning that they had to wrap birch bark around their legs for warmth in the winter. The Bagler party, which had its strength in the south, was more aristocratic and was allied with the church. “Bagler” comes from the word for a bishop’s crosier.

I personally have long had Bagler sympathies, as one of their leaders was a nobleman who lived at a place where some of my ancestors came from. Thus I like to think he was an ancestor.

On the other hand, Haakon Haakonsson built the big stone church at Avaldsnes, where my great-grandfather was baptized. So I guess I can suspend my partisanship for a couple hours and see this movie.

Coming June 17. It won’t be in a lot of theaters, but it will be available on Netflix.

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