Ragnvald Knaphövde was a King of Sweden whose reign is estimated to the mid-1120s1 or c. 1130.23 His cognomen Knaphövde is explained as referring to a drinking vessel, the size of a man's head2 or meaning "round head" and referring to his being foolish.1 Ragnvald is mentioned in the regnal list of the Westrogothic law as the successor of King Inge the Younger.3
His parentage is uncertain: King Inge the Elder of Sweden had a son named Ragnvald,4 and historian Sven Tunberg has suggested him as identical with Ragnvald Knaphövde.5 However, another tradition presents King Ragnvald as the son of an Olof Näskonung2 (Neskonungr meant "king of a ness"2 or "petty king", in Old Norse), and the regnal list of the Westrogothic law does not mention that Ragnvald had any connection with the old line of kings.
Ragnvald Knaphövde had been elected king by the Swedes in Uppland and then acknowledged by the East Gothlanders in Östergötland, but when he entered Västergötland, he did so without taking Geatish hostages.2 In Karleby, he was murdered by the Geats who instead had elected the Danish prince Magnus Nielsen who became King Magnus I of Sweden.23
The Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus explained later in the same century that the election of Magnus and the murder of a rightful king of Sweden was part of a Gothic (Geatish) plan to arrogate the right of electing the king from the Swedes:
In the following century, in the Westrogothic law, the Geats would acknowledge that it was the Swedes who were entitled to elect and depose the king.8 In the regnal list of this law, they ignored the existence of any Magnus, but instead they defended the murder of Ragnvald as follows:
Thus, the Geats explained the murder of Ragnvald as vengeance for his arrogant attitude towards them. After the death of King Magnus, the West Gothland region was ruled by jarls, probably under the nominal supremacy of Danish kings during a few decades until the Swedish king Sverker the Elder and after him the Swedish king Erik Jedvardsson were accepted there.10
The 16th-century Swedish King John III would later have a damaged tombstone replaced for Ragnvald, over a grave at Vreta Abbey. This is considered the family grave of King Inge the Elder, named for that king's son mentioned above.
- Ragnvald knaphövde at the site of the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, retrieved January 20, 2007.
- Ragnvald Knaphöfde in Nordisk familjebok (1915).
- Ragnvald Knaphövde in Nationalencyklopedin (1994).
- Lagerqvist & Åberg in Kings and Rulers of Sweden ISBN 91-87064-35-9 p. 13
- Professor Sven Tunberg in Ragnvald Knapphövde, ett bidrag till diskussionen om Sveriges medeltida konungalängd as published in Svensk tidskrift 1954, Almqvist & Wiksells, Upsala, pp. 35-40
- Gesta Danorum, 13.5.1, in Latin, at the Royal Danish Library.
- Translation provided by Wikipedia editors.
- Sveær egho konong at taka ok sva vrækæ ("it is the Swedes who have the right to elect king and to dethrone him").
- The regnal list of the Westrogothic law at the University of Lund., retrieved July 18, 2007.
- The online article Sverige at the site of the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities, retrieved January 20, 2007.
Ragnvald KnaphövdeDied: 1126
Inge the Younger
|King of Sweden
Title next held bySverker I of Sweden