Danish Translations of the Norwegian Landslǫg in the University of Bergen Special Collections 4

Dr. Helen F. Leslie-Jacobsen

The law code referred to as the Landslǫg was the first national law code for Norway. It was promulgated by Magnus Lagabøte (‘the law-mender’) between 1274 and 1276, and replaced the regional laws of Norway. The Landslǫg was in force for over 400 years, so it is unsurprising that over the years the law coded needed small modifications. These modifications are listed in the law books and are referred to as rettebotter (amendments). The language of the society using the law code also changed. The original, 13th century, law code was written in Old Norwegian, the form of Old Norse used in Norway. During the long life of the Landslǫg, Norway entered a union with Denmark, and Danish was used in the early modern period as the language of the administration in Norway. The Danish administrators, and may be some Norwegians too, struggled with the Old Norwegian of the law code, and translations of the Landslǫg were made into Danish. The law books at the University of Bergen represent this period in the life of the Landslǫg, and are all part of the story of translating the Landslǫg into Danish.