The Battle of Fimreite 1184
Around the year 1180 there were two individuals who laid claim to becoming the king of Norway, Sverre Sigurdsson and Magnus Erlingsson, who both claimed to be of royal lineage. These two were constantly at loggerheads, and Magnus lost several battles against Sverre and had to flee the country in the end.
The viceroy appointed by King Sverre was not well liked by the inhabitants. When he demanded payment taxes to hold a Christmas feast at Kaupanger, the inhabitants became furious. People from Sogndal and Kaupanger attacked the viceroy and his people, and killed most of them.
During the spring King Sverre sailed southwards along the coast with his ships. When he arrived in the Sognefjord, he wanted to sail in to Sogn to demand fines from those who had killed his men during Christmas. His men found no people in the villages. Sverre` s men took what they found of value and burnt the farms in both Sogndal and Kaupanger. The church at Stedje in Sogndal was the only building spared. Following these raids, King Sverre and his people travelled to Fimreite for a rest.
Magnus travelled to Denmark after his loss against Sverre. His good friend, the Danish king, helped him to equip a fleet and Magnus sailed back to Norway. Here he heard that Sverre and his men were in Sogn.
Sverre, with his 14 ships, battled against Magnus`s 26 ships. Instead of lashing his ships together in the traditional way, as Magnus did with his largest ships, Sverre let his sail free.
Sverre’ s men managed to board Magnus’s ships, men panicked and jumped from one ship to the next. In the end the vessels were so full of people that they sank and those on board drowned. Those who made it so shore were met by Sverre’ s men who cut them down as they came out of the water.
King Sverre thus became the sole monarch of Norway.
The body of Magnus was laid in a coffin and King Sverre took him to Bergen, where he was buried in Christ Church.