In today’s issue of the newspaper Klassekampen I write about Pope Innocent IV and his role in Norwegian history, inspired by a recent archaeological find. In connection with railway construction work in Oslo’s old town, archaeologists discovered something as rare as a medieval Papal seal. The seal was found folded, but on Wednesday an attempt was made to open it. This was abandoned because of the risk of breaking it, but the examination revealed that it was Pope Innocent IV who had sent the letter to which the seal was once affixed.
This was an interesting find because this Pope, who reigned from 1243 to 1254, played a small but interesting part in Norwegian history as the Pope who eventually gave permission for Håkon Håkonsson, the illegitimate grandson of the excommunicated usurper King Sverre, to be crowned. Thereby he brought the conflict between the church and the so-called Birchlegs to its conclusion and legitimised the House of Sverre as Norway’s rightful royal house, apparently in the hope that Håkon would go on a crusade and help recover Jerusalem, which had been lost to the Muslims in 1244.