Gesta Danorum with handwritten comments by Olaus Magnus finally in Sweden!

In the 12th century the danish historian Saxo Grammticus wrote the history of Denmark, a book known as Gesta Danorum (the full name is a bit longer: Danorum Regum heroumque Historiae stilo eleganti a Saxone Grammatico natione Sialandico necnon Roskildensis ecclesiae praeposito, abhinc supra trecentos annos conscriptae et nunc primum literaria serie illustratae tersissimeque impressae.) Centuries later, in 1514, it was printed for the first time in Paris. The book is one of the most important sources to early Scandinavian history.

One of the copies printed in Paris ended up in the hands of the Swedish archbishops and brothers Olaus and Johannes Magnus. Both brothers wrote important works about Swedish history. Olaus Magnus most famous work is Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus and Johannes Magnus most famous one is Historia de omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque regibus.

Both brothers were very inspired by Gesta Danorum. Their copy of the book is now finally making its way to Sweden. 

The Royal Library in Stockholm announced today, 22nd of March, that they will buy the book for their collections. This is very exciting news, not only because of the book Gesta Danorum itself, but because of the comments written within it. 

The brothers Magnus wrote in the margins of the book, as was quite common among scholars at the time. They wrote in Latin - which is exciting for us Latinists. And they did not always comment just on the text itself: One of the comments made by Olaus Magnus is about the Stockholm bloodbath in November 1520 when the danish king Christian II had a huge part of the Swedish aristocracy beheaded in Stockholm. This is one of the first accounts of the bloodbath as Olaus Magnus was in Stockholm at the time. Olaus Magnus later on described the bloodbath in his own book. 

What else do the comments and scribbles in the margins hide? 

You can find the announcement from the Royal Library here. The book will be on display at the library for three days in April: 19th-21st. So if you're in Stockholm: don't miss it!

Image: Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum by Kungliga Biblioteket / Swedish Royal Library

Image: Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum by Kungliga Biblioteket / Swedish Royal Library