The Lion, the Dream, and the Poet
Mental Illnesses in Norway’s Medieval Royal Court
This article investigates the representation of mental illnesses in the context of Norway’s medieval royal court using the kings’ saga Morkinskinna. The text naturally applies its own contemporaneous terminology that demands close scrutiny, but greater focus is placed upon the responses mental illnesses elicit in this context, which include curiosity, incomprehension, fear, hopelessness, sorrow, sensitivity, attentiveness, compassion, and successful or unsuccessful attempts at treatment. Overall, the narrative invokes mental illnesses to advance certain of its broader interests concerning the roles, duties, and the relationship between medieval Norwegian kings and their subjects.