|Bishop of Orkney|
|See||Diocese of Orkney|
|In office||1043 x 1072|
|Predecessor||Unclear, but Bishop Henry last known|
|Consecration||1043 x 1072 (perhaps c. 1050)|
Thorulf or Torulf (fl. mid-11th century) was medieval prelate, a Bishop of Orkney. Although probably a native Scandinavian, he is known only from the account of the German writer Adam of Bremen. Adam reported that he was appointed bishop by Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg, the first Orcadian appointee under Hamburg overlordship. Thorulf's period of appointment coincided with the reign of Earl Thorfinn Sigurdsson, alleged builder of the Birsay church and founder of the bishopric of Orkney.
A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.
The Bishop of Orkney was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Orkney, one of thirteen medieval bishoprics of Scotland. It included both Orkney and Shetland. It was based for almost all of its history at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall.
Vikings were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who during the late 8th to late 11th centuries, raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westwards to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Norse home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.
Thorulf is known only from one source. According to the late 11th-century Saxon writer Adam of Bremen, he was appointed as bishop of Blascona in Orkney by Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg.In the mid-11th century, the Archbishop of Hamburg's jurisdiction extended over Scandinavia. Historians identify Blascona with Birsay (Old Norse: Birgisherað), Blascona a Latinisation perhaps derived from an older form.
The Duchy of Saxony was originally the area settled by the Saxons in the late Early Middle Ages, when they were subdued by Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from 772 and incorporated into the Carolingian Empire (Francia) by 804. Upon the 843 Treaty of Verdun, Saxony was one of the five German stem duchies of East Francia; Duke Henry the Fowler was elected German king in 919.
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. Adamus is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum.
Adalbert was Archbishop of Hamburg and Bishop of Bremen from 1043 until his death. Called Vikar des Nordens, he was an important political figure of the Holy Roman Empire, papal legate, and one of the regents for Emperor Henry IV.
Adam leaves no personal details about Thorulf, but supplies some information about the Orkney see, stating that the:
...Orkney Islands, although they had previously been ruled by English and Scottish bishops, our primate [Adalbert] on the pope's order consecrated Thorulf bishop for the city of Birsay [in civitatem Blasconam], and he was to have cure of all.
The date was approximately 1050, though could have been at any point between 1043 and 1072, the episcopate of Adalbert.The date 1050 is suggested as this was around the time that Earl Thorfinn Sigurdsson, ruler of Orkney, visited Rome.
As Adam mentioned that the Orcadians had sent legates, it is thought that Thorulf was appointed at Orcadian instigation, and it has even be suggested that the earl himself was among these legates.Historian Barbara Crawford thought that Thorulf was a Scandindavian, and a close associate of the earl. The Orkneyinga saga related that Birsay was the permanent residence of Earl Thorfinn, and that the earl built a minster there [dedicated to Christ] as the seat of the first Orkney bishop.
The Orkneyinga saga is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney and Shetland islands and their relationship with other local polities, particularly Norway and Scotland. The saga has "no parallel in the social and literary record of Scotland" and is "the only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action". The main focus of the work is the line of jarls who ruled the Earldom of Orkney, which constituted the Norðreyjar or Northern Isles of both Orkney and Shetland and there are frequent references to both archipelagoes throughout.
Although this specific claim may not be true [one previous bishop is known], it is nevertheless taken as evidence that Thorfinn's reign was a significant turning point for the earldom,suggesting according to historian Ronald Cant "a deliberate plan on the part of the earl to perfect the organization of the church in Orkney". Thorfinn and Thorulf's Christ Church has been identified with the Romanesque ruins on the tidal island known as Brough of Birsay, but there is also evidence that it was located over in the Mainland next to the Earl's palace.
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
A tidal island is a piece of land that is connected to the mainland by a natural or man-made causeway that is exposed at low tide and submerged at high tide. Because of the mystique surrounding tidal islands many of them have been sites of religious worship, such as Mont Saint-Michel with its Benedictine Abbey. Tidal islands are also commonly the sites of fortresses because of their natural fortifications.
The Brough of Birsay is an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland, in the parish of Birsay. It is located around 13 miles north of Stromness and features the remains of Pictish and Norse settlements as well as a modern light house.
Last known predecessor:
| Bishop of Orkney |
1043 x 1072 (perhaps c. 1050)
| Succeeded by|
The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling the Norðreyjar. Originally founded by Norse invaders, the status of the rulers of the Norðreyjar as Norwegian vassals was formalised in 1195. Although the Old Norse term jarl looks similar to "earl", and the jarls were succeeded by earls in the late 15th century, a Norwegian jarl is not the same thing. In the Norse context the distinction between jarls and kings did not become significant until the late 11th century and the early jarls would therefore have had considerable independence of action until that time. The position of Jarl of Orkney was eventually the most senior rank in mediaeval Norway except for the king himself.
Thorfinn Torf-Einarsson also known as Thorfinn Skull-splitter was a 10th-century Earl of Orkney. He appears in the Orkneyinga saga and briefly in St Olaf's Saga, as incorporated into the Heimskringla. These stories were first written down in Iceland in the early 13th century and much of the information they contain is "hard to corroborate".
Thorfinn Sigurdsson, also known as Thorfinn the Mighty, was an 11th-century Earl of Orkney. He was the youngest of five sons of Earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson and the only one resulting from Sigurd's marriage to a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland. He ruled alone as earl for about a third of the time that he held the title and jointly with one or more of his brothers or with his nephew Rögnvald Brusason for the remainder. Thorfinn married Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, daughter of Finn Arnesson, Jarl of Halland.
Sigurd Hlodvirsson, popularly known as Sigurd the Stout from the Old Norse Sigurðr digri, was an Earl of Orkney. The main sources for his life are the Norse Sagas, which were first written down some two centuries or more after his death. These engaging stories must therefore be treated with caution rather than as reliable historical documents.
The Mormaer of Caithness was a vassal title mostly held by members of the Norwegian nobility based in Orkney from the Viking Age until 1350. The mormaerdom was held as fief of Scotland and the title was frequently held by the Norse Earls of Orkney, who were thus a vassal of both the King of Norway and the King of Scots. There is no other example in the history of either Norway or of Scotland in which a dynasty of earls owed their allegiance to two different kings.
Paul Thorfinnsson and Erlend Thorfinnsson were brothers who ruled together as Earls of Orkney. Paul and Erlend were the sons of Thorfinn Sigurdsson and Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. Through Ingibiorg's father Finn Arnesson and his wife, the family was related to the Norwegian Kings Olav II and Harald II. They are both described as "tall, handsome men, shrewd and gentle, taking rather more after their mother's side of the family. Their lives and times are recounted in the Orkneyinga Saga, which was first written down in the early 13th century by an unknown Icelandic author.
Andrew Stewart was a 16th-century Scottish noble and cleric. He was the legitimate son of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl and Eleanor Sinclair, daughter of William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney. His paternal grandmother was Joan Beaufort, former queen-consort of Scotland. Andrew chose an ecclesiastical career, held a canonry in Dunkeld Cathedral and was rector of Blair parish church, a church under the control of the earls of Atholl.
Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum is a historical treatise written between 1073 and 1076 by Adam of Bremen, who made additions (scholia) to the text until his death . It is one of the most important sources of the medieval history of Northern Europe, and the oldest textual source reporting the discovery of coastal North America.
William the Old was a 12th-century prelate who became one of the most famous bishops of Orkney. Although his origins are obscure in detail, William was said to have been a "clerk of Paris". Saga tradition had it that William had been bishop for 66 years when he died in 1168, meaning that his accession to the bishopric would have been around 1102. There is no contemporary evidence of his episcopate until a letter of Pope Honorius II in 1128, which even then does not name William specifically, but rather only mentions a bishop holding office at the same time as Radulf Novell. He was however definitively in charge by December 1135 during the earldom of Earl Paul Haakonsson.
Alexander Bur was a 14th-century Scottish cleric. It is highly possible that Bur came from somewhere in or around Aberdeenshire, although that is not certain and is only based on the knowledge that Aberdeenshire is where other people bearing his surname come from in this period. He entered the service of King David II of Scotland sometime after 1343, perhaps as a member of David's exiled court at Château Gaillard. Although Alexander by this point in time already held prebends in both the bishopric of Aberdeen and the bishopric of Dunkeld, on that date King David petitioned Pope Clement VI for another canonry in the bishopric of Moray. Alexander had become a royal clerk and had obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law by 1350. By the latter date, upon the death of Adam Penny, Archdeacon of Moray, Alexander himself became Archdeacon.
Alexander Vaus [Vause, de Vaus] was a late 14th century and 15th century Scottish prelate. Said to have been the younger son of one Patrick Vaus, he apparently held "church livings" in Galloway as early as 1421.
Reinald Macer [also called Reginald] was a medieval Cistercian monk and bishop, active in the Kingdom of Scotland during the reign of William the Lion. Originally a monk of Melrose Abbey, he rose to become Bishop of Ross in 1195, and held this position until his death in 1213. He is given the nickname Macer in Roger of Howden's Chronica, a French word that meant "skinny".
Ragnhild Eriksdotter was the daughter of Eric Bloodaxe and his wife, Gunnhild. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, she was an ambitious and scheming woman who sought power through the men of the family of Thorfinn Torf-Einarsson, who was Earl of Orkney. The period after Thorfinn's death was one of dynastic strife.
John was an 11th-century prelate. According to the Saxon writer Adam of Bremen, historian of the archbishops of Hamburg, John was sent to Orkney by Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg, to succeed Thorulf as Bishop of Orkney. According to Adam, he had previously been consecrated as a bishop in "Scotland".
Adalbert was an 11th-century prelate. Having been consecrated elsewhere, he is said by the Saxon writer Adam of Bremen to have been sent to become Bishop of Orkney by his namesake, Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg. He is mentioned as the successor of Bishop John.
Scandinavian Scotland refers to the period from the 8th to the 15th centuries during which Vikings and Norse settlers, mainly Norwegians and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, and their descendents colonised parts of what is now the periphery of modern Scotland. Viking influence in the area commenced in the late 8th century, and hostility between the Scandinavian Earls of Orkney and the emerging thalassocracy of the Kingdom of the Isles, the rulers of Ireland, Dál Riata and Alba, and intervention by the crown of Norway were recurring themes.
Helga Moddansdóttir was the mistress of Haakon Paulsson who was Earl of Orkney from 1105–1123.
Alan Orr Anderson (1879–1958) was a Scottish historian and compiler. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh. The son of Rev. John Anderson and Ann Masson, he was born in 1879. He was educated at Royal High School, Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh.
Håkon Andreas Christie was a Norwegian architectural historian, antiquarian and author. Together with his wife, Sigrid Marie Christie he worked from 1950 on the history of Norwegian church architecture, particularly stave churches. Their research resulted in Norges Kirker which consisted of seven major volumes covering churches in Østfold, Akershus and Buskerud.
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.