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Archbishop Erik Valkendorf: From Nidaros to Rome in the Early Sixteenth Century.

November this year marks the 500th anniversary of Erik Valkendorf's death in Rome. A memorial plaque will be unveiled 28th November, the day he died, in the church S. Maria dell’Anima. The following day, the Norwegian Institute in Rome invites selected speakers to a one-day international conference exploring this multi-faceted prelate and the time and places in which he lived and died.

Image may contain: Art, Painting, Plant, Visual arts, Holy places.

Erik Valkendorf meets Sigbrit Willlums and Dyveke in Bergen, 1507. Detail of painting by Eilif Petersen, 1876. Photo: National Museum, Oslo.

In November 1522 Erik Valkendorf, the metropolitan archbishop of Nidaros, died in Rome. He had travelled to the Holy See to discuss King Christian II’s curtailment of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the realm of Denmark-Norway, and to get papal support in his fight against the expansive monarch. Arriving in Rome early in 1522, Valkendorf found the ambitious new basilica at the Vatican under construction and the chair of St. Peter vacant. It took almost a year before the newly elected Pope Hadrian VI made it to Rome and took up his office. Before the pontiff was ready to receive his archbishop from the far north, Valkendorf had left this world. The pope praised him posthumously for his loyalty and endurance in fighting for libertas ecclesiae, the freedom of the church.

The deceased archbishop had been a prolific and ambitious figure in political and ecclesiastical life in Denmark-Norway as well as in Europe at large. Valkendorf was a learned humanist, author, explorer, antiquarian, publisher, church restorer, and politician. The second to last archbishop of Norway, he was installed as head of the geographically vast see of Nidaros in 1510. When he died in Rome twelve years later, the ongoing Protestant Reformation was causing a political and religious avalanche in Europe, a development which he had observed with unease. Although the Protestant Reformation did not reach Norway during his reign, his conflict with secular power anticipated that of his successor, Olav Engelbretson, who had to flee the country on account of the Protestant king’s troops. Moreover, Valkendorf, both pioneer and traditionalist, was a reformer himself, representative of the evolving Catholic Reformation. Prospering and afflicted at the same time, he also emerges as a characteristic intellectual of his flourishing, but troubled time.

The event is now full-booked and registration is closed. 


Tags: Church History, Medieval Studies
Published Sep. 15, 2022 12:01 PM - Last modified Nov. 22, 2022 11:35 AM