The Swedish scholar and prelate, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), last Catholic archbishop of Uppsala, lived the latter half of his life in exile. His devotion to his country and his people never faltered, nor his determination to give them a glorious place on the European cultural map by his writings. On his justly famous Carta Marina, published in Venice in 1539, he promised a fuller account of the North and its marvels. This he accomplished in January 1555 when he issued from his own press in Rome his magnificent Historia de gentibus septenrionalibus. This quarto volume of 815 pages, divided into 22 books and a total of 778 chapters, was lavishly illustrated with some 480 woodcuts, most of them closely relevant to the technical matters discussed by the author. The book was an immediate success, and half a dozen editions appeared in the century after Olaus's death. It became even better known in an epitome published in Antwerp in 1558, which was also frequently reprinted and translated. This appeared in English in 1658, but it is only with the present version, complete with illustrations, that the whole work is made available to the English-reading world. It is indeed only the second full translation to appear in modern times, preceded a Swedish version published in four parts between 1909 and 1925. There is little history in the sense of chronological narrative in Olaus Magnus's Historia. It is rightly regarded as an ethnographic essay on an encyclopaedic scale, touching on a vast variety of topics, snowflakes and sea-serpents, elks and artillery, sables and saltpetre, watermills and werewolves. Much of it was culled from ancient authorities- it was a matter of patriotic pride to identify the Swedes as the only legitimate descendants of the Goths- but much of it was derived from the author's personal observations, especially those made on his early travels in North Sweden. His pioneering and sympathetic account of the Lapps and their way of life has attracted p

part 1

A Description of the Northern Peoples,

part 2|14 pages

A Preface by Olaus Magnus The Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, to His Description of The Northern Peoples and The World of The North, Etc.

part 3|74 pages

Olaus Magnus The Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, on The Way of Life, Physical Environment, and Warfaring of The Northern Peoples

chapter 1|1 pages

On Biarmia, its situation and character

chapter 2|2 pages

Finnmark and its peoples

chapter 3|1 pages

The seven strange brothers

chapter 4|1 pages


chapter 6|1 pages

On the names and effects of the winds

chapter 7|2 pages

On necessary knowledge of the winds

chapter 8|1 pages

On forecasting the nature of winds

chapter 9|2 pages

On necessary knowledge of winds

chapter 10|2 pages

On the violence of the wind Circius

chapter 11|1 pages

On the violence of whirlwind and tempest

chapter 14|2 pages

On winter circles and their effects

chapter 16|1 pages

On circles in the spring

chapter 17|2 pages

On semblances of the sun

chapter 19|3 pages

On the harshness of the cold

chapter 20|1 pages

On hoar-frosts and snowfalls

chapter 21|2 pages

On different kinds of ice

chapter 22|2 pages

On the different shapes of snow

chapter 23|2 pages

On snow castles built by young lads

chapter 24|1 pages

On horse-racing over the ice to win cloaks

chapter 25|2 pages

On men’s racing over the ice for a prize

chapter 26|2 pages

On lodgings upon the ice for travellers

chapter 27|2 pages

On crossing the ice among chasms

chapter 28|2 pages

On tools for dealing with ice

chapter 30|2 pages

On gravestones

chapter 31|1 pages

On the monuments of two brothers

chapter 32|2 pages


chapter 33|1 pages

On shadow clocks

chapter 34|2 pages

On staves

chapter 36|14 pages

On the alphabet of the Goths

part 4|55 pages

Book Two of Olaus Magnus the Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, on The Wonders of Nature in The North

chapter 37|2 pages

On burning waters

chapter 38|1 pages

On the mysterious nature of some mountains

chapter 39|1 pages

On the apparitions of drowned men

chapter 41|1 pages

On the sea rock named the Monk

chapter 43|1 pages

On the tide or ebb and flow of the Ocean

chapter 46|1 pages

On shipwrecks off Greenland

chapter 48|2 pages

More on Pygmies

chapter 50|1 pages

On harbours with iron rings

chapter 53|1 pages

On making one’s passage in the dark

chapter 54|1 pages

On lights, and torches of tar

chapter 55|2 pages

On the overflowing and assault of waters

chapter 56|1 pages

Three famous lakes of the Götar

chapter 57|1 pages

On caverns used for treacherous purposes

chapter 63|1 pages

On crystal and the magnet

chapter 64|1 pages

On the helmeted rocks

chapter 65|1 pages

On the narrows in rock-bound ports

chapter 66|1 pages

On rocky cliffs and a narrow passage

chapter 67|1 pages

On swift torrents

part 5|45 pages

Book Three of Olaus Magnus The Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, on The Superstitious Worship of Demons by The People of The North

chapter 73|1 pages

On the three greater gods of the Goths

chapter 74|2 pages

On three lesser gods

chapter 77|1 pages

On the rites and sacrifices of the Goths

chapter 79|1 pages

On the assault against the gods

chapter 80|2 pages

On the sister Fates and the nymphs

chapter 82|2 pages

On fighting against evil spirits

chapter 83|2 pages

On divination

chapter 85|2 pages

On sorceresses

chapter 86|2 pages

On the wizards and witches of the Finns

chapter 87|2 pages

On the magical implements of Bothnia

chapter 88|1 pages

On sea-wizards

chapter 90|2 pages

On the bound magician

chapter 91|2 pages

On punishment of witches

chapter 92|10 pages

On the services performed by demons

part 6|38 pages

Book Four of Olaus Magnus the Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, on The Wars and Customs of the Pagan Dwellers in the Wild and Their Neighbours

chapter 93|2 pages

Chapter One

chapter 98|2 pages

About markets on the ice

chapter 99|2 pages

On the marriages of Lapps by means of fire

chapter 100|1 pages

On dances of sighing or mourning

chapter 101|1 pages

On activities by moonlight

chapter 103|2 pages

On training in archery

chapter 104|1 pages

How the Lapps hunt

chapter 105|1 pages

How horses cross the snowy mountains

chapter 106|1 pages

On the perilous passage among the mountains

chapter 107|2 pages

On the law that ravens are to be killed

chapter 108|2 pages

On reverence for the aged

part 7|58 pages

Book Five of Olaus Magnus the Goth, Archbishop of Uppsala, on Giants

chapter 113|1 pages

Chapter One

chapter 117|2 pages

On his protection of the oppressed

chapter 118|2 pages

On the activities of this Starkather

chapter 119|2 pages

On the sum total of Starkather’s feats

chapter 121|2 pages

On the death of Starkather

chapter 123|2 pages

On another Haldan and his exploits

chapter 124|1 pages

On Oli the Brisk

chapter 129|2 pages

On Ragnar, nicknamed Shaggy-breeches

chapter 130|1 pages

On Alf, the defender of chastity

chapter 131|1 pages

On the stratagems of Fridlef

chapter 135|1 pages

More about Fridlef

chapter 136|1 pages

On a tug of war with a hoop

chapter 137|2 pages

On the single combat of champions

chapter 138|1 pages

On boxing gloves and gymnic contests

chapter 139|2 pages

On piracy by noble maidens

chapter 140|1 pages

On the warlike activities of women 1

chapter 143|2 pages

More on the same subject

chapter 145|10 pages

On the recommendation of chastity