Ranrike was the old name for a part of Viken, corresponding to southeast Norway (Oslofjord area) and the northern half of the modern Swedish province of Bohuslän
' is a Swedish traditional province, or landskap, situated in Götaland on the northernmost part of the country's west coast. It is bordered by Dalsland to the northeast, Västergötland to the southeast, the Skagerrak arm of the North Sea to the west, and the county of Østfold in Norway to the north...

 (roughly the physical Álfheimr
Álfheimr (region)
Alfheim is an ancient name for an area corresponding to the modern Swedish province of Bohuslän and the eastern half of the Norwegian province of Østfold.-About the region and its folk:...

of Scandinavian mythology). When folklore and culture is concerned the usage has been revived to refer to northern Bohuslän.


The name Ranrikeis sometimes said to have derived its name from Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

  goddess of the sea, Rán
In Norse mythology, Rán is a sea goddess. According to Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, in his retelling of the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, she is married to Ægir and they have nine daughters together...

.There is no clear etymology of Rán. As the Indo-Europeans did not have a word for 'sea', it may not be Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

, in which case it would be older than the Nordics in the region. Jordanes does give us a terminus ante quem for the use of Ragnaricii/Ranii: One of their kings, Rodwulf
Rodwulf was a Scandinavian chieftain who joined the Ostrogoths in Ravenna. He got tired of his own people and travelled south in order to have some adventure...

 (of the Ranii), had left his kingdom to join Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

 in Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...


There is a possible parallel in the name Hålogaland
Hålogaland was the northernmost of the Norwegian provinces in the mediaeval Norse sagas. In the early Viking Age, before Harald Fairhair, Hålogaland was a petty kingdom extending between Namdalen in Nord-Trøndelag and Lyngen in Troms.-Etymology:...

, if the name means "sacred land" or "land of the sacred". In any case, the position of Ragnaricii next to Raumaricii (Romerike) indicates that it is probably the same as Ranrike, believed to be named after the goddess of the sea, Rán
In Norse mythology, Rán is a sea goddess. According to Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, in his retelling of the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, she is married to Ægir and they have nine daughters together...

 (Ran-riki, "kingdom of Ran"). Another parallel supports this derivation: Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

's Saevo mountain range, probably meaning "sea land", refers in part to Ranrike (see under Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

). Moreover, Rán is the name of a dangerous goddess, who raises storms at sea and collects the drowned in her net. Such a name support the "dangerous island" etymology of Scandinavia. However, this pattern is only a web of speculation.


The Gothic scholar Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 mentions two peoples named the Aeragnaricii (3.23) and the Ranii (3.24) who lived in Scandza
Scandza was the name given to Scandinavia by the Roman historian Jordanes in his work Getica, written while in Constantinople around AD 551. He described the area to set the stage for his treatment of the Goths' migration from southern Sweden to Gothiscandza...

 (Scandinavia). Aeragnaricii appears in series. It is usually interpreted as a scribal error for *ac ragnaricii, "and the Ragnaricii". The latter word is easily open to translation, coming from two segments, riki "kingdom" and ragna "of the rulers", meaning the gods (see under Ragnarök
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures , the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water...

). Both words come from Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 *reg-, "rule".


In his Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

, Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

 relates how it first accepted the Swedish king Erik Emundsson as its ruler, only to be punished by the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair who spent a winter terrorizing the province from the sea.

See also

  • Germanic peoples
    Germanic peoples
    The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

  • Norsemen
    Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

Other sources

  • Sigurdsson, Jon Vidar (2008) Det norrøne samfunnet (Oslo:forlaget Pax) ISBN 978-8253031477
  • Norseng, Per G.
    Per G. Norseng
    Per Gudbrand Norseng is a Norwegian historian.He was born in Oslo, and took the cand.philol. degree at the University of Oslo in 1983 with the paper Administrativ prisfastsettelse i det norske middelaldersamfunnet...

    ; Nedkvitne, Arnved (2000) Middelalderbyen ved Bjørvika: Oslo 1000-1536 (Oslo: Cappelen) ISBN 978-8202191009
  • Helle, Knut (1964) Norge blir en stat, 1130–1319 (Universitetsforlaget) ISBN 82-00-01323-5
  • Rosbach, Johan Hammond (2002) Levende ord: Etymologi for alle (Oslo: Aventura) ISBN 978-8258802539
  • Taube, Evert (1982) Strovtag i Ranrike. En Bok for alla (Litteraturframjandet) ISBN 978-9174481747
  • Mierow, Charles Christopher (1915) The Gothic History of Jordanes: In English with an Introduction and a Commentary Reprinted 2006. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1889758770
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