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Modern mascots of Medieval origin

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					                                            MODERN MASCOTS
                                            OF MEDIEVAL ORIGIN




      Haakon and Kristin, the mascots
      of the Games in Lillehammer,
      come from Norway’s medieval
      history and children’s literature.




                                           The two figures created to serve as official mascots for the
                                           Lillehammer Games offer appealing symbols both of the Olympic
                                           spirit and the traditions of the host city and country. Created
                                           through international collaboration, the pair are spirited and
                                           playful youngsters - bold and perhaps even a little naughty. Their
                                           dress and hair styles might look vaguely Viking to the outsider, but
                                           date in fact back to the 13th century and the era of medieval
      By Arild Vollan                      Norwegian greatness.


372
                                                  LILLEHAMMER 94




                                                little enthusiasm. She did not want a hus-
T heyfate wastwo individualswiththat time
whose
       are named Haakon and Kristin in
   memory of
              closely linked
                             of
                                  the his-
                                                band of lower rank than her father or
                                                maternal grandfather. But Nikolaus, a
tory of Lillehammer and Norway. Some            shrewd diplomat, reminded her that the
understanding of the complex Norwegian          kings of Sweden and Denmark were
civil wars in the Middle Ages is needed in      already married. So she would either have
order to follow the story of Prince Haakon      to marry a king so far away that her child-
- who was later to become king - and his        ren would never see Norway or - even
aunt, Princess Kristin. King Sverre Sigurd-     worse - a Norwegian farmer’s son. These
son, the chief of the “birkebeiners” or birch   alternatives had little attraction for the prin-
legs, who won this nickname because they        cess, and the thought of giving birth to the
were so poor that they had to bind birch        king of a united and consolidated Norway
bark around their feet and legs in place of     began to appeal to her. The marriage took
shoes, was a rebel leader who emerged as        place and helped to alter the political clim-
the victor from a generation of conflict dur-   ate of the country. But Kristin never
ing the 12th century against the clerical       became the mother of a king. She
party, called “baglers” from the Latin word     remained childless. Instead, the birkebeiner
bacula, a bishop’s crozier.                     Prince Haakon ascended the throne in 1217
                                                and reigned until 1263. Norwegians today
                                                look back on his long rule as the great age
     Sverre, the first birkebeiner king, who    of mediaeval Norway.
reigned from 1184 to 1202, was succeeded
by his illegitimate son Haxon Sveresson.             The mascots have been created in
The latter died suddenly after reigning a       their final form by Norwegian illustrators
mere two years, leaving another illegitimate    Kari and Werner Grossman in collaboration
heir to be born. This child was named           with Mexico’s Javier Ramirez Camputch-
Haakon after his father, and it is this         ano, who produced an initial version of
Haakon Haakonson who is the mascot for          Haakon.
the 1994 Winter Olympics.
                                                                                           A.V.

     Although King Sverre had defeated the
baglers in the civil war, the rival factions
persisted and the baglers were determined
to kill the infant prince. Loyal birkebeiners
carried the child to safety across the moun-
tains from Lillehammer and Haakon was
taken north to Trondheim, the main bastion
of his supporters, and he was able to grow
up there under protection.


     Bishop Nikolaus of Oslo was keen to
reconcile birkebeiners and baglers. A sym-
bol of this reconciliation would be a marr-
iage between King Sverre’s daughter, Prin-
cess Kristin, and the baglar claimant to the
throne, Filippus. When the birkebeiner
princess and the bagler chieftain had a son,
the bishop reasoned, this child would be
the sole king of Norway and bring the fac-
tional fighting to an end.


     Filippus was more than willing to listen
to this plan, but Princess Kristin showed


                                                                                                   373

				
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