hirðstjóri (ON) noun

The most senior representative of the Norwegian king in Iceland from the late thirteenth century until the end of the fifteenth century. A hirðstjóri is occasionally referred to as a lénsmaðr (see lænsmaþer). Usually there was only a single hirðstjóri present in Iceland, but anywhere between one and four could be active at a given time. The hirðstjóri had a range of responsibilities including the collection of royal fines from sheriffs (ON sýslumenn, see sysluman) and managing royal property in Iceland. They also carried out a number of judicial duties, such as presenting royal ordinances at the General Assembly and occasionally appointing judges.

In Iceland the title was replaced by the höfuðsmaðr (‘headman, leader’) or fógeti (see foghati) (the latter of which was unfortunately also at times used to refer to the hirðstjóri’s agent) by the end of the fifteenth century.

In Norway the hirðstjóri must once have had some connection to the king’s retinue (hirð), but the term ceased to be used there by around the 1390s (cf. Wærdahl 2011, 258). They may have held a kind of military rank similar to captain, and it is in this capacity that they appear in the Church Law of GuL.

captain OIce Js Kdb 4, 6
officer of the King’s bodyguard ONorw GuL Krb Refs:

CV s.v. hirðstjóri; Fritzner s.v. hirðstjóri; Hertzberg s.v. hirðstjóri; Imsen 2014; Jón Viðar Sigurðsson 2014; KLNM s.v.v. embedsindtægter, hirðstjóri, lensmann; Wærdahl 2011

  • ‘hirðstjóri’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/2157