The Old Västergötland Law


Äldre Västgötalagen (Old Västergötland law) is the oldest legal text written in Old Swedish in Latin script and the oldest of Sweden’s medieval provincial laws. The law was formulated around 1220 and was used in Västergötland in western Sweden. Manuscript B 59 in the National Library of Sweden is the only complete copy of the law and is Sweden’s oldest book. The manuscript is a composite of 77 leaves, consisting of three parts bound together. It was written mainly by four scribes and dates to the beginning of 1290s. In addition to the texts of the law, the manuscript contains three lists: of the Västergötland lawmen, of the kings of Sweden, and of the bishops of the Skara diocese in Västergötland. These lists were compiled in about 1240 and constitute the oldest surviving exposition of Swedish history. B 59 has the characteristics of a working book and probably was used in Skara Cathedral. It belonged to Councillor of State Hogenschild Bielke (1538–1605) at the end of the 1500s and subsequently to the national archives. It was acquired by the National Library in 1780.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Äldre Västgötalagen

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

77 leaves : parchment ; 19 x 15 centimeters


  • Shelfmark: B 59

Last updated: June 28, 2013