Jens Nilssøn

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A portrait traditionally believed to be Jens Nilssøn, although it is now considered likely to be his successor as Bishop, Anders Bendssøn Dall

Jens Nilssøn (in Latin Joannis Nicolai) (1538–1600) was the Bishop of Oslo from 1580 to 1600, a poet, author and one of the Oslo humanists, a group of men who lived in Eastern Norway in the 16th century who through their scholarly studies represented the breakthrough of humanism in Norway.

As Bishop, he oversaw the completion of the Reformation in his diocese. He published several books in Latin and Danish and corresponded with other leading personalities of the time in Denmark-Norway, among them Tycho Brahe. Due to his prolific writing, he is the Norwegian person who lived before 1600 who is best known today. He is known for his visitation books, which paint a unique picture of Norway in the 16th century. He also wrote poetry in Latin, was interested in natural sciences, particularly astronomy, and had a passion for Norwegian prehistory. He preserved several medieval manuscripts, including Jǫfraskinna, which included parts of Heimskringla.

His brother, Anders Nilssøn, was the burgomaster of Oslo.


  • Brandrud, Andreas and Kolsrud, Oluf (eds.): To og Tredive Prædikener. Kristiania: Aschehoug, 1917.
  • Kraggerud, Egil (ed.): Johannes Nicolai. Biskop Jens Nilssøns latinske skrifter. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2004.
  • Kyrkjebø, Rune (ed.): Heimskringla I etter Jǫfraskinna. Bergen: Nordisk institutt, 2001. ISBN 82-497-0023-6
  • Nielsen, Yngvar (ed.): Biskop Jens Nilssøns visitatsbøger og reiseerindringer 1574–1597. Kristiania: A. W. Brøgger, 1885.
  • Nilssøn, Jens: Ligpredicken som udi erlig velbyrdig oc salig Henrick Brockenhusis Begraffuelse bleff predicket i Oensø Kircke i Norge den 16. Junij Aar etc. 1588. Kiøbenhaffn: Wingaard, 1590.
  • Nilssøn, Jens: In Genesin seu primum Mosi volumen proœmium. Rostochii: Imprimebat Stephanus Myliander, 1597.


Preceded by
Frants Berg
Bishop of Oslo
Succeeded by
Anders Bendssøn Dall