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Eystein I of Hordaland (The Kalmar Union)

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Eystein I
Eystein I (The Kalmar Union).png
Eystein I
King of Hordaland
Reign 6th November, 1105 - 1115
Predecessor Magnus III Barefoot
Successor Sigurd I
Spouse Maria Ingesdatter
Issue Ragna Øysteinsdatter
Full name
Eystein Magnússon
House Fairhair
Father Magnus III Barefoot
Born c. 1088
Died 1115
Bergen, Hordaland

Dying in 1105 Magnus III Barefoot had left only illegitimate sons to succeed to his extended Hordaland realm which now stretched to Britannia and Ireland. The eldest, Eystein I, would be the first to succeed. He is often compared to his more dynamic half-brother and successor Sigurd I, the Crusader but retains a good domestic reputation in comparison.

The three half-brothers; Eystein, Sigurd and Olaf (III) divided Magnus's conquests between themselves. Eystein took Hordaland, with a considerable portion for the youngest, Olaf. Sigurd, having campaigned alongside his father in the west, took Magnus' western conquests; Orkney, Man and the Isles along with a vague overlordship of Ireland. Relations between the three appear to have been good however there was a dispute over Hordaland's involvement with crusading. It seems Eystein had been called upon by the Pope to travel to the Holy Land to support the newly established Kingdom of Jerusalem. However it was not Eystein who went but Sigurd, with a considerable number of Norse knights.

Therefore while Sigurd travelled to the Holy Land building a reputation with military deeds, Eystein stayed at home and made a conscious effort to improve the country. Various taxes, holdovers from Cnut I's time, where abolished to great acclaim. New churches and other large buildings were built across Hordaland and trade, especially with northern Anglian ports was promoted. He also made considerable improvements to Bergen, consolidating its status as capital. Eystein was described as wise and thoughtful

He also spent much time attempting to bring Magnus, the Earl of Lade, into the Hordalandic fold even visiting Magnus' court in Trondheim and Lofoten twice, but with little success. He was better at building good relations with Harald IV Kesja in Denmark and the other Estridsson kingdoms. He may have even fought the Wends alongside Harald.

In 1115 Eystein died during a wedding of one of his lords. He had a daughter with his wife Maria Ingesdatter but no male offspring, legitimate or not. Olaf had died two years previously and so messengers were sent to Sigurd in Orkney to take full control of the kingdom.

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