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Haakon I of Hordaland (The Kalmar Union)

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Haakon I
Haakon I Horda (The Kalmar Union).png
Haakon I
King of Hordaland
Reign 934 - 961
Predecessor Eirik I Bloodaxe
Successor Harald II Greycloak
Full name
Haakon Haraldsson
House Fairhair
Father Harald I Fairhair
Mother Thora Mosterstong?
Born c. 920
Died 961

As the reign of Eirik I Bloodaxe infuriated more and more of his sub-kings his half-brothers began to challenge his rule. Even before the Battle of Haugar which decisively turned the tables, his rule looked vulnerable. Into the western fjords came Eirik's younger half brother, Haakon I, possibly only 14 years old at the time, and without much effort, stole the kingdom from under his nose.

He had been brought up in the English court and was sometimes referred to as Haakon Adalsteinfostre after his foster-father Aethelstan. His biographers tend to see this as Harald Fairhair protecting his favoured son from Norway's often violent politics and his multitude of half-brothers, but he was possibly more of hostage to secure a tentative peace between England and Norway. Whatever his reason for being in England when it came to overthrowing Eirik's rule he had virtually no ties to the lords in Norway. When it came to his own invasion, earnestly supported by Aethelstan who mistrusted Eirik, he was largely reliant on the support of the Earls of Lade and More.

Still, Eirik's own standing in his western territories was dangerously low even before Haugar and it did not take much for the lords to rebel completely accepting Haakon as king in his place. Blocked by his half-brother Olaf from taking the whole of Norway Haakon's power base remained in Hordaland although he remained largely dependant on Lade and More for continued support and legitimacy. His actual rule over the eastern parts of Hordaland was shaky at best and frequent clashes with Olaf over authority there did not help matters. Many freemen in the middle territories, rather than having to pay taxes to two sets of lords, simply upped and joined the exodus to other Norse communities in Britannia, Eire or Iceland.

Haakon's rule was further undermined by his attempts to spread Christianity through Hordaland. He had been brought up in the Christian faith by the English court yet the majority of his lords still venerated the old Norse gods and were downright hostile to being told what to do. Attempts to set up a missionary diocese at Nidaros (Trondheim) failed and the city fell under the Earl of Lade. Increasingly Haakon spent his time at Avaldsnes, which his father had favoured too, or at Fitjar.

As well deal with incessant domestic troubles Haakon was often threatened from abroad. The sons of Eirik; Guttorm, Gamle, Harald and Sigurd, frequently chanced their luck at dislodging Haakon. Guttorm died in an attempted invasion in 953. The others, with Danish assistance tried in 955, 957 and 961. At this last attempt Haakon stubborn defenses held at the Battle of Fitjar, but he was mortally wounded. The eldest of the surviving Eirikssons, Harald was proclaimed king.

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