Magnus III
Magnus III Horda (The Kalmar Union).png
Magnus III 'Barefoot'
King of Hordaland
Reign March, 1094 - 6th November, 1105
Predecessor Haakon III
Successor Eystein I
Spouse Margaret of Scotland
Issue Eystein I

Sigurd I the Crusader
Olaf III

Full name
Magnús Óláfsson
House Fairhair
Father Olaf II
Mother Tora?
Born 1073
Died 6th November, 1105
Sala, Svealand

The only child of Olaf II Kyrre, albeit illegitimate, Magnus III 'Barefoot' reversed his father's peaceful policies massively expanding Hordaland's sphere of influence westwards, intruding on the Norse-Manx and Irish kingdoms and virtually dictating Hordaland's foreign policy for the next six centuries.

It appears Magnus may have been campaigning in Scotland at the time his father died. The sources are confused about the timings but he could have been helping Donald III take the throne of Scotland, a service which gave Magnus control of the Suðreyjar

Some parts of Hordaland recognised him immediately, others supported his cousin Haakon Magnusson and Haakon took advantage of Magnus's absence, taking effective control. Haakon's death in 1094 may have prevented a larger civil war, as it was Magnus would only have to defeat individual lords and one unfortunate to secure his unchallenged rule. He also reached out to Lade, Viken and Denmark, eager to reassure his neighbours he had no designs on their lands. He would confer the same promise on Anglia too in time as it fell once more under Danish control. With his power total, he ordered new taxes and started his great campaign in the west.

The Norse lands of Suðr had been ruled by the Norse-Gael Godred Crovan until his death in 1095 leaving a power vaccuum. Magnus sent a Hordaland lord Ingemund to be his vassal king however he was soon killed. This appears to have spurred Magnus into direct action. In 1097 he set sail for Orkney carting its earls away as prisoners and installing his 8-year old son Sigurd as earl. Raids on the western isles followed and then Mann was invaded, with Godred's son Lagmann defeated and expelled. From here he may have intended an invasion of Dublin however paused, probably not wanting to over-extend himself. He certainly appeared to want to hold Mann rather than allow it revert to semi-vassal status; organising immigration from Hordaland to Mann and rebuilding its forts.

Welsh lords took advantage of Magnus's fleet and army asking for assistance and it was here that the Hordalandic forces first tangled with those of Wessex. Edgar II had pushed Wessexian influence northwards, aiming for domination of Wales and Ireland. Magnus defeated a Wessex force at Ynys Mons and effectively conquered the island for himself. He would receive gifts from the Welsh lords, and to the North the new king of Scotland, Edgar, ceded almost all of western coast rather than face him in battle (though it is equally possible Edgar was simply recognising he had no authority there anyway). He would also marry Edgar's sister Margaret. Magnus continued to fortify his new realm before returning to Hordaland in 1099.

Buoyed with confidence Magnus turned his attentions to Svealand apparently aiming to conquer all Svealandic land north of Lake Vänern on a trumped-up claim and following considerable success the Svealanders inflicted a heavy defeat. Eric I of Denmark called a peace to calm tensions. Magnus promised to respect the ancient borders but was given nominal control of the then Svealandic province of Dalsand, probably promising to uphold Inge's kingship along the border with Estridsson Gothenland.

With this campaign concluded Magnus set his sights on Ireland once more, landing again on Mann in 1102 to receive diplomats and reinforcements, possibly also negotiating with lords in the north of Anglia. Ireland at the time was heavily divided between petty kings however the most powerful, Muirchertach Ua Briain, the king of Munster, recognised he could use Magnus to dispose of his other rivals and soon arranged marriage alliances with him recognising Magnus' lordship over Dublin and Fingal.

In August 1103 Muirchertach appeared to try and get rid of Magnus after a failed battle at Mag Coba against Dumnall of Ailech, but Magnus was made aware of the ploy by his Dublin vasals. Magnus would subsequently confront Muirchertach at the Battle of Kincora, killing him and receiving his kinsmen's homage. With Murichertach's death the title of High King of Ireland passed albeit uncertainly to Leinister.

This victory gave Dublin its independence though left its lords in a uncertain position: who did they owe their fealty to, Leinister or Hordaland? Magnus claimed overlordship of Ireland but did not exercise power, indeed it is odd that Magnus did not push for outright control though perhaps he was again worried about overextending. Another programme of fort building kept him busy until he could return to Hordaland in 1104.

In 1105 Inge I of Svealand died. His successor Philip repudiated the treaty with Magnus provoking him into invading once more. In November he was cut down in battle at Sala. He would be succeeded by his illegitimate son Eystein I who ruled jointly with his equally illegitimate half-brother Olaf III. Sigurd continued to rule as 'King of the Isles', as well as going on crusade, until his elder brothers' deaths; whereupon he took control of Hordaland too. His (again illegitimate) daughter Ragnhild married Harald IV of Denmark. Magnus and Margaret's only legitimate child, Matilda, would marry Henry I of Wessex. Meanwhile a power vacuum soon appeared in Ireland and it succumbed to another round of internecine warfare.