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Norway (The Once and Never Kings)

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Kingdom of Norway
875–1319 Kongeflagg.svg
 
Flag of Lapland TONK.png
Kongeflagg.svg Coat of arms of Norway (1924) no crown.jpg
Flag Coat of arms
Capital Bergen, Trondheim, Oslo
Languages Old Norse, Old Norwegian, Latin
Religion Official religion:
Norse Paganism (before 1015)
Roman Catholicism (after 1015)
Government Feudal Monarchy
King
 -  875–932 Harald I (first)
 - 1047–1066 Harald Hardrada (last)
History
 -  Established 875
 -  Disestablished 8 May 1319

The Kingdom of Norway was a monarchy located chiefly on the western coast of the Scandinavian peninsula. Founded by Harald Fairhair in 875 as a unified state, this unity was effectively broken in 1069. The rump state that existed afterward continued to remain until 1319, when Denmark invaded and effectively annexed it.

History

Foundation

Prior to the late Ninth Century, Norway had consisted of a collection of petty kingdoms, each vying for dominance over the others. In 872, Harald Fairhair, King of the petty kingdom of Vestfold, won a decisive victory at the Battle of Hafrsfjord over the opposing kings. This allowed Harald to claim the title "King of Norway".

Colonization

In 875, Harald asserted his rule over the Northern Albionic Isles, Orkney, and Shetland. Several later kings would extract tributes out of the Kings of Mann and Dublin.

Relations were also established with the fledgling Icelandic Commomwealth, created out of refugees from Haralds conquests. While the Norwegian kings made plans for the subjugation of Iceland, trade flourished between them. It was through this relation that Norway became the first country to learn of the existence of Vinland, and Eriksbjord beyond it. Norway would, like Iceland, would support the newfound colonies on the far side of the ocean when confidence that ships and crews would survive the voyage rose.

Decline

The decline of Norway is often stated to have begun in 970, when Harald Bluetooth wrestled control of Norway away from Harald II Greycloak. Though he only controlled Viken, in the southeast, and gave the rest to Haakon Sigurdsson, the Earl of Lade, the FairHair dynasty was usurped.

After the death of Harald Bluetooths son, Sweyn Forkbeard, the Fairhair heir, Olaf was restored to the throne. Though he himself was usurped by Sweyns own son, Cnut, in a bloodless invasion in 1028.

Cnuts rule in Norway was unpopular, however. In 1035, while Cnut was campaigning in Wessex, Olafs heir, Magnus, returned and began a rebellion. Cnuts regent in Norway, his son Sweyn Knutsson, was killed in the fighting, and Danish control over Norway was lost in the aftermath of Cnuts death at the Battle of Lincoln.

Magnus then looked beyond Norways borders for expansion, and set his sights on Denmark. He raided, then outright invaded, Denmark in 1042, being recognized heir to its King, Cnut III. When Cnut III died later that year, Denmark and Norway were united again, but this time based from Bergen instead of Copenhagen.

But Magnis would not rule unchallenged. His uncle, Harald returned from exile in the Kievian Rus and threatened to usurp his nephew. Unwilling to fight his uncle, Harald was made the heir to Norway, and became king when Magnus died in 1047.

While undoubtedly King in Norway, Denmark separated and Sweyn Estridsson became king. Harald authorized raids against Denmark in preparation for an invasion, looking to recreate Cnuts "North Sea Empire" centered on Norway. But after twelve years and little headway, Harald abandoned his plans for Denmark, instead turning to Jórvík.

Harald would invade Jórvík in September of 1066, but was killed in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. His death would mark the end of a United Norway.

Brothers War

Harald had failed to solidify the rules of his succession. While traditionally, his oldest son, Magnus, would've become king, both he and his brother Olaf had built power bases in the later years of their fathers rule. So when Magnus moved to have himself made king, Olaf challenged him.

Olaf had gained the support of the Svealandic Crown, which sent soldier to aid him. Denmark declared its support for Magnus, if only to ensure Svealand would be deprived of a decisive victory, and put Magnus in a position to be brought under Denmark's influence. The Norwegian Brothers War was waged for three years before the supply of troops and money ran dry. Now at a standstill, the brothers were forced to the negotiating table.

It was agreed to divide Norway based on their respective areas of control. Trondheim and north of it were given to Olaf, while south of Trondheim and the Norwegian crown went to Magnus.

Rump Norway

Magnus' descendants would become closely related to the Danish monarchs through a series of marriages, assuring them a powerful ally. When Denmark embarked on the Livonian Crusade, rump Norway followed. The Livonian Crusade was a rare case where both Norway and Lade would fight together.

By the late thirteenth century, however, Norway began declining even more steeply. Losing its Albionic islands to Dublin and Jórvík, it nearly also lost Orkney to Scotland, though the sudden death of its king prevented it.

Internal distractions also became a problem, as many nobles were uncomfortable with how much leverage Denmark was able to exert over it. The Norwegian kings faced no less than three pretenders during the course of the 1200s, each time requiring more Danish support.

Fall

In 1319, the last of Magnus' descendants died heirless. The nobles hurried to find a local with a legitimate claim, but before they could do so, Danish king Eric IV, using the close familial relationship between the two, decided to press his claim.

The Danish invasion saw only one battle, outside Oslo, where what Norwegian forces that could be mustered were utterly defeated.

After the conquest, what was rump Norway became an integral part of Denmark, allowing it complete control of the Øresund, and heightening tensions with the Hanseatic League.

Legacy

After the conquest of Norway, the title of "King of Norway" would be taken by the Danish monarchs. However, the Kings of Lade would also reinsert the title for themselves, as they claim to be the sole legitimate successor of Harald Fairhairs kingdom.

Today, "Norway" is often used as a loose geographical distinction, encompassing Lade and Danish Norway.

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