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Olaf I of Gothenland (The Kalmar Union)

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Olaf I
Olaf I Goth (The Kalmar Union).png
Olaf I Hunger
King of Gothenland
Reign 1074 - August 1095
Predecessor Sweyn I
Successor Hakan Rode
Spouse Ingegerd of Hordaland
Issue Ulvhild Olafsdotter
Full name
Olaf Svendsen
House Estridsson
Father Sweyn Estridsson
Born c. 1050
Died August 1095

One of many illegitimate sons of Sweyn II, Olaf I had acted as regent in northern Gothenland for his father. Succeeding in 1074 he moved quickly to secure the rest of Gothenland before his brothers could react. Defeating a rebellion from his nobles on the way, he was crowned in 1075 as the kingdom's rightful monarch.

Chronically insecure and worried that his half-brother Cnut, who was constantly working to seize Denmark, would take Gothenland too Olaf sought alliances with the other Scandinavian states. He would marry Harald IV Hardrada's daughter Ingegerd securing alliance with Hordaland and campaigned with Inge I of Svealand as he attempted to secure that throne from a succession of claimants. He also forged links with the Slavic princes of the continent, just as his father had done before, as a brake on potential Imperial and Danish ambitions. Indeed he is said to have campaigned anonymously on behalf of the Wends against his own half-brothers.

Olaf received his epithet 'Hunger' thanks to a long period of famine during his reign caused by alternating drought and flooding. Though this affected much of Northern Europe it is Olaf that seems to have come in for most abuse and his ever restive nobles extracted many rights out of the weak king rolling back many of Sweyn II's laws.

On Olaf's death in 1095 Gothenland enters a 'dark age' which is little documented. How Olaf died is somewhat of a mystery too with some sources suggesting he may have committed suicide. After some struggle the throne passed to his son-in-law Hakan Rode.

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