Alternate History

Olaf I of Hordaland (The Kalmar Union)

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Olaf I
1024px-Olav der Heilige07.jpg
St. Olaf
King of Hordaland
Reign 1015 - 1028
Predecessor Sveinn I & Harald III
Successor Sveinn II
Spouse Astrid Olofsdotter
Issue Magnus I

Wulfhild, Duchess of Saxony

Full name
Olaf Haraldsson
House Fairhair
Father Harald Grenske
Mother Åsta Gudbrandsdatter
Born 995
Ringerike, Viken
Died July 1030
Stiklestad, Lade

Olaf I Haraldsson, St. Olaf, was King of Hordaland from 1015 to 1028, returning it briefly to the rule of the Fairhair dynasty.

The great-great-great-granchild of Harald I Fairhair, Olaf's exploits as a viking warrior are recounted in various sagas. He is known to have campaigned in the Baltic, notably in Estonia, then in Denmark and then in England where he fought for Aethelred II against the Danish Invasions of Anglia. Apparently involved in the defense of London in 1014 which stopped the city falling to Cnut I he would not stick around to be rewarded by Edmund II in the newly-formed Wessex. Instead it is told that he planned to retake Hordaland and Viken and rule over a united Norway much as his ancestor had done so. With this aim he headed back to Scandinavia, stopping on the way in Normandy where he would be converted to Christianity and baptised in Rouen.

Returning to Hordaland in 1015 he received the support of several petty kings and declared himself king. Defeating Svealand's regents Sveinn I and Harald III at the Battle of Primsigð he took control of the kingdom and, to certain degree, the Earldom of Lade. He soon established control over Orkney too. This achieved he sought out peace with Svealand, marrying Olof I's daughter Astrid as part of the diplomacy.

Despite Olaf's warlike ways he would seen by later generations as the converter of Hordaland to Christianity. Olaf himself probably had little to do with it but allowed the English bishop Grimketel to organise the Hordalandic church. Indeed the conversion was probably a gradual process anyway rather than a state organised effort. Even so by his son Magnus I's reign Olaf was being promoted as a saint.

It took time to organise but by 1026 he had launched a campaign to oust the Danes from Viken, taking advantage of Cnut I's concentration on Anglian affairs. Despite Svealandic assistance the Hordalandic force would be defeated at Helgeå. This started a movement against Olaf's reign and by 1028 he had been forced out, not only by Cnut's invasion but also by his own lords. Hordaland would be returned to a regency under the Earl of Lade, Sveinn II for the time being.

Following this defeat Olaf and his family went into exile in the Kievian Rus'. Olaf attempted a final invasion in 1030 but was defeated once more and killed at Stiklestad. His son Magnus I would succeed where he failed in 1034, re-establishing the Fairhair dynasty and going on to conquer Viken and Denmark as well. Olaf's half-brother Harald Hardrada would also rule Hordaland in time. His ancestors honoured his canonisation and Olaf would become Hordaland's (and the Faroes') patron saint.

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