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Harald I of Norway

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(Redirected from Harald Fairhair)

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse:Haraldr hinn hárfagri, Icelandic:Haraldur hinn hárfagri, Norwegian:Harald Hårfagre) (c. 850 – c. 933) was the founder and first king (872930) over Norway.

He succeeded on the death of his father Halfdan the Black Gudrødsson in A.D. 860 to the sovereignty of several small and somewhat scattered kingdoms, which had come into his father's hands through conquest and inheritance and lay chiefly in south-east Norway.

The constitution of Norway is, according to a tale, somewhat of a love story. The tale begins with a marriage proposal that resulted in rejection and scorn from Gyda, the daughter of a neighbouring king. She said she refused to marry him before he was king over all of Norway. Harald was therefore induced to take a vow not to cut nor comb his hair until he was sole king of Norway, and that ten years later he was justified in trimming it; whereupon he exchanged the epithet "Shockhead" for the one by which he is usually known. Whether this is actually true is debatable; the name "fairhair" may simply mean that Harald had blonde hair.

In 866 he made the first of a series of conquests over the many petty kingdoms which then composed Norway, including those which had sworn allegiance to the Swedish king Erik Eymundsson. In 872, after a great victory at Hafrsfjord near Stavanger, he found himself king over the whole country. His realm was, however, threatened by dangers from without, as large numbers of his opponents had taken refuge, not only in Iceland, then recently discovered, but also in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides Islands and Faroe Islands, and in Scotland itself; and from these winter quarters sallied forth to harry Norway as well as the rest of northern Europe. Their numbers were increased by malcontents from Norway, who resented Harald's claim of rights of taxation over lands, which the possessors appear to have previously held in absolute ownership. At last Harald was forced to make an expedition to the west to clear the islands and Scottish mainland of Vikings. A great number of them fled to Iceland, which grew into an independent commonwealth, while the Scottish isles fell under Norwegian rule.

The latter part of Harald's reign was disturbed by the strife of his many sons. He gave them all the royal title and assigned lands to them which they were to govern as his representatives; but this arrangement did not put an end to the discord, which continued into the next reign. When he grew old he handed over the supreme power to his favourite son Eirik Bloodaxe, whom he intended to be his successor. Harald died in 933, having had eight wives and 23 children. Twelve of his sons became kings, two of them over the whole country.

Haralds children with Åsa, daughter of Håkon Grjotgardsson, Earl of Lade:

Children with Gyda:

  • Ålov Årbot (Haraldsdotter)
  • Rørek Haraldsson
  • Sigtrygg Haraldsson
  • Frode Haraldsson
  • (Torgils Haraldsson)¹

Children with Ragnhild Eiriksdotter of Jutland:

Children with Svanhild, daughter of Eystein Earl:

Children with Åshild, daughter of Ring Dagsson:

  • Ring Haraldsson
  • Dag Haraldsson
  • Gudrød Skirja
  • Ingegjerd Haraldsdotter

Children with Snøfrid, daughter of Svåse the Finn:

  • Halvdan Hålegg
  • Gudrød Ljome

Children with Tora Mosterstong, his maid:

Other children:

  • Ragnvald Rettilbeine
  • Sigurd Rise
  • Ingebjørg Haraldsdotter

Harald was the grandfather of Harald II.

Notes

  1. This Torgils Haraldsson is identical to Thorgest in Irish history. Snorre Sturlason, in his Heimskringla, claims that Torgils was Harald's son. This is now thought to be unlikely.


Preceded by:
King of Norway
872–930
Succeeded by:
Eirik Bloodaxe

Template:End boxda:Harald Hårfager de:Harald I. (Norwegen) fr:Harald Ier de Norvège is:Haraldur hárfagri nl:Harald I van Noorwegen nb:Harald Hårfagre nn:Harald I pl:Harald Pięknowłosy sv:Harald Hårfagre

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