Olof of Sweden

From Academic Kids

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Coin minted for Olof Skötkonung in Sigtuna

Olof of Sweden or Olof Skötkonung/Skottkonung (the meaning of the cognomen is disputed) was the son of Eric the Victorious and Sigrid the Haughty. He was probably born in the latter part of the 960s and he succeeded his father ca 994. Our knowledge of Olof is mostly based on Snorri Sturluson's accounts, which have been subject to criticism from source-critical scholars.

According to the Sagas, his father Eric the Victorious ruled together with Eric's brother Olof Björnsson. When Olof Björnsson died, Olof was proclaimed co-ruler instead of his cousin Styrbjörn Starke. This happened before he even was born. At his father's death, he inherited the throne of Sweden and became its sole ruler.

In a Viking expedition to Wendland, he had captured Edla, the daughter of a Wendish chieftain, and she gave him the son Emund (who was to become king of Sweden), and the daughter Astrid. He later married Estrid, a christian girl and she bore him the son Anund Jacob and the daughter Ingegerd Olofsdotter.

Olof is said to have preferred royal sports to war and therefore, Sweyn Forkbeard retook Denmark, which Olof's father Eric had conquered. Olof also lost the right to tribute which his predecessors long had preserved in the Baltic States.

In 1000, he allied with Sweyn Forkbeard, who was married to Olof's mother, and with the Norwegian Jarls Eric and Sven, against the Norwegian ing Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf Tryggvason died in the Battle of Svolder and Olof gained a part of Trøndelag as well as modern Bohuslän

When the Norwegian kingdom was reestablished by Olaf II of Norway, a new war errupted between Norway and Sweden. Many men in both Sweden and Norway tried to reconcile the kings. In 1018, the earl of Westrogothia, Ragnvald Ulfsson and the Norwegian king's emissaries Björn Stallare and Halte Skeggesson had arrived at the thing of Uppsala to sway the Swedish king to accept peace and as a warrant marry his daughter Ingegerd Olofsdotter to the king of Norway. The Swedish king was greatly angered and threatened to banish Ragnvald from his kingdom, but Ragnvald was supported by his foster-father Thorgny Lawspeaker, who was the wisest and most respected man in Sweden.

Thorgny rose and held a powerful speech where he reminded the king of the great Viking expeditions in the East that predecessors such as Erik Eymundsson and Björn had undertaken, without having the hubris not to listen to his men's advice. Torgny, himself, had taken part in many sucessful pillaging expeditions with Olof's father Eric the Victorious and even Eric had listened to his men. The present king wanted nothing but Norway, which no Swedish king before him had desired. This displeased the Swedish people, who was eager to follow the king on new ventures in the East to win back the kingdoms that payed tribute to his ancestors, but it was the wish of the people that the king make peace with the king of Norway and give him his daughter Ingegerd as queen.

Thorgny finished his speech by saying: if you do not desire to do so, we shall assault you and kill you and not brook anymore of your warmongering and obstinacy. Our ancestors have done so, who at Mula thing threw five kings in a well, kings who were too arrogant as you are against us.

These arguments convinced Olof to follow his people's advice. However, Olof showed no signs of wanting to keep his promise, but married his daughter to Yaroslav I the Wise instead, and then the Swedes became restless. However, the impending rebellion was settled when Olof accepted to share his power with his son Anund Jacob. Olof was also made to accept a settlement with Olaf II of Norway at Kungahälla, who already had been married (unbeknownst to Olof) with Olof's daugher, Astrid, through the Geatish jarl Ragnvald Ulfsson.

Olof was baptised, probably by the missionary Sigfrid the Holy, ca 1000, and he was the first Swedish king to remain christian until his death. However, according to Adam of Bremen, the fact that the vast majority of the Swedes were still pagan, forced him to limit the christian activities to the already christian border province of Westrogothia.

His death is said to have taken place, in the winter of 1020-1021.

Since the 1740s, it has been claimed that he was buried in Husaby in the christian part of his kingdom, but it should be noted that such identifications are speculation, and by no means uncontroversial.


Preceded by:
Eric the Victorious
and Olof Björnsson
King of Sweden
Succeeded by:
Anund Jacob

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Source

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Owl Edition

This article contains content from the Owl Edition of Nordisk familjebok, a Swedish encyclopedia published between 1904-1926 now in Public Domain.

See also

hu:Olof Skötkonung fi:Olavi Sylikuningas sv:Olof Skötkonung

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