Online Encyclopedia

OLAF (II.)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 62 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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OLAF (II.) HARAt SS N (995–1030), king from 1016–1029, called during his lifetime " the Fat," and afterwards known as St Olaf, was born in 995, the year in which Olaf Tryggvesson came to Norway. After some years' absence in England, fighting the Danes, he returned to Norway in ro15 and declared himself king, obtaining the support of the five petty kings of the Uplands. In 1016 he defeated Earl Sveyn, hitherto the virtual ruler of Norway, at the battle of Nesje, and within a few years had won more power than had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors on the throne. He had annihilated the petty kings of the South, had crushed the aristocracy, enforced the acceptance of Christianity throughout the kingdom, asserted his suzerainty in the Orkney Islands, had humbled the king of Sweden and married his daughter in his despite, and had conducted a successful raid on Denmark. But his success was short-lived, for in 1029 the Norwegian nobles, seething with discontent, rallied round the invading Knelt the Great, and Olaf had to flee to Russia. On his return a year later he fell at the battle of Stiklestad, where his own subjects were arrayed against him. The succeeding years of disunion and misrule under the Danes explain the belated affection with which his countrymen came to regard him. The cunning and cruelty which marred his character were forgotten, and his services to his church and country remembered. Miracles were worked at his tomb, and in 1164 he was canonized and was declared the patron saint of Norway, whence his fame spread throughout Scandinavia and even to England, where churches are dedicated to him. The Norwegian order of knighthood of St Olaf was founded in 1847 by Oscar I., king of Sweden and Norway, in memory of this king. The three remaining Norwegian kings of this name are persons of minor importance (see NORWAY: History).
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