Haakon I of Norway

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Haakon I (Old Norse: Hákon Aðalsteinsfóstri, Norwegian: Håkon Adalsteinsfostre), (c. 920–961), given the byname the Good, was the third king of Norway and the youngest son of Harald Fairhair and Thora Mosterstang.[1]

Contents

Early life

King Harald determined to remove his youngest son out of harm's way and accordingly sent him to the court friend, King Athelstan of England. Haakon was fostered by King Athelstan, as part of a peace agreement made by his father, for which reason Haakon was nicknamed Adelstenfostre.[2] The English king brought him up in the Christian religion.

On the news of his father's death King Athelstan provided Haakon with ships and men for an expedition against his half-brother Eirik Bloodaxe, who had been proclaimed king.

Reign

Upon his arrival back in Norway, Haakon gained the support of the landowners by promising to give up the rights of taxation claimed by his father over inherited real property. Eirik Bloodaxe soon found himself deserted on all sides, and saved his own and his family's lives by fleeing from the country. Eirik jad fled to the Orkney Islands and later to the Kingdom of Jorvik, eventually meeting a violent death on Stainmore, Westmorland, in 954 along with his son, Haeric.

In 953, Haakon had to fight a fierce battle at Avaldsnes against the sons of Eirik Bloodaxe. The battle is said to have been at the Bloodheights (Blodheia) which gained its name from this event. Haakon won the battle at which Eirik's son Guttorm died. One of Haakon's most famous victories was the Battle of Rastarkalv (near to Frei) in 955. By placing ten standards far apart along a low ridge, he to gave the impression his army was bigger than it actually was. He managed to fool Eirik’s sons into believing that they were out-numbered. The Danes fled and were slaughtered by Haakon’s army. The sons of Eirik returned in 957, with support from the Danish king, Gorm the Old. But again they were defeated by Haakon's effective army system.[3]

Haakon was frequently successful in everything he undertook except in his attempt to introduce Christianity, which aroused an opposition he did not feel strong enough to face. So entirely did even his immediate circle ignore his religion that Eyvindr Skáldaspillir, his court poet, composed a poem, Hákonarmál, on his death representing his welcome by his ancestors' gods into Valhalla.

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