Magnus I of Norway

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Magnus I (April/June 1024 – 25 October 1047), known as the Good or the Noble, was the King of Norway from 1035 to 1047 and the King of Denmark from 1042 to 1047. He was an illegitimate son of king Olaf II of Norway, but fled with his mother in 1028 when his father was dethroned. In 1035 he returned to Norway and was crowned king at the age of 11. In 1042, he was crowned king of Denmark. Magnus ruled the two countries until 1047, when he died under unclear circumstances.



Magnus was the illegitimate son of Olaf II of Norway, later known as Saint Olaf, by his English concubine Alfhild.[1] According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, he was named Magnus (Magnús in Old Norse) by Sigvatr Þórðarson, his father's Icelandic skald, after Charlemagne, Carolus Magnus in Latin.[2]

In 1028 Olaf was dethroned by the Danish king Cnut the Great, and Magnus and his mother went with Olaf into exile in Garðaríki.[1] Olaf died 1030; Magnus remained with his mother in exile in Kievan Rus'. However, after the death of Cnut the Great in 1035, the Norwegian noblemen did not want to be under Danish rule any longer, in particular the oppressive rule of Cnut's son Svein and his mother Ælfgifu (known as Álfífa in Norway).[3] Einarr Þambarskelfir and Kalf Arnesson, Magnus' father's ally and the enemy commander from Stiklestad, went together to Gardariki to bring the boy back to rule as King of Norway.[4]

King of Norway and Denmark

Magnus was proclaimed king in 1035, at 11 years of age, and Svein and his mother fled; Svein died shortly after. At first Magnus sought revenge against his father's enemies, but on Sigvat's advice he stopped doing so, which is why he became known as "good" or "noble".[4]

Another son of Cnut, Harthacnut, was on the throne of Denmark and wanted his country to reunite with Norway, while Magnus initiated a campaign against Denmark around 1040.[5] However, the noblemen of both countries brought the two kings together at the Göta River, the border between their kingdoms. They made peace and agreed that the first of them to die would be succeeded by the other.[6][7] In 1042 Harthacnut died while in England, and Magnus also became King of Denmark, in spite of a claim by Cnut's nephew Sweyn Estridsen, whom Harthacnut had left in control of Denmark when he went to England,[6] and who had some support.

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