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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe

 

Norway (Norge) (Scando-Germanic)
Incorporating the Eunix, Ranii, & Taetel

Much of the area in Europe which makes up modern Norway has been occupied since the end of the last ice age by Sámi groups and the preceding hunter-gathers clans which they absorbed. Following the arrival in the third millennium of Finno-Ugric tribes (which added Kvens and Finns to the mix) and then also Indo-Europeans, the southern section of Norway became home to various Germanic groups, ancestors of today's Scandinavians alongside the absorbed indigenous populations.

FeatureThe birth of the modern Norwegian nation took place following the Viking period, along with the simultaneous arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia and Fennoscandia. Before that, the Scandinavians were contained entirely within the southernmost third of early Sweden and Norway. The rest was part of a poorly-defined territory known as Kvenland, which stretched all the way east into modern Russia (see the feature link, right, for an examination of the origins of 'Scandinavia' as a name).

What is known today as Norway (or Norge to its own inhabitants) began as Norvegr, meaning 'the way north'. The Komsa culture of the Mesolithic saw the earliest habitation here as the ice age glacier retreated. Following the gradual unification of the country from various petty Norse kingdoms it came to be called 'Noregr'.

During the Middle Ages this gradually became 'Noreg' before ending up with the current 'Norge'. Another, rarer name during the Viking period was 'Norrmannaland', land of the northmen, but this was used mainly by foreigners.

As with Denmark and Sweden, the rulers of Norway (the Norsemen) emerged from legendary origins. There are less ambiguities and contradictions in Norway's reignal list than there are in Sweden's, probably because it starts much later in time (with the exception of Sæming of Hålogaland and Lade).

The only uncertainty here is over the first known ruler, who is ascribed two sets of dates by differing sources. It seems to be fairly certain that Norway's royal line was founded by a refugee king from the early kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

In the timeline below, alternative dates are shown in red text alongside relevant entries. Rulers with a lilac backing are semi-mythical. Halfdan the Black is the earliest confirmed ruler of large swathes of Norway, and his resting place is usually assigned to a large burial mound in Norway.

Those kings who ruled before him are generally though to have controlled only limited parts of modern Norway, and sometimes only very small areas of territory. However, if the list of names is to be believed then the small, regional kingdom which was founded by the aforementioned Swedish exile was the birthplace of Norway's monarchy.

This regional kingdom bordered the native inhabitants of Kvenland until late in the Viking age, when it began to expand northwards. The Norwegians assimilated the westernmost section of this territory much more quickly than the neighbouring Swedes could absorb 'their' part of it, although the people in Hålogaland may have been coastal migrant Norse from an early point, or possible early descendants of ancient Kvens, or most likely a mixture of the two.

It was the mid-sixth century Eastern Roman historian, Jordanes, who mentioned various tribes in central and southern Norway. These included the Adogit, Arochi, Augandzi, Eunixi, Grannii, Ranii, Raumarici, Rugii, and Taetel. Most of them are covered on pages which detail later kingdoms in the relevant regions.

Three, though, are harder to pin down or link to later kingdoms. The 'eu' of the Eunix is in other spellings shown as a 'y' such as, for example, the Eudos, better known as Jutes but without the French 'j' sound, and a 'y' sound instead: 'Yutes'. So the Eunixi may instead have been the Yunik, Yunek, Yunec, Iunik, or similar.

Attempts to pinpoint their location seem to place them close to - or within - the later borders of Rogaland. Rudolf rules the Ranii until he went to seek adventure, while the Taetel name probably contains an '-el' suffix, leaving 'Taet'. Generally, t-[vowels]-t is the sound pattern used by the Teutons, but that name breaks down as 'teut' plus '-on' (definite article), meaning 'the teut' (the tribe, or the family).

Scandinavia

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson and Andreas von Millwall, from Gautreks Saga, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, from The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Jordanes, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), and from External Links: Kvenland (a detailed overview of the existence of Kvenland before it was absorbed into Norway, Sweden, and Finland, although with some content which is of dubious reliability), and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and Icelandic, Faeroese, Old Norse (Symbol Codes).)

Nori / Nór / Norr

Son of Danp, who was the brother-in-law of Domar of Upsal.

Nori is the legendary founder of the kingdom of Norway. He is mentioned in several medieval Scandinavian texts, which establish that he is either the son of Danp (who himself is the brother-in-law of Domar of Upsal), or one of the sons of King Ypper of Upsal (the other two being Dan, who later rules Denmark, and Østen, who later rules the Swedes (possibly the Östen of the late sixth century)).

Geilo in eastern Norway
Norway's origins lie in regional petty kingdoms which were challenged in the mid-seventh century by an exiled member of the Swedish royal house, with full unification being the eventual outcome

Nori is also claimed as a descendant of King Fornjótr of Kvenland. Perhaps he represents the beginnings of any notable kingship in Norway. However, apart from the tribes mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith, the first kingdoms are petty, coastal territories such as Agder, Hålogaland, Oppland (this being the exception in that it is inland), Ringerike, and Rogaland.

Unfortunately the name Nór or any of its variants is quite preposterous. It means 'north'. Even the modern name of Norway is a good translation of Nor∂vegr, the 'north way'. The name refers to a sea lane which heads into the north. All long distance travel in early Norway was by boat. The word 'nor∂' simply means 'north' while 'veg' means 'way'. They are exact cognates.

Map of Scandinavia c.AD 100
Part of the reason behind the relatively late appearance of Norse petty kingdoms could be its comparative remoteness from the core Germanic settlement and early incubation region to the east, as demonstrated by this map of around AD 100 (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Raum

Son. Ruler in south-western Norway. Possibly in Thelemark?

fl late 400s

Gard Agdi / Garðr Agði

Brother. Father of the founder of Rogaland.

c.480s?

The Swedish princes, Jorund and his brother Eric, remain on their warships while Hugliek is king of the Swedes, and they prove to be great warriors. They maraud in Norway where they fight and capture King Gudlog of Hålogaland, an early appearance of Norsemen in this northern territory which must have been occupied solely by Kvens until very recently. The princes hang Gudlog at Stomones and allow his men to raise a mound over him.

c.500

The Germanic Gloms are mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith. They are probably located along the River Glomma (or Glåma) in south-western Norway - the country's longest river. Seemingly no sixth or seventh century Norse kingdom emerges which bears a variant of their name, making it possible that their tribal territory is later cut up into segments by various kingdom creations. The Heatho-Reams are also mentioned, who form the later kingdom of Raumarike.

A Swedish borg of the type used on Oland island
This model at Kalmar County Museum shows the layout of the typical borg, with high walls and limited entrance points (although without the Roman gates), food stores inside the walls and a temporary village structure in the centre, presumably for times of need or perhaps the depths of winter

early 500s

Roduulf / Rodwulf

King of the Ranii. Abandoned them to join the Ostrogoths.

550s

According to Jordanes, the tribe of the Adogit live in the far north, while the Grannii (Grenland), Augandzi (Agder), Eunixi, Taetel, Rugii (Rogaland), Arochi (Hördaland, possibly linked to the Charudes), and Ranii occupy central and southern Norway at this time, along with the Raumarici (the later kingdom of Raumarike) close to modern Oslo.

Roduulf rules the Ranii until, apparently despising his own kingdom and seeking adventure (or perhaps being exiled and forever bitter about it!), he flees to join Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. The Adogit of the far north could be a form of háleygir, possibly linking them to the later petty Norse kingdom of Hålogaland, which is probably still part of Kvenland at this time outside of a few coastal ports.

fl c.580s

Koll

(A) 'King of Norway', according to Saxo Grammaticus.

According to Saxo Grammaticus, Koll is killed by Horvendil, Danish governor or prince of Jutland. He appears to be only one of several minor kings in Norway. A series of minor kingdoms seem to have sprung up along the south-western coastline of Norway by this time.

Jutland
Jutland was governed as a principality during the early Danish period in the Cimbric peninsula, but may have begun life as an independent Danish kingdom

Many of the kings of these early Petty Kingdoms are known primarily from early Norse sagas, supplemented by patches of other surviving information. Some of this, such as the writings of Saxo Grammaticus, probably uses the sagas as their basis, or at least tries to make sense of some of the more mythological episodes in the sagas.

Petty Kingdoms (Norway)

The birth of the modern Norwegian nation took place following the Viking age, along with the simultaneous arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia and Fennoscandia. Initial settlement and the spread of the early kingdoms largely followed the rivers, with inland areas being only sparsely inhabited. During this early emergence, the Scandinavians were contained entirely within the southernmost third of what is now Sweden and early Norway.

The rest was part of a poorly-defined (and poorly understood) territory known as Kvenland, which stretched all the way east into modern Russia. As with early Denmark and Sweden, the rulers of Norway (the Norsemen) emerged from legendary origins, but the royal house which eventually dominated was probably founded by a refugee noble from the kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

All of the kings of early Norway are known primarily from Norse sagas, supplemented by patches of other surviving information. Some of this, such as the writings of Saxo Grammaticus, probably used the sagas as their basis, or at least tried to make sense of some of the more mythological episodes in the sagas. Despite this, the mist around early events can be parted to reveal a list of petty kings of Norway and their various heroic deeds.

Shown below are some names which cannot be placed in definite kingdoms, but where those kingdoms can be properly documented all of the relevant regional information is shown there. These kingdoms include Agder, Alfheim, Finnmark, Firdafylke, Hadeland, Hallingdal, Hålogaland, Hedmark, Hördaland, Møre, Naumudal, Oppland, Ramsta, Raumarike, Ringerike, Rogaland, Sogn, Solor, Söndmör, Thelemark, Throndhjem, Värmland, Vestfold, Vestmar, Vingulmark, and Voss.

None of the sagas are especially strict with their chronology, making any firm dating of kings next to impossible. As an example, Hrólf Kraki of the Danes is claimed in Gautreks saga as a contemporary of Adils of the Swedes. Vikar, king of Agder in Norway is also claimed as a contemporary, seemingly contradicting other mentions of him which seem to place him a century later.

Gautrek himself, king of Götland, is also placed in the same generation as Adils, and is thought to flourish around the 620s. Chronology is clearly not especially strict in the sagas.

Scandinavia

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson and Andreas von Millwall, from Gautreks Saga, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, from The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Jordanes, from The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), from The Heimskringla: Or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, Volume 1, from Glymdrapa, Hornklofe, from Saga: Six Pack 6, A Scandinavian Sextet (various authors), and from External Links: Kvenland (a detailed overview of the existence of Kvenland before it was absorbed into Norway, Sweden, and Finland, although with some content which is of dubious reliability), and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and Visit Norway.)

c.600 - 630?

Following the death of Stóvirk (Stórvirkr), his son Starkad is brought up in the court of Harald, king of Agder, along with Harald's son, Víkar. King Herthjóf (Herþjófr) of Hördaland makes a surprise attack on the kingdom one night and kills Harald, taking Víkar hostage so that the young king's subjects remain subjugated.

Herthjóf is the grandson of Fridthjóf the Bold, the main protagonist in Fridthjófs saga ins frækna. Vikar waits some years before gathering some men and striking back, killing Herthjóf and regaining his kingdom, along with some of the lands of his fallen oppressor.

Troll's Tongue (Trolltunga)
The 'Troll's Tongue' (Trolltunga) is a remarkable geological feature which lies in the Odda municipality of modern Norway, part of a county by the name of Hördaland - inherited from the Norse kingdom of the same name

Now that he has been restored to his rightful inheritance, Vikar of Agder kills Herthjóf's brother, King Geirthjóf of Oppland, at the First Battle of Telemark. He also gains Thelemark itself from Geirthjóf's other brother, Fridthjóf, after the Second Battle of Telemark. In this Vikar is aided by King Óláf the 'Keen-Eyed' of Nærríki in Sweden and by Starkad.

Unfortunately, Vikar is subsequently killed by Starkad in order that the latter might 'gain the blessings of Odin', which sounds suspiciously like an attempted coup.

c.620s?

The Swedes control of areas of Norway at this time, suggesting increasing Swedish power, but also the likelihood that there is something worth conquering and ruling in Norway. Many minor kingdoms are known, but little is recorded of their history or rulers outside of early sagas until they come into contact with the Yngling kings, and are subsequently conquered or absorbed.

Map of Norway
This map shows a host of the many petty Norwegian kingdoms in eighth and ninth century Scandinavia, most of them arranged along the coastline, although penetration into the interior is clearly beginning (click or tap on map to view full sized)

623 - 647?

Ingjald Illrade

Son of Anund of Upsal. King of (part of) Norway and Sweden.

fl c.620s

Sighvat

King of Aatundaland. A minor king. No successor?

fl c.620s

Yngvar / Ingvar

King of Fiadryndaland. A minor king. Successor?

c.655

At a time at which the kings of the Denes are conquering his homeland, Olaf Tretelgia is said to flee the Swedish kingdom and, settling in Norway, founds its first (historical) royal house.

However, although perhaps dominant in Norway, Olaf cannot be said to be the ruler of a single kingdom. Instead he creates a kingdom on the border between modern Norway and Sweden called Värmland.

The historical existence of his descendants of the eighth and early ninth centuries is doubted by some scholars, but the names probably reflect real persons, even if the stories surrounding them may be fanciful. It is Olaf's line which soon marries into the ruling family in the nascent Vestfold kingdom to dominate Norway.

Värmland in Sweden
Today Värmland is located in western-central Sweden, but in the Viking age it was a border territory which was often more Norse than Swedish

fl c.655 - ?

Olaf / Olav Tretelgia ('Tree-cutter')

Former king of the Yngling Swedes. Founded Värmland.

c.660s/670s?

Hedmark borders the kingdom of the Swedes in the south-east of Norway, (the north-eastern section of modern Østlandet). The kingdom is now either conquered by Halfdan Hvitbeinn (son of Olaf Tretelgia) or he gains it following the death of his father-in-law, Eystein Haardaade, king of Oppland.

On its western flank Oppland also borders Hedmark ('opp' or 'upp' meaning highlands or upper countries, the highlands next to Hedmark).

fl c.660s?

Ingjald Olafsson / Ingiald

Son. King of Värmland. Died.

c.670s?

Starting out from his stronghold in Soløyjar, Halfdan Hvitbeinn becomes one of pre-unification Norway's most powerful kings. Having obtained Hedmark and then Oppland, he also conquers Hadeland, Toten (a minor kingdom within Oppland), and part of Vestfold.

In addition he inherits Värmland (which had been founded by Olaf Tretelgia on the border between the Swedes and Norway about AD 655) upon the death of his half-brother, Ingjald Olafsson.

King Ingjald Illrade of the Swedes
Olav Tretelgia 'Tree-Cutter', son of the Ingjald Illrade who slaughtered his own kin as shown in this engraving, was ousted from his inheritance by a Danish invasion so that he had to found his own small territory on the border with the Norwegian kingdoms

late 7th century

Halfdan Hvitbeinn / Halfdan I 'Whitelegs'

Brother. King of Hedmark. m Åsa, dau of Eystein of Oppland.

c.700?

The original line of 'kings' of Kvenland ends with the father of Gor Thorrasson 'Sea King'. The appellation of 'Sea King' to subsequent names, from Gor to his great-grandson, Sveidi, suggests that they lose or surrender their inheritance as Kven kings and rule the seas instead, eventually ending up as minor lords in Norway.

Skjöld

King of Varna. A 'great warlock'.

fl c.700s

Eystein I Halfdansson / Eystein Vart

Son of Halfdan. King of Raumarike. m Hilde, dau of Eric.

Eystein may inherit the thrones of Raumarike and Vestfold from his father-in-law, Eric Agnarson of the Vestfold kingdom. However, his own expansionist skills prove to be limited, and he is killed by Skjöld (apparently a great warlock) while pillaging in Varna (location unknown).

Vestmar (Westmare or Grenland) is a minor coastal kingdom which is part of the larger region of Grænafylket (or Grenafylket), situated within the modern county of Telemark (formerly Thelemark) in the south-west of Norway. Dag's daughter, Liv, marries Halfdan hinn Mildi, son of Eystein Vart and king of Raumarike and Vestfold.

Vestmar is seemingly added to Halfdan's territory, probably upon Dag's death. Called 'the Mild' he apparently well rewards his followers with gold where other kings would use silver, but is a parsimonious host at the feasting table.

760

Kvens and Norse cooperate in battling against the invading Karelians, according to Egil's Saga, written around 1240. This is not the same event as the battle of about 873 which includes Faravid of the Kvens.

Finland
Despite occasional descriptive references from early writers such as Tacitus, pre-Viking Kvenland is shrouded in the mystery of a people with no writing and a lost oral tradition

late 8th century

Halfdan II hinn Mildi / Halfdan 'the Mild'

Son of Eystein. King of Raumarike & Vestfold. Died in bed.

700s

A series of rulers are ascribed to Jutland for this period, between the late eighth century to the mid-ninth, and seemingly following a gap in the known rulers of the region. It is unclear who they are and from where they originate until the title 'King of Vestfold-Jutland' appears in genealogies.

The Vestfold kingdom is Norse, lying almost directly north of Jutland across the Skagerrak strait which is fed from the North Sea. Also at this time the Danish kingdom is somewhat weak and fractured, not even having fully unified yet. It would seem likely that Vestfold has expanded its reach into territory which the Danes - to date - have never really controlled.

c.804 - c.810

Gudröd / Gudrod 'the Magnificent'

Son. King of Raumarike & Vestfold.

c.800s

Alfheim is a minor entity between the Glomma and Göta älv rivers which also incorporates at least the southern section of the province of Bohuslän. It also seems to have gained all of Vingulmark (although possibly not until the accession of Alfarin Gandalfsson).

Alfarin's daughter is Alfhild, who marries Gudröd, king of Raumarike and Vestfold. Thanks to this marriage, Gudröd inherits half of Vingulmark (bordering the settlement of Raumarike, although the use of 'settlement' would suggest that Raumarike is not yet sufficiently important enough to be labelled a kingdom).

This territory also includes the site of the country's later capital, Oslo, and later archaeological finds suggest the region is an important centre of power.

River Glomma
The modern River Glomma in Norway was known by the Vikings as the Raum, marking Aflheim's northern border, although much of the originally-Norwegian territory to the south-east of this was lost to Sweden in 1658

c.810

Gudröd's wife dies during his reign, so he sends warriors to propose a marriage to Åsa, the daughter of King Harald Grunraude of Agder. Harald refuses, so Gudröd takes her by force, killing Harald and his son, Gyrd (or Gyrder), in the process.

However, a year after becoming father to Halfdanr Svarti, Gudröd is murdered by Åsa's page boy (on Åsa's orders). The queen returns to Agder to raise her son while the boy's half brother by Gudröd, Olaf, inherits the southern half of Gudröd's kingdom, as well as the Vestfold. Álfgeir of Alfheim restores the full control of Vingulmark by his family and places his son, Gandalf, in command there.

There is a question over whether Åsa's father, Harald Grunraude, still reigns in Agder, as her son, Halfdanr, has to conquer it in his early years. Harold is known to have been killed by Gudröd, so perhaps Halfdanr's elder half-brother, Olaf Geirstade, still rules it until the late 820s.

c.810 - 840

Olaf Gudrodsson Geirstad-Alf

Elder son. King of Raumarike, Bohuslän, & Vestfold.

c.827/828

At the age of eighteen or nineteen, Halfdanr Svarti has already gained half of Vestfold, having divided the territory with his half-brother, Olaf Gudrodsson. Then he reconquers Agder before pursuing an aggressive policy of expanding his kingdom further. He subsequently persuades Gandalf of Vingulmark to cede him half of that kingdom (possibly through intimidation).

Raknehaugen
Raknehaugen (Rakni's Mound) lies in Raumarike, the last resting place of a possible late tribal leader named Rakni, although his connection to the later kingdom of Raumarike is entirely unknown

c.827? - 863

Halfdanr Svarti / Halfdan III 'the Black'

Son. King of Agder & Vestfold. Died crossing a frozen ford.

c.830s - 840s

Over the course of his long reign, Halfdanr builds up an impressive list of conquests. He takes Sogn in the 830s, after the king's daughter, Ragnhild, becomes his first wife, and also mother to a boy named Harald. Ragnhild's father names the young Harald as his successor, but when all three pass away in succession, Halfdanr Svarti lays claim to the kingdom, and it is peacefully subsumed.

The minor kingdom of Raumarike is more forcibly incorporated into Halfdanr's domains. He attacks and kills its king, Sigtryg Eysteinsson, and then repeatedly attacks Sigtryg's brother in battle until he is also defeated. Raumarike is gained along with half of Hedmark.

Then he raises a fresh army and attacks the brothers who rule Vingulmark, killing two and forcing the third to flee. Vingulmark is incorporated into the kingdom.

Following the death of Halfdanr's wife, the daughter of the king of Ringerike, Ragnhild, becomes his second wife after being kidnapped by one Hake (the same Hake who had been expelled from Vingulmark?). Halfdanr rescues her and together they become the parents of Haraldr Hárfagri, successor to this growing kingdom.

The Asynjur of Norse mythology
Norse mythology involved the fierce and hard-fighting Asynjur, the female equivalent of their male Æsir counterparts, all of whom formed the principle gods of the Norse pantheon (click or tap on image to view full sized)

The apparent coincidence of names for Halfdanr's wives may simply be that, or two different stories of her origins are being told - both are entirely possible. Harald Fairhair's mother is also referred to as being one Gyda, daughter of an Eirik.

863 - 872

Haraldr Hárfagri / Harald I Fairhair

Son of Halfdanr Svarti of Agder. United all of Norway.

866

There is internecine war between the minor Norwegian kingdoms. Haraldr Hárfagri (or Harfarger) of Agder slowly becomes dominant, forcing the kingdoms to acknowledge his rule which, by 872, is complete.

He starts his campaigns in 866 by visiting the Oppland and Orkadal. Then, in a series of battles, Gaulardal and Strind districts are conquered, followed by Stjoradal, and then Veradal, Skaun, the Sparbyggja district, and Eyin Idre together. Possibly the tiny neighbouring kingdom of Söndmör is taken at the same time.

Some of their kings fall and some flee, but Haraldr is the victor. All of these victories take place in or near the Throndhjem district (modern Trondheim). Then falls Naumudal and its two kings, far to the north of the Throndhjem. Haraldr sets up a royal residence called Lade and marries Asa, daughter of Hakon Grjotgardson, the new jarl of Strind.

Trondheim in Norway
Although it later served for a time as Norway's capital (997-1217), Trondheim in the Viking age was only just emerging as an important centre

867 - 868

Haraldr Hárfagri of Agder opens the new campaigning year with a fresh attack on stubborn Orkadal before he sails south to attack the Møre region. The kings of North Møre, Raumsdal, and South Møre assemble an army and the two sides meet at Solskel.

A great battle ensues in which Haraldr is the victor. Hornklofe's poem, Glymdrapa, records the action, and mentions two kings being killed. Solve Klofe, the son of Hunthjof of North Møre, escapes the defeat and flees south to join Arnvid of South Møre.

South Møre is attacked in the following spring (868). Solve has spent the winter raiding Haraldr's posts in North Møre, killing many of his men and burning and plundering. Now he heads south to Firdafylke to enlist the help of Audbjørn.

The expanded joint army, together with Arnvid's forces, meets Haraldr's forces at Solskel again, although this time the Heimskringla describes ships being lashed together, stem to stem, marking this out as a naval encounter. In the end, Haraldr kills both Audbjørn and Arnvid. Solve flees again, this time to become 'a great sea king [who] often did great damage in King Harald's dominions'.

Haraldr Hárfagri and the giant Dofri
In his younger days, Haraldr Hárfagri ('Fairhair' or 'Fine Hair') cuts the bonds of the giant Dofri so that the giant can become his foster father in the Norse sagas - from the collection of Icelandic sagas, the Flateyjarbók

868 - 870

Late in 868, Haraldr has selected Ragnvald 'The Wise' to be jarl (earl) of North Møre, South Møre, and also Raumsdal. Ragnvald is the descendant of the original line of 'kings' of Kvenland who seem to have left their homeland in the time of Gor Thorrasson 'Sea King' in the late seventh century to find a new home amongst the Norwegians.

In the following year, Jarl Ragnvald captures Firdafylke by burning down a 'house' in Naustdal in which is King Vemund with ninety of his men (more likely to be a royal hall). At the start of 869, Haraldr Hárfagri sails his own forces into the kingdom to subdue the rest of Firdafylke.

Haraldr learns that King Eric Anundsson of the Swedes has taken command of Värmland and is collecting scat (a form of land tax) from all the forest settlers. He has clearly taken advantage of the fact that Haraldr has been campaigning on the western shores for the past four years.

Eric is also claiming Raumarike, the Vestfold, Vingulmark, and additional territory as a restoration of the eighth century Swede kingdom of Sigurd Ring.

Haraldr Hárfagri Halfdansson of Norway
Haraldr Hárfagri united all the minor kingdoms of Norway in the later ninth century through a mixture of force of arms and diplomacy, although the former seemed to involve most of his time

Many of the chiefs of these lands have already given obedience to Eric, so Haraldr summons them to face punishment or fines. He processes through Raumarike and Vestfold in the summer, restoring his hold over them. Then he advances into Värmland and seizes it, killing all of Eric's men which he can find and continuing to Vingulmark to restore his power there.

872

A final rebellion is organised against Haraldr Hárfagri's increasingly dominant control of Norway. The men of Agder (presumably under Haraldr's rebellious sub-king there), Hördaland, Rogaland, and Thelemark, along with chieftains from the Sognefjord region, are gathering under the leadership of their kings.

They meet Haraldr's great army at the Battle of Hafrsfjord of 872 which seems to be the key point in Haraldr's various conflicts. Many are killed and all of the rebels are defeated.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 862-882
Haraldr's final rebellion against his rule came shortly after Scandinavian expansion into the east took place at Novgorod, with other Rus princes at Izborsk and Beloozero (click or tap on map to view full sized)

The year given may not be strictly accurate (various scholars have calculated dates between 870-900 based on the number of winters recorded in the Heimskringla).

During this same period, King Faravid of Kvenland is said by later chronicles to ally himself to the Norwegians to fight the Karelians to the east.

As for the victory at Hafrsfjord, many surviving nobles who refuse to accept their defeat now emigrate to Iceland, while the defeated states themselves are forced to join Haraldr's new kingdom of Norway.

 
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