Olaf II

Olaf II (Saint Olaf), c.995–1030, king of Norway (1015–28). He is also called Olaf the Stout or Olaf the Fat. He spent part of his early life in England and helped Æthelred fight the Danes. He was converted to Christianity, and when he returned (1015) to Norway he zealously tried to Christianize the country. He established himself by defeating Earl Sweyn, and then he proceeded to unify the country politically and to establish the new religion. He antagonized the nobles by employing men of humbler birth as royal officials. When Canute of England and Denmark asserted his right to the overlordship of Norway, many nobles deserted Olaf for the Dane. Olaf attacked Denmark, but the expedition ended in a fruitless naval battle. In 1028, Olaf defeated a leading noble, but the murder of the vanquished man by one of Olaf's men led to a powerful insurrection. Olaf fled to Russia, and Canute became king with Earl Haakon as viceroy. After Haakon was drowned at sea, Canute's son, Sweyn, was named king. Olaf made an attempt to regain his kingdom in 1030, only to lose his life in the battle of Stiklestad. He came to be considered the patron saint of Norway. Harold III was his half-brother, Magnus I his son. Feast: July 29.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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