Harold I

Harold I or Harold Fairhair, Norse Harald Haarfager, c.850–c.933, first king of Norway, son of Halfdan the Black, king of Vestfold (SE Norway). After succeeding his father, Harold initiated a series of battles against the other petty kings, climaxed by a great victory at Hafrs Fjord (872) that made him ruler of Norway. Although he is considered Norway's first king, Harold controlled only the west coast. Migration to Iceland reached its peak during Harold's reign, as did the raids by Norsemen on the coasts of Europe. The king maintained friendly relations with Athelstan, king of the English. Viking civilization flourished at his court. On his death his lands were divided among his sons; Eric Bloodyaxe was made overlord, but another son, Haakon I, seized power.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Scandinavian History: Biographies