Olaf I (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: His short reign as king brought about a temporary unification and Christianization of Norway, and his exploits later made him a national hero and legend for his people.
Olaf Tryggvason, named after his grandfather, was a great grandson of Harald Fairhair, who had made himself king of most of Norway. Fairhair, who had at least four wives, had numerous descendants who sought to rule his domain after his death. The country was rife with conflict, and in the midst of this turmoil, Olaf was born. His father, Tryggve Olafson, king of a small portion of Norway, was killed around the time of Olaf’s birth. The attackers were sons of Eric Bloodaxe, whom Fairhair had designated as his legitimate heir. Olaf’s mother, Astrid, left the Oslo fjord area with her young son to escape those who had killed her husband. She did not fear for her daughters, but her son was the heir to Tryggve’s domain. Consequently, Olaf, if he lived, could one day challenge the sons of Eric Bloodaxe.
Astrid took Olaf and went to live with her relatives among the Swedish Vikings in Russia. Her brother was a powerful man in the service of King Vladimir, whose court was in Novgorod. The saga accounts of Olaf’s being sold into slavery while crossing the Baltic with his mother are almost certainly fictional.
Olaf was reared among the Vikings in Russia as a warrior and an athlete. Maturing physically at...
(The entire section is 2045 words.)
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