Haakon I of Norway Biography

Haakon Adalsteinsfostre (c. 920 A.D. – Fitjar, Norway, 961 A.D.) also known as Haakon I of Norway or Haakon El Bueno (Norwegian: Hukon Den Gode) was a Norwegian military and political leader, who became King of Norway.

He is considered one of the best monarchs this Nordic country has ever had, due to the abolition of taxes, as well as the closeness to the people with which he ruled. He is also remembered for his attempt to convert Norway to Christianity.

Assumption to the throne

Haakon I The Good was born around 920 A.D. The exact site of his birth is unknown. He was the illegitimate son of the Norwegian king Harald I and his lady of service, Tora Monsterstong, and was also the youngest of all the sons of this sovereign.

As part of the peace agreements, between Herald I and the King of England, Athelstan, Haakon was sent, as a baby, to the English court, where he was raised and educated both academically and militarily, while the Christian faith was instilled in him. When Haakon turned fifteen, King Herald I died, being succeeded on the throne by Erik I Bloodax (blood axe), nicknamed, named after killing eight of his half-brothers.

Historians debate among the motives that led Haakon to return to Norway, in order to claim the throne for himself. On the one hand, some are inclined to think that it was of their own free will, while others point out that it was by the influence of the English king Athelstan, while others point out that Haakon was warned and called by the opponents of his half-brother Erik, now crowned King.

Regardless of the causes, Haakon was supported by the English sovereign, and returned to his native country, accompanied by an English naval squadron. Once in Norway, he also had the support of landowners, who took their side to the promise of eliminating the tax system, instituted by his father, which involved the expropriation of the territories and the exile of those who did not cancel the high monetary figures.

In the face of Haakon’s military and popular deployment, Erik I Bloodax found himself in need of fleeing to the British Isles, where he tragically died. For their part, their sons and wife Gunhild, who was a Danish princess and sister of the King of Denmark, Harald Bl’tand, took refuge in the Danish kingdom. Cleared the way to the throne, Haakon I of Norway was crowned King of Norway, beginning a mandate, which had great popular support, so he was historically nicknamed Haakon the Good.

Among its main reforms are the Leidang and the Gulating, which came to bring the people a little closer with their King, promoting a joint work for the defense of the nation.


In this sense, as already mentioned, his father Herald I’s mandate was distinguished by a strong system of taxation, which almost always led to the expropriation and exile of the owner, in order to assign these lands to faithful men to the King. Such a tax system merited a great military power, which would be responsible for both collecting taxes, enforcing sanctions and caring for the throne.

Haakon radically changed this situation, thus a climate of peace, giving the peasant a security and welfare system. This atmosphere of harmony between King and peasants made the military component hardly have a few bodyguards.

However, men were needed to defend the country from some invasion, for this, King Haakon divided the country into three maritime territories, and together with the peasants the Leidang, an organized defense system, was created, where each territory was responsible for a warship, weapons and supplies, with which to defend the territory. For some historians these actions reveal the military instruction, received by this sovereign in the court of King Athelstan.

Likewise, Haakon I had a profound influence on the legislative and judicial field. For this purpose he created the so-called Gulating reforms, in which he established a local judicial system, consisting of assemblies and courts, aimed at dealing with all legal matters in each of the regions in which they had jurisprudence. However, not all of this sovereign’s proposals were well received.

True to his Christian faith, Haakon I sought to convert his kingdom to Christianity, for which he established Christian rites, built temples and churches, and called missionaries from England. In time, in order to avoid an uprising, Haakon I gave up this evangelizing attempt, allowing his subjects to practice his pagan faith.

Battles and final years

Once his nephews, sons of his half-brother Erik Bloodax, grew up, they took action to dethrone Haakon I and sew the Norwegian crown. For this company they had the support of their other uncle, brother of his mother, the Danish King, Haral Bl’tand, who at the same time was interested in taking for his control the trade routes belonging to Norway.

The first invasion Haakon faced gave rise to the Battle of Avladsnes, which occurred in 953 A.D. In this confrontation, Haakon had the military support of Tr’ndelag, coming out victorious.

Two years later, in 955 A.D., Erik’s sons returned, this time with a large Danish army, leading to the Battle of Rastarkalv, developed in Frei, and in which Haakon again defeated. Finally, in 961 A.D., Erik’s sons marched again on Norway, blowing up the Battle of Fitjar, where King Haakon again won.

However, during the match an arrow wounded him deeply in the back, causing him to bleed, which ended his life. He was succeeded on the throne by his nephew Harald II.

Haakon I of Norway Biography
Source: Education  
August 6, 2019

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