Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Ill-Fated Wedding Of Jarl Hákon Eiriksson

 From The Historian's Hut:

Eirik Hakonarson eventually sailed to the British Isles around the time when King Sweyn Forkbeard seized control of England in 1013. The jarl’s son, Hákon Eiriksson, stayed behind in Norway to see to matters there while his father was away. His father, however, would not return—Eirik Hakonarson died in 1013 of wounds he sustained in England.

Hákon Eiriksson, who succeeded to his father’s jarldom, did not have long to mourn. In 1014 or 1015, a Viking and mercenary named Olaf Haraldsson appeared in Norway to launch a bid for the Norwegian throne. Olaf (later called Saint Olaf) knew that the young jarl was a major obstacle in his path to power, so he targeted Hákon Eiriksson early. Olaf reportedly ambushed his opponent in a narrow waterway, and in the encounter that ensued, Hákon’s ship sank and he was captured. As the story goes, Olaf spared Hákon Eiriksson’s life in exchange for the jarl renouncing his authority in Norway. Whatever the case, Hákon survived the incident and fled to England, where he joined the ranks of his ascendant uncle, Canute the Great. This Canute (or Knut) became king of England in 1016, then king of Denmark in 1019, and he also decided to challenge Olaf Haraldsson for the throne of Norway.

In 1028, Canute the Great successfully used diplomatic and military pressure to usurp power in Norway from Olaf Haraldsson, who fled to his allies among the Swedes and the Rus. When Canute seized control of Norway, Hákon Eiriksson decided to sail back to his homeland to resecure his jarldom. His journey back to Norway, however, came at an awkward time, for Hákon had recently become engaged to be married. Nevertheless, he evidently left his fiancée behind in England while he and Canute toured their newly acquired Norway. (Read more.)


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