1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Haakon

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HAAKON (Old Norse Hákon), the name of several kings of Norway, of whom the most important are the following:—

Haakon I., surnamed “the Good” (d. 961), was the youngest son of Harald Haarfager. He was fostered by King Aethelstan of England, who brought him up in the Christian religion, and on the news of his father’s death in 933 provided him with ships and men for an expedition against his half-brother Erik, who had been proclaimed king. On his arrival in Norway Haakon gained the support of the landowners by promising to give up the rights of taxation claimed by his father over inherited real property. Erik fled, and was killed a few years later in England. His sons allied themselves with the Danes, but were invariably defeated by Haakon, who was successful in everything he undertook except in his attempt to introduce Christianity, which aroused an opposition he did not feel strong enough to face. He was killed at the battle of Fitje in 961, after a final victory over Erik’s sons. So entirely did even his immediate circle ignore his religion that a court skald composed a poem on his death representing his welcome by the heathen gods into Valhalla.

Haakon IV., surnamed “the Old” (1204-1263), was declared to be the son of Haakon III., who died shortly before the former’s birth in 1204. A year later the child was placed under the protection of King Inge, after whose death in 1217 he was chosen king; though until 1223 the church refused to recognize him, on the ground of illegitimacy, and the Pope’s dispensation for his coronation was not gained until much later. In the earlier part of his reign much of the royal power was in the hands of Earl Skule, who intrigued against the king until 1239, when he proceeded to open hostility and was put to death. From this time onward Haakon’s reign was marked by more peace and prosperity than Norway had known for many years, until in 1263 a dispute with the Scottish king concerning the Hebrides, a Norwegian possession, induced Haakon to undertake an expedition to the west of Scotland. A division of his army seems to have repulsed a large Scottish force at Largs (though the later Scottish accounts claim this battle as a victory), and, having won back the Norwegian possessions in Scotland, Haakon was wintering in the Orkneys, when he was taken ill and died on the 15th of December 1263. A great part of his fleet had been scattered and destroyed by storms. The most important event in his reign was the voluntary submission of the Icelandic commonwealth. Worn out by internal strife fostered by Haakon’s emissaries, the Icelandic chiefs acknowledged the Norwegian king as overlord in 1262. Their example was followed by the colony of Greenland.

Haakon VII. (1872-  ), the second son of Frederick VIII., king of Denmark, was born on the 3rd of August 1872, and was usually known as Prince Charles of Denmark. When in 1905 Norway decided to separate herself from Sweden the Norwegians offered their crown to Charles, who accepted it and took the name of Haakon VII., being crowned at Trondhjem in June 1906. The king married Maud, youngest daughter of Edward VII., king of Great Britain, their son, Prince Olav, being born in 1903.