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Haakon IV of Norway

Haakon IV, surnamed the Old (1204December 15 1263), was declared to be the son of Haakon III of Norway, who died shortly before the former’s birth in 1204. A year later the child was placed under the protection of King Inge II of Norway, after whose death in 1217 he was chosen king. The church refused to recognize him until 1223 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. The rebellion also led to the death of Snorri Sturluson. 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), but won back the Norwegian possessions in Scotland.

Haakon was wintering in the Orkney Islands, when he was ill and died on December 15 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.

Modified original text from 1911 EB

Preceded by:
Inge Bårdsson
List of Norwegian monarchs Succeeded by:
Magnus Lagabøte