Olaf, Tryggveson

Olaf, Tryggveson king of Norway from 995 to 1000, noted as one of the most devoted of the early Norwegian rulers to the Christian faith, was the great-grandson of Harald Fairfax, and the son of Trggve, who was a sub-king in the south- eastern part of Norway. The latter had been murdered by Gudrod, son of Erik Blood-axe. The widow of Tryggve and her infant son Olaf were eagerly pursued, and fled through Sweden into Russia. Here the boy was brought up, and hence he was frequently called the Russian. Many wonderful tales are told of his youthful exploits, but a large number of them are, of course, nothing but Romish legends, which have been invented to embellish the life of this royal apostle. It is, however, a fact that Olaf, while yet a young man, had become famous for being one of the most warlike chiefs of his time, and for possessing extraordinary strength and agility. Olaf went on viking expeditions inn the Baltic and in the British waters. In England he became converted to Christianity, and married a powerful English or Irish woman, by name Gyda. In the year 995 he returned to Norway, where he arrived at the most opportune time, for Hakon Jarl, who was so much hated for his vices, had just been put to flight by the peasantry, and was killed by his thrall Karker. Olaf found no difficulty in securing the rulership of Norway. He devoted all the. energy of his five years' reign to the introduction of Christianity among his subjects. He made a journey along the whole coast of Norway, destroying the idols and baptizing the most distinguished men. The means whereby he sought to establish the Christian religion were the same as those he had previously practiced as a viking. His reign is stained with murder and bloodshed, and he practiced both cunning and deceit for the good of the cause. He founded Nidaros (the present Trondhjem), where he maintained a splendid court, and thereby he not only made the people acquainted with Christian ceremonies and ways of living, but also gave Norway a governmental center. Upon the whole, the introduction of religious ideas served to strengthen and increase the power of the king, and to put down the anarchical spirit which had characterized the reign of the previous kings. Olaf also worked successfully for the introduction of Christianity into the Orkneys, Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. Finally he made an expedition to Pomerania, for the purpose of getting certain possessions that belonged to his queen Thyra, the sister of Svend Forkbeard of Denmark, But at the same time a conspiracy was formed against him by Svend, king of Denmark, Olof, king of Sweden, and the Norse jarl Erik. By these Olaf was attacked at the island Svolder (near Greifswalde) on Sept. 9, 1000, where he fell after a most desperate struggle, being then only thirty-six years old. See NordiskConverisationslexikon, s.v.; Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, 2:20-635; Keyser, Norges Historie, 1:294-329; Carlyle, Early Kings of Norway (see Index); Neander, Ch. list. 3:297-99; 302 sq.; Munter, Kirchengesch. v. Danemark u. Norwegen, pt. i (Leips. 1823), 322 sq.; Maclear, Eist. of Christian Missions in the M. A. (see Index); Maurer, Bekehrung des Norweg. Stammes (Munich, 1855-56, 2 vols. 8vo); Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen (see Index). (R. B. A.)

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