Kung av Norge 1093-1103 Kung av Dublin.
Born 1073 in Norge.
Died 1103-08-24 in Irland. [River Quoile, Downpatrick Ulster]
Buried in Irland. [St. Patrick's Church, Downpatrick, Ulster]
Magnus Olafsson (Old Norse: Magnús Óláfsson, Norwegian: Magnus Olavsson; 1073 – 24
August 1103), better known as Magnus Barefoot (Old Norse: Magnús berfœttr, Norwegian:
Magnus Berrføtt), was King of Norway (as Magnus III) from 1093 until his death in 1103.
His reign was marked by aggressive military campaigns and conquest, particularly in the
Norse-dominated parts of the British Isles, where he extended his rule to the Kingdom of
the Isles and Dublin.
As the only son of King Olaf Kyrre, Magnus was proclaimed king in southeastern Norway
shortly after his father's death in 1093. In the north his claim was contested by his cousin,
Haakon Magnusson (son of King Magnus Haraldsson), and the two co-ruled uneasily until
Haakon's death in 1095. Disgruntled members of the nobility refused to recognise Magnus
after his cousin's death, but the insurrection was short-lived. After securing his position
domestically, Magnus campaigned around the Irish Sea from 1098 to 1099. He raided
through Orkney, the Hebrides and Mann (the Northern and Southern Isles), and ensured
Norwegian control by a treaty with the Scottish king. Based on Mann during his time in the
west, Magnus had a number of forts and houses built on the island and probably also
obtained suzerainty of Galloway. He sailed to Wales later in his expedition, winning control
of Anglesey (and possibly Gwynedd's submission) after repelling the invading Norman forces
from the island.
Following his return to Norway Magnus led campaigns into Dalsland and Västergötland in
Sweden, claiming an ancient border with the country. After two unsuccessful invasions and
a number of skirmishes Danish king Eric Evergood initiated peace talks among the three
Scandinavian monarchs, fearing that the conflict would get out of hand. Magnus concluded
peace with the Swedes in 1101 by agreeing to marry Margaret, daughter of the Swedish
king Inge Stenkilsson. In return, Magnus gained Dalsland as part of her dowry. He set out
on his final western campaign in 1102, and may have sought to conquer Ireland. Magnus
entered into an alliance with Irish king Muirchertach Ua Briain of Munster, who recognised
Magnus' control of Dublin. Under unclear circumstances, while obtaining food supplies for his
return to Norway, Magnus was killed in an ambush by the Ulaid the next year; territorial
advances characterising his reign ended with his death.
Into modern times, his legacy has remained more pronounced in Ireland and Scotland than
in his native Norway. Among the few domestic developments known during his reign,
Norway developed a more centralised rule and moved closer to the European model of
church organisation. Popularly portrayed as a Viking warrior rather than a medieval
monarch, Magnus was the last Norwegian king to fall in battle abroad, and he may in some
respects be considered the final Viking king.
Page of ancient manuscript on weathered, yellowed paper
Page of 13th-century copy of the Norwegian chronicle Ágrip, a source for Magnus
Most information about Magnus is gleaned from Norse sagas and chronicles, which began
appearing during the 12th century. The most important sources still available are the
Norwegian chronicles Historia de Antiquitate Regum Norwagiensium by Theodoric the Monk
and the anonymous Ágrip af Noregskonungasögum (or simply Ágrip) from the 1180s and
the Icelandic sagas Heimskringla (by Snorri Sturluson), Morkinskinna and Fagrskinna, which
date to about the 1220s. While the later sagas are the most detailed accounts, they are
also generally considered the least reliable. Additional information about Magnus, in
particular his campaigns, is found in sources from the British Isles, which included
Magnus was born around the end of 1073 as the only son of King Olaf Kyrre. His mother's
identity is uncertain; she is identified as Tora Arnesdatter (daughter of otherwise-unknown
Arne Låge) in Morkinskinna and Fagrskinna, as Tora Joansdatter in Heimskringla,
Hrokkinskinna and Hryggjarstykki and an unnamed daughter of "Ragnvald jarl" from
Godøy, Sunnmøre in the genealogical text Af en gl. ætleg (commonly known as
Sunnmørsættleggen). The historical consensus (including P. A. Munch and Claus Krag)
has favoured Tora Arnesdatter, but the other claims have also gained support. Anders
Stølen has argued that she was a daughter of Ragnvald jarl (who has been identified as
Rognvald Brusason, Earl of Orkney by Ola Kvalsund), while historian Randi Helene Førsund
has considered Tora Joansdatter more likely.
Magnus grew up among the hird (royal retinue) of his father in Nidaros (modern
Trondheim), de facto capital of Norway at the time. His father's cousin, the chieftain Tore
Ingeridsson, was foster-father to Magnus. In his youth, he was apparently more similar to
his warlike grandfather, King Harald Hardrada, than to his father (who bore the byname
Kyrre: "the Peaceful"). According to Snorri Sturluson, Magnus was considered handsome
and gifted in learning; although he was shorter in stature than his grandfather Harald, he
was reportedly known as "Magnus the Tall". Magnus' more-common byname, "Barefoot" or
"Barelegs", was—according to Snorri—due to his adopting the Gaelic dress of the Irish and
Scots: a short tunic, which left the lower legs bare. Another version (by Danish historian
Saxo Grammaticus) maintains that he acquired the nickname because he was forced to flee
from a Swedish attack in his bare feet, while a third explains that he rode barefoot (like the
Irish). Due to Magnus' aggressive nature and his campaigns abroad, he also had the
nickname styrjaldar-Magnús] ("Warrior Magnus" or "Magnus the Strife-lover").
Spouse(s) and children