Olaf V
Haakon Magnusson (Stavanger cathedral).jpg
King of Hordaland
Reign 14th September, 1313 - 17th April, 1340
Predecessor Eric III
Successor Eric IV
Born February, 1274
Göteborg, Gothenland
Died 17th April, 1340
Bergen, Hordaland
Spouse Matilda Sveinnsdotter
Issue Eric IV


Full name
Olaf Karlssen
House Sverker
Father Karl Karlsson, Duke of Halland
Mother Kristin Haakonsdotter

Olaf V ruled over Hordaland through much of the early 14th century. He was the first king of the Sverker Dynasty.

Born in Gothenland to Karl, Duke of Halland, and Kristin (sister of Eric III of Hordaland) Olaf's early life was precarious. Duke Karl feuded with his cousin John II of Gothenland and was assassinated in 1286. Olaf's life was spared this bloodshed, and along with his younger brother Inge and their mother, would subsequently join John II's court at Jönköping.

With all of Eric III's children dying before he did, Hordaland's nobles looked elsewhere for a successor to the popular king. They would settle on his nephew Olaf and the new heir apparent took the position with eagerness, joining the Hordalandic court in 1310, taking a Hordalandic wife and generally making himself useful to the aging king.

Hence when Eric died in 1313 the succession was assured and was greeted with no revolts at all. Olaf proved the equal of his uncle in domestic matters continuing the good laws and good judgment he had inherited. So much so that the nameless chronicler of the Thorshavn Book suggests that Hordaland should 'always have a Sverker king as their wisdom does bring much glory to the kingdom'. Olaf's attentions, however, were soon directed outside of the kingdom, a sphere in which he was less successful.

Whilst Hordaland was settling down well to Sverker rule in Gothenland it was faltering. The deaths of Karl IV and Eric II in quick succession had eradicated the main male Sverker line by 1318. That effectively left the Gothenlandic nobles with two choices; John II's daughter Sophia, or Olaf. Having no desire to be ruled from Bergen the nobles plumped for Sophia and her ambitious Polish husband John which suited their interests in the Baltic.

Olaf, of course, was incensed, not only at the snub but perhaps also in the desire to avenge his father. Gathering a formidable fleet and invasion force he hoped to gain the support of Denmark and Viken for his cause. Wizlaw II of Viken saw no benefit in having Olaf gain territory on either side of his own kingdom and was downright hostile. Denmark, meanwhile, sought to maintain Gothenland's pressure on Pomerania so saw John and Sophia as the preferred rulers. Even so, Olaf believed he could prevail without their support and by the summer of 1319 the fleet was menacing Göteborg. The smaller but more disciplined Gothenlandic fleet drew it away, however, and piecemeal it was defeated. Olaf slunk away defeated but the disaster did not end there. His own vessel sank and he was rescued by Viken lords who promptly held him for ransom with Wizlaw II's tacit approval.

The ransom fee was paid but that put an immediate end to Olaf's ambitions in Southern Scandinavia and indeed, curtailed any notions of furthering Hordaland's recapture of its old territories in Britannia. The expense eradicated much of the wealth which the country had accumulated during Eric III's reign. Olaf avoided any major revolt against his reign, though, and spent most of the rest of his labouring in quiet diplomacy to rebuild the state's finances and 'godly contemplation'. He made several donations to the church after 1325 and many of its wealthier estates date from Olaf's reign.

Olaf would die in 1340 and be succeeded by his son Eric IV.

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