The Fairhair dynasty (Hårfagreætta) was a family of kings founded by Harald I of Norway which united and ruled Norway with few interruptions from the latter half of the 9th century to 1387 (traditional view), or through only three generations of kings ending with Harald Greycloak in the late 10th century (the view of many modern scholars).
Harald Fairhair (c. 850 – c. 932) is thus considered the first king of Norway. He inherited a few, scattered kingdoms in eastern Norway from his father Halfdan the Black, but proceeded to unite Norway under his rule. According to legend, he proposed to Gyda, who refused to accept him until he was king of all of Norway – and in turn, he vowed to not cut nor comb his hair until he had reached his goal. This is why he was named Fairhair.
Harald was succeeded by his son Eirik Bloodaxe (c. 885 – c. 954), who ruled alongside his father for three years. After Harald’s death, Eirik’s rule was challenged by his brother Haakon, and he escaped to England to become king of Northumbria.
Haakon the Good (c. 920 – c. 961) was the youngest son of Harald Fairhair, and gained favour by promising reductions in property tax. He organized meetings for law making and was the originator of the nationwide naval defence. Haakon repeatedly fought battles against the sons of his brother Eirik, and was eventually killed in battle.
Saint Olaf (995 – 1030) was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028 and is traditionally given credit for the Christianization of Norway, but most scholars now recognize that he had little to do with the process himself, as the process of changing the country’s main religion was a lengthy one, and certainly not accomplished by one man alone.
However, Olaf was canonized as saint shortly after his death, and this act united the nation in a way no foreign monarch could have achieved. According to legend, his hair and nails kept growing after his death.
Feature image (on top): Norwegian Viking Fairhair Dynasty by Peter Nicolai Arbo