Magnus II of Norway
Magnus II Haraldsson was King of Norway from 1066 to 1069, jointly with his brother Olaf Kyrre
Olaf III of Norway
Olaf Kyrre , or Olaf III Haraldsson, was King of Norway from 1067 to 1093. He was present at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England in 1066 where his father, Harald Hardrada, saw defeat and was killed in action...

 from 1067.


Magnus was a son of King Harald III of Norway. He is recorded as the child of Tora Torbergsdatter
Tora Torbergsdatter
Tora Torbergsdatter was a Norwegian royal consort. She was the mother of two kings of Norway. It is possible, but unconfirmed, that she was also queen of Denmark and Sweden....

, who married Harald in 1048.

Magnus' expedition to the west

In the late 1050s Magnus led an expedition to the west, to the Northern Isles
Northern Isles
The Northern Isles is a chain of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. The climate is cool and temperate and much influenced by the surrounding seas. There are two main island groups: Shetland and Orkney...

, the Hebrides
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands have a long history of occupation dating back to the Mesolithic and the culture of the residents has been affected by the successive...

, and the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

. This expedition is only attested in contemporaneous non-Scandinavian sources and is entirely ignored by the sagas
Sagàs is a small town and municipality located in Catalonia, in the comarca of Berguedà. It is located in the geographical area of the pre-Pyrenees.-Population:...

. The year in which Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney
Earl of Orkney
The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling Orkney, Shetland and parts of Caithness and Sutherland. The Earls were periodically subject to the kings of Norway for the Northern Isles, and later also to the kings of Alba for those parts of their territory in mainland Scotland . The Earl's...

, died is nowhere recorded with precision (the Orkneyinga saga
Orkneyinga saga
The Orkneyinga saga is a historical narrative of the history of the Orkney Islands, from their capture by the Norwegian king in the ninth century onwards until about 1200...

states that it was in the latter days of Magnus's father). So it may be that Magnus's expedition was the occasion on which Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson, Thorfinn's successors as Earl, submitted to King Harald. It has been suggested that Magnus also played some part in the war in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in 1057–1058, perhaps supporting Máel Coluim mac Donnchada against Lulach. In 1058 Magnus and his forces were active in Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and perhaps in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. According to the Irish Annals of Tigernach
Annals of Tigernach
The Annals of Tigernach is a chronicle probably originating in Clonmacnoise, Ireland. The language is a mixture of Latin and Old and Middle Irish....

, Magnus's goal was to seize power in England, whereas the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great...

appears to associate the Norwegian fleet with the return to power of Earl Ælfgār
Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia
Ælfgar was son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia,by his well-known wife Godgifu . He succeeded to his father's title and responsibilities on the latter's death in 1057....

. The Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae
Annales Cambriae, or The Annals of Wales, is the name given to a complex of Cambro-Latin chronicles deriving ultimately from a text compiled from diverse sources at St David's in Dyfed, Wales, not later than the 10th century...

appear to support the Chronicle version, stating that Magnus Haraldsson laid waste to parts of England in support of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the ruler of all Wales from 1055 until his death, the only Welsh monarch able to make this boast...

, Ælfgār's son-in-law and ally.

Harald's expedition to England

In 1066, King Harald made his ill-fated bid to conquer England. Before departing, he made Magnus regent, and caused him to be crowned King of Norway. Harald's younger son, Olaf
Olaf III of Norway
Olaf Kyrre , or Olaf III Haraldsson, was King of Norway from 1067 to 1093. He was present at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England in 1066 where his father, Harald Hardrada, saw defeat and was killed in action...

, accompanied him on the expedition. Harald was defeated and killed at Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway and the English king's brother Tostig...

 by the Saxon
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

. However, Olaf survived and spent the winter of 1066–1067 in Orkney,

Division of the Kingdom of Norway

At that time, the Kingdom of Norway was looked upon as a property of the king. Under Norwegian property laws
Åsetesrett is the ancient right in Norway of the eldest child to inherit the farm after his or her parent ....

, it would be divided among his heirs, like any private estate. Olaf returned to Norway in the spring of 1067, claiming his portion of the kingdom. Magnus agreed to divide Norway with Olaf. Magnus was to rule the northern half of the country and Olav the southern. This division was the first of several of partitions of Norway among the sons and heirs of a ruling king.


In 1069, after just a few years in power, Magnus died, apparently of ergot
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

 poisoning. This left Olaf as the sole ruler of Norway.
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