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The last three days of this week I will spend on the topic of royal numbering by examining the three Scandinavian kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Norway: Norway shares a similarity with England in that prior to being a unified kingdom Norway consisted of several smaller kingdoms. Harald I Fairhair King of Norway from 872 to 930 is said to be the first king of a unified state. Most early kings of Norway are known more by their sobriquet than their ordinals. During the history of Norway the problem with numbering the kings is that there were times when brothers ruled jointly or there were rival kings. All in all the numbering has been consistent with all the names except for the name Olaf. Olaf Magnusson was king of Norway 1103-1115 and was the son of King Magnus III Barefoot and Sigrid, daughter of Sakse of Vik.

Olaf was a co-king together with his half-brothers Sigurd Jorsalfar and Øystein Magnusson after his father Magnus died in 1103. He was king of Norway in twelve years, but did not like their brothers leave a lasting impression. He died at the age of 17 and and never ruled his share of the kingdom on his own and his brothers acted as his regent on his behalf. Historians judge him as to be insignificant and when numbering the kings of Norway they left Olaf out from numbering. He should have been counted as Olaf IV but that ordinal was assigned to King Olaf Haakonsson (1380-1387).

In the middle ages Norway and Denmark, along with Sweden formed the Union of Kalmar in 1397 uniting all three Scandinavian states under one Monarch. Sweden broke away from this union in 1523 and the union of Norway and Denmark lasted until 1814. However in 1814 Norway was not able to gain its independence and fell under the control of Sweden. It wasn’t until 1905 when Norway became an independent state. They chose a monarchical form of government and chose the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark, Prince Carl of Denmark as their king. He chose the Norwegian name of Haakon and became King Haakon VII and he ruled until 1957. His son, Olaf V of Norway 1957-1991, reigned using the ordinal “V” but would have been Olav VI, had the co-king Olaf Magnusson been numbered and not ignored by historians.

Copyright 2012 WJFoley