Also known as: Olaf Haraldsson; Olav
The son of King Harold Grenske, Olaf joined a band of Vikings as a youth and fought battles for Richard of Normandy and Ethelred II of England. He was baptized a Christian. At age 20, he succeeded his father on the throne, and set about converting his kingdom, more by force than persuasion. Olaf’s subjects revolted, and he was forced from the throne by Canute the Great, the king of England and Denmark. Olaf tried to regain his kingdom. On July 29, 1030, he was killed in a battle at Stiklestad, Norway. He was buried in deep sand on the spot where he fell, on a bank of the river Nid. A spring miraculously appeared there, and miracles were reported at the shrine built over his tomb. Although he was not considered much of a holy man because of his use of force against his own subjects, he nevertheless was respected for his championing of Norwegian independence and he was regarded as having died for his faith. The miracles enhanced his stature as a martyr. The cathedral of Trondheim was built over his shrine, and was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages.