Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia, Haugesund, Herland Report

Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 – 933 AD) Scandinavia


Herland Report: The brutally fierce, Viking Age Norse Norrøn warrior king of Norway, Harald Fairhair (850 – 933 AD) is considered Norway’s founding father.  

Under his leadership, all significant lands of Norway were for the first time assembled under one High King.

The religion at the time was the polytheistic, Norse Norrøn traditional beliefs, worshiping the gods Odin, Thor, Freya and more. Read his spectacular life story below.

The Herland Report celebrates 10 million views on YouTube in just a short while and release interviews and a series of articles about the spectacular Viking Age and our Scandinavian heritage.

Harald Fairhair’s vision, ambition and willpower made the concept of a united Norway a reality. Under the constant threat from Denmark, he forged a nation by unifying the Western coastal regions and took control over the North Way trading routes.

Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia- Lars Magnar Enoksen Herland Report
Lars Magnar Enoksen explains the beliefs of “Åsa tru” or Norse Heathen Religion in the VIKING TV series, click and watch here.

Whether intentional or not, he helped spark the idea of Norwegian unity – an idea that would linger on and inspire generations of Vikings.

One of the main reasons why the Viking tales still are so vividly alive is because the stories were written down shortly after they happened. Several historical sources retell the tales, among them Snorri Sturluson as well as Flateyjarbok and other Scandinavian and British chronicles.

The Sagas tell that to Harald Fairhair, there existed only friends or enemies. Friends were rewarded with gifts and privileges, in exchange for unwavering loyalty.

Enemies were punished ruthlessly with plunder, torture, execution or exile. In this way, he attracted those who were willing to serve him, and confronted those who clearly would not.

“Only a fool trusts a smile, for treachery is always hidden,” says a Norse proverb. Harald ensured himself that he had no treacherous, hidden enemies in his court.

This meant that the myriads of Norwegian chiefs and petty kings who denied Harald, had to flee. The scale and terrible force at which Harald Fairhair stormed through the North Way therefore had major implications in both the Scandinavian world – and the world.

Most importantly, as he was the first unifier of all the Norse lands on the North Way trading route, he became the founder of the Fairhair Dynasty. This was the only bloodline with rightful claims to the throne of the nascent Kingdom.

Its lineage is said to stretch back to Odin – there could be no other King over the North Way than a descendant of Odin and Harald Fairhair. Thus, this dynasty would be at the heart of the struggle for power and dominion over the North Way.

Watch The Herland Report VIKING TV series on YouTube which is catching fire for its unorthodox view on Scandinavia. Host, Hanne Nabintu Herland speaks to Georg Olafr Reydarsson, Halvor Tjønn and Lars Magnar Enoksen and other Scandinavia scholars and activists.

We focus on the spectacular Viking age and its Norwegian kings: Harald Fairhair, Harald Hardrada, Haakon the Good, Olav Trygvasson, Olav Haraldsson the Saint and their Russian kinsmen and friends.


Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia, Herland Report, Ancient Origins
Harald Fairhair Hårfagre depiction by Ancient Origins. The scale and terrible force at which the Norse Norrøn Harald Fairhair stormed through the North Way therefore had major implications in both the Scandinavian world – and the world.


Harald Halfdansson was born in 850 AD. He was the son of the ambitious king Halfdan (Svarte) of the Vestfold, who allegedly traced his lineage back to Odin, making him a member of the Norse Norrøn mythical Yngling dynasty.

Halfdan, called the Black, had spent most of his years hammering together a larger kingdom through diplomacy, intermarriage, intrigue, and brutal warfare. His dominion now included the lands of Vestfold, Ringerike and Sogn – the Western part of Norway with access to fjords and the open seas.


This is an article in a series as we address the Viking Age:


The North Way lucrative Trading Routes


Halfdan sent his son to be raised in Sogn. The little prince grew up in the beautiful fjords of Sogn, taught and tutored by old warriors. The moment came sometime in the 860s, when Halfdan the Black fell into a frozen river and died.

Harald Hairfair Hårfagre’s kingdom was strategically positioned. There was active trade along the Norwegian coast, with hundreds of trading ships sailing from Europe and to the far North of Norway. Harald’s kingdom controlled a good portion of the North Way, granting him some substantial amounts of funds through taxes and tariffs.

In addition, his holdings in Vestfold granted him access to the trading cities of Viken. Among the most lucrative of these were the city of Kaupang, meaning “market place”. With these financial resources, he built his own army.

Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia, Haugesund, Herland Report
The Harald Fairhair Hårfagre statue is situated in the Western coastal town of Haugesund, not far from Karmøy.

Recruiting hard-headed Vikings and locals, as well as training a notorious unit of berserkers, the young King Harald felt ready to pursue his ambitions.

Like historian Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike points out in Vikings at War, Harald desired to control all the petty kingdoms along the North Way to secure the entire trade route for taxation, a very valuable source of income.

The personal touch to this story is as told by the Saga legends that when Harald romantically proposed to the beautiful Gyda, a woman Harald deeply admired, Gyda rejected him, declaring instead that she would only marry him if he was the ruler of all Norway.

Harald allegedly swore never to cut his hair until all of Norway was beneath him.

Due to this, Harald won his epithet “Hårfagre”, or as it is in English, “Fairhair”.

Though this story may contain some truths, the real reason behind Harald’s daring goal was likely to control the profitable North Way trade route.

Harald already had substantial funds raised through commercial taxation along his share of the North Way, but to raise a truly invincible force, he needed more.

The solution was a special tax on inherited wealth – the odel tax.  Inheritance tax on private properties would create another, lucrative source of income that would enable him to finance a vast army.


Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia,Herland Report, Lars Magnar Enoksen.
 Historian Hanne Herland, host for the VIKING TV series, speaks to author Lars Magnar Enoksen about heathenry, Thor, Odin and Åsa Tru modern Viking spiritualism. Watch it here! He says: “What I miss most with the Viking culture is the individual strength and valour of taking full responsibility for your actions. It is cowardly behaviour to flee from the consequences of your blunders.”


The Conquest of Norway


Around 863 AD, Harald Fairhair had the appropriate age and maturity to reign singlehandedly. At the age of just 15 years old, he commenced his first campaign. With the defeat of King Gandalf of Upland and Hake, the Uplands were already subdued.

Harald marched North across Eastern Norway to enter the prosperous and powerful Trondelag (Trøndelag). While marching, he secured the loyalty of his subjects by terrorizing all his opponents with ruthless brutality, wrecking villages by torching households, barns and farms.

He quickly gained reputation as a feared man and Norwegians began surrendering. Those who surrendered were absorbed into Harald’s ever-expanding army. By the time he reached Trondelag, he was already known as a merciless conqueror.

This provided much leverage to Harald when he negotiated with Earl Haakon Grjotgardsson, the Earl of Lade and effective lord of Trondelag. Earl Haakon already feared Harald and preferred a peaceful settlement rather than war. They reached an agreement that practically made Haakon a vassal, in exchange for peace. To seal this new treaty, Harald agreed to marry Haakon’s daughter.

This was an astounding success for the young King. Trondelag was an area populated by plenty of tough fighters, skilled traders and crafty shipbuilders – and he now had won access to all these vital resources without having fought a single battle.

He ordered the immediate construction of a war fleet, and as soon as it was ready, began sailing south along the coastline to subdue the other rivaling petty kingdoms and earldoms, one by one.

It was here that Harald met fierce resistance for the first time. Two kings from Maere (Møre) created an alliance to stop him. When Harald approached the important pass by the island of Ed (Edøy), the Maere alliance confronted him with a major war fleet.


Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia
The Battle at Hafrsfjord, where Harald Fairhair Hårfagre. Disaster ensued: hundreds drowned, while others reached land and began to flee by foot. Most of the enemy commanders were slain or executed. The petty kingdoms of Southern Norway succumbed to Harald, Danish forces were chased out of the country. Harald purged all his enemies. Many were executed, exiled or fled the country. Fairhair had won a crushing victory.


It resulted in a massive naval engagement outside Solskjel. After the battle, Harald was victorious, enabling him to force the lands of Maere into submission. Many chieftains in the area fled and settled on the islands of the North Sea.

Abruptly, the King heard news that the Swedes and Geats, the two strong peoples in modern-day Sweden, threatened his lands to the East. King Eric of Swealand had begun taxing farmers on Harald’s lands, particularly in Ostfold (Østfold). It was also reason to believe that the Swedes would try to invade Viken and Vestfold – such an incursion would strike at the heart of Harald’s realm.

Harald galloped to the East and massacred everyone in opposition and razed entire villages to the ground. King Eric of Swealand was assassinated and battles were fought until the Swedes were beaten into a ceasefire.

Reaching the Göta River, he was stopped, but it suited him well. The river functioned as a natural border to the Geats and Swedes. Harald appointed the old Guttorm as commander of the Eastern territories, before returning West to resume his campaign along the coast.


Battle of Hafrsfjord


What remained was for the King to subdue the South. In the South of Norway, the Danes had many settlements and influence. In addition, rich and powerful kingdoms reigned there, with political connections across the North Sea.

When Harald opened his Southern campaign, the Norwegian kingdoms came together and formed a united front against him. Denmark joined them, as the Danish hegemony and commercial interests in Viken were threatened. Norsemen and Viking raiders from Ireland, the British Isles, the North Sea isles and the rest of Norway, joined forces to stop Harald Fairhair. The final battle for Norway was about to enfold.




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Harald established his military headquarters in Hafrsfjord in Rogaland, part of Southern Norway. This was a fjord consisting of a narrow pass leading to a wide lake-like area. It was a brilliant trap.

With such a narrow passage for entry and exit, he could easily trap the enemy fleet by closing off the narrowest point, ensuring the total rout and slaughter of all the enemy troops.

He then began to raid and campaign around Rogaland, seizing major farms and executing those who revolted. This clearly provoked the enemy alliance, causing them to speed up their mobilisation efforts and, likely, act out of anger and desperation rather than strategic calculations.

By 872 AD, they attacked him in Hafrsfjord. The bay now held 10 000 vicious Northmen, all embarked in longboats and ready for battle.

Harald decided to deploy his ships in a tight formation so that they resembled one, massive floating fortress. He even ordered his men to tie their ships together with ropes. By contrast, the coalition fleet was loosely coordinated, consisting instead of a score of individual Viking longships.

The battle began as the alliance charged towards Harald’s centre, bound on boarding Harald’s royal flagship and kill the King. Harald, in turn, ordered his elite Dragonships to detach from the main fleet and pursue the flagships of the alliance.

The King then revealed his most dangerous weapon yet: the notorious berserkers. These tall warriors were infamous for their explosive and almost uncontrollable style of fighting.

They threw anchors onto enemy ships, jumped aboard and hurled their axes at the men, inflicting heavy casualties on the alliance and spreading fear among the ranks. After just two hours, the allied fleet broke down and ships began to retreat – soon, it led to an all-out rout.

Harald had the narrow exit pass closed and, just as he had planned, had trapped a demoralised, fleeing enemy. Disaster ensued: hundreds drowned, while others reached land and began to flee by foot. Most of the enemy commanders were slain or executed. Harald Fairhair had won a crushing victory.

The petty kingdoms of Southern Norway stood leaderless, and succumbed to Harald’s authority. Danish forces and settlements were chased out of the country. Harald then purged all his enemies. Many were executed, exiled or fled the country.


Viking Norse king of Norway, Harald Fairhair Hårfagre (850 - 933 AD) Scandinavia,Hanne Nabintu Herland Report.
In the VIKING TV series on YouTube, historian of comparative religions and founder of The Herland Report, Hanne Nabintu Herland interviews scholars, historians, authors and Viking enthusiasts about the spectacular age of the Vikings from 750-1100 AD.


For the first time in history, all of the significant lands along the North Way were under the rule of one, single king. Harald Fairhair was the master of the North Way.

The consequences of Fairhair’s conquests had far-reaching effects. His warpath had stirred unrest in many communities, causing its inhabitants to flee from Norway and seek a new home. This triggered a re-settling of various Norwegian chiefs and petty kings, and, through a remarkable sequence of events, would change Europe forever.

A remarkable consequence of Fairhair’s campaigns were the case of Rolf (or Hrolf, Gangerolf) the Walker. After the besiege of Paris in 876 AD, he was offered the town of Rouen, in what later became known as Normandie. From this moment on, the Norsemen Vikings began populating Normandie, from where William the Conqueror later took England in 1066 AD.

Was it not for Harald Fairhair and his brutal reign and conquest of Norway, the Viking decendant William the Conqueror may never have conquered England.


Also check out these topics at CNN or FOX News. Other sources may be New York TimesUSA Today, the Washington Post or from the British angle, BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph or Financial Times.


About the author

The Herland Report Scandinavian news site, TV channel on YouTube and Podcasts have millions of readers/viewers yearly. It is a great place to watch interviews and read the articles of leading intellectuals, thought leaders, authors and activists from across the political spectrum. The Herland Report believes in freedom of speech and its editorial policy resides above the traditional Left vs Right paradigm which we believe has lost its relevance and ability to describe the current driving forces in Western politics.



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