Kings of Norway

Harald Fairhair – Harald Hårfagre

Born ca. 860, died ca. 932
Son of King Halfdan the Black and Ragnhild Sigurdsdatter
Ruled ca. 875 – 932


Harald Fairhair 

Harald was one of many petty kings in Viking Age Norway. Snorri Sturluson writes in Heimskringla that one day Harald sent some of his men to a beautiful maiden named Gyda. They were to ask her if she would become Harald’s mistress. Gyda replied that she was only interested in him if he became king of all of Norway! When Harald heard this, he decided to unite Norway into one kingdom. He would not cut his hair, he said, until the task was completed.

At Hafrsfjord, not far from where Stavanger lies today, Harald won the decisive battle. Now the kingdom was his and he could cut his long hair. After this, people called him Harald Fairhair.

Harald had a number of wives and many sons, and they helped him rule the land.

Harald Hårfagre

Harald var en av mange småkonger i vikingtidens Norge. Snorre Sturluson skriver i Heimskringla at Harald en dag sendte noen av mennene sine til ei vakker jente som het Gyda. De skulle spørre henne om hun ville bli Haralds kjæreste. Gyda svarte at hun bare var interessert i ham dersom han ble konge over hele Norge! Da Harald hørte dette, bestemte han seg for å samle Norge til ett rike, og sa at han ikke skulle klippe håret før det var fullført.

Ved Hafrsfjord, ikke langt fra der Stavanger ligger i dag, vant Harald det endelige slaget. Nå var riket hans og han kunne klippe det lange håret sitt. Etter dette kalte folk ham for Harald Hårfagre.

Harald hadde flere koner og fikk mange sønner, og de hjalp ham med å styre landet.


This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Alan Dunbar

Award-winning baritone Alan Dunbar holds a bachelor’s degree in music theory and composition from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and advanced degrees in vocal performance from Indiana University in Bloomington. Dunbar was a founding member of the Minnesota-based internationally acclaimed male chamber vocal ensemble Cantus. They made numerous recordings and sang throughout North America and Europe from 1998-2004. Dunbar continues to perform as a soloist and teaches voice at Winona State University in Winona, Minn.