Erling Skakke (1115 – 18 June 1179) was a Norwegian Jarl during the 12th century. He was the father of Magnus V, who reigned as King of Norway from 1161 to 1184.
Erling Skakke was born in Etne in the county of Hordaland, the son of Kyrpinga-Orm. He earned his reputation crusading with Rögnvald Kali Kolsson, the Earl of Orkney in the Mediterranean from 1152 to 1155. Erling first sailed to the Holy Land, then Constantinople, and lastly visited Rome. During a battle with Arabwarriors on Sicily a sword-wielding Arab cut Erling in the neck. This caused him from then on to tilt his head to one side ("skakke" means slanted). He was married to Kristina, the daughter of Sigurd Jorsalfar and they had a son. Erling was the guardian of King Inge and was one of the leaders of lendmannspartiet after King Inge's death in 1161. Erling Skakke managed to have elected his son, Magnus Erlingsson as the king of Norway in 1161 and crowned in 1163, at the age of eight. Erling took the title of earl and held the real power since Magnus was a minor.
In 1166, Sigurd Agnhatt and his foster son Olav Ugjæva raised a force in Oppland, and had Olav proclaimed king, while earl Erling Skakke was away in Denmark. Olav was the son of Maria Øysteinsdotter, the daughter of former king Øystein Magnusson. After Erling returned to Norway to fight this uprising, Olav and his men attacked Erling in an ambush at Rydjokul in Sørum. Erling was wounded and barely escaped. In 1168 Olav and his men ventured south to the Oslofjord area, but were there defeated in battle at Stanger in Våler. Sigurd was killed in the battle, but Olav escaped and went to Denmark.
Erling was a talented man, but he was not known for noble qualities. His enemies were ruthless, especially when it concerned their own position and that of their sons. In 1164, he founded Halsnøy Abbey, a monastery of Augustinian Canons, at Halsnøy on the Hardangerfjord.