Olaf Guthfrithson

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For other people named Olaf Guthfrithson or Amlaíb mac Gofraid, see Olaf Guthfrithson (disambiguation).
Olaf Guthfrithson
King of Dublin
Reign 934 – 941
Predecessor Guthfrith
Successor Blácaire
King of Northumbria
Reign 939 – 941
Predecessor Edmund I
Successor Amlaíb Cuarán
Consort Daughter of Constantine II (m. 937 - ?)
Aldgyth (m. 940 - ?)
Issue Cammán
House House of Ivar
Father Guthfrith
Died 941

Olaf Guthfrithsson (Old Norse: Óláfr Guðfriðarson; Old English: Ánláf; rendered in Old Irish writings as Amlaíb mac Gofraid)[1] (died 941) was a member of the Norse-Gael Uí Ímair dynasty and King of Dublin from 934 to 941. He succeeded his father, Gofraid ua Ímair, who was also briefly king of York in 927 following the death of his kinsman Sitric Cáech, but was expelled in the same year by king Æthelstan of England.

In August 937 Olaf defeated his Norse rivals based at Limerick, leaving him free to pursue his family claim to the throne of York.[2] He married the daughter of king Constantine II of Scotland, and also allied himself with Owen I of Strathclyde. In the autumn 937, Olaf led his allies into battle against Æthelstan in the Battle of Brunanburh and was decisively defeated.

After Athelstan's death in 939, Olaf again invaded York the same year, forcing Athelstan's successor, Edmund, into a treaty which ceded to Olaf Northumbria and part of Mercia. Uniquely, the legend of his silver penny minted at York is not in Latin or Old English but in Old Norse; the bird emblem perhaps represents the raven associated with the battle-god Odin.[3] He did not get to enjoy his new lands for long, dying just two years later in 941. He was succeeded by Amlaíb Cuarán. This traditional view of Guthfrithson's later career has recently been disputed by Kevin Halloran - see Further Reading below. The basic argument presented is that Guthfrithson did not rule in York and the suggestion that only one Anlaf, Anlaf Cuaran, was king there may explain some of the apparent anomalies in the numismatic record. There has been speculation that a skeleton found at Auldhame, East Lothian in Scotland may be that of Guthfrithsson.[4]

Cammán mac Amlaíb, who is possibly identical to Sitriuc Cam, has been identified as one of Olaf's sons.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Amlaíb's patronymic does not appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; his presumed brother Ragnall or Rægenald is called "Guðferþes sunu" (Ms. A, s.a. 944)
  2. ^ Smyth, Alfred (1987). Scandinavian York and Dublin. Irish Academic Press. pp. 34–36. ISBN 0-7165-2365-5. 
  3. ^ Noted in Richard Hall, Viking Age Archaeology 1995:25 and fig. 9.
  4. ^ "East Lothian skeleton may be 10th Century Irish Viking king". BBC News. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 

References[edit]

  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. [1]

Further reading[edit]

Olaf Guthfrithson
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gofraid
King of Dublin
934–941
Succeeded by
Blácaire
Preceded by
Athelstan
King of Northumbria
939–941
Succeeded by
Amlaíb Cuarán
Preceded by
Gofraid
King of the Dark and Fair Foreigners
934–941
Succeeded by
title extinct