Talk:Olaf the Black/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

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Reviewer: J Milburn (talk) 16:37, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

This is a fair-sized article, which would explain the wait you've had for a review, but I'll try to do it justice. Review coming over the course of this evening. J Milburn (talk) 16:37, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Can we perhaps have a source for all these translations of the name?
    • I can't give a specific reference which gives him these Gaelic patronyms (like a ref that calls him "Amhlaibh mac Gofraidh"); they are just straightforward Gaelic forms of the Norse name. I think that the only patronyms that I've seen for him specifically are the Norse and Anglicised ones (Guðrøðarson and Godredsson). At roughly around the period of time when the Crovan dynasty was around, Gaelic was undergoing changes; for example Gofraid began to change to Gofraidh, Amlaíb to Amhlaibh, Ragnall to Raghnall, Sadb to Sadbh, Somairle to Somhairle, and so on. Different books touching on the dynasty use different forms of the names. For example, when the founder of the dynasty, Godred Crovan, is referred to in secondary sources with a Gaelic name, it is almost always Gofraid (since he's from the 11th century). But his great-grandson Rögnvaldr (Óláfr's half-brother) tends to be called in Gaelic Raghnall (since he's from the mid 13th century). At the beginning of McDonald's book he states: "I have favoured a conservative approach to Gaelic names on the principle that it is better to retain a form of spelling beyond the point at which it was current rather than to impose a later usage". So since the dynasty spans over a century, during a period when differing forms of the Gaelic names can be used for these figures, he chose to be consistent and use the 'older' forms like: Gofraid, Ragnall, and on. So I chose to include two possible Gaelic patronymic forms of Óláfr's name in the note, just as extra I suppose, so the reader's aware that they all refer to the same name/person. A couple of different articles on Wikipedia give him different forms: like Donnchadh of Argyll and Lord of Argyll use Amhlaibh.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Seems odd that you render the title of the page as, and the opening line with, "Olaf the Black" but you refer to him throughout the article as Óláfr
    • I've restructured things a bit. He's most commonly known in print as "Olaf the Black". I think it's because his paternal grandfather was also a Óláfr Guðrøðarson, and that the nickname easily differentiates the two. But the latest secondary sources concerning the dynasty and the kingdom tend to use the Old Norse forms for their names. So now I've changed the lead to: "Óláfr Guðrøðarson, commonly known in English as Olaf the Black", followed by a note explaining the names. I think this is the best way to do it so that the reader isn't confused.
  • "by the Bishop of the Isles" Do we know who this was?
  • Do we know the names of the wives? Worth mentioning in the lead?
    • I've named his wives in the lead. We don't know the name of Rögnvaldr's wife from some strange reason.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:23, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "until his death, in 1237" Unwarranted comma?
  • In the background section, his mother's name, as well as a vague DOB would be good additions. I appreociate that the DOB may be difficult. (Actually, I see now that it's in the next section- maybe worth mentioning birth and death dates in the lead as per the MoS
    • I don't think any secondary sources give dates for the women. That particular date "(d. 1166)" is for Finnguala's father.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:27, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • fortnight is not worth linking
  • The first para of "In the Outer Isles, and imprisonment" is a little confusing- three different places are referred to- Lewis, Harris and Lewis and Harris- of course, the third is just the other two considered together
  • "Reginald, Bishop of the Isles, sometime later.[9][note 6]" First of all, do we have an article? Even if not, he's probably worth linking, as a bishop is going to be notable. I understand why you've anglicised this name but not others, but I wonder whether this is the best course of action- consistency is good. Perhaps he could be referred to as Bishop Rögnvaldr, as opposed to Rögnvaldr?
    • There's no wiki-article for Reginald yet. The bishop who died before was named Nicholas, and Reginald's rival was also named Nicholas. The fact that all of these people had similar names is totally confusing! The first Nick has a ODNB bio. I'll try and work on stubs for all three of them after this review. OK I'll go with "Bishop Rögnvaldr".--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "concubine who was a cousin" neither word needs to be linked
    • Fixed.
  • "For example, the chronicle describes Reginald as a son of Óláfr's sister, and notes that Óláfr was glad at his coming to Lewis." I don't understand how this is evidence that it was part of the brothers' fighting
    • I've reworded this whole part now. I've tried to make it clear that the Bishop Rögnvaldr may have aided Óláfr against Rögnvaldr by annulling the marriage. The followup to this statement is the evidence used to support this possibility.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:47, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

That's all for now- I'll finish looking through later. Looking great so far! J Milburn (talk) 17:01, 31 July 2011 (UTC)


  • I'm not seeing how the next point relates to the rivalry- are you meaning to imply that Olaf wanted the marriage dissolved, as a slight to his brother?
    • The suspicion is that Óláfr and Bishop Rögnvaldr conspired to end the marriage, and that they were both opposed to Rögnvaldr. The next sentences in that para are about tying Bishop Rögnvaldr to Óláfr as allies. I've reworded it a bit. I don't think the intent was merely a slight, I think that the plan was to get a wife of his own choosing, someone who could help him. Rögnvaldr was the one who arranged Óláfr's first marriage, so naturally the marriage was meant to suit Rögnvaldr's needs rather than Óláfr's (especially since the two didn't get along). Rögnvaldr' wife, and Óláfr's (first) wife, are thought to have been daughters of either Ragnall mac Somairle, or Ragnall's son Ruaidrí. Ruaidrí was involved with Thomas of Galloway (brother of Alan of Galloway), and later when Rögnvaldr and Óláfr fought each other outright, Rögnvaldr was aided by Alan (and married his daughter to Alan's son). Also, in the 1220s Ruaidrí was driven from Kintyre by the King of Scots. Contrast this with Óláfr's new wife, who was the daughter of Ferchar of Ross, a trusted lord of the King of Scots; Ferchar's powerbase Ross is right across from Lewis and Skye (where Óláfr had his powerbase early on, and where he defeated Rögnvaldr's son). So Óláfr seems to have wanted to tie himself with Ferchar, who was a powerful neighbour. Another thing, Rögnvaldr's wife, and Óláfr's first wife, were a members of Clann Somairle, and McDonald thinks that Rögnvaldr was trying bring the Crovan dynasty into friendly relations with Clann Somairle with these marriages; but later, years after Rögnvaldr was killed, Óláfr was beleaguered by Alan and members of Clann Somairle, so much so that he ended up fleeing to the King of Norway. The King of Scots wasn't on friendly terms with much of Clann Somairle either (remember he booted Ruaidrí out of Kintyre), and it has been noted that the King of Scots would have approved of the marriage-alliance between Óláfr and Ferchar, because it (appeared to have) hemmed in Clann Somairle from the north (Lewis, Skye, Ross).--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 11:38, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Christina, daughter of Ferchar mac an t-sagairt (d. c. 1251)." She died then, or he did?
    • That date is Ferchar's death. I don't think there are any firm dates for any of the women. How can I make this more clear, other than putting a hidden note saying the date refers to Ferchar rather than Christina?--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "about the time of, or not long after the marriage" comma after "after"?
  • "the "island of St Columba"." Presumably, we don't know where this is?
    • Several people has varying ideas where it is. I have made that clear in the text now, and I've given citations.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Óláfr's marriage to one of the King of Scots' most trusted northern lords" The daughter of?
  • "with a more palatable member of Clann Somairle." mention his name in the prose?
  • "However Alexander" Comma after "however"?
  • "and that they consequently appointed Óláfr as their king" What happened to his brother?
    • Fixed. I've added that he is thought to have gone into exile in Galloway with Alan.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Eirspennill version" What does this mean?
    • There are several forms of the saga in existence. The Eirspennill version is thought to represent an early form of the saga, and is considered to be the most authoritative one version of it. I've added edited the sentence to read: "The Eirspennill version of Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar,[27] the most authoritative version of the saga,[28] gives a much more illustrative account, ...".--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • So Olaf was faithful to the Norwegian king, and happy to recognise his decision to give the Isles to someone else?
    • He was faithful vassal to Hákon, but the brutal truth was that he couldn't control the situation on his own. Even after he defeated his half-brother, Óláfr had to deal with Alan and the descendants of Somairle; by 1230 he ended up personally fleeing to the Norwegian court because of it all, and it seems like Hákon had already had enough, as he had already planned to send Óspakr into the Isles before Óláfr even got to Norway. Hákon's reasoning appears to have been that Óspakr, being a descendant of Somairle, could keep his relatives in check where Óláfr couldn't. The thinking is that Hákon may not have intended for Óláfr to lose his domain to Óspakr, but rather that Óspakr would rule a domain over his own over his relatives.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "that the mentioned members of Clann Somairle" Avoid self references, and, anyway, who?
    • Specifically, at least the two sons of Dubgall mac Somairle mentioned in the saga as being "unfaithful" to the Norwegian king, who I have mentioned above in the article per your comment above. But there were many descendants of Somairle around at the period, and secondary sources aren't specific, so I've removed the "mentioned".--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Þórmóðr Þórkelson" Who is he? Was he the one "helping secure the power of Guðrøðr in the Isles"? It's not clear right now.
    • I've changed this part a bit. I've slimmed the Þórmóðr part, and have altogether removed the "helping secure the power of Guðrøðr in the Isles". I just realised that this statement is unsourced, and I can't find where I got that from. I think it might be a late 19th century thing, and I'd rather rely on such an old secondary source in the body of this article. Þórmóðr is likely the son of the Þórkell who was defeated by the fleet the year before. I've added a note saying that someone has connected the two. So now the bit in the article reads: "Following this, the saga recounts how the fleet sailed north to Lewis and displaced a certain Þórmóðr Þórkelson,[27][note 9] and then travelled to Orkney, from where most of the fleet sailed back to Norway."--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "The chronicle states that he died on St Patrick's Isle, on 21 May 1237, and was buried at St Mary's Abbey, Rushen.[note 10]" Ref? Also, ref for the info in the note? (I appreciate that you're sort of in-text citing the Chronicle, but a footnote would still be good).
  • Óláfr (note 13) is a dablink, but I don't think the link is really needed. If you really want a link, a link to the Wiktionary entry for the name would be best.

That's it for the prose. Looking at the images:

  • File:Sword of State (Isle of Man) 2.jpg at first looked problematic, but I see that it's been cropped from File:Sword of State (Isle of Man) 1.jpg. If some more information could be given on the image page, that would be great- the image is pretty clearly PD.
  • The caption "Eilean Chaluim Chille, on Skye. The (former) island sits in a now drained loch. The island was long associated with a man now considered to be Páll Bálkason. It may be the island where Óláfr and Páll attacked and defeated Guðrøðr." is unsourced, and makes claims not made in the prose.
    • This is possibly the "island of St Columba" mentioned in the text. I've added the relevant citation.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Locations mentioned in the article. The first map shows the British Isles in relation to Iceland and Norway; the second map illustrates specific locations associated with the Crovan dynasty in England, Ireland, and Scotland; the third map is of Mann itself." Avoid self references
    • I'm not sure what you'd like me to do here. The caption is really just a description of the maps.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • It'd be great if you could add references to the maps, so that others could check the locations you have marked.

Concerning the references:

  • Be consistent as to whether you provide locations for book publishers (I personally don't)
    • I've removed all locations for ease. I've noticed that GoogleBooks doesn't give the locations; they just give the publisher and ISBN. I don't think any of the books I used here are from GoogleBooks though. Oh well. It should be fixed now.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • "Scott, W. W. (2004), "William I [known as William the Lion[ (c.1142–1214), king of Scots"" Typo? If the square brackets are making a mess of your formatting, use nowiki
  • Be consistent as to whether you use sentence case in article/book titles (I normally capitalise book titles, but not article titles)
    • I've gone through the titles and they should all be consistent now. I've capitalised only the locations and names, and things like: "European", "Celtic", "Norse", "Crovan dynasty", and "Norse-Gaelic".--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Your italics aren't right on the McNamee, Colm reference
  • "The Three Legs of Man, (, retrieved 1 August 2010. This web page cited: Wagner, A. R. (1959–60), "The Origin of the Arms of Man", Manx Museum 6. This web page also cited: Megaw, B. R. S. (1959–60), "The Ship Seals of the Kings of Man", Manx Museum 6. See also: Sword of State, (, retrieved 31 July 2010. This web page cited: Blair, Claude (2003), "The Manx Sword of State", Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society) 11 (2)." I'm not certain about the reliability of this site
  • Ref 40 ends with a double full stop.
  • Page number ranges should use an endash (I think). I don't normally bother with that stuff, but it seems you have used the "correct" dash in some cases, but not others
    • Originally I had all the dashes all Ms and Ns, so it was easy to tell if I was using them incorrectly, but just the other week Jim Sweeney changed them: [1]. He used an automated thing, and from what I can see in the diffs his changes seem to be OK.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Very interesting subject. The sources mostly seem appropriate, and the writing is sound- this is a very nice article. I'd be happy to promote once you've looked into my comments- is this something you are intending to take to featured article candidates? J Milburn (talk) 18:00, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Thanks. It'd be cool to get this to FA, although I know that my writing isn't up to snuff. I'd like to get a number of the Crovan family to GA at least. This book would be a great source for all of these 'Kingdom of the Isles' type articles, but it seems to be due out years from now (although says 2011); the funny thing is that McDonald actually cited 'forthcoming' articles from it way back in 2005! Anyway, that's a book I really want for these articles.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:57, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
    • I think that, based on the changes you've made, this article is now ready for GA status. Those things that you have no changed are not overly problematic, and I'm not seeing any other major issues. It would be interesting to see this at FAC at some point; Ealdgyth (talk · contribs) has written FAs on people from this period, and so she may be a good person to talk to. In addition, a good copyedit and a peer review may be good ideas. Sorry I can't offer much by way of more specific advice, but this article really is looking great. Let me know if the article goes any further, or if I can be of any help in the future. Well done! J Milburn (talk) 09:44, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
      • Congratulations, Brianann! I have been following the process here and learning. Wonderful article! Nora lives (talk) 15:28, 4 August 2011 (UTC)