Olaf Guthrithsson

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Was one of the more impressive Viking leaders of his day. His father (Guthrith II) had held the kingdom of Dublin and, briefly, the kingdom of York. Succeeding him at Dublin in 934, Olaf joined forces in 937 with the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde in a grand attack upon Athelstan, which resulted in their crushing defeat at Brunanburh. Olaf escaped with difficulty and restored his position in Ireland. On the death of Athelstan in 939, Olaf led another invasion, took possession of York, and began a raid on Mercia, storming Tamworth. The new young king of Wessex, Edmund, hastened to make terms, negotiated by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, whereby Olaf agreed to receive baptism but was ceded all the lands north of Watling Street. That Olaf's rule of his new territories was a reality is indicated by his coins struck at Derby. The outlines of a great new power bloc, stretching across northern England and Ireland, were visible, but in 941 Olaf died while campaigning in Northumbria. He was said by Roger of Wendover to have married Aldgyth, daughter of a Danish nobleman called Orm, perhaps as his second wife. It is clear that Olaf thought on a grand scale and was a young warrior of more than common ability.

Subjects: British History.

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