History

Stiklestad is famous as the battlefield where King Haraldsson fell on July 29. 1030.

The Battle of Stiklestad represent the keystone event in the introduction of Christianity in Norway. From the 9th century, the country hadgradually become a part of Christian culture, putting Norse religion and mythology on the defensive. The battle also dealt a blow to the resistance to the emerging kingdom. The introduction of Christianity and the end of the Viking raids weakened the old chieftan class. With few exceptions, the kingdom was accepted after 1030, and it was to develop into a state later in the Middle Ages. The saint king became a unifying symbol of this state: Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae-Norways Eternal King.

The battle and the saint king made it possible for Stiklestad to act as a symbol of both Christianity and the kingdom.This has been exploited over the past two centuries. A new nation wasto take shape, and groups of all sizes used Stiklestad to promote national and political objectives.

The Battle of Stiklestad

In 1030,the king returned from Russia to win back the kingdom.The last of the Lade earls had drowned the previous autumn, and the country wasconsidered leaderless. With a small army provided by the Swedish king, he headed north.

We are not sure why the king headed for Trøndelag and Verdal, but we do know that his opponents assembled a large army against him. This agrarian army was said to have been twice the size of the king`s army. These farmer-soldiers mostly came from Trøndelag, especially the Inn-Trøndelag region in the north. The army also included chieftains from Western and Northern Norway, though it is unlikely that they contributed any large numbers of men.

 Why did the farmers rebel against the king?
 The answer to this question, is uncertain. But some clues are chronicled: King Olav could be brutal to his enemies, so many had reason to seek revenge. King Canute of Denmark and England had bought the loyalty of Norwegian chieftains with money and gold.
 In addition, Trøndelag law decreed that if a king who had committed acts of violence against the farmers ever tried to return, then it was the duty of all to rise up in arms.

 What actually happened in the battle and how it progressed is also uncertain. But it seems that the king arrived first, and could choose his position. He positioned his army on a hill, allowing him to attack from the higher vantage point. The peasant army was on a flat area, which must be where Stiklestad church is located today. The landscape here has changed completely because of subsequent landslides.
 Tradition has it that the king died from three wounds. First, a man named Torstein Knarresmed, inflicted a serious injury with his axe. The king then leaned against a rock and threw his sword away, understanding that death was imminent. The altar in the church is supposedly on the site of the rock. The other two wounds were inflicted by the chieftains in the farmer`s army, Tore Hund and Kalv Arneson, with a spear and an axe. It is not difficult to see that this story has legendary undertones.

Saint Olav

Olav Haraldsson was king of Norway from 1015 to 1030.

In his youth he took part in Viking raids, journeying eastwards as well as to the west, both the Baltic region and England. It was on such voyages that he became familiar with Christianity, and he was probably baptized in Rouen, France, in about 1013. Most Norwegians had probably converted to Christianity before Olav Haraldsson`s time, but he acted as a missionary king in certain parts of the country, and the Norwegian Church was founded in his time.In 1028, he had to flee east to what is now Russia,and he fell at Stiklestad when he tried to regain the kingdom two years later.

OlavHaraldsson`s reign appears to have lasted about a decade. He defeated the earls of Lade who ruled Trøndelag at the time, as well as other chieftans. Other pledged their allegiance to him more or less voluntarily. From the middle of the 1020 however,the situation changed. King Canute of Denmark and England gradually won the allegiance and many of the king`s opponents in Norway. Finally this alliance became too powerful for King Olav, who was forced to flee in 1028.