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The Greatest Viking

The Life of Olav Haraldsson

by Desmond Seward


Free UK Delivery
ISBN: 9781780277950
Published: 03 Nov 2022
Format: Hardback
Extent: 272
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Birlinn
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About the Book

A national hero in his native land, Olav Haraldsson has as much resonance for the Norwegians as King Arthur does for the British. Unlike Arthur, however, Olav was a real historical figure: a ruthless Viking warrior who named his axe after the Norse goddess of death and took part in Svein Forkbeard’s invasion of England, during which he pulled down London Bridge and sacked Canterbury (and watched its archbishop stoned to death). Later, the loot amassed from years of plunder helped him win the throne of Norway.

Yet in a personal vendetta against the old Norse gods, Olav made Norway Christian, though cutting out the tongues and gouging out the eyes of anybody who remained pagan. Canonised after his death, his tomb became a national shrine, and churches were dedicated to him throughout Scandinavia and beyond.

With reference to Norse sagas and early chronicles, veteran historian Desmond Seward has written a vivid, colourful and insightful account of a remarkable man and the times in which he lived.

The Author

Desmond Seward

Desmond Seward was educated at Ampleforth and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. One of the most highly regarded popular historians of his generation, he was the author of numerous books, ranging from studies of medieval kings to biographies of Napoleon and Hitler, to a history of the Jacobite era. His books The Hundred Years’ War and The Wars of the Roses are regarded as standard works on their subjects. He died in April 2022.

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