The Greatest Viking
The Life of Olav Haraldsson
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All books about historical subjects should be as good as this one: but very few actually are
Paints an intensely vivid and colourful portrait of the life and times of arguably the greatest Viking of them all
About the Book
Raider. Conqueror. King. Saint.
This is the story of Olav Haraldsson, the greatest Viking who ever lived.
A ruthless Viking warrior who named his most prized battle weapon after the Norse goddess of death, Olav Haraldsson and his mercenaries wrought terror and destruction from the Baltic to Galicia in the early eleventh century. Thousands were put to the sword, enslaved or ransomed. In England, Canterbury was sacked, its archbishop murdered and London Bridge pulled down. The loot amassed from years of plunder helped Olav win the throne of Norway, and a century after his death he was proclaimed ‘Eternal King’ and has been a national hero there ever since.
Despite his bloodthirsty beginnings, Olav converted to Christianity and, in a personal vendetta against the old Norse gods, made Norway Christian too, thereby changing irrevocably the Viking world he was born into. Told with reference to Norse sagas, early chronicles and the work of modern scholars, Desmond Seward paints an intensely vivid and colourful portrait of the life and times of arguably the greatest Viking of them all.
Desmond Seward was educated at Ampleforth and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Among the most highly regarded popular historians of his generation, he was the author of some thirty books, including biographies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry V, Richard III, Marie Antoinette and Metternich. He died in 2022.
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