Haakon V Magnusson

king of Norway
Alternative Titles: Håkon Magnusson den Eldre, Haakon Magnusson the Elder

Haakon V Magnusson, byname Haakon Magnusson the Elder, Norwegian Håkon Magnusson den Eldre, (born 1270, Norway—died May 8, 1319, Norway), king of Norway (1299–1319) whose anti-English foreign policy paved the way for the commercial domination of Norway by north German traders of the Hanseatic League. His reign marked the end of the “golden age” in medieval Norwegian history.

The younger son of Magnus VI Lawmender, Haakon succeeded his older brother, Erik II Magnusson, in 1299. Determined to reduce the power of the higher nobles and clerics, which had increased during Erik’s reign, Haakon abolished the title of baron in 1308, removed members of the aristocracy from the royal council, and regained the right to appoint selected priests. He built several royal fortresses, most notably the one at Akershus. His shift of the centre of the government eastward from the North Sea ports reflected the decline in contacts with Norway’s western colonies and in royal revenues from trade.

Haakon continued the preferential treatment given to Hanseatic traders by his brother Erik (reigned 1280–99), thus arousing the resentment of English merchants. He complemented his anti-English trade policy by siding with the Scots in their revolt against English rule. He also was embroiled in intermittent wars against Denmark and Sweden throughout his reign.

Haakon and especially his wife, Euphemia, were enthusiastic patrons of the arts and commissioned the writing and translation of many chivalric romances. Because he had no sons, he revised the law of succession, enabling Magnus VII Eriksson, the son of his daughter Ingeborg and her husband, the Swedish prince Erik, to succeed him.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Chelsey Parrott-Sheffer, Research Editor.

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