Sweden / King Olof Skötkonung

Sweden - King Olof Skötkonung (995 - 1022)

Olof Skötkonung was King of Sweden, son of Eric the Victorious and, according to Icelandic sources, Sigrid the Haughty. He succeeded his father in 995.

Our knowledge of Olof is mostly based on Snorri Sturluson's and Adam of Bremen's accounts, which have been subject to criticism from source-critical scholars. But according to Adam of Bremen, Sweyn Forkbeard was forced to defend his Danish kingdom from attacks by Olof who claimed the Danish throne. The conflict was resolved by Sweyn's marriage with Olof's mother and the two kings were thereafter allies. Also Snorri Sturluson describes Sweyn and Olof as equal allies when they defeated the Norwegian king Olav Tryggvason in the battle of Svolder 1000, and thereafter divided Norway between themselves.

Olof was baptised in Husaby, probably by the missionary Sigfrid, c.1008. At Husaby parish church, there is a sign commemorating his baptism; nearby is a well thought to be the same sacred spring where Olof was baptised. He was the first Swedish king to remain a Christian until his death. However, according to Adam of Bremen, the fact that the vast majority of the Swedes were still pagan forced him to limit Christian activities to the already Christian border province of Västergötland.

When he stamped coins in Sigtuna in the province of Uppland Olof used the word rex for king. OLUF REX as in the coin displayed above or OLAF REX. The use of Latin seems to suggest that he was already baptised at this time but on the other hand the coins were imitating English pennies in type and style. Sigtuna is written SITUN, ZINT, ZTNETEI, or SIDEI. The two last has been deciphered as Si(gtuna) Dei meaning God's Sigtuna.

His death is said to have taken place in the winter of 1021–1022. According to a legend he was martyred at Stockholm after refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods.

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