Haakon II of Norway

Haakon Magnusson Herdebrei
King of Norway
Reign 1157 – 7 July 1162
Predecessor Inge Haraldsson and Eystein Haraldsson
Successor Magnus Erlingsson
Full name
Haakon Sigurdsson
Father Sigurd Munn
Mother Thora
Born 1147
Died 7 July 1162

Haakon II Sigurdsson (1147 – 7 July 1162), also known as Haakon Herdebrei, was King of Norway from 1157 until 1162 during the Civil war era in Norway.


His nickname, Herdebrei, means broad-shouldered. An illegitimate son of Sigurd Munn, in 1157 he was named heir of his uncle Eystein II, who had been co-ruler of Norway with his brothers, Inge Haraldsson and Sigurd Munn. Following the death of his brothers, Inge had become the sole ruler of Norway.

The former supporters of Sigurd Munn and Eystein II united behind Haakon, renewing the fight against King Inge I. These supporters continued fight against forces under the leadership of Sigurd Håvardsson of Hedmark. On 3 February 1161, King Inge was defeated and killed, leading his men into battle against King Haakon near Oslo after many of his men led, by his vassal Godred II Olafsson, defected to King Haakon’s side.

On July 7, 1162, King Haakon was killed in the Battle of Sekken (Slaget ved Sekken) not far from the market town Veøya in Romsdalen. After Inge’s fall, his supporters had rallied behind the lendmann Erling Skakke and his son, Magnus Erlingsson. After his death, Haakon was succeeded as king of Norway by King Magnus V.

Historic context

Haakon Herdebreis saga-Tittelfrise-G. Munthe.jpg

The Civil war era in Norway extended over a 110 year period. It started with the death of King Sigurd I of Norway in 1130 and ended with the death of Duke Skule Baardsson in 1240. During this period there were several interlocked conflicts of varying scale and intensity. The background for these conflicts were the unclear Norwegian succession laws, social conditions and the struggle between Church and King. There were then two main parties, firstly known by varying names or no names at all, but finally condensed into parties of Bagler and Birkebeiner. The rallying point regularly was a royal son, who was set up as the head figure of the party in question, to oppose the rule of king from the contesting party.


Haakon Herdebrei
Cadet branch of the Fairhair dynasty
Born: 1147 Died: July 7 1162
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Inge Back-bent &
Eystein Haraldsson
King of Norway
with Inge Haraldsson (1157–1161)
Magnus Erlingsson (1161–1162)
Succeeded by
Magnus Erlingsson

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