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  • The Battle of Svolder was a naval battle fought in September 999 or 1000 in the western Baltic Sea between King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway and an alliance of his enemies. The backdrop of the battle was the unification of Norway into a single state, long-standing Danish efforts to gain control of the country, and the spread of Christianity in Scandinavia. King Olaf was sailing home after an expedition to Wendland, when he was ambushed by an alliance of Svein Forkbeard, King of Denmark, Olof Skötkonung, King of Sweden, and Eirik Hákonarson, Jarl of Lade. Olaf had only 11 warships in the battle against a fleet of at least 70. His ships were captured one by one, last of all the Ormen Lange, which Jarl Eirik captured as Olaf threw himself into the sea. After the battle, Norway was ruled by the Jarls of Lade as a fief of Denmark and Sweden. The most detailed sources on the battle, the kings' sagas, were written approximately two centuries after it took place. Historically unreliable, they offer an extended literary account describing the battle and the events leading up to it in vivid detail. The sagas ascribe the causes of the battle to Olaf Tryggvason's ill-fated marriage proposal to Sigrid the Haughty and his problematic marriage to Thyri, sister of Svein Forkbeard. As the battle starts Olaf is shown dismissing the Danish and Swedish fleets with ethnic insults and bravado while admitting that Eirik Hákonarson and his men are dangerous because "they are Norwegians like us". The best known episode in the battle is the breaking of Einarr Þambarskelfir's bow, which heralds Olaf's defeat.

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