King Olaf — a dwarf?

Sounds more like Lord of Rings than the Lord of Man but in a new book by Charlie Connolly, he introduces the reader to Olaf the Dwarf, king of the Isle of Man (c1150), who is known for his “pious heart and perky libido”. The book is entitled: And Did Those Feet: Walking Through 2,000 Years of British and Irish History By Charlie Connelly Little, Brown 308pp, £12.99. There’s a great review on the Irish Times site.

According to Wikipedia [which isn’t always right] Olaf 1 Godredsson was King of Man from 1104 to 1153 and his nickname was Morsel. Here’s what else it says. I am hoping that Dr. Chris Snyder may read this and comment as it’s his area of expertise.

Olav I was King of Mann and the Isles and was born around 1080 and died 29 June 1153. His father was King Godred Crovan. He succeeded, either together or after, his one or two brothers. Lagman who held the throne at between 1103-04 apparently was his (eldest) brother. Norway’s Kings Magnus Barefoot and Sigurd Jorsalafare annexed the kingdom and caused disruption in successions. For forty years Olaf ruled them uncontested. The Kingdom of Mann and the Isles encompassed the Isle of Man and the Hebrides, extending from the Calf of Man to the Butt of Lewis. Olaf adopted the Latin style Rex Manniae et Insularum in his charters, a translation of the Gaelic title ri Innse Gall (literally ‘king of the foreigners’ isles’), which had been in use since the late 10th century.

The islands which were under his rule were called the Sullr-eyjar (Sudreys or the south isles, in contradistinction to the Norsr-eyjar, or the “north isles,” i.e. the Orkneys and Shetlands, and they consisted of the Hebrides, and of all the smaller western islands of Scotland, with Mann. Olaf I exercised considerable power, and according to the Chronicles of Mann, maintained such close alliance with the kings of Ireland and Scotland that no one ventured to disturb the Isles during his time (1104 – 1153).

In the 1130s the Church sent a small mission to establish the first bishopric on the Isle of Man, and appointed Wimund as the first bishop. He soon after gave up his role as fisher-of-men, and became the hunter-of-men, embarking with a band of followers on a career of murder and looting throughout Scotland and the surrounding islands. During the whole of the Scandinavian period the isles remained nominally under the suzerainty of the kings of Norway, but the Norwegians only occasionally asserted it with any vigour. Magnus Barfod about 1100 conquered the isles. Olaf’s first wife was Aufrica of Galloway, who bore herself and him a son and successor, Godred Olafsson. His second wife was Ingeborg Haakonsdottir, daughter of Haakon, Earl of the Orkneys. This marriage produced at least daughter Ragnhild, who married Somerled, King of Kintyre and the Isles. Reginald, Lagmann and Harald are mentioned as his other sons. After half a century of reign, Olaf I was killed.

HAT TIP: Dr. Ken Milne