HAAKON IV., surnamed " the Old " (1204-1263), was declared to be the son of Haakon III., who died shortly before the former's birth in 1204. A year later the child was placed under the protection of King Inge, after whose death in 1217 he was chosen king; though until 1223 the church refused to recognize him, on the ground of illegitimacy, and the Pope's dispensation for his coronation was not gained until much later. In the earlier part of his reign much of the royal power was in the hands of Earl Skule, who intrigued against the king until 1239, when he proceeded to open hostility and was put to death. From this time onward Haakon's reign was marked by more peace and prosperity than Norway had known for many years, until in 1263 a dispute with the Scottish king concerning the Hebrides, a Norwegian possession, induced Haakon to undertake an expedition to the west of Scotland. A division of his army seems to have repulsed a large Scottish force at Largs (though the later Scottish accounts claim this battle as a victory), and, having won back the Norwegian possessions in Scotland, Haakon was wintering in the Orkneys, when he was taken ill and died on the 15th of December 1263. A great part of his fleet had been scattered and destroyed by storms. The most important event in his reign was the voluntary submission of the Icelandic commonwealth. Worn out by internal strife fostered by Haakon's emissaries, the Icelandic chiefs acknowledged the Norwegian king as overlord in 1 262. Their example was followed by the colony of Greenland.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)