Håkonsson, assumed to have been a grandson of Sverre
Sigurdsson, was the longest reigning Norwegian king since Harald Hårfagre
(Fairhair). The beginning of his reign was marked by unrest but by1227
the last insurrection had been quelled. However, the events had led to
tense relations between Håkon and Earl Skule Bårdsson. Skule
refused to give up his ambition of becoming king. Skule was granted the
royal title by the «Øreting» assembly in Trøndelag
in 1239 forcing Håkon to take up arms. Eventually, Skule sought refuge
in the Elgeseter monastery, but Håkonís «Birkebeiner»
supporters set fire to the buildings. Skule was killed with swords when
he had to escape from the flames.
With Skuleís death, the civil wars came to an end. In keeping with the European ecclesiastical view of the monarchy, Håkon bypassed his oldest son as heir since he was born out of wedlock. Instead, he appointed his oldest legitimate son as his successor to the throne. The son in question was Magnus, who was later to be given the sobriquet Lawmender (Lagabøte).
Having secured the church as his ally, Håkon was now able to focus his attention on foreign politics and issues of trade. Håkon was the first king to secure a trade agreement with Lübeck. He also signed treaties with Novgorod and maintained the traditional commercial ties with England. Håkon put much effort into strengthening Norwegian hegemony in the North Sea islands. Towards the end of Håkonís life Iceland and Greenland became Norwegian tributaries. Håkonís Norwegian «empire» had now come to include the Orkneys, the Faeroe Islands, Shetland, the Hebrides, Iceland and Greenland. Nonetheless, the Norwegian focus in trade and foreign policies was increasingly being oriented towards the east and the south. This shift was to have grave consequences for the Norwegian monarchy.
Håkon died in the Orkneys during a naval campaign following the Scottish kingís attack on the Hebrides