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Magnus, St

Magnus, St (c.1075–c.1117). Magnus was the victim of his ambitious cousin Haakon, who intrigued with the Norwegian king Magnus Barefoot to bring about the downfall of their fathers, ruling earls of the Orkney Islands. The king installed his own son in their place. Magnus was seized, compelled to take part in coastal raids, but refused to fight against the Welsh at Anglesey. He finally escaped, taking refuge first at the Scottish court, then in a bishop's house in Britain, living a life of prayer and penitence. When the Norwegian king died, Haakon returned to rule the Orkneys. Magnus claimed his share of the earldom, but within a few years Haakon determined to dispose of his political rival. Magnus, with a few retainers, was invited to meet and confirm a covenant of peace, but was confronted by Haakon and a large armed retinue. Offering no resistance, he accepted his death, absolving the man ordered to kill him. Kirkwall cathedral is dedicated to him.

Audrey MacDonald

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