The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Norwegian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Norwegian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Norwegian Politicians.
With an HPI of 84.92, Harald Fairhair is the most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 47 different languages on wikipedia.
Harald I Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr inn hárfagri [ˈhɑrˌɑldz̠ inː ˈhɑːrˌfɑɣre]; Norwegian: Harald hårfagre; Modern Icelandic: Haraldur hárfagri [ˈhaːrˌaltʏr ˈhaurˌfaɣrɪ]; putatively c. 850 – c. 932) is portrayed by the Icelandic sagas as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Supposedly, two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald, respectively, to become kings after his death. Much of Harald's biography remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. Indeed, although it is possible to write a detailed account of Harald as a character in medieval Icelandic sagas, it is even possible to argue that there was no such historical figure at all. His life is described in several of the Kings' sagas, none of them older than the twelfth century. Their accounts of Harald and his life differ on many points, but it is clear that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Harald was regarded as having unified Norway into one kingdom. Since the nineteenth century, when Norway was in a personal union with Sweden, Harald has become a national icon of Norway and a symbol of independence. Though the king's sagas and medieval accounts have been critically scrutinised during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Harald maintains a reputation as the father of the Norwegian nation.
With an HPI of 82.51, Harald V of Norway is the 2nd most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Harald V (born 21 February 1937) is the King of Norway. He acceded to the throne on 17 January 1991. Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father. In 1940, as a result of the German occupation during World War II, the royal family went into exile. Harald spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the United States. He returned to Norway in 1945, and subsequently studied for periods at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Military Academy and Balliol College, Oxford. Following the death of his grandfather Haakon VII in 1957, Harald became crown prince as his father became king. A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing. Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, their relationship having initially been controversial due to her status as a commoner. The couple had two children, Märtha Louise and Haakon. Harald became king following his father's death in 1991, with Haakon becoming his heir apparent. He is a great-grandson of Edward VII of the United Kingdom and second cousin of Elizabeth II.
With an HPI of 79.26, Olaf Tryggvason is the 3rd most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.
Olaf Tryggvason (960s – 9 September 1000) was King of Norway from 995 to 1000. He was the son of Tryggvi Olafsson, king of Viken (Vingulmark, and Rånrike), and, according to later sagas, the great-grandson of Harald Fairhair, first King of Norway. He is numbered as Olaf I. Olaf is seen as an important factor in the conversion of the Norse to Christianity. Many of these new converts were converted under threat of violence. He is said to have built the first Christian church in Norway, in 995, and to have founded the city of Trondheim in 997. A statue of Olaf Tryggvason is located in the city's central plaza. Historical information on Olaf is sparse. He is mentioned in some contemporary English sources, and some skaldic poems. The oldest narrative source mentioning him briefly is Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum of circa 1070. In the 1190s, two Latin versions of "Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar" were written in Iceland, by Oddr Snorrason and by Gunnlaugr Leifsson - these are now lost, but are thought to form the basis of later Norse versions. Snorri Sturluson gives an extensive account of Olaf in the Heimskringla saga of circa 1230, using Oddr Snorrason's saga as his primary source. Modern historians do not assume that these late sources are accurate, and their credibility is debated. The most detailed account is named Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta ("Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason") and is recorded in the Flateyjarbók, and in the early 15th-century Bergsbók.
With an HPI of 78.88, Olaf II of Norway is the 4th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Olaf II Haraldsson (c. 995 – 29 July 1030), later known as Saint Olaf (and traditionally as St. Olave), was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. Son of Harald Grenske, a petty king in Vestfold, Norway, he was posthumously given the title Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae (English: Eternal/Perpetual King of Norway) and canonised at Nidaros (Trondheim) by Bishop Grimkell, one year after his death in the Battle of Stiklestad on 29 July 1030. His remains were enshrined in Nidaros Cathedral, built over his burial site. His sainthood encouraged the widespread adoption of Christianity by Scandinavia's Vikings/Norsemen. Pope Alexander III confirmed Olaf's local canonisation in 1164, making him a universally recognised saint of the Roman Catholic Church. He became an equally important saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church (feast day 29 July) and one of the last famous saints before the Great Schism. Following the Reformation he was a commemorated historical figure among some members of the Lutheran and Anglican Communions.The saga of Olav Haraldsson and the legend of Olaf the Saint became central to a national identity. Especially during the period of romantic nationalism, Olaf was a symbol of Norwegian independence and pride. Saint Olaf is symbolised by the axe in Norway's coat of arms and Olsok (29 July) is still his day of celebration. Many Christian institutions with Scandinavian links as well as Norway's Order of St. Olav are named after him.
With an HPI of 78.45, Vidkun Quisling is the 5th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.
Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling (, Norwegian: [ˈvɪ̂dkʉn ˈkvɪ̂slɪŋ] (listen); 18 July 1887 – 24 October 1945) was a Norwegian military officer, politician and Nazi collaborator who nominally headed the government of Norway during the country's occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. He first came to international prominence as a close collaborator of the explorer Fridtjof Nansen, and through organising humanitarian relief during the Russian famine of 1921 in Povolzhye. He was posted as a Norwegian diplomat to the Soviet Union and for some time also managed British diplomatic affairs there. He returned to Norway in 1929 and served as Minister of Defence in the governments of Peder Kolstad (1931–32) and Jens Hundseid (1932–33) in representing the Farmers' Party. In 1933, Quisling left the Farmers' Party and founded the fascist Nasjonal Samling (National Union). Although he gained some popularity after his attacks on the political left, his party failed to win any seats in the Storting, and by 1940, it was still little more than peripheral. On 9 April 1940, with the German invasion of Norway in progress, he attempted to seize power in the world's first radio-broadcast coup d'état but failed since the Germans refused to support his government. From 1942 to 1945, he served as Prime Minister of Norway and headed the Norwegian state administration jointly with the German civilian administrator, Josef Terboven. His pro-Nazi puppet government, known as the Quisling regime, was dominated by ministers from Nasjonal Samling. The collaborationist government participated in Germany's Final Solution, a genocidal program targeting Jews. Quisling was put on trial during the legal purge in Norway after World War II. He was found guilty of charges including embezzlement, murder and high treason against the Norwegian state, and was sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad at Akershus Fortress, Oslo, on 24 October 1945. The term "quisling" has become a byword for "collaborator" or "traitor" in several languages and reflects the contempt with which Quisling's conduct has been regarded both at the time and later.
With an HPI of 77.48, Trygve Lie is the 6th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.
Trygve Halvdan Lie ( LEE, Norwegian: [ˈtrʏ̀ɡvə ˈliː] (listen); 16 July 1896 – 30 December 1968) was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. He served as Norwegian foreign minister during the critical years of the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. Lie earned a reputation as a pragmatic, determined politician.
With an HPI of 77.21, Eric Bloodaxe is the 7th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.
Eric Haraldsson (died 954), nicknamed Eric Bloodaxe, was a 10th-century Norwegian ruler. It is widely speculated that he had short-lived terms as King of Norway and twice as King of Northumbria (c. 947–948 and 952–954).
With an HPI of 77.14, Gro Harlem Brundtland is the 8th most famous Norwegian Politician. Her biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈɡruː ˈhɑ̀ːlɛm ˈbrʉ̀ntlɑnː]; born Gro Harlem, 20 April 1939) is a Norwegian politician, who served three terms as Prime Minister of Norway (1981, 1986–89, and 1990–96) and as Director-General of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003. She is also known for having chaired the Brundtland Commission which presented the Brundtland Report on sustainable development. Educated as a physician, Brundtland joined the Labour Party and entered the government in 1974 as Minister of the Environment. She became the first female Prime Minister of Norway on 4 February 1981, but left office on 14 October 1981; she returned as Prime Minister on 9 May 1986 and served until 16 October 1989. She finally returned for her third term on 3 November 1990. From 1981 to 1992 she was leader of the Labour Party. After her surprise resignation as Prime Minister in 1996, she became an international leader in sustainable development and public health, and served as Director-General of the World Health Organization and as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change from 2007 to 2010. She is also deputy chair of The Elders and a former Vice-President of the Socialist International. Brundtland belonged to the moderate wing of her party and supported Norwegian membership in the European Union during the 1994 referendum. As Prime Minister Brundtland became widely known as the "mother of the nation." Brundtland received the 1994 Charlemagne Prize, and has received many other awards and recognitions.
With an HPI of 75.41, Haakon IV of Norway is the 9th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Haakon IV Haakonsson (ca. March/April 1204 – 16 December 1263; Old Norse: Hákon Hákonarson [ˈhɑːˌkon ˈhɑːˌkonɑrˌson]; Norwegian: Håkon Håkonsson), sometimes called Haakon the Old in contrast to his namesake son, was King of Norway from 1217 to 1263. His reign lasted for 46 years, longer than any Norwegian king since Harald Fairhair. Haakon was born into the troubled civil war era in Norway, but his reign eventually managed to put an end to the internal conflicts. At the start of his reign, during his minority, Earl Skule Bårdsson served as regent. As a king of the birkebeiner faction, Haakon defeated the uprising of the final bagler royal pretender, Sigurd Ribbung, in 1227. He put a definitive end to the civil war era when he had Skule Bårdsson killed in 1240, a year after he had himself proclaimed king in opposition to Haakon. Haakon thereafter formally appointed his own son as his co-regent. Under Haakon's rule, medieval Norway is considered to have reached its zenith or golden age. His reputation and formidable naval fleet allowed him to maintain friendships with both the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, despite their conflict. He was at different points offered the imperial crown by the pope, the Irish high kingship by a delegation of Irish kings, and the command of the French crusader fleet by the French king. He amplified the influence of European culture in Norway by importing and translating contemporary European literature into Old Norse, and by constructing monumental European-style stone buildings. In conjunction with this he employed an active and aggressive foreign policy, and at the end of his rule added Iceland and the Norse Greenland community to his kingdom, leaving Norway at its territorial height. Although he for the moment managed to secure Norwegian control of the islands off the northern and western shores of Great Britain, he fell ill and died when wintering in Orkney following some military engagements with the expanding Scottish kingdom.
With an HPI of 74.95, Harald Hardrada is the 10th most famous Norwegian Politician. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Harald Sigurdsson, also known as Harald of Norway (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066) and given the epithet Hardrada (Old Norse: harðráði, modern Norwegian: Hardråde, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed both the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Before becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus' and of the Varangian Guard in the Byzantine Empire. When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced into exile to Kievan Rus' (the sagas' Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus' for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus' in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald's knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf's illegitimate son Magnus the Good. In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus's rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn II of Denmark, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald's reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut's "North Sea Empire", Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after Harald had renounced his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen (but reigning not for long) English king Harold Godwinson (also known as Harold of Wessex), pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and invaded Northern England with 10,000 troops and 300 longships in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces of Northumbria and Mercia in the Battle of Fulford near York on 20 September 1066. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in a surprise attack by Harold Godwinson's forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066, which wiped out almost his entire army. Modern historians have often considered Harald's death, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age.
Pantheon has 94 people classified as politicians born between 850 and 1983. Of these 94, 25 (26.60%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Harald V of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Jens Stoltenberg. The most famous deceased politicians include Harald Fairhair, Olaf Tryggvason, and Olaf II of Norway. As of October 2020, 8 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Otto Blehr, Ivar Lykke, and Jo Benkow.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.