Harold Harefoot

Harold Harefoot

Infobox British Royalty|Monarch
title=King of England
name=Harold Harefoot

imagesize= 250px
reign=12 November 1035 – 17 March 1040
predecessor=Canute the Great
date of birth=c. 1015
place of birth=
date of death=death date|1040|3|17|mf=y
place of death= England
place of burial=St. Clement Danes, Westminster, England
father=Canute the Great

Harold Harefoot (c. 1015–17 March 1040) was King of England from 1035 to 1040. His cognomen "Harefoot" was for his speed, and the skill of his huntsmanship [For an explanation of this etymology, see Albert Le Roy Bartlett, "The Essentials of Language and Grammar", Silver, Burdett and Co., 1900, p. 38.] .He was the son of Canute the Great, King of England, Denmark, Norway, and some of the Kingdom of Sweden, through his handfast wife Aelgifu of Northampton. Though there was some scepticism he was really Canute's son."The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle", 1035–40, M. Swanton translation (1996).] , this was probably just propaganda by the opponents of his kingship.

Upon Canute's death (12 November 1035), Harold's younger half-brother Harthacanute, the son of Canute and his queen, Emma of Normandy, was legitimate heir to the thrones of both the Danes and the English. He was, however, unable to travel to his coronation, because his Danish kingdom was under threat of invasion by King Magnus I of Norway and King Anund Jacob of Sweden. England's magnates ["Earl Leofric and almost all the thegns north of the Thames, and the men of the fleet in London"] favoured the idea of installing Harold Harefoot temporarily as regent, due to the difficulty of Harthacanute's absence, and despite the opposition of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, and the Queen, he eventually wore the crown.

Harold survived an attempt to unseat him led by Alfred Aetheling and Edward the Confessor, Emma's sons by the long-dead Ethelred the Unready, in 1036. Harold died at Oxford on 17 March 1040, just as Harthacanute was preparing an invasion force of Danes, and was buried at the abbey of Westminster. His body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen bordering the Thames when Harthacanute assumed the throne in June, 1040. [This may have been motivated partly in response to the murder of Alfred, Harthacanute's half-brother, and partly for his perceived theft of the crown.] His supporters later rescued the body, to be buried in a church which was fittingly named St. Clement Danes.

Assumes the throne

In 1037, Emma of Normandy fled to Bruges, in Flanders, and Harold "was everywhere chosen as king". Harold himself is somewhat obscure; the historian Frank Stenton considered it probable that his mother Aelgifu was "the real ruler of England" for part or all of his reign. [Stenton, page 421.]

With the north at least on Harold's side, in adherence to the terms of a deal, which Godwin was part of, Emma was settled in Winchester, with Harthacanute's huscarls. Harold soon "sent and had taken from her all the best treasures" of Canute the Great,Frank Stenton, "Anglo-Saxon England", Oxford University Press (1998 paperback), pages 420–421; quoted segments from the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle".] and the Kingdom of England was practically his.

According to the "Encomium Emmae", though, the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to crown Harold Harefoot. There is evidence that Aelgifu of Northampton was attempting to secure her son's position through bribes to the nobles.Tim Bolton, [http://www.literarydictionary.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1667 "Reign of King Harold Harefoot"] , "The Literary Encyclopedia", May 5, 2006.]

Alfred and Edward's invasion

, with some show of arms. With his bodyguard, according to the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" he intended to visit his mother, Emma, in Winchester, but he may have made this journey for anything other than a family reunion. As the "murmur was very much in favour of Harold", Alfred was captured on the direction of Godwin, now apparently on Harold's side at this point, and the men loyal to Harefoot blinded him. He subsequently died soon after due to the severity of the wounds, his bodyguard similarly treated.


Harold apparently had a son, Elfwine, who became a monk on the continent when he was older. Aelfgifu of Northampton disappears with no trace at this space in time. According to the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle", Harold Harefoot ruled for 4 years and 16 weeks, by which calculation he would have begun ruling two weeks after the death of Canute. ["ASC" manuscript E, 1039 (1040); for the calculation, see Swanton's translation, page 161, note 18.]


External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12271 Harold Harefoot At Find A Grave]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Harold I — ( Harefoot ) died 1040, king of England 1035 40 (son of Canute). * * * known as Harold Harefoot died March 17, 1040, Oxford, Eng. King of England (1035–40). The illegitimate son of Canute the Great, he served as regent of England for his half… …   Universalium

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  • Harold —   [englisch hærld], Könige von England:    1) Harold I., genannt Harold Harefoot [ heərfʊt, »Hasenfuß«], König (seit 1037), ✝ Oxford 17. 3. 1040; illegitimer Sohn Knuts des Großen Nach dessen Tod 1035 zum Regenten für Hardknut ernannt und 1037… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Harold — Harold1 [her′foot΄har′əld] n. [OE Hereweald & Harald < ON Haraldr, both < Gmc * Hariwald, lit., army chief < * harja , army (OE here, OHG heri) + * waldan, to rule: see WIELD] a masculine name: dim. Hal Harold2 [har′əld] 1. died 1040;… …   English World dictionary

  • Harold I — noun illegitimate son of Canute who seized the throne of England in 1037 (died in 1040) • Syn: ↑King Harold I, ↑Harold Harefoot, ↑Harefoot • Instance Hypernyms: ↑King of England, ↑King of Great Britain * * * ( Harefoot ) died 1 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Harefoot — noun illegitimate son of Canute who seized the throne of England in 1037 (died in 1040) • Syn: ↑Harold I, ↑King Harold I, ↑Harold Harefoot • Instance Hypernyms: ↑King of England, ↑King of Great Britain …   Useful english dictionary

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