Surname: "Harefoot" (The Quick)
Parents: Cnut, king of Denmark and England, and Ælfgifu of Northampton
Date of Birth: circa 1015
Reign: 1035 – 1040
Summary: Harold was never meant to rule anything, especially England. His half-brother, Harthacnut, was the chosen successor of their father when King Cnut died in 1035, but the young king was distracted from claiming all of his birthright. Unable to travel to London for his coronation, Harold went instead, agreeing to act as regent for Harthacnut until the latter's arrival. Godwin, earl of Wessex, disagreed with this decision, but they had little power to stop it. Harold seized the crown in 1036 with the support of his mother, Ælfgifu, and by 1037 Harold was in full control of England.
In 1036, Ælfred Æþeling, the son of the former King Æthelred II, and his brother, Edward, arrived to visit the former queen Emma of Normandy. Fearing a coup, Harold captured Ælfred and blinded him. The prince died within days and Edward fled back to the continent with his mother. They settled first in Flanders and then in Normandy. Evidence suggests that Harold's rule was also contested by the archbishop of Canterbury and that his, Ælfgiful mother was using bribery to win over the nobles to his cause. Harold reign came to a sudden end in 1040 while his brother, Harthacnut, was preparing an invasion from Denmark. Little is known about his cause of death or where he was initially buried. His body was later exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a swamp after Harthacnut's coronation. The body was later recovered and reburied in a church in Westminster.
Date of Death: 17 March 1040
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