Harold Harefoot

Harold I Harefoot
King of England
Reign November 12, 1035 – March 17, 1040
Born 1012-1016
Died March 17, 1040
Buried St Clement Danes Church, Westminster
Married Never married
Parents Canute the Great

Harold I Harefoot (c. 1012 – March 17, 1040) was King of England from 1037 to 1040. He was the son of King Canute of Denmark and England and his concubine Aelgifu. He earned the name "Harefoot" for his speed and skill at hunting.

Harold's younger half-brother Harthacanute, the son of Canute and his queen Emma of Normandy, was legitimate heir to the thrones of both Denmark and England at Canute's death (1035). However, because Denmark was threatened with invasion from Norway, he was unable to travel to his coronation and instead sent as regents Emma and his half-brother son of Cnut and his first wife Elgifu.

Harold took effective power in England and secured recognition by Harthacanute (1036) as regent during the latter's absence in Denmark.

Harold and Emma bitterly argued over who should govern the kingdom. The powerful Earl Godwin sided with Harold, and in 1037, Emma having fled, Harold seized the treasury at Winchester and thus the throne, and was crowned at Oxford. Little is known about his reign, and other than the fact that he usurped the throne, he appears to have been a colourless and weak character. The historian Frank Stenton

(Anglo-Saxon England) considered it probable that his mother was "the real ruler of England" for part or all of his reign.

His period of rule is associated with the blinding and death of Alfred the Aethling, Emma's son by Ethelred, following Alfred's return to the kingdom (possibly in an attempt to take the throne) with his brother Edward. Harold never married, but he had an illegitimate son, Elfwine, who became a monk on the continent.

Harold died at Oxford in March 1040, just as Harthacanute was preparing an invasion. He was buried at St Clement Danes Church, Westminster, but Harthacanute later had the body exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen bordering the Thames, probably in response to the murder of Alfred, Harthacanute's half-brother.

Preceded by:
Canute the Great
King of England
Succeeded by:
Monarchs of England
Alfred | Edward the Elder | Ethelweard | Athelstan | Edmund I | Edred | Edwy | Edgar I | Edward the Martyr | Ethelred | Sweyn I*† | Edmund II | Canute*† | Harthacanute* | Harold I | Edward the Confessor | Harold II | Edgar II | William I | William II | Henry I | Stephen | Matilda | Henry II | Richard I | John | Henry III | Edward I | Edward II | Edward III | Richard II | Henry IV | Henry V | Henry VI | Edward IV | Edward V | Richard III | Henry VII | Henry VIII‡ | Edward VI‡ | Jane‡ | Mary I‡ | Elizabeth I‡ | James I‡§ | Charles I‡§ | Interregnum | Charles II‡§ | James II‡§ | William III‡§¶ and Mary II‡§ | Anne‡§
* Also Monarch of Denmark | † Also Monarch of Norway | ‡Also Monarch of Ireland | § Also Monarch of Scotland | ¶ Also Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel and Drenthe

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