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Information about reign: King Harold Harefoot

CountryEngland, Anglo-Saxon
From12 November 1035
To17 March 1040
Personal InformationKing Harold Harefoot of England (1016 - 1040)
Description

Harold I (c.1016 - 17 March 1040), also known as Harold Harefoot, was King of England from 1035 to 1040. Harold's nickname "Harefoot" is first recorded as "Harefoh" or "Harefah" in the twelfth century in the history of Ely Abbey, and according to late medieval chroniclers it meant that he was fleet of foot.

The son of Cnut the Great and Ælfgifu of Northampton, Harold was elected regent of England, following the death of his father in 1035. He was initially ruling England in place of his brother Harthacnut, who was stuck in Denmark due to a rebellion in Norway, which had ousted their brother Svein. Although Harold had wished to be crowned king since 1035, Æthelnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to do so. It was not until 1037 that Harold, supported by earl Leofric and many others, was officially proclaimed king. The same year Harold's two step-brothers Edward and Alfred returned to England with a considerable military force, Alfred was captured by earl Godwin, who had him seized and delivered to an escort of men loyal to Harefoot. While en route to Ely he was blinded and soon after died of his wounds.

Harold died in 1040, having ruled just five years; his half-brother Harthacnut soon returned and took hold of the kingdom peacefully. Harold was originally buried in Westminster, but Harthacnut had his body dragged up and thrown into a "fen" (sewer), as well as then thrown into the river Thames, but was after a short time picked up by a fisherman, being immediately taken to the Danes, was honourably buried by them in their cemetery at London.