Harold (Harefoot)


b. c. 1016/1017
d. 17 Mar 1040, Oxford

Title: Rex (King) (see note on royal styles)
Term: after 12 Nov 1035 - 17 Mar 1040
Chronology: after 12 Nov 1035, chosen as king north of the River Thames with regency over all England [1]; not consecrated [?] (see note on consecrations)
  1037, recognized king of all England
  17 Mar 1040, died
Names/titles: Byname: Harefoot

Harold was the son of King Cnut and Ælfgifu, who was considered by contemporaries not quite legitimate as Cnut married the widow of King Æthelred Unræd, Emma, in 1017. Cnut was concerned that his other son, Harthacnut, succeed him in England in compliance with his pre-marital agreement with Emma. In absence of Harthacnut, who was in Denmark, Harold was recognized as king north of the River Thames. The meeting of Witan at Oxford confirmed Harold's regency over all England, but it took two more years (1037) before he was recognized 'as king everywhere'. Harold was kept responsible for the murder of Ælfred (1036/1037), a younger son of Æthelred Unræd, who was seen as another royal claimant. There was not much recorded of Harold's reign except for a dispute with the church over the ownership of lands at Sandwich. Biography sources: [2][3][4][5]

[1] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives Harold a reign of "four years and sixteen weeks", i.e. his reign was considered to begin on a date c. 25 Nov 1035.
[2] Handbook of British Chronology (1986)
[3] "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," ed. and trans. by G.N. Garmonsway (Everyman Press, London, 1953, reissued 1972, 1994).
[4] "The Blackwell Encyclopædia of Anglo-Saxon England", ed. by Michael Lapidge (Oxford, Blackwell, 1999).
[5] "Encomium Emmae Reginae", edited by Alistair Campbell (Royal Historical Society, London 1949).
  Image: coin of King Harold (obverse legend: HAROLD RECX+).
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:56:10