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Initially, it was on a temporary basis as he was ruling in place of his brother Harthacnut who was busy in Denmark as a rebellion had broken out in Norway. Harold Harefoot belonged to the House of Denmark and was Christian by faith. King Harold was called Harefoot because he was a very fast when he used to hunt and was a great huntsman.

Harold Harefoot

He was quick and speedy. But it is believed that the term harefoot was used only in the contemporary world and was not used before the late middle ages.

King Harold: Fact or Fiction (Anglo Saxon Documentary) - Timeline

As per historical chronicles, Harold was the son of a cobbler. There is also a view that negates these claims and according to them, such myths were only created to defame Cnut.

Harthacnut who was the half-brother of Harold Harefoot was the legitimate heir to the throne of England and Denmark after the death of their father Cnut. So it was initially decided to install Harold as a temporary regent or joint monarch due to unavailability of Harthacnut. On Canute's death, Harold promptly took possession of his father's treasure and received the support of Earl Leofric of Mercia and the majority of the Danes. The great council, or Witangemot, meeting at Oxford, confirmed Harold as King, but Ethelnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to crown him.


Ethelnoth is said to have placed the royal sceptre and crown on the altar of a church, possibly at Canterbury Cathedral and offered to perform the ceremony without using any of the royal regalia. He ardently refused to remove the regalia from the altar and forbade other bishops from doing so. Harold rejected the Christian religion in protest, refusing to attend church services while he remained uncrowned.

Queen Emma of Normandy, who had the support of the nobles of Wessex and particularly Earl Godwine , an extremely powerful nobleman who was married to Canute's sister, managed to retain control of Wessex, where Emma acted as regent in the absence of Hardicanute, who himself remained in Denmark. Emma made vigorous attempts to unseat Harold in favour of her son.


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On hearing the news of Canute's death, the sons of Ethelred the Redeless, Edward and Alfred , in exile in Normandy, gathered a fleet and sailed for England. On approaching Southampton, the elder of these, Edward, found the town up in arms against him, unwilling to accept any son of the weak and hated Ethelred.

Edward had little choice but to return to Normandy. Harold's reign was short and brutish. Godwine, accepting the situation, switched sides and deserted Emma of Normandy. Alfred the Atheling, while on a visit to his mother in England, was on his way to Winchester to see her, he was captured by Earl Godwine and his followers dispersed. Alfred was delivered to an escort of men loyal to his step-brother, Harold Harefoot. He was transported on a ship to Ely, where he was blinded while on board.

He suffered an agonizing death at Ely soon after due to the trauma of the wounds. The next morning, Godwin said to Alfred: "I will safely and securely conduct you to London, where the great men of the kingdom are awaiting your coming, that they may raise you to the throne. Then the earl led the prince and his men over the hill of Guildown, which is to the west of Guildford, on the road to Winchester, not London. Perhaps the prince had insisted on continuing his journey to his original destination, his mother's court in Winchester, in any case, Godwin repeated his tempting offer; showing the prince the magnificent panorama from the hill both to the north and to the south, he said: "Look around on the right hand and on the left, and behold what a realm will be subject to your dominion.

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