A son, Harthacnut was born to Canute
. It had been agreed when Canute married Emma that the children of Canute and Emma would succeed to the throne over those of Canute’s earlier marriage.
Harthacnut’s father, Canute, inherited the throne of Denmark when his brother died.
Harthacnut’s sister, Gunhilda, was born to Emma and Canute.
Harthacnut’s father, Canute, became King of Norway. He was now King of England, Denmark and Norway and became referred to as Canute the Great
1028 (late Summer)
Harthacnut aged 10 years was made regent of Denmark He left England for Denmark where his uncle, Earl Ulf, acted as regent for Harthacnut.
1035 (12th November)
King Canute died. Harthacnut succeeded his father as King of Denmark. He was nominated as his successor in England but he was still in Denmark.
Harthacnut’s half-brother Harold
attempted to gain the English crown by claiming that he was the only one of Canute’s sons in England, however, Harthacnut’s mother, Emma of Normandy, pressed her son’s claim. Earl Godwin of Wessex
decided to back Harold Harefoot. The Witan decided that Harold should act as regent. ruling Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia while Emma would act as regent in Wessex.
1035 (late December)
Emma’s sons by her first marriage to Edward
and Alfred, arrived in England. Edward landed at Southampton and Alfred in Kent. It is thought that they had come to take the throne back for their family. Alfred was met at Guildford by Earl Godwin, the most powerful nobleman. However, Earl Godwin had not come to welcome Alfred. He had allied himself to Harold Harefoot, Harthacnut’s half-brother. Instead he seized Alfred, blinded him and then sent him to the monastery at Ely. On hearing of his brother’s capture, Edward returned to Normandy.
1036 (5th February)
Emma’s son, Alfred, died from his injuries.
Harthacnut had still not returned from Denmark to claim the throne and so the English nobles supported Harold’s claim to be King.
Following the decision of the Witan at Oxford to accept Harold I as King, Emma left England and went to Bruges.
1040 (17th March)
King Harold died at the age of 24, possibly from a congenital illness. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Harthacnut.
1040 (17th June)
Harthacnut and his mother, Emma returned to England. They landed at Sandwich accompanied by more than 60 warships.
Harthacnut had been horrified by the murder of his half-brother Alfred in 1036 and after hearing from Earl Godwin that he had acted on Harold I’s orders, Harthacnut ordered that Harold’s body be disinterred, beheaded and thrown in the Thames.
Harthacnut imposed a tax on the English people to pay off the army that he had brought with him in case he had had to fight for the throne. However, this move made him unpopular with the English people.
Having upset the King, Earl Eadwulf of Bernicia requested safe passage to apologise in person. However, Harthacnut did not honour the promise and had Eadwulf murdered.
Harthacnut’s half-brother, Edward, known as Confessor, son of Harthacnut’s mother and Aethelred the Unready
, returned to England. He was named as heir to Harthacnut.
1042 (8th June)