King Harthacnut of England and Denmark 1018 – 1042

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Father – King Cnut
Mother – Emma of Normandy
Spouse – Not married 
Children – No children
King of England – 1040 – 1042
Predecessor – King Harold Harefoot
Successor – King Edward the Confessor



1018 (during)
A son, Harthacnut was born to Cnut and Emma. It had been agreed when Cnut married Emma that the children of Cnut and Emma would succeed to the throne over those of Cnut’s earlier marriage.
1018 (during)
Harthacnut’s father, Cnut, inherited the throne of Denmark when his brother died.
1020 (during)
Harthacnut’s sister, Gunhilda, was born to Emma and Cnut.
1028 (during)
Harthacnut’s father, Cnut, became King of Norway. He was now King of England, Denmark and Norway and became referred to as Cnut the Great
1028 (late Summer)
Harthacnut, son of Emma and Cnut, was made regent of Denmark at the age of 10 years. He left England for Denmark shortly afterwards. Cnut’s brother-in-law Earl Ulf acted as regent for Harthacnut.
1035 (12th November)
King Cnut died. Harthacnut was nominated as his successor but he was absent from England in Denmark where he was regent of the country.
1035 (December)
Harthacnut’s half-brother Harold attempted to gain the crown claiming that he was the only one of Cnut’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 for Harthacnut.
1035 (late December)
Emma’s sons by her marriage to Aethelred, 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 since he had allied himself to Harold Harefoot, Cnut’s son from his first marriage. Instead he seized Alfred, blinded him and then sent him to the monastery at Ely. On hearing of his brother’s capture, Edward returned ot Normandy.
1036 (5th February)
Emma’s son, Alfred, died from his injuries.
1037 (during)
Harthacnut had still not returned from Denmark to claim the throne and so the English nobles supported Harold’s claim to be King.
1037 (late)
Following the decision of the Witan at Oxford to accept Harold I as King, Emma left England and went to Bruges.
1040 (17th March)
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.
1040 (late)
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.
1041 (during)
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.
1041 (during)
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.
1041 (during)
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)
King Harthacnut died. Edward the Confessor became King.



Published Feb 3, 2016 @ 3:45 pm – Updated – Mar 14, 2018 @ 2:45 pm


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2016 – 2018). King Harthacnut of England and Denmark 1018 – 1042. Available: Last Accessed March 30th, 2019


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