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Harthacanute

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Hörthaknútr, called Harthacanute or Canute the Hardy (1018 - June 8, 1042) was King of Denmark from 1035, and King of England from 1040 until his death. He was the only son of Knútr inn ríki and his second wife, Emma of Normandy, and was raised to the Danish throne upon the death of his father.

A war in Scandinavia against Magnus I of Norway occupying him, he agreed that his elder half-brother Harald Harefoot should be his regent in England. But Harald took the English crown for himself in 1037, because Harthacanute had been too long in Denmark, and Emma was forced to flee to Flanders.

Harthacanute settled his difficulties with Magnus by treaty in 1039, which stated that they agreed that if one of them were to die without an heir the other should be his successor. Harthacanute then began to prepare for an invasion of England, and the deposition of Harald from the kingship. Harald, however, died on March 17, 1040, before any conquest could occur. Harthacanute was then invited to England, and the landing at Sandwich on June 17, 1040, seven days before Midsummer, with a fleet of 62 warships was a peaceful one. He then did scornfully command Harold's body to be taken from its tomb and cast in a fen with the animals.

Harthacanute was a harsh and unpopular ruler: to pay for his fleet, he severely increased the rate of taxation, and in 1041 the people of Worcester killed two of his huscarls who had been collecting the tax, prompting an attack by the King in which the city was burned. It is said that in response to this and other cruelties Godgifu, the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in protest.

In 1041 Harthacaute broke a pledge of safe conduct to Earl Eadwulf of Northumbria, earning him a reputation as a betrayer and oathbreaker. But also in 1041, he invited his half-brother Edward the Confessor (his mother Emma's son by Ethelred the Unready,) back from exile in Normandy to become a member of his household, and made Edward his heir.

Harthacanute was unmarried and had no children, though is rumoured he fathered more than one bastard. On June 8, 1042, he died at Lambeth as he stood at his drink, and was buried at Winchester, his father's place of rest, and his mother's, on her death. Edward thus assumed the throne, restoring thee Saxon royal line of Wessex.

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