Almanac – March 17

1040 – Harold Harefoot died. King of England from 1035 to 1040. His cognomen “Harefoot” referred to his speed, and the skill of his huntsmanship.

 He was the younger son of Cnut the Great, king of England, Denmark, and Norway by his first wife, Ælfgifu of Northampton, although  Florence of Worcester (12th century) claimed  that Ælfgifu wanted to have a son by the king but was unable to, so she secretly adopted the newborn children of strangers and pretended to have given birth to them. Harold was reportedly the son of a cobbler, while his brother Svein Knutsson was the illegitimate son of a priest. Its probably a myth.

Harold died at Oxford,  of “a mysterious illness”, although an Anglo-Saxon charter attributes the illness to divine judgment…not least because he’d alledgedly defrauded some monks out of land that they had their covetous eyes on.

He was buried at Westminster Abbey… for a while.  His body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen bordering the Thames when Harthacnut assumed the throne in June 1040.

 The body was  recovered by a fishermen, and resident Danes reportly had it reburied at their local cemetery in London, before it was eventually buried in a church in the City of Westminster, St. Clement Danes.

 A contradictory account in the Knýtlinga saga (13th century) reports Harold buried in the city of Morstr, alongside his half-brother Harthacnut and their father Cnut. While mentioned as a great city in the text, nothing else is known of Morstr.

 

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