1902 Encyclopedia > King Harold I of England

Harold I of England
(Known as Harefoot)
King of England
(died 1042)

HAROLD I., surnamed Harefoot, king of England, illegitimate son of Canute and Alfgiva of Northampton, was on the death of Canute in 1035 chosen by the witan overlord of England and king of the provinces north of the Thames; and in 1037 he became king of England, when the people of Wessex offered him their crown on Hardicanute refusing to come to England to accept it. In the beginning of Harold's reign Alfred, son of Ethelred, landed in Wessex, with the purpose it is said of asserting his claims to its sovereignty; but, either without the knowledge of Earl Godwine, or with his connivance, he was seized by the agents of Harold and put to death with cruel tortures. Harold also banished Queen Emma from the kingdom. The only other events of importance in his reign are inroads of the Welsh and Scots, which were, however, without effectual results, and in the case of the Scots who laid siege to Durham ended in defeat with heavy loss. Harold died at Oxford, March 10, 1040. It is affirmed by some that Harold made no pretensions to a Christian belief, but this seems an exaggeration, for, whatever may have been his own private opinions, he appears to have conformed generally to the recognized religious customs, and there is one instance at least in which he redressed a wrong done by others to the church.

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